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archive:stories:quest

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From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Thu Aug 2 08:53:52 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: The Quest for Axe of the Dwarven Lords Keywords: story Date: 30 Jul 90 20:52:31 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

Background: This adventure is from an ongoing dungeon that currently uses a modified form of RoleMaster. As the chronicles unfold, you'll notice that while spells were described by name in the beginning, we eventually switched to describing the apparent effects, so that no knowledge of the playing system is now required.

Having defeated the "false gods", the party agrees to aid Felicia

as she searches for the legendary "Axe of the Dwarven Lords". The whole affair seems misguided, the last Dwarves died centuries ago, but we can't let her run off by herself, so we come along. The chronicles begin as the party leaves Muerse (home of the sstoi'isslythi, aka, serpent-men).


	WE SET OFF TO FIND THE AXE (AT LAST)

It is mid-morning on the 17 day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:  88
sky:  clear
wind:  30 mph (moderate gale)

Crys (and others) ask if there are any legends known in the town about the caves (always some truth in them) or if anyone is known to have entered and returned from them. Supposedly searching for rumors, Todd and Elured manage to instigate a brawl in one tavern. [Ed. They later tell how they fought off more than a thousand sstoi'isslythi with their bare hands - in a town of five hundred or so ….]

We uncover the following tales:

1-	Riches beyond imagining are to be found in the Dwarven ruins.
2-	The Dwarves were destroyed when their wells were poisoned.
3-	Undead dwarven spirits defend the ruins against intrusion.
4-	The cave entrance is guarded by cerebi.
5-	No one has ever returned from the catacombs.
6-	No one has tried to enter the catacombs in hundreds of years.

We find a package, delivered by a peregrine falcon, waiting for us at Leethth's. It's addressed to Princess Leia, Lady Crystine or Sir Ragnor. Crys opens it. It's from Queen Ariel. She wishes us success and expresses hope that the enclosed 'pebbles' will prove useful. Winston has placed some kind of spell on them to make them explode on impact. Alicia sends the falcon back with our thanks. Ragnor takes eight to use with his sling. Crys pockets the last four.

After lunch, Leethth shows us where the entrance to the catacombs can be found and wishes us luck. As we assemble near the opening, Alicia warns that there are five creatures moving about inside, between 50 and 100 feet from the entrance. We fan out and prepare missile type attacks (both weapon and spells).

Crys fires a 'cold ball' from her staff and follows with a 'fire ball'. Ragnor hurls one of the 'magic pebbles' from Winston with his sling - there's an explosion. Alicia says one is coming. We watch, but don't see anything until it appears right before us! It attacks Ragnor, Jhere and Elured with its three heads. Ragnor gets in a blow with his maul before he staggers back, Elured hacks it with his greatsword, Jhere hits it with an arrow and Leia with a 'fire bolt'. Todd attempts to jump on its back and knife it, but ends up sticking his dagger into its knee. The cerebus collapses under the onslaught and dies before making any other attacks.

Kidd 'presences' four intelligences at the limit of his range, about sixty feet from the entrance.

When no one is looking (though Jhere catches the action out of the corner of her eye), almost unconsciously, Alicia plucks a flower from the wreath in her hair. It transforms into a slender green reed: baalak! Just what she needs to heal Ragnor's shoulder. She casts 'instant herbal cures' on it. Leia brings a cup of water to a boil with 'boil water' from her holy symbol and Alicia brew the curing draught. Ragnor drinks it and finds that he can use his shoulder again. Kidd reports that the intelligences in the cave are still right at the limit of his range, unmoving.

Todd goes in to try to entice them out. They don't take the bait. He systematically places torches to light the passageway. But when he tosses one that would light up the area that the intelligences occupy, it is immediately extinguished.

We decide to attack on two fronts. Kidd can get behind them. Crys can get others behind as well. The rest will close from this side. A couple of us try to 'intuition' what lays beyond the creatures, but the spells come to an abrupt end when we try to pass.

Crys casts the first 'leaving' on Elured. He appears behind them, lit torch still in hand. He places the torch and grabs his sword, just as one attacks him. Alicia warns of the sudden movement within the cave. Kidd uses 'leaving' from his circlet to come to Elured's aid. Crys does a 'time restore II' and casts 'leaving' on Jhere to get her back there quickly, as well. They arrive as Elured goes down under the attacks of a cerebus! They attack and distract the creature from finishing him off.

We close from in front. Crys hurls a 'cold ball' into what she figures is the middle of other three cerebi. She figures well, but underestimates the area of effect within the cavern's confines and gets most of us as well! Leia uses 'firestorm' and 'triad of flame' from her holy symbol and Ragnor, Felicia and Todd move in to finish them off. Todd executes a brilliant manuever, leaping onto the back of one of them and sinking his dagger into it - this inspires all of us within sight! Crys casts 'long door' upon one of them and it disappears from view - there is an ominous cracking sound from the ceiling above, but nothing falls on us, though we hasten from the spot.

Soon it's all over except the healing. Somehow, Elured manages to repair his wounds enough to regain consciousness. Meanwhile, Alicia gives Jhere a fek nut from her supplies to stop her bleeding. Then she has all the injured gather close to her as she burns a nodule of rewk within her censer. As we inhale the smoke, much (in some cases all) of our wounds are healed!

[Although we are unaware of it, Todd and Crys have crossed a 'symbol' that will manifest its properties and some later time.]

Jhere reminds us that we left our supplies outside when we came in to do battle - so we'd better go out and gather them up.

Alicia pulls another flower from her wreath, concentrates and says "gursamel". She also thinks to herself that it is important, there is a bone that needs to be healed, and it should be permanent. The flower withers in her hand.

We retrieve our packs and head deeper into the cavern, it slopes downward gradually and begins to narrow and curve to the right.

A passage joins ours from the left. Todd concentrates and believes that the side passage widens greatly after the first 10-20 feet. We decide to set up our camp just before the intersection.

During the first watch Kidd is dreaming about finding the Axe of the Dwarven Lords in a cavern with a column when he's awakened by shouting. Todd is under attack by a nearly invisible gelatinous creature (Jhere later identifies them as 'chameleon amoebas'). Leia tries to discover if we're under attack by undead. Crys and Alicia try to put the thing to sleep (without success). Elured attacks the thing as it envelops Todd. It switches its attentions to Elured. He nearly smothers before Ragnor, Jhere and Felicia get him free. Jhere and Ragnor torch it. Ragnor and Felicia pound and slice it. It withers up and dies. Jhere gets another on the end of her staff and manages to pound it into the wall of the side corridor as yet another tries to embrace her. The one on her staff loses hold and she backs out as they slither off. Crys hurls a cold ball and Leia a fire ball into the area where we'd last fought them. We decide to spend the rest of the night outside and retreat to the mouth of the cave.

The night is warm and uneventful for the remainder. Leia dreams of wandering through caverns and ancient ruins in seeking the Axe.

We head back into the cavern after breakfast.

Not too far beyond last night's "resting" place, Alicia warns us of something coming up fast. We barely have time to drop our packs and ready our weapons before they're upon us - huge hound-like beasts with dark coats and glowing eyes! [Ed. Night hounds.] One bites Ragnor, another bellows forth a cloud of foul vapors directly into Elured's face! Somehow he avoids succumbing to the odor, but the rest of us are knocked out! Leia's holy symbol glows futilely as she collapses before she can hurl Brigit's fire at the creatures. Ragnor pulps the one in front of him with his maul as Elured swings his two-handed sword ineffectively at the foul-breathed monster facing him. Other beasts crowd behind the leaders of the pack, slavering for the chance to gnaw the flesh from our bones. Crys awakens, having spent her unconsciousness in alternative time. She then uses the last moments of her saved time to instantly produce an electrical field encompassing most of the beasts. Leia's holy symbol glows brightly and she comes instantly awake. Ragnor and Elured are mauled by two of the creatures as Leia creates a storm of fire in their midst. Between Leia's and Crys' magic and subsequent fire bolts from them, the remaining beasts are quickly dispensed.

Most of us are still unconscious, Ragnor is bleeding, Elured's left thumb was nearly torn off (but will heal in five hours, thanks to his marvelous recuperative powers).

[to be continued, if there is interest …] – - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801

From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Mon Aug 6 11:19:06 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: The Quest for Axe of the Dwarven Lords (2) Keywords: story Date: 3 Aug 90 20:11:18 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

[oops – the events in the previously published part 2 were jumbled during assembly (3 source files) — this is an unscrambled version] [this will probably reach your site after part 3 …]

	WE RECOVER FROM CANINE HALITOSIS
	WE PERSUADE SOME OGRES TO LET US PASS
	THE MIGHTY FALL AND KIDD SAVES THE DAY

It is mid-morning on the 18th day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~70 (we're in the catacombs...)
wind:		0 mph (calm)

Ragnor is still bleeding badly; Elured tells him to dig into his belt pouch and pull out the vials (Elured's injured thumb prevents him from doing it himself). He selects one and Ragnor downs it's contents in a single gulp. The bleeding stops.

Meanwhile Leia prays to Brigit to awaken the rest of us and her holy symbol again glows, but nothing else seems to happen. Then she goes into a trance to try to provide advance warning of anyone (or thing) approaching us. Jhere regains consciousness and finds Alicia, Todd and Kidd still in a coma, Ragnor and Elured busy trying to heal their wounds, Crys and Felicia discussing what to do next and Leia apparently meditating. She begins moving our equipment to one side of the passage, so we can be ready to move. She then lights her lantern and sets it in our midst and heads forward to stand guard, with an arrow notched in her bow. Elured meditates and after roughly nine minutes, his wounds are gone!

We move past the dead night hounds (carrying our unconscious comrades) so we can eat without the unappetizing stench of their charred flesh. Once we are downwind of the carnage, we eat lunch. Eventually, all save Alicia are awake. Ragnor carries her slight form and we penetrate deeper into the cave. We reach a fork and decide to make camp for the night just inside the narrower branch. Jhere searches carefully (holding her torch as high as she can) for chameleon amoebas. She doesn't find any, but does discover a purple mold growing on the upper portion of the left wall! As Alicia has finally awakened (a little surprised to be in Ragnor arms), she asks to be lifted up to where she can examine the mold more closely. Ragnor steps to her aid, lifting her easily above his head. [Ed. his efforts are rewarded by a view of more than a bit of leg, but that's another story…] She casts two spells and shrugs, disappointed. As Ragnor lowers her to the floor she informs us that it's not an useful herb as best she can tell.

We discuss making temporary earthen barricades (Leia can do it magically), but decide against it when we are told they will only persist for a few minutes. We eat dinner and set watches. Alicia burns a thurl clove in her censer and Ragnor inhales the vapors, recovering from some of his wounds a bit.

The night passes quietly. After we breakfast, we explore the branch we've entered. In one direction, our way is blocked by rubble from an ancient collapse. Felicia climbs nimbly to the top, but cannot find any way over the obstruction, nor can we find a way around it. We turn back. Another corridor narrows to just a couple of feet wide. Kidd concentrates and, after a few minutes, tells us that it opens into a substantial chamber with no other exit. We return to the fork and once again proceed down the "main" passage.

The passage curves slowly to the left. After less than a hundred feet, Alicia warns that six large creatures are headed our way. We halt and prepare to fight. They amble slowly closer, finally Kidd can sense them and tells us that whatever they are, they're not terribly bright. They halt about fifty feet from us, still out of view, and apparently engage in some kind of discussion (we catch a few unintelligible sounds from that direction). We wait.

We're ready and waiting and waiting and … whatever is around the bend isn't coming any closer. The argument grows in volume, but we can't understand the language. Finally, Ragnor can't stand it any more and raising the Maul of the Titans runs screaming toward the noise. Jhere, her staff still lit from Crys' spell, Elured and Todd follow in his wake.

As Ragnor (and the light) gets close enough to see them, he slows a bit. They're humanoid and over eight feet tall - ogres!! The stench is nearly overwhelming. Still he comes up behind three of them, too involved in their argument to notice his approach, despite the noise he makes and bops the one on the left over the head with his maul - effectively converting the ogre to pulp! The others notice that.

Crys rushes up and shoots a fire bolt at one that closes with Elured. Ragnor is temporarily put out of action by a bola. Jhere closes wielding her quarterstaff, but gets more the she gives. Leia blasts three with fire bolts, Crys is clobbered by a morning star. Todd slips into the midst of the hand-to-hand combat unseen and suddenly pounces on one from behind. Felicia and Alicia shoot arrows as the opportunity presents. Kidd shoots a fire bolt from his that goes awry, while Leia uses her holy symbol to deliver another to the largest of the ogres. Todd notices that one swinging at him and drops to the ground, the blow lands solidly - on the ogre that Todd had been attacking! Elured's rib is broken as Ragnor recovers. Ragnor pulps another as Crys shocks one, Leia hits one with a fire bolt and Jhere finally gets a solid blow in on one as it, in turn, clobbers Todd. The ogres are pretty groggy at this point and somehow or another we mop them up the next few moments.

Jhere declares that she'd really love a bath! She's covered from head to toe with their stinking guts and blood (she'd slipped in it during the heat of battle) and most of the rest of us are pretty well splattered, too.

Leia heals the tendon that was injured when Crys was struck by the morning star. Elured's rib is already setting, he tells us he can move, as long as we take it slow, and in a few hours he'll be as good as new. Crys creates a wall of water, and we top off our water supplies before splashing through it to remove the ogre gore from our clothes and our selves.

While we're preoccupied with getting clean, Todd quickly searches the ogres' possessions and, after he washes up, he announces that he found a large number of tin pieces and a decent number of copper pieces, if any one is interested …

Kidd and Felicia give two abaas leaves each to Alicia. She burns three of them in her censer as Crys, Elured, Ragnor and Todd breathe in the vapors. All but Ragnor are fully healed.

We divide up the copper pieces that Todd found. Elured takes some of the tin pieces as well. Felicia and Alicia recover some of their arrows.

We reach a narrow bridge. Crys crosses first, unrolling her rope as she goes. Ragnor anchors one end with a spike, using his hand axe to drive it into the wall. Kidd takes the hand axe and a spike and vanishes, reappearing next to Crystine. He anchors the other side of the rope. We cross one at a time, holding onto the rope. Todd runs up and leaps completely across! Some take the extra precaution of tying a rope about their waist with a loop around the rope. There is a cracking sound, often loud, near the center of the bridge as most of us cross. Jhere comes last, wrapping the rope about her arm as she goes. The bridge collapses when she's halfway across!

Felicia leans over the side with her torch and calls out to Jhere. No answer. The rope is taut, but she can't see the end. Then she hears Jhere call for help. Ragnor and Felicia reel her in. Crys floats down and holds on to the rope to alleviate some of the weight. Jhere is battered and limps slightly. She unwraps the rope from her arm - circulation painfully returns. She has a swig from her waterskin and says she's ready to continue. Meanwhile Elured makes a light snack of jerky doused with mustard. We proceed.

We reach a fork in the corridor. Leia and Alicia pray for guidance from their deities and we choose to turn right. They, at least, are convinced that that way is the shortest route. A couple hundred feet further, a passage joins

from the left. Neither Alicia nor Kidd sense the impending attack.

Ragnor knocked down by a ice bolt - with both arms broken! Todd is stabbed by a dagger. Jhere's adversary spits at her! It burns through the clothes on her back, destroys her bedroll and her backpack and some of the contents of the pack as well. The flesh of her back feels as though it's on fire!

Crys thrusts her torch into the face of the now visible, humanoid creature that felled Ragnor - it avoids the flame easily. Crys senses that an essence attack against her fails. Elured starts to ready his greatsword, Felicia and Alicia string their bows. Leia reads a rune of "dark blinding", but it seems not to work. Jhere crouches and attempts to parry and twist out of the way as her foe strikes at her with a club. She is stuck viciously in the back! Pieces of bones pierce vital organs and she crumples to the ground as her life energy seeps away. Kidd points his staff of fire bolts, and misses! The creature attacking Todd stabs him twice in the chest with a dagger - the second blow punctures his heart! He reels backward, the dagger still stuck in his chest, and falls in a heap.

Leia prays to Brigit as she flees our attackers; Crys leaps back to safety as well. Elured has more ribs broken as he's struck by the one wielding a club. Felicia shoots at one point blank as it fits an arrow to it's bow and fires past her at Leia (both are hit). Alicia shoots at one that spits on Kidd as he reads a rune - it burns away the sleeve and some of the skin on his left arm as he shields his face.

Crys drinks a potion and becomes invisible (unfortunately her clothes don't, but she doesn't notice), with the rod of the false gods, she charges back into the fray. The one with the bow shoots Leia again as it in turn is shot by Felicia. Leia's holy symbol comes alight. Kidd's rune takes effect sooner than it should and takes over the mind of the club-wielder, ordering it to attack the others! The one that spat on him last round turns to where Todd lays and bends to extract its dagger.

Felicia shoots the bow-wielder again at point blank range, it doesn't fire! The dagger comes free and the creature is more than a bit surprised when it is struck by the one Kidd controls! It strikes back with the dagger. Elured hacks it with his sword. Crys uses the "death-ray" setting and finishes off the bow-wielder (after Alicia and Felicia feather it again with arrows). The one Kidd controls and Elured finish off the dagger-wielder. Leia keeps Kidd's and Jhere's spirits from departing their corporal forms, just before she collapses from blood loss! [Ed. Leia finally got close enough to recognize the creatures as neng, demon-spawn, but fell unconscious before she could tell anyone.] Crys concentrates and suddenly the remaining creature is badly wounded. Felicia and Elured finish it off as Kidd orders it to turn its back to them and rest against the wall.

Crys suggests that we try to get up our strength a bit before continuing. Those of us who are able, agree whole-heartedly…. – - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801

From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Mon Aug 6 11:19:13 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: The Quest for Axe of the Dwarven Lords (3) Keywords: story Date: 3 Aug 90 19:55:39 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

[Editor's note: lines beginning with the first letter of a character's name and a close bracket indicate private experience of that character – you'll see what I mean in a moment :-)]

WE HOLD THE ENEMY AT THE PASS; PICK UP OUR PIECES AND CARRY ON

It is late morning on the 19th day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~60 (we're in the catacombs...)
wind:		0 mph (calm)

Alicia plucks a flower from her wreath while praying to Mielikki for an herb to heal Todd. The flower withers in her hand.

Leia's prone form seems to burst into flame; we don't dare get too close to her, but her flesh doesn't seem to be burning. After a moment, her bleeding ceases!

l] Leia falls down and down and down, through darkness into a land of l] healing fire. She catches a glimpse of a beautiful flame-haired l] woman, who smiles at Leia, then opens her hands hurling a huge ball l] of orange flame towards her. Leia bows before her goddess and is l] bathed in the healing fires.

Elured, Felicia and Crys search the creatures for any belongings or money they might have. They find two shields, a club, a composite bow and quiver with a dozen arrows, a dagger and three scrolls. Elured wants Alicia to determine what kind of magic is contained in the scrolls, but she is occupied with the injured.

Kidd collapses from blood loss. Alicia murmurs over him for a while and his wound closes.

Leia rises to her feet, all her wounds gone, as the flames about her subside. She offers a prayer of thanks to Brigit and asks her aid in healing Todd, Jhere and Ragnor, who still lies moaning on the ground. Her holy symbol glows brighter. A flame leaps from it to Todd's chest, but he doesn't stir.

Alicia prays again to Mielikki, asking for something with which she might aid the injured. Almost without knowing it, she plucks a flower from her hair. It transforms into a silver berry - mirenna!

Another flame jumps from Leia's holy symbol, this time to Jhere's back, healing the fracture there. Again, healing her liver and spleen. Then to each of Ragnor's arms, healing the fractures there.

Now, at last, Alicia can use the mirenna. Dragging the fallen close to each other, calling Ragnor close as well, she burns it within her censer. Kidd's eyes flutter and he comes awake, Ragnor and Jhere are fully healed, Todd's eyelids flutter but he lapses back to a state at death's threshhold. Kidd is warned not to try to move for a day, until the healing that Alicia has done for him becomes permanent.

Elured finally gets Alicia's attention. She concentrates and states that the scrolls contain essence and so does the bow and the club! Elured gives the scrolls to Crystine for further analysis. Kidd asks for the bow and arrows. As the dagger is of fine alloy, we add it to Todd's pack.

After Crys determines the content of the scrolls, she suggests that the party not proceed further until we rest through a night to heal and get back our strength. We carry Todd and Kidd away from the dead neng and prepare a camp.

Jhere discovers the full extent of the damage that the acid spit did to her garments and belongings: her pack, some of its contents, and her bedroll are destroyed; all the clothing on her back has been burned completely through. She dons a spare tunic from what's left of her supplies, in addition to what she was wearing, and distributes her other supplies between Ragnor, Felicia and Leia, who assure her that the extra weight is no burden. She offers her herbs to Alicia and potions to Leia as a gift of thanks. They accept.

Leia burns the club for light after the oil runs out in Jhere's lantern. Then we add another flask after the club burns out.

After supper there is a near altercation between Elured and Crys. We ignore it, too tired to get involved, and it sputters out. During the middle watch, Elured and Jhere, Elured spots something(s) flying near the roof, out of clear sight. He prods Leia awake with his boot and shouts to alert the rest of us. Whatever it is, it flies away. The remainder of the night passes without incident.

After lunch, Kidd seems ready to travel, but Todd still shows no vital signs. Leia assures us he will recover.

We try to decide which is the shortest way to go. Leia concentrates, then points left, then right, then left. Alicia concentrates and asks Mielikki if going left is the shortest way to the Axe of the Dwarven Lords. She gets a "no", so she says we should go right. Kidd says wait a few minutes and he see if he can figure out the correct answer. After fifteen minutes he tells us our choices:

1)	The way to the right grows very narrow and twisty, he dropped
his pack to get through.  No other problems, though, and it does
eventually widen.
2)	The way to the left ends in a 5-10' hole with a solid floor
about 60' feet below.  He didn't investigate the bottom further.
3)	There is a branch corridor off the left choice that ends in
a large cavern with a 30-40' hole dropping 20' to a solid bottom
There are animal droppings (bats?) in the cavern.  After jumping down
the hole and starting to investigate, he thinks he discovered
something deadly.

Leia tries to locate the great axe directly and succeeds! She announces that it's through the wall of the corridor and down at about a thirty degree angle. She's a bit perplexed because she's sure she should know how far away it is, but can't tell, as though something were interfering with her spell! We elect to go right.

Crys shrinks Todd to less than half his normal size when we reach the narrow spot, that makes him a lot easier for Felicia to handle. She also lights various objects and people so we have adequate light to see where we're going. Eventually, we all make it through, though it takes us a half hour or so.

The passage widens gradually to thirty feet, before beginning to narrow again. When the passage is only ten feet wide, Alicia suddenly warns us that around eleven creatures are slithering toward us from the direction we're headed!

Jhere leans her staff (still lit by Crys's spell) and readies her bow. Felicia sets (little) Todd against the wall and strings hers. Crys and Leia murmur quietly. Jhere goes down on one knee so that Felicia can shoot over her. Leia's holy symbol comes alight.

Finally the onslaught begins - a creature with a man's torso and a long serpentine body slithers around the corner brandishing a two-handed sword! Jhere shoots it with an arrow. It slashes Ragnor's side before being crushed beneath his magic maul. Crys produces a cloud of potent static electricity just around the corner and warns us to stay back. Several of the creatures are caught within it.

Jhere and Felicia shoot at the one that they can see. After a few rounds, it dies. Crys steps up to the corner and fires a cold ball from her staff. Then she realizes that one of them is a dear friend. She steps back, not willing to risk hurting her friend and asks why the rest of us don't talk before we shoot!

Kidd and Jhere move up to the corner. Kidd is struck by one that closes immediately, but manages to strike back with a fire bolt from his staff. Jhere starts to shoot at another that closes with her, but Crys pushes her and causes her to lose her grip on the arrow, so she cannot fire. She takes a minor wound in the left side. Jhere falls to the ground, feigning a mortal wound. Leia blasts her assailant with a bolt of fire from her holy symbol. Felicia feathers it with an arrow.

The floor beneath one of the fallen creatures glows cherry red. We can feel the heat even standing near the corner. The smell of roasting flesh drifts our way. Jhere enjoys the warmth.

Crys recognizes that Kidd's opponent is not her friend and blasts it with a water bolt from her palm. It retreats as does Jhere's foe as Jhere rolls to her knees and fires a parting shot. Felicia tries to tackle Crys, but she is instead thrown to the ground! Jhere tells Crys that she should go tell her friend that we won't hurt them if they won't hurt us. Crys says sure and starts digging for a potion in her pack. Ragnor moves up to the corner and is rewarded by being struck with a sling bullet that cracks a rib!

Leia unleashes a fireball and catches several of the creatures within its blast. Kidd stares intently at Crys and she drops into a deep slumber. We wait, poised for the next attack. Kidd tries to detect any minds within his range. He says they seem to have gone! Alicia cannot locate them either.

She boils a crushed fek nut and gives the infusion to Ragnor to drink. His bleeding stops immediately. Kidd gives his last two abaas leaves to Alicia. She burns those and one she had been previously given within her censer as Felicia, Jhere, Kidd and Ragnor gather close. They're wounds are healed, save for Ragnor, who still sufers from minor bruises and a cracked rib.

Though Kidd concentrates for several minutes, he reports that he cannot find the serpent-men anywhere. – - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801

From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Mon Aug 6 11:20:31 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: Re: The Quest for Axe of the Dwarven Lords (4) Keywords: story Date: 3 Aug 90 21:37:47 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

WE AVOID THE STAMPEDE
WE NEARLY LOSE JHERE TO THE NIGHT HOUNDS
ALICIA FLIES CIRCLES AROUND A DRAGON
WE MEET TWO NATIVES OF THE CAVERN
WE REGAIN A COMRADE AND GATHER SOME TREASURE
WE MEET A BAKER'S DOZEN MANTICORES & NEGOTIATE PASSAGE AS USUAL

It is mid-afternoon on the 20th day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~60 (we're in the catacombs...)
wind:		0 mph (calm)

Alicia reads a scroll, Ragnor's rib starts to mend. Elured goes to search the dead bodies and finds only one! Aside from a few small coins, the only thing of any value is the iron two-handed sword. Kidd assures him that it has no magical properties, but Elured prevails upon Alicia to check as well. She, too, claims that it does not contain magic. Elured throws it aside in disgust and starts hacking and kicking the dead serpent-thing (upon death it transformed into a serpent). We back away.

When Elured calms down and approaches us, Crys decides he needs to be cleaned up a bit and hurls a water bolt at him! Elured is not fazed a bit.

We eat supper and camp for the night. It passes uneventfully. Kidd has a dream about a small, stout man wielding a mighty axe. Ogres are slain with a single blow. The axe glowing as it strikes. There is a great battle going on. This small, stout man (Kidd is later told that he must be a dwarf) is in the middle of it. The ogres try to stay clear of him. The dream ends with the battle still continuing.

We breakfast, then carefully round the corner. We continue until a passage joins from behind. Kidd concentrates for a bit and tells us that dangerous giant humanoids await us in that direction. Leia again indicates that the axe lies downward and through the wall, an undetermined distance away.

We decide to continue straight ahead. As Jhere passes a narrow point, the floor of the passage starts to get warm and glow red! We panic and try to run across the area before it gets to hot. Kidd falls and slightly bruises his hip. He discovers that it's not getting that hot after all.

We come to another place where the corridor divides into four passages. Leia again seeks the Axe and points down one of the openings, but downwards through the floor. Alicia prays to Mielikki for guidance and says that's the way we should go.

The passage slowly curves to the right, until we're headed the opposite way

from when we entered it. Alicia suddenly cries out that uncountable beasts

are running straight towards us! But they come so quickly that we don't have time to react. They are jackalopes. Obviously running in fear, they don't seem to notice us as we press against the walls and try to climb clear. Jhere fends their antlers away with her quarterstaff. Before we can climb, most of us a struck by the racing beasts - Leia has a leg broken and cartilege in her knee torn, the rest take only slight wounds. After a few minutes, the herd passes. For some reason, they seem to have steered clear of Alicia.

Alicia prepares a fek nut for Felicia, who's bleeding slightly. Leia drinks a potion from her pack to heal the leg and one given to her by Kidd for her knee. The leg will still hamper her for about a day, until it fully recovers.

Kidd cannot locate any sentient creatures within his range, so we continue. After a bit, Alicia warns that several creatures await us. We close to about forty feet, then Kidd concentrates and tells us that things waiting for us are night hounds!

Jhere lays her staff down and strings her bow. Crys releases a 'cold ball'

from her staff, the explosion sends a noticible breeze past us. Moments

later, the night hounds discover our whereabouts and run, slavering toward us. The onslaught leaves Jhere paralyzed from the neck down, Ragnor dazed, and several of us in comas ranging from a few moments to several hours.

But despite the ferocity of their attack, Crys triggered a static electric storm in their midst and Leia, her holy symbol aglow, created a rain of fire balls. Ragnor managed to almost crush to death the nearest to him and Elured, aided by Crys and Leia's magic, finishes off that one and another within the reach of his mighty sword. When Ragnor recovers, he manages to trip over an imaginary unseen deceased turtle and doesn't regain control of his marvelous maul until the battle is all but over. Leia lets the fire continue until the beasts are reduced to little more than charred cinders.

Alicia plucks a flower from her wreath, now only nine remain, and it becomes a small amount of purple lichen - wifurwif! She murmurs a blessing over it and burns it within her censer. The vapors heal Jhere's spine. Next she burns a klandun leaf, and Jhere feels the paralysis lift.

At Elured's behest, Alicia attempts to discover if there is any magic in the area occupied by the slain night hounds. All she can sense is Leia's power.

We eat and camp for the night. Ragnor cannot travel for a day - the spell Alicia used to stop his bleeding is a weak one, easily broken. Crys places an alarm forty feet to either side of our camp, if anything moves through those areas, a bright light will illuminate it. The night passes quietly.

We break fast. Kidd goes into repeated trances, attempting to locate the correct path, for where the night hounds had stood when we first sensed them, the passage offers four alternatives. And those alternatives branch more times! After nearly a half an hour of mental seeking, Kidd presents the choices that lay before us. Alicia asks Mielikki's guidance. We choose to follow the second corridor to the left, which ends abruptly in a 20' deep pit.

When we reach the pit, Jhere examines it carefully, then announces that there are closely spaced hand and foot holds on the near wall! We begin to discuss who should go first.

We climb down into the pit. When we reach the bottom, the only wall illuminated by our torches is the one we climbed. Alicia warns us of ten large creatures about 150' away in one direction and five medium creatures over 200' away in another. As they don't seem to be aware of us, we ignore them for the moment. She tosses an acorn to try to discover how far it is to the opposite wall, but can't tell.

Leia tries to determine which way we should go. All ways (left along the wall, right along the wall and straight away from the wall) seem equally good to her. Concentrating, she finds that the five things that await us to the right can kill her, before she can see them, using some kind of cold-based attack. Going straight out from the wall brings her to water, but she can't tell how far it is to the other side.

Alicia warns everyone to stand back and then transforms herself into a thyfur! Crystine gestures and makes an incantation and light springs forth from one of Alicia's talons, illuminating a 50' radius. She takes Crys on her back and Todd's body in her talons and flies slowly toward the water. On the far side of the underground lake, where a stream flows

from it, Alicia and Crys disturb a group of large bats. They flutter

around until Alicia lands, dropping Todd and letting Crys dismount. She then flies shuttle service for the rest of us, except Jhere, who chooses to walk across the lake instead!

After we are all together, Alicia flies downstream, tracing the stream. Suddenly, she sees a 40' cave drake running towards her. She whirls away and heads back toward us. The dragon gains on her, hampered by the low ceiling (under 30') and stalactites, Alicia cannot fly too quickly without risking injury. She is forced to turn and parry the dragon's attack.

Her loud cries attract our attention, though her light does not illuminate us, we can see the two adversaries in its glow. We charge to her aid. Between Ragnor's maul, Crys' cold ball from her staff, Leia's fire-based attacks from her holy symbol, Felicia and Jhere's arrows, Alicia's slashing claws, and Elured's sword, we prove too much for it. But not before Elured lays dying from acid in his lungs!

Alicia lands and returns to her normal form. She burns an herb within her censer which heals Elured's lungs and allows his own recuperative powers to bring him back to conciousness and, finally after a couple of hours, to full health. A beam from Leia's holy symbol carresses Todd's remains; she announces that his soul will continue to abide within it for another eleven days and prays his heart will have regenerated by then.

Meanwhile, Felicia leaps across the water and tries to recover her arrows

from the dragon's corpse. She only manages to retrieve one arrow; it's

Jhere's. Returning, she tries to leap the stream again, but manages to splash into it midway across instead. She swims back to us, chilled from the water and the cool air.

Alicia detects two large creatures on our side of the stream, almost 300' away. They don't seem to have noticed the battle or us … yet.

We eat lunch. Alicia monitors the two creatures - they eventually wander out of her range. After lunch we follow along the stream; Alicia warns that the creatures are dead ahead. When we close to about 100', we decide to cross the river and avoid them. We backtrack several feet to a point where the stream banks are only about 10' apart.

Alicia walks across on the water's surface, ferrying our supplies. After Felicia jumps across, Ragnor rests the head of his maul on the near bank and tilts the handle across until she can reach and balance it. He then tries to jump across, but comes up a few feet short with a good splash. He swims the rest of the way. Elured also fails to clear the water, swimming the remaining distance awkwardly due to his injured shoulder. Leia strips off all of her clothing before making the attempt, bundling it for Alicia to carry. She easily lands on the far side, but has to put up with Elured and Ragnor ogling her until Alicia reaches her with her garments. Crystine, Jhere and Kidd also jump across without difficulty and Ragnor reels Todd's body over with a rope that he secured under Todd's shoulders before crossing. As we get organized, Alicia informs us that the two creatures have crossed as well, although they still have not come nearer to us.

Kidd takes the torch and concentrates for a bit. He tells us that they are granite-faced, hostile, humanoid creatures of about 12' in height.

Crys asks if they seem to be actually made of stone and Kidd replies affirmatively. She then says that she can get rid of one if someone can get rid of the other. Ragnor says he'll do it. Crys takes the torch and advances with Ragnor next to her and the rest of us in support, except Elured, who mumbles something about his tendon not being healed yet and that he'll stay with Todd's body.

When Crys and Ragnor are about 30' from the creatures, they move towards us. Whatever magic Crys tries, failed. We see her reach out to touch the cave troll (for that's what they are) nearest her, then in the wink of an eye, she is 20' away and the torch she had carried is wedged at its feet. Ragnor is even less successful: his opponent strikes before he can, fracturing his left shoulder, and when he finally recovers enough to swing back, he pulls his groin swinging the massive maul. Leia blasts one with three bolts of fire from her holy symbol before it hurls a rock at her, breaking her right hip and knocking her to the ground. Kidd also attacks them with fire bolts, using his staff. Meanwhile, Felicia and Jhere circle behind the creatures and start shooting arrows at them, while Alicia shoots from one side. Crys digs through her pack and pulls out the false god's "death ray". She uses it to make the one attacking Leia vanish just before it can finish her off. Felicia is very upset when her bow breaks and she grabs her battle axe and runs up to the remaining one. She cleaves it nearly in two with a mighty swing, ending the battle.

We do not have anything with which we can heal Ragnor's and Leia's fractures, but Alicia plucks a flower from her wreath and it transforms into a stalk of gursamel. She mutters a spell over it to make it produce instant results, then burns it in her censer so that Leia and Ragnor may inhale the vapors. Leia's holy symbol glows brighter and she lays her hands on Ragnor's groin, healing the pulled muscles (and putting a grin on his face).

Elured saunters up to the lifeless troll and begins looting the body. He announces that there are lots of bronze pieces, if anybody wants any. Unfortunately, Felicia saw the glitter of gold and a flicker of blue in the things he had pocketed. He eventually admits to having gold pieces and a large sapphire (which Crystine examines and tells him is worth about 20gp). We divide up the gold pieces, Elured and others give gold pieces to Leia to sacrifice to Brigit.

Most of us gather around Leia as she gives a prayer of thanks to Brigit and again asks for Todd's speedy recovery. Alicia prays to Meilikki a short distance away. Suddenly, the pile of coins erupts into brilliant orange flame. As the fire fades, it seems tinged with green. The coins are gone. Elured offers the sapphire to Leia to sacrifice and she intones other prayers. After several minutes, it too blazes with a brilliant orange fire and is consumed.

Alicia joins the circle and burns an enhanced rewk nodule in her censer. We have the impression that Todd looks "better" and ask Leia about it. She says no, but Elured says yes. Alicia burns a clove of thurl in her censer and Todd's eyelids flutter. It's a while before he can sit up and longer before he can walk unassisted. When Elured relates our adventures, Todd is surprised that we didn't seek the dragon's lair.

We decide to camp by the river and seek it in the morning. Jhere persuades Leia to heat a rock to serve as a stove. It also warms the air nearby and, after supper, Jhere curls up and sleeps comfortably for the first time since entering the caves.

In the morning, after Crys eats, she makes a waterwall. Alicia, Crys, Elured and Jhere refill their canteens. Jhere concentrates for a bit and then indicates that there are three nearby paths, two ahead of us that branch confusingly and one behind us that leads to a city. We return to the slain dragon so she can pick up its tracks. Other than being slightly inconvenienced by backtracking across the stream, Jhere has no major problem in tracing the tracks back to its lair, a substantial depression in the floor of the cavern.

Kidd takes the torch, concentrates, and states that there is a huge pile of coins within. Ragnor stands guard as the rest of us go in. Sorting through the hoard we come up with some gold, some silver, vast amounts of copper, a rod, and a wallet containing oddly shaped metal tools. Alicia tells us that the rod and wallet are imbued with essence. Crys takes the rod (she discovers that each charge functions as a three times essence multiplier). Todd takes the wallet, assuring us that he can use its contents.

Leaving the lair, Leia tries to guess which path we should choose. She suggests either of the two closer ones. We find a narrow portion of the stream and jump across, having decided to try the passage to our right.

We enter a tunnel that narrows rapidly to 5' wide before slowly widening and curving to the left. We halt at an abrupt drop. We can't see the far side. We can hear water that we estimate to be 100' below the edge on which we stand. We decide to try the other path and retrace our steps.

When we near the second tunnel, Alicia warns us that 13 large creatures wait inside. Kidd determines that they are less than friendly. We prepare for battle.

Kidd detects a dozen intelligences inside the tunnel we intend to use as an exit from the great cavern. We prepare to fight our way through. Jhere, Alicia, Elured and Leia (with her holy symbol aglow) cross to the far side of the opening. That proves to be a mistake - whatever the creatures are, they can see in the dark - darts rain upon the four. Alicia and Jhere are at death's door; muscles in Elured's left arm are severed and he cannot wield his great sword. Jhere clamps the wound in her forearm with her other hand in an attempt to control the blood loss.

Crys releases a charge from her new rod, tripling her available spell points. Felicia is clawed by one as it emerges from the tunnel, but a blow from her battle axe tears into its abdomen, more than repaying it. Ragnor slings one of the exploding pebbles into the tunnel, after leaning his maul against the cavern wall. Besides the creatures, the blast catches Felicia. Leia fires three bolts of flame with her holy symbol. Hit by two darts, Ragnor is blinded and knocked to the ground in a coma that will last for two days. Crys attempts to double Felicia's rate of action, but for some reason casts the spell on Todd instead. Leia hurls a fireball into the tunnel - now things are getting hot for the manticores (the illumination of the fire spells has allowed us a look at them). Alicia falls unconscious from blood loss and Elured tries to work his way over to her.

Crys uses some of her "saved time" to act against the manticores before they can do more damage. She creates an illusion of a wall across the opening, leaps in front of the opening and fires a cold ball from her staff into their midst. She notices that she seems to be a little confused and indecisive as she fires a second cold ball, leaps away, then back. She follows with two fire balls and another cold ball before leaping away again. She cancels her illusion and illuminates her hand with a light spell.

Leia feels the might of Brigit's hand as suddenly she seems able to move twice as fast and feels as though she has the strength of a giant. She draws her broad sword and runs howling into the tunnel. Inspired, Felicia and Todd and Crys follow.

Jhere grows slowly weaker and suddenly collapses with a stroke as Elured reaches Alicia. Elured administers a potion of healing to Alicia. She casts a spell which causes her bleeding to stop. Then she tries to go to Ragnor's aid, but the wound re-opens and she collapses before she can reach him. Elured places a mirenna berry in her mouth. She again regains consciousness and stops the bleeding. She tries to use a flower from her wreath to heal Ragnor, but it withers rather than becoming a useful herb.

Kidd gives one of the manticores a shock, then follows up with a fire bolt

from his staff (doing some damage, for once).

Leia, with a little help from Todd, quickly dispatches one manticore while Felicia finishes off another. They advance deeper into the tunnel. The creatures have been dazed by the elemental spells hurled earlier by Crys and Leia. Unfortunately, as Leia and Felicia start to attack the next two beasts they discover that not all are incapable of action. Darts strike Felicia in the chest and Leia in the arm. Leia staggers, nearly blacking out from blood loss before suddenly being healed by Brigit. Kidd blurs the vision of Felicia's adversary. Leia and Todd finish off the one facing them. Leia uses her holy symbol to create a rain of fire deeper in the passage. The one that attacked them has vanished. Soon, the remaining ones are finished off between Felicia, Leia and Todd, with magical assistance from Crys and Kidd.

As the rain of fire reduces the last few to ash, we are healed of our cuts and bruises by the power of Brigit, channeled through her servant, Leia. Ragnor, however, still lays in a coma and Jhere suffers from the damage caused by her stroke. Alicia burns aliantha in her censer. It neutralizes the poison contained in the darts (although only Jhere seemed to be affected), cures any diseases we might be fighting and provides us with four weeks' nutrition. Jhere feels that her condition is somewhat improved, though her strength and motor coordination still have a long way to go.

Crys asks Leia if the rod is cursed; Leia concentrates and reports that she doesn't detect any. Elured searches the remains and pockets 7 silver pieces and 10 copper pieces. Trying to extract a poisoned dart from the tail of one, he gets it stuck in his hand. Fortunately, Crys gives him a potion that neutralizes poisons and he suffers no ill effects. He gives up trying to get some of the poison. Todd examines Crys' rod and is able to tell her that it was forged in a cavern not to far from here.

Leia leads a prolonged, intense prayer session on Ragnor's behalf. After about thirty minutes, a glowing pavilion appears. Leia enters Brigit's domain and receives her blessing. She asks for help for Ragnor. No reply seems forthcoming, so she thanks Brigit and leaves, intending to have him carried within. Before we can pick him up, the pavilion fades.

Leia attempts to get the direction of the Axe of the Dwarven Lords, but fails. Kidd mentally explores the tunnel ahead. The center path comes to a dead end. The right path must have some kind of trap, he expects we will be buried under fallen rock and dirt. The left path forks, and a swarm of bats prevents his full exploration. – - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801

From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Tue Aug 7 09:50:14 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: Re: The Quest for Axe of the Dwarven Lords (5) Keywords: story Date: 6 Aug 90 15:26:18 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

WE DECIDE THAT DISCRETION IS THE BETTER PART OF VALOR
TODD OPENS A DOOR & KIDD LOOKS INSIDE
LEIA & JHERE SHED SOME LIGHT
ALICIA MEETS A CAT; JHERE TURNS ON A FOUNTAIN
TODD & ELURED MAKE A RUN FOR IT

It is early morning on the 23rd day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~60 (we're in a great cavern ...)
wind:		0 mph (calm)

Jhere discards her food and water as an un-necessary burden thanks to the aliantha. We rest near the tunnel opening, hoping for Ragnor's speedy recovery.

We notice a bat flying out of the tunnel, but pay it no heed. We switch to a lantern as the torch burns out. Several hours have passed, enough so that it's probably dusk outside. It's quiet. Too quiet….

Alicia senses 10 creatures coming towards us from across the cavern. We douse the lantern and follow along the cavern wall away from the tunnel. Alicia turns into a thyfur, but in the dark cannot see to fly or land! Leia prays, igniting her holy symbol. The creatures pass us by. Alicia uses Leia's holy symbol as a guide and doesn't land too badly. Todd creeps blindly along the wall to the opening. He doesn't find the creatures.

Suddenly something grabs Jhere. She feints fainting (still not strong enough to fight). It turns out to be Todd.

We stay put for two uneventful nights. Todd and Kidd try to dream about the axe - Kidd dreams of perishing in a landslide and Todd has a bizarre dream of being swallowed by a fire-breathing dragon. Kidd tries to find a way through the tunnel, but keeps sensing fierce foes blocking the path.

Jhere's condition gradually improves and Ragnor recovers from his coma. Crys is still suffering from having overextended herself and cannot cast spells. We decide to go on anyway.

We penetrate about a hundred feet into the tunnel before stopping, sure that creatures lie in wait ahead.

Alicia uses one of Crystine's invisibility potions and casts a spell granting the ability to speak with animals. She tries unsuccessfully to persuade the bats that we are their friends, and that the should help us against the other creatures.

Kidd gives Ragnor a potion that will hopefully restore his vision, but no immediate improvement is noted. Leia steps around the curve of the corridor and changes into her ceremonial gown. She returns to the party and leads most of us in a prayer to Brigit for guidance, safety and deliverance. The men are especially attentive. Her gown is of fiery orange silk, embroidered with gold flames. It has long bat-wing sleeves, a high collar, a short train and is slit down to the navel in front. Her glowing holy symbol focuses much attention on that slit. Despite the impressive service, no guidance is received. While she changes back to her traveling clothes, Alicia offers a prayer to Mielikki, with no more success. After a heated debate, we decide to try another way in - a few of us are in favor of giving up the quest completely!

Alicia plucks a flower from her wreath, it transforms into grayish root - baldakur. She murmurs a blessing over it then prepares a cup of broth from it which she gives to Ragnor to drink. A moment later, he blinks. His vision is restored. He thanks Alicia.

Jhere guides us toward the remaining path into what we hope is the dwarven city. About a hundred feet from the tunnel Alicia warns us that eight large creatures await us at the limit of her range. Jhere confirms that that is where the path we seek lays.

Despite Crys' exhausted state (she still cannot cast spells), she advances to within 50 feet of the creatures, readying her staff of cold balls. Leia prays, causing her holy symbol to glow and advances to about 100 feet from the creatures, flanked by Kidd and Felicia. Alicia transforms into a thyfur. Jhere retreats back to the tunnel entrance. The creatures argue loudly among themselves, and don't seem to notice us. Too bad. Crys' cold ball and Leia's fire ball alert them to our presence, as well as weakening them a bit. We catch sight of huge doors beyond them. Leia blocks that path with a wall of flames. Kidd concentrates his attention on first one, then another of the foul monsters. Leia's fire spells illuminate the creatures enough so that we can identify them as ogres. Crys and Leia continue to alternate cold and fire spells for a few moments as Todd circles behind them and Ragnor and Elured close. Felicia misses with an arrow and switches to her battle axe. Ragnor's mighty maul makes mincemeat of the monsters as Todd gets in some deadly dagger attacks from behind and Elured and Felicia slice them with their blades. Alicia (in thyfur-form) strikes at them with her claws. Soon they all lay dead. The only injuries we've taken are when Alicia intercepted a fire bolt intended for one of the ogres (crippling her right wing) and Felicia fended off a flail with her head (losing her left ear).

As the battle with the ogres subsides, Jhere notices sounds echoing from the tunnel behind her: beastly growls and snarls, rocks crashing into walls and smacking into flesh, the soft "zing" of smaller missiles, the crunch of teeth and weapons against bone and gristle. With a furious flapping of wings, ten or twenty bats suddenly emerge from the opening. A few minutes later, the sounds grow less frequent, then cease, save for the occasional crunch of teeth on bone….

Alicia pulls a flower from her wreath, praying for something to heal her burns. The flower transforms into yellowish grass - alambas - over which she murmurs a spell. Twice. At her request, Crys finds the brass pot in Alicia's pack, fills it with water and heats it with a torch.

Crys gives Felicia a potion of minor vessel repair, which stops her bleeding. Leia's holy symbol illuminates Felicia's head, where her ear had been, and Brigit channels an ear regeneration spell through Leia. No immediate result is apparent.

Alicia boils the alambas in the pot. After it cools, she applies it to her burns - they heal instantly.

Meanwhile, Jhere returns from the tunnel entrance and tells us what she heard. She insists that there's no chance that we can get through that way.

Kidd concentrates on the doors facing us and says that there doesn't seem to be anyone on the other side. Todd concentrates and reports that he can't find any reason not to open the doors. So we try. The doors are each 15' square with elaborate carvings. Several party members recognize that the symbols are dwarven writing, but Crys can only make out the words "friend" and "home" and can't understand anything else. No one else can read dwarven at all. What we take to be hinges at the outer edges suggests that the doors swing outward but, after fruitlessly pulling and pushing on the doors for several minutes, we tell Ragnor to try to smash them with his maul.

He gives several mighty swings - the maul bounces off without so much as chipping or marring the surface! He tries the stone adjacent to the door, but the maul refuses to let him swing! Crys tells everyone to stand clear and aims the rod of the false gods at the doors, using the highest setting. Nothing seems to happen! She quietly puts it away.

Crys suggests that we search the lower portion of the door again as dwarves aren't very tall. We do and Todd discovers a hemispherical decoration about 18" in diameter that moves inward when he pushes on it. He pushes it all the way in - nothing happens. Ragnor locates the matching decoration on the other door and pushes it in. Everyone else has backed well away, but nothing happens. Todd and Ragnor push them simultaneously, with no result. Todd says to try first one then the other, so he pushes his in again and releases it. As Ragnor starts to push his in, the door in front of Todd swings silently open. Todd gets out of the way. When Ragnor releases his, the door before him also opens. We are very impressed with the engineering. The doors open soundlessly, though they are 4' thick and apparently haven't been opened in years. A thick, undisturbed layer of dust covers the floor inside.

The air has a stale smell to it. Todd steps a short ways inside and reports that the inside walls are smooth and without decoration, other than the mineral grain of the rock. He decides to come back out. Kidd seeks inward with his mind. He discovers regular passageways, massive doors and that the way to the right is blocked in all halls by rubble from some ancient upheaval. As he finishes he mental exploration, the doors swing closed. About ten minutes have passed since we got them open.

Alicia and Ragnor are elected to stay outside while we explore. They open the doors. Leia concentrates, attempting to find the direction to the "Axe of the Dwarven Lords". She does not locate it. Simultaneously, Kidd tries to mentally examine the rooms beyond the doors he'd noticed in his earlier mental probe of the ruins. He finds gems and weapons and varying degrees of discomfort in the four large chambers that lie beyond the first four pairs of doors.

Kidd leads us to the room he feels we should explore first. Unnoticed, Todd slips away to try his luck in one of the rooms from which Kidd has told us to stay away. Jhere, Kidd and Leia wait outside as Crys, Elured and Felicia enter the room. They discover that inserting their torch into a hole at the corner of the entrance causes a large section of the wall to glow, illuminating perhaps a sixth of the total room. Crys finds a large golden crystal and a huge purple one and puts them in her pouch. Felicia finds two reddish-brown stones and keeps them. Elured gets more and more frustrated at everyone finding things before he does. Felicia hears a rasping or scraping noise as we search …

Jhere and Kidd position themselves behind the door, ready to slam it shut. Leia prays, igniting her holy symbol. Jhere hands her torch to Kidd, so she can conserve her strength and concentration for the door. She feels warmth radiating against her chest. Reluctantly, she pulls out her holy symbol …

The group inside the room has inserted the torch into a different slot. The illumination reaches a stagnant fountain. Eight large creatures, with humanoid torsos, serpentine tails and wings, are draped on and around it. Their eyes stare balefully in our direction. Felcia has just picked up a huge blue cystal; she quickly inserts it into her pouch and begins to retreat from the room. Elured drops his pack and reaches for his sword. Crys sees an extraordinarily handsome man, dressed in black, near the back wall of the room. He gestures, smiles at her, and starts to walk toward her. We all notice an irregular rasping noise as something approaches

from the dark side of the room. Crys yanks out the torch.

Elured yells at her to put it back (we can't see them, but they can probably still see us). She does. The man has vanished, but a cloud of vapor floats rapidly toward the group from where he had been. Felicia, Elured and Crys try to run for the door as Leia steps through it. Calling on her sacred power she attempts to repel the cloud of vapor, seeing it for what it is - an undead - a vampire! The cloud envelopes Crys for a moment as Felicia and Elured make their escape. Then Crys gets out of the room, too, as the vampire hastily retreats as far as it can from Leia.

Jhere joins her in the doorway. Not just Leia's holy symbol is alight, she herself radiates a reddish glow. Another image, that of a fiery red woman seems superimposed over her own figure. Kidd notices the same phenomenon with Jhere, except that the second figure is blue instead of red. Almost shoulder to shoulder, the glowing figures step into the room, Jhere futilely fighting the compulsion that moves her. Now they can see a row of zombies marching forward from the rear, just barely illuminated by the glowing wall. A blast from Leia's holy symbol disolves them. A similar blast from Jhere's holy symbol briefly illuminates two stunning women in the darkest part of the room as one of them vanishes and the other begins to change shape.

Leia paces toward the left side of the room, followed closely by Felicia and Elured as Jhere heads toward the right (unlit) side. Jhere's aura casts sufficient light that she can easily walk without danger of tripping. Leia blasts a second row of zombies, they turn about and collide with the row behind them. A blue beam from Jhere's pedant causes the dissolution of a bat. The glowing figures penetrate deeper into the chamber.

A red beam from Leia's holy symbol destroys four zombies as a blue beam

from Jhere's does likewise. Jhere murmurs a prayer of protection to Freya

and again tries to fight the compulsion that ties her to this battle - to no avail.

Beams from their holy symbols dissolve the vampire that previously had run

from Leia and the last zombies as Elured scoops up the pack he'd dropped

and a nice-looking steel two-handed sword and a copper and silver arm band

from a nearby forge. They once again notice the creatures around the

fountain - still watching, waiting …

The compulsion that held Jhere passes, but the blue Lady aura is still about her. Thinking that she'd like to see the fountain in operation, she notices a wheel near the base on her side …

While we fight the undead, Todd reaches the door of a room that Kidd had warned us to stay away. He hesitates with his hand on the door handle. He steps back and concentrates, seeking inside with his mind. He finds gems and weapons lying about, but nothing that seems threatening … still, he remains uncomfortable about entering alone. He wavers for several minutes before finally going back to get his good friend, Elured.

  • * *

Meanwhile, Alicia suddenly feels something soft rubbing against her legs. Startled, she jumps away - how did it get to her without her being warned by her censer? A black cat, with eyes like glowing blue sapphires, meows plaintively at her and moves in to rub against her again. Alicia prays for communication with the animal and begins to talk in its tongue. It wants her to scratch it. She does for a bit, as tries to get it to answer her questions. It proves most uncooperative, but purrs contently when ever she scratches. It swipes at her holy symbol, playing with it while she holds it in her arms. Alicia grows angry and tosses the cat away from her, only to discover that it somehow takes her holy symbol! She makes threats at it and tries to invoke Mielikki's power … to no avail. Eventually, a rather amused Ragnor calls, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty." And hears a "meow" in reply. Alicia takes up the call and the cat is suddenly back at her legs. She picks it up and her holy symbol returns. She asks its name. It says, "Kkatttt … eri."

  • * *

Todd beckons to Elured from the door. Elured sheaths his old sword and carries his newly acquired one ready in his hands. Todd urges Elured to come with him and plunder another room. They slip away unnoticed.

  • * *

Jhere heads for the valve that might control the fountain. The geryons (the humanoid-torso'd serpent-bodied winged creatures within) prepare to greet her, weapons at the ready. Crys grabs the rod of the false gods from her pack and asks Felicia if she can borrow hers as well. Kidd readies his staff of fire bolts. The glows about Leia and Jhere are slowly diffusing, no longer giving the appearance of a double image. Felicia draws her bow and we attack the geryons. The battle holds a few surprises: Jhere is quite effective, despite the aftereffects of her stroke; Crys casts no spells, but instead blasts away with the two rods; only Crys takes any injury - the creatures attacking Leia and Jhere seem unable to harm them. Soon the geryons are all slain.

Jhere runs to the wheel and tries to turn it one way, then the other. The second choice is successful and she opens the valve fully. The fountain jets form a hauntingly beautiful abstract sculpture as the glow about Leia finally dims out and the one around Jhere blazes intensely before vanishing as well. Slowly the stagnant water and blood are drained from the fountain and the water runs clear.

Jhere persuades us to toss a donation to Freya into the fountain, joining the coins that already line the bottom. Jhere finds a tiara on a nearby forge and tosses that within. She seems to see the fountain light up, brilliant blue, leaving her dazed with a beatific expression on her face. Her quarterstaff is marked with new runes and she feels better than she has since her manticore poison induced stroke.

Crys gathers gems and jewelry from the remaining portion of the room. Some of the gems, she is able to identify, others she is not.

  • * *

Meanwhile, Todd and Elured play a game of "after you" at the door of the other room. Finally, Elured opens the door. He takes no more than a step inside before spinning about and running blindly down the hall screaming at the top of his lungs. Todd closes the door. Then drawn by the treasure and the realization that nothing actually seemed to have harmed Elured, he opens the door and cautiously pokes his head in. Elured's cries haven't fully faded in the distance before he joins in, following as fast as he is able, leaving the door ajar behind him. After bouncing blindly off dead-end passages, they reach the entrance to ruins and pound screaming at the massive doors, unheard by Ragnor and Alicia … – - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801

From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Thu Aug 9 08:16:26 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: Re: The Quest for the Axe of the Dwarven Lords (6) Keywords: story Date: 8 Aug 90 17:50:13 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

ELURED AND TODD BUILD A BONFIRE
ALICIA DISCOVERS THAT A CAT MIGHT HAVE 9 LIVES
TODD SEES A GHOST & RAGNOR MAULS IT OVER
JHERE AND FELICIA DISPOSE OF THE SPECTERS
ALICIA HEALS THE WOUNDED
ELURED OPENS A DOOR
TODD LEADS US INTO DANGER, THEN EXITS
TO THE VICTORS BELONG THE SPOILS

It is mid-morning on the 25th day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~60 (we're in the dwarven ruins ...)
wind:		0 mph (calm)

While Crys, Felicia, Jhere, Kidd and Leia discuss what to do next, the creatures freed by Elured and Todd begin to wander the ruins, scenting the life force of living beings. First Todd, then Elured, recovers from his fright. The flesh at the back of Leia's neck crawls, then Jhere tells everyone to be quiet, she thinks she hears something outside the room. Kidd goes to investigate, just in time to close the door, with Felicia's help, barring a hoard of pallid, deformed undead, with terrible fangs and cruel claws, from entering. Leia and Jhere start to pray; soon both of their holy symbols are aglow with power….

Elured heads back to where he dropped his sword, but encounters the roving ghouls before he reaches it. He turns about and runs back to Todd. Side by side, Todd with his dagger and Elured with his greatsword, they face the onslaught of the undead. Todd ignites the first to fall using his torch. They kick or throw additional bodies onto the pyre as the ghouls fall to their prowess….

Alicia decides to determine if Kateri has a life essence and concentrates. The cat does indeed … and the power of its essence is so awesome that Alicia is stunned for nearly two minutes! Alicia and Ragnor decide that enough time has passed and proceed to open the doors. As the doors swing open, Alicia sees the ghouls and yells out to Elured and Todd and they beat a hasty retreat. Kateri bounds out of sight as Alicia strings her bow and Ragnor grabs his maul. Soon more ghouls join the burning pile….

Crys begins a systematic search of the walls of the room, seeking another exit….

Alicia retreats, moving behind Elured. Unfortunately this creates an opening for the ghouls, who begin to surround the small group. Todd leaps over them, back into the ruins, intending to run for help. Instead, something so frightens him that he runs the opposite direction, screaming. Ragnor and Elured both go down under the fangs and claws of the undead; Alicia prays fervently for help from Mielikki as the pyre gutters out. In the darkness, *something* strikes out at the remaining ghouls, as fearsome to them as they are to the living. They cower away from its fury….

Crys can find no other exit. Kidd carefully pushes the door open with Jhere pulling back on it. Jhere yanks it closed, shuddering, when they find the ghouls still waiting outside. Crys decides to search the fountain. Kidd comes over to assist her. After several moments concentration, he assures her that the water is much too turbulent to permit their passage. The group decides to face the inevitable and takes up positions in a semi-circle around the doorway….

Todd recovers from his fright and, steeling his nerves, starts back up the corridor. Opposite the entrance to the ruins his way is blocked by a ghost! Todd attacks ineffectually with his dagger and soon lies unconscious, his lifeblood trickling away….

Ragnor levers himself upright with his hammer. He can just make out the silhouette of ghoul cowering by the door. A few moments later the ghoul and the last of its cohorts lie crushed by blows from the maul. Elured slowly regains consciousness as Ragnor douses one of the bodies with oil and carefully ignites it with a spark from his tinder box. He pushes a couple more of the corpses into the new pyre before he notices the ghost … and Todd's torch lying on the ground. As he closes with the ghost, another joins it! But a mighty swing of his maul dispatches the first and nearly the second as well! Another undead, seeming little more than a tattered cloak and glowing white orbs (a specter), hurls a lightning bolt at Ragnor, then rapidly retreats, having been grievously injured by a blow from his maul. The ghost and specter attack Ragnor, stunned from the lightning bolt he can only parry, but they do him no further damage. As the ghost finally fades out from the aftereffects of the blow that Ragnor struck earlier, Ragnor recovers enough to step around the corner. The specter follows, careful to keep him in sight, but out of reach. As the specter comes into view, Alicia and Elured, who had been piling bodies onto the fire, scream and run blindly into the center of the great cavern….

	CRYS PERFORMS A VANISHING ACT

It is mid-morning on the 25th day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~60 (we're in the dwarven ruins ...)
sky:		??
wind:		0 mph (calm)

Elured and Alicia finally recover from their fright … after splashing through the stream that runs through the center of the great cavern. Elured manages to get a torch lit and calls out for Alicia. Alicia sets out toward him, buts slips in a crevice and breaks her wrist, losing consciousness from the pain. Elured jogs in the direction he heard her cry out….

Ragnor tosses the last of the ghoulish bodies into the fire, then starts chasing the specter. The specter keeps backing up to stay out of the reach of Ragnor's maul, so it doesn't have time to aim its lightning bolts. Todd follows in Ragnor's wake, lighting their way with a torch. Suddenly, Ragnor is hit by a lightning bolt - the specter has been joined by another….

Jhere tries to cautiously push her door open using her quarterstaff, and fails. Felicia flings hers open, then runs in fear at the sight of the ghouls. Crys also flees. Kidd uses his fire bolt staff, Leia summons the power of Brigit and Jhere takes a couple of shots with her bow. Only a few ghouls survive the initial attack, but they are quickly joined by three ghosts and a specter! Leia collapses, struck by a lightning bolt from the specter, but taking a ghoul with her. A ghost closes with Jhere and she switches to her quarterstaff, and is able to hold her own for the moment. Crys fires the rod of the false gods at the specter, but nothing happens! She is hit by a lightning bolt as the specter turns its attention to her. Felicia, her battle axe raised, closes with a ghost, as Crys again tries the rod against the specter. The rod explodes! Crys, a ghost that had moved to attack her, and part of the fountain vanish. Water pours out toward the back of the chamber….

Elured finds Alicia, tosses her to his shoulder and starts to walk back to the dwarven ruins. As he reaches the pyre that Ragnor built, it flickers out. And Alicia's eyes flicker open….

Elured drops Alicia by the entrance as she painfully recovers consciousness. As she gropes through her herbs for a remedy, Kateri comes up and begins licking her injured wrist. Almost instantly, the pain fades and in moments it seems as though it were never injured. As she strokes the cat's fur in gratitude, she notices her censer glowing faintly - Elured has moved so far away that the torch sheds no light here. Alicia says a prayer to Mielikki and joins Elured, with Kateri padding silently beside her.

They head cautiously into the ruins. After a bit, they come upon Todd, Ragnor and two specters. None of them are moving at all. Elured tries to chop one of the specters with his sword, but the blade passes through it without doing any damage. They continue to the chamber where Elured had last seen the rest of the group. Again Alicia and Elured find a motionless tableau. Water from the broken fountain waits unmoving at the back of the room. Suddenly Alicia notices Leia lying mortally wounded by a ghoul and rushes to her side. As she plucks a flower from her wreath, she hears the gushing of the fountain and everyone starts to move again.

Felicia takes a mighty swing at a nearby ghost and causes it to dissipate. Jhere similarly dispatches a ghost with her quarterstaff. Kidd blasts the last ghoul into flame with his staff of fire bolts. Alicia's flower becomes a mirenna berry. She burns it in her censer. The fumes are so potent that Alicia's and Leia's life forces are greatly strengthened and the unnatural existence of a ghoul is terminated - it collapses into a pile of old bones.

Meanwhile, the specters outside make short work of Ragnor and Todd, blasting them with lightning bolts before they can do any damage. Elured, who had left the room to aid them, soon meets the same fate. One of the specters fades out due to injuries Ragnor had inflicted in the one blow he'd been able to strike (much earlier), and the other glides toward the chamber. As it does, Ragnor's maul strikes it from behind. The specter whirls to face its foe, but no one is standing!

Inside, Jhere is twice struck by lightning bolts but, aided by Freya, she strikes back at the specter with her staff as Felicia chops at it with her battle axe. Soon it dissolves into nothingness, only to be replaced by the remaining specter from outside. Felicia finishes that one off with a swipe of her battle axe, but is blasted by a lightning bolt from its cold orbs before the specter disappears.

Jhere channels power to Alicia, so that she can cause an alambas poultice she has prepared (from another flower in her wreath) to function instantly. Otherwise, despite her best efforts, Leia will die. It works!

While the effort to revive Leia is under way, something closes the wounds of Todd, Ragnor and Elured. The party gathers outside and exchanges herbs and potions to revive the unconscious and heal much of the injuries we've taken in the battle. Ragnor revives first, and is surprised to find the "Maul of the Titans" resting near Elured. He looks back and forth between the two before finally shaking his head and picking up the hammer. Elured, once he comes to, reminds Todd that the door they'd opened is still that way and they head up the corridor to take care of it. Todd closes the door as Elured picks up his dropped sword. Todd fixes Elured with a knowing look, but Elured denies that that was the reason for the trip.

Kidd and Felicia race to the main entrance. We join them shortly. They didn't make it in time - we're closed in.

While we ponder our next move, Jhere calls out to Kateri. To Alicia's consternation, the cat responds by coming over to Jhere, who strokes its fur. Kateri purrs and looks quite pleased….

Todd finds torch holders in all four corners of the intersection. He sticks a lit torch into one and, as expected, the wall lights up in both directions. The glow is uniformly orange, except in the middle of the wall leading to the entrance. There he finds a brown circle about a foot in diameter. Lighting the opposite wall from a torch holder reveals the same pattern. Elured marks that spot and Ragnor switches the torch back to the other holder. Todd and Elured try pushing the walls at the indicated places. Nothing seems to happen at first, then Elured's hand suddenly sinks into the wall and the door on his side swings open. Led by Jhere, we make a hasty exit.

Alicia is offended that the cat seems to enjoy Jhere's attentions at least as much as her own. She refuses to talk to Jhere.

Ragnor offers his fur-lined boots to Elured, to replace the ones destroyed by one of the lightning blasts. Elured accepts, they fit perfectly. Kidd ends up offering his fur-lined boots to Jhere, to use in place of her sandals. Jhere tries them on and finds that they fit well enough and that they're much warmer. She thanks Kidd.

We spend the night just outside the entrance to the ruins. Kidd tries to dream about getting to the Axe. He sees a corridor, about half as wide as the ones that we've explored. It slopes down steeply then is blocked by a cave-in. In his dream, he digs and digs and digs…. Finally, he emerges into a natural tunnel. He wanders a bit before finding a large cavern. In the cavern, beyond a huge column, he sees an axe of marvelous workmanship lying on the floor.

After we've rested, Kidd relates his dream. Todd decides to seek an opening into the corridor of Kidd's dream through the rooms we've encountered. We open the great doors once again. Kateri leaps from Jhere's shoulders and disappears into the ancient delvings. Todd steps into the doorway and goes into a trance. After several minutes he tells us that he found many weapons of fabulous quality, including battle axes, a dagger, and a two-handed sword, in one of the rooms. He did not find any hidden entrances, though.

The doors swing shut as their automatic time limit is reached. Alicia and Jhere are upset that Kateri has not returned. A few minutes later, the cat rubs up against Alicia legs….

Leia, Kidd and Felicia give potions of healing to Jhere, Todd and Ragnor. After extensive debate, we decide to give Todd's room a try. Jhere argues vigorously against going and finally goes in only because everyone else is. Todd consumes a potion of heroism and his enthusiasm for the venture rises. Todd and Ragnor get the doors open and lead the way. Kateri pads quickly and silently ahead of the party.

When we reach the room, Kidd concentrates and, after he recovers from being stunned by Kateri's astonishing life force, he tells us that there are five sentient beings just inside the room and to the left of the door. Alicia tries to determine if they're living, but can't detect anything. She's tells us to expect undead. Todd opens the left door and Leia hurls a ball of fire from her glowing holy symbol into the approximate area that Kidd designates. Kateri slips unseen into the room before Kidd slams the door shut.

Kidd reports that there are still five creatures inside. We decide to charge into the room.

Todd goes first diving and rolling into a crouch several feet from the door. Ragnor follows, without the theatrics. Kidd goes next, fitting his torch into the holder by the left door and illuminating that wall and about a quarter of the chamber. Felicia, Leia and Elured enter the room as the other door is opened by Alicia. Alicia and Jhere pause at the threshhold. The five creatures turn out to be mummies, but before we can close with them, one vanishes in a brilliant flash. Leia strikes at three of the remaining ones with simultaneous fire bolts.

As Ragnor moves closer to the mummies, we notice a glowing column, perhaps 15' from the mummies, approximately 8' tall and 4' in circumference, so bright that we can't look directly at it. The column moves as Ragnor comes between it and the mummies. Todd tries to circle widely so that he can approach unnoticed (actually, so he can grab the dagger he sensed was in the back of the chamber. Felicia and Elured, both, head for the nearest mummy. Alicia shoots an arrow at the glowing column; it misses.

Another mummy vanishes in a sudden flash. Kidd hits one with a fire bolt

from his staff. Felicia and Elured make short work of one, as Ragnor hits

another, squashing it. Todd runs screaming from the room - we can't see what frightened him. Alicia moves in looking for a clear shot with her bow. The column moves rapidly toward her. Jhere insists that the column is Kateri; Kidd quips that it's a guardian angel. Ragnor, Elured and Felicia destroy the last mummy. There is a flash in the darkness near Alicia - she goes racing from the room, screaming with fright. Leia steps toward the center of the room. The column glides closer to her. Another light flares briefly in the darkness. As Leia looks toward that spot, several daedhels emerge from the darkness behind her.

Jhere shouts out a warning to Leia. She whirls about and hurls a bolt of flame into the on-rushing demon. Felicia is not so lucky; preoccupied with searching for another torch holder, she doesn't react to the demon until too late. Her leg is severed by a magical invocation and she falls to the ground unconscious, her lifeblood spurting from the wound. Elured has his arm broken similarly, Kidd is stunned and Ragnor suddenly realizes that he better get out of here fast and tries to slip away quietly.

A sudden burst of light marks the demise of another phantom (they never reach the rest of us, but Todd and Alicia unfortunately got too close).

Ragnor's path is intercepted by a demon who strikes before he can, slashing Ragnor's arm and stunning him. Kidd blasts a demon with his staff of fire bolts, Jhere clobbers one with her quarterstaff and Leia hits another with a fire bolt. Despite his injury, Elured manages to hack a demon with his new two-handed sword. There is another brilliant flash as the last phantom is unmade, then everything goes dark. Something reattaches the bones and blood vessels between Felicia's left leg and her body, stopping the blood loss. The demon slashes at her, bringing her closer to the final night. The demon attacking Jhere misses. Jhere continues to pray fervently to Freya and swings blindly, striking something with a satisfying crunch.

Elured concentrates and his arm begins to heal. The darkness lifts and we can see again. Jhere discovers she has killed her adversary and rushes to Ragnor's aid. Leia attacks using her broadsword. Ragnor's and Felicia's opponents continue to hack at them. Kidd blasts another demon with his staff. We suddenly have our strength renewed [all concussion hits restored] and carry on the fight with new vigor. Felicia regains consciousness in a blaze of pain. Disoriented she looks up at the demon that has been striking at her and becomes convinced that it's her friend!

Leia finishes off Ragnor's assailant with a swing of her sword as Kidd does in another with a fire bolt. Jhere closes on the demon poised over Felicia Felicia cries out in agony as the nerves and muscles of her leg are rejoined by a another spell and then again to Jhere not to hurt her friend. Jhere is momentarily taken aback, but as the demon turns toward her, she raps it with her quarterstaff anyway. Moments later, she kills the demon with another blow and Felicia sobs over the broken body. Ragnor slips quietly away while we're not looking. Todd and Elured scavenge gems, jewelry and assorted weapons from the room. When Felicia comes to her senses, she picks up two fancy axes that Todd points out. Alicia sheepishly makes her way back into the room then, standing in the middle of the room, she concentrates for several minutes, seeking traces of magical power.

Elured is pleased to hear that his new sword is magical. A dagger that Todd thought would be, is not. A battle axe that Felicia had ignored is, and she adds that to her collection. Jhere looks for Kateri, but the cat is nowhere to be found. Eventually we notice that the glowing column and Ragnor are also gone. – - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801

From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Mon Aug 13 11:07:15 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: Re: The Quest for the Axe of the Dwarven Lords (7) Keywords: story Date: 10 Aug 90 14:48:06 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

[Several people have requested descriptions of the PCs … the events in this adventure took place during 1988 and the first half of 1989 … the following information is a reconstruction based on the data available to me and my recollections … classes & levels are based on ICEs "Character Law"]

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Alicia level 4 animist Sex: female Height: 4' 11" Hair Color: blond Race: human Weight: 94 pounds Eye Color: blue Age: 17 (young adult)


Crystine (aka Crystal) level 8 magician Sex: female Height: 6' 1"? Hair Color: blond? Race: human Weight: 150? pounds Eye Color: blue? Age: 19?


Elured Cise level 5 healer Sex: male Height: 6' 0" Hair Color: dark brown Race: human Weight: 187 pounds Eye Color: black Age: 16 (young adult)


Felicia level 6 fighter Sex: female Height: 6' 4" Hair Color: blond Race: human Weight: 160 pounds Eye Color: green Age: 18 (young adult)


Jhere Bremor level 6 ranger Sex: female Height: 5' 10" Hair Color: light brown Race: human Weight: 162 pounds Eye Color: brown Age: 26 (mature)


Kidd R. Uing level 6 mentalist Sex: male Height: 5' 5.5" Hair Color: auburn Race: human Weight: 150 pounds Eye Color: green Age: 25 (mature)


Leia level 8 cleric Sex: female Height: 5' 1" Hair Color: black Race: human Weight: 98 pounds Eye Color: blue Age: 27 (mature)


Ragnor (aka Raphael I. Ponti) level 8 fighter Sex: male Height: 6' 3" Hair Color: shaven Race: human Weight: 187 pounds Eye Color: gray Age: 23 (mature)


Todd Awir level 5 seer Sex: male Height: 5' 10" Hair Color: red Race: human Weight: 177 pounds Eye Color: brown Age: 20 (young adult)


LEIA FINDS A WAY & RAGNOR MAKES A HOLE
WE FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE, WALK SOFTLY AND CARRY BIG STICKS
WE DISPATCH SOME EARTH ELEMENTALS
ELURED AND ALICIA SMOOTH THE WAY
FELICIA GETS THE AXE OF THE DWARVEN LORDS!

It is early morning on the 26th day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~60 (we're in the dwarven ruins ...)
wind:		0 mph (calm)

Leia once again goes into a trance to try to locate the axe. We lead her around the room then around the ruins. Once she locates it, we continue, until we're able to triangulate the exact position. At the point where we seem to be closest, we stop and discuss our next move.

We've not found the path of Kidd's dream and the axe seems to be about 20-30' below and off to one side from where we are. Leia decides to hold a formal ceremony invoking Brigit's aid. Jhere holds up Leia's cloak as a screen while she changes into her priestess' gown.

Leia recites a psalm in praise of Brigit as Felicia and Todd gather close and the rest look on respectfully (though Ragnor is still missing):

"She wakes up dancing with fire
 Driving out the darkness
 Lighting up the day.
 Warm us, oh mighty Brigit.
 She walks alongside violence
 Ripeness of the afternoon
 Powerful river of burning fire
 The blazing sun.
 She burns like fire in the hearth,
 everywhere at once.
 Shelter us in your flaming embrace,
 Turn our enemies from us.
 Great Brigit, yes."

She follows with a request for Brigit's guidance and her holy symbol glows brightly in response. Slowly, the wall of the corridor vanishes, revealing a stone pathway to a glowing pavilion. Without hesitation, Leia steps into it. Todd attempts to follow her, but finds himself back in the corridor.

l] Leia enters Brigit's holy dominion of fire. There she supplicates l] Brigit's aid in finding a path to the Axe of the Dwarven Lords. l] A three dimensional map impresses itself on her mind. It takes a l] while before she can assimilate the information and make sense of l] it. Then she studies the map, seeking a route to the axe and finds l] several - all blocked by the massive cave-in that we've already l] encountered. She thanks Brigit and leaves the pavilion, bringing l] with her a perfect memory of the map.

Over six hours pass as we wait for Leia's return. Jhere wants to enter the pavilion, but the altar burns brightly with Brigit's flame - denying her entrance. We discuss what to do about Ragnor - clearly something is wrong. Finally, Leia returns and tells what she's learned. We decide to dig down to a natural corridor below us. Leia knows where we should make the attempt. Felicia and Alicia set out to try to persuade Ragnor to rejoin us. With the Maul of the Titans, he should be able to knock a hole through more quickly than we can hope to dig it. Unnoticed, Jhere slips quietly into the glowing pavilion.

j] Jhere finds herself standing by a lake with stepping stones j] forming a penta-star in the middle. One of the points of j] the penta-star is just within jumping distance. Her holy j] symbol is still glowing. The ambiant temperature is quite j] comfortable. The colors are so sharp it looks "unreal": j] the water is crystal blue, with no sign of a bottom; the j] stepping stones are mirror-like silver; there's no sun, but j] a rainbow arches perfectly overhead in a deep blue sky. She j] seems to be standing on the shore, but no surface is visible j] beneath her feet. Looking down, she feels as though she's j] standing on nothing!

j] Jhere instinctively jumps for what seems solid - the stepping j] stones. She thinks she's going to miss the stone and land in j] the water … but she makes it.

j] Feeling much more secure and relaxed, and mentally as well as j] physically peaceful, she attempts to step gracefully from j] stone to stone till she reaches the center of the penta-star. j] Standing on the center stepping stone, the oddest thing happens j] when she looks back along the way she came … she seems to be j] looking down a long, long tunnel with a bright light at the end, j] but she can't make out any details. In fact, she has the same j] experience when she looks along any of the radii … just like j] her first visit to the pavilion.

j] She shrugs her pack off and carefully places it near the edge j] of the center stone by the arm leading back the way she came. j] She then places her bow and staff carefully at her feet, kneels j] by the edge and clasps her holy symbol and starts to pray…

j] "Oh, Freya, mightiest, yet gentliest of powers, you know j] my heart and mind. We've always been close (yet j] distant). In all things in love and nature and water j] I have always followed thy will.

j] I did thy bidding when you had me seek the alien j] abominations and join this young and often foolish j] (though definitely courageous) party whose willingness j] to foresake their lives has been proven over and over…

j] Forgive me for so arrogantly denying thy will that I be j] more directly involved in channeling your powers. Thank j] you for thy symbol of your power, protection and love. j] Thank you for providing me with an instrument to carry j] out your will.

j] I beseach thee. Grant me enlightment to understand and j] use, to your honor and glory, these manifestations of j] your universal strength. Help me help the party survive j] their quest.

j] All honor be done to thee!"

j] And she reverently dips her hand in and takes a sip of the water. j] A feeling, as of a gentle massage, ripples through her body. And j] all her tensions ease away. She finds that she now understands j] all the capabilities of her rune-carved staff.

j] She again thanks Freya and dips her (still glowing) holy symbol j] into the water. She turns and picks up her weapons and starts j] back along the way she'd come. Suddenly, someone appears at the j] far end of the row of stepping stones and starts toward Jhere. j] The newcomer is a woman about Jhere's height and weight, with hair j] nearly the same shade of light brown. She's wearing a jerkin of j] soft leather, has a short bow slung over her shoulder and wields j] a quarterstaff in her hands. As she draws closer, Jhere feels as j] though she's looking at her twin. Suddenly Jhere realizes that j] the newcomer is going to attack her!

j] Jhere braces for the woman's attack, and yells, "STOP!" as the j] woman reaches the stone just before the middle. The woman doesn't j] stop….

j] Jhere is not going to allow herself to be blindly attacked by j] something that appears to be her. But she waits for it to strike j] first and only defends herself, hoping for an opportunity to j] wrestle the creature to the ground and disarm it.

j] Jhere deflects the first swing. The second swing catches her on j] her forearm. Jhere continues to parry. Regardless of who or why j] she's being attacked, she feels it's wrong to be fighting there j] especially with something that may indeed be "her" in some other j] incarnation….

j] Jhere deflects most of the next blow. She gets an opening and grabs j] at her adversary, attempting to toss her into the water, but misses. j] Her "twin" makes her pay dearly for the attempt, striking her soundly j] across the forearm and flicking the other end of the staff into j] Jhere's stomach. Stunned, Jhere drops her staff and totters at the j] edge of the stepping stone. The next blow cracks a rib and knocks her j] unconsious into the lake….

j] Jhere awakens, floating in the lake, fully healed. Her attacker is j] fitting an arrow to her bow. Jhere dives under the water as Jhere's j] "twin" shoots. The shot misses! Jhere swims toward the stone, hoping j] it's platelike and not a pillar, with the idea of trying to rock it j] sharply and knock her foe off balance and into the water. The j] stepping stone seems to be about a foot thick and four feet in j] diameter, floating on the surface. Jhere grabs the edge, but can't j] budge it!

j] On realizing she won't be able to tip the stone and that she is j] running out of air and is increasingly weighed down by her soggy j] clothes (especially Kidd's fur boots), she continues to swim under j] the stone to the other side and strongly pulls herself up and lunges j] for her foe's ankles either to shove her into the water or to pull j] her feet out from under her and tackle her. Jhere gets kicked in j] the jaw and knocked back into the water as she tries to climb onto j] the stone. The wound heals immediately. Her adversary readies j] another arrow …

j] Jhere takes a deep breath and sinks and swims under and behind her j] foe, having noted which side her quarterstaff is lying on and again j] quickly lunges up onto the stone rolling for her staff. Jhere rams j] her staff into her adversary's thigh, bruising her badly. Jhere's j] foe staggers but doesn't fall as Jhere rolls to her feet. Jhere is j] too close for her "twin" to be able to shoot, so the "twin" drops j] her bow and grabs for her quarterstaff.

j] At this point Jhere, holding her quarterstaff horizontally in front j] of her leaps at her "twin". Caught in the act of picking up her own j] staff, the "twin" cannot parry. Jhere's attack cracks ribs and j] smashes the twin's nose, she falls into the water, unconscious. And j] disappears.

j] Jhere falls to her knees by the edge of the stone and looks over the j] side looking for her "twin". And she starts to cry. In shock and j] fear and anger. She sits back and pulls off her boots and wrings j] them out as best she can and pulls her bow over next to her. Then she j] looks for the "twin's" bow and staff and finds that they are gone. j] Kneeling, she again prays to Freya, thanking her for preserving her j] her and asking for enlightenment about what has transpired. Then j] Jhere pulls the boots (they're dry!) back on and starts back down the j] arm of the penta-star. She reaches the last stone and, trusting her j] memory and Freya, leaps outward …

Jhere, her clothes dry, emerges moments after she enters, before anyone has a chance to miss her. Meanwhile, Alicia and Felicia play tag with Ragnor in the hallways of the ruins. Finally, they get him to listen to what the have to say. After much persuasion, Ragnor agrees to follow Felicia back to the rest of us. Felicia keeps thinking that it would have been a lot easier if Alicia would have listened to her and shown Ragnor some leg. Ragnor still won't approach the party too closely and, when Kidd comes out to talk with him, just keeps backing away. Kidd concentrates (twice) and Ragnor suddenly takes a great liking to him. Kidd asks his good friend Ragnor to knock a hole in the floor at the spot Leia indicates. And, after the rest of us step back (so he knows we're not going to jump him), he knocks a hole all the way through with a single blow! The opening is a little over three feet in diameter and at least ten feet deep - our torches don't show the bottom.

Alicia leans over the opening and then tells us that she doesn't detect any activity below. Elured says we ought to wait a while (like a few hours so his arm can finish healing), so we can be sure nothing comes to investigate.

We decide to rest the night to give Elured's arm a chance to finish healing and so that we recover our full strength before entering the caves below. We keep a careful watch over the hole, but nothing comes out of it. In fact, the night passes without event, other than Ragnor slipping away again.

This time we send Kidd, Alicia and Todd out to get him. When they find him, Kidd again manages to cast a charm on Ragnor so that he'll come along.

Meanwhile, Leia prepares to sacrifice a gem that Elured has given her to Brigit. Elured tries unsuccessfully to make a similar sacrifice to Diancecht.

We gather around as Leia offers her prayer. The gem vanishes with a brilliant flash of fire. Ragnor is cured and Elured finds that the world suddenly goes silent. We find that Elured can't make a sound and give thanks to Leia and Brigit.

Todd suggests that Leia hurl a fireball into the hole before we start down. Kidd and Alicia check and, to no one's surprise, they discover that something waits below. Leia uses her holy symbol to throw a fireball. An instant later fire blasts those of us gathered near the hole. Ragnor takes the worst injury, losing the use of his left arm.

But the power released from the gem still lingers, suddenly Ragnor's arm is healed. Leia wonders what kind of monster lays in wait and the answer pops into her head - demon dogs! She calls on Brigit to dispell the beasts and the howling that began when Leia cast her fireball abruptly quiets. We lower a lantern on a rope. The beasts below stare balefully up at the hole, but don't move. Cautiously, Felicia slides down. She is not attacked. Jhere follows. And then the rest of us. Only Elured slips, falling more than half the distance and shattering his wrist.

A moment later his wrist his healed, as Leia holy symbol flashes. Jhere prays silently, invoking Freya's aid to increase the might of Ragnor's attacks. And so, the battle ends anti-climatically as Ragnor smashes each of the demon dogs, one at a time, with the maul. Felicia and Todd join in on the last one in a frenzy of violence.

Just as we kill the last of the demon dogs, a whirling ball of earth comes around the corner, hurtling rapidly toward us. More follow, forming a line, like beads on a string. Only these beads are 5' in diameter and anything but pretty. They are earth elementals.

Leia prays for Brigit's divine intervention. Jhere prays to Freya. Both holy symbols grow brighter. Felicia swings her new battle axe, but as she strikes, the elemental entraps her left arm. Leia hurls a fire bolt from her holy symbol, Elured swings his sword, Kidd fires a fire bolt from his staff, Ragnor fumbles his maul and Alicia fumbles an arrow. Todd leaps up "behind" one the elementals and stabs with his dagger. Felicia's arm is released by the elemental that was holding it. Ragnor pounds one back into the ground that gave it birth. Leia turns one to dust with an enchantment passed from Brigit. Elured slashes with his sword again. Jhere crushes the nearest elemental with a blow from her staff (though it deals her a minor bruise in exchange). Alicia misses with an arrow. Todd stabs at another with his dagger, after leaping onto it from behind. Leia, with Brigit's guidance, turns another to dust. Ragnor smashes another into the cave floor. Elured is stunned by an elemental, as Jhere slams into it with her staff. Alicia is swallowed up by one - the swirling particles sever her windpipe! Todd stabs it with his dagger, but it doesn't release it's hold. Leia turns it to dust, still blazing with Brigit's power. Elured begins to recover from his injuries and slashes the elemental that hurt him. Jhere finishes it with a terrific wallop from her quarterstaff. Leia prays for Alicia's life and an orange glow bathes Alicia's throat closing the wound.

The elementals have all been destroyed. Leia offers a prayer of thanks and asks for our speedy recovery from our injuries. Everyone suddenly feels refreshed and invigorated.

Felicia can barely restrain herself. We are at last so close to the end of her quest. She leads us quickly around the last turns to the cavern where the Axe of the Dwarven Lords lies waiting. As she rounds the final turn, she is struck by a lightning bolt!

She somehow staggers back to us. Kidd concentrates on what lies ahead - he finds a swirling column of earth, 10' in diameter and roughly 15' high, just beyond the cavern entrance. In the center of the cavern, a marvelous axe lies on the floor.

Felicia heads in again, with Kidd at her side. A pit opens beneath their feet and they fall to the bottom. Through magical means Kidd lands unharmed, but Felicia is not so lucky. As Kidd digs through his pack for a rope to tie on her so he can pull her out of the pit, he hears a cracking noise overhead. He looks up as the cavern ceiling caves in….

Hearing the crash, we dare to glance around the corner and see the ruin that marks the demise of our companions. Leia takes one of her earrings and offers a prayer to Brigit:

"Oh Brigit, Great Keeper of the Fire.
 Yea though we walk through this cavern of darkness,
 We fear no evil.
 For you are with us.
 Guide us, protect us and aid us in our quest.
 Oh Great Brigit,
 You are our one and only flame."

The gemstone from her earring vanishes in a flash of flame and her ring glows brightly again, indicating the presence of divine power. She utters a plea to Brigit on behalf of Kidd and Felicia….

The rock that piled upon becomes a fine powder. An implosion sucks the powder away leaving only their bodies in the pit. Todd crawls toward them but can't reach them before he's stunned, doubled up in pain by some unseen force….

On his second attempt he reaches them and exhausts his magical abilities by levitating them from the pit; pushing them toward us once they clear the top of the pit. Then he crawls from the pit himself.

Meanwhile, Jhere invokes Freya's aid for Kidd as Leia calls on Brigit to save Felicia. Their holy symbols glow blue and orange, respectively, then their patients are likewise bathed in glowing light. They begin to breathe again, though Kidd takes a bit longer to regain consciousness.

Todd hurls a dagger at the swirling column, missing it, before ducking back around the corner to rejoin us. Now that Felicia has regained consciousness, Leia focuses her attention on the column as well, blasting it with three bolts of fire from her holy symbol….

Though apparently unaffected by Leia's fire bolts, the swirling column (an earth guardian) responds by causing a wall of earth to form, blocking us from the corner.

Ragnor starts to pound his way through the wall with his maul….

Elured offers a large amber stone to Diancecht with a prayer to aid the party in completing Felicia's quest. The stone disappears with a bright flash - everyone is suddenly healed of their injuries. Felicia's broken ribs mend instantly as the injury is transferred to Elured (who suddenly regrets the phrasing of his prayer). Elured concentrates to initiate the healing of his ribs and withdraws to the back of the group.

Ragnor stops his assault on the wall long enough to find out who healed him. He is astonished to discover that it was Elured's doing, then he thanks him.

Alicia and Jhere ask if anyone has picked up gems suitable for sacrifice to their deities. Todd and Elured each turn a peridot over to Alicia. No one seems to have found an opal, to Jhere's disappointment.

Alicia offers both gems to Mielikki with a prayer to help Felicia get the Axe. The gems vanish in a blaze of green light. A breeze starts to blow past us toward the earthen wall. The wind picks up until it reaches gale force. We cling desperately to the passage walls. The earth wall rapidly wears down and the wind dies down as well. As we catch our breath, a fog begins to form. Soon the mist reduces our vision to arm's length.

Felicia drinks a potion of speed that Leia gives her and creeps carefully forward. When she reaches the pit, she lowers herself down. The wind has piled so much dirt into the bottom that she can reach the rim. The soft dirt silences her steps. When she reaches the opposite side, she hauls herself out and presses closely to the cavern wall. Her view is totally obscured by the mist. Clinging to the wall, she goes far enough to believe she has past the earth guardian, then heads out at an angle toward where she hopes the Axe lies. A few steps take her right to the column! She quickly heads back to the wall. A tremor shakes the ground, loose rocks fall all about. Somehow, we escape injury. She follows the wall a bit further, then heads toward the center of the cavern again. Amazingly her sense of direction is so good that she nearly trips over the Axe!

She picks it up, dropping the one she'd been carrying. The Axe of the Dwarven Lords feels warm to her touch, as though it were alive! As she picks up the Axe, the fog begins to dissipate. She jogs back the way she'd come. With the potion's aid, she clears the pit and rounds the corner before the mist lifts enough to reveal her to the swirling column.

She tells us that it's time to clear out and leads the way, but before we reach the first turn, our way is blocked by a line of earth elementals. She strikes the first one with the Axe - it collapses into the earth from which it was formed. Ragnor moves up to stand beside her as Felicia chops into the second elemental, destroying it. But she was hit by its fringe and hesitates and the next approaches. Ragnor pounds it with the maul and is bashed in return by the elemental. A moment later Felicia finishes it off as Ragnor recovers. The next rolls toward them…. – - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801

From bwr@cbnewsj.att.com Tue Aug 14 08:32:59 1990 From: bwr@cbnewsj.att.com (bruce.w.reisman) Newsgroups: rec.games.frp Subject: Re: The Quest for the Axe of the Dwarven Lords (8) Summary: exciting? conclusion Keywords: story Date: 13 Aug 90 15:53:37 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories

AND WE THOUGHT GETTING IN WAS ROUGH ...
LEIA SEES A GODDESS
WE SEE A FAMILIAR FACE

It is early morning on the 27th day of Lo Spring in the year 6049 The weather is:

temperature:	~60 (we're in caves beneath the dwarven ruins ...)
wind:		0 mph (calm)

Felicia and Ragnor prove too powerful for the earth elementals, demolishing each one in turn as it reaches them. Ragnor pauses to polish the gore from his hammer. Alicia burns some gursamel in her censer - the fumes cause Elured's broken ribs to knit instantly….

We climb up the rope through the hole and make our way back to the great doors of the dwarven delvings. Employing the same routine we've used in the past, we open the doors and exit….

We follow along the wall of the great cavern to the underground lake. Jhere walks across as Alicia becomes a thyfur and ferries the rest of us. On the far side, Alicia alerts us that some thing is moving to intercept us before we can climb out of the cavern. Leia prays - her holy symbol blazes - and causes a wall of fire to spring up between us and our would-be assailants. They turn tail and run! It seems that ice hounds are terrified of fire….

We climb up to the corridor that we used on the way in. As we continue up and out, our way is barred by a party of stone trolls. Felicia, using the Axe of the Dwarven Lords, cleaves the first one nearly in two. The others retreat out of sight and we continue on our way. A huge rumble shakes the corridor … not for the first time … some loose fragments tumble about and we wonder whether a collapse is imminent….

We are unopposed as we snake through a narrow passage, coming ever closer to the entrance to the catacombs. We reach the collapsed bridge. Todd leaps across, carrying one end of a rope. After he secures it, we follow….

We near the final turn and come to an abrupt halt. The sounds of many monsters' growls mingle in a horrible cacophony ahead. A fire ball explodes at the end of the tunnel we want to take. Kidd concentrates, attempting to discover the nature of the battle….

Kidd tells us that the sstoi'isslythi are camped outside. Between the exit and where we stand, a large number of creatures are massed … seeking egress. Whenever one of them attempts to charge out, the sstoi'isslythi hurl some potent magic against it to drive it back. It appears to be a stand-off, but effectively prevents our departure. The cave trembles again….

We retreat a bit, then Alicia warns of creatures coming up behind us. We duck into a side corridor….

Leia, Alicia and Jhere offer prayers to their deities. Leia offers her other earring and a psalm to Brigit:

"In Fire we walk
 Fire before us
 Fire behind us
 Fire above us
 Fire under us
 Fire all around us
 In Fire it is returned
 In Fire it is returned."

She concludes with a prayer for rescue from this awful place. The jacinth disappears in a flash of orange fire, and so do Leia and Todd! Jhere's prayer for support in answered with a glow from her holy symbol. Alicia offers a gem (provided by Elured) and various herbs. The jewel vanishes in a flash of green fire, the herbs are refused. Alicia mutters under her breath when no obvious aid appears.

We decide to try to help ourselves. Felicia and Jhere take the lead. Kidd follows, bearing a torch, with Alicia. Elured comes next and Ragnor provides a rear guard.

The first creatures we encounter are geryons. They are not expecting an attack from behind - too bad. Felicia and Jhere make quick work of them, with a little help from Elured and Alicia.

Four sabertooth tigers give us only slightly more trouble. Alicia causes them to go to sleep and our weapons make their slumbers permanent. Jhere takes a thigh wound that closes miraculously before too much blood is lost.

The noise of that battle alerts the stone trolls beyond. The closest of their numbers turn to face us before we can surprise them. Felicia's Axe, Elured's sword and Jhere's staff end their miserable existence …

The creatures now realize that they're trapped between two powerful forces and that they have no place to run. The going from here on is going to be much tougher …

The blades of Felicia and Elured combined with the crushing power of Ragnor and Jhere's weapons prove too potent for the stone trolls. Alicia's bow seems surprisingly effective, as well. Soon the bodies of thirteen of those ferocious fighters lie like broken stone columns in our wake …

A fire ball explodes somewhere between our battle and the cave mouth …

We next encounter a group of mountain trolls. Though we quickly dispatch five of them, still more remain. Felicia is now bleeding from a hip wound, Ragnor falters with a painful bruise to his leg, Elured pauses to repair some of the wounds he's taken and Jhere is beginning to feel the weight of her accumulated cuts and bruises …

We battle forward. Kidd suddenly feels himself yanked down into solid rock. Using his circlet, he moves himself upward 500 feet at a 60 degree angle. He materializes about 300 feet in the air, above a huge mass of sstoi'isslythi, and saves himself from falling into them by casting an accelerated levitate spell on himself.

As Kidd vanishes from our midst, we are plunged into sudden darkness. Our eyes adjust quickly and we find we can see our foes, at least in silhouette, thanks to our proximity to the exit. We're almost there!

We kill the remaining mountain trolls and begin battling a group of nagas.

  • * *

l] Leia finds herself in the almost familiar surroundings of the inner l] sanctum of Brigit's pavilion - though she's unsure as to how she l] came to be there. She walks along a radius of the pentastar to the l] center, kneels and offers a prayer for the party's saftey.

l] A beautiful woman clothed in flame appears before her. She assures l] Leia that the party is in no great danger and offers her hand. Leia l] clasps it with hers, not fearing that the fire will harm her - it l] does not. The woman turns with Leia to face one of the endless l] tunnels that appear when gazing along a radius from the center.

l] Abruptly, Leia and the woman (Brigit?) are at the other end of the l] tunnel (or is it the same place?), standing in the center of another l] pentastar…

t] Todd finds himself in a place of blinding light, surrounded by voices t] raised in shrill, but somehow pleasing, song. He cannot see anything t] or anyone - the brightness seals his sight. He calls out. No one t] answers. He shouts Leia's name. All he hears is the singing. He t] offers a prayer to Brigit. It grows brighter in front of him. Out t] of the brightness a blazing figure appears. His first impression is t] that it is Leia, but more powerful, more sensual than he's ever seen t] her. The fiery woman speaks: she tells him to guard her servant, Leia, t] with his life. She turns and vanishes into the light. Todd suddenly t] is standing before a multitude of sstoi'isslythi. Leia, glowing t] brightly, stands nearby. He moves up to her side.

l] For days upon days, until she has no idea of the time that she has l] spent, Leia attends the fiery woman each waking moment. From her, l] Leia learns the secret ways of the greatest of Brigit's accolytes. l] She gives Leia a new holy symbol and strengthens the magic of her l] sword. Somewhere, sometime during her stay, Leia misplaces her pack. l] But there is nothing in it which she requires by the time she departs.

l] As Leia leaves, brought back along the path between the pentastars, l] she is told that she is to serve as Brigit's representative in the l] world. Leia first attempts to find her usual exit from a pavilion, l] between two pillars; but she cannot find any. Instead, she sees a l] shimmering in the air before her. Unsure, she summons her courage l] and steps closer and closer and …

l] Leia suddenly is standing before a multitude of sstoi'isslythi. Todd, l] who was standing nearby, moves up to her side.

The sstoi'isslythi seem in awe of Leia. They scarcely move. Kidd sees the sudden brightness of their appearance and astonished to see that Leia is the cause. Leia tells the sstoi'isslythi that they are friends and after a bit, a familiar voice (and figure) comes from the back - Leethth makes his way toward them.

  • * *

Felicia takes a stunning blow and cracks from the strain of battle. Screaming like a madwoman, she suddenly runs wildly down the center of the tunnel and out of the cave, barely stopping in time to keep from colliding with Todd and Leia.

Leethth translates for Leia, telling the masses that they are friends. Then he begins examining the Axe of the Dwarven Lords that Felicia is anxious to show him. Leia and Todd head into the cave to help the rest of us get out….

Jhere attacks the naga that crippled Elured. Elured moves clear but is attacked by another. Ragnor strikes a mighty blow at yet another naga and is slashed in return! He staggers toward the exit bleeding badly. Alicia shoots a naga, but her bow breaks!

Leia and Todd are attacked by chameleon amoebas. Todd kills his with a single thrust, but is left lying on the cave floor, badly stunned by the attack. Leia hurls small balls of fire at her attacker, barely noticing the weak strike it made at her. A bright orange glow leaps from Leia to Todd; he quickly rises to his feet and intervenes between Leia and a naga moving toward her.

A blue glow extends from Jhere to Elured; his slashed tendons start to mend. An amoeba attacks Ragnor, doing him a slight injury before he staggers clear. Elured is struck again, badly, as he attempts to make his way out. Todd slays the naga with a single blow! Leia fries the amoeba that persists in attacking her. Jhere smashes a naga over the head with her staff. Its attack misses. Elured's slashed muscles begin to heal, as he is again bathed in a blue glow from Jhere.

Alicia attempts to prevent a naga from attacking, but her spell misfires and she is stunned. Todd engages another naga, before it can get to Leia, killing it with two swings and taking only minor injury. A sword of flame forms on Leia's hand and she uses it to slay the last chameleon amoeba. The remaining naga is occupied with Jhere - Todd leaps on its back, stabbing his dagger through its ear into its brain; Leia swings her blade of fire into its tail. It abruptly ceases to live. We make our way out without further difficulty.

Alicia stops Ragnor's and Felicia's bleeding. They are carried on litters to Leethth's dwelling. We spend the rest of the day and night there, telling Leethth of our (mis-)adventures and answering his endless questions. Leia's inner glow persists. Any of the sstoi'isslythi that come near to her seem to go out of their way to please her; to cater to her every need.

We rest that night feeling safe for the first time in days….

  • * *
THUS ENDS THE QUEST! ... but their exploits continue!

– - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

    Bruce W. Reisman          AT&T  Bell Laboratories
    att!mtfmi!bwr             200 Laurel Avenue   MT 3G-102
    908/957-6533              Middletown, NJ  07748-4801



/data/webs/external/dokuwiki/data/pages/archive/stories/quest.txt · Last modified: 1999/09/08 05:46 (external edit)