Chapter #79

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                                +
                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +                   +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +
                                +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      11th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra        7th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior     8th/8th/9th level high elf w/m/t    (CN)   +
+   Ged            9th/9th level grey elf priest/mage  (NG)   +
+      Arnold      7th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+   Mongo          9th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        12th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen         9th level human warrior              (N)   +
+   Rob           10th level human priest              (LG)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:   7/16/571 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:   morning                                           +
+   Place:  a cave somewhere within the Yatil Mountains       +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





               LXXIX.  Into the Underdark





  The party has just opened a portal leading to the
Underdark, home of all who dwell beneath the world's
surface.  The 20' high, 10' wide double doors swung
inward, revealing inky blackness...

Rob:  Whoa.  (casts Continual Light upon a torch stub
  and holds the bright object aloft)
Belphanior:  Good move, Rob.  We _still_ can't see a
  damned thing in there.
Mongo:  (hefts his hammer)  So, we go in charging,
  right?
Lyra:  Not so hasty, dwarf.  If you knew what lay
  beyond, you might have second thoughts.
Alindyar:  This darkness seems not to be of the type
  which retreats before light sources...
Ged:  Yea, you're right.  It's like...well, like a
  _wall_ there.
Belphanior:  No matter.  (pushes Rob into the dark
  area ahead, and the priest is swallowed up)  Hmm.
  Oh, what the hell.  (draws Blackrazor and steps
  into the darkness after Rob, vanishing in the same
  way)
Peldor:  (pokes a dagger blade into, then out of, the
  darkness, without apparent effect)  Hmm.
Mongo:  Bah.  (strolls into the darkness)
Ged:  Enough of this.  Let's go for it, by Boccob's
  glowing eyes.
Alindyar:  Truly, 'tis now or never.  (the rest of
  the party follows the dwarf)

  A darkness more total than any of them had ever
experienced now surrounded them.  Though all nine
of the party had entered in close formation, not a
single footstep could be heard, not even the most
hushed whisper was audible.  Each of the adventurers
seemed to walk through the darkness all by himself
(or herself).  After ten long seconds, the inky
darkness abruptly lifted, and the group then found
itself in a cavern.  The ceiling was some fifteen
feet in height, and the chamber spanned about forty
feet in diameter, with six rough-hewn exits spaced
equidistantly about its perimeter.

Mongo:  What the fuck?!?  This doesn't _look_ like
  the Underdark!
Alindyar:  Hmm.  It must be an adjunct area then.
Rob:  Hey, what's that?!  (points to a puddle in
  the center of the room's stony floor; a bleached
  skeleton lies half-buried within this puddle)
Ged:  Wha-?  (casts Detect Evil upon himself)  Hey,
  Belphanior!  Undead?
Belphanior:  Huh?  Oh.  (casts Detect Undead upon
  himself)  Nope.  Nada.
Ged:  Not evil either.
Peldor:  (pokes the skeleton, which is limed-over
  but has nothing of interest)  Bah.  Peldor will
  steal only from the _living_!
Belphanior:  Well, if one of these passages will
  lead us to the Underworld...(picks a random exit
  and heads for it)  Come on, guys.
Ged:  No, I say we take _this_ exit.  (points at
  another tunnel leading out)
Belphanior:  Fine.  (goes)
Peldor:  Well...(follows the elf)
Ged:  Hmph.  (heads down his own passage)  Come
  on, Arnold.
Arnold:  Okay.  (follows Ged)
Mongo:  Wait up!  (follows Ged as well)  You might
  need help.
Arnold:  No.  I, Ah-nold, can hamdle any prodlems.
Mongo:  Yeah, right, I hear you, pal.
Rillen:  (follows Belphanior for reasons that only
  he may know)
Rob:  (follows Rillen)
others:  (all follow Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (looks back, amused)  Well.

nearby...

Rillen:  What is that smell ahead?
Belphanior:  Holy shit!  Undead!  (dashes into a
  small chamber, hacking at a skeletal warrior
  who leads two others of his kind)  Die!
Peldor:  (hot on the trail, he engages a second
  skeleton)  Aha!  Peldor joins the fray!
Rillen:  (hears swordplay and sprints into the
  room, bashing the third undead warrior with
  his staff)  More bones?
Belphanior:  Looks that way.  (nicks his opponent
  in the arm bone, as the skeleton misses him
  with a swift sword thrust)  Whoa!
Peldor:  (misses his opponent)
Rillen:  (crushes his skeleton's ribcage with a
  mighty blow, sending shards of bone everywhere)
  Simply smashing.
Rob:  (arrives, and begins to turn undead)  By
  the power of the Redeemer, I command you guys,
  err, undead, back!  Go back to hell!  Or, even
  better, dissolve!
skeletal warriors:  (all three crumble into dust
  when faced with Rob's magical powers)
Rillen:  Well, they really bit the dust.
Rob:  (pleased)  Yes, they did, didn't they?
Belphanior:  Good job, priest.
Peldor:  (examining the room)  No loot.
Belphanior:  Their swords don't seem special or
  magical, either.
Alindyar:  (arrives)  What has transpired?
Peldor:  Not much.  We just got rid of three
  skeletons.
Lyra:  You must be proud of yourselves.  What a
  grand feat of skill and power.
Belphanior:  Whatever.  Let's get to another of
  the tunnels.
Peldor:  (realizes that the battle was actually
  not a glorious one)  Oh, well.  (follows the
  elf as he heads back toward the main chamber)

meanwhile...

Ged:  (he and Arnold enter a tunnel which winds
  around; a niche to one side, in the stone of
  the wall, holds a conical opening)  What is
  this?
Arnold:  Cone!
Ged:  Yea.  Brilliant.  (he looks into the hole
  or cone - it is ringed with many sharp teeth
  at its opening, and the point of the cone is
  about three feet in)  Looks dangerous.
Mongo:  (arrives)  What is this you've found?
  A cone-mouth?!
Ged:  Looks like it.  (carefully pokes an iron
  spike into the opening, producing no response
  at all)  Hmm.
Mongo:  Break the teeth!  (bashes the stone
  "teeth" with his hammer, smashing a few)
Ged:  Well-  YAA!  (whips his hand back as the
  mouth-like opening slams shut, slicing half
  of the iron spike off, to fall to the floor)
Arnold:  Aaaaaa.
Mongo:  Shit!
Ged:  It's a good thing I didn't put my hand
  in there.
Arnold:  Yah.  You wouldn't haave dhat hand
  anymore...
Mongo:  Oh, well...(continues along the passage
  and emerges into the original room; this exit
  was thus actually a loop, leading to another of
  the "exits")  Hey!  (runs into Belphanior and
  company, who are back in the main room now)
Ged:  Hmm.  We've eliminated two of the exits
  so far.
Peldor:  Plus the one _we_ took.
Mongo:  Let's go that way.  (the party now
  goes down another tunnel)
Peldor:  (takes a fifth tunnel by himself, now
  invisible)
Belphanior:  What's that odd smell?  Did you
  fart, Rob?
Rob:  Who, me?
Mongo:  Hold up that torch, Rob.  (they enter
  a portion of tunnel which is only three feet
  high, and three feet wide)
Belphanior:  Geez, I have to crumple myself up
  just to get through here!
Mongo:  Nah.  (easily moves through the narrow
  passage and into a room)  Whoa!  Hold it!
Ged:  What?  What is it?
Mongo:  Gas!

  The cramped tunnel led into a room which had
a layer of green gas floating in most of its
upper portion.  Only the lowest three feet or
so had normal air.  The gas seemed to have
collected in the top of the room over time,
and the gas-to-air border was clearly defined
right at the three-foot level.

Belphanior:  Cripes!  Rob, put that torch
  out!  (crouches low, careful to avoid the
  gas)
Mongo:  No need.  If it was explosive, it
  would've already gone off.  And we'd all
  be toast right now...
Ged:  (pokes the gas above himself, with his
  morningstar)  Hmm, it doesn't react much.
  And it's not inherently evil...(jokingly)
  Maybe one of us should breathe it to see
  what it is.
Arnold:  Yah!  Okay, boss.  (mistakenly
  thinks that Ged ordered him to stand up,
  and does so - only his thighs down are
  visible now)  <koff koff>
Ged:  No!  I was kidding!
Arnold:  (falls to the floor, underneath
  the gaseous layer, coughing;  his skin
  has taken on a greenish tone now)
Mongo:  Holy shit!  He's GREEN!
Rillen:  Green as a pear.
Ged:  (gasping in horror)  Agh!  Boccob!
Belphanior:  Heh heh.
Arnold:  (blinks)  Huh?  (looks at his now-
  green hands)  Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?  Whad's
  happened to me?!?  I'm _green_!!!
Ged:  Argh.  I guess it's _my_ fault.  How
  do you feel?
Arnold:  I feel fine.  Bud I'm _green_!

  Just then, a piercing scream broke out, from
some nearby room.

Belphanior:  Hey, where's Peldor?!?

  They all squirmed through the narrow way and
made it back to the main room, then ran down
another of the exit passages, in the direction
from whence the loud shriek was coming from.
They entered a larger, cavernous chamber, in
which Peldor stood before some monster, his
hands over his ears.  The thing was seven feet
tall, and covered in brown skin.  Its beady eyes
glowed red, and it held a white club of wood in
one long, clawed arm.  Its mouth was open as it
continued to scream at the party.

thing:  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Arnold:  Argh!  (covers his ears, then his
  eyes)  I am blind!  I can'd see!
Belphanior:  This just isn't his day.  First
  his mentor, the noble Ged, commands him to
  breathe the terrible green gas, which then
  renders him _green_, and now, this...
Ged:  Shut up.
Mongo:  (ignores the screaming, having made
  his save, and hurls his hammer at the
  noisy abomination)  Shut the hell up!
thing:  (hit by the weapon, falls down and
  stops screaming for the moment)  Eeeee...
Rillen:  (leaps forth and confronts the
  being)  What _are_ you?
Ged:  (with his previously cast spell, sees
  an aura)  It's evil!  Very evil!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Alindyar:  Indeed.  That creature is one of
  the minor devils, in fact.
Rillen:  Oh.  (bats the beastie with his
  staff, wounding it)
devil:  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Ged:  (pointing his wand)  Axui.
devil:  (explodes in flames)  Eeeeeeeeee!
Rillen:  (leaps back from the flaming devil)
Peldor:  Gee, if that wand won't shut him up,
  I don't know what will.  (heads for the
  chest resting nearby)
Belphanior:  (trying to distract the rest of
  the party, but he is too late - they have
  spotted Peldor)  ...
Mongo:  (follows Peldor)  What'cha doing?
Ged:  (casts Cure Blindness on Arnold)
Arnold:  (opens his eyes, blinking wildly)
  Aaa.  Mudch bedder now.  (looks at his
  green arms)  But I'm still _green_!
Ged:  Okay, okay.  We'll have to work on
  that one, I admit.
Peldor:  (opens the chest, after discerning
  no traps)  Whoa!

  There was another trap, though, and this
one nailed the thief.  Several darts shot
from the wall, and one hit Peldor, who then
crumpled in agony, poisoned.

Ged:  Hold on!  (casts Neutralize Poison upon
  Peldor, saving his life)  There.
Peldor:  Argh.  Damned darts.  I owe you one,
  elf.
Ged:  Not me.  You owe _Boccob_.  Remember that.
  Boccob!
Peldor:  Hmm.
Alindyar:  (reaches into the open chest and
  pulls out some treasure)  Interesting.

  Inside the chest were a tube of green paste,
a small sack of marbles, a folded blanket, a
wine bottle, some copper coins, a huge pearl,
a foot-high egg of metal, and a lot of tattered
wrapping material.  The party examined all of
this treasure after they were back in the main
chamber.

Alindyar:  What is this?  (tries to lift the
  metallic ovule, but can't)
Mongo:  Allow me.  (easily lifts the egg and
  sets it onto the floor, where it promptly
  rolls onto its side)  There.
Peldor:  (begins poking the egg with a dagger)
  How does it open?  Hey, Mongo, use that chime
  of yours.
Mongo:  Chime?  Oh, well, okay.  (rings his
  chime)

  Suddenly, the metallic egg sprouted a pair
of skinny arms, and a pair of skinny legs, and
then began running around.  Mongo made a grab
for it, but couldn't catch it in time.

Mongo:  Cripes!
egg:  (trips and falls into the puddle)
Peldor:  (silently uses his ring of telekinesis
  to push the egg-thing into the sixth passage,
  the one that the party hasn't explored yet)
  Well, would you look at that?  He ran into
  that tunnel!  C'mon, let's chase him!
Rillen:  (already on the move, he and Peldor
  run through the exit, followed by the rest
  of the party, except for Mongo and Alindyar
  who are still loading the treasure into the
  dwarf's portable hole)
Mongo:  Hey!  Aw, damn.  Come on, let's get
  this stuff loaded!
Alindyar:  Right.

  The last passage led into a small cavern
which contained a pedestal at its center.
This roughly mushroom-shaped thing was no
higher than a foot from the ground.  The egg
had run into a corner and was now apparently
trying to climb the wall.

Rillen:  (he and Arnold examine the pedestal
  for clues as to its purpose)  Why would
  someone make a statue of a _mushroom_ ??
Peldor:  (watches the egg, sword raised)
Ged:  Hmm.  Try lifting this pedestal.
Rillen:  Sure.  (he and Arnold do so, and
  the stone lifts slightly, and then a deep
  rumbling is heard)  Uh-oh.
Rob:  Look!  (points at a section of wall that
  just slid aside, revealing a chute which
  descends, spiraling, into darkness)
Lyra:  (touches the chute)  Look here. (holds
  up a finger, covered with some black tar-
  like substance)  Grease.
Belphanior:  Maybe it was a trap of some kind.
Peldor:  Maybe it still is.  (innocently
  telekineses the metallic egg-thing away
  from the cavern wall, and toward the
  greased chute)  Hey, look at him go!  He's
  headed right for that chute...!
Mongo:  (he and Alindyar arrive)  What in
  the hell's going on here?!?
egg-thing:  (pushed into the chute, it slides
  down silently, and disappears from sight)
Peldor:  What a neat little toy!

  The party decided to descend the chute as well,
after sending Belphanior down on the end of a
rope.  The elf ran out of rope before the chute
ended, but he reported a floor in view at the
edge of his vision.  Deeming the chute safe,
Belphanior of course volunteered to go first,
and leaped into the descending tunnel, quickly
vanishing into the depths.
  About seven seconds later, he yelled from
below, though his voice sounded distant.  He
seemed to be telling the party to hurry, so
they descended with all due haste.
  Rillen was the first to land on the floor of
the huge tunnel.  Belphanior stood nearby and
looked around, taking in the view with awe.

  The party was now in a huge tunnel, some one
hundred feet in radius, and hemispherical in
cross-section.  The enormous shaft led to the
left and right as far as anyone was able to see.
Its walls and ceiling were shiny and black,
appearing as a series of segmented spines.  The
stone of the huge passageway looked like it had
been polished and divided to the extent that it
almost appeared to be...alive.  A thin mist
floated everywhere, not thick enough to block
vision, but just enough to make the whole place
seem eerie.  Whatever was in either direction,
and distant, was shrouded in the fog.  The
climate here was a bit chilly, and the air
smelled old and dry, unlike any other smell
that any of the adventurers had experienced in
any dungeon.  The sounds of the party made
distant echoes as they were swallowed up by the
gigantic mist-filled tunnel.


Alindyar:  ...Welcome, my friends, to the
  Underdark!





next time :  the first casualty

ftp site  :  ccosun.caltech.edu, in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers

notes     :  ...
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