Chapter #266

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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:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     +
+  Climate:     temperate, within the mountain                      +
+  "It's only when we really begin to fear death that we learn      +
+   to value life."                                                 +
+                                        - from _The Professional_  +

                      CCLXVI.  Recovery

  The exploration of Thunderdelve Mountain's lower Deeps has been
largely successful, but the adventurers have returned to the secure
areas above.  The reason is simple:  Yod Ironbeard, king of dwarves
and ruler of Thunderdelve, has been poisoned by the venom of a huge
spider.  Even now, the others wait outside Yod's bedchambers as the
priests, seeking to save their king, work their magic...

Spikey:  He's being attended to by his physicians.
Sparkey:  Leeches.
Bosco:  Leeches?  Aren't those found in sw-
Gorin:  (scratching his head)  Will Yod be okay?
Spikey:  Should be.  I've seen him shrug off some pretty bad wounds.
Sparkey:  It seems that Bosco's quick action saved the day, at least
  until the dwarven priests could put their spells to work.
Bosco:  Aw, it was nothin'.
dwarven priest:  (approaches)  Saving the life of our greatest king
  is far from "nothing", small one.
Mongo:  Who are you?
priest:  I am Orthon, the king's head priest.  I've come to inform
  you that he will indeed live, and recover.
Bosco:  Yay!
Gorin:  Glad to hear it.
Orthon:  The potion Bosco fed him saved his life, you know.
Mongo:  Good for Bosco!  (to Orthon)  Can we see the king?
Orthon:  No, not right now.  He's asleep, and needs to rest for a
  while.  Maybe tomorrow.
Mongo:  Hmph.
Bosco:  What now?
Spikey:  What now?  I'll tell you what now-
Sparkey:  Now, we all return to our quarters and get some rest.
  It's been a hell of a day.
Gorin:  Sounds good to me.
Orthon:  Have no fear, we shall tend to the king.  (he ushers them
  out)  Come back tomorrow.  (he shuts the door)
Bosco:  Well, how d'ya like that?!?
Spikey:  We'll stand guard here, at the bedchambers.
Sparkey:  Yeah.  Until Yod awakens.
Bosco:  Come on, guys!  You've gotta eat, and rest.
Spikey:  There won't be any rest for us, not while Yod is healing
  and bedridden.
Sparkey:  We might eat some rations, though.  But we'll eat them
  here, at our post.
Gorin:  (impressed at this show of loyalty)  Hmm.
Bosco:  Well, if you want, I'll bring you some hot dinner-
Mongo:  Come on, Bosco.  Let's leave them alone.  (he grabs Bosco by
  the collar and gently prods him in the other direction)
Bosco:  Aw, man!

  They returned to their quarters, to get some rest.  Mongo used his
magical horn to produce dinner, for he knew that the dwarves would
have more important things to worry about besides cooking dinner for
their guests.

Mongo:  Eat hearty, Bosco.
Bosco:  (impales an apple with his dagger)  I sure will!
Gorin:  How long do you think Yod'll be out of action?
Mongo:  Hard to tell.  That poison was probably pretty nasty stuff,
  though.  I'd say three, four days at the least.
Bosco:  (busily skinning the apple)  Maybe a week.  I've heard some
  bad things about giant spider venom...
Gorin:  He got lucky.
Mongo:  That was skill, not luck.
Gorin:  Yeah, but if the monster had bitten him in the head, or the
  chest, the poison would have acted faster.
Bosco:  (talking with his mouth full)  He's goth a point.  <urp>
Mongo:  Whatever.  Anyway, the conquest of the Deeps will have to
Gorin:  Too bad.  We were on such a roll there.
Bosco:  We still could be...
Mongo:  No way, Bosco.  We go with Yod or not at all.
Bosco:  (changing tactics)  Hey, lemme see that portable hole!  I've
  got to count the treasure.
Mongo:  Sure you do.
Gorin:  Counting nine for every ten, eh, Bosco?
Bosco:  Never!  (muttering)  That's _eight_ for every ten, anyway.
Mongo:  I think you should know something, Bosco.
Bosco:  Hey, I know lots of things!
Mongo:  All the treasure we found in Grimthaard's lair belongs to
Bosco:  No!  NO!  Forty percent!  He agreed to forty percent!
Mongo:  Yeah, but Yod and I had an agreement before that.  The orc
  treasure is all his, and I got the Coat of Arnd.  As well as us
  helping him clean out the damn orcish horde.
Bosco:  I never agreed to that!  I want my cut!
Mongo:  Don't worry, we'll find more.  Plenty more, if my guesses
  about Thunderdelve are right.

  They soon retired for the evening, and like the previous night,
they were quickly asleep.  Mongo dreamed of ancient dwarven heroes
and terrible monsters fought in subterranean battles.  Gorin dreamed
of being a dwarven king himself, and ruling an empire that spanned
mountain ranges.  Bosco dreamed of loot beyond belief, stolen from
dragons, demons, and worse by the greatest thieves in the land.

  Morning saw the trio at the breakfast table, sullenly eating a
cold meal.  They were in fair spirits, but all three felt the need
to get back into the dungeons, almost as if not being there meant
that treasure was being lost.

Bosco:  -you know damn well what I mean.
Mongo:  Yeah, I sure do.  Only we should be able to go take our
  rightful spoils.
Gorin:  Hey, who else is around to go for it, though.
Bosco:  There's always someone!  You never know where a thief will
  show up.
Mongo:  That's for sure.  Ged told me about your last adventure.
Bosco:  (looking around innocently)  I have no idea what you're
  talking about.

  Their conversation was interrupted by a trio of newcomers, with
a robust-looking Yod in the ccenter!

Yod:  -don't care what they say, I'm okay now!
Spikey:  (almost doubled over in laughter)  You should have seen
  the look on Orthon's face, when you stood up and walked away!
Sparkey:  He about fainted himself!
Mongo:  Yod?!?
Yod:  Who else?
Bosco:  You're not sick anymore?
Yod:  No, I feel fine.  Well, a little dizzy, but I'm in good shape.
  (points to the halfling)  Largely, I understand, thanks to you.
Bosco:  Me?  Oh yeah, I did do that.
Yod:  You did a great thing.  Generations of dwarves will speak the
  name of Bosco with awe and reverence.
Bosco:  (grins at this)  Well, who wouldn't?
Mongo:  (to Gorin)  That's quite enough.  His head's gonna swell up
  big enough as is.
Gorin:  Hey, just trying to humor him a little.  He deserves it.
Bosco:  (oblivious to his companions' banter)  You're up and about,
  ahead of schedule!
Yod:  There is no schedule that can hold me.  (he flexes his arms)
  A little stiff...but I'm a fast healer.  And I had help...and I'm
  hungry!  (he grabs a small loaf of bread and eats a third of it
  in one bite)
Spikey:  You did get better quick, boss.
Spikey:  Think you're ready for the Deeps again?
Yod:  Almost certainly.
Bosco:  Now that's good news, my friend.  We were just waiting for
  you to say something like that.
Mongo:  Easy, Bosco.
Yod:  It's okay.  I understand how tough it must have been, staying
  up here after seeing the wonders of the mines.  What do you think
  I dreamed about, while the fever broke?
Gorin:  Treasure?  The reclaiming of the Deeps?
Mongo:  Exactly!  And soon, we will continue that very quest!

  About two hours later, they were ready to go; they descended huge
stairways, climbed down shafts, and generally retraced their steps
to the spiders' lair.  The place was a blackened mess now, thanks
to Bosco's pyromania.

Bosco:  Heck, if you thought _that_ was something, you should see
  Belphanior when he gets going!
Yod:  Who's Belphanior?
Mongo:  An...acquaintance of ours.  Currently wanted in several
Spikey:  (kicking ashes around on the floor)  No spiders here.
Sparkey:  Not anymore.
Bosco:  (nosing around in crevices that had been covered by webs)
  What's this?  (he holds up a sack, which splits, spilling silver
  pieces everywhere)
Gorin:  Silver?
Bosco:  (pockets a pendant while the others laugh at the brightly
  gleaming silver coins he's spilled across the floor)  Ha-ha, very

  They moved westward, past the charred remnants of the spiders and
their webs.  Not a hundred feet further, they stopped, weapons ready,
for they now heard a strange, methodical tapping from the darkness

Yod:  What could that be?
Bosco:  (in the front of the pack, as usual)  Look!

  Three short skeletons - dwarven skeletons, they realized - were
slowly shuffling toward them.  The bony hands clutched picks or
rock-hammers, which the undead were tapping against the walls and
floor as they went.

Gorin:  Aie!
Mongo:  (backs up a bit, hammer at the ready)  We can take these
  things, no problem!
Gorin:  (hefts his axe menacingly)  Yeah...
Yod:  (holds his axe up)  Hold.
Spikey:  Hold?  Why?
Sparkey:  Get them before they get us!
Mongo:  Yeah, what gives?
Yod:  If you'd just look, you'd see that they're walking right by
Bosco:  Wh-  hey, they _are_!
Gorin:  What's with these undead?
Yod:  I've heard tales of these "rappers" - the animated bodies of
  restless dwarven spirits, doomed to wander the depths until the
  end of time.
Bosco:  Heck, I think I'd rather wander the surface world.  (looks
  around at the impassive faces of his companions)  If I was undead,
  that is.  Which I'm not.
Mongo:  Restless spirits, eh?
Yod:  Yeah.  There they go...I guess they haven't been able to get
  by the spiders' lair until now.
Gorin:  How far will they march, mindlessly?
Spikey:  Do you think they'll make it up to the guards in the Sixth
Sparkey:  Boy, will Turin be surprised!

  Moving right along, they marched for perhaps five minutes before
encountering another marvel of dwarven engineering.  The entire
section of mine floor ahead was on a swivel, thus:


        __          |     |
  /--__/  \____----\|_____|__-----\___          /---
 /                  |     |           \__--__--/
/                   |     |
       chasm        |  *  |        chasm
                    |     |
      __/\__    ____|_____|_____                __/-
 /----      \__/    |     |     \____---\__    /
/                   |     |                \__-


  To the right and left of the pivoting floor-piece was a natural
fissure in the rock; its darkness extended beyond the range of any
vision, both horizontally and vertically.  The purpose of the stone
bridge-device was clear:  somehow, one could control the swivel of
the bridge, to either allow or prevent people from crossing the vast

Yod:  (points at a crank on the wall, on their side of the bridge)
  Betcha that's the control, there.
Mongo:  I'm impressed...
Gorin:  What wonders Thunderdelve holds!
Bosco:  (eyeing the wheel curiously)  Think it still works?
Yod:  We don't need to find out.  I'd rather keep the bridge locked
  in this position than risk collapsing it.  It _is_ millenia old,
  you know.
Spikey:  Well, if the undead dwarves-
Sparkey:  Rappers.
Spikey:  -rappers made it across, which they obviously did, then it
  would seem to be safe for us, too.
Sparkey:  Although skeletons don't weigh much.
Yod:  We'll cross, have no fear.  (he thinks for a moment)  Bosco
  will go first.
Bosco:  He will?
Yod:  Of course.  You're our scout, as well as the lightest.  And
  you have the winged boots, in case something happens.
Bosco:  Yeah!  I was just preparing my torch, that's all.  (he trods
  onto the stone bridge, said torch held in front of him)

  The bridge didn't even creak, and one-by-one, they all crossed to
the other side.

Yod:  See?  Dwarven construction:  built to last!
Gorin:  Believe me, we're glad it did.
Mongo:  I hope no one comes by and turns the wheel, while we're on
  this side.  (he looks into the darkness)
Bosco:  Hey, if that happens, no big deal - I'll just fly back over
  and turn it back.

  They continued onward, and soon reached a natural river, one that
ran right across the mine's floor.  It was about five feet wide, and
its dark waters churned and bubbled as they ran through the riverbed.

Yod:  That shouldn't be here.  We don't design mineshafts across
Mongo:  Looks to me like the river just cut itself into the floor.
Bosco:  (testing the waters with his sword)  Only a foot or so deep.
  (he flies over the water)  C'mon, we've got dungeons to explore!
Yod:  (walks through the river, unhindered by its currents)  Bah.
Spikey:  I don't like getting my feet wet.
Sparkey:  We need a portable bridge.  (both halflings get a running
  start, then leap across the river)
Mongo:  (he and Gorin cross)

  About a hundred feet beyond the river, they encountered a short set
of stairs.

Bosco:  Huh?  Those aren't great, grand stairs like the other ones,
  the ones that took us from Deep to Deep.
Gorin:  Deep to Deeper...
Yod:  (points at a lever on the wall)  See that?
Mongo:  Yeah.
Yod:  I bet this is a ramp-stair.  (he ponders the lever, examines
  the stairs with one calloused hand, then pulls the lever)

  The stairs shifted, becoming a smooth stone ramp!

Bosco:  Whoa!
Mongo:  I'll be damned!
Yod:  Nice trick, eh?  Most dwarven cities have lots of these things,
  to help in case of invasion.
Gorin:  (pushes the lever back up, causing the stairs to re-appear)
  Works both ways, too.
Spikey:  It's that durable dwarven craftsmanship...
Sparkey:  Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Yod:  Whatever.
Bosco:  Well, that sure was nifty, but I'm ready to move on.  (he
  does so)

  As the party continued onward, they noticed that the veins of ore
in the mineshaft's walls were now composed of more unusual metals...

Yod:  (caressing a vein)  By Moradin!  This is mithril!
Mongo:  (awed at the sparkling vein of metal)  Wow...
Gorin:  That's quite a bit of mithril.  You could make a lot of armor
  and weapons from this...
Yod:  Yeah, and I will.
Bosco:  _You_ will?
Yod:  Yeah, me.  I do blacksmithing and armory in my spare time.
Spikey:  He made our armor.
Sparkey:  Fine armor, too, it is.
Mongo:  Mithril...(they move onward)
Yod:  (points to a pair of ore-veins on the opposite wall)  And look
  there!  Solid platinum!
Gorin:  Damn.  The riches of Thunderdelve aren't just rumors.
Mongo:  Nope, they're sure not.  (to Yod)  Think we'll find a vein of
Yod:  Anything's possible.
Bosco:  (discreetly carves out a small chunk of mithril and stashes it
  in his pack)

  They moved on, eyeing the veins of rare and precious metals as they
went.  Gold, platinum, mithril - all were ever-present now, and the
explorers marveled at the sheer value of the ores found in the mine-
shaft.  A few minutes later, they saw a gigantic stairway ahead.  At
least twenty feet wide, the stair descended about fifty feet; its
massive steps were each a foot high and deep.  The ceiling in this
stairway was lofty, perhaps thirty feet high; intricate carvings of
dwarves and their deeds decorated its stonework.  The adventurers'
first impression was that the staircase was designed for giants.

Yod:  The stairway down from the Ninth Deep...
Bosco:  Built a little out of proportion, wouldn't you say?
Yod:  Sometimes architects and masons get inspired, and grandeur wins
  over practicality...
Mongo:  No doubt, though:  it's impressive.
Gorin:  (looking to the bottom of the stairs)  That's an awfully big
  door, down there.

  They began descending the stairs, a slow and careful process due
to the oversized steps.

Spikey:  (climbing down each step backwards)  Whew!
Sparkey:  Maybe they should've made this one a ramp, too.
Bosco:  (flying overhead, he circumvents the stairs entirely)  I'm
  telling you, guys - flying's the way to go.

  Soon, they stood before the massive stone door, a twenty-foot high
and ten-foot wide slab of granite that was distinguishable from the
surrounding wall only by a hairline crack.

Yod:  What the fuck is this?!?  It's not on the map!
Mongo:  But the stairs are, right?
Yod:  Yeah...but that's it.  hmm, Maybe the dwarves only built these
  stairs, but not anything beyond.
Gorin:  Or maybe they saw what was beyond, and then built this door.
Spikey:  Hmm.
Sparkey:  Sounds dangerous, boss.
Yod:  It probably is.  Gorin may be right.  We'll most likely never
  know, though.
Bosco:  (examining the door)  I wonder how thick this thing is?
Mongo:  (puts one ear to the rock)  Pretty thick.
Spikey:  Maybe too thick?
Sparkey:  We don't have a battering ram.
Bosco:  Hey, we'll find a way to get through the door.  We always do.
  The question is, what will we find afterwards?
Yod:  One thing's for sure:  behind this portal lie the unknown
  mysteries - and dangers - of Thunderdelve.

next:   beyond the Deeps!
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to Hilton Head
  for a long vacation (7/28 through 8/6 inclusive) which means that
  the Mongo storyline won't be finished until I get back.  I had
  originally intended to have it done by the time I left Friday, but
  instead I threw a lot of extra effort and material into 260-265
  and consequently didn't finish the storyline.  So...I hope the
  lead-in has made you anxious for the conclusion!

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