Lost Chapter #1

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                      *    THE ADVENTURERS    *
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                      *     Lost Tales...     *
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*    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      *
*  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  *
*  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      *
*  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  *
*  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    *
*  way, shape, or form.                                             *
*    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    *
*  right 1991-7 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...         *
*                                                                   *
*                                  Thomas Miller                    *
*                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   *
*  Belphanior, 7th/7th/8th level high elf fighter/mage/thief   (CN) *
*  Date:        4/1/571 C.Y. (Common Year)                          *
*  Time:        midday                                              *
*  Place:       the sewers beneath the Free City of Greyhawk        *
*  Climate:     warm & damp                                         *
*  "Why is any object we don't understand always called a 'thing'?  *
*                - Dr. McCoy, from _Star Trek:  The Motion Picture_ *

                   I.  The Coming of Blackrazor

  The elf cursed under his breath as he plodded through the mire.
The map he had gotten his hands on was probably a fake - making
this entire mission a waste of time.  Still, the possibility of
a lost treasure hoard beneath the Free City was intriguing enough
to merit a day of his time.  Besides, he hadn't encountered any-
thing more dangerous than a hungry rat.  Not yet, anyway.
  Belphanior sliced away some slimy cobwebs with his sword.  The
blade was a good one, giving off a slight magical glow that
eliminated the need for a torch or lantern.  This light was just
enough to see by, but not enough to give away his location to
everything for miles around.  Slime coated the walls, ceiling,
and floor of the sewer-passage, too.  The smell here was almost
intolerable, but the lure of treasure overcame this...for now.
  Four days had passed since his half of the party had reunited
with the others.  Belphanior was sure that his group - Ged, Mongo,
Rillen, and himself - was not only the more powerful of the two,
but also the smarter.  What sort of fools would journey overland
when there were perfectly good rivers and seas to use?  Alindyar:
a bright enough fellow, even for a drow, but far too serious and
regimented.  With any luck, that fine-looking dark elven woman he'd
picked up would change all that.  Peldor:  a good guy, and still
the one whose company Belphanior preferred.  Why the rogue had
thrown in his fortune with the land-faring group, only the gods
knew.  As for Halbarad and Peyote, the elf was quickly growing tired
of their foolishness.  He had inwardly rejoiced when he learned that
they were striking out in a different direction than he and the
others.  Halbarad had his uses, especially in the thick of battle,
but his behavior at other times was irksome.  Peyote was little
more than a clown who could cast spells, and Belphanior wondered
what would happen the day the half-elf found himself in a serious
dilemma, against something like a horde of demons.
  Speaking of serious dilemmas, the elf's keen ears picked up the
sound of something ahead...around that corner, perhaps.  A heavy
splashing sound and a low hissing were surely signs of some vile
menace.  Belphanior quickly ducked into a niche and waited, sword
raised.  His heart beat fast - almost too fast - and blood roared
in his ears.  The elf was no coward, but down here, without trusted
companions at his side, all the rules changed.  If something was to
happen to him, nobody would ever know; if he was badly injured, no
one would come to rescue him.
  Well, then, he thought, let's make sure nothing bad does happen.
The sound grew closer - whatever approached had either sensed him
or gotten lucky and chosen this passage.  Or unlucky, thought
Belphanior as he prepared to strike from his concealed position.
No man or humanoid would be able to survive the strike he was ready
to deliver.
  However, the thing that came splashing by was no human.  A large
alligator rampaged by, its huge paws splashing slime-covered water
everywhere.  The elf wasn't sure if the thing knew he was there or
not, but there was no reason to take chances.  His blade flashed as
it swung out at the big reptile's neck...and bounced off!

Belphanior:  Shit.
alligator:  (whips its powerful tail)  RRROAR!
Belphanior:  (knocked against the wall)  Ungh!

  The elf was injured - not badly, thanks to his stoneskin spell -
but nevertheless, his side ached as he pulled himself to his feet
and backed away, down the passage.  The alligator, for its part,
was having trouble turning around in the relatively narrow pipe,
and Belphanior used this to his advantage.

Belphanior:  Be seeing you!  (he flees in the opposite direction)

  The elf quickly found a side passage, and took it, putting a
goodly distance between himself and the alligator.  When he'd gained
some breathing room, he opened the map and checked his position in
the sewer.  As it turned out, he needed to find a way down; the old
map showed a vertical shaft around here somewhere.  Grumbling to
himself, Belphanior headed back to the main shaft, looking both ways.
Of the alligator, there was no sign.  He re-entered the main tunnel
and headed in the other direction, casting occasional furtive glances
behind his back.
  A short time later, he came upon the vertical shaft.  Slime coated
its walls, making any descent dangerous.  To overcome this, Belphanior
used a grappling hook and rope, attaching the thing firmly and playing
the rope out into the shaft below.  After testing the line and finding
it firmly secured, he lowered himself into the shaft.  Periodic knots
in the rope eased the descent, and he carefully made his way down...
until he reached bottom in a pipe older than the one above it.  This
one was also a good bit narrower, perhaps five feet wide; the elf felt
claustrophobic despite himself.
  Still, the lure of long-lost treasure beckoned, and he entered the
new pipeway, sword held before his hunched form.  The stench of rotted
dung was even worse here, and he paused a moment to wrap a thick cloth
around his nose and mouth.  Continuing along, he consulted the map as
he went, checking for intersections and other passages.  Soon, he was
standing in another cistern, from which a single other passage exited.
  Unfortunately, the passage simply ended at this point, despite the
map's indication of a continuing passage.  The elf checked the walls
and floor, quickly concluding that the map was simply wrong.  Making
a mental note to kill the man who sold him the thing, Belphanior gazed
ahead, down the pipeway that wasn't supposed to exist.  Hesitating for
only a moment, he strolled onward as if he owned the place.  The new
pipe was larger than the previous, cramped one.  He moved cautiously
down its wet, slimy length, alert for any signs of danger.
  A soft, almost inaudible slurping sound came from the darkness
ahead.  His enchanted blade's light indistinctly revealed a greenish
glob, which was oozing toward him at an alarming rate!

Belphanior:  Fuck!  (he swings his sword mightily)
goo-thing:  (hit by the steel, its body simply reforms around the
Belphanior:  (tugs at his sword, unable to free it)  Damn you...
  (backing up, he draws his other enchanted sword, and redoubles his
  efforts, taking care not to imbed the second blade as he did the
goo-thing:  Blip!  (apparently unharmed, it oozes onward)
Belphanior:  Aie!

  The elf recoiled then, noticing that both of his swords were being
dissolved!  Already, after only a few moments in the slime, the first
weapon's steel was pitted and bubbling.  Its light grew fainter as it
was consumed; Belphanior could also see that the weapon in his hand
was smoking and pitted.  He tossed this aside, produced a torch, and
backed up, struggling to get the thing lit.

Belphanior:  (his hands shaking, he ignites the torch with his tinder-
  box, bathing the passage in flickering light)

  The bizarre foe was now revealed to be a good four feet across;
its mass probably exceeded the elf's own.  Still eating the sword,
this monster rolled toward Belphanior, making sucking sounds as its
body moved across the wet pipe's stone floor.

Belphanior:  So you can't eat stone...(he hurls a loose brick at the
goo-thing:  Bloop!  (continues onward, undaunted)
Belphanior:  Maybe fire, then...?  (he waves his torch at the oncoming
goo-thing:  Bleep!  (it recoils from the heat, but re-shapes its body
  to span the entire passage, and advances, more slowly now, sending
  exploratory tendrils along various edges of the passageway)
Belphanior:  Fuck this!  (he jabs his torch into a central point of
  the slime's body)
goo-thing:  Blup!  (it burns, in that single spot, with a loud hissing
  sound - but keeps coming)
Belphanior:  (grabs the nearly-extinguished torch back, and begins
  spellcasting)  Okay...if you don't like fire...

  He continued to retreat while still spellcasting, and shortly, he
dropped the torch altogether and waved glowing hands in the odd foe's

Belphanior:  Burn, damn you...burn!  (he releases the energy of his
  Burning Hands spell, covering the slime in a sheet of searing flame)

  There was a horrible stench, and thick, acrid smoke filled the whole
passage.  Belphanior saw that the slime had exploded and dried out,
its edges charred black, unmoving.  Gingerly, he stepped toward it,
then leaped, landing on the far side of the burnt slime.

Belphanior:  (frowns, wondering if the thing is dead and what uses he
  might derive from its remains)  Maybe later...on the way out.  (he
  continues down the passage)

  The elf noticed that his prized gauntlets were smoking, just like
his swords had.  A film of green goo covered most of them, and he
tore at the straps as the caustic stuff ate away at the metal.  The
ruined gauntlets finally came off; cursing, he hurled them in the
direction of the (hopefully) slain slime-thing.  He reasoned that
the foe had somehow leaked its bodily slime onto the wrist-bands,
during the swordplay.  Another magical item lost - this was becoming
intolerable.  Yes, he thought, that damned liar who'd sold him the
map would pay, and pay dearly.
  After several twists and turns of the pipe, Belphanior found a new
shaft, vertical and crusted with slime.  Since he'd left his grappling
hook and rope at the previous such shaft, he had to descend this one
the hard way.  Another mistake to remember for the future, he thought
as he slowly, meticulously lowered himself down the pipe, foot by foot.
The shaft emptied into an oddly-shaped cistern.  No, no cistern, this,
but rather a chamber of some kind.  In fact, it almost looked like a
crypt.  Checking the closed, arched door in the room's far end, the
cautious elf quickly found two traps.  Magical glyphs of some type
covered the door itself, while a rusty needle waited behind the knob.
Belphanior saw all of this as he lit a second torch; setting it down
carefully, he went to work on the traps.
  It took him a while, but he was able to bypass both of these wards
using certain enchantments; presently, the door creaked open.  Beyond
was a musty-smelling chamber with a vaulted ceiling.  Its musty smell
instantly told him that whatever this place was, it wasn't part of
the sewer; he closed the door quickly, thankful to breathe the old,
dry air rather than the sewer gas.  Strange...the door didn't look
like _that_ tight of a fit.
  The elf's thoughts were interrupted by a croaking sound from the
chamber's center.  Whirling, the elf instinctively drew his only
remaining weapon of significance:  a morningstar.  The figure that
rose from the coffin before him, however, didn't look like the sort
of creature that would be harmed by weapons not enchanted.  Pale
and ghostly in the light of his torch, the thing was translucent
and almost shimmered in the dim light.  It wore fine, rich garments,
though these were tattered and rotted with age.
  The thing held a thin, dark sword in one hand, and there was no
mistaking its intent as it shambled toward him.  Belphanior, however,
had intents of his own.  Catching the sword's first swing with his
morningstar, the elf wrenched with all his might, disarming both
himself and the other as the interlocked weapons crashed into one
wall.  The elf lost his torch as well, during the brief struggle;
it rolled to one side, stopping against a wall.

spectre:  Aaaaa...(it glides toward Belphanior)
Belphanior:  Shit!  (he leaps aside, but the undead's hand brushes
  his arm, and a chilling numbness instantly spreads through his
  body, causing him to stumble and fall, sliding across the deathly-
  cold floor)
spectre:  (moves toward the fallen elf)  Ooooooo...
Belphanior:  (trying to get out of harm's way by rolling aside, he
  miraculously grabs his torch and shoves it in the creature's face)
spectre:  (covers its eyes)  Aaaaaa...
Belphanior:  (scrambles across the floor, toward the weapons, but
  realizes he won't make it, and rolls over, fumbling with a wand
spectre:  (descends on the elf)  Ooooooo...
Belphanior:  Eyagh!  Back!  (he blasts the spectre point-blank with
  a bolt of lightning)

  The foe was stunned, even staggered; the lightning bolt ricocheted
around the room, blasting black craters into the walls.  It also set
the coffin aflame.

spectre:  (spots this)  Aaaaaaa...
Belphanior:  (spellcasting in the confusion, he drops a cloud of acid
  over the translucent creature)
spectre:  (hissing and clawing at its body, it falls to its knees,
  howling)  Ooooo...
Belphanior:  (watches in fascination as the thing melts away)  I'll...
  I'll be damned!  I killed him!

  Standing up, the elf brushed himself off and scanned the room for
the treasure he was sure must wait there.  However, there was nothing!
Nothing in the coffin...no hidden trapdoors or panels or chests.  Not
a damned thing!

Belphanior:  (hesitates as his head buzzes)  Huh?

  His gaze swiveled around the room, finally coming to rest on the
spectre's sword, still laying against the wall, half-imbedded in his
morningstar.  The latter weapon was ruined, but he forgot about it,
for the other one interested him more.  The blade was black, black
as the darkest moonless night; he thought he could see stars within
its depths as he picked it up.  Waving the weapon back and forth
experimentally, he found that it had fine balance.  It seemed to fit
his hand perfectly...

Belphanior:  Oh, why the hell not?  (he shrugs, and slides the blade
  into his old sword's sheath...where it fits perfectly)

  With that, the elf staggered out of the crypt.  He still felt weak
and more than a little dizzy, but mixed with this weariness was a
strange exhilaration - perhaps the joy of being alive after a deadly
battle.  He walked back to the vertical shaft and began the task of
ascending it.  In his dazed state, he failed to notice the small,
greenish egg-like object that rested, concealed by thick cobwebs, in
a niche of the chamber below.

  More than an hour later, Belphanior had made it back to the upper
levels of the sewers.  He didn't even need the map to get back now -
he was that close.  Suddenly, though, two hulking, misshapen things
blocked his path.  They resembled ogres, but seemed melted and half-
formed; no doubt they were the result of sewer gas or some other
unique phenomenon found down here.

ogre-thing#1:  Heh, heh...
ogre-thing#2:  Supper!
ogre-thing#1:  Aaar!  (it swings a huge, malformed fist at the elf)
Belphanior:  (bashed in the shoulder, he rolls with the blow but is
  still in great pain)  Argh!
ogre-thing#2:  Gotcha now...
Belphanior:  I don't think so.  (lunging, he draws his new sword and
  sinks its point into the nearest monster's neck)
ogre-thing#1:  (recoils, greenish-black blood spewing from the mortal
  wound)  Ghaaak!

  A strange thing happened then, as the monster died:  a jolt of raw,
powerful energy shot through the dark sword and into Belphanior.  It
was somewhat painful, but at the same time, it was invigorating.  He
felt rested and refreshed, and stood straight as the second ogreish
thing charged him.  His ribs and shoulder didn't ache any more, as he
leaped aside and slashed at the monster's leg.  The thing fell hard,
hamstrung, and in a flash, the elf was atop it, slicing at its head.
As the second of the foes perished, an even stronger jolt of energy
shot through the elf's arm.  He had to lean on a slimy wall to keep
from falling in the muck.
  When the surge of power - there was no other way to describe it -
had passed, Belphanior realized that all of his wounds had healed.
Furthermore, he felt like he had just woken up after a week's rest,
and was ready to take on the world.

Belphanior:  (staring in awe at the black metal blade)  What...what
  _are_ you?

  As Belphanior wiped at the bloody sword with his cloak, two thin
and finely carved runes near the hilt caught a bit of the blood,
making them noticeable for the first time.

Belphanior:  Black...(he puzzles over the ancient language in the
  dim light)  Razor?  Blackrazor.

  Sheathing the dark blade, Belphanior made his way upward, toward
the nearest sewer exit, smiling.

  Several days later, a certain fellow - known among the lowlife of
Greyhawk as an unreliable informant - was found dead in an alley by
the city watch.  His purse and boots were missing, and try as they
might, city officials were unable to find any clues or motives in
this slaying, other than simple robbery.

next:      When Peldor met Tanya
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     This tale took place within episode 069.  Or did it?   :)
  Thanks to Sean Donohue for the original idea.

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