Chapter #171

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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) +
+    (LN and female, for now)                                 +
+      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) +
+   Sylvie, a siren (guest)                              (NG) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    10/9/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    early evening                                    +
+   Place:   an ancient tomb within the Vast Swamp            +
+   Climate: slightly chilly, inside the tomb                 +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "If I don't survive, then I'm not the man that's needed." +
+                       - Yuen Chung, from _The Killer Elite_ +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                CLXXI.  Lethal Weapons





  The party, while still unable to "cure" Belphanior's
conditions, had overcome many traps and tricks, and most
recently found a siren, Sylvie.  The adventurers decided
to let Sylvie come with them, as the tomb had proven to
be a dangerous place to roam alone.  After a short break
for rest and food, they prepared to venture down the north
passage of the intersection - the only one that remained
unexplored.

Mongo:  (leading the party again)  Wonder what's behind that
  door ahead?
Belphanior:  (her magical eye glowing steadily now)  I can't
  yet see...
Rillen:  (wondering how the party would be faring without
  the elf's seemingly all-seeing eye)
Arnold:  Aaa.  The door looks normbal.
Ged:  Don't they all, though?
Gorin:  (wondering what might lurk behind the door)
Peldor:  (wondering what's in Ged's pockets)
Bosco:  (whistling merrily)
wispy thing:  (bringing up the rear of the party, for some
  reason)  sss.
Sylvie:  I wish I could tell you more about Acererak, but
  I know nothing.
Mongo:  Don't worry about it, hon.  We'll take care of him.
Belphanior:  Whoever he is.

  Belphanior checked the door, finding it to be free of any
traps, and opened it.  However, only a plain wall of stone
lay beyond.

Belphanior:  Nonsense.  (she begins examining the wall, and
  it soon slides away, revealing a passage)  See?
Ged:  Yea.  (wondering why the party needs Peldor)
Rillen:  (taps the floor ahead, checking for traps)
Belphanior: I detect no traps-
Rillen:  Hmm.  (he examines the floor)  This sounds hollow.
  (a closer inspection ensues)  Why, it _is_ hollow!
Mongo:  Lemme see that.

  Shortly, they had popped open a stone panel in the floor,
revealing a steep, narrow flight of stairs that wound yet
further into the depths of the earth.  They followed the
steps a short ways, and found themselves in a narrow tunnel
which went northward.  The passage was so cramped that the
party had to move in single file; it led about a hundred
feet northward, opening into a more conventional passage.
This corridor ended in a blank metal door.

Belphanior:  (examining the portal)  Hmm.
Mongo:  (pushes against the door, which has no handle)  I'd
  almost say that this looks like adamantite...
Rillen:  What's that?
Mongo:  The strongest metal alloy known to man.  And dwarf.
Gorin:  The finest magical armors and weapons are made from
  it.
Ged:  And doors.
Belphanior:  In any case, I can't find any means of opening
  this thing.
Rillen:  (notices three slots in the door, at waist height)
  Maybe these will provide a clue.
Mongo:  Bah!  I don't need any clues!  Back off!  (he raises
  his hammer)
Arnold:  O-kay!  (everyone backs away)
Sylvie:  (never having seen Mongo in action, she looks a bit
  confused)  What's-

  Mongo hurled his hammer at the door, not once, not twice,
not even thrice, but _five_ times!  The walls and floor
shook with the tremendous force of the blows, and sparks
flew every time the weapon made contact.
  When all was said and done, though, the door still stood,
unmarked in any way.

Mongo:  Holy crap!  It _is_ indestructible!
Sylvie:  (gaping)
Gorin:  We'll never get through that door.
Ged:  (considering a spell or two)  Boccob might have some
  input on that opinion...
Belphanior:  (she shakes her head)  Nah.  If his hammer
  couldn't even dent the door, your spells - or mine - won't
  do any better.
Arnold:  Maybde we should put something in those slods.
Mongo:  (looks up)
Rillen:  Hmm.
Belphanior:  Coins?  (she quickly produces three platinum
  pieces and inserts one in each slot)
Peldor:  Nothing's happening.
Gorin:  Maybe it doesn't want coins.  Maybe it wants...
Bosco:  Gems?  Gee, what a greedy bunch of slots.
Ged:  Blades?

  They tried gems, but no gem any of them carried would fit
in the slots.  Thus, they were forced to try using sword
blades.

Belphanior:  Forget it.  I'm not risking my sword in those
  little slots.
Peldor:  Yeah, me neither.
Mongo:  What about backup swords?  I always seem to have a
  couple...(he produces a broadsword and a longsword from
  his portable hole)  See?
Arnold:  Aaa.  (he digs in his backpack and holds out a
  shortsword)
Ged:  Boccob!  I didn't even know you had that...
Arnold:  Secreds abdound.

  Mongo, Arnold, and Belphanior each took one of the magical
swords, and as one, the three warriors thrust the weapons'
blades into the slots.
  The door opened.

Rillen:  Look, the door is fully a foot thick...
Ged:  That's some serious stopping power.
Mongo:  Yeah, tell me about it.

  As the blades were undamaged, their owners took them back,
and then the party entered the next room.  It was a huge,
pillared chamber, square and over a hundred feet on a side.
Dozens of massive, three-foot wide pillars supported the
ceiling, which loomed about thirty feet overhead.

Ged:  I think we need some more light in here.  (he casts a
  Continual Light on a pillar near the approximate center of
  the big room, brightening things considerably)  Ah.
Rillen:  Much better.
wispy thing:  (sails off into the dimly-lit recesses of the
  room)
Mongo:  That...thing sure is curious.
Belphanior:  Maybe I should name it "George".

  Now they could see significantly more of the room.


    __    ________    ________    __
   |~~|,,|  .  .  |,,|  .  .  |,,|~~|
   |  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  |   ,,  door
   |  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  |   .   pillar
   |  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  |   []  throne on dais
   |  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  |   x   charred area
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  |   ~~  carven face
   |  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  |
   |  .  .  .  .        .  .  .  .  |
   |  .  .        ____        .  .  |
   |  .  .      /      \      .  .  |
   |___________|___[]___|_________x_|



  To the north, three small protruding areas stood, each
with a door.  To the south, an obsidian throne rested upon
a raised ebony dais.  The monstrous chair was inlaid with
silver, and decorated with ivory skulls - truly a fearsome
sight.  In the southeast corner was a brightly glowing gem
of some kind, which cast orange hues upon a large, charred
ring of soot, bones, and equipment.  In each of the northern
corners of the chamber were carven faces with black mouths,
similar to the one found near the entrance to the tomb.

Belphanior:  (scanning the room)  Wow.
Ged:  What now?
Belphanior:  Many things in this room radiate powerful magic,
  including the pillars, the throne, and that thing in the
  southeast corner.  Also those stone faces in the north
  corners.  I would _highly_ suggest that we be careful not
  to touch anything.
Bosco:  Okay.  (utterly heedless of this warning, he wanders
  into the chamber)

  Most of the adventurers headed to the throne, though Bosco
(and Gorin, who was no doubt looking out for the halfling's
well-being) headed for the stone mouths to the north.

Ged:  Look, there.  (he points to a crown and scepter, both
  of which are resting in the seat of the throne)
Belphanior:  So that's where the magical aura's coming from.
Peldor:  Hmm.  (he heads for the throne)  Truly that crown
  is fit for a Peldor.
Rillen:  Or a fool.
Ged:  I bet it fits perfectly.
Peldor:  (picks up the crown, but decides not to try it on)
  Hey, it's tingling.
Ged:  (decides that the scepter must be safe to touch, and
  hefts it)  Hmm, a gold end and a silver end.  Odd.
Mongo:  Bah.  (he heads for the orange gem, followed by
  Rillen and Arnold)
Sylvie:  (follows Rillen and Mongo)  This place scares me.
Arnold:  Don't worry, it scares me too.
Belphanior:  (she is examining the throne items with Ged
  and Peldor)
wispy thing:  (flies through the northwest stone mouth)
  pfffft-  (vanishes)
Gorin:  Hey!  Did you see that?!?
Bosco:  What?  (he peers at the northeast stone mouth)
Mongo:  (looking at the orange gem, close up)

  The thing was huge - definitely one in a million, as gems
went.  Among the charred remains surrounding it were bones,
bits of armor, and blackened parts of weapons.

Belphanior:  (after advising Ged and Peldor not to wear the
  crown, she makes her way over to the area of the gem)
Rillen:  A most fascinating stone, this.
Arnold:  Yah.
Belphanior:  Aie!  The thing literally pulses forth evil!
Mongo:  (considering taking the gem anyway)  Figures.
Belphanior:  (picks up the gem, and her eye glows brightly)
  I get the impression that this is an item of wishing...
Mongo:  All right!
Rillen:  (claps the dwarf on the shoulder)  Remember - evil.
Belphanior:  Aye.  (she takes one final look at the charred
  remains surrounding the gem, and sets it down carefully
  on the floor)  Seems that once, I would have made a wish.
Arnold:  Yah.  (following Rillen's example, he ignores the
  orange gem, and the two of them drag Mongo away from it)
  Come on, Mondo, it's bad.
Mongo:  Damn.  (they head northward, toward Bosco and Gorin)
Bosco:  (very near the northeastern stone face and its dead
  black sphere, he looks back at Gorin)  I think-  Whaaaaa!
  (he is pulled toward the mouth)  Aaaaaaaaaa-  (he vanishes
  into it)
Gorin:  Holy shit!  It ate him!
Peldor:  (dashes over)  Bosco!
Mongo:  (he, too, dashes over; in fact, everyone else does
  the same)
Ged:  (still clutching the crown and rod as he runs)
Mongo:  What happened?!?
Gorin:  One minute he was standing next to that thing...the
  next minute...ZAP!
Peldor:  Aie...poor Bosco...
Mongo:  I know how you feel.
Ged:  (actually looks sad)  Little Bosco wasn't with us on
  the alternate world...he couldn't possibly have known
  about these spheres...
Rillen:  It seems not.
Peldor:  (to Mongo)  Could you - would you - use your sphere
  to try and find out?  I just have to be sure.
Mongo:  Uhh...I guess so.  (he takes a moment to get the item
  out, and then addresses it after thinking for a second)  Is
  Bosco truly dead?
orb:  OF COURSE NOT.
Peldor:  What?!?
Mongo:  Not dead?
Ged:  Boccob!
Rillen:  Wonders never cease...

  Just then, they heard the clash of heated swordplay from
somewhere nearby!

Mongo:  where-
Rillen:  The center door!  (everyone runs toward that door)
Belphanior:  (reaching it first, she sees no traps, and
  pulls it open)  Whoa.

  Beyond was a tiny room, ten feet square, with another open
door in its far wall.  At the threshold of this door was
Bosco, sword raised, fighting over a dozen animated swords
and shields - and losing.

Mongo:  No way!  (he hurls his hammer at one of the swords)
shield:  (interposes itself, and is shattered by the force of
  the blow)
Ged:  Boccob!

  Whether due to Bosco falling back into the room beyond the
door, or the arrival of the others, the weapons ceased their
brutal attack on the halfling, whirling around and sailing
toward the party instead!

Rillen:  Now we've done it.
Sylvie:  Aie.  (retreats to the rear of the party)

  Total carnage ensued, as the eight sets of weapons, each
comprised of a shield and two swords, met the adventurers,
with their expertise, weapons, and bravery.  Mongo, Arnold,
and Gorin took the brute force approach, meleeing with
whichever of the animated weapons they could, trusting in
their heavy armor to save them from lethal blows.  Rillen
used finesse, dodging the weapons and swatting at them with
his quarterstaff.  Belphanior, Ged, and Peldor simply tried
their best to survive the assault - it was impossible to
cast spells or backstab under these conditions.
  It was a long and violent fight, for the shields always
moved to intercept the adventurers' blows, and the swords
were lightning-fast and inflicted terrible wounds.  Some
of them seemed merely competent, while others could have
been wielded by master swordsmen.  The battle took about
five minutes, and though the party was triumphant, none of
its members remained unscathed.  Indeed, several of them
had collapsed from their wounds, and required massive
healing magic.
  Of course, Sylvie, who had lingered back behind everyone,
had escaped unharmed, but she was hardly a warrior, to join
in the party's battles.

Sylvie:  What a battle!  It looked dangerous!
Peldor:  (ringing his bell of healing as Ged casts spells
  and Mongo uses his healing rod)  Yeah.  (he, like all
  the others, is sweating and bleeding profusely)  Whew.
Rillen:  (near collapse)  Now THAT was a true test, worthy
  of a master.
Belphanior:  (bleeding from a dozen cuts)  But we all lived.
Rillen:  It was still a worthy test.
Gorin:  (near death)  Argh.
Mongo:  (his once-pristine armor dented and cut)  Ow.  Ow.
Arnold:  (staring at his nicked sword and rent armor)  We
  need some dwarbves.
Mongo:  Yeah.  Ow.

  Bosco crawled out of a larger room to the north; he was
badly wounded, but alive.  He relayed his tale of being
transported into the room, which he searched for exits,
unsuccessfully.  After that, he had headed south, only to
be met by all eight sets of animated weapons.

Bosco:  Good thing you guys showed up when you did, or I'd
  have been chopped meat!
Mongo:  Yeah, well, I'd say we all got chopped up a bit.
Ged:  Truly.  These are about the last of my healing spells
  for today - if we get in another battle as hazardous as
  that one, we'll _have_ to stop and rest.
Peldor:  (yawns)  It must be bedtime by now.
Rillen:  Not in a dungeon...

  After healing and binding wounds, they double-checked the
room to the north, but Bosco was right - it had no other
exits.  They returned to the large pillared chamber...

Peldor:  Huh?!?  (he points to the western door, which they
  cam ein through)
Rillen:  It's closed!

  Indeed, not only had the thick, indestructible door closed
shut, but it wouldn't open again, as the sword-blade holes
were on the other side.

Belphanior:  So we're trapped here.  (he notices that the
  wispy thing is gone)  Hey, where's the wisp?
Gorin:  Oh, I forgot to tell you in all the excitement.  He
  went through that mouth to the northwest.
Belphanior:  He?

  Before they could ponder this further, Ged yelled for
attention, from the throne area.

Ged:  Come quick!  I've found something!

  The elf had discovered a small, crown-shaped area on the
throne.  The silver-inlaid replica was set into the lower
front portion of the chair, and all but beckoned for some
experimentation.

Ged:  Maybe we should touch the crown to it.
Peldor:  Yeah, maybe you should.
Belphanior:  (she detects no traps, and shares this with the
  party)

  Ged tried touching the area with the crown they had found,
but nothing happened.  However, the rod's silver end (they
tried the gold end first, with no effect) caused a rumbling
sound to begin.

Mongo:  Oh boy, now we've done it!

  They all backed off, but the throne merely sank into the
floor, revealing a five-foot wide passage to the south.

Ged:  Boccob!
wispy thing:  (reappears, from somewhere near the sealed
  adamantite door)  ssss?
Belphanior:  Aie.
Mongo:  Onward!

  The passage opened into a wondrous foyer, with massive
steps widening to the south as they ascended.  Each of the
six steps was composed of a different type of stone:  onyx,
pink marble, lapis, black marble, golden serpentine, and
malachite, in that order.  The walls of the foyer were made
of pure copper, untarnished and shining, set into panels
between frames of rare woods.  The ceiling was solid silver,
and reflected the adventurers' torches tenfold.

Peldor:  Anyone get the impression that we're getting
  close to something important?
Arnold:  Yah.

  Upon the fourth step was a heavy, cylindrical bronze
key, which Mongo grabbed up immediately.

Mongo:  (resists some dire, evil magic)  Nice key.

  At the head of the ascending steps were a pair of mighty
doors, about fourteen feet wide, each, and thirty feet in
height.  They looked much more formidable than the last
big pair of doors.





next time :  the demi-lich

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

notes     :  The 8 sets of animated weapons were empowered
           as follows:  the 1st sword/sword/shield combo
           was ac3, hp 11 per item, +1 to hit and damage,
           attacks as 1st level fighter; the 2nd set was
           ac2, hp 12 per item, +2 to hit and damage, attacks
           as 2nd level fighter...etc etc up to the 8th set.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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