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The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 6: The End of the Beginning

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Only a fool spends his swimming pool.
Love of money comes with a cost. Often that cost is pride.

As the sun creeps over the valley of the once great gnomish town of Augerhead it is greeted only by silence.

Unless your ears are tuned enough to hear the giggling of a gnome and kobold anxious to try out their new toys. Needless to say they insisted upon an early start for the group. After all, there's zombies needin killin.

By this point the group had evolved fairly effective zombie/skeleton fighting tactics. The disruptive ability of the kobold's new mace made it practically child's play to clear the three stories of the curtain wall.

At the top floor they discovered, instead of zombies, training dummies arranged around an open space. As a member of the party moved within ten feet of the closest it came alive and advanced upon him with its clublike version of a sword. As he stepped out of that circle it went back to the center. Picking their way between the dummies (clearly they believed they needed no practice) they found two doors in the room. One led up a flight of stairs to a barred portcullis and back to the ledge Tanic and Quagrim had explored in the previous chapter. The other led to what must have been the captain of the guard's room. In it they found a key that allowed them to operate the second lever in the gatehouse. For some strange reason (known only to the DM) as the inner gate opened the outer closed.

And so the group was forced to make a choice: rest, or dive into the mystery of what happened. As it was, the group voted to rest for the day. Even Tanic seemed in favor of a brief respite, strangely enough. It was most unlike him to quit the bloodshed before the day's end.

So the group closed the inner door again and headed back to the inn. And as they were all choosing their bunks Tanic unveiled a secret he'd been sitting on. As they'd examined Quagrim's artifact he'd somehow discovered that it had a secondary function besides the locator aspects described to them by Khelban. It was able to make a completely real illusion of vast amounts of ancient dwarven gold. This illusion would last for only four hours before disappearing completely.

And so he activated said artifact causing a massive pile of gold to appear directly in front of Quagrim. Of course his first impulse was to dive right in Scrooge McDuck style. Being a gnome, there was no thought between impulse and action. And what better bed for those constantly led astray by shiny objects? So it was, that Quagrim pulled his stuffed rabbit named Bob from his pack (the group had long since stopped being unnerved by such minor peculiarities) and curled up to sleep.

Four hours later, to the second, there was a thump, followed by muttered cursing, followed by a stifled giggle. The gnome of course tried to appear incensed, but its without their nature to fail to acknowledge a good prank. He did however warn Tanic that Bob did not have such a sense of humor. Confused, and wondering if the gnome were attempting to turn the joke back on Tanic, the group went back to sleep.

I can't for the life of me figure out why Khelban had omitted to inform such a band of boy-scouts of such a function. . .

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