Construction is ongoing in the Malaba Palace Academy, with the E’kansh Clan members as the primary laborers. There is a scroll encased in glass, and traps are being built around it. Pola Haru, a slug, is overseeing the construction with Afagu. Polaha Vo tells Afagu that it thinks there may be trouble, so it has contacted Pa Pali, another library owner, to help with the situation. Pa Pali does not want to come to the Eastside, though, but can be persuaded to do it for a price. It’s this bribe that it hands to Afagu to take to the West, and which he must not look into at any cost.
Afagu is also reminded to be back by the end of Taurus, because their eggs together are hatching! (!!!)
Afagu prepares for the trip, but first asks a beggar that lives in the library to keep an eye on the place, especially the scroll. Then he takes Slave 47 with him, and is introduced by Kai Leng to Ru Pi. Afagu is just in time for one of Ru Pi’s trips, which she does every other day.
The Westside party discusses with each other the plans of going into Pa Pali’s basement, and the clan members they have to hire to come with them. Because Kicara is cheap and doesn’t want to pay extra, she takes it upon herself to make Man Ju La feel better so he accompanies them. “All I need is two hours and an elastic band,” she says, and proceeds to give Man Ju La the ‘Lotus Script’ treatment.
Tersi has hired a fleet of street beggars to keep an eye out for a Rakosh; after a day, they return to him with sightings of six people with ‘reverse hands’. Tersi grimly marks their haunts, and checks up on those he recognizes – Lau Rush and U Ke seem to be normal people when he gets to them. Dre the beggar hates U Ke, though, and U Ke explains that he and Dre fought over investments five years ago.
Ru Pi’s caravan comes by, so Tersi moves off to meet her. She introduces Afagu to him, who quickly interrogates him on his business. Afagu divulges that he is looking for a colleague, and Ru Pi recommends Tersi as a guide for Afagu, which Tersi also happily offers. Ru Pi gives Tersi some alum for U Ke, and Afagu makes mention of his intention to buy a Crabman slave later.
Afagu offers Tersi a larger fee for his services for the day; Tersi offers him half of the amount plus a favor, which he swears will not be harmful to Afagu or his interests. Afagu, either because he is naïve or—no, he’s just naïve – agrees to Tersi’s new condition. Tersi then completes his delivery of alum to U Ke, who gives him two extravagant dresses, one of which is dyed purple.
Tersi introduces Afagu to the rest of the party. Kicara talks to him in slug, but then is immediately drawn to the box that Afagu has been having his crabman slave carry around for him this entire time. The box has a lot of eyes.
The party makes their way to Pa Pali’s place nearby, where they are escorted in by the butler. The rest of the clan is told to prepare in the courtyard, while Afagu makes his way inside. Kicara blusters her way inside by talking to the butler in slug.
Pa Pali contemplates Kicara for a moment, before asking her to dress like a slug next time – that is, genderless. Pa Pali finds genders odd, but seems to be interested in the One Who is Not Burned.
Afagu is finally able to present the box to Pa Pali. To his surprise, Pa Pali says that Polaha Vo wants him to take care of its box, and in exchange can expect a service from Afagu. Afagu is understandably bewildered, since he knows nothing of this deal. Pa Pali laughs, and says that if that’s how Polaha Vo wants to play, he can just give the box to Kicara. Kicara promptly begins counting from 20, pressuring Afagu to agree to Pa Pali’s favor to take his place in the library exploration.
The library delving party thus far: Kicara, Fa I, Tersi, Dian, Afagu, Squatter, Sher, Ma Ga Na (at Dian’s request), and Man Ju La.
The dungeon entrance seems to have become infested with mold since the last time Fa I was here. The mold seems to be poisoned mushroom that eats paper, and has eaten much of the books lining the corridor. The crab body is gone.
As they travel through, the party comes upon a dome-ish area full of shelves, lanterns, some furniture, and a desk. Two of the lanterns are lit, and there’s a ladder to reach the books. The walls are also lined with still-life paintings, and all the books are dusted and in good condition, though a closer inspection reveals that they have not been read lately. After some looking, they realize that all the books are cookbooks.
Kicara peruses the C-section and finds Dian’s cookbook – the very same book she has been writing on, and was missing just this morning. Irritated, Dian takes it and investigates the higher shelves. As she drops books to the ground, one hits the chair and it topples over, opening a hidden passage to the south that opens down into a spiral staircase. Afagu is forced to leave his crabman behind to guard the chair while they venture forth.
Downstairs is a kitchen and a dining set, and two doors at the far wall. There is a statue of a human divided in half. There is also a bunch of edible and fresh fruit, as well as a chest of preserved chicken and pork. The cutlery is silver, and a fork and a knife have been freshly washed. Tersi finds a hidden door to the south, revealing another set of spiral staircases.
The two normal-looking doors reveal a bridgeway each, and a deep chasm. The bridges are not visible from each other. The bridges seem to only be held up by doors at the end, which in turn are not propped up on anything. Dian, tied to the slab of a table in the kitchen, ventures through one of the bridges and opens the door – behind it are five dining sets, and another door. The tables have statues on them: a woman, an iron dwarf, a wooden lamarakhi, a porcelain xing human, and a clay human.
Dian and Fa I experiment with the door for a moment, before giving up and venturing through the next door. Behind it is a bedroom, and a human sleeping on a bed, snoring. The two sneak around the bed and pin the human down, before waking the man up. His name is Lorb, a pale blond human from France, and very sorry for sleeping in his master’s bed. Kicara interrogates Lorb by straddling him down the bed. Dian is very baffled.
Lorb is aware what a Lamarakhi is, and explains that this is the library of Zorlac, a human. All of his books are cookbooks, and Lorb is a cook. Apparently, Lorb was also the one who took Dian’s book, since “all books belong to Zorlac”. He further explains that a passage had “opened up”, enabling him to go to the Yellow City.
Upon persistent questioning, he explains that the library is not exactly underneath the Yellow City – “it’s not 3d” – although the Yellow City has the most entrances to the library. Lorb says that he hasn’t heard from his master in a few weeks; Zorlac is referred to as THE Librarian, and apparently keeps a dividing demon as a pet! All books are offerings to Zorlac. The books on the bedside table, in fact, are from the martial arts school and from Pa Pali’s own library.
Nonplussed, the party decides to take him back to Pa Pali – but first, they loot the place best as they can.
The Ipixangga party presents Pa Pali with Lorb and their loot. The slug seems surprised to see his book among the returned possessions, and takes well to the idea Kicara presents to use Lorb as a guide and a hostage. He takes his choosing of the books and leaves the clan to rest as he researches this alien space.
Further looting ensues, because why not.
Kicara, meanwhile, makes a deal to help Afagu if Afagu will speak about Nawabh. All Afagu wants is so own part of the library they uncovered. They cry at Pa Pali to open the box and show the contents to their burning curiosity. Pa Pali remarks to Afagu that he should not be so trusting of other slugs, even as it opens the box and shows them… the scroll!
Pa Pali explains that a number of high priestesses in the East killed each other trying to get to this scroll, and that it is rumoured to be able to summon a god. Kicara promptly tries to stop herself from salivating.
Kicara suggests storing the scroll in Zinzimar’s old temple, and talks about the economic value of the property to the slug that will own it. The temple is currently now owned by anyone, and Pa Pali proves amenable to the plan of acquiring it and helping in restoring the temple. Kicara further suggests that the temple can have a library, which Afagu can manage as a librarian. Pa Pali likes the plan so far and promises to draft the deed.
All in all, it’s a happy day of looting and deals struck. As the party sells their loot and returns to their clan base, they hear an explosion in Pa Pali’s palace. They rush forth, where the crabs are trying to push onlookers back. The room where the library entrance had been is burning, the smell mushroomy. The Zorlac library entrance seems to have collapsed as well.
Fa I, Dian, and Squatter rush to the prison, where they find that Lorb has been able to pick his way out.
Tersi and Afagu salvage the books in the library. Tersi figures out that the mushroom used to explode the place is different from the mushrooms they encountered earlier.
Kicara rushes to the study and finds Pa Pali dead with a dagger in his chest. She immediately makes for the safe, where she knows the scroll was placed, and frantically picks the lock of the safe. She is able to make away with both the scroll, and a deed recently signed and still drying for 5,000sp in donation.
The party returns to the elders, who are in panic at the death of their sponsor, Pa Pali.