Two days and many baths after exploring the sewers, Poly, Raven Mourner, Thorial and Zephyr could all be found within the walls of The Silver Table, protected from the incessant rain. Raven was asleep in his room, Zephyr exchanged stealth tips with his new assistant Olffrick, and Poly and Thorial were entertaining the morning crowd with tales from the sewers. One listener seemed more intent than the others…
Both Poly and Thorial noticed him at the same time: a bald dwarf with a gray beard walking between the storytellers; the other patrons seemed to move aside to let him pass. After a short time, the dwarf pulled Poly aside and introduced himself. He was Telnik Stoneaxe, head of the city guard, one of the four members of the ruling council, and one of the heroes that liberated the city years ago. And he had a proposition for the group.
After questioning the thief that was captured from the sewers, Telnik had learned of another major cell of thieves in the city. He wanted to hire the party to infiltrate the hideout, deal with the thieves, and find out who they were working for. He agreed to pay the party for their services, but requested that they keep the task to themselves. After further prodding, Telnik explained that he believed some outside influence was sponsoring the thieves, and that the Aelport Trade Assembly was his chief suspect.
After the group agreed to the task, Telnik handed over a blood-stained map, made by the thief in custody, under apparent duress. The map showed a path through the city to an abandoned building near the Temple of Pelor. After the dwarf left the inn, Poly, Raven Mourner, Thorial and Zephyr sat down and planned their approach. After much deliberation, a plan was hatched: Poly, Raven, Zephyr and Olffrick would take up positions to watch the building entrance while Thorial would sneak up and enter.
After leaving the tavern, the five adventurers took up there respective places near the Temple of Pelor. It must have been an uneventful day for thieving, because no one was observed entering or leaving the rear door of the building (the front door was boarded up). Eventually, Thorial decided to sneak up and investigate. As the remaining four watched from afar, the lone scout approached the door and entered. Inside, Thorial found an unadorned square room, empty save for a large trapdoor on the floor by the rear wall. When he went to pull open the door, his hand became stuck to the handle. Immediately, a fleshy pseudopod formed from the ‘wooden’ door, grabbed Thorial, and began to crush him.
Luckily, his companions outside heard Thorial’s call for help. Soon the whole group was inside, and was trying to dispose of the camouflaged creature. A mouth materialized on the mimic, and it began to shout, “Hungry!” with every strike. Unexpectedly, Poly resisted an intrusion into her mind from an unknown source. Following its failed mental attack, an imp appeared and hit Poly with its stinger. She retorted with a color spray spell, and knocked the flying imp unconscious. Seeing an opportunity, Zephyr grabbed the imp and gave it to the mimic as food. The mimic released its hold on Thorial and greedily began to devour the imp. Momentarily sated, the mimic allowed itself to converse with the group.
Speaking in rough Common, the mimic revealed that it was placed in the room to dispose of, “…people who go the wrong way.” It had hidden the indigestible remains of its victims behind some of the wallboards, and was not aware of any other way out of the room. The group quickly recovered two potions and a wand from behind the wall, and left the room before the creature became hungry again. Having reached an apparent dead-end, the group broke down the front door and explored the main house. Each room was in poor repair and littered with debris; the house looked untouched and unused. So the quintet left the house; Zephyr wrote a warning on the door, and the group began the return walk to town hall to report their letdown.
Before they left the area of the temple, the group looked again at their map. They realized that it was unusual that the thief in custody drew a path to the hideout instead of just indicating the location. So the quintet decided to follow the path as best they could; with each specific turn they followed, a strange feeling of spatial discomfort overcame them. As they approached the door again, Zephyr’s writing was no longer on it. Intrigued, the group opened the door again… in front of them was a narrow stone staircase going down into the darkness.
At the bottom of the stairs was a room filled with empty crates and another staircase downwards. Off to the side were two small rooms with untidy, dank beds. This appeared to be the true thieves’ lair, so the party quietly continued down the next staircase. At the base, through the ajar doors, they heard a pair of voices complaining about dealing with some, “…damnable shipments of spices.” Obviously distracted, the party took the thieves by surprise: Raven Mourner finished off one thief with a critical blow, and Poly put the second thief to sleep. As Zephyr bound and gagged the sleeping thief, the rest of the group found sacks of spices in crates, a gem-lined cloak, a healing belt and some gold pieces.
Two additional features caught the party’s attention: a locked set of double doors in front of them, and an unusual circular chamber off to the side. This 15’ tall chamber was made of stone, but of a darker, different variety. In the center of the room was a 12’ tall rough stone column; Poly and Zephyr recognized it as being similar to the one found in the ankheg tunnels. Wooden scaffolds had been built around the room; pieces of the wall had collapsed, and afoul liquid was slowly leaking from the ceiling. The group surmised that the round chamber must be beneath the sewers.
The group moved on to the double doors. Unable to undo the lock, Raven Mourner struck the blade with his sword, summoning its knock ability. The door flew open immediately and with a very loud clang, revealing another staircase down into darkness. Fearing to descend deeper, Olffrick left for the surface. The remaining party moved down the next flight of stairs. In the small room at the bottom, another pair of double door greeted the group; however, these doors consisted entirely of metal tiles covered in leering faces, each face was turned at a different orientation. On the wall next to the doors were a series of five wooden tiles. Each tile had a pair of initials on it; a sixth tile lay on the floor, its letters were crossed out. Before opening the ominous doors, Zephyr knocked all of the wooden tiles to the floor.
Fearing the worst, the group opened the grinning door. Inside was a 10’ wide by 10’ tall hallway; every surface of the hall was covered in the same leering metal faces. Tenderly, the group walked down past the metal smiles. As they turned the first corner, Poly found pressure plates in the floor for an unseen trap. Neither she nor Zephyr could disable the trap, so the quartet tried their best to avoid the pressure plates. Poly, Zephyr and Thorial were successful, but Raven Mourner fell on the floor trigger, and got hit with darts from the nearby wall. Around the next corner, the group found and completely avoided another pressure plate on the floor.
As they traversed the next section of hallway, the walls at each end slammed shut. With the sound of geared mechanisms turning, sharp metal teeth shot forth from each and every section of grinning metal wall. While being pelted with the sharp projectiles, the four made their way around the room looking for the control mechanisms. Four were found, each hidden behind the metal panels. While Poly had little luck disarming the mechanisms, Zephyr, Thorial and Raven Mourner all managed to smash the controls, thus stopping the projectiles and opening the doors.
Around the last turn, yet another pressure plate was found and avoided. Finally, the group reached the end of the hall of grinning metal traps. In the room outside the hall, several notes adorned the walls, describing maintenance and repairs for the traps. In an alcove near the notes was stored a pair of enchanted gloves, apparently for use in servicing the traps. As the group read the notes, Thorial found a secret door that apparently led to a corridor immediately behind the trapped hallway.
While examining the backside of the traps they just escaped, a pair of thieves attacked the party. While Zephyr and Thorial dealt with the human thief, the ‘halfling’ thief launched fiery spines at Raven and Poly. After Raven landed the final blow, the disguise melted away, and the ‘halfling’ was revealed as a small, spine-covered, winged creature. Free to inspect the trap mechanisms, the group found a set of electricity-generating gauntlets powering one of the traps. Taking these, the four moved on to explore the rest of the level.
In the next room, another human thief and two more strange-looking halflings accosted the party. Raven Mourner landed two solid strikes against the human thief, killing him. Poly blinded one ‘halfling’ and dispatched the other with a well-placed crossbow bolt. After Zephyr felled the blinded ‘halfling’, it was again revealed that they were spiny gargoyle-creatures in disguise. Amidst the dead remains the party found a scroll case. A note directed the bearer to deliver the contents to the “sponsor” at the crossroads at midnight the next day. Having found what they came for, the four made their way up the next set of stairs.
In the next hallway, the quartet realized that they were behind the room where they fought the first group of thieves. They listened to the doors at the end of this hidden hallway, only to hear a voice beckon them to enter. Planning to counter an ambush, Zephyr spread caltrops in the hallway, and the group waited. Strangely, Raven Mourner found himself compelled to tread through the caltrops himself. Luckily they didn’t do any damage, but Raven’s pride was wounded from succumbing to the magical compulsion. As he returned to the main room, two thieves and another spiny gargoyle-creature came out of the passage behind them. Raven Mourner and Thorial battled the two humans while Zephyr bull-rushed the spiny creature. As Raven dispatched the human thieves, another imp materialized and tried to sting Zephyr. He killed it in one hit, splatting it against the wall.
In the last set of rooms, the group found more treasure. Under a loose stone in the floor, the four found a golden scroll written in an unknown language. The bottom of the ornate scroll bore a signature in blood, and the name matched the initials that were on the crossed-out wooden tile from earlier. With treasure, evidence, and another captured thief in tow, the party left the hideout and returned to Telnik.
After the dwarf read the contents of the scroll case, he was surprised at the contents: apparently the Aelport Trade Assembly was not sponsoring the thieves’ guild. And so he had another request for the party: take the scroll case and intercept the supposed sponsor. Poly, Raven Mourner, Thorial and Zephyr now had one day to prepare…