The party has not stumbled on real treasure for a long time so when they were exploring Castle Sterling and came to the Vault and pulled back and the Treasury and pulled back, the inner DM was yelling at them "You're so close!"
After resting though they did the further exploration and did indeed find not only the soft treasure of the wine bottles but the hard treasure of the coins in the coffers. Good for them! Now they just need a way to transport 8 stone coffers out of the swampy castle and 22 days of hard travel back to Shakun and home!
Write up follows:
We decided to give the castle a once over and opted to start with the downstairs and the entrance room we had first come in. It was a parlor and the torches we had lit the day before had burned out. But the room showed a set of double stairs on the north wall that headed up to the 2nd floor (and most likely the spider filled room we had recently been in). There were many other doors in here and we assumed that some led to the halls and others deeper in the castle. Whatever the case, we took stock of our situation and opted to eat lunch for now and maybe hand out some healing.
A trip out to the donkeys in the tower showed they were still ok but the temperature was dropping. We refilled their feed bags and made sure they had water before getting food stuffs off the packs and bringing them back to the castle for us to eat. Some lesser restorations were also doled out and it took much of the drain off our party. Good berries were also eaten and we all felt much better. It was after 3 when we wrapped up lunch and wanted to explore some more. The door from the parlor on the right hand side, north wall was the best choice to hit next. It revealed a kitchen in some decent condition. There was a pantry as well (empty) and a set of double doors went from here to the spacious dining room – three tables and seating for 40. From here we wanted to explore the hallways and settled on the eastern halls first.
It was long, the length of the castle, with a few side corridors that we explored with care first. It was dark and Avidius, Tranis, and Viridia gave the areas a once over. The walls down one of the side narrow corridors led to an alcove area with a collapsed couch, the walls were moldy and the air smelled foul. We decided to give it a wide berth and retreated to the main hall. From here we walked north and made a right down the further corridor.
Some investigation showed it came to another area with smaller halls and rooms, from the site and spaces we passed through, we suspected these might be the guards’ chambers and corridors. The party wanted to find the Castellan’s office; this was not the right direction. The Castellan should be near the front of the castle, near the entrance, and we were already pretty deep in the castle’s interior.
The group made their way back to the hall, and then from there, Steiner deduced that one of the doors would lead to the kitchen again – and it did. From here we proceeded to the dining room and then out the dining room doors to the western great hall. The castle was built symmetrical so we followed the northern hall to the side corridor and found ourselves once again in an area of smaller rooms and chambers. Seemed to be the servants’ quarters. From here we ventured south and ended up near the bathroom with the mice that we had slept in. Private bathroom? Maybe. Who would merit one? The Castellan.
So we went to the door next to the bathroom, opened it with care, and found the Castellan’s private chambers. The clothes closet had a few items in it, a roll up desk, bed, chest of drawers. But it was all older, worn, water logged in places. We took our time exploring and checking everything out. The ring of keys we had found in the northwest tower did come from here (the Castellan’s keys were missing) and the log books showed many visitors coming in and out. Wizard Lord Erazmus featured prominently in many of the dealings and the local lord was never mentioned except in passing and typically in lower case. The only other thing of note was Lord Ceril Stormbringer of Stormbringer Tower had some dealings with Wizard Lord Erazmus and the two of them had a number of meetings and heated exchanges – typically about something regarding a cart of chariot of some sort that Erazmus was to either repair or return to Ceril.
We took a torch from the hall here and adding it to out light sources, went back to the central parlor and decided to try and find our way to the wizard’s tower via way of the doors north of the dining room and kitchen.
There was a hall here and stairs going both UP and DOWN, as well as a few doors down a narrow burned hall. Observations showed some sort of fire had occurred here and blasted some of the doors off their hinges. There were scriptoriums and from what we could tell, someone was most likely vaporized in one of them. The northern most door seemed to have held.
It was 4:30 or so and we decided to not explore further, but to get back to the tower we had stayed in earlier and rest for the night, getting a better trip tomorrow when we were well rested and in good repair. We cobbled together a few troughs and cast a couple of create water spells. Skins refilled we cleaned up and lit a fire in the stoves, ate dinner, and eventually fell asleep.
The next day, Icemonth the 2nd, was cold and bitter – and the snow that had been flaking that night before was now increasing in intensity and falling at a constant regular rate. It was already a few inches deep and from what Tranis could tell us, was going to last for many hours to come.
We returned to Castle Sterling and made our way back to the northern hall and the scriptoriums. Another torch taken from the sconces helped flesh out our supply and we made some noise about where to go next. We checked upstairs, finding a sitting room and library but nothing of value to us. So we went back to the main floor, and then downstairs. The burning from the long ago blast had made it to the cellar room and broke many of the barrels and boxes down here (seemed to have been supplies at one point).
There were two other doors out of here so we checked out the first one. It had held from the impact long ago, was stout, banded in iron, and in good repair. We opened it with the Castellan’s keys and went down a short corridor to another door, this one also stout and well made but locked with a length of chain and an excellent lock. Another search of keys showed one that would open it and we cracked the door – revealing a wine cellar with over 60 bottles of wine still here.
Many of them were 20+ to 50 years of age, and most of them were still sealed and in good repair. The vintners were not known to any of us but we suspected to the right personages the wines would be valuable. We left the room, and went back to the main store room and tried the other door. The set up similar to the first, another short hall and a locked door with a chain. We noticed the locks were keyed alike so we were pleased and expected to take the locks (and chains) with us when we left.
On opening the door, Avidius informed us that the floor and transom were floating faintly and should NOT be stepped on. With the door opened though we saw 8 stone coffers with metal tops, each one locked and stacked next to one another. We took Avidius’ advice to heart and looked around for a lever of some sort to disable the floor. There was something, a metal receiving spot on the wall where a lever might have been at one point. We used Horace’s iron truncheon as a makeshift lever and moved the port down, fixing the floor in place and making it safe for us to enter.
The coffers were unlocked and revealed: treasure. Hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of copper commons and silver nobles. There was also a large quantity of gold and most importantly – platinum bars which would be a HUGE boon for Baron Taugis should we manage to get them back. We locked the coffers back up and then relocked the rooms with the chains and locks after moving the wine bottles to the treasury.
Bolstered now and feeling good we went back upstairs to the main central door past the scriptorium and gave it a once over. There was a marking on the door with a circle and pentagram within. So Marcus stood before it, announced himself, and then placed his hand on the door – opening it to a large chamber with 6 cat statues on the walls (5’ tall, heavy stone), a door on the other side of the chamber, and a 10’ diameter cylinder of white and grey streaked metal running from floor to ceiling.
We all entered and got our bearings. The other door most likely (according to Steiner) led to the tower and we didn’t know how to open the cylinder (although we did knock on it and try to move it to no avail.). We closed the door and then the room seemed to shift. The walls pulled away and the ceiling rose and the cylinder enlarged until we were now in a 60’ x 70’ chamber, the cylinder was now 20’ in diameter, and there were 4 large 15’ wide, 6’ tall display cases with a number of bits of art of some sort adorning them.
We still couldn’t open the cylinder and now assumed we were in the vault. We did not e that if we leaned on the cases they pivoted along the center and “clicked” to a stop in two places – along the east/west axis and when either end was pointed at the cylinder. Further investigated warranted and we noted that the edges of the cases had a number written in elven ranging on all four walls, both sides, from one to eight.
We tried many ways of turning them, assuming the numbers were a combination of some sort but after 20 minutes of turning shelves we didn’t stumble on the correct method to open whatever tumbler locks the numbers represented.
Until by accident we had reset one of the cases and turned it to “1” pointed at the cylinder – and there was a hum and vibration! On to something! We looked the others over and discounted our former efforts and failures before picking the case with the “2” on it and turned that to face the cylinder – and another hum! We then did the same with “3” and “4” and the cylinder began to rise faster and faster.
A large battered chariot of some sort was seen at first as the wall rose but then a magic mouth appeared and Erazmus’ voice echoed out, “Go the Hell, Ceril! And you’re not getting your cart back! I knew you’d try to rob me – we have this as a surprise!”
And then the wall went up the rest of the way very fast and we were looking at a 5’ diameter chitinous covered large central eye, eight smaller eyes on stalks, levitating and floating monstrosity that roared at us as we stood stunned. And to add insult to injury, three of the stone cats on the wall turned and sprung to life, attacking the party!