Chapter #168

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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:    10/9/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    shortly after noon                               +
+   Place:   an ancient tomb within the Vast Swamp            +
+   Climate: slightly chilly, inside the tomb                 +
+   "I spent a lot of time learning not to react to things    +
+    like other people do.  It's my job.  It doesn't always   +
+    work."                                                   +
+                       - Frank Farmer, from _The Bodyguard_  +

                 CLXVIII.  The Reversal

  The adventurers have eaten lunch and rested, and are now
ready to continue their explorations of the ancient tomb.

Ged:  (having just cast several minor healing spells upon
  the wounded, while Peldor rang his healing bell)  I hope
  the lesson was not lost on anyone.
Peldor:  Yeah, me too.  (looking at the healed ones as he
  imitates Ged's expression)
Belphanior:  Ah, well, it's a risky profession we have...
  someone's gotta take the big risks...
Bosco:  Yeah, like me.  (he puffs his chest out)

  Without much more bickering, they entered the passageway,
Belphanior in the lead, then Mongo, then Ged, then the rest
of the party.  Rillen and Arnold went last, since they had
the most trouble moving through the narrow passageway, and
Peldor volunteered at the last minute to be the _last_ one.

Peldor:  (shrugs)  Well, _someone's_ got to bring up the
  rear.  I'll crawl backwards, in case anything attacks us
  from this direction.

  They crawled through the passageway, which went on for
quite a long way, changing direction several times.  After
what seemed like an endless time, Belphanior, in the lead,
came up against a flush stone wall.

Belphanior:  Huh?  (he begins searching for some trigger or
  other opening mechanism)
Mongo:  Hey, up there!  Hurry it up. would you?
Belphanior:  (ignoring the dwarf, he manages to find a catch,
  and the stone wall slides away)  Aha!  We're there, folks.

  The lithe elf dropped a couple of feet, into the large
chamber beyond the passage.

Belphanior:  Whoa...

  The place was clearly a temple of some sort.  The walls
were decorated with painted scenes, and two rows of heavy
wooden pews filled the north (closer) end of the room, and
a thin wooden railing divided this section of the place
from the tiered dais to the south.  At the center of the
dais was a padded chair, with a large brass candelabrum
to either side.  Right in front of the dais was an altar,
a block of strange blue stone.  In both the southwest and
southeast corners of the chamber were tall white urns, and
near the southwest urn was a skeleton, lying on the floor.
Armored in old black chain mail, it pointed to the west,
where an archway stood, filled with glowing orange vapors.

Belphanior:  (wanders through the room, examining various
  things)  Wow.
wispy thing:  (having floated past the others in the tunnel,
  it pops out and follows Belphanior)
Mongo:  (drops from the tunnel and walks around, his armor
  clanking)  Hey, be careful.
Belphanior:  (finds that the murals on the walls, though
  representing normal life, contain subtle evil overtones,
  such as rotting flesh, skeletal limbs, and worms)  Hey,
  something's wrong here...
Mongo:  No shit.
Ged:  (emerges into the room)  By Boccob!  A nest of evil,
  exposed after countless years!
Belphanior:  (begins pulling on the seat of one of the
  pews)  Ungh!
Ged:  What in the world are you doing?
Belphanior:  (reaches into the hollow space under the pew
  and holds up a handful of silver coins)  Hah!  You would
  ask that!
Mongo:  How'd he...?
Belphanior:  (begins popping up other seats)  Quickly, open
  the portable hole.
Mongo:  Now you're talking.
Ged:  (approaching the altar)  I get an uneasy feeling from
  this thing...
Bosco:  (he and Gorin have entered the room)  Wow!
Gorin:  Don't spoil our luck.
Arnold:  (stuck in the tunnel opening)  Aaa.
Rillen:  (pushes the warrior's feet)  Come on!
Peldor:  (still in the passageway, talking to himself)  At
  least nothing's shown up to attack us from behind...
Bosco:  (about to open one of the front pew seats)  I want
  to find some of the treasure, too!
Belphanior:  NO!  (he leaps over and swats the halfling's
  hands away)
Bosco:  But...
Mongo:  Hey, what gives?
Belphanior:  These two seats are trapped!  I didn't want to
  risk killing some of us...
Ged:  Oh.
Bosco:  Trapped?  (he looks around nervously)
Ged:  (examining the skeleton)  Hmm?
Lightbringer:  Don't expect _me_ to say anything - it's
Ged:  Of course.
Belphanior:  I wonder why it's pointing to that archway?
  Perhaps a sign...?
Ged:  Or a warning.  (he approaches the blue altar-slab)
Bosco:  (looking at a mural of a rotting cow)  Aie.
Arnold:  (enters the room, and looks around)  Aaa.
Rillen:  (likewise)  Hmm.  A strange place, to be sure.
Ged:  (reaches out to touch the blue slab)
Peldor:  (somersaults into the temple)  Okay, everybody
  relax.  I'm here.
Ged:  (touches the blue slab)

  Suddenly, a great bolt of lightning shot out of the blue
altar, tearing down the center aisle, between the two rows
of pews.

Ged:  (directly in the path of this bolt, he gets blasted)
Mongo:  (in the middle of the aisle)  Huh?  (he also gets
  blasted)  Yeaaargh!
Gorin:  (to one side of the aisle, he avoids serious shock
  but still gets hurt)  Argh!
Belphanior:  (to the side, he merely watches this)  Whoa.
  Now I'm _really_ glad I left the lightning rod behind...
Bosco:  (manages to leap behind a pew, avoiding the bolt)
Arnold:  (with Rillen and Peldor in the northeast corner
  of the temple, by the entrance, they also escape damage)
wispy thing:  (near the misty archway, it ignores all of
  these events)

  The altar was now glowing a fiery bluish-red, and every
one of the adventurers who was still in the aisle either
got out of it, or was dragged out.

Ged:  (his hair standing straight up, and his body burned)
Mongo:  (only slightly wounded, somehow)  He needs help!
Gorin:  (staggers toward them)  Me too...

  Mongo used his magical healing rod to cure Ged and Gorin,
though he claimed that he himself was fine.

Mongo:  No, I already told you, I _don't_ need to heal
Belphanior:  Hey, whatever you say.
Ged:  (recovering)  Oh, my aching head...that bolt packed
  quite a wallop...
Gorin:  Yeah, no shit.
Lightbringer:  Well, _I_ thought it felt good.
Bosco:  (eyeing the altar warily)  I don't think it's
  going to fire another one...
Rillen:  Not of its own accord, anyway.  (gets as far away
  from Ged and Belphanior as possible)
wispy thing:  (floating above the altar)  pffft.
Belphanior:  Hey, now, don't touch that...
wispy thing:  (grins)
Ged:  (sits up)  Ow.
Belphanior:  Now how many times have I told you not to
  touch glowing things in dungeons?
Ged:  Oh, shut up.  (he gets up and wanders around, his
  golden hair still standing straight up)
Peldor:  You know, I think your hair looks _so_ much better
  like that.
Ged:  Eh?
Peldor:  And what would the women think?

  Meanwhile, Belphanior scanned the misty archway with his
magical eye, but couldn't discern anything except powerful

Belphanior:  (considers lying to the others, so that they'll
  all follow him through the arch, but inexplicably decides
  against it)  Hmm.  (to Bosco, the only one within earshot)
  Hey, I'm going to check this arch out.  I'll be back in a
Bosco:  (having grown carefree once more, as halflings will,
  despite the bolt of lightning just minutes ago)  Sure,
  okay.  Have fun.
Belphanior:  (quietly disappears into the arch, while no one
  but Bosco is watching)
Ged:  (examining a strange spot in the southern section of
  the eastern wall)  By Boccob, what's this?
Peldor:  Let me see.  (he looks at the thing)  Hmm.  Looks
  like a small slot.
Ged:  I can see that.
Peldor:  (peering into the tiny opening)  There's a small
  circle traced in it, I think...maybe we're supposed to
  put something there?
Ged:  Hmm, yea, that would make sense.
Rillen:  (scanning the temple)  Say, where's Belphanior?
Bosco:  (looking around innocently)  Uh...

  Just then a figure stepped out of the misty archway.  It
looked like Belphanior, as far as the height, and the armor,
and the clothes, and the weapons, and such.  There was only
one small problem:  the brown-haired, red-eyed elf who stood
before them was undeniably female!

she-Belphanior:  What are you all looking at me like that

next time :  much confusion ensues

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

notes     :  Something like this was bound to happen sooner
           or later.

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