Chapter #9

previous chapter (#8)                                                                  next chapter (#10)






-----------------------------------------------------------------------
THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 3rd level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 2nd/2nd level high elf fighter/mage (CN)
Ged, 3rd/2nd level grey elf priest/mage (NG)
Halbarad, 3rd level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 3rd level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 4th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 2nd/2nd level half-elf fighter/druid (N)
Rob, 3rd level human priest (LG)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------


                            IX.  Pursuit



  The party has been riding rapidly through the plains for three days.
Fresh out of Courwood, they are headed southeast, through a pass of
relatively smooth terrain between forest and mountains.  This narrow
pass is about thirty leagues in length, and they are just entering it.

Halbarad:  (checking the tracks on the ground.  The party has stopped
  for a rest)  I really can't tell if he came through here or not.
  The tracks are far too old at this point, and much weather has come
  and gone.  Should we continue?
Mongo:  Damn straight!  That sonofabitch isn't getting away from us!
Belphanior:  They said in Courwood that he left in a hurry, and came
  this way.  I think it is a good guess that he's somewhere beyond
  the forest by now.  But, I say we get him too.  That bastard owes
  us a lot.
Peyote:  I am uneasy about the path ahead.  I have heard talk of this
  passage south of the Suss being a favorite place for ambushes.
Ged:  Makes sense.  No one for miles around, the untamed wilderness,
  hostile lands, eight lost adventurers...yep, I'd say that we must
  look like pretty good pickings.
Rob:  Lost?
Peldor:  Bah!  The mighty Peldor is pickings for no one.  Let the
  fools come, if they dare.  Any party that counts Peldor among its
  members has naught to worry about.
Mongo:  Except slit money pouches...
Rob:  Hey!  Where's my money?  Someone stole my purse!
Ged:  See there?  I knew it!
Rob:  All my coins are gone!  I'm broke!  Bankrupt!
Peldor:  (looking around innocently)
Mongo:  Fork over the dough, thief!
Peyote:  We could turn him upside down and shake, and see what comes
  out.
Ged:  Sounds good to me.
DM:  (to Rob)  Wait a minute.  You donated your monetary treasure to
  the temple in Courwood.  Remember, you told me so!
Rob:  Oh.  Err...so I did.  Why is everybody looking at me like that?

  The party rides on in silence for a while.  A few hours later the
monotony is broken by a cry of alarm.

Halbarad:  Ho!  There are foes ahead!  Giants!  (The ranger has the
  sharpest eyesight by far, just another reason why he always gets
  to be the party's scout)  I draw my sword!
Mongo:  Giants?!?  This'll be a new challenge for me.  I unsling
  my axe and dismount.
Halbarad:  Oh yes.  I dismount too.  Someone take the horses back
  and off to the side.
Alindyar:  Have they any boulders?
Halbarad:  No.  We're better off for it, too.

DM:  You ready yourselves for possible combat.  Soon, around the bend
ahead saunter not one, not two, but THREE giants.  The huge, smelly
humanoids leer at you menacingly.  They tower over you, topping ten
feet in height easily.

Giant#1:  Har har.  Look wut we gots heer.
Giant#2:  Littul wunz!
Giant#3:  Me's thinkin' supper...
Giant#1:  Ayuh.  Me stumick's rumblin' too.

Mongo:  Hey, you!  Why are you blocking the path?
Ged:  Seems pretty obvious to me...
Rob:  No!  It couldn't be!  Not...a toll road!
Ged:  Quiet, you gibbering fool.  They think we are their next meal.
Rob:  Oh.  I guess that's worse.
Peldor:  No one, but no one, gets toll from Peldor.
Halbarad:  (yelling out to the giants)  We wish to pass!  We want no
  trouble!  (Halbarad can speak hill giant)
Giant#1:  Heh.  No trubble et all.
Giant#2:  (squinting at the party)  Eh?  Och!  Good meel!  All o' they
  differen flavurs!
Giant#3:  (brandishes huge carven bone as a club)  Letsus be 'bout it
  then!
Alindyar:  They are not listening, Halbarad.
Halbarad:  I can see that.
Rob:  Should we run?
Mongo:  RUN?!  From three stupid giants?!  No way!
Giant#1:  Hey!  We'ez not stoopid, we'ez DUMB!
Belphanior:  Whatever.  I draw my sword.  We should charge them before
  they get any closer to the magi etc.
Rob:  Are you calling me an "etc." ??
Alindyar:  Hm.
Mongo:  Let's do it then!  (charges the giants, followed by Belphanior
  and Halbarad)
Peyote:  Uh-oh!  I put on my ring (disappears from sight)
Peldor:  (backing away to one side with sword drawn)

Belphanior:  (hacks at giant#3, hits)  Taste steel, lout!
Giant#3:  Tikkles.  See how you like.  (clubs the elf across the head
  with his huge bone-club)  Hor hor!
Belphanior:  (head ringing and bleeding now)  Crap!
Giant#1:  (swings at Halbarad with a bastard sword, to the giant it's
  a short sword; misses as the ranger dodges aside deftly)  Eh?
Halbarad:  (slices the giant with hand axe and dagger, inflicting a
  pair of small wounds)
Ged:  (casts a sleep spell at giant#2, the closest to him)  Snooze,
  huge one!
Giant#2:  (shrugs off the spell)  Me not tired!
Mongo:  (slow as molasses, but closing in on the lumbering giant)
Alindyar:  (brandishing wand, blasts giant#1 with a magic missile)
Giant#1:  Bugs out today.  Stinging.
Rob:  (casting a spiritual hammer)  Oh lord, aid us in this moment
  of need...
Giant#2:  (slow, but not as slow as Mongo; stabs at the dwarf with a
  huge spear)  Har!  We'ez eetin dworf taday!
Mongo:  No way!  (easily dodges the clumsy attack, and slices the
  giant's kneecap with his axe...maximum damage and a knee critical
  to boot.  Some of the party cheer.)  Eat that!
Giant#2:  Aaaaa!  Muh nee!  Aaaaa!  (starts hopping around on one
  leg)  Aaaaa!
Mongo:  Heh.

Giant#1:  (swats Halbarad, sending him reeling to one side)
Giant#3:  (knocks Belphanior over the head with the bone club)  How
  you like this, elf?  Ha ha!
Belphanior:  (badly, badly wounded, falls to the ground)
Giant#3:  Now I smash!  (raises the bone to pummel the elf further)
Belphanior:  Uhh.  (trying feebly to roll out of the way)
Halbarad:  (slices giant#1 with his axe, misses with his dagger)
Ged:  (launches a magic missile at giant#3)  Back, fell giant!
Giant#3:  Ha.  (not fazed at all)
Belphanior:  (to party)  Help!  Somebody save me!
Peyote:  (stabs giant#3)  Excellent!  Yie!  (now visible, begins
  swordplay, such as it is, with the giant)
Belphanior:  Medic!
Alindyar:  (moving about silently, with a web spell ready)
Rob:  There!  (his spiritual hammer pounds giant#1)
Peldor:  (sneaking behind giant#3)
Giant#3:  Aargh!  (suddenly backstabbed by Peldor)
Peldor:  Never, NEVER, turn your back on Peldor!
Mongo:  (chops at the giant, scoring two hits with his battleaxe)
  Fall, shitbreath!
Giant#2:  (topples, badly wounded)  Urk...
Halbarad:  (slices his opponent feebly)
Alindyar:  (launches a web at giant#1, the one fighting Halbarad)
Giant#1:  (caught up in the sticky strands)  Dang!  I is stuk!

Peldor:  (to DM)  I go over to the one in the web and cut its throat
  if possible.
DM:  Hang on a second there.  (rolling dice)
Giant#3:  (has turned around to face Peldor)  Ho thar, liddle man!
  (smashes at Peldor with his bone-club)
Peldor:  (sails off to one side)  Ouch!  You'll regret that!
Mongo:  (misses giant#2 with his axe)  Thunder an' damnation!  Can't I
  _ever_ have a battle where everything goes right?!?
Giant#2:  (on the ground, can't get the dwarf with his oversized spear
  and digs up a chunk of ground instead)  Shee-it!
Rob:  Back, fell giant!  (bashes giant#3 with the spiritual hammer)
Belphanior:  (ignored by giant#3 and his companions alike)  (to DM)  I
  pick myself up off the ground and try to crawl over to the webbed
  giant so I can kill it.
DM:  (checking the battlefield)  Okay.
Giant#1:  (ripping some of the webbing away)
Peyote:  (slashes giant#3 with his bastard sword)  Whoa there man.
Giant#3:  (bleeding profusely)  Ach.
Halbarad:  (stabs giant#1, the one inside the web)
Alindyar:  (launches a magic missile from his wand, at giant#3)
Ged:  (not wanting to miss the action, he swings his mace at the giant
  trapped in the web, easily hitting it)  Ha!  Such is the fate of all
  of the evil ones!
Peldor:  Yea!  (slashes giant#3, killing it)  And all useless priests
  of Boccob!
Ged:  (fuming)
Belphanior:  (stabs the webbed giant#1, slaying it)
Peldor:  (watching)

Mongo:  (somehow gets initiative and chops giant#2 twice more)
Giant#2:  ...(perishes)
Peldor:  Ha!  Victory!
Mongo:  Who's gonna clean up this mess?
Ged:  Maybe Peldor should.
Peldor:  Never!  Ones such as _I_ do not tidy up after the messes of the
  ilk of Boccob.
Belphanior:  Hear, hear.
Mongo:  Fuck this.  I drag the bodies off to the side of the trail.
Belphanior:  I help.
Peldor:  (suddenly realizes that there are pockets to pick)  Me too!
Ged:  Somebody watch him.
Halbarad:  What of the giants' weapons and other possessions?
Belphanior:  What of them?
Alindyar:  If we pile them together, Ged here could check for magical
  emanations.
Peldor:  But, Ged IS an emanation!
Ged:  Enough, fool.  I refuse to give in to your taunts.  (to DM)  I
  watch him very closely, though.
Mongo:  Hey!  (gold coins spill out from one of the slain giants' purses)
  We've hit the mother lode!
Belphanior:  (to DM)  I watch all of them, especially Peldor.
DM:  Okay.
Ged:  Somebody count those coins!  (moves to heal Halbarad)
Rob:  I can help too!  (starts binding Mongo's wounds)
Peldor:  (to DM)  Is anybody watching me?  I take some of the gold, and
  also check for rings and such.
DM:  (to Peldor)  The elf, Belphanior, is watching you.
Peldor:  I speak to him in thieves' cant.
DM:  (after some note-swapping)  (to Peldor)  He replies...
Belphanior:  (in thieves' cant, to Peldor)  What say we split anything
  special, fifty-fifty?
Peldor:  (in thieves' cant, to Belphanior)  You're a THIEF!
Belphanior:  I prefer to think that I steal from the rich and give to me...
Peldor:  No problem with that.  Heh.

DM:  You have piled the loot from the giants into one big pile...
Ged:  Let's hope so.
DM:  ...and there is a total of about three thousand coppers and six hundred
  gold coins also.
Alindyar:  What of trinkets, baubles, and other potentially magical items?
DM:  The first giant had a bastard sword, and a small stone statue.  The
  second giant had a huge spear, and an amulet.  The third giant had his
  huge club of bone, and a giant-sized ring, and a wand.
Peyote:  (eyes alight at the mention of a bastard sword)  Dude!  I examine
  that sword.
Ged:  What does the stone statue look like?
DM:  It is a crude animal form - a dog, or a horse.  It's pretty badly
  faded and worn.  A rune is carved into the bottom.
Ged:  Can I read it?
DM:  No.
Ged:  Oh.  Well, then, I check with each party member to see if anyone
  else can read the rune.
DM:  Okay, you find that Mongo can...it's a dwarven rune.
Mongo:  What's it say?
DM:  Err..."Equine".  That's the word.
Peldor:  Is the ring too big to fit on my finger?
DM:  Well, since you're not a giant, yes it is.
Peldor:  Oh.  I examine the amulet for special knobs or symbols then.
Peyote:  (to DM)  The sword?
DM:  Oh, yeah.  It is a finely carved weapon, but dirty, probably by the
  giant's smelly paws.
Peyote:  Okay.
Ged:  Good, good.  We pile all the stuff again, and I cast a detect magic
  on the whole of it.
DM:  The sword glows strongly, while the statue glows faintly.
Halbarad:  Peyote, why don't you carry the sword for now, and we'll put the
  rest in the treasure sack.
Mongo:  (hefts the sack high)  I guess I'm the official carrier of the loot
  sack now?
Ged:  Better you than that rascal Peldor.
Peldor:  Thank you for the compliment.  I didn't know you had it in you.
Ged:  Grr...

  And so the party continued on, after some more healing and a late lunch
break.  The next day, they encountered a dwarven patrol...

Dwarf leader:  Who goes there?!
Mongo:  (to party)  Let me handle this.  (to dwarves)  It is I, Mongo
  Thunderhead, hero of Clan Thunderhead, slayer of orcs and giants.  These
  are my faithful companions (gestures to the rest of the party)
Dwarf leader:  (turns to his soldiers)  Any of you ever heard of this guy?
  No?  I didn't think so.  Hmm.
Mongo:  Ahem.  I see that word of my deeds has not yet come your way.  No
  matter.  Whither does the road lead?
Dwarf leader:  To the town of Aria, about a half day's ride from here.
Belphanior:  Aria?  Haven't I heard that somewhere before?
Mongo:  Well, we shall be on our way then.
Dwarf leader:  Hold!  Beware of giants, for some have been seen in these
  parts recently.  In fact, even now we search for them.
Mongo:  We ourselves just slew three giants.  Maybe those are the ones?
Dwarf leader:  Really?  Where are the bodies then?
Mongo:  (sticks a thumb back the way they came)  Back there a ways.
Dwarf leader:  We shall see.  Stay out of trouble.  (looks quizzically
  at Alindyar as the dwarves pass by)
Alindyar:  (ignoring the dwarves)

  Shortly after dusk of that day, the adventurers reached the safety of
the small town of Aria.  They wasted no time asking after their quarry,
Belgar, but responses were not encouraging.  Finally, though...

Shopkeeper:  (at a provisions store)  Oh yeah.  A traveller came through
  here not too long ago.
Halbarad:  This traveller...what did he look like?
Shopkeeper:  He was wearing dirty clothes, and looked tired.  Ugly cuss,
  too, with a smashed nose...
Mongo:  That's Belgar, all right!  Where might he be?
Shopkeeper:  He went westward, following a local rumor of treasure in the
  old castle.
Peldor:  Treasure?
Ged:  Old castle?  Where is this old castle?
Shopkeeper:  That'd be Lunok Castle.  But you don't want to go there.  I
  tried to tell _him_ that too, but he wouldn't listen.
Alindyar:  This Lunok Castle...what manner of place is it?
Shopkeeper:  Haunted, I tell you!  Only fools and crazy men go there!
Ged:  Well.  Belgar is a fool, to be sure.
Alindyar:  Which are we, I wonder?
Rob:  Crazy men, crazy men...
Mongo:  ...and dwarf!
Halbarad:  Enough.  Where is this place you speak so fondly of?
Shopkeeper:  'Tis about four leagues west of town.  I wouldn't advise you
  to go there, though, but if you must, at least wait until morning.
Ged:  Good advice.  Haunted castles are best left to the daylight.
Halbarad:  Friend shopkeeper...
Shopkeeper:  Call me Guzel.  All my friends do.
Halbarad:  Well then, Guzel, we will buy new provisions for our trip from
  your shop here, if you will tell us more of this Lunok Castle.
Guzel:  Okay, if you insist.

  The party restocked their supplies and found dinner.  Guzel told them
the following commonly heard rumors about Castle Lunok:

- Lunok Castle houses a demon
- It used to be a rich lord's home
- Strange and dangerous beasts come from it often
- The last group who went there never came back
- Long ago, someone did come back, loaded with riches and wild tales.  He
    disappeared soon afterwards

  The adventurers found lodging at a local inn, and planned to continue the
pursuit of Belgar in the morning.  They went to bed early, except for the
drow, Alindyar, who stayed up very late studying his spellbooks.

  The next morning, the party ate, packed, and departed.  They were delayed
slightly because Rob's horse needed a shoe repaired, but they were on their
way before too long.  The castle was about four hours away, and the group
had found it necessary to hire guides.  The terrain was rough and very bad
for tracking and similar things.  The guides led them through hills, brush,
and finally, rough mountainous ground.  Suddenly, a dark castle on top of
a hill loomed before them.  One guided squealed in terror, and the pair
grabbed their money and fled on horseback as fast as the mounts would go.
  The second guide had been necessary because the first refused to have to
go back to the town alone.  Mongo had scoffed at such foolishness, but paid
the natives anyway, glad to be rid of their whining.

Halbarad:  What does this castle look like?
DM:  It's pretty grim.  The place is in extensive disrepair, with walls and
  towers crumbling everywhere.  The main walls are about twenty feet high,
  while the towers are more like thirty.  A round keep in the center of the
  castle grounds rises fifty feet or more into the cloudy sky.



CASTLE LUNOK (DM's map):

  __                    __                    __                N
 /  \__________________/  \__________________/  \              W+E
|    |                |    |                |    |              S
 \__%                  \%_/                  %__/
 |                                              |
 |                                              |  KEY: _ | \ / = wall
 |                                              |             % = door
 |                                ?             |             : = portcullis
 |                                              |           ,,, = garden
 |                                              |          .... = training
 |                    ______                    |                   field
 |                   /      \                   |             ? = fungus
 |__           ,,, /          \               __|__                 corpse
 /  \          ,,,|    KEEP    %             |     |          & = perytons
| && %         ,,,|            %             :                ! = werewolves
 \__/          ,,, \          /              |_____|
 |                   \______/                   |
 |                                              |
 |                                        ______|
 |__                                 ____|      |
 |__                          ...   %    |      |
 |                         .......  |    %  !!! |
 |                      .........   |____|      |
 |                        ......         %______|
 |__                     _                     _|
 /  %                   / %\                  %  \
|    |__|__|__|__|__|__|    |__|____|__|__|__|    |
 \__/                   \__/                  \__/






Halbarad:  Let's check out that open gate in the middle tower to the east.
Mongo:  Yah!  (swings axe merrily)
Ged:  (looking around as they enter the gatehouse)  The sky's a lot darker
  now.  Where is the sun?
Rob:  He's right.  Maybe we should turn back before it's too late.
Alindyar:  No sun out...fine by me.
Peldor:  Cowards.  Let Peldor show you the meaning of true courage.
Ged:  Hah.
DM:  You are in a fairly large room, the gatehouse.  The outer door of the
  place has long ago rotted away.  You see three skeletons, who, by the
  marks on the bones, died violent deaths.
Rob:  I say a blessing over the skeletons.
DM:  There is a portcullis, which is closed, and a ladder goes up to another
  floor.
Halbarad:  Peyote and I climb up the ladder.
Peyote:  Dude!
Halbarad:  What do I see up above?
DM:  Two more skeletons, some arrow slits in the walls, several rusted and
  broken weapons, and a rotting roof.
Halbarad:  I check the weapons, to make sure they're not worth keeping.
Mongo:  Meanwhile, I try to lift the gate.
DM:  It's pretty heavy.  You can't do it alone.
Belphanior:  I help him.
DM:  The gate rises slowly as you strain...
Peyote:  I jam my spear under it to keep it from falling.
DM:  (rolls for the spear)  The weapon does not break...for now.
Halbarad:  (climbing back down)  Nothing useful up there.
Mongo:  Look!  (wanders underneath the risen portcullis)  We've reached the
  inside of the castle!
DM:  You see the keep, its door facing you.  To the right (north) is some
  sort of corpse, barely visible on the ground.  To the left (south) is a
  building attached to this side of the outer wall.  There is a scuffed
  area of ground near the building.  Small shops are built into the whole
  southern wall, on this side of course.  Every one of the eight towers
  has a door opening into this court.
Peldor:  I check out that body.
Belphanior:  I go with Peldor.  (they trot off to the northwest)
Mongo:  I go have a look at the messed up ground.
Halbarad:  Let's stay together.  Why don't we check out the towers, one by
  one, working around the perimeter of the castle?
Ged:  Sounds good.  Where should we start?
Peyote:  How about the northeastern tower?  We can move counterclockwise
  from that one.
Alindyar:  Let us begin.

Mongo:  (by himself, about sixty feet from the others, who are walking to
  the north)  Hm.  These marks on the ground seem to show a lot of combat
  in times past.  I look for stuff on the ground.
DM:  You find a few old, broken weapons.
Mongo:  Come to think of it, this does look sort of like the places that
  I've practiced with weapons.  Maybe that building there is a barracks.
  I rejoin the others, for now.  They might need me.  (walks toward the
  main group)

Peldor:  (he and Belphanior approach the strange body)  Is it a man?
DM:  Maybe.  Whatever it is, it seems to be covered with fungus of some
  kind.  The stuff is green and red.
Belphanior:  Hmm.  So it is.  Maybe we'd better leave this one alone.
Peldor:  (rummaging through his backpack, finds an old torch)  I take this
  old torch and throw it at the fungus man.
DM:  A puff of smoke rises, and hovers around the body.
Peldor:  I back away.
Belphanior:  Let's go.  If the others want to help deal with this, fine.
  I don't want to become infested.  (they trundle northeast)

DM:  The door of the northeast tower is before you.
Halbarad:  We could listen at the door...where is that thief?
Ged:  Robbing the dead, looks like.
Halbarad:  Hm.  I try the door, carefully.
DM:  It's locked.
Mongo:  (arriving)  Hey!  Stand aside!  (kicks the door down)  Eyaah!
DM:  Two large skeletons emerge, swinging their bony fists at you.  They
  are at least eight feet tall.
Ged:  Now you've done it, dwarf.
Mongo:  Better me than someone puny, like Peldor!  (charges the nearest
  skeleton)

Skeleton#1:  (swats Mongo, bruising him beneath his plate mail)
Mongo:  Aaaaa!  (chops at his opponent with his axe, chipping some bone
  away)  Shit!  This axe is next to useless!
Halbarad:  (swings his small axe and dagger, hitting skeleton#2 but not
  inflicting any real damage)
Skeleton#2:  (punches at the ranger, but misses as he ducks down low)
Peyote:  (swinging his new, if only temporary, bastard sword, he hits
  Halbarad's opponent)  Size L, right?
DM:  Yep.
Skeleton#2:  (staggered)
Peyote:  What a bonehead!  I must have this sword!
Alindyar:  Methinks there is nothing we can do.  Most of my spells are of
  no use against such foes as these.
Ged:  I can do something!  Boccob, grant me your power in this time of
  evil onslaught!  Undead, begone!  (waves holy symbol at the skeletons)
DM:  The skeletons grin at you as they continue their assault.
Ged:  Damn!
Rob:  Let me try!  (wanders toward one of the skeletons)  I banish you
  back to the netherworld, foul ones!
Skeletons:  (break and tromp off toward the gate of the castle)
Rob:  I don't believe it!
Ged:  Me neither!  You succeeded where I failed!
Rob:  Well, umm...
Peldor:  Naturally.  Boccob is a useless god, now it is proven.
Ged:  Hush, fool.  I didn't see you helping.
Halbarad:  What's in the tower?
DM:  Not much.  A small gem lies on the floor, and the ceiling, along with
  the floor above, has collapsed.  The sky is visible above you.
Mongo:  I get the gem and toss it in the treasure sack.
Halbarad:  Well then.  Let us move on.

  The next two towers were empty, but the one after that held more live
monsters...

DM:  As you approach the middle western tower, a pair of bird-like things
  emerges from the top.  They look like eagles but have antlers, like
  deer.  They divebomb you.
Belphanior:  Great.  Just who are they attacking?
DM:  (checking)  Um...Mongo and Ged.
Belphanior:  The two smallest.  It figures.
Mongo:  I am NOT small!  The last man to call me that is a dead man!
  Remember Krug the barbarian?
Ged:  Divebomb?  Me?  Eep!  I look for cover!
DM:  No cover nearby.
Mongo:  I heft my axe and wait, so I can strike as it attacks me.
DM:  Ok.
Belphanior:  I string my bow.
Halbarad:  And I as well.
Ged:  (looking at his mace)  This won't stop that monster!
Peldor:  Relax, spawn of Boccob.  I'll protect you.  (moves out in front
  of the elf, sword drawn)
Ged:  ...
Alindyar:  These look like nothing I have ever seen in the Underdark.

DM:  The creatures attack.
Peryton#1:  (slashes Mongo with its horns, inflicting heinous wounds)
Peyote:  Heinous!
Mongo:  Fuck!  That hurt!  Take this, reindeer-thing!  (swings the axe
  in a deadly arc, chopping the monster square in the head)
Peryton#1:  (reels and spins about, crashing on the ground nearby)
Mongo:  I go after that thing!  (runs toward it)
Peryton#2:  (decides that Peldor would make a good meal too, tries to
  gore him)
Peldor:  (leaps aside)  Hah!  Not fast enough for Peldor, are you?
  (stabs the thing, making a minor cut)
Peryton#2:  (flies back up into the air)
Peldor:  Hey!  Come back here!  I'm not finished with you!
Halbarad:  (fires an arrow, hits the monster)  Hm.
Belphanior:  (fires a magic arrow, hits the monster)  Come down, little
  birdie!
Alindyar:  Nice shot.  (launches a magic missile at the thing)
Ged:  Whew!
Peldor:  See?  Peldor watches out, even for you.
Halbarad:  (launches a second arrow, misses)  Damn!
Belphanior:  (launches a second magical arrow, hits)  Fuck yeah!

Mongo:  (hacking at the badly injured peryton, dispatches it)  Hah!
  Now I can claim another triumph over then monsters of the world!
Alindyar:  (launches another magic missile at the monster)
Peryton#2:  Urk.  (falls to the ground with a loud and wet splatter)
Belphanior:  I cut its heart out and feast on it!
Everyone Else:  (looking oddly at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  What?  What?
Mongo:  Ouch...
Ged:  (healing the dwarf)
Halbarad:  (putting bow and arrows away)  I check out the tower that
  the monsters were in.
DM:  You find a rotten, burst sack full of electrum pieces, and a
  metal potion bottle.
Peldor:  Aha!  Treasure for Peldor, savior of he who follows Boccob!
  Give it here!
Mongo:  Not so fast, thief.  (puts the potion in his sack)
Peldor:  (eyeing the sack as the electrum is loaded into it)
Mongo:  Say, this sack is getting pretty full.

  On the western wall of the keep was a garden, but a strange, moving
plant occupied it, and the party didn't feel like dealing with it now.
They next moved along the wall, southward, and found the remains of
some stables, then the southwestern tower, empty.  Next was an armorer/
weaponsmith shop, long unused.

DM:  A vat of brackish green water rests in one corner.
Peldor:  I look at it closely.
DM:  It's pretty opaque.  Maybe something's moving under the water...
Peldor:  I step back.
Belphanior:  I kick it over.  Away from the party, that is.
DM:  The vat overturns, spilling water everywhere.  Something slithers
  out of the container, some kind of grayish-black slime.
Mongo:  Yikes!
Belphanior:  Maybe it can eat our weapons.
DM:  It flows toward you.
Everybody:  (looking around)  We run back to the north!
Alindyar:  (running with the rest)  I have an idea.  Get the carcasses
  of the monsters we just fought, and give _those_ to the blob.
Belphanior:  Good idea!  Being one of the fastest, I run for the nearest
  body, then stop.
DM:  Since you stopped, the ooze heads for you now as the party runs on.
Belphanior:  I get behind the bird-deer corpse, so that it's between me
  and the monster.
DM:  (rolling dice)  The ooze starts eating the corpse.
Peyote:  (he and Mongo are dragging the other peryton body)  Here's the
  other!  (they toss it nearby the ooze)
Halbarad:  Let's get back to our search before this thing decides to eat
  us as well.

  They resumed searching the southern wall of the castle.  The center
tower was empty, and to the east of it are other shops, now in ruin - a
bowyer, a wood shop, a leather shop, a stonemason, and a butcher shop.
In the stonemason shop were three unfinished statues, each about three
feet high, but none of them appeared interesting.  The butcher shop had
a nice, shiny cleaver in a leather case, and Mongo grabbed it quickly.
Next was the southeastern tower, which seemed to have collapsed upon
itself some time ago.
  Only the barracks-type building to the south of the gatehouse had
not been explored, so the party headed for it.

DM:  The door is locked.
Peldor:  (checking for traps, and then picking the lock, successfully)
Halbarad:  It's dark in here.
Mongo:  No windows?
Halbarad:  They have been boarded up.  Somebody light a lantern.
Mongo:  I've got one.  (lights his bullseye lantern and shines it around
  the chamber)

  The room was about thirty feet by twenty feet.  An old, collapsed
table and a few chairs rested to one side.  A single door led out,
presumably to another room.

Belphanior:  I check under the table.
DM:  There is a skeleton there.  Its head has been caved in.
Peyote:  Gnarly.
Belphanior:  (to DM)  I look at the underside of the table.
DM:  You see something scrawled in what looks like blood.
Belphanior:  Can I read it?
DM:  Sure.  It says, "Fourth leg..."
Belphanior:  I examine the table legs, tapping for hollow sections.
DM:  Nothing.
Belphanior:  I break them all open.
DM:  Nothing is inside.
Belphanior:  The chair legs, then.
Ged:  What in the world are you doing?
Belphanior:  Quiet.  (all the chair legs fall apart under examination)
DM:  What else?  Heh heh.
Belphanior:  Shit!
Mongo:  I check out that door.
DM:  It's unlocked.
Peldor:  I listen for noise.
DM:  You hear talking, in common, but can't make out the words.
Halbarad:  Let's open the door.
DM:  Beyond, you see three women sitting on a couch.  They all look
  up at you and smile.  All of them are quite attractive.
Woman#1:  Welcome!
Woman#2:  How do you do?  (rises to greet the party.  She is wearing a
  high dress with a low bodice, revealing a number of shapely curves
  beneath.  She continues to smile at the party, in a sultry way.)
Ged:  (muttering)  Whores!  I _hate_ whores!
Woman#3:  It's been so long since anybody came here.
Ged:  (to DM)  I get to the rear of the party, so they can't see what
  I'm doing, and then I cast a detect evil.
DM:  Okay.
Peldor:  (strides forth)  Greetings!  I am Peldor.
Woman#2:  Of course you are.  (embraces the thief)
Peldor:  (looking dazed)
Alindyar:  (to DM)  I start thinking about a color spray spell...
Mongo:  Who are you people?  What are you doing here?  Don't you know
  it's dangerous in these ruins?
Woman#1:  Of course not.  Nothing ever bothers us here.
Peldor:  (staring at the woman)  I'll bet.
Belphanior:  (to Rob)  Hey, boy.  Snap out of it.
Rob:  Huh?  Oh...
Ged:  (to DM)  Well?  How about it?
DM:  You'll have to get closer, to get a clear view.
Ged:  (steps forth suddenly)  Aha!  I KNEW it!  Evil!  Back, harlots!
Peldor:  Aw, come on...
Ged:  See for yourselves!  They glow red with my spell!  Evil, I say!
Woman#1:  We have been found out, dears.
Woman#2:  Such a shame, too.  That one was so cute.
Woman#3:  Some of the others aren't too bad, either.

DM:  The women stalk you, even as they change.  Thick fur sprouts from
  their skin, and sharp pointed teeth drip saliva.  They seem to be in
  a half-human, half-wolf form now.
Alindyar:  By the Dark Lady!  Werewolves...
Rob:  We are doomed!

Mongo:  Werewolf women!  Die!  (slices at werewolf#1 with his axe,
  inflicting a shallow wound)
Werewolf#1:  (claws at Mongo, but his fine armor protects him)
Halbarad:  (chops and slashes at werewolf#2 with his axe and dagger,
  both of which hit; the axe doesn't wound the monster though)
Werewolf#2:  Hee hee.  You'll have to do better than that.  (claws
  Halbarad, wounding him)
Belphanior:  (slices at werewolf#3, but misses)
Werewolf#3:  (slashes Belphanior, wounding him)
Belphanior:  Oh shit!  I could become a werewolf now!
Werewolf#3:  That's right honey.  You can join us, we'll treat you
  right!
Peyote:  Uh...I get that wand I have, and aim it at one of the women,
  err, werewolves, and pronounce the word carved in its side.
DM:  Okay.  Say "Bazooka".
Peyote:  (aiming wand)  Bazooka?
DM:  A fork of lightning blasts out, hitting the werewolf.  You smell
  crisped meat...
Peyote:  A lightning wand!
Werewolf#3:  (dies)
Belphanior:  (also dies, caught in the explosion of energy; he is at
  -8 hp at this time)
Mongo:  (slightly electrified)  Hey!  Watch it with that thing!
Peyote:  Oh shit!  Someone grab that elf!
Ged:  (drags Belphanior back and starts trying to heal him)
Rob:  (starts praying...actually a chant to help the party in battle)
Alindyar:  (launches a color spray at werewolf#1, hitting it square in
  the face)
Werewolf#1:  (stunned for a minute)

Halbarad:  (looks around, stabs werewolf#2 with his enchanted dagger)
Werewolf#1:  (still stunned)
Mongo:  (shocked that he got a good initiative roll, also shocked by
  lightning residue)  Aaaaaa!  (hacks the stunned werewolf twice,
  hitting both times)  Energized dwarf!
Werewolf#1:  (dies of deep wounds)
Mongo:  (to Peyote)  Maybe you should blast me more often...
Werewolf#2:  (bites Halbarad, inflicting scary amounts of damage)
Halbarad:  Oh shit...
Peyote:  (charges werewolf#2, the only living one left, but misses
  with his sword)
Werewolf:  Ha ha.
Peldor:  (slashes the werewolf with his shortsword, cutting deep)
  No woman, human or werewolf, will have Peldor as her plaything!

Halbarad:  (slices werewolf again)
Werewolf:  ...(badly wounded now)
Mongo:  (grumbling about going last again)
Peyote:  (chops the werewolf with an incredible blow, killing it)
Mongo:  What an incredible blow!
Halbarad:  Somebody heal me...
Rob:  Eh?  (heals the ranger of some of his ills)
Mongo:  Treasure!
Peldor:  Yes, where is it?
DM:  You find a pouch containing many small garnets, and a scroll
  case with a parchment.
Halbarad:  What's on the paper?  We read it.
DM:  It's a partial map of some complex of rooms and passages.
Mongo:  Well, we can use that later maybe.
Belphanior:  (in a deep sleep now)
Halbarad:  We're going to have to rest.
Alindyar:  I have an idea again.
Halbarad:  Let's hear it.
Alindyar:  About that "fourth leg..." business...perhaps the phrase is
  in reference to something other than a table leg.
Mongo:  Like what?
Alindyar:  I was thinking the statues that we saw earlier, in the room
  of the stonemason...
Mongo:  Yeah!  I'll go get 'em!  (runs off)
Halbarad:  Somebody should go with him, in case that ooze comes back.
Peyote:  (dashes off after the dwarf)

  Soon, Mongo and Peyote returned with the three small statues that the
party had found before.  Mongo unpacked his chisel and small hammer,
and soon the statues were being broken open.  Sure enough, inside of
the second statue's left leg was a shining ring of bluish metal.

Mongo:  Oh boy!  You're a genius, drow!
Alindyar:  (smiles...he _does_ have an 18 INT after all)
Halbarad:  Good work.

  The party rested in the werewolf room for the night.  The lycanthrope
bodies were tossed outside for the ooze, and a constant guard was kept
in case that wasn't enough.  At Halbarad's urging, one of the windows
was unboarded, providing an alternate escape route if necessary.  The
party decided to tackle the huge keep next.





Next time:  What lurks within the keep...

**********************************************************************
NOTES:  Yep, Belphanior was a thief too, making him a F/M/T.  That's
  why he has been gaining levels so slowly.  He had actually been
  picking up a good amount of extra treasure, but I didn't want to
  spoil his secret right off.  The party still doesn't know, though,
  and won't for some time.  Later on, he and Peldor will do a lot of
  thieving adventures in cities together.
**********************************************************************




previous chapter (#8)                                                                  next chapter (#10)