Chapter #18

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*****
*
*  The 8 player characters contained in this writing are copyright
*  1992 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.
*
*****


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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)
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                  XVIII.  Orcs, harpies, & impostors



  Halbarad had just up popped through a floor hatch, surprising some
followers of Grummsh...

Halbarad:  Holy Hells!  'Tis Grummsh, god of the orcs, my sworn enemy!
  (leaps at the priestess, chopping her with both axe and dagger and
  bowling her over)
priestess:  Curses!  You'll pay for that, you goody-two-shoes fool!
half-orcs:  (all three of them brandish their weapons and move to get
  Halbarad and save their priestess)
Halbarad:  Uh...HELP!!
Mongo:  (emerging from the floor hatch)  What's this?  Battle!  (to
  DM)  I shriek my war cry and brain some orcspawn!  Aaaugh!  (sends
  the hammer flying at one of the half-orcs and climbs fully out of
  the hole)
half-orc#1:  (hit by the weapon and knocked down)  @#%&$*!
half-orc#2:  Whad's thish?
Mongo:  Thish ish my hammer.  It's name is death, vile worshippers of
  the one-eyed crap-shoveler and lover of elves and halflings!
half-orc#3:  You'll pay for those insults, dwarf!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer and moves to melee the nearest half-orc)
  I doubt it.
Belphanior:  (sticks his head up through the hole)  Aha!
Ged:  (from below)  Hurry it up, up there!  Something could attack
  us down here while you idiots are playing with yourselves!

Halbarad:  (quickly pressing the attack on the priestess, to keep her
  from casting spells)  You worshipper of evil gods!  Your putrid
  shrine comes down this day!  (stabs her again with his dagger)
priestess:  (wounded further, whips out a mace and swats at the ranger
  feebly with it)
Halbarad:  Ugh!
Mongo:  (slams half-orc#1 with his hammer, slaying it)  Victory for
  Clan Thunderhead!
Belphanior:  (runs for half-orc#2, screaming insanely)
half-orc#2:  (slashes at the elf, scoring a slight wound)
Belphanior:  Ouch!  For that, your death shall be _twice_ as painful!
  (slices the humanoid, inflicting a critical hit)  There!!  (to DM)
  Double damage dice, eh?  Heh heh..
half-orc#2:  (perishes)
Halbarad:  (chops the priestess with his axe)
priestess:  (expires)
half-orc#3:  Uh-oh.  (turns and flees for a door at the end of the hall)
Belphanior:  (tosses the longsword aside and draws his bow)  I'll get
  the sonofabitch!  (fires off an arrow, but misses)
Mongo:  He can't run fast enough...(hurls his hammer at the humanoid,
  bringing it down)
Halbarad:  Is it alive for questioning?
Belphanior:  (squinting)  Doesn't look like it.
Peyote:  (emerging from the hatch)  Wow, man.  Like, what _happened_?
Mongo:  Just some extermination of pests.  No sweat.
Halbarad:  We have crippled an unholy place of the orcish god Grummsh.
  My patroness, the Mistress of the Forests, will be pleased.  (dumps
  some unholy water from a bowl onto the floor, and ponders the idea
  of pushing the statue of Grummsh over)

  The rest of the party, and the slave girl, came out of the sewers
into the temple.  Chained to a huge metal font were about a dozen
slaves.  A poorbox was mounted on a far wall.  The evil priestess'
body was searched, turning up a nice mace and a potion bottle.  In
addition, Ged found a good-sized cavity in the shaft from below,
right under the trapdoor; this niche contained some sacks of gold, a
large diamond, and some papers in a scroll tube.

Peldor:  (heading for that poorbox)  I wonder what's in there?
Halbarad:  Somebody help me free these slaves.
Belphanior:  Okay.  I hate slavery.  I hope we find some more slavers
  to kill.  (examining chains)  These are pretty thick chains.
Ged:  Let me help...(casts a knock on the big padlock securing one
  end of the chains, opening it and freeing the slaves)
Halbarad:  What are we going to do with these people now?
slaves:  (scampering about)
Belphanior:  Uhh...

Alindyar:  Here, Mongo.  These sacks of gold shall avail us well in
  the future.  Can you carry them, or should I put them in my magical
  bag?
Mongo:  Shit yeah!  Oof, these are heavy.  You can carry them.  I'm
  already burdened down with all the other crap we found.
Alindyar:  (stacking the bags into his bag of holding)  This diamond
  is of fine quality as well.  Also this mace, and this potion...
Rob:  We really got lucky here.
Alindyar:  (reading the papers)  These documents detail some caravan
  routes and dates.  I would presume they refer to slave caravans.
Peyote:  Good deal, man.  Where's that slave babe?
slave girl:  (wandering around the room)
Peyote:  Hey, slave girl babe, don't wander off!  You might get hurt.
Ged:  Somebody watch Peldor.

Peldor:  (prying at the poorbox on the wall)  This thing's jammed!

  Suddenly, the lockbox exploded!  A huge green figure seemed to
grow from inside the small wooden box, its slimy skin glistening
from the torchlight in the chamber.  The thing dropped a small grey
lump of stone on the ground, and looked at the thief.

monster:  (surprises Peldor, and bats him about like a pillow)
Peldor:  (bruised and beaten, sails off into one wall)
slave girl:  Eeeeek!!
Alindyar:  A troll!  Now where did that come from?
Mongo:  Who gives a shit?  It's killing our thief!
Ged:  So?
Mongo:  Then who would we have to risk poison needle traps and
  things like that?  (hurls his hammer at the troll)
Ged:  Hm.  Good point.
Peyote:  Way uncool, man.  (charges the troll, with Belphanior and
  Halbarad close behind)
slaves:  (scampering about)
shadowy figure:  (emerges from behind the font and rushes toward
  Halbarad's exposed back)
troll:  (struck by Mongo's hammer, reels a bit and turns to face
  the trio of warriors heading for it, sparing Peldor from further
  mauling)
Mongo:  Catches his hammer, spots the figure behind the ranger but
  not in time)  Hey, look out!

shadowy figure:  (backstabs Halbarad with a longsword)  Die, vile
  do-gooder!
Halbarad:  (seriously injured, but alive, perhaps due to his armor)
slave girl:  Eeeeek!!
Mongo:  Shut the hell up, dammit!
Belphanior:  (stabs the troll)  Die, motherfucker!
Peyote:  (chopping at the troll)  The jolly green giant seems to be
  weakening!
Alindyar:  (digging for a flask of oil)  Wherever did I put that
  flask of oil?
Ged:  (thinking about a spell to cast)
Rob:  (casts spiritual hammer, sends it at the troll)
Halbarad:  (bleeding profusely, turns around)  Wretch!  (chops and
  stabs his assailant, killing him)  Probably also a worshipper of
  that foul Grummsh.
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at the troll, simultaneous with Rob's
  magical hammer spell)
troll:  (dies)
Alindyar:  (rushing forth)  Here, use this oil!  (pours it onto the
  body)
Peyote:  Fire it up!  (ignites the troll carcass with a torch from
  a nearby wall sconce)
Ged:  Let me help, Halbarad.  (heals the ranger extensively with his
  magic)
Rob:  (heals Peldor)  Brave, brave thief.  Someone must care for you.
Peldor:  Thanks, priest.  (gets up and looks among the poorbox shards
  for treasure)  Damn!  No treasure!
Rob:  (sees the stone the troll dropped, decides it's interesting and
  pockets it)
Halbarad:  (checking the assassin's body)  This dolt should have aimed
  for the heart if he wanted to kill me.
Peyote:  You're not complaining, are you?
Halbarad:  No.  This man has nothing of importance or use.  (flings
  the body back to the floor in contempt)

  The party decided to take the door to the south.  The slaves were
left in the temple room, but advised to remain there until it was
deemed safe for them to leave.  The adventurers opened the door, and
saw an old, collapsed chapel.  Some large bird-like things attacked,
but flew away after a few were chopped from the air.  The chapel was
devoid of anything interesting; the party went back into the temple
and out the northern door.  They were now in a long hallway full of
alcoves; the alcoves were occupied by statues of orcs and strange
winged monsters.

Ged:  (his spell is still in effect)  There is a trap in the center
  of this passage!  A section of floor is glowing to my eyes.
Peldor:  How useful the minions of Boccob are today.  Why don't you
  go step on it?
Halbarad:  (leaps over the five-foot section Ged indicated)  That
  was easy.  Let us move on.  There may be other orcs and slavers
  about, and that burning troll probably alerted them.
Peldor:  (checks for traps on the door at the end of the passage
  and then opens it.  Beyond is a huge courtyard, open to the sky.
  Some orcish humanoids are taking cover behind tables and some
  other bulky object.  Some of them have crossbows and spears.
  A pair of portculli block exit to the outside.)  Hmm.
Halbarad:  More orcs!
Belphanior:  All right!  Bloodshed!
Mongo:  Hey, get out of my way!  They're gonna shoot at us, and
  I need a clear path for my hammer!
Ged:  Hold.  (casts a sleep spell, putting seven of the orcs to
  sleep)  Hah!  Boccob speaks!
Peldor:  And look what happens!  They all fell asleep!
Ged:  Grr...
Halbarad:  (charges the orcs - actually half-orcs - behind the
  bulky pushcart)  (yelling in orcish)  Grummsh is dead!  Die!
Mongo:  (tosses the hammer, splattering a half-orc)  Death to
  slavers!
half-orc:  (lighting a stubby torch attached to the pushcart,
  which is some strange device)
Belphanior:  (moves in on the lone orc awake behind a table)
Alindyar:  (uses his wand to launch a magic missile at a half-orc)
Peyote:  Aaaa!  (charges the half-orcs also)
Ged:  (analyzing the situation)
Rob:  (hefts his flail and runs for the melee)
Mongo:  (catching his hammer, moves closer)  Another shot seems
  in order here!  (hurls hammer at the half-orcs manning the
  pushcart)  Uh-oh.
DM:  A 1?  You rolled a _1_?  Ha ha, a critical fumble.  On a
  thrown weapon...
Mongo:  Well at least I didn't hit myself.  There's nothing to
  worry about.

  The stray hammer missed the half-orc and struck the pushcart
device, punching a hole in it.  The strong smell of powerful
oil invaded the air, and within a half second the oil hit the
burning torch...BOOM!!
  Halbarad, not the luckiest of adventurers this day, was blown
back thirty feet.  Peyote and Rob were lightly scorched by the
blast.  Belphanior ignored it as he killed the lone orc.  The
remaining half-orcs were incinerated.

Mongo:  (catches the hammer, which is on fire)  Ouch!  (tosses
  it aside)  I need to find some water or wine or something!
DM:  (since Mongo said that he _tossed_ it aside, thinking
  about having the flaming hammer return to his hand)  Naaah...
Ged:  Halbarad needs our help again!  (moves to the ranger)
Peyote:  You're toasted pretty bad there, guy.
Rob:  (finds some herbal salve to help, and the others assist
  with magic)
Mongo:  Sorry about that.
Halbarad:  No problem, friend.  I realize that you were just
  trying to help defeat the orcspawn.
Alindyar:  You came out rather well, Halbarad.  Look at the
  half-orcs...
Halbarad:  A fate wholly deserved, no doubt.
Rob:  Let me go back to the doorway and get my backpack.  I
  dropped it when I drew my mace for battle.  (wanders off)
Peldor:  (searching the bodies for loot)
Ged:  Greedy today, are we?
Peldor:  You know it.

  Unnoticed by anyone, that slave girl, the one who liked to
scream a lot, had arrived near the doorway.  As Rob approached,
she cringed in the shadows, lurking and waiting...

Rob:  (bends over to pick up his backpack)
"girl":  (slams the priest over the head with a now-clawed hand,
  knocking him to his knees.  She moves in to strangle him, her
  features shifting into an amorphous form.)
Rob:  Uhh..

Doppleganger:  (hits Rob again)
Rob:  (staggered, but determined; grabs his magical flail and
  rises, swinging the weapon at his assailant and hitting with
  great force)  Back, evil thing!
Doppleganger:  (wounded seriously)
Ged:  (from the other room)  Hey!  What's going on out there?

Rob:  (pounds the monster again with his flail)
DM:  Hmm, Rob, a 20.
Rob:  Who can question the will of the gods?  (deals the beast a
  terrible blow, dispatching it)
Halbarad:  (just arriving with sword in hand)  What's this?
Rob:  Oh, nothing.  This strange creature tried to kill me, but
  Trithereon granted me the holy strength to repel it.  'Twas
  nothing.  Let's move on.  (heals himself)
Halbarad:  !
Mongo:  Well, at least we got rid of the bitch.
Ged:  Yea.  Her incessant screeching was really starting to piss me
  off.
Belphanior:  I was thinking about backstabbing her.
Ged:  Well, justice is served.

  They decided to go through a small door to the northwest.  They
found a lone half-orc eating some slop, three slaves confined to
one wall, and a portcullis winch.  The guard tried to flee, but
as the party was blocking the only exit, he didn't make it, and
was slain by Belphanior before anybody else had a say.  The slaves
were of course freed.  Peldor found a ring on the guard's finger
but was unable to get it without being noticed.  The group went
back out into the courtyard, and into a room to the northeast.

Halbarad:  Ho!  What's this?  (inside the small room are a pair
  of half-orcs facing each other, one of whom has a sword.  A
  winch is affixed to one wall, presumably for the other gate.
  The two half-orcs look exactly the same!)
Mongo:  Hey look!  Twins!
half-orc w/sword:  Aaaa!  Get away from me!  (turns to flee, but
  finds the exit blocked by the party)  Help!  Help!  He's not
  human!
half-orc w/o sword:  Huh?  _You're_ the impostor here, shithead!
half-orc w/sword:  He's - it's - a shapechanger!
half-orc w/o sword:  No, _he's_ the shapechanger!
Halbarad:  Huh?
Belphanior:  To hell with it.  Kill them both.
half-orc w/o sword:  (attacks the other, choking it barehanded)
half-orc w/sword:  Urk!  (CRACK!)  (neck broken, he dies)
Mongo:  Fuck this, it's too weird.  (throws hammer at the one
  survivor, happening to get a critical hit)  Ha!
half-orc w/o sword:  (dies, changing into a doppleganger)
Alindyar:  Another one of those!  Truly, they creep about this
  place like worms.
Belphanior:  And they die like worms too.
Rob:  What do we do now?
Peldor:  Isn't it obvious?  I search the bodies.  (finds some gold
  and electrum)  Bah!  (thinking about all that gold that Alindyar
  is carrying)
Alindyar:  Do not even think about it, thief.
Peldor:  Who, me?  Never!

  The party decided to leave the portculli down for now, but herded
all the slaves into the temple.  They went through a side door from
the courtyard, through a winding passage, and into a decrepit garden.

Halbarad:  There is another door across the way...
Ged:  I wonder why it's so quiet in here.

  As if on cue, sweet singing was heard from all directions.  The
mesmerizing song pervaded the adventurers' minds, enticing them to
do strange things...four creatures, half-bird, half-woman, flew
toward them.

Alindyar:  (makes his save)  Harpies...(begins spellcasting in as
  un-obvious a way as possible, to increase his chances of fooling
  the harpies into thinking he is charmed.  It works.)
Belphanior:  (fails his save)  What beautiful music...
Ged:  (easily makes his save)  Aaa!  Foul bitch vermin!  (begins to
  cast a spell)
Halbarad:  (makes his save)  Damned creatures!  Their evil song is
  most dangerous!  (begins yelling a loud war cry)
Mongo:  (makes his save)  Geez!  That's the worst music I've ever
  heard!  (draws a bead on a harpy)
Peldor:  (fails his save)  Wow, such great music...
Peyote:  (fails his save, barely)  What an eerie and powerful tune
  that is...
Rob:  (makes his save)  Uh...(begins spellcasting)

Harpies:  (chattering to various, obviously charmed party members
  in Common)
Belphanior:  Yes, that would be a _great_ idea.  (casts a color
  spray on Halbarad, in order to quiet him so that the beautiful
  music can be heard better)
Halbarad:  Aaah!  You charmed moron!  (stunned)
Mongo:  I always thought he was a moron anyway...
Ged:  (casts a spell of blindness on a harpy; it shrieks and flies
  into a wall)  There, bitch!  Boccob gives his regards!
Alindyar:  (trying to ignore suggestions while casting his spell,
  engulfs two of the harpies in a sphere of darkness)  I hope that
  clears things up between us, monsters.
some harpy:  (hissing at Peyote)
Peyote:  Ah, yes, what a fabulous accompaniment to your lovely song.
  (aims his wand of wonder at Rob, Alindyar, Ged and activates it)
Rob:  Uh-oh.
DM:  It begins to rain, and you are all soaked within seconds.
Peyote:  Awesome!  Totally awesome!
Mongo:  Enough of this bullshit.  (hurls hammer, killing a harpy)
other harpy:  (the one who was blinded; flies away into the sky)
harpy:  (one of the ones in the darkness globe, the one who was not
  used as the focus of Alindyar's spell)  (flies out, and away)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Ged:  One of them is still there, inside that darkness!

Mongo:  (sends his hammer flying into the globe of blackness,
  scoring a hit, judging by the shriek of pain heard)
Alindyar:  The sphere ceases to move.
Ged:  Maybe the bird-bitch is dead...
Mongo:  Let's find out.  (wanders into the globe)
Alindyar:  That may not be such a great idea...
Ged:  Hopefully it's dead.
Mongo:  (emerges)  The bird is dead.  I must have crushed its head
  with my blow before.
Rob:  I guess we have to wait until the charmed ones recover.
Halbarad:  (shaking off the stun effect of the color spray)  Uhh.
DM:  The rain stops.  The sun is out.
Ged:  (regarding Peldor, who is studying the wet flowers and smiling
  mindlessly all the while)
Peldor:  (wondering what happened to the beautiful music he was just
  listening to)

  The charm effect wore off momentarily.  The group went to the other
end of the garden and through the door, entering a large room empty
save for some candles.  Windows looked into the garden that they were
just in.  The adventurers made their way to another door, finding a
number of slaves.  A shadow on one wall appeared to be whipping the
slaves, and it barked in ogreish.  Pitiful screams issued from many
of the captives.

Halbarad:  Fiends!  (raises sword and curses aloud)
Belphanior:  (regards the room)  Hmm.  (to DM)  I stay back and have
  my staff of thunder and lightning ready.
DM:  (to Belphanior)  Okay.  The slaves seem to be in great pain.
Mongo:  (moves toward the mass of slaves)  Have no fear, we will
  free you.
Ged:  Kill that ogre, wherever it is!

  As they entered the chamber, the "slaves" threw off their rags and
drew concealed swords, yelling as they rushed the party.  They were
half-orcs, not humans, and their ugly faces sneered in anger.

Mongo:  An ambush!  A fucking ambush!
Halbarad:  Betrayal most foul.
Peyote:  Zounds, suckered again!
Belphanior:  (not surprised, calmly blasts the far wall with a forked
  bolt of lightning)  Stupid orc scum.
half-orcs:  (most burned to a cinder, three remain)
Mongo:  Those must be the leaders!
DM:  Mongo, Halbarad, Peyote, you all take 3d6 of residual lightning
  damage.
Mongo:  Fuck!  (hurls hammer, wiping the wall with one of the three
  villains)  That pisses me off!
Halbarad:  (he and the others quickly slay the other two opponents,
  despite their feeble attempts to melee and cast spells)
Peldor:  Treasure?
DM:  No, it all got melted.  Too bad, eh?
Peldor:  Yeah.  Oh well.

  The party found a trap door in the floor, but ignored it for now
and went back into the hall.  Three orcs had been hiding in a small
alcove to the north, casting their reflections on the wall with the
help of a lantern.  For some reason, they thought they had a chance
and attacked the party from behind, but were summarily eliminated.
There was one more room in this area, but it was charred and half-
collapsed, so they left.  Going back to the hatch, they found that
it was locked from this side.  The priests used their (waning) magic
to heal some wounds, while others used potions or simply bound their
cuts.
  Mongo lifted the hatch, and the group once again descended.  The
cursory torch was lit, and they realized that they were in the same
cavern areas as before.  Quickly, they ran along one wall, soon
passing the stairway they had used last time to get to this level.
Past this, the tunnel continued, leading into the big room that
Belphanior had blasted before.  Oddly enough, none of the various
monsters had shown up yet.

Alindyar:  Perhaps those who survived our earlier attacks have gone
  somewhere else, to protect their queen or something like that.
Halbarad:  Makes sense.
Belphanior:  Let's get out of this area and explore some other part
  of the caves, before they all come back.
Peyote:  Good plan.  (they move through the big cave, and find a
  new tunnel heading north at an odd angle.)
Mongo:  (to DM)  I examine the boards holding up the ceiling.
Halbarad:  Shall we take the north passage?
Mongo:  Let's do it.  But I have an idea.  Why don't we block it
  off, to avoid critters attacking from our back?
Ged:  Sounds good to me.  How will we do that, though?
Mongo:  This stonework is shoddy.  I think I could collapse it
  with a few seconds of destructive mining.
Peldor:  How about this:  I'll scout ahead, with someone else, and
  if it looks like there's a big complex that way, we'll go ahead
  and trash the tunnel, and go north.
Ged:  Damn.  I'm impressed.  You have a good idea there.
Alindyar:  Truly.
Peldor:  It's about time you all began to appreciate the talents
  of the future prince of thieves...(leaves with Belphanior, to
  scout the tunnel)
Ged:  Prince of thieves.  Hah!

  Soon, the thieves (thief, as far as the rest of them knew) came
back, reporting a number of forks in the passage.

Mongo:  That's all I needed to hear.  Go on up the passage, I'll
  cave it in.  (they do so, then he goes to work, with much noise
  and dust)
Ged:  His mining talents _do_ come in handy occasionally.
Halbarad:  His battle skills are more useful, though.
Mongo:  (wanders out of the cloud of dirt and grit he has created)
  Hah!  I love the smell of dust!

  The party moved on, shortly finding a fork in the tunnel.  They
chose to go left, and the smell of sewer decay soon pervaded their
nostrils.  A short stair lay ahead...Belphanior and Halbarad scouted
on, up the stairs.  At the top, they saw a room containing some slave
cages (occupied) and some humans and orcs apparently inspecting the
slaves.  The pair of adventurers retreated down the stairway and back
into the tunnel, briefing the others on the situation.  It was soon
agreed to have the magi prepare certain spells, while the warrior
types carried out a frontal assault on the room.  The spell-users
would serve as a second line of attack if need be.  Peldor's function
in the attack was uncertain.  So decided, the band invaded the slave
pens...





next time:  Slaves and slavers galore; the Slave Lord

************************************************************************
NOTES:  Halbarad sure had a mean streak there.  He tended to get that
way when orcs were concerned.  It should be obvious where boring and/or
mindless encounters were briefly summarized, for the sake of getting
this story done more quickly.  You can probably pick out the places
where the party did the unexpected, too...
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