Dear Diary….the bug-man and the badger-stags

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

Starday, 15 Planting

Before calling it a day, Ezekiel said we should check out the room where “the queen’s pet” was supposed to live – still going off the map that assassin gave us. So we headed there (opposite the passage is a fountain on the wall…ugly stone faces vomiting water into the basins. I for one won’t be drinking any.)

Very curious set-up in the “pet’s” room. After the turn of the hall, the floor abruptly drops probably sixteen feet – except for a narrow ledge that runs around the entire room; Raven could probably move on it, but anyone else would probably fall. The whole lower part of the room – walls and floor – is coated with bronze. There’s also a grill or ladder of some kind attached to the ceiling, with a chain hanging from the end into the room. Bone fragments and other litter was scattered sparsely on the floor, and the whole place gave me a decidedly creepy feeling.

Mikael turned himself into a bat (because he can do that, you know!) and flew out into the room to check things out (we figured he could get away from anything dangerous…or he’d be so small whatever was down there couldn’t bother him).

He made a pass of the room beyond (huge and octagonal), then returned and told us (once he was back in human form) about two little side rooms to the north and south. In one of those rooms, he described seeing a “bug-like man” with big pincher arms. Lydia said it sounded like an “umber-hulk,” which are supposed to live in the Underdark or something, and sound like bad news (tunneling through walls to jump you from behind, that kind of thing).

Ezekiel decided we should kill it now, before it was used in the Evil army or something, and we figured that if we made noise it might come out and our ranged weapons could take it out. So we banged on the grill and made noises like helpless food offerings, and Mikael even banged his staff against the bronze coating of the walls, but it was no use.

Heiron volunteered to climb the ladder-grill-thing, so while Ez and Wonillon and the pets guarded the corridor, he grabbed the rungs and started working his way toward the end with the chain.

When he was maybe half-way along – out over the drop into the rest of the room – the ladder started shifting at an angle…his weight was pulling it down so that it levered down on a hinge above our heads. That made it definitely look like a way to climb in and out of the pit (you could grab the chain and pull the ladder down) but we decided maybe he shouldn’t be the one doing that, so he climbed back.

Then Ezekiel got one of his “noble sacrifice” fits that he gets, and had Lydia cast Protection from Evil on him…and then he had us lower him into pit on a rope of climbing (I put our second one on my belt, and maybe that will be a good place to keep it for a while, so it’s handier in case we need it quick).

As soon as his armored feet clanged onto the bronze floor, we heard the creature charge.

It’s just as weird as Mikael described it. Heiron and I each got a shot into it before Lydia launched her fireball. It stared at Ezekiel and kind of flailed at him – but before it could do any real damage, he clocked it with his mace and felled it to the ground.

It all seemed rather anti-climactic…but that’s how these things go sometimes. Heiron and I climbed down the rope – he to search for treasure, me to skin the beastie.

[sketch of umber-hulk; diagram of hide attachments]

Lydia chewed me out that I ruined its eyes (it had four of them) but no one told me they were good for anything, and I think I made a pretty neat job of skinning an insectoid head if I do say so myself.

Oh, right – Heiron and Wonillon searched the siderooms. One of them was clearly the bathroom, and full of stinky remains of adventurers. Mikael sent Corby down to help Wonillon “find shiny!” so while the two of them were busy, Heiron dug through the umber-hulk’s bedroom (the “bed”/nest was a mound of cloth, skins, furs, and the like…and it took a while to figure out if anything down there was worthwhile).

I had just gone to help him when I heard a commotion of some kind upstairs. I scrambled up the rope to find the others in pitched battle with some trolls.

Lydia fried one, and Sergeant Bearington bit the head off another. I lined up a shot – but the string slipped, and if Ezekiel hadn’t ducked at just that moment… Well, anyway, he did duck, and the arrow got the last troll through the throat – knocking him back into the ugly fountain on the wall.

Heiron joined us and stabbed the troll bodies with his flametongue sword until they were ash.

Wonillon joined us – wearing new boots just his size! – and after the healers had patched up the wounded, we voted to spend the night in Cleric Kelno’s quarters (I didn’t like the idea of using the wizard’s room; he’s still around here somewhere, after all!).

Sounds like Cuddles took the worst of the troll attacks. He’s all back together again, thanks to Ezekiel, but I don’t like the way he’s looking at me. It’s not like I was even there at the time – and if he’s thinking of someone easy to swallow, that would be Wonillon! Note to self: save Cuddles a bugbear or something next time I see one.

****

Back to town again. Can’t say the day was exactly satisfactory.

We got up early, and continued exploring past the umber-hulk room. The east end of the corridor leads into a large room with a domed roof, and huge boulders stuck here and there. Like the magic-sunlight room, I think it’s supposed to be like a natural climate somewhere in the world…a cold, damp wind blows through (obviously it could only come from magical means), and the walls are designed to look like “natural” rocks and cave formations.

As we approached the doorway, we heard what sounded like a woman’s voice saying, “Oh, darling!”

If that wasn’t bad enough, a man answered her something like, “Sweetheart, you fill me with passion!”

This being in the Temple of Elemental Evil. Where most of the wall art doesn’t deserve the name. We all knew we were heading for something bad – but Ezekiel and Wonillon didn’t hesitate, and charged ahead to find out what it was.

Next thing we knew, something attacked…but even after killing two of the things, we’re still not sure what they are. I’m calling them lion-badger-stags…Heiron calls them “ugly as sin.” Were they the ones speaking with human voices, or was that a different magic nonsense? No one knows – although Ezekiel and Lydia had a big long discussion about it.

Tressarian and I poked around for magical items, and we found a dead dwarf adventurer. It feels odd to plunder his gear like this, but we’re not really equipped to give him proper burial. We also spotted a magical axe down a crack in the floor – but our Rope of Climbing was able to grab onto it, and then we pulled it out.

With that settled, we returned to investigate a secret door Ezekiel had noticed on our way in. Wonillon helped him open it, and they entered the little closet room beyond…but it took Lydia and Bacaab (the owl) to help them find the second secret door in the far wall.

Through that…well, I could smell what was past that. Ezekiel just told us it was a prison, and went to check the main door on the far wall.

Filthy straw coated the floor, except for a drain hole in the center, and an assortment of humanoids shared the space with two humans.

Ezekiel fed each of them a ration (he never makes distinctions) and was getting ready to lead everybody out when the humans told us that the bugbear and orc “ate Charlie.”

They weren’t eager to travel with creatures of this kind – and we couldn’t blame them – but as Ezekiel pointed out, our alternatives weren’t good, either. We suggested giving them weapons and letting them fight for their death, but would that really be better?

Wonillon took the orc out of the discussion by knifing him (he told me later it was in exchange for Charlie) and then Ezekiel got the humans out of the room.

Thinking back on it, we could have just left the others there…but I didn’t think of that at the time. And as much as I hate goblins, and their stench gives me nightmares – killing prisoners is bad mojo. Even if they weren’t our prisoners, it’s still the kind of thing that comes back to bite you.

So Wonillon tied up the survivors (a bugbear and two goblins) and we escorted the whole group out of the Temple.

Once on the surface, we helped the humans into our cart, and let the bugbear and his tag-alongs run off into the woods. As Wonillon pointed out, the bugbear won’t starve.

Well, if I run into them again, trying to raid the local villages…I won’t make any distinction.

The humans say they were kidnapped from a village beyond Homlette, and kept as food for a two-headed giant.

I look forward to giving this creep indigestion. Eating people…you just don’t do that.

Speaking of which, too late to find out if the humanoids were kidnapped, also, or just disgraced servants of the Temple. Not that it matters a great deal. Next time, they might not be so lucky.


Find the previous entry here.

One thought on “Dear Diary….the bug-man and the badger-stags

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary….class specialization - Kimia Wood

Leave a Reply

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