Chapter #21

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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, A2, 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, 6th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 4th/4rd/5th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 5th/5th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Halbarad, 6th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 6th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 7th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 5th/5th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
Rob, 6th level human priest of Trithereon (LG)
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                     XXI.  A Commotion of Sorts



  The party was trudging through a mud patch in the middle of the
night when a large worm-like beastie burst forth and attacked...

Rob:  (hit in the face by mud)  Augh!  Ptui!
Halbarad:  Hark!  Monster!  (to DM)  I charge...err, plod toward the
  thing.
Ged:  (splashed by mud from the monster's emergence)  Damn!
Belphanior:  (bares his sword and moves to the combat)
Rob:  (draws his mace and moves in)  I can help...
Peyote:  Dude.  That's one big worm!  (moves in on it)
Peldor:  (on the flying carpet with Alindyar)  Hmm.  Good thing we
  decided to stay up here.  (hurls a dagger at the opponent)
Alindyar:  (readying a spell)  I much prefer combat from such a
  wonderful vantage point as this.
Ged:  (finding that it's hard to dig through a muddy backpack with
  much grace)  Boccob damn it all!  (muttering)  Now where in the
  Hells did I put those material components anyway?
Mongo:  Shit!  This plate mail I'm wearing isn't helping here.
  Good thing that I don't need to close with the monster to fight
  it...
Anhkheg:  (shrieks, and chomps Halbarad)
Halbarad:  Aaaugh!  I am bitten!  (hurled aside by the thing)

Belphanior:  Take this, burrower of shit.  (slashes the worm,
  dealing it a grievous wound)  Haha!
Rob:  Yes, take this too!  (swings but misses with his own weapon)
Peyote:  For Halbarad!  (hacks the worm with his bastard sword,
  chopping off a portion of its head)  Yeah!
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at the monster, crushing its skull with
  a sickening wet sound...)  Yah!  Again I am victor!
Rob:  I thought your name was Mongo.
Belphanior:  (casually trips Rob)
Rob:  (slips and falls into the mud)  Whoops!  Glub glub...
Ged:  That wasn't nice at all.  Boccob frowns upon such as you.
Belphanior:  Heh heh.  Let him frown then.  Heh.  Stupid priest.
Mongo:  (chuckling, catches his hammer)
Anhkheg:  (thrashing about in death throes)  rrrrr
Alindyar:  I see that I don't have to expend any magical energy.
  Just as well.  There may be some better use for it in the near
  future, anyhow.  Methinks we made too much noise here.
Peldor:  Hey, let's fly over the gate instead of under it.  That
  looks like a courtyard beyond anyway.  We'll wait for them there.
Alindyar:  An intriguing idea.  Let us go.  (they do, flying off
  into the wild black yonder)
Halbarad:  (pulling himself out of the mud, at the far side of the
  patch)  @$^#%&*!  Here is a portcullis, wedged open.  Shall we
  go for it?  (the others on foot come through the mud)
Peyote:  (wiping brown mud from his armor)  Let's.
Anhkheg:  (dying)  rrrrrRR...
Belphanior:  That thing sure is taking its time dying.
Ged:  (robes coated with slimy mud)  Damn.  I'm a royal mess now.
  The holy vestments have been soiled.
Belphanior:  You pissed in your pants?!?!?
Ged:  Hardly, fool!  It's this cursed slop.  Oh well.  I can always
  have some new clothes made later.  (dismounts from his stone horse
  after crossing the mud.)
Rob:  Mud doesn't taste good at all.  Ptui!
Belphanior:  Any better than acid, Rob?  Haha..
Rob:  Not really.  Oof!  (can't lift the gate up)  This is heavy.
Mongo:  Gimme that gate.  (raises the old iron gate slowly, using
  his powerful stubby arms)  Someone pull one of these crates over
  here to hold this sucker up.
Halbarad:  Done.  Say, there sure is a lot of junk here.
Anhkheg:  (dies, emitting a loud, high keening)  rrrrrRRRRRRRRR!
Peyote:  Uh-oh!

  Cries could be heard from the surrounding battlements.  It seemed
that the battle with the worm had caused a little too much commotion.
Archers appeared on the ledges, their forms barely visible with the
faint moonlight from the sky above.  The once-quiet stockade was now
filled with the noises of activity, and battle...

Ged:  Great!  We've really done it now!
Belphanior:  It'll be okay.  We've always got my staff, and Peyote's
  wand, and...
Peyote:  Aye!  Wand of wonder!  Wand of Wonder!
Rob:  The chant begins...
Halbarad:  Oh, no.  No...
Ged:  That's just what we need.  Make a bad situation worse still
  with idiotic magic weapons!  (an arrow thunks into the ground
  near the grey elf)  Damn!
Mongo:  (tosses his hammer at some shadowy figure on some shadowy
  wall)  Let's get to cover!  How about through that arch there?
Halbarad:  Sounds like a good plan at this point!  (several arrows
  whiz by)  The sooner the better!!
Mongo:  Yah!  (runs for the dark tunnel going through to the just
  barely visible courtyard beyond, as an arrow bounces off of his
  plate mail)
Peyote:  Whoa!  Let's book!

  The group headed for the supposed safety of the passage, which was
more shelter from the growing hail of arrows than the mudpatch they
had fought the worm in.  They dashed in, skirting barrels, chests,
bales of hay, and other convenient obstructions.  A parade ground was
visible beyond, then an archway appearing to go into the main keep
area.  There was no time for pause, though...

Rob:  (moving through the tunnel, something wet and sticky drips
  down onto him from above)  What the...?!
Halbarad:  Ware!  There are guards above!
guard above:  Die, intruders!  (pours oil through a small, aptly
  named murder hole above the adventurers' heads, followed by a
  flaming brand)  Hahahahahah!  (the passage fills with flame and
  smoke, lighting the black tunnel)
Belphanior:  Bastard!  (stabs his sword point upward into the narrow
  slit, possibly hitting the guard beyond)
Halbarad:  Let's get the hell into that courtyard!  Is anybody on fire?
Rob:  Not me.
Ged:  Nor I.  All this garbage in the passage is though.  Quit blabbing
  and move!  I have plans for the rest of my life, and being incinerated
  in some humanoids' fortress isn't going to help further them.
Mongo:  (bringing up the rear, since he had to catch his returning war
  hammer)  Damn guards!  Hey, move it up there!  It's hot in here!
Peyote:  Miraculous.  No one's aflame.  Not even Rob.  I don't believe
  it.  (looks in disdain at his clothes, which are smoking)  Aaa!
Belphanior:  We're smoldering in here!
Halbarad:  Truly.  (emerges into the parade ground)  Yie!  (arrows are
  sailing all around this side of the tunnel)  Where's that elf on the
  carpet?!  We need air support!  (an arrow nicks the ranger)  Ouch!
Peyote  (also emerges, and surveys the situation)  Say, we're pretty
  well lit here with the fire to our backs, dont'cha think??
Halbarad:  Shut up.


In the air...

Alindyar:  (up in the sky with Peldor, watching the business below)  I
  think we are needed, rogue.
Peldor:  Aw, do we have to?  It looks so much better from up here.
Alindyar:  Hold still there.  (readying a spell)
Peldor:  Hey, what are you going to do?
Alindyar:  Just some obscurement...(casts a wall of fog near the party
  members on the ground, shielding them somewhat from arrow fire)  That
  should hinder their fire a bit.
Peldor:  Get the bowmen!  They're the real problem.
Alindyar:  I do not possess many offensive spells, human.  My strengths
  lie in subtlety and concealment magic.
Peldor:  I can relate to that.  Well, do something!  They have nowhere
  to run down there!
Alindyar:  Well, there is my newest incantation...hmm...


On the ground...

Halbarad:  (on the ground, with the others)  Fog!  Those in the air
  are with us!
Rob:  (peering into the air)  I don't see them anywhere.
Halbarad:  They are with us, boy.
Peyote:  I wouldn't be too sure of that.  Peldor might push the drow
  off the carpet and fly away.
Ged:  He'd better not.  I'll make him pay for that myself if he does.
Belphanior:  I don't know about you guys, but I'm heading for that
  archway into the main keep.  Coming?
Halbarad:  Certainly.  (they all start running for the arch, about
  sixty feet away.  The fog helps, but they still get peppered with
  arrows)  Orc's blood!  Will we never be rid of these archers?!


In the air...

Alindyar:  I wonder where the best location for this missile is?
Peldor:  I don't know.  How powerful is it?
Alindyar:  Fairly.  Maybe the main gate...?
Peldor:  Well, I-  (hit in the leg by a feathered shaft)  Ouch!
Alindyar:  (narrowly missed by another arrow or two)  Those on the
  ledge there have spotted us.
Peldor:  Hit them then!
Alindyar:  Well, that second floor of the keep that they stand upon
  is made of wood, and 'tis a big target...(waves his hands)

  Almost on cue with Halbarad's last shouted question, there was a
tremendous explosion.  Not just measly, as with Ged's magic missiles,
or powerful, as with Belphanior's flame spheres.  No, this burst of
magical energy was strong enough to shake the ground and momentarily
blind and deafen all within the stockade.  One moment, the upper
portion of the keep was home to a dozen bow-wielding hobgoblins; the
next, it was ablaze with a huge fireball.  Tongues of flame licked
out in all directions, and some spattered down onto the ground far
below, as the party's most skilled mage worked his wizardry.

Halbarad:  Holy...
Peyote:  DUDE!
Ged:  Boccob's ears!  What a blast!
Rob:  (watching globs of burning matter raining down all around)
Mongo:  The drow did that?!  Wow!
Belphanior:  (thinking about the day when he, too, will be able to
  cast such a spell)
Halbarad:  Let's get into that keep!  This part looks to be made of
  stone, it probably won't burn for some time.
Ged:  Hold on one moment.  Let me get this right.  You want us to
  follow you into the bottom of a burning keep?
Belphanior:  We won't ever get a chance to do something like this
  again.
Peyote:  You never know, with this group...
Mongo:  We can't go anywhere else, dammit!  They're still firing
  arrows at us, in case you haven't noticed!  Let's go in and fight
  slavers until the whole place burns to the ground!
Halbarad:  (to DM)  What are the chances of running back the way we
  came?
DM:  Well, considering that you don't know the way out from here,
  and the gatehouse and curtain wall are swarming with guards, and
  the main fortress walls are as well, you'd probably be toast.
Ged:  Wonderful.  Either way we go, we're screwed.  Pincushions or
  toast.
Mongo:  I'm going in.  Is anybody coming?
Belphanior:  I'm with you, friend. (they move toward some sort of
  inner courtyard to the south)
Halbarad:  I will go in as well.  This is a matter of do or die now.
Peyote:  And I.  But I'll use my wand as many times as I can before
  I am slain!  (several more arrows land nearby, one in the half-elf's
  shoulder)  Aaa!  (flees southward)
Rob:  (looking at Ged)  You know, I think this is a _fabulous_ chance
  for death in service to our deities...
Ged:  I suppose we do stand a better chance in there than against all
  these arrows.  (They go in.  The burning keep floor above smokes
  away into the night sky, as the idiotic hobgoblins and other guards
  try in vain to put it out)


in the air...

Peldor:  Good call.  DAMN good call.
Alindyar:  Thank you.  That was my single most destructive spell.
Peldor:  No kidding.  Look, the party has fled indoors.
Alindyar:  No matter.  We shall just sail down there and follow them.
Peldor:  Sail?
Alindyar:  (Guides the carpet downward, braving arrows and flaming
  debris.  Once on the ground, they made a run for the inner courtyard,
  both taking an arrow in the process.)


on the ground...

  Through the second arch was an enclosed courtyard, with small bushes
and trees.  A round stone fountain stood alone in its center, with
some dirty water inside.  Some wooden double doors were visible to the
south, at the end of the courtyard, as the party dashed through this
place.  Mongo peered into the water as they passed by.

Halbarad:  (in the lead again)  Head for those doors!
Mongo:  (noticing that the mud all over him has dried and restricts his
  free movement)  Hey!  I'm gonna use the fountain here for a second.
Belphanior:  Fine.  We don't want to watch you go to the bathroom.
Mongo:  No, I'm rinsing mud away.  Blub blub...
Rob:  (Also leaps into the fountain, then hops out, soaking wet)  Hey!
  That water's cold!  (shivering)
Ged:  Stupid moron.
Peldor:  Hey!  (further back)  We're back!
Alindyar:  Indeed.  Let us get inside before it it too late.
Halbarad:  Beware!  Something blocks the way at the doors!
Belphanior:  Not for long!  (charges)

  Two giant apes bounded out from the trees, growling fiercely at the
obvious dinner items in front of them.  However, the adventurers were
not really in the mood, and with the help of a warhammer, a bastard
sword, a battle axe, and two longswords, soon the apes weren't either.
Ged knock-ed open the thick wooden doors, and the group burst into
the middle point of a long corridor going left and right.  They then
slammed the doors shut, re-barred them, visually secured their new
surroundings, and set about binding and healing wounds.  Soon, arrows
and arrow fragments were scattered about the floor, but the party was
now ready to go on.





next time:  The innards of the stockade; the dungeon below

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NOTES:  The party had this thing about fire.  I know not why, but they
definitely had a high pyromaniac content.  Alindyar found a quite
practical use for his newly-gained spell, and Belphanior's player
applauded him the whole way.  As should be obvious above, I had to
provide a push to get them into the keep.  This is excusable, since
the whole ground floor of the place was stone, not wood, and the arrow
fire was fairly heavy.  Ad-libs often were done, although the decision
made wasn't always the best one.
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