The entrance to the dungeon was located in a gorgeous glade near the eastern edge of the forest, only a few hundred meters shy of the swamps of doom to which gloom elfs went for inspiration, suicide or inspiration for suicide and everyone else went to kill lizardmen and bog frogs.
The entrance to the dungeon was a wide metal gate labeled “Careful! Dungeon”. As we’ve already established, naming places wasn’t The King of All the Land’s forte. Few things were.
A list of bylaws and warnings in at least seven languages was nailed to the doorframe. It was the usual legalese: it cleared the king of all responsibility for bodily harm caused or recieved, stated the sum each class needed to win the coveted position, warned that monsters may leave the dungeon at night and inflict serious bodily harm, listed fines for loitering and cheating, etc… etc… Oh, and adventurers were expected to clearly mark any room in the dungeon they have already looted in the interests of efficiency. Hilda scoffed. Yeah, right... It was a wonder no one stole the bylaws yet. The large plate must have been worth a few coins…
A blue djinn sat behind a wooden counter a few meters away from the entrance. It studied some papers with an expression of boredom so potent it could cure insomnia.
“If you’re going to try charging me for entrance, I’ll banish you to the moon,” Hilda said by way of greeting. As a paladin of the moon, she could actually do this. Most of her colleagues had powers geared towards purging the undead, but her powers were far more suitable for spirits, fey and other rare and harmless creatures. A fairly useless power, when one thought about it, but one makes use of what one has (and as a low level paladin, she had very little).
“Wouldn't dream of it, honey,” the spirit replied flatly while examining its nails. They were gorgeous. Hilda had never had such pretty nails. She had never had such pretty anything.
“So why are you here?” She asked suspiciously. Call her racist if you want, but ever since that thing with the smurfs, Hilda felt like you just couldn’t trust anything blue that wasn’t toothpaste.
“Oh sweetie…” the spirit shook its head while rolling its eyes. “I’m the bank.”
Hilda frowned. She wondered if the dungeon had already started and if that was some kind of a really lame encounter. Maybe a trap where the lameness itself was the peril. It reminded her of her first dungeon, which was just eleven doors in a row, all followed by exactly the same spiked pit trap. The treasure in the end was barely worth the hassle, but she and the boys made some money selling all these spikes to Unidwarf explorers. It was Gloin’s idea. It was one of the reasons she kept him around. That, and sex.
The djinn sighed in exasperation and clicked its fingers in front of the daydreaming dwarf. “Hey! Ground control to major dwarf?”
Hilda shook her head. “Sorry.”
“No sweat, sugar. You can deposit treasure with me so it wouldn’t get stolen while you’re in the dungeon. It’s free.”
“Oy, that’s very comfortable.” If there was one thing Hilda hated (and she hated a lot more than one thing), it was being pickpocketed by rats. Rats! What do they even need money for? It’s not like they have bills to pay or furniture to order, do they? Damn rodents.
“I also buy and sell loot,” the djinn went on with little enthusiasm. “If you find some magical item you can’t use or a necklace that doesn’t go with these fabulous eyes of yours, I can trade it for gold. All prices by the book, honey. No haggling.”
Good, Hilda thought. She hated haggling. She hated speaking to strangers in general. Shopping at the bazaar unnerved her more than facing a horde of dark side golems. It was impossible to buy a potato without exchanging family histories, learning who has a verruca where, getting pawed all over (Hilda hated being touched by strangers!), getting into a religious argument… and still pay too much for that damn potato! You know what they say: two dwarves, three opinions… Oy.
“So, who’s in the lead?” Hilda asked after a while.
The djinn rubbed its chin thoughtfully. “Hmm… I guess the reformed fallen angel vampire warlock werewolf, Lord, eh, something or other is doing pretty well for xerself.”
“How much did he make already?” Hilda asked with a sinking feeling. Losing a house would suck. Losing a house to one of these new alphabet characters would suck epically.
“Xe,” the djinn corrected her.
“I don’t care.”
The djinn shrugged. “No idea, honey. I just store the treasure, I don’t count it.”
“Okay. Thanks. Take care. Sorry I was rude to you. Blessings of the moon and so forth.”
“No sweat, honey.” The djinn went back to polishing its nails.
Even though the djinn was supposed to be a trader, it didn’t offer Hilda any trades. This was encouraging. It didn’t radiate chaos either. This was even more encouraging. She decided she’d deposit her treasure each time she reached a 1000. It seemed like a good balance of time and risk. Ten sorties and she’d be done.
Hilda took a deep breath and marched into the darkness. Her belly was full of butterflies and her bladder was full of battering rams. Oh well, there goes everything...