Mikael reminded us that he has stone-shape prepared, and we remembered that I have the Ring of Warmth, and so with those two things we returned to the warded door in the far corner. I wasn’t sure if the ring would help that much, but it was worth a try.
Wearing the ring, Mikael smeared his clay on the walls around the doorframe and said his casting words.
The stone walls seemed to melt away, and the door fell forward with a bang – Mikael jumped out of the way just in time, his fingers coated in frost…but after hugging himself and blowing on them for a minute, we decided they weren’t going to fall off.
Inside, we saw two rows of sarcophagi. Ezekiel insisted we had to investigate to make sure this wasn’t a vampire lair, and even though I was not at all excited to fight a vampire, he took Yeti with him inside while the rest of us held the door.
No sooner had the disappeared from sight than a few ghouls came around the corner and decided to advance. I shot one in the shoulder while yelling for Ezekiel, and he came out and brushed them away with his sheep symbol.
I see Lydia’s mind was working, since she had her silver shavings ready for Protection from Evil, but she went ahead and saved it for next time.
Ezekiel went back inside and started ripping the stone covers off the coffins and rummaging through them. He touched his magic mace to each body he found, but from what they tell me the desiccated husks didn’t react – which is what a normal corpse would do.
We assume these are the high priests of the various temples, buried in state…though from the state of decay on them all, I can’t help wondering how long this place has been running?! Are they all from ten years ago and more?
He did take a bronze ring with a jet triangle from each body – sort of their club insignia – though in retrospect I wonder if it was worth it?
He had moved to the second row in the first chamber, when he pulled off a lid and a cloud of dust or something billowed up in his face (according to Yeti).
Ezekiel coughed some, but kept digging through the coffin, and found that the corpse’s cloak looked in pretty good condition, even though the robe the guy was wearing was all threadbare and turned to dust with age.
So they took the cloak and tossed it to us to put in the bag of holding.
There was a second chamber, and even though Ez was panting a lot, he wanted to search the row of coffins there.
A party of gnolls had passed by earlier – they squeaked and scampered away when they saw us – so when I heard another sound I thought it might be more of the same.
At first it just looked like a wall…but it was dead bodies – pinned in horrible, confusing positions – upside down, sideways, flopping nonsensically – and sliding toward us. From wall to wall, floor to ceiling – I can only assume there were about forty-four of them, but I had no intention of waiting to count.
I yelled for Ezekiel, and he raced out – dropping to the ground and wheezing as soon as he arrived.
Yeti came into the hall a moment or two later, while Ezekiel raised his sheep symbol and scolded the thing in a gaspy voice.
But nothing happened.
Raven kind of went “Aha” and said he thought it was slow enough we could make it back to the crossroads and retreat down the other passage.
Heiron obviously didn’t like the sight of glassy-eyed, pale and shriveled corpses scraping the walls toward us – and, of course, neither did I.
So we hurried forward to get to the junction before it did – Ezekiel wheezing like an old man the whole time – while Lydia dug a flask of oil out of her pack.
When we turned the corner at the intersection, she doused the floor in oil, and Raven grabbed one of the torches from the wall (high quality torches, if they haven’t gone out yet).
The rest of us kept retreating while Raven kept an eye on the monstrosity (since he’s the fastest) until the time came to light the oil.
The rest of us had rounded a turn in the passage by then, but I could see Raven hovering at the corner, watching a dim firelight while strange popping noises came from around the corner.
Then – we assume that if the thing gathered up the dead bodies, it sucked up the barrel of oil, too – there was a muffled, bubbly “bang,” and fire erupted around the corner.
Raven appeared, walking slowly toward us while his clothes billowed with the rush of hot air (and possibly slime)…his head down so that his eyes were shadowed. Flames of fire danced around his head like tossing hair (and he’s probably glad he didn’t have any of that).
After that, we all had to catch our breaths – though Ezekiel couldn’t, even after Yeti put his hands on him and mumbled something about “cure disease.” Mikael even tried Cure Poison, and nothing seemed to change.
Lydia covered his nose, and Raven and I took a peek at our enemy. The whole corridor was coated in slime and dead bodies, with a chunk of gelatin or something here and there. Raven says the thing was a “gelatinous cube” — the leather armor seems to have been eaten away to where it won’t be much good anymore.
(That’s what I get for being so untidy! From now on, I should really clean up my bodies.)
The others were discussing what to do – meaning Ezekiel said, gasping every other word, that he wanted to finish with the crypt (there were four or five coffins still unopened) and the others were looking between his labored breathing, and the sticky, smelly mess of the gelly.
Heiron stepped forward out of nowhere, his face kind of white, and asked Ezekiel for the mace. He screwed up his face as he took it, and asked Yeti to help him “finish the job.”
Ezekiel sat against the wall and coughed, while Mikael told him he probably has mold in his lungs.
I’m not going to say I wasn’t embarrassed that Heiron would do something I wouldn’t, and I’m not going to say I wasn’t impressed that he’s one of us enough to take these things on himself…but I will say there are things that one is suited for, and other things one is not suited for, and I’m working on knowing my own limitations.
And walking through the gooey bodies to investigate a crypt while Ezekiel keeps coughing was not something I’m suited for.
They weren’t gone long at all – though when they came back Heiron was hacking and wheezing.
As we made our way toward the entrance, Lydia borrowed a jar of the Keoghtom’s Ointment, smeared some on her finger, and made Heiron lick her finger (nerve-wracking at the best of times, but he couldn’t really refuse, could he).
By the time we passed through the augury chamber and into the corridor that leads to the front, he had stopped coughing and seemed perfectly recovered.
So we made Ezekiel try some…but it didn’t work on him or something.
We’re pretty sure it’s not a curse connected with the cloak – since both Raven and I touched it to put it in the bag of holding – which is good I guess, but it’s still frustrating that nothing seems to work.
Just at the foot of the stairs, we were attacked by three ghasts. They came charging down at us, and while I nailed one before they reached us, I can’t quite drop one in a single hit. Maybe not actually needing their lungs and throats for breathing is a factor.
A couple of them clawed at Yeti while another one bit Ezekiel (fortunately he didn’t stiffen up and drop his weapon like Yeti did) – but Mikael and I got some good blows in, and then Ezekiel got his sheep symbol out, coughed into it, and waved it at the enemy.
They didn’t shriek, and they didn’t turn any paler, but they did drop their mouths open and stretch their eyes wider in horror.
Heiron landed a shot before they started to retreat, and Simba charged forward and clawed one before it got away completely (he stiffened up and fell to the ground for his trouble, though).
Wonillon tried to knife a ghast as he fled past him, but they all got away and ran up the stairs (for not being technically alive, they move pretty fast).
Under other circumstances, we might have been more interested in chasing them…but no one except Raven was really in a position to catch them. Besides, Ezekiel could only get up a few steps before he had to lean against the wall and catch his breath.
We got out of the Temple all right, and found the horses doing just fine. We bundled Ezekiel into the cart (and Cuddles, who says it’s way too cold out here) and made it to the campsite without any trouble.
Lydia tells us the cloak is indeed magic, but that’s all she knows.
Mikael says there’s “not enough nature” in it for him to tell what it is or something. (I guess that means it wasn’t spun by spiders or woven straight from plant fibers or something?) (He’s also grumpy that Luna is waning, so he missed his chance at full-moon mistletoe.)
When Ezekiel talks too much, he gets light-headed with trying to breathe.
I don’t like it.
Got into Homlette mid-afternoon, no trouble. Yeti and Raven volunteered to take Ezekiel to the chapel of St. Cuthbert to see what could be done, while the rest of us took the luggage to the Welcome Wench (and pampered the horses).
Master Osler’s stable hand was kind of shaken to see Cuddles, but in the end we got him a place in a stall with Syphon (Yeti’s horse, who’s smart enough to understand he and Cuddles are on the same team, so is cool with it).
We took the treasure up to our room and counted it all out – though of course we’ll have to get the gems and other valuables officially appraised.
(Reminder to self: PAY HEIRON…he really earned it.)
When the others came back, Ezekiel was still wheezing to make it up the stairs. Ez says Canon Turjon tried a “Cure Disease” spell with no effect, so he’ll have to go back tomorrow after he’s had a chance to inquire of his deity.
(Raven says the Canon was kinda grumpy that they didn’t tell him Yeti tried Cure Disease, too.)
The good news is we have some kind of account in town, on Sir Rufus’ orders, so that even if we can’t change all our treasure in liquid funds right away, people will work with us. Ezekiel also says that we’ll get the full attention of whatever experts we need at the tower, so we can learn as much as possible in as short a time as possible and then get back into the war.
Raven says he heard there’s a monk master or something staying at the tower as an advisor or something, and he wants to go ask him some questions. Mikael says he’s got some questions for Druid Master Geru.
Ezekiel seems eager to talk with Canon Turjon about his mace, but when he can barely eat chicken soup for coughing so much, I’m not sure he can do much talking.
I made him go to bed. When we were sick as kids, Mother always fed us chicken soup and made us go to bed early…but of course, she was also a Cleric of Ehlonna and kissed my big old bloody scratch from falling out of the tree back to normal.
We’re pretty sure the cloak is a Cloak of Protection, so Mikael gets to wear it (since he’s more often on the front lines than Lydia, and besides it goes with his outfit).
We don’t think we have a use for the magic morning star, magic ringmail, or magic mace (the other one that’s not Ezekiel’s), so Yeti can go get them appraised tomorrow.
The javelin of lightening, however, Raven wants to keep – since there’s a chance he’ll get to practice with javelins and might just figure out how to use it. Is this a good thing?
And now Ezekiel is talking in his sleep…still wheezing, of course.
Some days I just don’t know what to do.
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