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

Dear Diary….killing people and taking their stuff

While Mikael cast healing on Ezekiel, and Ezekiel sawed off the horns of the minotaur, the rest of us searched the fallen guards and the bunk-room where they died.

The guard room, past the spiked beam trap, kind of zig-zagged north and south. Bunks lined the walls, with boxes of personal effects, but nothing really interesting.

The guards were all dressed in black under their chainmail, and I’m assuming this is the color of the Water Temple.

There was a “main” door leading out to the east, but Raven discovered that a torch on the south wall activated a secret door. We packed into the cramped space and prepared to sally out.

When the front men opened the door, I could see a medium-to-large room, with a blazing fire in the fireplace across the way.

As Ezekiel charged in and beaned a man-at-arms with his mace, I quickly examined the lay-out: bunks and chests along the walls, table in the middle, and two doors along the west wall.

Wonillon did very well for himself before the enemy could recover from their surprise. He charged in, stabbed a guard, and rolled under the table to slash at another one. Unfortunately, I think he must have been over-excited, because he didn’t take that one down.

Raven threw a javelin into the fray, Mikael cast faery fire, and Cuddles was apparently so excited that he charged a guy and ended up striking his nose against the wall.

Heiron did pretty well for himself, although he kept fumbling his follow-through. Not like I can talk about that, of course.

As our front-liners advanced, the two doors to the side of the room flew open, and men in fancier armor jumped into the battle. I use “men” loosely, as one of them had the bad teeth and greenish complexion you only get if one of your parents was an orc.

I think it was that one who started throwing darts, and Raven was still slumping to the ground when a dart clanged against Yeti’s shield.

That was the end of that – as Ezekiel vaulted over the table (yelling something about a holy sheep) and smacked the half-orc soundly with his mace.

Even Mikael got in on the action, dealing a guard a cracking blow with his cudgel.

Meanwhile I was checking for a crack in my bow because it made a weird creaking noise…but it seems all right.

Mikael bent over Raven to neutralize the poison (handy skill, no?) and I glimpsed Heiron shoot one of the officers between the armor so that he staggered backward.

Ezekiel had disappeared through one of the doors by that point – turns out it led through a tiny bedroom into yet more living quarters – and while the rest of us were mopping up in the first room, we heard the heavy clang of his mace connecting with something.

Yeti ran up to the door to get a better angle for his magic flying hammer.

I spotted more green skin, and aimed for major blood vessels.

By that point, Cuddles was feeling better, and swarmed (can snakes swarm?) through Ezekiel’s legs to bite the enemy.

I swung myself up onto the table to get a clearer shot, and speared the guard’s throat. From there, I also had a good view of Raven punching a guy so hard I think he broke his neck or something.

With all the enemies dead, we could breathe and examine our surroundings.

I turned around to catch Corby with an eyeball in her mouth. It makes me feel a little ooky to let her do that, but I guess she is just a bird, and doesn’t have the same rules of living. Like Cuddles using poison when he bites. I wouldn’t go around without clothes on, either, but animals think nothing of it.

I must be more tired than I realize.

Anyway, the room with the fireplace had rush mats on the floor. The fighters wore a mix of leather, chain, and scale armor, but all with the same black underneath.

A sheep was still cooking over the hearth, so after helping us search the bodies, Raven busied himself taking care of it (since he’s so fussy about food).

The two leaders had little bedrooms behind the two doors, and the southern room led into yet another suite that was probably fancy at one time. It has plastered walls, paintings, wall-hangings, and braziers for light and warmth.

Ezekiel found a door behind a tapestry, with a peep-hole in it so the inhabitants can keep an eye on the corridor outside. It’s only evening, not night yet, but this will be a good place to hunker down – if anyone comes looking for us, we’ll have a door between us and them.

Wonillon and Raven investigated a chest in the northern bedroom – the one with only one exit – and apparently set off a gas trap. Raven was standing in the doorway, since the room is so small, so he wasn’t affected…and once Mikael came and cast his second Neutralize Poison, Wonillon was able to crawl out of the room – coughing.

After all of that, the chest had some clothing, a big sack of money, some jewels and jewelry, two potions, and a scroll in a scroll case. Lydia says it’s illusionist, so none of us can use it…but it’ll be worth something, anyway.

When we searched the two leaders who had private rooms, Lydia told us that the man’s cloak, broadsword, and leather armor were all magical…and so was a pouch on his belt.

The cloak is…really a fashion statement, since it’s black – with red horned skulls embroidered all over it. The leather armor is worked in the same way.

Not the kind of thing we want to walk around town in…but as Lydia pointed out, we don’t need to worry about fashion down here, so we’re having her wear the cloak – we assume it’s got some kind of protection magic – and Mikael has changed into the leather armor (he’s also wearing a magic ring from the half-orc leader…we figured it was about time he got some goodies).

Speaking of being fair, Ezekiel pointed out Wonillon hadn’t gotten anything yet, so we offered him the magical pouch (we assume it’s like a bag of holding, although I don’t think we’ve tested it out yet).

A magic broadsword is nice, but none of us really needs it right now. Maybe if Heiron keeps practicing and ages out of what he’s using now.

As for the half-orc leader…besides a ring, he had a magic dagger (Raven got it), a gold earring (no one offered to wear it), and a special shield – with the same horned skull in red emblazoned on it, and a compartment to store his poisoned darts.

I don’t think we’ll be using that.

With the secret door to the north closed, our position looks pretty defensible. We dished out our healing spells on hand, and prepared for a quiet evening.

Raven has certainly done wonders with that lamb.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….shadows of evil

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

Ezekiel and Lydia pooled their money together and bought the Phylactery of Freedom from Paralysis back from the Chapel of St. Cuthbert. Ezekiel says if he’s going to risk going up to undead to hit them, he’d better have some protection…and I think that’s smart thinking.

I paid Heiron his salary for the month. I was kind of worried that maybe there was an extra month in there we owed him for, but he said he didn’t remember counting that.

Wonillon was waiting for us when we got back. He hasn’t said whether he found any action while we were gone, but he’s game to go back to the Temple with us.

Heading out first thing in the morning.

****

24 Readying

Quiet night at the campsite. Reached the Temple about midday.

Everything seemed quiet in the nave, or main floor, of the Temple, and we took our time to look around, since last time we just kited down the stairs as fast as we could.

The main, center hall of the Temple has an altar that might be made of crystal, though I’m not sure. There’s a well a few yards beyond it, and in the top is a hollowed out indent with a human shape – limbs splayed. I think it’s stained with something dark, and it makes me upset to look at.

There were broken crystal vessels around it and a crystal knife – all bearing the marks of destruction.

The two “wings” branch off from the center hall to east and west (where the staircases are), and in the north-west angle we found a door to a vestry.

Not much in the vestry except the remains of a bonfire – wood and cloth – and a pile of robes that were probably ivory once…but someone’s been using them as a latrine too long for them to be recognizable.

Past the crystal altar, the floor tiles change color again, and a wide staircase leads down. The steps are grey with flecks of color, and there’s a stone railing at the far end has alternating supports – white, blue, green – topped with a red rail or cap. It’s organized enough I think it must mean something…but it’s hard to say what.

When we went down the stairs eventually (once we were done with the ground floor) they ended in a landing in front of doors…doors with runes or something, but none of us are sure what, because we couldn’t stand to look at them. Even Ezekiel went toward them and then turned around with a shiver.

Something very bad is beyond there, I think.

Anyway, the central hall continues past the stairs, and there’s a huge bronze caldron or something in the middle of the floor. It has feet that raise it a foot above the floor – and, as Raven says, they could drop me right in it without hitting my head (which is not funny).

The bottom still has charcoal in it, although it’s impossible to tell how old they are. The bronze chains hanging above it, though, are old enough that only one of them remains…the others are just corroded rings. And the edge of the caldron is dented, as though someone went at it with a hammer or ax.

The end of the main hall has a dais, complete with throne – and there’s a door in the east wall covered with ugly pictures (although someone had hacked most of them so you couldn’t tell what the whole thing was).

Inside must have been a dining room or party room…there were couches and barrels everywhere…skeletons of humans (and other things?) were piled around, very messy.

Raven found a tattered red robe on the floor, but it was kind of stained and icky.

While Ezekiel checked out the couches (good thing for him he didn’t catch another disease!) I inspected a woodpile in the corner and found two crimson robes in good condition.

Well, at least they looked wearable, but I wouldn’t want to go around with skulls embroidered all over my clothes, and I’m not sure the crimson and lavender really went together.

Anyway, someone will probably pay us for them, so we’ll take them along.

Finished with that room, the only thing left on the ground floor was the dais. There are four obsidian steps that lead up to the platform, and the semi-circular wall behind is basalt (as far as I could tell).

There’s a saying carved in it – in Common, so they wanted everyone to understand it:

“The power of elemental death brings mortals low but raises the nameless one high.”

Ezekiel and I couldn’t agree who the “nameless one” would be, but neither of us like the idea of an Bad Guy getting power from the death of innocents.

The dais itself had huge tiles of different colors, and I’m sure they meant something, though I’m not sure what.

[sketch]

Ezekiel and Yeti ventured out onto the floor – until Raven warned them that one of the tiles was trapped, and they went another way.

Ezekiel made it up to the throne – he says it’s basalt, and carved with grinning skulls and demon faces.

He says there was no sign of a hidden compartment or anything…and what’s more, it had no scratches or signs of damage – not even after he whacked it with his mace.

No doubt about it, that throne is up to something.

But we had no idea what, so the only thing left was to head down to the second level of the dungeon.

Ezekiel and Yeti borrowed my map again, and we snaked through the corridors…so much easier to do that when all the guards are dead. We didn’t even run into any ghouls, which is nice (though Ezekiel might not agree).

We headed to the spiral staircase Raven found – a ten foot stair in a twenty foot tube. I guess when you hire ogres, you’ve got to build your evil temple plenty big.

We reached the bottom, and found two passages splitting off. We headed south-west (Yeti and Wonillon both confirmed this for me) and not far down the passage we spotted a room.

The only light was ours, and by it we saw a stony minotaur, seated, in front of a small pool of some kind. There were murals on the walls – new initiates, we think, getting the tour of the Temple’s “pleasures.”

Ezekiel stepped forward into the room – and the minotaur jumped up and smacked him with a flail.

I had an arrow ready, as always, so I speared the creature right in his bull-ish nose.

Yeti threw his hammer, Mikael waved his hand and cast faery fire…and Heiron and Raven fired missiles into the blackness around the minotaur (Raven bought a stock of javelins, so he’s trying them out).

I missed my next few shots, but the minotaur was busy pulled the arrow out of his nose – and by then Yeti’s hammer had gotten back to him, and he threw it again – smashing the minotaur to the floor in a pile of gak.

By then it was pretty obvious it wasn’t really a statue – though it was wearing leather armor dirtied to resemble stone. (Heiron told me he was so surprised to see it move that he forgot about his stance, and that must be why he missed all his shots. At least he’s learned one important lesson: making weak excuses for your bad performance.)

Raven found a crack in a javelin he threw, but hopes he can repair it.

Wonillon dug around under the minotaur’s throne, and found a bag of thirteen agates – plus a scroll that says “protection from all elements.” Pretty cool! Mikael is hanging on to it, in case of need.

There is a corridor leading out of the room to the south, but everyone checked for secret passages anyway…everyone except me, because I’ve learned how bad I am at that.

Mikael even asked Corby to look for secret passages, and she flapped right over to the east wall and scrabbled at it with her claws.

Wonillon and Raven both checked it for traps, but couldn’t find any.

We readied our weapons (Lydia pulled out an egg) and then Yeti and Ezekiel found a trap when they opened the door and a big ol’ beam covered in spikes swung down and knocked them on their butts.

In the room beyond, we spotted men in armor – and, assuming they weren’t captured prisoners – Heiron and I both launched arrows (although this time I missed, and he got the guy in the throat).

Wonillon leaped over our party leader, into the next room, and knifed a guy. Heiron shot another one. Raven leaped forward, and at Mikael’s command Corby and Cuddles swarmed through the door.

I checked my stance and took my shots, taking a guy down (he looked like a commander or something, though I could be wrong).

I caught a glimpse of Cuddles biting someone – and then the guard turned grey and went limp. I’m so glad Cuddles is on our side.


Find the previous entry here.

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Dear Diary….the drama of Ezekiel (and Lydia)

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

****

Fireseek 26.

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

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

****

Crazy long day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then came the next wrinkle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ezekiel the Cleric with Self-Image Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

Drilling the upper-cut with Heiron.

****

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

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

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

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


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Dear Diary….the mysterious and the truly creepy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But…it…was…not.

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

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

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

But nothing happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t like it.

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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