Chapter #372

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                                +   +
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                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic II      +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 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                    +
+                           +
+  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:        2/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the dungeons beneath Maure Castle                   +
+  Climate:     dry and musty                                       +
+  "They're not gonna catch us.  We're on a mission from God."      +
+                              - Elwood, from _The Blues Brothers_  +

                CCCLXXII.  A Plethora of Foes

  The party is descending to the third level.  All flippancy and
misbehavior must now be kept to a minimum, for the masters of the
dungeon know of the intruders, and are no doubt ready for them.

Eyer:  (pads ahead of the others, completely silent)

  Eyer led the way, taking the party down the cold stone steps.
His longsword, ever-vigilant for traps, sensed none, and the
adventurers began to explore a mazelike series of passages and
  The prized map found previously was now useless, for it only
detailed the upper two levels.  They were forced to explore at
random, though it wasn't long before they entered a room that
contained guardians.  While looking around at various stacked
items, some possibly useful, the adventurers turned to face an
attack!  From various doors and passages stormed a band of short,
scaly monsters.  About Mongo's height, the things looked like
squat men with the heads of fish.  Their mouths had no teeth,
merely long, pink forked tongues.

Eyer:  (leaps aside, but still goes down beneath one of the foes)
Mongo:  (similarly tackled by one of the fish-things)  Hey!
Drexel:  Dire evil, these things!  (he meets a charging attacker
  with his sword's edge)  Nay, says I!
fish-thing#3:  (reels, a nasty gash running from shoulder to
  groin)  Blurk!  (black blood gushes forth from the horrible
Drexel:  Hold fast, friends!  They can be wounded!
Chaosbane:  (glowing brightly, it illuminates the chamber better
  than the torches that burn in wall sconces)  Aye!
Arnold:  Then they can die!  (he hacks at a charging fish-thing,
  lopping an arm off as if it were a twig)
fish-thing#4:  (staggers back)  Grunk!
Ged:  (spellcasting)
Gorin:  (moves to protect Ged from a rushing foe)  Stop right
  there, ugly!
fish-thing#5:  (ducks in under the dwarf's sweeping axe and hits
  him in the chest with a massive, clawed fist)
Gorin:  (falls back, dazed by the unexpected strength of the blow)
fish-thing#6:  (moving for Ged, it stops, an arrow in its neck)
Baltek:  Have another.  (he buries a second arrow in the thing's
fish-thing#6:  Slurb!  (it begins hopping around)

  Meanwhile, other foes had converged on Drexel and Arnold, as
the two huge warriors fought back-to-back, barely keeping the
attackers at bay.  Nearby, one fish-thing was atop Mongo, trying
to rip at the dwarf's face with its claws.  The creature was
strong, but it had reckoned without the much greater strength of

Mongo:  (lashes out with one mailed fist)  Enough!
fish-thing#2:  (flies straight upward, colliding with the stone
  ceiling)  Blork!  (it falls)
Mongo:  (meets the falling monster with a solid hammer-blow)  Take
fish-thing#2:  <crack>  (its neck broken, it sails away limply)
Eyer:  (still struggling under the greater weight and strength of
  the foe that tackled him)  Ungh!
fish-thing#1:  (claws and hisses)
Eyer:  (gets his feet under the monster's belly, and with a great
  kick, sends it flying away from him)  Hah!
Mongo:  (not missing a beat, he wallops the foe, knocking it after
  the last one he hit)  Yeah!
Eyer:  (stands)  Thanks!
Mongo:  Just keep 'em coming, pal.

  While these two, and Drexel and Arnold, were dispatching their
foes, the rear rank of the party was in trouble.  Gorin was over-
matched by the fifth and sixth fish-things, despite Baltek's steady
hail of arrows.  Furthermore, two more monsters moved around to
the side, intending to dispatch Ged and Baltek.  Yet, Ged hadn't
played his ace yet...

Ged:  Boccob!  (a gigantic glowing sword of pure force appears,
  its blade a shimmering purple)  Strike!
fish-thing#7:  Blurk!  (it falls back, sliced in two)
Baltek:  (his eyes go wide with surprise)  Impressive.  (he sends
  another arrow at the nearest foe)
Ged:  Glad you like it.  (he mentally swings the violet sword
  again, slashing the eighth attacker and driving it away with
  its fellow)

  By now, the strange fish-things realized that the adventurers
were a bit more than they had bargained for, but it didn't matter.
Beneath the crushing power of Mongo, the gigantic twin swords of
Drexel and Arnold, and Ged's magical blade, the rest of the fish-
creatures didn't last long.  Several of the party, primarily Gorin
and Eyer, bore wounds, but they were not serious.  After binding
these, the intrepid adventurers explored the room's contents, if
rapidly.  Hidden amongst more mundane goods, they found a pair of
potions, a few gems inlaid into a broken sword pommel, and a glass
bottle of clear fluid.  They also found, beyond a chest's false
bottom and a loose corner-leg, a longsword whose blade flickered
with tiny black flames.

Drexel:  No!  (he holds up his own blade, as if to defend against
  the dark sword)
Arnold:  (holds the thing up)  Aaa?
Ged:  (nods slightly)  _Highly_ magical.
Drexel:  Evil!  That thing is evil!
Eyer:  How do you know?
Drexel:  I just do!  We must get rid of it - no, better yet, we
  must destroy it!
Chaosbane:  (glowing brightly)  He is correct.
Baltek:  Are you sure?
Drexel:  Absolutely.
Gorin:  (to Mongo)  Sounds stupid, but if anyone oughtta know,
  it's him.
Mongo:  (nods, stepping forward)  Want me to try?
Drexel:  Can you accomplish this?
Mongo:  Don't know, I never tried.  (he sets the sword down, its
  two ends resting on crates)  Hmm.  (he raises his hammer, moving
  about to get the right angle)

  Suddenly, the dwarf brought his hammer down upon the sword, hard.
Both crates shattered, and the sword fell to the floor, unharmed.

Mongo:  Well, fuck me.
Drexel:  Eh?
Baltek:  (to Eyer)  We could always take the thing back to that
  early room, with the crushing holes in the floor.
Eyer:  Hmm.
Mongo:  (picks up the sword, looks it over, then sets it down)
  Let's try this again.  (with all his might, he swings his hammer
  down in a great arc)

  There was a tremendous crunching sound, mixed with a metallic
ringing, and the black longsword was broken!  Its twin halves
immediately ceased to emanate the dark flames, and moments later,
Drexel could no longer sense the aura of evil from the thing.

Mongo:  (eyes Stormcrest, which isn't even scratched)  Good.
Arnold:  (looks around)  We should get moving.
Eyer:  Yep.
Ged:  Let's move quickly, then.  (he waves his Mordenkainen's sword
  around in the air)  This sword is a great ally, but it won't last
  for long.  I'd like to use it to its fullest capability.
Drexel:  Sounds good to me.

  They continued onward, and Ged's wish was granted.  The very
next chamber held a dozen gnolls, well-armed and armored.  These
took the party by surprise, but fierce as they were, they were
unable to break through the combined ranks of Mongo, Arnold, and
Drexel.  This meant that Ged was able to bring his purple force-
blade to bear, and each of its swings felled a foe.  Of course,
the same was true of Mongo's hammer-blows, not to mention the
sword-strikes of Drexel and Arnold.  Ged's sword was just more
impressive, and intimidating.  After the gnolls were slain, Ged
used some of his last healing spells to help Gorin and Eyer.

Ged:  That's almost it.  We need to rest.
Mongo:  No time!  They'll get us while we camp - we're better
  off making a fight of it.
Gorin:  Of course, if you're scared, you could always teleport
  us back to Greyhawk-
Ged:  Never!  We - with Boccob's grace - shall prevail here!
Drexel:  Excellent attitude!  (in a lower voice)  But do not
  forget Heironeous...
Mongo:  How could we?
Drexel:  (shrugs)  I know not.
Eyer:  Come, let's get moving again.
Ged:  (watches his Mordenkainen's sword blink, then fade out)
Baltek:  A good weapon...why not make another one?
Ged:  It's not that easy.
Arnold:  (to Baltek)  Fear not, though - Ah-nold still has a sword.

  They moved on, heading southward.  After a short period of
careful and stealthy movement, they entered a large, torch-lit
room, a hideously well-equipped torture chamber.  Two hooded,
black-robed figures stood near an old man, who was strapped into
a chair.  He looked bad, an obvious victim of whips and knives.

hooded figures:  (scan the party, then hurl daggers in their
Mongo:  Whoa!  (a dagger bounces from his chest-mail)
Eyer:  (bats the other blade aside with his sword)
hooded figures:  (look at each other, then turn and flee for the
  southern doors)
Drexel:  No!  don't let-
Mongo:  They won't.  (he hurls Stormcrest after the running men)
torturer#1:  (hit in the back, he falls, twitching)
Baltek:  (his longbow flashes as he fires several arrows at the
  two hooded ones)
torturer#2:  (falls, one arrow in his neck, another in his spine)
Eyer:  (dashes after the pair)  come on!

  Both foes were dead, however.  Mongo's victim bled from every
hole in his head, as well as from one of Baltek's arrows.

Mongo:  Damn, I didn't even see that!  You must've hit him before
  I did.
Baltek:  (nods)  Indeed I did.
Eyer:  The other is slain as well...Baltek's skillful shots.
Baltek:  (shrugs)  When you're the best, you're the best.
Mongo:  (checks other exits, to make sure no other foes are on the
Gorin:  (shuts the door the party entered by)

  Meanwhile, Drexel was checking the old prisoner, having untied
the man.  This fellow wasn't doing too well; besides being bruised
and cut, he was in a stupor, and his tongue had been split.

Drexel:  This man needs help.
Ged:  Allow me.  (he casts a spell, and the man comes out of his
  dazed state as his wounds heal)
old man:  E- eh?
Drexel:  All is well, friend.  You're rescued now.
old man:  How?  Wh- what's happened?
Ged:  Try to be calm, fellow.  Have you a name?
old man:  I am Arnelson.
Drexel:  Why are you here?
Arnelson:  I don't really know.  I was headed from my home village
  of Orz, to Greyhawk - I'm a tinkerer and there was a big merchant
  fest coming up - and they just kidnapped me.  I didn't even have
  much of value.
Drexel:  Evil most foul!
Gorin:  (walks over)  How long have you been here?
Arnelson:  Days...perhaps a week.
Ged:  Hmm.
Mongo:  (walks over as well)  Ask him if he knows anything about
  Eli Tomorast, or whatever his name was.  Or anything about this
  dungeon or its guardians.
Arnelson:  I did overhear some of those-  (he gestures to the two
  bodies) -fiends' conversations.
Drexel:  What can you tell us, good fellow?
Arnelson:  (trying to concentrate)  Uh...well, there aren't too
  many guards here.  Tomorast is having a manpower problem.
Mongo:  That's good news.
Baltek:  What else?
Arnelson:  Uh...since he hasn't many guards and soldiers, the wizard
  relies on traps and magical wards.  The torturers were complaining
  about that.
Eyer:  (nodding)  This makes sense.
Arnold:  (growing impatient)  The only thing that makes sense to
  Ah-nold is more battle!
Mongo:  Soon.  Don't worry.  (to Arnelson)  Anything else you know?
Arnelson:  Also, they once talked about how some of the mad wizard's
  followers and guards were disappearing...possibly to be sacrificed.
Drexel:  (looks horrified)  Aie!
Ged:  Sacrificed?  To who?
Arnelson:  I have no idea.
Gorin:  Okay, look.  We can't take him with us.  He'd get smeared.
Eyer:  Maybe he could tag along behind?
Baltek:  Or he could just hide somewhere.
Drexel:  Never!  We cannot simply leave this good man here alone!
Arnelson:  (cowers as he listens to them discuss his possible
Ged:  (to Arnelson)  What do _you_ think?
Arnelson:  Uh...err...I'd be happy to go with you.  I can stay
  clear of any battles, I assure you.
Eyer:  Sounds workable.  Let's get moving.

  With the old tinkerer in tow, they did.  Before leaving the
torture chamber, Arnelson grabbed a hot poker...just in case.
The party, now eight strong and bolstered by the poker-wielding
old man, moved to the east.  They soon found several chambers
full of black robes; just beyond these, they came upon an short
passage whose floor was covered in thick black carpet.  Torches,
a dozen on each wall, lined this corridor.  It led into a room
whose floor was also carpeted; a single torch illuminated a
glass mosaic on the northern wall.  This caused the room to be
bathed in various colors of the spectrum, depending upon where
one stood.  Twenty fluffy black pillows were spread about, and
a pair of brass incense-burners, shaped like small kneeling
demons, rested atop a pair of stands.  No one was in this room,
so the group left, exploring a nearby series of passages.  After
an empty chamber or two, a widening passage was was found, and
Eyer led the way down this hallway.  It twisted and turned for
a short time, eventually opening into a large curtained chamber -
an altar and worship area.  Lanterns hung from the ceiling,
illuminating several rows of pews arranged in a quarter-circle
around a raised pulpit.  A massive granite altar stood atop the
pulpit, and Eyer's sharp eyes could make out an obsidian dagger
and a silver ewer atop the altar.  The altar itself was stained
a deep red, and no one doubted the meaning of this.
  There was only one problem:  as they entered this area, they
saw the dark wizard Tomorast, along with a quintet of dark-robed,
shaven-headed sorcerors.  One of these fellows had both hands
pointed toward the party, and a moment after they saw the magi,
a blossoming ball of fire hurtled in their direction!

next:      Kerzit
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:   (preferred)
notes:     Would you believe that as I write this, I've already
  got #376-378 done, and #374-375 are already completely thought-
  out?  Somehow, I knew you would.  What happens sometimes is
  that I'm writing, say, Ged but I feel like writing Belphanior.
  Thus I leap ahead and work on the other story until I get it
  out of my system.

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