Dear Diary…Dedicated to Nori

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

We reconvened after a week. When I got back into town, I found the others at the Welcome Wench. Apparently Mikael also spent a week “in nature,” sequestered in the Grove with Druid Master Geru – and they don’t talk about the “druidy” stuff they do.

Sounds like Ezekiel and Lydia hit the books all week – or rather, Ezekiel focused on his one book, while Lydia went to ask Master Bern questions at the tower.

She’s learned Continual Light – as well as some other cool things – so that’ll be helpful! Ezekiel has asked her to put light on our two shields.

Lydia asked me “How were the elves?” and Mikael mentioned that he actually learned Elvish, but hasn’t really had the chance to try it out yet.

I’m not sure it’s something I can articulate yet. I was really struck how they described everything – the forests, the creatures, the trees – as a gift from Ehlonna. It makes sense…and fosters a sense of gratitude.

Raven says the Lady Master Monk was heading to Orlane once she left here, so he was able to send a donation with her to the Temple of Merikka. He also says he knows how to fall twenty feet without getting hurt (he says it’s in the roll at the bottom) and made us all go outside to watch.

A young man came up to us while we were hanging out (apparently he’s the son of the village elder) and asked us if we would kindly come to a meeting at the elder’s house that evening.

That got Raven and Ezekiel talking about the situation. It was nice to bury ourselves in other concerns for a while, but now we have to remember why we’re here.

What were those weapons being stored for? There were far too many for the number of “bandits” we fought in the dungeon, but who else could be involved?

After Orlane, it’s even possible that some people in the town are “bad.” But it’s hard to tell…everyone knows that we took men-at-arms to the Moat-house, and brought back a huge load of weapons. After all, the shop-keeper questioned me about it.

(Speaking of him, Ezekiel and Lydia – and maybe Raven – also spent time getting all our treasure appraised and converted, so when the rest of us got back, they had our shares all divided. So I can rest easy that the presents I gave the elves and Elmo was money I was actually entitled to give away. Fair’s fair – he let me try out some of his gear part of the week, which was super cool.)

(Huh…”gifts” again…)

Anyway, we’ll head to the elder’s house after an early supper, and see what he has to say. I sure hope he approves of what we’ve been up to around here.

****

Well, we had a very interesting meeting at the elder’s house.

Sounds like the entire village council was there — Druid Geru, Brother Celmert, another Cleric of Cuthbert (who we figured out pretty quickly is Canon Turjon), Sir Rufus, Master Bern, Constable Fred Renton, Master Osler Gundigoot – innkeeper of the Welcome Wench – Mitch the Miller, and of course the village elder himself.

They told us they’ve done a lot of thinking after we caught that Drow Cleric in the Moat-house. They say they’re worried that things are stirring again – and even though none of them were personally on the scene when the Temple of Elemental Evil was broken and sealed, they don’t like the idea that someone might be trying to open it up…or even worse, has already done so.

They gave us some background on this whole thing, which was quite useful: apparently when the heroes and armies of Veluna, Verbobanc, and Furiundy came to smash the armies of monsters and humanoids who were swarming from the temple, they imprisoned the demoness responsible within the temple.

They also left a cryptic poem behind – I guess to give anyone who came afterward a hint for how to finish the job, if possible.

The elder is going to transcribe the poem and send us our own copy for reference, but here’s the gist:

Evil Demon Goddess (of Fungus) built the Temple and made a “Key” with her Evil Boyfriend. The Key is some sort of bridge (maybe?) but is made for destroying the Good.

When the Temple fell, the Demoness was left behind, and they broke their own Key (I think?).

The good guys hid the four pieces of the Key (and then there was something about sea – earth – fire – sky), to keep any bad guys from reassembling it and freeing the Demoness and her Bad Boyfriend.

So, there might be a way to reassemble the Key and use it to reach the Demoness and/or her Boyfriend and defeat them for realsies, but more likely they’d be unleashed which is why any mortal human followers they have would be wanting to hunt down the pieces of the Key (why the humans would want to follow a Demon-Deity, the poem didn’t say).

Ezekiel says I’ve got some parts wrong, but that’s close enough for now. He also says the Bad Boyfriend is probably someone so incredibly powerful and horrifying that we shouldn’t even be saying his name…you know, the one who’s super old, and has bound himself to the Prime Material Plane.

This all sounds very terrible – especially when Canon Turjon or someone speculated whether this demon-duo has an alliance with the Spider Goddess of the Drow.

However, the council told us all they’re really looking for us to do at this point is investigate the Temple (and pretty please tell them no one’s been messing around and trying to re-open it and free the Demoness).

There might even be more clues at the Temple about where to find the four pieces of the Key (although I agree with Mikael, that the only reason that makes sense for hunting the Key is so we can break one of the pieces and keep the Demon-Duo from ever using it again. Ezekiel asked “couldn’t they just make another one” and we pointed out that it took both of them to make the first one, and now the Demoness is locked up, and the Evil Boyfriend is Somewhere Else Not There).

Constable Renton said that “Elmo says we’ve been getting quite powerful,” so they’d all be grateful if we’d do this thing for them.

I think Ezekiel and I especially got a little bashful at that, since it’s always nice to hear that someone kinda big and scary thinks you might turn out all right.

Ezekiel kinda asked whether Elmo would want to come with us – but we all agreed that we’d made quite a splash by trucking all those weapons into town, and it might be smart for Elmo to not be too tight with us for a while.

One of them (I don’t remember who) said that if we thought we might need back-up, the blacksmith in Nulb might come with us for proper compensation.

(Fortunately the blacksmith is one of the people in Nulb who doesn’t hate us.)

Master Osler said that, ten years ago when this all went down, he’d reached as far as the outer walls of the Temple with the armies, but never set foot inside. However, he described the earthquakes and downpours and random fires that hit back in the “bad old days,” and I really hope we don’t have to face anything that dramatic.

Even Mikael looked upset when he heard about that. Upsetting nature, overturning balances, putting things in their wrong spots…that kind of thing. Chaotic Evil just ruins it for everybody else.

I can tell Ezekiel is pumped to put any up-starts back in their place. Sort of like that Spider-Goddess…if she must exist, she might have the decency to stay in the Under-Dark, where she belongs.

****

Good first day. Got up in time for Raven and Lydia to go buy us some more rations (since I think they’re the best bargainers among us) and Raven came back with some saddlebags for the horses, which is very smart of him.

We weren’t sure we were going to keep the two horses from the Moat-house, but so far it’s working out and I think it’s a really good idea. Ezekiel can ride one, which makes him go at a more reasonable pace, and Lydia is riding the other one, because she’s a girl (I guess).

We reached the campsite Elmo showed us so long ago. No sign of bugbears so far. Our hope is to go straight through Nulb and head for the Temple without running into trouble.

We did discuss whether or not to talk to the blacksmith at this time, but Ezekiel thinks we’ll just do some quiet reconnaissance to see if it’d be worth his time. After all, the HOPE – the pretty-please-just-tell-me hope – is that nothing is wrong and everything is fine and ship-shape and still locked up and abandoned.

I can taste it in the air…there’ll be frost tomorrow. Better than snow, which is about what we could hope for at this time of year.

I think Nori is teasing the horses (still no names agreed upon), but Raven is “meditating” so I can’t ask him for sure.

****

I can hardly believe all that’s happened.

When we started out this morning, mists rose from the Gnarly Forest, just visible beyond Nulb.

We made it through the town without clashing with anyone (still smells as bad as ever) and took the road that heads south-south-west out of town.

It was immediately evident that this road is much less used – there are some old wagon ruts, but what with the weeds and tracks in the mud, I’m pretty sure nothing but foot traffic has been down there recently. I couldn’t make a guess as to what that traffic is at this point.

We reached the Temple grounds by late morning…and right away we knew why everyone treats this place with such horror. Why just its mere presence would leech evil and chaos into the surrounding landscape.

The Temple is surrounded by a wall about twenty feet high and maybe thirty feet thick. It’s broken down in places and filled with holes from siege engines…but it’s still a massive structure that seems to loom over the surroundings.

Even the trees are skeletal and shriveled. You’d assume they’re all dead, except that they still haven’t fallen over in the wind and rain.

The shrubs are twisted, blacked…overgrown mounds of dark weeds and grey stone cover the ground. The very grass is disgusting. Here and there, we spotted skulls and bones of humans and humanoids, bleached by the elements. I’m just glad the horses didn’t bolt right there.

And yet, with all that decay and unhealthiness, huge black ravens wheeled far above us. I wondered at the time what they could be hunting in this wasteland.

Ezekiel pointed out the remains of a tower at the other end of the wall, and we started toward it…but the wall was longer than we had first assumed, and we must have gone a mile to travel from one corner to the other.

Right away, we spotted two black birds that looked like crows or ravens, perched on top of the tower and staring down at us. Ezekiel thought there was something unnaturally about them, like they were an illusion, or like they were something else pretending to be ravens.

Mikael took a look at them, and said that, yes, they certainly appeared to be ravens.

They weren’t the only weird thing about this place. I at least had started to catch dark things moving in the corners of my vision – except that, when I tried to look at them, there was nothing there.

When I mentioned it, the others seemed to know what I was talking about…but no one seemed really confident about what was going on.

Raven climbed up the wall, and pointed out that some of the breaks would let us climb through pretty easily – only we’d have to leave the horses on the outside.

I wasn’t very comfortable about that, but we decided to leave Nori on guard, since she was so good at that. Wow. She sure was pretty good at that…

So we picketed the horses (although if I was a horse I wouldn’t want to eat that vegetation) and climbed through the wall after Raven.

As soon as we did so the two ravens on top of the tower started cawing loudly – which of course I’ve learned is probably a warning signal. But I didn’t know who or what they were warning, so it didn’t do me much good knowing that.

The courtyard beyond the wall is absolutely trashed and overgrown. Every weed has thorns, or burrs, or stinks like dog, or looks (and feels) like poison oak.

And that’s not even mentioning the Temple itself. At least, I assume that huge building was the Temple…it looked –

[rough sketch, scratched out]

I can’t even begin to describe. It’s like it has a shape that doesn’t belong on our plane of existence. I’m dreading when we actually have to go that far.

But we had our hands full where we were.

We started by examining the tower on the north-east corner of the wall, since Ezekiel thought it would be a good vantage point – and also didn’t want to leave an unexplored space at our back where something could sneak up on us.

The ravens on top were still carrying on, so I pulled my shield around and got ready. Arrow slits framed the doorway, and I didn’t trust the blackness beyond.

Ezekiel and Mikael tried peaking in the arrow slits, with the help of Ezekiel’s newly-lit shield, but they couldn’t see anything useful.

The door itself was at the top of a stoop of shallow steps, and chained heavily on the outside. Raven examined the chains, and said he doesn’t think (in his professional opinion) that they had been handled for a long time.

That was good enough for me – since we’re not here to break into everything and kill everything, after all, but just to find evidence of anybody else trying to break in. We’ll see if Ezekiel is satisfied with that.

Anyway, next Raven tried climbing the tower, but before he reached the top those two obnoxious birds pounced on him, and he had to slide back down again (and, all right, his monk-ish roll at the bottom was pretty cool).

The raven-birds came after us, and Mikael smashed one so hard with his staff that it bounced against the wall of the tower.

I brought my bow up and winged it, while Ezekiel called out, “These might not be real birds – but if they are, Animal Friendship would work on them!”

And that was perfect, because we’d just been talking about how Mikael could tame another animal friend if he wanted to, and how it might be smart for him to find a bigger creature than Nori as the monsters we were fighting kept getting bigger.

Poor Nori…

Well, Mikael called out to the second bird, and it came and perched on an outcropping of wall near him and listened to him with its head cocked.

The other bird tried to dive-bomb his head, but I took it out with another arrow, and then we all stood and watched him convince the bird to be his friend.

I guess we were all kinda amazed to see it happen. I’m not sure exactly what he was saying to it, but finally it started rubbing its head against his shoulder and cooing.

Makes me kinda jealous, actually.

Well, I pulled my arrows out of its brother, and Raven went to climb the tower again to try to get a good view of our surroundings.

If we had only known…

He had barely climbed onto the top when he leaped dramatically off again…followed by a black swarm of wings exploding into the air.

Raven kicked himself off the side of the tower and rolled into the middle of us as a cloud of raven-birds dropped down toward us, claws extended.

It really was a dramatic moment. Lydia agrees with me.

While I launched some more arrows into the birds, Lydia threw an egg into the air and said, “Boom!” Green smoke – or maybe more like a green cloud – filled the air…but fortunately, it didn’t drift down to where we were.

I shot a bird through the throat and ducked to avoid the birds raining out of the sky.

One of the birds who apparently didn’t breathe in the stink went for Mikael’s new pet, and I was worried for a little bit that if she went flying around to counter-attack, I couldn’t tell that she wasn’t an enemy bird.

Ezekiel, of course, figured out that if he attacked the birds gagging and fluttering on the ground, he could avoid that problem, and he went stomping back and forth with his mace.

Raven stabbed a bird through with his spear…but don’t think they’re delicate little things. Lydia got a pretty vicious gash from one of them – and after all, their wingspans are like six feet across! They may be real animals, but they’re certainly not like the ravens you might find in your back garden. They’re twisted somehow.

They’re huge, and vicious, and determined.

I kept dropping them with arrows, but not nearly fast enough. Mikael lost a big chunk of skin to one, and they seemed to think Ezekiel looked especially juicy (or threatening) and wouldn’t leave him alone.

Then, my bow slipped from my hands, so I drew my sword to save time. Maybe Raven had a similar idea, because I saw him punching at the birds with his bare hands.

I caught a glimpse of Ezekiel, dropped to the ground, but before I could worry I also saw Mikael reaching out toward him, chanting his Heal Light Wounds spell.

The stunned birds were just pulling themselves together and launching into the air again when Lydia pulled out a SECOND egg and threw it up after them.

One of the birds started coughing and dropped to the ground right in front of me…it looked to me like its back was broken by that.

Just as well for me, because when I tried to swing my sword, I felt it hit something…maybe a bone, maybe a rock. I didn’t really have time to check…the balance was off, so I shoved it into the scabbard and snatched my bow up.

I heard scrabbling on the stone wall, and caught a glimpse through the cloud of angry birds of Nori, pouncing to the attack. She must have heard us fighting, and come to defend her Best Friend.

What if she hadn’t? What indeed? Well, we can never really know how these things “would have” gone. That’s what Alpheus used to say…that you can’t waste too much living in the “would haves.”

An arrow bounced off the wall of the tower and tried to hit me in the face (but didn’t). Just about then, I ran out of arrows, and while I was dumping out my backpack for my spare bundle, I saw Ezekiel quaffing a potion and Lydia swinging at a bird with her silver dagger. (She totally pierced it through the rib cage and sent it spinning into the weeds, twitching. So glad she’s on our side, if you know what I mean.)

I started snatching arrows from the ground, and caught a glimpse of Mikael smashing a bird to the ground with his staff.

Lydia said some words, and a horse appeared out of nowhere, and she sent it running. There were only one or two birds left at this point, and they started chasing after the horse.

You’d think it’d be easy to track after something just going in circles, but obviously it wasn’t since Raven and I both missed, and Mikael and Lydia had to work together to put the last enemies down.

Finally, all the bad birds were dead. Lydia’s horse trotted over to her, and disappeared.

Ezekiel staggered forward, bleeding from several places, and told us to clear out…looking mad enough to eat his own mace.

Raven says he tried to unlock the chains outside the tower, as a refuge from the attacking birds, but he couldn’t get it undone. He says he’s glad, though, since he heard something laughing from inside while we were fighting.

I hustled to get my party members back over the wall…although Mikael took a little longer than the others.

I found him kneeling by Nori. He said he’d used Cure Light Wounds on her, and she still wasn’t moving. His new raven friend (says her name is Corbi) was also pretty badly hurt, but he’s got her wrapped up in bandages to keep the bleeding down and the breaks contained, and so far she’s still breathing.

We couldn’t say the same for Nori…especially since she’s, y’know, a spider, and they don’t breathe the same way. It felt wrong to just leave her there, after all she’d done for us, but we didn’t want to spend too much time there, and frankly I had my hands full helping Ezekiel across the broken wall.

I would have said Ezekiel was the worst hurt, since he actually lost consciousness once, but I’m not sure. Raven did his best to walk normally, but he did sway a little.

I asked Lydia if Mikael could ride with her, and of course she said yes, so I was able to get them through Nulb all right without having to stop for anyone.

I was kinda scared we were going to have trouble, since as we came up on the town square we saw flames rising. The smithy was on fire, and a huge crowd was gathered around it, but we managed to skirt the crowd and move on, minding our own business. (After all, it wasn’t our business…and we were in no condition to give help, even if it was needed. I can only imagine how badly a fire could spread in a ramshackle place like Nulb.) I hope everything works out all right…

When we finally reached the campsite, Ezekiel explained one of the reasons he looked like he was trying to eat his own teeth. Apparently the potion he drank was supposed to be for “Animal Control” (which for obvious reasons would have been Super Helpful), but apparently it was for FISH only (I’m not sure how he knows this, and he doesn’t look in the mood to tell me).

I feel much better now that I’ve got them all back to our campsite here. Frankly, none of the guys look fit to swing a weapon for any length of time, and Lydia has blood on her head-scarf, though she’s trying to not make a big deal about it.

I have a scratch or two here and there, but this poison oak is what’s going to drive me out of my mind.

It’s only afternoon, but we’ll have to stop and rest. In fact, we’ll probably have to go back to Homlette…to buy me more arrows, if for no other reason. I’m so glad I had a reserve supply, but I’ve never had to crack into them before.

I’ll be really mad if my short sword was damaged. It’s the magic short sword we got for fighting the dwarves, and has been super useful.

Well, maybe I can figure out some base defenses – like a barrier of sharp sticks – so I can keep watch and we can not get killed by bugbears in the night.

Ezekiel is poking the fire and growling about how he couldn’t even hit birds that are literally flopping on the ground.

But, you know what, if Ezekiel has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t blame your deity just because things didn’t go the way you wanted them to.

Nori was a great spider. She was a wonderful gift to us. She died engaged in battle for the defense of her master.

And if Corbi’s brothers and sisters are anything to go by, she will be a great gift to our party, as well. She does look kinda cute and pathetic bundled up beside Mikael.

All the humans are still alive, and that is also a gift. I do not intend to squander it.


Find the previous entry here.

To read the start of the Homlette adventure, go here.

Subscribe to the mailing list for book updates!

Dear Diary…complications, and complicated things

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

Let’s just say it’s been a crazy couple days.

Let’s see. We were in the dungeon, and the evil Drow cleric was disarmed, dis-armored, bound, gagged, and blind-folded (can you tell he made us nervous?).

We searched the dead bandits and their living quarters…we recovered a decent amount of money, and I found that one of the lieutenants had been using a long bow. (Y’know, a long bow that wasn’t BROKEN – so that’s mine now.)

We catalogued the weapons, and discovered the armory that had been moved from upstairs was here…so that’s a big relief. I’d hate to have to track down another secret base.

There was also plenty of brandy, weak wine, salted meat, and other dry foods…so I had plenty to make dinner with.

Elmo and Lydia helped themselves to a couple of the couches in the cleric’s room (where there were also dishes of treats and other things).

Ezekiel took off his magic chain-mail of Merikka – that he’s been wearing since we cleaned up that mess in Orlane – and offered it to me – since he figures he’ll be better protected wearing this black plate armor. I hope he covers up the spider somehow, unless we make it clear it’s Nori now.

Well, I saw no reason not to upgrade to Ezekiel’s chainmail. Also, my poor old shield doesn’t have Continual Light on it anymore, so there’s no reason for me to prefer it over the magical shield.

Ezekiel gave Mikael the cleric’s staff that hit Elmo so hard, and when Mikael cast Detect Magic he confirmed that it is indeed magical (so are the plate armor and the phylactery, but not the cleric’s mace or the black opal he was wearing).

Ezekiel and Lydia examined the phylactery, and they think it’s something to do with paralysis – Ezekiel thinks it’s a very rare artifact called a Phylactery of Action that protects from paralysis…and I figured, “just so long as it doesn’t cause paralysis.”

Ezekiel also asked Spugnoir about the little spat with Lydia, but all he would say is that there was fighting, and he was scared, and then Lydia burned him, and as he was running away Raven grabbed him and slammed him.

Well, we’ll see…

I barricaded the door at the south end of the corridor with a table and barrel, and so while there were some sounds in the night, nothing bothered us.

When Raven woke us all up at the end of his watch, we got up and considered how we would get all this junk out of there.

Oh, yes! The “bandits” had two light horses in a stable off their main room, so we could use them to carry at least some of the stuff.

Mikael cast his Heal Light Wounds spells, which got some of us feeling more like ourselves, and then (after much discussion) Mikael, Raven, and I went out the door to examine the grate and see if we could raise it, since we certainly couldn’t get the horses up the ladder, and we weren’t sure how else we would get out.

Well…

No sooner had we stepped into the outer passage, than I was sure I smelled the outdoors…mud and plants and that indescribable quality that speaks of outdoor spaces.

So we turned to the east – down the corridor we hadn’t been before – and within 400 feet it had sloped up enough to emerge among boulders and weeds. I could see the sky through the tree-branches above our heads.

Raven climbed a tree and said he could just see the Moat-house building off to the west, which meant we should be able to find the road pretty easily. In fact, this was probably the entrance the cult actually used, which would explain why the main floor of the Moat-house still looked so uninhabited.

We briefly discussed pretending that we had worked long and hard at the grate first, but I figured that would make us sound more stupid than we actually were.

Anyway, with that worry out of the way, we returned to our companions and started preparing to load as many of the weapons on the horses as we could. It was still early enough in the morning, we figured we could make it as far as the tower, and then return with a cart and maybe some men-at-arms to clear out the rest of the armory before nightfall.

Well, I was right in the middle of figuring that out when Elmo was shaking me awake.

According the Lydia and Mikael, Ezekiel had just un-gagged the Drow to give him a drink of water. Spugnoir cast a spell, and suddenly everyone else fell asleep – except the Drow cleric, who also said something in a strange language.

Mikael ordered Nori to “catch” Spugnoir, so she wrapped him up in spiderweb while Lydia woke up Ezekiel and Elmo (who were the other people in the cleric’s room at the time).

Ezekiel checked the Drow cleric, and found him not breathing, with no heartbeat.

“Oh, very funny,” said Ezekiel. “There’s a Cleric spell called Feign Death.” And he dragged him out so we could load him onto one of the horses.

So we finally set out – Raven carrying Spugnoir, after Ezekiel had taken away the scroll we got from the crayfish’s lair (that just sounds odd). Apparently Spugnoir had been carrying the scroll, but Ezekiel says Lydia can have it now.

I still can’t figure out Spugnoir. If he was afraid of being attacked in the dungeon, why put his party to sleep? If he wanted to help the Drow cleric escape, why do it there – when the cleric was wounded and bound, and might not escape being put to sleep – and they would still have to get out to the road to escape?

Eh, it’s not my problem anymore. Lydia and Mikael (and Nori of course) didn’t fall for it, and they’re out of our hands now.

We reached the fort in pretty good time, only three hours, and we waited at the future site of the gatehouse while one of the men there sent for Sir Rufus.

We’d put one of the decorative rugs over the cleric, so no suspicious characters could just casually see he was there, and Ezekiel gave Rufus a peek from under the rug.

I can’t tell if Sir Rufus was surprised to see a Drow Cleric of Lolth show up on his doorstep or not.

But he did let us bring our comatose cleric and our load of weapons up to the tower, where he called out Bern (apparently he’s a “Most Worshipful Mage”) and asked him to cast dispel magic.

Well, Master Bern did, while some of the men there helped unload the weapons which we were turning over to them (not like we could use that many, after all).

When Master Bern was done with his spell, the Drow still didn’t seem to have a pulse, but Ezekiel suggested they lock him up securely just in case.

We also turned Spugnoir over to them. There was a lot of discussion about that – putting us to sleep is pretty rude, even if you could call his fight with Lydia a “terrible misunderstanding” – and we decided that we definitely didn’t want him talking about what was going on at the Moat-house. So Sir Rufus agreed to lock him up for a while, after confiscating his spell-book.

Ezekiel also asked for a cart to go retrieve the rest of the weapons before anyone else got there, and Sir Rufus 1) not only gave us a cart, but 2) four mounted men-at-arms to assist us, and 3) horses for all of us.

I guess that’s what happens when you have actual resources!!

With so much help, it didn’t take long at all to get the rest of the armory safely into the hands of Rufus, and then Elmo went home – after agreeing to return with us to the dungeon tomorrow. Ezekiel and Mikael have some kind of scheme to get past the grate, and we don’t want to put off getting through there too long, just in case there are more prisoners to be rescued or anything pressing like that.

Our return to the Welcome Wench was a little dramatic.

As we approached, we noticed a huge scythe leaning by the door. Raven examined it, and found the blade covered with agricultural scenes from different seasons – he said the depictions of harvest were especially well done.

And right there, he announced that whoever this guy was, he liked him.

Well, we went inside, and looked for a table. The early-afternoon crowd seemed especially heavy to me, but two people especially stood out.

One was a woman in the robes of Merikka with bobbed black hair.

She was sitting with a dwarf in plate armor – and it was kind of hard to miss him, because he started yelling at Lydia to take off her veil. Apparently he’d heard about a party like us – with a funny-looking cleric and the “ugliest girl you ever saw” (he said it, I didn’t, because of course he’s never seen Lydia’s fire-finger up close, if you know what I mean).

Ezekiel went over to talk to him (because of course), and the dwarf said he’s “Doug Rocksinmysox,” and he was hunting for Ezekiel Sentinel because some gnome in Veluna thought he’d be interested in this strange book they found.

Apparently Mr. Rocksinmysox (Raven couldn’t keep a straight face) was mining in the CrystalMysts, and unearthed this book in the middle of a silver vein. It’s a big leather book with clasps and strange writing…Mikael and Lydia both said they don’t even recognize the script.

Rocksinmysox said he’d throw in an arcane scroll in a case – Lydia got very excited, and says it’s Comprehend Languages – for 4,500 gold.

Well, of course I was thinking 1) this dwarf we’ve never heard of is 2) trying to sell us a book he “dug out of a silver vein” for the sum of 3) three times what I spent at my first Ranger school.

But Ezekiel was already rubbing his hands together and bouncing up and down, so I guess I’ll let him spend his share of the treasure as he sees fit. After all, we’ve recovered quite a lot…we’ll have to appraise the jewelry we got from the “bandits,” a silver serving set and a box of unguent we took from the cleric’s room, etc. but I’m not worried about that.

Mr. Osler is still giving us room on the house. I guess Fernok of Ferd was really annoying to him.

Oh, Raven says the lady monk just earned the title “Master” in Greyhawk, and she’ll be staying in town long enough he’s hoping to get in some training with her.

****

In the morning, Ezekiel and Mikael headed to the river to find some clay. I took the opportunity to go buy some more torches, since without our shining shields I wanted to make sure we had plenty of light.

The shopkeep was pretty talkative…he said he’d heard of our triumphant return with an armory-worth of weapons. I told him we found some “bad guys” that we killed…

He didn’t seem to have strong opinions about right and wrong, and I agreed that it’s not very practical to ask about the alignment of everybody who comes through your shop…but still, everyone has to have standards of some kind.

I wonder where the battle lines are drawn in Homlette…

Using our two new horses, we made pretty good time back to the Moat-house. I had hung a decorative rug by the entrance of the sloping passage, so it was a synch to find.

We had to leave the horses shortly afterwards, which slowed us down quite a lot. Ezekiel is super slow in his new armor – and even after Raven loaned him the Boots of Speed, he and I were still the slowest people in the party.

Well, we made it to the grate without encountering anything (although I thought I heard moaning off in the distance…undead?), and Mikael plastered his clay along the stone to the side of the grate and cast a spell.

Gotta say, it looked pretty cool. The stone actually…warped? shifted? changed shape?…anyway, it moved away from the grate just far enough that we could all squeeze past – even Ezekiel in his plate armor.

We followed this narrow corridor up to a secret door, and when Raven opened it, we found the tiny room with the twisting staircase – and the second secret door that opened into the ogre’s room (I hope some giant snake or something eats it soon, ’cause it’s really starting to reek).

I wasn’t sure why anyone would gate off this passage…Ezekiel had a theory, but I’m not sure I understand it.

Anyway, at least we’ve determined there’s nobody here waiting to be rescued.

We also made a sweep through the crypt again, and Elmo says there’s been nothing “with a body” in there since we were last there. Even Ezekiel agrees that ghosts are not our business, so we returned to town – taking a few of the nicer-looking rugs and furniture and other fancies from the Drow cleric’s room.

We got back to town just after sunset, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get our gems appraised and figure out who gets what treasure.

On the whole, though, it’s good to have something actually completed and accomplished.

****

As soon as he had his share of the cash, Ezekiel couldn’t wait to rush down to the bar and buy his new book.

He brought it – and the scroll – back up to our rooms, where Lydia said the scroll had five copies of the same spell on it…and she wanted to “try” to copy it into her spell-book before reading it for Ezekiel. (I wasn’t sure why she had to “try” to copy it, but maybe when the letters spin and flash in strange ways, even Magic Users have trouble.)

So the book is called “The Music of the Holy Ones,” and it talks about “Eru” – the “One” – the “Father of All” – who created the Holy Ones by thinking about them and taught them to sing together.

And they sang, and they sang changing music…and the Father of All listened to them.

Seems like there was a problem of some kind – some of the Holy Ones kept changing up the music, and confusing the others so that they stopped singing…in fact, there were three “storms” of music where the one called Mighty started up a totally different kind of music, and then the Father of All raised his hand, and the music changed in a way they didn’t expect.

There was something about an Immortal Fire, too…I didn’t catch all of it, and when Ezekiel tried to explain it to me I couldn’t really make out his notes. But he says he thinks it’s like what Mr. Prettypebbles (of Veluna) read to us out of the Book of All Gods…where all the gods were bowing down to something too bright to see.

Ezie and Lydia are going to go over it at least once more this week, and he’s going to try to take more complete notes. Lydia said that, even with the Comprehend Languages spell, she had trouble communicating what the book said into Common Speech.

Ezekiel is just so…passionate. He’s over at a table now, with a mug of ale and his “letters” that he’s always writing, but never mailing. Maybe I don’t quite get it, but there’s something about the fire in his eyes…

It makes me think of Mother, talking about Ehlonna. And it makes me wish I had been paying attention better when I was that age.

Elmo says he wants to take me into the forest to “show me some things.” He didn’t specify if “things” means footprints, or fighting moves.

I might as well, though. Ezekiel, obviously, is wrapped up in his studies, and Raven was last seen heading for the back yard with the lady monk.

Mikael mentioned he’d like to go ask Druid Master Geru some questions, and Lydia asked if she could go with him on her way to the tower. Says she’s got some questions for Master Bern.

Elmo says he knows where to find some elves, too…and he says they aren’t nearly so intimidating in person as they are in theory. Especially once he tells them that I serve Ehlenestra, too…Ehlonna as we would call her.

It might be nice to leave this cult business behind for a few days, and focus on some other things. I definitely need to do some bow drills again.


Find the previous entry here.

Find the start of the Homlette adventure here.

Subscribe to the mailing list for book updates!

Dear Diary…we do amazing stuff (no thanks to my bow)

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

We dropped off the mule-cart at the elder’s house on our way into town.

Ezekiel examined the vials he recovered from the ghoul tunnels – seven of them were sealed with the symbol of St. Cuthbert, and seemed to contain something clear, like holy water. The eighth one bore the symbol of Fultus, and the liquid inside seemed more glittery with shades of dark. Ezekiel thought it might be “Invisibility to Undead.”

Oh, and he thinks the scroll might be “Protection from Undead.” Ghouls pick ironic items to hoard.

We decided to return the vials of St. Cuthbert to the church, and Ezekiel dragged me along because he thought the cleric might heal me. Continue reading

Dear Diary…it takes all of us

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

Ezekiel talked with the rescued prisoners some more on our way back to town. He figured out that the tiny elven cloak we found in the ogre’s bedding must belong to the gnome, so he returned it to him.

Apparently gnolls have been bothering the gnomes, so Mr. Prettypebbles went to spy on them…but they caught him. He couldn’t give us any hints about other hide-outs the gnolls might have, and he says the gnolls weren’t wearing the “burning eye”…so they might not even be directly related to the cult we’re hunting.

We put them up in rooms at the Welcome Wench, which is only fair since Mr. Osler is still holding rooms for us “on the house” thanks to Lydia scaring off Fernok of Ferd. Continue reading

Dear Diary…the fighter is ACTUALLY useful (and also we ACTUALLY accomplish things!)

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

After a rest, we decided the day was still young, and we had a fair amount of the fortress to still explore.

We started with the passages at the south end of the great hall. There’s a staircase to the upper floors, but it’s so coated with dust and crushed stone I doubt anyone’s been up there for a long time – even if they could. Ezekiel made it to a landing partway up, but he said it was so full of debris and rubble there was no going further.

We investigated several rooms along the corridor there – Raven checking the doors for traps as we went. The first room had arrow slits facing the entrance-courtyard and lots of broken furniture.

Ezekiel was determined to find something, and dug behind a cabinet against the wall until he found a broadsword of good manufacture. It’s not really my speed, so we wrapped it in some of the cloth lying around and stuck it in the bag of holding. Continue reading

Dear Diary…we will never mention this—ever!

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

By the time we roused in the morning, Kobort had had breakfast and left on his horse. I wish him well.

As we headed back to the Moat-House, we saw the workers toiling away on the fortress construction…and among them were the two bandits we captured yesterday.

I was worried about them, so I’m glad the knight and all figured something out. Better than being dead.

We made good time again, taking only about two hours to get to our destination. Continue reading

Dear Diary…the work of merchants

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

After lunch, Ezekiel searched the dead bodies for weapons. There were some clubs and cross-bows, and a halberd, but nothing that looked extra special.

As we were preparing to head back into town, we heard scraping above the ceiling. We all took a look, but couldn’t see anything through the beams and debris poking through.

Some of us thought it might be the guy who got away, but that didn’t make any sense to me. I expect he’s long gone by now. All the same, I wasn’t anxious to have the ceiling collapse in on me, so I was glad when we finally got moving – Kobort and Raven carrying the chest, and Mikael “encouraging” the prisoners (who were tied around the arms and hobbled at the knees).

Once we reached Kobort’s horse at the entrance, we secured the chest to the saddle…awkwardly, but at least then Kobort and Raven didn’t have to haul it themselves. Continue reading

Dear Diary…the Moat-House

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”

The bunkhouse provided bread for breakfast, so we got a good start.

Kobort has all kinds of weapons, including a battle ax, splint mail, and a war horse! On the one hand, it makes him seem like the real deal…on the other hand, horses need a lot to eat.

Once we came to the fork off the main road, our pace really slowed down. It’s all overgrown, with creepers, boggy patches, and straight-up mud puddles…not to mention the trees and undergrowth.

It took us probably four hours to go three miles. Continue reading

Dear Diary…chock one up to the spider

ALERT: May contain spoilers for the adventure: “The Village of Homlette”

With a little more internal direction, we headed back to Homlette.

They’re building some kind of fort at the east end of town. The walls aren’t too imposing yet, and the gatehouse is barely started, but the tower in the center looks sturdy and well-made.

Elmo split off from us near the edge of town…off to do his own secret mission stuff, no doubt.

Ezekiel wouldn’t stop dancing down the road. I guess he likes having a definite direction to move in.

As we passed the house of the village elder, a warrior in blue armor led a horse out the gate, mounted, and rode off. The elder stuck his head out and waved to us as we passed. It’s nice to know now that he’s on our side…and that he hasn’t been murdered. Continue reading

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY

What can you do with all those fabric scraps you have sitting around? Make cute little Christmas ornaments for your friends!Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia Wood

Even those scraps that are too small for other projects can be used for these adorable ornaments.

You will need:

  • Christmas-themed cookie cutters…shapes with bigger angles and few corners will be easier (stars, candy canes, hearts, gingerbread men, angels, etc. I also used a Christmas tree, but it took more work to get right)
  • Cardboard (such as empty cereal box)
  • Pencil
  • Pins
  • Lace or ribbon (3/8″ works well…if it gets wider than, say, 1/2″, it won’t work so well)
  • Stuffing
  • Needle/sewing machine and thread
  • FABRIC SCRAPS 🙂

1—Cut Patterns

First, make your patterns. You could just use the cookie cutters as patterns, but they stick up and make it awkward to trace onto the fabric.

So take your cardboard, place your selected cookie cutter onto it, and use the pencil to trace your ornament’s shape.

There are two methods:

Method A

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia Wood

Here you can clearly see my stitches trying to follow the pencil lines…

Cut cardboard exactly along the lines of the cookie cutter’s shape.

Method B

Using a ruler, extend the “shape” out about 1/4″ on all sides, then cut out the cardboard along these new lines.

Pros and Cons

With Method A, you have to remember to leave a 1/4+ inch hem around the fabric when tracing your pattern…but you then have a handy pencil line to help you stitch the shape.

I initially invented Method B so I could make the ornaments bigger, but when you just “balloon out” the line of the cookie cutter’s shape, the new shape doesn’t look the same (it looks more fat and rounded). On something like a star, this works better.

The benefit of Method B is that you can 1) make your ornaments slightly bigger, or 2) you have a built-in allowance for the hem, and can cut out your fabric directly on the pencil line.

I prefer Method A, however, because having that line to stitch along is sure useful.

2—Trace Onto Fabric and Cut

Take your cardboard pattern and place onto your fabric scraps. Even if you have a really small piece – as narrow as two inches! – you can probably fit a candy cane shape on it! Just remember to be sure you have extra space for the hem.

Once your pattern shape is traced, cut out the pieces (again, leaving roughly a 1/4″ for the hem).

3—Match Fabric Pieces and Pin

Once you have two fabric pieces of complementing colors cut out, hold them Right Sides together and pin.

I like to use joints or corners to make sure I have the shapes matched up to one another…for example, stick a pin into the peak of the Christmas tree on one piece, and then through the peak of the other Christmas tree piece…or stick a pin through the matching armpits of two gingerbread man pieces.

Stick two pins through matching points along your shapes…and then use them as “fulcrums” to align your pieces.

4—Sew Pieces Together

Sew the pinned pieces together — leaving at least an inch open at the top for turning.

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodI was constantly second-guessing myself that I wasn’t leaving enough space to turn the ornament…and once I even snipped the stitching to make the opening bigger. Don’t do this! The stitches will pull out and you’ll have to repair it and it’ll be annoying…

An opening of an inch to an inch-and-a-half is plenty big. Just remember to put it at the top of the ornament…

5—Snip Corners

Gingerbread men’s armpits, the boughs of Christmas trees, and the hooks of candy canes all need to be sniped out to make turning easier! Just be careful not to snip your stitches (ask how I know).

Also make slits around the gingerbread man’s hands and feet, the points of the Christmas tree and the star, the curve of the candy cane…you get the idea.

6—Turn Inside Out

Turn your ornament inside out, through the small hole you left. Be patient and take your time…even if you think, “This hole is way too small to fit the fabric through!” if you take your time, it’ll usually work.

Get something long and pokey to help get the corners turned out. I started with the eraser end of a pencil, but that was poking right through my seam and tearing my stitches — so I went for a large crochet hook.

7—Sharpen Points

You might need to use a pin to grab the points and help pull them out…This is especially true for the Christmas tree, but also for the gingerbread men’s feet (and hands).

Basically, for the Christmas tree to actually look the way it’s supposed to, you need to pull all the little branches out…and for this, it usually works best to use a combination of the crochet hook and a long pin.

Just remember: this is your chance to get it looking the way you want it to!

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia Wood(I made a dog ornament, making my own pattern based on a silhouette from online…and getting all the nooks and crannies turned right-side-out was a pain! On the bright side, it did look like a dog at the end! The key is to take your time and pay attention.)

(You could iron it at this stage to make it nice and crisp and neat…but who has time for that nonsense?)

8—Stuff

I used polyester fiberfill…but use whatever you have on hand. Use the back end of the crochet hook to help you get it into those hard-to-reach legs, branches, and bends.

Don’t over-stuff it…This is just to give it some body, not to turn it into a plush toy.

Stop when it feels good to you.

9—Hanger

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodI usually used between 2-1/2 and 3 inches of ribbon or lace for the hanger. (This assumes that it’ll still need a paperclip-style hanger to go on a tree.)

This is my typical procedure:

Take the end of the ribbon/lace…estimate a thumbnail’s worth to go inside the ornament…hold the ribbon behind the ornament and bend it in a loop until it looks long enough…pin the loop flat…and snip the ribbon off, level with the ribbon-end.

Then, using your thumbnail to help with the placement, stick the ribbon ends into the top of the ornament and fold the loose fabric down on itself, so it looks neat and closed over the top of the ribbon.

Pin firmly, then check the back-side to make sure your raw edges are all hidden, and your ribbon hanger is inside the fabric on both sides.

10—Stitch Closed

Stitch along the top of the Christmas ornament, closing the hole and fastening the hanger at the same time.

Check the back side when you’re done to make sure the stitches grabbed both sides of the fabric (ask how I know).

Optional—Topstitch

At this point, you can top-stitch around just inside the seam of the ornament. I only did this with one of mine (because my seams were messy and it needed extra reinforcement)…but with contrasting colors of thread, it could look very nice.

Enjoy and Give Away!

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodI worked on these in stages, focusing on cutting out, turning/stuffing, ribbon-ing/stitching, or sewing… I could usually knock out ten ornaments on a lazy afternoon.

Not only is this a great way to eat up those itty-bitty scraps of fabric, but it makes adorable (and seasonal) little gifts for your giving needs!

In fact, with “neutral” shapes like hearts and butterflies, you could make pincushions for everyday use…make Easter ornaments (those are totally a thing, right?)…show someone who’s sick that you care…

They’re small enough – yet challenging enough – that you could use them to introduce your child to sewing.

Okay, I’m done. I actually have a basket-full of these I’m giving away for Christmas.

Happy crafting!


Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

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

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