I took three short, quick breaths and yanked the jagged piece of wood out of my shoulder. Pain lanced through my body as blood dripped all over the ancient stone floor. I glared at Halfred, who pretended to intensely scrutinize the runes he had just so carelessly trod upon moments before, bringing those demonic tree creature barreling down on us.
I seethed and licked my wounds with my healing skills while Korinn and Bryseis began to explain how we had solved the rune puzzle on the opposite side. Without tripping the alarms and summoning tree monsters, mind you.
Slightly refreshed I joined them and we worked out the correct order to touch them in order to open the door. Halfred grinned at me mischievously “Go ahead!”
I admit, I snapped. I bodily grabbed the halfling, thinking to hurl him onto the rune so he could step on them, correctly this time. The little bastard planted his feet and stood his ground, matching me strength for strength. The two of us grunted and struggled.
I became vaguely aware of a Mage Hand floating past us, the words lighting up, and the doors opening. Bryseis walked up and slapped us both in the head, sending us tumbling into each other. We sheepishly disentangled, nodded at each other, and proceeded into the room.
We explored the rest of the underground Cloud Giant library at Raven Rock this week, including a trio of rune puzzles and a boss fight against a sentient spellbook.
We had previously met the talking books and seen the large silver tree in the center of the library. Now it was time to explore the various wings. We headed East and spotted a large bronze door, with four large, somewhat familiar runes inscribed on the floor. Words on the wall read: “A Death in War is but a Cloud in a Storm.”
Korinn used her Wand of Detect Magic to deduce that the Giant writing on the wall and the runes on the floor were magical. Specifically the words Death, War, Cloud, and Storm, which we quickly realized were depicted as the runes.
We had been reminded by the DM in previous sessions to keep track of the runes and where we found them, and here that knowledge paid off here. We figured out the Death rune, for example, had been inscribed on the coffins containing the Wraith Giants we fought at Berounna’s Well and the Grandfather Tree. Others we had found on the relics themselves, such as “War” on the magical standard, and “Storm” on the bellowing horn.
With the correct sequence activated in order, the door was open. Inside was a study or workshop, including a still-in-progress account of the ancient war between the Giants and the Dragons. We know of the big bad blue dragon who had been tormenting us, and now we learned of two more, red and white.
For some reason we had split the party. T.I.M. and Halfred were impatiently sussing out the other side of the library, which contained another rune puzzle. This side had the message: “Frost to a Stone is as Sacred as Fire.”
Instead of working through the riddle, Halfred waltzed across the nearest rune toward the door. A trap triggered, lighting up the word ‘Fire’ and spewing a blast of fire into his face. He used both his Lucky feat and Lucky Halfling ability, and still failed the saving throw.
Thankfully it wasn’t much damage, but it did set off the library’s defense alarms. About the time the rest of us joined them on the west side we heard the silver tree unleash something, and feral humanoid figures began skittering toward us. Damn it, Halfred!
These things were plant-creatures that came right for us, a pair of them. We had the distance advantage for the first round as they dashed. When one closed in on Bryseis she used her new fourth level spell Blight to absolutely decimate it (Plant creatures have disadvantage on the save and take max damage – that’s 64 damage!).
The other one went right for me and I naturally used my Polemaster reaction to stab at it. It stabbed right back – impaling me on a large branch. Damn it Halfred! I pulled it out and tried using Dissonant Whispers to get it away, but it made the save. Then on its turn it nearly killed me with a critical hit and multiple attack. DAMN IT HALFRED.
The combined might of our team downed it before it could do the same to me, though I would use all of my Lay on Hands to make sure I was still standing. We quickly Short Rested, and Halfred suggest I step on the runes myself. I grabbed him intending to throw him onto the runes (in the correct order of course) but he planted his feet firmly (we both rolled an 18 on Athletics).
So Halfred and Kazin had it out in the library, while Korinn used Mage Hand to trigger the sequence correctly and Bryseis slapped us both in the head. Ha!
The western study was much of the same, with yet another single book that proved interesting. This one talking about the Giants’ caste order. I found a spiffy limited use magical book that let me cast Shield (5 charges), using literal pages torn out.
Turns out that both sides of the library were important for learning two more runes that we would need to open the final door the north. Here were six runes, and two of them we had just seen in the two side rooms – Dragon, and Enemy. The full riddle read: “A Dragon on the Wind is an Enemy of Life and a Friend to Death.”
We didn’t know the runes Wind or Friend, but Bryseis deduced the correct order based on their positioning on the floor. Once again Korinn used Mage Hand to carefully press the runes, and the doors opened. I really enjoyed these little puzzles that rewarded using applied knowledge from the campaign.
Inside were the library master’s chambers, and they were a a damn mess. Books were scattered everywhere. At the end was a magical-looking blue scarf with a rune emblazoned on it, finally the rune object we were looking for! Before we could approach, we heard voices.
The voices, another pair of custodian books, were not happy at our intrusion, believing us to be enemies. It didn’t help that we had already triggered a trap once (damn it Halfred) and that we had a dragonborn and a tiefling with us. Giants aren’t fond of dragons or fiends, and I couldn’t quite convince them that dragonborns and tielfings were much different. With a decent Persuasion roll I was able to get one of them to back off, however, essentially taking it out of the forthcoming fight.
The books on the floor began to swirl, manifesting as a humanoid figure that looked really cool. This was apparently the master’s sentient spellbook, and it was not prepared to let us root around without a fight. Roll for initiative!
This was an interesting battle as the Living Spellbook was a high level spellcaster, something we hadn’t really encountered before. Spells or not, Halfred was able to lug out his heavy crossbow and fire a netlauncher bolt, bringing the flying book creature down to the ground. T.I.M. attempted to strike it with Souleater but the pages simply parted, doing no damage. Bryseis hit it with a super-charged Chaos Bolt, blasting apart several pages, while Korinn was able to get off a solid Lightning Bolt, despite the book having advantage on spell saves and a +4 DEX saving throw.
One of the smaller books joined the fight and proved more than annoying when it threw out some Counterspells at both me and Bryseis, forcing us to break off and deal with it. The Living Spellbook had to spend its turns escaping from the net, then casting Globe of Invulnerability to protect itself from the spells that had just wrecked it (and Counterspelling Korinn’s Counterspell in the process!).
The Globe spell did not protect it from a halfling with a lighter, however! Korinn hasted Halfred, and he used a mechanical lighter he had purchased ages ago to fly up to the book and light it up, melting the ancient pages. All that magical power but it couldn’t stop a little fire. And Halfred redeems himself in the end. I think we took all of two damage in that fight, from a Vicious Mockery by the smaller book.
The battle was won and the scarf was ours. Just at that time Halfred announced that his Alarm spell he had set at the entrance was going off. We had visitors – no doubt summoned here by the ravens who had seen us enter. It seems we’re not quite finished here yet.