- Anton finds a key and coded message hidden in a box, the party is formed to investigate the workshop of a local legend named Ironjack
- relationships are developed with members of the Wizard’s Guild and a clerical order known as Swords of the Edict, whom are interested in Ironjack artifacts
- intel is gathered on Ironjack – it is alleged that he opened a gate to another plane, spent considerable time there, and returned to Freeport to “leave his legacy”
- the key opens a passageway to an underground maze where mechanical constructs are encountered and defeated
Freeport, the “City of Adventure”, a land of opportunity for the not-so-law-abiding types. In other words, the perfect place for a beginning.
Anton, a wily swashbuckler, is contracted by Martin Hawks, the proprietor of The Treasure Trove, to investigate a certain workshop on his property. He locates some items of interest that he provides to Martin, a hawker of unique wares, who auctions them to the public. Martin receives a handsome sum for the items, which he attributes to his skill at auction – he has done this many times in the past, providing the means to pay for his fine establishment. Unbeknownst to Martin at the time, or Anton for that matter, the items are of significance.
Martin gives Anton an ornate box as part of his payment. Within the box, a secret compartment reveals a key that is decorated with a gear motif, a key-ring, and coded message. Martin recognizes some of the symbols engraved on the box, and realizes that the artifacts are linked to Ironjack, a local legend of years past. Which means the workshop on his property is likely where Ironjack, a engineer and alchemist of some renown, practiced his profession.
The message leads them to believe that the key will open a passage beneath the workshop, and speaks of a great challenge of skill and cunning. Given their belief that more treasure awaits, Martin and Anton feel it best to coordinate a group of adventurers to explore the underground. Anton posts a notice at local taverns/points of interest and proceeds to hire a crew of erstwhile companions seeking adventure. The group includes:
Anton: a swashbuckler, enough said
Romica: extremely hairy Dwarven fighter with golden orbs for eyes
Freight: female human cleric (in name only), worships feats of strength and war
Magus Mike, Sr.: Elven magus, tired of teaching/training, has decided to see the world
Wanda: Merperson sea-witch
Lando: Gnome wizard with a beard only his momma could love
Several factions within the city have been made aware of the artifacts and wish to speak to the group about their intentions. The companions decide it beneficial to meet and arrange discussions with:
Garvey Holland: low level member of the Wizard’s Guild
Sir William Carson: young cleric, member of the Swords of the Edict (in ancient times, was known as the Church of Retribution, involved in seeking out and destroying cults around the city, although they were mostly unsuccessful; SotE has taken on the mantle)
They speak with Carson first. He learned about Ironjack through his clerical studies. His primary interest being stories of cataclysm and/or dark arts, he found a journal in the Order’s library (#1 of 6) that revealed how Ironjack accidentally built a gateway to another plane, possibly hell. Although fantastical, the timing aligns with a period that Ironjack was known to be away from the city. His interest piqued, he petitioned the Order to provide him a budget so that he can continue his research – he would like to understand how Ironjack was able to build and power a portal to another plane, and whether it could potentially be opened again. Carson offers the group a retainer of 30 gold per week to provide updates on their exploits, which they accept.
The companions next speak with Garvey Holland, a low level member of the local Wizard’s Guild. Garvey has been tasked with maintaining several weather-towers, able to influence local weather patterns, which Ironjack had constructed. Problem being, Garvey and the Guild have only a cursory understanding of how they work. As such, Garvey has been engaged with researching the towers and their underlying technology. Through this process, he located one of Ironjack’s journals (#2 of 6) in the Temple of Knowledge. The journal detailed Ironjack’s upbringing – his father was involved in the lumber industry, and as a master tradesman, exposed Ironjack to feats of magic and engineering. This motivated his interest in pursuing these fields, which he developed expertise in over his lifetime. These pursuits led to many initiatives, one of which was the weather-towers. The local climate was somewhat harsh, caused by a weakness between planes. The weather-towers employ an “azoth field” which dampens this weakness, thereby exerting a calming influence on local weather patterns.
Unfortunately, that’s the extent of Garvey’s research. As such, he is keen to investigate any other artifacts that may assist him in developing his knowledge of the towers. He provides the group 65 gold in good faith and asks for the opportunity to bid on any artifacts that are found.
Feeling good about their negotiations, the group decides it time to meet with Martin. He thanks Anton for coordinating and relates his eagerness for the team to explore the site. He is upfront about his intentions – auctioning the artifacts will help him raise money to assist his brother, who amassed a large gambling debt and is now in prison. He offers to split any proceeds with the group 50/50, and pays a one time stipend of 10 gold pieces to each member. He then relates his knowledge of Ironjack – as the story goes, he left the city for a prolonged period, and returned in a paranoid state raving about a “last project” that he must complete as his legacy to the city.
And with that, the companions decide it time to investigate the workshop. They head down to the basement, crossing the lintel into the workshop, and note the inscription “Freeport Institute”. The underground structure is not made of brick as per the above shop, but carved into the bedrock with unsurpassed craftsmanship. The stone is recognized as a local rock that was quarried to build many local edifices.
The room is what you would expect of a workshop. It is dominated by a large anvil, which is known from the coded message is where the keyhole is located. The key is inserted and turned and a passage appears, a ladder descending into darkness. A cryptic note is found on the anvil, reading:
9 mighty men, 9 to bind
9 to grasp the flow of my purpose
to tame the unknown/unseen, your work starts here
precision and balance applied, that is the 1st step
set the 9 to their purpose, to prove yourself
your creed – draw 9 men inward
The ladder leads about 50 feet down to a corridor, which in turn leads to a square room about 25 feet x 25 feet. The stonework in the room is unparalleled and infused with a magical aura. The room is largely empty, with a small pedestal centered in the middle of the room. The pedestal has a keyhole, inserting and turning the key clockwise opens a door on one side of the room. Turning the key in the opposing direction closes this door and opens another on the opposite side of the room.
Short corridors can be seen on either side. The companions chalk the room for identification and travel to the “west” side first. They find a similar sized room, which appears to be a workers’ bunk-room. There is various equipment, mostly of a vintage well past usefulness, with the exception of a bull’s eye lantern which is taken. A pedestal is located in the middle of the room. They again chalk the room and decide it best to test the other direction, which they assume is “east”. Another bunk-room greets them, eerily similar to the west side, a pedestal in the middle of the room. Inserting the key leads to yet another bunk-room, this time to the “north”. Investigating this newest room yields nothing of note. This time, however, turning the key clockwise produces a grinding sound. The opposing direction produces a click. The subtle sound of heavy footsteps can be heard in the distance.
As the team is unable to progress any further on the “east” side, they return to explore the “west” passage. Turning the key leads to, unsurprisingly, a bunk-room. However, this room is notable – the remains of two small, humanoid-type bodies reside here, tangled in a net. Investigating the bodies reveals that they are long-deceased, and that they died from multiple, blunt force-style wounds. They carry daggers and short bows, and one is equipped with a nice set of bracers (+1 bracers). Backpacks full of equipment and other mechanical devices sit dormant next to their bodies – it appears these two were tomb raiders, and quite unsuccessful in their endeavors.
Inserting the key into the pedestal opens a door to the “east”, and the companions trudge on cautiously. The next room contains a large mechanical golem in the center of the room. It appears to have the finger of one hand inserted into the central pedestal, a clockwork whirring can be heard.
Romica charges into the room to confront the golem. He grabs the wrist of the construct and wrenches it, resulting in a grinding sound. A door to the “north” opens and footsteps soon reveal a second golem. Magus Mike strategically casts grease on the floor resulting in the mechanical construct wobbling like a newborn before crashing to the ground, effectively blocking the entrance to the room. The group engages in melee and makes quick work of the first golem, Romica literally ripping the construct’s arm free of its socket. In doing so, however, it appears that the mechanism in the pedestal has been busted, as the doorways groan to a half-opened/half-closed position. The second golem is able to regain its feet and retreats to an adjacent room. The companions quickly follow and attack the golem as it attempts to “fix” itself. As the mechanical construct is crushed, sudden silence descends on the room.