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The Library

The Library published on 12 Comments on The Library

240 minutes until dusk.

You suggest searching Solhill’s library. The quill is mightier than the sabre and all that.

“A good place to start,” says Rosaline. “But rein in your expectations. This isn’t Cranbaile or Iskandria. We’ll be lucky to find anything more than children’s books and low-grade smut.”

You temper your expectations as low as possible, but when you finally set your eyes upon the shrew library you somehow feel let down nonetheless. It’s a cramped room, housing only a few shelves of dusty and disordered books. To one side lies a pile of papers, mouldy and yellowed. There’s no sign of a librarian, not that a librarian would have much work to do with such a pitiful collection.

“Alright,” says Rosaline. “Let’s get to work. I’ll look through these papers. You two handle the books.”

You choose a shelf at random and skim the titles — “De Fodina”, “Rattus ad Belli”, “De Vita Acetariorum” — these books are all in Soricin, the old shrew language. You try reading one, but your phrasebook-level understanding of the language leaves you at a complete loss.

Another shelf proves more fruitful. You immediately spot a book bound in red cloth, adorned with elegant, gilded writing. Curious, you pry open the book and start reading the finely illuminated manuscript.

The Legend of Oisín the Oathbreaker

Before our kingdom burned in Nora’s Fire,
Before the rat kings reigned with paw divine,
A city sat upon the Eastern Mire,
Besat by mole Lord Oisín, fair and fine.

Yet Oisín’s noblesse did lament and mourn,
When water voles descended on the shore,
With narrow sailing boats and helms of horn,
All led by Red Eye Ulrik, vole of war.

The mole Lord scribed and sent a new decree,
For fighters, rogues, and gallowglass alike,
To step forward and test their gallantry,
By putting Ulrik’s head upon a spike.

Blademaster Ken, a dauntless rat, bowed low.
“I swear, my Lord, beneath the stars tonight,
With mace and shield, I’ll end our wretched foe.”
But Ken soon fell to Red Eye Ulrik’s might.

High squirrel Ron unleashed a mighty roar.
“My claymore thirsts for Red Eye’s wicked blood!
I’ll drag that bastard up to heaven’s door!”
But Ron was slain and left upon the mud.

Lord Oisín feared his mortal end was nigh,
And panic spread among the city folk.
But one more hero volunteered to try.
The smiling stoat named Hera softly spoke:

“I carry teeth that tear and claws that reap,
I’ll end this precious city’s misery.
But in return I much desire to keep,
One half the gold of thy own treasury.”

Lord Oisín swore an oath to keep the deal,
So Hera found the pirate vole’s homestead.
She fought with gleeful, frenzied, bloodied zeal,
And with a vorpal slash, Ulrik was dead.

While Hera rampaged ‘midst the battle fray,
Lord Oisín hid his gold beneath Mill Hill,
So when the stoat returned for rightful pay,
The only gold she wrought was nought but nil.

The stoat denounced the mole’s insipid plot.
“A contract writ cannot be severed through,
For titan oaths once spoke are ne’er forgot.
In gold or blood, I’ll take what I am due.”

The mole Lord watched in grim distress,
Beneath the fading light of Hunter’s Moon,
As Hera dined on half the town’s noblesse,
Until the Eastern Mire ran deep maroon.

“Worthless,” mutters Rosaline, dragging you out of your story and back to reality. “These papers are all tax receipts and worker contracts. Nothing here about the vulpes. Any luck for you two?”

“Yeah, check this out,” says Val, holding up an open book of mouse poetry. “There once was a gerbil named Tucker-“

“Stop. Okay, obviously this room is a bust. Let’s clean up and move on.”

As you go to leave, you notice two books left untouched, having been awkwardly wedged behind the bookcase. One is a hefty tome entitled “A Compendium of Foule Beastes”, and the other is a slim magazine, “Traps and Snares: a Beginner’s Guide”. You might have time to quickly read one.

Which book do you choose?

  • Traps and Snares: a Beginner's Guide (51%, 25 Votes)
  • A Compendium of Foule Beastes (49%, 24 Votes)

Total Voters: 49

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The compendium might actually prove useful. We can probably whip up hazardous enough traps on our own ingenuity, but finding a specific weakness of vulpes might prove crucial to their success.

Then too… between the cellar and the pub we might just be able to scrounge up enough stores of food and drink to sate the titan’s hunger per the contract for but one night, leaving us the entire next day to handle the evacuation… or perhaps merely enough strong drink to put a vulpes right to sleep*, considering how potent the contents of Val’s flask was…

*Though the vulpes doesn’t know our name, he seems much too clever to be fooled about it like Polyphemus.

Fate seems to be reminding you to keep your oath. The wording of our oath was clear. Take our rodent friends and return to the mouse city. We have a destination and a plan if we’re going to avoid breaking our word. All that remains is dragging an entire settlement of rodent friends with us. We’ll have 24 hours of safety before we need to worry about defending ourselves from the Titan if we’re keeping our word.

Keep in mind that the contract protects only us in the Thimble Guard, not the rest of the village. It seems that unfortunately the best option may be to go back on the deal. In doing so we give permission to the Titan to attempt to harm us.

Think back upon our own deal with the Titan. Make sure the others know exactly what the terms were. By spending time here, we are all but guaranteeing the Titan attempts to harm us when it has the chance.

The vulpes promised not to harm the Thimble Guard. What if the civilians were made part of the Thimble Guard?

Ooh, I like an out-of-the-box idea like this. Unfortunately, that might be taken the same way as Oisín emptying out his treasury such that “half the treasury” was technically nothing. And we don’t want the vulpes pointing out that, once they’re no longer citizens of Solhill, he’s not limited to one a night…

That Promise was also made saying we would “return to your mouse city immediately”. I imagine by the time we can get everyone together, The Titan would consider that to not be immediate and therefore us breaking the deal.

New Idea! Induct the shrews into the Thimble Guard as provisional trainees and engage in orienteering training back to “The Mouse City” to fulfill the letter of our deal with the titan.