Chapter #89

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                                +
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                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +                   +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +
                                +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      11th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra        7th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior     8th/8th/9th level high elf w/m/t    (CN)   +
+   Ged            9th/9th level grey elf priest/mage  (NG)   +
+      Arnold      7th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+   Mongo          9th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        12th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen         9th level human warrior              (N)   +
*   Flint Firelips (guest)   dwarven warrior                  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:   7/18/571 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:   late afternoon                                    +
+   Place:  the Underdark                                     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    LXXXIX.  Hope Renewed





  The party is resting and eating lunch next to a large lake
in an underground cavern.  This cavern is part of an ogre
complex which lies within the anti-magic zone that the group
became trapped in previously.




                            \_   (lake)  _____/
             |_.._|            \___..___/
           __|    |__            |    |
      _ __| sleeping |__ ________|    |
       :     ogre       :        :    |
      _|__    room    __|________|    |
          |__      __|           |    |
             |____|              |    |
                                 |    |
                                 |_.._|
                              __/      \__
                            /              \
                              (huge cavern
                                w/dinosaur
                                 skeleton)




  The party had already decided to explore the southern cave
first, rather than attempt to cross the lake, and so they
entered that area shortly.

Mongo:  Wow.  This is a _big_ cavern.
Peldor:  Do tell.
Arnold:  (points to a huge dinosaur skeleton in the center
  of the chamber)  Whad's that?
Ged:  Looks like the bones of some huge, long-dead carnosaur.
Mongo:  I don't trust those bones.  (begins smashing the
  hapless, bleached bones with his hammer, raising a lot of
  dust)
Rillen:  Yea.  (joins the dwarf in his destructive mission)
Arnold:  (to Ged)  Can I?
Ged:  Oh, go ahead.
Arnold:  Thanks!  (dashes forth and begins demolishing a
  section of ribcage)
Belphanior:  What's the point?
Alindyar:  Indeed, why destroy fossils?
Lyra:  Maybe they have nothing better to do.

  Soon, the bones were no more, and the group continued on,
finding a neatly carven square exit.  This passage ended in
a "T" after a short distance, and the adventurers took the
right passage.  It ended in another, smaller cavern; this
one was about forty feet in diameter, and perhaps seventy in
height.  Nothing was visible from the party's location,
so they opted to try the left passage of the "T".  This one
led into a winding, square passage, which made right turns
at ever-smaller intervals.  Mongo announced that the whole
thing was slightly sloped, upward - the party was subtly
ascending.

Rillen:  I had the feeling this was a crooked deal.  But
  where will we end up?
Ged:  There's your answer, maybe - look.  (points ahead,
  to an opening ahead)
Mongo:  What's this?  (walks out onto what turns out to be
  a ledge, overlooking a a fifty- or sixty- foot drop)  Hey!
  Isn't this...
Peldor:  Right you are, sir.  This is the upper end of that
  same area we stood in five minutes ago.  (looks downward)
  See the entrance there?
Belphanior:  Hmm.  I guess it's good that we didn't waste
  time climbing the cliff face.
Ged:  Look across, there's a passage opposite us.
Rillen:  (gets on all fours at the edge of the cliff and
  examines something)  I have found a tightrope.
Peldor:  Tightrope?  Here?
Ged:  Fancy that.
Rillen:  Nevertheless, it _is_ a tightrope.  Made of steel,
  I would guess.  It is anchored in the stone here.
Belphanior:  Seems to be firmly anchored.  We should cross
  it.
Peldor:  Indeed.  Anybody have a staff that I can borrow?
Alindyar:  (holds out his staff)  Verily.
Peldor:  (grasps the gnarled wooden staff)  Hmm.  No good,
  the balance is way off.  Waaaaay off.  How about yours,
  Rillen?
Rillen:  (reluctantly hands over his own quarterstaff)  Be
  sure not to lose it.
Peldor:  (ignoring the comment)  Ah, now _this_ is a finely
  balanced staff!  (prepares to walk out onto the thin cable
  bridging the gap)
Ged:  What are you doing?!?  Or should I even ask?
Peldor:  What does it look like?  I'm going to walk across
  this tightrope.
Mongo:  We didn't know you could do that!
Peldor:  Of course not.  But actually, I am an experienced
  walker of tightropes.  And other fine lines.
Ged:  Oh.  Well, good luck to you.
Peldor:  Yep.  Here goes...

  Peldor used the staff to balance himself, and strode out
onto the dangerous tightrope.  Fortunately, his skills were
as great as he claimed, and presently he was across the gap
and out of sight.

Ged:  I wonder if he'll find any treasure?
Mongo:  I wonder if we'll see any of it, if he does find
  some.
Rillen:  All I know is, he had better bring back my staff.

  Meanwhile, Peldor ventured down a narrow passage, lantern
lighting the way.  The tunnel ended abruptly in a small
room, roughly cut from the surrounding rock.  Searching the
place, the thief found a miniature chest, and checked it
for traps before opening it.  Within the container were a
number of fine gems, shining in various hues under the
lantern's light.  Also in this cave was something of more
interest to Peldor; a longsword rested in its sheath, up
against one wall.  The thief examined the weapon, deeming
it to be of excellent quality, probably even magical once
outside this anti-magic zone.  He put the sword into his
pack, grabbed the gems, made sure that this chamber had
nothing else of interest, and then made his way back to the
large, open area.  He then re-crossed the tightrope, and
rejoined the party.  After they had all looked at the box of
gems that Peldor brought back, the adventurers decided to
return to the underground lake cavern and find a way to
cross it.
  After much deliberation, all wood from the previous rooms
was gathered, and Mongo provided nails and a hammer.  Using
these items, the party constructed a small raft.  Though it
seemed sturdy enough, the raft (mostly composed of a table
top from one ogre room) proved useful only for equipment-
carrying purposes - the weight of any of the adventurers,
even Ged or Lyra, threatened to overturn it.

Ged:  Wonderful.  (begins removing his clothes)
Lyra:  (looks away)  gasp.
Peldor:  Hey!  What are you up to?
Ged:  By Boccob, I shall _swim_ across this lake!  (tosses
  his breeches aside, leaving him clad only scantily, and
  wades into the water)  We've no more time for planning.
Peldor:  Nice underoos, there.
Ged:  (swims out with strong strokes; he is already almost
  halfway across)
Arnold:  (sheaths his sword behind his back, shucks his
  armor near Mongo, and dives into the water)  Waaaaaait
  for me.
Rillen:  (removes most of his equipment, except his wooden
  quarterstaff, and follows the elf)  I shall go, too.
Mongo:  Hmm.  I guess _I_ can't go - my armor is too heavy
  for the raft.  And anyway, I can't swim...
Belphanior:  (begins putting his weapons onto the raft as
  he prepares to follow Ged)  Well, I can.
Rillen:  (doing backstrokes, he zips by Arnold)
Arnold:  Whaaaaaat?  (continues swimming, undaunted)
Peldor:  (piles his stuff onto the raft, along with the
  possessions of Ged, Rillen, and Belphanior)  I wouldn't
  miss out on this opportunity for the world.  (he puts a
  lit lantern on the raft as well, and then swims out,
  pulling the small raft with him)
Alindyar:  Very well, we shall remain here.
Mongo:  Yeah.  (he, Alindyar, Lyra, and Flint Firelips
  remain)  We'll hold the fort, I guess.  (begins looking
  warily at the door to this area)  Better barricade that
  door.  Just in case.

meanwhile, on the far side of the lake...

Ged:  (emerges from the water)  Well.  Boccob knows, that
  was a mighty feat of bravado.  It's a good thing that I
  am here to set the example.
Rillen:  (arrives on shore presently)  Yes.  Of course, it
  is also a good thing that there were no monsters in the
  water.
Ged:  Yea.  Then, I'd have had to enter into battle with
  them.
Arnold:  (he and the two thieves show up soon after, with
  the little raft full of equipment)  Yah.

  Shortly, the five adventurers got dressed and prepared to
explore this new area.  A narrow passage led away from the
scant shore that the five now stood on.  The other members
of their group were barely visible across the lake.  While
Arnold held the lantern high, this contingent of the party
moved into the passage and were soon out of the sight of
the others.

Belphanior:  (in the lead, sword brandished)  What's this
  ahead?  (they come upon a steep cliff face, blocking any
  further progress along the tunnel)
Ged:  Hmm, a cliff.  (looks up, but can't discern anything
  at the top)  Looks about a hundred feet high, and awful
  steep...
Peldor:  No problem.  (climbing tools begin to appear in
  his hands)
Rillen:  I think I can do it, too.  (begins groping the
  steep cliff wall, looking for outcroppings)  The rock
  face is wet and...slimy.  I think that there is water
  flowing down, from above.  It will be a tricky climb,
  at any rate.
Belphanior:  Hey, don't forget me.  (prepares to climb as
  well)
Ged:  Gee, maybe I should try too...
Arnold:  Hmm.  (starts eating a snack)

  Rillen got about ten feet up before he lost his grip
and fell; fortunately, he was relatively unharmed.  It
took about fifteen seconds more for Belphanior to come
tumbling down, but luckily, he survived the fall too.
Undaunted, perhaps even inspired, Peldor climbed upward
slowly, and after a few minutes, he disappeared from
sight at the top of the cliff.  A moment later, a long
rope fished its way down to the others.

Rillen:  Hm.  (grabs the rope and immediately begins to
  climb up)  This should help.
Ged:  I suggest that we go up one at a time, to avoid
  stressing the rope.
Arnold:  Yah.

  About ten minutes later, they were all at the top of
the cliff face, which was actually only eighty feet or
so high.  There was not much room to walk around, and
a single, narrow tunnel led away.  Belphanior led the
way into this new passage; it wound and turned for a
bit before ending in a small natural chamber.  An old
skeleton rested in here, an ivory scroll tube grasped
in its long-dead hand.  A trickle of water flowed from
a tiny hole in the wall above the bony one, and went
through its ribcage before continuing into the entry
tunnel, and eventually over the cliff's edge.

Rillen:  That explains the wet cliff face.
Ged:  And the lake, even.  Think of the water, over
  years and decades, perhaps even centuries...
Arnold:  What's dhis skeledon?
Belphanior:  Could it be...alive?  Even in this zone
  of anti-magic?
Ged:  Possibly.
Rillen:  (readies himself to bash the skeleton, if it
  moves)  Not for long.
Peldor:  (snatches the tube from the corpse, and opens
  it, revealing a scroll)  What's this?  Hey, I can't
  read it.  No fair!
Ged:  Let me see that, you.  (regards the scroll)  Hmm.
  It's in ancient elven.
Belphanior:  (peering over Ged's shoulder)  Well, I
  can't make any sense of it.
Ged:  Of course not.  You're not a grey elf.  Prepare
  yourselves, for I shall now decipher its meaning.


(the last words of the skeleton above the lake)


  "Gods be damned.  I had thought myself safely escaped, but
it now seems to be no more than a trick.  I do not think that
THEY were able to track my flight to this hidden niche.  I
dare not try to descend, however, for I have grown weak, and
have no means of healing myself.  I fear that I shall perish
in this cavern.
  Whosoever sets eyes upon this, I may yet be able to help
you.  The portal opposite that leading to the lake remained
unexplored by our group - it may yet lead to an exit from
this forsaken place.  Anything is preferable to a dead end.
  Damn this zone of anti-magic!  We learned that it was at
its most potent in the prime passage, perhaps a thousand
paces in the direction of the flayers' domain.  This leads
to the logical conclusion that, if that is the centre of
the effect, then somewhere past this accursed complex lies
the cessation of said effect.  Of course, one never knows
what foul denizens lurk there...
  I have heard rumors of three evil men who remained down
here for so long that they became un-dead of supreme evil
and power.  In addition, a green wyrm of great size makes
its lair nearby, for the beast snatched two of our number
yesterday and made off with them as if they were flowers,
to be plucked and eaten!
  Alas, I am losing more lifeblood as I write.  I fear that
I am not long for this world.  I wish you better luck than
we had.

                            Signed,
                                    Philias Abbandarthiir



Rillen:  Sounds like a noble elf, indeed.
Peldor:  Hmm.  Well, we know that the door opposite the
  lake's door is no good - it led to the winding tunnel
  and the tightrope.
Ged:  Are you sure that there were no exits that way?
Peldor:  Absolutely.  I checked everywhere.
Belphanior:  Three evil men, eh?  Sounds intriguing.
Ged:  And we've almost certainly encountered that green
  dragon already...remember Rob?
Arnold:  (grimly)  Yah.
Rillen:  The bony one's words seem to tell of a way out
  of the no-magic area.
Ged:  Yea...we'll just have to see.
Belphanior:  I think it's safe to search this chamber,
  then return to the others and confer with them.
Ged:  Agreed.

  They found nothing of interest here, and eventually
descended the cliff and swam back across the lake, the
small raft keeping their possessions dry.  After they
shared the tale of the scroll with the others, a rest
break was taken, during which debate on the best course
of action proceeded.
  Later, the adventurers departed this area, and the
ogres' lair altogether, re-entering the main Underdark
passage.  No monsters presented themselves, so the party
resumed travel in the direction they had been going
previous to finding the ogres' lair.  This time, they
were able to march for a (comparatively) long time in
the huge, dark passage without being attacked.  It was
only when they began to wonder if this area was deserted
that the three gigantic scorpions appeared in the tunnel
ahead.

Belphanior:  Look!  Giant scorpions!
Ged:  Have a care.  I cannot cast a spell to remove the
  poisons of monsters anymore.
Alindyar:  Verily.  Some of our number may die here...
Mongo:  Well, everyone's time comes sooner or later.  I
  say, meet death face-to-face!  (he charges)  Yaaaaaa!
Rillen:  I cannot argue with that.  (he also heads for
  the foes, as does Belphanior)
Ged:  Come on, all!  We have much better odds of victory
  if we use our numbers to our advantage!  We've got to
  hit these things with everything we've got!

  The entire party rushed into battle.  Who would live?
Who would die?  Only the fates knew for sure.

scorpion#1:  (swipes at Mongo and Flint Firelips with
  its claws, hitting Mongo and drawing some blood)
Mongo:  Argh!  (bashes scorpion#1, causing it to reel)
  Take that, sucker!
Flint Firelips:  (hacks scorpion#1, inflicting a messy
  wound)  For the dwarves!
Lyra:  (throws a dagger at scorpion#1, but misses)  Ah,
  if I only had my spells...I would mop this sorry sack
  of drider dung up in a heartbeat.
scorpion#1:  (stings at Mongo, but doesn't penetrate his
  plate mail)
Mongo:  (hits the scorpion again, wounding it further)
  Geez, this is one tough scorpion!

Belphanior:  (slashes scorpion#2, slicing a paltry cut
  in its hide)  Die, bug!
Alindyar:  (swipes at the thing with his staff, but his
  blow is ineffectual)  Technically, 'tis not an insect,
  but rather...
Belphanior:  I know, I know!  Quiet, there's battle to
  be done!  (nicked by the sting of scorpion#2, but the
  poison doesn't get under his skin)  Argh!
scorpion#2:  (misses Belphanior and Rillen with its two
  claw attacks)
Rillen:  (to Alindyar)  Allow me to show you how it is
  done.  (crushes one of the monster's limbs with a
  mighty blow of his staff)
Alindyar:  Hmm.
Rillen:  (hits the scorpion again, a minor blow)
Alindyar:  You were saying?
Rillen:  Hrumph.

Ged:  Boccob!  (flails at scorpion#3 with his morningstar
  and draws blood)  Yes!
Arnold:  Yeaaaaas.  (hacks the scorpion, nearly cutting
  it in half)  Yah!  Oof!  (gets backhanded [backclawed]
  by one of the scorpion's claws, and falls to his knees
  in pain)  Aaa.
Peldor:  (tries to backstab the thing, but it stings at
  him suddenly, fortunately missing by a hairsbreadth)
  Huh?
Ged:  Good dodge there, Peldor!
Peldor:  Dodge?  Oh, yeah.  <WHAM>  (gets hit by a claw
  attack)  Whoaaaa...oof!
Arnold:  (gets up and chops the scorpion again)  Daadge.

scorpion#1:  (stings Flint Firelips)
Flint Firelips:  Argh!  (he stumbles about in pain for
  a few moments, then falls to the ground)  Poison!
Mongo:  Huh?!?  Hey, he's dead!  DEAD!  (rains blows
  upon the scorpion)  You'll die for that, beast!
Lyra:  (watches as Mongo pulverizes the giant scorpion
  with his hammer)  Yuck.

Belphanior:  (slashes scorpion#2, a great blow)  Yeah!
Rillen:  (bashes the thing with his staff)
scorpion#2:  (claws at both of them, hitting both of
  them)
Belphanior:  Argh!  (slashes the thing again, and it
  falls, dead)  Ha!
Alindyar:  Excellent.  How fare the others?

Ged:  (bravely dodges the sting of scorpion#3 and belts
  it in the head with his weapon, slaying it)  Glory to
  Boccob's name!  I stand triumphant!
Arnold:  Yah!
Peldor:  (stands up, dizzy)  Huh?



  In the aftermath of the battle, many of the adventurers
were wounded, and one lay slain - Flint Firelips, dead by
poisoning.  The others made a gurney for the body, intent
on carrying it with them rather than leaving it in this
place.  Soon, wounds were bound, and the group continued
onward, somewhat dismally.
  After perhaps ten minutes of marching, they began to
notice a strange effect - magical auras were returning,
slowly but surely!  Overjoyed by this, the party hurried
onward, and before long, they found that all magical
powers and effects had returned!  The party rejoiced,
and decided to camp for the night (?) in a small side
cavern that they conveniently found nearby.  All spells
had apparently been lost, but Ged figured that they
would return after a night's prayer/studying and rest.
Mongo and Belphanior constructed a crude barricade to
shield the small cavern from the main tunnel.  Although
quarters were a bit cramped, there were no complaints,
since no one wanted to spend the night outside in the
passageway.

  Miraculously, nothing showed up to attack the party
during the night, though they heard some irregular moans
and wails during that time.  Ged found that his full
powers had indeed returned, and he wasted no time in
casting spells of raising the dead and neutralizing
poison upon the body of Flint Firelips.  The dwarf's
form stirred - he was alive once more!  Due to his weak
condition, the party decided to wait another day before
moving out.  This time, spells were used to form the
camp's defenses, and everyone slept more soundly.  In
the morning, they made ready to continue along the big
tunnel.





next time :  Escape!  (but it won't be easy)

ftp site  :  ccosun.caltech.edu, in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers

notes     :  .
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++






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