Chapter #268

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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:        afternoon                                           +
+  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     +
+  Climate:     temperate, within the mountain                      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "All that is gold does not glitter,                              +
+   Not all those who wander are lost."                             +
+                                                - J.R.R. Tolkien   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                      CCLXVIII.  Rock Bottom





  After exploring a few strange rooms in Thunderdelve Mountain's sub-
levels, the six intrepid adventurers are headed for parts unknown...



     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:  (almost chanting to himself)  The good stuff...the good
  stuff...
Mongo:  (suppresses a groan)

  They ventured westward, heading down the main passage, away from
the intersection.  Unlike the previous two branches, this corridor
continued for several hundred feet; it ended in a small door.

Yod:  (staring at the five-by-two door)  Now _this_ was definitely
  designed by dwarves.
Bosco:  It's awful small, compared to the hallways and other doors
  here.  (he examines the door, carefully)
Gorin:  Locked?
Bosco:  Nope...no traps either, as far as I can-  Whoa, wait, lookee
  here.  (he points at something)
Mongo:  What've you got, Bosco?
Bosco:  Poison needle on the door handle.  Or should I say, a plain
  old needle.  Any poison that was once on here is long-gone.
Spikey:  You mean, used.
Sparkey:  As in, somebody already triggered the trap?
Bosco:  Yep.  Not once, not twice, but many times.  (he uses a knife
  to bend the needle aside)  Lots of people have been through here
  already.
Yod:  Well, now it's our turn.  Are you planning to open that door,
  Bosco?
Bosco:  Of course.  (he does so, and they go through)

  The group entered a cylindrical chamber, thirty feet in diameter
and twenty feet high.  Across the room, another small door was set
in the wall.  However, their attention was drawn to the numerous
skeletons scattered across the chamber's floor.  The remains were
quite disjointed, making it impossible to tell how many individual
skeletons were present.

Mongo:  I'd guess anywhere from twenty to forty.
Gorin:  Hard to tell, though.
Yod:  (examining a half-crushed skull)  Something was driven through
  this skull.  (he holds the thing up for the others to see, showing
  them the round hole that pierces the top of the cranium)
Bosco:  Maybe he got speared.
Spikey:  That's too neatly-done to be a spear-hole.
Sparkey:  Yeah.  It looks like a spike did the job.
Mongo:  Some of the other bones have holes like this, too.
Yod:  Hmm.  I don't like being in rooms where mass numbers of people
  died.
Bosco:  Me neither.  Let's see where that door leads-

  Suddenly, the walls began shaking violently, knocking some of the
adventurers from their feet.

Mongo:  What-

  Sharp, foot-long metal spikes now protruded from the ceiling!

Bosco:  (looking around wildly as he flies off the floor)  Watch the
  floor!
Gorin:  Wh-

  More spikes suddenly protruded from the floor; Yod and Spikey were
quick (or lucky) enough not to get stabbed, while Gorin and Sparkey
were each nicked by a couple of the emerging spikes.  Mongo's new
armor saved him from one, turning aside the pointed shaft with ease.

Mongo:  (muttering)  Barely felt that...
Spikey:  (whirls around, pointing at the door they entered by)  Gone!
  The entry door is gone!  (indeed, the portal has been replaced by a
  stone wall)
Sparkey:  (runs over to the second door, and pulls it open...to reveal
  a blank stone wall)  Aie!  False door!
Bosco:  Great.  (looks upward)  Oh, crap!  This is getting worse by
  the minute!
Gorin:  (nursing a bleeding arm)  What?  How can it get worse?
Bosco:  The ceiling's moving downward!
Yod:  Teeth!  The Chamber of Teeth!
Mongo:  What?!?
Yod:  This is the dwarves' - Thunderdelve's - ultimate death-trap!
  It's escape-proof...
Mongo:  No way.  We're getting out!
Bosco:  I agree.  Nothing's escape-proof.  Nothing.  (he flies around
  the continually-shrinking chamber)  Though this comes close.
Yod:  Hey, I'm not saying we can't get out...just that it's never
  been done before.
Mongo:  (grabs a floor-spike and tries to bend it)  Ungh!
Yod:  An adamantine alloy, no doubt.  And I'd bet these walls are
  ten feet thick.
Spikey:  A wizard could break free.
Sparkey:  But we don't have any wizards.
Mongo:  Who needs 'em, that's what I say!
Gorin:  There's no chance that these walls, or any part of them, are
  illusions?
Yod:  Doubtful.  (moving around spikes, he walks over to the entry-
  door area and begins kicking the wall)  Where'd that damn door go?
Bosco:  Illusions...hey!  (he uses his ring's x-ray sight, and scans
  the ceiling, walls, and floor)
Mongo:  (moves to the second/false door, and begins smashing at the
  rock with his hammer, knocking away large chips)  Out!  I want out!
  (he stops hammering to look at the piece of stone that just lodged
  in one forearm)
Gorin:  Whoa.
Spikey:  Hey, watch it with that hammering bit, would you?
Sparkey:  You're liable to put someone's eye out!
Mongo:  (resumes hammering at the wall)  Get out of the way, then!  A
  stabbed eye is better than a crushed body!
Yod:  This is some of the toughest stone I've ever seen...the dwarves
  picked their location well.
Gorin:  Too bad for us.
Spikey:  (running around, frantically, tapping on the walls and floor
  with his sword-hilt)  This room's as solid as they come!
Sparkey:  (doing the same thing, he almost trips and falls onto one
  floor-spike)  Damn!
Gorin:  (to Yod)  Maybe you and Mongo could hold up the ceiling with
  your giant-strength.
Yod:  Maybe...

  The ceiling was now a mere seven feet above the floor, from its
original height of twenty.  They watched the ominous descent of the
stone, grinding its way downward; it was becoming harder and harder
to avoid the spikes.

Bosco:  (still moving around, somewhat slowly, eyeing the walls)
  Hmmm.
Mongo:  Whatever you're doing, do it faster, Bosco!  We're running
  out of room!
Bosco:  Yeah, yeah.  (he stops, near the false exit door)  What's
  this?  (whipping out his magical stone knife, he begins carving
  away chunks of wall)
Gorin:  What've you found there?
Bosco:  Call it a thin wall...(he digs faster)
Spikey:  C'mon, let's help him!
Sparkey:  Right!  (he and Spikey begin tossing away Bosco's debris
  as the halfling digs at the wall)
Mongo:  (gives up on his hammering efforts, leaving a foot-deep hole
  in that section of wall)  Fuck.  (he moves closer to Bosco)  You
  think you'll dig us out of here in time?
Bosco:  Don't know.
Mongo:  (puts his hammer back on his belt, then reaches up and touches
  the ceiling, pushing upward with all his strength)  Urg!
Gorin:  Hurry, Bosco!
Bosco:  I'm digging as fast as I can!
Yod:  (swipes the dagger out of Bosco's hands)  Give me that!  (with
  one giant-strength-enhanced blow, he tears away a huge chunk of
  stone)
Bosco:  Hey, if you wanted a turn at digging, all you had to do was
  say so...
Spikey:  How's it going, Mongo?
Sparkey:  Yeah, are you having any luck against the ceiling?
Mongo:  N-no...ungh!  (he strains even more)  Barely...slowing it
  down...at all!
Yod:  (his arm suddenly falls through the hole he's digging, and he
  feels open air beyond)  Aha!  (backing up, he grabs the stony edges
  around the small hole, and rips them away with a single pull)  Into
  that hole, guys!
Bosco:  (darts through)  Hey, it's some kind of room!
Spikey:  (barrels into Bosco)
Sparkey:  (barrels into Spikey)
Gorin:  (barrels into Sparkey, knocking all three halflings down)
Mongo:  (back in the cylinder-room, still pushing against the spiked
  ceiling)  Ungh!
Yod:  (halfway through the escape route he dug)  Come on, leave that
  ceiling and get through this hole!
Mongo:  Okay...(calculating his move, he suddenly lets go, and leaps
  toward the exit as the ceiling descends)
Yod:  Come on!  (grabs Mongo and pulls him through, as the chamber
  behind compresses itself)
Mongo:  Whew.  (looks around)  Where are we?

  They had emerged into a small room, filled with springs, pulleys,
levers, pumps, weights, counterweights, and the like.  A small iron
door to one side was the only visible exit.

Yod:  ...must be the control room for the trap.  Look here.  (he
  points at a large, rusty iron lever in one wall; above the thing
  are inscribed some dwarven runes)
Bosco:  What's that, the control to make the room crush people?
Yod:  Sort of.  I think it's a master switch, to enable or disable
  the ceiling-trap.
Gorin:  Well, hell, pull it.
Bosco:  Yeah, pull it!  We don't want to be trapped down here.
Yod:  Not right now.  I think we should leave the room like it is,
  until we've seen what's in this new area.  Remember, no one's ever
  made it by the trap before...so untold riches could be down here.
Bosco:  Hey, like I said, let's leave it alone and go explore this
  area.  (he wanders toward the door)
Spikey:  (still sweating from the near-escape involving the last
  chamber)  Whew, that was a close one.
Sparkey:  A well-built trap.  But why in the world would dwarves
  build a trap like that?
Yod:  Hey, orcs abound.  The trap was probably some last line of
  defense for this level.
Mongo:  And a damned fine last line it was...
Yod:  (examining the variety of mechanical devices here)  Secrets
  like these could really help us out, upstairs...
Mongo:  How's that?
Yod:  I think this same basic setup will drive elevator-rooms...
  rooms that rise and sink between different floors.
Gorin:  I thought those were just legends.
Mongo:  Me too.
Yod:  I half-believed them, myself...until now.
Bosco:  (not really concerned about dwarven elevator particulars,
  he peers through the open door)  There's a passage beyond.  Hey,
  what's this writing on the door, here?
Yod:  (looks at the pair of engraved runes on the outside side of
  the iron door)  It's in dwarven.
Mongo:  "Engine Room"...
Bosco:  Oh.  (he leads the way into the passage)

  They were in a very narrow, four-foot wide passage; its ceiling
was a mere four feet high.  The tiny tunnel led away to the left
and right.

Yod:  No giants will ever roam _these_ halls...
Mongo:  No kidding.
Bosco:  (goes rightward)  Let's go this way.
Gorin:  After you.

  Marching single-file, Bosco in the lead, they followed the small
passage as it twisted and turned.  After perhaps a hundred feet
(it was hard to tell, given their slower footspeed in the cramped
tunnel) they arrived at another small iron door.

Yod:  (looking over Bosco's head, not a difficult feat)  This
  one reads "Furnace Room"...
Bosco:  (touching the door lightly)  Yep, it's a little warm to
  the touch.  (discerning no traps, the halfling opens the door)

  Beyond was a large cavern, with a wide fissure across its center
and a sturdy-looking iron bridge spanning this gap.


                        ||
                       _||__
                    __/\     \____                  E
                   /    \         \                N+S
                __/ \    \         \                W
               /     \    \         \____
         _____/       \    \             \
        /              \\\\\\         ___/
        \               \   _\_______/
         \__            _\_/ <--------------- fissure
            \__________/



  As they entered the room and looked into the chasm, they could
see a fiery glow from below - molten lava!

Yod:  This is Surtur's Eye.
Gorin:  What?
Bosco:  Who's Surtur?
Yod:  Surtur's some legendary fire-demon or god.  I've heard tales
  of a lava-lake or river under Thunderdelve, called Surtur's Eye
  by the ancient dwarves.  Now we know that it's really here.
Bosco:  (peering into the lava-filled fissure)  Fire...fire...fire.
Spikey:  (also looking over the chasm's edge, next to Bosco)  Ow,
  that's hot.
Sparkey:  Don't fall.
Mongo:  Looks like it's about thirty feet or so down.
Yod:  Judging by the marks on the fissure's sides, I'd say the lava
  used to be higher, like up to the floor where we're standing now.
  It probably dropped like this over a matter of many years.
Gorin:  Well, obviously someone's been here before, since they left
  a bridge.  Dwarves?
Yod:  Yeah.  (crosses the bridge, surprising even Bosco, who was a
  bit leery of the untested iron construction)
Bosco:  Careful over there...
Yod:  I know what I'm doing.  (he points at some strange devices,
  not unlike those seen in the last room)  Fire-power.  They were
  harnessing the power of the molten lava, and using it to drive
  motors and cranks.
Spikey:  No way.
Sparkey:  Sure, it could happen.
Yod:  Could, and did.  I bet they also had some steam-boxes here,
  somewhere.
Mongo:  What's a steam-box?
Yod:  It uses fire and water - both naturally occurring, ideally -
  to generate power.
Gorin:  (spots a narrow shaft in the cavern's ceiling)  Hmm.
Yod:  That would be the chimney.  It vents heat and gas upwards,
  to the higher levels.  We've actually tapped into it, up there.
Gorin:  You have?
Spikey:  Yep.  It goes into the kitchen.
Sparkey:  Now we know where all that heat comes from.
Gorin:  (somewhat amazed by all of this)  You mean to say that all
  this time, you've had a direct hole down to these Deeps...and
  never bothered to check it out?
Yod:  Well, you have to understand that way up there, this "hole" is
  only a half-foot square chimney.  Even Bosco couldn't slither up
  through it.
Bosco:  Hey-
Gorin:  Hmph.
Yod:  Hell, the underground rivers whose water we use come from
  parts unknown.  (he shrugs)  The mountain provides for us.  Who's
  to question?
Mongo:  Really.
Yod:  For all we know, there's a gigantic glacier somewhere under the
  whole mountain, which melts in places, creating the rivers that flow
  through Thunderdelve.
Mongo:  Could be anything in these levels, eh?
Yod:  Yeah.
Spikey:  A connection to the Bottomless Stair, maybe.
Sparkey:  Or the bottom of some of our wells, upstairs.
Bosco:  (eyeing the lava-filled chasm)  You'd better hope this stuff
  never erupts or anything...
Yod:  Not likely.  (seeing no exits from this chamber, he turns)  I
  think we should get back to the main passage, and check out that
  other, eastward passage.
Mongo:  Agreed.

  They did so, and were soon marching single-file through the narrow
tunnel.  About fifty feet (and two right-angle turns) later, they
arrived at a door marked "Armory", also in dwarven runes.

Bosco:  Weapons?  (he checks the door for traps)
Yod:  An ancient armory?  This could be good.
Mongo:  (realizes that he's already got the best weapons and armor
  he could possibly want)  Yeah...

  Shortly, Bosco had the door open (this one had been locked) and
the explorers were in the armory.  It was a medium-sized chamber,
perhaps forty feet by twenty; all of the walls were lined with
steel-and-wood racks, filled with weapons and armor of all kinds.
Axes...hammers...swords...spears...shields...plate mail...chain
mail...all were present, and in all makes and conditions.

Yod:  Well, not all kinds - it's all dwarven-made.
Bosco:  Gee, I guess this means I won't be getting my new armor
  today.
Yod:  Nope.  Maybe we can find you a real weapon, though.  That
  tiny sword you use won't ever hold up in mass battles.
Bosco:  So what?  I don't go to mass battles.
Spikey:  (looking around in awe)  Whoa.
Sparkey:  Wow.
Mongo:  (picks up an ancient battleaxe)  You can almost feel the
  power in this room...
Gorin:  Yeah, I got that impression too.  You don't suppose many
  of these weapons are magical?
Mongo:  Nah.
Yod:  Actually, I'd bet most of them are.  And the shields too.
  I'm not sure what this room's called, or which generation of
  Thunderdelve dwarves built and stocked it.  But I do know that
  the dwarves, in their more prosperous days, used to fashion
  large numbers of magical armaments, and secrete them away in
  armories like this.
Spikey:  Neat.
Sparkey:  Talk about planning ahead.
Yod:  Yeah, well, their war never came, maybe.  Anyhow, the stuff
  in this room will go a long way toward Thunderdelve's defenses.
Mongo:  Glad to hear it.
Bosco:  (picks up a pair of slender throwing daggers)  Whoa.  These
  have perfect balance...(he stashes them in his belt)
Mongo:  Bosco-
Yod:  (claps Mongo on the shoulder)  It's okay.  We've got more than
  enough here to go around.  If you see something you want, feel free
  to take it.
Mongo:  But Bosco-
Yod:  -can only carry so much.  It's fine.  Really.
Bosco:  (smirks)
Gorin:  (picks up a medium-sized shield that catches his eye)  Hmm.
Mongo:  Bah.  I don't need to take any of Thunderdelve's weaponry.
Spikey:  (to Sparkey)  Guess we'll settle up with the boss later.
Sparkey:  Yeah.  I might need a new shield, after that last battle.
Yod:  (inspecting a suit of plate mail, lovingly)  Such wondrous
  craftsmanship...they just don't make 'em like they used to!
Mongo:  Nope.
Bosco:  (spies something behind a rack of spears)  What's this, now?
Gorin:  (testing the balance of the shield he picked up)  I might
  just take this one.
Yod:  It looks like a good one, surely magical.
Spikey:  (watching Bosco)
Sparkey:  (watching Spikey watch Bosco)
Bosco:  (suddenly disappears into the wall)
Spikey:  ...!
Sparkey:  What the hell?!?
Mongo:  (turns)  Huh?  Where's Bosco?
Spikey:  Gone!  (he examines the wall/rack where Bosco was just
  kneeling)
Sparkey:  He just disappeared!
Yod:  Impossible.  Nobody just disappears.  Not even Bosco.  (he
  walks over, examining the spear-rack)  This rack...it conceals a
  door.
Mongo:  Yeah, I just figured that out too.  (he grabs the rack and
  gives it a good tug)

  The rack moved away from the wall, revealing a narrow stairway
leading down into the darkness.  From somewhere down the winding
steps, out of sight, they heard Bosco yelp.

Gorin:  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  Let's go after him!  (pushing Yod aside, he charges down the
  stairs, hammer held before him)
Yod:  You heard him - let's go!

  They barreled down the stairs, emerging into a large hall with a
thirty-foot high ceiling.  Various statues, depicting regal dwarves,
lined the walls.  Bosco was standing with his back to his friends,
facing a monstrous statue or golem of some kind.  Fully fifteen feet
in height, the construct had four arms, each bearing a gigantic and
fearsome weapon.  Thick metal plates that resembled armor covered
most of its stony body.
  The thing, whatever it was, loomed over Bosco, arms flexing and
twitching.

Bosco:  Come on!  Come and get me!
golem:  (lumbers toward the halfling)
Bosco:  (dashes between its legs, avoiding an axe- and a hammer-
  blow, both of which shake the floor as they smash into it; he
  stabs upward as he runs under the golem)
golem:  (ignoring the blow, which bounces off an armored plate, it
  turns to follow Bosco, then turns back to face the five newly-
  arrived intruders)
Bosco:  Hey, it's you guys!
Yod:  What have you done, Bosco?
Bosco:  Who, me?  Nothing!  I just showed up here, and this thing
  stood up and attacked me!
Mongo:  Well, we'll attack it back!  (hurls his hammer at the golem
  as it charges)
golem:  (recoils as the hammer hits its chest; the ring of metal
  on metal fills the hall, nearly deafening everyone within)
Mongo:  Hit that thing hard, and hit it fast!  It moves faster than
  any golem I've ever seen!  (he catches his hammer as he runs about)
Yod:  Careful, though!  One wrong move and you're a smear on the
  floor!  (he hefts his axe and charges)

  They circled the huge foe, but it quickly brought all of its arms
to bear...

  Yod charged in, slashing at the thing's leg; it blocked his axe-
blow with a sword, before a hammer-bearing hand smacked him in the
side.  The dwarf-king flew back, bleeding and bruised, and the golem
didn't miss a beat, striking out with its other two arms as Gorin
and Spikey moved in.  Gorin took the blow on his shield, and then
staggered in pain, his counterattack nicking the foe's knee harm-
lessly.  Spikey managed to avoid the sweeping mace that whizzed by,
but his sword bounced off the foe's skin.  Sparkey's double attack
also did little or no damage, the axe and dagger barely scraping the
golem's armored body.  Mongo hurled his hammer at the thing's head,
and its sword-arm was a bit too slow to block the attack; the golem
staggered with the sheer power of the attack.

Yod:  (moves in, swinging his axe wildly)
Gorin:  (ditto, but from the opposite direction)
Spikey:  (flanks Yod from the left)
Sparkey:  (flanks Yod from the right)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  That's it!  All at once!  (he charges
  too)

  The golem-thing moved its arms in a flurry of motion, and all four
of the nearest attackers were knocked back, bleeding and dazed, in a
mere instant!

Yod:  Ungh.
Gorin:  Argh.
Spikey:  Ow...(passes in and out of consciousness)
Sparkey:  Ungh.
Mongo:  (now facing the golem alone)  Uh-oh.
Bosco:  (sails in from above, stabbing at the foe's head)
golem:  (practically ignores the blow, and swats at Bosco with two
  arms)
Bosco:  (clipped by the hammer-arm, he flies backwards)  Aaaa...
Mongo:  Shit!  (with all his might, he bashes the golem in the groin)
golem:  (stunned, but not as much as expected; it turns to face Mongo
  once more)
Mongo:  Uh-
golem:  (lashes out, driving the dwarf back with a double blow)
Mongo:  Argh!  (he hits the floor, twenty feet back)

  The adventurers were in fairly bad shape; Spikey and Sparkey were
both lying on the floor, dazed; Gorin was staggering to his feet,
but appeared badly wounded.  Bosco was leaning against a nearby wall,
nursing his arm and side.  Mongo and Yod, though injured, were both
on their feet; the latter's armor bore several new dents, and blood
dotted his body in several places.  Mongo's armor was still totally
undamaged; apparently it was indestructible, though the dwarf himself
surely wasn't.  He had a black eye now, and a cut on his forehead
dripped blood into his eyes.

Mongo:  (in serious pain, he wipes the blood from his face)  Shit!
Yod:  (spits out blood)  Damn!  Edged weapons aren't hurting this
  thing!
Mongo:  Hell, mine isn't doing that much more!
Yod:  Maybe it's time to cheat...(he points his axe-head at the huge
  golem's back)  Take this!

  A mighty bolt of lightning issued forth from the axe, catching the
metal foe squarely in the back.  It staggered, falling to its knees
with the force of the attack.

Mongo:  Now!  (he and Yod charge together, their weapons smashing
  into the weakened golem)
golem:  (staggers...then lashes out, knocking both warriors back)
Yod:  Argh!  (lands, trembling with pain)
Mongo:  (crashes into a wall, then lands on his face)  Ungh...
golem:  (stands up, shakily, its weapons raised as it begins walking
  toward the fallen dwarves)
Bosco:  (inspired by some idea)  Hey!

  Bosco seized the opportunity and moved in above the golem, wobbling
as he flew; the halfling was carrying something small and shiny.

Bosco:  Maybe this'll work...(he opens his little tin box, the one he
  found in the Suel city with Ged et al.)
golem:  (looks up)
Bosco:  (turns the box over, releasing the small electricity-ball
  within)  Chew on this, you!

  The blue-white sphere of energy was almost drawn to the golem, and
as the two made contact, there was a tremendous explosion, one that
shook the entire chamber and would have knocked everyone down, had
any of them still been standing.

Bosco:  (reels back, hitting a wall and then falling to the ground)
Mongo:  (gets to his knees, holding his hands over his ears)  Oh...
Yod:  My aching head...(he looks around)  By Clangeddin's beard!

  The golem was now just a melted pile of steel and rock, from which
tiny sparks still danced and arced.

Yod:  Bosco!  You did it!  (looks around)  Bosco?
Mongo:  There he is!  (they limp over to the halfling, cradling the
  soot-covered body with care)  Bosco!  Say something!
Bosco:  (opens his eyes)  S...something?

  They spent a while binding wounds and resting.  All were wounded
at least moderately, some worse, but none had died.

Yod:  Bosco, this should be a lesson.  Don't challenge golems all by
  yourself.
Bosco:  Ah, I knew I could take him.
Gorin:  Sure...

  After healing themselves, using potions, salves, and whatnot, they
finally had time to explore the hall around them.  It was occupied
by statues, depicting various dwarves; Mongo and Yod quickly figured
out that these were members of the dwarven pantheon of gods.

Yod:  There's Moradin...and that must be Clangeddin...
Mongo:  I hope this wasn't a holy place that we desecrated by fight-
  ing here.
Gorin:  Too late to worry about that now.
Bosco:  Who cares, anyway?  It wasn't us who started the fight!
Spikey:  I don't think many of the statues were damaged.
Sparkey:  They could use a good cleaning, though.
Yod:  (frowning)  A secret room, dedicated to all the dwarven gods.
  Hmm.
Mongo:  What?
Yod:  I recall a legend, speaking of a great hidden fortune.  It's
  rumored to be somewhere in Thunderdelve, guarded by the dwarven
  gods...(he looks up)  Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Mongo:  You bet.  Bosco...?
Bosco:  (already on the case, he begins looking for secret doors and
  the like)  Have no fear.  I, Bosco the Golem-slayer, shall find a
  secret door, if it exists.
Gorin:  (leans back against the wall)  Ow.
Yod:  Well, that's a relief.  Bosco's on the case.
Mongo:  Maybe we should all look.
Spikey:  (moves to the opposite wall, and checks for any unusual
  stonework)  I'll volunteer.
Sparkey:  Me too.  (he moves to help his brother)
Bosco:  (while searching, he notices a crude chalk drawing on the
  wall between two statues; it depicts some half-cat, half reptile
  creature with a tail)  What the...?  (he pays special attention
  to this section of wall, but there simply aren't any secret doors
  to be found, even with x-ray vision)  Weird.  (he carries on with
  his wall-inspection)

  A short while later, they gave up - there were no doors, secret,
concealed, or otherwise.  Bosco's x-ray vision didn't reveal any
false walls, either.

Mongo:  Maybe the legend was just that - a legend.
Yod:  I'd like to think not.
Bosco:  (somewhat disappointed)  Me too.
Gorin:  (thinking)  Secret treasure room...
Spikey:  What are you babbling about?
Sparkey:  Really, what?
Gorin:  Secret...which god would they have used?  Dumathoin...it's
  gotta be Dumathoin.
Mongo:  (looks up from his thoughts)  What?
Gorin:  If I was building a secret place, for dwarven treasure, and
  I put it here, I'd hide it behind the statue of the god most suited
  for such a task:  the god of Secrets.  Dumathoin!
Yod:  Holy shit, he's right!
Bosco:  (yawning)  Impossible.  I checked all the statues, and there
  isn't any hollow space behind any of them.
Mongo:  Hell, who said anything about hollow?  (he and Yod walk over
  to the statue of the great Dumathoin, god of Secrets Under the
  Mountain, and begins examining it)  Hmm.
Yod:  Try to push it, maybe...or pull it?

  Together, the two dwarves tugged and pushed at the statue...

Mongo:  Ungh...it's moving!
Yod:  Yeah!  This way...slowly...

  They slid the heavy statue out from the wall; attached to its back
side was a thick block of stone, a sort of plug that had filled the
tiny square passage behind the statue.

Yod:  Dumathoin's secret revealed!
Gorin:  That explains why Bosco's magical vision couldn't spot any-
  thing.  The stone was too thick.
Bosco:  Look!  Treasure!

  Three large chests were stashed in the end of the passage; they
quickly hauled these out, and Bosco went to work on the locks.

Bosco:  Hey, they're not locked.  Or trapped.  Now that's weird.
Yod:  Not really - consider all that we went through to get to them.
  Why use a trap after all that?
Mongo:  Hmm, good point.

  The chests were quickly laid open, revealing splendors beyond even
their wildest dreams:

chest#1:  (made of solid gold)
     hundreds of pure gold and platinum ingots
chest#2:  (made of solid platinum)
     piles and piles of gems and jewelry, all of the highest quality
   and many of rare colors (e.g. green diamond, red emerald, black
   pearl)
chest#3:  (made of solid mithril)
     various (and probably magical) items...rings, rods, potions, a
   cube, a box, a diadem, a crystal bird, and so forth



  The three chests were loaded into Mongo's portable hole (it took
both him and Yod to lift the first one down into the magical space)
and the group left the chamber.  Though they were fairly certain
that they had explored all of the level's passages and rooms, Bosco
kept looking as they walked, and didn't stop until hours later, when
they re-emerged into the Sixth Deep, exhausted yet elated, bloody
yet jubilant.

Bosco:  I think it's time for a nice, long nap...



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        3/1/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     +
+  Climate:     temperate, within the mountain                      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  Almost three weeks later, Mongo and his two companions were ready
to take their leave of Thunderdelve.  Fully rested, they had spent
the last half-month in the halls of Thunderdelve, honored guests of
Yod Ironbeard and his people.  But to all things come an end, and
it was now time for Mongo to return to Greyhawk.

Bosco:  Yeah, me too.  Peldor may need me for something.
Yod:  Peldor this, Peldor that.  Someday I'll have to meet this
  Peldor.
Mongo:  (cringing at the thought)
Gorin:  Well, feel free to come to Greyhawk anytime.  Peldor owns
  the Green Dragon Inn, and we can often be found there as well.
Spikey:  We'll be by.
Sparkey:  Have no fear.
Yod:  (shaking hands with each of the adventurers in turn)  This has
  truly been one of the greatest quests of our lives.  It was an
  honor to delve with you.
Bosco:  That's why they call us...Thunderdelvers!
Gorin:  (puts his head in his hands)
Mongo:  Well, we're off.
Yod:  You sure you've got enough supplies?
Mongo:  How could we not?  You gave us food and drink for a month!
Yod:  Oh, so I did.
Gorin:  Farewell, all.
Spikey:  Bye.
Sparkey:  Seeya, guys.
Yod:  We shall meet again...
Mongo:  Count on it.

  With that, they departed the mighty, secret-filled fortress that
was Thunderdelve Mountain, leaving behind new friends but taking
with them fond memories.  There were also, of course, the shares of
treasure that they had earned - both monetary and magical.  Besides
the significant amounts of coinage and ingots that they carried,
each adventurer had picked up a couple of magical items as well.
  Mongo had chosen a small crucible, one which magically melted any
metals put inside it.  He also took a magical kettle, which created
tasty broth from plain water.  There was also the Invulnerable Coat
which he now wore...
  Gorin had chosen a magical horn, the sort which summoned a force
of warriors to his side.  He was also the proud owner of a small but
enchanted woodworkers' knife, whose properties he had a pretty good
idea of.
  Bosco took a small statuette, a tiny figurine of a silver eagle.
In addition, he had chosen a small metal box, with the letters "ISO"
stamped on its lid; it contained a gauntlet, a boot, and a magical
eye-lens.

  Bearing these wondrous prizes, the trio began the long journey
back to Greyhawk.





next:   someone else's adventures
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  I'm happy to recommend to you not one, but TWO new movies.
  _Mortal Kombat_ was everything I expected, and a bit more.  _The
  Usual Suspects_ was unlike anything I expected, and it's really
  as good as critics say it is.
    Sorry it took so long to write these final Mongo episodes...
  Look at the bright side - they averaged about 23K apiece.  Any-
  way, now that's over with, and I'm going to give you what I'm
  pretty sure you want:  Belphanior!  Mongo and company may be
  entertaining (even Bosco) but I haven't forgotten who the most
  popular Adventurer is.
    However, it wouldn't be right to go on to Belphanior without
  first taking care of some loose ends.  More than three years ago,
  you were privy to the origins of the then-current Adventurers.
  Now, though, the group has grown, and many new characters have
  been added...without any hint of where they came from, or how
  they grew up to be the people they did.  So, without further ado,
  I proudly present the origins of Gorin and Bosco.

>-

Gorin

  Gorin the dwarf was born and raised in Helmgate, a small city
within the Flinty Hills.  The third of five sons, he was born to
a simple dwarven woodworker and his wife.  Young Gorin led a fairly
simple and boring life, for the Flinty Hills have been peacefully
prosperous for several decades.  He was trained in the ways of
battle, as were most young dwarven males, and served on the city's
militia once he was old enough.  However, his skill at arms was
equalled, perhaps exceeded, by his mastery of woodworking.  No
chair, no table, no box was too difficult for the young Gorin to
build.  Though his brothers were all good at the craft, he was
quite simply the best, in the family, in the village, and maybe
in the kingdom.  Everything pointed toward Gorin becoming the
heir to the family business - until the giants' raiding parties
attacked Helmgate.  The entire city was suddenly thrust into a
state of war, and Gorin, like his brothers, was forced to put away
his chisels and knives and pick up his axe.
  It was during this conflict that the dwarf's destiny was changed
forever.  While fighting against the invaders, Gorin inadvertently
saved the life of Mongo Thunderhead, a dwarven warrior and hero
who had made Helmgate's fight his own.  After this, Gorin was
slain in battle, falling victim to a magical fireball.  However,
Mongo was able to bring the young warrior back to life, and did
so, in return for Gorin's earlier deed.  Newly returned to the
living, Gorin realized (or perhaps decided) that his destiny lay
elsewhere than the Flinty Hills.  He accepted Mongo's offer to
become his henchman and student, and followed him out of the hills
after the war was won.
  Since then, Gorin has seen more of the world (and even others)
than he could have possibly imagined.  Though he misses his home
and family, he is still in the process of finding his place in
life.  Gorin is relatively quiet, speaking only when there is
something to be said; in battle, he lets his axe do the talking.
In times of peace and quiet, he has been known to dabble in
woodworking, sometimes creating items of fine quality and great
value.

Note:  Gorin incorrectly gave his age as 39 in episode #148; no
  doubt this mistake was due to partial delerium from his recent
  battle wounds.  At the time, he was actually 36; he is now 38.

>-

Bosco

  Several decades ago, a young, enterprising halfling named
Frederick set out into the world to make his fortune.  Frederick
was something of a wanderer, and roamed the Flanaess, having
adventures and never staying in one place for long.  Eventually,
he met his wife-to-be in one of the many towns he visited, and
they were soon married.  The pair continued to travel, and joined
traveling carnivals and circuses, performing with them in various
lands as Frederick fathered his many sons.  This tended to keep
his wife from working in the shows, but Frederick made up the
difference, and more.  Besides his numerous performing and handy-
man skills - he was the consummate jack-of-all-trades - Frederick
was a talented thief.  He often supplemented his income with
forays into nearby cities, and despite the raggedy appearance of
their wagon and selves, Frederick's family never really wanted
for anything.  The halflings lived a simple, but fun life moving
around and seeing the world together.
  And then came Bosco, in 553 C.Y.  Last in a playful brood, he
was preceded by Rosco, Paco, Tuco, Tiko, Riko, and Spocko.  Of
all the children, in any of the carnivals to which the family
belonged during their travels, this lot was by far and away the
most mischievous.  They wandered, stole, broke things, pulled
all sorts of pranks and practical jokes - and yet, they never
really did anything _bad_.  Just like typical children...and of
the seven, Bosco was the worst.  Or best, however you look at it.
  Young Bosco was smarter than his brothers, though nobody ever
really believed it.  He was the most nimble of the lot, which
everyone believed; Bosco's early prowess at juggling, tumbling,
and even dancing was rather amazing.  For many years, Frederick
watched his seven boys prance and cavort around, wondering which
of them would ever amount to anything.  Bosco was the tiny terror
of the lot, always seeming to get into the most mischief.  Often,
he convinced or tricked his brothers into following his schemes.
Despite being the youngest and smallest, he constantly strove to
prove his worth among his older brothers.  His father may have
sensed some spark of potential in the lad, but it was probably
hard to tell.
  Frederick and family settled down in Havenhill, in 562 C.Y.
when the halfling and his wife were wealthy enough (from saving
their illicitly-gained monies over the years) to stop traveling
and build a home.  Thus it was that Bosco was introduced to the
city life, and in Havenhill he was able to hone and refine his
skills to a good extent.  Frederick, who was getting old by this
time, realized that his sons would almost certainly follow in his
own footsteps, at least as far as wanderlust was concerned.  Thus,
he encouraged the boys to do what they wished with their lives,
and helped them in any way he could.  When Bosco met Peldor in
570 C.Y. and decided to leave Ulek and see the world, Frederick
was proud of his youngest son, and sent him on his way with a
blessing (and a sigh of relief from his mother.)

Note:  The recent scene in the magical mirror, in which Bosco
  was crouching naked under a table, was from a childhood
  experience, in which the halfling, still a child, was left
  alone in the bathtub.  Being hungry, he snuck away into the
  kitchen and got into the cookie jar.  When his mother came
  looking for him, he took shelter in the nearest safe haven -
  under the kitchen table.  After being discovered, due to the
  mixed trail of water and crumbs, he proceeded to flee his
  pursuing mother, escaping the bath house and running right
  through the center ring of the Barney and Bailum circus -
  much to the delight of the crowd.

>-

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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