Excerpted from the journal of Oberon
Today, I am happy. Our operation today was successful, though it rides against my morals. Normally, I would never suggest stealing things of massive worth from someone who obviously values them very deeply. However, when the things in question may or may not be the petrified bodies of three of my dear brothers and sisters, I make an exception. A man who goes by the name of “The Collector” has got Random, as well as two of our other siblings, on display as art at his private collection. Our scouts informed us of this while we constructed the Stronghold. We decided to take action immediately.
The success in our mission wasn’t that it came without a hitch. No, there were hitches. Several, to be frank. The mission, in fact, came with total cooperation from everyone. It hasn’t been since before we’ve been blessed and cursed with the mighty Spirit Fuel that we’ve all gotten along this well under such pressure. It was almost as if we and Anatolius were allies; I chuckle at the thought.
We disembarked from the construction site on horses we borrowed from the stable at the Stronghold. In an act of generosity, I tipped the stable man a few gold for his excellent service to our operations. Anatolius sassed me for our supposed tight budget, but I decided not to take offense. Anatolius decided to take his own personal horse. Simon and Golagoraraxx each rode stable horses, and I sat on the shoulder of the minion, commanding him as he controlled the horse.
After a day’s travel, we came across a small village. We rented a room in the inn and laid out our plan: We were to go to the tavern, where I would pose as a rich, famous art collector, traveling to see the collection of the Collector. Simon and Anatolius were my “associates”. As soon as we walked into the tavern, I bought everyone there a round of drinks. Once the patrons were liquored up, we were able to talk to a human man extensively about his knowledge of the Collector.
The next morning, we departed from the Inn and made the days travel to arrive at the home of the Collector. We decided to leave Golagoraraxx outside with the horses. He could attract unwanted attention. We donned the same aliases as before and entered the museum-like home, where we commandeered a tour. The Collector’s home was full of extravagant art, the quality of which surpasses almost any museum in the entire realm. Perhaps the most extravagant piece was an actual, living elder gold dragon, tamed to complete obedience and sitting in the lobby. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Scattered throughout the house, Simon detected deadly traps that made the Drow guards, employed by the powerful Collector, extra strong and combat-ready. We discussed with the Pixie tour guide the possibility of gaining an audience with his boss. He informed me that unfortunately, the Collector had just left town, and won’t return for a while.
I noticed something that caught Simon’s eye specifically. A vial of that terrible substance we know as “Time Dust” was sitting on a table for display. I could tell Simon was having difficulty controlling his urges, so I tried to cut our visit short as soon as possible. We exited the house and headed to the nearby town, opting to wait until nighttime to begin our heist. We couldn’t afford to wait for the Collector to return. In the late hours of the night, we returned to the Collector’s home. We informed Golagoraraxx to wait with the horses, a safe distance from the museum. He was to watch out for our exit from the house, and come swiftly with our horses when we do so. Thanks to brother Anatolius’ superior thieving ability, we were able to enter through the front entrance without much difficulty. When we entered, we encountered the elder dragon we had seen before, in a state of deep slumber. In the distance, by the dragon, I spotted a small vent. I informed my comrades to quietly wait behind as I inspected the situation. I was able to quietly remove the grate on the vent without disturbing the dragon from its sleep. I flew down the vent until I was faced with another grate, this one leading into what seemed to be a guard post. Several Drow guards sat around a table and conversed amicably as they waited their shift away. I attempted to remove the grate quietly to gain entrance to the room, but I couldn’t hold a firm grip on the metal plates, as they made a clamoring fall to the ground. This startled the guards, and I was forced to hide up in the vent where I couldn’t be seen. After about an hour of bickering and deliberating, the guards had installed a new grate on the vent, this one too secure to move. I returned up through the first grate to the ground floor, where my siblings remained patiently waiting, although perturbed.
I informed my comrades of what I saw below, and we decided that finding another entrance to the floors below would be to our greatest advantage. Using his supreme arcane senses, Simon Bloom was able to follow a faint aura of spirit fuel and locate the entrance to the depths below, hidden behind a massive depiction of our dear Father engaged in battle with Nox. Moving the painting revealed a large door, through which we were able to pass without difficulty.
As we descended down the stairs, I immediately recognized the room as the one on the other side of the vent I was spying from. The Drow guards I recognized earlier were now significantly more intoxicated than I had remembered. Simon, with his expertise in the area of trickery, was able to prestidigitize something that would distract the guards while we sprinted the 20 feet necessary to reach the next floor. The guards, caught up in hysterics from the phallus that had suddenly graced their friends’ forehead, took no notice as we snuck past their post. We stepped through the door to find ourselves in a long, narrow hallway with very high ceilings. As Valanae led the party down the passageway, she was suddenly launched into the air by a strong gust of wind coming from directly below her. Simon was able to attribute this result to a series of traps set all across the hallway. Thankfully, with his superior ability of detection, we were able to determine the locations of the other traps and pass through with no problems.
The next room was also clearly trapped. A larger, square room, this one was outfitted with a few small urns in different parts of the room. Once again, we called upon Simon to tell us the nature of these impediments. He was able to determine a path through the room that would get us through without passing through the area of magical influence from any of the small urns. It truly was a shame that we never saw what they could’ve done to us.
The next room was significantly stranger. It seemed to be occupied by a large pit of rusted armor and weapons. There seemed to be no other path to the exit than to wade through the rusty mess, so we proceeded accordingly. Suddenly, the objects beneath us began to rustle. The true feature of the room, a giant rust construct, revealed itself to us shortly thereafter. We felt fairly confident fighting this monster until it was able to strike at the armor of Anatolius. What at first seemed like a small amount of damage to his breastplate soon turned into complete disintegration. Soon, all that was left of Anatolius’ breastplate was a non-distinct pile of magical dust. Anatolius, now completely exposed to the elements, moved to the back of the room to distance himself from the rust monster. Simon Bloom’s architect staff soon met a similar fate at the hands of the abomination. Perhaps this was motivation for my two siblings, as they soon took out the monster with great haste.
We hoped that the next door we would open would be the last one necessary. Unfortunately, we were wrong. On the other side of the door we encountered a beholder. This caused Simon, now disarmed, to quake in his boots, fearful of becoming an inanimate statue once again. Thankfully, although it wasn’t easy, the beholder gave us much less trouble than his counterpart at the Conclave. Keeping our fingers crossed, we exited the room, only to find exactly what we needed: three statues, each depicting a different one of our siblings. The first was a statue of Random. At first sight, it didn’t appear that this statue was in fact a petrified version of his body. In fact, he was making a goofy pose in his current state, while I had remembered his petrified body being frozen in the act of combat. Beside him was a statue of another brother of ours, Marik, best friend to Anatolius. For once, Anatolius gave off a look of slight happiness when he caught sight of Marik. Beside Marik was a statue of Zaebos. A brother by blood and also in flight, Zaebos and I were never especially close, but I was intent on saving him as well. We stuffed the statues in our bags and returned through the path we took in.
We encountered no issues in returning to the surface; we were able to navigate our way through the traps using the same path. When we returned to the guard post, we discovered the guards, now in a drunken slumber, some of them lying in their own vomit. They posed no threat to our stealthy escape. As we tiptoed through the museum area of the Collector’s home, careful not to wake the dragon, Simon strayed off from the group. He was gone for long enough that only a couple of us noticed, but we were all aware of his intentions: to grab the “time dust” that was on display. If it weren’t for the dormant dragon, I would’ve voiced my displeasure, but the time wasn’t right. Exiting through the front door, we made haste, signaling down Golagoraraxx to gather our horses. As soon as we mounted, we rode off into the night, returning to the Stronghold to free our fallen brothers from their slumber in stone.