Dear Diary…not my day

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

We arrived back in Homlette in time for Needfest. Mikael is very excited to get to collect mistletoe (apparently collecting it this time of year helps it be more potent – Druid thing).

The inn was pretty crowded, but Master Osler had no trouble getting rooms for us. It’s nice to be liked.

Noticed a tall fellow in travel clothes with a bow and long sword; also several merchant caravans have stopped here for the duration of the festival.

Ezekiel says it’s a good chance to “live a little” – whatever a Cleric means by that.

****

So. This is going to be hard to write.

We were in the common room at the Welcome Wench. I remember that.

The tall guy beckoned me over him, and since Ezekiel is always saying “If you don’t ask you won’t know,” I went over to talk to him.

He said he had a “message” from my “friend down the road” but he couldn’t give it to me there, so we went outside – and yes, I told Ezekiel where I was going, and he said something like “you don’t need me to hold your hand.”

I remember the one full moon, and the cold.

The man said our “adventures had attracted some powerful enemies.” I remember that part.

And then…then I remember I was on a stretcher, and it was hard to breathe, and a Cleric of Pholtus was shining a light in my eyes and saying words that didn’t make much sense.

Well, finally my breathing seemed to get easier, and then Ezekiel and Raven showed up and Ezie was thanking the High Cleric with all the pomp and bowing he could muster. And the High Cleric said it was a pleasure to serve a Ranger of Ehlonna, but especially since Ezekiel had offered them such a valuable scroll.

Anyway, they tell me Ezekiel found me dead in the back yard, and hauled everybody over to Verbobanc to find a Cleric with enough standing and learning to raise me.

I can still feel a mark, if I push just under my rib. I’ve never felt such a mixture of rage, humiliation, and amusement.

Whatever else, there’s no way “eighteen inches of steel” would have gotten me out of this (unless I suppose I was wearing it from my eyes to my knees…though probably not even then).

Something tells me I should not be alive again…but I will focus on being grateful that Ehlonna is not done with me yet. And that Ezekiel cared enough to shell out to bring me back…

Although I will never forgive myself for ignoring my One Single Personal Rule: NEVER TRUST ANYONE.

Ezekiel thinks “someone” connected me with the death of the Drow Cleric, but the closest I ever came to “talking” to anyone was admitting to the merchant that we rescued some prisoners from some “bad guys” (never trust a man who price-gouges like that).

Raven says that, before they left town, he had a talk with Master Osler, who said the tall man showed up while we were in Celene and called himself “Strider” (don’t they always?).

I just think that if they wanted to take out the deadly power-house responsible for the Drow’s capture/death, it should have been Ezekiel! (Maybe not fair – he’s already been dead once.)

And, true, Ezekiel points out that no one else can nail orcs or chop up rats the way I can, and I suppose that’s likely true.

Still furious (the man had the audacity to speak in Lawful Good to me!), and still determined to never talk to anyone ever again about anything unless I’m covering them with my bow.

Raven is out doing some shopping while we’re in the “big city,” and we’ll return in the morning.

Because Ezekiel is right about one thing…if they wanted to scare us away with this, well, they guessed wrong.

It at least tells us we’re barking up the right tree.

****

Got back to Homlette with no problems.

Ezekiel told me to “keep a low profile.” I told him I’m the shortest in the party and just what does he want me to do?

Master Osler says the so-called “Ranger” hasn’t been seen since that night.

If we head to the campsite tomorrow, we can go from there to the site of the Temple and arrive early enough in the day to get some exploring done (sure is nice to have mounts of our own!). We’re also bringing the cart because, after all, we might find something we want to haul away (like rescued prisoners or something).

Oh – when Yeti came back from training with his Paladin higher-ups, he brought this huge, muscular war horse that seems to understand whatever he tells it. He says it’s like Lydia and Grumpsh (the toad) or Mikael and Corby…they are “best friends” in a professional sense.

Must be nice to have an animal companion.

****

Notes on the Temple of Elemental Evil

-sent Corby to scout from the air; saw a couple ravens hanging out by the tower (NW corner) but the tower top is completely sealed up, though ruined; no getting in and out through the roof, looks like

-Corby spotted a gate in the western wall, so we could get the horses into the inner court; so glad the poison oak has finally died

-leaving horses in the charge of Yeti’s war horse…apparently he’s smart enough to protect them/lead them in a retreat if necessary; very useful

-ruined out-building in the north-west area of the courtyard; burned, tumble-down, surrounded by twisted usk trees

-staircase on the W side, but the lower steps collapsed; dark hole at base

-huge rat nest! However, Raven talked with them and bribed them with rations to tell him that “lots of people” have been coming through here “all the time.” Not super helpful, but definite confirmation is good. Also we’re on the right track so far.

Ezekiel charging head-first for the Temple because of course he is…

[rough sketch]

So ugly!

Three doors – west, south, east. West and east are locked, and barred from the inside.

South…is unnatural. The huge door seems covered with runes that light up, but I can’t really look at them. It’s too horrifying.

Ezekiel and Raven say the chinks are filled in with soft iron…and that suggests to me that someone really, really doesn’t want anyone/anything opening this door (specifically anything evil).

R picked the lock on the east door, then L knocked on it and the bolt undid itself (or something like that).

Inside is quite nauseating. Floor is reddish brown slate, and the walls are covered with ugly images of horrible tortures and murders and other Evil things. There are narrow stained glass windows high up in the walls, but the light only makes the whole place look sickly and diseased.

Unbarred the W door (in case we need a hasty retreat toward our horses) and continued up the nave.

-floor is actually divided into several huge squares, each with different colored tiles

-about a third down, two side passages branch off, and there’s a line where the tiles change color

-center has pillars of some kind – white marble veined with red. There’s a seven by five altar.

-west branch of “sanctuary” (if you can use such a word for this place) – sandstone; hard to see in failing light

-east: green pillars and floor; Ezekiel went here first

-circular dais in the middle, almost two feet tall

-altar on dais, Ez says there’s a depression with blackened liquid, seashells, and a broken bronze knife

(Clues for the “key pieces”??)

-side room opens from SE corner of this wing…vestry with broken trident, moss green robe (filthy of course) and other broken items; also red floor and stairs down

Ez decides we’ll go down, even though it’s getting toward evening.

Try to keep arrow nocked.

[sketched map]

Two right turns. Corridors here are lit with torches, so obviously someone’s been here.

Approached a room and could smell the refuse; maybe that’s what tipped Ez off. That and the high ceiling, and the bones on the floor.

He was sure something was on the ceiling in this room (we have had bad luck with things dropping on us) and Yeti pointed out a harpy in the corner.

At my suggestion, Raven and Lydia plugged their ears with cloth while I tried to hit the harpy (I guess I wanted to be able to hear Ezekiel’s instructions).

I winged it, then we spotted a second one…so Ez had us move in together to get an angle on it while the other three stayed by the door.

As soon as we moved away from the door – clang – a grate dropped down (that’s getting old) and the harpies began to sing.

(I remembered that they had terrible voices – except maybe terrible in a beautiful way – or maybe just because it’s so strange you just have to listen –

Anyway, what I do remember next is a ring of ghouls – standing around us in a perfect ring around Yeti – and crumbling into pieces.

Ezekiel tucked away his holy symbol again (keeps it in a pouch on his belt, now that he’s in full plate armor). Yeti pulled out his crossbow, and I managed to take out the two harpies (though Ez had already wounded one of them).

Note to self: Paladins are so very useful.

Lydia says harpy feathers can be very valuable. (Also tried to dig at me for “falling in love” with the harpies’ song, but got no time for that nonsense.)

[hurried sketch of harpy room, with secret door where ghouls emerged]


Find the previous entry here.

Read the start of the Homlette adventure here.

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