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Dear Diary….I am useful for various reasons

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

We returned to the hallway with all the dead bodies (still haven’t had time to put them somewhere out of the way!) and took the passage that slanted north-east. It connects up with the corridor that runs past the harpy room and the hexagonal throne room and those other places we explored on our very first trip here…as predicted by my map.

[brief sketch]

Ezekiel, however, was convinced that there must be something more here — that the angle of the junction was wrong or something, so there must be a secret door somewhere.

Even though he and Wonillon and Raven all looked for a door without finding it, Ez wouldn’t give up, and had Yeti hit the wall with his hammer. Sure enough, he found a section that rang hollow — and the two of them followed the passage behind until it ended. Yeti thinks, from the angles, that it probably leads to the library. He says it doesn’t feel like the floor slopes, so the passages should match up (and Wonillon said he was pretty tall to be able to tell that. Maybe when you’re closer to the ground, it’s easier to feel the ground? Yeti says it’s a gift from Ulaa).

This cult sure likes their secret passages…but I guess that makes sense, as it saves you steps in getting from here to there.

There were some rooms on the west end of the Temple we needed to fully explore (where Ezekiel and Yeti tried to chase down all those ghasts, and I was very nervous to be defending all our rescued prisoners without an undead-powerhouse).

On the way there, we passed through the corridor covered in bones – and Mikael reminded Ezekiel to keep his eyes on his surroundings, and to not get distracted by things on the ground like last time.

Apparently Ez was paying attention, because he noticed a crack or narrow doorway in the north wall – sort of across from the main passage to the south, and right in the middle of the bones.

It’s only about four feet by two feet, and seems to have sunk into the floor a bit (unless that’s part of the design). By hanging onto Raven and shining a light inside, Ez could tell us that there’s a deep shaft inside – so deep the light can’t reach the bottom. A narrow ledge spirals around the edge of the shaft – up and down – and it’s a good distance across, so Corby could probably fly in there if needed.

We have plenty of options for exploring it (Raven could climb the ledge, we could use the Rope of Climbing, Lydia could memorize some different spells) but we’re not ready to do that yet.

Wonder what it’s used for…a garbage disposal? Maybe it’s a secret access point from the Temple above to the lower levels? Ezekiel was amazed that we hadn’t seen the pit from upstairs, but after all, we didn’t really do much exploration up there…and besides, the top end might be hidden inside an altar or something.

We continued to the west end, past the prison, and into the room where Ez and Yeti gave up on the ghasts.

Just as they told us, there’s a hideous bas relief of some monstrous head – it looks like a flat-face on the front of a mushroom – plus a broken altar and lots of impish creatures drawn dancing around the walls.

There were no undead there, though.

We made our way through the three rooms to the north – double-checking that Ezekiel and Yeti found all the loot there (it very much stinks of ghoul)…and found a hole in the floor under a barrel that had some money in it.

Other than that, they seem to have found everything.

The altar room has a second door to the west. Beyond it is a long “corridor” that merges into a long, narrow room. It must have been a banquet room of some kind, with broken tables and trestles everywhere, shreds of tapestries and drapes hanging from the walls, and an old kitchen on one end. There’s even a fireplace big enough to roast a whole ox.

There are also bones and skeletons all over the floor, even underneath the furniture…we assume most of them are from the attack ten years ago, although an ogre skeleton in the kitchen seems to be wearing clothing that’s not that old (from the deterioration, not from the fashion).

As soon as we stepped into the kitchen area, a giant, hooded snake slid out of the fireplace and made a pass at Ezekiel – but Mikael stepped between them and started swaying and singing to it.

It must have liked that, since it started swaying, too.

By the time the rest of us were done investigating the storage closets (one for food, one for dishes – nothing worth salvaging), Mikael was rubbing the snake’s head, and it had folded up its hood.

He says its name is Cuddles. Why not.

Raven gave Cuddles one of our rations.

Wonillon thought the door to the east was trapped, but we opened it with no trouble, and found ourselves back in the main corridor.

We still had a little bit to fill out in our map, so we headed north, through the barracks, past the turn to the torture room, and to the hallway that wraps around the dirt-sanctuary (where the elementals were).

That hallway heads south and joins up with the corridor from the other side – where both of them funnel into a staircase that leads further down.

As Raven described to us before, there are paintings on the walls – captives, of all kinds of races, suffering death from water, wind, and fire. There are cressets for torches here, but they aren’t lit…yet the images seem to have a fiery glow when you look at them.

It makes my skin crawl.

Ezekiel is saving the dirt-sactuary for tomorrow, so there was only one more loose end to tie up: the door painted over with runes in the north-east corner of the Temple.

We found the door without any trouble (my map is pretty good, if I say so myself. And also it was a straight-forward route). Lydia thinks the runes are Runes of Warding, and Wonillon volunteered to try picking the lock.

It didn’t end too well. No sooner did he touch it, than his whole body frosted over with ice and he fell to the ground – thunk. (I’m glad he didn’t crack when he fell!)

Mikael jumped forward and managed to bring him around, but he was still shivery and weak, and we decided to help him back to Cleric Romag’s quarters and call it a night.

It was nice to have nice surroundings for once, and Raven prepared an absolutely amazing dinner with cheese and biscuits. (I guess that Monk training taught him a thing or two!)

It’s also nice being somewhere that we can barricade ourselves into and lock the doors. I’m hoping for a nice, quiet watch so Wonillon and the others can get a solid night of rest. After all, we started out pretty early today.

Also my shoulder is a little stiff.

****

Breakfast was biscuits from the barrel in the barracks. The healers (Mikael and Yeti) did their work to get the most injured of us more on our feet.

Raven marked the spots in the dirt where we (meaning Mikael) had noticed the magical glow, so it was no problem to find them.

According to Ezekiel’s plan, he, Yeti, Raven, and Wonillon dug in one of the spots (a couple yards off the corner of the altar-platform) while the rest of us stayed in the doorway by the curtain and watched for danger.

In the first spot, they dug up a lot of gold, and a potion. Ezekiel thinks it’s a Potion of Diminution. (Wonillon said, “Ah, so a potion of attractiveness?”)

For the second spot (on an angle from another corner of the platform) we had to move to the other doorway. The curtain was pulled back, so we had a clear view of the digging party.

We’ve been very lucky to not encounter any enemies lately, but the place isn’t completely deserted. While standing guard, I heard footsteps, and turned to find five shambling, blue-as-death figures coming toward us.

I told the others to run for Ezekiel, and loosed an arrow into one of the figures (got it through the chest, but of course that only slowed it down a little).

Lydia’s magic lion appeared beside me – but then one of the front ghouls reached me and clawed at me. He got his teeth into me (which is so very gross) and all my muscles went stiff.

I heard Simba growling, and Heiron tells me he took down a ghoul with his arrows (practice pays off, apparently) but everything is fuzzy until I sat up in the little dressing room at the south end of the dirt-sanctuary (the party had moved down there so the diggers could work on another corner of the altar).

Simba was still lying rigid beside us, but Ezekiel says Lydia ran down to get him, and he dusted the remaining undead.

I think my plan worked pretty well – Lydia is faster than you might think, and we held them off so they didn’t pursue her (I as juicy live bait, Heiron as an archer). That’s why we have a party, after all. I’m not sure the others are convinced, though.

The diggers found a load of platinum and a suit of ringmail that Mikael confirmed is magical. Another spot had a small bag of gems and a magic morning star, and the last place had a magical ring, magical rope, a leather case holding a magical wand, and a brass box containing three bottles of “Keoghtom’s Ointment from Mother Streng’s Herb Shop.”

I think this is just perfect, since she was suggested to us as a possible aide to our investigations…and now we get her goods for free (assuming they’re the genuine article). Raven says he saw some of this while he was buying healing potions in Verbobanc, and it apparently draws out or neutralizes poison, cures diseases, heals wounds, and other amazing things. And you apply it on the skin, so the subject doesn’t even need to be conscious!

Yeti used his paladin-y stuff to sniff for Evil, and he says the items are “clean.” We speculate that they were buried as offerings to the Earth…powers…So since we killed the Earth Elementals anyway, now they are ours!

We think the ring is for Protection, so we gave it to Lydia – since Mikael and Raven already have their own. She got the wand, too, since she’s pretty much the only one who can use it (Raven suggested Wonillon might be able to use it, but that might be a stereotype) and I have the rope in the bag of holding because of course you can never have too much rope.

Now we just have to decide if we’re going back to town before descending to the next level. My ghoul bites are smarting, but I’m not a whiner and can deal with it. We will at least wait until Mikael has a chance to reload his spells.

(By the way, I’m happy to report that Corby no longer looks at Cuddles like she wants to peck out his eyes. Hopefully they can figure out how to be friends…after all, Mikael is their mutual Best Friend. I am a little worried about keeping a snake that big fed, though.)


Find the previous entry here.

Read the start of the Temple exploration here.

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Dear Diary….food and floorplans

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

Mikael healed Ezekiel while the rest of us organized the loot from our fallen enemies.

Many of the men had bronzed plate mail, with bronze rings that had a triangular setting of jet. Several others had brown surcoats with the black triangular device on it, or medallions with a black triangle. It certainly seems like we’ve cleared out most of the Earth Temple people.

We didn’t find much else of interest (all their gear is pretty basic quality) except for a javelin that Ezekiel thinks will shoot lightening or something (technically he says it’ll turn into a lightening bolt if we throw it at someone, but none of us are really experienced at javelins. Still, it should be worth some cash).

The fight took us north into the corridor with our opponents, so we continued exploring from there. (Should I hide the bodies somewhere so they aren’t gobbled up by ghouls? See when we have time for that…)

A door opened east into some quarters…the first four bunks were obviously for officers of some kind; each cot had a chest, and each chest had a leather ceremonial harness with a bronze dagger…probably for sacrificing people!

We also found a note: “Remember to check Augury Chamber to see if Belstro was lying.”

Unfortunately, we have no idea who Belstro is, or what he said, so it doesn’t really matter to us if he was lying. I suppose it doesn’t matter to the owner of the note anymore, either. Maybe Belstro is from one of the lower temples?

The rest of the barracks room held bunks and footlockers for the grunts, a fountain for water (Raven thought it smelled funny, but Lydia said it was probably all right, so he replenished water skins). He also found some dried apples and hard biscuits, so we now have enough rations to stay down here a little longer. (I trust the horses are taking care of themselves on the surface…)

They also stored buckets of weapons in their barracks (good to have spares, I guess) and more torches (so I should have plenty if I want to restock my supply).

A door on the south led out into the corridor below the gnolls’ barracks — in fact, the door right across the way leads to the gnoll room where we spent the night (still blocked by the quadruple-crossbow on the other side, of course).

[sketch of rooms]

If we had come up that corridor, it could have been a very different story, with the crossbow firing down on us through the slit in the wall, and men and gnolls charging us from each side. But of course, it’s not our style to use the front door for anything. (Ezekiel even makes me use the back door of the Welcome Wench because he has some delusion that our enemies don’t know I’m alive again.)

Well, that connected our map there, so we returned to the corridor of battle and went through a door to the north.

The walls were plastered, and benches and stools stood around. A lantern was lit, placed to shine on the wall where we entered. Eyebolts held a wire that ran along the west wall and ran into a hole in the north wall…some kind of signal or alarm? With any luck, no one is around anymore to hear if we trip the alarm.

There were four more bunkbeds here (personal effects, nothing interesting) and a barricade across the opening where the first room ran into the next room.

Oh – a hand-ax hung on a peg on the wall…clearly its owner didn’t bother to grab it before charging into battle. I’m feeling much better about axes than I used to (practice is everything), but it’s not like I’m running short of weapons. (Master Otis says it uses the same muscles as the blacksmith hammer.)

The room beyond the barricade was some kind of dining room, with a big table and benches, and tapestries and paintings on the walls.

The paintings all seem to be decadent drinking and debauching (Raven says he’s not sure debauching is a word — but that’s what you get in a Chaotic temple. It could be quite an education if we had any interest in looking at the pictures).

There are also barrels of water, beer, and biscuits here – so Raven can restock our supplies as much as he wants. There were also some big sausages hanging around, and a small round of cheese – but he only took the cheese.

It seems a pretty good place to camp out, with doors we can lock, and a barricade we can hide behind – and beds and padded armchairs for some real class for once.

There is a door to the north, sheathed in bronze, that we couldn’t get open…it seems to be barred from the other side. We think it’s Romag’s suite, which means the chances are pretty low anyone will come through there (they’d have to go in the secret door, then unbolt this door…and if they haven’t done it already, they’re unlikely to now).

We did find a locked chest that Wonillon was able to open (racial skills sure are nice, am I right?) and it contained some clothes, some brandy, rope, and a potion (looks like a healing potion).

The brandy might be worth something, and you can always use more rope…and Ezekiel suggested Wonillon carry the healing potion, because it never hurts to have options while in battle.

Can’t believe the morning is only half-gone. A snack break was just the thing – I needed to stretch…my bow fingers.

We’ve still got some blank spots on the map to fill in (might need to adjust some of these dimensions to make everything fit) and Ezekiel wants to dig up whatever’s in the Earth Elemental “sanctuary” tomorrow before we leave.

[sketch of immediate area]


Find the previous entry here.

Read the start of the Temple exploration here.

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Dear Diary….the whole rest of the party

We opened a door in the east of the corridor, and discovered an ogre preparing to come out. That’s as far as he got, though, as my arrow caught him through the throat and he fell backward with a shocked look in his eyes.

He wore a copper belt with a purse, and the room beyond was obviously living quaters…with cracked plaster walls, a some couches pushed together to make a huge bed, and a large cheese and sausage on a table. (Raven took the cheese.) There was also another store of weapons here…as long as the Temple had hands to wield them, they’d have plenty of weapons for defense – or attack.

Raven found a chest under the table, and Ezekiel found the key on the ogre. It had a decent amount of gold, along with two agates (I don’t think they’re magical).

A door to the south led into yet another room (it’s the theme around here), and I spotted a gnoll and fired an arrow into him. Corby flapped past us to get at their eyeballs, and Yeti threw his hammer.

There were probably a half-dozen or so in that room, which had a big fireplace along one wall, a keg, a bed, and other furniture – trashed and broken from its former glory.

Heiron took out two of the gnolls himself.

While Ezekiel was inspecting the fireplace, Raven went exploring around the corner of the room, and found some more gnolls. I killed one, while Mikael lit up the others with faery fire. I saw Corby flap past with a strip of gnoll flesh in her beak.

(Heiron missed a couple shots in a row, so I guess he is only human after all. Makes me feel a bit better.)

Wonillon caught one in the ribs with a dagger (made me feel uncomfortable to watch him for some undefined reason).

As Ezekiel and I mopped up the last of them (probably a dozen or so altogether) I noticed a bugbear among them.

Mikael and Yeti did their healing magic while I recovered some arrows and took what money the enemies had on them.

It seems this room used to be a reception or council room – though now it’s full of pallets for gnolls. A fountain stands in the corner to provide a trickle of water, and a distressed sideboard would support meals for the barracks.

There’s also a fascinating quadruple crossbow (it’s not quite a ballista) that was aimed through a peephole in one wall to fire down the hallway toward the from of the Temple (the hallway on the other side of where we entered. We seem incapable of finding anything except the back-doors).

It was getting towards evening, so we decided we might as well hunker down. There’s a stack of wood that provided nicely to make a fire – and it works out that we used it, because Wonillon found a pile of money stuffed into a hollow log over there (does he have some kind of gnomish gold-detection? He seems really good at this).

We set watches for the night, and Ezekiel really, really wanted to have Lydia watch with him, despite her being a spell-caster and a girl and needing her rest.

I guess he should be old enough to take care of himself…just makes me suspicious, is all.

We have blocked the doors to keep things peaceful.

****

Something told me it was very early…but we were all awake, and felt rested. And besides, it’s always twilight down here, so it doesn’t matter much.

After some discussion, we decided to go check out the pile of bones – leaving the hallway out the east door of the gnoll-barracks for later.

Wonillon took a gear from the quadruple-crossbow, so that no one could (easily) use it against us.

Back in the wide corridor, right before I killed the ogre with one shot, we headed north. The passage is about twenty feet wide – and a huge section of it is covered with bones…human and humanoid, broken and gnawed on, mixed with broken weapons, armor, shields, and helmets.

Someone estimated that between one and two hundred people died there.

The passage T-ed to the east and west, and as we advanced we had to pick our way between bones – or just crunch them underfoot.

“Anyone see any cheese?” asked Raven – but of course I couldn’t look for that while I was keeping an eye on the ceiling, and the floor, and the walls, and the bones, and the shadows where enemies might try to advance on us from.

Ezekiel had his holy symbol in his hand, but then he bent down to examine something I guess, because then half-a-dozen gnoll skeletons came shuffling toward us – clack, clatter, clack (I didn’t see if they just rose up out of the pile, or if they came around the corner).

Corby cocked her head and looked at them, as though she didn’t see the point of enemies that didn’t have eyeballs.

Yeti shattered one with his hammer into little fragments – and Raven smacked one so hard it staggered backward and stared at him with a stunned look in its…eye sockets?

Mikael poked Ezekiel in the back so that Ez stood up again and waved his sheep symbol at them (and ordering them to turn into dust, which they did).

Some more were coming up from behind us (I guess they didn’t see his symbol?) and Wonillon stabbed one – but a dagger doesn’t have much to slice and poke when it’s all bones.

Yeti threw his hammer and shattered another one to dust (I saw one try to claw at him, but it couldn’t get close enough to hurt him).

When the last skeleton turned to dust, Ezekiel handed me the thing he found — it’s an arrow with a silver tip. Apparently it might be useful against devils (though not demons maybe?) so I’ll keep it for emergencies.

Then Ezekiel (being Ezekiel) held up his holy symbol and yelled, “Anyone else?”

It seems like immediately after that, we heard the jingle of armor and pounding of footsteps, and we could see a whole crowd of men heading down a hallway to join us up ahead.

I got an arrow into one, and then Lydia threw an egg into the hallway with them.

As the green cloud spread, Raven ran to the edge of it and held up his magic ring. Blue sparks filled the hallway, and the men screamed as a whole bunch of them fell down – dead.

I nailed a couple more with arrows while they were trapped in the cloud.

Raven batted a crossbow bolt out of the air before it could hit him, and Ezekiel planted his plate-mail self in front of me to block any missiles he could.

Lydia called out her magic lion, and Raven threw a dagger and got one in the joint of his armor.

Herion did very well for himself – sniping down one enemy and wounding another – but then someone got him with a javelin and, magic chainmail or no magic chainmail, you can’t fight with your insides rearranged.

Mikael didn’t hesitate, but jumped right in and started to heal him, while Raven tried to catch any javelins that were thrown at them (he didn’t do so well all the time).

One of the guards rolled a barrel down toward us, and Ezekiel charged into the cloud to kick it. It spun around, spraying oil everywhere (including on Ez), but it stopped rolling toward us, and he staggered back out again without needing a rescue.

Since they couldn’t really fight at range, Raven took Ezekiel behind the cover of the wall to the side of the hallway, and Lydia ducked into safety on the other side (but not before a missile caught her).

Yeti threw his hammer so hard it smashed through several fighters with one swing – and it’s so very cool that it comes back to him when he throws it. Raven should get some daggers that do that.

Raven dumped a waterskin over Ezekiel to help dilute the oil.

As soon as the cloud dissipated, Corby swept in to attack (I guess she was ready for some eyeballs?) – as did someone from the other side, who charged Yeti. Didn’t do him much good, as Lydia’s Simba mauled him pretty good.

Ezekiel yelled and charged, knocking a guy so hard I heard the “gong” on my end of the hall.

Wonillon, Yeti, and Raven also rushed forward – since they finally had a path for their melee weapons – and took out their opponents.

By that point, I was feeling frustrated (maybe seeing all my friends get hurt so much, and not killing the enemy quickly enough) that I switched to my sword to finish the job. As I ran past, I saw Yeti “laying hands” on Corby with a soft magic glow.

After that, it was…messy…but quick. Yeti and I each took out three while Wonillon and Simba were taking out two – and Raven took out one.

Ezekiel bashed some blonde, ax-wielding chick with his mace, and purple lightening sparked everywhere.

As Yeti bounced his hammer against one guy’s head into another guy, the last two bowmen fled to try to get range for their shots. Simba and I didn’t let them do that, though, and chased them down while Wonillon was knifing the final leader.

I counted forty-four bodies in all. (Ezekiel sure knows how to ask, doesn’t he.)

It may sound different on a page, but I much prefer fighting gnolls and bugbears and orcs and hobgoblins and ogres.

These are ordinary humans like me. They ought to be serving Good deities, and living Good, normal lives.

Instead they’re kidnapping villagers to sacrifice to Earth Elementals and stuff. And stripping ladies before feeding them to undead…

Gotta keep it in perspective. It’s still not tidy or painless, but it needs doing.


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple exploration here.

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The Blonde in Room 128

Todd checked over his shoulder both ways so no one would see him at the alleyway entrance. So far, his buddy at work had been correct.

The address appeared to be an apartment building with heavy curtains in all the windows.

He drew a long breath, winced at the shooting pain in his temple, and checked the surroundings once more before heading inside.

The small lobby was empty except for a guy behind a desk at the far end, like in a motel.

Todd swallowed again and crossed the room.

The attendant looked up as he approached, but said nothing.

Todd felt like a fool, but his wife had insisted he come here. He swallowed again and tried to smile.

“Hi, I’d like a – an appointment,” he said.

“Right,” said the attendant, opening a big ledger in a blue three-ring binder. “What’s your pleasure?”

Todd double-checked the little brochure his work-buddy had given him…the one with head-shots of a dozen attractive young ladies.

“I’d like a – uh – blonde? With a…pretty face.”

He felt stupid saying it, but that’s the way it worked – according to the brochure.

“Right,” said the attendant again. “That’s $200 up front.”

Todd pulled out his wallet, and wiped his hands on the front of his shirt so he could pull out the cash.

The attendant took the money and slipped it into a little metal cash-box.

“Down the hall, room 128. Wait there.”

And with that the man pulled out a copy of New England Journal of Medicine and ignored him.

Todd shuffled down the hall. At least it was well-lit. Strange thumps and hums came from behind the closed doors.

At number 128, he hesitated…but he was committed now. Stroking his throbbing temple again, he slipped in and closed the door behind him.

A bright fluorescent white bathed the whole room, where a spotless white table the size of a gurney stood in the middle of the room – in front of an enormous white machine like a giant donut. It looked just like the photos on the internet.

Behind a curtain in the corner, Todd changed into the hospital gown he found in a plastic package on top of the table…then stood watching the machine, rubbing his head and licking his lips.

There was a knock on the door, immediately followed by a young man in a long white lab coat. Todd noted, with a desperate instinct to find humor in the situation, that the young man was blond.

“Head trouble, eh?” said the stranger, making straight to the LCD screen on the side of the machine.

“I got a sudden headache last weekend,” said Todd, tip-toeing up to the table. “My wife thought I should get it checked out, so I went down to our local medical clinic.”

The young man tapped away at the screen, and Todd licked his lips.

“They told me I should get an MRI scan, but the wait time would be –“

“Let me guess,” said the man in the lab coat. “Three months.”

“Five, actually,” said Todd.

“Ha! I’ve heard six months to a year. Colonoscopies are even worse.”

Todd licked his lips again. “Are you a doctor?”

“Nah, I just run the machine.” The stranger gestured at the table. “Take a load off. When we’re done, it’ll take fifteen minutes or so to load your results on a CD…and then you do whatever you want with it. If you want a doc to give his opinion, that’s another 150, and you have to come back in a couple days; we’ll give you the CD with a doctor’s notes.”

Todd lay down on the table. The stranger flicked a switch, and the whole platform started moving, until his head was inside the hole of the donut.

“A-Aren’t you afraid I’ll turn you in?” he asked, just to make conversation.

“Do you want to do that, or do you want an MRI?” asked the technician with a chuckle. “Think about it — you can either get us for practicing private medicine…or you can actually get the benefit of our services.”

“And you have real, registered doctors who work with you, too?” asked Todd.

“Face it: the National Medical System doesn’t pay peanuts. Plenty of qualified, university-trained diagnosticians are happy to make a little extra analyzing test results.”

“And if they’re wrong, the patient can’t complain — we don’t know who the doctor is, and we can’t admit where we got the test.”

The technician peeked into the donut and smiled. “You wanna live dangerously? Or you want to wait a year for an X-ray? By that time, if it’s cancer or an aneurism or something, you might be dead anyway.”

Todd held up his hand, anything to delay the strange machine from making noises. “What do you get out of it?”

The technician shrugged. “A little pocket change – and I get to make a difference in people’s lives. I actually run an ultrasound machine in normal life, but the pay – plus the regulations – are murder.”

He patted the machine. “Right, I’m going to warm up our lovely Blondie here. There’ll be a humming noise, but you won’t feel a thing. Just take it easy –“ He grinned. “Blondie will treat you well.”


The Blonde in Room 128 — 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. 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 a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates of her latest reading and writing adventures.

Dear Diary….what I’m made for

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

The corridor to the west split – south and north. We headed south first, and a doorway branched down to two little rooms. They might have been kitchens at some point, but now they’re full of garbage and disgusting.

That passage probably joins up with the corridor by the stairs, so we returned to the crossroads to explore the north passage.

It turned to end up in a door…and as soon as Ezekiel opened that, I was hit with a familiar stench – and Ezekiel was hit with gnoll throwing spears.

I must have been distracted so that I missed my first shot…but then Heiran and I shot down a couple gnolls, and Raven smacked one so hard I think its neck broke or something.

Yeti also rushed forward and threw his magic flying hammer to hit a gnoll right in the face.

Yeti, Wonillon, and Corby had moved just into the room, while Ezekiel had charged across the room to engage (since his mace doesn’t have magic flying).

As I stood in the doorway, hunting for a shot, a gnoll in the opposite corner pulled a cord trailing from the ceiling – and a huge net dropped from somewhere above and tangled up the three of us closest to the door.

(That didn’t stop Yeti from shoving his arm through the net and flinging his hammer again and killing a gnoll.)

I didn’t see any more gnolls, so I drew my sword to help get Wonillon out of the net.

Raven had just come to help us when a door opened to the north (almost banging Ezekiel as it did so) and a gnoll threw something.

I didn’t know what it was until it cracked against my head and splashed sticky oil all over me.

Raven dodged an arrow from yet another door to the west, while another gnoll entered from the north and threw a torch or a fire box or something and beaned Wonillon in the head (I guess their throwing wasn’t all that great).

I glimpsed hobgoblins firing arrows from among the gnolls. Raven deflected a thrown ax while Wonillon kept cutting at the net. Lydia asked if we needed an egg, while Heiron nailed another gnoll with an arrow.

Apparently Raven was as frustrated as I was by that time, as he pulled out the magic ring and pointed it at the gnolls blocking the door to the west.

A flash of light, and the gnolls fled, squealing, as sparks covered their bodies. I don’t know what that is, but it looks nasty.

Well, that gave the rest of us a chance to focus on the north door. I swapped my sword for my bow again and took two gnolls through the throat. Ezekiel hit one, and it shriveled and crumbled in a storm of purple lightening.

As Mikael fought the net to get Corby free, I heard heavy thumping footsteps from the room beyond.

No surprise when an ogre appeared, swinging at Ezekiel. Lydia ducked forward and rolled an egg forward to break at its feet.

I don’t think the stench affected him particularly, but it must have distracted him long enough that I could get two arrows into his vulnerable areas and take him out.

Mikael got Corby free of the net in time for her to help Ezekiel and Yeti kill another gnoll and hobgoblin, respectively…although they weren’t alone. I saw a gnoll fly across the room in a way that only an ogre could make happen.

Sure enough, as I moved forward (shooting a hobgoblin as I went) a tree branch came out of nowhere and bashed Yeti in the face.

I fired at the second ogre, but apparently I got him in the flab – since it didn’t seem to hurt him. In fact, both ogres were wearing leather jackets covered with thin bronze plates – so someone had invested in dressing them better than ogres usually are.

Yeti got in a blow on the ogre before I got an arrow through its throat.

When the battle was finally over, I realized that Corby and Raven were both missing. Lydia said they’d run after the fleeing gnolls, so I went into the room to the west to find them (several people followed me).

That room was plain and bare, with a single table and a door to the south.

That door opened into a corridor, where I met Raven just coming back with Corby riding on his shoulders. He said they chased the two fleeing gnolls until they killed them both – one of them making it up the stairs to the Red Temple before they could kill it.

Well, since I knew they were safe, I examined the room a little more closely and found a pile of dirt in the corner – right beside a barrel full of water. Very suspicious…but I couldn’t find anything unusual about the dirt. It must be some kind of religious reagent or something.

(Also found three unlit torches in that room. Why didn’t I grab them? Should remember to do that just in case…)

Meanwhile, Yeti and Ezekiel found a secret room off the one where we killed the ogres…wasn’t too hard, since there was gnoll plastered around the doorway (part of the one the ogre threw, I believe).

This “secret” room used to be pretty nice, with plastered walls and polished brown granite floor. However, now it stinks like ogre (as do the piles of cushions the residents were using for beds).

Ezekiel opened a chest which had a bunch of weapons in it – maces, battle-axes, hand-axes, morning stars, and a couple swords of different lengths.

There were also some barrels (it’s a biggish room) – sour wine, salted fish, and spears…so it’s obvious you could supply several squads from here.

(They also had bows and quivers hanging on the walls, so Heiran and I restocked.)

I looted our fallen enemies as I made my way back to Ezekiel, and Raven found some flasks of lamp oil to give to Lydia (she’s going to have quite a stockpile…hope she doesn’t get any wrong ideas…).

I tried to give Ezekiel the “Rope of Climbing,” since, after all, he puts himself in front more than anyone else, and he’s also obnoxiously heavy in all that armor…so if he were ever to step into a pit (as you do) he’d have that much more edge in getting out. After all, if we can’t get to him right away, a few extra seconds might make all the difference.

But he said he’d be fine, and after all he’s not the only one who goes up front (though you can’t give the rope to multiple people, now, can you?), so although he appreciated the thought he’d have me keep it in the bag of holding.

As Wonillon was wandering around the secret room, he noticed one of the floor tiles was loose – under the barrel of spears. Heiron was able to shift it without any trouble, and underneath the stone was a hole with a bunch of money and a silver bracelet.

With the money from the monsters, and silver chain with carnelian stone one of them was wearing, we’re starting to restore our fortunes (well, those of us who have to pay for things). Which is good, because we’re paying Heiron now (though not much; I can’t believe he went for a few gold a month).

The secret room has a second door leading out – to the east – into a corridor I don’t think we’ve been to before. There’s a pile of bones or something to the north.

Just when I think I have a handle on this place, we find yet another room or hallway or secret door. This is a place of Elemental Evil…do room dimensions even still work the same?

[rough sketch of area]


Find the previous entry here.

Find the start of the Temple adventure here.

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Dear Diary….marshaling our forces

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventures “The Village of Hommlet” and “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

When we left Cleric Romag at the tower last night, Ezekiel took what he thinks is Romag’s holy symbol, so hopefully he can’t use it to cause trouble for anyone.

(We’re letting Heiran wear his special magic chainmail for the time-being, as it’ll help him survive longer while traveling with us, and Raven asked to hang onto the magic mace just in case in came in handy.)

After breakfast, Eze headed to the elder’s house to give a report and request a council meeting so we can get further instructions and advice.

Raven went shopping (he said he wanted more cheese), so I had him buy me more arrows (since Ezekiel still says I shouldn’t wander around town talking to people too much). He also bought arrows for Heiran, since the idea is to train him in bow so we have more ranged options.

Lydia headed out to get all our treasure appraised and converted, and as she didn’t seem to want my help (see above) I took Heiran to the back yard to go over the basics.

He’s not exactly a fast learner, but once he gets something down, he really gets it.

(Oh, and he almost snapped the practice bow we had. Have to think about this…)

****

Ezekiel and Raven were back by the time Lydia was, so we divvied up the treasure.

Eze says there’s a meeting in one week at the chapel of St. Cuthbert.

He also said he wanted to trade/sell the two scrolls we found to the chapel (since we don’t have much use for “Protection from Earth Elementals” and “Animate Dead”) and someone (I don’t remember who) said that if we were turning the scrolls into cash, then we should divvy that up, too.

Well that took a little while, but when we were done, Ezekiel kept counting his share over and over– but the number he kept getting wasn’t what he wanted (in my limited knowledge of clerical fees and book costs and such, I can see why).

I still haven’t paid him back for what he spent to get me raised, and I was kind of waiting for him to say something (especially since it was my own dumb fault for being murdered)…but then he started talking about how important it would be for me to work out this week, and maybe find someone to teach me new techniques.

I don’t know where I would find someone like that, since Elmo said he’d pretty much taught me all he knows, but maybe he knows someone else.

Yeti and Ezekiel say they can handle getting the ladies back to the Chron Hills, so it’s not like I have to worry about that, either.

****

Turns out Elmo did know someone.

We headed for the chapel this evening for the meeting. I think Canon Turjon had done something “spiritual” to the building…it felt “safe” to be there, like no one would be eavesdropping on us.

Everyone was there, from Druid Master Geru to the constable to Masters Rufus and Bern from the tower, even the “smith” from Nulb – who introduced himself to the others as Otis.

Ezekiel gave the long and the short of the whole matter: we went to investigate as requested…the Temple has been reopened, and a large section of the Chaotic Earth Temple are cleaned up…sacrifices seem to be underway.

He showed them the brooch that interested him so much, and though Lord Otis didn’t know the individual it belonged to, we all agreed that losing a Knight of Veluna and of the Hart was a bad thing.

The elder pointed out that Furiundy has its own problems to deal with (what with the Prince disappearing and all) and You Know Who making trouble on their northern border, so we can’t expect much help from them. However, Sir Rufus has sent to Veluna for professionals to give us advice and training as we advance through the Temple.

Because Ezekiel made it clear we’re “declaring war” on the Temple…we’re not in stealth mode anymore (which is fine, since that’s not our strong suit) but we’re heading in to clear them out for good.

For Good!

Everyone expressed their moral support – and Otis the “smith” revealed that when we saw his smithy burning, that was actually on purpose! He says one of the scouts had noticed we were having “difficulties,” and that we might benefit from a diversion as we passed through Nulb. (Oh, the adrenaline hang-over I had that day.)

Just goes to show they’ve had our back longer than we realized.

They suggested we visit Old Lady Edai if we need healing supplies, and Otis invited us to visit the smithy in Nulb – although he warned us that he has an assistant who seems too nosy that is natural.

Oh, yes – and Canon Turjon took a look at Ezekiel’s mace had found it very interesting…he says there’s some kind of “spell charge” on it, and would be interested in checking it out with Ezekiel some time when we’re back in town. That should cheer him up.

We’ll visit the blacksmith here in Hommlet before we leave again, to see if we can get a good, sturdy bow for Heiran…I see he’s kept up with the drills I taught him while I was gone, and a stronger bow would help the arrows hit a little harder. We’ll see.

****

Bought rations and returned to Temple with no issues (Wonillon the Gnome and Heiran riding in the cart).

This time we descended by the red stairs in the south-west nave – the same staircase we came up when we had all our prisoners. The first right turn brought us smack against an ogre, which Yeti and I took down from a distance. (That magic boomerang hammer of his is really coming in handy!)

That corridor led to two opposite rooms, which both looked like they used to be armories – with weapons racks, pegs on the walls for shields, etc.

One of them was littered with the skeletons of humans and gnolls – I assume from ten years ago.

While the party was investigating the second armory, an ogre came up from behind us, and Heiran and I shot it to death (I took more arrows to do it, but at least I got it through the eye. Heiran has really seemed to grasp the basics so far).

Meanwhile, Wonillon had noticed something and called for a “tall person” (which would not be me).

Something shiny sat on an arch – and the ceilings were high, so it was at least ten feet up.

Raven climbed up and found it was a crossbow bolt…possibly magical, with how much care went into making it. (He also found lots of cobwebs, but nothing worse.) So Yeti has it for now for his crossbow.

Continuing down the main corridor to the east, we found a passage to the left that ended in huge bronze doors covered with carvings or moldings of ugly faces.

There were also two openings to either side, which Wonillon and Yeti told us sloped gradually down.

After some discussion, we went far enough to confirm that they led to another floor entirely, before returning to the main corridor so we could finish clearing the Earth Temple.

(We also glimpsed what I’m pretty sure is a hydra…though it didn’t seem too interested in us, I’m not looking forward to fighting it.)

Not far along, we found the green stairs where we descended the very first time. It seems the two staircases are mirrored along this corridor, since there’s also a short passage to the south that branches off into two armories.

There were bones here, too, and Ezekiel pointed out teeth marks on some of them. Ghouls, probably (which I hate, by the way).

Raven and I checked the second room while the others were busy looking for secret passages, and found a quiver with seventeen arrows that looked useable.

We then went north, past the harpy room (smells like something else died in there recently…or maybe just the ghouls have been busy).

The passage across from that door led west. We ignored a branch on the right for the moment and took a turn to the left, which twisted around to a rickety door…which reeked like nothing I’d ever smelled, by the way. We could even smell it partway down the passage, and if I could imagine a smell between the gnoll latrine and something rotting, that’d be about it.

Wonillon pointed out a large rat hole chewed in the edge of the door, so we stood by with our weapons while Raven opened the door…but didn’t see anything living. In fact, what we did see was a lot of garbage and unidentifiable mess.

No one seemed interested in digging through that mess, so we returned to the west-leading passage.

These corridors all have to meet up at some point, but if it weren’t for the map I’ve sketched (and copied to a big parchment while we were in town) I’d be totally lost.

I still wonder sometimes where we’re going…but fortunately we just have one goal.

Kill everything (unless it’s obviously a kidnapped civilian).

(Ezekiel and Yeti are done poring over the map now. Let’s see what we find next.)


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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“Eight Cousins” by Louisa May Alcott

"Eight Cousins" by Louisa May Alcott — Kimia Wood My tattered paperback attests that this simple classic was my absolute favorite book at the age of twelve.

Revisiting it a full fifteen years later not only brings fresh perspective on the situations and characters I once adored, but confirms that this “Young Adult” novel is one for the ages!

Seven Boys and a Girl

Rose Campbell has recently lost her father, and so is forced to move in with her great-aunts on the “Aunt Hill,” where the whole of her large extended family is eager to meet her.

But all seven of her cousins are boys! Oh, what is a poor, sheltered little flower to do?

Worst of all, when her new guardian – her uncle Dr. Alec – shows up, he turns out to be so eccentric that he wants her to run (the un-lady-like horror)…to wear loose-fitting scarves and dresses of bright colors (not the belt that held in her petite waist)…to eat plenty of healthy, wholesome food…to work with her hands…and overall to fill out her small frame, rosy up her cheeks, and draw her out of herself so that she can become the healthy, confident, caring young woman she was meant to be. Continue reading

Dear Diary….fresh air at last

The others were having their own adventures while we were busy with the barracks.

Yeti, Mikael, and Raven came across a group of ghouls that attacked them…but, of course, they couldn’t get near Yeti, so their ability to attack was limited.

Apparently that doesn’t work if you palm-punch them, which Raven did, and then couldn’t move. The ghoul was also stunned by his attack, though, which made it an open target for Yeti – and after it was killed, Raven was able to use his spear to help Yeti and Mikael kill the others.

They found everything quiet in the cleric’s apartments (entering by the secret door again to avoid disturbing the guards), and came back with Cleric Romag’s chainmail and mace (which Mikael had previously told us were magical).

They also fit most of the money into the bag of holding, and untied Romag’s legs so he could walk himself out (not his mouth, though, since we’ve learned our lesson).

Meanwhile, Ezekiel removed the Jailor’s chainmail (since he won’t need it anyway), and gave it to the man we rescued from the rack (his name is Heiran Karreneth).

I admit it was awkward, standing around in the hallway trying to make conversation with two orcs and a bugbear standing there…but eventually we heard something coming down the hall, and we could see the light of Yeti’s shield shining as the rest of our party came closer.

We heard growling and gurgling, too, and saw two ghouls following them – though they couldn’t get close enough to be dangerous because they didn’t want to get near Yeti.

I turned to Ezekiel to let him deal with them, but he was staring off into space with a kind of vague smile on his face.

It didn’t look like anyone had stabbed him with a poisoned needle or something, so I told Lydia to hold things together while I shot the ghouls.

Heh…hmm…So I shot one of them through the throat, but after winging the other one, it got smart or something and I spent four arrows without doing any damage.

Raven apparently got tired of watching me humiliate myself, and skewered the ghoul to the wall with a single thrust of his spear.

With that dealt with, I could tell everyone that I’d noticed a secret door in the wall (maybe that’s why I kept missing my shots? I was distracted?) so while Lydia slapped Ezekiel until he shook his head and started talking again, Raven checked it and opened it with his spear.

We put Mikael in charge of Romag (the orcs and bugbear seemed to be behaving themselves), so Ezekiel and Raven headed in to check the passage (although I thought time was getting on and we should rescue what prisoners might remain).

Well, I guess I was wrong, because when they came back, they had some gnome-sized leather armor, backpack, and a short sword.

They say there are iron doors leading into the backs of the cells where we found zombies, and another secret door to the bugbears’ guard-room. There’s also a room behind a curtain that we assume is the Jailor’s quarters – especially since we found the gnome’s gear there – where Ezekiel opened an iron chest (first by bashing it with his mace before he realized he had the Jailor’s keys) and found a bucket-load more money. (Also a couple potions that they both think are for healing.)

They also brought back a couple little flasks of oil for Lydia, and we waited while the gnome put his gear back on (his name is Wonillon, and he says he came into the Temple for treasure and profit. He got more trouble than he reckoned on, but he’d be willing to return with us if there was adventuring to do).

(About that point, Raven’s pet bugbear complained it was typical racism for us to give the gnome and the human prisoner stuff, but him nothing…so Mikael cast Cure Light Wounds on him, and then he said, “Thank you.” So I guess it’s just as well I didn’t point out that he and his pals had imprisoned the others. He did give us credit for what we did give him, which I guess is pretty broad-minded of a bugbear.)

So the bugbear directed us to the right corridor to get to the cells – through the barracks, past the pit with the water in it, and west.

A couple ghouls came up on us, but Ezekiel turned them into dust (good to have him paying attention again), and the bugbear said, “You’re going to want to use that trick again, around the corner to the left.”

Sure enough, we passed through a door into another corridor, and we could smell the filth and rot of something vile. Ezekiel advanced with his holy symbol, and some pale, ugly creatures came at us through a doorway to the west (I gather they were ghasts, since they looked a little different, and they didn’t turn straight to dust at the sight of Ezekiel’s sheep).

One of them got too close to Ezekiel, and he brought his mace down on it – there was a flash of light, and a crackling sound or something, and the ghast crumbled into dust and ash. It was hard to see from all the way in the back, but I think the eyes of the ram on his mace – and that rune on its forehead – were both glowing right after he hit it.

Maybe that got him excited or something, because when the ghasts fled back into the room, he charged after them (“charged” as fast as he could), and Yeti and Raven went with him.

I got kind of nervous with both our powerhouses against undead gone at once, but the corridor was quiet. (Very quiet…the orcs and bugbear didn’t seem keen to make conversation with us any more than we were to make it with them. Lydia did talk a little bit with the two women we rescued – reassuring them, I think.)

It felt like hours until the threesome joined us again – although it’s hard to tell down there.

They told us they found several rooms used as undead quarters, including some old “chapel” with a smashed altar and a grotesque bas-relief on the wall (a human-like face with squashed features and a mushroom head…I think whoever carved it must have been on the mushrooms. At least that’s what Raven said).

Ezekiel also found an ivory statuette in a box, a sack of clothing (that was mostly intact and not vile-smelling), and also a locked chest that contained a brooch and a heavy hammer with the symbol of Ula.

Yeti is carrying the hammer of Ula and seems very excited – he says it’s a throwing hammer.

Ezekiel seems worried about the brooch – he says it has the heraldry of Veluna and the Knights of the Hart on it…which to me says someone was captured/killed and plundered by the Evil things here.

They also lugged the chest back so they could dump the money it contained into the bag of holding – which seemed to impress all the prisoners.

We kept going until we reached a cross-road where the bugbear said to go right. He kept shushing us, too, so I did my best to watch all angles at once.

Raven unlocked the door, and he and Yeti went inside. From the hall, I could glimpse a bunch of naked men chained to the walls.

Turns out Ezekiel had a good idea when he grabbed that bag of clothing, so while Raven unchained all the prisoners, Ezekiel arranged outfits for them and helped them dress.

There were two women and six or seven men altogether in that room, and once we had freed and clothed them all, we could head to the nearest stairs (with the bugbear shushing us all the way).

We reached a staircase without meeting anyone, and climbed to what was once a vestry – but is now largely broken up. There’s a broken rondite bowl and ewer, and torn brown garments everywhere.

In the larger “sanctuary” outside, the pillars are sandstone, the floor is red, and there are broken rocks and shards all over the floor.

A bronze chain, manacle, and maul are near the altar, but they’ve all been broken or wrecked in some way.

Well, it was already evening – but we decided to head out. Ezekiel didn’t want to spend any more time in the Temple than necessary, and I agree we didn’t have a good place to hole up – especially with so many people to protect.

The big main doors of the Temple – west and east – were still unlocked, like we’d left them, and we headed out toward the gate where we’d left our horses.

Yeti called for his war horse Syphon, and the whole group appeared – with the dead bodies of some gnolls scattered around them. Clearly Syphon knows how to handle himself, and the herd (which is very good).

The bugbear seemed nervous, but did admit we’d dealt straight with him. Ezekiel gave him the “blessing of the God of gods” and sent him off “in peace.”

The bugbear made some kind of cultural gesture and disappeared into the darkness. (Without a sound. They creep me out, honestly.) He also said he’d remember what we’d done – so I hope that’s a good thing.

We offered to escort the orcs farther away from the Temple, but said they probably didn’t want to come to Homlette with us. They said they’d make do with the flail, and headed out into the woods.

Lydia dismissed her lion Simba, and we headed out – the prisoners all piled into the cart (and sitting on Romag…he had a pretty bad day, all things considered).

Apparently most of the “new arrivals” were from Nulb (the two women were the wife and servant of a merchant, and there were a couple other merchants and men-at-arms). They say they were captured by ghouls and were going to be fed to the undead…I said I’m glad we got there first.

Since we had to go through Nulb anyway, we dropped most of them off – handing out six silver to every person as consolation money.

The three from the torture room were from the Chron Hills, so they continued on with us to the Welcome Wench – as did a sailor captured from Nulb, since he didn’t really have a place to return to right away. (And Homlette has lots of traffic going through, so he should be able to catch a ride to wherever he wants to go.)

We will see what this turn of events brings about in Nulb. I mean, ghouls going around kidnapping people isn’t a good thing.

We talked some more with Wonillon, and it sounds like he’d like to join the group when we return to the Temple. Heiran Karreneth also sounds interested in joining us – maybe after we return the ladies to the Chron Hills, I can show him the basics of archery, since having another ranged weapon in the party would be very useful (not counting Raven’s daggers).

Ezekiel says he has some questions he wants to ask Brother Celmet up at the chapel of St. Cuthbert, and maybe that will give us others time to escort the women home (I mean, we could just send them off with a merchant caravan, but I think it’d be nice to follow through).

Several of us are sleeping late, but we can discuss it more at lunchtime.

Oh, yes, and we will need to meet with the village elder, too. We didn’t have time to give a detailed explanation when we knocked on Master Bern’s tower late last night and handed over Cleric Romag.

I wonder what they will get out of him…?


Find the previous entry here.

Find the start of the Temple adventure here.

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DOs and DON’Ts of Face Masks

It’s 2020, and Face Masks are all the rage.

I’m part of the consumer-elastic and -fabric supply chain, so I know. By the time this is all over, we should have about 500 face masks per capita.

[For future web-surfers, “this” is the COVID-19/coronavirus/Wu Han virus pandemic that paralyzed the world during the first part of 2020.]

And yet…a lot of people seem to be missing the point.

On the one hand, it’s great that people have found something they can do to participate in this pandemic.

On the other hand, is wearing a face mask something we should medically be doing?

When the so-called “experts” keep giving conflicting advice – or changing their minds about what is “best” – it’s easy to not know what to believe.

But you should listen to me. I’m on the internet. You can trust me.

Here, in one place, are some basics on Face Masks…so you can decide for yourself if wearing one is worth it! Continue reading

Dear Diary….we have rescue standards

Securing ourselves wasn’t as hard as we feared. Through the tapestry that the under-cleric had come through, we found a second room – apparently a sitting room of some kind, with dishes of fruit and nuts and stuff like that around. There was also a door on one end of the south wall, which we barred without attracting attention.

While Yeti watched the door, Ezekiel and Lydia took the opportunity to question the over-cleric (his name is Romag).

Lydia asked what poison he used in the chest trap, and he said it’s made from some kind of fungus. Lydia says that poison is very effective…on people who don’t eat cheese.

Raven is feeling better already.

Ezekiel convinced Romag to tell us about the Water Temple (apparently they don’t get along, and he’d be happy to see them topple). He says the duty of the Temple is to bring Chaos – and I guess internal strife feeds right into that…

The Water Chief Cleric is Belsornig, and he has an army of trolls and ogres that he likes to send around and get stuff for him – and show his strength. Apparently, though, he himself is no push-over — and he also has gargoyles and a “construct” of some kind working for him.

We also learned the name of the Chief Cleric at the Fire Temple – Alrin – and Ezekiel says that according to the note we found, apparently Alrin was telling the Earth Temple to show respect to the Water Temple.

(Sounds very hierarchical for a temple of Chaos!)

Well, when we’d learned about all we could, Ezekiel explained to Romag that we couldn’t just let him go, but that we don’t kill prisoners, and that he could be happy the Water Temple would receive judgement.

Then he gagged him and went with Lydia to ransack the apartments.

They just about turned the place upside-down, and among other things, Lydia took some writing parchment from the desk, Ezekiel found a potion and a two-spell scroll in the chest that poisoned Raven, and we discovered another alcove behind the bed where Romag’s armor and official vestments were.

We collected some incense and unguents from the wardrobe in the next room, plus a pile of money. There are plenty of other sundry items that might be useful…but we’ll see if we can take the time to carry them away.

Watch has been nice and quiet so far. Raven is feeling good enough that he’s sitting up, and seems to be mending nicely. He even tried some of the alcohol in the rooms, because of course he did. Says the brandy is better than the white wine.

****

Mikael cast Detect Magic in the morning, and verified that Cleric Romag’s chainmail and mace were magic – and so were the potion and scroll Ezekiel found. And that’s it.

We decided to return to the surface and turn Romag over to Master Bern and the town council, who might be able to get more out of him (and also because we can’t keep him locked up here indefinitely).

Yeti said he could see the guards through the peep-hole in the door we barred – but they were just playing cards, and coming and going, and didn’t seem to realize what was going on in the inner rooms.

Someone mentioned prisoners – and of course we decided that if there were prisoners here, we’d better take them with us. Even if they’d be just fine (could they be sacrificed to evil gods with no clerics around, I wonder?) we didn’t want to risk it.

Raven and Ezekiel went to ask Romag about it, while I equipped the sheaf of arrows Lydia has been carrying for me. I’ll really need to buy more when we get out of here…I seem to go through them somehow.

Well, Raven and Ezekiel apparently let Romag know that we’d already killed the Earth Elementals, and he got really scared and said the earth would be angry at us for “disturbing its treasure.”

He begged us to flee with him, and we said we would as soon as we got the prisoners out…so he told us they were kept across from the Earth chamber, down the opposite hallway. Oh, and that there were more near the “front” of the Temple (apparently we can never come in the front way to anything).

We locked him up in the alcove/closet (with his dead underling) and with Corby to stand guard over him.

As we were passing through the room with the pyramid (the “earth chamber”) Mikael was still under the effect of Detect Magic, and told us there was something “glowing” buried between us and the pyramid.

Raven went and measured how many steps it was from the corner of the pyramid, so we could come back and investigate later. And then Mikael said there was an identical spot on the other side.

Ezekiel says that even if disturbing this “treasure” will lure out a big, evil, magical beast for us to kill…well, we’d better kill it, anyway. He’s so optimistic.

The passageway opposite the one where we entered the pyramid room also circled around and headed south – just like the passage on the other side. We took the first turning we saw, which led us to two doors, one on either side of the hallway.

Raven opened the north one, and found stairs leading down.

He opened the south one, and found a plain room with a table, a cask, mugs, lit torches, chairs, a bench, and several bugbears having a meal.

I nailed one through the throat with my ready arrow, and then Lydia called out her magic lion, and Ezekiel dropped his mace (I’m not sure he meant to do that, though).

One of the bugbears got in a hit on Ezekiel before I could skewer it – but then I shot another one and “Simba” clawed at the last one.

After Yeti pinged it with his hammer, it dropped its weapon and begged for mercy. (He’s wearing a different uniform than the previous bands we’ve met, with a black leather jacket that has a pale brown pattern of two triangles. The others only had one triangle. I wonder if it’s the same triangle as before?)

While Yeti Laid Hands on Ezekiel, he asked the bugbear where the prisoners were, and he said to just keep going down the hallway.

Raven volunteered to be responsible for the bugbear (I’m not really sure about him sometimes) and frog-marched it in front of him while we all continued on.

The corridor turned again, and we found cells lining either side of the passage. We noticed one gnome right away – chained to the wall, bound, and gagged. He’s obviously very dangerous.

Our bugbear said he didn’t have the key – that “the Jailor” would have the key…but that the Jailor was really scary, and he didn’t want to go near him, and that he would probably be in the interrogation room.

At the southern turn of the passage, we found a shut door – and when we got closer, we could hear muffled screams. Ezekiel, assuming this was the place, kicked in the door and charged in (if you can call it “charging” when he’s huffing along in full plate armor).

The rest of us followed, leaving Raven in the corridor to keep an eye on his bugbear pet.

We ran past the usual torture room stuff (like an iron maiden and a cage) and rounded a corner to find a man in chainmail and a bugbear keeping busy with a human tied to the rack.

They couldn’t miss our entrance, though, and turned to face us – the man with a battle-ax, the bugbear with a flail.

I missed my first two shots at the man before Mikael cast faery fire. Then he caught the bugbear with a great Poke of the Wind (while Lydia’s Simba totally missed with both claws and his teeth).

The bugbear caught Simba a hard blow before Yeti finished it off – and then I managed to put a couple arrows into the jailor and bring him down.

Ezekiel found the jailor’s keys and handed them to me so he could unlock the man on the rack.

The “interrogation” room had two cells along the side, so while Mikael cast Cure Light Wounds on the prisoner, I unlocked two women from a cell (they say they’re from the Chron Hills).

Good news is I think we got to them before the Jailor did, and hopefully we can get them home safe and sound.

The second cell contained…two orcs. They say they were captured, like the others here, and would be happy to fight these Chaotic beasties same as us.

Ezekiel says, after all, Ao is the God of all gods, so we can send the orcs on their way.

The rack-man seems to have recovered remarkably, thanks to Mikael, and he grabbed the Jailor’s battle-ax to join in the rescue party. (One of the orcs grabbed the bugbear’s flail, and he’d just better behave himself is all I can say).

We headed back out to the corridor and started unlocking the cells there…but we had much more disappointing results.

About half of the cells actually had something in them, and when they did, they had three or four silent figures who stumbled forward with no coordination whenever the door was unlocked. When Ezekiel showed them his holy sheep symbol, they crumbled into dust.

The cell that was actually locked was the one with the gnome – Gnomalon of the Chron Hills, he says. He wanted to know if we’d found his gear…but unfortunately, the Jailor didn’t seem to have that around.

The good news was, he was still alive, so could join us.

Raven did run down some of the nearby corridors, trying to find the Jailor’s quarters or somewhere else he might have stashed stuff…and found another staircase down, and a door with people clanking and talking on the other side.

According to our pet bugbear, that’s the barracks – and the way to the other cells, and the “front” of the Temple, was through there.

So we decided to split up. Yeti, Mikael, and Raven would return to Cleric Romag and get him (and Corby, and as much loot as they thought they could carry) and meet the rest of us back here.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel and I (and Lydia and Simba and maybe the prisoners) would attack the barracks and try to take out the twenty men there by ourselves.

Perhaps an ambitious plan, but that’s what we tried.

(Raven asked Lydia if he could try out the Ring of Shooting Stars.)

Well, we started our attack on the barracks in standard fashion: Lydia hurled an egg into the room as hard as she could, and as the gas was billowing up I shot an arrow at the closest man I could see (who happened to look kinda important).

A few of them threw javelins back at us, but most of them started fleeing through doors on the far side of the room. (Although I did manage to drop two of them.)

Next thing I knew, the stones of the wall to our side were grinding softly, and the sliver of a secret door was opening. I managed to get an arrow through the crack, and whoever it was retreated.

When Ezekiel went to investigate, though, by the time he got the door open no one was there.

I warned the prisoners to stay back, and Ezekiel headed down the passageway to try and flush the enemy out, so I could shoot at them.

I waited, and the cloud dissipated. I moved into the barracks room, and still no one appeared.

Then I heard banging and shouting from behind one of the two doors, and went to investigate.

And apparently pits in the floor are a thing.

I barely twisted my ankle when I landed, but what really made me mad was the ten foot smooth sides and hearing the enemy guards run past me like I didn’t even matter and they could kill our rescued prisoners right under our noses because why not?!

Of course, if they’d tried that, they would have had to face Lydia and her magic lion and her fire-finger and her other scary tricks that I’m sure she has (and also there was an orc with a flail who probably didn’t want to get killed, but personally I’d be happy if he just stood politely and did nothing until this is all over).

Then the pit started filling with water because of course it did.

I was just venting my inarticulate frustration at the world when someone loud clattered and jingled to the edge of the pit and turned out to be Ezekiel. Apparently he heard my first howl of wounded pride when I twisted my ankle.

He threw a rope down, and between us I just barely got out of the pit before my bowstring got wet.

As we stumbled into the barracks, Lydia called out to ask what was wrong. Well, that proved she was alive, which meant the prisoners were alive, which meant so far so good.

I threw open the second door, ready to use my sword on any and everything, but the enemy guards were long gone.

Ezekiel said the best thing we could do was bar the doors there, and head back to the corridor of cells where the others were supposed to meet us. He said that if we met another warrior like the Jailor, the two of us couldn’t take him out all by ourselves (not and protect the prisoners from flanking attacks) so we’d better sit tight and hope for the best.


Read the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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