Chapter #247

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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):                +
+                                                                   +
+  Peldor       19th level human thief                         (N)  +
+    Bosco      10th level halfling thief                      (N)  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    Date:       9/25/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                        +
+    Time:       afternoon                                          +
+    Place:      the Green Dragon Inn                               +
+    Climate:    mild                                               +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "What an incredible smell you've discovered!"                    +
+                                    - Han Solo, from _Star Wars_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   CCXLVII.  The Sewer Adventure





  Peldor and Bosco, searching for one of the latter's missing friends,
have entered the sewers of Greyhawk.

Bosco:  Poor, poor Carey.  I wonder if we'll ever find him down here?
Peldor:  Hopefully...(he notices that Bosco is walking _on top_ of
  the water in the sewer)  Huh?
Bosco:  Oh.  (holds up his left hand, which has a single golden ring
  on one finger)  Yeah, I picked up this magical ring somewhere...
  Boy, it's sure coming in handy now...
Peldor:  (scowling as he regards his own, rather wet feet)

  After following the sewer-pipe as it angled rightward, they soon
encountered a T-intersection ahead...

Bosco:  (looking left, then right)  Which way?
Peldor:  (checking the area for any signs of recent passing)  Nothing
  here to tell us which way he went...let's see here.  The water's
  flowing from the right passage, into the left, after it merges with
  the water from the pipe behind us.
Bosco:  So rightward is another dead end.
Peldor:  Probably.  Let's go right.

  They did, and the new section of pipe loomed ahead, endlessly.
However, they hadn't walked more than fifty feet in that direction
when a huge, stinking mass rose before them.  Two long tentacles,
covered with thorny spurs, waved and undulated at the thing's side.
Another long, narrow protrusion rose from the center of the mass;
several bulbous eyes, weirdly out of place on the dirty, smelly
stalk, peered at the two thieves.

Bosco:  Aaa!  It's a walking dungheap!
Peldor:  (having already drawn his sword)  And it's attacking!
  (he uses his magical tattoos to cast Haste upon himself)
thing:  (scuttles toward the pair)

  The thing swatted at the intruders with its tentacles, but it
missed on both counts.  Bosco simply ducked as one tentacle swooped
overhead, while Peldor leaped up and over the second arm, landing
right next to the monster, his torch held in his left hand, his
sword in his right.

Peldor:  Hah!  (he slashes at the creature, slicing a wide gash in
  its dirty hide)
thing:  (recoils, waving its tentacles wildly)
Bosco:  (having moved in, but not far enough to strike as Peldor
  did, he instead stabs at the end of one of the "arms")  Yah!
thing:  (a tiny trickle of blood drips from the new wound)
Bosco:  (dancing around near the monster, waving his sword)  Woo!
Peldor:  Keep at it!  Maybe if we hit it from both sides-
thing:  (having caught on to Bosco's height and movements, one of
  its arms snags the halfling by an arm)
Bosco:  Ack!  It's got me!
Peldor:  (leaps over the monster, slashing at its eyestalk)

  The thief's attack was well-timed and executed, and although his
sword didn't sever the appendage, it did cut deeply, spraying the
airborne Peldor with ichor.

Peldor:  (lands nearby)  Ugh!
Bosco:  (stabbing in vain at the arm that holds him)  Lemme go!
  Lemme go!
thing:  (of course, it isn't listening)
Peldor:  (approaches the thing, cautiously)

  Bosco stabbed the thing again, and as its remaining tentacle
swiped at Peldor, the latter adventurer slashed it with his own
sword.  At this point, suddenly and for no apparent reason, the
monster released Bosco, dropping him in the water near Peldor.

thing:  (shuffles away, slowly)
Bosco:  It's backing off!
Peldor:  I don't believe it...(he backs up a bit)  Come on.
Bosco:  Of course, it's blocking the way we came...
Peldor:  Maybe we wounded it enough to drive it away.  Let's get
  further away, in case it changes its mind.
Bosco:  Another foe, scared away by the mighty Bosco!  (he sheathes
  his sword triumphantly)

  The monster wasn't coming back for more, however, and the thieves
decided to continue their explorations and deal with the thing at a
later time.  They moved further down the pipe, and with greater
caution than before.  However, after several hundred feet (which,
incidentally, took almost half an hour to traverse) the pipe ended
at a shaft, which contained a ladder going up to another grating.

Bosco:  Hmm.  Guess we have to go back the other way.  (he turns
  around)
Peldor:  We'd better keep an eye out for that monster.

  Just then, both thieves were surprised by a slight grating sound
from the sewer wall next to them.  A fairly large piece of wall was
slowly pushing outward, as though someone was coming through.

Bosco:  (looks at Peldor)
Peldor:  (looks at Bosco)

  They drew their swords, and flanked the moving section of stone.
The piece of wall opened up, and a short, dark figure stepped out...

Peldor:  (sticks his sword to the new arrival's throat)  Stop!
Bosco:  (sticks his sword to the new figure's belly)  Yeah!
figure:  (almost jumps through the ceiling)  YIE!

  The two thieves were looking at a four-foot tall, stocky fellow,
a dwarf to be sure.  Middle-aged, the dwarf had greyish hair and
beard, and was dressed in nondescript black overalls and boots.
A large battleaxe hung from his belt, and he held a bright bullseye
lantern in one shaking hand.

dwarf:  Who the _hell_ are you?!?
Peldor:  I'm...Peldor!  (shrugs)
Bosco:  I guess you're not a monster...(he removes his sword from
  the dwarf's stomach)
dwarf:  (eyes Peldor)  I sure would appreciate it if you'd take that
  sword away from my neck, friend.
Peldor:  Um.  (does so)
Bosco:  Who are you?
dwarf:  Name's Darek.  I'm a sewer worker, just checking out this
  area.  Say, are you authorized to be down here?
Peldor:  Of course.
Darek:  Well, you ought to watch out.  There's a gulguthra in this
  section of sewer.
Bosco:  A what?
Darek:  Gulguthra.  Dung eater.  You know...
Peldor:  Does it have two tentacles, and an eyestalk, and smells
  like-
Darek:  Yup.  I guess you found it, then.
Bosco:  Yeah...(he regards the brown stains on his shirt and pants)
  We sure did.
Peldor:  We managed to drive it off, though.
Darek:  (looks surprised)  Really?
Bosco:  I just hope there's nothing even more dangerous down here.
Darek:  Doubtful...(rubs his beard)  Though some say that, in the
  old sewers, beneath these, huge reptiles lurk...masters of the
  lightless domain...
Peldor:  Ah, I'll believe it when I see it.
Darek:  Be careful what you wish for.  (he closes the secret door
  that he came through)  Well, I must be on my way.  (he turns to
  the dead end/sewer opening that Peldor and Bosco just came from)
  Happy trails...
Bosco:  You too.

  With that, the two adventurers took their leave of Darek, and the
grizzled dwarf was quickly out of sight.

Peldor:  (whispering)  Strange.
Bosco:  (whispering)  Why are we whispering?
Peldor:  Because I imagine that these sewer-pipe's walls carry an
  echo quite far.
Bosco:  So?
Peldor:  So...there was something fishy about that guy.
Bosco:  Like what?
Peldor:  He wasn't dressed like any sewer worker I've ever seen...
  and none of them carry big axes like that.
Bosco:  Hey, if _I_ worked down here, I'd carry a big axe like that
  to deal with monsters.
Peldor:  Bosco, you can't carry a big axe like that.  It was bigger
  than you are.
Bosco:  Still, my point stands.
Peldor:  Mine too.  I wonder who Darek _really_ is?
Bosco:  Maybe we should go through that secret door.
Peldor:  Not right now...not with him still roaming around here.
  We'll keep searching, and come back to this area a bit later.
  (using his swordpoint, he makes a scratch in the wall next to
  the secret door)  See, now it's marked.  We'll come back.
Bosco:  Okay.

  Returning to the T-shaped sewer junction, they went the other way
(downstream) without hesitation.  Whatever the strange, stinking
monster had been, there was no sign of it.

Bosco:  Maybe it went to where _we_ entered the sewers.
Peldor:  (scanning the silent water all around)  Maybe...

  Continuing, they found several minor things of interest:  a pack
of (thankfully normal-sized) rats...the hilt half of a two-handed
sword...some scratches on a wall...a small, floating wagon wheel...

Bosco:  (examining the wall, excited)  Well, look here!  (he holds
  up a tiny bit of dark green cloth, which was stuck to the pipe's
  wall)
Peldor:  So?
Bosco:  So, my pal Carey had a dark green cloak, just like this!
  It was his favorite!
Peldor:  So he came this way...
Bosco:  It would seem so.  C'mon, let's get going!

  They continued down the pipe, but after nearly an hour (and more
than a couple rats, bats, and spiders) they seemed to be getting
nowhere.

Peldor:  I wonder...might there be more secret doors around?
Bosco:  We could start looking for them.  Any wall that's got a
  break in the slime coating could be suspect.
Peldor:  Good thinking.  Let's keep an eye out as we walk.

  They did, and this slowed their pace down considerably.  It took
them another hour to reach the end of the pipe, and they had found
no secret doors.  At the pipe's terminus, however, was a wide, open
space, into which the water from their pipe spilled, splashing.
Across this large cavity was another pipe like theirs, which also
emptied into the big area.

Peldor:  A cistern!
Bosco:  Huh?
Peldor:  This must be one of the city's great cisterns.  All the
  sewer water collects in these, and then goes out another pipe to
  the outside.
Bosco:  Oh.  (looks down)  How deep is it?
Peldor:  Beats me, but rumor has it that they're bottomless.
Bosco:  I wonder if Carey came through here.
Peldor:  I'm not too sure he did.  After all, we didn't find any
  more bits of his cloak, which is hard to believe since we found
  that one piece early on, at the "T".
Bosco:  I agree.  Maybe we'd better backtrack, and check the walls
  again.  I smell a secret door in this business, somewhere.
Peldor:  (wondering if he should have gone through the door opened
  earlier, by Darek)  Hmm.

  Growing weary, they backtracked, checking the pipe's slimy walls
more carefully.  Both adventurers had lost all sense of time down
here; it could be noon, or it could be dusk; they wouldn't have
known.  Perhaps an hour after turning back from the cistern, Bosco
found a suspicious-looking piece of pipe wall.

Bosco:  Hold up.  (he examines the wall)  Check it out, I think I
  found something here.
Peldor:  (joins his protege)  I think you have.

  Within a minute, the pair had pried open the concealed door; it
led into a five-foot square tunnel that went off at a right angle.
Unlike the sewer, this tunnel was dry and cool, though it did
stink almost as badly as the main sewer.

Bosco:  Wow...(he closes the door behind them)
Peldor:  I'd suggest we stop talking, and go into stealth mode.
  (he becomes invisible)
Bosco:  (gives a thumbs-up, holds out a tiny box, and motions
  for Peldor to put his torch away)

  Bosco opened a tiny shutter on the box, and a small beam of light
stabbed out.  Apparently the little box contained one of Nenya's
light-pebbles that Bosco had appropriated, and the halfling could
control the amount of light given off by moving the shutter.  With
the bright green torch hidden, they moved along the passage, making
much less light than before, and no noise.  Well, almost no noise.

Peldor:  (motions a stop, frowning, removes his boots, and wrings
  the water from them)

  Indeed, the squishing sound was no longer there, and they resumed
their trek.  Peldor had to hunch over to avoid hitting his head on
the low ceiling, but Bosco just dashed along happily.  After about
ten minutes of stealthy movement through the secret passage, they
heard noise ahead, and killed their light, slowing to a crawl, hands
on their sword-hilts.  A dim light was coming from a side passage
about fifty feet ahead, and faint echoes of strange sounds could be
heard as well.  The adventurers approached carefully, and when they
reached the side passage, they beheld a horrifying sight.
  The light and sound were coming from a small room, connected to
their passage by a short section of intersecting passage.  Within
the room, four foul, rotting things, once human or humanoid, were
resting, leaning against walls or lying on the floor twitching.
Bits and pieces of bodies lay strewn about, and blood splattered
the chamber's walls.
  Without thinking, Bosco had wandered into the small room - for he
had spotted, discarded in one corner, most of a dark green cloak.
The thing was stained with blood, and a few shreds of skin still
clung to it.

Bosco:  (gasping mutely)
ghoul:  Rrrgh?  (turns to face the halfling)
Bosco:  Oh, shit...(he begins digging for his scroll of protection
  from undead)
ghouls:  (all moving toward Bosco now)
Bosco:  Uh...er...(he has the sense to back up, so that only one
  ghoul at a time can fight him)

  Suddenly, the invisible, freshly-hasted Peldor, who had somehow
gotten _into_ the room and behind the undead, backstabbed one of
the stinking fiends, slicing its head and neck in two.

ghoul#4:  (falls, quivering)  Grlrghk...
other ghouls:  (all turn to face Peldor)
Bosco:  (stabs one foe in the lower back)  Die!
ghoul#2:  (wounded, it reels)
Peldor:  (now slashing at ghoul#3)
ghoul#3:  (recoils, swiping ineffectually at the thief, who seems
  able to dodge its every attack)  Slgggg...
ghoul#1:  (stalking Bosco)  Glllth...
Bosco:  (retreats, drawing the undead after him)  Come on!

  The halfling's retreat was a necessary one, for he wasn't sure if
he could hold his own in a one-on-one battle, and he knew that some
undead could paralyze you with but a touch.  Unfortunately, his
movements left Peldor facing two wounded ghouls...

Peldor:  (leaps over both foes' heads, and then slashes one of them)
ghoul#2:  (falls, its leg nearly severed)  Graaahk...
ghoul#3:  (claws Peldor in one shoulder)  Ssslth!
Peldor:  Argh!  (he feels a cold tingling in his shoulder, but yet
  resists the undead's foul touch)  Damn...(becomes invisible again)
ghouls:  Hnrgh?
Peldor:  (sneaks around the ghouls and goes after Bosco)
Bosco:  (about twenty feet down the passage, he is busy parrying
  ghoul#1's attacks)  Watch it, bub!
ghoul#1:  Grggh...
Peldor:  (backstabs the ghoul, slaying it, and turns visible)
Bosco:  Hey, there you are!  Thanks!
Peldor:  We've got to kill the other two, and quickly!
Bosco:  Gotcha.  (they both turn back, spotting the remaining two
  ghouls at the junction of chamber and passage)
Peldor:  I've got an idea...(he uses his TK ring to lift one ghoul
  and smash it into the other)
ghoul#2:  Rrrgh!
ghoul#3:  (knocked into a wall)  Glrk...

  Peldor kept this up, as it seemed a safe sort of attack, but
Bosco crept back into the fray, and while the ghouls were being
batted around by Peldor, the halfling stabbed one squarely in the
back, dropping it.  The remaining ghoul looked around, but Peldor
had already covered the distance, and the thief slashed at the last
foe, twice, while Bosco hacked it from one side.  The ghoul didn't
last more than a few more seconds.

Peldor:  Whew.  I sure do miss Mongo at times like this.
Bosco:  (re-enters the side chamber)  Carey...
Peldor:  (puts his hand on the halfling's shoulder)  I think he's
  dead, Bosco.  Probably even eaten-
Bosco:  Agh!  Carey...dead...killed by these things!  (he looks
  enraged, enough to surprise Peldor)  Grr...well, at least we
  killed the creatures responsible!
Peldor:  (kneeling in one corner of the chamber)  Maybe not.  Not
  all of them...

  The thief was examining a hatch in the floor, and after finding
no traps, he opened it, revealing a square tunnel descending into
darkness.

Bosco:  Y-you think there're _more_ of these things down there?
Peldor:  I don't know.  I think this leads to the old sewers...
  the ones that aren't even on the Sewermens' Guild's maps, if
  you take my meaning.
Bosco:  Well, I don't care!  They killed my friend, and I want to
  make sure we find them all...no matter where they're hiding!  I
  don't care what it takes!
Peldor:  (regarding the dark tunnel going down)  You may...





next time :  what lurks within the deep sewers

notes     :  Halfway through the writing of this, I watched the
  Braves' season opener (some things never change for me) during
  which they crushed the Giants.  Excellent.  Then I went to a
  sneak preview of _Village of the Damned_.  Excellent.  Then I
  came home and finished this story.  Excellent.
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