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The Magic Candle 2: The Four and Forty other

旼컴컴컴컴                                                           컴컴컴컴커
 USA/FLT                 United Software Association                 USA/FLT 
                            Fairlight PC Division                            
                              USA-Dox Department

                               Proudly Presents

         Magic Candle ][: The Four And Forty Complete Paragraph Book

                                    From
                                                                             
 USA/FLT                         Mindcraft                           USA/FLT 
읕컴컴컴컴                                                           컴컴컴컴켸
旼컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컫컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴쩡컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴
   Supplied: Anonymous     Method: Hand-Typed     Packaged: You know who   
    Created: Anonymous     Extras: None               Date: 2/8/92         
읕컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컨컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴좔컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴

                          MAGIC CANDLE ][ PARAGRAPH BOOK
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  1. Acorn says, "Are you new to Oshcrun Island? Well, of course you must
     be! We all are! Unless you've been hiding beneath the mountains for
     centuries, and no offense, but you don't really look old enough for
     that! Anyway, I'd like to welcome you to Ketrop and invite you to look
     around. I wouldn't want to brag-I'll leave that to the mayor-but I can
     say that we're very proud of our humble little village. We have shops
     that sell goods you can't find in Telermain!"

  2. The courtier Alex says, "Yes, King Rebnard keeps several wizards
     around Castle Oshcrun. I'm sure you know most of them-you could hardly
     have reimprisoned Drex without their help."

     You manage to keep smiling. It's supposed to be a pleasant
     conversation in King Rebnard's court, you remind yourself, biting your
     tongue and thinking pleasant thoughts about nights in the woods under
     Deruvian stars. You ask Alex, "Is the great wizard Ziyx in the castle?"

     "No," replies Alex, "Ziyx has retired from active service. He lives
     in a tower on an island northeast of here. The gods only know what he's
     doing there-it couldn't be anything of importance. Even wizards get old,
     you know."

     You bite your tongue again. This conversation had better be worth it.
     Ziyx was old when he served Rebnard's great-grandfather, as you know.
     And he would still be old, and active, when everyone in the
     courtroom-Alex and you and Rebnard himself-were long in their graves.
     The thought that the Great Ziyx would not be doing something
     important...

     "What of Eflun?" you ask as politely as you can.

     "Eflun?" Alex repeats. "I believe that he's around somewhere, unless
     he's gone back to Deruvia, or off exploring Gurtex. Of course, the
     Great Truk is the king's court wizard now. His furniture transformation
     spells are very entertaining. And Rimfiztrk is puttering about the
     castle, as well."

     Alex looks around the courtroom, as if your conversation is over. You
     silently agree that it is, and walk away.

  3. The tavernkeeper is tall and big. His beard is white, his eyes are
     red, and his skin has a greenish cast. He laughs as he watches you look
     him over. "What do y'think stranger? Be I half-orc? Half-troll? Couldn't
     be half-goblin, at me great size! Gods, it always be a pleasure to see
     strangers guess me out-me who's spent me life tryin' to guess me own
     self!

     "But yer thirst be of more import than the name or race o'me mother
     or father, gods treat their souls as they deserve!" Greenpate spits on
     the floor, then calls for the servingmaid. "A round for us all! The
     stranger be buying'!"

     The patrons applaud your generosity, those of them who can manage to
     put two hands together in the same place at the same time. Greenpate has
     not stopped talking. "it's a fine town we have here," he says, "A
     peaceful fishin' village, where we all make our own way." You glance
     around the tavern. A fight has broken out in the far corner. Several of
     the patrons have passed out on the floor. Of the rest, those who do not
     have eyepatches or peglegs are wearing hooks instead of hands on one or
     both arms.

     "Kind, gentle, honest folk we are," says Greenpate, "and we loves our
     fun." A flying bottle shatters what was left of the mirror behind the
     bar.

     You ask of transportation out of Ussa, explaining that this quiet
     peaceful life, while restful for a time, will surely, sooner or later,
     grate against your traveling instincts.

     Greenpate winks, "Ussa might be boring to any, 'specially while their
     bones are a-mendin'. Two ship captains make port here-they could take
     'ee east or westward."

  4. Maalaq seems impressed. "You come from the mighty Ziyx?" The wizard
     glares at you with the darkest eyes you have ever seen. He says: "You
     have found the gate of Deraum, and Ziyx believes that you are strong,
     brave, and trustworthy enough to enter."

     Amazing that so much information could be contained in one short
     word!

     "Since you have managed to climb my tower and break into my private
     chamber, I must admit that you are strong enough, and brave-or
     foolhardy-enough," continues Maalaq. "As for 'trustworthy', I bow to
     Ziyx's judgement, I myself know nothing of trust."

     The wizard reaches into his robes and withdraws a key, "Since the
     mighty Ziyx has decided to intrude, I hereby place the Deraum matter
     into his hands! Or into your hands for him, it appears....This key will
     allow you entry. I give it to you with one final warning: Deraum is
     sorely haunted by the spirits of the foully slain! Venture not into
     Deraum without plans and preparations to withstand their terrors!

  5. Suddenly, you are transported to the throne room of Castle Oshcrun!
     As the dizziness wears off, you stare in dismay at scorched tapestries,
     befouled carpets, blackened windows, and ... on King Rebnard's throne,
     the most hideous of demons!

     "The great hero of Deruvia, I presume," hisses the demon. Its spittle
     burns tiny holes in the purple velvet of the throne it sits upon. "I am
     Zakhad, lord of Mandarg and Gurtex. You may grovel."

     You stand tall and proud. Zakhad laughs. Or hisses, or shouts; a
     sound like nothing you have ever heard before, and nothing you ever want
     to hear again.

     "So brave! So valiant! And perhaps I should thank you for ensuring
     that my lord Dreax remains imprisoned in that candle's flame," the demon
     grins, "allowing me to rule the East without interference. Or perhaps,
     I should destroy you right now!" The demon hurls a great bolt of
     lightning at you! Reflexively, you drop to the floor as the lightning
     passes overhead!

     The demon's scaly lips turn upward. "Grovel before me, hero! And hear
     my challenge! Your impudent king, his beloved queen, and their son
     Jemil are in my power! Find them and die, or paddle back across the
     sea!" In a puff of foul-smelling smoke, the demon Zakhad vanishes.

  6. The scholar's home is warm and friendly, if somewhat cluttered, but
     his greeting startles you. "Why do you say 'hero'?"

     Wartow smiles, "We are secluded here in Wanasol, in the shadow of the
     Elden's mountain, but we still receive word of great events, sooner or
     later." He shuffles through a stack of papers, pulls out a faded sketch,
     and shows it to you.

     The likeness is ten years old, and far from the truth-you never
     looked that good, even after bathing-but you can see how Wartow might
     have recognized you.

     As you had the sketch back to Wartow, your eyes are drawn to a gold
     sunburst ornament embedded in the flesh of his left hand. He notices
     your attention. "The Sun Mark", he say. "I have the honor to bear it
     until the next sunlight festival, when a new marked one will be chosen
     by lot.... If you're not familiar with the prophecy of the Orb and the
     marked ones, you can read about it in our library....

     "But where have you been? What have you done? How goes your quest?"
     Wartow pleads for information. You tell him of your adventures.

  7. Bhardagast bids you be seated. "There is so much to be learned about
     Gurtex," he says, "and we have so far only scratched the surface." His
     lips twitch in a small smile. "And we know that most of Gurtex's secrets
     are far beneath its surface. Or far above, in the case of Mount
     Mandarg...."

     Suddenly, Lord Bhardagast shakes in agony. A frightful expression
     comes over his face. You rush to his side as he gasps, "No, no, it will
     pass. Please sit down. Forgive my indisposition. These attacks are
     painful, but infrequent and of short duration. Still, they serve to
     confine me to my room." His breath is coming easier now, you wee, and
     you relax somewhat.

     "I hear that you are interested in the fate of the four and forty
     guardians of Deruvia's Magic Candle," Bhardagast continues, almost as if
     nothing had happened. The color begins to return to his face.

     You nod forcefully, "The first massacre is still a mystery," you say,
     "and we must assure that a second massacre can never happen!"

     "Well, yes, of course, of course," agrees Bhardagast, "And that is
     one of the reasons that our king is so eager to subdue  Gurtex. Rebnard
     is, of course, much more concerned with the might of the forces of
     darkness today than with the details of a massacre ten and more years
     past, but I must admit that the subject of Fort Berbezza and the four
     and forty has intrigued me personally. Investigations have been made
     since you bravely restored the Candle."

     Ignoring the compliment, you lean forward in anticipation. "What
     have you learned?"

     "What we know of the story is not pretty," say Bhardagast. "The four
     eldens were taken by surprise after the forty other guardians had been
     slaughtered. We cannot know for sure whether the four survived, although
     we found no evidence of their death. There are strong indications that
     the four-living or dead-were transported across the sea of Oshmar to
     Gurtex, along with the remains of many of the forty."

     "Have you found any traces of them on this side of the ocean?" you
     ask.

     "Not yet. Not for sure." Bhardagast lowers his voice, as if to foil
     unseen listeners. "But there are signs of a ghost beneath this very
     castle...perhaps on of the forty...a farfetched possibility." The king's
     advisor shakes his head, and his voice returns to normal. He continues,
     "As I say, our king is concerned with Gurtext today, not Berbezza long
     ago. I hope I have been able to help, and that you will visit again
     soon."

     As you rise to leave, Bhardagast leans forward and lowers his voice
     once more. "There have been signs. I have sent a small group, led by the
     mercenary Ben, to follow the signs. The signs lead to the legendary
     dwarven mines beneath the Demonspine and, perhaps, beyond the mines to
     the dreaded Mount Mandarg..."

     Another fit overcomes Lord Bhardagast! He falls to the floor! His
     screams bring servants scurrying into his chamber. "You must leave now,"
     the servants say as they usher you out into the corridor.

  8. The halfling say, "Well, I'm sure you'll see the temple of Marior for
     yourself, but let me tell you that it's and awesome sight. Sitting on
     the point, looking out over nothing but the vast sea of Oshmar...The
     breakers nearby, and the waves in the distance...Let me tell you-The
     temple, what's left of it, is on solid ground. You can look at your
     feet, you can sit down and look at your ... fundament? Anyway, you know
     you're sitting on solid ground. But it feels like you're sailing on the
     ocean-the gods of Deruvia know I never felt that way on the long journey
     across the sea!"

     Ozmin sees that he has your attention. "I've never been what you
     might call religious," he says. "i've had jobs to do, and I've done
     them. Don't mistake me-I've always respected the good gods, and I taught
     my family the same. But I never really felt their power in Deruvia. Not
     until I found the ruined temple of Marior here on Oshcrun Island."

  9. As the soulspeak spell crosses the room, the ghost becomes even more
     fearsome, and its cries bring you even more anguish!" "Leave me!" The
     ghost shrieks! "Leave me with my pain!"

     A blaze of light makes you cover your eyes, but between your fingers
     you can see the ghost as an aged wizard, whirling to face each corner of
     the room, then returning to you. "Leave me, I say! Leave me in my shame
     and agony!"

     A renewed wave of fear washes over you, leaving you with just enough
     courage to stammer: "Honorable sir, we must speak with you about..."

     "Honorable?" shrieks the ghost. "You mock me with the title I have
     lost forever!" The ghost whirls about once more, then faces you one
     again, and suddenly settles into its wizard's form. The blazing light
     dims. The soulspeak spell has finally taken effect.

     "We are the twelve who serve the four," the aged wizard starts to
     chant, waving his arms in strange patterns and turning his head in
     random directions. With a start, you realize that the arms have lost
     their hands, the head has had its eyes gouged out, and the wizard, at
     his death, was most probably totally mad. Gently, carefully, you
     approach the wizard, take his shoulders, and seat him on a convenient
     bench. You ask him, "Can you tell us your story?"

     The wizard's ghost shudders. His arms twitch, "We are the twelve...
     we are the twelve ...'i am the..." He reaches out the stump of his right
     arm to brush your sleeve. He asks, "Have you come to save me?" You nod,
     knowing he cannot see you, but before you can speak, he tells his story.

     "I am, I was, the last of the twelve," says the ghost. "To my
     everlasting shame.

     "I ran! I hid!" The wizard begins to tremble uncontrollably, and
     starts to glow again. Quickly, you put your arm around his shoulders and
     murmur soft words to comfort him. He calms down once more.

     Lowering his head, the ghost wizard speaks, "My name is - was -
     Phokos. Of the four and forty guardians at Fortress Berbezza, I was the
     last. And the least. The Warriors twenty died defending the gate. The
     wardens eight were taken and slain in the onslaught. The wizards twelve,
     saving only myself, were cut down at the very base of the Candle. Then
     the four, the eldens, were captured by Naur threats and treachery. I
     alone was left to defend the Candle, and I was cowering under the
     farthest stairwell, fearing only for my own miserable life.

     "They found me soon enough," the ghost of Phokos continues, "And,
     most cruelly, they kept me barely alive through the voyage across the
     sea of Oshmar and the trek to Mandarg. I lost my eyes, then my hands. My
     mind followed soon after. Then finally my life." A dismal chuckle comes
     from the ghost's trembling jaw. "But never my ears! I heard all their
     plans! I can tell you..."

     You jump back in horror as the ghost rises from the bench and begins
     to glow. "Leave me in my anguish, or lay my soul to rest!" it shrieks.

 10. You want to know a secret? ask the orc, as he rises from his pallet
     and faces his corner of the cell. He stretches his arms and legs, and
     scratches other parts of his greenish anatomy. You try not to watch, as
     his guttural voice reflects from the opposite wall. "You want to know
     the secret of life? The secret of salvation? The secrets of light and
     darkness?" He turns to face you. "The one secret is..."

     Suddenly, the orc grins in recognition. At the same time, you
     recognize the orc! Ten years older but this is the same orc who gave you
     the clue in Port Avur that helped you find Thorin's hammer-the first
     milestone on the quest to restore Deruvia's magic candle!

     In unison, you and the orc exclaim, "I know you!" The orc drops to
     his knees. Stepping back a pace, to keep your legs out of reach of his
     jaws, you inquire: "Buzbiquent, isn't it?"

     "Buzbazgut, it is," replies the orc. "But call me Buz. And praise the
     gods who sent you here!" The orc bows his head, and begins and
     incomprehensible muttering.

     You stare in amazement. Finally, Buzbazgut concludes his prayers and
     looks up at you. "Secrets," he says. "There are many secrets, many that
     are only secrets because no one will learn their truth!" He shakes his
     head to and fro, fangs dripping, "May I arise?"

     "Do so," you say, wondering why your permission is needed.

     Buzbazgut stands up. "Say the word," he entreats you. "Invite me to
     join your party. Free me from Rebnard's dungeons! I can guide you
     through the depths of Gurtex!"

     You wait for the orc to continue.

 11. Strangers!" the Altesen priest exclaims. "The prophecy is fulfilled!
     I know not who you are, nor whence you came, nor how you found the
     sacred orb-but at last, you have come!"

     You stare in wonder at the glowing orb behind the altar. Slowly, the
     temple fills with Altesen warrior guards. Their heads tower over you,
     and the points of their spears tower even farther over their heads.
     Plans cascade through you mind. How to grab the orb, how to evade the
     guards, how to escape the islands.. But none of your plans have any hope
     of success.

     Then you realize that the priest and the guards are waiting for you
     answer. What was the question?? What was the priest saying while you
     were engrossed in your own plans? "Will you." That's how it started. It
     was a simple question. You curse yourself for not listening.

     "Will." "You." What came next??

     The warriors begin to lower their spears from the guard stance to the
     attack position. Gods! Those spears are longer than...What was the
     question?? "Will you" ... "Will you accept" ... "Will you accept the
     orb?"

     "Yes!" you exclaim. The Altesens snap to attention. Their priest
     takes the orb and hands it to you. Its glow is weaker than you had
     thought, but it trembles and vibrates as if it were alive.

     The Altesen priest gazes at you sternly. "We are much relieved to see
     our part of the prophecy ended," he says.

            "We hold the orb,
            with faultless faith.
            'til strangers show
            their new-found need."

     He is reciting a poem, or chant, or song. The guards respond in a
     tuneless hum. All the Altesens seem to know the ceremony well.

            "The strangers stride
            along the land,
            to search for signs
            of pain and power.
            "On arm and head,
            on limping leg,
            they finally find
            the sacred signs,
            "Offering the orb,
            a touch transforms
            the glowing globe."

     The rhythm suddenly changes, and the Altesen guards begin to beat the
     ends of their spears upon the ground.

            "When the strangers gain the touches three,
            the land of Gurtex, and its islands, may be free!
            A prince of royal blood, with orb in hand,
            will banish darkness with its might, and free the land!"

     The ceremony ends in silence. Somehow you have expected cheers of joy
     and encouragement... The priest's glare is as stern as ever. "Begone!
     Your mission here is done! You are strangers here, and you must leave.
     Yet, since you seem to be the prophecied strangers of the Orb, you may
     seek the blessing of Senvara before you go. Farewell."

     The guards escort you out of the temple.

 12. Searching the bodies of the guards, you find the key to the cell.
     You open it, and the three halflings stream out into the jailors' room.

     "Thank you! Thank you!" they shout. "Where do they keep the food?"
     Cabinets are opened. Drawers are spilled on the floor. The smallest
     halfling looks through the guards' pouches and suddenly pulls out an
     unidentifiable mass, squealing in delight! "No, no, Darksun!" shouts the
     halfling in the red jacket. "That's orcfood! Don't eat it! Don't touch
     it!" He knocks the orcfodd out of Darksun's grasp.

     "I've found it!" shouts the third halfling, opening a chest.

     "Turnips! One for you, one for you, one for me..." He take a big bite,
     chews and swallows. Turning to you, he says, "Thank you again. We are
     forever in your debt. Where ever did they find these? Almost as good as
     Fubernel Pinks ... My name is Salmo. This is my friend Russet, and his
     sister Darksun." Salmo lowers his voice. "Darksun can't speak, and she
     isn't very bright, but she's the best mushroom hunter Russet and I - and
     Perin - have ever known or heard of. That's why we talked Garlin into
     sailing us to Misor. The place must be full of mushroom patches, but we
     didn't find any before the orcs found us... We'll head back for the
     coast. Don't worry, we'll find our way back to Ketrop."

     The halflings shake your hand. As Darksun leaves, you realize that
     her name comes from the birthmark on her hollowed check shaped like a
     dark red sunburst.

 13. Ha! You ask favor from Xent'xis? Ha! You ask from Lord of the
     Tundra? From Chief of the horde of the North? From Arm of the
     Everlasting Frost? Ha! Ha!" You notice that several of the surrounding
     barbarians have drawn their bows. Some of their women are sharpening
     their skinning knives. You wish that you could plan an escape route, but
     the shine in the golden eyes of Xent'xis will not allow you to
     concentrate on anything else.

     "Ha! You ask favor from..." Sounds of swords being drawn come from
     within the chieftain's massive tent, followed by a sudden puff of white
     smoke. "Ha! Ha! Ha, ha ha, ha!" Xent'xis bursts into laughter, and a
     chorus of feminine laughs echoes him from within the great tent.

     You look around in bewilderment. Xent'xis shouts at you, "Were you
     frightened? Were you scared? Ha! Ha!" Gales of laughter buffet you from
     all sides. "Welcome to our camp," laughs Xent'xis, "The shamans have
     named you with white smoke as the children of light, so you are welcome,
     and more than welcome!

 14. The ghost stares at you. Slowly, it begins to speak: "Are you...
     Yes! Yes! You are Deruvian!" The ghost's fearsome aspect fades away, and
     you see, instead, the form of a slender, pale young man. He says, "Then
     the candle must have survived! Praise be to the gods of light!"

     "Yes, the demon Dreax is newly imprisoned, with four and forty new
     guardians," you replay. Modestly, you do not mention your role in
     restoring the magic candle of Deruvia.

     But the young man's ghost seems disturbed, "Four and forty... Yes! I
     was one of the forty! My name was Horann!" His face brightens with the
     memory, then darkens. Ghostly tears fall from his ghostly eyes. He sobs,
     "But we failed! Fortress Berbezza was entrusted to us, and we failed!
     The forces of darkness...The four eldens were taken, and the forty
     guardians were slain! We failed! Can the gods forgive our souls?"

     You wait patiently as the troubled spirit sinks deeper into its
     misery. Finally, then, it becomes calmer, "Please be assured that we
     mean you no harm," you say. "In fact, we may be able to help you, and
     you may be able to help us. Can you remember anything more about the
     Berbezza massacre?"

     The ghost flinches. "I do not want to, and I do not care to.. but I
     can. And I must." He draws his ghostly sleeve across his tear-filled
     eyes. "The forces of darkness burst into the fortress. I know not how.
     The four were taken by surprise, and captured. We forty fought
     valiantly, or so we thought..."

     Another pause for Horann to collect himself. How hard to be dead and
     unable to rest!

     "Then I found myself aboard a ship headed eastward, pulling on an oar
     that felt like the tallest tree in Yberton," says the ghost. "I do not
     know whether I was dead or alive at the time. It makes no difference
     now. Yet I seem to recall voices. A shout that one of the four had
     escaped. A murmur that candles had been prepared to entrap the other
     three. A command to row harder, and the lash of a giant whip...

     "If you are able, I pray you to send my soul to its rest." Horann
     concludes, as he transforms back into his fearsome ghostly shape.

 15. My older brother, Ozmin, didn't really want to sail across the sea
     of Oshmar. The trip was not a pleasure cruise, as you well know. But,
     once he arrived, Ozmin became very interested in exploring the island.
     As a matter of fact, he discovered the large granite quarry that King
     Rebnard has used to rebuild the castle! If I were you, I'd ask Ozmin to
     tell you everything he knows about Oshcrun.

 16. Lady Subia is perfectly at home in King Rebnard's courtroom. Her
     dress and demeanor, it seems, could place her nowhere but in such an
     elegant setting. But you know better. And, as you touch hands in
     greeting, a twinkle in her eye tells you that she knows that you know
     better. You know that this elegant lady in her silken gown has been just
     as comfortable-possibly more so- wrapped in furs on the highest mountain
     peaks or shrouded with mosquito netting in the deepest swamps. Subia the
     Explorer! Without her maps, you could never have managed to restore the
     magic candle of Deruvia!

     The lady kisses you sweetly and precisely on both cheeks, then guides
     you into the shadows of the pillars that ring the courtroom, away from
     the general conversation. "I trust that I may speak frankly to you," she
     says.

     You nod. She pauses. You realize that this is a serious matter, and
     say, "Mildady, of course you may speak frankly. But if you wish to speak
     secretly, you must know that conscience will not allow hiding..."

     She interrupts you with a silvery laugh, which she immediately
     muffles with a long silken sleeve. "No, have no thoughts of treason!
     Rebnard and I have no quarrel, save that he thinks of me as Baby Suby,
     and I can't help remembering him at ten years old, swaggering around the
     courtyard, dragging a wooden sword, half again as tall as he!

     "Have no doubt that this entire court, here and in Deruvia, feels
     that Gurtex must be subdued and made powerless to threaten the children
     of light!" Subia's smile is gone, and the twinkle in her eyes have been
     replaced, in turn, by a blinding glare and, now, a faraway gaze. "Yet I
     feel sure that there is more to Gurtex than a land full of ravening
     monsters to be burnt to the ground!"

     You hesitate, "Milady," you say, "laying an entire continent to waste
     does not sit well on anyone's soul. But everything we have heard about
     Gurtex says that we have no other choice."

     "Oh, how you remind me of cousin Rebnard," Subia smiles, as she
     glances toward the king and moves farther into the shadows of the
     pillars, "Like him, you act when you can and think when you must. I, on
     the other hand, was raised as an advisor, not a commander. I think when
     I can, and study when I can, and explore when I can, and to the best of
     my ability, act when I must.

     "There are several things about Gurtex that are wreathed in mystery,"
     she continues. "They must be investigated before the armies arrive to
     wreak indiscriminate havoc on the land, lest the remnants of light in
     Gurtex be destroyed forever."

     "But surely the destruction of the many hordes of darkness is more
     important than the survival of a few outposts of light," you begin, then
     suddenly become unsure of what you are saying.

     Subia glares at you. "Perhaps. That is certainly the way Rebnard
     would feel. Nonetheless, I ask you to join me on an expedition into the
     cleft of the Demonspine Mountains, not for conquest, but for mercy. I am
     certain that the ancient elven village of Llendora still survives there,
     hidden from the sight of the forces of darkness and all other strangers.
     And I think I know how to find it. We can help them, if only by letting
     them know that the children of light have come to Gurtex. And, if I am
     correct, they can help us as well.

     "Please consider this expedition, and visit me in my room if you
     decide to undertake it." Subia smiles again, then moves toward another
     group of courtiers.

 17. The small boy smiles up at you. "Could you hold your finger right
     here, please? I have to tighten the rigging on my toy boat." He giggles.
     "Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat! Bet you can't say that as fast as me!"

     You put your finger where he tells you and chant, "Toy boat, toy
     boit, toe boot!" All the rigging comes loose on his little schooner as
     he falls onto the pier, writhing in laughter. The sailors nearby look
     your way, but don't seem to see the humor. You don't mind. Sitting down
     next to Timm, you begin restringing his sails for him.

     Timm eventually sits up and watches you. "Be careful." he says.
     "That's really a magic ship, you know, so don't hurt it. It's really the
     Western Star that carried my family across the sea of Oshmar to the
     Deruvias years and years and ages and ages ago. And now it's back in
     Gurtex again. Almost."

     "She's a fine ship," you agree as you hand the re-rigged toy back to
     Timm. As you stand up, you notice a star-shaped birthmark on the boy's
     knee below his short pants. " And the mark on your knee must be another
     Western Star," you joke.

     "Oh, no, that is the mark of the northern star!" Timm is very
     serious. "Same as my father's and Grampa's and everybody before them,
     since they came from Gurtex! Grampa's dead now, you know, and father's
     been gone a long time...Thanks for your help with the rigging."

 18. What...Where...How...The wizard Truk stands before you on trembling
     legs. "NEVER ask me to do that again," he cries, and collapses in a heap
     of bony wizardly knees and elbows. Nause wrenches you to the floor. You
     have just enough time to recognize the royal carpet of King Rebnard's
     throne room before the remains of your last meal disfigure it forever.
     What spell did Truk cast to bring you here?? As you begin to recover,
     you gain a feeling of kinship for the dwarves you have convinced to
     board sailing ships across..but what is here?? Disaster!

     You look around the throne room. Glass is shattered. Furniture is
     destroyed. Servants are removing a body-old Shannor, from his robes. You
     quickly pray the good gods to receive his soul. Another corpse lies next
     to you. Proud young Alex! And more bodies lie around the room-dead
     servants, dead guards- their fellows rush in to bear the corpses away.

     What of the king? He lies slouched upon the throne. Dead? No! His
     chest is heaving, and you can see no blood.. But Queen Alishia is also
     on the dais, fumbling for the throne and her husband, staggering,
     wailing, blood steaming down her cheeks...

     Blinded! "My lady queen!" You struggle to your feet to aid your liege
     lord's wife, then you see more guards bring the queen's ladies to take
     her to her chambers. You trust that she is in good care. You must. You
     have no choice.

     You climb the dais to see to King Rebnard, and still more servants
     and guards rush into the room. You hear a deep voice behind you ordering
     the servants: "Attend first to the wounded, then the dead. Then clean
     and repair the royal throne room, to restore its dignity and power. Know
     that you king and queen are in good hands, and worry not about their
     majesties." You see that, in truth, King Rebnard is well-attended, and
     recognize the deep voice as that of the councilor Loren.

     Loren climbs to the throne and looks closely at the unconscious king.
     You follow Loren up the steps. His majesty's breathing is coarse, but
     measured. There is in fact some blood, but none is flowing. Satisfied,
     Loren turns to you. "It falls on me to give you the good news and the
     bad news," he says. "The bad news, in short, is the demon Zakhad, who
     claims to rule Gurtex. He paid us a visit, and you see the results. The
     good news is that Zakhad's mission of destruction did not succeed. Not
     completely. Not this time.

     "the demon demanded young Prince Jemil as a hostage, and flew into a
     rage when the king denied him," Loren explains, "I had rushed behind the
     throne when the demon appeared, so I was spared the blasts of the
     demon's fireballs and thunderbolts. No honor for me, but at least I
     survive to make the best of what remains. Thank the gods that our king
     and queen survive!

     "And thank good Shannor and brave Alex as well. May the gods of light
     rest their souls! The one shielding our king and th other defending our
     queen... May the gods rest their souls," Loren repeats.

     Loren's voice loses its strength, and he falls at the feet of King
     Rebnard. "What of the prince?" you ask. "How could the demon be denied?"
     Loren does not answer.

     But the king hears you. "Zidoni," he says. His voice is weak, and his
     healers try to quiet him. "Zidoni," he says again, and none will stop
     his speech. "Zidoni, the first of the four eldens. Or his ghost, Or an
     evil simulacrum...I know not. He came, he gathered us, he called for
     Jemil, my prince, my son, my heir. Give the foreseen prince into my
     care, he demanded. Suddenly Jermil appeared before the figure of the
     elden Zidoni. My son went to his side. Before I could call his name,
     both had vanished!"

     The healers try to calm the king. But he will not be silenced. As
     they arrange his body comfortably on the throne, he says, "Find my son!
     Find Zakhad and Zidoni, but, most of all, find my son! And, when you
     have found him, take me with you to rescue him!"

 19. I bid you welcome to Llendore," says the elven prince. The other
     elves in the meeting hall draw their bows. "I trust that you will enjoy
     your stay. It may be a long stay, since strangers to Llendora are not
     allowed to leave."

     Some of the elves giggle. Others sight along the arrows notched in
     their brom bows. Subia turns to you. "I swear that I had no idea we
     would be received thus!" You take her hand, grasping it with what you
     hope feels like confidence.

     You speak to Prince Llesiton. "Your Highness..."

     Ignoring your words, the elf continues: "Furthermore, as strangers in
     Llendora, you are deemed to have joined the hunter game. You have the
     opening move. You may lay down your arms and attempt to survive in
     Llendora for seven days, or you may try to make your way out of the
     village and through the forest right now!"

     "Amazing," you think to your frozen self, "how the horde of elves can
     giggle, chuckle, even guffaw-and yet the aim of their shafts never
     wavers!"

     But the lady Subia speaks! "Your Highness," she pleads, falling on her
     knees, "the fault is mine! I should not have guided strangers to your
     village, nor should I have come here myself! Yet I am here, and I will
     gladly stay here, and even play your hunter game, if you will only let
     my companions go!"

     "A touching display of human sentiment," observes Llesiton, looking
     down upon the lady Subia. "But, when I have you all here, why should I
     let any of you go? Unless..." The prince paces across the silent hall
     and back, while the assembled arrows point to each of the party in turn.

     Prince Llesiton looks directly at you. "The Great Explorer Subia is
     quite a prize. The Great Sorceress Somona would be a prize of even more
     worth. Bring Somona to Llendora in thirty days, and I will return Subia
     to you. Then, and only then, will the hunter game begin."

     Then elves march you out of the village. Looking over your shoulder,
     you can see the lady Subia, still on her knees, follow you with
     tear filled eyes.

 20. It's called deadwood because we'd all rather be one or the other,
     dead or wood, than live here one more day. Or night." The goblin lifts
     his withered left arm onto the table, then switches the attention of his
     good arm and his one good eye to the flagon of ale. "Balene's left dug!"
     he shouts. "Had I wanted meat, I would have ordered meat!" He pulls a
     long greenish worm from the flagon and throws it across the room,
     somewhere close to the fire. Then he drains the ale remaining in the
     flagon. "They call me Sickle stranger. So did they call my father before
     me, before he was cut down, and his father before him, as well."

     You pretend to take a drink of the deadwood ale, and try not to look
     at Sickle's left arm, lying on the table in a blood-stained crescent.
     The tattoo on his crippled hand-dragon, yes, a dragon, one wing on the
     thumb, the other bending our of sight, the tail extending our the middle
     finger with his one remaining claw as the  dragon's poison sting...At
     his writs, the crescent moon is vanishing into the dragon's maw...

     "Arm-wrestly for another round?" asks the goblin...

 21. As the Soulspeak spell settles around the ghost, its form changes.
     You begin to recognize ... the sorceress Somona! But Somona cannot be
     dead!

     "Yet, in truth, I am dead," the stately figure says, as if reading
     you mind.  "you were my benefactor in life, so I must warn you twice.
     I can do no more.  My first warning is to beware the treachery of the
     elves of Llndora, who are responsible for both my death and my
     imprisonment here.

     "Then I must warn you that--Hold! He comes! You must flee!" The
     shape of Somona fades as your  party hears a ominous rumbling from the
     south.

 22. Welcome, Hero of Deruvia!" The king's voice brings a hush to the
     room. "We had heard of your arrival on Osherun Island.  You may approach
     our person.

     King Rebnard lowers his voice to a conversational  level."We have
     made much progress here on the island, but there is still much more to
     be done.  Your help will be greatly  appreciated.  For one thing, the
     old cellars beneath the castle still need cleaning out--with sword and
     axe, not broom and mop!" Rebnard chuckles.  "none better than you for a
     task like that, eh?"  Then the king's smile shifts into a serious look,
     as if on a sudden memory.

     "But the Forces of Darkness are no joke, as you know as well as any.
     the dire lands of Gurtex await.  I pray to the gods of Light that the
     Deruvian armies will be able to subdue, conquer or liberate those lands
     before their power increases once more.  Their forces are still weak,
     thanks to your success in Deruvia.  But our armies are still far away,
     and the Oshmar voyage is long and hard.  My advisors cannot predict who
     will prevail.  The omens are mixed.  Some say success.  Others say
     defeat. Still others--I dare not think on them, lest I despair
     completely."

     The king gazes eastward. "Th fetters of rule!" Would I free to sail
     across the straits and scour Gurtex with mine own sword!  But no, my
     friend, I bound tighter than the least of my servants.  My servant
     Chilek serves only his king.  But I Chilek's lord, serves not only him,
     but every soul here and in Deruvia."  "My Liege," you say.  "surely this
     is neither the time not the place..."  You glance at the nearby
     courtiers.  Banas, the duke Rebnard's uncle.  Young Alex, dressed in
     elegant black velvet.  Are their ears growing larger?

     The king recovers quickly.  Clearing his throat.  Rebnard says:
     "These ancient maps will help you in your explorations, and the castle
     armory is at the disposal of you and your chosen companions."

     By now, the other conversations in the courtroom have resumed.  One
     woman is particularly spirited.  The king looks in her direction and
     says, "I'm sure you remember my noble cousin, the Lady Subia?" She
     fancies herself a mighty explorer.  And, I must admit, with good
     reasons." he adds. "Her exploits in the past...but the past is past, and
     the future may be far different.  And I fear that Subia would rush into
     the future before the future is prepared for her."

 23. They name you Moongold for your shining golden hair," you guess,
     looking at the lock falling free across her forehead and the tresses
     flowing free past her slender waist.

     She laughs. "No, there are many with shining hair and golden hair,"
     she says, although the other women you have seen wore their hair bound
     up or in tight braids.  "I bear the name 'Moongold' because the name
     must be borne.  Until my grandmother's mother's spirit departed, I was
     'Swift Dove' and she was 'Moongold' as her grandmother before her. Now I
     am 'Moongold until my daughter, or her daughter, or her daughter after
     takes the name. And until she takes the Mark.: Moongold brushes her hair
     back to show you a deep, crescent-shaped scar running across her forehead
     from brown to brow.

     It does not mar her beauty.

 24. I bid you welcome to Llendora,"says the elven prince, "although with
     many misgivings.  You must know how important it is for Llendora to
     remain hidden from the Forces of Darkness.  Before I decide how to deal
     with you, I must know how you were able to find our village."

     Lady Subia steps forward.  "Allow me to introduce myself, your
     highness. My name is Subia. I have spent my life in study of..."

     A host of eleven murmurs interrupt Subia's introduction. "Subia!" The
     Great Explorer!" "No wonder!" "Only she..."Prince Llesiton raises his
     hand for silence.

     "Your name is known," says the prince. "Obviously." A few giggles come
     from the other elves, but Llesiton's face remains stern.  He crosses
     his arms upon his chest. "You are well known and widely admired for you
     discoveries; your repute had reached even us, here in the depths of
     Gurtex. Yet you have no reputation for discretion.  On the contrary, you
     are known for publishing your discoveries to the world."

     "Your highness..."Subia begins, then pauses.

     This is the first time you have seen the Lady Subia at a loss for
     words.  You quickly step forward.  "your highness," you say, "you speak
     of the Lady Dubia's reputation in Deruvia, not i Gurtex.  In Deruvia,
     Subia strove to expose the Forces of Darkness to the Children of Light.
     In Gurtex, as we all know, the glove is on the other hand!  Subia has
     sought you out, not to expose you to Gurtex, but to hep protect you from
     it!"

     Subia smiles at you gratefully, then turns to the prince.  "That is
     correct, your highness.  LLendora's location is known to none but us, I
     assure you.  And I assure you that it will remain our secret when we
     leave as long as Gurtex is held by the Forces of Darkness."

     "Assure?" You assure us." says Prince Llesiton. "But will you swear?
     Will you swear you honor to the lost goddess Orninana to keep our
     secret?  If you do not swear, you are still welcome in Llendora, as I
     have said, but you will never be allowed to leave."

     The hall is now full of elves.  None of their bows are drawn that you
     can see, but many or strung and ready.  There are no more giggles.

     Subia steps closer to you.  "Oraniana was a vigilant goddess, but not
     mean or spiteful," she says. "I say we swear."

     You agree.  The party kneels and swears to Oraniana that Llendora's
     location will remain secret so long as the Forces of Darkness hold
     Gurtex.

     "It is well," Llesition says." You are now doubly welcome.  We will
     now speak of many things."

 25. The ghost's agonized screams suddenly change into doleful sobs.
     Your eyes begin to clear, and you fear becomes sympathy as you see the
     ghost as a motherly woman. "Speak no more!" she cries. "The news you
     bring in your thoughts is sufficient.  Allow me time to add the grief
     you bring to the anguish I already feel!"

     You feel her agony as if she were your own mother dropping to her
     knees and wailing before you.  Should you leave? Can you leave? As you
     ponder, the ghost rises. She repeats. "Speak no more.  Your thoughts are
     clear to me, and far from welcome, My son. my son. my only son..."
     Choking back tears, the ghost continues, "I am Ermethra, the mother of
     Horann, and the another of the forty who guarded the Four who guarded
     the Candle in Berbezza.  I can remember little, save following the
     captors of elden Zulidoni to the utmost of my power, and hoping that
     Horann, the pride of my life, had somehow escaped the massacre.

     "I cannot thank you for bringing word of my son.  Yet I must thank you
     for laying his soul to rest, and beg you to do the same for my own!  In
     return , I will assure you that the elden Zekke is trapped nearby and
     warn you that Zekke is guarded by a fearsome Naur!  May the good gods be
     with you!"

     The shade of Ermethra transforms back into the horrifying ghost.  But,
     beneath it, you can still see a puddle of tears....


                                -=USA/Fairlight=-
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