Dear Diary…our greatest nemesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s where the cakewalk ended.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her magic lion leaped into existence and charged the commander.

That left Mikael, Raven, and Ezekiel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….air demons

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

Night passed quietly. Rest seemed to do Ezekiel good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(That can’t be healthy, right?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s death counter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Diary….pool of perdition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raven took a torch from Ezekiel and ran forward a few rooms to check things out, but the enemy had made tracks and decided not to face us.

Wonillon pointed out it was the sensible thing to do, from their perspective, since I killed two of them with one arrow apiece…but it still means I couldn’t properly finish them off, and I dislike loose ends.

We did find something interesting in the bugbears’ rooms…a chest with some ogre-sized clothing, a rusted saw, a candlestick, and a whole pile of money. Wonillon and I were busy for several minutes shoveling it into the bag of holding.

Raven checked the armoire in Bel-Sornig’s room, and found a fancy robe – watered green silk – with a gold embroidered octopus wrapping around the garment and kind of smothering the wearer. He also found a gold censor and twenty blocks of incense wrapped in paper (I hope they don’t get jostled into powder in the bag…I don’t understand the physics of bags of holding).

Ezekiel called us all over so we could “deal with” the big pool in the south room.

Did I say –? Yes, the south wall is covered with a mosaic octopus – red highlights with green orbs here and there (guess that’s where they get their special symbol from?) – which is clutching a sacrificial victim in each of its tentacles.

(Seriously, all these evil temples seem fixated on ritual murder. What’s with them?)

Mikael advanced first…he put his hand to his temple and said “someone” told him that there was a “triton” (apparently a good-aligned mer-person) chained up in the pool, and it wanted to help defend us against the “krakon” on the far wall.

Well, while I was worrying about the mosaic coming to life, Raven hurried forward, handed his torch to Mikael, and jumped into the pool (he says he saw a humanoid figure in there).

The lights in that room were very weird. The crystal ceiling and floor seemed designed to reflect and twist the light to make it as confusing as possible, and the pool (with its basin of lapis lazuli) seemed to suck up the light and glow in a very disorienting way.

Anyway, whatever Raven saw, he quickly jumped out of the pool again, yelping in pain, and announced there was nothing in there at all.

His magic cloak (was that the one we got in the crypt, maybe?) was all ribbons and holes now, and he pulled one of his magic rings off his finger and threw it into the corner, spitting (he says it was the ring of protection).

While Raven shook himself and tried to wipe his peeling skin, Mikael raised his hand and chanted some words I hadn’t heard yet. Apparently it was “purify water,” and while I couldn’t tell a difference, Ezekiel says the whatever-it-was didn’t like that.

Ezekiel ordered our two companions to get back to us, past the threshold of the room…but Mikael had been talking to the voice in his head, I guess, and said, “No, no, the pool can grant me my wish,” and jumped in.

He jumped out again even faster than Raven – crying out in pain – and as Ezekiel rushed in to help them, Raven pulled Mikael out and away from the pool.

As the left, Raven aimed his “ring of shooting stars” at the thing, but there were only some under-whelming sparkles. The pool didn’t seem disturbed at all.

Heiron shot an arrow into the “water” (if it was water) but that didn’t get a reaction, either. (I figured there was no point throwing good weapons after bad.)

Wonillon tossed a torch – which did what torches do even in normal pools, and went out.

Lydia told everyone to stand back, and tossed a little lump of something I don’t want to know about.

Even though she said, “Fwoom,” nothing seemed to happen…and she said the room must neutralize fire magic.

Well, Mikael had asked Obed-Hai for two “Purify Water” spells, so he chanted the words again – and this time something definitely happened.

Specifically, the crystal dome that formed the ceiling shattered, raining down shards that would be pretty painful if we weren’t all standing in the shelter of the corridor.

The lapis lazuli basin also broke into fragments, the “water” or poison or whatever it was spilling out into the room.

Wonillon recovered first of any of us – by pointing out that the lapis lazuli would be pretty valuable.

Ezekiel agreed, so Wonillon unloaded all his magic items and ventured into the room with a rope around his waist.

Raven put on a fresh robe from his pack and helped Lydia search the room of the under-clerics (poor Mikael was going around trying to straighten out the pieces of his staff of striking, but I think something vital was eaten away. Good thing Bel-S just “gave” us a new rod).

Well, when no voices were tempting Wonillon, I went out to help him – the chunks of lapis were big enough it took both of us to maneuver them into the bag).

Ezekiel tied a rope around me, too, but I wasn’t so worried since Raven (Lawful *cough*) didn’t hear any voices, either.

Can’t say the room was made worse by the mess. The few cressets along the walls gave off a pale green glow that made the whole room look sickly…the tapestries hanging at either hand were more of the same vile displays we’d seen in the rest of the temple, but somehow in the green lighting they made my skin crawl.

Ezekiel gave me permission to burn them. I can’t easily get rid of a fresco or mosaic, but I can rid the world of this filthy torture-porn.

Wonillon must not have been avoiding looking at the tapestries, since he spotted something shoved up in the ceiling.

Mikael grabbed it down and found it was a coral scroll-case with a parchment inside.

It wasn’t a scroll or anything…just a note in Common.

Ezekiel wrote down a copy of it. I don’t understand it…something about “Vile Good cloaked by Fair Evil” and “will you answer, Answerer?” and the “whelp of Mitrik”. The pool was pretending to be good – promising things to lure in its prey – but that doesn’t explain who would hide a note like this in the ceiling…and why.

Is it a message for whoever killed the pool and so broke the ceiling?

Well, while we were busy, Lydia and Raven found “club rings” on the under-clerics – gold rings cut like tentacled monsters set with peridots (that seems to be their favorite stone – that and lapis).

We ransacked the rest of the room – and Bel-Sornig’s – and found some extra clothes for Mikael so he didn’t have to go around in rags anymore (though I think I was more embarrassed than Lydia).

There was a lot of the standard: dishes (malachite for the underlings, gold for Bel-S). Lydia found a secret drawer in the desk with a scroll that only Ezekiel could read – and he got very excited. He says it’s got three different spells on it – including “resist fire,” which should come in handy for the next temple.

Bel-S had some good gear – plus a gold belt with malachite and lapis lazuli. His magic steel ring went to Raven for the time being, and he had an iron key that Ezekiel used to unlock his private chest.

A trident hanging on the wall is magical somehow…but it a “bad” way, since after Ezekiel touched it he quickly let go and told everyone else not to mess with it.

Oh, yes…Raven found a box of sugared fruits. After asking Mikael if he’d prepared Neutralize Poison today, he tried one…next time I saw him, he was singing to Merrika in the corner (not exactly on tune, which is weird because usually Raven is a good singer).

Ezekiel found a cloak in Bel-S room that he says is a “Cloak of the Manta-Ray,” which lets you turn into a manta-ray when you go into the water…which I guess is useful in you need to breathe underwater and stuff, but only works for one person at a time.

By the time we were done wrapping the trident in the cloak (so we wouldn’t touch it) and forcing it into the bag of holding, Cuddles was hugging Raven just hard enough to keep him in one place…and Raven had used his magic ring to cast Faery Fire on the two of them, and was busy giggling and saying, “Sparkles.”

Mikael cast Neutralize Poison – and Raven stopped giggling.

The under-clerics had several glowing green orbs about the size of Heiron’s two fists, so we took a couple of those to help light our way.

It was getting pretty late by then, and we’d had a full day, so we decided to bunk down in Bel-S’s room, since Wonillon could wedge the door shut, and none of us could find any secret doors (even sober Raven).

That doesn’t make sense to me, since Bel-S must have had an escape strategy…but perhaps it was more sophisticated than “run far and fast.”

****

After some discussion, Lydia studied up on one Continual Light and one Stinking Cloud, so she could put light on Ezekiel’s shield and give us crowd-control in case we ran into trouble on the way out.

As it all turned out, we were fine…although I was kind of worried about running into undead without a paladin’s oh-so-helpful shield.

We got an early start…which is good, because Ezekiel started out by trying to find a secret door from the under-cleric’s room to connect with the sloping passage by the hydra (according to our maps, and if we’ve been counting our feet right, the floors should connect about there).

Well, while we found their bedroom-proper, with some more jewelry and coins (and two identical little libraries on the “Secrets of Water Evil” and stuff like that…I guess they both had to get the same textbooks), we didn’t find any secret doors.

So in the end we had to return to where we came in – through the “great hall,” past the barracks, and to the spiral staircase.

Not only did we not meet those bugbears and ogre that evaded us yesterday, but we also didn’t meet any undead – which I think is just as well, all things considered.

Our horses took care of themselves nicely (especially considering Yeti’s horse Syphon wasn’t there). Nulb seemed about as quiet as normal (we made no eye contact if we could help it).

****

Reached Homlette with no trouble (we passed a caravan on the way).

This time we dropped our treasure at the tower, since the money-changer is getting a little overwhelmed. The lapis lazuli alone weighed a couple hundred pounds!

Mikael says he’s taking Cuddles and Corby to visit Master Geru in the morning. Ezekiel’s going to go talk with Canon Turjon…he has some questions for him, and more to the point he wants to show him the strange note we found in the ceiling.

I’m going to take Heiron to the practice yard and show him some dodging techniques. Maybe I can teach him some ways to roll with a blow, so that even if an attack does connect, he doesn’t get hurt so badly. Wonillon says he wants to watch, at least for a little bit.

Wonillon also says that lapis should earn us a huge chunk of change for our accounts.

****

So much has gone wrong I can’t even focus.

A messenger says all the prisoners we were keeping in the tower – have been assassinated.

I’m so mad I could spit.

We go to all the trouble of catching them, and keeping them alive, and bringing them back – whether or not they could (or would) give us any useful information, you don’t just slaughter prisoners.

Killing people in the heat of battle is different than offing caged birds.

Obviously our old assassin nemesis (or more like him) are still floating around. Sneaky, deceitful, disguise-wearing, lying, murdering… I just hope he gets a sheaf of arrows in his gut one day, that’s all.

(Raven says we’d better make sure to apply the arrows during battle, when they would lawfully apply, but frankly I don’t feel like waiting that long.)

Better warn Master Osler to take care of himself. He’s been so nice to us, I’d never forgive myself if something happened to him.

Anyway, Ezekiel is back from the Chapel of St. Cuthbert, and he says the Canon thinks the note has something to do with the missing princes. Specifically, the prince had a magic sword named “Answerer.”

They think it’s some kind of taunt.

I think we’d better get the hustle on and skewer some Evil things.

Raven says he paid someone who knows to reassure him the steel ring from Bel-S isn’t some Good-smiting thing. They say it’s a “ring of free action” (like Master Ramne got), which might come in useful to keep Raven from getting paralyzed quite so much (very helpful if he decides to punch ghouls again).

They’re saying I should channel my passion and go ask Elmo for advice (about killing things). Maybe they’re right…he always makes me do push-ups.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….path of the paladin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had a dream about one of them last night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, none of us are any good at interrogation.

****

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

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

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

Am I also taking him for granted?!

****

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

… …

Well. Things got more interesting after that.

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

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

Wonillon checked those, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(So we got at least one thing right.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, hello, friends,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So he put out all our lights.

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

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

Why are they always at the bottom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the second level here.

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Dear Diary….we get steamed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[sketch]

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

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

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

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

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

He and Yeti opened the doors…and now comes –

the creepy part.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abruptly reminded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….steamrolling (whatever that means)

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

After questioning the prisoner, we had a quick consultation in Lawful Good (if he’s an assassin, I’m going to be very mad).

The problem was what to do with the prisoners, while we went after the Head Cleric of the Water Temple before he was alerted. Ezekiel decided to put Heiron, Raven, and the animals in charge of keeping the prisoners (one rescued and one captured) safe, while the rest of us tried dealing with the cleric (to leave the Water Temple leaderless, you see).

That worked out, because Cuddles will be digesting for quite some time, and moves much slower at the moment…and also I don’t want Heiron on the front lines for a bit. We’ll be fighting some dangerous people, and I just can’t risk someone else’s life like that.

While we were having our discussion, someone discovered a door behind a tapestry on the wall – a door with no handle and an iron shutter. That was no problem for Lydia, who still made it open by snapping her fingers or something.

On the other side, just as my map had indicated, there was an angular room – basically a pass-through to the smallest barracks (the first one we cleared, with a zig-zag shape). There’s a stool for a sentry, and a line of twine running through eyebolts into the barracks wall. I think it’s obviously some kind of trap (or alarm), but we haven’t investigated what it does yet.

It also fits into my theory about what the guards were doing – they were fleeing up this way to get help from the barracks…not knowing that we had already killed them all.

[quick sketch]

Ezekiel led us back around to the minotaur room and into the passage that opens to the south. This corridor is very long, which he hoped meant it was leading us around the main body of the temple to bring us to the cleric’s quarters.

After 150 or 160 feet, we reached a door at the end of the corridor. When Ezekiel threw the door open, I could see bugbears – for once in our lives, we surprised them.

They wore grey kilts and cloaks with a big black square emblazoned on them, and carried spears and battleaxes. That’s all I saw before I shot one through the throat.

Wonillon charged into the room, and Lydia tossed an egg – then swore, because she couldn’t create the cloud with our team in there.

Ezekiel and Mikael followed his lead (Mikael getting in some good smacks with his staff) and I took out another bugbear before they had time to react.

We’d killed a couple more when the last one standing started howling. Of course that meant reinforcements, so I slid along the wall just inside the door to cover the door across the room.

The reinforcements were some gnolls (chainmail) and a few more bugbears (scale mail) – all in those same grey uniforms. I shot down a couple of them, and they tried to return fire – but the arrows went over my head. Raven says they expected me to be taller, but I don’t see his point.

Ezekiel shouted for Lydia, and she raced into the room…but she couldn’t do Stinking Cloud with such a cluttered battleground. She did stand in front of me, though, so I missed two shots.

Mikael and Ezekiel both bashed their opponents to the ground, though, so that’s good.

I think I counted twelve bodies when we were done. They had some decent money on them, but I haven’t bothered to pile the bodies somewhere. They’re just bugbears and gnolls, after all…and smell pretty bad.

Their room was stuffed with odds-and-ends of furniture – couches, cushions on the floor, tables, a barrel and a cask –and the wall-hangings were plain solid colors – grey, ivroy, white.

In between the hangings were plaster paintings, and these were also different than in other parts of the Temple: scenes of tornadoes and such ripping homes apart (so the violence thing was still a motif).

It makes sense in retrospect.

The door across the room led into a hallway, and we advanced carefully – with the prisoners in back, so they could be protected. Yeti volunteered to help with that job, which freed Raven up to come to the front lines if needed.

While I stood in the hall to watch for enemies, Ezekiel opened the very next door – it led south.

This room had a grey carpet, and a cabinet with a number of things…including some wax candles, some old clothes, and some honey.

Raven helped himself to the honey, so I helped myself to the candles (he says he already has candles, but you never know what you might need)

There were also piles of tapestries, rugs, and such on the floor as bedding, so I guess the bugbears and gnolls also slept in here sometimes.

Ezekiel called me into the room before he opened yet another door to the east…so when he did, I could clearly see a man in heavy armor beyond.

The man said, “How many times, Garosh?” – and then my arrow glanced off his armor. (Good thing I restocked from the gnoll archers.)

Wonillon, Raven, and Ezekiel charged in to confront him – but Ezekiel’s mace bounced off the man’s armor and whacked Raven.

I shot again, and somehow speared Wonillon through the arm. Raven told me, “The bad guy was taller than that, Elwyn,” but I feel no need to take archery lessons from a monk (even if he can catch arrows from the air).

Mikael must have been surprised to see me do this, because he ran forward and swung at the enemy, then dropped his staff altogether.

By the time we were done with all that slap-stick routine, the man in armor was fleeing behind a curtain at the back of his bedroom. Raven and Mikael dashed after him, followed quickly by Wonillon.

I’m not as fast as they are…and the last thing I wanted was to be surprised by a flanking enemy in the hallway behind…so I stayed where I could hear any cries for help from our rear forces, and could hopefully hear if anyone was coming down the hallway at us.

Ezekiel said something like, “Wait for me!” (or was it, “It’s pointless to flee”?) and disappeared through the curtain.

I called to the rear forces to move into the room with me, and with them less “in the open” (couldn’t be flanked so easily) I moved into the armored man’s bedroom.

I had no idea  how far the chase had gone, or whether they could catch him at all – but before I had too long to wonder, Wonillon showed up…carrying Raven, who seemed frozen with his arms in that weird stiff-fingered position he calls a “stance.”

Shortly after, Ezekiel showed up, lugging the armored cleric with him – dead.

While he searched the cleric’s bedroom (they tell me the deceased was a cleric because he cast some spells on Raven…they didn’t work on Mikael somehow), Lydia detected that the cleric’s chainmail, mace, dagger, and cloak were all magical.

We gave her the dagger, since she didn’t have a magic one yet, and once Raven de-stiffened and could move again, we gave him the cloak.

The bedroom wasn’t super fancy – a few pewter dishes, some books and scrolls on a shelf, plus some human and demi-human skulls on display (wouldn’t you like to not know where those came from!). Ezekiel also found a cassock of silver cloth with that same black rectangle beaded with jet…apparently the official vestments.

Lydia asked our prisoner about the dead man, and he told us it’s “Kelno,” the Cleric of the Air Temple (thus it makes sense that the motifs all changed).

He explained that Air, Fire, and Water are all on this level – but the Water Temple is the “Lesser Temple”…and they’re all fighting over that position.

Makes sense…the Greater Temple is on the level below (I think?) and the Lesser Temple is the favored spot right after them. The elemental temples have something to fight over, and the Greater Temple has a reward to offer those who are most loyal.

The prisoner (he has a name, right?) also laughed at us for not knowing any of this…but it’s pretty hard to learn things when we keep killing anyone who could talk to us (and also when we’re so bad at questioning people).

Mikael had been investigating the hallway Cleric Kelno fled down. It had a stockpile of weapons and armor, a chest, and a fountain with a gargoyle head spitting milky water into the basin (I won’t be drinking any of that!).

There’s a secret door off an alcove here, and the passage curves around to a staircase leading further down. That will have to wait until later!

Lydia got the chest unlocked (that is really coming in handy!), and we took a bunch of money for the bag of holding.

Ezekiel says he wants to return to the hallway by where we killed the gnolls, and follow it around north.

After a little bite to eat, though. The prisoner at least can’t march all day on an empty stomach, and killing bugbears is hungry work.

[sketch of involved area]


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Water Temple here.

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Dear Diary….good and evil are different

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

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

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