Chapter 38

previous chapter (#37)                  next chapter (#39)

Snow was falling outside of the city.

          Navero, male human cleric, 5th level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 5th level
          Razuli, male human fighter, 5th level
          Kory, male elf bard, 4th level
          Topash, male elf druid, 4th level
          Meth, male ? thief, 3rd level

     The party was not in good humor as we rode out of Propyla.
Nobody pursued us this time; the crowds of fleeing citizenry were much
larger than at any of the other towns that we got blown up, and nobody
really noticed us in the crowd.  Looking back to Propyla, we could see
much of it was burning, and most of the big buildings were gone.  The
governor's mansion was a surprising exception, but it was missing one
wall, which I suppose made up.  We quickly made tracks, and by dawn
were well enough away to stop, rest, and tell everyone what had
happened with The Three.  This being done, the question came up of
what to do next; would it be safe to go for yet another town?  Or
would one or more governments have us on their officially-wanted
lists?  You'd think that *somebody* would be really mad at us by now...

     We had managed to fling all our possessions onto the horses
before we left (although some was lost along the way) so equipment
loss wasn't critical.  We had also managed to leave the inn without
paying for the rooms.  However, we hadn't had much money left to begin
with, and the hasty departure had only worsened matters.  We sat down
to discuss what to do.  Then, a subtle change came over the land; a
brook now flowed beside the road, the snowfall stopped and was
replaced by a dense fog, and the trees grew tall and became more

Navero: "Huh?"

Razuli: (Vanishes.)

Topash: "The balance seems to be shifting."

Person: (Walks out of bushes) "Hail, brave adventurers!"

Kory: "Hail?  This is fog, and where'd it come from?"

Person: "I understand your natural confusion.  The fundamental nature
     of the universe just been altered.  Before, the almighty DM was
     he called Jeff, but he has been replaced by the Roger.  The world
     is different, as a new mind lies at the center of creation."

Navero: "Who are you, sir?"

Person: "I am a protector of the woods, where I am known as Norrin.  I
     would know your business in my lands."

Dania: "Your lands?  We're in the middle of a plain!"

Norrin: "I'm moonlighting.  You appear to be adventurers in need of cash."

Kory: "Is there any other kind?"

Norrin: "Well, I know of a dwarf cave near here which has been overrun
     by monsters, and they need someone to clear it out.  I was thinking
     of taking the job, if only I could find a party to join me..."

Dania: "Dwarves?  You wanna crawl into some Dwarf-hole?!"

Kory: "Well, he could try a..."

Topash: "Kory, behave."

Dania: "And shut up."

Kortul: "Mines?"

Norrin: "Yes, they mine silver, tin, and lead there."

Dania: "Are there any dwarves inside?"

Norrin: "No."

Dania: "Fine.  Let's go.  They'll pay, though."

Topash: "Which way is it?"

Game Master: You can't see any landmarks in the fog.

Dania: "Get to high ground so we can see out of it."

Game M: You climb a little hill, but still can't see out.

Kory: "Go back to the road and keep riding."

Game M: You can't find the road.

Kory: "Ok, I go climb a tree and look!"

Game M: You can't find a tree.

Kortul: (To Roger) I walk out of the fog.

Game M: Ok, Kortul mysteriously vanishes.

Party: We all walk out of the fog.

Game M: Okay!  You're all on the same road you were on before, near a
     little bridge over a creek.  The road branches to the left, and a
     signpost says that way is the way to the dwarf mines.  A smooth
     dirt road leads off into the hills.

Topash: "Gee, I wonder if the Orb of Spheres is there too."

Navero: "I thought it was winter.  Where's the snow?"

Game M: Driving past you in freezing blasts.  You're all real frigid.

Kory: I am not!  "Well, shall we go?"

Dania: "Yes.  How much were the hairballs offering, anyway?"

Norrin: "Negotiations didn't go that far."

Dania: "Hmph."

     We rode up the road, past rolling streams and fields of blue
grass.  Snow cats gambolled about, listening to the blue grass.  They
did not attack, so we let them be.  The road went up into the hills,
and then sharply turned downwards into a rocky valley which smelled
vaguely of smoke and iron.  A very short, wide person with a beard
leaped (sort of) from behind a tree.

Dwarf: "Halt and be recognized!"

Norrin: "Hail!  We are brave adventurers, and have come to offer to
     rid your mines of their invaders."

Dwarf: "Adventurers?  Harrumph!  Well, go on down, hang a left, go to
     the door and ask to see Korgurindin."

Kory: "Ok!  C'mon, let's get this over with."

Dania: "Yes."

     The party rode down into the valley, which was nicely sheltered
from the wind above, to a collection of squat, sturdy buildings.
There weren't very many - only enough to make two streets, one
crossing the other, but there were a lot of dwarves about. Most sat on
rocks or under trees, and obviously had very little to do; they eyed
us with obvious distaste.  Some of us eyed the dwarves back, with even
more distaste.  We turned left at the intersection and rode up to a
door in a tall building.  This was the only door sized for humans, so
we guessed it to be a meeting place for non-dwarven guests.

(Knock, knock)

Voice: (from inside) "Who's there?"

Kory: (Grin!) "Adventure!"

Voice: (?) "Adventure who?"

Kory: "Ah'd venture to say you should let us in!"

Dania: "Oh, shut up!  We're here about cleaning out those mines.  Is
     what's-his-face in?"

Norrin: "Korgurindin."

Dania: "Yea, him."

Voice: "Uh... sure."

     A youngish-looking dwarf opened the door and let us in.  The
inside of the building had normal-sized furniture, and other
conveniences for large people, but the decor was still rather Spartan.
We sat down to wait while the young dwarf went to fetch Korgurindin,
who turned out to be an older dwarf with spectacles.  He explained the
situation to us.

     Apparently, someone or something had found a sort of magic device
which could charm a dwarf into servitude.  They came up from below,
from deep in the earth, with monstrous servants, and attacked the
deeps of the mines, killing or charming the miners.  Many of the
charmed dwarves were sent back into the upper reaches as spies and
infiltrators, and successfully disrupted the dwarve's attempts to
defend their home, so they were driven out.  The main entrance to the
mines was located at the opposite end of the surface "town", and had
been sealed up with a large oak door.  Some spies had been sent in
through other entrances, but none had come back out.  It was finally
decided that outside help would have to be sought.  The local rangers
were asked to go in, but were reluctant to do so, caverns not being
their forte; they promised to keep a look-out for anyone with skills
more suited to tunnels.

Dania: "Great, great.  How much?"

Korgurindin: "Well, I think 75 gp for each of you would do."

Dania: "WHAT?!  You little hairball, that's robbery!  500!"

Korgurindin: "We suffered a great deal by our loss.  I think 100 would
     be acceptable."

Topash: "Dania, calm yourself.  I understand we may be fighting your
     kin, and that you do not wish them slain; this will make the task
     much more difficult, and makes your offer rather unreasonable."

Korgurindin: "Hmmm, yes.  Uh...  hows 150 each as a fair price,
     provided no dwarves are harmed?"

Kory: "I dunno about that..."

Norrin: "Perhaps, uh...  300 apiece, minus weregild?"

Korgurindin: "Well...  yes, maybe.  Would you like to see an

     We were escorted out into the valley by a pair of dwarves, to a
small gap in the rock we wouldn't have noticed otherwise.  Beyond, a
narrow and winding crack went downward into the earth.  It was wide
enough for Kortul to squeeze through, but barely.  We went in quietly
as we could, Meth first, followed by Dania and Norrin.

Meth: "Hey, there's an ugly guy down there.  I think it's a guard."

Dania: "Where about is he?"

Meth: "Oh, maybe 14 paces ahead of you."

Dania: (Casts Sleep.)

Norrin: "Good.  Alright, let's go."

     Down at the bottom, we could see a small door, which was ajar.
On the other side were two snoring Bugbears.  We tied them up and
looked around.  We were on a wide ledge carved out of the cliff, on
the south side of a ravine; at the bottom, a strong river flowed.  To
the west, we could see more carved stone, windows and doors, and a
bridge across the ravine.  The ledge ran no further east than where we
were.  Many torches provided dim light.  There was some argument over
what to do with the Bugbears, but eventually soft hearts prevailed and
they were left tied and gagged.  We went westwards towards the bridge.

Norrin: "Where would the chief of operations be?  In the town?"

Meth: "Probably not, unless he's civilized or something.  That'd be
     the first place to look, anyway."

Kory: "He probably has all his troops in the built area.  I suggest
     that we go elsewhere.  Of course, that assumes that this place is
     organized, which it may not be."

Navero: "Do we go across on the bridge?  It looks wobbly."

Kortul: "Bad place to get attacked."

Meth: "Shouldn't we go before someone notices us?"

Dania: "Yea.  Let's go over the bridge.  If they attack us, fine."

     We crept westwards toward the bridge; all was quiet.  The bridge
was sturdily built, but looked like it had been fought on; several posts
and supports had been knocked out.  We started across, Kortul in the
lead, when a long rubbery arm reached from under and grabbed his leg.

Kortul: "Ha!" (Stabs the arm)

Dania: "Trolls!  Nav, get some oil out!  How many?"

Kory: "Oh, no more than 20 or 30.  Fight quietly, we don't want to
     attract attention."

(3 Trolls come out from under bridge.  One attacks Kortul, the second
Navero, and the third Norrin.)

Navero: "Ahh!  Go away!" (Misses.)

Kortul: (Chop!  An arm drops in the river.)

Dania: (Magic Missile's Troll 2)

Topash: (Slashes Troll 2 with Scimitar.)

Meth: (Stabs Norrin's Troll in the back.) "Gee, this is weird."

Kory: (Plays battle song.) "Oh?  How so?"

Meth: "Usually, the monsters ambush us with overwhelming numbers and
     surprise, but these just came out for a straight fight.  Like,
     really unusual."

Norrin: (Misses his Troll.) "Well, I guess these things happen."

Troll 1: (bites Kortul, attempts to grapple and fails.)

Troll 2: (Gets Navero in a bear hug, squeezes.)

Troll 3: (Claws and bites Norrin.)

Navero: "Gliik!"

Dania: "Drop him!" (Magic Missile on Troll 2)

Kortul: (Hack Hack Chop Chop Bleed Bleed)

Topash: "So much for a straight fight.  Let go of him, please, we have
     spent rather a lot of money on him." (Misses.)

Meth: (Critical strike - double damage.) "Gee, do you think I just
     might have given our illustrious DM an idea?"

Kory: "Yes.  Now hush, or start talking about how everything is really
     hard, and that we'll never possibly survive."

Norrin: "Good idea!  Oh wail in agony and torment and torture..."

Dania: "Don't forget gnashing of teeth."

Troll 1: (Kicks Kortul in the balls.)

Troll 2: (Turns and drops Navero in the river.)

Troll 3: (Throws Norrin into Kory, both nearly fall into the river.)

Kortul: (Thud!)

Navero: "HELP!"  (Splash!)

Dania: "Shit!"  (Magic Missiles Troll 2)

Kory: "You would have to remind him he's god, wouldn't you?"

Meth: "Hey, I didn't mean to..."

Norrin: "Well!  Any bright ideas of our own?"

Topash: (Throws a rope down to Navero.)  "Yes; someone go help Kortul."

Troll 1: (Jumps up and down on Kortul.)

Troll 2: (Claws Dania and Topash.)

Troll 3: (Bites and claws Meth.)

Kortul: "RRAAAAHHHH!!!!"  (Swings twice, criticals once; Troll 1

Kory: "Uh-oh, they're in trouble now!  Ho Ha Ha Guard Turn Parry Dodge
     Spin Thrust!" (Wounds Troll 2.)

Norrin: "Of course, every bit will grow, you know." (Wounds Troll 3.)

Dania: "Yuck." (Magic Missiles Troll 2) "Someone get some oil out."

Navero: (Blub.  Navero can't swim very well to begin with, and his
     mace and armor have dragged him to the bottom of the river.)

Topash: "I believe we should take care of these two first." (Swings
     rope to where Navero should be.)

Meth: "Oh, die already." (Backstabs Troll 3.)

Troll 1: (Twitches a lot.)

Troll 2: (Backhands Topash, almost knocking him in; claws Dania, bites

Troll 3: (Claws Meth, misses Norrin.)

Topash: "Navero!"

Navero: (Finds the rope, starts climbing.)

Kortul: (Barrels into Troll 2's gut.  Kortul is a big man, and manages
     to knock it off the bridge.)

Dania: "Great!  One left!"  (Magic Missiles Troll 3)

Norrin: "It looks pretty wobbly right now." (Critical strike.)

Meth: "So this just might..." (Backstabs, it falls.) "Hey!"

Troll 1: (Twitches a lot more.)

Troll 2: (Bites at Navero on its way past.)

Troll 3: (Twitches not very much at all.)

     The trolls were burned (what didn't drip into the river) and
wounds cleaned and bandaged.  Nobody came running at the sounds of the
fight, which was a bit of a surprise but we decided not to mention it.
Perhaps the people who had taken over the mines felt they were secure
enough not to put sentries in the town itself.  Navero was sopping wet
of course, but didn't catch cold in those cold caverns (we forgot
mention it again) and so after healings for all we continued on our
merry way into the northern caverns.

Daniel Parsons             "The world seems a much simpler place now."

previous chapter (#37)                  next chapter (#39)