Chapter #267

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.oit.gatech.edu  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  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:        2/12/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        approximately noon                                  +
+  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     +
+  Climate:     temperate, within the mountain                      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "This isn't nonsense, Dick, this is history.  History is written +
+   by unusual men, some who even become kings, and some who make   +
+   no more mark than that of a stone thrown into an ocean.  What   +
+   we have here...well we just don't know, do we?"                 +
+                                 - from _Farewell to the King_     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    CCLXVII.  Beyond the Deeps





  After descending the great foot-high steps leading out of the
Ninth Deep, the group has arrived at a massive stone door, a twenty-
foot high, ten-foot wide slab of granite.

Bosco:  Now _this_ is a door!
Yod:  Not just any door, Bosco - the door leading beyond the Ninth
  Deep.
Bosco:  The Tenth Deep!  Like I said...
Yod:  Or the Underdeeps...if the legends tell the truth.
Mongo:  By the looks of this door, they do.  Anything's possible,
  though, I guess.
Gorin:  Heck, we might open the door and find a portal to the fires
  of the Hells.  (he notices everyone else staring at him oddly)
  What?
Bosco:  Are we ready for the Hells?
Yod:  Are they ready for _you_?
Spikey:  (examining the door)  No handles...
Sparkey:  No locks, either.  How d'you get this thing open?
Bosco:  Stand aside.  (he studies the massive portal, rubbing his
  chin)

  Suddenly, and through no action of Bosco, the thick stone door
silently swung open.

Bosco:  (quickly covers up his thorough surprise)  See?  Nothin'
  to it!
Yod:  Hmm.

  Beyond the now-opened door was revealed a massive passageway,
fully twenty feet wide and more than that in height.



     E                     ====
   N + S                   ====   <-- giant stairs up to 9th Deep
     W                     ====
                      ######  ######   <-- thick wall w/door
  _                        #   |
  _ = 13'                 |    |       <-- passage
                          |    |
                          |    |       . = statue
                          |    |
                          |  $ |       $ = party
                          |    |
                          |    |
                          |    |
                      ____|    |____
                             .
                      ____      ____
                          |    |
                          |    |



  The passage was hewn from the surrounding rock, and its air was
dry and cool.  The explorers immediately recognized an odor they
had encountered before, in other deep, dark places:  that peculiar
smell that formed when a place was sealed for centuries, uninhabited
by people.

Yod:  (looking around, axe held ready)  We'd better be on our toes
  here, and I'm not kidding.  There's no telling what monsters or
  traps we might find.
Bosco:  (undaunted by any potential dangers)  I'm ready!  (he leads
  the party through the door, then turns around to look at the big
  stone portal, which is ajar)  Hmm.  (producing a large wedge of
  metal, he puts it at the narrow space between door and floor, and
  kicks it firmly into place)  We can't have this thing shutting on
  us.
Gorin:  You think that little wedge will hold this door?
Bosco:  No - not if it _really_ wants to close - but it's always
  better to try.
Yod:  This is true.
Bosco:  Peldor taught me that, you know.
Mongo:  I'll just bet.
Spikey:  Peldor?
Sparkey:  Never heard of him.
Gorin:  He's a thief of some repute, who we know back in Greyhawk.
Bosco:  Some repute, indeed...well, let's go.  (leads the party into
  the passage)
Mongo:  (sizing up the corridor)  Like the steps, this looks like
  it was built by giants.
Yod:  Maybe it was.  My guess is that this whole area was made by
  some long-extinct race - giants, maybe - and then sealed off from
  the dwarves who ventured down here.
Gorin:  Or maybe the dwarves sealed it, to protect themselves...
Yod:  (nods)  That's a possibility.
Spikey:  Protect themselves?
Sparkey:  From what?
Bosco:  (shrugs)  Who knows?  We're gonna find out...(he wanders a
  bit ahead)
Yod:  (opens his mouth, about to say something cautionary)
Mongo:  Don't stray too far, Bosco.
Bosco:  Who, me?  (about thirty feet ahead of the others, he arrives
  at an intersection of passages)  Hmm.

  Scattered amidst the "+" of the four passages' intersection were
a number of skeletons.  Some had tattered armor, while others bore
old, rusted weapons.  All, however, were smashed, chopped, broken,
or otherwise damaged; it seemed that something here had destroyed a
number of visitors, in the distant past.

Mongo:  (bent down to examine one pile of bones)  This one was a
  dwarf.
Yod:  (points at another)  As was that one.  But here-  (gestures at
  a third)  -is an elf.
Gorin:  What was an elf doing way down here?
Spikey:  What were any of them doing here?
Sparkey:  Getting killed, looks like.
Bosco:  Forget those moldy bones - check this out!

  At the exact center of the intersection was a large, crumbling
statue of black stone.  It appeared to have once depicted a great
warrior, standing at attention, but in its current condition, it
looked more like a zombie.  Chunks of stone were missing from its
stony body...yet, somehow, it still seemed somewhat majestic.

Yod:  Well, one thing's for sure.  _That_ isn't a dwarf, and thus,
  dwarves didn't build it.
Mongo:  ...and thus, dwarves didn't build this area.
Yod:  Yup.
Bosco:  (standing beneath the 20' high statue, hands at his hips)
  I bet halflings didn't build this area either.
Gorin:  (examining the base of the statue)  It doesn't seem to be
  fastened in place.  Maybe somebody put it here.
Spikey:  That would mean that maybe dwarves _did_ build this level
  after all.
Sparkey:  No way.  They wouldn't build halls that were five times
  their height.
Yod:  Actually, they would, and did, and do.  But that doesn't mean
  they built this one.  We'll just have to go onward, and figure this
  out.
Gorin:  Speaking of which...
Bosco:  (looking at the three branching passages here)  Hmm, which
  way to go?  Ah, how about left?  It's always worked before...
Yod:  It's good to know that there's a firm, rational basis for your
  decisions, Bosco.
Bosco:  Pfah.  (enters the southward passage)

  This passage, exactly like the main passage in all ways, soon led
to a larger chamber.  This room, which was at least a hundred feet
wide, was a hemispherical dome, with a high, round ceiling.  To the
south end of the dome was a semicircular opening, leading to an
adjacent chamber of nearly identical dimensions.

Yod:  (wandering toward the second gigantic room)  I think I see a
  third room, beyond the second.  (his voice echoes loudly in the
  vast domes)
Mongo:  (trotting after the dwarf-king)  But why are they empty?
Gorin:  (follows Mongo)
Spikey:  (he and Sparkey are following Yod)
Bosco:  (left behind, he wonders what happened to the concept of an
  advance scout)  Drat.  (he quickly diverts his attention to the
  massive chamber's walls, for they have numerous cracks and chinks
  in their stonework)
Mongo:  (points ahead of Yod)  Yeah, there _is_ a third domed room.
Gorin:  I see a fourth, way ahead there.
Yod:  (looking around, in awe)  Hmm...I think this area is what the
  legends call the "Hall of Echoes"...
Mongo:  You think?
Yod:  Well, bear in mind that I'm not the king of Thunderdelve by
  bloodline, but rather by blood.
Bosco:  (just catching up to the others)  Huh?  What's that mean?
Yod:  (sighs)  For many centuries, Thunderdelve's kings came from
  a long line of one family.  Then they all got killed when Feuer-
  hauch showed up.  (he frowns)  Hmm, I guess that means that I'm
  now starting a new line of kings...
Bosco:  You have to get married and have kids first.
Gorin:  Bosco-
Yod:  Anyway, since I earned my place in Thunderdelve by battle,
  not bloodline, I'm not privy to the lore of the place - never
  have been.
Mongo:  Nothing wrong with that.
Yod:  The last dwarves who knew all of Thunderdelve's secrets died
  under the wyrm's fiery breath, centuries ago.
Gorin:  And the secrets died with them...
Yod:  Not always.  I find new things here every day.  Sometimes,
  like recently, I find lots of new things in only a few days.
Bosco:  Sounds like you need to write everything down, so that
  future generations will know it too.

  By now, they had entered the third of the gigantic domes, for
they had walked as they talked.  The dome-chambers seemed to go
on and on, for a fifth, and even the edge of a sixth, were now
visible, some distance away.

Bosco:  Cripes!  How many _are_ there?
Yod:  Seven.  The-

  Conversation was interrupted by a loud, yet distant, sound from
the north, behind the adventurers.

Bosco:  Huh?  (whirls around)  What's that?
Mongo:  Sounds like some kind of clicking.
Yod:  Yeah...or rattling.
Gorin:  (hefts his axe, switching it from hand to hand)  Whatever
  the hell it is, we're sure gonna see it coming.

  This was true, for the group was in the third of the sequenced
dome-rooms, and they had a clear line of sight back to the main
hallway.  As they watched, the sound grew nearer...and nearer...

Spikey:  What _is_ that?!?
Sparkey:  I'm afraid we're about to find out, bro.
Mongo:  Look!

  They could now see a huge form, still some two hundred feet away
but closing.  It was hard to make the thing out at this distance.

Yod:  Looks like it's wearing plate mail.
Gorin:  And carrying a sword.  A big sword.
Bosco:  That's gotta be a giant, or I'm no halfling.
Mongo:  It's a giant, all right.  And that means...(he hurls his
  hammer)  Stormcrest!

  Mighty though the dwarf's throw was, the weapon didn't have the
momentum to reach the target, and it returned to his hand.

Mongo:  Damn!
Yod:  (readying his axe)  Wouldn't worry about it - that was a long
  throw.
Spikey:  Besides, you'll have another chance.
Sparkey:  Soon enough.

  The thing, whatever it was, was now a mere hundred feet away.  It
was definitely giant-sized, maybe twenty feet in height, though this
wasn't obvious given the height of the ceiling here.

Gorin:  Look!  It's got bones showing at the armor-joints!
Bosco:  Holy smokes, you're right!
Mongo:  A giant skeleton!
Yod:  Or a skeletal giant...
Spikey:  Man, that's a big monster.
Sparkey:  And tough-looking, too.

  As the skeleton approached, they could feel the floor tremble,
such was the weight of the thing.  Though its armor was rusty and
dented, no rents or holes scarred its surface; the gigantic sword
it bore was at least fifteen feet long.

Gorin:  Crap, that thing could cut us in half with one swing!
Mongo:  That's why we can't let it get any closer!  (he hurls his
  hammer again)

  The hammer hit the foe squarely in the chest, evoking a loud
CLANG in the process.  The gigantic skeleton staggered a bit, but
yet lumbered onward.  It was close enough now that they could see
the darkness that resided behind its helm's eye-slits.  The black-
ness there seemed to writhe and coalesce, as if it had a life of
its own.

Bosco:  Eye, aie, I.  (takes to the air, tiny boot-wings flapping)
Yod:  (hurls his axe at the undead foe)  Die!
skeletal giant:  (the axe bounces from one shoulder-plate, leaving
  a small dent; the thing pauses for a moment before marching on)
Mongo:  Quick, everybody spread out!  Don't let it attack a solid
  group of us!

  As they began doing this, the ebon glow within the skeleton's
helmet grew, flowing out of the eye-slits altogether.

Mongo:  Ack!  (recoils as black tendrils of energy float toward him)
Yod:  (likewise)
Bosco:  (executes evasive maneuvers, easily dodging the black wisps
  that now fill the air in front of the giant skeleton)
Gorin:  Shit!  (he ducks, then leaps to one side)
Spikey:  (charges to the left, to flank the foe)
Sparkey:  (charges to the right, with the same intention)

  Despite their efforts, some of the adventurers were "hit" by the
writhing black tendrils...

Yod:  AAARGH!  (he falls to his knees)
Gorin:  What's it doing to him?
Spikey:  (also touched by the weird blackness, he falls)  YAAAAH!
Sparkey:  (barely ducks another tendril, then charges in, hacking
  at the skeleton's knee-joint with his hand axe)  Hah!  (he turns
  and flees backwards, avoiding more energy-tendrils)
Mongo:  What the hell...(he swats at some blackness with his hammer,
  to no effect)
Bosco:  (almost over the foe's head now)

  As Yod and Spikey writhed in pain on the floor, the skeleton
seemed to grow larger.

Gorin:  Crap!  It's taking their energy!  (he swings his axe at one
  of the foe's legs)
skeletal giant:  (shrugs off the blow, and hits Gorin with the ebon
  tendrils)
Gorin:  AARGH!  (he falls, joining Yod and Spikey on the floor)
Spikey:  (barely moving)
Sparkey:  (chops at a black wisp with his axe)  Aie!
Mongo:  Shit!  Guys, don't hit the black stuff - hit the skeleton!
  (ignoring the black tendrils, he draws back his arm, and wallops
  the foe in the knee)

  At this close range, the dwarf's attack could not miss; what
remained to be seen was how much damage he could inflict.

skeletal giant:  (staggers as its knee shatters with a loud SNAP)
Mongo:  Yeah!  (though several of the black tendrils now grasp him,
  he appears to be unaffected, unlike the other victims)
Bosco:  (stabs at the monster's helm, from above; his blade goes
  through its eye-slits, hitting something solid beyond)  Got 'im!
Mongo:  Fall, damn you!  (bashes the armored giant in the other knee,
  knocking it to the floor)

  At once, all the black energy-tendrils vanished, and their victims
looked around, dazed.

Bosco:  Yeah!
Mongo:  Pour it on, guys!
Sparkey:  I'm on it!  (chops and stabs at the giant's neck-joint)
skeletal giant:  (floor-bound though it is, it swings its gigantic
  sword, swatting the halfling warrior away)
Sparkey:  Aaaa...(hits the floor about thirty feet away)  Ugh!
Spikey:  (sits up and looks around)
Gorin:  (trying to get to his feet, wobbling a bit)  Agh...
Yod:  (likewise)
Mongo:  (leaps back from the giant, who has just swung and missed
  the airborne Bosco)  You guys okay?!?
Yod:  Yeah...weak though...

  The skeletal giant was attempting to stand, but its ruined knees
wouldn't support its great weight.  Mongo took full advantage of
this fact, belting the foe in the right knee, again!

skeletal giant:  (hits the floor, heavily)
Bosco:  (swoops in, stabbing, but his sword is shunted aside by the
  skeleton's armor)  Darn it!
Yod:  (charging in now, axe held high)  No scummy undead tries to
  drain MY strength!  (he chops wildly, striking sparks with every
  mighty blow)
Mongo:  Hah!  (he charges in, side-by-side with Yod, and begins
  hammering the skeleton's torso)
Gorin:  (stands, axe held in one hand)  What's going on?
Spikey:  (stands, wobbling dizzily)
Sparkey:  (sits up nearby, dazed)  Wha' happ'ned?
Bosco:  (lands, and stabs at the skeletal giant's sword-hand, trying
  to make it drop the deadly weapon)
skeletal giant:  (grasps the great sword even more tightly in its
  bony hand, and lifts the weapon)
Mongo:  Oh, no you don't!  (he hits the sword-hand with his hammer,
  smashing it into white chips)
Yod:  (chops the foe's neck with all his might)
skeletal giant:  (its helmeted head rolls away, severed)
Bosco:  That got him!
Yod:  Whew.
Mongo:  You guys okay?
Yod:  Yeah...it was taking my strength, my energy.
Gorin:  Me too.
Spikey:  Me three.
Sparkey:  Lucky for you guys that Mongo hit the skeleton when he did.
  You might have shriveled away to nothing.
Mongo:  Aw...
Yod:  Still, I feel a little weak.
Gorin:  Yeah, me too.  Like it got some of my strength even though
  Mongo stopped it...
Mongo:  Maybe that'll wear off after a while.
Yod:  I hope so.
Bosco:  Well, now we know why there aren't dwarves, or gnomes...or
  derro or drow wandering around this level.
Gorin:  All those smashed skeletons back in the main passage...
Spikey:  No kidding!  That thing was one mean bastard!
Sparkey:  Yeah.  (he eyes the unmoving body)
Mongo:  Hell, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Yod:  (winks at Bosco)  Ancient dwarven proverb.
Bosco:  Hey, does that mean that the smaller they are, the lighter
  they fall?  Heck, I'd never fall, then.
Mongo:  Not now, Bosco.
Spikey:  (to Sparkey)  You got hit by that big sword?  And lived?!?
Sparkey:  Yup.
Yod:  (to Bosco)  That's what good dwarven-made armor will do for
  you, kid.
Bosco:  So I've heard.

  At Bosco's urging, they pried the great helm off of the fallen
foe's head.  Within was, as expected, a large skull, its eyesockets
now vacant of any unnatural light.

Yod:  As I thought, this is a giant's skeleton.
Mongo:  It dies as good as any giant.
Bosco:  Or any skeleton.
Gorin:  (eyeing the domed chambers to the south)  I'm still feeling
  a little woozy, but...shouldn't we be checking out these other
  rooms?
Yod:  Yeah, you're right.
Sparkey:  Seven halls, eh?
Sparkey:  Halls of Echoes...

  Their footsteps did indeed echo, as they trekked southward, moving
from room to room.  All of the domed Halls of Echoes were silent,
save for the adventurers' footsteps and words, and all of the halls
were empty.  At the end of the seventh massive chamber was a small
anteroom, accessed by a narrow passage.

Bosco:  Well, one thing's for sure.  That giant skeleton never came
  in _here_.  (he strolls through the four-by-four tunnel, entering
  the antechamber)
Yod:  (follows, as do the others)  This was definitely built with
  dwarves in mind.
Mongo:  (looking around the antechamber)  Shelves...stone shelves.

  Indeed, three of the small room's four walls were actually built-
in stone shelves.  Since they were part of the wall, they hadn't
collapsed over the years, though the dozens of books resting atop
them were tattered and crumbling.

Yod:  (his eyes suddenly twinkle)  I know what this is!
Bosco:  You do?
Yod:  It's a dwarven lore-hall.  (he points to the shelves)  Those
  moldering books should contain all the knowledge of the ancient
  dwarves who lived here.  See, I'll show you.  (he grabs a book)

  The dwarf-king cried out as the ancient tome crumbled to dust in
his hands.

Yod:  No!
Mongo:  Better not touch any more of 'em.
Spikey:  This is strange.  Great knowledge fills this room...
Sparkey:  ...yet to touch it is to erase it.
Gorin:  If we had a wizard here, we might be able to save the
  books.
Yod:  But we don't.
Bosco:  What about me?
Mongo:  What about you?  (he examines some of the tattered pages
  scattered on the cold floor)
Gorin:  What've you got?
Mongo:  Not much.  Written history...a few maps...
Bosco:  (also looking at the fallen, nearly-shredded pages on the
  floor, he notices an abundance of runic letters and symbols)
  Hey, I can't read this stuff!
Yod:  (drily)  That's because it's in ancient dwarven, Bosco.
Bosco:  Naturally.

  Unwilling to risk destroying any more of the priceless tomes,
the adventurers returned to the intersection of passages.  Bosco
suggested the northern passage next.

Bosco:  Usually, the really good stuff's in the middle passages,
  in places like these.  So we should save it for last.
Yod:  (quizzically)  All the "good stuff"?
Bosco:  Yeah, you know, gold, gems, magical relics, bars of rare
  metal...the good stuff!
Mongo:  <sigh>

  They headed down the northward passage, Bosco once again taking
the lead.



     E                     ====
   N + S                   ====   <-- giant stairs up to 9th Deep
     W                     ====
                      ######  ######   <-- thick wall w/door
  _                        #   |
  _ = 13'                 |    |       <-- passage
                          |    |
                          |    |       . = statue
                          |    |
                          |    |       $ = party
                          |    |
                          |    |
                          |    |
                  ________|    |____
                   $         .        to Hall of Echoes & lore-hall
                  ________      ____
                          |    |
                          |    |



  This passage went on for about two hundred feet, then turned
sharply to the left (west) and continued for another hundred feet
or so.  A pair of great iron doors, not at all rusted, stood at
the end of the corridor; one of them was slightly ajar.

Bosco:  Now what's this?  (he trots up, and peeks into the open
  doorway)  Huh.
Yod:  What've you got, Bosco?
Bosco:  I'm not sure...(he goes into the room)
Mongo:  Wait up!  (the others follow the intrepid halfling)

  Beyond the iron doors was a large hall, a hundred feet in length
and forty in breadth.  Its ceiling rose fifty feet above their heads,
but the walls were of more interest - for they were covered with huge,
shiny plates of polished glass, in metal frames.

Yod:  Could it be...yes!
Gorin:  What?  What is it?
Yod:  The Hall of Mirrors!
Bosco:  (wanders into the hall)
Mongo:  Err...Bosco...
Bosco:  Relax, woudja?  I'll be fine.

  Some of the mirrors were shattered, or had fallen and cracked to
bits, while others seemed intact.  There were twenty mirrors, all
told; perhaps a dozen were still intact.

Yod:  Legends tell of the mighty magical powers of these mirrors...
Mongo:  What kind of powers?
Yod:  The mirrors are said to reflect different facets of those who
  look into them.  (he frowns)  Though, come to think of it, that
  isn't always a good-
Bosco:  Hey!

  The halfling was standing before the nearest of the mirrors, a
look of surprise on his face.

Mongo:  (trotting over)  What is it?
Bosco:  (pointing at the mirror's shiny face)  Look!

  The halfling's reflection showed the familiar form of the small
halfling - except that he was covered in gold!

Bosco:  Whoa!
Mongo:  What the hell's this?
Spikey:  Looks like Gold-Bosco.
Sparkey:  His natural state, perhaps?
Gorin:  I'd say it's his natural want.
Yod:  Hmm.  No telling what this image means.  (he steps in front of
  the mirror)  Hmm.

  Nothing surprising was revealed - the dwarf-king's reflection was
absolutely identical to his current appearance.

Mongo:  I don't get it.  (he stands in front of the mirror)

  Mongo's reflection showed far more than just the dwarf; a great
battle was depicted, with orcish bodies scattered about.  Whatever
the nature of the battle, it was obviously over; in the center of
everything, surrounded by cheering dwarves, was Mongo, decked out
in shining armor, hefting Stormcrest high in the air.

Mongo:  Huh?  This battle never happened.
Gorin:  Maybe it'll happen later in life.  (he stands in front of
  the mirror, and his reflection shows him sitting on a simple but
  elegant throne)  Whoa.
Spikey:  (stands before the mirror, and a countryside scene appears,
  in which he and Sparkey are relaxing pleasantly as dusk approaches)
  Looks like any of a dozen hillsides.
Sparkey:  Could be anywhere.
Yod:  (eyeing some runes above the mirror)  Ah.  I see now.
Mongo:  Eh?  (he spots the runes)  ...Mirror...of...Kings?!?
Yod:  Not a bad translation, considering  that those runes are in a
  nearly-lost dwarven dialect.  Very old.
Gorin:  Kings?
Mongo:  Yeah.  The Mirror of Kings.
Yod:  I'd guess that the images are supposed to be what you'd look
  like as a king.
Bosco:  Bah, that's no way to be a king.  (he begins wondering what
  his reflection really means)
Spikey:  It's good to be a king.
Sparkey:  No doubt.

  The mirror next to the first was broken, but the one across the
hallway wasn't; Gorin, the first to arrive at the mirror, was
rewarded with an image of himself, dressed in rags and working on
some wooden item amidst a run-down shop.

Gorin:  Hell, that doesn't look like much fun.
Bosco:  (moves in front of the mirror)  Lemme see!  (his reflection
  shows him as a grimy, filth-covered wretch, roaming the darkened
  streets of some slum)  Aie!
Yod:  Your true self, eh, Bosco?
Bosco:  I should think not!  (he wanders away)
Yod:  (sees himself wandering through some caves, in tattered armor,
  forlorn-looking, and bearing a well-notched axe)  Crap.  That's no
  way to end up.
Mongo:  (takes his turn, seeing himself as a chained slave in some
  dark dungeon)  I don't like this mirror.
Spikey:  (spies his own reflection, which depicts him and Sparkey
  wandering through a burning field)  Arg.  Who set that place on
  fire?
Sparkey:  What _is_ that place?
Yod:  Guess that's why this one is called the Mirror of Ruin.
Bosco:  Ruin?  Not for Bosco!  (he wanders away)

  They made their way along the Hall of Mirrors, each adventurer
taking his turn in front of each intact mirror.



                         _\ /_
  Mirror of Kings       |     |   Mirror of Ruin            E
  Mirror of Courage     :     |   Mirror of Fear           N+S
  Mirror of Youth       |     |   Mirror of Age             W
  Mirror of Opposition  |     :   Mirror of Unity
  Mirror of Hatred      |     |   Mirror of Love      | = mirror
  Mirror of Souls       :     |   Mirror of Gods      : = cracked
  Mirror of Illusions   |     :   Mirror of Worlds        mirror
  Mirror of Virtue      :     :   Mirror of Vice
  Mirror of Truth       |     :   Mirror of Lies
  Mirror of Hope        :_____:   Mirror of Sorrow
                           ^
                           |______Mirror of Doom (double-sized)



  The adventurers experienced various and interesting reflections
from each of the intact mirrors:

Mirror of Kings         gold-inlaid rune
  (already looked)

Mirror of Ruin          black onyx rune
  (already looked)

Mirror of Courage       emerald rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Fear          light yellow topaz rune
  Yod                       scene with Thunderdelve in ruins and all its
                                inhabitants dead
  Mongo                     Mongo, weak and surrounded by humanoid foes
  Gorin                     skybound scene with Gorin falling forever
  Spikey/Sparkey            cavern scene with Yod on his deathbed
  Bosco                     Bosco, alone in a dark, quiet room

Mirror of Youth         white pearl rune
  Yod                       reading scene, with other young dwarves
  Mongo                     smithy scene, with Mongo forging an axe
  Gorin                     Gorin playing on a hillside
  Spikey/Sparkey            the pair wrestling in a field
  Bosco                     Bosco hiding naked under a table

Mirror of Age           white ivory rune
  Yod                       scene with a white-bearded Yod holding audience
                                over thousands of dwarves
  Mongo                     brightly lit dining hall, with Stormcrest
                                mounted above a great throne
  Gorin                     teaching a young dwarf about battle
  Spikey/Sparkey            sitting around with wives and a combined dozen
                                halfling children
  Bosco                     scene with Bosco, unseen by all, at the center
                                of a den of thieves

Mirror of Opposition    violet amethyst rune
  Yod                       image of a mercenary Yod, leading a band of
                                cutthroats and bandits across the land
  Mongo                     image of Mongo-2, from the alternate Oerth
  Gorin                     image of Gorin chopping up small babies
  Spikey/Sparkey            image of the twins locked in mortal combat
  Bosco                     image of Bosco, unchanged

Mirror of Unity         weird multicolored stone rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Hatred        green emerald rune
  Yod                       cavern scene with a gigantic red dragon
  Mongo                     hilly scene with the giant, General Zog
  Gorin                     forest scene featuring a pack of trolls
  Spikey/Sparkey            scene with a gigantic spider attacking Yod
  Bosco                     underwater scene with the gigantic squid-god
                                Silthis and various followers

Mirror of Love          pink gemstone rune
  Yod                       Thunderdelve Mountain scene
  Mongo                     scene w/ all of the adventurers
  Gorin                     family scene
  Spikey/Sparkey            Sparkey/Spikey
  Bosco                     Bosco

Mirror of Souls         red ruby rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Gods          mithril-inlaid rune
  Yod                       image of a gigantic, silver-bearded dwarf with
                                twin axes
  Mongo                     very vague image of a gigantic dwarf
  Gorin                     same as Mongo
  Spikey/Sparkey            image of a regal halfling, dressed for battle
  Bosco                     nothing

Mirror of Illusions     silver-inlaid rune
  Yod                       image of a bearded giant, with Yod's face
  Mongo                     image of a stocky, bearded drow elf
  Gorin                     image of a centaur, with Gorin's upper body
  Spikey/Sparkey            image of twin sprites, prancing and dancing around
  Bosco                     image of a very Peldor-like human, with Bosco's
                                basic facial features

Mirror of Worlds        weird green-blue diamond rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Virtue        platinum-inlaid rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Vice          (no inlay in rune)
  CRACKED

Mirror of Truth         clear diamond rune
  Yod                       lord among giants
  Mongo                     same as Yod
  Gorin                     large, powerful warrior among smaller ones
  Spikey/Sparkey            small but fierce warriors, more prominent than
                                the other warriors who stand with them
  Bosco                     shifty, squint-eyed character

Mirror of Lies          orange jacinth rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Hope          blue sapphire rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Sorrow        dirty brown gemstone rune
  CRACKED

Mirror of Doom          jet-black obsidian rune
  CRACKED



Bosco:  Wow, this place is neat!
Mongo:  True.  Though some of these mirrors are maybe better left
  alone.
Yod:  (examining the mirror of doom, at the end of the hall)  A good
  thing this one's broken.  I have no desire to see my own doom.
Gorin:  You're not the only one.
Spikey:  This place gives me the creeps.  Let's get out of here.
Sparkey:  Agreed.
Bosco:  What do you mean?  They're just pictures, aren't they?
Yod:  Some are.  But the Mirror of Doom was said to have shown the
  true manner or place of one's death.  Powerful sorcery is at work
  in these simple sheets of glass.
Bosco:  (eyeing the unusual gemmed runes above the mirrors)
Yod:  Don't even think about it, Bosco.

  They left the hall, returning to the central intersection with the
statue.



     E                     ====
   N + S                   ====   <-- giant stairs up to 9th Deep
     W                     ====
                      ######  ######   <-- thick wall w/door
  _                        #   |
  _ = 13'                 |    |       <-- passage
                          |    |
                          |    |       . = statue
                          |    |
                          |    |       $ = party
                          |    |
                          |    |
                          |    |
                  ________|    |____
 to Hall of                 .        to Hall of Echoes & lore-hall
   Mirrors        ________      ____
                          |    |
                          |  $ |



Bosco:  Time to head westward!  (he prances down that passageway)
Gorin:  The good stuff, right?
Bosco:  Yeah!  (starts running)





next:   more long-buried strangeness
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  For some reason, it's taken me more than a week to get a
  new story written, after I came back from my vacation.
    Thomas prediction:  _Mortal Kombat_ will be the movie of the
  summer.  Don't laugh; I've seen the hour-long special on the
  making of the movie.  It should, by all rights, be great.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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