Dear Diary….cleaning up and cashing in

When the fire died down, we could examine the gold throne – which was the only thing left in the room. Turns out the seat is all weird and…bowl-like, like for a giant “elephant”-shaped thing to sit in. So we broke it up into pieces, because at least the gold will be worth something (maybe Mikael will forge himself a new grove-chair).

We circled the walls to make sure we hadn’t missed anything, and checked out a place on the far side of the pillars-and-throne room that Ezekiel noticed while he was running around hyper. It’s a huge rectangle of dirt with a border of stone where you can walk.

Ezekiel used magic to tell us there was something mushroom-shaped down there, and Tressarian smelled something magical in the very middle…but we all smelled a trap, so Mikael’s going to request some spell to control the plants or calm the plants or keep them off our backs or something so we can get to the magic thing. We’re coming back tomorrow anyway so Lydia can use her detection abilities on the pillars and silver throne (she should be able to get more information than Tres can, since she’s a specialist).

We loaded up some candelabra that Ezekiel noticed earlier and really wanted for some reason, and confirmed that the big purple throne in the pillar room is magical somehow (that’s the room that’s so big, with all the pillars shaped like ugly mushrooms. I guess we’ll have something else to investigate eventually).

**

Nice surprise when we got back to the inn. A minstrel was there from the Grand Duchy of Geoffe! and he sang Hrvstllygg Tymll very nicely. He also says a ranger (I bet that’s Master!) was patrolling near Ertulli, and discovered the smoking bodies of goblins! Someone has been clearing out…we’ll have to see if it’s someone good, or the Mage of the Valley moving even further out.

He also shared some big news about the capital. Apparently some magicians were plotting against the Grand Duke (the horror!) and planning a coup, but before they could make their move, they all turned up dead…they and their zombie armies (so you know they were up to no good!). He said there was something strange about the way they died – like their own spells were used against them or something – and Lydia got really interested.

By the end of the evening, we’d told him what we could about the Temple and the nodes (he heard the bones of the story in Mitrik). Even if it ends on an anti-climax, maybe it’ll still sound cool when he plays that “da-na-pwew” chord.

****

A messenger brought Heiron a very nice suit – dark colors that show off his Veluna and Furiundy medals very nicely. He hasn’t said where it came from, but you can tell he likes it. Makes him look older, even.

**

Lydia got us back into the place with all the thrones. She says the pillars have something to do with alteration, and locks…she and Ezekiel think maybe it locks the portal-rune somehow, but they’re not sure how. They even wonder if it doesn’t “go to” anywhere, but it was a way for the Queen to escape – except that it was locked. Hard to know now. Did it have anything to do with that pillar of light at the bottom of the Temple??

Dealing with the dirt pit was an adventure. Mikael cast something that would protect him from plants/mushrooms (I think like they couldn’t get near him or something), and I went out there with him, because I had Tressarian and a shovel. I couldn’t hold my shield at the same time, so Ezekiel was giving us light from the stone walkway.

As soon as we stepped out into the dirt, a bunch of mushrooms popped out of the dirt. I caught a glimpse of countless tentacles flailing ineffectively around our shield – plus a thick crowd of little, misshapen faces carpeting the ground, jeering at us – and then…

Then they gave little coughing shrieks and shriveled up, like earthworms in a hot sun. The ones directly to the side of Mikael and me, in our shadows, kind of froze in horror…and then Ezekiel moved around a bit, and the continual light on his shield withered them. What can I say? When we finished laughing, we shoved aside the soft bodies of the fungi to dig down the magic item. Turned out to be a wand in an ivory box, so that was nice.

About the dusty rocks on the shelf in the secret passage… Lydia said they had trap magic on them, but Raven decided to risk it. After all, Schakka said there was a panel behind them, so he wanted to see what it was. The rest of us all stood well back, all the way to the portal-rune in the next room, and watched him move the rocks.

He prodded the first one with his spear, and a blade dropped down and cut the spear in half. He poked the second one, and jumped aside as a stream of green shot out of the wall and coated the silver throne. We all recognize a green slime when we see one, so Lydia doused it with our oil and lit it.

I guess Raven was getting impatient or something, because he went and grabbed the last two stones away at the same time. Next thing you know, a panel slid back – and there’s a row of magic items waiting in a secret cupboard.

Along with a couple wand-things and a box of potions, there’s a ring that’s either for floating or flying…or making yourself glow. Or being happy all the time. Or making your voice all high and squeaky. Raven is threatening to just try it out and see what happens.

There was still one last suite we hadn’t explored, and it was quite interesting. The first room was a sitting room – typical decadent Temple furnishings – with gold bowl full of platinum coins. (Heiron pointed out they weren’t normal currency – they have the Queen’s “face” on one side, and a rune for Evil on the other. They should melt down fine, though.)

The second room was more like a council chamber or study. It had a long table, and a huge map on the wall of the Flannaes…with colored dots and magic writing here and there.

Ezekiel and Lydia ran forward to study it (after we checked it wasn’t rigged to explode) and I copied down the vital items:

[double-page sketch with dots and scribbles]

Lydia thinks the cryptic marks might be a magical code, but she’ll need more time to study it. It is a little worrying that most – if not all – of the cities there have some kind of colored dot or note on them. Is this an invasion? A roll-call??

Raven found a great little armory inside a closet. It’s all silver-infused weapons, which should be great for fighting werewolves or devils (it pays to be prepared). Raven got a new silver-tipped spear, and I got a new stock of silver arrows (since my last batch was seriously flimsy). There’s also a sword edged with silver, but a person can only have so many swords…and Tressarian is special.

****

Sir Rufus and Father Yra agree that the map is very interesting. In fact, they think the Arch-Cleric in Mitrik should see it…It might be concerning to him, depending on what it means.

Ezekiel decided that means we all need to trot off and deliver it to him. I guess since the Temple is basically cleared out, and the nodes have disappeared, there’s not a lot else for us to do.

Elmo will stay here, though…it’s kind of his job. He said I could get him some Mitrik sweetcake, except it probably wouldn’t keep the several weeks it’ll take us to ride back.

****

At camp tonight, Ezekiel spent a hour or so with his eyes closed, mumbling to himself. He says the last gem is “within a week’s travel of Homlette,” and sent Mikael off in bird form to tell Sir Rufus. Like, what does he think the Homlette council is going to do? Set Wizard Master Marn to scry it? Scramble a search party to comb that size of an area? Besides which, if you’re thinking about things and people that can shift in and out of fake dimensions, a “week’s travel” could be almost anywhere in the multi-verse! (Lydia taught us that word.)

Anyway, the gem is our job, not theirs, and if he was really worried about it, he should have let some of us go back, since we don’t all need to report to the Arch Cleric, but he wasn’t in a mood to listen to me. Is he ever in a mood to listen to me?

Burned my thumb on the campfire.

****

AHhhhhh Mitrik is so big! Definitely bigger than home, which I finally realized felt like a much bigger place to a boy under ten who was not allowed to wander by himself.

Heiron looks so great in his new outfit, and it really shows off his medals nicely. It felt strange to be wearing them at first, but of course this is the place to wear them – and even I do not anticipate a dragon melting them off in the near future. Lydia and Raven even speculated that the shopkeepers might give us a discount for being knights and elders of the realm, though Mikael and I wonder if they might charge us more.

I also think Heiron’s scars aren’t so noticeable as they seemed at first (maybe having time to get used to his face), and certainly none of the barmaids at the inn seem bothered by it.

The Arch-Cleric’s secretary said we should come to the palace first thing in the morning, which is really quick scheduling considering how busy the Arch Cleric must be…but I guess it’s true we are kind of celebrities, although I keep forgetting that.

Ezekiel and Raven have gone off to the magic shops, hoping to find some special things. Mikael wants to visit the local druid grove, but we will probably peek into some shops if we have time after visiting the Arch-Cleric tomorrow.

****

The Arch-Cleric was so nice! He actually paid us money for turning over the map, while I figured it was just our duty. (Politics is so confusing. Maybe if I had ever been a page, it would make more sense.)

Lydia explained what she’d figured out from studying the cryptic magic notations, and I’m sure he has magicians of his own to work on what it means. Hope it’s useful.

Oh, yes…apparently Ezekiel (and Raven) are planning to set up a fortress/monastery/temple/water park somewhere…for their God of all gods. (Ezekiel went on about this special fountain he wants in the front yard or something.)

The Arch-Cleric gently pointed out that most of the land around here is taken and under the protection of our allies, but that he’d keep his ears open for a place that needed an edifice to Lawful Good.

Once we were done talking, Ezekiel and Raven went off to talk to some “agents” – apparently people with connections to adventurers, or who connect adventurers to jobs that need doing – to ask them to keep their eyes open for good Champions. Come to think of it, they asked the bard in Homlette to keep his eyes open for any Lawful Good warriors who might want to be part of a fortress/monastery/temple/water park and direct them our way…but I didn’t pay much attention because I didn’t know what Ezekiel was talking about.

I suppose it is true that Ehlonna and Merikka and such have shrines all over the place – but the God of gods doesn’t really have any place to assemble worshipers and receive tribute or anything (as far as I know, Ezekiel and Raven are His only worshippers, since we’ve all agreed the fishy guy in Greyhawk doesn’t count).

Anyway, Raven has gone off to the dagger-shops, and Ezekiel and Lydia went to explore the side of town that sells magic items. They suggested we might be able to find some better armor here, and there’s only one way to find out if they’re right…

**

[sketch of gauntlet]

Mikael found some armored gloves that he says will help him punch things really hard. Don’t question him about it. I still hurt.

He also found a super cool cloak that messes with your vision or something so it’s harder to hit him (useful for a guy who has something against metal armor!).

[sketch of chainmail]

Heiron and I were nosing around, just seeing what there was to see, when we came across this armor shop with some nice-looking magic chainmail. I already have magic chainmail, of course, but the shopkeeper started telling us anecdotes about how well it served the previous owner (a noble who retired from adventuring, and sold it since he had all granddaughters anyway).

He even let us take it into the alley out back and shoot arrows at it, and after watching Heiron shoot at it, I was seriously impressed! Yeah, I don’t understand how magic armor works, but I like to think of it as the reverse-faery-fire. Heiron says the suit matches my medals too, though that is not why I bought it. There just better not be an acid dragon that comes up and melts it right away!

This shopkeeper also told us where we could find some reputable magic arrows, and while they were a bit more than I’m used to spending, at least now I have more chances to hit weird magic monsters at range. And recovering my arrows after a battle will remind me of the old days.

It’s so hard to get used to the idea of being rich. Not that long ago, we were pinching and counting every silver piece. Of course, now that the Temple is basically cleared out, we won’t have so many Evil people to pillage.

If my parents could see me now…


Find the previous entry here.

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