After taking care of the bandits in Kuto’s Well, you’ve got a few options ahead of you. In order to reach the Cadorna’s Textile House, you have to go through either Mendor’s Library or Podol Plaza. You also get your first quest specific party member here – a quest to liberate the Temple of Il-Mater, which has been defiled into being a Temple of Bane on the other side of the river. This gets you a sixth party member, the cleric who is carrying out this quest – and he’ll stick with you until you complete the quest. Which means he’ll stay with you for any other quests you do between then and now – so that quest can wait.
That leaves Mendor’s Library and Podol Plaza. Mendor’s Library has a slightly different sort of barrier to completion. A literal one. By which I mean the doors around the library can only be opened if you succeed at a lockpick check, or at a check at bashing the door down, or through the use of a lock spell – and you can only try each once per door per time in the hex. And, well, in spite of my fighter having exceptional strength, we were unable to bash the door down, my thief couldn’t pick the lock, and none of my spellcasters have the knock spell. So, Podol Plaza it is!
The Podol Plaza quest is, in short, a stealth mission. Success depends on being able to sneak your way through this area – ideally in disguise as some monsters, get as close as you can to the auction block, and then to either find out what the weapon is – and to find out the buyer or even to buy it yourself. (You can’t actually buy it yourself).
So, in spite of all your desires to start busting heads in the first place, success here means working in a manner contrary to those interests. There are other RPGs of this era that emphasize not fighting – the later Ultima games and the gargoyles, Wizardry’s alignment system was based around whether you initiated combat against friendly monsters. In Pool of Radiance, this quest is very much based around you avoiding combat – through wearing a disguise and walking the walk – acting like you own the place and that you could own the monsters who get in your way.
Once that’s done – so is the quest – you can come back here and pick 10 random encounters to clear the area and get the relevant reward. Also, once you complete this quest, several more areas open up – a few more city hexes across the way – and several additional areas outside the city. Oh yeah, and one other place.
Remember the Valhingen Graveyard, the place where adventuring parties go to die? That’s available now. While I appreciate having another cleric in my party – I’m going to hold off on this one, though I’m absolutely doing this before the Temple of Bane.