Chapter #58

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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 utterly 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 (temporarily split up; this is the "sea" group):

Belphanior, 6th/6th/7th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 7th/7th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 8th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Rillen, 8th level human fighter (N)
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Date:   1/7/571 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   early evening
Place:  a lost city buried beneath part of the Suss Forest
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                  LVIII.  Mongo Goes Berserk



  The "sea" party found some sort of dungeon beneath a region of
the Suss Forest and began to explore it.  After facing a few
threats in a complex of five hemispherical chambers arranged in
an "X" pattern, they prepared to descend the spiral staircase
found in the central room...

Rillen:  Come on.  Time to go down.
Ged:  Quit hurrying things, pal.
Mongo:  (hefts his hammer)  He's right, though.  It's time to
  get down there and check this place out!
Belphanior:  I'm ready.  I've had my undead control potion and
  everything.
Ged:  Only _evil_ people try to control undead.  Besides, my
  own spell for detection of evil will surely prove more useful
  than your own measly potions.
Belphanior:  Nyah, nyah.  (making faces at the other elf)
Ged:  Why, you...
Mongo:  Bah.  Enough bickering.  (tromps down the stairs)  Come
  on, Rillen.
Rillen:  (holds the lantern high)  Right.  (descends after the
  dwarf)

  The others followed shortly.  The spiralling stairway led
down about twenty feet, its worn stone steps thick with dust
and cobwebs.  The air in this new, lower section was mustier
even than above, and the whole place reeked of age.  There
were webs to be brushed aside at every turn, though no one
could see any spiders or other such denizens of the underworld.
  The stairway ended in a circular chamber, some thirty feet in
diameter.  There were four doors, spaced equidistantly around
the perimeter of the room; they were of some wood, and quite
thick, to all appearances.  Unlike the other doors above, these
seemed intact despite their age.  The place was made of large
stone blocks, the mortar between them crumbling in some places.
The ceiling was about fifteen feet in height.

Mongo:  (moving over to the northern door)  Wonder what's in
  here?  Hey, it's locked!
Rillen:  Try those keys that you found.
Mongo:  Yeah!  Good idea, I'm glad I thought of it.  Ha ha.
  (tries some of the keys on the ring; one of them opens the
  door)  Hmph.
Belphanior:  They open a lot better this way, eh?
Mongo:  Maybe.  But my way's more fun.
Ged:  You mean kicking the door in.
Mongo:  Yeah, that.  (still holding the door, which is now
  unlocked)
Rillen:  (holds the lantern up)  Well?  Open it.
Mongo:  Sure.  (raises his hammer and pushes the portal ajar)

  Beyond the aged door was another, similarly sized and shaped
room.  It was full of barrels, boxes, and crates, but had no
exits.  Almost all of the various containers were rotted or caved
in.  Unidentifiable substances leaked from some, staining the
floor in many places.

Rillen:  Looks like a storeroom.
Mongo:  Not anymore.  Phew!  Something's rotten in here.
Belphanior:  I don't detect any undead...
Ged:  I can't sense any evil, either, with my spell.  Of course,
  most undead _are_ evil.  Oh well.  Let's check out the things,
  but carefully.
Belphanior:  (poking barrels with his sword)
Rillen:  (knocks in a crate's side with a touch of his staff)
  I hardly touched that box.  These things are too old.
Ged:  (looking around)  I detect no evil in here.
Mongo:  Hey!  Look what I found!  (holds up a small silvered box)
Rillen:  What is inside it?
Mongo:  Dunno.  (opens the container)
Ged:  Hmm.  Looks like stones to me.
Belphanior:  Gems?
Mongo:  No way.  They're not of such quality.
Rillen:  Sling stones.
Mongo:  Huh?
Rillen:  They are sling stones.  Used with a sling.
Ged:  What, do you have a sling?
Rillen:  No.  But I can get one later.
Mongo:  We'll hang onto these.  (stuffs the box in his pack)
Belphanior:  (still searching the contents of this chamber)  I
  can't find anything else here.  No secret doors, even.
Ged:  Let's check out another room.  (they head back into the
  stair room, then take the western door, using another key
  from the ring)
Mongo:  (entering the new room first)  Whoa!
Ged:  What?  What is it?
Rillen:  All I see are a lot of rocks.
Belphanior:  Looks like a cave-in.
Ged:  Yea.  (casts Find Traps on himself)  Hmm.  Well, there
  are no traps here, in any case.
Mongo:  (peering at the mess of fallen stones, collapsed beams,
  and crumbling dust filling the room in front of the party)
  Well, folks, I don't think we can get through this.
Rillen:  Why not?
Mongo:  You wanna dig all this crap away?  Even with a crew of
  ten good dwarves, it'd take us a whole day!
Ged:  We can always come back here.  Let's take a look at one
  of the other exits from the main room.
Belphanior:  I agree.

  They went back to the stair room, again, and this time tried
the southern door, using a third key from the ring found by
Mongo earlier.  This door led into yet another thirty-foot
diameter chamber like all the others.

Ged:  Boy, whoever designed this place was surely one of the
  most creative architects who ever lived.
Mongo:  Aw, come on.  It's not _that bad_.  Simple, but not
  bad.
Rillen:  Many circles, in patterns...
Belphanior:  What?
Rillen:  Karma.
Mongo:  Bah, I say.  (looks around, at this new room, which
  has no exits)  What are these things?
Ged:  (examining one of four old, sagging wooden racks mounted
  on the walls)  Weapon racks?
Mongo:  Hey, I knew that!  Just testing you.
Belphanior:  Duh.
Rillen:  Someone left these weapons and armor here.  I wonder
  if they are still good?  (grabs an old, rusted sword)

  The racks contained various things.  There was a single suit
of plate mail armor, badly rusted, and another suit, of banded
mail, which was human-sized and intact.  Another rack held two
rotten shields, one of them consisting only of metal bands.
There were also two poor-quality swords, a morningstar with
no head, a rusty axe, and several old helms.

Mongo:  (fingering the axe)  Hey, there's a gem in the pommel
  here!
Belphanior:  Let me see that, I'll pry it out.
Mongo:  Don't you dare try and steal that...
Belphanior:  Relax.  I just don't want to see you damage a
  fine gemstone while trying to pry it out with a sword.
Mongo:  Hmph!  (hands the axe over to the elf)
Rillen:  (poking at the helms, knocks a hole in one)  Hmm.
  Whoever left this here was better off without it.  It is
  useless.  Someone who wore this might have lost his head.
Ged:  (opening the plate mail)  What's this?  (grabs a tube
  from inside the suit)  Look here!  I found a scroll case!
Belphanior:  (has the gem extracted by now)  Well, is there
  a scroll inside it?
Ged:  Ungh!  (opens the case)  I wish I was stronger.  Now,
  what's this scroll?
Rillen:  (to Mongo)  Maybe we should open such tubes from now
  on, if the elf is too weak.
Mongo:  Yeah.
Ged:  (reading the scroll)  Damn!  I can't read this scrawl.
  It's in some strange language.
Belphanior:  Let me see that.  (snatches the scroll)
Ged:  Hey, be careful with that!  After all, it's ancient!
Belphanior:  Hmm.  I can't read it either.  Oh well.  For a
  minute there, I though you might have forgotten how to read
  or something.
Ged:  If only I had gotten the read languages spell, no old
  scripts would be immune to my magic...
Mongo:  (examining one of the swords)  This so-called arsenal
  sucks!  No wonder this crap was left here!
Rillen:  (looking toward the central chamber and the remaining
  unknown door)  Time to go.
Ged:  (puts the scroll back in its case)  We'll figure this
  thing out later.
Belphanior:  (searching for secret doors, in vain)  Damn.
Mongo:  Let's split.  (leads the party back into the main room
  and then to the eastern door, which opens with another of the
  keys)

Rillen:  (looking into yet another circular, thirty-foot room)
  This place is empty.
Mongo:  Yup.  But, there's another door across the way, there.
Belphanior:  (checks the ceiling, just in case)
Ged:  That door looks sturdier than the others.
Mongo:  (trying the keys on this new door)  There, it's open.
Rillen:  (raises his staff)  It is pretty dark in there.
Ged:  (looks up intently)  Hold!  I sense beyond, the presence
  of...Evil!
Belphanior:  (concentrating, with his own spell)  No undead,
  though.  Whatever foes await must be alive...
Mongo:  Not for long!  (raises his hammer)  Light it up.
Rillen:  (shines the lantern beam into the area beyond the door,
  revealing a large cavern with several side tunnels)  Look in
  there, it is holey.

  Suddenly, from one of the passages, there appeared a pair of
huge, hulking creatures!  These new arrivals were over eight
feet in height, with large pincers on the sides of their maws.
Each had a small pair of beady little eyes as well as a larger,
multifaceted pair on the side of its head.  These larger eyes
regarded the four adventurers, somehow suggesting chaotic and
insane things...

Mongo:  (fails his save against umber hulk confusion)  Huh?
Rillen:  (saves)  Who are these bug-eyed things?  Their gaze
  is strange...(aims his staff's blade at the nearer of the
  two monsters and enters the room)
Ged:  (saves, easily)  Umber hulks?  Damn, I bet Alindyar
  would know.  (prepares a spell)
Belphanior:  (saves, draws his sword)  Let's see if I can cut
  one of those neat eyes off.  It would make a good trophy.
umber hulks:  Grawwwr!  (lumber toward the party)
Mongo:  (inside the cavern, wandering about aimlessly)  Huh?
Belphanior:  (charges the beasts)

Ged:  (casts a Slow spell at the hulks)  Take that, you bug-
  eyed freaks!
first umber hulk:  (saves, barely)  Rrrrar!  (charges Rillen)
Rillen:  Aaaa!  Here it comes!  (raises his staff to defend
  himself)
second umber hulk:  (fails the save, slowed down considerably)
  Rrrrrrrraarr...
Ged:  That got him!
Belphanior:  Cripes.  He's even slower than he was before!
  (slashes the hulk, nicking its tough hide)  Boy, this thing
  is dense.
first umber hulk:  (bats Rillen, knocking him aside roughly)
  Raargh!
Rillen:  Ooof!  (hits a wall)  Ungh...
first umber hulk:  (approaches Ged)
Ged:  Yipes!
Mongo:  (still wandering around aimlessly, headed for a side
  tunnel)  Hammer, hammer...
Belphanior:  What's wrong with Mongo?!?  We need him now, more
  than ever!
Ged:  Looks like he's confused.  I think umber hulks have some
  kind of gaze weapon.  Maybe he'll snap out of it soon.
Belphanior:  I sure hope so.
Rillen:  (rises to his feet)  Ungh.  Hey, ugly!
first umber hulk:  Rrrgh?  (turns around clumsily)
Rillen:  (smacks the monster over the head with his staff)
umber hulk:  Raaargh!  (lumbers about, swiping at the warrior)
Ged:  Another spell, by Boccob!  (begins preparing to cast a
  second spell)
second umber hulk:  (finally gets a chance to attack, but its
  slowed claws are easily dodged by Belphanior)  Rrrrrrrrrr...

Ged:  Rillen, you keep him busy while I zap him with my spell!
Rillen:  Right.
Ged:  Maybe you could hit his knees and knock him down.  Try
  something, damn it!
Rillen:  (smashes the first hulk in the kneecap, hard)  Topple,
  monster!
umber hulk:  Raargh!  (gashes Rillen on the back with a clawed
  paw)
Rillen:  I do not think he fell for it.  (gets nailed by the
  hulk's other swipe)  Aaargh!
Ged:  No problem.  (casts Blindness, and dashes forth to tap the
  umber hulk, succeeding easily since the thing is busy mauling
  Rillen)
umber hulk:  Rrrr?  (fails to save against the spell)  Raaaar!
  (flails about aimlessly, smashing parts of the cavern wall
  into powder)  Raaaargh!
Ged:  Blinded, by Boccob!  The magic of the Uncaring One conquers
  all this day!
Mongo:  (entering yet another state of confusion, he now seeks
  to attack the nearest creature - which happens at the moment
  to be the second, slowed umber hulk)  Hammer?  (moves toward
  the monster)  Hammer!  (swings his hammer moronically)
second umber hulk:  Rrrr?  Ruh-roh.
Mongo:  Hammer!  (bashes the monster in the belly with the magic
  mallet)
umber hulk:  Rrraaargh!
Belphanior:  All right!  Mongo's back with us!  (stabs the hulk
  in the thigh)
umber hulk:  RRAAARGH!
Mongo:  Hammer!  Hammer!  (leaps up about a foot or so and hits
  the beast again, in the shoulder)  HAMMER!  HAMMER!
umber hulk:  (severely wounded now)  AARGH!  (picks Mongo up
  and hurls him across the cavern, into a side tunnel)
Mongo:  (sailing through the air)  Hammer!  Hammer!  (smacks to
  a halt against a wall)  Urgh.  Hammer!
second umber hulk:  (to the first, in umber hulk language)  Let's
  get the hell out of here!
first umber hulk:  (in umber hulk language)  Yeah!  (runs into a
  wall)
Ged:  What in the hell are they jabbering about?

  Though everyone except Ged was seriously wounded, the pair of
umber hulks turned to a stone wall and quickly tunneled their way
out of this cavern - much to the surprise of the grey elf.

Ged:  Retreat?!  They ran away!
Rillen:  (dragging himself to his feet)  So?
Ged:  No evil creature runs from Boccob's might!  (prepares a
  lightning bolt)
Rillen:  (looking down the tunnel)  They are already out of our
  sight.  Those things dig very fast.
Ged:  Get out of the way of the tunnel.
Belphanior:  (guzzles a potion of extra-healing)  Ahh...
Mongo:  (still confused, stands dumbly to one side)  Hammer?
Ged:  Fry, foul ones!  (sends his bolt down the long, winding
  tunnel that the umber hulks made)  Hah!

  The crackling energy quickly bounced its way down the roughly
hewn corridor and out of sight.  About five seconds later, there
was a loud <CRACK> from somewhere down the tunnel, and the smell
of ozone slowly grew stronger.

Rillen:  I suppose they found that...shocking.
Ged:  I sure hope so.
Mongo:  (looking evilly at the nearest creature - Belphanior)
  Hammer...
Belphanior:  (backing up)  Aw, no!  Look out!  He's at it again!
Ged:  (turns)  Eh?
Mongo:  (stalking Belphanior)  Hammer.  Hammer!
Ged:  For crying out-  (begins casting another spell)
Rillen:  (approaches the confused dwarf)  Calm down, friend.
Mongo:  (eyeing the warrior)  Hammer!  (moves to bash Rillen)
Ged:  Hold!  (casts Hold Person on Mongo)  Stop right there!
Mongo:  (trembles for a moment...then saves)  Hammer!  (swats
  Rillen, catching him on the shoulder with the hammer)
Rillen:  Aaargh!  (backs up a bit)
Ged:  Damn!  That's one tough dwarf there!
Belphanior:  I have an idea.  (uses his ring of spell storing
  to cast Friends on Mongo)  Hey, there, Mongo.  Nice Mongo.
  Why don't you just sit down and have a snack?
Mongo:  Hrm?  (his confused mind ponders this possibility,
  then discards it as he saves)  Hammer!  (charges the elf)
Belphanior:  Yikes!  (dodges aside as the dreaded hammer
  swings by his head)  He's uncontrollable!  We may have to
  kill him to stop him!
Ged:  Not on your life!  (begins casting another spell)

Belphanior:  (sword drawn, he faces Mongo)
Mongo:  Hammer?  (stands slack-jawed, doing nothing)  Hammer...
Ged:  Don't bother him!  Back off, I'm going to try to dispel
  the confusion!  (casts a Dispel Magic)
Belphanior:  (leaps back)  Dispel?!  Wait, what about all his
  potions?
Ged:  Tough luck.  Besides, it's too late anyway.
Rillen:  Dispel?
Mongo:  (eyes roll up, then focus on the party)  What in the
  hells has been going on here?
Ged:  You're cured!
Mongo:  Cured?  Hey, where are the monsters with the bug-eyes?
Rillen:  They went away and had a blast.
Belphanior:  (to himself more than anyone else)  I guess we
  won't have to kill him now.
Mongo:  Ahhh!  Hey, I'm cut up!  I'm bleeding!
Rillen:  So you are.
Ged:  Hold on.  (casts curative spells on Rillen and Mongo)
Rillen:  Thank you.
Mongo:  Ditto.  Say, did those things have any loot?
Belphanior:  (making a cursory check of the main cave)  Sure
  thing.  (poking through a pile of rubble)  Gold!
Mongo:  Gold?  Gold!  I knew I smelled treasure!  (goes over
  to the pile and starts separating coins from stones)
Ged:  That looks like a lot of gold...

  They eventually got the gold loaded into sacks, which were
set aside to be picked up later (they buried the loot with a
layer of dust from the cavern floor).  Among the coinage, they
also found three metal potion bottles, a wax-sealed stone tube
containing eleven well-crafted crossbow bolts, and a wand in
a velvet covering.  All these were confiscated by Mongo, who
noticed that one of his own potions had somehow broken and was
dripping all over his backpack...
  They set about exploring the tunnels, and soon found that
most were short dead-ends or loops back into the main cavern.
A single passage actually led somewhere, so they followed it
for five minutes or so until it, too, ended.  However, the
ground at the terminus of the tunnel was broken, and overlooked
some sort of dungeon corridor.  This new place was much more
evenly carved, having smooth walls obviously made by civilized
beings (as opposed to umber hulks, who were not generally known
for their architectural finesse).  The party rested for a while
in the large tunnel, having dinner and binding their wounds
before continuing into the newly discovered region.

Mongo:  Somebody have a rope handy?
Belphanior:  Here.  (they lower a rope about fifteen feet, to
  the dusty floor below)  I'll climb down first.  Everybody
  try and keep the noise down...(descends)
Mongo:  (whispering loudly)  I'm next.  (lowers himself down)
Ged:  (goes as well, followed by Rillen)
Rillen:  I need more oil for the lantern.
Belphanior:  (refuels his lantern with a flask)  Sure thing.

  They were now in a long, rectangular chamber.  The hole in
its ceiling gaped above, and a pile of old rubble marked its
opening into this room some time past.  A stout wooden door
was visible at the western end of the room, and another exit
along the north wall was caved-in, impassable due to a number
of large rocks that flowed through it into the room.  They
opened the door, which was locked, using the keyring found
far above, and cautiously entered a corridor.  They were at
its northern end, facing another door ahead, and the passage
itself went southward and split two ways after a distance.

Mongo:  (tries the keys, finding one that works)  I'll open
  it, you cover me in case something jumps out.
Belphanior:  Right.  (raises his sword)
Ged:  By the way, guys, the door is free of traps.
Mongo:  (opens the door, revealing a forty-foot section of
  passage into a large, square room)  Phew!
Belphanior:  No undead.
Ged:  No traps.  And no evil.
Rillen:  Look there.  The room is full of dead bodies.

  Indeed, it was.  There were dozens of dry husks strewn
about this chamber.  They were quite old, most of them in
several pieces, and appeared to have been smashed by some
powerful force.  Their limbs were splintered like dry wood,
and some of their heads had been knocked in like brittle
eggs.  Besides this eerie carnage, there was nothing else
in the room, despite the adventurers' searching of the
stench-filled place.

Ged:  I'm about to vomit.  Let's get out of here and leave
  the dead to their peace.
Rillen:  Pieces.
Mongo:  Yeah.
Belphanior:  (stubbornly searching the room)  Wait!  I
  found some kind of hatch in the floor here.
Mongo:  Hmm.  Let me see.  (they manage to pry it up,
  revealing a neatly carven tunnel going a short distance
  eastward)
Belphanior:  I'll lead.  (dives in, before anyone else has
  a chance)
Mongo:  Damn it.  (follows the elf)

  They found a smaller, secret room, which contained nothing
but a chest.  Ged detected no traps, and so they opened the
container and found eight metal cones within.  These were
about a foot long and half a foot wide at the base, and were
surprisingly lightweight.  The cones were put in another sack
before the party went back to the corpse room.

Mongo:  This place stinks.  Let's go.  (they exit, and turn
  south, looking down the passage)





         ___________________________&.__________      N
        |    B  __________\  \ A     %       #  |    W+E
        |      |    | C  ||  |__________________|     S
        |______|    |____||  |
      _        __&.__     |  |_____________________________
.. __| \______|  ^~  |____|   ______    ______    ______   |
      E _\____    D   _______|      |  |      |  |      |  |
      _/      |______|
      \_
.. ____/     A   entry room               &.   rubble
             B   corpse room               %
             C   secret room
             D   cave-in room/runes        \   door
             E   river room/cave/pool      #   broken ceiling



Mongo:  (leads the way ahead and rightward, into a room filled
in part by a collapsed exit)  Cave-in.

  This next room was squarish, with a short exit passage ending
in a thick, wooden door.  The room's northern wall appeared to
have once been a stairway up, but it was now totally filled
with rubble.  There were some glowing runes on the southern
wall, which immediately caught the party's interest.

Rillen:  Glowing letters.
Ged:  Runes?  To hell with this.  (casts Read Magic)  Aha!
  My hunch was correct!
Belphanior:  Well, I don't want to waste my own spell, so why
  don't you fill the rest of us in?  What do they say?
Ged:  Oh, right.  They say, in magical script, "THE WAY IS
  CLOSED FOR NOW"...
Mongo:  Oh, how useful!  Damned runic shitheads...
Belphanior:  (examining the wall, careful not to touch the
  runes)  There are no secret panels or such here.  It's
  just a wall.
Rillen:  We could try the door there.
Mongo:  Yeah!  That's my vote!  Try the door.

  They did, and it was unlocked and untrapped.  The cavern
beyond was fairly spacious, and had a river flowing through
it, against one wall.  This underground stream entered and
exited through small holes at either end of the cave.  A
small pool had formed at one point along its course, its
clear waters sparkling in the lantern's light.

Belphanior:  (using his Detect Undead, which is still in
  effect)  No undead in the pool.
Rillen:  Why would they want to go swimming, anyway?
Ged:  (scanning the pool)  The holy powers of Boccob see
  no evil - or traps - in it either.  That thing at the
  bottom looks a lot like a skeleton, though.  So, who
  wants to dive in and check it out?
Belphanior:  (stripping his weapons and items off)  I'll
  go.
Mongo:  No, I'll go!  I'm the strongest!
Belphanior:  You'd take ten minutes to get out of that
  plate mail.  This won't take long.
Ged:  He's right.  Just let him go and risk his neck.
Mongo:  (grumbling)

  Belphanior tested the icy water of the pool, then waded
in and examined the sunken skeleton.  All he could find
was a silvery ring on one of its body fingers, and he had
to give it up, since the party could see his every move.
Soon, he had emerged, dried off, and re-dressed himself.
The party went back to the eastern passage, which had not
one, not two, but _three_ visible branches; they rested for
a bit before advancing down it.





next time:  Juggernaut!

FTP SITE: tybalt.caltech.edu (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
********************************************************************
NOTES:  Okay, okay!  Normal gemstones don't break if you drop them
on the ground.  This ominous fate seemed to threaten the gems that
Ged and Belphanior found in the last episode.  It was late, what
can I say?
********************************************************************




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