Chapter #368

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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 1991-6 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.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY (or a fraction of it, anyway):                         +
+                                                                   +
+  Arnold         12th level human barbarian                   (NG) +
+  Ged            14th/14th level grey elven priest/wizard     (NG) +
+  Mongo          17th level dwarven fighter                   (CG) +
+    Gorin         9th level dwarven fighter                   (NG) +
+                                                                   +
+                                                                   +
+  SPECIAL GUEST STARS:                                             +
+                                                                   +
+  Drexel         human paladin                                (LG) +
+  Eyer           wood elven fighter/acrobat                   (NG) +
+    Baltek       high elven archer                            (NG) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        2/2/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the dungeons beneath Maure Castle                   +
+  Climate:     dry and musty                                       +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "The best cure for boredom is a swift kick in the ass."          +
+                                                       - unknown   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





              CCCLXVIII.  The Onset of Peril





  After some explorations, the party has headed southward, seeking
adventure in the other half of the gigantic open room.


            out
            | |     __._____._____._____._____._____.__
            | |    |                                   |
     / \    | |    |                                   |
     \./    | |    |                                   |____________
     | |    | |    |                                                |
     | |    | |    |                                                |
     / /    | |    |               _____                            |
   / /      | |    |             /       \                          |
 / /        | |    |           /    / \    \                        |
| |         | |    |           \    \ /    /                        |
| |_________...____|             \ _____ /                          |
|  ____                                                             |
| |____|____   __________                                           |
|____  |    | |          |                                          |
|    { |    |.|          |                                          |
|____| |__ /   \ ________|                                          |
     |____{     {_______._____._____..__   __._____._____.__        |
      _    \_._/                        | |                 |       |
   __|.|____| |            N              |                         |
  |___________|          W + E
                           S
                                     ...   double entry doors
                                     . }   doors
                                      ..   double doors


Eyer:  First we'll hit the trio of western doors, after that the ones
  on the east side.
Mongo:  Saving the open spaces for last, eh?
Eyer:  (nods)  That way, we'll know that any door leads to somewhere
  we already cleared out.
Gorin:  A good strategy.
Drexel:  (talking to Mongo as Eyer checks the door)  Say, why would
  a great warrior such as yourself resort to actually _throwing_ your
  weapon?
Mongo:  (looks confused)  Huh?
Drexel:  It's...cowardly.
Mongo:  Bullshit.  Besides, it's a _throwing_ hammer.  Its magic is
  most powerful when it's _thrown_.
Drexel:  Hmm.  I see.
Mongo:  Trust me on this.  You wave your glowing pig-sticker around,
  and I'll clean house on the enemies.
Chaosbane:  Excuse me, but I resent that remark.
Mongo:  Then show me how good you _really_ are, next fight we get
  into.
Chaosbane:  Hmph!  I shall.
Eyer:  (turns from his door-listening)  Do you mind?

  The first door was, like so many of the previous portals here,
unlocked.  Opening it, they discovered a twenty-by-thirty foot room,
with exit doors in the south and east walls.  The room was lighted
by two light spells, cast on opposite corners.  Several rugs, both
rolled-up and open, were in this chamber.

Eyer:  (doing a quick scan of the carpets)  Hmm...let's see...aha!
Ged:  (points at one rug)  Magical!
Eyer:  Yes.
Drexel:  And the others?
Eyer:  Merely valuable.  Fine carpets are a rare art form in some
  lands.
Drexel:  Oh.
Gorin:  I just use 'em to wipe my feet.  Sometimes.
Ged:  What say we load them all into Mongo's portable hole?  They're
  too heavy to carry, but too fine to leave behind.
Eyer:  (nods)

  After moving the six rugs (including the magical one) into the odd
extradimensional hole, the group moved through the eastern exit.  In
the brightly-lit room beyond sat a chubby, happy-looking old fellow,
working a spinning wheel and loom.  This chamber and everything in it
radiated magic, to those who could see.

man:  (looks up, his foot still working the wheel's pedal)  Hi!  I'm
  Arley!
Eyer:  Er...okay.
Ged:  What are you doing here, fellow?
Arley:  I'm merely a simple weaver, imprisoned here by an-
Drexel:  Evil!
Arley:  -yes, an evil wizard.  How'd you know?
Drexel:  No, I mean _you_ are evil!  (he holds his sword, which glows
  brightly)  Stand back, all!  I shall deal with this one.
Arley:  (scared)  Ulp.
Arnold:  (holds Drexel back)  Wait, he might have something useful
  to say.
Drexel:  (trying to get by Arnold)  Highly doubtful.
Ged:  (points at the weaver)  You'd better confess all, Arley, or
  there might well be trouble.
Arley:  B-but...
Mongo:  (to Eyer)  Is the paladin usually right when it comes to
  things like this?
Eyer:  Always.
Arley:  You must believe me-
Mongo:  I don't think so.  (he hurls his hammer, bashing Arley and
  knocking him back into a wall)
Arnold:  (looks stunned)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Gorin:  Hey, are you sure that-
Mongo:  (impatiently)  Look at him!

  Arley, who by all rights should have been crushed by the blow, now
stood, his form shifting and changing.  Blue skin replaced white, a
pair of horns growing from the forehead, fangs now visible in the
thing's mouth.

Ged:  An ogre mage!
Arley:  (in Common)  Impressive...no one has ever before found me
  out.
Mongo:  Don't worry, in a moment it won't ever be a problem again.
  (he hurls his hammer)
Arley:  (dissolves into gas)
Ged:  Gaseous form!
Drexel:  The fiend!
Eyer:  Quick, he's going under the south door!

  They dashed after the gaseous monster, Mongo smashing through the
heavy door with his hammer.  Arley's blue-tinged vaporous form sailed
southward, bypassing some columns as it headed for some huge curtains
of black satin.


            out
            | |     __._____._____._____._____._____.__
            | |    |                                   |
     / \    | |    |                                   |
     \./    | |    |                                   |____________
     | |    | |    |                                                |
     | |    | |    |                                                |
     / /    | |    |               _____                            |
   / /      | |    |             /       \                          |
 / /        | |    |           /    / \    \                        |
| |         | |    |           \    \ /    /                        |
| |_________| |____|             \ _____ /                          |
|  ____                                                             |
| |____|____   __________                                           |
|____  |    | |          |                                          |
|    { |    |.|          |                                          |
|____| |__ /   \ ________|                                          |
     |____{     {_______._____._____..__   __._____._____.__        |
      _    \_._/     |     }     |      | |                 |       |
   __|.|____| |      |__.__|__.__}__..__| |_________________}       |
 _|___________|                                                     |
|       #     #     #     #     #     #     #     #     #     #    #|
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|



                                     ~~~   black satin curtains
                  N                   #    columns
                W + E                ...   double entry doors
                  S                  . }   doors
                                      ..   double doors


  With a sudden burst of speed, the gaseous foe slipped between two
adjacent curtains.  Mongo's hammer pursued Arley, but didn't catch
him, instead tearing one of the gigantic curtains from its supporting
column.

Ged:  Don't throw your hammer, you'll never...Boccob!

  As it turned out, the series of huge curtains divided the northern
half of the sprawling room from an equally impressive southern half.
Here, the ceiling was vaulted, and higher - at least thirty feet.
The whole expanse was dimly lit by a purple glow, and magic radiated
from the entire area.
  Closest to the party were six carven ivory columns, spanning the
distance from floor to ceiling.  Each was sculpted into a male form:
a proud nobleman, a fierce warrior, a thoughtful scholar, a dreamy
poet, a sneering aristocrat, a lowly beggar.  The carven pillars were
poised so that they appeared to be looking in various directions.
  To the extreme left and right were twin stands, rising fifteen feet
above floor level.  Stairs at their northern ends allowed ascent to
the seats atop the stands, which were tiered to afford an unobstructed
view of the huge room's center.
  Directly ahead was a staggered, fifty-by-seventy foot throne area,
its center section fifteen feet off the floor, the side sections five
feet off the floor.  Three iron statues rested upon this raised area.
The statue to the west was a depiction of an aged wizard-type, his
long beard flowing over his worn robe.  A dagger was clutched in his
left hand, and his eyes held a dangerous, angry look.  The eastern
statue was a mighty warrior in fine, undamaged plate mail armor.  The
longsword in his right hand was pointed downward, perhaps matching
his gaze, which was also cast downward through the open visor of his
helm.
  The larger statue in the center sat upon a wide throne of grey
stone.  This statue depicted an eight-foot tall, powerfully broad
creature.  The thing, whatever it was, wore only boots, a tunic, and
a helm.  It had no hair, and its thick muscles were carven in great
and impressive detail.  It resembled a large, hairless, primitive man
more than anything else.  In one hand, it held a large crystal sword;
in the other was borne a whip made of large, interwoven feathers.


                     SOUTHERN HALF OF GREAT ROOM

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~,~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
|                                                                   |
|                                                                   |
|                    *    *    *     *    *    *                    |
| |=|                                                           |=| |
| |=|___                                                     ___|=| |
| |  ]]]|                                                   |[[[  | |
| |  ]]]|                                                   |[[[  | |
| |  ]]]|                                                   |[[[  | |
| |  ]]]|                                                   |[[[  | |
| |  ]]]|                   ____     ____                   |[[[  | |
| |  ]]]|                  |    |===|    |                  |[[[  | |
| |  ]]]|                  |@  _|===|_  @|                  |[[[  | |
| |__]]]|                  |  |  ===  |  |                  |[[[__| |
|                          |  |___@___|  |                          |
|                          |    |   |    |                          |
|                          |    |   |    |                          |
|__________________________|_____________|__________________________|

                                     ~~~   black satin curtains
                  N                   *    carven pillars
                W + E                ] [   raised seats in stands
                  S                   @    statues
                                      ,    party's current location
                                     ===   steps up


  The gaseous form of Arley the ogre mage floated toward the throne
area...

Mongo:  Let's get him!
Eyer:  No, wait.
Drexel:  Wait?  Why?
Eyer:  It could be a trap!
Drexel:  Trap?  In a gigantic room like this?  Hah!
Ged:  (to Eyer)  Does your sword detect any traps?
Eyer:  No...
Gorin:  The gas-ogre's getting away...
Baltek:  (fires an arrow after the vaporous form, doing no damage)
  He's not out of range, but my arrows can't hit him.
Arnold:  (looking around)  This place looks like an arena.
Ged:  It _is_ an arena.  My guess is that something we do will make
  some enemies appear, and then we'll have to fight them.
Eyer:  My money'd be on some or all of these statues, especially that
  big, mean-looking bastard on the throne.
Mongo:  Well, what can we do, then?  Leaving this area won't get us
  that ogre, and we might even miss some treasure or passage.
Drexel:  The dwarf is right!  I say we search this room, and let any
  foes attack at their peril!
Mongo:  (shakes his hammer)  Yeah!  Now you're talking!
Arnold:  Yah.
Ged:  (exchanges glances with Eyer)  Well...I think they've got a
  point.
Eyer:  We'll search, then...but _very_ carefully.  Baltek, you stay
  back a good twenty feet, and cover us with your bow.
Baltek:  Right.
Eyer:  (to Ged)  I'd suggest that you, too, stay back.  Your spells
  can help us a whole lot more if you're not in range of any battle
  that might break out.
Ged:  (really wanting to get a closer look at the throne area and the
  statues there, he acquiesces reluctantly)  Yea...
Mongo:  Me and Gorin are with you.
Eyer:  (nods)
Drexel:  And I!
Chaosbane:  (glowing as it speaks in a bold voice)  No evil shall be
  safe!
Lightbringer:  (chimes in)  Especially not any _undead_ evil!
Mongo:  (frowns as the hammer in his hand tingles imperceptibly for
  a fraction of a moment)  Huh?  (he wonders if the brief tingle was
  real, or merely his imagination)
Arnold:  (to no one in particular)  You can count on Ah-nold to join
  the fray!
Gorin:  Remember, there's no fray yet.
Eyer:  Not yet...

  Cautiously, the dispersed party made its way to the throne area.
All went well - that is, until Eyer climbed the first step toward
the center statue.  With a low grinding sound, the iron statue came
to life, standing and stretching.  This latter action produced a
series of metallic crunching sounds, and then, the thing brought
its weapons to bear, and began descending the huge steps.  Each of
its footfalls caused the room's floor to shake.
  Though none of the other statues moved from their positions, the
six to the north had come to life.  They now gestured and spoke
amongst themselves, pointing at both the golem and the adventurers.
The previously-empty viewing stands to the east and west were now
filled to capacity, occupied by a variety of living, dead, solid,
intangible, angelic, and demonic figures.  These "crowds" murmured
excitedly as the fearsome statue lumbered down the stairs toward
the party.

Ged:  It sort of looks like...an iron golem!
Eyer:  (backing up as the golem descends, he notices a flicker of
  flame from within the monster's mouth)  Uh...help!
Ged:  (spellcasting)  Already working on it.
Arnold:  (notes the positions of the other statues)  Aaa.
Drexel:  What in Heironeous' name is going on here?
Gorin:  Beats the shit out of me...other than that Ged and Eyer's
  theories about an arena and a battle seem about to bear fruit!
Mongo:  Fruit?  (wasting no time, he hurls his hammer at the iron
  golem as it nears the bottom of the steps)

  With an earsplittingly loud metallic CLANG, Stormcrest rebounded
from the golem's thick body, returning to Mongo's hand.  Much to
the shock of the dwarf (and everyone else) the foe didn't even slow
down.  Something was definitely wrong.
  Reaching the floor, the massive golem shook the stone underneath
as it thundered in the general direction of the party.

Mongo:  (looks at the golem, then at his hammer, then at the golem
  again)  Uh, folks?  I think we've got a little problem...





next:      the wrath of the golem
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
           http://www3.hmc.edu/~kshobaki/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu  (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu    (emergency)
notes:     I'm kinda holding off on fanmail for now.  My brother,
  after receiving and reading his quarterly dose of Adventurers
  when I went home before the cruise, noted that he was sick of
  reading a good story and then having to wade through an equally
  lengthy chunk of fan mail.
    What I may try to do is post it in big pieces, so that those
  who don't care for it can easily skip it.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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