Not only were my talents rudely suppressed, I was also accosted by a thief in front of everyone, and they did nothing! The thief thought to distract me with a copper piece on the ground while he stole my pouch. I was not so easily fooled and when the scoundrel tried to get away, I used a spell to halt him. When I called the barkeep's attention to thief's actions, the barkeep and the bar patrons dismissed the incident as normal. The thief was lucky. In my country, the thief would have had his hand removed and branded for his crimes but here, they let thieves run amongst them, doing their mischief without hindrance. And they call me barbarian.
As it grew late, the tavern began to settle and, having been fatigued from our travels, we sought our rest. It was just then that the Dwarf's tankard of ale began to speak to him as if it were a man. I was horrified at such unholy magics as this. Despite my protests to not encourage the tankard to continue speaking, the dwarf parlayed with it, coming to an accord of gold and a pet bird in exchange for a service. I was dubious of what service we could provide the talking mug but it's offer of a pet bird reminded me of my beloved Svetlana and I could not refuse. The mug instructed us to order an Ivy Port from the bar to be transported to our task. Begin fatigued we resolved to begin our task in the morning.
The next morning, we ordered the Ivy Port as instructed and after taking a drink, were instantly transported by some foul magic to a mansion. Immediately upon arriving, a painting on the wall began to speak just as the tankard spoke the night before. Truly we were in some witchery. The painting, calling itself Tristan Harpell, wished for us to put some chambers of the mansion in order, saying only that we would know what was out of place when we saw it. Two keys were teleported directly into my pocket by that son of Baba Yaga painting on the wall. It would have been better to burn that witch-house to the ground but we resolved to uphold our accord.
We entered a series of chambers belonging to "Tristan's" former uncle, Siegfried Vample. We were provided a useless map, that appeared to have been annotated by a child, by a large metal suit of armor that had been animated into some sort of guardian. The terrors of this evil place would not cease. We entered a chamber marked "Swimming Pool" on the map but found it to be a library. The library appeared to be very well furnished but for one shelf which was bare. The dwarf noticed that there appeared to be a lack of astronomical knowledge conspicuously missing from the library, though we found several tomes on the table that appeared to be astronomical in nature, hinting that it was a current subject of research for Siegfried. There also appeared a journal with a mess of writing regarding a telescope that Siegfried had built using some artifact of tempered glass.
Leaving the library, we entered into what appeared to be a mechanical workshop where a number of constructs were being maintenanced by some sort of mechanical caretaker. Upon entering the chamber, all of the constructs turned on us and made for an attack. Acting quickly, I cast a spell summoning a storm of knives that cut three of mechanical horrors to ribbons. The rest were dispatched easily enough by my companions and I.
We also happened upon a room taken over by the overgrowth of poorly maintained potted trees and plants. We were confronted by an elderly man who spat something incoherent at us about not disturbing his master before transforming before our very eyes into some sort of rat demon. Immediately, swarms of rats dropped out of the floral overgrowth to come of the creature's aid. I managed to lull the swarms to sleep with a spell while my companions fought the wererat, until, in a font of holy vengeance, the paladin smote the demon a killing blow.
Next, we entered what appeared to be some sort of bedchamber with a large mirror covered by sheet against one wall. Intrigued, I examined the mirror and discovered it to be a powerful magical artifact, though I was uncertain of its nature. Pulling the sheet down, the paladin found himself attacked by a sinister clone of himself. I called upon my magic to immolate the enemy while my companions attacked the doppleganger. Upon our victory, the creature simply disintegrated, like mist, until there was nothing left of it at all. Realizing the mirror's usefulness, we resolved to take it with us. We also happened to notice that a significant portion of the mirror had been cutout and surmised this was the artifact Siegfried has used to build his telescope.
Passing through a set of double doors, we came to a large chamber with Siegfried's telescope in one corner, strangely aimed at the wall. Nearby, an adamantine door stood slightly ajar. The entire chamber was covered in cobwebs and, as we tried to clear them, we were attacked by swarms of spiders as well some bewitched spider that appeared to shift in and out of existence. Luckily, the larger spider succumbed to my magic and began to laugh hysterically and uncontrollably. While my two companions dealt with the swarms, the ranger and I pressed our attack on the larger spider. The beast continued to laugh even as it was dispatched and the spider swarms abated soon after.
Following the spider attack, we investigated the adamantine door. Finding it ajar, we decided to open it and see whither it led. As we opened it, a voice issued from the depths of the stair case the vault door had hidden. It warned that it was coming and we began to hear footsteps moving up the stairs. Moving quickly, we staged the artifact mirror we had taken from the bed chambers. We tried to lock the adamantine door with the keys we had received but neither key seemed to fit and upon trying them, and a voice emanated from the key hole, cursing "Tristan" for mixing it up with a key in the pantry, again. A minute later, the footsteps on the stairs were upon us and an ogre mage emerged from behind the adamantine door. The creature first saw its own reflection in the artifact mirror and a moment later, the ogre was in battle with a clone of itself. To avoid unnecessary injury, we allowed the creatures to wage battle against each other while we waited to dispatch the winner. After some time, the spell blasts and sounds of war fell silent. We re-entered the chamber but could find no trace of the battle that had been waged here.
It was then that two sorcerers appeared and thanked us for helping clear the suite for Tristan They related that the ogre mage emerging from the chamber set off a contingency to alert the mages to the creature's escape, whereupon the mages came to banish the creature themselves. For our troubles, the sorcerers awarded us less than half the gold Tristan had promised us, saying that we were being billed for damages to the mansion created by the ogre mage's escape, which they blamed on us, even though it was Tristan that had given us the wrong key. They then transported us back to the Golden Cockatrice and disappeared. With any luck, we will soon find that mansion and burn it to the ground as we should have from the beginning!
While they cheated us of half the gold they promised, they did hold fast to their promise of a pet bird. They provided a silver figurine of a raven which can actually transform into a real raven. I have named him Sasha. So while some good did come of our stay at the Golden Cockatrice, I must quit that cursed establishment and its wiles. I look forward to moving far beyond Darkshelf and away from this ill luck and evil witchery.