The Chronicles of 'Team B' - Chapter 19 - If You Can't Stand The Heat, Stay Out Of The Library
Screaming fills the hallways of Yaqub's lair, and soon, Zinovii and Yushko come running into the mill room, the latter with his fur doublet torn by the pendulum scythe. Both were hiding out by the spiral staircase as their associates battled the dogheads, but when the serpent returned, they fled deeper inside the lair, even at the risk of being sliced to death. Curiously, no one seems to be following them. The roaring continues for some time, but grows ever less frequent. Lokan and Yuri go to inspect the hallways, but see nothing but a glow on the staircase from behind the pendulum. For whatever reason, the serpent is not coming. Returning to the mill, they set about eliminating risks, in case the serpent does come. Lokan suggests hiding the party in the latrine, but its small size and the foul odor of the place eliminates it from consideration. Instead, Lokan, with the agreement of the others, cuts the commander's throat, and throws him into the hole. Having accepted the necessity of the dirty deed, Yuri presses the rest to find a way to access the part of the lair where the prisoners must be kept before they are discovered, but his efforts to kick down the other doors they have seen end in nought. With effort, Lokan does manage to open several more doors in the hallway where the mill is located. The next one down turns out to be empty, but with another door on the far wall. When Lokan and Yuri approach it, a panel with spikes pointing down falls from the ceiling onto the floor in front of the door. After barely managing to jump out of the way, they watch several bags filled with nails and lead weights fall from the ceiling on top of the panel - presumably, these were meant to finish of whoever was trapped under the spikes. Lokan does return to pick the lock on the door the deadly traps were meant to protect. Beyond, he and Yuri find a curious contraption with many wooden levers, a series of large, metal pipes against the far wall, and no other doors. Yuri pulls a lever. A noise issues from the pipes, followed by a noxious gas. Both Yuri and Lokan start coughing immediately, but manage to flee the room before anything else bad happens. Yuri wants to pull more levers, but Lokan decides that it is too dangerous. At the end of the hallway, Lokan finds a smaller door, and succeeds in forcing it open as well. A short hallway leads into a small chamber with three metal cauldrons - two copper, one silver. The copper cauldrons sit atop fire pits. Next to each cauldron is a barrel filled with liquid - two with water, one with milk. Each barrel has a spigot and a wooden chute leading into a cauldron. A smell and a taste of both liquids reveal them to be wholesome. The purpose of the cauldron room remains unclear, however. There is one last door that remains unopened - the one closest to the dogheads' training hallway. Once Lokan gets it open, the group finds what appears to be a carpeted library, lit by a mysterious light near the ceiling. Inside is another statue - of a three-headed humanoid at the center, and, near where the books are kept, what appears to be a large chess set (with the white pieces in the form of dragonoids, and the black - of humans). Augusta's scan reveals 11 hefty, leather-bound volumes, in various languages, mostly on technical subjects. There are no other doors here. As the roaring has died down, and the group seems in no immediate danger, a decision is made to rest up here for the time being, and face the dangers which must be faced on the morrow, for the morning is wiser than the evening. During the night (or rest period), bells chime on several occasions nearby. When Yuri and Lokan go out to inspect what has transpired, it appears that the statue in the triangular room has changed. It now looks like a large, brutish monster, but later changes again into a short person with a long beard, and later, into a large, vaguely humanoid cat. The nature of the room and the statue remains a mystery until morning, when Agapia, who has finally awakened, recalls that Augusta was telling her a story of the wonders of her homeland, and mentioned an artifice called a "clock", which chimes upon the changing of the hours. As it happens, one of the books in the library is a Friazin grimoire called Of Ingenious Clockworks. As Augusta peruses the book, the secret of the neighboring room is discovered - it appears to be a rotating clock, in which the figurines represent different sins - the destroyed statue being a golem (representing Pride), while others represent Lust (the fire serpent), Gluttony (the ogre), Greed (the dwarf), Sloth (the cat), Wrath (the wolf), and Envy (the undead). Yuri considers getting into one of the rooms, and waiting till the clock rotates enough to discover whether anything is behind the structure, but that would take a while, and there is no telling what hidden powers the other statues possess. Another search near the clock reveals nothing. But the library may be a more promising venue to search. While Augusta continues reading, Lokan discovers a seam on the back wall of the library. There is a doorway here, but there is no clear way to open it. Perhaps the chess set represents the key? Lokan sits down to play a game with Agapia. The pieces - over a foot and a half tall - are heavy, and when the game approaches the end, and the black king is moved, a portal opens up in the wall, but Lokan is suddenly stung by a small, scaly, serpentine creature that appears next to his leg. In the ensuing struggle, the creature manages to bite Lokan, injecting a dose of poison into him, while two of the dogheads, apparently only injured the night before, attack with missile weapons, though they are quickly subdued by Alden and Yuri, while Lokan, after being healed by Agapia, slices into the serpentine midget, which disappears. A search reveals nothing - the creature has vanished. Lokan, at one point on the verge of death, escapes with a nasty rash. Behind the newfound portal, there is a descending staircase, and at the bottom, Lokan smells meat being cooked, and various sorts of spices. After disposing of the rest of the dogheads in the latrine, he dond their uniform, and surreptitiously descends with Agapia to see what lies in this part of the lair. The hallway leading away from the stairs runs into an intersection. To the left, there must be a kitchen, judging by the smell. While Lokan and Agapia try to hide, a young boy emerges from the kitchen, carrying a silver decanter and some sweetmeats on a tray. He sees Lokan and drops the tray, which Agapia catches, though the decanter tumbles onto the floor. The boy calls for help, and the cook, apparently, comes running out. He sees Agapia, and attempts to magically hold her in place. He then tells Lokan, in Kochmak, that he is not supposed to be there, and after Agapia starts moving again, he demands that they go back upstairs, and accompanies them back into the library. Upon ascending, the cook is stunned to discover the library occupied by invaders. Agapia attempts to cow the man into submission, but he responds with threats of his own - his father will come and kill everyone - and punctuates them by belching flames out of his mouth onto Yuri, Lokan and Agapia. Yuri tries to manhandle the cook, in whom re recognizes a likeness of Zbigniew, but the man manages to break free, reaches into his pocket, and explodes a fireball, which kills him, but also severely burns Lokan, Augusta, and Alden, as well as the carpets, cushions and bookshelves, while the books are reduced to ashes, or, at best, burnt husks. Lokan manages to struggle back up to his feet, and then helps Agapia save Augusta and Alden. Augusta then dispenses more healing, but Alden, Lokan and Augusta all have debilitating burns to remind them of the cook. For compensation, the man's body had only a few coins, and an earring with a precious stone in it. The way down is open, but the party must rest to recover from the inferno that nearly killed everyone.
- Books (now mostly burned)
- 2 dirhem, 5 pulo (from the cook)
- 1 earring (from the cook)
- The nature of the triangular room is discovered
- A secret door leading to the kitchens is found