Chapter 41

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          Navero, male human cleric, 5th level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 5th level
          Razuli, male human fighter, 5th level
          Kory, male elf bard, 4th level
          Topash, male elf druid, 4th level
          Meth, male ? thief, 3rd level

The noble adventurers took the road south-east, past several other
farms and roads.  No one was working the fields in the snow, though
several times, local kids would run out to the fence to stare at them
as they went by.  None of the kids who had attacked them, though;
apparently, they were given extra chores, to keep them out of even
more dangerous mischief.

Kory: "You know, I get the strange feeling that all these people have
     nothing better to do than stare at us as we ride by."

Topash: "These are people of the earth.  The earth is going to sleep
     now, and so naturally they have little to keep their hands and
     minds occupied.  I'm sure that those children decided to become
     bandits because they were bored."

Razuli: (Snorts) "Gawd, I know what that's like.  Let me tell ya,
     there is just nothing to do on a farm in winter.  You know
     something?  That thing that says if you ain't buried, you come
     back as a ghost?  That's so people don't murder each other while
     they're snowed in."

Navero: "But... if you are not consecrated with the gods and buried in
     blessed ground, you do come back as a haunt."

Razuli: "Yeah!  Otherwise, you'd have to go out every spring and
     figure out which families wiped themselves out while they were
     snowed in."

Navero: "But... aren't families supposed to love each other?  That's
     what a family is for."

Razuli: "Yeah, well... whatever."

Kory: "Let me guess: you're from a farm, right Raz?"

Razuli: "Not me! I grew up in a circus, and enlisted in Baron Botukis'
     mercenary corps as soon as I could reach a sword.  I ain't never
     been no farmer."

Dania: (Grins) "Gee, you sure know a lot about farms."

Razuli: "Only what any idiot could figure out, if he's burned a few of
     'em.  How long were we supposed to be going this way?"

Topash: "Two days, then west at a hill with a barn on it.  There is
     nothing to be ashamed of in coming from a farm."

Razuli: "What is this?  I ain't from no farm!  Where the hell are you
     supposed to be from, anyways?"

Kory: "I?  I was most recently from Cantabria, and before that,
     Canolbarth, home of all the elves.  Before that, I don't care to
     remember.  It must have been a dreary place."

Razuli: "Naturally.  You were in it."

Kory: "Hey!  You watch your mouth.  I am so unappreciated here.  In
     more civilized settings, I brighten any room I enter, and the
     sweet sound of my beautiful music fills everyone's hearts with
     gladness.  At least, people with taste."

Dania: "Yeah, right.  When are we getting to this place, anyway?"

Topash: "Two days."

Dania: "God.  Will you two at least shut up for two minutes?"

Meth: (Rolls some dried herbs in a long leaf and starts smoking.)

     And on they went, gradually passing out of farm county as the
afternoon slowly wore on into evening.  The trees became thicker,
until they were in the middle of a dense copse when it came time to
set up camp.  Snow slowly began to fall again, making the campfire
sputter and redden; everything was so cold and wet and miserable
nobody could even get up enough interest to start a good argument.
After a delicious meal of hardtack, dry biscuits and water, the heroic
adventurers set up watches and apathetically tried to sleep.

Topash: (On watch) "But the most enjoyable festivals are probably the
     midsummer ones, when all the flowers are blooming."

Meth: "Indeed!  I know of some wonderful flowers that grow in secluded
     places in deep woods.  Also, do you have any great objections to
     the uses of animal secretions?"

Topash: "Why no, not at all, so long as the animal is not
     unnecessarily harmed.  The consumption of life by life is part of
     the balance, and only certain religions (glances at Navero)
     believe that death is something to be conquered or tricked."

Meth: (shrugs) "My mom says she knew someone who returned from the
     dead, but he was not quite alive afterwards.  Of course, it's
     entirely possible that she had something to do with that.  I was
     never sure about my mom."

Topash: "The undead are one of the few things I can truly consider
     evil.  They are so adamantly opposed to all life, and themselves
     contribute nothing to the world.  They are an annihilation rather
     than a consumption, death without birth or growth.  I have often
     thought that the goal of immortality many religions seek, eternal
     existence rather than the endless circle, is exactly the same as
     the undead life they claim to revile."

Meth: "Yeah.  Can we talk about herbs again?"

Topash: (sigh) "We do not sell them."

Meth: "I think it would be a very valuable source of income for your
     people.  I must say, money isn't everything, but it can be very,
     very useful."

Topash: "That isn't really a source of concern to 'my people'.  While
     we are --"


Meth: (Looks around.) "That was peculiar."

Topash: "Did you recognize it?"

     The wind slowly picked up and blew through the camp, sending a
flurry of snow over the already dim fire.  Those who were sleeping or
dozing curled up even tighter under their blankets and cloaks.

Meth: "Not I.  Let's wake up Navero and tell him to dispel it."

Topash: "I am not entirely certain that that is necessary, or even
     wise.  (Nudges Kortul with his foot.) "Kortul, wake up.  We heard

Kortul: "What?"

Topash: "It sounded like a creature howling."

Kortul: "The wind." (rolls over)

Meth: "Err.... I don't think so."


Topash: "No, I don't think it is the wind.  It's not strong enough to
     make that noise.  We should go investigate."

Kortul: (Grumbles something about drug users.)

Dania: (sleepily) "Will you idiots shut up?"

Meth: "Well, excuse me, but we're supposed to listen for any strange
     noises.  I believe you are all being highly inconsiderate here.
     Would you rather, say, that we didn't mention it?  I personally
     would be perfectly happy to leave you all here and go find myself
     a much warmer place to waste my youth in."

Kortul: (Gets up, slams his helmet on, and trudges into the woods.)

Navero: (Curls up tighter in his blankets.)

Topash: "Kortul, slow down, it came more from this way."

Kortul: (Trudges in new direction with Topash.)

Razuli: "Huh?"

Meth: "Never mind, go back to sleep."

Razuli: "Ok." (rolls over)


Kortul: (Starts trudging back in a new direction, yawning.)

Dania: "Oh, fuck it." (Sits up) "What the fucking hell is going on?"

Meth: "We heard some strange noises, so Kortul and Topash are going
     out to look."

Dania: (Looks around) "Didn't they take a light with them?"

Meth: "Kortul's got his sword.  I think.  It's hard to picture them
     apart, anyways.  I think I see it over there.  No, there's more
     than one... or are you seeing that too?"

Dania: "No, they're greenish.  Kortul's sword is yellow.  They look
     more like a dancing lights spell.  Wake everybody up."

     Everyone was duly shaken awake, and groggily armed themselves as
they watched the lights.  They were barely visible in the distance
through the trees, and seemed to be moving slowly back and forth like
lanterns.  Finally, they heard tromping, and Kortul and Topash came
back to the campsite, looking very angry.

Kory: "My, you two are looking chipper.  What are the lights."

Kortul: "Corpse lights.  Set up camp 40 yards from local graveyard."

Topash: "I believe we were hearing the wind in the headstones.  And
     you know, it's appalling how many of the graves were open.  We
     nearly fell into one, which I suppose was their intent."

Dania: "Oh, great.  Just great.  Now we gotta move.  Why the fuck does
     this keep happening to us?"

Razuli: "How the fuck should I know?  Do I look like an evil nasty
     undead detector?  Speaking of which, hey Navero!  Why the hell
     didn't you tell us there was a graveyard over there?"

Navero: "Well... I didn't know, I guess.  It didn't feel bad.  There
     wasn't, um, anyone in it."

Topash: "Perhaps they're all out visiting their mummies.  Well, now
     there are some Will-o'-the-wisps in the area.  They normally do
     not confront large groups.  If we keep our fire going and stay
     together, they should not represent a threat."

Razuli: "Wonderful." (Lies down again.)

Kory: "Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Les get some sleep and try to forget about
     the stupid lights."

Dania: (Nods.) "Double the watches, though."

Kortul: "Fine."

     The Will-o'-the-wisps gave us no more trouble, though they did
come fairly close to the campsite at times.  For the most part, they
hovered just outside of the light of the fire, floating or darting
about, changing colors, or occasionally sending little electrical
sparks into one another.  We glared balefully at them, but made no
attempt to chase or otherwise molest them.  Eventually, as dawn
arrived, they disappeared, and we packed up to continue on.

Daniel Parsons           "When are we going to find something to fight                                   besides undead?"

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