Sunday, March 17, 2013

021 - The vault of the Royal Library

October 30th, FA 15

The deep purple of night faded to gray. A scene of carnage that couldn't be missed laid beyond the door frame of the stone house. The company members preferred to stay inside and chug their coffee. This night had been a long one. Most members kept the watch at some point during the night: many lived in fear of seeing the corpses of the trolls rise all over again to exact their revenge. Of course this didn't happen: this was all night fright. The hunting hours for the trolls had gone by in peace and quiet.

The company saddled up to explore the King's ground to the North. Arnadil and Halin opened the march, followed by the soft underbelly: the hobbits and Araliniel the Seer. Sir Galdor, Kasper and the "three ladies" (the great danes) closed the train. When they got to the tunnel, Finbert and Irina dropped down to the ground and scooted up the tunnel to scope the King's ground. The place was still, the air was clear for once. Nothing could be seen nor heard from the troll camp. The hobbits signaled to the company to proceed forward. Halin and Arnadil arrived first in front of the camp. The hall was empty, silent, smelly. They rode their horses up the front steps and entered the building. They were followed shortly by the rest of the company. 

Irina identified a number of interesting tracks around the building. Together, they told a story [her tracking check was won with a margin of something like 8]. She found more sets of tracks going east than coming back, the freshest were these walking away. Some of these tracks were these of immature trolls. She also found the tracks of two trolls who went West. Grimly, these trolls never came back. Another set descended the tunnel in the morning and came back shortly thereafter. Irina concluded that the remaining trolls likely panicked before sunrise and scooted East for a safer hiding place. Trolls cowering away... the Palantir Commission is made of a real bunch of badasses!

The hall was still a testimony of the greatness of Arnor. A thousand years on, over ten pillars of white stones still held the ceiling. Both walls on the sides were covered with the highly ornate relief carving. After securing the camp, Arnadil explained that he read inTarqillan's notes that the key that they carried should be  matching a concealed mechanism hidden in the hall's artwork. The members of the company began scouring the relief carvings on both walls. Sir Galdor was most intrigued by some heraldic symbols resembling Dol Amroth's [he totally failed his Per check]. Arnadil drew from 20 years of experience as a Minas Tirith's guard to rapidly locate an odd-shaped hole beneath a celtic-like knot pattern. Sir Galdor, handed the key to the company's leader. The key itself was a piece of artwork: with fine lines and an intricate scheme of encrusted rubies. 

The key entered the 1000 years old keyhole and engaged into a mechanism that turned out to be smoother than a freshly serviced lock. Some noises could be heard as it cascaded down until one of the carved shield popped an inch forward. Halin inspected the shield:  about 2' wide and 4' tall, perfect for a hobbit but not really meant for every day use by the tall Numenoreans! Surprisingly, the shield slid outward, revealing a steel mechanism. These Arthedains certainly had master craftsmen to design devices that pass the millennium test.

Who goes first?

Beyond the door there was a narrow spiral staircase. A musty smell escaped. Arnadil slipped the key in his pocket and asked for a lit torch. He would get down first. Whether this was a good thing remained to be determined. 

The stairs went down for about 10 meters. Arnadil entered a circular hall. At its center, a shallow pool of clear water. Around its circumference, a set of 8 pillars. To the North and South, sets of  three descending stairs. They lead into arched vaults. Arnadil waited for the others to arrive. Each vaults contained four large doors and terminated into richly decorated rooms. On the walls, at the bottom of the stairs, two knights were carved into the walls. Interestingly, their flails were made of steel and embedded into the sculpture.

Arnadil lead the company into the north vault. Their attention was drawn to the ornate room at the far-end. On the walls, there was painted in bright colors and gilded details a fresco of Lake Evendim. Coming out of the lake there was a beautiful young maiden. Arnadil recognized her right away as Linuilë, the maiar of Evendim and counsel of the Kings of Arnor [putting all these points into History(Eriador) was such a great idea!]. Linuilë was the gate to the creators which granted the authority of the kings of old. In the middle of the room, there was another shallow pool. On the bottom, a beautifully carved sculpture representing Linuilë, sleeping underneath the waves. Her left hand was extending out of the water. Arnadil, torch in hand, spotted a small bracelet around the statue's hand. As he is curious, he couldn't quite help but to reach for the jewel. As his fingers touched the water, a dull, grinding noise came from behind. Arnadil turned around and extended his torch arm into the gloom of the vault. One of the knight had ripped itself from the wall, a dim plume of vapor trailing behind. The stone knight of Arthedain turned towards the company, gaining momentum with his flail. 

The sight of being cutoff in a lightless vault by a stone knight was a hard one to swallow. It was too much for the hobbits who both froze in panic. The nearest company member to the stone knight was Sir Galdor. He felt his heart skipping beats, his bloomers feeling warm. The very hand of death had touched his soul, now his body was failing. Out of breath and out of mind, he limped towards the blinding light of Arnadil's torch. 

He never made it. 

What on earth just happened? You'll know in two weeks: same bat channel, same bat time.

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