Chapter #604

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                                   +   +
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                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Alindyar        17th level drow wizard                                +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+   Date:           1/3/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "The unexpected guest is oft the most welcome."                       +
+                                                            - unknown    +

                        DCIV.  Apples and Oranges

  Like many of their former companions, Alindyar and Lyra had done well
this past year.  The former was well on his way to achieving a full
professorship at the Academy - yet another step toward tenure at the
institution.  Alindyar now had a regular schedule, one that allowed him
to do research that he would have done anyway.  He was able to tap the
not-inconsiderable resources of the Academy, the Guild of Wizardry, and
sometimes, even the Circle of Eight for his work.
  Partially due to these reasons, he had recently completed one of his
more ambitious and rewarding projects:  the electricity golem lived and
moved.  Well, in a sense.  It had been necessary to confine the thing
within a glass sphere, though Alindyar was close to working out the means
to funnel the golem into a smaller, more portable glass jar.  Lyra had
brought up the issue of whether the golem was intelligent or not, but as
far as they could tell, it exhibited no sentience beyond a primal need
to touch living beings.  Of course, actually _controlling_ the thing was
another matter, but the answers would come eventually.  With Alindyar and
Lyra, they always did.
  Lyra had focused her time and energy (and some of Alindyar's as well)
on the creation of defensive enchantments tailored to the drow, as magi.
One such spell secured a campsite, erecting a wall of force that conformed
to nearby walls and doors as necessary and made a loud chirping noise if
anything came into contact with it.  Another such spell was more personal,
sheathing the caster in an invisible field that kept out physical objects
while allowing magic through.  The drow were working together on a field
that kept physical objects _and_ spells out while allowing them to cast
magic out, but such enchantments were tricky to come up with.
  Lyra's other achievement had to do with lightning.  Bored with the
conventional magicks that summoned bolts or chains of lightning, she came
up with her own personal variation on the theme, which she called "tongues
of lightning."  The spell summoned a large quantity of magical energy, but
broke it up into a dozen much smaller bolts.  Each still had enough power
to kill or stun an average foe, but the upside was that a number of targets
could be hit, all at once and much more quickly than the chain lightning
  In addition, both drow had learned and then cast contingency spells,
in case something ever happened to one or both of them.  Things seemed
peaceful these days, but they knew from experience that one could never
plan for hostile attacks.  Better to be safe than sorry, they reasoned.
Alindyar's contingency was slightly different from Lyra's, but both would
undoubtedly benefit them if things ever got really bad.

  The duo had also had a rather ghostly adventure, several months ago.
Fed up with the random and unexplainable noises and apparitions that
showed up from time to time in their mansion, they had called upon the
skills and experience of their friend Derider Fanshaen.  The priestess
and second-in-command of Greyhawk's town guard had wasted little time,
quickly identifying the problem...

  Derider:  You've got a restless spirit.
  Lyra:  A what?
  Derider:  Restless spirit.  It means that someone died here with some
    task that still needed doing, or something of that sort.
  Alindyar:  What can be done?
  Derider:  We have to find the haunting spirit...find it and speak with
    it, that we might learn how to properly lay it to rest.
  Lyra:  Sounds trivial.

  It had sounded trivial, but had turned out to be anything but.  For the
better part of three days, Derider had stationed herself in the mansion's
vast expanse, trying to successfully "encounter" the apparition.  When she
finally had, it had fled while she was attempting to speak with it, and
they'd had to start over.  Finally, after many long and frustrating hours,
the priestess had been able to talk with the unhappy spirit.  The result had
been a bit surprising:  the spirit that haunted their home was the ghost of
a noble murdered there several centuries ago.  Of course, the ones who had
slain him were long-dead, but his remains had been buried in the basement.
This lack of proper ceremony had kept the man's spirit partially in this
world for all those years.
  The problem was resolved by finding the man's remains and moving them to
the blessed soil of the city graveyard.  The spirit was happy to finally be
at rest.  Derider was pleased to have contributed to such a good deed.  The
drow were pleased to be rid of the haunting spirit.  All was well in the
mansion after that.

  Although Alindyar hadn't yet reached the official title of "Archmage" in
the eyes of other wizards, he was regarded by all as the most powerful non-
Circle-of-Eight wizard in or around Greyhawk.  When someone needed to know
something that had to do with an illusion or similar magic, they sought
out Alindyar.  The drow was highly pleased, both with his accomplishments
and with the fact that they were recognized.  Yet, privately, he still
sought the next plateau of knowledge.  Because of his experience and vast
amount of information, he had become aware of a legendary figure...the
most powerful illusion-manipulator in the who, it was said,
could literally alter reality with the power of his magic:  the Lord of
Illusions.  Only a handful of individuals had even _heard_ of this near-
mythical individual, and most of those weren't convinced that he actually
  Alindyar was sure of it, and of late, the need to know had consumed him.
Things were almost to the point that the drow wanted to take some time off
just to research - and then locate - this legendary wizard.

  As Alindyar rested in his office, pondering these thoughts, a loud knock
shook his door.

Alindyar:  (startled)  Come.

  The door opened, admitting two short, stocky figures who were closely
followed by two of the Academy's lower-ranking wizards.

Academy wizard #1:  Apologies, Professor.  These dwarves-
Mongo:  -have come to see an old friend!  Alindyar, how the hell are you?!
Alindyar:  (rolls his eyes, then addresses the two wizards)  All is well.
Academy wizard #2:  Certainly.  (they back away, all too happy to be away
  from the dwarves)
Alindyar:  But who is your companion?

  The other dwarf was shorter than Mongo, just a shade under four feet.
He looked to be equally strong and tough, though, and a good bit more
wild.  His long, unkempt hair and beard were dark brown, but streaked
with red.  Stranger yet, his armor was covered with short, sharp metal
spikes, and the helm strapped across his back was topped with a larger
but equally-sharp spike.  This dwarf didn't seem to be listening to
Alindyar, instead occupying his attention with a potted mushroom, which
he was about to eat.

Mongo:  (jerks a thumb at the other dwarf)  My cousin, Gorgo Hammerhead.
  (he spots the mushroom's imminent demise)  Gorgo!  Stop!
Gorgo:  Huh?
Mongo:  You can't eat my friend's plants.
Gorgo:  (seems to notice Alindyar for the first time, then looks at the
  mushroom again)  We need to eat, 'cuz I'm hungry.
Mongo:  You're always hungry.  (to Alindyar)  Me and Gorgo are on a great
Alindyar:  (finally regains his composure)  _Hammerhead_?
Mongo:  (sighs)  One of my many cousins.  A bit dim, always hungry, and
  aggressive as all hell in a fight...basically a good guy.
Alindyar:  I see.  (he uses a simple spell to lift the potted mushroom
  up and out of the reach of Gorgo)
Gorgo:  (looks up, smacking his lips)
Mongo:  Good thing we didn't pick up any of the Knucklehead side of the
  family, or there'd be real trouble...

next:      Mongo relates his epic quest
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
notes:     The movie _Lord of Illusions_ sucked ass.  If you saw it, just
  forget about it.  The title has merit to me, but no other part of that
  mess does.
    Thanks to Arnaud Olieric for the idea of the Lord of Illusions.

    Survey update:  I sent it a week ago.  Three days ago, the count was
  333.  At this point, it's 47 more...380.

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