I eventually woke up again, about an hour later I was told, to a scene of devastation. The air spirits, even without my input, had continued to press their attack and the statues were now rubble. They vanished through the door, which means they're out there somewhere rampaging away. My responsibility: I will have to track them down and dispell them.

But, priorities. First, I healed everyone. Many of the party were unconscious, arrayed neatly in a line near the back wall. The others had performed first aid on themselves, so I simply got to my business. Which took a very long time. Not the healing part: I can now heal a person immediately, but it is very tiring and then I must rest for a while. As I rested, I watched the others go about their own business. Prestley set traps all around this room. Goldrim looked through the scrolls that were so hard-won from the statues. Others rested themselves, or prowled around looking at stuff. Miara and Kyuskay looked through a small room off to one side.

As I recovered from my last healing effort, a terrible shriek from that small room sliced through me, shivering along my very bones. A few such screams, then silence, and Miara and her cousin emerged, looking a little shaken. Before they could say a word, Goldrim heedlessly dropped the scrolls he had been carefully pouring over and headed directly for the main entrance, now booby-trapped by Prestley.

With disquiet, I realized that Goldrim's eyes continued to glow blackly long after my own ceased glowing whitely and Ashe's redly. I was told that he had been trapped inside the Stone of Stones, and escaped only because the wounds from the shards of stone finally caused him to faint away. It also appeared that he had conjured those shards of stone that ripped into us all, accidentally. Aside from the usual pitfalls of these crystals, Goldrim may be even more dangerous wielding his, and in more danger from it as well.

Still exhausted, I merely watched as Miara, Kyuskay, and Prestley threw themselves at Goldrim to stop him. He was compltely insensate to their pleas. José even spoke to him in dwarven, but to no effect. As the three hung on, just keeping Goldrim in check, José added another spell, and then it seemed he had a conversation with something we could not hear. We could only hear José's side, and that was in dwarven.

Eventually, we pieced the story together. Apparently the dwarven queen of this hold was murdered in that small room, where she had hidden herself during that century-gone invasion by the orcs. Something Miara and Kyuskay did somehow brought her spirit out, and she is now desperate to find her remains so she can be properly buried.

Miara and Kyuskay told her our aim and promised to help her locate whatever's left of her body and bury her. Miara explained our present mission completely to her, even to the Crystal of Water. She asked for her help in translating the ritual scrolls we have, but she refused to help us desecrate dwarven graves. Still, we are bound through Miara's promise to help the queen. She continues to possess Goldrim, so we have little choice in the matter, truthfully. However, she is amenable to helping us look for her remains and says she won't go wandering away with Goldrim's body.

We asked her questions and considered our options. Queen Kervista, as she named herself to us, had no idea where her body might have been moved to. It simply wasn't where she knew she had died. She remembered the fight, the dying, and then being trapped in that room for a very long time. About a hundred years, by our reckoning. Not so very long to a living dwarf, but apparently terribly long for a trapped ghost. She assumed, as did we, that her husband the king (whose name Goldrim didn't recognize) had died in the battle. She did think that if we came close to whatever remains of her body, she will probably feel it and promised to let us know.

We thought about everywere we'd been so far: we hadn't found any piles of 100-year old orc rubble, sadly. The only dwarven remains we'd seen were down the oubliette. With little hope, we went there. Maybe the ghostly queen could get some useful information from the other ghost.

We had been wandering around for quite some time, and had spent several hours in this room recovering from our fight with the statues. In the meantime, the dwarves had been fighting. Were they finished? Had they returned to searching the hold? I carefully looked at the map and figured out how to get back to the oubliette while avoiding any areas the dwarves would most likely be in.

Once there, she said nothing felt familiar. The queen, using Goldrim, looked down cautiously, and the ghost screamed up at her. She screamed back, and they inflicted a ghostly screeching match on us. Hosei paraphrased it a little for us. The ghost at the bottom blamed the queen's ghost for leaving him in the pit, and she blamed him for the scum that he was and not helping with the dwarven attack. None of us felt like pointing out that he couldn't have been much help since he was stuck in the pit. Of course, he was probably there by his own actions, so perhaps it was his fault in the long run. At any rate, the orcs never found this place, and he died slowly of starvation down the hole. Hosei carefully ushered Goldrim/the queen away from the hole and looked at Miara with a "what next?" look. She looked a little out of her depth. What does one do with a ghost who has possessed one's travelling companion?

Someone pointed out that we need only search in places the ocrs had gone: once they left, there was no-one to move the queen's remains. I pulled out the map agin. We could sort of tell where the orcs had gone and where they hadn't.

The octagonal room that we needed to go through by reading runes did have orc skeletons, but no dwarven skeletons. I pulled out the bit of map we'd found that I just couldn't match to what we ha seen and showed her. Perhaps she could figure something out from that; but no, she didn't recognize it. I'm left with the assumption that it's a bit of mis-direction. Someone drew it to lead people astray. With Prestley's amazing abilities to see through walls and doors, we saw immediately that the map didn't work.

We hadn't been to the lake room yet, but we knew how to get there. We just didn't know the ritual to get us throguh safely. Staring at the map and figuring the orcs' routes, I realized we had missed a bit that was near us -- the kitchen and dining hall and other associated areas. Also, we hadn't finished the upper part, distracted as we'd been by statues and ghosts. Finally, there was one other area that we could only get to from the front entrance, where there were almost certainly dwarves. There was also the area around the lake, of course, but that would have to wait. Perhaps if we searched everywhere else first and didn't find the queen's remains, she would help us get into the lake area and continue the search there. I didn't say that out loud.

We started with the kitchen area first, it being closest to us. The kitchen streoroom was empty, besides empty crates and boxes. Prestley looked through the door and said the kitchen was on the other side. On the butcher block were the remains of several dwarven skeletons that were clearly chopped up with the butcher's knives that were still lying there. In the ovens were the charred remains of other dwarves. A grisly scene, and one which the queen had to see.

Miara, uncharacteristically thoughtful, asked José to gently describe the room before we walked into it. With understatement, she said, "It's likely to upset her." Just his description upset her.

We opened the door, and she began weeping horribly at the sight. Not as badly as before, but she was certainly affected by the sight of her dead comrades, chopped and cooked for an orcs' feast. José calmed her down somewhat. Kyuskay offered some words he meant to be consoling, but at José's translation, she wept even louder.

We guided her out the room and shut the door, trying to calm her down out there. Kyuskay remained silent, and she did quiet down after a few minutes. Miara asked her if her body was in there somewhere, which stressed her again. But she gulped down a sob and said she didn't think so.

Prestley looked into the dining hall, past the kithcen. It was sealed by the expedition because of the horror within. The orcs had strung up the rest of the still-living dwarves and used them for target pratice while they feasted. The bodies were still there, some hanging, some fallen and eaten by animals. The expedition had locked the door, since there was no time for proper burials.

We could go through the locked easily enough. But if there were dwarves on the other side, they would certainly hear the queen's wailing and come after us. José offered a solution: he could actually cause an area of utter silence, from which no sound could escape, with his magic. He did so, and we escorted the sad queen's ghost into the dining room.

She wept, but managed to keep her compusre and didn't break down into a screaming fit. She looked around and shook her head: her body was not there. Once outside again, without the spell that silenced her, she confirmed that she was pretty sure her body was'nt in there. She recognized the clothing and armor of some of the dead within, which saddened her further.

We left the area, all of us with sad thoughts of our own.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~