Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”
It can’t have been more than ten minutes into our watch shift (Mikael and I) when I heard something coming down the hall…and smelled something I hate.
I signaled Mikael by pulling down the cover of my lit shield – just a sliver – for a moment, and he correctly interpreted it and came over. (Should work out some kind of system for signals…)
Of course we had put out or covered all our lights, so I couldn’t see anything – but I could hear the beasties growling and talking in their own language. With that and the smell, I was pretty sure they were gnolls.
I waited until they sounded near enough that I was pretty sure of hitting something, and launched my prepared arrow. A loud squeal and gurgle told me some beastie was probably dying.
Something clawed me, so I drew my sword and stabbed it (my sword glows a little, so between that and the smell and feel, I was sure it wasn’t Mikael. And it wasn’t; he’s fine).
Another of them slashed my arm, so I stabbed it, too. A crossbow bolt flew past the gnolls (presumably from Yeti), and as the last gnoll was backing away to run, I killed it.
With that done, I could focus on soft scuffling and grinding noises coming from the camp (behind the throne).
My companions seemed to have disappeared, so I crossed the room to investigate. Lydia (and Raven) had opened the secret door we noticed earlier, and everybody else agreed to see if it was more peaceful sleeping in there.
They could have told me, though.
The secret passage is ten feet wide, and runs about forty feet before it ends in another mechanism. Raven explained that there’s a catch just above his head that can be manipulated from the other side, that should drop the “door” section of wall into the floor. He says the winches and sandbag-counterweights are designed to close the door automatically after the person goes through.
Well, finally the night continued peacefully – except that Lydia woke me up halfway through her watch because she wanted more sleep. I guess people just see me as a sucker.
I’m also tired and grumpy.
Finally, the others started to wake up, and we’re eating something.
Lydia explained she heard the guards we fought last night – and from something they said, they apparently thought we were Fire Temple.
So we’re in the “Earth Temple section” right now, but there are other places in this labyrinth.
Ezekiel wants to investigate the north door first.
We’d just better find a better camp spot tonight is all I’m saying.
The room outside the secret door is circular – about thirty feet across. There’s a ten foot basin or depression in the center of the floor, with a low seat running around the rim.
Everything is shiny – the walls and floor are polished black stone, and when the secret door closed automatically, you could see how it’d be very hard to notice it from this side.
The ceiling is a deep blue, with pinpricks of light that seemed to glow on their own. They look like they should be constellations, but none of us were sure from what sky.
Lydia discovered drawers under the bench or seat, and they found a collection of weird shaped objects…cones, cubes, that kind of thing – all carved out of bone, ivory, rock, or wood.
Raven thinks it’s a fortune teller kit. Lydia tossed one into the depression, but Ezekiel said we don’t really have any questions to ask (and besides we already know he “needs to stay away from snakes” and stuff like that).
A big arched door led out opposite the secret passage (at least twelve feet tall). On the north (outer) side of the arch is written “Exalted Chamber of High Augury”. Ezekiel and Raven say augury is for asking simple yes-or-no questions (“will X be good or bad for us”).
In the center of the north room is a smashed altar that looks like it used to be obsidian — and, of course, the ceiling also had the strangely glowing dots like stars.
It might be significant that the previous purgers of the Temple destroyed the altar, but didn’t wreck the depression in the first room. It also seems significant that these rooms are otherwise pretty clean and “cared for”-looking.
Across from the other doors, a door let out of the altar room into a hallway like the ones we’d traveled before…only the floor was a different color.
It slanted slightly before joining another passage – lit by torches (so, again, someone frequents this space).
We could see two doors in the north wall from the junction. One was a ways down to our right hand, and the door was inscribed with strange runes. Ezekiel made a note of them to figure out in his down-time, and we decided to leave that place alone for now.
The second door was down to our left, and beyond the passage branched into two areas. To the right, we found a strange triangle-shaped room, with the point of the triangle across from the doorway, and padded seats and couches lining the walls.
This place was also lit with torches, so obviously someone hangs out down here – but I can’t imagine why, because the plaster is covered with horrible ugly and disgusting pictures and sayings.
The worst, though, is a great big eye painted on the ceiling that seems to glare down at you no matter where you are in the room. There’s also a big triangle set into the floor – made of some kind of yellow/brass stone.
Well, we didn’t find anything in that room…and the other direction looks like it used to be a storeroom – before it was smashed. The whole floor is covered with bits of glass, pottery, pieces of shelves, and ingredients that I’m not sure I want to know what they are.
Ezekiel and Yeti found several bottles and containers that they think might be useful (the ones they didn’t step on, of course) – but it occurred to me to wonder why the previous purgers just smashed the room, rather than carting it all away if it really could be used for the forces of Good.
Maybe they were pressed for time? Maybe there was a big fight?
We returned to the main passage and continued west, where our corridor met with an even wider one – running north-south.
The floor is brown marble veined with black…but it’s arranged so that to the north it’s more of a beige, and then to the south it darkens to a more walnut or chocolate (Ezekiel hasn’t explained what that means).
More of those huge yellow triangles are inset into the floor, pointing north like they’re trying to lead us.
Ezekiel decided to be led so we followed the triangles as they rounded the corner and brought us to a doorway covered by a huge red curtain.
We readied ourselves, and Ezekiel pushed back an edge of the curtain to reveal a huge room – our shield-lights didn’t even reach to the opposite side – with a dirt floor and some kind of phosphorescent fungus growing on the ceiling, walls, and supports.
There’s some kind of pyramid in the center, and when Yeti moved forward to investigate, something rose up from the ground in front of him.
It was…huge, and rock-colored, and though it had arms and a body, you wouldn’t really call it human-like.
It swung at Yeti, and I dropped my arrow, and Raven charged it to try hitting it (but didn’t).
Mikael lit it up with faery fire, and Ezekiel swung his mace – and knocked a big chunk of it off.
Corby pecked at it – hard to tell if she was disturbed by it being made of rock, and not having eyeballs to peck.
The creature (if that’s the word) brought its huge fist down on Ezekiel – but as it came near Yeti, something like tiny white lightening ran over its arm, and it just bounced off Ezekiel’s helmet.
Yeti smashed a chunk off with his hammer, and Mikael muttered some things and pointed — next thing you know, the creature was crawling with bugs. (Maybe they hurt it by burrowing through it? Either way it looked creepy.)
(Must remember not to tick off Mikael.)
Lydia stepped forward and threw what looked like a ball of lightening (didn’t know she could do that) which sparked and crackled and split another section of the beastie off.
I finally got my arrows figured out again and landed two shots before Ezekiel turned it into dust and gravel with his mace.
He says that was an Earth Elemental, and he’s very glad Yeti (and his nearby friends) are Protected from Evil.
I call it an unnatural nuisance. Even Mikael agrees with me that the earth shouldn’t just go wandering around as it likes – especially not on this plane.
Well, while I stayed near the door and stood guard, Ezekiel, Yeti, and Raven went to check out the pyramid. Apparently it’s packed dirt, six feet tall, and topped with a stone column. You can reach it by stone steps on all four sides.
Three sides of the column have manacles anchored to them (said they were in good order, too, which I don’t like the sound of). The pillar also has the triangle symbol that we’ve been seeing everywhere.
There’s a bronze box on the fourth side of the column, and inside they found a bronze maul, knife, ewer, and bowl – well made and clean. (Again, disturbing.)
On the far side (to the south, opposite the entry), there are glowing double doors – like the ones at the entrance of the Temple, even to the point that only Ezekiel could even look at them. He says they’re covered in similar runes, and chained, and sealed with soft iron…so we’re leaving them alone for now.
When the previous purgers tried so hard to seal in something Evil, you’d better be really sure you can handle it before you let it out.
Apparently there are side doors, though, so those might be safe to check out.
Before we did that, Lydia pointed out that the rest of the Temple was carved out of rock, and that we should be too far underground for dirt to appear naturally. She reminded us that it’s made from dead plant and animal matter, so where did all this dirt come from?
It is indeed loose – not packed like the pyramid – and Ezekiel wants to dig it out with our camp shovels.
Before we did that, though, we investigated the north-west corner of the room – and found another curtained door in the same wall as the one we entered.
As we approached it, another monstrosity of stone and earth appeared out of the ground before us.
Mikael cast faerie fire on this one, too, and this time I had better luck, landing my first and second shots.
Yeti and Ezekiel hammered away at it (I’m pretty sure I saw tiny purple lightening when Ezekiel’s mace struck it, but maybe not).
Lydia called out her magic lion from the lion statue, and it charged the elemental – slashing with front and back claws and its teeth. (I’m more and more glad we didn’t have to fight it for real at the giant’s house.)
Corby scratched a fault line open in its “head,” so I followed up by driving an arrow into the gap. Another arrow split the creature into pieces at our feet.
(Another reason to dislike those things: they chew up arrows like you wouldn’t believe. They were all so splintered or snapped that I couldn’t reuse any of them.)
Raven went to peek behind the second curtain and make sure it was quiet – then suddenly grabbed the curtain and dragged it completely open.
Seven men stood there, in rough fighter gear. One in the front said, “Excuse me, sir — Holy Ula!”
I think I finally figured out why he said that. But only after Raven had killed one of them with a slap, Ezekiel had charged (but must have tripped on the threshold of the tile corridor, and fell), and Yeti had whacked a man with his hammer.
I took out three of them — then while I was pulling out my next sheaf of arrows, Raven smacked two more of them and Ezekiel pounded another one with his purple-lightening mace.
Anyway, they don’t have the triangles on their clothes of the acolytes – but they were probably looking to sign up (like that band Ezekiel warned into leaving).
Yeti, of course, is in the armor of his goddess, so they could plainly see that he wasn’t affiliated with this cult here.
I still don’t understand what could draw these poor saps down here. What could the deities of Evil offer them?
Well, I am on “guard” while Ezekiel and the others dig away at this dirt floor. I wonder what – if anything – we’ll find.
I can imagine some disturbing things…
[sketch of latest exploration]
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To start at the beginning of our Temple exploration, go here.
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