4. The Old Master’s Lesson – 6th November 2014
Having returned to the tavern, the heroes had likely been mulling over the complex nature of enchantments, or at least some of them might have been perhaps. Either way, it was a shock for me to see my former Master, Valthrun come into the tavern.
Although I hold him in the most esteemed regard, I could not help but stay incorporeal, and thankfully none of the heroes mentioned my presence for I fear he would have little good to say to me after the failure of my last mission. Indeed, it is my belief that none of the town actually know of my continued existence, which is likely just as well. I have no wish to become the next victim of an exorcism.
It was however with interest that I heard about the stone archway in the basement of Valthrun’s tower, an area, I might add, that I had never been allowed near in life. It is with some guilt that I write of my excitement at being able to delve into the previously off-limits area of the tower that I had spent my apprenticeship. Master Valthrun had, it seemed, never entered the room himself, and wished the secret door opened.
Hidden Stone Doorway
Although I was fairly certain of my continued invisibility, it was with some trepidation that I once more moved into the tower, and I was very much glad when Master Valthrun left the heroes to the task. I did however notice something that perhaps they took for granted, and that was that they had not actually agreed on any price for such a task completion. I had fallen foul of this before with traders, and it seemed that either through assumption of others doing tasks for him, or a cunning mind, Master Valthrun only agreed to give his gratitude in recompense.
I would like to think of the heroes having offered their services for free to the needy, but the more I am travelling with this group, the less likely this seems to be. If nothing else, I reassure myself that adventuring is indeed a costly endeavour, what with the purchasing and maintaining of armour and weapons, healing potions, not to mention the daily basics such as food and shelter. It is strange how these practical matters are never mentioned in any of the history books.But I digress. Upon getting to the Archway, it became apparent that the script above the door was in dwarvish (indeed, that was why Master Valthrun called upon this particular group, having known one of them was a dwarf). They were able to discern that the script above the door said the following:
Set aside your pride.
Only a fool and a goat may enter.
After some trial and error, it came to pass that it turned out to be a dance called ‘Fool and a Goat’ that was to be performed in front of the entranceway to make it open.
To the tavern the group went, and it was there that the Minotaur, Gwenn intimidated one of the patrons of the tavern, a stranger to them I believe, into dancing the dance of the ‘fool and a goat’ there for them so they might learn the steps. To say I was shocked at such behaviour would not be overstating it, as were several other of the tavern patrons whom I saw watching this spectacle. I cannot help but feel this may have impacted negatively on the groups reputation with the town.
Getting back to the basement, the dance was performed by Gwenn, and the doorway did indeed open. It was such a fluid movement that it made almost no noise. Stepping inside, the room was filled with light as all the wall torches came on with magic, revealing a room entirely free of dust, and looking in excellent condition. The wonders of magic are indeed to be marvelled at. There were many bookcases around, filled with tomes, as well as two tables, chairs and a chest against the far wall.
What is particularly noteworthy was the parchment left on the table, clearly intended for the person entering the room.
This room was the actual room of Valthrun’s former Master! Oh how overwhelmed and exhilarated I was to be standing in the very room owned by such a great man! I had heard only a few rumours about the man, one who had this very tower built, and whose tower was the basis for the start of this whole town!
So engrossed was I with this room and all its literature that I failed to be aware of the group for a while, until there was some calling back and forth between the hidden room and another room I had never been allowed into, which had only in the past been called a store room. Oh the wonder! A room filled with bookshelves, packed with books and scrolls (though it has to be said that this room that Master Valthrun did have access to, did not have the magical warding on them, for the place was really quite dusty). So astounded by this wealth of knowledge, I almost lost track of the group again.
However it seemed that there was a lever on the wall in the hidden room that opened a passageway from the store room, so long as there was enough weight holding down a hidden pressure plate in the bottom of the chest. I mentally berated myself quite harshly for having got distracted, and followed them into this tunnel.
Dear readers, could you believe there was not one, but two hidden rooms in this basement? Such an expanse must perhaps extend under quite a few houses! But if we thought the last room was the main working area for Valthrun’s Master, we were soon dismissive of that idea!
The chamber was large and filled with a level of opulence and knowledge as well as the trappings of ritual that I was astounded by. This room, if the words on the previous note were to be believed, must have lain dormant for over 30 years at least, if not considerably more. This room was a snapshot of the working life of that great mage!
Upon entering, there was another note from him. Penned in the man’s own hand! The note, and the last was.. quite dismissive of my former Master’s abilities. I can only presume therefore that either Valthrun was exceedingly young when his Master left, or the skills of this great mage was so far beyond even exceptional men, as to see all others’ as slight.
The Three Chests
Upon careful scrutiny of the chests, Adrie had the insight that the chests were linked by magic, and the traps that would make two of them self-destruct might be disabled if the chests were moved far enough away from each other. So with great effort, the group heaved two of the chests away, one to the far corner of the room, and the other past that into the hallway.
The first chest, which spelled out HUNGER in dwarvish contained only a large jar of pickles, a foodstuff I am very well aware that Master Valthrun dislikes immensely, as well as a note.
The second chest, spelled out (after some research on my part) FOOL in draconic, and I was sad to see the insightful Adrie fall afoul of an ingenious trap that sprayed long-lasting dye all over her face and shoulders in a rather unflattering putrescent green colour when she opened it. Only some worthless trap parts and a note was left inside.
The third chest spelled out what I think is STRONG in Goblin and contained a magical throwing hammer, 6 health potions, a potion of courage as well as a brief note.
Attack of the Wraiths
These chests were not the last lesson that had been laid down for Valthrun however, for upon congregating back in the main room to view the treasure in the third box and read the notes, a previously hidden doorway closed, trapping them in the room. On the doorway a note was pinned.
The heroes had very little time to hand out the potions and grasp the hammer before four wraiths appeared in the room.
It was a terrifying fight, trapped as they were with so few of their group there and no exit. I personally found it perhaps more terrifying than these stalwart heroes, for being faced by what you might have become in other circumstances was a sobering experience.
Despite both superiority in numbers and in combat strength, the wraiths were (much to my relief) destroyed. I can only hope that this death brings them some manner of peace.
Returning to Valthrun
In what I can only presume was a post-fight mental haze, the actions of Gwenn in particular seems very odd to me. Logic seems to have taken flight, and (although I am loathe to put something down like this) perhaps also reason. Items were tossed about, and all of the pickles (that if they had been allowed to keep them) might have been sold to the shopkeeper or tavernkeeper for some coin were instead thrown out on the floor of the basement! How I cringed, dear reader, at seeing this, knowing as I did at Master Valthrun’s hatred for the humble pickle.
All the parchments that they had found in the two rooms were then placed in the damp pickle jar and handed to Valthrun who was, as I had predicted, not well pleased with such a thing. Nor was he pleased at having had his property taken without his permission and the rooms treated in such a manner. There was strong words on both sides, especially as the heroes seemed to believe they were entitled to the items found in the chests, despite the fact that the chests were in Master Valthrun’s home, and clearly intended for him. I can only presume that after such a harrowing fight, they became a bit confused and thought of this like one of the dungeons found in old ruins that their usual foes inhabit.
After outrage on Master Valthrun’s side, and intimidation from Gwenn the group of heroes parted ways with Valthrun, the heroes having kept the magic throwing hammer and some of the potions in lieu of the fact that they had just risked life and limb fighting wraiths.
Although the understanding was, of a sort, agreed upon, I saw the look in my former Master’s gaze, and I cannot think that this situation will go unremarked upon to the rest of the town. He is very well respected in many areas, and he did not take well at all to how he was treated this day.