BECMI Berserkers

Night's Dark Terror (game 4)

The Crowning of a New King

Heading deeper into Xitaqa, the party takes note of the strange architecture of the abandoned city; squared sandstone buildings built into the face of the plateau so that they burrow deeper within. Peering into these, the party find that they have been home to baboons and other wild things.

As they turn a bend in the gully, Dhavram notices a larger than normal premises on the north side. Approaching on his own, he is suddenly rushed by a huge male baboon who stops abruptly on feet away from the steel-clad cleric. The baboon screams threateningly, obviously protecting something within and Dhavram backs away, getting the message.

Turning their attention to the gully ahead of them, the party notice that a stone door seems to be positioned somewhat below the shadow of the Xitaqa tower. Assuming the tower to be where “Skinny-Legs” must be, they decide to try their luck.

The door opens with some effort onto what looks like a crypt. The party becomes suspicious immediately when it seems that the area is a bit too clean and even free of dust. Heading in cautiously, they don’t get far before being attacked by a pair of Gelatinous Cubes. Thinking them a foe too far, the party retreat, slam the door and rethink their plans.

Another building gets their attention just south of where they are. With doors a little more extravagant then some of the others around, a little examination reveals some faded graffiti: a yellow tower with the words Faz-Plak on them. Thinking they have found the lair of the Faz-Plak goblins, the party get ready to raid the tribe.

Dhavram bursts through first, crushing one with his mace whilst Padraig and Shorty take out a couple with arrows. The fight is quick and dirty, but suddenly there are reinforcements from the next room; larger goblins and what looks like a goblin-king wearing a battered crown of copper and bones on his head.

The ensuing battle is over quickly as the goblins are hopelessly overpowered. The King is killed and the rest surrender, including a surviving bodyguard. After some questioning it is clear the bodyguard won’t talk, However, it is noticed that he often looks at the crown so the offer of kingship is made to the bodyguard in return for information. The party learns that Skinny Legs is indeed in the tower and the quickest way through is via the crypt or that they can take the front door which is heavily guarded. The party decide to recoup and chance the crypt, watching the new King of the Faz-Plak attend to his fawning subjects all the while.

Vlack Falls

The party leave the Faz-Plaks and once again make a sally against the crypt. This time they are prepared and entice the Gelatinous Cubes to chase them back to the doorway which is too small for the cubes to pass through, meaning the unintelligent jellies are dispatched easily with arrows.

Moving through the crypt it is apparent that the party are below the tower. A stairway leads up to a large chamber with rich tapestries and several doorways, one of which seems to lead upwards. A low growl lets them know they are not alone and suddenly they are rushed by a massive white wolf. As it nears the party it breathes a cone of ice that has a devastating effect on Shorty and Dhavram. And to make things worse, another cry from across the room is heard and another Ice Wolf bounds from behind a tapestry, this time ridden by a huge hobgoblin guiding it by his knees and wielding a two-handed sword.

The party know this must be Vlack and throw everything into the battle. A Sleep spell is used which downs the wolves, but Vlack jumps off elegantly to continue the fight. Not an unintelligent hobgoblin, Vlack rouses the wolves with hard kicks and the party are back where they were; facing hideously ferocious opponents with depleting resources.

To make matters worse, through a door at one end of the room can be heard the charging of reinforcements. Quickly, Arakin sprints to the door to cast Hold Portal just before it starts banging with attempts to break it down. Swords and axes start to break through and all the while the battle with Vlack and the Ice Wolves is in the balance.

Finally, the party bring down one of the wolves and soon another follows. Vlack is last to fall and it is at this point that the held door bursts open just in time for Arakin to Web the hobgoblins who blindly charge in. The party begin killing them whilst they are incapacitated.

When the dust settles the party assess themselves and decide they cannot go forward any time soon. Retreating into the crypt they make camp to heal. This takes a few days and it is clear from noises in the room above that their invasion is discovered. From the sounds the party discern a large gruff creature and someone else ordering it around.

This is not the only growling heard. During this spell of rest, it is noted that Dhavram is acting strangely during the night; occasionally whining and barking. Dhavram is blissfully unaware but has wonderful dreams about eating people, although he’s not clear why he’s eating people. What is put together is that Dhavram has caught Lycanthropy from the recent fight with werewolves and needs to have the curse removed quickly. However, the nearest possible cure is in Threshold and even then it’s not known if Patriarch Sherlane can help. Dhavram resolves to head there once Skinny-Legs is dealt with.

Skinny and Hairy

Surprisingly the party is not confronted and even the door is unlocked when they decide to reenter the tower. Heading upwards they move through a couple of floors before reaching a door which, from the sounds beyond, seems to lead to a room in which some kind of interrogation is taking place. They are sure they hear Stephen’s voice beyond and open the door.

What greets them is confusing. The room is empty but there are definitely voices within. Suddenly a door opposite opens and a yellow-robed man appears from nowhere as he rushes through it and up the stairs beyond. Before the party can give chase, an angry snort alerts them to the fact there is something else in here, whilst Stephen’s voice also rings loudly “Watch out!!”

Dhavram enters the room and completely disappears from view – it seems the room makes everyone invisible. What ensues is chaos.

A great bellow erupts from the room and the invisible Dhavram and Shorty find themselves up close and personal with a large hairy…thing that snorts a lot. In desperation Arakin flings a Web into the room, which ends up pinning Dhavram, Shorty and the thing up against each other and a glass wall that no one can see. Most attempts to hurt the creature fail due to the situation, but its immense strength destroys the Web in under a minute and it leaves the room to attack Arakin and Padraig in the stairwell, revealing itself to be a Minotaur. It makes for Padraig who throws up a Mirror Image to avoid getting damaged. However, now visible the minotaur falls as the party gang up on the creature and bring it down, but not before a lot of tripping over each other whilst Invisible.

After a quick bit of healing, Stephen is located in the invisibility room and brought to the stairwell. He is found to be quite beaten up, but is grateful to be rescued. Not wanting the man in the yellow robe to get away, who Stephen explains is called Golthar (Skinny-Legs), the party run up to the next level of the tower, but not before equipping Stephen with some of the loot from Vlack.

When there they exit from the stairwell into a smaller chamber with oil paintings on the walls all around the circular room. No other exits are apparent, but two jade statues stand at the circumference halfway across the room. No sooner does the party reach the statues when they animate and attack Stephen. In the same moment, Dhavram and Shorty fall victim to a Hold Person spell cast from behind one of the paintings. Stephen knocks a big chunk out of one of the statues with his new two-handed sword, but the keep coming. Arakin and Padraig try to locate the spellslinger from behind the paintings but are unable to do so before being hit by several Magic Missiles.

It is looking bleak for the party when it only gets worse. A Sleep spell puts both Arakin and Padraig down and the entire party is defenceless. It is up to Stephen.

Arakin and Padraig are woken by an urgent Stephen who is covered in jade splinters and dust. He shouts that Golthar is behind the paintings and goes to smash one down but sets off a Lightning trap. Stunned, he is momentarily useless. Padraig jumps through the picture to see an open secret door and a stairwell beyond leading upwards. At that point there is a massive explosion from above.

Reaching the top of the stairwell, Arakin, Padraig and Stephen arrive just in time to find a smoke-filled chamber with a large hole blown out of the stone wall. Peering through they see multiple Golthars flying westwards in an attempt to escape, obviously under the effect of a Mirror Image spell. Too far to be attacked he evades capture.

After the dust settles, the party rest and Dhavram and Shorty both emerge unhurt from being held. A search of Golthar’s chamber reveals a wealth of treasures and riches, but the party are more interested in Stephen’s tale. He relays the following:

After being captured during the goblin attack at Ilyakana, I was taken, with others, to the Wolfskull (Kloss-lunk) lair and thence to Xitaqa. At Xitaqa, Golthar interrogated the prisoners, demanding to know where the “golden tapestries” were hidden. I realised that the tapestry in the hall at Sukiskyn was of the kind that Golthar sought and, although I would not divulge this, I could not conceal the fact that I knew. None of the other prisoners knew, however, and they were taken from the tower; I do not know where to. In the long days before your arrival, Golthar interrogated me and, from his questions, I was able to work out the secret of the special tapestry and the riches it might lead to.

Stephen then points to a small ebony box found amongst the treasure containing a silver needle and some gold thread and says that they have to get it to Sukiskyn immediately.

After a short rest, the party get ready to make their way to Sukiskyn, but it is at this point that Dhavram resolves to travel to Threshold to be cured of Lycanthropy. It is decided that he goes alone under the protection of an Invisibility spell provided by Arakin and the rest of the party wave him a fond farewell.

Pytor is overjoyed to see his brother return to Sukiskyn and puts on a massive feast that everyone at the homestead is invited to; even the refugees. Stephen obtains a translation of instructions in a strange language that were present in the ebony box and gathers only the family and party around the tapestry in the great hall. Carrying out the instructions, Stephen touches the tapestry with the needle and thread and everyone watches as it leaps out of his hand and completely transforms it into a map of the region, but as it was hundreds of years ago. Glowing clearly in the top left is a region in the mountains north of Threshold, which Stephen says is wild and untamed. He is eager to set off as soon as possible with the party to see what it is that Golthar wanted so badly.

As for Dhavram, he reaches Threshold safely and gains an audience with Patriarch Sherlane at the Tarnskeep to ask he helps remove the Lycanthropy from him. After the exchange of a few pleasantries, it comes to costing the party 5,000gp for the Patriarch to cast Remove Curse. Dhavram pays this gladly and catches a lift back to Sukiskyn on Cardia’s Magic Carpet.

An so endeth the session…

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Night's Dark Terror (game 3)

Wolfskull Crushers

Whilst back at the homestead, it is noticed that Sukiskyn is attracting a number of refugees. Amongst them is a strange and alien man from the Ethengar Khanate called Arakin of the Bortaks. Arakin is a man who doesn’t deal well in large groups of people, avoiding physical contact with them at all costs, so jumps at the chance to try and improve his magical skills with the adventurers. His help is gratefully accepted.

The party head back to the petrified forest to seek the Wolfskulls and are not disappointed. About a mile into the stone trees they encounter a raiding party. Short work is made of them and the trail they made is followed back towards a fast flowing black river, with what looks like a stone fortress on the opposite bank made out of fallen petrified trees.

Arakin demonstrates his usefulness quickly, using Invisibility to help the party scout out the entrance. After this, the party attack, despatching Wolfskull guards and wolves alike. Padraig has fun firing arrows at the fearsome dire wolves which are chained up until one breaks free and charges him. He aided though by other characters who have just felled their opponents.

The rest of the exploration of the petrified fort is a mix of combat and exploration, during which the party encounter Thouls and Giant Ferrets before destroying Kloss, the King of the Wolfskulls. A thorough search of the complex reveals a well decorated room out of kilter with the rest of the place; clues of machinator directing the Wolfskulls.

What the party also find is an old woman who was captured from the goblin raid on Cherkass. Calling herself Babushka, she relays the following:

She was captured during the goblin raid on Cherkass along with a young girl; They were brought to the Kloss-lunk lair and put in a cell. Later they were joined by five other prisoners including Pyotr’s brother Stephen; The goblins seemed to be under the command of a big hobgoblin called Vlack; The hobgoblins and goblins wanted to know where “The Great Map” was, but the prisoners did not know; A few days ago some goblins wearing iron collars arrived and took the prisoners to “the old ruins at Xitaqa”, where “old skinny-legs” would get some answers from them. Babushka was left behind because she is too old to travel.

The party conduct a thorough search of the stone-tree fortress and find a wealth of treasures before heading back to Sukiskyn with Babushka.

Horseman on the moor

Pyotr is dismayed at the news about Stephen being taken elsewhere and has absolutely no idea about the location of a place called Xitaqa. However his mother Kuzma, an ageing cleric, suggests summoning the “Horseman on the moor”. Pyotr and his wife, Darya, scoff at the idea but the party has no more leads. Not knowing what to expect, they head out to the moor to carry out the instructions to summon the Horseman: that is whistling at midnight whilst standing on one leg for the next three nights.

The Horseman arrives on the second night and is quite clearly a centaur of some sought. Accompanied by three warhorses, the Horseman greets the party’s horses first before introducing himself as Loshad and asking why his counsel is required. When questioned about Xitaqa, Loshad tells them that he will give the location if the party destroy the dread werewolves Bailakask and Kalkask for him. Mother and son, these werewolves have been causing mayhem on the moor, killing horses and other wildlife indiscriminately. Also, Loshad wants the party to set their horses free within 28 days of this bargain. The party agree and Loshad gives the location of Bailakask’s lair.

Bailakask and Kalakask

Heading from Sukiskyn the next morning, it takes over a day and a half to reach the landmarks the Horseman described. A cave sitting in a rocky outcrop of the Volaga river. The entrance is a narrow, natural tunnel which the adventurers may not have found if they hadn’t known it was there.

Hobbling their horses some distance away, the group move forward towards the lair. All seems a bit too quiet as they move together into what opens up as a rocky clearing with numerous caves coming off it. As the party inch forward they are suddenly rushed by two massive werewolves and 6 normal lupines. The battle is fierce and for a while the gods do not smile on the luck of the characters, but fortune turns and the beasts are felled. Their heads are taken as trophies as evidence for Loshad.

Looking around the caves a bit closer reveals some treasure kept by Bailakask and her son, but what is also found is a trail up high to the rocky outcrop where a statue of a strange creature is found; a humanoid with what looks like a jackal-type head. The party take their leave of the place and head back to Loshad with the trophies. Loshad is pleased and lets them know the location of Xitaqa; an ancient site on the banks of the Volaga, far from any recent trade routes. The party thanks Loshad, promising to make good on the bargain to loose their horses within a matter of weeks.

Heading to Xitaqa

The next day the party head to where they are supposed to find Xitaqa and after a further day’s travel, ford the Volaga and spot, exactly as the Horseman said it would be, a broken tower rising above an escarpment beyond the ford. At its foot, hidden amongst tangled gullies, are the ruins of Xitaqa, carved from the rock of the escarpment; homes built into the earth.

As the adventurers neared the ruins, a troop of rock baboons suddenly broke from their hiding place and ambushed them. After a tough fight, the baboons were defeated and the party explored deeper into Xitaqa, heading for the ruined tower…

And so ended this session…

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Night's Dark Terror (game 2)

Rescuing the horses

After a cursory search of the area around Sukiskyn, the party discover the camps of the three Goblin tribes and a few trinkets left behind. Also discovered was a Calarii elf prisoner called Padraig, who was travelling in the area seeking white horses for his clan. The party inform him that they are helping the local homesteader corral his herd of white horses and an extra hand is always needed. Padraig joins the party.

It isn’t long before Pytor asks the party to go after the horses taken by the Vipers during the night. Offered reasonable compensation the party agree and make their preparations, borrowing some of Sukiskyn’s riding horses. Taras, Pytor’s son, also wants to go and so joins the group.

The party head off east following a trail that is easily identifiable. After about 10 miles it turns south into the Dymrak Forest and after only a few hundred yards they reach a clearing and the scene of a gruesome battle where the Viper goblins have been attacked and massacred. Upon some of the dead a group of Oil Beetles are feeding, but they quickly sense live flesh and rush the party. The fight is a short one, with the party victorious, but during it a Viper hidden in a tree tried to escaped but is quickly thwarted and captured.

Interrogating the female goblin the party discover that the Vipers were chased and caught by wolf-riding Wolfskulls and that she is the only survivor. Many of the horses were killed but the rest were taken south through the forest. After gaining this information the party dispose of the goblin and head south.

The trail turns south east and after about 6 miles leads to an area with three old abandoned wagons, tented over to become tented accommodation. Beyond them is a small pen with horses in them, a great many of them white. No sooner does the party begin approaching the wagons when a shifty looking human appears from the shadows of a nearby tree and asks the party’s business. After a short conversation, a masculine looking female elf appears from one of the wagon-tents and introduces herself as Fyodorll. When asked to give back the horses she refuses but is willing to sell them for 50gp each.

Taras is outraged and demands the horses are handed back. This angers the ‘guards’, of which there are now four. Despite Fyodorll warning that a fight will turn ugly for the party, they resort to combat. Two bandits go down quickly, but Fyodorll casts a sleep spell and leave only Shorty and Dhavram standing. They both go for the elf who is put to death quickly. The other two bandits decide enough is enough and make a run for it.

Taras is overjoyed and starts seeing to the horses whilst the rest of the party are woken up. A total of 24 white horses are recovered, plus 8 brown ones. A further 2 warhorses are also there. Taras tells the party they are welcome to any of these 10 horses on returning to Sukiskyn and handing back the one’s that they borrowed.

Return to Sukiskyn

The journey back is not uneventful, and the party intercept a group of male refugees from Ilyakana heading to Sukiskyn. They are made up of Gregor the Lumberjack-boss (27), Yuri the Smith (38) and his twin assistants Grishka and Grishall (20). They inform the party that they were attacked two nights ago bby Wolfskulls and Red-blades and managed to hide; the crew of Kalanos’ boat have perished or been captured although Kalanos escaped into the woods; Pytor’s brother Stephen was one of the ones captured.

On return to Sukiskyn in the evening, Pytor’s joy at seeing the horses is shortlived when he hears of Stephen’s capture. Although he holds a small celebration to honour the characters, it is subdued. Whilst showing them around a slightly tided up Sukiskyn hall, he ones again asks the party to help him by seeking out his brother and offers half the proceeds from the sale of the white horses in Rifllian. He has no idea where the Wolfskull lair is although he knows the Vipers and Red-blades are to the southeast. The party accept the offer and set off in the morning. Taras remains at Sukiskyn, content to have found the horses.

In search of goblins

The party heads east and southeast into the Dymrak Forest seeking the lairs of the goblin tribes. Their first tactic is to start from the bandit camp and see if a goblin trail can be found from there. None is found but the party head deeper south into the forest anyway. By pure luck they stumble upon a clearing next to a sheer rockface, in which is a crude door with a red sword daubed on the front and standing slightly ajar. After waiting for signs of goblins the party edge towards the entrance. Padraig notices a strange flapping of wings inside and is about to tell the others when they are attacked by 6 stirges flying out of the cave. However, the party once more make short work of the encounter and after a quick bit of healing head into the cave.

Within it is apparent the cave is abandoned. Another fight is had with a swarm of giant rats but the party is mostly unscathed and more importantly un-diseased. Navigating the tunnels they come across a solid iron-bound oak door. After taking the usual precautions they enter the obviously important room and find the Red-blades’ treasure trove. Within is a tapestry, a large ruby and a yew chest bound in iron. One of the party grabs the ruby whilst the chest is searched for traps. When none are found the chest is opened, causing the real trap, the ruby, to explode. The damage isn’t as bad as it could have been though and the party survive to recover a number of coins from the chest, as well as a couple of potions. With the Red-blade hideout thoroughly searched and no sign of Stephen, the party head off to seek either the Vipers or the Wolfskulls.

Taking a systematic approach to searching the forest takes time, but the party is rewarded with the discovery of the Viper lair; set in the rock wall on the far side of a slow running stream is a swollen wooden door with a snake symbol carved into it. The door is barred but unguarded, probably due to the losses had by the tribe. The party smash it down and move inside what seems like a cave complex. However, not far in they are set upon by 7 Viper goblins using a rough barricade to hinder the party’s progress. The party rush the barricade, forcing the surviving goblins back further into the complex. After some difficulties navigating the unground labyrinth, the Vipers are cornered and make their last stand. The encounter is difficult though, as the Viper leader slings live rock pythons as weapons. These poisonous snakes raise the anxiety of the heroes but they are not poisoned themselves and quickly kill off the last of the Viper tribe. Some treasure is found in the form of coins and potions.

After destroying two goblin tribes it’s only the Wofskulls that remain elusive. Searching further east and south in the Dymrak reveals a part of the forest that had experienced some kind of blight, effectively petrifying a huge area of trees. Not long into the stone trees, the party is attacked by giant bats. The blood-sucking capabilities of the bats lay low Dren the Halfling, who always had a phobia of flappy-things. The bats are only just defeated and the party and very much worse for wear, and so head back to Sukiskyn for some rest and recuperation.

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Night's Dark Terror (game 1)

The Hiring

The party find themselves in Kelven, a small and thriving frontier town in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Whilst visiting a local inn, they are approached by a man called Stephen looking for a group to help out his brother Pyotr. Pyotr owns a farmstead, Sukiskyn, away to the east, and makes a living catching and taming wild horses. Recently, a herd of white horses was captured and Pyotr hopes to sell them for a fine price to the Callarii tribe of elves, as the white horse is their ancient tribal symbol. He needs help to take them to Rifflian, north and west of Kelven, where the main horse-trading occurs.

Stephan offers 100gp each for the job, as well as free food and lodgings, and free transport upriver. Stephan lets you know that a boat, owned by a man named Kalanos, will leave in a week’s time.

River Tidings

The week passes without event and the party boards a large rowing boat heading upriver so that they can be dropped off at Misha’s Ferry, which is a day’s walk from Sukiskyn. The boat is ‘Captained’ by Kalanos, a 40-year-old man with black, receding hair. He and his 8-man crew welcome you and get you comfortable for the journey.

After a few miles on the river, the banks become forested and not long after that the boat slams into a chain that has been placed across the river. A hail of arrows follow from the south bank and you realise you are under attack. The south bank is held by over 20 men, several of whom have dived into the river and are swimming to the boat. As the crew get ready to repel boarders, one of them pulls out a dagger and attacks the party. He is quickly put down by his ex-comrades whilst Sirius the Mage puts the swimmers to sleep and sets them to drowning.

The battle is swift, with Kalanos bearing the brunt of injuries with a heroic dash to shore to defeat the bandit leader. A search of the bodies reveals some branding and manacle scars but this means nothing to anyone. The river chain is removed and the boat sets off again.

By evening the party reach Misha’s Ferry which is just a small jetty and boat and wood cabin. Misha herself is nowhere to be found, but Kalanos explains that she is probably ‘out in the woods with her bear again’.

The party make themselves comfortable in the cabin and fall asleep. They are woken in the night by the growling of an angry bear, which after a while gets bored and leaves. Further into the night a woman’s body is found floating in the Volaga. From her druidic type garb the party determines that it is Misha and that her demise was brought about by bite marks around her neck. The party bury Misha in the morning and head to Sukiskyn.

The Siege of Sukiskyn

The trip takes most of the day, but close to evening you smell woodsmoke and then hear the harsh cries of a battle. Hurrying onward you survey a small homestead, Sukiskyn you presume, which is under attack from many goblins from all sides. Not being able to gather your thoughts you are ambushed from the flanks of the trail and have to put down a contingent of 8 goblins in wolfskin cloaks. When the fight seems near to the end, the party become aware of a group of 7 goblin wolf-riders heading their way. At the same time a shout comes from Sukiskyn – the gates are being held open for the party to escape into. They make it – just! But still have to repel some of the wolf riders before all is safe for a while.

You are welcomed by a man named Taras and his wife Alfana, who rush you towards the main buildings. You can see the barn is on fire and that much of the surrounding palisade will collapse soon.

Once in the main building, you pass through a number of rooms before being brought to Pyotr. He explains that the battle is the latest in a number of goblin attacks on homesteads in the area and that for some reason different tribes of goblins are working together. Three different tribes, made up of the Wolfskulls, the Red-blades and the Vipers have been attacking them. However, the Vipers left when they destroyed the barn and stole the white horses. Pytor humbly asks for the party’s help to defend Sukiskyn against the goblins until dawn, when the sun will force the goblins back to their caves.

The night passes, but not without event. Raucous drum beats come from the goblins and the party even witness the dragging of a screaming woman from another homestead into the forest to be…well they can only guess what.

Before dawn, the Wolfskulls give up the fight and head off in the direction of the Vipers, presumably to exact revenge. However, the Red-blades make a final assault. At the same time, a group of vampire bats come out of nowhere to infiltrate the building, sending everyone into panic. Sirius is hopelessly exposed. Having situated himself at the top of the tower to watch he did not expect a flying enemy. Bitten and drained of blood, the mage passes to the next world.

Before long the Red-blades gain entrance into the main building and it becomes Sukiskyn’s last stand. However, the goblins have already taken heavy loses from some inspired shooting from the bedroom windows. Shorty, Drendon and Dhavram pull out some heroic stops with the help of Pyotr and his family before the Gnhass, the Red-blade king, falls to the party’s steel. The Battle of Sukiskyn is won, but the party is wounded and depleted and the horses are stolen.

With the party mourning the loss of Sirius, Pyotr’s mother Kyama explains that conventional lore has it that those killed by vampire bats rise to become a vampire themselves. Although they find it difficult, the party remove Sirius’ head and bury it separately from his body, accompanied by the prayers of Dhavram.

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