Nice party last night. Raven made the most extraordinary cookies. (He made up a box to leave with Lydia, I guess to keep her company while we’re busy.)
Wonillon found a caravan traveling in his direction, so he’s joining up with them this afternoon. (He did let me buy the necklace of adaptation.)
We’re going over to Lydia’s at the tower so he can say good-bye (and so we can do some planning…meaning Ezekiel and Lydia do planning, and the rest of us look pretty).
Lydia has adjusted her face! She looks more-or-less the same, just without the burn scars. I thought it was funny that she had her veil loose in the tavern last night, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it didn’t bother anybody (especially her). I guess she’s forgiven us and consented to wear the hat.
Elmo came to the door while Ezekiel was laying out our next order of attack, and said it was “really boring” around here lately, and could he come with us for “even shares.” Wonillon talked him into buying his ring of fire-protection (guess he figures he won’t need it in the Chron Hills), even though Elmo says that’s “a lot of drinks'” worth of money.
After Wonillon left, Elmo started using his real voice – which kind of confused Heiron, but we reassured him about it (“basically Master’s master”). (Kinda sweet that Master Elmo is treating Heiron like an “inner circle” person.)
Apparently Lord Otis tipped him off that we’ve been exploring the nodes of Air and Water, so Ezekiel gave him the run-down on the key-gems (at least what we know so far).
We’re heading back to clear out the nest of water-hobs, if possible, and from there, Ez wants to Hunt Demon-rays.
[the following contains many water-marks and smeared sections]
(Guess we were so excited we left half-cocked. We realized we have several potions of polymorph, and a couple of water-breathing, so we passed those around to whoever needed one – just in case the Airy Water gets dispelled while we’re underwater. I meant to leave myself a note, but obviously I forgot – because we also didn’t bring the Cloak of the Manta-Ray (is it in the chest, or was it hanging in Lydia’s room?), so Elmo wrote her a note to please send it through when she gets the chance.)
We inspected the underwater cave with Airy Water – it’s basically a passage that slopes up to a cave with an air-bubble, and then slopes down to the “sea” on the other side. We killed another of the marine gargoyles there, but I’m not sure it lives there exactly. (It rammed its horn into the rock wall, making it easy pickings.)
Climbing up the beach into the cave, we found something more interesting: a big triangle rune on the floor…glowing ever so slightly. According to the notes, this should transport us to the Node of Earth…when we’re ready to go there, of course.
Ezekiel wanted to continue on the sea floor for a bit, so we tied the raft to my depth-buoy and kept following the wall of the node.
There’s no seaweed, no algae, nothing that looks alive down here. You could tell it irritated Mikael.
When the spell was about to give out, we climbed the rope to the raft – then pulled Ezekiel up when he signaled (if the raft got into the spell-radius, it would sink).
Time to paddle for a while…we’ve heard some splashing, but haven’t seen anything yet…
Well, we found something, all right. And we learned some lessons, too.
Following the sound of something large splashing and bellowing, we paddled around a promontory and spotted a cave-mouth, about ten feet above the water (nothing in the water, though).
Ezekiel decided he would go first, since he had the best armor and such, so he slung out a rope of climbing and started up. No sooner had he reached the top than a boulder bounced off his shield and sailed over our heads.
He yelled, “Giants,” so there wouldn’t be any ambiguity – and I arced an arrow up and past him while Elmo leapt up the rope with his battleaxe.
Raven sprang up the rocks like a spider, and once the rope was free I started to follow the others. Mikael rushed past me in a flurry of wings, and landed above as himself.
By the time I reached the top, it looked pretty ugly. The cave was spacious, but giants still packed the space…and a suspiciously dragon-ish white lizard stood on one side, breathing frost in our faces.
My arrows did absolutely nothing…and while Raven was dodging boulders with a monkish little dance or something, a giant caved Ezekiel’s head in with a club – and another one bowled Mikael right off the edge of the cliff.
I did see one thing – Ezekiel dropped a little black cube as he fell. I knew it must be the fortress…and if I could get it, I could enact his plan and block or squish the enemy (it would at least cover our retreat, though that’s a word I’m not fond of).
Raven grabbed Ezekiel and jumped off the cliff — I heard them splash in the water.
Heiron had joined us by now, and put a couple arrows into a blue and white lizard snarling in the corner – then called to Elmo that we were safe to retreat.
Elmo chopped a giant in half and dove out of the cave. A boulder caught me in the shoulder, but I was all ready to grab the fortress and practice Discretion.
Then a raven buzzed through the cave and flew off with the fortress in his claws.
I admit, I got frustrated at having to change plans…but I wasted no time. The giants had pummeled Heiron to his knees. By the time I staggered across to him, grabbed his elbow, and jumped off the cliff, he was barely conscious. (Raven says the impact of hitting the water is what pushed him over the edge, but I’m just glad we got out of there.)
Raven and Elmo helped Heiron onto the raft. Ezekiel(‘s body) was lying on top of a chalk circle…but it’s not like we had time to wait for Lydia (she can hate me if she wants). Nothing would stop the giants from reaching the edge of the cliff, and the dragon/lizard things had wings.
A dolphin was tugging a rope to drag the raft away, but I didn’t wait for that.
I popped one of my magic rings into my pocket, pried the ring of spell storage from Ezekiel’s finger…and remembered I don’t know how to cast spells. But I guess just wanting to cast Airy Water was good enough – because the next thing we knew, the raft was fluttering to the sea floor (jerking Mikael on the rope a little, but I think he forgives me).
We panted for a moment – processing. Faint bellowing came from above our heads, but we had lost our enemies.
Elmo had time to tell me “good job” (I made a note of that!) and then Lydia appeared – pretty mad. She ordered us through the portal, and after everybody else made it (either supporting someone, or flopping, for the most part) I followed.
Turns out, Lydia was most angry because she couldn’t do anything. Good thing she was watching us, though…even if it irritated her to watch a fight she couldn’t participate in.
I rubbed Keoghtim’s Ointment on the worst of Heiron’s injuries, and then Father Yra showed up – summoned by a man-at-arms – to take care of Ezekiel.
It’s still quite impressive to watch someone start breathing again. Father Yra told us not to worry about the fee, since we’re kinda sorta working for the tower anyway…he should know by now we’re a party who needs our raises.
The cleric types passed around healing…and under normal circumstances, that’d be enough excitement for one day.
But Lydia was not done by any means.
She snatched the ring of spell-storage, tossed some sulphur around, and handed to Ezekiel. She told him to drink a potion of invisibility, and go through the mirror and throw two fireballs at the giants.
Raven gave him a potion, and we heard the *clank-clank-clank* of him walking through the portal. Moments later, he reappeared – but Lydia did not look well pleased.
She said something that sounded like “pathetic,” and in the end we all got a swig of the potion. Lydia would drop most of us in the back of the cave – invisible, and with Ezekiel’s silence on us – and then move the portal around to the front of the cave for Ez.
When we saw her drop a light-marble through the portal, that would be the signal…Mikael and Raven would use their ropes of entanglement from the sides, and the rangers and archer would unleash a hail of death.
Well, this time the battle went much differently. When we no longer had to climb up one by one to reach the enemy – and when we surprised them with invisibility on top of that! – it was like…shooting fish in a barrel.
Mikael summoned Rocky the Earth Elemental, but I don’t think he even got any of the action. Heiron and I did indeed “unleash a hail of death,” and Elmo dashed into the fray with his axe.
As the smoke cleared from Ezekiel/Lydia’s second fireball, the last giant dropped to the ground.
It almost seems unfair. Almost.
Turns out they were hoarding a whole lot of gems and coins, plus a ring of protection that Elmo is wearing for now…Also a couple scrolls, one of which is definitely for Lydia.
We set up the fortress, and no sooner had we drawn the circle than Lydia joined us. Before we could panic, she explained that she’s been doing some studying, and found that she can “fix” the portal or something, so she can step in and out of it without trapping us all. Makes sense we wouldn’t want to leave it sitting open where something dangerous might blunder in (like a slime), but as long as we’re in the fortress, everything should be dandy.
With this new information, Ezekiel is much more confident about killing the dragons in the Air Node. We all talked for a bit about how we might do that, especially if Lydia loads up the ring of storage with fireballs and lightenings – and then all of us followed her back through the portal so she could rest and study up.
Before she shut down the mirror, though, Ezekiel had her drop him at Taki’s old campsite in the Air Node so he can practice his protection spells. He says the bandit cleric we rescued last gave him some hints that the spells could work differently in the nodes, and he wants to experiment. I’m not sure how you can “experiment” with divine spells (it’s not like it depends on word order and pronunciation, right?) but anyway that’s what he’s up to. And if he just sits in the fortress and stays off the battlements, he shouldn’t be too vulnerable all by himself.
I think Mikael also wants to prepare some things. He’s had a bundle of sticks shoved in his back pocket for the last few days, and last I saw him, he said something about “collecting a jar of wasps”. I’m…not sure I want to know.
The rest of us prepare in our own ways…sharpening weapons and restocking arrows. Raven’s been in the back yard swinging around one of his magic daggers.
Elmo said he was impressed with my work, even though I didn’t get to do much. He says I know more about giants than he does now, but I figure that’s just practice and exposure…and besides, he’s the one who diced a giant into pieces, so it all evens out. We did have fun showing Heiron the difference between a hand-axe and Elmo’s battle-axe.
Mister Whisker said he missed me. Technically, I guess, he missed my cookies, but broadly he missed me. Maybe if we go back to the Node of Air, or finally get to the Node of Earth, he can come with me again.
What a day. Good to have Ezekiel alive again, though.
Read the previous entry here.