ER:Peaceful Dead

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An unseen, but most definitely encountered, cadre of (probably) people in the Errant Road on-line free-form role-playing game. Needless to say (and definitely for the best in this case), they don't exist in the Poe-verse.

The Peaceful Dead are the key figures -- "antagonists" doesn't exactly do them justice -- in an eerie series of encounters in the thread complex centered on the southern Veracian town of Provatiel. They get their name from Lillith, who is one of several adventurers (the usual ones surrounding Sister Rose) who have been tasked to retrieve the Artifact of Absonial from an archaeological dig near town. Something about a forest they pass through on the way to the archaeological site makes them uneasy, so Lillith puts her skills at reading the "spirits" to work and comes up with the name, although she isn't aware yet just how sinister those "spirits" are.

Lillith's explanation sheds a bit of light on what she's experiencing, and Rose draws a parallel, if not an actual connection, between the spirits here and those of the Stalwarts, an ancient sect of the Veracian Church that agreed to be put into a death-like state and buried(!) until it was time for them to rise again and defend Luminosita and Veracia. Rose is well aware that, when the Mage/Priest Wars started, the Stalwarts did not rise again, and some of them remain interred to this day, still waiting and causing certain problems for the Church. However, as far as she knows (and she would probably know), there are no Stalwart burials anywhere near Getsemiel, certainly none to protect an artifact that the Church didn't even know about when the Stalwarts were created. So just what are these things whose unquiet spirits are marked by the trees?

An answer isn't long in coming, as first Lillith and later Harker are, for lack of a better word, "possessed" by some kind of spirit emanating from where the Peaceful Dead are buried, before being extracted from their possessed state by the ministrations of Rose and Argus. Drusia also makes contact, but without the possession part of the deal, learning that the Peaceful Dead are no great lovers of elves, who might be the "abomination" that they went into their death-like state to defend against, and also that they know nothing of the Artifact of Absonial. This, plus a mental sneer from the most powerful mind speaking to Drusia from beyond the grave, convinces Rose that the Peaceful Dead have nothing to do with the Stalwarts, and aren't just a sad leftover from before the War, but a current, potentially very dangerous threat. Harker's possession follows at this stage and drives the point home very clearly, as whoever or whatever is doing the possessing exhorts the other buried spirits to "rise." The combined mental efforts of the spiritual members of the party (and a well-timed whack on Harker's head by the less spiritually inclined Argus) drive them back, and Lillith begins a rite intended to calm the spirits and dismiss them from their half-existence to a more permanent eternity. And so it does ...

... Except that at the end, one small, child-like voice is heard in Rose's mind, saying "Wait! Please don't go! I don't want to be left here among these dead minds for all eternity! I'll behave, I promise I will! PLEASE don't leave me..." This strikes a motherly chord in Rose, and she promises solemnly that when the group has finished their business with the Artifact, they (or at least she) will come back for the deserted, lonely spirit.

Some time later, after the Artifact has been retrieved, the group heads back out of the canyon where the Peaceful Dead were buried, but not before the solitary spirit gets back in touch with Rose and pleads for her not to leave him there (which, of course, she has no intention of doing anyway). After a hair-raising moment involving Maduin, who somehow terrifies the spirit, the combined efforts of most of the group succeed in raising a child's body and re-uniting it with the terrified spirit that had been its soul in life. The boy, who turns out to be named Jedidiah Bindiel, is found to be living, and with some delicate care, eventually makes a full recovery by the time the shaken group makes it back to Provatiel, with the rest of the Peaceful Dead having been successfully dismissed -- probably.

All in all, a long story, even with much of it omitted for (relative) brevity, and one that was deeply gripping for the players as their characters played it all out; an example of Errant Road at its best.

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