Chapter #153

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                                +
                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +
                                +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                            tmiller@cimmeria.oit.gatech.edu  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/13th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           13th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       4th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       6th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    8/16/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    morning                                          +
+   Place:   the Raker Mountains, north of the Flinty Hills   +
+   Climate: warm                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Although we are the most intelligent creature on this    +
+    planet, we are also the most inconsistent."              +
+                   - from one of the _Faces of Death_ films  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





         CLIII.  World Tour, part 3:  The Rakers





  Having solved the riddles of the sphinxes, the adventurers
have spent the night camped amidst the Raker Mountains, and
surprisingly enough, made it through the night unmolested.

Ged:  I guess the sphinxes weren't exaggerating - this truly
  _is_ their domain.
Arnold:  Yah.
Bosco:  Good thing you had me along to help you out with the
  riddles.
Rillen:  (prepares to swat the halfling)
Peldor:  (ushers Bosco away)  C'mon, let's go eat over here.

  As soon as breakfast was out of the way, the party was able
to concentrate on the matter at hand, namely, the finding of
the evil mage Mongo sought.

Mongo:  (holding the compass)
Belphanior:  (grabs the item, and observes its needle)  Ah.
Mongo:  Hey!  I'm the only one who's seen this guy - the
  compass can't work for you!
Belphanior:  Oh yes it can.  (he watches the needle)  Once
  a target is picked, the compass finds it unless otherwise
  told.  Hmm, looks like he's to the northeast now.
Gorin:  Damn, that puts him near Bone March...
Mongo:  Great.
Ged:  What?
Mongo:  Armies of humanoids...
Belphanior:  No problem.  That's what fireballs are for.
Peldor:  Hmph.  Easy for you to say.
Arnold:  Yah.

  They rode along the mountain trail, slowly climbing in
altitude, and the day passed uneventfully.  It wasn't
until late afternoon that the adventurers found signs of
life.

Belphanior:  (pointing to some tracks on the ground)  It
  looks like someone else has been by here...
Mongo:  Probably not that elf - he was flying for most of
  the time I saw him.
Rillen:  (listening carefully)  I get the feeling that he
  whom we seek is nearby.
Peldor:  Why don't a few of us go and scout ahead?
Bosco:  Yeah!
Ged:  Seems reasonable.
Belphanior:  Peldor and I shall go.  (they move out)
wispy thing:  (sails quietly after the elf)
Peldor:  Wait here - we'll be back shortly.
Bosco:  (runs off after the other two)  Wait for me!
Gorin:  That's the stupidest halfling I've ever known.
Mongo:  Well...yeah.
Ged:  There was, after all, the matter of the deck of many
  things.
Rillen:  Yes, there was that.

  They anxiously awaited the return of the thieves, but it
was almost half an hour before the trio returned.

Mongo:  What's the deal?
Belphanior:  I think we've found 'em.
Peldor:  There's a small cave a ways up the trail.  A big
  giant is guarding its entrance, but the compass was
  pointing right at that cave.
Belphanior:  Yup.  That's got to be the place.
Bosco:  Yeah, I wanted to sneak up and attack the giant,
  but they wouldn't let-
Peldor:  (claps a hand firmly on his henchman's shoulder)
  Perhaps, Bosco, you haven't been alive long enough to
  appreciate the fact.
Belphanior:  Yeah...that was one _big_ giant.  Of course,
  they're all big, but still...
Rillen:  We need a plan of attack.
Mongo:  Well, I could just toss ol' Stormcrest here at
  that giant...
Ged:  No, I think we need to make a more dramatic entrance
  than that.  Something that'll hopefully take out anything
  hiding in that cave...
Arnold:  Like Ah-nold?
Ged:  No, like a fireball.
Belphanior:  Now you're talking!

  They huddled for a few minutes, planning their attack.
When all aspects had been decided, they made their way up
the steep trail, weapons or spells at the ready.  About ten
minutes later, they were staring at the cave entrance from
afar.  Ged stood at the front of the party, while Mongo and
Arnold prepared to charge, on either side of the elf.  Far
to one side stood Rillen, his great bow raised, an arrow at
the ready.  Peldor, with Bosco and Gorin in tow, moved to
the left, preparing to attack from that flank.  Belphanior
cast Fly upon himself, and sailed high into the air, the
wispy thing drifting along behind him.  The horses were
tethered some distance back along the trail, for various
reasons.

Ged:  Everyone ready?  (he casts his Fireball)

  The giant barely had time to look up before he was caught
in the middle of the great explosion.  Huge gouts of flame
shot from the cave entrance, roasting whatever small brush
had been growing at the cavern's mouth.

Ged:  Boccob!  I'll bet that filled the whole place!
Rillen:  Good.  Maybe this wizard will be slain, and thus
  fail to come out...
Mongo:  Let's go!  (he and Arnold charge for the charred
  cave entrance, which has been caved in by the blast)

  As they approached the smoking hole in the rock, there
was a deep rumbling from somewhere beyond, and the rubble
that blocked the cavern entrance began to tremble.  Then,
a large chunk of melted rock broke free, bouncing toward
Mongo and Arnold.

Mongo:  What the hell...?  (he steps aside as the small
  boulder rolls by)
Arnold:  Aaa.  Look!

  The rubble shattered, and a large, gleaming form moved
toward the warriors.  Almost as tall as the giant, whose
charred form was now beginning to stir, the thing looked
very much like the golems that Ged and Belphanior had
recently constructed.

Ged:  Boccob!  That's an _iron_ golem!
Rillen:  Looks tough.
Ged:  Yea, no kidding.

  As the giant stood up, brushing ashes and rubble from his
body, yet more opponents emerged from the cave.  A tiny,
doll-like thing waddled from the gaping hole re-exposed by
the iron golem's exit; the thing looked like much like a
human infant.  After this small creature, there emerged an
awesome foe indeed:  a hulking, armored knight, clad in
jet-black plate mail that seemed to suck up the sunlight
that shone upon it.  The being's very presence seemed to
radiate fear and depression.

Lightbringer:  (glows fiercely)  Undeaaaaaad!  Slay it!
  Slay it!  Slay it!
Ged:  Settle down.  (he wanders toward the knight)
Mongo:  (stops, just short of the golem)  Huh.  (he hurls
  his hammer, not at the iron foe, but at the giant behind
  it)  For the dwarves!
hill giant:  Huh?
iron golem:  (turns to regard the giant)
hill giant:  (his head disintegrates in the hammer's path,
  and the crack of thunder shakes the ground)  <splat>  (he
  falls, dead)
Peldor:  (covers his ears)  Ow!
Bosco:  (likewise)  Aie!
Gorin:  (likewise)  Yah!
Arnold:  (likewise)  Aaa!
iron golem:  (resumes its march, bearing down on Mongo)
Arnold:  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  No sweat.  We're ready.
Arnold:  We are?
doll-like thing:  (scampers toward Peldor, Bosco, and Gorin
  with surprising speed)  Waah!
Peldor:  (invisible, he doesn't understand why the thing
  seems to be headed right for him)  What the hell is
  _that_?!?
Bosco:  (he awaits the doll's attack)  Got me, boss.
Gorin:  Whatever it is, it's wearing a diaper!
dark knight:  (approacheses Ged, talking in a deep, chilling
  voice)  Prepare yourself, priest.
Ged:  By Boccob, we'll see about that!  (he sallies forth
  to meet the attacker)



                            cave
                         __/    \__

     Bosco                   IRON GOLEM
        Peldor   DOLL-THING
          Gorin                Mongo
                                   Arnold
                  DARK KNIGHT

                                    Belphanior (airborne)
                       Ged              wispy thing

                 Rillen



Rillen:  (lets two arrows fly, and the dark knight is hit
  by both)
dark knight:  Bah.  (ignores the missiles)
Arnold:  Aaa.  (he hacks at the golem with his sword)
iron golem:  <clang>  (it ignores the mighty blow)
Arnold:  (his hands and arms aching from the shockwave)
  Daa!
Mongo:  Dammit!  (he bashes the golem with his hammer,
  denting it)
iron golem:  <CLANG>  (it pauses)
Mongo:  Yeah!  There's more where that came from!
doll-thing:  (leaps upon Peldor, biting madly)  Gblaa!
Peldor:  Aie!  (bats wildly at the attacker)  Get it off
  of me!
Bosco:  (trying to stab at the thing, without much luck,
  for there exists the risk of hitting Peldor)  Uh...
doll-thing:  (sinks its fangs into Peldor's shoulder)
  Hehehehee!
Peldor:  (watches in horror as blood spurts from the hole
  in his armor)  Argh!  (he becomes visible)
Gorin:  Lemme at him.  (he drops his axe, pulls out a
  razor-sharp dagger, and stabs the doll in the head)
Bosco:  Touche!
doll-thing:  Byaaa!  (it falls from the thief and lands
  on the ground)  Yayaya!
Bosco:  Get it!  (he slashes at the thing, slicing its
  belly)
doll-thing:  Bleek!  (stuffing pours from the wound)
Bosco:  Whoa!
Peldor:  (spasming)
Gorin:  What the hell's wrong with him?!?
Ged:  Come on, foul one!
dark knight:  (waiting for the elf to ready his weapon)
Ged:  Come on!  (he swings Lightbringer meaningfully)
dark knight:  (slashes at Ged with a gigantic sword)  You
  seem eager to die, mortal!
Ged:  (takes the blow on his shield, avoiding serious
  damage)  Argh!  Taste holy steel, foul one!  (he bashes
  the knight in the head with Lightbringer)
dark knight:  Eh?  (a bit of black ooze drips from under
  his cracked helmet)
Ged:  Huh?
Lightbringer:  Die!  Die!  Die!
dark knight:  Ah, I see.  A weapon of disruption.  How...
  quaint.
Ged:  Oh, this isn't happening...
Lightbringer:  Impossible!  The evil one lives on!
dark knight:  Indeed!  It takes far, far more than a holy
  weapon to stop a death knight.
Ged:  Do tell.
Rillen:  (fires two arrows at the knight, but they bury
  themselves in his shield)  Damn.
dark knight:  Ha.
Arnold:  (hacks at the iron golem again, digging a small
  furrow in its metallic body)  Ah-nold!
Mongo:  (bashes the golem again, denting its leg)
iron golem:  (reels, then punches the dwarf)
Mongo:  Argh!  (he reels himself, stumbling to the ground
  for a moment)  That hurt!
Belphanior:  (hovering above, he uses his wand of lightning
  to hit the golem with a forked bolt of electricity)  It's
  a good thing I left that lightning rod back in Greyhawk.
iron golem:  (hit by the bolt, it slows down considerably)
Belphanior:  Yes, a good thing.  Hmm, why am I talking to
  myself?
wispy thing:  (hovers above the golem, trembling)
Mongo:  (shocked by trace electricity in the ground near
  the golem)  Eyagh!
Arnold:  (likewise)  Aaa!
Belphanior:  Oops, sorry.

Peldor:  (begins laughing hideously)  Ha hee ha ha hee!
  (as he laughs, his body writhes in horrendous spasms,
  and he drops his sword)
Bosco:  Uh-oh.
doll-thing:  (sails through the air, toward Gorin)  Blee!
Gorin:  Aie!  (he swats at the foe with his magical axe)
doll-thing:  (an arm severed, it bounces off the axe's
  blade)  Bla blee!
Bosco:  (ducks as the arm sails by overhead)  Whoa.
death knight:  (points at Ged, and a hemispherical wall
  of ice appears around the elf)  That should hold you
  for a time.  (he turns to face Rillen)  You!  You are
  next.
Rillen:  Fine by me.  (fires two arrows into the foe)
death knight:  Agh.  Ugh. You surely waste your time.
Mongo:  (bashes the iron golem in the crotch)  Ooo.
iron golem:  (slowed down, due to Belphanior's spell, it
  staggers, though not due to the location of the blow
  as much as its sheer force)
Mongo:  Oh, I forgot.
iron golem:  (belches forth a blast of green gas)  Sssss!
Arnold:  Uh-oh.  Green gas isn'd a good thing for me...
Mongo:  (manages to avoid the gas and its harmful effects
  as he rolls aside)  Ha!
Arnold:  (ignores the gas, unwittingly, as his ring of
  health renders him immune to its effects)  Aaa.  (he
  hacks at the golem, tearing its belly open)  Ah-nold!
  <cough cough>
iron golem:  (falls, unmoving)
Mongo:  I think you killed it, big guy!
Arnold:  Yah, me doo.
Rillen:  (fires two more arrows at the approaching death
  knight, but they just imbed themselves in his shield)
  Hmm.  (he readies his quarterstaff)
doll-thing:  (runs toward Bosco)
Bosco:  Aie!  (he slashes at the thing, but misses)
Gorin:  (his axe raised again)  Hang on, I'm on the way!
red-cloaked elf:  (floats out from the cavern mouth)  Ah,
  I see that my servants have been keeping you busy...
death knight:  (far away, he yet hears this comment, and
  scowls)  Beware your words, mortal...
red-cloaked elf:  (fails to hear this, but looks toward
  Belphanior with evil intentions)  Hmm.
Belphanior:  Huh?  (he redirects his next spell, Melf's
  Minute Meteors, at this new arrival)  Mongo told me all
  about you!
red-cloaked elf:  (laughs as the magical bolts bounce off
  of some invisible barrier)  Ho, ho, ho.  (he begins his
  own spellcasting)
Belphanior:  A Globe of Invulnerability, I see.
red-cloaked elf:  Ah, you are wise indeed in the ways of
  magic.  An elf after my own heart!
Belphanior:  Yep...I want to tear it from your chest and
  eat it!
red-cloaked elf:  Bah.  (he continues his spell)
wispy thing:  (orbits Belphanior's head, then flies at
  the red-cloaked elf)  zzz!

Peldor:  (laughing and twitching, painfully, he begins to
  bleed from his torn muscles)  Ha ha hee haa argh!
Bosco:  Cripes!  (while watching Peldor with fascination,
  he inadvertently allows the doll-thing to get within
  jumping distance)
doll-thing:  Gloo!  (it poises to leap)
Bosco:  No!  (he leaps upon the thing, pinning it down
  with his entire fifty-pound weight)  Now, Gorin, now!
doll-thing:  (writhes, unable to move)  Bloog!
Gorin:  Right on!  (he chops the pinned doll-thing with
  his axe, cutting it in half)  Hah!
doll-thing:  Erp.  (its halves twitch, and then cease to
  move)
Bosco:  Whew.
Gorin:  That got him!
death knight:  (slashes at Rillen, tearing a bloody wound
  in the warrior's side)  Ah.
Rillen:  Argh!  (he bashes the foe with his staff)
death knight:  Ungh!  Well struck, warrior.
Rillen:  Why, thank you.  (he hits the undead again)  Was
  that one up to your standards as well?
death knight:  (watches some of his teeth fly away)  Urg!
  Indeed, indeed...
Mongo:  (he and Arnold are on the ground, watching both the
  red-cloaked elf and the death knight)  Well, someone's
  gonna get it...(he raises his hammer)
red-cloaked elf:  (having flown over to Mongo's right, he
  is able to cast a Prismatic Spray which catches not only
  Mongo and Arnold, but Peldor, Gorin, and Bosco as well)
  Ha!  (multicolored beams spring forth from his hand)
Mongo:  (hit by a green ray, he is poisoned, but staggers
  and lives)  Ugh...
Arnold:  Aaa?  (hit by a blue ray, he is turned to stone)
Peldor:  (still laughing uncontrollably, he is hit by an
  indigo beam, with no apparent effect)  Ha hee haha heho!
Bosco:  (hit by an orange beam, he barely survives as the
  mystical energies ravage his body)  Argh...(he collapses)
Gorin:  (hit by a red beam, he is wounded like Bosco, but
  not as badly, and he reels, then gets up shakily)  What
  the hell was that?!?
red-cloaked elf:  Ha!
wispy thing:  (divebombs the elf)
red-cloaked elf:  What-  (he swats at the wispy thing)
Belphanior:  (casts a Dispel Magic at the red-cloaked elf,
  but since Belphanior is a weaker mage, his spell is
  unsuccessful)  Damn!
red-cloaked elf:  Ha ha ha!  (he prepares another spell)
wispy thing:  (flies toward Peldor)
Ged:  (using a Dig spell, he emerges from beneath the wall
  of ice)  Damn it to hell!  (surveys the situation)  By...
  ARNOLD!  (he begins spellcasting again)  By Boccob, we'll
  witness some real power now!
Lightbringer:  Forget that!  Get the death knight!
Ged:  Shut up!

Peldor:  (dances about, laughing madly, wracked with pain
  from his exertions)  Hee hee ha hee haha urgh!  (he
  bleeds everywhere)
Gorin:  (tries but fails to slow or stop the thief's odd
  ailment)  I wish I knew more about magical stuff...
wispy thing:  (orbits Peldor's head, grinning toothily)
Gorin:  What?
red-cloaked elf:  (casts a Cone of Cold at Belphanior, as
  he has deemed the other elf too dangerous to ignore)
  Freeze, fool!
Belphanior:  (struck by the powerful blast of snow and ice,
  he falls from the sky, apparently unconscious)
Ged:  Boccob...
Belphanior:  (slams into the earth with a sickening thud)
  <thud>
red-cloaked elf:  Oops!  Ha ha!
wispy thing:  (flies over to Belphanior, staring at him
  curiously)  eeee.
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at the elf, but misses)  Shit!
death knight:  (speaks a Power Word, Blind upon Rillen)
  Bletzu!
Rillen:  Yie!  (he finds himself suddenly unable to see)
  Aaaargh!
death knight:  (ignoring the warrior, he instead turns to
  face Ged)
red-cloaked elf:  Hey!  Finish the warrior!
death knight:  Silence.  I am no lackey, to be commanded
  like a cur.
red-cloaked elf:  I said _kill him_!!!  Now, dammit!
death knight:  (his orange eye-specks flare up)  By the
  gods, I warned you...(he begins spellcasting, while
  Rillen wanders about blindly nearby)
Ged:  (having no knowledge of the evil elf's Globe of
  Invulnerability, since he was inside the wall of ice,
  he casts Evard's Black Tentacles upon the opponent)
  Boccob send these-  huh?
red-cloaked elf:  Ha ha!  (laughs as the ebon tentacles
  fall to the ground beneath him, some of the snaring the
  motionless Belphanior)  Oops, looks like you made a
  mistake...heh heh.
Ged:  Damn!
Mongo:  Hey, I'm still here!  (hurls his hammer at the
  evil elf again, hitting this time)
red-cloaked elf:  (grazed by the weapon, he is still hurt
  seriously)  AARGH!  (he begins another spell, with Mongo
  in mind)

  Only Ged, Mongo, and Gorin still stood, for Belphanior
and Bosco were unconscious, possibly dead; Rillen seemed
useless, blinded as he was; Peldor was unable to stop his
laughing, and it appeared that he might laugh himself to
death; and Arnold was now a large statue.  There was the
wispy thing, but it was now hovering near the death knight,
watching him intently.

red-cloaked elf:  (casts an Otto's Irresistible Dance, and
  swoops down to touch Mongo)  Heh heh.  Oh, you'll like
  this, dwarf!
Rillen:  (despite having to blind-fight, he comes close to
  nailing the mage with his quarterstaff right before he
  becomes airborne)  Whoa.
red-cloaked elf:  (looks back, irritated)  I thought I told
  that damned death knight to finish you...ah, well, I'll
  take care of it eventually...(he sails toward Mongo)
Mongo:  Yie!  (he scrambles to duck, but gets tagged anyway)
  Huh?  (he begins dancing uncontrollably)  Hey!  Help!
Ged:  Boccob, aid me!  (he tries his own Dispel Magic on the
  evil elf)
red-cloaked elf:  Aie!  (his magical globe dies)  Damn you!
  (he sails skyward, perhaps to gain a better vantage point
  for his next spell)
death knight:  (to Ged)  My thanks, elf.
Ged:  What?!?
Lightbringer:  (fumes)
death knight:  (his finger blazing, he points at the air-
  borne elf)  I warned you not to mock me, mortal.  (the
  tiny flame shoots toward the red-cloaked elf, turning
  into a huge fireball as it goes)  Now pay the price.
red-cloaked elf:  What-  (he is instantly consumed by the
  blast)
Ged:  Boccob!  That's the biggest fireball I've ever seen!
wispy thing:  (flies around erratically, then heads back
  to the fallen Belphanior)

  As the flames settled, dying out or falling to earth,
Ged and the death knight faced one another.  Gorin stood
to one side, unsure of what he was expected to do at this
point.  Mongo danced, Peldor laughed, and Rillen stumbled
into a boulder, wile trying to get his bearings.

death knight:  Consider the odds.
Ged:  What are you saying?
Lightbringer:  Forget what he's saying!  _I_ say kill him!
Ged:  Quiet, I'm trying to think here.
Gorin:  (stalks the death knight)
death knight:  Not a wise move, son.
Gorin:  Eep.
Ged:  You're not suggesting that we call it even and quit
  this battle, are you?
death knight:  Exactly.  (he whistles eerily, and a huge,
  skeletal black horse lands beside him)
Ged:  Boccob!
death knight:  I have no wish to fight a battle for someone
  who is no more than ashes now.  Even if I killed him.
Ged:  Still-
death knight:  This is not my fight, and there is no honor
  in it.  Let it not be said that Gorath of Krynn fights
  for no good reason.  (he mounts his horse, and takes the
  reins)  I have no wish to battle to the finish with any
  high priest, not when I have unfinished business to attend
  to elsewhere...just as you probably have no wish to do
  battle with a death knight, while your friends lie dead
  or dying around you, and you are their last hope.  (he
  points at Peldor, who is covered in his own blood)  Take
  that fool, for instance.  He'll be dead within a minute.
Ged:  (stammering)  But-
Gorath:  There is no honor lost here, for either of us.
  (he takes to the air, on his mount)  None.
Ged:  ...!
Gorin:  He's got a point, you know.
Lightbringer:  Bah!  No undead can ever be allowed to live!
Ged:  Someday soon, weapon, we shall discuss the meaning of
  the word "parley"...and the word "dying"...
Lightbringer:  Ha-rumph!

  The death knight was no more than a black speck in the
distant sky, and Ged turned to regard the many wounded.





next time :  the mage's cave; on to the east

ftp site  :  ftp.cs.pdx.edu in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  The doll-thing was a bone golem.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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