Chapter #620

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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                         +
+   Date:           1/26/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the western Abbor-Alz                                 +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "But I don't even know where to find you again."                      +
+   "You don't know how lucky you are."                                   +
+                                                            - unknown    +

                       DCXX.  Hider in the Hills

  After some minor sidetracking, the drow are now closing in on a strange
pointed hillock, the supposed home of the Lord of Illusions whom they seek.

Alindyar:  I truly find it hard to believe that a mage that powerful would
  live in a pointed hillock.
Lyra:  I guess we'll see.

  From the direction they approached, the hill didn't seem to have any
entrances; they'd expected at least a crude tunnel mouth.  However, the
southeastern bank of the hillock held a stout-looking wooden door, built
right into the surrounding earth.

Lyra:  It looks like a halfling's dwelling.
Alindyar:  (immediately thinking of Bosco)  Let us hope not.

  They regarded the door, which was about six feet in height.  There were
no peepholes, no windows, no chimneys - just the single, solitary portal.
Scattered in front of the door were a variety of bones - some human or
humanoid, but mostly animal remains.

Alindyar:  Most odd.  (he works a spell to detect illusions)
Lyra:  (working a spell to detect magic)

  There was nothing illusionary about the door or the hill, which surprised
Alindyar.  However, Lyra's spell picked up a strong enchantment upon the
door's surface...

Lyra:  Invisible runes.
Alindyar:  Not for long.  (he begins casting another spell)

  The drow's powerful magic caused the runes on the door to appear, their
grooves glowing and then burning...burning out.

Alindyar:  'Tis dispelled.
Lyra:  That looked like a powerful set of runes.  Glyphs, whatever.
Alindyar:  (nods)  Usually they just glow for a moment.  Those were indeed
  cast by one who knew what he or she was doing.
Lyra:  Well...(she begins working a spell to open the door from afar)
Alindyar:  Spooked by the fact that it had defenses at all?
Lyra:  A little.  Plus, I can't let you have all the fun.

  Lyra's spell caused the door to open outward, swinging against the
hillside with a soft "thump."

Alindyar:  Nothing was ever gained by standing around.  (he strides toward
  the open portal)
Lyra:  (follows)  Careful...

  The bits of ash in the door still held a faint residue of magic, but no
other part of the entrance generated any aura to Lyra, and they entered the
hillside.  Within was a small cave, a dome perhaps nine feet in radius.  It
appeared to have been dug from the hillside itself, and then reinforced
with bricks.  It was the contents of the small chamber that were disturbing
to the visitors.

Alindyar:  Aie.
Lyra:  Oh, my...

  The chamber's only furniture was a small table and two chairs, one of
which was occupied.  The skeletal figure had long ago collapsed face-first
onto the table, held together more by its tattered clothes than the sinew
and tendons still remaining in its body.  Wisps of long white hair trailed
down from the back of the skull.  From the garb, the deceased appeared to
have been a wizard, probably a male wizard.

Alindyar:  (looking around)  Aye, a wizard.

  Several small shelves built into the walls held an assortment of odds
and ends, the sort used by wizards to craft their spells.  In addition,
a thin tome rested on the table, next to the corpse's bony head.

Lyra:  (examining the body)  He's been dead for a long time.
Alindyar:  It is all beginning to make sense now.
Lyra:  How's that?
Alindyar:  Imagine:  the wizard got old, came here to live out his final
  years...after placing appropriate protections on his home, he began to
  go about his daily business...and then one day he just died of old age.
Lyra:  (thinking of the high frequency of liches they've encountered or
  heard of in their travels)  Died of old age...does that still happen?
Alindyar:  Quite often, from what I understand.
Lyra:  Hmm.  I can guess the rest:  after he died, scavengers began to
  approach, to try and get inside.
Alindyar:  Some of them two-legged scavengers...and the glyphs destroyed
  all who came to the door.
Lyra:  Probably after a while of this, the locals began to think it
  haunted, and avoided it.
Alindyar:  That would explain some of the chieftain's vague answers.
Lyra:  Hell, those moronic hill-folk probably think the wizard's still
Alindyar:  (smiles thinly)  We should keep things that way.

  A quick search of the chamber revealed nothing of value, aside from the
tome, which they found to be a spellbook.

Alindyar:  Well, this fellow was an illusionist, and a skilled one...but
  he was no master.
Lyra:  Anything you can use?
Alindyar:  Perhaps one or two.  I do not feel like casting the spell of
  reading magic.  Not right now.
Lyra:  You're disappointed, aren't you?
Alindyar:  (nods)  Highly.  (he sighs)  I suppose that one does not get
  to be the Lord of Illusions by being readily found...
Lyra:  (lays a hand on his shoulder)  At least the trip wasn't a total
Alindyar:  There is that.  And I shall merely consult the sages another many times as it takes.  I _will_ track down this Lord of
Lyra:  _We_ will.
Alindyar:  (nods)  And thanks for bearing with me on this.  (he looks
  around, regarding the skeletal corpse)  Hmm.
Lyra:  So we go?
Alindyar:  Aye.  We teleport back - us, and our horses.  But first...

  The hillman sent to spy on the two outlanders blinked, for the entire
hill had suddenly become shrouded in darkness!  The hillside itself,
along with the open door and the two horses, were obscured beneath a
dome of solid blackness.  The warrior hadn't ever seen anything like
this before, and he wasn't quite sure what to he watched and
waited.  Waited for a long time.

hill warrior:  (dozes off)


fly:  (lands on the man's nose)
hill warrior:  (awakens suddenly)  Aaa!  (he looks around)

  The darkness was gone, and the hillside was visible once more...along
with that door, the door that had spawned numerous evil stories and
whispered warnings among his tribe.  Of the two wizards and their
horses, there was no sign.
  Curiosity got the better of good sense, and the warrior made his way
through the rough terrain, approaching the door.  He had watched the
wizards use a spell to open it, and he assumed that they were gone...
and that meant that the long-feared secrets of this hill would finally
be known.  And he, Lothar, would be the proud one to triumphantly
return to the village and tell the chieftain the good news.
  Grinning to himself in anticipation of his impending glory, Lothar
strolled right up to the door and grasped the knob...and was blasted with
enough electricity to fell an elephant.  The hillman was dead long before
his blackened bones hit the ground.

next:      Belphanior's World Death and Destruction Tour, stop #1
released:  3/9/00
notes:     Reflecting back on this entire story arc, it seems to me that
  I subconsciously decided to show what happens when a few individuals of
  surpassing power circulate amidst a large number of people with no real
    Okay, anyway, no more messing around.  Coming up next:  Belphanior
  returns to Helgate and begins planning his raid on Baron Albert, in
  Blackmoor.  Destruction galore!

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