Chapter #653

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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                         +
+   Date:           2/25/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the wastes to the northwest of the Forlorn Forest     +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "What are we looking for?"                                            +
+   "Anything that looks like it doesn't belong here."                    +
+                                                    - from _Alligator_   +

                     DCLIII.  Obelisk of Doom

  As the day passed, the drow moved deeper and deeper into the frozen
wastelands.  They had come to this remote place, north of the lands of
the Rovers and many leagues from Greyhawk, at the suggestion of the
wizard Balveebes.  The journey had taken weeks, and had not always
been a pleasant one, but Alindyar was determined to find the mythical
Lord of Illusions, at any cost.

Alindyar:  (looking around)  Most bleak.
Lyra:  It certainly is.

  They were in a desert-like wasteland - except that the average desert
showed much more life than this place.  Mingled with the constant wind-
blown snow and ice was dust torn from exposed expanses of brown, cracked

Lyra:  This wasn't the site of one of those Suel-Bakluni battles, was
Alindyar:  Not that I know of.  (he consults a scroll)

  Balveebes had given them some ideas about where to look.  His notes
and the rough map he'd sketched for them came mostly from the work of
the associate he'd mentioned, the one who'd done some research into the
Lord of Illusions once upon a time.  The map, however, did not contain
any exact location or landmarks.

Lyra:  So what?  We just venture into this wasteland and hope we find
  something?  (she frowns)
Alindyar: must consider that we are capable of teleporting
  back home at any time.
Lyra:  I'll give you that, but still, this promises to be most boring
  and uncomfortable.

  Despite the terrain, it was winter and they were pretty far north.
The temperature was freezing, and despite the magic they used to keep
comfortable, they just couldn't seem to get too comfortable.

Alindyar:  I propose this:  we journey onward and see if we notice
  anything out of the ordinary...a shack, a hillside hut, a tower,
  something, anything, where a wizard who wishes to seclude himself
  might live.
Lyra:  What if the wizard so secluded doesn't wish to be found?
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  He is the Lord of Illusions.  We must find him.
Lyra:  Maybe if we get some altitude, we could better scan the horizon
  for anything of note.
Alindyar:  And I have another idea...(he begins rummaging through his
  bag of holding)

  Lyra used her boots of flying to ascend into the sky, then checked
for anything out of the ordinary - which for this area meant anything
besides the flat, weatherbeaten landscape.  She had no luck - it was
the exact same in all directions.
  Meanwhile, Alindyar had readied his crystal ball and was peering
into its depths as Lyra returned to the ground.

Lyra:  I thought you had tried this before?
Alindyar:  I have, but if we are closer, maybe there is a better
  chance of success.  (he raises an eyebrow)  Hmm.
Lyra:  What?
Alindyar:  This is extraordinary-  aie!
Lyra:  What?!?
Alindyar:  The crystal ball has never done this...
Lyra:  Never done what?
Alindyar:  Shown me an image and then ceased to function!
Lyra:  What does this mean?
Alindyar:  (gazing into the wasteland ahead)  There is something out
  there.  It may not be the Lord of Illusions, but there is something
  out there.
Lyra:  Phantom steeds?
Alindyar:  (shakes his head)  I shall cast a spell of flying.  We can
  cover more ground, faster, that way.
Lyra:  Of course.
Alindyar:  We should use invisibility magic as well.  Just in case.
Lyra:  Good idea.

  Soon, they had both taken flight and were zooming through the sky,
into the heart of the wasteland.  For a long while, they saw nothing
but the wasted earth below.  Not one bit of vegetation, not one single
creature, alive or dead - just nothing.
  Then, just as Alindyar was thinking of turning back and giving up,
he spotted something in the far distance.

Alindyar:  What can that be?
Lyra:  (ESPing to him)  I can't hear you at this speed!
Alindyar:  (ESPing back to her)  Ah.  My apologies.  Look, there on the

  It was a tower, a black tower of darkest stone.  As they drew nearer,
they realized that the thing was well over two hundred feet in height.

Alindyar:  (slows in his flight)  Shall we land on the ground?  I see
  no windows, and obviously no flat roof on which to land.
Lyra:  Maybe it's got a door.  (they descend)

  Standing there at the foot of the mammoth structure, they could only
wonder as to its origin and inhabitants.  The thing was about forty
feet wide at its triangular base, and its three sides tapered upward
into a point.  As they'd noted, there were no windows.  In fact, the
entire vertical length of the obelisk contained not even a scratch -
not from weather or anything else.  It was uncanny.

Alindyar:  (spellcasting)  Perhaps a magic-detection...aie!
Lyra:  Magical, eh?
Alindyar:  Vastly so.  (he shakes his head)  By the gods, but this _has_
  to be it.
Lyra:  Maybe it-  what?

  The ground had begun to tremble.  They struggled a bit for footing
before remembering to take to the air.  Below, the ground was splitting
and cracking open, sending plumes of dust into the air.

Alindyar:  Something emerges...
Lyra:  Look!

  A gigantic stone warrior - identical in substance to the obelisk -
had risen from the ground.  It stood about twenty feet high and bore
a three-bladed halberd of black metal, or perhaps stone.  The sun's
rays gleamed on the thing's dark skin, and it turned its gaze to the the drow.

black stone golem:  (waves its weapon, trying to swat the dark elves
  out of the sky)
Lyra:  We're out of its reach.  Perhaps a spell...?
Alindyar:  Let us wait and see what it does.
Lyra:  Good thing it can't fly-
black stone golem:  (sprouts thin, polygonal wings of black stone and
  takes to the air)
Lyra:  Oh.

  Meanwhile, half a world away and unknown to the drow as they made
ready to deal with the weird golem of black stone, a lone figure
stalked the area around their mansion in Greyhawk.
  It had taken Rasimov D'Arkayn three long years to reach the surface
world from the ruins of Erelhei-Cinlu.  It had taken him another year
to locate the place from which the dreaded tarrasque had been sent to
his city.  All of this, as well as determining the events leading up
to that dreadful day, had been child's play for one of his skills.
It had actually surprised the evil dark elf to find that the monster
had come from the stars, riding within a shooting star until its
crash here.
  Even more surprising was the fact that Rasimov had only killed one
person so far in Greyhawk.  His magic had shielded him from most of
those he'd had to deal with in the past year, but the wizard he'd
talked to about the fallen star and the hatching of the tarrasque
had been too nosy for his own good.  Therefore, as a precaution and
for the sheer joy of it, Rasimov had slain the fool.  His longsword
disposed of the evidence for him, for its mightiest power was that
of disintegrating a foe upon a killing blow.  A few adjustments to
the wizard's shop gave it the appearance of being hastily abandoned.
Rasimov didn't really care; he had protections that would keep all
scrying from finding him.
  Too bad for his quarry that they didn't have similar protections.
It had been trivial to discover the identities of the various magi
involved in the events leading to the destruction of Erelhei-Cinlu.
While most of them belonged to a large and powerful alliance of such
wizards, there were two who didn't - and more, they were dark elves
like himself!  No coincidence, surely; these drow must have known
where Erelhei-Cinlu was and targeted it on purpose.  For that act,
their fate was sealed.
  Rasimov checked the mansion, noting the various wards that had been
placed upon it.  Every door and window had been magically locked,
and mist blocked his view of the mansion's interior in every case.
In addition, the front door at least had deadly protective runes on
its outer side.  Rasimov was fully aware that any attempt to enter
or even bypass these runes could be fatal, but he wasn't one to pit
his magic against an unknown foe's.  Rather, he preferred bypassing
the protections entirely.
  Casting a spell, he opened a magical portal that led right through
the solid stone wall and into the mansion.  Without a moment's
hesitation, Rasimov strolled through this arcane doorway, and it
closed itself up behind him.

next:      how to deal with a flying stone golem
released:  7/3/2000
notes:     Sometimes, like now, I wonder if such a relationship - two
  genius-level people - would really work out or not.  I guess it would,
  though I surely can't imagine it myself.  Then again, I'm not a genius,
  nor do I have one for a mate.

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