Chickens cluck and run in their pens. A peddler begins shouting at passersby. Coins and gems clink and rattle.
All around in the Remnas market square, the economy sings a song of renewal. A goblin uprising would change the very foundations of the Kendran monetary system, so merchants were especially glad that their plans were stopped.
“Glod, why don’t you check out the market for a while… I need to go be discrete.”
“Eh, fine. I’ll see what’s for sale, at least.”
Kerwyn makes his way down an alley. He can tell there is something distinctly magical about these shoes, but can’t put his finger on it. He does, however, have a very strong sense that he should turn left here, and swing a right through the next alley…
Glod continues wandering the marketplace.
“FRESH APPLES! Get ’em while they’re fresh!”
“Fresh fish! Who’s a-wantin’ a nice tuna, hmmm?”
“You there, gnome! Now, you look like the kind of man who enjoys new technologies more than the layman,” says a man near the edge of the market. A large glass window taking up most of the width of the shop displays spring loaded toys and other gadgetry.
“And what manner of machinations are you selling?”
“Only my finest mechanical wares!” The man is very large with a bushy, reddish mustache. His large glasses have several lenses attached which appear capable of flipping over his already thick spectacles.
“Hmm, I wouldn’t mind looking around…”
“Ha, I knew you’d be the type to appreciate this kind of work. Come in and see!”
The man leads Glod into the cramped shop. Clocks cover every wall, ticking away in perfect unison.
“Now this little gadget is a fun one,” he says. He shows Glod what appears to be a small wooden staircase, with each step slanted in towards the inward corners. A ball bearing sits on the lowest step where a crank is positioned. “Give ‘er a turn,” he says with a smile.
Glod turns the crank. The steps begin to shift. Every other step begins to sink while the others rise. The two first steps become flush, and the ball rolls into the next step. As he continues to turn it, the process continues and the ball rolls up the steps, one at a time.
“Intriguing. And all done without any magic, or so it would seem.”
“That’s a magic all it’s own, my good gnome! Magic of pure craftsmanship! There are feats far greater than this which can be done with no more than gears and pulleys!”
“Feats like what?”
“Come, come, I’ll show you some of the more complex pieces.”
[Found a video demonstrating what I described to Adam in way too many words.]
Kerwyn feels a sudden need to take a sharp left, and finds himself standing before an uninteresting temple. Clergymen dressed in black walk the aisles with candles. No one else is present. The room is not large, and only two stories tall. A couple doors in the back flanking the altar hint at more to see. A preist stands in front of each.
Kerwyn walks up to the one near the left door. “Pardon me sir, I’m looking for a certain man, I don’t know if you’d…”
The man seems to recognize Kerwyn vaguely and opens the door for him, nodding silently. Kerwyn steps inside. The hallway bends right. Kerwyn passes a pair of clergymen as he rounds the corner, finding another right. Seeing that the hall dead-ends at the other door, he backtracks to the center of the hall.
Experimentally, Kerwyn places a hand on the wall, finding it illusory. Beyond he finds the more expected appearance of the guild. The whole place exudes a sense of efficiency. Walking across a large common room, Kerwyn finds Erelos. He nods and smiles.
“Hello Erelos. As you can tell, I got your package.”
“Yes, they suit you well,” he says. “You’ll find that there’s a compartment in the left heel that cannot be found save for by the one wearing the shoes.”
“Now that is handy,” he says, looking around. “It looks like things are going pretty well here.”
“Yes, we’ve just about finished up with moving everyting in, and gained a few new members in the meanwhile. That alcemist that helped us whip up those explosions is now fulltime. He enjoys this sort of work so much more, he says.”
“People tend to see that this style of life can be far more exciting and rewarding.”
He smiles. Well, we have a… wealth emancipation project that you may be interested in.”
“Heh heh. I’m always interested. Especially right now. My paladin and cleric friends happen to be away for a while, so I’ve got no one looking over my shoulder.”
He nods. “Yes, I know.”
“Well, information like that is your job.”
“Yes, information is of great value to those in my line of work, which is what we need to… acquire.”
“So, what exactly is that you need?”
“One of our former members went, er, rogue on us. He has been dealt with, but the damage he may have caused has not yet been reversed. A roster of every member in our local chapter was sold to a rather wealthy merchant on Poplar Street. We need to reclaim this.”
“What’s the name of the merchant?”
“Franklin Bell is the man. I’ll give you the address, but I’d advise you to prepare yourself. No doubt he has done so himself.”
“I should think he would. Fortunately, I happen to know a mischievous gnome wizard who’d probably be willing to give me a hand.”
“Now Kerwyn, this will be your first assignment, so I should go over some basic protocol for guild members. If you should decide to take anything beyond the targeted items, a set cut of that goes straight to the guild treasury, so keep your loot separate. Dealing with agressors is up to you. Our policy is that anything goes if you don’t get caught.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to get caught.”
Erelos laughs. “That’s what I like to hear. I’ve taken a bit of risk on by letting you in, but I believe you’ll be a valuable asset. Go out there and prove me right.”
“And… done. Fifty-three ball bearings. I must’ve lost one recently; it used to be fifty-four.”
“Amazing!” Glod says. “Were I not an illusionist myself, I would not believe my eyes. How high can it count?”
“This particular one can count to over five hundred, but each lever I add would double the limit!”
“Were I a settled gnome, truly I would want one. But I am a traveler and cannot carry such things as do not have practical use to me. Though I daresay some beancounter might find this device quite handy.”
“If ever your travels bring you back to Remnas, be sure to stop in to see what new items we have.”
“I surely shall. But tell me, do you not have anything besides toys and trinkets? I mean no offense–I quite like them.”
“Ah, so you’re interested in things with more…” he lowers his voice, “practical applications?”
“Come on back in to the workshop, sir.”
The room is dark, save for spots of intense light near workbenches. A series of magnifying glasses and tools sit at each one.
“Now let me say first hand that everything I show you is not to be used for an illegal purpose, and that any interest in these items is an agreement of full responsibility on your part should you decide to utilize them in any way.”
“Of course, of course.”
“This one has some potential, but right now it’s still more of an idea.” He holds up a small metal tube. “The idea is you put some sort of object in this end, the detachable crank in this end, wind it up, and… wham!” The small ball bearing shoots across the room, embedding itself in a nearby wall.
“Hm, though no magic missle, it’s certainly more compact than a crossbow.”
“Of course, you can fire what ever you want. I know some alchemists who… nevermind, I may have said too much.”
“I’m interested, but what else do you have?”
“For this one, well, I’ll have to show off a little of my chemistry wares.”
He takes out a small box. The gears inside give it a clock-like appearance, but with no face. In a slot on the top, he places a vial.
“Now this is just a cheap smoke screen, nothing too fancy for the demonstration.” He delicately taps the pendulum dangling from the underside of the gears.
The gears tick. “Now over on this side, it’s got this dials you can turn. See, this indicates the time it’s set for. Once it reaches zero, a small mallet swings up and…”
“Now where’d that gnome get off to…” Kerwyn surveys the market, searching for any sign of the illusionist.
A plume of white smoke violently erupts from a small shop on the distant side of the square.
“Ah, there we go.”
Nearby merchants shift their stands away from the narrow building. Glod and Wheatley emerge from the cloud, coughing.
“Perhaps you should have forewarned me…”
“My apologies sir! I really have been meaning to organize those vials. If you are able to come by some other time, I assure you…”
“Actually sir, I would like to purchase that shooter you demonstrated for me.”
“You would? I mean, of course! Just one moment…”
The large figure disappears into the cloud.
“You actually want to buy something from this guy? What’d you find?”
“Spring mechanism. Seems to have some kick.”
“Now it is still a bit of a prototype, so the price is reduced to just ten pieces of gold. And please keep in mind that as a prototype it is rather fragile…”
“A fair price. And keep working on the design. If you come up with an improved version I might buy it off you the next time I come through town. Off the top of my head, could you weld multiple tubes together? Multistring crossbows are too cumbersome to be practical, but this…this is compact.”
“Haha! This is the creativity and ingenuity gnomes are known for! I know a good customer when I see one!”
“Expect to see this one again if you can keep this sort of thing coming.”
“Look, it’s no big deal. We’re already under a mountain. A pit couldn’t go that far down.”
Mathus and Gante continue through the old temple. Little had been found so far save for a few shrines and an angry druid, but the two pressed deeper into the mountain searching for a way down.
At the very end of the corridor, they find a door labeled with some archaic script. The passage leads to a wooden lift. They ride it down through a narrow shaft.
Thirty feet down, the shaft opens up into a large mine, spreading out far beyond the light of their torch. The light glints off small fragments of some kind of crystal, clinging to the ceiling.
The lift reaches the bottom of the cavernous mine, and the two search the area for signs of where Epona may be. The sounds of pickaxes echo through the mine, and a few exhausted veins are found near cart tracks. Eventually, they find a door leading to a hallway beyond the mines. Ahead, they hear ominous chanting.