Chapter 60

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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

After finishing lunch, we went back to the large cavern to have a look
at the Gnoll cave.  The cliff between us and it was pretty sheer, with
a few bits and ledges here and there for footing.  A heavy rope had
been strung between our entrance and theirs, but they could probably
cut or untie it, leaving us stranded if we tried to use it.  As we
debated our course of action, a couple of Gnoll heads looked around
the corner at us.  The angle was such that they probably couldn't get
a bow shot at us as we tried to cross; even throwing a spear would be
hard, but they could always cut the rope.

Dania: "They're not going to cut the rope if it's their only way out
     of there."

Topash: "It may not be.  They have to have a better way of getting in
     and out of their lair."

Gnoll: (Pokes head out.) "Pththhblbl!!"

Kory: (Shouts around corner) "Same to you and more of it!" (Comes
     back)  "I don't know how many more of these insults I can take.
     Let's stop sitting around and do something."

Topash: "If you want to try to climb across the cliff, get knocked off
     and fall into the river and drown, be my guest."

Kory: "Better than sitting around here.  Why don't we just try
     climbing across the rope?"

Navero: "Because they'll cut the rope and you'll fall?"

Kory: "I don't think they'll cut the rope."

Topash: "If they're sensible, they will."

Gnoll: (Makes the sign of the moose at us.)

Kory: "You were saying?"

Kortul: "Find another way."

Kory: "And when they come up behind us?"

Kortul: "How fast can they go across rope?"

Topash: "With practice, probably rather quickly."

Serga: "I don't think I can climb on a rope."

Dania: "Shit, that's right.  What about Serga?"

Kory: "Guard the rear?"

Serga: "I'd be alone back here."

Kory: "Our rear should never be that far away.  What if we came around
     and our rear was in front of us?"

Party: (Stare uncomprehendingly at Kory.)

Kory: "Never mind!"

Topash: "That was lame."

Kory: "Awright, awright, already.  Sheesh."

Lao Tsu: "By the way of the Mongoose Clossing the Livel on Riry Pads
     one Thulsday Molning in Mid-Novembel, a tlue mastel courd wark
     arong the warr itserf, and reave the lope fol chirdlen."

Kory: "By the way of the Mountaineer Climbing the Cliff on Crampons
     with Chalk Dust, which methinks is just slightly more relevant,
     go suck eggs."

Topash: "By the way of the migraine I'm getting, I do wish someone
     would suggest something constructive."

Navero: "Could we make a bridge of some kind?"

Topash: "We don't have the materials."

Kory: "We'll build a bridge out of Dania.  She's a witch!"

Dania: "Hey!"

Topash: "We don't have the tools... er..."

Kory: "Speak for yourself."

Topash: "I usually do."

Gnoll: (Starts laughing at us.)

Dania: "Looks like this one speaks Common."

Kory: "Hey, fuzz-face!  Surrender now!"

Gnoll: "Hrowra gu, drawror duu, ikki mikki fruu!" (Capped off with an
     obscene gesture.)

Navero: "Maybe he's laughing at something else.  We haven't made any
     funny jokes."

Kory: (Stares.) "Navero, remind me never to put on a performance back
     at your monastery."

Navero: "Huh?"

Dania: "Kory, he did say *funny* jokes, you know.  Why don't we tie a
     rope around your waist and you can try climbing across there?"

Kory: "Me?!  I know I'm charming and dashing and brave, but that's
     taking things a little too far."

Topash: "Maybe you can deal with the Gnolls while the rest of us get

Kory: "How, show them card tricks?  It's hard to negotiate with people
     when the only word you both understand is 'disembowel'."

Lao Tsu: "I sharr crimb acloss.  I glow wealy of this bickeling."

Kory: "I like bickeling.  It's great with marinara sauce."

Dania: "Lao, get over here and lets get a rope around your waist in
     case you fall."

Lao Tsu: "I am an initiate of the sacled path of the spidel-monkey, of
     the gleat mastel Hwong Ri.  I wirr not farr."

Dania: "Then we can pull you back if they chuck a spear through your

Lao Tsu: "Thele is that." (Ties on rope.)

     Bravely, Lao stepped out onto the cliff face, under the watchful
eyes of the rest of the party, and a Gnoll or two.  After he'd gotten
about 10 feet out, one of the Gnolls grabbed the rope and shook it up
and down.  After hauling Lao back in, we re-assessed our options.
     Going across over the chasm wasn't the way to go.  With much
grumbling, we walked back up the corridor to the intersection where
we'd been ambushed earlier.  Naturally, we walked right in, not
suspecting a thing, so a spherical object about the size of a human
head, complete with sputtering fuse, came bouncing down one of the

Topash: "Oh, no, not again."

Serga: (With great presence of mind, kicks the thing back up the

Gnolls: (Scuffling is heard up the corridor, then something goes

Dania: "Hot damn!  Something worked.  Kortul, Lao, block the other
     corridor!  Serga, you stand by that one!"

Kory: (Sings battle song.)
     "Oh, drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life!
     "Save me from anger, decrepitude, and strife!"

Topash: "Too late for that."

Navero: "I think I only see them up that corridor."

Lao Tsu: "I do not see anyone in this harrway at arr.  Pelhaps this
     means that the othel one reads to theil home."

Kortul: (Steps back and surveys the situation.)

Gnolls: (Throw spears at us, but no one is hurt.  Booing is heard up
     the corridor, then some Gnolls come charging at us.)

Dania: (Casts Magic Missile, spreading them among the Gnolls.) "Ok,
     Serga, why don't you back up and let some of them into the room,
     and we'll get 'em?"

Kory: (More singing.  We all feel heartened.)

Kortul: "*grunt*" (Moves to fill in a space made as Serga backs up.)

Lao Tsu: "Ah, so!  The tea is pouled, as the glasshoppel reaps into
     the file on the instluctions of the mastel.  What of this othel
     tunner, now?"

Navero: "I'll go look down there and see if anyone's there."

Topash: "Navero, why don't you stay here and keep an eye on things in
     case someone gets hurt?  I'm not doing anything right now, I can
     keep an eye down that other corridor."

Gnolls 1-4: "AAAAAAAAAAARRROOOOOF!!" (Come charging down the tunnel
     and kind of clangs into Serga, actually knocking him over with
     their combined weight!)

Gnoll 5: "RHAA!  RHAA!  ARRWWAARAH!" (Hops over the mass of bodies on
     top of Serga and bashes Kory with a big club.)

Gnoll 6: (Charges in, takes a swing at Topash, and misses.)

Gnoll 7: (Charges in the other side and swings at Kortul, hitting.)

Gnolls 8 and 9: (Stand back in the corridor and throw spears at Dania.
     One hits.)

Gnolls 10-?: (Wait back in corridor, shouting foul imprecations.)

Serga: "Hey!" (Throws Gnoll 1 off, struggles under the others.)

Kory: "Hey, that's my line!" (Drops lute, draws sword.)

Dania: "SHIT!  Close the line!  Serga, get up!" (Casts Flaming Sphere
     in the corridor entrance.)

Serga: "I'm trying!  Sheesh."

Topash: (Slices Gnoll 6.) "That could have gone better."

Kortul: (Misses Gnoll 7, to his great annoyance.)

Navero: "Get off of my friend!" (Runs up, bashes Gnoll 2 with mace.)

Lao Tsu: "I thought we had agleed that the pliest wourd not be
     fighting with anyone?" (Kicks Gnoll 3 upside the head.)

Kory: "Agree?  Us?  On anything?"

Navero: "I'll be careful this time."

Topash: "I'm also not sure we'll be able to keep things the way we
     want it this time."

Dania: "Hey, with the Flaming Sphere there, we're cool."

Gnoll 1: "Awrohuff!" (Regains balance, swings and misses at Navero.)

Gnoll 2: (Also swings and misses Navero.)

Gnoll 3: (Swings and gets a grazing hit on Lao.)

Gnoll 4: (Stabs Serga as he sits on top of him.)

Gnoll 5: (Picks Kory up, throws him into Dania.)

Gnoll 6: (Swings and hits Topash.)

Gnoll 7: (Swings and hits Kortul.)

Gnolls 8 and 9: "AOOOWWW!" (Jump back into corridor.)

Gnolls 10-?: (Dicker and discuss among themselves, we cannot hear

Dania: "Get offa me!" (Keeps Sphere in the doorway.)

Kory: "Gladly.  Ew." (Get up, stabs at Gnoll 5, missing.)

Serga: (Kicks Gnoll 4 into ceiling, it falls near Flaming Sphere.)

Topash: (Slices Gnoll 6.) "Dania, do you need help?"

Dania: "I'm fine now.  Just get these guys, and I'll move the Sphere."

Kortul: "Ha!" (Two-hander comes to a satisfying halt in Gnoll 7's
     chest.  It expires.)

Navero: "Oh, Lords of the Correct and Unalterable Way, please hear my
     most fervent prayers to strike down the things that want to kill
     and eat us probably even if we are in their home but we just
     walked in and they attacked us you know..." (Swings, and hits
     Gnoll 1 again!  Gnoll 1 looks unhappy.)

Lao Tsu: "A student once asked his mastel, why is it that we do not
     even swat the melest mosquito?  In lesponse, the mastel clushed
     the student's skurr with a paving stone, and arr who saw wele
     enrightened." (Punches Gnoll 3.)

Kory: "Except the student, of course."

Lao Tsu: "The student was arso enrightened, fol the mastel courd see
     that his next incalnation wourd be as a mosquito."

Kory: "Oh, that's ok then."

Navero: "No it isn't.  You can't help people by killing them."

Serga: "Yeah!  I guess."

Kory: "Otherwise, why aren't we letting them kill us?"

Gnoll 1: (Seems to ponder this a moment, sighs wistfully, and hits

Gnoll 2: (Gets a critical failure, decapitates Gnoll 1.) "Ahroo?"

Gnoll 3: "LIIRIII!  HUNGGA OORHU MNAAI!" (Leaves Lao and bashes Gnoll
     2 over the head from behind.)

Gnoll 2: "blik!" (Goes cross-eyed and falls over on top of Navero.)

Gnoll 3: "Drit." (Nods self-satisfiedly.)

Navero: "Ooof!"

Kory: "Well, that was interesting."

Gnoll 4: (Looks back and forth between Serga and the Flaming Sphere,
     then opts to try running through the sphere.  We hear a scream.)

Gnoll 5: "PUUN!  Aalero midi man!" (Puts himself between Lao and Gnoll
     3's back.)

Gnoll 6: (Looks very unhappy with Topash.  Steps away to go back-to-
     back with Gnoll 5.)

Gnolls 8-?: (Noises can be heard beyond the Flaming Sphere.)

Dania: "Great!  I think we got 'em." (Moves Flaming Sphere up into
     corridor.  Yipping noises are heard.)

Kory: (Critical hit on Gnoll 5, stabs it through an eye.  It expires.)
     "Hot damn!  Sometimes I even amaze myself."

Topash: "That's not difficult." (Misses Gnoll 6.)

Kory: "I know, I do such amazing things."

Kortul: "Hmph." (Hits Gnoll 6, it dies.)

Serga: "Priest-friend!" (Picks Gnoll 2 up, bashes it into the floor
     until it's dead.  This does not take long to accomplish.) "Are
     you all right?"

Navero: "Yes, I'm fine.  Is anyone hurt?"

Dania: "Yeah, but clean them out first."

Gnoll 3: "Oop." (Looks forlorn.)

Gnoll 11: (Chants something, and the Flaming Sphere goes out.)

Gnolls 12-14: "AAAAAAAAAAARRRHH!" (Charge into room, knock Serga down

Gnoll 15: (Throws spear at Dania, misses.)

Gnolls 16-?: (Howl and shout in the corridor.)

Dania: "Aw, shit..." (Raises staff.) "Everyone out of the way, I'm
     gonna FRY that corridor!"

Kory: (Smacks staff down with sword.) "NO you are NOT!  There's too
     many of us in the way!"

Dania: "That's why I told you all to clear out of the way!"

Navero: (Swings at Gnoll 12, hits.  He is doing remarkably well this
     combat.) "I think they'd all get in and attack you if we did."

Dania: "Shit."

Serga: "Why are they all jumping on me?" (Throws Gnolls left and

Kortul: (Moves up beside corridor and stands ready for more Gnolls to
     come through.)

Topash: (Slices Gnoll 13 as it goes sailing past.) "Because they think
     you're the biggest threat?  They also seem to be targeting

Dania: "I noticed that, you know?"

Topash: "So hide behind Kory."

Kory: "No way.  Every time I let her, she fries my Elvish ass.  Let
     her hide behind Lao."

Lao Tsu: (Kicks at Gnoll 13, misses.) "Why do you think I wourd be any
     mole comfoltabre with the expelience than you ale?"

Kory: "Think of it as a learning experience."

Lao Tsu: "This is a good thing?"

Gnolls 15-18: (Charge into room, Gnoll 15 being especially careful to
     shove his shield into Kortul's face as he enters.)

Gnoll 3: "Haai!  Iurtli ooi!" (Swings at Serga, misses.)

Gnolls 19-20: (Throw spears at Dania, but Navero intercepts them both
     with his body.)

Gnolls 21-?: (Make more noise in the corridor.)

Dania: "Shit, how many of them are there?" (Casts Magic Missiles at
     Gnolls 16, 17.)

Kory: "More than you want to know.  I wonder where their mage is?"
     (Stabs Gnoll 17.)

Lao Tsu: (Kicks Gnoll 17, it expires.)

Serga: (Stands up, swings and misses Gnoll 3.)

Topash: "Actually, it's probably not a mage.  Gnolls are more likely
     to be members of the Green brotherhood." (Slices Gnoll 18.)

Kortul: "Hmm?" (Shoves the shield out of his face and chops Gnoll 15.)

Topash: "Yes, probably specializing in herbal and grass magic.  That
     way, he's a grassy Gnoll."

Navero: (Pulls spear out of his arm.) "Ow."

Kory: "Not ow, eeeeewwww.  Should we look for footprints on the grassy

Topash: "There aren't any grassy Gnolls here, only greasy ones."

Kory: "When my player stops laughing, you're gonna get smacked."

Gnoll 3: (Stands back by wall, hiding behind shield and shouting words
     of encouragement.)

Gnoll 13: (Gives Gnoll 3 the finger, swings and hits Kory.)

Gnoll 15: "Hwruwru!" (Hits Kortul with flail.)

Gnoll 16: (Chops at Lao, hits.)

Gnoll 18: (Slices Topash with scimitar.)

Gnolls 19-22: (Charge into room, laying about with various weapons.
     Kortul and Serga are hit.)

Gnolls 23-?: (Continue to make noise, throw spears.  None hit.)

Dania: (More Magic Missiles.  Gnoll 16 dies.) "We're getting nowhere
     like this."

Kory: (Stabs Gnoll 13, it dies.) "Oh, all right, all right.  Hey, you
     guys think you can get out of the way of the corridor?"

Serga: (Hits Gnoll 16, nearly chopping it in two.) "I'll try."

Kortul: "Oh, fuck." (Slices Gnoll 15 to ribbons, jumps back away from

Topash: (Misses Gnoll 18.) "Does this mean what I think it will?"

Navero: (Moves up to meet Gnolls 19 and 20.) "I think Dania is going
     to use her staff, so we should try not to be where she is."

Lao Tsu: (Wisely goes to beat up Gnoll 3.)

Gnoll 3: (Swings, gets critical hit on Lao.  Lao takes a strong hit to
     the leg, his ankle is broken.  He falls to the ground.)

Gnoll 18: "Graits!  Ukerlco man friilu!" (Swings and misses Topash.)

Gnoll 19: (Swings and misses Navero.)

Gnoll 20: (Swings and hits Navero.)

Gnoll 21: "Kayayai!" (Chops into Lao while he's down.  Lao looks very
     unhappy about the situation.)

Gnoll 22: (Charges on Kory and Dania.)

Gnolls 23-26: (Charge in entrance.)

Gnolls 27-?: (You know the routine.)

Dania: "BOLT!" (Lightning crackles from staff.  Most of it goes into
     blowing a respectable hole through Gnoll 22, who is dead before
     he hits the floor.  Some goes through to zap Gnolls 23 and 24.)

Serga: "Wow!" (Chops Gnoll 19's head off.) "I'd hate to have that
     happen to me."

Kory: "Yes.  You would.  Hang on, Lao!" (Runs over and stabs Gnoll 21
     in the back.)

Navero: (Swings, fumbles; his mace goes flying across the room.)

Topash: "I knew it was going to well to last." (Slices Gnoll 18)

Kortul: "Always is." (Chops Gnoll 26, killing it in one swat.)

Lao Tsu: (Crawls away from Gnoll 3.) "That may be tlue, haily one."

Gnoll 3: (Goes ooooooo at the lightning.  Does his best to look

Gnoll 18: (Is looking very tired.  Breaks off combat and tries to run
     back up the corridor.)

Gnoll 20: (Blinks in awe at the Lightning, decides to go over and try
     to kill Dania.)

Gnoll 21: (Turns around, swings and misses on Kory.)

Gnolls 23 and 25: (Grab Gnoll 18, scream at him for a while.)

Gnoll 24: (Swats at Kortul, missing.)

Gnolls 27-?: (More noise, more poorly aimed spears.)

Dania: "Shit!" (Prepares to parry Gnoll 20.)

Navero: "I got him!" (Charges into Gnoll 20's legs with his shield,
     tripping it and knocking it down.)

Dania: "Hey, good move!  BOLT!" (Lightning frazzes down corridor.
     Gnolls 18, 23, 24, and 25 die spectacularly, as do others up the
     corridor, judging by the sound.)

Kory: "Finally, that thing's getting used on someone besides us."
     (Stabs Gnoll 21, kills it.)

Serga: (Moves forward to peer down corridor.)

Kortul: (Also looks down corridor.  Some movement is visible.)

Topash: (Quaffs a healing potion.) "Thank goodness.  There were an
     awful lot of those things, even if they were greasy."

Lao Tsu: (Holds his leg, and thinks, for a moment, that attachment to
     material comforts might not be such a bad thing if it means he
     can carry some of those concoctions.)

Gnoll 3: (Starts creeping along the wall back towards our corridor.)

Gnoll 20: (Cowers on the floor, though still kicking at Navero.)

Other Gnolls: (Sounds of fleeing ensue.)

Dania: "BOLT!" (More lightning.  Ozone fills the air.)

Serga & Kortul: "EEEP!" (Leap back from corridor.)

Kory: "Ok, ok, that's enough.  Excuse me." (Stabs Gnoll 20.)

Topash: (Gets Navero's mace, walks over with it.) "Is there anything
     left up that corridor?"

Kortul: "You look."

Navero: "Hold still!" (Grabs Gnoll 20's legs.)

Lao Tsu: "Excuse this humbre one, but ale you going to ret this one
     hele reave?" (Points to Gnoll 3.)

Gnoll 3: (Grins, tries to look harmless.)

Gnoll 20: "Hungga oorhu mnaai!  Hungga oorhu mnaai!" (Struggles,
     swings at Kory's legs, misses.)

Dania: "Anybody coming?!"

Kortul: (Quickly looks down corridor.) "Nope."

Serga: (Runs back towards Gnoll 3.)

Kory: (Stabs Gnoll 20.)

Topash: (Slices Gnoll 20, who finally dies.  Hands mace to Navero.)
     "Navero, I believe this belongs to you."

Navero: (blushes.) "Oh, yes.  Thank you."

Lao Tsu: (Stoically tries to look like he's not in agony.)

Gnoll 3: "Say there chaps, you seem to have a bit of an advantage over
     me just now..."

Dania: "Huh?"

Gnoll 3: "Seeing as you have me in a bit of a spot, I think I might
     just have to let old allegiances go, and make, shall we say, a
     bit of a proposition?" (Big, desperate grin.)

Kory: "Cool, one that speaks Common!  And has an IQ above our party
     average, it seems.  So, tall, yellow, and smelly, whatcha got for

Serga: "Do we trust him?" (Looks at Kory.) "And what was that about
     the party average?"

Kory: "Some people, other than you of course, do bring it down a tad."

Serga: "Oh."

Gnoll 3: "Since my chief and his advisors are in all probability dead,
     it falls to me to begin negotiations.  So: how about the majority
     of our accrued treasure, you leave all our women and children
     alone?  Hmmm?"

Navero: "Why did you attack us in the first place."

Gnoll 3: "You were trespassing.  And look rather tasty, when one has
     gone without for so long.  This is not the most well-traveled
     part of the complex."

Dania: "How about this: you keep your life, we don't mess with your
     non-coms, and we get some information.  What dungeon is this?"

Gnoll 3: "Why, I'll be happy to answer that.  It's an extensive set of
     caves, corridors, tunnels, passages, and levels. There is no name
     for it that I am aware of, but it does cover, I believe, several
     square miles of territory.  We have not explored even a tiny
     faction of it; most of it is occupied by one tribe or species or
     other, and no one likes visitors."

Serga: "Why don't you get any food?"

Gnoll 3: "We do... most certainly.  If you would like some mushrooms,
     I will be more than happy to provide.  Meat, though, is harder to
     come by.  The other residents know who owns what territory, and
     no one wants to, shall we say, go visiting for supper."

Kortul: "Who owns the place?"

Gnoll 3: "Owns?  You mean, has dominion over the entire complex?  No
     one that I'm aware of.  If one of you surface-dwellers has taken
     over part of the upper levels, I really wouldn't know."

Dania: "How many levels are there?"

Gnoll 3: "I believe this is some 8 floors below the cellars of a large
     castle.  It's difficult to say, though.  The hallways slope, so
     it is difficult to tell where one level leaves off."

Dania: "Great.  Nav, how much paper you got?"

Navero: (Has been healing Lao's leg.) "I have a sheaf of 23 pages
     left!  And a book with large margins."

Kory: "Seen any sorcerous abominations spouting ichor and slime?"

Gnoll 3: "No, sorry.  And I hope I never shall."

Topash: "Where did you learn the common speech?"

Gnoll 3: "I say old chaps, isn't that getting just a wee bit

Dania: "No."

Kory: "Hey, that's not important.  How's about this: how much treasure
     you guys got?"

Gnoll 3: "Most of it would be in the chief's chambers, the key was
     around his neck, if he still has a neck."

Dania: "Great.  Let's go look."

     The Gnoll chief was among the dead out in the corridor, along
with a shamanistic priest, and about 4 more Gnolls.  We had Serga hold
the key, and marched back behind the Gnoll, several deadly things
aimed at his back.
     He finally led us to a large, multi-leveled cave, with a lot of
females and young running around.  After making everyone come out and
lie down on the floor of the main cave, we had Serga, Kortul, Kory,
Dania, and Lao watch over them while Navero and Topash went with the
Gnoll to look at the treasure.  It was sizable; bags full of gems,
some dwarven armor, helmets of the wrong shape to fit Gnolls, some
books, scrolls, and what looked like a genuine Crystal Ball.  After
getting most of the valuable coinage, the stuff that looked magical,
and the books, we bid them good-bye.  The Gnoll never once tried to
stab us in the back... not that we gave him an opportunity.

Daniel Parsons                "Say, why are you being so cooperative?"              "If I stay alive, I'll be chief.
                                         And we'll have lots of meat."

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