Chapter #44

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*****
*  The 8 player characters contained in these writings are copyright
*  1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to persons or characters
*  either real or fictional is purely coincidental.  Copying and/or
*  distribution of these stories is permissible only under the one
*  condition that no part of them will be used or sold for profit.
*  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.
*****

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THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 8th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 6th/5rd/6th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 6th/6th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Halbarad, 7th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 7th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 9th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 6th/7th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
Rob, 8th level human priest of Trithereon (LG)
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Date:   8/4/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   midday
Place:  Havenhill, capital of the Principality of Ulek


                     XLIV.  Ye Olde Parchment



  The party has been in Havenhill for quite some time.  However,
the time has come to move on, as the party is gathered around a
tavern table, eating dinner and listening to Peyote ramble on...

Peyote:  Okay dudes, here's the deal.  (holds up a very ancient
  scroll that he got as part of his share of the last loot)
Mongo:  So?  So what?  What's it say?
Peyote:  Well, you see, I have long had an aptitude for languages
  long forgotten by modern folks.
Alindyar:  Ancient languages.  What is the significance of that?
Peyote:  You see, this scroll is written in old Oerdian, one of
  the long-lost tongues of our forefathers.  And it supposedly
  leads the way to a legendary artifact of eons past - the Rod
  of Life and Death.
Ged:  Eh?
Rob:  Sounds evil to me.
Halbarad:  What is this thing you speak of?
Belphanior:  Talk about the death part.
Peldor:  (thinking about the other treasures sure to be found with
  such an artifact)
Peyote:  Here's what it says:



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  KNOW YE, O ILLUMINATED ONES, THAT EVEN THE GODS THEMSELVES HAD   |
NEED OF MORTAL SERVANTS.  FOR SUCH ONES, THE DEITIES CONSTRUCTED   |
MANY ITEMS OF SURPASSING POWER.  THE CELESTIAL ROD WAS ONE SUCH    |
ARTIFACT.  POSSESSED OF THE POWER TO SHAKE THE HEAVENS AND TO
SHATTER ARMIES, THE ROD CHANGED HANDS AS ITS BEARERS MET WITH
VIOLENT ENDS OVER THE CENTURIES.  THERE CAME A TIME, THOUGH,
WHEN A MORTAL USED THE ROD TO CHALLENGE THE GODS.
  THE GODS LAUGHED, AND OBLITERATED THE FOOL ON THE SPOT WITH A
BOLT OF POWER THAT SUNDERED AN ENTIRE CITY.  THE ROD, NOT MADE
TO TAKE SUCH DAMAGE, WAS BROKEN INTO FIVE PIECES BY THE MIGHT
OF THE GODS' WRATH.  THESE FRAGMENTS WERE SCATTERED TO THE ENDS
OF THE OERTH, BUT EACH STILL RETAINED GREAT POWERS.
  ONE OF THE FIVE PIECES CAME TO BE IN THE POSSESSION OF THE
DWARF ARANOR THE MAD.  WHEN ARANOR BUILT HIS GREAT CRYPT AND
PASSED FROM THIS WORLD, ALL OF HIS WORLDLY TREASURES WERE ALSO
SEALED AWAY IN THE DARK PLACE - INCLUDING THE SINGLE BIT OF THE
CELESTIAL ROD THAT HE POSSESSED, ALSO KNOWN AS THE ROD OF LIFE
AND DEATH.
  KNOW YE FURTHER THAT, SOME THIRTY LEAGUES TO THE WEST OF THE
CAMP OF LOFTWICK, SOON TO BE A MAJOR CITY, IS THE SOUTHERN LEG
OF THE GREAT CRYSTALMIST MOUNTAINS.  NEAR THE BEGINNING OF THE
PEAKS IS A SHRINE, A SMALL BUT SACRED PLACE WHERE CREATURES BOTH
GOOD AND EVIL FEAR TO TREAD.  ANY WHO MEDITATE AT THIS MOST HOLY
OF PLACES BY THE LIGHT OF THE FULL MOON, WILL AT MIDNIGHT BE
SHOWN THE WAY TO ARANOR'S TOMB.
  AND IN THAT PLACE LIES POWER AND WEALTH BEYOND IMAGINING.
                                                                   |
                                            Epicurus the sage      |
                                                 302 C.Y.          |
-------------------------------------------------------------------


Ged:  Well how about that?
Belphanior:  Power to shake the heavens...hmm.
Mongo:  302 Common Year?!  That's over two hundred and fifty YEARS
  ago!!
Peyote:  That's a long time, man.
Halbarad:  Too long, perhaps.  This place sounds evil to me.
Belphanior:  Of course.  That's precisely _why_ we should go there.
  Think of all the evil that we can rid the world of.
Halbarad:  Hmm.
Alindyar:  What manner of place is this...Loftwick?  Where can
  it be found?
Rob:  Loftwick!  That's...let's see...(pulls out a map)
Ged:  Hey!  Where'd you get that nice map?!
Rob:  I bought it at the cartographer's shop.  Nowhere that any of
  YOU would ever go.  Hmm.  Loftwick is now the capital of the land
  known as the Yeomanry.
Peldor:  It's come quite a way from being a "camp", it seems.
Alindyar:  'Twould seem so.  Shall we undertake this quest?
Ged:  I wonder if the scroll is authentic?
Mongo:  Everyone's heard of old Aranor.  He was crazier'n a loon!
  That was one dwarf who meddled in things he shouldn't have.  The
  legends of our people say that he was taken from this world to
  a realm of madness and chaos, never to return.  But they never
  said anything about any tomb...
Peyote:  Well, dude, that's definitely authentic Old Oerdian on
  that paper.  And the parchment seems real enough.
Mongo:  A dwarven tomb!  I'm in.  Think of the architecture...
  (goes starry-eyed)
Peldor:  Think of the loot!
Ged:  Let's check this place out.  I for one am sick of being in
  Havenhill, and Ulek.
Alindyar:  And artifacts can always come in handy.
Peyote:  Right on, dude.  If we don't get out of here, they'll
  find some new rancid quest for us...
Halbarad:  Let us get out items together, and depart then.
all:  Yea!





next time:  The journey to the Shrine

ANONYMOUS FTP SITE: tybalt.caltech.edu (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
***********************************************************************
NOTES:  Here are the other four character histories.


           A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE ADVENTURERS' PASTS
                          (part 2 of 2)



>-

Mongo

  Many of history's legendary warriors and heroes have been dwarves -
perhaps due to the race's overall hardiness and strength, perhaps due
to their peculiar brand of stubborn bravery.  Among the members of
Clan Thunderhead, of the Flinty Hills dwarves, there has never been
a dwarven hero to rival the ancient legends.  Until now, that is.
There is one member of the clan who, at his present rate, will soon
have a list of feats sufficient to bring a gleam to the eye of even
the most bored dwarven child.
  Born over three score years ago, Mongo Thunderhead was aggressive
even as a youth.  His father, and his father before him, were great
warriors, well-respected among the clans of the Hills.  His brothers
(there were four) were also warriors.  Raised in such a family, the
dwarf soon became skilled in battle, at the same time growing to be
tall and powerful (for a dwarf, anyway).  In his childhood, Mongo
never lost a contest of strength with his peers.  Though all dwarves
are aggressive and loud, Mongo took these traits to an extreme.  He
was constantly seeking new challenges and foes, as well as being
quite verbal when he had an opinion about any matter.  Once, he was
on patrol when he ran into five goblins in an abandoned tunnel...
rather than retreat and ensure his safety, Mongo charged the group
of humanoids, and beat them all within minutes, yelling and cursing
the whole time while ignoring every wound inflicted upon him.
  While he had always had a love of battle and weapons, the dwarf
also learned about some other things.  Among his favorite hobbies
were weaponsmithing, armoring, and mining.  Though fairly skilled
at the first two, Mongo held a greater love for the third.  He
showed an early aptitude for digging and mining, as it not only
interested him, but was practical considering his environment.
The young dwarf developed a good eye for underground construction
and tunneling, skills that were sure to help him later in life.
Oddly enough, he also found that he enjoyed the myriad combinations
made possible by a thorough mastery of the culinary arts.  As the
other dwarves wondered about their kinsman (kinsdwarf), Mongo
demonstrated constantly that he was able to spice up even the most
insipid meal.  His comrades' teasing never stopped him, though -
at a whim, he could hold his own in any sparring match with any
weapon.  His father saw great promise in all of his sons, and was
proud, even as _his_ father, Mongo's grandfather, was slain in
battle with humanoid tribes underground.  That particular series
of skirmishes went on for many years, and eventually, the humanoids
were driven away or exterminated.  The significance of this for the
young Mongo was that it enabled him to gain years of intensive
experience in real, bloody battle - and showed him that not all
battle is glorious and without a price.
  After decades in the Flinty Hills, Mongo's already thin patience
wore down to nothing.  He grew bored with what had become, for him,
a sedentary lifestyle.  Besides, hadn't all the dwarven heroes of
legend traveled the world to find new and glorious adventures?
Of _course_ they had!  And so would he, for the time was right.
With this in mind, Mongo and a dozen of his like-minded clansmen
packed up, slung their weapons over their shoulders, and headed to
the south.  They traveled for six years, and for various reasons
one or the other of the dwarves left the group.  By the time Mongo
arrived in the Wild Coast region, there were only two others left
in his party, and this pair decided to set up an armory in a nearby
town.  Mongo himself spent a month checking out the city of Fax,
and was about to leave for more exciting areas when he encountered
a group of freebooting adventurers.  He actually had stopped in the
Green Dragon Inn to have one for the road, and had no idea about
the posted announcement that drew the others.  Anyway, he helped
the group defeat some murdering thugs and promptly decided to join
them on their mission.
  Mongo is usually in a good mood, even when he appears grumpy.
He is the party's big gun and he knows it.  Their reliance on him
to anchor all melees has made him proud if not egotistical.  The
dwarf gets along great with Ged, and the two have become fast
friends.  He lumps Peldor and Belphanior into the same group -
untrustworthy, lying scoundrels.  He respects Halbarad and Peyote,
if only for their combat ability.  Mongo has no real opinion of
Alindyar, since it's all he can do just to accept the drow as a
non-evil individual.  He thinks of Rob as a confused yet powerful
priest, and tries to stick up for him most of the time.
  Though he is aggressive and loud, Mongo is by no means careless.
He sees perfectly the advantages of thieves in the party, likewise
for magi and priests.  He is a bit greedy for money as well as any
magic items, whether he can use them or not.  The high point of his
recent life has been the acquisition of his prized dwarven hammer,
which has proven invaluable in combat situations.  If Mongo has any
weakness, it is his sometimes blind eye to the rampant chaos within
the party - he tends to let others worry about such things while he
finds another unexplored dungeon area to wander into.

>-

Peldor

  Peldor the thief.  Rogue, scoundrel, party comedian, ladies' man.
A legend in his own mind.  But, in his head he carries perhaps the
most challenging riddle he has ever faced - that of his own origin.
You see, the thief awoke in the wilderness of the Wild Coast region
just one day before he met up with the party.  He was laying stark
naked in a field, and no one was nearby.  He had neither provisions
nor weapons, neither money nor memory.  Of course, basic aspects of
his personality were there - he quickly realized that he must have
exercised regularly; likewise he realized that his skills, abilities,
and training centered around those of a thief.  He was eighteen years
old and had absolutely no idea where he came from.  About all he
remembered was the word "Peldor", so he took that to be his name.
  Wandering in the wilderness, he came upon a camped caravan that
night (about three hours after awakening).  Despite the guards who
were supposed to protect the wagons against harm, Peldor was able
to steal a complete set of clothes, some food, and a sword.  The
latter item seemed almost natural in his hands, as if he had been
a great swordsman in some other time and place.
  Peldor made his way through the grasslands, eventually coming to
a large city, Fax.  Being dressed decently, he made it by the gate
guards and entered the place.  By the time he found taverns and inns
in their row on Main Street, the thief had gained a number of coins
and jewelry items from passers-by.  Hungry, dirty, and out of food,
he chose an inn and went inside to have a hot bath and an equally
hot meal.  After cleaning himself up (actually, he paid two wenches
to do this task for him...), Peldor went down to the common room
for dinner, and later, as he was about finished, a number of people
just came and picked his table to congregate at.  Listening but not
talking, the clever rogue realized that he had a golden opportunity
to join a competent-seeming group of adventurers and perhaps better
his own lot.  Therefore, he joined the party at its formation, and
has been an active member ever since...
  Peldor has the rare distinction of being well-accepted among the
party even though they all know his occupation.  This is no doubt
due to his charm and wit, his creative blend of humor and irony,
and/or his extreme usefulness and skill as a thief.  He actually
doesn't think Ged is a bad fellow (though he'll never admit it).
He is good friends with Belphanior, as might be expected, and also
gets along reasonably well with Mongo and Alindyar.  He really
could care less about the others, but nonetheless strives to keep
their lives interesting with his dry wit and pranks.  It is most
noteworthy that he would never knowingly inflict harm upon any of
his companions without major provocation - a fact which they all
remain blissfully unaware of.
  He is quite happy in the party, and not just because of the
amount of treasure he has come across while in their company.  He
has found, in the group, the anchor that he needed to adjust and
blend into a world that he knew (and remembered) nothing about.
He is constantly trying to remember his own origin, and has even
come up with a number of theories, most of them involving gods and
humility.
  Within his first week with the party, he had built (regained?)
the personality he exhibits, and things have been moving so fast
since then that he hasn't really had time to seek answers to his
enigma.  Occasionally, however, he does have strange dreams which
he can never remember much about.  Examples of scenes from these
dreams:  lightning flashing through the skies, odd landscapes in
seemingly alien worlds, babbling peasants milling about, a ship
of metal sailing through a rainy ocean, a bloody war between men
and demons.  Whether these dreams have any real significance or
are simply products of a twisted mind remains unknown, for now...

>-

Peyote

  Growing up in the southern reaches of the Vesve Forest, the
young half-elf known as Peyote (not his original name) was well
insulated from the conflicts with the evil inhabitants of Iuz
and the Bandit Kingdoms.  Born to a human father and an elven
mother, the youth was raised by the forest folk.  These people,
the woodsmen and benevolent demi-humans of the woods, did not
share in the common, petty racial squabbles typical of crossbred
children such as the half-elf.  They accepted him rather than
frowning upon him, as might have been expected.  The problem
was, he himself did not really care for any of them.  He wanted
to go out and see the world, and often was caught in the forest
at night, far from his native area, wandering about with no
real motive.  It was not long before most of the folk of the
Vesve came to ignore him.
  A rebellious child, he never did become the warrior that his
father wanted him to be.  This originally was because of his
own attitudes, but in the long run, was due to his involvement
with a traveling band of outcasts.  This troupe, known by many
names and misnomers, was made up of those who were uncomfortable
in any city, and chose to live their lives constantly on the
move.  The group consisted mostly of strange, merry humans but
there were a few elves in it as well, and even a dwarf and a
gnome.  Calling themselves simply the Traveling Ones, they came
through the Vesve and were greeted flatly by most folk there.
Their apparent interests revolved around worship of the sylvan
gods and the gods of hunting and the wilderness (chiefly the
deity Obad-Hai, on this world).  They advocated neither good
nor evil, neither law nor chaos, preferring to remain outside
of these extremes altogether.
  He was instantly attracted to these rebellious, odd folks.
He spent much time with them, rather than at home - incurring
the anger of his parents in the process.  He began sharing in
their all-night parties and dances, which involved a significant
amount of unusual herbs and mushrooms.  Their exact nature and
effects remain a mystery, but one thing is certain.  After the
few weeks he spent with the wanderers, the boy's entire outlook
on life had changed.  Gone was the brash, immature child who
was always complaining about everything.  In his place was one
who was unwaveringly calm about everything, one who never acted
hastily - one who called himself Peyote, an odd name that his
parents did not care for.  Peyote ignored them, adopting the
mannerisms of the wild ones: worship of Obad-Hai, an unusual
diet, and a strange dialect.  He left the Vesve with them and
traveled for several years, visiting many lands and honing his
newfound druidic abilities.  Peyote also continued to get
better at weaponplay, but now his main interest was in his
druidic work - he retained the fighting skills more by instinct
than anything else.
  As was typical of all members of the Travelers, Peyote left
after a number of years to pursue his own interests.  They
last saw him in Fax, a wild city in a wild land.  The half-elf,
confident in his abilities, decided that it was time for some
new traveling companions, and inquired around town.  Filtering
through the rumors and wild leads, he came to the Green Dragon
Inn to find adventure - and his hunch was right.  He has been
involved in several great adventures so far and there is no
sign of boredom ahead.
  Peyote is totally incapable of serious anger.  He tends to
sit back and take a moment to think things over, even if the
matter at hand is urgent.  Though his speech habits are all
but intolerable, he has become good friends with Halbarad the
ranger, as they seem to share common interests most of the
time.  He gets along fairly well with most everyone else in
the party, being unable to anger any of them even if he
wanted to.  He has recently begun to wonder what greater
druidic goals he is accomplishing in this adventuring party,
though, for most of their serious challenges take place in
dungeons and caves rather than forests and grasslands.  He
may well decide soon to seek greener pastures...

>-

Rob

  The priest known simply as Rob was born and raised in a totally
typical environment within the relatively peaceful land of Keoland.
From an early age, he was groomed for the priesthood, for even as a
young lad he was kind, benevolent, and utterly harmless.  It is true
that his parents worried about their son almost as soon as he was
able to walk.  The child constantly walked into things, tripped over
them, and performed other equally mindless deeds.  Once, he guzzled
down an entire jug of castor oil, since he was so thirsty...
  Despite all this, the clergy of the most holy Trithereon assured
Rob's parents that the boy was an ideal candidate for priesthood.
From age seven he lived, ate, and worked in the temple, learning
all of the lessons and ideals of the high priests.  Despite his
certain lack of common sense, he showed great intelligence, often
learning in one day what others needed weeks to understand.  Rob
stayed in the temples for twelve years, growing from a skinny,
clumsy lad into a slightly overweight, clumsy young man.  In his
spare time, he studied other religions (so he would be better
prepared to argue his own faith to the unbelievers) and learned
to play the flute - perhaps the one thing that he was not clumsy
at.  Rob also found that he had exceptional engineering skills,
as long as he dealt only with paper and pencil - his attempts to
actually invent or build anything inevitably ended in disaster.
Undaunted, he continued to work on his side pursuits when possible.
  After his eighteenth birthday, the high priests decided that it
was time to unleash their young acolyte on the world.  Rob was told
to travel to the land of Nyrond and find a small town to start a new
temple of Trithereon in.  Rob bid the priests, and his parents,
farewell, assuring everyone that he would found the greatest temple
of all time.  Unfortunately, he got somewhat lost on the road to
Nyrond, for before he knew what was going on, he was in the city of
Fax, on the Wild Coast.  Luckily, he arrived there in the daytime
and somehow managed to avoid trouble.  Wandering around aimlessly,
the priest saw an advertisement asking for noble adventurers.  In a
moment, years of carefully instilled rules were forgotten, and Rob
made his way to the establishment specified in the posted scroll -
the Green Dragon Inn.  And ever since then, he's been living in sin.
Well, not really - but it is doubtful that his high priests would
approve of his current company...
  Rob is really unsure of his proper place in the party.  He has
no real friends, and sometimes even gets taken advantage of by the
others.  Nevertheless, he has managed to contribute his share of
useful deeds (along with useless ones) and thus has no enemies in
the group either.  His main problem is that he has no attention
span - usually his mind is in a place far away from his body.
Whether things will improve for him or not, only time will tell...

>-

NOTE#1 :  What do you think of the origins?  As might be evident,
          these were mainly fleshed out in my own head based on
          years-ago casual discussions with the players.  Some,
          like Halbarad's, were built from a couple of sentences
          that the player told me long ago.  Others, like Ged's,
          were joint products of my imagination and the player's,
          written with great emphasis on the player's past and
          present character work.  Still others, like Peldor's,
          were purposefully vague, per the player's requests.
            Are you happy?  Are you disappointed?  Let me know...
NOTE#2 :  No more surveys, no more histories, no more of this stuff
          anytime soon.  I will be concentrating on pure Adventurers
          stories rather than filler material, so now that you know
          something about the players and the characters, just sit
          back and enjoy the ride!
NOTE#3 :  ALL FUTURE POSTINGS WILL BE IN rec.games.frp.misc RATHER
          THAN rec.games.frp !!!  This is due to the successful
          splitting of the old group; stories are theoretically
          supposed to go in rec.games.frp.archives but I'm still
          waiting to read the charters of the various groups.
***********************************************************************




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