Dear Diary….pool of perdition

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

Ezekiel sent Mikael and Raven off to find Cuddles. Turns out he was keeping an eye on the double-doors we came through to reach the “sanctuary.”

They’d just met up with him when Raven says he heard the wall beside the door moving aside.

A voice said, “Master?” – and then we all heard shouting in some other language. (I assume it was bugbear.)

Most of the temple-room was still dark, of course – Mikael had a torch, but it didn’t shed light like our shiny shields used to (and the humidity in that room made things difficult, too).

Simba charged off into the darkness, roaring, and I heard the squeals as he tore into something (again, it sounded like bugbear).

I think Cuddles and Raven both lunged at the same time and bumped into each other – but that’s just going from what I saw across the room, and Raven insists it went differently.

Ezekiel moved forward, and as soon as Lydia followed him far enough to light the enemy, he bashed a bugbear-head in with his mace.

I speared one through the throat before I even realized Lydia had thrown an egg through the doorway…the figures beyond were gagging and choking on thick green smoke.

Something bellowed, “Who make stink?” — I didn’t see what. One of the bugbears tried to get out of the cloud, bumped into Ezekiel, and promptly got bit by Cuddles…but the rest of them seemed to be keeping their distance.

By the time Lydia dispelled the cloud, there were no enemies to be seen.

Raven took a torch from Ezekiel and ran forward a few rooms to check things out, but the enemy had made tracks and decided not to face us.

Wonillon pointed out it was the sensible thing to do, from their perspective, since I killed two of them with one arrow apiece…but it still means I couldn’t properly finish them off, and I dislike loose ends.

We did find something interesting in the bugbears’ rooms…a chest with some ogre-sized clothing, a rusted saw, a candlestick, and a whole pile of money. Wonillon and I were busy for several minutes shoveling it into the bag of holding.

Raven checked the armoire in Bel-Sornig’s room, and found a fancy robe – watered green silk – with a gold embroidered octopus wrapping around the garment and kind of smothering the wearer. He also found a gold censor and twenty blocks of incense wrapped in paper (I hope they don’t get jostled into powder in the bag…I don’t understand the physics of bags of holding).

Ezekiel called us all over so we could “deal with” the big pool in the south room.

Did I say –? Yes, the south wall is covered with a mosaic octopus – red highlights with green orbs here and there (guess that’s where they get their special symbol from?) – which is clutching a sacrificial victim in each of its tentacles.

(Seriously, all these evil temples seem fixated on ritual murder. What’s with them?)

Mikael advanced first…he put his hand to his temple and said “someone” told him that there was a “triton” (apparently a good-aligned mer-person) chained up in the pool, and it wanted to help defend us against the “krakon” on the far wall.

Well, while I was worrying about the mosaic coming to life, Raven hurried forward, handed his torch to Mikael, and jumped into the pool (he says he saw a humanoid figure in there).

The lights in that room were very weird. The crystal ceiling and floor seemed designed to reflect and twist the light to make it as confusing as possible, and the pool (with its basin of lapis lazuli) seemed to suck up the light and glow in a very disorienting way.

Anyway, whatever Raven saw, he quickly jumped out of the pool again, yelping in pain, and announced there was nothing in there at all.

His magic cloak (was that the one we got in the crypt, maybe?) was all ribbons and holes now, and he pulled one of his magic rings off his finger and threw it into the corner, spitting (he says it was the ring of protection).

While Raven shook himself and tried to wipe his peeling skin, Mikael raised his hand and chanted some words I hadn’t heard yet. Apparently it was “purify water,” and while I couldn’t tell a difference, Ezekiel says the whatever-it-was didn’t like that.

Ezekiel ordered our two companions to get back to us, past the threshold of the room…but Mikael had been talking to the voice in his head, I guess, and said, “No, no, the pool can grant me my wish,” and jumped in.

He jumped out again even faster than Raven – crying out in pain – and as Ezekiel rushed in to help them, Raven pulled Mikael out and away from the pool.

As the left, Raven aimed his “ring of shooting stars” at the thing, but there were only some under-whelming sparkles. The pool didn’t seem disturbed at all.

Heiron shot an arrow into the “water” (if it was water) but that didn’t get a reaction, either. (I figured there was no point throwing good weapons after bad.)

Wonillon tossed a torch – which did what torches do even in normal pools, and went out.

Lydia told everyone to stand back, and tossed a little lump of something I don’t want to know about.

Even though she said, “Fwoom,” nothing seemed to happen…and she said the room must neutralize fire magic.

Well, Mikael had asked Obed-Hai for two “Purify Water” spells, so he chanted the words again – and this time something definitely happened.

Specifically, the crystal dome that formed the ceiling shattered, raining down shards that would be pretty painful if we weren’t all standing in the shelter of the corridor.

The lapis lazuli basin also broke into fragments, the “water” or poison or whatever it was spilling out into the room.

Wonillon recovered first of any of us – by pointing out that the lapis lazuli would be pretty valuable.

Ezekiel agreed, so Wonillon unloaded all his magic items and ventured into the room with a rope around his waist.

Raven put on a fresh robe from his pack and helped Lydia search the room of the under-clerics (poor Mikael was going around trying to straighten out the pieces of his staff of striking, but I think something vital was eaten away. Good thing Bel-S just “gave” us a new rod).

Well, when no voices were tempting Wonillon, I went out to help him – the chunks of lapis were big enough it took both of us to maneuver them into the bag).

Ezekiel tied a rope around me, too, but I wasn’t so worried since Raven (Lawful *cough*) didn’t hear any voices, either.

Can’t say the room was made worse by the mess. The few cressets along the walls gave off a pale green glow that made the whole room look sickly…the tapestries hanging at either hand were more of the same vile displays we’d seen in the rest of the temple, but somehow in the green lighting they made my skin crawl.

Ezekiel gave me permission to burn them. I can’t easily get rid of a fresco or mosaic, but I can rid the world of this filthy torture-porn.

Wonillon must not have been avoiding looking at the tapestries, since he spotted something shoved up in the ceiling.

Mikael grabbed it down and found it was a coral scroll-case with a parchment inside.

It wasn’t a scroll or anything…just a note in Common.

Ezekiel wrote down a copy of it. I don’t understand it…something about “Vile Good cloaked by Fair Evil” and “will you answer, Answerer?” and the “whelp of Mitrik”. The pool was pretending to be good – promising things to lure in its prey – but that doesn’t explain who would hide a note like this in the ceiling…and why.

Is it a message for whoever killed the pool and so broke the ceiling?

Well, while we were busy, Lydia and Raven found “club rings” on the under-clerics – gold rings cut like tentacled monsters set with peridots (that seems to be their favorite stone – that and lapis).

We ransacked the rest of the room – and Bel-Sornig’s – and found some extra clothes for Mikael so he didn’t have to go around in rags anymore (though I think I was more embarrassed than Lydia).

There was a lot of the standard: dishes (malachite for the underlings, gold for Bel-S). Lydia found a secret drawer in the desk with a scroll that only Ezekiel could read – and he got very excited. He says it’s got three different spells on it – including “resist fire,” which should come in handy for the next temple.

Bel-S had some good gear – plus a gold belt with malachite and lapis lazuli. His magic steel ring went to Raven for the time being, and he had an iron key that Ezekiel used to unlock his private chest.

A trident hanging on the wall is magical somehow…but it a “bad” way, since after Ezekiel touched it he quickly let go and told everyone else not to mess with it.

Oh, yes…Raven found a box of sugared fruits. After asking Mikael if he’d prepared Neutralize Poison today, he tried one…next time I saw him, he was singing to Merrika in the corner (not exactly on tune, which is weird because usually Raven is a good singer).

Ezekiel found a cloak in Bel-S room that he says is a “Cloak of the Manta-Ray,” which lets you turn into a manta-ray when you go into the water…which I guess is useful in you need to breathe underwater and stuff, but only works for one person at a time.

By the time we were done wrapping the trident in the cloak (so we wouldn’t touch it) and forcing it into the bag of holding, Cuddles was hugging Raven just hard enough to keep him in one place…and Raven had used his magic ring to cast Faery Fire on the two of them, and was busy giggling and saying, “Sparkles.”

Mikael cast Neutralize Poison – and Raven stopped giggling.

The under-clerics had several glowing green orbs about the size of Heiron’s two fists, so we took a couple of those to help light our way.

It was getting pretty late by then, and we’d had a full day, so we decided to bunk down in Bel-S’s room, since Wonillon could wedge the door shut, and none of us could find any secret doors (even sober Raven).

That doesn’t make sense to me, since Bel-S must have had an escape strategy…but perhaps it was more sophisticated than “run far and fast.”

****

After some discussion, Lydia studied up on one Continual Light and one Stinking Cloud, so she could put light on Ezekiel’s shield and give us crowd-control in case we ran into trouble on the way out.

As it all turned out, we were fine…although I was kind of worried about running into undead without a paladin’s oh-so-helpful shield.

We got an early start…which is good, because Ezekiel started out by trying to find a secret door from the under-cleric’s room to connect with the sloping passage by the hydra (according to our maps, and if we’ve been counting our feet right, the floors should connect about there).

Well, while we found their bedroom-proper, with some more jewelry and coins (and two identical little libraries on the “Secrets of Water Evil” and stuff like that…I guess they both had to get the same textbooks), we didn’t find any secret doors.

So in the end we had to return to where we came in – through the “great hall,” past the barracks, and to the spiral staircase.

Not only did we not meet those bugbears and ogre that evaded us yesterday, but we also didn’t meet any undead – which I think is just as well, all things considered.

Our horses took care of themselves nicely (especially considering Yeti’s horse Syphon wasn’t there). Nulb seemed about as quiet as normal (we made no eye contact if we could help it).

****

Reached Homlette with no trouble (we passed a caravan on the way).

This time we dropped our treasure at the tower, since the money-changer is getting a little overwhelmed. The lapis lazuli alone weighed a couple hundred pounds!

Mikael says he’s taking Cuddles and Corby to visit Master Geru in the morning. Ezekiel’s going to go talk with Canon Turjon…he has some questions for him, and more to the point he wants to show him the strange note we found in the ceiling.

I’m going to take Heiron to the practice yard and show him some dodging techniques. Maybe I can teach him some ways to roll with a blow, so that even if an attack does connect, he doesn’t get hurt so badly. Wonillon says he wants to watch, at least for a little bit.

Wonillon also says that lapis should earn us a huge chunk of change for our accounts.

****

So much has gone wrong I can’t even focus.

A messenger says all the prisoners we were keeping in the tower – have been assassinated.

I’m so mad I could spit.

We go to all the trouble of catching them, and keeping them alive, and bringing them back – whether or not they could (or would) give us any useful information, you don’t just slaughter prisoners.

Killing people in the heat of battle is different than offing caged birds.

Obviously our old assassin nemesis (or more like him) are still floating around. Sneaky, deceitful, disguise-wearing, lying, murdering… I just hope he gets a sheaf of arrows in his gut one day, that’s all.

(Raven says we’d better make sure to apply the arrows during battle, when they would lawfully apply, but frankly I don’t feel like waiting that long.)

Better warn Master Osler to take care of himself. He’s been so nice to us, I’d never forgive myself if something happened to him.

Anyway, Ezekiel is back from the Chapel of St. Cuthbert, and he says the Canon thinks the note has something to do with the missing princes. Specifically, the prince had a magic sword named “Answerer.”

They think it’s some kind of taunt.

I think we’d better get the hustle on and skewer some Evil things.

Raven says he paid someone who knows to reassure him the steel ring from Bel-S isn’t some Good-smiting thing. They say it’s a “ring of free action” (like Master Ramne got), which might come in useful to keep Raven from getting paralyzed quite so much (very helpful if he decides to punch ghouls again).

They’re saying I should channel my passion and go ask Elmo for advice (about killing things). Maybe they’re right…he always makes me do push-ups.


Find the previous entry here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *