Chapter #265

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                                +   +
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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.                                             +
+    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                    +
+                          +
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Mongo        17th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+     Gorin      8th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+  Bosco        10th level halfling thief                      (N)  +
+                                                                   +
+  special guest stars:                                             +
+                                                                   +
+  Yod Ironbeard, dwarven hero and king                             +
+     Spikey, halfling warrior                                      +
+     Sparkey, halfling warrior (twin brother of Spikey)            +
+  Date:        2/11/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        afternoon                                           +
+  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     +
+  Climate:     temperate, within the mountain                      +
+  "He felt that the darkness was full of unimaginable horrors -    +
+   and the problem with unimaginable horrors was that they were    +
+   only too easy to imagine."                                      +
+                - from _The Light Fantastic_, by Terry Pratchett   +

                CCLXV.  Terrors of the Ninth Deep

  After exploring the Eighth Deep of Thunderdelve Mountain, Mongo
and the others have descended to the unknown reaches of the Ninth
Deep.  Here, thousands of feet beneath the surface world, they run
the risk of facing terrible, dark things from the underworld, but
also stand to gain great, lost treasures - if they survive.

Bosco:  (ten feet out in front of the party)  Say, this place is
  kinda creepy.
Yod:  Worse than that, kid - it's downright dangerous.
Mongo:  (eyeing the walls, which are laced with veins of iron ore)
Spikey:  (in the middle rank, behind Yod and Mongo)  Raw iron.
Sparkey:  Good for weapons, name it.
Gorin:  How can you prattle on about that stuff?  We've been in
  these mines for hours!  When're we gonna find something?

  In the shaft were scattered various tools and mining implements,
some of which the uninitiated (such as Bosco) had never seen before.

Bosco:  (pointing at a dilapidated cart, into which is built some
  kind of rotted bellows and a rusty stove)  What the heck is _that_
Yod:  Fire-wagon.
Bosco:  Oh.  Of course.
Mongo:  It's a mining tool, of sorts.
Yod:  Aye.  The way it works is simple:  you use the bellows to pump
  fire from the stove to your target rock.  Then, the hot rock is
  doused with cold water, and the sudden change in temperature makes
  the rock weaken and crack.
Mongo:  It's the dwarves' favorite tool, besides the ore-drills.
Spikey:  I know what those are.
Sparkey:  Me too.
Bosco:  Sounds like something I could ride into battle.
Yod:  I wouldn't advise it.  (he picks up an oddly-shaped chunk of
  rusty metal)  This looks like a piece of a drill bit from such a
Mongo:  See, an ore-drill, or ore-borer, is a wagon outfitted with
  a big, sharp drill bit of hardened steel alloy.  Attached to it
  are several cranks.
Yod:  Strong dwarves man the cranks, while others steer and push the
  drill along.  It's much more effective for boring holes than raw
Bosco:  Cool.  I think I saw some of this stuff on the levels above.
Yod:  Damned orcs're too stupid to use these things effectively, so
  of course they destroy them, or let them fall apart.
Gorin:  I don't think that drill bit was smashed apart by any orc.
  Besides, the orcs didn't make it down to this floor, right?
Yod:  Good point.
Mongo:  I don't see any remnants of pulley-carts around, so they
  must have been taken apart too.
Yod:  Even the rail-system is gone.  Damn.
Gorin:  (pointing to a small, glowing rock embedded in the shaft's
  wall)  Look there!  Isn't that a light-stone?
Yod:  Yeah, it is.  Genuine, too.  (he forcibly pulls the thing out
  of the wall)
Mongo:  Light-stone?
Bosco:  Huh?
Yod:  These are found only in Thunderdelve, as far as we know.
  They're some rare kind of mineral that glows in the dark; they
  sure come in handy.
Gorin:  Let me see.  (he examines the stone)  Hmm, it kinda looks
  like phostwood.
Spikey:  Yeah.
Sparkey:  And it works like it, too.
Bosco:  Hmm, that sure is neat.  (thinking about writing a book to
  contain all this dwarven lore he's learning)

  They continued along, noting the myriad wonders of the dwarven
mines.  At one point, they passed a dried-up riverbed, across which
was strewn some weird mechanical wreckage.

Yod:  Damn, looks like a water-wheel.
Bosco:  Is that some kind of boat?
Mongo:  No, Bosco, it's a device to tap the natural power of flowing
Yod:  We can then divert that power to pulleys, for the purpose of
  hauling mine-carts, or even running drills.
Gorin:  Wow.
Yod:  (proudly)  Another Thunderdelve innovation.
Mongo:  And a rarity.
Spikey:  Not here.
Sparkey:  We've got one running upstairs.
Bosco:  (suddenly holds up a tiny hand, signalling the others to
Yod:  What?
Bosco:  Shh!  (he cocks an ear toward the dark passage ahead)
Mongo:  What do you hear?
Bosco:  I don't know.  Sounds like...something wet, sliding along
  the floor...
Yod:  Wet?
Bosco:  Squishy.  (he produces a green-glowing torch)
Mongo:  Hey, isn't that Pel-
Bosco:  (gaping as he stares ahead)  Holy smokes!
Gorin:  Damn...

  Illuminated by the green light of the magical torch, a massive
form was oozing their way!  At least fifteen feet in diameter, the
opaque jelly filled most of the mineshaft.  At almost four feet in
thickness, it was at eye level with the dwarves, and thus seemed
even bigger than it really was.

Mongo:  Now what the hell is _that_?!?
Yod:  Some kind of ooze or jelly.  They're fairly rare down here.
Bosco:  It's not rare right now!  (he backs up)
Gorin:  (hears something, and whirls around)  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  What?
Gorin:  We're in big fuckin' trouble!  (he points with his axe)

  Behind the party was another of the huge oozes; this one was even
bigger than the first!

Spikey:  Trapped.
Sparkey:  Like fish in a net.
Bosco:  I'm no fish!  (he flies into the air)

  The adventurers had one thing on their side:  the monsters, what-
ever they might be, moved very, very slowly.

Mongo:  Even I could outrun them!
Gorin:  Yeah, but you can't run through them...
Yod:  Shit!  For all we know, they can dissolve the metal of our
Mongo:  Or our armor...
Bosco:  (realizes that if the creatures will dissolve their weapons,
  they can't fight them)  Hey, we need a field test here.  (he drops
  a dagger onto one of the oozes)
Spikey:  What are you doing?  Hit it with fire or something!
Sparkey:  No, hit this one!
Bosco:  (promptly drops a flaming flask of oil in front of the first
  ooze-thing, blocking it from the party)  Hi-ya!
Mongo:  Good move, Bosco!  Looks like it's recoiling from the fire!
Bosco:  (drops a second flask of oil between the party and the rear-
  most ooze)  Yep...that's me, Bosco.  Born to bomb.
Gorin:  Bombadier Bosco.
Spikey:  The flames are dying out!
Sparkey:  The monsters are moving toward us again!
Yod:  (swinging his axe before him)  Okay, dammit.  If they get any
  closer, I'm attacking, I don't care if it can eat the axe or not!
Mongo:  Our weapons are the only ones of their kind - mighty magical
  creations.  I don't think some slime from beneath the earth would
  be able to eat 'em!
Gorin:  Doesn't matter - look!

  The young dwarf was pointing at the knife that Bosco had dropped
into the first creature; the weapon seemed undamaged!

Bosco:  Hey, hey, hey!
Yod:  To hell and be damned with it!  I'm fighting!  (he charges the
  foe in front of the party)  Yaaaah!  (his axe bites deep, slinging
  slime against the wall with a splatter)
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at the rearward foe, spraying jelly into
  the mine-shaft behind it)  Kill the slimy motherfuckers!
Gorin:  Yeah!  (joins the fray, chopping at the slime behind him)
Spikey:  Come, Sparkey!  To battle!  (he dashes forth to support
Sparkey:  Yeah!  (he runs forth, hacking at the first slime)
Bosco:  (uncorks a vial, and drops acid upon the second slime)

  The creatures looked ominous, but they readily fell prey to the
weapon attacks.  Axe, sword, and hammer alike tore into slimy ooze,
tearing great chunks of ichor from the foes' bodies.  The monsters
tried to retaliate, attempting to engulf the dwarves and halflings,
but the oozes were just too slow, and the adventurers dodged their
flowing goo with ease.

Yod:  Argh!  (ignoring the caustic slime that is now splattered on
  his body, he hacks his way toward the creature's center)  Die,
Mongo:  (avoiding this direct approach, he instead bombards the foe
  from afar, smashing it repeatedly with hurled hammer-blows)  This
  one's going down, too!
Gorin:  (dodges as a chunk of goo sails by his head)  Whoa...
Bosco:  (sails down, slashing at one of the slime-things)  Forget
  not the fury of Bosco, blob bomber!
Spikey:  (stabs at the other creature)  Geez, does he think of these
  nicknames himself?
Sparkey:  Would anyone do it for him?

  Amazingly enough, the foes' rubbery flesh soon ceased to quiver,
and the things seemed dead.  Everybody but Bosco had minor burns
from the creatures' secretions, and Spikey quickly produced a jar
of salve.

Spikey:  Put a little of this on those burns.
Sparkey:  Thanks, bro'...
Yod:  Killed them...(he seems to be unaware of his own wounds)
Mongo:  (likewise)  Yeah.  They were big, but too slow.
Gorin:  (examining his weapon carefully)  If they had been the kind
  of slime-things that eat metal, we'd be singing a different tune.
Yod:  We wouldn't be singing at all.
Mongo:  Well, Bosco might.  He likes to sing.

  Shortly, they walked around the remnants of the slime-things, and
continued westward, heading for the small side passage that connected
this mine-shaft with the next one over.  On the way, they found the
scattered remains of some small, rat-like creatures.  Naught was left
of the things but skeletons; the small skulls were pointed toward the
noses, with a tiny lower jaw underneath.

Yod:  Death shrews!
Gorin:  Those are only legends!
Yod:  Not here...
Mongo:  How do you know that for sure?
Yod:  See the pointed snout-skulls?  There can be no mistaking them.
Bosco:  (looks confused)
Yod:  The death shrew uses a stinger, above its mouth, to stab its
  victim, injecting a deadly poison.  Even a stout dwarf can fall
  prey to the venom.  Of course, the shrew usually hunts small prey,
  more its own size, but occasionally...
Gorin:  I hope there aren't any more of 'em down here, then.
Bosco:  (flies about a foot off the ground)

  After a ten-minute march (or flight, for Bosco) they reached the
side passage, and went through it.

Yod:  (points eastward)  Okay, we go that way now.  There should be
  another cut-over a little ways down.
Bosco:  And then what?
Yod:  Then we find the stairway downward.
Gorin:  Down?
Yod:  Down.  I've never known that there was anything below these
  mines, until I saw Grimthaard's map.
Mongo:  What could be beneath the Ninth Deep?
Bosco:  Why, the Tenth Deep, of course!
Yod:  That would be one way to put it.
Spikey:  Another would be "a deep, dark place filled with unknown
Sparkey:  Brr.
Yod:  You guys aren't chickening out, are you?
Spikey:  No way.
Sparkey:  We're just apprehensive, that's all.
Mongo:  Hmph.

  Meanwhile, Bosco had ranged a bit ahead, exploring at his own pace
as he tuned out the conversations behind him.  His beady little eyes
darted to and fro, scanning the mine-shaft for any signs of danger.
Thus, he was surprised when a piece of the wall beside him detached
itself and spoke to him.

thing:  Mrrkrlnn.
Bosco:  Yie!  (leaps into the air)
thing:  Kkrrrrgn, mmmmrk klrnk.
Bosco:  Huh?

  The creature he was staring at was weird indeed.  It stood about
five feet tall, and looked like a big, grey egg with three legs and
three eyes.  Both of these features were spaced equidistantly around
the thing's body, and at the top of the large ovoid torso was a big,
three-jawed mouth, filled with rough teeth.  The creature shuffled
in place, its eyes focused on the halfling, but it moved no closer
to him.

thing:  Kkkkrnn glrng?
Bosco:  Hey, look pal, I'd love to help you, but no, I _don't_ know
  where your mommy is.
Yod:  (approaches)  Bosco, who are you t-  Huh?
Bosco:  Meet my new friend.
thing:  (rotates in place, slightly)  Rrknnng...
Yod:  (grips the handle of his axe)
Bosco:  No, don't attack it!
Yod:  (to the thing)  Rnnnnnlk, gnlrrr mrmm.
thing:  Krnn gnkkkmrk nrrrrrl.
Gorin:  What the hell?
Mongo:  I think his axe lets him talk to things.  Things of the rock
  and earth, that is.
Spikey:  Yup.
Sparkey:  He does this all the time.
Yod:  (to Mongo)  This is a xorn.  It's kinda hungry.
Mongo:  Well, it can have some of my rations.
Yod:  No, no.  It eats precious metals - gold, silver, and the like.
Mongo:  Oh.
Yod:  We should feed it something, to avoid any trouble.
Mongo:  How does it know that we have anything at all?
Yod:  It can smell the stuff.
Mongo:  Not inside my portable hole...?
Gorin:  Maybe it smells that silver that Bosco's carrying.
Bosco:  (still airborne)  Silver?  What silver?
Mongo:  Fork it over, Bosco.
Bosco:  But-
Mongo:  No buts, or the thing may eat _you_.
Bosco:  Oh, this silver.  (he produces a large hunk of raw silver
xorn:  (waits below, its jaws grinding hungrily)  Mmmmmrkkk.
Bosco:  This sure is a different kind of bombing...(drops the silver
  into the creature's snapping maw)  Chow time!
xorn:  (begins chewing the ore into small bits)  Grnk rkkk nrrrm!
Mongo:  Man, that thing's got some powerful jaws!
Yod:  Yeah, they burrow through the rock all the time.  (he eyes the
  xorn)  Better give up some more silver, Bosco.  It's still hungry.
Bosco:  (sighs)  How can a big eater be hungry in the middle of a

  A few moments later, the creature was satiated, and after some
choice words for Yod, it turned, and burrowed into the side of the
mine-shaft, quickly vanishing.

Mongo:  Hmph.  That was strange.
Yod:  Good thing it didn't get hostile with us.  Its hide's as tough
  as the hardest stone, and its jaws can bite through magical steel.
Bosco:  Hey, my magical stone-knife could have hurt it.
Yod:  Possibly.  But you're better off not knowing.  Xorns are some
  rugged beasties.
Gorin:  Not to mention weird-looking.
Spikey:  With big mouths.
Sparkey:  Why, it could have eaten a halfling in one bite.
Bosco:  Yeah, yeah.  Let's not dwell on that.

  They resumed their journey, moving eastward, and soon found the
smaller side passage that connected this shaft with the next.  Bosco
led the party through this connector...

Yod:  Okay, guys.  This is the northern mine.  (points to the left)
  Westward, about a quarter-hour's march, is the stairway to the
  unknown depths.
Bosco:  I thought the unknown depths were found in the Bottomless
Yod:  Quiet, you.

  Heading off in this new direction, they almost immediately found
the shaft filled, from floor to ceiling, with thick strands of silky

Bosco:  Oh, here there be spiders.  (he sticks the green torch into
  the top of his pack, limning his head in a green nimbus for any
  who spot him from the front side)  Torches...gotta have torches.

  The halfling produces a long strand of tied straw, with a wooden
core; next to this he laid a sealed black jar.

Bosco:  Don't try this at home; I'm a professional.

  He held the torch vertically, and opened the jar, pouring an ebon
goo onto (into?) the torch, from above.  Re-sealing the jar, he
stashed it safely away, then used a tinderbox to light the brand.
It blazed to life with a powerful flame, sending shadows dancing
away and causing the webs here to shine with reflected light.

Yod:  What's so special about that torch?
Bosco:  A rare, perhaps magical form of pitch, that's what.  It
  soaks into the torch, which then burns for many hours with hot,
  strong fire.  Even a strong wind won't put it out.
Gorin:  Hmm.
Mongo:  Wherever do you get these things, Bosco?
Bosco:  I could tell you, but then-

  The conversation was interrupted as strands of white silk began
to fall from above, landing atop their heads and bodies.

Yod:  Spiders above!  (he rips away a string of webbing as he hurls
  his axe upward)
giant spider:  (sliced open, it showers those below with green goo)
Bosco:  Eccch!  (he flies up and back, burning numerous bits of
  webbing in the process)
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at another spider, smashing it to the
  ceiling, where it sticks, dying)  Watch that burning web, guys!
Gorin:  (swatting aside blazing strands of web)  No kidding!
Spikey:  (not as strong as the others, he simply tries to avoid
  getting pinned by the webbing)  Ack.
Sparkey:  (moves to help his brother, but finds himself trapped
  where he stands)
giant spider:  (the one Yod hit, it falls to the mine's floor)
Yod:  Away!  (chops at the spider, slaying it)
Mongo:  (scanning the ceiling)  Holy shit!  There's armies of
  'em up there!  No more big ones like those, but lots of small
  ones, scurrying around...(several smaller spiders fall on him)
  Eyagh!  (he splatters these with a fist)
Bosco:  (flies up to have a look)  Wow!  You weren't joking -
  there must be thousands of spiders up here!  Thousands of
Mongo:  They call 'em millions.
Yod:  (watching as dozens of smaller spiders fall everywhere)
  By Clangeddin's twin axes!  It can't get much worse then this!
Gorin:  (half-immobilized by webs now, he points)  Look!

  From the shadows of the web-filled mineshaft ahead, a massive
eight-legged form moved deliberately toward the party.  More than
thirty feet wide, it filled the passageway with its tremendous,
hairy bulk.

Bosco:  Whoa!  Cripes!  It's the granddaddy of all spiders!  Where's
  Peldor when we need him?
Mongo:  (looks confused)  What?!?
Bosco:  You know, Peldor!  He of the insect-warding ring...
Mongo:  Oh, for crying out-  Bosco!  Attack!  (he hurls his hammer
  at the huge, oncoming arachnid)  Kill the blasted thing!
titanic spider:  (hit in one leg by the weapon, it recoils, then
  fires a jet of silky webbing right at Mongo)
Mongo:  Ptui!  (he rips at the growing pile of webbing covering his
Yod:  YAAAARGH!  (charges forth, hacking madly)

  The dwarven king's bravery and might were not just mere legends
told to dwarven imps; his enchanted axe-head tore into the spider's
hairy hide, spraying gore everywhere.  The spider actually trembled,
but then lunged forward, venomous fangs gnashing at the dwarf.

Yod:  (rolls aside, just in time, as the thing's deadly green saliva
  spatters on the floor)  Shit!  It's drooling!  (he backs up, then
  hurls his axe)
titanic spider:  (the weapon sinks into its thorax, biting deep
  before returning to Yod's hand)
Mongo:  (trying to tear his way free of webs)  Hang on, I'm coming!

  Meanwhile, Bosco was busy setting fire to the webs on the ceiling.
He had realized that he couldn't ignite the ones holding Gorin,
Spikey, and Sparkey in place, for fear of burning them, so he had
gone to town on the spiders and webs above.  The volatile webs were
of course highly flammable, and baby spiders died by the dozens.

Bosco:  It's me, Bosco the Spider-Slayer!  (he eyes the trapped
  trio below)  Uh-oh.  (soaring down, he whips out his enchanted
  sword, and slices at the webbing pinning his friends)  Hang on,
  guys!  I'll get you out!
Gorin:  (ripping at the weakened webs around him)  Don't...need any
  help...anymore!  (he tears free, just in time to hack at a foot-
  wide spider that was scurrying toward him)  Shit, they're coming
  out of the woodwork!
Spikey:  (trying to free himself before his webs ignite)  Damn!
Sparkey:  (likewise)  We'd better hurry!

  Further down the mine-shaft, Yod was fending off the spider's
attacks, his axe flashing in the dim light.  Twice more the thing
had tried to bite him, and twice he had dodged or parried the lethal
fangs.  Throwing his axe again, he buried the weapon in one of the
spider's eight eyes, the wound drawing watery black ichor.

Yod:  Hah!  (he catches the axe)
titanic spider:  (rushes forward, legs waving and teeth gnashing)
Yod:  Whoa!  (he backs up...and trips over a giant spider, crushing
  it into black and yellow paste as he falls)  Shit!

  The dwarf-king fell on his back, and the spider scurried forth
with a speed belying its vast bulk.  The deadly fangs descended...
but Yod shoved his axe up into them!  One fang broke with a loud
snapping sound, and the razor-keen edges of the axe-head sliced
great gashes in the spider's mouth.  Still, it continued to bite
relentlessly, and venom dripped everywhere...

Yod:  (pierced in the shoulder-joint of his armor by the remaining
  fang, he yells in pain as venom burns its way through his veins)
Spikey:  Yod!
Sparkey:  Our liege!  (both of them furiously tear their way free
  of the webs)
Bosco:  (spots Yod's fall)  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  (freshly free from his own pile of webbing, he gets the
  spider's attention by hurling his hammer at its back)  Hey!  Hey
titanic spider:  (whirls, leaving the writhing Yod alone for now)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  He'd better not die...but you will!
  (he hits the monster again, directly in the head)  I'll kill you!
Gorin:  (about twenty feet behind Mongo, right at the edge of the
  web-filled area, he kills numerous smaller spiders as he moves
  to help his liege)  I'm on the way!
Mongo:  (doesn't even look back)  Attend to Yod!  I'll handle this
  fucking beast!

  Just then, twin thunderbolts hurled themselves forth, leaping onto
the monstrous spider's back.  Shortsword, hand axe, and dagger rose
and fell with great vengeance and furious anger as Spikey and Sparkey,
enraged beyond all reckoning, tore into the thing.

Spikey:  Yaaargh!  (he stabs the spider, deeply, then saws his sword
  up and down, in the wound)
Sparkey:  (hacking away bits of gore-covered spider flesh with his
  hand axe and dagger)  Die!  Die!  Die!
Mongo:  Wow...the wrath of the mites...
titanic spider:  (hopping and cavorting about, it is unable to get
  rid of the hurtful foes on its back; and black blood soon drips
  from its many wounds)
Mongo:  Yeah!  (walks forth, raising his hammer two-handed)  For
  Yod!  (he brings the weapon down in a mighty arc, hitting the
  spider at a leg-joint and snapping the appendage off)
titanic spider:  (bites at Mongo, but his newfound armor deflects
  the attack harmlessly)
Mongo:  Hah!  (he bashes the thing in the face, causing it to let
  him go)  Hurts, eh?  (he rolls backward, then stands up)  Now
  prepare to die!  (he watches as Spikey and Sparkey continue to
  wreak their havoc on the spider; then something catches the
  corner of his eye)
Gorin:  (arrives on the scene, pulling the groaning form of Yod
  out of harm's way)  Take it easy, there...
Bosco:  (lands next to Gorin, a flask of violet liquid clutched
  in his hand)  Here, feed him this.
Yod:  Ungh...
Gorin:  What is it?
Bosco:  Poison antidote!  Now hurry!  (together, they pour the
  bottle's contents down the dwarf's throat)
Yod:  Glug...urp...
Bosco:  We might be able to save him, since he was still alive at
  the time of antidote-drinking.
Gorin:  Look, he's quit moving!
Bosco:  (listens for a heartbeat)  Damn it, this armor's too thick.
  (he feels for a neck-pulse)  No, he lives yet!
Gorin:  Asleep?
Bosco:  Asleep or dying.  (he sees the shoulder-wound)
Gorin:  We need to clean that out!  (he gets and uncorks a small
  silver flask)
Bosco:  Now what's _that_?
Gorin:  Really strong liquor.  (he pours the sparkling fluid into
  the shoulder wound, which is shallow but filled with vile black
Bosco:  (dabbing at the crap with a rag, he cleans the wound)

  Meanwhile, Mongo and the righteous twin halflings were decimating
the gigantic spider.  Mongo's blows crushed its chitinous body into
pulp, while Spikey and Sparkey's weapons turned its back into a
carved, bloody mess.

Spikey:  (buries his sword in the spider's head)  Die!
Sparkey:  (sinks his axe and dagger into the head as well)  Yeah!
titanic spider:  (slowly flattens onto the floor, unmoving)
Mongo:  I'll be damned!  It's dead!
Spikey:  Of course.
Sparkey:  There could have been no other possible outcome.

  Both halflings jumped off the spider's back and ran over to their

Gorin:  Strange as it might seem, guys, I think he'll live.
Bosco:  Though he's got the stamina of an ox.
Spikey:  (torn between joy and disbelief)  But...the poison...
Sparkey:  How?  How can it be?
Gorin:  Bosco's purple potion.
Bosco:  It's a miracle of modern which I recently stole
Mongo:  We'd rather not know who, Bosco.
Bosco:  Suit yourself.
Yod:  (snoring peacefully)
Spikey:  Okay.  (stands)  We've got to get him back up there.
Sparkey:  Pronto.
Bosco:  But we're in the middle of the Ninth Deep.
Spikey:  It can wait.
Sparkey:  It'll still be here when we come back, Bosco.
Mongo:  (claps a hand on Bosco's shoulder)  They're right, you know.
  We've got to get back, for now.  But we shall return.
Bosco:  Oh, okay.  But the spiders' evils shall not go unpunished
  by Bosco!  (he flies up into the air, his blazing torch held in
  one hand)

  As the others moved out, going back the way they came, Bosco went
about igniting every single web he could find, starting with the
ones near where the gigantic spider came from and working his way
back.  Within moments, the entire mineshaft was ablaze, white smoke
drifting along its ceiling.

Bosco:  There.  (he turns, and flies after his friends)

next:   back in action!
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  I should be wrapping this storyline up shortly, though I
  must admit that it's been more fun to write, lately.

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