Through mere happenstance, the three of you happened to be converging on the same alleyway late at night as the rain fell about you. You heard the muffled cries of a man being beaten. As you rounded the ends of the alley, you saw a man being set upon by three others. As Eran started moving towards the helpless man, and Ryuskei spurred his horse into action, Minori seemed to step out from a shadow on the wall and lashed out at the thug’s lookout, instantly snapping his neck. Ryuskei rode one down, slicing through his thin leather armor and sinking his halberd deep into the back of the thug. Eran and Minori finished the last one off together. As you stared at each other, gauging one another, you heard the pained moans of the assailed. His name was Ruphus Laro, newly anointed cleric of Abador. He had been coming from the Lantern Street Orphanage where he had been consoling the members there of the abducted children that you had also been investigating. Enjoying this fortuitous turn, you escorted Ruphus back to the temple to meet the interim high priest, Jenya Urikas. She asked you to look into the missing children and offered quite a reward, 2500 gp, if you succeed. She then told you of a divination she had when she used a divine tool to ask about the location of the missing children:
The locks are key to finding them,
Look beyond the curtain, below the cauldron;
But beware the doors with teeth.
Descend into the malachite ‘hold,
Where precious life is bought with gold.
Half a dwarf binds them, but not for long.
You went to the orphanage, and found that all the locks were bought from the same man, Keyghan Gelve. After some prompting you got him to open up and he checked his records to see if the kidnap victims had all had his locks. Turns out they did. After a few more threats, he finally gave in and confessed, while alluding to the fact there was someone else there. Turned out that he and his familiar had been held hostage and made to give these creatures skeleton keys to the houses in the city. Eran told the gnome he’d be back for more words with Keyghan. When you went to search, you were ambushed by a shadowy chameleon like humanoid. You very promptly took it down and tied it up before beginning your descent into Jzardirune, the abandoned gnomish enclave.
Upon entering the darkened enclave, you found that there were hoof prints in some of the dust. At the bottom of the stairs you found two gear shaped doors, one closed and locked the other partially open. After pushing open the latter and stepping through, Eran was attacked by two more of the humanoid chameleon-like creatures that had attacked Minori in Gelve’s Locks. Eran and Ryuskei engaged them while Minori circled behind one. While it was distracted, she lashed out and finished it off with one hit. It’s partner immediately took off into a tunnel that had been dug into the walls. Instead of pursuing, the three of you decided to explore the rest of the area.
The hallway led you to a row of doors, here Minori began deciphering the runes on the doors and found that they were all Gnomish for a letter: A, J, Z, D, I, N, E, R, U. So far all the doors that had been check have been trapped, and Eran found a trap in the floor as well, though he managed to avoid falling into the pit. Immediately after you opened another room and fought another one of those creatures, though Ryuskei wounded it, it managed to get away. Ryuskei wasn’t so lucky though as you went down another hallway. Minori crossed over a section, but as Ryuskei put his full weight down, the floor gave way beneath him. He landed hard and looked around and saw the walls were lined with spikes. He quickly climbed out before anything else could happen. As soon as he was up, the lid sprang closed again and you could hear a mechanical thrashing underneath.
The door at the end of that hall led to a throne room, where a bas-relief demanded tribute to see the king. You each paid a gold coin, but the king wound up being nothing more than a programmed image that sat there snoring until Ryuskei found a compartment on the chair that held 78 gold coins and 2 slim rods that matched the N and the E runes on the doors. Upon testing it, you found it to be a key.
You headed off into the next room and though there was nothing in the room itself you found a secret chamber. Though the chamber appeared empty, upon feeling along the walls, you found several paintings hidden by a spell. Though you couldn’t see them you could feel them. As part of testing the spell, Eran put his fist through one of the paintings, which did nothing but tear a hole in it. Minori found that if you take the paintings out of the room, they become visible. There were still 5 paintings of beautiful landscapes in the room. You left them there to be retrieved later.
Next you found an old theater. Upon seating yourselves in the chairs, a spell begins playing out a story. You learned of the drama of Willowbough and Silverarrow, a somber tale of a dryad who falls in love with a ranger, and Moontusk, the ranger’s bitter nemesis who strives to ruin their love by destroying the dryad’s sacred tree. After the play was over, you began searching the theater. Eran noticed a trap door leading below stage, upon sticking his head inside he was immediately attacked. Though at first unsuccessful, the creature quickly grabbed him and pulled him into the storage area. The creature stood about the size of a halfling, but had long rubbery arms that were able to stretch farther than they appeared they should. As it began choking the life out of Eran, he and Minori tried to free him, with limited space though, Ryuskei was unsure what he could do, so he stayed above making an attempt to free Eran by attacking the creature’s arm that was holding him. Eran slayed the creature himself. After disposing of the body, the three of you found that you were exhausted from running all over the city that night and then immediately rushing off into Jzadirune. So you sealed the trapdoor in the stage and set up camp for the night, to rest and heal up.
After a night to rest and heal up, the three of you started back out. You came across many empty rooms, most doors no long posed a problem as you knew what they were trapped with if you did not have a key. In the kitchen, off the great dining hall, you were attacked by two small gnome-like creatures, though these had hooves for feet. After defeating them you moved into a room that had been cast by an illusion to seem like a great forest. In the room beyond that, you were attacked by an old automaton. After Ryuskei stuffed cloaks into the hollowed cone on the front of it, it ground to a halt and the three of you trashed it. Several corridors later you were attacked by what appeared a floating brain with a bird beak and tentacles. Eran’s pistol misfired and now needs to be repaired, but the three of you managed to hit and slash it to death. You were attacked by another automaton later on, but again it ground to a halt very early in the fight and you defeated it with no issues. You circled back around to the forest room, and down into what appeared to be a washroom covered with spiderwebs. As you went to cut a body down out of the those webs, you were attacked by a giant spider. Minori and Ryuskei killed it before anyone was hurt. In the next room you found Starbrow, Keygan Ghelve’s rat familiar. It was stuck to the top of a mimic that had taken on the shape of a flat topped chest. It spoke to you but you didn’t understand it. Minori was able to recall that if you fed them treasure then they would allow you to pass without a fight, but when Ryuskei began feeding it, it wanted more and more. You bypassed the mimic, and found an elevator leading down. Once at the bottom, you found a massive dwarven fortress. After some exploration, you found some of the missing townspeople, but not all. They informed you that, they had been taken by a slaver and had been sold off one by one. You captured a goblin and forced it to take you to the leader, a half dwarf/half troll named Kazmojen. He was in the middle of a sale, a sale that included the missing children to a small dwarf-like being. Before anything could happen, a beholder appeared and took one of the children, the boy named Terrem. After the beholder left, you attacked, knowing that you couldn’t allow this sale to happen. Eran leveled his gun at the buyer and fired at him, his bullet striking the box of coins he was holding and sending it to the floor in shards. Very quickly, the buyer cast a spell and disappeared from sight. Kasmojen whistled once and his pet krenshar, Prickles, came out from behind a pillar. After a brief but intense battle between Kazmojen and Prickles you won, grabbing the remaining children and leaving. You cleared out the remaining rooms of the fortress, grabbing as many people as you could find before leaving. You stopped at the top of the elevator, debating on what to do about Starbrow, but ultimately, since you couldn’t speak with the creature, you opted to slay it to retrieve the familiar. With a few well placed shots by Eran’s revolver, some spells slung by Ryuskei, and arrows from Minori, the three of you were able to take it down without much of a fuss. The natural glue of the mimic began wearing off very quickly and you were able to retrieve the familiar before setting off back to the surface. Once there, Keyghan was relieved to see Starbrow, and willing accompanied you to the guards where he was turned in for helping the creatures.