That stupid sheep toy of Ezekiel’s…
We spent three long days in the VIP quarters, letting our front-line fighters heal up. Mikael and I had plenty of time to cook things with the vegetables from the storeroom, and Raven kept trying to get us to drink some of his looted wine. (He shouldn’t have smirked like that while he was offering it.)
Well, finally we were all healed up, and started preparing our gear to go back out there.
Ezekiel had this little sheep toy made out of sheepskin – he said he got it from his mentor (y’know, the one who told him about Ao his deity). As he was tucking it in the top of his pack, he unrolled that scroll of Cure Light Wounds we found earlier, and the writing still wasn’t faded from it.
“Praise Ao,” he said. “I still have Cure Light Wounds spells!”
Yeah. That was Ezekiel.
We headed out again – across the lake in the boat, past the dead bodies of the lizardmen we killed, and into the twisty hallway beyond.
“Do you smell something?” asked Ezekiel. “Something like rotting human flesh?”
All Kelsier and I smelled was the lizard stench – which is pretty powerful.
As Lancell turned the corner up ahead, he cried, “I think I found your rotting flesh, Ezekiel!”
Ezekiel, of course, was beside him and exclaimed, “That’s a lot of zombies! Everybody back up to the door!”
Well, I was already at the door, since I hadn’t gotten into the hallway yet, so Kelsier and I readied our bows while the Magic Users backed up past us.
“What are you doing with that little sheep toy, Ezekiel?” asked Mikael, peeking around the corner.
Next thing I heard was Lancell exclaiming.
“Wow! All clear,” came Ezekiel’s voice.
Ezekiel. Performing Turn Undead. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE WORLD EZEKIEL ACTUALLY HAD A SPELL??
The rest of us crowded forward to where the passage opened into a room, where Ezie and Lancell were laughing and shaking their heads.
“I figured it out,” cried Ezekiel, waving the sheep thing over his head. “This Lamb is the holy symbol of Ao, and He granted us the power to Turn these Undead into dust!”
I looked around, but all I saw was a lot of dust piles. Raven made a holy gesture to Merikka, and Mikael looked impressed, too.
(Someone asked if they were the guards we had killed, and Lancell thought that, from the wound placement and the clothes, that they probably were.)
I…I still can’t get it. Ezekiel spent all those years praying for spells, and never got any, and now – boom, he turned fifteen zombies into dust just by showing them his
sheep toy Holy Lamb Symbol.
We kept going. The only path onward was a staircase, leading further down. I grunted something to Kelsier about how many levels this “dungeon” had…it’d be just our luck for Explictika Defilas to bury herself under 100 levels of charmed minions.
This time, none of us slid down the stairs, and we reached the bottom safely. There, we found a huge mud puddle, but for once it had stepping stones across. We chose the path with the most dry land, and that led us to yet another underground lake (no boat) and a door, which we got open.
Behind the door…something that looked pretty undead. Parts of its face were falling off, and it shuffled toward Ezekiel and Lancell with a groan.
Lancell stabbed it with the magic short sword we looted off the guard-officers earlier this week, and the second time Ezekiel waved his sheep toy at it, it kind of whimpered and turned around, letting Lancell cut it down.
Coming off the corridor beyond, we found a row of cages, with four human prisoners.
Ezekiel (of course – Mr. Minister) introduced himself and started Raven and Kelsier working on the locks of the cages.
(I was all paranoid that they were mind-controlled, but the man explained when they were taken to the snake-lady and she said they would be her slaves, that he said “no” – and the little boy and girl who were there said the same thing. There was also a woman who didn’t say much.)
The man is from Hook Hill, while the two kids are from Orlane (surprise!) and their parents were charmed by Her (the carpenter – be cautious when we return).
We couldn’t get all the locks open, but that’s when I remembered the turnip sandwiches I had stashed in my pack – and Raven handed over some of his truly terrible wine. Your heart really goes out to those people when you see them staring at that food like it’s the best stuff they’ve ever seen.
Ezekiel gave the man his spare mace, and Raven gave the woman one of his daggers that he looted from the armory upstairs.
We all decided we weren’t in a position to escort them to a safer place, so after giving them food and torches, Ramne “locked” the door in that special wizard way. Now nothing can get at the prisoners, and if we lived we could go back for them.
Yeah…if we lived…
That corridor ended in another door. Lancell and Ezekiel opened it, and immediately took fighting stances.
Through the door, I could see someone in flashy robes with a decked-out hammer, and someone in rags rushing forward to engage us.
Kelsier and I nocked arrows, while Raven zipped around us and threw a dagger.
As the fight spread out, I was able to move into the room and saw the altar behind the cleric – yet another snake-lady statue sitting on it.
Raven tore down the room and ducked behind the priest and tried to punch him (you wouldn’t know it from looking at his robes, but that guy can really move!).
Well, Raven didn’t totally distract the cleric from the rest of us on the other side of the room, because he waved his hands and said some words and then I couldn’t see.
Apart from a few cries of surprise, it suddenly got really quiet – except for some grunts from Raven.
I blinked as the room lit up again – the door standing against the wall, behind Ramne, was shining brightly.
I got another arrow off and dinged the cleric. While Ezekiel and Lancell pounded on the assistant, Mikael ran forward and clonked the cleric a good one with his staff – all while Raven was darting back and forth, trying to keep away from the cleric and keep him off balance (and took a couple hard whacks for his trouble).
And then – it was over. Lancell stepped forward and finished off the cleric, and we stood breathing heavily and looking at each other.
Ezekiel whipped out his scroll and stood over the bleeding Raven, while we checked out the cleric’s gear.
His hammer was fancy, for sure, with the head fashioned like a snake head – but Lancell declared it less effective than what we had.
Ezekiel did find some keys on him, which we took.
Something about the altar didn’t look right to me (and not just in the Evil sense). I was going over that – and the back wall – trying to decide what I was feeling when Raven took the idol and hurled it against the altar – smash! (Can’t blame him, since this creature came and charmed his over-priests and defiled his goddess’s temple, but it is becoming a fetish.)
Smashing the statue on the altar must have shaken something loose, because a wooden panel slid down – and next thing you know, Kelsier ran forward and was helping me open a secret door.
Raven was completely healed by Ezie’s scroll (in fact, he looked a tad younger than he had before), so Lancell and Ezekiel strode forward to take point.
And through the secret door…just inside…oh, my…
It was Her. In the flesh. One hundred times bigger than the statues we’d seen, and that much uglier, too…coily snake body and a woman’s head.
She whipped around to look at us, gave a funny little smile, and stared at Lancell.
They charged. Ramne muttered something, then yelled, “Stay close to me if you can!”
Mikael waved his hands in a Druid spell, and then her outline glittered and shone, like my instincts were honing in on the shot.
She snarled and lashed out at Ezekiel…and…he dropped to the ground like a stone.
Jill fired her Magic Missile (it shot past me all fiery and white) and Lancell struck a blow that would have taken off a limb if the slimy freak had limbs.
With Raven’s loud prayers to Merikka in my ears, Kelsier and I took our shots – and landed arrows smack in that scaly hide.
And then Master Ramne said some strange words in a kind of echoey voice, and I flinched as a searing white bolt of lightening shot past my shoulder and hit Explictika Defilas in her uncanny, woman-ish face.
She shrieked, and twisted, and shriveled like an earthworm, and flopped on the ground with a long exhalation.
I think we all stood rooted for a split second.
Then I was kneeling over Ezekiel…and he wasn’t breathing…and I dug the Cure scroll out of his pack, but I couldn’t even pronounce the words, let alone cast them. I asked Ramne if he had a poison cure (and he didn’t) and Lancell (he has a “Cure Disease” because of course he does, but nothing for naga poison) and Mikael (who thinks he might in like three levels but not yet).
Kelsier was digging in the pile of treasure that Evil Defilas used as a sitting cushion, and came back with a leather bag.
“Look,” he said, and put his arm in all the way, and then took it out. “There’s a lot of gold here, too, and skulls…but we’re probably not interested in the skulls.”
Yeah. Great. Dandy. Gold and new boots and lots of other weird stuff. I did dig through the pile for a potion of some kind, but of course one bottle looks much like another.
And every time I came back to Ezekiel, he hadn’t moved. I don’t think his heart is beating.
Raven folded himself into that monk-ish pose, and started praying to Merikka: “I don’t know Ezekiel’s God Ao, but you know Him, Merikka – so would you please petition Him on behalf of His servant Ezekiel?”
Guess I’ll do the same with Ehlonna.
WHY? So I get You don’t care much about having clerics, since You put so little effort into them – and never gave Ezekiel spells – but then You turn around and honor Your symbol (if that’s what it is) and let a brand new, untrained cleric ABSOLUTELY DISINTEGRATE fifteen zombies, and then You just let Your cleric DIE?
I’m so confused.
Ezekiel was kind of bossy, and also straight-laced, and just had to be involved in everything, and had to make himself the one to talk to everybody (like citizens and stuff) and he somehow thought I couldn’t possibly handle myself (like being nineteen somehow makes me immature) and now after all this time telling me about a God that nobody else thinks exists (but maybe He does? how would I know) after all that he’s just…gone.
One slash from – You Know Who. And now You Know Who is dead and rotting, and we’ve chopped the head off her whole cult…but Ezekiel is just lying there and he didn’t even twitch when I waved his “holy symbol” in his face.
Stupid, stupid Ezekiel, who thinks he has to teach me how to properly check the enemies’ pockets, and properly make turnip stew, and like I can’t handle being in the front with Lancell because Kelsier is way stronger than I am and so what if he is? I’m not a kid, and Ezekiel doesn’t have to be in charge of everything –
EXCEPT NOW HE’S NOT IN CHARGE AND HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?
And anyway, Gracious Ehlonna, please pass on – assuming Ao is the great God of the Gods who oversees everything – please just mention to Him that this really doesn’t make sense and I’m confused so thanks…if only there was a Resurrection or something…
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