Chapter #23

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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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   XXIII.  Empty Rooms; the Cloaker's Lair; Pursuit; Shooting Stars; Trouble



  The party defeated some hobgoblins and entered a carpeted corridor.
This new passage was shadowy and silent, and veered sharply left about
sixty feet ahead.

Mongo:  Hmm.  Pretty damn quiet in here, if you ask me.
Peyote:  Yeah.
Alindyar:  Methinks someone overcarpeted this hallway.
Rob:  It's pretty comfortable.
Halbarad:  Rob, watch it with that torch.  Don't hold it directly above
  our heads.
Belphanior:  What's that?!  (a rat scurries forth and vanishes into a
  hole in the wall before he can throw a dagger at it)  Damn.
Peldor:  Guess that means no dinner for us tonight, eh?
Ged:  Quiet, fool.

  They continued along the passage, turning left, then left again.  A
door was visible on the left wall, and the corridor went on for about
twenty feet before ending in a draped wall.  The door was swinging to
and fro as they approached.

Halbarad:  Someone cover me, I'm going in that door.  (enters the room
  beyond)  Hmm.  An empty room.  Nothing is here except old barrels
  and chests and junk.
Belphanior:  There's a fireplace.  Let's start a fire in it.
Ged:  That's an idiotic idea.  Besides, there's already one burning
  somewhere up above.
Mongo:  We haven't forgotten.
Belphanior:  There's a draft coming down this fireplace.  Smells like
  smoke, slightly.
Ged:  Why don't you climb up it or something?
Peldor:  (finds a leather pouch near the door, containing a chisel and
  hammer)  I wonder what these are for?
Mongo:  Hammer and chisel.  Usually used to shape stone.
Peldor:  I knew _that_...
Peyote:  Let's depart and move on.

  They went to the end of the corridor, and Belphanior brushed aside
the drapes there.  Beyond was a continuation of the passage, without
carpeting or drapes.  Suddenly...

Mongo:  AAAAAaaaaa.....(falls into a pit)
Ged:  Not again!
Belphanior:  (peering over the edge, into a 10' wide, 10' deep pit.
  Mongo is at the bottom groaning in pain.)  Hmph.  Should've been
  more careful.
Mongo:  Ow.
Halbarad:  Are you okay?
Mongo:  Pretty much.  I grazed a few spikes here, and have some new
  bruises, but I'll live.  Throw me a rope.
Peyote:  (lowers a rope to the dwarf)  Dude.  Let me heal you.
Mongo:  (climbing to the top of the pit)  Sure.
Peyote:  (works some healing magic on Mongo)
Mongo:  Ahh.  Much better.  My ring will take care of the rest, in
  time.  Let's go on.  But, dammit, from now on, any suspicious
  areas get checked before we walk on them.  I'm sick of falling
  into pits!
Belphanior:  Seems reasonable.
Peldor:  Stand back.  I shall leap the pit and send back a rope.
  (backs up, dashes forth and leaps over the pit, but then hits
  something above the far end and bounces back, falling into the
  pit)  Oof!
Mongo:  What the hell...!
Peldor:  Hrmph.  (gets up, brushes himself off.  Somehow, he didn't
  impale himself on any of the spikes.)  Felt like a tripwire.  (to
  DM)  I search the bottom of the pit before climbing back out, on
  the far side.  (finds nothing; rolls to climb and is successful)
DM:  Okay.  There's a thin black wire strung about four feet up, on
  the far side.
Peldor:  Not anymore.  (cuts it with his sword)  What do I see ahead?
DM:  The passage bends left.
Peldor:  Hm.  I'd better get the others across.  (he throws them a
  rope, and both ends are secured; the crossing begins.)
Belphanior:  I'll go last, and take this end of the rope with me.
  (climbs down into the pit, stepping around the spikes there)  That
  way, no one will use our own rope to follow us.
Alindyar:  'Tis a good idea.

  Soon, they were all across the pit.  Rob healed Peldor, for the
thief was somewhat bruised from his fall.  The party forged onward.

Halbarad:  The passage continues...shall we check out this door
  before continuing?
Mongo:  Sure!  Hey wait, it's locked.  (prepares to kick it down)
Belphanior:  Wait a minute.  You said that you didn't want to set
  off any more traps, right?  Well, this is an ideal location for
  one.  Let me check it out.
Mongo:  Err, okay.
Belphanior:  Let's see...No traps here.  (a lockpick appears in
  his hands)  Hmm.  Click!  There it goes.  NOW we can enter
  safely.
Mongo:  Gr.  (considering giving up his door-breaking ways)
Halbarad:  (enters the chamber, a small boxy storeroom)  This
  place is well-stocked.
Mongo:  Yup.  They have all kinds of good stuff here.  (rummaging
  through the bales and crates)
Ged:  Tools, cloth, pots and pans.  Nothing even remotely useful
  to us.  Bah.
Alindyar:  What we need is a mages' storeroom, with spellbooks,
  scrolls, and wands...
Ged:  Now that would be good.
Peyote:  Let's split.

  They left this room and continued down the corridor.  There was
another door to the left, then the passage ended in yet another door
to the west.

Belphanior:  (listening at the first new door)  Nothing.  Not that I
  can hear, anyway.  Shall we?
Peyote:  Let's.  (they enter a square room)  Phew.
Halbarad:  Something's rotting in here.
Ged:  Let's hope that it's nothing that can attack us.
Belphanior:  (looking at some huge barrel-like things standing on end
  to the south)  What are these?  Barrels?
Alindyar:  Tuns.
Rob:  Huh?
Belphanior:  Oh.  Well, they have spigots.  I wonder what's inside?
Halbarad:  (grabs the torch from Rob's hand and holds it above one
  of the containers)  Nothing.  Just water.
Peldor:  (also looking into the tuns, with his lantern)  This one's
  got a sack or something at the bottom.  Do these drains work?
Mongo:  (comes over and tries to turn the spigot and drain the water
  out of it)  Mmmh.  Won't budge.  Damn thing's busted!
Peldor:  We could dive for it...
Mongo:  Or I could smash open the barrel.  It's mostly rotten anyway.
Ged:  Let's come back later and worry about this.
Peyote:  I disagree.  We may not have a chance, once we run into some
  large pack of guards.
Rob:  (looking at some buckets nearby)
Belphanior:  (losing interest in the sack, since Peldor seems determined
  to get it, he wanders into a passage to the southeast)  I'm going to
  go check this out.
Alindyar:  I shall accompany you.  (they go south, finding a tunnel
  which ends in a deep well)  Hmm.
Belphanior:  Maybe this is the main water supply for the whole place.
  Do you think I should poison it or something?
Alindyar:  I can't see why not.  However, I can't see why either.  It
  would be a most destructive act in any case.
Belphanior:  Yeah...I'll hold off...for now.
Alindyar:  There is obviously nothing of interest here.  Let us go back.
Belphanior:  Sure thing.  (they return to the others, finding that Peldor
  has gotten the contents of the pouch - a few gold coins, a crappy gem,
  and a ring)
Ged:  Great treasure indeed.
Peldor:  Bah.
Halbarad:  I hope that you are satisfied now.  Shall we go?

  They went on, to the door at the end of the passage.

Belphanior:  I hear no noise.
Ged:  I feel uneasy.
Peyote:  As do I.
Alindyar:  Now that you mention it, something IS odd here.
Mongo:  Crap!  Just open the door!  (does so)

  Beyond was a dismal sight.  The room was large, and terraced, with a
series of raised stone platforms to either side.  A narrow passage ran
through the center of the place.  On the stone steps were huddled many
naked humans, staring blankly into space.  They were all chained to
the walls by their necks, but none seemed very inclined to escape.  A
number of cloaks and blankets adorned the walls.

Belphanior:  Slaves!
Ged:  They don't seem too happy.
Alindyar:  Who would be?
Rob:  Brr.  This room gives me the jitters.
Alindyar:  Watch out for the slaves.  Remember the other room, in
  Highport, where the "slaves" were actually slavers in disguise.
Halbarad:  There is a door on the opposite side, there.  That looks
  like a hobgoblin guard, too.  Is he asleep?
Peldor:  If so, we can change that.
Peyote:  (looking around uneasily as they slowly traverse the room)
  It's way too shadowy in here, man.
Alindyar:  What is that?  A moan...?

  A low moan filled the room just then.  Its unearthly sound struck
terror into the hearts of all present (or tried to, anyway)...

slaves:  (all cowering in the shadows)
Alindyar:  (makes his save, and is unaffected)  From whence comes
  that keening?
Belphanior:  (makes his save as well)  Yeah!  Where?
Ged:  (makes his save easily, due to high Wisdom)  Boccob's bones!
  That sound is EVIL!  (prepares magic missiles)
Halbarad:  (fails his save, and bolts for the door)  Aaaaa!
Mongo:  (makes his save)  Somebody make some light!
Peldor:  (fails his save)  Aaaaa!  (flees)
Peyote:  (makes his save)  Peldor flees in terror, I see.  (waves
  his arms about, making a spell)
Rob:  (makes his save)  Where are those two running off to?
Mongo:  Who knows?  Agh!  (suddenly, something shadowy flits about
  his head, as a different moan starts)  Agh!  I am  paralyzed!
  (he failed his save)
Cloaker:  (envelops Mongo and bites him)
Mongo:  Aaaaagh!!!  Help!
Peyote:  (casts continual light on the ceiling of the room; most of
  the shadows nearby disappear)
Alindyar:  (prepares a spell)
Ged:  Hold still there!  (blasts the cloaker with his magic missiles)
  Damn!  It's still alive!
Belphanior:  (grabs at the cloaker, trying to pry it off of Mongo)

Mongo:  (bitten again)
Belphanior:  (grips the cloaker)  Off you go.
Cloaker:  (bats Belphanior with its spiked tail)
Belphanior:  Ouch!  Okay, motherfucker!  (draws his sword)
Alindyar:  (casts a color spray at the cloaker)
Cloaker:  (fails its save miserably, and drops onto the floor)  Scrh!
Belphanior:  A-ha!  (hacks wildly at the thing)  Die, demonspawn!
Ged:  I think it's dead now.
Rob:  Peldor and Halbarad ran away...
Mongo:  (moving about weakly)
Ged:  Let me help...(heals Mongo)
Mongo:  Thanks, I owe you one.
Halbarad:  (re-enters the room)  We're back.
Peldor:  (also comes back)  Some evil spell drove us away...temporarily
  that is.
Ged:  I wouldn't believe you, except I saw the monster.  Otherwise your
  fleeing could be attributed to cowardice.
Belphanior:  (slays the dazed hobgoblin standing by the exit)  (to DM)
  I check his body for anything that looks good.
DM:  He has a few coins, and a nice cloak.
Rob:  (wanders up)  Did you find anything?
Belphanior:  (pockets the gold, but not the cloak, in time)  damn.

  Soon, everyone was ready to go.  The slaves were left here for the
time being, as they would just slow the party down.  The door opened
into a long, winding hallway, with many doors on both sides.  Rather
than open all eight of them, they instead proceeded to the ninth one,
at the end of the passage after it curved several times.  As they
listened at this door and checked for traps, a ruckus came from the
south, near the slave/cloaker room.  Some wandering guards had seen
the party and were raising a local alarm.

hobgoblins:  (beating on doors as they advance on the party; they are
  about a hundred feet away.  Others come from the rooms and join them
  as the whole mass runs toward the adventurers.)  Intruders!  Kill!
  Maim!  Hack!  Slay!
Rob:  Uh-oh!
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at one of the lead attackers, now a mere
  seventy feet away)  I'll never get them all in time.
Alindyar:  We need a lighting bolt.
Belphanior:  I have my staff...
Mongo:  (catches his bloody hammer)
Ged:  No!  Boccob has told me, it's MY turn now!  Let me to the rear
  of the party!  (dashes out, facing the oncoming horde)  Go back,
  yonder fools!  I have the power!
hobgoblins, orcs, half-orcs, humans, etc.:  AARGH!  ELF!  KILL!
Ged:  Don't say I didn't try...(brandishes his hand, with the ring
  he found in Highport; magical energy fires off down the passage,
  eliminating all of the guards in an inferno of destruction.  All
  of the doors are blasted off of their hinges, and there is silence
  from that direction.)  Boccob shouts for vengeance!  Hah!  What
  power I have found!
Peyote:  Chill out, man.
Belphanior:  Where can I get one of those rings?
Halbarad:  So much for subtlety.
Peldor:  I hear noises behind this door.
Rob:  What's that odor?
Mongo:  Smells like roasting meat.  Halbarad, open the door.  I'll
  stand ready with my hammer (raises the hammer)
Halbarad:  Check.  (opens the door ahead)

  Beyond the final door was a huge squarish room, about fifty feet to
a side and over forty feet high.  It was a kitchen; the center of the
chamber was a large fire pit, with the immense carcass of a roasting
lizard turning slowly on a chain.  The room was otherwise filled with
crates and kegs, and some humans...

tall man:  (black-skinned, about 7' tall, wearing a helm with no holes
  for his eyes)  Fire!
others:  (three red-bearded barbarians)  Aye!  (hurl axes at the party)
tall man:  Fire!  (ducks behind a huge barrel near the firepit)

  To either side of the door, hobgoblins arose from their cover of kegs
and boxes, and hurled axes at the party also.

Mongo:  Fuck!  Ambush!  (hit by several axes)  Augh!
Halbarad:  (hit by one axe, for minor damage)  Move into the room!
Mongo:  (he and the ranger enter the room)  Damn!
barbarians:  (duck behind tables)

Belphanior:  (hurdles some barrels and slices into the hobgoblins)  Die
  a bloody death, slaver scum!
hobgoblin:  (slashed mortally)  Agh...(dies)
Peyote:  (slips on his ring, goes invisible)
tall man:  (behind the huge barrel, kicks it toward the party)
Mongo:  Yah!  There's a big barrel rolling our way!
Halbarad:  (dodges to the side)  Whoa...
Mongo:  Uh-oh!  (not quick enough to get out of the way, the dwarf is
  run over by the barrel)
Rob:  (he and Ged are in the third rank)  Aaa!  (they back up, as the
  barrel slams against the doorway and shatters with a wet crunching
  sound)  I'm all wet!
Alindyar:  Enough of this foolishness.  Into the room!  (starts spell
  preparation)
Ged:  (likewise)
Rob:  (casts a blessing on the party)
Peldor:  (trying to get into the room)  Out of my way!
tall man:  (advances on Halbarad)

  From behind the tables, the barbarians emerged once more...but they
had undergone a change.  No longer human, they were now in some sort
of were-form.  Frothing tusks and sweaty snouts ready, the wereboars
bore down on the party from a different direction.  Simultaneously,
the hobgoblins near the door drew swords and clambered over their
crates, while two others in the rear of the room lit oil flasks and
grinned evilly.

Halbarad:  Oh shit.





next time:  Battle; the dungeons.

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NOTES:  As I write this, I am sick with a cold and not feeling well at
all.  So excuse any grammar or continuity errors - I wouldn't be at all
surprised if I have the flu...
  As I said, part 25 will have some blurbs of information at the end,
concerning backgrounds, interests, high (and low) points of the eight
adventurers, major items retained, etc.
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