Chapter #236

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic II      +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    Due to the nature of the Internet, these stories have been     +
+  widely available since 1991.  I have given them to the world     +
+  freely, and have never intended to market them or in any way     +
+  make money.  However, due to TSR, Inc.'s copyright restrictions, +
+  old episodes of the Adventurers are no longer being archived on  +
+  any ftp site anywhere.                                           +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1995 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 (or more accurately, a fragment of it):                +
+                                                                   +
+  Arnold       12th level human warrior                      (NG)  +
+  Ged          14th/14th level grey elven priest/mage        (NG)  +
+     Nenya     8th/9th level female elven warrior/mage       (NG)  +
+  Mongo        17th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+     Gorin      8th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+  Bosco        10th level halfling thief                     (CN)  +
+   Date:    7/27/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:    midday                                                 +
+   Place:   the Suss Forest                                        +
+   Climate: mild                                                   +
+   "It doesn't make a bit of sense to me, and I'm getting out.     +
+    I'm alive and I want to remain with the living, understand?    +
+    And when I'm dead, I want to remain with the dead, and I       +
+    would be unhappy if somebody living forced me to remain with   +
+    the living!  I hope that's clear."                             +
+                                 - from "For a Few Dollars More"   +

                  CCXXXVI.  The Suel Lich

  Having made a highly successful foray into the Lost City of the
Sueloise, Ged, Mongo, and the others are headed back to Greyhawk.
Unbeknownst to anyone, however, trouble is brewing...

Mongo:  (riding alongside the lead wagon)  Awfully sunny day...
Bosco:  (thoroughly happy)  Yep!
Nenya:  After that mighty rain, this is a blessing.
Arnold:  Yah, a blesdink.
Ged:  I can't wait to get back to Greyhawk and study my new
Bosco:  You mean _our_ treasures.
Ged:  ...yea.
Gorin:  How long should it take us to reach the city, anyway?
Ged:  About two weeks, barring anything unusual happening...
Lightbringer:  (speaks quietly but firmly to Ged)  By the gods!
Ged:  What?
Lightbringer:  An undead...of surpassing power lurks nearby!
Ged:  (looking around wildly, he sees nothing except the various
  guards, miners, and porters)  Where?
Lightbringer:  I know not, but it's somewhere near the back of the
Ged:  Okay, we'll drop back and have a look.  Quietly, mind you.
Lightbringer:  Not in-
Ged:  _Quietly_.
Lightbringer:  (falls silent)

  Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the elf slowed his mount, falling
back as he let the wagons roll by at a faster pace.  Lightbringer
tingled with power at his side.

Lightbringer:  Closer...we're getting closer...
Ged:  Hmm.

  As they continued to drop back, the sentient morningstar became
somewhat calmer.

Lightbringer:  The foul one is farther now...
Ged:  But we're behind the entire caravan!
Lightbringer:  Which means that-
Ged:  -the thing is _within_ my caravan!

  Just then, amidst the guards riding alongside the wagons, and
still practically invisible to Ged and Lightbringer, one guard in
particular cocked his head.  This action displayed, to those who
rode nearby, a face covered in unnaturally crinkled skin.

guard:  (its eyes glow darkly, as it mutters to itself in some alien
  tongue)  Ryfla ncnuaomyfk ghsy, spoltjh knwoq.
other guard:  Huh?

  Pointing its fingers in the air and gesticulating wildly, the odd
guard (or whatever it had become) began a low, dreadful keening.

guard-thing:  OoooOOOOOOOOOO...

  Everyone in the caravan reeled in pain, and then various people
and horses began dropping to the ground, eyes blank and mouths
foaming blood.  Though none of the adventurers suffered this fate,
numerous guards, miners, and especially porters did, as well as a
couple of the horses.

Ged:  (looks shocked)  I know that sound!  That's the wail of a
Lightbringer:  Yes...but I sense no groaning spirit here.

  Elsewhere, at the front of the caravan...

Mongo:  (whirls around)  What the hell was that noise?!?
Bosco:  (still shivering)  Sounded like a howl of pain...from
  someone who's in great despair.
Gorin:  (eyeing the lone guard, whose nearby fellows have either
  died or fled)  Don't look now, but I think we have a candidate.
Arnold:  Aaa?  (he spins about, sword at the ready)  Aaa!
Nenya:  (already spellcasting)  I don't know _what_ that is, but
  I know how to deal with it.

  Meanwhile, near the back of the caravan...

Ged:  (realizes that the strange-looking caravan guard emitted the
  deathly howl)  Boccob!
Lightbringer:  Behold, the foul abomination!  Quickly, slay it!
Ged:  Spells, my friend.  (he begins spellcasting)  My spells are
  the answer.
Lightbringer:  I think not.
Ged:  (much to his shock, he finds his right arm lifting itself,
  and Lightbringer)  What?!?
Lightbringer:  (emits a blazing ray of sunlight, directly at the

  The shriveled thing that used to be a guard cringed as the bright
sunlight surrounded it.  Outer layers of its skin peeled away like
dried parchment, and the thing, whatever it was, shrieked in pain.
The caravan guards backed away in amazement and awe, and perhaps a
sense of self-preservation.

Lightbringer:  (yelling toward the foe)  Die!
Ged:  (still not sure why he raised the morningstar in the first
  place)  Die?
thing:  (leaps to one side, escaping the sun-ray)  Yrgsnsoth!  (it
  looks at Ged hatefully, then points at the elf)  Swp.
Ged:  (finds himself stunned, and falls to the ground)
Lightbringer:  (rolls aside)  What?!?  Pick me up!  Carry on the
  fight!  What are you doing?
thing:  (cackles in triumph)

  Just then, Stormcrest smacked into the creature's back, nearly
snapping its spine (and stopping the cackling, too.)

thing:  Tsinviha!  (it spins about, and finds itself facing the
  charging Arnold and Gorin)
Nenya:  (completes her spell, and five magical missiles pummel the
  foe, staggering it)  Hah!
thing:  Kdls...
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Got him good, didn't I?
Nenya:  It.
Mongo:  Huh?
Nenya:  It's an "it".
Mongo:  Whatever.
Arnold:  (bearing down on the foe)  Ah-nold is coming to chob you
  in two!
Gorin:  And Gorin too, to chop you in four...
thing:  (waves one hand)  Chbra.

  Suddenly, about two dozen black, rubbery tentacles appeared all
around the two charging warriors.  Arnold and Gorin stopped short,
but were still snared by several tentacles apiece.

Arnold:  Aaa!
Gorin:  Shit!
Mongo:  Double shit!  (he hurls his hammer again, and nearly takes
  the thing's head off with the blow)  Yeah!
thing:  (reels, bleeding from various smashed areas of its body)
  Vdfihsdhi fihciay, snsus nsou knwee.  (it looks around wildly)

  Some of the guards and miners took this opportunity to launch
or fire missiles at the creature.  Though a brave effort, it was
also a futile one, for every single arrow and dagger rebounded
from some invisible shield.  The thing ignored the attacks anyway,
but they caused Mongo to refrain from another hammer-throw for a
few moments - and this proved costly.

thing:  Spxnfus nknurs.  (it gestures in Mongo's direction)

  Suddenly, a downpour of green droplets pelted the dwarf, and
worse, everything within twenty feet of him.  This included several
guards, miners, and porters, and two wagons and their horses as
well.  The thick green droplets immediately began to burn, sizzling
their victims' flesh and dissolving their armor.

guard:  AaaaaAAAARGH!  (dies)
porter:  YieeeEEEEE!  (dies)
horses:  (several of them stamp about in pain)
Mongo:  Argh!  (he recoils, but finds that he can't run or dodge
  the acidic rain)  Ow!  Urgh!  Arg!  Shit!
Nenya:  (caught in the very edge of the dangerous downpour, she
  quickly steps to the right, away from Mongo, and only gets a
  few drops on her)  What foul sorcery is this?  (she begins her
  next spell)

  At this point, Ged was stunned, while Arnold and Gorin were
trapped by black tentacles.  Mongo was writhing under the agonizing
acidic rain, and didn't seem to be able to flee from its area of
effect.  The guards, miners, etc. were either dead, fled, or taking
cover somewhere.

Nenya:  (casts Plant Growth at the foe's feet)  Maybe this will
  slow it down.
thing:  (stares down at its feet)  Umsojhhs?  (stares at Nenya)
  Qkojmsu nodh!  (it points at the maiden)  Vrbmskh!
Nenya:  (fails to resist the powerful spell, and begins babbling
  idiotically)  Blrrrrb...
thing:  (surveys the area, appearing pleased)  Fckngxclnt.

  Suddenly, an invisible form swooped down from the skies above,
stabbing the lich-thing in the head with a now-visible shortsword!

Bosco:  Take THAT!  (his sword goes right through one of the thing's
  eyes, and out the back of its head)
thing:  RRRRRRRRNGH!  (it cavorts wildly, shrieking in agony)
Bosco:  Whoa!  (he flies backwards, his sword torn from his grasp)
  Hey, I know it's bad to be possessed - trust me, I've been there -
  but you didn't have to take my SWORD!

  The thing was reeling and staggering about, ignoring the halfling
as black flames sprayed from its remaining eye.  Its skin was now
cracking and flaking from its body, and as the halfling watched in
fascination, larger pieces of the creature began to break off.

Bosco:  Wowee...
thing:  (looks around frantically as its left arm falls to the
  ground)  Trsmodhy!
Bosco:  (uses his ring of x-ray vision to try and see what's inside
  the dying foe, without success)  Hmph!
thing:  (crumples to the ground in four or five different pieces)
Bosco:  (retrieves his sword, and pokes it at the dissolving remains
  of the thing)  And good riddance!

  With that, the halfling turned to his companions.  Since Ged and
Nenya seemed okay, if helpless, and Mongo was basically unreachable,
Bosco decided to help Arnold and Gorin.  Gingerly sidestepping those
black tentacles that hadn't grabbed anything or anybody yet, he
picked up sticks and branches from the ground, and tossed them at
the tentacles.  This had the effect of neutralizing any threat the
remaining ebon tentacles might have posed, as they attempted to
crush the sticks instead of seeking live prey.  Whistling loudly,
Bosco began sawing at the ones currently entrapping the warriors.

Arnold:  (still held by three tentacles, he yet lives on, and has
  already hacked away two others that had grasped him)  Ah-nold!
Gorin:  (held by four tentacles, he lives, but can't escape)  Err,
  I could use some help here.
Bosco:  Coming right up.  (he considers picking the dwarf's pockets
  but decides against it)

  By the time Bosco had helped the two warriors free themselves,
Ged was no longer stunned.  With a mere glance, he had determined
Nenya was in no inherent danger, and was extracting his decanter
of endless water to blast Mongo free of his acid entombment.

Ged:  (eyeing Mongo)  Acid rain...must be a long-lost Sueloise
  spell.  (he aims the decanter at his friend, and fires a powerful
  stream of water at him)
Mongo:  (cursing and yelling, he is pushed back from the zone of
  acidic rain, and drops onto the ground, his armor pitted and his
  skin smoking from many wounds)  Argh...
Bosco:  Ow.  That hurts just to _look_ at.
Ged:  Healing magic will be necessary...(he takes a few minutes to
  prepare a powerful spell for Nenya)
Bosco:  (looks on curiously)  What are you doing, anyway?
Ged:  My apprentice has been feebleminded - a situation you aren't
  unfamiliar with, I'm sure.
Bosco:  Huh?
Ged:  It will take mighty magic, such as only Boccob can provide,
  to cure Nenya's condition.  (he casts his spell)
Bosco:  Oh.  (he wanders away)

  Mongo was quite wounded, and his regenerative powers didn't seem
to work on the acid burns.  Thus, Ged had to use several spells to
alleviate the dwarf's pain, but the task was not impossible.  As
for Arnold and Gorin, they seemed relatively unharmed from the
battle.  The guards and porters were another matter; at least half
of the hirelings were dead or gone.

Ged:  Boccob...I can't help them all.
Bosco:  Especially the ones who ran away.
Mongo:  (sits up in pain) happy...some of us lived.
Lightbringer:  Bah.  I would have smashed that lich if-
Ged:  Lich, you say?
Lightbringer:  Most definitely.  It was unlike any lich I've ever
  seen before.  Perhaps it escaped from that lost city.
Ged:  Hmm.
Arnold:  Is it dead?
Ged:  I should hope so.

  Unnoticed by any of the adventurers, a faint black wisp of energy
had emerged from the remains of the lich's body, quickly vanishing
into the depths of the Suss.

  Fortunately for all, primarily Ged, the magical items and price-
less artworks recovered from the lost city had been safe in Mongo's
portable hole.  Not so with the supplies kept in the two ruined
wagons - these had been demolished by the acidic rain.  Despite
the losses, Ged decided to press on for Greyhawk; there wasn't any
other choice, really.

Ged:  Besides, we should be able to deal with anyone who attacks
Mongo:  I pity the fool who attacks us.

  Thus, they continued their journey toward Greyhawk and Ged's
lands, leaving behind a section of forest pitted with acid burns
and marked with dead bodies and signs of battle.

next time :  wrapping up Ged's quest

notes     :  Sorry for what became yet another long delay between
  stories.  Between the writing of parts 235 and 236, a very happy
  relationship devolved into minor girlfriend troubles, then total
  breakup (her doing) with friendship, and now, finally, something
  not too far from loathing and hatred.  It's amazing how it all
  happened, and it really upset me for a while...but it's over now,
  and I won't be looking back.  Remember Paula as a happy, carefree,
  and somewhat inexperienced child, as her namesake was in #200-212.
  I hope she finds whatever it is she's looking for.

    On a happier are some more fan letters; this time
  we're dealing with the recent run of stories (226-234) aka Ged's

>> It's good enough.  Transition stories (ie 226) are never terribly
>> thrilling compared to the climaxes (ie 225).  But what can you do?
>> You just start over and build up the next part of the storyline.
>> Making every episode an exciting one would mean some pretty goofy
>> plots.


>> Inserting Bosco as a "stow-away" was a neat idea.
>> Have you though of perhaps having:
>> a) Alindyar and Lyra show up a a particularly delicate/desperate
>>    moment?
>> b) Have Ged do all this exploring, only to find Alyndiar and Lyra
>>  sorely pressed somewhere within the dungeon......
>> Also, is it me, or is Ged getting mighty big for his britches...?
>> Regards,
>>       Tom

  No, I prefer not to have others show up during certain adventurers'
"solo" stories.  It'll almost never happen.  As for Ged, yes, his great
intellect is matched only by his ego.  Put yourself in his position -
he _does_ have a lot to be cocky about.

>> One thing I would do in the next adventure is detail some of the
>> mining and digging that's going on.  I think Ged, while mostly
>> interested in finding powerful items, also considers this an
>> archeological expedition, and would be conducting excavation as
>> well as the search for new treasure.

>> I like the idea of the letters page.
>> Anyway, in the notes section somebody reminded you of Nenya and I was
>> wondering whether Arnold decided to bring the Page along too.  Any
>> chance of Nenya's stats?  Is she a wizard/priest like Ged?  Or a
>> warrior/priest since she seems to have a longsword.  Or even better
>> a warrior/wizard/priest?  Can't remember whether she's an elf or
>> half-elf.  Besides it'll be fun with some new characters.
>> Denby

  The page Calvin?  No way, we can't have _him_ running around in the
dungeons.  Bosco alone is bad for Nenya, her stats will be
posted soon, along with everyone else's (again).  For now, I'll tell
you that she's a warrior/mage, tends to specialize in magic unlike that
of Ged, and fights with a vorpal sword.

>>   Thomas - I just thought I'd drop you a line to say how much I
>> enjoy "the adventurers", and congratulate you on the ever-improving
>> quality of the writing.  I especially liked that Halloween episode!
>> I must say I also admire the way you have managed to keep
>> challenging a group of powerful characters - although playing both
>> sides helps there, I'm sure :).  I'm keen to see more of these
>> individual/small group adventures; it seems that most parties start
>> to develop divergent interests when they get to these levels, and
>> don't need to cluster together for sheer survival; and the person-
>> alities in this group come into enough conflict to make it almost
>> inevitable.  I'd love to see a good thief adventure, with Peldor and
>> Bosco and Belphanior - maybe Bel decides to rip off the city of
>> Greyhawk to repay them for his losses?  But what would Peldor do if
>> he was caught - since he's trying to get a respectable front going?
>> Or is Peldor planning a crime wave in other cities, run remotely from
>> a secure base in Greyhawk?  Or is he <<shudder>> going legit?
>>  Andrew

  Glad you liked all the recent material.  I think that the way to
keep high-level characters in line is to steer clear of combat as much
as possible.  Of course, I'm writing these to entertain, so there must
always be some degree of combat, but still...
  Belphanior robbing the city of Greyhawk?  That's a bit extreme, but
I can say that he will eventually exact some revenge for what they did
to him.  I can also say that Peldor will _not_ be involved in this plot
in any way.
  As for Peldor going may be surprised by his actions in
his own solo adventures.  These will happen after Alindyar & Lyra's,
which will happen beginning with episode 238.

>> Have you ever considered an all-henchman adventure? I'm not sure I
>> would want to see them as a whole series but one or two adventures
>> of the henchman might be interesting.
>> Paul

  Paul, you're not the first to suggest something like this.  We did
get to see Gorin and Bosco in action, in episode #176.  Such a thing
could happen again.  Everyone should bear in mind that Lyra and Arnold
aren't really true henchmen/henchwomen anymore, though - and they
definitely wouldn't appreciate being treated as such.

>>   Is it just me, or is Ged sometimes _jealous_ of Nenya?  I have
>> noticed this ever since she made her first adventuring appearance.
>> Ged seems to gloat when she does something _really_ good (like the
>> light pebbles), but generally seems to act like she is stepping on
>> his territory.
>>   Still, once again she asserts herself when Ged is too hoity-toity
>> to dirty his hands in the mud....
>>   The juggernaut last time proved to be too much for the party.  It
>> may be the same this time, too.  In any event, the battle to come
>> promises to be an interesting read....
>>   Another note of interest: if I remember rightly, last time, one of
>> the things the party found beyond the juggernaut was a dragon.  There
>> are at least two which are still not taken into account....(Cynder is
>> _still_ on the loose, and there is the black dragon which attacked
>> the balloon ship.  Of course, there is also the lich/demi-lich that
>> was summoned during that same era.......)
>> In any event, I look forward to reading the next one.
>> Regards,
>>       Tom

  Ged's treatment of Nenya is typical of his personality.  By the time
you read this, you'll know the outcome of the juggernaut battle.  The
dragon you mention was actually in the Sueloise dungeon under the Sea
of Dust.  Yes, Cynder is still on the loose - we haven't seen the last
of him by a long shot.  The black dragon which attacked the sky-balloon
was simply used to illustrate that you can't fly around the world and
not attract attention.  Frankly, I'd be surprised if that particular
dragon made an appearance again.

>> Bravo.  Well done -- I was looking forward to that combat, and
>> really enjoyed the way you handled it.  You know, if Ged and
>> company put their minds to it (a few elementals, a few move earth
>> spells, and few hundred miners), they could excavate most of the
>> city.  While the treasure potential drops off once they leave the
>> main building, they (well, Ged) might do it just for the archaeo-
>> logical value.  Even if it takes 10 years, what does an elf care?
>> He could administer the site from Greyhawk (teleport in 1/week) and
>> become popular with the academic types.
>> Just an idea.
>> What if the head missing from the statue were to be found....and to
>> bear a resemblance to Peldor?  Coincidence?
>> JS

  About the buried city:  I like the way you think.  Ged would, too.
Unfortunately, I can't devote years worth of stories to a single dungeon
or character.  As you've read by now, the excavation has stopped, at
least for now; maybe later on in life, Ged will uproot the entire Suss
Forest and find the rest of the Lost City.  It wouldn't surprise me in
the least...
  Good idea with the head, but it never was recovered.

>>   Are Alindyar and Lyra ever going to get Married? It's not that I'm
>> some kind of Religous Fundamentalist-type who believes that "Thou
>> Shalt Not Live In Sin" or somehting, I just think it would be a pretty
>> cool plotline. Yeah, I know, marraiges don't occur in Drow Society,
>> and the prospect of Finding a Priest or someone who would perform the
>> ceremony is small, and that they've known each other for a very short
>> time in Elven terms, and a number of other reasons that don't pop into
>> my head at this moment, I just think it would be pretty cool.
>>     I thought the Earth Adventure was excellent, and  it was that
>> series that hooked me on the Adventurers. Keep 'em coming.

  The drow married?  Hmm.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

>>   What will be the next group you're going to write of? Peldor and
>> his  business deals or Alindyar and Lyra?

  The drow.  After all, we've got to save the best for last...   :)

>>   I like Bosco, he seems to be taking after Peldor in a MAJOR way,
>> but also has his own slightly warped sense of humour. (I wonder what
>> his alternate Oerth counterpart would be like?)
>> What has happened to Angus, surely he(it?) wasnt destroyed ?
>> Bring back the iron Dwarf, he could prove a good challenge for a
>> splinter party :)
>> Adam

  Glad to hear that Bosco's shaping up as a separate personality.  He's
got a big shadow to live in, with Peldor around.  Angus will be dealt
with by episode #250.  The iron dwarf will be back at some point, too.

>>   Hmmm...since you mentioned it...  Zara's hideout...  wouldn't
>> Alindyar and Lyra be interested in its location?
>> Patrick

  Yes!  You've hit upon one of the things the drow will do during their
"solo" adventures!  Stand by to see it all played out.

  And now, some late-breaking commentary on everyone's favorite crazy

>> My opinion is that Belphanior has been steadily drifting towards
>> evil for quite a while: I think the time will come when he will need
>> to make a definite choice between good and evil. To choose evil will
>> cut him off from the rest of the party -- maybe they will end up
>> fighting each other?  To renounce evil, he will have to choose good
>> (I don't think he can remain neutral after what has happened), and
>> that will mean losing his "evil eye".
>> Hmmm... I just noticed that Blackrazor is CN, so either alignment
>> shift might make it difficult to continue using the sword.
>> Just an idea -- but I think there is some potential in it.  I'd be
>> happy to expand on the idea if you think it is interesting, maybe
>> bringing in the Wispy Thing (or do you already have ideas for the
>> Wispy Thing?)

  I haven't finalized my ideas on Belphanior's inner struggles yet.  It
should prove to be a _very_ interesting storyline/climax, though.  I'll
try and make some move in some direction by the time the party regroups.

>> Since he can't ever go back to Greyhawk, why doesn't he take over
>> that castle/island that they just killed the owner of?  What does
>> happen when they kill the owner?  Belphanior could "charm" the
>> others into getting it.  I guess he would have to change his name,
>> since "settling down" would bring Greyhawk forces eventually.  Unless,
>> Greyhawk, like other large bureaucracies, would eventually change
>> leaders, and forget about the whole thing.

  Several people have expressed interest in seeing Belphanior take
over Lao Khan's fortress.  Kinda makes you wonder, what would happen
if he did it...?


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