Not keen to encounter more pa-trolls, we decided to make our way along through the bush instead – not in the thick weird vegetation right near the road, but still close enough to the road to (roughly) parallel it.
After a fairly long day of slogging through, we settled down for a night’s camp. Towards the end of Cog’s (first) watch, he noticed that the jungle sounds seemed to… go quiet, and had the feeling that we were being watched… however, the rest of the night passed fairly uneventfully, and neither of the other watches two noticed anything unusual.
As we began to move on, some of the party noticed a bare patch of hard, rocky ground, a little way ahead. Maul in particular noticed that there were boulders which did not appear to be there by chance.
Aloeine shape-shifted into a falcon in order to do a bit of reconnaisance: she could see that the bare patch was around the boulders and a little downhill from there. The further away from the boulders, the more vegetation. And there also seemed to be a path leading from the boulders off into the jungle. As Aloeine circled, she could see that there was some sort of writing (in dwarvish script), and a door (camouflaged to look like the stone, but definitely a door). She returned to us and reported what she had seen. We then made our collective way up, whereupon Cog & Al could read: DANGER: LIBRARY SUPPLIES. (I know librarians are hardcore, but what exactly is so dangerous about the supplies?)
As we approached – about 20’ away – the door opened, and a dwarf with no beard (sort of like a horse with no name, or a pub with no beer) stepped out, pointing a crossbow at us. He insisted first on inspecting our heads, and was relieved by the absence of fungus… then permitted us to come in. He then told us about the history of mining in the area. It seems that wizards had set up a library in a cavern (which was a spent mine), and this storehouse is stocked with anti-fungals for tending to the books. He’s also got a lot of flatgoat (ah, so that’s the reason for the DANGER sign).
The lack of beard is, he tells us, to avoid fungal growth.
A few months back, he says, the people went mad. (Although no-one likes to talk with old Arnik). There was a dreadful business with the library: “they” came in and killed the librarians. One of “your” type (he points at Al) – [gnome? yes]… went in – and a bunch of humans with swords – anyway, she spent some time there, and then came out again. Heard she went down south, to the south end of the island – Freshwater Harbour.
We ask about buying some antifungal powder, because it seems to us that could be a crucial weapon if we’re fighting srs fungus. We buy a 20lb sack of antifungal powder for 100gp. I’m not sure whether or not that was a good deal (or if it was a good deal… for whom?). And we have no idea how toxic it is. Al might try a bit on an enemy that really pisses her off (after all, a change from unlimited Acid Splashes is as good as a holiday).
Aloeine also noticed – because she’s observant like that – that the clear area around the hut corresponds pretty well to where the rain would wash things to.
We decide to follow the path towards the library mine, and when we get there we find that the vegetation around the outside of that cavern is again thinner – probably due to antifungal use.
On the front is a sign saying “library closed”. But the door is open.
As we enter, we hear a voice: “please wipe your feet”. We do so. We wonder when the skeletons we see lying around last had feet to wipe.
Since wizards built this place, we decide to exercise a fair degree of caution. Detect Magic reveals a few magic auras around the place. Magic is radiating from a skeleton, which has a pair of goggles on a chain around its neck. Maul uses Mel’s quarterstaff to lift the goggles off it. Al picks them up and has a look through them – it seems they are very powerful magnifying goggles. Al passes them to Cogs.
We search another skeleton – it has a ring (but Al is unsuccessful at identifying the ring, so we pocket it for now). Then as we continue to search… spider! Big spider! We fight the spider. We kill the spider.
We then progress to the restricted section (Cogs picks up a skeleton of a librarian since the automatic voice tells us we need a librarian)… and after we enter, we hear things flapping towards us… books? Why are the books flapping towards us?
We neutralise them with water and blocking a doorway with stone, then search the area a bit more carefully. Eventually we find some volumes that look different. Unfortunately they’re also nastily trapped. Cogs disarms the first one, then trips the next two. Disarm, trip, disarm. They hurt though – Maul needed to use some healing.
We take the special volumes, since they’ll take some time to work through, and start making our way out of the library… at which point we are greeted by three trolls. A good solid fight, and they’re done.
We then head back to Arnik’s, and persuade him to let us stay for a few days. Apparently, for some reason, “they don’t tend to search here”.
The notes are rather cryptic and not well organised, so it takes a long time to get anything out of them, but…
See Floriane’s research notes. It seems it’s all a chain of control using a fungus-infected dragon as the lynch pin. That sack of antifungal powder we purchased is sounding more important than ever.
Also, that ring is a very nice ring of force shield. I’ll take that. And owe the party quite a lot of gold.