Dear Diary….killing people and taking their stuff

While Mikael cast healing on Ezekiel, and Ezekiel sawed off the horns of the minotaur, the rest of us searched the fallen guards and the bunk-room where they died.

The guard room, past the spiked beam trap, kind of zig-zagged north and south. Bunks lined the walls, with boxes of personal effects, but nothing really interesting.

The guards were all dressed in black under their chainmail, and I’m assuming this is the color of the Water Temple.

There was a “main” door leading out to the east, but Raven discovered that a torch on the south wall activated a secret door. We packed into the cramped space and prepared to sally out.

When the front men opened the door, I could see a medium-to-large room, with a blazing fire in the fireplace across the way.

As Ezekiel charged in and beaned a man-at-arms with his mace, I quickly examined the lay-out: bunks and chests along the walls, table in the middle, and two doors along the west wall.

Wonillon did very well for himself before the enemy could recover from their surprise. He charged in, stabbed a guard, and rolled under the table to slash at another one. Unfortunately, I think he must have been over-excited, because he didn’t take that one down.

Raven threw a javelin into the fray, Mikael cast faery fire, and Cuddles was apparently so excited that he charged a guy and ended up striking his nose against the wall.

Heiron did pretty well for himself, although he kept fumbling his follow-through. Not like I can talk about that, of course.

As our front-liners advanced, the two doors to the side of the room flew open, and men in fancier armor jumped into the battle. I use “men” loosely, as one of them had the bad teeth and greenish complexion you only get if one of your parents was an orc.

I think it was that one who started throwing darts, and Raven was still slumping to the ground when a dart clanged against Yeti’s shield.

That was the end of that – as Ezekiel vaulted over the table (yelling something about a holy sheep) and smacked the half-orc soundly with his mace.

Even Mikael got in on the action, dealing a guard a cracking blow with his cudgel.

Meanwhile I was checking for a crack in my bow because it made a weird creaking noise…but it seems all right.

Mikael bent over Raven to neutralize the poison (handy skill, no?) and I glimpsed Heiron shoot one of the officers between the armor so that he staggered backward.

Ezekiel had disappeared through one of the doors by that point – turns out it led through a tiny bedroom into yet more living quarters – and while the rest of us were mopping up in the first room, we heard the heavy clang of his mace connecting with something.

Yeti ran up to the door to get a better angle for his magic flying hammer.

I spotted more green skin, and aimed for major blood vessels.

By that point, Cuddles was feeling better, and swarmed (can snakes swarm?) through Ezekiel’s legs to bite the enemy.

I swung myself up onto the table to get a clearer shot, and speared the guard’s throat. From there, I also had a good view of Raven punching a guy so hard I think he broke his neck or something.

With all the enemies dead, we could breathe and examine our surroundings.

I turned around to catch Corby with an eyeball in her mouth. It makes me feel a little ooky to let her do that, but I guess she is just a bird, and doesn’t have the same rules of living. Like Cuddles using poison when he bites. I wouldn’t go around without clothes on, either, but animals think nothing of it.

I must be more tired than I realize.

Anyway, the room with the fireplace had rush mats on the floor. The fighters wore a mix of leather, chain, and scale armor, but all with the same black underneath.

A sheep was still cooking over the hearth, so after helping us search the bodies, Raven busied himself taking care of it (since he’s so fussy about food).

The two leaders had little bedrooms behind the two doors, and the southern room led into yet another suite that was probably fancy at one time. It has plastered walls, paintings, wall-hangings, and braziers for light and warmth.

Ezekiel found a door behind a tapestry, with a peep-hole in it so the inhabitants can keep an eye on the corridor outside. It’s only evening, not night yet, but this will be a good place to hunker down – if anyone comes looking for us, we’ll have a door between us and them.

Wonillon and Raven investigated a chest in the northern bedroom – the one with only one exit – and apparently set off a gas trap. Raven was standing in the doorway, since the room is so small, so he wasn’t affected…and once Mikael came and cast his second Neutralize Poison, Wonillon was able to crawl out of the room – coughing.

After all of that, the chest had some clothing, a big sack of money, some jewels and jewelry, two potions, and a scroll in a scroll case. Lydia says it’s illusionist, so none of us can use it…but it’ll be worth something, anyway.

When we searched the two leaders who had private rooms, Lydia told us that the man’s cloak, broadsword, and leather armor were all magical…and so was a pouch on his belt.

The cloak is…really a fashion statement, since it’s black – with red horned skulls embroidered all over it. The leather armor is worked in the same way.

Not the kind of thing we want to walk around town in…but as Lydia pointed out, we don’t need to worry about fashion down here, so we’re having her wear the cloak – we assume it’s got some kind of protection magic – and Mikael has changed into the leather armor (he’s also wearing a magic ring from the half-orc leader…we figured it was about time he got some goodies).

Speaking of being fair, Ezekiel pointed out Wonillon hadn’t gotten anything yet, so we offered him the magical pouch (we assume it’s like a bag of holding, although I don’t think we’ve tested it out yet).

A magic broadsword is nice, but none of us really needs it right now. Maybe if Heiron keeps practicing and ages out of what he’s using now.

As for the half-orc leader…besides a ring, he had a magic dagger (Raven got it), a gold earring (no one offered to wear it), and a special shield – with the same horned skull in red emblazoned on it, and a compartment to store his poisoned darts.

I don’t think we’ll be using that.

With the secret door to the north closed, our position looks pretty defensible. We dished out our healing spells on hand, and prepared for a quiet evening.

Raven has certainly done wonders with that lamb.


Find the previous entry here.

Is “Girl Power” Hurting Us?

I think “Girl Power” is a lie.

What does it even mean, anyway? Strictly speaking, it should be the power of skills and abilities that girls hold in common…the unique ability of feminine traits.

But that’s not what people mean by #GirlPower, is it? I once read a blog post (that I have since lost – humanity is fortunate) talking about “strong women” or “strong female characters” or something like that.

Every single example was fictional (as in, made up). Every single example had either magic powers (like Storm from the X-Men) or battle prowess (like Xena the Warrior Princess).

What about Cinderella – whose strength of character enabled her to endure a devastating home situation and whose purity, humility, and attitude led her to marrying the prince?

What about Corrie ten Boom and her sister, who hid Jews from the Nazis, were arrested and hauled away to a concentration camp in their fifties, and still held Bible studies in their barracks? As for Corrie, she even forgave one of her former guards – through the transforming power of Jesus, of course.

Can’t a girl be “strong” without imitating exactly what the boys are doing?

World: You Go, Girl!

Is Girl Power Hurting Us? — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Wikipedia

With hashtags like #girlboss, #beastforshe, and #believeher, you’d think girls would be encouraged and strong.

Disney is re-doing all their old titles to make them less sexist. You can buy hundreds of dollars worth of plaques that say #GirlBoss or #BossBabe or “Messy bun and getting stuff done” or “I drink the coffee and then I do the things” (can you guess where I work?).

Women do marches with funny pink hats on. A woman makes an allegation of sexual misconduct, and anyone who questions her facts is a sexist hater.

You’d think that, with all this support flooding the women of our culture, women and girls would be confident, strong, able…and happy.

But they’re not happy. They’re intensely unhappy. Whenever I hear a news item about Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful women in the country (if not the world) I think about how absolutely miserable she seems.

Where’s the joy?

Also World: Girl, Wash Your Face!

Is "Girl Power" Hurting Us? — Kimia WoodScroll the bestsellers on Amazon, or browse the books on sale by the registers of Hobby Lobby, and you’ll start picking up a vibe…

  • Me, Myself, and Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover — “Words are powerful. Especially the words women speak to themselves.” Get rid of the negative things you think about yourself, and replace them with positive things from God’s word!
  • Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely — “GOD WANTS US TO LIVE LOVED WHEN WE FEEL LEFT OUT, LONELY, AND LESS THAN. [sic] … Lysa TerKeurst digs deep into God’s Word to help you explore the roots of rejection, the way other relationships get tainted because of a past rejection, and the truth about what it looks like to live loved.”
  • Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be — A lifestyle blogger and CEO of her own media company encourages girls to “live with passion and hustle.”
  • Also Girl, Stop Apologizing — the same author tells women to not “define themselves in light of other people” but rather learn “how to own who they are and what they want”.
  • Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free – “Many women live under a cloud of personal guilt and condemnation,” says this author. “Many are in bondage to their past. Others are gripped by fear of rejection and a longing for approval. Still others are emotional prisoners.”
    “Nancy offers the most effective weapon to counter and overcome Satan’s deceptions: God’s truth!”
  • Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free – “Pure is a powerful wake-up call about our society’s subjugation of women.”

Books* don’t get to these prominent places unless someone buys them. Lots of someones.

People (women) want to read these books, are reading them, and feel a need for them. Why?

Our culture is telling women and girls to achieve, to be their best selves, to chase their dreams, to roar. And yet, lots of women are obviously feeling beaten down, surrounded, inadequate, injured, and tarnished.

Why?

Bible: “She is Clothed with Dignity and Strength”

Is Girl Power Hurting Us? — Kimia Wood

This is my mom. She is one powerful lady.

In total, we had ten little kids in our house (not all at once, but over time). Toddlers are like all the annoying parts of humanity condensed into Toddlers challenge the best of us I hate tod

Little kids are a handful. Yet this powerful, patient woman poured all her kindness and caring into every single one of them.

Sure, there’s a #momlife hash-tag…but do we as a culture glorify the “getting up at two in the morning” part of parenting? The “pitched battle over a pile of peas” part? The “he spent three months of his life in the time-out chair” part?

Women aren’t strong in the same way men are.

And that’s okay. In fact, it’s awesome.

One of the worst things the transgender movement does (apart from enabling stalkers) is teach kids to be uncomfortable in their own bodies.

It’s okay to love the body you were born in. It’s OKAY to like being a girl!

We should be telling girls, “Yes, you feel uncomfortable. It’s called puberty. Everyone feels it, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Instead, we’re telling them, “Hey, maybe you’re really a boy in a girl’s body! We need to permanently alter your body chemistry and ruin your potential to bear children! Be ashamed of your boobs and your long hair because obviously the universe got you wrong!

“Oh, and by the way, Wash Your Face!”

Girls can be strong. Just not necessarily the same “strong” as boys. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s healthy.

Bible: Your Daughters Will Be Pillars in the House of Our God

Is Girl Power Hurting Us? — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Unsplash

Women are built to be nurturing, empathetic, bonding, supportive.

I’ve already talked about what men should be – and all the reasons I’m a patriarchist – but just for now let’s focus on the girls.

Women are sustainers. They’re the glue that holds families (and hence society) together…and keeps those wild, impulsive, world-changing men from killing themselves by accident.

I am a lioness. I do not lead the pride — I only hunt the food for my cubs. There’s a reason the man is the king.

But how can we expect them to do their jobs when we’re not doing ours? God calls us to quiet submission…which inspires our menfolk in ways we could never understand.

Without the pillars, the building collapses. We can’t all be the flashy frieze on the roof-line. We can’t all be the foundation and floor. And if a pillar tried to be the floor…well, “falling down on the job” is a cheap shot.

Modern culture wants women to shamelessly pursue their own desires…at everyone else’s expense.

But that’s not how women were designed. That’s not how any of us were designed.

Don’t just blame the girls for this…as a civilization (as a species?) we are convinced that the only good is whatever “I” want, and that whoever denies me what I want is wrong.

We tell women to distance themselves from relationships that hold them back, to get rid of “negative” thoughts, and to lay aside their shame. That if they had an extra layer of confidence, they could protect their self-esteem from the unrealistic expectations of the world and be happy.

But while the culture and the media are screaming, “I am woman, hear me roar!” all the women and girls are curled up in the corner having a panic attack.

Solution: Solve for X

How do we fix this? What can we do?

If your car is broken, you call a mechanic. If your sink or your A/C is broken, you call a plumber or a technician.

When your human is broken…open up the Manual!

The very fact that these books are selling so well is a hint that we feel a need. We feel broken. What we’re trying isn’t working.

We want to choose who we are…to define for ourselves what it means to be a “woman.” Trust me, we’ve been doing this since about Chapter 3…and it doesn’t work. Never has, never will. So let’s try something else – something that’s not “girl power.”

You can read thematic Bible studies if you want (as some of the books mentioned above bill themselves), but I prefer to cut out the middle men and the artificial preservatives. Just give me the straight-up, organic, gluten-free Bible!

Do it. Now.

Stop reading this meandering, totally anecdote-based, highly unscientific blog post and go read your Bible! You’ll be surprised how direct God is about who He wants you to be.

Like so many things, change starts with a hard look at yourself. Feel ashamed of your past? Trapped by your relationships? Impotent to pursue your dreams?

Start right here.Is Girl Power Hurting Us? — Kimia WoodBy building a wooden cross By asking Jesus for help.

Once we have the foundation, we can set up the pillars in their proper place. The solution isn’t always to punch through things…sometimes we need to reevaluate our strategy completely!

Only once we know what it truly means to be a woman will we know how to “achieve our full potential.” And that comes from asking the Guy who invented women!

Let me end with a quote from prolific Christian writer C.S. Lewis:

“Don’t you remember on earth — there were things too hot to touch with your finger but you could drink them all right? Shame is like that. If you will accept it – if you will drink the cup to the bottom – you will find it very nourishing: but try to do anything else with it and it scalds.” (The Great Divorce)


* Retweet is not endorsement – but to make sure we’re clear: I have not read any of the six books in this list, so cannot recommend or give a judgement on any of them. They are merely to illustrate the point that a lot of the “inspirational” best-sellers are aimed at helping women feel better about themselves…which prompts the question, “What’s tearing them down?”

I can, however, highly recommend Lewis’ Great Divorce. All these years later, it still drives to the heart of human nature. Read it now (after your Bible, of course)!


Is Girl Power Hurting Us? — Kimia WoodKimia Wood lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family…including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.

She’s bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures! You’ll also get a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier.

Dear Diary….shadows of evil

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

Ezekiel and Lydia pooled their money together and bought the Phylactery of Freedom from Paralysis back from the Chapel of St. Cuthbert. Ezekiel says if he’s going to risk going up to undead to hit them, he’d better have some protection…and I think that’s smart thinking.

I paid Heiron his salary for the month. I was kind of worried that maybe there was an extra month in there we owed him for, but he said he didn’t remember counting that.

Wonillon was waiting for us when we got back. He hasn’t said whether he found any action while we were gone, but he’s game to go back to the Temple with us.

Heading out first thing in the morning.

****

24 Readying

Quiet night at the campsite. Reached the Temple about midday.

Everything seemed quiet in the nave, or main floor, of the Temple, and we took our time to look around, since last time we just kited down the stairs as fast as we could.

The main, center hall of the Temple has an altar that might be made of crystal, though I’m not sure. There’s a well a few yards beyond it, and in the top is a hollowed out indent with a human shape – limbs splayed. I think it’s stained with something dark, and it makes me upset to look at.

There were broken crystal vessels around it and a crystal knife – all bearing the marks of destruction.

The two “wings” branch off from the center hall to east and west (where the staircases are), and in the north-west angle we found a door to a vestry.

Not much in the vestry except the remains of a bonfire – wood and cloth – and a pile of robes that were probably ivory once…but someone’s been using them as a latrine too long for them to be recognizable.

Past the crystal altar, the floor tiles change color again, and a wide staircase leads down. The steps are grey with flecks of color, and there’s a stone railing at the far end has alternating supports – white, blue, green – topped with a red rail or cap. It’s organized enough I think it must mean something…but it’s hard to say what.

When we went down the stairs eventually (once we were done with the ground floor) they ended in a landing in front of doors…doors with runes or something, but none of us are sure what, because we couldn’t stand to look at them. Even Ezekiel went toward them and then turned around with a shiver.

Something very bad is beyond there, I think.

Anyway, the central hall continues past the stairs, and there’s a huge bronze caldron or something in the middle of the floor. It has feet that raise it a foot above the floor – and, as Raven says, they could drop me right in it without hitting my head (which is not funny).

The bottom still has charcoal in it, although it’s impossible to tell how old they are. The bronze chains hanging above it, though, are old enough that only one of them remains…the others are just corroded rings. And the edge of the caldron is dented, as though someone went at it with a hammer or ax.

The end of the main hall has a dais, complete with throne – and there’s a door in the east wall covered with ugly pictures (although someone had hacked most of them so you couldn’t tell what the whole thing was).

Inside must have been a dining room or party room…there were couches and barrels everywhere…skeletons of humans (and other things?) were piled around, very messy.

Raven found a tattered red robe on the floor, but it was kind of stained and icky.

While Ezekiel checked out the couches (good thing for him he didn’t catch another disease!) I inspected a woodpile in the corner and found two crimson robes in good condition.

Well, at least they looked wearable, but I wouldn’t want to go around with skulls embroidered all over my clothes, and I’m not sure the crimson and lavender really went together.

Anyway, someone will probably pay us for them, so we’ll take them along.

Finished with that room, the only thing left on the ground floor was the dais. There are four obsidian steps that lead up to the platform, and the semi-circular wall behind is basalt (as far as I could tell).

There’s a saying carved in it – in Common, so they wanted everyone to understand it:

“The power of elemental death brings mortals low but raises the nameless one high.”

Ezekiel and I couldn’t agree who the “nameless one” would be, but neither of us like the idea of an Bad Guy getting power from the death of innocents.

The dais itself had huge tiles of different colors, and I’m sure they meant something, though I’m not sure what.

[sketch]

Ezekiel and Yeti ventured out onto the floor – until Raven warned them that one of the tiles was trapped, and they went another way.

Ezekiel made it up to the throne – he says it’s basalt, and carved with grinning skulls and demon faces.

He says there was no sign of a hidden compartment or anything…and what’s more, it had no scratches or signs of damage – not even after he whacked it with his mace.

No doubt about it, that throne is up to something.

But we had no idea what, so the only thing left was to head down to the second level of the dungeon.

Ezekiel and Yeti borrowed my map again, and we snaked through the corridors…so much easier to do that when all the guards are dead. We didn’t even run into any ghouls, which is nice (though Ezekiel might not agree).

We headed to the spiral staircase Raven found – a ten foot stair in a twenty foot tube. I guess when you hire ogres, you’ve got to build your evil temple plenty big.

We reached the bottom, and found two passages splitting off. We headed south-west (Yeti and Wonillon both confirmed this for me) and not far down the passage we spotted a room.

The only light was ours, and by it we saw a stony minotaur, seated, in front of a small pool of some kind. There were murals on the walls – new initiates, we think, getting the tour of the Temple’s “pleasures.”

Ezekiel stepped forward into the room – and the minotaur jumped up and smacked him with a flail.

I had an arrow ready, as always, so I speared the creature right in his bull-ish nose.

Yeti threw his hammer, Mikael waved his hand and cast faery fire…and Heiron and Raven fired missiles into the blackness around the minotaur (Raven bought a stock of javelins, so he’s trying them out).

I missed my next few shots, but the minotaur was busy pulled the arrow out of his nose – and by then Yeti’s hammer had gotten back to him, and he threw it again – smashing the minotaur to the floor in a pile of gak.

By then it was pretty obvious it wasn’t really a statue – though it was wearing leather armor dirtied to resemble stone. (Heiron told me he was so surprised to see it move that he forgot about his stance, and that must be why he missed all his shots. At least he’s learned one important lesson: making weak excuses for your bad performance.)

Raven found a crack in a javelin he threw, but hopes he can repair it.

Wonillon dug around under the minotaur’s throne, and found a bag of thirteen agates – plus a scroll that says “protection from all elements.” Pretty cool! Mikael is hanging on to it, in case of need.

There is a corridor leading out of the room to the south, but everyone checked for secret passages anyway…everyone except me, because I’ve learned how bad I am at that.

Mikael even asked Corby to look for secret passages, and she flapped right over to the east wall and scrabbled at it with her claws.

Wonillon and Raven both checked it for traps, but couldn’t find any.

We readied our weapons (Lydia pulled out an egg) and then Yeti and Ezekiel found a trap when they opened the door and a big ol’ beam covered in spikes swung down and knocked them on their butts.

In the room beyond, we spotted men in armor – and, assuming they weren’t captured prisoners – Heiron and I both launched arrows (although this time I missed, and he got the guy in the throat).

Wonillon leaped over our party leader, into the next room, and knifed a guy. Heiron shot another one. Raven leaped forward, and at Mikael’s command Corby and Cuddles swarmed through the door.

I checked my stance and took my shots, taking a guy down (he looked like a commander or something, though I could be wrong).

I caught a glimpse of Cuddles biting someone – and then the guard turned grey and went limp. I’m so glad Cuddles is on our side.


Find the previous entry here.

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More Lessons From Dogs

Dogs aren’t just cute, devoted, warm, and fuzzy. They teach us important things about God…and ourselves. We may just be dogs in Jesus’ pack…but He’s the best Alpha ever!

All Dogs Are Just Dogs

More Lessons from Dogs — Kimia WoodAll dogs sniff butts. They all will eat “goat fudge” if they get the chance, and will check out their own vomit to see if there’s anything that deserves a second chance.

You can’t blame them…they’re just dogs.

You collies and labs, don’t pretend you’re better than the hound.

It’s fun to think how much better you are than the other dogs…how well you heel, and sit, and stay…how well you listen to Alpha.

But in the end, you’re just a dog. Don’t pretend your mess smells any better than theirs…Alpha still puts it in a scoop bag and throws it away. That’s what it’s like to be a dog.

The good news is, Alpha also plays with you and scratches your ears and gives you dinner just like all His other dogs.

So be happy…and don’t act like you’re more Alpha’s dog than another of the Pack. Continue reading

Dear Diary….the drama of Ezekiel (and Lydia)

Lydia and Yeti worked together to sell our magic items. She brought me a huge pile of gold and gems for everybody’s shares, then disappeared, saying something about a “question” for Master Bern.

She did admit to selling the wand of paralyzation and the stockpile of reagents we found in the Temple – she says the pile she gave me is the shares for the rest of us – but she wanted enough liquid cash for some reagents and parchments Master Bern has.

Anyway, she’s off, and so are Ezekiel (to the chapel) and Raven (to the tower…there’s a monk master there).

Mikael is teaching Corby and Cuddles some new tricks, but he won’t let us see until they really have them down.

Which works out, because Heiron asked me to show him how I do “that thing with my sword,” so he can “be even more help for you, Master” (which I’ve never been called before – it’s new and different) and Yeti and I are showing him drills until we find the right “thing” he’s thinking of. We’re also doing push-ups and laps and practicing forms because Father always said that built character (although it didn’t work on Reginald for some reason). If Heiron gets good enough, he could use my spare sword I’ve been storing at the inn, now that I have my magic one. We’ll see what the others think.

****

We all had dinner together again. Lydia came in with her eyes all smug and smiling, and said she now knows “Fireball.” Will have to be extra careful not to annoy her.

Ezekiel announced he wants to hit undead with his mace, since he thinks it’ll help his mace do something-something-or-other – he still can’t speak a whole sentence without catching his breath.

He also says that the “heavens won’t let” him be cured except by some paladin lady named Aliana Glimmersky. Mikael said something about star-crossed lovers, and Lydia and Raven started humming a song I didn’t think a monk would know.

Anyway, he says this is the same elf lady we met passing through Homlette earlier, which means Mikael knows her (or at least has seen her), so he should be able to cast Reflecting Pool to try to figure out where she is.

(They tried to explain how it all works, but…you know…)

Mikael will pray to Obed-Hai for that in the morning.

****

Well, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as I was hoping. We couldn’t even see anything – only Mikael could. Though Master Geru did allow us into the grove so we could watch Mikael use one of the pools of water there…

Mikael said the words, and waved his hands, and stared down into the water.

He said he saw a lady in plate-mail – with towers behind her – and trees, like she was in a garden. (He also said, “So says the pool” – maybe that’s part of the druid stuff?)

He waved his hands and started describing all the trees and plants – but we realized it’d be more meaningful to describe the actual buildings, so then he talked about the walls he could see in the background and the angle of the towers.

Lydia gasped and said it’s the terrace of the Temple of Heironius in Greyhawk…so I guess that’s where we’re going. (So says the pool.)

Master Osler says he’ll keep our trunk safe in his storeroom, which is nice of him. Wonillon says he has no pressing desire to see Greyhawk, and he’ll wait in Hommlet to see if there’s any action here.

The money-changer also heard that we’re making a trip, and asked us to deliver a strongbox to somebody in Greyhawk. That means we’re responsible, so I really hope the journey is quiet. Master Osler has found a caravan heading that way, so we should be able to travel with them.

****

Reached Verbobanc with no trouble. We left as many horses as we could, so a bunch of us are riding in the cart. It’s a bit awkward trying to not sit on Cuddles, though I guess his spine is strong enough to take it.

Even with the collar Mikael got for him, most people aren’t used to seeing a giant snake riding through town. We have to take a boat up the river, and although the boat master didn’t give us trouble, I think his crew will be nervous to have Cuddles aboard. We’ll have to discuss whether they’ll let him into the city…and what to do about that.

****

Fireseek 26.

My birthday! Can’t believe I’m twenty now.

Raven baked me a cheese cake, and no one tossed me in the river. Sure is nice to be a grown up sometimes.

****

Crazy long day.

We talked about leaving Cuddles at one of the druid groves we passed coming up-river, but in the end decided to see how the sentries took it at the gate of Greyhawk.

The city is definitely very big. As we approached the gate, Lydia told us there would be beggars just inside, and that we had to pay them the right amount – too little, and they would tell the Thieves’ Guild to rob us…too much, and they’d think we were rich, and they’d tell the Thieves’ Guild to rob us.

She says she used to be part of the Beggar’s Guild, after her parents died, until the “Trash Master” burned her face and she left.

We just better not meet him, that’s all.

She wrapped her face up tight as we came to the gate, but most of the guards and people hanging around were busy with another party.

I guess they were adventurers or something? They were five ladies, and only one of them looked like she was really ready to face dangers. The others looked more like they were ready to…dance for money or something. Their weapons were all covered with embellishments and decorative spikes that would be a pain to clean guts from. Oh, and one of them kept saying, “I’m a barbarian!” to everyone, even if they weren’t listening.

I don’t know if they intended to draw everybody’s attention like that, but it worked out for us.

We still had to pay to get our weapons into the city, though. They wouldn’t let Raven have his spear at all, but said they would hold it for him here until we come back. So we decided to let Cuddles stay with the spear – I guess Mikael just fed him a goblin or wild boar or something, and he won’t need to eat any more for a while.

The guards handed out licenses for our long-swords, and for Yeti and Ezekiel’s blunt weapons, and they ordered us not to scry or fight in the city or there would be severe consequences.

I’ve never heard of this kind of thing before…although I guess it’s good that they’ve outlawed Evil temples. Still, I don’t like things that are unusual.

Lydia told us where to go and what to do — she helped us find the address we needed to drop off the strongbox, and then took us to another gate that led to the Temple of Heironius.

The guards seemed very suspicious, and asked us wouldn’t we like to visit the temple of Rau instead, but no, we needed the temple of Heironius.

So they looked at our licenses and let us through (without making us pay again thank goodness!) and we made it to the temple of Heironius.

Well, I’d been developing a bad feeling, since we’d been on the road for almost two weeks since Mikael first looked for the lady in the pool.

A couple soldiers with battle-axes (did they have to pay for those, eh?!) came down the steps to talk to us, so we dragged Ezekiel out of the back of the cart and he asked them about the princess Aliana Glimmersky.

And they said she wasn’t there, and they didn’t expect her to return.

So I did call it…but we couldn’t just give up after all that.

Ezekiel bowed and waved and told them to “be glorious” (they seemed to like that) and we asked Lydia where the princess was likely to be.

She suggested an inn, and we headed there…but when we came back out the gate, she told Raven to go up to a guy loitering and pay him five gold pieces to find out where our lady was.

He did, and the guy left, and we went on through another gate (Raven says he asked the guy to recommend a good inn or something, but the guy didn’t want to say).

The Green Dragon Inn is near the wall between the “Garden District” and the “River District.” Lydia said they wouldn’t rob us, and I guess that’s technically true, though I was getting really low on cash after supper. Raven says it was worth it.

Night was falling by the time a ragged man swung over the railing of the patio and came up to Raven. He said, “White Horse Inn,” and left after Raven paid him, too.

Well, we decided we’d better get there before she left again, so we headed out – even though traveling at night made me really nervous.

We hadn’t gone far before a squad in leather armor blocked the way and argued with Mikael about carrying a bird around. So he told Corby to fly off, and she left.

Then the leader guy started yelling at us about loitering (yes, he had a badge, but I wouldn’t think it was real if Lydia didn’t tell me it was) until somebody threw some silver coins at him, and Ezekiel told him we could stop loitering if he got out of the way, so they finally did so we could move along.

The White Horse seems decent enough, and we recognized some of the people from our caravan in the common room. (Raven said the food looked simple, though plentiful…but of course we had just eaten.)

I made Ezekiel ask the barmaid about the lady, and she pointed out a blonde elf lady in the corner – though she looked different than the little I remembered, and was wearing just plain steel armor.

She also looked like she didn’t want company at her table, so I let Ezekiel go over to her alone and the rest of us found a table somewhere else.

They talked for a little bit, and she seemed to be the right lady (thank goodness, after coming all the way here).

Then came the next wrinkle.

Ezekiel called Mikael over, and asked him if he had a healing spell he could use on Lady Glimmersky. She had a big bruise and a semi-circular cut on her cheek.

Between what I picked up from her, and the bits Ezekiel said to fill in the gaps, I gather that she was questioning a brigand (about the kidnapping of the Prince of Furiundy, I believe) and lost her temper…and killed the entire band.

Then “Heironius left her” or something, and her warhorse attacked her, and she had to kill the horse to save her own life (like Mikael and Corby having a fight to the death!).

She said she couldn’t heal her own face, let alone help Ezekiel…not when she wasn’t a paladin anymore.

Ezekiel said it wasn’t a “paladin” he needed (I mean, Yeti was a paladin, and that wasn’t good enough)…but that he understood a little about the power of the divine flowing through the servant, and so would she try to cure his disease anyway?

Well, she put her hand out, and Ezekiel coughed a bit, and then he could talk with his normal voice.

He called us all over and we got a round of drinks and he told us his story. I think he’d told us before – Mikael and me, at least – a while back…but I might have been too young back then to be a good listener.

Ezekiel the Cleric with Self-Image Issues

He says he was an acolyte – a man-at-arms – in the service of Heironius (he told us the name of the fort, but I’ve never been there) when a strange traveller appeared. The traveller was apparently from somewhere called Torrel (Lady Glimmersky seemed to know what this was – it’s like a different plane or world or something) and Ezekiel had the job of taking care of him.

It’s this traveller that told Ezekiel about the “God of gods,” Ao, the deity in charge of heaven, so to speak. Ezekiel decided to follow this god because, as he says, he was intrigued by the idea of a being who didn’t need worship, but just deserved it…who was “truly worthy” of honor and reverence.

He also says he was a “foolish child” at the time…

But he’s obviously worshiping Someone Good, with how powerful he is against undead. You can’t pretend there’s nothing to it – not anymore, anyway. Sure he doesn’t get spells, but it’s not like I ever get spells, and no one would expect me to, either. I don’t even ask for them.

Ezekiel says the last thing he wants is to convert someone else – or, as he put it, to make another child of Heironius betray their vows and abandon the Glorious Host – (though again, if this God really deserves worship like Ez says…don’t you think Heironius would be cool with it?) – but what he did tell the lady is, “Just because Heironius won’t take you back doesn’t mean you’re done; you’ve been given power by Someone, so maybe it’s time to seek a new direction.”

Lady Aliana said she would think about it – and that she needs a new sword – and then she left.

I’m just glad Ezekiel finally got the mold out of his lungs, after all that. He kind of laughed and said, well, of course the mold in his lungs wasn’t about the mold in his lungs – there was more going on.

So far, Obed-Hai has never turned down Mikael’s request for a spell. We would never expect it. I didn’t even think about someone like Yeti losing that “thing” that makes him a paladin.

It makes you think. Everything I have is a gift from Ehlonna…or someone else. Makes sense to pay attention to where you got those gifts…

Like when Father took away Gerkin’s horse because he was galloping around town and making a nuisance of himself and coming in after the house was already locked up.

****

Well, no one was kidnapped, murdered, or robbed during the night, so I call that a win.

The Lady Aliana told Ezekiel about a “temple of Ao” in a street near the inn, so he had to check that out before we left.

It looked like a small house, except there was a bas-relief on the front of some kind of face – like the face of Rau, except it had fish surrounding it like sun-beams.

The high priest greeted us (as far as I could tell, he was the only priest) and waved his hands and arms in a funny way and said some words that Ezekiel might have recognized, though none of us understood what they meant.

The priest told us that was a greeting from Abr’Torrel, and that since Ao is a god of Abr’Torrel, that’s what they do.

He took us into the next room (although he said Corby had to stay outside, so Mikael told her to fly around a bit) and there was another bas-relief there (Ezekiel and Raven bowed to it).

The priest said the man who taught him is now dead, but the chapel was founded by some cleric from Celene – also now dead – and it was conversations with this cleric that inspired the sacred writings of Ao.

Ezekiel really wanted to read these writings (he was trying to figure out why fish were such a big part of their iconography, when his holy symbol was a sheep) so Raven decided to visit a temple of Merikka that Lydia had told him about.

I went with him, since Merikka and Ehlonna are probably friends, if not related – and Heiron came with us (and it’s totally not creepy the way he’s imitating how I walk and hold my arms in relation to my sword and stuff. On the bright side, he looks very big and beefy, which means casual ruffians are more likely to feel we’re not worth the effort when he’s around).

The temple of Merikka is small, but very nice – they have a small display of last year’s harvest, as a token of faith that Merikka will give another harvest next year – and Raven donated a bunch of money (and cheese) to further their work. I think they take bread to starving families or something, so that will be a help. (He had a nice long conversation with the cleric on duty, so he felt confident this was a “normal” temple, worshiping as it should.)

The others caught up with us with the wagon. Lydia says the high priest of Ao is crazier than Ezekiel is…and here all this time I thought the high priest of Ao was Ezekiel.

Mikael looked like he was just recovering from a laugh, and said those “fishy” people didn’t seem to be following a god at all.

You might think Ezekiel would be disturbed by all this, but he seems to be taking it in stride. He says he got to the “fourth epistle” – where some yoo-hoo was “theorizing” about the nature of Ao, and came to the conclusion that “of course” the face with the fish around it was what Ao had to look like – before giving up.

The high priest wouldn’t let him copy any of the scrolls (said Ez had to be at least “level three” – while being shocked that Ez could turn undead. What do these “clerics” do even?) but maybe that’s just as well.

(Mikael says he’s glad he didn’t bow to the fish-face after all. Raven says, “Ao knows my heart,” and he was just being polite, as a visitor. Maybe there’s a difference between Evil and Just Loopy.)

We left by the nearest gate and followed the road around to pick up Raven’s spear and Cuddles. A little inquiry at the dock found us a boat heading down the river, so we can start our journey “home.”

For a whirlwind tour of the famous city Greyhawk, I’m satisfied that we got what we came for without being fleeced too badly. Whatever else is happening is, as Ez says, “above our pay-grade” (although Heiron is the only one guaranteed to get paid, so I’m not sure exactly what he means…).

****

Had to get off the boat because Luna is full and Mikael insists he needs mistletoe right now.

Can’t complain, though…the weather has been decent, and the druids in the nearby grove are more friendly than a lot of them. Also Cuddles was getting hungry, and I like having all my fingers and toes.

Drilling the upper-cut with Heiron.

****

Back in Homlette, safe and sound, the 23rd of Readying. Raven is in charge of getting rations together (since he’s the pickiest about food) and we’ll send Heiron with him to help carry.

Raven has also been talking privately with Lydia. I guess we’re all working on strategy…since as soon as we’re ready, we head to the second level of the Evil Temple.

Ezekiel reminded us he’s going to try hitting undead with his mace, and so to be prepared to stand back. I’m not entirely comfortable with this, since the only good undead is an undead reduced to piles of dust…but what are you going to do?

I have been given the skill of poking things with holes until they fall over. I can’t make wounds knit together or light my hands on fire or scare dead things with my face. So I do what I can do…and be thankful for what I’m given.


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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3 Reasons To Avoid the Cloud

Everybody wants you to embrace the “cloud” — streaming your movies and music, storing your files on a cloud service, buying software and video games that “dial in” to a server in order to work, and more.

The idea is that all or part of the digital product you use is stored on the company’s servers. You have to connect to their computers to use the program, play the game, watch the movie, or whatever.

Maybe you love the connectedness, and how you can get whatever you want on any device. Or can you?

Here are three reasons I think this trend is dangerous, and why I’m working to avoid the “cloud”:

1) Internet is Never 100%

3 Reasons to Avoid the Cloud — Kimia Wood

Internet connectivity; Image credit: BusinessInsider.com

I live in the heart of the US of A, and the internet is not constant. Sometimes it goes down for no reason.

Our internet provider just sent us a new modem, so it’s been better for the last few days. But it still gets hung up on my YouTube videos sometimes.

My parents thought about buying a house where, because of the terrain and the location of providers, it was a dead zone for internet.

And that’s not even talking about the rest of the world.

Continue reading

Dear Diary….the mysterious and the truly creepy

Mikael reminded us that he has stone-shape prepared, and we remembered that I have the Ring of Warmth, and so with those two things we returned to the warded door in the far corner. I wasn’t sure if the ring would help that much, but it was worth a try.

Wearing the ring, Mikael smeared his clay on the walls around the doorframe and said his casting words.

The stone walls seemed to melt away, and the door fell forward with a bang – Mikael jumped out of the way just in time, his fingers coated in frost…but after hugging himself and blowing on them for a minute, we decided they weren’t going to fall off.

Inside, we saw two rows of sarcophagi. Ezekiel insisted we had to investigate to make sure this wasn’t a vampire lair, and even though I was not at all excited to fight a vampire, he took Yeti with him inside while the rest of us held the door.

No sooner had the disappeared from sight than a few ghouls came around the corner and decided to advance. I shot one in the shoulder while yelling for Ezekiel, and he came out and brushed them away with his sheep symbol.

I see Lydia’s mind was working, since she had her silver shavings ready for Protection from Evil, but she went ahead and saved it for next time.

Ezekiel went back inside and started ripping the stone covers off the coffins and rummaging through them. He touched his magic mace to each body he found, but from what they tell me the desiccated husks didn’t react – which is what a normal corpse would do.

We assume these are the high priests of the various temples, buried in state…though from the state of decay on them all, I can’t help wondering how long this place has been running?! Are they all from ten years ago and more?

He did take a bronze ring with a jet triangle from each body – sort of their club insignia – though in retrospect I wonder if it was worth it?

He had moved to the second row in the first chamber, when he pulled off a lid and a cloud of dust or something billowed up in his face (according to Yeti).

Ezekiel coughed some, but kept digging through the coffin, and found that the corpse’s cloak looked in pretty good condition, even though the robe the guy was wearing was all threadbare and turned to dust with age.

So they took the cloak and tossed it to us to put in the bag of holding.

There was a second chamber, and even though Ez was panting a lot, he wanted to search the row of coffins there.

A party of gnolls had passed by earlier – they squeaked and scampered away when they saw us – so when I heard another sound I thought it might be more of the same.

But…it…was…not.

At first it just looked like a wall…but it was dead bodies – pinned in horrible, confusing positions – upside down, sideways, flopping nonsensically – and sliding toward us. From wall to wall, floor to ceiling – I can only assume there were about forty-four of them, but I had no intention of waiting to count.

I yelled for Ezekiel, and he raced out – dropping to the ground and wheezing as soon as he arrived.

Yeti came into the hall a moment or two later, while Ezekiel raised his sheep symbol and scolded the thing in a gaspy voice.

But nothing happened.

Raven kind of went “Aha” and said he thought it was slow enough we could make it back to the crossroads and retreat down the other passage.

Heiron obviously didn’t like the sight of glassy-eyed, pale and shriveled corpses scraping the walls toward us – and, of course, neither did I.

So we hurried forward to get to the junction before it did – Ezekiel wheezing like an old man the whole time – while Lydia dug a flask of oil out of her pack.

When we turned the corner at the intersection, she doused the floor in oil, and Raven grabbed one of the torches from the wall (high quality torches, if they haven’t gone out yet).

The rest of us kept retreating while Raven kept an eye on the monstrosity (since he’s the fastest) until the time came to light the oil.

The rest of us had rounded a turn in the passage by then, but I could see Raven hovering at the corner, watching a dim firelight while strange popping noises came from around the corner.

Then – we assume that if the thing gathered up the dead bodies, it sucked up the barrel of oil, too – there was a muffled, bubbly “bang,” and fire erupted around the corner.

Raven appeared, walking slowly toward us while his clothes billowed with the rush of hot air (and possibly slime)…his head down so that his eyes were shadowed. Flames of fire danced around his head like tossing hair (and he’s probably glad he didn’t have any of that).

After that, we all had to catch our breaths – though Ezekiel couldn’t, even after Yeti put his hands on him and mumbled something about “cure disease.” Mikael even tried Cure Poison, and nothing seemed to change.

Lydia covered his nose, and Raven and I took a peek at our enemy. The whole corridor was coated in slime and dead bodies, with a chunk of gelatin or something here and there. Raven says the thing was a “gelatinous cube” — the leather armor seems to have been eaten away to where it won’t be much good anymore.

(That’s what I get for being so untidy! From now on, I should really clean up my bodies.)

The others were discussing what to do – meaning Ezekiel said, gasping every other word, that he wanted to finish with the crypt (there were four or five coffins still unopened) and the others were looking between his labored breathing, and the sticky, smelly mess of the gelly.

Heiron stepped forward out of nowhere, his face kind of white, and asked Ezekiel for the mace. He screwed up his face as he took it, and asked Yeti to help him “finish the job.”

Ezekiel sat against the wall and coughed, while Mikael told him he probably has mold in his lungs.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t embarrassed that Heiron would do something I wouldn’t, and I’m not going to say I wasn’t impressed that he’s one of us enough to take these things on himself…but I will say there are things that one is suited for, and other things one is not suited for, and I’m working on knowing my own limitations.

And walking through the gooey bodies to investigate a crypt while Ezekiel keeps coughing was not something I’m suited for.

They weren’t gone long at all – though when they came back Heiron was hacking and wheezing.

As we made our way toward the entrance, Lydia borrowed a jar of the Keoghtom’s Ointment, smeared some on her finger, and made Heiron lick her finger (nerve-wracking at the best of times, but he couldn’t really refuse, could he).

By the time we passed through the augury chamber and into the corridor that leads to the front, he had stopped coughing and seemed perfectly recovered.

So we made Ezekiel try some…but it didn’t work on him or something.

We’re pretty sure it’s not a curse connected with the cloak – since both Raven and I touched it to put it in the bag of holding – which is good I guess, but it’s still frustrating that nothing seems to work.

Just at the foot of the stairs, we were attacked by three ghasts. They came charging down at us, and while I nailed one before they reached us, I can’t quite drop one in a single hit. Maybe not actually needing their lungs and throats for breathing is a factor.

A couple of them clawed at Yeti while another one bit Ezekiel (fortunately he didn’t stiffen up and drop his weapon like Yeti did) – but Mikael and I got some good blows in, and then Ezekiel got his sheep symbol out, coughed into it, and waved it at the enemy.

They didn’t shriek, and they didn’t turn any paler, but they did drop their mouths open and stretch their eyes wider in horror.

Heiron landed a shot before they started to retreat, and Simba charged forward and clawed one before it got away completely (he stiffened up and fell to the ground for his trouble, though).

Wonillon tried to knife a ghast as he fled past him, but they all got away and ran up the stairs (for not being technically alive, they move pretty fast).

Under other circumstances, we might have been more interested in chasing them…but no one except Raven was really in a position to catch them. Besides, Ezekiel could only get up a few steps before he had to lean against the wall and catch his breath.

We got out of the Temple all right, and found the horses doing just fine. We bundled Ezekiel into the cart (and Cuddles, who says it’s way too cold out here) and made it to the campsite without any trouble.

Lydia tells us the cloak is indeed magic, but that’s all she knows.

Mikael says there’s “not enough nature” in it for him to tell what it is or something. (I guess that means it wasn’t spun by spiders or woven straight from plant fibers or something?) (He’s also grumpy that Luna is waning, so he missed his chance at full-moon mistletoe.)

When Ezekiel talks too much, he gets light-headed with trying to breathe.

I don’t like it.

****

Got into Homlette mid-afternoon, no trouble. Yeti and Raven volunteered to take Ezekiel to the chapel of St. Cuthbert to see what could be done, while the rest of us took the luggage to the Welcome Wench (and pampered the horses).

Master Osler’s stable hand was kind of shaken to see Cuddles, but in the end we got him a place in a stall with Syphon (Yeti’s horse, who’s smart enough to understand he and Cuddles are on the same team, so is cool with it).

We took the treasure up to our room and counted it all out – though of course we’ll have to get the gems and other valuables officially appraised.

(Reminder to self: PAY HEIRON…he really earned it.)

When the others came back, Ezekiel was still wheezing to make it up the stairs. Ez says Canon Turjon tried a “Cure Disease” spell with no effect, so he’ll have to go back tomorrow after he’s had a chance to inquire of his deity.

(Raven says the Canon was kinda grumpy that they didn’t tell him Yeti tried Cure Disease, too.)

The good news is we have some kind of account in town, on Sir Rufus’ orders, so that even if we can’t change all our treasure in liquid funds right away, people will work with us. Ezekiel also says that we’ll get the full attention of whatever experts we need at the tower, so we can learn as much as possible in as short a time as possible and then get back into the war.

Raven says he heard there’s a monk master or something staying at the tower as an advisor or something, and he wants to go ask him some questions. Mikael says he’s got some questions for Druid Master Geru.

Ezekiel seems eager to talk with Canon Turjon about his mace, but when he can barely eat chicken soup for coughing so much, I’m not sure he can do much talking.

I made him go to bed. When we were sick as kids, Mother always fed us chicken soup and made us go to bed early…but of course, she was also a Cleric of Ehlonna and kissed my big old bloody scratch from falling out of the tree back to normal.

We’re pretty sure the cloak is a Cloak of Protection, so Mikael gets to wear it (since he’s more often on the front lines than Lydia, and besides it goes with his outfit).

We don’t think we have a use for the magic morning star, magic ringmail, or magic mace (the other one that’s not Ezekiel’s), so Yeti can go get them appraised tomorrow.

The javelin of lightening, however, Raven wants to keep – since there’s a chance he’ll get to practice with javelins and might just figure out how to use it. Is this a good thing?

And now Ezekiel is talking in his sleep…still wheezing, of course.

Some days I just don’t know what to do.


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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3 Things Christians Say That Aren’t Biblical

3 Things Christians Say That Aren’t Biblical

“Of how many things can you be so certain that are not true?” — Major Hochstetter, Hogan’s Heroes

Christianity is super simple. God made it so that even little kids can understand it:

“Jesus (God’s Son) died for evil-doers – of whom I am the worst! But now He is alive again to make us like Him!”

See? Super simple. But I guess it’s like a classic novel, where you can know the basics by reading the Wikipedia article…but you’ll be missing a lot of details unless you actually read the real book.

Sometimes people in Christianity (even super smart people, like pastors) say things…but those things aren’t actually in the Bible.

Sometimes, those ideas are actually pretty silly…but everyone believes them because they’re “self-evident truths” of Christianity.

However, if we actually looked at the Bible, we’d see how silly and wrong they are.

Here are three of my favorite “things people say without realizing they’re not true.”

“Not even the Son knows – except now He does.”

3 Things Christians Say That Aren't Biblical — Kimia Wood

Image from Pixabay

Maybe this is just me, but I thought we were supposed to be suspicious when people read a verse of the Bible and then said, “But that’s not true today.”

If you’ve never heard this one, it goes like this:

We’re reading Matthew 24, about the “end of the age,” and Jesus says:

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (v. 36)

But then the pastor or whoever looks up at the audience and says, “But of course he knows now. Jesus gave up some of His divine knowledge and power while He was on earth, but now that He’s back in heaven He has all that…so He knows when He’s coming back.”

Maybe it’s just me…but I would not be arguing with Jesus, here.

Take a look at the broader context of this verse:

“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (vv. 34-36)

He just said that His words are more dependable than the earth itself. Why would you question Him and think that this statement is no longer true?

Here’s why: they don’t want Jesus to be subservient to the Father.

Some people are uncomfortable with God the Son not being perfectly equal to God the Father in absolutely everything…but that is the point, isn’t it? A son is supposed to be under his father. And God has revealed Themself to us as Father and Son (and Holy Spirit) for a reason.

Several passages of Scripture make it clear that the Father sent Jesus to die for our sins. In the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus was wrestling with the task ahead of Him, He very deliberately put Himself under the authority of the Father and committed Himself to do the Father’s will (the Holy Spirit also made very sure to let us know what Jesus said in that moment…if you recall, the disciples were a little sleepy to be taking notes).

Also check out 1 Corinthians 15:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (vv. 22-28)

Isn’t it beautiful? God is both over everything, and subject to someone greater (that is, Himself). Sort of like He’s “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26)!

You weren’t expecting all that from a verse on the end times, were you?!

“God the Father looked away from/abandoned Jesus on the cross.”

3 Things Christians Say That Aren't Biblical — Kimia Wood

Where does it say that?!

We could check out Matthew 27:46 —

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Or Mark 15:34 —

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

(say, it’s repeated twice…I wonder if it’s important?) but I’d like us to look at Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?


Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them. (vv. 1-4)

I…I’m choking up.

 

It’s like He’s saying, “I’m not distant! I’m right here, kids…right here!”

The crowd of gawkers didn’t understand, either — they thought he was calling the prophet Elijah to come help Him or something.

But no…I believe He was giving us the title of the psalm…to remind that this was planned from the time of David (who wrote the psalm) and beyond. To declare to the whole world this was His plan, and that He had not forsaken us!

Maybe you think this is all well and good, but the Father still totally turned His back on Jesus somehow on the cross.

Well, I say that is all well and good, but I’ve never heard any verse to back it up except the one above.

Apparently (I’ve only ever seen it quoted in something else) the Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “God died forsaken by God so that His people might claim God as their God and never be forsaken”.

That’s a cute, symmetrical catch-phrase that looks good on a plaque…but is it really based in the Bible?! It’s not what I see God actually telling us.

And when I ask why the Father turned His back on Jesus, they say:

“God can’t look at sin.”

3 Things Christians Say That Aren't Biblical — Kimia Wood

Image from Unsplash

And I want to know where that’s written.

Actually, God totally sees our wickedness (and it makes Him mad).

There is a verse where this is literally written…in Habakkuk 1:13—

You [speaking of God] who are of purer eyes than to see evil
and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?

Allow me to widen the lens so we can examine the broader context of this verse:

Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?

You make mankind like the fish of the sea,
like crawling things that have no ruler. (vv. 12-14)

The verses right before this are talking about the great army God is bringing to punish the Hebrews. Habakkuk complains that Israel is full of wickedness, and God seems to be sitting on His couch doing nothing while the bad guys commit injustice against men more righteous than themselves.

But this is not true: God is bringing the Chaldeans/Babylonians up to thrash Israel like a nation-sized spanking. So a “Kimia-translation” of the above passage might be:

I trust you, God. You won’t totally kill us (after all, You’re our firm Rock) — You’ve earmarked these Babylonians to be our punishment.

The Hebrews say You’re “too pure to look at evil”, and that that’s why you “don’t see” their back-stabbing and oppression…but they’re wrong.

You’re so big and mighty, men are like fish to You – and you will break us like stupid bugs.

(The following verses talk about how the wicked man is so stupid that when he gets a good catch with his fishing net, he turns around and worships the net. Gives you a new perspective on God’s great patience with us, huh?)

Speaking of patience, that’s why God hasn’t nuked His people yet. Because He’s patient.

Habakkuk (and several other prophets and passages) warns them: don’t think you’ve gotten away with robbing widows and orphans and cheating on your tithes because God doesn’t see you! No, He was giving you a chance to repent and give it up! But the bill comes due…always.

So the next time someone tells you that “God can’t look at sin,” remind them – that’s what the evil men say…to get out of obeying Him.

You might also recall that Jesus deliberately proved He couldn’t be made unclean by physical and spiritual uncleanliness (read Mark). So it doesn’t make sense to imagine God covering His eyes because the sight of our wickedness might taint Him.

TL;DR: Read Your Bible!

So the next time someone tells you something like “well duh this is true,” look in your Bible. If you don’t see it there – ask questions!

If they say, “Here, and here, and here” – look…and you’ll learn something!

But if they can’t back it up with the Bible…maybe the Holy Spirit is teaching them something! (Let Him do that, by the way…He doesn’t need you to do His job :} )

Any other things people take for granted that aren’t in God’s Word?

Do you have Scripture to support any of the things I’ve dismissed?! I have a comments section…


Featured image from ThisFragileTent

3 Things Christians Say That Aren't Biblical — Kimia WoodKimia was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family – including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend. She’s bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures! You’ll also get a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier!


Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Dear Diary….I am useful for various reasons

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

We returned to the hallway with all the dead bodies (still haven’t had time to put them somewhere out of the way!) and took the passage that slanted north-east. It connects up with the corridor that runs past the harpy room and the hexagonal throne room and those other places we explored on our very first trip here…as predicted by my map.

[brief sketch]

Ezekiel, however, was convinced that there must be something more here — that the angle of the junction was wrong or something, so there must be a secret door somewhere.

Even though he and Wonillon and Raven all looked for a door without finding it, Ez wouldn’t give up, and had Yeti hit the wall with his hammer. Sure enough, he found a section that rang hollow — and the two of them followed the passage behind until it ended. Yeti thinks, from the angles, that it probably leads to the library. He says it doesn’t feel like the floor slopes, so the passages should match up (and Wonillon said he was pretty tall to be able to tell that. Maybe when you’re closer to the ground, it’s easier to feel the ground? Yeti says it’s a gift from Ulaa).

This cult sure likes their secret passages…but I guess that makes sense, as it saves you steps in getting from here to there.

There were some rooms on the west end of the Temple we needed to fully explore (where Ezekiel and Yeti tried to chase down all those ghasts, and I was very nervous to be defending all our rescued prisoners without an undead-powerhouse).

On the way there, we passed through the corridor covered in bones – and Mikael reminded Ezekiel to keep his eyes on his surroundings, and to not get distracted by things on the ground like last time.

Apparently Ez was paying attention, because he noticed a crack or narrow doorway in the north wall – sort of across from the main passage to the south, and right in the middle of the bones.

It’s only about four feet by two feet, and seems to have sunk into the floor a bit (unless that’s part of the design). By hanging onto Raven and shining a light inside, Ez could tell us that there’s a deep shaft inside – so deep the light can’t reach the bottom. A narrow ledge spirals around the edge of the shaft – up and down – and it’s a good distance across, so Corby could probably fly in there if needed.

We have plenty of options for exploring it (Raven could climb the ledge, we could use the Rope of Climbing, Lydia could memorize some different spells) but we’re not ready to do that yet.

Wonder what it’s used for…a garbage disposal? Maybe it’s a secret access point from the Temple above to the lower levels? Ezekiel was amazed that we hadn’t seen the pit from upstairs, but after all, we didn’t really do much exploration up there…and besides, the top end might be hidden inside an altar or something.

We continued to the west end, past the prison, and into the room where Ez and Yeti gave up on the ghasts.

Just as they told us, there’s a hideous bas relief of some monstrous head – it looks like a flat-face on the front of a mushroom – plus a broken altar and lots of impish creatures drawn dancing around the walls.

There were no undead there, though.

We made our way through the three rooms to the north – double-checking that Ezekiel and Yeti found all the loot there (it very much stinks of ghoul)…and found a hole in the floor under a barrel that had some money in it.

Other than that, they seem to have found everything.

The altar room has a second door to the west. Beyond it is a long “corridor” that merges into a long, narrow room. It must have been a banquet room of some kind, with broken tables and trestles everywhere, shreds of tapestries and drapes hanging from the walls, and an old kitchen on one end. There’s even a fireplace big enough to roast a whole ox.

There are also bones and skeletons all over the floor, even underneath the furniture…we assume most of them are from the attack ten years ago, although an ogre skeleton in the kitchen seems to be wearing clothing that’s not that old (from the deterioration, not from the fashion).

As soon as we stepped into the kitchen area, a giant, hooded snake slid out of the fireplace and made a pass at Ezekiel – but Mikael stepped between them and started swaying and singing to it.

It must have liked that, since it started swaying, too.

By the time the rest of us were done investigating the storage closets (one for food, one for dishes – nothing worth salvaging), Mikael was rubbing the snake’s head, and it had folded up its hood.

He says its name is Cuddles. Why not.

Raven gave Cuddles one of our rations.

Wonillon thought the door to the east was trapped, but we opened it with no trouble, and found ourselves back in the main corridor.

We still had a little bit to fill out in our map, so we headed north, through the barracks, past the turn to the torture room, and to the hallway that wraps around the dirt-sanctuary (where the elementals were).

That hallway heads south and joins up with the corridor from the other side – where both of them funnel into a staircase that leads further down.

As Raven described to us before, there are paintings on the walls – captives, of all kinds of races, suffering death from water, wind, and fire. There are cressets for torches here, but they aren’t lit…yet the images seem to have a fiery glow when you look at them.

It makes my skin crawl.

Ezekiel is saving the dirt-sactuary for tomorrow, so there was only one more loose end to tie up: the door painted over with runes in the north-east corner of the Temple.

We found the door without any trouble (my map is pretty good, if I say so myself. And also it was a straight-forward route). Lydia thinks the runes are Runes of Warding, and Wonillon volunteered to try picking the lock.

It didn’t end too well. No sooner did he touch it, than his whole body frosted over with ice and he fell to the ground – thunk. (I’m glad he didn’t crack when he fell!)

Mikael jumped forward and managed to bring him around, but he was still shivery and weak, and we decided to help him back to Cleric Romag’s quarters and call it a night.

It was nice to have nice surroundings for once, and Raven prepared an absolutely amazing dinner with cheese and biscuits. (I guess that Monk training taught him a thing or two!)

It’s also nice being somewhere that we can barricade ourselves into and lock the doors. I’m hoping for a nice, quiet watch so Wonillon and the others can get a solid night of rest. After all, we started out pretty early today.

Also my shoulder is a little stiff.

****

Breakfast was biscuits from the barrel in the barracks. The healers (Mikael and Yeti) did their work to get the most injured of us more on our feet.

Raven marked the spots in the dirt where we (meaning Mikael) had noticed the magical glow, so it was no problem to find them.

According to Ezekiel’s plan, he, Yeti, Raven, and Wonillon dug in one of the spots (a couple yards off the corner of the altar-platform) while the rest of us stayed in the doorway by the curtain and watched for danger.

In the first spot, they dug up a lot of gold, and a potion. Ezekiel thinks it’s a Potion of Diminution. (Wonillon said, “Ah, so a potion of attractiveness?”)

For the second spot (on an angle from another corner of the platform) we had to move to the other doorway. The curtain was pulled back, so we had a clear view of the digging party.

We’ve been very lucky to not encounter any enemies lately, but the place isn’t completely deserted. While standing guard, I heard footsteps, and turned to find five shambling, blue-as-death figures coming toward us.

I told the others to run for Ezekiel, and loosed an arrow into one of the figures (got it through the chest, but of course that only slowed it down a little).

Lydia’s magic lion appeared beside me – but then one of the front ghouls reached me and clawed at me. He got his teeth into me (which is so very gross) and all my muscles went stiff.

I heard Simba growling, and Heiron tells me he took down a ghoul with his arrows (practice pays off, apparently) but everything is fuzzy until I sat up in the little dressing room at the south end of the dirt-sanctuary (the party had moved down there so the diggers could work on another corner of the altar).

Simba was still lying rigid beside us, but Ezekiel says Lydia ran down to get him, and he dusted the remaining undead.

I think my plan worked pretty well – Lydia is faster than you might think, and we held them off so they didn’t pursue her (I as juicy live bait, Heiron as an archer). That’s why we have a party, after all. I’m not sure the others are convinced, though.

The diggers found a load of platinum and a suit of ringmail that Mikael confirmed is magical. Another spot had a small bag of gems and a magic morning star, and the last place had a magical ring, magical rope, a leather case holding a magical wand, and a brass box containing three bottles of “Keoghtom’s Ointment from Mother Streng’s Herb Shop.”

I think this is just perfect, since she was suggested to us as a possible aide to our investigations…and now we get her goods for free (assuming they’re the genuine article). Raven says he saw some of this while he was buying healing potions in Verbobanc, and it apparently draws out or neutralizes poison, cures diseases, heals wounds, and other amazing things. And you apply it on the skin, so the subject doesn’t even need to be conscious!

Yeti used his paladin-y stuff to sniff for Evil, and he says the items are “clean.” We speculate that they were buried as offerings to the Earth…powers…So since we killed the Earth Elementals anyway, now they are ours!

We think the ring is for Protection, so we gave it to Lydia – since Mikael and Raven already have their own. She got the wand, too, since she’s pretty much the only one who can use it (Raven suggested Wonillon might be able to use it, but that might be a stereotype) and I have the rope in the bag of holding because of course you can never have too much rope.

Now we just have to decide if we’re going back to town before descending to the next level. My ghoul bites are smarting, but I’m not a whiner and can deal with it. We will at least wait until Mikael has a chance to reload his spells.

(By the way, I’m happy to report that Corby no longer looks at Cuddles like she wants to peck out his eyes. Hopefully they can figure out how to be friends…after all, Mikael is their mutual Best Friend. I am a little worried about keeping a snake that big fed, though.)


Find the previous entry here.

Read the start of the Temple exploration here.

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Dear Diary….food and floorplans

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

Mikael healed Ezekiel while the rest of us organized the loot from our fallen enemies.

Many of the men had bronzed plate mail, with bronze rings that had a triangular setting of jet. Several others had brown surcoats with the black triangular device on it, or medallions with a black triangle. It certainly seems like we’ve cleared out most of the Earth Temple people.

We didn’t find much else of interest (all their gear is pretty basic quality) except for a javelin that Ezekiel thinks will shoot lightening or something (technically he says it’ll turn into a lightening bolt if we throw it at someone, but none of us are really experienced at javelins. Still, it should be worth some cash).

The fight took us north into the corridor with our opponents, so we continued exploring from there. (Should I hide the bodies somewhere so they aren’t gobbled up by ghouls? See when we have time for that…)

A door opened east into some quarters…the first four bunks were obviously for officers of some kind; each cot had a chest, and each chest had a leather ceremonial harness with a bronze dagger…probably for sacrificing people!

We also found a note: “Remember to check Augury Chamber to see if Belstro was lying.”

Unfortunately, we have no idea who Belstro is, or what he said, so it doesn’t really matter to us if he was lying. I suppose it doesn’t matter to the owner of the note anymore, either. Maybe Belstro is from one of the lower temples?

The rest of the barracks room held bunks and footlockers for the grunts, a fountain for water (Raven thought it smelled funny, but Lydia said it was probably all right, so he replenished water skins). He also found some dried apples and hard biscuits, so we now have enough rations to stay down here a little longer. (I trust the horses are taking care of themselves on the surface…)

They also stored buckets of weapons in their barracks (good to have spares, I guess) and more torches (so I should have plenty if I want to restock my supply).

A door on the south led out into the corridor below the gnolls’ barracks — in fact, the door right across the way leads to the gnoll room where we spent the night (still blocked by the quadruple-crossbow on the other side, of course).

[sketch of rooms]

If we had come up that corridor, it could have been a very different story, with the crossbow firing down on us through the slit in the wall, and men and gnolls charging us from each side. But of course, it’s not our style to use the front door for anything. (Ezekiel even makes me use the back door of the Welcome Wench because he has some delusion that our enemies don’t know I’m alive again.)

Well, that connected our map there, so we returned to the corridor of battle and went through a door to the north.

The walls were plastered, and benches and stools stood around. A lantern was lit, placed to shine on the wall where we entered. Eyebolts held a wire that ran along the west wall and ran into a hole in the north wall…some kind of signal or alarm? With any luck, no one is around anymore to hear if we trip the alarm.

There were four more bunkbeds here (personal effects, nothing interesting) and a barricade across the opening where the first room ran into the next room.

Oh – a hand-ax hung on a peg on the wall…clearly its owner didn’t bother to grab it before charging into battle. I’m feeling much better about axes than I used to (practice is everything), but it’s not like I’m running short of weapons. (Master Otis says it uses the same muscles as the blacksmith hammer.)

The room beyond the barricade was some kind of dining room, with a big table and benches, and tapestries and paintings on the walls.

The paintings all seem to be decadent drinking and debauching (Raven says he’s not sure debauching is a word — but that’s what you get in a Chaotic temple. It could be quite an education if we had any interest in looking at the pictures).

There are also barrels of water, beer, and biscuits here – so Raven can restock our supplies as much as he wants. There were also some big sausages hanging around, and a small round of cheese – but he only took the cheese.

It seems a pretty good place to camp out, with doors we can lock, and a barricade we can hide behind – and beds and padded armchairs for some real class for once.

There is a door to the north, sheathed in bronze, that we couldn’t get open…it seems to be barred from the other side. We think it’s Romag’s suite, which means the chances are pretty low anyone will come through there (they’d have to go in the secret door, then unbolt this door…and if they haven’t done it already, they’re unlikely to now).

We did find a locked chest that Wonillon was able to open (racial skills sure are nice, am I right?) and it contained some clothes, some brandy, rope, and a potion (looks like a healing potion).

The brandy might be worth something, and you can always use more rope…and Ezekiel suggested Wonillon carry the healing potion, because it never hurts to have options while in battle.

Can’t believe the morning is only half-gone. A snack break was just the thing – I needed to stretch…my bow fingers.

We’ve still got some blank spots on the map to fill in (might need to adjust some of these dimensions to make everything fit) and Ezekiel wants to dig up whatever’s in the Earth Elemental “sanctuary” tomorrow before we leave.

[sketch of immediate area]


Find the previous entry here.

Read the start of the Temple exploration here.

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