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Dark Reading: What ''Really Happened''

This mystery features Lady Ivera, a wealthy and beautiful patron of the arts. She is especially proud of her rare book collection, in which she has invested millions.

Lord Rilnn, her husband, was wealthy but is no more, as he secretly loves the gambling life. He has been selling the Lady's rare book collection (and a few carefully selected pieces of her jewelry) one by one to fund his gambling trips to the city nearby, replacing them with excellent reproductions made by her scribe Qua-Enoy. (Only the first few pages of each book are properly transcribed, the rest are junk – pages from old recipe books, love letters, etc., a fact that will become apparent if a book, including the lost book recovered in the labyrinth, is examined by anyone literate in Common. Lord Rilnn is living on borrowed time...)

The scribe has been paid rather well, but has now decided that he wants more. So he is blackmailing Lord Rilnn, threatening to tell Lady Ivera of his deceit, in exchange for extra money. This has forced Lord Rilnn to accelerate his run through her book collection and greatly increases his risk of discovery.

Recently, he learned that she loaned a book of Lock / Knock 5 (and 23 other abilities) to her friend Lord Ennydanough, who fancies himself an adventurer; he needed it for a nearby labyrinth with a large, Lock 5-protected chest. Unfortunately, this is one of the books faked by the scribe Qua-Enoy.

In a panic, Lord Rilnn grabbed a giant arbalest that he keeps near the front door in case of marauders (though he's not strong enough to load it himself, he has a craniquen and plenty of time to reload after each practice shot) and went after him (riding his horse to a lather, about 15 miles), ambushed him, and shot him in the back with the giant bolt. Lord Rilnn tossed the book down a deep dry well in a nearby room in case he needed it later. He discovered a small passageway in the bottom of the well, and went back for the body, thinking to hide it inside.

A massive Dwarf named Grumblefoot who happened upon the same labyrinth found Lord Ennydanough, who was stubbornly clinging to life, and managed to revive him briefly before he died. The good Lord had excellent hearing, and knows what happened to the borrowed book. His dying words to Grumblefoot were thus “Knock ... well. Tell... Lady Ivera.” Grumblefoot has heard of Lady Ivera and knows of her castle; he immediately leaves in search of her.

Lord Rilnn waited patiently by the door until Grumblefoot left, then he moved the body to the tunnel at the bottom of the well. Worried lest another adventurer (or Grumblefoot) return, he placed a gate halfway down the well to prevent theft of the book and recovery of the body, more clever (he chuckled smugly and quite audibly) than Lock 5. He rode his horse hard back home, arriving before Grumblefoot, and was happy to note that he was not missed by his wife.

Grieved by her friends death, but concerned over the lost book, she sends her page Pinclod to the tavern in town to find a trustworthy group to recover the book from a well that is somewhere in that labyrinth. Her offer of 200 gold bars, while less that the fair market value of the book, is certainly a nice bonus over whatever else the chosen team recovers in their journey.

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