This session happened Wednesday, October 6, 2010. I missed the previous session due to illness and the adventurers had stopped at one of the I.C.E. waystations rather than return to Vestige, hence my abrupt trans-location.
Artemis (half-elf rogue)
Arthus (half-elf paladin)
Book (elf rogue)
Gilgamesh (uffnik artificer)
Four days after Gil, Artemis, Arthus, and Jonathan headed out (without me), I awoke to discover I was in a waystation, not back at the Gnome Hill Inn. Somehow I had been transported to the waystation the Artemis, Arthus, and Gilgamesh were in. This implies either a deeper link between I.C.E. and Gnome Hill or our I.C.E. tokens do a lot more than we were told. I’m not certain I like the implications of either solution.
After a hearty breakfast, the others partially brought me up to date. They have been in all sorts of trouble, including nearly burning down an evil temple with a library and a failed attack on a goblin fort to retrieve Gil’s pony, which somehow got stolen by the goblins – I never got a complete or straight story about that. After telling me what they were willing to share, they asked my opinion as to which location we should return to.
I decide to investigate the evil temple instead of attacking the goblin fort (I mean, really).
After a half-day’s travel, we arrived at the underground remains of the temple. I was escorted through the chapel, where they fought animated skeletons to an area I refer to as the Rector’s Office. There is a desk and several shelves of books and the remains of an exploded armoire (Gil is bad luck when helping with traps apparently).
After searching around to see if anything was missed, they show me the illusory wall that hides the entrance to the library. This area has possibly the largest concentration of books, scrolls, and papers I’ve seen outside of the University back in Verden. (Yes, I’ve been to the University. They have a number of valuable items which can fetch a nice sum when sold to a reliable fence, including certain books. It was my specialty, hence my nickname, Book. You didn’t think my parents named me that did you?)
After they showed me around the library, they showed me the trapped set of double doors, one of which had been set off, sealing the door shut permanently somehow. The other exit was a secret door leading to a room with a summoning circle permanently inscribed on the floor. That room also had a set of stairs leading down. The trick here was that both Arthus and Artemis had been teleported into the circle when they entered the room and been weakened when Gil tried to get them back out. To avoid this trap, we disassembled an adjacent set of shelves and knocked out a part of the wall separating the two rooms. Easy, really.
The Summoning Chamber contained even more books, but these concentrated on summoning magics and other fell topics – we could not read most of them as they were in the fell languages of demons and devils. On a writing desk was some stationary and a quill. Inside a drawer of the desk was a jeweled coffer, an unflawed gem, and a bag of gold coins with twice the gold value of regular gold marks. Bribes or rewards?
We took the stairs down to another room full of books, this time all index books covering the rest of the library. Each page indicated title, author, subject, location on the shelves, and had a short synopsis of the contents. We spent some time trying to decide which of these we would take for later referral, but we eventually gave up when we peaked into the next room – the main library chamber.
A short aside here. So far, we had been through four rooms full of books. Back in Verden, I could parley this into a size-able amount of gold, but transferring the whole thing would take months if not a year or two. So I did my best to keep an eye out for noticeably valuable books and picked up a few on magic that caught my eye. If nothing else, I could read them later to see if they were really worth anything, and this I ended up doing later.
The Main Library was a very large chamber with an impressive number of books, most of which weren’t very valuable. General topics of varying degrees of complexity. I didn’t bother trying to move any of them I was so unimpressed. Turned out to be a good thing, too. There was a valuable carpet in front of the main doors, which I rolled up to check for concealed trap doors (and so it would fit in my bag of holding – hey, it was treasure, alright?). The only impressive things were the stained glass main doors and some oddly placed mirrors on the walls.
Thinking stained glass doors meant access to the surface, we opened them and went into the next chamber. We were wrong – the doors led to an underground cemetery. Not a crypt, mind you, a cemetery with grave markers and such. We checked the grave markers and they listed people by job description. The dates indicated that they had all died on the same day. The markings were obviously in the same hand as all the books in the catalog, suggesting the catalogist survived, but there was a grave for him as well, listing the same date of death. This was very odd.
While searching the chamber, Artemis and I spotted a secret door over in one corner on the back wall. Opening it, we found a golden coffin, extremely similar to the one in the Mausoleum. Inserting Creation’s Key into a circular opening caused the coffin to light up under the effect of a daylight spell, illuminating the entire cavern. It also unlocked the coffin. Inside was a body holding a wooden box, just like in the Mausoleum. I carefully opened it, pulled out a white robe and a pair of gold glasses, and then reclosed the box and the coffin, which still glowed intensely. It was odd that this provided so much light in an underground chamber, which set my mind to thinking.
I returned to the Main Library with Artemis and we closed the stained glass doors. The sunlight spell lit the doors, which also gave off six beams of light and projected an image where the carpet had been. Artemis and I followed the beams of light (some of which were reflected off the oddly placed mirrors), realizing they illuminated particular book titles and only certain words on those books. Writing them all down and sorting it out, we came up with a sentence: “Bring Light to the Locked Saltwater Grave”. Clearly a clue, but to what we have no idea. I re-rolled out the carpet and the image projected on the floor was two identifiable columns bracketing the symbol woven into the carpet, that of a book and sword, backed by a sun. I quickly sketched this out and we let Gil and Arthus back in as they had started complaining like small children about being locked out on the porch.
I suggested Gil and Arthus re-check our findings in the Main Library and then borrowed Gil’s shovel. He had an idea of what I was about to do and started dragging Arthus around to look at things with Jonathan in tow. Artemis and I stepped back outside and closed the doors. We then stepped over to the catalogist’s grave and dug it up. How could a dead person bury everyone else and himself while leaving no traces? We were determined to find out.
We uncovered the coffin and opened it. Inside was a body with a journal and a quill. I retrieved both and Artemis and I started reading the journal’s final entries. Apparently, the temple was a center of learning and the home of a monastic order. About five years ago, the place was attacked and sacked by evil forces and the catalogist survived by hiding in an armoire (the one Artemis blew up last time they were here). After the evil forces left, the catalogist buried all his brethren. But if he survived, who was actually buried here under his name and title and why? Neither Artemis nor I had an answer and we quickly re-buried the coffin, keeping the journal. Something is definitely up here. By the time we finished our digging (and cleaning up a bit), Gil and Arthus had confirmed our interpretation of what the lights meant. If Arthus noticed the dirt on Artemis and I, he gave no indication.
Above the double doors was a balcony that seemed to lead back into the area we could not enter earlier. Using a grapple, we climbed up and investigated. There was a set of plain glass doors leading to an office of some sort, possibly of the head librarian. Inside was an ornate desk with two drawers, four dressing dummies wearing three sets of armor and a set of robes, and a large statue of a man in robes. Where there were double doors in the Library, this side only had one door and a blank wall. Apparently the trap, when triggered on a door, permanently seals the spot by magically placing a wall where the door should open.
Artemis and I determined that the desk drawers were trapped, but the dress dummies were not. The armor and robes either tested as magical or were made of rare metals, so we quickly put them in the bag of holding for later identification. While moving them, we noticed a secret door on a side wall and decided to hold off on exploring that until we finished with this room. The traps on the desk drawers were very difficult to disarm, reset themselves, and were nigh deadly (luckily we had plenty of healing available). Convinced there were things of value in the desk, we persevered and eventually disarmed the traps and gained entry into the drawers.
Inside the drawers we found treasure indeed, including another bag of holding, a belt of giant strength [+2], a circlet of persuasion, goggles of night, a hand of glory [a mummified human hand on a cord], a pouch of the double-value gold coins, and a very well locked book. We did not know all of this immediately, but when we camped later Gil was able to identify all but the book.
Having finished exploring this room, we next checked the secret door. Behind it was a shallow but wide room containing five chests – the Treasury! Artemis and I took our time and thoroughly checked the room out. This was a good thing as all the chests were linked to a single trap that would have immolated anyone in the room and possibly the chests and their contents. These people were very serious about no one getting their belongings!
Disabling the room trap, we had Arthus haul each chest out of the room individually to the balcony, where Artemis and I worked on them, one at a time. Each chest contained a large sack of coins and we filled out bags of holding with coinage of various denominations.
At this point we were all tired and so we camped in this office. During the night, Gil claimed that the statue was watching him, but none of us saw anything of the kind. I spent much of my time on watch reading several magical theory books and reference books and I think I have some definite insights on things arcane now. Reading the magic was difficult and tedious, but I have learned much about the art of evocation.
The next morning Gil identified all of the magical items we had accumulated the previous day and we were quite pleased with ourselves. Having completely explored this area, we decided to return to the waystation to prepare for our next goal – retrieval of Gil's pony and revenge on the goblins. We closed and locked the doors of this area on our way out (there are still a great many books that I wish to return and collect). By the end of the day we were back at the nearest waystation to rest and plan our assault of the goblin fort.