Chapter #116

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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:    2/27/572 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    late morning                                     +
+   Place:   the Forgotten City, amid the Sea of Dust         +
+   Climate: hot outside, but fairly cool in the dungeons     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "His blood _was_ red, after all."                         +
+                                     - Conan of Cimmeria     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   CXVI.  Exploration





  The adventurers have just entered a huge hall, and two
gigantic brown worms are slithering toward them...

Belphanior:  Yipes!
Mongo:  Cripes!
Arnold:  Pipes!  Dhey look like big pipes.



                               %
      ________________________%   %
     |                           %
| |  |                          %
| |  |   @    @    @    @   @   |
| |__|                          |
|____*                          |
     |                          |
     |   @    @    @    @   @   |
     |                          |
     |__________________________|

     %   edges of worm burrow holes
     @    pillars                          N
     $   secret door                      W+E
     ~   cave-in                           S
     *   party's current location



Arnold:  (charges the worms)  Ah-nold!
Flint:  (also charges the worms)  No one lives forever!
Mongo:  (backs up, so he can throw his hammer)  Yeah,
  especially not the way we fight...
Rillen:  (also backs up, and draws his bow)  True.
Ged:  (begins spellcasting)  By Boccob, this will be a
  battle for the bards to sing about...
Peldor:  (becomes invisible)  Then they'd better make
  sure to sing about Peldor!
Lyra:  (thinking about which spell would be most useful
  here)  Don't fool yourself.
Alindyar:  (casting a spell, and wondering how closely
  the huge brown worms are related to the more common
  purple worm)
Belphanior:  (gets out his lightning rod and moves far
  to one side)  Maybe I can fry these bastards...

Arnold:  (brings his giant sword down on the side of
  one worm, spraying thick blood everywhere, including
  all over himself)  Aaaaa.  Whad a mess!
sand worm #1:  (retaliates, biting at Arnold with its
  mawfull of sharp teeth)  Raaaaagh!  Ssssss!
Arnold:  (cut up pretty badly, he is tossed aside like
  a doll as the worm approaches the second wave, Mongo
  and Rillen)  Aaaaaaaa...whoulmph!
Ged:  I wonder if the big guy ever considered that his
  habit of attacking first might be responsible for
  him getting hurt all the time.
Flint:  (hacks at the second worm, wounding it)  Hah!
sand worm #2:  (bites Flint, and instantly swallows
  him whole!)  Rrraaaargh!  Gulp!
Mongo:  Holy fuckin' shit!  (hurls his hammer at sand
  worm #2, bashing it on the head hard enough to make
  it stop advancing for a moment)  Fucker!
sand worm #2:  Rrrrr...grraaaaaAAAARGH!  (moves even
  faster now)
Rillen:  I think you just made it mad.  (fires one/two
  arrows, hitting Arnold's worm in the head)  I am
  really beginning to like this bow...
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Damned thing ate Flint!
  What the hell will we do now?  I'll bust that worm
  open with my bare hands if I have to!
Belphanior:  Hmm.  (puts his lightning rod away and
  dashes right for the worm)
Rillen:  What in the hell?
sand worm #2:  (opens its maw as the elf approaches)
  Rrroar!
Belphanior:  I'll have to time this just right...(he
  makes a great leap - right into the worm's mouth, at
  the precise moment the maw is fully open)  Ha ha ha!
  Look out belowwwwww......(he vanishes into the huge
  tooth-lined mouth)
Mongo:  That crazy son of-  I don't _believe_ this!!!
Arnold:  (stands up, his plate mail now dented and
  scored in numerous places)  Aaaa!  (he runs forth
  and hacks at the first worm again)
sand worm #1:  (cut deeply, again, whips its tail up
  and around, at the big warrior)
Arnold:  Aaa.  (manages to roll aside as the stinger
  zips by his head)  Aaaaaa.
sand worm #1:  (writhes about in great pain, bleeding
  profusely)
Mongo:  Way to go, Arnold!  (to Rillen)  He's giving
  as good as he gets.
Ged:  Arnold!  Move it!
Arnold:  (rolls away from the worm)  AaaAAAaaaAAAaaa.
  Whoab.  I'm getting dizzy.
Rillen:  (feathers the first worm again, burying two
  arrows in its head)  Damn.  I still missed the eyes.
Mongo:  Hey, looked good to me.
Ged:  (lets a lightning bolt fly, at the first worm,
  and the energy bolt hits the thing right in the
  midsection, tearing its flesh open, and in fact
  nearly cutting it in half)  Boccob!
sand worm #1:  RRAAAARGH!  (rolls around in agony)
Peldor:  (invisible, manages to leap and dodge his
  way around the thrashing worm, and lets rip with
  an incredible backstab)  Yeah!  (his longsword is
  buried to the hilt in the monster's head)
sand worm #1:  (thrashes some more, bashing Peldor
  away in the process, and begins its death throes)
Peldor:  Argh!  Ugh!  Oof!  (lands against a wall
  nearby, and quickly sprints away from the worm,
  which cracks a pillar as it whips its body about)
Ged:  The damned thing's on its way to hell!  Bless
  Boccob!
Alindyar:  (casts a Darkness, 15' Radius upon the
  second worm's head)  'Tis unfortunate that I have
  few spells suitable for combats of this scale.
sand worm #2:  (fails to resist the spell, and now
  finds that it can't see)  Reaargh!  (it tries to
  bite Mongo, who is rather close to it, but instead
  rams its head into a pillar, shaking the floor in
  the nearby area)  Rrrrraaargh!
Mongo:  Dumb fuckin' worm.  (hurls his hammer again,
  and tears a chunk out of the worm's midsection)
  I'll kill this damned monster if it's the last
  thing I ever do!
Lyra:  (decides not to cast a spell, as she has no
  useful spells for this battle)  Damn.

  Meanwhile, inside the worm's gut, Belphanior had
plopped in next to Flint, whose axe was generating
a dim light.  The lining of the worm's stomach was
pale and slimy, glistening in what little light
there was, and the place stunk badly.

Belphanior:  Phew!
Flint:  (turns to face Belphanior)  Hey!  What the
  hell are _you_ doing in here?!?
Belphanior:  Oh, I just dropped in for a bit.  (he
  falls down as the worm rolls and rears)  Whoa!
Flint:  (spots some weird organ nearby)  Wow, have
  you ever seen one of those that big?
Belphanior:  Not since breakfast.  Hey, we really
  ought to break out of here.  (he steadies himself
  as the worm moves violently again)
Flint:  What did you have in mind?
Belphanior:  Ah, just watch.  (grabs his lightning
  rod and tosses it toward the front of the worm,
  then pulls his staff of power from his magical
  quiver)  This should be rather...explosive.  (he
  teeters again, as the worm moves about)
Flint:  Hmm.  Well, you'd better hurry.  The goop
  in this thing's stomach is starting to burn...
Belphanior:  gotcha.  Hey, it couldn't hurt for you
  to take a good hack or two at this thing's belly
  walls, while I'm preparing my staff...
Flint:  (eyes the stomach lining)  You know, you're
  absolutely right.  (he raises his axe carefully
  as he aims)

  Outside the worm's stomach, the others were on
the verge of mounting an all-out attack.  Mongo and
Rillen joined Arnold as they prepared to melee the
worm, who was still thrashing quite a bit due to
Alindyar's darkness spell.  Alindyar, Ged, and Lyra
stood far behind the rank of warriors, preparing
whatever magics might be necessary.  Peldor was
somewhere nearby, invisible again.  Suddenly, the
worm was strangely still, for just a moment - and
then its head exploded!  A forked bolt of lightning
tore its way out of the worm's head, spraying the
room with chunks and bits of gore.  This was rather
interesting, since the darkness spell was still in
effect on the worm's head, at first.  Thick blood
flowed freely, as the worm's body ceased its wild
thrashing at last, and was still.
  Presently, as the others gaped in awe, Belphanior
and Flint crawled out of the jagged-edged ruin that
had been the sand worm's head.  They were absolutely
covered in blood and guts.

Peldor:  Welcome back, you worm edibles.
Ged:  Yea.  I'm sort of surprised that you got out
  before we could cut you out.
Belphanior:  Thanks.  I'd like to see _you_ cut your
  way out of a worm like that!
Alindyar:  Methinks 'blast' would be the appropriate
  term.
Ged:  Hey, _I'm_ not the one who jumped into the
  damned thing's mouth!
Belphanior:  Nope, you're not.  (begins poking his
  sword around in the worm remains, looking for his
  lightning rod)  I am.
Ged:  ...
Rillen:  He is right.
Ged:  (turns to the gore-covered Flint)  And what do
  _you_ have to say?
Flint:  Just give me that water-decanter thing for
  five minutes.  That's all I ask.  (wipes some worm
  blood from his face)  Five minutes.  I need to
  clean up here.

  As wounds were healed, certain rascals started to
explore the big hall.  Ged ran out of healing spells
this time, and Mongo had to use his weird healing
staff to finish up the curing.  Peldor and Belphanior
found nothing of interest in the chamber, though - it
was utterly empty, except for worm remains now.  The
tunnel that exited in the northeast corner, however,
led away, possibly to new rooms, challenges, and lost
treasures.  The passage, obviously dug by the worms,
was about ten feet wide, and very roughly hewn from
the rock.
  After wounds were bound and/or healed, the party
decided that it was lunchtime.  Belphanior mentioned
his notion to try worm innards, and Mongo offered to
cook them for him.  Lunch was rather quiet after that
discussion, and half an hour later, the adventurers
were ready to explore the worm tunnel.

Mongo:  (gazing at the roughly cut passage as he leads
  the way into it)  This is weirder than an elven
  forest.
Ged:  What was that?

  The tunnel wound and twisted its way eastward, and
the dwarves were able to discern that it also took a
downward turn, often sloping steeply as it descended
into the depths of the desert.  After about three to
four hundred feet, the tunnel opened into a chamber,
a huge natural cavern, which had several other such
tunnels leading out.  Mongo guessed that they were
now a good fifty feet below the level of the place
where they had fought the worms.
  They quickly checked out this chamber and its side
tunnels.  In a nook between two boulders was a large
pile of old coins - thousands of copper, silver, and
gold pieces, mixed quite thoroughly.  The adventurers
found that there were numerous gems scattered within
the pile of coins; some were small, a few were larger
and more valuable.  They also found a suit of old yet
largely intact scale mail armor.

Mongo:  Scale mail?  Who the hell uses _scale mail_?

  One of the side passages led to a long, branching
maze of worm tunnels, which seemed to have no real
purpose.  The other wound around for a while before
breaking into a square, man-made chamber.  The group
eventually followed this passage, after gathering
most of the treasure from the main worm lair.  A few
minutes later, they stood in the square room and
surveyed its contents.  Besides an exit, the chamber
held a square pit, perhaps a trap long since sprung.
The pit was deep, about thirty feet, and long, sharp
spikes jutted up from its bottom.  Impaled on some
of these spikes was a twisted skeleton, with a few
bits of old, rusted armor hanging on its bony frame.

Ged:  Hmm.
Belphanior:  I wonder if it's...
Lightbringer:  (speaks up)  Alive?  Undead?  No, the
  thing in the pit ahead is just a normal corpse.
Peldor:  I still think we should check it out.  (he
  looks around for something to tie a rope to, but
  finds nothing)  Crap.
Rillen:  (thinks about his rod of inertia, but then
  decides to let the thief sweat this one out)
Belphanior:  Hell, I'll just climb down.  (proceeds
  to do so, and reaches the bottom safely within a
  minute)  Whew.  (begins looking for secret doors
  or hidden treasure)
Rillen:  This is foolishness.
Alindyar:  Perhaps.  In any event, we shall not
  know until he tries.
Belphanior:  (stamping around down in the pit)  Damn
  it!  Nothing!  Nothing at all!
Peldor:  (gets a sad look on his face)
Ged:  Ah, the folly of it all.
Belphanior:  (climbs out of the pit)  Fuck.  Let's
  get going.

  They went out the exit and into another chamber.
This new room also had one exit, in the far corner;
the center of the room was sunken, in the manner of
a bathhouse. The pit, of unknown depth, was filled
with liquid, and a crust had formed on its surface.

Belphanior:  Looks appetizing, doesn't it?  (he gets
  an arrow out of his pack and dips it into the pool
  for a moment, then pulls it out; the missile is now
  covered with a dark green slime)  Ugh.
Ged:  Hey!  That's green slime!
Mongo:  Yup.
Arnold:  I guess this means we won'd be going swimmink
  here...
Peldor:  I guess not.

  The party pondered the possibility that something of
worth might be in the pool, but several members noted
that few things of value could withstand the acids of
green slime for hundreds of years.  They skirted the
slime pool and exited the room.



| |
|*|
| |______
|   __   |               __
|  |__|  |___           |__|     slime pit
|__________  |            X   pit w/skeleton
           | |__________  *   party's current location
           |            |
           |  X         |
           |____    ____|
               {    }
                {    }   <--- worm tunnel
                 {    }



  A slight scuffing sound could be heard from the area
ahead.  The party advanced carefully, but saw or heard
nothing more as they came to a T-shaped area ahead.  To
the left was a stairway going down; to the right was a
very long corridor, so long that they couldn't see its
end.

Belphanior:  Well, we should finish exploring this level
  before going down to another one.  At least, that's
  what I think.
Ged:  Sounds good to me.
Mongo:  Me too.  (he leads the way to the right, and the
  party advances down the long passage)

  The hallway was dusty and dead-quiet, and their steps
seemed to resound too loudly as they raised dust that had
gone untouched for centuries.  After about five minutes
of walking, a door was visible ahead.  The portal was an
odd one, consisting of a huge slab of grayish, gem-like
material.  It was opaque, so they couldn't see what lay
beyond, but indentions resembling handholds suggested
that the door could be pulled open.
  Ged, Belphanior, and the two drow began to feel queasy
about then.  Bracing themselves, Mongo and Rillen grabbed
the handholds and prepared to heave.





next time :  the dragon's lair

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

notes     :  I'm going to DragonCon this weekend (July 16-18).
           Should be fun.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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