Lost Chapter #3

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                                  *
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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 1991-7 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   *
*********************************************************************
*  Alindyar     15th level drow elf mage                       (N)  *
*  Lyra         12th level female drow elf mage                (N)  *
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*  Date:        unknown                                             *
*  Time:        unknown                                             *
*  Place:       unknown                                             *
*  Climate:     none                                                *
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*  "Is that...?"                                                    *
*  "Magic...the darkest magic.  My soul swims in it."               *
*                            - from _Big Trouble in Little China_   *
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                     III.  The Opposition





  It had all begun - and ended - with the explosion.  Alindyar had
known what kind of a sacrifice he was to make - the breaking of a
magical staff in a retributive strike was not a thing to be taken
lightly.  The risk of fatality was fearfully high; the drow, being
a level-headed sort, would never have rationally chosen to break
his staff.  However, time for reflection had been an unaffordable
commodity:  the evil Ged-2 had been about to utter some dark wish.
With Lyra held tightly to him, Alindyar had snapped the staff over
his knee.

  The pair had been surrounded by light and sound...followed by utter
darkness and silence.

  After an indeterminate amount of time, he regained some level of
conscious thought.  Was he awake?  Was he dreaming?  Was he slain,
his spirit ascended to some higher plane of existence?  Alindyar
ruled out the latter possibilities as soon as he moved and sat up:
such aches and pains as he was feeling could never happen in a dream,
and should be absent after death.

Alindyar:  'Tis a nightmare, then, perhaps.
Lyra:  (lying next to him, she stirs)
Alindyar:  Aie!  (concerned, he quickly checks her for wounds)

  Like himself, she was battered and bruised, but otherwise alive
and well.  Alindyar stood painfully, surveying their situation, and
was somewhat shocked to realize that they weren't on Oerth.  Or even
Oerth-2, for that matter.  A strange, purplish-blue sky loomed over
their heads, and weird rock formations stuck up from the ground in
random places.

Lyra:  (looking around)  You know, this kind of looks like...
Alindyar:  -a gigantic version of the Underdark?  Truly, I noticed.
Lyra:  But it can't be.
Alindyar:  (casting a spell)  We shall soon know.

  They weren't too surprised to learn that they weren't on the Prime
Material plane anymore.  The truth was far more sinister and fraught
with danger...

Lyra:  Concordant Opposition?  Are you sure?!?
Alindyar:  Fairly sure.  As these things go, it could be worse.  We
  might have been vaporized.
Lyra:  But still...why?
Alindyar:  (frowns)  Such results are common when breaking a staff
  in a retr-
Lyra:  No, I mean why _here_?
Alindyar:  Oh.  (he shrugs)  I know not.  Perhaps our alignment.
Lyra:  What's that?
Alindyar:  Those who strive for a perfect balance between good and
  evil, order and chaos - and also those who strive not, but yet
  achieve it - the Concordant Opposition is their proper realm.
Lyra:  Now wait a-  you're saying that the _staff_ knew where we
  belonged?
Alindyar:  (shrugs again)  Who can know for sure?  I am merely
  guessing.
Lyra:  But it's a good guess.
Alindyar:  (looks around)  We would be wise to take stock of our
  remaining possessions.
Lyra:  Remaining?
Alindyar:  (eyes his blasted, burned robes)  The explosion may not
  have destroyed us, but some of our items could be damaged...let
  us see, here.

  Though their cloaks were singed, they still seemed intact.  In the
way of weapons, they had Alindyar's wand of viscous globs, plus the
magical staff and dagger that Lyra owned.  Other potentially useful
items included Alindyar's bag of holding and deck of illusions, and
Lyra's boots of flying and potions of extra-healing.

Alindyar:  (drinks one of those potions)  Ahh.
Lyra:  (quaffs the other)  It's fortunate that I had these saved for
  just such an occasion.
Alindyar:  Aye.
Lyra:  (looking somewhat worried)  What about the others, and the
  battle we were all fighting before you broke the staff?
Alindyar:  We cannot worry about such things now...whatever has
  happened on that alternate Oerth, it is completely beyond our
  control.
Lyra:  You're right about that.  And we'd better seek cover or
  something of the sort.  I don't know about you, but that fight
  with the other Ged and his allies used up most of my spells.
Alindyar:  (nods)

  There was, however, no good cover at hand.  In fact, aside from
the weird rock formations that rose up here and there, nothing
of interest was visible.  They could see for quite a distance;
the light here was reminiscent of moonlight over an open plain.

Lyra:  Who knows - here, it could _be_ nighttime.
Alindyar:  I doubt that the plane of Concordant Opposition even
  has night and day.

  Alindyar quickly cast a spell of flying, and they took to the
dim purple skies, in the hope of spotting some landmark or other
reference point.
  They were not disappointed.

Alindyar:  Aie...
Lyra:  What in the name of all the Hells is THAT?!?

  In the far distance, something massive and dark rose from the
surface of the plane and stretched into the sky.  Though they
were leagues away from this towering column, it was obvious that
the thing rose thousands and thousands of feet into the air.  It
would easily have dwarfed any normal structure anywhere on Oerth.

Alindyar:  What _is_ that?
Lyra:  There's only one way to find out.

  They set out, airborne adventurers riding the winds toward an
unknown goal in a bizarre world.  Cruising along at about two
hundred feet, they soon saw live evidence that they weren't alone
here.  Within minutes of setting out, they were flying over a band
of small, gray, multi-armed humanoids.  The things had strangely
oval heads and large, black eyes, and gestured at the pair of drow
with obvious curiosity.  Since Alindyar and Lyra didn't have time
to tarry, they ignored the small ones and continued along.
  Shortly thereafter, they were paralleled in their course by half
a dozen spherical creatures.  The things resembled beholders, but
didn't have as many eyes, and didn't seem hostile.

spherical being #1:  (hovers alongside Alindyar)  Neezel narf?
Alindyar:  Pardon?
spherical being #1:  (squints)  Erbel orvthar.
Lyra:  I don't quite think we're communicating here...
Alindyar:  Nay...(he tries speaking a greeting in high elven and
  then drow, with no response)
spherical being #1:  (turns to one of its fellows)  Feezer lood.
Alindyar:  Hmm.
spherical being #1:  (to Alindyar)  Lorquay!  (it flies away, its
  companions following as they cast baleful glances at the drow)
Lyra:  What an odd bunch they were.
Alindyar:  What an odd place this is.

  Given their airspeed, they should have been getting closer to
the dark column that stretched from ground to sky on the horizon.
However, it simply wasn't happening, and after half an hour, it
was obvious that their goal was truly gargantuan in size as well
as range - it had to be hundreds of leagues distant!

Alindyar:  It makes no sense...if the thing is that far away, we
  shouldn't be able to see it with the naked eye.
Lyra:  But this isn't exactly a normal environment.  None of the
  rules may apply here.
Alindyar:  Agreed.

  As they continued on their journey, another, much smaller object
became visible in the sky ahead.  It resembled a pair of pyramids
joined at the bases, such that one was "upside-down" yet joined to
the other.  As they neared this thing, they realized that (though
dwarfed by the dark pillar in the distance) it was still huge,
thousands of feet across at the center.  The gigantic structure
floated perhaps five hundred feet above the rocky terrain, casting
a shadow only slightly darker than the sky above.

Alindyar:  This bodes ill...
Lyra:  Maybe.  Or maybe someone there can help us figure out how
  to get back.
Alindyar:  Oh, I know how to get back.  I simply do not have the
  spell.
Lyra:  Well, we can keep heading for that other thing, but I get
  the feeling we'd need days to reach it.
Alindyar:  With that, I agree.  Perhaps the pyramidial object _is_
  the best choice.

  They flew toward the thing's vast under-surface, seeking windows
or landing platforms of any kind.  After all, a building that
floated in the sky must surely be inhabited by flying beings...

Alindyar:  There.  (he points to a large, ramp-like recess in the
  pyramid's surface, from which brightly-glowing steps lead up and
  into the structure)

  They entered the portal, and soon found themselves in a hallway
of glowing, pearly white stone that resembled pure marble.  Numerous
other passages intersected this one, such that it was impossible to
accurately keep track of them all.  That particular concern became
insignificant, though, for a tall, slender being approached them in
the passage.  Garbed in golden robes and strange, cubical jewelry,
it had the body of a man but the head of some strange bird.  In one
hand it grasped a long staff whose head glowed with a soft green
light.

Lyra:  (whispering)  What should we do?
Alindyar:  (whispering back)  I have no idea.
bird-headed one:  (his eyes glow)

  Suddenly, though they had no logical way of knowing it, they
realized that their minds were being read.  The effect was gentle,
yet firm; despite the training both of the drow had received in
their childhood, they felt the layers of their thoughts being
peeled back like onions.  It was unpleasant, but it could have
been worse; mind flayers, for example, were known to eat as they
went.
  Just as suddenly as it had begun, it was over.  The being made
a gesture that suggested they follow it, then turned to wander
away down a seemingly random passage.  With little recourse, they
followed it, soon emerging into a larger hallway.  Weird symbols,
perhaps magical, covered the walls here, but they scarcely had time
to examine them before being led into a huge, pyramidial chamber.
At its apex, a brilliant sphere of white energy bathed the room in
light.
  Even though this was as alien a setting as either of the drow had
experienced, they still knew a library when they saw one.  Every
inch of the sloping wall here was part of a tremendous repository
of niches.  Within these thousands and thousands of small places
were stored scroll tubes.  More of the strange writing was carved
into the stone beneath each individual niche.
  Other beings like the one who had brought them here moved about
in the chamber, taking or returning scrolls.  As they gaped in
wonder, one of these creatures, dressed differently than the rest,
stepped forward.  Instantly, the drow heard its voice in their
minds - ESP of a powerful sort.  The being's "words" were as clear
and sharp as if it had been speaking the native tongue of the drow.

being:  Welcome, travelers.  Have you business here?
Alindyar:  (starts to talk, then corrects himself and _thinks_ the
  words)  Yes- I mean, no.  We seek only to escape and return whence
  we came.
Lyra:  ("hearing" both of their thoughts, she chimes in)  It was an
  alternate world, an alternate Oerth.
being:  I know.
Alindyar:  You do?
being:  I know all things.
Lyra:  Can you help us?
being:  You cannot return from whence you came.  Not directly.  If
  you are fortunate, you may yet return to the plane of your origin.
Alindyar:  But how?
being:  (ignoring the question)  Alternatively, you may remain here
  and bask in the total knowledge that is Thoth.
Lyra:  Thoth?
Alindyar:  Remain...here?
being:  It is the ultimate opportunity.  Having read your thoughts,
  I know that you would not be unhappy here.
Lyra:  But...
being:  You wish to return, to assist your companions.
Alindyar:  (glances at Lyra, then at the being)  Aye, we do.
being:  A pity.  You could have learned so much.
Lyra:  Well, we appreciate the offer-
being:  I will now transport you to the nexus you require.  Tread
  with caution, for although the portal links this plane to yours,
  chaos reigns once you depart.
Alindyar:  We thank y-

  Suddenly, they were elsewhere, standing before a scintillating
disk of light some ten feet in diameter.  The purple sky shone above,
and of the pyramids or the strange beings, there was no sign.  The
huge, dark column still loomed, leagues distant.

Alindyar:  -ou...
Lyra:  What a strange being that was.
Alindyar:  Perhaps it was a god.
Lyra:  It's possible.  (she has a notion)  Say, that ESP was useful.
  We should look into some way of communicating like that, just
  between ourselves, when we get back.
Alindyar:  (rubbing his chin)  Ah, yes, it would be...useful.
Lyra:  We'll have to work on it when we get back.
Alindyar:  (regards the disk)  _If_ we get back.
Lyra:  This must be the portal he was talking about...but how do
  we use it?
Alindyar:  I know not, but a good guess might involve stepping
  into it.
Lyra:  (smirks)  Well, I kind of figured that, O learned one.
Alindyar:  My apologies, I only meant-
Lyra:  Don't worry about it now.  (she eyes the disk)  I don't
  really want to just step into that thing.
Alindyar:  Nor I...but since we cannot stay here forever, we must
  make the effort.
Lyra:  (nods, and they join hands)  Ready?
Alindyar:  No, but has that ever stopped us?

  Together, they walked toward - and then into - the disk of light.
Instantly, they lost all sense of time and space, as colors flew
and swirled about their heads.  At once, they were falling and
floating, spinning and at rest.  Worlds flashed before their eyes,
offering brief and confusing glimpses before vanishing from sight,
to be replaced by some other image.
  Abruptly, the insanity ceased.  The two drow were standing in a
lightless cavern, its walls misshapen and eerie.  Unlike the site
of their last appearance, this place was instantly familiar to the
pair.

Alindyar:  (looking around in dismay)  A drow city...
Lyra:  But how, and why?
Alindyar:  And which?





next:      Otto, years before he met Belphanior
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
           http://www3.hmc.edu/~kshobaki/adventurers
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 takes place in the vast expanse between episodes
  143 and 174, i.e. sometime between 12/13/572 - 10/25/573 C.Y.
    Some of the ideas for this adventure were gleaned from the
  1st edition Manual of the Planes and Deities & Demigods books.
    After finishing this segment, I realized that the COMPLETE
  story of the drows' transitory adventures would span more than
  one lost tale.  If I feel the urge, I'll write up the initial
  and subsequent encounters with the drow of Erelhei-Cinlu as a
  future lost tale.  It's really not that big a deal - they show
  up, and then get their assed kicked.  But we'll see.

    NOTE:  In case you didn't notice, I rearranged the order of
  the lost tales so that each one released will (usually) tie in
  to the main Adv. episode also released that week.  The original
  lost tales #3 (Otto's story) is now lost tales #4, which will
  come out with Adv. 508, which has Otto.  And so on.
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