Lost Chapter #11

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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   *
*  Rob          10th level human priest                        (LG) *
*  Date:        7/16/571 C.Y. (Common Year)                         *
*  Time:        late morning                                        *
*  Place:       the Underdark                                       *
*  Climate:     chilly                                              *
*  "You're crazy!"                                                  *
*  "Oh, I'm much more than that."            - from _The Howling_   *

                     XI.  Birds of a Feather...

  Absentminded as he was, Rob didn't even see the thing coming.  Of
course, it _was_ invisible.  One moment, the priest was standing in
the huge corridor's center, amidst the wind and whipping dust.  The
next moment, he was being borne away with amazing speed, his friends
rapidly becoming specks in the distance.  Whatever had grabbed ahold
of him, it was big and powerful as well as invisible; he was locked
in the grip of some huge claw, a grip he couldn't break.

Rob:  (struggling against the unyielding claw that holds him)  Let
  me go!

  It didn't occur to Rob that if the thing let him go, he'd plummet
to his death and become a bloody smear on the walls of the cavernous
passage.  All he could think about was the fact that he'd been
priest-napped, and the probability that when his captor got where
it was going, it would be lunchtime.
  Despite the rushing air that swept by his face, Rob became dizzy
and nauseous from the sheer speed with which he was traveling.  It
was impossible to track time or distance, and he blacked out at
some points.  Finally, an indeterminate time later, the blur of
motion slowed as his captor landed within a large side cavern.  Its
claw loosened, and Rob was free to walk around.

Rob:  (staggers about in circles, then trips and falls)  Unf.
invisible captor:  (grunts)

  Whatever the thing was, it was big; its breathing echoed deeply
in the underground chamber, drowning out all other noises.  Though
he couldn't see it, Rob had a pretty good idea what the creature

Rob:  (takes a step forward)  Show yourself!
invisible captor:  (coughs, shaking the ground...and then begins
  to fade into view)

  Rob used a quick spell to shed some light on the situation, and
was almost sorry he did - for his captor was a gigantic dragon!
Its scales were a deep green hue, and reflected the magical light
with an emerald gleam.  The wyrm was well over a hundred feet in
length, and its head scraped the ceiling of even this huge area,
sending small rocks bouncing on the floor.  A spiny fin, darker in
color than the rest of its body, ran the length of the lizard's
back, cresting atop its head.

green dragon:  (regards the man)
Rob:  (regards the dragon)  Err...what do-
green dragon:  I AM BAYTOR!
Rob:  (nearly deafened)  Aie!
Baytor:  (moves its head in close, showing Rob a close-up of its
  many sharp teeth as it opens its mouth)
Rob:  (babbling in fear)  This is it...I'm about to die...aaa...
Baytor:  (right before it chomps Rob, it stops, sniffing him)
Rob:  (opens his eyes)
Baytor:  (wrinkles its nose and backs away)  BLK.
Rob:  Huh?
Baytor:  (picks up a boulder and begins chewing on it)
Rob:  (frowns)  Do you speak Common?
Baytor:  (turns its attention back to Rob, spitting out chunks of
  rock)  I AM BAYTOR.
Rob:  Ow...okay, maybe not.
Baytor:  (breaks the boulder in half)
Rob:  (talking to himself)  Something's wrong with you, my friend.
Baytor:  (yawns, rolling over onto its back)
Rob:  (hustles to get out of the way and avoid being crushed)  Hey!
Baytor:  (turns to regard the priest once more)  BAYTOR?
Rob:  Yeah, I guess you are, at that.
Baytor:  (seemingly content)  BAYTOR.  (it closes its eyes)
Rob:  (wanders over to the intersection of this cavern and the main
  passage, checking to see if anyone else is around)

  All he found were bones, gouges in the rock, and signs of carnage.
Whatever Baytor's problem was, there was no denying that it had eaten
well here.

Rob:  Hmm.  (he turns around, eyeing the sleeping dragon)
Baytor:  (burps, sending small plumes of green gas forth from its
Rob:  Death by burping...not for me.  (he checks the main passageway

  While the priest was admittedly intrigued by the dragon and its
peculiar condition, he had no desire to become a meal at some later
time.  On the other hand, he wasn't sure which way led back to his
adventuring companions, or how far it was...or what unknown and
terrible dangers lurked in-between.

Rob:  (sighs)  Why me, O Mighty Trithereon?

  After sitting around despondently for a short while, Rob realized
that he was hungry.  A quick and simple spell produced a large and
plentiful meal, which he proceeded to dig into.  However...

Baytor:  (opens one eye, and begins sniffing the air)
Rob:  Uh-oh.
Baytor:  (cranes its neck around, bringing its head over and then
  down to Rob's level)  Rrr.

  The dragon seemed fixated with a cherry pie that made up part of
the priest's feast, so he warily pushed the pie over toward the
wyrm's snout.

Baytor:  (snaps up the pie in a single, tiny bite)  BAYTOR!
Rob:  Uh...I don't have any more pies, Baytor.
Baytor:  Grrrrrr...(it sniffs at the other food, then gets up and
  lumbers out into the main passage, shaking the ground with each
  titanic step)
Rob:  (curious, he grabs a leg of meat and follows the dragon)
little black multi-legged varmints:  (scurry out of the shadows and
  plunder the food left behind)  Ska!

  Rob found the dragon sitting on its haunches, out in the huge
passageway.  Baytor was growling and eyeing the darkness to the

Baytor:  (a low roar begins to build in its throat)  RRRRRRR...
Rob:  (realizes that he's between the dragon and whatever is out
  there upsetting it, and wisely moves to stand well behind the

  The priest couldn't see anything in the darkness beyond, but
obviously Baytor could.  The dragon's next move took Rob by
surprise, even though he should have figured on it.  With an
immense breath, Baytor sucked in vast quantities of air...and
then released a tremendous belch of greenish vapors!  Within
an instant, the entire tunnel was filled with the gas.

Rob:  (backs up as the green mists begin to float back toward
  him, as well as away from the dragon)
Baytor:  (begins beating its wings, producing gusts that fan the
  poison gas away, toward the darkness and the unknown foe)  I
Rob:  (buffeted this way and that by the powerful winds, he ends
  up on the stony floor, covering his head with his hands)  Aaah!
Baytor:  (watches the gas billow down the tunnel for a short time,
  then begins lumbering in that direction, apparently satisfied)
Rob:  (realizes that the winds have stopped)  Huh?  (he gets to
  his feet, shakily)  Hey, where are you going?

  After recovering the stick of wood upon which he'd cast the
spell of light, he followed the dragon into the dark reaches of
the tunnel.  It didn't take long to see what the hidden foe had
been - or, more appropriately, the hidden foes.  There were at
least two score bodies littering the tunnel, and Rob bent down
to examine one.

Rob:  A drow!

  They were all drow.  There was no telling what their goal had
been, or why they hadn't fled upon seeing the dragon.  It no
longer mattered, since they were all lying about, dead or badly

drow:  (lying prone, coughing up blood)  Gahk...
Baytor:  (snatches up the elf and pops him into its mouth)  RRRRR.

  Rob thought about saying something to the dragon, but decided
that might not be conducive to his own well-being.  He did, however,
manage to help one drow who somehow got skipped by the feasting

Rob:  (after disarming the dark elf, he casts a minor spell of
  healing upon the fellow)
drow warrior:  (speaks in Common)  Unh...who are you...and why do
  you help me?
Rob:  All beings deserve healing...even you.
drow warrior:  (laughs weakly)  You...are a fool, human.
Rob:  (shakes his head)  You remind me of some people I know...
  don't be stupid.  I healed you because I need information from
drow warrior:  Bah.  (he coughs up a bit of blood)
Rob:  You will live, but not for long.  (he points at Baytor, who
  is busy ripping a drow corpse in half)  I may have to feed you
  to my dragon.
drow warrior:  (pales)
Rob:  Then again, I may spare you from that fate...if you can tell
  me what I need to know.
drow warrior:  And what...might that be?  (he tries to sit up, and
  fails)  Ungh.
Rob:  I want a way out of this Underdark, and I want it right now.
drow warrior:  The dragon will never fit in any tunnel I show you.
Rob:  Then you'd better find a new tunnel, one that it _will_ fit
drow warrior:  You ask...the difficult.
Rob:  Think hard, or you'll find yourself in a dragon's stomach
  before much longer.
drow warrior:  (his eyes light up)  There is one way...it is a long
  journey, one which you might not survive.
Rob:  That may be, but I guarantee you that the dragon will.
drow warrior:  Hmm.
Rob:  Here's the pact:  you'll lead us to the exit from here, and
  in return, you get to live.
drow warrior:  That is no bargain.
Rob:  Perhaps not, but it's the only deal around.
drow warrior:  True.
Rob:  (ties the drow's hands behind his back, tightly, then ties
  another rope to his ankles, effectively limiting his foot speed)
  If you think about trying a spell, or trying to flee, remember
  that the dragon will find you.
drow warrior:  (sourly)  I will bear that in mind.
Baytor:  (finishes eating the last drow corpse, and turns to Rob)
Rob:  Come along now, Baytor.

  They made an odd procession, marching through the Underdark:
a huge babbling dragon, a captive dark elf, and a bumbling priest.
Rob didn't care for his own plan, but there was no better way in
sight.  He wouldn't really have fed the drow to the dragon, but
if there was one thing he'd learned in his adventuring days, it
was the value of a good bluff.  The fact that the drow didn't know
anything about Rob's peaceful nature only helped things along.
  Encounters were sparse, probably because denizens of the vast
tunnel complex saw (or heard) the dragon coming, and fled in
terror.  One band of deep dwarves tried to hide in a side tunnel
(to merely watch, or ambush, remained unknown) but Baytor found
and ate them with little ado.  It pained Rob to watch this mad
slaughter, but there wasn't anything he could do about it.  He
counted himself fortunate that he was able to keep the drow
prisoner (not to mention himself) from being devoured.
  Eventually, the drow guided them down a side passage, not as
wide as the main tunnel but still big enough for Baytor to
squeeze through.

Baytor:  (causing minor avalanches as his immense bulk knocks
  parts of the walls and ceiling loose)  BAYTOR!
Rob:  Where is this exit, drow?  If you're trying to fool us, be
  aware that it won't work.
drow warrior:  Fear not, human.  It lies ahead...though you and
  your scaly friend will have a bit of flying ahead.
Rob:  Explain.
drow warrior:  I am taking you to a vertical shaft, which leads
  upward and outward...it will be a great distance, though, and
  I can't say where you will emerge.
Rob:  Good enough.  Maybe we should take you with us, just to
  make sure.
drow warrior:  Suit yourself, but if you take me up there, you
  doom me to a stranded death in the bright world above.
Rob:  Nonsense.  You can levitate back down if you want.  I know
  what powers your race has.
drow warrior:  (fumes angrily)

  Shortly, they stood in a large cavernous shaft, as promised.
If the place had a ceiling, it was far above them.

Rob:  (shouts upward, listening to the echoes)  Wow.
Baytor:  (does the same thing)  I AM BAYTOR!  (a deafening echo
Rob:  (covers his ears)
drow warrior:  (his hands bound, he wishes he could cover his
Baytor:  (looks up into the darkness)
Rob:  Baytor, we need to go that way...up.
Baytor:  (begins chewing on a boulder)
Rob:  <sigh>

  After placing the captive drow in one of Baytor's huge paws
(truly a nerve-wracking experience for the prisoner) and climbing
into the dragon's other claw, Rob was finally able to get his
meaning across.

Baytor:  (looks up, then looks at Rob)  BAYTOR?
Rob:  (points upward)
Baytor:  (burps, then begins flapping its wings slowly)
Rob:  (to the drow warrior)  I'd tell you to hold on tight, but,
drow warrior:  Ulp.
Rob:  You'd just better hope you weren't lying to me.

  With a sudden jerk, the dragon was airborne!  Its great wings
pounded the air, propelling it and its passengers upward with
increasing speed.  Their stomachs turned as the dragon rotated
to face upward, and the wind rushed by fast enough to blind them
even if it hadn't been dark (the drow, even with his infravision,
saw only a blur of passing rock.)
  They flew for what seemed like a short time, but was probably
longer; far above them, a tiny dot of light appeared.  This pin-
prick of light slowly grew as they ascended, and Rob realized
that it was the sun above - it had to be.  Just before they were
high enough for the light to eclipse everything else, there was
a tremendous impact.  Dazed, half-conscious, Rob got the idea
that the opening must have been smaller than the dragon, who'd
resolved the problem by simply smashing through it.  Then vertigo
took him, and he passed out.

  An indeterminate time later, the priest woke up.  He was laying
prone on a soft, grassy knoll; he was bruised and exhausted, but
otherwise well.  Several hundred feet to one side was a large
sinkhole; Rob quickly deduced that this had once been the opening
to the underground shaft.  He stood up and walked around, quickly
finding the broken, still body of the drow warrior.
  Of the dragon Baytor, there was no sign.

Rob:  (talking to himself)  Baytor...he was too nice to have to
  slay, but also too dangerous to allow to roam freely...not that
  there's much of a choice, anymore.

  The priest got his bearings, and soon began walking southward.
The weather was pleasantly cool, which led him to believe he was
somewhere in the northern half of the continent.  Within an hour,
he'd spotted the walls of a small town across the grassy plains,
and he headed in that direction, pleased to be out of the Underdark
and free from its dangers.  All that remained now was to commune
with Trithereon and learn what his next directive was; overall,
Rob was rather pleased with himself.

next:      Halbarad + ??? = scar over one eye
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/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 tale occurs immediately after episode #080.  Rob
         didn't reappear until episode #184.  My intent here was
         to make a different kind of Rob story, one that shows how
         he acts when others aren't constantly making fun of him
         and eclipsing his words and deeds with their own.
           As for Baytor, well...it's a tribute of sorts.

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