Elminster's Guide to the Realms
by Ed Greenwood, illustrated by David Day, (Dragon #304)
Most folk are familiar with grain mills that stand beside streams and use water to turn their creaking waterwheels. Many of these mills exist throughout Cormyr, Sembia, the Dales, the Vast, and the Western Heartlands. Yet there are also thousands of unconventional mills in farm backlands across Faerûn. These mills pop up where water is scarce or where the land lies so low that a millpond would likely cause flooding.
One better-known "waterless mill" is Jongrath's Mill in the countryside of Tethyr. It's a day's ride east of Krennashar, in the vast expanse of what travelers on the Trade Way sometimes call Lower Tethyr. Some parts of the county of Bardshyr, in the Duchy of the Purple Marches, are well watered, but other areas have stretches where water lies deep and must be drawn up from wells. In these areas, livestock clusters around muddy waterholes, and streams are but tiny trickles, certainly not strong enough to turn a mill's wheel.
Ilmurk Jongrath (CG male human Exp6/War2) makes his home, and his livelihood, in a deep-water area, where water-powered mills are out of the question. Jongrath owns a number of draft horses - great lumbering giants, patient, stolid, and capable of carrying and moving great burdens if harnessed properly - that he uses to power his mill rather than water.
WHAT MEETS The EYE
Jongrath has let much of his grazing land return to scrub saplings and shrubs - a ready source of kindling and fence-poles when he must clear it. The miller uses stones and stumps for border fences, and otherwise lets his livestock roam freely around the property. Those stumps have given Jongrath's farm its local name: Stump Hill.
A visitor to Stump Hill finds not only grazed wilderlands, but a small, neat cottage, sturdy but unadorned wooden stables, and a mill-shed with wood-shingled roofs, all gathered around the millrun: a circular patch of hoof-trodden dirt with a gigantic spoked wheel at its center.
Wooden angle-braces hold up a wood collar that in turn holds a barrel-sized central shaft (made up of many tree-trunks bound together with strapping) upright as it turns in a smooth stone socket.
Wooden tripod-braces hold a horizontal shaft in position overhead as it reaches over the horsepath to hold a toothed cogwheel interlocked with the spokes of the upright shaft. As the upright shaft turns, it turns the cogwheel and thus turns its shaft. The far end of the shaft vanishes into the mill shed, where grinding can be completed under cover from harsh weather and hungry birds.
When he's milling, Jongrath's horses walk endlessly in a circle, harnessed to the bars of the central capstan that protrude like spokes on a wheel. Their efforts turn the overhead cogwheel whose teeth are interlocked with the capstan-spokes and in turn spins the shaft linked to it. At the far end of that shaft, inside the mill shed, is a millstone that grinds against another stationary millstone - and by means of another shaft - mounted toothed wheel, at the same time operates a pump that lifts deep water to surface troughs, to water Jongrath's stock.
From time to time cogs wear or break off wheels, but Jongrath grinds grain into flour for his neighboring farmers and so has plenty of coin saved up to pay for repairs by stonemasons in Myratma or Port Kir. In fact, several of the millstones and cogwheels that he claims have broken are hidden under sacks of flour stored in his shed and are actually unused spares ready for him to put into service when real breakage occurs.
Whenever a sturdy tree becomes available, Jongrath cuts it and adds it to the replacement central shaft he's building in the mill shed. Made of numerous thick trunks strapped together and then soaked in oil to keep them from rotting, the shaft rests on trestles at one end of the mill shed, waiting for the day when the old shaft starts to crack and needs replacing.
Jongrath doesn't make all of his coin from milling and stock sales - he's something of an entrepreneur who has at least two other sources of income. After his wife died, Jongrath found their house lonely, so he moved into the mill shed, where he sleeps atop his valuables and has his horses nearby in the stables. This has left his small but pleasantly furnished house empty. Jongrath now rents out the house to merchants who come cattle buying and need a place to stay. Since there's no inn nearby, he makes a decent wage from the rent.
Jongrath also delights in painting and runs a profitable part-time business of limning heraldic arms and badges onto shields, armor, wooden plaques, and coach doors. A simple shield (for a retainer or man-at-arms) costs about 6 gp, less if the shield uses no more than two colors. A typical knight's shield bearing a large and intricate blazon costs 20 gp (25 gp for a rush order). He follows the same pricing structure for body armor but adds an additional 5 gp on top of those listed for shields.
Nobles of Tethyr consider such prices to be splendid bargains since heralds add several hundreds of gold pieces to Jongrath's prices. He doesn't do work on fabrics but sometimes designs arms for those who want him to, and he does touch-up work on scarred or dirty arms brought to him (3 gp for small items, 12 gp for large items).
The practice that gets Jongrath in the most trouble with local heralds is his design work - which infringes (or so they claim) on their exclusive expertise. Jongrath cheerfully acknowledges that the heralds are the experts but says there's nothing "exclusive" about heraldry that gives them the sole right to make designs. As evidence in favor of this view, he points out the thousands of crafter's marks that furniture-carvers, bottle-blowers, and weavers all across Faerûn work into their wares (distinctive marks or badges that heralds have neither designed nor approved).
Jongrath openly invites heralds to examine his work for mistakes and asserts that they won't find any. A herald might well have designed something differently than he did, but his designs aren't wrong.
None of these arguments have persuaded the local heralds Aldrur Heriburt (LN male human Exp8), based in Myratma, and Chastus Beldrorn (LN male human Exp5/War1), based in Darrowmar, to desist in their efforts to have Jongrath fined, jailed, and prohibited by duchal decree from practicing any form of blazonry.
Although the two heralds are pompous, persistent men with wealth and ready access to officials on their side, the Duchess of the Purple Marches is amused by Jongrath, whom she visits on occasions when she goes incognito as Lady Farefar and rents his house while she goes hawking. She refuses to sign any such decree that Heriburt and Beldrorn place before her.
The two heralds aren't of the exalted ranks of heralds who work regularly for the nobility, keep rolls of arms for a realm, and administer realm-wide heraldic law, but they furiously defend what little authority they have, which happens to be registration of blazonry practiced by non-nobles in the Purple Marches (such as ship's banners, trading coster badges and symbols, millers' marks on sacking, and so on). Jongrath offends them, and they're determined to have him punished and put out of all heraldic affairs.
Jongrath is in turn irritated by the stiff letters and personal rudeness the heralds have offered him - in particular, an expedition led by Beldorn in which hireswords tried to seize several freshly emblazoned shields drying in Jongrath's stables and retreated only after the miller had been forced to pin several mercenary arms and wrists to shed-posts with shafts from his crossbow. Jongrath is determined not to let the heralds dictate to him in any way, and he finds every possible opportunity to needle and annoy them.
A bitter battle has now erupted between the heralds and Jongrath. The latest turn of events is that the heralds have been spreading rumors that Jongrath is a thief, a Calishite agent, and a rebel seeking to overthrow the new regime in Tethyr. Jongrath, in response, has invited King Haedrak to personally investigate "all the doings and practices of me, Ilmurk Jongrath, of Stump Hill, with an eye to establishing my personal loyalty to the crown and clearing my name of the aspersions cast by increasingly dishonest and immoderate heralds."
King Haedrak is reported to have replied verbally (when Jongrath's letter was read to him), "I'm rather busy right now, but tell the good miller that I've every confidence in him and shall continue to do so until I personally find evidence otherwise. He should await my visit, in the next year or two, and continue to enjoy his good name entirely untrammeled until that time."
'Tis folk like Ilmurk Jongrath that make dwelling in the Realms such a delight: stubborn and inventive, desiring to be commanded by no one and yet with no ambition to rule or oppress others. I know a thing or three about heraldry - several of the tomes the High Heralds consult were compiled by me some centuries back using a spell that duplicates a drawing in hue and shape, creating an identical work of the original - and Jongrath's claims are true: No self-granted charter can give any herald exclusive rights to anything (except where a royal grant, warrant, or charter gives that herald or a body of heralds exclusive rights within a realm, city, or territory that the grantor has lawful writ over), and Jongrath's designs contain no heraldic mistakes. Most of them are so simple, mind, that it would be hard to find room to make a mistake. As for his battles with the heralds - well, ahem; in his comportment, know ye, he reminds me of . . . me.
A rumor persists that the mill houses a powerful shield left behind by a cleric who was killed in battle before she could return to pay Jongrath for his heraldic work. Indeed, Jongrath does retain items when his clients are unable to pay him or fail to return for the finished product, and many of them are worth a pretty penny. One such item is a large steel shield that looks rather ordinary in its design. Looks are deceiving in this case, for despite its plain appearance, the shield houses powerful magic. Jongrath has heard the rumors, and always the honorable businessman, he's taken great pains to hide the shield, hoping that his client will return one day to claim it.
SHIELD OF SENSES
This +1 animated, fire resistance large steel shield automatically confers remove blindness/deafness twice per day when the wearer is exposed to an attack that causes blindness or deafness, whether the effect is normal or magical in nature.
Caster level: 12th: Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, animate objects, remove blindness/deafness, resist elements: Market Price: 49,170 gp; Cost to Create: 24,585 gp + 1,966 XP.