Justin is rudely awoken from broken sleep by a polearm being dug into his ribs. Grabbing the weapon and lurching to meet his attacker, he sees the innkeeper’s wife who had just been cleaning the tavern floor. The tavern floor where he had been sprawled, asleep.
Before the situation can get much more awkward, Kelek appears from his room upstairs and asks what’s for breakfast. The pair manage to keep down the food that’s obviously not intended for hung-over, nightmare-tormented travellers and go off to the gardens of the Temple of the Elder Ones in the centre of the city to meet up with Untitled No.57.
Having spent the night in the gardens, staking out the temple, Untitled No.57 informs them – possibly with slightly more passion in his synthesized voice than usual – that nothing’s happened all night after his seeing figures or shapes looming in the spire windows. To make matters worse, no passing guards have commented on what a fine-looking statue he is either.
Our brave trio reunited – and only nursing minor wounds to their pride – they all set off to meet Geb the Metalworker at his forge in the artisan’s quarter. Geb walks with them to the entrance to The Great Library of the Dreamlands on the other side of town, to keep their appointment with the librarians there.
Geb takes advantage of the stroll to sound out these warlike pioneers on a job they could do for him. His brother’s ashes need to be taken to a shrine to the Great One Nodens in the mountains nearby. He says he’s too old to do it alone and he wouldn’t risk taking his two boys with him, lest more of his family perish. He offers a fee. Our warlike pioneers say they will think about it.
Passing an old alchemists shop, our canny heroes decide to enquire on the exact nature of the flasks of glowing, healing liquid they picked up in the caves in the mountains. An old alchemist takes their money for an opinion, pronounces it’s a healing potion, but where did they get it, and could he buy it from them..? However, his attitude suddenly changes when Justin tells him it came out of a cave in the North. “The North..?” He stutters, "not an underground cave in the (gulp)… Plateau of Leng?" The alchemist smartly puts the vail back down on the counter. The party understand that anything to do with the bizarre and terrible Plateau of Leng is enough to kill anybody in the Dreamlands’ buzz: it is the most nefariously evil place in the entire land. Our heroes take their leave of the fearful potion-peddler and carry on.
In the Oynx Thoroughfare of the city, there’s a great wooden stall or stage that’s been constructed. It flutters with pennants, flags and painted canvases. A large red banner with two seated lions with intertwining tails set in black flies from a tall pole. The party recognise the emblem of ‘New Sarkomand’, as worn by the merry party of soon-to-be-ex-patriots they met in the inn the night before. Dark-robed-and-turbaned figures shout about the new life on offer in this new colony to passers-by. One approaches the party and thrusts some literature at them, explains all about the marvelous cliffs, mountains, beaches, rock formations, ancient ruins, fishing, archeology and so on, and says that ships regularly leave the docks bound for the new colony, and – eyeing the amount of steel the party are carrying – that the fledgling city is always in need of guards, soldiers and mercenaries.
Our brave – and calculating – heroes decide that starting a new life on a rock sticking out of the sea isn’t very high on their to-do list right now, and stroll on.
Once at the Library, the group are shown to the same (or is it a different one? It’s hard to tell) waiting room and soon Nodar the Deputy Librarian appears flanked by a younger, also blue-robed librarian who’s carrying a stack of books, papers and the weapon the party looted. Nodar’s eyes light up when he sees the group and he seems to hold them in more esteem that he did previously.
Nodar goes on to explain that the only thing they’ve been able to find in terms of context on the Small red creatures and their gold-silver weapons is a chronicle of one of the storied antagonists of the ancient city-state of Tyrhhia. A wizard called ‘Wo Tsa Hi’ – famed for his harem and his worship of Yog-Sothoth, one of The Outer Gods – was sometimes accompanied by small, red familiars with weapons that the defenders thought were made out of precious metals.
Turning a page, our companions see a symbol of Yog-Sothoth in the book: circles and rings linked. It seems to match the appearance of the structure they found the Small red creatures leaving votive offerings to in their cave!
Nodar buys the gold-silver weapon to add to the Library‘s collection of artefacts.
Turning to our heroes, he is clearly impressed with their bringing a new item from across the sands of time to the Library’s collection, and offers our companions a job on behalf of the great institution..!
It seems that much like any earthly library, there are books overdue.
However, this overdue book is one of The Books of D’harsis! Kelek‘s usually-reserved visage cracks, it was tales of D’harsis that made him want to be a spellcaster in the first place. Nodar opines, “Knowledge is a precious thing, and used wisely it can benefit all. However, too much in the wrong hands can warp minds and do terrible harm…” He explains that a once-trusted academic has made off with this precious book from the library collection and has holed himself up in the mountains to the north where he’s getting up to all kinds of mischief. The librarians are too stretched to go out there and do anything about it. Could the adventurers help out, to become friends of the Great Library..?
There’s gold in it for them!