Chapter #127

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                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +                   +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1993 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                    +
+                        +
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      15th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       12th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior    12th/13th/13th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           13th/13th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold     11th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+        ?             grey cat (familiar)             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         15th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint      11th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        15th level human warrior              (N)   +
+   Date:    n/a                                              +
+   Time:    n/a                                              +
+   Place:   some alternate dimension                         +
+   Climate: n/a                                              +
+   "Your persistence surprises even me.  You're going to     +
+    give mercenaries a bad name."                            +
+               Rene Belloq, from _Raiders of the Lost Ark_   +

                   CXXVII.  The Town

  Thanks to a strange magical mirror in Zagyg's dungeon, the
adventurers have somehow been transported to an alternate
world.  Even now, they are doing their best to impress the

old bartender:  You're not from around here, are you?
Mongo:  'Fraid not.
Belphanior:  Hmm, this old geezer's shown a lot more brains
  than anyone we've run into so far.
grey cat:  (sniffing at this invisible voice)  Meow?
old bartender:  Eh?
Ged:  You!  Old man!
old bartender:  What?
Ged:  Is there someone here who might know something?  A
  village wise man, perhaps?
old bartender:  Uh, no, the Dread Lord Ged killed all our
  wise men a long time ago-
Ged:  Oh.
old bartender:  Yeah, he's an evil one, that Dread Lord-
Ged:  Stop saying that!
old bartender:  Eh, er, well, though, there's an ancient
  hermit, lives in the Great Swamp to the east...
Alindyar:  Hermit?
Arnold:  Kermit?
old bartender:  Yeah.  They say he's got the answer to
  every question.  'Course, no one's ever come back from
  that there swamp...
Mongo:  Hmm, well, we have to try.
Lyra:  Of course.  We _always_ try impossible tasks.
Belphanior:  We'll need a guide, though.  Hmm...
old bartender:  (looking around)  Hey.  Hey, what are you
  all looking at me like that for?
Rillen:  (grabs the old man by the collar and lifts him
  off the ground)  You shall be our guide.
old bartender:  Me?  But-
Belphanior:  (invisible)  Stop whining.  You're lucky that
  your tavern still stands.
old bartender:  Eh?  Who's that?
Ged:  No threats are necessary.  Boccob will protect us
  on our endeavor.
old bartender:  Right.  (grabs a bottle of liquor)  I'll
  be needing this.
Flint:  (finishes his beer)  Mmm, good.
Alindyar:  We should make haste to this swamp and its
Ged:  Yea.
Peldor:  (invisible, grabs a bottle of fine whiskey and
  stashes it in his pack)
Flint:  (spots the floating bottle)  Hey!

  The adventurers, plus their unwilling guide, left the
confines of the tavern.

grey cat:  (unbidden, leaps into Ged's backpack)  Meow!
Ged:  Good kitty.
Belphanior:  Say, we can't just walk to the swamp.  We'll
  need horses.  (becomes visible and heads for a stable)
Lyra:  Horses.  What a splendid idea.
Arnold:  Hordses.
old bartender:  (guzzles his liquor)

stableboy:  (looks up as the party enters the building)
  What is it?
Belphanior:  (tries to look menacing)  Horses!  Now!
stableboy:  Who the hell are you?  Go away, I'm busy.
  (spots Ged and Mongo)  Eyagh!  (dashes to the horses
  and begins untying them)  Take them!  Take them all!
Mongo:  Hey, calm down, kid.  We're not going to hurt
Belphanior:  (leans into the boy's face)  Don't you
  recognize me?  What evil lord am I, in these parts?
stableboy:  Who?  What?  You?
Belphanior:  I am Belphanior!
stableboy:  Never heard of you.
Belphanior:  (sighs)
Peldor:  Heh heh.
Rillen:  (chuckles)  It seems that you are nobody...
Belphanior:  Shut up.  (storms away)
old bartender:  (guzzles some liquor)
Ged:  How many horses do we need?
stableboy:  What?  Anything the Dread Lord wants...
stableboy:  Aaaaaa!  (flees)
Flint:  (grabs the boy)  Slow it down, you're liable to
  trip and hurt yourself.
stableboy:  Aaaaa!  What do the Dread Lord and his general
  want with poor little me?!?  I've done nothing!
Alindyar:  General?
Arnold:  Genderal?  Whad genderal?
stableboy:  (points to Mongo)  Him!
Flint:  Him?
Mongo:  Me?
stableboy:  Yeah!  Everyone knows of your legendary evil
  temper and wanton cruelty!  Not to mention that hammer
  you use to smash peasants' heads in.
Mongo:  What's this?  I only smash evildoers' heads in
  with my hammer.  Obviously you have me mistaken for
  someone else.
stableboy:  No way!  (grabs a passing horse's reins and
  hands them to Rillen)  Here, take them all!  (flees
  from the stable)
Ged:  (throws a pouch of gold coins after the boy)  Here!
  Take this payment, in Boccob's name!  And go tell your
  friends that we're not the bad guys!
stableboy:  (beaned in the head by the pouch)  Ow!  (he
  takes the money and runs away)  Aaaaaaa!
old bartender:  I sure wish I knew what was going on here,
  yep.  (guzzles some more liquor)
Lyra:  I think we're spreading chaos and mayhem, but I'm
  not sure.
Rillen:  Good guess.
Mongo:  Come on, let's find that swamp.
Arnold:  And the hermbit!

  The adventurers led their horses out of the stable, and
then mounted the animals and rode out of town.  Villagers
gaped in astonishment from all sides.  Soon...

old bartender:  Well, there it is!  (points to the edge
  of a huge swamp, which extends to the horizon in both
  directions)  The Great Swamp!  (guzzles yet more of his
  liquor)  Urp!
Ged:  Looks...well, great.
old man:  Thbey sbay thad thde hermid isth jusbt ahead...
  (falls off of his horse, unconscious)
Mongo:  Hey, the old coot's drunk himself to sleep!
Alindyar:  I thought it remarkable that the fellow lasted
  this long.
Flint:  Hmm, yeah.
Rillen:  We no longer need him - the swamp is found...
Ged:  True.

  The swamp had murky black water and dark blue plant
life, and weird sounds could be heard from within its
depths.  A distinct rotting smell emanated from the
dank place.

Belphanior:  I don't think the horses will be able to
  make it through this swampy terrain.
Rillen:  This is true.  (dismounts)  We will have to go
  on foot.
Lyra:  Damn.  I hate swamps.
Flint:  (looks around)  Is Peldor still with us?
Peldor:  (invisible)  Yup.
Ged:  (frowns)  Oh, what a relief.  (begins casting a
Alindyar:  (begins casting a spell)
Arnold:  Whad's going on?
Mongo:  It's the spellcasters at work again.
Ged:  (Polymorphs into a large hawk)  Squawk!  (flies
  up and away)  Squawk!
grey cat:  (expelled from the backpack as the polymorph
  occurred, it manages to leap atop Arnold's helm before
  it can fall to the ground)  Meow.  (spots the Ged-hawk
  and despairs)  Meow!
Arnold:  Aaa.  I've god you, liddle one.  (he stashes
  the cat in his own pack)
Mongo:  I guess Ged's planning on scouting ahead...
Belphanior:  Looks that way.
Flint:  (busy tying horses to blue bushes)
Alindyar:  (casts Enlarge, and becomes fifteen feet tall
  within seconds)  Oh, my.
Lyra:  Well, it looks like _you_ won't get very wet in
  the swamp today.
Alindyar:  I shall not be the only one.  Allow me.  (he
  picks Lyra up, effortlessly, and strolls into the swamp)
  Hmm.  (looks back at the others, most of whom are gaping
  in astonishment)  What are you waiting for?  Let us go!
Lyra:  (tossed over Alindyar's shoulder like a sack of
  grain)  Hmm, I could grow to like this...

  With that, the party entered the Great Swamp, leaving
their horses in the care of the unconscious old man.  A
rather long hour or so later, they were wet, smelly, and
thoroughly disgusted.

Flint:  Dammit!  This is getting us nowhere!
Lyra:  (quite dry in the gigantic Alindyar's arms)  Heh.
Peldor:  (invisible)  Shh!  I hear something!
Arnold:  Whad?
grey cat:  (jumps into a nearby tree)  Sss!

  A sucking sound grew louder, and a pair of gigantic,
rotting vegetable-things rose from the muck directly in
front of the adventurers.  They were blue, and towered
over the adventurers (except Alindyar) at a height of
sixteen feet or so.  As their terrible stench assaulted
the party, a high wall of muck-covered weeds and thorns
rose from the swamp, circling the adventurers and their
attackers at a radius of about twenty feet.

Mongo:  Hey!  We're cut off!  (hefts his hammer)

next time:  battle supreme!

notes:  Belphanior's player seemed shocked that Ged and
      Mongo had evil reputations on this world, while he
      didn't...hmm, talk about lost prestige...

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