Chapter 6: To Cheat or Not to Cheat
It costs 2000 gold to get Szilva back in shape. The wondrous gifts of the gods, delivered by their faithful servants! For a large fee, of course.
Now that we have intel on the Textile House, time to tackle that special mission for Councilman Cadorna, finding his family's hidden strongbox and possibly the servant sent to retrieve it.
The Textile House is on the other side old Old Phlan, south of Podol Plaza. Taking a boat to the western reach of the old city will be faster.
Ah, the great outdoors! Higher levels monsters, more XP, better loot! This is the first time we leave the city since we got off that boat a few weeks ago.
As soon as we enter the Textile House area, we find another well that seems to be used by people for living. Is this a regional custom around the Moonsea?
Everyone looks at Eper.
Eper: -- What? It says "Thieves only". I'm not a thief. And even if I were a thief, I wouldn't want to mingle with others whom I don't know. No honor among thieves, you must've heard that one before.
Barack: -- Oh Eper, I've seen how agile you are, when you climbed down Kuto's Well to show us how it's done. Surely this climb isn't a big challenge for a capable man like you!
Eper: -- When you put it that way... Okay, just this one time. But it better be worth the risk.
We find a man named Restal, claims to be the leader of a guild of thieves. He's well informed, too:
Alma: -- Taking anything from that box is stealing.
Eper: -- We didn't give back what Norris stole from other people. We've taken everything from Sokal Keep, that was city property, strictly speaking. We get it, we keep it, simple.
Alma: -- This is different. We're working for that man, it's his family's property.
Szilva: -- I've heard a lot of rumors about this Cadorna. They say he's got a secret agenda, wants to replace Lord Eberhard as Head of the Council.
Alma: -- And you always believe rumors? And it would still be stealing, even if Cadorna has certain ambitions.
Citrom: -- I met a girl who works in one of the taverns who's also a goth. We became really good friends, sharing everything. Just two days ago, after hearing that we were summoned by Cadorna, she told me a horrible story, with more tears and sobbing than words. Cadorna... took advantage of her when she was a young girl. I didn't want to share this with you. But it happened, I believe her. To tell you the truth, I already set my mind on taking stuff from that box, even before we met with this Restal. I was... uh... talking with Eper about it.
Alma: -- Behind my back? This is getting richer by the minute.
Alma: -- ...
Alma: -- ...
Alma: -- We will deliver an empty box. With our deepest regrets that someone, somehow stole its content. Still, this offer from Restal, it's suspicious. I don't trust them.
Eper: -- Well, they have a means to deal with the seal on the box, leaving no sign of tampering. They know more about that box than we do, admit it, and shared their knowledge.
Alma: -- Not ten minutes ago, you were all 'no honor among thieves'. And now you're advocating for them?
Eper: -- There is an old buddy of mine among them, we chatted a bit while you were talking with Restal. It's just business, nothing more, nothing less. They want half of what's inside, it's not free. I wouldn't believe their offer if it came cheap or free.
Alma: -- My head hurts. I like it better when we're surrounded by greenskins or undead. It's much more simple.
Szilva: -- You wanted to be the leader. You got exactly that.
We're blindfolded and led through a maze of tunnels below the Textile House, emerging from another well inside the compund. We avoided the guards at the gate, and no alarm is ringing. We see a building converted to a temple of Bane to the west. These monsters, they're really feeling at home here, don't they? We shall change that very soon.
It's the who-wins-initiative dance. Grishnak is faster, and holds 3 persons of our party, half of them. One of them is Narancs, who was casting Stinking Cloud, but couldn't finish it. The remaining members still manage to beat everyone into a bloody pulp -- one cleric is not enough stop us, and the greenskins are only good as meat shields at this point.
The loot is sweet:
-- A necklace of missiles, to be used by Eper in tough battles.
-- Magic user scrolls with various spells, including Fireball. We're not level 5 yet, but it's still nice to have it on parchment. Comforting.
-- Another bracers, both mages now have a measure of protection.
-- And a brass key.
Goind deeper into the temple, we find a muscular man in chains. The key opens his chains, and we learn that he's the servant of Cadorna we were told about. We let him join our party:
Great chest and abs, Skullcrusher. Since you look so great naked, you don't mind that we don't have an armor for you in our backpacks?
Following the advice of Skullcrusher, we find the hidden room with the ogre chief.
The battle is another joke. A single ogre plus a bunch of greenskins? We fought entire patrols of ogres outside the city.
We take the box, untouched.
On the way back to the thieves's hideout, we're assaulted by various deadly creatures. Poisonus frogs and scorpions, and finally... ghouls, led by a wight!
This battle costs another reload. The ghouls can paralyze, the wight drains levels, they have some decent THAC0, and both Sleep and Stinking Cloud are useless against them. I find great irony in that the random encounters of the Textile House are much more dangerous than the boss battle. Not the only place with this setup in the Gold Box games, mind you.
Back in the hideout, a guilty pleasure:
Some gems and jewelry and art pieces, and...
... Gauntlets of Ogre Power! We couldn't let the evil, nasty Councilman Cadorna have this, could we? Yes, this precious belongs to us, and no one else.
Going back by boat, as soon as we leave the docks, we're asked to present the box. Restal's experts have done a fabulous job with the seal, nobody suspects a thing. Oh, we would pay to see the looks on Cadorna's face when he opens the box... Skullcrusher leaves the party, and thanks for saving his life.
Citrom: -- Skullcrusher, I spend the evenings in the Headless Goblin. I wouldn't mind if you dropped by. You've got such a presence! *can't stop staring at his chest ever since she's seen him*
Skullcrusher: -- Just like you, my lady, with your fine black displacer beast-skin boots.