Chapter 51

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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

Back at the temple (as was related to us by the DM), our old friend
Tall, Dark, and Excessively Gruesome was not happy to come back, with
his friends, and find that we had escaped.  He found the High Priest
(who had fled to a nearby city and tried to disguise himself as a live
bait salesman) and made a few gentle inquiries.

(Space and time scream, and Dania's old master appears in a noisome
cloud of obscene vapors in the lobby of a dentist's office.)

Dentist: "Mabel, is that Mrs. Gimblefuster for her appointment?"

Mabel: (Cannot answer, as her eyeballs have been driven through the
     back of her skull.)

High Priest: (Looks up from ancient copy of 'Better Keeps and Castles'
     in surprise.)

Wizard-Thing: "Onimon.  You disappoint me."

High Priest: "Oh no, your Lordship!  It's not what you think!  I can
     explain everything!"

Wizard-Thing: (Frowns.  The dentist explodes in glorious technicolor,
     and the pitiful remains of his mortal form thud to the floor in a
     puddle of his own innards.) "I do not want an explanation.  Your
     incompetence was obvious from the beginning, even to what you
     call your God.  Do you think abandoning your temple will endear
     you in his rotting eyes?"

High Priest: "But the little blonde one hit me with a lightning bolt."

Wizard-Thing: "Why you were chosen to head even a small temple, I have
     no idea.  I have scanned the area around the temple, and there is
     no sign of their minds.  Either they have powerful magic to
     teleport themselves away, or they are all comatose.  Either way,
     the trail is cold and I will have to explain to my associates
     that there will be no party.  Is there any reason I should not
     wipe you clean from the face of this planet, to the great relief
     of your God?"

High Priest: (Thinks.) "I... I... I can get you a deal on some fresh

Wizard-Thing: (Does a slow burn Jeremy Irons would kill for.) "Worms?"

High Priest: "I also have a fine selection of Nightcrawlers, suitable
     for the best free-river fishing." (Takes little red worms out of
     sealed box in pocket.  They wiggle.) "See?  Aren't they cute?"

     What followed is best left to the reader's imagination.  The net
result was the loss of one High Priest, a considerable fraction of the
city's business district, and many peoples lives.  Later, it was noted
that that patch of ground produced the finest fishing worms ever seen
in that part of the world, though no one knows exactly why.
     Meanwhile, the party had fled to the barn.  Everyone was badly
hurt and very tired, so a watch never did get set.  If a mysterious
wave of psychic energy washed over the land, we did not notice.  But
then, a plaid dragon wearing jeweled jockey shorts could have landed
on the barn and farted 'The Hallelujah Chorus' and we wouldn't have
noticed.  It had been a tough day.

Kory: "Moan...."

Dania: "... Kory, do you have to be so damned loud?"

Navero: "Is it morning?"

Topash: "Yes... I think so."

Navero: "Which morning is it?"

Topash: "Why are you asking me?"

Kortul: (Slowly gets up, walks across the room, gets Dania's staff,
     and walks back.)

Topash: (Watches Kortul tie the staff to the side of his backpack, and
     nods approvingly.)

Navero: (Looks out window.) "Isn't the temple east of here?"

Kory: "Uh... yeah."

Navero: "Then it's not morning."

Dania: "Thas' good.  Time to get some sleep.  Shut up, everbody."

Serga: (Yawns cavernously.) "Good morning..."

Topash: (Waves three fingers.) "Good night."

Serga: "Isn't morning when you wake up?"

Topash: "Only if the sun rises in the west."

Navero: "Do you think they'll come after us soon?"

Kory: "Do I care?"

Navero: "We destroyed their temple.  I think they'll be mad."

Topash: (Sigh.) "Friends, I do believe Navero has a point.  And not
     only will the clerics be after us, but also our dear Dania's
     former teacher, and all of his friends."

Dania: (Suddenly wakes up.) "Oh, shit."

Kory: "Go outside first, please."

Dania: "Kory, shut up.  We've got to get out of here."

Serga: "Where are we going?"

Dania: "Anyplace that's not near that temple."

Kory: (Whines.) "Dania, if Gruesome wanted to find us, he would have
     used his magic already.  Now, I was having a nice coma which
     you've rudely interrupted..."

Dania: "Where's my staff?"

Topash: "I haven't the foggiest idea."

Dania: (Looks around.) "Where the fuck is my staff?!?"

Kory: "Maybe we all got lucky and you dropped it on the way here."

Navero: "Serga, could you please wake Lao up?"

Serga: "Sure." Ambles over to Lao's prostrate form and looks in his
     face. "Wakey, wakey."

Lao Tsu: (Opens his eyes and looks Serga straight in the face.)
     "Ahhh!" (Slams his fist into Serga's helmet.)

Serga: "Ow."

Lao Tsu: "Vely solly.  A thousand paldons and a sholt shalp cly of
     pain wirr be folthcoming to youl honolabre ugriness."

Serga: (Adjusts hinge on face plate.) "It's ok."

Kortul: (Puts backpack on and nestles it safely on his back.)

Topash: "Speaking of cries of pain, Navero, you and I ought to see to
     some of our parties wounds."

Navero: "Yes.  It will make travel much safer."

Dania: "Hey!  Kortul!  What the fuck is my staff doing in your pack?"

Kortul: "It's safe here."

Dania: "Give it back!  It's mine!"

Kortul: "And I'm safe with it here."

Kory: (Laughs!) "Oh, why didn't I think of this before!"

Navero: "Uh..."

Topash: "Never mind, Navero.  Let them sort it out."

Navero: "But that's stealing!"

Topash: "No, no, no.  Kortul has not stolen Dania's staff, he's just
     putting it someplace where she can't use it."

Dania: "Kortul, give me that staff.  NOW."

Kortul: (Glares.) "You ordering me, bitch?"

Serga: "Maybe you should.  You can't use it."

Kory: "Hey, you haven't been on the wrong end of that thing yet!  And
     please note that I have said 'yet'.  I, for one, am perfectly
     content with that staff remaining right where it is."

Dania: "Who cares what you think!?  That is my staff.  I am the only
     one who can use it, and you all would be DEAD several times over
     if it wasn't for me!  Now give it!"

Topash: (Is healing one of Kory's electrical burns.) "Dania... how
     shall I say this?  The rest of us can grasp Kortul's motivations
     only too well."

Kory: "The rest of us wholeheartedly approve of them only too well!"

Dania: "I saved your druidic ASS with my magic!  And that staff is the
     best weapon we've got!  If you don't give it back, I'm leaving
     you all to die, and I'm not leaving without it!"

Kory: "Dania, don't tempt us!"

Lao Tsu: "Pelhaps this dishonolabe one courd suggest an artelnative?"

Dania: (Ignores Lao.) "Either you give me my staff, or I'll..."

Navero: "Kortul, if Dania promises to be more careful, will you give
     her staff back?"

Kortul: "Not good enough."

Topash: "Dania.  You may have noticed that there has been a quiet
     ground swell of opinion that some of the destructive aspects of
     your magic could be more carefully directed.  In particular, your
     use of your staff."

Dania: "How the hell am I supposed to 'carefully direct' the fucking
     thing when you idiots all are constantly in my way?!?"

Topash: "Dania.  Would you like to take the point, then?"

Dania: (Glares at Topash.) "One of the fighters takes the point.  You
     know that.  I can't wear heavy armor."

Serga: (To Lao) "What were you thinking of?"

Lao Tsu: "Once, a gleat mastel, wise and firred with right, found two
     men alguing ovel a pot.  One said, the pot is mine, and the othel
     said, the pot is mine.  The mastel put the pot on his head, and
     praced his sandars on top, then dove to the glound and randed on
     his head.  The pot was smashed, and the men wele enrightened."

Serga: (Thinks.  For a long time.)

Lao Tsu: (Smiles enigmatically.)

Navero: "Dania, it is true that Kory and the others have... um...
     suffered greatly at your unintentional... uh... your poorly aimed
     attempts to strike our enemies.  Will you promise to be more
     careful in the future?"

Dania: "Fine.  As long as they stay out of the way, it's fine."

Kory: "So... you want us between you and them when they're shooting,
     and then magically disappear when you get yourself ready?"

Topash: (Sighs...)

Serga: "Why were the men enlightened?"

Lao Tsu: "Such was the mastel's enrightenment."

Serga: "Why did he put his sandals on top of the pot?"

Lao Tsu: "To show them they wele thinking upside-down."

Serga: "Why didn't the master hurt his head?"

Lao Tsu: "You ask many questions fol one so rarge and stupid."

Serga: (Frowns.) "I was just asking."

Lao Tsu: "And why am I terring?  Enrightenment is not fol asking,
     haily one!  Cease botheling me!"

Serga: (Brings left fist down on top of Lao's head.)

Lao Tsu: (Wobbles.) "Folgive me, honolabre one.  This one did not
     learize he was in the plesence of a tlue mastel.  Pliest, have
     you any of your hearing magic left?"

Navero: "Huh?  I don't have any spells for hearing."

Lao Tsu: "Pelhaps something for a headache."

Kory: "Hey, I got a solution to this.  We're all part of one party,

Everybody paying attention: "Right."

Kory: "And members of a party have to work together, right?"

Dania: "And don't take each other's weapons because they might have
     made a few mistakes, right?"

Kory: "No, when they have to take each other's weapons away... they
     vote on it!  How many in favor of giving Dania's staff back,
     raise your right hand!"

(Dania raises her hand.  Navero puts his up, then down, then up, then

Dania: "Nav!"

Navero: "Well, I, uh..."

Kory: "All opposed?"

(Kory, Topash, Kortul, and Lao put up their hands.  Serga blinks and
looks confused.)

Kory: "The motion is carried by a majority vote, with one abstention
     and one repeated Hitler salute.  Dania, shut up.  Kortul, keep
     that thing someplace very safe until further notice."

Kortul: "*grunt*"

Topash: (Smiles.)

Dania: "That's not fair!"

Topash: "Dania, if needs be, we will return it.  But only if the field
     is clear for you to use it.  And besides, there is another very
     important point we're all forgetting?"

Dania: "What?!"

Topash: "Does anyone have any idea where the Orb of Spheres is?"


Dania: "We can't go back in there.  My old master may be there."

Kory: "And I don't think the Orb of Spheres was there."

Topash: "Why not?"

Kory: "Those priests couldn't have had it.  They weren't that tough."

Navero: "That is true.  They abandoned their temple rather than defend
     it.  I'm sure their foul god was very displeased with them."

Topash: "That's true, even if they would abandon their temple, they
     would not abandon such an item.  So, it seems increasingly likely
     that it was never there at all...  Perhaps we should go back to
     Lorrin's house for a long chat?"

Daniel Parsons                        "Never there in the first place?                  You think ol' Raz might have been
                                              right once in his life?"

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