Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”
We dropped off the mule-cart at the elder’s house on our way into town.
Ezekiel examined the vials he recovered from the ghoul tunnels – seven of them were sealed with the symbol of St. Cuthbert, and seemed to contain something clear, like holy water. The eighth one bore the symbol of Fultus, and the liquid inside seemed more glittery with shades of dark. Ezekiel thought it might be “Invisibility to Undead.”
Oh, and he thinks the scroll might be “Protection from Undead.” Ghouls pick ironic items to hoard.
We decided to return the vials of St. Cuthbert to the church, and Ezekiel dragged me along because he thought the cleric might heal me.
Canon Turjon wasn’t there, but Brother Celmert greeted us. He seemed kind of nervous…he asked us “what recompense” we’d expect in return for the bottles, and when we mentioned healing he went to “consult with his superior.” But turns out he just didn’t have any healing spells prepared – and he does seem happy to have the vials back. So that’s good.
He told us that the yellow burning eye is a symbol used by followers of Lolth (Ezekiel knows her – some kind of dark goddess. Not, like, knows her personally). He also suggested we take Elmo with us if we were going back there…since Elmo is so strong.
When we returned to the Welcome Wench, the village elder was just arriving with the cart of weapons, and Master Osler and his men helped to unload them.
While I went to lie down (I still can’t move my left arm to speak of, and my ribs hurt after the long hike back into town), Ezekiel gave a full report to the elder. He says the elder seemed surprised to hear of Lolth being involved.
When I came down for dinner, they told me Mikael had determined that the broadsword we found wasn’t magical…which works for me. When I was little, I always wanted to use a long sword like my brother Alpheus…although I’m doing pretty well with this magic short sword. And of course there’s my bow, that I made with my Ranger Master.
Ertulli seems a long time ago.
The other interesting thing that happened at dinner was this strange little man invited himself up to us, and asked if we had any magical loot that needed identifying.
Ezekiel showed him the potion from the ghoul tunnels, and the man – who calls himself Spugnoir the Sage – says it’s “Undead Control,” not “Invisibility to Undead.”
Ezekiel said that’s a strange thing to be sealed with the sign of Fultus, and then the little man asked for a scroll as payment.
Ezekiel showed him the “Protection from Undead” scroll, but he turned up his nose and asked for – get this – 400 gold pieces.
(I guess that tells us what we can hope to get if we sell the scroll – but come on! I may not know much about these things, but free quotes before service are just standard practice…)
Well, we (meaning I when I put my foot in my mouth) invited him to join us at the Moat-house and earn some of the loot. Ezekiel approved it, and tells me he’s already settled things with Elmo (he says we don’t have to buy him a new chain shirt!).
So I guess our party will be a little bigger…which is all good if it helps us survive. And we were supposed to keep an eye on this self-named “sage” anyway, so we’ll be killing two birds with one stone.
I admit I’m glad we’re taking Elmo this time…even though he’s kind of scary. The good thing is that he’s scary to bugbears and gnolls and other vermin.
I am so tired. I hope the Brother of St. Cuthbert knows his stuff.
It started well. We got an early start, and with healing from Mikael (for himself) and Brother Celmert (for me), we were in passable shape.
When we reached the basement of the Moat-house, Raven picked the lock on the second door – the one we thought might be trapped, that Ezekiel was trying to break down the day before yesterday (is it really only that long ago?).
Well, from the dust on the floor, there used to be a stockpile of shields, barrels, and armor stands there…but they weren’t there now.
Elmo said there weren’t signs of a large crowd leaving the Moat-house (such as would be needed to carry the stockpile to another hide-out)…and I wondered what he thought of Spugnoir, since he didn’t try to say it quietly. He is using his “stupid” voice, though, so it’s hard to tell.
Spugnoir was a little hard to figure out. While we were investigating the ogre’s room, he ran over and started rooting through the ogre’s bedding…and I figured it’s his funeral. I have no intention of smelling like ogre if I can help it.
Raven did find something interesting, though – there’s a secret door to the side of the ogre’s chamber, and a tiny winding staircase leading up. We investigated it on full alert, but it just led up to the bandits’ room…and it doesn’t look like anyone’s used it in the recent past.
Well, with that exhausted, we headed down into the crypt – Elmo and Ezekiel in the lead, me in the back with Raven…like old times. I guess that goes to show you what can happen if you let yourself get rusty with certain skills –
Anyway, Ezekiel went back into low dirt tunnel dug out by ghoul claws, lighting the way with his Perpetual Light shield, and taking Raven with him.
The rest of us sat around and waited (that’s the adventuring life, you know), and I had my magically shining shield for light, while Lydia had a torch she could light up if she wanted to (and I think Spugnoir had a torch, too).
It seemed to take them forever, and Raven came back once, holding a candle, to tell us they were exploring a labyrinth of tunnels and had found a few gold coins so far.
We decided to wait in the low anteroom of the tunnels (that’s the place Ezekiel dug up his bottles and scroll) so we could hear them better if they called for help…though frankly I wasn’t anxious to grub deeper into there if I could help it.
Elmo looked totally unfazed, although he’s super tall and broad, and was more cramped in there than most of us. I wonder how many ghouls he’s killed over the years. I didn’t work up to asking him.
Ezekiel finally came back, with Raven, and said the tunnels keep going in twisty turns, so it’d be more worthwhile to explore the stone-lined passages first.
After all, past the alcoves of the crypt (many of them stocked with coffins…or the splintered remains of coffins) there’s a proper passage leading east.
[rough sketch of crypt, with secret doors, ladder, and passage]
I was still in the back of the group, but they let me take out my sword – because my magic sword glows slightly, which is so cool – so I could put my shining shield on my back and use the magic shield on my arm (the one we cut out of the giant lizard – yes I cleaned it off first. And yes it really is magical Mikael checked).
Well, we took the first two right turns, and Ezekiel said there was a pool of water or something ahead. I couldn’t really see, but the guys up front thought there was a sword or something on the other side.
Before we could get there, though, the biggest crayfish I’d ever seen – by a dramatic, undisputed margin – crawled out of the water and attacked.
I whipped out my bow and landed an arrow at the base of the eyestalk, but that didn’t stop it from snapping at Raven and almost taking his arm off. Then Nori sprang forward and saved the day with one bite.
I understand why poison isn’t really fair battle strategy, but it sure comes in handy for spiders…and the spider’s team.
Well, while I dug my arrow out, Ezekiel eased himself around the edge of the pool and checked out the ledge beyond it. He brought back coins, a long sword, a scroll, and a little platinum and ruby pin or brooch.
[interrupted sketch of crayfish carapace, disassembled]
Spugnoir the “Sage” says the sword is nothing special, made in a village a few leagues north of Homlette, and I don’t know enough about workmanship to say he’s wrong. Alpheus or Archy might know if it was anything special.
We went back to the last junction and took the other bend, which heads north. Not too far along there’s a passage that slants east…but we didn’t take that one yet.
The north passage ended in a door, which Raven checked. It was clean (not to mention well-oiled), so we walked right in.
Various barrels and other goods littered the room, and off to the side we found a door that opened into a gnoll bedroom. Elmo called Spugnoir to help check it out, but they didn’t find anything except bedding and the stuff gnolls use in place of armor.
There were two other doors on the south wall, along with the door we used to enter. Raven checked them, and one of them was unlocked. We kind of wished we hadn’t opened it, though…if you think gnolls smell bad on the outside, you should see their latrines!
The second door…When Raven opened that, we all heard a loud, clanging bang from the north, and there was nothing behind the door but a blank wall. No enemies came rushing, though, so we finally finished exploring the rest of the area before continuing on.
It didn’t take us long to find the source of the clang. Down the northern passage, it splits into two…but the north-west tunnel was blocked by a solid metal grate. Even Elmo and Ezekiel couldn’t budge it, so we’re going to need some creative problem solving.
First, though, we continued where we could go, and found another common room with four other door leading out of it (well, supposedly).
One door led to a bedroom that smelled stronger of bugbears than the bugbears we fought. (There were barrels and things there, but nothing useful to us.)
The other three were all on the eastern wall.
[scribbled sketch of tunnels so far]
Raven checked one door, and it was unlocked and clear…well, unless you count the smell of bugbear refuse as a trap.
The next one in line seemed to have a crossbow trap, so he worked to disable it (I was standing close enough to hear the “snick” when he finished), and when Ezekiel opened it we could all see the cable trailing up into a hole in the ceiling. So, good one Raven! We don’t need any more grates locking us in.
The last one Raven said had a poison needle trap, but he couldn’t get at the trigger mechanism.
Ezekiel opened it anyway, and found a store of rotting rabbit carcasses. Bugbears aren’t just disgusting themselves, but they eat disgusting things, too.
(Lydia said something snide about Raven’s trap skills, but I say, better to err on the safe side. That’s what I’m trying to learn to do.)
We went back to the corridor we’d passed by – the one that slants south-east, before the gnoll common room.
Well, apparently the leaders found a locked door up there, and while Raven was unlocking it he thought he heard someone on the other side. I was much too far back in the party to see or hear anything, but the guys up front prepared to burst in.
They threw open the door, and I heard a hoot from inside.
Elmo shouted, “Bandits,” and charged in. Nori swarmed up the wall and hurried forward along the ceiling. Lydia ducked between Ezekiel and Elmo and tossed a rotten egg into the room.
Ezekiel blocked the door with his shield and shouted for me to join them, but that was easier said than done. After all, I was way in the back, and carrying two swords and two shields, among other things.
When I finally reached the door, I took aim at the men who were still standing in the stinking cloud. They wore black tunics embroidered with a burning yellow eye.
I don’t know how to say
[partial sketch of a long bow]
Maybe it snagged something while I was drawing it. Maybe
Maybe I didn’t practice enough.
Anyway, my bow broke. Looking at the splinter lines, I’m still trying to figure it out.
Well, Elmo and Ezekiel charged the enemy when the cloud dissipated. More bandits appeared at the edge of light cast by Ezekiel’s shield, and one of them gave a howl.
I’m starting to know an alert when I hear one. Well, I had promised myself I was NOT going to get jumped from behind again, so I shouted to Mikael to check his corners and watch his back, since he was the only one left in the corridor with any fighting ability (Raven had zipped by in a flash to engage the enemy, and Lydia and Spugnoir wouldn’t be much for “holding the line” against an ambush).
Elmo severed an opponent completely with that huge axe of his, while Raven harried them and Ezekiel (who’s only a mortal like me, I guess) was jogging to reach the enemies who were still alive.
Some of the bandits had had short bows, so I grabbed one up from the ground. I think it was while I was doing this that I saw Spugnoir grab Lydia out of the corner of my eye.
I know I thought this was a very strange thing to do, but then I remember that she can do Flame-Finger, so figured she could handle herself.
The fight further down the corridor was raging in semi-darkness, since Ezekiel hadn’t reached it yet with his shining shield (I was even further back than he was, and Lydia with her torch wasn’t joining the full battle).
Seems like Raven was hit by a cloud of arrows and fell. Elmo waded into the swarm of dark figures, taking some hits.
Ezekiel dropped one of his potions by Raven’s head and shouted to us to give it to him before forcing his way forward, swinging his mace.
I was close enough by then to see a pebble fly out of the darkness and hit Ezekiel on the forehead – but then it dropped to the ground without so much as a tinkle.
Which of course meant: Cleric.
“Is that the best you can do?” shouted Ezekiel.
Mikael raced past me and got the healing potion down Raven’s throat.
Since that was covered, I took a shot and managed to actually hit an enemy.
Next thing I knew, Raven was on his feet again, throwing a dagger. I faintly saw a bandit drop to the floor, convulsing, Nori clinging to his shoulder.
Maybe it was the scream. About this time, I heard a scream behind us, so I fumbled my shot, the bowstring snapped and wrapped around my arm.
I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW IT DOES THAT.
While I was wrestling with it, Mikael brought his staff around and landed a solid whack on one of the enemies – but something was wrong, because I didn’t hear any “whack.” In fact, a lot of the battle seemed to be happening without so much as a footfall or the clink of armor and weapons.
Ezekiel raised his holy sheep symbol. I don’t know if that means there were undead (which I didn’t see because they were dust by the time I got up there), but we haven’t had a chance to discuss it yet.
Raven passed me, heading back the way we’d come – and he said, “Behave.”
I was about to protest, when Lydia met him and said, “That jerk wouldn’t keep his hands off me.”
Well, I trusted Raven to handle a couple of spell-casters (unless Spugnoir has fire-finger, too, of course) and I headed closer to the battle, still trying to get the stupid bow unwrapped from my arm.
I’M STILL TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT.
By the time I cut the bowstring off and joined the others, Mikael was saying the words to cast faery fire (he must have been far enough away from the Silence spell) and Elmo was beating at a bandit who had better armor than the rest.
I guess we’ll never find out who he was exactly, since Ezekiel and Elmo battered him down, and then Mikael summoned flying, biting insects to cover him.
I kind of pity that man.
The last of the bandits fell, and Ezekiel scanned the area with his illuminated shield – he and Elmo and Mikael all breathing hard.
I just finished a twenty minute battle with my bow.
I still can’t figure
As soon as he had partially caught his breath, Ezekiel charged forward again, shouting that we needed to find and catch the enemy cleric.
The corridor where we’d begun the fight widened out into an anteroom, which widened out even further into a common room with barrels and random goods.
Ezekiel homed in on a door off to the right, and called Raven to come pick the lock.
Raven came up from the corridor, with Spugnoir tucked under his arm, and handed him to Ezekiel while he tried the lock…but I guess it was too good for him.
Lydia had joined us by now, too, but I don’t know if she has any kind of opening spell. I guess we didn’t really need it, since Elmo smashed the door in on the first attempt (that’s how you get it done, Ezekiel).
Ezekiel rushed into the room beyond, and confronted a man in black plate armor with a helmet covering his face. The front of the breastplate was worked to resemble a spider (Ezekiel tells me Lolth is some kind of spider deity. An evil, dark spider deity. Raven said he didn’t know spiders had organized worship, and then Nori clicked something that Raven laughed at, but wouldn’t translate for us).
Back to the enemy cleric. I couldn’t hear all their conversation, but he called Ezekiel a “mighty cleric,” and put his mace and staff down when Ezekiel told him to lower his weapons.
He sobbed for mercy a little bit, which we should have seen right through, anyway, and then when Ezekiel grabbed his arm to take him prisoner, he said some things that sounded either like cursing or spell-casting.
I figured it was just cursing, because Ezekiel chuckled at him, and then the cleric snarled, “Who are you?”
I was afraid for a moment that Ezekiel was going to tell him – in full detail – but he just said “a renegade cleric” and asked for rope.
Well. I tip-toed to the door to give him some rope, and suddenly the lights went out.
Not Lydia’s torch in the room behind us, but both our shields of light – in fact, all light in the cleric’s room.
Well, the one thing I could think of to do was to keep the cleric from escaping, so I wedged my shield into the door and stood ready. I was afraid for a moment that he had some secret escape door, but then I realized that if he did he would have used it already, before we reached his inner sanctum.
There was some banging and cries as Ezekiel and Elmo tried to fight him, but it’s almost impossible to really do something like that when you can’t see past your nose.
So they both backed past me into the outer room, and Ezekiel said, “Well, he can come out and fight fair, or starve.”
Elmo and I readied ourselves at the door, and as we all heard footsteps coming forward, Raven shoved Spugnoir into a corner and got his spear ready.
Ezekiel pulled out a scroll and read off of it, and suddenly the threshold of the two rooms was no longer a threshold between light and dark. The light from Lydia’s torch – and my magic short sword – showed up the figure of the armored cleric, holding his mace and staff again, and with some kind of phylactery tied to his arm (Ezekiel says that was always there).
The cleric’s outline – and vital organs – seemed to glitter and shine as Mikael lit him up with faery fire. Lydia was chanting and sprinkling a circle of silver dust around Ezekiel.
The enemy cleric attacked first. His mace caught my shield and bent my wrist into places it shouldn’t go. He can apparently concentrate on two things at once, because he brought his staff down on Elmo so hard I saw stars.
I heard Mikael reciting another spell while I made a response with my sword, and Elmo redirected one of the cleric’s blows so that he smacked himself in the face.
(Must remember to ask Elmo how he did that.)
I heard Lydia’s voice saying something, and the phylactery untied from the cleric’s arm.
Elmo seemed to fall backward – but it was obviously on purpose because he turned it into a roll that took him out of range, and he grabbed up one of the bandits’ short bows and a quiver.
(Pretty cool how he thinks so fast under pressure.)
Ezekiel rushed forward to fill the gap in our line. I caught a glimpse of Nori dropping from the ceiling and sinking her fangs into a chink in the enemy’s armor.
An arrow pierced another joint of the armor (helps when you don’t have to fight the bow actually).
I made a cut that threw me off balance, so that I staggered back. But it worked out because Mikael jumped into the gap, his staff glowing in a way it doesn’t normally, and brought it down in a powerful blow.
A blow that brought the enemy cleric to the ground.
And then, finally, we were all out of enemies.
Ezekiel started pulling off his armor so we could bind his wounds – and his limbs – and we all stared when he pulled the helmet off to discover the dark skin and white hair of a drow.
My mother used to tell me stories. I think we’ve made a very big catch.
Ezekiel is eager to question the prisoner, but of course we have to gag him in the meantime so he doesn’t stomp all over us with his spells.
Ezekiel says that the cleric tried to cast several hurtful spells on him, but they didn’t take for some reason. He thinks it’s because Ao is a bigger God.
Makes sense. No matter what that Zrt guy says, there are some situations where 18 inches of steel just isn’t enough.
Lydia might be the only one who’s not bleeding – and she does look like she’s foaming at the mouth. Oh, yes, and Spugnoir technically isn’t bleeding, but he is pretty severely burned.
Oh, yes, I have to tell Lydia’s story.
Apparently Spugnoir did try to grab at her while the rest of us were rushing into battle (he’s too busy blubbering into his bandages to explain why right now) so Lydia shoved him off and tried to run after us (she says she was slowed down by all the books in her back-pack).
Spugnoir made another grab for her, and she – of course – lit up fire-finger…which made Spugnoir run away into the darkness wailing until Raven ran him down and hauled him back (which he could probably do one-handed, if we’re being honest).
So Raven and Ezekiel are trading theories of what the cloth-wearers were up to while the rest of us were busy, and Lydia looks like she might drop one of her rotten eggs into the pot of rations.
Back to serious: we can lock the door at the end of the corridor, and possibly brace it with debris from the cleric’s door. The cleric has an absolutely luxurious bedroom, with a fragranced brazier, cushions, fancy furniture, the works. We should be very comfortable here, as long as we take it easy on the rations.
There are a couple horses in a room off the common room, so there might be rations here if we scrounged some more. Oh, and the stockpile of weapons and armor that went missing from upstairs seems to have showed up here, so at least we don’t have to worry about it appearing some time in the future, worn by even more troops of evil.
Because this troop right here just about wiped us out. Elmo isn’t complaining, but I’m not sure he could walk very far without collapsing.
Raven, of course, was actually unconscious until Ezekiel’s potion brought him back to life. Mikael didn’t come through unscathed, and I’m so tired I can barely lift my arms.
Holing up for a day or two sounds like a good plan. Ezekiel’s trying to figure out how we can send for men-at-arms, and a cart – and get the horses out of here – which will probably require raising that grate.
[fanciful sketch of grate mechanism]
He’s also worried about keeping the evil cleric a prisoner until we can get him somewhere more secure for questioning.
Ezekiel worries a lot.
[sketch of the spider crest of Lolth]
Kinda looks like Nori.
Sentry duty is supposed to be boring, I guess.
Read the next entry here.
Find the previous entry here.
Find the beginning of the Homlette adventure here.
Subscribe to the mailing list for book updates!