Chapter #11

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Alindyar, 3rd level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 2nd/2nd/2nd level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 3rd/2nd level grey elf priest/mage (NG)
Halbarad, 3rd level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 3rd level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 4th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 2nd/2nd level half-elf fighter/druid (N)
Rob, 3rd level human priest (LG)

               XI.  The Dungeon of Lunok (Mongo's tale)

  The party climbed down the ladder.  The iron rungs were cold, and
most of the adventurers found themselves wishing for gloves.  Mongo,
for one, did not care one way or the other.  His weathered hands
grasped the bars tightly as he descended, second in line (Halbarad,
the ranger, went first, since he had much lighter armor and could
carry the lantern more easily while climbing).  The dwarf's plate
mail clanked somewhat loudly.  Mongo was having a hell of a time so
far in this place, having battled scrawny skeletons, rotting zombies,
winged deer, and wolfmen.  The dwarf wondered what sorts of deadly
monsters lurked below.  Hopefully, they would soon find out.  The
ranger reached the bottom, and momentarily Mongo landed next to him.
They were in a small cavern, maybe thirty feet by ten feet at the
most, and a spiral staircase led downward.  What architecture this
was!  Though not crafted by dwarves, the castle had proved to be
fascinating to Mongo thus far, though he somehow doubted that the
others were that impressed with its many features.
  The rest of the group entered the room shortly, and since room
was now getting limited, Mongo and Halbarad went down the stairs.
The circular steps were cut from the very stone itself, and led
down perhaps twenty feet.  The dwarf had an uncanny knack for the
judging of distances underground, much as Halbarad did in the
outdoors above.  At the foot of the staircase was a neatly cut,
squarish tunnel, leading off to the north and east.  Mongo looked
both ways, wondering which corridor would lead to more interesting



 |          ______     __________
 |         |      |   |         ~|       _____
 |     ____|      |   |        __|     /  ____  <-- TO CAVES
\|/   |  __       |   |__   __|      /  /
      | |  |~     |    __| |_______/  /
 /-\  | |  |______|   |     X~X     /____
|  /__| |_______    __|      X      __   |    N
 \______   ___  |__|  ______X_X____|  |  |   W+E
        |*|   |______|                |  |    S
      ________________________________| ~|
     |  _________________________________|    Key: $ = secret door
    /  |__________    ___________________          X = pit trap
   |          ____|  |  __               |         * = first magic mouth
   |         |   ____| |  |              |         ~ = rune on wall
  /        __|  |  ____|  |              |         # = second magic mouth
 |        |_____| |       |______________#

  The adventurers, now all down on this level, prepared to explore
the place.  Mongo noticed that the ceilings were about ten feet in
height - plenty of room for him, at least.  The place was generally
dry and musty, and smelled like very old stone, a smell that Mongo
was sure only he could tell apart from that of any other stone.
The party started off toward the east, but was stopped when someone
pointed out an alcove to the south.  A magical mouth, similar to
the one they had encountered earlier, started talking.  "GREETINGS.
BEAST."  The deep voice went on.  Mongo kind of hoped that it
would stop blabbering, for puzzles were not his favorite thing in
With that, the thing ceased its speech and was still.
  "Hmm", noted Ged with a puzzled look on his face.  "Another mind
game for us to solve.  How interesting."  Mongo didn't quite think
so, but he held his tongue for now.  Combat was much better, he
was sure of that.  The axe and the sword - now THOSE were the kind
of traveling companions a dwarf could trust at any time.  It wasn't
that he didn't like the company offered by his companions - their
adventures had been a lot of fun so far.  Mongo just wanted to hone
his fighting skills and test his mettle against a variety of the
world's monsters and evildoers.  Puzzles such as this were simply
a stepping stone to greater things, he felt.
  "Mayhap there lies great treasure within this place", the drow
was prattling.  He always seemed to say wordy things that made no
real sense to Mongo.  "Hopefully we shall find out what sort of
individual this Lunok was", continued the dark elf.  Halbarad was
quick to respond.  "Let's be on our way.  We have wasted enough
time here."  Right on!  Mongo gripped his leather-handled battle
axe and looked to the northern passage.  There was sure to be
something to do there.
  Following the dwarf's lead, though they didn't really know why,
the party moved north.  They soon found a room, after the passage
turned eastward, yet the chamber had no door.  Mongo wondered if
somebody else had been here before and kicked the door in already.
As the group entered the sizable room, a large cloud of green mist
writhed ahead of them.  The vapors quickly took shape, becoming a
large monster with a bird-like beak and sharp claws as well.  At
eight feet, the thing stood double Mongo's height, but this fact
did not faze the dwarven warrior.  As the creature, whatever the
hell it was, strode toward the adventurers, Mongo raised his axe
and charged it, screaming war cries with fervor.
  Big mistake.  The thing cast a sidelong glance at the oncoming
dwarf, and without any warning, he was scooped from his feet by
some invisible force.  Mongo hung in the air for the briefest of
seconds, and then was hurled back into the rear rank of the party.
He tried to avoid this outcome, but his limbs flailed uselessly
in the air, and the forceful impact bowled over both Rob and the
thief, Peldor.  Alindyar nearly got hit by the airborne dwarf as
well, but sidestepped neatly out of the way.
  Halbarad and Belphanior, as one, moved to attack the thing.  At
the same time, Ged began the casting of his magical missile, and
Alindyar moved his hands to create some other spell.  Peyote went
invisible, slipping his enchanted ring onto his finger.  With any
luck, this advantage would enable him to get close enough to the
monster to use his huge sword with deadly effect.  Belphanior,
the faster of the two meleeing the monster right now, attacked
it first, slashing at its shoulder.  The thing seemed to explode
into a flurry of motion, swinging its taloned hands at the pair
of opponents.  Not only did the elf's strike miss, but he was
struck across the head, and staggered backwards.  Halbarad's
attack was more accurate, though; the ranger got in a blow with
his small axe, opening a tiny cut in the monster's scaly gray
hide.  Then he, too, was struck by a backhanded swipe from the
thing, a blow which hurt quite a bit, even through his leather
  Ged let the missile fly, and the red bolt of energy zipped
toward its target.  As it hit the monster, however, it seemed
to shimmer and die, losing its power and fading into wisps of
nothingness.  "What the hell?", exclaimed the grey elf, as he
saw his powerful attack fail.  "What is this thing, that magic
will not work to injure it?"  Nearby, Alindyar cast his spell
also, a spray of color that hit the monster right in the face.
The magi were jubilant for a moment, then their smiles faded
as the shining colors broke apart and died out.  Alindyar was
not pleased.  "I suspect this creature to be a demon of some
kind", he spoke to his fellow mage.  "And if this is the case,
we are in dire straits indeed".  Ged could not agree more.
  The monster, stalking Halbarad, suddenly swept one huge arm
to the side, catching Peyote full in the side, as he became
visible from the attack.  The half-elf grunted with pain and
suprise, and then the arm's twin hit him too, and he crumpled
to the floor of the dungeon, unconscious.  The giant bastard
sword landed nearby with a "clang" of metal hitting stone.
Another similar sound happened then, as Mongo rose from the
dirty floor to one side.  His plate mail was dented in several
places, and blood ran down one side of his head from his
injury a minute before.  The human priest, Rob, was still
recovering from Mongo's unwilling time as a missile weapon.
Peldor was stunned for the moment and sat stupidly in one
corner of the room.
  It was up to him, Mongo saw.  The others were faring badly,
and the dwarf had not done much better.  But, he was the
closest to it now, and he set his jaw with determination as
he moved toward the thing again.  However, Belphanior reached
it first, hacking madly with his sword.  He actually hit the
creature, cutting its leg in a spray of black ichor, but then
it swatted him aside with one hand.  Immediately after that,
the monster pointed at the magi near the entrance of the
room, and a globe of blackness swallowed them up, just like
that.  Mongo thought it looked like the darkest night he had
ever seen, blocking the doorway like some great black blob.
The mages' cries of bewilderment and frustration issued from
the darkness zone, and would have been funny in any other
setting but this one, thought the dwarf.
  Mongo had had enough.  He leaped forward, trusting to his
instinct that the thing could not execute too many attacks
in such a short time period.  Apparently he was right, for
his axe bit deeply into the monster's torso, inflicting a
horrific wound on it.  The black blood flowed freely down
the thing's legs, and it gaped at the dwarf, utter hatred
etched on its ugly face.  It groped wildly at him, but he
was ready for this, and ducked its clumsy swings.  Mongo was
sure that the creature's attacks had not been so slow in
the time before he had wounded it.  His axe chopped into
it again, this time hitting it in the neck, and the thing
shrieked in agony, and actually backed off somewhat!
  Halbarad pulled himself to his feet nearby, and with a
sudden throw, buried his dagger in the monster's chest.
Mongo was very close to the beast already, and didn't want
it to get away from him.  He followed its retreat, though
it had nowhere to go, really, and chopped at its leg,
wounding it yet again.  The thing made a number of weak
attacks, some of which hit the dwarf.  In his state, blood
pumping through his body, adrenaline spurring him on to
greater and greater levels of strength, the blows did
nothing to slow him.  He hacked relentlessly at the
monster, and it toppled to the ground and died under the
rain of axe blows.  "Die, fucker!", shouted Mongo in his
moment of triumph, standing over the vanquished foe.  He
felt like he could take on an army and win right now.
  As the foul blood dripped from his axe, Mongo came to
his senses.  Halbarad clapped him on the shoulder with
a gloved hand.  "That was a fine show of arms, my friend.
Your prowess in battle is truly something to see."  The
others were now moving about slowly, binding their wounds
or helping the others.  Mongo felt that he had now proven
his worth without question, and was suddenly pleased to
be a member of this party (perhaps for the first time
since they had met).

  Soon, the group was ready to move on.  There was a rune
set into the western wall of the room, glowing like gold.
It was a simple one - the letter "B".  They noted this
and went on.  The party had to circle back to the alcove
where the magic mouth had been, and then they headed east
into a new room.  Halbarad's lantern illuminated the way,
much to Mongo's dismay; his eyes were bothering him today
and the bright lantern didn't help.  The group entered a
large room, and chose to go through the northern exit,
ignoring for now the eastern exit.
  The room they were about to enter was as dark as the
demon's magical globe had been.  Halbarad entered slowly,
and as soon as he was within the black area, his light
grew extremely dim.  Mongo wandered into the region of
darkness, but his infravision was useless here.  The
ranger was a bit ahead of him, but his lantern only gave
off light in a radius of a few inches.  The room seemed
to be empty, though; Mongo could hear no sounds of any
potential dangers lurking in the black void around him.
He stomped his armored foot on the ground, and caused
a loud noise that did not echo much at all.  Good enough,
then; the room wasn't that big.
  Soon, Halbarad and Mongo emerged from the darkness.
The ranger had located a rune like the one found before;
this one was an "L".  They went back into the other room
and headed for the eastern exit.  Belphanior found yet
another rune on the northern wall, but as he moved to
examine it, a pit trap opened beneath his feet, and he
fell a short distance (well, for a pit trap, anyway),
hurting his knee when he landed.  Mongo found a rope
and tossed it to the elf, helping pull him out after he
caught the end.  Meanwhile, Peldor was busying himself
searching for other pit traps in the chamber, for when
one was found, there were usually more nearby; trouble
came in numbers.  The thief found four other such pits
in the area, springing them by hitting the floor sharply
with a small hammer.
  The party had to tread carefully in order to avoid
the pits as they moved across the room.  The rune this
time was a vivid black "D" in the northern wall between
two traps.  Mongo wished that someone would just spell
a word from these damned letters, so that they would
not have to find any more.  Maybe another demon lurked
nearby; Mongo's confidence waxed higher than ever as
he thought about the last battle.
  Through the eastern exit, they found two tunnels that
split off, one to the northeast, and the other to the
east.  Mongo noticed that the northeastern path was cut
from rougher stone than the other.  The party decided
after a short rest to take the northern route.  They
moved for a while along the tunnel, then entered a large
cavernous area.  The floor ahead became a crevasse,
about fifteen feet wide and very deep.
  "I can jump that."  Peldor announced his intentions
to everyone.  "Ha!  Go ahead, fool, jump!  If you fall
and die, so much the better!", snapped Ged, who seemed
to be in a touchy mood this day.  Mongo would have gone
for it, but even without his armor to weigh him down,
he wouldn't have a chance.  Belphanior looked down into
the gorge, obviously considering the same thing that
Peldor was.  Mongo figured that Halbarad could probably
make the jump as well, and maybe Peyote, but that was
it for the party.  Rob would probably trip at the edge
and fall right in if he tried for it.
  Halbarad was handing Peldor a short, heavy coil of
rope.  Mongo found a long, sharp piton in one of his
backpack pockets and gave that to the thief as well.
"Here.  Take these, and secure one end of the rope
somewhere on the other side."  Halbarad wished the
thief good luck, for whatever reason, Mongo did not
know.  He personally hoped that Peldor would fall into
the chasm and be lost forever.  The thief was nothing
but a leech - he stole from anyone or anything that
he could find.  Peldor said, "Luck?  I don't need any
luck!", and backed up a ways.  Then he dashed across
the chamber, building up his running start, and jumped
off from this side.  The thief easily made the leap,
surprising some of the party members, and landed in a
graceful roll on the other side.
  Peldor looked about, obviously searching for some
treasure or something to take, and then hammered the
piton into the stone of the floor.  He tied the rope
into the piton's eye, using one of the forty-four
basic knots known to all thieves, and then tossed the
main coil of rope back across.  On this end, Mongo
secured it with another piton.  He was glad that he
had picked up a few of everything in the supply store
last time.  Looking down into the deep crevasse, the
dwarf wondered what was down there.  Maybe they would
have time to check that out, too.
  It was decided to send Belphanior and Halbarad across
the rope to join Peldor.  The magi weren't sure they
had the strength to pull themselves along the rope,
and besides, someone had to guard this end in case
some dungeon denizen came along and cut it.  The trio
was just going to explore for a bit, anyway.  Mongo
watched them go until they turned around a corner and
were out of sight.
  The dwarf and the other four party members rested and
ate lunch near the crevasse.  About a half-hour later,
their companions returned, bearing news of another of
the underground cliffs, with a two-foot wide ledge to
another chamber.  In this last chamber, they said, had
been an ancient man, sitting cross-legged.  He had
cackled to them about the treasure beyond the fangs,
and then vanished.  They didn't seem to Mongo to be too
sure that he had _ever_ been there in the first place.
The dwarven warrior wouldn't really have believed them
except for the presence of the ranger, Halbarad, whom
he trusted.
  The group then returned to the pit room, and took the
other eastern passage.  This led along a long, winding
corridor - at one point they found another rune, a
greenish one that represented "O".  Further along, the
tunnel turned south into a dead-end.  There was no
door, but a hazy curtain-like barrier blocked the way.
It was opaque, and seemed to radiate cold.  Mongo
thought that they should toss Peldor through and see
what happened, but nobody really agreed with him.
  Instead, Belphanior poked his sword into the field.
Mongo would have bet a thousand coins of gold (if he had
that many) that someday the reckless elf would find a
way to destroy himself, be it by trap, monster, or
whatever.  At the touch of the cold steel, the strange
effect ceased, revealing a huge room, most of it filled
by a very large and very pale dragon, which was at the
moment awakening.  It looked in their direction, and
grinned toothily, displaying many sharp fangs.  "Good...
I like to eat after I take a nap", it said loudly in
the common tongue.

  There was no time for discussion.  Even the most dense
of the adventurers realized that once the beast had fully
awakened, they would never get by it without much trouble.
Mongo wanted to ask someone how the large dragon had
gotten into this room through smaller passages, or how
it had stayed here for who knew how long, but this was
not the time.  Besides, Belphanior didn't even wait to
think about it.  The elf drew his sword and sprinted into
the room.  Mongo thought to himself that maybe this would
be the time, but he hefted his axe and went in after him.
  The dragon, still a bit sluggish from its long period in
stasis, abruptly regained its full range of faculties when
Belphanior's sword sliced a deep cut in its flank.  The
monster, fully thirty feet long, was not actually very
big, as dragons went, but to this party, it was a monstrous
apparition of death.  The young dragon was quite hungry,
however, and this newest meal had arrived just in time for
its needs.  It hated being trapped in this tiny room, put
into stasis by that idiotic, mad wizard Lunok.  Apparently
whatever had been necessary to break the magic had happened,
and the dragon decided that it would find a way out of this
room and hunt down the mage.  After it killed these fools,
that was.
  Belphanior hacked madly at the beast, but half of his
blows couldn't pierce the dragon's tough skin.  Mongo
helped to remedy the situation, burying his axe in the
thing's side with a mighty sweep.  The dragon shrieked
in pain, not used to food that bit back.  Then it swiveled
its head around to face the two antagonists, and took a
deep breath.
  "Oh shit.", proclaimed Belphanior.  Mongo just stared
at the dragon, recalling from dwarven legends the power
of dragon breath.  There was little time to react, but
they both tried, leaping madly to either side.  The huge
monster launched a cone of white frost in their general
direction, bathing that whole side of the chamber in ice
and sleet.  Belphanior managed to leap far to one side,
avoiding the brunt of the blast, but he was nevertheless
chilled to the bone, and collapsed to the floor, covered
with ice crystals, unconscious.  Mongo dived for the
ground, but wasn't as quick as the elf.  Fortunately,
his armor had thick padding inside, and this probably
saved him.  The dwarf was enveloped in ice, much more
than his elven companion, and though sorely wounded by
the extreme cold, he also lived.
  Halbarad took advantage of the dragon's attack to get
close to its head, and both his hand axe and dagger
scored minor wounds within an instant.  The dragon
turned again, focusing its attention on the ranger,
but not failing to smell some invisible fool coming
in from one side.  The monster, though wounded by the
initial attacks, was far from defeated, and it bit
Halbarad, locking its jaws on his lightly armored
torso and crunching down.  The human prey ceased to
move, and the dragon discarded him with a toss of its
head.  Next, it turned suddenly and slashed at the
half-elf it had smelled before, sending that one into
a wall, slashed and torn.  Peyote looked at the three
large, bloody cuts on his chest and legs, and slumped
to the floor in a daze.
  Fortunately for the party, the magi had not been
idle for the last moments.  Ged cast a spell of sleep
at the dragon, just on the off chance that it might
work, but it failed to affect the monster.  Alindyar
launched a wave of webs at the great lizard, pinning
it partially to the ground.  Rob cast a spiritual
hammer, but this magical weapon failed to strike the
monster, hitting the ground instead.  The dragon
reared its head to breathe again, this time at the
magi and priest.
  However, it had not counted on the attack of Peldor.
While the beast had been busy demolishing the other
party members, the crafty thief had silently crept to
the monster's side.  The webs on this flank prevented
it from moving much.  Avoiding a leathery wing, he
leaped atop its neck, at the same time burying his
magical blade in the back of its head.  The sword
sunk into the creature almost too easily.  Peldor was
suprised, for he hadn't stabbed THAT hard.  The weapon
sank in with such force that its point protruded from
the dragon's chin.  Blood spurted from this new and
dire wound, spraying the walls and some of the nearby
adventurers too.
  The dragon did not take it well.  It writhed about
in complete agony, sending Peldor into one wall with
a loud "thump".  The monster tried to breathe, but its
throat wouldn't work right any longer.  With a last
breath, the lizard cursed Lunok, and expired.
  Mongo slowly and painfully rose to his feet, eyeing
the room.  Belphanior was iced over, still, and did
not move.  Halbarad, as well, did not stir, and the
dwarf feared him dead.  Peyote grunted, soaked with
his own blood as well as the dragon's, but he at least
moved.  Peldor was walking around the dragon's body,
staring at it in wonder.  The magi now moved into the
room, as did Rob.
  Ged was casting healing magic on Belphanior, while
Alindyar broke off pieces of the ice sheet that was
covering the elf.  Rob, meanwhile, tended to Halbarad.
The ranger was in bad shape, Mongo saw.  Large holes
were punched in his leather armor, and deeper, and he
lay in a widening pool of blood and guts.  "Ged!", the
human priest shouted.  "Come here and help with this
one!"  The grey elf ran over to Halbarad's prone and
lifeless body, and quickly made a sad face.  "There
is nothing we can do for him anymore."
  Mongo couldn't believe it.  Halbarad?  Dead?  It did
not seem possible.  Yet it was!  The dwarf grabbed Ged
and shook him like a leaf.  "There has to be something
we can do to bring him back!  There HAS to!"  Ged was
thinking quickly.  "Maybe in the town, Aria, there is
a priest who can help him.  But we can do nothing for
him, here."  Mongo sulked for a while after that, but
he built a stretcher for the ranger and loaded him on
it.  They would have to find a way to get the body up
those spiral stairs, he realized.
  Peldor considered the prospect of finding out what
was in the dead ranger's pockets, but gave up that
notion when he caught the look on Mongo's bearded
face.  Instead, he busied himself with searching the
dragon's den.  In one corner, he found a fanged mouth
of stone.  The thing suddenly came alive, voicing its
thoughts for them all.  "GREETINGS.  YOU ARE MIGHTY
  Ged had the answer, as Mongo suspected he would.
"Bold", the elf proclaimed loudly.  The mouth was
impassive.  "AND THE SECOND?"  Peyote spoke up now.
"Old?", the half-elf half-asked.  Geez, Mongo thought
to himself.  If you're going to say the answer, at
least be sure of yourself.  The mouth waited not a
second.  "AND THE THIRD?"  Belly of the beast?  Then
Mongo sputtered, "Cold!", before any could stop him.
The mouth grinned, its fangs gleaming.  "GOOD.  YOUR
  The mouth opened to a ridiculous size, revealing
a large chest beyond.  After a moment of debate,
Mongo gingerly reached one arm in, and hauled the
chest out quickly.  He set it down on the dungeon
floor, and Peldor checked it over.  "Nothing", he
reported.  "No traps, not even a lock!"  Mongo
opened the iron chest up, anxious to see what it
was that had been worth the life of a companion.
  Inside were a number of treasures.  First, the
dwarf moved aside five platinum ingots, each one
fairly heavy.  Then he found a black pouch with some
diamonds inside, and handed it to Ged, so that
Peldor couldn't get into the gems.  There was also
a disassembled suit of leather armor, a medium-
sized shield, a staff, and a necklace.  The bottom
of the chest was lined by a folded-up carpet.  The
thief checked for a false bottom but found none.
  The adventurers rested for the night in a room
above, in the castle.  They could not stand to
remain in the dungeon another moment.  On the next
morning, Rob cast a spell of preservation on the
dead ranger's body, for obvious reasons.  The party
found that the keep had somehow fallen overnight,
without any sound or vibration.  Only a pile of
rubble marked the place where the entrance to the
tunnels had been.  Mongo got a strange notion that
somewhere, a mad wizard named Lunok laughed at them.
  The party found that their horses were gone.  For
some reason, Mongo was not suprised.  They began
the long trek back to Aria.

next time:  The fate of Halbarad; Belgar is found

NOTES:  It never fails to amaze me.  The party had, so far, routinely
mowed through orcs, bandits, goblins, even undead...but a single type
I demon came vary close to spelling disaster for them.  Oh well, such
is the adventuring life.  By the way, we use the rule that if any one
blow does a great percentage of one's h.p., there is a chance for the
victim to be stunned, or unconscious...a useful rule at times.
  The dragon really cleaned Halbarad's clock all rights,
Belphanior should have died too.  He was at -9 hp or so, but I ruled
that someone could go help him.  Halbarad was beyond hope at -17...
Mongo came close too, having only 3 or 4 when all was said and done.
  Having described things from the points of view of 2 out of 8 party
members, I will revert to narrative mode for awhile.  The upcoming
fiasco merits it, as will be seen...

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