Chapter 47

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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
          Lao Tsu, male human monk, 3rd level

     Lao Tsu seemed a decent enough chap.  He didn't mind walking with
Kory, and even accepted that he always kept a little bit behind him
with his blade drawn.  This was a dangerous place, after all, and we
all had to be prepared for any danger.  He never seemed anxious about
having a weapon for himself, though, which was a bit odd.
     There was nothing else in the altar room of any great interest or
use to us.  Stepping around the traps outside, we exited and went back
to the octagonal room with the frescoes.  The only entrance we had not
gone through was the western one, so we decided to take that one.  The
chanting upstairs had continued unabated.

Kory: "Those people just don't know when to let up, do they?"

Lao Tsu: "Have they been thele vely rong?"

Dania: "About an hour.  We heard them walking past when we first got
     out of our cell."

Serga: "What did he say?"

Navero: "He asked us if they had been there a long time.  This must be
     an important ceremony for it to go on so long."

Lao Tsu: "You considel an houl a rong meditation?  How vely

Navero: "They're not meditating.  They're having a ceremony."

Lao Tsu: (Frowns in confusion.) "What is the diffelence?"

Navero: "A ceremony is an attempt to contact the god you worship, to
     request a great favor of them.  A meditation is a conversation
     with the gods and their agents, to seek enlightenment and truth."

Lao Tsu: "Again, what is the diffelence?"

Topash: (Laughs) "I'm afraid this conversation isn't getting us any
     further.  We have only one entrance we haven't explored.  Shall
     we try it?"

Kory: "Certainly!  After you."

Topash: "No, after you."

Kory: "No, no, no!  I must insist!  After you."

Dania: "Kortul?"

Kortul: (Leaning against wall.) "What?"

Dania: "Aren't you gonna lead the way?"

Kortul: (Spits on floor) "Let someone else walk into trap."

Navero: "It looks like there's a door down there."

Dania: "Great.  Kory, go pick it."

Kory: "Oh, Ma, why do I always have to go?"

Serga: "She's your mother?"

Topash: "No.  Kory is being difficult.  Why don't we check the hall
     for any tripwires and things, and then go?"

Serga: "I think they use pressure plates here."

Kory: "And pressure plates suck."

Navero: "How does a plate suck?"

Serga: "I think he means he doesn't like it."

Kory: (Sigh.) "Awright, awright.  Let's go look.  Hmmm... Don't see
     anything here.  Dania, you can go in first."

Lao Tsu: "Excuse me, prease.  This unwolthy one --"

Kory: "Ah, an honest self-appraisal."

Lao Tsu: "This one has noticed something that may hindel oul coulse.
     Thele is a smarl alea in flont of the dool which may be one of
     the prates that has been mentioned in this one's plesence."

Kory: (Looks again.) "Oh, that's just a welcome mat." (Glares at Lao.)
     "Are you sure you don't know how to pick locks?"

Lao Tsu: "This unworthy one does not have such knowredge."

Serga: "Are you sure?"

Lao Tsu: "Yes, o rarge and haily one.  But in a lecent incarnation on
     this prane of existence, I was honoled to be the gualdian of a
     parace, and I have callied the caution of the ways of my ferrow
     men with me into this rife."

Serga: "Uh... ok."

     The door was unlocked, so we stepped over the pressure plate and
into the corridor.  We almost immediately found ourselves at a four-
way intersection, with some faint light coming from the left.  We
elected to follow it.
     The corridor went about 50 feet before opening out into a large
room with torches burning in wall brackets.  To the right, the walls
of the room were broken up by many small niches or alcoves, each with
a candle holder on the wall and a small stand for a book.  There were
more murals on the walls, also defaced, but these depicted scholarly
scenes and quiet contemplation.  The other half of the room had a
small shrine, but its altar was smashed into rubble.  There was
another entrance on the opposite wall.
     Aside from some of the graffiti, we found nothing of interest in
the room.  Navero did have a look at the altar, and noted that it did
not look like it had been simply smashed; it was more as though the
stone was weakened by acidic secretions, then broken up.

Topash: "The only things I know of that can dissolve stone like that
     is Giant Slug saliva.  I would hate to think we might meet one of

Dania: (Laughs.) "Anybody bring 300 pounds of salt?"

Navero: "When we had to repair a wall inside the monastery, we
     dissolved the mortar with an extract from Piercers.  Would that
     work on rock too?"

Topash: "Perhaps, though much more slowly."

     After poking around a bit, we went through the other entrance.
The corridor went straight and then turned right, and there was light
coming from around the corner.  Carefully, we crept up to the corner
and peeked around.  The corridor went straight for about thirty feet
before opening into a room, with some candles burning inside.  There
was also a branch to the left about ten feet down, with a small,
intact altar smack in the middle of the entrance.

Topash: "An undisturbed altar.  How curious."

Navero: "There must be something special about it."

Dania: "Probably.  Nav, lets go look at it."

Navero: "Okay.  It feels all right, though."

Kortul: "Hmph." (Stomps up to altar behind Navero and Dania.)

     The altar was small, very humble looking, and obviously belonged
to the same faith as all the others, but was undamaged and unmolested.
Beyond the altar, there was a massive pile of human bones.  They were
mostly complete skeletons, wearing shreds of clerical vestments in
various stages of decay.

Navero: "Oh, look.  There must be catacombs beyond this, and the altar
     is for praying for the dead.  They must have all woken up when
     Duke Desmod was calling up the dead with the Bloodstone."

Dania: "Yep.  Bet that would scare all the newcomers away."

Kory: (Walks up.) "Yeesh!  Guess they couldn't get past the altar."

Navero: "Um... maybe they stayed here to guard it.  These all look
     like higher level priests."

Kortul: (Walks on to the candle-lit room.)

Serga: "They all look like they're not going anywhere now."

Dania: "Probably not.  Figure they've got anything on them?"

Navero: "I think it would be best not to disturb them."

Lao Tsu: "Why evel not?"

Navero: "They might take offense."

Lao Tsu: (Laughs) "But they ale dead."

Kory: "Oh, dear... Dania, do you remember what happened the last time
     you decided to plunder dead priests?"

Dania: "Well, we know these ones aren't going anywhere; the Bloodstone
     is gone."

Navero: "Uh, we don't know if that's true..."

Kory: "Well, I for one hope it is.  But if it isn't, let's just leave
     this nice little altar right here.  Has it occurred to anyone but
     me that we haven't even looked down there?"

Kortul: "Bunch of books."

Dania: "Books?  Where?"

Kortul: "There.  Books on shelves."

Kory: "Well, duh."

     The small room at the end of the hall was a library.  There were
three tables, one with three thick candles on it, and some mostly-
empty shelves along the walls.  A book lay open on the table near the

Dania: (Looks at candle.) "Somebody was in here.  Wonder where they
     went; there aren't any other entrances."

Kory: "Oh, Dania.  Through the secret door behind one of the shelves.
     Am I the only one who knows what's going on here?"

Navero: "It's a book on herbary."

Topash: "All these shelves are standing free of the walls.  We'll have
     to look for your secret entrance elsewhere."

Kory: "Look, it's got to be in here.  No one puts a library right next
     to the catacombs unless there's a reason!"

Navero: "Oh, the library is here because years ago, it was decided
     that as the repository of the wisdom of the elders of the temple,
     it belongs under their protection and guidance.  It also helps
     those who use the library to understand the futility of temporal
     knowledge in the face of --"

Dania: "Yeah, all right.  Where'd the guy who was here go?"

Kortul: "No one here now."

Kory: (Looking behind shelves.) "Wait, I... no, that's not a secret
     door." (Keeps scuffling about.) "Geez, don't they ever dust in

Topash: "If there's dust, he couldn't have left that way.  Navero,
     what's in the book?"

Navero: "It looks like an alchemy book.  Uses of plant and animal

Serga: "Hey, is there anything on the pasty stuff in there?"

Navero: "Uh... maybe.  Let me look."

Topash: "Here's hoping they believe in tables of contents.  Why doesn't
     everyone else look over the rest of these books?"

     Everyone who could read started pawing through the bookshelves.
Surprisingly, this included Serga.

Dania: "Hey, you can read?"

Serga: "Sure.  My mom taught me."

Kortul: "Hmph." (Stands guard at door.)

Topash: "I'm surprised your mother could know."

Serga: "Well, she wasn't my real mom.  She's an elf who took me in and
     raised me."

Dania: "Oh, yeah.  Woman with guts."

Serga: "I guess so.  What does 'supererogatory' mean?"

Lao Tsu: (Walks up to Navero) "Oh most honolabre one, this unwolthy
     one racks undelstanding.  You said the dead pliests would take
     offense if you wele to 'distulb' them."

Navero: "Yes.  It is a very, um, unworthy and dishonorable act."

Lao Tsu: "But how is that this can be so?  These ones ale dead."

Navero: "Offending the dead is a very great evil.  That is why we
     sought to destroy Duke Desmod, a man who had an evil artifact
     which gave the dead an awful semblance of life, so that he could
     make them his slaves."

Lao Tsu: "How vely intelesting.  In the tempre I am flom, this is not
     consideled such a dishonolabre act."

Navero: (Stiffens) "It isn't?"

Lao Tsu: (Smiles) "This one was once greatry honoled, by praying the
     sunlise gleeting on a frute made flom the shin bone of the gleat
     mastel Rii Dun Hawa.  The ecstasy of the expelience lings thlough
     my sour stirl.  The high mastels eat flom bowrs made flom the
     skurls of those who selved befole them, and they wirl selve those
     who come aftel them, fol arl time.  Selvice to the tempre is an
     evelrasting joy.  Why do you shut youl pliests away in the ealth,
     whele they ale kept apalt flom youl joy?"

Navero: (Looks vaguely horrified.) "Uh... skull bowls?"

Lao Tsu: (Smiles and nods.) "In this way, they are stirl part of the
     rife of the tempre."

Navero: "Why don't you use pottery bowls?"

Lao Tsu: "They ale used as werl."

Navero: "Um... well... we... keep our dead in one place, and leave
     them there.  They aren't alive anymore, so they aren't really
     part of the, um, life of the temple."

Lao Tsu: "Oh so?"

Navero: "Yes.  They have a new life, um, elsewhere, but we can call
     them back to the temple from that life if we must."

Lao Tsu: "Oh, so you think they ale stirl arive?"

Navero: "In a sense."

Lao Tsu: (Chuckles) "I do hope they nevel get up and chide us fol
     warking past so noisiry.  It must have distulbed theil nap."

Kory: "Hey, lookie here!  'On the preparation of a general salve for
     the repelling of puddings, slimes, and jellies.'  And this little
     drawing here looks like our vial!"

Dania: "Hmmm... yeah, this looks like it."

Kory: "God, I'm so amazing I could kiss myself."

Topash: "On the lips?"

Kory: "Sure!" (Bites down on lips and rubs them together.) "Mm-mm-mm-
     mm-mm!  Now that takes dexterity!"

Dania: "Sheesh.  Fine.  It says it's a topical ointment.  That means
     you spread it on and it repels slime.  Kortul, rub some one and
     see if Kory runs away."

Kortul: (Almost, but not quite, smiles.)

Daniel Parsons                                    "We're slime-proof!"         "With one vial?  Don't get your hopes up."

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