Chapter #175

previous chapter (#174)                                                                  next chapter (#176)

                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      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) +
+   Lyra          12th level female dark elven mage       (N) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    10/25/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                     +
+   Time:    inconsequential                                  +
+   Place:   a passage in the Underdark, below the earth      +
+   Climate: slightly chilly                                  +
+   "Fascinating...from a distance."                          +
+                               - from _The Black Hole_       +

              CLXXV.  Rescue From the Depths!

  Deep within the depths of the earth, through a dark, rocky
corridor of immense size, a band of seven adventurers trekked
toward an as-yet unseen destination.  These people carried
surprisingly little in the way of baggage or supplies, but
most of them were heavily armed and armored.

Lyra:  A good thing, too.  There is simply no other way to
  travel the Underdark.
Ged:  So you've said.  Well, at least we're close now.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  I can smell it.
Mongo:  Where the hell are we going, again?
Lyra:  The city is called Erelhei-Cinlu.  That name means
  "black heart of the earth", taken in a literal sense.
Rillen:  (wearing heavy, highly visible chains around his
  wrists; he is also weaponless, and wears no armor)  Well,
  that's reassuring.
Arnold:  (holding a staff with a Continual Light cast upon
  one tip, he is also manacled, armorless, and weaponless)
  I still don't undersdand why Gorbin and Bodsco didn't come
  with us.
Mongo:  'Cause they're little, and you're big.
Arnold:  Aaa?
Peldor:  This mission is too dangerous to risk the lives of
  such henchmen.  There comes a point when even a Peldor has
  to walk alone.
Rillen:  Indeed.  (he has no idea what the thief is babbling
Mongo:  I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't care
  to lose another henchman just because we took him on some
  quest that was too dangerous.
Belphanior:  Well, I, for one, am looking forward to this.
Ged:  Invading a drow city?  We should have left you like you
  were before.
Rillen:  Indeed.  Female, and nice...
Ged:  We didn't know how good we had it.
Belphanior:  Ah, I would have come around sooner or later.
wispy thing:  (following along, floating behind Belphanior)
Arnold:  (gazing at the cavernous tunnel as they march)
Rillen:  I'm glad that we decided to weaken these manacles,
  in case of attack.  I'd hate to be unable to fight, should
  dire circumstances arise.
Arnold:  Yah.
Ged:  Well, we have to maintain the appearance of slavers and
  slaves.  (he throws back his hood, revealing his freshly-
  dyed black hair)
Lyra:  Indeed, it's the only way to get in without arousing
Belphanior:  Yeah, Ged, your golden hair wouldn't have made a
  good impression with the dark elves...
Ged:  Nope.  They hate grey elves more than all others.
Mongo:  (shaking his head)  I don't friggin' believe it!  A
  dark elf city, and we're headed right for it!
Rillen:  We have to rescue Alindyar.  We owe him that much.
Lyra:  You certainly do.
Peldor:  Hey, cut the crap.  We're here, aren't we?
Lyra:  I'm...sorry.  It's just that...I'm rather stressed
  right at the moment.
Arnold:  (cheerfully)  It's okay.  We'll get Albindyar back
  safe and sound.
Ged:  Yea, by Boccob!
Rillen:  (to Lyra)  Tell us again what happened.  We might
  need to change our plan, and complete knowledge of the
  situation will benefit us greatly.
Lyra:  Well, we were hurled across time and space when the
  staff exploded.  We wandered...other planes for a time, but
  eventually made our way back to this one.  We had planned
  to seek you out, but there was only one problem...
Ged:  You arrived in the Underdark.
Lyra:  Lolth only knows why, but for some reason we ended up
  in this hated place.  Within the city of Erelhei-Cinlu, to
  be exact.
Arnold:  Aaa.  Erbelhaa-Simblu.
Lyra:  Needless to say, we weren't welcome there, being drow
  from other cities and houses altogether.
Rillen:  One would think that they could have at least been
Mongo:  Nah.  It doesn't work that way.
Lyra:  Indeed not.  In their accursed society, another house
  alone is a mortal enemy.  Another _city_...(she shudders)
  Death would be a mercy.  It wasn't long before we were
  embroiled in a great battle, against scores of drow.
Ged:  Bad odds.
Lyra:  Indeed they were.  Few, if any, of them were of our
  caliber in skill, but the sheer numbers...ah, we fought the
  good fight, but we never stood a chance.
Mongo:  Well, it's not like you had much of a choice.
Lyra:  True.  Anyhow, as I've said, we were attempting to
  escape, but Alindyar was struck down (she snaps her fingers
  loudly) just like that!  I barely managed to teleport away
  with my life.
Belphanior:  But-
Lyra:  But, as I knew, teleportation doesn't work well at all
  in this dark domain.  I merely moved a short distance away,
  in a random direction, and then had to flee on foot, for
  they would soon be after me.  (she shudders)  It was nothing
  short of miraculous, my escaping to the above world without
  being captured.
Rillen:  Indeed.
Arnold:  So that's why we couldn't telebort to where we're
  going?  It wouldn't work?
Lyra:  Right.
Ged:  Fortunately, I could take us fairly close, in the world
  above, based on her description of the terrain.
Lyra:  A good thing, too.  I - we - are Alindyar's only hope.
Peldor:  What makes you think he's still alive?
Lyra:  He's much too powerful for them to waste.  They'll use
  foul sorcery to learn his could take weeks.
  His will is strong.
Mongo:  But when they get what they want...?
Lyra:  (shrugs sadly)  Death, perhaps.  Or else zombification
  most vile.  (her head droops)
Arnold:  Aaa, don't be sad.  We'll get him back - and anyone
  in the way will ansber to Ah-nold!  (he starts to raise his
  sword, then realizes that he isn't carrying it)  Aaa.
Ged:  And Boccob.  They will answer to Boccob also.
Peldor:  Who could forget Boccob?
Belphanior:  At least we have a plan.  Even _I_ would hate to
  go into this place without a plan.
Ged:  Truly.
Belphanior:  Besides, a good plan sets the stage for maximum
Ged:  Yea, I suppose so.
Peldor:  Hey, didn't you tell us something about having to be
  near that cat of yours, or else it would die?
Ged:  Indeed...but I have a little over two weeks before that
  happens.  By that time, either we'll be back, or we'll be which case it won't matter anyway.
Arnold:  Aaa.
Mongo:  Yup, I'm glad I didn't bring Gorin along.
Peldor:  Or Bosco.
Arnold:  Or the cat.
Ged:  Yea, or the cat.

  They continued their march, and despite the variety of
subterranean traffic - small drow raiding parties, organized
groups of spiders, evil dwarves - the adventurers marched
unchallenged.  Perhaps they appeared powerful, or dangerous,
or both...

Ged:  A good thing I had the foresight to cast Unknowable
  Alignment upon all of us.
Rillen:  Aye.
Belphanior:  Except me.
Ged:  Yea, except you.
Lyra:  If anyone learned of your tendencies toward Good, we
  would be in trouble.
Ged:  Just remember that the spell is only good for another
  twelve hours or so.  We have that much time to find and
  free Alindyar.
Mongo:  That'll be enough...even if we have to tear down the
  whole damn city!
Lyra:  You would tear down...that?  (she points ahead)

  As they rounded a turn in the great passage, a cavern of
unearthly size opened ahead.  The place must have been miles
wide, and a vast rock ceiling stretched for thousands of feet
overhead.  Much of the gigantic cavern's walls and ceiling
was covered with glowing moss, which illuminated the entire
place with a pale blue glow.
  Within this cavern, which was the largest that any of the
adventurers (save perhaps Lyra) had ever seen, was a grand
city.  From their perspective, on the ledge which was a good
bit higher than the city's floor, they had a grand view of
the numerous castles and lesser buildings that made up the
huge drow city.  Many of these dwellings were carved directly
from gigantic stalagmites, and seemingly tiny figures bustled
to and fro, below.  On the opposite end of the cavern, far
away from where the adventurers now stood, a similar ledge
looked over the city from that side.  Each of the two ledges
had a wide set of stairs going down to the city, and a bit
further down, these steps were patrolled by bands of drow
guards, warriors, magi, priests, and perhaps worse.
  While the two entrances to the vast city stood to the east
and west (the latter being the party's current location), a
large subterranean lake lay to the north.  On its shores
labored slaves, presumably fishing, and small boats ranged
about the surface.  Immediately south of this body of water
were several spacious fields, upon which grazed some kind of
cattle.  These animals were also tended by slaves, who were
scattered throughout the fields like ants on a grassy plain.
  Needless to say, the whole place was quite impressive.

Lyra:  Behold, Erelhei-Cinlu!
Mongo:  Wow.  More impressive than even the legends said.
Rillen:  Legends?  What legends?
Belphanior:  Cripes!
Ged:  What now?
Belphanior:  The whole damn place is highly magical.  I mean
  _everything_ - the buildings, the walls, the people - all
Lyra:  Naturally.
Arnold:  Aaa.
Peldor:  Magic is but the plaything of one such as Peldor.
Ged:  Bah.  This is no time for your prattle, fool.
Belphanior:  (still looking at the subterranean city)
wispy thing:  (perched on Belphanior's shoulder)  pff?
Belphanior:  Yeah, me too.
Arnold:  Too bad we don't have our weabons and armor.
Rillen:  Not a problem, for me.
Belphanior:  Yeah, but at least you still have your bracers
Rillen:  And all other items...just no staff.
Arnold:  I have no sword and no armor...
Mongo:  Yep.  Putting them in my portable hole was the only
  way to fully disguise you two.  I hate to do it this way,
Ged:  At least those robes we got for you two will conceal
  your smaller magical items.
Arnold:  (flexes his shoulders, shifting the thick, monkish
  robe he, like Rillen, is wearing)  Yah.  I am in disbise.
Lyra:  Me too.  (she considers her hair, which is a full foot
  shorter than it was yesterday)
Peldor:  (disguises himself as a drow, using his magical hat)

  After double-checking their equipment and gathering their
courage (except for Peldor, who seemed fairly confident, and
Belphanior, who seemed fairly careless) they began the trek
down the wide stairway.  Before they had gone halfway, they
were accosted by a trio of well-armed drow.

drow#1:  Halt!
drow#2:  Who art thou?  (he begins casting a spell)
Ged:  (uses his spellcraft ability to discern that the spell
  is one of divination, and mutters accordingly)  Just as I
drow#3:  State thy business.
Mongo:  We're slavers from the regions above!
Lyra:  Aye.  (she gestures to the chained Rillen and Arnold)
  A...poor crop, this time.
drow#1:  But, aside from yourself and that other (he points
  to Peldor) your band includes a dwarf - and two _elves_!
Belphanior:  (steps forward, and his eye glows brightly as
  he stares the drow down)  You would do well to remember
  that all elves are not alike...(his wispy thing sits upon
  one shoulder)
wispy thing:  (glaring at the drow)  sss!
drow#2:  (finishes his Know Alignment spell, and sees that
  the entire party is shielded from such magic, except for
  Belphanior, who is undeniably non-Good)  Ah.  Powerful
  slavers, you are.
Mongo:  You're fucking right about that!  (he raises his
  hammer)  I've crushed many who stood in my way!  Men,
  women, children!  Dwarves, elves, orcs, even a halfling
  once...don't you dare call me "Good"...
Peldor:  Really, in the interest of our business, we would
  certainly appreciate it if you'd direct us to the nearest
  marketplace.  These slaves are starting to stink.
Lyra:  (shakes her white hair)  Aye.  We would be quite
  interested in selling these fools (she gestures at the
  two manacled warriors with disgust) on your slave block.
  Or perhaps a trade...
drow#3:  Hmm.  (having already cast Detect Magic, he sees
  that the party is extremely powerful)  Perhaps you may
  pass into Erelhei-Cinlu after all.
Belphanior:  That would be most excellent.
drow#1:  Surely you will gladly give up your weapons and
  armor first, though?
Ged:  (becomes worried, and begins thinking of which mode
  of attack would be best at this point)
Lyra:  (she throws back her head and laughs loudly)  Hah!
  A good jest, that!  (to the others)  Come, let us see
  what this place has to offer.

  They all walked down the stairs, leaving the trio of drow

Ged:  (whispering)  But I thought they wanted our weapons
Lyra:  Bah.  They always try that in these places - but only
  a fool gives in to those demands.  To enter this place
  unarmed would ensure quick enslavement; their query was a
  joke, almost.  One can't blame them for trying, though...
Mongo:  Oh.
Peldor:  Well, looks like we're in.
Belphanior:  Yup.  (he looks around carefully as they near
  the city's edge)
Lyra:  Remember, we passed the guards, so the others will
  know we're not to be trifled with.
Arnold:  (tries his best to appear slavelike)  Yah.
Rillen:  (itching for some action)

  They entered the city, with Lyra doing most of the talking
on the party's behalf.  Peldor and Belphanior then began
conversing in thieves' cant, as planned; they were noting
the positions of guards, sentry towers, weak points in the
city's walls, and the like.  The city streets were similar
to above-ground city streets, except that all the people
here were drow.  The majority of them stared at the party
with obvious curiosity; the adventurers stared back and
muttered vague greetings, except for the "slaves", who
made no eye contact at all.

Arnold:  (muttering to himself)  Aaa.  I'm acding.  Who
  would have believed it?
Ged:  (kicks the warrior)  Quiet, slave!

  Shortly, Lyra led them into a well-appointed building of
black and silver stone.

Peldor:  Looks like a magic shop or something...
Lyra:  This is an inn.
Ged:  Well, that's good.
Lyra:  Not just any inn,'s the closest one to
  the area where you-know-who is most likely being held.
drow innkeeper:  Greetings, noble travelers!  (he spots the
  party's obvious tokens of power and wealth)  A room, or
  a meal, perhaps?
Lyra:  Enough of your prattle!  We are weary and need rooms
  for the night!
Mongo:  Night?
drow innkeeper:  (looks scared of Lyra)  H-how many rooms?
Lyra:  (regards the party)  Two rooms, one with three beds,
  another with a single bed.  (she grabs the drow-disguised
  Peldor by the collar)  Because I'm not _that_ tired.
Peldor:  (starts getting kinky ideas)
drow innkeeper:  (shudders, as he knows that many male drow
  suffer or even die at the hands of cruel drow females of
  power, like Lyra)  What of your slaves?
Lyra:  Them?  They shall sleep on the floor, I suppose.
  (she turns to Belphanior, Ged, and Mongo)  In _your_ room.
drow innkeeper:  Very well.  (his hands trembling, he hands
  Lyra two keys)  Up the stairs to the left, exalted one.
Lyra:  (to Mongo)  Pay him, boy.
Mongo:  Uh...(he tries to look scared)
drow innkeeper:  Five.
Mongo:  Right.  (he tosses the innkeeper five coins of gold)
drow innkeeper:  Err...begging your pardon, but that's five
Lyra:  (muttering loudly, so that all the other patrons in
  the place can hear)  Stupid dwarves...
Mongo:  Oh.  (he finds five platinum coins and hands them to
  the innkeeper)  So sorry.

  They quickly retreated to their rooms, and all gathered
in the larger room.

Ged:  Whew.
Mongo:  (to Lyra)  You're pretty mean when you want to be.
Lyra:  I'm expected to play the part of the bitch here, you
Belphanior:  A dominatrix...I like it.
Peldor:  (slips an arm around Lyra)  Me too.
Lyra:  (slaps the thief)  Don't get any funny ideas, you.
  It was just an act.
Peldor:  (looks shocked)  But where will I sleep?
Lyra:  Try the floor.
Arnold:  So, whad's next?
Rillen:  Yes, we only have a short time before that magic
Lyra:  Hell, we have less time than that, perhaps.  Those
  three guards we talked with should be making a report by
  now.  It's not often that personages of power, such as
  ourselves, enter Erelhei-Cinlu.  Our presence will _not_
  go unnoticed.
Ged:  So they'll attack us?
Lyra:  Doubtful.  But we will be watched from now on, and
  we had best be very careful.
Belphanior:  Cool.  (he gets his magical compass out)  We
  need to locate whatshisname.
Mongo:  Yeah.  This acting thing is getting boring.  Show
  me enemies to smash!
Ged:  Patience.
Lyra:  In this place, lack of patience can be lethal.
Belphanior:  Really.  (he speaks to his compass, and its
  needle swivels around)  Aha!  That way!  And he's close,
  too...less than a half-league from here.
Lyra:  Just as I suspected...they have him in the citadel
  of Zauviir.
Mongo:  What's that mean?
Lyra:  It's the most powerful Noble House in Erelhei-Cinlu.
  All of the others fear its might...
Ged:  But here we are, planning to go right into it.  I've
  gone insane, as Boccob is my witness.
Belphanior:  Nah.  You've been insane for a while now.
Rillen:  (muttering)  The pot calls the kettle black...
Peldor: are we going to do it?
Lyra:  How indeed?

  As they formulated their plans, the city's archmage used
magic to "light" a gigantic pillar of silver-laced stone.
For now, the pillar was covered in black light, marking the
beginning of the drow resting-time.

Peldor:  (looking out the window)  Huh?
Lyra:  You would call it "night"...
Ged:  But it's black light...darkness!
Lyra:  As the night passes, the darklight will recede down
  the pillar.  When it is gone entirely, daytime will have
  come, and a violet light will be put there instead, to mark
  the passage of the day.  For now, though, it is nighttime.
Belphanior:  Well, that's good.  All the best attacks come
  at night.
Mongo:  Bah.  An attack is an attack.
Rillen:  Patience.  We must think this through.
Arnold:  Yah.
Ged:  (thinking)  So this house of...Zauviir will be heavily
  guarded...hmm, what we need is a distraction.
Belphanior:  What did you have in mind?

  A while later, an odd (to surface-dweller eyes) procession
marched toward the house of Zauviir.  A pair of huge human
warriors carried a wooden chair, of the fashion favored by
drow of high station.  In the chair sat a veiled female drow,
busy giving directions to her two slaves.  Beside the chair
walked a male drow and a male surface elf; obviously these
were companions of some kind.  This motley crew made its way
to the gates of the house of Zauviir, where guards commanded
them to halt.

drow guard#1:  Ho, there!  What is your business, which now
  transpires after the night-pillar has been lit?
Lyra:  We must speak with your matron mother.  'Tis a matter
  of great concern!
drow guard#2:  The Mother is...otherwise occupied.  Surely
  you can come back tomorrow.
Lyra:  Not so.  We are slavers and bounty hunters, and there
  is one whom we seek, who lies imprisoned within.
drow guard#3:  Is that so?
Ged:  We have brought much magic to barter with.
Peldor-drow:  And treasure...
drow guard#4:  Still, our orders are most explicit.
Lyra:  Really?  Think what might happen if your mistress is
  deprived of the chance to witness the wondrous items we
  have to trade...if I were her, I would be rather upset.
drow guard#1:  Aie.
drow guard#2:  (to his companions)  Perhaps we should confer
  with one of the High Priestesses, at the least...
drow guard#3:  Truly.
drow guard#4:  (the lowest-ranking of the four, he goes to
  find a high-ranking female)
Ged:  Well?
drow guard#1:  Be patient.  We will see if someone wants to
  come and speak with you about this.

  Shortly, an important-looking drow female strode out from
the mansion.  She was accompanied by a pair of female drow
warriors, one on either side.

drow priestess:  (she regards Lyra suspiciously, as if she
  were automatically a rival)  I am Talice, a priestess and
  daughter of the blessed Matron Mother.  What exactly do
  you want here?
Lyra:  We seek a renegade male dark elf, and understood
  that he was captured in this city, specifically by this
  house.  He is wanted back in a faraway city, for crimes
  against a noble house there.
Talice:  (smiling)  Of course.  And what, may I ask, is
  the city in question?
Lyra:  Undraeth.
Talice:  You are from there?
Lyra:  Once...long ago.  Now I simply hunt fugitives, with
  my companions.  (she gestures to Ged and Peldor)
Ged:  (nods)
Talice:  Undraeth, eh?  Tell me, then, of the Drider War
  that took place there, in days past.
Ged:  (becomes worried)
Lyra:  (without hesitation)  Two centuries ago, the houses
  of Freth and Noquar went to war over an assassination.
  The war was called the Drider War due to the fact that
  almost all of the city's driders were caught up in the
  conflict, and perished.  Why, it took years to replenish
  the slave population.
Talice:  Ah, I see that you _are_ from Undraeth.
Lyra:  As I said.
Peldor-drow:  We have-
Lyra:  Quiet, dolt!  (she slaps Peldor)  We are conversing
  here - are you deaf?
Peldor-drow:  (balls his fists, but keeps silent)
Talice:  It's difficult to keep them well-disciplined, isn't
Lyra:  Truly.  I may have to execute him before too long.
Talice:  (pondering)  Of the one you seek...what exactly do
  you have to offer in trade?
Lyra:  So you have him?
Talice:  I didn't say that.
Lyra:  We bring great magic (she gestures to Ged and Peldor,
  who then display backpacks laden with unusual magic items)
Talice:  I see.
Lyra:  Also...(she snaps her fingers, and Peldor pulls out
  one of the huge gems that the party won from the tomb of
  the demi-lich, the emerald worth 50,000 gp)
Peldor:  (his eyes light up as he gazes at the huge gem he
  holds up)
Talice:  Ah...perhaps we _can_ barter.  Follow me.

  The priestess led them into the house, though they were
quickly joined by a dozen more drow, of varying professions.
Lyra's chair was left at the door, though her "slaves" came
with her, ostensibly to carry Alindyar, provided the party
made a deal.

Rillen:  (robed and shackled, he has Belphanior's magical
  compass; the item is sewn into his sleeve, and he uses it
  discreetly as the party walks along)
Arnold:  (remains quiet)
Peldor:  (follows Lyra, meekly)
Ged:  (looks around, acting curious but really getting his
  bearings and committing them to memory)
Lyra:  (likewise)  A fabulous house you have here...
Talice:  We like to think so.  (she leads them into a large
Arnold:  (realizes that great battles always happen in large
  halls)  Aaa.
Rillen:  (sees that the compass pointed toward a stairwell
  they just passed before entering the hall, but he can't
  say anything to Lyra)  ...
Lyra:  Where are you taking us?
Talice:  The prisoner can wait for a time - it is the Mother
  you must persuade, not me.

  They entered the hall, and saw that it was a cast and
fiendish place.  A huge feasting-table occupied the center
of the chamber; it could seat perhaps two dozen diners.
Pillars abounded, and many of them were lit with magical,
dim light; the drow did not favor conventional torches.  A
massive iron cooking pot rested on a short dais at the foot
of the table, a small firepit blazing beneath it.  The hot,
bubbling broth within smelled pretty good, actually.
  Seated at the head of the table was an ancient female
drow - the Matron Mother of the House of Zauviir.  Several
high priestesses flanked her, as well as a pair of female
magi.  Besides these drow, four male warriors stood far to
the sides, obviously guards.  In the recesses of the hall,
strange spidery forms skittered about; some of these were
huge half-drow, half-spider freaks - driders!

Matron Mother:  (doesn't bother to stand up, but instead
  begins croaking)  These are the visitors to our fair city,
Talice:  Aye, Mother.  They seek to barter for the prisoner.
Matron Mother:  Eh?
Talice:  The one who has been providing you with so much
  amusement of late.
Matron Mother:  Oh, him.  (she finally stands, slowly)
other drow:  (all bow deeply, the males getting on their
Peldor:  (being prudent, he kneels too)
Lyra:  (muttering)  Good boy...
Arnold:  (looking warily at the bubbling soup in the pot,
  he sees a floating head surface, and recoils in disgust)
Matron Mother:  I am Ilivarra Dalael, Matron Mother of the
  house of Zauviir.
Lyra:  We are most honored, Great Mother.
Ilivarra:  So you want our prisoner, eh?  (she squints at
  Lyra)  Eh?
Lyra:  (getting concerned)  Pardon?
Ilivarra:  You look rather familiar...don't I know you?
Lyra:  No...
Ilivarra:  I'm sure I do...(she casts a divination spell)
Lyra:  (getting worried)  No...I never...
Talice:  What is the meaning of-
Ilivarra:  Aie!  By Lolth's fangs!  It is YOU!
Lyra:  (meekly)  Me?
Ilivarra:  They are enemies!  Spies!  Kill them!
Ged:  Well, we got farther than I thought we would...(he
  draws forth his Sueloise fire wand and points it in the
  general direction of the end of the table)
drow escorts:  (the guards who accompanied the party, they
  charge Ged)
Rillen:  (he and Arnold rise to block the guards)
drow escorts:  Whoa.
Ged:  Ndrek!  (a huge wall of flame sprouts forth in front
  of his wand, and quickly rolls toward all the drow at the
  head of the table)  Hah!
drow:  (recoil, not as much from the hot flames as from the
  intense light; curtains and trappings burst into flames)
Ilivarra:  (cursing)
Arnold:  (grabs the iron pot by one handle and heaves)  Aaa!
  (he overturns the thing, sending boiling stew cascading
  down the dais toward those drow guards charging him)  I
  always wanted to do that...
drow:  (burned severely by the broth, they scream in pain)
Arnold:  (along with Rillen, he tears the fake chains off of
  his wrists)  Yah!
Rillen:  (ducks the sword-blow of the first drow, and kicks
  the fellow in the head, then leaps around and punches a
  second guard)  Good thing Ged hasted us...
Arnold:  (grabbing up a fallen sword)  Yah.  (he charges
  three drow warriors, despite having no armor on)  Ah-nold!
Peldor:  (invisible, he backstabs a warrior)
drow warrior:  (dies)  Urk.
Peldor:  (becomes a visible drow)  Nice to see that the old
  Peldor touch still works...
Lyra:  Quickly, we must find Alindyar!  We don't have much
  time before they all recover!  (she casts a Wall of Ice
  between Arnold and the drow fighting him)
Arnold:  Aaa?
Rillen:  (tosses a drow warrior into two others and rushes
  to Lyra's side)  I know which direction he's in!  Let's
  go!  (he leads the other four out of the hall and down
  the stairs)
various drow:  (mostly high-powered females whose magic
  resistance protected them from the fiery wall, they look
  around, ignoring the flaming curtains around the hall)
Ilivarra:  Chase them down!  Find them!  Kill them!
Talice:  Aye, mother!  (she leads the younger drow after
  the adventurers)
Ilivarra:  (limps along behind them)

  Meanwhile, outside the house, Belphanior and Mongo were
lying in wait in an alley, amidst some rubble.  About ten
minutes after the others had been admitted into the place,
a loud commotion was raised.

Mongo:  There they go!
Belphanior:  Hmm...they got farther than I would have
  thought.  (due to previously cast Fly spells, both he
  and the dwarf sail into the air)  I also cast Stoneskin
  and Haste on myself.
Mongo:  Well, that's good.  (they fly over the house until
  they spot fire in some windows)  Look!
Belphanior:  Yeah, I see.  (he pulls a foot-tall figure out
  of his pack)  Okay, Angus, it's time.  (he begins casting
mini-Angus:  (looking around)
wispy thing:  (hovering over Belphanior)  pfffft.
Mongo:  Hey!  (hurls his hammer at a drow below who appears
  to be casting a spell)
drow:  (knocked back and over a wall, he falls)  Aaaaaaa...
Mongo:  Hah!  That got him!
Belphanior:  (finishes his spell, and casts it on Angus as
  he lets go of the reduced golem)  Remember your orders, big
Angus:  (plummets from the sky like a rock, now fully-sized)

  The iron golem, now at its full height, smashed through the
mansion's roof as if it was an eggshell.  This broke its fall
somewhat, and it landed on the hall's stone floor with enough
force to crack the thick stone and knock over all the chairs.
Belphanior and Mongo flew after the golem, entering the hall
through the large hole in its roof.

Belphanior:  (looking around at the charred hall, burning
  draperies, and overturned cooking pot)  Hey, the party's
Mongo:  (flying shakily, as he's not used to it)  Nah, maybe
  it just moved on.  Look.  (he points to the opened double
  doors leading out of the hall)
wispy thing:  (sails through the doors and out of sight)
Belphanior:  Angus!
Angus:  (looks up silently)
Belphanior:  Follow the wispy thing!
Angus:  (gets to its feet and lumbers after the wispy thing)
Belphanior:  C'mon.  (he and Mongo fly after the golem)

  The wispy thing was floating near a stairway, which wound
downward and out of sight.  Distant footfalls, and shouting,
could be heard from somewhere below.

Angus:  (smashes through the ajar doors and stops just short
  of the stairway)
Belphanior:  Let's go!  (they head down the stairs, Angus
  leading the way)

  About this time, the others had reached the bottom of the
winding stairway and emerged into a dim hall, lit by a few
glowing violet spheres set in the wall.  A pair of drow
stood guard at the end of the hall, in front of a large iron

drow:  (they immediately begin spellcasting)
Ged:  (his wand already in hand)  This place needs some...
  fire!  Cspan!

  A pair of blazing spheres shot forth and engulfed the two
dark elves.  By now, the adventurers knew that the magic
would probably have very little effect on the drow, and so
Rillen and Arnold charged forth.

both drow:  (recoiling, more blinded than wounded)  Aie!
Rillen:  (to Arnold)  Why did we let Belphanior and Mongo
  keep our weapons?
Arnold:  (shrugs)  Don't ask me.  (he tackles one drow)
Rillen:  (his foot collides with the other drow's face)  Eat
Arnold:  (overpowers his drow, and puts it in a headlock)
Ged:  (sees that things are well in hand, and turns back to
  the stairway and begins casting a spell)
Peldor:  (dashes in and stabs Arnold's drow in the neck)
drow#1:  (dies)
Lyra:  Quickly!  We must find the prison!
Rillen:  (lifts the remaining drow to his feet and grabs his
  neck)  You!  Where is the prison?
drow#2:  <ghak>  I shall...never...<ack>...tell you...
Rillen:  <SNAP>  You're right.
Lyra:  (gaping)
Rillen:  (shrugs)  He had nothing to say.
Lyra:  Oh, I wasn't criticizing, just surprised at your...
Peldor:  (checks the door)  Clear.  (he opens it, revealing
  a forking stairway that descends to both left and right)
Rillen:  (holds up his wand of illumination and speaks the
  command word, then pads down the left staircase)
Arnold:  Aaa.  Light.
Peldor:  (follows the warriors)
Lyra:  (turns back to Ged)  Come _on_!
Ged:  Yea, yea...(he completes his spell, and the entire
  bottom section of the winding staircase that they came
  here through turns into mud)  Hah!  Let's see them get
  through _that_!  (he turns and follows Lyra)

  As the mud flowed freely into the small hall, the five
adventurers descended into a dank, gloomy place that was
undoubtedly a prison.  They saw now that the right stair,
had they taken it, wound around into this dungeon, much as
the left one did.  The prison block was huge, being about
fifty feet long and twenty feet wide, with a ceiling that
was fully twenty feet high.

Rillen:  (still following the magical compass)  Close...he
  is close now...
drow mage:  (suddenly appears from behind a shelf, his hands
  working magic)  Die, intruders!  (he casts an Otiluke's
  Freezing Sphere, and an icy ray shoots forth from his
Rillen:  Whoa.  (he dodges the beam)
Ged:  Boccob!  (he gets hit, and staggers, then falls)
Arnold:  Yah!  (clad only in his robe, and thus moving much
  faster than usual, he leaps at the mage, sword swinging)
drow mage:  (gets sliced in the shoulder)  Argh!  (he falls
  to the ground, bleeding)
Arnold:  (stabs the mage in the head)  Die, you!
drow mage:  (dies)
Rillen:  (tending to Ged, who is in shock)
Peldor:  What happened to _him_?
Lyra:  Didn't you see anything?!?
Peldor:  Actually, no, because I was otherwise occupied.
  (he steps aside, revealing the door whose lock he picked)
  Open, sesame.  (he uses his ring of telekinesis to open
  the creaky iron door)
Alindyar:  (crawls out of the cell, bruised and bloody)
Lyra:  ALINDYAR!  (she runs over to her lover, sobbing)
Rillen:  (to Peldor)  Ged needs help - he's almost frozen.
Peldor:  (produces a potion)  Typical...those useless elven
Rillen:  (force-feeds Ged the potion)
Ged:  Ugh...(he sits up stiffly and looks around)  Boccob!
  It's Alindyar!
Lyra:  (cradling Alindyar in her arms)  We found you...oh,
  we found you...
Alindyar:  (weakly)  Wh-  what in the world...did you do...
  to your hair?

  Ged quickly healed himself, fully, and then healed Alindyar
as well.  The drow was in pretty bad shape - definitely not
ready to fight - but Ged's magic made him well enough to walk
again.  Rillen and Arnold found that the prison had no other
exits - merely a few dozen cells, most of which were occupied
by various people and creatures.  Meanwhile, Peldor ran back
up the stairs, babbling something about setting a trap.

Ged:  Hey...(he moves to the right staircase, yelling)  I'm
  putting a spell here, Peldor!  Use the left staircase when
  you come back down!
Peldor:  (yelling from above)  Right!
Ged:  (spellcasting)
Lyra:  We had best prepare to fight, for they are coming, and
  we are cornered.
Rillen:  Don't forget about Belphanior and Mongo.
Alindyar:  I knew somebody was missing...
Arnold:  (looks in a cell, spying a white-bearded gnome)  Hi
gnome:  argh...
Rillen:  (spots a rack of wicked-looking instruments of pain
  and torture)  Hmm.  The true warrior improvises, with what-
  ever is at hand...

  Nearby but above, the drow party was fast on the heels of
the intruders...

Ilivarra:  (in the rear of the group, which now numbers two
  dozen warriors in addition to five other high priestesses
  and three magi)  Intruders...from MY HOUSE!
  There will be blood tonight!
Talice:  Indeed...

  The drow reached the bottom of the staircase, where several
of them promptly slipped in the mud, sliding into the hallway
beyond or simply sinking out of sight.

Ilivarra:  (notices that none of her five daughters fell into
  the mud)  Forget the sunken - we've scum to catch!  Onward!
Talice:  Where will the scum go next?
Ilivarra:  That is precisely the beauty of it - there IS no
  other way out of the dungeon!  Ha ha ha!

  Shortly, the remaining drow reached the forked stairway,
and split up, so as to descend both ways simultaneously.  A
moment later, there was a scream from the right passage, as
a couple of drow warriors encountered Ged's Blade Barrier...

unfortunate drow warriors:  Aie!  Argh!  (chopping sounds
Ilivarra:  Forget them, more are on the way!  To the left!

  They descended the stairs a bit more carefully...

drow warrior:  (steps on the pile of mud Peldor put on the
  stair)  Eh?  What foolishness is-  (the mud-covered pebble
  with Continual Light cast upon it is uncovered, and shines
  rather brightly right at the drow's face)  Aaaaie!  (he
  covers his eyes)

  Finally, the drow entered the dungeon, for there were no
hidden places that the adventurers could ambush them from.
The prison block was dark, though the drow could see the six
adventurers' body heat via their infravision.

priestess:  Hah!  We've got you now, interlopers!
Ged:  No, we've got you!  (he hurls two small sacks toward
  the oncoming drow)

  The thin sacks burst upon hitting the floor, spraying more
of the brightly-glowing pebbles in every direction.  The drow
recoiled, and the party attacked in various ways.

Ged:  (sends forth his figurines, the golden lions)  Kill!
golden lion#1:  (tears into drow mage #1, a male)  Roar!
golden lion#2:  (lands on a drow warrior)  Growl!
Rillen:  (hefts a barbed knife and hurls it at one of the
  drow magi)
drow mage #2:  (stabbed in the chest by the weapon, his spell
  is ruined)  Argh!
Rillen:  (his eyes widen)  Excellent balance.
Arnold:  (charges forth to meet an advancing drow warrior)
  Cast your sbells - Ah-nold shall keep the enemy at bay!
Lyra:  Right.  (she casts Chain Lightning at the drow party)
various drow:  (most of them get blasted, though their magic
  resistance deflects the magic, in most cases)
drow high priestess:  (blasted thoroughly)  ARGH!  (she reels
  back, badly burned)  Argh!
drow mage #3:  (she casts a Cone of Cold at the party)
Rillen:  (ducks, avoiding major damage)  Brr.
Ged:  (brushed by the icy blast, he is wounded slightly)
  Ow!  Boccob!
Lyra:  (knocked aside by the cone, she is frozen somewhat)
Alindyar:  (scrapes ice off of Lyra)  Alas, if only I had my
  spellbooks and a few minutes of peace...
Rillen:  (hurls a sawblade-like thing at a drow priestess)
drow priestess #2:  (her arm is nicked, and her spell ruined)
Alindyar:  Nice shot.
Rillen:  Thanks.
Peldor:  (invisible, he intends to backstab Talice, but one
  of the magi gets in the way, so he settles for her)  Die,
drow mage #3:  (she staggers, bleeding)  Argh!
Peldor:  (becomes visible, still disguised as a drow)  Hey,
  you defied the will of Peldor!
drow mage #3:  (staggers back, wondering why this fool is
  talking to her)  Agh...get away from me, you traitor!
Peldor:  From what I've heard of you folks, there aren't any
  traitors - you always kill each other anyway.  (he stabs
  the wounded mage again, being hasted, and slays her)
Talice:  Lolth!  How many renegade drow _are_ there?!?
Ilivarra:  Never you mind!  Kill these fools!
Talice:  I am.  (she casts Confusion upon the party)
Alindyar:  (saves)  Eh?
Arnold:  (fails to save, and is confused)  Aaa?  (he attacks
  the nearest creature, which happens to be the drow warrior
  he was already fighting)
drow warrior:  Argh!  (he reels)
Ged:  (saves, easily)
Lyra:  (saves)  Bah.  (she begins her next spell)
Peldor:  (saves, easily)
Rillen:  (saves, easily)
Arnold:  (hacks at the same drow warrior again, missing and
  then hitting)  Aaa?
drow warrior:  Glurk.  (he dies, cut in half)
Talice:  Hmm.  These fools are powerful indeed.
Ilivarra:  Not so, daughter.  Observe.  (she casts a Symbol,
  and the thing appears in the air)  Witness this, dolts!
Alindyar:  (in his current weakened state, he fails to resist
  the magic, and turns back in dejection)  Aie.
Lyra:  (now sitting up, still wounded, she resists the spell)
  Vile magic!
Ged:  (saves easily)
Peldor:  (ditto)
Rillen:  (ditto)
Arnold:  (fails to resist the symbol, and sits down, sapped
  of his will to fight)  Aaa.
Rillen:  Damn.  (he hurls a pair of tongs at one of the drow
  priestesses, in fact the same one he wounded last time)
drow priestess #2:  Wha-  (she ducks and avoids the missile)
Rillen:  I've got a quick one here.  (he throws a long, thin
  spear-like implement at the same priestess)
drow priestess #2:  (impaled in the shoulder by the weapon)
  Aieee!  (she staggers)

  The drow rushed into the prison block, while Arnold and
Alindyar wandered meekly around the back of the chamber.
However, another of the adventurers' little surprises came
to fruition, as the first few cells, which the advancing
drow were now even with, popped open, releasing their
occupants upon the unsuspecting drow.

bugbear:  (it charges out insanely, and tackles two drow
  warriors)  Graaargh!
bleeding illithid:  (slips out of its cell and grabs the
  drow mage that Rillen wounded earlier with the sawblade)
drow mage #2:  (devoid of flanking protection due to the
  actions of the bugbear, his brain is already being
  eaten)  Blerk.
kobold:  (leaps out of its cage, inspired by the bugbear,
  and charges a drow warrior)  Dieeeee!
drow warrior:  (slices the little humanoid in half)  Bah.
troll:  REAARGH!  (it staggers out of a cell, rips the
  door off, and plows into a whole group of drow)  GRAAR!
drow warriors:  (pushed back forcibly)
Peldor:  Hah!  I knew that picking those locks would do
  us good!  (he goes invisible again, and wanders around)
Rillen:  (tosses a razor-edged metal disk at Talice)  This
  dungeon has the most interesting weapons...
Talice:  (her hand gets sliced by the thing, ruining her
  spell and sending a couple of fingers flying away)  Aaa!
Rillen:  That should teach you to point your fingers where
  they don't belong.
drow warrior:  (fighting - and losing - against golden lion
drow mage #1:  (casts Sleep upon golden lion#2)  Brorn!
golden lion #1:  (shrugs off the spell)  Grarr!  (it pounces
  upon the dark elf, and tears his head off)
Arnold:  (still confused, he starts to wander away)  Aaa?
drow warrior:  (attacks the warrior)  Die!
Arnold:  (hit and wounded, he responds to the attack with a
  savage slash that drives his foe back)  Aaa?  (he wanders
Peldor:  (slashes a drow priestess, wounding her)  Away, you
drow priestess #3:  (backs up, her spell foiled)  Argh!  You
  foolish traitor!
Peldor:  (still disguised as a drow)  Not I...
Rillen:  (having run out of odd torture instruments to hurl,
  he leaps forward and punches two different drow warriors as
  he moves between the two)  Hai!  Yai!
drow warrior:  (nicks the big warrior with a glancing blow)
other drow warrior:  (misses with his attack)  Damn!
Lyra:  (casts a Wall of Ice, as a sheet which appears above
  the bulk of the remaining drow)  Ha!  Let's see you resist
Rillen:  (manages to leap aside in time to avoid harm)
Lyra:  Oops...
various drow:  (buried beneath the massive sheet as it falls
  from above; included are drow priestesses #1 and #2, whose
  spells are ruined; also, a few of the weaker warriors die
  from the crushing effect)
Ged:  Boccob!  Excellent!
Lyra:  Thanks...let's just hope that holds them for a bit.
Peldor:  (stabs at the priestess he hit before, but misses)
drow priestess #3:  (whips at Peldor with a tentacled rod)
Peldor:  (recoils, two slashes torn across his torso by the
  writhing tentacles)  Ow!
troll:  (bursts forth from the fragments of Lyra's ice wall,
  and hurls a drow warrior across the dungeon)  Raargh!
various other drow warriors:  (continue to melee with the
  huge troll)
Rillen:  (having somersaulted in front of drow priestess #4,
  he punches at her, hitting twice)  Hai!
drow priestess #4:  (reels)  Argh!  You'll die for that!
mind flayer:  (faced by three drow warriors, it gets sliced
  apart fairly quickly)
Ilivarra:  (shielded by the "expendable" drow, she finishes
  her spell, and three huge half-drow, half-spider creatures
  appear nearby)  Ilindith!
Lyra:  Aie!  Driders!
Ged:  So?
Lyra:  No, you don't-
three driders:  (they fan out, and slowly creep toward the
  remaining party members)
Talice:  (flails at Peldor with an amber, six-tentacled rod)
Peldor:  (hit by four of the tentacles, he is numbed, and
  reels, dazed)  Wha...?
Ged:  (casts a spell, and a huge sword of energy appears)
Lyra:  Mordenkainen's Sword!
Ged:  Yea!  For Boccob!  (he guides the thing toward one of
  the drow priestesses)  Watch!
drow priestess #1:  (having staggered from beneath the icy
  remains of Lyra's wall, she gets cut in two by the magical
  blade)  Aie!  (she dies)
Ged:  Boccob!
Ilivarra:  (screams in fury as she sees her daughter get cut
  down)  Elgg!
drider #1:  (casts a spell, encircling Ged with a Wall of
drider #2:  (casts a Web, pinning Peldor, the bugbear, and
  the still-confused Arnold to the floor)
drider #3:  (hits Rillen with a volley of Magic Missiles,
  knocking him away from the drow priestesses)
Rillen:  Argh!
troll:  (finally gets cut to bits by the drow warriors)

  At this point, only Ged, Lyra, and Rillen remained out
and about, as the others were helpless or hopeless.  Of the
drow, Ilivarra, Talice, and three other priestesses were
still alive and well; about a dozen male drow warriors still
supported them, the others having been whittled away by
various means.  There were also the three driders, of course;
the troll, bugbear, and mind flayer were now all dead or
incapacitated, though the golden lions still remained.
Things did look bad for the adventurers, though.

Ilivarra:  Ha!  Let's see you escape now!  (she begins her
  next spell)
Talice:  Ha ha ha ha-

  There was a sudden trembling, and then the ceiling near
the prison entrance began to collapse.  As the drow at the
rear rank whirled in surprise, a huge metallic form forced
its way into the chamber!

Angus:  (brings a massive fist down onto Ilivarra)
Ilivarra:  (smashed and bloody, falls)
Talice:  Aie!
Mongo:  (darts through the golem's legs, and hurls his
  hammer)  We're here!
drow priestess #2:  (already seriously wounded, she is
  slain, her neck snapped)
Belphanior:  (flies through the stairway, and slashes at
  another drow priestess)  Yippee!  Die!
drow priestess #3:  (sliced, she reels in pain)  Argh!
wispy thing:  (sails toward one of the drow priestesses,
  attempting to distract it)  pffft!
drow priestess #4:  Eh?
Mongo:  (catches his hammer, and hurls it again, this time
  at one of the driders)  Time to smash some drow-spiders!
drider #1:  Argh!  (wounded, its spell is ruined)
Angus:  (lumbers into the room)
Belphanior:  (points to the three driders)  Angus...smash.
Angus:  (heads for the nearest drider)
Belphanior:  (yells to Ged)  You hasted him, too, remember?
Ged:  Yea!
Lyra:  We're sure glad to see you people!  And Angus too!
Rillen:  Aye.  (he pummels a drow warrior, one already
  wounded by the troll)
drow warrior:  Aie!  (falls)
Mongo:  Glad we made it in time!  (hurls his hammer at
  drider #2)  I wouldn't have wanted to miss all the fun!
drider #2:  (staggers, its spell also ruined)  Yagh!
Talice:  (completes her spell, and a strange glowing gate
  appears in front of one wall)  Ha!
Ged:  Boccob!  A gate!
Lyra:  It isn't-

  Suddenly, a truly horrifying creature came through the
gate.  It resembled a gigantic, slimy black spider, fully
twenty feet wide; green venom dripped from its fangs, and
webs of extraordinary thickness shrouded its body.

Talice:  Behold!  A messenger from Lolth!
Lyra:  Wonderful...things can only get better.
spider-demon:  (swats a couple of drow warriors out of its
  way, and closes in on Mongo)  SSSSS...
Mongo:  Fuck!  (he hurls his hammer, bashing the thing in
  the head but not slowing it down one bit)  Uh-oh.
Belphanior:  (swoops down and slashes at the demon, drawing
  a tiny bit of greenish blood)  Ha!
spider-demon:  SS.  (deftly snatches the elf, and bites him)
Belphanior:  (his veins burning with powerful poison)  AAA!
  (he crashes into a wall, spasming)  AAAARGH!
Angus:  (thirty feet away, calmly rips drider #3 in half)
Rillen:  (kicks a drow warrior, twice, stunning him)  Hai!
  (he leaps over the heads of two others and charges the
Peldor:  (webbed to the ground, he talks to the confused
  Arnold nearby)  Arnold!  Use your strength to break the
Arnold:  (also pinned, of course)  Aaa?
Peldor:  Damn.  (he uses his ring of telekinesis to try and
  influence the battle)
Rillen:  (punches drider #3 in the face)  Hai!
drider #3:  Yargh!  (it bites at the warrior, clamping its
  fangs onto his shoulder)  Hssss!
Rillen:  Argh!  (he falls away, but resists the poison)
Mongo:  (prepares to hurl his hammer at the spider-demon,
  again)  You bastard-thing...
spider-demon:  SSS.  (squirts a weblike goo over the dwarf)
Mongo:  (covered in drying webs)  Huh?!?  (he tears and
  claws at the grey stuff)  Damn, I'm trapped!
drow priestess #3:  (casts a healing spell upon Ilivarra)
  Mother, rise!
Ilivarra:  (stands up, and immediately begins spellcasting)
drow priestess #4:  (also spellcasting)
Peldor:  (still immobilized in the webs, he TKs a large rock
  into the priestess' head)
drow priestess #4:  (staggers)  Argh!
Peldor:  Heh.  Bet that hurt...
bugbear:  (begins ripping its way out of the webs)  Grr...
Ged:  (casts Dispel Evil, and turns to the spider-demon)
Lyra:  (spellcasting)
Ilivarra:  (casts Slay Living at Lyra)
Lyra:  (resists the magic...barely, and is still wounded
  anyway)  Argh!  (she falls, unconscious and dying)
golden lions:  (tearing drow priestess #4 apart)
Belphanior:  (having shrugged off the spider-demon's venom,
  with the help of his periapt, he slowly gets to his feet)
wispy thing:  (regards Belphanior with concern)
Alindyar:  (crawling around in a far corner of the dungeon)

  Now, only Ged, Rillen, Belphanior, the golden lions, and
Angus remained mobile and able to fight.  As for the drow,
only Ilivarra, Talice, the huge spider-demon, two driders,
and eight male drow warriors remained.

drow warriors:  (most of them gang up on the golden lions,
  and begin methodically cutting them to bits)
Rillen:  (punches drider #1 in the head, twice)  Hai!
drider #1:  (already wounded, it dies)
Angus:  (steps on drider #2, wounding it badly)
drider #2:  Splgh!
Mongo:  (slowly tearing his way out of the spider-demon's
  webs, thanks to his giant strength)  Hang on, everybody!
Belphanior:  (flies into Talice, sword-first)  Die, you
  fucking bitch!
Talice:  Ugh!  (stabbed in the belly, she staggers and falls
  to her knees)
Ilivarra:  Talice!  My last daughter!
Talice:  Glurk...(falls)
Ilivarra:  How?!?
Belphanior:  Poisoned blade.  Don't fret, though - you're
bugbear:  (unfortunately enough, it escapes the webs just
  in time to end up in the spider-demon's path)  Huh?
spider-demon:  (tramples the bugbear)
Ilivarra:  (whips out a seven-tentacled rod as Belphanior
  draws near)  Taste this, elf!  (she flails with the rod,
  just as Belphanior slashes at her)
Belphanior:  (hit by six tentacles, he falls, half-dead,
  blinded, and deaf)
Ilivarra:  (cut, she resists the poison)  Ha!  I have slain
  another of the fools!  Blood for blood!
Rillen:  (attacks drider #2 with multiple rapid punches and
  kicks)  YaaaaYAYAYAI!!!
drider #2:  (manages to blast the warrior with its Flame
  Strike, but still gets beaten to death by the succession
  of blows)
Rillen:  (avoids the worst of the spell, but is nevertheless
  slightly aflame as he slays the drider)  Hai!
Ged:  (completes his spell, and the ground beneath most of
  the remaining drow warriors turns into mud)
drow warriors:  (sinking fast)
golden lions:  (dead anyway, they have reverted to statue
spider-demon:  (headed for Ged)  SSS.
Angus:  (turns to face the spider-demon, which is now in
  its way)
spider-demon:  (bites ineffectually at the golem)  SSS!
Angus:  (punches the demon, staggering it)

Mongo:  YEEEAAAH!!!  (rips free of the spider-demon's webs)
  Ha!  (he immediately hurls his hammer at the oversized
spider-demon:  (already staggered, thanks to Angus, it is
  knocked back a few feet as a loud thunderclap sounds)
drow warrior:  (nearby, he puts his hands over his ears,
  then falls to his knees, stunned)  Aaaargh!
Angus:  (ignores the thunderclap, since he doesn't really
  have ears)
Ilivarra:  (screaming curses in drow as she casts another
  spell)  You'll all die for this!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  No, I don't think so...
other remaining drow warrior:  (charges Ged, brandishing a
Ged:  Back, dolt!  (he summons a Wall of Fire, which not
  only cuts off the drow warrior's attack, but also blocks
  Angus, Mongo, and the spider-demon from the sight of the
spider-demon:  (scuttles toward Angus)  SSS.
wispy thing:  pfft!  (it divebombs the demon, distracting
  it)  pssss!
Angus:  (in a fit of inspiration, he picks up the spider-
spider-demon:  (bites at the iron golem, with little effect)
Angus:  (carries the thing over to the wall of fire and
  stands amidst the flames)
spider-demon:  (ignites)  SSSSSS!
Angus:  (being an iron golem, he actually gets _healed_ by
  the intense flames)
Mongo:  Dammit!  (having no other target, he lets Stormcrest
  fly at the blazing spider-demon)
spider-demon:  (several of its legs are broken by the force
  of the blow)  SSSS!
Rillen:  (faces the other drow warrior, the one not within
  the wall of fire)  Come on, then.  (he twirls a length of
  thick chain)
drow warrior:  Iblith!  (his ears still ringing, he charges
  the big warrior)
Rillen:  (bashes the foe with the chain)  Hi-ya!
drow warrior:  Argh!  (staggers)
Peldor:  (uses his TK to rip away some webs)  Peldor will
  not be held for long!  (he realizes that nobody is around
  to hear him)  Hmm.
Ilivarra:  (completes her spell, and ambles toward Ged, her
  hand glowing with black light)  Heh heh...
Ged:  (having discerned the drow's magic to be of a death-
  oriented nature, he steps back)  Whoa!  Keep away, you!
Ilivarra:  (chasing Ged)  Come back here!  Come and DIE!
Ged:  (fleeing from the wizened drow)  No thanks!  (he ducks
  behind a pillar, buying some time until he can cast a new
  spell or use a wand or something)  Don't touch me, bitch!
Ilivarra:  (playing the dodge-around-a-pillar game with Ged)
  Heh heh...I'll get you in the end...
Mongo:  (wanders around the wall of fire and hurls his hammer
  at the drow who had been cut off from Ged earlier)  Ha!
drow warrior:  <wham>  (he falls, unmoving)
Mongo:  Gotcha!  (he catches his hammer)
Rillen:  (having dispatched his own foe, though his arm is
  bleeding from a deep cut, he dashes over to Lyra, and does
  what he can to stop her bleeding)  Hold fast, brave drow.

spider-demon:  (still held in the flames by Angus, it is
  fairly well-done by now, and ceases its pained movements)
Angus:  (fully healed at this point, he lumbers over to his
Belphanior:  (still bleeding, but being attended to by
  Mongo now)
Angus:  (looks around)
Ged:  (goes on the offensive, waving Lightbringer)  By the
  power of Boccob, I will slay you, vile one!
Lightbringer:  (about to say something about the drow not
  being an undead, but thinks better of it)
Ilivarra:  Bah.  (she lunges in, with surprising speed, her
  hand sheathed in a black aura)
Ged:  Yie!  (he tries to dodge, twisting wildly)  Ai-
Ilivarra:  (manages to tap Ged on his shoulder)  Hah!
Ged:  Aie!  (he falls, half-dead)
Ilivarra:  Hah hah hah-  what?!?
Ged:  (in great pain, but struggling to get to his feet)
Ilivarra:  But how...?!
Ged:  Apparently...your magic...isn't as you'd
  like to think...
Ilivarra:  By Lolth's fangs!  (she backs up a step)

  Suddenly, a crimson-tinged blade emerged from the drow
priestess' chest, spraying gore all over Ged!

Ilivarra:  Ghak!  (her eyes go wide in disbelief)  Wha...?
Peldor:  (becomes visible behind the evil one, and pulls his
  swordblade out of his victim, dropping her dead body to
  the dungeon floor)  And good riddance.
Ged:  (weakly)  Way to go...Peldor...(he falls)
Peldor:  Oh, come now.  (he looks around, then hunts in his
  packs for a healing potion)

  For the moment, all foes were slain.  Only Rillen, Mongo,
and Peldor were still in decent shape; Ged was just barely
conscious, and weak; Belphanior and Lyra were unconscious,
but alive; Alindyar and Arnold were awake, but still under
the influence of the hopelessness symbol (and Arnold was
confused and trapped in webs as well!)  Angus moved to guard
the entrance to the dungeon, and the wispy thing hovered
around the golem's head.

wispy thing:  ssss!
Peldor:  He's right.  We've got to get out of here, and
  soon, before more drow show up.  (as an afterthought, he
  is busy feeding the bloody bodies of all the slain drow
  priestesses to the wall of fire, to help ensure that
  they don't come back to haunt the party)
Mongo:  Yeah, I think I hear people coming.  More drow, I'd
Peldor:  We need a quick way out.
Ged:  (staggering to his feet)  I it.
Rillen:  How?
Mongo:  Yeah, I thought teleportation didn't work here.
Ged:  It doesn't...I mean to cast...a Plane Shift...(he
  begins spellcasting)  Don't know...why...I didn't think
  of this before...
Mongo:  Whatever.  (he looks around)  What can we do to
Ged:  Put...put the golem inside...your portable hole...
Mongo:  Okay.  (he looks at Angus, and opens the magical
  hole)  How about it?
Angus:  (looks at the unconscious Belphanior, then looks
  around, then climbs into the hole)
Peldor:  Aie!  Watch out for that-  (he watches as a pile
  of gems gets crushed to powder by the golem's weight)
Mongo:  Uh-oh.  (he closes the hole)  Let's make this quick.

  As Ged labored to complete his spell,  the others could
hear the sounds of approaching foes, from above.

Mongo:  (hefts his adamantine horn)  I can collapse this
  place around their ears...
Ged:  No need...(to all)  Link hands...quickly now...

  The eight adventurers (some of them unwittingly) linked
hands, and there was a flash as they were transported...
elsewhere.  By the time the drow reinforcements showed up
in the prison area, the adventurers were gone.

troll:  (having regenerated its pieces back together, it
  leaps from the shadows)  RAAARGH!

next time :  an intermission of sorts

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

notes     :  Geez.

             This episode took more effort than you'll ever
           know.  I didn't just sit down and write this one
           like've been working on it, on and
           off, since the first week of March (as I write
           this, it's March 27)...I actually went to Florida
           for spring break, in the middle of writing this
           one.  I guess I'm trying to say that it has quite
           a history, and I'm glad it's finally completed,
           various setbacks and sidetracks notwithstanding.
             I originally intended to post the adventurers'
           stats and items again, at the end of this episode,
           but since it's long enough already, I'll hold off
           until a later episode for stats.
             Something else I wanted to bring up:  Someone
           pointed out that the adventurers, more often than
           not, teleport (or plane shift, or whatever) out
           of dungeons, enemy castles, and other generally
           hazardous places, right in the nick of time before
           the foes' reinforcements show up.  While this is
           true, and even perhaps rings of deux ex machina,
           it also happens to be the best recourse for any
           sane adventurer.  Why in the hell would anybody
           fight their way out through hordes of foes, drow,
           demons, and what-have-you when a teleport would
           take them back home, instantly, in one piece???
                       (stepping off soapbox)

previous chapter (#174)                                                                  next chapter (#176)