Chapter #229

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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 1995 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):         +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        12th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Ged           14th/14th level grey elf priest/mage   (NG) +
+   Mongo         17th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       8th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Bosco         10th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    7/17/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    afternoon                                        +
+   Place:   a dungeon beneath the floor of the Suss Forest   +
+   Climate: mild                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Money is always there, but the pockets change."          +
+                                          - Gertrude Stein   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





            CCXXIX.  The Incredible Hulks





  Ged and certain of the other adventurers have begun
exploring the ancient Sueloise city lost deep within the
Suss forest.  After breezing through two upper levels,
both of which were unoccupied, they have emerged from
some umber hulk burrows into the third level of the
sunken city...



         ________&.__________
         \      ~%       #  |        N
         |__________________|       W+E
                                     S


&.      rubble
~%
\       door
#       broken ceiling from burrows above



  As they quickly learned, this dungeon was much the same
as they remembered it from years ago.  Dropping down into
the corridor from the tunnel above, the small group looked
around, quickly spotting the rubble that part of the north
wall had collapsed into.  Beyond this messy area could be
seen a door, half-opened.

Ged:  Did _we_ leave that door ajar?
Mongo:  No telling.  We were young and stupid then.
Bosco:  We're young and stupid now.  What's changed?
Ged:  (regards Bosco with a recalcitrant eye)  Nothing,
  perhaps.  (points to the rubble along the northern wall)
  Eventually, we'd better have some miners take a look at
  that area as well.
Mongo:  Yeah...no telling if anything's buried behind all
  that shit.

  They spread out into the chamber, Mongo and Gorin on
the west flank, Arnold and Ged in the middle, and Bosco
bringing up the rear.  The immediate target was the half-
open door on the western wall.

Mongo:  That door should lead to other places...all
  the other rooms.
Ged:  Perhaps even new undead...
Lightbringer:  (glowing in the dim chamber)
Arnold:  (feels a vibration in the floor beneath his
  feet)  Aaa?
Mongo:  What the hell?!?
Bosco:  (enthusiastically)  Cave-in!
Mongo:  No, fool!  It's-

  Suddenly, the walls to the north and south trembled,
large cracks appearing along their length.  Within the
space of a few moments, the ancient stone had collapsed
into rubble, admitting four huge, hulking figures into
the room.  Tall, broad, and powerful-looking, the new
arrivals had sharp, curved mandibles on either side of
their jaws.  Having caught the party by surprise, the
monsters literally smashed into their ranks, pushing
Mongo and Gorin to one side and dividing the party.

umber hulk #1:  Grrrgh!  (tears at Mongo with its claws,
  scraping his armor and knocking him to his knees)
umber hulk #2:  (claws at Gorin)  Graaar!
Gorin:  (catches the blow on his shield)  Ugh.
umber hulk #3:  (swipes at Arnold, driving him back and
  staggering him)  Urrrrk!
umber hulk #4:  Nnnngh!  (swings its huge arms at Bosco)
Bosco:  (leaps backward, sword raised)  What's going on?
Ged:  Umber hulks!
Mongo:  (caught by the stare of his foe, he pauses in his
  actions)  Uhh...
Ged:  (to Arnold and the other less experienced henchmen
  or former henchmen)  Don't meet their gazes!  (he waves
  his hands in arcane gestures as he begins spellcasting)
Gorin:  (averting his eyes)  No problem.  (he ducks and
  charges, axe swinging at his foe's feet)
Arnold:  (having already regained his footing and begun
  his charge, he has trouble avoiding the hulks' gazes,
  but somehow persists)  Ah-nold!  (his huge sword swings
  in a deadly arc)
Bosco:  (vanishes into the shadows)
Mongo:  Huh?  (his eyes suddenly blaze to life)  What the
  hell was going on?!?
Ged:  You were perhaps enthralled by the hulks' gazes...
Mongo:  Like last time?!?  No fuckin' way!  (he bounds
  forth, bashing a foe in the stomach with Stormcrest)

  By the time Ged's spell was ready, the hulks' ranks had
been seriously assaulted, despite the element of surprise.
While Gorin's attack had only driven one of the foes back,
Arnold had lopped an entire arm from his foe.  Furthermore,
Mongo's hammer-blow had smashed a second hulk into a wall,
causing a miniature avalanche that half-buried the stunned
foe.

Ged:  For Boccob!  (a shimmering sword of energy appears
  in the air before the elf)
Mongo:  Whoa!
Ged:  (directs the sword toward the hulks, where it arcs
  through the air)  Back!
umber hulk #3:  (slashed by the mystical blade, it reels,
  gushing black blood from a huge stomach wound)  Gluuurk!
Mongo:  Holy shit...now _that's_ a weapon!
Ged:  Yea!
Arnold:  (presses the attack, cleaving his hulk's head in
  half with a single blow)  Yah!
umber hulk #1:  Grrrrurgh!  (it falls, spraying foul blood
  everywhere)
Arnold:  Ah-nold!  (he kicks out, knocking the heavy carcass
  toward the other hulks)
Ged:  Good job!  (he redirects his magical force-blade at
  hulk #4, who is busy fighting Gorin)
Gorin:  (parries a claw-swipe with his axe)  Ha!
umber hulk #4:  Graaargh!  (it prepares for another swipe,
  but is stabbed in the shoulder by Ged's blade)  Aaaargh!
Gorin:  Yeah!  Thanks!
Ged:  No problem...
umber hulk#4:  Grahk!  (still in shock from Ged's blow, it
  suddenly staggers forward)  Grrargh?
Gorin:  What the hell...?
Bosco:  (riding atop the hulk's back, his sword buried in
  its spine)  Whoaaaaa!
umber hulk#4:  (reels into a wall)  Yargh!
Bosco:  Urgh!  (he stubbornly, but barely, holds onto his
  sword pommel)
Mongo:  (smashes hulk #1 a second time, sending bits of
  dark exoskeleton in all directions)  This is for last
  time!  I'll teach you fuckers!  (he bashes the monster
  yet again)  Die!
umber hulk #1:  (battered beyond recognition, it perishes)
Mongo:  Hah!
Gorin:  (he and Arnold close with hulk #4, who is still
  trying to dislodge Bosco and his shortsword)
umber hulk #4:  (begins trying to burrow its way out, via
  the southern wall)  Graaar!

  Thanks to the warriors, and Ged's magical blade, the hulk
didn't get away; shortly, the battle was over.  The warriors
bound their wounds and nursed sore limbs (for umber hulks
were quite strong) while Bosco pretended to investigate the
tunnels from which the hulks had come.

Bosco:  (keeping both eyes out for treasure)
Mongo:  (nursing a sore rib or three)  Urgh...damned things
  surprised us...
Ged:  Yea...I ought to summon a wizard eye to scout ahead
  of us.  (he rubs his brow thoughtfully)  Or at least a
  spell to find traps.
Arnold:  Ah-nold is ready for more huldks.
Gorin:  Gorin isn't.
Mongo:  Maybe those _were_ related to the other ones from
  last time.
Ged:  How would you know?  You were under their influence...
  trying to kill the rest of us.
Mongo:  (shrugs)  Sorry.  I wasn't my natural self.  At
  least it didn't happen this time too.
Gorin:  (points a finger in the air)  There is that.

  Explorations of the umber hulk tunnels revealed a maze of
significant size.  In fact, it took about an hour to check
all of the rocky, winding passages.  Quite a bit of treasure
was found, though:  heaps and heaps of golden coins, a dozen
medium-to-large gemstones, all uncut, and a wand (somehow,
miraculously, sealed within a rusted metal case!)  These
findings cheered the adventurers up considerably, for they
represented the first treasure found in this expedition.

Ged:  By Boccob, with this alone, the entire crew and their
  supplies are paid for!
Mongo:  Yeah...(his eyes gleam)  There ought to be more in
  the dungeons below...a lot more.
Bosco:  Hey, I get a share of all that too, remember?

  After they returned to the main room, they went through
the western door, finding a door and a passage beyond.  Of
course, this was the same place they had explored years
ago, and the room behind the door still contained dried
husks, corpses of long-dead Sueloise.

Lightbringer:  _These_ aren't undead.
Gorin:  (nonchalantly)  Nope.
Bosco:  Think they have any loot?  (he moves to investigate)
Ged:  If they did, we got it last time.  (regarding the
  southern wall of the chamber with curiosity, he begins
  examining the stonework)  I seem to recall a secret door
  here...
Mongo:  Right.  (he helps Ged, and they quickly open a
  panel, revealing a room containing an empty chest)
Arnold:  Empdy?
Ged:  Yup, from last time.
Gorin:  Hmm.  Let's hurry up and find some new areas of
  dungeon to explore.
Mongo:  I agree.
Bosco:  (leaves the corpses and enters the new room, where
  everyone else is standing, looking at the opened chest)
  Hey, someone's already looted this place!
Ged:  (to Mongo)  I just don't think he gets it...

  Leaving this area, they headed southward, quickly finding
the rubble-filled chamber that led to an underground cavern
to the west.  A passage to the east led to three separate
sub-passages.

Ged:  (standing in the first chamber, looking around)
  Boccob!  This was where the runes used to be...
Mongo:  You mean those ones that we figured out, and then
  the floor opened, and stairs went down, to the big room
  with the juggernaut...?
Ged:  Yea.  It seems, though, that neither the stairs nor
  the runes remain.  (he examines the stonework, as does
  Mongo)
Mongo:  Shit.  Nothing!  It's all gone!
Ged:  Perhaps some great magic re-sealed the stairway.
Gorin:  (he and Bosco explore the cave to the west, finding
  a skeleton submerged in a shallow, lime-filled pool)
Bosco:  Say, that guy looks like he's been dead for awhile.
Gorin:  Yeah.
Bosco:  I wonder if Ged's morningstar will want to smash
  him.
Gorin:  Doubt it.  From what I've seen, the weapon would've
  known already, if the skeleton was the kind that needed
  smashing.
Bosco:  Oh.  (he loses interest in the skeleton, and shortly
  thereafter, in the small cavern)

  Finding nothing changed from their last trip to this area,
the adventurers moved into the eastern passage, with its
trio of southbound sub-passages.



KEY TO ROOMS:
    a   entry room
    b   corpse room
    c   secret room
    d   cave-in room
    e   river room/cavern/pool


       ___________________________&.__________
      |    b  __________\  \  a   ~%       #  |     N
      |      |    | c  ||  |__________________|    W+E
      |______|    |____||  |                        S
    _        __&.__     |  |_____________________________
.._| \______|  ^%  |____|   ______    ______    ______   |
    e _\____    d   _______|      |  |      |  |      |  |
    _/      |______|
    \_
..___/



&.      rubble
~%
\       door
#       broken ceiling from burrows above



  They now prepared to explore the westernmost of the three
south-bound passages.

Bosco:  I'm ready!  (he scuttles into the corridor)
Ged:  (issues an exasperated sigh)
Mongo:  You invited him and Peldor originally, remember?
  But look on the bright side...at least he's happy, and
  he hasn't stolen anything yet.





next time :  deeper into the dungeon

notes     :  By the way, a bit of trivia:  if you look at
  the map for the third level of this dungeon (i.e. the
  level re-explored in this episode), you might find it
  familiar...if you played a lot of AD&D 1st edition and
  knew your old DMG inside and out.

  And now for something else...more letters.  With these,
we'll wrap up all commentary on Belphanior and Rillen's
solo adventure and Lao Khan's tournament...

+
+++
+

>>   Thanks for the story, I'm really enjoying Belphanior and
>>   Rillens journey.  It was about time Rillen got another
>>   magical staff.

  Yep...I got sick of the "bladed" one that he used to have.
As in the actual campaign, he seldom used the blade during
combat.



>>  I need another Rillen battle...the play by play in the last
>>  one was great.  I can't wait.
>>
>>  Alan Paris



>>  I must say that this episode you wrote brings out the best
>>  in Rillen.  It's about time he uses his skills to dumbfound
>>  all :D  I just hope that his new staff will be as good as
>>  the main man..
>>
>>  Anyway, I was wondering how are things with the rest of the
>>  group..If you have planned something for them already,
>>  forget my remark and keep it as a secret. Cant wait to see
>>  what you have devised for Alindyar and Lyra..if you don't
>>  mind suggestions, how about Alindyar making himself a POTENT
>>  magical item and making it would turn as a major adventure..
>>  and little prestige would not hurt them..About time others
>>  start taking them seriously.
>>
>>  Veli-Petteri Tervonen

  A good idea...a very good idea...more on this has come from
other readers...



>>  1. How old are you actually now? It may be somewhere out in
>>  the FAQ, but..
>>  2. Do you have plans about the future of Adventurers, eg.
>>  have you thought when the epic 3 will begin? Have you thought,
>>  will they ever die? Though I know that reading adventurers
>>  where everyone has ascended to godhood could be rather strange,
>>  but it would be fun too. Maybe even challenging to write..
>>  3. Can't you really stand keeping Peyote and Halbarad in the
>>  party? I think they are pretty nice guys anyway, so I would
>>  like too see them again yet..
>>  4. In what point did you stop playing? I know you're fictioning
>>  the end of stories (in a pretty good way, though) but still I
>>  consider that those times when they played, were nicer to read..
>>  5. By the way, what I personally would like to see, is Alindyar
>>  and Lyra using spells of their own creation. I've always liked
>>  own spells, and I would have created them myself for my
>>  character(s) in our own campaign, but sad to say it's a little
>>  stupid in a Dragonlance campaign.. Our DM considers it is not
>>  something that fits into it. Too bad. If you have enough
>>  imagination, some rather high-level spells of own design would
>>  be nice to see.
>>
>>  Jouni Heikniemi

1)  25
2)  Haven't though about Epic III...it will certainly involve
    the Greyhawk Wars
3)  I try to bring them back to guest-star, from time to time,
    but, as with many readers, the dynamic duo are a pain to
    deal with sometimes.
4)  Episode 137
5)  We'll see, soon...after Ged/Mongo's adventures, and then
    Peldor's...



>>  It seems things have changed a bit since the last time Rillen
>>  fought in the Great Tournament. Why do the participants have
>>  to take preliminary tests? Are there too many of them?
>>
>>  I hope Rillen wins the gold medal this year.
>>
>>  Regards, Costas

  I envision the tournaments as events that have the same basic
premise, but the specifics vary from year to year.  Admittedly,
Rillen had the toughest qualifying tests.  I don't really have
all the answers about this.



>>  Just read the latest episode and boy was I surpised when
>>  Belphanior starts babbling about Death, dimensions,
>>  gates...hmm..HMMM..sounds like infamous Ravenloft to me :)
>>
>>  Have to say that Belphanior has all qualifications for a
>>  lord of a domain but getting out of that dimension would
>>  fill a complete book.
>>
>>  BTW, have you read _Knight of the Black Rose_ ? Like Lord
>>  Soth, Belphanior would definitely storm through the domains
>>  like a hurricane, leaving dark lords gasping ? for breath..
>>  Still, it would break the group and besides, would it violate
>>  T$R's claims to publish that kind of story?
>>
>>  And what about that dark figure preying on helpless savages?
>>  Another of your loose ends & potential adventures?
>>
>>  Veli-Petteri Tervonen

  Belphanior...Ravenloft...it could happen...I did read that
novel, and rather enjoyed it.  I don't much care what TSR might
say about me using Ravenloft - after all, they sold it to me
so that I might create, and that's what I did/do.
  As for the dark figure...you weren't the only one who wanted
to know...



>>    Who was that masked man in the trees???

>>  And say, was that dark figure with the ax and weatherbeaten
>>  face supposed to be Halbarad?
>>
>>  Miq Millman

  At this point, here's all I have to say about him (taken from
the personalities guide):

  the dark figure
    Roaming the huge expanse of the Burneal Forest, to the
  far northwest, he covertly aided Rillen and Belphanior as
  they rode parallel to the woodland's southern edge.  Quite
  skilled with the great bow, he was too old to be Halbarad.



>>  What happened to the wispy thing?  I didn't think it was
>>  innately magical..perhaps the gate to it's existence was
>>  shut down within the anti-magic field?  Was Belphaniors link
>>  broken?
>>
>>  Perhaps someday, Belphanior can remember when the wispy thing
>>  joined him and head back to Castle Greyhawk? :]
>>
>>  Patrick P. Weeks

  I guess I've now proven that the wispy thing is inherently
magical.  As for Castle Greyhawk, they could have dozens of
episodes worth of adventures in that place.  It's possible.



>>  Very nice story my friend!  Very nice!  A few comments that
>>  you should take with a grain of salt...
>>
>>  Belphanior may wish to investigate the anti-magic shell...
>>  and Rillen may benefit as he could defeat nearly anything
>>  if his opponent could not use magics...
>>
>>  About Ged, Peldor and the like...  I wonder..are you making
>>  up stories for them, or have you thought about running them
>>  solo through an adventure since you're, I mean, they are
>>  there anyway?
>>
>>  Patrick

  A number of people (including Ged's player) have pointed out
that there's no way Belphanior would leave that anti-magic
sphere, if he could take it.  Others have suggested that he
take over the fortress of Lao Khan.  Hmm...



>>  I thought the eye was an artifiact.  Shouldn't that work,
>>  even in an AntiMagic Zone?  Very cool episode, nonetheless.
>>
>>  Jim Sisolak

  Maybe...I guess the anti-magic sphere was also a powerful
artifact.



>>  A great episode ... could you offer some clarification on
>>  what the purposes of the tubes, etc. were? And, details of
>>  Lao Khan would be welcomed ...
>>
>>  Vince.

  I've always been ofthe opinion that Lao was performing all
kinds of experiments on the fallen warriors, in order to try
and create a powerful, controllable fighting force that he
could use to further his mad schemes for power.  Typical bad-
guy mentality...as for his stats, I'll see if I can come up
with something.



>>  Seen any good Bruce Lee movies lately? :)  This has always
>>  been one of my favorite plot lines to use on characters,
>>  I liked your version very much!
>>
>>  Karl Schroeder

  Yeah, this storyline borrowed from _Enter the Dragon_ as
well as most principles of the video game _Mortal Kombat_.



>>  (I must admit, I was hoping they'd resume the final rounds
>>  of the contest after they'd defeated Lao Khan... to first
>>  blood, maybe.)
>>
>>  Roger

  Hmm.  I thought that Lao's actions would have ruined the
whole thing for the honorable, e.g. Rillen and Bruce.



>>    Episode 225 was great.  We ever going to see Bruce vs.
>>  Rillen ?  I guess Bruce would have to win.....
>>
>>  Wayne

  Remember at the end of Rocky III, when Rocky and Apollo
Creed squared off in a sealed gym, just to see who would
win?  The same thing happened in _Any Which Way You Can_
with Clint Eastwood and the bad-guy fistfighter.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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