Chapter #121

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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      14th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       10th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior    10th/11th/12th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           11th/12th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold      9th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+        ?             grey cat (familiar)             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         13th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint       9th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        16th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        13th level human warrior              (N)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    6/1/572 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    early evening                                    +
+   Place:   the ruins of Greyhawk Castle, north of the City  +
+   Climate: cool                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "When dealing with the insane, the best method is to      +
+    pretend to be sane."                                     +
+                                       Hermann Hesse         +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





           CXXI.  The Beginning of the End





  The adventurers have descended an immense series of
stairwells and landings, to emerge into a square room
with a couple of exits.  As some of the adventurers
sweep away the caltrops on the floor, others scan the
surrounding area...

          ________
         |      ##|        NE
         +      ##|        |
         |        |    NW--+--SE
         |  ______|        |
         | |              SW
        _| |____
                                ##   stairs up
                                 +   door



  There was a significant amount of rubble littering the
floor by the stairs.

Mongo:  I betcha these stairs once went down further -
  it looks like that part of it collapsed.
Alindyar:  (pondering the usefulness of having a dwarf in
  the party)  Indeed.
Belphanior:  Someone's coming - southwest passage!

hobgoblins:  (four, they charge from the mentioned passage
  into the stairwell room, obviously hoping to gain the
  advantage of surprise)  Yargh!
Ged:  Phew!  I knew I smelled something.
grey cat:  (pokes its head out of Ged's backpack)  Meow?
Rillen:  (bashes a hobgoblin, knocking it down)
hobgoblin#1:  (gets back up)
Belphanior:  (stabs at a hobgoblin, wounding it)
hobgoblin#2:  (staggers, but raises its sword)
Mongo:  These are pretty tough hobgoblins.
Arnold:  (hacks a hobgoblin, slaying it)  Nod really.
Flint:  (chops Belphanior's hobgoblin, finishing it off)
  Damned humanoids.
Rillen:  (swats his foe again, slaying it)
hobgoblin#4:  (slashes at Mongo)  Aaar!
Mongo:  (his plate mail repels the blade, and he smashes
  the hobgoblin with his hammer)  Back, scum!
hobgoblin#4:  <splat>  (dies)
Mongo:  Hmm, maybe not so tough.
Peldor:  (filching small coin pouches from the dead)

  The party checked the room the humanoids came from, but
found only filthy straw mats, dung, and two doors.  They
returned to the stair room, and took the northwest door
there.  It led to an empty room with two doors; the group
took one door and found that it led to a passage.

                  ________
       __________|      ##|          NE
      |       ___+      ##|          |
      |empty |   | stairs |      NW--+--SE
      |      |_  |  ______|          |
      |..____+ | | |                SW
             | |_| |____
             | +_  hg.  +             ##     stairs up
             | | | lair |          .. or +   door
             | | |______|
             | |
            /   \



Peldor:  (spots a strange fountain in the chamber to the
  southwest)  Hey, that looks neat.
Mongo:  Which way do we go now?
Ged:  I'd say explore the fountain.  Better that than a
  bunch of rooms filled with hobgoblins.
Rillen:  Agreed.  They would wear us down over time.
Flint:  Damned humanoids.
Mongo:  Whatever.  (wanders toward the fountain room)

  They headed in that direction, and entered a round room
with a domed ceiling.  In its center was a fountain, with
a small sphere spurting water into the air, to fall back
into a pool.  The pool was, however, twenty feet deep, and
its bottom could be seen from where the adventurers stood.

Ged:  I wonder...(casts Detect Magic)  Boccob!
Peldor:  What?
Ged:  (ignores the thief's foolishness)  This place is one
  of the most highly magical areas that I've ever seen!
Alindyar:  Perhaps the pool has unusual powers...?
Peldor:  Hmm.
Mongo:  Yeah, maybe.  Peldor, why don't you jump in and
  find out?
Peldor:  Me?
Belphanior:  (without hesitation, he jumps into the water,
  splashing the others...and vanishes!)
Mongo:  Cripes.
Peldor:  We should go in after him!
Mongo:  Hold your horses.  (gets his magical Orb of Fate
  out, and addresses it)  Uh...is Belphanior now dead, or
  injured?
orb:  NO.
Peldor:  Hey!  It talks!
Mongo:  Okay.  (puts the orb away, leaps into the pool,
  and blinks away like Belphanior did)
Peldor:  (quickly follows the dwarf, and also vanishes)
Ged:  (checking his scrolls)  Good thing they're in these
  waterproof tubes...now, about my spellbook...the thing's
  supposed to be waterproof.
Alindyar:  Aye.
Lyra:  Ours are too.
cat:  (pokes its head out of Ged's pack)  Meow!
Lyra:  Not like your familiar there.
Arnold:  I don'd tink he wands to get wed.
cat:  Meow!  (leaps onto the floor, and sniffs the water
  in the pool)  Rrr...(looks at Ged)
Ged:  What?  We have to go in the pool, after that foolish
  Belphanior.
cat:  Sss...
Flint:  Well, I'm not waiting around on a friggin' cat.
  (leaps into the waters, and disappears)
Ged:  See?  Now come on.
cat:  (scratching its head with a paw)

meanwhile, somewhere below...

Belphanior:  (leaps out of a pool similar to the one above)
  Yow, this is _cold_!  (stands dripping on a stone floor,
  facing four passages leading away)  Hmm.  (considers the
  possibility of bottling some of the fountain water)
small wispy form:  (rather like a small balloon in general
  shape, it faces Belphanior, vague eyes and mouth visible
  in its misty body)
Belphanior:  What the-
wispy thing:  (hovers in front of the elf, and flits around)
Belphanior:  What are you?  Can you talk?
wispy thing:  (continues to float there)
Belphanior:  (tries to communicate with the thing using his
  sword, but nothing happens)  Talk to me, dammit!
wispy thing:  (sails around a corner and disappears)
Belphanior:  Well, I'll be...
Mongo:  (soon appears in the pool)  Hey, the others should
  be coming in a minute.  You okay?
Belphanior:  Yeah...say, did you see any misty forms around
  here, since we entered this dungeon?
Mongo:  No, why, did you?
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (they regard their new setting as the
  other party members appear, one by one)  Hmm.  (he looks
  down, seeing that this pool is as deep as the last)  No
  monsters in this pool.
Mongo:  (somewhat confused)

  Shortly, the others appeared, Ged coming last, his grey
(and very wet) cat held in one hand.  Soaking wet, the
adventurers looked around and considered their options.



                  _________
                 |       __+
                 |      |
                 |      |            + or .   door
                 |    % |               *     fountain
                 | %    |__            %      bones
                 |____   __|
                      | |
                      | |                      NE
                      | |                      |
                |____/   \__|              NW--+--SE
                 ____  *  _____                |
                |    \   /                    SW
                      | |
                      |.|



Mongo:  Let's head for that big room to the northeast.
Peldor:  (thinking about treasure)  The bigger, the
  better.  (they all walk in that direction)

  The large room was empty, but looked well-traveled,
with signs of recent habitation.  Also, some bones were
strewn around in a couple of places.  A single door in
one corner of the room led out, and they took it, next
entering a huge room filled with rubble.  The boulders
and dirt were piled to the ceiling in some places, but
a large double door to the southwest was not blocked
by the rubble.

Mongo:  It'd take us a while to dig that crap away...
  and I'm not sure we'd get anywhere.  (kicks a small
  stone)
Rillen:  The door, then?
Ged:  Let's go.

  They took the double door, and entered a wide, empty
hall.

                        _
                       | ##
              _________|  ##
             |       __+   #####
             |      |  |___..__##
             |      |   |      |     + or .   door
             |    % |   |      |        *     fountain
             | %    |__ |      |       %      bones
             |____   __||      |        #     rubble
                  | |   |      |
                  | |   |      |
                  | |   |   %  |____
            |____/   \__| %  %               NE
             ____  *  ______________         |
            |    \   /                   NW--+--SE
                  | |                        |
                  |.|                       SW

Belphanior:  (looks to the southeast, seeing that the
  large hallway intersects another large hallway, with
  bones aplenty scattered about)  Bah.  There's no
  great power to be found here.
Mongo:  This place is emptier'n a hanged man's bowels!
Ged:  Or Peldor's head.
Alindyar:  Indeed.
Flint:  This is dumb.  Let's try another way.

  They headed northwest again, and took the southwest
passage.  The door was unlocked, and opened easily,
revealing a long gallery of ancient artwork.  Here were
many alcoves, each containing either a sculpture, a
painting, or a strange floating image.  All of these
were extremely beautiful, and looked quite valuable as
well.
                        _
                       | ##
              _________|  ##
             |       __+   #####
             |      |  |___..__##
             |      |   |      |     + or .   door
             |    % |   |      |        *     fountain
             | %    |__ |      |       %      bones
             |____   __||      |        #     rubble
                  | |   |      |
                  | |   |      |
                  | |   |   %  |____
            |____/   \__| %  %               NE
             ____  *  ______________         |
            |    \   /                   NW--+--SE
                  | |                        |
         __=_=____|.|_______^_^_^_^_        SW
        |  _ _ ________   __ _ _ _ _>
       (  | = =        | |  v v v v
        | |            < >
       (  |            < >   ^ v < >   alcove w/sculpture
        | |            < >      =      alcove w/painting
       (__|             v      ) (     alcove w/image



Ged:  Boccob!
Peldor:  Or his art gallery, at least.
Ged:  (his Detect Magic still in effect)  Folks...this
  whole place is magical.
Alindyar:  (regarding a statuette of a pair of intertwined
  drow elves, obviously a mated pair)  Hmm.
Flint:  (looking at a painting of a great castle)  Wow.
Peldor:  (points out a statue of a fierce dragon)  I bet
  the mighty Peldor could beat that thing.
Arnold:  (sees a sculpted warrior on a huge horse)  Aaa.
Belphanior:  (spots a statue of a noble woman, her body
  decorated with all kinds of shining - and real - golden
  jewelry)  Hey, Peldor.
Peldor:  (strolls over)  Hmm.  Ah!
Ged:  (raises his hand)  Only a fool would steal items from
  this place.  Zagyg's wrath will fall upon you, should you
  take any of these works.
Peldor:  (pondering his chances)
Belphanior:  Bah.  Who needs gold, anyway?  There are no
  great magical forces to gain, here.
Peldor:  Huh?
Alindyar:  (regarding a picture, a three-dimensional image
  of an Underdark city)  Incredible!
Arnold:  Whad?
Alindyar:  'Tis Dril'ithzan'abaar.  The place of my birth.
Arnold:  Dril-  Drilid-  Aaa.  I can'd say thad right.
Lyra:  (to Alindyar)  You never told me you were from that
  city!
Alindyar:  You never asked.
Lyra:  I believe your home city was due to be raided, by
  my-  What?!?  (she is looking at the painting, and it is
  changing, to show a similar, but different, drow city)
Alindyar:  That is not Dril'ithzan'abaar.
Lyra:  I would hope not.  No, the place the painting now
  depicts is my childhood home, in Rilauven!
Alindyar:  Ah, Rilauven.  A city that my own has been at
  great odds with for millenia.
Lyra:  So our home cities were at war with one another.
Alindyar:  They still are.
Lyra:  But who cares, for we have renounced them anyway.
Alindyar:  True.  (hugs Lyra)
Peldor:  Aww...
Belphanior:  (watching the painting, as it now depicts a
  three-dimensional image of an orcish raid on an elven
  village)  What's this?  (the portrait continues to move
  and shift, now showing an elven infant being born in a
  homestead while the battle rages outside)
Lyra:  The painting seems enchanted to show the origin of
  the obs-
Belphanior:  I can see that.  (nothing further is shown
  by the painting, though)  Hmm.
Arnold:  (gazing at the painting, he sees a small, crude
  barbarian village, with children brawling and wrestling
  happily)  Aaa...
Flint:  (walks over, others following him)  What's this
  you've found?  (he looks at the painting, and it shifts
  to depict an underground dwarven city)  Ahh, my youthful
  home...
Mongo:  Looks like a good city.
Peldor:  (approaches the painting)  I wonder what secrets
  this thing holds for me?  (the painting changes to depict
  a cloudy sky, nothing more)
Ged:  How useless.
Peldor:  (somewhat disappointed, decides not to show it)
  I can see that even the mighty Boccob and Zagyg have no
  power to know of Peldor's origin!
Ged:  Don't play the fool.  They simply choose not to show
  such things to the weak of mind and spirit.
Mongo:  This is boring now.  Let's go.
Flint:  Yeah.
Rillen:  (walks up to regard the portrait)  An interesting
  item, this.  (the painting shifts to reveal a tiny black
  baby, being cared for by shaven-headed monks)  This is
  nothing I do not know already.  (turns from the portrait)
  Let us go.

  They returned to the fountain room, and decided to check
the northwest passage leading from that place.  It led to
a room containing straw beds, food scraps, and maggots.

Alindyar:  Methinks someone has been here recently.

  A passage led to a hallway, with three doors nearby...


                                            _
                                           | ##
                                  _________|  ##
                                 |       __+   #####
                                 |      |  |___..__##
                                 |      |   |      |
                                 |    % |   |      |
                                 | %    |__ |      |
                                 |____   __||      |
             ____|.|_____|.|          | |   |      |
            |  ____ . ___  |          | |   |      |
            | |    | |   | |____      | |   |   %  |__
            | |          |      |____/   \__| %  %
                         |       ____  *  ____________
                         |______|    \   /
                                      | |
                             __=_=____|.|_______^_^_^_^_
                            |  _ _ ________   __ _ _ _ _>
                           (  | = =        | |  v v v v
                            | |            < >
                           (  |            < >
                            | |            < >
                           (__|             v


+ or .    door                              NE
*         fountain                          |
%         bones                         NW-- --SE
#         rubble                            |
^v><=)(   various alcoves                  SW



  The adventurers went through the nearest door, and entered
a small, squarish room containing some bones.  The place was
rather damp, and a crack in the floor ran for part of its
length.  Other than this, the room had no exits, and was
empty.

Peldor:  (gets down on the floor and peeps into the crack)
  Hey!  There's some shiny treasure down there!  (he tries
  to reach down into the crack, but finds that his arm is
  too wide to fit)  Damn.
Mongo:  (flexes his huge bicep)  I guess this rules me and
  you out, Arnold.
Arnold:  Yah.
Ged:  Let me try.  (he reaches into the crack, but even his
  skinny arm is too big)
Lyra:  I think I could get my hand down there.
Peldor:  Wait.  (he spots some small, scaly forms down in
  the crack)  Snakes!
Lyra:  Yipes.
Peldor:  (uses his ring of telekinesis to pull items out
  of the crack)  This is much easier.  (a purple gem and a
  golden bracelet float out of the crack)  This is about
  all that's down there, but coins.  Unless anyone wants
  a highly poisonous cobra?
Belphanior:  Well, actually...
Mongo:  Nah, that's okay.  Leave the coins to the snakes.

  The adventurers left the room, and went to the next one,
passing through a door.  The room was empty, however, and
they crossed the hall, entering a room with rather large
contents.  A huge bed, over twenty feet long, stood at the
center of the chamber, its surface a good six feet above
the floor.  Some giant-sized clothes, including a pair of
huge boots, rested at the foot of the bed.

Peldor:  (leaps up onto the bed)  Ah, comfortable.
Ged:  (examining the clothes and boots, his Detect Magic
  still in effect)  These boots - they're magical!
Mongo:  I don't know if they'll fit in my portable hole.
  (he and Rillen stuff the boots into the now-open hole,
  after checking them for occupants)
Belphanior:  (looking under the bed)  Nothing here.  No
  floor hatches, either.  What about you, Peldor?  (he
  looks around)  Peldor?
Peldor:  (asleep atop the huge bed)  Zzzzz...
Rillen:  Wake him up.  We have to get going.
Belphanior:  (shaking Peldor)  I know you're tired, but
  come on.  It's time to go.
Peldor:  Zzzz...
Rillen:  (grabs Peldor, and forcibly pulls him off of
  the bed)
Peldor:  (wakes up with a start)  Huh?!?  I must have been
  dreaming.
Ged:  Just like always.
Peldor:  (yawns, and rubs his eyes)  I didn't think I was
  _that_ tired.  (stretches)
Ged:  The bed's magical too.  Maybe it has some effect on
  those who rest on it.  Then again, when a lazy fool is
  concerned...
Peldor:  (yawns again)  Well, if we have to go...

  They exited the chamber, and headed down the corridor to
the left.
                                            _
                                           | ##
                                  _________|  ##
                                 |       __+   #####
                                 |      |  |___..__##
               ______   ______   |      |   |      |
              |crack | |    % |  |    % |   |      |
              | room | | %    |  | %    |__ |      |
              |__   _| |_   __|  |____   __||      |
             ____|.|_____|.|          | |   |      |
            |  ____ . ___  |          | |   |      |
            | |   _| |_  | |____      | |   |   %  |__
            | |  |huge | |      |____/   \__| %  %
            | |  | bed | |       ____  *  ____________
            | |  | __  | |______|    \   /
            | |  ||[]| |              | |
            | |  ||  | |     __=_=____|.|_______^_^_^_^_
            | |  ||__| |    |  _ _ ________   __ _ _ _ _>
            | |  |_____|   (  | = =        | |  v v v v
                            | |            < >
                           (  |            < >
                            | |            < >
                           (__|             v


+ or .    door                              NE
*         fountain                          |
%         bones                         NW-- --SE
#         rubble                            |
^v><=)(   various alcoves                  SW



Belphanior:  (detecting no souls ahead)  You know, I was
  thinking...
Ged:  What?
Lyra:  Uh-oh.
Belphanior:  I think that pool back there might lead to
  another level, if we dive into it again.
Alindyar:  Again?
Arnold:  Ah-gain?
Rillen:  An interesting idea - maybe we should try it.
Mongo:  Well, it's not like we're dry yet or anything.

  They voted, and a slight majority actually seemed to
favor the option of going back to the pool and trying
Belphanior's idea.  Thus, they returned to the magical
pool, and it was really no surprise when Belphanior
jumped in and disappeared.

Mongo:  Here we go again...

  This time, they appeared on another floor (Mongo's
dwarven senses told him that the party was now deeper
in the earth than before), in a fountain similar to the
others.  Four passages led away, one in each of four
directions.





next time :  more weird stuff

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

notes     :  To correlate what the various adventurers saw in
           the magical painting, see episodes 43 and 44, which
           have notes on most of their pasts.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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