“Are uh are... are you uh sure this uh we won't uh? Get in er... us in trouble?” Frodarick said worriedly as he looked over the layout.
They were assembled in a private room at The Rusty Nail. The unfamiliar location was already making the half-elf uneasy but the plan that had been laid out was even worse. Below him spread out on the table was a complicated and detailed layout of the Lordsmarch Branch of the Bank of Kunderak.
“I told you already before,” Sunky said coolly as he waved his hand over the layout. “We're just testing out Kunderak's new fancy schmancy security system. If we get caught, their system is working properly. If we don't, then we tell them what's up and they fix it.”
Frodarick nodded again but he still didn't like this. Something just felt wrong. He couldn't put words on it but something just made him uneasy.
“This new security system does not appear adequate to me.” Zircon, a warforged observed.
For some reason, Zircon gave Frodarick the most discomfort. He understood why he was here, an expert on runes and enchantments would be most necessary for breaking into a magically enchanted vault. Sunky was coordinating things and was well known for being a stealthy sneak. Dorrfl was the muscle, the big half-orc was some sort of personal protector of Sunky's and no doubt brought in just in case somebody needed to smash something. But save for being privy to a few bits of insider information, Zircon just seemed out of place to Frodarick.
“In uh... not er... adequate enough?” Frodarick pushed. He considered it quite adequate indeed. Armed guards position on constant rotations outside the bank and in the main lobby. A well secured locked entrance to the vaults. Then each section of the vault was secured with a nearly impenetrable force barrier and inside were incredibly complicated well secured individual vaults that were could only be opened with the presence of the owner's actual soul. One wrong move and you set off the alarm which released automated constructs to defend the vault and would bring in the entire city watch. The bank had an long standing bounty placed on the head of any caught attempting to rob the bank, one thousand platinum coins, dead or alive.
“Entrance will be the primary challenge,” Sunky said as he looked over the blue prints. He hadn't mentioned where he got them from but the red headed elf seemed to have more connections than there were people in Stormreach. “No air ducts or such to crawl around in, just lots and lots of solid stone walls. And they have a dimensional anchor they use during off hours to keep people from teleporting in and out.”
“er uh... Day time would uh... be inadvisable?”
“Oh yes, we're only breaking into this fortress at night.”
“I have something to add to that,” Zircon said. “Two members of the night crew security were recently terminated and they have been unable to bring in replacements yet. This has left them quite short handed.”
Sunky grinned, “good to know. Any idea how long until they get replacements?”
“I am unsure but I imagine it will only be a matter of days before some new Kunderak agents arrive in town.”
Sunky nodded, “I would have preferred to spend a few days scouting this place out but in light of this it may be in our best interest to move quickly.”
Dorrfl piped in with rare words, “we smash in?”
Sunky rubbed his chin as if he had never before considered just smashing his way in. After a moment's thought he shook his head, “no... this is going to need to be a delicate situation. But we go tonight, I have an idea, we will visit near closing time. Frodarick, Dorrfl you will be my guards...”
Frodarick tugged uneasily at his suit with his left hand. He was extremely uncomfortable as he flanked Sunky's right, to the elf's left was the big brutish half-orc stuffed into a matching suit. Dorrfl and Frodarick were each carrying a large identical black case, that was roughly one foot cubed. In between them, an almost unrecognizable Sunky was wearing the robes of a house Phiarlan officer. It was less than ten minutes to closing and outside of the guards and Kunderak workers the main lobby to the Lordsmarch Bank was empty.
A dwarf in fine Kunderak outfit greeted them. “Good afternoon sir, I welcome you to the Lordsmarch Branch of the Bank of Kunderak. How may I be of service?”
“Yes you may, actually.” Sunky said in a high and mighty tone. “I must at once speak to your bank manager, it is of the up most importance.”
“Do you have an appointment, sir?”
Sunky smiled, “of course not. It will be in the manager's best interest however not to turn away a chance to give a favor to Viceroy Morial Shol d'Phiarlan.”
The clerk's eyes went wide. This was clearly well beyond her pay scale. And she ushered the trio into a back office. There a fat dwarf sat behind his large plush desk. The entire room reeked with wealth and prominence. The dwarf recognized the Phiarlan robes but couldn't place the elf in them.
“Good afternoon Mister Ironson,” Sunky said as he swept into the room. “I am afraid I must ask a favor of you this day.”
The dwarf sat back. House Kunderak was rare to give out 'favors' even to other houses. “I'm sorry, you have the advantage over me sir,” the dwarf said with the well toned politeness of a businessman.
“Sunky smiled, “I do apologize for the illusion, I did not wish to be recognized while I performed this errand.” Sunky flashed a Phiarlan signet ring quickly then retracted his hand. “Viceroy Morial Shol d'Phiarlan, at your service. I am so sorry I did not remember seeing you at my last gala. I shall make sure you are invited to the next one.”
The dwarf sat up at that. There were few more powerful players in town than the Phiarlan Viceroy. And he was actually rather annoyed he had been skipped over on invitations to the great well renowned Phiarlan parties. “What can I do for you today Viceroy?”
“I need a small favor. I have a couple small things I need kept safe over night. I would, of course, lock it up in my own vaults. But we are worried somebody in our own house may be tempted to steal it. You know how sensitive inner house situations can be, I would really appreciate it if you would kindly keep these two cases locked up in your best vault tonight.”
“That can be easily taken care of,” the manager said with a smile. “It'll just take a moment, I'll lead you guys down myself and we can bypass most of the security.”
The dwarf stood with a small calculating smile and led the trio out of his apartment. Back in the lobby they turned towards the vault entrance. The manager withdrew a key wrapped around his neck by an adamantine chain and unlocked the door. A long series of intricate clicks later and the door slid open. Frodarick studied the mechanism with a few glances and already identified it's key components. Rotating locking mechanism, central key system spreading with adamantine gears to a dozen locking points. It would be useless to attempt to break in with brute force, the door made of solid adamantine, but the key mechanism was almost ridiculously simple and he already had a glance of the key to give him a general idea of what to create...
Force barriers ran along the long corridor, each powered by its own power crystal. They reached the main vault and the bank manager entered a long password onto a series of runes outside the door. Inside the vault was lined with over a hundred individual well secured personal lockers.
“I am afraid I do not have an open personal locker at this moment,” the banker explained as he directed Sunky towards a small steel table and desk. “However as it is now past closing I can assure you no person will enter this vault once we leave and if you come before we open tomorrow I will ensure you are the first to enter the vault.”
“I would prefer my own vault, however, I do understand the great trouble I am putting you through. This should be most sufficient, thank you Mister Ironson.” Sunky waved at his flankers, Frodarick and Dorrfl both placed their loads onto the desk, then turned and followed the dwarf out. Ironson made a show of locking up the vaults on their way out and then showed the trio to the lobby.
“We will see ourselves out,” Sunky said as they reached the path back up to the private offices. “I really do appreciate this Mister Ironson.”
“Oh of course, anything I can do to help out a fellow great house,” the dwarf said. Without giving Sunky a second glance he retreated up stairs back to his office. Frodarick and Dorrfl walked out the front door where guards were eager to lock up the bank for the night.
The odd pair of half-orc and half-elf quietly walked back towards house Phiarlan. However, before they reached the gate they ducked into a back alley. There waiting for them was Zircon. He was guarding a pair of bundles containing Frodarick and Dorrfl's gear.
“How'd it go?”
“Uh... good,” Frodarick said as he slipped out of his tight clinging suit and pulled on his familiar black dragonscale armor. Slowly he equipped and configured all his many magical artifacts, goggles, rune arm, repeating crossbow, shielded belt, bolt dispensing bracer, magical rings, and arranged his many tools and wands in his pack. Dorrfl's gear was much less complicated with just a magically imbued breast plate, a large green hat, and a giant maul that could be mistaken for a barrel attached to a flagpole. They had time to kill as they waited for the sky to dim. Once darkness fell upon the city and the streets were only lit by the dim light of everbright crystals the trio headed back towards the bank. Instead of using the main entrance this time they ducked along the side to the employee's entrance.
Frodarick glanced towards a time piece mounted into his complicated right bracer. The hand ticked towards 8 then the door in front of them clicked open. It was Sunky grinning. He had peeled away when they were leaving the bank and hid in the shadows while all the bank's workers left for the day. He had ditched his Phiarlan robes and was wearing his usual black leathers that allowed him to blend so easily into the shadows. Behind him a single dwarven guard was tied and gagged.
“Good call on them being short staffed,” Sunky said to Zircon as the group quickly filed into the bank's main lobby. “Only one short dwarf on guard duty tonight.”
The entrance to the main vaults lay before them. Sunky left the opening of it to Frodarick who decided to try a new technique tonight. In his hand he had a small slender rod of a steel. He inserted the rod into the keyhole and then closed his eyes, focusing his skills at metal manipulation onto the iron rod. It began to mold and form into the teeth of the key he saw earlier and after only a few minor adjustments he had a perfect replica. With a satisfying click he twisted open the lock.
Frodarick smiled at his success as the door unlocked and lifted open. Inside the narrow hall Frodarick slung a disjunction spell down the corridor, deactivating the hall's motion alarm systems. At the end of the hall behind the force barrier in the main vault a construct defender was waiting for them. But unlike the dull iron models used to mindlessly patrol the bank, this much larger creature was lined with aqua blue highlights and seemed quite happy to see them.
“Good uh... good boy Sparky,” Frodarick said as he approached the force wall. The remains of one of the cases they had placed on the desk were ripped to shreds when the construct expanded out to full form. Sparky gave Frodarick a cheerful bark and undoubtedly would be wagging its tail if it had one. Frodarick pointed towards the crystal secured behind the force wall to with Sparky. “Push,” Frodarick ordered.
The construct barked in understanding and then lunged at the crystal. He pushed it off of its socket and after a moment the force barrier securing the inner vault flickered away. The group entered the final vault, Sunky almost licking his lips at penetrating such a secure location successfully.
“Ah, here it is.” It was Zircon, he had gone in first and went straight to a personal chest in the back. He pressed a small crystal against the container and it clicked open. He removed a fresco from the container, “The fresco is a 40,000 year old image of the Stormreaver, an ancient Giant hero.”
“Is uh that what we are uh...after?” Frodarick asked confused. When Sunky told them they were breaking into a bank he thought gold or platinum or jewels or something. Not some piece of art.
“I want to thank you,” Zircon continued. “For being so gullible!”
Sunky's eyes went wide as Zircon quickly ran out of the inner vault. As he passed out of the vault he slapped the panic switch. A klaxon began to blare and heavy adamntine bars fell down across the entrance to the inner vault.
Did I mention the deadly security systems in here?” He said taunting from the far side of the bars where Sunky and Dorrfl had not been fast enough to reach him in time. “When the guards find your remains, they'll blame you for stealing the fresco. You have the Sharn Syndicate's thanks. Goodbye, fools!”
“Bloody hell!” Sunky yelled.
Dorrfl roared and swung his massive maul at the bars. This did little except create a loud resonating ringing. They didn't have much time to think about an escape plan as a pair of iron defenders dropped into the vault. Dorrfl, still in his rage swung the massive weapon at the nearest one, splintering its iron frame into a shower of broken metal bits. Sparky caught the other within his adamantine jaws and ripped it to metallic shreds.
Frodarick began examining the bars. There was no clear way to get it back open and it would be far too heavy for lifting, even by the enraged half-orc. Four more iron defenders dropped from the ceiling into their vault. No time to examine the room further Frodarick raised his crossbow and unloaded a clip of bolts into one of the creatures. The bolts pierced right through the creature, damaging its internal workings and bringing it to a screeching halt. Dorrfl's maul was swinging in long devastating blows from side to side and smashed the creatures as they came. Some sort of summoning system was dropping them into the room rapidly, one after the other. While they were able to fend them off as fast as they came, they would tire eventually or be buried alive in a sea of iron.
Frodarick turned away from the fight to scan the room. There had to be... Then the runic enchantments on his goggles began to light up as he was looking over the individual vaults. It drew a box around one of the units, flashing runic symbols for magical enchantment, teleportation spell. An emergency exit!
Frodarick ran over to the identified case and quickly ran his fingers along its joints.
“Now's not really the time to be looting the place,” Sunky said as he had drawn his rapiers and was forced to help fend off the increasing stream of iron defenders.
Frodarick shook his head and thinking quickly cast an anti-repair spell upon the case. It's inner contraptions unscrewed, unwound, and unconnected themselves. After thirty long seconds the case fell forward with a loud thud, reveling a small teleportation portal. A directly connection two way portal would be the only way to teleport around with a dimensional anchor activated.
“Er uh... inside!” Frodarick shouted.
“Nice work there Frod,” Sunky said as he gave the half-elf a quick pat on the back before touching the portal. He disappeared, Frodarick followed suit. The world went stringy for a moment as dimensions stretched and then reshaped. They were in another vault, its entrance secured by a similar force barrier. A moment passed and Sparky then Dorrfl, slightly bloody and huffing, popped into the room by the teleportation spell.
Frodarick was inspecting the wall when the cases in the vault all sprang open. The sound of moaning echoed around the room as a dwarf zombie shambled out of each case.
“What the hell kind of crap they keeping in here?” Sunky exclaimed as the huffing Dorrfl pushed his master aside. He brought his maul around in a huge arc, sending rotten smashed dwarven bits showering around the room. The long sweeping arcs continued as the dozen or so zombies were splattered against the walls. Frodarick felt sick but held his composure as he tried to focus on a way out. He spotted the crystal powering the wall and shattered it with a high frequency sonic spell.
A metallic roar greeted them. Sunky sighed with frustration as he looked down the hall. A huge iron defender was waiting for them. It stood ten feet high and barely seemed able to squeeze its self through the vault's hallway.
“It's its not one thing, it's another. I must admit they have done a decent job here.”
Sparky answered the challenge of the metallic roar with his own growl and then sprinted down the hall. Frodarick transmuted his bolts into adamantine and fired a volley over Sparky's head while simultaneously charging his rune arm as it began to hum and glow ominously. The bolts buried themselves into the creature's thick shell but did not penetrate it. Sparky dodged huge teeth trying to bite at it and then sprang up at the creature's underside. The two constructs snapped and clawed at one another in a tangled mess.
The larger construct was clearly too big and slow to catch Sparky but the smaller construct could not dig his claws through the larger's thick armored plating. Frodarick's runearm reached peak charge and he released the energy as half a dozen violet bolts of pure force energy raced down the hall. Sparky jumped off the construct and out of the way as the bolts pierced through the construct's armor as if it was paper. It roared in metallic defiance, its hind legs locked up and a gaping hole in its chest showed a sparking shattered inner workings. Sparky saw the opening and dove. He clawed, bit, and wormed his way into the inner workings of the construct. Once inside crunching and clanging was heard as the massive iron dog lurched, shuttered, then went rigid. The angry red glow from its eyes slowly dimmed and faded into black lifelessness.
Sparky clawed his way back out and barked excitedly at Frodarick. Frodarick gave his construct a, ”good boy,” and patted the metallic dog on the head.
The path twisted around back to the main hall. As they returned to the main lobby Frodarick noticed it was filled with half a dozen city guards and adamantine bars had been lowered over the bank's exits to seal them in. The trio had to duck behind the central counter as arrows from the guards raced towards them.
“This is the city watch!” One of them yelled. “We have you surrounded, give up and we may go easy on you!”
“Gods damn it all,” Sunky cursed.
Frodarick however was looking in horror at Sparky. Somebody shot an arrow at his master, somebody was going to pay. “Sparky... No....”
But it was too late, he had sprinted into the lobby and tackled one of the guards. Muffled screaming echoed around the chamber while the other guards all screamed and ran to the corners. Taking advantage of the chaos, Sunky sprinted across the hall and into a far teller kiosk. There he found a switch and deactivated the alarm. The klaxon stopped ringing and the bars began to lift.
“We only get paid to defend this place if the alarm is going off!” The guard captain yelled, “Let's get out of here!”
Frodarick managed to finally order Sparky off of the guard and then used a healing wand to stop the bleeding. “I uh I er...”
The guard didn't wait for an apology but instead sprinted out of the bank to retreat with his fellows.
Sunky cursed under his breath, “there is nowhere far enough that backstabbing bastard construct can run. No safe place to hide... And the rest of his Sharn Syndicate buddies are going to burn with him. Bloody fools backstabbed the wrong elf!”
Frodarick nodded quietly as he followed the his comrades out of the bank. “So uh... did we er... uh... were we... uh... did we find any uh security flaws?”