In the LIBRARY of Obscurus‘ MANSION, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Fil the Drow Cleric of Zephyr, Kaid the Goliath Barbarian, David the Half-Elf Wizard, and Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin exchanged glances as they decided what to do with Obscurus’ invitation to follow him. On the one hand, there appeared to be no good reason or means to decline their host’s offer. On the other hand, they’d seen ample evidence that Obscurus was bad news. Shettebrek’s servants were operating out of his island’s HARBOR. Servants of Xorphax the goddess of intellect and mind control had imprisoned the red dragon Pyrrha Imperium. A statue of Apophis, the god of chaos, sat in the MANSION’s ARBORETUM and triggered a trapped portal to the very LIBRARY they’d entered by that means. Obscurus’ own brother was a noted necromancer, so it seemed as if the entire family was bent.
In the end, they decided to follow. Obscurus led them through the LIBRARY’s rows of shelves. They witnessed books stacking themselves onto carts and books floating to their places on the shelves. A book open on a lectern came equipped with a magical quill that was writing words they couldn’t quite focus on.
As they came to an opening in the stacks, they could see several floors of library shelves above them; however, what got their attention was a device in the northeast corner of the library. It was a cylinder made of glass and metal that looked like it could hold several people. It was descending to their floor as they approached. Seeing their interest, Obscurus noted that it was the work of a gnomish artificer once in his employ and that it was called the LIFT.
Since the LIFT could only hold six people, Kaid and Clementine opted to stay behind and wait until the LIFT returned.
Why Kaid Hates Books and Writing
A magical library is not typically an interesting place for a semi-literate barbarian goliath. It was Kaid’s boredom that began the pair’s trouble. He noticed a bookshelf standing by itself near the LIFT doors. Unlike the other stacks in the LIBRARY, the books on this one were chained to it. The barbarian could not fathom why books would be leashed. As he stepped closer to see if there was anything special about the books, one of the chains whipped out and attacked him!
Kaid had never been attacked by a library bookshelf before. In his panic, he reached for the neatest thing he could get his hands on to throw at the animated bookshelf. What he thought was a heavy tome turned out to be a book mimic that immediately adhered to his hand!
Kaid’s eyes widened at the book-turned-monster as it grew teeth, eyes and tentacles. He tried to shake it off but it was stuck to him like paste.
Seeing his plight, Clementine yelled, “Hold still! I’ll get it off you.”
Kaid’s eyes widened further as Clementine’s are came down on his hand! The mimic took most of the damage, but the barbarian felt his fair share of pain as the axe bit into his left hand.
“Get your axe out of my hand!” Kaid yelled, barely quenching a burst of barbarian rage. He had enough sense to imagine that going into a full berserker rage in a library of books that attacked you and stuck to you like glue was probably a bad idea.
Unfortunately, the book mimic adhesive property was strong. It held fast to the axe’s blade, no matter how hard Clementine tugged. A moment later, he was forced to let go of the handle to dodge a chain attach from the animated bookshelf. It was just as well, since every time he moved it, it caused Kaid agony from the axe blade. Clementine retreated a bit to consider his options.
In desperation, Kaid hooked the axe to the top of another bookshelf and tugged down hard. The mimic came off with a nasty sucking sound and a shower of barbarian blood. Kaid backpedaled to get out of range of the mimics flailing pseudopods. He joined Clementine briefly and then circled around the aisles of bookshelves to try to get around the monsters.
That’s when both of them realized that these LIBRARY monsters were now standing directly in front of and blocking their access to the LIFT.
Kaid drew his javelin and tossed it hard, but he neglected to account for his own dripping blood when he stepped forward to release. The javelin clattered to the floor uselessly ten feet from Kaid. The mimic moved forward until it was equal distance from the weapon. As they faced each other, Kaid realized that he needed to abandon the javelin unless he wanted to give the creature an opportunity to attack. Instead, he ran between the bookshelves to join Clementine.
Meanwhile, Clementine had sneaked up behind the animated bookshelf and tried to knock it over. He very much underestimated its mass. Startled, it whirled around, knocking into him hard. Even so, he was able to recover sufficiently to keep from being knocked to the ground. Panicking, he ran away from the LIFT to get away from the animated bookshelf.
Meeting on the other side of the library aisles, Kaid and Clementine tried to figure out what to do. The mimic made its way into the aidkes between the bookshelves in pursuit. The LIFT returned and the doors opened. Realizing that the monsters were very slow compared to them, they decided to make a mad dash for it. Kaid ran with all his might and made it to the LIFT; however, Clementine stopped to heave over the LIBRARY bookstores, hoping to flatten the monsters under the equivalent of oversized dominoes. The first shelf fell over and hit the next shelf, which also fell and hit the next one. Unfortunately, the momentum was stopped by the animated bookshelf which was resting perpendicular to the falling shelves. While the animated bookshelf was pinned in place, this meant the bookshelves didn’t flatten the mimic so much as place it in a tunnel. It quickly wiggled out of the resulting piles of books and retreated.
This placed the mimic very near Clementine. Picking up Kaid’s javelin, he considered his options.
Meanwhile Kaid had inspected the LIFT’s controls enough to figure out that one lever opened and closed the doors while a big crank moved the device up and down. He also noticed an emergency brake lever.
That’s when he saw the piece of paper on the floor. He was never quite sure what compelled him to pick it up and start reading it aloud, but once he did he found himself unable to stop.
“For and between consort, agreement that for long as no alternate be agreed, thou must serve. Alternate consort agrees by speaking Pazuzu Pazuzu Pazuzu.”
Kaid felt his heart sink as something cold and sinister insinuated itself into the back of his consciousness. While he wasn’t fully sure what had just transpired, his sense of danger made him recognize the magical curse for what it was.
Meanwhile, Clementine made his own mad dash for the LIFT. “Let’s get out of here!”
Kaid decided to forgo shutting the doors in favor of a hasty exit. He turned the crank to send them skyward but nothing happened. The mimic started coming toward them.
Realizing there must be a safety catch, he shut the doors and then turned the crank. The both exhaled as the LIFT began ascending.
A moment later, they both became uneasy as they took a moment to stare at one another. Kaid felt his dangersense going off like a siren when he looked at Clementine, even though he’d felt at ease with him before. Whatever it was, he knew it had something to do with the accursed words on that paper. Just as he knew Clementine could very well kill him now. For his part, the paladin of Bahumut felt a warning from the dragon god: this barbarian was in league with very dark god whose efforts here Clementine had been sent to stop. Whatever he’d been before, Kaid was now the enemy.
Before either could so much as reach for a weapon, the LIFT doors opened.
The Ratipede Strikes Again!
In the RELIQUARY, Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty, Acindor the Human Fighter and Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Shield Knight of Baldnoggin were about to join their comrades in the hallway when a familiar figure tumbled through the RELIQUARY wall portal.
Odin Thunderhammer the Dwarf Fighter peered about the room nervously as he got his bearings. Spying familiar faces, he shouted, “The Red Circle! They’re right behind us!”
No sooner had he uttered this warning when another figure popped through the portal. Though Weddumlir aand Acindor were only vaguely familiar with Sionna the Simic Hybrid Bard, having briefly seen her just before the kobolds attacked outside the tent of Pyrrha Imperium, she didn’t look like a probable member of one the most feared groups of assassins on the Seven Worlds.
Running to the hallway with haste, they immediately backpedaled at the sight of an unholy creature that looked as if a rat had magically mated with a centipede bursting through the glass window at the far end of the hallway. They got an eyeful of snapping rodent jaws on a head bigger than a horse. The creature’s multiple rat claws rushed it forward from fur-covered body segments, sending it on a beeline for a doorway to their left, tearing it off its hinges in its desperation to get at their comrades.
Darting into a door to their right, they entered a ruined DINING HALL. A large long table dominated the center of the room. Above the table hung a massive chandelier. They could see a balcony walkway that wound around the right side of the room, connecting three doors on the upper level. Three doors were also located at the east, west and south at the ground floor level. To the north, a massive fireplace carved to look like a fire-breathing dragon dominated the room. The fireplace was unlit and it was evident by the sunlight pouring in that it was shared by another room beyond.
In their haste, they did not immediately realize that Davroar wasn’t with them.
After scanning the room for possible exits, they opted for the fireplace. At the other side, they were greeted by a long SUNROOM running half the length of the back of the mansion. Long couches and wooden tables dotted the sitting room. The exterior walls were steel and glass, much like the ARBORETUM roof and upper walls, affording them a grand view of a deep cylindrical hole in the mountain rock that was as wide as the SUNROOM.
Acindor noticed a journal lying open on a table. He was surprised to see his own name in it. before he could inspect it further, Wedd spoke.
“Huh,” Wedd said. “It’s a blowhole. This must be what makes the fish rain down in the morning.” He frowned, wondering to himself why a blowhole this large would exist and where it got all the fish on a daily basis. He suspected magic at play.
The glass roof sloped at a 45 degree angle. They could see a large hole in the ceiling at the west end of the room, nearest the doorway where they’d first spotted the ratipede.
The doorway was dark and foreboding.
“Where’s the rat thing?” Wedd hissed.
“I think we’re looking at it,” Acindir said, his throat dry. He’d remembered the window at the end of the hall. There should be sunlight streaming into the hallway. The darkness could only be something enormous that blocked out the light.
It slunk forward into the doorway. After it’s intended prey vanished from the ARBORETUM, the ratipede had been alerted to Acindor and the others by the sound of their mad scramble over broken dishes in the DINING HALL. It burst into the SUNROOM before they could even form a plan of attack.
The dwarves rushed at it recklessly, warhammers swinging. Odin dealt a solid blow. He felt a bit queasy from the monster’s plague aura, but shook it off. Wedd’s blow also landed heavily but he found himself sickened in the ratipede’s presence. He staggered back, slowly realizing that he was being poisoned by being so close to creature.
Acindor uttered a cantrip, causing a flaming weapon to appear in his hand. Unfortunately, the mutated monster was completely unfazed by the flames. The monster snorted in his face at the ineffectual attack. As the human fighter was caught in its rancid breath, he doubled over, immediately poisoned by the mutant’s plague aura.
For her part, Sionna held back as far as she dared in case she needed to flee, not liking how this fight was going at all. She was hard-pressed to think of how a bard might be helpful in this kind of situation.
Just as the creature looked ready to pounce on Acindor, it vanished.
In the ratipede’s place stood an impossibly old kobold, leaning on a staff. In truth, the willowy staff was so thin that it shook and quivered under the creature’s weight, even though it looked so frail that a gust of wind might’ve carried him off. The 300-year-old kobold coughed and then addressed them in a reedy, wheezing voice.
“You guys are too fast! Thought I was never gonna catch up,” the kobold grumbled. “You guys just ran into the hall and left me for dead.”
“Who are you?” Acindor asked.
The kobold shot him a look of wounded surprise. “Well, isn’t that rude! I’ve been with you this long and you don’t know? I’ve been with you since you met mother.”
“Mother?” Acindor said. “I’m sorry. I don’t feel so well. I just need to know if we can trust you.”
The kobold nodded. “The poison.” The creature sighed, but looked no less offended. “My mother is the one from whom they harvested scales.”
Acindor raised an eyebrow. “Pyrrha Imperium. Wait, I remember you,” he said. “The kobold who entered the tent behind us.”
The kobold nodded.
“OK, I think we need to regroup with the others before that thing comes back.” He weakly rose to his feet and headed across the hall to the ARBORETUM.
The ARBORETUM was a large, relatively peaceful chamber filled with trees, bushes, and flowers. The ceiling and upper walls were glass, allowing the plants the warmth and humidity of a greenhouse. A long pool of water dominated the center of the room, fed by a cascading waterfall. A large statue of a chimera rested in the southeast corner of the room, partially hidden in the foliage. A few meditation benches were placed on either side of the pool and along the west wall.
It was empty and there were no obvious exits. Where were the others?
The kobold entered the room and began staring at the pool.
“Did you see where the others went?” Acindor asked. “Do you know the way out of here?”
“You don’t need to go out. You need to go in,” the ancient kobold said.
“In?” Odian asked.
“Yes, in,” the kobold said with a wicked grin. Chanting a spell, he caused the dwarf to levitate off the ground. The kobold used his magic to move him over the pool and then unceremoniously dropped the dwarf in.
“What good did that do?” Odin sputtered, paddling furiously. “Now I’m all wet!”
“All in!” the kobold cackled.
Deciding to trust the odd creature, Acindor picked up Weddumlir and tossed him in with Odin. Both dwarves sputtered and thrashed like wet cats.
“Now move the paw,” the kobold said, pointing at the chimera statue, “but be careful of the fire.” He used his long staff to point to its mouth.
Acindor noted how the statue looked charred around the edges of the statue’s mouth. He warned Sionna to get out of the way and then carefully moved the chimers’a foreleg. A jet of flame roared out of the chimera’s mouth.
Moments later, the waterfall’s source began drying up and the pool began draining. The dwarves vanished from sight.
“It’s another portal,” Acindor said. “get in!” he urged Sionna, dashing for the draining pool.
They were immediately disoriented by the sensation of falling up. Odin and Wedd emerged into the LIBRARY first, burst through a portal in the carpeted floor. As gravity took effect, they fell back down just before they might’ve hit the ceiling. Groaning on the carpet after their rough landing, Wedd nonetheless heard a whooshing sound and realized its portent in time to roll out of the way of Acindor and Sionna’s entrance into the LIBRARY. Odin wasn’t so lucky. He collided with Acindor on the latter’s way up.
The kobold managed the trip with a slight wobble, but somehow caught himself with his improbable staff. “See?” he said to no one in particular. “It’s good for something.”
As they got to their feet, the ancient kobold pointed out that the rug beneath their feet was inscribed with strange symbols and advised them to get off it. Acindor noticed that teh symbols were similar to those he’d seen in the SANCTUARY OF EVERLY just before their fight in the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION. The association with the latter was more than enough to convince him to follow the kobold’s advice. The others followed his lead.
Beside the carpet there was cheerful fireplace, set with comfortable chairs and low tables filled with books. Hearing the sound of Kaid’s voice, they headed deeper into the LIBRARY toward the sound.