Chapter #165

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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                    +
+                    +
+   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:    10/8/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    late afternoon                                   +
+   Place:   a vast swamp                                     +
+   Climate: slightly cold                                    +
+   "It is unpleasant to go alone, even to be drowned."       +
+                                        - Russian proverb    +

                 CLXV.  The Vast Swamp

  As if being attacked for days on end, buried under an
avalanche, and covered with dirt and grime weren't bad
enough, the adventurers have been transported to parts
unknown, by the red dragon Cynder, who was disguised as
a jermaline while he cast the spell from a scroll.

  The party materialized in midair, but fortunately for
them, midair in this case was only five feet above the
ground, and they fell into a swamp.

Ged:  <splash>  Gahk!  What putrid mud!
Peldor:  (floats to the ground, thanks to feather fall)
  Ah...(he lands, sinking into the six-inch deep mud)
Rillen:  (he and Mongo float down, like Peldor, managing
  to at least keep the mud off of their entire bodies)
Bosco:  (finding himself up to his thighs in the stinking
  mud)  Ugh!  This stuff's _deep_!
Arnold:  (stands up, a massive slime-covered figure)  Ptui.
Belphanior:  Brr.  Not only are we dirty, but now we're wet.
Gorin:  And cold...
wispy thing:  (floating around, above the mud)  sss.
Ged:  Last thing I remember, that tiny varmint was reading
  his scroll-
Mongo:  What in the hell was he doing?
Belphanior:  Spellcasting, I'd say.
Peldor:  Whatever it was, it worked.
Ged:  Yea, but I've never seen a spell like that, before,
  one that can move a whole party...hey!  Where are the

  Verily, all the horses were gone!

Rillen:  (becomes uncharacteristically angry)  Grr...
Belphanior:  They must have stayed behind.
Bosco:  You mean they were left behind.
Rillen:  Humanoid bait...grr.  Someone will surely pay for
Ged:  (looking around)  Our horses...
Gorin:  This is most foul.
Belphanior:  Yeah, horse murder.
Peldor:  (spots a large hill in the distance)  Hey, look!
  Maybe we can go there and get a better vantage point.
Arnold:  Yah.
Mongo:  Sounds good to me.  Let's go.

  They marched through the muck of the swamp, and were soon
at the side of the hill.  It was actually more like a raised
mound, perhaps five hundred feet square; its nearly-vertical
sides towered some fifty feet above the surrounding swamp.
Only weeds and briars grew upon the steep sides, though the
portions of the bank nearest to the ground seemed to have
more loose dirt and rocks.

Belphanior:  Now what in the hell is this?
Ged:  I'm not sure, but I'd like to see what's on top.
Peldor:  So would I.  (without further ado, he grabs a thin
  briar and begins climbing the hill's wall)  Stand by.
Bosco:  Hey!  (he follows his liege, scrambling up the wall
  like a monkey)  Wait up!

  However, the halfling soon lost his grip, as a root tore
free from the hillside, and he fell a short distance to the

Bosco:  Oof!
Ged:  (laughing uncontrollably)
Rillen:  Oh well.
Bosco:  (gets up and brushes himself off)  Whew, tough hill
Arnold:  Yah.
Ged:  Bah.
Bosco:  Why don't _you_ try it, eh?
Ged:  No, that's what thieves are for.
Belphanior:  (considers casting a spell of flying, but then
  decides not to upstage Peldor)  Hmm.

  Meanwhile, the thief climbed quickly, and a few minutes
later, he pulled himself over the top of the hill.

Peldor:  Whoa.

  Scattered around the hill's top were piles of black rocks,
arranged in some sort of pattern.  The thief leaned over the
edge, giving the thumbs-up to the others, and then set out
to explore the (relatively) flat hilltop.  However, aside
from the piles of stone, it was just that - a relatively
flat hilltop.

Peldor:  This is boring.  (he wanders around, examining the
  positioning of the piles of black rock)  Hmm.

  Meanwhile, on the swamp floor below...

Belphanior:  C'mon, let's check the perimeter of this hill.
Mongo:  Yeah, good idea.  (he, Gorin, Ged, and Arnold head
  around the base of the hill one way)  We'll see you in a
Belphanior:  (he, Rillen, and Bosco wander off in the other
  direction)  I should hope so.

  About the time that the two groups met, on the far side
of the hill, Peldor had climbed back down.

Ged:  We didn't find anything, just a bunch of briar-covered
  rock.  How about you?
Belphanior:  Well, on the northern face of the hill, there's
  a portion made up of crumbling sand and gravel, about in
  the center of that side.
Peldor:  (hops to the ground)  If you think that was neat,
  wait until I tell you what _I_ found.
Mongo:  And what might that be?
Peldor:  (drawing in the mud, with a stick)  Hang on.
Arnold:  Peldork the ardist.
Ged:  Looks like...

  Though his artistic endeavor was rather crude, there was
no mistaking what Peldor had drawn.  The skull had two eye
sockets, a nose hole, and several jagged teeth, and seemed
to grin just a little bit.

Peldor:  ...and that's what I saw.
Ged:  Where'd you see _that_?!?
Peldor:  No, you don't understand.  There are little piles
  of black rocks atop this hill - they're scattered in this
  pattern.  Roughly.
Belphanior:  Neat!
Mongo:  Hmm, maybe this is a crypt of some kind.
Ged:  Maybe.
Lightbringer:  (pipes up)  Undead may lurk nearby!  To arms!
Arnold:  (looks around warily)
Bosco:  (looks around fearfully)  Brr.
Rillen:  So...shall be explore the area a bit?
Mongo:  Maybe look for an entrance?
Gorin:  (weighing the risks and the glory in his mind)  Hmm.
Ged:  Well, we should at least look around.
Belphanior:  Maybe at that crumbling part of the hill face
  we found.
Mongo:  Yeah, there could be buried entrances there.
Arnold:  Aaa.
wispy thing:  (flits about, happily)  pfffft!

  They proceeded to the northern face of the hill, and the
dwarves and thieves began prodding and poking the loose dirt
and rocks, with sticks and swords.  Belphanior seemed to
have a preference for the location of the searching, and his
suspicions seemed well-founded.  Within ten minutes, an air-
filled cavity was exposed by the adventurers' efforts.

Mongo:  Look here!  This is part of a tunnel or something!
  Let's do some digging.
Belphanior:  And to think - I left my shovel at home.
Arnold:  Aaa.

  A few minutes later, a crawlspace had been opened, wide
enough for people to move through, one at a time.

Ged:  Hold on one second.  Dusk approaches - and I, for one,
  could use a night of rest.  I have spells to re-memorize,
  you know.
Rillen:  Hmm, perhaps this is a good idea.
Belphanior:  (eager to delve further into the tunnel)  Aw...
Mongo:  Rest is for wimps...but I'll go along with it.
Peldor:  Ah, how the efforts of the mighty are hampered by
  the laziness of the few-
Ged:  (holding his decanter of endless water, he blasts the
  thief with a spray from the magical item)
Peldor:  Aie!  (he backs off)  <glub glub>
Belphanior:  Why, look, there's a face under all that grime!
Peldor:  (looks at his clean hands)  Why, you're right.
Ged:  Hmm.

  Soon, they had set up camp, built a huge fire, and washed
themselves, for the most part.  All of this took place atop
the hill, for Peldor had tied a rope above and used it to
come back down.  Also, the hilltop seemed infinitely more
secure and defensible that the swamp floor/bed.  The dirty
clothes were sprayed, and hung to dry, for the temperature
was not quite down to freezing yet, this autumn.  In fact,
it was noticeably warmer here than in the Griff Mountains.

Belphanior:  Hmm, that would suggest that we've been moved
  quite a distance from where we were.
Ged:  Southward, of course.
Belphanior:  Of course.

  They ate, set watches, and slept, atop the large hill in
the center of the Vast Swamp.

next time :  into the dungeon they go

ftp site  : in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  The more experienced among you may have figured
           out where the party has been transported...if not,
           it will become clear shortly.

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