There is something special about it, about the way gold shines in the sunlight. Something special about the way that it holds the light even when sitting in the shade...
Von Turin, Prospector
For a long time, men have made a great show of worshipping gods of war, and of love, and or mercy and forgiveness. Yet in their hearts they lied both to their gods and to themselves, for there is only one thing that men truly love. A man will kill his brother for gold, and for that luminous metal he will betray his wife, and sell his children.
This is as it should be, for Gold is the king of all metals, and even the great and enlightened art of alchemy seeks nothing more than the creation of the greatest metal.
Tragos the Greedy
The Palace of Profits
The Palace was the life's work of one Prince Jacobin Xaon, a wealthy and influential prince who was given a great curse. While ridding into battle for his king, Xaon took a grievous wound to the groin that technically made him a eunuch. With his ability to create an heir destroyed, Xaon found his wedding bed to be cold and empty. A year after the wound, he found himself shunned by his wife as he was no longer capable of performing his husbandly duty to her.
Distraught, Xaon took refuge with the one thing left that brought him joy, gold. He no longer felt lust for battle, or for the fairer sex. He only could find contentment in his treasury. To this end he struck upon an idea and quickly commenced the construction of the greatest display of wealth ever conceived. He had plans for a grand palace drawn up. There was to be a vaulted ceiling running it's length with a rotunda in the center. The hallway would be lined with niches for statues and other works of art.
Ruthlessly and efficiently, he saw the building raised from the best stone possible. He hired goldsmiths and alchemists to create paper thin gold and glue that was used to gild the stone work. All of the seats and furniture were inlaid with gold and jewels. The floors themselves were set with panels of the metal laying under sheets of clear glass, as he didn't want the soft metal scuffed by boots and shoes.
Gold statues lined the wall niches. Each of them was a testament to the glory of gold, and the base nature of all else. The desires of the flesh were made into gold, as comely women and men, yet each found their splendor not in the human form, but in their golden hue. Warriors were made, steel swords and armor discarded for the hue of gold, and even wizards and scholars bowed their bearded faces before that finest of metals. The pinnacle of the statues was the Gold Goddess under the rotunda.
The Goddess sits serene, her legs crossed, completely nude. Her face is almost loving as she looks down at her golden breasts and naked lap. In her left hand she holds a sword by the blade, but the blade itself has bent rather than bite into her flesh. In her right hand, she holds a rod of state and sorcery, which has also submitted to the supreme authority of her golden nature.
Xaon's fief quickly ran towards poverty as he hired artisans to weave gold thread tapestries, and to make candelabras and statues of gold. The palace was finished in stone, but there came a crisis when he could not afford to pay his artists, as the coin in the coffers had been melted down to make raw material for them to work in. He offered letters of credit and granted his land away one piece at a time to the workers to keep up their labors.
Rebellion and the Curse
Xaon eventually sold his keep and his horses. He parceled all of his land away except for the few acres surrounding the Palace of Profits. He wept bitter tears when he learned that he had nothing left to barter or sell when the tax collectors came. He sent them away with a drawn sword and harsh words, but he knew they would return. As he prepared to give his life defending the palace from his once and former king, he was beset by thieves.
Masked and armed with chisels and picks, the thieves attacked with the object of looting the palace of its splendid fortune in gold. Xaon leapt to its defence, and laid about with his sword until half of the thieves lay dead or wounded. He himself was grievously injured, and knew he would be unable to defend the palace when the tax men came with their dour faced soldiers and the king's assassins.
Xaon drug the bodies of the wounded to the rotunda where a statue rose from the floor, a colossus of steel framing and gold plate. She smiled beatifically, an angel crafted of shimmering gold. Xaon ritually killed each of the wounded men, letting their heart's blood spill out on the gold. He cursed them, and he laid a curse on the palace that no man or woman, no child or beast could take even a flake of gold from that place without falling to the curse.
When the Tax collectors came they found the palace smeared with blood, infernal symbols and arcane marks on the doors and the walls, the curse itself spelled in the common tongue, written in blood. Xaon himself sat in the lap of his golden goddess, his eyes staring cold and dead into her gold eyes.
Tasting the Golden Curse
After several commands, the tax collectors started removing gold items from the palace. On the first day, six of the men died in various incidents. Two suffered unnatural deaths while in the throws of lust, two others choked and died, while the last two were slain by angry peasants with bows and slings.
Within a year, the curse of the gold was well known as cursed bits of gold burned their way through the prostitute community. It isn't known how many were slain by the death curse of Xaon and his tainted gold. The king, frightened by this display of hexing ordered a guard placed around the palace to keep the place from being looted by opportunistic thieves who gambled on fencing the gold before the curse could touch them.
The New Dawn
The New Dawn came when another eunuch gained permission to clean the palace, as the cursed blood was left. After a month of work, the gold once again shown, though much of the statuary was placed under linen covers to deter potential thieves as well as to keep it clean. Within a decade, the eunuch was the head of a small semi-monastic order of men unable to rear children and even a few women left barren by illness, disease, or war.
The curse remained, and the first eunuch himself was struck dead when he accidentally carried a gold coin out of the palace and was struck by a falling tree branch. His work was carried on, and the survivors shaped a new statue in his likeness and placed it in the unfurnished portion of the Palace.
The First Meeting
Seeing the palace and its splendor, Jakan the royal guildmaster sought out the head custodian. They discussed the nature of the curse, and it was decided that the High Guild would hold its next formal meeting in the Palace. THe meet was a success and the guildmasters were stunned not only by the sheer amount of gold in the palace, but by the level of artistry that had gone into it. Being wealthy men, they could understand the value of gold beyond its pure financial value.
Meals were served on gold flatware, with gold utensils and gold cups. One remarked that it was the most splendid meal he had ever eaten, even though the food was at best mediocre. Wearing bleached white robes and decked in the finery of a king, each of the eunuchs served the guild members while they ate, and later when they held their official meetings and conferences.
Invitations - The PCs have done good for a powerful and wealthy patron. His gift to them is to serve a feast in their honor in the Palace of Profits. The PCs enjoy a banquet worthy of their achievements served on gold plates, on gold inlaid tables etc. Can they accept the aesthetic value of gold, or do they invite the curse by trying to pilfer some flatwear?
Break the Bank - If someone can break Xaon's curse, they will have access to enough gold that they could potentially disrupt a Kingdom's economy for years. Breaking the curse is possible, though difficult. The curse is self-feeding, as it was born of greed, the greed of those who would steal from the Palace do nothing but sustain the curse's power. Xaon's ghost has since permutated into a demonic form that has only the interest of basking in its gold and protecting it. He cannot be communicated with as he no longer exists on a human level of intelligence.
The Meeting - The Palace was named well after Xaon's death. When the Merchant's Guild began their annual meetings, along with the Bankers Guild the Palace became a nexus of financial power, even though no coin was ever brought into its confines. Surrounded by such wealth, these men of power and influence made staggeringly important, but very dull decisions such as loan rates, and rates of exchange for bushels of grain against the gold standard. The PCs could be hired as muscle to protect the proceedings, or as spies to infiltrate the palace and assassinate/spy on/influence one of the members attending.
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? Responses (7)
5/5 The palace could be the place where dead kings and queens are buried as well-a good way to help stop grave robbers. Does Xaon's demonic ghost haunt the palace?
A place made for political games and meetings. I like the curse, and touch of eunuchs being in charge gives the history an ironic undertone. Excellent; also a good excuse to put a great palace full of treasures within reach without fearing your PC's will rob it. ;)
I can imagine the odd worshipper of gold coming to this temple to honour the thought and enjoy the sight. Sometimes, they could even bring a bit of gold to add to the treasure, knowing well it cannot be taken away anymore; what other offering for the god (goddess?) of Gold is there? The eunuchs running the place know of them, and leave them as harmless fools. Of course, should anyone ever manage to break the curse, he will earn undying revenge of those influential and wealthy men.
Oh, and any goldsmith may also want to visit the place, to take inspiration from the beauty, and practice his trade by repairing anything damaged. It could be an excellent place to train apprentices, teaching them honesty most easily.
Plot hook: not far from the Palace, you find a dead magpie (or any bird or beast that likes shiny things), a piece of gold still clutching in her claws. Will you take the risk and transport it back? Or leave it lying, not knowing who will find it and bring upon himself the curse?
I foound this one fascinating. Loads of good solid detail weaving a great tale.
Loved every word! I like the way the curse is explained (self-feeding), because until I got to that passage I was wondering why a 'curse-reverse' or some such thing, wasnt atempted. Love the eunuchs! (men without testicles are always trusted :D). Love the whole gold & greed theme! But my favorite concept here, is the way the wealthy gather here to hold their meetings, surrounded by exquisite splendor. Nice touch!
Also loved Manfred's take on this :D
'and practice his trade by repairing anything damaged.'
But if he got any golddust on himself when he was doing that, and then he went to leave...
Speaking of gold dust, that's be a great way to assassinate the entire Merchants Guild. You sneak into the kitchen and put some gold in their wine, they drink it and go to leave. Suddenly they're struck by the curse too. *cues evil laughter*
Gold I tell you! This one is Gold!
Seriously, this is excellent, and could fit in the Game of Thrones universe without too much work.