Back at St. Caspieran’s Salvation, Jonas conducted Sampson through a second set of stair into a hallway leading to Beltias and his men. Jonas became more nervous the closer they got to the landing. “You will find him just over there’” whispered Jonas. Sampson nodded his thanks and motioned for Jonas to go back. As Sampson eased into the hallway the floorboards squeaked. A voice from inside the room called out, “Jonas I told you not to be here. We got business!” Just then Sampson stepped into view. “Who the hell are you?” “I have been given authority over these premises,” Sampson proclaimed. “Who are you,” the startled leader demanded! Sampson was kept walking forward with his hand resting on his sword. “I am Sampson Lightblade Paladin of Iomedae and I am ordering you to get out of the temple.
The leader skinned half a dagger like he was going to throw it. Sampson rushed up pulling his sword and landed a solid strike! The dagger bounced off of Sampson’s armor with the leader shrieking “Alarm, Alarm!” Sampson advised, “By the grace of Iomedae make your peace!” He swung a second time but missed the thug, who leaped aside and down the stairs. He could be heard shouting as he went, “Call the Alarm!”
Sampson stepped back into the hallway only to see the door across the hall pop open. There stood a half-orc emanating evil. That was enough for Sampson to launch into a cleave attack. His first swing hit the creature solidly and his second swing sliced it in two! Sampson peered over the parts of the body into the room. He saw a couple of beds and some small cages holding scorpions.
He moved to the next door, which was closed. He wrenched it open to find a dagger and three arrows flying towards him. They all missed or slide off his armor with damage. There were four ruffians in the room, three holding short bows and one with a bandolier of daggers. The three dropped their bows and pulled out short swords. Sampson initiated another cleave attack at the nearest ruffian. Both of his mighty swings struck the man and dropped him dead on the spot. He then stepped up blocking the path to the door. One of the men shot Sampson and nicked him with a short sword. Sampson returned the favor, “May you meet your maker!” The other two with swords missed hitting Sampson, but a dagger nicked him in the neck. That cut began to bleed profusely. He then struck the man in front of him, which dropped the man in his tracks. One threw another dagger missing Sampson. That man leaped to the bell rope and began climbing furiously in an attempt to escape the Paladin’s righteous wrath! Sampson used Smite Evil on the climbing ruffian, who cried out in pain. Still he kept climbing for his very life. He made to the upper ledge in the bell tower above the room. The last man threw down his short sword and begged, “Don’t kill me, I surrender!” The dagger wielding man escaped out onto the roof and got away.
Sampson bound the man and then checked out the rest of the building. He found no remaining men. The temple had been cleared! He returned to Father Padrick and Jonas to inform them the temple was theirs again. He shrugged, “It’s too bad Beltias and dagger boy got away! They thanked him profusely. His battle senses easing Sampson only then noticed that he was bleeding. He performed a Lay On Hands to heal himself. He then set about clearing the bodies from the building and collecting the weapons, armor and equipment before he left.
Later after Sampson and Falathar had made their way back to the House of the Silken Veil, the party discussed the evening goal. Strabo divided the group into smaller units. Rain in her new costume would be with Strabo as the fun group. Agrent, Parlay and Bron would be together as the rough and tumble types (there was no way to disguise them as anything else). The Bard would be playing music. Finally, Sampson would serve as the bodyguard for the “wealthy” Erlig and Cameo. Strabo advised, “Now, if things go wrong, get Falathar to incite a riot at the Golden Goblin so we can escape!”
Each member of the party was provided an apartment within the temple. Their every need was seen to by the acolytes of the temple. For Sampson, Rain, and Falathar that meant merely food and drink, but the others were more inclined to take full advantage of the opportunities within. Parlay spent the night with a half-Shoanti woman. Bron found the company of a “beautiful” dwarven woman. Our young Erlig found himself well entertained a couple of young women.
The next evening the company assembled prior to leaving for the Golden Goblin. Strabo went over the plan. Once more He reminded us that the “wealthy” Cameo and Erlig accompanied by their guard Sampson would go in first. The others would follow separately. The owner of the Golden Goblin is a former Crime Lord in Riddleport. He was destitute when he left town, but seemed rich on his return. He was able to refurbish the Golden Goblin and money enough to buy influence in the town. Shorafa informed us that Saul Vancaskerkin, the owner is the father of Orik.
Bron demanded of Strabo, “Why should I help you, when you took a prisoner without permission!” Strabo did some quick talking and after assuring him that Orik was OK (at least for now he thought). Bron was willing to listen and later agreed to help. Erlig asked about gold to gamble with, “If I am to act wealthy, I will need gold to play the part!” Cameo thought that was a splendid idea! Strabo went to Shorafa with their request. She flatly stated, “If they want to gamble, it is on their own dime.” Strabo pressed his case and she told him he could fund the gambling himself. “I already donated by earnings to the temple. I don’t have enough left to bankroll this,” was his rejoinder. Shorafa asked how much he had donated and was informed 680 gold. “Then you can have 680 gold plus what you are carrying to fund this mission!” He returned to the party and distributed the gold.
We then made our way to the gambling establishment. The Golden Goblin came into view as we turned down the last street. There were vast crowds milling about the entrance. Many people lined up to go in and seemed to be stopping at a table just inside the entrance first. There was a large golden statue of a Goblin hanging above the entrance. Two scantily clad girls were by the door costumed with bat wings to appear as Succubae. They were registering people on their way in to the casino. It was a contest costing one gold to enter “Beat the Devil.” The tossed the coins into a chest guarded by to very large guards who stood scowling!
Agrent turned to Parlay “Are we supposed to kill all these people?” Strabo rolled his eyes. Bron said, “Keep an eye on him. Make sure he doesn’t drink too much!” Cameo and Erlig approached to sign in. Cameo read the form that signed away the soul of the contestant.
“I’m not signing away my soul,” he proclaimed! The girl nearest said, “you don’t have to it only a game. Just pay the entry coin!” Somewhat mollified Cameo paid his coin, but he determined to keep his eyes open. We all pay the entry fee and move inside.
Inside there are various gaming tables, but what caught everyone’s attention was at the center of the hall. There was a small raised platform with a chest of gold open on it. Two bare-chested guards stood at either side. Above the platform was a cage, which held a real Imp. The Imp would stare at someone in the crowd. Then he would shake his cage and scream is an awful tongue at them. His speech was unintelligible to all but Strabo. He realized he could understand the curses in Infernal being directed to the people milling about the tables.
Once the casino if full Saul Vancaskerkin stepped up onto the platform with the chest of gold. “Welcome to the Golden Goblin and a chance to Beat the Devil and win back your souls as well as his gold. Take this moment to thank Old Scratch himself. He opened his deepest vaults to provide the gold to wager against your souls!” At this the Imp goes into a rage shouting and shaking his cage above the floor! Falathar sensed that Saul’s motive was to be a showman, and the soul wager was just part of the show.
Saul continued, “As you play you win more chips to work your way down to the 9th level. Along the way you earn the Devil’s Mark at each level.” He winked at the two girls next to him (the ones from the entrance), “In fact I will take two!” Each girl leaned in on either side of Saul and kissed him on the neck. As they pulled back you could see the red imprint of their lips on Saul’s neck. “There it is, the Devil’s Mark!”
Bron tried his hand at Bounder, but he had no luck with the dice. Erlig on the other hand did pretty well. Parlay tried a game not quite understanding it and lost very quickly. Agrent muttered to Parlay, ‘Too bad they don’t have “Toss the Goblin” with real Goblins. That game I play!’ Parlay nodded his disappoint. Cameo tried his luck at Golem and the cards were good to him. He bet a gold piece and won it back plus one silver. He did the math in his head and realized out bad the odds were and walked away in disgust. Falathar started to cast Detect Magic, but was immediately interrupted by two burly bouncers. They grabbed him, “No Spell casting inside the casino!” At first they were going to throw him out, but a little quick talking appeased their concerns. Falathar then moved over to the far side of the room and pulled out his flute.
Falathar was playing his flute on the far side of the casino. He saw a familiar face walk up. It was Samaritha Beldusk the Cyphermage recruit and the smile on her face indicated she had been accepted. Falathar asked her about it. She replied in her husky voice, “It’s a little uncomfortable at first, but I’m thrilled to be learning about the Cyphergate.” Erlig had spotted her talking with Falathar and walked over. Falathar quickly made the introductions. Samaritha batted her eyes at young Erlig, “I see you are a wizard. Myself, I specialize in Transmutation, but what brings you here?” Erlig smiled, “Are you here to gamble?” “I know enough not to risk my money, but they do serve nice drinks,” she replied coyly. This was enough for her to capture Erlig’s full attention and they strolled off talking.
Blossom was the first in the party to notice something by the two doors to the privies. She saw a man poke his head out one of the doors and cast a spell. He ducked back inside the door. Blossom looked around and saw that none of the many bouncers had seen the man cast the spell. She decided this was not the place to be and skittered off to one side. Suddenly, a well dressed woman dropped her chips, which rolled off all over the floor. “Oh, my chips, someone help me!” The man pops his head back through the door, points at Blossom and starts casting off a scroll! So much for no spells in the house!
A brassier on the far side of the hall near Rain burst into flashes of light and fire. Strabo quickly recognized it as Pyrotechnics. The crowd’s attention is turned to the display and the woman chips. Parlay laughs and claps his approval. Agrent was a little more alert and had seen the man casting toward Blossom. He charged through the crowd to tackle the man who was now moving towards her. Sampson then saw fur thugs rush the two guards by the chest of gold. The guards seemed stunned by the dancing flames. It was then the woman who dropped the chips was advancing toward the guards. She was moving her hands casting a spell. Sampson intercepted her and she cast the spell on him. He felt a little dizzy at first, but was able to brush off the effects. The man reached Blossom and sliced her with a sickle. Agrent then landed on him pulling him to the ground. Rain saw what was happening and moved to help Sampson. Bron charged the woman and swinging his war axe. The impact caused her to scream in agony. Erlig hit the thugs on the platform with Color Spray, which resulted in three of the four falling asleep. Falathar tried to use his bardic skill to distract the remaining thug, but it did not seem to affect him. Strabo was staggering have been stunned by the spell. An enraged Blossom began cutting on the man who attacked her. Cameo cast Magic Missile into the woman.
Parlay recovered from the fascination with the lights and rushed over to help Agrent. The man from under Agrent shouted, “Thurvy I’m down…get out!” He tried to break away. He managed to squeeze his way out from under Agrent only to be attacked by Parlay. Parlay missed with his sword, but scored a massive strike with his Clar. The poor man dropped dead. A scroll rolled free from his dead hand, which Agrent quickly picked up. The woman, Thurvy tried to tumble away, but failed. Sampson swung and cleaved with his sword killing her on the spot! The remaining thug bolts to the doorway trying to escape. Rain makes a beeline for the doorway right behind him. Bron goes over to bind the three sleeping thugs. Erlig cast Protective Ward about himself, Samaritha, and Cameo. Parlay throws his knife into the back of escaping thug dropping him at the door!
Strabo runs up to the platform and cast Obscuring Mist. Bron now groping blindly, “ I’m trying ta tie these guys up. Why are Ya obscuring it? God dam it get rid of this fog Strabo you stupid son of a bitch!” Strabo ignores him and tosses a knife up to the Imp in the cage. In infernal he called out, “Free yourself and kill man holding you captive!” The Imp scowled down at Strabo and threw the dagger back down. “Fuck you! I got a deal with Saul!” Strabo tried casting Charm on the Imp. “Now, go kill Saul!” The Imp shook his head no, “I can’t do that man. I made a deal with Saul. If I kill him I have to go back to Hell. Look at all the lovely ladies. I get to scream and shout at them. He lets me stay here for free.” Strabo asked, “How did Saul get you here?” “I was summoned. He must have bought a spell or something!” Strabo told him to come on out. “I can’t break a deal. I break a deal and it is straight back to Hell! Do you know what Hell is like? I don’t want to go back there!” About this time the fog is dissipating and everyone sees Strabo talking in infernal. Parlay motions for Agrent to follow and they move to the door. Parlay recovered his knife and told Rain and Agrent, “I think we want to be outside!” They moved off outside to a place where they could discreetly observe the doorway.
Suddenly, Saul emerges from a side hallway rushing towards the platform. “Get back from the chest! You guys are trying to rob me!” He shouted in disbelief. Falathar pointed out that “You are a little late to the party.” He went on how Saul would have lost his chest of gold had it “not been for some of your customers stepping in to stop the thieves!” Saul quickly looked around and took stock of the situation. He motioned for his bouncers to get over and he did not seem pleased with them at all! Saul quickly set about getting things back in order. He sent some of his bouncers to take the gold to the vault. Falathar quietly observed were they went and noted that must be were the vault was. It was the same direction from which Saul had appeared.
Saul gathered together those still inside that had helped. He ordered drinks and thanked us. “If you hadn’t stepped up I would have lost everything!” Falathar mentioned that he might want to hire more skilled bouncers. Saul lamented that, but “they cost too much.” He then offered us a job protecting the Golden Goblin. “Clearly, someone tried to do a run on my opening day. It would have ruined me! Erlig noted that “You seem to have a nice place here.” “Yes, but I have enemies. The number one is Cleg. He wants to control the city and take it away from Gaston Chromarky. He probably can if he can get another Crime Lord to align with him. If they had taken the pot I would be destitute. Are you willing to help me? I could make you equal shares,” he asked. We discuss it, but are not willing to commit. Sampson asked what he wanted us to do. “Be my body guards,” rejoined Saul. He offered us 10 percent. “Sleep on it and let me know tomorrow!” Cameo grumbled, “You are going to fail. You don’t give people an even chance to win!” Saul just looked at him like an old uncle would when asked a stupid question by his young nephew.
The remaining party members left separately as the customers were being ushered out. Falathar stayed to finish his drink and maybe get some more information from Saul with nobody to overhear. Meanwhile, Agrent and Parlay conferred quietly outside. “You see the devil? We got ta kill it. We wait, when everyone gone we sneak it and kill it! OK?” Parlay quickly agreed! Agrent moved off to one side and would look into a widow to check on things. Sampson, Cameo, and Erlig started walking down the street. They were followed by a separate group consisting of Rain, Blossom, Bron and Strabo.
Back inside Saul walked over to Falathar as if to talk. At the last second he pulled his Rapier and attacked the Bard. Falathar seemed to be falling asleep after the vicious attack, but he could hear Saul curse, “That’s for spoiling my plans!” Just seconds after Agrent peeked in the widow again, He saw two men carrying the bleeding body of Falathar towards the far right side of the hall! He also saw Saul chastising the girls. He quickly broke into a run using Shoanti hand signing to tell Parlay to come quickly and quietly! “Singing Man in trouble!”
They reached the other side of the Golden Goblin and found a side door. He silently used hand signs to tell Parlay what he saw and to follow his lead – quietly! The door was locked, but Agrent was able to pick the lock. He slowly inched the door open a crack to look and listen. He could see the scullery and a fireplace. He slipped inside into a hallway. He moved to the door at the end of the hall and left Parlay to guard the outside door. He stopped to listen at the door. Upon opening he saw a lounge area with ratty chairs and a spittoon. There is a set of stairs going up. He moved over to the next door and heard two voices beyond it. As Parlay moved up he made a noise. The men inside stopped to listen and then, “must be the guys taking that stupid bard downstairs.” Agrent slipped the door open a crack and saw it was the kitchen. Amid the clutter of leftover food from the feasting, he saw two men talking. He slipped the door closed. He motioned for Parlay to move in the other door and draw their attention. He would then attack them from behind. Parlay burst into the room and found the two guards looking at him. “Sorry, I look for privy,” and then he jumped back out of sight. The two guards started to step in Parlay’s direction, when Agrent rushed in and back stabbed them! He dropped the first man. The second tried to stop and turn, “What the?” Parlay rushed up and threw his dagger hitting the man in the throat. Agrent then clubbed the second man and dropped him.
Parlay and Agrent hauled the two bodies over to the cold storage room to get them out of sight. Agrent, “Thinkin’ we should torch the place.” Parlay thought it was a good idea, but “maybe wait till we have bard.” Parlay used a flour sack to cover up the blood stains on the floor. Agrent opened a door and found the stairs going down. Agrent tried to sneak down the stairs, but failed. Fortunately, there was no one there to hear him. He motioned for Parlay to follow pointing out the noisy step. The stairs turned in a u-shape going down. Agrent looked ahead and saw two doors on the left side. He listened at door number one and it was silent. At door number two heard snoring from inside. He snuck inside and saw a guard’s uniform hanging up. He motioned Parlay to follow lead. He slipped a rope around the sleeping man’s neck and choked him down. Parlay rushed in and held the man’s arms down until he expired. Agrent moved out to continue the search. Parlay pulled up the blanket to make the man seem asleep.
Agrent went back to door number one and found it opened into a wine cellar. There were many large casks and barrel, but also an abundance of bottled liquor. Parlay grabbed two bottles and put one each into his and Agrent’s packs. They continued down the hallway to an intersection. Agrent listened and heard nothing so he pulled out his torch. The light allowed him to check for tracks. He found the faint signs of fresh blood drops leading down another set of stairs. He signed to Parlay, “we go this way to find our buddy!” Upon reaching the next level Agrent followed the blood trail past several doors and side passages. Inside one room he found a surgeons room and table. There were a couple of potions and a lot of bandages. Agrent took the bandages “poor little buddy going to need these.” The door on the other side of the room opened into an arena. It has a sandy fighting pit surrounded by raised bleachers on four sides. Each side had a tunnel leading away. The trail disappeared in the dirt. Agrent and Parlay searched through the sand and found a stone floor underneath. They could not see a door, but Parlay had the idea to pour water on the floor. It quickly drained showing the outline of a door. They found the handle, but the trap door is locked. Agrent failed to pick the lock. “We need key.”