After ensuring that Billwise will not immediately die, Denig prays for further insight as to the cause of his patient’s ashen faced repose. He is already aware that there has been a loss of health and vitality and communing with his god it becomes clear that it is neither poison, disease or curse that afflicts the Hobbit. The awareness that they will need to return to the surface begins to dawn on the adventurers. However, they decide to explore the library before leaving. Denig places his ring of sustenance on Billwise’s finger, thus ensuring that the Hobbit will remain nourished while in his coma.
The library itself is daunting in the sheer number of books available. A cursory examination reveals that many books do not bear handling before crumbling to dust. The subject matter is unreadable to Denig and of little immediate interest to the dwarves. Realising that to gain useful information will take more time than they are prepared to allow the trio set about exploring the doors off the library.
The first door leads to the apartment of the Librarian, within which they discover the white crystal they seek secured in a candelabra. With some effort and a moment of worry as it clatters onto the floor this is recovered. A diary by a bedside also tells of the decision of the Librarian to remain when the citadel was destroyed by the reshaping of Arda.
A second door in the library swirls with mithril runes that defy the observers attempt to read them. Deciding that such a magical door is beyond their abilities to pass they explore the two remaining doors. Both lead into reading rooms. In the first is an open hidden panel where a mount for the crystal is found. In the second a rune key is discovered but no lock is immediately clear.
Reasoning that it will still take days to reach the surface they explorers spend time searching for hidden doorways around the library. They discover one leading to a corridor of agate tiles that reflect the light of the lanterns as grass moves in the wind. A hall beyond leads to a stairway leading up and a dead-end corridor. Reasoning, correctly, that no corridor should lead to nothing they search carefully for secret doors.
Finding three secret doors they explore carefully. Traps are avoided with all due care. The first room appears to have been a storage space for potions. Time has not been kind and only the crystallised dregs of potions are left in the bottles on the shelf. However, on a table a rosewood box contains three potions that provide a range of healing properties.
The second secret room is full of shelves with locked doors. Behind these doors are a small number of tomes with titles that imply that they are about dwarven mining secrets. These are left for recovery later as the adventurers move onto the final room. This room appears more promising as it contains six chests or various materials.
Starting with the golden chest, obviously, the dwarves take over lock picking duties from the incapacitated Hobbit. The gold chest yeilds a rod (2xPP mentalism) and a number of spells on rune paper. They move onto the next chest, made of steel. The lock defeats both dwarves and after 3 hours they decide to give up and find somewhere to rest before returning to the surface.
Choosing the Librarian’s rooms because it has only one entrance and furniture they head back to the library. Upon entering the reception hall they notice that the lights of their lanterns dim and again the cold hand of fear squeezes their hearts. The entire party breaks and runs. Pick the quickest is soon running up the stairs from the secret room. The rest follow, Dagaard hindered by carrying the inert form of Billwise. Eventually, calmer and lantern light returning they stop at the top of the stairs in a small square room.
Four stairways lead off this room, but it is the contents that prove most significant. The desiccated bodies of three dwarves lie with their equipment on the floor. Apart from replacing his lost shield, both Pick and Dagaard both improve their armour and weapons from the fallen warriors. More importantly, they find a journal belonging to a Dwarf called Dfur that reveals that the white crystal is part of a map and should not fall into the hands of darkness or a great evil from the First Age will be released. Pondering upon this news, the heroes explore the stairwells only to discover that these loop back to the room. The party rest a night away in the small square space.
The plan is simple, knowing that the undead librarian could attack at anytime and from the journey from anywhere, move as quickly as possible through the library hoping to escape into the labyrinth. Abandon the treasure chests and hope to return when recovered. On the way out stop at the treasure room with a portcullis to recover the gold there. Some reward for their efforts feels necessary.
It works, somehow they make it to the treasure room without incident. The portcullis proves tricky but the dwarves manage to lift it enough for Denig to roll underneath. As soon as he does a door of stone drops and cuts off his escape. Fortunately, the door is the only problem and leaves Denig free to cautiously discover that the contents of the chest is Fool’s gold. Thankfully, Pick remembers there was a room with levers nearby and this proves to contain the release on the door.
The party continue out of the labyrinth and up the levels guided by chalk marks left on the way in. Apart from a roost of Cavern wings that they had forgotten about they are unmolested. In the great hall, thanks to the greater reach of the lanterns, they discover two additional doorways. They decide to explore these before leaving. The first, reveals that details of the journal of Dfur are correct. The second leads to a stairwell down to which Denig decries “No way!” and they return to the underdeeps.
In the underdeeps, the underground explorers feel a heavy tremor that shakes loose stones. The continue upwards and a day later are crawling from Hrothgar’s cellar into the Captain’s daughter. The three debate what course to take with Billwise. Pick believes he may be able to achieve something if he approaches the Alabaster Lady who he and Limolas reunited with he lost love. Dagaard believes that the Mirnethryn in the Dwarven Envoy could help, he has produced jewels for them in the past. Denig is more keen on human help and wonders if there are any in the town. Dagaard thinks there might be a hospice down near the Causeway gate. They agree to seek help where they can and each decide to follow their own line of enquiry.