Dear Diary….a pitched battle (if “battle” means “running away”)

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t call trading Raven for a magic box fair…but it’s better than a total scratch.

Besides, High Priest Yra can probably raise Raven tomorrow…and we learned lots of important lessons, like the meaning of pure terror.

It started last night with Lydia making Wonillon invisible. She told him that if he tried any monkey business she didn’t like, she would make him intensely regret it for the rest of his short life (which I guess shows she was on edge even then).

In the morning, the “cleric types” had decided what they would cast on everyone as “buffs,” and we passed out the jars of Keoghtim’s ointment so more people could act as “healers” in a pinch. I tucked one at my belt, and turns out that was one of the best things we did.

Ezekiel started us with exploring the giants’ rooms…he said he hoped we might catch someone sleeping late, and dispatch it while it was isolated from the others, but I think the head cleric was too clever for that. Much too clever.

The first room had four beds and four chests – with a pretty good haul of gems. We couldn’t even carry the amount of coinage, and decided to come back for it…we’ll see how that works out in the long run.

I was disturbed to see the walls all gouged with holes…like someone’s been collecting boulders. As things turned out, it was the least of our problems, but we can’t afford to forget about them for next time.

The second room we explored had three beds, and three chests. Wonillon and Raven checked the first chest, but obviously they missed something, because when Lydia went to open it with her cantrip or whatever she calls it, thick, biting smoke rolled out of it. It was only unpleasant, but I decided to help Heiron guard the corridor while the rest of them dealt with the other chests.

That chest was empty, so Raven went to open a second one (I guess Lydia had had enough of his “practical jokes”). I heard Wonillon to be careful about something – and the next thing we knew, Raven keeled over with a needle in his finger! Wonillon got Koeghtim’s ointment on it – so he didn’t die die – yet.

Someone said, “What a bad tone-setter,” but Mikael said it was only a tone-setter if we let it be. Ezekiel said maybe we were getting all our bad luck out of the way – but we still decided to leave the third chest alone. The second chest was packed – two magic stones, and a pile of gems and jewelry. Considering the first one was completely empty, Wonillon suggested the last one might be a decoy, too.

Raven offered to use his magic X-ray ring – which we all call his ring of cheese-finding now – but we got him to move on. (That’s one good thing…Ezekiel has gotten it away from him now.)

After that, there was no point delaying the inevitable. We formed up in the battle lines Ezekiel had mapped out, and went to the top of the stairs to wait while Wonillon scouted.

Ezekiel cast his Detect Traps thing – and hissed for Wonillon to stop (we couldn’t see him, after all) because there were glyphs of warding at the foot of the stairs. Sounds like we stopped him just in time, and Mikael came forward to dispel them.

After that, Wonillon went down the stairs again – according to the map, we knew they were the last stairs before the big “sanctuary” area or whatever it is. The hallway continues probably thirty feet at the bottom, before opening up into the big room. Not that we ever saw that, of course. Not this time.

It wasn’t long before Wonillon came back. He said he saw a big man in black platemail, with a mage standing a little ways behind him…and crowds and crowds of ogres, giants, and trolls. He also spotted gargoyles sitting up high – but that’s all he had time for because they detected him (he doesn’t know how – he was invisible, wearing boots of elven-kind, and it was pitch-dark in there) but he ran out of there just in time.

Ezekiel cast fire resistance on those of us who needed it (Mikael had a spell for himself), and Lydia cast auras of protection from Evil on herself and Ezekiel (not sure it did much this time, but better than not having it. We don’t know where all the secret passages are, and having someone sneak up behind us isn’t a happy thought).

Ezekiel gave the sign to charge, and clattered down the stairs. As soon as he saw the cleric in black armor, he flung something at him…it seemed to make the cleric back up, closer to his mage.

I was hanging back, closer to Lydia, holding my bow – while Mikael was near the front with Ezekiel, ready to do what he could. He said the words for faery fire, but nothing seemed to happen, so I fired an arrow at them. It stopped at the threshold of the corridor, and dropped, as though bouncing off an invisible wall.

I very much dislike things I don’t understand, so I backed up a little to be closer to Lydia’s protection. Ezekiel also halted his advance about half-way down the corridor…which might just be the best thing he did all day.

The Black Cleric gave some pompous speech (proving Ezekiel’s silence spell hadn’t bothered him) about “Welcome to the Temple of Elemental Evil” (he’s several staircases too late) and “this is where you die” (if he could just see the counters going).

The mage behind him did something – then the Cleric threw something.

Ezekiel yelled, “Silence!” – and then the whole corridor in front of him was filled with a smooth metal wall. Ez and Lydia tell me it was adamantine.

Since we were cut off from our enemies, Lydia took the time to explain to us that it was a magic item (“Someone-someone’s Magic Fortress Something”) which means the Cleric could grow and shrink it at will (it also apparently is really flattening if it lands on you).

The Cleric had to say the command word to shrink it – and then pick it up before throwing it at us again…which meant we had to wait until Ezekiel’s second silence spell wore off on him, and then we had – had – had to grab the cube thing, or he’d try this trick on us all over again.

The barkskin Mikael cast on Raven wore off, but most of our other buffs were still glowing when the wall before us suddenly disappeared.

I was still trying to find a target when a lightning bolt ripped down the corridor past us. Our clothes had barely even started smoking when a second one flashed past, and I saw Raven drop to the ground, convulsing.

Ezekiel shouted, and an explosion of fire slapped the Black Cleric – right before insects started swarming him (Mikael is invaluable).

By that time, though a couple boulders had bounced around the corner of the hallway – one of them catching Heiron a nasty gash on the arm. We still had to grab the cube if we didn’t want to repeat this scenario beat-for-beat…and then it disappeared.

Ezekiel yelled, “Wonillon, my best boy!” so I decided it was in good hands, and told Heiron to fall back (but not before he sent an arrow straight into the Black Cleric’s face…only to have it deflect off his armor!).

As I ran back toward where Raven lay, I saw Lydia also crumpled on the ground, smoking gently. She’s lighter than Raven is, and Heiron is – more broad-shouldered than I am, so I told him to carry Raven.

When I picked Lydia up, I saw she was just barely drawing ragged breathes – so I grabbed that jar of ointment I had handy, and smeared it on her burns as best I could. Wonillon helped, too (I assume, since ointment appeared out of the air).

Next thing we knew, Ezekiel charged past us, shouting, “Magic missile, magic missile!” or something. Turns out he was not trying to cast one — he’d just been killed by one, and Mikael was right on his heels after bringing him back on his feet yet again (telling the pets to retreat as he ran).

If Ez meant it as a warning, I don’t know what good it did. A stream of sparks hit Heiron, and seconds later, a second missile knocked Lydia off her feet.

Mikael applied Keoghtim’s ointment to the obvious wounds, and she jumped up again – shoving him aside and throwing her hands forward. A lightening bolt appeared a few feet from us and tore into the main room – but I didn’t wait to see what damage it did. Ezekiel was already half-way up the stairs, and Heiron was following, with Raven’s body on his back.

I grabbed Lydia and ran – but not before she ordered her magic lion to “Go get ’em, boy!”

Part way up the stairs, she kicked me until I put her down, and she waved her hands again – making a wall of fire spring up behind us.

By the time we got out the doors of the Temple into the fresh air, we were all winded…Lydia partly because she breathed curses the whole way.

Ezekiel seems pretty up-beat all things considered, but there’s no question they have us out-numbered. Pity we let their wizard Falrinth escape on the third floor down.

Mikael and Ezekiel patched us all up – except for Raven, of course. He’s the only one of us who’s died two days in a row – though of course Ezekiel has him beat in terms of time (although he insists the exploding map doesn’t count).

Lydia should fume…I got off exactly one arrow, and it didn’t hit anything but air. I also carried her, for which I got kicked.

Ezekiel assures us that we’re going back in…because of course…and next time they can’t try to squish us under the magic metal fortress. I’m still not too confident about it, but we’ll see…


Father Yra says he “cured” Raven’s curse before raising him…which I guess means that Raven believes Ezekiel that the ring-of-cheese-finding is no good, and we won’t be using it any more.

It’s good to have him back.

While at the tower, we got some advice about some of the other stuff we found – and the magic velvet cloak we took from the medusa statue is apparently deadly. The wizard here seems to think it will poison anyone who puts it on. I voted we burn it.

The two plain-looking stones from the giants’ stash, however, turned out well worth the trouble. One of them is just a magic sling stone, but the other can be used to “control earth elementals.” Apparently it lets you summon an earth elemental to serve you for a certain amount of time. We let Mikael have it, because …yeah. Druid stuff.

Lydia also read the invisible runes on the magic box (from the dragon statue). Apparently you can command it to shrink, grow, and hide or something. (She tried to explain it to me.)

She and Ezekiel have been in the corner for some time, working out our strategy for “next time.” But first, Ezekiel says we’re going to throw the biggest dinner party the Welcome Wench has ever seen, because we survived both the “pitched battle” and Mr. Eewy! (That story took quite some time to tell at the tower. Raven and Lydia and Heiron kept interrupting each other. It was worth it all to see Sir Rufus’ face. Funny enough, Father Turjon seemed to know a lot about it before we even got back.)

Tressarian says he understands Lydia’s disappointment, and that if we see any Evil fire things, I had better let him handle them for sure.

I’m just glad we’re still alive so far.

Find the previous entry here.

2 thoughts on “Dear Diary….a pitched battle (if “battle” means “running away”)

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  2. Pingback: Dear Diary….we were not alone - Kimia Wood

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