Chapter #509

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                                  +
                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +
                                  +

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    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.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1991-7 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.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Belphanior  (14th)^3 level elven warrior/wizard/thief       (CN) +
+    Otto        8th/10th level dwarven warrior/thief          (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                                +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human warrior/thief      (N) +
+    Bosco      12th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        9/2/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        shortly before dusk                                 +
+  Place:       somewhere in the Griff Mountain range               +
+  Climate:     cool and breezy                                     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I've got a new deal for you:  help me and you live."            +
+                           - Snake Plissken, _Escape From L.A._    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    DIX.  Treks and Trickery





  Almost three weeks after the incident in Almor, the adventurers have
penetrated deep into the Griff mountains.  They seek the hidden lair
of a certain recently-deceased red dragon...

Belphanior:  (shaking the upside-down jermaline whose feet he holds)
  Where _is_ it?!?
jermaline:  Aaaaaa!
Belphanior:  (produces a long needle)  I'm not going to ask again.
  Tell us where your master's cave is.
jermaline:  B- but me not know!  Honest!  Me've never even heard of
  Cynder before in me life!
Otto:  (smiling)  Who said the dragon was named Cynder?
Belphanior:  (holds the needle up before the tiny humanoid's face)
  You'd better start talking, imp, or you'll wish you had died...

  Nearby...

Tanya:  That poor creature.
Peldor:  It was ones like him that tried to kill us last time we all
  rode through these parts.  Hell, he might've been one of them.
Tanya:  But they're going to torture him!
Peldor:  Maybe not.  Look.

  Belphanior and Otto were binding the tiny one against a tree-trunk.

Belphanior:  We'll check your story out tomorrow - if it's true, then
  you live.  Otherwise...
Otto:  (whistling, he checks the edge on his barbed knife)  Shaving
  sharp...
jermaline:  Ack!  True, true, I tell you it's true!  Me told you the
  truth!
Belphanior:  Then you have nothing to worry about.  (he checks the
  knots)  Good and tight.
Otto:  Let's make camp...over there.  (he points to a clearing)
Belphanior:  Looks good to me.
jermaline:  No!  Not leave me alone in the night!  Monsters come!
Otto:  (ignoring the jermaline, he gathers firewood)
Belphanior:  (walks over to Peldor and Tanya)  Where's Bosco?
Peldor:  He went scouting with his ferrets.
Tanya:  Something about exercising them...but what can one find with
  ferrets?
Peldor:  (glances at Tanya)  Heck, Leonardo says that he heard of a
  time once where some ferrets helped a guy steal a woman's clothes
  while she bathed.
Tanya:  (frowns)  A likely story.

  They set up camp, using the natural cover already existing in the
clearing to help fortify their position.  Otto started planning the
traps he would use, though he had to wait for Bosco's return before
setting them.  Belphanior got a fire going, while Peldor and Tanya
prepared some food.

Bosco:  (emerges from the woods, his four ferrets draped across his
  shoulders and neck)  Peldor!  I didn't know you could cook!
Peldor:  Uh...
Tanya:  He's just helping.
Bosco:  Yeah, right.  (he stuffs his ferrets into a large pack)
Belphanior:  That's not the same pack you had in Innspa, is it?
Bosco:  Nope.  The ferrets need room, and my last pack was too small
  for them.
Belphanior:  Maybe you need a pack of holding.
Bosco:  Now there's an idea...as long as they can breathe.  (he
  holds up his pouch, demonstrating the holes he punched in it)
wispy thing:  (hovering around the crackling fire)  Snrrr.
Otto:  (surveys the area)  Good thing we don't have the horses with
  us anymore - they'd not have much to eat.
Belphanior:  These mountain trails are too steep for them, though.
Peldor:  (off-handedly)  Lucky Rillen's not with us...
Tanya:  Trails?  I'd hardly call these mountain passes "trails"...
  more like footpaths.
Bosco:  If even that.  (he considers that the ferrets, while perhaps
  uncomfortable in their pack, cannot be allowed to run loose)  Hmm,
  maybe I should've left them in Greyhawk.
Peldor:  What's that?
Bosco:  Nothing.

  Night fell.  The companions ate, enjoying the warmth of the fire
around which they huddled.  Even in this late summer season, it was
cold up here, in the mountains.  At one point, Otto even took a bit
of food over to the captive jermaline, tied to his tree.

Otto:  I'm giving you one arm free to eat with, understand.
jermaline:  Hungry, hungry!  Me hungry!
Otto:  Yeah.  (he leaves the small humanoid with its meal and returns
  to the camp)
Tanya:  Feeding the hungry again, eh?
Otto:  That's me, a regular humanitarian.
Belphanior:  Heh.
Bosco:  (wolfing down his own food)  I think it's true what they say,
  you're hungrier when it's cold.
Peldor:  You're always hungry, Bosco.
Bosco:  True...(he puts a bit of food into his knapsack)

  Later, after the traps were all set and checked, and the fire had
died down, and everyone was snug and cozy in their bedrolls...

jermaline:  (finding one arm loosely bound, it finally wriggles the
  limb free of the ropes)

  The little guy had been working at his bonds for the better part of
an hour, and now, it had finally paid off.  With one arm free, it was
only a matter of moments before he had his other arm free as well.
Sneaking a peek at the sleeping adventurers to make sure they hadn't
noticed him (they hadn't) the jermaline slunk away into the wooded
mountain trail.
  It was dark, but he knew where he was going, and any fears he might
have had about the elf and his companions paled before his fear of
Cynder.  That, and what the dragon would surely do if he ever found
out that one of his servants had been captured by enemy forces.  For
this reason alone, the jermaline (his name was Gund) crept through
the rocky terrain, wove between huge trees, and avoided dangerous
pitfalls.  He'd been clever, watching Otto as the dwarf set his traps
around the camp.  Gund had known exactly where the spikes and trip-
wires were, and it had been a trivial matter to avoid them on his way
out of the camp.
  Feeling mighty pleased with himself, Gund stopped as he beheld a
familiar landmark:  a huge boulder where the trail split, winding
around the rock before its parts rejoined again.  Using this point
of reference, the jermaline had an easy time finding the cliff that
rose high above the trail, to the left.  From here, he moved along
the rocky face for a short time, until his roving hands found what
he sought.  As if by magic, he vanished into a deeply-shadowed and
nearly-invisible crevice in the cliff.



  From the cover of some scrubby bushes, perhaps fifty feet distant,
two figures watched the jermaline's activities with both interest and
pleasure.

Belphanior:  (gives Otto a thumbs-up)
Otto:  (nods, and they backtrack through the woods)

  Soon...

Peldor:  You mean you _let_ him get away on purpose?!?
Tanya:  And you didn't even tell us?
Belphanior:  More realistic that way.
Bosco:  Ha!  You let him run back to his lair, and tracked him there!
  Masterful!
Belphanior:  It was Otto's idea to trick the jermaline like that.  I
  was just going to kill him.
Otto:  (grins, and begins chewing on a piece of blackroot)
Tanya:  And that's why you gave him something to eat for supper.
Otto:  Of course.  He had to have strength, to run and run like that.
Belphanior:  ...and lead us right to where we wanted to go.
Bosco:  It's great!  Just great!  (he frowns)  So what's our next
  move?
Belphanior:  We probably ought to pack up camp here and move some-
  where else...someplace where that jermaline doesn't know we're
  settled.
Tanya:  You said he disappeared into a crack in the mountain face?
Otto:  Yup.  We may fit, and we may not, but one thing's for sure:
  now we've memorized that area, and one way or another we'll find
  a way in.
Peldor:  Into the dragon's lair...

  They wasted no time, packing up and breaking camp as quickly as
possible.  Rather than relocate to another ground-based site, they
moved to a point on the cliff _above_ the jermalines' entrance.
Belphanior's spell of flying came in handy for both scouting and
transportation in this endeavor.

Otto:  (flies up there using his recently-acquired magical cloak)
Bosco:  (follows, using his winged boots)
Peldor:  (floats up via his levitation boots)
Tanya:  (hands on her hips)  Am I the only one who's not using
  an item or spell to fly?!?
Peldor:  (TKs her into the air behind him)  Quiet, hon, or you'll
  alert the foes.

  Belphanior had found a site well-hidden from any observers
below:  a recessed ledge on the slope above the fissure that the
jermaline had vanished into.  The ledge was backed by a cavern
that actually offered cover from rain and wind.  They moved camp
into this cave and began preparations to scout the surrounding
area.
  After turning invisible, Belphanior flew about unseen, checking
and surveying everything in the vicinity of the cave.  He found
several isolated groups of jermaline, trying but failing to be
concealed.  It seemed that security around here had become lax
with the prolonged absence of Cynder.
  No large entrance - say, one fit for a dragon - was obvious, so
Belphanior did the natural thing.  He flew higher still, looking
for some kind of huge hole in the mountain's face that Cynder would
have used to fly in.  The lack of such an opening led the elf to
believe that the wyrm used some other means of entry; the others
agreed on this idea.

Peldor:  Maybe he shape-changed into something smaller and then
  entered by a normal, ground-level passage.
Belphanior:  Maybe even one sized for jermaline...
Otto:  That would suck - then we wouldn't be able to fit in and
  get in.
Tanya:  Well, except for Bosco.
Bosco:  Maybe not.  (he puffs his chest out proudly)  Those guys
  are a lot smaller than me!
wispy thing:  (zipping about as it explores the cavern)  Pffft!
Peldor:  Well, obviously it'll require some more planning and
  preparation.
Otto:  We excel at that.
Belphanior:  I'm sure we'll figure it out by the next nightfall.
  (he eyes the sky, in which the sun is just coming up on the
  horizon)

  All day long, they rested, checked their equipment, made plans
and reviewed scenarios, and guarded the cave against possible
discovery.  However, the jermalines' patrols didn't extend to
the cliff face above, and the adventurers remained undiscovered
throughout the day.  Belphanior and Peldor did some checking, and
found what appeared to be a normal-sized passage in the cliff
face.  At random times during the day, the tiny humanoids came
and went through this entrance (as with the others) and it didn't
take too long for the group to decide that this was its best
possible point of entry.

Peldor:  (whispering to Belphanior)  Are you sure?  What if they
  have another entrance, masked by illusions?
Belphanior:  (whispering to Peldor)  Nope.  My new eye would've
  picked that up.
Peldor:  (whispering to Belphanior)  It can do that?  I didn't-
Belphanior:  (whispering to Peldor)  Shh!  Now's not the time to
  talk about this!

  Later that afternoon, the regrouped party was gathered around
a crude diagram that Belphanior and Peldor had drawn.

Belphanior:  We'll go in here, later - maybe around midnight.
Otto:  With that dragon gone, they've gotten slack...happens a
  lot.  This should be fairly easy.
Peldor:  We'll have to be ready to dispose of any guards we
  encounter, though.
Otto:  Leave that to me.
Belphanior:  My guess is that this passage, and all the others,
  lead back into a central cavern of some kind.  It's there that
  we'll find the wyrm's treasure.
Bosco:  Treasure galore!
Tanya:  Hopefully not too much to carry out of here.
Belphanior:  I've got a portable hole now...we'll get the good
  loot and leave the heavy or worthless stuff.
Peldor:  Let's not count our chickens before they hatch.  Any-
  thing could happen in there...
Otto:  Agreed.  We mustn't forget to be careful.
Tanya:  I'm sure we won't.
Belphanior:  Well, then...let's try to get some rest.  We'll
  make our move several hours after nightfall.
wispy thing:  (orbiting Belphanior's head cheerfully)  Yrrrp!





next:      into the mountain!
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
           http://www3.hmc.edu/~kshobaki/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     Oh, those jermaline!  Let's see how they do without
  Cynder around to back them up.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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