Daelynn – Story 6 – A Devil in the Dark
Something haunts the lower levels of Tymora's temple. A reliquary has been looted, the entombed have been disturbed, and priests have gone missing. Daelynn – elf, rogue, and the goddess' Divine Seeker – is sent below to discover what threatens the temple. (Not Beta-read. Hope you enjoy. Constructive criticism is welcome.)
Chapter 1 – What Lies Below
Many of the acolytes found it un-nerving to have to retrieve or store items in the Temple's lower vaults, especially at night. With lanterns lit, junior priests, and even some of the more senior clergy, travelled in twos, and made jokes to stave off that nameless dread that accompanied their passage through the silent, dark, deserted corridors. Several priests, reliable elder brothers, had seen the dark form slinking through the lower levels. No longer rumor or ghost story – something lurked beneath Tymora's Temple. Tonight, there was no humor in the stories told at the communal dining table.
At the end of that day's vesper service, Mistress Alline stood, and in place of a benediction, addressed Tymora's gathered clergy.
"I have heard the stories regarding a 'monster' haunting our Temple's lower levels. This gossip, not a practice of which I approve, must stop. No two tales agree on anything – it is tall and thin, or short and fat; it is fanged, or has claws, or carries a sword. It is a beast, or maybe a man. Really! The rumormongering ends, now! I shall Commune with Tymora, tonight, and learn what it is that has her priests acting like frightened children. Return to your cells. Say your prayers. And Tymora's blessings be upon you."
Once the priests and lay clergy had filed out of the chapel, Alline turned and spoke to the lone remaining cleric.
"Master Kelln, where are Brother Gregory and Sister Iliss? They had better not be… entwined… in his cell again!"
Kelln, one of the Temple's most senior priests, heir apparent to Alline's exalted station, and the appointed ward of the neophyte clerics, hid a small smile from his Preceptress.
"Sister Iliss has been excused from her temple duties. A family matter", intoned the man. "As for Brother Gregory, I sent him to the Reliquary to fetch a more formal altar cloth for The Smiling Lady's Feast Day."
Kelln paused. "He should have been back by now. He may have decided to not attend the vesper service, believing his errand earned him merit."
Preceptress Alline's brow started to furrow. Kelln quickly assured his superior that he would check on Brother Gregory's whereabouts, then hurried off to do just that.
Having the chapel to herself, Alline stood in front of the small altar, adjusted her robes and focused her breathing. It was time to consult Tymora, and assuage the wholly unjustified fears of her clergy. Clasping her holy symbol, she began to Commune with her goddess.
After a lifetime of devotion to The Smiling Lady, Alline found most of her prayers quickly answered and almost always with that flash of the goodwill, if not outright humor, for which Tymora was known. But tonight, it was if the goddess had been waiting for Alline to call. Answers came almost before the questions could be asked. The cleric sensed a dread-filled urgency behind the soundless voice that echoed inside her head, answering her three questions. There is a danger to the Temple. It comes from the Underdark. Brother Gregory is with his Goddess.