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….the drama of Ezekiel (and Lydia)

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

****

Fireseek 26.

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

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

****

Crazy long day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then came the next wrinkle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ezekiel the Cleric with Self-Image Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

Drilling the upper-cut with Heiron.

****

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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Dear Diary….the mysterious and the truly creepy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But…it…was…not.

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

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

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

But nothing happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t like it.

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Dear Diary….food and floorplans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[sketch of rooms]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[sketch of immediate area]


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Dear Diary….the whole rest of the party

We opened a door in the east of the corridor, and discovered an ogre preparing to come out. That’s as far as he got, though, as my arrow caught him through the throat and he fell backward with a shocked look in his eyes.

He wore a copper belt with a purse, and the room beyond was obviously living quaters…with cracked plaster walls, a some couches pushed together to make a huge bed, and a large cheese and sausage on a table. (Raven took the cheese.) There was also another store of weapons here…as long as the Temple had hands to wield them, they’d have plenty of weapons for defense – or attack.

Raven found a chest under the table, and Ezekiel found the key on the ogre. It had a decent amount of gold, along with two agates (I don’t think they’re magical).

A door to the south led into yet another room (it’s the theme around here), and I spotted a gnoll and fired an arrow into him. Corby flapped past us to get at their eyeballs, and Yeti threw his hammer.

There were probably a half-dozen or so in that room, which had a big fireplace along one wall, a keg, a bed, and other furniture – trashed and broken from its former glory.

Heiron took out two of the gnolls himself.

While Ezekiel was inspecting the fireplace, Raven went exploring around the corner of the room, and found some more gnolls. I killed one, while Mikael lit up the others with faery fire. I saw Corby flap past with a strip of gnoll flesh in her beak.

(Heiron missed a couple shots in a row, so I guess he is only human after all. Makes me feel a bit better.)

Wonillon caught one in the ribs with a dagger (made me feel uncomfortable to watch him for some undefined reason).

As Ezekiel and I mopped up the last of them (probably a dozen or so altogether) I noticed a bugbear among them.

Mikael and Yeti did their healing magic while I recovered some arrows and took what money the enemies had on them.

It seems this room used to be a reception or council room – though now it’s full of pallets for gnolls. A fountain stands in the corner to provide a trickle of water, and a distressed sideboard would support meals for the barracks.

There’s also a fascinating quadruple crossbow (it’s not quite a ballista) that was aimed through a peephole in one wall to fire down the hallway toward the from of the Temple (the hallway on the other side of where we entered. We seem incapable of finding anything except the back-doors).

It was getting towards evening, so we decided we might as well hunker down. There’s a stack of wood that provided nicely to make a fire – and it works out that we used it, because Wonillon found a pile of money stuffed into a hollow log over there (does he have some kind of gnomish gold-detection? He seems really good at this).

We set watches for the night, and Ezekiel really, really wanted to have Lydia watch with him, despite her being a spell-caster and a girl and needing her rest.

I guess he should be old enough to take care of himself…just makes me suspicious, is all.

We have blocked the doors to keep things peaceful.

****

Something told me it was very early…but we were all awake, and felt rested. And besides, it’s always twilight down here, so it doesn’t matter much.

After some discussion, we decided to go check out the pile of bones – leaving the hallway out the east door of the gnoll-barracks for later.

Wonillon took a gear from the quadruple-crossbow, so that no one could (easily) use it against us.

Back in the wide corridor, right before I killed the ogre with one shot, we headed north. The passage is about twenty feet wide – and a huge section of it is covered with bones…human and humanoid, broken and gnawed on, mixed with broken weapons, armor, shields, and helmets.

Someone estimated that between one and two hundred people died there.

The passage T-ed to the east and west, and as we advanced we had to pick our way between bones – or just crunch them underfoot.

“Anyone see any cheese?” asked Raven – but of course I couldn’t look for that while I was keeping an eye on the ceiling, and the floor, and the walls, and the bones, and the shadows where enemies might try to advance on us from.

Ezekiel had his holy symbol in his hand, but then he bent down to examine something I guess, because then half-a-dozen gnoll skeletons came shuffling toward us – clack, clatter, clack (I didn’t see if they just rose up out of the pile, or if they came around the corner).

Corby cocked her head and looked at them, as though she didn’t see the point of enemies that didn’t have eyeballs.

Yeti shattered one with his hammer into little fragments – and Raven smacked one so hard it staggered backward and stared at him with a stunned look in its…eye sockets?

Mikael poked Ezekiel in the back so that Ez stood up again and waved his sheep symbol at them (and ordering them to turn into dust, which they did).

Some more were coming up from behind us (I guess they didn’t see his symbol?) and Wonillon stabbed one – but a dagger doesn’t have much to slice and poke when it’s all bones.

Yeti threw his hammer and shattered another one to dust (I saw one try to claw at him, but it couldn’t get close enough to hurt him).

When the last skeleton turned to dust, Ezekiel handed me the thing he found — it’s an arrow with a silver tip. Apparently it might be useful against devils (though not demons maybe?) so I’ll keep it for emergencies.

Then Ezekiel (being Ezekiel) held up his holy symbol and yelled, “Anyone else?”

It seems like immediately after that, we heard the jingle of armor and pounding of footsteps, and we could see a whole crowd of men heading down a hallway to join us up ahead.

I got an arrow into one, and then Lydia threw an egg into the hallway with them.

As the green cloud spread, Raven ran to the edge of it and held up his magic ring. Blue sparks filled the hallway, and the men screamed as a whole bunch of them fell down – dead.

I nailed a couple more with arrows while they were trapped in the cloud.

Raven batted a crossbow bolt out of the air before it could hit him, and Ezekiel planted his plate-mail self in front of me to block any missiles he could.

Lydia called out her magic lion, and Raven threw a dagger and got one in the joint of his armor.

Herion did very well for himself – sniping down one enemy and wounding another – but then someone got him with a javelin and, magic chainmail or no magic chainmail, you can’t fight with your insides rearranged.

Mikael didn’t hesitate, but jumped right in and started to heal him, while Raven tried to catch any javelins that were thrown at them (he didn’t do so well all the time).

One of the guards rolled a barrel down toward us, and Ezekiel charged into the cloud to kick it. It spun around, spraying oil everywhere (including on Ez), but it stopped rolling toward us, and he staggered back out again without needing a rescue.

Since they couldn’t really fight at range, Raven took Ezekiel behind the cover of the wall to the side of the hallway, and Lydia ducked into safety on the other side (but not before a missile caught her).

Yeti threw his hammer so hard it smashed through several fighters with one swing – and it’s so very cool that it comes back to him when he throws it. Raven should get some daggers that do that.

Raven dumped a waterskin over Ezekiel to help dilute the oil.

As soon as the cloud dissipated, Corby swept in to attack (I guess she was ready for some eyeballs?) – as did someone from the other side, who charged Yeti. Didn’t do him much good, as Lydia’s Simba mauled him pretty good.

Ezekiel yelled and charged, knocking a guy so hard I heard the “gong” on my end of the hall.

Wonillon, Yeti, and Raven also rushed forward – since they finally had a path for their melee weapons – and took out their opponents.

By that point, I was feeling frustrated (maybe seeing all my friends get hurt so much, and not killing the enemy quickly enough) that I switched to my sword to finish the job. As I ran past, I saw Yeti “laying hands” on Corby with a soft magic glow.

After that, it was…messy…but quick. Yeti and I each took out three while Wonillon and Simba were taking out two – and Raven took out one.

Ezekiel bashed some blonde, ax-wielding chick with his mace, and purple lightening sparked everywhere.

As Yeti bounced his hammer against one guy’s head into another guy, the last two bowmen fled to try to get range for their shots. Simba and I didn’t let them do that, though, and chased them down while Wonillon was knifing the final leader.

I counted forty-four bodies in all. (Ezekiel sure knows how to ask, doesn’t he.)

It may sound different on a page, but I much prefer fighting gnolls and bugbears and orcs and hobgoblins and ogres.

These are ordinary humans like me. They ought to be serving Good deities, and living Good, normal lives.

Instead they’re kidnapping villagers to sacrifice to Earth Elementals and stuff. And stripping ladies before feeding them to undead…

Gotta keep it in perspective. It’s still not tidy or painless, but it needs doing.


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Start at the beginning of the Temple exploration here.

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The Blonde in Room 128

Todd checked over his shoulder both ways so no one would see him at the alleyway entrance. So far, his buddy at work had been correct.

The address appeared to be an apartment building with heavy curtains in all the windows.

He drew a long breath, winced at the shooting pain in his temple, and checked the surroundings once more before heading inside.

The small lobby was empty except for a guy behind a desk at the far end, like in a motel.

Todd swallowed again and crossed the room.

The attendant looked up as he approached, but said nothing.

Todd felt like a fool, but his wife had insisted he come here. He swallowed again and tried to smile.

“Hi, I’d like a – an appointment,” he said.

“Right,” said the attendant, opening a big ledger in a blue three-ring binder. “What’s your pleasure?”

Todd double-checked the little brochure his work-buddy had given him…the one with head-shots of a dozen attractive young ladies.

“I’d like a – uh – blonde? With a…pretty face.”

He felt stupid saying it, but that’s the way it worked – according to the brochure.

“Right,” said the attendant again. “That’s $200 up front.”

Todd pulled out his wallet, and wiped his hands on the front of his shirt so he could pull out the cash.

The attendant took the money and slipped it into a little metal cash-box.

“Down the hall, room 128. Wait there.”

And with that the man pulled out a copy of New England Journal of Medicine and ignored him.

Todd shuffled down the hall. At least it was well-lit. Strange thumps and hums came from behind the closed doors.

At number 128, he hesitated…but he was committed now. Stroking his throbbing temple again, he slipped in and closed the door behind him.

A bright fluorescent white bathed the whole room, where a spotless white table the size of a gurney stood in the middle of the room – in front of an enormous white machine like a giant donut. It looked just like the photos on the internet.

Behind a curtain in the corner, Todd changed into the hospital gown he found in a plastic package on top of the table…then stood watching the machine, rubbing his head and licking his lips.

There was a knock on the door, immediately followed by a young man in a long white lab coat. Todd noted, with a desperate instinct to find humor in the situation, that the young man was blond.

“Head trouble, eh?” said the stranger, making straight to the LCD screen on the side of the machine.

“I got a sudden headache last weekend,” said Todd, tip-toeing up to the table. “My wife thought I should get it checked out, so I went down to our local medical clinic.”

The young man tapped away at the screen, and Todd licked his lips.

“They told me I should get an MRI scan, but the wait time would be –“

“Let me guess,” said the man in the lab coat. “Three months.”

“Five, actually,” said Todd.

“Ha! I’ve heard six months to a year. Colonoscopies are even worse.”

Todd licked his lips again. “Are you a doctor?”

“Nah, I just run the machine.” The stranger gestured at the table. “Take a load off. When we’re done, it’ll take fifteen minutes or so to load your results on a CD…and then you do whatever you want with it. If you want a doc to give his opinion, that’s another 150, and you have to come back in a couple days; we’ll give you the CD with a doctor’s notes.”

Todd lay down on the table. The stranger flicked a switch, and the whole platform started moving, until his head was inside the hole of the donut.

“A-Aren’t you afraid I’ll turn you in?” he asked, just to make conversation.

“Do you want to do that, or do you want an MRI?” asked the technician with a chuckle. “Think about it — you can either get us for practicing private medicine…or you can actually get the benefit of our services.”

“And you have real, registered doctors who work with you, too?” asked Todd.

“Face it: the National Medical System doesn’t pay peanuts. Plenty of qualified, university-trained diagnosticians are happy to make a little extra analyzing test results.”

“And if they’re wrong, the patient can’t complain — we don’t know who the doctor is, and we can’t admit where we got the test.”

The technician peeked into the donut and smiled. “You wanna live dangerously? Or you want to wait a year for an X-ray? By that time, if it’s cancer or an aneurism or something, you might be dead anyway.”

Todd held up his hand, anything to delay the strange machine from making noises. “What do you get out of it?”

The technician shrugged. “A little pocket change – and I get to make a difference in people’s lives. I actually run an ultrasound machine in normal life, but the pay – plus the regulations – are murder.”

He patted the machine. “Right, I’m going to warm up our lovely Blondie here. There’ll be a humming noise, but you won’t feel a thing. Just take it easy –“ He grinned. “Blondie will treat you well.”


The Blonde in Room 128 — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

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

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

Dear Diary….what I’m made for

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

The corridor to the west split – south and north. We headed south first, and a doorway branched down to two little rooms. They might have been kitchens at some point, but now they’re full of garbage and disgusting.

That passage probably joins up with the corridor by the stairs, so we returned to the crossroads to explore the north passage.

It turned to end up in a door…and as soon as Ezekiel opened that, I was hit with a familiar stench – and Ezekiel was hit with gnoll throwing spears.

I must have been distracted so that I missed my first shot…but then Heiran and I shot down a couple gnolls, and Raven smacked one so hard I think its neck broke or something.

Yeti also rushed forward and threw his magic flying hammer to hit a gnoll right in the face.

Yeti, Wonillon, and Corby had moved just into the room, while Ezekiel had charged across the room to engage (since his mace doesn’t have magic flying).

As I stood in the doorway, hunting for a shot, a gnoll in the opposite corner pulled a cord trailing from the ceiling – and a huge net dropped from somewhere above and tangled up the three of us closest to the door.

(That didn’t stop Yeti from shoving his arm through the net and flinging his hammer again and killing a gnoll.)

I didn’t see any more gnolls, so I drew my sword to help get Wonillon out of the net.

Raven had just come to help us when a door opened to the north (almost banging Ezekiel as it did so) and a gnoll threw something.

I didn’t know what it was until it cracked against my head and splashed sticky oil all over me.

Raven dodged an arrow from yet another door to the west, while another gnoll entered from the north and threw a torch or a fire box or something and beaned Wonillon in the head (I guess their throwing wasn’t all that great).

I glimpsed hobgoblins firing arrows from among the gnolls. Raven deflected a thrown ax while Wonillon kept cutting at the net. Lydia asked if we needed an egg, while Heiron nailed another gnoll with an arrow.

Apparently Raven was as frustrated as I was by that time, as he pulled out the magic ring and pointed it at the gnolls blocking the door to the west.

A flash of light, and the gnolls fled, squealing, as sparks covered their bodies. I don’t know what that is, but it looks nasty.

Well, that gave the rest of us a chance to focus on the north door. I swapped my sword for my bow again and took two gnolls through the throat. Ezekiel hit one, and it shriveled and crumbled in a storm of purple lightening.

As Mikael fought the net to get Corby free, I heard heavy thumping footsteps from the room beyond.

No surprise when an ogre appeared, swinging at Ezekiel. Lydia ducked forward and rolled an egg forward to break at its feet.

I don’t think the stench affected him particularly, but it must have distracted him long enough that I could get two arrows into his vulnerable areas and take him out.

Mikael got Corby free of the net in time for her to help Ezekiel and Yeti kill another gnoll and hobgoblin, respectively…although they weren’t alone. I saw a gnoll fly across the room in a way that only an ogre could make happen.

Sure enough, as I moved forward (shooting a hobgoblin as I went) a tree branch came out of nowhere and bashed Yeti in the face.

I fired at the second ogre, but apparently I got him in the flab – since it didn’t seem to hurt him. In fact, both ogres were wearing leather jackets covered with thin bronze plates – so someone had invested in dressing them better than ogres usually are.

Yeti got in a blow on the ogre before I got an arrow through its throat.

When the battle was finally over, I realized that Corby and Raven were both missing. Lydia said they’d run after the fleeing gnolls, so I went into the room to the west to find them (several people followed me).

That room was plain and bare, with a single table and a door to the south.

That door opened into a corridor, where I met Raven just coming back with Corby riding on his shoulders. He said they chased the two fleeing gnolls until they killed them both – one of them making it up the stairs to the Red Temple before they could kill it.

Well, since I knew they were safe, I examined the room a little more closely and found a pile of dirt in the corner – right beside a barrel full of water. Very suspicious…but I couldn’t find anything unusual about the dirt. It must be some kind of religious reagent or something.

(Also found three unlit torches in that room. Why didn’t I grab them? Should remember to do that just in case…)

Meanwhile, Yeti and Ezekiel found a secret room off the one where we killed the ogres…wasn’t too hard, since there was gnoll plastered around the doorway (part of the one the ogre threw, I believe).

This “secret” room used to be pretty nice, with plastered walls and polished brown granite floor. However, now it stinks like ogre (as do the piles of cushions the residents were using for beds).

Ezekiel opened a chest which had a bunch of weapons in it – maces, battle-axes, hand-axes, morning stars, and a couple swords of different lengths.

There were also some barrels (it’s a biggish room) – sour wine, salted fish, and spears…so it’s obvious you could supply several squads from here.

(They also had bows and quivers hanging on the walls, so Heiran and I restocked.)

I looted our fallen enemies as I made my way back to Ezekiel, and Raven found some flasks of lamp oil to give to Lydia (she’s going to have quite a stockpile…hope she doesn’t get any wrong ideas…).

I tried to give Ezekiel the “Rope of Climbing,” since, after all, he puts himself in front more than anyone else, and he’s also obnoxiously heavy in all that armor…so if he were ever to step into a pit (as you do) he’d have that much more edge in getting out. After all, if we can’t get to him right away, a few extra seconds might make all the difference.

But he said he’d be fine, and after all he’s not the only one who goes up front (though you can’t give the rope to multiple people, now, can you?), so although he appreciated the thought he’d have me keep it in the bag of holding.

As Wonillon was wandering around the secret room, he noticed one of the floor tiles was loose – under the barrel of spears. Heiron was able to shift it without any trouble, and underneath the stone was a hole with a bunch of money and a silver bracelet.

With the money from the monsters, and silver chain with carnelian stone one of them was wearing, we’re starting to restore our fortunes (well, those of us who have to pay for things). Which is good, because we’re paying Heiron now (though not much; I can’t believe he went for a few gold a month).

The secret room has a second door leading out – to the east – into a corridor I don’t think we’ve been to before. There’s a pile of bones or something to the north.

Just when I think I have a handle on this place, we find yet another room or hallway or secret door. This is a place of Elemental Evil…do room dimensions even still work the same?

[rough sketch of area]


Find the previous entry here.

Find the start of the Temple adventure here.

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Dear Diary….marshaling our forces

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventures “The Village of Hommlet” and “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

When we left Cleric Romag at the tower last night, Ezekiel took what he thinks is Romag’s holy symbol, so hopefully he can’t use it to cause trouble for anyone.

(We’re letting Heiran wear his special magic chainmail for the time-being, as it’ll help him survive longer while traveling with us, and Raven asked to hang onto the magic mace just in case in came in handy.)

After breakfast, Eze headed to the elder’s house to give a report and request a council meeting so we can get further instructions and advice.

Raven went shopping (he said he wanted more cheese), so I had him buy me more arrows (since Ezekiel still says I shouldn’t wander around town talking to people too much). He also bought arrows for Heiran, since the idea is to train him in bow so we have more ranged options.

Lydia headed out to get all our treasure appraised and converted, and as she didn’t seem to want my help (see above) I took Heiran to the back yard to go over the basics.

He’s not exactly a fast learner, but once he gets something down, he really gets it.

(Oh, and he almost snapped the practice bow we had. Have to think about this…)

****

Ezekiel and Raven were back by the time Lydia was, so we divvied up the treasure.

Eze says there’s a meeting in one week at the chapel of St. Cuthbert.

He also said he wanted to trade/sell the two scrolls we found to the chapel (since we don’t have much use for “Protection from Earth Elementals” and “Animate Dead”) and someone (I don’t remember who) said that if we were turning the scrolls into cash, then we should divvy that up, too.

Well that took a little while, but when we were done, Ezekiel kept counting his share over and over– but the number he kept getting wasn’t what he wanted (in my limited knowledge of clerical fees and book costs and such, I can see why).

I still haven’t paid him back for what he spent to get me raised, and I was kind of waiting for him to say something (especially since it was my own dumb fault for being murdered)…but then he started talking about how important it would be for me to work out this week, and maybe find someone to teach me new techniques.

I don’t know where I would find someone like that, since Elmo said he’d pretty much taught me all he knows, but maybe he knows someone else.

Yeti and Ezekiel say they can handle getting the ladies back to the Chron Hills, so it’s not like I have to worry about that, either.

****

Turns out Elmo did know someone.

We headed for the chapel this evening for the meeting. I think Canon Turjon had done something “spiritual” to the building…it felt “safe” to be there, like no one would be eavesdropping on us.

Everyone was there, from Druid Master Geru to the constable to Masters Rufus and Bern from the tower, even the “smith” from Nulb – who introduced himself to the others as Otis.

Ezekiel gave the long and the short of the whole matter: we went to investigate as requested…the Temple has been reopened, and a large section of the Chaotic Earth Temple are cleaned up…sacrifices seem to be underway.

He showed them the brooch that interested him so much, and though Lord Otis didn’t know the individual it belonged to, we all agreed that losing a Knight of Veluna and of the Hart was a bad thing.

The elder pointed out that Furiundy has its own problems to deal with (what with the Prince disappearing and all) and You Know Who making trouble on their northern border, so we can’t expect much help from them. However, Sir Rufus has sent to Veluna for professionals to give us advice and training as we advance through the Temple.

Because Ezekiel made it clear we’re “declaring war” on the Temple…we’re not in stealth mode anymore (which is fine, since that’s not our strong suit) but we’re heading in to clear them out for good.

For Good!

Everyone expressed their moral support – and Otis the “smith” revealed that when we saw his smithy burning, that was actually on purpose! He says one of the scouts had noticed we were having “difficulties,” and that we might benefit from a diversion as we passed through Nulb. (Oh, the adrenaline hang-over I had that day.)

Just goes to show they’ve had our back longer than we realized.

They suggested we visit Old Lady Edai if we need healing supplies, and Otis invited us to visit the smithy in Nulb – although he warned us that he has an assistant who seems too nosy that is natural.

Oh, yes – and Canon Turjon took a look at Ezekiel’s mace had found it very interesting…he says there’s some kind of “spell charge” on it, and would be interested in checking it out with Ezekiel some time when we’re back in town. That should cheer him up.

We’ll visit the blacksmith here in Hommlet before we leave again, to see if we can get a good, sturdy bow for Heiran…I see he’s kept up with the drills I taught him while I was gone, and a stronger bow would help the arrows hit a little harder. We’ll see.

****

Bought rations and returned to Temple with no issues (Wonillon the Gnome and Heiran riding in the cart).

This time we descended by the red stairs in the south-west nave – the same staircase we came up when we had all our prisoners. The first right turn brought us smack against an ogre, which Yeti and I took down from a distance. (That magic boomerang hammer of his is really coming in handy!)

That corridor led to two opposite rooms, which both looked like they used to be armories – with weapons racks, pegs on the walls for shields, etc.

One of them was littered with the skeletons of humans and gnolls – I assume from ten years ago.

While the party was investigating the second armory, an ogre came up from behind us, and Heiran and I shot it to death (I took more arrows to do it, but at least I got it through the eye. Heiran has really seemed to grasp the basics so far).

Meanwhile, Wonillon had noticed something and called for a “tall person” (which would not be me).

Something shiny sat on an arch – and the ceilings were high, so it was at least ten feet up.

Raven climbed up and found it was a crossbow bolt…possibly magical, with how much care went into making it. (He also found lots of cobwebs, but nothing worse.) So Yeti has it for now for his crossbow.

Continuing down the main corridor to the east, we found a passage to the left that ended in huge bronze doors covered with carvings or moldings of ugly faces.

There were also two openings to either side, which Wonillon and Yeti told us sloped gradually down.

After some discussion, we went far enough to confirm that they led to another floor entirely, before returning to the main corridor so we could finish clearing the Earth Temple.

(We also glimpsed what I’m pretty sure is a hydra…though it didn’t seem too interested in us, I’m not looking forward to fighting it.)

Not far along, we found the green stairs where we descended the very first time. It seems the two staircases are mirrored along this corridor, since there’s also a short passage to the south that branches off into two armories.

There were bones here, too, and Ezekiel pointed out teeth marks on some of them. Ghouls, probably (which I hate, by the way).

Raven and I checked the second room while the others were busy looking for secret passages, and found a quiver with seventeen arrows that looked useable.

We then went north, past the harpy room (smells like something else died in there recently…or maybe just the ghouls have been busy).

The passage across from that door led west. We ignored a branch on the right for the moment and took a turn to the left, which twisted around to a rickety door…which reeked like nothing I’d ever smelled, by the way. We could even smell it partway down the passage, and if I could imagine a smell between the gnoll latrine and something rotting, that’d be about it.

Wonillon pointed out a large rat hole chewed in the edge of the door, so we stood by with our weapons while Raven opened the door…but didn’t see anything living. In fact, what we did see was a lot of garbage and unidentifiable mess.

No one seemed interested in digging through that mess, so we returned to the west-leading passage.

These corridors all have to meet up at some point, but if it weren’t for the map I’ve sketched (and copied to a big parchment while we were in town) I’d be totally lost.

I still wonder sometimes where we’re going…but fortunately we just have one goal.

Kill everything (unless it’s obviously a kidnapped civilian).

(Ezekiel and Yeti are done poring over the map now. Let’s see what we find next.)


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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Publish Your Book on Amazon (For People Who Hate Computers)

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TL;DR:Publish Your Book on Amazon (For People Who Hate Computers) — Kimia Wood

1) Go to this link: https://kdp.amazon.com/

2) Sign in with your Amazon password.

3) Follow the prompts and read the instructions!

4) Check out Amazon’s “how to” posts for more information, or if you get stuck.

Do you want more detailed instructions? Well, for those who hate the internet, and just want someone to spell everything out ahead of time, read on!

Whether you want to publish your grandpa’s memoir…your husband’s hobby novel…a family history…a fan-fiction — if your only goal is getting it on Amazon so your second cousins in Alaska can order their own copies – this is the place for you!

(Info on plotting / writing / editing / revising / re-plotting / polishing / revising / editing / marketing / selling a book or novel is beyond the scope of this post.) Continue reading

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