Chapter #46

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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:   8/26/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   morning
Place:  The edge of the Crystalmist Mountain Range, just west
        of the city of Loftwick, in the Yeomanry



                    XLVI.  The Crypt is Found



  The party has been staying at an ancient shrine, where some of
their number witnessed a mystical signal from within the mountains
nearby.  Now it is morning, and after a somewhat restless night,
the group is ready to ride into the mountains to find the crypt
they are searching for.

Halbarad:  Let us go and find this place.
Peyote:  I hope there's no monsters in the way.  I feel sick today.
Mongo:  Maybe it was that vegetable crap you're always eating.  If
  I had to try and digest that shit, I'd be sick too.  You need
  some meat in your diet, for good muscle!  (flexes a bicep)
Peyote:  Hmph.
Ged:  Come on, guys.  Let's ride!  (they do)

  Half a day later, after lunch was had off of a mountain path, a
number of giant forms approached, shambling along the rocky road.

Mongo:  Hey!  Look there!  Giants!
Halbarad:  So they are.  (unslings his axe)
Peldor:  I don't think they've seen us yet.  (moves off the path
  and into the rocks)
Ged:  (prepares a spell)
Alindyar:  (likewise)
Belphanior:  Hill giants...
Peyote:  Hey, guys, maybe they'll just walk on by.
Giant#1:  You there!  These are OUR mountains!
Giant#2:  Yeah!  And that means that you pay our toll!
Peldor:  (muttering)  I didn't see any sign with your names on them.
Giant#3:  Huh?
Alindyar:  What is the price of this toll?
Rob:  Quiet, don't encourage them.
Giant#4:  Price?  HAHA!  Everything!  Your stuff...is OUR stuff!
Ged:  Bah.  Turn back or die, idiots.  This is your first and last
  warning.
Belphanior:  What he means is, we take no shit from bandits.  Even
  giant ones.  (draws his sword)  Go ahead.  Make my day.
Giant#1:  KILL THEM!!  (they all start picking up large rocks)

Ged:  Okay.  I warned you.  (casts Evard's Black Tentacles in the
  giants' general vicinity)
Giant#1:  (snagged by two, fails both saves)  Huh?  Worms!  Argh!
Giant#2:  (snagged by one, snaps it)  Bah.
Giant#3:  (snagged by one, snaps it)  Ouch.  That stings.
Giant#4:  (snagged by two, snaps one of them)  Ow.  OW!
Giant#5:  (snagged by three, snaps two of them)  Get it off of me!
Giant#6:  (not in range of any of the tentacles)  Ha!
Alindyar:  I did not warn you, but that matters not.  (casts his
  Confusion spell on the giants)
Giant#1:  (saves, perhaps since it takes no confusion to realize
  that he is doubly troubled already)
Giant#2:  (fails, stands confused)  Wuzzat?
Giant#3:  (saves, hurls a rock)
Giant#4:  (saves, bashes his remaining tentacle with his club,
  disintegrating it)  Now you manlings die!
Giant#5:  (fails, confused, wanders away as his tentacle continues
  to crush him)
Giant#6:  (fails, confused, attacks giant#5)
Giant#5:  (bashed by his comrade)  Argh!
Mongo:  (hit by the boulder of Giant#3, knocked back)  AGH!  Fuck!
Halbarad:  (charges Giant#4)  Meet your maker, fiend!
Giant#4:  Huh?  (raises his club, only to have it swatted aside by
  the ranger's axe blow, which cuts deep as his dagger also scores
  a wound)  Yagh!  You'll die for that!
Belphanior:  (charges Giant#3)  Die, die, die!
Giant#3:  (meleeing with the crazed elf, takes a shallow cut)
Peyote:  (casting a Giant Insect spell)
Rob:  (dashes into combat, swinging his magical mace)
Giant#2:  (still confused, becomes more so as Peldor sneaks up
  behind him and inflicts a lethal backstab attack)  urk...
Peldor:  (becoming visible right when his sword left its sheath)
  Aha!  Peldor, master of the quick draw!  (turns, looks at the
  other combatants, moves in on the fallen, betentacled Giant#1)
Peyote:  There!  (completes his spell, and suddenly there are nine
  1 HD giant ants in front of him)  Attack those giants!
Giant Ants:  (commence doing so)
Rob:  (bashes Giant#4, assisting Halbarad)  For Trithereon!
Giant#4:  Argh.
Mongo:  (lifts the boulder off his chest, and gets in one hammer
  throw, smacking Giant#4 a mighty blow)  Fuckin' giants.
Giant#4:  ARGH!  (reeling)

Belphanior:  (slices Giant#3 again)  Who's laughing now, eh?
Giant#3:  (swats the elf, slightly bruising him)  Crap!
Giant#1:  (has succeeded in snapping one tentacle)  Hah!
Peldor:  (chops the sitting giant from behind, slaying him)  Aha!
  (swipes a pouch from the giant's belt before moving toward Rob
  and Halbarad, and Giant#4)
giant ants:  (some are biting the dead Giant#2)
Peyote:  No, not the dead giants!  Attack the MOVING giants only!!
other giant ants:  (biting Giants #5 and #6, the confused pair)
Giant#5:  (comes around, snaps his tentacle, and steps on a giant
  ant)  What the hell's going on?!
Giant#6:  (still confused, attacks his companion again)
Giant#5:  What the hell-?  Oof!  (knocked back by a club)
Giant#6:  (menacing Giant#5)
Halbarad:  (slices and dices Giant#4, finishing it off)
Peldor:  (diverts himself toward Giant#4, Belphanior's foe)
Rob:  (kicks a giant ant that was sniffing his foot)  Hey!
Alindyar:  (wand in hand, he blasts Giant#5 with four magical
  missiles)
Ged:  (runs forth and swipes Giant#5 with his morningstar, a good
  solid blow)  For Boccob!
Giant#5:  (slain, falls)  Urgh...
giant ants:  (biting various giants)
Rob:  (hits Giant#6, wounding him)  There!
Mongo:  Hold still, priest!  (fires his hammer at Giant#6, hitting
  him in the head)
Giant#6:  Ohh...where am I?
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Peldor:  (slashes Giant#3, wounding him)  I am Peldor, fastest blade
  in the west!
Belphanior:  What are you talking about?
Peldor:  Err...you're right.  Make that the world.
Mongo:  (hits Giant#6 again with his thrown hammer, slaying it)

Belphanior:  Yah!  (hit by Giant#3, he ignores the pain and stabs
  his opponent, killing it)  Hah!  Argh!
Mongo:  Hey!  They're all down!
Belphanior:  (cradling his arm)  I think my arm is dislocated...
Mongo:  Heh.  Just pop it back into that socket.
Rob:  (ministering to the wounded)
Peldor:  (robbing the dead)
Ged:  Watch it there, Peldor.  Make a pile for that stuff.
Belphanior:  Good idea, Mongo.  (runs into a boulder to fix his
  arm)  YARGH!!  FUCK, THAT HURTS!!
Mongo:  Geez, I was kidding.
Belphanior:  Argh!  I wasn't.  I had a feeling that would work,
  though.  I've seen it done before.
Rob:  But the pain...
Belphanior:  Pain has its uses.
Peldor:  Here's the loot, guys.  Eleven small gems, a potion, a big
  sack of gold coins, another sack full of silver, a gemmed dagger,
  a couple pouches of platinum, a large opal, and three small gold
  ingots.
Mongo:  Good haul.  I'll need some help to carry all that shit,
  though.
Alindyar:  I once again offer the use of my magical bag...

  They rested, then continued onward for the rest of that day.  A
campsite was found at nightfall, and despite numerous precautions,
nothing unusual happened overnight, or the next morning either.
Travel continued for the better portion of that day, and strangely
enough, a certain mountain peak stood out among all the others as
the adventurers moved on.  They reached a certain huge spire about
dusk, using a series of convenient mountain passes that Mongo was
able to find.

Mongo:  Well, I'll be damned.  This pass looks to lead right into
  the friggin' mountain!
Ged:  There's got to be a door somewhere.
Halbarad:  'Ware of monsters nearby...
Peldor:  Check that out.  The path leads right into the sheer cliff
  face, there.
Belphanior:  Hmmmmm.  Can you say "secret door"?  (starts examining
  the cliff face)
Peldor:  Could be.  (moves to help the elf)
Mongo:  (looking up)  Well, guys, we're definitely at the bottom of
  a mountain here.  This peak must go up for miles!
Alindyar:  (puts his hand over his eyes as he looks up)  Indeed.
Peyote:  One thing's for sure, dudes.  There's plenty of room for
  a whole dungeon inside this rock.
Belphanior:  Dammit.  There's nothing here.  Only solid rock.  Hmm.
Peldor:  He's right.  No doors here.
Mongo:  Are you sure?  (moves up and taps on the cliff face at his
  waist level, and at various places)  Hmm.  Some places here are
  more hollow than others.
Alindyar:  Mayhap the portal is magical...
Belphanior:  I have a hunch that there's a hidden door, behind this
  rock wall or something.
Peldor:  Anybody have a pickaxe?
Mongo:  Pickaxe?  Well, actually-
Peyote:  You want to break through the wall?
Mongo:  It's not a half-bad idea.  I'm sure there's SOMETHING back
  behind this rock.
Rob:  I've got it.  (pulls out his flute)  Allow me.  (begins to
  play the instrument)
Ged:  Great.  This is classic.  What in the hells is THAT going to
  accomplish?
Mongo:  I didn't know the boy could play the flute.
Peldor:  He's just full of surprises, isn't he?
Alindyar:  'Twould seem so.

  And then a most wondrous thing happened:  as the priest produced a
rhapsody of notes with the magical instrument, the rock wall began to
tremble, then shiver, and finally _melt_!  As the others watched in
amazement, and Rob continued playing, a large section of rock flowed
down onto the ground as mud, exposing a pair of gigantic metal doors.
Shortly, the spell effect stopped, as Rob's flute music ceased.

Rob:  Whew.
Ged:  ...?!  Where did you GET that thing?!
Rob:  The last adventure...remember?  I had it checked by a mage - it
  lets me cast extra spells when I play it.
Peyote:  Excellent!
Alindyar:  Truly a nice toy, if a simple one.
Ged:  Simple things for simple minds.
Halbarad:  (watching Mongo examine the newly-exposed doors)  Good
  work, Rob.  Now we have our entrance.
Peldor:  (looking disgruntled)
Mongo:  Hmmph.  Don't you worry, thief.  There must have a good foot
  of hard rock hiding these doors.  There's no way in hell you could
  have found them.
Belphanior:  What metal is this?  I have not seen its like before.
Peyote:  Looks bluish, dude.
Mongo:  This is a mithril alloy, I think.  Strong stuff.  Expensive,
  too.  Count on a dwarf to make his doors out of it.
Peldor:  (checking the doors)  I can't find any keyholes or knobs on
  this blasted thing.
Ged:  Maybe it requires magic to open.
Mongo:  I have just the thing!  (digging in his pack)
Peyote:  What now?
Ged:  I have the knock spell...
Mongo:  This chime!  (holds aloft his magical chime)  Some sage told
  me that it has the power to open doors when I ring it.  And now is
  the time to find out!  (begins ringing the chime)
Peyote:  Wow, man.  Where have you guys been getting these things?
Ged:  (commenting quietly to himself)  Tends to happen when you pay
  attention to your magic item picks...
Halbarad:  By the Lady, the item works!  The doors open...

  With a deep grinding sound, the twenty-foot high doors swung open,
revealing a medium-sized cavern.  There were a dozen metal pegs in
the wall to the left, suitable for hanging clothes - or tying the
horses' reins, as Halbarad wasted no time in utilizing them for just
that purpose.  After securing the mounts, the party set up their
camp, and pulled the giant doors closed (they appeared to open
rather readily from the inside).
  There was a large boulder blocking what looked like a tunnel of
rough-cut rock leading away from this room.  The party decided to
camp, setting up watches of two people each to make sure that the
boulder didn't move and that nothing opened the metal doors.  They
all got a good night's sleep in the cavern, and on the morrow began
to consider moving the boulder.

Mongo:  Nah.  No problem.  Four of us should be able to push that
  baby aside.  (he, and Belphanior, and Peldor, and Peyote do that
  very thing, revealing the suspected tunnel)
Peyote:  (dumps a pile of horse oats and creates a big puddle of
  water in a depression on the cave floor)  Stay here, guys.
horse:  Neigh!
Halbarad:  I shall go first.  (bares his axe and dagger)  Light?
Rob:  (lights his mace with a simple spell)  I'll hold the torch.
  As usual.
Mongo:  (follows the ranger into the tunnel, as do the others)

  The tunnel went a short ways, curved to the left, and emptied
into a small room, with a single door in the northern wall.



                                 /==\   <----GREY ARCHWAY
                               /      \
                              |        |            N
            RUNES ROOM---->   |        |          W + E
                              |        |            S
                              |        |
                               \      /
                              ___\__/___  <----STONE WALL
                             |  *    *  |
                             |          |
            GOLEM ROOM---->  |          |
                             |  *    *  |
                              \        /
                                \_.._/  <----DOOR
                                |    \
                              __|      \
                             |          |
            ENTRY ROOM---->  |          |
                              \        /
                                \_  _/
                                  \  \   <----PARTY'S ENTRYWAY
                                    \  \       (Goes south to cave)



Mongo:  Ah!  NOW we're getting somewhere!
Alindyar:  Interesting shape for a chamber.
Belphanior:  I feel uneasy.
Ged:  The aura of...Good is present in this room.
Halbarad:  I am ready to go on.
Mongo:  Yeah!
Peldor:  Bah.  This is just another boring room.
Peyote:  You can say that again.
Rob:  Unusual...
Ged:  What's that?
Rob:  This whole place.
Halbarad:  Ready?  (opens the door, revealing another similarly
  sized room with four large stone statues, one in each corner)
Rob:  Eep.
Statue:  TELL US THE NAME OF THE MASTER TO PASS.
other Statues:  (regard the party)
Alindyar:  These are _golems_!  Beware!
Belphanior:  (starts to ready a spell)
Statue:  HALT OR BE CRUSHED, ELF.  INTRUDERS, I ASKED YOU A QUESTION.
  ANSWER IT NOW OR LEAVE.
Belphanior:  (for once, a wise remark escapes him) ...
Mongo:  Aranor!  Aranor the dwarf is the Master!
Statue:  CORRECT, DWARF.  YOUR PARTY MAY NOW PASS.  (the other three
  golems move to help this one; they push a huge, thick stone slab
  aside to reveal a northern exit)
Halbarad:  Let us go.
Peyote:  I don't know about this.
Alindyar:  With haste...(they scamper through the doorway, which
  remains opened - for now)
Belphanior:  (grumbling)

  The next chamber was a bit larger.  The entire floor was carved
with runes...an archway stood to the north, grey mists lingering
within it and blocking any view beyond.

Ged:  Stay back!  Those runes may be a trap!
Alindyar:  Verily.  They seem odd, though.
Ged:  (casts Detect Magic)  Hmm.  No aura.
Mongo:  Hey!  These are _dwarven_ runes!  Old, too.
Peyote:  Well, what do they say?
Mongo:  Eh...let's see.  (puts his hammer back into his belt loop)
Peldor:  (to Belphanior)  Mongo the historian...
Belphanior:  Yeah.
Mongo:  (reading the runes carefully)  Roughly...


  GREETINGS.  IF YOU ARE READING THIS YOU HAVE MOST LIKELY PROVEN
THAT, FIRSTLY, YOU ARE NOT OF EVIL MIND, AND SECONDLY, THAT YOU
HAVE SOME IDEA JUST WHERE YOU ARE.  IF ANY WHO READ THESE ARE OF
EVIL BEND, I WOULD ADVISE YOU TO LEAVE WHILE YOU REMAIN ABLE.  MY
LITTLE HIDEAWAY IS SOMEWHAT BIASED AGAINST THOSE OF EVIL, I MUST
SAY.
  SO!  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.  THERE ARE BOTH FABULOUS TREASURES
AND PERILOUS TESTS IN THIS PLACE.  FEEL FREE TO TAKE WHAT YOU CAN
FIND, BUT THERE ARE THREE RULES.  ONE: DO NOT ROB THE DEAD HERE;
THEY NEED WHAT LITTLE THEY HAVE AT THIS TIME.  TWO: DO NOT TRY TO
TAKE THAT WHICH CANNOT BE MOVED; I DETEST VANDALISM.  THREE:  BE
CIVIL TO THOSE OF BRONZE; THEY ARE MY GUARDIANS NOW.  BE WARNED -
IF YOU DO NOT OBEY THESE DIRECTIVES, YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT OUT OF
HERE ALIVE.
  OTHER THAN THAT, I WILL TELL YOU THAT THIS COMPLEX IS NOT ONLY
MY CRYPT, BUT ALSO A PROVING GROUND FOR THOSE WHO ARE WORTHY.  MY
EARTHLY TREASURES DO NOT CONCERN ME ANY LONGER, BUT THEY MAY BE
OF CONCERN TO YOU...

                                        ARANOR THE MAD
                                        C.Y. 275



Ged:  Sounds like fun.
Belphanior:  Evil?  I wonder if he means me?
Peldor:  Nah.  Couldn't be.  Not you.
Halbarad:  I would suggest that we proceed with caution.
Ged:  Brilliant.  (moves to examine the archway, sidestepping the
  runes)  What's this thing?
Alindyar:  I know not.  I believe it to be magical, though.
Mongo:  (gets out a rope and an iron spike)
Rob:  Yeah!  Do that.
Peyote:  Going fishing, dude?
Mongo:  Yeah.  (tosses the weighted rope through the arch, then
  pulls it back)  Nothing.  Hmm.
Rob:  Do you think it's safe?
Belphanior:  Someone has to volunteer to find out...





next time:  What lies beyond the arch

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