After the meeting of the newly-formed group and the decision to follow the piece of the device that was being taken eastward, everyone split up to prepare for the journey. Tegric took Demil to a room in the Axe & Hammer, and told the kender to stay in the room until Tegric returned from his preparations.
Of course, trying to keep a kender out of trouble is well-nigh impossible. Especially when you leave said kender alone.
Demil sat in the room for almost a half hour after Tegric left. It was one of the longest half hours of the kender’s life. When he could stand it no more, Demil leapt up from the bed he was sitting on, gathered up his many pouches and his backpack, and went down to the inn’s common room. He asked the dwarf Gorm, who was lounging at a table and eating a hearty breakfast, where one could procure some new clothes. The dwarf grunted something about the general store and waved in a vague direction before returning with gusto to his meal. Unperturbed, the kender went out into the mild spring morning, navigating the main street of Guldenberg, which was filled with children playing and adults going about their daily lives.
Once in the general store, Demil asked the proprietor if he had any clothes that would fit him. The proprietor was skeptical, but when into a back room to search. At that moment, a hand came down on the kender’s shoulder, and Demil turned to see Shaan, the younger brother of the warrior Paedrik, standing behind him. Shaan smiled down on the kender, and asked Demil to come talk outside. The young man led the kender to the fountain in the town square, and began to talk in veritable circles around Demil.
Soon, the kender found himself agreeing to accompany Shaan on a mysterious excursion. They traveled out of Guldenberg, bearing south. Almost a mile outside of the village, they came to a stand of trees. Shaan then told the kender that he had played here often as a child, and had long ago discovered a strange, circular stone beneath the trees. He took Demil to the stone, which was almost three feet in diameter and seemed to cover a hole in the earth. Shaan had never tinkered with the three dials set into the stone, but for some reason the arrival of the kender had given him the courage to do so. For what better time to be bold than when a traveler from another world came into one’s life? All the better when that traveler is one skilled in matters roguish.
Together, the pair were able to decipher the mystery of the dials, and the stone slid open, revealing a dark descent into the earth. They lit torches and descended. They found a single corridor leading off into darkness, made of well-fashioned stone similar to the lair beneath Barik’s dwelling. Clearly, there was some connection…
Moving cautiously down the corridor, Shaan spotted several trapped stones on the floor, saving the kender multiple times from stepping on said stones. It became apparent that the two’s roguish skills were complimentary: the kender being more skilled at opening locks and disarming traps, the human better at finding traps.
When they came to a large stone door that barred their way, the kender began to tinker with it. His efforts seemed ill-fated at first, as his actions caused a ten-foot section of the floor behind them to collapse! But he was eventually able to open the door, which slid up into the ceiling. Moving onward, they came to a T-shaped intersection, from which stared a small, demonic face carved into the stone with large green gems for eyes. Deciding not to meddle with the face, however tempted they were by the gems, they went down the left-hand branch of the corridor.
The corridor was lined with rows of wooden, iron-banded doors on either side. Their investigations of the first two doors yielded a small storage room filled with rotting rags, and a trapped door that they were not able to open successfully (their attempt to disarm the trap merely set off said trap, and simultaneously ruined the door’s lock, jamming it shut). Digging through the rags, they found a meager stock of gold coins.
Moving on to the next set of doors, they opened one to discover a small dining chamber, with plates, goblets, and silverware set on a large table and decaying tapestries on the walls. There were three cabinets in the room as well, to which the two gave their attentions.
As they rummaged through the cabinets, Demil noticed something out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see a strange human figure seated at the head of the table…a figure that had not been there when they entered the chamber. He became instantly fascinated, and moved toward the figure. The kender noticed as he approached that the “person” was all grey in color, and he also noticed with shock and delight that he could see through the figure. Demil was, of course, not at all afraid.
The kender called out to Shaan, who, upon turning around, became instantly agitated at the sight of the figure. The human rogue began to back away toward the door of the chamber, urgently calling to the kender to do the same. Demil, disappointed, obliged. Once they were out in the hallway beyond, Shaan insisted that they leave the underground complex immediately. Demil was perplexed and a bit frustrated at their explorations being cut short, but went along at the human’s insistence.
In Shaan’s haste to leave, he failed to notice another trapped stone in the floor. The human stepped on the stone, and the pair heard the sound of grinding stone above them. Not looking up to see what had been activated, they ran headlong toward the exit. Behind them, they could hear something pursuing them rapidly, its footfalls sounding strangely metallic. As they approached the massive stone door they had opened, they turned to see a cougar-sized creature that seemed to be made all of some golden metal. Indeed, the thing resembled a large cat, albeit a stylized one. Its eyes were giant green gems, similar to what they had seen in the demonic stone face.
They frantically searched for a way to shut the stone door as the creature loped toward them. Demil managed to find the way to lower the door, but it began to descend agonizingly slowly. Shaan threw a dagger at the thing, but the spinning blade merely glanced off the creature’s metallic hide. Then the kender used the sling on his hoopak to shoot a stone down the throat of the metallic cat, causing it to collapse and slide to a stop on the other side of the door as it finally slammed shut.
Coming to the ten-foot-wide pit their earlier actions had opened, Shaan volunteered to attempt a running leap over the pit. He barely succeeded in the attempt, clinging to the edge of the other side of the precipice. Pulling himself up slowly, he managed to pull himself out of the pit, then threw a rope across the chasm for Demil. Once both were on the other side, they hastened to the exit. Just before they reached it, they inadvertently activated another trap, causing more sections of the floor behind them to collapse rapidly. They ran for their lives toward the hand-holds that led back up to the surface, and made it just in time. They hauled themselves up and out, grateful to be out beneath the trees and sky again. The stone circle over the entrance closed again, and the pair made their slow and shaken way back to Guldenberg.