Part 45: Hidden Library- Hidden Library
After finishing up business in the Castle, I made the journey back over to Khorinis. Something felt off, however. The area seemed full of new creatures that had not been there before. The area around the waterfalls was teeming with life.
Bengar's farm was nearby. I decided to drop by and chat with him since I hadn't spoken to him since I'd rescued his worker from the bandits.
The farm looked rather barren. The farmhands that tended the crops seemed to have disappeared. The only two who remained were Bengar and, surprisingly, Angar.
"How's it going?" I asked him.
"Quite well. But I still have these miserable headaches, although they've gotten better since I'm no longer in the Valley of the Mines. I'll stay here. Then you'll no where to find me if you need me." Fair enough. It seemed like Bengar could use the company, anyway.
I started off by asking the farmer about his man. "Has Pardos come back?"
"Yes, he's inside, resting. Thanks for everything you-"
"Wait, I'd love to give you a reward but I haven't got..."
"Don't worry about it. How are things?"
"Malak has disappeared and taken everything and everybody who would work for me with him. He said he was headed for the mountains. He couldn't stand it here anymore. The hordes of monsters pouring out of the pass every day to haunt the high pastures are really getting to me. If at least I had a few helpers or mercenaries. There was even one who was willing to work for me. Changed his mind, though. I think his name was 'Wolf'. I knew Wolf. He'd been a member of the New Camp back in the colony.
"It'll be alright."
"Without Malak, nothing gets done around here anymore. If something doesn't happen soon, I'll have to give up my farm. Hopefully he'll come back soon."
I was nearby, so I went to go find Wolf.
On nearing Onar's farm, I saw something quite alarming. Orcs were attacking the farmers! I drew my sword and rushed to their aid.
A well armored Orc seemed to be leading the assault. He wore a ring that seemed off somehow. I took it. Lord Hagen would certainly wish to see this.
I looked over the bodies. Most of Sekob's farmhands had been killed.
A second warlord ambushed me at the crossroads. I defeated him and discovered that he, too, carried one of those rings. Most curious.
The mercenary camp was emptier than usual. Many of them had since gone to the Valley of Mines to hunt dragons, and unfortunately most did not make it.
I found Wolf sitting on a bench across from the forge, blissfully unaware of the carnage that had just taken place.
"Doing all right?"
"Hey! I know you! From the colony. What do you want here?"
"I may have a job for you on Bengar's farm. The pass to the Valley of Mines comes out directly at Bengar's farm. He's got problems with all the beasts who squeeze themselves through the pass. Someone needs to defend Bengar's farm."
"That would be something. Then at least I'd be away from the farm here and wouldn't have to stare at the smithy Good. That comes to 800 gold coins."
"A hefty price."
"Well. For one of us, I'd do it for almost nothing but for you..."
After what I'd taken from the dragons, that was nothing."Here's your gold."
"Good. I'm off, then, to see to those beasts. Let's see who else on this farm I can enlist." Wolf wandered off to find some buddies and I teleported myself into the Khorinis.
I immediately made my way to the upper quarter. It seemed as though the Paladins were finally readying for war. Nearly all of those stationed within the city were lined up ready to march.
Hagen was in the middle of a strategy session when I interrupted.
"The dragons are dead." I proclaimed.
"I knew that Innos would give you the strength to defeat the dragons! Where is the ore?"
"The Orcs are still besieging the castle in the Valley of Mines. Garond stands no chance of leaving the castle before the siege is ended."
The Paladin commander slammed his fist on the table. "If Garond isn't capable of handling the situation then I shall have to do it myself! A few orcs won't stop me! Not me! I have already informed my men. We are preparing for departure. We shall ALL go. I shall only leave a minimal guard on the ship. That should be enough to finally put an end to the orcs."
"The orcs' elite warriors are attacking the land."
"Nonsense. My people have not reported a massive invasion of orcs so far. Perhaps some scouts got lost in the nearby woods."
"Those were no scouts. I took this ring from one of them."
"Show me." he ordered. "Mmh. That certainly is disturbing. That is a sign of their strength. So the orcs have left their palisades and are fighting on the open field."
"I haven't seen a whole lot so far. Mainly their warlords and only a few fighters."
"So? Then they must be plotting something else. That is rather unlike orcs that their leaders should leave their protective palisades by themselves. It would be a good opportunity, however, to deliver a telling blow. If they lose their leaders, their morale will sink as well. You have a new assignment knight. Go and kill the Orc leaders you can find here in the area. Bring me their rings. That will be a tough blow to the orcs. Ask Ingmar about this. He can give you a few tactical hints for fighting the orc leaders."
I found Ingmar nearby. "The orcs are planning a major offensive" I told him.
"Indeed. Well, that's very interesting. And how can you claim to know this?"
"Some of their leaders are haunting this area."
"Mmh. That doesn't sound like a typical Orc strategy."
"What does that mean?"
"If what you say is right," he continued, " that means that they hope to weaken us from the inside by attacking with their best warriors. Usually there is one warlord leading each horde of Orc fights. You rarely see two or more of them together. They do this for a reason. Their leaders form a core of their attack strategy and are usually surrounded by the orc warriors. Thus it is really hard to get close to any of them without having to fight your way through a horde of at least 30 warriors."
That was all fine and good, but it didn't tell me what to do next. "What should we do now?"
"When they are seen in numbers like this, they usually form a raiding patrol led by the highest among them. This highest warlord establishes the headquarters and withdraws to some cave from where he sends his troops into battle. If we could get hold of this leader, it would give us a decisive advantage. An orc leader usually likes to hang out in the vicinity of his enemies. It would be advisable to look for his cave somewhere not too far from the city. Some orcs have been spotted near Lobart's farm. Maybe that's where you should begin your search."
"How is the situation on the mainland?"
"The war isn't won yet, although the royal troops are already driving back the orcs. Small bands of orcs are gathering in many places, trying to scatter our army. They fight without honor and without faith - and therefore we shall prevail in the end.
After meeting up with Ingmar and getting my assignment, I headed over to Xardas' tower to give him the news about the dragons. Unfortunately he seemed to be gone.
Lester stood outside the tower. "Where's Xardas?" I asked him.
"He's gone, and he left these demonic beings behind his tower. I think he doesn't want anyone sniffing around his tower in his absence."
"Where did he go?"
"He didn't say that. He only asked me to give you this letter from him. I read it. Sorry. I was curious." I took the letter and looked it over. "I didn't understand a word, man. But one thing's clear to me: we won't see him again any time soon. I think things just got too hot for him and he headed for the hills."
"You don't look all that good."
"These headaches just won't stop. There's something brewing. I think I'll have a rest."
After reading Xardas' letter I decided it was time to pay a visit to the monastery. I went inside the Chapel to find the High Council.
I started off by informing them about the status of the dragons. "All the dragons are dead." I told Pyrokar.
"That is good news indeed but It does nothing to change our situation which seems hopeless. The Seekers still have not left. On the contrary, I hear more and more reports that, during these last few days, their numbers have even increased. Killing off the dragons has dealt the enemy a blow, but it did not suffice. We need to dig this evil out by the roots."
"I talked to the dragons..."
"What did they say?"
"They kept talking about the power of their master, and how he settled in the halls of Irdorath."
"Innos be with us. The Black Temple has regained its power and is now sending henchmen into our world."
"What are the halls of Irdorath?"
"The eastern invocation temple of the god Beliar. There are four of them in the land of Myrtana but this one is probably the most terrifying temple of all. About 40 years ago, the northern and western temples of the horrible deity were destroyed. The brave knights of that time gave their all to raze those mighty constructions to the ground. Back then, the black hordes of the enemy were helpless against the superior numbers and the heroic courage of the knights and paladins. It would have been easy to destroy the other two temples as well and rid the land of evil forever but after the second temple fell, they simply disappeared."
"Disappeared. An entire temple? Yeah, right." I joked.
"Do not mock me! The situation is serious. If the Halls of Irdorath have indeed regained their power, then it will not be easy to defeat the enemy. For that you would need to find it first and I think that this will be your next, and hardest, task."
"We shall see. Xardas' book which was believed to be lost - where is it?"
He nodded. "I have been expecting you would ask that. But I fear that it will be of no help to you. It has been magically sealed. I took it to one of our lower vaults, and even we have so far tried in vain to open it. That accursed Xardas has played a dirty trick on us."
Luckily I knew the way to open it. "Can I see the book?"
"Be my guest. I cannot imagine you being successful where the greatest masters of our monastery have failed. But go ahead and give it a try. Talamon is not going to stop you.
After my conversation with Pyrokar, I headed down into the cellars of the Monastery.
In a nearby room I found a busy looking man working at an alchemists bench.
Annoyed by the disruption, he turned to me. "What.. .what's wrong? Why are you bothering me? Can't you see that I'm in the middle of an extremely complicated experiment?"
"I didn't mean to disturb you."
Neoras sighed. "You already have. What do you want?"
I gestured at his work. "What kind of potion is that supposed to be?"
"I bought the recipe from a traveling salesman. It mentions some curious but rather interesting things. I am not sure if this potion really does anything but my thirst for knowledge compels me to continue."
"What's the problem?"
"The recipe says something about a dragon egg. Of course I don't have one of those so I've been trying to simulate the ingredient. However, with little success thus far. If one of those things should ever roll across your path in some cave, then think of me."
It just so happened that one had. Behind the hoard of the Ice Dragon I'd found a reddish dragon egg.
"Here, I've got a dragon egg for you."
"You're pulling my leg." He took the egg, and examined it. "It's real! I hadn't thought it possible. Where did you find it?"
"I'd rather keep that to myself."
"Excellent. What do you want for it?"
"Give me some of the potion when it's ready."
"All right, but as I said I have no idea what will come of it. Come back later when I have finished it."
I continued past Neoras' chambers and toward the library. Talamon stood watch, ensuring the unworthy did not enter.
"You are not permitted to go farther." he warned. "Go back!"
"Pyrokar says I'm allowed to examine Xardas' book." I explained.
"So he says that. All right, you may enter. The book you are looking for is over there on the Alchemist's bench."
I walked into the library. Ancient texts lay open on lecterns on each side of the room. I was only here for one reason, however.
I found the book right where Talamon had said it would be.
I spoke the magic words and the book opened for me. Inside, I found a note and a key. The note appeared to be a riddle.
I looked around a short while until I had an idea. Something about the lamp at the end of the room seemed off. I climbed atop a box and fiddled with it. Something clicked.
The bookcase slid to the side, revealing a hidden passage that led further down.
This passage was crawling with skeletons. Whatever was down here was well guarded. It seemed to be a maze full of dead ends. Eventually, I noticed that only certain passages were lit by lamp light. It seemed that this may be what the riddle was referring to. Eventually I came upon another chamber.
A hidden library, guarded by demons no less. I'd summoned enough of them to know that they were difficult. I fought quite defensively against the demons, first drawing them toward me with bow and arrow. When they were close, I switched to my sword and began dodging and parrying their blows to give myself an opening. Soon enough, all three demons, including a demon lord, were killed at the expense of a dozen or two healing potions.
A total of three books could be found in this chamber. One, a dusty old diary, lay on a table alongside a sea chart and a strange bottle of liquid.
Another was located on a lectern at the other side of the room.
A third, closer to the table, was an almanac that spoke of the colony barrier and gave instructions in making a rune that would transport me.. somewhere.
I gathered the materials and headed back out of the cellar. Using a nearby rune bench, I successfully crafted this mysterious rune of teleportation.
I hesitated a moment before using the rune. I found myself in a small room with no apparent exit.
On a table sat the most beautiful, well made set of plate mail I'd ever seen. It was incredible! The contents of the chest were less exciting. Four potions, two healing and two magic, along with a few hundred coins. I found a lever that let me out of the chamber. I was in yet another hidden room beneath the monastery. I headed back upstairs to find Pyrokar.
"I've been able to open Xardas' book." I reported.
"What?" he said, disbelieving. "How did you do that? It well-night drove me to despair."
I shrugged. "Just dumb luck, I suppose."
"Don't talk nonsense. Luck! When not even I succeed in opening the book and then someone like you comes waltzing in... that gives me something to ponder about. Anyway, since you were obviously the only one who was able to open the book then it may be granted unto you to carry it. At least until we have weathered this crisis."
"What are the Tears of Innos?" I asked, having recalled what I found in the secret library.
"The Tears of Innos are nothing but an old children's story. It tells of how the battle between Innos and Beliar started at the beginning of time."
I showed him the potion I'd found. "I found this potion."
"That cannot be. I cannot believe it."
"What's the matter?"
"If these are really the genuine Tears of Innos, then...then we have a powerful weapon against the enemy."
"What do you mean by 'weapon'?"
"Legend has it that, under the influence of this substance, warriors of Innos were able to perform almost superhuman deeds. They were immune to all kinds of exhaustion and had the strength of two bears. The greatest heroic feats of the olden days were only made possible by the Tears of Innos. But the tears can bring suffering and death as well. Only the members of our order may drink this drought. Anyone else - even the paladins of our Lord - would face a cruel death."
"So what are they?"
"When Innos realized that he had to fight Beliar, his own brother, in order to preserve creation his sorrow was great. He started to weep and his tears fell down unto the world. There were many of them, for his heart was so full of grief that he wept 13 years."
"Get to the point." I said.
"The people who found his tears and tasted them were filled with supernatural strength and clarity. They recognized the wisdom of Innos' creation and began to serve him. They were the first members of the Community of Fire. The tears gave them strength, courage, and wisdom. But that is all very long ago, and it has been more than 250 years since anyone last set eyes on a Tear of Innos." Pyrokar excused himself, overwhelmed by the day's revelations.
The day had been rough. I headed to bed to think about everything that had happened.
The following morning, I found Marduk, the mage in charge of consecration and taking care of the shrine. Recalling the need of a consecrated sword that I had been told by the dragons, I asked what I needed to do for a consecration.
"If you are determined to take this step, you will first need a magic blade. With this, you should then retreat to the chapel and pray. During the prayer, and after a reasonable donation to our Lord Innos, you should ask Innos for his grace and guidance in the battle against evil. If Innos is well disposed toward you, your sword will be consecrated to our Lord from that moment on. "
"Where can I get a magic blade?"
"Try in the City with Harad the smith. He provides the paladins with magic blades while they are on the island."
"What kind of donation?"
"Now, in view of the grace that I to be granted to you, a sum of 5000 gold coins is more than suitable. Of course, you are allowed to give more."
It seemed like it was back to the city for me. I knew that soon this would all be over.