Chapter 46

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          Navero, male human cleric, 5th level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 5th level
          Kory, male elf bard, 4th level
          Topash, male elf druid, 4th level
          Serga, male half-ogre fighter, 3rd level

The corridor outside the little prison block ran straight left-to-
right; using our foolproof decision maker (a flipped copper piece) we
decided to go left, with Kortul in the lead and Kory right behind him.
Topash, Navero and Dania came next, with Serga bringing up the rear.
The corridor was the same packed earth construction, but ran as
straight as though it were ruled stone.  Torches spaced along the
walls provided dim illumination, so we didn't bother with a lantern.
     About 60 feet down, the corridor opened out into a room.  We
heard nothing as we approached, so we cautiously looked in.

Kortul: "Hmmm."

Kory: "This looks like a barracks room."

Dania: "Anybody in there?"

Kory: "Nope, all the beds are empty.  Let's check it out."

     The room was very large, 80 or 90 feet long, and 40 feet wide.
Most of the great room was empty.  Three small fire pits were spaced
evenly along the floor, and around these were 20 narrow beds.  We
searched the room thoroughly but quickly; there wasn't much there.
Some of the cots had bags or boxes underneath them, with little books
or small amounts of money, or random personal effects of little value.

Topash: "This must be where all the low level priests live."

Navero: "And it must be time for prayers.  I wonder what time it is?"

Dania: "Why?"

Navero: "Well, maybe we could figure out what order they're from."

Topash: "I don't think it's in any way important, Navero.  Has anyone
     found anything?"

Serga: "I found another one of those little jars of yellow stuff in
     the corner."

Dania: "Is it labeled?"

Serga: "Uh..." (looks at vial) "I don't think so."

Topash: "Well, wrap it in something and put it away for now.  Is there
     anything else in here?"

Kory: "45 gp in loose change, (breaks into song) 7 little prayer
     books, 6 nasty scourges, 5 animal skulls... 4 jars of bactine, 3
     decks of cards, 2 porno novels, and a gem stuffed in a mattress!"

Dania: "Bactine?"

Kory: "Well, okay, Belladonna.  But it didn't fit the meter."

Dania: "Never mind. *grumble* Gimme the gem.  Hmm, garnet.  Not that

Kory: "Probably all that poor sucker had in the world.  What a
     horrible sin that we're looting all their stuff, eh, Nav?"

Navero: "Well, what we really should be doing is trying to turn them
     away from their dark beliefs and find the light of truth and
     goodness.  (looks at one of the scourges, a nasty little barbed
     thing)  I think many of those here need help finding a better way
     to live.  Taking their money may help them to start over again
     afresh, but only if we don't kill them first."

Topash: "Ah, so looting the temple will actually help them."

Navero: "Destroying the temple would be a good thing.  It is a source
     of evil and death, and can only be a blight on the countryside."

Topash: "And profiting from it certainly wouldn't be a sin.  *sigh*
     Why is it that all organized religions always wind up doing the
     same thing?"

Navero: "No they don't.  This religion is evil.  Our purpose and
     theirs are opposites."

Topash: "Never mind.  I think we're finished here.  Let's move on."

     There were no other entrances, so we walked back up the corridor
we come in from.  About 70 feet past the prison cells, the corridor
branched left and right. To the left, it went about 40 feet and opened
into a small room.  To the right, it went about the same distance and
opened into three rooms.  We decided to go left.
     The room was small and octagonal, with doors on the left and
right.  There was another entrance on the opposite side.  Frescoes
covered all the walls, depicting martial gods and heroic battlefields,
and many golden-haired warriors in really studly poses.  Most of them
had been defaced, crudely and often rudely, and many of the deities
had their faces scratched out, except for a dark, ugly one in one

Kory: "Okay, three entrances.  I vote we go left."

Dania: "We'd better go right.  Someone listen."

Kory: "Hey!  Dania, you have been a very unpleasant person for this
     whole misbegotten expedition, and I'm really getting fed up with
     it.  Here I am, trying to be nice to you for once, and all you do
     is bitch and criticize.  Well, fine.  Next time, no more Mr. Nice

Dania: "Oh, I'm so *scared*..."

Navero: "Do any of you recognize any of the paintings?"

Topash: "They were probably set up by the former residents, and
     defaced by the present ones."

Kortul: (Listening at right door.) "Hear something."

Dania: "What?"

Kortul: "Can't tell."

Kory: "Let me see... or hear, as the case may be... I can't tell
     either.  Sounds like drums."

Topash: "That's probably the way we go to find the main temple."

Navero: "We should go there to make sure they're not doing anything

Kory: "I agree.  Once we take care of them, we can explore the rest of
     this place in peace."

Topash: "And hopefully not in pieces."

Kory: "Nah.  Priests can't use edged weapons."

Serga: "What about the whips?"

Navero: "I don't think those count."

Dania: "Never mind.  Let's go check it out.  Bard open the door."

Kory: "Why me?"

Topash: "I think you're the only one who knows how to pick locks."

Kory: "Oh, yeah.  Damn it." (Starts picking lock.)

Navero: "Is the door locked?"

Kory: (blinks) "Of course it is!  I wouldn't try to pick an unlocked
     door.  Hey look at that, I got this thing open in no time!"

Dania: "Brilliant, bard.  Anything through there?"

Kory: "Nope, I think it's stuck.  Dania, will you volunteer as a
     battering ram?  We need someone with a thick skull, and I can't
     lift either of the fighters."

Dania: "Just open the fucking door."

     The door opened onto a corridor heading straight to another door.
There corridor also branched to the right by the other door.  The
sounds we'd heard earlier were louder, but still indistinct.  Quietly,
we all crept up the corridor to the door, glancing right as we did so.
The side hall was empty, stretching off into darkness.

Kortul: (listens at door) "Drums."

Topash: "They must be having a ceremony."

Dania: "Is there another one of those ring slots beside the door?"

Kory: "Nope.  Somebody go check out the side hall."

Navero: "I'll go!" (grabs torch from wall, starts down side hall.)

Kory: "Wait, whoa, hold it, cease, desist, halt, stop.  Who's going
     with you?"

Navero: "Oh, yeah... Um..."

Serga: "I'll protect you, priest-friend."

Kory: "Oh, that'll be just fine.  You two go have fun now."

Kortul: "Smells."

Topash: "Yes, I'd noticed that.  Something on the other side of that
     door it producing a very unhealthy odor.  I hope it isn't more of
     that slime."

Kortul: (shakes head) "Remember slime thing from castle?"

Topash: "Where?"

Kory: "Oh, that thing.  Remember the castle Duke Dipshit sent us to?
     The room that had the brandy keg?  There was a Black Pudding in
     there, that got Kortul."

Topash: "Oh, yes.  Those, as I recall, are dangerous."

Dania: "No shit.  I don't think we can handle too many of those."

Topash: (sigh.) "I fear we will have to eventually.  Ah, here comes
     Navero and Serga.  What did you find?"

Navero: "Two small rooms.  One of them had lots of green robes hanging
     on the walls, and the other had a lot of chairs.  It looked like
     a room for guests to sit in."

Topash: "Ah, a most hospitable temple of slimy evil.  But you know,
     something occurs to me.  These people must have some way to
     control all their slimes and puddings and jellies.  Has anyone
     tried looking at the vials of paste we found?"

Dania: "Nope.  It'd take to long to try to identify them, and I'm not
     using an untested potion."

Kory: "Even if it said 'Birth control'?"

Topash: "Kory.  Let's go back into the rest of the temple and try to
     find someone who can explain how to use the unguent.  And Kortul,
     we really do need to have him alive this time."

Kortul: (glowers.) "Alive."

     We went back to the octagonal room, and opened the other door.
Beyond it was a long corridor, more brightly lit than usual.  But the
instant we stepped through the door a horrible screaming filled the
corridor.  We retreated, and the shrieking cut off as though someone
had hit a switch.

Kory: "Ah, a trapped hallway.  I wonder how many priests are bearing
     down on us?"

Topash: "If they're all at the ceremony, and it's as loud as we think,
     they may not have heard."

     We watched at the other door for a while, just to be sure; no one
came in.  Finally satisfied, we began to discuss how to get through
the hall.

Kortul: "Noisemaker.  Not important."

Topash: "True.  But if it keeps up, someone will hear.  Now, how can
     we get through the door without it screaming?"

Navero: "It probably recognizes that we're not of the faith.  Like the
     ring Kortul found."

Kory: "I'm not joining their religion just yet."

Dania: "So we fake it.  Nav, what were those robes you found up there

Navero: "They were green and yellow and long and had many symbols of
     death and pain on them."

Dania: "Let's go get some and try them on."

     The robes were just as Navero had described them; lime green and
cat-vomit yellow, with strange and disturbing symbols on the sleeves
and backs.  They were all about the same size (medium human) so not
everyone fit into one very well; Dania was swimming in hers, and they
had to cut up three of them to kind of drape over Serga.  But after a
while, everyone was mostly satisfied, and we trooped back down to the
screaming door.
     The door did not scream when we stepped through it.  Happy to
have solved that little puzzle, we set off down the hallway, and
within ten feet of the entrance fell into a trap.  The floor on either
side of the corridor tipped open, dropping Kortul and Topash into two
twenty foot deep pits, separated by a two-foot thickness of floor.

Dania: "Wedge the pits!  Don't let 'em close!"

Navero: (Wedges mace head into hinge of his pit.) "Oh, I don't think
     they're closing."

Dania: "Hey, you okay down there?"

Kortul: (Groans.)

Topash: "Nothing broken.  It's just a pit, I think.  But I would
     appreciate a lift out of it."

     The pits remained hanging open, so we lowered ropes and pulled
Kortul and Topash out, bumped and bruised but not badly hurt.  We
walked over on the little bridge between the pits, then spread out and
continued down the corridor.  Ten feet further on, the floor clicked
down under Kortul and Topash's feet, and darts fired out of the walls
into their sides.  Kortul's armor deflected the darts, but Topash was
not so lucky.

Topash: (Looks at dart.  It appears to have been poisoned.) "Oh,

Dania: "You okay?"

Topash: "No, I am not.  I believe I have been poisoned."

Navero: (rummages in pack) "I think I have a potion of Neutralize
     Poison down here next to the spice rack.  Here it is!"

Topash: (Starting to sweat, but grabs the potion vial and chugs it
     down.) "AH... thank you, Navero.  I take back everything I said."

Navero: "Why?  What did you say?"

Topash: "Never mind.  I don't suppose it matters, does it?"

Kory: (Looks at Navero dubiously) "You have a spice rack in there?"

Navero: "Sure!  It's where I keep the Garlic and Wolvesbane and
     Belladonna and Oregano and Basil leaves and --"

Kory: (Gazes heavenward) "Why am I not surprised?  Just what all do
     you have in that backpack, anyway?"

Navero: "I try to bring everything we might need.  'The Lords smile
     upon those who are prepared.'"

Topash: "Yes, Navero.  Kory, would you mind taking the lead for a

Kory: "I most certainly would.  But sure, I'll do it.  At least I
     won't be walking beside Dania."

Dania: "Pleasure's mutual."

     There was a clear space between the pressure plates, so we walked
between them and spread out once again.  And ten feet further, Kory
and Kortul were engulfed in flames that blasted down from the ceiling,
and they leaped back into the rest of the party.

Kory: "OWWW!!!"

Kortul: (Grits teeth and mutters vague curses.)

Topash: "This has got to be the most trap-laden place I've ever been
     in.  There must be something important at the end of this hall."

Kory: "God, it better be!  If I... hey, wait a minute."

Dania: "What, get your brain fried?"

Kory: "No.  The flames didn't come down in the center.  And there were
     no pressure plates or pits along the center of the corridor back
     there either."

Topash: "So if we'd walked straight down the center, single-file, like
     good little priests..." (Smacks forehead.)

Kory: "God, I feel stupid.  It's just been too long since we had to
     deal with traps."

Dania: (muttering not-so-vague curses) "Hey, we've been in castles and
     out in the wilderness.  Nobody traps their own castle, at least
     not inside."

Kory: "Well, (stands smack in the center of the corridor) we better
     get with the program, magic-user.  This should be much better!"

     And, indeed, the remaining thirty feet of corridor had no further
surprises for us.  It opened out into a large, oddly shaped chamber,
which looked like a shrine.  There were defaced frescoes all over the
walls, and rows of hard wooden benches arranged around a dais on the
far wall.  On the dais was a lectern, a block with a headsman's axe
stuck in it, and a pile of rubble that might once have been an altar.
Also on the dais was a man with a shaved head and strange clothes,
tied up and gagged.

Kortul: (Draws sword.)

Dania: "Anyone recognize this guy?"

Topash: "I've never seen anyone who looks even vaguely like him in my
     life.  But he seems to be a prisoner here.  Let's ask him who he

Navero: (Takes gag off.) "Hello.  I am Navero, Priest of the Correct
     and Unalterable Way, and these are my friends."

Stranger: "Herro.  I am Lao Tsu, and I am a stlangel hele as werr.
     Terr me, who ale you pelsons?"

Navero: "Huh?"

Dania: "Great, he doesn't speak common."

Topash: "No, I think that was common... but with the strangest accent
     I have ever heard."

Serga: (scratches head.) "I didn't understand him."

Lao Tsu: "I am Lao Tsu, of the Shaorin Monastely.  I was meditating,
     when, arr of a sudden, I found that I was hele, and some men in
     green and yerrow bound me and left me hele."

Topash: "But we are wearing green and... yellow."

Lao Tsu: (smiles) "But not vely werr."

Dania: "Oh, lets just cut him loose.  Maybe he knows how to pick

Lao Tsu: "No, unfortunatery, I do not.  But maybe I can herp you in
     other ways."

Dania: "Sure, great.  Why not?"

Daniel Parsons                 "Do you think he might be dangerous?"      "Doesn't look like a spell caster.  We just
                                  won't give him any weapons for now."

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