Chapter 58

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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

Somehow, we escaped the irresistible pull of the doorway that looked
like Jim Ignatowski, and went on our merry way down another corridor.
The corridor was nice and plain, absolutely undistinguished in any
respect.  There wasn't even much dust.  In fact, there was so little
evidence that anything living (or at least material) had been through
the area we began to wonder if we shouldn't have gone through another
door.  But after about 100 feet, we could see the hall widen out into
a room; from the looks of it, a large natural cave.
     The cave was about 40 feet wide, and irregularly shaped, longer
along the south-east to north-west axis.  The ceiling varied from 5 to
about 40 feet high, with lots of stalactites.  The floor was uneven,
with some groups of stalagmites near the middle of the room, and a low
run like a dry stream bed ran between them.  From the entrance, we
couldn't see anything threatening, so we ventured slowly in.  Kortul
and Kory waved torches in front of us to check for Piercers, with
everyone else following along behind.
     About 20 feet in, a stalactite fell and knocked the torch from
Kortul's hand; a Piercer, and a big one too.  Further searching
located three more, all of which were easily dispatched on the ground.
We were about to put the torches away when Serga wandered over to the
stream bed, and another bounced off his helmet.

Serga: "Ow!" (rubs head, steps on Piercer.)

Piercer: *crunch* *squish*

Dania: "Hey, I thought you guys checked over here!"

Kory: "Of course, Dania.  They don't always go for torches."

Dania: "Shit.  The rest of the room been checked?"

Topash: "The only way we could be surer is to set off a fireball in
     the middle of the room.  No, Dania."

Dania: "I wasn't going to.  It'd be a waste on Piercers.  Anyway, is
     there anything in here?"

Kortul: "Rocks.  Dirt.  Two entrances."

Navero: "What's that up on the ceiling?"

     At about the highest point in the room, we could see some vague
gleaming in the shadows of our lights.  It looked like a pair of eyes.
Nothing else could be clearly seen, but we weren't about to take any
chances.  Kory and Kortul fired at it with arrows, but it simply drew
back among the stalactites, making it a dim, difficult target.

Topash: "Dania, do you know Dancing Lights?  We could use some of a
     less mundane sort of illumination."

Dania: "Don't have it memorized.  Can we try flaming arrows?"

Kory: "Dania, there's a problem.  Rock ceiling.  You have to have
     something for the arrow to stick in, you know?"

Navero: "Maybe if we left it alone, it wouldn't bother us."

Dania: "Now, we could use a Fireball."

(The earth trembles slightly.)

Kory: "Oh, no.  Oh GOD, no.  Tell me you're kidding."

Topash: "I sense catastrophe on the wind."

Kory: "No, that's just Serga."

Serga: "Huh?"

Kortul: (Looks worried.)

Dania: "Shut UP, bard.  It's a big enough room.  It'll be no problem."

Serga: "What's the problem with a fireball?"

Kory: "You don't even want to imagine.  Dania, NO.  Absolutely,
     positively, this is the last straw, if you cast that spell I will
     EVISCERATE you with a soup ladle NO!"

Dania: "I would LOVE to see you try.  Look, the Fireball spell is made
     for rooms like this.  I cast it, it takes care of whatever's up
     there, end of story.  Quit being so goddamn gutless."

Navero: "I didn't know you had a soup ladle with you."

Kory: "I stole it from your pack."

Navero: "You did?  Kory, that was very dishonest!"

Kory: "And lord knows, we can't have that going on around here.  But
     if she starts casting fireballs, I'm not sticking around.  The
     rest of you can place yourselves on her tender mercies, I'm out
     of here."

Lao Tsu: "Most honolabre companions, when this is arr past, it wirr
     mattel rittre what takes prace in this chambel.  So, pelhaps we
     shourd melery reave."

Dania: "Because, that thing up there might be dangerous."

Lao Tsu: "Or kirr the medium, and use hel to rook fol mole of the
     farring cave spikes which you say ale hele."

Dania: "WHAT?!"

Lao Tsu: "A gleat mastel once said, when you meet one who is furr of
     wisdom and sense, you shourd kirr them, rest othels risten to

Dania: "And a great master once said to me that you're full of -"

Topash: "Excuse me!  I hate to interrupt, but we're getting nowhere
     with this.  Why don't we just forget about that thing up there?
     It seems content to hide from us, so maybe we should just let

Navero: "Wait a minute..."

Topash: "What is it?  You're the last person I thought would object."

Navero: "I never had a soup ladle."

Topash: (short pause) "And with that illuminating contribution, I move
     that we move out.  Comments?"

Kory: "Yeah, let's just forget about that thing, whatever it is."

Kortul: "Waste of arrows."

Serga: "I think we can just leave it alone and it won't bother anyone.
     At least I hope not."

Dania: "Yeah, fine.  Are there any other entrances in this room?"

Kortul: "Stream entrances."

Topash: "You mean those holes where the stream had flowed through?
     Those probably lead to some other natural caverns, and as lovely
     as they may be, I suggest we waste no time with them.  If this is
     a wizards castle, there probably won't be anything significant to
     be found there."

Kory: "You want to try that one doorway again, don't you?"

Topash: "No, I'm afraid the thrill is gone now.  It's just that the
     natural sections of a Wizard's basement are apt to be the least
     interesting.  Unless you're a spelunker."

Serga: "What's a spelunker?"

Navero: (scratches head) "I think it might be someone who throws rocks
     into pools of water."

Serga: "That doesn't make any sense."

Navero: "No, but they go, 'spe-lunk'."

Kortul: (Wanders up to near stream outlet, looks inside with torch.)

Topash: "Ahem.  I say we go back and take another doorway."

Dania: "You see anything up there, Kortul?"

Kortul: "Another cave.  Looks like this one, but smaller."

Dania: "More Piercers.  Shall we try checking it out, guys?"

Kory: "Ah, sure, why not?"

Topash: (shrug) "Torchbearers in front."

Kory: (Hands torch to Topash) "How about you take a turn this time?"

Topash: (another shrug) "Fine.  Anyone want to spot Kortul?"

Serga: "I don't know if I can fit in there."

Kortul: "Hmph." (Ducks down and goes in entrance.)

Dania: "Hey, wait for us!" (Ducks in after him.)

     Serga and Lao Tsu elected to stay in the first room.  Beyond the
entrance, there was a short low tunnel, and a new room.  This room was
smaller, with a low ceiling and an even denser forest of stalactites.
They were all over the place, but the floor was surprisingly clear of
any formations, so Kortul and Topash moved in very slowly, looking for
Piercers.  As they advanced, a foul odor became apparent, though not a
single Piercer had dropped.

Topash: "Whatever's in here, it's probably been dead for some time."

Kortul: "Keep looking."

Dania: "You don't suppose there's Zombies in here?  Where's Nav?"

Navero: "I'm here.  I do get a feeling of evil.  It's more up ahead of
     us, and kind of near the floor."

Topash: "I can see pretty clearly, but there's nothing there."

Kortul: "Just lump on the floor."

     With a single thought, everyone instantly stopped to look at the
lump.  It was a broad hump like a little hillock in the far end of the
room, sort of brownish-grayish, and textured like a huge heap of
excrement.  It smelled much worse though, if that was where the smell
was coming from.

Topash: "It looks... harmless enough."

Lump: (Opens an eye.  A long ropy tentacle appears and lashes out.)

Party: "AAAAHHHH!!!"

Kortul: "Errrg..." (Tentacle grabs him, he goes weak at the knees.)

Kory: "Ah, shit, it's a Roper!"

Navero: (Chants)

Dania: "BOLT!" (Lightning shoots from staff and hits Roper.  The Roper
     does not appear the slightest bit concerned.)

Topash: (Hacks at tentacle with scimitar.  The tough, ropy tissue does
     not cut through at all.) "Weapons aren't doing much good."

Kory: "Use your torch!" (Charges forward with sword.)

Roper: (Smacks lips hungrily and pulls Kortul closer.  More tentacles
     rise out of central mass and start lashing around.  One gets
     Dania, and another grabs hold of Kortul.)

Kortul: (Holds torch to tentacle.  It sizzles and jerks away.)

Dania: (Casts Burning Hands, fries tentacle.)

Topash: (Waves torch at other tentacles.) "What can we do to it?"

Kory: (Slices tentacle, does some damage.) "Chop it up or burn it!"

Navero: (Stops chanting, rummages through backpack.)

Serga: (Looks in entrance.) "They're fighting something.  Do you think
     we should try to get in?"

Lao Tsu: "Grick!" (A thin strand of something shoots down from ceiling
     while Serga's back is turned, wraps around his neck.)

Roper: SNORT drool drool lip-smackin' good!  (Pulls Kortul closer,
     gets another tentacle on him.)

Kortul: (With a great effort, breaks free of the tentacles and
     collapses on the floor.)

Dania: (Moves forward, with Burning Hands in front of her.) "Somebody
     keep these tentacles busy!"

Topash: "We're trying!" (Lunches at tentacle with torch and scimitar,
     manages to cut it short this time.)

Kory: "You're very trying." (Slices at tentacle, misses.)

Navero: (Takes out an oil flask, throws it across the room onto the
     Roper's main body.)

Serga: "Lao?  LAO!" (Charges across room.)

Lao Tsu: "Urk..." (Struggles with strand around his neck, which is
     reeling him up towards ceiling.)

Roper: GLOWRF drool drool I hunger! (Trips Dania with tentacles, wraps
     one around her ankle.)

Kortul: *snarl...* (Grabs sword, gets up, and runs towards Dania.  He
     does not seem to have recovered, though.)

Dania: "SHIT!  Get this thing off of me!" (Decides not to burn her
     foot off, but cannot get it any lower.)

Topash: "Kory, could you take care of Dania?" (Throws torch at Roper's
     main body, ignites oil.)

Kory: (grin!) "I thought you'd NEVER ask!" (Approaches Dania with
     sword, hacks through tentacle.)

Navero: (Throws another oil flask on the Roper, so it is burning away
     quite merrily now.)

Serga: (Reaches Lao, jumps, and grabs his ankles as he's being pulled

Lao Tsu: "Eeeek!" (Hangs onto strand for dear life, swinging in a
     gentle arc, suspended by his neck with an armored Ogre hanging
     off his feet.)

Roper: ARRRAWAHH drool drool ouchie ouchie (Flails tentacles about,
     lashing at random party members.  Kortul gets knocked flat on his
     ass, Dania is tossed into Kory.)

Kortul: "Ooof!" (Feels very weak, decides to crawl out of range with
     what little is left of his skin and dignity.)

Dania: "ACK!" (Knocks Kory over, winds up sitting on his face.
     Immediately rolls off.) "If you say anything..."

Topash: (Adds another oil flask to the growing conflagration.) "Say
     anything?  What would he say anything about?"

Kory: (Lies on the ground, grinning ear to pointy ear, and humming
     'The Liberty Bell March'."

Navero: (Casts Cure Serious on Kortul.) "I hear screaming out in the
     large room.  We'd better go and see."

Serga: "LET GO OF HIM YOU FUCKER!!!" (Yanks on Lao.)

Lao Tsu: "Iiiiiii!!!" (Clings to strand with desperate intensity.
     Idly wonders what life will be like as a six-footer.)

Cave Fisher: (Finally gets pulled out of ceiling up above, falls to
     floor with a great crunch.)

Roper: OWOWOWOWOW! drool drool I only wanned one of yas ta snack on ya
     big meanies (flails about, burning strongly, filling the whole
     room with sooty stinky smoke.)

Kortul: "Erglkl." (Stares at burning Roper, feels strength slowly
     seeping back into his limbs.)

Dania: "What was that?"

Topash: "Do you mean the Roper, or whatever's happening outside?"

Kory: "Whatever it is, it doesn't sound healthy.  Who stays here to
     make sure that thing dies?"

Navero: "I'll go.  I don't want Serga to get into any trouble; I'm
     afraid he's not very smart." (Runs out entrance.)

Dania: "Serga getting into trouble is the least of our worries.  You
     guys stay here." (Runs after Navero.)

Serga: "AHH!!  DIE YOU FUCKER!  DIE!  DIE!" (Bashes and smashes and
     chops Cave Fisher.)

Lao Tsu: (Sits on floor and looks more than a little oxygen-deprived.)
     "Oh, gleat Buddha, is this the sound of one hand crapping?"

Roper: OOOOOOOW! Hey, you don't know what it's like down here! NOBODY
     comes in here to get eaten! (Flails weakly, beating at flames.)

Cave Fisher: Yeah! How's an ambushing carnivore supposed to make a
     living in this place? (Tries to scuttle away.)

Kortul: (Stands up, hefts sword.) "Stinks like hell.  How long will it
     take to die?"

Topash: "Not too long, I hope.  We'll be running out of lamp oil."

Kory: "Well, we may just have to chop it up.  Yuck.  You think it
     stinks now?"

Dania: (Casts Magic Missile at Cave Fisher.) "Get 'im, Serga!"

Serga: "RRAAAAGHH!" (Is generally unkind to Cave Fisher.)

Navero: (Casts Cure Serious on Lao Tsu.) "Lao, pardon me, but did you
     just grow 4 inches?"

Lao Tsu: "Onry foul?" (Collapses in a heap.)

Roper: GABLABLBLABLBLABL  Wish I could stop, drop, and roll! (Manages
     to put out most of the flames.)

Cave Fisher: I thought they looked too big and mean... (Expires.)

Kortul: "More torches."

Topash: "Coming up."

Kory: "Geez, this is gonna take a while."

Dania: "Great!  Is it dead?"

Navero: "It looks very dead."

Serga: (Stomps it one last time, so its long tongue goes pththththbl
     out on the floor.) "It's dead."

Lao Tsu: (Relishes the oxygen.)

Roper: BRLORSHLAPL aw no (Lashes out at again, misses everybody.)

Topash and Kory: (Approach waving torches, keeping tentacles at bay.)

Kortul: (Swings over Kory and Topash's heads, chops into Roper.)

Dania: "Is Lao alive?"

Navero: "He is, but I think he needs a chiropractor."

Serga: "I could try."

Navero: "Um, Serga, I'm not sure that would be a good idea."

Roper: (Slowly falls apart into two stinky pieces.)

Kortul: (Grunts with satisfaction.)

Topash: "And that's it for the air quality in this room.  Let's get
     out of here."

Dania: "Check for treasure first!"

Kory: "You check for it!"

Topash: "Kory, she will."

Kory: "Oh, yeah."

     With much coughing and spluttering, we checked the Roper's room.
To our great surprise, we found a cache of treasure in the back.
There was a pile of gems and coin, several scrolls, a set of bracers,
and 5 daggers, all of which checked as magical.  We stowed the stuff,
pending later identification, and went to look at the other entrance
in the Cave Fisher room.

Daniel Parsons                        "You know, Ropers sometimes have               gems and stuff in their crops."
                                                           "YOU look."

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