Chapter #59

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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.
*****

------------------------------------------------------------------
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)
------------------------------------------------------------------
Date:   1/7/571 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   evening
Place:  a lost city buried beneath part of the Suss Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------



                       LIX.  Juggernaut!



  The party has explored a bit of this level, and now faces an
eastward passage which branches into three others.



party's    |_____________________________       N
current *> _______    ______    ______   |     W+E
location    ______|  |      |  |      |  |      S
           |      |  |
           |______\  |
            ______|  |
           |  ____   |
         __| |__  |  |
        |       | |  |
        |_______| |  |
                __|  |__
               |        |
               |        |
               |________|



Mongo:  Well. this is simple enough.  (takes the first of the
  passages to the right, the closest)  Hey, how about that?  A
  door!  (touches the old, crusty wooden door, which collapses
  at the slight touch)  Well, shit.  It's rotten.
Ged:  (enters the room, scanning it)  No evil, no traps.  This
  room is dead.
Belphanior:  (remembers that his detect undead spell is still
  in effect)  No, it's not.  I detect no undead.  (looking for
  secret exits)  Must have been a storeroom.
Rillen:  To store air in, maybe.  (they leave, and continue
  southward, taking the next side passage)
Belphanior:  (looking into a small open room ahead)  It's a
  green room.
Mongo:  No kidding...
Ged:  Yah!  Watch it, there!  That's green slime on the walls!
Rillen:  Slime?
Belphanior:  (backs off)  Yeah, so it is.  I say we retreat and
  blast the whole room from afar.
Ged:  Whatever.
Mongo:  We sure can't walk around in _there_.  It's totally
  coated, walls, floor, and ceiling.

  They backed up, but decided not to waste a spell - unless the
slime followed them, or something unusual like that.  There was
one more room to the south of this passage, which had some junk
littering the floor - a broken arrow, a dagger hilt, a cracked
and empty flask, and a rusty helm with a lethal-looking dent in
it.  None of this junk seemed worth salvaging, so the foursome
returned to the main passage, and proceeded down the next tunnel.



           |
PREVIOUSLY |_____________________________       N
 EXPLORED ________    ______    ______   |     W+E
  AREAS _|  ______|  |      |d |__    |  |      S
           |  a   |  |    __|  \__|
           |______\  |   |__\  |__
            ______|  |    __|  \__|   a = empty storeroom
           |  ____   |   |__\  |__    b = green slime room
         __| |__  |  |    __|  \__|   c = junk room
        |   b   | |  |   |__\  |_     d = party's current location
        |_______| |  |      |    |            (headed southward)
                __|  |__    |____|
               |        |
               |   c    |
               |________|




Mongo:  A new door.  All right!  (kicks open a door to his left,
  revealing a small, cubical crypt beyond)  Phew!  Something's
  rotten in here.
Belphanior:  Undead!  There are undead within!
Ged:  Aha!  I knew it!
rotting corpse:  AAAUUURRRR!  (shambles toward the party)
Rillen:  I guess we did not catch _him_ sleeping...
Ged:  (brandishing his holy symbol of Boccob)  Back, scum!
zombie:  Aur?!  (disintegrates into a pile of dust)
Ged:  Ha!  That showed him!
Rillen:  Another one bites the dust.
Mongo:  Good going, Ged.  (peeps into the room)  He's got some
  kind of coffin-thing.
Belphanior:  (examining an old wooden box)  Nothing here.  No
  hidden loot, nothing.  Damn!  (kicks the coffin, and it falls
  into rotten pieces)
Mongo:  Let's check the next room.
Ged:  Try the handle first this time.  Maybe it's unlocked.
Mongo:  Hrmph.  (opens the next door, revealing another, identical
  crypt)  Hey!  There's another thing in here!  (bashes a rotting
  fiend who leaps upon him)  Help!
Ged:  (sticks his holy symbol right in the thing's face)  Begone,
  foul one!
ghoul:  (recoils, and flees)
Belphanior:  (noting that he can detect the undead with his spell
  even as it runs by him)  Undead?  (slashes the ghoul with his
  sword, chopping a leg off and sending the thing to the floor)
Mongo:  Right on!  Don't let it get away!  (hurls his hammer,
  striking the monster in the back of the head and splattering
  Belphanior with rotting grey matter)
Belphanior:  Thanks.
Mongo:  At least he - it - won't get away and attack us later.
  We don't want that to happen...(catches his hammer)
Ged:  Bah.  Boccob's raw power proved too much for the fiend.
  His doom was imminent.
Belphanior:  (wiping gore from his cloak)  Ugh.  Perhaps I shall
  someday invent an anti-undead-guts spell.
Rillen:  (to Belphanior)  Do you detect undead _now_?
Belphanior:  Very funny.
Mongo:  (searching the small room)  Nothing.  Again.  I guess
  these guys weren't too important or rich when they were alive.
Ged:  (enthused by his undead-turning prowess today)  Let's get
  on with it, and search the other rooms!
Mongo:  (opens the next room - there are six doors, total)
Belphanior:  (concentrating, notices that he can detect the
  undead beyond _through_ the door)  Uh-
scrawny humanoid:  (shuffles toward the party, hissing)  Ssss!
Belphanior:  Undead!
Rillen:  Why did you not tell us?  (raises his staff)
Ged:  Out of the way!  (faces the thing, glowing holy symbol
  held before him)  Back to hell, red-eyed undead!
wight:  (flees into a corner)
Mongo:  We need to kill that thing!
Belphanior:  (dashes over and backstabs the wight, wounding it
  seriously)
Ged:  No, you fool!  The turning is undone once we bother it!
  Now it will attack again!
Mongo:  No it won't.  (fires his hammer, slaying the creature)
Ged:  Oh.
Belphanior:  (searching)  No loot.
Ged:  That's okay.  Strictly speaking, we're not graverobbers.
Rillen:  Hmm.
Belphanior:  We're not?
Ged:  Of course not.
Belphanior:  Oh.  Well, then, I will think of any treasure gained
  as...tax.
Ged:  Whatever turns you on.  Let's get into the rest of these
  rooms.
Mongo:  (moving to the fourth of the six doors)
Belphanior:  Wait.  I detect undead beyond.
Mongo:  Snort!  (kicks the door down, revealing a dark, shadowy
  form poised to strike)  Aaaah!  (quickly hurls his hammer at
  the creature, but misses!)  Huh?
Rillen:  You missed.
Belphanior:  (sword raised)  You missed.
Ged:  Boccob!  (raises his holy symbol)  Begone!  Flee, vile one!
wraith:  (hesitates - then flits to a corner)
Ged:  Whew!  These undead are getting more powerful.
Belphanior:  Let's take no chances with this one.  (he, and Mongo,
  and Rillen all charge the cowering wraith simultaneously, and
  manage to dispatch it quickly)
wraith:  (evaporates)
Rillen:  What a gas.
Mongo:  Bah.  These things are no challenge.
Ged:  Oh really?  Try fighting without Boccob's power to help you,
  then.
Mongo:  You're on!  Let's check the next room.  (they do, this time
  using Rillen to open the door and then back away, allowing Ged a
  prime opportunity for undead turning; Mongo holds his hammer at
  the ready next, for backup, and Belphanior stands opposite, for
  backstabbing purposes should anything charge Mongo)
Rillen:  Ready?  (opens the next door)
semi-material man:  Die!  (floats toward the party)
Ged:  Away!  Away!  (waves his holy symbol wildly)
spectre:  Hahahahah!
Ged:  Yie!  (leaps back)
Mongo:  Move it!  I'll handle this joker!  (throws his hammer at
  the apparition, wounding it)
spectre:  Argh!  (pounces upon Mongo)
Mongo:  AAAAAAAAARGH!
spectre:  Ha ha.  Your life force is mine, dwarf!
Belphanior:  Holy shit!  It's got Mongo!  (stabs the thing in
  the back, as it is occupied with Mongo)  Die, motherfucker!
spectre:  Argh!  (wheels about)  You are next, elf!
Mongo:  (quivering)  Cold...so cold...
Rillen:  (bashes the fiend with his staff)
spectre:  (injured, wondering where the party got all these magic
  weapons)
Ged:  (looking through his backpack)

Belphanior:  (backing away from the spectre)  Stay the hell away
  from me, you transparent son of a bitch!
Rillen:  (hits the thing again)  You heard him.
Ged:  Aha!  (uncorks a vial of holy water and splashes it on the
  monster)
spectre:  Aaaaaa!  (writhes in pain)
Belphanior:  (sensing an opening, slashes the spectre again)
spectre:  Damn you...(dies, and vanishes)
Rillen:  He did not stick around for long.
Mongo:  Uhhh...(rises to his feet)  I feel weak...
Ged:  By Boccob!  I'll bet that thing drained some of your life
  force!
Belphanior:  (winces)
Rillen:  How unpleasant.
Mongo:  I'll be okay.  I can make it.  (sips some of his healing
  potion jug)
Ged:  I have no spells to help you.  We'll have to see what can
  be done when we reach Greyhawk.
Mongo:  I'm fine, really.
Ged:  Okay, then.  Let's finish this wing, and take a break.
Rillen:  (stands ready by the sixth door)
Belphanior:  I sense undead in here, too.
Ged:  And evil...
Rillen:  (opens the door)

  Beyond was another dark room, with a wooden coffin resting on a
raised stone slab in the center of the chamber.  The thing was in
a remarkable state of preservation, considering the other wooden
furniture found already in this place.  Suddenly, a shadowy form
strode forth, and the hairs on the back of the adventurers' necks
stood on end.  This new adversary was draped in black cloaks, and
mists coiled and recoiled at his feet.  Short, black hair framed
the pale, chalky face, the long, thin nose, the burning red eyes,
the sharp, white teeth...

Rillen:  Who is this sucker?
Belphanior:  (mesmerized)
vampire:  (to Belphanior)  Put down that sword, elf.  Join me in
  everlasting death.
Belphanior:  Y...uh...um...(drops his weapon)
Ged:  (leaps forth, and sticks his holy symbol right in the evil
  one's face)  Back, foul creature of the dark!  Leave that poor
  fool alone!
vampire:  (against the odds, he succumbs, and is driven back by
  the power of Boccob)  Hssssssss!
Mongo:  Wow.
vampire:  We will meet again, priest...(turns into gas and seeps
  through one of many tiny cracks in here)
Ged:  (staring at his holy symbol)  Boccob...
Belphanior:  (breaks out of his trance, and looks around)  Huh?!?
Rillen:  (slaps the elf on the back)  That thing almost had you,
  there.
Belphanior:  Vampire?  Evil?  Charm?  (picks up his sword)
Mongo:  (looking around)  No treasure here.
Ged:  Let's have a look in that area to the south.
Belphanior:  (pondering recent events)  That vampire had better
  not show his face again.  Or I'll cut it off.

  The party searched the small area at the end of the passage of
crypts, but it was devoid of exits and traps.  They went back up
to the "main" passage, and took the third branch...



           |   * = Current location of party
PREVIOUSLY |_____________________________          N
 EXPLORED ________    ______    ______   |        W+E
  AREAS _|  ______|  |      |  |__    | *|______   S
           |      |  |    __|  \__|   |   __    |
           |______\  |   |__\  |__    |  |__+   |
            ______|  |    __|  \__|   |   ______|
           |  ____   |   |__\  |__    |  |
         __| |__  |  |    __|  \__|   |  |______
        |       | |  |   |__\  |_     |   __    |
        |_______| |  |      |    |    |  |__+   |
                __|  |__    |____|    |   ______|
               |        |   __________|  |__
               |        |  |    \    \      |
               |________|__|.___|____|      |
                        |O      |    |      |
                        |O______|    |      |
                            _________|      |   ____
                           |                |  |+   |
+ = wall pegs (3)          |  golem room    |__|    |
\ = door                   |.__________________\    |
. = door                   | $____|            |    |
$ = secret door            |      |            |____|
O = vat                    |      |
                           |      |
                           |      |
                           |______|




Mongo:  This way.  (he takes the first left, into a vaguely "O"
  shaped area)  Hmm.  No one's here.
Belphanior:  What's that on the wall, there?

  On a peg, against the section of wall in the middle of the "O"
shaped area, was a foot-long dull metal rod, tipped by a silvery
sphere of 4" diameter.  Ged detected no traps or evil, so the item
was examined.

Ged:  I have no idea what this thing might be.
Rillen:  Maybe it is magic.
Mongo:  Wouldn't even make a good mace.
Belphanior:  Let's hang on to it, and identify it later.

  They moved on, to another "O" shaped area to the immediate south
of the first.  Incredibly, there was _another_ rod on a wall peg
there, this one with a black pyramidal head.  It, too, was taken
by the party (Mongo wondered if one might wield both of the things
at the same time well, or not).  The large, open area to the south
was entered next, and the party moved through a door to their right
and into an empty twenty-foot square room.

Mongo:  Bah.  Hey, there's another door ahead!  (opens this one as
  well)
Belphanior:  Hmm.  Tapestries.
Ged:  Quite rotten, too.  Rillen, cover that door.
Rillen:  With what?  (pulls a tapestry from the wall, and it rips
  rather easily)  This is moldy.  (spies something)  Look!
Ged:  What?
Rillen:  (reaches into a wall niche and grabs a scroll)  Someone
  left this here for us.
Ged:  Careful, that may be cursed or something.
Belphanior:  (searching fruitlessly behind the other tapestry)
  Fuck it all!
Mongo:  What's that thing say?
Ged:  I can't read it.  But look here, there is some kind of
  diagram.  It shows a square, a circle, and a triangle, in that
  order.  Maybe this great knowledge will help us somehow.
Mongo:  No doubt.  (opens the next door)  Hey, there's skeletons
  in here!
Belphanior:  They are inanimate.
Mongo:  Huh?
Ged:  They're not moving.  Dead.
Rillen:  That is a relief.
Belphanior:  (headed for a pair of 4' high vats to one side of the
  otherwise empty chamber)  Wonder what's in these?
Mongo:  (wanders around the room)  No exits, nothing.
Rillen:  (looking down into a vat)  This thing is empty, too.
Belphanior:  (sniffing the water in the other vat)  Phew!

  Suddenly, the brackish water inside the vat by the elf stirred,
bubbling and hissing.  A huge, watery form rose from the stone
container, dripping all over the floor.  Massive, it easily hit
the ceiling, and it was quite broad as well, seeming to fill the
entire side of the room as it reared up.

Mongo:  Holy shit!  (raises his hammer)  What in the hells is
  THAT?!?
Ged:  (backing away)  Maybe an elemental, I'm not sure.
Belphanior:  (pulls out his magical bowl and addresses the water-
  thing)  Stop, you!
water-thing:  (wavers above the vat)
Rillen:  I think it is listening to you.
Ged:  It's not attacking us...
Belphanior:  Follow us!  Ally yourself with us!
water-thing:  (subsides into the vat)
Belphanior:  Hmm.  I guess I can't just control any random water
  creature that I find.
Rillen:  It seems not.
Ged:  Let's explore some other part of this complex.  That thing
  was pretty good-sized, and I doubt that we want to waste our
  spells on it...
Belphanior:  Agreed.  (they leave, having found nothing of any
  interest in here)

  The party entered the large, open area once more, and moved
through it.  It was shaped like a backwards "L" of massive
dimensions.  Suddenly as the party rounded the corner of the
chamber, there was a trembling in the floor, and a large form
lumbered toward them.  It was some twelve feet in height (the
ceiling here was twenty feet high), and appeared to be made
of dull stone, in the shape of a powerfully-muscled human of
oversized proportions.

Mongo:  Uh-oh.  (raises his hammer)  Stop or I'll whack you!
golem:  (lumbers onward)
Rillen:  I do not think he is scared of you.
Belphanior:  Or any of us.  Split up!  That way, he can't fight
  more than one of us at a time.
Ged:  Good idea!  (running in a different direction)  He may be
  big, but he's slow too!
Mongo:  Bah.  I will hold my ground.  (hurls his hammer at the
  construct)
golem:  <CLANG>  (hit in the chest by the magical weapon, it
  is barely slowed at all)
Mongo:  Uhh...
Belphanior:  Oh shit.  That sounded metallic.
iron golem:  (swats Mongo, sending him back 30' into a wall)
Mongo:  Aaaaaa....<SLAM>  Urgh...(dazed)
iron golem:  (turns toward Ged)
Ged:  Boccob, Boccob...(readies a spell quickly)
Belphanior:  (likewise)
Rillen:  (furthest from the golem, has his bow strung)  Have
  some arrows, metal man.  (fires a pair of arrows at the
  golem from afar)
iron golem:  (ignores the missiles as they bounce off of him)
Mongo:  (weakly catches his hammer as he lies dazed on the ground)
  Urgh...

Mongo:  (drinks a potion of fire giant strength)  gulp gulp...
Ged:  (facing the onrushing golem, shrouds the golem with a web)
  Hah!  Let's see you get through _that_!
Belphanior:  (ready with his spell)
iron golem:  (rips through the webs with ease, dragging them
  along as he charges Ged)
Ged:  Whoa!  (dodges aside as the golem smashes the floor where
  he stood)  That was close!
Belphanior:  (fires Melf's Minute Meteors at the golem)  I'll get
  him!
iron golem:  (ignores the missiles as they explode upon him)
Belphanior:  Oh shit!  Nothing will stop this guy!
Rillen:  (fires more arrows, which bounce off again)  Hmm.  (puts
  his bow away)
Mongo:  ARRR!  (leaps up, and fires off his hammer at the golem)
  I'm baaaack!
iron golem:  <CLANG>  (hit by the weapon, actually staggered)
Ged:  Mongo!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Ha!
iron golem:  (faces the dwarf again)
Mongo:  Come on, you sonofabitch!  Come ON!  I'm pumped up and
  ready for you now!
iron golem:  (charges Mongo)

Rillen:  (approaches Ged, staff raised)  Perhaps we should back
  away and find someplace to hide.
Ged:  Not yet, by Boccob!  (casting a spell)
Belphanior:  (uses his wand to fire a lightning bolt at the golem)
golem:  <CRACK>  (slows down considerably)
Belphanior:  That got to him!
Ged:  (notes that Mongo is still a good distance away from the
  creature; sends some Evard's Black Tentacles at the golem)
iron golem:  (snared by ten of the rubbery, magical things)
Ged:  Boccob!
Rillen:  I would say that he is all tied up.
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer again, denting the golem's head)  Yah!
Belphanior:  Just goes to show you what giant strength will do
  for you...
Mongo:  Damn straight!
iron golem:  (snapping the tentacles one by one)
Ged:  By the gods...can _nothing_ stop it?!?
Mongo:  (notes that the golem is still slowed down, and moves in
  for melee)  Hey!  Hey, you!  I'm not done with you yet!  (runs
  up and bashes the golem, knocking it's head off)  Huh?
iron golem:  (falls down)
Belphanior:  (watches the head roll across the floor)  Fore!
Ged:  I'm glad Mongo came with our group, instead of those other
  idiots.
Mongo:  (watches the golem's body cease to move, as the head hits
  a wall across the big room)  Yeah!
Rillen:  Now there he went and lost his-
Belphanior:  (turns to Rillen)  Stop.
Rillen:  Eh?
Belphanior:  Your wit overwhelms me.  I can't take any more.
Rillen:  Whatever you say.
Mongo:  (steps on the golem shell and raises his hammer)  Mongo!
  Let's hear it for Mongo the triumphant!
Ged:  Say, you look pretty bruised up there.  How about some
  healing magic for Mongo the mighty?
Mongo:  I won't complain.
Ged:  (heals Mongo)  There you go.
Mongo:  Thanks.

  The golem had no possessions at all, and the party went through
the western door, into a good-sized room.  This chamber was full
of rotted robes on wall pegs - and a third rod, too, this one
with a red crystal, cubical tip.  The rod was put with the others
in a sack, and the foursome moved to the other exit, a door in
the southwestern wall.  The door was rotted, and the room beyond
had three collapsed couches and a pair of tables with chairs.
All this furniture was old and rotten.  A chest was present in
one corner; since Ged's spell had expired, Belphanior checked
the container for traps, and finding none, opened it.  Inside
were four 6" diameter metal spheres, tucked among some more
rotted robes.  Ged searched for and found a secret door, and
the party descended the stairs behind it.  They were in an
octagonal chamber with a door at the far end...



                __     __
          ____/    \ /    \
stairs -> ____      #      |
              \ __ / \ __ /
    N
   W+E       # = door
    S




Mongo:  Phew!  What's that smell?
Belphanior:  It's a smell I know well...ozone.
Rillen:  Look at these carvings.
Ged:  Boccob...

  The room had twelve figures carved into the walls, in explicit
detail.  The depictions were of almost...divine quality.

  - large, muscled warrior in loincloth
  - old, wizened man with scythe
  - skeletal woman with glowing hands
  - evil-looking man
  - bearded man with rock in hand
  - savage-looking, barbaric man
  - jovial, winking man
  - man sitting on a chair of clouds
  - foppish dandy
  - enraged man with fiery hair
  - sly, shifty-eyed man
  - man underwater, surrounded by fish


Mongo:  What great workmanship!
Belphanior:  They must be great heroes.
Ged:  Or gods.
Rillen:  That one with the shifty eyes looks like Peldor.
Mongo:  (examining the carvings)  Hmm.
Belphanior:  (checking the door to the east for traps)
Ged:  (concentrating)  By Boccob!  I have it!
Rillen:  What are you talking about?
Ged:  Suel!  This whole place, it's a Sueloise city!
Mongo:  Huh?  The Suel people are long gone.  What in the hells
  are you saying?
Ged:  (excitedly)  No, no!  These are Sueloise gods!  There are
  twelve major deities in the Suel pantheon!  This city...See,
  long, LONG ago, there was a great war between the Sueloise
  people and the Baklunish people.  They basically obliterated
  each other's empires with terrible magic.  Anyway, the Suel
  people had a few cities scattered about the world.  One such
  lost city is rumored to be here, in the Suss Forest.  That's
  what this place is - a massive, lost, sunken city from many
  centuries past!  And we've found it!  Or part of it.  This
  whole place that we've explored is probably just  a single
  building within a whole city.  Just _one building_!
Belphanior:  Makes sense.
Ged:  These scrolls that we found - they're probably written
  in ancient Sueloise.  That's why none of us know the script.
  And...the Sueloise had mighty magicks, spells beyond the
  realm of modern understanding.  We might find some in here!
Belphanior:  (eyes alight)  Heh.  Good.
Mongo:  Neat story.  (examining the carving of the large,
  muscled warrior)
Rillen:  Sooloyse.  Got it.
Ged:  Let's get on with our search, then.
Mongo:  (touches the carving)  AAA!  (jolted, he flies back a
  few feet)
Belphanior:  What?!?  (draws his sword)
Mongo:  (eyes alight)  KORD!
Ged:  That's one of their gods!
Mongo:  (dazed)  Huh?  What's going on?
Rillen:  (helps the dwarf to his feet)  It will be all right.
Mongo:  (not sure, but feels like his lost energy levels have
  returned)  Whoa.
Ged:  Let's get out of here.  Who knows what these others will
  do if touched?
Belphanior:  The door is okay, no traps.  (they move through
  it)

  They entered a thirty-foot diameter circular room, with a
raised stone dais in the center.  Around this base were twelve
depressions, spaced equidistantly; four were hemispherical,
while eight were tapering pointed holes.  Seizing upon the
moment, Ged and Belphanior collected the four metal spheres
from the recent room, as well as the eight cones from the
earlier room, and the party commenced putting these in the
appropriate slots.  Even Mongo seemed to understand what was
going on.  Upon the completion of this task, the dais shook
with a slight vibration, and then sunk until it was level with
the rest of the floor.  A foot-thick pedestal rose from the
room's center, to a height of three feet.

Ged:  Aha!  It has three depressions - one cubical, one
  spherical, and one pyramidal!
Belphanior:  Put those rods we found into those slots!
Mongo:  (hands the items over)  Here you go.
Ged:  (he and Belphanior insert the cubical rod first, then
  the spherical rod, and the pyramidal one last)  There.
Belphanior:  Let's hope something interesting happens.

  The three rod hafts sunk down into the pedestal, and then
the pedestal itself sunk.  A deep, disembodied voice spoke,
saying "THE WAY IS OPEN".  Ged heard this message in grey
elven, Mongo heard it in dwarven, and so forth.

Mongo:  Way?  What way?
Rillen:  (looking around, staff raised defensively)  Where
  did that voice come from?
Ged:  Wha...?
Belphanior:  Where was the "way" not open before?
Ged:  Back in that rubble-filled room, with the magical runes
  on the wall!  Those runes said that the way was closed for
  now...
Rillen:  But "now" was then, and now is now!
Mongo:  (cleaning crud from his hammer)  Huh?
Belphanior:  Let's get back there and check it out!

  They rushed back to the mentioned room, and sure enough,
there was an opening where a wall had been.  A long, straight
staircase, ten feet in width, led downward - but stopped while
still thirty feet above the floor below.  The stone steps just
ended in thin air!
  At this point, Rillen's lantern ran out of fuel again.  As
Belphanior sought more oil from his supplies, Ged decided to
cast a continual light spell, and did so on an empty flask.
Rillen wedged the flask onto the end of his staff, and then
Belphanior found some rope and tied it to a large boulder
from the nearby rubble.  The party rested, ate, and then went
down the rope, one by one.

  They touched bottom about sixty feet below, or thirty feet
from the point where the stairs ended.  This new chamber was
gargantuan, well over two hundred feet wide on either side;
it was roughly square in shape.  The ceiling was about forty
feet high (the stairs went up into it).  A narrow stone arch
was barely visible on the far side of the chamber, with a
small area open behind it.  A large mass of stone was also
visible, next to the archway; it appeared to be some kind of
siege weapon or ram.  The floor here was soft, like rock that
had decayed over many centuries into pebble-filled clay.

Rillen:  Our voices are booming in here...
Mongo:  Old ground, old rocks, guys.  (holds up some clay)
  Now _this_ is a piece of history.
Belphanior:  If you say so.  (they move out into the center of
  the room)
Ged:  Hey!  What's that big hunk of stone doing?  (points to
  the ram-thing in the distance)

  Oddly enough, the lump of stone now seemed more defined,
some kind of siege engine perhaps.  It was about twenty feet
wide, thirty feet long, and ten feet high, with three rollers
on its bottom - one in front, one in back, and one in the
middle.  The rollers were of stone as well, with prominent
spikes scattered about their surfaces.  A series of rams was
arrayed along the thing's sides, with three on either side.
These rams featured the heads of goats, bulls, and such
animals.  Unusually, there seemed to be no place for a crew
to man the thing...

Mongo:  (as they draw closer; they are now about a hundred
  and fifty feet from the arch)  Hey, is it just me, or is
  that thing _moving_?
Belphanior:  (raises his sword)  It's not just you!  It IS
  moving!
Mongo:  I thought so!
Ged:  I think it's rolling this way...(begins spellcasting)
Rillen:  !

  The massive engine was trailing dust and pebbles as it
picked up speed, heading right for the party.  Still a hundred
feet distant, it looked like it was moving at a fairly rapid
clip.  Small stones and large were ground flat beneath its
dreadful rollers, and several inches of the ground were sunken
behind it, proof of its massive bulk.

Belphanior:  Oh shit!  It's headed right for us!  It wants to
  run over us!
Mongo:  What do you mean, "it"?!?
Belphanior:  Do you see a crew manning it?!?!  Run!!
Ged:  I'll blast it!  (casts a fireball spell)  There's plenty
  of room in here!

  The huge ball of fire exploded right on the stone construct,
sending tongues of flame in all directions.  The inferno rose
up, and even from this far away, the adventurers could feel
the heat of Ged's mighty spell.  Then, a massive form emerged
from the flames.  The rollers were spraying fire behind them,
and the entire stony form was ablaze - but it kept rolling,
right for the party, like a herald of imminent doom.

Ged:  By Boccob...!
Belphanior:  Come ON!  RUN!
Rillen:  (already sprinting away)  You don't have to tell me
  twice.
Belphanior:  RUN!  (headed in the opposite direction of Rillen)
Ged:  (dashes in yet another direction, as does Mongo)

  Unfortunately, one of the four was slower, much slower, than
his companions.  Mongo, naturally short-limbed anyway, couldn't
move very fast with all his armor on.  The huge stone juggernaut,
a mindless, millennia-old killing machine, sensed an easy kill
and veered its course slightly to track the dwarf.

Mongo:  Aaaaaa!  I can't run fast enough!
Ged:  Come on, Mongo!  Run!
Rillen:  Run faster!
Mongo:  (turns around, and sees the juggernaut right behind him
  and gaining)  Aaaaa!
Belphanior:  It's about to-
Mongo:  (being run over)  Oh shi-!  (disappears beneath the wide
  stone rollers)
Rillen:  That thing is on a roll!
Juggernaut:  (changes course, headed for Rillen, now the nearest
  intruder in the area)





next time:  The conclusion of the Sea party's exploits; Greyhawk!

FTP SITE: tybalt.caltech.edu (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
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NOTES:  Finals are effectively over!  Since I've been too busy to
post for quite some time, I made an extra-sized episode here...
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