Chapter #239

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.oit.gatech.edu  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY (or more accurately, a fragment of it):                +
+                                                                   +
+  Alindyar     16th level dark elven mage                     (N)  +
+  Lyra         12th level female dark elven mage              (N)  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    7/10/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:    late morning                                           +
+   Place:   Zara's old fortress, amidst some woods                 +
+   Climate: warm and mild                                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "When you want something done right...often you must do it      +
+    yourself."                                                     +
+                                        - from _Forced Vengeance_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





              CCXXXIX.  The Lost Treasure of Zara





  The drow have teleported to Zara's old tower in search of lost
treasure, only to find the place occupied by orcs!

Alindyar:  A trivial matter.  Orcs are, after all, only orcs.
Lyra:  How shall we pursue this?
Alindyar:  Allow me to begin.  (he prepares a spell)

  Within their tower, the orcs were startled by a thunderous roar
from outside.  Rushing from the building, weapons drawn, the dirty
humanoids stopped short, for resting on its haunches before the
tower was a gigantic red dragon!

dragon:  GRRRAAAAAAAAARGH!
orcs:  Aie!  (they mill about, some fleeing into the forest away
  from the dragon, some running into trees, others simply falling
  to the ground in shock)

  After about twoscore orcs had emerged, the dragon reared up on
its hind legs, whipping its tail at the forest floor.  The ground
trembled, trees fell...and the dragon began to inhale, slowly.

orcs:  (gripped by a great fear, those who haven't fled do so now,
  running headlong into the forest, screaming and dropping their
  weapons)  Yah!  Aieee!  Gahh!  Help!
dragon:  (looks around, then exhales, spraying globs of fiery snot
  into the air)  Ptui.

  As the dragon sat there, watching the tower, two invisible figures
were already within, roaming the empty corridors and chambers with
great purpose.

Lyra:  How long do you think they'll be fooled?
Alindyar:  Many minutes, perhaps half an hour, thanks to the spell
  of extension that I also cast.
Lyra:  Your plan worked to perfection.
Alindyar:  Of course it did.  The illusion is a powerful one, and
  I am not inexperienced with this sort of magic.  Although, I might
  add, your spell of fear completed the trick nicely.
Lyra:  Well, it should have.  You taught it to me, remember?
Alindyar:  Your idea, though.  Now _that_ was a good idea.

  They made their way through the tower, noting with disgust the
miserable living conditions that the orcs had made for themselves.
Lyra's spell of magic detection showed her nothing truly valuable
among the orcs' possessions, and mere moments later, the drow
found themselves at the shaft leading down into the mines.  Or, to
be more precise, at the huge boulder that covered the shaft.

Lyra:  What's this?  It wasn't here before.
Alindyar:  No, I think not.
Lyra:  How to deal with this obstacle?  Telekinesis, maybe?
Alindyar:  The boulder is far too heavy.  Did you ever learn the
  spells of enlarging and reducing?
Lyra:  I sure did.  (she works some quick magic, and the boulder
  suddenly shrinks to the size of a person's head, and falls into
  the shaft below)
Alindyar:  Well done.
Lyra:  Thanks.  Shall we explore the mines?
Alindyar:  I would prefer to do it from afar...call it a hunch.
Lyra:  I call it experience, and wisdom.  Are you conjuring a
  wizard's eye?
Alindyar:  Aye.

  This spell took several minutes to cast, but upon its completion,
an invisible eyeball appeared, floating in the air.  Alindyar could
of course see the thing (even if it hadn't been his own spell, he
was no longer fooled by such illusions as invisibility) but Lyra
couldn't.

Alindyar:  Trust me, the eye is there.  (he sends it down into the
  passage)  Time to see what we can see.

  The eye showed him a rocky tunnel, then a larger cavern.    As it
moved into this spacious area, it showed Alindyar that the mining
implements, the picks, hammers, and carts, were practically covered
with dust, untouched for years.  Also, the gold and silver veins in
the cavern's walls were still present.  Alindyar quickly relayed
these new findings to Lyra.

Lyra:  Odd.  I've never known the lesser races, even orcs, to leave
  valuable metals alone.
Alindyar:  Indeed-  whoa, what is this?
Lyra:  Hmm?
Alindyar:  The eye approaches something, below.
Lyra:  What is it?
Alindyar:  Hmm...aie!  A cocoon!
Lyra:  Realy?  What kind of cocoon?
Alindyar:  A fairly large one...it appears to be inert.  Then again,
  it _is_ a cocoon.  I shall have the eye explore the other areas of
  the mine first.

  However, there was nothing to be found.  Lyra claimed that the
secret treasure chamber was well-hidden, masked by barriers both
physical and illusory.

Alindyar:  A pity that this magical eye cannot carry my powers of
  perception with it.  Perhaps I can invent a spell that overcomes
  this...
Lyra:  But what, for now?
Alindyar:  Methinks we should descend, and be prepared to destroy
  yonder cocoon, should it come to life.
Lyra:  Sounds good.  Are you ready?
Alindyar:  Aye.
Lyra:  (grabs Alindyar around the waist, and uses her magical boots
  to slowly fly downward)

  They landed on the floor of a rocky tunnel, and Alindyar created
a red magical light on the end of Lyra's staff.

Lyra:  Ooh, I'm impressed.
Alindyar:  (regards her quizzically)  Do not be silly.
Lyra:  Not me!

  They explored the mines, briefly; this was where, years ago and
with the help of a lamia, Zara and her servants kidnapped human men
from Tragidore.  The poor slaves were then forced to labor in these
mines, digging for gold and silver.  Alindyar and the others had
put an end to that, however, and now there were only two things
of interest.  One, the cocoon, had still had not moved or done
anything that might classify it as living.

Lyra:  (looking at a blank section of wall)  This is the place.
Alindyar:  I see no illusions here.
Lyra:  The illusions will be beyond...(she casts a Passwall spell)
  We should be able to walk into the secret chamber now.

  They did just that, passing through a thick slab of solid stone
and entering a smaller, ten-foot square chamber.  The small room
initially appeared empty, but Alindyar quickly saw through the two
illusions here.  One concealed a small chest resting in a corner,
the other masking the dangerous magical runes the covered the tiny
chamber's entire floor.

Alindyar:  Beware!  This place is protected...(he begins casting a
  spell)  Powerful runes, indeed.
Lyra:  I would expect no less from Zara.
Alindyar:  Aye.  (completes his spell, and the runes vanish)  We
  may proceed now.
Lyra:  (somewhat, though not truly, amazed)  Hmm, I guess Zara
  never anticipated a more powerful spellcaster coming here.  Do
  you have a spell to ferret out traps and such?
Alindyar:  Hmm, I hadn't thought about that.  (he eyes the chest)
  What we need is a telekinetic dummy to do this work.
Lyra:  Sounds like another spell to invent.
Alindyar:  Indeed...indeed.  Why not take the chest, and simply
  teleport back?
Lyra:  Hell, why not move the chest above-ground, hide invisibly,
  and wait for an orc to come along?
Alindyar:  An excellent idea...I like it!  (drinking from a flagon
  of wine, he eyes the small chest)  Say, knowing Zara like you
  did, what do you suppose is inside this chest?
Lyra:  Spider eggs.
Alindyar:  (almost chokes on his drink)  Ghak!
Lyra:  (grinning)  Just kidding...she'll probably have one or more
  of her spellbooks, some small high-quality gems, perhaps an item
  or two of magic...
Alindyar:  Worthy of our trouble, then.
Lyra:  Oh, I never had a doubt.

  Using telekinesis and a Tenser's floating disc, Lyra moved the
chest out of the treasure room.  Both drow noted the narrow shaft
behind the chest, with rungs of iron leading down into the hole.

Alindyar:  Eh?  What is this?
Lyra:  Isn't it obvious?   This is a portal down to the Underdark.
Alindyar:  But you said-
Lyra:  I didn't say we _couldn't_ get there from here...
Alindyar:  Hmm.  Perhaps we should close off this portal, then.
Lyra:  No need.  It is sealed, far below...powerful magi could
  bypass the barriers, but no others.  Zara wanted, and had,
  near-total control of the operation here.
Alindyar:  Bah.  Let us go back upward, then.

  However, it was then that the cocoon chose to begin acting up.

cocoon:  (quivering now)
Alindyar:  It lives!  (he backs up, to protect Lyra)  Beware!
wizard eye:  (resting on the floor, inert for now)
Lyra:  Eh?

  The cocoon, perhaps aware of the visitors, had split down the
middle; a huge spider, perhaps ten feet in diameter, now crept
toward the two drow.

Lyra:  (uses her boots to float up into the air)  A spider?
  Now we know why the orcs had the shaft blocked...Zara's last
  legacy was hiding down here.
Alindyar:  It would appear to be poisonous.  (he hastily begins
  spellcasting)  Highly poisonous.  We must blast it, before-
Lyra:  Beat you to it!  (she launches a series of magic missiles
  at the spider, slowing its approach)  Hah!
spider:  (oozing slime from the series of small wounds)
Alindyar:  Bah.  (he blasts the spider with a color spray, and it
  staggers, then collapses)  Trivial.
Lyra:  It can't be dead...?
Alindyar:  No, merely unconscious...for now.
Lyra:  We should be leaving then.  (she uses her staff to push
  the spider far to one side)  Let's use my boots and get out of
  here.
Alindyar:  What of the spider?
Lyra:  Oh, I'm sure it'll climb out, now that the boulder is gone.
  (she rolls the currently-miniature rock aside, so that when it
  returns to its normal size, the shaft upward won't be blocked)
  The orcs should appreciate this.
Alindyar:  I know Belphanior would.

  They left the mine, and then the tower.  The illusory dragon was
still around, which pretty much meant that none of the orcs were,
so the plan to have an unwitting orc open the treasure chest was
scrapped.

Alindyar:  An unseen servant will do just as well.  (he begins
  spellcasting, and shortly, both he and Lyra blink away, moved
  by teleportation back to their lair)



  Behind, in the forest, it took a few hours before the first orcs
gathered the courage to return to their tower.  The place was quiet
and the dragon appeared to have departed, so it wasn't long before
the first brave (though unfortunate) orcs ventured back into the
building...





next time :  what's in the chest?

notes     :  Having cable is a blast - now that I've got the cable,
  VCR, TV, and stereo talking to one another, I can do anything I
  want.  I can tape _The A-Team_...or _The Wild, Wild West_...or
  even _Beavis and Butthead_.  I can program.  I have the power!
  Hmm, time to go get some more tapes...
    On another note:  after 14 years, the _Heavy Metal_ soundtrack
  is finally available on CD!  If you've seen the movie, you know
  what this means; if you haven't seen it, try and catch it on
  Cinemax or buy it at a comic/gaming convention.  As for me, I've
  owned the film since 1988, and I now own the soundtrack on CD.
  In fact, this episode (and the one preceding it) were written
  under that CDs influence.
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