Sage of Shadowdale has something to say about pretty much everything.
Despite having pages in Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Adventures, and Polyhedron
Newszine, the Old Mage still has more to speak of the Realms. Not wanting
to anger an archmage, we decided it would be best to give him a weekly
column from which to discuss the finer points.
well, young one...
the Dark Sun
justifies the delays in repairing and renewing the temple in two ways.
He keeps a committee formed from his Exalted busy debating whether or
not the holy grounds should be expanded north, involving the expense of
a new wall and a loss of some of the Blackrukth, or expanded into land
occupied by private dwellings, which will involve the cost of purchasing
such holdings and--to gain local support--relocating the inhabitants to
new dwellings at temple expense. The only empty ground near the temple
lies due east, and is swampy land beyond the often-flooded East Pantry;
its soggy condition has already caused that area of the wall to sink alarmingly.
route to ongoing delay is through his own loudly-lamented (and trumped-up)
difficulties in finding workers he can trust. He insists that anyone setting
foot inside the temple proper must be an avowed and demonstrably enthusiastic
(through services or generous offerings) worshipper of the Dark Sun--and
claims that his attempts to lure Cyricists who are masons or roofers or
timberers from other places have thus far failed--the faith of True Darkness
is flourishing so that all such crafters have long lists of tasks not
yet begun, and Voonlar would only take its place very far down on them.
scheming Dark Patriarch of Voonlar governs a Dark Blessed consisting of
thirty human males: two Dark Hands (6th-level Fighters); four Blacksun
Scourges (3rd-level Fighters); eight Sunshadows (2nd-level Fighters);
and sixteen Fingers of Cyric (4th-level Fighters).
are the well-trained (and locally deeply-hated, as the brutes who with
club and blade and dog fangs carry out temple policy--and are not above
"accidentally" torching the carts, produce stores, and even
homes of those they dont like the looks of) temple guards. Hailing
from larger Cyricist temples and sent to Voonlar to replace warriors lost
to adventurer raids, they are expert sentinels. Practiced in the use of
longswords and short bows, they wear plate armor and use shields (unlike
their chainmailed predecessors), employing six war-dogs whenever they
are sent outside the holy temple grounds (kenneled next to, but kept apart
from, the Mad Black Hounds, in stone cells set into the walls on either
side of the north gate). Gormstadd quite rightly regards most of them
as spies set upon him by Cyricists elsewhere, and is careful to act every
inch the loyal and even fanatical priest of the Dark Sun at all times
when he might be under their observation.
also well aware that although the most recklessly ambitious of his clergy
are among the youngest Sunshadows, the real danger to him comes from possible
treachery on the part of his two Dark Hands, Meirgin "Daggers"
Windtalon and Bastabar Yulgont. Gormstadd has been careful to foster a
feud between them, playing one off against another until their hatred--masked
by silken politeness that fools no one--is so deep and savage that they
can never hope to work together against the Dark Patriarch.
has been heard to call the two "my true vipers," undoubtedly
a reference to the old maxim, "Temples of dark gods are truly nests
of vipers; the power of such deities is most clear when one considers
how seldom the snakes fang each other."