Chapter #49

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*****
*  The 8 player characters contained in these writings are copyright
*  1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to persons or characters
*  either real or fictional is purely coincidental.  Copying and/or
*  distribution of these stories is permissible only under the one
*  condition that no part of them will be used or sold for profit.
*  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.
*****

--------------------------------------------------------------------
THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 8th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 6th/5rd/6th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 6th/6th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Halbarad, 7th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 7th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 9th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 6th/7th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
Rob, 8th level human priest of Trithereon (LG)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:   8/28/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   late afternoon
Place:  A crypt in the Crystalmist Mountains near the Yeomanry



                     XLIX.  Finale



  The party just...dealt with a quintet of bronze dragons in a
huge cavern.  Having left that place by a pair of double doors,
they are now in a hallway/room.



MAGIC MOUTH  ____
    ^---> __|  __|       ^  <--- STAIRS DOWN
         |  __|     ____| |
         | |__     |  ___/              N
         |__  |    | |                 W+E
      ______| |____| |__ _____________  S
     [                  |  |  |  |   O|__
     [______ . _________\                |
        ____| |____     |              &&&
       |   STATUE  |    |____       &&&
       |    ROOM   |         |___&&&  <--- LAVA RIVER
        \_________/



Mongo:  Let's check this door here (moves toward the southern
  door)
Belphanior:  Check for traps...
Peldor:  Okay, okay.  (searches the door)  Nothing here.
Halbarad:  (opens the door)

  There was a fairly large room to the south, mostly empty
except for two statues "guarding" a small pile of items.  The
stony forms were of some kind of large reptilian creatures.

Alindyar:  How lifelike these statues are.
Ged:  What are those things there, in the pile?
Peldor:  Let's find out.  (looks at the stuff carefully, in
  case of traps, before poking through it with his sword)
Belphanior:  (looking at the statues)  Maybe these were once
  monsters, who got petrified somehow.
Ged:  Maybe they're a trap.  Don't touch them.
Mongo:  (at the pile)  Let's see, what did we get here?
Peldor:  These three nice gems, plus a ring with a big gem.
  Also a small potion bottle, and a book.
Ged:  Book?  Let me see that.  (walks over)
Peldor:  ...and this strange arrow.
Belphanior:  (wondering about the statues, but not certain he
  wants to disturb them)  No gem eyes, in any case.
Mongo:  Well, let's get this stuff and go.  I was actually
  hoping for some battle, but oh well...

  The party left the statues (two petrified basilisks who, had
they been touched, would have come to life - but the party
would never know that) and the room, and moved to the passage
to the north.  Nothing notable manifested itself until the
tunnel dead-ended in another magic mouth.

Mouth:  (comes to life)  If you want the ultimate prizes, you
  must pass the red archway and defeat that which lurks in
  the heart of the mountain.  (goes inanimate again)
Ged:  Hey, that's the first mention we've had of that rod-
  thing we came here to get.
Peyote:  Assuming that's what the thing is talking about.
Mongo:  Well, that's it for that.  Let's go back.
Halbarad:  What an unusual series of rooms.  I would almost
  expect a monster any time now.

  Back in the main chamber, the party next headed into the
second tunnel on the north wall.  It led to a stairway going
down.

Mongo:  Down?  Let's check that door back there first, before
  we hit another level.
Ged:  I agree.  We might as well be consistent here.
Halbarad:  So be it.  (they head back into the main room)
Rob:  This is getting repetitive...
Peldor:  (checking the eastern door in the main room)  This
  one's locked.  (fiddling with the lock)  Good one, too.
Alindyar:  Can you open it?
Peldor:  Probably.  Damn.  This is a tough lock...
Ged:  Oh, come on.
Belphanior:  (steps over and watches)  What's the holdup?
Peldor:  This is just about the most intricate lock I've
  ever seen, that's all.  Aha!  Got it!
Mongo:  Good.  (opens the door)  What's this?!
Halbarad:  It looks like a workshop of some kind.
Mongo:  A smithy's shop, at that.

  The large room had many features.  There was a wide workbench
which was covered with a number of tools, jars, flasks, and
assorted gadgets.  Another table had several half-finished
weapons and smithing tools.  The eastern section of the room
featured a stream of lava, beyond which was a stone wall.  The
entry and exit points of the lava were small, and filled with
lava anyway, so nothing could fit through them.  The channel
through which the stuff flowed was clearly not a natural rock
formation.  There was a big cooling vat to one side, full of
dirty water.  Some closets stood open nearby, though they
looked mostly empty.  In one was a thick, chain-mail like
robe, a pair of gloves, a helm, and a necklace on a peg.

Peldor:  Hmm.  Lots of neat stuff in here.
Ged:  Ah, to hell with it.  (casts Detect Magic)  Let's see
  what's what.
Alindyar:  Excellent idea.
Ged:  Okay...(looking around)  Wow!

  There were a number of magical things here, all of which
the party collected.  Ged made sure not to let Peldor know
which ones were enchanted until someone else had their hands
on each item.  Two large jugs on the table had auras, as did
the water in the cooling vat (surprise!).  Also detected were
the gauntlets and the necklace, and two of the rings laying
on the worktable.  Mongo put all of these things in his sack.

Belphanior:  (looking into the vat of water)  Hey Halbarad!
  Bring that lantern of yours over here.
Halbarad:  The priest has it for now.
Rob:  (wandering over)  Here.
Belphanior:  (shining the light into the water)  I can see
  the bottom.  No monsters in this vat...(empties a flask
  and collects some of the magical water)  There.
Ged:  I wonder what's magical about it?
Mongo:  (thinking about how cooling vats are used to dip
  weapons into)  Hmm.  (to DM)  I touch the water with my
  hand, checking to see if it's acid or something like that.
DM:  (to Mongo)  It's fine, just a little cold.  Besides,
  Belphanior already touched it.
Mongo:  (to DM)  Okay.  I dip my hammer into the water then.
DM:  Okay.
Mongo:  (pulls the weapon out)  Seems unharmed.
Ged:  Hey!
Mongo:  What?!
Ged:  The magical aura on that water just started fading!
Mongo:  Oops.  (loops the hammer back onto his belt)
Peldor:  Oh well.
Peyote:  So much for that.

  The party went back to the stairs, descending now to the
third level of this place.  At the bottom of the stairway
was a short, twenty-foot long hallway leading up to a red-
stoned archway.  The mists within glowed crimson and blocked
any view of what was beyond.

Belphanior:  The red archway...
Alindyar:  Yonder magical mouth stated that we must pass
  through this and defeat some manner of creature.
Mongo:  Let's go then!
Halbarad:  Caution.  Who knows what lurks in the mists?
Ged:  (thinking about the best offensive spells he could
  use for different situations)
Peyote:  Well, dudes, what'll it be?
Rob:  I'm worried.
Peldor:  Oh, come on, guys!  We have to be _brave_ at times
  like this.
Belphanior:  I say we go in there right now.  (starts walking
  toward the arch)
Mongo:  Hey, wait up!  (ambles after the elf)
others:  (moving to follow them)
Belphanior:  Well, here goes...(walks into the mists)

  As the party went through the misty archway, they blinked
out and were teleported (?) to another place.  This new area
was a cave about the size of the bronze dragons' lair before.
The place's only unusual feature stood out immediately, about
two hundred feet from where the adventurers were teleported
to.  An enormous red dragon, bigger even than the largest of
the bronze ones, was sleeping on the cavern floor.  Its loud
snores sent plumes of smoke into the air periodically.
  There was no obvious exit for the group - the teleportation
effect had placed them in the middle of the room!  Thus, they
had no cover either...

Belphanior:  Holy shit!  (thinking about how dragons always
  are supposed to wake up when intruders approach)  Crap.
Mongo:  Son of a bitch.
Belphanior:  Shh.  Don't make any noise...
Halbarad:  (quietly standing there fingering his axe)
Peyote:  Dudes, we may be in for it now.
Dragon:  (stirs)
Ged:  (preparing a lightning bolt)
Alindyar:  This is _not_ good.
Rob:  (praying silently)
Peldor:  (actually thinking about trying to backstab the huge
  beast)  Hmm.
Dragon:  (opens its eyes)  WHAT?!  VISITORS!  GREETINGS, SMALL
  ONES!  I AM CALLED CYNDER - BUT YOU MAY CALL ME...DEATH!
  (it rears its head back to breathe)
Mongo:  Oh shit.  (prepares to throw his hammer)
Peyote:  Scatter!  Maybe we won't _all_ die!
Peldor:  (invisible, he runs off to one side)
Halbarad:  (not running because he sees a certain futility in
  it)

Ged:  (fires a lightning bolt at the dragon)  Boccob strikes!
Dragon:  (struck head-on by the bolt of energy)  HA!  IS THAT
  THE BEST YOU CAN DO?
Ged:  Uh-oh.
Dragon:  (still about to unleash its breath)  YOU SHALL ALL DIE!
Mongo:  (launches his hammer at the dragon, but the weapon
  bounces off the monster's incredibly tough hide)  Uh-oh.
Alindyar:  An ill omen.  (preparing a spell)
Peyote:  (has his wand of wonder out)  This is definitely
  ranked as a desperate situation!
Ged:  Uh-oh.
Belphanior:  Why did we have to come down here?  I can't
  believe this.
Rob:  I sure do wish we had somewhere to hide.
Belphanior:  Fuck that!  I just wish that dragon was somewhere
  else, _anywhere_ else!
DM:  (suddenly perks up)  What?
Belphanior:  I said, I wish that dragon wasn't here.  That way,
  we wouldn't be about to get toasted.
DM:  (grinning evilly)

  Suddenly, the dragon, all hundred-plus feet of it, just...
vanished.  One moment it was there, the next moment it was gone.

Peyote:  Uh-oh.
Ged:  Where the hell did it go?!?
Peldor:  (pulled forward a bit by the sudden vacuum)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Maybe the fucker went invisible!
Alindyar:  (having just completed his Fly spell, the drow is
  now airborne)  Hold for a moment.
Rob:  Something's fishy here...
Ged:  Damn right!  Where did it GO?!  Why hasn't it breathed
  yet?  Why, why, why?!
Belphanior:  (thinking long and hard)
Alindyar:  Let us see.  (casts Detect Invisibility from his
  aerial vantage point)  Incredible!  The beast is truly gone.
Rob:  (to Belphanior)  Hey, didn't you just make-
Belphanior:  -a wish!  I just made a wish and it came true!
Ged:  You did WHAT?!?!
Rob:  He wished that the dragon wasn't here.  And then, it
  wasn't!
Halbarad:  By the gods!  Where did you get a wish spell, elf?!
Belphanior:  I have no idea.  (looking over his items)  Let's
  see, longsword, arrows, staff of thunder and lightning, wand
  of lightning, no...ring of spell storing - maybe!  No, it
  can't hold powerful spells.  Potions, potions, bracers of
  defense...gauntlets of dexterity, no.  Ring of wizardry, no
  way...second longsword.  SECOND LONGSWORD!  That's it!
Mongo:  Huh?
Belphanior:  (holds up the longsword he got as a late-round
  treasure pick recently)  This blade must have wishes on it!
  Son of a bitch!  I wasted a wish!
Ged:  Wasted?
Mongo:  Wasted, my ass!  If it got rid of that big, ugly
  dragon, it wasn't wasted at all!
Belphanior:  Argh!  I could have wished to control the thing!
  I could have wished for magic spells!  Anything!
Peldor:  (to Belphanior)  Hey, all's not lost.  There might
  be another wish in the sword...
Belphanior:  Hey, that's right.  I'll have to think and speak
  very carefully now, though.
Alindyar:  I wonder where the dragon _went_...?
Rob:  I wonder if this counts as "defeating" the thing,
  like that mouth said?
Ged:  We're all fading out - I guess soooo....

  The party reappeared by the red arch, but now the mists were
gone, and a room was visible beyond.  An alcove was the only
obvious feature here.



        ALCOVE -->  __==__
                 __|      |__
     CHESTS --> |__$      $__# <-- RUNE ROOM
                 N  \_  _/
                W+E  *  *  <--- red archway
                 S   |  |



Ged:  ...ooo.  Huh?
Halbarad:  It seems that we are credited with the defeat of
  the monster anyway.
Belphanior:  We'd better be, dammit!  After I had to use up
  a wish...!
Mongo:  Quit griping and admit that it was well-used.
Rob:  Where are we now?
Peyote:  Looks like some kind of shrine ahead.  (strolls up
  to the alcove)  What's this inside?
Disembodied Voice:  Well met, adventurers!  Having found a way
  to defeat the dragon Cynder, you have proven your mettle.
  Having bypassed the various traps in the complex above, you
  have proven your intelligence.  Having been allowed into
  this place, and again when you got by the bronze dragons,
  you have proven your lack of blatant evil.  Any one of these
  qualities is good; all three are required of those who would
  wield a bit of the Celestial Rod.  The Rod of Life and Death,
  which I am about to bequeath to you, is but a fraction of
  what it could be, yet it is mighty still.

  The alcove contained a small gray metal chest, which opened
now to reveal a foot-long rod.  This item was fashioned of an
unknown alloy, also gray in color but not the same as the
chest which held it.  Peyote picked up the item, which was
cold to the touch.

Peyote:  Yow!  (almost drops it)
Disembodied Voice:  Use this item wisely.  It has some of the
  properties of the complete Rod, such as the power to heal
  many wounds and ills, the power to animate the dead, and
  the power to slay the living.  Whoever wields it must be
  very careful, for the power therein is as great as it can
  be corrupting.  With that, I leave you to some of the other
  treasures of this place.  Since you have successfully made
  it here, you will be able to leave via the grey archway
  nearby with full memory of what has transpired in this
  place, and your runes will be removed.  Farewell, and best
  wishes...

Ged:  Hmm.
Peldor:  (already searching for a secret door, he finds one in
  the western wall, leading to a tiny room with three chests)
Belphanior:  (helping Peldor check for traps)  They are open!
Mongo:  Hey, there!  I saw that gem go in your pocket, Peldor!
Ged:  Wow!  (looking through the contents)  Opals, potions, a
  scroll, a book, boots, platinum coins, another book, a box,
  a fan (?!), more potion bottles, some javelins, a longsword,
  plate mail, leather armor too, a feather (another feather?),
  a chest, a metal bar, and a horn.  That's a lot of stuff.

  The party emptied the chests, and even found the hidden panel
in the bottom of one.  They were all somewhat laden at this
point.  Peldor, pursuing a hunch, checked for and located a
second secret door in the eastern wall.  Beyond was another
small room, ending in a grey archway.  As they passed through
this, the colored runes on their hands tingled, and vanished
completely as the party was once again teleported.
  Much to their surprise, they appeared about a half-mile in
front of the main gate to Loftwick, in the light of the setting
sun!

Ged:  How convenient.
Belphanior:  (examining his hand)
Halbarad:  Let us bed down for the night.

  The party, surprised but not ungrateful for their magical
transportation to the city, found the inn they had stayed
in before, and rented four double suites for a week's time.
The treasure stayed locked in a room with Mongo and Ged,
except for the Rod, which Peyote had developed a strange
affinity for and could not bear to be without.
  One complete night's rest, and a hearty breakfast later,
the treasure was spread out on a table in one of the rooms.
There was a significant amount of coinage, as well as gems
and jewelry items, and magic.  The latter category was
defined by Ged's use of the Detect Magic spell.


THE DIVISION OF THE LOOT:
    (magical items only are shown)
    (does not include bronze dragon swapped items)
    (choosing order determined by dice)

Peyote:  Rod of Life and Death, ring from armory, 3 javelins,
  jug from armory, potion
Ged:  Both books from final room, rope, scroll (stone to
  flesh), potion
Alindyar:  Book (from before final room), wand, metal bar,
  jug, potion
Peldor:  Boots, leather armor, scroll, potion
Halbarad:  Gauntlets, horn, arrow, potion
Mongo:  Ring (other one from armory room), necklace, plate
  mail, potion
Rob:  Fan, magic chest, feather, potion
Belphanior:  Longsword, wooden bowl, box, flask

  Having divided their treasures, the adventurers next spent
many weeks going about the business of training.  Loftwick's
mage's guild made a hefty profit from the party, as each of
the adventurers wanted to be the first and only one to know
just what his newest items were.  Summaries follow:


ALINDYAR:  The drow studied magical works for some time, and
  all for the purpose of gaining his single new spell - the
  Advanced Illusion.  He learned that his new book was a
  treatise on the making of magical constructs.  His wand
  was more exciting to him at the moment, though, for the
  item had the power to generate illusions!  The metal bar
  he had chosen was made of pure adamantite, only the single
  hardest metal known to man, elf, or dwarf.  His jug, he
  found by sipping, was full of a large dose of invisibility
  potion.  His singular potion was a healing liquor.  The
  ring he had traded from the dragons was unidentifiable,
  but since he already had put it on, he didn't fret about
  it.

  "Adamantite.  Hmm.  Perhaps I can commission a powerful
   magic dagger for my frequent melee encounters."


BELPHANIOR:  The elf trained in both the magical and the
  thiefly arts, gaining a single spell also, Vampiric Touch.
  He learned that he had chosen a good item, a fabled sword
  of dancing, as well as a portable boat, and a bowl which
  could summon creatures of watery nature.  No one was able
  to tell him anything about the flask he had, and thus he
  decided not to open it just yet.  Belphanior's ring, the
  one he had gotten from the dragons, had to do with the
  various animals of the wilderness, and so the elf traded
  this item to Halbarad for the ranger's baker's dozen of
  enchanted arrows.

  "This sword of dancing will come in handy, yessiree."


GED:  The grey elf studied both magic and Boccob's teachings,
  gaining the Stinking Cloud and Polymorph Self spells in the
  process.  He began to wear the chain mail he had traded
  from the dragons, and also learned that one of his books
  was a holy tome, which would take months to read, while
  the other was a powerful spellbook created by none other
  than Boccob himself!  Ged's rope was useful for climbing,
  with its various enchantments, and though Peldor begged
  and pleaded with the elf to trade him the rope, Ged was
  adamant and ignored the thief.  Ged copied the single spell
  on his scroll into his new spellbook; his potion was one
  that he could not even use, so he gave it to Mongo.

  "I give you this potion of heroism for your heroic deeds."
  "Quit bothering me, Peldor.  You can't have the rope, and
   that's final.  Now go away, I'm busy."


HALBARAD:  The ranger was not yet in need of training, so he
  tried his best to identify his new items.  As stated, he
  made a trade with Belphanior.  He found (as he had suspected)
  that he was much stronger with his new gauntlets on.  He also
  had a potion of speed, but the arrow and horn were not at all
  conducive to attempts at identification.  Somewhat frustrated,
  the ranger spent most of his time exploring the city instead.

  "What an interesting city this is..."


MONGO:  The dwarf went to the warriors' guild to practice, in
  his spare time checking on his magic items.  The plate mail
  was easy - it was simply well-crafted magical armor, a true
  prize for Mongo.  His potion was simple too, an elixir that
  boosted its drinker's strength for a while.  The necklace
  was only found to have "some beneficial effect", but he
  wore it anyway.  Mongo's new ring was a true gem, though-
  a ring which conferred resistance to fire upon its wearer.
  By sipping from the jug he got from the dragons, he found
  that it was full of several doses of healing potion.

  "Beneficial effect, my ass!  What the hell does it _do_?!?"


PELDOR:  The thief had no use for training at this point, so
  he too explored the city, casing out dozens of targets for
  burglary.  His new leather armor was simply magical; his
  potion was a rare type that reversed the effects of aging
  somewhat.  Peldor traded the scroll to Peyote for the
  druid's hat - a good move, for the hat turned out to have
  the power to disguise its wearer according to his will, a
  useful power for the thief.  His boots, he found by doing
  various experiments, let him perform great leaps and
  bounds.  On a not-so-good note, the ring that he traded
  from the dragons would not come off of his finger - and
  Peldor quickly learned that, although the item gave him
  the power to know any lie that he heard, it also forbade
  him from telling any himself!

  "I'm going to get those bronze dragons for this!"
  "Aw, come on, Ged!  Make me a trade for the rope."


PEYOTE:  The druid trained for both warrior and druidic
  skills.  His potion was one of super-heroism, while his
  jug was filled with healing elixir.  His new ring had
  power over the element of earth, and was quite powerful.
  The three javelins seemed to be simple magical weapons.
  Peyote found himself reluctant even to put his new Rod
  down, for the yearning which it created was powerful
  indeed...

  "Get away from my Rod, dude!"


ROB:  The priest was not yet ready to advance in the ways
  of the priesthood, but found a temple of Trithereon
  anyway.  Rob was surprised when his prayers revealed to
  him that he was to return with all due haste to his home
  town in Keoland.  He found, with the help of his fellow
  priests and a sage, that his new fan could generate a
  powerful wind when used.  His chest was able to hold more
  on the inside than it seemed; his potion enabled him to
  have gaseous form for a time; and his feather was of some
  strange use that no one was sure of.

  "Back to Keoland?  But why?"



  It was many, many moons later when the party regrouped in
a tavern:

--------------------------------------------------------------------
THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 9th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 6th/6rd/7th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 7th/7th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Halbarad, 7th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 8th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 9th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 7th/8th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:   10/15/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   midmorning
Place:  The city of Loftwick, capital of the Yeomanry
--------------------------------------------------------------------



Mongo:  Where's Rob this morning?
Alindyar:  He has apparently left this place - I found this note
  tucked under some of my possessions.



----------
  Dear friends,
    I am sorry to say that I have had to move on, at least for
  now anyway.  Trithereon has told me to return to my homeland
  and speak with my superiors there.  I know not if he is angry
  with me for something, or not, but one does not ignore the
  summons of one's god.
    I have had the best of times with you over the last year,
  and sincerely hope that we will meet again someday.  I know
  that I was not always sensible in my thoughts and actions, but
  be aware that I always tried to do my best anyway.
    If you are ever in Keoland, inquire at the temple of the most
  holy Trithereon as to my whereabouts.

                                       Sincerely,
                                                   Rob
----------

Mongo:  What?!?
Alindyar:  That is all he left.  I suspect that he left the room
  we were sharing a few days ago.  I never pay much attention to
  his comings and goings anyhow.
Peyote:  Well I'll be.  The dude's gone.





next time:  The new #8 man; the giants

ANONYMOUS FTP SITE: tybalt.caltech.edu (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
***********************************************************************
NOTES:  Rob's player was absent from every part of this adventure but
the last five minutes.  I have above rationalized his total lack of
attendance at the next few sessions we had.  Have no fear, though, he
WILL return (promise!).  The competency of the character in the last
cluster of postings was due to the pinch player we used - you'll see
more of him shortly too.
***********************************************************************





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