Chapter 63

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               Navero, male human cleric, 6th level
               Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 6th level
               Kortul, male human fighter, 6th level
               Kory, male elf bard, 5th level
               Topash, male elf druid, 5th level
               Serga, male half-ogre fighter, 4th level
               Lao Tsu, male human monk, 4th level

Once we were through with the rats and spiders, and their disgusting
descendants (or whatever, we didn't think about it too much) we found
a big gem glowing with an inner greenish fire.  Topash suggested that
we check it for magic, but Dania just hit him over the head, so he
didn't make that suggestion again.  It was carefully wrapped up in old
sweat socks, and stored deep in the recesses of someone's backpack,
where hopefully it would be safe.
     From the spider and rat room, we took the eastern entrance, the
only one left in the room.  The corridor beyond went straight to the
east for a very long time.  We couldn't even smell the spiders anymore
before we saw anything interesting: a lever in the south wall.
     There was no writing on it, or marks around it.  The dust and
cobwebs around the base seemed to indicate it hadn't been pulled for a
long time.  After a short debate, we decided not to pull it, reasoning
that if the dungeon denizens avoided it, we should too.  Besides, if
we looked further down the corridor first, we might find the thing the
lever worked, and have a better idea what we should do.
     Past the lever, the corridor went on for a long way, then opened
out into a large room.  The entrance looked plain and dusty; hearing
nothing dangerous, we went in and looked the place over.  The room was
50 feet square, with another entrance in the middle of the south wall,
from which a corridor ran back to the west.  The room was empty,
except for a lot of vertical scratches on the walls.  The ceiling was
unusually high too.
     We began to debate the merits of going back to pull the lever.
Some of us wanted to go down the southern corridor, some wanted to try
the lever, and somebody argued we should go back to the room of faces
and try another one.  Eventually, adventurers' curiosity won out, and
we went back to the lever.  Kortul stood as far from it as he could,
and batted it down with the tip of his two-hander.  Faintly, we could
hear a grinding noise back at the room with scratched walls.
     When we went back, the room looked completely different.  The
ceiling was now very low, and the floor about 15 feet below the
entrance.  Down below, we could see more entrances into the room, in
the south, east, and north walls, none directly below the upper
entrances.  The floor of the room was also covered with dark stains.
It looked like we'd just reset a ceiling crusher-type trap, and would
have to go through it to continue this way.

Topash: "Oh, dear.  Now what do we do?"
Lao Tsu: (Makes no comment, as he is not here today.)
Navero: "What sets the trap off?"
Kory: "Breathing."
Navero: (Holds his breath.)
Dania: (Elbows Navero in the stomach.) "You probably have to hit a
     pressure plate in the middle of the room.  Stay near the doorways
     and we'll be fine."
Kory: "Didn't they have a room like that in a Doom game?"
Topash: "Navero, may I borrow your backpack?"
Navero: (Gasps.) "Sure.  What do you need my backpack for?"
Topash: (Takes pack, and drops it on floor near our entrance.  The
     ceiling fails to drop and crush it.) "I just needed something
     nearly as heavy as a person.  Thanks."
Navero: (Blinks, looks slightly disgruntled.)
Noise down below: "Grrrrowk..."
Party: (Blinks? then goes very quiet.)
Big Hairy Thing: (Comes shuffling into room through a lower entrance
     on the far side.  It snuffles around the floor on all fours,
     making an occasional scraping sound.  It's about the size and
     shape of a bear.)
Kory: "Ok... don't see bears this far underground, do you?"
Topash: "Not at all.  It has a tail, too.  A long pointed one."
Navero: "It looks like an otter tail."
Kory: "Yeah, right.  It's a giant otter that lives deep underground
     where there's no rivers."
Topash: "There was an underground river by the Gnolls, remember?"
Kory: "It's not an otter."
Big Hairy Thing: "RRROOWR!!!" (VERY loudly.  It seems to have seen our
     lantern, so it rears up on its hind legs and charges across the
     room towards our entrance.  We now see it has a beak, and red-
     rimmed eyes full of rage and malice.)
Topash: "Ah, an Owlbear.  Very dangerous."
Dania: "Hey, we can't see back here."
Kory: "Shit, that thing's ugly." (Draws sword.)
Navero: "Can it reach us up here?"
Kory: "Uh, no, probably not." (Sheathes sword.) "What is it?"
Topash: "Another highly unnatural hybrid creature.  Fortunately,
     they're solitary, like both parent species.  But we should kill
     it before we proceed."
Owlbear: "GRROWR!  ROAR GROWL RRAAWRA!!" (Jumps up and down underneath
     us, trying to climb up the vertical wall.)
Navero: "It seems very angry."
Kory: "But not very bright."
Dania: "Will you guys all duck or something?"
Serga: "It sounds like it's under the door now.  We couldn't see it."
Navero: "Can't we do something to make it go away?"
Topash: "No.  This a vicious, artificial creature whose whole purpose
     in life is to kill anything near it.  It feels nothing for any of
     nature's creatures, as its whole existence is the pain of its
     deformity.  The only way to deal with it is to do away with it."
Dania: (Elbows through and looks down.) "Hey, weird.  I wonder how
     they made it."
Topash: "You would think that.  There are times..."
Dania: "Shut up.  Whatever it is, it's dangerous.  Do the fighters
     think they can hand-to-hand it to death?"
Kortul: (Sneers in derision.)
Owlbear: "Grrrowrrowlrrrrr..." (Begins pacing back and forth below
     entrance.  Looks angry and frustrated.)
Serga: "I can't see it."
Dania: "It's an Owlbear.  About as big as you, with claws and a big
     sharp beak."
Serga: "I had a fight with a bear once.  It tried to eat my boots,
     then wouldn't go away."
Dania: "One desperate bear.  Kortul, see if you can get that thing
     from up here."
Kory: "Eh, might be a little too far down there..."
Kortul: (Elbows his way to the front, and prepares for a mighty
     downswing.  *klang* as his sword hits the ceiling.)
Dania: "Kortul, that won't work.  Stab it."
Kortul: (Glares back at Dania, then changes his grip.  But even after
     stabbing down at it, the point of his sword is about three feet
     away from its face.)
Owlbear: "GRAAAHHHHH!!" (Swats at sword tip, Kortul draws it back.)
Topash: "Hmmm... jump down there, perhaps?"
Kory: "Sure.  You first."
Topash: "Oh no, Kortul always goes first."
Kortul: (Glares back at Topash, then down at Owlbear.)
Owlbear: (Stares and snarls and makes lots of hostile noises.)
Dania: "Why doesn't he just lie down and stab it?"
Navero: "Would that work?"
Kory: "It looks pretty damn stupid.  Kortul, try fighting it on your
     belly, like a man."
     Kortul looked quite irritated, but lay down and stabbed at the
Owlbear.  He could reach it from this position, and the Owlbear did
not run away.  It did swat the blade away a few times, bellowing all
the while, until Kortul managed to get past its guard and stab it in
the cheek.  It screeched and ran back out the entrance it came in.
     We listened to it run off, then tied a rope to a stake we pounded
into the wall next to the door to go down.  On the floor of the room,
we could see a lot of dirt, and crushed bits of what looked like bone,
or chitin, or something else less pleasant.  Another curious fact was
that the tracks the Owlbear left avoided the center of the room; they
seemed to skirt at least 10 or 15 feet away from it.  We made sure to
go no closer than 20 feet.
     The Owlbear had come in through the east entrance; we couldn't
see it anymore down there.  The north entrance went straight for about
20 feet, then edged off to the east in what looked like a natural cave
section.  To the south, the corridor went south, and then east.  We
decided to go east, and see if we could find that Owlbear before it
came back behind our backs.
     The corridor meandered roughly for about fifty feet before
branching to the south.  We couldn't see much to the east or south, so
we cautiously continued to the east.  About the time Topash was at the
branch, a great shape came rushing from the south.

Kory: (Draws sword.) "Incoming!"
Kortul: (Turns, but Kory and Topash are in his way.)
Dania: "SHIT!" (Casts Magic Missiles, starts trying to backpedal.)
Topash: "So much for not letting it sneak up behind us."
Navero: (Jumps in front of Dania.) "I'll protect you!"
Dania: "Ah, yeah, you do that."
Serga: "What should I do?"
Kory: "Don't step on Navero!"
Owlbear: (Barrels into middle of party, rending and tearing everyone
     it can reach.  Navero and Kory get clawed, and Topash bitten.)
Kory: "Ow!" (Stabs Owlbear.)
Topash: "This thing's breath could kill anything natural." (Misses.)
Navero: "Back, you misbegotten whatever!" (Swings, trips, and nearly
     falls over in an apparent attempt to commit suicide.)
Dania: "Ok, Nav.  Keep him busy." (Casts Magic Missiles.)
Kortul: (Taps foot impatiently.)
Serga: (Avoids stepping on anyone.)
Owlbear: "RROOWWROOOO munch munch munch" (On Topash, again.  It also
     swings at him with both paws, hitting once.)
Topash: (Misses, again.) "Excuse me, I'm about to be rended."
Kory: "Isn't that rendered?" (Slices, misses.)
Dania: "No, you do that with dead animals and musical scores." (Casts
     Magic Missiles again.)
Navero: (Beats the heck out of the wall.)
Kortul: (Gets taken completely by surprise by another Owlbear that
     snuck up behind him.  Hit with both claws, but bite misses.  He
     looks quite shocked at this rudeness.)
Serga: "Hey, there's one behind Kortul!"
Kory: "We're busy here.  Kortul will have to take care of it himself."
Owlbear 1: (Tries to swallow Topash's head, fortunately misses with
     all attacks.)
Owlbear 2: (Shrieks with rage and looks even bigger and nastier than
     Owlbear 1.)
Kortul: (Slices at Owlbear 2, misses.)
Kory: (Slices at Owlbear 1, misses.) "I thought Owlbears were solitary
     hideous ugly monsters."
Topash: (Slices at Owlbear 1, misses.) "Owls and bears certainly are.
     Perhaps this is a mated pair.  They probably eat well off the
     trapped room."
Navero: (Swings at Owlbear 1, fortunately only misses.) "But wouldn't
     all the other monsters avoid the trap too?"
Dania: (Getting tired, stands back.) "Some of them have to be dumb
     enough to get caught by these things.  Look at us."
Kory: "Ah-hah."
Serga: (Looks behind him, to make sure no more are sneaking up behind
     him too.)
(The next two rounds can be edited out.  No one hit anything.  It was
quite embarrassing for all concerned, and the less said about it the
better.  We resume the fight in the middle of round 6.)

Navero: "YAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!" (Makes a mighty swing, and brings his
     mace thudding down on top of Owlbear 1's skull.  It goes Ow.)
Kory: (Gasps!) "Whoah, Navero!  My man!"
Navero: (Looks surprised.)
Topash: (Swings, and hits Owlbear 1.  It finally dies.) "Thank God.
     Oops, I mean thank Nature."
Dania: "How about the Generic Deity of the Week?"
Kory: "Always a bad idea.  The GDW rotates through the pantheons at
     random, so one time I tried it, and got the Aztec god of disease.
     That was no fun."
Owlbear 2: (Completely misses Kortul.  Looks pissed, but it has since
     the fight began.)
Kortul: (Swings, hits once.)
Kory: "Kortul, don't swing down." (Leaps into the fray, stabs Owlbear
     2, gets critical hit.  His sword sinks right into its eye, and it
     expires without any more fuss.) "Hey, awright!"
Topash: "Congratulations!  About time somebody rolled a 20."
GM: "Actually, I did once, but it didn't come up a critical."
Navero: "Let us count our blessings."
Kory: "Amen!  I certainly feel blessed.  Now which way do we go?"
Dania: "The first one looks like the female.  The lair is probably
     down where she was."
Topash: "Fine.  South it is."
     Away to the south, the hallway curved east and opened up into a
cave.  Inside the cave, there were indeed two young Owlbears; they
attacked us on sight.  Vicious little beasts, but Kortul and Serga
stomped them without too much trouble.  The lair had a lot of smelly
straw, musty droppings, chewed-on bones, bits of skin and meat, and
some identifiable bits of spider exoskeletons.  Mostly it was just
dirty, and there was no treasure.  One other entrance on the opposite
wall curved back to the T-intersection where we'd had the battle; no
other entrances.  After satisfying ourselves there was nothing else,
we made our way back to the Trap room, and looked to the north.

Daniel Parsons                           "Don't you think we should be            going upstairs instead of down?"
                                     "What are you worried about?  All
                        adventurers go out with two weeks of rations."
                                                           "I didn't."

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