Chapter #72

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                         THE ADVENTURERS

*  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.


Alindyar      10th level drow elf mage                (N)
  Lyra         6th level female drow elf mage         (N)
Belphanior     7th/8th/8th level high elf w/m/t      (CN)
Ged            9th/8th level grey elf priest/mage    (NG)
  Arnold       6th level human warrior               (NG)
Halbarad       9th level human ranger                (NG)
  Zephyr       5+5 HD wild tiger
Mongo          8th level dwarf warrior               (CG)
Peldor        11th level human thief                  (N)
  Bosco        6th level soulless halfling thief     (CN)
Peyote         7th/9th level half-elf fighter/druid   (N)
  fang         wild dog
  eye          hawk
  ear          hawk
Rillen         8th level human warrior                (N)
Rob            9th level human priest                (LG)
Date:   5/12/571 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   morning
Place:  the Barrier Peaks

                   LXXII.  Kieravaak

  The party found the pass they were searching for - but a
fearsome guardian approached them - a nine-headed hydra.

Rillen:  Hydra.  Hydra!  (looks around)  What a stupid name.
Belphanior:  (points at the hydra)  Tell that to _him_!
hydra:  REEARGH!  (most of its heads focus on the party)
party:  (spreading out quickly)
hydra:  BLEARGH!  (all of its heads breathe gouts of flame
  upon the party)  <cough cough>
Mongo:  (scorched by some flame)  Argh!
Belphanior:  (leaps to one side, and is barely singed by
  the flame of another head)  Yow!  You son of a...(gets
  on his feet and prepares to attack)
Ged:  (backs up and begins spell preparations)
Arnold:  (gets burned slightly)  Yaaaaaaaaa.  Dhat hurd.
  Now I, Ah-nold, shall do baddle!  (unslings his massive
  sword)  Need to cud some of dose heds off.
Rillen:  (dodges a gout of flame entirely)  What a blast
  this is.
Rob:  (watches yet another flame burst go over his head,
  since he had the sense to duck)  Wow.  Neat.
Peyote:  (singed somewhat by another flaming breath)  No
  fair, many-headed dude.
Halbarad:  (fails his save, is burned slightly)  Ouch!
  We must slay this monster, ere it roasts us all!
Ged:  I'm on it.  (casts a Lightning Bolt at the massive
  beast)  Boccob!
pyrohydra:  (hit square in its body by the forked bolt)
  REARGH!  AARGH!  (some heads go sailing off in random
  directions, as a smoking crater appears in its chest)
Rillen:  Now he is really steamed.  (unlimbers his bow)
Ged:  Hah!  Boccob's power flows strongly today!
Peyote:  Way to start the assault, dude.
Ged:  Err...thanks.
Belphanior:  (leaps upon the pyrohydra, and slices one
  of its heads off)  Ha ha!
Rob:  (casts Spiritual Hammer)  I'll help!
Peldor:  (goes invisible and wanders around looking for
  a good angle to attack from)
Arnold:  (wades into the fray, getting bitten by a few
  heads as he cheerfully lops off one, then another)
  Aaaaaa.  Duh monster will fall!
Mongo:  (aims and hurls, and his hammer smashes another
  head into pulp)  Stupid beast!
Rillen:  (fires two arrows into two different heads)
  Keep at it!  Maybe the thing will die when we kill
  all the heads.
Halbarad:  Perhaps so.  (chops and stabs the hydra's
  body, drawing deep wounds)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  I hope so.
Alindyar:  (realizes that he has very few spells that
  could affect the hydra while his companions are next
  to it)  Hmm.  Lyra, cast a spell.
Lyra:  (already doing just that)  Hush.  (casts a Ray of
  Enfeeblement on one head, causing it to shrivel up)
Ged:  Good job, there.  It almost rivals my mighty bolt
  of lightning.  (makes arm gestures, re-enacting his
  own recent spell in his mind)
Lyra:  Hmph.
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer another time - and misses)
  Dammit!  I never miss!
Rillen:  Well, you just did.
Peyote:  (slashes the hydra alongside Arnold)  That's
  okay, dude.  _I_ didn't miss.
Peldor:  (backstabs the hydra, wounding it severely)
  Peldor makes his presence known!
Ged:  Yea, too bad, isn't it?
Peldor:  Quiet, fool.
pyrohydra:  (one of its few remaining heads turns and
  bites the thief)
Rob:  (uses his spiritual hammer to bash the hydra's
  battered body)  Is _this_ the way to wisdom?
pyrohydra:  (dies)
Rob:  I guess so.  Oh, thank you, O great Trithereon!
Alindyar:  Excellent.  The stupid beast no longer blocks
  our path.  However, obviously _someone_ put it there
  to guard something...
Lyra:  Indeed.
Mongo:  (catches his hammer and addresses it)  What the
  fuck's wrong with you?!?  Don't do that again.
Halbarad:  (looking around, at the dwarf talking to his
  weapon, at Alindyar and Lyra bickering, at Ged gloating
  over his magic, at Arnold continuing to mindlessly hack
  the hydra's carcass)  What am I _doing_ here?
Peyote:  (joins the ranger to one side)  I sometimes have
  to wonder that, myself.  These dudes are nuts.
Rob:  (heals some of the wounded)  There, there.
Ged:  (heals himself and Mongo)  Ah, my mighty magic...

  Soon, they were ready to proceed along the trail.  And
proceed they did, for about six hours.  Nothing seemed
to lurk in the tunnel, after the menace of the pyrohydra.
Eventually, the party emerged from the narrow tunnel, into
an absolutely huge chamber.  This enormous natural cavern
was easily a thousand feet in diameter, and even more in
height.  A huge mound of treasure sat near the center of
the place.

Peldor:  (looking around)  Something's missing.  Where's
  the dragon?
Rob:  Dragon?
Ged:  Who knows?
Peyote:  Why are we discussing this?
Belphanior:  He's right.  Let's go get that treasure.

  Most of them ventured out toward the heap of loot, after
Alindyar cast a spell to detect invisible creatures and
Ged cast a spell to detect evil creatures.  Neither of the
incantations revealed anything.  Only Alindyar, Lyra, and
the soulless Bosco remained at the chamber's entrance.  Of
course, the horses and animals stayed as well.
  The party was most of the way to the treasure pile when
the powerful winds buffeted them.

Peldor:  (closest to the treasure)  Uh oh!
Belphanior:  (looks upward)  Hey, everybody, it's a dragon!
Red Dragon:  (a fairly large specimen)  NOBODY MOVE.

  Even the mercurial Belphanior stood fast - for no one had
any desire to be roasted on the spot.  The huge wyrm soared
slowly downward, finally landing about a hundred feet from
the slightly scattered adventurers.  Meanwhile, Alindyar
and Lyra did their best to blend into the tunnel, as all of
the horses, hawks, wild dog, and tiger fled.  Bosco was
tossed unceremoniously into the cover of the passage by the
two drow.

Peyote:  Hey, dude, don't talk about Peldor like that.
Rob:  (points wordlessly at Peldor)
Peldor:  (grovels before the dragon, as he slowly inches
  his way toward the treasure heap)  Oh, forgive me, your
  royal greatness!  We are but weary travelers, seeking a
  legendary item, an item that only one as mighty and wise
  as _you_ could possibly possess!
Ged:  (to Halbarad)  What's gotten into him?
Halbarad:  I have no idea.  They say that the sight of a
  dragon can drive some men mad...
Red Dragon:  (regards the thief)  REALLY?
Peldor:  Oh, yes, your evilness!  We seek the key to a
  long-sealed fortress in the Yatils!  Can you possibly
  stoop so low as to help puny worms like us?  (he is
  almost at the treasure pile now, but the dragon doesn't
  seem to notice)
Belphanior:  (whispers)  Your life?
Red Dragon:  I HEARD THAT!  (grabs the elf and flings him
  high into the air)
Belphanior:  (sails upward for hundreds of feet)  Aaaaaaaa!
Ged:  Him and his big mouth.
Mongo:  Enough!  I've had enough!
Ged:  Now, now, let's not be too hasty...
Mongo:  Fuck it!  (hurls his hammer, bonking the big wyrm
  in the head)  All _right_!  Direct hit!
Red Dragon:  YOU _DARE_?!?!?  (sucks in great volumes of
Mongo:  Shit!
Halbarad:  Scatter!!  (they all try to)
Peldor:  (dives into the treasure pile and buries himself)
Red Dragon:  (is of course aware of the two drow far to
  the side, but decides to blast the majority of the group
  in front of it, and lets fly with a blast of flame fit
  to fry a golem)  BLEAAAAAARGH!
Ged:  (gets lucky and dodges the brunt of the blast, and
  is only burned moderately; his ring of water breathing
  and magical small shield melt)  Boccob's blasted breath!
  My ring!  MY SHIELD!  You DESTROYED them!
Arnold:  (saves, is still burned severely)  Aaaaaaaaaaaaa.
  Aaaaaaaaa!  Aaaaa!  AAAA!  (charges the dragon)  AAAAAA!
Halbarad:  (saves, is burnt badly; one of his two magical
  daggers melts, as do his magical hand axe and all three
  of his potions)  Argh!  My weapons!
Mongo:  (saves, is wounded only slightly thanks to his
  ring of fire resistance; his magical longsword and cube
  of health are melted down, though)  Shit!  You'll pay
  for that, motherfucker!  (hefts his hammer)
Peldor:  (trying to hide in the treasure pile, he avoids
  serious fire damage, and none of his items are destroyed)
  Ah, Peldor once again has the luck of the gods on his
Peyote:  (fails his save, is slain as he melts into a red
  and black puddle along with most of his items)
Rillen:  (saves, is wounded moderately)  Agh!  Baby, I am
  on _fire_!  (his cloak of arachnidia bursts into flame,
  and he dances around trying to put it out)  Aaa!
Rob:  (saves, is seriously wounded, but conscious)  OW!
Belphanior:  (in the air above, falling, has his staff of
  power out now)  Osacula, saculorum!  Verpe di'chantu!

nearby, in the tunnel...

Alindyar:  I get the impression that you and I are next.
Lyra:  Agreed.  We should do something to stall the wyrm
  while some of the others can recover.
Alindyar:  Yes.  (they both begin spellcasting)

  The dragon looked around.  Things were going well today,
it decided, as it surveyed the scene of its carnage.  The
two drow in the side tunnel had to be eliminated next, for
one never knew what a dark elf could do.  But these others
were mostly disoriented and wounded; the stupid elf was
even now falling from above, to his death; the dark human
warrior was on fire; and that strange-looking druid was now
slain.  Kieravaak moved its massive bulk, preparing to let
another breath of flame loose upon the pair of wildly
gesticulating drow in the distance.

Ged:  Yie!  (feels something burning his side)  What in the
  name of Boccob...?  (grabs his other wand, the one he got
  from the lost Sueloise city adventure; the wand is now
  pulsing and glowing, and black and grey runes dance upon
  its pale white surface)  What are these words?  (begins
  chanting quickly, hoping to use the wand on the dragon
  who is now facing him, looking like it is about to use
  its breath again)  Shit!  Come on, come on!  By all the
  myriad powers of the Uncaring Boccob, work, you wand!
Lyra:  (casts Hold Monster at the dragon)
Kieravaak:  (its magic resistance stops the spell)  HAH!
Alindyar:  Laugh this away, monster.  (casts Feeblemind upon
  the dragon, bypassing its magic resistance)
Kieravaak:  EH?  (saves, easily)  BAH.  YOU DROW ARE PUNY.
Lyra:  Uh-oh.
Alindyar:  He is not amused.
Arnold:  (picks a timely time to charge the dragon, and
  hacks a deep gash in its side)  Aaaaa.  Die, fowl lizzerd!
  Ah-nold vill slice you into ribbunz!
Kieravaak:  ARGH!  THAT HURT!  (swats the big warrior with
  a claw, knocking him to the floor)
Arnold:  Aaaa....(drops, bleeding profusely)
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at the dragon, but the weapon just
  bounces off of its thick hide)  Damn it!
Belphanior:  (having used his staff's powers, he is now in
  the air above, levitating, and preparing a spell)
Peldor:  (in the treasure pile, goes invisible and moves to
  backstab - but backs off when the dragon turns his way)
Kieravaak:  PUNY FOOLS!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Ged:  Aha!  (points the wand at the dragon)  Axui.

  Kieravaak, all hundred-odd feet of its huge form, was
suddenly engulfed in searing flames!  Ged's wand glowed
brightly now as its power was called upon for the first
time in millennia.

Ged:  wow.
Peldor:  That fire's _hot_.
Halbarad:  I am afraid that he may not mind that spell, or
  whatever you just cast.
Ged:  Eh?  Why not?
Halbarad:  Look.  (points wearily at the dragon)
Kieravaak:  (lolling happily within the flames)  MY THANKS
Ged:  Shit.  I finally find a great weapon, and our opponent
  isn't affected by it.
Halbarad:  Have no fear.  (charges the flaming wyrm)
Ged:  What are you doing?!?
Halbarad:  We must attack while it is occupied!
Kieravaak:  (reaches out and claws the ranger, sending him
  to the ground, unmoving and bleeding)  HA HA HA!
Belphanior:  (in air, about a hundred feet above)  Fucking
  shit-for-brains sonofabitch arrogant asshole of a mother
  fucking dragon...(casts a Cone of Cold from his staff, at
  the flame-covered dragon)
Kieravaak:  (its flames are mostly doused by the spell)
Ged:  Oh, really?  (prepares his next spell)
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer again, and hits this time)  Hah!
  Nothing's invulnerable!
Rillen:  (leaps forth from behind the dragon, smoking and
  charred)  Not if _I_ can help it.  (slashes the dragon
  twice with the bladed end of his staff-weapon)
Rob:  (inexplicably nowhere near the dragon, casts Prayer
  and begins chanting)
Ged:  Ah!  Take heart in this valiant, brave chant, my
Mongo:  (catches his hammer, and wipes his brow)  I hear
  ya.  Boy, it sure is _hot_ in here!

Kieravaak:  (leaps up and bats at Belphanior, missing but
  causing wind eddies that disrupt the elf's concentration
  and ruin his spell)  HA HA!
Peldor:  (finally sees an opening and runs out of the pile
  of treasure, intending to attack, backstab or not)
Ged:  (casts an Ice Storm upon Kieravaak)
Kieravaak:  AAAAAUUUGH!  ARRRRRGH!  (leaps about in pain)
Mongo:  Whoa.  (slips and falls in the sudden sleet)
Peldor:  (also in the spell's area of effect, gets very
  cold very quickly)  Brrrr!
Rillen:  Yow!  (slips around on the icy ground, but yet
  maintains his balance)  Chilling.
Rob:  (just out of the storm's area of effect, drags the
  form of Halbarad from the vicinity)
Kieravaak:  (dies from the extreme cold and his wounds)
Ged:  We did it!  We _won_!!  (claps Mongo on the back and
  tries to make his way out of the blizzard)  YES!
Alindyar:  (sees that the dragon is vanquished, and dashes
  forth, casting Dispel Magic on the ice storm)  Enough of
Lyra:  Oh, but what price victory?

  The party regrouped and counted their fallen...Arnold and
Halbarad were slain, but at least they had bodies left.
The unfortunate Peyote had to be scraped from the cavern
floor (admittedly an easier task since the ice storm had
frozen his remains into a pancake-like shape which could
be peeled off of the ground...)  Almost everyone else was
seriously wounded, as well.  Only Bosco, sitting just in
the tunnel entrance where Alindyar and Lyra had deposited
him, remained unfazed, as well as the two drow, of course.
All of the horses were long gone, and only Halbarad's big
tiger, of all the animals, returned.

Ged:  Well, we have three dead.  And I have never prayed
  for the spell to raise the dead...
Rob:  (steps forth)  Fortunately, I have.  Which shall
  we bring back?
Ged:  Why, Arnold, of course.
Mongo:  I would say Halbarad.  We need his fighting arm
  more than that goofy half-elf's babbling.
Halbarad's tiger:  Growr!
Alindyar:  No, no.  'Tis clear that we should raise the
  body of Peyote.  Remember, he has that rod, which may
Peldor:  Yea, look - the rod is sticking up from his...
  body.  In fact, it's if it senses what
  may be about to happen to its owner.
Rillen:  What would Boccob say?
Ged:  (makes some hand motions)  Boccob says...we should
  take a vote.  Full members only, of course.
Alindyar:  I vote for Peyote.
Belphanior:  I vote for...Peyote.
Ged:  Arnold.
Mongo:  Halbarad gets my vote.
Peldor:  Umm...Peyote.
Rillen:  I say Arnold.
Rob:  I vote for Peyote.  (begins spell casting)
Ged:  Hmph.

  The slowly-thawing, smelly puddle that was Peyote was
placed before Rob, and the priest poured what concentration
he had into his efforts.  As the spell was cast, Rob all
but collapsed from the strain.  The rod within Peyote's
remains glowed brightly, perhaps augmenting the spell with
its own great powers.  The Peyote-puddle trembled, melted,
and grew!  Within moments, the half-elf stood living!

Peyote:  Wow!  What _happened_ to me?
Rob:  You were dead, now you're alive.  Rejoice, friend.
  (hugs the half-elf)
Ged:  Now, Peyote, since we've so graciously elected to
  bring _you_ back to life, what can you do for Arnold
  and Halbarad here?
Peyote:  Uhh...I am weak from my ordeal.
Ged:  Don't give me that!  Use that "great" artifact-rod
  of yours!
Mongo:  Yeah!  Bring these guys back to life!
Peyote:  (looks at the form of Halbarad)  You have no
  idea of the cost, dudes...
Belphanior:  Cost?
Mongo:  Bah!  They need help.  Now!
Peyote:  Oh, all right.  (touches Halbarad with his rod)
  Bohemius sacrilie muvovum, shandi-sha.
Halbarad:  (opens his eyes)  Wha-?  Where is the dragon?
Mongo:  Dead, of course.
Peyote:  (touches Arnold)  Viva la Schwarz!
Arnold:  (jumps up)  Whea is da big lizzerd?
Ged:  Whew.
Peyote:  (heals himself with his rod, then falls asleep,
  remaining thus for three days while the rod heals his
  burn scars)

  They rested for six days in the dragon's lair, counting
and sorting its treasure.  Besides a great amount of
monetary treasure, the hoard contained a large metallic
key (which fit Yin-Tze's description of the key to the
devil fortress' gates) and the following magical items:

square of folded cloth   -  Belphanior
libram                   -  Ged
belt                     -  Mongo
pocket (!)               -  Peldor
staff                    -  Alindyar
colored robe             -  Peyote
small bag of beans       -  Rob
boots                    -  Rillen
rod                      -  Halbarad
mage scroll              -  Lyra
knife                    -  Arnold

  Peldor insisted that Bosco should get his share of the
loot as well, but this idea was quickly ignored by most
of the others.  The party consulted its map and decided
to backtrack through the tunnel, then leave the Barrier
Peaks and head northward, for the Yatils.  Alindyar used
his flying carpet, though, to scout the upper exit of the
dragon's cavern, far above, and returned to tell of a
plausible, though steep, trail that seemed to lead down
from the small mountain - as well as leading northward.
Since this way was faster, the party used it, ascending
in twos by means of the drow's carpet (Halbarad's tiger
required a Fly spell, however).
  Once the group had descended the mountain (an entire
day's effort!), they rested, and it was in this temporary
campsite that surprising news was broken.

Halbarad:  Excuse me.  Excuse me!  I have an announcement
  to make.
Mongo:  Eh?  (eating a haunch of meat)  What's that?
Halbarad:  Um...Peyote and I will be departing from your
  company, effective immediately.
Peyote:  Also the tiger, man.
Halbarad:  Err, yes.
Ged:  What?  Why?
Halbarad:  We feel out-of-place here.  The time has come
  to seek out new quests.
Peyote: explore strange new seek...
Halbarad:  Enough.  We shall try to contact you later, if
Alindyar:  Are you sure that you must go?
Halbarad:  It is certain.  In fact, the gods have told
  him (points to Peyote with his dagger) of new quests.
  As his faithful companion, I must accompany him, for
  these quests no doubt are of great import to the woods
  and forests and all within.
Ged:  No doubt.
Rob:  Aww, I'm going to miss you guys.

  Farewells were exchanged, and the two adventurers, plus
one large tiger, took a different trail away from the
mountain, as the others watched halfheartedly.

next time:  the giant; the Fortress

FTP SITE: (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)

NOTES:  It's currently shortly before midnight on a Thursday.  I
wasn't going to write one tonight, but then decided to because
of a song I heard that put me in a really good was
"Burn, Bitch, Burn" by the immortal KISS.  Heh heh.  Go figure.
  And speaking of burning, yes, I _know_ there aren't supposed
to be pyrohydrae with more than 8 heads.  But they exist...

  The "gods" who told Halbarad and Peyote to go might be better
known as diplomas.  The two players left to start their working
professional lives, and that was that.  Have we seen the last
of Halbarad and Peyote though?  Who knows?

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