Chapter #16

previous chapter (#15)                                                                  next chapter (#17)




*****
*
*  The 8 player characters contained in this writing are copyright
*  1991 by Thomas Miller...copying and distribution of these stories
*  is permissible only under the condition that no part of them will
*  be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.
*    The dungeons and non-player characters contained herein are from
*  TSR's module, A1, and are copyright 1980 by TSR, Inc.  Although
*  they are reprinted after a fashion in this story writeup, they
*  are not being used for profit or personal gain in any way.  In
*  this spirit, verbatim text and maps from the module have been
*  avoided.  I would encourage anyone who does not own the Slaver
*  series, that is, TSR modules A1-A4, to buy them, as much more
*  enjoyment will come from actually playing them rather than from
*  reading about one party's experiences within.
*
*****


-----------------------------------------------------------------------
THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 5th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 4th/3rd/4th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 4th/4th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)
Halbarad, 5th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 5th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 6th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 4th/4th level half-elf fighter/druid (N)
Rob, 6th level human priest (LG)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------


                            XVI.  Highport



  The party had been resting for some time in Havenhill, at no cost to
themselves.  All good things must come to an end, though, and so one
day the Baron (Trevor) who had been their host approached them with an
offer of prospective employment.

Trevor:  Ahem...I may have found you fine adventurers something else to
  challenge you...something truly worthy of your diverse talents.
Belphanior:  Maybe he's just trying to get rid of us.
Halbarad:  Anyway...?
Trevor:  For many years now, countries in this area have been subject to
  raids from slavers.  A number of coastal towns have had their populaces
  depleted as these vile ones came by sea and took innocent men, women,
  and children.  After a long time - too long a time - the rulers of the
  lands affected have put aside their differences and resolved to find a
  way to end this problem.  The brazen attacks on villages and towns are
  at an all time high.  Some have been burned to the ground, and all the
  residents taken.
Mongo:  So where do we fit in?
Trevor:  I have spoken of you at the council meetings, and recommended
  your group to the king of Ulek.  Because of this, the job is yours, if
  you want it.
Peldor:  Now hold on a second here!  How much are we getting paid for
  this?
Ged:  What matters money in a situation like this?  Innocents are being
  harmed!  The wrath of Boccob waits to descend!
Peldor:  Yeah, right.
Belphanior:  Slavers?  I'm in.  I hold no love for slavers.
Peyote:  Who does?
Trevor:  The deal is, if you can track down the ringleader(s) of this
  operation, and put an end to it once and for all, and you return and
  show proof of this...
Peldor:  Proof?!  The deeds of Peldor need no PROOF!
Trevor:  ...then you will be paid an appropriately sizable sum.  Perhaps
  in land, or training in the area, or whatever.
Alindyar:  Why not just take a fleet of well-armed troops and crush the
  slavers' base in a straightforward way?  Why send in a party?
Trevor:  Good question.  It has been decided that an attack en masse
  might eliminate the first slaver outpost, but then the others, as well
  as those behind the operation, would never be located.  This approach,
  one of stealth, is much more likely to succeed.
Alindyar:  I see.
Trevor:  So, what do you think?
Halbarad:  Tenuous terms indeed.  But we accept them.
Peldor:  We do?
Ged:  Well then.  Let us be briefed, and be off!
Belphanior:  Death to the slavers!

  And so, the merry band was on its way.  They talked to an escaped slave
who was in the care of the king, and found that the first checkpoint for
slavers was in the city of Highport, in the Pomarj.  They got directions
to a ruined temple compound from the slave, as well as the location of a
secret entrance at the back of the temple which was used to ferry some of
the slaves into the place (e.g. this slave).  With this in mind, they set
out for Highport, posing as slavers in the hope of passing into the city
unnoticed.

Rob:  Me?  A slaver?  Wow.
Peyote:  All I need now is a whip...
Alindyar:  It shouldn't be very hard for me.  All I have to do is take
  off my hood, and anybody will believe anything about me.
Peldor:  Eek!  It's a drow!  It's a drow!  Ha!
Belphanior:  I wouldn't mind people having a fear reaction to me...

  The party traveled through the plains in the eastern region of Ulek
for four days.  Near the end of the third day they crossed the southern
part of the Jewel River (near where it empties into the Azure Sea).  As
the group entered the Pomarj, the terrain became hilly, then leveled
out into plains.  After a couple more days, they saw a city ahead, its
old walls inviting the adventurous and chaotic...Highport.

guard at gate:  Hey!  Whassis all about?  Why you come to Highport?
Halbarad:  (trying to act evil)  Har, har!  We're wandering slavers,
  just passing through.
other guard:  What slavers have _elves_ in their band?  Huh?!
Belphanior:  Shut your trap, weasel!  We do as we please!  Whether or
  not I am an elf, I _can_ be one nasty motherfucker!  Would you care
  to cross blades with me and find out?
guard:  Err...no, thas' okay.  We believes you, yes we does.
Mongo:  Good!  Then I won't have to smash your heads into bloody pulp.
  We slavers don't waste time at city gates, you know!
Alindyar:  (unhoods himself)  Make no incident of our passing.  Or _I_
  will come back and deal with you personally.
guard:  No problem...
Peyote:  The city beckons, dudes.

  The party entered the city.  Never ones to waste time, they followed
the directions they had been given by the escaped slave, and made their
way to the ruined temple near one edge of the city.  Sneaking around to
the rear of the place, they stayed back in some nearby ruins and simply
watched (wasting time?  heh heh).  They noticed that every now and then
a guard or two walked along the outside of the place, but few if any of
these diligent watchmen (and watchorcs) patrolled the back.  Obviously,
they thought their secret entrance to be unknown, or secure.  After two
minutes of pondering, the party realized that the methods used to level
the orc keep many months ago did not apply here.  Cautiously, they snuck
up to the place where the secret door was supposed to be.

Peldor:  (examining the stony wall)  Where _is_ the blasted thing?
Belphanior:  You dummy.  Here, look!  See this tiny crack in the wall?
Peldor:  Yeah.  I saw that.  Just testing you.
Belphanior:  The hinges must be on this side...here, it opens this way.
Peldor:  Wait, check for traps...aha!  There's a rope across the hinge
  side, on the inside side of the door.  Obviously it is part of the
  trigger mechanism for some deadly trap.
Belphanior:  Well, cut it then!  (produces a thin knife and sticks it
  through the slit, slicing the rope with a downward motion)
DM:  Sproing!
Peldor:  Huh?
Rob:  Sproing?
DM:  Something heavy slams against the other side of the secret door
  with great force, cracking some of the plaster on this side.
Belphanior:  Wonderful.  Now I open the door.  (opens it with some
  difficulty, revealing a wooden board at chest height across the
  doorway.  The board has various spikes and nails driven into it,
  and these were imbedded in the door.)  Cool!
Halbarad:  Out of the way, thieves.  There could be danger within.
Ged:  I cast light on something.
Rob:  Here, use my mace.
Ged:  Yeah.  You're not doing anything anyway, so you can hold this
  lit mace aloft for us.
Peyote:  Geez, that's bright.

  Halbarad, Mongo, and Belphanior formed the front rank, with Ged,
Rob, and Peyote in the middle, and Alindyar and Peldor in the rear
of the party.  They were now in a ten foot wide, thirty foot long
corridor which ended in a "T", going to the west and east.

Belphanior:  Let's go east!  (they do)
Peyote:  Go east, young men...
DM:  You find a door.
Belphanior:  Can we hear anything at the door?  I listen just in case
  there is something to hear.
DM:  Nope.
Mongo:  Belphanior, open the friggin' door.  If there's anything in
  the room, I'll take care of it for you.  Me an' my hammer, that is.
Belphanior:  (opens the door carefully)
DM:  You see an empty, burnt-up room.  The floor is covered with a
  large quantity of debris.
Mongo:  We enter the room and look around.
Belphanior:  Search the rubble.  Anything?
DM:  Nope.  The eastern wall seems to have been maintained moreso
  than the rest of the room, but...
Peldor:  I search that wall for secret or concealed doors.
DM:  No luck.
Peldor:  Well, fuck.
Peyote:  No thanks.

  The party headed back to the T-junction, then went west, through a
door to the north, then along a corridor, northward, which ended at
an east-facing door.

DM:  This wooden door is charred; a couple of boards are gone.  It
  looks pretty weak, though the hinges and the doorknob are melted.
Mongo:  Well, kick it down!
Halbarad:  No, wait.  We can do this quietly, can't we?  Stealth...
Mongo:  Phmph!
Belphanior:  We look through the missing boards' holes into the room
  beyond; what's in there?
DM:  The room is also burnt up pretty badly.  The ceiling has all
  but collapsed, except for the fringes of the room, and the above
  floor is visible.  Trash and crap cover the floor, and a sickly
  stench comes through the door.
Rob:  Crap?  You mean real crap on the floor?
DM:  No, junk.
Rob:  Oh.
Belphanior:  Go smell it and see if it's crap, Rob.  I'll push your
  nose in it.  Heh heh.
Rob:  No thanks.
Belphanior:  Will the door open?
DM:  No, it's wedged or stuck.
Mongo:  Enough of this.  I back up, and barrel into the door.
DM:  Okay...it shatters, leaving the hinges behind.  You fall amongst
  the rubble.
Halbarad:  Belphanior and I will follow him.  Standing, that is.
DM:  Okay.  As you enter the room, a number of howling fiends leap
  from the ledge above and nearby the door, landing all around the
  three in the room.  Some also face you in the middle row, Rob, Ged,
  and Peyote.  They hiss and snarl as they attack you all.
Peyote:  Most odious.
DM:  Yes, they do stink.
Rob:  Do they look like undead?  Ghouls, maybe?
DM:  Could be...
Rob:  Back, rotten ones!  Take your infected carcasses away from here!
  Far away, hopefully!  I say, BEGONE!!  (attempts to turn undead)
Ged:  Hey, that's _my_ line.
DM:  Eight of the things cower in one corner, obviously scared of the
  renegade holy man and his glowing holy symbol.  Two of the monsters
  do not retreat, however.  Everyone make a save versus poison.
ALL:  What?!?!?!?
DM:  Stench...
Halbarad:  (makes the save, lays into a ghast with his axe)  Die!
Mongo:  (fails his save)  Ugh!  (vomits on a nearby wall)  BLEAARGH!!
Belphanior:  (makes his save)  How revolting.  Really, Mongo, you ought
  to keep that to yourself.  (attacks the other ghast)
Ged:  (fails save, is nauseated)
Rob:  Hey, don't look for a target here!  (makes his save easily)
Peyote:  (fails his save, doubles over in nausea)  Vomit?  Urgh.
Alindyar:  (makes his save)  Maybe it was the fact that I had no meal
  this morning...
Peldor:  (makes his save)  Peldor would NEVER throw up with no good
  targets nearby.  Can I get around for a backstab?
DM:  Nope, too many people are in your way.

ghast#1:  (missed Halbarad, now suffering for it)  Aaagh!
Halbarad:  I said die, evil thing!  (cough cough)  Phew.
Mongo:  (swings feebly, but misses, as he is still sick)
ghast#2:  (claws and gropes at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  Elves are _immune_ to ghoul paralyzation!  Heh heh.
DM:  They're not ghouls...roll a save, Belphanior.
Belphanior:  (rolls, fails)  Shit!  It figures!  (paralyzed)
Peyote:  Never fear dude!  I have arrived on the scene!  (slashes at
  the elf's erstwhile opponent, wounding it grievously)
Rob:  (hits the same ghast with his magical flail)  In the name of the
  most holy, Trithereon, I strike!
Peldor:  I move into combat now, pushing past the sickly minion of
  Boccob there.
Ged:  Ugh.  Huh?  What was that?

Halbarad:  (mops the floor with his ghast, slaying the stinking thing)
ghast#2:  (claws Peyote)
Peyote:  (makes his paralyzation save)  Whew.  Close one, dude.
Peldor:  (attacks the ghast from the front, as he can't get in position
  for a good backstab.  The undead monster is killed anyway, though.)
Mongo:  Good job guys.  Anybody got a spare towel?
Halbarad:  We try to help Belphanior back to a useful state.
Peldor:  I search the ledges where the monsters came from.
Ged:  I watch Peldor search.
Peyote:  I watch Ged watching Peldor.
Rob:  I heal the wounded and bind their injuries.
DM:  Peldor finds six good-sized gems and a potion bottle.
Ged:  Good for him.
DM:  Belphanior recovers after a number of minutes.
Belphanior:  Good for me.

  The party went through the single exit, a door in the northern wall.
They found a passage which ended in some stairs going up.  At the top
of the stairs was a broken-down door.

Mongo:  Obviously, someone with my door-opening talents has been here
  already.
DM:  Behind the fragmented door is a room with almost no floor.  Across
  the pit you can see an open doorway.  The floor and walls appear to
  have been gutted by fire.  The hole in what used to be the floor is
  deep, extending down to the level below, which also has a burnt-up
  floor.  About thirty feet down is a cellar floor.  A narrow, charred
  section of floor leads along the left wall, and another, more sturdy
  piece leads along the right wall.  Also, across the middle of the
  room is a long, wide wooden beam, narrow and slightly warped, by the
  look of it.
Peldor:  Obviously, someone with my fire-making talents has been here
  already as well.
Alindyar:  Perhaps that one and the opener of doors are one and the
  same person...
Belphanior:  That would be someone of MY talents.  Total destruction.
  Hmm.  Which path to take?
Ged:  I cast a feather fall on myself and someone else who wishes to
  take the sturdy walkway to the right.
Peyote:  Me!
Ged:  Okay, you too.  I can get about five people with this spell.
Belphanior:  I'll try the center plank and see what happens.
Ged:  Okay, I'll include you in the feather fall as well.  And also
  Mongo, since he'll probably fall no matter which way he goes.
Mongo:  Hey!
Ged:  ...due of course to his tremendous weight.  Also Alindyar.
Belphanior:  (starting across the beam, which is wobbling and making
  a creaking sound)  Uh-oh.
Ged:  (starting off across the right path)
Peyote:  Hey, let me go first.  I am better suited to deal with any
  potential attackers, if any come.  (starts across ledge)
Peldor:  (throws a small rock at the left ledge, which collapses at
  even this minute impact)  Good thing we didn't try THAT way...
Belphanior:  (successfully across)  Hey guys, it's okay!
Halbarad:  (follows in the path of the elf)
Peyote:  (having reached the middle of the right path, all seems to
  be well)  Whoa!  (a loose board shifts, dumping a chunk of the
  wall on the half-elf and knocking him off the ledge)
Ged:  (to DM)  Is the pathway still passable?
DM:  No, it's been obliterated.
Peyote:  (slowly floating down to the cellar floor far below, with
  glowing bastard sword in hand)  Somebody throw me a rope!

  Shortly, all of the characters (except Peyote) were across.  He
searched the rubble below, but could find nothing, and so climbed
back up to join the others.  Belphanior moved the beam, pushing it
into the darkness thirty feet down; the elf figured that it was
already obvious that intruders had been this way and so it wouldn't
hurt to cover their backs.  Only after this did somebody point out
that their only (so far) escape route was now cut off.  Oh well.





next time:  riot in the dungeons

************************************************************************
NOTES:  I'm in a particularly jovial mood right now.  I love writing
these things.  I looked through my mailbox and realized that the fan
count (that is, the total number of people who have given me positive
feedback) for my narratives had exceeded 50 before Christmas!  While
that may not seem like a lot, I am impressed anyway.
  Also one note:  Alindyar, while not evil like most other drow, is
by no means good-aligned.  We never thought of him as fitting into
the typical mold of renegade-drow-turned-hero.  He could be just as
violent as anybody else at times.  Actually, his player seemed to be
trying for the illusionist type of mage.
  And the 8 undead who _were_ turned were ghouls, the 2 who _weren't_
were ghasts.
  And, it is no coincidence that Rob is more competent right now.  He
was being played by another person, as he forgot to show up or some such
nonsense.  This other person eventually replaced Rob, as will be seen.
************************************************************************




previous chapter (#15)                                                                  next chapter (#17)