Chapter #163

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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/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           14th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       6th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       7th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    10/7/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    late afternoon                                   +
+   Place:   a dragon's lair within the Griff Mountains       +
+   Climate: cold outside, but hot in the dragon's cavern     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "A wolf remains a wolf, even if it has not eaten your     +
+    sheep."                                                  +
+                   - V.I.N.C.E.N.T., from _The Black Hole_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                      CLXIII.  Cynder





  Half of the party has followed a captured jermaline into
a mountainside, and these four now confront a monstrous
red dragon - the same one, it turns out, as the one found
by the party years ago, in the dungeons of Aranor!

Ged:  Yea, now I remember!  Belphanior accidentally wasted
  a Wish to get rid of this dragon.
Cynder:  _WASTED_?!?  GRR...
Mongo:  (wishing that he wasn't within Ged's Anti-Magic
  Shell, so that he could throw his hammer and have it come
  back)  Dammit.
Cynder:  WHY, I OUGHT TO ROAST YOU WHERE YOU STAND...
Gorin:  Ulp.
Ged:  (suddenly has an idea truly worthy of his supra-genius
  intelligence)  By Boccob...(he quickly grabs up his old,
  empty Sueloise fire wand)
Peldor:  Whoa, he'll think you're attacking him.
Ged:  Exactly!
Cynder:  (rearing up, he prepares to breathe)
tiny humanoid:  (his eyes go wide with terror)  But master...
Ged:  (yelling to the dragon as he rolls the wand-artifact
  about twenty feet in its direction)  To hell with you,
  you stupid, cowardly old dragon!  We're going to run away
  and you'll never blast us in time!  You're old and weak!
Mongo:  Huh?
Peldor:  (catches on)  Yeah!  And everyone knows it, too!
Mongo:  Uh, I sure hope your spell does what you think it
  does...(he backs into the passage they entered from)
Ged:  (in a low voice, as dragons are apt to hear almost
  anything)  Whoa there, don't get too far from me, or you
  _will_ get roasted...
tiny one:  (dashes forth, away from the party, toward the
  dragon)  Saves me, master!  (he spots Ged's wand on the
  cavern floor)  Eh?  (he lunges for it)
Ged:  I wouldn't touch that if I were-
Cynder:  (breathes)  BLEAAARGH!

  There was a tremendous flaring light as the immense gout
of flame spewed forth, right at the four adventurers - and
was deflected!  In a sphere-shaped area around Ged, the
flames parted, melting the walls and ceiling of the cavern.
The tiny humanoid had just clutched Ged's ancient wand in
its skinny hands when it was bathed in searing flames.

Mongo:  (standing in the midst of the conflagration)  Wow!
  Your spell worked!
Ged:  (stares at the dwarf, irritated)  Of course.  What
  else did you expect?
Gorin:  (stunned by all of this)
Peldor:  (looking around, as the stone outside Ged's magical
  shell melts)  Okay, I admit it.  I'm impressed.
Ged:  As well you should be.  (he produces a roll of thick
  cloth and wraps it around one hand)

Cynder:  (ceases its fiery breath, and sucks in great gulps
  of air)  WHEW.
Ged:  (runs forth, the thick cloth wrapped around his hand,
  and snatches up his steaming wand, sidestepping the faint
  black mark that used to be the tiny humanoid)  Aha!  (he
  runs back to the others)
Cynder:  EH?  YOU LIVE?
Peldor:  Of course, you great fool of a dragon!  We-
Ged:  (grabs Peldor as he runs back toward the tunnel)  We
  got what we came here for, so let's get the hell out!
Mongo:  Uh...okay.
Ged:  And remember, stick close, in case he breathes again.
Peldor:  (now hefting his green torch, he leads the way,
  with Ged behind, and the two dwarves at the rear)
Cynder:  (cursing loudly)  WHAT THE HELL'S GOING ON HERE?!?
  (suspecting the futility of breathing again, he lumbers
  toward the passage, shaking the mountain as he moves)
Gorin:  Whoa!  (he loses his footing on the trembling floor
  of the passage, and falls)
Mongo:  (grabs his henchman's arm and drags him along until
  he can regain his balance)  Come on, this is no time to
  rest!
Cynder:  (slams into the melted wall surrounding the small
  passage, but the adventurers are already gone)  RAAAARGH!

  As they ran along, the whole mountain shook, and behind
them, the passage caved in.

Mongo:  Damn, he's bringing down the whole mountain!
Ged:  Good.  Maybe he'll bury himself.
Peldor:  If only we could be so lucky...

  Shortly, they emerged into the daylight, where the others
and all the horses were waiting.

Belphanior:  Hey!  (he pauses in his current task, that of
  putting one of the tiny humanoid's heads onto a large
  wooden spike in the ground)
Rillen:  What happened?  It feels like an earthquake has
  started...
Bosco:  Yeah, an earthquake.
Gorin:  (shrugs)  It was a big dragon.
Belphanior:  What did you guys _do_?
Ged:  Well, I tricked the dragon into breathing on my wand.
Peldor:  Yeah, then he got pissed big time.
Mongo:  Also we found out that this dragon is the same one
  that YOU-  (points to Belphanior)  -wished away, long ago
  in that dungeon.  He must have found his way here, into
  these mountains.
Belphanior:  (looking around innocently)  Me?
Ged:  You.  (he sees the elf's gruesome handiwork)  Say,
  what's that you've got there?
Belphanior:  It's a head, what does it look like?
Rillen:  We were forced to fight off a few dozen of those
  tiny things.  Fortunately, they proved to be rather...
  inferior warriors.
Arnold:  Yah, inferdior.
Ged:  Oh.
Mongo:  Say, people, I think we need to get the hell away
  from here, pronto.  This mountain might come down around
  our ears any minute!

  They heeded the dwarf's suggestion, and rode westward at
breakneck speed, leaving the trembling mountain behind.  The
peak didn't collapse, but there were numerous rockslides
in the direction that they had come from, and clouds of dust
now hung over that area.

Mongo:  Wow.
Belphanior:  (casts Stoneskin upon himself)  Ahh.

  They rode on for an hour or so, and seemed to be out of
trouble's way, when Belphanior sensed something.

Belphanior:  More souls!
Mongo:  Where?
Belphanior:  Uh...everywhere.

  Just then, dozens of the tiny humanoids swarmed out of
the woodwork!

Gorin:  Woodwork?

  From all sides they came - those on the same level with
the party hurled their miniature darts, while those on the
cliffs above the party dropped rocks and nets.

Rillen:  (catches as many of the darts as he can, but gets
  hit by a few anyway)  Ow!  Ow!
Mongo:  (laughs as darts bounce off of his armor and shield)
  Ha ha!  Stupid little varmints!
Belphanior:  (his Stoneskin deflects the few missiles that
  hit him)
various horses:  (get wounded by the tiny darts)
Ged:  Boccob!  (he watches a net fall)
Peldor:  Uh...
Ged:  (curses as the net covers him, Arnold, and Gorin, as
  well as their horses)  By Boccob!  My belt-
Peldor:  -won't work with that anti-magic shell up!  You're
  crippling us!
Ged:  Oh.  I had assumed that the dragon might come back.
  (snaps his fingers)  Okay, the shell's gone.
Mongo:  (having somehow stayed away from the elf, he hadn't
  even noticed that the shell was still in place)  Die!  (he
  hurls his hammer, taking out several of the tiny foes on
  a ledge above)  Hah!
Peldor:  (becomes invisible)  Time for Peldor to do what he
  does best.
Bosco:  (begins slicing the net, as darts and other nets now
  bounce or slide away from Ged in a ten-foot radius)  Nice
  belt you've got there...
Ged:  Yea, it is.  (one arm now free, he points his wand at
  a cliff swarming with tiny humanoids, and utters a command
  word)  Cspan!

  Suddenly, a number of flaming spheres sailed from the wand
and onto the cliff, enveloping all of the little humanoids.

Belphanior:  Holy shit, make way, the wand is _back_!
Ged:  YES!  Boccob!  (he whirls, as Bosco cuts more of the
  net away, and points the wand again)
wispy thing:  (flits around in the face of one of the tiny
  foes)  pffft.
tiny foe:  Aiee!  (distracted, he trips and falls off of
  the cliff, to his doom)  AAAAaaaa....<splat>
Rillen:  Nice of him to drop in.  (bow in hand, he lets an
  arrow fly)  Hai!
tiny humanoid:  Urghk!  (impaled by two arrows, it sails
  back thirty feet, dead)
Mongo:  (tosses his hammer at a ledge, shattering it and
  sending a dozen of the little humanoids falling to their
  deaths)  Bastards.
Bosco:  (having freed Ged, he shears away the part of the
  net covering Arnold)
Arnold:  (leaps out of the net and charges some charging
  imps)  Aaa!
tiny humanoids:  (they stop in their tracks)  Aie!
Peldor:  (backstabs a tiny humanoid who was about to toss
  a net at Mongo)
tiny humanoid:  Ergh!  (dies)
Peldor:  (becomes visible)  This is like attacking little
  children...
Arnold:  (hacks at the squad of attacking humanoids, sending
  tiny body parts flying in all directions)  Ah-nold!
Belphanior:  (slays another foe with a measly blow)  Huh?
Mongo:  What's the problem?
Belphanior:  So little life force...
Mongo:  Oh.  (he bashes a charging imp, smearing it across
  a boulder)
Ged:  (points his wand at a mob of perhaps thirty foes who
  are about fifty feet away, but charging)  Knec!

  A massive fireball exploded at the center of the band,
and all of the vile little humanoids were roasted to ashes.

Ged:  Boccob!  That dragon did a _great_ job!

  Within moments, there were very few of the tiny foes left
standing - all had either died or fled.  The victorious
adventuers surveyed the carnage.

Peldor:  Once more, Peldor and his servants triumph!
Ged:  Once more, Peldor's mouth grows too big for his own
  good.
Rillen:  And once more, our horses are riddled with these
  stupid little darts.  (he begins tending to his mount's
  wounds)
Belphanior:  (uses his sword to ensure that all the foes
  are really gone)  Yup.

  They rested for a while, healing themselves and their
horses, and then rode on for an hour or so, until night
fell.  Peldor found a sizable cave, which the horses were
able to fit into, and the group camped here for the night.
Watches were set, as usual, and Belphanior decided to sleep
near the cave entrance, so that his sword could detect any
who approached.  Ged built a fire within the cave, using
his freshly-recharged wand to amplify the fire's effects,
much to the chagrin of Mongo and Rillen.
  By some quirk of fate, there were no nighttime incidents,
and morning saw the party refreshed and relaxed as bright
sunlight shone upon the mountains.





next time :

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

notes     :  The little creeps were jermaline - mean little
           suckers, if they come at you by the hundreds and
           their nets and darts aren't deflected by a belt
           vs. normal missiles...
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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