While we finished cleaning up the dragon remains, and piled its treasure into our various receptacles (including the little chest that shrinks and grows, which Heiron is carrying and I had completely forgotten about), Ezekiel got a hold of Lydia and jumped through the portal to “just ask Father Yra one thing.”
Heiron killed a dun pudding while we waited, and when Ezekiel finally came back, he and Mikael decided we should go confront the giants to see if they had any slaves we should rescue (Tressarian said something about “stab stab extinguish” but we told him to shush so we could be sneaky…er). Also, Ezekiel said he thought he could send them “home” using his mace or something (it sounded kinda technical, and also like he wasn’t sure what he was doing, so I kinda only half-listened).
According to the map, Mikael and Ezekiel figured the northern corridor probably hooked up with where we wanted to be, so we took that route. On the way, we passed a magic portal rune in the shape of an O (Water, maybe? I’m so bad at this game) – and a room with a row of fire pits.
Tres and I went down the row, putting out the fires, until the last one in the line… There, as we stuck Tressarian into the flames, a big red, horned, fiery figure appeared, growling something about “watch where you put that”! (Ez tells me it was an “efreet”.)
I thought this was different from the one Ezekiel told us not to look at, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Tres was all for killing it (Evil fire thing and all) but Ezekiel started talking to it, so I waited.
He asked if the creature was a prisoner, and the efreet said, well, he wasn’t here by choice. Ez asked if there were any other (human) prisoners here, and the efreet said, well if you didn’t count the fire giants, the giants might possibly have had slaves at some point maybe.
That sounded the opposite of reassuring, but Ezekiel forged on and said we might be able to get him home to the Plain of Fire – and what would he be willing to do in exchange? The efreet kind of chuckled and said, yeah, of course we come down to wishes sooner or later. So apparently, this is the thing that’s like a fire-genii, so it can grant wishes.
I backed up a little to be closer to the party (since for some reason Ezekiel chose to have this conversation across the length of the room) and we all looked at each other for a minute. We weren’t sure how wishes worked, or what exactly was possible, or what we might want – and then Elmo (I think it was Elmo, or maybe Mikael) asked if we could just wish the efreet home (instead of piping him through Lydia’s portal, to the portal in the Temple, blah blah). And then we all looked at each other with kind of inspired expressions – and Ezekiel cleared his throat.
First, he asked for Mikael to be healed in his head…which sounds kinda mean, but I guess he means whatever damage the magical cheetah-lady or whatever she was did to him (that time Ezekiel got charmed…seems ages ago…).
Second, he asked that Lydia be able to learn the knowledge she seeks.
Then he was quiet for a minute or two, and some of us worried he’d forgotten the third and last thing he needed to ask… Then he said, “I wish every prisoner here in the Fire Node be returned home, safe and sound.”
There was a kind of chuckle sound, and the efreet disappeared…so I guess he’s probably happy, wherever he is.
We continued down the corridor, and found a room that Heiron said, from the smell and the burn marks, probably held salamanders until recently. We found several magic items in their horde, including a magic marble statue of an elephant (we’re all hoping it’s like Simba!), a couple potions, and a scroll that neither Ezekiel nor Mikael could figure out.
When we got back to the room where the Fire Giant(s) had been, no one was there – but there was a big pile of money, so I guess the giant we spared did round up his “cousins” to hide in that room. Apparently Ezekiel forgot to wish their stuff with them…but, as he says, better to be home safe than to have a pile of gold. And as Mikael said, now we get the gold.
We filled in a few remaining corners on our map without finding anything interesting…so, short of re-walking the entire Node, we figure the Wish worked and everybody who was trapped here is now “home.”
So we drew the circle, waited for Lydia, and went “home” ourselves. Elmo says he has some questions – y’know, about giants and such. I have some questions myself…
Master Otis says he’s thinking of getting a gold-plated blacksmith’s hammer (!) to hang on his bedroom wall, of course! It’s been a fun three days…
When Elmo and I got back to town, Heiron told us Raven and Ezekiel were fighting in the back yard. Not fighting, exactly – but Raven said there were some dodging techniques he wanted to show Ezekiel…or he wanted a demonstration for his disciples, and Ezekiel was a handy partner…anyway. Apparently it was kinda comical, but Ezekiel says he learned a lot.
He also said he got a letter from his father, and read it to us. Little tidbits about what all his siblings are up to (he only has like three, so it didn’t take too long) and “nice you still remember your Old Man” type of stuff. (Wonder if Mama and Father got my letter…They probably have plenty of other things to worry about…)
While the rest of us were busy, Lydia had a chance to examine the elephant statue. She says it (and the fly statue we found a while back) are probably like Simba – which is pretty cool (although I’m not sure what a magic fly would be useful for. Mikael waved his jar of half-dead wasps at me). Mikael gets to carry the elephant statue, and Ezekiel said Lydia should have the magic fly statues, at least for now. (That reminds me, though, that we still haven’t experimented with the black scarabs that the cult-leaders had…)
I think we’re about ready to head to the Earth Node…our last one. I’ve decided Mister Whisker is coming this time. After all, earth is something he’s much more familiar with, and he might be able to help us with scents and stuff (also that’s why I befriended him – to have him with us!).
We had some trouble getting to the Earth Node. Ezekiel started by using the magic stone we got from the Fire Node, but then we just found ourselves in the Air Node…so Lydia had to find us and help us find one of the portal runes for the Earth Node. But finally, we found ourselves in the right place.
It’s chilly here, and dampish, and the air is full of dust…so I’m glad I have my necklace of free-breathing. The chamber where you first end up is really high, but the tunnels running off from it are less so – plenty of head-space for Mikael, but we can clearly see the ceiling with our lights.
Down the first corridor we picked, we came across some broken statues fallen on the ground – a man with a staff, and a horse. Raven pointed out they were highly detailed – right down to the determined expression on the man’s face – and Ezekiel said something about “basilisks.”
We continued cautiously, coming across another statue. A weird-looking grey creature crawled out of the wall once — Mikael called it a “xorn,” and said it’s a creature from the Elemental Plain of Earth. It didn’t respond when he tried to greet it, and I’m not sure it’s intelligent enough to understand; it chewed on one of the statues for a moment, and crawled away into the stony earth of the wall.
Ezekiel tossed holy water into the air to protect against Evil, and we continued on – until we rounded a curve of the passage and spotted the long, slate lizard-form of a basilisk!
Heiron and I let loose into it, and it flopped with a croak almost as soon as we saw it. Mikael waved around his stone of elemental summoning – but nothing happened, and we realized the Node was messing with earth magic…as we should have expected.
While Ezekiel twirled one of his rosary beads, mumbling something, we crept forward around the next turn. The passage opened out into a large chamber, where we spotted yet another basilisk! Heiron got his shots off first, and landed a couple together – right in the throat. The basilisk gurgled and dropped over onto its side without a chance to look our way…which suits us just fine. Mikael says a stone-to-flesh spell might help the statues we passed along the way – might – but he’s not sure that’s something he would know how to do.
Apparently basilisks like to hoard money just like everybody else does, as we found a big stash of gold and gems in the corner. Ezekiel says their eyes are valuable (for some reason) so he popped them into some of his vials for dragon blood while I set to skinning them.
[sketch of basilisk anatomy]
Oh, yes, one other really interesting thing! We were asking Tressarian about any magical things in the basilisk’s hoard, when we uncovered a scimitar — I’m not sure if it’s bronze or not, but Mikael made an “oooh” sound and picked it up. When he drew it from the sheath, it said, “Hey, boss.”
It (he?) says its name is Schakha…and he and Tressarian had a liiiittle bit of a measuring contest, bragging about all the languages they speak and all the things they can detect (Schakha has a nose for gems, traps, and secret doors; he also speaks Dwarvish common, and Ozzer – which is apparently a non-Evil fire language). He also seems a bit snarky, but Mikael told him we were “friends,” so he could be nice to us “if he wanted.” Well, whatever digs he makes at us, he seems totally chill with Mikael, so that’s nice. Hope Kevin doesn’t get jealous…
I don’t know why people talk about red dragons. Black dragons are the worst, and also actually deserving of the name.
We did a little more exploring, and found a square portal rune – and then came upon a chamber with two black dragons. While Ezekiel pulled out his rosary and found the bead he wanted to play with, Heiron and I loosed our shots. Heiron’s arrow bounced off the scales (no one can be perfect all the time) and mine ricochetted, only giving the dragon a scratch.
Mikael waved his hand – and the stones under the dragons’ feet turned to deep, gloopy mud! – which actually turned out to be one of the best choices this fight. It certainly distracted the dragons long enough that I got some more shots off (these arrows actually pierced the hide in a few places) and then –
Then the first dragon spit at us.
It wasn’t spit. It wasn’t breathing. It was green, and noxious, and stung and bubbled and stuck to us and ate into our clothes and skin and gear. I must have thrown up my arms to protect my face, because a big, smelly, sticky mass hit my chainmail…and my chainmail started oozing down onto the floor.
I guess Ezekiel and Mikael turned away, and caught it on the blast on their backs — Ezekiel’s backpack shriveled and melted like parchment in fire, and all his stuff rained down onto the ground (gotta check if any of his precious potions got broken…).
But Raven and Heiron got the worst of it. Raven looked worst at first, not having much hair, and his skin started peeling and bleeding.
As we all wheezed for breath, and tried to shake the itchy, tingly feeling off, the second dragon spewed at us.
Raven yelped and started dragging Ezekiel back down the corridor, into the shelter of a turn — Ez was shaking his head like he was dazed or something. Elmo scooped up Heiron (most of his skin was goo – that’s a sight that’ll give me nightmares) and followed, which left me and Mikael.
Mikael clapped his hands, and the mud (in which the dragons had now sunk up to their knees) flashed grey as it turned to stone (which is very likely the best decision made this combat).
That done, I grabbed his elbow and we helped each other race back to the others. Ezekiel had apparently been doling out healing, as Raven actually had a face again, but Heiron’s clothes were getting more “moth-eaten” by the minute…and his skin wasn’t much better.
I was torn between setting up the fortress to block the passage behind us (the dragons were shaking the ceiling with their bellowing, and I didn’t want them to come any closer; though, as Mikael or somebody pointed out, we probably didn’t want our fortress exposed to acid-spitting dragons) or grabbing the gem for the Water Node (Elmo asked if we could get to water, and the Water Node is surely a wet place).
In the end, Ezekiel beat me to the gem – and we found ourselves plunged into water. I made a grab for Ezekiel and pulled out Tressarian, and he lifted both of us out of the water. By the time we paddled to the closest island, a dolphin (Mikael of course) was helping Elmo drag Heiron onto the island (what was left of him, of course).
Ezekiel marched right over to Heiron and touched him with his mace, muttering something. Within moments, Heiron was coughing and wheezing, and the two “cleric types” passed around healing (Heiron kwauffed a potion until he looked more like his old self, and Elmo got a dose of Keoghtim’s Ointment on his worst burns).
No one messes with my little Heiron and gets away with it. Besides, Lydia taught us how to have an advantage of terrain – so as soon as she found us again with the portal, we trooped back to her room and prepared for our second assault.
First, Mikael cast “Barkskin” on me (helps make up for my chainmail, I guess). Ezekiel cast silence on himself (since he’s the loudest among us) and by the time Raven finished passing around a potion of invisibility, Lydia had moved her portal to behind the dragons.
We snuck through, being as careful as we could. They’d shaken down some rocks from the ceiling while trying to break free – and it looks like they’d been trying to dissolve the rock around their legs, too. But we didn’t give them time to get free.
Mikael tip-toed far enough away from Ezekiel that he could cast faery fire…and as soon as we saw the faint, magical flames guiding us to their vital areas, Heiron and I fired (by the way, I’m so glad my bowstring survived all the trauma and environment-shifts; probably compromised, though, and I should change it out soon…).
The dragons roared as they died – but die they did…and Heiron and I celebrated until the others became visible.
I was fully prepared to fizzle the dragons if they didn’t go down quickly, but all’s well that ends well. I’m still mad that Heiron had to be dead briefly…after all, he’s my responsibility – Ezekiel said so! (Heiron says he feels fine – just sad that he “failed you, Master.” I’m not sure what he means, but he’s a real trooper.)
Speaking of Ezekiel, he’s been barely articulate with excitement for at least five minutes. He showed us two big black blobs that Mikael tells us are Black Dragon eggs…and Tressarian assures us are not Evil.
Ezekiel and Raven say that it’s possible to raise dragons so that they’re not so nasty as they are in the wild – more docile and friendly…sounds like courting trouble to me, though it’s true Raven is a Master of Dragons now. We already have Keom and Ronhass waiting around at the tower for us (being Lydia’s room service, no doubt)…just where are we going to bunk a couple of dragon eggs?! To say nothing of brand-new baby dragons! If we thought Sgt. Bearington ate a lot, what does Ez think baby dragons are going to eat? He’ll have to quit dungeon-crawling for a bit to hunt full-time. (Though now that I think of it, the area could stand to be cleared of bug-bears…)
Tressarian says, well at least they’re not Red Dragons. I say, Red Dragons didn’t melt Heiron’s face down his neck (come to think of it, he’s looking a bit different lately).
As for my chainmail…although it’s quite sad to lose such a valuable magic item, I feel so light and free now (even if I’m basically carrying the same weight as before)! I’m quieter, too, now that I don’t go clink-rattle-clink everywhere I go. Raven said, “See what I mean?”
Ezekiel probably has a spare magic chainmail somewhere in his stash that he’s been saving…but until then, I will enjoy the novelty.
Read the previous entry here.