Notre Dame vs. Notre Pere – Every Cathedral Will Burn

Notre Dame vs. Notre Pere – Every Cathedral Will Burn — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Yahoo news

This week came the shocking news: the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris burned.

We don’t have a television, so it was even more surreal for me to happen upon a public TV and sees shots of the iconic cathedral wreathed in flames.

While now it seems only the roof and spire were destroyed, it’s something that can’t be undone. 850 years of history and more, gone. Some suggest that France does not even have large enough trees to repair the damage.

The whole thing was even more poignant to me since I just watched a video essay about The Hunchback of Notre Dame and how Disney’s version (and the other film adaptations) differed from Victor Hugo’s original vision…which was basically to focus on the cathedral itself, how architecture was used to convey values, and how the written word was rendering that practice obsolete (video link here – language cautions).

Why bother talking about this? Well, it got me thinking – as many things do…

Buildings Decay

If you’ve read the books of Kings and Chronicles, you’ll recall that the Temple of God that Solomon built in Jerusalem kept needing to be repaired (and the kings Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah all raised money for that purpose). (See 2 Chron. 24; 2 Kings 17-20; 2 Chron. 29-30; 2 Kings 22-23; and 2 Chron. 34.) Continue reading

Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s Sheep Toy

That stupid sheep toy of Ezekiel’s…

We spent three long days in the VIP quarters, letting our front-line fighters heal up. Mikael and I had plenty of time to cook things with the vegetables from the storeroom, and Raven kept trying to get us to drink some of his looted wine. (He shouldn’t have smirked like that while he was offering it.)

Well, finally we were all healed up, and started preparing our gear to go back out there.

Ezekiel had this little sheep toy made out of sheepskin – he said he got it from his mentor (y’know, the one who told him about Ao his deity). As he was tucking it in the top of his pack, he unrolled that scroll of Cure Light Wounds we found earlier, and the writing still wasn’t faded from it.

“Praise Ao,” he said. “I still have Cure Light Wounds spells!”

Yeah. That was Ezekiel.

We headed out again – across the lake in the boat, past the dead bodies of the lizardmen we killed, and into the twisty hallway beyond.

“Do you smell something?” asked Ezekiel. “Something like rotting human flesh?”

All Kelsier and I smelled was the lizard stench – which is pretty powerful.

As Lancell turned the corner up ahead, he cried, “I think I found your rotting flesh, Ezekiel!”

Ezekiel, of course, was beside him and exclaimed, “That’s a lot of zombies! Everybody back up to the door!”

Well, I was already at the door, since I hadn’t gotten into the hallway yet, so Kelsier and I readied our bows while the Magic Users backed up past us.

“What are you doing with that little sheep toy, Ezekiel?” asked Mikael, peeking around the corner.

Next thing I heard was Lancell exclaiming.

“Wow! All clear,” came Ezekiel’s voice.

Ezekiel. Performing Turn Undead. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE WORLD EZEKIEL ACTUALLY HAD A SPELL??

The rest of us crowded forward to where the passage opened into a room, where Ezie and Lancell were laughing and shaking their heads.

“I figured it out,” cried Ezekiel, waving the sheep thing over his head. “This Lamb is the holy symbol of Ao, and He granted us the power to Turn these Undead into dust!”

I looked around, but all I saw was a lot of dust piles. Raven made a holy gesture to Merikka, and Mikael looked impressed, too.

(Someone asked if they were the guards we had killed, and Lancell thought that, from the wound placement and the clothes, that they probably were.)

I…I still can’t get it. Ezekiel spent all those years praying for spells, and never got any, and now – boom, he turned fifteen zombies into dust just by showing them his sheep toy Holy Lamb Symbol.

    

We kept going. The only path onward was a staircase, leading further down. I grunted something to Kelsier about how many levels this “dungeon” had…it’d be just our luck for Explictika Defilas to bury herself under 100 levels of charmed minions.

This time, none of us slid down the stairs, and we reached the bottom safely. There, we found a huge mud puddle, but for once it had stepping stones across. We chose the path with the most dry land, and that led us to yet another underground lake (no boat) and a door, which we got open.

Behind the door…something that looked pretty undead. Parts of its face were falling off, and it shuffled toward Ezekiel and Lancell with a groan.

Lancell stabbed it with the magic short sword we looted off the guard-officers earlier this week, and the second time Ezekiel waved his sheep toy at it, it kind of whimpered and turned around, letting Lancell cut it down.

Coming off the corridor beyond, we found a row of cages, with four human prisoners.

Ezekiel (of course – Mr. Minister) introduced himself and started Raven and Kelsier working on the locks of the cages.

(I was all paranoid that they were mind-controlled, but the man explained when they were taken to the snake-lady and she said they would be her slaves, that he said “no” – and the little boy and girl who were there said the same thing. There was also a woman who didn’t say much.)

The man is from Hook Hill, while the two kids are from Orlane (surprise!) and their parents were charmed by Her (the carpenter – be cautious when we return).

We couldn’t get all the locks open, but that’s when I remembered the turnip sandwiches I had stashed in my pack – and Raven handed over some of his truly terrible wine. Your heart really goes out to those people when you see them staring at that food like it’s the best stuff they’ve ever seen.

Ezekiel gave the man his spare mace, and Raven gave the woman one of his daggers that he looted from the armory upstairs.

We all decided we weren’t in a position to escort them to a safer place, so after giving them food and torches, Ramne “locked” the door in that special wizard way. Now nothing can get at the prisoners, and if we lived we could go back for them.

Yeah…if we lived…

That corridor ended in another door. Lancell and Ezekiel opened it, and immediately took fighting stances.

Through the door, I could see someone in flashy robes with a decked-out hammer, and someone in rags rushing forward to engage us.

Kelsier and I nocked arrows, while Raven zipped around us and threw a dagger.

As the fight spread out, I was able to move into the room and saw the altar behind the cleric – yet another snake-lady statue sitting on it.

Raven tore down the room and ducked behind the priest and tried to punch him (you wouldn’t know it from looking at his robes, but that guy can really move!).

Well, Raven didn’t totally distract the cleric from the rest of us on the other side of the room, because he waved his hands and said some words and then I couldn’t see.

Apart from a few cries of surprise, it suddenly got really quiet – except for some grunts from Raven.

I blinked as the room lit up again – the door standing against the wall, behind Ramne, was shining brightly.

I got another arrow off and dinged the cleric. While Ezekiel and Lancell pounded on the assistant, Mikael ran forward and clonked the cleric a good one with his staff – all while Raven was darting back and forth, trying to keep away from the cleric and keep him off balance (and took a couple hard whacks for his trouble).

And then – it was over. Lancell stepped forward and finished off the cleric, and we stood breathing heavily and looking at each other.

Ezekiel whipped out his scroll and stood over the bleeding Raven, while we checked out the cleric’s gear.

His hammer was fancy, for sure, with the head fashioned like a snake head – but Lancell declared it less effective than what we had.

Ezekiel did find some keys on him, which we took.

Something about the altar didn’t look right to me (and not just in the Evil sense). I was going over that – and the back wall – trying to decide what I was feeling when Raven took the idol and hurled it against the altar – smash! (Can’t blame him, since this creature came and charmed his over-priests and defiled his goddess’s temple, but it is becoming a fetish.)

Smashing the statue on the altar must have shaken something loose, because a wooden panel slid down – and next thing you know, Kelsier ran forward and was helping me open a secret door.

Raven was completely healed by Ezie’s scroll (in fact, he looked a tad younger than he had before), so Lancell and Ezekiel strode forward to take point.

And through the secret door…just inside…oh, my…

It was Her. In the flesh. One hundred times bigger than the statues we’d seen, and that much uglier, too…coily snake body and a woman’s head.

She whipped around to look at us, gave a funny little smile, and stared at Lancell.

They charged. Ramne muttered something, then yelled, “Stay close to me if you can!”

Mikael waved his hands in a Druid spell, and then her outline glittered and shone, like my instincts were honing in on the shot.

She snarled and lashed out at Ezekiel…and…he dropped to the ground like a stone.

Jill fired her Magic Missile (it shot past me all fiery and white) and Lancell struck a blow that would have taken off a limb if the slimy freak had limbs.

With Raven’s loud prayers to Merikka in my ears, Kelsier and I took our shots – and landed arrows smack in that scaly hide.

And then Master Ramne said some strange words in a kind of echoey voice, and I flinched as a searing white bolt of lightening shot past my shoulder and hit Explictika Defilas in her uncanny, woman-ish face.

She shrieked, and twisted, and shriveled like an earthworm, and flopped on the ground with a long exhalation.

I think we all stood rooted for a split second.

Then I was kneeling over Ezekiel…and he wasn’t breathing…and I dug the Cure scroll out of his pack, but I couldn’t even pronounce the words, let alone cast them. I asked Ramne if he had a poison cure (and he didn’t) and Lancell (he has a “Cure Disease” because of course he does, but nothing for naga poison) and Mikael (who thinks he might in like three levels but not yet).

Kelsier was digging in the pile of treasure that Evil Defilas used as a sitting cushion, and came back with a leather bag.

“Look,” he said, and put his arm in all the way, and then took it out. “There’s a lot of gold here, too, and skulls…but we’re probably not interested in the skulls.”

Yeah. Great. Dandy. Gold and new boots and lots of other weird stuff. I did dig through the pile for a potion of some kind, but of course one bottle looks much like another.

And every time I came back to Ezekiel, he hadn’t moved. I don’t think his heart is beating.

Raven folded himself into that monk-ish pose, and started praying to Merikka: “I don’t know Ezekiel’s God Ao, but you know Him, Merikka – so would you please petition Him on behalf of His servant Ezekiel?”

Guess I’ll do the same with Ehlonna.

WHY? So I get You don’t care much about having clerics, since You put so little effort into them – and never gave Ezekiel spells – but then You turn around and honor Your symbol (if that’s what it is) and let a brand new, untrained cleric ABSOLUTELY DISINTEGRATE fifteen zombies, and then You just let Your cleric DIE?

I’m so confused.

Ezekiel was kind of bossy, and also straight-laced, and just had to be involved in everything, and had to make himself the one to talk to everybody (like citizens and stuff) and he somehow thought I couldn’t possibly handle myself (like being nineteen somehow makes me immature) and now after all this time telling me about a God that nobody else thinks exists (but maybe He does? how would I know) after all that he’s just…gone.

One slash from – You Know Who. And now You Know Who is dead and rotting, and we’ve chopped the head off her whole cult…but Ezekiel is just lying there and he didn’t even twitch when I waved his “holy symbol” in his face.

Stupid, stupid Ezekiel, who thinks he has to teach me how to properly check the enemies’ pockets, and properly make turnip stew, and like I can’t handle being in the front with Lancell because Kelsier is way stronger than I am and so what if he is? I’m not a kid, and Ezekiel doesn’t have to be in charge of everything –

EXCEPT NOW HE’S NOT IN CHARGE AND HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?

And anyway, Gracious Ehlonna, please pass on – assuming Ao is the great God of the Gods who oversees everything – please just mention to Him that this really doesn’t make sense and I’m confused so thanks…if only there was a Resurrection or something…


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia Wood

Image courtesy of Author Kristen Lamb

I love free stuff. I can’t count the number of free ebooks I have on my computer, and I’m notorious for collecting free leftover food for our chickens.

But maybe enough is enough.

It all started when I read these posts from Kristen Lamb, who blogs about writing, the author business, and having a mentality to succeed. You should really read her posts to get the full impact of her arguments – “How Free is Poisoning the Internet and Killing the Creatives” and “Welcome to the Matrix: You Work For Free and There Is No Payday”, along with others, I’m sure – but here’s the gist…

Savvy Businessman Meets Idealistic Creative

She outlines how content providers (middlemen like Amazon, Apple, Huffington Post, and others) get content from the producers (authors write books and articles; performers give shows; singers produce songs) and offer that content to consumers (the mass public).

Consumers love entertainment, articles, music, etc. The businesses in the middle get paid by advertisers, so they offer a lot of content for Free.

Consumers love Free. I love free. Most of my news or research is found for free online. I love free music, and I love free books.

The sticky part comes in when the actual creators of the work need to be paid.

The Payment Model

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia Wood

Kitty death glare…

Mrs. Lamb says the modern market is operating on an outdated model. Used to be, young, inexperienced authors/actors/singers worked internships for little or nothing…to build bridges, get their name out, and hone their skills.

What makes Mrs. Lamb see red is asking experienced, professional, and high-quality producers to do the same thing.

The Huffington Post is her whipping boy, because they openly make millions from ad revenue, but don’t pay any of their contributors for the content they place on their site. (Smart business move for them…bad deal for the writers.)

Remember: I love free articles. But I agree that making authors feel like the site is doing them a favor by using their content (without paying them to use it) is under-handed.

The Vicious Cycle

Read Mrs. Lamb’s full posts…they’re long, but there are more examples in there:

  • Performers expected to do their show pro bono at a conference because someone famous is hosting.
  • Speakers invited to workshops, but not even offered enough money to cover traveling and food expenses (because she’s supposed to teleport there, I guess).
  • Authors down-rated in a review because their debut book isn’t free, even though they’re a new author (it’s in one of the comments, but I don’t remember where).

Mrs. Lamb’s solution is author organization: authors as a body saying, “Our work is worth something, or you wouldn’t be making such a killing with it. We’re done handing it out for free; we have kids to feed and college to pay for the same as you.”

If you liked it, you should have put a ring on it

Addicted to Free

Once these articles opened my eyes, I started seeing this in other places around us. Our culture really is addicted to free…from free healthcare to free rent to free food to free education.

But generalities are hard to grasp. Let me zoom in the lens.

  • “Kelly” (our foster kids’ mom) got free rent from the state. She and her kids never picked up their wrappers, never cleaned (I’m not sure they did laundry), and didn’t know how to cook. Every time her apartment got too roach-ridden, she would move…without warning the landlord, or even bothering to pack her stuff. It was mostly all hand-outs, anyway. She never paid for any of it, so she didn’t value it.
  • A recent customer at my day job took down forty bolts of fabric to look at. Five minutes before closing. At the manager’s subtle disbelief, the customer displayed no remorse, blamed the whole thing on her daughter, acted oblivious to all the work she was putting others to, and left with her purchase without so much as a “Sorry for making such a mess” or “I’ll help put these back”. The associates were left putting away fabric for ten minutes after closing time. The lady didn’t have to pick them up, so she didn’t care (or maybe didn’t even notice)…”Entitled” is the word someone used.

We’re so disconnected from where things come from, that we don’t value them. I’m super glad I don’t have to butcher my own chickens for my casserole, or fatten my own pig for my ham…but when we don’t pay for anything with our own, hard-earned money, we don’t value it so much.

Let’s Go From Preaching to Meddling

Healthcare. I think my country’s healthcare is pretty good. At the very least, we can walk into the MRI clinic in my hometown and be served…without having to wait ten weeks like in Canada!

State-funded healthcare is just another example of how consumers have been programed to expect everything to be given to them. Even when co-pays or private clinics outside the system could help everyone seeking healthcare, we can’t imagine dipping into our own pockets for a doctor’s visit.

Living Generously

This whole issue lines up with some other things God has been teaching us recently.

A few weeks ago, our washing machine broke…and so did our dryer, the truck’s tire, and the furnace.

I started thinking, “I wonder how God’s going to provide the money for all this?”

After it was resolved, I realized, “He might have just said: You don’t need a washing machine right now.”

Let’s face it: I live a pretty cushy life. There’s a lot around here that I don’t exactly need.

But I’ve been given so much. How can I live in such a way that I hold it with an open hand?

I’m not talking about “Oh, I’m going to give X amount to charity now, because I read a sob story and feel bad about being well off.”

No. I mean a lifestyle change, an attitude change…a Holy Spirit-fueled change!

Generous on Whose Part?

So, yes, God wants us to “give what we’ve decided in our hearts, freely and without coercion” (Kimia’s paraphrase of 2 Cor. 9:7).

But He also said this part:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

—1 Tim. 5: 17-18 (ESV)

The worker is worth his pay.

The definition of “slavery” is “working, under coercion, without getting paid.” Now, there are different ways of being paid:

  • You perform your songs because it’s fun, so the experience and just having an audience are the reward.
  • You send a copy of your book to a beta reader/critique reader in exchange for feedback. Helping you grow as a writer is how they repay you.
  • You believe in helping fatherless children, so you volunteer your time as a mentor. That’s supporting something you believe in.
  • You write because you love the act of writing, and you publish on Amazon because you want to order yourself copies and just hold that gorgeous baby in your hands.
  • You love your mother and help her with chores because she needs the help, and of course you would help her.

All these are perfectly valid and worthwhile elements. But notice that every single one of them is a decision you made about your work and your compensation.

You didn’t say anything about me and my books. That’s not something you have the right to decide.

Bringing It Full Circle

This all started with an article about writers. If you, or I, want to give our work away for free…more power to us.

What gets Kristen Lamb livid is the “entitlement” of others who act like they deserve our labor and our product for nothing.

Like Apple’s streaming service offering consumers three months of free songs (until the musicians stood up for each other and said, “Not with our paycheck, you’re not”).

Or like a website I recently ran across where readers can request a book in order to review it (all for free)…but authors pay a monthly subscription to host their books.

I get it – websites take money to host. And a review is kind of a compensation (though the government won’t let you “give” anything “in exchange for” a review). Before I read Mrs. Lamb’s blog posts, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it.

But now it occurs to me that this is exactly upside down to how it “should” be.

In Soviet Russia, authors pay for you to read books…

Recognize the Value We Provide

Entertainment is a valuable product…otherwise, people wouldn’t be so eager to consume it. There’s nothing wrong in letting the actual creators of this product enjoy the fruits of their labor (in the form of paychecks).

“Nothing wrong”? How about: “It’d be a good thing”!

(Obviously, if nobody wants to read Joe Someone’s book, that’s not our problem. We shouldn’t pay for t-shirts we don’t even own! But if everyone is crazy about Joe’s book, then we should totally pay Joe for his book – and not get it off that piracy site instead!)

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia WoodNot only will paying for things benefit our attitude, but they might even lead to more content.

If authors and entertainers work their butts off but never get enough money to put food on the table, eventually some of them (if not most of them) will give up and do something else. Imagine a world without TV shows, movies, or new books and songs…

However, if we “vote with our money” on the stories and artists we like the most, that will encourage those creators to make even more content! Like a series of books? Writing the author an encouraging note never hurts…but monetary incentive wouldn’t be misplaced, either 🙂

Let the Change Affect Me

Well, all these elements started me on some hard decisions. To live more deliberately, and more generously, I’m going to consider some changes:

Towards Other People

  • If I like a song enough to look up the music video on YouTube…maybe I also like it enough to actually buy it from the actual artist? (Or even buy the whole CD?!?)
  • If I enjoy a free book and want to support the author, maybe I can do more than write a review…maybe I can buy one of their other books and read it, too?

Towards My Own Work

  • I work hard on my projects, and it shows in their quality. Even though I’m content for my writing to not be my main income, I don’t want to feed this vicious cycle.
  • Giving my work away for free trains people to crave FREE FREE FREE. It reinforces the whole paradigm we struggled with above. And I’m no longer convinced it gets more people to actually read my work.
  • It breaks my heart to charge for my work, because I know how much I love FREE and don’t want to be a hypocrite. But I also don’t want to be part of the further degradation of the market as a whole.
  • Besides, I think I personally have reached the point of Decreasing Marginal Returns with free ebooks. Used to be, I snapped them up left and right. Now, it’s no longer an automatic “Add to Cart”…probably because I’ve decided I should actually read them if I get them.
  • Finally…MY BOOKS ARE WORTH IT! The written word is a subjective product (unlike, say, a t-shirt), but I’ve gotten enough feedback from enough different people that it’s not just me talking…I’M A GOOD WRITER. And there’s no shame in charging money for my product!

And maybe, just maybe, charging money will make any reader who takes a chance on me value my books more than they otherwise would.

Maybe they’ll read them…and review them…and tell all their friends…and have fun in the worlds I’ve created.

Will the Change Affect You?

This isn’t just about how much I love free stuff. This is about acknowledging the value of people’s time and labor.

This is about valuing one another…being grateful for what we have…and generously saying, “I don’t need all this.”

What hard decisions will you be led to? How can you “live generously” in a world driven by FREE?

Will you take a hard look at the costs of our culture…and dare to do something about your part of it? (Not someone else’s part – yours.)


Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring novelist, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, gaming, writing, hobby-farming…and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! (Yeah, I know…it’s still free.) You’ll also receive occasional updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

Or visit the book page to see what cool new stuff she’s working on!

Dear Diary…Party vs. Doors

The night passed…I won’t say peacefully, because there seemed to be a lot of traffic in the corridor outside, but it did pass. And we were able to nurse our wounds and rest up.

On venturing out, we explored the tunnels to the south and west. There we found some nice quarters with a fireplace and comfy chairs. A corridor back behind it led to bedrooms with…four beds.

As someone (maybe Lancell) pointed out, we killed three officers outside the guardrooms yesterday.

The last door was locked, and took a combined effort to break down. A desk stood in the corner, with a statuette of a snake with a woman’s face.

While Raven was trying to break the statue of the creature that had “defiled his goddess’ temple”, Kelsier found and unlocked a chest from underneath the bed.

There was a swirly, glowing symbol beside the lock, but Ezekiel opened the chest anyway and seemed to be fine.

Inside we found a robe, a mace, and a scroll.

Ramne took one look at the robe and growled. It’s black and crimson – apparently the colors of a spirit naga, which he said is bad.

If Master Ramne says it’s bad, I guess it’s bad.

Ezekiel took a look at the scroll, and gave a thank-you prayer to Ao.

“Look,” he called to us. “Ao gave me the Cure Light Wounds spell I asked for this morning!”

Well, what do you know about that? I’m all for being grateful to Good deities, I guess. Little did I know how much we’d need that scroll.

Well, Ezie also snagged the mace (as a spare) but we left the robe.

Exploring some more, we came to a door that wouldn’t open – but that’s not exactly a surprise down here. There’s so much moisture in…everywhere.

Lancell and Ezekiel sprinkled a little dirt on themselves while them were hauling on the door, and when they finally did get it open a great ton of mud crashed down on their heads!

As I ran forward from the back of the line, I saw Ezekiel stretched out, face covered with mud.

Lancell “Laid Hands” on him, which let him stand up, but he was pretty shaky and achy. We all decided Kelsier should be in the lead with Lancell, while Ezekiel helped me guard the rear.

(He’s got this crazy idea that I can’t protect myself. Like I didn’t leave home at fourteen to live with my Ranger Master. He and Archy would get along so well.)

Anyway, after all that, there wasn’t anything in the room except several kegs…presumably of beer. If we happen to get thirsty, I guess we’ll come back for it.

South of the VIP quarters, we found a boat on the shore of a little lake. Piling in, Ezekiel and Raven rowed us across. At the very edge of our torchlight, we could see the glinting eyes of crocodiles…but thankfully they ignored us and we crossed the opposite shore safely.

At the end of this new corridor was a door. The moment we opened the door, there was a cry, and something rushed us.

Two lizard-like humanoids fought us. Those slit eyes give me the shivers!

And the stench! Poor Kelsier staggered and bent over, and while the rest of us managed to keep it together, it wasn’t an easy fight.

Jill cast her Magic Missile (she won’t let me call it her magicky lightening bolt anymore) which is good ’cause we needed all the help we could get.

No sooner had we killed the first two than the door beyond flew open and in rushed more of the filthy beasties!

And Lancell got stabbed. You know it’s bad when the Paladin gets hurt.

Ezekiel whipped out his scroll and started reading aloud.

Ramne muttered and waved his hands, and the leading lizardman dropped to the floor, snoring loudly.

Didn’t phase his companions any – they just crowded up to the door, eager to hack at us.

Ezekiel read through the scroll twice (he says there was a second copy at the bottom) and Lancell’s wounds closed.

Kelsier was wheezing badly (and he’s not so good with a sword as his bow, I guess) so he dropped to his knees and killed the sleeping lizard-thing.

Raven flung daggers into the enemy (I didn’t see whether he hit anything) and Mikael and Jill went to it with their staves.

When the dust cleared, six total lizardlings lay stretched out, dead. All of us were standing, which is really an improvement if you think about it…but we were still beat up.

Mikael helped me loot the lizardy humanoids. They had money pouches which added up to a decent sum…but not worth coming here just for that.

Lancell and Ezekiel were both in a bad way, and enough of the rest of us had scratches that we all decided to go back to the VIP quarters and rest up. It’s only mid-morning, but we won’t make it very far in this condition.

This place is kind of weird, like “Empty hallway, empty hallway, empty – LOOK SOMETHING THAT CAN TOTALLY KILL YOU!”

It’s a little boring, sitting here behind our barred door, listening to our companions’ snores. (And Lancell has quite a snore for his age.) But we need to stick together. We need each other.

And besides I can daydream about how I’m going to skin that weasel. Y’know…that enormous, so-big weasel…


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…Battle-o-rama

So much for a quiet afternoon.

We holed up in the guards’ bunk-rooms to let our wounded companions recover. But only a few hours had passed before I heard something in the corridor outside…munching.

Summoning Mikael and Kelsier for backup, I peeked out the door.

In the darkness and shadows, a giant lizard was chewing on one of the guards’ bodies. Well, that’s unsanitary and disrespectful, and I decided to interfere.

Maybe the torchlight confused it (or the guard was really tasty) because it didn’t react to us right away.

The beam of light from the door threw some weird shadows, so my first arrow went high. After that, Kelsier and I both nailed the creature, and it leapt forward to engage.

Mikael helped us take it down, and though it took a bite out of my cloak, none of us got hurt.

To prevent more nonsense like that, we dragged the dead bodies into an unused guardroom. Besides, we had some time to burn while we waited for Ezekiel and Raven to heal up a bit.

Not too long after we’d locked ourselves in again, someone came down the passage and pounded on the door across the way.

He shouted some things like, “Open up, you fools! No time for stupid jokes. I’m getting Jarvis!”

Then he went away.

Within minutes, Ezekiel and Lancell knocked on our door.

“We have company coming! Let us in, so we can ambush them from this room.”

So our whole party crowded into one room, and our lead fighters readied themselves behind the door. Raven was still snickering; apparently he asked the man for a password or something.

Footsteps came down the corridor, then the opposite door echoed with pounding.

“Open up. You’re in big trouble; She won’t be happy to hear you’re neglecting your duty!”

Lancell threw open the door and charged out with the magically shining shield on his arm. A man in scale mail stood there with two fighters at his back. They stared, open-mouthed, while we swung our weapons.

We had the poor guys outnumbered, but they still put up a worthy fight. They seemed to still have their memories, their names, their thinking abilities…but their loyalties were totally invested in Her. Which made them our devoted enemies.

Poor guys. Still, they had some nice loot.

Once everything was over, Mikael cast Detect Magic to examine one of their short swords, that had a design on the blade.

Turns out, that short sword is magic (somehow), so Kelsier traded up for it. The Enemy Commander’s shield was also magic, so Ezekiel snapped it up. We also looted the commander’s long sword for a spare, and Ezekiel insisted I use a shield, since we now had so many spares of that (since the enemies all had shields).

I tried to tell him that I’m already carrying a bow, a long sword, and a torch (and how many arms does he think I have?!) but he says I need to learn so that I’ll have a better Armor Class.

So now I have a shield hanging on my back. Well, whatever keeps me alive, I guess.

We decided that we weren’t getting any rest anyway, so we should explore some more of the tunnels.

Found a storeroom with food and a weapons rack, and Raven cleaned them out of daggers (he does have a history of losing them, I guess). Come to think of it, Raven has collected a lot of things lately…from their turnips and their wine to their daggers.

Hope this won’t cause problems for us later.

We didn’t meet any more “enemies” except for one thing…I was rear-guard, and heard something skittering up behind us.

When I turned…well, it was the biggest weasel I had ever seen.

As I launched an arrow at it, Kelsier beside me said, “That’s a big weasel.”

Weasels can move really fast. And when they’re that enormous, they move comparatively faster! It charged and made a swipe at me with its teeth, forcing me to switch to my sword.

Raven, who was next in the line, said, “Now that is a big weasel.”

Kelsier nailed it with an arrow. As Raven landed some kind of monk-strike on it, Kelsier muttered, “I’ve never seen a weasel that size.”

We killed it, but not before it took a big chomp out of me. Weasels have wicked sharp teeth, too! I mean, the small ones can be pretty vicious if you’re not careful, but when it’s just that freaking huge…!

While I leaned against the wall and Kelsier tried to make me stop bleeding, Ramne shuffled back to us and handed me a flask.

No idea what was in that stuff, but Wow! it packs a punch. One swig, and I felt much better. He said he only had one more dose, but it put me back on my feet, and that’s what matters for now.

Whew. Burned all the way down, though.

Well, us rear guard caught up with the others, and we started down a corridor we had passed by earlier.

“There’s a mud patch, and a door beyond it,” said Lancell from the front.

“I’ll check it for traps,” said Raven, and dashed forward.

I don’t know what happened (since I’m way in the back) but everybody up front started exclaiming or shouting.

“Don’t touch it,” yelled Ramne.

“It burns,” cried Raven.

“We need some help, here,” shouted Ezekiel. “What do we do?”

Raven came back into view, stumbling, with green goo covering his boots.

“Don’t touch it,” cried Ramne.

Lancell drew his sword and scraped the slime off Raven’s feet. Raven uncorked one of his looted bottles of wine, and doused his feet.

Ezekiel borrowed my torch and ran the flame along Lancell’s sword. The sticky something – whatever it was – bubbled and left a dark, ugly stain behind on the sword.

Good thing we just looted another long sword. Lancell put down the damaged one in disgust, and we retreated from the evil mud puddle.

It was evening out in the lands were the sun shines, so we returned to the guard rooms and bedded down.

This time, we’ll just mind our own business and hope nothing tries to invade us.


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…The Dank, Dark Dungeon of Death

By the time the sun reached the horizon, we had come to the end of the swamp path…and our presumed destination.

Sheltered by a circular dyke, a staircase led down into a hole in the ground. It didn’t look as much like a “cave” as I had expected, but you didn’t have to be a genius to assume we had arrived.

Settling down in the relatively drier area inside the dyke, we arranged watches and prepared to rest through the night.

Tomorrow, well-rested, uninjured, and with prepared spells, we will descend into the Dungeon!

****

What a busy morning!

Right after breakfast, we headed down the staircase – Lancell and Ezekiel first. Master Ramne cast a Light spell on the shield for our leading man, so it would shine out in front – and Raven and I would carry torches in the back.

The wooden steps were very muddy and wet…and Ezekiel lost his footing and took Lancell down to the bottom – bump, bump, bump!

We could hear Ezekiel yell, “Hey, guys!” as he descended into darkness.

Ramne, Mikael, and Jill rolled their eyes and started down – only to lose their footing and join our leaders on their backsides.

Raven and Kelsier (no surprise) kept their footing as they followed, and I stopped laughing long enough to also not make a fool of myself.

As we took our time down the creaking stairs, we could hear the clangs and shouts of combat. By the time the three of us in the back had reached the bottom (about sixty steps later), our companions had killed four guards armed with spears.

The guards had nothing on their persons. Jill commented that they never tried to run away, even when Lancell leveled one with a single stroke.

The room was dirt, about ten feet high, shored up with wooden beams that didn’t look too healthy. Given the option, I wouldn’t trust my head to this place, but what choice do we have? We have to get to the bottom of this.

Three corridors led off from the room. Ezekiel picked the western corridors and hustled us into marching order, bustling Lancell into the front with him.

(Probably he’s just excited to finally be in action, close to solving this thing, but he doesn’t have to act like everybody’s big brother. I mean, come on, we know how to do our jobs, Ezie.)

At the end of the passage stood a wooden door. It was hard to see from way in the back (and having the front of Lancell’s shield shining with light throws weird shadows) but I could hear the two leaders breaking it down.

The people in front shouted in surprise. Frogs!

Lancell, Ezekiel, and Mikael killed them, but they whacked Ezekiel with a tongue before they went down.

The group moved forward so Raven could examine the room with his torch, letting me get a look at the frogs. They were bigger than Kelsier, and lived in a pool that filled the room beyond.

Raven waded into the pool, and found it about waist-high. He reached a muddy ledge over to the left, and called, “There’s a door here, but it’s hard to tell if it goes anywhere.”

Kelsier (obviously) wasn’t excited about traveling through the pool, and neither was I. Who knows what’s in there? After all, where did the frogs come from? Who keeps a pool of giant frogs around?!

We returned to the entryway and took the east corridor.

Four wooden doors opened off this passage, and Lancell listened at the first one. He and Ezekiel whispered and gestured dramatically, and then Lancell eased the door opened and rushed into the room.

At the thumps and clangs of combat, Raven followed the leading duo into the room, while Kelsier and I kept our eyes on the rest of the passageway and the two magic users stood against the wall and talked about some brainy thing I didn’t understand.

“Intruders! Intruders!” yelled a woman’s voice from the room, while the thumps and cries continued.

Two of the doors farther down the passageway burst open, and men charged into the corridor, gripping short spears.

While I shoved my torch upright into the mud of the floor and readied my bow, Kelsier let loose an arrow and felled the first man with a single shot.

The corridor quickly crowded with people. There were eight men altogether, and they pressed forward while Kelsier and I riddled them with arrows.

Mikael backed away from the door where our companions were, and Raven emerged, bleeding.

While the two of them fell back and made mud balls, Lancell and Ezekiel charged out of the room and engaged the spearmen.

Maybe the frog spit did something to Ezekiel’s head. The whole thing would have been over quicker if he didn’t keep almost dropping his mace, or missing his opponent and smacking Lancell’s shield.

Of course, Lancell also missed a blow and cut Ezekiel pretty badly. Remind me to stay in the archery division.

Mikael and Raven lobbed their mud balls at the enemy. Raven nailed Lancell in the back of the head (maybe that’s why Lancell accidentally slashed Ezekiel?). Mikael wasn’t so unfortunate, but neither of them hurt the actual enemy, so they fell back to watch with the magic users.

Well, it takes a long time to describe, but the whole thing was over in a matter of moments. All eight spearmen lay sprawled before us in a muddy mess…not even when they saw their companions decapitated with a single stroke did they try to flee, or parlay.

Raven and Ezekiel were our only injured. While Lancell “laid hands” on Ezekiel, and Ramne supervised the first aid, Mikael and I searched our fallen enemies.

The first room had been occupied by four young women with spears…all dead. All twelve were all dressed very simply, and none of them had any personal effects or something to identify them to their relatives.

I’m not a nobleman warrior like Lancell, and I’m not a former man-at-arms like Ezekiel. The smell of human blood and brains does something to me. We have to stop this Evil Explictika Deflias character. Who knows how many deaths are at her door by now? How many villages has she plundered and bewitched?

I can’t wait to get out of this sticky death-trap, but we have to hole up for now. Raven and Ezekiel need to recover strength.

We barricaded ourselves in two of the barracks rooms. Ramne has the wounded and Lancell with him across the way. When Ezekiel mentioned barricading the door, Ramne looked a little smug, and I heard him mutter some strange words after he shut it.

I’m not a wizard, so I’ll lock our door the best I can.

We’ll have some lunch, and ponder out our next move. Taking out eighteen enemies without losing anyone to unconsciousness is pretty good (especially considering our record), but we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’ll all be this easy.

We will end this snake-lady witch if we die for it.

May Ehlonna protect me…protect us all.


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…action at last…?!

Well, our adventure with the blacksmith didn’t teach us a whole lot more than we already knew.

Explictika Defilas or whatever she calls herself is charming people in the swamp, and Abramo has been kidnapping people to take to her.

Master Ramne says that if Abramo was charmed (enchanted) into doing things against his alignment, that would explain the mental strain that could have resulted in all the mad scribbling we found in his room in the temple.

Anyway, we (the party) and Ramne went to the Mayor to discuss our options.

After a lot of talking, and trying to decide what we could do against what we might be up against, we thought that:

1) a party should head into the swamp, tracking the lizardmen who were apparently involved in this cult (y’know, the lizardmen we killed in the cellar). They would have left a distinctive odor trail, such that Ramne’s weasel could follow.

2) whatever innocents remaining in the town should prepare themselves to defend each other against further kidnapping (especially since facing opposition might make the cultists more brazen).

3) someone (or someones) should go to Hochoch, to summon help for the village.

When Ezekiel asked the Mayor if he knew anyone who would be our messenger, he said “no”.

That’s when I blurted out that Alan might do it. I didn’t know much about him, but he was Ramne’s friend, and Ramne seemed willing to help us. (He volunteered the use of his weasel, after all.)

Well, Ramne and I went to talk to Alan. He said it was a two or three week journey to Hochoch, his family needs him, there’s no guarantee that anyone in Hochoch would be willing to help us even if we got there, and besides his adventuring days are over.

But at least now he knows what’s been going on, and can help Olwin at the Slumbering Serpent to look out for any no-good happenings.

With nothing else to do, our party settled down to heal up for our journey to the swamp. Raven, of course, just got leveled by a blacksmith-hammer and Kelsier and I still had wounds (probably from the goblins but really it’s been so long I don’t remember).

Feels good to have something definite to do. It’s true we can’t afford to wait for help from Hochoch…Abramo and his followers can wait us out easily, and there are still innocent people who haven’t been pulled into this who are at risk.

Besides, we have no evidence that Orlane is the only village Explicty D. is exploiting. Striking at the root of this thing is the only way to finish it once and for all.

So, I’m leaving my journal in our chest of loot at the inn. If we never make it back from the swamp, Olwin and his wife shall inherit the chest.

I, Elwyn, being of sound-ish mind do deed my share of the treasure to them, since really that’s the only thing I have to leave. (And my big brother Bartholomew can’t have my bow not even if he says he’s sorry for the thing with the slugs.)

Elwyn

Speaking of the treasure chest, though, Lancell, Raven, and Ezekiel pooled their shares of the gold to buy Ezie a decent shield, since he’s going to be in front protecting the rest of us, and that will benefit the whole party.

Olwin helped us buy it, so we didn’t antagonize the blacksmith any more than necessary.

****

A few days of rest have put us back on our feet. No word on what Abramo and his people have been up to in the meantime, but we have to trust the Mayor and Alan and Olwin to take care of themselves.

Setting out, now. If you’re an adventurer reading this, it’s up to you, now!

****

Ezie is mocking me for packing a spare journal, but it was a good idea!

The first few days out of Orlane were pretty boring, with Whiskers the Weasel leading the way, and Master Ramne shuffling along with us.

(Yes, he joined our party! After all, it’s his weasel, and we’ll probably need all the help we can get fighting Her.)

To reach the Rushmoors Marsh, we had to go through the forest. This forest seemed wrong on so many levels…no animals, no birds, no undergrowth. I can’t tell if that’s “normal” for this part of the world, but it didn’t feel normal to me.

Mikael looked uncomfortable, too. Obed-Hai might not always see eye-to-eye with Ehlonna, but we can all agree forests weren’t meant to be so dreary. The moss hangs down, and the light never makes it all the way through the trees…

Well, finally we left the moss and gloom for the MUD. The Rushmoor swamp is all mud and slime and water, almost up to Kelsier’s chest. Of course the little trooper doesn’t complain (and he’s probably better off on his own feet than with one of us carrying him…I know I would drop him, I just would), but it slows us all down.

Well, we hadn’t gone far before we were ATTACKED in the swamp.

Three ugly bugs that looked like fat bats merged with mosquitos dove toward us, needle-noses first.

Lancell swung his sword, and sliced the first one in half with one chop – splat!

Raven whipped out the dagger he looted off the Assassin, and danced forward to a gap in the battle formation. He flung the dagger at one of the creatures, but it missed and dropped with a plunk into the water.

We archers launched arrows, but I could tell it was hard for Kelsier to draw his bow when his arms were almost in the water, and he only nicked one of the creatures.

I, though, finally acquitted myself like I should. I nailed that sucker right through the body, letting Lancell finish off the last one.

Three giant insect things defeated, and not a one of us were injured!

This is definitely a win.

But I’m getting mud on my journal.


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Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…the mystery of our monster head collection

Woke up this morning in the torture chamber on the second floor of the temple. Our prisoner was still secure on the rack (not tightened, of course, just restrained).

Spending the night tied up seemed to have improved his mood. He actually started to answer some questions, starting with his name: Derrick.

Still a little wary, but he told us some useful information. He was taken to the “snake thing” by Abramo, and “she” wrapped herself around him and told him he was hers.

That’s how it works, apparently. Abramo and his servants would decide on a victim, and that family would be kidnapped and taken to the “snake thing” – in a cave in the Rushmoor swamp. Then, they would give Her their possessions willingly…they were snared, just like Abramo.

Except Derrick somehow wasn’t charmed – but he played along, and sometimes got paid for helping kidnap or shake down people. Sometimes they would even work on travelers passing through.

He didn’t remember our gnome, Neeblebluer (spl?). He’d only been to the swamp once, so couldn’t give us better directions.

The only other useful things he told us were these: Abramo sent him into the temple last night, to scout and “maybe some of us wouldn’t wake up in the morning”.

He also gave us the names of some of the people on the other side. We already knew the blacksmith and militia constable were with Abramo, but “the widow” was “on the list” to be changed…and so were “everyone at the Slumbering Serpent”, and a couple guys who lived by the mayor, and the farmer who lived near the inn.

We seemed to have pumped him dry, and he was pretty badly beat up, so we had a group huddle to decide what to do with him.

We finally voted to let him go (he wouldn’t have a lot of incentive to go back to Abramo, and he’s not in a condition to fight anyway), and we’d escort him to the edge of town for safety.

Fierce discussion, but we finally decided to keep the key we got off him. He says it’s to his stuff in the Golden Grain, the second inn of the town. We’re not going to loot it (not only does that seem like overkill, but he got a gleam in his eye when he told us that made us think the Golden Grain wasn’t a good place to go), but as Lancell pointed out, this way he’ll have even less incentive to stick around here.

While I got the prisoner off the rack, Lancell and Ezekiel beheaded some of the goblins lying around on the floor (we’ve got to be tidier in future) and loaded them into one of the coffins in the chamber (why are there fresh, new coffins lying around? I wish I knew).

We let Derrick out at the gate, and went to collect more monster heads from the basement (plus some skeleton heads from the skeletons we fought).

Raven made a detour on the second floor. One of the rooms up there is a library, and when we cleared the temple one of the times, we found a book in there – a holy book to Merikka…defaced with ugly pictures and soiled.

He says he wants to get the illuminations repaired. I think it’ll also be another piece of evidence that the caretakers of Merikka’s house have abused their duties.

Lugging the coffin full of monster heads, we sallied out into the town (Raven barred the gate behind us and climbed the wall to rejoin us).

As we descended the hill of the temple in loose formation, one of the farmers who lives at the crossroads came onto his porch with a crossbow.

Perfect opportunity to panic, but we kept our cool and smiled and waved as we just walked on past down the road. He seemed relieved when we left; can’t blame him, can you? It’s not every day you see a band of weird strangers taking their coffin for an outing.

We got to the inn (Slumbering Serpent) without further problems, and I confided in Olwin, the innkeeper (he seemed to take to me earlier, which I’ll certainly be grateful for).

He agreed that lizardmen and goblins had no rightful business in the Temple of Merikka, and suggested we hide our coffin in his winery while he fetched the Mayor to come listen to our case.

Having nothing better to do, we had a late breakfast while we waited.

When the Mayor arrived, we showed him our evidence. If the pile of monster heads hadn’t been enough to convince him, the innkeeper’s wife brought in Cirilli, the poor girl Abramo kept in a cage. He agreed that this was terrible, and should be dealt with.

What we should do about it, though, was another question.

Being back at the inn meant we could reunite with Jill our magic-user (looking none the worse for not being in combat the last few days), and we asked her what might possibly have been cast on Abramo and the others to “change” them.

Could we fix them? Would they never be “themselves” again, and we’d have to kill them?

Obviously, the Mayor was not happy about slaughtering half his town (especially when we weren’t sure who was on which side). It didn’t seem like the best idea to us, either, but I don’t know if we would stand a chance against this “snake lady thing” in the marsh, or if confronting her would free the townspeople, or even what the possibilities were!

While the Mayor and Lancell went to visit “the widow” and advise her to seek safety at the Slumbering Serpent (better than living alone, after all), the rest of us headed to talk to the mysterious hermit behind the inn.

Ezekiel has a “feeling” about this hermit that he can somehow help us.

I said, “Oh, Ezie, you and your prophetic feelings.”

He said, “This isn’t one of those, but I still think we should seek his help!”

Well, I think he’s right there. Jill isn’t high enough level to advise us, much less combat this thing, and the Mayor didn’t have anybody else he could think of who could be our ally.

The hermit lives in a shack of sorts, off in the trees behind the inn, right on the west edge of town.

He was noncommittal when we first showed up, but showing him our monster head collection (and talking about our planning with the Mayor) seemed to break the ice a bit.

We left our coffin in hiding by his house, while he agreed to accompany us to the blacksmith.

The Plan was for Ezekiel to be the distraction and pretend to shop for a shield, while Ramne (the hermit guy) observed the blacksmith from a distance and tried to see what kind of effect was on him. Charm spell? Racial domination spell (from some strange snake/reptile race that Ezekiel had heard of)? Could we counter-act it, and free the people from this bondage?

Well, we set off, trying to keep pace with the shuffling steps of the…er…old gentleman. (He might be reading over my shoulder, you know!)

We passed the house that’s just north of the SS, and the man on the porch greeted Ramne. They seemed to be friends.

The guy was doing something with his hand.

And that’s when I remembered my training, from way back in the village with my Ranger Master.

“It’s like being in a secret club of cool people,” he told me. “This is the Ranger sign. If they make this sign, then they’re a Ranger, too. You’d be surprised where you discover a brother ranger, out there in the wilds of the world.”

The man beckoned me over to talk.

Ezekiel didn’t want me to (probably worried the guy was a fake, or something) but sometimes you have to live dangerously. I told Ezie and Kelsier I’d catch up with them.

When they moved out of earshot, Alan (that’s the man’s name) asked, “What do you want with old Ramne?”

I said, “It’s a long story, but we’re hoping he can help us, and the Mayor.”

He nodded. “I trust him. Good luck.”

I said, “Thanks,” and I warned him not to trust Abramo.

This was probably the “farmer” on the list of potential victims (that we got from Derrick this morning).

Anyway, if Alan’s a Ranger, then he’s a Good guy. That doesn’t mean he’ll trust us (at least not right away) but he’s another potential ally.

As our group approached the smithy, Ramne “the old guy” hung back in the shelter of the building, while Ezekiel and the others advanced.

The blacksmith and his two boys (presumably his sons) were hard at work.

Ezie hadn’t even gotten a word out when the smith exploded in curses and yells, trying to rush him (his sons held him back).

Ezekiel and Kelsier and Mikael all tried to be reasonable and calm him down, but he just got more and more worked up.

I tried to keep an eye on how Ramne was doing, but it’s hard when you don’t know how this magic stuff works. Plus he has a naturally un-flapped face, so I wasn’t sure if he’d figured out what the spell was or not.

“Please,” said Ezekiel. “I only wanted to see your merchandise. I don’t think we’ve even met before.”

The sons lost their grip on their father’s arms…hard to see from where I stood, but it looked like they were surprised by something.

The blacksmith rushed forward, and swung his hammer. Raven was the first one standing in his path, and smashed to the ground in a dramatic sprawl.

I barely registered Ramne’s look of surprise before I raced forward, not even sure what I was going to do.

Ezekiel charged in and body-blocked Raven. Kelsier whipped out his bow and launched an arrow, catching the smith and dropping him to the ground with an ugly wound.

While he was growling and trying to rise, suddenly he crumbled to the ground, snoring gently.

By the time I recovered from my shock, I had reached the others. The two sons were still standing in the shop, staring in perplexity.

“I’m bandaging him,” I told them, approaching carefully. “Here are my hands. Here are my bandages. It’s going to be okay; I’m going to bandage him.”

So I patched up the blacksmith, and then we tried talking to his sons.

Their names are Ben and Josh. They seemed confused, and maybe scared.

“Father hasn’t been the same since…”

Since what? They didn’t say. Josh ran inside quickly, and Ben kept repeating, “Was that real?”

They had all been taken to the “snake thing”. Ben says his father has always had a temper, but he’s been acting…he’s always had a temper…was that real?

That kind of thing. It mostly just confirmed what we had already known.

When Ben went inside to take care of Josh, we bundled the blacksmith onto his smithy porch and dragged Raven behind the privacy of the corner of the building.

Lancell lay hands on Raven, and Raven recovered himself a bit. Still, that was quite a nasty crunch from that smithing hammer.

Apparently, Ramne “the old guy” figured out how to remove whatever charm is on these people, but he says they won’t necessarily be themselves again…or, “fixing” it won’t necessarily have the effect we hoped.

Plus, even he can’t fling magic around willy-nilly, and de-charming all the cultists (without them figuring out what we’re up to and escalating the confrontation) might not be an option.

Gotta remember, there are a lot of innocent folks who just live here, and aren’t involved at all (yet).

We have some more people to interview (like those two guys who live by the Mayor) and we have to take the findings of our experiment to the Mayor and query him for advice.

This Evil monkey-business (whatever we call it) is not going to be dismantled in one day.


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Dear Diary…Bar the gates!

Ezekiel still convinced Ao wants him to bar the gates. So we’ve reached a compromise.

Cirilli is not safe here (and she’s not keen to camp out in the place where she was caged, anyway). So Raven and Kelsier (who are both more likely to be able to climb the wall) will escort her to the Slumbering Serpent Inn. Kelsier is also our best fighter, and the most likely to fend for himself should Raven turn Evil (Monk of Merikka so-called!).

Olwin struck me as a decent guy — he didn’t “smell” like one of these wack-a-doodle cultists. So the girl should be safe with him until we can sort this business out.

The rest of us are going to make hay while the sun shines and sweep the cellars, since last time we were down there we were too busy killing lizard men. (Did I mention that part? Probably concussion or what-d’you-call-it…most of that day is fuzzy or blank.)

****

Investigated the rest of the temple. Nothing to report, except that the bodies of the Evil Cleric lady and our late companion Lefty are gone.

Got a feeling we’ll meet them again as skeletons, y’know what I mean?

Also found some “cells” or small chambers in the cellars that lent credence to Cirilli’s story. She said she and her family were held down there before visiting “Her.” Looks like we found the place.

Convinced there were no secret doors, we returned to the second floor and Abramo’s suite, since is was the most defensible spot in the temple.

Good thing, too. Just a bit ago, a huge party came to the front gate. At least ten people – including someone who looked like the blacksmith (who was one of the folks Olwin told me has “changed”).

Happily, they were disturbed by the gate being barred, and went off again.

Still no sign of Raven and Kelsier. Regretting sending off our best fighter now, but we’ll hope for the best.

****

We were resting in the upstairs room when Raven arrived – without Kelsier.

He didn’t seem worried about it (said Kelsier was perfectly able to take care of himself), but Ezekiel rousted all of us, and marched the party downstairs to look for him – while I stayed upstairs where I would have an advantage shooting my bow through the arrow slits.

It was getting dark by now. I saw my companions in the courtyard below because they carried torches.

Another crowd had gathered outside the gate. Ezekiel challenged.

Someone claiming to be Abramo challenged us and demanded that we give their temple back, in the name of Merikka.

Ezekiel asked, “Don’t you mean Explictica Defilas?”

Well, that ruffled some feathers. Over the wall, I could just see the crowd of people and mysterious dark shapes. If Kelsier was out there, his best bet was to stay low.

More shouting outside. From what I could see and hear, it seemed to be the mayor of the town – asking what all the fuss was about.

Ezekiel tried to explain – but when the temple’s priest (and the constable of the militia) were both part of the conspiracy, what hope would we have of convincing the mayor something is very wrong? Especially when he hadn’t brought any men with him, looked like.

At any rate, the mayor was talked down, and left Abramo to handle the “invaders.”

I wasn’t eager for such a battle, but it also made me realize this wouldn’t be solved as easily as we might think. We hadn’t found any artifact in the temple we could “turn off” and everybody would magically revert to normal…and if half the town is “changed” by this cult, we can’t just slaughter them all to clear the air, can we?

Well, while I was panicking and worrying, Raven climbed the wall to scope out the scene.

He remembered he was holding a torch when a crossbow bolt flew past his head — so he threw down his torch and went off to scan the perimeter and look for any sign of Kelsier.

The band outside seemed to have given up trying to knock the gates down. My party milled around some more, and rejoined me upstairs.

Raven held out an arrow. “I found Kelsier,” he said. “Or rather, I was investigating the north-west corner beyond the wall, and dodged this arrow. It’s like the ones that Kelsier uses.”

We all agreed that if Kelsier was shooting arrows, he must be unharmed, and in a position to take care of himself, so we settled down on the second floor to get what rest we could.

****

Ezekiel took first watch, guarding the door of the “creepy room” that was down the twisty hallway from Abramo’s private chamber.

Not sure how long we’d been sleeping, but I woke to voices. Ezekiel and Lancell were muttering in the far room.

Raven had heard them, too, so we lit a torch and Raven went to check that the secret room with the cage was still secure. (We had dragged the cage over to cover the trapdoor. Don’t want anyone sneaking up on us.)

I joined Ezekiel behind the door. He thought he had heard something in the next room (the torture chamber).

That’s when I heard someone bump something. (Ezekiel didn’t hear it, but I know I did!)

I told him to stand guard while I fetched the others. Something bad was going down!

While I was running through the twisty hallways, someone in the torture room yelped.

Ezekiel called out, “Kelsier! Why didn’t you say something?” and I heard the door crash open.

Ezie. Always assuming people are on our side, never imagining it’s an elaborate trap to murder us in the night.

I grabbed the other two and raced back to the doorway, bow in hand.

Ezekiel and Lancell both carried torches, and were trying to hit a shadowy figure who was attacking Kelsier (yes, the actual Kelsier).

I fanned out into the room as well, eyes open for a shot – and nailed that mysterious sucker right in the voonerables! (Yes! Finally landed an arrow in something!)

That’s when our lone invader turned and ran. I shouted for us to not let him escape, but I think Ezekiel had the same idea and flying-tackled him – full body slam – Pow!

The stranger had a stiletto sheathed at the nape of his neck, so it’s clear he’s one of these sneaky types. Probably Assassin – and therefore Evil.

But he was totally knocked down by Ezekiel – heh heh.

(Raven has taken the dagger.)

We trussed the stranger to the rack, cheered at having Kelsier back, and settled down for the rest of the night. The morning will bring plenty of new worries and decisions.

About the prisoner

We can’t trust him; so we can’t leave him unattended.

We can’t expect to bribe him; and even if we did bribe him to help us, we can’t expect him to not stab us in the back (see #1).

We can’t leave him unattended to escape, and there’s not a good place to stash him.

Can we get him to talk? Will he know about what’s going on? Would his testimony be any good if we could bludgeon him into talking?

Possible actions: 1) leave him tied up (waiting to escape and kill us)…2) take him with us (waiting to kill us)…3) kill him, after we went to the trouble of capturing him…4) take him to the mayor for justice (assuming we can get to the mayor, the mayor doesn’t lock us up, etc.)…5) take him to the Slumbering Serpent and let Olwin the Innkeeper – what? Bribe him with food?

It was largely my idea to capture the guy in the first place (dead men give no answers) but now we’re faced with no good choices of what to do with him.

The world is nasty sometimes. Just feel that, since it was my idea to capture him, I should say a piece in his defense before we “assassinate” him.

To Do

  • Question prisoner. Hopefully get something useful out of him.
  • Go behead the lizard people in the basement as evidence of Evilness for the mayor.
  • Take evidence to Slumbering Serpent and ask for Olwin’s help. This is his hometown; he knows these people. How can we get to the bottom of it and stop this Evil?!
  • (Remember the hermit Olwin sent us to before. Seemed suspicious of us – but then, we’re kind of weird characters. Might he be some help, also?)

Ha! Time for Lancell’s watch, now! I will get some more sleep, and stop scribbling.

Ezie thinks I’m a goof. But if we die tragically, I want the next adventurers to have a record of just where we went wrong…


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Dear Diary…We might be out of our depth…

After we killed the goblins, we worked to get our fallen comrades back on their feet.

Lancell is a Paladin, so he can “Lay On Hands” once a day. It helps a little bit.

Snooping around, I also found a secret stash of potions under the rack. Ezekiel decided they were healing potions and promptly quaffed one. When he didn’t turn green, or die on the spot, or start trying to eat us, Raven drank one, too.

Because of course you want healing potions under your rack to heal the people you’re torturing to death. Blah! What is wrong with some people?

Explored the rest of the second floor. Found the room where the goblins lived – it reeked of the beasties, and had sleeping mats and table and chairs too small for normal humans.

Who has been hosting goblins in the Temple of Merikka?! (Raven claims he doesn’t know.)

Opened the last door in the torture room, and spotted a small, stone room beyond – covered with scratches and weird scribbles. Felt just…off. Can’t even describe it. It wasn’t even a stench of goblins, it was just…a bad place.

Lancell and Ezekiel went first, since one is a Paladin, and one used to be a man-at-arms (he’s still got his old armor and mace). Mikael went next, the better to benefit from Lancell’s “Protection from Evil” aura. Raven was with him, and our bowmen took up the rear.

At the far end, the creepy room turned a corner. As we rounded that, a narrow hallway opened up.

When Lancell and Ezekiel neared the next bend of the corridor, our boots stopped making noise. A coin spun through the air, and hit the ground without so much as a tinkle.

“This is not good!” shouted Ezekiel, but none of us could answer him.

It was especially not good, because it hit me that this was the exact same trick the Evil priestess had pulled. You know, the one we had killed downstairs. Which meant things were about to get higher level…

Someone, or something, started attacking Lancell from around the corner. Hard to tell what it was with all my party members in the way – but he actually landed a hit on Lancell, which is impressive with Lancell’s armor and protection aura!

“Are you Abramo, Cleric of Merikka?” yelled Ezekiel.

Raven grabbed at Mikael’s sleeve and gestured to Kelsier and me to move back down the hall.

Not bad for a Monk.

Bows drawn, the archers backed up to the wall, while Raven and Mikael ducked back into the “creepy room”. Lancell and Ezekiel started backing toward us, blocking blows from a man in the robes of Merikka.

“Abramo! We are not Evil. We want to find out who is abusing the temple of Merikka,” Ezekiel shouted.

I wanted to tell Ezie to get a clue – this guy was attacking us. But no sound came out when I tried to talk.

“Raven! Talk some sense into him. Tell him we’re not enemies,” said Ezekiel.

Raven stuck his head around the corner, and shouted something to his old master…but Abramo (if that was his name) made no response, and landed an attack on Lancell.

Kelsier took aim and let fly an arrow right through our two companions, and struck gold. I love that little guy!

Our party had just about reached the wider room, where we could all attack the cleric, when suddenly he was gone.

“He’s retreating!” said Lancell (since we were far enough away from the silence spell to be able to talk).

We reformed our battle line, and headed forward again – before the evil cleric could recover himself or escape.

We crept down the passage, around another twist, and finally into what seemed to be private chambers. There was a sleeping pallet on one wall, some comfortable chairs, and a fancy-ish desk.

Oh, also some chests. All locked.

Our attacking priest had seemingly vanished.

While searching the desk, I found ugly scratches and symbols marked in the wood. Some papers on top were written over with mumblings and crazy talk.

I don’t know what it means…but it’s one more piece of the whole. The caretakers of the temple have gone off their rockers.

Ezekiel came over and found a lever that opened a door behind the desk.

We advanced into the room, only to find that the enemy cleric wasn’t there either.

There was a collection of huge, ugly stone statues – and against the far wall stood a cage and a jade statue. In the cage was a young woman.

We fanned out into the room. Kelsier tried opening one of the two chests that stood against the wall, while Ezekiel, Mikael, and Raven went to talk to the girl.

Lancell and I hung back, watching our exit and checking for where our vanishing cleric might be hiding.

Girl’s name is Cirilli. Says her family was kidnapped from the village some time ago, and smuggled north under cover of darkness to a cave system where “She” was. (Gestured at the jade statue.)

This statue is like an enormous snake with a woman’s face. Apparently it’s the “goddess” Explictica Defilas (spel.?)…Makes my hair stand up just to think of it.

Cirilli says when her family saw “Her”, they were changed – but Cirilli wasn’t…so Abramo brought her back here and locked her up. She also told us that he had just come through here and gone through the secret trapdoor behind the statue.

We finally opened the cage and gave her some of our bread, but it took Kelsier to find the mechanism for opening the trap door.

That’s when Ezekiel started in on his “vision from Ao” again.

“When you see the face of the snake, bar the gate! We have to bar the gate now!” he told us.

He’s a Good guy and all, but I really don’t know where this is heading.

He and Lancell have run down through the trapdoor to lock the temple gates. I just don’t know what’s going on.

Gonna have a party huddle in the corner while the girl eats so we can make our battle plan. Frankly, if we have to fight that Cleric again – and if he brings friends next time! – I don’t know how we’ll survive…


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