... And so, having found the strange goblin key, and having explored the mysterious tunnel beneath the McFearson Barn, the Fire Wizard and his henchman Fadin were heading back to town to get more men and materials in order to conduct a more thorough exploration when along the path came Water Wizard and his own henchman, Bob, having returned from Deep Gully Forest where they too met Robert the Green Ranger having also received important tidbits of information regarding the three stolen scrolls.
As soon as they saw each other the two Wizards began a dialog that cut steel for sharpness, and as it came about, Fire Wizard used his guile and cunning to persuade his brother to help him and Fadin explore the tunnel, telling him just enough to peak his interest, but saying nothing of the immovable Dragon Chest beneath the hay in the barn.
"Brother, you have accused me before the Guild of a theft I did not commit, and now you want my help," said the Water Wizard.
"Brother, I only did it because of the pain you put me through. You have always been the better of the the two of us, and seeing the long way you have fallen has upset my mind greatly. I could do nothing else but assume it also must be you who stole the scrolls, which is the only reason I made the accusation. Surely you must see that I believe you must be the culprit."
"But you have no reason to do so. Where is your evidence?" asked Water Wizard.
"This is true. I have no evidence, but only my conviction. At any rate, perhaps we can find a way to resolve the matter completely. What if I told you that I have reason to believe that the scrolls are hidden nearby, and could show you something very intriguing that will make you wonder?", asked the Fire Wizard of his brother.
"Well, what is it?"
And so the Water Wizard related all that happened to him and Fadin since they entered the barn, save that small bit of information regarding the Dragon Chest's existence. They both looked at the hole in the marble circle, and inserting the key, found that it indeed opened into a shaft that dropped forty feet into the pitch darkness. They decided to send Bob down to investigate and if all went well, to tug the rope they dangled down with him. A few minutes later, with lantern in hand, Bob could be seen far down at the bottom of the shaft. The rope tugged, and so they followed, climbing down the iron rungs of the ladder on the north wall.
Standing at the bottom of the shaft they found the tunnel leading off East and West into darkness. It was an amazing tunnel, ten feet wide, and twelve feet tall, made of stonework so smooth and even that not so much as a single crack could be seen between any stones. Along the top of the corridor ran a pattern that both wizards believed was a script of some sort, very much unknown to them, for neither of them had ever seen any script like it. They also noted three large purple tapestries along the south wall, and looking behind them found behind the middle one a stone archway with a stout wooden door, bound by iron bands, and held fast by a dog face shaped lock, into which they had Bob insert the goblin key. Turning it they heard the door click. Opening it they found a long corridor vanishing off into darkness to south. They decided to split the group into two, and using a rope between them to keep contact, one pair of adventurers went West, while the other went down the south passage.
Fire Wizard and Bob went West, and as they ran out of rope and felt the tug of the other group, they saw in the distance ahead what looked to be a huge bronze door, and next to it what seemed to be a pull chain with a bronze handle. The other pair got far enough down the south passage to see that somewhere ahead of them the passage opened into a black space.
Conferring again at the base of the shaft, they decided to explore the south passage. It opened, they found, into a large room some fifty feet wide, and thirty feet long, completely empty, except for a door on the opposite wall. The dust on the floor had been disturbed recently in the direction of the North East corner of the room. They explored it, looking for any sort of secret door or opening but found none. So they went to the door on the opposite wall, which was also framed by a stone archway, and tried the goblin key. Again a click and the door opened onto a corridor some twenty feet long, ending in another door. At this they decided to turn around and try exploring the Western corridor and see what the bronze door looked like.
And so they came upon the huge bronze door, embossed with the face of a huge coiling dragon. Next to the door was a chain, the handle of which was also made of bronze. They then decided to have a look at down the eastern section of the corridor. Now this area was covered in moss and spider webs, and at the end of that corridor was another huge bronze door, and another chain with a bronze handle. Everything about these doors was so ornate and finely crafted as to beggar the imagination. They grew afraid.
"Surely this is a place, my brother, that we do not belong. I imagine that whatever these doors are protecting must be of great value, and very ancient. I fear to touch them. And I certainly suggest we refrain from pulling these chain-handles," said the Water Wizard.
"I agree with you, brother. You are very wise. This place has not been touched for a very long time. While the area we explored on the other side of the purple tapestry through the arched doorway was recently trafficked, it is clear that no one has come down the East or West corridors in an exceedingly long time. Look at the dust that is built up on the floor, undisturbed, perhaps for eons. I have a feeling we should not be here," replied the Fire Wizard.
"Let us return the way we came, and continue our exploration of the southern passage then.", suggested the Water Wizard.
"Brother, at the risk of contradicting your plan, may I avert my eyes from shame to suggest that we return to town briefly for more supplies?"
"What is it you need brother?"
The Fire Wizard answered that he would want to have Fadin return to town in order to get chalk, rubbing paper, pen, ink, and a crowbar.
"I should like to make rubbings of that script and any other thing we may find so as to bring it back to the Guild Hall that others may help us to decipher it."
"That is a reasonable suggestion, my brother. Let us go topside, and let Fadin return to town for the supplies. I would also like him to bring some fine white powder so that we may use it to detect subtle air currents. We may find secret doors that way."
And so they returned to the world above ground and Fadin went to town, an hour's walk away. While they waited Bob decided he could set a snare for rabbits outside of the barn in the old McFearson garden, but instead of setting his own snare, he found snares already set there, and a rabbit already caught in one. This got everyone to thinking ... is someone else lurking about on McFearson Hill?
So they decided to go and explore the old burned out McFearson house. This is the house in which the McFearsons, the only family in the area to prosper during the past five "hard years" that has afflicted Hamfest, used to live, before the fire, and the loss of young Pamela McFearson. They never found her body, but it was commonly held that she was consumed in the fire. Except by her boyfriend Robert, who later vanished trying to find some clue to her fate.
Into the house the three intrepid men went, burned out as it was. They found in the ruined kitchen a door which lead to the basement, and sending Bob down, found it was empty, and so they all went down and took a look around. They found crates in the main room, the same crates that the mice Generals had used for their Great Council during the War of the Mice and the Weasels, when the Hamfest Hellhounds Adventurers group saved Weeleena from the Weasel King's lair. But Fire Wizard and Water Wizard knew nothing of that story. In the crates they found red caps, and vests, and this made Fire Wizard think.
"I recognize these articles as the same as those worn by the Leaf People (the name he had come to give the Goblins who had attacked him in the barn, and then upon dying turned into leaves and bracken)."
"Indeed. Let us find out what is in the rest of the crates then," replied Water Wizard. And opening those, they found tools of various sorts, all new. Picks and shovels, and the like. At that moment they heard the floor board above them creaking, and took it to mean that someone was walking upstairs above them.
Suddenly, Bob let out a small cry, and said he saw "something" in the shadows of a doorway which lead into another basement room. Peering there and holding up the lantern they beheld several pairs of yellow tinted eyes staring at them from the darkness, blinking. Without hesitation Fire Wizard threw his dagger into the room, thinking the eyes may have been of rats. But instead of scuttling away, the eyes surged forward, and out sprang goblins.
Suddenly a great battle broke out, with magic spells flying, swords and daggers slashing and stabbing, and goblins shooting arrows! They all fought boldly in the dark basement. Lumbering from a room came a great ogre, whom Bob bravely blocked from entering the room by charging the doorway from which it came. And unseen, someone was casting spells at them from someplace, and in the end, both Fire Wizard and Water Wizard were rendered unconscious, and only Bob remained fighting the Ogre with great courage. Then Water Wizard awoke, but before he could do much or get far, another goblin awoke as well, and then Bob was knocked senseless by the ogre. A strange thing happened then. Water Wizard felt some great powerful spell come over him, and he grew sleepy, and then began to feel the hair on his head grow long, and his face took a new shape, and his fingernails grew very long and sharp, and he was transformed into a large ambling sloth that could hardly move, nor cast his spells. And so it was that the three men were subdued.
Out from a doorway stepped a beautiful imperious woman wearing black chainmail, a black cloak, and a black skull cap with a sharp widow's peak. She had her goblins tie up the victims and pondered exactly what she wanted to do with them. First she took their items, and when she found the goblin key and smiled as she put it in a bag at her side. She then pondered... what to do with the trouble makers. Killing them, of course, would arouse suspicion among the townspeople, as tempting as it was.
Finally she decided what to do, and gave them a red potion to drink. This caused the three men to lose their memories of anything that happened for the past twenty four hours, and so they awoke up in the barn, absolutely clueless as to how they came to be there, just as Fadin was returning from town with the supplies.
When the two brothers awoke sufficiently, they returned to bickering over the events surrounding the accusations recently leveled, and Water Wizard took Bob and with harsh words to his younger brother, began to leave. But then, as older brothers are sometimes wont to do, he remembered his father's injunction to be the guardian of his younger brothers and sisters, and so he turned around and apologized for his harsh words, and Water Wizard accepted this and so they became friends once again.
Imagine Fadin's surprise when he found that none of the men he left but two hours before remembered anything at all about the tunnels or the bronze doors or the battles they had fought. Strange indeed! And so he recounted the entire tale, and discovered that they remembered only up to what happened a day before. And using this information convinced them all that they had a big hole in their memory, and finally persuaded them that there were indeed strange tunnels beneath their very feet. He showed them the Dragon Chest, and that was enough to convince them. While they had no recollection, they now knew the story all the way up to when Fadin left for town, which meant that no one had any idea that there was a black clad woman lurking about.
And so they tried again to move the Dragon Chest, and all four men could not budge it even a tiny bit.
"I wonder why the goblins would not bring the chest down into the tunnels? Why leave it here in the barn?" asked Water Wizard, but to this none could answer.
So they used the crowbar, but that also failed. They tried digging around the chest and found that it was not sitting on the ground after all, but instead was a shaft that went down further than three or four feet. At this point they decided it was not a chest at all, but a shaft that went down into the tunnels. This discovery gave them pause. And at this they decided to go back to town and report their mysterious findings to Gravitavius, Grand Master of the Adventurers Guild from Glendale who had come a long way to obtain the scrolls which had been stolen.
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