Alert: DEFINITELY contains SPOILERS for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”
Lydia decided on the side of boldness and valor and whatever, and went into the room.
I stood guard, pushing the curtain with my back so I could see both sides (thankfully it wasn’t another flesh-eating purple fungus).
Directly in front of me sat a silver throne – glinting with gems, but mostly in shadow. Ezekiel stood off to the side, his shield trying to blind me, while he spun hither and thither and waved his mace. The others were scattered around the steps of the throne, with Raven and Heiron closest to the corner by me.
Ezekiel yelled, “There’s something invisible in the corner!” and banged his mace on the floor.
Someone (we think it was the mace!) growled, “Hu kyam!”
(I don’t know what else it did, but that’s all I saw.)
Lydia was rubbing a silver coin on the ground. Mikael waved his hand in the air. Ezekiel rushed toward the corner.
And then things got…really weird. Raven jerked around, yelping, and something shook the floor with an incredible thump/bang.
Well, from the way Raven’s body was…squishing…I lined up a shot. My first two arrows disappeared, and while there were no satisfying bellows of pain, I think they nailed something.
Ezekiel was vibrating again, like he did way back when, and then–
Then Mikael got his spell to work. We saw a huge, bulbous shape – out-lined and high-lighted with the glow of faery fire – stretching out tentacles of some kind to whack at Raven…but that’s the best I can get at describing it. The pictures on the Temple walls hardly do it justice…the thing was hideous.
With something clearer to shoot at (although we still couldn’t make sense of the anatomy!) Heiron and I lit into it, while Mikael dragged a limp Raven away from the conflict and did some healing. Lydia summoned Simba, who leapt forward, all claws whirling – and finally, finally, Ezekiel had his mace prepped the way he wanted it, and he swung.
Even he could hardly miss a target that size. Thud, splat – and the whole shuddering mass became visible as it dropped off the wall and flopped to the floor.
[rough sketch, scrubbed out]
Nope, I can’t even do it justice. Suffice to imagine an elephant (Lydia told us about this creature called an elephant), only round, and with a mushroom for a head. And then crank the Ugly factor way, way up.
Thank goodness we didn’t have to look at it too long, since the whole thing melted into…black fog?…and evaporated. Ezekiel says that means “she can’t come back for a really long time” – which, who knows what that means, but I hope it’s all over for now.
Raven sat up, and Ezekiel said, “IgonnagoexplorewhileIstillgotProtectionfromEvilokbye,” and ran off.
Ezekiel is on the Depressive swing Why do we always come in the back door?! LEGEND OF MIKAEL THE GOD-BOTHERER
I noticed Elmo wasn’t there, but someone had seen him running off through the doors, so Heiron and I went to find him. We caught up with him – and Ezekiel – back in the room where our fortress was, which is where we found the first hint that something was wrong:
The rune-circles on the floor were all gone.
When we rejoined the others, the big electrum rune-circle there, in front of the silver throne, was still glowing. I don’t think I mentioned that before – I didn’t really attach importance to it while there was something attacking us, and afterwards I just walked around it because I was worried about Elmo (he’s fine; just sheepish. Too bad he missed such a big fight. Ezekiel felt the need to bring up the banshee episode which is not cool of him).
Beyond the rune-circle are three columns, about twelve feet tall and topped with a skull worked as a piece with each pillar. They look like they’re made of gold, platinum, and electrum (Ez says the “old lady” tried to buy us off with them…or tried to trick us into touching them, one of the two. They’re covered with swirling sigils and runes that keep moving around, and I’m sure not going to touch them if I can help it!).
Ezekiel says when he first entered the room, a shriveled old crone was sitting in the throne. She asked him to take her gold and leave her alone, then vanished – apparently turning invisible and running around like a huge mushroo-phant. And I’m telling this quite badly, but we’ve all had a bit of a shock.
When we had regrouped, we headed back to the fortress – and the mirror-portal. Lydia went through first (with Raven to protect her), then we followed with the fortress. Even though it was getting on in the evening, we were worried about the stone giants (how’s that for a switch?) and Lydia tried to scry them…but couldn’t find them anywhere in her mirror.
We all felt this was a big enough deal that we should report to our “bosses” as soon as possible…so Lydia sent “Keom dear” to round up Sir Rufus and the other Homlette leaders. Ezekiel went up to the tower roof to stride around and stare meaningfully into the night, I guess. He kept muttering, “Just like Watermill…just like Watermill,” which is one of those moods when you just leave him be.
[written in Lawful Good]
It took a while, since everyone had their evening duties to wrap up, but finally we got Druid Master Geru, Sir Rufus, Wizard Marn, Father Yra, Canon Turjon and Brother Celmert, and the village elder all piled into Sir Rufus’ quarters in the tower.
Ezekiel started by telling them we killed something suspiciously like the Mushroom Queen – but some of us were not quite convinced that it was actually her. After all, I thought the whole point of the key and the nodes was that they had her trapped, and we couldn’t get to her to kill her without the key??
However, the node portals disappearing is a big event for sure – especially since we still don’t have the last gem!
Wizard Marn says he’s been studying the “yellow skull,” with its four slots for gems, and he thinks perhaps holding the skull would let the person travel to different places…and also that it might be possible to destroy the skull if all four key-stones were seated, and then the skull was attacked with all four elements. Sounds very complicated…especially when we only have three stones.
Honestly, I didn’t understand a lot of what he said, but Lydia was taking notes – and she gave Ezekiel a present that some guy gave her for “his mission,” so that cheered him up a bit.
It’s been quite strange around here, to say the least.
First thing this morning, Lydia tried to scry the statue of Nori that Mikael made in the Air Node. No result. We know she was able to before, since she used it to send us back there once, but today it didn’t work.
The problem’s not with the mirror, either, because she dropped us on the bottom floor of the Temple where the portals to the Nodes and the Elemental Plains used to be…but now the rune-circles for all the Nodes are gone. It definitely seems the Nodes have…vanished into thin air.
Tressarian confirmed that the three gems we have are still magical…we’re just unclear what exactly they do. Mikael suggested touching the stone to an animal – like a mouse or something – and seeing if they disappear…then trying to find them with the mirror. The objection was that the animal would take the stone with them, and who knows if they might end up in limbo or null-space or the void or something.
Ezekiel said he couldn’t get a question-and-answer session with his god for another week, so we sent one of the ever-helpful disciples to ask Father Yra for a favor…but while he was gone Ezekiel and Raven got into a…squabble? I think it started when Ezekiel was saying “maybe not an animal” or something, and Raven said, yeah, we couldn’t risk Ezekiel zapping himself into e-space for an experiment, and Ezekiel got all hot and indignant that he wouldn’t do anything so reckless (conveniently forgetting his instances of recklessness, I guess).
Mikael and I kinda looked at each other, not sure what to do, and by the time Father Yra arrived, Raven had wrapped Ezekiel in his rope of entanglement and Ezekiel was yelling at him.
Finally, after Lydia said she trusted Ezekiel to listen to the rest of us, Ezekiel swore to not experiment with the gems without the party’s approval, and Raven let him go. I guess the stress of everything is wearing on people in different ways. (And, after all, it’s Ezekiel’s experimentation that got us to that place where the “old lady” was.)
After explaining our position to Father Yra, he agreed to commune for some answers for us.
#1 Have the Nodes collapsed? (yes)
#2 Did we really kill the Old Lady? (yes – much discussion)
#3 Are the people trapped in Nodes all right? (no…moment of silence)
#4 Is the magic circle in the throne room a portal? (yes)
#5 If so, does it lead to the Mushroom Queen? (no – at which Ez said, Good, we don’t want to go to Abyss)
#6 If/Since Nodes collapsed, can we destroy the “yellow skull” without the fourth stone? (no – party disturbed)
#7 Can the Nodes be accessed from the area beyond the throne? (no…makes sense in light of them being collapsed)
#8 Does the skull make the throne at the top of the Temple “go down”? (yes…guess what Ezekiel’s going to experiment on soon?)
We took the day off while waiting for Father Yra’s answers. I think we all needed time to process what happened. Elmo and I took Heiron and Mikael fishing, and Raven took his disciples to chase birds out of the local fields – lap after lap after lap.
I actually feel bad for the stone giants. We kinda made a promise to them…but apparently we weren’t able to keep it. Elmo says that’s how life goes sometimes, and he thinks Ezekiel just needs time to find peace about it.
It’s weird to think we might have beaten the Big Bad without even meaning to. Mikael wonders if Ezekiel’s quest-compulsion-spell is lifted now, and I guess there’s only one way to find that out…well, that or Ezekiel can ask his deity some time next week.
In the meantime, there’s some cleaning-up we want to do.
Fresh day, fresh start. Right after breakfast, we want to clear out the Old Lady’s quarters…
Lydia got us back to the room with the silver throne no trouble. Schaka says the three pillars there (platinum, gold, electrum) are not trapped…at least not in the normal ways. The runes all over them seem to still be “alive” (they’re still glowing and moving around) and we don’t really want to touch them. Ezekiel prodded the pillars with his mace, and they toppled over like they were hollow or something. His magic clerical “sixth sense” for traps didn’t sense anything wrong with them, either…but none of us are in the mood to take freaky chances at the moment.
The gems all over the silver throne and the steps are also magical (and now that I’ve actually taken time to look at them, they’re shaped into little ugly faces…because naturally). Ez dug one out and tried dispelling a curse from it, but that didn’t change its magical reading…sooo we left those alone for now, too.
Out in the hallway (where we first entered the silver-throne room), there’s a shelf arranged with rocks. Dusty, magic rocks.
Now, these – Ezekiel’s trap-aura alerted him to something fishy here…he thinks that if you touched them, you’d be turned into something…or it would turn into something, perhaps. There’s a code word for deactivating it – but each stone has a different word, and we’re not that anxious to collect random rocks anyway.
There’s a room full of dirt…no magic, no tricks, just ordinary, lush soil…which is quite bizarre in the context.
There’s a “sitting room”…and, there’s another throne room.
We will not be sitting in the “sitting room”…Ezekiel says the stools and such are all trapped in a very similar way to the rocks on the shelf…and so are some the mushroom statues. That’s statues of mushrooms, made out of ivory and shell and porcelain and all kinds of things. I think I only recently figured out that “Mushroom Queen” means, like, queen of the mushrooms. Maybe that’s why she’s so grumpy…because mushrooms are, like, not that smart, and won’t do what she tells them.
As for the latest throne room…
Well, we tip-toed through the “sitting room” (avoiding the stools and statues pretty well, all things considered), and opened the next door – to discover a big, lavish apartment with gaudy tapestries all over the walls, and fat, colorful sofas and armchairs and thick, fluffy carpets, and the like. Ezekiel took one sniff, and announced the whole place reeked of trap magic – alteration flavor, like all the others…all except the tapestries, and the gold throne in the very center of the room.
He waved his hand and mace and holy water a bit, to dispel the magic…and then we had one of the most hair-raising experiences in this whole off-kilter week.
As the spell dissipated, the sofa cushions “turned into” violet molds, the armchairs “turned into” ochre jellies…the ottomans were black puddings, the couches were green slimes – it was like a wild smorgasbord of every slimy, sticky, gooey, disgusting pile of living slime you could ever wish to quietly avoid in a dungeon…all “staring” at us, and making their way toward us as fast as their little pseudopods could take them.
Then – Mikael became our best friend for life. He tossed his mistletoe around, and chanted, and the whole throne room erupted in thick, wild thorn-hedge. I don’t know how it grew there, and I don’t care…the splatty sound of slimes being impaled was music to my ears.
Then he did one even better — he stepped up to the thorn-hedge, shot fire from his hand, and lit the whole thing on fire. With hisses, pops, and whistles, the gooey horrors all died…all except the half-dozen oozes that were immune to fire, but by the time they worked themselves free of the thorns, Heiron and I were able to pick them off easily (and Elmo, I guess, but he usually carries his axe around because he’s more used to it).
Mikael really hopes the golden throne will be all right once the fire dies down; I don’t know if he thinks it would look nice in his grove, or what. Raven says, he won’t be the one to carry it out, that’s all.
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