Chapter #124

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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:    6/2/572 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    evening                                          +
+   Place:   the ruins of Greyhawk Castle, north of the City  +
+   Climate: cool                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Apparently it was not as big a surprise as we had hoped  +
+    for."                                                    +
+              - a Cylon centurion, to the Imperious Leader   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                 CXXIV.  Almost There





  The adventurers have descended to the fifth level of the
dungeon below the Greyhawk Ruins.  However, in the huge
cavern they now stand in sleeps an immense red dragon,
resting atop a heap of treasure the size of a small hut.

Mongo:  (putting his fingers in front of his mouth)  Shhh.
  (he makes motions to the others, suggesting that they
  split up and approach the dragon from various angles)
Belphanior:  (thinking of what a good plan this is, he gets
  his sword ready and prepares to stalk toward the dragon)
Lyra:  (wondering if this is really a good plan)
Ged:  (urgently motions the group back into the small cave
  alcove they landed in)
Peldor:  (wondering what the delay is)
Ged:  (whispering)  To go onward, we'll have to deal with
  this dragon...
Alindyar:  (also whispering)  Indeed.
Mongo:  (whispering)  We don't have time to sit around here
  and blabber - we've got to attack!
Lyra:  (whispering)  Shh!  Keep it down.
Rillen:  (whispering)  I agree with Mongo.  We need to move
  in and strike.
Ged:  (whispering as he casts a spell)  At least let me
  haste everyone first.  (thinking of how, in the past, a
  simple haste spell on the party has spelled the difference
  between victory and defeat, he casts his spell)  For the
  glory of Boccob...(the Haste is completed)
Rillen:  Aaah.  Faster is better.
Ged:  (sets his grey cat-familiar down on the cavern floor)
  Now you stay put here.  We can't have you getting toasted
  during combat.  And if we don't live through this one,
  you're on your own, I guess.
grey cat:  (smart enough to avoid meowing, it licks its paw
  instead)
Mongo:  (pondering the prospect of battle)
Alindyar:  (pondering the prospect of dying)

  The adventurers moved out into the huge cavern, each one
preparing his or her own unique attack.

Alindyar:  (stays back and prepares a spell)
Arnold:  (hefts his sword and moves to attack the dragon
  from the right flank)
Belphanior:  (gets his cube of force out and whispers a
  command word, then begins moving toward the gigantic
  dragon)
Flint:  (readies his axe and moves to attack the dragon
  from the left flank)
Ged:  (ponders his golden lion figurines, then begins to
  cast a spell)
Lyra:  (uses her boots of flying to soar upward, and begins
  spellcasting)
Mongo:  (with his rings of fire resistance and regeneration,
  he feels rather cocky, and moves to one side, preparing
  to hurl his hammer when the time is right)
Peldor:  (turns invisible, and heads for the dragon's rear
  flank)
Rillen:  (having no truly effective distance weapon, he
  silently vows to find some magical arrows after this
  quest is over, and then readies his staff and stalks the
  dragon, approaching from the front flank)
wispy thing:  (floats into the air, toward the dragon)

  As the adventurers prepared to attack, they felt as if
the dragon's breathing was shaking the whole cavern, such
was its intensity.  Only now did they realize just how big
this lizard was - its body alone was over a hundred-fifty
feet long, and the beast's great tail easily doubled that
figure.
  Those who were planning to attack the dragon physically
began to have second thoughts, but being the hardy souls
that they were, they pressed on.  Inch by unsteady inch,
they crept toward the behemoth, some of them doubtful that
they could even wound a best so massive.  More than one of
the fighters was secretly counting on the magi being able
to damage the beast with their spells.  As they approached
more closely, and prepared to strike...something happened.
Something unexpected, and fairly bad.
  The dragon opened its eyes.



red dragon:  (blinks, and looks around)  WHAT IS THIS?!?!?
Arnold:  Aaaa.
red dragon:  I SHALL CRUSH YOU ALL!  (leaps up, scattering
  coins and gems in all directions)

  A number of things happened at once.  Arnold, Flint, and
Rillen rushed in, weapons flailing wildly.  Mongo cursed
as his intended hammer throw was ruined, due to his three
companions moving into his line of fire.  Ged pointed at
the dragon, spellcasting, and a white cloud began to form
above the central portion of the monster's huge body.  At
the same time, Lyra blasted the dragon with a mighty forked
bolt of lightning.

red dragon:  (hit in the neck by Lyra's lightning bolt)
  ARGH!  WHAT WAS THAT?  (the monster seems annoyed rather
  than injured, but a large burn now decorates its scaly
  neck)
Lyra:  Yie.  (backs up as the dragon looks her way)
Rillen:  (bashes the dragon in the head, hitting it with
  a loud 'thwack')  Hai!
red dragon:  RARGH!  (whirls to face the warrior)  HOW DARE
  YOU?!?  (swats Rillen with a claw)
Rillen:  (knocked back a ways)  Argh!
Ged:  For Boccob!  (watches as his ice storm rains large
  hailstones down upon the dragon)
red dragon:  ARG!  UGH!  OW!  (fumes in anger)  WHO DID
  THAT?!?
Ged:  'Twas _I_, representing Boccob!
red dragon:  BOCCOB?
Flint:  (runs forth and chops at the dragon's arm)  Die!
red dragon:  ARGH!  (blood spurts from the wound)
Flint:  Yeah!
Arnold:  (hacks at the dragon, but his sword bounces off of
  its hide)  Aaa.
red dragon:  (claws Arnold, knocking him back)
Arnold:  (trips and falls)  Aaaaagh.
red dragon:  (bites Flint, picking him up in its jaws)  GR-
Flint:  Argh!  Help!  (tries to chop the dragon's head)
Mongo:  Hey!  Let him go!  (hurls his hammer at the dragon)
red dragon:  (bashed in the snout by the weapon, it drops
  Flint)  RARRGH!
Flint:  (falls)  Ugh!  (rolls away, bleeding from holes in
  his chain mail)  Ghk!  (coughs up some blood)
Mongo:  Hey, you okay?
Flint:  (staggers)  ...Yeah.  I'll live.
red dragon:  I THINK OTHERWISE.
Rillen:  (bashes the dragon again, and hits it in the arm)
  Yai!
red dragon:  ARGH!  (it can't believe that the adventurers
  are getting so many attacks in...and wounding it)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer, and throws it again - hitting
  again!)  All right!
red dragon:  ARGH!  (bleeding from many cuts and scrapes
  now, it rears up)
Arnold:  Yaaa.  (his second attack hits, and the dragon is
  cut again)  Ah-nold!
Rillen:  (his third and fourth attacks miss, perhaps due
  to the dragon rearing)  Whoa!
Flint:  (his second attack misses as well)  Damn it!
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer again, but misses)  Huh?  What
  gives?
Peldor:  (invisible, he finds that he can't get close to
  the dragon for a backstab...yet)
Belphanior:  (sits tight in his cube of force, moving ever
  closer to the dragon)  Heh heh.
Mongo:  (his fourth attack misses as well)  How the hell?
red dragon:  (staggers about, bleeding from many wounds)
  ARGH.  (inhales loudly)
Belphanior:  Uh-oh.
wispy thing:  (sails up toward the dragon's head)
Alindyar:  (casts a Feeblemind at the dragon)
red dragon:  (its magic resistance dissipates the spell)
Alindyar:  (rather upset)  Damn!

red dragon:  GRRRAAAAARGH!  (belches forth a cone of flame
  from its maw, spraying a large portion of the cavern)
wispy thing:  (caught directly in the center of the flame
  cone)
Belphanior:  (safe within his cube of force, he watches,
  amazed by the fury of the attack, as flames cover him
  and his force field)  Wowee.  (he begins to sweat very
  profusely)  Getting hot in here...
Arnold:  (caught in the midst of the inferno, he somehow
  manages to survive, though burnt quite badly)  Aaa!
  (he falls to the ground, comatose)
Rillen:  (at the edge of the fiery cone, he is also hit
  and burned pretty badly)  Argh!  (he drops and rolls
  around, partly from trying to put out his burning cloak
  and partly from the pain)
Mongo:  (caught directly in the middle of the breath cone,
  he is roasted)  Yaagh!  (actually, his ring of fire
  resistance lessens the damage, and the dwarf, though
  charred, lives)  Ow!  Agh!
Flint:  (also in the center of the breath attack, he holds
  his shield in front of him)  Now we'll see why this thing
  is called the Dragon Shield!  (the dwarf remains totally
  unscathed by the fiery breath, as his shield turns back
  any flame that might have burned him)  Huh?
Mongo:  Huh?
Flint:  I live!  (regards his shield with genuine wonder)
  I thought that sage was joking!
Alindyar:  (finally casts his spell, and a multi-colored
  sheet of light zooms toward the dragon)  Take that!
Ged:  Boccob!  What's that thing?
Alindyar:  'Tis the Prismatic Spray.
red dragon:  (hit by the orange beam of the spell, it is
  drained of some life force)  ARGH!
Belphanior:  (drops his cube of force, now that he is next
  to the dragon's head; his evil eye glows brightly)  Die.
  (he gazes at the heavily wounded dragon)  Die!  (a beam
  of red light shoots forth from the eye, hitting the huge
  dragon in the head)  DIE!
red dragon:  WHAT?  (grins at the elf)
Belphanior:  Huh?  It didn't work!
red dragon:  WHAT DID-  ARGH!  AAAAAAAAARGH!!!  (its skin
  shifts and wrinkles)  AAAAAAARRRGH!!!  (the dragon, all
  hundred-odd tons of it, rapidly...flattens out, rather
  like a puddle, though no new wounds appear)  AAAAARGH!
Flint:  (runs forth and hacks the dragon in the head)  Ya!
red dragon:  (its head is split in two, and it dies)
Flint:  Ha!  It's dead!
Belphanior:  I'd say that it was already dead...
Ged:  (runs to tend to Arnold)
Mongo:  (regarding Belphanior with awe)
Belphanior:  (looking mighty pleased)
Rillen:  What did you _do_ to the monster?
Lyra:  (flies over)  Yes, what was that red beam?
Belphanior:  Ah, let's just say that all of his bones just
  became like jelly.
Alindyar:  Inconceivable!
Belphanior:  Conceive it, pal.
Lyra:  (realizes that Belphanior's eye must be some kind
  of artifact)  Hmm.
wispy thing:  (appears from nowhere, flies down, and lands
  on Belphanior's shoulder)
Belphanior:  (grins)  Where were _you_ during that battle?
Rillen:  And how did the wisp survive the dragon's breath?
wispy thing:  (gnashes its intangible teeth)
Peldor:  (looks at Rillen)  Perhaps we'll never know.
Ged:  (heals Arnold, stabilizing him)  Poor Arnold.
Arnold:  (badly burned)  Aaa.
Ged:  You're supposed to run from dragon breath.
Arnold:  Ad least I'm alive.
Alindyar:  Methinks the time to camp is upon us.
Ged:  Yea, I agree.  (casts another healing spell upon
  Arnold)
grey cat:  (runs from the shadows and into Ged's arms)
Ged:  Whoa!
Arnold:  (musing to himself through his burned lips)  I,
  Ah-nold, showed the dragon.
Flint:  Try and get some rest, Ah-nold.  (he looks at
  his shield with wonder, still amazed that it saved his
  life)
Rillen:  I, too, am tired.  Not to mention wounded.
Ged:  (casts a healing spell on Rillen)  By Boccob, we
  must camp and rest!
grey cat:  Meow!
Mongo:  (tromps over and hands Arnold a ring)  Here, wear
  my ring of regeneration overnight.  It'll help you get
  rid of those burns.
Arnold:  Thandks.  (puts the ring on)  Thandks a lod.
Peldor:  (becomes visible)  I'll scout the treasure hoard
  and the far side of the cave.
Mongo:  Not alone, you won't.  (whistles to Flint, and
  points at Peldor, who is walking away toward the giant
  mound of treasure)
Flint:  Right.  (follows the thief)

  The pile of treasure that the dragon had been sitting on
was immense and varied.  Gold, silver, copper, platinum -
all were there, and in mass quantities.  Various other
items - swords, axes, armor, helms mostly - were scattered
among the coinage.
  As for exits, Peldor searched all of the many nooks and
crannies of the cavern, but it was Belphanior who found
the secret sliding panel of stone, deep within one side
cave.  Beyond it was a hallway containing two statues, and
a portcullis was visible further down the corridor.  This
exit was left unexplored for now, due to the treasure and
the need for sleep.
  Most of the adventurers didn't get to sleep until late,
such was their interest in the great hoard of the dragon.
Again, they found that it would be impossible to carry the
entirety of the treasure away - there were simply too many
coins.  In fact, some of the coinage in the portable hole
would have to be removed.  The adventurers ended up taking
out all the copper and silver they had found thus far, and
replacing it with the dragon's gold and platinum.  All of
the (potentially) magical items were, of course, kept.
  At long last, the party slept.  Apparently, the dragon
had been the master of this area, for no one or nothing
bothered the adventurers during the night.



  Though no one knew if the sun was really rising in the
world above, it must have been morning as the adventurers
stirred and woke up.

Arnold:  (seeing how his burns have almost totally healed
  due to the ring that Mongo let him borrow)  Aaa.
Mongo:  (making breakfast)  Rise and shine, everybody!  I
  cooked us some chow!
Arnold:  Thandks.
Mongo:  No problem.  Rations suck, and I do what I can to
  fix that problem.
Arnold:  No, I mean thandks about the rink you let me wear
  overnidht.  Ah-nold is bedder!
Mongo:  Oh, that's okay.  You needed it more than me.  (he
  takes the ring back as the big warrior hands it to him)
Belphanior:  (wandering around the cavern half-naked)  Ug.
Rillen:  (watching the elf)  Did you find anything?
Belphanior:  There are many more souls on this level.  I'd
  guess we'll be fighting again before too long.
Flint:  (grunts as he gets up)
Peldor:  (still fast asleep, snoring)  Zzzzzz.
Ged:  (kicks the thief)  Wake up, fool.
Peldor:  ZzzzzZZZZZzzzz...

  Breakfast was, as usual in these situations, hurried and
quiet.  About an hour later, the group was ready to enter
the dungeon behind the secret door.  With some effort, the
thing was pushed aside, and the adventurers entered the
passage, and the room it led to.  The short corridor opened
into a small room, and to either side stood a great statue.
The statue on the right was that of a huge lion, while the
left figure was that of an equally huge lioness.

Ged:  By Boccob, they sort of look like my golden lions.
Belphanior:  (detecting no souls here)  I don't think these
  things are alive.
Mongo:  Whatever they are, they're good carvings.  (admires
  the unknown mason's work)
Arnold:  Good cahvings.  (pretends to admire the statues)
Peldor:  Hey, enough bullshit.  How are we going to get by
 _those_?  (points)

  Ahead, blocking a passage that led into a long chamber,
were three thick metal bars.  The blockade resembled a huge
but effective portcullis, for there was scarcely a foot of
space between any of them and/or the walls.  The wispy
thing flew forth and zipped between the bars, then turned
and regarded the adventurers with curiosity.

Mongo:  Stand aside.  (he strolls up, sets his hammer down
  on the floor, and grabs two of the bars, grunting)  Unf!
Lyra:  You've done it!  (the bars are stretched to either
  side, providing an opening through which even Rillen can
  fit)
Mongo:  Piece of cake.
Rillen:  Cake?
Mongo:  Never mind.  (he turns sideways and walks through
  the gap)  Come on, we've got work to do.  (the others
  follow him, one by one)
Belphanior:  I think we should have blasted through it.
Alindyar:  Why, pray tell?
Belphanior:  'Cause that would have been more fun...
Flint:  (wondering about the elf's sanity)

  They entered a rectangular room, whose far end was semi-
circular.  Near that end of the room, two doors could be
seen, one to either side.  Two old wooden desks rested at
the adventurers' end of the chamber, one to the right and
the other to the left.  Beyond the doors, on either wall,
three skulls were imbedded in the stone.  They looked like
human skulls, but their eyes and mouths were glowing with
a purple hue.

Alindyar:  Fascinating.
Belphanior:  (checking one of the desks)  This thing's
  rotting into dust.  And it's empty too.  Fuck!
Mongo:  (picks up a quill and a bottle of ink from the
  other desk)  Here's something.
Belphanior:  (opens the bottom drawer of the first desk)
  Hey, maybe I spoke too soon.  (holds up a stack of old
  paper, its sheets well-preserved and blank)  Looks like
  someone used to do some writing here.
Lyra:  What a revelation...
Belphanior:  (gives Lyra the evil eye)
wispy thing:  (flies into the open drawer)
Mongo:  (he and Flint find that the second desk is empty,
  except for the ink and quill)  Well, that's it for this
  one.
Arnold:  (sits in one of the wooden chairs for the desks,
  breaking it into splinters)  Aaaa?
Peldor:  (wandering toward the skulls)  Is that a gem in
  each of these, that's making them glow?  (he passes the
  two doors)
skulls:  (glow more brightly)
Ged:  (to Lightbringer)  Those aren't undead, are they?
Lightbringer:  No, whatever they may be, they are not any
  kind of undead.
Rillen:  (following Peldor)
wispy thing:  (emerges from the first desk's drawer)
Lyra:  (examining one of the desks, she winces in sudden
  pain)  What?!?  (a huge splinter of wood is lodged in
  one of her fingers)  Ow!  How did this happen?
Alindyar:  Come, let me see that.  (he begins trying to
  pull the splinter out without breaking it)
Lyra:  Ow.  Ouch!
Ged:  That must hurt...
Belphanior:  (grins, as he heads after Peldor and Rillen)
Peldor:  (looking at one of the skulls)  I don't see any-

  Suddenly, the first skull on Peldor's right spit out a
purple bolt of lightning, blasting the thief and knocking
him backwards!

Peldor:  YOW!  (he lands on the stone floor, his hair on
  end and his eyebrows smoking)  What hit me?
Rillen:  (pulls the thief back, as Belphanior steps forth
  with his sword drawn)  The skulls!
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (he prepares to stab the nearest of
  the skulls, if it does anything)
skull:  (does nothing)
other skulls:  (also do nothing)
Mongo:  (looking at Peldor)  How the hell did he survive
  that?
Ged:  Must have been fool's luck.  (he and Arnold approach
  the others)  No more lightning.  (to Lightbringer)  Are
  you sure-
Lightbringer:  (sounding irritated)  Yes, I am _positive_.
  They are not undead.
Ged:  Then why did they attack, by Boccob?
Alindyar:  (walks over, to get a closer look at the skulls
  and try to analyze their function)  Hmm.
Lyra:  (follows Alindyar, her finger wrapped in a bit of
  linen from the splinter wound)  Maybe the skull only hit
  Peldor because he walked by...
Peldor:  Yeah, maybe.
wispy thing:  (flies past the skulls, but nothing happens)
Belphanior:  Hey, maybe it's safe.
Ged:  I doubt it.  I don't recall that wisp-thing having
  any physical body.  Maybe it doesn't count as a target,
  for the skulls.
Belphanior:  Hmm.
wispy thing:  (dances around in the air, beyond the skulls)

  Since all of the skulls (including the one that had used
lightning on Peldor) were glowing bright purple now, the
adventurers deemed it best to back off.  They prepared to
go through one of the two doors, rather than bother with
the skulls any more.  Choosing the door on the right, the
nine explorers opened it, revealing a long, wide hallway.
One small door was visible to the right, and further onward,
the passage made a sharp turn to the left and continued
around the corner, out of sight.  Also, where the passage
would have dead-ended with the turn, a set of wide stairs
led down to one end of another, sunken corridor.
  Checking the passage ahead, the adventurers rounded the
left turn and were faced with six new doors - three to the
left, two to the right, and a large double door at the end
of the passage.

Lyra:  Great.  This must be a mapper's nightmare.
Flint:  Which way do we go now?  That's seven doors, plus
  those stairs down to that other passage.
Ged:  Many options.  Boccob has presented us with many
  options.
Mongo:  I say we should take the big door.
Peldor:  Yeah, and to hell with Boccob.
Belphanior:  (trying to sense souls ahead, he moves from
  door to door)  Hmm, nothing here.  Nothing there.
wispy thing:  (flits under one of the doors, but no one
  pays any attention to it)
Rillen:  (headed for the double doors)  Mongo is right.

  Mongo and Rillen worked on getting the double doors open,
while Peldor checked some of the smaller doors.  The first
two he opened hid nothing but small, empty rooms, but the
third, that closest to the double doors, led to a larger
chamber containing two tables.  Atop each table rested an
ancient-looking amulet; though similar in shape, the two
items were by no means identical.

Peldor:  Hey, folks, take a look at this.  I've found some
  possible treasure.
Ged:  Eh?  What's that?  Did you say something?
Alindyar:  (stops to glance into the room the thief opened
  and his eyes widen)  Indeed.  (he decides to cast Detect
  Magic, and peers into the room)
Lyra:  (looking at the amulets)  They _look_ valuable.
Alindyar:  (his spell tells him that both items carry very
  powerful magical auras)  Indeed!  Yonder medallions are
  of great power, 'twould seem.
Belphanior:  (heads into the room, the others close behind
  him, but cautious)  I wonder what powers they hold...?
  (since his magical eye detects no traps on the tables or
  the amulets, he grabs one)
Ged:  What are you doing?
Peldor:  (figuring that it must be safe, he grabs the
  other amulet)
Ged:  No, you fools!  Zagyg would never leave powerful
  treasures unprotected...

  Two things happened at once then.  First, total blackness
fell over the eyes of Lyra, Alindyar, Ged, and Belphanior -
magical blindness of some kind.  Second, four huge monsters
appeared before the adventurers, their nine-foot high bulks
made of dirt and rock.

Mongo:  What the _hell_?
Arnold:  (doesn't understand what's going on)  Aaaaaa.
Ged:  Boccob!  I am blinded!  (he runs around, until Rillen
  grabs him and pushes him back into the corridor)  Wha-?
Rillen:  There is a battle going on.  If you cannot see,
  then stay out of harm's way.
Belphanior:  (slashing blindly at the empty air, he almost
  decapitates Ged)  Whoa!  I can't see!
Arnold:  (grabs Belphanior's sword arm in one hand and
  holds the elf back)  Stob attackink us.  We can sdill see
  even though you can'd.
Belphanior:  (pauses, the amulet he grabbed still clutched
  in his other hand)  You can?
Arnold:  Yah.
Alindyar:  Alas, for I have been robbed of my sight...
Lyra:  (not realizing that some can still see, she panics)
  We have fallen victim to a trap!  What are those rumbling
  noises?  What-
Mongo:  (he and Rillen move to intercept the four creatures
  who are charging the party)  What's wrong with the elves?
Flint:  (grabs Lyra and Alindyar, and shakes them)  Listen
  to me!  Only you magi are blinded!  The rest of us can
  see fine!  (escorts them to the room's door)  Now stay
  back while we deal with the monsters!
Lyra:  (bumps into a wall)  Ow.  What's going on?
Belphanior:  (running around in the hallway outside of the
  room)  Who zapped me?  (bumps into Alindyar)
Alindyar:  What?
Belphanior:  Er, sorry.  (he stumbles around, mysteriously
  avoiding any more walls or people)

back in the chamber...

Arnold:  I remembder these thinks.  Dhey are called "eardth
  elemendals".
Peldor:  Elementals?  (becomes invisible and sneaks around)
Rillen:  (bashes one of the elementals, actually knocking it
  backwards)  Back, creature!
earth elemental#1:  (staggers)
Mongo:  (too close for hammer hurling, he instead hits one
  of the other foes, ripping chunks of rock out of its body)
earth elemental#2:  (grunts, and punches at Mongo, knocking
  him to his knees)
Mongo:  Argh!  (reels)  That hurt!
Rillen:  (swings at his foe again, but lands an ineffectual
  blow)  Oops.
earth elemental#1:  (punches at Rillen, but misses as the big
  warrior ducks)
Rillen:  (hits the creature again)  Hai!
Mongo:  (bashes his own opponent a second time, demolishing
  its shoulder)  Ha!
earth elemental#3:  (moves out to Rillen's left)
earth elemental#4:  (moves out to Mongo's right)
Flint:  (moves to intercept elemental#4)  Oh, no you don't!
Arnold:  Ah-nold stands ready too!  (moves to block elemental
  #3)
Mongo:  (wallops his opponent once more, shattering its head
  into small rocks)  Fuck yeah!
earth elemental#3:  (punches at Arnold, knocking him aside)
Arnold:  (refuses to be knocked aside, and hacks at the foe,
  burying his sword in its side)  Ah-nold!
earth elemental#3:  (grunts in pain as dirt and pebbles leak
  from its wound)
earth elemental#4:  (gropes at Flint, but misses as the dwarf
  ducks under its swings)
Flint:  Not fast enough, lunkhead!  (he chops at the leg of
  the elemental, wounding it)
Arnold:  (hacks at his foe again - and splits its head into
  two parts!)  Aaaaa!  (he kicks the headless, twitching
  body away)  I, Ah-nold, have abvengded the blindness of my
  lord!
earth elemental#3:  (falls)
Flint:  (chops at his elemental again, but misses)  Oops!

Rillen:  (delivers a series of staff blows that whittle his
  foe's earthy torso down to nothing)
earth elemental#1:  (falls, crumbling)
Rillen:  I _knew_ it would fall if I pressed the attack...
earth elemental#4:  (punches at Flint, but misses again)
Flint:  (chops at his foe, wounding it again)  Fall, dammit!
Mongo:  I'll help!  (smashes the elemental with his hammer)
Arnold:  (hacks at the elemental)
Peldor:  (zips forth invisibly and backstabs the elemental)
earth elemental#4:  (perishes)
Flint:  (sweating)  Geez, mine was the last one standing.  I
  must be getting old.
Mongo:  Nah.
Peldor:  (grabs up the amulet he had dropped)
Mongo:  Don't lose that...

  Shortly, the blinded ones (all elves, and all magi - what
could it mean?) were rounded up, and Ged, though blind, was
able to cast a spell to cure his own condition.

Ged:  Ah, Boccob.  Now we'll see about these others.
Mongo:  (has a sudden hunch)  Hey, let me try something...
  (he gets out his weird healing wand)  I wonder...(touches
  the thing to Belphanior's head)
Belphanior:  (regains his vision)  Ah.
Mongo:  Wow!  (he uses the item to heal Alindyar and Lyra)
Ged:  Hmm, maybe I should pray for more offensive spells, if
  we have all this extra healing power.
grey cat:  (sticks its head out of Ged's backpack and agrees)
  Meow!  (leaps to the floor, and walks over to the remains
  of the elementals)  Meow...(begins digging a hole in one of
  the piles of dirt and rubble)
Arnold:  Aaa.  (points to the cat)  Whad is he doing?
grey cat:  (defecates in the hole it dug)
Rillen:  Marking his territory?
Flint:  (sniffing the air)
grey cat:  (buries its offering)
Flint:  Phew!  Let's get out of here!

  The two magical amulets were stashed in the portable hole,
and the adventurers searched the room and the tables, but
nothing else was found.  Heading back to the main passage,
they tried the large double doors, only to find them locked.

Mongo:  Locked?  (kicks the doors with his giant strength)

  The doors held fast.

Mongo:  Grr.  (he puts his shoulder into it)
Rillen:  (joins the dwarf)
Belphanior:  Hey, I'll help.  (he puts his shoulder to the
  door too)
Mongo:  Hey, it's working!  The door is giving!

  The adventurers entered a chamber shaped like a funnel.
Actually, the double doors swung open after being forced,
and Mongo, Belphanior, and Rillen lost their footing and
fell into the room, immediately sliding down the walls,
which were as smooth as glass.

Mongo:  Whaaaaaaaaa-  (he goes through the small aperture
  at the bottom of the funnel)
Rillen:  Whoaaaa...(he makes a grab for the top edge of the
  funnel-room, but since there is no lip, he can't get a
  grip)  Aaaaaa...(looks up at the others, poised in the
  doorway)  See you laterrrr...(he goes through the opening
  below and vanishes from sight)
Belphanior:  Whee!  (he falls through the hole)
wispy thing:  (appears from behind the remaining party, and
  merrily follows Belphanior)

Ged:  Damn it!
Flint:  You think they're dead?
Arnold:  Disindegraded?
Peldor:  No, I don't think so.  Listen.  (he cocks an ear)
  I can still hear their fading cries.  They're alive.
Flint:  That's all I need to hear.  (he leaps into the room
  and quickly slides down the walls and vanishes)
Arnold:  (looking at Ged)
Ged:  Okay, let's go.  I guess.  (he gingerly sits down on
  the doorjamb, and then pushes off, and slides away)

  Shortly, the last of the adventurers (Alindyar) slid down
the funnel-room and into the hole, soon joining the others
in an exitless, circular room far below...



Alindyar:  (lands on a hard stone floor with a bone-jarring
  impact)  Argh!  (he notices that most of the others are all
  in a bit of pain too, from the fall, excepting those who
  have some manner of feather falling)
Peldor:  (having floated to the floor gently, he grins)  The
  mighty Peldor-
Ged:  Maybe I'd better use some minor healing magic on some
  of us...(begins casting Cure Light Wounds spells)
Mongo:  (ignoring the offered healing, he searches the walls
  of this new room for secret panels or exits)  Hmm.
wispy thing:  (floats nearby, above Belphanior)
Lyra:  How far do you think we fell?
Mongo:  I'd guess about fifty feet.
Flint:  Sounds right.  (rubs his aching back)  Feels right,
  too.

  There were signs of past activity here, but not many.  It
appeared that only a few had been this way before.

Peldor:  Well, that means that they must have found some way
  out of this room.  (he joins the hunt for an exit, as does
  Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (finds a sliding stone panel)  Look at this...





next time :  finale

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

notes     :  The dragon battle is a good example of how not
           to utilize a dragon's full potential.  I decided
           that the dragon would save its breath for the next
           round of combat...by then, they had inflicted over
           a hundred points of damage on it.  Oh well.
             Belphanior's eye-artifact is not, I repeat, NOT,
           the Eye of Vecna.  Its true powers will be spoken
           of at the end of part 125.
             As for the blinded ones, it wasn't because they
           were all magi, or elves.  They just happened to be
           the ones with the fewest hit points.
             Since so many readers want to know just what the
           wispy thing looks like, I've drawn a picture for
           your visual reference.  It's a little rough, but
           should get the point across...
                                ______
                               /      \
                              /  O  O  \
                              |         |
                              |  ____/  |
                               \       /
                                \     /
                                 \   (
                                  \  \
                                   \ /
                                    V

             The little guy is about a foot in length, with
            the tail included, and has no material body
            whatsoever.  Nothing the party has encountered
            yet has proven able to affect it.  Though its
            intentions remain unknown, it has shown itself
            to be tangentially useful, since it tends to
            irritate foes and scout ahead for the party.  It
            has also failed to register on one of Ged's
            detect evil spells.  Anyhow, the wispy creature
            seems to have bonded with Belphanior somehow,
            for it usually follows him around or perches on
            his shoulder.  This is because Belphanior was
            the one who "acquired" it (check the episodes
            corresponding to the Sea of Dust dungeon...)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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