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Dear Diary….because everything happens to us

It wasn’t over when the last salamander hit the floor.

While Wonillon ran back to help Raven tie up the evil priest (Raven smacked him around a bit to make him more pliable) and Ezekiel helped finish off the second werewolf, Lydia kind of sat down on the floor next to the fire-pit.

Mikael ran over to Ezekiel and said something in his ear, and then Ezekiel told me to grab any valuables from the bugbears as quick as possible because we had to get Lydia some help. After all, she’d been mauled pretty badly by the werewolf, and Mikael though a Druid of the Twelfth Circle or something like that could cure her if we got there super fast.

Lydia seemed really shaken up, and was crying a little, and looking at her silver dagger…but Mikael told her if we were quick we could maybe fix things.

I was still trying to decide if all my organs were in the right places, and wasn’t sure that we should spend time to search all the charred bodies if Lydia was really in danger of trying to eat us…but, well, Ezekiel was kind of insistent that we might need the money for a cure.

(Lydia suggested we might need the money for a Raise Dead, but we shushed her.)

(Mikael pointed out that he has lots of money, and helping his friend would surely be a worthy cause to spend it on – so we would have been fine either way. Anyway, I collected a bunch of money and jewelry from the humanoids we Lydia killed, and we confiscated the priest’s armor and weapons (two hammers, a scroll in a case, and a magic shield and chainmail).

Ezekiel went and got Heiron and the rescued prisoners (they were locked into one of the little rooms…I’m so proud).

We put Wonillon in charge of the priest-prisoner, and he asked him what his precautions against lycanthropy were. I think he and Ezekiel were a little rough, but sounds like the priest didn’t really think that possibility through. They did get him to tell them a bit more about the structure of the Temple – the bugbears in black were “delegates” from the “Greater Temple,” here to see if the Fire Temple was up to snuff, and worthy of more resources. Also more blather about how “those below are different” and only the wimpiest of the “Greater Temple” were working up on the elemental level.

The rescued prisoners – the four elves were all traveling to Greyhawk from Celene, but got jumped on the road and held by the Water Temple – that is, until this Fire Priest (Alrun) took over. The lady elf who spoke for them thought he wanted to sacrifice them to summon an efrete (Ezekiel seemed to know what that was).

Of the human prisoners, two were merchants from the Nulb area (Nulb may be grungy, but they seem to suffer the brunt of the kidnappings from the Temple).

The third one, according to Cleric Alrun, is a disobedient servant of the Fire Temple. I would believe it – Evil does tend to eat itself – but he won’t give an answer for himself.

The elves grabbed some weapons on our way out of the Temple, and took off once we got them outside the walls. We got the merchants to Nulb, where they could make it home safely, and then most of us crossed the bridge and waited…

Lydia and Mikael went to Mother Screng’s – since I remembered that she was a skilled type of person, and we thought she might perhaps know of a werewolf cure.

Lydia has the boots of speed, so can escape most problems as long as they don’t cut her off from the bridge, and Mikael can change into animals!! So they should be able to help each other out of trouble…

**

From the campsite north of Nulb…

When Lydia and Mikael showed up again, she was practically beaming. Apparently Mother Screng thought Keotum’s Ointment might heal lycanthropy – and it certainly healed the rest of Lydia’s claw wounds.

She says MS used some kind of Detect Evil or something, and is pretty confident that the ointment worked…and threw in a couple jars of it, just for good measure.

And sounds like she didn’t even charge them or anything!

I guess we’ll know for sure in a few days.

Blindfolded the priest and tied him to a tree.

****

I’m not used to Ezekiel being a real cleric. Between him and Mikael, we’re all fighting fit again (well, except for Cleric Alrun – although Mikael did give him a dose of healing so he wouldn’t tip over on the journey).

Turned him in to the tower by evening. I hope they keep a better eye on him now, and he doesn’t get assassinated, too! In fact, I hope they stick that assassin full of sharp things.

The third human we rescued headed down to the worker’s camp to try for a job…maybe a change of scene will put him on a better path.

****

Heiron is really getting the hang of all this. We gave him the magic shield from Cleric Alrun, and now even I’m having trouble hitting him. (I also gave him the magic broadsword we got somewhere a while back, so he’ll have a magic weapon just in case.)

As for Alrun’s magic chainmail, we decided to see if the shopkeeper still had the dwarvish chainmail we sold him a while back, and swap it out so Wonillon could get an upgrade. Ezekiel made him give us 1000 gold, as well, and he went for it…which really makes me suspicious. I don’t trust that guy.

Ezekiel says he recognized Alrun’s gear, too – so he warned Master Ostler and our other friends to keep an eye on him. He hopes that the shopkeeper will lead them to more cultists…

Also, not sure they’d want me writing about this, but I overheard Raven asking Ez about Ao – the “God of gods.” Raven was asking if Ao was “of gods” the way Merikka is “of agriculture”…like it’s His domain, or area of responsibility.

It – makes sense. Ranger apprentices have to listen to their master. Paladins have Grand-Masters and stuff. Grand-Masters and Lords all listen to their deity. Even dukes and kings have to listen to the gods.

I…guess if Ezekiel is right, then gods have a boss, too. Makes sense. Someone has to keep order among them all.

But – does He have a boss? Is there Somebody way, way up there who only answers to Himself?

Sounds a little too theoretical for me.

**

We leave tomorrow morning again.

Ez went to talk to a new High Cleric at the tower (this one serves Rao) and says they’ve gotten a little more information from the captive priest.

The “Greater Temple” is TWO LEVELS below the one with all the elementals, and will probably have giants and etins and demons and stuff. I’m excited to try my hand at some of those.

He also said “Someone” important was “possibly interested” in buying our filter of love…but Ezekiel laughed and got all possessive and said there “must be a reason” it didn’t break along with all the other potions he had.

I think it’s a great chance to give it to someone who might get some use out of it, but possession is 9/10s of the law. (Though I guess if he’s not actually going to use it he doesn’t need to carry it into the dungeon…sort of like these harpy feathers I still have!?)

****

When we reached the Fire Temple, the sulphur-brazier in the cleric’s bedroom was no longer burning (Ezekiel seemed relieved). The torches in the “sanctuary” were all burnt out…although the two copper cauldrons were still glowing, and the fire pits still had coals glowing.

Ezekiel checked out the cauldrons, and they seem to have glowing incense oil of some kind…he had Mikael’s Protection from Fire spell on, so he couldn’t tell if it was dangerous or not.

He dumped an entire water skin of holy water into the fire pit in front of the altar. That put out the coals, but there wasn’t any smoke! Lydia said it was magic fire, and I figured it wasn’t much of a fire if it can’t behave like it ought to.

The really interesting part happened when Ezekiel checked the altar for secret compartments. He didn’t find any, so he decided to whack one of the gold skulls on it…and that’s when the altar shot out fire while the skull bellowed:

“Who dares defile the sacred element of fire?”

We figured out the central skull was magical – probably a magic mouth spell of some kind. Every time he touched the altar, it bellowed at him:

“Who dares defile the sacred element of fire?”

Since he was Protected from Fire, he could just keep hitting it. I suppose it’s supposed to summon the guards if anyone tries to steal the gold, but since we killed all the guards already, no one showed up.

Wonillon and Mikael decided they just had to have those gold skulls, so Wonillon took his ring of fire resistance and pried them off – six in all.

We decided that every other temple had a treasure stash somewhere…so we dug in the ashes of the fire pit.

We found an iron box that Raven said was trapped, and after he opened it he showed us the scythe blade that was designed to chop off the hand of anyone who didn’t open it properly.

Treasure list:

Two potions (Raven thinks they’re for polymorphing)

Magic ring

The armor and weapons of those important-looking guys we killed, including two magic swords–

When Ezekiel looked at the swords, the first one looked like the commander’s sword that lit on fire — but we don’t care about that I guess. (Ez says it’s dedicated to the goddess of volcanoes and bickering or something.)

The second sword is named Tresarion and he says he’s really good at killing Evil fire things and he can do all kinds of cool things if I will carry him around like detect magic and detect evil and detect shifting walls or something but he also understands that we don’t want to waste his talents on small fry, like bugbears and such.

He even speaks in Lawful Good! which I just realized might mean he’s an assassin sword, but I don’t think he’d want me asking him…

I think Mikael is a bit jealous that he’s not made of bronze…Tresarion, that is…though would he be as good at killing fire things if he was bronze?

Raven tried opening the double doors to the magic corridor, but they slammed themselves shut. So we’re leaving them alone for now and heading to the Air Temple as soon as they can shove all these gold skulls in the bag of holding. (They don’t shout at us anymore. We broke it.)

****

Bad news! Raven disappeared!

In the Air Temple… We didn’t see anything unusual…Corby checked out the shaft above the pit, and saw nothing.

Raven went down on a rope into the pit (behind the altar) to look for treasure, and just vanished. No struggle. No tension on the rope. So I guess he’s not just invisible again, because he would have said something.

Gonna look for the cells the elves told us about. If we tried to get teleported after him, there’s no guarantee we’d get sent to the same place. So we have to trust him to take care of himself, and hope we run into him.

**

Found the back of the magic mirror.

Back in the room where Ez and Mikaela and Raven saw the shiny figures, Lydia’s weasel smelled werewolves. So we got our magic weapons out, and he helped us find the secret door that led behind the mirror.

Whole bedroom back there — for hairy slobs who sleep in heaps on the floor. Heaps and heaps of silver weapons, silver holy symbols, arrows, daggers, you name it. Even a scroll of protection from lycanthropy and bottle of wolfsbane.

Lydia said probably from all the parties they’ve fooled with their act…I said that seems a lot, that or good is way dumber than I thought.

Figured put what mirror does — Ezekiel stood behind it while some of us were still in the other room, and he looked wreathed in flame with horns and fangs and everything! Gotta keep an eye on him…

Dear Diary…why you make friends with spellcasters

After successfully dragging Ezekiel out of the Temple, we decided we might as well take the treasure from the Water “Sanctuary” back to town.

Sir Rufus bought the ogre-sized bone armor just because it’s something you don’t see everyday, and Master Bern said he might have a use for the hydra heart.

I didn’t ask about what it might be.

Turns out it’s just as well we came back, because Raven disappeared to the tower for a few days to ask some questions of the monk master there. He says he’s been experimenting with his moves, and wanted guidance from someone more experienced.

Heiron and I drilled in the backyard (he’s getting really good at these things) and bought new arrows.

****

When we returned to the Temple, we took the red stairs down to the sloping passage…the one by the hydra and owlbear.

When we got there, the huge bronze sheet that blocks the magical corridor between temples was still winched up, just like Ezekiel and Wonillon left it. Also, the skeleton and other remains of the hydra were still lying as we’d left them.

This might have made us think the Temple was empty…but of course we’d be very wrong about that.

We followed the corridor past the hydra down, around, and back north — until we spotted a cold fireplace up ahead. Halfway along, we heard the big gong in the temple sound through the wall, which told us the place was occupied…but we just thought at the time it was an alert about us.

A haunch of moldy meat sat on the table — a table larger than humans would be comfortable with — and I can only assume this is where the bugbears we killed used to live.

Keeping as quiet as possible, and checking all the doors for traps, we went through a door to the south into a little airlock room (table, chair, desk, bed, and chest with clothes and money in it. The chest also had a bottle of what we think is poison, and Raven was going to smash it when Wonillon said he might find it useful. Have to keep an eye on him).

The next door opened into a large room — rugs and tapestries and other bright decorations, bright colors and shades of red.

Also pictures of lewd demons…reminder: burn tapestries if we get the chance.

Two other bedrooms opened off of this main room…and while Ezekiel, Raven, and Wonillon ransacked the place and filled the bag of holding with money, red ceremonial robes, rare herbs, and jewelry, Heiron and I stood watch.

(They also found a scroll for protection from devils, and a book about the plane of elemental fire. We’ll see if they come in handy.)

While we waited for the others, the gong sounded a couple more times…but even though Heiron and I stared at the door, nothing attacked us. Yet.

The bodies of the two humans and the half-orc we killed last time we were here were laid out in state in front of the fireplace in the big room. I was really concerned they were preparing to be ghouls or something, so Ezekiel touched them with his mace to “make me feel better.”

It’s not my feelings that need attention. Raven went so far as to raid the corpses’ pockets — something their comrades didn’t stoop to. They each wore a crimson robe with gold skulls embroidered on it, and a ring, and an amulet. That plus some coins…that’s what we got for disturbing the dead.

With all that done, we suited up for action. Raven gave me his Ring of Free Action (because he was carrying too many magic items). Wonillon, of course, had the ring of fire protection, and Mikael cast a similar kind of spell on Ezekiel. Ezekiel got all excited and important and chanted something over me about Endure Heat.

The next room was also pretty large, with cushions all over the floor and two doors visible. We noticed another, secret door behind a tapestry.

As we entered, the gong sounded twice in a row — and from the sound, we were pretty sure the Fire “Sanctuary” was just beyond the southern door.

Ezekiel threw the door open, and found himself staring at a tapestry.

He shoved the tapestry aside to enter the room, and it was like my birthday came early for the next few years.

There were bugbears as far as the eye could see (picking through the remains and talking it over, we figure there were probably twenty-five).

Heiron and I nailed two before I even noticed the ogre, and the hairy-wolfman-things at the far end of the room, and the priest from before, standing in front of the altar and fire pit…with a whole bunch of prisoners.

We charged in. Raven flicked the No Ordinary Rope-of-entangling, and snared some bugbears. Mikael cast faery fire. I shot another bugbear through the throat. And then…

Lydia threw something over our heads (Raven says it was mostly over my head) and the whole room exploded in fire.

When the flames cleared enough for us to see, one lone bugbear stood in the midst of smoldering carnage.

The fire didn’t quite reach to the end of the room. There were the hairy-wolfman-things (Lydia tells me the term is “werewolf”), and three pale ghouls that had been hidden behind a pillar.

Raven (now that his rope was holding nothing but cinders) ran forward and wrapped up the priest and one werewolf.

As the rest of us ran forward to engage…tongues of flame appeared over the coals in the fire pit. (The priest was hollering indignantly, since he couldn’t do anything else to us.)

Whatever you might say about Lydia, you have to admit she has guts. She charged the free werewolf with her silver dagger (even though hand-to-hand isn’t her thing) and stabbed it — despite getting mauled back.

I landed a hit that really should have taken off its head, you’d think, but it didn’t seem to even notice. That was disconcerting, but I decided there was enough going on I had to trust Lydia to take care of herself.

As I ran to get myself between the prisoners and the pit, two ghouls streaked past me, whimpering. (I think Ezekiel yelled something like, “And don’t forget it!”)

Mikael also ran down, and I caught a glimpse of him pulling Lydia out of harm’s way.

My sword did better against the werewolf – at least the one that was tied up.

Heiron called the prisoners to join him in the living quarters (he’s really making me proud) and Mikael told Cuddles and Corby to go help him protect them.

Just in time, too…the salamanders were just climbing out of the pit.

While Mikael, Lydia, and Simba battled the werewolf with a stinking cloud, Raven fired his spark shower from his ring–

A whole crowd of the salamanders disappeared…leaving only four, who still weren’t quite big enough to crawl out of the pit.

We didn’t have long to wait. No sooner had Wonillon finished off the werewolf that was tied up, one of the snaky things leaped clear and flung itself at Raven.

It threw its tail around him and stabbed him with its spear, making him cry, “Hot hot hot!”

I slashed it while it was occupied, and then Ezekiel joined — so that we were evenly matched, four to four.

This is Ezekiel we mean, of course, so he immediately got wrapped up in the snaky folds of a salamander’s tail. (He says that means that it couldn’t get away.)

I remember the smell: their very bodies smell like heat or fire or a really scorching day…and, of course, my friends’ clothes slowly scorching. The beasties couldn’t snare me because of my new magic ring, but they could still lash me with their burning-hot tails just the same.

We heard growls and barks and snarls from where the werewolf was fighting Mikael and Simba, but of course we couldn’t risk a moment to look their way.

Raven took so many hits with the spear that he gave a wailing cry and collapsed. That made the salamander let go of him, of course, but it was still a bad sign.

Mikael appeared at our sides, muttered a spell that made a salamander’s spear frost over.

The priest was still swearing at us — but he started a whole new list of exclamations when Raven popped back to his feet and dragged him back from the battle.

I was so busy fighting that I couldn’t really keep track of how many times I’d been stabbed. I know Ezekiel was bleeding from everywhere, and weaving on his feet.

I killed one of the salamanders, but my eyes were crossing from blood loss. Next thing I knew, Mikael had his hand on Ezekiel, who had his hand on me, and both of us had wounds closing before our eyes.

And then the salamanders stabbed us again.

Lydia somehow ran all the way around behind the salamanders (she is wearing the boots of speed, I guess) and dumped a waterskin over one of them. Even if it didn’t hurt it, the water did make it angry enough to leave Wonillon alone for a moment.

It’s a funny feeling…having your guts ripped out, and then magically sucked back into place, and then stabbed back out, and then spooled back into place. I’m still not totally convinced Ex and Mikael have all my organs where they were originally…but they got enough blood into my system that my slashing arm still worked.

We ganged up on the remaining salamanders. Wonillon got the final dagger-blow on one of them, and Mikael “poked” the final one into a crumbled, twitching heap on the floor.

Then we could learn that Raven had bludgeoned the priest into a daze, and roped the surviving werewolf with Simba’s help.

With the excitement over, we could tie up the priest properly, finish off the werewolf, and make sure the rescued prisoners were safe.

My innards feel knit together enough to let my body function, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve had enough excitement for today.

And that is why you always bring spell-casters.

How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City

How will you survive the coming apocalypse?

Lots of people are worried about political disruption or violent riots. But I think we’re heading for something much worse.

If the infrastructure of our civilization breaks down, what will you do?

What with economic turmoil, civil unrest, and contagious diseases, everyone needs to have a plan in place…but especially if you live in a city!

Your best bet is to get out…as soon as possible, perhaps even now! But to do that you need a plan and know what to prepare.

If “bugging out” isn’t on option for your family, fortifying in place is your next best bet.

By educating yourself, you can make the best choice to protect yourself and the ones you love.

Remember: your relationship with God is of more lasting importance than your survival. And nothing (not even a nuke-proof bunker and twelve-years-worth of canned beans) can guarantee continued life.

How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia Wood

Image credit: christinprophecy.org

But you can still be smart about this! Go ahead and make responsible plans…just be realistic about your end goal.

Prepare

How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia Wood

Image credit: Pixabay

That’s what you’re doing now, by the way. Reading posts and books is the first step to knowing your options and making an educated choice.

Assuming you’re not reading this while the rabid mob pounds on your door, you also have time to gather your resources.

Some of those resources should be hard copies of the information you find. If a blog post or article is especially helpful, save it to your device or print it and put the paper where you can find it! The last thing you want is to be counting on a good internet connection while fleeing for your lives.

If the apocalypse happens and chaos erupts, getting out of the city is your best option.

If you have time to move to a rural property, do it. The more open space you have between you and possible rioters and looters, the better.

Finding skills you can learn to provide for yourself will also help you survive in the long-term. Do you know anything about farming? Can you hunt? Maybe get some chickens and goats to provide continuous food.

Remember: canned goods don’t procreate.

If setting up your own personal frontier-homestead is just impossible, at least have a plan for emergency evacuation.

Do you have family, friends, church or school buddies that live out in the country? Make arrangements to stay with them if things hit the fan.

Even if you can’t completely move in with them, have a place where your family can sleep with a roof over their heads…where no one’s going to burn down the house in the night.

If you have elderly neighbors or relatives who live nearby, make plans to take them with you. Just like it’s smart to drill your kids on how to escape the house if there’s a fire, have a drill in place for how you will get out of the city if things get serious. Maybe have it on a printed sheet so everyone can know what’s going on (along with maps you might need).

Many “preppers” recommend packing a “bug-out bag,” which is an emergency pack you can grab on your way out the door if you need to evacuate. (See more later.)

The hard part will be judging when is the right time to leave. When your mayor de-funds the police? When a riot is announced for your neighborhood? When you see the angry mob blocking your neighbor’s driveway and throwing molotov cocktails?

That’s a choice only you can make…but hopefully, with enough thought ahead of time and the right resources, you will be confident to make the decision that’s best for your family.

Finally, sometimes you have no option but to “shelter in place.”

There are resources for you to do that, too. Depending on where you live, this could work out really well.

For instance, if you have good relationships with all your neighbors, and all of you are committed to protecting and supporting each other, you could make arrangements to share out the duties of a self-sufficient community and provide for each other’s needs when crunch time comes.

Now let’s look at all these options in more detail:

Get Out

How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia WoodIn a total breakdown of the social order, lots of things will stop working.

People will stop trusting money. Stores will get tired of stuff being stolen, and stop stocking the shelves. Hungry people will do things they were always too afraid to do before…especially when the police aren’t arresting anyone for it.

All of this won’t affect you as much if you’re away from people!

When the rioters are looking for stuff to steal, they’ll go where it’s convenient. Whether they’re walking, or bring U-Hauls to load, the city has more targets (and Targets) close together. They get more bang for their club, if you like.

If you’re a long walk from anyone else, you’re much more inconvenient to steal from.

If you have time to prepare…

You can set up your own self-sufficient farm!

People don’t survive without food. How will you get it without the mega-industrial farms shipping products to the grocery stores? (Just read my post about 10 things I’ll miss after the apocalypse!)

Where you live (or move to) will determine what grows best and what resources are available to get you set up.

How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia Wood

This is the shoe-shelf I made all by myself! #NailedIt I am totes qualified to do all our woodworking now.

But you can decide what you’re good at…and what you want to become good at!

Now is the time. Get books. Take classes. Dig that garden, plant those heirloom seeds (so they’ll keep coming back year after year!), and decide what skills you want to have when you can’t just order anything on Amazon!

What if you don’t have that time?

Your mayor has deleted your city’s police and the resident angries are drooling over your iPhone.

If you’re looking at days or weeks before these laws go into effect (not months or years), you need a safe place for your kids and loved ones now.

This is where having friends comes in. Chances are you know someone who lives on a farm, or owns a cabin in the woods or something. You might even have a vacation home that’s in a less densely populated area (or even a “quieter” area)!

They might not be excited to have you just move in to their guest room…but lots of things are bearable if there’s an end-goal in mind.

Make those connections, build those relationships, and have a plan in place in case you need to get out right now.

I mentioned a bug-out bag earlier. Some common suggested items are:

  • First aid kit
  • A change of clothes (for everyone, if you have dependents you’re taking care of)
  • Warm clothing, if you live in cold climates…you can’t depend on building or car climate control in a tense situation
  • Energy bars (again, if you have to jump in the car and drive to your safe house before dinner, you need to be prepared)
  • Diapers and other kid-care items
  • Compass, paper maps
  • Candles, lighters, flashlights with spare batteries
  • Water

If you’ve ever been camping out in the wilderness, think about what you would absolutely need for a back-packing trip. These are short-term supplies to get you to your “safe house.”

Once there, of course, you need to be making other plans. Are you spending the next five years in your mother-in-law’s cabin basement? Or is this just a stepping stone to something more sustainable?

Shelter in Place

How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia Wood

I don’t have a good pic for this, so enjoy Gordan Freeman! Image credit: fanpop.com

If, for whatever reason, you just can’t get to a safe place outside the city, you should be making a plan to survive where you are.

Many preppers encourage you to have so-many canned goods in your basement (three months, six months, whatever). This is great…if you’re sitting out an earthquake, flood, or pandemic.

We’ll ignore the question of whether you packed enough food for all your neighbors as well, and whether you’ll share your precious reserves with everyone who asks you…or start shooting them to keep the canned beans for your own kids.

Quite aside from that is the question: what happens in the spring? You survived the riots, you survived the winter-with-no-grocery-stores…what next?

Will you plant a garden in your backyard? Raid your neighbor’s house to see if he left any canned goods after he died?

If you decide to “shelter in place” – make sure it’s a good place.

If your climate is mild, and your neighbors are friendly, you’ve already dodged two of the bullets that take out apocalypse sufferers: exposure and violence.

But even if you live in a sweet little town where everybody knows everyone else and would never hurt a fly, you have to consider:

  • Where will your food come from?
  • What medical conditions do you have that might need care?
  • What diseases in your area would be highly dangerous without modern medical science?
  • What parts of your modern lifestyle (plumbing, cookies, computers) do you like best…and what would you have to do it produce them for yourself?
  • What wild animals in the area would you need to keep out of your stuff (and away from your children)?! For instance, Chicago (the city) has 250 coyotes roaming the streets as part of their rat-control program. Speaking of rats, these vicious little critters are the reason The Pied Piper is a thing…
  • Good gravy, I didn’t even mention clean water! Sanitation has been a huge problem throughout history…how will you keep your waste away from your drinking water, and get enough clean water to drink – all without electricity or indoor plumbing?!

Fore-warned is fore-armed.

Make a list now of anything you know of in your area that might threaten your survival. Once you have it in front of you, you can make a plan to deal with it.

Which is another way of saying:

Fortify

How do you survive an apocalypse? By focusing on what is sustainable.How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia Wood

Are you in a good place? Do you have people around that you can depend on? Is there plenty of room to grow your own food and raise your own animals…possibly in cooperation with your neighbors?

Then plant yourself like a tree.

Research the weapons laws in your area, and take classes on self-defense. If the police won’t answer when someone attacks your home, it’s a comfort to know you can protect yourself…

And that your neighbors have your back.

Vigilante patrols have not turned out well in the past, so I don’t think it’s time for that. But what if rioters announce they’re coming to burn your neighborhood, and you all block the in-coming roads with cars?

I’m sure that violates all kinds of traffic laws, so I can’t recommend it. God tells us to “honor the governor” and “those in authority,” after all.

But I am brainstorming what it might look like if the people who live near you have your back…and likewise know that they can depend on you.

Say if you keep chickens, and your next-door neighbor grows melons…it could be an excellent opportunity to take care of each other.

The crucial thing to remember is: don’t depend on AMERICA* to take care of you [*insert your country, city, or organization here].

The only actions you can control are your own. The only people you can depend on are the people around you.

And they depend on you. So study all you can, pray, think, and make the choice that will best protect you and the people you love.

Survival Is Over-rated

Odd thing to say in this kind of post, eh?

But there’s another side to this whole apocalypse thing.

I may be a prepping homesteader who sees the collapse of civilization looming closer every day…but NOTHING (not gold in my mattress, nor solar panels on my roof) will GUARANTEE the preservation of my lifestyle.

God is the one Who holds my life… Any number of things could throw a monkey wrench in my plans: like martial law, a tornado, or even scarlet fever!

That’s why I say, “Survival isn’t everything”:

Because there are more important things than the preservation of my lifestyle.

Say, for instance, to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.”

And even if I stuff 100 years’ worth of canned vegetables in my bedroom and manage to survive all the bloodshed and starvation and disease that is coming on Western society…I will one day face my Maker, and He will ask me a very simple question:

“What did you do with My Son, Jesus?”

He will ask you the same thing when you face Him. Every single person on this planet will one day be judged for everything they’ve done…but most of all for their response to Jesus.

I believe the cities that are burning in America and the people getting murdered are the prelude to the judgement of God (a nation can’t hum along merrily slaughtering its babies as we have done without facing consequences).

But I also believe that anything that happens here is nothing compared to an eternity of punishment, separated from God.

How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia Wood

And let me never forget that, with all the thousands that will die in a civil war, and the millions more that will waste away in starvation and disease, Jesus the Anointed God-Man bled and died for every last one of them.

I don’t know who will win the election. And part of me doesn’t care. God never gets out of office. He’s King-of-the-Universe-for-Ever-for-Life.

So while you pack your bags, and plant your garden, and learn how to sew clothes or make medicine or whatever…don’t forget the poor souls who stayed behind.

Keep reminding them that Jesus loves them, which is why we love them, and that He wants them to survive the much worse judgement at the end of the world…they just have to trust Him and believe in Him. That’s it.

Thing is, the end of their world might be when a protester drives over them…or when two groups of rioters get in a firefight.

Or when the local pharmacy won’t stock insulin because people steal it too fast, and their diabetes kills them.

Let’s get to them, first!


How to Survive the Apocalypse in a City - Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, 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, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures (as long as that’s a thing!). You’ll also get a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier.

Dear Diary…our greatest nemesis

When Ezekiel and Wonillon finally got back to us, they said they’d had a scuffle with some bugbears. They claim that Ezekiel took two of them out with a single whack each, while Wonillon lay on the floor bleeding, and then Ezekiel chanted a healing spell over Wonillon that seemed to actually work!

Gonna have to keep an eye on Ezekiel. Maybe we didn’t pick out all the shards of potion bottles that the giant spherical rolling pin crushed into him.

We discussed our strategy for facing the Fire Temple, while satisfying ourselves about the secret doors we found in the Air Temple. The one to the south-west leads to a stair down (possibly it goes to the safe retreat Cleric Kelno was trying to reach when we killed him?). The hidden door to the south-east opens onto an empty room, maybe ten by ten.

Is it a place to retreat, while the owners of the temple work on their strategy? A place to keep prisoners temporarily? Perhaps it’s where the air creature that we fought the first time was staying?

At any rate, there was nothing for us there, so we left through the east double doors.

Directly across the hall from those doors, another corridor slants south to the Fire Temple.

Our strategy mostly involved Ezekiel holding the attention of whatever we encountered, while the rest of us tried to kill it. We gave Wonillon the ring from the fire-resistant troll, and Mikael cast “Protection from Fire” on Ezekiel (also making sure he was as healed as we could get him).

Then Ezekiel pushed open the double bronze doors…and we saw that this was, indeed, the Fire “Sanctuary.”

The huge room blazed with light – from flambeaux on the walls, and flecks of something glowing in the red granite walls, and even motes of something red floating in the air.

Ezekiel checked behind the tapestries that hung at our backs on either side of the entrance – but he must not have looked very thoroughly. The tapestries weren’t covered with ugly creatures torturing people, for a change…just images of fire. But there’s something not right about the fire…something Evil.

Several yards into the room, a huge brass tube hung vertically by chains from the ceiling. The ceiling soared above us, so the tube must have been twenty feet if it was a foot – and so wide in diameter that Raven said he could shove me up there no problem. I think he would have run into difficulties with that…

I stayed at the threshold, hugging the wall, while Ezekiel and Wonillon tip-toed forward into the room.

Two stands near the tube held rows and rows of little charcoal bricks, and in front of it was a fire pit in the floor, full of glowing coals.

Beyond the tube, about the same distance from us to it, two cauldrons stood on either side – with a table of some kind in front of each of them.

At the far end of the room, something glowed golden. I never really got close enough to see it, but Ezekiel says there’s a golden altar, with a sizable pit in the floor filled with tongues of fire.

Mikael told us that the brass tube, the altar, and the cauldrons were all magical in some way…although the whole room “radiated” magic energy. (Probably the floating light specks or something.)

Ezekiel made complicated signals to us, and then Mikael came over to explain that he was going to pick something to mess with, and see if it called out the “elemental guardians.”

Heiron and I got our bows ready (as we always are). Ezekiel wound up, and slammed his mace into the brass tube.

It gave a booming “gong” that reverberated in the air…and we all agreed it was ironic that Ezekiel chose to hit something that was apparently meant to be hit.

In one of my routine checks of the hallway, I spotted two ogres lumbering toward us. I shot one through the throat before the second one could finish saying, “There him is!” (I’ll probably never find out what they mean by that, if I keep killing them on sight, but that’s the way it goes.)

Heiron and I finished off the other one, and turned our attention back to the main room…in time to see a crowd burst from a door behind the eastern tapestry.

Ezekiel was standing on the far side of the tube-gong from us, waiting for it to do something. Mikael was standing near him (those “cleric types” sticking together), and they both stood and stared while Heiron and I loosed our prepared arrows.

I took out a half-orc wearing some kind of cleric dress, and Heiron felled a man carrying all kinds of weapons, who looked kind of important.

With those two dead, there was a human commander of some kind, and a group of bugbears. Our melee fighters charged, Lydia tossed her smelly egg, and I shot the head off a bugbear in the front line.

And that’s where the cakewalk ended.

Heiron and I were both digging out fresh quivers of arrows when the commander stepped out of the stinking cloud (Ezekiel says he wasn’t even gagging or anything!) and flicked a rope like a lasso.

This was no ordinary rope! I couldn’t even track its movement, as it looped itself around Heiron, Corby, Lydia, me, Cuddles, and Mikael – and pulled tight.

Holding the rope taught with one hand, the commander flourished his sword – and flames licked up the blade.

Talk about an entrance. (And what kind of rope is this, anyway? What won’t they think of next?!)

Raven was still free. He palm-smacked a bugbear in the face so hard that it stood staring and shaking its head stupidly.

Ezekiel charged around from behind the gong and swung at the commander, who swung back with his flaming sword.

While they kept each other busy, Mikael called to Raven to come cut the rope. But I mentioned how this was no ordinary rope…He sawed at it with a dagger, but it didn’t even seem to fray it.

Seeing that was no good – and that not all of the bugbears were choking on the stinking cloud, Raven took his magic ring of stars and lit up the commander with faery fire (assuming it might possibly help Ezekiel maybe), and then shot sparks at the bugbears.

Raven and Wonillon were getting pummeled by the bugbears as they tried to cut the rope — when Ezekiel whipped out a scroll, read something off of it, and then fire erupted a few feet in front of him – scorching the commander and frying one of the bugbears.

Mikael suddenly shrank to the size of a frog – in fact he was a frog, and hopped out of the loop of rope.

This was no ordinary rope, though, as the pressure on our arms was no less. We couldn’t get our hands in our pockets or to our weapons…Lydia couldn’t even gesture to cast any spells.

A new man stepped out from behind the tapestry, wearing cleric robes, and waved his hands at us. Suddenly, the clangs and grunts of battle disappeared as silence blanketed the room.

Raven stepped back from the bugbear he was dealing with to gulp a healing potion. Ezekiel was apparently so frustrated that he hit the floor, instead of the commander. The commander wasn’t landing a blow, either, and tried to swear at him or something…but of course we couldn’t hear him.

Ezekiel said, “You can’t talk in a silence spell, you know.”

The new priest guy ran behind the bugbears and down to the end of the room, and started chanting in front of the altar.

Mikael suddenly grew back into his own shape, and cracked a bugbear over the head with his staff.

Raven was doing a good job of keeping the bugbears focused on him, instead of the ones who couldn’t use their arms…but about this time, something made him change his mind, and he quaffed a potion and suddenly disappeared.

While Mikael and Ezekiel killed bugbears (which is like the single thing I am best at) I looked around for what Raven had seen, and noticed – the snake-things.

They were like a cross between a snake and a lizard, and glowing like fire. They swarmed out of the fire pit in front of the altar, and although I couldn’t see them very well at that distance, I figured I didn’t want to meet them.

Something tugged at the rope – and although it didn’t fray or loosen, it did finally give me an idea.

Mikael had chewed through the bugbears, and was attacking the commander from behind. The priest was shouting something (that we couldn’t hear) and jabbing his finger at Ezekiel…but of course, if he was trying to cast a spell on Ezekiel, that wouldn’t work, either.

Wonillon stabbed a bugbear in the ribs, but it seemed like too little, too late. Ezekiel was bleeding from several places, and weaving slightly on his feet. And those fire-lizard-things were getting closer and closer.

I couldn’t say anything that would be heard, so I kicked Lydia’s ankle and lunged for the door. The rope wasn’t wrapping my legs, after all.

Lydia and Heiron quickly got the idea and surged after me. As Heiron shoved against the floor, the rope jerked out of the commander’s hand…and the loops digging into our arms abruptly went slack.

We staggered backward through the door. Cuddles and Corby, apparently disconcerted by all this, bolted past us up the corridor.

Wonillon had also figured out the discretion thing, and dashed after the animals. Past the threshold, I was far enough away from the battle to speak, and told Heiron to stand by to help me with the doors.

I expected Lydia to put distance behind her, too, but she stood in the doorway with us, pulled out her gold lion statue, and said, “Simba.”

Her magic lion leaped into existence and charged the commander.

That left Mikael, Raven, and Ezekiel.

As we watched, a bugbear swung at Ezekiel and bashed him so hard he… Lydia tells me he “turned into a gaseous form.” It was basically a see-through, billowy version of Ezekiel.

He started cackling wildly, and bellowing, “Fly, you fools!” or something like that (so, why don’t silence spells affect him?!), and charged the fire-lizard-things, swinging his foggy mace left and right.

Raven popped into view in the middle of the room, snapping the no-ordinary-rope like a lasso…but nothing special happened, so he and Mikael finally backed out of the room while Simba mauled the commander.

I figured Ezekiel was a big boy and could take care of himself – or we’d just have to raise him again or something – so Heiron and I pulled the doors shut and tied the handles with rope.

Mikael pounded on the doors, hollering at Ezekiel that he was a gas, for goodness’ sake, and needed to come float through the door!

Raven tapped Mikael on the shoulder with the hand that wasn’t holding his arm on, and asked for some healing.

Simba gave a roar from beyond the door. I guess it must have been a victory roar, since Lydia gave a little smile (you can tell by the way her eyes crinkle) and dismissed him by twisting the statue in her hands.

Well, with that worry out of the way, I could worry more about the fire-lizard-things, and I ushered Heiron and Lydia up the corridor, preparing another arrow on my bow (now that I could hold it again).

Shortly after, Raven joined us. He said Mikael was still worried about Ezekiel, so he gave him the potion of invisibility so he’d have more options.

I’ve learned long ago…arguing with Ezekiel is one of those things that never goes anywhere. So I had to trust Mikael to take care of himself, and assembled the party at the north end of the corridor (where it happened to connect with the “great hall,” as I call it).

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long before Mikael joined us – dragging a now-solid Ezekiel along with him. He said, “I asked Obed-Hai to get some sense into him, and I guess it worked.”

Ezekiel says he received new instructions from a weather-beaten man leaning on a staff. He says that when he saw the man shaking his head in disbelief, he decided he wasn’t supposed to die in a blaze of glory, disintegrating salamanders from a ghostly form.

(Oh, yes…Michael says the creatures were salamanders, which are only harmed by magical weapons. Good to know.)

Ezekiel touched Raven’s remaining wounds, and they closed and stopped bleeding.

I thought we were finally going to get out of that area, and into some place where we could control the approaches…but, no, you have to keep a sharp eye on Ezekiel.

He abruptly stared off into the distance, through a solid wall, and announced that there was something very, very important that we had to check out right that second.

Raven apparently decided that compromising would be more efficient than arguing with EzEkIeL, and stationed us on watch while he checked out this room that was so very important (it’s a solid door a little south of the junction where we stood…yes, back towards the salamanders just a bit).

The floor of the room is white marble, with an alabaster ceiling. Raven says it feels very “safe” there, though he didn’t specify if the approaches are defensible, or if there are arrow slits in the walls, or extra weapons, or what exactly makes it so safe.

There’s a second door across from the entrance, and (apparently) a sheet of crystal that seemed cloudy until Raven opened the other door – when it started glowing.

If I had been there, I would instantly have suspected that it was some kind of alarm to tell when people open the door…but of course I wasn’t there. I was guarding the hall with Heiron.

The crystal started glowing, and when Ezekiel and Mikael joined Raven, they spotted two figures (like men with white wings) walking toward the crystal, as though they were on the other side of a mirror or window.

The figures asked them what “such fair folk of good” were doing in such a “vile place” – which should have been their first warning. I mean, what would make them think we were all Good, after all?

Ezekiel asked the two who they were, and they answered that this “sanctuary of good” had been “placed here” to give aid to any righteous adventurers…and if they left all their magic gear, holy symbols, and silver items in front of the crystal mirror – and left the room for a few hours – the winged types would restore their charges and increase their efficiency.

Raven says he was getting flashes of déja vue about that point…and then apparently the figures told them all to hurry, because the “window of opportunity” was short, and that “Euz,” in his goodness, had put this room/mirror-thing there to help good people –

And at that point Ezekiel started laughing so loudly we could hear him outside through the walls.

We could also hear something else – a rope snapping some ways away.

I opened the door to tell them to hurry up, and by that time, the figures had retreated in embarrassment or something, so the others rejoined us.

Ezekiel told us it was another scheme like the pool of wish-granting, and Lydia asked why he hadn’t left his mace for them to pick up.

Well, he got a good laugh out of the whole thing…but I still don’t know why it was so very vital that we drop everything and investigate it right then. Of course, Ezekiel has been having trouble all day…as I write, he’s vibrating in his seat, and every time he speaks, he garbles it so quickly we can’t understand a word.

Lydia asked all the rest of us to pray that he wouldn’t explode or anything. Shame that she doesn’t feel comfortable doing that herself…but maybe one day.

Anyway, the majority ruled that we wanted some distance between us and the fire-salamander-lizard things. We’re doing much better than we were, but Ezekiel still looks like death warmed over…and Wonillon and Raven didn’t get off without a scratch, either.

I have a nick that looks like the scratch of a spear, but it only itches.

We still have to decide whether we need to restock in town before returning…but I for one am happy to have a retreat at my back, as well as a controlled approach in front.

Now, if Ezekiel doesn’t explode, or turn purple, or something, we should be fine.

Maybe the God of gods is paying attention and rooting for us…but it’s nice to know Obed-Hai and Ehlonna and Merikka approve of our mission and are listening, too.


Find the previous entry here.

Short Fiction: The Prayer of a Paladin

In the absence of a D&D summery this week, please enjoy this short story I wrote, inspired by the world of Greyhawk!

My brother is clamoring for it to continue to a better resolution…What do you think?


Marcius woke, shivering the whole length of his body. The back of his tattered tunic stuck to the stone wall, and his legs and arms had long passed the point where he noticed their throbbing.

By all rights, he should have been surprised at being able to sleep at all…but he couldn’t ignore the pressure of sheer exhaustion.

The clanks of armor and the flap of feet snapped his attention back to what had woken him.

Marcius peered through the bars of the cell, fighting the surge of panic that shot up through his heart.

He recognized the figure that led the small party — though Gorm, as he called himself, shared the ruddy skin and dark robes of a human cleric, the fangs sticking up from his lower jaw betrayed his orc parentage.

The green-skinned grunts behind him were dragging another prisoner — human, and dressed in something brown, though that’s all that Marcius could see underneath the mud and dried blood.

The orcs in chainmail dragged their prisoner to the wall opposite Marcius and began shackling him in the same way – locking his wrists in manacles just above the head…at just the right angle to prevent him from hanging his body in a comfortable resting position.

Gorm, the so-called cleric, approached Marcius.

At his smug smile and squint, Marcius felt the bile rise in his mouth.

“Good morning, holy warrior,” Gorm croaked past his fangs, giving a smile that revealed all their jagged glory.

Marcius tried to lick the roof of his mouth, and failed.

“I could tell you that Pelor has brought the sun back to the skies outside,” said Gorm. “And that in the peaceful lands of your home, the green fields wave back a welcome to the light.”

Marcius said nothing. There was no answer.

He knew as well as Gorm did that he was not out there, raising his sword against the invading hordes to protect his master and his people.

No, he was here, buried deep in a dungeon where the only light were the torches of his enemies…or their sickly green orbs placed at the foot of the stairs.

“You must long for it,” said Gorm, with another smile. “The holy warrior misses his brothers-in-arms – misses his polished armor and his sharpened sword. Perhaps we should have let you watch as we melted it down.”

Melting Marcius’ blade would negate the enchantment on it. It was just the sort of thing they’d do, though, as Quintus had been outspoken about his loathing for foul humanoids.

Thinking about it would do no good…but at the memory of his enthusiastic sentient sword, Marcius choked.

The two foot-soldiers, finished with their work, glanced at Gorm. At a nod from him, they passed through the cell-gate to head for the stairs.

“Have you spoken with your god, holy warrior?” asked Gorm. “Surely his light could do something for you here. Surely he would send aid to you…if he knew you were here, of course. The mighty master of light is strong enough to reach these halls, is he not?”

When Marcius didn’t answer, Gorm reached into his cloak.

“No,” he said. “Surely he would not abandon his child like this – would he, paladin?”

With the final sneer, he pulled something out of his cloak and shoved it into Marcius’ face.

It was a mask – worked to resemble a bear, or a wolf — it was impossible to tell which, exactly.

A red teardrop painted on the forehead was almost obscured by the crusty stains of real blood.

Marcius screamed, lunging to the side. The chains snapped metallically, bringing him to a halt; the manacles bit into his wrists and the fleshy base of his thumb.

The sores in those places broke open – warm blood trickled down his arms in well-worn patterns.

But he noticed none of that. Darkness clouded his vision, as the cleric’s taunting laugh echoed in his ears.

Pelor should hear him. Pelor was his Master, the Lord of Light. Pelor was the name he carried when he defended the widows of homesteads, and the orphans of besieged towns.

Yet here he was.

Marcius slumped, hanging in the chains. They were placed so high that he couldn’t kneel on the ground…either his swollen and aching legs must support him, or his shredded arms and wrists would.

How long had this gone on? How many days had this fiend with the shape of a man, who worshiped an obscene and vile god, come down here to taunt him?

How often had he been forced to face that thing – that symbol of all that was twisted and murderous in this castle?

That reminder – in physical form – that he had failed…that the patrol had been slaughtered…that he, Marcius Farin, had been dragged from his company and his duty, and locked up here…perhaps to die, perhaps worse –

Worse? To renounce his oath. He was no ignorant blade-for-hire…He served a higher authority, and dedicated himself to the cause of his master.

From his sword to his speech to the manner in which he passed his free time, everything was a reflection of that greater light – the great Pelor, whose sun shone on the just and the unjust, and whose will was the protection of the helpless and oppressed.

And now…where had that brought him?

Marcius realized he was sobbing. A fiery pain stabbed through his limbs, raising them above the constant ache that racked his whole body – and making them worthy of his mind’s notice.

But there was nothing he could do. He could no more protect the innocent than he could keep himself alive. No more than he could make the sun rise.

He was nothing.

Gorm laughed again — for as human as his face was, his voice sounded like a pig fused in an unholy union with a bear.

“We’ll talk again tomorrow, holy warrior,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll find something more to talk about. You must tell me all about the wonders of Pelor, and how he takes care of his faithful servants.”

Gorm turned and strutted out – locking the cell with the keys at his belt before climbing the stairs.

In the sickly green light of the orbs by the staircase, Marcius huddled against the wall at his back.

Sweat coated his face and ran into his eyes. With a shaking arm, he drew his hand far enough over to wipe the hair out of his eyes.

Across the way, the new prisoner was watching him. He twisted his hands in the manacles, as though testing their tightness…but Marcius knew there was no way to slip out of them.

How often had he tried? Even with shredded skin and blood-slicked arms, the metal was sized just right to keep his bones pinned.

How often…? How often had this happened? How long had he spent in this hell-hole?

And could Hell itself possibly be any worse?

A part of him rebelled at that thought. Ever since he was a child in his father’s house, he had trained his body and disciplined his mind for service to Pelor…and, by extension, as a symbol of Good and comfort to all innocent people who depended on him.

And that had brought him – what?

Was this, then, to be his end? This dim, stinking dungeon would be his grave?

Or would one day…one black-as-night morning…would his resolve break? Would the torture of his body and mind become too much, and would his mouth speak words that he himself would never dream of?

At the horror of that thought, Marcius sank into a revery that eventually led him to sleep…or rather, the shifting consciousness that served him as sleep in that place.

Once or twice, he started awake, straining his ears for an unfamiliar sound…

A soft crunching – like the chewing of flesh and bone…accompanied by stifled gasps of pain.

But his blurred eyes could see nothing in the dimness – and even if there were undead in the shadows beyond the cell, preying on some helpless victim, it wasn’t like he could do anything to help them.

Finally, he heard the familiar alarm of morning – the thump of the cleric’s boots, and the jingle of his chainmail and keys.

Gorm reappeared – this time alone – and placed a torch in a bracket along the wall before unlocking the cell door.

Marcius already felt the tears coursing down his face. His heart pounded. He had no more blood to bleed, no more strength to stand –

“Morning has dawned yet again,” said Gorm, with another of his hateful smiles. “Or do I need to tell you that, holy warrior? A devoted acolyte of the sun-god surely knows when the sun rises and sets. Who am I to tell you differently, my righteous friend?”

Marcius could think of nothing to say. Instead, he squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his cheek against the wall, steeling himself.

“I hope you have enough light to see, you little human weakling, you,” said Gorm. “I have something to show you. Open up and look, now. I think you’ll find it very interesting–”

Something clanked and gurgled.

Surprise overpowered Marcius, and he instinctively looked.

First, he noticed Gorm’s starting eyes and pale complexion.

Next, he noticed the other prisoner, pinning a metal bar from the prison floor against the cleric’s neck with his elbows – and hauling back for all he was worth.

A moment later, the prisoner raised his knee to Gorm’s back, and convulsed backward with a jerk.

Gorm gave an explosive cough, and crumpled to the ground, a little trickle of blood darkening his mouth.

The stranger exhaled, and straightened up, letting the bar drop.

As he straightened his arms, Marcius saw that his hands were entirely red. Now that they were closer together, he could see the pulpy stubs were both his thumbs had been.

From the blood around his mouth, the stranger had chewed them off.

Marcius felt oddly sick – but as he hadn’t eaten anything in several days, nothing happened.

“Oy,” said the stranger, and stepped forward, holding out his hands. “Do me a solid, man?”

Marcius continued to stare.

“Snap out of it, greater-goody,” said the prisoner. “You’re a paladin of Pelor, right? Can’t be all bad, right? So lay it on me before we blow this.”

After all this time…how long had it been, again?…surely the power of Pelor had left him.

Surely, in this vile place –

Marcius reached out — he couldn’t lower his hands below his head, so the stranger stepped forward and raised his arms. Marcius cradled the strangers’ hands in his own, closed his eyes, and started mouthing a prayer.

If Pelor heard him…if Pelor regarded him…then surely it was Pelor’s will that he help someone else…

At the long sigh of relief, Marcius opened his eyes.

The stranger examined his hands, turning them over as he opened and shut his new fists – complete with new thumbs.

“Feels good enough to function,” he said. “Now—”

He bent over Gorm, and within seconds was unlocking Marcius’ manacles with the keys.

As soon as his arms were free, Marcius sank to the ground. At the sudden relief, every nerve in his body seemed to fire, and every tense muscle collapsed.

The stranger busied himself rooting through Gorm’s body.

Yes, the cleric that had tormented him for time without measure was well and truly dead. And so easily. It made him wonder– But he was too tired to wonder. Besides, there was no time for it.

Marcius forced himself to crawl forward and join the hunt.

While his new companion stripped off the chainmail and pulled it on, Marcius detached the cleric’s small hammer — Gorm’s main weapon, a mace, was hanging from a loop on his other side.

Good thing he’d done some practicing with maces. They couldn’t compare to his old sword, of course, but at least he’d have an idea what he was doing.

He looked up at the stranger.

His new companion was standing again, and muttering something.

“Well, been worse,” he said at last, and looked down at Marcius. “Can you stand, paladin?” He held out a hand.

Marcius honestly didn’t think he could…but he said nothing. Instead, he took the offered arm and scrambled upright – letting the stranger pull him to his feet.

“Marcius Farin,” he panted. “Do you have a name, my generous friend?”

“Generous is new,” said the stranger. “Call me Benj.”

He picked up his length of metal and hefted it a moment. “Nope. I’ll trouble you for the hammer. Hope we meet some grunts soon. I don’t do much with blunt trauma. Needlessly delays things, if you ask me.”

Dark spots washed before Marcius’ eyes. “You realize we have no real chance –” he began.

“Stuff it, city boy,” said Benj. “Is that any talk for a paladin of Pelor?”

He headed for the door of the cell.

Marcius said nothing and followed.

Benj took the torch from the bracket and held it in his off-hand. He glanced up the stairs, then along the wall that led farther into the dungeon.

When he looked back at Marcius, he smiled. “Guess you can’t do another number on yourself, eh?”

Marcius shook his head.

“Ever been down that way?” He pointed into the darkness. “Is there another stair you could find for us?”

“Sorry,” said Marcius.

Benj glanced up the stairway again. “Known impossibility,” he grunted, and turned toward the darkness, “Or unknown possibilities.”

He shrugged. “Come on, man. We’ll stick together, that’s all.”

He headed off along the wall.

Who knew what they would find over there? On the other hand, could it be more threatening than the full guardhouse at the top of the prison stairs?

Marcius followed close behind.


Kimia Wood lives somewhere in the American Midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing…and other excuses for not gardening.

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Dear Diary….air demons

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

Night passed quietly. Rest seemed to do Ezekiel good.

First thing, he pulled Mikael aside for a “strategy session” – both of them being “cleric types” and all.

So Raven and I went through Bel-Sornig’s room to make sure we hadn’t missed anything. No sign of a secret passage…so that’s good, I guess.

I think Ezekiel said something like he got “something” to “replace” the healing potions he lost, but I’m not sure. He was kind of muttering.

Mikael performed healing rites for Ezekiel and Raven, and we were set to keep moving.

First order of business was to “deal with” the altar-basin in the Water Temple “sanctuary.” It’s bronze and about four feet high.

I’d known it had water and coins in it, but I didn’t realize how deep it was. Ezekiel stuck his arm all the way in, said, “Oh, that’s saltwater,” and told me to bring the bag of holding over.

As soon as he started messing with the altar, the pieces of the “juggernaut” idol on the floor started hooting. Obviously an alarm of some kind…but fortunately we seem to have killed everything within earshot of the alarm. It sure got annoying, though.

We cleared a whole pile of gems out of the water basin, plus a hefty amount of coins. So I guess it was worth it to take a look – besides irritating the dumb rock, of course.

The rest of us were ready to keep moving – but Ezekiel had something he wanted to do first.

He headed over to the fountain with the hideous fish face, and filled up his waterskin…but then he stood there praying over it for what felt like a long time.

He says he was sanctifying it to make “holy water” — I didn’t know he could do that, but I guess sometimes you gotta try new things to find out.

There are double bronze doors on the east side of the “sanctuary” – I don’t know how we managed to miss them until now – covered with more of those ugly, leering faces. (Leering on the other side of your faces now, eh?)

When we opened the doors, they revealed a wide corridor that seemed to glow with a green radiance. Farther down, it looked like it turned to red…but Ezekiel was not interested in venturing in to find out.

(He’s a puzzle, that’s for sure. Some things, he’s all ready to charge in without hesitation. Then, suddenly, he seems to get fits of caution and won’t even step through a door.)

Anyway, we took the long way around to the Air Temple “sanctuary” (where we had such a rough encounter with the spirit that wasn’t undead and RAVEN’S SMOKE).

While the rest of us stood guard at the top of the west stairs, Lydia cast Detect Magic and ran around the room with the Boots of Speed, trying to get an idea what we should look out for. She said the north door (with the repelling runes), the two crystal braziers on silver chains, and the altar (and utensils) were all magical.

The decor of the Air Temple is certainly more spartan than several of the other temples.

Ezekiel had Lydia cast Protection from Evil on him (since we were out of a paladin), and ventured onto the floor alone to take the other crystal dagger and the crystal bowl from the altar.

When he picked them up, funnels of wind seemed to rise out of the pit and hit him, but he kept his feet. A glyph of some kind on the altar also flared…perhaps it thought that, since he was grabbing all the tools, he was going to do a sacrifice.

Ezekiel brought us the two daggers and the bowl and made me put them in the bag of holding (Lydia said they weren’t magical anymore, but you can never be too careful with these cursed things. On the other hand, Ezekiel hasn’t been hurt by walking around with the one dagger in his belt. On the other other hand, he wasn’t carrying the complete set. What if it tries to mind-control me?)

Ezekiel went back down the steps with his waterskin of holy water and tried to douse the brazier nearest us.

Like before, smoke poured out of the brazier, burying the floor in dark, choking fumes…but something else happened, too.

A creature – at least as big as Ezekiel, maybe twice as tall, and looking like a human mashed with a vulture – appeared next to him and slashed at him…but it recoiled with an ugly exclamation I’m sure was swearing, wherever it came from.

Heiron let loose the arrow he had ready, and nailed the thing in its birdy face.

Mikael cast faery fire, and the creature flailed around a bit – but the sparkles seemed to “take,” and I could see its vital areas light up.

It slashed at Ezekiel with four arms and its beak – but only nicked him a bit while he was ducking in to try and bash it.

I lined up my shots, with the help of Mikael’s spell, and landed both arrows in it…it died with a squawking, screaming cry.

By this time, Ezekiel had worked his way back up the stairs to escape the smoke. While we waited for it to dissipate, he smacked himself with his own mace, muttering – then gave a sigh.

He told us the creature was a “vrok demon” – and someone (maybe Heiron?) said it went down pretty fast for a demon. So Ezekiel explained it was pretty low down on the totem-pole of demons.

Once the smoke had evaporated, and nothing was on the floor but the reliable swirling mist of this place, we crossed the room to take up positions on the opposite staircase so we could cover the second brazier while Ezekiel doused it. (The first brazier seemed to have gone out, so that was progress.)

(The east staircase led to more double doors, which we found led to a corridor that leads back to the “great hall.” Have to explore that more later.)

Ezekiel dumped the rest of his waterskin on the second brazier, and the system repeated itself.

Dark smoke poured out, and a hideous vulture-demon-thing with (at least) four clawed arms appeared.

It was at this point that we remembered Ezekiel’s protection from evil had run out.

I got the creature in the joint between shoulder and wing…and then my next shot took out the first crystal brazier and knocked it to the floor. It was – twitching, all right?

Ezekiel kept it distracted while I put a couple more arrows in it, and then he hit it. Even from where we were standing, I saw the purple lightening surge up the mace, and ram’s head on the end glowed briefly.

(That can’t be healthy, right?)

Chuckling, Ezekiel joined us on the stairs for a minute while the smoke cleared. Then we could recover the silver chains and the crystal that was still valuable.

Mikael healed Ezekiel of his little demon scratches, and we went to investigate the southern doors at the top of the southern stairs.

This proved to be a new kind of area. The doors opened to a hallway – we assume it connects with the corridor we saw in the Water Temple – but the area there was glowing with a grey luminosity. It seemed to be pulsing, too.

Off to the west, it turned to the green of the Water Temple…to the east, it turned red (where the Fire Temple, the last of the under-temples, must be).

Straight across from the door, a huge bronze sheet sat – with a windlass to help raise or lower it.

According to the map, we figured it connected with the corridor in between the hydra and the unnatural-cross-of-owl-and-bear.

Ezekiel and Wonillon were first, and ventured over the threshold. They both yelped as a magical wind tossed them against the bronze barrier, and their noses turned red with cold.

One of them said the air in there smelled funny – like history and ages and war or something – but I don’t know what that would smell like.

I got out a rope while Raven tested the hallway by tossing a pebble from his boot over the threshold. The pebble dropped to the floor and didn’t do anything interesting.

I told the rope of climbing to attach to Ezekiel’s waist (being specific, see…can’t be too careful) and tried to pull him back…but he’s way heavier than I am, plus wearing plate armor, and I was trying to keep from losing my balance and falling through the door – so anyway, it didn’t work too well, and he peeled the rope off and tossed it back to me, grumbling about something.

He called across to us that he and Wonillon would raise the barricade and take the long way around past the hydra corridor.

That leaves the rest of us with nothing to do but sit on our hands…and search the other corners of the Air Temple for secret doors.

Raven and Lydia found several – we assume they’re to provide escape in the event the temples fight each other.

We must keep our eyes and ears open. If undead show up while we have neither a cleric, nor a paladin, things could get dangerous…


Find the previous entry here.

5 Miracle “Explanations” That God Knew About

5 Miracle “Explanations” That God Knew About

Ever noticed how people like to “explain away” miracles? I call them “just so” stories.

You know those “just so” stories…like the one about how the bear lost his long tail, or “why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears,” or how the vulture poked his head through the night sky and burned it bald with the heat of the sun (and the hole he left is now the moon).

Silly little kids’ stories to “explain” why something is the way it is – which are often so much more complicated than the truth.

People like to come up with these “explanations” for the miracles in the Bible, too…but —

God knew about our explanations before we came up with them.

How do I know? Because, if you look at the Bible, you’ll often see details in the stories of the miracles that disprove whatever “just so” story the skeptics have come up with to “explain away” what God did.

Here are some examples to get you thinking. Those seminary professors may have nice stories, but if you actually read and believe what God said, even a child can tell that they’re just making up stories to sound good.

Turning the Nile to Blood

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Actually, it was ketchup. Image credit: Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

In Exodus 7, God ordered Moses to hit the Nile River with his staff and turn the water into blood.

The purpose of this was to convince Pharaoh that God was serious about wanting the Hebrew slaves set free…and also to punish the Egyptians for following false gods, show God’s strength to the Israelite people, etc.

Take a look:

And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”

Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood.

And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart.

And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile. (Ex. 7:19-24)

Some people don’t believe this really happened!

The “just-so story” I’ve heard about this is that red plankton flowed up from the Mediterranean Sea or something, and that’s why the Egyptians couldn’t drink the water.

But God put in details that contradict this theory:

Notice that not only the water in the river, but even the water in “vessels of wood and stone” (vs. 19) AKA the water-pitchers and stored water in people’s houses also turned to blood (according to God Himself!).

Then Egyptians dug wells, and God allowed them to get water.

Crossing the Red Sea

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Image credit: bible.ca

Exodus 14 gives us the account of the Hebrew people crossing the Red Sea. God had rained such brutal plagues on the Egyptians that they were eager to set the Israelites free…but then Pharaoh and his officials had a change of heart.

They caught up with the Israelites at the Red Sea:

The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.

And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.”

So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.

But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. (Ex. 14:15-30)

Does this really need explaining?

Well, some people think so. Some people will tell you that it happened to be low tide or something, and so the Israelites actually walked through shallow water.

God knows better.

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

I couldn’t choose so here’s another picture! Image credit: SeedsOfFaith.cph.org

God actually told us explicitly that the Hebrew people walked on “dry ground” – with a wall of water on either hand.

And when the Egyptian army chased them into the sea, God made their chariots stick in the mud, and buried them with the waters.

Yeah, I know I literally just repeated what God said…but who’s complaining?

If the Red Sea was only a couple feet deep…then why did God say “walls of water”? How were the Israelites able to cross on “dry land”?

And how on earth did the Egyptians all drown – so that their bodies washed up on the shores – if they could have just waded after the Hebrews and re-enslaved them?

God meant what He said…and if you believe what He said, you have to accept what He meant.

The Wine at Cana

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Joseph Martin Kronheim/Kean Collection/Getty Images via SCPR.org

This example comes from John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (vv. 1-11)

This “explanation” comes from Lloyd C. Douglas’ novel The Robe.

He suggests that the servants took water from vessels that used to hold wine (and so might have a residual taste) and then when everyone at the party tasted the wine, the magnetism of Jesus’ personality made them think it was really wine.

I call baloney-sauce!

Notice that our eyewitness account says the water came from “jars [used] for the Jewish rites of purification” — I don’t think they’d be storing wine in there at any time!

You’ll also notice that Jesus told the servants to take the wine in to the master of ceremonies…which implies (although it doesn’t explicitly say) that He Himself was in another room at the time.

The master of the feast didn’t know anything about where it came from – but thought it was the best wine he had ever tasted.

I doubt he would mistake water with a little lemon slice for real lemonade, regardless what scintillating conversation he was listening to.

Noah’s Flood

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Image credit: AnswersInGenesis.org

God judged the world by sending a great flood of water, so that only Noah, his family, and the animals they took with them on the preservation-craft were safe.

Some people insist that this was a “local” flood. But that is very silly on the face of it.

Check out Genesis 7:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature.

They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.

The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters.

And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. (vv. 11-20, 24)

Also Genesis 8:

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (vv. 20-22)

We know this was a global flood…

…because it covered the tops of all the mountains – as evidenced by fossils of fish found on high mountain peaks!

Also, God promised He would never repeat this show. He would never “strike down every living creature as I have done.”

There have been plenty of local floods, but nothing approaching the world-wide devastation that Noah saw. Either the Bible is right…or God broke His promise.

You do believe what God says, right?

Feeding the Thousands

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

We all know these stories, right?

The original accounts are in Matthew 14 and 15, Mark 6 and 8, Luke 9, and John 6.

For simplicity, let’s look at Mark:

And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send [the crowd] away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”

And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”

Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all.

And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.

And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. (Mark 6:35-44)

And again:

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, [Jesus] called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”

They said, “Seven.”

And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them.

And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.

And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. (Mark 8:1-9)

Here come “some people”—

What do they say about this passage?

They say that when the people saw Jesus sharing his sack lunch with all the hungry people (only John mentions that a little boy brought the food – John 6:8-9)…then they all decided to pull out their lunches and share, too.

Because SHARING. (And hiding your snacks even though you’re hungry because someone else might want some…)

I think Jesus said it best:

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Dudes…I’m going to be executed and come back to life. You think food is a problem? Image credit: Pixabay

And Jesus, aware of this, said to [the disciples], “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?

“Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”

They said to him, “Twelve.”

“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”

And they said to him, “Seven.”

And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:17-21)

Do you not yet understand?

  • First:

The crowd of 5,000 was in a desolate place, and it was late in the day (so, dinnertime, not lunchtime – their sack lunch was already eaten, I guess).

The crowd of 4,000 was also in a “desolate place,” and had been listening to Jesus for three days. Chances are that – if they had packed some supplies for camping out, they were running low. Jesus even worries that they’ll pass out from hunger before they get home!

  • Second:

Notice how many left-overs they picked up! I don’t have the linguistic skills to prove whether it was a large or small basket…but just look at the number of them!

That’s way more food than you’d expect from some people hoarding rolls up their sleeves.

  • Third:

“Do you not yet understand?”

Jesus is literally teaching them that He is God.

When He’s done with the crowd in Mark 8, He takes the disciples and jumps in a boat. The disciples are worried because they didn’t bring bread – even though Jesus literally just created baked bread and cooked fish out of thin air.

Jesus warns them about “the leaven/yeast of the Pharisees” (v. 15) – meaning their wicked teachings which are contrary to God. Just like it’s “not what goes into a man, but what comes out, that makes him unclean,” it’s not physical food we should be worried about.

We need to be eating the spiritual bread of Jesus and His word…because when we do that, we will find we have just what we need physically.

Also…y’know…Jesus literally has the power to make literally anything…since He did literally make everything (Hebrews).

Why Do People Do This?

Maybe you were basically familiar with all my examples already…and you just wonder why anyone would do this?

Maybe you’re a “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” kind of person. It must seem strange that people make up reasons and little explanations to cut the metaphysical part out of the Biblical miracles.

Why would they want to?

First group: they don’t actually believe it.

These people may call themselves Christians, go to church, or teach in a seminary…but they prove by their actions that they don’t really believe what Jesus said.

They think “moral lessons” are the true heart of Christianity, and that teaching people to be “nice,” to share, and to “look on the bright side” is all there is to it.

Actually…that’s a very sad, pathetic view of the world.

Second group: well-meaning but clumsy.

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Do they just want to sound smart? Image credit: Pixabay

These people want to make the Bible more “believable” – perhaps more “acceptable.” They might be embarrassed by the flame-strikes and the rising-from-the-deads, and they want to explain the “Bible stories” to their kids without looking like they don’t know physics exists.

They don’t seem to understand that – of course physics exists, God just out-ranks it. ‘Cause He made it. ‘Cause He’s awesome.

These people don’t realize it, but they’re really saying:

“Well – this is what really happened. Don’t believe the physical world obeyed God to part rivers, cover the desert with bread, rain fire on wicked cities and people, devour Herod with worms, shrivel fig trees, make a day last more than 24 hours, and return life to people who stopped breathing days before.

“But totally believe you should obey God to forgive your enemies, deny yourself lusting over the opposite sex, tell the truth in all circumstances, not let food control you, and practice kindness to everyone regardless of how annoying they are.”

The historical accounts in the Bible don’t need us to make excuses for them.

5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia Wood

Image credit: ThisFragileTent

I hope these examples encourage you that the next time someone smart-sounding starts telling you this-or-that “didn’t really happen,” God probably put details into His Word that defies exactly what they’re suggesting!

So get out your Bible, and you can know what the real story is!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15:12-20)

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21)


This post is approved by my spiritual head.


5 Miracle "Explanations" That God Knew About — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family – including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.

Subscribe to the mailing list for periodic updates on her latest reading and writing exploits! You’ll also receive a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier.


Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s death counter

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure: “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

Lydia has given Raven her cloak of protection – since after all, he is more likely to run to the front and hit enemies (although she showed us some techniques she’s been learning at the tower with her staff, and is excited that she might actually hit something if it came down to it).

By the way, while Ezekiel was fiddling around with the weird magic trident, he discovered it had a hollow handle, with a nice, big aquamarine inside – plus a long scroll covered with cleric spells. (He’s calling the trident a “Trident of Yearning” because when you touch it, it makes you want to get in water or take a bath or something.)

As for Mikael’s new rod of smiting, though, no one in town knows specifically what its deal is.

Mikael and Raven have recovered their supplies as well as possible, buying replacement clothes and boots for the ones destroyed in acid…

I guess that’s a danger of carrying around too much expensive stuff – but there’s not a good way to get around it.

Had a lovely time in the woods with my “friends,” if by “lovely” we mean lots of push-ups and obstacle courses and getting my butt kicked. On the other hand, I really feel like I can swing an ax without pulling my muscles – or hitting something I don’t mean to. Even Master Elmo said I was getting “pretty good” at it. If we come across another ax in the dungeon, I can try it out…but until then, I think I’m carrying enough stuff. Continue reading

3 Rules for Writing Comic Strips

The comic strip world is in shambles. Back in my day, we had good comics.

Call them the “funny pages,” do you? These simple line drawings are the touch-stone of our culture!

Or – they should be…if they hadn’t been infected by lazy writers who don’t know what they’re doing.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: it is I, knower of everything, who have come to share exactly what is wrong with modern comic strips (that even goes for classics like Blondie whose current strips are being written by contemporary wannabe hacks)…and how anyone can produce a quality comic strip with my three easy steps.

Listen to me. After all, I know everything there is to know…and I am here to offer my gracious instruction to all you young whippersnappers.

1. Look Pretty

In the good old days, comics were nice to look at. Maybe the characters weren’t beautiful, but they weren’t a pile a squashed polygons that look like a made-in-China Picasso.

The lines were clean…the shapes were pleasing… You could tell what the backgrounds were, and what the characters were supposed to be.

3 Rules for Writing Comic Strips — Kimia Wood

Image courtesy of xkcd

Even “ugly” characters were somehow cute – or at least funny.

Minimalism is okay, too. But even simple designs can still lead the eye smoothly and give it satisfying shapes to look at.

Bottom line – in the old days, you could stare at the drawings without going blind.

You want to be a real comic strip writer? (Of course you do!) Then draw characters you wouldn’t mind hanging full-size on your wall!

If the people’s heads look like a pumpkin had an unfortunate accident with a tall building, you need some more work! If you don’t want your characters attractive, or cute…at least make their designs funny. You’re a comic strip writer.

2. Be Funny

Listen, my friend. You hold a valuable piece of our republic in your hands.

The comic pages are the one and only reason my grandpa buys a newspaper at all…and then only on Sundays…

And only for Sherman’s Lagoon.

You’re not competing with paint drying, you know. Put in a little effort! Do you want your character’s face used to light the fire in the morning?

Or do you want to hang on the bulletin board at work, for all the coworkers to see?

3 Rules for Writing Comic Strips — Kimia Wood

Image credit: ComicsKingdom

Trust me, your fellow comic writers are scraping the bottom of the barrel. (The next person to invent a fresh joke about Black Friday sales is getting the Pulitzer.) You don’t have to reach that far above them.

We all get that social media is a thing, now. Unless you have a really, truly unique gag about that inane fact (or about wives dissing their husbands, or kids whining about school, or any of the other tired, boring stereotypes) then just leave it alone.

Make your characters do interesting things. Force them to say interesting things.

If they’re just floating aimlessly across the page – nobody is going to care.

I don’t! And I am the gold standard for everything. (I also know everything, in case you’ve forgotten.)

There are loads of hilarious things in the world! Use some of them! Like the time our goat got so snarled around a tree with her cable that she literally got her hoof stuck in her collar.

Yeah, I just had to chuckle while I was untangling her.

Be the strip we tape to the bathroom mirror so we can wake up happy. Don’t be the strip that we read – and then feel absolutely nothing.

3. Aim for Timelessness

I don’t think I’ve said this part yet, so let me be clear:

You’re writing a comic strip.

This is not your personal editorial column, or your MySpace page. (Though if you can’t get published anywhere but MySpace…there might be a reason for that?)

By the way, no reason but I saw this hilarious comic strip skewering President Ford the other day. I can’t decide if that, or the one mocking Caesar Augustus, is my favorite –

Said no one ever!

Look. Shakespeare made bank with Julius Caesar because he tapped into the emotions of pride, jealousy, and betrayal that span all humanity.

Hamlet is still performed because it speaks to the doubts and longings common to our shared human experience…not because the Danish royal court is “relevant” or anything.

Yes I just compared Shakespeare to comic strips no I’m not sorry.

Sure, everyone else calls you the “funny pages” and uses you for a coffee mug coaster. Is that who you want to be?

Close your eyes and imagine five years from now…ten years from now… You’re holding the anniversary collection of your strip in your hands.

Are all the jokes lame and nonsensical because you’re mocking political figures that ran out their terms of office before your kids were born?

Who’s going to be laughing then?

No one! That’s who!

And your job is to be funny, for Calvin’s sake. (Calvin and Hobbes, of course.)

If no one will be interested in buying hardcover collector’s edition books of your strips because they’ll be meaningless after the next election cycle – think about that for a moment.

Crafting the Perfect Comic Strip

My time as your muse is drawing to a close. Just remember these three crucial points:

  1. Draw pictures you can enjoy looking at…staring at…and coming back to.
  2. Write plots and dialogue that actually get a chuckle. Or a wry grin. Or an appreciative snort.
  3. Dig deeper, aim higher, and create something people will come back to again, and again…and again, to read to their kids.

Unless, of course, you’re just here to make sure Frazz still has newspapers to distribute his genius.

In that case, I bow to your sacrificial support of the greater good.


3 Rules for Writing Comic Strips — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family…including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.

She’s bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for periodic updates on her latest reading and writing exploits. You’ll also receive a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier!

Dear Diary….pool of perdition

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

Ezekiel sent Mikael and Raven off to find Cuddles. Turns out he was keeping an eye on the double-doors we came through to reach the “sanctuary.”

They’d just met up with him when Raven says he heard the wall beside the door moving aside.

A voice said, “Master?” – and then we all heard shouting in some other language. (I assume it was bugbear.)

Most of the temple-room was still dark, of course – Mikael had a torch, but it didn’t shed light like our shiny shields used to (and the humidity in that room made things difficult, too).

Simba charged off into the darkness, roaring, and I heard the squeals as he tore into something (again, it sounded like bugbear).

I think Cuddles and Raven both lunged at the same time and bumped into each other – but that’s just going from what I saw across the room, and Raven insists it went differently.

Ezekiel moved forward, and as soon as Lydia followed him far enough to light the enemy, he bashed a bugbear-head in with his mace.

I speared one through the throat before I even realized Lydia had thrown an egg through the doorway…the figures beyond were gagging and choking on thick green smoke.

Something bellowed, “Who make stink?” — I didn’t see what. One of the bugbears tried to get out of the cloud, bumped into Ezekiel, and promptly got bit by Cuddles…but the rest of them seemed to be keeping their distance.

By the time Lydia dispelled the cloud, there were no enemies to be seen. Continue reading