Dear Diary….GIANT slug-fest

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

Mikael pointed out that he can ask for Heat Metal – which would really make the Black-Armored Cleric uncomfortable! With that, and his new magic stone of earth-elemental-summoning, we made a new strategy for going back into the Temple.

It’s been almost a week, so the enemy has had plenty of time to redo their strategy, too. But Ezekiel assures us that with Lydia’s new “globe of invulnerability” spell, lightning bolts won’t be such an issue. And she’s been casting spells into the ring of storage, so that Ezekiel can act like a magic user from the front lines.

Here’s to hoping it goes better this time.

****

Most things are bittersweet. We have won – but at a cost.

I think this is the closest I’ve ever come to being in a battle. There was that one fight with the gnolls that went long, but I got knocked unconscious that time.

Where to start? We descended all the flights of stairs to the Temple’s fourth basement, and like last time we made a quick sweep of the barracks to see if anyone was sleeping late. I hardly think they would make that mistake – and as it turns out, we didn’t find anyone there.

Which meant it was time to head down the stairs…to the huge, scary room at the very bottom of the Temple.

Lydia stayed at the top of the stairs, so that she wouldn’t be silenced if they got the jump on us – and so she didn’t waste her buff spells in case they hit us with another wall of force.

Ezekiel detected more glyphs at the bottom of the stairs – like last time – and also like last time, Mikael dispelled them. Then, with our Protections from Evil and Protections from Fire on, Ezekiel headed down.

I went with him — I was the tester for walls of force. I sent an arrow through the doorway – and when it seemed to fly freely, Ezekiel cast a protection Globe from the ring on himself – and charged.

We were concerned that we couldn’t see anything…My second arrow seemed to stick in air, and I called to Lydia to wait (thinking they had blocked us with a wall again).

Then an ogre materialized out of nowhere, and bashed Ezekiel. When I killed him (the ogre, not Ezekiel) the body dropped like it ought to, and lay there like a proper body…which made me feel much better. I don’t hold with these magic-people popping ogres out of the air at you and such.

Mikael had used his magic stone in the mushroom garden above (where there was actual dirt and such), so he ordered his earth elemental forward (we named it “Rocky”).

Next thing we knew, a lightning bolt shot in front of us across the room. For an instant, we could more easily see the polished onyx floor, the five-foot dais across the room, and the ceiling-to-floor purple curtain that hung behind the altar. The bolt tore across the room, through the curtain, and vanished.

As our back-row fighters moved up, more ogres appeared out of the air to attack us. Mikael cast Faery Fire – and I saw shapes glowing in the darkness beyond – like invisible creatures waiting for their turns to strike us.

Boulders flew across the room, mostly banging into the walls at the entrance of the room. Lydia threw up a wall of fire down the center of the room to control the angle of attack – and then the enemy returned fire with a lightning bolt of their own. It flashed past me with a crack, and when I stole a glance at our team, Heiron looked pretty badly burned.

By this time, trolls were swarming our front lines – even charging through the fire to get at us. Someone behind the purple curtain shot out an amber ray or something – but I don’t think it did anything.

While dropping trolls and ogres, I saw Rocky bash a troll into the floor, and stomp around the corner into the room. A second lightening bolt flashed down the corridor – and this time it ripped through me, too. I think the others were close enough to Ezekiel and Lydia that the protection Globes helped them.

Ezekiel read something from a scroll, and fire flashed briefly from behind the curtain. Heiron and I made music on our bows, and Mikael had to cast a new faery fire because all the old enemies were dead.

Then Raven made his move and wrapped the enemies in front of us in his magic rope. Leaving them for the melee fighters, I peered into the darkness of the room beyond and landed a shot in an etin.

Lydia shot a fireball at the curtain…strangely enough, it didn’t seem singed by it! – but from the howls of dismay we heard, I think it did more damage to the people behind.

Mikael and Ezekiel passed out healing before our wall of fire disappeared – though Mikael also got a hit in that broke an etin’s head.

Lydia seemed to be concentrating on the curtain (and the spell-casters beyond it) so I concentrated on hurting ogres and etins and trolls. A couple gargoyles swooped down at us – but Raven was too quick on the draw and snared them in his rope, making them crash into the floor. I left them to those with magic weapons (since I’ve learned a thing or two by now).

By now, Lydia (with Heiron keeping tight to her side) had joined us (just like I was keeping close to Ezekiel and his protective Globe). While Mikael and Raven stabbed and bashed at a captive gargoyle, she pulled out a scroll.

Ezekiel told Heiron to burn the trolls’ brains with his flame-sword (the last thing we needed was them healing themselves!).

Speaking of trolls, that’s about the time a troll charged me and knocked my bow out of my hands. A boulder crashed over my head as I was picking it up – and then before I could prepare a shot, another boulder caught me in the shoulder (Ezekiel says I’m just lucky it didn’t take off my head. I took a minute to blink the dust out of my eyes and shake my head…and when I looked up, a lightning bolt cut across the room, through our enemies. It must have been the flash – I fired an arrow at the troll making a pest of himself in my face, but it missed his ear by a mile.

He clacked his fangs at me and bit me. I’m not one to whinge, but the pain frankly took my breath away, and I staggered back against Mikael and Ezekiel. They shoved my back upright – with healing magic – and my arms steadied enough that my next shot took out that ugly troll’s throat.

As I stepped forward into the room far enough to get some targets, Simba charged past me into the darkness in the corner of the room. Raven had snared some more victims with his crazy special rope, and Wonillon was killing them.

Lydia fired sparking missiles from her fingers at the gargoyles (it was mostly them and a couple giants left alive…Heiron had rendered most of the fallen trolls to ash by now).

Ezekiel lit up the corner for me so I’d have an easier time landing shots, and I focused on taking down the giant class. Ezekiel moved us up one side of the room, while Lydia laid down another wall of fire to help control the room.

Her fire reached far enough to touch the curtain…and while it didn’t go up in flames like you’d expect, it did finally collapse — and then we saw why the leaders hadn’t done anything for a while. They were dead.

Raven went along roping gargoyles, and Lydia and Wonillon stabbed two of them to death. A giant knocked the breath out of me with a boulder – but that didn’t stop me from killing the etin on the other side of the wall of fire. Then Mikael ordered his insects to attack the giant…and we had no more trouble from him.

After that, it was basically in the bag…all we had to do was mop-up. We readied ourselves at the edge of the wall of fire – and when Lydia dismissed it, we charged the last remaining giant. A few gargoyles waited on pillars near the ceiling, looking for opportunities to swoop down on us – so I took out my magic arrows and plinked a couple of them to make them come play.

Mikael smashed one into pieces – and Raven roped one or two, even though they clawed his face and got blood in his eyes. While the others cleaned up the last of the enemies, I drew Tressarian – both because he’s magical, and so he could help me find my magic arrows (they don’t grow on trees, after all; pity I broke one, but that’s what you get shooting at a living statue).

As soon as the only moving things were us, I asked Tres if anything around was noticeably evil. He thought the altar (with red silk altar cloth and star-symbol) looked kinda evil, but nothing strongly radiated evil.

Lydia had gone through the leaders’ pockets while the rest of us were bashing gargoyles, and we helped her strip them down. Bunch of magic armor, a few magic rings (something about ice, something about fire, and something Ezekiel didn’t know about), a couple wands, some potions, and a scroll for Lydia. There was also a hideous little horned creature that Ez and Lydia called a “quasit” – apparently it’s a demon thing, and sometimes magic users summon them as familiars. Lydia shuddered, and Ezekiel bashed it with his mace just to make sure it was departed.

As for the purple curtain – Mikael told us it was a “Violet Fungus,” and would have rotted our limbs if we tried to push through it. I wonder if he could have talked to it with Plant Control…but just as well this way!

Someone (probably Lydia) pointed out that there were lots of bugbear beds in the barracks…but we hadn’t fought any here. She also mentioned that she was out of spells.

I would have liked to peek down the six corridors – just to see if anything had ignored the sounds of pitched battle and was waiting for us – but Ezekiel seemed anxious to get away from there. We did stop long enough to strip the leaders and burn their bodies…nothing personal, but we don’t want to have to do this again.

(We also found three black scarabs like the double-agent-merchants had…wonder what that’s all about? Is it something to do with the elemental nodes? Ez says that’s probably where we have to go next, but his MO tends to be “charge in and hope it all works out,” which I am not completely comfortable with, especially when we don’t know how to get back again.)

As we headed to Bel-Sornig’s room to recover, we found the saddest news of the day. When Mikael called his animals after the battle, Cuddles came down, but he seemed upset and confused. When we reached the top of the stairs, we knew why — Corby and Sgt. Bearington were both dead, their bodies scorched by lightning. Even that far back from the battle lines, they just didn’t stand a chance.

Mikael carried Corby up with us, while Heiron helped Cuddles drag Sgt. Bearington. He wants to bury them near where Nori fell (though it looks like Cuddles was nibbling on Bearington). It might be just as well, if we’re heading into the elemental nodes in the near future. There are animals that might be tougher, of course, but it’s a matter of taking the time to find and befriend them.

We’ve been blessed that none of the humans (or gnome) have died for long…and we can’t expect to destroy a horrible institution like the Temple of Elemental Evil without sacrifice.

Rest in peace, Corby and Sgt. Bearington, noble beasts.


Find the previous entry here.

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