Idea Mining: Incident at Rothsburg - excuses for a dungeon
Listen up, my friend, and I'll tell you how it is...
Rothsburg wasn't a big city to begin with, more of a town with pretensions to being a city. Eight thousand souls, including the farm owners and their tenants and slaves in surrounding land. They brought in a small flow of merchant traffic through on the Path of the Sun - the main east-west highway from Geenbrough on the western coast through the Bright Spires and eventually to Lindonia, capital of the empire that bears the same name, may the gods always shine bright upon her - and the White River flows roughly northeast to southwest through as well, with some barge traffic stopping to overnight or to transship goods.
That is, it was a small and quiet place until the summer just past, when the town was raised by such a ruckus as has not been heard in time immemorial, a crashing of stone and rumbling of the very earth as had been unheard-of this far west of the Spires. Those that came finally to investigate found that something terrible had happened along the northwest stretch of the Old Wall, a heretofore strong bulwark against raids that had, thankfully, stopped happening some fifty years prior, but an ancient part of the city nonetheless. An enormous sink-hole had opened up, and swallowed a good forty feet of the wall, taking it down into a dark, deep chasm. Loreth's stables, which had stood hard against the wall, had also disappeared into the gap, and a goodly stretch of the greensward on the far side of the wall as well.
Folk as were worried about Loreth and his kin soon rigged up ropes and started to climb down into the pit, to see if they could find any survivors, though few thought there much chance given how desperately deep the hole went. Indeed, of the four that went down, only two returned, reporting strange things - an eerie blue glow, and a pulsing of sound akin to a slow and terrible heart-beat. Belfas had fallen when his rope was shorn by a sharp outcropping of rock, and he plunged to what must have been his death - his cries were suddenly cut off after far, far too long a fall. But Timorgh didn't suffer any such calamity. Calm and serene the entire time, Myka and Rufus watched young Tim deliberately cut himself loose from his ropes and dive like a Kingfisher into the haze and the darkness, never so much as crying out once.
But for all the strangeness of the losses, the story that won't be forgotten in a month of Sundays is that of what Myka found. He went lower into the chasm than Rufus dared, and he returned with a small lump of gold, as big as a robin's egg - and with a weight to make it worth five years of a common man's salary.
Well, as the word spread, more expeditions were made, but no more gold or other precious finds were made, and more than a handful of deaths did occur before the Lord Mayor put a stop to it. The Pit is now guarded day and night - first by the constabulary, then by the army of the Emperor. A wall has been built up around it, and now only licensed agents of the Emperor can go inside to peer into the depths and take auguries and try to figure out the mystery.