Chapter #62

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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 "land" group):

Alindyar, 9th level drow elf mage (N)
Halbarad, 8th level human ranger (NG)
Peldor, 10th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 7th/8th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
Date:   12/18/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   midmorning
Place:  Gryrax, capital of the Principality of Ulek

                         LXII.  Tragidore

  The party is in Gryrax, asking the locals about the woman,
her posted notice for help, and the town of Tragidore.

Halbarad:  (to shopkeeper)  What do _you_ know of this Tragidore
Peldor:  (using ring of truth to detect lies, if any)  Speak.
shopkeeper:  Those signs asking for help, they've been popping
  up for several weeks, now.  The signs never stay around long,
Peldor:  He's telling the truth.
Peyote:  I should hope so, dude.
Halbarad:  Quiet, Peldor.
Alindyar:  Who was that woman?
shopkeeper:  Dunno.  They all take off pretty quickly.
Halbarad:  They?
shopkeeper:  They.  The women.
Peyote:  What?
Alindyar:  So 'tis always women who put up the signs?
shopkeeper:  Always.  Never men.
Peldor:  He's telling the truth.
Peyote:  (eyes Peldor)
Halbarad:  Can you tell us how to get to Tragidore?
shopkeeper:  Sure.  It's almost due west of here, a bit north,
  as the crow flies.  Take the main road and you'll have no
  trouble, though.
Peyote:  What sorts of things go on in this Tragidore place,
shopkeeper:  They supply us with lumber.  Or they _did_.  A
  while ago, the lumber stopped coming.  Merchants went there,
  to find out why - but none ever came back.
Peyote:  Lumber?!  You mean the dudes cut down _trees_?!  No
Halbarad:  What of adventuring parties?  Could they not help?
shopkeeper:  They went, too.  A few of them.  Never returned,
  either.  Just like the merchants.
Peldor:  He's telling the truth.
all:  Shut up!
shopkeeper:  I sure hope _somebody_ can figure out what's going
  on up there in Tragidore...
Halbarad:  Somebody can.
Peyote:  (to the wild dogs)  That's us, my canine friends.
dogs:  Woof!
Halbarad:  We thank you for your time, friend.  I think we will
  buy our next week's rations from you.
shopkeeper:  Okay.  Thanks!

  After a few rations were purchased, the party left for the
town of Tragidore, riding along the main road.  The road was
already showing signs of disuse - it was obvious that traffic
along it was now minimal.  Their journey was utterly uneventful
as the hours passed.

Alindyar:  (looking into his crystal ball)  Let us see what
  the others are doing...
Peldor:  (watching)  That's neat.  Where can I get one of those
  things?  Besides from you, of course.
Alindyar:  (glares at the thief)
Peldor:  Just kidding.
Alindyar:  (gazes into the item, and sees familiar faces - Ged,
  Mongo, Belphanior, and Rillen - riding happily through some
  light forests)  Hmm.
Peldor:  They look like they're having fun.
Alindyar:  'Twould seem so.

  The day passed, and everything was very, very quiet.

Halbarad:  You know, things are almost _too_ quiet...
dogs:  (to Peyote)  Rrrr...
Peyote:  (to dogs)  What's that?
dogs:  Rrrrrrrrrr...Rowf!  Rowf!
Alindyar:  What say they?
Peyote:  Someone's ahead, dudes.  (draws sword)
Peldor:  (grabs his sword hilt)

  Suddenly, from the road ahead, there came a mournful wail from
around a bend.

Peldor:  What was _that_?  (leaps to the side of the road, fading
  into invisibility as he draws his sword)
man:  (stumbles down the road towards the party, sobbing)
Peyote:  Who's this dude?
Halbarad:  I do not know, but he seems harmless.
man:  (looks up at the party with a distraught expression)  Huh?
Alindyar:  What ails you?
man:  (sobbing again, continues along the road)
Halbarad:  Stop!  (grabs the man, who does not resist)
Peldor:  (searching the nearby woods)
dogs:  (growling at the man)
man:  Whas?
Halbarad:  Who _are_ you?  What are you crying about?
man:  (regards Halbarad)  I am Borse Kordona.  Me and my three
  brothers were trying to figure out what happened in Tragidore.
  I was scouting when I saw a big wolf with bright green eyes.
  After I chased it for awhile, I came back to camp - and they
  were all GONE, all my brothers.  Gone!  (begins sobbing yet
  again)  I _tried_ to find them!  I really did!  But they're
Peyote:  Hmm.  Trouble awaits us in Tragidore, I think.
Alindyar:  'Twould seem so.
Halbarad:  (to Borse)  Where are you going now?
Borse:  I must return to the city, and tell my parents of this
  terrible loss.
Peyote:  I think you should stay with us, man.
Peldor:  (appearing)  Yeah.  Then we can see what's in your
Borse:  I cannot!  (runs away)
Peyote:  (to Peldor)  Now look!  you scared him away!
dogs:  (growling at Peldor)
Alindyar:  Think you that we should give chase?
Halbarad:  No.  He's on the road, and it's not very far back.
  He shall be fine.
Peyote:  Let's continue, then.  I, for one, want to know what
  is happening in these parts.  Perhaps a huge imbalance in
  nature is causing the problems.

  They continued onward, stopping every now and again to rest
or eat, or let the horses rest and eat.  Nothing else of note
happened...until shortly after sunset...

Alindyar:  Look at this fog.
Peyote:  (watching a thick fog quickly setting in)  Gnarly.
Alindyar:  Almost too much so.  This is...unnatural.
Peldor:  Yo!  Heads up, guys, there's people coming through
  the fog.  (peers into the mists with his uncanny vision)

  Six figures approached from within the fog, stopping at a
distance that prevented the party from making out any details
of their appearance.  Dim torches burned in their hands.  A
moment later, three dark shapes moved around the first six
and confronted the party.  Their red-lined black capes and
pale faces were terrifying to look upon.  Deep-set, dark eyes
regarded the party - and the tips of unusually long, white
teeth protruded from their mouths...

first man:  (speaks in a thick accent)  Good evening.
Halbarad:  (unslings his axe)
man:  Have you paid your taxes to the king lately?  I am sure
  that you have magical items, and just as sure that you have
  neglected to make payment for the right to carry such things.
  You can avoid trouble by putting all of your equipment in a
  big pile and letting us examine it.  Do not cause trouble,
  and you will be spared.
Halbarad:  What folly is this?!?
Peyote:  Taxation without representation.  Bogus, dude.
Peldor:  (to man)  Are you people _authorized_ collectors for
  the king?  (the thief's ring glows, ever so slightly)
man:  Why, yes, of course.
Peldor:  (to Halbarad)  He's lying!
Halbarad:  How is that?
Peldor:  My ring tells me so.  Don't you believe me, dammit?
  He's _lying_!
wild dogs:  (growling)
Peyote:  Shh.
Halbarad:  (to man)  Why should we believe you?  Show me your
man:  We need no papers.  We have the authority to collect as
  deemed fit.
Alindyar:  I think not.  (begins spellcasting)
man:  (gets a good look at the drow, and seems amazed)  ...
Halbarad:  Out of our way.  If you are the king's men, then I
  am Belphanior the slayer.
man:  Who?
Halbarad:  Never mind.
Alindyar:  (casts a Hypnotism spell at the trio)  You are not
  welcome here.  Your only desire is to leave.
man#1:  (backs up)  Leave...leave...(leaves)
man#2:  (leaves as well)  Yes...yes...
man#3:  (saves, but obviously distraught)  What?!  Attack!

  Many shadowy forms emerged from the fog - the party was now
suddenly surrounded!

Halbarad:  (shouting)  Now hear this!  I have no wish to slay
  any or all of you!  But I _will_ if you persist in this
man#3:  Surrender!
Halbarad:  Never!
Peldor:  Never is right!  The mighty Peldor surrenders to no
  vampires!  Much less puny would-be vampires!
man#3:  Then die!
Halbarad:  Not before taking many of you with me!  (moves
  into combat)
Peyote:  (talking to his dogs)  Rowf!  Woof woof, bow growf!
dogs:  Snarl!  (they leap at some of the shadowy forms)

Peldor:  (unsheathes his sword, becoming invisible)
Halbarad:  (faces the torch-bearers)  Fight, cowards!
torch-bearers:  (come into view, their rotted faces utterly
  without expression)  Grmphl.
Halbarad:  Zombies!  The walking dead!
swordsmen:  (flank Halbarad from the other side)  You are
  trapped, warrior.
Halbarad:  Humans, too?
Alindyar:  What madness transpires here?  (begins spellcasting)
Peyote:  (sword drawn, faces some human swordsmen)
dogs:  (tear into some swordsmen)  Grrr!
swordsmen:  Eyagh!
Alindyar:  Let us see how you fare against-  (suddenly within
  a silenced area, gestures uselessly)
Halbarad:  (also within silenced area, wastes no time attacking
  the nearest two swordsmen, albeit silently)
Peldor:  (sneaking around various swordsmen, and then some
  bowmen, searches for the head honcho)
Peyote:  (charges a swordsman, slicing one arm off)  Yaaa!
armless swordsman:  YAAAAA!  (falls)
Halbarad:  (dispatches both of his opponents before they can
  hit him)
Alindyar:  (silently sips his potion of flying)
dogs:  (inflicting fearsome wounds on their victims)
bowmen:  (fire arrows at the party)
Halbarad:  (hit by two arrows, silently curses)
Peyote:  (hit by three arrows)  Argh!  Foul!
Alindyar:  (nicked by an arrow, but sails into the air)
man#3:  (the last of the "vampires")  Enough of this.  (drinks
  a potion and turns into gas, floating away)

swordsman:  (nicks Halbarad)
swordsman:  (misses Peyote)
swordsman:  (hits Peyote)
Peyote:  (looking at the big cut in his armor)  Damn!
Peldor:  (behind the battle, spots two spellcasters, one a
  male, the other undoubtedly a female, judging by her form)
male spellcaster:  (casts a curse upon Halbarad and Peyote,
  causing them to fight less effectively)
female spellcaster:  (fidgets, but does nothing)
Peldor:  (moves to backstab the male spellcaster)
Halbarad:  (chops down another swordsman; can now speak,
  since Alindyar is in the air and the drow was the center
  of the silence spell)  There must be more than twenty of
  them left!
Peyote:  (now back-to-back with the ranger)  This is quickly
  getting to be a desperate situation!  Maybe I should use
  my wand...(slashes an attacker out of the way)
Halbarad:  Oh, no...
Peyote:  What would you suggest, then?
Halbarad:  (parries an attack)  I know not.  I guess I am
  open to suggestions right at the moment...
wild dogs:  (still tearing into the men)
six zombies:  (trying to grope Halbarad and Peyote, but
  having a tough time of it due to the crowded conditions)
Alindyar:  (in the air, somewhat irritated that all of his
  useful spells require a verbal component)
Peldor:  (backstabs the male spellcaster)
male spellcaster:  Augh!  (dies)
female spellcaster:  (turns to face the thief, surprised)
Peldor:'re a dark elf!
female drow:  What of it?  (begins spellcasting)
Peldor:  Oh, no you don't!  (tackles her; they go down in
  a heap)
Alindyar:  (airborne, brandishes both his wand of illusion
  and his wand of magic missiles)
Halbarad:  (chops at an attacker)  Damn.  There are too many.
Peyote:  Never fear, dude.  (downs another attacker)  We'll
  get through okay.
Halbarad:  (doubtful; wonders where Alindyar and Peldor are,
  or even if they're still alive)
Alindyar:  (realizes that he can't use his wands without
  being able to speak; frowns; then sees Peldor and the
  female mage and flies down toward them)

Halbarad:  (slays an attacker while sustaining several wounds)
Peyote:  (likewise)  Though we've killed many of them, they
  are starting to get to us (slumps for a moment)
Halbarad:  Where _are_ the others?  If they have been slain,
  we are finished!


Peldor:  (has overpowered the slender drowess)  Hold it there,
  I'll have you killed in a minute.
female drow:  (looks fearful)
Peldor:  Well, maybe not.  Alindyar might want to talk to you
Alindyar:  (descends right then)
Peldor:  There you are.  Right on time, too!  What a guy.
Alindyar:  (sticks his dagger to the drow's throat and uses
  drow sign language to command her to dispel the silence
  afflicting him - or die, he doesn't care which)
female drow:  (obeys fearfully)
Alindyar:  I can speak once more!  (turns to the female)
female drow:  (cowers)
Alindyar:  (surprisingly quickly, he gags and binds her)  We
  must return to the battle, ere the other two are slain.
Peldor:  (looking over there)  They _are_ making a pile of
  enemy bodies all around them...but still...(sheathes and
  unsheathes his sword, becoming invisible again, and moves
  toward the host of unsuspecting opponents' backs)
Alindyar:  (to female drow)  We shall have words again soon.
  (flies into the air and begins spellcasting)

Peldor:  (backstabs a bowman, killing him)
Alindyar:  (from the air above, he launches a cone of Fear
  at the mass of attackers surrounding Halbarad and Peyote)
swordsmen & bowmen:  (many of them flee screaming)
Halbarad:  (cuts down another, momentarily distracted foe)
  My regrets.
Peyote:  (chops a bowman in half)  Holy moley!  More than
  half of them ran away!
Halbarad:  I think we have found Alindyar.  (looking in the
Alindyar:  (waves)
Peldor:  (faces a zombie)  Uh-oh.  (dodges its attack)  The
  walking dead are no match for Peldor!
zombies:  (all turn and shamble towards Peldor)
Peldor:  Whoops!  Knock on wood.  (backs up quickly)
bowman:  (fires an arrow feebly at the airborne dark elf,
  but it misses)
Alindyar:  (points at the bowman)  You!  You are next!
bowman:  (drops his bow and flees)  Yaaaaaa!

Alindyar:  (preparing a spell)
Peldor:  (backing away from the six zombies, one of whom has
  ignited part of its old shirt with its torch)  Help!
Alindyar:  Certainly.  (casts a Web onto the six zombies)
zombies:  (caught, flail uselessly - then one of their own
  torches ignites the web, and they all blaze up in the
  burning strands)
Peldor:  Ah.  Much better now.  (trades blows with one of the
  swordsmen, and slays the man)  Peldor is back on top.

  Suddenly, the tide of battle had turned.  The few bowmen
and swordsmen left were no match for the party's swords.
Some of them fled, in the end, but soon, No foes were left.

Peyote:  Maybe we should chase them, for a prisoner.
Alindyar:  That shall not be necessary.  (points to the tied
  female dark elf)  We have one already.  One of the leaders.
Peldor:  (busy checking dead foes' pockets)
Peyote:  (finds his Rod of Life and Death)  Ahh.  (the item
  glows brightly, and all of Peyote's cuts and bruises are
  closed)  Ahhhhhhh.
Halbarad:  (bleeding from a dozen wounds)  Uhh...can you help
  me, as well?
Peyote:  (yanks back the rod)  Hey, _watch_ it, dude!  This
  is _my_ rod!  (wanders away to tend to the dogs)
Halbarad:  (frowning)  He is irrational!
Alindyar:  (to Halbarad)  Methinks he becomes that way when
  using that item...I have an elixir which will help you.
Halbarad:  (taking the potion from the drow)  My thanks.
Peldor:  (accumulating a pile of minor coins)  These were
  poor bandits...
Alindyar:  (draws Peldor aside and confers with him for a
  moment, whispering)

  Soon, all wounds were healed.  Strangely enough, all four
of Peyote's wild dogs were up and about, though Halbarad
could have sworn that at least two of them had been gutted
in the battle.  Alindyar leaned his captive against a tree
and interrogated her in the drow language, since she seemed
to know only very basic Common, and translating for the
others would have been a pain.  Besides, they trusted him,
didn't they?

Alindyar:  Who are you?
female drow:  Don't hurt me.
Alindyar:  Woman, answer me.  Who _are_ you?
female drow:  I- I am called Lyra.
Alindyar:  (caresses her cheek)  Better.  Much better.  Now,
  what were you doing helping human bandits above ground?
  Are there more of our kind about?
Lyra:  Yes.  Please do not hurt me.  We meant no harm.
Alindyar:  Somehow I doubt that.  You were helping those
  bandits in their unlawful work.
Lyra:  I did not want to.  I had to have someone to protect
  me here...(begins to cry)
Alindyar:  (softens a bit, also notices how attractive this
  young woman is)  What do you mean?  Who are you working
  for, and why?
Lyra:  I came up from below with Zara, but I did not want
  to stay up here.  I fled the mine in the forest, and then
  found the bandits.  They were fearful of me and my magic,
  and I have been helping them to avoid showing them how
  scared I am up here.  I cannot trust anyone...
Alindyar:  Zara.  Who is this Zara?
Lyra:  She is another drow, a renegade from below.  She
  desires power here, on the surface world.  She is very
  cruel, and evil.
Alindyar:  And you?  Are _you_ cruel and evil?
Lyra:  No!  I do not even like it here on the surface!
  Or below...(sniffles)

Halbarad:  What is going on there?
Alindyar:  She is not such a bad one after all, I think.
Peyote:  And just _how_ do you know that?!?!  We can't
  trust her!
Alindyar:  Do you trust _me_?
Peyote:  Well...err...umm...
Alindyar:  Besides, I have it on good faith from Peldor
  that she told no lies.  Is that not so, Peldor?
Peldor:  That's right.  I guess I'd better tell you all
  about my ring.  (holds up the hand with his ring of
  truth on it)  This ring allows me to know any lie I
Halbarad:  I figured as much...
Peyote:  What's the drawback, dude?  There's always a
  drawback.  (actually, Peyote has somehow found out
  about the ring already, perhaps from Ged before they
Peldor:  -but...but...(the ring is forcing him now)...
  ...I can't _tell_ a lie either!  Argh!  Those damned
  bronze dragons!  Someday I'll get them back for this!
Halbarad:  Excellent.
Alindyar:  So, you see, even though Lyra here did not
  know we had such an item at our disposal, she told no
Peldor:  Yep.
Alindyar:  Therefore, she can be trusted.
Halbarad:  Possibly.
Alindyar:  As such, I intend to untie her.
Halbarad:  No!  Madness!
Peyote:  He's right, man.
Peldor:  Untie?  (even he is amazed)
Alindyar:  I shall claim full responsibility.  (takes
  Lyra aside and prepares his tent)  'Tis time to camp,
Halbarad:  ...!
Peyote:  Maybe he's got the hots for her, man.
Peldor:  (it occurs to him that Alindyar didn't really
  ask their permission)  Hmm.
Halbarad:  (fuming)  As you will, Alindyar.  But her
  actions rest now upon your shoulders!  Remember that!
Alindyar:  (ignoring the ranger)

  Within the hour, they had made camp far off one side of
the road.  Alindyar conferred with Lyra in his tent late
into the night, for it had been a long while since he had
spoken peacefully with another dark elf.  They talked of
the Underdark, drow society (which it was obvious Lyra had
no great love for), and other things...

Alindyar:  Will you follow me here, above ground?  Your
  bandits are gone now, dispersed.  I do not think you
  can make it alone.
Lyra:  Have I a choice?
Alindyar:  Yes.
Lyra:  Then, my answer is...yes.
Alindyar:  (offers her some food)  Are you wounded?
Lyra:  No, thank you.  (eats gingerly)
Alindyar:  Have you any magic items?
Lyra:  None.  Only my spellbook.
Alindyar:  (holds up a spellbook)  You refer to _this_?
Lyra:  Yes.  I have only six spells, in any case.  I do not
  think I am much of a threat to you and your friends.
Alindyar:  Let us hope not.  You may memorize these spells
  tonight (refers to Shield x3, Bind x2, and Fly).  For now,
  I think it best that you avoid your magic missile, web,
  and charm spells...
Lyra:  Oh, thank you!  Why are you being so nice to me?
Alindyar:  I know not.  Perhaps because I believe that you
  share my views toward our people and society.
Lyra:  (flattered, blushes)
Alindyar:  (gets his crystal ball)  Hold a bit.  'Tis time
  to check on the evildoers.
Lyra:  Who?
Alindyar:  Some old friends.  (the ball conjures up an image
  of the sea party camped out for the night)  Hmm.
Lyra:  (impressed by these mighty magicks)  You must be a
  great mage...
Alindyar:  (puts the crystal ball away)  Time to study.  For
  both of us.  As I will take a while longer, you may sleep
  in that spare bedroll, over there.
Lyra:  Again, I thank you.  Your generosity is unheard of,
  for either a fellow drow or a human.  No one has ever given
  me the benefit of the doubt before.
Alindyar:  You are most welcome.

  The dim light in Alindyar's tent remained on for some time.
The others viewed it suspiciously, but also had to trust in
their friend's judgement - and power.  The night went by
without incident.
  The next day, they encountered some refugees in the early
morning, after eating breakfast and getting back on the road.

Halbarad:  Hold.  There are women and children ahead.
Alindyar:  (floating in the air on his carpet, with Lyra; his
  horse is being used to carry supplies)  Hmm.
Peyote:  There are three women in that wagon, and some children
Peldor:  They appear unarmed.
Halbarad:  Greetings.
woman:  (slows down slightly; the wagon was moving along at a
  rapid clip)  Turn around!  There is nothing ahead but misery
  and woe!
Halbarad:  Nonsense.  Will you stop?
woman:  (reluctantly stops the wagon)
Halbarad:  Where are you fleeing from in such a hurry?
woman:  Tragidore.  There is nothing for us there, anymore.
  Watch out for bandits, too - they took all our money.
Halbarad:  (to others)  Perhaps we should escort these people
  back to the city.
Peyote:  No way, man.  We'll lose too much time.  Here, send
  the wild dogs with them.  They can protect them from harm
  on the road.
Peldor:  Don't you have to stay with the dogs?
Alindyar:  Or vice versa?
Peyote:  Nope.  Besides, I can always summon more.  (talking
  to the dogs)  Rrr...rowlf!  Bow wow!  Wow wow wow bow!
dogs:  Arf!  (they cover the wagon, one to a corner)
Peyote:  Never fear, miss.  I have told these large and
  extremely fierce dogs to watch over you and attack any
  bandits.  Go about your way, now.
Halbarad:  (hands the woman a pouch of gold)  This should
  help.  Keep it hidden well, just in case.
women:  Oh, thank you!  We are forever in your debt!
Peldor:  We'll come back and collect someday.  (waves at the
  young children in the back of the wagon)
Halbarad:  Hush, you.
Lyra:  (to Alindyar, in drow)  I know of no bandits.  Zara
  must have some evil plot, which affects this town.
Alindyar:  We shall see.
Lyra:  Your friends are quite benevolent.
Alindyar:  We do what we can to help the unfortunate.
Halbarad:  (watches the wagon move away)  We really must get
  to Tragidore and find out what is what.
Peyote:  Yeah.  (casts a summons for more animals)

  The hours went by, as the party rode on toward Tragidore.
Another band was encountered, this one consisting of four
scared men, inexperienced warriors by the look of them.
They claimed that the women in Tragidore rejected their
offer to help, saying that they weren't skilled enough to
be of any assistance.  Halbarad bid them be on their way,
and the party continued on.  Late in their second day of
travel, they found a sign indicating that Tragidore was
one mile ahead.  Peldor found something else, too...

Peldor:  Hold!  I spy someone, there in the woods!
Halbarad:  Come out, whoever you are!
men:  (three, dressed in leather and with shortswords at
  their hips)  We weren't sure if you meant us harm, so
  we remained hidden.
Peyote:  What is your business here?
man:  We just passed through the town.  There's some kind
  of big swamp beast there, which is taking all the men
  of the town.  Someone really should stop it.
Peldor:  (suddenly inspired)  You're not bandits, are you?
man:  Why, no!  Never!
Peldor:  He's lyyyyyying....
Halbarad:  So!  You robbed the women and children!
men:  (cowering)  Okay, okay!  We did!
Peyote:  Why don't you try and rib _us_?  (grinning)
men:  Because you would beat us?
Alindyar:  Throw down your weapons.  Now.  (points a finger
  in the general direction of the trio)
men:  (comply)
Peldor:  Where is your treasure hoard?
man:  What hoard?
Peldor:  Oh, come _on_.  If I were you, which I'm not since
  you guys are obviously amateurs, but if I were, I'd hide
  all the loot somewhere.  Now where did you stash it?
man:  (points to the side of the road)
Halbarad:  Good.  Now, we will have to tie you up and take
  you back to the city to face your just desserts.
men:  No!  Not that!  (they scatter into the woods)
Peyote:  Bah.  Let the dudes go.  They have no weapons.
Peldor:  (examines the brush, finds a box)  Hey, there's a
  good bit of jewelry and coinage in here!
Alindyar:  (to Peldor)  Due to your ring, we need not worry
  about you appropriating any of that for yourself.  You
  should remember that.
Peldor:  Err...yes, of course.

  Within a few minutes, they entered a small town - Tragidore
at last!  The place looked dead, for only women, children,
and the elderly walked the streets.  Everyone watched the
five, but no one talked to them.  Almost all of the shops
were closed.  As they reached the heart of the town, the
business district, a number of women could be seen, many of
them armed.  The Cawing Crow inn stood out, since it was
obviously the center of activity here.  When the party
approached, four tough, seedy-looking adventurer types
burst out of the inn, glanced at the party, and rode away

Alindyar:  Who were those ruffians, I wonder?
Halbarad:  (walking up)  Greetings.
female guard:  (brandishing a sword)  What do you want?
Peyote:  Take it easy.  We seek Marta.
female guard:  Oh.  Come in, then.

  They entered the inn's common room, which was dimly lit
by candlelight.  A woman stood behind a large table, and
a small, circular table with a large crystal globe was
positioned in front of the large table.  Eight female
guards ringed the room, in case of trouble.  The woman

woman:  Everyone place a hand upon the orb of alignment.
  We must ensure that you are acceptable.
Halbarad:  (touches the pale grey glowing orb, and it
  gets a bit brighter)
Peyote:  Hmm.  I don't know about this.  (touches the orb
  and causes it to darken slightly)
Peldor:  Bah.  (touches the orb, causing it to darken a
  wee bit more)  Peldor is always acceptable.
woman:  I see that you have one hero and two who favor
  neutrality, thus far.  (looks at Alindyar)  What of
Alindyar:  (touches the globe - the net color is still
  slightly bright due to Halbarad's goodness)  What an
  idiotic toy you have here.
woman:  What of her?  (indicates Lyra)
Halbarad:  She is our prisoner.  There is no need to test
  her intentions.
Alindyar:  What?  (to Lyra)  Touch the globe.
Lyra:  (does so, but it still glows ever so slightly
  brighter than grey)
Alindyar:  (satisfied)
woman:  Not the best, but your group will do.  I am Marta.
Halbarad:  (shakes her hand)  I am Halbarad.
Peyote:  Peyote, at your service.  (points to Peldor)  And
  this fellow goes by "The Rascal".
Peldor:  Hey!  Let Peldor speak for himself!  (to Marta)
  Some call him scoundrel, some call him rascal, but all
  know that Peldor is truly a gentleman at heart.  Well
  met.  (kisses her hand)
Marta:  Oh!
Halbarad:  Enough of this nonsense.  What is the problem?
Marta:  For several weeks now, the men of our town have been
  disappearing, one by one and in small groups, when they
  ventured into the forest to the north.  At first we thought
  we were being plagued by a pack of wolves or some other
  wild creatures, but now we have come to realize that this
  is not the work of mere animals.  Many of us women are
  strong and fit, but we dare not depart from Tragidore to
  investigate, because that would leave the other townfolk
  vulnerable.  So we have been seeking the aid of brave and
  trustworthy adventurers such as yourselves.  Go into the
  woods, find who or what has been kidnapping our menfolk,
  and locate the victims if they are still alive.  Return
  to us with whatever people or information you can gain,
  and we will pay a handsome reward.
Peyote:  Whew.
Halbarad:  We will help you.
Peldor:  (looks at his ring)  Guess what?  She's telling the
  truth...Anything else you can tell us that might help?
Marta:  Well, the only men who disappear are those who are
  fit and hardy.  Children, little boys, never vanish, nor
  do older men.  Only the young and strong ones.
Alindyar:  Have no fear.  We shall see what can be done.
Halbarad:  We journey on the morrow.

  They stayed in the inn that night.  Alindyar procured a
private room for himself and Lyra, a room with only one
bed...everyone slept well that night.
  The next day, they prepared to travel into the woods to
the north.  Peyote cast another spell of animal summoning
since the last one had produced no results.  When all were
ready, they moved out.

next time:  what lies within the woods

FTP SITE: (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
NOTES:  Technically, the party was supposed to go from the main
city (called Hanuman in the module) to Tragidore.  Since I just
waffled this adventure in between others, it seems that they
went directly from Gryrax to Tragidore.  I think that, originally,
I had them go from Gryrax (the capital of the kingdom) to the
intermediate city, Hanuman, and then on to Tragidore.  My memory
fails here - I didn't take good notes for the land party like I
did for the sea party...
  Speaking of whom...yes, Alindyar actually referred to them as
"the evil party".  He must have been thinking of a certain elf...
  Lyra was perhaps the first time I took a NPC from a module and
altered it slightly based on suggestions and the personality
described in the module.  It worked out really well, as will be

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