Chapter #215

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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                    +
+                    +
+   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:    late afternoon                                   +
+   Place:   the northern edge of the Riftcanyon              +
+   Climate: moderate                                         +
+   "A friend is one who warns you."                          +
+                                       - Near East proverb   +

              CCXV.  Wandering the Riftcanyon

  Belphanior, Rillen, and the wispy thing, along with their
newfound companion, the ranger Garn, are currently skirting
the wasteland known as the Riftcanyon.  As expected, though,
this journey hasn't gone without incident - even now, vile
forces assault the small band...

Rillen:  (bashes a giant scorpion in the tail, producing a
  sickening "crunch"-ing sound as exoskeleton shatters and
  snaps)  Hai!
giant scorpion:  (draws back a bit)
Garn:  (talking between axe blows and parries)  Good...
  thing that your...wispy friend there...warned us of the
  scorpion's approach!
wispy thing:  (floating in the air above the battle, it
  beams toothily)
Belphanior:  Yeah...giant scorpions don't have souls.
Rillen:  (blocks a claw with his staff)  At least we hope
Belphanior:  (looks puzzled)  Huh?
Garn:  (chops at the second giant scorpion with his axe,
  inflicting a deep cut in the thing's back)  Beware!
Belphanior:  (parries the third scorpion's sting with his
  sword)  Gotcha.
giant scorpion#3:  (whips its tail around and stings the
  elf in the back)
Belphanior:  Argh!  (he falls to his knees)
giant scorpion#3:  (expecting the prey to fall and die, as
  prey always does after being stung, it turns to the other
Garn:  Huh.  The elf's fallen.  (he chops his scorpion,
  splitting its head in half)  Hah!
Rillen:  Whoa!  (he dodges his own foe's sting, and uses
  his staff to flip the scorpion onto its back)
giant scorpion#1:  (trying to flip itself back over)
Rillen:  (uses his staff to push the monster toward the
  canyon edge)  Off you go!
Garn:  Good idea.  (he moves to help, and together, they
  push the scorpion over the edge)
giant scorpion#1:  (flailing uselessly as it plummets into
  the depths of the canyon)
Rillen:  Things are really falling into place now.

  They turned to face the remaining scorpion, which was
now facing them, waving its tail stinger around.

Belphanior:  (rises behind the thing, and then dashes in,
  stabbing the scorpion in the back with his sword and
  spraying yellow ichor everywhere)  Die!
giant scorpion#3:  (collapses, twitching, then dies)
Garn:  (looks surprised)
Belphanior:  Poison doesn't affect me anymore.  Usually.
  (he wipes the gunk from Blackrazor, then sheathes the
  longsword)  Doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like hell,
  though.  Damned scorpions.
Rillen:  Giant scorpions.
Belphanior:  Whatever.  (he produces a jar, and a knife,
  and begins sawing off one of the dead scorpions' tail
Garn:  (looking befuddled)  Why?
Belphanior:  Come on, man!  This is some of the most
  potent poison known...
Garn:  (looks disgusted)
Rillen:  (pushes the other two carcasses off the canyon's
  edge, once Belphanior is done with them)
wispy thing:  (sails down about twenty feet, following
  the plummetting bodies, then decides for some reason
  to come back up)

  Strange noises ensued from the canyon floor far below,
and the trio elected to move onward.

Rillen:  Whew.  Those were...challenging.
Garn:  Moreso than the bugbears earlier, anyway.
Belphanior:  No, those came in handy...I was still slightly
Garn:  A parasite, eh?
Belphanior:  No...a predator.
Rillen:  I see.

  After regrouping their horses and calming the animals,
they rode onward, moving west.  From here on out they
stayed several hundred feet from the edge of the vast
crevasse, for one never knew _what_ would emerge next.
As the three rode, they chatted about various matters,
mostly comparing tales of high (and low) adventure.  It
seemed that Garn was fairly well-traveled, and some of
his stories were at least as interesting as Belphanior
and Rillen's.  The fellow had wandered the region for
the last ten years, engaging in all kinds of ventures,
skirmishes, and the like.  He seemed a decent fellow,
after all, and the adventurers both found themselves
liking him more as he talked.  Of course, the discussion
was highlighted by battles, as local monsters and other
riffraff made their attacks upon the trio.
  Several hours, a dozen orcs, five ogres, and a chimera
later, night had all but crept up on the small group.

Garn:  We ought not to camp anywhere near this damned
Rillen:  Agreed.
Belphanior:  Shall we head northward for five or ten
  minutes, to put some distance between us and it?
Rillen:  Sounds good.

  They moved a good distance northward, past the point
where the Riftcanyon was out of sight, and made a camp.
Rillen volunteered for the first watch, and the others
quickly fell asleep, though Belphanior kept Blackrazor
close at hand.  The wispy thing flew about in the night
air, presumably as a backup guard.  However, all was
quiet for quite some time...

Garn:  Zzzzz.

  In the middle of the night, on Belphanior's shift for
watch duty, a tingle in his sword handle alerted him to
the presence of some visitor that he couldn't yet see.

Belphanior:  Damn...(he looks around)

  Suddenly, a transparent, ghostly image appeared at the
fringes of the campsite.  The thing began a most dreadful
keening - the sound made the adventurers' teeth rattle in
their skulls and sent a chill through their bones.  From
what little they could make out of the thing's body, it
was a withered old hag, albeit a semi-corporeal one, clad
in tattered robes.

Garn:  (awake now)  Aie!  A banshee!  (he hefts his axe)
Rillen:  A thing of the night!  From beyond!
Belphanior:  It still has a soul...(he leaps up and
  charges the groaning spirit)
banshee:  (she frowns, then sails backwards rapidly)
Belphanior:  (swings but misses widely)  Dammit!
wispy thing:  (hovering behind the groaning spirit as it
  retreats)  Sss...
banshee:  (collides with the wispy thing, and recoils,
  screaming madly)  Aieeeeeeeee!  (she floats away fast,
  followed by the wispy thing)
wispy thing:  (doggedly pursuing the spirit)  Ssssss!
banshee:  (out of sight now, and retreating, but still
  screaming into the night)  AIIEEEEEEEeeeee...

  The screaming grew fainter and fainter - then stopped

Rillen:  (looks at Belphanior in confusion)
Belphanior:  (looks at Rillen, and shrugs)
Garn:  What was that all about?
Rillen:  Couldn't tell you.
Belphanior:  If it's any consolation, neither can I...

  The wispy thing never returned, and the adventurers
turned their attentions to their horses, who were all
dead, their eyes wide and their mouths dripping bubbly

Belphanior:  Gods damn it!  (he stalks back and forth
Rillen:  Apparently the horses were easier to kill than
Garn:  Damned shame...

  All was quiet until morning, when the trio awoke and
made a quick, efficient breakfast.

wispy thing:  (reappears, as if nothing happened last night)
  Brrrrrrp!  (it grins, displaying sharp little immaterial
Garn:  (shakes his head in confusion)

  They walked eastward, moving at a slower but still steady
pace now.  The highlight of the day was the gnoll attack,
wherein twoscore of the big humanoids met Belphanior's
Cone of Cold, Rillen's arrows, and eventually Garn's axe
as well as Belphanior's sword and Rillen's fists.  By the
time that battle was over, Belphanior had absorbed
significant amounts of life energy.  He felt mighty for the
rest of the day.
  Late in the afternoon, Garn pointed at a sign imbedded in
the hard ground.  Though defaced with grafitti and chipped
all over, the sturdy wooden sign remained standing.

Garn:  Aha!  A warning sign!
Belphanior:  What?  (he reads the sign)  Greyspire?  Ahead?
  What the hell is Greyspire?
Rillen:  Sounds like a fortress of some kind.  Some vile
  tyrant, no doubt.  We should skirt-
Garn:  No, Greyspire is an anomaly, really.
  It's a huge natural tower of hard greyish rock, filled
  with windows, passages, dungeons...all carved by men and
  dwarves over the last nine centuries.
Belphanior:  Sounds like a dangerous place.
Garn:  It was, until it was taken over by Lord Marcus and
  his wandering troop.
Rillen:  Marcus?
Garn:  He's a great adventurer...a general...
  hell, a king, even.  He's got everything that a lot of
  so-called kings have.
Belphanior:  And you say this guy built a fortress here,
  in the middle of a monster-infested wasteland?
wispy thing:  Pffssssss.
Garn:  You'd have to see Greyspire to understand.  It's
  a natural site for a fortress if ever there was one.
Belphanior:  Whatever.
Garn:  He didn't build it, he took it over and cleaned it
  out.  Now his troops occupy the place - his original
  troops, plus the army he's gathering and housing there.
Belphanior:  Sounds like a sweet setup.
Rillen:  Indeed.
Garn:  Yep.  Anyone else, it all would've fallen apart by
  now.  But Marcus keeps everything running smoothly.
Belphanior:  I'd like to see this place.
Rillen:  And I as well.
Garn:  You'll get your chance - we need to go there to buy
  new horses and get a good - safe - night's sleep.
Belphanior:  How far?
Garn:  We should get there tonight, if we make good time.
Rillen:  Well, let's pick up the pace.  (he takes greater
Belphanior:  (considers flying)

next time :  Greyspire

notes     :  Go see _Pulp Fiction_.  It's a trip.

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