Chapter #150

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                              +   +
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                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 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                    +
+                    +
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/13th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+   Ged           13th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+      Arnold     11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       4th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    6/11/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    noon                                             +
+   Place:   Ged's Castle, a day's ride from Greyhawk         +
+   Climate: pleasantly warm                                  +
+   "Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody."        +
+                                              - Mark Twain   +

                   CL.  Sink or Swim

  Having agreed to take turns leading the others on quests,
the adventurers are currently engaged in Peldor's choice -
finding the lost soul of his previous henchman Bosco and
returning it safely to the body.  Within Ged's castle, they
are discussing the various options.

Ged:  So, you see, I have communed with Boccob and learned
  of the whereabouts of Bosco's wayward soul.
Peldor:  You have, eh?  (he scowls)
Ged:  Of course.  I would have told you anyway, but without
  our help, I doubt you'd have been able to travel there.
Belphanior:  Enough drama.  Where is the soul?
Ged:  Hurled into the Ethereal Plane by the power of the deck
  of many things, the soul ended up on...the elemental plane
  of Water.
Peldor:  Say what?
Mongo:  Water?
Ged:  Water.  That's where all the weird aquatic monsters
  come from.  Not to mention the water elementals.
Mongo:  Sounds like a lot of critters.
Ged:  Yea.  From what I understand, the place is just one
  big ocean of endless water, with neither surface nor air.
Peldor:  So, where in this plane is the soul?
Ged:  Bosco's soul has gone to the castle of Silthis, a
  duke among his kind. We'll just have to go talk to him
  and see if he'll be reasonable.
Rillen:  How do you know it is male?
Ged:  Err...
Peldor:  Silthis, eh?  The plane of Water, eh?  Okay, let's
Mongo:  Water?!?
Belphanior:  Darn!
Rillen:  What?
Belphanior:  I was hoping for the Nine Hells, or the Abyss,
  or somewhere like that.
Ged:  You may yet regret your words.  The plane of Water is
  no place for the weak and puny...
Belphanior:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  So how do we get there?
Ged:  Well, I've mastered my amulet of the planes, but it
  only works for one person.  So that option's out.
Peldor:  Bah.
Ged:  Now if _you_ alone were going after the soul, Peldor,
  I'd send you.
Peldor:  You would?
Ged:  In a heartbeat.  But we're all going, so we have to
  find some other way.  Besides, last time I checked, you
  couldn't breathe underwater.
Peldor:  Blub blub.
Mongo:  (fuming)  WATER?!?
Belphanior:  (decides not to tell the party about his well
  of many worlds, since he can't control it anyway)
Rillen:  (wondering how he's going to breathe underwater)
Mongo:  What about other spells?
Ged:  Therein lies the answer.  (he makes mystical gestures
  in the air)  With sufficient preparation, I can cast the
  mighty Plane Shift, and take us straight to the Elemental
  Plane of Water.
Belphanior:  Cool!
Ged:  It is indeed.  You see, with this spell I can take up
  to seven others along for the ride.
Arnold:  (strides into the room)  Can I go?
Ged:  Uh...(considering recent issues)  I guess so.  There
  shouldn't be anything here that requires your immediate
Arnold:  Yaaaaaaaaaa.  Where are we going, anyway?
Mongo:  (counting)  ...five...Arnold makes Gorin
  makes seven.
Ged:  What's that?
Mongo:  You said you could take seven.
Ged:  Seven others.
Mongo:  Whatever.  So Gorin can go with us.  (looks at his
  apprentice)  You're going plane-hopping, kid!
Gorin:  (jumps for joy)  Yay!
Ged:  Err...(he realizes that Bosco would make eight)
Peldor:  (to Rillen)  Well, I don't see why not to let
  Gorin come...
Belphanior:  What about getting back?  Not that I'll be
  in any hurry to get back, but...
Ged:  A sensible question.
Belphanior:  (glaring)  Don't patronize me.
Ged:  I'll simply have to pray for _two_ Plane Shifts.
Mongo:  (slaps his forehead)  Of course!
Ged:  (babbling to himself)  Of course, that means no
  Cure Critical...or Flame Strike...or Raise Dead...
Peldor:  Oh well.
Gorin:  Raise dead?  (he looks worried)  What would we
  need to raise the dead for?
Mongo:  Say, how is he going to breathe?  How are any of
  you going to breathe there?  (he fingers his necklace
  of adaption)  I mean, I'm covered, but...
Ged:  Hmm...well, I have a ring that allows me to breathe
  water...not to mention a potion...and the spell...but
  that only affects one person...hmm.
Rillen:  It seems to me that we need some special potions
  or something, to let us breathe underwater.
Mongo:  Yeah.  And what about our equipment and stuff?
Ged:  Yea.  Salt water's not good for armor and weapons.
  Good point.
Peldor:  Hey, I have a question.
everyone:  (turns to regard the thief)
Peldor:  Once we get there and everything, how do we know
  where to go?  And how the hell does one _hold_ a soul
  anyway?  We've got to carry it back here, you know...
Ged:  Blast it!  Too many questions!  Boccob...hmm.  Aha!
  I know what is needed!
Belphanior:  I give up.  What?
Ged:  I must consult with Ravel!
Peldor:  Who's Ravel?
Ged:  Ravel Disander, you fool.  Greyhawk's current High
  Priest of Boccob.  He'll know what to do!
Belphanior:  Well _that's_ good to know.
Rillen:  Let us hope that this plan does not un-ravel.
Ged:  I must go into town.  Peldor, why don't you and some
  of the others go retrieve Bosco's body?
Peldor:  Uh...err...because it's in the town of Targ, deep
  within the Yatil Mountains, almost a month's journey from
Ged:  No matter - these quests of ours may span years, all
  told.  Besides, you can take the sky balloon.
Peldor:  I can?!?
Ged:  Of course.  Arnold will go with you, though, to fly
  the thing.  I've trained him, you know.
Peldor:  Oh.
Ged:  That should cut your travel time in half.
Rillen:  One would hope so...
Arnold:  I'll go get my armbor.  (he leaves the room)
Belphanior:  I'll accompany you guys.  Targ...that's the
  town where they were all "targ-ets"...heh heh.
Peldor:  Yeah, they were, thanks to Bosco...
Rillen:  We left the small one with some nuns, right?
Belphanior:  Yup.
Ged:  Anyway, you three can go get the body and bring it
  back here.  By then, I'll surely know all the answers.

  Thus, the group split for a time, the two thieves and
Arnold taking the fabulous sky balloon northwest, the other
adventurers remaining in Ged's castle.  As the balloon trip
was no doubt uneventful and boring, we shall turn instead
to the actions of Ged, Mongo, and Rillen.

Gorin:  And me too!
Mongo:  Yeah, you too.  You can go with us, don't worry.
Rillen:  Ged has been away for almost two days.  What could
  be keeping him?
Ged:  (strides into the hall, a look of triumph on his face
  and a map clutched in one hand)  We've got it!
Mongo:  What?  What do we have?
Ged:  Answers, friend, answers!  I've been instructed to
  go talk to a powerful wizard.
Rillen:  Wizard?  Why?  What do we need another wizard for?
Ged:  Because he is as one with the oceans, the lakes...
Gorin:  This is getting weird.
Mongo:  Don't worry, kid, the elf knows what he's doing.
Ged:  Right you are.  (he unfurls the map)  We must go see
  the mighty Tenser!
Rillen:  Who the hell is Tenser?
Ged:  Ah, how little the undisciplined know-
Rillen:  Never mind that - I am highly disciplined.  Where
  is this Tenser?
Ged:  About twenty-five leagues to the northeast, on the
  southern shores of the Nyr Dyv.  We'll just follow the
  coast; the trip should take less than two days.
Mongo:  What can this guy do for us, again?
Ged:  He's a master of all things seaborne, not to mention
  illusions and such.  Alindyar would have liked to meet
Rillen:  Thus he might provide some useful information for
  our upcoming quest.
Ged:  Yea.
Mongo:  Enough.  Let's get the hell out of here.

  They departed within minutes, riding northward, to the
Selintan's banks, before turning eastward.

Ged:  We'll follow the river, and, Boccob willing, we'll
  be there in no time.
Rillen:  This should prove interesting.
Gorin:  (busily engaged in discussion with Mongo, they
  are comparing and contrasting the wonders of carpentry
  and blacksmithing)  So you see, it's plenty useful!
Mongo:  Yeah, but still...
Gorin:  I can make anything out of wood!  Back in the
  hills, it was _me_ who they came to for cabinets, and
  chairs, and shelves, and-
Mongo:  That's good, but a nice set of plate mail is a-
Rillen:  (to Ged)  At least they get along.
Ged:  True.

  Since peace reigned in the land, there were none of the
incidents which might be expected in less civilized parts.
Ged was even able to procure the party free rooms at a
manor the four stopped by at dusk...

baron:  You're the mighty Ged, from Greyhawk?!?
Ged:  None other.  Boccob's loyal servant.
baron:  By the gods!  We've heard of you here.  Your work
  is legendary - all those quests, all that gold...
Ged:  Yea.
baron:  Can I offer you and your servants rooms for the
Mongo:  SERVANTS?!?  We are no servants!  (he unslings his
  hammer and hurls it a nearby boulder, shattering the rock
  into shards)
Gorin:  Shard!
baron:  Eep.
Ged:  Uh...
Mongo:  We are heroes on equal footing with 'mighty Ged'
  here!  Got it?
baron:  Sure.  You must be Mongo, of the Thunderheads.
Mongo:  That's right.  And this is Rillen, and this is
  Gorin, an apprentice of mine.
Gorin:  Hi there.
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Ged:  You'll have to excuse him - his temper gets out of
  control sometimes.
baron:  Uh...right.  Let's get you to those rooms.

  They spent the night at the baron's manor, and morning
found them well-rested and refreshed for the day's journey.

Ged:  Let's be off!  He whom we seek may well be impatient
  by now.
baron:  I'll see you later, then.
Ged:  Farewell, good sir.
Rillen:  (casually waves goodbye)

  They continued riding, and it was late in the day when
they approached their destination.  There it stood, atop
a promontory of rock that jutted out from the shore of the
Nyr Dyv like a spike - the tower of Tenser the archmage!
Rising high above the water which almost totally surrounded
it, the spire was visible for miles.  Occasional windows
dotted its massive sides, but it looked both abandoned and
ominous.  The pathway to the tower's entrance was narrow,
perhaps a few feet wide at best, and the adventurers had
to be careful as they slowly advanced across the pathway
of rock.

Mongo:  Now remember, Gorin, keep quiet.  We like to let
  Ged do all the talking at times like this.
Rillen:  Aye.  Only a wizard can talk sensibly to a wizard.
Gorin:  Gotcha.
Ged:  I hope he knows we're coming...

  Half an hour later, when the four finally reached the
base of the tower, the massive door swung open of its own
accord.  They entered, walking through a short entry hall
that led into a larger chamber.  Sitting in a large chair
was a blue-robed man, an elderly human of average height
and slightly less-than-average weight.  His dark brown
hair fell over a prominent and jutting nose.  The room was
decorated with varying shades of blue, and hardly seemed
like a cold stone tower, from this perspective.

Rillen:  (wondering what illusions are assailing his well-
  honed senses)
Ged:  (steps forth, his hand held in greeting)  Greetings,
  O great one-
man:  Enough of that!  Normally I'd have amused myself in
  watching you wander through illusions, but any friend of
  Disander is a friend of mine.  (he stands up and shakes
  Ged's hand)  Tenser.  Pleased to make your acquaintance.
Ged:  The pleasure is all mine.  After all, you're the one
  who invented the floating disk...and the trans-
Tenser:  Enough, I say.  My credentials aren't that much
  more impressive than yours, my friend.  Why, in a few
  decades, you fellows may...Say, who are your friends?
Ged:  May I introduce Mongo, dwarven warrior of great
  repute, and his apprentice, the mighty Gorin.
Mongo:  (grins)  Good thing he didn't call us "servants".
Tenser:  So you're the one who brought Stormcrest back to
  Oerth, eh?  Well met, my good fellow, well met.  Use the
  weapon wisely.
Mongo:  Uh...yeah.
Ged:  And this is Rillen, an honorable warrior from a
  faraway land.
Rillen:  (nods politely)
Tenser:  Of course.  (he walks into the room, betraying
  no trace of his age as he moves)  You're planning on
  venturing into the elemental plane of Water, eh?
Ged:  Err...yes.  We seek a soul that ended up there.
Tenser:  Few things 'end up' anywhere.  (he leads them
  into a laboratory)  Especially souls.  Now, you'll be
  needing something that allows you breathe underwater.
Ged:  Yes, and also some advice about how we can keep
  our equipment from being ruined.
Tenser:  Of course, of course.  (he digs through a pile
  of odd-looking items)
Ged:  (to Rillen)  I'm glad Peldor isn't here...
Rillen:  Aye.
Tenser:  Who's Peldor?
Ged:  Uh, just a fool who we know.
Rillen:  Aye.
Tenser:  Ah, here they are.  (he holds up two pouches)
  The first of these contains a number of roots of the
  Gorka tree.
Ged:  Gorka?
Gorin:  Gorka, gorka, gorka.
Mongo:  What's a gorka?
Tenser:  Not a 'what', a 'who'.  The Gorka tree grows in
  only one place on this whole planet.  Old Gorka is its
  caretaker, and has been for centuries.  But never mind
  that - these are some of its roots, and each of them,
  when eaten, confers the ability to breathe and move
  normally while underwater.  In addition, one need not
  worry about the frigid temperatures and tremendous
  pressures that might be encountered, or the problem
  of vision underwater.
Ged:  Boccob!
Tenser:  He might possibly have had something to do with
Mongo:  Wow.  How long is this stuff good for?
Tenser:  Oh, about a day.  Give or take a few hours.  It
  depends entirely upon the eater's stamina.
Ged:  Directly or inversely?
Tenser:  Directly; hardier souls - oops, no pun intended -
  will enjoy the root's properties longer.
Mongo:  Ah, good.
Ged:  What's in the other pouch?
Tenser:  (holds up the second pouch)  This is dust made
  from the remains of a cloud dragon of largest size.
Ged:  _Cloud_ dragon?
Tenser:  Exactly.  If you sprinkle this mystical powder
  over items, they will be rendered utterly waterproof
  for a period of one day.
Mongo:  No way.
Tenser:  Believe it.  Such dust is, to put it mildly, a
  rarity.  Use it, and the roots, wisely.
Ged:  What can we offer you in return for these wondrous
  items?  Money?  Assistance?
Tenser:  (smiles knowlingly)  Well, perhaps a small boon
  from one of you would aid my cause...(to Ged)  What is
  that ring you wear?
Ged:  This one?
Tenser:  No, that other.
Ged:  It turns away spells which would otherwise harm me.
  (he ponders recent battles)  At least, it's supposed
Tenser:  I could use such a ring, if you don't mind.
Ged:  (quickly weighs the facts in his mind, and takes
  the ring off)  It's yours, friend.
Tenser:  I certainly thank you.  (he regards Mongo)
Mongo:  No, you can't have Stormcrest.  I have a lot more
  giants to kill yet!
Tenser:  No, my boy, I don't want the hammer.  I could
  scarcely lift it anyway, much less use it.  No, I was
  thinking of that ring you have there.
Mongo:  This one?  No, it's my fireproofer, and I need it
  too.  More than one fire-user has met their doom while
  wondering how I survived their attacks.
Tenser:  Actually, I was going to tell you that it is much
  more than a mere protection item.
Mongo:  It is?
Tenser:  Indeed.  (he regards Rillen)  Have you anything
  of interest?
Rillen:  Hmm.  (he holds up his blue crystal pyramid)  The
  purpose of this thing yet eludes me...
Tenser:  (takes and examines the crystal)  Hmm.  Hmmmmmmm.
  Now _this_ is strange.  Ah, how I love a good puzzle...
  (he casts a spell, and the item begins to glow)  Ah, I
Mongo:  You do?  (looks around)  I don't see anything.
Ged:  (to Mongo)  Shh, he's scrying.
Tenser:  (hands the pyramid back to Rillen)  I couldn't
  possibly take this from you.  You _do_ know what it is,
  do you not?
Rillen:  Not really.
Tenser:  You can use it once, and only once - but upon
  shattering, a fire elemental chieftain, one of their
  lords, even, will be summoned to serve you for an hour.
Rillen:  Well...I never suspected.  I will make sure it
  gets used in a hot spot.
Tenser:  Use it wisely - an elemental lord's power is a
  thing to behold.  (he looks around)  I think it is best
  that you fellows get going.  A difficult task lies
  before you, and you have much planning to do.
Mongo:  Yeah.
Rillen:  An excellent suggestion.  We shall be on our way
Ged:  By Boccob, I say again, Tenser - I don't know how
  we can possibly thank you enough for your help.
Tenser:  Don't thank me yet.  (he winks)  I might turn up
  someday and ask _you_ for something.
Ged:  Story of our life...

  They said their farewells, and departed the tower of the
archmage.  Their mounts were rested and watered, somehow,
though no stableboy was in evidence.  They rode out, and
headed in the direction of Greyhawk.

Tenser:  (back in his tower)  Ideas?
other man:  (about the same height, but immensely fat, he
  blinks into existence nearby, and pours himself a glass
  of brandy)  He seems competent enough.  Nice guy - for
  an elf, that is.  And he serves Boccob, to boot.  As for
  his friends, I'd say they pack a lot of firepower, for
  warriors.  That hammer...whew.  One can go far with
  allies like that.
Tenser:  (joins the other at a table)  Well, they are in
  our debt now, in any case.  I'm sure the Circle will
  find something useful for Ged to accomplish.
other man:  Aye, that we will.  (they toast)

  Almost two days later, Ged, Rillen, Mongo, and Gorin
arrived at Ged's castle.  Since the others weren't due back
for three more weeks, Ged began researching the necessary
information for the mighty spell.  After all, this was no
mere acolyte's spell, but rather an incantation of utmost
power.  Ged had to research material pertinent to the trip
that the party was to undertake, and this meant hours at
Greyhawk's libraries, as well as the Wizards' Guild.  For
over two weeks, the warriors were left with little to do.
Mongo made sure that Gorin got some training in practice
melee, using his magical axe, chain mail, and shield.  At
times, Rillen lent his expertise to this endeavor, while
at other times he simply meditated.
  Nearly a month after Peldor, Belphanior, and Arnold left
in the magical balloon, they returned.  Lashed to the deck
to prevent an accidental fall was the mindless shell of
Bosco.  As they walked out of the balloon's cabin and onto
the grass of Ged's courtyard, the thieves greeted their
companions with the usual glee.

Belphanior:  Are we ready to go yet?
Peldor:  (leading Bosco onto solid ground)  Boy, those nuns
  had just about had it with the little guy here.
Ged:  How's that?
Belphanior:  Heh heh.  Soul or no, he was somehow up to his
  old habits.  He had stashed things in his pockets.
Mongo:  Really?  Like what?
Belphanior:  Oh, gems, coins, small baubles...he had a good
  little trove built up there.  I don't think he knew what
  he was doing, but the nuns wouldn't have any of it.
Arnold:  (having secured the balloon, he disembarks)  Yah.
  They indsisted that we take Bodsco away, imbediately.  Id
  was good that we got dhere when we did.
Peldor:  Those nuns!  They corrupted Bosco.  I'll tell you,
  nuns these can't trust a one of them!
Ged:  Riiiiight.
Peldor:  What's the world coming to?

  The grey elf explained the use of Tenser's gifts to the
others, and the group planned to leave on the morrow.  It
was Rillen who came up with the unhead-of idea...

Rillen:  <sniff>  Phew!  Someone smells.
Mongo:  (looking around)
Ged:  Don't look at me!  I had a bath this morning.
Rillen:  Aha!  (he produces a large towel)  Where are your
  baths, elf?
Ged:  Uh...(suddenly glad that he had guest bathhouses built
  in his castle)  Follow the page.  Hey, Calvin!
Calvin the page:  (appears)  Yeah?
Ged:  Lead this warrior - and any others who wish to go - to
  the guest baths.
Calvin:  Okay!  (he zips away)
Rillen:  (follows, taking gigantic strides)  Slow down, lad.
Peldor:  Err...(he follows Rillen)  It _has_ been weeks.
Belphanior:  (follows Peldor)  Couldn't hurt...
Mongo:  (wipes dusty grime from his arm)  Oh, all right.
  (he trundles after the others, grumbling)
Gorin:  Bath?  (he heads in the same direction)
Arnold:  (looking around)
Ged:  <sniff>
Arnold:  O-kay!  (he heads for his quarters, which naturally
  have their own bath)

+   Date:    7/13/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    noon                                             +
+   Place:   Ged's Castle, a day's ride from Greyhawk         +
+   Climate: pleasantly warm                                  +

  Strangely enough, all slept well - perhaps Ged's castle was
indeed built on holy ground - and before long, it was morning
and the adventurers were eating breakfast.

Mongo:  So you're just gonna cast this spell and that's it?
  We're gone?
Ged:  Basically.  We'll first go to the Ethereal plane,
  which can be used as a springboard to the Inner Planes.
  Now, if we wanted to go to the _Outer_ Planes, we'd need an
  Astral Spell...
Belphanior:  (eyes alight)  Ah...the Outer Planes.  Say,
  how about we check out some Outer Planes after we find
  Bosco's soul?  The Hells, the Abyss, Gehenna - they are
  but ripe apples, waiting to be plucked...
Mongo:  (gets that worried look in his eyes)
Ged:  No, no, no!  We have no business going to the planes
  of Evil, and if you're smart, neither will you!  Get a
  grip on yourself, man.
Belphanior:  I was just asking...
Peldor:  Look, let's just get Bosco back to normal, then we
  can argue about other crap, okay?
Mongo:  Yeah, he's right.
Peldor:  (has some laborers he brought carry in some sacks
  that jingle)  Set 'em down here, boys.
Belphanior:  What's that stuff?
Peldor:  Loot.  In case we have to buy Bosco back.
Mongo:  Boy, you covered it all, didn't you?
Peldor:  (proudly)  Yep.
Belphanior:  (looks at the wispy form perched on his left
Ged:  Hey!  I thought that thing was history!  Gone away to
Belphanior:  So did I.  It showed up this morning.  I guess
  it was on vacation for a while...
wispy thing:  (grins toothily)
Gorin:  (to Mongo)  What's that?
Mongo:  We're not quite sure.
Rillen:  So how will we get where we need to go?
Ged:  Here's how it works:  we all join hands, and I cast
  the spell.  It'll take a minute, and then we'll be in
  Ethereal form.  From there, follow my lead.  Let's meet
  in the laboratory, in half an hour.  Get armored up and
  all that - then we'll use the roots and the dust.

  Somewhat nervously, they donned their armor, oiled their
weapons, and double-checked their inventories.  Deryck was
given specific orders, and the stone golem was brought in
for added security.

Ged:  Now, Deryck, I can't stress this enough-
Deryck:  I know, I know.  Your bodies will be absolutely
  helpless while you're "gone", so we have to make sure
  that this chamber is locked, barred, and guarded.
Mongo:  Helpless?
Ged:  Yea.  (to the stone golem)  Stay in here, and kill
  anyone who enters.
Mongo:  Whoa.
stone golem:  (adopts a guarding pose by the door)
Ged:  Okay, Deryck, we'll see you later.
Deryck:  Aye.  (leaves the room)
Ged:  (shuts, locks, and bars the door)  Hmm.  (he Wizard
  Locks the door, then casts Explosive Runes upon it)  It
  never hurts to be over-cautious.  (he casts a Glyph of
  Warding upon the door as well)  Heh.
Belphanior:  (adopts a sagely pose)  There's no such thing
  as overkill.
Peldor:  Ha.
Ged:  (regards the party)  Okay, I've got the dust. Ready?
Rillen:  Ready.
Ged:  (goes from person to person, sprinkling the dust on
  each adventurer's armor, clothes, weapons, and packs,
  after which all such items glow with a faint blue light)
Mongo:  I don't understand-
Ged:  No worries.  If Tenser says it'll work, then it'll
Belphanior:  Tenser?
Ged:  (hands a root to everyone but Mongo and himself)  Eat
Peldor:  (sniffs the root)  Is this some kind of cooking
  spice?  Or a hallucinogen perhaps?
Ged:  Just eat it.
Belphanior:  (munches the bitter root cheerfully)  Doesn't
  taste magical.
wispy thing:  (immaterially sniffs the root)
Belphanior:  Well, I don't know how you can eat this, so
  you'll just have to stay behind, okay?
wispy thing:  (ignores Belphanior, floating around upside-
Ged:  Not to mention that we're up to full capacity for my
  Plane Shift.
Belphanior:  Yeah.
Ged:  (hands Mongo one of the roots)  Just in case, eh?
Mongo:  Gotcha.  (he stashes the root in a convenient pouch)
Peldor:  (forces Bosco to eat one of the roots)  C'mon, chow
  down, kiddo.
Ged:  Everyone ready?  (begins spellcasting)
Gorin:  Ulp.
Ged:  Don't worry, this won't take a second.
Mongo:  Huh?!?

  Patience was not a common virtue among this group, but
they somehow managed to remain quiet for an entire half-
hour.  As Ged completed his spell, there was a shimmering
effect, and the whole group was suddenly amidst a barren,
translucent emptiness.  Nothingness was visible in every

Mongo:  (looking around)  What the fuck?!?  (he realizes
  that there is no solid ground, and everyone is floating)
Rillen:  Whoa.
Belphanior:  Cool!
wispy thing:  (regards Belphanior)
Belphanior:  Yow!  (counting heads, he comes up with a
  total of eight)  Eight.  (to the wispy thing)  How the
  hell did you manage to come along?  You're number nine!
wispy thing:  (grins, and flies in circles happily)
Rillen:  (regarding the weird space around the party)
Peldor:  What's going on?
Ged:  Relax.  This is the Ethereal Plane.  It links various
Arnold:  Aaa.
Peldor:  (looking around nervously)
Rillen:  Nirvana.
Ged:  Not quite.  That's an Outer Plane.
Belphanior:  (observes a bit of ethereal flotsam that zooms
  by)  Neat.
Bosco's body:  (mindlessly floats in place)
wispy thing:  (regards Bosco's body)
Ged:  Okay, listen up.  We move by thought here, or should
  I say we move by _my_ thoughts?  Anyway, just relax and
  let yourselves be carried along by the ethereal winds.
Rillen:  (bats his arms around)  Right.
Peldor:  Hey, whatever you say.  (he spots a speck at the
  extreme limit of his enhanced vision, but decides to
  keep his mouth shut since it's not the direction they
  are heading)  Whatever you say.

  Ged concentrated, and the party began to sail silently
through the emptiness.  All in all, it was kind of spooky,
but Ged seemed to know what he was doing, and after what
seemed like a short time, the group was entering a strange
blue field that appeared out of nowhere.

Mongo:  What's this?!?
Ged:  Don't worry.  I'm just guiding us into the elemental
  plane of Water.
Mongo:  Oh.  Of course.

  They descended (?) into the stuff, and suddenly had the
sensation of floating.

Ged:  We're there.
Belphanior:  It's a little cold...but we're alive.
Peldor:  And breathing.  Don't forget that.
Rillen:  And free to move normally.  (he revels in this)
Mongo:  (breathing normally anyway, due to his amulet, he
  feels neither cold nor pressure, despite having not eaten
  one of the Gorka roots)  Hmph.
Ged:  (breathing normally, he nevertheless feels both cold
  and a dragging slowness)  Dammit.  (he eats one of the
  magical roots, and is liberated from said ills)  Guess
  my ring's only good for breathing underwater.
Arnold:  (staring at his sword, which appears to be dry)
Gorin:  This is the weirdest thing that's ever happened to
Bosco:  (waving his arms mindlessly)  Urp.
Ged:  Now, I've done my best to put us in this plane at a
  point near the castle of Silthis, but still...
Belphanior:  (holds his magical compass out)  Silthis?

  The device's needle spun around and around, before coming
to rest, pointing in one direction.

Belphanior:  All right!  We're in business!
Rillen:  A good thing.
Peldor:  Actually, I'm the businessman here...hmm, good
  thing I left Tanya in charge.  She's a competent girl.
Rillen:  Indeed.
Mongo:  What the hell are you two babbling about?
Peldor:  Oh, nothing much.  C'mon, let's get going.  I
  want to find Bosco's soul.

  They moved - swam, really - through the water, headed
in the indicated direction.  For some reason (lack of any
"downward" planetary pull, perhaps) they didn't sink at
all, but rather moved easily.  The water was surprisingly
clear, and even those without keen vision could see for
quite a distance.  Unfortunately, as they were about to
learn, most creatures native to this plane also happened
to be practically invisible in water...

Belphanior:  Whoa!  Souls ho!
Mongo:  (hefts his hammer)  Where?
Belphanior:  There!  No, I mean there!  Uh...

  Without any warning, a pair of long, snake-like things
sailed into the midst of the party, attempting to surround
victims with their coiled bodies.

Mongo:  (finds himself entrapped)  Damn it!  (he pounds on
  the watery form surrounding his body and shield arm)
Belphanior:  (likewise finds himself totally snared)  Fuck!
Rillen:  (moves to help Mongo, bashing the thing with his
Ged:  What the hell...?
Arnold:  Yah!  (he tries to pry Belphanior's attacker off)
Belphanior:  (watching the swordpoint)  Careful!
Mongo:  (somehow has a revelation)  Wait a minute!  (he has
  realized that the creature isn't crushing him, but rather
  trying to drown him)  Ha ha ha!
Peldor:  What in _the_ hell are you laughing about?
Mongo:  Ha ha!  It wants to drown come on!  Drown
  me!  Ha ha!
Belphanior:  (gets the joke)  Heh heh...ha ha ha ha!
Arnold:  I'm combfused.
Belphanior:  We _can't_ drown!
Arnold:  Oh.

  As the party floated there, laughing, the pair of watery
things must have realized something was amiss, for they
ceased their attack.

Ged:  Hmm.
Mongo:  (frowns)  Can't you cast a spell, to talk with them
  or something?
Ged:  Frankly, I don't want to waste that powerful a spell.
  (he is thinking of Speak With Monsters)
Rillen:  Oh.
Peldor:  Well, let's just be on our way.
Ged:  Now hold on a minute.  I didn't say I couldn't do it.
  (he brandishes the hand with the ring of water elemental
  command on it)  You!  Yes, I'm talking to you!
watery snake-like things:  (undulate)
Ged:  (begins talking in a gurgling tongue that none of the
  other adventurers can understand)  Gruglgurlgurlg.
Belphanior:  Wow.
Ged:  Rgrlgrl, grlg rgurlgur.  Luglrguglru, glurglr.  Grlg!
watery snake-like things:  (turn and swim away)
Ged:  (grins)
Mongo:  What was that all about?
Ged:  Grugr, glurlgl glurlguglurlug.  Oh, sorry.
Peldor:  Whew.
Ged:  Those were the monsters known as "water weirds" back
  on our plane.  In our present state, of course, we have
  nothing to fear from them.  They were basically attacking
  like that based on pure instinct.  Anyhow, I told them
  that we were gods from another world, come to speak with
  the mighty Silthis of the seas.
Belphanior:  Did you threaten them?
Ged:  Didn't have to.  They knew Boccob's power when they
  saw it.  They told me to head in that direction.  (he
  points with Lightbringer)
Lightbringer:  We're not going to find any undead in this
  place, are we?
Ged:  Doubtful.
Lightbringer:  <sigh>

  They moved in the direction indicated by the creatures,
which agreed with Belphanior's magical compass.  Before too
long, bits of coral and rock came into view.  Next came a
series of floating, underwater reefs.  There were small
fish and weeds everywhere.

Ged:  Ah, how I love the water!

  Suddenly, all the fish darted away, vanishing in a matter
of moments.  Everyone got the feeling that something was
about to happen.

Peldor:  Look!
monstrous shark:  (fully fifty feet long, it has appeared
  from behind a cloud of debris, and is headed right for
  the party)
Gorin:  Aie!  (he raises his axe)
Ged:  (trying to talk to the shark)
giant shark:  (deems the elf weak and helpless, and ignores
  his attempts at communication)

  The huge beast tore through the party's ranks, swallowing
Belphanior, Arnold, Gorin, and the hapless Bosco whole
before swimming away!

Ged:  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  Fuck!  (he hurls his hammer after the shark, but it
  only moves about ten feet before losing momentum, sinking
  fast)  Aaa!
Peldor:  (uses his telekinesis to grab the weapon and pull
  it back)  Maybe the Gorka root doesn't apply to weapons.
Ged:  Yea.
Mongo:  (grabs the hammer)  Whew.
Rillen:  Look!
giant shark:  (heading back toward the group, its huge maw
  open wide)
Mongo:  (prepares to strike a mighty blow)
Ged:  (pondering what spells might help in the underwater
  setting)  Uh...
Rillen:  (extends his staff's bladed end and awaits the
  shark, away from Mongo so that both won't be targets)
giant shark:  (snaps at Rillen, ripping large gashes in
  his side)
Rillen:  Aarrgh!  (he stabs at the shark, tearing a gash
  in its side)
Peldor:  (misses the shark, but gets grazed by its rough
  skin)  Ow!
Mongo:  (wallops the shark's tail, cracking cartilage)
Ged:  (casts a Burning Hands at the shark, but the spell
  fizzles)  By Boccob!  I should have known it wouldn't
  work underwater!
giant shark:  (swims away, bleeding, then turns for another
Rillen:  Look there, on its side!

  A sword blade was sticking out of the shark's side, and
it sawed back and forth, seeking freedom.  Another blade
appeared from the shark's belly.

Mongo:  I'd say the thing didn't find Arnold and Belphanior
  very appetizing.
Rillen:  Aye.

  Even as they watched, one of the swords tore a gash in
the shark's rough hide, and Arnold's upper half popped out
and looked around.

Arnold:  Aaa!  I've been eaden!  (he hacks and slashes at
  the shark, and soon kicks his legs free)  Aaa!  (he pulls
  Bosco's body out of the shark's gut)
Bosco's body:  <pop>
Belphanior:  (similarly escapes from the other side of the
  predator)  Ugh!  (he pulls Gorin after him)
Gorin:  (chops the shark in parting)  Take that!
giant shark:  (badly wounded, it flees, trailing blood)
Ged:  Let's get out of here, before other...things come
  for the blood.  (he casts a Cure Serious Wounds upon
Belphanior:  Good thing we got out when we did - those
  digestive juices were just getting started.
Gorin:  Yeah.  My axe was, too.
Mongo:  Don't worry, kid, you did fine.
Ged:  I guess you don't have to worry about washing the
  gore off of yourselves.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  Too bad, eh?
wispy thing:  (orbits Belphanior's head happily)

  As the party continued along, following the compass, a
huge floating rock loomed in the distance.  Various aquatic
creatures could be seen swimming or floating around it.
The rocky mass was well over a mile in diameter, and its
size dwarfed everything else as the party swam toward it.

Rillen:  Odd.
Ged:  What?
Rillen:  I was thinking that a water-dwelling king would
  have a castle made of water.
Ged:  What a concept.
Arnold:  Aaa.
Belphanior:  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  What?  It's just an island.  An underwater island.
Belphanior:  Not that.  (he points to the area beneath the
  party)  _That_.
wispy thing:  (doing flips in the air)

  Rising from the depths (of course, the depths were all
around them) was the biggest squid the party had ever seen.
Well over a hundred feet in length, the monster was armed
with ten long tentacles, two of which were barbed, the
spikes being five feet long apiece.

Gorin:  Oh shit.  Oh shit.  Oh shit.
Mongo:  Good point.
Ged:  (recalling the lore of the seas that he has learned,
  as the beast swims nearer)
Belphanior:  Now _that's_ a soul.
Peldor:  Squid:  it's not just for breakfast anymore.
Rillen:  (looking at the thief)  Are you mad?!?
wispy thing:  (blinks rapidly, though it has no eyelids
  on its beady little eyes)
Ged:  (sallies forth alone, his ring glowing)  Halt!  Halt
  and parley with us, kraken!
Belphanior:  Kraken?  I had thought them legends...
Rillen:  Apparently not.
Peldor:  Maybe he's wrong.
Arnold:  Whad's he doing?

  Ged was talking to the kraken in a bizarre language of
clicks and screeches...

Ged:  Klkclkcl.  Clcklckclkclc scree scree...
Ged:  There's no need to fight-
kraken:  I AM WAITING.
Ged:  Now look here.  We realize your position as ruler of
  the underseas, but we are travelers from another plane,
  and we're here on business.  We must speak with the great
  Silthis, and-
kraken:  HOW ODD.
Ged:  How's that?
kraken:  I AM SILTHIS.
Ged:  Oh.
Ged:  Say, you talk pretty eloquently for a kraken.
Ged:  Yea...well, here's our quest.  Long ago, one of our
  companions was accidentally deprived of his soul.  The
  errant soul came here, and I have learned that it ended
  up in your possession.
Silthis:  WHAT OF IT?
Ged:  Well, the soul in question is crucial to a conflict
  in our world, out of the water.  We simply must retrieve
  that soul - the fate of nations depends on it.
Silthis:  HOW DROLL.
Ged:  Come now.  We are agents of some of the most powerful
  forces on Oerth.  Besides, a fight wouldn't help anyone
  here.  (he gestures to the others, who are doing their
  best to look menacing)  Besides myself and the other
  archmage, we have capable warriors armed with artifacts
  of tremendous power.  I have no doubt that you would win
  such a battle, but at what cost?
Silthis:  (sizes up the others)
Ged:  Besides, if we fail, others will come, others even
  more powerful than we are.  You could have a war of your
  own on your hands.  Err, tentacles.
Ged:  (notices that a large crowd of marine creatures has
  gathered around the party, including some evil-looking
  humanoid-things with tridents, a giant sea snake, three
  giant sea slugs, and a school of sharks)
Mongo:  (prepares to wind his horn of siege, if necessary)
Ged:  Please, co-operation would really be helpful here.
  Perhaps we can offer you wealth in exchange...
Silthis:  PERHAPS.  (it gestures to its servants)  THESE
Ged:  Fair enough.  (he ventures back toward the others,
  mumbling)  _Slaves_?
Belphanior:  What's the good word?
Ged:  Klklkcclkc scree clkclkclk clkcc.  Oh, sorry again.
  I'm just not used to this.
Mongo:  Yeah.  (he eyes the surrounding creatures)  What's
  the deal?
Ged:  We're supposed to follow those humanoid-things to
  that big floating rock.  Then we have to wait.
Peldor:  Why?  We have to talk to Slithis, or whatever
  his name is.
Ged:  Uh...that _is_ Silthis.
Peldor:  That?  Uh, okay.
Ged:  Keep in mind that we _are_ on the elemental plane of
Mongo:  (muttering)  If we go to the rock-place, fine.  My
  horn'll work better there, if I have to use it.
Rillen:  I hear you.  (he prepares himself for battle)
Belphanior:  I hate to say it, but that kraken looks fairly
  tough.  Of course...(his evil eye glows)...I _could_ take
  him out, if necessary.
Ged:  Let's just see what happens.
Belphanior:  (to Ged)  Hold on a second...aren't squids the
  ones without any bones or cartilage?
Ged:  Yea, they are.
Belphanior:  And that's a squid, isn't it?
Ged:  Yea, it is.
Belphanior:  Uh-oh.
wispy thing:  (stares at the guards, gnashing its teeth)
scaly humanoids:  (recoil)
Peldor:  (to Mongo)  The money I gave you is still in the
  portable hole, right?
Mongo:  Yup.
Peldor:  Whew.  I'm glad I thought ahead.
Arnold:  Me doo.

  They sat upon a rocky shelf which protruded from the
fortress side, and waited.  It was obvious that the scaly
humanoids wanted very badly to eat the party, but feared
the retribution of the kraken.  About ten minutes later,
a pair of the things swam from a cavern nearby, dragging
a semi-material form between them.

Bosco's soul:  Peldor!
Peldor:  Bosco!
Bosco's body:  (twitches)
Bosco's soul:  (slips from the grasp of its captors and
  disappears into the body where it belongs)
Bosco's body:  (convulses)
Peldor:  Whoa.
Bosco:  (begins flagellating)  Whee!  I'm home!
Silthis:  (floats into view, dwarfing all its minions)  I
Ged:  (translates)
Rillen:  (wondering what would have happened if the soul
  had been attacked on this plane, he gets a headache)
Ged:  (translates)
Peldor:  What's the price?
Ged:  (translates)
Ged:  (translates)
Mongo:  (holds the portable hole open)
Peldor:  (begins pulling out sacks of coins - silver, gold,
  electrum)  I have all this and more!  Gems, jewelry, all
  manner of treasures!  A veritable fortune!
Ged:  (translates, wearily)
Bosco:  (begins asking all kinds of questions, in his
  shrill little voice)  Where did you guys come from?  How
  did you find me?  where are-
Peldor:  Shh, not now, Bosco.
Ged:  See, a fortune in treasure is now yours.
Ged:  (translates, eyeing Peldor)  It's your call, thief.
Peldor:  (examines his inventory)  Hmm.  (he holds up the
  strange black cube)  I don't know what this is, but you
  are welcome to have it.
Ged:  (translates)
Peldor:  (throws in a few of his potions, for good measure)
Silthis:  (holds the cube in one tentacle)  HMM.  VERY WELL,
Ged:  (translates)
  OUT OF MY SIGHT.  (his slaves drag away the sacks)
Ged:  (translates)  Let's go.

  The adventurers warily backed away from the kraken, its
fortress, and its servants.  They left as fast as they
were able.

wispy thing:  (looking back wistfully)
Belphanior:  What if he comes after us?
Ged:  Not a problem.  (he concentrates, and the party is
  abruptly drawn back into the Ethereal Plane)  See?
wispy thing:  (inexplicably with the party still, it grins)
Mongo:  Whew!
Peldor:  Look, everyone!  Bosco!
Bosco:  (gratefully thanks everyone twice)  Thanks, I don't
  know how much longer I could have remained sane there.
Peldor:  Well, it's over now.
Belphanior:  Too bad about the loot you had to give up...
Peldor:  Loot?  Oh, that was mostly copper, painted with
  a special mixture known only to us thieves.
Belphanior:  You mean...?
Peldor:  Yep.  Formula "X".
Mongo:  So you _cheated_ the squid-thing?!?
Ged:  (gapes in wonder)
Peldor:  Mostly.  I just kinda got rid of all my copper.
  Some of the other stuff was real, like the silver, but
  all the gold was really copper.  And the copper was, of
  course, copper anyway.  The gems were a mixed batch, but
  mostly flawed, really.
Belphanior:  What about that black cube?
Peldor:  Well, since I couldn't prepare for giving away a
  magic item or two, that was real.  But the potions I
  gave...he got the sweet water, but he also got the acid.
Rillen:  A stroke of genius!
Peldor:  Yeah, someone's going to be in for a real surprise
  when they drink that one...that's what they get for taking
  an artifact from Peldor.
Ged:  Well, I guess it was all justified.  I mean, it was
  immoral to bargain with an evil creature...but we had to
  have the soul.
Bosco:  Yeah, no kidding!
Lightbringer:  Just be glad it wasn't undead...

  They sailed merrily through the ethereal plane, making
good time, not that time was a factor here.  Soon enough,
Ged decided that it was time to return to the plane of
Oerth, and he went about casting another Plane Shift.  It
was fortunate indeed that the priest was in the favor of
his diety.  Joining hands, the adventurers watched as the
elf cast his spell.  A shimmering nimbus appeared around
the party, and within moments, everyone was sitting in
Ged's laboratory.

Ged:  See?  I told you we had nothing to worry about!

next time :  Ged's quest

notes     :  Whew.  Long episode, eh?  I was happy with the
           end result; for episode 150, I wanted to create
           a self-contained story, one that took care of old
           loose ends and set up a few new ones.  In addition,
           the episode had to be sizable - 150 is, after all,
           150.  Well, I think the prescription was totally
           filled by the above story.
             On another note, the "Underrated Monster of the
           Week" award goes to the Giant Shark.  I mean, what
           other monster can swallow foes whole on any roll 4
           or more above what it needs to hit?  With a thac0
           of 5, this fella is ready to kick some serious ass.

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