Dear Diary….die, learn, win, repeat

13 Wheelsun

Nice party last night. Raven made the most extraordinary cookies. (He made up a box to leave with Lydia, I guess to keep her company while we’re busy.)

Wonillon found a caravan traveling in his direction, so he’s joining up with them this afternoon. (He did let me buy the necklace of adaptation.)

We’re going over to Lydia’s at the tower so he can say good-bye (and so we can do some planning…meaning Ezekiel and Lydia do planning, and the rest of us look pretty).

**

Lydia has adjusted her face! She looks more-or-less the same, just without the burn scars. I thought it was funny that she had her veil loose in the tavern last night, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it didn’t bother anybody (especially her). I guess she’s forgiven us and consented to wear the hat.

Elmo came to the door while Ezekiel was laying out our next order of attack, and said it was “really boring” around here lately, and could he come with us for “even shares.” Wonillon talked him into buying his ring of fire-protection (guess he figures he won’t need it in the Chron Hills), even though Elmo says that’s “a lot of drinks'” worth of money.

After Wonillon left, Elmo started using his real voice – which kind of confused Heiron, but we reassured him about it (“basically Master’s master”). (Kinda sweet that Master Elmo is treating Heiron like an “inner circle” person.)

Apparently Lord Otis tipped him off that we’ve been exploring the nodes of Air and Water, so Ezekiel gave him the run-down on the key-gems (at least what we know so far).

We’re heading back to clear out the nest of water-hobs, if possible, and from there, Ez wants to Hunt Demon-rays.

**

[the following contains many water-marks and smeared sections]

(Guess we were so excited we left half-cocked. We realized we have several potions of polymorph, and a couple of water-breathing, so we passed those around to whoever needed one – just in case the Airy Water gets dispelled while we’re underwater. I meant to leave myself a note, but obviously I forgot – because we also didn’t bring the Cloak of the Manta-Ray (is it in the chest, or was it hanging in Lydia’s room?), so Elmo wrote her a note to please send it through when she gets the chance.)

We inspected the underwater cave with Airy Water – it’s basically a passage that slopes up to a cave with an air-bubble, and then slopes down to the “sea” on the other side. We killed another of the marine gargoyles there, but I’m not sure it lives there exactly. (It rammed its horn into the rock wall, making it easy pickings.)

Climbing up the beach into the cave, we found something more interesting: a big triangle rune on the floor…glowing ever so slightly. According to the notes, this should transport us to the Node of Earth…when we’re ready to go there, of course.

Ezekiel wanted to continue on the sea floor for a bit, so we tied the raft to my depth-buoy and kept following the wall of the node.

There’s no seaweed, no algae, nothing that looks alive down here. You could tell it irritated Mikael.

When the spell was about to give out, we climbed the rope to the raft – then pulled Ezekiel up when he signaled (if the raft got into the spell-radius, it would sink).

Time to paddle for a while…we’ve heard some splashing, but haven’t seen anything yet…

****

Well, we found something, all right. And we learned some lessons, too.

Following the sound of something large splashing and bellowing, we paddled around a promontory and spotted a cave-mouth, about ten feet above the water (nothing in the water, though).

Ezekiel decided he would go first, since he had the best armor and such, so he slung out a rope of climbing and started up. No sooner had he reached the top than a boulder bounced off his shield and sailed over our heads.

He yelled, “Giants,” so there wouldn’t be any ambiguity – and I arced an arrow up and past him while Elmo leapt up the rope with his battleaxe.

Raven sprang up the rocks like a spider, and once the rope was free I started to follow the others. Mikael rushed past me in a flurry of wings, and landed above as himself.

By the time I reached the top, it looked pretty ugly. The cave was spacious, but giants still packed the space…and a suspiciously dragon-ish white lizard stood on one side, breathing frost in our faces.

My arrows did absolutely nothing…and while Raven was dodging boulders with a monkish little dance or something, a giant caved Ezekiel’s head in with a club – and another one bowled Mikael right off the edge of the cliff.

I did see one thing – Ezekiel dropped a little black cube as he fell. I knew it must be the fortress…and if I could get it, I could enact his plan and block or squish the enemy (it would at least cover our retreat, though that’s a word I’m not fond of).

Raven grabbed Ezekiel and jumped off the cliff — I heard them splash in the water.

Heiron had joined us by now, and put a couple arrows into a blue and white lizard snarling in the corner – then called to Elmo that we were safe to retreat.

Elmo chopped a giant in half and dove out of the cave. A boulder caught me in the shoulder, but I was all ready to grab the fortress and practice Discretion.

Then a raven buzzed through the cave and flew off with the fortress in his claws.

I admit, I got frustrated at having to change plans…but I wasted no time. The giants had pummeled Heiron to his knees. By the time I staggered across to him, grabbed his elbow, and jumped off the cliff, he was barely conscious. (Raven says the impact of hitting the water is what pushed him over the edge, but I’m just glad we got out of there.)

Raven and Elmo helped Heiron onto the raft. Ezekiel(‘s body) was lying on top of a chalk circle…but it’s not like we had time to wait for Lydia (she can hate me if she wants). Nothing would stop the giants from reaching the edge of the cliff, and the dragon/lizard things had wings.

A dolphin was tugging a rope to drag the raft away, but I didn’t wait for that.

I popped one of my magic rings into my pocket, pried the ring of spell storage from Ezekiel’s finger…and remembered I don’t know how to cast spells. But I guess just wanting to cast Airy Water was good enough – because the next thing we knew, the raft was fluttering to the sea floor (jerking Mikael on the rope a little, but I think he forgives me).

We panted for a moment – processing. Faint bellowing came from above our heads, but we had lost our enemies.

Elmo had time to tell me “good job” (I made a note of that!) and then Lydia appeared – pretty mad. She ordered us through the portal, and after everybody else made it (either supporting someone, or flopping, for the most part) I followed.

Turns out, Lydia was most angry because she couldn’t do anything. Good thing she was watching us, though…even if it irritated her to watch a fight she couldn’t participate in.

I rubbed Keoghtim’s Ointment on the worst of Heiron’s injuries, and then Father Yra showed up – summoned by a man-at-arms – to take care of Ezekiel.

It’s still quite impressive to watch someone start breathing again. Father Yra told us not to worry about the fee, since we’re kinda sorta working for the tower anyway…he should know by now we’re a party who needs our raises.

The cleric types passed around healing…and under normal circumstances, that’d be enough excitement for one day.

But Lydia was not done by any means.

She snatched the ring of spell-storage, tossed some sulphur around, and handed to Ezekiel. She told him to drink a potion of invisibility, and go through the mirror and throw two fireballs at the giants.

Raven gave him a potion, and we heard the *clank-clank-clank* of him walking through the portal. Moments later, he reappeared – but Lydia did not look well pleased.

She said something that sounded like “pathetic,” and in the end we all got a swig of the potion. Lydia would drop most of us in the back of the cave – invisible, and with Ezekiel’s silence on us – and then move the portal around to the front of the cave for Ez.

When we saw her drop a light-marble through the portal, that would be the signal…Mikael and Raven would use their ropes of entanglement from the sides, and the rangers and archer would unleash a hail of death.

Well, this time the battle went much differently. When we no longer had to climb up one by one to reach the enemy – and when we surprised them with invisibility on top of that! – it was like…shooting fish in a barrel.

Mikael summoned Rocky the Earth Elemental, but I don’t think he even got any of the action. Heiron and I did indeed “unleash a hail of death,” and Elmo dashed into the fray with his axe.

As the smoke cleared from Ezekiel/Lydia’s second fireball, the last giant dropped to the ground.

It almost seems unfair. Almost.

Turns out they were hoarding a whole lot of gems and coins, plus a ring of protection that Elmo is wearing for now…Also a couple scrolls, one of which is definitely for Lydia.

We set up the fortress, and no sooner had we drawn the circle than Lydia joined us. Before we could panic, she explained that she’s been doing some studying, and found that she can “fix” the portal or something, so she can step in and out of it without trapping us all. Makes sense we wouldn’t want to leave it sitting open where something dangerous might blunder in (like a slime), but as long as we’re in the fortress, everything should be dandy.

With this new information, Ezekiel is much more confident about killing the dragons in the Air Node. We all talked for a bit about how we might do that, especially if Lydia loads up the ring of storage with fireballs and lightenings – and then all of us followed her back through the portal so she could rest and study up.

Before she shut down the mirror, though, Ezekiel had her drop him at Taki’s old campsite in the Air Node so he can practice his protection spells. He says the bandit cleric we rescued last gave him some hints that the spells could work differently in the nodes, and he wants to experiment. I’m not sure how you can “experiment” with divine spells (it’s not like it depends on word order and pronunciation, right?) but anyway that’s what he’s up to. And if he just sits in the fortress and stays off the battlements, he shouldn’t be too vulnerable all by himself.

I think Mikael also wants to prepare some things. He’s had a bundle of sticks shoved in his back pocket for the last few days, and last I saw him, he said something about “collecting a jar of wasps”. I’m…not sure I want to know.

The rest of us prepare in our own ways…sharpening weapons and restocking arrows. Raven’s been in the back yard swinging around one of his magic daggers.

Elmo said he was impressed with my work, even though I didn’t get to do much. He says I know more about giants than he does now, but I figure that’s just practice and exposure…and besides, he’s the one who diced a giant into pieces, so it all evens out. We did have fun showing Heiron the difference between a hand-axe and Elmo’s battle-axe.

Mister Whisker said he missed me. Technically, I guess, he missed my cookies, but broadly he missed me. Maybe if we go back to the Node of Air, or finally get to the Node of Earth, he can come with me again.

What a day. Good to have Ezekiel alive again, though.


Read the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….Wonillon’s grand finale

We had just sent the bandits off through the mirror, and Ezekiel had just spotted what might be a raft on the coast-line, when Raven reappeared – right about the spot where the bandits disappeared. He says he got our last two rescued prisoners safely on their way home…and, of course, picked up some cheese (which he passed around).

We talked a bit about how we could get the Dragon-Turtles out of the node and into the Near Div. It might be possible with a couple potions of Diminution, a spell of Mikael’s, and the river near Nulb…but we should definitely check with them first. And anyway it should be a while before we’re ready to collapse the nodes.

We also talked about ways to fight the Demon-Rays (or Ixixaktl). Ezekiel says it’s going to be harder, because some of them have the abilities of clerics (like casting spells and stuff) and others of them even have the ability to suck your life-force (he says it’s like vampires, but none of us have ever met those, either – thank goodness!).

Demon-rays are water-breathers, so Wonillon suggested casting “Airy Water” on them, making them at least sink – and maybe suffocate. Ezekiel isn’t sure he can use the spell on something other than himself, though.

Naturally, shooting my bow underwater would be basically useless – even inside the Airy Water.

****

We investigated the raft – and sure enough, it floats. Looks like it was cobbled together from bits and pieces of everything, with a couple rough paddles that might have been carved with a battle-ax. It looks rickety and uneven…but it does float, even with all of us on it.

We paddled toward what we’re calling south until we hit a new island (small and uninhabited), where Mikael tried to “Commune with Nature” or something (it’s supposed to make him one with the environment and tell him useful things about the surrounding countryside or something). He’s been sitting with his eyes closed and humming a little for almost ten minutes.

Ezekiel took the time to look for any hidden caves near the shoreline. He didn’t find any, but he did find a pretty shell.

****

Mikael didn’t learn anything…I guess this place isn’t much like the “natural” outside. (He doesn’t seem to like Ezekiel’s new shell.)

We continued south until we reached the wall of the node. I assume that’s what it is…it’s a wet, glinting wall of rock that rises up and arcs toward the fake stars overhead. We took care not to get too close with our raft.

Something attacked us shortly after we turned east. I just know it had wings and dove out of the water very suddenly. Wonillon and Ezekiel killed it (with Mikael’s help).

**

Well. It’s been an afternoon.

We were following the rock wall “east” a rocky formation rose up ahead of us. There must be an underwater cave entrance, because next thing we knew, humanoid things with fins and gills started swarming us.

We were a bit taken aback when Ezekiel hit one and his mace didn’t light up or anything (though it was also amazing that he’d hit two things today), so Mikael called out to ask them if they were Evil…though they never stopped attacking us long enough to answer.

Then I hit a couple with Tressarian (he was in my hand since we were sniffing for magic and Evil) and I could tell by the way their skeletal structure came apart – they’re related to hob-goblins somehow. I’m not sure exactly how the fins and gills came into it, but at least I didn’t have to guess where the major arteries and organs would relate to each other.

Not like it mattered a great deal – the others were chewing through them, even without my know-how. Heiron was shooting down two or three of them every minute or so…and they noticed. They gabbered in their own ugly language, and charged through the water to get at him (by the way, the raft is sturdier than I gave it credit for, and I’m very grateful that it didn’t tip us all out during the battle).

Things were going peachy…Mikael and Raven both used magic ropes to catch prey, and Ezekiel kept touching Heiron with healing whenever a weapon caught him. We were stacking up the bodies in the water all around us. And then the giant sting-ray things showed up.

Ezekiel tells me they’re “demon-rays,” but of course we never saw them real clearly while fighting them. They just jumped out of the water, took a bite out of something, and dove back down. Most of them seemed most interested in the dead marine-hobs (koalinths, I guess) and would take off an arm or foot as they passed a body. So I guess they’re not all that bright.

Others were more effective. One of them charged up and took a bite out of Wonillon – and he staggered back, looking pale and green.

A couple water-hobs knocked Heiron’s bow away and struck him to his knees. Although that made me see red, switching to my bow would take too long (even though I could kill more of them that way). Besides, Tressarian was having such a good time.

Ezekiel stepped over to Heiron and put his hands on him, and I tried to look dangerous by killing even more of them.

The stars disappeared for a few moments, and the fog around us seemed to intensify…Ez tells us that was a darkness spell, but I guess the continual light on our two shields was too much for it (thanks Elohnna!).

I slashed a ray in two, and realized the water-hobs had fled back to their cave (those who were still alive, obviously).

Ezekiel waved his sheep-symbol around, and I guess a few bubbles floated to the surface or something (of course in all that chaos it’s hard to tell)…he says there were some water-ghouls that noticed the power of the lamb.

I’m just wondering how many other things feel the need for a water-gimmick. What’s next, water-squirrels?

We were finishing off the last of the moving ixixaklt when I saw Raven holding his hand in front of his eyes and throwing a dagger.

At first I thought he was just trying to make it look more impressive…then I saw his dagger imbed into a…

[partial sketch]

Floating eye thing. So that’s a thing, too.

It bubbled and dropped into the water, and Heiron and Wonillon shook their heads and rubbed their eyes a little. (Heiron asked me, “How could a giant eye just float like that, Master?” and I told him to ask Lydia.)

Wonillon still looked kinda shriveled and green (and he’s just naturally small anyway) so Ezekiel said we had to get him back to the world to find a healer.

Not fancying the idea of sitting right outside the koalalynths’ front door, we paddled for about ten minutes until we found another bare island that would fit the fortress. We had time to bandage Heiron before Lydia waved us through.

He seems in a bad way. Even with the dodging and push-ups he’s been practicing, there’re only so many bites and stabs a man’s body can take. It’s not fair that just because I’m not as tall as he is I somehow seem less intimidating. Ezekiel says I shouldn’t tempt fate.

Ezekiel has also been talking with Father Yra and some other people at the tower…and the news isn’t good for Wonillon. As Ez said at first, it looks like the demon-ray sucked a bit of his life away. Not sure how that works, but I guess it means Wonillon forgot a few things…and isn’t as healthy as he used to be.

There is a spell that could help him…but it would take someone in Verbobanc to cast it, that they’d probably want a lot of money for the trouble (according to Father Yra). Like, a lot of money – even more than Mikael has (and he doesn’t have to pay Master Geru to share the “secret druid knowledge!”).

Wonillon’s done some thinking, and he thinks he’ll “quit while he’s ahead”…he got his revenge on the temple, and he says he’s richer than anyone in his hometown could ever dream. So he might as well retire while he’s still a young gnome in his prime, and enjoy his earnings.

Ez made a big speech that basically meant, “Good to know you; stay in touch.” We’re going to hang out for a few days (Heiron has to rest up anyway) and throw a farewell party. (Lydia will be happy…she says it’s super boring just watching us flex through the mirror.)

I want to ask Wonillon if he’ll sell me the Necklace of Adaptation. After all…he probably won’t need it…and it would come it super handy in the water node (and possibly in some of the other ones, too). Lydia and Ezekiel tell us that the elemental grus can’t cancel the effects of magical items, so having that would make me much more confident about being able to breath.

Tressarian says it was a worthy fight, but would have been even better if they were Evil fire creatures. He’ll just have to wait until the fire node.

(Lydia skeptical that Ezekiel turned some water-ghouls…she says the Demon Prince that the demon-rays serve is usually bitter enemies with the Undead King. Then again, maybe they weren’t working together? They just happened to be hanging out in the same area? The demon-rays sure weren’t “working with” the sea-hobs in any sense that we would recognize…)


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….Ezekiel is trigger-happy and Mikael is a dolphin

We talked with our rescued slaves while waiting for Lydia to answer our chalk circle (good thing we’ve never used it for an emergency evacuation).

One of them (Dwr) says he was captured from a merchant caravan, and thrown into the pit as a sacrifice. Says he’s the only one left of his group.

The other one (Dirat) was a bit more evasive…says he came to the Temple for work, but displeased one of the leaders and was “given” to the giants in the node (the Temple gave him tools on the other side, and the giants were waiting for him when he arrived).

Wonder what the giants needed slaves for? Digging out a cozier cave in the rock? Continue reading

Dear Diary….something something giants

I suggested that, since Lydia apparently used Taki to home in on the Air Node, that we could draw a picture or something on one of the cliffs here to help her find it, if we ever need her to send us back here. So this morning, Mikael asked for stone-shape, and made a statue of Nori on the side of this cliff here.

[sketch]

We had a little excitement early this morning. Ezekiel and Mikael were on watch, when Mikael suddenly started poking us and shouting us awake. Heiron and I grabbed our bows and followed him up to the battlements. There, we saw a huge blue man-thing (actually a Cloud Giant) clutching Ezekiel with one hand and trying to climb down the fortress.

A moment later, Raven’s rope snaked out of an arrow slit below us and wrapped around the giant. Heiron and I let loose into him, and he dropped like a stone – still clutching Ezekiel. Continue reading

Dear Diary….one wild morning

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

We had barely finished our conversation when there was a knock on the door.

This derni’s magic fortress thing has a roof you can access, with battlements and everything…so they sent me up to the roof to scope things out. An old man in rags was knocking at the door, wearing a battered hat and cloak.

Ezekiel opened the door enough to ask him his business, and the old man dropped to the ground and started whining. When Ezekiel brought him inside the fortress, I came down from the roof.

The old man had about three brain cells left, it seems. He kept calling us “Great Master of the Abysal Fires” and begging us to send him home “to the Orth”…and offering us “thousands of gold pieces and my eternal service” if we would help him.

When he said his name was Sargin, Ezekiel winked at us, and I guess he was mentioned in the little book from the High Cleric’s room as a Temple official who got condemned to the nodes.

We did get kind of uncomfortable at him calling us “demon or devil,” and Mikael tried to explain that we’re not Evil (“I’m a Master of Trees, not the Abyss!”) but it was like talking to a sneaky child…Sargin just kept agreeing with everything we said, and insisting that he would serve us faithfully – no matter what kind of monster or weird being we were.

Even after Raven fed him (he gobbled it so fast he crumbs in his beard, which was full of twigs and stuff anyway), Sargin didn’t make much sense. Ezekiel tried asking him about the Air Node, but he just gabbled about “no way home” and the dragons were “guarding, guarding, always guarding something – maybe a way home? – but I couldn’t…couldn’t…” He couldn’t even face the puddings (says he hid from them) which makes sense, being a magic user with no spell-books.

Wonillon asked him where this gold was that he offered us, and Sargin said “back home,” in the Kingdom of Erdi. Wonillon and Ezekiel kind of rolled their eyes at each other…I gather it’s something to do with the Great Kingdom, which at least tells us that the Temple gathered acolytes from all over the place – but nothing more useful than that.

Finally, Ezekiel seemed satisfied that nothing useful would come of prolonging the conversation. Raven convinced Sargin to give up his weapon – a dagger was all he had left – and then we signaled Lydia (Ez told Sargin to “carefully obey everything Mistress Lydia says”). A few minutes after Raven drew a chalk circle on the ground, a wooden crate popped out of the air.

Raven stepped into the magic spot to explain everything to Lydia – and offered Taki the chance to leave the node, but Taki said he had some things to collect first.

While Raven was gone, we opened the crate and discovered enough flasks of oil for each of us to take a couple…which is nice, because it felt like I was the only one who prepared for that. Also nice to know Lydia can help us out with supplies — having an on-demand portal back home is sure useful!

When Raven came back, he said some men-at-arms took Sargin off. S seemed calm enough, so maybe he can get the “help” he needs.

Sobering to see what could happen to a man in a place like this…without Taki’s strength and skill, and without the back-up of the bandit band (whom we haven’t seen yet).

Taki says he’s willing to spend the night in here with us…an impenetrable fortress sure comes in handy. In the morning, Ez says he wants to work around the feet of the central spire, exploring as we go, and try to find the way-point to the Water Node that Taki mentioned.

****

One cave down. Taki took off on his own not long after we started. We spotted a cave mouth above us as we headed north (what I’m calling north) along the ravine floor, and went to investigate.

At the first fork, we headed right, and found a couple spacious caves. The strangest thing about them was the glacier walls along the north side — don’t know if the cave butts up against something icy, or if something covered those walls with ice.

We did meet a half-dozen ice toads – so maybe they covered the walls with ice (but then, why only the north side?). Mikael and Wonillon held the front line (Mikael was wearing the ring of warmth, after all) while Heiron and I peppered them with arrows. I’m getting faster on my draw…if Father could just see me now.

Once they were all dead, they didn’t suck in heat so viciously – so we could approach without being hit with biting, finger-numbing cold. Ezekiel patched up the wounded (he gets such a kick out of that) while we searched the bodies.

Apparently some other travelers weren’t so lucky, as we found some remains inside – mostly gems and jewelry, that wouldn’t digest, and a couple magical items (Tressarian confirmed that they were magical). One was a decanter with a stopper – though Ezekiel couldn’t figure out how to work it. The other was an ordinary-looking hat…but once Raven put it on (he didn’t mind all the toad juice, I guess) suddenly he could look like me – or Ezekiel. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this…but Heiron pointed out that maybe Lydia would like it, and I suppose if she wanted to assassinate us, she doesn’t need to disguise herself as us to do that. (I think we all agreed that the hat would be safer with her than with Raven.)

Ezekiel did some poking around the ice wall, but couldn’t find out anything else. He said maybe the different nodes “border each other paraphysically” (whatever that means), but from what I see, that doesn’t change our strategy much.

(Speaking of strategy, Heiron whispered to me to ask if maybe he should have used his flame-tongue sword on the toads instead of his arrows, since they were ice, and so would have been vulnerable to fire. He made it sound like he was at fault for what he did, but I pointed out he’d be risking frostbite in his fingers to get that close to them, and even though that’s what Wonillon did, there’s no accounting for gnomes…Anyway, I told him that next time we face something like that, he can try a new approach if he wants. We’re the archers of the party for a reason, but it’s true we have various different tools for a reason.)

Exploring the cave near the entrance, we found something weird. It’s a metal tube with some kind a lever mechanism on one end, but it doesn’t seem to do anything (Tres says it’s not magical, though of course he didn’t notice Druid Kela’s shape-shifting periapt).

Raven and Ez think they hear some kind of whirlwind on the other side of the wall – which Ezekiel is convinced means some kind of air elemental, so we’re going to check that out next.

(At the cave mouth we met a huge, grey ball – taller than Mikael! – rolling past. When it started rolling toward us, Heiron peppered it with arrows, and it started deflating like a giant bladder. Mikael calls it an “askamoyd,” and says we should stay back until it finishes deflating so we don’t get hit with any spores. Apparently it’s some kind of mushroom, and pretty poisonous.)

****

New journal. Hope the old one dries out all right. Some of the pages are kinda smeared…Lydia says my handwriting could hardly get more illegible, but she’s just in a mood.

It all started with the second cave. Shortly after leaving the toad cave, we found a slope leading to another cave that we assumed would abut to the last one (and contain the elementals Ezekiel was sure he heard). When we got about forty feet above the ravine floor (Wonillon said that’s what he figured), we reached a plateau in front of the cave mouth.

As we cautiously approached, we spotted a cluster of foggy clouds drifting about inside. With their strange misty tentacles and their three glowing red eyes, they fit the “Wind Terror” name that Mikael gave to them (I guess it’s a druid’s job to know all about the things that go on in nature, and what can go wrong).

With the howl of a windstorm, the elementals charged us – and battle was joined.

Mikael threw faery fire on them right away. Heiron launched an arrow – but when it passed right through one of their misty bodies, we both switched to our magic swords.

I think Tressarian liked getting some action. I don’t know if “sliced” is the right word, but he sliced right through one of the beasties (he says “beasties” isn’t the right word) and it vanished with a shriek.

Mikael whacked one with his rod (I saw the fog or whatever billow and recoil) but Ezekiel wasn’t having the same luck, and his mace seemed to whiff right through the Terrors without dispersing their bodies at all.

Heiron moved up to the front line – and he must have been a really attractive target, because the Terrors kept flinging sharp debris at him and lashing him with their cold, clammy tendrils. They hurt more than you’d think, so Ezekiel kept busy touching Heiron with healing spells.

Wonillon stabbed a Terror with his dagger, and when Heiron and I carved up enough of the others, the last two fled over our heads, sounding like a blizzard on a mountain or something.

Mikael stopped Heiron’s bleeding (he really took the brunt of the battle) while the rest of us looked around. First thing we noticed was that Raven was gone – but then his voice told us that he just drank a dose of his invisibility potion, so everything was all right.

Next thing we noticed was the nest of trinkets in the corner. I wouldn’t have thought elemental fog clouds were interested in collecting treasure…and I guess it could just be the remains of other unfortunate travelers who have come this way. We looked over the pile while Ezekiel scrutinized it for traps, and Tressarian sniffed for magic.

Magic axe (which is mine now), magic mace (which Ezekiel pounced on, as a “back-up,” he says), magic ring, magic potion, magic scroll in scroll tube (protection from all elementals – now Mikael has a second one), and…a pile a gems, one of which was magical.

Ezekiel declared the pile safe from traps, and picked up the magic aquamarine.

And then – I spluttered as I found myself underwater.

I was holding Tressarian, of course, and good thing he understood that I wanted to levitate, because then we were out of the water (turns out it was only ten feet deep), hovering above some kind of sea.

A rocky, coral-covered island lay not far away, so I used my feet to paddle toward it. By the time I got there, Ezekiel and Heiron were pulling themselves ashore, coughing and spluttering. Raven, of course, wasn’t wearing any armor, so he leisurely tread water along behind them, and helped Wonillon find the island. Moments later, a seal flopped up onto the island, and turned into Mikael.

Naturally, we assume this is the Water Node. The whole place was dim, like moonlight on a humid night, and mists rise from the water in all directions. There are more islands scattered everywhere, and the water tastes brackish. Mikael supposes that both fresh- and salt-water creatures could live here, though the salt-water beasts might not be super happy about it…and from what Taki said, the node has been stocked with the most dangerous and deadly creatures.

Ezekiel set up the fortress, and we all went inside (well, all except Mikael, who turned into a dolphin and made laps around the island, just to show that he could, I think. He does say there’s a coral ridge a few yards away from the island that plunges into deeper water, so I guess we can be grateful we didn’t pop into the node over there).

When we got into the fortress, we found the crate that Lydia gave us still sitting where we left it – which I guess means it got shrunk along with the fortress, so that’s nice! It means we can stock the fortress with a little furniture and stuff – or at least with some dry firewood – and not worry about it getting atomized when we shrink the fortress. (That’s a fun word Ezekiel used…”atomized”…)

Wonillon built a fire from the crate and we all huddled around it while Raven drew his chalk circle (he says the chalk was a little smeary, but it worked). Mister Whisker wasn’t too happy about going swimming without warning, but I think he was pretty well protected in his special traveling pocket, and his attitude improved after I gave him some cookie (soggy cookie, but he didn’t care).

It took quite a while for Lydia to answer us, and Ezekiel spent the time swinging our new weapons around. He seems to admire the axe (which makes sense when I remember that he grew up in a temple of Heironious), but he’s not allowed to use sharp weapons anymore…and besides, it’s mine. One of us has devoted his life to dealing pain with all manner of weapons, and that one is not Ezekiel! I don’t care how many disciples he thinks he’s going to get one day, he can’t just hoard all the magic weapons. One of us spent weeks banging on an anvil to build the muscle tone necessary to wield a hammer or ax in combat (that one is not Ezekiel).

Anyway, Lydia finally poked her head in through the floor, and she seemed mighty ticked. She demanded to know what we did, and after we all blamed Ezekiel, she told him to “put the stone in something,” then get rid of the fortress.

Ez put the magic stone inside a pouch in his backpack, and then we left the fortress and shrank it. Mikael joined us as himself, and when Lydia’s arm waved at us through the ground, we all stepped over to the spot – and stepped out into her room in the tower in Homlette.

She shooed us into a corner where there wasn’t carpet, and lectured us a little bit about how hard it was to find us again after we all disappeared. Raven tried to soften her a little by giving her the hat of face-changing, and Ez asked if she could send us back to the Air Node, now that she’s seen that.

She grumbled a little, and sat in front of the mirror, and I used the time to check my bowstring. Looks like I’ll have to switch to my spare one, but fortunately that one was wrapped up well enough and buried deep enough in my pack that it wasn’t bothered by our momentary dunking.

After a bit, Lydia gestured us toward the spot to the side of the mirror that I guess would let us pass through it again (I don’t know how it works, but it does work, so that’s what matters).

We filed out, and eventually recognized the brisk air and chiseled rocks of the Air Node…and Taki, who looked kinda startled at first. We’d never been to this particular part of the node before, but I guess Taki gathered up his other belongings (he has an extra backpack now) – and seemed amenable to joining us in the fortress when Ezekiel set it up again.

Lydia’s still a little grumpy, because as Ezekiel stepped into the fortress, he tripped over a crate that appeared in the air underneath him…but it’s full of firewood, so it’s plain she’s looking out for us.

Mikael distributed all the healing he had left for today, and Ezekiel explained our morning to Taki (not sure why he feels the need to go into so much detail, but there you go).

As he was explaining the mysterious node-transferring gem, he pulled out the pouch and opened it – just enough so that we could see what he was talking about…and Mikael and Wonillon both spoke up and said it looked like the depressions in the skull!

Don’t know how much Taki knows about the Key – or wants to know, or needs to know – but Ezekiel is very excited that it seems we’ve found one of the rocks-in-boxes on our first day inside!

I can’t imagine the rest of the Key-stones being this easy… Of course, “easy” is a relative term, since we had to kill half-a-dozen fog fiends that could easily have killed Heiron in return, if we didn’t have clerics to back us up.

It’s barely noon (in our biological time – not in node-time, since it’s always the same in this fake-sky) but both Mikael and Ezekiel have used up their healing for today. It seems a shame to wait out a whole afternoon, but we don’t need to take unnecessary risks. Besides, we have to dry out our gear, and I have to swap out my bowstring…and I think Taki is still deciding if he wants to help us on our “mission” for a while, or if he’s had it with the nodes, and wants to make his escape while he can. He seems at ease enough, since Raven was so nice to him…but we sure seem like a crazy party to people outside.

Also, I’m not sure Ez should explain everything about what we’re doing, and what we want in here. Rescuing trapped people is good enough…the whole “Key of the Fungus Queen” is complicated, and even I don’t understand all about it. It still seems like “repairing the Key so we can get to Her and kill Her” is, like, giving Her exactly what She needs to be free and wreck havoc. Maybe that’s just me…


Read the next entry here.

Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….the elemental node of air

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

Ehlonna has given me a little friend! He’s a weasel named Mister Whisker and he should be very handy in following scents and such.

(Also, I’ve wanted a pet since I was six years old, but just because Wolfgang dropped his puppy out the window or something before I was even born! the rule was no pets. Besides, Lydia and Mikael both had lots of pets, and it just doesn’t seem fair that I couldn’t have one, so now I do.)

He’s still having trouble coming when I call his name, but we’re working on that (he really likes little crumbs of honey cake, which is handy). Lord Otis says I could have spent that time doing push-ups, but at least he’s happy with how my sword work is coming. (I think the smithy is getting a new roof in the near future.) Continue reading

Dear Diary….we were not alone

I’m just going to say if Ezekiel doesn’t want me to do my job, he needs to say so, I’ll just say.

It must have been sometime in the morning, while Raven and Wonillon were on watch, that Wonillon shook me awake. Raven was standing at the door, and while Wonillon shook the others, he asked me if I had my bow ready.

So I got it ready, and when Raven threw open the door, what should be standing there but a hill giant! So I nailed it in the joint of the arm – which was pretty good for still having sleep in my eyes.

The giant yelped, and shivered a little, and then turned into a half-elf lady. Continue reading

Dear Diary….GIANT slug-fest

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

Mikael pointed out that he can ask for Heat Metal – which would really make the Black-Armored Cleric uncomfortable! With that, and his new magic stone of earth-elemental-summoning, we made a new strategy for going back into the Temple.

It’s been almost a week, so the enemy has had plenty of time to redo their strategy, too. But Ezekiel assures us that with Lydia’s new “globe of invulnerability” spell, lightning bolts won’t be such an issue. And she’s been casting spells into the ring of storage, so that Ezekiel can act like a magic user from the front lines.

Here’s to hoping it goes better this time.

****

Most things are bittersweet. We have won – but at a cost.

I think this is the closest I’ve ever come to being in a battle. There was that one fight with the gnolls that went long, but I got knocked unconscious that time. Continue reading

Dear Diary….a pitched battle (if “battle” means “running away”)

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t call trading Raven for a magic box fair…but it’s better than a total scratch.

Besides, High Priest Yra can probably raise Raven tomorrow…and we learned lots of important lessons, like the meaning of pure terror.

It started last night with Lydia making Wonillon invisible. She told him that if he tried any monkey business she didn’t like, she would make him intensely regret it for the rest of his short life (which I guess shows she was on edge even then).

In the morning, the “cleric types” had decided what they would cast on everyone as “buffs,” and we passed out the jars of Keoghtim’s ointment so more people could act as “healers” in a pinch. I tucked one at my belt, and turns out that was one of the best things we did.

Ezekiel started us with exploring the giants’ rooms…he said he hoped we might catch someone sleeping late, and dispatch it while it was isolated from the others, but I think the head cleric was too clever for that. Much too clever.

The first room had four beds and four chests – with a pretty good haul of gems. We couldn’t even carry the amount of coinage, and decided to come back for it…we’ll see how that works out in the long run.

I was disturbed to see the walls all gouged with holes…like someone’s been collecting boulders. As things turned out, it was the least of our problems, but we can’t afford to forget about them for next time.

The second room we explored had three beds, and three chests. Wonillon and Raven checked the first chest, but obviously they missed something, because when Lydia went to open it with her cantrip or whatever she calls it, thick, biting smoke rolled out of it. It was only unpleasant, but I decided to help Heiron guard the corridor while the rest of them dealt with the other chests.

That chest was empty, so Raven went to open a second one (I guess Lydia had had enough of his “practical jokes”). I heard Wonillon to be careful about something – and the next thing we knew, Raven keeled over with a needle in his finger! Wonillon got Koeghtim’s ointment on it – so he didn’t die die – yet.

Someone said, “What a bad tone-setter,” but Mikael said it was only a tone-setter if we let it be. Ezekiel said maybe we were getting all our bad luck out of the way – but we still decided to leave the third chest alone. The second chest was packed – two magic stones, and a pile of gems and jewelry. Considering the first one was completely empty, Wonillon suggested the last one might be a decoy, too.

Raven offered to use his magic X-ray ring – which we all call his ring of cheese-finding now – but we got him to move on. (That’s one good thing…Ezekiel has gotten it away from him now.)

After that, there was no point delaying the inevitable. We formed up in the battle lines Ezekiel had mapped out, and went to the top of the stairs to wait while Wonillon scouted.

Ezekiel cast his Detect Traps thing – and hissed for Wonillon to stop (we couldn’t see him, after all) because there were glyphs of warding at the foot of the stairs. Sounds like we stopped him just in time, and Mikael came forward to dispel them.

After that, Wonillon went down the stairs again – according to the map, we knew they were the last stairs before the big “sanctuary” area or whatever it is. The hallway continues probably thirty feet at the bottom, before opening up into the big room. Not that we ever saw that, of course. Not this time.

It wasn’t long before Wonillon came back. He said he saw a big man in black platemail, with a mage standing a little ways behind him…and crowds and crowds of ogres, giants, and trolls. He also spotted gargoyles sitting up high – but that’s all he had time for because they detected him (he doesn’t know how – he was invisible, wearing boots of elven-kind, and it was pitch-dark in there) but he ran out of there just in time.

Ezekiel cast fire resistance on those of us who needed it (Mikael had a spell for himself), and Lydia cast auras of protection from Evil on herself and Ezekiel (not sure it did much this time, but better than not having it. We don’t know where all the secret passages are, and having someone sneak up behind us isn’t a happy thought).

Ezekiel gave the sign to charge, and clattered down the stairs. As soon as he saw the cleric in black armor, he flung something at him…it seemed to make the cleric back up, closer to his mage.

I was hanging back, closer to Lydia, holding my bow – while Mikael was near the front with Ezekiel, ready to do what he could. He said the words for faery fire, but nothing seemed to happen, so I fired an arrow at them. It stopped at the threshold of the corridor, and dropped, as though bouncing off an invisible wall.

I very much dislike things I don’t understand, so I backed up a little to be closer to Lydia’s protection. Ezekiel also halted his advance about half-way down the corridor…which might just be the best thing he did all day.

The Black Cleric gave some pompous speech (proving Ezekiel’s silence spell hadn’t bothered him) about “Welcome to the Temple of Elemental Evil” (he’s several staircases too late) and “this is where you die” (if he could just see the counters going).

The mage behind him did something – then the Cleric threw something.

Ezekiel yelled, “Silence!” – and then the whole corridor in front of him was filled with a smooth metal wall. Ez and Lydia tell me it was adamantine.

Since we were cut off from our enemies, Lydia took the time to explain to us that it was a magic item (“Someone-someone’s Magic Fortress Something”) which means the Cleric could grow and shrink it at will (it also apparently is really flattening if it lands on you).

The Cleric had to say the command word to shrink it – and then pick it up before throwing it at us again…which meant we had to wait until Ezekiel’s second silence spell wore off on him, and then we had – had – had to grab the cube thing, or he’d try this trick on us all over again.

The barkskin Mikael cast on Raven wore off, but most of our other buffs were still glowing when the wall before us suddenly disappeared.

I was still trying to find a target when a lightning bolt ripped down the corridor past us. Our clothes had barely even started smoking when a second one flashed past, and I saw Raven drop to the ground, convulsing.

Ezekiel shouted, and an explosion of fire slapped the Black Cleric – right before insects started swarming him (Mikael is invaluable).

By that time, though a couple boulders had bounced around the corner of the hallway – one of them catching Heiron a nasty gash on the arm. We still had to grab the cube if we didn’t want to repeat this scenario beat-for-beat…and then it disappeared.

Ezekiel yelled, “Wonillon, my best boy!” so I decided it was in good hands, and told Heiron to fall back (but not before he sent an arrow straight into the Black Cleric’s face…only to have it deflect off his armor!).

As I ran back toward where Raven lay, I saw Lydia also crumpled on the ground, smoking gently. She’s lighter than Raven is, and Heiron is – more broad-shouldered than I am, so I told him to carry Raven.

When I picked Lydia up, I saw she was just barely drawing ragged breathes – so I grabbed that jar of ointment I had handy, and smeared it on her burns as best I could. Wonillon helped, too (I assume, since ointment appeared out of the air).

Next thing we knew, Ezekiel charged past us, shouting, “Magic missile, magic missile!” or something. Turns out he was not trying to cast one — he’d just been killed by one, and Mikael was right on his heels after bringing him back on his feet yet again (telling the pets to retreat as he ran).

If Ez meant it as a warning, I don’t know what good it did. A stream of sparks hit Heiron, and seconds later, a second missile knocked Lydia off her feet.

Mikael applied Keoghtim’s ointment to the obvious wounds, and she jumped up again – shoving him aside and throwing her hands forward. A lightening bolt appeared a few feet from us and tore into the main room – but I didn’t wait to see what damage it did. Ezekiel was already half-way up the stairs, and Heiron was following, with Raven’s body on his back.

I grabbed Lydia and ran – but not before she ordered her magic lion to “Go get ’em, boy!”

Part way up the stairs, she kicked me until I put her down, and she waved her hands again – making a wall of fire spring up behind us.

By the time we got out the doors of the Temple into the fresh air, we were all winded…Lydia partly because she breathed curses the whole way.

Ezekiel seems pretty up-beat all things considered, but there’s no question they have us out-numbered. Pity we let their wizard Falrinth escape on the third floor down.

Mikael and Ezekiel patched us all up – except for Raven, of course. He’s the only one of us who’s died two days in a row – though of course Ezekiel has him beat in terms of time (although he insists the exploding map doesn’t count).

Lydia should fume…I got off exactly one arrow, and it didn’t hit anything but air. I also carried her, for which I got kicked.

Ezekiel assures us that we’re going back in…because of course…and next time they can’t try to squish us under the magic metal fortress. I’m still not too confident about it, but we’ll see…

****

Father Yra says he “cured” Raven’s curse before raising him…which I guess means that Raven believes Ezekiel that the ring-of-cheese-finding is no good, and we won’t be using it any more.

It’s good to have him back.

While at the tower, we got some advice about some of the other stuff we found – and the magic velvet cloak we took from the medusa statue is apparently deadly. The wizard here seems to think it will poison anyone who puts it on. I voted we burn it.

The two plain-looking stones from the giants’ stash, however, turned out well worth the trouble. One of them is just a magic sling stone, but the other can be used to “control earth elementals.” Apparently it lets you summon an earth elemental to serve you for a certain amount of time. We let Mikael have it, because …yeah. Druid stuff.

Lydia also read the invisible runes on the magic box (from the dragon statue). Apparently you can command it to shrink, grow, and hide or something. (She tried to explain it to me.)

She and Ezekiel have been in the corner for some time, working out our strategy for “next time.” But first, Ezekiel says we’re going to throw the biggest dinner party the Welcome Wench has ever seen, because we survived both the “pitched battle” and Mr. Eewy! (That story took quite some time to tell at the tower. Raven and Lydia and Heiron kept interrupting each other. It was worth it all to see Sir Rufus’ face. Funny enough, Father Turjon seemed to know a lot about it before we even got back.)

Tressarian says he understands Lydia’s disappointment, and that if we see any Evil fire things, I had better let him handle them for sure.

I’m just glad we’re still alive so far.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….guess who kicked a demi-god’s butt?

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

While we had some down-time, we took a closer look at the items we’d picked up. Tressarian could tell us what was magical, but nothing more specific than that…so Mikael cast Detect Magic and took a look at the necklace, cloak, and box full of gems.

He and Ezekiel decided the globe on the necklace (that looks like a moon) has something to do with freezing (Ez thinks it’s an ice spell in physical form, or something like that); Raven pointed out it’s about the size of a sling bullet, so maybe it’s meant to be thrown to cast the spell.

As for the box, Mikael says there are invisible runes of some kind on the front of it…but he can’t read them for obvious reasons. We can’t even get rid of the invisibility with Dispel Magic for fear that would erase the runes, too. So we have to sit on that for a bit. Continue reading