Dear Diary….is someone an over-achiever?

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

The hall led south from the guard quarters we had just cleared, until we could see some kind of light up ahead. It’s always hard to tell, since our shields shine so brightly, but this light seemed unnatural and purplish.

We could also see figures in the room with the light…horrible creatures, like a medusa, a fire giant, a beholder, some kind of were-tiger, a mummy, even a blue dragon and a wyvern! As we got closer, they looked very much like statues…but we’ve learned by now not to take chances.

I warned Tressarian that we were trying to be sneaky, and asked him what he could see. He told us the cressets on the walls (full of globby purple coals or something like that) were Evil – but that the statues didn’t “feel” Evil. There was some kind of magic in the room (the medusa’s cloak appeared to be magical) but that’s all he could tell us without actually entering the room. And even Ezekiel was showing caution and staying on the near side of the threshold.

After some discussion, we decided to follow the corridor that turned away from this room…even though we could see more doorways beyond, we weren’t quite up to dealing with mysterious Evil magic like that.

And whatever else, I think we made the right call.

The corridor turned and headed west, ending in a circular room. The ceiling rose up farther than our lights could reach – especially as the light got caught in huge cobwebs that spanned the room. Fortunately, they were so dusty we think they’re abandoned. (Mikael was hoping to add another spider to his collection, but I don’t think he asked for Neutralize Poison today, and we all know how much Ezekiel likes walking into poisonous things.)

The floor was covered in dust and empty husks…but even though I couldn’t find any footprints, Tres spotted a flagstone that lifted up to reveal a trapdoor. Underneath, clean, well-used steps led down into darkness.

Raven checked them for traps, and assured us they only went down about fifteen feet (Wonillon confirmed this). Well, it seemed better than the purple room in any case, so we tip-toed down them.

At the bottom, a narrow passage led to yet another secret door, and when Ezekiel opened that, he took a step backward at the sight of a giant lizard (he told me later it was a basilisk).

I had an arrow ready, so I fired – and nailed the lizard right through the head. It didn’t seem to mind, and glared at us.

Raven held out his magic ring, and the basilisk started shining with faery fire. Ezekiel waved his mace, and a magic light appeared behind the basilisk’s head.

After this, I’m not exactly sure what all happened. Someone had lit a fire in a channel that ran along the wall, and it was lighting up the room beyond as it raced along the wall both toward and away from us.

Ezekiel charged forward, and while I was trying to decide whether to switch to my magic arrows, Raven ran after him.

The fire along the wall ignited the fuel in two cressets – one at either end of its run – and seemed to stop there…which reassured me.

Ezekiel shouted, “It’s just illusion,” so Mikael moved into the room and started poking at the cresset.

(I think he said, “Hello, centipede,” but I’m not sure).

The basilisk glared at Raven, but when nothing bad happened, I was pretty sure the lizard was just for show. I told Lydia and Wonillon that the basilisk “probably” wasn’t dangerous, but I still thought something sketchy was going on. So Lydia cast protection from evil on herself.

Raven ducked into the body of the basilisk and stood with his feet sticking out of its belly, making strange grunting sounds. If it were someone else, I might worry that it had gotten to him, but that’s the kind of thing he’s always doing.

Ezekiel headed east, where the corridor opened up into the main body of the room, and I had just about decided that I probably didn’t need my magic arrows, and I could cautiously follow the others, when something clattered to the floor.

Mikael rushed forward and around the corner, and I followed (hugging the wall) just in time to see him head through an open door (also hugging the wall). He started chanting a spell I’ve heard all too often in this party.

Lydia asked if it was clear, while Raven moved to where he had a vantage point – his glowing marble and his magic rope in hand. There was a second door opposite the open one, and I kept an eye on it so no one could get the drop on Raven…but turns out I was watching the wrong place.

He yelped (he says he didn’t, but I heard him) as a shadowy woman stepped out of thin air and swiped at him with a knife. I was so keyed up that I missed both my shots at her, but then Raven swung his magic rope and she got all wrapped up.

I moved to a better vantage point, and saw Mikael just helping Ezekiel to his feet. It doesn’t take a genius to put bloody daggers and stained flagstones together, and if Ezekiel hadn’t spoken up right then and said we wanted her as a prisoner, Princess Stabby-stab was about to retire

(Tressarian says I shouldn’t talk that way. He says bloodthirstiness isn’t nice, and after all, she’s only an Assassin, not a fire elemental thing. Nobody understands…)

Now that she was fully visible, she looked like an elf, and blinked around her saying, “What happened? Who are you? Where am I?”

That just made me madder, but Wonillon came up and hustled her away to tie her with “normal” ropes, and Ezekiel told me to help him with the southern door.

Tressarian told us it had a spell on it (Lydia thought probably “Hold Portal” or something) and about that time Mikael looked into a crack in the wall and said, “Where’d the centipede go?”

Raven helped him look, since hunting centipedes is not on my short list of skills, and just about then we had another crisis when Wonillon yanked the lady down to eye level and ripped off the top part of her ear. It sounds extreme – but there was no blood or anything…in fact, underneath her skin looked green and half-orcish.

I took Tressarian over by her – and Ezekiel said, “Oh, good – find out what gear she has that’s magical!”

(A short sword, ring, leather armor, and shield.)

By the time we were done disarming her, Lydia told us the door was free, and Ezekiel opened it.

Obviously a bedroom, with a fancy embroidered spider on the bedding (Mikael wants it). A couple parchments hung on the walls, and the shelves and cupboards were crowded with mummified animals (some soaking in jars, some mounted on wires…very creepy. Not what I’d want in my bedroom, that’s for sure).

As soon as he opened the door, Ezekiel rushed to the wall opposite, cheering, “A map of the entire dungeon level!” Next thing we knew, something exploded – and Ezekiel slammed backward into Mikael’s arms. So Mikael cast yet another heal spell to bring Ezekiel back to consciousness.

(It’s nice Mikael seems amused by the back-and-forth, but really Ezekiel, don’t you think you’re taking him for granted? I mean, one of these times he might not be able to bring you back again.)

There’s a symbol on the floor right by the door that I found very suspicious, but even though Tres said it was magical, it hasn’t done anything to us. He also told us that the parchment hanging on the east wall (by another door) was magical – and Lydia suspects it’s a warning to leave the door alone…an explosive warning! (So far we haven’t triggered it.)

When he was done holding Ezekiel’s hand, Mikael went to the corner of the room and pointed out a crack that could potentially lead through the wall into the corridor where we were – and, more to the point, that his centipede could have fit through. It’s definitely sounding like this centipede is a suspicious character (disappearing as soon as the assassin was captured? Suspicious!) and Corby is looking quite disappointed that she hasn’t found it.

Tres also told us that the south wall (behind Ez’s exploding birthday present) was magical, and Lydia deduced that it was some kind of spell that means you can’t go through there for ten minutes. Well, that made it pretty obvious where our centipede-wizard had fled, but we didn’t have any devices for forcing the entrance and following him until the spell was up.

So Ezekiel and I took the time to look over the northern room. This was also a bedroom, though much less fancy than the wizard’s (fitting to a HALF-ORC), and most of the space was crammed with strange and exotic weapons. Various knives, maces with weird animal heads, a man-catcher, and a matched set of throwing knives, among others.

Raven also opened the east door (that the parchment warned us so sternly about) and found a collection of staves in various woods, some bone and ivory rods, and a rack of magical wands…plus a chest. We gathered up the wands and rods (plus some potions) but left the rest for the moment.

The secret door had finally unlocked, and we wanted to chase after the wizard if we could (although we had basically decided we couldn’t catch him today). Wonillon and the animals stayed with the prisoner while the rest of us explored further.

The passage led at last to some kind of magical workshop, with table space for making potions and things, a couple big books on stands, plus boxes and nick-nacks and cabinets and who knows what.

Tres and I sniffed out the magic stuff – and spotted a little iron box that radiated Evil.

It’s clear the wizard took some things (there’s a frog statue that looks like a stand for some other tool) but he left a ton of expensive stuff behind…plus we grabbed his spell reagents, and what Ez and Lydia think are some spell-books – so hopefully that’ll hamstring him a bit.

Maybe the most impressive thing was the back of the cabinet. Tres told us it was magical, so we found a key and unlocked it…to discover a big ol’ mirror built into the back. Not just any mirror, though…a magic mirror that Lydia says can be used for spells and reading thoughts and stuff. Creepy, no? Heiron and I fetched the bedclothes from the wizard’s bed and wrapped the mirror up in a frame to transport it back to town (thank goodness for bags of holding, since it’s super awkward otherwise).

The two tomes on the book-stands were out of the ordinary, too…Lydia says that if you read them, and you’re the right kind of person, your mind and understanding and stuff can become more powerful. But if you’re the wrong kind, it’ll hurt you or make you dumber or something. I’m not sure I get the picture, but I don’t have to.

Ezekiel really, really wanted to bring the Evil box back with us (I’ve had my suspicions) so that the enemy couldn’t use whatever was inside…but he couldn’t even touch it to carry it.

Raven went over to help, but says he “decided” he didn’t want to touch it. He was worried about opening it in town near so many innocents, and Ez was worried about opening it here, on Evil’s home turf.

Someone should have pointed out that neither of them even wanted to get it on their hands, so what were they arguing about?

In the end, we found a sheet and Lydia set it in the middle so we could wrap it up – and then Raven and Mikael each took an end to carry it out.

I don’t know if it’s got a demon or an evil genie or what inside – or maybe it’s just an evil soup-can on the end of a magic string…either way, I’m not getting involved unless something needs killing.

On the way out, Wonillon took his necklace of adaptation into the wand-closet and checked the chest in there…as he suspected, it tripped some kind of acid gas trap, but we had already gotten everything we were likely to want out of there. In fact, there was nothing in the chest except bits of books and papyrus.

To top off the bag of holding, we crammed all the weapons we could fit in there (Mikael says he wants the man-catcher) since at least then the bad guys can’t use them. Don’t know how these things work, but I hope we wrapped the mirror well enough.

The assassin didn’t have anything else in her room except various disguise clothes (like merchants’ and laborers’ clothes), some bottles of what we assume is poison (ew!), and some wires that made Ez go, “Oh!” (but I don’t think he took any).

It feels like we were just back in town, but we have a full load to deposit again. Hopefully Master Bern can get some use out of some of these things (Lydia is clearing her throat at me, but how could she be reading over my shoulder from there? Is she using the mind-reading mirror?).

And I am not letting this special enemy of mine out of my sight. I hope Wonillon keeps a good grip on that rope.

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2 thoughts on “Dear Diary….is someone an over-achiever?

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary….we aren't stupid - Kimia Wood

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