Dear Diary….special snowflakes every one of us

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

We have rescued another inhabitant of the nodes.

When we got back to the fortress after all the dragon stuff, there was a guy knocking on the fortress door. His shield had the green dragon of Sir Robilar, but he says he just found it somewhere in the node…along with his chainmail and weapons (which explains why it doesn’t fit him well, and looks so beat-up).

We introduced ourselves, and turns out his name is Ashrim (former priest of the Air Temple)…says he was betrayed by his brother, Alrim (priest of the Fire Temple, I think – now dead) and sacrificed to the nodes.

We told him we were invaders of the nodes, and Ezekiel said we could get him out – for the price of telling us what he knew. Ashrim says there’s a vegemoyd in the Water Node (whatever that is), also some sea-hags (Ezekiel seemed intrigued…maybe they have the key-fragment?).

He also said there’s a bodak in the Fire Node, plus some red dragons; Earth Node has basilisks and black dragons. So sounds like we’ll be fighting more dragons…though I’m not looking forward to the basilisks, either. Ezekiel’s told us too many freaky stories about them.

We gave A. food and drink inside the fortress, and Lydia told him that as long as he behaved himself, what he did wasn’t our business…unless he did something that made it our business. I still don’t trust him, but he says the Mushroom Queen has abandoned him, and we all know what a cleric with no spells is worth (!). Ezekiel and Mikael encouraged him that maybe he should serve a deity who actually cared about him – like maybe Obed-Hai, who actually showed up at Mikael’s prayer when Ezekiel was being stupid and trying to get himself killed.

**

When we returned from the node, most of us returned to the Welcome Wench (Lydia has her room at the tower, of course, and Ashrim went with the “nice people” Sir Rufus sent).

Raven ran up to the room to get something, but he came down almost right away – looking kind of green. He’s supposed to be immune to disease, so we asked what the matter was, and it sure was creepy…

He found the special horse dagger (that he’s been saving in case he meets his Tzigani friends again) was taken out of his locked chest (even though the sheath was still locked up in the chest) and pieces of brie cheese laid out on the table to spell a word: ORPOST. The dagger was stuck in the table (made all the more mysterious since the room door was still locked, too).

We asked Master Osler if he’d seen or heard anything suspicious – but he said, No. He did remember that the young lady monk who used a scythe (the one with short black hair) came from Orpost, so that told us it was a place-name.

We hunted around town to find someone who could tell us how to get there. Apparently it’s past Verbobanc, on the other side of the Iron Wood (which apparently doesn’t have a reputation for being safe or friendly).

When we met up again for supper in our rooms, Raven explained that the cheese came from his family’s dairy back home – which makes it even weirder (I guess he can tell from the smell or the shape or something?). He seems to think it’s a challenge or some monk-ish thing like that, so Ezekiel says we’re going to Orpost. Master Elmo says he has to stay here (it is kinda his job) but the rest of us want to see a real monk-on-monk fight.

****

Still on the right road. Still feels so posh to be traveling by horseback, instead of our own feet. The people at the inn here say the path through the Iron Wood is about one day shorter than taking the long way around, but you have to watch out for the werewolves – and don’t be out after dark!

Somebody here was talking about setting up a fort to fight back the lycanthropes — sounds cool!, but we have our own job to do back in Homlette. So Ezekiel agreed we could head through the wood, and if we push it we should reach the safe inn before dark.

**

Safe and sound in the Fallen Timber. As Raven says, maybe we’re too loud and shiny for anything to want to attack us. Which I guess is fine, since we’re going somewhere, and we don’t like werewolves (although we have buckets of Keoghtim’s Ointment with us just in case).

****

Raven asked around the inn for monks of Merikka, and found out there’s a monastery on a hill not far away. He also bought some cheese, but so far he’s just sitting and staring at it, not eating it. Monks are so weird.

Can’t wait to see him fight his superior tomorrow.

****

We have a new Lamest Fight Ever.

Yep, we got to the monastery (which is a log building with a fenced training yard in front) and the lady seemed to be waiting for Raven there. She looked pretty grumpy, and at that point Raven decided to tell Ezekiel that he’s been thinking of leaving the Order of Merikka to join the Order of Ao (which there isn’t one, as far as we know knew). He said he told Merikka, and Ao, but apparently the lady monk found out, too, because she looked ready to twist Raven’s head off.

Raven took off his magic rings, and his magic rope, and his robe and all the rest of his gear. Mikael looked strange, and asked him if he wanted to borrow the jar of wasps (he said he was glad he didn’t have to fight anyone to advance in his order, until Ezekiel pointed out that really powerful druids totally fight each other, and then he looked even paler).

Raven breathed in and out a few times, and swung himself over the fence. Mikael sat on a haystack, and Lydia and Heiron and I all stepped forward to see better (we couldn’t help ourselves).

The Monk Master (her name is Balgalar, by the way) chatted with Raven for a minute, and then she called out, “I swear I have no magical aides on me, and I will prove with my body that Superior Master Raven will stay such until he repents of his folly.” (Or something like that…it sounded impressive.)

Raven drew a breath, like he was going to make a speech, too, but then he said, “I – Let’s just do this!”

Master Balgalar hit him so fast I could barely see it – and then, just when I thought it was going to get good, Raven knocked her flying so she sprawled on the ground. And that was it.

So we all stood and watched her for the five minutes it took her to stand back up, and boy, she looked even madder than before.

She started yelling at Raven that he wasn’t supposed to use any magical help, and then there was another man in the ring. Not like he jumped the fence and joined them or anything — he was just there. I checked with Lydia — she saw the same thing I did!

This old fellow in the white robes talked with the two of them for a minute, and then I think he patted the lady on the shoulder or something (apparently she’s still Merikka’s Master of Dragons…wait, does that mean Merikka has dragons??) and then he and Raven started walking toward us.

Ezekiel was leaning halfway into the ring by this time…good thing his armor doesn’t weigh hardly anything while he’s wearing it, since those sandals he wears aren’t any kind of counter-balance at all.

“Did I hear right?” he yelped. “You’re one of us?”

Apparently – Yes, this strange man (he has a nasty scar on his neck, and red, runny eyes) is one of…”those.” Sounds like he’s the “monk” Raven met the first time he went to the Air Node — the time we lost him by accident, and “Someone” intervened to get him back.

This “Brother Paul” fellow says he’s “not from this world,” but because Raven’s need was so great (in the Air Node) he showed up.

Oh, as for the fight – apparently that was the Blessing of the Tzigani showing up. Brother Paul says Raven can’t be faulted for “using” it, since he didn’t know about it…and not even Ezekiel knew that when the old Tzigani blessed Raven, this is what they meant!

Brother Paul kind of patted Raven on the shoulder, and told him to “train hard” and “follow the path” (all teachers say that, I guess), and Mikael said, “Hey, Ezekiel – actual proof your God exists!”

(The spells and zombie-dusting were one thing, but I can see Ez’s excited to not be the only person in the Church now.)

Some kids in grey robes ran up (one of them huffing and puffing) and asked to be Raven’s disciples (one of them was stammering and gushing about Raven’s big kick…are they going to tell him it was Tzigani magic?) so we took the two of them back to the inn with us. As Heiron pointed out, they’re not really suited to invade the nodes at this time…but they seem star-struck with Raven, so I guess it’s his problem.

Kinda adorable the way they try to run just the way Raven does, holding their hands just so. Reminds me of Heiron for some reason…although it’s not nearly as unsettling when they do it.

Raven’s writing a letter to his family now. I’m sure they’d like to hear about his success…although he says they were getting a discount on their religious duties or something as long as he was with the order (the monks of Merikka do like to help out local farms and such) but now that he’s the one and only Monk of Ao, that will be different.

I wonder what other weirdness will be happening now?

****

Dear Mother and Father,

How are you? I am fine.

Well, actually —

You might remember that Ertulli was invaded by goblins? Well, it’s fine. Actually, it’s not fine, but we evacuated all the people to Hochoch, so I guess they’re fine.

Then we got a name for a gnome scholar who might know why the goblins invaded…but that’s not really important, because when we got to Orlane (which was where the gnome was supposed to be), we half-accidentally killed the priestess of Merikka because there was an Evil cult of people charmed by a Spirit Naga, so we had to kill her (the Spirit Naga, that is).

Actually, that makes it sound like not as big a deal as it was — after all, Ezekiel (that’s Ezekiel Sentinel who was running the old clinic of Father Lloyd) actually got killed by one bite from her!

Then a priest of Velnius raised Ezekiel in Orlane, and told him there was something dark and Evil happening in some place called Homlette, in south Veluna. So we trekked over there (meeting some Tzigani along the way), and at first we weren’t sure exactly what to do…but then this super buff ranger (who was pretending to be stupid) gave us a lead.

So after we killed a bunch of cultists, and I got assassinated, we found ourselves invading the Temple of Elemental Evil! (Yes, that one, that Old Master Baron Drygoth was always talking about when nobody was listening.) We also met a bunch of new friends, including Heiron, who is a man-at-arms we rescued from the cultists. We hired him, and I’ve been teaching him some dodging and weapons techniques, and we’ve been sharing the magical gear we find with him to help him be a help (and he has been a great help!).

Part way through the Temple, we detected a secret room that radiated magical Evil (with Tressarian, my new magic sword, which I forgot to mention…he says hello, and he’s very pleased to meet you…oh, and yes, he can talk, although reading he’s not so good with).

Inside the room we found the missing Prince of Furiundy! Although we thought he was a vampire at first, and Ezekiel bashed him in the face with his mace – but he says his magic mace knew better, and held him back — and besides, he’s a cleric, so he fixed the prince’s face so no one knows but us who were in the room.

Anyway, once Heiron carried him out of the room, he woke up – and we could all see that he wasn’t a vampire like we thought…so we followed the prince back to town, and saw him safely off on a horse. We figured that was that, so we went back to the Temple, killed more cultists and monsters, bashed the Old One (that was Ezekiel), got killed by the Old One (that was me and our monk, Raven), and a lot of other stuff. I’ll have to write more details later.

Anyway, we took a trip so our monk could fight another monk (wasn’t as cool as I hoped – they pretty much just hit each other once each, and then the lady monk was unconscious for a bit) and when we got back, there was a battalion of knights waiting for us at the inn (also several priests of Rau and some magic users). Their horses were all decked out in the colors of Veluna, and I started to get nervous.

They started asking for each one of us by name, and I got really nervous, and they told us that Prince Thrommel required us in Mitrik at once! – but they said it was all friendly, and that we wouldn’t need our weapons…and they took us on the week-long trip to Veluna.

(I have a horse now, by the way…he’s a present from Mikael – yes, Mikael from the Grove, who is a really powerful druid now, and made friends with lots of animals, only they have all died except his giant snake by now – and this horse is one he bought, not one that he befriended especially.)

They put us up in super fancy rooms in the citadel, and this morning pages came to “escort” us to breakfast (although all of us were a little too excited to eat much, even Lydia, who is our magic user). They gave us fancy, expensive clothes to borrow (although Ezekiel and Raven were still wearing the special robes of Ao — we told them when they met us that Raven had just changed deities, which I forgot to mention, but it’s really complicated. Bottom line, apparently there really is a God over all Gods, and he seems to have noticed Ezekiel – but in a Good way, like giving him power to turn undead and stuff – and anyway I will have to explain that later).

A bunch of important knights, with their armor polished to a shine, led us to the throne room, and there we met Prince Thrommel his actual self! (and his face looks just fine, by the way) and his lady-to-be, the Lady Jolean of Veluna.

He thanked us all for rescuing him from the Temple, and we were about to say he was very welcome, and needn’t mention it, but then he drew his sword (that’s the special magic one that everyone talks about) and told Heiron to kneel.

Heiron looked like he was pretty happy to lower his center of gravity, and the prince knighted him a Knight of Veluna and Furiundy, and some pages brought out another magic sword to give to Heiron – plus a potion, and a magic ring, and a whole big bag of platinum pieces. For real.

We all sighed and smiled and were feeling so proud of Heiron (and maybe thinking out how the platinum would divide six ways) when he told Heiron to stand up and told me to kneel.

I think I did manage to without passing out on the floor, but really I don’t remember much of what he said. He pinned a silver star badge and a gold crown badge on me, just like on Heiron, and now I am a knight of Veluna and Furiundy and he gave me treasure just like he did to Heiron, also.

Mikael he kissed to make him an Elder of the Land, and he also gave him a warhorse (I think Mikael tried to give him his jar of wasps, but the prince just moved on with the ceremony. Apparently druids don’t understand that if you give something in return for a gift, then it isn’t really a gift).

By the time he was done with Raven (his attendants helped remind him that Raven was now a monk of the God of Gods, not Merikka, although we’re all getting used to that still) Lydia was recovered (if she was ever shocked) and made a lovely curtsy to him. She got to be an elder, too, and got treasures just like the rest of us.

Ezekiel got the same, plus a necklace of prayer beads that he’s been drooling over ever since (he still has something funny with his spells, like his magic mace casts spells or something, and he was trying to explain to me how these prayer beads worked, but honestly I have no memory of what he said).

Finally they let us sit down, and a bard came out a sang about how we rescued the prince from the Temple (leaving out the part about bashing him in the face, of course, because that part is our secret) and then the princess came and thanked us all and tomorrow we get to watch the ceremony where they confirm their engagement. (Part of me thinks, with the enemies the kingdoms have, they should go ahead and have the wedding as soon as possible, but it’s none of my business really.)

Anyway, I thought you would like to know how your “little boy” is doing lately. So I am an honest-to-goodness knight now, and Ezekiel pointed out that if they ever get into a war or something, they might be calling on me.

Ezekiel says we (the six of us) should be ready for war in any case, since the Old One (yes, really, that one) will be kinda mad at us after Ezekiel bashed his face with his magic mace (it’s what he does). But that’s not the point right now.

As you can see, I am doing fine. I am doing my best to kill Evil and protect Good, and I hope you are all proud of me.

Please give my regards to Alpheus and Dexter and Wolfgang and Aunt Elaine, and also I guess to Tomlin and Archy if you see them. And if Reginald and Bartholomew have somehow managed to avoid prison or being killed by this time, tell them to keep it up.

Sincerely and affectionately yours,

Elwyn


Find the previous entry here.

One thought on “Dear Diary….special snowflakes every one of us

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary….there are water things, and then there are water things - Kimia Wood

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