Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Gnomeward Bound

Hand Delivered

Limpet’s Diary,

Two tendays from Baldur’s Gate.

The candle burns low, I will just note down the happenings of the last day or two before meditation then sleep.

As the forest (the Trollclaws if I remember) disappeared over the horizon behind us, the land to the North flattened into great grass plains. Our wagon train was unmolested for four days as we pressed on to Waterdeep, for sure we would have seen any attackers coming for miles around before they reached us. One of the traders on the convoy said they had a word for such flat expanses in their own tongue: Ayo-Wan.
It is a good word. I will try and use it.

We finally reached a fortified trading post to take on more food and water and to harness fresh horses. Sadly, raids on the Waterdeep road had delayed the arrival of the livestock. It looked as though we would have nothing to do for two days while we waited.

While i was diligently checking for hidden messages from my fellow H_____s on the public notice board, Cameron and Flintstock found a request for someone to run some kind of… errand I suppose. An ex-military man, in charge of the local suppliers, needed a delivery made to a nearby Gnomish tinkerer. After the purchase of some candles and Flintstock’s customary attempt to buy lingerie, we were on our way!

After an uncomfortable ride on pigback (i’m still not sure why Waitrose agreed to the situation, or if it had anything to do with Flintstock’s desire for the sheerest hosiery he could find) we arrived at a giant natural standing stone topped with a great structure the like of which I have never seen. It was neither castle, mansion nor tower, but the name on the letterbox assured us it was our destination.

Climbing all the way up the stairs cut into the rock we found a sprawled body in the robes we’ve come to associate with the D____n C__t. It was perforated with three great wounds and held a back of strange viscous fluid and an intricate gnomish music-box.

Cameron stole the box.

Our entry was barred by a giant bronze gate, smooth and featureless. Flintstock located a hole with a hidden handle while I investigated the gatehouse. I learned that the structure was likely full of intricate hidden traps, Flintstock learned not to put his hand in suspicious holes.

After we mostly reattached his hand (even if it is a little bit on backwards), I managed to find a keyhole near the handle-hole. Cameron managed to pick it, deactivating the blade that severed Flintstock’s hand, but just to be sure I managed to use one of Flintstock’s hunting snares to pull the handle.

Once we entered the structure we found a large tiled antechamber, we called out that we had a delivery for the occupant, but to no response. Undeterred I moved toward the inner door. I might have stepped carelessly (forgive me Masters of the Way) and triggered a mechanism that both trapped us inside and started whatever nefarious machinery lurked within the walls.

With no choice but to move deeper into the building we managed to navigate a labyrinth of corridors with floors that tried their best to crush us against the ceiling. Luckily, by eventually taking the (with hindsight rather obvious) step of following the bright green lights we found our way through to a room with access to the floor above where we announced we had a delivery for the occupant, with no response.

While the rooms and corridors up to now had been proportioned to accommodate most humanoids, the only exit from this chamber was decidedly gnome-sized. As we approached a mechanical gnome appeared and asked for a password. This was a surprise, though it didn’t seem to matter that we didn’t know the password as the door still opened.

The small corridor, more a tunnel really, beyond held some more mechanical creatures, though this time hostile as our pig-based reconnaissance proved. Cameron grew weary of discussion (it had been a while since he killed anything, I sometimes fear Cameron does not have the upholding of all that is good as his heart’s true desire.) and ploughed into the tunnel causing the mechanicals to attack. Flintstock managed agood showing on the crossbow for a man with one good hand, though Waitrose did help him by reloading. Meanwhile further into the cramped tunnel Cameron destroyed two more and kept their glowing, crystalline hearts for his trophies.

Once we left the tunnels and could stand upright once more we found ourselves in a space housing the most curious contrivance. Wearily, we announced we had a delivery for the occupant. No one responded. After what I admit was a perhaps slightly protracted experimental process we found it was necessary to play music to the building in order to open the way ahead. I think the others were a little frustrated with my thorough approach, but we’d already lost a hand, and I didn’t want to lose a whole person to this gnomish trickery.

After announcing we had a delivery and getting no response, we examined our surroundings.The room was similar to the last and we found we had to cause some steam to rise from a globe of water to proceed, fortunately Cameron’s almost clairvoyant four-candle purchase at the General’s store made this task extremely straightforward.

A third puzzle awaited us in the next room. After announcing our presence, and that we had a delivery, and getting no response, we ascertained we had to find a way to turn a wheel continuously from afar with no obvious means of applying motion. Forunalely Waitrose can create water from nothing, and have it fall as rain. By conjuring a downpour just so that it fell on only one side of the wheel he managed to cause it to turn, just like a tiny mill wheel.

Through the next door we were immediately confronted by a huge statue of a gnome holding an hourglass. Without hesitation we announced we had a delivery. We waited bravely, but got no response. As the sand fell through the glass, familiar alarms would start and the sound of the hidden mechanisms would rise to crescendo unless we pulled a lever to reset the mechanism and turn the glass every thirty or so heartbeats. our only way forward was blocked by locked and barred bronze door with no handles, keyholes or easily-accessible hand removal compartments.

Deciding it was impractical to stay forever pulling a lever (although as this task required but one hand Flintstock excelled at it), and with no other course of action presenting itself we decided to risk waiting out the alarms. Since the statue had obviously not been destroyed it seemed like a safe place to wait for whatever traps lay in wait for us to spring. As the alarms grew louder and the sound of machinery grew deafening I don’t know if any of us expected to survive whatever happened next…

Suddenly the alarms fell silent and the machine noises ebbed to nothing. In the sudden silence the hiss of the door locks releasing and the great bronze doors being pulled open by hidden mechanisms seemed deafening. Our path forward open, our course seemed clear.

We announced we had a delivery for the occupant, but received no response.

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