Chapter #241

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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:    11/8/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:    late afternoon                                         +
+   Place:   a room within the Gold Dragon Inn, in Greyhawk         +
+   Climate: chilly                                                 +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "I hope you're right."                                          +
+   "I know I'm right."                                             +
+   "I don't."                                                      +
+                                            - from _The Mangler_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                CCXLI.  New Enemies and New Friends





  The drow are in a quandry, for their extradimensional lair has
been looted, and then destroyed, by some person or persons unknown.
Forced back to Greyhawk, they are now working desperately to figure
out exactly what happened, and how.  While Lyra prepares to contact
powers on an Outer Plane (surely a desperate and risky measure, but
then again, all other measures have proven useless) Alindyar is
simply thinking out loud...

Alindyar:  Hmm.  Now let us see...there were no hints of dimensional
  unraveling before, ah, when was it?  Zara's treasure hoard...

Lyra:  (in the adjoning chamber - for the drow had expanded their
  lodgings since yesterday - she is preparing magical runes and
  circles)  Everything must be immaculately prepared, or else...

Alindyar:  And what was missing from our home?  My mirror, for one
  thing.  Or perhaps I should ask, what did we _not_ bring here to
  Greyhawk with us?  (he begins recounting all of his and Lyra's
  more unusual possessions)  Hmm.

Lyra:  (in the other room, she begins her spellcasting)

Alindyar:  (still babbling to himself)  Malicious intent is not out
  of the question, based on the nature of the damages.  Perhaps some
  path into other planes allowed a demon into our home...or an old
  enemy?  (he begins thinking of the numerous enemies he has made,
  over the decades)

  So wrapped up was the drow in his ruminations that he didn't think
much of the soft red glow from the other chamber.  After all, Lyra
was at work communing with otherworldly powers, and needed all the
concentration she could muster.  Besides, Alindyar was very close to
a conclusion, a breakthrough, _something_ - he could feel it.  The
answer was right before him - if he could only fit together the
various and scattered pieces of the puzzle.

Alindyar:  ...then there was...that...oh.  Oh my.  (he bolts to his
  feet)  By the gods!!!  (he dashes into the other chamber)  Lyra!
  I have it!  I know-

  He stopped short, for his mate was no longer in the tavern-room.
Instead, a floating, semi-material form regarded him evilly, its
forked tongue slithering in and out of its fang-filled maw.  A pair
of long, sharp horns capped its bald head, and the high, pointed
ears and barbed tail confirmed the initial, unpleasant guess that
Alindyar had arrived upon.

devil:  Greetings, mortal.  Your companion has been sent...elsewhere
  according to my orders.  You, however, were deemed unimportant.
  (it shakes its back oddly, and a pair of huge, scaly wings unfurl
  and begin flapping slowly)
Alindyar:  (calmly)  Where is she?  I have no quarrel with you.
devil:  You need not worry about her whereabouts.  She is being dealt
  with.
Alindyar:  Now we have a quarrel.  (he makes some hasty gestures and
  mumbled words, and a volley of magical missiles shoots forth, at
  the creature)
devil:  (laughs as the missiles hit him)  Flea bites!  Is that the
  _best_ you can do, mortal?  (it points at the dark elf, and a red
  blast of searing flames jets toward him)
Alindyar:  (ducks aside, quickly, but still gets singed by the fires)
  Argh!
devil:  (solidifies entirely and takes a step toward the mage)  My,
  my.  You seem weaker than promised.
Alindyar:  (staggers to his knees, but then takes a look at his foe
  and smiles smugly)
devil:  What in the Hells are you grin-

  Outside the Gold Dragon Inn, the day's street traffic moved along
at its usual pace.  Each person was worried about his or her own
business; some of them had had a good day, others a bad one.  How-
ever, none of them would ever forget this day, starting with the
moment that a huge, red-skinned monster exploded from a third-floor
window of the Gold Dragon Inn.  Chunks of shattered wood, stone,
and glass rained down upon the crowds, and then there was the big,
strange creature, which itself landed atop a merchant's cart, sending
melons rolling in all directions.

bystanders:  Aie!  (the more sensible among them flee in various
  directions)  Aaa!
devil:  (gets to its feet)  What...?
stone golem:  (leaps from the gaping hole in the inn, landing on the
  ground with an impact which knocks many bystanders off their feet)
random merchant:  By Rao, there's _two_ of them!
devil:  A statue...no, a golem!
Alindyar:  (sails from the hole, now under the influence of a spell
  of flying but muttering to himself)  Note for the future:  always
  pre-program your golems with precise instructions.  Now _that_
  was a good idea.
stone golem:  (thunders toward the big devil)
devil:  (points at the stone golem, and a fireball bellows forth,
  hitting its target squarely)  Away, construct.  You delay me from
  my true purpose.
stone golem:  (utterly unharmed by the otherworldly fire, it simply
  plods through the inferno)
devil:  What madness is this?

  However, the fireball had other, more far-ranging effects than
slowing the golem's march:  the nearest of the high, carefully
trimmed grass and bushes in front of the Royal Opera House had
been ignited by the devil's blast, and a full-fledged fire was
now in the making.  City guards were now congregating on this
side of the nearby Garden Gate, but did not enter the fray, for
it was apparent that they were out of their league here.

Alindyar:  (from the air, he casts a Stop spell upon the devil)
  Halt where you are!
devil:  (ignores the magic)  Have you no real spells, mage?  You
  disappoint me...though the golem's surprise attack was crafty.
  Speaking of which...(he turns to the nearby golem, and unleashes
  a flurry of punches, wing-buffets, and bites upon it)
stone golem:  (suffers some minor damage, but punches the devil
  in the face with one rocky fist)
devil:  Aaargh!  (it uses its long, barbed tail to trap the golem's
  arms against its side)
Alindyar:  (attempts a Domination upon the devil)  Submit!
devil:  (shrugs off this spell as well)  Bah.  Such paltry methods
  cannot affect me.

  However, the devil's smug attitude quickly changed, for the stone
golem was breaking free.  Having become used to crushing mortal foes
to death with its powerful tail, the devil had not reckoned with the
mighty strength of a golem.  Now, it was learning of said strength,
in a decidedly unpleasant way.

stone golem:  (flexes its thick arms, ripping the devil's tail apart
  in three places)
devil:  Aaaargh!  (it staggers back)
stone golem:  (breathes a cloud of grey gas upon the foe, though to
  no visible effect)
devil:  (flaps its huge wings, quickly dispersing the gas)
Alindyar:  (swoops down, and casts a Color Spray at the devil)
devil:  (caught full in the eyes, he shrieks and begins rubbing at
  his eyes, wildly)  Grr...
Alindyar:  Ah, I see that your famed resistance to spells is not
  total!  (pleased, he yet genuinely wonders why the fiend hasn't
  simply teleported back to its home plane)
devil:  (takes to the air, evading the golem's next punches)  No more
  toying!  Die now, drow!  (he launches another fireball at Alindyar)
Alindyar:  Aie!  (he is blasted and burned, and falls from the sky,
  landing on the grassy ground, hard)  Ugh...
stone golem:  (obeying another pre-determined order, it now moves to
  protect its fallen creator)
devil:  Ah, how touching.  I shall now-  Eh?

  There were still dozens of city guardsmen nearby, bows at the ready,
but they had been there for minutes now, ignored by all combatants.
However, now hovering in the air nearby were two determined-looking
men.  The first was middle-aged and lean, of average height, and
dressed in a dark grey, hooded robe.  The second was older, heavier,
and of darker complexion; he wore a tan robe decorated with numerous
golden patterns.  Both men had an air of confidence and regality that
unnerved even the powerful red-skinned devil.

older, tan-robed fellow:  By Zagyg!  A pit fiend - in the city!
lean, grey-robed fellow:  Fiend, you have NO business here-
older, tan-robed fellow:  Enough talk, Bigby.  (he points at the
  devil, and a huge, blue fork of lightning springs forth, blasting
  the monster less than a second later)
devil:  AAARGH!  (stunned, its wings and tail all but burned off, it
  falls to the ground)  Ungh.
Alindyar:  (looking around weakly)  What...?
devil:  (staggers to its feet)  Urrrrgh.  (it launches a blast of
  searing fire at the older newcomer, but the fires simply vanish
  upon touching the man's body)  No!
Bigby:  (conjures up a huge, glowing hand which grabs the devil up,
  holding him in a grip stronger than any the fiend has ever felt
  previously)  Now you shall explain yourself!
Rary:  Bigby, this is no time for questions.  Crush the life from
  that damned thing before it escapes or teleports away!
Alindyar:  (now on his feet)  If...it was going...to teleport away,
  I believe it would have...done so already.  Besides, I need it
  alive, to find out where my mate has been kidnapped to.
Rary:  Who the hell are you?
Bigby:  Rary, Alindyar.  Alindyar, Rary.  (to Rary)  I know him,
  and will personally vouch for him.
Rary:  (gets a "well, that makes all the difference in the world"
  look on his face)  Ah.
Alindyar:  Rary?  My pleasure.  (the two magi shake hands)
Rary:  Yet another dark elf in the city?  How peculiar...
Alindyar:  Believe me, I had no intention of remaining here this
  long.  In fact, I am quite surprised that the two of you were
  about.
Rary:  Well, we happened to be in town...good for the town, eh?
Alindyar:  It certainly was.
devil:  (tries to conjure up some more magical flame)  Ugh.  Agh.
Bigby:  (constricts his force-hand a bit, causing the devil to gasp)
  Stop that.
devil:  (submits)
Rary:  (to a tall, blond armored woman, who has just arrived on the
  scene brandishing a staff)  Derider, we've got to mobilize these
  guardsmen, to put out the fires-
Derider:  (makes some arcane gestures, and a dark raincloud appears
  over the bulk of the flame, quickly dousing it)
Rary:  -ah, never mind.
Derider:  (smirks)  Now, what has happened here?
Bigby:  Well...(he looks at Alindyar)  Maybe _he_ should explain.
Alindyar:  Of course.  But first, perhaps the fiend there should be
  contained with more than...physical methods?
Rary:  Of course.  (he thinks a moment, then works a spell upon the
  devil, speaking words of great power)
devil:  (goes slack-jawed)
Bigby:  So.  (prepares to release his force-hand's crushing grip)
Rary:  Wait!  The fiend jests with us!  (he points at the devil, who
  then begins cursing loudly)
Alindyar:  Clever bastard, that one.
Derider:  (bashes the devil with her magical staff, causing him to
  spit blood)  Damn you, fiend!  You had better co-operate, so we
  can figure out what's going on.  (under her breath)  Before we
  banish you to the Hells forever, that is.  A devil - in our city.
  Imagine that!  What a travesty!
Rary:  Yes.  (he casts another spell upon the devil)  This one should
  do the trick.
devil:  AAAAaaaaa...(lapses into unconsciousness)
Alindyar:  Wracking magic?
Rary:  Actually, in my time, I have dabbled in the-
Derider:  I'm not sure I want to know.
Bigby:  (using his magical force-hand to carry the heavy devil)  Let
  us retire to somewhere more...private, where we can discuss this
  in a civilized manner.
Derider:  I'm coming, too.  (she gives a few quick orders to the
  throng of city guards)
guards:  (begins carrying out the orders)

  Soon, they were sitting around a table in a city guard building;
the devil was still unconscious, and still held fast by Bigby's hand.
The stone golem loomed nearby, behind Alindyar, its huge arms folded
across its chest.

Derider:  Let's make haste - I don't want a devil around in our city,
  even held fast such as he is.
Bigby:  Agreed.
Alindyar:  (clears his throat)
Rary:  All right, then.  How did this begin?

  Alindyar told them everything, from the destruction of his pocket
dimension, to his own conclusions on the matter, to Lyra's mysterious
disappearance, to the devil's equally mysterious appearance, to the
battle near the Gold Dragon Inn.  Derider listened with horror, Bigby
with interest, and Rary with anger.

Rary:  Something foul is at work here!
Alindyar:  Aye, and I think I know what it may be.  You see, none of
  these problems began until we looted Zara's former lair.  I have
  come to believe that she set up some kind of...trap for whoever
  found her treasure.  You see, for someone to get into her most
  hidden treasure hoard - with her spellbooks! - Zara herself would
  almost certainly have to be dead.  Thus, she ensured that no one
  would get away with ransacking her items.
Bigby:  Makes sense to me.  She sounds like she was one vengeful
  bitch.  (to Derider)  Pardon the expression.
Derider:  (shrugs)  A bitch is a bitch.
Rary:  (thinking swiftly)  Zara left a trap, then - a powerful curse,
  perhaps?
Alindyar:  Aye, something after that fashion.  A sort of...mutually
  assured destruction, one might call it.
Bigby:  Fearsome concept, that.
Derider:  So, now you have to locate and rescue your lady-love?
Alindyar:  (sadly)  If she still lives.  Early in the battle, the
  devil there mentioned something about sending Lyra away.  Methinks
  that _he_ holds the key to this puzzle.
Rary:  Yes.  And I, for one, shall help you get the answers from him
  whatever the consequences.  (he walks up, casually, and slaps the
  devil across the face)  Awaken, you!
devil:  (opens its eyes)  Eh?
Rary:  You shall now answer-
devil:  (spits in the mage's face)  Bah.

  Rary's wrinkled countenance became livid with anger, and his hands
trembled with great fury.

Bigby:  Oh, my.
Rary:  (to Derider)  You may wish to leave now.  This will become...
  unpleasant.
Derider:  Don't worry on my account.  It's just a devil, one of the
  lowest of all scum in existence.
Rary:  Very well.  (he points at the devil, and utters a few very
  strange syllables)
devil:  (suddenly writhes in pain, screaming loudly)  Eyaaaaagh!
Rary:  (continues his foreign-tongued tirade, and the devil begins
  bleeding from numerous tny cuts)
devil:  Argh!
Rary:  You WILL co-operate, or else...(snaps his fingers)
devil:  (torn by entirely new sensations of pain)  AAAARGH!
Derider:  By Pelor...
Bigby:  (to Rary)  Should I crush him further with the hand?
Rary:  No - the spell I cast earlier will provide more incentive for
  him to talk than a dozen crushing hands.  (to the devil)  Are you
  ready to speak in a civil manner?
devil:  ...yes.  Yes!
Alindyar:  (sort of takes over)  I am glad to hear it.  Now:  where
  have you taken my Lyra?
devil:  A secret lair...elsewhere in this world.
Derider:  That's a relief.
Alindyar:  Why?
Bigby:  It means no plane-hopping, particularly to the Hells.
devil:  (coughs up some blood)  Ghak.
Rary:  And _why_, precisely, did you take her?
devil:  Forced to...a black-cloaked figure has my true name...
Alindyar:  Black-cloaked figure?  I know no black-cloaked figures...
  well, none who stand out...
Bigby:  Hmm.  (realizes that the devil won't volunteer one scrap of
  information unless forced to)  Was the figure female?
devil:  N-no.  Why would you think that?
Bigby:  Just a hunch...
Rary:  Why didn't you teleport away from here when the battle turned
  against you?
devil:  I was...bound by the magic...of my agreement with the black-
  cloaked one.
Alindyar:  Define the terms of this agreement!
devil:  (stalling)
Rary:  (speaks a single word, and the devil goes into convulsions of
  pain)  NOW!
devil:  Agh...spirit the woman away, kill him.  (nods at Alindyar)
  That was all.
Alindyar:  Well.  So you claim not to have destroyed my lair?
devil:  I did no such thing.
Alindyar:  (to Rary)  Can he possibly be lying?
Rary:  Not a chance, not with this spell.
Bigby:  Hmm.  What are the options at this point?
Alindyar:  I know of no means to follow the devil to this "secret
  lair" via teleport.  It seems impossible.
Rary:  That's because it is.
Bigby:  That means we have to learn the lair's location from the
  fiend, and then journey there.
Rary:  Now that _is_ possible.
Alindyar:  Wait a moment - what is this "we" you speak of?  Are you
  planning to help me?
Bigby:  Why, of course!
Rary:  We've spend longer amounts of time on far less noble quests.
  You'd be surprised.
Bigby:  (nods vaguely)
Alindyar:  (looks intrigued)
Derider:  Ahem.
Rary:  Eh?
Derider:  I cannot, of course, go with you.  I have duties here.
Bigby:  We'll be okay.  (he looks at one fingertip, atop which a
  tiny spark of magical energy dances)  I just have a feeling...
Derider:  (smiles, agreeing)  If there's something that you two,
  err, three, can't handle, it's not on this world.
Rary:  (to Bigby)  See, now that's _respect_.  From the younger
  generation to the older...how nice.
Derider:  Hey, you're not _that_ much older than me.
Bigby:  (bemused)
Alindyar:  Well.  I cannot thank you enough.  Perhaps we should
  pry the destination from the fiend, here.
Rary:  Absolutely.  (to the devil)  Out with it, you.
devil:  Err...uh...the place is deep within some mountains.
Rary:  _Which_ mountains?
devil:  You call the the Corusk Mountains.  The cavern you seek is
  deep within the Corusk Mountains.  That is all I know.  Will you
  release me now...or banish me?  Or perhaps kill me?
Bigby:  Oh, don't worry about that.  You're coming with us.
devil:  (looks shocked)  Back to the lair of the black-cloaked one?
Rary:  You're smarter than you look.
Bigby:  Pretty smart.
devil:  (looks worried)
Alindyar:  Can we succeed with this...this blind teleport?
Rary:  Yep, we'll make it.  (he looks around)  We'd better prepare
  ourselves for the trip, and whatever may come at its other end.
Alindyar:  That means shrinking my golem yet again.
Bigby:  You ought to invent a way for the golem to do that upon
  command.  Drawmij might be able to help you...
Rary:  He's away in Keoland, I believe.
Bigby:  Oh.  Say, Otiluke would enjoy this adventure, wouldn't he?
Alindyar:  Otiluke?
Rary:  Nope.  He's abroad, in Tenh, at the moment.
Bigby:  Well, darn!
Alindyar:  Never fear - the golem will resume its normal size when
  the moment is right.
Rary:  Now _that_ I'll look forward to seeing.  Let's get ready,
  folks - time's a'wasting!





next time :  confrontation!

notes     :  One of my writing preferences, whenever possible, is
  to do what I've come to call "de-AD&D-ing" events.  That is, I'm
  deliberately vague about spells, time, and the like.  For example,
  the spells that Rary used may be somewhere in 2nd edition - or
  maybe 1st.  I don't know; I don't want to know.  Maybe they don't
  exist at all, in any rulebook or supplement.  That's the nice
  thing about telling a story, rather than detailing a campaign's
  exact events:  I don't _have_ to worry about TSR's exact rules.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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