Treasure Palace

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    Just SurvivingTreasure Palace[Realm - Lunia]Copyright © 2000 by Heiner de Wendt

CharacterThe merchant's role is that of a mediator; it is his duty to provide proper respect and rewards to the laborers, and to assure that the results of their work are purchased only by those who understand the worth and innate goodness in each piece of work.

PowerThalqai the Half-Elf is a demipower with followers on about a dozen Prime worlds. He is known to travel these worlds most of the time, staying in his Treasure Palace for only about one or two days each month. Most of his petitioners are archons, though if Thalqai feels that a petitioner has a strong desire to keep his mortal form, he usually allows it. Most of these petitioners are half-elves, elves and humans, though members of other races are also known to be here.

DescriptionThe Treasure Palace is a noble, splendid building, with countless halls and towers made from finest white and silvery stones, strengthened with glimmering, enchanted metals. Its size is greater than that of most palaces known in the Prime Material worlds, yet it's not as large as one might expect for a power's realm. Sages have estimated that the palace covers an area of about six square miles, reaching roughly half a mile into the air with its highest towers. Whenever Thalqai is within his realm, he seems to sense where he's needed, and heads there. He does not cover himself from his petitioners' or any visitors' eyes, walking freely through his palace. This usually results in a sudden silence wherever he appears, and everyone shows him the greatest respect. Still, Thalqai dislikes being treated as befits a demipower; he considers himself more a wise king than a deity.

The Treasure Palace is in itself a giant marketplace, with merchants at every corner. There's space enough, though, for a comfortable stroll through the palace, and trading is done calmly and respectfully. Haggling over prices is rare, for everyone knows the merchants here are honest, and it's considered disrespectful to try haggling for a better price. Those who try usually don't do so a second time, for the reactions of all who see it make them absolutely ashamed. The merchants don't sell everything to everyone, though - they make sure the purchaser has got the wisdom and respect to treat the wares in the right way, and doesn't misuse them. Most adventurers are quite astonished how hard it is to get a weapon here, for the merchants are cautious even if a paladin wants to purchase one. Prices vary depending on the quality of the wares, and under what circumstances they were made. A low-quality bow can be bought for five gold pieces, while a bow of the same quality, but made by a blind, one-armed beggar, would probably cost eight to ten gold pieces. Most items available in the Treasure Palace are of slightly above average quality, but those who seek long enough can also find wondrous items made from rare or unique materials, and a few of them are even enchanted or innately magical. The prices, of course, are according.

Interestingly, each and every merchant in the Treasure Palace has an in-depth knowledge of the craftsmanship of the wares he sells. People here have the attitude that you can only truly estimate the worth of an item if you've carved such an item yourself before. Sages have guessed that about a quarter of the items sold in the Treasure Palace are crafted by the merchants themselves.

Special ConditionsThose who walk among the lively (yet calm) halls, towers and corridors of the Treasure Palace don’t need to worry about finding a place to rest. Whenever they get tired, they find an empty room or three, perfectly fitting their tastes, made ready for rest. There's food and drink in the rooms, too, always of good (though not finest) quality. When someone finds such a room, there's always a lantern or hound archon inviting them in. Spells cast with the intention to fool others or taint their honor fail utterly, as do any thieving skills (including backstabbing, noise hearing and all others).

Principal Non-player CharactersShialraan (Px/male warden archon/LG) always seems to be on the spot when trouble arises (which happens rarely). He's a peaceful diplomat, and always tries to solve problems so that everyone involved is happy afterwards. Nevertheless, he makes sure that those who are responsible for the trouble feel ashamed for it, so that hopefully they won’t make trouble again. In times of great need, the solar Lushana (Px/female solar/LG) acts as Thalqai’s "Acting Hand", organizing armies or evacuating any endangered parts of the palace - for example, when a proxy of Set (obviously on a direct mission for his god, and covered by Set'sdivine aid) burned down one of the palace's towers. Otherwise, the Solar's never seen, and chant has it she guides the most passionate worshippers of Thalqai when she's not needed in the realm.

ServicesThe most obvious service here is, of course, trading. Nearly all kinds of wares can be purchased here, in so far as they fit the style and ideals of Mount Celestia (don't search for poison here, or for barbed whips). Craftsmen can sell wares themselves, or ask a merchant to sell them, and can be sure to get a fair price for them. For those in need of rest, the Treasure Palace is a good stop as well. And if someone's been cheated in a trade or deal, the archons here help willingly. Indeed, a couple of mortals have managed to escape a baatezu deal with the aid of Thalqai's archons, though these are rare occurrences indeed.

The ChantIt's said that Thalqai sometimes appears in his palace in disguise, acting as a normal merchant. He sells some normal wares, be it ropes, wood or musical items, and asks for usual prices. If someone with a truly pure heart approaches him, however, the seemingly normal item he sells is imbued with divine magic, and will help the individual survive a bad fate in the near future.

There's a rumor about the "lower levels" of the palace, which keeps coming up. According to these rumors, most of the building is actually buried in the ground, and this is where Thalqai himself lives. There, he also gathers unbelievable treasures (coins and jewelry, but also items of wondrous quality), for some purpose that's dark to everyone but himself and maybe Lushana. A group of chaotic good adventurers, calling themselves the "Seekers of Thalqai", have resided in the Palace for a few years, seeking an entrance to these lower levels. They don't do it to steal anything (as many people first assumed), they just like the challenge. So far, Thalqai doesn't seem to mind, and they've become a kind of "permanent feature" of the Treasure Palace. They haven't really uncovered anything about the mysterious lower levels (if they do exist), but there's probably no other group of beings who knows as many darks about the Treasure Palace as they do, including Thalqai's petitioners.

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