Chapter #242

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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):                +
+                                                                   +
+  Alindyar     16th level dark elven mage                     (N)  +
+  Lyra         12th level female dark elven mage              (N)  +
+   Date:    11/8/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:    early evening                                          +
+   Place:   a plain outside the Free City of Greyhawk              +
+   Climate: chilly                                                 +
+   "I know that I'm not smarter than you."                         +
+   "Then how did you catch me?"                                    +
+   "You had disadvantages."                                        +
+   "What disadvantages?"                                           +
+   "You're insane."                                                +
+             - Wil Graham & Dr. Hannibal Lector, from _Manhunter_  +

                 CCXLII.  The Final Conflict

  After an amazing turn of events, in which Lyra was spirited off
to a faraway place, a devil attacked, and two mighty archmagi came
to his aid, Alindyar is now prepared to seek Lyra out.

Alindyar:  My spells are as ready as is possible.  The golem is
  again shrunken, for portability.  (he pats his belt pouch)  I
  stand ready.
Bigby:  You're sure you don't want to wait until tomorrow, so your
  spellpower will be back up to normal?
Alindyar:  No.  I cannot wait another minute, with Lyra missing
  and undergoing who knows what tortures.  We must go now.
Rary:  (shakes his fist in the air)  That's the spirit!  Take the
Bigby:  Lyra's kidnappers - whoever lairs in the Corusks - shouldn't
  be expecting us.  Theoretically.
Alindyar:  We can probably turn that to our advantage.  (he looks
  at the incapacitated devil)
pit fiend:  (sitting miserably to one side)
Rary:  A ploy?  A trick?  Illusion, perhaps?
Alindyar:  Aye.  I, of course, must play the role of myself.  Who,
  then, wants to be the fiend?
Bigby:  Not me.  I prefer to stay back, where my magic can be more
Rary:  Hell, I'll do it.
Bigby:  Are you sure these illusions will fool our unknown foes?
Alindyar:  Not totally sure...but my illusions are powerful, indeed.
  (he casts a spell, and Rary's features slowly blend and change,
  becoming those of the massive devil)
Rary:  Why are you-  oh.
Bigby:  Aie!  That _is_ a mighty illusion!
Alindyar:  True...but those I must weave later shall prove even
  mightier.  I must concentrate fully, or else...
Rary:  You'll do fine.
Alindyar:  (produces a tattered black robe, donning it above his
  normal one)  The wounded look.  (pulls a set of sturdy-looking
  metal chains from his bag of holding, and puts them on)
Rary:  Another illusion?
Alindyar:  No - these are just trick chains.  Not all tricks are of
  the magical variety.
Bigby:  Ah.  Err, are you sure that this "prisoner" plan will work?
  I mean, the pit fiend there had orders to kill you, period.
Alindyar:  I am counting on the surprise value of the devil having
  brought me back as a prisoner.  Besides, I have been told that
  such a plan worked once before...
Rary:  Hmm.
Alindyar:  Of course, the element of surprise will only buy us a
  few moments...immediately thereafter, we must attack, and with
  full force.
Bigby:  Sounds too hasty.
Alindyar:  Forgive me, but I believe there is no other way.  Not
  in this situation.
Rary:  (points to the devil)  Well, I've used a spell of ESP to
  learn everything he knows.
Bigby:  Banish him, then.  I fear to think about what might happen
  in these parts if he ran amok.
Rary:  Good point...(he weaves a spell of dismissal)
Alindyar:  Lyra knows that spell...
Bigby:  Good.  Both of you will live to see her teach it to you.
  Think positive.
pit fiend:  (vanishes in a puff of red smoke, banished to a nether
Rary:  Positive.
Alindyar:  (gets a determined look on his face)  Aye!  Let us be
  off, then.
Rary:  (begins spellcasting again)  Everyone link hands.

  Shortly, they blinked away from the grassy plain - and reappeared
in a totally different setting.  Craggy mountains loomed high on all
sides, and the climate here was slightly warmer than in Greyhawk.
Looking around, the trio quickly saw that they were at the bottom
of a deep canyon; there was no way up, such was the slope of the
stone walls that surrounded them.  Near the spot where they had
arrived was a large cavern entrance, before which a massive giant
rested, leaning on the rocky wall.  The creature appeared to be
dozing lightly.

Alindyar:  (begins muttering to himself, and making gestures)
stone giant:  (awakens with a start)  Hey!  What the-
Alindyar:  (completes his Domination spell, and takes over the
  giant's tiny mind)  Enough.  Let me tell you what you saw:  the
  devil, there, escorting a single prisoner - me.  That is all.
  Now lead us to your master.
stone giant:  (even more dully than usual for his kind)  Yes...
Rary:  (still appearing as the pit fiend)  Here we go.
Bigby:  (now in the form of a wasp, he flies along, well behind
  the other two)  Bzzz.

  The giant led them into the cavern, which quickly became a large
tunnel.  This tunnel, in turn, opened into a larger cavern, on whose
fringes were various small and medium-sized rooms.  Several drow,
both male and female, were in the central cavern, talking with one
another or heading to (or from) one of the smaller rooms.  The big
cavern was illuminated only by a few dim lamps, which made sense,
given the nature of the chamber's occupants.

Alindyar:  (his voice almost a whisper)  I see no master.
stone giant:  The master is not present.
Rary/pit fiend:  Take us to him, then.
drow guard:  (notices the giant, devil, and prisoner)  What are you
  doing in here?
stone giant:  The fiend here seeks the master.
drow guard:  Oh.
other drow guard:  Perhaps _I_ can help-
Rary/pit fiend:  No.  I would converse directly with-
black-cloaked figure:  (enters the cavern, speaking in a voice that
  must currently be amplified by magic, such is its volume)  AH...
Alindyar:  (appearing weak and disoriented, he looks up)
black-cloaked figure:  (gyrates its arms in anger)
Rary/pit fiend:  Forgive me...I thought you would rather-
black-cloaked figure:  YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO _THINK_!  YOU MUST
Rary/pit fiend:  (looks doubtfully at Alindyar)
black-cloaked figure:  (still addressing the devil)  THE TIME HAS
  IN THE HELLS FOR A DECADE!  (it begins moving its arms, in spell-
Rary/pit fiend:  (looks worried)

  Momentarily, the huge pit fiend blinked out of existence, leaving
only Alindyar, on his knees and in chains.

black-cloaked figure:  (strolls up to Alindyar)  AH.
Alindyar:  What have you done with Lyra?
black-cloaked figure:  SHE YET LIVES...FOR NOW.  NOT THAT SHE, OR
Alindyar:  Oh.  How enlightening.
Alindyar:  I _was_ wondering about does one go about
  destroying a dimension?
Alindyar:  (submerges anger under curiosity)  Say, do I know you?
black-cloaked figure:  ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE...(it removes its hood)
Alindyar:  By the cannot be!

  Before the dark elf stood the familiar, ebon, cruelly lined face
of none other than Zara!

Zara:  (snaps her fingers, dispelling the false voice)  Surprised
  to see me?  I bet you are.  Lyra was, too.
Alindyar:  How...?
Zara:  How did I survive our last encounter, you mean?  Carefully
  planned and executed magic.  Of course, if not for the cursed
  skull I left behind with my spellbooks, I would never have found
  your home...or you.  Hmm, I don't suppose you have my spellbooks
  with you?
Alindyar:  Afraid not.
Zara:  Oh, well.  I'll recover them, eventually.
Alindyar:  I doubt that.
Zara:  Argh!  Stop taunting me!
Alindyar:  Why?  Are you still upset about being driven out of your
  lair?  And then having your entire party of bounty hunters wiped
Zara:  Grr...
Alindyar:  You know, we recently-
Zara:  Quiet!  (she regains some of her composure)  You know, you're
  awfully verbose for someone who's about to die.
Alindyar:  Well, actually-

  Suddenly, eight blazing meteors screamed into existence from some
point behind the chained dark elf, blazing across the cavern toward
a throng of Zara's drow followers.  Confident in their numbers, they
had made the mistake of congregating, a mistake that now cost them
dearly.  Although some of the victims ignored the fiery, exploding
meteors, fully half of them were blasted by the powerful energies,
sailing backwards into walls or simply bursting into flame.  Even
those who survived reeled in pain as the bright light pained their

Zara:  (looked shocked)  What?!?
Rary/pit fiend:  (becomes visible, near the meteor swarm's point of
Zara:  How?!  I _banished_ you!
Rary/pit fiend:  I defy your power, witch!
Zara:  It...cannot be!
Alindyar:  (a bit unnoticed at the moment, he mumbles some spell's
  words to himself)
Rary/pit fiend:  (now floating in the cavern)
Zara:  Agh!  (she points one finger at the hovering devil)  Die!
Rary/pit fiend:  (reels, but lives)  Ugh...(muttering)  Finger...
  of death...good try...
various drow:  (those who survived the meteor swarm, or weren't in
  its area of effect, they approach or linger nearby, preparing
  spells or readying swords)

  Just then, in a splendid display of timing, a huge, green, rotting
mass sprung up, as if from nowhere, amidst the drow.

drow warrior:  What?!?  (he whirls about, sword raised)
shambling mound:  (clubs the fellow with one massive arm, flooring
  him)  Gronk!
drow priestess:  (turns, amidst her spellcasting)  Aie!
shambling mound:  Gronk!  (wallops the woman with its other arm,
  knocking her back, into a drow mage)
other drow warrior:  (leaps at the mound, slashing wildly)
shambling mound:  (all but ignores the blow)  Gronk.
other drow mage:  (releases a volley of magic missiles, at the
  floating pit fiend)
Rary/pit fiend:  (laughs as the missiles bounce off of some invisible
  barrier)  Bah!
Alindyar:  (tosses something onto the cavern floor)
Zara:  (looking around wildly, as she watches her forces fall to
  pieces)  Argh!  (she sights Alindyar)  How are you free?  What are
  you doing?
Alindyar:  Oh, nothing...
stone golem:  (resumes its true size, and immediately smashes one
  of the nearby drow magi)
drow mage:  (his spell interrupted, and his nose and arm broken, he
  collapses to the floor)  Aaaaargh...
Zara:  (screaming with fury, she prepares a spell)  You'll die for
Rary/pit fiend:  (takes this opportunity to blast Zara with a bolt
  of acid)
Zara:  (her magic resistance saves her, but her spell is ruined;
  acid drips off of her, and splashes all over the floor)  Grr...
nearby drow mage:  (currently spellcasting)
shambling mound:  (grabs the woman with both arms, drawing her half
  into itself, a smothering attack)  Gronk!
stone golem:  (ignores a Burning Hands spell from another drow mage
  and punches an attacking warrior, breaking his arm and stunning
Zara:  (working on another spell, she turns to Alindyar)  Now you-
Alindyar:  (there are now six of him, and they are quickly spreading
  out)  What?  Did I break your concentration?
Zara:  (screams, and bolts of ice leap from her fingers, destroying
  three Alindyars)
Alindyar #4:  Oops.
Alindyar #5:  You missed me.
Alindyar #6:  Missed _us_.
Zara:  (seeing that she is outnumbered here - for Alindyar's side is
  winning handily - she backs toward an side passage)
Alindyar:  Oh, no you don't!  You shall not escape this time...
Zara:  Wrong.  (she produces and tosses to the ground, in one smooth
  motion, a small black orb)

  The thing exploded, producing thick vapors that totally obscured
Zara's exit.

Alindyar:  (lurches forward)  Nooooo!
Rary/pit fiend:  Go after her - we'll take care of these drow.
Alindyar:  (looking around at Zara's decimated forces)  Are you sure?
Rary/pit fiend:  Absolutely.  Can you handle Zara?
Alindyar:  I think so.  (he turns to the stone golem)  Follow me in
  one minute-  (he realizes that the golem isn't capable of counting
  time)  Err, after you strike down two more foes.
shambling mound:  (roars its battle cry)  GRONK!  (it smashes a drow
  warrior, knocking the fellow aside)

  With that, Alindyar carefully entered the smoky mist left by Zara,
finding the passage within moments.  As he walked, he cast a quick
spell upon himself, becoming invisible.  The corridor led into an
anteroom, with a bedroom ahead and a smaller room to one side.  He
heard the faint trace of voices from the latter area, and decided to
look there first.

Alindyar:  (cautiously making his way down the corridor)  Hmm.  (he
  backs up, and casts another spell)  Ah.  (he vanishes into the

  Meanwhile, somewhere nearby, Zara was taunting a bound and gagged

Zara:  It matters not that he - they - defeated my troops!  I can
  always get more troops...
Lyra:  (lying on the floor, unable to cast spells or do anything
  else but listen)
Zara:  And don't expect a rescue.  Whoever comes down that passage
  is in for a _nasty_ surprise.  We're also cloaked from magical
  scrying and scouting.  And if someone should actually come in
  here...(she waves a wand in the air)  Ha, ha, ha!

  As Zara leered and gloated, the shadows behind her stirred, ever
so slightly.  Of course, she didn't notice...until the needle-sharp
dagger point appeared at her throat, and a surprisingly strong arm
locked around her neck.

Alindyar:  Drop the wand.  Now.
Lyra:  (still, of course, bound and gagged, she writhes on the floor)
Zara:  (lets the wand fall to the floor, where it rolls away into the
  shadows)  How did you get in here?
Alindyar:  (as if it should be plainly obvious)  The shadows.
Zara:  You'll never leave here alive, you know.
Alindyar:  You are awfully confident.
Zara:  No, I simply don't-

  Just then, several things happened, in short order.  There was a
tremendous explosion from the passageway that Alindyar had decided
not to take.  The floor shook, and the air seethed with heat; during
the split-second that Alindyar was distracted, Zara slipped free.
She didn't get away unharmed, though:  a shallow cut on her neck
bled lightly.  As she stumbled backward, away from Alindyar and Lyra,
she cursed and screamed at her foes.

Zara:  (spellcasting)  Now you'll die-

  At that moment, Alindyar's stone golem burst into the room.  Flame
clung to it like water to a swimmer freshly risen from the depths,
and black soot was visible under the flames.  Without even pausing
for an instant, the massive golem charged toward Zara, who spun
about reflexively.

Zara:  Aie!  (she releases her spell at the golem, moments before it
  collides with her)

  A thin, white ray of absolute cold struck the golem dead center,
and the construct quickly frosted over, icicles forming on its limbs
and frost spreading on the floor around it.

Zara:  (furious at this near-waste of a spell, she whirls about, to
  face the drow)
Alindyar:  (having de-gagged Lyra, and cut her bonds, he helps her
  to her feet)  Are you well?
Lyra:  (standing shakily)  You came for me...
Alindyar:  Of course.
Zara:  How touching...(she prepares another spell)
Alindyar:  (drops his dagger and begins spellcasting as well)
Lyra:  (still recovering from unknown ordeals, she is too weak to
  concentrate on casting anything right now)  A spell...
Zara:  You'll never cast anything again, you stupid cow!

  Zara struck first, launching a multicolored spray at both drow.
Alindyar, reacting amazingly fast, stopped his spellcraft and pushed
Lyra, hard; she fell to the side.  This of course left Alindyar
directly in the path of the spell.

Alindyar:  (struck by an orange and a blue ray, he reels, falling
  to the floor)  Argh!  (writhing in pain, he seems alive - if
  barely)  Ugh.
Zara:  Ha!  Now, perhaps, a fireball...I'd be willing to bet that
  both of your innate magical resistances have been eliminated by
  the radiations of the above-world...
stone golem:  (with a shattering sound, it smashes free of the ice
  around it, and begins walking toward Zara again)
Zara:  (turns)  Damn it!  (she begins spellcasting again)

  The golem wasn't a fast-moving creature, and Zara beat it to the
punch, transforming the rock beneath it into mud.  The golem sank
like a rock, up to its armpits, and floundered in place in the mud.

Zara:  At last, that stupid thing is out of my hair.  Now to-

  Having had a running start, Lyra tackled Zara, hard, knocking
them both to the floor.

Lyra:  (screaming hysterically)  Why can't you leave us alone, you
  damned bitch!  (she punches Zara in the face, hard, and cartilage
  crunches satisfyingly)
Zara:  Urgh!  (blood fountains from her nose)  Thas nod fo-
Lyra:  Shut UP!  (she drives her knee into Zara's stomach)
Zara:  <whoulfff>
Lyra:  (grabs Zara by the hair and begins smashing her head into the
  floor)  When will you leave us BE?!?  When will you go away?!?
Zara:  (rather stunned by this attack, she flails weakly as Lyra
  continues to pound the floor with her head)
Lyra:  Die, damn your soul!  What will it take to kill you once and
  for all?!?
Alindyar:  (standing behind his mate now)  It seems to me that you're
  doing a passable job of that, yourself.
Lyra:  (stops her crazed assault)  Whew.  (she wipes her brow)
Zara:  (stirs weakly)
Alindyar:  (quickly binds the evil drow)  Where did that gag end up?
Lyra:  (recovers the gag, and they quickly gag Zara as well)
Alindyar:  Now she is harmless.
Lyra:  (kicks Zara in the back)  She's not harmless until she's dead.

  With the battle over, the golem ceased its flailing within the
mud, and simply watched the drow as they embraced passionately.
There were some times when words were simply unnecessary, and this
was one such time.

  Later, in the large cavern, Bigby and Rary rested amidst a dozen
or more dead drow.  They were chatting about some lost artifact when
Alindyar, Lyra at his side, a strange wand in his hand, and the stone
golem behind him, entered the chamber.

Alindyar:  Victory!
Rary: must be Lyra.
Lyra:  Yes...thank you for helping with this.
Rary:  Ah, the pleasure was all mine.  It's not every day that I get
  a chance to mix it up, like in the old days.
Bigby:  Hey, I did my share, too!  A shambling mound is one hell of
  a fighter...
Alindyar:  That was you?  I suspected, but...
Bigby:  Yep.  Seemed like a good spell.  I thought about becoming
  a dragon, but this cavern was a wee bit too small for that.
Rary:  Frankly, I'm surprised that Zara and the rest believed your
  illusions.  Especially the one where I was "dispelled".
Alindyar:  Bear in mind that I was working with expectations there.
  Half of any good illusion is providing the victim with what he
  or she _wants_ or _expects_ to see.
Bigby:  Hmm, you really should get together with Nystul sometime.
Alindyar:  Perhaps.
Rary:  A hell of a battle, I say!
Lyra:  I'm just glad it's over.
Alindyar:  Is it?  (he looks at the form carried over his golem's
Rary:  Is that her?
Lyra:  Yes.  I don't understand why we can't just slit her throat
  and be done with it, though.
Alindyar:  I fear that her actual _death_ may result in another
  contingency being activated...and she will then spring up later,
  elsewhere, to torment us once again.
Bigby:  A good point.
Lyra:  What to do, then?
Alindyar:  I am confident that I - we - can eventually locate all
  of her lairs and contingencies.  Until then, however, she must
  remain alive.
Lyra:  Truly a shame.
Alindyar:  However...(he instructs the golem to set the unconscious
  form on the floor)
Rary:  (winces at the sight)  Ow.  Somebody sure beat the living
  hell out of her.
Lyra:  (shrugs innocently)
Alindyar:  (spellcasting now)
Bigby:  What are you up to?
Alindyar:  Watch and see...(he releases his enchantment upon the
  unwitting Zara)
Zara:  (convulses, once)
Lyra:  (looking on wide-eyed)  What?  What did you do to her?
Alindyar:  Feeblemind.
Rary: (nodding)  Yep, that'll do the trick.
Bigby:  Well, you can't leave her here, since she would die of
Rary:  Thirst, actually.
Bigby:  Whatever.  (to Alindyar)  Will you take her back, then?
  We could have her thrown in prison, you know.
Rary:  A deep, dark prison.
Alindyar:  No, thank you.  We will take her, and deal with her, in
Lyra:  (not extremely happy with this idea)  In a short time, you
Alindyar:  Certainly, dear.
Rary:  Did she have any treasures?
Alindyar:  Not really.  (he produces the weird skull, and the wand
  which Zara dropped)  Just these, as well as my magical mirror, and
  some gems - both of which Zara stole from our home in the not-so-
  distant past.  (he regards the wand and skull)  This wand may have for the skull...(he drops the thing, and regards
  his golem)  Make that into powder for me, please.
stone golem:  (crushes the cursed skull beneath one heavy foot)
Bigby:  Err...I suppose you want that wand, then?
Alindyar:  Hmm...why?
Bigby:  Because I'd like the chance to explore its mysteries.  I'd
  be willing to trade you one of my own for it.
Lyra:  (looks Alindyar in the eyes and nods slightly)  Anything of
  Zara's is best kept away.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  Very well.  (he hands Bigby the wand)
Bigby:  (rummaging through a sack)  Now where did I put that...oh,
  here it is!  (he produces a short rod, tipped with a shrunken
  hand of some sort)  Here, take this.
Alindyar:  This is no wand - this is a rod.
Bigby:  A good one, though.  (he hands the drow a piece of rolled
  parchment)  The command words are on that paper.
Alindyar:  My thanks.
Rary:  Shall we be going?
Alindyar:  Verily.  (he begins the spell to shrink the golem)
Bigby:  (making some enchantment now, as well)
Lyra:  What are you up to?
Bigby:  Oh, nothing.
stone golem:  (reduced in size, and put in a pouch by Alindyar)
Rary:  (spellcasting)  Link hands, please.
Lyra:  (does so, gladly, with Alindyar)
Bigby:  (grabs one of Zara's limp hands, so that neither of the
  other drow will have to)

  Momentarily, they teleported away, to Greyhawk.  A tiny ember
remained, tossed aside by Bigby, though none were present to see
it explode into flame five minutes later.  The monstrous fireball
filled the cavern and all side rooms, totally incinerating all
the bodies and equipment and forever erasing Zara's last known,
inhabited hideaway.

next time :  wrapping up

notes     :  Want to know what the rod Bigby gave Alindyar does?
  It's in the 1st Edition of those little cartoons...

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