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Rachel's Journey

Rachel spends a few weeks with the elderly couple healing from her near fatal wounds. As the days pass in a blur of anger and frustration at her failure, she still manages to somehow help the couple with a few chores, and fixing things around the house. As a parting gift, Rachel makes them a new set of pottery dishes to replace the pieces they have all chipped and broken. The couple is very pleased and welcomes her back at anytime. When she approaches the horse that brought her to this place, she feels an overwhelming sense of calm, and rightness. She knows somehow that this horse is for her, and always will be. She contemplates a name for the horse, but is as yet undecided. She mounts and heads in the direction of the road (as per the couple) and after several hours reaches a well traveled road running nw and se. You actually recognize this stretch of the road and realize that to the se is home to Landry. Not willing to return home at this point, you feel the need to visit the temple of your Goddess. Thinking back to the list you got of known temples to Callus, you realize that not only is one close by in Heron, but it's the main center of worship for Callus followers on this part of the continent. You turn you horse in that direction without any more indecision. A few days ride puts you within sight of the walls of a rather small town. Rocky terrain dotted by a few bare trees stretches to the horizon. In the distance, perched on a rocky cliff, is a crumbling stone structure surrounded by a high gray wall. Only the spires of a church rise above the wall. You continue down the road toward the temple. Two immense oak doors stand wide open, allowing you to enter. High above you looms an iron portcullis, covered with layers of rust. Upon entering the temple grounds, you see several buildings to your left, an orchard to your right, and a statue of a beautiful woman in front of you. The largest buildings are before you. To your right, is a large church, its spires straining as if to touch the overcast sky. Surrounding the church is a large almost empty graveyard. Gazing upon the statue, you realize it is a statue of Callus. You enter the temple, and are eventually brought before the head priest Anselm. You introduce yourself and are invited to stay indefinately. Resting for the evening you hear the various gossip and learn that a group recently headed out led by the famous priest "Wulfgar of Callus" and that while they were around, they solved a murder and discovered a water well with healinng properties. Thus far, you discover, no illness has been too tough to be healed by the miraculous water. Eventually after a few days you learn that this Wulfgar is the priest who helped build this temple, and that he purchased and donated the staute of Callus herself in the courtyard. Apparently, this group headed out about a week ago, with alot of anger at the priests (if you want to read the entire story click this URL)
Brother Anselm mentions at one point, his concern for the group, as they are carrying an evil tome, that they had wanted destroyed, but because of the problems in the temple, Anselm didnt feel it would be safe. Last they knew, this group was headed se You think on this, and wonder if if might not be your duty to aid a brother of Callus with this sort of problem, and as you fall asleep for the eve, you ponder everything you've learned in the past several days.

Rachel continues pondering the moment she gets up. What is the duty Callus wants her to perform? Finish her quest. But she couldn't pull it off with the help of Elrik (Callus hold his soul), so she will need help and lots of it if it's possible. Plus to get back on his trail she needs to go se anyway, she might as well help her brother in the faith and try to get them to help her on her quest. That would nicely combine! What keeps her here? Sure it's a temple to her goddess but she didn't become a follower of Callus to just sit around in some temple. She must complete her quest and do good as often as she can! She decides to make sure and goes to the statue of Callus. She kneels before it and prays to her god for over half an hour asking her to either bless the course of action she has in mind or give her some clue on what else there is she can do.

You get no response, but this is not surprising. You've heard since your visit in the temple that Callus has shown herself only in dreams of late. Prayer has not been very comforting lately since magic has been failing. Seems that healing spells still work, but all combat and most defensive spells and prayers tend to backfire with sometimes fatal results.

Since she didn't get any dreams last night, while she was quite certain what she wanted to do, she supposes Callus has no problem with it. So she packs her stuff and goes to see Anselm to tell him that she will no longer take him up on the offer of hospitality and thank him for the food and shelter she did get. With that she walks outside and whisles for her horse. When he arrives she jumps on and goes in the direction the party left to see if she can catch up.

5 days of uneventful riding finds you at the outskirts of Landry. A smallish frontier type town. You stable your horse with the usual care and tipping of the stableboy, and remove yourselves to the inn. Here, you find tantalizing scents and smells. it suddenly seems like forever since you've had a decent meal and your mouth starts to salivate like crazy. The inn is like any other inn, except for a large aquarium set against one entire wall. It contains but one colorful tropical fish, and the sign above the tank reads "Esmarelda". There were more than a dozen horses in the stable, yet there seems to be only one patron, a human male at the bar, with his head laid upon his arm, and snoring. The barkeep is kneeling over a young teenaged girl, who is crying. He seems to be comforting her. When you walk in, he says a bit gruffly, "be with you in a minute"

She asks the barman if she can help in any way. If he says it's ok she'll go over to the fish and take a good look at it and if he wants her help she walks over to him and sees what she can do.

"We've just had some problems today is all." the barkeep replies getting up andleading the girl to the bar to sit down. "Is there something I can get for you?"

"Well.. if you don't need help you can help me to a decent meal", she says, "what were the troubles? Had anything to do with a group of adventures with a evil tome?". With that she goes to sit on a table and waits for a meal.

The man mumbles something about "dont know 'bout no evil stuff. Dey's venturers alright tho." as he goes into the kitchen and brings you back a huge steaming bowl of meaty stew and a big mug of ale.

She finishes the meal and then walks over to the bar. She toshes a gold piece on the bar and says: "So what was that about those adventurers? Which way did they go? And what's with the fish?"

"The fish?" he looks at you in confusion "Oh, Esmarelda. She was a gift from a long ago patron who kept a room here. The adventurers are gone. Uh..." he looks pretty uncomfortable, before his eyes alight on the symbol of Callus on your chest. "You know, one of them had a necklace dat looked like dat pitcher der. They's somewhere else. Went into the pitcher upstairs they did. The pitcher of the old sailor"

What? They went in the picture? You mean they just stepped into the picture? How did that work?

"I dunno" the barkeep replies, adding your gold coin to a box, relocking it and placing it back out of sight. "The little kid said they went into the pitcher and gave me gold to not rent the room."

"What little kid?" She then realizes the barkeep wants something to refresh his memory and gets another goldcoin out of her pouch and holds it clearly visible up: "Look, I wanna know everything you know about this whole disappearing act and I'd like to see the room, this is very important to me!"

Taking the gold piece, he drops it in the same locked box as before and tucks it back out of sight. "They came in, went upstairs to look for another patron who had vanished. The little kid with them came back downstairs alittle while later and said they had all stepped into the picture of the sailor and he was going to follow them. He gave me money so I wouldn't rent the room out and he went back up. When I checked, the room was empty."

"Ok now if you tell me where the room is I'll go check it out. Don't worry, I don't want to rent it or something. I just want to see it." She looks at him expectenly.

Shown the room, you see The room is well furnished with solid furniture that has been bolted to the wooden floor. A large bed dominates the room with it's massive headboard and ornately carved posts. It's thick blankets have been turned back to reveal green silken sheets, Beside the bed, a small table holds an unlit taper in a small bronze candleholder. At the foot of the bed sits a massive trunk of teakwood bound in iron, with an iron lock worked in the likeness of a screaming face hangs open, nothing within. A wardrobe of dark, almost black wood stands against the north wall. Beside the door and against the west wall, a ceramic washbowl filled with cool water sits on a small table. Against the south wall, a large desk with with many cabinets and drawers all open, all seemingly empty. On the floor, leaning against the desk is a painting of a man with a thick black beard and piercing green eyes. He stands at the bow of a ship in the midst of a storm, brandishing a strange wavy bladed dagger. Lurking in the foam of the storm stossed sea, a gigantic creature rises up, it's tentacles curled to strike. In the southeast corner of the room, a large copper tub filled with steaming water invites a relaxing bath. An assortment of fragrant soaps and oils is displayed on a low table beside the tub. A shaving mirror hangs on the south wall, and beside it a straight razor with an ivory handle dangles by it's cord from a nail. There is a large duffel bag upon the bed, and a wizards robe on the floor by the bath.

Rachel looks around suspiciously. Then she slowly and carefully walks over to the bathtub and holds her hand in the water to feel how hot the water is. Then she picks up one of the bottles near the tub opens one and smells what fragrance it has. She picks up the robe and sees if it got any pockets and searches trough them. If that all doesn't give some interesting facts to what might have happened she walks over to the wardrobe and slowly opens it and takes a peek inside. If she still can't find any clues, she kneels before the painting, grabs hold of her medallion and slowly starts chanting to Callus to please reveal her if the painting has been made by evil hands and if it should be feared. She continues to do this for half an hour. If then still nothing is revealed she slowly and carefully reaches out with her left hand to the painting, while doing this she keeps her right hand around the medaillon, and then slightly touching the painting.

The water is still warm to the touch though not hot leading her to believe this bath was probably drawn close to an hour before. The bottles each contain a different floral fragrance, while the robe has pockets containing many herb like substances, as well as various other nasty things like bat wings and toad eyes. The wardrobe is empty, and her prayer to Callus reveals the painting to be of magical origin, although for some reason she is unable to ascertain if it was created by one with a good or evil intent. The minute she lays her hand upon the painting, she sees a strong flash of blueish colored light and her surroundings immediately change. The light in the room is extinguished, and as your eyes adjust to the dim light, you realize you're standing before a large pool in the middle of a large, low ceiling chamber. The waters are dark and murky; it appears something is alive in there by the swirls that occasionally appear on the waters surface. That something--whatever it is--must be very dangerous. Dangling above the pool from a chain, an iron cage holds a humanoid skeleton whose flesh has recently been stripped to the bone. Ragged bits of skin and hair still cling to the remains of the unfortunate victim. Your eyes follow the chain until it is lost in shadows above, but you spot it again as it descends to a large crank attatched to the east wall. This wall, like the others-you now notice-is painted with fantastic murals of frolicking nymphs dancing with flute in hand around ugly leering centuars. The depictions are brazenly lifelike and painstakingly detailed. On the far side of the pool, low steps lead down into the water. Once bathers might have relaxed here, but now you wonder to what doom those steps lead. You walk a few steps towards the paintings, carefully skirting the edge of the pool, and you discover the body of a large purple worm with gaping jaws is extended from the pool, it's head nowhere to be seen. Nearby there is a large pool of blood, belonging to another you think as it does not trail to the worm. Looking further, you see signs of a recent battle as the walls have scorched marks from some great inferno, and the Gazing at the mangled bodies, you note these were definately not 'clean' kills. Severed limbs lay strung across the floor, fingers still twitching, and 2 of the 7 bodies have been decapitated, eyes glazed over, seeming to stare up at you accusingly.

I slowly look around for an exit of this room, while simultaneously trying to keep an eye on the pool AND the dead people. I then carefully walk over to the dead people. I think I need to do something in the form of a burial, but what to do with magled bodies like this? I don't have time nor lust to search them all out. I decide there is not much I can do for the poor souls. I just take a few moments to pray for their souls.

As Rachel examines the bodies and prepares to pray for the dead, an overwhelming sense of evil overcomes her and she decides to delay her prayers until she figures out what is going on. The far wall of the pool chamber is lined with eleven ornate wooden doors, but the beauty of the wood has been marred by the inept installation of heavy iron locks that look sturdy enough to withstand any blow. You find them all to contain cells, empty except for chains and manacles and ragged bits of cloth here and there save for one door. Opening the middle door, You find a short hallway to another door. You open the second door, and in front of you, a long, wide hallway narrows toward the far end. 2 tall hideous statues of alien looking humanoids stand along each side wall, staring with dull, fishlike eyes. The hall is dimly lit by a bank of black candles atop a low altar positioned 5' in front of the north wall.

I slowly walk over to the candles (they are closer then the statues right? Otherwise I walk to the statues first) and carefully examine them to see if they are ordinary candles. Then she blows one out to see what happens.

Blowing out the candles produces nothing but darkness, and the statues offer no surprises either as Rachel cautiously examines them. The altar is bare, although there is a small pool of blood at the base of it, not warm, but not dried either leading you to believe it is less than an hour old. Because of all the bodies and blood she continues to find, Rachel moves even more cautiously behind the altar towards the ominous door she discovers and listens for a moment hearing nothing. Carefully turning the knob, she peeks in through the crack and sees a group of people, discussing 'how to find the evil priest'. One large woman in ill fitting black clothing carries a body of a fully armored 6'+ tall man over one shoulder.

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