Chapter #162

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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:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           14th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       6th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       7th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    10/7/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    lunchtime                                        +
+   Place:   the Griff Mountains                              +
+   Climate: cold                                             +
+   "The question is not who wishes to go, but who _will_     +
+    go."                     - from _The Lord of the Rings_  +

                 CLXII.  To the Dragon's Lair

  After slaying a pack of a dozen trolls, the adventurers
are resting and eating lunch.

Belphanior:  (chowing down his delicious iron rations)  Mmm,
  food sure does taste better after a battle!
Ged:  Why are you so hungry all of a sudden?
Mongo:  (looks wistfully at the elf's iron rations)  And to
  think that I could have spiced that crap up for you...
Belphanior:  Don't bother.  Iron rations taste fine just the
  way they are.
Arnold:  (merrily eating his own iron rations)  I adgree.
Gorin:  (eating his standard rations, which of course taste
  slightly better than iron rations)  Munch munch.
Peldor:  Bah.  The mighty Peldor is full.  More, the mighty
  Peldor is bored.
Bosco:  Yea, this party needs some _women_!
Rillen:  (eyes the halfling like one might eye a cockroach)
  Shut up.
wispy thing:  (floating around, upside down, appears bored)

  Shortly, they resumed their travels, heading further into
the rugged mountain range.

Belphanior:  (using his compass)  Not far...the dragon's
  not too far at all, now.
Bosco:  (babbling loudly)  I can't believe we're going off
  to bargain with a dragon.
Arnold:  (pats the halfling on the head)  I agreeb.  There
  are only two things to do with drabgons:  sblay them or
  run away from them.
Ged:  (regards his ex-henchman coldly)  That's enough out
  of you.
Arnold:  (shrugs)
Peldor:  Perhaps _I_ should talk with this dragon.  Then
  he'd recognize me as a fellow god and-
Mongo:  And roast you like a twig.  No, I don't think that
  idea has much merit.
Gorin:  Roast?  (he trembles slightly, as this is the very
  first dragon of his young career)
Rillen:  Rest assured that I will be standing by, should
  bargaining prove futile.
Ged:  You do that.
Belphanior:  Hey, I hate to interrupt your fun, but there
  are more souls ahead.  (he looks around)  A _lot_ of them.
  Coming in from all sides...crap!  (he grabs for one of his

  Suddenly, a hail of tiny darts rained down upon the party.
The miniature missiles were only a few inches long, but they
were falling by the hundreds.

Gorin:  Wha-  (watches in wonder as darts bounce away from
  some invisible barrier, right in front of his face)  How-?
Ged:  (grins)  My belt, of course.
Arnold:  (also within the range of this protection)  Aaa.
Mongo:  (likewise)  Huh.  (he looks around, and hurls his
  hammer at a stone outcropping, shattering it)  Thought I
  saw something...
Rillen:  (outside of the radius of Ged's belt, he snatches
  missiles out of the air)  Hai!  Yah!
Peldor:  (near Ged, he laughs)  The puny attackers!  Their
  foolish spears bounce away from Peldor's godly aura!
Ged:  Quiet, fool.  (he prepares a spell)
Belphanior:  (at the edge of the party, behind Rillen, he
  gets hit by a few of the tiny darts, though dozens more
  bounce off of his cloak and his Stoneskin)  Ah, I love
  my Stoneskin...
various horses:  (not so lucky, they get hit by numerous
  darts)  Neigh!
Rillen:  (makes a mental note to buy barding for his mount
  at the next city)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Rillen:  (catches two more darts)  What the hell's going on?
Bosco:  (hit by numerous darts, he staggers)  Aaa!
Peldor:  (quickly grabs his henchman by the collar and pulls
  him close to Ged and his field of protection)  Stick with
  Peldor, and you'll be okay.
wispy thing:  spff.  (darts around, as darts pass through it
Mongo:  (spots something in the rocks above, and hurls his
  hammer again)  Hah!  Got him!

  The weapon struck a large boulder, shattering it, and four
small bodies fell to the ground, crushed and lifeless.  The
dead things were some kind of tiny humanoids, barely a foot
tall, with skinny little limbs and oversized heads.  Their
skin was greyish-brown and extremely wrinkled.

Mongo:  Cripes!  They're smaller than Bosco!
Rillen:  That's not saying much...
Belphanior:  Nice shot, though.
Ged:  Bah.  If you think that was something, watch this!
  (releases his spell, and a huge cloud of greenish-yellow
  vapors appears among the rocks above)  For Boccob!
Gorin:  Look!

  First one, then another, then three more tiny bodies fell
from above, landing on the ground nearby with sickening,
albeit puny, "thumps".  Then, another body fell, and three
more, then two.  The minute foes fell silently, suggesting
that they had died instantly upon encountering Ged's cloud.
Four more fell, landing near the party.

Belphanior:  Wow.  They're dropping like flies!
Rillen:  (bats aside a falling body with his staff)  Hmm.
Mongo:  Hah!  (hurls his hammer into other rocks above,
  since it can't hurt and he knows that the weapon will
  return to his hand)  Maybe I'll hit some more!
Arnold:  Maybde.
Mongo:  (a small rock, dislodged by the boulder his hammer
  just smashed, bounces off of his helm)  Ow!

  A dozen more tiny corpses fell from above, and then all
was silent.

Belphanior:  Hmm, no souls.  If any of the little bastards
  lived, they're long gone.
Ged:  (uses a minor healing spell on Bosco)  Good riddance,
  I say.
Mongo:  If they show up again...why, I'll smash 'em!
Rillen:  (examining one of the tiny bodies)  These things
  look like orcs, but smaller.  They're fairly scrawny and
Peldor:  (pulling tiny darts out of Bosco)
Bosco:  Ow!  Ouch!  Aie!
Peldor:  Quit whining and hold still.
Arnold:  (piling up the bodies)
Belphanior:  Hey, save your energy.
Arnold:  Why?
Belphanior:  We want this scene of mass slaughter to remain
  here undisturbed, as a lesson to others.
Arnold:  Aaa.  Oh.  O-kay!  (he drops a skinny corpse and
  proceeds to scout the area)
Ged:  (using healing magic upon those horses which were
  wounded, as Peldor rings his magical healing bell)
Peldor:  <ding ding>
Rillen:  Shouldn't that be "ding dong"?
wispy thing:  (flies into one of the dead humanoids' gaping
Gorin:  (blinks)  Huh?

  After all injured parties were healed, the adventurers
moved on, guiding their mounts up the mountain trail.  A
mere hour later, a single tiny form came into view ahead.

Belphanior:  Soul ho-  oh, never mind.  There he is.  (he
  produces a wand)  This time I'm ready.
tiny one:  (one of the same creatures that attacked before)
  Riders, there they are, yes...
Mongo:  (raises his hammer)
tiny one:  No!  Peace!  I comes in peace!
Belphanior:  (prepares to nail the little guy with his wand
  of lightning)  And you'll go in pieces...
Rillen:  Hold.  Perhaps the little one has something useful
  to say.
tiny one:  Yes, oh yes me does!
Ged:  Well, spit it out, imp.  We haven't got all day, you
Bosco:  (to Peldor)  I bet I could beat him in arm-wrestling.
Peldor:  Yeah, I'd probably put money on you.
Bosco:  Probably?!?
wispy thing:  (flits about, above the tiny one)  sss.
tiny one:  Me brings an important message, yes!
Belphanior:  What message?
tiny one:  Turns you back, or we attacks again, we will.
Rillen:  That's no's a death wish.
tiny one:  (cringes)
Ged:  Bah!  Out of the way, pipsqueak, we've a dragon to
  find.  Attack us again and I'll personally-
tiny one:  (its eyes widen)  Dids you say DRAGON?!?  Oh, I
  think you did, yes, a dragon...
Mongo:  What the hell's he talking about?
Rillen:  You know where the dragon is, eh?  Tell us.  Now.
Belphanior:  Yeah, tell us now or die!
tiny one:  (chattering excitedly to itself)  They looks for
  dragons, yes they does, oh, we wonders why.
Ged:  We must parley with the dragon, you dolt.
tiny one:  Parley, barley, they wants to talks to dragons,
  oh, whats will they think of next?
Peldor:  This grows old.  (he becomes invisible)
Peldor's horse:  Neigh!
Ged:  Indeed, by Boccob.  (he prepares to cast a spell)
tiny one:  No, don't blasts me, I shows you the dragons...
Mongo:  You will?
Rillen:  No more foolery, small one.
tiny one:  No mores, no mores, no-  eyagh!  (it begins to
  dance and cavort around)
Peldor:  (materializes next to the tiny thing, holding its
  scrawny neck in one hand, and quickly ties it up)
tiny one:  Eyagh!  Lets me go!
Peldor:  (knots the rope off around the thing's neck)  Now
  you take us to the dragon, shrimp, or I'm going to hang
  you from a tree.
tiny one:  Me takes, me takes!  (he scampers away, but the
  rope stops him after ten feet)  Ghaaak!
Belphanior:  Heh heh.
Peldor:  (hands the rope to Belphanior, and gets back on
  his horse)  You've got him now - make sure he leads us
  the right way.
Belphanior:  (jerks the rope cruelly)  March on, pipsqueak.
tiny one:  (prances about)  Me take!
Ged:  Damn right, by Boccob.

  The small humanoid led them further up the pass, and then
took a detour of sorts, quickly entering a narrow cavern.
It became necessary to dismount, and the horses had to be
left behind.

Ged:  This had better not be a trap, you varmint.
tiny one:  No traps, no, not a trap!
Mongo:  We'd better leave someone with the horses.
Rillen:  More than just one someone.
Ged:  Hmm, someone with spells, in case more of these little
  buggers show up.  Since _I_ must parley with the dragon...
  (he looks at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  Okay, okay, I'll stay.
Gorin:  I don't want to stay, I want to go!
Bosco:  I'd stay...
Arnold:  Ah-nold is ready, sday or go.
wispy thing:  (darts around near the cavern entrance)

  It was decided that Belphanior, Bosco, Arnold, and Rillen
would stay with the horses, while Ged, Mongo, Gorin, and
Peldor would follow the tiny humanoid.

Belphanior:  (hands the rope to Mongo)  Take good care of
Mongo:  Bet on it.  (he kicks the tiny one)  Let's go, you
Gorin:  Yeah, let's get going.  (he brings up the rear of
  the four-person party as they enter the dark tunnel)
Ged:  (about to cast Light upon a stick)
Peldor:  Hey, we don't need that.  (he produces his strange
  green torch, which flares up brightly)  See, Peldor's got
  all the bases covered.  As usual.
Ged:  Bah.  (tosses the stick away)
Mongo:  (to the tiny humanoid)  Lead on, you.
Peldor:  (puts away his torch)
Ged:  What are you doing now?
Peldor:  I need to scout ahead.  (he becomes invisible and
  sneaks away)
Ged:  But you can't see in the dark-  oh, to hell with him.
  The _rest_ of us have infravision.

  A few minutes later, Peldor reappeared next to the others

Peldor:  Boo!
Ged:  Yie!
Mongo:  Yie!
Gorin:  Yie!
tiny one:  Yie!
Peldor:  Sorry...hey, the tunnel opens into a big cavern a
  little ways up.  There's a sleeping dragon within.
Mongo:  Whoa.
Ged:  Excellent.  A red one, I presume?
Peldor:  Yup.  Say, what did you bring to bargain with?
Ged:  Uh...all kinds of stuff.  (to Mongo)  You've still
  got the loot, right?
Mongo:  Yeah.  It's in the portable hole.
Peldor:  Well, I'd suggest that we be extremely careful.
Ged:  Damn straight.  (he begins spellcasting)
Mongo:  What are you up to?
Peldor:  Maybe one of those spells to protect against fire?
Lightbringer:  Uh-oh.
Ged:  Better.  (he snaps his fingers)  There.
Lightbringer:  (silenced)
Gorin:  Huh?
Mongo:  I don't see anything.
Ged:  It's an anti-magic shell; no spells or breath weapons
  will work inside it.
Mongo:  (suddenly feels weaker)  No items, either?!?  (he
  starts to get mad)
Ged:  Calm down.  It's only effective in a radius about
  fifteen feet out from me.  If we need to fight, you can
  move away and fight...though the best option at that point
  would probably be to turn and run...
Gorin:  (wondering why anyone besides Ged came along)
tiny one:  (scratching at his rope)  This ways, yes...(he
  scampers down the passage)
Mongo:  (holding the rope)  Whoa, there.
tiny one:  (stops abruptly)  Ghaak!

  They continued along, at a more cautious pace, and within
five minutes had emerged into a vast cavern.  Ahead, a huge
dragon rested on its haunches, glaring at the party.

Peldor:  Damn, he's awake.  I knew you guys were making too
  much noise...
Ged:  Quiet, fool.  (to the dragon)  You must be Cinder.
red dragon:  (squints)  CYNDER...HMM, DO I KNOW YOU PEOPLE?
Mongo:  (to Ged) know, this looks an _awful_ lot
  like that dragon we fought in that dungeon, a long time
Ged:  You mean the one Belphanior accidentally wished away? Boccob!  It IS him!
Cynder:  BY THE GODS!  IT _IS_ YOU!!!
tiny one:  (jumps up and down, clapping for joy)  Looks at
  me, master, I brought you the foods...
Gorin:  (whispering to Ged)  Are you sure about this anti-
  magic spell, or whatever it is?
Ged:  Of course.

next time :  negotiations

ftp site  : in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  Ah, so many ways this encounter could go...

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