Dear Diary….Ezekiel has no fear (or filters)

Ezekiel and Mikael voted to give the scroll of Protection from Undead to High Priest Yra. Those “cleric types” really do stick together. (Mikael said, if Ez heard an “inner voice” suggesting it, he’d best follow it, because “inner voices,” y’know. Raven suggested that Ez just wanted to secure his usefulness…but he might have been pulling Ez’s chain.)

On a more sombre note, while we were gone, Master Bern decided to move to greener pastures or something. They told us at the tower that he felt the sting of being bamboozled by a crystal ball very deeply, so he decided his talents would be better used elsewhere or something.

He also took Spugnoir with him – which I guess means Sp isn’t too much of a “bad guy”? It’s true the cultist assassin didn’t bother to kill him when he/she went through, and the impression at the tower was that he was more incompetent and greedy than scheming. Live and learn, I guess…makes you feel almost sorry for the guy. Not sorry enough to want him in Homlette, though.

There’s a new mage at the tower to replace him. Apparently he never comes down to the tavern or anything like that, but Lydia says his name is Abi Zol Marn. He’s Suloese, too, so maybe they will get along extra well.

Tressarian was talking with us this morning, and pointed out that he protects me from fire when I hold him. Bottom line, we gave my ring of Fire Resistance to Heiron…so now (if we plan ahead) like five or six of us will be protected against fiery things in the future.

It feels like we’re honest-to-goodness growing up, and getting stronger and more effective. If my mother could see me now…

****

We started this raid of the Temple in the alchemist’s room (on the north end of the third basement).

While Lydia and Wonillon loaded up every spell component that she said would be useful, the rest of us took another look at the map we’d drawn…and there’s a sense of magic and EVIL beyond the north wall of every northern room on this floor (because they make Tressarian check every single room.)

We pulled out our map of the second floor, and Ezekiel pointed out there might be stairs leading down to that blocked area – the stairs guarded with those runes we can’t look at.

We threw around a few ideas for how to check out that area (scrying, stone-melding, gaseous form) but in the end I think I convinced them to leave it for a while. After all, if the throne in the front hall “goes down,” maybe it goes into that space? And we’re certainly not ready to face down whatever’s at the bottom of that quite yet.

(I’m kind of worried. Raven nominated Tressarian for party leader, and Tres seems to have taken it to heart. Ezekiel is ignoring this development at the moment, but we shouldn’t let it grow out of control.)

**

Ez decided to check out the “mushroom room” next (it’s on the map the female assassin gave us, but it’s clear by now she left out certain details). We went past the “evil purple room” and up the corridor to the “mushroom room” – which is just that…there are funguses everywhere, faintly glowing, some growing taller than me from the floor, some growing from shelves on the walls.

At first, only Mikael and Ezekiel saw this, since they went first (Mikael had asked Obi-Hai for “control plants”).

The rest of us stayed in the corridor. We heard them talking to somebody, and then:

“Oh no! The mushrooms drove him mad!” said some woman (trouble!) and a female figure in armor slashed Mikael (and as though a sword wound weren’t bad enough, she slapped him, too!).

Ezekiel cried, “I’ll retrain him!” and tossed a nail at him – but Mikael apparently ignored him and sicced his insects on the woman.

Disconcerted as I was, I managed to get an arrow into her (because no one messes with our druid!) and Raven cast faery fire from his ring.

“Be healed,” Ezekiel called, patting the woman’s shoulder – and that’s when we knew for sure that something was wrong, since he wasn’t looking out for his team-mate like he always does.

Simba charged past us and swiped at the woman, who was busy swatting at insects. Mikael and I did some more damage before Raven ran along the wall or something and threw his magic rope around them…

And that’s when the next weirdness struck. Ezekiel got tangled up, all right, but the “woman”…the rope slid around her, slapping nothing but air, and for a moment I thought she had a ring of free action or something, until she turned to flee.

Then, we could see what she really looked like: the bottom half of a lion, with the top half of a naked woman coming out of its neck (I’ll just say I’m glad she was fleeing at the time).

She also split into four, and while Mikael was cracking one of them over the head, the rest of them reached the door at the far end of the room.

“I’ll hold them off,” Ezekiel bellowed, and body-slammed Raven…only he tripped and landed on the floor. Mikael told Cuddles to “hug” Ezekiel, while he and I advanced into the room to make sure the enemies were gone.

With Cuddles taking care of Ezekiel, Raven freed his rope and joined us. By that time, the “woman” was long gone, and we’d never catch up with her – especially weaving our way through all the mushrooms.

Raven spotted some that he says are rare, but totally safe and tasty. He gathered some of them, but I’m not sure I’m that adventurous.

I’m not sure if it’s something Lydia did, or if he just needed time, but Ezekiel finally started talking like himself again. Seems a little grumpy that somebody else got into his head, but other than that he has moved on because that’s what he does.

Lydia says the creature was a “lamyri.” I don’t think Mikael could convince it to be his friend, even with magic.

Rather than chase up and down stairs after it, we decided to hope the insects finished the lamyri off, and returned to the “evil purple room.” Ezekiel cast his “Detect Traps” spell (still getting used to that idea) and had me bring Tressarian around the room while he looked at everything. (Honestly, I’m just a weapons rack some days.)

I guess we spent enough time in there, looking around, that the lights decided to attack. It looked so weird, I wish I could draw it. The light from inside the lamps actually floated out toward us – but they played tricks so that all the shadows from the statues and such didn’t move. I’m just glad we noticed them before they were on us.

Lydia threw bright sparkling bolts from her hand at one of them. Mikael and Sgt. Bearington bashed and tore into two others. The rest of us…not so well. Maybe they weren’t enough like “evil fire”? Tressarian just wasn’t on his game, and only bit them a few times.

You wouldn’t think floating lights could hurt you so bad…or take that much punishment. But the burns on my face and arms taught me different. (Ezekiel patched them up, of course, but the memory is still there.)

Mikael cracked one with his staff and knocked it to the floor. Heiron, also, speared one with an arrow — it flickered and went out. Raven stabbed one with a dagger, and its ethereal body oozed off the blade, lifeless.

The blows weren’t all on one side, though. Mikael’s pets got burned so badly they fled the battle. He had to coax them back so he could heal them.

Well, with the last of the enemy dead or chased away, we focused on the monster statues.

Ezekiel said his magic told him that the scroll tube in front of the beholder probably had a fire trap on it. Wonillon is protected from those things, so he went and tried to disable it. I mean, I assume he didn’t mean for the huge fire-ball to erupt. Everything is fine – except the scroll and case.

The mummy’s bottle wasn’t magical (smelled like acid, so we left it), but the staff it held was…and trapped with a “glyph of warding,” Ez said. He tried to protect himself with “protection from evil,” but I guess it still got him, and his eyes turned white! He staggered around for a bit until Lydia put Keotim’s Ointment on his eyes.

The wight’s urn (we thought it was silver, Wonillon says it’s platinum) had a very loose top. Ez wasn’t sure if it counted as a trap or not, but since Wonillon has the necklace of adaptation, the dust that poured out didn’t bother him. He called it “sneezing and choking” dust, and sprinkled some water to make it die down so the rest of us could come back in.

What else? A couple of the statues had magic jewelry that didn’t try to do anything to us when we took them. The dragon’s box had a load of gems inside, although Tres also says that the box itself is probably magical. Ez assured us the manticor’s crossbow was safe to pick up, so we did…only it has no string. I’ll have to look at it more closely if I get the chance.

Raven says he figured one of the daggers he’s been using has a resevoir of poison in the handle. That’s what happens when you steal evil people’s weapons and use them. He has to decide if he should keep using it without rinsing it out first. (Mikael says Cuddles uses poison…but he’s a snake; you wouldn’t expect him to do anything else.)

It was only early afternoon, but we decided the day had been exciting enough, so we took the stairs to Bel-Sornig’s suite and hunkered in. Ez closed Sgt. Bearington’s wounds, and Mikael changed himself into a raven and back to heal himself.

Gotta keep an eye on Raven that he doesn’t sneak any of those mushrooms into dinner.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….complications + the daily grind

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

Everyone got to Homlette safe! We went straight to the tower (as usual) where His Highness could get a new horse.

Master Bern seemed a little grumpy, but Sir Rufus greeted His Highness warmly and sent a servant hustling to get him a fresh horse.

The rest of us were more surprised to see Aliana Glimmersky! She said she “received information” that she needed to be in Homlette… Ezekiel got a knowing look and completely ignored Raven humming a song at him.

Aliana and His Highness left as soon as possible – but first he gave us a medallion and a ring for our efforts. Ezekiel made some kind of speech of well-wishing, but I wasn’t really listening. When the two of them took off down the road, we got an idea of what His Highness could really do on a horse, when he wasn’t letting us try to keep up. (I think Ralashaz is glad to stay with Lydia.)

Sir Rufus made some kind of comment that things were about to get very interesting. I’m very happy for Furiundy and Veluna…and Ezekiel says “Mr. Ewwy” might have something new to think about up north, now…but all the same, we have plenty to focus on down here. Best mind our own station.

Fighting those etins raised some questions in my mind that I want to ask…and also I want to show off that Lurker skin to someone who will actually appreciate the science of it. Must see if Lord Otis has a few free days.

****

Turns out the blacksmith shop had a rush custom order that couldn’t be delayed, so they told me to go run laps or something.

Long story short, I ran into Raven (he was supposed to be running laps, too). We ended up in the north of town, by the chapel of St. Cuthbert, and wouldn’t you know it the rest of the group were at the chapel, too. (Just as well…Raven was making me look like an asthmatic.)

When we walked in the door, we were struck to see –

[written in Lawful Good]

– Master Bern tied up in the side-sanctuary (the consecrated ground) with Canon Turjon and High Priest Eryon Yra standing around looking concerned. Lydia stood in front of everybody holding a crystal ball (the one we got from the evil wizard, I figured out later). Her special magic mirror stood against one wall.

As soon as I showed up, Ezekiel grabbed me and said, “Bring Tressarian! We need to talk to him!”

So I see how I rate.

Once Tres was out, Ez asked him to detect Evil.

Tressarian hummed, and said that nothing was Evil…except THAT THING in the box, and – Lydia.

So – the story I get from the others is, they were all called up here by Canon Turjon and the Priest, because Master Bern came in here during the night and tried to “relieve” the Canon of THAT BOX…but the Canon was actually alert while keeping watch, and so Master Bern ended tied up.

They detected Magic and Evil on him – but of course they had never thought to scan him before, so had no baseline to compare with. So they sent for our group, because we have actually been messing around in the Temple, and might have an idea how this could happen.

So they kicked around the idea that the wizard (Fulroy?) was desperate to recover a certain something to restore his cred with his bosses, and figured the Master was his best bet.

Lydia had Heiron bring her magic mirror, and somehow it told her that the crystal ball was the conduit for whatever happened to Master Bern. So Heiron went and fetched the crystal ball (which didn’t show up as Evil when we were searching the wizard’s hide-out) while Mikael cast Dispel Magic to lift whatever effect was on the Master.

His story is that he thought THAT THING would be safer at the tower, and he wanted to take it there, but Canon Turjon stopped him. He says he had no impression of an Evil influence.

When they asked him what he looked for in the crystal ball (since he did borrow it while we were out of town), he said he looked at the courts of Veluna and the Overking (Rawksus).

So Ezekiel cast Protection from Evil on Lydia, and asked her to retrace the Master’s search history. She said she’d never been to those places personally, but she probably knew enough about them by reputation. Everybody in Mitrik was celebrating the return of the prince (I think he was giving a speech when she peeked in), and the Overking’s Court was fuzzy, but there.

Same as with Master Bern, Lydia didn’t feel any different…but Tressarian doesn’t lie, and he doesn’t play games. So Lydia (rolling her eyes) unloaded her scrolls and potions and waited while Ezekiel read a Dispel Magic over her. (We also finally untied Master Bern.)

So…the long and the short is, we figure the crystal ball is cursed. It doesn’t show up to Tressarian, and Protection from Evil doesn’t guard against it…so our best bet is to not use it until we figure it out better. Not like scrying is a big part of our lives, anyway.

****

[written in Common]

Ezekiel went and got some special oil from High Priest Yra. He says it was Priest Yra’s ordination gift, so he feels very honored that he passed it on to him. He also tried to explain how it works. It’s nice to see him excited, so I let him talk.

Saw Raven fingering the teeny-tiny sack of grain he wears, and he and Ezekiel were talking over one of those sheepskins Ez bought a while back. Wonder what that‘s all about…but until it becomes my business, y’know, I’ve been with these types long enough, I won’t worry about them.

Gotta buy more arrows for tomorrow morning.

****

We need a better system. Or more bags of holding, maybe.

We reached the third basement by means of the stairs in the Air Sanctuary – so we didn’t have to go through the Evil purple room.

From the etin’s room, we headed to explore the north-east door. That hall led us to a room whose floor was covered with alternating red and black tiles. The support pillars were all black, too, and the walls were painted with ghouls, vampires, cultists, and demons – all having disgusting feasts together.

The floor was coated with dust, and a few tables stood around holding crusty, dirty dishes.

Ezekiel tip-toed forward, and splashed holy water in his face before opening the far door.

I couldn’t see anything beyond – except maybe some shadows…only, they weren’t cast by anything, they were just floating there in the air, darkening the space.

He waved his sheep symbol at them – then shoved it into his belt with a grunt so he could swing his mace.

Raven came up to cast faery fire from his ring, and Ez cracked a couple shadows so that they melted like ethereal smoke.

I sent an arrow through one of them – as an experiment – and as I expected, it didn’t even seem to notice. So I focused on guarding the hall and room at our backs with Ezekiel blocked the doorway, and Heiron brought his flame-tongue sword up to help him.

Well, they finally mopped up the enemy…and Ez showed us a little black rod (I think it was ebony) that was covered with symbols for “Mr. Eww.” He said it was for “protection from turning,” and cracked it on the ground.

The “shadows” had clawed him a couple times, which made him feel kinda winded and shaky, so he had a seat at one of the tables and told Tressarian (not me, mind you) to search the room for magic, Evil, and shifting stones.

We found a couple matched sets of gold dishes, but nothing particularly useful. So, once Ez was done with his break, we moved forward, and searched the next room we found.

This room was all covered in black…black velvet hangings on the walls, black cushions on the couches, dull black stone on the floors and walls, black cabinet – everything. It all looked in good condition, so I guess the bugbears weren’t allowed to live here…

Raven found a scroll and a potion in the cabinet (along with plenty of other, useless things) and a box full of black pearl necklaces. But other than that, the room was pretty boring.

The next section of hall was more striking, though. Thirteen skeletons stood along each side, holding pole-arms or missile weapons of some kind. I guess it was some kind of trophy room, since they were posed so nicely – and crossed swords hung on the wall beside some specific shields.

Ezekiel prodded one of the skeletons, just to see if it reacted, but it clattered into pieces like an ordinary dead thing. Tres did find one magic thing – a shield hanging on the wall, painted with the family crest of someone from Veluna. We should be able to return it to them, for closure.

A crowd of “shadows” came up a branch passage, trying to flank them – but they weren’t protected like the last batch, and one look at Ezekiel’s sheep symbol made them all shriek and evaporate like mist.

Ez told us to make a thorough search of the walls, so Tres and I did – and found a secret door. Inside, we found what I guess is an alchemist’s storeroom…shelves and shelves of empty bottles, flasks, and the like – with mounds on the floor of colored candles, chalk, charcoal, and who knows what else. Raven pinched some chalk, but otherwise we don’t really have a need for that stuff. Oh, except for the fuel oil…we use that a fair amount. To burn things.

Ezekiel figured the storeroom-passage connected up with the branch-passage from the skeleton room, so he had us go one way while he headed the other way.

Our passage (south of the skeleton room) led us to a room full of red – rotting red cushions of various hues, a lacquered desk of orange-red, a red cinnabar serving set, and: two huge candelabras of rose gold. We had quite a time squeezing them into the bag of holding. Raven and Heiron said they each weighed as much as I do, but how would they know?

We couldn’t find any secret passages – even Tressarian couldn’t – and Ezekiel couldn’t find a connection on the other side (though according to the map his hallway and our red room share a wall). So maybe they meant to add a door at some point, but never got around to it.

We still had a corridor we hadn’t explored from before — it led to yet another alchemy workshop (this one with fewer body parts scattered around). Glyphs and elemental symbols covered the walls and floors, while beakers, flasks, and such crowded the workbenches.

Wonillon and Lydia helped us search for whatever might be valuable. We found a bunch of platinum, electrum, and gold – not in coins, but powdered or in chunks. We also found a big, heavy pottery flask full of mercury – which Lydia says she can use for some spells. There’s a lot more that might be useful down there, but we didn’t have any more room to carry it out. It’s irritating to spend most of our time hiking back and forth to town, but I’m not sure what the alternative is.

While the others were loading up, I heard something big and heavy coming down the hall. A grating voice said, “Break your bones!”

Heiron got an arrow into the first giant right off (I believe they were hill giants) and then Mikael lit them up with faery fire — I saw three of them, glowing at the edge of my consciousness.

Ezekiel blocked the hall so the giants couldn’t get at us – Raven even snarled a couple of them in his magic rope. With so many advantages, Heiron and I felt like we were shooting fish in a barrel. Guess that’s what teamwork is all about.

We made a detour to pick up the silver cross, lamp, and statue of Fultus from the “shrine” we found last time (at this point, we figured there’s no point trying to pretend nobody found that place). Then even Sgt. Bearington was topped off – no more room anywhere!

The plus side of this is we get to check on our horses every day or so. And also the spring air is refreshing.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….class specialization

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

Good news: town has been quiet. We may be stirring up the evil cultists, but so far they’re keeping their attention on us…not on the ordinary folks behind the lines.

Tomorrow we return to the Temple. The prisoners we rescued are already on their way home. One more success story.

****

We started by heading up a passage that slants between the bronze umber-hulk room and the secret door to the prison. Not far along, stairs lead down about thirty feet. As soon as the room opened out, Wonillon charged forward. (Whatever you say about the little guy, he had pluck and enthusiasm…)

Moments later, the rest of us got close enough to see what he was attacking. A giant with two heads stood next to a firepit in the center of the room. It was dark when we arrived, by after Lydia fired her fireball, it started smoldering.

So did the etin’s club – but before he could do any damage with it, Ezekiel bashed one head with his mace, Mikael bit it with insects, and I nailed the second head with an arrow.

Nothing else in the etin’s quarters really interested us – a cask of poor beer, a stinky pile of bedding, and a pot of cold stew that probably had human-ish bits in it – even if it didn’t smell so unappetizing. We’ll have to let Raven know how much we miss his cooking.

The etin’s room must really have been a hub of traffic. Four iron doors led out of the room – two east, two north – plus a passage that headed west and ended in yet another door.

Wonillon and Lydia opened the doors for us…to discover every single one had stairs leading up – like the staircase we’d come down to get there. Someone very thoughtfully built a room with a forty-foot ceiling so giants would have one place they felt comfortable…right at the crossroads of the passages. I assume he was supposed to guard the doors?

Ezekile took Heiron with him and dashed off down a passage, telling the rest of us to “guard this area.” If he took Lydia with him, we’d really be suspicious. (I guess he had a good idea where it led, and wanted to save time?)

While we waited for him, Lydia wondered why the etin had an oil-soaked club, ready for him to use fire on whatever he was fighting. Maybe he wanted to be ready for one of those disgusting slimes that we’re always running into down here? Maybe the Temple should have installed a slime-excluder somewhere…

Well, Ezekiel and Heiron came back and announced that they found another cell of the prison, but both areas are empty now (except maybe for some ogre thigh-bones and such. I will lose no sleep over dead ogres).

Next, Ez picked a door to the north, and we followed it (all of us, this time) through a well-stocked pantry. We’d have plenty of cooking supplies – if we ever stayed in the Temple more than an afternoon. Really, lately it seems like we have picnics in here, and then head back to town for our hot baths and stuff.

We did find a big cask of brandy that someone thought might be worth money (that and a crystal goblet set), so we took it along… Sgt. Bearington wears it well.

We continued down the corridor to another of the ugly fountains – with a room opposite.

And here’s where it gets…personal.

Ezekiel went first, and Wonillon went with him (he sure wasn’t one to hang back, that gnome). All I could see through the door was surprisingly vivid carpet, and a dead body…an elf lady, from the look of things, though when Ez picked up her hand you could see the skin was barely keeping the bones together. She’d been dead for ages…still with a dagger in her back.

Then – screaming. I don’t know where the screaming was coming from, or who was doing it, and Mikael at least is nice enough not to talk about it.

I just know I pulled myself together and found myself running down the passage back the way we’d come. Panting a little, I came back – holding Tressarian because he made me feel better.

Lydia was crowded by the door with Mikael, wiggling her fingers like she was thinking about something, but I stayed out in the hallway and kept watch with Heiron. He didn’t ask where I went, and I felt better just keeping watch with him and Tressarian.

All we could hear from inside the room was Ezekiel grunting, and sometimes bellowing, “Give me strength,” and things like that.

Finally, he said “Mercy is rest” or something, there was one more angry scream, and then Lydia seemed to think it was safe.

Mikael dragged Wonillon out of the room and chanted his healing spell…but Wonillon didn’t seem any different. There wasn’t a mark on him, but he was white and stiff and staring.

Ez called me to the door so Tres could tell us if anything was magical (I didn’t like going too far into the room). The dead body was clutching a stone carved with runes that’s magical, and as far as Lydia can tell, it’s something about avoiding poison (a “periapt” she says). So, naturally, we said Ezekiel should hold on to it.

Besides some fancy jewelry and rich clothes, there wasn’t much left of interest. Mikael found a book of elven poetry, but if I’m understanding right there was too much questionable symbolism with leaves and not enough actual trees for his tastes.

The paintings on the walls were certainly “questionable” – and the cabinet in the corner had displays of various mummified body parts (human and animal!). Ez says there’s no question the elf was part of the Temple hierarchy before her death, and he and Lydia have a theory that she was in the way of the wizard’s advancement, so he had his personal assassin take care of her.

Lydia did find a scroll of magic user spells underneath the body…which reinforces the idea that she wasn’t killed for her stuff.

It gets me thinking, though. Just like those mummified parts in glass cases…the jackal-weres with their rock and their fake sunlight…the badger-stags with their magical breeze and their rocky, cave-y habitat. And now, a posh elvish lady, secure in her Evil ways and fond of her indulgent lifestyle – betrayed and literally stabbed in the back…only for her spirit to cling bitterly on and attack anyone who dares invade her chamber.

Ezekiel calls the thing he defeated a “banshee”…and if I’m remembering my spooky camp stories right, this room is like a textbook environment for a banshee. Almost like…a banshee in a glass case.

The half-orc assassin called the purple room of statues a “trophy room.” What about these other places? Is this the Evil Queen’s idea of a hobby?

(Speaking of the assassin…it’s plain there were some areas on this level that “slipped her mind” or something.)

Heiron secured Wonillon’s body onto Sgt. Bearington, and we prepared to return – only to have etin number two confront us in the hallway.

I was still holding Tressarian, so it took longer to kill it (I’m not as fast with a sword), but Lydia kept it pinned down with a stinking cloud, and Heiron helped with arrows.

But it felt very good to cut something solid…something I understood…and to feel like I could contribute usefully.

After that, it was smooth sailing – no slimy color monsters this time! – and we should reach Homlette by tomorrow. If we’re quick enough, hopefully Cleric What’s-His-Name of Rau, who’s staying at the tower, can help Wonillon.

It’s that, or try to find his next-of-kin to send his body and stuff to. It could be a pretty bulky parcel…

****

Wonillon feeling fit as a fiddle again (except that he’s been hungry all day). He admitted to me that he’s had some nightmares about that pale glowing spirit of the vengeful elf – but insists it’ll take more than that to keep a gnome down.

(He also said he didn’t blame me for running away screaming like a little girl…gotta find out who’s been talking…)

……

[written in Lawful Good]

The council asked us to join them at the for a meeting. They’ve been studying the box that Tressarian identified as Evil, and wanted to show us the latest development.

They had it in th on holy ground, protected. Heiron volunteered to open it, though it clearly made him nervous, and inside…

A human skull, with no lower jar – all solid gold. Four empty sockets in it.

Made my skin go all over goosebumps just looking at it – and from their faces, I think Mikael, Ezekiel, and Raven felt the same.

Then suddenly Ez started dancing up and down — he says it’s the gold key, and now we just need the four boxes. (I didn’t know what he was talking about until I dug through my old notes at the bottom of my pack.)

Cleric Elyan thought if someone held it, they might get power…so Ez made Lydia go investigate.

She says the thing let her detect lies (although it got a bit confused over “Ezekiel has a girlfriend”), know people’s alignment, or cause poison…and also (not sure how she knew this, but we trust her word) it makes the Great Throne “go down.”

So that’s our key to the next level, after we’ve finished with all the stairs…and I’m beginning to have an idea where the boxes of the four compass-points might tie in…but we have a lot to do before we get there.

And I’m much more confused by these questions:

Why did the Wizard Falrinth leave this box behind? If it really is so crucial to them, why abandon it?

Maybe he didn’t know what it was? Maybe he didn’t have time, while he was fleeing us (though it seems like we gave him plenty of time)?

Perhaps he knew what it was, but hadn’t told his superiors, because he wanted all the credit for putting it together? If that’s the case, he must be kicking himself pretty hard right now. (And if his superiors tasked him with taking care of it…boy, they’re going to be super mad at him right now. Under this circumstance, he might have just headed for the hills, and isn’t even in the Temple anymore.)

Maybe – he assumed none of us could carry it out?!

After all, only Heiron and Lydia could even force themselves to touch it.

I don’t like this possibility, because it means the wizard might actually know what this ugly paperweight is…which means their team now knows that we have it.

And they likely have a good idea where we’re hiding it.

Well, we just have to trust our allies to watch their own backs, while we keep needling away at the enemies’ stronghold, and trying to keep their attention.

[written in Common]

Maybe suggest to Father Elyan that he keep Raise Dead handy…? At least for the next few weeks?

Maybe we should set up a tab – for Ezekiel? (Of course for Ezekiel! Not like the rest of us ever die…)


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….the bug-man and the badger-stags

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

Starday, 15 Planting

Before calling it a day, Ezekiel said we should check out the room where “the queen’s pet” was supposed to live – still going off the map that assassin gave us. So we headed there (opposite the passage is a fountain on the wall…ugly stone faces vomiting water into the basins. I for one won’t be drinking any.)

Very curious set-up in the “pet’s” room. After the turn of the hall, the floor abruptly drops probably sixteen feet – except for a narrow ledge that runs around the entire room; Raven could probably move on it, but anyone else would probably fall. The whole lower part of the room – walls and floor – is coated with bronze. There’s also a grill or ladder of some kind attached to the ceiling, with a chain hanging from the end into the room. Bone fragments and other litter was scattered sparsely on the floor, and the whole place gave me a decidedly creepy feeling.

Mikael turned himself into a bat (because he can do that, you know!) and flew out into the room to check things out (we figured he could get away from anything dangerous…or he’d be so small whatever was down there couldn’t bother him).

He made a pass of the room beyond (huge and octagonal), then returned and told us (once he was back in human form) about two little side rooms to the north and south. In one of those rooms, he described seeing a “bug-like man” with big pincher arms. Lydia said it sounded like an “umber-hulk,” which are supposed to live in the Underdark or something, and sound like bad news (tunneling through walls to jump you from behind, that kind of thing).

Ezekiel decided we should kill it now, before it was used in the Evil army or something, and we figured that if we made noise it might come out and our ranged weapons could take it out. So we banged on the grill and made noises like helpless food offerings, and Mikael even banged his staff against the bronze coating of the walls, but it was no use.

Heiron volunteered to climb the ladder-grill-thing, so while Ez and Wonillon and the pets guarded the corridor, he grabbed the rungs and started working his way toward the end with the chain.

When he was maybe half-way along – out over the drop into the rest of the room – the ladder started shifting at an angle…his weight was pulling it down so that it levered down on a hinge above our heads. That made it definitely look like a way to climb in and out of the pit (you could grab the chain and pull the ladder down) but we decided maybe he shouldn’t be the one doing that, so he climbed back.

Then Ezekiel got one of his “noble sacrifice” fits that he gets, and had Lydia cast Protection from Evil on him…and then he had us lower him into pit on a rope of climbing (I put our second one on my belt, and maybe that will be a good place to keep it for a while, so it’s handier in case we need it quick).

As soon as his armored feet clanged onto the bronze floor, we heard the creature charge.

It’s just as weird as Mikael described it. Heiron and I each got a shot into it before Lydia launched her fireball. It stared at Ezekiel and kind of flailed at him – but before it could do any real damage, he clocked it with his mace and felled it to the ground.

It all seemed rather anti-climactic…but that’s how these things go sometimes. Heiron and I climbed down the rope – he to search for treasure, me to skin the beastie.

[sketch of umber-hulk; diagram of hide attachments]

Lydia chewed me out that I ruined its eyes (it had four of them) but no one told me they were good for anything, and I think I made a pretty neat job of skinning an insectoid head if I do say so myself.

Oh, right – Heiron and Wonillon searched the siderooms. One of them was clearly the bathroom, and full of stinky remains of adventurers. Mikael sent Corby down to help Wonillon “find shiny!” so while the two of them were busy, Heiron dug through the umber-hulk’s bedroom (the “bed”/nest was a mound of cloth, skins, furs, and the like…and it took a while to figure out if anything down there was worthwhile).

I had just gone to help him when I heard a commotion of some kind upstairs. I scrambled up the rope to find the others in pitched battle with some trolls.

Lydia fried one, and Sergeant Bearington bit the head off another. I lined up a shot – but the string slipped, and if Ezekiel hadn’t ducked at just that moment… Well, anyway, he did duck, and the arrow got the last troll through the throat – knocking him back into the ugly fountain on the wall.

Heiron joined us and stabbed the troll bodies with his flametongue sword until they were ash.

Wonillon joined us – wearing new boots just his size! – and after the healers had patched up the wounded, we voted to spend the night in Cleric Kelno’s quarters (I didn’t like the idea of using the wizard’s room; he’s still around here somewhere, after all!).

Sounds like Cuddles took the worst of the troll attacks. He’s all back together again, thanks to Ezekiel, but I don’t like the way he’s looking at me. It’s not like I was even there at the time – and if he’s thinking of someone easy to swallow, that would be Wonillon! Note to self: save Cuddles a bugbear or something next time I see one.

****

Back to town again. Can’t say the day was exactly satisfactory.

We got up early, and continued exploring past the umber-hulk room. The east end of the corridor leads into a large room with a domed roof, and huge boulders stuck here and there. Like the magic-sunlight room, I think it’s supposed to be like a natural climate somewhere in the world…a cold, damp wind blows through (obviously it could only come from magical means), and the walls are designed to look like “natural” rocks and cave formations.

As we approached the doorway, we heard what sounded like a woman’s voice saying, “Oh, darling!”

If that wasn’t bad enough, a man answered her something like, “Sweetheart, you fill me with passion!”

This being in the Temple of Elemental Evil. Where most of the wall art doesn’t deserve the name. We all knew we were heading for something bad – but Ezekiel and Wonillon didn’t hesitate, and charged ahead to find out what it was.

Next thing we knew, something attacked…but even after killing two of the things, we’re still not sure what they are. I’m calling them lion-badger-stags…Heiron calls them “ugly as sin.” Were they the ones speaking with human voices, or was that a different magic nonsense? No one knows – although Ezekiel and Lydia had a big long discussion about it.

Tressarian and I poked around for magical items, and we found a dead dwarf adventurer. It feels odd to plunder his gear like this, but we’re not really equipped to give him proper burial. We also spotted a magical axe down a crack in the floor – but our Rope of Climbing was able to grab onto it, and then we pulled it out.

With that settled, we returned to investigate a secret door Ezekiel had noticed on our way in. Wonillon helped him open it, and they entered the little closet room beyond…but it took Lydia and Bacaab (the owl) to help them find the second secret door in the far wall.

Through that…well, I could smell what was past that. Ezekiel just told us it was a prison, and went to check the main door on the far wall.

Filthy straw coated the floor, except for a drain hole in the center, and an assortment of humanoids shared the space with two humans.

Ezekiel fed each of them a ration (he never makes distinctions) and was getting ready to lead everybody out when the humans told us that the bugbear and orc “ate Charlie.”

They weren’t eager to travel with creatures of this kind – and we couldn’t blame them – but as Ezekiel pointed out, our alternatives weren’t good, either. We suggested giving them weapons and letting them fight for their death, but would that really be better?

Wonillon took the orc out of the discussion by knifing him (he told me later it was in exchange for Charlie) and then Ezekiel got the humans out of the room.

Thinking back on it, we could have just left the others there…but I didn’t think of that at the time. And as much as I hate goblins, and their stench gives me nightmares – killing prisoners is bad mojo. Even if they weren’t our prisoners, it’s still the kind of thing that comes back to bite you.

So Wonillon tied up the survivors (a bugbear and two goblins) and we escorted the whole group out of the Temple.

Once on the surface, we helped the humans into our cart, and let the bugbear and his tag-alongs run off into the woods. As Wonillon pointed out, the bugbear won’t starve.

Well, if I run into them again, trying to raid the local villages…I won’t make any distinction.

The humans say they were kidnapped from a village beyond Homlette, and kept as food for a two-headed giant.

I look forward to giving this creep indigestion. Eating people…you just don’t do that.

Speaking of which, too late to find out if the humanoids were kidnapped, also, or just disgraced servants of the Temple. Not that it matters a great deal. Next time, they might not be so lucky.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….we aren’t stupid

Made it to the campsite safely, although we had some excitement leaving the dungeon.

We were passing through all the bugbear/ogre bodies that Lydia burned at the bottom of the stairs, and met something coming down…black, oozing, and spreading from wall to wall across the stairs.

Lydia’s fireball made it bubble a bit, but sure didn’t fry it immediately. Ezekiel traded blows with the thing — it slapped at him without sticking to his armor, and he bashed it down the middle into two moving blobs.

My arrow had only seemed to make it runnier and wider, so I backed up and hunted for a torch in my bag. The thing (or rather, things) were still coming down the stairs toward us, so Wonillon ran forward and dumped a flask of oil across the threshold. Lydia set that on fire, and while the creatures were fizzling and popping in the blaze, Heiron shot an arrow through the fire…it seemed to pop one of the beasties and make it collapse into sticky glaze on the stairs.

Ezekiel (as soon as he could move through the wall of fire) chased the other bubbly mass and smacked it into a huge, hideous stain all over the staircase. Magic armor or not, I don’t think that’ll wash out.

Once back to our horses, Ezekiel started questioning our prisoner. She said her name was Smigmal (half-orc name if I ever heard one) and the magic user’s name was Falrinth. (He’s apparently a proud servant of Lolth, which explains his bedspread and pop-up box. She says his familiar was a “gift” from Lolth.)

The assassin said she and Falrinth were “friends,” that he was her supervisor but that he also appreciated her particular “skill set.”

Then she batted her eyelashes at him, and I went to throw up behind a tree.

When I came back, she was explaining that Falrinth was probably reporting to the brass on the lower levels: Headrak, a cleric of the Old One; a wizard; and another cleric (leaders of the army they’re building down there).

That would all be the Greater Temple the other guy told us about…and they’re raising an army for some reason. The assassin said the communication wasn’t very clear, and after all, she wasn’t really interested in that part.

She said she was in it for the money, and didn’t really care about the religious/political side of things. So she asked what she would get in exchange for answering all our questions so nicely, and pointed out that now that she’d been defeated by us, the Temple people would kill her, so we might as well let her ride off into the sunset.

I was not about to let a crazy dangerous enemy like that walk away – it was our duty to take her to the tower, if nothing else (she’s like all the things that make my skin crawl wrapped up in one package) – but she smiled and batted her eyelashes at me, and I had to go puke again.

When I came back, the others had out-voted me. Mikael said that if she went far, far away from us and stayed on her best behavior, we could let her go – and Lydia pointed out that they’d both been studying her face, so could scry her and find her if we heard of something fishy. And we all know how open and soft Ez is, so he said we could absolutely leave her tied to a tree and both go our separate ways.

After that agreement, he got her to sketch out a map of the dungeon level (seems small by comparison) and asked a few more questions about the set-up down there.

The purple room with the Evil lights is apparently some kind of “trophy” room…the assassin says she thinks the statues really are statues, but also said, “The Mushroom Queen does things her way.”

(Ez reminded us that’s the Demon Girlfriend who’s supposed to be locked up in the Temple. We definitely seem to be reaching the root of things at long last.)

[sketch with labels – big rock; Mushroom Queen’s pet; rock garden; passage that comes out under tower (the tower in the courtyard…assassin said she mostly used that entrance)]

When we were done with our questions, we tied her to a tree and went our way. She’ll get out soon enough, and supposedly head off toward the Wild Coast to seek her fortune. You can’t trust types like that…but I guess we didn’t really have a better option. It’s not going to help me sleep, though. Just the thought makes my bottom rib kinda sore.

****

Wish I could draw Master Bern’s face when he saw us unload some of this stuff…especially that magic mirror. Lydia has rented a room in the tower to store all the spell components and books and stuff we found for her…I wonder if she’ll let him borrow some of it once in a while?

They were not interested in the magic box with the pop-up spider – even as a “neener-neener” to the servants of Lolth – so we’ll probably take it apart to see if the pieces are worth anything separately. Ezekiel is pretty sure what all the potions we got will do, but some of the wands and other things will need time to figure out.

It might take a while…I saw Ezekiel snagged by that cleric of Rau who’s staying at the tower lately – and Lydia said she wants to read the spellbooks we pilfered from Falrinth. Just as well…Heiron came to me with that look in his eye that always ends with us going to the back yard and beating each other up. Some of the things he was asking me, though, he’ll have to ask somebody at the tower. I mean…I understand the question, but I can only keep so many things in my head at once…and does it really make that big a difference how you hold your pinkie while swinging a sword?

Oh, Tressarian says, yes it does matter.

But he can’t tell dog tracks from badger tracks…so there’s that.

****

Had some nice visitors today. Elvish messengers came to the inn, from the Countess Trillahi and Sir Juffer, and gave Ezekiel a super light set of chainmail – real elven work! (I’m not sure it would fit, and it’s not magical…but definitely something for him to save for his kids! Though maybe they meant to give it to Heiron, since they thought he was the party leader at first?)

They also had something for the “young lady who risked her life against a werewolf” – a ring made from real unicorn horn! I’m not sure if it does anything special, but it’s a reminder that Ehlonna is always looking out for us.

Ezekiel got back a few days ago. He hasn’t really said where he went, but he’s got a novice cleric of Rau following him around gushing about the mummies he killed. Apparently he hit them with his mace and didn’t even need Raven holding them still with his rope…so maybe he really has been doing exercises like I suggested. Mikael is likewise back from meeting with Master Geru…though he hasn’t told us if he killed anything while he was gone. “Druid secrets” and all that.

Since we were all together again, Ezekiel explained some of the magical gear we’d found last time. The wands from the closet were, unfortunately, nothing but sticks with a “magic aura” on them (because apparently that’s a thing).

The assassin’s ring, though, is very interesting: we thought maybe it did invisibility, but apparently that’s not all it does. It’s a “ring of spell storage,” meaning a spell-caster can “load” it with spells, and then anyone can use it to cast the spell later on. Right now it’s got several charges of invisibility (as far as we can tell), but Lydia could use it to stock up while she’s in town, and then use extra spells while in the dungeon. Let’s just say Ezekiel is drooling to be a “magic user” just a little bit.

As for those big books Falrinth had on his book-stands…one of them, apparently, if I’m understanding this right, has techniques you can study that will help you to impress people. The way Ez tells it, if you spent enough time poring over this book, and then practicing its advice, you’d gain the skills to improve your leadership influence. Don’t know why he looked so pointedly at me when he said that. Besides, I don’t have time to mess with that nonsense. Heiron’s keeping me plenty busy with our work-out routine.

The other tome is an entirely different animal. Sounds like it’s a trap of some kind, where every word you read makes you dumber. Not sure how that would work, but it’s magic, so it just does. In fact, I have an idea that it’s like those pamphlets Father was so mad about when he found them in Bartholomew’s room.

The other thing kind of interesting from the wizard’s room is called a “wand of a wonder.” Sounds like it’s a Raven-on-a-stick…you cast a charge, and something random happens. No telling what might happen, though, good or bad…so it’s not really something you want to take into a combat situation.

Speaking of Raven, though, he says he’s found an opportunity to help a local family with their planting, and he’s going to be busy with that for a few weeks. We’re sad to lose his help…but he looked so eager, you really can’t argue with him.

I always like this time of year. Even if I’m going to spend it trucking back and forth to an underground hell-hole, at least I know Ehlonna and the other Good powers are still in control of the world, and making things grow again, and maybe we can wipe out this Evil Temple once and for all this time.

****

Back in the dungeon.

That room with the purple light sure is weird, but at least the light didn’t seem to hurt us. According to Tres, each of the monster-statues were staring at or wearing some kind of magic item…like the blue dragon was staring at a chest of gems, or the medusa was wearing a black velvet cloak, or the beholder was staring at a scroll tube (with all its eyes, so that’s most of it).

Anyway, we may be young, but we’re not stupid…we just kept on walking and let those things lie.

The next room was trickier. According to the assassin’s map, there was a big rock in the middle of the room, and she’d told us about the fake sunlight there. Sure enough, as we rounded the turn of the corridor, we saw what seemed to be real sunlight shining down from the ceiling ahead. We also saw the big rock…and on top, and man and a woman chained just out of reach of a pack of frantic jackals. Some foxes and packs of rats also swarmed the floor – but didn’t seem interested in the rock. The jackals were lunging and snapping at the couple, and we could definitely see what looked like bite marks on the two, but the rock was so smooth the jackals were easily kicked off it.

The most worrying thing right away, though, was the four harpies sitting up in alcoves near the ceiling, staring down at the scene. As soon as they saw us, they opened their mouths, and I clapped my hands over my ears. The man and woman also noticed us at once, and cried out for help.

Heiron, not missing a beat, launched an arrow at one of them – at arrow that seemed to bounce off it like I’ve never seen a harpy and arrow interact before. Mikael also leapt into action (figuratively), siccing a cloud of insects on one of the harpies. It certainly didn’t like that, and sat snarling and slashing at the biting bugs swarming it.

Ezekiel did something with his sheep toy and a vial of holy water, while Wonillon and the jackals went at each other (Wonillon did much better, and butchered five of them).

By that time, I’d had the chance to size up the situation. Either everyone else (meaning Wonillon, Ez, and Heiron) was really good at tuning out the harpies, or these harpies weren’t singing as well as previous ones we’ve met. I risked it to let go of my ears, grab my bow, and fire at one of the harpies. We each had the same effect on each other…bouncing off with no harm done.

One of the harpies had come to join the jackals in the attack. Another one had tried to do the same…and face-planted into the floor. I guess this flying thing is tricky.

As I drew Tressarian, I saw Wonillon slump to the floor and start snoring. As I carved my way toward him through a sea of jackals, Mikael whacked a harpy with his rod…it made a strange cracking sound when he hit it.

All this time, the foxes and swarms of rats had been milling around, not even acknowledging our presence. Heiron shot down the last of the jackals and sent an arrow through a fox…an arrow that caught nothing but air as it passed through.

And at this point, the little mysteries that had been building suddenly broke to a new level. The woman cried out, “I will help!”, snapped the chain free, grabbed some things from the top of the rock, and jumped down.

Tres and I beheaded a “harpy” — it fell apart like chunks of rock. This is not how normal harpies behave when they die.

The man jumped off the rock with a sword and swung at one of the “harpies” – but sliced Wonillon instead somehow.

The harpies (except for the one still fighting insects in the alcove) and former prisoners traded blows with us (meaning we all whiffed at each other)… Meanwhile, Mikael chanted something I’ve never heard before, and pointed at the back of the room. The foxes and rats in the back half of the room disappeared – and the “harpy” fighting the insects turned into a gargoyle.

Ezekiel and Heiron took out the woman while Mikael and Wonillon battered a “harpy.” Lydia threw an egg past us, choking our enemies with green cloud — the surviving “harpy” retreated to its perch at the back of the room, while the man staggered out of the cloud, gagging.

After checking that Ez didn’t want dibs on the surviving two “harpies,” Tressarian and I headed over the cloud and pursued them into their alcove perches (the ceiling is really bright, but I could push myself along it with no problems). Tres finished off the wounded one…but when we turned to attack the last one, it was just shaking off the last of Mikael’s insects (that, or the insects finally lost interest — they are only bugs, after all, and they did good work while they lasted). The gargoyle – which didn’t look like a harpy anymore – ducked my swing and flew off down the corridor. Tres and I could never catch it like that, so I let myself back to the floor with a rope of climbing.

When I rejoined the others, the cloud had disappeared, and Mikael was just telling everyone how the man and woman were “jackal-weres.” (The woman’s head had changed into a jackal’s head in the meantime.) Apparently they’re originally jackals, but can turn into human form…and they can create illusions, and make people fall asleep, and command the service of real jackals and stuff. Also they hate humans for some reason, so we would never have gotten along…so the others finished the “man” off.

Ezekiel healed Wonillon (who was pretty mauled, but he and Mikael were the only ones of us who really got hurt) while Mikael searched the bodies. The couple had a longsword, dagger, mace, and a key (though the chains had all disappeared, along with the foxes and rats). Wonillon found a bunch of money under the big rock, along with a scroll and a potion – Ez says the potion looks like “plant control,” but Tres says it’s not magical anymore thanks to Mikael’s “dispel magic.” Mikael says he could ask Obed-Hai for “plant control” anyway, so that’s a good think to keep in mind if we go up against evil fungi (and his spell sure helped clarify some things in the fight – like why the harpies couldn’t sing worth anything. Not like I’m complaining).

The gargoyles didn’t have anything interesting in their perches (yet another hint that they weren’t real harpies), so that finished off that room (except for the general magic “ambiance” Tres can sense in there…which I guess is tied up with the fake sunlight).

The day is young, so we’re deciding whether to advance to where the “Mushroom Queen’s pet” is supposed to hang out.

If it turns out to be an evil mushroom, we may wish Mikael had asked for “Plant Control”…


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….is someone an over-achiever?

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

The hall led south from the guard quarters we had just cleared, until we could see some kind of light up ahead. It’s always hard to tell, since our shields shine so brightly, but this light seemed unnatural and purplish.

We could also see figures in the room with the light…horrible creatures, like a medusa, a fire giant, a beholder, some kind of were-tiger, a mummy, even a blue dragon and a wyvern! As we got closer, they looked very much like statues…but we’ve learned by now not to take chances.

I warned Tressarian that we were trying to be sneaky, and asked him what he could see. He told us the cressets on the walls (full of globby purple coals or something like that) were Evil – but that the statues didn’t “feel” Evil. There was some kind of magic in the room (the medusa’s cloak appeared to be magical) but that’s all he could tell us without actually entering the room. And even Ezekiel was showing caution and staying on the near side of the threshold.

After some discussion, we decided to follow the corridor that turned away from this room…even though we could see more doorways beyond, we weren’t quite up to dealing with mysterious Evil magic like that.

And whatever else, I think we made the right call.

The corridor turned and headed west, ending in a circular room. The ceiling rose up farther than our lights could reach – especially as the light got caught in huge cobwebs that spanned the room. Fortunately, they were so dusty we think they’re abandoned. (Mikael was hoping to add another spider to his collection, but I don’t think he asked for Neutralize Poison today, and we all know how much Ezekiel likes walking into poisonous things.)

The floor was covered in dust and empty husks…but even though I couldn’t find any footprints, Tres spotted a flagstone that lifted up to reveal a trapdoor. Underneath, clean, well-used steps led down into darkness.

Raven checked them for traps, and assured us they only went down about fifteen feet (Wonillon confirmed this). Well, it seemed better than the purple room in any case, so we tip-toed down them.

At the bottom, a narrow passage led to yet another secret door, and when Ezekiel opened that, he took a step backward at the sight of a giant lizard (he told me later it was a basilisk).

I had an arrow ready, so I fired – and nailed the lizard right through the head. It didn’t seem to mind, and glared at us.

Raven held out his magic ring, and the basilisk started shining with faery fire. Ezekiel waved his mace, and a magic light appeared behind the basilisk’s head.

After this, I’m not exactly sure what all happened. Someone had lit a fire in a channel that ran along the wall, and it was lighting up the room beyond as it raced along the wall both toward and away from us.

Ezekiel charged forward, and while I was trying to decide whether to switch to my magic arrows, Raven ran after him.

The fire along the wall ignited the fuel in two cressets – one at either end of its run – and seemed to stop there…which reassured me.

Ezekiel shouted, “It’s just illusion,” so Mikael moved into the room and started poking at the cresset.

(I think he said, “Hello, centipede,” but I’m not sure).

The basilisk glared at Raven, but when nothing bad happened, I was pretty sure the lizard was just for show. I told Lydia and Wonillon that the basilisk “probably” wasn’t dangerous, but I still thought something sketchy was going on. So Lydia cast protection from evil on herself.

Raven ducked into the body of the basilisk and stood with his feet sticking out of its belly, making strange grunting sounds. If it were someone else, I might worry that it had gotten to him, but that’s the kind of thing he’s always doing.

Ezekiel headed east, where the corridor opened up into the main body of the room, and I had just about decided that I probably didn’t need my magic arrows, and I could cautiously follow the others, when something clattered to the floor.

Mikael rushed forward and around the corner, and I followed (hugging the wall) just in time to see him head through an open door (also hugging the wall). He started chanting a spell I’ve heard all too often in this party.

Lydia asked if it was clear, while Raven moved to where he had a vantage point – his glowing marble and his magic rope in hand. There was a second door opposite the open one, and I kept an eye on it so no one could get the drop on Raven…but turns out I was watching the wrong place.

He yelped (he says he didn’t, but I heard him) as a shadowy woman stepped out of thin air and swiped at him with a knife. I was so keyed up that I missed both my shots at her, but then Raven swung his magic rope and she got all wrapped up.

I moved to a better vantage point, and saw Mikael just helping Ezekiel to his feet. It doesn’t take a genius to put bloody daggers and stained flagstones together, and if Ezekiel hadn’t spoken up right then and said we wanted her as a prisoner, Princess Stabby-stab was about to retire

(Tressarian says I shouldn’t talk that way. He says bloodthirstiness isn’t nice, and after all, she’s only an Assassin, not a fire elemental thing. Nobody understands…)

Now that she was fully visible, she looked like an elf, and blinked around her saying, “What happened? Who are you? Where am I?”

That just made me madder, but Wonillon came up and hustled her away to tie her with “normal” ropes, and Ezekiel told me to help him with the southern door.

Tressarian told us it had a spell on it (Lydia thought probably “Hold Portal” or something) and about that time Mikael looked into a crack in the wall and said, “Where’d the centipede go?”

Raven helped him look, since hunting centipedes is not on my short list of skills, and just about then we had another crisis when Wonillon yanked the lady down to eye level and ripped off the top part of her ear. It sounds extreme – but there was no blood or anything…in fact, underneath her skin looked green and half-orcish.

I took Tressarian over by her – and Ezekiel said, “Oh, good – find out what gear she has that’s magical!”

(A short sword, ring, leather armor, and shield.)

By the time we were done disarming her, Lydia told us the door was free, and Ezekiel opened it.

Obviously a bedroom, with a fancy embroidered spider on the bedding (Mikael wants it). A couple parchments hung on the walls, and the shelves and cupboards were crowded with mummified animals (some soaking in jars, some mounted on wires…very creepy. Not what I’d want in my bedroom, that’s for sure).

As soon as he opened the door, Ezekiel rushed to the wall opposite, cheering, “A map of the entire dungeon level!” Next thing we knew, something exploded – and Ezekiel slammed backward into Mikael’s arms. So Mikael cast yet another heal spell to bring Ezekiel back to consciousness.

(It’s nice Mikael seems amused by the back-and-forth, but really Ezekiel, don’t you think you’re taking him for granted? I mean, one of these times he might not be able to bring you back again.)

There’s a symbol on the floor right by the door that I found very suspicious, but even though Tres said it was magical, it hasn’t done anything to us. He also told us that the parchment hanging on the east wall (by another door) was magical – and Lydia suspects it’s a warning to leave the door alone…an explosive warning! (So far we haven’t triggered it.)

When he was done holding Ezekiel’s hand, Mikael went to the corner of the room and pointed out a crack that could potentially lead through the wall into the corridor where we were – and, more to the point, that his centipede could have fit through. It’s definitely sounding like this centipede is a suspicious character (disappearing as soon as the assassin was captured? Suspicious!) and Corby is looking quite disappointed that she hasn’t found it.

Tres also told us that the south wall (behind Ez’s exploding birthday present) was magical, and Lydia deduced that it was some kind of spell that means you can’t go through there for ten minutes. Well, that made it pretty obvious where our centipede-wizard had fled, but we didn’t have any devices for forcing the entrance and following him until the spell was up.

So Ezekiel and I took the time to look over the northern room. This was also a bedroom, though much less fancy than the wizard’s (fitting to a HALF-ORC), and most of the space was crammed with strange and exotic weapons. Various knives, maces with weird animal heads, a man-catcher, and a matched set of throwing knives, among others.

Raven also opened the east door (that the parchment warned us so sternly about) and found a collection of staves in various woods, some bone and ivory rods, and a rack of magical wands…plus a chest. We gathered up the wands and rods (plus some potions) but left the rest for the moment.

The secret door had finally unlocked, and we wanted to chase after the wizard if we could (although we had basically decided we couldn’t catch him today). Wonillon and the animals stayed with the prisoner while the rest of us explored further.

The passage led at last to some kind of magical workshop, with table space for making potions and things, a couple big books on stands, plus boxes and nick-nacks and cabinets and who knows what.

Tres and I sniffed out the magic stuff – and spotted a little iron box that radiated Evil.

It’s clear the wizard took some things (there’s a frog statue that looks like a stand for some other tool) but he left a ton of expensive stuff behind…plus we grabbed his spell reagents, and what Ez and Lydia think are some spell-books – so hopefully that’ll hamstring him a bit.

Maybe the most impressive thing was the back of the cabinet. Tres told us it was magical, so we found a key and unlocked it…to discover a big ol’ mirror built into the back. Not just any mirror, though…a magic mirror that Lydia says can be used for spells and reading thoughts and stuff. Creepy, no? Heiron and I fetched the bedclothes from the wizard’s bed and wrapped the mirror up in a frame to transport it back to town (thank goodness for bags of holding, since it’s super awkward otherwise).

The two tomes on the book-stands were out of the ordinary, too…Lydia says that if you read them, and you’re the right kind of person, your mind and understanding and stuff can become more powerful. But if you’re the wrong kind, it’ll hurt you or make you dumber or something. I’m not sure I get the picture, but I don’t have to.

Ezekiel really, really wanted to bring the Evil box back with us (I’ve had my suspicions) so that the enemy couldn’t use whatever was inside…but he couldn’t even touch it to carry it.

Raven went over to help, but says he “decided” he didn’t want to touch it. He was worried about opening it in town near so many innocents, and Ez was worried about opening it here, on Evil’s home turf.

Someone should have pointed out that neither of them even wanted to get it on their hands, so what were they arguing about?

In the end, we found a sheet and Lydia set it in the middle so we could wrap it up – and then Raven and Mikael each took an end to carry it out.

I don’t know if it’s got a demon or an evil genie or what inside – or maybe it’s just an evil soup-can on the end of a magic string…either way, I’m not getting involved unless something needs killing.

On the way out, Wonillon took his necklace of adaptation into the wand-closet and checked the chest in there…as he suspected, it tripped some kind of acid gas trap, but we had already gotten everything we were likely to want out of there. In fact, there was nothing in the chest except bits of books and papyrus.

To top off the bag of holding, we crammed all the weapons we could fit in there (Mikael says he wants the man-catcher) since at least then the bad guys can’t use them. Don’t know how these things work, but I hope we wrapped the mirror well enough.

The assassin didn’t have anything else in her room except various disguise clothes (like merchants’ and laborers’ clothes), some bottles of what we assume is poison (ew!), and some wires that made Ez go, “Oh!” (but I don’t think he took any).

It feels like we were just back in town, but we have a full load to deposit again. Hopefully Master Bern can get some use out of some of these things (Lydia is clearing her throat at me, but how could she be reading over my shoulder from there? Is she using the mind-reading mirror?).

And I am not letting this special enemy of mine out of my sight. I hope Wonillon keeps a good grip on that rope.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….somebody up there likes us

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

Well…it’s been a busy day for the map.

We found the room where some bugbears have been staying until recently – but just as we prepared to search it, Ezekiel got that glassy look on his face again and just stood there with a funny smile.

When he snapped out of it, he told us we had to go back to the Air Temple and trace a protection from evil circle around the pit, then dump holy water into it.

You don’t argue with Ezekiel when he’s in these moods, so we hiked all the way back, and Lydia drew the circle with a silver piece. Then we dumped Mikael’s water skin (which happened to be consecrated) into the pit.

I had a silver arrow nocked, just in case – I figured silver might be good for hurting evil things, but in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have.

As soon as Ez dumped the water, thick smoke or steam rolled up in a column from the pit, swirling like the whirlwind that was so dangerous before.

Almost as once, Raven appeared – along with two of those four-armed vulture demons like we’d fought before.

The wind was still messing with the air currents in the room, so Heiron shot most of his arrows into the pit, or into the shaft up above, or into the steps in front of him.

The “vrocks” clawed at Ezekiel and Raven until Mikael killed one, and then Raven was able to roll free and use his magic rope to snare the other one.

The second vrock was so full of arrows I’m surprised it was still standing, but once it was roped we held off to give Ezekiel a chance to bash it with his mace…which he did after…four or five tries. Maybe the air currents were messing with him, too.

The “cleric types” (Mikael and Ezekiel) healed the people who were hurt, and Raven explained what happened to him.

He says he was taken to a “Node of Air” – a windy spire of rock that we think is somewhere between the planes of existence? He met a warrior there in blue armor, who says he was part of a party, but got captured and sacrificed in the pit. He says there are many monsters there – even dragons – and Lydia theorizes that these elemental creatures called grus are being summoned to live in the nodes or something. We assume there are nodes for each of the elements.

Anyway, we aren’t ready to go there quite yet. Raven gave the warrior a bunch of rations and healing potions, but at this point that’s the most we can do to rescue those trapped there.

According to Raven, a monk who “knew his name” and “didn’t have any insignia” that he recognized showed up and gave him a little dark stone…and told him to throw it “when the sky changes.”

Raven thinks the stone is what brought the demons (for Ezekiel to kill – getting that hit did seem to cheer him up)…I wonder if us dumping the holy water is what affected the “sky” in the other place.

Ezekiel does say that he got scolded for being so “careless” with his monk – which I guess teaches us not to be so obsessive about finding all the treasure…

Anyway…good to know someone has our back.

We searched the vrocks – or rather, I asked Tressarian if there was anything interesting, and he said one of them had something magical in his belt-bag. It turned out to be a bronze scimitar – with scabbard – which Mikael has named Kevin (and he says it talks to him, but it must be talking druid because none of the rest of us can hear it).

Other than Raven, that’s all we got from that encounter…and of the silver arrows I shot, all but one had snapped or warped on impact. So, so much for that sissy equipment. I guess it’s better than nothing if you need to fight something resistant to everything else (like a werewolf) but it’s still disappointing.

I have a few magic arrows, of course, but the older I get the less patience I have for digging arrows out of the corpses of my enemies.

Well, with Raven safely back, we continued exploring the northern passages of the complex.

Back in the ogre/bugbear quarters, Tressarian told me that the far wall of the latrine closet could shift. (He’s super useful for spotting things like that, and magical things, but I did suggest to him that he didn’t have to shout, “Who dares?!” every time I draw him…that sometimes, we’re trying to be sneaky. At first I was kind of worried that he might be an Evil sword in disguise, but I think weapons are not really good at being sneaky, and so he pretty much wears his opinions on his sleeve, as it were.)

Ezekiel braved the latrine and opened the secret door, to find a huge garbage heap full of all kinds of nasty stuff beyond. Raven waded forward to examine a bronze-bound coffer (since he says he’s immune to disease!), and stirred up a truly horrifying tentacled thing.

It had a beak, and one eye-stalk, and lashed at Raven and Ezekiel — and to show just how nightmarish it was, it took a fireball from Lydia and was still alive! It shrieked and shriveled up a little bit, but it kept coming with those hard-ridged tentacles of mortifying death.

Heiron nailed it, and once Raven had it tangled in his magic rope, I was able to get the final arrow into it.

Lydia called it an “otyugh”… I just know it will haunt my dreams.

Raven brought the coffer out – and then brought out a gold platter and a platinum bracelet with opals…and a bunch of coins, too.

I’m…really…really glad we rinsed that stuff off before putting it in the bag (there’s a drinking fountain for the bugbears in the next room).

The coffer had a scroll in it…Lydia says there are seven spells she can potentially use, once she has the time to really study it.

Raven confirmed what the map had suggested – that the garbage room continued on and connected with the hallway on the other side. So the rest of us chose discretion, and took the long way around to join him.

[sketch of hallways, quarters, and storerooms, with points of interest]

Found a huge storeroom full of black cloth and garments, meal, fruit, and other cooking supplies. Could feed an army with this stuff – which means we should be set for some time!

It didn’t come free, though. As Raven was exploring, something tried to jump down on him. Fortunately, he was carrying his magic rope in his hand, and wrapped it up before it could even reach the ground.

One ugly beast…grey fur, black tail and face, with red paws and mean fangs. Tressarian said it wasn’t “Evil”-evil, and it wasn’t enough of an animal that Raven could get it to talk…but we decided it wasn’t friendly, so we killed it.

Later, we found a little pile of skulls, and Lydia said these creatures like to collect the skulls of their victims, which I call macabre…even hunters usually mount their deer heads with the skin still on.

We also found a lumber room – so we’ll have plenty of firewood (looks like where the Temple kept their renovation supplies) – and what I’m calling a “trophy room”: a padlocked storeroom with loads of “adventurer” gear, from backpacks and iron spikes, to map-cases and stamped vials of holy water, from lanterns and suits of armor, to rope and mirrors.

There was a silver mirror that I took, since there had also been silver mirrors in the werewolf stash, and if other parties carry them around, maybe they’ll come in handy for something someday. I also took some spikes so I can wedge the door like Wonillon does, and restocked my rope (since we’ve cut off a fair bit for prisoners and such).

What seemed to strike Ezekiel the most was the shields — they seemed to be hanging on display, and included the insignia of a Knight of the Shield, and a Knight of the Heart, and something Ez thinks is from the Great Kingdom (and Lydia seems to agree, although neither of them know specifically).

Tressarian says none of the gear is magical, but we can still take the shields back to be laid to rest with respect…or maybe sent to their orders?

Besides two suits of halfling and dwarf armor, there were probably eight suits of human-sized armor, various makes.

The thought of so many parties like us, who somehow met their end and found themselves killed or sacrificed or something even worse…it makes me feel strange and shaky inside. I mean, we’re learning and growing stronger every day – but we’re not exactly the brightest 

What were those others like, that they failed where we are still alive?

Maybe it’s not about us and them at all. Maybe it’s the God of gods actually taking an interest in mortals for once, and Ehlonna and Obed-Hai and Merikka (wow, we’re heavy on the outdoorsy, aren’t we?) getting special dispensations/recommendations to help us out?

Raven is cooking something special, since it’s Heiron’s birthday (and the first of Growfest). We’re in the guard quarters again, that we cleared out first…although the bodies piled in the alcove are pretty far gone.

It only feels like noon, but so much has been going on, and we’ve used so many of our spells, that we figure we may as well take it easy.

(Part of me wonders if enough of the salamanders are still there to skin them…?)


Find the previous entry here.

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Dear Diary…our greatest nemesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s where the cakewalk ended.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her magic lion leaped into existence and charged the commander.

That left Mikael, Raven, and Ezekiel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….air demons

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

Night passed quietly. Rest seemed to do Ezekiel good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(That can’t be healthy, right?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s death counter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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