Dear Diary….Ezekiel gets better at bashing faces

With planting over, Raven is free to join us again. He says he’s done a lot of thinking about monk stuff while in the fields.

We head back first thing in the morning.

****

On our return, we double-checked the banshee’s room, to make sure we didn’t miss anything (since we were a little preoccupied last time). Tressarian and Wonillon didn’t detect any shifting stones or hidden compartments — so our last move was to have Heiron burn the elf’s body. Maybe she couldn’t try anything anyway, but this way it won’t get eaten or disturbed by something else.

Some trolls tried to sneak up on us from behind, but I nailed one with my first shot. They clawed Raven and Cuddles, but Sgt. Bearington and Heiron tore into them, and Ezekiel is coming in really handy lately (now that he can actually heal people. He gets so excited!).

Lydia suggested that the first etin we killed was afraid of the trolls, so prepared fire since it’s one thing that can keep them down. (Heiron burned out their brains with his flame-sword – but we don’t talk about it in front of Tres.)

The room at the end of that corridor seemed to be a disused dining room (makes sense, with a kitchen at the other end of the hall) – but nothing in it looked interesting. Guess someone else picked it clean before we got there.

From the etin’s home base, the corridor that heads west goes up some stairs (like all the others) and through a door into a room I can only chalk up to Chaotic nonsense.

It’s huge and echoy – the stones are absolutely smooth – with four side-chambers where trolls have been bunking. It sticks in your memory (unlike, say, the totally normal dining room) but I’m not clear what the point of it is.

Fighting the trolls there got our blood pumping, though. Lydia fire-balled them, and while the rest of us were picking them off, Raven ran across the wall and snagged one with his magic rope. He got knocked out for his trouble, but hey, Ezekiel can heal people now! (He also bashed a troll’s head in with his mace, which he was very excited about.)

The side-rooms were kind of confusing. Each one had a key hanging on an iron hook opposite the door, and a five-foot chain hanging from the wall – with one end broken. It didn’t seem that the trolls were chained up, since they weren’t wearing any matching shackles. Maybe they killed whatever was chained up and took the rooms to squat in?

Raven collected all the keys, just in case we find what they unlock.

The last thing in the Echo Chamber is a door to a staircase – which we assume goes all the way to the level above, though we don’t know where it comes out. Maybe we could figure it out by laying the maps on each other, but it would probably be faster and simpler to walk up the stairs.

The north-west corridor from the etin’s room leads to a long corridor with a couple branches – and a door.

When Ez stepped through the door, all we saw was a glimpse of desks – and then Ezekiel yelped as a…”rope” whacked his ankle. While he splashed holy water on his face, Mikael cast faery fire – and we saw a writhing, hideous mass of “twisted ropes” hiding under the desk. I think it’s uglier than the squiddy thing that lived in the latrine!

While Heiron and I shot at it (considering the angle, we did pretty well) the thing grabbed Wonillon with one of its skin-crawling tentacles. He ripped it off his leg, but had to sit down while the rest of us finished it off.

Ezekiel cured Wonillon’s scratches (he’s really grooving on this) – but Wonillon said he mostly felt weak and wobbly. After a little rest, he joined Ezekiel and Lydia, who have gone to search the room.

I’m nervous that we didn’t clear the branching corridors yet, so I’m helping the animals guard the hall…

**

It’s hard to remember the golem study – it all seems kinda inconsequential right now – but I suppose it should be mentioned.

Ez had me bring Tressarian around to check for magical things, but all we found was an ink pot and three scrolls.

Ez and Lydia had found a table inside a magic circle – with something covered in linen. Underneath is what she called a “flesh golem” – but I call it the second ugliest thing I’d seen today.

It had an ogre head and torso, two gargoyle arms, two bear arms, and the legs of a bugbear. I’m starting to understand all the jars around the room – with various body parts and monster organs inside – but it doesn’t make me like them better.

Wonillon found a whole pile of gems inside the “Roper” – so the last thing to do was destroy the golem. Ez bashed its head in…and it shattered bizarrely. Inside was the squishy remains of what I’m sure was a chipmunk brain. Some poor chipmunk gave its life for this abomination!

Evil magicians are so weird.

Lydia packed up any spell components that might be valuable or hard to get, and we headed back to clear the branching corridors.

The second room we came to (first one had nothing but old crates) seemed to be an exhibit room…

It had five crowns like the ones people wear over helms…and cases of heads and skulls and withered hands and even skins…and tattered banners on the walls, and holy symbols for Good deities, and a couple ceremonial maces (including a silver one covered with gems).

Ezekiel stopped in the doorway and kinda waved his holy sheep around, and said “something” was “off” about the room.

We figured he didn’t mean the depressing nature of the room, so we stepped forward cautiously…Wonillon feeling the floor to see if any of it felt strange to him.

Ezekiel stopped before we got too far in, and told me to shoot at a specific part of the ceiling.

I couldn’t see anything except stone ceiling…but shooting blank spots is just like target practice. My arrow lodged – in a way it doesn’t in stone! – something huge, stone-colored, and flat peeled off the ceiling and started flapping toward us.

It made a half-hearted attempt to slap Ezekiel – and then Heiron and I put more arrows into it…Heiron hit it so hard that it staggered backward through the air. (I made the mistake of asking Lydia how they flew. My head still hurts.)

Once it was dead, Wonillon said he’d heard of these things – Lurkers. He says they wrap around you so you can’t use long weapons.

Tres and I checked the room…but there was nothing magical around. Just items of emotional and spiritual significance.

While I was skinning the Lurker, Ezekiel had us shove all the banners, rings, symbols, and everything into the bag of holding…Even if they’re not worth anything, we can turn them over to their orders for decent rest. As for the body parts, the best rest we could give them was to burn them. At least now they won’t end up part of a flesh golem or something.

On our way back down the hall, Ezekiel and Tressarian spotted a secret door in the wall. (I don’t know if my words can do this justice, but I’ll try.)

[written in Lawful Good]

Behind the secret door is a shrine. The walls are draped with white hangings, and there’s a wooden altar, painted white, with an altar cloth with red lettering: “Venerate this Shrine of Good” then run away, because this place is evil.

That immediately got my suspicions up, so we took a closer look around. A silver cross hung on one wall, with a silver statue of Fultus on one side. A shrine of Good inside a Temple of EVIL? Yeah, right.

Tressarian and I had a look around, and he noticed something Evil behind the back wall. Once we knew it was there, it was straight-forward to find the second secret door. Lydia cast Protection from Evil on Ezekiel, and he opened the door.

The room was coated in dust…so no one had been walking there for quite a long time. A skeleton in rags lay by the door…almost as though he had been trying to escape? The whole room just radiated Evil.

While Raven and I held the door (hoping to keep it from closing and trapping us) Ezekiel circled the room (since he was protected for the moment).

Halfway around, he banged his shins on something…it didn’t seem to react to him (so wasn’t alive) but we couldn’t see it at all.

So Mikael came up, and when we got out of the way, cast Dispel Magic.

I wish I could capture the looks on our faces the next few minutes.

The first thing we saw was an iron coffin, with its lid on the floor beside it. The lid of the coffin held a silver cross, and the coffin held…what looked like a full-grown man – with a stake through his chest. When we got closer, we could see the fangs.

Ez found a scroll with a note: “Good people! Use your new strength to seal in the horror of darkness — we who wrote this lacked the power.” The scroll was for strength spells.

Well, that was suspicious, but we know what to do in these situations! Ezekiel went right over, raised his mace, and brought it down with a muffled whack.

There’s usually purple lightening and stuff when Ez deals with undead…but there wasn’t. So he poked the creature – just prodding – and nothing seemed to happen again.

By now we were all on pins and needles. We’ve been lied to before…we’ve run into monsters “under glass” before…but this felt different.

We had Ezekiel poke the skeleton – in case there was some misdirection going on there – but it just crumpled dustily at the touch.

So Ezekiel cleared his throat, pulled out a scroll, and cast something.

When he looked in the coffin, his face turned very red, and he muttered that healing cantrip he’s been using all day, waving his hand over the creature’s face.

Lydia was asking, “What do you see? What do you see?”

Ez found his voice at last and said, “It’s him!” like that would explain.

I thought he meant that guy who starts with “E” that I can never remember, but fortunately Ezekiel clarified that it’s the guy who sounds like “Dremel.”

He talked closely with Lydia for a minute – they figured the figure (who still looked pretty vampire to the rest of us) was under some kind of Stasis spell…and one so strong that Mikael’s Dispel Magic didn’t touch it, or the illusion.

Lydia suggests that the subject wouldn’t be hurt if we moved him from the room, so we called in Heiron to carry him. We also figured we didn’t want anyone seeing us carry him out, so we borrowed one of the drapes from the shrine and wrapped him up.

Ez took the cross and handed it to Lydia – by the time it reached her, it was a royal-looking sword!

Heiron (looking a little nervous about the vampire teeth) carried the subject out the door (Ezekiel coming last to make sure we all made it out).

As soon as we were over the threshold, the subject (I’m sure he’d be mad if he knew he was called that) started shifting and struggling.

I think every one of us jumped – and then we recovered and helped unwrap him and set him on his feet.

He seemed understandably confused (and kinda miffed at being wrapped up), but when Lydia knelt and handed him his sword, something seemed to click in his brain, and he started demanding who we were.

(He didn’t look like a vampire anymore, either. His hair and face were all shades of gold, and his armor and clothes were the colors of Veluna – and Furiundy – and he had the insignia of a Knight of the Hart, too.)

Ezekiel gave him the short version, and Raven suggested in Lawful Good that we should really get out of there (since we might well have triggered a magic alarm by bringing him out).

We finally convinced him to come with us, and Raven tried to make the shrine and secret door look as undisturbed as possible.

We took him up the new stairs – through the Echo Chamber – rather than through the Evil purple room. It brought us out in one of the secret rooms if the Air Sanctuary…so Raven warned him not to spend ten minutes in the pit.

The only thing we spent time doing was hurrying back to the horses. The subject seems nice enough, but you can tell he’s used to just doing things and not asking for advice. We only had him walk in the middle of the group for his protection, but he still looked a little irritated (even though we said “pretty please”).

When we reached the horses, Lydia let him ride her horse, but we still didn’t reach the campsite until well after dark. He was all for moving on, but we politely reminded him that not all of us had just woken up recently, and anyway it would be safer to travel in the day.

Already half-way through the second watch. I’m glad Heiron is on with me, though none of the three of us are much for conversation right now.

I suppose the subject has an idea that there’s somewhere very important he ought to be, and he’s right of course, but even he can’t teleport.

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