Lost Chapter #21

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                                  *
                                *   *
                              *       *
                            *           *
                          *               *
                        *                   *
                      *    THE ADVENTURERS    *
                    *                           *
                      *     Lost Tales...     *
                        *                   *
                          *               *
                            *           *
                              *       *
                                *   *
                                  *

*********************************************************************
*    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 1991-8 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   *
*********************************************************************
*  Dexitheseus      human wizard                               (NG) *
*  Drexel           human paladin                              (LG) *
*    Limbor         high elven priest/wizard                   (LG) *
*  Eyer             wood elven fighter/acrobat                 (NG) *
*  Filadril         grey elven wizard                           (N) *
*  Kup Swiftfoot    halfling thief                              (N) *
*    Mazzichelli    human warrior                               (N) *
*  Marcus           human warrior                              (NG) *
*  Oakly Greenleaf  human druid                                 (N) *
*  Relmar           human high priest of Pelor                 (NG) *
*  Tarl             human barbarian warrior                    (CN) *
*  Yod Ironbeard    dwarven warrior                            (LN) *
*     Spikey        halfling warrior                           (LN) *
*     Sparkey       halfling warrior (twin brother of Spikey)  (LN) *
*********************************************************************
*  Date:        10/13/566 C.Y. (Common Year)                        *
*  Time:        midday                                              *
*  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     *
*  Climate:     warm                                                *
*********************************************************************
*  "There are many moments for ruthless action.  What is often      *
*   called ruthless...may in many circumstances be clarity seeing   *
*   clearly what is to be done and doing it...directly...           *
*   quickly...awake...looking at it."                               *
*                                         - from _Apocalypse Now_   *
*********************************************************************





                       XXI.  Feuerhauch





  The party marched down the rough, winding tunnel in single file.
The stone was warm to the touch, no surprise really considering
the inhabitant of the place they were headed.  Eyer was on point,
his keen senses and magical blade leading the way.  Behind the elf
marched Kup's faithful henchman, the warrior Mazzichelli, whose
dark locks curled about his head and shoulders.  Drexel's massive
frame nearly blocked the tunnel behind the henchman; the paladin's
armor was well-oiled, yet it still made too much noise - which was
why the wizard Filadril had cast a spell of silence upon a small
rock and then tied the stone to Drexel's shoulder-greave.  After
Drexel walked his own henchman, the thin elf Limbor, his wooden
staff held at the ready.  The others followed in short order:  the
hulking barbarian Tarl, the old wizard Dexitheseus, the warrior
Marcus, the priest Relmar, the druid Oakly, the mighty dwarf Yod,
and his two henchmen, the twin halflings Spikey and Sparkey.  Kup
Swiftfoot acted as rearguard.  The eager halfling had complained
about being put in this role, but the hard truth was that the
party needed a warrior in the lead, not a thief.
  These adventurers were professionals, not apt to make mistakes
like many others might have.  With a dragon such as Feuerhauch,
even the smallest mistake could very well be fatal.  They'd spent
hours studying the old maps (maps obtained at great cost) of the
complex that surrounded the wyrm's lair.  The mountain had been
the home of a large orcish tribe before the dragon came, and many
of the tunnels and rooms were still intact.  They knew that they
had to use these if they planned to sneak up on the dragon; they'd
taken a look at various caverns, the shape of the complex, and so
forth in order to make a best guess as to where the great wyrm
would make its lair.
  They'd procured special oils and salves, to protect themselves
and their equipment from the dragon's fiery breath, and to heal
such damage - if they lived through the attack.  They had extra
food and water, clean weapons, and a variety of equipment.  They
were well-rested, despite the grueling march up the mountain and
the long search for a way into its tunnels.  And now, after all of
this, they were still pensive, nervous...and with good reason.
  Of all the dragons that ever lived, Feuerhauch was among the
oldest and most dangerous.  Utterly cruel, ruthless, and evil,
the wyrm had lived for many centuries and slain thousands.  Its
vile deeds were legendary.  No adventurers had ever been able to
slay it, and many had tried.  Almost a decade ago, the dragon had
come here, to Thunderdelve Mountain, where an orcish horde lived
in the ruins of a dwarven city.  Shortly after his arrival, the
mighty Feuerhauch was the mountain's sole inhabitant, save for the
few wild animals that didn't have the sense to depart its surface.
  Those, and the sentient beings who didn't have the sense to
stay away.

Eyer:  (signals that he's nearing the end of the tunnel)
Marcus:  (gives him a thumbs-up)

  Ahead, the passageway made one final curve, then opened into
a vast cavern.  This was expected, since they'd studied the old,
crumbling maps of Thunderdelve.  The elf walked out into the
cavern, fully noting its colossal size:  it spanned many hundreds
of feet, and was equally as high.  Roughly conical in shape, it
tapered toward its ceiling, ending far above in a small pinprick
of light that probably led to the sky above.
  The rock of the cavern's walls and dome was dark, almost black,
and well-worn.  The sunlight coming in from above reflected from
this surface in an odd way, bathing most of the cavern in a dim
glow, which reflected off of its contents.  And what contents they
were!  Treasure, heaps and heaps of it, littered most of the floor
here.  Coins, gemstones, necklaces, bracelets, rings, crowns, bars
and ingots of raw gold and silver...swords, shields, helms, entire
suits of armor, axes, hammers, spears, arrows...paintings, vases,
sculptures, tapestries, plush couches...rare spices, bales of silk,
kingly robes...it was all here.

Eyer:  (stares, eyes wide)
Kup:  (whispering)  The mother lode...
Dexitheseus:  Caution, small one.  Where a hoard waits, often its
  guardian waits not far behind.  (he rubs his long, thin white
  beard)
Tarl:  (glances around the cavern, scowling)
Yod:  (tightens his grip on his battleaxe)
Eyer:  (signals the others to stop)  Shh!  I hear something.

  Indeed, from past experience they all knew the elf's ears to be
unnaturally keen.  Everyone came to a stop as Eyer concentrated,
eyes closed.

Eyer:  Breathing...I hear breathing.
Kup:  (chimes in)  Heavy breathing, too...

  They suddenly realized that they could all hear it.  There was
no doubt, now:  something awfully big was in the vast cavern with
them!

Mazzichelli:  Say, doesn't that sound like a huge breath of air...?
Drexel:  (scans the chamber, his holy sword glowing, and removes
  his silence-stone, casting it aside, where it bounces to a stop
  soundlessly)  The beast is near-
Marcus:  Everyone fan out - now!

  As they scattered, there was a terrible sound, as if the very air
itself was on fire.  Small wisps of smoke and flame were visible,
high above them.

Eyer:  Move, move, move!
Yod:  Oh hell...

  They were still scattering when the huge gout of flame came down
from above.  It was volcanic, melting anything in its path, setting
nearby things and people ablaze.  Despite the special oils they had
protected themselves with, some of the adventurers couldn't stand
the heat...

Limbor:  (falls, his robes aflame)
Mazzichelli:  (also falls, badly burned)  Aie!
Spikey:  (running around, his tiny cloak on fire)  Aaa!  Help!
Sparkey:  (chasing Spikey, he bats at his brother's blazing cloak)
  Hey, slow down!
Tarl:  (singed, he stares at the metallic puddle that used to be his
  magical frost brand sword)  Grrr...
Yod:  (singed but angry, he brandishes his battleaxe)  Bring it on!
Relmar:  (slightly burnt but thinking quickly, he opens a decanter
  and douses Limbor's flaming body with a magically-powered gout of
  water)  Well, that's that.  (he begins praying to Pelor)
Filadril:  (floating in the air, he works a spell)
Oakly:  (ignoring his clothes and beard, which are on fire in spots,
  he draws his magical scimitar and gnashes his teeth)  Obad-hai,
  give me strength!
Marcus:  (rolls out from behind a golden chest, sword ready)  To
  battle, companions!
Kup:  (already invisible and inaudible somewhere)
Eyer:  (having leapt beneath a thick oaken desk, he has managed to
  evade harm entirely)  Whew.

  Their foe was now in sight, its invisibility gone after the fiery
breath weapon attack:  the largest, reddest red dragon they had
ever seen.  Titanic in size, it raged over them, rearing up on its
hind legs.

Feuerhauch:  (leers at them, flame dripping from its cavernous maw)
  GREETINGS, MORTAL WORMS!
Drexel:  (burned, but not badly, he glares at Limbor's fallen and
  smoldering form)  You'll pay for that, monster!  (he charges, his
  holy sword glowing)

  It was all action after that.  The paladin's charge was met with
one swipe of a huge foreleg, knocking Drexel back into a pile of
coins, his armor dented.  However, even as the paladin fell, there
were others leaping to the attack, from all sides...

Tarl:  (casts a magical spear, hitting the dragon in the stomach)
  Ho!  A mighty blow!
Feuerhauch:  UNGH!
Marcus:  (leaps into the fray, slashing at the dragon's neck)  Die,
  foul beast!
Yod:  (his battleaxe held high overhead, he takes aim, then chops
  with all his might)  Bite deeply, Skullsplitter!
Feuerhauch:  (one of its little toes is severed)  AAARGH!
Eyer:  (standing atop a heap of treasure, he fires two enchanted
  arrows at the dragon)
Feuerhauch:  (hit in the back)  EH?

  The wyrm had had enough, and it thrashed suddenly, its wings,
legs, and tail seemingly everywhere at once.

Tarl:  (leaps back as a huge claw misses him by a few feet)  Ha!
Marcus:  (swatted aside, he falls with several gashes across his
  armor)  Argh!
Yod:  (kicked by a claw, he sails back into an antique cabinet,
  shattering it)  Ungh!
Eyer:  (knocked from his perch by a sweeping tail)  Whoaaaa...

  Spikey and Sparkey weren't in the fray yet - they had just gotten
Spikey's burning clothes under control - but the spellcasters had
a second line of attack ready, and they unleashed it now.

Relmar:  (chanting, he points at the rock beneath one of the
  dragon's huge feet, transforming the rock into watery mud)
Feuerhauch:  (sinks in to its ankle, losing its balance)  GRRRRR?
Relmar:  Blessed be Pelor.
Dexitheseus:  (launches a mighty cone of frost and snow at the
  dragon)  Chew on that, you old coot.
Feuerhauch:  (recoils from the painful blast)  AARGH!
Filadril:  (hovering high in the air, he launches a lightning bolt
  at the wyrm)  Perhaps this will settle the thing down...
Feuerhauch:  (roars in pain and rage as the electricity racks its
  scaled body, melting some of the metallic treasure beneath the
  behemoth)  GRAARGH!
Oakly:  (dashes forth, pointing at the dragon with his scimitar)

  The weapon hummed, emitting a narrower but equally-powerful
bolt of lightning which blasted the dragon right in the face!
For one single, hopeful moment, Feuerhauch teetered, as if it
might fall down.

Feuerhauch:  (rears up, pulling its foot from the mire and beating
  its wings mightily)  AWAY!

  The powerful winds caused by this action blew the adventurers
away as if they were paper dolls.  The wyrm used the time thus
gained in wise fashion...

Feuerhauch:  (casts a spell, sheathing himself in a minor globe of
  invulnerability)  HA.
Relmar:  What has the wyrm done?
Filadril:  Most likely a defensive spell of some sort.
Tarl:  Bah.  (grabbing a handy two-handed sword from the treasure
  all around him, he leaps back into the fray, howling like a wild
  madman, berserk)

  The huge barbarian's blade bit deep, slicing a gash in the
dragon's side.  Drexel's holy sword struck a moment later, in
a spot close to the first wound; the blade pained Feuerhauch
deeply, such was its power.  As the monster bellowed and
writhed, Yod came at it as well, his axe slicing a deep gash
in one shoulder.
  However, Feuerhauch had had enough.

Feuerhauch:  (rears its head back, then breathes fire again)  TASTE
  MY FLAMES, INSECTS!

  This time, the adventurers were not so lucky.  Drexel caught
the blast head-on, and was blown back, scorched and blackened by
the inferno, his armor melted and glowing.

Drexel:  (lies there, unmoving, his roasted carcass smoking)

  Yod, too, took the brunt of the blast; the only thing that
saved him from a similar fate was his large shield, which kept
most of the flame from hitting his body.

Yod:  (stands, the remnants of the shield falling off of the two
  straps on his arm)  Damn.

  Spikey and Sparkey, who had been running to their liege's aid,
survived the blast, but were badly burned and out cold, out of
action before they could even launch a single attack.

Marcus:  That's enough, beast!  (rising from the floor thanks to
  his magical boots, he stabs the dragon in the neck)
Feuerhauch:  AARGH!  (it whirls, slapping the warrior with one
  clawed paw)
Marcus:  (goes spinning away, head-over-heels, crashing into a
  pile of copper coins)  Ungh!  (he gets to his feet, undaunted)
Filadril:  No more!  (he unleashes his next spell, a volley of
  magic missiles)
Feuerhauch:  (laughs as the missiles fizzle before striking him)
Filadril:  Globe of invulnerability, eh?  (to Relmar)  Beware-
Relmar:  Too late.  (his spiritual hammer swings, bouncing away
  before it can strike the dragon)
Feuerhauch:  HAH, HAH.  PUNY FOOLS!  (it tears at the charging
  Tarl and Marcus with its claws)
Tarl:  (nearly gutted by the blow, he flies back, landing hard
  and starting a pool of blood)  Argh...
Marcus:  (saved by his magical chain mail, he is knocked back yet
  again)  Unf!  (he sits up, wiping the blood from his nose)
Relmar:  (rushes to Tarl's side)
Feuerhauch:  YOU FOOLS CANNOT DEFEAT ME - WHY DO YOU STILL TRY?
Kup:  (having somehow gotten beneath the dragon, he stabs upward,
  sinking his shortsword and longtooth dagger right into the
  dragon's soft underbelly)  We gotta try.  We don't know any
  better.  (still invisible and inaudible - such is the power of
  his magical ring - he darts away somewhere)
Feuerhauch:  (rears up in pain again)  AAAARGH!  YOU'LL DIE FOR
  THAT, INVISIBLE ONE!  (it begins stomping the ground, shaking
  the entire cavern)
Yod:  (to Eyer)  Did Kup make it out from under that beast?
Eyer:  No idea.  Cover me, would you?
Yod:  Sure.  (he charges in again, axe biting deep into one of
  the dragon's legs)  Bite deeply, Skullsplitter!
Feuerhauch:  GRAARGH!
Eyer:  (while the wyrm is distracted, he dashes forward, somer-
  saulting onto its back, then dashes up its dorsal fins)
Feuerhauch:  WHAT?!?
Eyer:  (jumps again, trying for a stab to the beast's head)

  However, the dragon was moving too fast, and the elf lost his
grip, instead sliding down the dragon's side.

Eyer:  (lands on the cavern floor)  Oof!
Feuerhauch:  (looming over the elf)  NOW YOU DIE!
Dexitheseus:  I beg to differ.  (he drops an ice storm upon the
  wyrm, sending frost and snow whirling all about the cavern)
Feuerhauch:  (howls in pain and fury)  AAAARGH!  (it writhes
  about, knocking treasure everywhere and shaking the floor)
  AAAAAAARGH!
Eyer:  (rolls out from the dragon's reach)

  The dragon was gravely wounded now, but it wasn't done yet.
It backed up several steps (which meant about a hundred feet) and
reared its head again, ready to breathe.

Filadril:  (suddenly multiplies by ten or so, all of them flying
  around the dragon's head at eye level, taunting and waving their
  hands)  Hah, hah, hah!
Feuerhauch:  (furious)  HOW DARE YOU?!?  (it bats at the illusory
  wizards)

  The delay was admittedly short, but it served its purpose as it
bought the others time.  Oakly unleashed a swarm of insects, which
flew right into the dragon's open maw.  Marcus and Yod attacked
its body from two flanks, while Relmar tended to the wounded...

Relmar:  (completes a powerful healing spell on Tarl)  Rise again,
  friend Tarl.
Tarl:  Aah.  (he stands)  My thanks, priest.  (he looks around,
  then charges at the monster again, sword high)  Battle!
Feuerhauch:  (whirls, pointing a talon at the barbarian)  PERISH,
  DOLT!  (a stream of flame issues from its paw, toward the victim)

  An amazing thing happened then:  as the flames neared the huge
barbarian, they choked...sputtered...and died!

Feuerhauch:  (incredulous)  WHAT?!?
Tarl:  (equally incredulous)  What?!?  (he regards the big sword
  he picked up earlier, which is glowing bright green)  Sorcery!

  Above, Filadril had completed a spell of dispelling, and the wyrm
suddenly found its minor globe of invulnerability gone.  This came
just in time for Dexitheseus' ray of cold - a variant of one of
Otiluke's spells - to strike the dragon in one of its many open
wounds.

Feuerhauch:  (flagellates in pain, the movement threatening to
  collapse the entire cavern)  YEAAARGH!
Marcus:  Now!  Get him!

  Yod ran in, dodging stomping feet to deliver a deep blow to
the beast's groin with his battleaxe.  Eyer backstabbed the wyrm,
scoring a short but deep wound near its tail.  Marcus severed one
of its toes.  Relmar pounded it in the head with his spiritual
hammer.  Feuerhauch reeled...teetered...and fell, dazed!

Marcus:  Yes!  Press the attack, or we are undone!
Yod:  I'm with you!  (he charges again, as do the other warriors)
Feuerhauch:  (lashes out, knocking Eyer and Tarl back with bone-
  breaking force)
Eyer:  (rolls out the blow, muchly bruised)  Ungh.
Tarl:  (falls, half-conscious, several ribs broken)  Argh...
Kup:  (behind the dragon, he narrowly escapes being crushed, and
  still gets knocked off his feet by the impact, as do all of the
  others)  Huh.  (he stands, then runs in, climbing the dragon's
  scaled hide with quick, deft footfalls, aided by his magical
  boots of speed)

  The halfling darted up the dragon's foreleg, shoulder, and neck
before leaping onto its head, sinking both blades into the top of
Feuerhauch's skull.  Almost at the same moment (but slightly after-
ward, Kup would claim later) Yod's axe sunk to the handle into the
flesh and bone between the dragon's eyes.

Feuerhauch:  (convulses one last time - knocking both Kup and Yod
  away violently - and is still)
Kup:  Hah!
Yod:  (staggers to his feet, raising one bloody fist)  We did it!
  Thunderdelve is the dragon's no more!
Marcus:  (claps him on the back)  Your quest is fulfilled.

  The others got to their feet - if they were able - and spells
and potions were employed to slow bleeding and mend bones.  Those
who were dead were tended to, in the hope that they could be
revived later.  The survivors looked around the vast cavern,
taking in the sight of the slain dragon as well as the treasure
hoard that, despite the battle, was still ungodly.

Kup:  There's only one question now...what are we going to do with
  all this treasure?





next:      a slice of Cynder's past
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     This is the battle more or less as I remember it being
  played out in 1984.  Some of the details were improvised but
  make no mistake:  it was the toughest challenge these players
  had ever faced...despite the fact that it was a mere 1st edition
  huge ancient red dragon.  If their strategies don't make much
  sense, realize that they were doing the best they could.  This
  one is less of a story and more of a recollection.
    You should know most of these adventurers by now, though a few
  haven't been seen before:  Dexitheseus, Filadril, Limbor.  Eyer
  didn't have Baltek the archer, and Kup had Mazzichelli the
  warrior.  Oakly wasn't the Great Druid, but just a roaming druid.
  Things were different, but in many ways, they were the same.
    Here's a "where are they now?" section, for your reading
  pleasure; these are based on my memories of what these guys'
  players had in mind for them, taking into account the characters'
  previous appearances in my stories:

  Dexitheseus:  current whereabouts unknown
  Drexel:  out and about in his homeland of Furyondy, doing good
    deeds for king Belvor IV
  Eyer:  current whereabouts unknown, but stays in touch with Kup;
    accompanied by his henchman, the elven archer Baltek
  Filadril:  current whereabouts unknown
  Kup Swiftfoot:  mayor of his village in the Flinty Hills, semi-
    retired
  Limbor:  with Drexel
  Marcus:  commander of Greyspire
  Mazzichelli:  current whereabouts unknown
  Oakly Greenleaf:  currently the Great Druid of Obad-Hai
  Relmar:  runs his temple of Pelor, which is the center of a large
    township in the lands near Greyhawk
  Spikey & Sparkey:  with Yod
  Tarl:  in the icy northeastern lands, roaming freely as he wishes
  Yod Ironbeard:  ruler of Thunderdelve and king of many dwarves

    My original plan was to write up these peoples' adventures too,
  but that would entail at least 400 episodes similar to the
  Adventurers, and I don't have the time (also there are a lot of
  similarities between these old characters and the way I write up
  the Adventurers - I think in a sense, Yod lives on in Mongo, and
  Kup in Bosco, and so on).

    Well, I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.
*********************************************************************




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