Session date: Monday, February 9, 2015
Game date: Saturday, February 9, 208
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 14, xp 2422/4000
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 2244/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 1, hp 3, xp 1150/2200
Caryatid, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 2169/2500
Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 862/1500
Rutger, Fighter 1, hp 9, xp 17/2000
Ylil, Thief 1, hp 3, xp 684/1200
Finally, the players turned their focus towards the bank and government halls that they were rumored to lie to the southwest of the central square. They had heard multiple rumors of a magical bank vault, and Professor Zinn had repeatedly offered to purchase any historical documents or records from them. (Yes, I have ways both subtle and not so subtle to encourage the players to explore the more interesting areas of the dungeon map!) Twiffle was still recovering from the virulent centipede venom, so Gulleck chose Rutger to accompany him once more. Velvet apparently wasn't impressed by Tyrriel's leadership last week and was nowhere to be found, and Wilhelm was still away, so Tyrriel decided to just go it alone this week. Ah, these players are getting bolder by the week!
Descending below the Rusty Lantern, the party followed the back alley south that led behind the temple district, but turned off at a narrow crevice in the western wall, a twisty tunnel that seemed to have been created by natural cave-ins. The tunnel wound roughly to the southwest, and opened up into a small wider space where they found a narrow shaft descending deeper into the ground, and a much smaller channel opening up in the ceiling. A thin trickle of smoke wafted up continuously from the natural chimney. It had an exotic, spicy smell to it, perhaps like cardamom and cloves. Someone tossed a rock down the chimney, and they listened to it clatter down the twisty shaft. Tyrriel thought for a moment she might have heard a deep grunt or sigh from far below, but it was hard to tell if it was just her imagination.
Leaving this natural chimney for the moment, the group continued to the southwest, where the natural tunnels opened into a partially collapsed room. They emerged into the ruins of a restaurant kitchen. A door to the west took them through a ruined hallway into the restaurant's dining room, the northern half buried in rubble and debris.
Leaving the restaurant, the group found themselves in another wide, grand avenue, lined with imposing buildings with impressive marble facades. Inscriptions on the buildings read (in Ancient Idalian): "First Imperial Bank of Idalium", "Hall of Records", and "High Court of Idalium". At the end of the avenue to the south was a partially open wrought iron gate. An ornate sign at the top read, "Through these gates all must pass in their own time." "Must be the cemetery," thought these hardened D&D players. "Not going in there!"
In the Bank of Idalium, the party found a once-elegant lobby with a large wooden teller's counter. It looked to have been thoroughly looted at one time, but they spent time searching the drawers and shelves anyway, looking for secret compartments, false bottoms, etc. Their persistence paid off, and Gulleck found a large iron key below a false bottom in one of the drawers. It was engraved "2036".
Past the lobby, the group entered a room with a few chairs and reading tables. On the far wall, an enormous metal door stood open, and within it a small room appeared to have been completely plundered, full of smashed chests and boxes. The group was momentarily disappointed, but then they discovered that the vault door had an iron key in its lock - very much like the one Gulleck had found, only this one was labeled "1572". It would not come out of the lock, but when they pushed the door shut with some effort and turned the key in the lock, it then came out. Gulleck put the other key in, turned it, and pulled the door open, and they found the room inside the vault was different. Now there were no chests or boxes, but a stone pedestal standing in the center of the room, with a metal lockbox (about as big as a shoebox) sitting on top of it.
Ylil cautiously stepped up to the pedestal and examined it carefully. He noted that there was a seam of some sort on the surface of the pedestal surrounding the lockbox. All sorts of discussion broke out at this point among the players. Was it better to just try to open the box here? Obviously there was some kind of trap here, but what? Tod was in favor of replacing the box with a bag of rocks or something, but when he ventured an exploratory prod at the pedestal top, he noted that it quivered alarmingly, so that plan was discarded as too risky. Eventually, they settled on tying a rope around the box and giving it a quick yank from a theoretically safe distance. When they did this, however, a barred cage slammed down from the ceiling around the pedestal, so fast that the box was slammed up against the bars of the cage and trapped inside. At the same time, an alarm bell begin ringing loudly and furiously.
Although the bell threatened to bring every knocker and orc in this place down upon the adventurers, Ylil managed to quickly find the secret compartment in the wall that concealed the bell, and cut the mechanism that was making it ring. Once silence fell, they set to lifting the metal cage enough to pull the box through, and then brought the box back into the lobby to consider. There was a small keyhole on the front, but they had no key, so the decision was made to pry it open with a crowbar. Ylil levered it open while Gulleck stood over his shoulder watching impatiently. Suddenly, there was the sound of glass cracking, and a yellow-green gas sprayed forth from the chest. Both Ylil and Gulleck choked and retched and gasped for breath, but eventually the air cleared and they were left short of breath but still alive.
The metal box contained quite the treasure haul! A velvet pouch with a handful of precious gemstones, a scroll of several arcane spells, a crystal vial full of a strangely twinkling liquid, a brown glass vial with a paper label that said "Drink Me", and a preserved fruitcake wrapped in wax paper, with nuts spelling out "Eat Me" on its top. There was rejoicing around the room, and all of the goodies were tucked away for later.
Next they hit up the hall of records. The lobby here had a fountain full of stagnant water and several hundred tarnished coins. Tod greedily picked out all of the gold pieces. The party moved on down a hall, looking for documents and records that they could sell to the professor. In an office, they stumbled on a group of orcs. The hideous subhuman beastmen were trashing the place, but upon seeing the adventurers, one screamed out "Meat!" and lunged for them with rusty swords. Tyrriel's magic put the orcs to sleep and they were swiftly dispatched with little mercy.
Finally, they found the records room itself, a large room lined with shelves, sadly full of charred and burnt scraps of paper. There had clearly been a massive fire here at some point, and the smell of smoke still lingered faintly in the air. Nonetheless, the group began to search through the remnants, hoping to find some intact documents that would be worth something. But an odd feeling came over them as they searched. Every time they thought they might have found something, it would turn out to be a burnt scrap of paper. Meanwhile, Tod was developing a growing sensation of guilt, as if someone or something was very upset with him for something he had done. Eventually, he thought to return the gold coins to the fountain in the lobby (along with a couple extra of his own by way of apology), and when he had done that and returned, they all found their searched went much better, and Tod's feelings of guilt lifted.
While they were searching, a group of knockers appeared in the doorway, blinking and scowling at them. Gulleck had nocked a bolt in his crossbow a few minutes earlier, before they had entered this room, and without a word he shot it directly into the forehead of the horrible withered gnome-like monster. The rest of the knockers scrambled and scurried away in fear. Gulleck returned to his search with some satisfaction.
They spent the best part of an hour here, and recovered several folders full of deeds, loan records, and other documents, but even better than that was a scroll that seemed to be an invocation of protection against the undead. Best yet was an ornately carved wand, wrapped in a vellum document that said it had been confiscated from a sorcerer in the underground residences, for abusive use against other citizens. It was described as being able to create an overwhelming feeling of fear in its targets.
As the adventurers were wrapping up their search, a scraggly group of men dressed in ragged leather armor walked into the records rooms and eyed them hesitantly. "Who're you guys?" "Archaeologists!" chirped Tyrriel. The men glanced nervously at the assorted suits of plate mail, two-handed swords, etc., and at the dead knocker in the doorway with a crossbow bolt protruding from its forehead. "What kind of archaeologists are you guys?"
Eventually, the two groups parted company and the party headed up the avenue to the courthouse and explored inside. They didn't find much there, except a witness booth with a sign that said, "Speak no falsehood in this place," and when Tod stood in the booth and tried to tell a lie, he found himself unable to speak! They also found an odd metal cone, like a hearing aid, sitting on the rail of the witness stand. They took this along with them, though they weren't sure if it was of any use.
In the judge's chambers behind the courtroom, they ran into a small party of gnomes, who had apparently become lost and were frantically trying to make sense of their maps. "I think this page lines up with this other side here... no, wait, the corridors don't match up correctly. And why is this page folded over like this?!" Gulleck shared some wine with the gnomes, and they were delighted to see some friendly faces. It was getting late, anyway, so they escorted the gnomes back to the town square and pointed them back to their hideout in the mines. One of the gnomes gave Gulleck a nice little moonstone in thanks for his help.
Returning to the Rusty Lantern, the party eagerly liquidated the gemstones they had recovered and split their earnings. It was indeed a substantial amount of treasure, and provided enough experience points for Caryatid to achieve level 2! With Gulleck not far behind, it may soon become time for the party to turn their attention towards the deeper levels of the dungeons below Idalium...