Dear Diary….class specialization

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

Good news: town has been quiet. We may be stirring up the evil cultists, but so far they’re keeping their attention on us…not on the ordinary folks behind the lines.

Tomorrow we return to the Temple. The prisoners we rescued are already on their way home. One more success story.

****

We started by heading up a passage that slants between the bronze umber-hulk room and the secret door to the prison. Not far along, stairs lead down about thirty feet. As soon as the room opened out, Wonillon charged forward. (Whatever you say about the little guy, he had pluck and enthusiasm…)

Moments later, the rest of us got close enough to see what he was attacking. A giant with two heads stood next to a firepit in the center of the room. It was dark when we arrived, by after Lydia fired her fireball, it started smoldering.

So did the etin’s club – but before he could do any damage with it, Ezekiel bashed one head with his mace, Mikael bit it with insects, and I nailed the second head with an arrow.

Nothing else in the etin’s quarters really interested us – a cask of poor beer, a stinky pile of bedding, and a pot of cold stew that probably had human-ish bits in it – even if it didn’t smell so unappetizing. We’ll have to let Raven know how much we miss his cooking.

The etin’s room must really have been a hub of traffic. Four iron doors led out of the room – two east, two north – plus a passage that headed west and ended in yet another door.

Wonillon and Lydia opened the doors for us…to discover every single one had stairs leading up – like the staircase we’d come down to get there. Someone very thoughtfully built a room with a forty-foot ceiling so giants would have one place they felt comfortable…right at the crossroads of the passages. I assume he was supposed to guard the doors?

Ezekile took Heiron with him and dashed off down a passage, telling the rest of us to “guard this area.” If he took Lydia with him, we’d really be suspicious. (I guess he had a good idea where it led, and wanted to save time?)

While we waited for him, Lydia wondered why the etin had an oil-soaked club, ready for him to use fire on whatever he was fighting. Maybe he wanted to be ready for one of those disgusting slimes that we’re always running into down here? Maybe the Temple should have installed a slime-excluder somewhere…

Well, Ezekiel and Heiron came back and announced that they found another cell of the prison, but both areas are empty now (except maybe for some ogre thigh-bones and such. I will lose no sleep over dead ogres).

Next, Ez picked a door to the north, and we followed it (all of us, this time) through a well-stocked pantry. We’d have plenty of cooking supplies – if we ever stayed in the Temple more than an afternoon. Really, lately it seems like we have picnics in here, and then head back to town for our hot baths and stuff.

We did find a big cask of brandy that someone thought might be worth money (that and a crystal goblet set), so we took it along… Sgt. Bearington wears it well.

We continued down the corridor to another of the ugly fountains – with a room opposite.

And here’s where it gets…personal.

Ezekiel went first, and Wonillon went with him (he sure wasn’t one to hang back, that gnome). All I could see through the door was surprisingly vivid carpet, and a dead body…an elf lady, from the look of things, though when Ez picked up her hand you could see the skin was barely keeping the bones together. She’d been dead for ages…still with a dagger in her back.

Then – screaming. I don’t know where the screaming was coming from, or who was doing it, and Mikael at least is nice enough not to talk about it.

I just know I pulled myself together and found myself running down the passage back the way we’d come. Panting a little, I came back – holding Tressarian because he made me feel better.

Lydia was crowded by the door with Mikael, wiggling her fingers like she was thinking about something, but I stayed out in the hallway and kept watch with Heiron. He didn’t ask where I went, and I felt better just keeping watch with him and Tressarian.

All we could hear from inside the room was Ezekiel grunting, and sometimes bellowing, “Give me strength,” and things like that.

Finally, he said “Mercy is rest” or something, there was one more angry scream, and then Lydia seemed to think it was safe.

Mikael dragged Wonillon out of the room and chanted his healing spell…but Wonillon didn’t seem any different. There wasn’t a mark on him, but he was white and stiff and staring.

Ez called me to the door so Tres could tell us if anything was magical (I didn’t like going too far into the room). The dead body was clutching a stone carved with runes that’s magical, and as far as Lydia can tell, it’s something about avoiding poison (a “periapt” she says). So, naturally, we said Ezekiel should hold on to it.

Besides some fancy jewelry and rich clothes, there wasn’t much left of interest. Mikael found a book of elven poetry, but if I’m understanding right there was too much questionable symbolism with leaves and not enough actual trees for his tastes.

The paintings on the walls were certainly “questionable” – and the cabinet in the corner had displays of various mummified body parts (human and animal!). Ez says there’s no question the elf was part of the Temple hierarchy before her death, and he and Lydia have a theory that she was in the way of the wizard’s advancement, so he had his personal assassin take care of her.

Lydia did find a scroll of magic user spells underneath the body…which reinforces the idea that she wasn’t killed for her stuff.

It gets me thinking, though. Just like those mummified parts in glass cases…the jackal-weres with their rock and their fake sunlight…the badger-stags with their magical breeze and their rocky, cave-y habitat. And now, a posh elvish lady, secure in her Evil ways and fond of her indulgent lifestyle – betrayed and literally stabbed in the back…only for her spirit to cling bitterly on and attack anyone who dares invade her chamber.

Ezekiel calls the thing he defeated a “banshee”…and if I’m remembering my spooky camp stories right, this room is like a textbook environment for a banshee. Almost like…a banshee in a glass case.

The half-orc assassin called the purple room of statues a “trophy room.” What about these other places? Is this the Evil Queen’s idea of a hobby?

(Speaking of the assassin…it’s plain there were some areas on this level that “slipped her mind” or something.)

Heiron secured Wonillon’s body onto Sgt. Bearington, and we prepared to return – only to have etin number two confront us in the hallway.

I was still holding Tressarian, so it took longer to kill it (I’m not as fast with a sword), but Lydia kept it pinned down with a stinking cloud, and Heiron helped with arrows.

But it felt very good to cut something solid…something I understood…and to feel like I could contribute usefully.

After that, it was smooth sailing – no slimy color monsters this time! – and we should reach Homlette by tomorrow. If we’re quick enough, hopefully Cleric What’s-His-Name of Rau, who’s staying at the tower, can help Wonillon.

It’s that, or try to find his next-of-kin to send his body and stuff to. It could be a pretty bulky parcel…

****

Wonillon feeling fit as a fiddle again (except that he’s been hungry all day). He admitted to me that he’s had some nightmares about that pale glowing spirit of the vengeful elf – but insists it’ll take more than that to keep a gnome down.

(He also said he didn’t blame me for running away screaming like a little girl…gotta find out who’s been talking…)

……

[written in Lawful Good]

The council asked us to join them at the for a meeting. They’ve been studying the box that Tressarian identified as Evil, and wanted to show us the latest development.

They had it in th on holy ground, protected. Heiron volunteered to open it, though it clearly made him nervous, and inside…

A human skull, with no lower jar – all solid gold. Four empty sockets in it.

Made my skin go all over goosebumps just looking at it – and from their faces, I think Mikael, Ezekiel, and Raven felt the same.

Then suddenly Ez started dancing up and down — he says it’s the gold key, and now we just need the four boxes. (I didn’t know what he was talking about until I dug through my old notes at the bottom of my pack.)

Cleric Elyan thought if someone held it, they might get power…so Ez made Lydia go investigate.

She says the thing let her detect lies (although it got a bit confused over “Ezekiel has a girlfriend”), know people’s alignment, or cause poison…and also (not sure how she knew this, but we trust her word) it makes the Great Throne “go down.”

So that’s our key to the next level, after we’ve finished with all the stairs…and I’m beginning to have an idea where the boxes of the four compass-points might tie in…but we have a lot to do before we get there.

And I’m much more confused by these questions:

Why did the Wizard Falrinth leave this box behind? If it really is so crucial to them, why abandon it?

Maybe he didn’t know what it was? Maybe he didn’t have time, while he was fleeing us (though it seems like we gave him plenty of time)?

Perhaps he knew what it was, but hadn’t told his superiors, because he wanted all the credit for putting it together? If that’s the case, he must be kicking himself pretty hard right now. (And if his superiors tasked him with taking care of it…boy, they’re going to be super mad at him right now. Under this circumstance, he might have just headed for the hills, and isn’t even in the Temple anymore.)

Maybe – he assumed none of us could carry it out?!

After all, only Heiron and Lydia could even force themselves to touch it.

I don’t like this possibility, because it means the wizard might actually know what this ugly paperweight is…which means their team now knows that we have it.

And they likely have a good idea where we’re hiding it.

Well, we just have to trust our allies to watch their own backs, while we keep needling away at the enemies’ stronghold, and trying to keep their attention.

[written in Common]

Maybe suggest to Father Elyan that he keep Raise Dead handy…? At least for the next few weeks?

Maybe we should set up a tab – for Ezekiel? (Of course for Ezekiel! Not like the rest of us ever die…)


Find the previous entry here.

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