Pyramid Heist

So I was just minding my own business, right? I wake up in some loft somewhere, and I'm trying to get my bearings, when I hear a knock on the door, and some courier boy hands me an envelope. Says it's for Flint Ramkin.

So I think: Odd, I never get any mail. Must be something important.

I open the letter, and inside is a summons. It says there's a job offering, but doesn't go into any detail. There's something else in the envelope too: A small golden coin. It falls onto the table, and when I bend down to pick it up, suddenly everything goes black and I'm sitting at a round table with a three strange looking blokes, who all look similarly confused.

There's a drow with a bow on his back, who introduces himself as Floyd "Deadeye" Diggle. I don't even try to hide my laughter. He's apparently an assassin with a reputation, though. There's also a man named Anthony Summers, some big-shot Bishkan businessman. Then there's a half-elf lady with some fancy blue tattoos, introduces herself as Arora Mayfields. We each have a slip of paper on a desk in front of us.

The slip is a contract we've signed. It says we've willingly had our memories erased since we first touched the coin. We've agreed to take on a job for payment that was verbally agreed upon between us and someone called "The Architect." No details about the payment are present, but it seems we've all thought it was worth it.

The job was to go to the vault of the Bishkan National Bank, a maximum security pyramid-shaped bank in the centre of Bishk's capitol, which we were apparently in right now, and break into the vault. At the last page was a code for a safety deposit box. We each had a different code. It was explained that there was a psychic scanning field at the entrance to the bank, a sophisticated piece of magic that would detect any plans to rob or infiltrate the bank. Hence, we had our memories erased, and we had no plans for infiltration. We would bring a mundane briefcase in, with plans inside on ordinary paper, and evade this security.

Seemed vague enough. We'd head in, and pretend to be Anthony's bodyguards. He was a wealthy man with an account at the bank, but he was fed up with Bishkan corruption. He'd just say he wanted to store an item in his safety deposit box, and we'd strike when we got to the deposit room. One more thing: we were each given a small cylinder with a button on one end. If we held the cylinder and pressed the button, we would be vaporized. It was like a cyanide pill, only more advanced.

We set out. On the way I nick a couple gunpowder grenades from an adventuring shop. Never hurts to have a couple vault breakers in the back pocket.

We get though the psychic field with nothing more than a bit of nausea and a few headaches, and sit down to take a number. I busy myself by sizing up the body guards of the other bigshots. Before we're called to the front desk, an alarm goes off — someone had headed through the psychic field with impure thoughts, apparently. Seems he's just gonna make an example out of himself.

Guards come out of the woodwork, led by some official seeming secretary lady, named Vyse Auspin. Did I ever mention I hate secretaries? Like, really, really hate them? I do, alright? Ever since I was a lad.

Anyways, Vyse brings the poor sod up to the front, and all of a sudden the room gets colder. We can all feel something moving around, but whatever it is, it's invisible. Then finally, she says "Show yourself, Nivix." and a hideous looking demon appears behind the guy. It's bound up in a sort of straight jacket thing, it's got a helmet on, and its wings are tied. Still, it manages to look terrifying. The poor sod falls to his knees and begs for his life, but the secretary (damn them all!) shows no mercy.

And then we see a man's soul get sucked out through his nostrils. Cor, I wish I was lying. This demon sucks his soul out of his body, and we watch them drag this man off to be disposed of. Vyse makes meaningful eye contact with everyone in the waiting room. I gulp and don't meet it.

So that's why we have suicide buttons. Death's better than having your soul sucked out by a demon, any day.

Finally, our number is called. We head to the front desk, refuse an escort, and walk into the deposit room. On the far end it's got a chute where you put your item, and it gets ferried down to your box. Very secure. I put the remnants of my lunch in the box, and then we open the briefcase.

It's got some written instructions, a rudimentary map, and what looks like an alchemical breach-bomb. Summers examines the map and says we can enter the stairwell that leads down to the main vault by blowing a hole in the floor. Must be what the breach bomb is for. We're taking too long; there's knocking on the door, and a guard is asking if we're okay in here.

Arora sets the bomb down, and activates it while we all take cover. A hole is melted cleanly in the floor, and I take the liberties of being the first one to jump down. I'm in a big room with a spiral staircase along the edges. And it's filled with patrolling guards. So this is why they brought me along. The architect could have said something. I draw Doomraiser, and smile.

Diggle comes in after me, and immediately turns invisible. Summers and Aurora jump down, and the former seals up the hole we left with some magic, while the latter cowers behind us. Diggle turns out to be worth more than his weight in steel weaponry, appearing every now and again to divert attention from me and pick off a couple guards.

When I fell the two in front of me, all that's left are a couple on the other side of the stairwell. I'm not one for the long way around - I draw out my grappling hook, and toss it up to the railing of a higher landing, and tarzan my way towards them.

I may have miscalculated, however - my flying kick is thwarted by a spur of the moment dodge, and I crash into the opposite wall. Could be worse, though. I kip up, and Diggle and I finish off the last couple guardsmen. Suddenly, it's quiet. Suddenly, it's cold.

We look at the bottom of the chamber, and my heart nearly stops. The Nivix demon is sitting on top of the vault, slumbering. Diggle consults the map, and points out a large ventilation duct at the bottom that could serve to lead us through the basement complex, to another vault entrance. The problem is that we would need to sneak by the demon.

So we go one at a time. Diggle goes first, makes it all right, followed by aurora and I. Summers trips. The bloke literally trips. Blimey, I felt like a tosser for making fun of him earlier. His bag skids towards us on the floor, and we watch the demon latch onto him and start sucking the life out of him. I try shouting, diggle fires an arrow - none of us want to get close. Finally, when it seems nothing's going to stop him, I dive for Summers's bag, and fish out his suicide button, then toss it to him. With the last of his strength, he presses the button, and we watch as his body crumbles to dust. And then we run, as fast as we possibly can.

We travel in silence until we arrive in the basement complex. It's pitch dark, and looks to be in disuse. The intercom blares on, and Vyse's voice rings clearly though the complex. She tells us that she's released Nivix into the basement to sniff us out. We all decide that we need to split up if we are to have a chance at completing the mission. We all head our separate ways.

As I'm searching for the exit, I hear a scream, that cuts off abruptly. So it got Aurora. Next it would find me or Diggle. I keep looking, frantically, until I feel a cold sensation. Not knowing what to do, I hide in a broom closet, and cower. The thing stomps by, and stops just outside the door. And then I hear Diggle shout: "Hey! You monster! I'm alive and well over here! Look at all this tasty life energy!"

And then the stomping resumes. Diggle has perhaps saved my life. I won't let that go to waste. I run until I find the exit.

From there, it's a simple walk into the main vaults. All I have to do is blow a door open. Suddenly, I'm in a room filled with safety deposit boxes, stacked up to the ceiling. My number is P180, Summers is M23. I set to searching. When Diggle taps me on the shoulder, I nearly jump 10 feet in the air. He's craftier than he looks.

Box M23 is unlocked, and in it is a single lockbox. I don't know the combination, so I simply stow it. There's also the remnants of my lunch in there. Diggle opens his box, and a light seems to spread across his face. He says he's been paid in full, and keeps looking for Aurora's box. I head into the back room, where P180 is located. It's a break from all the stacked strongboxes - the final room is a study-like area, with only one lattice of boxes. I march in, open P180, and take out a small vial with a note attached. I read it. It's the antidote to my sister's disease.

My heart quickens and I drop it into the inside pocket of my jacket. Paid in full indeed! No wonder I agreed to work for the architect. But this is confusing - if the boxes contain our payment, then why does the Architect need us to break into the bank? It doesn't make sense.

I'm interrupted by a cold, secretary like voice. It's Vyse. The door slams shut behind me. She smiles from behind a desk, and tells me that this is the end of the line, and she's going to enjoy making an example out of me. I ask how she plans on doing that, being that she's unarmed and I'm the bloke with a sword.

From the corridor I hear Diggle scream, and abruptly stop. She smiles as the demon floats into the room, and then states that I'm the last one left. Before she kills me, she wants to know who sent me, and what exactly was in the deposit box. I take a deep breath, and look around. I notice that the summoning circle for the demon is etched in this room, and this room is her private office. She is the one who summoned the demon. If she dies, the demon is released.

It's too little too late - the demon is already behind me, breathing down my neck. One wrong move and I'm dead. I tell her that the thing in the vault was a priceless artefact, and I had been sent to steal it by a wealthy mage. I say that the device I had stolen was a memory cache - a small box that held all the knowledge and memories of Jace Ramses, the legendary mage. I take out the small suicide button. One press, and all his memories will be transferred into the user, I say.

She says she doesn't believe me.

I say I risked my life to get it. She can believe anything she wants. I say I don't care about my employer. I say he can burn for sending me and my friends to our deaths. I say she can press the button herself if she wants to find out.

The woman contemplates this, and doesn't see through my bluff. She snatches the cylinder, and hammers on the button. I watch her scream as her body crumbles to dust. The room gets a lot colder, as the demon shakes off its bindings.

I turn around. "So, we're all right, you and me?" I ask it. It thanks me for freeing it, laments that it has been serving for ten years, and tells me that it will now bring the entire bank to the ground. It tells me to run if I know what's good for me. I vault over the desk, and look for a hidden lever that will open a secret exit path. Bank owners and rulers and bureaucrats always have one. She turns out to be no different.

An elevator opens up behind a bookshelf. I get on, and ride it to the top, and then I run full tilt through the offices, past the psycho scanner, and into the streets before turning around to see the entire building blown skyward. The demon surveys the chaos before returning, satisfied, to its home plane.

I dust myself off, and decide to find myself a loft to pass out in before heading back to Ashan. It's been a long day.

When I arrive, I notice right away that something's off about the room. I feel as though I'm being watched. I call out, take a few swings at the curtain, check under the bed, and then nearly jump out of my skin when I get tapped on the shoulder.

Diggle is behind me, grinning. I ask him how the hell he's alive, and he explains that the suicide buttons weren't suicide buttons at all. They were teleportation devices. When Diggle used his, he ended up in a small basement cafe a few blocks away, with Summers and Aurora. The Architect takes care of his people, it seems.

When Vyse teleported, they were all taken aback, and they immediately restrained her. It turned out that The Architect had planned to send us in to destroy the bank, and we had succeeded. The mission, in fact, was flawlessly executed. I ask Diggle what his payment had been, and he says that it was a full pardon from his home kingdom, as well as from Lavanda and Aetheria. He is no longer a wanted man. I tell him that mine was a cure for my dying sister's illness.

We each flash the coins that the architect has given us, and Diggle says he hopes to work again with me in the future. I give him a similar wish. Then we part ways.

This Architect fellow, now he's a man I'd be glad to work for again.

—Flint Ramkin

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