Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”
Night passed quietly. Rest seemed to do Ezekiel good.
First thing, he pulled Mikael aside for a “strategy session” – both of them being “cleric types” and all.
So Raven and I went through Bel-Sornig’s room to make sure we hadn’t missed anything. No sign of a secret passage…so that’s good, I guess.
I think Ezekiel said something like he got “something” to “replace” the healing potions he lost, but I’m not sure. He was kind of muttering.
Mikael performed healing rites for Ezekiel and Raven, and we were set to keep moving.
First order of business was to “deal with” the altar-basin in the Water Temple “sanctuary.” It’s bronze and about four feet high.
I’d known it had water and coins in it, but I didn’t realize how deep it was. Ezekiel stuck his arm all the way in, said, “Oh, that’s saltwater,” and told me to bring the bag of holding over.
As soon as he started messing with the altar, the pieces of the “juggernaut” idol on the floor started hooting. Obviously an alarm of some kind…but fortunately we seem to have killed everything within earshot of the alarm. It sure got annoying, though.
We cleared a whole pile of gems out of the water basin, plus a hefty amount of coins. So I guess it was worth it to take a look – besides irritating the dumb rock, of course.
The rest of us were ready to keep moving – but Ezekiel had something he wanted to do first.
He headed over to the fountain with the hideous fish face, and filled up his waterskin…but then he stood there praying over it for what felt like a long time.
He says he was sanctifying it to make “holy water” — I didn’t know he could do that, but I guess sometimes you gotta try new things to find out.
There are double bronze doors on the east side of the “sanctuary” – I don’t know how we managed to miss them until now – covered with more of those ugly, leering faces. (Leering on the other side of your faces now, eh?)
When we opened the doors, they revealed a wide corridor that seemed to glow with a green radiance. Farther down, it looked like it turned to red…but Ezekiel was not interested in venturing in to find out.
(He’s a puzzle, that’s for sure. Some things, he’s all ready to charge in without hesitation. Then, suddenly, he seems to get fits of caution and won’t even step through a door.)
Anyway, we took the long way around to the Air Temple “sanctuary” (where we had such a rough encounter with the spirit that wasn’t undead and RAVEN’S SMOKE).
While the rest of us stood guard at the top of the west stairs, Lydia cast Detect Magic and ran around the room with the Boots of Speed, trying to get an idea what we should look out for. She said the north door (with the repelling runes), the two crystal braziers on silver chains, and the altar (and utensils) were all magical.
The decor of the Air Temple is certainly more spartan than several of the other temples.
Ezekiel had Lydia cast Protection from Evil on him (since we were out of a paladin), and ventured onto the floor alone to take the other crystal dagger and the crystal bowl from the altar.
When he picked them up, funnels of wind seemed to rise out of the pit and hit him, but he kept his feet. A glyph of some kind on the altar also flared…perhaps it thought that, since he was grabbing all the tools, he was going to do a sacrifice.
Ezekiel brought us the two daggers and the bowl and made me put them in the bag of holding (Lydia said they weren’t magical anymore, but you can never be too careful with these cursed things. On the other hand, Ezekiel hasn’t been hurt by walking around with the one dagger in his belt. On the other other hand, he wasn’t carrying the complete set. What if it tries to mind-control me?)
Ezekiel went back down the steps with his waterskin of holy water and tried to douse the brazier nearest us.
Like before, smoke poured out of the brazier, burying the floor in dark, choking fumes…but something else happened, too.
A creature – at least as big as Ezekiel, maybe twice as tall, and looking like a human mashed with a vulture – appeared next to him and slashed at him…but it recoiled with an ugly exclamation I’m sure was swearing, wherever it came from.
Heiron let loose the arrow he had ready, and nailed the thing in its birdy face.
Mikael cast faery fire, and the creature flailed around a bit – but the sparkles seemed to “take,” and I could see its vital areas light up.
It slashed at Ezekiel with four arms and its beak – but only nicked him a bit while he was ducking in to try and bash it.
I lined up my shots, with the help of Mikael’s spell, and landed both arrows in it…it died with a squawking, screaming cry.
By this time, Ezekiel had worked his way back up the stairs to escape the smoke. While we waited for it to dissipate, he smacked himself with his own mace, muttering – then gave a sigh.
He told us the creature was a “vrok demon” – and someone (maybe Heiron?) said it went down pretty fast for a demon. So Ezekiel explained it was pretty low down on the totem-pole of demons.
Once the smoke had evaporated, and nothing was on the floor but the reliable swirling mist of this place, we crossed the room to take up positions on the opposite staircase so we could cover the second brazier while Ezekiel doused it. (The first brazier seemed to have gone out, so that was progress.)
(The east staircase led to more double doors, which we found led to a corridor that leads back to the “great hall.” Have to explore that more later.)
Ezekiel dumped the rest of his waterskin on the second brazier, and the system repeated itself.
Dark smoke poured out, and a hideous vulture-demon-thing with (at least) four clawed arms appeared.
It was at this point that we remembered Ezekiel’s protection from evil had run out.
I got the creature in the joint between shoulder and wing…and then my next shot took out the first crystal brazier and knocked it to the floor. It was – twitching, all right?
Ezekiel kept it distracted while I put a couple more arrows in it, and then he hit it. Even from where we were standing, I saw the purple lightening surge up the mace, and ram’s head on the end glowed briefly.
(That can’t be healthy, right?)
Chuckling, Ezekiel joined us on the stairs for a minute while the smoke cleared. Then we could recover the silver chains and the crystal that was still valuable.
Mikael healed Ezekiel of his little demon scratches, and we went to investigate the southern doors at the top of the southern stairs.
This proved to be a new kind of area. The doors opened to a hallway – we assume it connects with the corridor we saw in the Water Temple – but the area there was glowing with a grey luminosity. It seemed to be pulsing, too.
Off to the west, it turned to the green of the Water Temple…to the east, it turned red (where the Fire Temple, the last of the under-temples, must be).
Straight across from the door, a huge bronze sheet sat – with a windlass to help raise or lower it.
According to the map, we figured it connected with the corridor in between the hydra and the unnatural-cross-of-owl-and-bear.
Ezekiel and Wonillon were first, and ventured over the threshold. They both yelped as a magical wind tossed them against the bronze barrier, and their noses turned red with cold.
One of them said the air in there smelled funny – like history and ages and war or something – but I don’t know what that would smell like.
I got out a rope while Raven tested the hallway by tossing a pebble from his boot over the threshold. The pebble dropped to the floor and didn’t do anything interesting.
I told the rope of climbing to attach to Ezekiel’s waist (being specific, see…can’t be too careful) and tried to pull him back…but he’s way heavier than I am, plus wearing plate armor, and I was trying to keep from losing my balance and falling through the door – so anyway, it didn’t work too well, and he peeled the rope off and tossed it back to me, grumbling about something.
He called across to us that he and Wonillon would raise the barricade and take the long way around past the hydra corridor.
That leaves the rest of us with nothing to do but sit on our hands…and search the other corners of the Air Temple for secret doors.
Raven and Lydia found several – we assume they’re to provide escape in the event the temples fight each other.
We must keep our eyes and ears open. If undead show up while we have neither a cleric, nor a paladin, things could get dangerous…
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