The Guardian's tale, part II

From: ANDOVER@delphi.com
Date: Tue 28 May 1996 - 21:00:43 EEST


The Guardian's Death-bed Story, Part II, by Jim Chapin

"But Thanatar's geases -- they is even worse. Supposed to make you a better
worshipper -- but all they do is make it harder for you to do your job."

"It's not like the gifts is all that useful. Since I'm better at numbers than
words, you know -- that's why I've kept the books for the Cult so long -- I
spent some time in my previous life figgering out what the chances were for rune
levels of my religion to have different gifts and geases."

"It was my project -- partly because of my own geases -- which meant that I
couldn't go out in the sunlight any more. From the records and the heads I
talked to, it seems that there is 19 chances for gifts, with each gift getting a
required number of geases, and that the typical rune level guy takes only two
(skipping the Doomed One, because the geases are so bad). That means he starts
with two to six geases. There is a small chance he will get more, and a tiny
chance he will get less. At the end of the process, it seems that the range is
from 0 to 10 geases. Most geases can you can only get once, except for the
chaos feature ones -- and of course some of the bad ones there is appalling --
you can stink worse than a Yelmie or scream all the time or something equally
unuseful."

"But here is the way I worked it out -- take a thousand human Rune levels of our
religion -- not that there has been that many since the old Chaos wars, of
course -- First thing is that 94 of them has horns and 94 has pitch black skin,
and 12 of them has both -- and those is gifts, not geases! But if you got horns
or pitch black skin people does tend to notice you."

"And most of the other gifts just makes you a bit sneakier or smarter or better
with a weapon."

"If you ended up with all the geases of Thanatar, you couldn't talk, couldn't go
out of the temple light, you couldn't eat no plants nor meat from cloven-hooved
animals but ya would have to eat somethin' intelligent each meal, you couldn't
use fire, attack with a weapon or a spell, wear anything on your head and only
tarnished silver elsewhere, kill all non-Thanatari chaotic creatures and never
hurt an undead or use coins. That would make you useless for anything I'd bet."

"I remember one poor sucker -- he had two geases -- always attack chaotic
creatures and never attack undead -- the poor S.O.B. was with us when we met a
vampire. No matter what he did he was screwed -- so he attacked the vampire but
tried not to hurt it -- not much of a problem anyway -- he did make a good meal
for the creature I would bet -- couldn't say for sure since the rest of us
skedaddled. We laughed ourselves silly later, whenever we thought of old
Burdog."

 "Let me tell you, getting anything done with a party of Thanatari Rune levels
is REAL difficult! Say you is leading a party against enemies. On average more
than a fifth of Rune levels can't give orders -- they either ain't allowed ta
speak at all or around non-Thanataris -- and that don't even count the Thanatari
that ain't allowed to speak to other cult aspects. Lots of them have ta develop
some sort of hand gestures to show what they want. Then there's the ones that
can't go outside in sunlight or torchlight or any kind of light at all. Not
going out in the sunlight was one of my geases, ya know."

"A party of our rune levels would be funny if they weren't so terrible. Some is
walkin, some has no armor on they heads. Another fifth or so has obvious chaos
features. Lotsa them can't talk. Some can't ever go in the day, others in the
night, and a few suckers has to stay in the temple forever (at least that is
"safe"). Diet can be a problem, since they all have different things they can't
eat or must eat. Elves was good, since they was among the few foods that
satisfied all the geases. One advantage the Pavis temple had was being able to
catch elves easier than any other temple -- not that catchin' elves is EVER
easy!"

"But the whole point of being Thanatari was to catch prisoners, so that we could
cut off their heads or suck their minds dry. You would think that the God
wouldn't give geases that made it harder to do that."

"Given my geas, I became a "librarian." Of course a Thanatar library has not
only books, but PEOPLE waiting to be "read." The Than guys cut off their heads
and carry them around; the Atyar folks like me would suck out their minds. And
we had to have some good bodies in good condition for the guardians, like I
became later."

"I'm sorry, my dear, I know it is disgusting, but I was an ogre, and I loved
killin things in those days, and I was a good Thanatari, even though I could
only come out of the temple at night. I met my fate, ironically, in the day,
but in an underground tunnel, fighting other ogres -- cause there is things
going on down there that I can't even tell you now."

"But I was a good servant of the chopped God, so he sent me back pretty fast to
be a Guardian. The best part of comin' back as a Guardian was none of those
damn geases!"

 "I came back as a guardian to a broo, a really tough and smart Atyar acolyte,
Gorgar Four-Horn, and he was doing pretty well in the temple."

"We had a couple of good years, indeed, until my fifth year. We successfully
kidnapped high ranking members of chaos-fighting cults, Orlanth, Storm Bull,
even a Zorak Zoran troll. We even got ourself a healer just before the crash."

"I'm not quite sure myself what happened next."

"The s.o.b got hisself illuminated, and I was in mindlink with him when he did.
I can't tell exactly what happened after that -- for one thing, the illumination
got me too, sort of; for another, he seemed ta go crazy. I don't think that he
even remembers that I exist."

"And everything went wrong at once. Two days later, the top guy in our temple
died suddenly, his head lopped off by the Than boss in the temple. Normally,
the Than guy might have taken over the temple, but the Atyari and the remaining
Thanatari hated him so much that a fight broke out, while my boss was still hurt
and bit nuts. Sacred Time was heavy enough already, when our temple came under
attack by what appeared to be an anti-chaos expedition of Light Bringers,
strange as that was, given our location. Suddenly, my boss woke up and went
screaming out of the temple."

"He ran out of the temple, being pursued by the raiding party and maybe by some
on our own side, and I didn't know anything better to do than to follow him."

"I lost track of where he was, and didn't have all that much idea of where I
was. The strange thing was that I didn't particularly care about Thanatar and
killin' things any more. For all these years, I been sometimes gettin' flashes
from my old boss -- but I can't tell where he is or what he is doing -- ceptin'
that he ain't killin' no more hisself either"

"My problem was that I was in a body that belonged to someone in that
neighborhood, but I had no idea who. At least it turned out to be true that
being illuminated meant that I didn't detect chaotic, and I sure didn't feel
chaotic -- my body sure wasn't anyways."

"I figgered that the best place to be was back here, where at least I knew
something of the lay of the land, but it was a long ways away from where I was.
But I got here -- and you knows the rest. All my experience was with bad guys,
so that's why Black Fang was easy for me, but I been cautious all these years,
and that's why we've never been in real trouble."

"But here's my question -- now that I is going again -- where does I go? I
ain't worshipped the Severed God in more than three decades. Black Fang is
o.k., but he don't do nuthin' about the after life. I is illuminated, and I is
told that makes me invulnerable even to the Gods. But in that case, where does
my spirit go? I would wait for you, my dear, cause you is really the only
person that I ever loved -- as you can see, in my old life there was no love or
even interest in love -- but I got no idea of where or how ta wait for you. And
I know stuff that I don't even have the heart to tell you -- about some of the
things that lie under the skin of this earth beneath us, things within just a
few miles from here that would destroy your soul even ta look at them , and
some of the horrors of that afterlife that I didn't tell you about."

"It is strange, but I don't know no more about what is to come than you do --
and that is strange, because one would think that one would know more the second
time around. But you know, a man with one sundial knows what time it is, a man
with two isn't sure . . ."

Appended at the end: This is the story told to me by Orlsa, about her husband's
death words. It is the first independent evidence we have of both the Cacodemon
and the Thanatar temple's existence, which we have long suspected. Note also the
information about Thanatari gifts and geases, which appears to be accurate. In
future, all people with black skin should be checked -- they may NOT be Agimori!
The reference to things under the earth is suggestive also.

In a different hand: GG -interesting stuff, eh! -- I expect the usual payment
- -- X

In yet a third hand -- a mutual friend passed this back to us. It is obvious
that the woman knows nothing more. By all the evidence contained in this
report, and based on interviews with our heads and searches of temple records,
not to mention the presence of an ogre zombie among our temple guardians, this
was most likely Dharo, who died 86 years ago. Divination has not established
the present location of either Gorgar or the spirit of his one-time Guardian.
Unfortunately, some top members of Black Fang and "friendly" members of the
Lunar bureaucracy now know more of our secrets. No action possible at this
time.

The manuscript ends

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