Chapter #45

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*****
*  The 8 player characters contained in these writings are copyright
*  1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to persons or characters
*  either real or fictional is purely coincidental.  Copying and/or
*  distribution of these stories is permissible only under the one
*  condition that no part of them will be used or sold for profit.
*  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.
*****

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THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 8th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 6th/5rd/6th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 6th/6th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Halbarad, 7th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 7th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 9th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 6th/7th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
Rob, 8th level human priest of Trithereon (LG)
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Date:   8/25/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   midday
Place:  Havenhill, capital of the Principality of Ulek



                     XLV.  The Shrine



  The party has departed Havenhill, in search of a mystical
shrine which may lead to a legendary crypt.  They traveled
for days, moving westward and southward through Ulek, then
Keoland, the Good Hills, and into the Dreadwood Forest (it
is perhaps of interest that Rob came from Keoland - but he
wisely stayed away from his home city this time).
  In the Dreadwood, the party had to repel the attacks of
a band of odd werewolf-like creatures.  They also had their
first encounter with manticores, strange winged, bearded
beings with lethal tail spikes...but the group survived these
perils and emerged from the dark forest into the Little Hills
(which divide the Yeomanry from Keoland).  From there they
entered the Yeomanry, making their way from small town to
small town until the capital, Loftwick, was reached.  This
had all taken about three weeks of travel time, thanks to the
fine horses the party had bought back in Havenhill.

Halbarad:  Well, there it is.
Peyote:  Loftwick, dude.
Ged:  Let's get in there and see what we can find out about
  this shrine.
Mongo:  I KNOW what we'll find out.  We'll find out that it's
  sacred, and that it's haunted.
Rob:  Spooky.
Belphanior:  I hope it's haunted.  I have always wanted to
  have a conversation with the spirits.
Rob:  You may get your chance - and you may regret it.
Peldor:  Bah.  Even in the spirit world, they have surely
  heard of the deeds of Peldor.  No spooks will stop _me_.
Alindyar:  Yonder guards are hailing us.

guard:  Hey, you.
Halbarad:  Greetings, noble guardian of this fine city.
Ged:  ...sprawling metropolis that it is...(kicked by Peyote)
  Ow.
Halbarad:  We seek only a night of rest and relaxation in the
  taverns of great Loftwick.
guard:  Well, gee...
Halbarad:  Can you recommend a fine inn for us?  Surely fine
  guards such as you are would know the best places!
Belphanior:  (whispering to Peldor)  Sheesh.  Does every party
  have to put up with someone like him?
Peldor:  Maybe.  Who knows?
Alindyar:  It matters not.  The guard already points into the
  city.
Ged:  This is called a civilized entry.  Compared to the use of
  fireballs and lightning bolts, it's usually preferable.
Belphanior:  Bah.
Rob:  (he is trailing the group as they enter the city)  Hey,
  wait up!

soon, in the Dead Donkey tavern...

Ged:  So you're telling us that you actually KNOW of this shrine
  outside the city?!?
barkeep:  Yup.  No one knows what it's there for.  Someone built
  it long ago, and now and again people go out there.  Usually
  they come back, but sometimes...
Rob:  (leaning forward)  What?  Then what?
barkeep:  If you want MY advice, don't go there.
Belphanior:  Well, we don't really want your advice.  Hell, I
  _hope_ somebody attacks us when we go there.  It will make
  life interesting.
Peyote:  You are mad.
Belphanior:  (grinning)  Yep.
Mongo:  Well, I'm mad too.  Why the hell haven't we eaten yet?
Peyote:  (pulls out an unusual fruit and bites into it)  Mmm.
  Speak for yourself.
Peldor:  I could use a meal.
Ged:  Let's eat now, and head to the shrine tomorrow.  Barkeep,
  where is this place?
barkeep:  The path is well-trodden, yea.  Just go out the west
  city gate - it's a good day's journey out there.  The main
  path, that's the one.
Ged:  Thanks.  (slips the man a few gold coins)
Peyote:  (tosses his fruit core aside and starts eating a fat
  mushroom)
Mongo:  What the hell's with you?  Where'd you get that stuff?
Peyote:  glmph.  (mouth full of food)  I've been hunting for
  good fruits and herbs for a while now.  I just happened to
  find some I wanted a few towns back.
Mongo:  (grabbing a loaf of hot bread from a waitress)  Mmph!
  Good!  Better than mushy plant food!
Ged:  Dinnertime for Mongo...
Belphanior:  Bah, I say.  (leaves, and heads for a weaponsmith
  shoppe)
Halbarad:  (dealing with the barkeep for a couple of rooms)

the next morning...

Ged:  Ah.  How good of everyone to be up so bright and early!
Peyote:  Hey, dude, I don't know about you, but it's not often
  that I get a chance to bathe, what with traveling a lot and
  all.
Alindyar:  Truly, we must make the most of these opportunities.
Peldor:  Even I agree with that.
Mongo:  Bath?
Halbarad:  Let us find our horses and ride.  Stableboy!

that night...

Peldor:  There it is!  I see the shrine ahead!
Mongo:  Geez.  What would we do without you and your great
  vision?
Peldor:  Hey, can I help it if I happen to have the best eyes
  in the party?
Halbarad:  (unslings his axe)  The place may not be unoccupied.
Belphanior:  Yeah, good idea.  (draws his sword)
Ged:  I don't see anyone.
Peyote:  Look at those awesome stones there!  This place is
  decidedly druidic.
Rob:  Well, it's getting decidedly dark.  (casts a continual
  light on a rock)  Ow.
Belphanior:  Hey!  (snatches the brightly glowing stone and
  pockets it)  Do you want everybody for miles around to see
  us?!
Rob:  Err...no.
Belphanior:  We don't need this to keep watch.
Alindyar:  I have been calculating, and guess what?
Ged:  I'll bite.  What?
Alindyar:  'Tis three days and nights until the full moon is
  due to appear...
Ged:  Damn.  We're early.
Peyote:  This is a cool place.  (wandering around)
Mongo:  There's mountains nearby.  I can smell them.  Real
  close, too, like maybe a mile.
Rob:  This place feels weird...evil?
Peldor:  (scanning the small shrine)  I don't see anything
  lying in wait for us.

  Feeling safe for the moment, the adventurers took the time
to explore the place.  The shrine was a small circle of crude
stones, perhaps twenty feet in diameter.  The dirt within was
very dry, as if it had never rained nearby.  The party set up
camp, with Belphanior and Peldor taking the first watch.
  Within the hour, sleep was interrupted.

Belphanior:  WAKE UP!!  WE HAVE COMPANY...!
Ged:  (wiping the sleep from his eyes)  I didn't know that he
  could talk that loudly.
Peldor:  (he and Belphanior are facing off against a group of
  twelve hissing humanoid shapes)  Help, guys!  There's too
  many of them!
Belphanior:  Whatever these guys are, they're rotting!  (he
  charges, slicing one creature full in the belly)  Yie!
Halbarad:  (axe and dagger ready, he approaches)  What?
Belphanior:  They don't bleed!
Peyote:  Undead, dude.  Mama, the dead walk.
Belphanior:  Cool...
Mongo:  Kill them anyway!
Ged:  Allow me.  (steps forth)  Back, demons of the night!  I
  command you to CEASE!
ghasts:  (four cringe, and then scamper away)
Rob:  Oh, come now.  Allow ME.  You!  Dead-walkers!  BEGONE!!
ghasts:  (the other eight turn and flee as well)
Ged:  Hey, what power you have.
Rob:  The pure and holy power of the Retributer.
Belphanior:  Hey, stop them!  They're getting away.
Peyote:  So?  I say let them go.
Rob:  Yeah.  Do you want them back or something?
Belphanior:  They'll just come back when your power loses its
  grip over them.  We might as well get rid of them once and
  for all.
Mongo:  (peering into the darkness around)  Well, they're
  gone.  I'll take my chances in the daytime, thanks.  I
  can't hit what I can't see.  And those guys give off no
  heat at all.
Ged:  Let's get back to sleep.

  Nothing else bothered them that night.  The next night,
however, during Rob and Belphanior's watch, the ghast-things
returned, with some friends.

Belphanior:  Holy shit!  WAKE THE FUCK UP, GUYS!  They're
  baaaaack!
Rob:  By the god...there must be two score of them!
Belphanior:  Shit.  We'll never turn them all.
Rob:  Ged, wake up!
Belphanior:  I'll get a spell ready.  No, can't do that,
  they're too close.  (grabbing his pouches)  Where did
  I put that wand?!?  Fuck!
Rob:  (raises his holy symbol of Trithereon, which begins to
  glow brightly)  BACK, O YE FOUL MINIONS OF DEATH!  GO AWAY
  FROM HERE!  GO BACK FROM WHENCE YE CAME!
Ged:  (joining the priest)  YEA, BACK!  YOU HEARD HIM!  BY
  THE POWERS OF GOOD, SCATTER BACK TO YOUR HOMES...ERR,
  GRAVES!  GO!
ghasts:  (about a dozen turn back - but many more than that
  do not.  They approach the shrine...)
Ged:  Shit!  Spell time!
Rob:  Spell?
Belphanior:  Hey, guys.
Rob:  Huh?
Belphanior:  Duck.  (fires a lightning bolt toward the mob
  of undead, who are conveniently in the same general area)

                           KRAK-OOM!!!

ghasts:  argh!  urk!  hiss!  (many of them are fried)
Belphanior:  Die, dead ones!  (blasts them again)  Ha ha!
Ged:  Well I'm glad that _someone's_ having fun here.
Peyote:  Crispy critters.
Peldor:  (looking around)  Can't a guy get a decent night's
  sleep around here?
Mongo:  (fires his hammer at a fleeing ghast, pulverizing
  it)  And don't come back!
Alindyar:  Mayhap we should have certain spells ready from
  now on.
Ged:  You got that right, pal.  From here on out, at least
  one mage needs to be on each watch.  And one of us priests
  too, if possible.
Mongo:  Hmph.
Peldor:  Gee, what am _I_ good for?
Ged:  Good question.  Let's get it back together, guys.  The
  night is still young.
Belphanior:  ...but minus a few dozen shambling dead.  Heh.

  Surprisingly, nothing molested the party the rest of that
night and the next...and the next was the night of the full
moon.  By day the adventurers enjoyed the relative peace and
quiet of the secluded shrine, studying spellbooks, praying,
smashing rocks, observing the Crystalmist mountain range -
anything to kill time until the night fell.
  As it did, the solid white moon (Luna, not Celene, for the
smaller satellite seldom was full at the same time as its
large sister) shed a pale white light on the shrine area and
the party.

Peyote:  Neat.  But it's still a good three hours till the
  witching hour.
Halbarad:  I would suggest that we all stay awake.  Just in
  case.
Peyote:  Yeah, man.  Just in case.
Peldor:  Bah.  Maybe if we stay here long enough, the great
  pumpkin will rise from the pumpkin patch...
Rob:  Pumpkin?
Ged:  Quiet, fools.
Belphanior:  You people are too scared.  Maybe the bogeyman
  will come out and get you.
Mongo:  Geez, this suspense is killing me.
Ged:  Cute choice of words.
Belphanior:  BOO!  Ha ha!
Alindyar:  At least I can tell the time from the positions
  of the stars above.

the hours passed...about a quarter hour before the designated
  time, strange shadows appeared, flitting around the area...

Rob:  Yie!
Mongo:  What the fuck...?  (swatting at the wisps)
Peyote:  What are they?
Belphanior:  (swinging his sword around)  I can't cut them!
Ged:  (casts Detect Evil)  They don't radiate evil, whatever
  they are.  Strange.
Alindyar:  Some form of shadow magic, no doubt.
Peldor:  (trying to talk to the shadows)  Maybe they are my
  long-lost brothers or something.
Halbarad:  This makes me uneasy.  I feel...odd.
Rob:  What's that?!?

  Suddenly, a deep wailing could be heard.  It was close yet
far away, above yet below.  There was no discernible single
source.

Peyote:  Quick!  Get inside the circle of stones!
Ged:  Why?  Maybe it's a trap.
Peyote:  I think it's a magical circle of protection.  (grabs
  Rob and Halbarad and drags them inside)  Come ON, man!
Alindyar:  (already inside)  I think the druid is correct...
Mongo:  (hops over the barrier)  Sure.
Peldor:  No argument from ME.  (joins them)
Belphanior:  (unsure of what to do, he reluctantly enters the
  stone circle too)
Ged:  All right, all right.
Peyote:  (casts Detect Good)  Hey, man, this place isn't evil.
  It radiates an aura of Good!
Ged:  Then why the undead?  Why the attacks?
Peldor:  Why ask why?  Maybe it was evil before and now it's
  good?  Who knows?  Who cares?
Mongo:  Yeah!  You tell 'em!
Alindyar:  'Tis just shy of midnight...

  The stones began to glow, and the wailing and shadows were
more active than ever.  Suddenly, the party saw a bright flash
of light from a peak to the west, in the mountain range...that
is, _some_ of the party saw it.

Mongo:  There it is!  That's the tallest peak in the range!
Ged:  How do you know that?
Mongo:  ...I don't know.  I just KNOW!  That's the mountain we
  need to go to.
Ged:  It is glowing!  I see it too.
Halbarad:  He is right.  I can feel it.  That glow is a sign
  showing us where to go.
Ged:  Hmm.  This all makes sense.
Rob:  I am getting the same idea.  I don't know how, but I,
  too, can see the glow.
Peyote:  You guys are nuts.  I don't "feel" anything here.
  And I sure don't SEE anything out there!
Alindyar:  Nor I.
Belphanior:  (holding his head)  Ouch.  What glow?  Agh.  My
  head is killing me.
Peldor:  (gazing into the mountains)  I can't see a darned
  thing.  Hmm.  (thinking that maybe thieves are immune to
  the vision)
Ged:  Err...it's fading already.
Mongo:  Yeah...but I can still feel that peak tugging at me.
  We have to go there.  I am sure that I know the way.
Halbarad:  Let us wait until the morrow.
Ged:  Fair enough.
Rob:  Look - the lighted part is gone now!
Mongo:  Gone, but not forgotten.  Boy, that was strange.
Belphanior:  You're telling me...

  The shrine no longer radiated power, but they slept inside
it anyway.  At morning, they moved into the mountains, where
Mongo and those who saw the beacon were sure they knew just
where to go.





next time:  the crypt

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