Chapter #234

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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 copy-    +
+  right 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 elven priest/mage        (NG)  +
+     Nenya     8th/9th level female elven warrior/mage       (NG)  +
+  Mongo        17th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+     Gorin      8th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+  Bosco        10th level halfling thief                     (CN)  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    7/18/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:    late afternoon                                         +
+   Place:   a dungeon beneath the floor of the Suss Forest         +
+   Climate: mild                                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "If at first you don't succeed...try, try again."               +
+                                          - variously attributed   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                     CCXXXIV.  Rematch!





  After various trials and tribulations, the adventurers have made
their way to a subterranean cavern, within which lurks one of their
most dangerous adversaries ever:  the juggernaut.  The gigantic
stone automaton was right where they had left it years ago, smashed
into an archway that led to another chamber.

Ged:  (pointing to the thing)  Behold!
Mongo:  Yeah, I see the bastard.
Nenya:  It is most...awesome.
Gorin:  That's about what I've heard.
Arnold:  (looking around, he decides that this is as good a place as
  any for juggernaut-fighting)  Aaa.
Bosco:  (sailing slowly toward the juggernaut)  Gee, do you _really_
  think it's still alive?
Ged:  Well, it survived here for centuries, before we came the first
  time.  It seems probable that a few more years didn't change any-
  thing.
Mongo:  Nope...look.

  The ground began to shake, and the archway's stones and rubble
were dislodged, as the massive juggernaut slowly rolled backward.
Within seconds, it had cleared the rubble, and was turning to face
the party.

Ged:  Okay...let's get the thing!  (he begins spellcasting)
Nenya:  Aye!  (she begins spellcasting as well)
Arnold:  (he and Gorin take a few steps toward the foe)
Gorin:  Maybe we should fly, since we _did_ drink that potion...
Arnold:  Yah, but then we couldn't addack the judgernaud.
Bosco:  (flies about, gawking)  I need bombs or something!
Mongo:  I've got _my_ bomb right here...(he hurls his hammer at
  the juggernaut, and a bolt of lightning follows in its stead)

  The enchanted hammer struck the accelerating juggernaut head-on,
spraying shards of stone in all directions, and the lightning bolt
and resultant thunderclap shook the entire dungeon.  Battle was
joined!

juggernaut:  (slowed somewhat by the force of Mongo's attack, it
  begins picking up speed again)
Bosco:  Wow.
Mongo:  Get ready!  It'll be here before you know it!
Arnold:  (he and Gorin spread themselves apart, so that the foe
  can't get them both at once)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  If you wizards have anything up your
  sleeves, now's the time to-
Ged:  For Boccob!  (he sends a lightning bolt rocketing toward the
  stony attacker)

  If Mongo's hammer and lightning had slowed the juggernaut, Ged's
bolt must surely have hurt it, for his was powerful magic, and the
electricity tore a large crater in the rocky armor of the onrushing
foe.  There was a tremendous "CRACK" to go along with the blast,
which sent smaller arcs of electricity into the ground near the
juggernaut.

Bosco:  (covers his ears)
Ged:  Yea!
juggernaut:  (moving toward Gorin)
Gorin:  (realizes that his axe seems rather small at the moment)
  Uh-oh.  (he prepares to fly off the ground, having consumed half
  of Mongo's potion earlier)
Nenya:  (completes her spell, and a dome-shaped wall of ice appears
  around the juggernaut)  Hah.
Ged:  What'd you do that for?  Gorin was safe - he can fly, for now!
Nenya:  I still wanted to attempt to contain the thing...
Ged:  If my guess is right, that wall won't be enough.
Bosco:  (still floating around, pondering his combat options, which
  are, admittedly, few)  If only Peldor was here to cast spells-

  The ice-dome shattered abruptly, blowing chunks of ice toward the
adventurers.  The juggernaut rolled out, crushing the icy fragments
that lay strewn in its path.

Arnold:  Aaa.  (he charges forth, and hacks at one of the thing's
  lateral ram-heads)  Argh!  (his sword is ringing in his hands,
  from the blow)
juggernaut:  (ignores the blow, and the head-ram butts Arnold,
  knocking him backwards)
Arnold:  Oooof.
Mongo:  Hey!  I didn't know it could do that!
Gorin:  It makes sense...those rams on its sides aren't just for
  show, apparently.
Mongo:  Bah.  (he hurls his hammer again, at a roller)
juggernaut:  (doesn't seem to notice as the weapon bounces off of
  the roller; it veers toward Mongo and Gorin)
Gorin:  (sails a short distance into the air)
Ged:  (casting another spell)  We need to keep hitting it...with
  all we've got.  Hammering away...
Mongo:  Hammering away...sounds good!  (he hurls his hammer a third
  time, and one of the side-rams, a goat-head, shatters)  Yeah!
Nenya:  (like Ged, she is again spellcasting)
juggernaut:  (rolling toward Mongo now, as almost everyone else is
  airborne)
Arnold:  (to one side, gets to his feet)  Ow.
Bosco:  (floats down, landing atop the juggernaut)  I'm here!  (he
  almost loses his footing, but manages to remain standing as the
  construct rolls around the cavern)  Whoa...!
Ged:  Bosco!
Bosco:  (looking around)  Huh?
Ged:  Get OFF of the juggernaut!  We're about to blast it with our
  spells!
Bosco:  (sighs, and flies away)
Nenya:  Fools...what can you do with them?
Ged:  I just don't know sometimes...(he releases his spell)  Let's
  see if I can magically slow the juggernaut down.
juggernaut:  (still chugging along at the same pace)
Ged:  Guess not.
Nenya:  I'll try it the old-fashioned way.  (she sends a cone of
  ice, snow, and frost at the juggernaut)
juggernaut:  (its roller, indeed, its rear third, are suddenly
  encased in ice, and it grinds to a halt)
Mongo:  PER-fect.  (he takes a few steps forward, winds up, and
  tosses Stormcrest with all his might, right at the foe's front
  section)  Die!!!

  As the hammer collided with the construct, there was an earth-
shattering "CRACK", and as the ground trembled, a large crack
appeared in the juggernaut's front section!

Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Yeah!
Ged:  By Boccob!  He injured it!
Arnold:  (dashes forth, and hacks at a ram-head on the thing's side;
  his blow sends chips of stone whizzing about)  Ah-nold!
Gorin:  (plies his axe upon an eagle-headed ram, on the foe's other
  side)  Yeah!
Ged:  (busily weaving the magicks of his next spell)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer, and backs up a bit, wiping sweat from
  his brow)  Whew.
juggernaut:  (lurches, then grinds; the ice on its rear section is
  now cracking and chipping)
Mongo:  Look out - it's busting loose!
Gorin:  (backs off)  It was only a matter of time...
juggernaut:  (bursts free, and slams backwards into a cavern wall,
  sending rocks and dirt cascading down)
Arnold:  Aaa.  (he floats up into the air)
Bosco:  (lands on the juggernaut's back, stabs at it once, then zips
  back into the air)
Mongo:  (running alongside the foe, at a distance, he throws his
  hammer again, chipping a roller)  Keep smacking it!
Gorin:  Easy for you to say - you have a blunt weapon.

  Between their constant tag-team attacks (both physical and magical)
and the fact that most of them were airborne, the adventurers had
managed to seriously injure the juggernaut without suffering any
casualties.  However, the thing had figured out which of its targets
was ground-bound...or perhaps it had a memory.  In any case, the
juggernaut was now rolling full-tilt toward Mongo.

Mongo:  Come on!  (he hurls his hammer yet again, demolishing a
  large chunk of the juggernaut's front)  Hah!
juggernaut:  (still bearing down on the dwarf)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  I won't back down!  Do you hear me?!?
Bosco:  Hey, somebody help him!
Nenya:  (pummels the juggernaut with magical missiles, which dig
  tiny holes in its armor)  Hmm.
Ged:  Allow me.  (he drops a blade barrier right in the juggernaut's
  path, between it and Mongo)  By Boccob, it's going to-

  The juggernaut barreled into the barrier, and there ensued a sound
like a sharp blade being dragged across a dull stone - only several
hundredfold.  Then, tiny shards of metal began whizzing away, in all
directions, as the juggernaut emerged from the barrier.  It was not
undamaged, though; hundreds of tiny, superficial scratches now marked
every inch of its outer armor.
  The rolling construct was now about forty feet from Mongo, and
closing fast.

Mongo:  (now bleeding from a dozen blade barrier shards, which have
  lodged in his armor and flesh; he watches the juggernaut barrel
  toward him)  Fuck me...!  (he hurls his hammer again, splintering
  a chunk from the thing's armor)
juggernaut:  (veers to one side - ever-so-slightly - but continues
  toward the dwarf)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer, and prepares to bash the foe as it hits
  him)  Nev-
Bosco:  (swoops down and grabs the dwarf under one arm)  Gotcha!
Mongo:  What-  Who-
Bosco:  Relax.  You didn't think I was gonna let that thing run you
  over, did you?
Mongo:  The thought never crossed my mind, one way or the other.
Bosco:  Don't thank me, though.  Thank these winged boots - I wasn't
  sure that they'd support both of us...ungh...but they will.  Just
  barely.
Mongo:  Well...err...
Ged:  (busy spellcasting)
Nenya:  (likewise, after chatting briefly with her mentor)
Gorin:  (floating nearby, as is Arnold)
Arnold:  Aaa.  I'm airbornde.
Mongo:  Guess we're all airborne now.

  They were indeed, a fact which caused the juggernaut a great deal
of confusion.  The thing rolled and spun below, but it had no foes
to crush, and after ten seconds or so, it simply stopped moving.

Ged:  ...and I'll make sure it never moves again!  (he transforms
  the floor beneath the construct into mud)
juggernaut:  (slowly begins sinking)
Mongo:  Mired!
Ged:  Excellent!  By Boccob, excellent!
juggernaut:  (its rollers spin, but to no avail - it cannot move)
Nenya:  Here comes the second half of the combination...(she sends
  a tiny ball of flame toward the trapped machine)

  That tiny ball hit the juggernaut and exploded, showering the area
with tongues of flame.  The heatwave bowled most of the adventurers
over, and Bosco dropped Mongo.

Mongo:  Hey!  (protected by a feather falling item in some pocket,
  he floats to the ground)

  At the center of the inferno, mud boiled and rock melted...and
after the conflagration had cleared, an odd sight awaited. The
juggernaut was sunken about ten feet into the floor, and the mud
and stone around it was now fused solid.  Though the foe's stone
rollers tried to spin, it was useless, for they were held fast by
the surrounding rock.

Nenya:  We've trapped it!
Ged:  Good work, all.
Mongo:  (lands near the juggernaut)  It's not over yet.  (he begins
  methodically tossing Stormcrest at the crack in the juggernaut's
  frontal armor)  It won't be over until this fuckin' thing is split
  in half!

  The dwarf was like some tiny machine, such was the methodical
nature of his hurled hammer-blows.  With each impact, more bits of
the juggernaut's armor were chipped away.  Finally, after no less
than a dozen mighty blows, the crack in the juggernaut's armor
widened and spread, not unlike a spiderweb.

Mongo:  (rests for a minute)  Whew...
Bosco:  (flies down, landing on top of the juggernaut, and peers
  into the partially exposed inside of the thing)  Whoa...(he stabs
  his sword into the largest of the cracks)  Aha!
Mongo:  What are you doing-  (the ground trembles)

  Strange grinding sounds came from the mired juggernaut, followed
by loud cracking sounds.  The construct then shattered to bits,
right there in the stony pit; the resulting rubble was so thoroughly
destroyed that one would never have known, from looking at it, that
it had once been anything else.

Mongo:  Ya-hoo!
Bosco:  (stands, atop the ruins)  Yeah!  We killed it!  (he looks
  around)  Just call me...Bosco, Juggernaut Warrior!
Mongo:  (grins, and raises the halfling's hand)  A fine job, good
  Bosco.
Bosco:  (having been lifted a foot off the ground by the dwarf's
  strength)  Uh...
Mongo:  Oh, sorry.

  With the battle over, Ged now took the time to see to the wounds
of his companions.  Arnold was merely bruised, and refused magical
aid, but Mongo looked like a pincushion, with the bits of ruined
blade barrier lodged in his body.  Each one left a separate bleeding
wound after it was pulled out.

Mongo:  Ow.  Ugh.  Arg.  Oh.
Ged:  You're enjoying this, aren't you?
Mongo:  No...but since we beat the juggernaut, it's okay.
Nenya:  (confused by this attitude)
Ged:  (works some healing magic on the dwarf)  I'll have you healed
  in no time.
Arnold:  (regarding the sunken remains of the juggernaut)  Aaa.  (he
  begins urinating into the pit)
Gorin:  (now exploring the chamber)
Bosco:  Hey, wait for me!  (he scampers after the dwarf)

  Indeed, now it was possible to do that which they hadn't been able
to do last time:  explore the juggernaut's cavern.  Over a hundred
feet wide, in any direction, the place turned out to have numerous
tiny side passages, as well as the half-demolished archway.

Ged:  The archway should hold no surprises - we've been there before.
Mongo:  Yeah, it was a pretty big treasure room, as I recall.  (he
  looks around that area)  Hey, last time we were in here, we got
  out through a tunnel that you dug.
Ged:  Hmm.  My tunnel's not here anymore.  Odd.
Mongo:  I wonder where it went.
Nenya:  What of these side tunnels?  (she walks the perimeter of the
  cavern, scattering light-pebbles about to illuminate everything)
Arnold:  We'll have to chedck them out.
Ged:  Yea.  (to Nenya)  Just how many of those pebbles do you have,
  anyway?
Nenya:  Not that many...I've been reclaiming ones I already used, to
  conserve.  The pebbles aren't that easy to make, you know.
Ged:  Agreed.

  For the most part, the small side tunnels were uninteresting; most
of them only went on for ten or twenty feet before ending.  However,
a single passage led to more promising areas...

Bosco:  (emerges from the tunnel with Gorin)  Hey, everybody come
  look!  This tunnel leads somewhere!

  Indeed it did; after winding around for perhaps a hundred feet,
the rocky tunnel opened into a great hall.



                               __
                              /  \
          N                  /    \
         W+E                /      \
          S                /        \
                          /          \
                         /            \
                        /              \
            ___________/    *      *    \
(to cavern) ___________                  |
                       \    *      &    /
                        \              /
                         \            /
                          \          /      * = statue
                           \        /       & = fallen statue
                            \      /
                             \    /
                              \__/



  The hall was huge and diamond-shaped, with a vaulted ceiling
that was perhaps a hundred feet high at its peak.  Though the
chamber was basically intact, there were signs of age and earth
movement; here and there, large stones from the vaulted ceiling
had fallen, smashing on the floor and leaving both craters and
debris.  Sections of the wall had collapsed, and several large
cracks pierced the room's floor.  Yet, the place had a majestic
appearance; three large statues dominated its center, the fourth
had fallen in place.  The statues were over ten feet in height,
and depicted a great warrior, a wizard, and a holy man.  The
toppled statue seemed to have been a thief, though its head was
broken off.
  Besides the statues at its center, the hall had various objects
of art lining its walls.  Some, like the tapestries and paintings,
were merely hanging in place.  Others, such as the vases and urns,
were set in recessed alcoves along the walls.  Counting from the
northern end of the room, and going clockwise, the adventurers
made the following inventory of what was along the walls:



(northern end)     small statuette of a laughing man
(northeast wall)   painting of an ancient battle
                   tapestry of an erupting volcano
                   small silver chest
                   huge glowing ruby, on a pedestal
                   tapestry of an ocean/sky scene
                   small wooden coffer
                   strange device of wires and metal balls
                   vase of sparkling crystal
(eastern end)      large sealed urn of carven stone
(southeast wall)   glass flute
                   mosaic tapestry of a flower-filled garden
                   painting of a golden tower
                   steel trident with etched lightning bolts
                   tapestry depicting a city in the clouds
                   pair of wooden shoes
                   tapestry depicting a funeral of some king
                   small, multicolored spherical gem
(southern end)     golden harp floating within a glass sphere
(southwest wall)   glass box containing greenish clay
                   coil of silvery-grey silk rope, on wall peg
                   well-preserved brown wool robe, with hood
                   large, glittering opal with luminous center
                   golden ring, set with a tigers-eye gem
                   small plate of blue glass in a silver frame
                   glowing tin box
                   jewel-encrusted tube of precious metals
(western end)      (ENTRANCE TO ROOM)
(northwest wall)   large ornate tome covered in green hide
                   foot-long wand-like purple stick
                   small checkered board, and metal pieces
                   a single, ancient gold coin, on a pillow
                   bowl containing four strange black spheres
                   bejeweled crown of platinum
                   diamond-studded amulet
                   skull, in whose mouth is a spoon



  The adventurers gazed at this display of ancient wonders with
great awe.

Nenya:  My word...
Ged:  By Boccob, we came here to find the lost riches of the
  Sueloise, and here they are!





next time :  more priceless Sueloise artifacts are found, the camp
  encounters a problem

notes     :  Reader suggestion of the month:  have the iron dwarf
  driving the juggernaut.
    Many thanks to Eric Boyd, Patrick Weeks, Leonard Bottleman, and
  Lance Dooly for their Suel treasure ideas.  and hey, remember that
  not all the stuff they found is necessarily magical.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



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