The hapless guard led the adventurers through the gates and into the castle courtyard. The courtyard was open and uncluttered, its sole distinguishing feature being a wooden trapdoor embedded into the ground in the far corner. The guard moved straight to it, lifting the door and descending the first few steps. A torch on the wall lit the passage for a few feet, but the stairs descended into total darkness.
Without a word, the guard removed the torch from its sconce before continuing down the stairs, lighting the way for the others. The stairs went on for what must have been a hundred steps in a spiral before they saw another source of light illuminating the bottom. The staircase widened into a small antechamber, lit by its own torches, where two more guards stood watching the door. The walls on either side of the chamber were lined with cells, most of them empty.
“This is the castle dungeon,” explained the guard as if he were in the middle of a cheerful tour. “There’s two doors up ahead, past the cells. The one on the right goes to where we keep most of the devices, but guests aren’t allowed through the one on the left. Lord Iridel prefers that business regarding the dungeons be done in the dungeons, so if you’ll wait here I can go fetch him for you.” He turned to leave.
“Wait a moment,” said Lucian. “Could you perhaps show us the torture devices Iridel does have in here? You know, it would speed the deal up considerably if we knew what instruments he prefers, or what he already has and isn’t interested in purchasing.” The guard paused to think.
Diplomacy roll: 15
Sense Motive roll: 5
“Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt,” decided the guard. The other two in the room watched silently as the group was led further into the dungeon, where the guard took them into a large room filled to capacity with all manner of gruesome machines. Several of them were things that the mercenaries had only heard of in horror stories. They pretended to idly look around, inspecting the wares. [Nick], the druid, discretely reached out with his mind, searching for traces of magic. He walked up to the others and, facing away from the guard, muttered, “Nothing in here’s magic, but there’s something in that other room. Something in one of the cells, too.” They gave no reaction.
“Well, uh…I suppose I’ll go fetch Lord Iridel then,” announced the guard, moving back towards the staircase.
“Wait,” said Lucian, perhaps just a little too authoritative. “Before you go, could you tell us what exactly is in the other room?”
The guard scuffed his feet against the cold floor of the dungeon. “I’m really not supposed to talk about it,” he said apologetically. “It’s just where Iridel keeps his machines that are…you know…active. The one’s he’s usin’.”
“Well that’s what we should be inspecting!” Lucian said enthusiastically. “Look, if we could just take a peek in there, it’d be incredibly helpful.”
“I’m sorry sirs, but I can’t do that,” the guard said with more force behind his words. “I really can’t. Even if I wanted to, the captain’s the only one with the key, and he’s-”
“What’s this about the captain?” came a voice from the stairway. The guard jumped, spinning around into a clumsy salute. A man wearing similar armor to that of the guards strode in, carrying a torch of his own.
“Oh, uh, sir, these men were just…they’re torture salesmen,” the guard stuttered. “Err…salesmen of torture, uh, machines. They wanted to see the active ones…”
“Alright, alright, I’ll see to them,” the captain said with a wave of his hand. He then turned to the two guards at the door, speaking to them in a hushed tone. The party, beginning to feel uneasy, didn’t hear his words, but the guards nodded and swiftly made their way up the stairs. The captain turned back to the remaining guard. “Follow them,” he ordered. “They’ll explain.” The guard nodded and rushed off after the others.
“My apologies,” the captain said, addressing the mercenaries. “There’s something they have to deal with upstairs, nothing to be concerned about. However, I think it’s best that you do step into the inner chamber.” He stepped past them to the door on the left side of the room, removing his keyring and unlocking it. He pushed the door open, bidding the party to step into the large, well-lit room.
Someone swallowed hard.