Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s death counter

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

Lydia has given Raven her cloak of protection – since after all, he is more likely to run to the front and hit enemies (although she showed us some techniques she’s been learning at the tower with her staff, and is excited that she might actually hit something if it came down to it).

By the way, while Ezekiel was fiddling around with the weird magic trident, he discovered it had a hollow handle, with a nice, big aquamarine inside – plus a long scroll covered with cleric spells. (He’s calling the trident a “Trident of Yearning” because when you touch it, it makes you want to get in water or take a bath or something.)

As for Mikael’s new rod of smiting, though, no one in town knows specifically what its deal is.

Mikael and Raven have recovered their supplies as well as possible, buying replacement clothes and boots for the ones destroyed in acid…

I guess that’s a danger of carrying around too much expensive stuff – but there’s not a good way to get around it.

Had a lovely time in the woods with my “friends,” if by “lovely” we mean lots of push-ups and obstacle courses and getting my butt kicked. On the other hand, I really feel like I can swing an ax without pulling my muscles – or hitting something I don’t mean to. Even Master Elmo said I was getting “pretty good” at it. If we come across another ax in the dungeon, I can try it out…but until then, I think I’m carrying enough stuff.

****

14 Coldeven, Freeday

Roads disgustingly safe, and we arrived at the Temple without incident. Glad the ravens and rats have decided to just ignore us.

Ezekiel says he wants to find that slope we poked our noses down a while back, where the hydra was – he thinks it’ll lead us right around to the Water Temple so we can finish clearing that out.

****

We found the sloping passage easily enough — it’s on the main corridor from whichever stair you take down to the first basement. At the bottom, there’s a huge bronze sheet in bas-relief of ugly leering creatures. I don’t care how much all this bronze would be worth, I’m liking Ezekiel’s suggestion to create an earthquake and bury all these hideous pictures for good. Later.

Ezekiel turned us left, to avoid the hydra for the time being – and we ran smack into…an “owlbear,” apparently. It was chained to a ring in the middle of the floor, right at the turning of the passage so that no one could go past it. All the walls near it were scratched and gouged as high as it could reach – at least ten feet (Raven said we knew that because it was “two Elwyns,” and then he said it a couple more times when nobody laughed).

When the creature saw us (an unnatural mashing of beasts if ever I saw one) it started growling and hoot-howling – but it couldn’t quite reach us because of the chain.

I’ve learned by now, and figured it was probably calling the guards or announcing our presence…but there wasn’t much we could do about that until we killed it, so Heiron and I shot it down.

No sooner had it gone mercifully silent, than we heard someone talking in the corridor beyond – something in an inhuman language.

We charged after whoever was talking – Mikael shouting after it (he said he was speaking pixy, and I guess it didn’t sound like what the enemy was saying, or what Wonillon said afterwards).

I never like chasing after things. Half of me is afraid of being led into a trap, and half of me is worried that our party will be strung out, separated, and flanked. But there’s only so much you can do about that.

We chased the troll-voices through a string of stinking rooms (how can trolls stand to live with themselves? They all smell like putrid meat and refuse!) and came around to a corridor that connected on the other side.

As soon as I saw that it connected (Ezekiel shouted back that we were wrapping around to where we were), I called back to Raven (who was covering our rear) that it all circled back to the entrance and the hydra spot.

So he called that he would go back the way we came, so he didn’t have to walk through all the troll stink, and disappeared.

Just about that time (as I was reacting to the bones stuck on the wall as shelves, to support human and other skulls), Ezekiel cried, “There they are! Light ‘em, Lydia!”

Lydia threw something, and fire licked the walls of the corridor while something went “foom!” – and other things screamed and bellowed.

I made it through the last door, lined up my shot, and nailed a greenish troll (I guess the fireball didn’t completely take him out).

Another one rushed around the corner – even bigger and uglier, and wearing armor, too – but Ezekiel smacked him with the mace so hard even that big brute took a step back and shook his head.

The green one – the one I didn’t quite take out – stabbed at Ezekiel with a strange giant fork…and then the hydra raised its five heads (it’s quite unnerving to actually see it in person).

Each head swung at Ezekiel – but only one of them got a bite in. He kept the others off with his shield – except for one head, that clamped onto his helmet and seemed to sit sucking on it.

Mikael cast faery fire, and Heiron got a good shot in (though if he’d been a little to the left, he would have hit a gap in the ribcage, I believe).

Ezekiel laid out the big troll with his mace…and we won’t talk about what I was doing, because apparently I thought the wall was very dangerous, and lodged an arrow deep in the joints of the stone.

That got me to pay more attention, and my next two shots got the green troll – and a hydra head – through the throats.

Mikael moved up with the others to the corner, and bashed in yet a third troll – a troll with Raven’s spear in its gut, no less.

As we surveyed the carnage, we noticed on the big troll – the first one to go down – his wound from Ezekiel’s mace was already beginning to close.

Trolls are creepy like that.

So Ezekiel held him down with his magic mace, and Raven took to stabbing the other two in turn, while the rest of us doused them in oil and set them on fire.

We also took the time to notice the hydra had a manacle around one leg that was presumably connected to a chain in the floor at one time…but the trolls apparently freed it. Good tactical move on their part…though not quite good enough!

Lydia said the heart of a hydra is valuable, which meant – field-dressing exercise! The hydra is definitely the largest thing I’ve ever skinned –

[sketch of hydra anatomy]

The others took long enough, I got to finish skinning it, too. (They were busy discovering that the big troll didn’t burn; so they took all its stuff – including bone armor, a magic ring, and some un-troll-ish jewelry – and re-doused and re-burned it.) Could have made a better job of it with more specialized tools, but where are you going to find that? Someone pointed out it would be a great base for magic leather armor.

I was just cleaning up my knives and bundling everything away when a deep, bellowing voice called from the far end of the corridor, “There him is!”

Ogres are notoriously weak in grammar – and sure enough, two ogres appeared coming north toward us.

Heiron fired (and snapped himself in the face with his bowstring, poor guy) – but he bought me time to pick up my bow and get one of the ogres through the shoulder.

Wonillon and Raven rushed forward, and Raven finished off my kill.

Mikael and Ezekiel took out the second ogre while I was…(we won’t talk about how I got my arm tangled in my bowstring AGAIN and I had to take my time to get it un-wound – since although of course I have a spare bowstring, I don’t have a spare bow. Maybe should think about that.)

Anyway, the enemy was dealt with…Ezekiel took the opportunity to thank Mikael for healing him while we were waiting around – and to mention that the spell felt more potent than it should have.

With that taken care of, we went back around – past the owlbear – and followed the passage down, around, and north until it connected with other rooms…from the smell, and the sleeping mats, we assume it’s bugbear-quarters.

(We did pass a door with a staircase down…when we’re done here, we’ll have to clear the next level.)

[big, sprawling map that runs off the page]

Ezekiel and Raven said those sleeping rooms were where the bugbears and ogre were that we chased off (so where are they now?! Anyone’s guess!). So that, of course, brought us to the “sanctuary” of the Water Temple.

Lydia cast Detect Magic, and told us that the four gargoyles in the corners of the room were magical…and so was the huge, round idol thing. This idol is the one by the curtain to the clerics’ quarters, that looked like someone mashed a pile of fish and tentacled monsters into an amorphous jelly-ball (made of serpentine stone).

(Lydia said the whole room radiated “magic energy,” but that’s no surprise when it’s so damp in this room only – and don’t forget the strange, greenish glow.)

The fountain with the hideous toothed fish spitting water, and the altar-basin with the gems and coins sitting in shallow water, both seemed to have “real, natural” water (according to Mikael) and weren’t magical (according to Lydia).

So Ezekiel told me to get ready with my magic sword, and we’d try to smash the gargoyles before they could get the drop on us.

I covered one corner, and he covered the other – and I told Heiron to stand back (he chose to cover Lydia, which shows he knows his role and is embracing it, but I also want him covered by someone until he has these dodge techniques down better).

Ezekiel swung, and I swung – but I missed my hit because when the mace connected, there was a big flash of light, and the rustle of dust falling to the ground.

I must have been so surprised I dropped my sword. When I straightened back up, the gargoyle was staring at me with creepy blank eyes.

A moment later, Ezekiel rushed up and whacked it – with accompanying blinding flash – and left a little pile of dust…and a cloak.

Ezekiel chuckled a little, and trotted off to take out the other two (which didn’t seem to have noticed our activities, so that’s good). I followed him around as back-up, but he didn’t really need it.

Each gargoyle left behind a cloak – but before we had a chance to examine those, Ezekiel went up to the huge idol-thing and swung his mace at it.

He hit it, but there was no light this time – and I couldn’t really tell if he chipped anything off of it or not.

This time, the statue noticed…and started to roll. It didn’t seem to be moving that quickly, but it was too fast for Ezekiel (he was wearing that platemail, after all) and rolled right over the top of him.

Like how chefs roll dough into a ball, and then flatten it out to make flat-bread or pastries…there’s a disturbing image to fall asleep to.

We couldn’t focus much on Ezekiel, of course, because the ball was still rolling…gently, but deliberately.

I retreated behind the basin-altar — I may have had trouble hitting things today, but you hit even worse while flat as a pancake.

Heiron, stout fellow, landed a few shots in the thing – I think he even broke off one of the hideous eel heads. Raven whipped out his Ring of Shooting Stars and fired off a blast – the giant ball sparkled a little, but you can’t expect a stone statue to yelp in pain.

Mikael worked his way around the sheltered side of the altar, and slipped forward to cast a healing spell on Ezekiel. I thought at the time that it was a valiant but futile effort (living people don’t do well that smooshed) but it turns out he made the right call.

I guess the thing didn’t notice him (what sense could a hunk of rock have, anyway?) because it was attacking Raven.

I think he was deciding whether or not to try his spear, when the hideous thing lashed out with a tentacle (maybe it was one of the carved eels, animated? Not like you expect a monstrous rolling ball to make sense). It smacked him around pretty badly, and knocked him into the corner – but that’s when he tried something with his ring I’ve never seen before.

A ball of lightning shot out and collided with the idol…the idol cracked and fell to the floor in pieces.

After a moment, it seemed clear that the action was over. Our group huddled by the door went to collect the cloaks left by the gargoyles, while I went to help Mikael scrape Ezekiel off the floor so we could get him raised.

Imagine our surprise when we started collecting various bits of his body – to hear him breathing!

He’d been carrying three healing potions, you see, and when they got crushed by the idol, they ground into his fresh wounds (it looked as nasty as it sounds).

However these things work, they apparently healed him at the right moments to keep his body and soul together… Mikael quickly started chanting a spell to bring Ezekiel’s skull and bones back to where they were supposed to be.

As we picked him up, we found he was practically coated in shards of potion-bottles…every single one of his precious draughts was smashed and soaked into his clothes – except for one. The filter of love is still intact.

Part of me’s amazed he’s still lugging that around from Explictika’s lair. I mean, you never know when something’s going to come in handy, but…

Anyway, the good news is we don’t have to truck back to Veluna or someplace to get him raised again (Raven reminded me they had to travel that far to bring me back because no one in Homlette can do it).

Lydia did warn us not to put on any of the cloaks – she says she’s read about them, and they can transform you into a gargoyle…but there’s a chance that your mind will change, too – and then you’re stuck.

Ezekiel grumped something about lesser demons and zombies disguised as gargoyles, but I think his lungs still aren’t completely attached the right way or something.

On the positive side, his magic armor looks fine! Finding a blacksmith to pound it back into shape would also be a pain, but it seems to have taken care of itself.

Too bad it didn’t completely take care of Ezekiel.

By that time, we were all ready to bunk down, anyway – so we went down to Bel-Sornig’s room, and Wonillon wedged the door.

Raven and Ezekiel are both in a bad way – less bad after Mikael used up his healing spells – and a good night’s sleep will do them good.

There are plenty of the rest of us to keep a look-out…just in case there’s a secret door in here, and someone tries to get the drop on us.

Now that it’s all over, we can almost laugh about it. (Not Ezekiel, though, but he’s not that good at laughing at things.) Glad that we were not defeated by the giant stone ball…and tomorrow we should be able to keep going.


Find the previous entry here.

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