Chapter #248

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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:       late evening                                       +
+    Place:      the sewers beneath Greyhawk                        +
+    Climate:    warm and humid                                     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Maybe we ought to throw it some food."                          +
+  "We _are_ the food!"                                             +
+                                          - from _Shoot To Kill_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                CCXLVIII.  Terror In the Sewers





  After exploring Greyhawk's sewers for a while, Peldor and Bosco
have defeated some ghouls and found the remains of the halfling's
missing friend, Carey.  However, in the lair of the undead, they
also found a tunnel leading down into even deeper sewers...

Peldor:  You're sure you want to go down there?
Bosco:  Those things that killed Carey...there may be more of them.
  We've got to find 'em all, and make sure they don't kill anyone
  else.
voice from behind:  That's awful noble of you.
Peldor:  Huh?  (both he and the halfling whirl around)
Bosco:  Hey!  That's-
Belphanior:  (leaning against a wall, hand on his sword hilt)  Yup,
  it's me.  In the flesh.
Bosco:  You're dead!  (scratches his head)  Or was it missing?
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  Who ever knows?  Any and all reports about
  me were exaggerated, anyway.
Peldor:  What the hell are _you_ doing down here?
Bosco:  Yeah, are you after the ghouls too?
Belphanior:  Hardly.  (he cracks his knuckles)  To tell the truth,
  I came here to find my iron golem, Angus.  You remember Angus,
  don't you?
Peldor:  Yeah...
Belphanior:  Of course, without a map, it's kind of difficult...
  despite my magical compass.  But I _was_ making progress, until
  I ran across some ghouls.
Bosco:  More ghouls?!?
Belphanior:  Too bad for them that their vaunted paralysis touch
  didn't work on me.  (he eyes his bloody sword-blade thoughtfully)
Peldor:  Hmm.  Well, we were searching for Bosco's missing friend.
Belphanior:  (regarding the bloody remains of Carey's cloak)  Looks
  like you found him.
Bosco:  How'd you know that was Carey?  Magic?
Belphanior:  No, actually, I've been here for a few minutes.  I
  heard you two talking.  Boy, they'll let anyone down here, won't
  they?
Peldor:  Speaking of "them" - you're wanted in Greyhawk!  They'll
  arrest you on sight!
Bosco:  (nodding vigorously)
Belphanior:  That's why I'm using the sewers.
Peldor:  I see.
Belphanior:  Hey, I'll make you a deal.  I'll help you with whatever
  it is you intend to do next...and afterwards, you help me find and
  recover Angus, and get him out of the city, and maybe get me some
  food and equipment from the city above.
Peldor:  Deal.  (they clasp hands)  Good to see you again, man.
Belphanior:  Ditto.
Bosco:  (regarding the hatch and the narrow tunnel going down)  Hey,
  are we going or what?
Peldor:  Sure.  (he gets his green torch out)  Ready?
Belphanior:  (draws his sword)  Let me go first.
Bosco:  Well, if you insist...

  They descended, the tall elf leading the way, followed by Peldor
with the torch, and then Bosco, bringing up the rear.  The ladder
led down into a ten-foot square passage, just as wet and smelly as
the pipes above.  Fungi and algae coated the walls, ceiling, and
floor here, though, and thick cobwebs clung to parts of the stone
ceiling.

Belphanior:  (swiping the webs away with his razor-sharp sword)
  Can't have any spiders - small or otherwise - dropping onto us.
  Which way do you want to go, left or right?
Peldor:  How about left?
Bosco:  Sounds good.

  They began moving through the silent, moldy tunnel, their way
lit by the green glow of Peldor's magical torch.  Its dim light
glistened eerily on the passage's walls, reminding them of the
interior of a tomb.  Within five minutes, they found a sign of
recent traffic here:  a smear of dark red blood, on a wall.

Belphanior:  (examining the bloodstain)  Looks recent...I'd say
  about two or three days.
Bosco:  Oh.
Peldor:  More ghouls, perhaps?
Belphanior:  There's only one way to find out.

  They continued, and shortly, came upon a side chamber adjoining
the main passage.  Within this larger area, lying on the floor,
were several large cocoon-like objects.  They appeared to be made
from some sort of fibrous substance, which had the look of spider-
webbing, but not the color.  Instead, it was a dull greenish-brown
color, somewhat similar to a dead plant.

Belphanior:  Ho, what's this?
Peldor:  Cocoons...spiders?
Bosco:  Don't think so.  They're too big, and shaped funny.
Belphanior:  He's right - spiders don't make cocoons shaped like
  big eggs.
Peldor:  They're almost...man-sized.

  They entered the side chamber, looking around.  The place was
not too expansive, perhaps thirty feet by twenty; it had no other
exits besides the one they had come in through.  There were seven
of the cocoon-like things, and they were laid out in a rough line,
as if someone had intended to line them up neatly, but hadn't had
time, or the inclination.

Bosco:  (uneasily eyeing the cocoon nearest to him)  These things
  give me the creeps.  (he notes with some concern that his ring of
  x-ray vision isn't allowing him to see far into the cocoon)
Peldor:  Yeah, well, it was y-

  Suddenly, the nearest of the strange cocoons quivered, and opened
with a muffled ripping sound.  The thing that had been within tore
free, standing up slowly.  It was humanoid in shape and size, but
its head was bulbous, oversized, with large black eyes and a thin
mouth.

thing:  (opens its mouth in a weird, silent scream, revealing rows
  of tiny fangs, and then shuffles awkwardly toward the trio of
  intruders, waving its arms)
Belphanior:  Fuuuuuck!  (he steps forward, and slashes with his
  sword, splitting the thing's head all the way down to its chest)
thing:  (falls, quivering and scrabbling at the floor)
Peldor:  What the hell...

  Now, the other cocoons were also opening, revealing more of the
strange creatures.  There were six of them, not counting the one
that Belphanior had just downed.

Bosco:  Uh-oh.  (he backs up, and draws his sword)
Peldor:  (stands in place, but also draws his sword)  Outnumbered.
Belphanior:  No souls...these things don't have souls!  That's why
  my sword didn't detect them...cover me while I prepare magic!
Peldor:  Right.  Come on, Bosco.
Bosco:  (steps forth)  Err...

  The things came forward, slowly, shakily, but come they did.
By backing up to the chamber's entrance, much as they had in the
ghoul's lair, Peldor and Bosco were able to ensure that only one
or two of the things could stand abreast and fight them.

thing:  (swipes at Peldor, hitting him in one shoulder)
Peldor:  (knocked back with surprising force)  Argh!
Bosco:  (finding himself alone in the front rank now)  Eep!  (he
  slashes at the creature, opening a gash in its belly)
thing:  (pauses, staring silently at its own wound, as something
  that resembles dried grass leaks from the cut)
other thing:  (pushes its way toward Bosco)
wounded thing:  (resumes its march)
third thing:  (the one that Belphanior sliced nearly in half, it
  gets to its feet, weaving somewhat as its unbalanced, split body
  teeters from side to side)

Bosco:  Ack!  It's alive again!
Peldor:  (on his feet again, beside Bosco, gritting his teeth in
  pain)  Ugh...watch it, those things hit hard.
Belphanior:  So do I.  (he tosses a small fiery ball over their
  heads)

  The burning ball landed amidst the weird things, and immediately
blazed to life, rolling back and forth to hit various foes.

Belphanior:  (waving his hands like a maestro as he guides his
  flaming sphere about)  Burn, baby, burn!
things:  (half of them now ablaze, they make a dry, crackling sound
  as they burn)
Peldor:  Crap...(he finds a vial of strong oil and quickly tosses
  it at one of the foes that isn't on fire)
thing:  (just stands there as the oil flask shatters all over it)
Peldor:  Direct hit!
Bosco:  What did you do that for?
Peldor:  So I could do this...(he TKs the oil-covered thing into one
  of its burning companions)
thing:  (instantly ignites)
Belphanior:  Come on!  We've got to get away from here, before the
  smoke fills the passage and we can't breathe!
Peldor:  Right...but what about them?
Belphanior:  Fuck 'em.
Bosco:  (not needing to be told twice, he dashes off down the dark
  corridor)

  They backed away from the fire- and smoke-filled chamber...and
then stared in horror as first one, then another blazing shape came
from the room into the corridor.  Though the forms were engulfed in
fire, both Peldor and Belphanior could clearly see the things turn
to regard them, and then stumble in their direction.

Belphanior:  I don't believe it.
Peldor:  (both he and the elf back up, slowly)  Can they be immune
  to fire?
Belphanior:  I don't think so...look how they're staggering and
  teetering.  They're tough, I'll give them that.
Peldor:  (produces two more vials of oil)  Let's make sure they
  can't follow us, then.  (he lobs both bottles toward the blazing
  figures - of which there are now at least four - and the glass
  vials explode on the floor in front of the creatures)
Belphanior:  Nice shot.

  The passage filled with flame, obscuring their vision.  Moving
back another twenty feet, they rejoined Bosco, who had taken the
green torch and moved a bit ahead.

Peldor:  (knitting his brow in concentration)
Belphanior:  What are you doing?
Peldor:  Only...this.  (he TKs the loose stones of the ceiling,
  causing them to fall, first one at a time, then en masse as the
  whole ceiling collapses, blocking them off from the fiery area
  behind them)  Whew!  (he wipes sweat from his brow)
Belphanior:  You're getting pretty good with that ring.
Peldor:  Yeah, I practice a lot.

  Now that one direction had been blocked off, they had to proceed
in the other.  It was much the same as before, though now they were
more wary, and had their swords drawn.

Peldor:  It worries me that you can't sense them, because they could
  lie in wait and ambush us.
Belphanior:  It worries me too, but on general principle alone.  I've
  never seen something without a soul that wasn't undead.
Bosco:  No way were those things undead!
Belphanior:  Precisely.  What _were_ they?  Maybe we'll never know.
Peldor:  They were strong, that's what they were.  (he massages his
  bruised shoulder tenderly, though it is beginning to heal, thanks
  to one of his feather tattoos)  Agh.
Belphanior:  Strong...and resilient.
Bosco:  Not to mention spooky.  (he shivers)
Belphanior:  Hell, if I didn't know better, I'd say they were...only
  half-grown.  Like babies that are born early.
Peldor:  Ugh.
Bosco:  Born early?  That happens?  (he scratches his head)
Belphanior:  Maybe they were growing in those cocoons.  And we-
Peldor:  -interrupted them.
Belphanior:  Yep.
Bosco:  Well, hopefully they'll burn up and that'll be it.  (his
  little brain works to try and figure out where the ghouls fit into
  all of this)

  They moved onward, searching now (though no one came right out and
explicitly said it) for a way back up to the surface.  Instead, they
spotted another side tunnel ahead, and a growing sense of dread began
to work its way into the adventurers' minds.

Belphanior:  (uses sign language, and moves ahead by himself)
Bosco:  (puts the torch away, amazed that it gives off no heat and
  won't ignite his pack)
Peldor:  (makes a mental note to regain the item from his henchman,
  later)

  The tunnel ahead led into a room, larger than the last one.  This
chamber appeared empty, but as they moved into it, Belphanior about
twenty feet ahead of the other two, they saw that it angled around,
like the letter L...and in the other branch, there were more of the
cocoon-things!  Many more...perhaps twenty, all leaning neatly
against one wall.  Standing beside them, its back to the adventurers,
was another of the weird creatures; however, this one was bigger and
broader, maybe Rillen's size.  It appeared to be caressing one of
the cocoons.

Belphanior:  (now only ten feet from the thing, his sword raised)
thing:  (whirls around, sharply)
Belphanior:  Fuck me...

  The creature's eyes were grey and multifaceted, unlike the earlier
things, whose eyes had been solid black.  Also, the monster in front
of Belphanior had a small, triangular nose, unlike the others, and
its mouth was larger...as were its fangs.

thing:  (gapes evilly at the elf)
Belphanior:  Diiiiiie!  (he slashes his sword overhead, much like he
  did the last time he faced one of these creatures)

  The elf's sword struck the thing's head, sinking in all of two
inches, as a sharp axe might sink into a tough tree.

Belphanior:  (realizes that his sword is stuck fast)  Uh-oh.
thing:  (grabs the elf, lightning-fast, and hurls him into a wall)
Belphanior:  (smashes into the stone, luckily spread-eagle instead
  of head-first)  Argh!  (he crumples, dazed)
thing:  (regards the elf, his sword still imbedded in its head, and
  then turns back to face the others)
Peldor:  (having hasted himself and charged in, he stops short, his
  sword slashing in an attack more cautious than Belphanior's was)
thing:  (sliced shallowly in the arm, it regards the wound, from
  which a single green tendril has "leaked" out)
Bosco:  (behind the foe, he backstabs it, in the upper thigh)  Yah!
thing:  (turns, swiping at the halfling, but Bosco has already
  rolled to one side, evading the counterattack)
Bosco:  Heck, this one's a lot faster than those others were!
Peldor:  Yo.  (having backed up a bit, he hurls one of his magical
  daggers of throwing at the foe)
thing:  (stabbed in one eye, it reels, clearly hurt for the first
  time; a black, syrupy fluid drips slowly from the pierced eye)
Peldor:  At least we know it has weak points...
Bosco:  (looking at the thing, with Belphanior's sword and Peldor's
  dagger sticking in it, and fights down a giggle)
Belphanior:  (on his feet again, he completes a quick spell, and a
  stream of magical missiles issues forth from his pointed finger,
  blasting the weird foe repeatedly in the head)  Hah!
thing:  (staggers)
Peldor:  We've got it on the ropes now!  Press the attack!  (he
  tosses his other magical dagger, imbedding it in the creature's
  neck)
Bosco:  (studying the foe via his ring of x-ray vision)  Just like
  the cocoons...(he slashes at the foe, but misses)  Darn!


  By now, the strange cocoons had started opening, disgorging their
occupants into the fray.  However, unlike the previous cocoon-things,
these creatures were, startlingly enough, halfway human.  Their
facial features were constantly shifting, alternating between those
of human beings and those of creatures like the one that the three
adventurers were currently fighting.

things:  (their mouths opening and their jaws working, but producing
  no noise)
Peldor:  Oh, shit!  They're coming to life!  (he TKs the primary foe
  backwards, into a wall)
thing:  (struggles, pushing its way forward against Peldor and his
  ring)
Bosco:  We're gonna be surrounded soon!  And outnumbered too!
Belphanior:  Same thing.  (he finds a wand)  Quickly, run, get out
  of here!  I'm about to make an inferno!
Peldor:  (grabs Bosco and leaps backward an incredible distance,
  thanks to his magical boots; they land next to the opening into
  the main passage)
Bosco:  Hey!
thing:  (strides toward Belphanior now)
Belphanior:  Fire worked okay...let's see how you like lightning!
  (he speaks a command word)

  A monstrous bolt of lightning leaped forth, striking the thing
squarely in the chest and carrying it back about thirty feet.
Smaller arcs of electricity crackled into other foes, causing
them to pause in their approach.

thing:  (the big one, it stands shakily)
Belphanior:  Okay, that's it!  (he swaps wands)  I'll burn all
  of you to ashes!  (he begins waving the wand)
Peldor:  (uses his TK ring to pull Belphanior's sword and his
  two daggers from the foe's body; they land on the floor next
  to him)
Bosco:  Good save...
Belphanior:  (eyeing the chamber, and calculating its size)  Uh,
  I'd back up if I were you.
Peldor:  (doing so, along with Bosco)  What about you?
Belphanior:  I'll be okay.  (he points his wand and speaks a word
  of command)

  A huge fireball exploded within the room, igniting cocoon and
creature alike.

Belphanior:  (backing up, finally, his eyebrows singed)  Yeah!
Peldor:  Hey, watch out...remember how they kept coming last time.
Belphanior:  I remember...(he launches another fireball into the
  already-blistering conflagration)

  The second blast knocked the elf back, into the passage, where
he landed next to the other two thieves.

Belphanior:  Whoa...what a blast.
Bosco:  Hey, that was cool!  Hit 'em again!
Peldor:  (thinking what a good idea that might actually be)
Belphanior:  Hey, why not?  (shrugs, and launches a third fireball
  into the room)

  They found themselves forced to flee down the passage, such was
the heat coming from the blazing chamber.

Peldor:  (hands Belphanior his sword, and puts his own daggers back
  in their sheaths)  Did you see those other cocoon-things?
Belphanior:  Yeah, they kinda looked like they were trying to be
  people.  But we caught them too early.
Bosco:  Ugh.
Peldor:  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Belphanior:  Shapeshifters?
Peldor:  Beneath the city...a small band of shapeshifting monsters,
  raised from infancy, tended to, until they grow large enough to
  emerge...
Belphanior:  Damn, what a thing to have beneath your city.
Bosco:  Hey, Gorin and I once fought a few shapeshifters.  'Course,
  they didn't look like _those_ things at all.
Peldor:  I wonder if there are any more of them down here?
Belphanior:  We're going to find out, I'd bet.  Remember that L-
  shaped room I just torched?  It had an exit, in the far corner.
Bosco:  Are you sure?  I didn't see it.
Belphanior:  I'm sure.
Peldor:  Then...they have other passages, maybe other rooms down
  here.
Belphanior:  That seems to be the case.

  Taking pains to keep quiet and alert, the trio moved along the
dark passage...but not far from the last side room, they came upon
another.  This one was empty save for a pile of shriveled objects
in one corner.  As the adventurers entered the room, they noticed
something eerily unusual...

Peldor:  (eyeing the pile in the corner)  Those are...bodies...
Belphanior:  Yeah...(pokes at the things with his sword)  They're
  all dried-up...husks.
Bosco:  But they used to be people.

  There were five of the grisly corpses.  Each looked like all the
organs, muscles, and fluids had been sucked out of it.  The bodies
were still garbed in clothes, jewelry, and such things, and four
of them wore familiar clothes.

Peldor:  Those are sewer workers' clothes.
Bosco:  So these things are killing the city's sewerpeople?
Belphanior:  It seems like it.  Killing them and then taking their
  identities...could it be?
Bosco:  I think it could.
Peldor:  (looking at the fifth corpse)  This last one was no sewer
  worker.  He looks like he was once a noble, or city official.  I
  can't make out the facial features, though...not well.  I don't
  recognize this guy.  But, his clothes are typical of those worn
  by nobility in Greyhawk.
Bosco:  I wonder how those ghouls fit into the picture?
Belphanior:  Guards, probably, put in place to dissuade anyone who
  might come down here.  By eating them.  I bet they didn't even
  know what they were guarding.  (whirls suddenly)  Ack!

  Behind the three adventurers, four silent forms had lined up, all
dressed in the garb of city sewer workers.  However, their faces
held no expression, and they didn't speak.  They just stared at the
intruders.

Peldor:  I think we've found the four new sewer-workers...
thing:  (one of the "sewer workers", it opens its mouth and begins
  walking casually toward the thief)  You...sss!
Bosco:  Gah!  Maybe they want to take _our_ bodies now!
Belphanior:  Fuck that!  (he whips out a wand and points it at the
  approaching things)  Take this!

  Then, a gout of thick white foam jetted forth from the wand,
covering the nearest creature from head to toe.

Belphanior:  (regarding his wand with utter shock)  Oops, wrong
  wand!  (he backs up)
Peldor:  Geez...(he slashes at a second foe, nicking its shoulder,
  and then backs away from a swiping, newly-clawed hand)
thing:  You will...be absorbed.
Peldor:  Never!  (he leaps away, thanks to his magical boots, and
  begins digging in a pouch)
Bosco:  (flies a short distance upward, his boots' little wings
  flapping madly, but hits his head)  Ow!  (he sails to one side,
  evading two foes' attempts to grab him)
thing:  Aaaaaa...
other thing:  Do not flee...it will not help...
Belphanior:  I'm not fleeing, pal.  (he stares at one foe, and his
  eye glows bright red)
thing#1:  (continues to advance on the elf)
thing#2:  (held in place)  What...?
thing#3:  (stalks Bosco)  Come to us...
thing#4:  (held in place)  What...is happening?
Belphanior:  You're held, you freaks!  (he moves around, behind one
  of the magically held foes)
thing#2:  (its head rotates around, slowly, impossibly, to follow
  the elf's movements)  Sss...
Belphanior:  Gah!  (he recoils from this alarming neck movement)
  You're not supposed to be able to move...!
thing#2:  (trying to move its body, but failing, its head continues
  to track Belphanior)
Belphanior:  Hell...you're not human!  (he thinks for a second)
  What am I saying, of _course_ you're not human!  (he sidesteps
  one foe, and stabs one of the immobile ones in its eye)
thing#2:  (bleeds from the deep wound, a black, thick ichor)  Uuuur.
thing#1:  (grabs at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (leaps away just as the creature's claws close on his
  cloak)  Yaaaah!
thing#1:  (mumbling to itself in some forgotten tongue)
Peldor:  (in a corner, reading from a scroll)  Let's hope the drow
  made this one right...(he reads some command words)

  Suddenly, one of the held foes, and one of the mobile ones, slowed
their pace considerably, now moving sluggishly.

Peldor:  Yeah!  (he ponders the success of scroll spells, and makes
  it a point to soon possess a lot more)
Bosco:  Huh?  (he stabs at thing#3 as it attempts to attack him, a
  move made difficult by its current slowed rate of movement)
Peldor:  Scroll spells, Bosco!
Belphanior:  I'm impressed.  (he slashes at thing#1, but misses)
thing#1:  (claws the elf, digging bloody furrows in his upper arm)
Belphanior:  Argh!  (he backs up)
Peldor:  (still hasted, he moves around behind thing#2)
Bosco:  (backing away from his slowed opponent)
thing#3:  (trying to follow the halfling)  Come...back...
Bosco:  No way!  (he jumps around thing#4, putting it between him
  and the mobile one stalking him)
thing#3:  (now effectively unable to get to Bosco)
thing#4:  (held _and_ slowed, it attempts to talk, but only succeeds
  in babbling incoherently)
Peldor:  (stabs thing#2 from behind, despite the fact that it is
  looking right at him, and slices its back open)
thing#2:  (its head turned halfway around, it looks down as brown,
  grassy material begins to leak from its back)  What?
Peldor:  (moves on, to help Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (slashes at thing#1, twice, nicking its head once but
  slashing its belly deeply on the other stroke)  Hah!
thing#1:  You cannot kill us...we are-
Belphanior:  Bullshit!  (he slashes out, parrying the thing's claw
  attacks)
thing#1:  Why-
Peldor:  (stabs the foe in the head, from behind)  Die, damn you!
thing#1:  (looking crosseyed at the blade now protruding from its
  nose)  Blerp.  (it falls)
Peldor:  (with difficulty, he pulls his sword-blade from the body)
thing#1:  (still twitching)
Belphanior:  Look, Bosco's taking on two of them.
Peldor:  One, and it's slowed down.  But still, he deserves our
  timely help.  (they rush over)
thing#3:  (still chasing Bosco around the immobile thing#4, it gets
  slashed repeatedly as Belphanior and Peldor attack ferociously,
  from opposite sides)  You...cannot.  Stop...<ghak>  Us.  (it falls
  to the floor, twitching)
thing#4:  (held in place, it watches)
Belphanior:  I don't like the way these things are still quivering.
  It reminds me of troll bodies.
Peldor:  Let's give them the troll body treatment, then.
Bosco:  You mean burning?  (he holds up a flask of oil)
Belphanior:  Right on, Bosco.

  They quickly dragged the bodies, all three of which were moving
slightly, over to the fourth, immobile creature, and doused the lot
with oil.

Peldor:  (gets out a second flask of oil)  You can't be too careful.
  (douses all four creatures some more)
Belphanior:  (quickly lights a torch)  Any last words, scumbags?
thing#4:  You...weak...mortals...
Belphanior:  Never mind.  (he tosses the torch at the pile, where
  it explodes into straw and embers, igniting the weird creatures)

  They burned, and burned, and began making a shrill screeching
sound, unlike the earlier ones.  It was Bosco who noticed that the
four shriveled sewer-workers' bodies were crumbling into dust as
the creatures who had assumed their identities burned.

Bosco:  Wow, lookit that...
Peldor:  Cripes!  You kill 'em, and the evidence of who they
  really are disappears!
Belphanior:  What the hell are we dealing with here?

  Stuffing the fifth shriveled corpse into a sack, they took
their leave of the chamber, and proceeded along the passage.
For the better part of an hour, they saw nothing - no creatures,
no cocoons, no husks of bodies, no side tunnels - nothing.  The
corridor paused at a vertical shaft, atop which rested a plate
of some kind.  Rungs of iron led up the shaft, ending at the
plate.

Peldor:  (looking up)  Maybe we should get out of the sewers now,
  maybe come back with reinforcements.
Bosco:  Like a squad of city guards.
Peldor:  Yeah, something like that.
Belphanior:  I'll check it out.  (sheathes his sword and climbs up
  the ladder, checking carefully for traps all the while)
Bosco:  (almost trips in some kind of hole)  What?!?
Peldor:  (shines the green torch near the sewer floor)

  They were looking at a huge, reptilian footprint, three-toed,
a good four inches deep, and better than a foot in length.

Peldor:  (looks at Bosco)
Bosco:  (looks at Peldor)
both:  (look up at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (from above)  Escape route...we can get out this
  way, if you want.
Peldor:  (having climbed up behind the elf, Bosco on his heels)
  Good.  Can you get it open?
Belphanior:  (pushes mightily)  Yeah, I think so.  (he lifts the
  hatch about half a foot - not an easy task at this angle, for
  the thing is thick and heavy)  Sewers...
Bosco:  (far below)  What's that?
Belphanior:  (sets the hatch aside, and climbs up into a round
  sewer pipe)  We're back at the level above.  Come on, get up
  here.
Peldor:  (he and Bosco do, and Belphanior produces a wand)
Bosco:  How do you keep track of all those wands?
Belphanior:  (points to a strip of yellow paint at the wand's
  base)  Paint, see?  Red is for fireballs...white for foam...
  blue for lightning...purple for the wand of wonder.
Peldor:  What's yellow?
Belphanior:  Acid.  (he speaks a command word, and a huge glob of
  gooey acid drops onto the hatch, bringing curls of wispy smoke
  into the air)
Bosco:  Hey, where's the wi-
Peldor:  (to Belphanior)  Sealing the hatch?
Belphanior:  Precisely.  Whatever is down there can stay there.
Bosco:  Yeah...no kidding...

  Shortly, the hatch was well-fused to the surrounding stone, and
Belphanior smeared some slime over the area, concealing it.  The
pipe they were now in seemed much brighter than the one they had
left, somehow.  They had the choice of either going right or left,
and chose right (Belphanior seemed to have a hunch about this.)
After about ten minutes of walking, they came upon a sewer lid,
above.  Through its grating, they could see the stars in the sky.

Bosco:  Hey, it's night up there!  Let's get out of the sewers and
  go home!
Peldor:  (yawns)  Sounds good to me.
Belphanior:  You're forgetting something.
Bosco:  What?
Belphanior:  Still missing:  one iron golem.
Peldor:  (groans)





next time :  the fate of Angus

notes     :  This past weekend, we had our annual softball game.
  I got to see a lot of old friends, including most of the players;
  the game was a good one for everybody.  Those who don't usually
  field the ball well did, and those who don't usually hit it did
  too.  I, myself, was 3-for-4 in the second game (single, triple,
  home run, 3 rbi, 3 runs) and played pretty decent first base.
  Sorry, my own stats are the only ones I can remember for sure :)
  Peldor was something like 7-for-8 over the two games, though,
  which is unusual for him.  Saturday night, we all went on a
  drinking spree in Buckhead and had a great time.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



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