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 Suns Embrace
known as "the Hand of the Dark One" (a title unchanged from
its days as a stone personally consecrated by Bane himself), the altar
is a smooth-surfaced, rectangular block of black stone as large as a wagon.
It is laid crosswise to the long approach aisle, right at the front of
the sanctum (at the head of the seven steps that ascend from the benches
of the faithful). During services, this altar is customarily flanked by
two man-high lit metal tripod braziers and covered with items used during
rituals, and sometimes by sacrifices.
times, offerings are placed upon the altar by worshippers who are allowed
to approach it only within a girdle of chains held by watchful priests.
This ritual denotes the pious humility of the supplicant submitting to
the control of the god, but the priests will haul on the chains without
hesitation to snatch a supplicant away from the altar to prevent defiling
the altar or pilfering of the other offerings from it. (Defilement is
usually by spitting on the altar, but can also be by suffering it to be
touched by something consecrated to another god. Most often this is a
weapon used to strike the altar, but it can be deliberately-spilled holy
water--which often causes strange, shrieking fires to arise where it touches--or
even an unwittingly-placed item of offering.)
believe that the massive altar can be shoved aside to reveal a treasure-pit
heaped with the bones of all temple priests whove died in town,
who are customarily interred therein to yield undead guardians for the
temple. Moving the altar would take many strong people, straining together.
However, lay servants have confirmed that yokes and pry-beams are kept
ready at the back of the temple, providing substance to the rumor.
bands have twice reported that the carved Sun can emit rays of ravening
magical power from its eyes and the tips of its rays. These effects demonstrably
occur under the direct control of priests standing in the sanctum. One
of these witnesses, the mage Hastaltun of Athkatla from Kalamdaers
Hands (once of Athkatla and more recently of Ormath) believes that these
defenses derive from the unleashed powers of a number of wands mounted
in the carving; the wands are enchanted to allow them to be aimed and
triggered from below, probably by any beings wearing one of several control
devices (enspelled armbands seem most likely). On the other hand, the
warrior Halver Durstread, of the same band, swears that a death tyrant
or other magically-controlled beholder must be imprisoned within the carving,
and magically compelled to unleash its powers under priestly commands.
the truth of the matter, its clear that "the Dark Blessed"
(as the clergy of the temple are collectively called) can call on accurate
beams of magical force, no larger across than a mans hand, to stab
out all over the Hallowed Hall from either the Sun, the altar, or somewhere
else in or over the sanctum, at their direction, against any being they
deem dangerous--and that on occasions one priest of the temple has used
these powers against one of his fellow priests, though this has demonstrably
involved some sort of intense mental struggle for control of the temple