Chapter #115

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



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1993 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...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                            tmiller@cimmeria.gatech.edu      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      13th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       10th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior     9th/11th/11th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           10th/12th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold      9th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         12th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint       9th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        15th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        12th level human warrior              (N)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    2/26/572 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    shortly before dusk                              +
+   Place:   the Forgotten City, amid the Sea of Dust         +
+   Climate: hot                                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Death is just a distant rumor to the young."             +
+                                      - Andy Rooney          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  CXV.  The Forgotten City





  At long last, the adventurers have reached their goal:
the Forgotten City of the ancient Suel empire!  Though
dusk is drawing near, they are too excited to camp right
now, and are preparing to land and explore the ruins
below.

Ged:  (brings the magical balloon down)  Okay, now,
  everybody out.  (he goes out last)  Time for a rest
  now, great balloon of mine.  (speaks a command word
  and the balloon shrinks down to its miniature sphere
  form)  Blessed be Boccob.
Peldor:  (to Belphanior)  Look, he's talking to himself
  again.
Belphanior:  Yeah, well, we're all crazy in our own
  little way.
Mongo:  What was it that Kiel told us, again?
Rillen:  Seek the royal palace, which is the highest
  building in the city.
Arnold:  Roydal paladce.
Flint:  Didn't he also say that the palace would have
  the deepest dungeons and treasure chambers?
Belphanior:  You know, he did.  He did mention that.
  Sounds good to me.  Let's find the place.
Peldor:  If someone can get me up into the air, I'll
  spot that palace in a jiffy...oh wait.  (sips some
  of his potion of flying, and floats up into the
  air)  Hmm.  (peers around up there)
Ged:  (turns from putting away his balloon, only to
  see Peldor rising into the air)  What the hell is
  going on around here?
Peldor:  (yelling down to Ged)  Peldor's mage powers
  have arrived at last!  Archmagi everywhere, take
  heed, for-  (his voice is drowned out by the wind)
Ged:  Bah.  The words of fools mean naught.
Lyra:  Or less than naught.
Alindyar:  Can there be such a quantity?
Rillen:  Only for Peldor.
Belphanior:  If anyone can spy the palace in this
  dusty ruin, it'll be Peldor, though.
Ged:  Yea, I guess so...
Peldor:  Aha!  (points to the east)  I see it!  It's
  a few miles that way!  (he drops down to ground
  level once more)  Let's get going, before night
  falls.
Mongo:  Yup.  (he leads the way into the city, as the
  wind picks up)

  The great city had once been surrounded by a huge,
thick wall, but now that mighty barrier was shattered
in numerous places.  Frequently, large patches of
sand and rock had been fused into a glassy substance,
no doubt by some terrible magical force during the
Rain of Colorless Fire centuries past.  Despite the
carnage and the effects of seven centuries of time
and erosion, the dominant architecture of the ancient
Sueloise could be seen all around - high, angular
buildings with precise slopes and windows.  Even the
highest of the old structures now rose only fifty
feet or so above the desert floor, for time had
covered the city in countless layers of dust and ash,
and its lower stories, and streets, were buried deep
below.  What the adventurers were now looking at were
the top floors of the taller buildings and towers.

Ged:  ...just like Kiel told us.
Mongo:  Hey, this is good stuff.  After all, the
  architecture survived all this time.  I bet they
  had dwarven help.
Ged:  Don't play the fool.  The ancient Suel were a
  cruel and violent people, shunned by dwarves and
  elves alike.
Lyra:  Probably halflings and gnomes too, from what
  I've heard.
Ged:  Yea.
Mongo:  Hmph.
Belphanior:  Yo!  Something's moving up ahead in the
  sand!

  One of the twenty-foot worm-things slithered from
below, and burst out right in front of the party.

Mongo:  Worm!  (hurls his hammer at the thing, but
  misses, scoring only a glancing blow that does
  no damage to the thickly-armored monster)
Ged:  By Boccob, that's a big one!  (hefts his
  morningstar and charges, as the magical weapon
  comes to life and begins blabbering)
Lightbringer:  It's been a long time, apparently,
  since you entered into a combat...
Ged:  Huh?  Hey, I've been using a lot of spells
  lately.  It's not my fault if I didn't want to
  enter melee.  And anyway, there haven't been any
  undead around in quite some time.
Lightbringer:  (grumbling)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Flint:  (hefts  his axe)
Arnold:  Aaa.  (hefts his sword)
Alindyar:  'Tis an ankheg, no doubt.  (begins his
  spellcasting)
Lyra:  And a rather large specimen, as Ged noted.
  (also begins spellcasting)
Rillen:  (grabs for his bow)
ankheg:  (snaps its mandibles at Arnold, the prey
  with the most meat, and hits, inflicting terrible
  wounds as it rears in the air, the human clutched
  in its jaws)  Reeaargh!
Arnold:  Aaaargh!  (bleeds, and tries to hack at the
  monster, but finds that he dropped his sword due
  to being bitten)  Led me go!
Belphanior:  (somersaults forth, as the worm's
  attention is focused on Arnold, and slashes at
  the creature's head)  Hiya!
ankheg:  (its head plates deflect the elf's blow as
  well)  Reeaarg!
Belphanior:  Dammit!  (rolls back a bit)  That's one
  tough worm, guys!
Peldor:  I wonder if this is the same one that chased
  us earlier.  (becomes invisible)
Rillen:  (lets an arrow fly, and the missile doubles,
  and both arrows lodge in the monster's back)  Hmm.
  It may take quite a few arrows to fell that beast.
Alindyar:  (casts a Phantasmal Force, of a huge cow,
  near the monster)  Perhaps this prey will distract
  the thing.
phantasmal cow:  Moo!  (runs around the ankheg)
ankheg:  Rraaarrr?  (ignores the illusion)
Alindyar:  Alas, the creature must rely on vibration
  rather than sight.
phantasmal cow:  (runs away to do phantasmal things)
Lyra:  You learn something new every time, eh?  (she
  casts Charm Monster upon the ankheg)
ankheg:  (stops moving, and drops Arnold)  Rrrrr.
Arnold:  Ooof.  Aaaaa.  (looks around for his sword,
  which is laying far to one side)
Ged:  (stops his charge)  What's going on?!?  Did
  you charm it?
Lyra:  Apparently.
Arnold:  (stands up shakily, and prepares to slash
  the creature in the head with a dagger)  Ah-nold!
Ged:  No, Arnold!  (runs over and holds Arnold back)
Arnold:  Whaat?  I don'd undersdand!
Ged:  We've got the beast under control now.  You
  don't have to attack it anymore.
Arnold:  But it hurd Ah-nold!  It must be slain!
Ged:  No need.
Arnold:  (grumbling)  I don'd get it.
Ged:  Here, let me cure your wounds and I'll try to
  explain it to you.
Arnold:  Woundbs?  (realizes that he's quite bruised
  and beaten, under his plate mail)  Aaa.
Rillen:  (puts his bow down)
Alindyar:  (spots Arnold's sword, and tries to pick
  it up and take it to him, but can barely lift the
  weapon)  Ugh.
Lyra:  The weapons are best left to the warriors...

  Belphanior and Peldor agreed with Arnold - they
wanted to gang up and slay the creature right then
and there.  Lyra managed to persuade them that the
ankheg was more useful alive than dead, as it might
be able to lead them to a tunnel or something.  The
monster wasn't cooperating, though, for it just
rolled around in the sand like a dog.  Eventually,
the adventurers left it alone, and continued their
march toward the palace.  About half an hour later,
they reached their goal; the huge palace's upper
floors were before them.  There was no doubt about
it, when they saw the colossal structure - this was
a royal palace.  Even in its eroded and decayed
condition, the building was quite grand, looming
over the party like a high mountain peak.
  Unfortunately, the adventurers couldn't find an
opening that wasn't filled with sand.  They were
all searching, now, and did so for another half
hour, until it became dark outside, but the best
they could find was a single room, whose doorway
to the rest of the palace was filled with sand.
Since it was dark, they decided to camp in this
chamber (it was more spacious than the balloon's
small cabin, too) and continue searching tomorrow,
in daylight.  Mongo liked the room because he could
dig sand away and find a good, solid floor hidden
underneath; no worms would be burrowing up from
below here.
  The party set their watch shifts, unpacked, ate
supper, built a fire, and piled some rocks from
outside in the windowframe (for that was how they
entered this chamber) to help fortify the room,
should that prove necessary.

  However, nothing but strange dreams bothered
the adventurers this night.  Some dreamed of a
great magical holocaust; others dreamed of wars
fought when the world was still young; yet others
dreamed of a great journey from a faraway land,
a journey fraught with great peril.  Morning saw
the party somewhat confused, yet ready to explore
further.  An entrance, some passage or tunnel to
rooms not filled with sand, would have to be found
first, though.  The adventurers searched among the
various buildings, entering through gaping holes
where windows used to be and then checking the
rooms beyond.  It was slow and frustrating going,
but finally, after an hour of laborious searching,
an opening to the buried chambers beneath the sand
was discovered.

Flint:  Hey!  Hey everybody!  Look here!  (he has
  uncovered a loose floor stone that sounds hollow
  when tapped)  Tap tap.  Someone help me get this
  rock up.
Mongo:  (rushes over, and the two dwarves lift the
  heavy stone and set it aside, revealing a dark
  corridor below)  Good work!
Belphanior:  It's a good bet that nobody's been
  this way before...

  They made ready to descend into the lost depths
of the Forgotten City.  Weapons were made ready;
armor buckles were double-checked; torches were
lit.  There was no need for a rope, as rusty, but
sturdy, iron rungs lined the wall below the hatch.
With Mongo leading the way, the group descended
into the dark, dusty corridor...

Mongo:  (leading the way, Arnold on his right)  I'd
  sure like to see what kind of stuff is down here.
Arnold:  (bearing a torch)  Yah, me too.
Rillen:  (in the second rank, also holds a torch)
  You will have your chance soon, I am sure.
Belphanior:  (in the second rank, wondering why he
  isn't in the first rank)
Ged:  (in the third rank, bearing Lightbringer,
  which lives up to its name, providing a good,
  bright light)  Think we have enough light here?
Flint:  (in the third rank)  Yup.
Lyra:  (in the fourth rank)  Maybe too much.
Alindyar:  (in the fourth rank)  Verily.
Peldor:  (all by himself in the fifth rank)  I feel
  lonely back here.  (wonders why there has to be a
  fifth rank)



      ____________________                          N
     |____________________|                        W+E
       ^_____                                       S
             \_____ location where party descended



Peldor:  (turns around)  Hey.  (turns back)  I don't
  see any doors ahead.
Belphanior:  Maybe this used to be someone's secret
  escape hatch.  (pushes his way to the front of the
  marching order, as Mongo and Arnold reach the blank
  stone wall)  Let's just see.  (he quickly finds a
  catch, and the wall slides away, revealing a small
  room with a single doorway to one side)  Hah!
Mongo:  Look, that door's long since rotted away.
Arnold:  Yah.  (enters the chamber, and pokes around
  at some rotten barrels and dusty, decayed sacks)
Ged:  Hmm, this must have been a food storage closet
  once upon a time.
Mongo:  Yeah, well, it's all dust now.  (peers into
  the next room)

  The next chamber was an enormous hall, perhaps once
a dining room.  A high, vaulted ceiling had half-
collapsed, filling a part of the room that they could
not see with mounds of sand.  A second doorway, its
door long since rotted away, was near the one they
were entering through.  Of more interest, however,
was the massive form that was standing in the center
of the room.  Fully ten feet tall, and appearing to
be composed entirely of sand, it still had a roughly
humanoid shape.  The thing shuffled in the party's
direction, leaving a thin trail of sand in its wake.
A strange scratching sound came from the place most
analogous to its head, and there could be no doubting
its intentions as it came closer.

sand thing:  (raises a sandy arm as it bears down on
  the adventurers)
Mongo:  Hey, what the hell's this?!?  (raises his
  hammer)
Arnold:  Sand mondster!

  Arnold, Belphanior, and Flint charged the thing,
while Mongo and Rillen stayed back to use missile
weapons.  Ged, Alindyar, and Lyra prepared spells,
and Peldor simply blinked out of visibility.

Arnold:  (hacks at the thing, but his sword passes
  right through its form)  Aaaa?
sand golem:  (swings an arm at Arnold, hitting with
  a muffled 'thump')
Arnold:  (knocked back, with hundreds of miniature
  cuts on his skin)  Aaaargh!  (he dances about in
  pain)
Ged:  By Boccob!  I've never seen Arnold dance in
  pain before!
Belphanior:  Err...(deciding not to try and stop
  his charge, he slashes at the thing, but like the
  attack of Arnold, his weapon has no effect)  Aie!
  (he barely ducks a blow like the one which hurt
  Arnold)  Whoa!
Flint:  (slashes at the thing with his axe, but to
  no avail - the weapon passes right through the
  sandy body, doing no harm whatsoever)  Damn!
Mongo:  Obviously, something different is called
  for here.  (hurls his hammer at the golem, and
  gets a direct hit, splattering sand all over the
  place)  Yeah!
sand golem:  (stands still for a moment as grains
  that were knocked off flow into its feet and
  rejoin the main body)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Fuck!
Rillen:  (fires arrows, which hit, but don't even
  seem to faze the thing)  Not good.
Lyra:  (casts Shocking Grasp, but is too far away
  from the thing to make an attack right now)  My
  time will come...(circles around the monster)
Peldor:  (invisible, and betting that Lyra would
  like to be right now, too)
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer again, but fails to hit
  the golem this time)  Damn and damn again!
Ged:  (casts Slow upon the creature)  Taste the
  power of Boccob, dust demon!
sand golem:  (shrugs off the spell)
Ged:  It's not working...
Rillen:  (hits with two more arrows, which have no
  apparent effect)  Not good at all.
Alindyar:  (casts Web)  Perhaps a good web will
  keep yonder creature in its place.
sand golem:  (its top half is covered by the web,
  and it staggers about)
Mongo:  Hey!  All right!
sand golem:  (flows out of the web smoothly)
Mongo:  All-  ...shit.
Alindyar:  Alas.
Flint:  (chops at the golem again, doing no damage)
Belphanior:  (slashes again, but misses)  Crap.
Mongo:  We gave it everything we've got - and didn't
  even slow it down!

Peldor:  (backstabs the golem, spraying sand in all
  directions)  Hah!  The true might of Peldor has-
sand golem:  (reforms, and turns to face the thief)
Peldor:  (now visible)  -eep.
Lyra:  (finally dashes forth and delivers her spell)
sand golem:  (a section of its body is fused into a
  glassy substance, but it is largely unfazed, and
  swats both Peldor and Lyra out of its way)
Peldor:  (knocked back)  Whoulf!  (rolls into a wall
  and looks around)  Ouch.
Lyra:  (wearing no armor, of course, she is wounded
  a bit more badly)  Aaaargh!  (collapses, stunned
  and bleeding)
Alindyar:  Aie!
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer again)  Dammit!
sand golem:  (ignores the weapon as it impacts and
  sends sand spraying everywhere)
Flint:  (hacks at the thing again)  Maybe if we hit
  it enough, it'll fall!
Arnold:  (on his feet again)  Maybe.
sand golem:  (becomes still)
Arnold:  Aaaaa?
Rillen:  What nonsense is this?  (hits the golem in
  the head area with two arrows)
Belphanior:  (doesn't miss this opportunity to take
  a free shot, and slashes the golem, scoring a very
  solid hit that still does the thing no harm)
Mongo:  Hey, look out!  It's shaking!
sand golem:  (quivers, then trembles violently, then
  suddenly explodes, spraying everyone with a shower
  of stinging sand which leaves them bleeding on all
  exposed body parts)
Alindyar:  Aargh!  (his spell is ruined)
Belphanior:  Yow!  (jumps back)  How the hell do we
  beat this thing?
Mongo:  (well-protected in his plate mail)  I don't
  know, but we'd better figure out something, and
  fast!
Arnold:  (similarly, avoids much damage due to his
  plate mail)  Aaa.
Flint:  (wounded somewhat)  Yargh!
sand golem:  (already reforming into a single mass)
Belphanior:  Shit.
Rillen:  (far enough back that he takes only minimal
  damage from the sandstorm)  Ouch.
Ged:  (likewise)  Enough, by Boccob!  (casts Dig upon
  the golem, on an inspired whim)  Maybe if we hit
  him while he's scattered a bit...
Alindyar:  He?
sand golem:  (instantly collapses into millions of
  grains of sand, and fails to re-form)
Mongo:  Yeah!
Ged:  By Boccob, it _worked_!  How mighty!
Belphanior:  Bravo.

  The party rested, bound wounds, and (in some cases)
were healed by Ged.  Mongo pointed out that he still
had his rod of healing, the one with the strange carven
leaves and snakes entwined about its length, but for
now, Ged was able to handle the chore of healing those
who were seriously wounded (there were several).
  Mongo peered through the doorway into the next room,
while Peldor searched for treasure.  All the thief was
able to find, though, were a rusty, broken longsword
and a pile of smashed glass bottles.  Shortly afterward,
the adventurers entered the next section, which Mongo
had already noted to be free of monsters.  This new
area was a dead-end, blocked by tons upon tons of sand
that had probably fallen before any of the nine had been
born.  A small side doorway led to another chamber,
however, so the group entered that area.



       N              ________________
      W+E            |                |
       S             |   golem room   |
      _______________|____ _  _   ____|  __  __
     |____________________$__| | |______|      |
       ^                       |  ______       |
       |                       | |      |______|
       |_____                   ~~
             \_____ location where party descended

     $   secret door
     ~   cave-in



Mongo:  (looking around)  Hey, there's something here!
Arnold:  In the shadows.  (holds his torch higher, and
  reveals four translucent shapes approaching from the
  far side of the room)  Aaa.
Lightbringer:  (glows brightly)  Spectres!
Belphanior:  Geez, just go ahead and ruin it for us all.
  (sheathes Blackrazor, as it will do no good against
  undead such as these, and contemplates spellcasting
  options)
Lightbringer:  The slaying of foul undead requires no
  approval from living mortals!  Attack them, Ged!
Ged:  (holds his holy symbol high in his other hand)  I
  banish you apparitions, in the name of Boccob!
Lightbringer:  What are you doing?!?
Ged:  Turning undead...
spectres:  (turned, barely, they back away)
Lightbringer:  Now!  (in Ged's grasp, it charges forth
  and bashes a spectre, disintegrating it in a flash
  of light)  Ha!
Ged:  Hey!  (he finds that the weapon seems to have a
  will of its own)  Stop that!
Lightbringer:  Disruption calls, evil ones!

  For the next few moments, Ged and the holy morningstar
dashed about and destroyed the spectres, one by one.  If
the elf had been using any other weapon, this would have
presented a problem, since by definition an attack surely
negated his turning.  However, Lightbringer possessed a
level of holy power seldom seen, except by the highest of
priests, and one touch from the morningstar was enough to
disrupt the spectres once and for all.
  Thus, the chamber was cleared, and quiet, a few moments
later.

Ged:  Holy...(addresses his weapon)  Don't drag me into
  combat like that!
Lightbringer:  You should have attacked immediately, as
  I said.
Ged:  Spectres are dangerous foes, not to be trifled
  with in melee!
Lightbringer:  They are dark and foul vermin, to be put
  to death.  I have spoken.  (goes silent)
Ged:  Hrrrmph.  (puts the weapon away, still visibly
  upset with it)
Belphanior:  _Well_.
Peldor:  Aren't we fierce...
Belphanior:  Sure...(ends that line of thought)  Hey,
  let's check out this room.  (they all enter the place)

  The chamber was square, and had a single doorway to
the north.

Peldor:  (looking at a rusted picture frame on one wall)
  Hey, If _I_ was going to hide something...(removes the
  old metal frame from the wall, revealing the rusty yet
  intact door of a wall safe)  Aha!
Belphanior:  (meanders over towards his fellow thief)
Mongo:  (meanders after Belphanior, determined to make
  sure the thieves don't steal any treasure)
Flint:  (rubs the heel of his boot in the black smudge
  where Lightbringer destroyed one of the spectres)  Ug.
Peldor:  (quickly gets the safe opened, and gingerly
  pulls out some treasure)  The mighty Peldor!  What in
  the world would you do without his talents?
Belphanior:  They'd probably get me to do this...

  The party gazed upon the items that the thief had
recovered:  sixteen dusty, yet rather large, gemstones
as well as a potion bottle containing black liquid.

Mongo:  Lemme see one of those.  (snatches a gem from
  Peldor, and rubs it with his sleeve)  A ruby!  (it is
  quickly found that all the gems are rubies)  Hey, I
  bet these are worth some serious money!
Peldor:  Of course.
Belphanior:  (examines the potion bottle)  No telling
  what this stuff is, after all these years...

  The items were put in a chest within Mongo's portable
hole, and the party headed for the doorway, which Rillen
had already been checking.  It led to a T-shaped section
of passage, whose left fork was caved in with sand.  The
right fork led eastward and turned around a corner about
forty feet away; they took this passage.



       N              ________________
      W+E            |                |  ~~~ _______
       S             |   golem room   |  ~\~ ____ *|
      _______________|____ _  _   ____|  __||__  | |
     |____________________$__| | |______| spec | | |__|
       ^                       |  ______  tres | |____
       |                       | |      |______|      |
       |_____                   ~~
             \_____ location where party descended

     $   secret door
     ~   cave-in
     *   party's current location



  The passage led to a huge hall, much more cavernous
than the other one.  Its vaulted ceiling was at least
sixty feet high - it was truly a wonder that it had
not collapsed after all these centuries - and pillars
of a diameter greater than a man's height dotted the
chamber.  Actually, perhaps the pillars accounted for
the ceiling's continued sturdiness.
  Anyway, the more observant adventurers noted two
things at the same time.  The first was the gaping,
rough-edged tunnel at the far end, that led out of
here.  The second, and probably more important at the
moment, was the pair of enormous brown worms that had
just spotted the party, and were rapidly slithering
toward their end of the hall.  These were not the
smaller, twenty-foot long worms seen in the desert
and fought in the city, but rather the much larger,
hundred-foot variety.

Belphanior:  Yipes.





next time :  ...

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

notes     :  In many ways, this adventure, and not the next
           one (their last), was the pinnacle of the whole
           campaign.  Just thought I'd tell you all that...
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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