Chapter #91

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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:   7/22/571 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:   morning                                           +
+   Place:  some mountains somewhere                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "I've got a baaaaad feeling about this."                  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  XCI.  Dinner is Served





  The party has finally escaped the subterranean caverns
and emerged onto the surface world.  They have been resting
for a good two days, healing and recuperating from their
recent battles.

Belphanior:  (looking around the mountain trail)  Where in
  the hell are we?
Mongo:  Don't ask me.  These are great mountains, but I've
  never been here before.
Ged:  Logic says that we couldn't have travelled too far
  while underground.
Alindyar:  Aye, but the Underdark has been known to skew
  normal time and space.
Peldor:  (thinking about how great it would be if the party
  had been catapulted several years into the past or future)
Rillen:  Well, it is time to get going.  Wherever it is that
  we are going.

  The party set out, following the mountain trail as it
wound through the lightly forested peaks.  Presumably, it
led to civilization.  A chilly wind blew upon the nine
adventurers, and some four days later, they emerged from
the trees and rocks into a grassy plain.  The mountains
stood behind them, looming, seemingly touching the sky.
They followed the trail into the plain, moving slightly
downhill.  At one point, a wall could be seen ahead; the
trail led directly into a gate within the stone barrier.
By looking around, they determined that the wall ringed a
large mansion, at a distance of about 300'.  The rusty gate
squeaked as the wind moved it back and forth.  A single
light was visible in one large window inside the structure.

Belphanior:  Hey look, somebody's home.
Mongo:  Who the hell would want to live all the way out
  here?
Ged:  I don't know.
Rillen:  (notes that the mansion is somewhat sunken with
  respect to the surrounding land)  A sunken plain...
Alindyar:  Who indeed would want to live here?
Belphanior:  C'mon, let's go find out.
Rillen:  Maybe there are horses here.

  They moved along the path, toward the big house.  The
grass around the place was high and untended, and as the
group approached the large front door and its steps, they
could see that the mansion was in a state of disrepair.

Peldor:  Maybe there's something worth stealing here.
Belphanior:  (walks up the steps, and strikes the metal
  knocker several times)  We'll see.

  There was a long moment of silence, and then heavy
footsteps could be heard approaching, on the other side
of the door.  Abruptly the wooden door creaked open...

huge human:  (dressed in a black suit)  Yeeeeeeees?
Peldor:  Hi, we're taking up donations for-
Belphanior:  Greetings, large one.  We are but weary
  travelers, seeking rest and shelter.
Rillen:  And maybe horses.
butler:  (looks at the party quizzically, his drawn face
  pale and chalky)  Enter.  The master will be pleased
  to have guests for dinner.
Mongo:  dinner!  All right!  (the party enters the house
  one by one)
Peldor:  Come to think of it, I am pretty hungry.
Rillen:  (silently walks by the butler, noting that the
  big guy stands head and shoulders above him)  Hmm.

  They were led through an entryway and into some kind
of antechamber.  The mansion was quite different on the
inside, with lustrous wooden floors and walls, all sorts
of antiques and curios, plush carpets and tapestries,
and that sort of thing.  The ceilings were high and
vaulted; the hallways were wide.  The general impression
was one of considerable wealth and luxury.  They saw all
manner of furniture, ranging from a strange mirror to a
plush couch, from a large antique desk to a recliner.

butler:  You may leave your equipment in the hallway.
Mongo:  To hell with that!  My armor will not be left
  anywhere!
Ged:  Yea.  We'll see about it later, maybe.
Rillen:  (without armor, he is not too worried about
  this issue)
butler:  Very well.

  Shortly, the butler showed them into a dining hall,
complete with a large central table of solid oak and a
dozen chairs of some rare wood.  The table was set for
a great feast; several large roasted birds, many bottles
of fine wine, steaming loaves of bread, a big block of
cheese, two bowls of fruit, four bowls of some fruity
gelatinous stuff (Jell-o, something not yet known to
the adventurers), silk napkins, golden silverware -
these were but some of the many features of the fine
dining table.  Several servant-types stood at attention
around the chamber, but attention was drawn to the
well-dressed noble at the head of the table.  The man
stood up, and opened his hands in a gesture of welcome.

man:  Greetings, and well-met!
Belphanior:  Who might you be?
man:  I am Baron Albert, of the Sinking Plain.  You must
  be my dinner guests.
Mongo:  Yeah, sort of.
Albert:  It is fortunate for you that you arrived before
  sunset, (gestures to a window, where the sun is setting
  on the horizon) for many malicious creatures roam this
  area after dark.  The wise traveller does not venture
  out after sunset.
Belphanior:  Well, that's good to know.
Albert:  Indeed.  Please, be seated.  After all...it _is_
  dinnertime.
Rillen:  Hmm.  (the party sits down in the chairs)
Alindyar:  (thinking)
Mongo:  (eyeing the food hungrily)
Ged:  (eyes the butler)
Alindyar:  (to Lyra, in drow)  Something is amiss.
Lyra:  How is that?
Alindyar:  How could he have known that we were coming?
  (regards the table, its contents, and the room)  Hmmm.
  (concentrates, relying on his superior intelligence to
  discern what might be out of place)
Peldor:  (looks around, then slips a golden knife into
  his pocket)
Mongo:  (grabs a loaf of bread)  Let's eat!  (due to his
  heavy, bulky plate mail, he just stands there instead
  of sitting)
Ged:  We can't eat with armor on...
Belphanior:  Why not?
Alindyar:  (opens his eyes suddenly, and recoils in great
  horror)  BEWARE!  'Tis illusion!  (leaps from his seat
  and draws his wand)
Ged:  Eh?  (sees through the illusions)  Boccob!
Albert:  Oh, very well.  (snaps his fingers)

  Suddenly, things changed, getting really bad really fast.
The roasted birds became live ones, leaping up and flying
about, squawking maliciously as their eyes glowed red.  The
loaves of bread became large slugs with drooling maws; they
headed for the nearest adventurers.  The block of cheese
floated into the air, now a spherical thing with numerous
eyes and a gaping fanged mouth.  The fruit bowls rolled
around the table, transforming into slime-heaps with all
kinds of mouths, eyes, and ears.  The bowls of jell-o were
now large carnivorous jellies, oozing across the table in
search of flesh.  Albert himself stood, suddenly cloaked
in swirling black garments, his skin a tone of grey.  The
four servants now floated above the floor, wraithlike.  A
door swung open as the huge butler strode into the dining
room, even more pallid now as his fangs gnashed in hunger.
Even the silverware had changed, writhing around in the
form of pale larvae.  The total effect of all these things
was quite hellish.

Belphanior:  Oh, shit!
Mongo:  (looks at the slug he's been holding)  Ya!  (hurls
  the thing into a wall, where it rebounds, heading for the
  table)  Fuck!
Ged:  By Boccob!  (grabs his fire wand)
Albert:  Hah hah!  I told you it was dinnertime...

Alindyar:  (fires a viscous glob from his wand, pinning one
  of the birds to one of the fruit-mouth things)  Friends!
  We are outmatched here!  We must escape!
Albert:  Not likely.  (begins spellcasting)
Peldor:  (goes invisible)
Albert:  I see you, thief.
Rillen:  (dodges a beam from the cheese-block-turned-eye-
  thing in the air)  I knew something was cheesy.  (bashes
  a slug with his staff, knocking it off the table)
Ged:  Hey, that's a beholder!  Don't joke at it, kill it!
Belphanior:  (ignores a bite from one of the slugs)  Thank
  the gods for Stoneskin...(slashes a bird, lopping off a
  wing)
Peldor:  (invisible, he hurls a dagger at Albert)
Albert:  (though he could see the invisible thief, this
  attack takes him by surprise, and the dagger pierces his
  hand, interrupting his spell)  Curses!
Lyra:  (begins spellcasting)
Arnold:  (hacks one slug into two halves)  Thad'll show
  you, slimey thing!  Aaa.
Ged:  (points his wand in the general direction of Albert)
  Cspan!  (small fireballs sally forth, hitting not only
  the Baron but also one bird, one slug, two jellies, and
  a servant-wraith)  Take that!
Albert:  Agh.  (snaps his fingers again, and a swarm of
  vampire bats flies into the room from somewhere)
Belphanior:  Yie!  (dodges the bite of one of the bats)
Rillen:  (swats another bat)  This is batty.
Mongo:  (faces off against the butler)  I'll smash you into
  monster mash, buddy!
butler:  I do not think ssssso.  (swings at the dwarf, and
  misses, splintering a chair into small bits)
Mongo:  (bashes the man-thing, knocking him back against a
  double doorway)  Hah!  How's that feel?
butler:  (glares at Mongo)  I ssshall kill you and feed
  upon your sssoul, dwarf.
Mongo:  Yikes.
Lyra:  I say nay.  (casts a Lightning Bolt at the butler,
  knocking him through the double door along with one
  servant)
Mongo:  Nice shot.  (belts an onrushing slug with his war-
  hammer)
Lyra:  Thanks, I thought so too.  (notices that her
  spell ignited some curtains)  Uh-oh.
Ged:  (attempts to turn some of the undead in the room)
  Boccob!  Grant me power to dispel these vile ones!  (he
  watches in horror as virtually every vampire and wraith
  ignores his incantations)  Hell.  Some great evil power
  must be at work here.  (dodges a vampire bat's swooping
  attack)
Albert:  Of course.  That would be me.  Heh heh.
Rillen:  (uses his staff to vault over some opponents, and
  lands near a large bay window)  Whew.  (hits the glass
  several times,shattering it and letting in a strong wind)
  Companions!  We are leaving!
Belphanior:  Retreat?  (evades the attacks of a bird, and
  it collides with a slug, turning the latter into stone)
  Holy shit!  Cockatrice!  Yeah, time to go!
Flint Firelips:  (pulverizes a fruit-mouther thing, but
  gets overrun by one of the roaming jellies)  Aaaargh!
  (he runs into a burning curtain, trying to get the thing
  off of himself)  Aaaargh!  (leaps past Rillen and out
  the broken window, ablaze)
Mongo:  Wow, look at him go.
Peldor:  (backstabs a servant-wraith, but only angers it)
  Yie.  (flees, hasted, and somersaults through the window
  after Flint)  Even the bravest thief must know when to
  leave...
Ged:  (dodges a slug's attack)  Yea, but you're hardly the
  bravest thief.  Come on, Arnold, let's get out of this
  unholy place!  (he leaps through the window)
Arnold:  Yah!  (he follows his liege, shouting battle cries
  all the while)
Alindyar:  (aims another viscid glob at a bird, for good
  measure, and then pushes Lyra through the window, only
  following after she is safely out)  Time to make our exit.
Rillen:  Come on, Mongo!
Mongo:  (ducks a wraith's deadly clutches, and leaps out
  the window)  Geronimo!
Belphanior:  (he backs up to Rillen's location, next to
  the windowframe)  Ready to leave, eh?
Rillen:  Count on it.  (they back out simultaneously, and
  sprint after the others)

  The adventurers fled the house, which was blazing in one
whole section by now.  No one stopped to look back until
they were well past the gate and the stone wall.

Mongo:  <huff puff>  Wait up, guys!
Belphanior:  (stops, breathing hard)  What kind of place
  was that, anyway?
Rillen:  Definitely _not_ one to look for horses and food
  at.
Ged:  I could have turned those undead.  Or at least some
  of them.
Mongo:  (coughing)  We were doing okay.
Arnold:  Yah!  I cut dem up good.
Alindyar:  Nonsense.  We would have been overrun ere much
  longer.
Ged:  Yea, I think so.  We'd better keep moving - we don't
  know if they'll follow us or not.  (points his fire wand
  back at the house)  However...I refuse to leave without
  a parting shot.  Knec!  (a huge fireball sails toward
  the place)  Chew on that, undead slime!
Peldor:  Let's get the hell out of here.  (those who had
  slowed their running resume it)  At least we've left that
  horrific stuff behind us...(he fails to notice a yellow
  worm as it falls out of the pocket he secreted the gold
  knife in; the thing lands on the ground and happens to
  get trampled into juice by Mongo's heavy boot)

  The group struck out in a random direction, in the dark,
in a strange land.  Distant howls and other such sounds
could be heard, and they dared not stop for anything.





next time :  barking at the moon

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

notes     :  This was sort of my "horror adventure" for the
           campaign...let's just say that the party did well
           to flee...
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