After their ordeals at the hands of gibbering terrors and the harsh elements of the wilderness, our plucky heroes face a new challenge: not sticking out like a sore thumb in an otherwise-civillised city.
Leaving Ganzorrig the Merchant‘s office and heading off in search of Geb the blacksmith, they leave the fine porticos and frontages of the merchants’ district behind and wend their way into the tumbledown charm of the colourful artisans’ quarter.
Loic asks a passer-by where Geb‘s forge is and is directed to the open ground floor of some squat buildings. There is a man who eventually turns out to be Geb and his two young apprentices. The strange gold-silver weapons picked up from the Small red creatures are shown to him in order to get his expert opinion. Geb seems intrigued and after much scrutiny declares he’s not sure, but if they’re for sale he’d like to buy one.
Possessed of silver tongues as well as good sword arms, our heroes wrangle a free kit repair out of the deal too. Untitled No.57 – whom the metalworkers can barely keep their eyes off – uses the facilities to patch himself up again, while Loic turns the fixing-up of their gear into a small religious ceremony as only one as religiously prepossessed as he can, complete with much anointing of other people’s tools.
During the work, Geb mentions in passing that he’s a follower of the god Zo-Kalar, one of The Great Ones and the god of the mortal cycle of life, death and renewal. When the work is done, Geb suggests the party visit his friend Nodar at The Great Library if they want any more information.
Once again the group are moving across Inquanok on foot – with Geb too this time – at first towards the centre of the city and the gardens surrounding the Temple of the Elder Ones. Bells can be heard chiming and townsfolk seem to be heading towards the temple with a kind of quiet, habitual purpose. The many doors of the temple are seen to slide open and a robed, hooded figure bearing a bowl of steaming incense walks out of each one, making for the lodge house opposite each door. The lodge house doors slide open and the celebrant disappears inside, and then the doors close.
The assembled townsfolk – who’ve been keeping a reverent distance and hush – all seem to acknowledge that this is the end of the entertainment and start to filter away.
Loic wracks his brains; he can’t bring to mind any religious ceremonies or deities that carry on in this way. This is obviously what Enver the Farmer referred to as the, “queer processing,” that took place here.
Deciding they should be elsewhere too, the group make their way across the city’s central Oynx Thoroughfare to the Great Library; A vast building with a great classical stone henge entrance that carries its visitors underneath the level of the paved piazza it’s set in.
Apparently the library has entrances and exits in different cities scattered across the Dreamlands, making it a wondrous place. Visitors clutching books, scrolls and papers scurry to and fro.
Geb enquires after his friend – deputy Librarian Nodar (who he describes as a good sort, even if he is from cat-loving Ulthar) – at the front desks that separate the throng from the vast racks of books towering into the air. The racks run away into the distance and join others, like spokes running towards the centre of a wheel.
The party are ushered into a side room and find themselves perusing a few books left there, including the memoirs of King Kuranes, ruler of the Dreamlands from the central city of Celephaïs. Before long, deputy librarian Nodar joins them. He says to leave the weapon with them while it’s researched and in the most library-like of manners, issues them with a ticket for its retrieval.
If only all thrilling adventures and derring-do had a layer of bureaucracy to make sure they ran smoothly…