Chapter 24

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And now, the part none of you have been waiting for...

		Navero, male human cleric, 4th level
		Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
		Kortul, male human fighter, 3rd level
		Razuli, male human fighter, 3rd level
		Arlor, male dwarf thief, 3rd level
		Kory, male elf bard, 2nd level
		Topash, male elf druid, 3rd level

	The trek back through the swamps was very disagreeable.  The banks
	of the runs were mostly clear, and we tried to follow them along,
	but they often got so tangled we had to strike out onto unexplored
	paths; we only hit quicksand once.  The sun decided came out and
	warmed everything up, so all the bugs came out.  There were
	alligators and boars and giant leeches and Morkandian Death Snails,
	and we all had lots of nice heavy gold in our packs.  The place
	didn't do much for our mood, already poor due to the inconvenience
	of an unwanted divinely inspired mission.  We were able to agree on
	one thing, however: we had better go get this Orb of Spheres thing,
	and that meant finding somebody who knew where it was.  Propyla, the
	nearest large population center, seemed the most likely place to
	start looking.

	We did NOT go back into Propyla itself.  They would probably have
	people at the gates, watching for us.  Instead, we went to look
	through the smaller buildings which were clustered around the walled
	city, a kind of suburban area called "low town."  All the people and
	businesses who could not get into the main city were stuck in this
	area; they were either too poor, too unsavory, or both.  The
	treasure had already been divided among us, so the group split up
	and we each went to take care of our own business.

	Part of low town was The Avenue of Unacceptable Religions, temples
	of religions not considered legitimate by the government of
	Propyla.  Some of them were poorly off politically, either locally
	or in the emperors eyes; others were kept out by their inherent
	unsavoriness.  One of the latter was an interesting group of people
	who worshipped Gothard.  They were not destructive, or murderous, or
	fanatically exemplary; they were unusual in other ways.

	The Priesthood of Gothard is one of the fastest-growing religions in
	the world today.  This is because every week, every priest of
	Gothard has the sacred duty to go out into the world and impregnate
	at least one woman of human or elven blood.  Male children, when
	born, are taken in to be raised as a new priest.  To accomplish this
	Herculean task, the priests study very diligently, both by reading
	and physical exercises.  Of course, exceptional efforts are rewarded
	in proportion.

	Every priest of Gothard has a permanent charm ability; it works on
	elven or human females of childbearing age, save at -4, and the
	normal elven charm resistance does not function (apparently because
	the charm does not work on the mind at all, but on another part of
	the anatomy.)  Priests of Gothard have minimum Charisma of 15, and
	Constitution of 16.  A high wisdom also helps, but that isn't nearly
	as important in this religion as in others.

(Priestly-type person walks up to Dania.)

Priest: "Hello.  I am a Priest of Gothard."

Dania: (Seems confused for a moment.  Then, eyes widen.  Whole body quivers
slightly, like a small tree being struck repeatedly by a very large axe.
Grips staff tightly to hold herself upright.) "Uh,...  uhrrr...

Priest: "Would you like to step inside here?"

Dania: "Oh, yes..."

(Dania is not seen again for several hours.)

	Meanwhile, other business was being taken care of as well.

Razuli: "Put the shield on.  C'mon, that's upside down."

Navero: "I'm sorry, I don't know.  Do I have to go around with this?  It's
heavy, and my arm's getting tired already."

Kory: "Nav, c'mere a second.  Lemme EXPLAIN the situation to you: You are an
adventuring priest.  Right?"

Navero: "Um...  I guess so."

Kory: "Well, adventuring priests risk life and limb in the struggle to stave
back the forces of chaos and they can't do that if they're dead!  Right?"

Navero: "Right...  Do you mean that I am obligated to take whatever means
are necessary to protect my own life?"

Kory: "RIGHT!  Now, put this helmet on like a good little choir boy."

Navero: "But that stands against the teachings of the Lords!  'Live in the
way of goodness every moment; let your mind and soul and body be free of
violent thought, and peace be in your eyes.' I cannot have peace in my eyes
if I am looking out from under a helmet, which is blatantly a tool of war!"

Kory: "I don't think I'm getting through to him."

Razuli: "Kid?"

Navero: "Yes?"

(Whonks Navero on top of the head with a club.)

Razuli: "Now WEAR THE GODDAMNED HELMET!" (Clangs it down onto Navero's curly

Kory: "Well put!  And soundly thought out too!  My congratulations."

Razuli: "What can I say?"

Kory: "Don't say anything; you'll seem much more intelligent."

Navero: "owww..."

Kortul: (At counter of weapons shop) "How much?" (Puts Lizard Sword onto

Shopkeeper: "Hmmm...  Good blade...  Well made...  200 gp."

Kortul: "Magical."

Keeper: "I know.  200."

Kortul: "1000."

Keeper: "Ha!  300."

Kortul: "800."

Keeper: "400."

Kortul: "700."

Keeper: "500."

Kortul: "...600."

Keeper: "Done.  You must be great fun at parties."

	Arlor wasn't there that day (again) and so didn't do anything.  We
	stayed in town for several days, resting, recuperating, and doing
	other things adventurers do when they're not out getting themselves
	beat up.  Navero couldn't find a temple of his religion in low town;
	instead, he braved the city gates, and passed unrecognized; maybe
	the helmet helped.  In the temple, he spent much of the day in
	thoughtful reflection on the many things he had seen and done since
	he left his monastery about two months before.  He also sought out
	one of the higher-order priests for some advice on how he could
	better fulfill his duties to the Lords.  He could see that he wasn't
	doing very well on his own.

[This conversation did not take place in the game.  I thought it up while
listening to everyone else at the tavern, which is later.]

Priest: "Yes, I see.  Well, sounds like you've had quite a few little
adventures, acolyte!  I do hope you remembered all your holy day rituals -
they don't get lost in all the excitement!"

Navero: "Well, I did forget St. Kalgur's day.  But I remembered all the
others!  And went through the full rituals too, to try and make up for my

Priest: "Yes, very good.  I must say, I am a little surprised at you for
running away from the guardsmen of Swamp Keep like that.  They were assigned
to uphold the law, and you prevented them from doing so.  That was not a
good thing you did; but, I suppose you were caught up in all the action, and
simply followed after your friends."

Navero: "Uh...  yes, father.  I'm afraid I did not act out of obedience to
the Lords.  I went contrary to their desires.  And at the gate, I lied about
how much money I had to deceive the officials!  And I lied to get in this
time, and told them my name was Fred!  And..."

Priest: "Yes, yes, I understand, my son. You see how one transgression leads
inevitably to others?"

Navero: "Yes, father."

Priest: "Yes.  Your sins seem minor, caused entirely by your stressed
state.  It is quite possible that your unwashed companions may also have had
something to do with it...  The money you did not pay the entrance tax on -
did you use it for some greedy purpose, buying of material goods?"

Navero: "No, your grace!  I mean, father!  I donated it to the Order."

Priest: "Well, then!  Nothing selfish or sinful was done with it; although
your actions were dubious, your intentions were good, and I have no doubt
that the Lords have forgiven you.  How much?"

Navero: "[Some amount of gp's, in the thousands]"

Priest: "No, no doubt at all!  Now young man, about your penance.  Have you
made any effort to bring any of your companions into the fold?"

Navero: "No..."

Priest: "Well, it strikes me that their attitude towards you is one of the
major threats to your standing in the faith.  They are worldly, and skilled
in their way of life, and this can no doubt affects how you relate to them.
I see they have convinced you to wear arms.  How much more have they
convinced you to do and think?  This cannot continue, acolyte.  WE are
supposed to spread the truth and light of the Unalterable Way throughout the
world; WE are to appeal to OTHERS to give up their corrupt ways; we must not
be turned from our path, or distracted by worldly influences or cares.  We
are a mote of light in a very great darkness.  You are a fragment of that
light, sent out alone, but you must not allow the darkness to have its way
with you.  Everything would be lost."

Navero: "Yes, father.  I have failed in so many ways."

Priest: "Now, why are you all armed?  Our message is peaceful."

Navero: "Everyone insisted strenuously that I get armor and a shield and a
helmet after I was killed by a dragon."

Priest: "The resurrection was performed outside of the faith?"

Navero: "Yes, both of them were."

Priest: "Both....  hm.  Well, perhaps then wearing armor would be a good
idea for you.  We each must adapt to our own, er... limitations.  But this
dying business; I do hope you don't intend to make a habit out of it."

Navero: "No!  I didn't want to any of those times!  Death hurts, and may
displease the Lords too!  It just...  it just... I mean it just...
happened.  These things just happen to me, I don't know why.  Do you think
the Lords are displeased?"

Priest: "It could very well be, but I do not think so.  I met Master Luminot
once, the head of your cloister, and he mentioned you, I believe.  He said
something about 'misfortune follows the child everywhere.  He is not
especially clumsy, but many accidents I would not have thought possible seem
to happen to him.' This was a few years ago, of course.  Talking to you, I
can begin to see what Luminot meant.  But enough of that for now; it is
nearly time for the sunset prayers.  Will you join me in the garden?"

Navero: "Yes, father.  Thank you for your instruction.  I'll try to do

	Meanwhile, back in the low town, a few other party members found
	themselves drinking in the same tavern.  Kory had lined up a job for
	the night as the entertainment.

Dania: (Sitting at a table staring dreamily into space.)

Razuli: "Dania! My, you're looking spacy.  I'll have what she's having!"

Kory: (Joins them) "Ah, my adoring public.  They just can't get enough of me."

Razuli: "That stein didn't hit you THAT hard, did it?"

Dania: (giggles)

Kory & Razuli: (Stare)

Dania: "Actually, it was kinda nice."

Razuli: "Cancel that order!  I don't want any!"

Kory: "Dania, are you all right, little magic-userish person?"

Dania: "Oh, great, fine...  just fine..." (Resumes staring)

Razuli: (Looks Kory in the eye) "What's wrong with her?"

Kory: "You got me.  Dania!  You're... relaxed!  casual!  mellow!  Did
someone cut out your ovaries, or did you just finally realize that you're
madly in love with me?"

Dania: "Sure.  Right.  Yea.  Fine."

Razuli: "I don't like the looks of this.  Better get her to a cleric."

Dania: (Starts giggling again)

Kory: "Did you have a wet dream about Navero, perchance?"

Razuli: "C'mon!"

Kory: "Ok, did you have a wet dream about Razuli?"

Dania: (Breaks out into howls of laughter.)

Kory: (Looks Razuli in the eye)

Dania: "You guys are funny..." (resumes laughing)

Razuli: "You're right.  Something is very very wrong here.  Hey, little
elf-bitch!  Kory got into your pack and stole all your underwear!  He nailed
it to the message post in the square!"

Dania: "Aw, c'mon!  I don't wear underwear!"

Kory: "She'd never admit that if she were normal."

Razuli: "Who says she's normal?"

Kory: "Good point.  Is she drunk?"

Razuli: "I know drunk DAMN well, and that ain't it."

Dania: (still giggling faintly)

Kory: "SO...  It appeareth to me that we got us a little challenge here."

Dania: "Don't strain yourselves, guys.  I gotta get going.  I found a nice
place to spend the night.  Bye now." (Gives a sultry wink over her shoulder
as she slinks out the door.)

Razuli: "Oh, so that's it...  Bard, have you heard of the Priests of
Gothard?  I almost became one myself, once."

Daniel Parsons
                 "Of course, there is the SLIGHT chance of pregnancy."
                         "No!  C'mon, Jeff!  Lemme have a little fun!"

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