Lianna pushed Venne away from the telescope and swung it around, hunting for the figures that Venne had seen. There was a small force of hobgoblins, some on wolves, banded together a distance away, and a group of four hobgoblins travelling faster out in front. They were following a trail that clearly led to the tower.
"The bigger group is about half an hour away," said Lianna standing and stepping away from the telescope. Mirko started towards it, but stopped when Venne got there first. "The small group, I'd say is ten minutes, maybe a little longer. They're on foot, so there's no wolves backing them up, and we can probably take them, but it'll give the others time to reach us. We shouldn't stay here now."
Mirko nodded, not keen to fight again. Venne stood up and nodded as well.
They descended the stairs quickly, and edged their way along the walkway of the summoning room, coming back out into the bookcase room. Mirko noticed immediately that the bookcases had changed, had stretched out new branches where there'd been none before, but decided to say nothing. Lianna and Venne didn't seem to notice.
"There was a door we haven't checked here," said Venne.
"Leave it, the druid can mark it on the floor plan and say it was locked."
Venne's face looked mulish for a moment, and then he looked over at the door and saw that getting to it would involve clambering over and under the sprawling bookcase, and he shrugged.
They hurried down the stairs again, through the storage room and the map room and back out into the tapestry room. Venne looked at the piled cloth on the floor and barked a short laugh.
"Looks like you were right, Lianna, we'd have lost time trying to get out past that tapestry."
They carried on, through the guard room and down the last flight of stairs, Lianna leading the way. Suddenly she stopped in the middle of the flight of stairs, flinging an arm up behind her to indicate that the other two should halt. Mirko stopped as suddenly as Lianna, and Venne cursed softly under his breath as he tried to avoid colliding with him.
"Something's down there, behind the weapon rack," said Lianna. "It glittered just. Watch my back."
She paced carefully down the remaining stairs, her sword now held in front of her, her head twitching from side to side in a bird-like motion. Most like a pigeon, decided Mirko privately. At the bottom she looked over the weapon-rack and picked a side, then pulled on it.
It swung out ponderously slowly and a soft clunk came from under the stairs. Venne leapt past Mirko, turning in the air like a feral cat, and landing on his feet to face the source of the noise. He stood, poised on the balls of his feet, then relaxed again. "Something opened," he said.
Lianna reached behind the rack and picked up a sword, scabbarded and tied onto a belt. She hefted it, and held the scabbard close to her face to look at it, and then a curious look crossed her face. She laid her own sword carefully down, and pulled the new blade from its scabbard. In the dim light of the room, the blade seemed to flicker with a pale blue light, and a cold draught sighed through the room.
Venne turned at the touch of the cold air on the back of his neck, and his eyes widened.
"What is that?"
"It's a frostbane," said Lianna softly, a hint of reverence in her voice. "They were made over a hundred years ago to arm dragon hunters. They're all owned by the rich and powerful now."
"Except this one."
"Except this one. And I can carry it from the tower by myself."
Mirko smiled slightly, and then he saw the look of desire on Lianna's face. There was definite greed in there as well, he thought, but more than anything she wanted that sword as her own.
There was a clanging as she untied her own belt and let it drop to the floor, and strapped on the new one, scabbarding the frostbane. She retrieved her purse, tied to her old belt, and tied it on to her new one.
"Now I'm looking forward to those hobgoblins getting here!"