5th Narvinye - Initial forays
It began to rain heavily just before sunrise. We fed the fire and then huddled in the tents. I talked with Erethor concerning who should enter the library and who should remain above, protection against chance encounters, and more importantly the possibility of more trolls. He felt that it was his job to get us here, and that his remit did not include entering the library. This choice I believe was correct for the party, but may not have been made for all the right reasons. I have been aware before that Erethor, when dismounted and in an enclosed space appears unnerved, and his ability to fight deteriorates. This came more to my attention today. It seems his affliction worsens, and to enter an underground space takes great strength of mind. He acts like a Dwarf in a boat, uncomfortable, unsure of his actions, and a danger to others. I had hoped that he was to help us defeat our enemy, but it was not to be so.
We spoke of food. We have barely enough rations to last the beasts of burden and ourselves for 5 days. But Erethor assures me that the foraging in the area will be good, even at this time of year. If Erethor was lost, I fear that the return journey would be a hungry one.
After breakfast we collected what gear seemed appropriate for the descent into the library and we departed. My axe was at my side, but I had decided to carry the flail of my fathers rather than my trusty warhammer, and this proved to be a mistake. I am not yet at one with this weapon and the techniques required to ensure that attacks with it are swift and efficient: I am still learning its measure, its weight and heft. Once I had entered the combat that was to follow I found it necessary to swap to my axe, but to fight stone one should employ a hammer, the friend of masons. Axes are for flesh and wood, and mine will need much honing this night.
Moth had been quiet and preoccupied around breakfast, and I thought that this was related to our forthcoming foray. It turned out to be something quite different and very odd. It seems that Moth, with her magic's, is able to converse with someone without speaking. I thought at first that she referred to a form of sign language akin to the battle sign used by some of my brethren, yet it seems that this is not the case. She explained that I would hear her voice inside my head, heard by no other, and that I would be able to reply without moving my lips, but by thinking the words to her. I agreed that should she try such magics I would attempt not to be alarmed. In the end she did not attempt the process at that time, saving her power for the descent into the library. It was well she did so.
And so we descended, leaving Erethor, still mightily injured but walking, with the horses. Even though rain trickled down the wide stairs beside us, the trapped stones I had marked remained inked, and we avoided them with ease. Yawinawin conjured her stage lighting to shine from behind her giving an ethereal halo that accentuated her fine features, and so we reached the door. I looked it over for more traps, but there appeared to be none. Moth pushed, and the door swung inwards.
The room into which we gingerly stepped was beautifully crafted. At first I made a sweep to check for further traps, but then, as my eyes adjusted, and Yawinawin glowed, I took in the surrounds. The walls and floor were of marble, a fine black stone. There were four corridors leading off, each of a white marble with a red veining. In the middle of the room there was a statue of an athletic youth surrounded by water as of a fountain. The style was old and not to my taste. The feature that caught my breath was the filigreed metalwork on the cornice tops; surely this was mithral. No other metal has such sheen, unblemished after so many years. It is at this point that I should have considered further. Here was mithral available for the taking, protected only by a few trapped stones. What other treasures were stored in this house of books, and what further hidden protections did they have?
We carefully examined the first room, and gazed down each of the four corridors in turn. We could spy nothing but short flights of steps leading down to strange glows of blue and green. We were here for but one thing - a scroll, to be found within an oval room. Alas we knew not where to begin our exploration. Moth took a moment to stare into the waters, seeking after wisdom, or perhaps a vision, but even with the glow from Yawinawin extinguished she was unable to capture what she sought.
At the mouth of each corridor there were niches in the stone, the sort that would be carved to contain statues, and indeed one corridor, leading east as well as I could fathom, had statues still within them. There were two on each side, oversized humans with swords of stone. These set this corridor apart from the other three, and it seemed therefore a good place to start our search. In this we made a poor choice.
No sooner had we passed the statues, than they moved, animated by some magics unknown. Golems carved of rock, which moved like flesh, swinging stone swords. It mattered not that these weapons lacked an edge, they were swung with such strength that every blow was like that of a great maul. I entered melee, eager to protect Yawinawin and Moth, who at once retreated out of range of their blows, but from the start it was clear that this was to be no quick skirmish. Two of them faced me, too large for their brothers to pass, and they rained blows upon me. They had little style, yet needed none, for they struck with such force. Every blow unbalanced me, and I found that I was defending always, unable to get in a good strike, parrying blow after blow, all the time trying to maintain my footing and not retreat. Although the flail caused a few chips to fly, and an arrow from behind me struck true, still they did not hesitate. It was clear that I needed to fight with a more familiar weapon, with axe and shield, in an attempt to force these monstrous figures back into the main chamber. I had prevented them from moving forward, but the cost was becoming great, and the steps that were our only retreat to the camp were cut off from us. I heard a yell of pain from behind me where Yawinawin and Moth stood, but in the fray I could not find time to observe what had caused their discomfort. Alas, I was forced to let them deal with any new danger themselves, for I was not in a position to aid them further.
Swapping weapons whilst in the thick of combat is a dangerous manoeuvre, and should not be attempted in any but the direst circumstances. I felt I had little choice, however, and chose my moment carefully. Once I again grasped the haft of my trusty axe I threw myself back into the fray, calling on Aule to strengthen my arm. His power coursed through me, but it was clear that this was a battle I could not win without aid.
A warrior must be aware that he cannot overcome all obstacles. I remember once a comrade's words "I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee". It is important to feel the flow of a combat, and to know when defeat is looming. In this way a decision can be made with a clear mind. Self-sacrifice may be an option if the extra time that is gained by one's actions aids those that fight beside you or indeed those that you defend. Their defence may be better served however if withdrawal from combat can be achieved. Other dangers there may be further down the road. However gallant your defence today, you are of little use to your charges lying beneath a martyr's cairn. And so I looked to retreat, a careful fighting withdrawal, hoping to lead my foes down the steps, drawing them onto uneven footing, and yet, when I stepped backward awaiting the press of their stone weapons, there was at once a stillness. The statues did not strike, but withdrew into their niches and became, again, motionless.
I learnt a great lesson this day, and I thank Aule for it. There are times when a fight can be safely ended simply by laying down ones arms.
I turned to check on Moth and Yawinawin, eager to ensure that they were uninjured. Always, though, I kept half an eye on the corridor, uncertain of what further dangers were to befall us. Moth appeared stunned and I ran to her aid. There was little I could do however, and within moments she was able to function again. There were four doors to the sides of the corridor, of different designs and materials. Moth and Yawinawin had passed through to the room at the end of the corridor lit with a blue glow. The room had another pool, shelves lined the walls, but with few books upon them, and high above was situated a skylight. Our options were limited. We did not wish to pass by the statues a second time and thereby risk the wrath of their stone blades. The four unopened doors may lead to unknown dangers, and I was sorely bruised. We decided that our safest escape route would be to persuade Erethor to lower a rope through the skylight above us such that we could climb to safety.
As if in answer to our thoughts Erethor descended the steps and came into view within the initial chamber. I believe that Moth had employed her "speech without words" to alert him to our predicament. We called warnings to him concerning the statues, and threw him the rope that we had brought with us. Erethor ascended once more, broke the skylight and lowered the rope by which we made our egress.
I have prepared a light lunch, as we all needed sustenance after our eventful, but not wholly successful morning. As I write, it seems the others have found another skylight that they believe opens on to another of the chambers below, the one from which a green light emanated. From the smell it seems that the room contains a poison, a soporific of plant origin.
It appears that the library contains an abundance of traps and hazards, and further forays needs must be entered into with very great caution. However our quest still remains, and our path is clear. We must again brave the dangers that lay beneath our feet. May the strength and wisdom of Aule be with us.