Dear Diary….because everything happens to us

It wasn’t over when the last salamander hit the floor.

While Wonillon ran back to help Raven tie up the evil priest (Raven smacked him around a bit to make him more pliable) and Ezekiel helped finish off the second werewolf, Lydia kind of sat down on the floor next to the fire-pit.

Mikael ran over to Ezekiel and said something in his ear, and then Ezekiel told me to grab any valuables from the bugbears as quick as possible because we had to get Lydia some help. After all, she’d been mauled pretty badly by the werewolf, and Mikael though a Druid of the Twelfth Circle or something like that could cure her if we got there super fast.

Lydia seemed really shaken up, and was crying a little, and looking at her silver dagger…but Mikael told her if we were quick we could maybe fix things.

I was still trying to decide if all my organs were in the right places, and wasn’t sure that we should spend time to search all the charred bodies if Lydia was really in danger of trying to eat us…but, well, Ezekiel was kind of insistent that we might need the money for a cure.

(Lydia suggested we might need the money for a Raise Dead, but we shushed her.)

(Mikael pointed out that he has lots of money, and helping his friend would surely be a worthy cause to spend it on – so we would have been fine either way. Anyway, I collected a bunch of money and jewelry from the humanoids we Lydia killed, and we confiscated the priest’s armor and weapons (two hammers, a scroll in a case, and a magic shield and chainmail).

Ezekiel went and got Heiron and the rescued prisoners (they were locked into one of the little rooms…I’m so proud).

We put Wonillon in charge of the priest-prisoner, and he asked him what his precautions against lycanthropy were. I think he and Ezekiel were a little rough, but sounds like the priest didn’t really think that possibility through. They did get him to tell them a bit more about the structure of the Temple – the bugbears in black were “delegates” from the “Greater Temple,” here to see if the Fire Temple was up to snuff, and worthy of more resources. Also more blather about how “those below are different” and only the wimpiest of the “Greater Temple” were working up on the elemental level.

The rescued prisoners – the four elves were all traveling to Greyhawk from Celene, but got jumped on the road and held by the Water Temple – that is, until this Fire Priest (Alrun) took over. The lady elf who spoke for them thought he wanted to sacrifice them to summon an efrete (Ezekiel seemed to know what that was).

Of the human prisoners, two were merchants from the Nulb area (Nulb may be grungy, but they seem to suffer the brunt of the kidnappings from the Temple).

The third one, according to Cleric Alrun, is a disobedient servant of the Fire Temple. I would believe it – Evil does tend to eat itself – but he won’t give an answer for himself.

The elves grabbed some weapons on our way out of the Temple, and took off once we got them outside the walls. We got the merchants to Nulb, where they could make it home safely, and then most of us crossed the bridge and waited…

Lydia and Mikael went to Mother Screng’s – since I remembered that she was a skilled type of person, and we thought she might perhaps know of a werewolf cure.

Lydia has the boots of speed, so can escape most problems as long as they don’t cut her off from the bridge, and Mikael can change into animals!! So they should be able to help each other out of trouble…

**

From the campsite north of Nulb…

When Lydia and Mikael showed up again, she was practically beaming. Apparently Mother Screng thought Keotum’s Ointment might heal lycanthropy – and it certainly healed the rest of Lydia’s claw wounds.

She says MS used some kind of Detect Evil or something, and is pretty confident that the ointment worked…and threw in a couple jars of it, just for good measure.

And sounds like she didn’t even charge them or anything!

I guess we’ll know for sure in a few days.

Blindfolded the priest and tied him to a tree.

****

I’m not used to Ezekiel being a real cleric. Between him and Mikael, we’re all fighting fit again (well, except for Cleric Alrun – although Mikael did give him a dose of healing so he wouldn’t tip over on the journey).

Turned him in to the tower by evening. I hope they keep a better eye on him now, and he doesn’t get assassinated, too! In fact, I hope they stick that assassin full of sharp things.

The third human we rescued headed down to the worker’s camp to try for a job…maybe a change of scene will put him on a better path.

****

Heiron is really getting the hang of all this. We gave him the magic shield from Cleric Alrun, and now even I’m having trouble hitting him. (I also gave him the magic broadsword we got somewhere a while back, so he’ll have a magic weapon just in case.)

As for Alrun’s magic chainmail, we decided to see if the shopkeeper still had the dwarvish chainmail we sold him a while back, and swap it out so Wonillon could get an upgrade. Ezekiel made him give us 1000 gold, as well, and he went for it…which really makes me suspicious. I don’t trust that guy.

Ezekiel says he recognized Alrun’s gear, too – so he warned Master Ostler and our other friends to keep an eye on him. He hopes that the shopkeeper will lead them to more cultists…

Also, not sure they’d want me writing about this, but I overheard Raven asking Ez about Ao – the “God of gods.” Raven was asking if Ao was “of gods” the way Merikka is “of agriculture”…like it’s His domain, or area of responsibility.

It – makes sense. Ranger apprentices have to listen to their master. Paladins have Grand-Masters and stuff. Grand-Masters and Lords all listen to their deity. Even dukes and kings have to listen to the gods.

I…guess if Ezekiel is right, then gods have a boss, too. Makes sense. Someone has to keep order among them all.

But – does He have a boss? Is there Somebody way, way up there who only answers to Himself?

Sounds a little too theoretical for me.

**

We leave tomorrow morning again.

Ez went to talk to a new High Cleric at the tower (this one serves Rao) and says they’ve gotten a little more information from the captive priest.

The “Greater Temple” is TWO LEVELS below the one with all the elementals, and will probably have giants and etins and demons and stuff. I’m excited to try my hand at some of those.

He also said “Someone” important was “possibly interested” in buying our filter of love…but Ezekiel laughed and got all possessive and said there “must be a reason” it didn’t break along with all the other potions he had.

I think it’s a great chance to give it to someone who might get some use out of it, but possession is 9/10s of the law. (Though I guess if he’s not actually going to use it he doesn’t need to carry it into the dungeon…sort of like these harpy feathers I still have!?)

****

When we reached the Fire Temple, the sulphur-brazier in the cleric’s bedroom was no longer burning (Ezekiel seemed relieved). The torches in the “sanctuary” were all burnt out…although the two copper cauldrons were still glowing, and the fire pits still had coals glowing.

Ezekiel checked out the cauldrons, and they seem to have glowing incense oil of some kind…he had Mikael’s Protection from Fire spell on, so he couldn’t tell if it was dangerous or not.

He dumped an entire water skin of holy water into the fire pit in front of the altar. That put out the coals, but there wasn’t any smoke! Lydia said it was magic fire, and I figured it wasn’t much of a fire if it can’t behave like it ought to.

The really interesting part happened when Ezekiel checked the altar for secret compartments. He didn’t find any, so he decided to whack one of the gold skulls on it…and that’s when the altar shot out fire while the skull bellowed:

“Who dares defile the sacred element of fire?”

We figured out the central skull was magical – probably a magic mouth spell of some kind. Every time he touched the altar, it bellowed at him:

“Who dares defile the sacred element of fire?”

Since he was Protected from Fire, he could just keep hitting it. I suppose it’s supposed to summon the guards if anyone tries to steal the gold, but since we killed all the guards already, no one showed up.

Wonillon and Mikael decided they just had to have those gold skulls, so Wonillon took his ring of fire resistance and pried them off – six in all.

We decided that every other temple had a treasure stash somewhere…so we dug in the ashes of the fire pit.

We found an iron box that Raven said was trapped, and after he opened it he showed us the scythe blade that was designed to chop off the hand of anyone who didn’t open it properly.

Treasure list:

Two potions (Raven thinks they’re for polymorphing)

Magic ring

The armor and weapons of those important-looking guys we killed, including two magic swords–

When Ezekiel looked at the swords, the first one looked like the commander’s sword that lit on fire — but we don’t care about that I guess. (Ez says it’s dedicated to the goddess of volcanoes and bickering or something.)

The second sword is named Tresarion and he says he’s really good at killing Evil fire things and he can do all kinds of cool things if I will carry him around like detect magic and detect evil and detect shifting walls or something but he also understands that we don’t want to waste his talents on small fry, like bugbears and such.

He even speaks in Lawful Good! which I just realized might mean he’s an assassin sword, but I don’t think he’d want me asking him…

I think Mikael is a bit jealous that he’s not made of bronze…Tresarion, that is…though would he be as good at killing fire things if he was bronze?

Raven tried opening the double doors to the magic corridor, but they slammed themselves shut. So we’re leaving them alone for now and heading to the Air Temple as soon as they can shove all these gold skulls in the bag of holding. (They don’t shout at us anymore. We broke it.)

****

Bad news! Raven disappeared!

In the Air Temple… We didn’t see anything unusual…Corby checked out the shaft above the pit, and saw nothing.

Raven went down on a rope into the pit (behind the altar) to look for treasure, and just vanished. No struggle. No tension on the rope. So I guess he’s not just invisible again, because he would have said something.

Gonna look for the cells the elves told us about. If we tried to get teleported after him, there’s no guarantee we’d get sent to the same place. So we have to trust him to take care of himself, and hope we run into him.

**

Found the back of the magic mirror.

Back in the room where Ez and Mikaela and Raven saw the shiny figures, Lydia’s weasel smelled werewolves. So we got our magic weapons out, and he helped us find the secret door that led behind the mirror.

Whole bedroom back there — for hairy slobs who sleep in heaps on the floor. Heaps and heaps of silver weapons, silver holy symbols, arrows, daggers, you name it. Even a scroll of protection from lycanthropy and bottle of wolfsbane.

Lydia said probably from all the parties they’ve fooled with their act…I said that seems a lot, that or good is way dumber than I thought.

Figured put what mirror does — Ezekiel stood behind it while some of us were still in the other room, and he looked wreathed in flame with horns and fangs and everything! Gotta keep an eye on him…

Dear Diary…our greatest nemesis

When Ezekiel and Wonillon finally got back to us, they said they’d had a scuffle with some bugbears. They claim that Ezekiel took two of them out with a single whack each, while Wonillon lay on the floor bleeding, and then Ezekiel chanted a healing spell over Wonillon that seemed to actually work!

Gonna have to keep an eye on Ezekiel. Maybe we didn’t pick out all the shards of potion bottles that the giant spherical rolling pin crushed into him.

We discussed our strategy for facing the Fire Temple, while satisfying ourselves about the secret doors we found in the Air Temple. The one to the south-west leads to a stair down (possibly it goes to the safe retreat Cleric Kelno was trying to reach when we killed him?). The hidden door to the south-east opens onto an empty room, maybe ten by ten.

Is it a place to retreat, while the owners of the temple work on their strategy? A place to keep prisoners temporarily? Perhaps it’s where the air creature that we fought the first time was staying?

At any rate, there was nothing for us there, so we left through the east double doors.

Directly across the hall from those doors, another corridor slants south to the Fire Temple.

Our strategy mostly involved Ezekiel holding the attention of whatever we encountered, while the rest of us tried to kill it. We gave Wonillon the ring from the fire-resistant troll, and Mikael cast “Protection from Fire” on Ezekiel (also making sure he was as healed as we could get him).

Then Ezekiel pushed open the double bronze doors…and we saw that this was, indeed, the Fire “Sanctuary.”

The huge room blazed with light – from flambeaux on the walls, and flecks of something glowing in the red granite walls, and even motes of something red floating in the air.

Ezekiel checked behind the tapestries that hung at our backs on either side of the entrance – but he must not have looked very thoroughly. The tapestries weren’t covered with ugly creatures torturing people, for a change…just images of fire. But there’s something not right about the fire…something Evil.

Several yards into the room, a huge brass tube hung vertically by chains from the ceiling. The ceiling soared above us, so the tube must have been twenty feet if it was a foot – and so wide in diameter that Raven said he could shove me up there no problem. I think he would have run into difficulties with that…

I stayed at the threshold, hugging the wall, while Ezekiel and Wonillon tip-toed forward into the room.

Two stands near the tube held rows and rows of little charcoal bricks, and in front of it was a fire pit in the floor, full of glowing coals.

Beyond the tube, about the same distance from us to it, two cauldrons stood on either side – with a table of some kind in front of each of them.

At the far end of the room, something glowed golden. I never really got close enough to see it, but Ezekiel says there’s a golden altar, with a sizable pit in the floor filled with tongues of fire.

Mikael told us that the brass tube, the altar, and the cauldrons were all magical in some way…although the whole room “radiated” magic energy. (Probably the floating light specks or something.)

Ezekiel made complicated signals to us, and then Mikael came over to explain that he was going to pick something to mess with, and see if it called out the “elemental guardians.”

Heiron and I got our bows ready (as we always are). Ezekiel wound up, and slammed his mace into the brass tube.

It gave a booming “gong” that reverberated in the air…and we all agreed it was ironic that Ezekiel chose to hit something that was apparently meant to be hit.

In one of my routine checks of the hallway, I spotted two ogres lumbering toward us. I shot one through the throat before the second one could finish saying, “There him is!” (I’ll probably never find out what they mean by that, if I keep killing them on sight, but that’s the way it goes.)

Heiron and I finished off the other one, and turned our attention back to the main room…in time to see a crowd burst from a door behind the eastern tapestry.

Ezekiel was standing on the far side of the tube-gong from us, waiting for it to do something. Mikael was standing near him (those “cleric types” sticking together), and they both stood and stared while Heiron and I loosed our prepared arrows.

I took out a half-orc wearing some kind of cleric dress, and Heiron felled a man carrying all kinds of weapons, who looked kind of important.

With those two dead, there was a human commander of some kind, and a group of bugbears. Our melee fighters charged, Lydia tossed her smelly egg, and I shot the head off a bugbear in the front line.

And that’s where the cakewalk ended.

Heiron and I were both digging out fresh quivers of arrows when the commander stepped out of the stinking cloud (Ezekiel says he wasn’t even gagging or anything!) and flicked a rope like a lasso.

This was no ordinary rope! I couldn’t even track its movement, as it looped itself around Heiron, Corby, Lydia, me, Cuddles, and Mikael – and pulled tight.

Holding the rope taught with one hand, the commander flourished his sword – and flames licked up the blade.

Talk about an entrance. (And what kind of rope is this, anyway? What won’t they think of next?!)

Raven was still free. He palm-smacked a bugbear in the face so hard that it stood staring and shaking its head stupidly.

Ezekiel charged around from behind the gong and swung at the commander, who swung back with his flaming sword.

While they kept each other busy, Mikael called to Raven to come cut the rope. But I mentioned how this was no ordinary rope…He sawed at it with a dagger, but it didn’t even seem to fray it.

Seeing that was no good – and that not all of the bugbears were choking on the stinking cloud, Raven took his magic ring of stars and lit up the commander with faery fire (assuming it might possibly help Ezekiel maybe), and then shot sparks at the bugbears.

Raven and Wonillon were getting pummeled by the bugbears as they tried to cut the rope — when Ezekiel whipped out a scroll, read something off of it, and then fire erupted a few feet in front of him – scorching the commander and frying one of the bugbears.

Mikael suddenly shrank to the size of a frog – in fact he was a frog, and hopped out of the loop of rope.

This was no ordinary rope, though, as the pressure on our arms was no less. We couldn’t get our hands in our pockets or to our weapons…Lydia couldn’t even gesture to cast any spells.

A new man stepped out from behind the tapestry, wearing cleric robes, and waved his hands at us. Suddenly, the clangs and grunts of battle disappeared as silence blanketed the room.

Raven stepped back from the bugbear he was dealing with to gulp a healing potion. Ezekiel was apparently so frustrated that he hit the floor, instead of the commander. The commander wasn’t landing a blow, either, and tried to swear at him or something…but of course we couldn’t hear him.

Ezekiel said, “You can’t talk in a silence spell, you know.”

The new priest guy ran behind the bugbears and down to the end of the room, and started chanting in front of the altar.

Mikael suddenly grew back into his own shape, and cracked a bugbear over the head with his staff.

Raven was doing a good job of keeping the bugbears focused on him, instead of the ones who couldn’t use their arms…but about this time, something made him change his mind, and he quaffed a potion and suddenly disappeared.

While Mikael and Ezekiel killed bugbears (which is like the single thing I am best at) I looked around for what Raven had seen, and noticed – the snake-things.

They were like a cross between a snake and a lizard, and glowing like fire. They swarmed out of the fire pit in front of the altar, and although I couldn’t see them very well at that distance, I figured I didn’t want to meet them.

Something tugged at the rope – and although it didn’t fray or loosen, it did finally give me an idea.

Mikael had chewed through the bugbears, and was attacking the commander from behind. The priest was shouting something (that we couldn’t hear) and jabbing his finger at Ezekiel…but of course, if he was trying to cast a spell on Ezekiel, that wouldn’t work, either.

Wonillon stabbed a bugbear in the ribs, but it seemed like too little, too late. Ezekiel was bleeding from several places, and weaving slightly on his feet. And those fire-lizard-things were getting closer and closer.

I couldn’t say anything that would be heard, so I kicked Lydia’s ankle and lunged for the door. The rope wasn’t wrapping my legs, after all.

Lydia and Heiron quickly got the idea and surged after me. As Heiron shoved against the floor, the rope jerked out of the commander’s hand…and the loops digging into our arms abruptly went slack.

We staggered backward through the door. Cuddles and Corby, apparently disconcerted by all this, bolted past us up the corridor.

Wonillon had also figured out the discretion thing, and dashed after the animals. Past the threshold, I was far enough away from the battle to speak, and told Heiron to stand by to help me with the doors.

I expected Lydia to put distance behind her, too, but she stood in the doorway with us, pulled out her gold lion statue, and said, “Simba.”

Her magic lion leaped into existence and charged the commander.

That left Mikael, Raven, and Ezekiel.

As we watched, a bugbear swung at Ezekiel and bashed him so hard he… Lydia tells me he “turned into a gaseous form.” It was basically a see-through, billowy version of Ezekiel.

He started cackling wildly, and bellowing, “Fly, you fools!” or something like that (so, why don’t silence spells affect him?!), and charged the fire-lizard-things, swinging his foggy mace left and right.

Raven popped into view in the middle of the room, snapping the no-ordinary-rope like a lasso…but nothing special happened, so he and Mikael finally backed out of the room while Simba mauled the commander.

I figured Ezekiel was a big boy and could take care of himself – or we’d just have to raise him again or something – so Heiron and I pulled the doors shut and tied the handles with rope.

Mikael pounded on the doors, hollering at Ezekiel that he was a gas, for goodness’ sake, and needed to come float through the door!

Raven tapped Mikael on the shoulder with the hand that wasn’t holding his arm on, and asked for some healing.

Simba gave a roar from beyond the door. I guess it must have been a victory roar, since Lydia gave a little smile (you can tell by the way her eyes crinkle) and dismissed him by twisting the statue in her hands.

Well, with that worry out of the way, I could worry more about the fire-lizard-things, and I ushered Heiron and Lydia up the corridor, preparing another arrow on my bow (now that I could hold it again).

Shortly after, Raven joined us. He said Mikael was still worried about Ezekiel, so he gave him the potion of invisibility so he’d have more options.

I’ve learned long ago…arguing with Ezekiel is one of those things that never goes anywhere. So I had to trust Mikael to take care of himself, and assembled the party at the north end of the corridor (where it happened to connect with the “great hall,” as I call it).

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long before Mikael joined us – dragging a now-solid Ezekiel along with him. He said, “I asked Obed-Hai to get some sense into him, and I guess it worked.”

Ezekiel says he received new instructions from a weather-beaten man leaning on a staff. He says that when he saw the man shaking his head in disbelief, he decided he wasn’t supposed to die in a blaze of glory, disintegrating salamanders from a ghostly form.

(Oh, yes…Michael says the creatures were salamanders, which are only harmed by magical weapons. Good to know.)

Ezekiel touched Raven’s remaining wounds, and they closed and stopped bleeding.

I thought we were finally going to get out of that area, and into some place where we could control the approaches…but, no, you have to keep a sharp eye on Ezekiel.

He abruptly stared off into the distance, through a solid wall, and announced that there was something very, very important that we had to check out right that second.

Raven apparently decided that compromising would be more efficient than arguing with EzEkIeL, and stationed us on watch while he checked out this room that was so very important (it’s a solid door a little south of the junction where we stood…yes, back towards the salamanders just a bit).

The floor of the room is white marble, with an alabaster ceiling. Raven says it feels very “safe” there, though he didn’t specify if the approaches are defensible, or if there are arrow slits in the walls, or extra weapons, or what exactly makes it so safe.

There’s a second door across from the entrance, and (apparently) a sheet of crystal that seemed cloudy until Raven opened the other door – when it started glowing.

If I had been there, I would instantly have suspected that it was some kind of alarm to tell when people open the door…but of course I wasn’t there. I was guarding the hall with Heiron.

The crystal started glowing, and when Ezekiel and Mikael joined Raven, they spotted two figures (like men with white wings) walking toward the crystal, as though they were on the other side of a mirror or window.

The figures asked them what “such fair folk of good” were doing in such a “vile place” – which should have been their first warning. I mean, what would make them think we were all Good, after all?

Ezekiel asked the two who they were, and they answered that this “sanctuary of good” had been “placed here” to give aid to any righteous adventurers…and if they left all their magic gear, holy symbols, and silver items in front of the crystal mirror – and left the room for a few hours – the winged types would restore their charges and increase their efficiency.

Raven says he was getting flashes of déja vue about that point…and then apparently the figures told them all to hurry, because the “window of opportunity” was short, and that “Euz,” in his goodness, had put this room/mirror-thing there to help good people –

And at that point Ezekiel started laughing so loudly we could hear him outside through the walls.

We could also hear something else – a rope snapping some ways away.

I opened the door to tell them to hurry up, and by that time, the figures had retreated in embarrassment or something, so the others rejoined us.

Ezekiel told us it was another scheme like the pool of wish-granting, and Lydia asked why he hadn’t left his mace for them to pick up.

Well, he got a good laugh out of the whole thing…but I still don’t know why it was so very vital that we drop everything and investigate it right then. Of course, Ezekiel has been having trouble all day…as I write, he’s vibrating in his seat, and every time he speaks, he garbles it so quickly we can’t understand a word.

Lydia asked all the rest of us to pray that he wouldn’t explode or anything. Shame that she doesn’t feel comfortable doing that herself…but maybe one day.

Anyway, the majority ruled that we wanted some distance between us and the fire-salamander-lizard things. We’re doing much better than we were, but Ezekiel still looks like death warmed over…and Wonillon and Raven didn’t get off without a scratch, either.

I have a nick that looks like the scratch of a spear, but it only itches.

We still have to decide whether we need to restock in town before returning…but I for one am happy to have a retreat at my back, as well as a controlled approach in front.

Now, if Ezekiel doesn’t explode, or turn purple, or something, we should be fine.

Maybe the God of gods is paying attention and rooting for us…but it’s nice to know Obed-Hai and Ehlonna and Merikka approve of our mission and are listening, too.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….air demons

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

Night passed quietly. Rest seemed to do Ezekiel good.

First thing, he pulled Mikael aside for a “strategy session” – both of them being “cleric types” and all.

So Raven and I went through Bel-Sornig’s room to make sure we hadn’t missed anything. No sign of a secret passage…so that’s good, I guess.

I think Ezekiel said something like he got “something” to “replace” the healing potions he lost, but I’m not sure. He was kind of muttering.

Mikael performed healing rites for Ezekiel and Raven, and we were set to keep moving.

First order of business was to “deal with” the altar-basin in the Water Temple “sanctuary.” It’s bronze and about four feet high.

I’d known it had water and coins in it, but I didn’t realize how deep it was. Ezekiel stuck his arm all the way in, said, “Oh, that’s saltwater,” and told me to bring the bag of holding over.

As soon as he started messing with the altar, the pieces of the “juggernaut” idol on the floor started hooting. Obviously an alarm of some kind…but fortunately we seem to have killed everything within earshot of the alarm. It sure got annoying, though.

We cleared a whole pile of gems out of the water basin, plus a hefty amount of coins. So I guess it was worth it to take a look – besides irritating the dumb rock, of course.

The rest of us were ready to keep moving – but Ezekiel had something he wanted to do first.

He headed over to the fountain with the hideous fish face, and filled up his waterskin…but then he stood there praying over it for what felt like a long time.

He says he was sanctifying it to make “holy water” — I didn’t know he could do that, but I guess sometimes you gotta try new things to find out.

There are double bronze doors on the east side of the “sanctuary” – I don’t know how we managed to miss them until now – covered with more of those ugly, leering faces. (Leering on the other side of your faces now, eh?)

When we opened the doors, they revealed a wide corridor that seemed to glow with a green radiance. Farther down, it looked like it turned to red…but Ezekiel was not interested in venturing in to find out.

(He’s a puzzle, that’s for sure. Some things, he’s all ready to charge in without hesitation. Then, suddenly, he seems to get fits of caution and won’t even step through a door.)

Anyway, we took the long way around to the Air Temple “sanctuary” (where we had such a rough encounter with the spirit that wasn’t undead and RAVEN’S SMOKE).

While the rest of us stood guard at the top of the west stairs, Lydia cast Detect Magic and ran around the room with the Boots of Speed, trying to get an idea what we should look out for. She said the north door (with the repelling runes), the two crystal braziers on silver chains, and the altar (and utensils) were all magical.

The decor of the Air Temple is certainly more spartan than several of the other temples.

Ezekiel had Lydia cast Protection from Evil on him (since we were out of a paladin), and ventured onto the floor alone to take the other crystal dagger and the crystal bowl from the altar.

When he picked them up, funnels of wind seemed to rise out of the pit and hit him, but he kept his feet. A glyph of some kind on the altar also flared…perhaps it thought that, since he was grabbing all the tools, he was going to do a sacrifice.

Ezekiel brought us the two daggers and the bowl and made me put them in the bag of holding (Lydia said they weren’t magical anymore, but you can never be too careful with these cursed things. On the other hand, Ezekiel hasn’t been hurt by walking around with the one dagger in his belt. On the other other hand, he wasn’t carrying the complete set. What if it tries to mind-control me?)

Ezekiel went back down the steps with his waterskin of holy water and tried to douse the brazier nearest us.

Like before, smoke poured out of the brazier, burying the floor in dark, choking fumes…but something else happened, too.

A creature – at least as big as Ezekiel, maybe twice as tall, and looking like a human mashed with a vulture – appeared next to him and slashed at him…but it recoiled with an ugly exclamation I’m sure was swearing, wherever it came from.

Heiron let loose the arrow he had ready, and nailed the thing in its birdy face.

Mikael cast faery fire, and the creature flailed around a bit – but the sparkles seemed to “take,” and I could see its vital areas light up.

It slashed at Ezekiel with four arms and its beak – but only nicked him a bit while he was ducking in to try and bash it.

I lined up my shots, with the help of Mikael’s spell, and landed both arrows in it…it died with a squawking, screaming cry.

By this time, Ezekiel had worked his way back up the stairs to escape the smoke. While we waited for it to dissipate, he smacked himself with his own mace, muttering – then gave a sigh.

He told us the creature was a “vrok demon” – and someone (maybe Heiron?) said it went down pretty fast for a demon. So Ezekiel explained it was pretty low down on the totem-pole of demons.

Once the smoke had evaporated, and nothing was on the floor but the reliable swirling mist of this place, we crossed the room to take up positions on the opposite staircase so we could cover the second brazier while Ezekiel doused it. (The first brazier seemed to have gone out, so that was progress.)

(The east staircase led to more double doors, which we found led to a corridor that leads back to the “great hall.” Have to explore that more later.)

Ezekiel dumped the rest of his waterskin on the second brazier, and the system repeated itself.

Dark smoke poured out, and a hideous vulture-demon-thing with (at least) four clawed arms appeared.

It was at this point that we remembered Ezekiel’s protection from evil had run out.

I got the creature in the joint between shoulder and wing…and then my next shot took out the first crystal brazier and knocked it to the floor. It was – twitching, all right?

Ezekiel kept it distracted while I put a couple more arrows in it, and then he hit it. Even from where we were standing, I saw the purple lightening surge up the mace, and ram’s head on the end glowed briefly.

(That can’t be healthy, right?)

Chuckling, Ezekiel joined us on the stairs for a minute while the smoke cleared. Then we could recover the silver chains and the crystal that was still valuable.

Mikael healed Ezekiel of his little demon scratches, and we went to investigate the southern doors at the top of the southern stairs.

This proved to be a new kind of area. The doors opened to a hallway – we assume it connects with the corridor we saw in the Water Temple – but the area there was glowing with a grey luminosity. It seemed to be pulsing, too.

Off to the west, it turned to the green of the Water Temple…to the east, it turned red (where the Fire Temple, the last of the under-temples, must be).

Straight across from the door, a huge bronze sheet sat – with a windlass to help raise or lower it.

According to the map, we figured it connected with the corridor in between the hydra and the unnatural-cross-of-owl-and-bear.

Ezekiel and Wonillon were first, and ventured over the threshold. They both yelped as a magical wind tossed them against the bronze barrier, and their noses turned red with cold.

One of them said the air in there smelled funny – like history and ages and war or something – but I don’t know what that would smell like.

I got out a rope while Raven tested the hallway by tossing a pebble from his boot over the threshold. The pebble dropped to the floor and didn’t do anything interesting.

I told the rope of climbing to attach to Ezekiel’s waist (being specific, see…can’t be too careful) and tried to pull him back…but he’s way heavier than I am, plus wearing plate armor, and I was trying to keep from losing my balance and falling through the door – so anyway, it didn’t work too well, and he peeled the rope off and tossed it back to me, grumbling about something.

He called across to us that he and Wonillon would raise the barricade and take the long way around past the hydra corridor.

That leaves the rest of us with nothing to do but sit on our hands…and search the other corners of the Air Temple for secret doors.

Raven and Lydia found several – we assume they’re to provide escape in the event the temples fight each other.

We must keep our eyes and ears open. If undead show up while we have neither a cleric, nor a paladin, things could get dangerous…


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s death counter

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

Lydia has given Raven her cloak of protection – since after all, he is more likely to run to the front and hit enemies (although she showed us some techniques she’s been learning at the tower with her staff, and is excited that she might actually hit something if it came down to it).

By the way, while Ezekiel was fiddling around with the weird magic trident, he discovered it had a hollow handle, with a nice, big aquamarine inside – plus a long scroll covered with cleric spells. (He’s calling the trident a “Trident of Yearning” because when you touch it, it makes you want to get in water or take a bath or something.)

As for Mikael’s new rod of smiting, though, no one in town knows specifically what its deal is.

Mikael and Raven have recovered their supplies as well as possible, buying replacement clothes and boots for the ones destroyed in acid…

I guess that’s a danger of carrying around too much expensive stuff – but there’s not a good way to get around it.

Had a lovely time in the woods with my “friends,” if by “lovely” we mean lots of push-ups and obstacle courses and getting my butt kicked. On the other hand, I really feel like I can swing an ax without pulling my muscles – or hitting something I don’t mean to. Even Master Elmo said I was getting “pretty good” at it. If we come across another ax in the dungeon, I can try it out…but until then, I think I’m carrying enough stuff. Continue reading

Dear Diary….pool of perdition

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

Ezekiel sent Mikael and Raven off to find Cuddles. Turns out he was keeping an eye on the double-doors we came through to reach the “sanctuary.”

They’d just met up with him when Raven says he heard the wall beside the door moving aside.

A voice said, “Master?” – and then we all heard shouting in some other language. (I assume it was bugbear.)

Most of the temple-room was still dark, of course – Mikael had a torch, but it didn’t shed light like our shiny shields used to (and the humidity in that room made things difficult, too).

Simba charged off into the darkness, roaring, and I heard the squeals as he tore into something (again, it sounded like bugbear).

I think Cuddles and Raven both lunged at the same time and bumped into each other – but that’s just going from what I saw across the room, and Raven insists it went differently.

Ezekiel moved forward, and as soon as Lydia followed him far enough to light the enemy, he bashed a bugbear-head in with his mace.

I speared one through the throat before I even realized Lydia had thrown an egg through the doorway…the figures beyond were gagging and choking on thick green smoke.

Something bellowed, “Who make stink?” — I didn’t see what. One of the bugbears tried to get out of the cloud, bumped into Ezekiel, and promptly got bit by Cuddles…but the rest of them seemed to be keeping their distance.

By the time Lydia dispelled the cloud, there were no enemies to be seen. Continue reading

Dear Diary….path of the paladin

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

In the morning, our healers did their magic. The prisoner asked if he got any, and Ezekiel asked him if he was planning to do any fighting.

We returned to the first dungeon without problems, but as we were passing through the barracks on that level, we smelled ghouls.

Everybody hugged close to Yeti so Ezekiel could hit them with his mace – and when he did, the runes around the ram’s head glowed and there was a flash.

A little further on, Raven warned us about some more undead – but not soon enough for Cuddles, who got clawed and paralyzed, and Mikael, who whacked the ghoul that hit Cuddles, and then got paralyzed.

Raven and I dragged them into the safety zone around Yeti, then Heiron and I shot down a couple ghouls that were too close for comfort.

Then we all held off so Ezekiel could use his mace. By the time I could pay attention to what he was doing, most of the undead were gone…leaving barely a film of dust behind.

So apparently this mace method is even cleaner than turning them. Who knew? The two bodies with arrows were already half-rotten – but they’re going to smell bad for a while before they turn into dust.

We reached the courtyard about mid-morning (lovely to see the sun again!) and collected the horses.

The rescued woman insisted that she wanted to leave right away – that she would take the High Road to live with her sister in the Wild Coast – and didn’t want any help. I think Raven gave her a ration or two to get her started, but I’m not sure.

I guess she’s got guts…or it’s all a plot to prey upon our compassion somehow.

We reached the campsite just fine (Nulb was thankfully quiet) and started making dinner and dealing out what healing we had left for the day.

Ezekiel went over to talk to Yeti – he says he doesn’t like all these neutrals clinging to him…that it’s not the company he wants to die in, and that he needs to seek guidance from Ula before continuing.

From what I caught of Ezekiel’s answer, he rambled something about being an insane party.

Maybe Yeti doesn’t like being taken for granted. Ezekiel sure lays it on thick about being off his rocker, serving a god that doesn’t exist, but it gets pretty old.

Back when he had the “hot meal” clinic in Ertuli, sure, he talked about his God – but he seemed to understand that no one knew what he was talking about, and just left it at that. But that was before he could dust undead…that was before having these visions (which I guess we have to take his word for), and getting the elf lady to cure his disease (Yeti tried to explain to me why that shouldn’t have happened, or something).

After all that’s happened, nobody’s calling him delusional…except maybe that priest he and Mikael met in Greyhawk, and nobody cares what he thinks.

Ezekiel does have some kind of understanding that a God above all other gods would also be over the Evil gods…which is kinda confusing. It doesn’t change my perspective, though, because Good is still obviously superior, since it exists.

After all – just the fact that we can have Good, and some people can be Evil (they’re allowed to be) shows that Good is the better, or the default one. If Ao (or whatever His name is) was Evil, then the whole world would be misery and blackness and those hideous pictures from the Temple.

I had a dream about one of them last night.

Just the fact that beauty and happiness and sunsets exist shows that they must be stronger than the anger and bitterness that oppose them. Winter is allowed a season, but not forever – Good insists on spring, when Ehlonna clothes all the trees and hillsides with life again.

All of which means, I guess, that some Evil is allowed to exist (for some reason)…but I also firmly believe that, if it must exist, it should have the decency to do it on its own plane.

So what we’re doing here is perfectly right and legitimate…not only are we upholding kindness and life and normal-ness (which is the better of the two), but we’re also spanking those perverted human-sacrificers back to the Dark Planes where they belong.

O— Heiron says he thought he heard something, but it’s nothing. He volunteered to patrol while we watch…when he gets older, he’ll learn how I can listen to my surroundings while also focusing on something else.

Anyway…I guess Yeti has to figure out his own path. Ula and Ehlonna might both serve the same Good (the same Good Person???), but they don’t hang out much.

And he’s also right that there are Right ways of doing Good, and Wrong ways of doing good. I think Ezekiel gets side-tracked by this idea of totality, of allowing the Evil gods to punt around – and trying to figure out how to serve Someone nobody else has ever approached before.

Also, none of us are any good at interrogation.

****

Got into Homlette just before sunset. Dropped the prisoner at the tower, and reported our latest findings to Sir Rufus.

Raven says he wants his magic dagger identified if possible (you never know…it might have a deadly magic trap against Good people on it). We’ll also have to get the treasure appraised and divvied up so we can give Yeti his share.

He never talked that much, but it’s sad to think he won’t be with us next time.

Am I also taking him for granted?!

****

Good treasure haul. Sent Heiron to buy us some more arrows (and paid him for the week, since after all he might need to buy something while we’re in town).

Ezekiel asked where he could buy some sheep, then left the inn. What’s he up to now?

****

The roads are still remarkable quiet. Maybe we’re just so loudly dangerous that anyone who might be trouble gives us space.

We returned to second basement of the Temple, via the same route and the same spiral staircase.

The minotaur body had become the home of some gross-looking eggs, so we squished all those. Not excited about dousing and burning all the bodies we make, but short of lugging them out for burial, I’m not sure how we can be any cleaner about our corpses. Cuddles can only eat so much…and he isn’t a dignified final resting place for a human, anyway.

Turns out, I really had noticed a secret door in the hallway by the Air Temple (y’know…the place where we almost died of poison gas thanks Raven). Inside, it was just a tiny L-shaped passage connecting the “sanctuary” with the corridor. Lydia supposes it could be a place to hide during a raid from the other temples…which makes sense given that they’re competing with each other.

… …

Well. Things got more interesting after that.

Wonillon checked the other double-doors in that hallway (the ones to the west), and when we opened them, we found a corridor basically the same width, with the same type of disgusting paintings on the walls, of death and destruction and oppression. The painted clerics organizing all this suffering and debauchery are dressed in green robes with the circle symbol.

The corridor isn’t very long, comparatively, and leads to more double doors covered with bronze bas-relief.

Wonillon checked those, too.

Beyond…so much of the rooms comes from the sensation of being there, that it’s hard to describe.

The floor and walls are azurite malachite stone, and the ceiling is vaulted with buttresses. The air is damp, and there’s a luminosity that doesn’t seem to come from any one place…it just floats in the air, giving everything the same sickly blue-green glow.

In the center of the west wall is a huge bronze plate in bas-relief of various sea life…but it must be all the ugliest of the sea life, with tentacles and fins and teeth, and one central fish-head acting as a fountain (there are 4 stacked basins below to catch the water).

Raven agreed with me that the one relief was that this hideous, fanged fish-head wasn’t the “fishy wave” one from Greyhawk. I suppose that much bronze must be worth something, but we haven’t discussed touching it yet.

A four-foot basin in the center of the room holds some coins, gems, and seashells – covered with a shallow pool of water. I suspect they’re the kind of thing Ezekiel says we should only touch one of.

Across from the doors was some kind of statue or idol, in front of a curtain made from seaweed and water. The idol was at least eight by eight, and…like if several bushels of eels, sea monsters, spiny fish, and other gross creatures had all been poured together and fused against their will into one monstrosity. You can almost pity the things that served as models.

While we were still all taking this in, Ezekiel put his finger to his lips and motioned each of us into position. Then he pushed the seaweed of the curtain aside and stepped through the doorway under the water.

(So we got at least one thing right.)

Beyond the curtain was a twenty-five foot corridor. A door stood on each side, and beyond lay some kind of big room with a huge oval pool (we couldn’t see much from there, but it was lit by cressets. Raven says the pool seemed to be absorbing the light or something, and the floor was blocks of crystal designed to reflect the light in confusing ways).

Heiron and I each took a corner to cover the doors, while Raven and Wonillon listened.

Then Ezekiel made a choice – pointing at everybody to get them where he wanted them – and Wonillon blocked the east door with those “crampons” that seem to work so well.

We didn’t have Yeti, of course, so Wonillon stood up near the door with Ezekiel…while Mikael and Lydia waited behind them to see if their spells were needed. Raven stationed himself at the corner leading into the room with the pool to make sure nothing snuck up on us from there (and he knows enough now to not attack any of the furniture without due preparation).

When Ezekiel opened the door, the first thing we all noticed was the man sitting in a green velvet robe on the couch across from the door.

Everything in the room was green – even the brazier in the center of the floor. Gossamer hangings from the ceiling gave the feeling of an underwater forest…but a haunted forest. Maybe like those paralyzing bubble-animals of death Raven told us all the scary stories about.

The man noticed us about the same time we noticed him, and he put down whatever he was reading and smiled.

“Well, hello, friends,” he said.

Ezekiel said, “Bel-Sornig, I presume.” (High Cleric of the Water Temple…pretty safe guess.)

The cleric smiled some more and said he assumed we were responsible for Cleric Kelno’s death, and that we should talk reasonably with him.

Well, talking is not something we do…but you don’t get good at something by not practicing. I guess that’s what Ezekiel figured, because he said, “Go on.”

Basically, Bel-S said he knew we were after the Greater Temple, and that he could help us against them, and the Fire Temple…but that in return we would leave his temple alone.

Of course, I thought what a precious deal that would be – help him to step into the shoes of the Greater Temple, and backstab us whenever he was ready! That, and of course we’re here to stop all the sacrificing-prisoners-to-demon-gods stuff, not just a majority percentage of it.

I was afraid Ezekiel would ask him to touch the magic mace or something, but instead he said we could accept info – in return for letting Bel-Sornig, personally, leave the Temple and not return.

I wasn’t too keen on that, either (bad guys don’t just retire quietly…they like to plot revenge and stuff), but it didn’t matter since Bel-S didn’t care for that deal, either.

So he put out all our lights.

I had an arrow on the string, covering his major organs…all I had to do was put tension in the string, and release, and I had a chance to hit something. (I had a chance to hit Ezekiel, too, of course, but nothing is fool-proof.)

I heard the arrow hit what sounded like a cushion – and then heard the twang of Heiron’s bow. Neither shot earned us a yelp, so all I could do was fumble in my backpack for a torch.

Why are they always at the bottom?

I heard the shuffle-pad-scrape of Raven’s dancer-like feet, and the doorway glowed for a second (he says he used his ring to case Faery Fire, but it didn’t do any good).

I had glimpsed a doorway off to the side while Ezekiel was talking, and I was torn between the fear that Bel-S would go through it, circle around, and hit us in the flank – and the fear that he would go through it, and just run away.

Maybe all the worrying is why I couldn’t seem to lay hold of a torch, even though I was carrying several.

While I was being useless that way, Lydia threw something and shouted, “Stink!”

Mikael and Raven both told Cuddles to “block the door,” and Ezekiel started banging on his shield, bellowing, “Light, light.”

All that, and I still heard someone moving around inside the room – maybe it was the soft chuckling.

Mikael cast faery fire, and someone huge and bulky started glowing in the doorway.

The someone had Ezekiel’s voice, because he told me to get out of the darkness so I could take a shot.

He must have remembered (though I didn’t at the time) that the pool-room and the fishy room were both lit in various ways – but it wouldn’t really have mattered because when I tried to make my way to the fishy room, I banged right into Heiron and wiped out on the floor.

Of course that is the moment Lydia chose to light her torch. She didn’t wait the three minutes for me to pick myself up…no, she didn’t. She lit her finger and set the torch alight while I was sprawled on the floor and wondering which sword I had fallen on.

On the bright side, I guess nobody noticed because Bel-S appeared, feathered with faery fire and in full plate-mail (probably green, though I didn’t notice).

Lydia summoned Simba – who promptly charged into the room, where her stinking cloud was still giving off sickening vapors.

Heiron stepped over me to take a couple shots (he must have been very excited, though, since he hit the couch) and the others crowded forward to attack. I heard the clang and caught a glimpse of the lightening from Ezekiel’s mace.

By the time I had untangled myself and stood up, Simba was dragging himself back into the hallway, gagging. I found an arrow and launched it, finding a chink between the plates of Bel-S’s armor.

That’s when Bel-S did what he probably should have done from the very beginning – made for the southern door to escape. He didn’t make it, though, as suddenly I heard a heavy clatter, and Wonillon appeared in the room – holding a bloody dagger and grinning from ear to ear.

(So if we wanted to question him more, we missed our chance. Not like he was very – persuadable, anyway.)

After all that noise, it’s no wonder someone had started pounding at the other door – but Wonillon’s wedges held.

Ezekiel got us into position again and threw the door open. Wonillon felt on a roll or something, because he pounced through the opening at once – stunning one of the guys in chainmail there.

Ezekiel took him out, and I took out the other one.

They were both wearing cowled green robes – kind of like Bel-S – but we didn’t really have a chance to notice that until they were dead.

(We’ll never know, of course, if they would have been more cooperative…because they’re dead.)

Ezekiel pointed out that they each had two hammers – so he says they were under-clerics (apparently there’s a cleric spell that involves a hammer as reagent).

That seemed to be everyone in the area…but we sure weren’t letting our guard down.

And we still had to find Cuddles, who seemed to have gone off somewhere.


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the second level here.

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Dear Diary….we get steamed

It’s only noon, but we’re already wiped out. We need to work on pacing or something.

After our little rest, Ezekiel led up through the hall to the north of the cleric’s bedroom. It leads straight up to what I’m calling the “great hall” – although there’s a short corridor that splits off and leads to a room full of bugbears and goblins.

When we first opened that door, Wonillon charged straight in (ignoring the wound on his arm, apparently) before Ezekiel had a chance to shout for everyone to hold back.

I nailed two bugbears through the throat, and then Lydia tossed her egg – and the room filled with a thick green cloud. (She’s been wanting to do that all day, you know.)

I could just see Wonillon on his hands and knees, puking – but then Mikael threw faery fire on the rest of the humanoids, and I was busy filling them with arrows.

A goblin tried to flee the cloud, but ran right into Ezekiel, who turned it into paste on the wall. I think that was satisfying for both of us (though not for the goblin).

Raven has been practicing with javelins, and threw a couple into the room – but apparently he didn’t have the range down, because his first throw lodged the javelin between the chinks in the stone wall opposite us. (Good thing he didn’t use the lightening javelin, eh?)

By the time the cloud dissipated, the enemy was all down, and we could search the room for valuables. It reeked of goblins, the floor was filthy, and the tressel tables were littered with food scraps. There were some sausages hanging from the rafters, but none of us trusted them (unless Corby was interested; Cuddles was still pretty full).

Raven found a pantry with millet, beets, and flour…so if worst comes to worst and we need food down here, we have options. But I don’t find anything a bugbear has been pawing very appetizing.

The bugbears all wore grey cloaks, which fits in with them serving the Air Temple.

Ezekiel wanted to charge off and get the next cleric before we called it a day, so we returned to the “great hall.”

The next passageway that led south had gross paintings on the walls: worshippers of Evil leading their sacrificial captives after a cleric in grey robes.

Ezekiel figured we’d already dealt with Air, so led us to the next passage down.

The paintings there were much the same…although the despicable cultists were being led by three different clerics in different robes: grey with a square, green with a circle, and red with an eight-sided thing.

[sketch]

Ezekiel decided we weren’t ready for all of that, and made us turn around and head down the other corridor.

We killed an ocher jelly in the “great hall” (meaning Raven, Heiron, and Yeti splatted it while the rest of us watched) and moved on. (I really hope it’s not the same one, because that would be annoying, not to say disturbing.)

This corridor ended with a set of double-doors to either side – east and west. According to the map, there should also be a secret door leading the Cleric Kelno’s quarters. (I think I saw another secret door, but I’m not sure…and we haven’t had time to check it out.)

Wonillon thought the doors to the west were trapped…but Raven said the doors to the east were clean.

Ezekiel said that worked out, because according to the map, that was more in the direction of the main bulk of the Temple, anyway.

He and Yeti opened the doors…and now comes –

the creepy part.

The room was huge – steps led down to the floor, fifteen feet below us, and the domed ceiling soared at least forty feet above. A strange, milky glow seemed to come from everywhere…messing with the shadows and looking very unnatural. Maybe like a dull, overcast day.

There was a mist swirling on the floor, too, that made it hard to tell what was in the room. We did notice a pit in the very center of the room, directly underneath a shaft in the middle of the ceiling. I wonder whether it’s the same mysterious shaft we spotted on the level above – but we haven’t put the maps on top of each other to test the theory, or investigated the shaft.

There’s also an alabaster altar in front of the pit. Two braziers on silver chains hung on either side of the pit, as well, giving off a sickly sweet smell. Don’t ask me why, but it made me think of fresh blood.

Ezekiel told Yeti to come with him, and they advanced very carefully down the steps.

Another set of steps led up from the floor to the north, but they stopped at a door covered with horrible runes that none of us could look at. Doors and stairs led away to the east and south, too, all positioned around the central square where the altar and pit were – and forming the outer walls into a big octagon.

Ezekiel and Yeti reached the floor, and didn’t seem to be harmed by the mist (you never know, of course…). They reached the center, and they say the pit was only five feet deep or so (plenty deep for some of us), and there were two crystal knives and a crystal bowl on the altar.

Ezekiel, as we all know, is always grabbing death by the horns – so he picked up one of the daggers.

A weird tinkling – almost a chime, though it set my teeth on edge – rang out, and then a cyclone or something seemed rise out of the pit and smacked Ezekiel and Yeti. I saw them almost fall over — and then we all saw a misty shape, not quite cloud, not exactly human appear on the far side of the room.

Heiron is either gutsy, or just figures the plan you don’t try will always fail. He fired an arrow at the thing – but either he was too excited, or the wind spinning around the pit knocked it off course…anyway, it didn’t hit.

The shape charged our friends and made a slash at Ezekiel, but shrieked and seemed to shrink away from Yeti.

Raven and Heiron both fired missiles (Raven a javelin) before I sent an arrow right through the thing (I can’t call it a creature, because it didn’t seem to even flinch at my arrow).

Mikael cast faery fire on it, and it looked quite strange – glowing and sparkling in the strange luminescence of the room. Parts of it were glowing brighter than others, but I don’t really know if those were its vulnerable spots…I don’t even know if a thing like that has vulnerable spots.

Raven ran down into the room (the cyclone or whatever seemed to be staying in the pit, so didn’t hurt him – just flapped his ropes a little) and he punched the figure.

I saw him shake his hand a little before shouting, “Don’t punch it.”

That’s when Yeti got his hit in. It’s hard to tell whether a figure of vapor has a “head,” but when his hammer connected with the “head,” the cloudy form billowed a little, and it snarled – perhaps in pain, perhaps in anger.

It seemed reasonable to me then that only magical weapons could hurt it…so, (since Raven had gotten down there fine without being carried off by the whirlwind) I told Heiron to help Mikael protect the prisoners (along with the animals), and drew my sword.

Wonillon ran past me, and stabbed the thing in its side (I don’t know if it was its side, you know, but it was the side of what we were looking at – anyway…). It didn’t like that, and snarled again – so that when I tried a cut, it swirled and pulled its misty limbs away.

Ezekiel said, “I think it’s a wraith — it’s mine.”

Fair’s fair…he wants to try using his magic mace on undead…but if that’s his goal maybe he shouldn’t try to hit Yeti, behind him.

I hadn’t even noticed that Raven had left – I was more concerned about staying near Yeti while fighting the apparition – but then we were all reminded of his presence.

Abruptly reminded.

He says that he was irritated by the smell of the braziers, and wanted to put them out. So he dumped his waterskin on the nearest one.

Next thing we knew, dense smoke rolled out of the brazier and covered the floor…more than that, it piled up on the floor until we couldn’t breath and could barely see the people right next to us.

While we were all gagging at the burning pain, I heard Yeti mutter something about, “Ula heal…”

I didn’t stay longer though, since I figured my usefulness had come to an end, and besides I couldn’t breathe without feeling like I was inhaling boiling water.

I headed for the last place I’d seen the stairs – which wasn’t quite where I remembered, because I almost banged my face on the wall of the room.

While I recovered myself, I heard footsteps patter off to my right – and then a much more leaden sound…the clatter of someone in armor collapsing to the ground.

Ezekiel yelled something about, “Begone, foul creature!”

I shouted for Yeti and Ezekiel to say something – but by that point, I heard the scraping and clanking of someone dragging someone in armor – up steps.

I followed the sounds, found the steps, and managed to climb onto them – gagging the whole time.

When I got high enough to actually see things again, Wonillon had reached the top of the stairs, and Raven had Yeti laid out on a step, dripping a healing potion into his mouth.

(It’s sure lucky he had that. We have Keoghtem’s Ointment, of course, but they’re all in the bag of holding…on my back.)

As Yeti sat up – coughing and rubbing his throat – Ezekiel charged up the stairs after us…followed by that hideous floating apparition that seemed to be blending with the cloud of poison gas.

Yeti fumbled for his hammer, and threw it — maybe Ula guided that throw, because it caught the figure smack in the middle, and the mist or vapor or whatever it was made of evaporated into the air with a whiny groan.

Ezekiel told us, while desecrating strange temples, make sure you only touch one thing at a time.

That’s all the “learning opportunity” he had time for, since we had to crawl out into the corridor to get away from the rising smoke. (I wasn’t afraid the smoke would flood the whole dungeon…but being anywhere in that room certainly didn’t feel safe.)

In the corridor, we found our companions weren’t having a dull morning, either. A huge, green, humanoid creature with ugly tusks (I knew it was a troll from my studies, but it’s the first I’ve ever seen in real life) was attacking Cuddles, and Heiron was having trouble firing at it through all the friendlies.

Raven and Ezekiel charged into battle (Raven with a javelin that caught the troll square in the shoulder) while Cuddles gave an angry-sounding hiss and bit him.

The troll took another swing at Cuddles, smacking him so hard he flipped over and gurgled on the floor…but by then I finally had my shot lined up, and nailed it through the throat.

Mikael ran to Cuddles, while Ezekiel pounced on the troll and pinned it to the ground with his mace. He called for someone with oil, and Wonillon (after searching it for anything interesting) doused it with a flask.

Lydia lit it up, and we watched the green pile of limbs turn into charcoal.

Well, the others agreed with me that that was quite enough excitement for one day, so we limped back to the guard quarters to heal up.

(I wonder what our captured guard thought of us. Not like my pride hangs on his opinion, but it does seem to be true that we are not prepared for some of the things here.)

The woman we rescued was shaking a little bit, and said she didn’t want to die. A reasonable sentiment…I for one was never keen to go off exploring and fighting with an innocent civilian along.

Whatever else, this turn of events has convinced Ezekiel that we need to return to town for a bit. We can get the woman to safety, heal up a little, and turn our captured guard over to someone responsible (although I admit he’s been a valuable resource to explain what we’re seeing down here. That’s the trouble when we kill important people too fast).

Wonillon had these skinny little knives he calls “crampons” he can use to wedge shut the door into the western guardroom. We should be able to sleep a little better, and with all of us in the same area, whoever’s on watch will have an easier time of it. (Lydia and the woman, of course, have the private room.)

Hard to believe that just this morning, we were eating this same cold mutton for breakfast. At least when we’re spending some serious time recovering, we can light a fire and warm it up.

Maybe Ezekiel will use this time to get more info out of the prisoner? It’s not what we’re good at…but hey, neither is breathing in smoke.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….good and evil are different

After dinner, I dragged all the dead bodies into an alcove in the second barracks, and covered them all with some sheets. They may be evil, and kidnapping innocents, and serving dark deities, but we can still treat their bodies with respect.

I’m sure they wouldn’t do the same for us, but that’s why we’re different than they are.

Anyway, I must have been really tired after that. When Ezekiel got me up for my watch, I was dead asleep. Thankfully, nothing exciting happened at that time – but when Yeti and Wonillon took over, they did encounter something. Continue reading

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.

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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