Chapter #125

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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:    6/3/572 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    late morning                                     +
+   Place:   the ruins of Greyhawk Castle, north of the City  +
+   Climate: cool and dry                                     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "All great things must come to an end."                   +
+                                   - variously attributed    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  CXXV.  The Grand Finale





  The adventurers have descended to the sixth level of the
dungeon below the Greyhawk Ruins.  They stand in a circular
room with smooth walls and no apparent exits.  However, a
secret panel has just been found...

Belphanior:  (slides the stone aside to reveal a hallway)
Mongo:  Hey, let's get to it.
Rillen:  (looking around)
Ged:  You know, we're getting pretty far underground.  I
  think we'll soon be within Zagyg's inner sanctum, so to
  speak.
Lyra:  How's that?
Ged:  (points)  Look.

  Ahead could be seen an emaciated old man, sitting behind
an ancient desk.  Beyond the niche that the fellow sat in,
the corridor continued on, about forty feet, and ended at
a large oaken door.

old guy:  (turns toward the adventurers, slowly, and holds
  out a tattered book in one hand, and a pen in the other)
Mongo:  Huh?
Belphanior:  If I didn't know better, I'd say he wants us
  to sign in.
Alindyar:  Indeed!
Ged:  Hmm.  (he walks toward the old man)
grey cat:  (peeps its head out of Ged's pack)  Meow?
Lightbringer:  (speaks up loudly)  Undead!  Kill it!
Ged:  (looks around)  Undead?  Where?
Lightbringer:  Right before your eyes!  Are you blind?!?
Belphanior:  (peering at the old one with his magical eye)
  Yep, he's undead all right.
old guy:  (regards the party blankly, but doesn't speak)
Belphanior:  (wondering where the wispy thing is)
Mongo:  Hey!  Hey you!  What's the deal?
Lightbringer:  No deals!  Slay that vile one!
Ged:  (notices that the old fellow is indeed crumbling in
  several places)  Hmm.
Alindyar:  'Twould seem that the fellow is un-dead after
  all.
Belphanior:  (thinking of possible ways to control the old
  guy)
Lightbringer:  Enough talk!  Kill it!  (glows brightly)
Ged:  Quiet!  I can't think.  (casts Detect Evil)  Hmmm.
  (the old man radiates no aura of evil)  He isn't evil...
Lightbringer:  Inconceivable!  All liches are evil!
Alindyar:  Lich?
Lyra:  Ulp.
Belphanior:  Lich?
Lightbringer:  Lich!
Ged:  Forget it!  He's _not_ evil!  We don't _have_ to
  attack him.
lich:  (regarding the party with a glare)
Alindyar:  Verily, I would not advise an attack...
lich:  (walks toward the group, the book and pen held in
  his hands)
Lightbringer:  (shrieking now)  Kill!  Kill!
Ged:  One more word and I'm tossing you in the portable
  hole.
Mongo:  I'll second that...
Belphanior:  Fuck this.  (sheathes his sword and walks
  forth)  Hey!
lich:  (regards the elf)
Belphanior:  I'll sign your book.
lich:  (hands the elf the pen, and opens the book)
Belphanior:  (notices that the book is in a guest ledger
  type of format, and carefully signs his name)  There.
lich:  (turns toward Alindyar, who is slowly approaching)
Alindyar:  (makes his decision, and signs the book as well)
  Hmm.
Ged:  What?
Alindyar:  I just noticed...only ten others have signed in
  before us.
Belphanior:  Yeah, I saw that too.
Ged:  Names?  Ten?  Who?
Alindyar:  Err...Mordenkainen...Bigby...the other names I
  do not recognize.
Ged:  Mordenkainen?!?  Wow!
Mongo:  Morden-who?
Ged:  One of the mightiest magi of all Oerth!  (he runs
  forth and grabs the pen)
lich:  (staring at the elf, and his glowing weapon)
Lightbringer:  I've got my eye on you...
Ged:  Hush, by Boccob!  (he signs the book)  I sure am
  glad that we didn't attack...
grey cat:  (peeking out of its master's backpack, it
  wonders if the lich will try to pet it)
lich:  (turns to the others, as the far door creaks open)
Rillen:  (wondering how the door could be in such good
  shape compared to the others the party has seen in this
  place)  Hmm.  (signs the book)
Peldor:  (decides that he'll sign in last)  Nine is always
  a good number to be.

  Eventually, they had all signed the book (even Arnold,
who had no desire to), and they approached the open door
at the end of the hall.  The lich took its seat once more,
presumably to wait for more visitors.

Belphanior:  Weird old guy, he was.
Mongo:  Yeah.
Lyra:  I'm glad we didn't have to fight that thing.
Belphanior:  Yeah, me too.  I need to save my spells and
  other powers for the big fights...
Mongo:  Big fights?
Belphanior:  Yep.  Think about it - any place that has a
  _lich_ as a doorman isn't going to be a cakewalk...
Mongo:  Oh.  (wondering what all the fuss is about, since
  the old guy looked pretty harmless to him)
Belphanior:  Hold up a second.  (on a hunch, he casts a
  Stoneskin on himself)
Lyra:  A little extra protection, eh?
Belphanior:  Couldn't hurt.
Flint:  Magic?  Bah, I say.
Arnold:  Yah.

  They entered a T-shaped corridor, of which they were in
one of the side wings.  Several doors were visible, but a
more pressing issue quickly presented itself.

Belphanior:  Yo!  (he looks to the passage in front of the
  party)  Something's coming!  Something invisible!
Peldor:  Where?  (squints)  I don't see anything.
Ged:  (to Peldor)  By Boccob, this is no time for jokes!
Belphanior:  Three of them!  And they're pretty big!
Mongo:  (in the front rank, he, Rillen, and Arnold heft
  their weapons)  Cripes, I don't see anything!

  Suddenly, powerful gusts of wind battered the warriors
in the front of the party, knocking them into the walls
and each other.

Mongo:  (collides with Arnold)  Argh!
Arnold:  (collides with Mongo)  Aaa!
Rillen:  (manages to avoid hitting anything)  Whoa...
Belphanior:  (leaps between Rillen and Mongo, and takes
  a swing at one of the invisible foes that only he seems
  able to see)  Die, you!
invisible thing:  (emits a windy hissing sound)
Belphanior:  Ha!  Got 'im!
Rillen:  (looks around, puzzled)
Ged:  Shouldn't the monsters have turned visible...?
Alindyar:  Yes.  Unless...
Ged:  Invisible stalkers!
Alindyar:  Verily.
Lyra:  Yipes.
Rillen:  (swings his staff in whirling arcs ahead of his
  body, and is rewarded with an apparent hit)  Hai!
invisible thing:  Whoosh.
Belphanior:  Yeah!  You got him!
Mongo:  (recovers, and swings his hammer)
invisible thing:  WHOOOOOSH!
Mongo:  Feels like I busted him a good one...
Arnold:  (trying to emulate Mongo, he swings, but misses,
  hitting the floor instead)  Aaaa...?
Rillen:  (sensing his foe, he closes his eyes and presses
  his attacks forward, relying on his blind-fighting skill
  to see him through)
invisible foe:  (hit twice more)  Whoosh!  Whiff!
Mongo:  (getting the idea, he strikes out again, and hits
  his own foe again)
invisible foe:  (hit again)  Whoooosh...
Arnold:  (also swings out, hitting something)  Ah-nold
  joins the baddle!

  The warriors had successfully figured out how to fight
these invisible foes - they kept swinging, using the winds
and sounds made by the things to pinpoint their whereabouts
and inflict damage.  Though the opponents' windy attacks
were formidable, the adventurers' weapons proved more so,
for within another minute, there were no more winds, and a
great silence filled the hall.

Belphanior:  (looking around)  They're gone.  Dead, I'd
  guess.
Alindyar:  Actually, when invisible stalkers are slain-
Mongo:  No one cares.  Let's get on with the exploration.

  They turned right, ignoring the numerous doors for the
time being, and continued onward.  Eventually, the hall
ended, and doors had to be opened to allow any further
progress.

Mongo:  Here goes...(opens a door)

  Beyond the portal was a large square room, about fifty
feet on a side.  The chamber was filled with clay jars,
set along its perimeter; each was about five feet high and
three feet wide.  There were thirteen of the jars here,
but one had been shattered, and its contents - a fine grey
powder of some kind - spilled onto the stone floor.  The
other jars were sealed at the top with some odd sort of
lid, which appeared to make them airtight.

Belphanior:  What's this?  (gets a pinch of the powder)
Mongo:  Instant troll, just add water.  Heh heh.
Flint:  Hardy, har, har.
Arnold:  Shouldn't the powdber be green then?
Ged:  What is it?  (moves up to Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (tasting the stuff)  Ptui!  It tastes pretty
  bad, whatever it is.
Alindyar:  (smells some of the powder)  Sulfurous, 'tis.
Ged:  Hmm.  Maybe some rare spell component?
Lyra:  Yes...
Alindyar:  Perhaps.
Belphanior:  (pops the lid on another, random jar)  Same
  stuff here!
Ged:  (picks a third jar, and opens it too)  And here!
Lyra:  All the jars must contain the same thing...
Alindyar:  'Twould appear so.
Belphanior:  We should take some.
Ged:  Agreed.  Hey, Mongo!
Mongo:  What?  Did you decide what to do with the powder
  yet?
Ged:  Yea.  We want to take a barrel and stash it in your
  portable hole.
Mongo:  Oh, you do?  (gets the folded cloth out, and opens
  it up)  Hmm, we're running out of room in there.
Belphanior:  So, we ditch some of the coinage.
Arnold:  (wondering why any of the coinage would need to
  be thrown away)  Aaa?
Mongo:  Yo, which one do you want?
Alindyar:  (points to a barrel) That one would do nicely.
Mongo:  Okay.  (he singlehandedly lifts the big pot, and
  sets it down among the coins)  Unf.
Belphanior:  Hey, careful with that...
Mongo:  (uses a goblet in the hole to empty coins)  This
  should get us enough room.  Packed good and tight, it
  is.
Peldor:  (picking up the golden coins on the floor)  Hey,
  don't throw this stuff away!
Ged:  Sorry, but it's a matter of priorities.
Peldor:  Well, I know what _my_ priority is...(picks up
  more gold)
Belphanior:  (muttering to himself as he prepares to open
  the far door)  I wonder if the stuff burns...

  Fortunately, no one had to find out, as the party moved
through the doorway and into another square room.  This one
contained a dozen of the clay jars, but three had been
opened, and their contents - small, black 3/4" glass beads
numbering in the hundreds - were spilled across the room.

Ged:  (picks up a bead)  You know, I'd swear that this was
  a bead of force...
Lyra:  Just don't test it out in here.
Alindyar:  Force beads?
Belphanior:  Let's get one of these jars too.
Mongo:  (sighs)

  As the magi stuffed their pockets with loose beads, and
Peldor stuffed his pockets with the golden coins that
Mongo and Rillen were throwing out of the portable hole,
Arnold stood around bored.

Arnold:  Aaa.  I am borded.
grey cat:  (batting around a glass bead, he scoots between
  the warrior's feet)
Arnold:  Whaaat?  (picks up the cat)  Whad are you up to?
grey cat:  (bats Arnold's helm)  Meow.
Flint:  (checking for concealed doors)  Looks like it's
  back out to the hall for us.

  Soon, they re-entered the big hall, and went through the
nearest door, entering another square room full of jars.
This chamber had nine intact jars, and another six that
had been smashed open.  Around these jars were dark spots
on the floor, and small bits of long-rotten flesh.

Mongo:  What the hell...?
Belphanior:  (peering in one of the jars)  Phew!  This
  mess stinks!
Ged:  (looks in another jar, and almost gags)  Ugh.
Alindyar:  Who can say what these jars contain?
Ged:  We can...once we open some of them.  (he begins
  to pry the lid off of one jar)
Arnold:  Id really smells in here.
Peldor:  (looking around, he finds no hidden treasure)
Ged:  (opens the jar)  Boccob!  (reaching in, he grabs
  something, holding it up for all to see)
Lyra:  Ugh.

  Ged held a large eyeball, mounted on a stalk which had
been severed from its host body.  The thing seemed to be
perfectly preserved...and the jar was brimming with many
similar eyes.

Alindyar:  By the gods!  There must be hundreds of these
  in the jar.  (examines an eye)  Such perfect specimens,
  indeed...
Flint:  I don't get it.  Whose eyes _are_ these?
Ged:  Isn't it obvious?
Mongo:  Nope.  Not to me, anyway.
Alindyar:  These are beholder eyes.
Belphanior:  But there must be _thousands_ of them here!
  (he verifies this by opening another jar)  Thousands!
  That means...
Ged:  Yea.  Someone slew hundreds of beholders.  Wow.
Rillen:  Hmm.
Lyra:  Quite a feat.
Belphanior:  Yup.  One reserved for only the mightiest of
  parties.
Peldor:  They must have had a Peldor or two in their group
  when they did it.
Ged:  (smirks)  Must have.
Arnold:  (picks up an eye, but tosses it away in disgust)
grey cat:  (runs after the eye, and bats it around the
  floor)
Mongo:  This room is stupid.  (heads for the door)
Alindyar:  A sample, perhaps-
Ged:  Got it.  (he finds his box of preserving, and puts
  a dozen of the eyes inside, closing the lid carefully)
Belphanior:  Those eyes will, of course, be split equally
  among the magi...
Ged:  (irritated)  Of course.  We're no thieves.
Lyra:  Beholder eyes for all, then.
Alindyar:  Excellent.

  The next chamber held a door, and also thirteen of the
large clay jars.  Amazingly, none had been opened up or
smashed in.

Ged:  We should consider the implications of this.
Peldor:  (listening intently)  I hear something.
Mongo:  Yeah, me too.
Rillen:  It sounds like insects.
Arnold:  Bugs.
grey cat:  (looking around)  Meow?
Peldor:  Definitely insects.
Belphanior:  Buzzing around.  But where...?  (walks up
  and listens to one of the jars)  Aha!
Ged:  You mean it's coming from _inside_ the jars?
Peldor:  (listens at another jar)  Yep.
Mongo:  Hey, now this jug-collecting has been okay, but
  even the dumbest halfling would know not to open these
  things.
Rillen:  My thoughts exactly.
Lyra:  (musing to herself)  I don't know, halflings as a
  rule are pretty dumb...
Ged:  Who said anything about opening them?
Belphanior:  Let's just take one.
Alindyar:  Yes.
Lyra:  (admiring the way that the party's magi are working
  and thinking toward the same goals here)  Sounds good to
  me...
Mongo:  Okay, I'll make some room, and you guys lower the
  jar down to me.

  Shortly, this was completed, though Ged insisted on
taking a bit of chalk and marking each of the jars they
had taken thus far, for future reference.

Ged:  After all, who knows what would happen if we opened
the wrong one back in Greyhawk?

  The party prepared to move on, re-entering the main
hallway, but before they could, a strange, ominous sound
was heard.  It sounded like a horrible funeral dirge,
and reverberated throughout all the rooms and halls.  The
hideous combination of shrill high notes and thunderous
low ones caused the very walls and floor to shake, such
was their intensity.  The terrible sound had a profound
effect upon the adventurers.

Alindyar:  (feels a headache coming on)  Aie.
Belphanior:  (looks around, his eye glowing)  Neat music.
Flint:  (flees in terror)  Aaaaaaaaie!
Ged:  Boccob!  Foul forces are at work...
Mongo:  (scratches his head)  What the hell got into him?
  (chases after his henchman)
Peldor:  (listening to the music)  Geez, this is pretty
  bad.
Rillen:  Yes.
Arnold:  (drops his sword and runs away)  Aaaaa!
Lyra:  (unexpectedly flees, wide-eyed with terror)  Eeek!
Ged:  Hey!  Get back here!
Alindyar:  (runs after Lyra)

  The henchmen made it into the previous room, where the
three of them cowered in one corner, trembling in abject
terror.  The other six adventurers quickly followed them
into the room.

Ged:  Arnold!  (shakes his henchman)  By Boccob, what's
  the matter?!?
Arnold:  (looks around)  Aaa?
Flint:  A sudden terror gripped me - one that I had to
  run from.  I've never felt its like!
Lyra:  (recovered now)  What happened?
Peldor:  Hey, I don't know if anyone noticed, but that
  strange music stopped.
Alindyar:  (looks around)  Most passing strange.

  The henchmen seemed to be back to normal, and shortly
the party resumed its explorations.  The next room they
entered contained nine intact jars and two broken ones.
Exotic smells filled the air, and multicolored powders
and leaves had spilled from the smashed jars and onto
the floor.

Peldor:  Spices?
Alindyar:  Or potpourri...
Mongo:  What's popurree?
grey cat:  (sniffs the spilled leaves)  Meow!  (begins
  prancing and dancing about)
Ged:  Boccob!  He's gone crazy!
Peldor:  Looks stoned to me.
Belphanior:  (picks up a handful of the leaves and then
  inhales deeply)  Whew!
Ged:  (puts his familiar back in his pack)
grey cat:  (objecting)  Meowowow!
Ged:  Quiet.  This is for your own good.
Rillen:  Odd.
Alindyar:  I think we should take one of these jars, as
  well.
Ged:  Yea, why not.
Mongo:  (grumbling)  Thousands of gold pieces is why not.
  Hey, you guys can start shoveling and digging around in
  the portable hole if you want to keep picking up one of
  everything we find...

  Five minutes later, the adventurers had gotten one of
the spice-jars, and after a short walk, they were within
another jar room.  This room had thirteen intact jars,
three broken ones, and four exits.  the jars here seemed
to contain rotting food - breads, cheeses, fruits, meats,
and other common staples of the dietary sort.

Mongo:  (holds his nose)  And you thought the eye room was
  bad...
Rillen:  Interesting.  (pries open a sealed jar, revealing
  all kinds of fresh food)  Jars of preserving, maybe?
Ged:  Who knows?
Alindyar:  Perhaps we should retain one...
Lyra:  Why?
Belphanior:  We don't need one of these.
Arnold:  Food!  (grabs a apple and eats it in two bites)
Ged:  Hey, that could be poisonous...
Arnold:  Glump glumph.  Ah-nold is immune to diseases.
Ged:  Oh?
Arnold:  Yah.  Besides, the abble is good!
Mongo:  (having decided that these jars are interesting,
  he and Flint are loading one into the portable hole)
Rillen:  Hmm.
Peldor:  (helps unload gold coins from the magical hole)
Belphanior:  Oh well, at least we're not tossing platinum
  out...
Ged:  Not yet.
Rillen:  Any ideas about what these jars are, or where
  they came from?
Alindyar:  'Twould appear as if someone had a major trip
  to a marketplace.
Lyra:  A big shopping trip.
Ged:  I bet Zagyg had something to do with it.
Rillen:  But where does one shop for jars full of eyes?
Alindyar:  The outer planes?
Ged:  Hey, by Boccob, that's a good guess.

  Momentarily, they were headed for one of the exits that
led out of here.  Passing through an empty room (!), the
adventurers walked into another passageway, and noticed a
section ahead that was accessed by a downward-sloping
area of the passage.

Belphanior:  Hold!  I detect a soul...there!  (points to
  a door that stands right before the sloping section of
  passageway)
Mongo:  Oh fuck.  (readies his hammer)

  Carefully, they opened the door and entered the square
chamber beyond...and stopped in shock.  Thick, gnarled
trees filled this room, growing right out of the stone
floor!  The ceiling was nowhere to be seen, as numerous
branches and leaves twined and crossed above.
  Amidst large bins of seed and soil, a huge troll was
kneeling, a trowel held in one gigantic hand.  As they
entered, it turned its head and looked at them.

Ged:  Boccob!  What's a troll doing in a garden?
Belphanior:  Who cares?  (he advances toward the troll,
  his sword held meaningfully in one hand)
Ged:  Wa-
Alindyar:  Remember the lich...?
Mongo:  Hey, hold up!
Belphanior:  No-
troll:  (moves one arm, slightly, and a wall of thick,
  sharp thornbushes springs up in front of Belphanior)
Belphanior:  What the hell?
Ged:  (using his spell from earlier, which is still in
  effect)  It's not evil!
Belphanior:  Not...evil?  (fuming)  Wall of thorns?
troll:  (regards the adventurers, its eyes glowing in
  a bright white hue)
Ged:  In fact, I think it's _good_.
troll:  (points, and flowers spring up around Ged and
  Alindyar)
Alindyar:  Inconceivable!
Ged:  By Boccob, I declare that no harm shall come to
  this troll!
Lyra:  (snickering)  I think the troll has that covered
  already...
Belphanior:  All right.  Okay.  (turns to the big troll)
  Sorry.
troll:  (ignores the elf)
Peldor:  (notices that the troll is blocking the far exit
  from this room)  Uh, maybe we should go back and try
  another door.
Mongo:  Good idea.  Bye, good troll!
troll:  (once more engaged in planting its seeds)

  Leaving the strange troll and its gardens behind, the
intrepid adventurers next entered a room crammed, from
wall to wall, with sealed barrels.  One was opened, and
found to contain tasty wine.  One of these was put into
the portable hole, and the group then continued, entering
another hallway with several doors.
  Taking one door, the party entered a large square room
which was split by a stream of silvery liquid which ran
across its middle.  The strange stream emerged from one
wall and disappeared into another, in both cases without
the benefit of openings.  Other than this oddity, the
chamber was empty.

Peldor:  Streams of silver?  (walks up to the stream)
Belphanior:  Silver?
Peldor:  We're rich!
Mongo:  We're already rich...
Flint:  In fact, we've been dumping out silver pieces
  all day long.
Peldor:  (pokes a dagger into the silver stream, and
  the weapon is coated with the stuff)  Hah!  Silver!
  Yahoo!
Ged:  Obviously, this is a room for fools.  No doubt
  Zagyg had some ulterior motive here.
Peldor:  Yeah, like paying Peldor the tribute he so
  richly deserves.
Ged:  Quiet, fool.

  Had the adventurers not already had all the gold and
gems that they did, the silver stream would have proven
more interesting.  However, as things were, it didn't
hold their attention for long.  Soon, they were entering
a nearby chamber, in which a window was mounted on the
far wall.

Mongo:  What's this?  A window?  At this depth?
Belphanior:  I smell a rat...
Flint:  That's just Peldor.
Belphanior:  (his magical eye spots a pit trap in the
  middle of the floor)  Pit trap!  (he runs forth and
triggers the pit with his foot)  Look out!
Rillen:  (looks down into the pit, but it's only ten
  feet deep, and also empty)  Oh well.
Mongo:  (looking out the window)  Hey!  Everyone come
  check this out!  (he sees a sunny, windswept desert
  which stretches as far as the eye can see)
Rillen:  How can this be?

  After all had entered the room, the door slammed shut
firmly, and wouldn't open for Peldor.  At the same time,
a fierce wind whipped into the room, and sand began to
pile up on the floor...

Mongo:  Shit!
Rillen:  (tugging at the door)  It is held fast!
Peldor:  I could've told you that.
Ged:  (stung by the abrasive sands)  Eyagh!
Lyra:  (likewise)
Alindyar:  (likewise)  Help!  (he staggers around)
Flint:  (pulls Alindyar aside, for the drow was headed
  straight into the open pit)  Whoa!
grey cat:  (secure in Ged's backpack, it is safe for the
  time being)
Mongo:  (bleeding from sandy scrapes, he runs for the
  entrance door)  Out of the way!  (he charges the portal
  with all his might, and slams into it - knocking it out
  into the hall beyond, and freeing the party from the
  sandy room)  Yeah!  Let's hear it for giant strength!

  The adventurers emerged into the hall, and quickly ran
away from the open door, where sand was blowing into the
passage with wild abandon.  Only two doors remained
unexplored in this section of hallway, so they chose one
and opened it.  The room beyond had large (seven feet in
height) stone statues in three of its four corners; the
things represented falcons.  Five of the large flagstones
in the floor were raised slightly, one after another, in
a linear pattern.

Alindyar:  Are these falcons not identical to the one we
  saw as we approached the ruins above, several days ago?
Ged:  By Boccob, you're right!  They are!
Belphanior:  (walking toward the line of five raised
  floorstones)  Hmm, I wonder what these do?
Ged:  (picking up traces of evil in the vicinity of the
  stones)  Whoa, I think they may be traps.
Belphanior:  Traps?  I detect no traps here?
Ged:  (thinking quickly, since he's not sure anymore if
  the concept of evil would deter Belphanior)  Cursed
  traps, that is.  Something's not right with the stones.
  I get the impression that something terrible would
  happen if we bothered them...
Belphanior:  Is that so?
Mongo:  (wondering about using the orb of fate to answer
  that very question)
Belphanior:  (decides not to risk it)  Hmm, I must be
  getting old.

  Since no one else was willing to take the chance (not
even the mighty Peldor, whose bravery knew no bounds),
the adventurers left this room, and headed for the other
door.  Behind the portal, they found another large and
squarish room.  This one was totally empty, except for
the far wall, upon which was mounted a large, black,
silvery mirror.

Belphanior:  Wow.
Ged:  It's not evil.
Belphanior:  (using his eye)  But it _is_ magical.  And
  muchly so.
Alindyar:  I hate to ruin this for everyone, but this
  mirror could be dangerous.  A trap, perhaps.  Why not
  explore some other areas of this place, and then come
  back to this one?
Mongo:  Hey, it's just a mirror.
Ged:  No, I think he's right.  This thing could be very
  dangerous.  I just...feel it.
Rillen:  I can _see_ it.  (he is made uneasy by the big
  mirror)

  After much deliberation, they decided to break for a
quick lunch, and then resume explorations.  However, no
one really wanted to eat lunch by the black mirror, with
the exception of Belphanior, so they ate in the empty
chamber near the troll's garden.  Ged also cast several
minor spells of healing at this time, for no one had
escaped the sandy room without harm.
  After lunch, they continued, finding a previously un-
explored passageway and following it.  After several
twists and turns, the hall ended in a huge double door,
and smaller doors on the right and left preceded the
passage's end.  Two statues, depicting lions, stood to
either side of the great door.
  the adventurers checked the door on the right, but it
to a tiny, empty room with no exits.  The other door, on
the left, led to some kind of altar room, containing a
huge but only vaguely humanoid statue.  The thing seemed
to have no set shape, but two large stone hands were out-
stretched, palms up, as if asking for something.

Ged:  Boccob!
Peldor:  What?
Ged:  No, this _is_ Boccob!  (he immediately kneels in
  humility)
Arnold:  (follows his liege's example)
Ged:  O great Boccob, we stand before you, thankful...
Peldor:  Oh, great.
Belphanior:  (looking around)
Ged:  (engaged in some kind of meditation)

  The others waited for a minute while Ged did whatever
it was he was doing, and finally the elf stood up.

Ged:  I have learned much.
Mongo:  Like what?
Ged:  First, a tribute is required here.
Peldor:  Tribute?  for what?
Ged:  I wouldn't question Boccob in the presence of his
  shrine, amidst his most powerful servant's lair...
Belphanior:  Mmm, perhaps there is merit in what you say.
Flint:  what kind of tribute?
Ged:  Why, a magical one, of course!  Boccob is a god of
  magic!  But weapons and armor are not ideal.
Alindyar:  What?
Ged:  Observe.  (he digs in his backpack, bypasses the
  grey cat, and holds up a wand)  Only the most powerful
  of items are worthy of Boccob's tribute.  (he places
  the wand in one of the statue's hands, and the hand
  closes, then opens)

  The wand was gone.

Ged:  (simply)  Boccob.  (actually, it was his wand of
  exorcism that he gave up, not the powerful fire wand)
Peldor:  Must we all go through this?
Ged:  Of course!  And the power of the item given up will
  be reflected in Boccob's gifts.
Peldor:  (somewhat skeptical)  Sounds like a scam to me...
Mongo:  Ah, well, I have magic to spare.  (he offers his
  chime of opening to the statue, and the chime is taken,
  much like the wand was)  Wow.  (motions to Flint)
Flint:  (to Mongo)  Hey, I don't have anything to give
  that's not a weapon or armor.
Mongo:  (hands his henchman his magical bowl of boiling)
  Take this.
Flint:  (sacrifices the bowl, successfully)  Huh.
Alindyar:  (offers up his horn of fog)  Alas.
Lyra:  (offers her packets of dust)  Oh well.
Belphanior:  this is madness...(gives up his magical
  flask)  Never did know what the damned thing did...
Arnold:  (sacrifices his scroll vs. demons)  Ah-nold
  can'd read anyway.
Rillen:  (truly torn, he finally offers his rod of
  inertia)  Aarg.
Peldor:  Uh...err...(realizes he can't talk his way out
  of this one)  Damn.  (offers his wand of darkness)
statue:  (takes this last item silently)
Ged:  Ah.
Peldor:  So, where's Boccob's gift?!?
Ged:  (ignoring the thief)  Now we may proceed.
Belphanior:  To where?
Ged:  Why, the double doors, of course!
Alindyar:  And what lies there?
Ged:  What else?  The most inner sanctum of he whose
  personal chambers we have been wandering through for
  the last few days - a place which ten, at most, of our
  fellow mortals have ever had the luck of beholding -
  the final resting place of Zagyg himself!!!



Mongo:  How'dja know that?
Ged:  (shrugs)  Boccob.

  They approached the large double doors, flanked by the
two lion statues.  Ged stepped forth and opened the doors
in one fluid motion.

Ged:  (rather excited, he looks into the chamber beyond)
Mongo:  Hey, you shouldn't do that, you know.  There are
  monsters walking around here.
Ged:  True...

  The next room was rectangular, with doors to the left
and right.  Five huge stone statues of warriors were
lined up against the wall ahead, heavy swords grasped
in their still hands.

Belphanior:  (glaring uneasily at the things)  I wonder
  if they're alive?
Ged:  Who can say?  I think that we had better watch it
  in this area.  (looks at Peldor)  If we disturb the
  wrong things, dire consequences may result.
Alindyar:  Verily.
Mongo:  Great.  Just great.  (he heads for the left door
  and pushes it open)  Huh?

  Beyond was a large domed room, containing an immense
coffin-like structure made of a glassy substance.  Within
the thing was the body of a beautiful woman, apparently
asleep.  At the foot of the coffin was a stone table, upon
which rested an open tablet and a pen.

Alindyar:  More signatures required?
Ged:  Hmm, I don't know.
Peldor:  (captivated by the beauty of the woman within the
  sarcophagus)  Aaah.
Flint:  (notices Peldor)  Hey!  Stop looking at her!
Peldor:  What?  Why?!?
Mongo:  Both of you quit!
Ged:  (also captivated by the woman)  Whew.
Belphanior:  (moves to block Ged's view)  I must see...
Ged:  Hey!  (they begin bickering)
Arnold:  (quarreling with Rillen about similar issues)
Alindyar:  (to Ged)  She is _mine_ to look at!  Avert your
  eyes!
Ged:  Why, you...
Lyra:  (wondering what's going on)

  The majority of the party - all the males, in fact -
quickly fell to bickering and arguing about the woman and
her beauty.  They seemed interested in nothing else save
the sleeping (?) lady, and it appeared that fighting was
about to break out over the matter.  Fortunately, Lyra
quickly had an idea that might solve the problem.

Lyra:  (casts Darkness, 15' Radius upon the whole coffin
  assembly, cloaking it from the sight of all the males
  among the party)
Mongo:  What?!?  (snaps out of it, as do the others)
Arnold:  Aaa?
Belphanior:  (looks around, his eye glowing bright red)
Alindyar:  What foolishness overtook us?
Ged:  Some great, powerful discord...fortunately, Lyra
  was here to help us.
Lyra:  Fortunate indeed.  You all might have killed each
  other rather quickly.
Alindyar:  (upset that he fell prey to such a base form
  of magic)  Damn the gods...
Rillen:  (looking at the table and its tablet, which are
  still visible near the great dome of darkness)
Belphanior:  (walks over to the tablet and signs it)
Ged:  Uh, good idea.  (he signs it next)
Peldor:  Ah, Peldor must sign in at all these places...

  Shortly, they had all signed the thing, and since the
coffin had caused so much trouble before being darkened,
it was left alone.  The thieves searched the walls for
secret portals, but found none.  The group went back to
the room with the five statues, and took the other door,
entering a room much like the last one, except that it
had two other exits.  Another glass coffin dominated this
chamber, but it contained an ancient, shriveled man.  A
blank tablet rested on another stone table at the feet
of the body.

Mongo:  Who the fuck's this?
Alindyar:  We males should have no problems here.
Peldor:  (half-jokingly)  Maybe Lyra will go crazy this
  time...
Lyra:  Hmph!
Ged:  (staring in awe at the body within the glass case)
  Just as the legends say...!
Rillen:  Who _is_ it?
Ged:  Zagyg!
Belphanior:  Really?  Are you sure?
Ged:  More than sure, I'm positive!
Peldor:  (searching for a means of opening the coffin)
Alindyar:  Might I suggest desisting, foolish one?
Peldor:  (unable to find any means of opening the thing)
  You might.
Ged:  It is not wise to disturb sleeping demi-gods...
Belphanior:  Actually, there's no soul here.
Ged:  Yea, this is probably just his physical body.  The
  spirit of Zagyg roams the planes and universes for all
  eternity.
Flint:  (bored)
Mongo:  (heads for the door to the right)  Well, can I
  open Zagyg's door here?
Ged:  Of course.
Mongo:  Good.

  There seemed nothing else to do here, save possibly
breaking open the coffin - an act which Ged refused to
allow.  The adventurers went into the room that Mongo
had opened, and found it to be a large, square place.
A massive black pyramid rested in the center of the
chamber, ten feet on any side.

Ged:  Agh!
Belphanior:  What?
Ged:  It's evil!  Powerfully evil!
Mongo:  (feeling ill)  Yeah...
Arnold:  Aaa.
Alindyar:  Perhaps it would be prudent to depart now.
Ged:  I think so.
Peldor:  (bored, yet uneasy, due to the pyramid)
Mongo:  That thing's _black_.
Ged:  Let's go.
Rillen:  If you say so.
Belphanior:  (as the others leave, he remains, trying to
  discern the purpose of the pyramid; however, even he
  begins to feel a draining sensation, and makes his exit
  shortly after the others)  Hey, wait for me!

  They took the left door from the Zagyg-burial room, and
entered a square chamber containing another pyramid.  This
one was made of glass, though, and radiated no evil.

Ged:  It's magical, I'd bet.
Belphanior:  Yep.
Mongo:  (feeling blissful)  Say, this room makes me feel
  good.
Rillen:  Funny, but I had the same feeling.
Flint:  Me too.
Alindyar:  Aye, and I as well.
Belphanior:  Even I can feel it.
Lyra:  I think we all can.
grey cat:  Meow!
Ged:  Some greater power must be at work.

  They checked the room for secret doors or panels, but
could find nothing, so they returned to the room with the
coffin of Zagyg.  Searching here revealed nothing, and
with a collective, resigned sigh, the adventurers left
this area and began backtracking in the dungeon.  They
felt that this couldn't be the end, that there had to be
some great guardian or mighty treasure.  As they passed
the room containing the black mirror, several of them
had the idea to check the thing more thoroughly.

Flint:  But couldn't it be evil, like that pyramid?
Ged:  No.  We already checked it, but anyway, it has no
  evil auras - just extremely powerful magic.
Alindyar:  Powerful indeed.
Belphanior:  (examining the mirror's edges)  I wouldn't
  touch its surface just yet.
Peldor:  Nope.  (he sees that the mirror doesn't have
  any definite surface)
Ged:  Maybe it's a portal to another place.
Alindyar:  I concur.
Rillen:  (wondering how smart it would be to walk into
  a mirror)  Hmm.
Arnold:  (bored)  Aaa.
Lyra:  A portal, eh?  That would figure.
Belphanior:  If so, how are we to know if the place it
  leads to is a harmful one, or not?
Ged:  I have no idea.
Alindyar:  Hades, perhaps?
Peldor:  Or some heavens...
Mongo:  I'll try using the orb.  (he gets out his orb
  of fate, thinks a second, then addresses the item)
  If we go through this portal, will we have a chance to
  survive?
Alindyar:  (whispering)  Cleverly worded...
orb:  (taking its time)
Mongo:  (frowns)
orb:  (finally)  YES.
Mongo:  Well...we could try this, instead of fighting our
  way back through the dungeon...
Ged:  Hmm.
Alindyar:  An interesting idea.
Belphanior:  Fine by me.  The unknown is always great fun
  to jump into.  (notices that the wispy thing has been
  on his shoulder for a few moments)  Where did _you_
  come from?
Mongo:  The unknown...
Rillen:  I am not so sure this is a good idea.
Peldor:  (considering touching the mirror with a dagger,
  he finally does, and the weapon is pulled into the ebon
  surface of the mirror)
Belphanior:  Well...?

  After some deliberation, they decided to go through the
mirror.

Belphanior:  Sure, I'll go first.  (he sheathes his sword,
  touches the mirror, and is pulled in)  Yieee-
Mongo:  Aw, tohell with it.  (he leaps in)  Gerinomo!

  The others readied themselves, and leapt through the
portal, vanishing instantly.  Momentarily, the room was
empty, but for the dust of the ages...and the huge, black
mirror...





next time :  "Anyone touching the mirror is drawn into an-
           other dimension.  Adventuring may continue, but
           not in this universe."
                           - from _Greyhawk Ruins_ (p. 86)

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

notes     :  Well, that was it!  The saga ended, not with a
           bang, but with a whisper.  After 125 episodes,
           I've at long last succeeded in writing up every-
           thing we did in the campaign.  The total length
           of it all approaches 2.54 Mb, and it took a year
           and ten months to write.
             Before I begin to look back on it all or other-
           wise blabber, I've got some things to say.  First
           comes a complete list of credits, which is rather
           exhaustive.  I was going to put the adventurers'
           stats and item lists in here too, but the posting
           would get even longer, so I'll post an epilogue,
           simultaneous with this posting, which will have
           those lists.
             If you really only want to read about what will
           happen next, skip to the very bottom of this post
           and find out - the credits are rather long from
           what I understand (though, as one person pointed
           out, after writing for almost two years, I'm
           really entitled to write whatever I want in the
           credits...)

+
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+

CREDIT LIST FOR THE ADVENTURERS SAGA

  - this hopefully includes all those who were either
      1)  Directly involved in the campaign
      2)  Directly involved in proofing stories
      3)  Somehow influential in shaping my mind to the point
          where I started creating FRP adventures
      4)  Miscellaneous influences

  - I don't necessarily know each and every person on this
    list personally, cases in point being people who fall
    into category #3 above

  - If you're not listed here but think you should be, don't
    take that as a bad sign - I'm pretty busy these days and
    it's hard to remember all the pertinent names.  In fact,
    I'm surprised that I got as many as I've listed below.





Vadim J. Akselrod           a frequent reader, the first of
                              many who will be listed here
Kevin C. Almeroth           a good friend and roommate
Eric W. Anderson            one of my first readers, indeed
                              THE first
Victor Appel                a reader who joined up later, but
                              provided quality feedback
Dave Arneson                co-creator of the old D&D system
The Atlanta Braves          their 1991 season kindled in me
                              an amazing interest in baseball
John Belushi                in the time he was with us, he
                              had a lot of outstanding, if
                              raunchy, humor to offer
Ashley W. Bone              the player of Ged, part irritant,
                              part leader to the party; he set
                              out to play a certain role, and
                              did it well
Leonard Bottleman           another of my first readers
Eric L. Boyd                yet another of my first readers
Charles Bronson             his star has fallen, but his great
                              movies are still out there
James Cameron               director of some of the very best
                              action and sci-fi movies ever
                              made
John Carpenter              director of some of the best
                              horror and suspense movies ever
                              made
Sean Connery                he's a legend; he IS James Bond
Richard Corben              noted fantasy artist, and creator
                              of Den, who you may have seen in
                              the _Heavy Metal_ movie
Peter A. David              one of the few people in comics
                              today who can write good stories
                              that are also genuinely humorous
Chuck Dixon                 ditto what I wrote for P. David -
                              Chuck has done some excellent
                              work, whether with the Punisher,
                              Alien Legion, or whatever
David A. Donald             a fairly recent (relatively) email
                              correspondent, who has given me
                              much excellent feedback
G. Lance Dooly              a reader, proofreader, DM, and
                              confidant
Alexandre Dumas             centuries ago, he wrote one of
                              the most awesomeof all novels:
                              The Count of Monte Cristo
Clint Eastwood              without Clint, there might never
                              have been a certain breed of
                              western hero
Errol Flynn                 a true master of the sword, his
                              dashing antics on the movie
                              screen deserve high acclaim
Frank Frazetta              a fabulously grim fantasy artist
H. R. Giger                 if you don't know his work, he
                              designed most of the weird stuff
                              in _Alien_
Rick E. Glotzbach           the player of Belphanior; inspired
                              by demons, he role-played his
                              character like one
Ed Greenwood                one of the few people who produces
                              FRP material that has that "old"
                              feel to it
Peter Gross                 author and illustrator of the very
                              short-lived b&w fantasy comic
                              series _Empire Lanes_, he had a
                              true and obvious love for his
                              characters; if you only read one
                              FRP-like comic, read his
Gary Gygax                  let's face it, he's practically
                              the father of AD&D and TSR
Andrew D. Hackett           the player behind Halbarad; he
                              tried for a while to lead the
                              party, but gave up and left
Tracy Hickman               co-creator of the _original_
                              Dragonlance saga, a trilogy I
                              hold in high regard
Robert E. Howard            the creator of Conan, and others;
                              he had a wonderful sense for
                              grim fantasy
Stephen King                one of the all-time great authors
KISS                        four guys who created a rock&roll
                              legend, though an amazingly
                              large number of people fail to
                              appreciate this ($100 million in
                              income per year speaks for
                              itself, and besides, I like the
                              music)
Dean R. Koontz              another great horror author
Gary Larson                 a master of weird humor, he
                              created _The Far Side_
Justin Larue                another fairly long-time fan
Bruce Lee                   perhaps the father of modern
                              martial arts, dead at a far too
                              early age; I respect him even
                              more after reading his biography
J. R. K. "Rob" Lefevbre III   the player of Rob, the 'idiot
                                savant', I have never known
                                someone so out of it
Kevin V. Lehde              a local proofreader, also speaker
                              of many foolish statements
Fritz Lieber                creator of the mighty Nehwon saga
Kenneth S. Lightner         the player of Peyote; he never
                              quite found what he was looking
                              for in the campaign
Cris-Jon Lindsay            random mover and shaker, he had a
                              far greater influence on the
                              stories than we'll ever see
Marc A. Lindsell            the player of Alindyar, and also
                              Lyra; he set out to play a
                              character like no other he had
                              ever run before...and succeeded
Nick Mancuso                his old _Stingray_ TV series has
                              an appeal all its own
Chrysopoulos Marios         still another long-time fan
Robert M. McCammon          yet another great horror author
Patrick S. Meyers           a former boss of mine, he was a
                              cross between Peldor and Homer
                              Simpson, and caused a number of
                              humorous things to transpire
Marc Midura                 another long-time fan
Frank Miller                noted comic artist and sometimes
                              creator; in my mind, his old
                              _Wolverine_ mini-series began a
                              new breed of anti-hero
Kurt R. Miller              the player of Krug; he filled the
                              role of the person who makes
                              sure the party lineup isn't
                              static, by causing strife right
                              from day 1
Michael Moorcock            creator of the mighty Elric sagas
James E. Morse              the player of Mongo, the symbol
                              of strength and power within the
                              party; also a close friend who
                              helped me along in countless
                              ways as I struggled through my
                              undergrad hell
Richard B. Mosher           still another of my first readers
Chuck Norris                he played some of the best no-
                              nonsense heroes ever scripted
Matt O'Brien                like any good English prof, he
                              made me think; unlike others,
                              he also made me write, which
                              helped hone my skills to no end
Dan Parsons                 author of Navero, a series that
                              preceded mine, yet had many of
                              the same elements as my own
                              campaign; definite required
                              reading among the net.sagas
Greg Peters                 yet another of my first readers
Dave E. Pope                a local proofreader, chronicler,
                              and friend, whose notes of one
                              of our adventures were what
                              started the postings
Patrick Rannou              another reader, not an early one,
                              but still a faithful reader and
                              feedback provider
Mark A. Rillen              the player of Rillen; I've never
                              known anyone else who could fall
                              asleep while vacuuming...
George Rivero               a little-known actor whose only
                              notable role was in the movie
                              _Fistfighter_, which was rather
                              inspiring to me at the time I
                              saw it
Marc R. Robert              the player of Peldor, he took a
                              silly name and created from it
                              a legend
Gene Roddenberry            his vision created a universe
Bob Salvatore               the father of the modern drow, by
                              virtue of his Drizzt novels
Will Scarvie                another of my first readers
                              (understand that allof these
                              readers were giving me feedback
                              long before the series really
                              took off)
Jonathan Schneer            a prof whose history class I
                              almost dropped, he instilled in
                              me a sense of the importance of
                              history (and caused me to think
                              about its importance in a FRP
                              setting as well)
Karl Schroeder              yet another of the first readers,
                              and a fellow Braves fan to boot
Steven Seagal               his lines may be awful, but his
                              movies remain classics, and his
                              fighting style...yow!
Dr. Seuss                   it was his stuff that first
                              activated my brain's creative
                              powers, back when I was 2 or so
Adrian Smith                quite an inquisitive long-time
                              reader
Jeff Standish               the creator of Aristobulus, a
                              net.saga featuring a classic
                              anti-hero
Gregory Stratton            another long-time reader who has
                              offered valuable feedback
J.R.R Tolkien               need I say more?
Susan S.D. Tucker           a long-time correspondent, she was
                              evaluating D&D material I wrote
                              before the Adventurers were born
Boris Vallejo               one of the all-time great fantasy
                              artists
Thomas Vallow               a very recent correspondent, who
                              has some good ideas for the
                              henchmen
Casper G. C. Van Dijk       and yet another, you guessed it,
                              faithful reader from early on;
                              his insights were of rather high
                              quality right from the start
Karl Edward Wagner          notable for his Kane stories, in
                              my mind; Kane is a different,
                              more chaotic kind of hero
Bill Watterson              creator of _Calvin and Hobbes_,
                              one of the best cartoons ever
Patrick Weeks               a more recent, but still valuable,
                              reader
Margaret Weis               co-creator of the first (and best)
                              Dragonlance trilogy
John-David Wellman          another of the recent readers
Colin Winfield              yet another regular reader

+
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+

  Now for the big question:  just where in the hell have the
Adventurers gone?
  I don't know.  I have my ideas, but they have to be made
into an adventure, which will be played (sometime during the
month of September, hopefully) by a reunited party.  So, I'm
basically taking a sabbatical, to design an adventure worthy
of a reunion - and worthy of the cliffhanger ending that was
used above.
  I don't really have much to say about the overall series,
mainly because I've babbled so much over the course of the
125 episodes, but also because it's not like I'm going away
or anything.  After the reunion, I'll write up that session
and post it, and then I'll run the characters through what-
ever adventure ideas I make up, or you people send in.  Thus
the stories will live beyond the 125 originals, provided
nothing drastic happens to me.

  To sum it up, I'm glad everyone enjoyed the stories, and
I'll be posting again sometime in October!



                         THE END



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