Chapter #214

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells,    +
+  and other terms used in these stories are the property of  +
+  TSR, Inc.  However, this does not mean that TSR in any     +
+  way endorses or authorizes their use, and any such items   +
+  contained within these stories should not be considered    +
+  representative of TSR in any way, shape, or form.          +
+    Due to the nature of the Internet, these stories have    +
+  been widely available since 1991.  I have given them to    +
+  the world freely, and have never intended to market them   +
+  or in any way make money.  However, due to TSR, Inc.'s     +
+  copyright restrictions, old episodes of the Adventurers    +
+  are no longer being archived on any ftp site anywhere.     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The player 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 (or more accurately, a fragment of it):         +
+                                                             +
+   Belphanior    13th/14th/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Rillen        17th level human warrior                (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    7/1/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    early morning                                    +
+   Place:   the southern reaches of the Bandit Kingdoms      +
+   Climate: warm                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "I decided not to waste my life to avenge something       +
+    that I survived."                                        +
+                  - Col. Braddock, from _Missing In Action_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                CCXIV.  The Riftcanyon





  Having fled from Greyhawk after demolishing the city
council building in a fit of anger, Belphanior has been
joined by Rillen, and the pair of adventurers, along with
the wispy thing, are now journeying northward, into the
dreaded Bandit Kingdoms...

Belphanior:  (riding along a half-obscured trail)  This is
  definitely my idea of wilderness.
Rillen:  Aye.  No cities, no towns, no guards...merely a
  wild place.
wispy thing:  (nods its assent)  Pffss.
Belphanior:  Better than Greyhawk, though.  (he spits on
  the ground, knocking a small bug off of its rock)
Rillen:  It's a good thing you cut your losses and got out
  before you killed somebody.  Or worse, somebody important.
Belphanior:  Bah.  They ought to consider themselves lucky
  that I didn't _really_ get riled.
Rillen:  Well, for what it's worth, they did note that no
  one died...so you're not facing a death penalty.
Belphanior:  Well, that's good.  I don't intend to go back
  there, though, so hopefully that's the end of it.

  Shortly, they spotted a barren region on the horizon.  At
first, it seemed to be just a small area, but as they drew
closer, they realized that they were on the western edge of
a leagues-long stretch of dry, sandy ground.

Belphanior:  (consulting a map that he bought in some town
  a few days ago)  Hmm...these must be the wastes leading
  to the Riftcanyon.
Rillen:  The what?
Belphanior:  It's a huge canyon, over fifty leagues long.
  Its western end should be within a day's ride of here.
  Of course, that's the area shunned by everyone, due to
  the weird monsters there...
wispy thing:  (looks at Rillen, its eyes wide)
Rillen:  Hmm.
Belphanior:  Maybe if we go northward for a bit, then east-
  ward...yeah.

  Thus they skirted the western terminus of the vast canyon,
instead finding and following its northern edge.  This route
took them between the Tangles (a small patch of forest to
the north) and the Riftcanyon itself.  In fact, the slope of
the canyon lay merely a hundred feet to the south, and from
time to time, they rode that way, peering over the edge of
the canyon.  The bottom of the drop was usually far enough
down that they couldn't see it; a thick layer of mists was
floating over the lower reaches in most places anyway.
  Weird noises came from within the canyon, reminding them
that this was still a risky place to wander, as they learned
late that day, at dusk...

Belphanior:  Souls!
Rillen:  Where?
Belphanior:  (points)  There!

  From the surrounding caverns and tunnels, most of them
within the canyon, dozens of grey-skinned, black-haired
creatures.  The things were filthy, and had long, white
pointed teeth and sharp talons; their eyes were large,
blank orbs.

Rillen:  What the hell...?  (he cracks his knuckles)
Belphanior:  (snaps his fingers, and a bright nimbus of
  light appears around him and Rillen)  Ah, much better.
Rillen:  I think they thought they were surprising us.
  (he readies his longbow, for the nearest of the things
  is still over fifty feet away)
Belphanior:  They thought wrong.  Blackrazor can easily
  detect such as them...(he prepares another spell)  I'd
  say we're looking at about fifty of the things here.
Rillen:  Yes...and they look carnivorous.  (he nocks an
  arrow)

  Though neither of the two adventurers was of a lawful
bent, apt to refrain from attacking first, it really
didn't matter.  It was fairly obvious that the creatures
meant to attack - they had formed a half-circle around
the pair as they sat on their horses, a half-circle that
was rapidly growing into a full circle...

wispy thing:  (orbiting Belphanior's head)  Brrrrp!
Rillen:  Look at the things squinting there...seems that
  they don't like your light.
Belphanior:  Yeah, well, I bet they won't like this
  either...(he casts his Otiluke's Freezing Sphere,
  and a ball of pure cold blossoms amidst the horde)

  As the ball of absolute-zero cold spread rapidly, the
grey-skinned creatures in its path were frozen solid.
Ice crystals formed on their stiff bodies, and their
toothy mouths were locked in expressions of surprise and
fear.  The vast majority of the things were stopped by
the elf's magic, leaving perhaps a dozen attackers to
charge onward.

Rillen:  Nice spell.  (he lets an arrow fly at a
  nearby foe; the arrow immediately doubles due to the
  magic of his bow)
closest creature:  (knocked back five feet, the thick
  arrows both protruding a foot from the back of its neck)
  Ghaaak!
Belphanior:  Nice shot.  (he watches the remaining dozen
  creatures as they charge toward him)  Can you make a
  few more like it?
Rillen:  Count on it.  (he lets another arrow fly, and
  another rushing attacker falls, impaled by two arrows
  in the chest)  Fortunately, these have no armor to speak
  of...
Belphanior:  (draws his sword, spurs his panicking mount,
  and thanks the gods for his previous notion to buy a
  set of chain barding for the horse)  Good.  'Cause here
  they come...(he charges)  Hi-yah!
Rillen:  (nocks another arrow)

  The elf rode into the fray, slashing wildly.  Within the
space of a few blurred seconds, two of the grey-skinned
things had fallen, bleeding, before Blackrazor.  However,
other foes managed to dismount the elf, knocking him from
his horse to the ground.

Belphanior:  (recoils from numerous claws and teeth that
  tear at him)  Argh!  Ugh!  Aie!  (he stabs another of the
  dirty creatures, in the throat)
thing:  Ghurk!  (it reels, dying)
Belphanior:  (several of his cuts heal up)  Ahhhh...

  Meanwhile, Rillen tossed his bow aside and began spinning
his staff.  Three more of the creatures lay on the rocky
ground, dead by the warrior's arrows.  As the things swarmed
at him and his horse, Rillen let the staff fly, and with
every blow, an attacker reeled back in pain or death.

Rillen's horse:  (bashes a foe with its iron-shod foot,
  staving in the thing's skull)  Neigh!
Rillen:  Good girl...(he kicks a creature away from the
  horse's neck area)
wispy thing:  (flying around, hissing)  Sss!
grey-skinned creature:  Grngh?
Belphanior's horse:  (gallops free of the entire combat,
  trampling various dead and wounded bodies in the process)
  Neeiiigh!
Belphanior:  (slashes and parries, taking wounds but also
  killing foes, which heals wounds and strengthens him,
  enabling him to go on fighting as fresh as if he had just
  started)  Die!  You too!  Yeah!

  Suddenly and without remorse, the weird, violent creatures
broke off their attack, fleeing back in the direction from
which they had come.  They left assorted bodies and parts
of bodies in their wake, grunting and hooting all the while.

Rillen:  Whew...(he leans on his staff, catching his breath)
Belphanior:  We'd better bind your wounds, big guy.
Rillen:  Soon.  We should gather the horses first, and move
  on.
Belphanior:  Well, if you say so...(he suddenly spins around,
  glaring northward, where a rider approaches)  Whoa, what's
  this?
Rillen:  A lone rider...
fellow:  Ho there!

  The man was tall, powerfully built, and garbed in dull
green and brown garments.  His dark skin suggested Flannish
ancestry.  He was fairly young, perhaps thirty, but they got
the impression that the battleaxe at his side had seen its
share of combat.

Rillen:  Ho?
Belphanior:  What do you want?
fellow:  Nothing, really.  (he glances at the gore strewn
  about)  Hmm.  Grimlocks.
Rillen:  Is that what they were?  (he scratches his head)
  What's a "grimlock" anyway?
fellow:  They're blind carnivores...they usually come out
  at night, to steal away the living, back to their caves.
Belphanior:  Where they're eaten, no doubt.  Say, who the
  heck are you, anyway?
fellow:  I am called Garn.  I'm a tracker...originally from
  the Duchy of Tenh, to the north there.  I was returning
  home, but wondered why two lone wanderers would go this
  way.  I was thinking of riding with you, if you don't
  mind.  Strength comes in numbers...
Belphanior:  Fine by me.  I'm Belphanior.
Rillen:  Rillen.
Belphanior:  (he looks around)  We'd better get clear of
  the canyon.
Garn:  Yes...(he breaks his horse into a brisk trot)  I'm
  surprised that nothing more dangerous than a grimlock
  tribe attacked you.
Belphanior:  The day is still young, yet.





next time :  more of the Riftcanyon's denizens show up

notes     :  Hmm, requests for old episodes have risen of
  late.  Wonder why that is...
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