After having spent most of the afternoon at the Tearlong Bathhouse, Adwin and Mokha made a quick detour to one of the smaller markets and picked up some clothing from a rag merchant as well as a few sacks. Relative to the heat of the bathhouse Adwin found the outside to be very cold and could not stop his teeth from chattering. Mokha gave him a concerned look and suggested a light meal before continuing the night’s adventures.
After a bite to eat Adwin felt much better, by the time the meal was done it was dark. Together they made their way up to the north end, specifically walking rather than taking a carriage and avoiding high traffic areas. They found a quiet alleyway a couple of blocks from the Fingures’ tavern and took the time to put their recently purchased clothing on over what they were wearing. With the extra layers of clothing they both looked heavier than they had and they had hoods and face scarfs that helped conceal their features even more.
Before heading out Adwin asked what the plan was.
Mokha chanted under his breath and touched Adwin’s forehead then said, “Well, we need to check out the stables and see how busy it is there. So we stick to the darkness as much as we can and sneak past any of the thieves. The rest of it is pretty much going to have to be improvised. We’re now both guarded from scrying magic.”
“Oh. That’s it?”
“Yeah, I’m not Tipper. Everything will be fine.”
Adwin gave a shrug that Mokha likely did not see in the dark and said, “Alright.”
From previous reconnaissance of the tavern and property they had noticed that the foundations were from older stone structures and the upper levels appeared to be more modern wooden freehold architecture. Certainly one of the better properties in the district and also conveniently close to one of the major intersections of the Gray District.
Together they headed out and walked the long way around to get to the Fingures’ property. From a ways down the street at the mouth of an alley they took the time to watch the side entrance that lead to the large barn at the back of the compound. A single lamp lit the side entrance and during the time that they watched no one had come or gone, nor seemed to be standing guard. After another moment or two Mokha gave Adwin a tap on the shoulder then lead the way down the street.
A few locals passed by them but paid them little attention. Mokha casually walked past the side gate and Adwin followed, taking the time to look down the lane. He saw another lamp was burning just inside the stables but did not notice anyone standing around. A bit further along Mokha and he stopped at the nearest intersection and could hear plenty of noise from the tavern, after a momentary hesitation Mokha walked away from the area. A block further along they began to circle around and soon found themselves back in the alley where they had first observed the side entrance.
In a quiet voice Mokha gave him some advise, “Now remember, we’re not out hunting or stalking wildlife. The best way to sneak into the barn is to act like we belong there. I’m going to snuff the lantern at the gate, you lead us into the barn.”
“Okay, let’s do this.”
Once again they walked casually down the street, they passed no locals this time and at the gate Mokha stopped to fiddle with the lantern and Adwin kept going. About halfway down the lane Adwin slipped on some ice but did not go down. There was not much light back there, after a short pause he continued to the barn. Adwin slowed at the door and listened, from outside he heard nothing other than the sounds one would expect from a large barn full of animals. Carefully he advanced into the building.
No one seemed to be there. Mokha came in quietly behind him and the two of them stopped a couple paces past the door. Besides the lamp at the entry there was a second lamp hanging from one of the central support beams, most of the barn was in shadows. The animals seemed content, a cat came over to them and rubbed up against Mokha’s boots. Then Adwin heard some moans of pleasure coming from one of the lofts, he drew Mokha’s attention to that area. After a moment Mokha smiled and made a gesture for the two of them to look around.
The noises from the loft rose in volume as they quietly searched the ground level. After a few moments Mokha moved back into better light and waved him over. Mokha lead him further towards the back of the barn and showed him a trap door with worn wooden stairs leading down through the stone floor, dim flickering light indicated there was likely another lantern down there. As quietly as possible they started down stairs, behind them one of the fornicators was proclaiming his climax loudly. Adwin was happy to move on.
The old stone cellar beneath the barn was surprisingly clean and seemed mostly used for storage, wagon and cart wheels took up about half the space. The rest seemed to be tools and pieces of old tack and gear. A single lamp sat on a stone block in the centre of the room, providing dim illumination. Evenly spaced recesses in the wall held unlit candles and reflectors. A few rooms had been partitioned with unfinished wooden planks along one wall, these were mostly empty and had no doors. One of the partitioned areas had a deep shaft about a pace across, centred in the alcove. Adwin estimated that the floor area down here was about two thirds of the area above, it also seemed warmer here than the barn had been, despite all the animals. A narrow stone hall lead into darkness, it seemed more of less aligned towards the centre of the Fingures’ property. They could hear nothing from the shaft nor the hall, even the sounds from the barn above were lost if they were more than two of three paces beyond the trap door.
Adwin realized that the stone was not carved or shaped into bedrock but rather was massive pieces of stone of different sizes and shapes fitted seamlessly together. He wondered what the original structure had been.
Mokha had collected a couple of candles and passed one to Adwin, “Hang on to that, we might need them later.”
Adwin followed him into the narrow hallway. A dozen paces later Adwin bumped into Mokha, who had stopped short when he came to a wooden door. With a snap of his fingers the Aggedrah produced a flame and lit a candle. The door had a simple latch and opened with a small creak from its hinges. The hall beyond was somewhat wider than the hall leading to the door and three wide stairs were just beyond the door frame, bringing them another pace further underground. They paused and listened for a moment then proceeded down the hall for another half dozen paces before coming to another wooden door.
This door seemed made of a single slab of finished wood and, like the previous door, a wooden frame had been built for mounting it. Adwin saw Mokha run his hand over the smooth surface, there were no markings or engravings, just a simple latch. Adwin wondered why his friend did not just lift the latch as he had at the previous door, but figured there might be some arcane reasoning behind his hesitancy. The moments dragged on, Adwin could hear nothing beyond.
Mokha turned around and had a somewhat concerned look on his face, quietly he asked, “Does this seem too easy?”
Adwin was unsure what to say to that, “Is the door warded?”
“I don’t think so, but it seems like it might have been crafted with magic.”
Again, Adwin was at a bit of a loss as to how he should respond. He nodded.
Mokha turned back to the door and muttered under his breath for a while while once again running his hands over the door’s surface. Adwin waited impatiently. Then Mokha cautiously reached down and lifted the latch, they door did not swing open easily as the previous one had. Mokha gave a firm push and the door open with a whoosh of displaced air and the candle went out. Light spilled back into the hallway from the chamber beyond.
Mokha cautiously peered into the room while Adwin wondered what was there. After a moment of two Mokha pushed the door fully open and said over his should as he stepped downward, “This is interesting.”
Adwin followed him partway down the stairs into an octagonal chamber. A domed ceiling was above them, three other stairways lead down into the chamber from similarly crafted doors. Between each of the stairways was an arched alcove with life sized statues featuring people unknown to Adwin. They both paused on the stairs noting that the illumination was provided by four light orbs, like he had seen elsewhere in the city, mounted above the doors. The central floor area at the base of the stairs was five to six paces across, a large bronze grate covered a circular hole in the floor that was approximately two paces across.
“Wow.” Adwin said.
Even Mokha seemed nonplussed, “I was not expecting this.”
Another voice spoke from somewhere within the chamber, “Who has come to the temple of thieves?”
The two of them remained motionless. From one of the alcoves a cloaked figure stepped into the centre of the room, the cloak seemed to swell slightly, as if whatever was within had enlarged. A hooded face raised to regard them, it seemed to be a bearded man.
Adwin was at a loss, but Mokha said, “Nice cloak.”
A moments silence, “Thank you.” The man reached up and pulled back his cowl, revealing an unremarkable bearded and balding middle aged man.
Adwin became increasingly disconcerted with the silence that followed and the expectant look on the man’s face. The uncomfortable silence stretched on. The three of them remaining motionless. Eventually the man sighed, “Have you lost track of the question already?”
Adwin was confused, but Mokha said, “Thieves. Thieves have come to the temple.”
This answer seemed to please the man and he smiled up at them. He spread his arms wide, “Welcome. Please take your time to pray, prostrate yourself or otherwise pay respect as you see fit.”
Mokha started down the stairs, so Adwin followed. The priest gestured to one of the male statues as Mokha stepped onto the grate, “Take your time, Levella the TwoFaced will hear your prayers.”
As Adwin reached the floor the balding man smiled at him, Adwin also noted that under the robes the man was fairly rotund, a sign that being a priest to thieves was a profitable occupation. The man gestured to the other side of the room and said, “Myslahar, Mistress of Shadows welcomes your offerings.”
Adwin walked towards the statue of a woman in the alcove, he had never heard of Myslahar nor Levella for that matter and had no idea there were even gods of the thieves, let alone four of them. Adwin knelt at the dais the statue was mounted on, fittingly the statue was mostly in shadow from his perspective. There was a scattering of silver and gold coins, as well; gem stones, jewellery and other trinkets at the goddess’ feet. Adwin had no idea what rites were appropriate but was pretty sure nothing he had learned from the Sister of Mercy would be proper for a goddess of thieves.
From across the room he could hear Mokha chanting, “Levella, great god of deceit, grant me the cunning to deceive my foes. Levella, reveal to me the secrets of my foes. Levella, guide me to wealth and treasures.”
After listening to Mokha repeat his chant a number of times and gazing up at the face of the goddess he knelt under, he then fished out a silver coin and placed it in a pile of similar coins. He drew his knife and nicked his finger and let a couple drops of blood drip onto the coins. In a hushed voice he offered a prayer, “Goddess of Shadows accept my offerings and grant me the favour of your protection.”
After another moment Mokha had finished chanting, so Adwin decided he was finished as well and rose to his feet. He gave the goddess a respectful bow and returned to the centre of the room. The priest had remained where he had been and Mokha joined them a moment later. The priest smiled at the two of them. He then gestured to the northeast stairs, “That which you seek is through that door.”