(April 29, 2009)
9th to 21st of Birth, 721 IA
The wind howled.
Outside the Ghostly Minstrel, rain battered against the windows. Linech’s watch sat in the center of the table, the torchlight of the inn’s common room glinting off its gold case.
Over dinner, many options for the watch’s future were discussed. Finally, a decision was made: return the watch to its owner in exchange for the Golden Statue, and trust that the seals placed by the Pale Tower would hold the demon in check until the watch could be retrieved and stored in the Suppression Vaults for all time.
The next morning, The Party arrived at Castle Shard mysteriously close to breakfast time. As always, the Majordomo, Kadmus, was present to welcome them and escort them to the main hall. There, the Party graciously accepted the castle’s offer of food and sat down to a delicious, if simple, meal.
The Party explained to Lord Zevere that they had arranged to obtain the statue from Linech, but would need a way to transport the statue back to Castle Shard. Lord Zevere offered them the loan of an Animated Cart, capable of transporting a one-ton Golden Statue from Rivergate back to the Castle. When the Party further explained that the statue was on the second floor of a building, Kadmus produced a small statuette of a figure lifting a large stone, explaining that its magic should suffice to get the statue into the cart.
There was a chill in the air and a faint sprinkling of rain kept the streets of Ptolus slick as the Party arrived at Toridan’s Burrow at the back of Rivergate. The Burrow was practically teeming with Linech’s henchmen, all of whom seemed on edge and ill at ease. However, the few who took notice of the Party’s arrival paid them little heed, pointing them on towards Linech’s office at the back of the Burrow.
In his office on the second floor, Linechwas in an ill mood. Seanus stood by the front door of the room, nervously fidgeting with a dagger. Linech’s dwarven bodyguard stood against the wall behind the desk, fingering his axe. Linech’s girfriend lay across a couch, seemingly unconscious as the Golden Statue loomed over her.
As the Party entered the room, Linech pulled his well-chewed cigar from his mouth.
“Well, fellas? Ya got the watch?”
Geist stepped forward and placed the watch on the table. Entering last, Lucius took the opportunity to cast Detect Thoughts while no one else was looking.
“Here it is. And you’ll be relieved to hear that the other issue has been… taken care of.”
Linech was visibly relieved. He picked up the watch and sat in his chair with an audible sigh.
“Good work, my boys! That’s tragic, of course, but at least you got me this back, right?”
Waving his cigar over the watch, Linech began to grumble an incantation.
“Object Loresight,” muttered Lucius under his breath, having read the spell from the surface of Linech’s mind. “Good thing we delivered the original.”
His spell completed, Linech looked back up at the Party, his face a beaming smile.
“Excellent work, my lads! Excellent!” He waved at the dwarf, who produced a case. The dwarf opened the case, revealing it to be full of gold pieces.
“I believe this should settle things, what?”
“And the statue,” Geist said, nodding in the statue’s direction.
“Quite so! Quite so. I’m sorry to see such a fine piece go, but a deal’s a deal, right my lads? You have a way to get it out of here, I take it?”
In answer, Mathius broke the figurine in front of the statue. Briefly surrounded by a nimbus of light and the faint outline of a figure holding it up, the larger statue became unencumbered by its own weight and floated gently from the floor.
“Well, excellent, my boys!” said Linech. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a minor business meeting to attend to, so…” he gestured towards the door.
The party removed themselves and the statue to the cart. The left the Barrow with the statue, leaving behind Linech talking in an excited whisper with the dwarf – and Geist hidden in the shadows of the Barrow’s street.
As the rest of the Party sped towards Castle Shard with their winnings, Geist waited patiently to see what Linech’s next move would be. He didn’t have long to wait – not ten minutes after the Party’s cart has vanished from sight did Linech, the dwarf, and a half-dozen other legbreakers climb into Linech’s carriage and speed out of the Burrow. Geist jogged after them and then flagged down a passing cab with instructions to follow at a discrete distance.
Linech’s carraige finally stopped in front of a large tavern on Midtown’s Tavern Row. A sign above the door named the place as the Onyx Spider. Linech and his henchmen hurried inside.
Geist gave the place a once-over: a large, two story building. Lots of windows, but all of them shuttered with thick curtains. He returned to his cab, and showed a coin to the driver.
“Know anything about this place?”
“Officially? No one knows anything about that place. Unofficially?” the driver looked pointedly at the coin in Geist’s hand. “That’s the kind of place you go if you have business to do you’d rather not, ah, pay taxes on, ya follow? Especially with, shall we say, businessmen of… some renown?”
“I understand. This is yours if you can tell me where they went in there and who they’re meeting with.” He slapped the coin into the driver’s hand.
The driver nodded and headed into the building. Geist sat in the cab to wait.
The Party arrived at Castle Shard to find Kadmus again standing in the entrance waiting for them. He smiled in greeting.
“The Lord and Lady will be more than overjoyed to have this statue returned to them. You have their thanks.” He waved at the cart, which wheeled itself into the depths of the castle.
“The Lords have instructed me to pay you your well-deserved rewards,” he said, handing a leather wallet to the Party, “as well as their thanks.”
Satisfied with a decent morning’s work the Party returned to the Ghostly Minstrel.
The cab driver emerged from the Onyx Spider wiping his mouth. Geist seized his arm.
“Took you long enough! Did you have to drink the entire bar, or just the entire selection of Palastani whiskeys?”
The driver shrugged. “Had to get an ale or two. Would’a looked suspicious otherwise.”
“Fine. Where are they?”
“The half-orc and the dwarf went straight into the far back right booth. The rest of the gang spread out and ordered a round of drinks. Didn’t drink all that much, just sipped at them and looked nervous.”
“Who was Linech meeting with?”
“Couldn’t see, gov, sorry. The curtain was drawn, and they only opened it enough to step though. Couldn’t tell who was on the other side. That’s all I know. Can I give you a ride anywhere?”
“Well, since you didn’t even do what I paid you for, drop me off at Delver’s Square and we’ll call it even.”
The Party reconvened in the common room of the Ghostly Minstrel. Confident that the watch was secure for the time being, they turned their attention to the ceremonies they had been neglecting. After a week’s preparation, Val spent an entire day in his room chanting. Geist and Mathius spent their time crafting a new firearm to replace the increasingly battered dragon rifle Geist had bartered for at the Smoke Shop so many weeks ago.
Vega spent some time with Phon, who was increasingly showing her delicate condition. While Phon still refused to discuss who the father of the baby was, saying only that he was out of the picture, Vega did learn one new fact: Phon’s due date had been set as the 15th of Bloom by Brother Fabitor at St. Gustav’s.
Taking advantage of his companion’s down-time, Lucius spent many hours pouring over the maps in the Delver’s Guild Library. The maproom revealed itself to be somewhat of a mixed blessing: the Guild was in possession of many, many maps of the Dungeon beneath the city, providing a substantial amount of detail about the areas under the city that Delvers had explored. However, these same areas were also the places that the Delvers had thoroughly looted, leaving much to be desired in the way of potential winnings. However, he did find an incomplete sketch of a map of an area of the Labyrinth beneath Midtown that seemed to have been lost in the stacks and the area never having been returned to. Returning with a copy, he and the rest of the party decided this map seemed their best lead into the Dungeon.
Leaving behind a morning think with fog and drizzle, the Party made their way through the Undercity Market and wound their way through the Labyrinth until they arrived at the area indicated by their map. Descending a flight of ancient stone stairs, they found themselves in what seemed to be a complex of rooms that was, at least at one time, part of Ghul’s Labyrinth.
Disarming a series of door’s whose antiquated traps still functioned, they made their way to a large chamber still in southern part of the complex. This part of the Labyrinth was in usually poor repair – the room was filed knee-deep with a pool of murky water, fed by a stream entering the room via a collapsed wall. Rooting around in this pool with their backs turned to the Party was a band of four ogres.
Vega activated her Ninja Invisibility Powers and lept towards the first of the Ogres, who was slain almost before his companions could notice and battle was joined.
The Party made short work of the remaining ogres, leaving their corpses to rot in the underground pool.
The ogres had no possessions of note, but rooting around in the the pool themselves, the Party fished out a massive sword, whose blade glowed dimly even through the muck of the ages it must have spent beneath the streets of Ptolus.