Dear Diary…there were rituals

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “Descent Into the Depths of the Earth”

We passed through an enormous cave, where we caught glimpses of windows and doorways opening off of ledges high above our heads. There must have been ramps or stairs somewhere…unless drow can fly, on top of everything else. On the cavern floor, on our level, we passed a half-dozen lizards – the size of horses, with tethers of their heads, and some kind of tackle lying beside them. They were eating fungus, so I guess some creatures find it palatable. Mikael wanted to make friends with them, but we didn’t want their owners mad at us, so we pursuaded him to move along.

I think Lydia is also homesick for some real food (though Ezekiel points out we’ve only been down here a few days). Rations are all fine and good (and Raven cooks them fantastically), but she was waving her fingers over her food to alter the taste or something (I didn’t know that was a thing). Raven tried some, and told us not to bother.

****

The path ran down into water today. Fortunately, before we examined it for long, a fish man came flapping out of the darkness toward us. Imagine a fish body dropped onto skinny little frog legs, with little flappy arms. Happily, it was much smaller than the slime trail we crossed yesterday, so we didn’t mistake it for an abalath.

Lydia spoke with it, and said it could take us across the water for payment. So she paid it money, and it climbed into a barge, and we all followed. When we were on the other side, Ezekiel asked her how much it was, and we realized she hadn’t paid for me. Yet here I was, on the other side (Raven poked me, to make sure I was still there). Not sure that’s fair to the fish-thing, but it’s not worth arguing about anyway. At least they didn’t just forget me. Agnar said, how could they forget the smallest member of the party? And Master Oaklock looked like he was about to say something, but then changed his mind.

**

Not far past the water, the passage branched into two tunnels. While we were deciding which way to go, I heard someone or something on the border of our lights, seeming to observe us. So I poked Ezekiel and switched rings so I could investigate. (It’s not the most convenient thing, but keeping the different rings in my pocket lets me use whichever one the situation requires. Raven and Ezekiel told me I should make sure to wear the ring of truth when we’re talking with someone.)

I’m sure I sensed something, but clearly the echoes messed with my sense of direction, because I checked the wrong passage. When I rejoined the others, they were (that is, Mikael was) speaking with a strange-looking gnome. His name was Trosli Garnetgetter. He speaks the kind of Common they use down here, but none of us could understand that, so the easiest way to communicate with him was just have Mikael speak gnome.

I’m not quite sure what Master G was up to. He warned us that fish people – that he called “Kua’toa” – lived up ahead along the road we needed to take. But he also said his group traded with them to obtain gems sometimes, so they couldn’t have been too unreasoning. They do live in vast numbers, though, so if you get on the bad side of them, it can be trouble. He says sometimes they mug people. He also said he and his friends were looking for gems. I get the impression he was feeling us out, to see if we might have gems. One of those statements made his voice go higher-pitched than usual, but of course by the time he finished talking, and Mikael was explaining what he said, it was hard to nail down which it was.

In the end, Mikael agreed to pay Master G to guide us past the shrine of the fish people (I get the sense they can be rowdier when they have a festival going on, but I’m not sure) and to the city of the drow.

Anyway, he led us down one of the branches of the passage, and before long we arrived at the shrine. It had an altar, and I think a couple pools of water or something, but honestly I don’t remember much because of the statue of a huge naked lady with a giant crab head where her head should be…and I’m trying my hardest to block that from my mind.

Ezekiel spent some time “communing” or something (which he couldn’t have done some place less “decorative”?) and then said he and Raven should pay their respects to the local goddess, since the shrine wasn’t Evil. Apparently the naked crab lady is the goddess (Ezekiel pronounced her name like “Blipdoolpoolp”, so I guess she just couldn’t get a break, but I think if I could choose my own form based on my personality, I’d do anything but that…but Aliana says that’s not necessarily how it works).

Ezekiel circled the altar a few times, and splashed water around I think (I was on guard duty) and prayed some more.

Master G was trying to pry one of the gems out of the altar, but Aliana told him that wasn’t polite, and gave him such a look that he stopped. Just in time, too, as a bunch of the fish-men flapped and squelched up to us (I think Master G just about choked when he saw them).

Ezekiel cast a spell, and spoke with the kua’toa for a bit. They led him, Raven, and Aliana into an alcove with another pool, while the rest of us guarded the exit. Master G fidgeted quite a bit, and Mikael kept talking to him to keep him calm.

According to Raven, Ezekiel helped a lobster into the smaller pool, and a voice asked them what they wanted. Ez said he wanted to talk, and the voice directed them back to the statue behind the main altar.

They touched the statue, and disappeared…just like the gems of the elemental nodes. Mikael barely kept Master G from leaving then…I guess he’s not used to this kind of thing.

The threesome reappeared before too long. Ezekiel said we (or at least they) have been marked “friendly” for the kua’toa, so they won’t attack if we don’t.

Still, all this monkeying around was too much for Master G. He gave us some final directions for the drow city, and accepted his payment and left. I hope we didn’t pay for me, since he didn’t do too much.

As for his conversation with the naked lobster lady (there’s no way I can spell her name again), Ezekiel shared that with us after G left. He said she seemed nice, contrary to the rituals of her followers. She warned him that the Spider Queen is moving pieces in the giant game, and her plays are touching the surface world. Madam Bibilop is not strong enough to stand against Her personally, but Ezekiel intends to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

The kua’toa followed us in formation for about a mile after we left the shrine, and they let us pass with much bowing and flapping. I think I like them better than drow, though that’s not saying a whole lot.

****

During his prayers last night, Ezekiel got a message in his mind. He says the gems for the elemental nodes have disappeared. I thought they were destroyed with the skull, but apparently not. The people of Mitrik did have them locked up, but they have disappeared now.

I would whine about things never staying where we put them, but there’s not much point. Ezekiel reminded us that the Mushroom Queen is who we fought in the Temple, but the Spider Queen seems to have a scheme afoot down here. So who might want possession of the elemental stones? They’re not connected to nodes anymore…are they?

I know whoever had them locked up would be no push-over, which means we have some ugly powerful players in the game. I hate how things keep escalating. Princess Jolene better keep a sharp eye on Prince Thrommel, and maybe six or seven bodyguards.


Find the previous entry here.

One thought on “Dear Diary…there were rituals

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary...the light at the end of the tunnel is blue and purple - Kimia Wood

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *