Archive for December 9th, 2013

The Destruction of the City of Tarnwald

Monday, December 9th, 2013


by Lady Wendie and Rarius Yuroki

On the third day of the fifth month of the year 10164 contasta Ar it was early afternoon, lady Wendie, scribe to the House of Yuroki, sat making notes of the days trade for the banker Yuroki . Suddenly her attention was drawn to a cloud of unusual size and appearance some pasangs from the mountains of Tarnwald . She called the slaves for her shoes, then with her slave Jill she climbed to a place which would give her the best vantage point of the phenomenon. Still a distance from the event,she was not clear from which mountain the cloud was rising. its general appearance can best be expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the initial blast then left unsupported as the eruption subsided, it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. In places it looked white, elsewhere blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ash it carried with it.

As Rarius Yuroki was leaving the village near the docks of Tarnwald he was handed a message from Lady Catarina, a free woman of the city, whose house was at the foot of the huge mountain three pasangs from Tarnwald, escape for her was impossible except by boat. She was terrified by the danger threatening her.

Lady Wendie seeing people leaving, hurried to the place which everyone else was hastily leaving, gaining her ship she ordered the captain to steer a course straight for the danger zone. She was entirely fearless, describing each new movement and phase of the portent she noted down exactly as she observed them. Ashes were already falling, hotter and thicker as the ships drew near, as she neared the conflagration the ash was followed by bits of pumice and blackened stones, charred and cracked by the flames: Suddenly they were in shallow water, and the shore was blocked by the debris from the mountain.

For a moment lady Wendie wondered whether to turn back, but when the warriors advised this she refused, telling them that fortune stood by the courageous and they must make for the outskirts of Tarnwald where Her friend and employer Yuroki was with his boats.

It was clear to her that there was no serious danger until the ash cloud came nearer anchoring the boats to avoid the turbulent water she waited for her employer knowing he would come.

Rarius Yuroki had gone to the shore and placed his belongings on board ship, intending to escape if the contrary wind fell. This wind was of course full in their favour, and he was able to bring his ship “Ina” in closer.

Meanwhile on the volcano broad sheets of fire leapt high starting fires at several points, their bright glare emphasized by the darkness of night. Rarius Yuroki tried to allay the fears of his companions by repeatedly declaring that these were nothing but bonfires left by the peasants in their terror, or else empty houses on fire in the districts they had abandoned.

The citizens debated whether to stay indoors or take their chance in the open, for the buildings were now shaking as violent after shocks caused more damage, once sturdy buildings were swaying to and fro as if they were torn from their foundations. Outside, on the other hand, there was the danger of failing pumice stones, even though these were light and porous; however, after comparing the risks they chose the latter. As a protection against falling objects they put pillows on their heads tied down with cloths.

Elsewhere there was daylight by this time, but they were still in darkness, blacker and denser than any ordinary night, this they relieved by lighting torches and various kinds of lamp to supplement the burning fires. Rarius Yuroki decided to go down to the docks and investigate the possibility of any escape by the river, but he found the waves still wild and dangerous.

Then the flames and smell of sulphur which gave warning of the approaching fire drove the others to take flight.

Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. We looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.’Let us leave the dock and take our chances on the sea Yuroki shouted to his men

You could hear the shrieks of women and slaves, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.

There were people, too, who added to the real perils by inventing fictitious dangers: some reported that part of of the city walls of Tarnwald had collapsed or another parts were on fire. A gleam of light returned, but we took this to be a warning of the approaching flames rather than daylight. However, the flames remained some distance off; then darkness came on once more and ashes began to fall again, this time in heavy showers. We cleaned the ships from time to time to prevent the weight of the ash sinking the vessels.

The next morning – it was the third day of the fifth month – the proud city of Tarnwald had been completely destroyed and the thick walls and all houses were covered by black ashes. Only the village at the outskirts is left now along with the memories of the terrible night. Yuroki met with his scribe and recounted their experiences Sadness dampened their spirits at the loss of a once great city.

[from the NEW VOICE OF GOR volume 3, issue 136]