Chapter #71

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                         THE ADVENTURERS

*  The 8 player characters contained in these writings are copyright
*  1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to persons or characters
*  either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  Copying and/or
*  distribution of these stories is permissible only under the one
*  condition that no part of them will be used or sold for profit.
*  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.


Alindyar      10th level drow elf mage                (N)
  Lyra         6th level female drow elf mage         (N)
Belphanior     7th/8th/8th level high elf w/m/t      (CN)
Ged            9th/8th level grey elf priest/mage    (NG)
  Arnold       6th level human warrior               (NG)
Halbarad       9th level human ranger                (NG)
  Zephyr       5+5 HD wild tiger
Mongo          8th level dwarf warrior               (CG)
Peldor        11th level human thief                  (N)
  Bosco        6th level soulless halfling thief     (CN)
Peyote         7th/9th level half-elf fighter/druid   (N)
  fang         wild dog
  eye          hawk
  ear          hawk
Rillen         8th level human warrior                (N)
Rob            9th level human priest                (LG)
Date:   5/1/571 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   early morning
Place:  the Rushmoors

                   LXXI.  Yin-Tze's Tale

  The party had been led to a small, weatherbeaten hut in
the Rushmoor swamps, where a small, wizened man emerged
and greeted them...

man:  Gleetings!  I am Yin-Tze.
Arnold:  (pipes up)  Greetinks.  I am Ah-nold!  (waves his
  sword around in the air)
Peldor:  Hey!  Watch it with that thing!  You could cut
  someone's head off.
Arnold:  Oh.  (looks around sheepishly)
Alindyar:  Well met, wise one.  We seek knowledge most secret.
Peyote:  Yeah, man.
Yin-Tze:  Ohhhh.  (grinning)  Come inside, young ones.  (he
  hunches over and ducks into his hut)  I have knowredge, much
  knowredge. (babbling incoherently)
Halbarad:  (looks at Ged)  There is no way that we are all
  going to fit inside there.
Ged:  You're right.  The henchmen and animals will have to
  stay outside.
Mongo:  Bah.  (enters the hut)  You got any food, little old
Yin-Tze:  Rittre I may be, but I am a gleat sage.  I know many
  things of intelest.
Ged:  (enters the hut)  Is that so?
Yin-Tze:  (jabbering now)  Yes, yes, yes.  (puts a pot of soup
  over his small fire)  I happen to know that you are rooking
  for a key...
Peyote:  (just entered the hut)  How'd you know _that_?!?
Yin-Tze:  (looks up at the ceiling)  Knowredge is the gleatest
  of _all_ things.
Alindyar:  (now inside the hut, with Lyra at his side)  Indeed.
Yin-Tze:  You seek a key, a key to get inside an ancient fortless
  within the mountains.
Ged:  Yea, that's about the scope of it.
Yin-Tze:  Gather alound.

  Those who could crowded into the small abode, and the wizened
sage proceeded to deliver a lecture...

                       YIN-TZE's STORY
                    (accent left intact)

  "Many decades ago, a cult of devir wolshippers constlucted a
gleat foltless within a mountain in the Yatil lange.  They used
this prace as a remote base of opelations, staging prots in the
nealby kingdoms and pelfolming vire lituars in the catacombs
berow the prace.  This went on for many yeals untir the nealby
lesidents decided that it had to be stopped.  They malsharred
their folces and attacked the foltless.  Aftel weeks of siege
they managed to bleak in, and ploceeded to sray all of the evir
cultists that they found.  Only a few managed to make their
escape; these letleated into the rowel leaches of the foltless
and dungeons beneath.  Unwirring to ventule into the depths of
the ealth, the folces of good caused much destluction and then
seared the gates of the foltless forevel.  Thus the devir cult
was finished in the vicinity.
  Lumor has it that the single key to the prace's gate was taken
and hidden well, somewhere in the Balliel Peaks, and gualded by
many tlaps and tlicks.  All would have been well, except that a
few yeals ratel, a ralge led dlagon frew into the area, and took
the mountain ovel from the inhabitants.  Those who put up a fight
were srain quickry and effoltressry by the beast.
  For twoscore yeals, the gleat wylm, called Kieravaak by some,
has rived in these peaks and amassed a foltune whire terrolizing
arr in the vicinity.  Those who have tlied to dlive it away are
no more.  Howevel, no one has come to ask me about these things
in many yeals.  I thought that no one cared any more...ah, but
foltunatery for you I have a map to the dlagon's rail.

Mongo:  Map?  Let's see it!
Yin-Tze:  Not so fast, dwalf.  My selvices are not flee - I shall
  requile thlee items of magic from youl palty.
Ged:  What in Boccob's name are you talking about?!?  Three
  items!  That's ridiculous!
Peyote:  Yeah, man.
Peldor:  Highway robbery.
Alindyar:  Perhaps this quest is not so important after all.
Lyra:  Quiet, you.  Besides, you only _have_ one item of magic.
Alindyar:  I know.  That is the problem.
Halbarad:  We could draw straws to see which three must donate.
Rob:  Sounds good to _me_.
Peldor:  Bah.  (gets the straws out)
Mongo:  This is bullshit.

  They drew straws, and the three with the shortest straws were
Halbarad (who gave up his ring of truth), Peldor (who let the old
gnarled staff go), and Peyote (who lost his ring of invisibility).
The wizened sage refused to accept any other items but these, and
all three of the adventurers were understandably upset.  Still, it
seemed like a decent trade.

Yin-Tze:  Here is the map.  (hands over a map)
Mongo:  That?!?  That crummy thing?!?  We lost three good items
  for a piece of paper?!?  Damn!
Belphanior:  (considering slaying the sage)
Halbarad:  (regards the map)  Hmm.  This map shows the exact
  route to the dragon's lair.
Yin-Tze:  (gloating over his new prizes)  Yes!  The exact loute!
Ged:  Bah.  This whole thing is stupid.  We shall go and slay
  this dragon, appropriate its treasure in the name of Boccob,
  and then proceed on to the devil-fortress or whatever it is.
Peldor:  The great Peldor shall liberate no treasure in the name
  of one so puny as Boccob.  Peldor steals only for Peldor's name!
Ged:  Hey, watch it, you.  It's a good thing that Boccob is known
  as "The Uncaring" or you'd be a smear on the ground by now.
Peldor:  Hah!  A puny god, that Boccob.  (wanders away)  Puny!
Ged:  (seriously thinking about zapping the thief with a magical
  missile or three)  Hmph.  Fool.
Halbarad:  Let us be on our way, then.
Belphanior:  Hear, hear.  (mutters to his sword)  Yeah, yeah, I
  know.  Soon it will be done.

  They left the hut, and plotted a new travel route, one taking
them from the Rushmoors into the Dim Forest, then through the
Gran March, Bissel, and finally into the Barrier Peaks.  This
trip was much more easily discussed than made, though, and after
two days, they were still in the Dim Forest.  It was nighttime,
and Peldor was on guard duty with Belphanior...

Peldor:  (cocks an ear)  What's that?
Belphanior:  Eh?
Peldor:  I hear something.  Distant, but coming closer.  Like a
  low-key shuffling and rustling.
Belphanior:  Whatever in the Nine Hells _are_ you talking about?
Peldor:  Shh!
Belphanior:  (talks to his sword)  Hmm?  What's that?  Only him?
Peldor:  (looks irritatedly at Belphanior)  What are you doing?
Belphanior:  There are no souls nearby.  Save yours, of course.
Peldor:  Oh.
Belphanior:  (looks into the woods nearby)  But you're right,
  Something _is_ coming...
Peldor:  Maybe we should wake the others.

  Just then, a rabbit leaped from the forest nearby, and bounded
through the camp.  One of Peyote's hawks immediately gave chase
while Peldor and Belphanior looked around in amazement, for now
a number of other small animals were running, flying, or hopping
through or over the camp.  The party quickly woke up...

Mongo:  What in the bloody fucking hell is going on here?!?!?
  Where did all these friggin' animals come from?!?
Peyote:  I don't know, man.  Maybe I should ask one of them.
Alindyar:  (points)  Somewhere out there, it would seem.
Mongo:  Ah, shut up.  (hefts his hammer)  Hmph.
Ged:  (wiping his eyes)  Yawn.  Well!  Some guards _you_ two
  are!  We just got trampled by the entire wild kingdom, and
  you just sat there.
Peldor:  Uh...well...
Belphanior:  Something isn't right here.  Get the horses ready
  to move!  (a squirrel leaps by his head)  Whoa!
Peyote:  Hey!  Stop, you!  Someone get that squirrel!
Rillen:  (deftly snatches the animal from the air and hands it
  to Peyote)  Here.
Peyote:  (grabs the squirrel and begins talking to it)  Chirpa
Arnold:  (looking around)  Wheah is de enemy?  I, Ah-nold, wait
  to smash and slay!
Ged:  Not right now.  Just hold on.
Peyote:  Hey, this little guy says that the "blanket of death"
  is coming, and driving away or killing everything in its path.
Belphanior:  Cool.
Rob:  (examining his blanket)  Blanket?  Death?
Halbarad:  Look!  (points with his axe to the edge of the camp)
Peyote:  Whoa!  Gnarly!

  There was a teeming mass of small insects and bugs coming from
the forest.  It was like a wide carpet, consuming grass and leaves
before itself, leaving nothing alive in its wake.  The adventurers
quickly prepared to ride, leaving all nonessentials behind as they
hastened to get away.

Ged:  What in the world...?  (fires Magic Missiles at the
  creeping swarm)
swarm:  (a few small swaths are burned away, but other bugs
  move into their place quickly)
Ged:  Uh-oh.  Time to retreat.
Rob:  (watching the swarm in fascination)  Wow.
Peyote:  Hark!  This may be what we enlightened call the
  "Creeping Doom".  For obvious reasons.
Mongo:  No shit.  That fucking thing ate our camp!  Let's get
  the hell out of here!  Hi-yah!

  And so they rode away at breakneck speed, until they were
sure that the strange swarm was far, far behind them.  Even
then, some of them cast nervous glances backwards now and
again.  The swarm or whatever it was did not find them again,
though, and they rode on for a week, through the Gran March
and Bissel.  These lands were peaceful, and there was no
trouble while the party ventured through them.
  However, the Barrier Peaks soon loomed ahead of the group,
and they looked intimidating indeed.  The map indicated two
large peaks, side by side, which were to be reached via a
pass, the Broken Claw Trail.  This pass was just north of
a small fort - a fort which could be seen in the distance
from the party's current location.  They entered the pass
and began their journey.
  Oddly enough, nothing attacked them that night, and the
next day, they found the trail shown on the map.  A sign
was planted in the ground ahead - THE PASS UNDER THE PEAK

Ged:  I wonder what that means?
Mongo:  Ah, a battle is coming!  I can _smell_ it!
Arnold:  Baddle?  (breathes in the cold mountain air)  Aah!
  Baddle to be soon.
Rillen:  Bah.  (twirls his staff and ponders the meaning of
  life)  Many faces just means more targets.
Alindyar:  Verily.

  Soon, they found that the pass actually led _under_ one
of the smaller mountains!  They used a spell to make a
powerful light, and proceeded through the large, rounded
corridor (it was roughly fifty feet in diameter, with a
flat bottom - obviously a well-trodden path).  About ten
minutes later, they found a number of bits of debris on
the tunnel's floor.

Mongo:  What is this?  (picks up a charred object)  Hmm.
  (breaks it in half)  Aha!  Bone!
Ged:  Bone?  (examines another bone, also charred)
Rob:  (picks up a round object)  Hey, here's a skull.
Alindyar:  (looking around)  This entire area has signs of
  heat and fire on the walls...
Halbarad:  What lurks here, I wonder?

  The answer was not long in coming, for something huge
shuffled forth from the darkness ahead, its many heads
snorting smoke out of flaring nostrils...

Arnold:  Whad's dhat?  (holds up his sword)  Lods of heads!
Mongo:  Yeah...I count at least six...
Alindyar:  Make that nine.  Nine heads.
Ged:  Can you say hydra?
Rillen:  Hydra.  Hydra!

next time:  battle, and then the dragon...

FTP SITE: (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)

NOTES:  The endorsement for the week : the movie _Innocent Blood_
which I recently had the pleasure of watching for a minimal fee.
It's got everything - vampires, humor, violence, gangs, the whole
  About the three lost magic items for Yin-Tze : I periodically
tried to flush out little-used or (in my opinion) unfitting items
that the party gained.
  As for the cloud giant, which I have been referring to for the
last couple of episodes, well, he'll show up sometime.  I got the
sequence out of order slightly.  First, the dragon - then the
giant will make his appearance.

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