12th day of the 10th moon in the year 4512 of the Noruz reckoning, evening.
‘Jongo, I have given much thought to your inquiry about my charge. I would like to show it to you, I believe your observations will prove most helpful.’ Kalahn removes a small object wrapped in bright orange cloth. He unwraps it carefully as if it was his own newborn child, revealing a small bone box. Kalahn carefully folds the cloth and sets it aside. The box is roughly 2 inches tall, 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep. It is polished bone as close to white as possible. There are carvings all over the box. Some appear to be decoration, but it is obvious that others hold more meaning. Each corner of the box, and all four feet are capped with gold. On the lid of the box centered among more runes and carvings is an image of flame floating above what appear to be sand dunes inlaid with gold. When picked up, the box is heavier than it looks. Pointing to the symbol in the center, ‘This is the symbol of my tribe, the Gehn. These other runes, I am not familiar with. You may touch and pick up the box, but do not open it. I was told that opening it would release a fatal burst of flame.’
Jongo’s eyes light up in curiosity. He remarks, “It’s a beautiful box. I don’t doubt it’s trapped to explode if you open it. There are ways, you know, of bypassing or even disabling such traps. I hate to seem to play with words, but did your priest say don’t open the box because it will burst into flames, or don’t open the box because he doesn’t want you to see what’s inside? From what you said, it doesn’t seem like the Library is expecting the box. They might not know whom to credit the knowledge to, and that would be a waste. If you open the box and claim its contents as your lore, then you can always keep mum and tell only your priest. Ensuring fair exchange would be a valuable service, don’t you think? You should also know you can make disclosures to the Aval Library at other cities in the Shomaal. Sages travel to Aval Kingdom embassies, prominent Aval expatriates residences, and royal courts to collect lore “in the field”. There’s always a sage at the ducal palace here in Kahnul."
Jongo continues, "Oh yes, please take this empty vial. It’s form is a little unusual (glass cut in the form of an anatomically correct female torso), but I thought it might be appropriate during your Conflagration of Delight celebration.” Upon receiving the bottle, Kalahn blushes slightly, takes it and says, “Your knowledge of my culture continues to surprise me. It is a fine gift and will, indeed, be useful. I am in your debt and will include you in my prayers tonight. Thank you.”
Kalahn thinks on Jongo’s words. “Hm, I was given a warning that opening the box would cause the flames to be released, but my feeling was that I was given this instruction in order to prevent me from knowing what is inside, not necessarily would-be thieves. If that was the case I would have been given a keyword in order to safely open it. Your suggestion that the Library might not be expecting the box is disquieting. I am hesitant to claim anything that was my masters, as I consider this box to be, for my own. However, should it contain something dangerous, knowledge of it’s contents could prevent harm to others or myself.”
He pauses a moment in thought. Finally, “I suppose taking the box to the palace, as you say, would not be against my orders if the disclosure can be made to sages outside of Aval. What means of disabling traps do you speak of? I’ve heard of such things, but never witnessed them. Do you know how they can be done? I have a method of detection that I wish to apply that may provide further guidance. Is there a private place to pray? I do not wish to reveal this to the others until I have more information.”
Jongo adds to Kalahn on their side conversation, “The Library will keep whatever object you deposit with them if the object itself embodies the knowledge and requires authentication. If you give it to them without looking at it, you may never learn the contents. Bypassing such traps is beyond my ken, but Sorkin might have the touch. If you want a private place to pray that is not a temple to some other god, you can come by my friend Enril’s place tomorrow. The others know where it is.”
Kalahn finishes up with Jongo, “Until tomorrow then. I will conduct a special prayer at your friend’s home and then speak with Sorkin. Thank you, my friend. Also, I am trying to recall, did we pass by a silversmith on our tour? I wish to inquire about polishing some silver coins.” Jongo gives Kalahn directions to a silversmith and also says New Mazra is such an important trading post that the Aval Library always has at least one sage posted at the permanent Aval Kingdom consular office.
Before retiring to bed, Kalahn approaches Sorkin, “My friend, I know you may be short on time, but I was wondering if tomorrow morning, you would be interested in accompanying me to Enril’s house. I carry with me an item that I wish to know more about and Jongo told me it would be a private place to perform a special prayer to gather such information. Depending upon the results, you may also be able to aid me further, if you would not object. I also plan to visit a silversmith on the way back. By the way, would you know where I might procure a small piece of wood for carving? I would like to make a gift for Jongo." Kalahn adds, “I am pleased you will be making this journey with us. I would hate to see you suffer anymore injury at the hands of the Brothers.”
Sorkin’s curiosity is piqued at Kalahn’s box. “I’m in! Let’s go check it out tomorrow. As for wood, I did happen to procure some. It’s very fine quality stuff, definitely worth 1 gp, but since you saved my life, I’ll practically give it to you for 3 sp. Should I go get it now?” If Kalahn doesn’t accept the price, Sorkin haggles down to 2 sp. “You’ve definitely done me a service, Kalahn, and I’m willing to take a huge loss with it. 2 sp it is!”