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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 +
+ email@example.com +
+ Belphanior 13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN) +
+ Otto 6th/8th level dwarven warrior/thief (CN) +
+ Date: 1/27/575 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: late afternoon +
+ Place: the Cairn Hills +
+ Climate: cold +
+ "Come quietly or there will be...trouble." +
+ - Robocop +
After a successful journey into the lost cairn-tomb of the wizard
Kronos, Belphanior and Otto are returning to the surface, complete
with the wondrous treasures they have found.
Otto: I'm glad we didn't forget that magical basin. No telling
what it might-
Belphanior: (holding up a hand)
Otto: (draws his sword)
Belphanior: (crouches low, and begins creeping up the stairs, the
final set of stairs leading to the afternoon sky above)
The thieves silently, cautiously made their way up, and within
moments, they could see, and hear, people outside the cairn's door.
voice: Dammit, we've been here for hours! How much longer will we
have to wait?
other voice: Who knows?
Otto: (shrugs, a "what now?" look on his bearded face)
Belphanior: (produces a wand, its butt dyed red)
Outside, Torin and crew were camped out, waiting for Belphanior
to emerge from the cairn.
Torin: (talking privately with his second-in-command, Roland) I
think we'll be ready for him.
Roland: But how can we hope to surprise him, with guards sitting
right at the cairn's entrance?
Torin: We don't _need_ to surprise him. If he tries to cut his
way out, those guards are the first line of our defense. Or
offense, if you will.
Roland: What if he kills them?
Torin: Dying for a great cause such as ours is an honor above any
guard at cairn entrance: Lord Torin! I've spotted someone!
Torin: (dashes over to the door) You're sure?
guard: Yes, milord. Down those stairs.
Torin: (yells down the stairs, in a strong, proud voice) You down
there! Your misdeeds are well-known to us, and we shall see that
justice is done! Surrender now, and I will be merciful, and quick.
In answer, a crossbow bolt whizzed up from the dark stairway,
missing Torin's helmeted head by inches.
Torin: The foul ones strike! Back away! (he leaps back and to
one side, as everyone else scrambles away)
guard: What's that glow-
Suddenly, the ground shook, as a fiery blast spewed forth from
within the cairn! Those standing nearby were incinerated, and the
others could feel the heat, some coming away with singed eyebrows
or beards. The smoke and steam slowly cleared...
Belphanior: (standing in the smoking doorway)
Torin: (spots the elf) Look there - the rogue himself! To arms,
soldiers! Get that vile cretin!
Roland: (leads several soldiers toward the elf) Surrender, scum!
Belphanior: Me? Scum? You must have me confused with someone else.
Roland: Not likely. (to his fellow soldiers) You know the plan.
Belphanior: Eh? I didn't quite catch that.
Lorax: (out of Belphanior's line of sight, spellcasting)
Sprague: (to Torin) Shall I blast the dolt with holy power?
Torin: No. Let the wizards work their magic.
Sprague: (sighs impatiently)
Weasel: (with Roland, as are Kobay, Korrid, and four of the
soldiers) So you're the notorious Belphanior.
Belphanior: That's the rumor.
Torin: (yelling in a loud, commanding voice) NOW!
Roland et al: (duck or move aside)
Lorax: (lets his magic fly)
A gigantic bolt of lightning sprung from the old mage's hand,
streaking toward the elf.
Belphanior: Uh-oh. Am I still carrying that lightning rod?
The bolt took him squarely in the chest, knocking him back into
the cairn with a loud CRACK and a burning smell.
Lorax: Hah! See, that's how it's done, sonny!
Zardoz: Bah. A trivial spell, that.
Lorax: Well, my "trivial" spell just completed our quest for us.
Roland: That's what we're going down to prove. (he glances at
Torin: Right you are. Take the point - the wizards and Sprague and
I shall form the second wave.
Roland: Err, right. (he leads his group toward the still-smoking
Weasel: (counting charred bodies, the soldiers fried by Belphanior's
Redfoot: (points to a smoking heap off to one side) Four.
Weasel: Yeah. Four. (yells back to Torin) Four dead, from the
Torin: Check. Move out - and watch out for the dwarf. He may be
down there as well.
Entering the fell cairn, the band slowly descended the steps,
alert for any sign of Belphanior, alive or otherwise. A pair of
soldiers preceded Roland, and the wizard Zardoz stood at his side.
The young mage bore a staff with a blazing magical light to show
the way. Next was the thief, Weasel, who kept muttering curses to
himself as they descended. Behind them marched the tracker, Red-
foot, and the elven archer Kobay. The tattooed monk, Korrid,
brought up the rear, along with another soldier bearing a torch.
The remaining two soldiers, as well as the mage Lorax, the high
priest Sprague, the bard Skell, and the human warrior/mage Warrax,
remained outside the cairn, with Torin.
As Roland's party descended, they spotted a weird hole at the
foot of the stairs. The glowing violet depression didn't take up
the whole corridor, not by a long shot, but it was fairly large,
maybe eight feet wide. They stopped upon sighting the thing.
Zardoz: Some magical space...perhaps a portable hole?
Roland: We have to pass by it.
Zardoz: I'll have a look. If anyone will know what it is, it's
me. (he ventures forth, Weasel and two soldiers flanking him)
Roland: Be careful.
Weasel: Don't worry.
They reached the bottom of the stairs, and the young mage bent
down to examine the odd purple hole.
Zardoz: This is highly unusual. It's almost like...
Just then, something dropped from the ceiling behind the mage
and his two guards. Without warning, all three were suddenly
pushed into the purple hole!
Zardoz: (teeters, then scrabbles for a handhold as he falls)
Belphanior: (turns visible) That's _not_ a portable hole guys.
It's a well of many worlds.
Belphanior: Of course.
Roland: Men! Get him!
As Weasel, Redfoot, and Korrid moved in to flank the elf, Roland
dashed to the purple hole, where the young mage Zardoz was slowly
sliding into the hole despite his desperate scrambling attempts to
hang on. The lieutenant figured that, had the mage not been skinny
as a rail, he would have fallen in already.
Roland: Hang on! I've got you! (he grabs the mage's arm)
Zardoz: (sweating and terrified) Okay!
Roland: (begins hauling the skinny man up)
Roland: (pulling hard, he flies back, Zardoz' upper half coming with
him as blood sprays everywhere) By the gods!
From the ragged marks on the mage's torso, it appeared that he had
been bitten in half!
Belphanior: (retreating deeper into the cairn past the magical hole
to gain more manuevering room) That's the thing about a well of
many worlds - you never know _what_ you'll get.
Roland: (backs away from the bloodstained, purple hole, terrified)
Belphanior: (facing the three foes who now have him surrounded) Who
Kobay: None of them. (he fires an arrow, hitting Belphanior, but
the missile bounces off the elf's chest) Huh? That was one of my
finest enchanted arrows!
Weasel: Ever heard of stoneskin?
Kobay: Aye. (nocks another magical arrow) But it won't protect him
Otto: (appears behind the archer) It won't have to. (he stabs the
fellow in the neck)
Kobay: Aie! (falls to his knees, bleeding badly, as poison courses
through his veins)
Roland: What?!? How?!?
Otto: (smirks) Wouldn't you like to know?
Roland: Get him! Now!
remaining soldier: (charges up the steps at Otto, his heavy warhammer
swinging) You're mine, dwarf!
Otto: Come on, then. (he waves his swortsword)
Belphanior: (parries a blow from Weasel, then somehow ducks a swing
from Redfoot's blade)
Redfoot: Pretty fast.
Belphanior: Yep. (he slashes at Weasel, catching him in the chest
Weasel: (saved from certain doom by his fine chain mail, he still
staggers back, sagging against the wall) Argh...
Redfoot: (stabs at Belphanior another time)
Belphanior: (takes a slice on his side, but is protected by his
stoneskin spell) Whoa!
Redfoot: You're fast, but I'm faster.
Belphanior: A lot of people have said that. (he blocks a halberd
blow from Korrid, though he is driven back against a wall in the
Redfoot: A lot? What happened to them?
Belphanior: (locks swords with the tracker, then kicks outward)
They're all dead and buried!
Redfoot: (knocked back a few feet by the surprise attack) Oof!
Korrid: (moves in, ornate halberd slashing at the elf)
Belphanior: (nailed in the chest, he is saved yet again by his
soldier: (bashes Otto with his hammer, a mighty blow which bruises
some ribs) Gotcha!
Otto: Ungh! (he backhands the soldier with his sword, catching the
man's small shield)
soldier: Missed me! (he swings his warhammer again, missing Otto
by inches and chipping the ancient wall)
Otto: (charges forward, sword-first)
soldier: (taken by surprise due to the dwarf's uncanny quickness,
he is run through) Glurg!
Otto: (kicks the soldier back, off his blade)
soldier: (dying, he tumbles down the stairs, right into Roland, who
was coming up to help)
Roland: Ungh. (knocked back several steps)
soldier's corpse: (hits the bottom of the stairs and rolls right
into the purple hole/well, vanishes)
Otto: (sheathes his sword, and calmly begins loading his crossbow)
A short distance below, past the bottom of the stairs...
Korrid: (slashes Belphanior in the leg, finally breaking his stone-
skin and wounding him) At last. And if you can be wounded, you
Belphanior: Where did Torin pick you guys up? (he slashes outward,
but the monk dodges the swing)
Korrid: The great Torin saved my life, long ago, and thus I follow
him, for I am indebted to him.
Belphanior: Too bad for you.
Korrid: I think not. (he stabs at the elf, surely a killing blow)
Belphanior: (catches Korrid's pike with one hand, and holds the
long, ornate weapon fast)
Korrid: (trying and failing to free his halberd) Ungh.
Belphanior: (with his free left hand, he buries his sword's edge
in the monk's head) Hah!
Korrid: <thunk> (he sinks to his knees, dead)
Belphanior: (sucks in the life energy, sword glowing and humming)
Ahhh...(all of his wounds close)
Korrid: (hits the floor)
Belphanior: (frees his sword with one mighty tug, and steps forth
to face Redfoot)
Redfoot: Amazing. I always thought the monk to be faster than me.
Belphanior: If that's true, pal, you're in for a world of hurt.
The two began a dizzying, flashing duel of swords, one that most
so-called swordsmen would have had trouble following. However, as
quickly as it commenced, the swordfight ended, as Belphanior ignored
a deep stabbing wound to the arm and lopped off his foe's head.
Belphanior: Ahhh...(he pulls Redfoot's sword out of his bicep, even
as the wound closes)
Redfoot: (his body and head fall to the floor, separately)
Belphanior: (looking around, he sees only Roland)
Roland: (surveying the situation) How can this be?
Belphanior: Overconfidence. Inexperience. Inferiority. Take your
Roland: (hefts his battleaxe) I'm not afraid of you, evildoer.
Belphanior: You should be.
Weasel: (getting to his feet, blood dripping from beneath his chain
mail, where perhaps Belphanior's sword did cut deeply after all)
Ungh...(he looks at Roland and Belphanior, then up)
Otto: (down on the floor level now, he has his crossbow trained on
the human thief)
Weasel: (freezes in place)
Otto: (eyes widen) Say, don't I know you from somewhere?
Weasel: (frowning) I don't...maybe...wait! The fiasco at Yargan!
Otto: That was you?!?
Weasel: None other.
Otto: It seems that we have something in common, then. (he points
at the stairs with his loaded crossbow) Aren't you going to run
Otto: (fires the bolt, which sticks in the wall a foot to the left
of Weasel's head)
Weasel: (stares at the bolt, wide-eyed)
Otto: Damn, I missed! (muttering as he reloads his crossbow) I
Weasel: (darts up the stairs, taking them three at a time)
Meanwhile, Roland and Belphanior were going head-to-head, the
human's axe swinging and sweeping in mighty blows, while the elf's
slender sword flashed and stabbed with less power, but equally
Belphanior: (parries an axe-blow) Aren't you a little young to be
throwing your life away down here?
Roland: (proudly) I follow Torin, whose goals and ideals are worth
fighting for! (he chops at the elf, nicking his right forearm)
Belphanior: Ow. But are they worth dying for?
Roland: Give it up, foul one! (he chops at Belphanior, nicking him
on one leg)
Belphanior: (slashes at his foe, missing his neck by inches) What
gives you the right to judge me?
Roland: Ask Torin! (he presses his attack, but his axe-head falls
a foot short of the dodging elf)
Belphanior: I will. (he stabs Roland, inflicting a shallow wound
to the man's shoulder) After I finish you.
Roland: Argh! (his backhand knocks his foe back) Take that!
Belphanior: (staring at the fairly deep gash in his chest) Argh!
Roland: Hah! I'll beat you yet!
Belphanior: (stumbles, slashing wildly as he does so)
Roland: (parries the blow with ease, and then hacks with a mighty
Belphanior: (rolls aside, then stabs upward, piercing clean through
his foe's leg)
Belphanior: (yanks his bloody sword free, then punches Roland in
Roland: (knocked back into a wall) Ungh!
Belphanior: (slashes at the warrior, a killing blow)
Roland: (blocks the blow at the last possible instant, grunting in
Belphanior: (clearly surprised) Wha-
Roland: (knees his opponent in the stomach, then kicks him back)
Belphanior: (staggers back, dripping blood from numerous wounds)
You won't win this fight!
Roland: Yes, I will! Might and right are on my side! (he chops
at Belphanior, catching him right in the chest - by all rights,
a lethal blow)
Belphanior: ARGH! (he drives his sword into the other's neck)
Roland: GHURK! (reels, then collapses to his knees, dying)
Belphanior: Ahhhhh...(almost all of his wounds close up entirely)
Hmm. (he regards the corpse of Roland) It's almost sad, a man
that young...dying for such an idiotic cause. Torin should die
just for this alone.
Otto: (walks up) You okay?
Belphanior: Yeah. Where's the other one?
Otto: Got away.
Belphanior: (confused) Why?
Otto: (shrugs) Every once in a while, I miss. He bolted rather
than attack me. I know him, from long ago, you see.
Belphanior: Oh. (frowns) Shit. What if he tells Torin something
Otto: He won't. I don't know what Weasel's doing in Torin's little
party, but he's no saint. I don't think we'll be seeing him again
Belphanior: A friend, eh?
Otto: No, not strictly speaking. Makes you think, though: what
would you do if you found yourself facing one of your friends?
Belphanior: Hmm, good question.
Otto: Trust me on this one.
Belphanior: We'd better collect the stuff, here. (he carefully
closes and takes the well of many worlds, as well as those foes'
weapons which are magical)
Weasel: (leaps out of the cairn) Hold your fire! It's me!
Torin: Weasel! Where are Roland and the others?!?
Weasel: Dead...all dead.
Torin: It- it cannot be!
Weasel: Traps...cunning...the dwarf...and that cursed elf!
Torin: What about him?
Weasel: He fights like one possessed! No blows seem to stop him!
(he collapses, painfully)
Lorax: You're bleeding.
Weasel: I got lucky to just bleed this much.
Skell: This is a sad day in the annals of Torin the Crusader.
Warrax: Someone must pay for these foul deeds.
Torin: Oh, they will. They will! (to Weasel) Is there any chance
that some of our men yet live, down in that cairn?
Weasel: No way.
Torin: All right, then. (to Lorax) I want you to send something
down there...gas, maybe. Indeed. How about poison gas?
Lorax: Can do.
Torin: Good. Commence.
Lorax: (begins spellcasting)
Torin: Everyone, to the cairn's entrance. Flank it on either side
but _stand clear_.
Lorax: (stands directly before the tomb's door)
Shortly, the old elf finished his spell, and a billowing cloud of
yellowish-green gas issued forth, into the cairn.
Weasel: (his chest wound being bound by one of the soldiers) Won't
that cloud come back out here, at us?
Lorax: No. It must move away from me.
Sprague: (spellcasting) Besides, the little breath of wind that
I'm now creating will ensure that it goes in the right direction.
All the bugs down there will be gassed to death.
Torin: Such is the fate they deserve, for their dark deeds.
The yellowish-green gas disappeared into the cairn, and all was
soldier: I don't hear anybody coughing.
Lorax: The gas is too deadly for that. They'll be dead by now.
Torin: We can't be sure until we go down there.
Weasel: Down there?
Lorax: What, are you afraid?
Weasel: (somewhat hysterical) Why not just stay up here, where we
can't be ambushed?
Torin: Because the evil ones must be brought to justice. At any
Weasel: You want to die too? Use fireballs! Lightning bolts!
Anything's safer than going down there into that-
Torin: Fear not, I shall lead the way personally, this time.
Weasel: -deathtrap! The...huh?
Torin: I said, I'll go down.
Weasel: Good idea, man. You should go!
soldier: (pats Weasel on the back)
Lorax: We'd better wait awhile. The gas should start to dissipate
shortly, but it might be an hour before it's safe for us to go
Torin: Aye, we wait then.
Well over an hour later, they finally made ready to descend into
the cairn. A feeling of uneasiness pervaded everyone, for even if
the elf and his companion were dead, nine of their companions, who
had been living earlier this day, now lay dead within the cairn.
Torin: (leading the way, followed by the two remaining soldiers,
then Sprague, then Warrax, then Lorax, then Skell, with Weasel
bringing up the rear) Onward, Crusaders.
soldier: Watch for traps, my lord.
other soldier: No telling what's down there.
Sprague: My spell will show us any traps that might lie in wait.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, they found a slaughterhouse:
bodies, and parts of bodies, were scattered everywhere.
Torin: (cradling Roland's dead body in his arms) Roland...
soldier: (examining the other bodies) Hey, none of these is the
elf, or the dwarf.
other soldier: (gagging) By the gods. Look what those bastards
did to Zardoz!
Torin: I want you to bring Roland back from the dead.
Sprague: Err...very well. (he begins preparing the spell)
Warrax: Some of our company are missing from this graveyard.
Lorax: Magic, perhaps.
Skell: (wondering how he'll work the absent bodies into his tale
of woe) Hmm.
Weasel: (wondering where Belphanior and Otto went) Hmm. (he
suddenly wonders just what the hell he's doing here) Aie. (to
Skell) I hear the horses whinnying.
Skell: (cocks an ear) That's odd, I don't.
Weasel: Well, that's why I'm the scout. I'm gonna run up there and
check on them. I'll be right back.
Skell: Okay. (he returns to his musings)
Weasel: (quietly pads back up the stairs)
Sprague: (casting his spell) He'll need to rest, of course. (he
looks at the body, examining it) Hmm, that's odd.
Torin: Eh? What?
Sprague: The body's not...By Trithereon!
Sprague: Roland's body has no _soul_!
Torin: No soul?
Sprague: I know it sounds strange, but his soul's not answering the
holy call. It's gone!
Sprague: Meaning, he can't be brought back from the dead. Not now,
Torin: Damn! Are you certain?
Sprague: Positive. Whatever the elf and dwarf did to Roland, they
made him unrecoverable.
Torin: Argh! (he shakes his fists in the air) They shall DIE for
this! (he stands, his glowing sword brandished) Men! To me!
Torin: We shall find the fiends NOW! (he marches toward the next
others: (following, some frightened, some confused...but all of
They went through a couple of rooms and passages, including a
secret door, which was ajar, and entered an old laboratory. The
adjacent room appeared to be a bedchamber of some sort; fresh, red
drops of blood littered the far corner of this room. Torin's six
companions (Weasel was still missing) followed him, examining the
bedchamber thoroughly as they sought their quarry.
Torin: The miscreants have been here!
Sprague: But where the hell did they go?
voice: Right here.
Standing in the doorway of the bedchamber - between the seven
Crusaders and the exit - was a tall, red-cloaked elf, his long
arms folded before him.
Torin: You! Belphanior!
Belphanior: And you must be Torin. (his eye glows, very brightly)
I'm _so_ pleased to finally make your acquaintance.
Torin: Do not mock me, villain! You have much to account for!
Belphanior: Well, then, start accounting. (he pats his sheathed
Torin: (holding his sword before him; the weapon glows brightly
with harnessed power) You...will...die!
Belphanior: Not today. (he grabs a black metal trumpet which
hangs from his belt, bringing it to his mouth in a single fluid
Torin: Eh? What are you doing?
Belphanior: (winds the horn)
An amazing thing happened then: from the dust of the stony floor
there appeared a number of shadowy figures. Four skeletons, four
zombies, three ghouls, three wights, a wraith, a mummy, a spectre -
all of these came into existence, between Belphanior's trumpet and
the seven Crusaders.
Torin: Eh? (hears a rustling sound to one side, and turns to see
what it is)
mummified body on bed: (sits up; its head slowly scans the chamber)
Belphanior: (raises an eyebrow)
Torin: (yelling at Belphanior) You don't think you're going to get
away with this?!?
Belphanior: I _am_ getting away with it. (turns, and heads for the
cairn's exit as the undead, to whom Belphanior is invisible, close
in on Torin and the remainder of his Crusaders)
When Belphanior emerged from the cairn, Otto was again at his side,
and they walked out into the fading day, in fairly good spirits. Of
Weasel, there was no sign, though the others' horses, as well as their
own, were still tied securely nearby.
Otto: I bet they're wondering how we pulled that one off.
Belphanior: Maybe, maybe not. I'm thinking they've got other things
on their mind right now. (he cocks an ear, hearing the sounds of
pitched battle from within the cairn)
Otto: Heh. (they untie their horses from a rock, look at each other
for a moment, then take all of Torin's crew's mounts as well) We're
gonna have fresh horses for a long while. Whither bound?
Belphanior: Let's go east. I haven't been through Urnst in decades.
Otto: Urnst it is.
They rode off into the hills, toward the next adventure, wherever
it might lie.
next: a change of scenery
ftp: ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes: For those who care, this story was written while I watched
the Orioles-Angels game, September 6, 1995. This was, of course,
when Cal Ripken played in game #2131, breaking Lou Gehrig's record
for consecutive games played. About the time that Belphanior was
finishing off Roland, I took a break to watch the mid-game hoopla
and celebration. It was great, the first of many historic events
I hope to witness during my lifetime.
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