Chapter #230

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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:    late afternoon                                   +
+   Place:   a dungeon beneath the floor of the Suss Forest   +
+   Climate: mild                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Treat the undead with respect.  In other words, kill     +
+    them quickly."                                           +
+                     - advice from _The Bard's Tale_ manual  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





               CCXXX.  Deeper and Deeper





  Explorations of the Sueloise city continued, as the group
moved down the first of the three passages.  A door on the
right (or western) wall of the passage led to an empty
storeroom, but this wasn't nearly as interesting as what
dominated the passage just beyond the door.  From floor to
ceiling, wall to wall, stretched a carpet of greenish-grey
slime.  The passage and rooms beyond, as far as the eye
could see, were coated with the fungus.

Ged:  Hey, last time we were here, the slime was only in
  one small room.
Mongo:  (who can't really remember)  Was it?
Ged:  Yea.  Hmm, perhaps a fire spell is required...(he
  produces his fire wand and ponders possible command
  words)
Arnold:  (to Bosco)  I'd get back if I were you.
Bosco:  Huh?  (he is yanked backwards by Arnold)
Gorin:  (also heeds the advice)
Ged:  (pointing the wand now)  Knec!

  A streamer of yellowish-orange flame darted forth from
the wand's tip, and then exploded far down the slime-filled
hallway, producing a fireball whose heatwave bowled over
everyone but Mongo.

Mongo:  (feeling his singed beard)  Hey!
Ged:  Oops...maybe the corridor wasn't as wide as I thought.
Arnold:  (staring into the blasted corridor)  Aaa?

  They waited a few minutes, so that the hallway might cool
down, and then ventured into it.  However, if anything had
been within the hall or rooms, it was obliterated; the
entire area was charred, black, and empty.

Mongo:  Hmph.
Ged:  To the second corridor, I suppose...

  They headed to the second of the three corridors, which
as Ged remembered led to a series of crypts.

Bosco:  You mean tombs?
Ged:  Basically.  Each contained some form of undead, more
  powerful than the last.
Lightbringer:  (blazes to life)  I sense undead!
Ged:  Where?
Lightbringer:  To the south!
Ged:  Of course!  (he charges forth)
Mongo:  Err...(he ambles after the elf, hammer swinging)

  As Ged approached the southern end of the crypt-hall,
one of the further doors swung open, revealing a cloaked
form, its pale skin swathed in mists.

form:  (regarding Ged)  YOU!
Ged:  Eh?
Mongo:  (confused)  We should charge...
Ged:  By Boccob, I remember you!  You're the vampire who
  fled from us last time!
vampire:  And I told you we would meet again, priest...
  (he makes a hand motion, and several dimunitive humanoids
  appear from the side door, interposing themselves between
  him and the adventurers)  My...followers.
Mongo:  Those?  Hah!  Kobolds...(he hurls his hammer in the
  kobolds' direction)  Chew on this, punk!
kobold:  (smashed by the weapon, he slams into a wall)  Urgh!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  See?
Gorin:  Hmm.  A good lesson.
Bosco:  I think we should blast them with spells.
Ged:  I agree with you, for once.
Lightbringer:  I don't.  You should charge and smash that-
Arnold:  Aaa.  Look!

  The stricken kobold had regained its footing, and rejoined
its fellows, a pair of small white fangs gleaming in its
scaly mouth.

vampire:  You see?  All who wander into my domain become my
  servants.  (to the kobolds)  Get them!
kobolds:  (charge)

Lightbringer:  Those aren't kobolds, they're vampires!
Ged:  _Vampiric_ kobolds?!?  By Boccob, this is too much!
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer again, as Arnold and Gorin move
  up to complete the defense)  Hiyah!
Ged:  (brings his Mordenkainen's Sword back into play,
  from its place behind the party)  For Boccob!  (the sword
  sails toward the vampire leader)
vampiric kobold #2:  (bashed by Mongo's hammer, it sails
  backward)  Gurrgh!
vampiric kobold #1:  (the first one Mongo hit, it approaches
  Arnold)  Psss...
Arnold:  Aaa!  Vambire!  (he slashes at the tiny foe, cleaving
  it in half before it can even think about attacking him)
  Yah!  (the big warrior kicks one body half aside)  Ah-nold!
Gorin:  You've got a _serious_ reach advantage there...(he
  prepares his axe, as another foe approaches)  Unlike me.
vampiric kobold #3:  (swipes at Gorin, clawing him in the
  shoulder)  Sss!
Gorin:  AAARGH!  (he staggers weakly)
vampiric kobold #3:  (closes in on Gorin, hissing)
Arnold:  Hold on, Gorbin!  I'll save you!  (he stabs the
  vampiric humanoid, totally impaling it and lifting it into
  the air)
vampiric kobold #3:  Sss!  (begins sliding down the blade
  toward the warrior)
Arnold:  Aaa?
vampiric kobold #4:  (gropes at Mongo)
Mongo:  (doesn't even try to dodge the attack, since his
  magical helm protects him from the thing's life-draining
  power)  Hah!
vampiric kobold #4:  (looks up in surprise)  Hngggh?
Mongo:  Yah!  (he bashes the foe atop the head, knocking it
  to its knees)  See, Gorin?  Even undead can be beaten!
Gorin:  (not really in a mood to listen right now)  Agh...
Ged:  (directs his magical spell-sword at the vampire)  You
  won't get away this time, foul one!
vampire:  Oh yes I-  (sliced in the shoulder and arm by the
  blade of energy)  Aaargh!
Ged:  (presses the attack, actually walking toward the foe
  since the four - now three - vampiric kobolds are occupied
  with the others)
Bosco:  (gallantly patrolling the shadows somewhere)
vampiric kobold #3:  (still sliding down Arnold's sword)
  Sss...me get you...
Arnold:  (hurls the vampiric foe from his sword disdainfully)
  Aaa!
vampiric kobold #3:  (hits a wall, rolls, stands, and then
  charges again)  Sss!
vampiric kobold #2:  (the second one Mongo hit from afar,
  it now stalks Gorin)  Sss...
Gorin:  Eyagh!  (he lashes out, slicing the foe's head with
  his battleaxe)  Die!
vampiric kobold #2:  (reels, spraying blood everywhere)
  Eyaaagh!
Mongo:  That's the spirit!  (he bashes kobold #4 again,
  pulverizing its head)  Ugh.
Bosco:  (backstabs kobold #3, dropping it)  Hah!  The mighty
  Bosco strikes!
main vampire:  Aie!  All my forces...defeated!  How can it
  be?
Ged:  I wouldn't worry about it.  (he swings the magical
  sword again, using his mind, and deals another terrible
  blow)
vampire:  Argh!  (he swipes at the elf, but Ged catches the
  blow on his shield)  Gods be damned!
Ged:  Yea, well, Boccob is coming for you...
vampire:  Never!  (he begins turning into mist)
Ged:  (charges forth, swinging Lightbringer, which connnects
  with the semi-solid form)  Die!
vampire:  Eh?  N-nooooooo!  (his body begins dissolving)
Lightbringer:  Perish forever, foul spawn!
vampire:  (very quickly disintegrates, leaving no trace)
Bosco:  Whew.
Mongo:  You can say that again.
Bosco:  Whew.
Ged:  (looking around)  All dead...
Lightbringer:  A good day's work...thus far.
Ged:  See?  I told you we'd find undead to slay.
Lightbringer:  You should have engaged the foe immediately,
  rather than using your spell-sword.
Ged:  Well, its time is about up anyway...(he gestures to
  the shimmering energy-blade, which is breaking up)  The
  spell only lasts so long.
Mongo:  (walking up, he wipes vampire brains from his hammer
  and discards the rag)  Think they had any treasure?
Ged:  No telling.

  They explored the crypts (all of them, not just the one
the vampire squad came from) but only found a pittiance of
treasure - a few dozen coins of gold, some small gems, and
a cheap-looking brooch.

Mongo:  (muttering)  Must've been the kobolds' treasure.
Bosco:  Well, we'll just have to find another place to look
  for treasure.
Ged:  The third passage awaits...
Arnold:  (rather confused as to the layout of this dungeon)





KEY TO ROOMS:
    a   entry room
    b   corpse room
    c   secret room
    d   cave-in room
    e   river room/cavern/pool
    f   empty storeroom
    g   green slime room
    h   junk room (also slime-filled)
    i   crypts


       ___________________________&.__________
      |    b  __________\  \  a   ~%       #  |           N
      |      |    | c  ||  |__________________|          W+E
      |______|    |____||  |                              S
    _        __&.__     |  |_____________________________
.._| \______|  ^%  |____|   ______    ______  i ______   |
    e _\____    d   _______| _____|  |      |  |__    |  |
    _/      |______|        |  f  |  |    __|  \__|
    \_                      |_____\  |   |__\  |__
..___/                      ______|~~|    __|  \__|
                           |  ____ ~~|   |__\  |__
                         __| |__  |  |    __|  \__|
                        |   g   | |  |   |__\  |_
                        |_______| |  |      |    |
                                __|  |__    |____|
                               |        |
&.      rubble                 |    h   |
~%                             |________|
\       door
#       broken ceiling
.       door
~~      beginning of slimed region





Arnold:  Aaa.  Much bedder.

  They headed down the third passage, rediscovering various
chambers as they went.  Two large O-shaped areas to the east
featured wooden pegs on the walls; last time, these had held
items used to open the passage to the level below.  Other
rooms, to the west, held tapestries, and also vats of brack-
ish water.  A larger room, further southward, contained the
rusty body and severed head of an iron golem.

Mongo:  Now _this_ I remember!
Ged:  You should.  It was you who knocked his head off.
Gorin and Bosco:  (regarding Mongo with a sort of awe)
Mongo:  Ah, it was nothing.
Arnold:  Suuuure.

  They headed eastward, through another door (except for
Bosco, who tried but failed to climb inside the golem's
severed head) but found only another empty room with a
wall peg.  The other door, to the west side of the golem
room, contained rotten furniture and an empty chest.  Ged
remembered, pointed out, and opened a secret door, which
revealed a stairway going downward.  The stony steps led
to an octagonal chamber, which contained twelve statues
built into the walls.  The figures' detail and majesty
were extraordinary; each depicted a different person:

  - large, muscled warrior in loincloth
  - old, wizened man with scythe
  - skeletal woman with glowing hands
  - evil-looking man
  - bearded man with rock in hand
  - savage-looking, barbaric man
  - jovial, winking man
  - man sitting on a chair of clouds
  - foppish dandy
  - enraged man with fiery hair
  - sly, shifty-eyed man
  - man underwater, surrounded by fish

Ged:  I remember this, as well!  These are likenesses of
  Sueloise gods!
Mongo:  Yeah...I touched one last time.
Bosco:  (without hesitation, he steps forth, and touches
  the sly, shifty-eyed statue)  AIEE!  (jolted, he flies
  back a few feet)
Ged:  Boccob!
Bosco:  (staggering, he drops his sword)  NOREBO!
Arnold:  (catches the halfling before he can bump into
  a wall)  Nor-who?
Mongo:  Hah.  He's been zapped.
Ged:  Norebo is one of these old Suel deities.
Bosco:  Uh...(he reclaims his fallen sword)
Gorin:  Weird.

  They proceeded through the door to the east, entering
a circular chamber.  However, though this last room had
contained a pedestal and other things of interest, last
time, it was now totally empty!

Ged:  Boccob!  It can't be!
Gorin:  What?
Ged:  Our path to the lower floors...gone!
Mongo:  Maybe we'll just have to find another way.  Take
  heart.

  They searched the final chamber for almost an hour, both
with skill (Mongo and Gorin), spells (Ged), and magical
items (Bosco's ring of x-ray vision)  However, they found
nothing; whatever used to be in the chamber was long-gone
and unrecoverable.

Ged:  Damn!
Mongo:  Hey, it's getting late.  Why don't we go back up,
  talk with the miners, eat, camp...and hit it fresh on the
  morrow?
Arnold:  Food?  (his stomach rumbles)
Bosco:  Yeah, all this monster-slaying makes me hungry!
Ged:  Ah, well.  You're right.  (he regards the circular
  chamber one last time, longingly)  We camp!

  They mapped the place out, crudely but correctly:



KEY TO ROOMS:
    a   entry room
    b   corpse room
    c   secret room
    d   cave-in room
    e   river room/cavern/pool
    f   empty storeroom
    g   green slime room
    h   junk room (also slime-filled)
    i   crypts
    j   rotten tapestry room
    k   vat room
    l   golem room
    m   peg room
    n   rotten furniture room


       ___________________________&.__________
      |    b  __________\  \  a   ~%       #  |           N
      |      |    | c  ||  |__________________|          W+E
      |______|    |____||  |                              S
    _        __&.__     |  |_____________________________
.._| \______|  ^%  |____|   ______    ______  i ______   |
    e _\____    d   _______| _____|  |      |  |__    |  |______
    _/      |______|        |  f  |  |    __|  \__|   |   __    |
    \_                      |_____\  |   |__\  |__    |  |__+   |
..___/                      ______|~~|    __|  \__|   |   ______|
                           |  ____ ~~|   |__\  |__    |  |
                         __| |__  |  |    __|  \__|   |  |______
                        |   g   | |  |   |__\  |_     |   __    |
                        |_______| |  |      |    |    |  |__+   |
                                __|  |__    |____|    |   ______|
                               |        |   __________|  |__
&.      rubble                 |    h   |  | j  \    \      |
~%                             |________|__|.___|____|      |
\       door                            |O   k  |    |      |
#       broken ceiling                  |O______|    |      |
                                            _________|      |   ____
                                           |            l   |  |+   |
                                           |                |__|    |
+       wall pegs (3)                      |.__________________\  m |
.       door                               | $____|||||        |    |
$       secret door                        |      |            |____|
O       vat                                |      |
|||||   stairs                             |  n   |
~~      beginning of slimed region         |      |
                                           |______|



(lower level, reached by the stairs)
                                    __     __
                              ____/    \ /    \
                         |||||____      .      |
                                  \ __ / \ __ /





  They returned to the levels above, noting a total (thus
far) of three places to excavate:  the caved-in section of
the entry room, the other cave-in within the nearby room,
and the earlier caved-in section, above, which the miners
were already working on.
  The guards and porters had not been idle; a full camp
had been constructed, with a spike-filled ditch, guards,
bonfires, and the smells of cooked, and cooking, food.

Ged:  (looking around, as if something was missing)  Hmm...
Mongo:  What?
Ged:  I guess it's time to summon Nenya.
Bosco:  Who?
Ged:  My apprentice, you fool.  She isn't here.
Bosco:  You mean, summon her...like a demon?
Ged:  No.  (he begins casting some minor spell)  Once I
  let her know where we are, via Boccob's magic, she'll
  teleport here.
Gorin:  But why?
Ged:  To help us explore, of course!  She was supposed to
  accompany us from the outset, but it turned out that she
  had to finish up a few things.  (he points at the ground,
  and a red circle appears)  Aha.
Mongo:  (squinting at the magical circle of power)  Glad
  you like it.  (he heads off toward the smells of food)
Ged:  I suppose she'll be along presently.  Meanwhile, I'd
  better set up some magical protections for the campsite.
  (he wanders away)  No telling what might find its way to
  our little setup here.

  Several things of note happened in the next few hours,
primarily the arrival of Nenya.  The elven maid, wearing a
bright green cloak and a longsword strapped to her belt,
was excited from the moment she appeared in the camp.

Nenya:  (to Ged)  Have you had any luck yet?
Ged:  Some monetary treasure...but no extreme magical items
  or tomes.  We did find some statues, though...I'm not
  quite sure what, if any, their powers are.
Nenya:  (sighs)  Tomorrow, then?
Ged:  Yea.
Nenya:  All right.  (she heads off toward Ged's tent, to
  set up her own)

  Also, the dwarven miners had found what appeared to be a
passage, in the uppermost of the three rubble-piles.  It
would still take some hours before enough debris was cleared
to reveal anything of import.
  Another matter of import was the restoration of Gorin's
lost life energy, which of course had been stolen by one of
the kobold vampires.  Though Ged didn't have the necessary
spell on hand, he promised to pray for it, and then cast it
on the dwarf in the morning.
  Finally, one of the guards spotted a humanoid of some kind
in the nearby forest.  The thing, whatever it was, fled the
area before it could be chased down, but the encampment was
on full alert nonetheless, as everyone bedded down for the
night.





next time :  at last, into new Lost City territory!

notes     :  Thanks to Christer Borang for reminding me
  about Nenya.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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