At the campsite between Homlette and Nulb again. Woods seem quiet.
This morning, we had breakfast in the old guard quarters – one of the first places we cleared in the Temple’s second basement.
Lydia used some kind of magic to figure out what was on the scroll we found in the coffer from the garbage pit. She hopes she can learn some of them, so she can use them again and again.
All loaded up with our anti-water spells, we headed to the one place we hadn’t really investigated – the northern pool of water.
It opens off the winding corridors in the storage wing, but it made us nervous because you never know what’s going to be in a pool of water (especially in this crazy place).
There’s a four foot wall, with water lapping the edge…in a few places, little trickles leak over and run to drains in the floor at our feet.
Tressarian told us there might be something magical at the far end of the pool…there seemed to be an alcove or something, where the water trickled into the pool.
Mikael told us the water seemed to be “normal” water (not magical or anything) and when Raven dipped his javelin in it, nothing abnormal seemed to happen.
We’d been bitten before, though, so naturally we took all the precautions we could think of. Mikael hit the water with his staff, and got a splash for it.
Ezekiel dropped a lit marble in, and chanted some kind of purify spell on it (I’m still not used to that). The room smelled a little better, but nothing seemed to change. The most helpful thing was that when the marble hit the floor of the pool, we could see that it was way deeper than the floor of the room behind us – and that the stones of the pool were all covered with an algae that seemed pretty slippery (from the action of the marble).
We tried one more investigative technique, before actually touching the water. Tressarian can levitate me, so Ezekiel tied a rope to me and then the two of us (me and T) floated to the ceiling.
Apparently he can only go up and down, so I had to push along the ceiling until we were directly over the magical source. I didn’t see anything except maybe a round lump of algae, which seemed even deeper than the area near the wall.
After Ezekiel pulled me back we decided there was nothing for it:
Wonillon was wearing the Necklace of Adaptation (which means he can breathe in Stinking Cloud, now) so we tied a rope to him, and let him climb over the wall. Sure enough, he dropped below our feet, and we saw him slide down the rocks toward the far end of the pool.
When we felt the tension of him climbing on the rope, we pulled him back, and he showed us what all the fuss was about: a shield. It was a magic shield, none the worse for its time in the water, and seemed lighter than it should be.
Ezekiel almost started drooling, and started drying it off with a light in his eyes.
Well, that was all the excitement in that room. We have plenty of stuff to off-load in town, plus Heiron has that hard-thinking look that means he wants me to show him some new moves.
He’s really keeping me on my toes. Even I can barely hit him these days. Pretty soon, he’s going to have to ask the people at the tower for advice, since he’ll be practicing all the blocks and stances I know about.
News in Homlette. The merchants have kited out in the night, apparently suddenly. We theorize that they realized they were being watched.
They left a bunch of their stuff behind – including a little figurine of a black scarab with some kind of symbols on it.
Sir Rufus gave it to Ezekiel, in case it comes in handy in our investigations. Perhaps it’s some kind of token, like a signet ring or proof of membership.
Speaking of rings, Mikael let me keep the Ring of Fire Resistance we found under the fire altar. In exchange, I let him have the Ring of Warmth, since it won’t do anyone any good in a bag.
As for the flametongue sword, we gave it to Heiron. He needs some kind of magic weapon, and it’s much cooler than the ordinary magic broadsword he had. (Even though Tressarian doesn’t like it, and gets catty whenever he catches sight of it. Good thing it can’t talk back, I guess.)
Haven’t seen Lydia for a few days, but that’s because she was at the tower “studying.” I’ve been pretty busy with Heiron, but Raven and Mikael showed up today coming from the woods – with a black bear in tow! Mikael says this is his new friend. I hope Corby and Cuddles don’t get jealous…and that the bear doesn’t have to eat too much.
He’s not the only one with new friends. Lydia came back with an owl on her shoulder. She named him Bacaab, and he sure looks bored. Maybe that’s just because it’s day out.
Tomorrow we head back to the Temple. Ezekiel says we’re heading to the Third Basement, and we voted to take the stairs behind Cleric Kelno’s quarters, since those are more likely to be a back-door stairway. (Kelno is the High Priest of Air who didn’t even get a chance to give his backstory.)
2nd of Planting
So far so good. Everyone else is counting money right now.
I told Tressarian we wanted to be sneaky, so he wouldn’t start shouting at the wrong moment, and then we headed down the stairs.
At the bottom, we found a triangular room with a big brass gong just opposite the stairs. The remains of a bonfire sat beyond that, and the walls are all covered with paintings of eyes…human-like, animal, weird and triangular – all kinds of eyes, and all angry or furious or terrified or ravenous.
I mean, it’s still horrifying, but at least it’s something new.
Nobody was in sight when we arrived, so we tip-toed around to investigate the doors (four – two on either side of the stairs, and two on the opposite sides of the triangle. There’s also an open passage that leads out on the far side).
Ezekiel picked the one to the north-west, and once we were all in position he threw it open.
The first thing I saw was a giant – I think it must have been a “hill giant.”
He saw us, too, and bellowed, “Slaves, defend your king!” Before he finished, though, he was swatting at a swarm of bugs that really seemed to come out of nowhere.
Well, this was my very first chance at a hill giant, so I pulled off an extra shot – and he toppled over with arrows sticking out of his vital arteries.
Heiron launched his arrows, and I heard the yelping of a wolf or something from just around the corner of the room.
No sooner had we dealt with that, than the other three doors crashed open, and ogres and bugbears swarmed out. It was like my birthday all over again!
But…even birthday boys must share. Lydia staggered back under the blow of an ogre – which must have made her mad, because she threw something at them – and the whole room erupted in flame.
(All right, not the whole room. She kept it on the far side where the enemies were, and even then, one ogre survived.)
Mikael charged a bugbear who was on the wrong side of the room and whacked it. I nailed a couple of them. Raven had the surviving ogre tied up in his magic rope, so that Cuddles could bite it more easily.
Major Bearington got excited when Mikael told him to go get it (it was his first time in battle with us) and charged right over Ezekiel to rip the head off the last standing bugbear.
And just like that, as abruptly as it started, the battle was over.
We explored the rooms, and hurried to search the bugbears for valuables before Bearington ate anything important.
One of the rooms has mosaic scenes of what I can only call “mushroom porn.” Ezekiel was going to explain it to me, until Lydia told him not to corrupt me. I figured out it was depraved, but it really doesn’t do anything for me.
Most of the bugbears were wearing black, which I believe is the color of the “Greater Temple.” The hill giant was wearing a black bearskin, which we shoved into the bag of holding before it could make Bearington nervous.
We also found a cabinet full of food (cheese and wine and such) which Raven used to fill out our rations.
Also lots of money, and gems, and jewelry, plus a potion that we’re not sure what it does yet (Ezekiel and Raven haven’t agreed yet). Two of the rings look kind of like signet rings…but why would bugbears have something like that?
Anyway, not a bad start for first thing in the morning. What will the rest of the floor be like…?
Read the next entry here.
Find the previous entry here.