Chapter #373

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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) +
+                                                                   +
+  Arnelson       weak old tinkerer, armed with a poker        (LG) +
+  Date:        2/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the dungeons beneath Maure Castle                   +
+  Climate:     dry and musty                                       +
+  "Someone like that will just tear the place up...will make       +
+   a lot of noise!                                                 +
+                                        - Bucco, from _Desperado_  +

                      CCCLXXIII.  Kerzit

  After much exploration and fighting, the adventurers have run
into this dungeon's rulers:  the evil mage Eli Tomorast and his
five assistant magi.  Even as the party enters a large quarter-
circular altar room, one of the wizards has thrown a blazing

Eyer:  (eyes wide)  Look out!

  Everyone jumped for cover as the fiery missile exploded in
their midst.  Fate helped the adventurers now, however, for
the wizard who had launched the spell was barely a novice,
and his fireball was of piddling power compared to those of
magi such as Ged or Alindyar.  As Eyer leapt into the room,
bearing down on the evil wizards, Mongo and Drexel took the
brunt of the blast...

Drexel:  (winces, but his holy sword saves him from harm)
Mongo:  (staggers before the blast, then stands straight)  You
  call that a fireball?!?  Hah!  (completely disregarding the
  others behind him, he charges, his hammer preceding him)

  Hurled with near-godly might, Stormcrest hit the wizard who
had launched the fireball, caving in his chest.

wizard#1:  (knocked backward, blood spewing from the horrible
Stormcrest:  (flies out of the victim's torso, messily)
Drexel:  (sword glowing brightly)  On, Chaosbane!  Let the evil-
  doers meet their doom!
Chaosbane:  Aye!
Arnold:  (charges right behind the paladin, his own sword held
  high)  Ah-nold!
wizard#2:  (casts a spell of his own, shrouding both warriors in
  a sticky web)  Hah!
Drexel:  (struggles against the webs)  Curses!
Arnold:  (likewise snared)  Aaa.
Eli Tomorast:  Now for some true power!  (he casts a spell of
  feeblemindedness upon Ged)
Ged:  (grits his teeth, but for once, his will prevails, and the
  spell doesn't affect him)  By Boccob!
Eli Tomorast:  (quakes in rage)  It cannot be!
Ged:  But it can!  (he releases his own spell)  For Boccob!

  The grey elf caused an arcane symbol to appear in the air
before the adventurers.  The thing verily pulsated with power,
and the foes cringed before it.

Ged:  See, now, the true hopelessness of your cause!
wizard#2:  (resists the symbol's power, but dies a moment later
  as Eyer's sword severs his spine)
Ged:  (shouts to Eyer)  Don't look-
Eyer:  Gotcha!  (knowing of such symbols from experience, he
  averts his eyes as he stalks Tomorast)
wizard#3:  (cowers before the symbol)
wizard#4:  (likewise)
wizard#5:  (likewise)
Eli Tomorast:  Fools!  It's merely a symbol of-
Mongo:  (interrupts the wizard with his hurled hammer)
Eli Tomorast:  (hit in the stomach, he suffers several broken
  ribs, and is knocked to the floor)  ARGH!
Mongo:  Shut up!  (he moves quickly to rip the webbing from
  Drexel and Arnold, who are still held fast despite their best

  Meanwhile, Gorin had guzzled a potion to help offset the wounds
he had sustained from the fireball.  The old man, Arnelson, had
been saved from the fireball, pushed back and into a side passage
by Baltek.  As for that elf, he had found his bowstring burnt away,
but had finally re-strung the weapon and was now plying it rather

Baltek:  (lands an arrow in one foe's throat)
wizard#5:  (dies instantly)
wizard#4:  (still cowering, he turns to flee)
Baltek:  (feathers the man in the back, putting an end to him as
Gorin:  Good shot!  (dashing by his webbed allies, he covers
  Mongo by attacking Tomorast)

  The wily wizard, however, was ready, his strange scaly hands
swinging with surprising effectiveness.  Gorin fell back as if
clubbed, blood trickling from his broken nose.

Gorin:  Ungh!
Tomorast:  See the fate of all those who defy me!
Gorin:  (leaps up suddenly)  Quiet!  (he swings his axe around at
  the wizard's wrist)
Tomorast:  (screams in agony as his left hand is severed)  Nooooo!
Drexel:  (now free, he approaches the wizard from behind)  Turn
  and face me, evildoer!
Tomorast:  Eh?  (he whirls, sees the paladin, and begins another
  spell)  You'll die, fool - by my hand or Kerzit's!
Ged:  Kerzit?
Tomorast:  (cackles insanely as he completes his spell; however,
  Drexel's sword swings a fraction of a moment earlier)
Drexel:  The time has come for you to meet your dark god!  (with
  a mighty swipe, he splits the mage's head in two)
Tomorast:  Urk!  (he falls, dead before he hits the floor)

  Meanwhile, the second and fifth wizards had been dispatched by
Eyer and Arnold, and finally the room was quiet.

Ged:  By Boccob...was that the best they could do?
Gorin:  Speak for yourself, pal.  I've got a busted nose here.
Drexel:  Would that I could lay on hands, friend.  But not until
  the morrow...
Gorin:  Ah, it's nothing.  I'll live.
Mongo:  Here, take this.  (he hands his henchman a healing potion)
Gorin:  Thanks.
Baltek:  Let's hope that was the extent of the evil ones' forces.
Eyer:  I don't know...I've got this feeling...
Ged:  Boccob said I needed help for this quest...that there was
  some great evil here.  (he looks around, confused)
Arnold:  Yah.
Drexel:  Perhaps it was a small, festering evil, one that had yet
  to flourish with dark power.
Mongo:  If that's it, then we just crushed it like a tiny bug.
  (he wipes gore from his hammer)
Eyer:  (nods)  A good analogy.  (he checks the slain foes' bodies
  and recovers various small valuables)
Chaosbane:  We must continue the explorations to be sure.
Baltek:  Easy for you to say - you're not the one doing the walking.
Chaosbane:  No matter.
Lightbringer:  (to Chaosbane)  We intelligent weapons never get a
  fair reckoning...
Chaosbane:  Aye.

  Binding their wounds, they searched the chamber, and Eyer found
a secret door between a pair of wolf-headed statues.  This led to
a series of small connected rooms.  One held a marble-carven fresco
of some dark, unidentifiable monster.  Another was a dressing room,
and the third was a study.  A few non-magical treasures were found
in these places, but more interesting was a narrow, rough-hewn
tunnel that led away to the north.  This opened into a large,
maze-like cavern which stunk of rot and filth.  Here and there
could be seen bones and skulls, rats running among them like the
vermin they were.  The cavern ceiling was high here, perhaps fifty
feet, and the only light shed was that from the party's weapons.
  Entering this foul place, they stopped while Ged enchanted a wall
to give off magical light.

Ged:  Good.  Now-
Eyer:  Shh!  (he cocks an ear)

  At first, only the elf heard the sound, but soon, all of them
could.  It was a loud clicking, as of talons on stone, and it was
coming closer...

Mongo:  Fuck...(he raises his hammer, trying to get a bead on
  whatever unseen thing is out there in the caverns)
Drexel:  Stand fast, companions.
Gorin:  (somewhat nervous)  What _is_ that?
Baltek:  I don't know, but it sure isn't friendly...
Arnold:  Aaa.
Eyer:  (sword pointed at the darkness)  Stand your ground...
Ged:  Boccob, be with us...

  Suddenly, a huge _thing_ sprung out of the darkness and tore
into the party!  Ten feet tall and almost that broad, it had
four arms, if the appendages could be called that.  The upper
two were long, writhing tentacles, while the lower arms were
pointed, saw-toothed protrusions.  A monstrous wolf's head sat
atop the hairy body, and powerful legs, ending in hooked claws,
supported the thing.

thing:  (lashes out at random opponents, simultaneously bringing
  down a sphere of darkness around itself)  NAARGH!

  This tactic worked to dire effect:  Drexel, Eyer, and Arnold
were knocked away, all three battered or gashed.  Within the
blackness, however, Mongo held his ground, lashing out with great
blind swings of Stormcrest.  A toothed arm scraped his side, but
his enchanted mail held, and a moment later, the hammer met
something solid and yielding.

thing:  GRAARGH!  (it staggers)
Baltek:  (holds his bow, unable to fire arrows into the darkness
  for fear of hitting Mongo)  Damn!
Gorin:  What can we do?
Ged:  I'll banish that darkness!  (he completes his spell, and
  points at the sphere of battle-filled darkness)

  Nothing happened.

Ged:  Boccob!
Drexel:  (gets to his feet)  A foul, cowardly blow!  (he approaches
  the darkness anew)  I sense you, demon!  Come out and-
Mongo:  (hurtles out of the darkness suddenly, smashing right into
  the paladin)

  There was a loud CLANG as the two heavy warriors collided; both
went down, dazed.  Nearby, Arnold and Eyer had regained their
footing; Gorin joined them as they circled the blackness that hid
their foe.

Ged:  Hold!  This is a perfect opportunity...(spellcasting)

  Just then, the air nearby shimmered, and a hulking, reptilian
monster appeared from nowhere.  Those who had been at the battle
with Belphanior recognized this as a demon, one called "hezrou"
by scholars.

Eyer:  Uh-oh.
Gorin:  Looks like ugly there summoned some help...Ged, we'll
  take care of this new demon - you get the first one!
Ged:  Yea!  (knowing that there's a lot of space behind the big,
  darkness-sheathed beast, he launches a bolt of lightning right
  at the thing)  Take _that_!

  The bolt hit the black mass...and nothing happened!  There was
no explosion, no arc of electricity emerging from the far side of
the darkness.  Nothing.

Ged:  (yells in frustration)  Argh!
hezrou:  (swipes one huge paw, swatting Gorin aside like a sack
  of potatoes)  Grak!
Gorin:  Oh shiiiiiit...<WHUMP>
Arnold:  (slashes at the demon, opening a huge gash in its arm)
  Ah-nold will stop you, dembon!
hezrou:  (points at the warrior, and Arnold is repelled by a
  telekinetic force)
Arnold:  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa-  (he hits a stalactite, avoiding impalement
  only because his armor is thick and magical)  Ungh!  (he falls to
  the cavern floor)
Eyer:  (faces the demon)  Okay, you.  (he hurls a small grey sphere
  at the thing's face)
hezrou:  Urlk?  (the thing hits it in the forehead, exploding wetly)

  Within moments, the demon's face was covered with a thick grey
jelly, which apparently not only blinded it, but also burned its
eyes, judging by the way the beast danced and howled in pain.

hezrou:  (clawing at its eyes)  YEAARGH!
Eyer:  Heh.
Ged:  It's not dead yet!
Drexel:  Yes, it is.  (he swings Chaosbane at the blinded demon)

  As the holy blade hit the foul creature, a pale green nimbus leapt
from the sword to the demon.  The hezrou shrieked even louder, but
the glow now surrounded it.

Ged:  (watches in fascination)  Boccob...!
hezrou:  (vanishes, leaving only dust in its wake)
Chaosbane:  A just fate.
Ged:  What...(his eyes light up)  Of course!  Disintegration!
Drexel:  Aye.
Chaosbane:  That is my demon can stand before me.
Ged:  (points at the other, darkness-shrouded foe)  Even that?
Drexel:  Even that.  (he moves purposefully toward the monster)

  While the paladin had been busy dealing with the hezrou, Mongo
had recovered and begun pummeling the main demon with a hurled
hammer.  Although he was unable to see the foe's exact location,
and half of his attacks missed, the other half didn't miss.  If
the shrieks of pain and rage from the darkness were any indication,
the demon was wounded, perhaps seriously.
  The mass of darkness began to move toward Mongo, rapidly...

Mongo:  (stands fast)  Come on!
Drexel:  (suddenly charges into the darkness from the side, and
  the sound of melee is heard anew)  Meet thy maker, foul one!
Mongo:  Huh?  Hey!

  The fight within the darkness must have been terrible indeed,
for blood flew out of the sphere in random directions, and the
sounds of steel cutting into flesh mixed with the scraping of
great claws and spikes against plate mail...and flesh.  None of
the paladin's allies dared to try and help, for none could see
within that darkness, and as Ged had already proven, it wasn't
  Then, suddenly, it was over; a bright green light broke through
the blackness, shattering it like an eggshell (a bizarre sight to
see!) as Chaosbane struck a mortal blow to the demon.  Moments
later, only the paladin and his scintillating sword were there.
However, Drexel was in a bad way; he bled from numerous cuts and
gashes, and his plate mail bore many rents.  As they watched, he
fell to the cavern floor, coughing blood.

Ged:  By Boccob!  (he rushes over to the fallen paladin)
Mongo:  Shit.
Eyer:  (scans the cavern for other foes, but sees none)  Baltek,
  help me check the far reaches of this place.  Better to be safe
  than sorry.
Baltek:  (eyes Drexel's battered form)  Or dead...
Gorin:  I'll help you guys.  (together with the two elves, he
  scouts the cavern's closer passages)

  Although Drexel was badly wounded, he would live, if they could
get him to a temple soon.  His wounds were bound carefully, and
they rigged a trellis to carry him on.

Mongo:  (to Ged)  No need for that - we can just teleport away
  from here, right?
Ged:  Not from here.  Something's wrong with this place, and I'd
  rather not teleport right here.  (he looks at the surrounding
  caverns)  Let's get outside first.
Mongo:  Uh...okay.  Whatever you say, you're the wizard.  But what
  about Drexel's horses, and the others?
Ged:  Hmm, I'd forgotten about them.  They're a long way from here,
  on the other side of that swampland.
Arnold:  (shrugs)  So we carry Dregzel up and out, then telebort,
  then go back to the swamp and get the horses.
Ged:  Arnold, you're a genius!
Arnold:  No I'm not.
Mongo:  (looks at the small pile of dust that was the demon)  Huh.
Ged:  I may be wrong, but I'd guess that thing was the Kerzit.
Arnold:  Maybe.
Ged:  Probably.  Perhaps the wizard Tomorast was using the demon
  to build a power base.  Boccob's words make more sense now.
Drexel:  (weakly)  Aye, and Heironeous' as well.  (he falls back
  into semi-consciousness, smiling)
Mongo:  Damn, but he's a tough one.
Ged:  He is, at that.  I've seen men die from wounds like these,
  but he'll live...because he _wants_ to live.
Mongo:  Good.
Arnold:  (sheathes his sword)  The evil is gone.
Eyer:  (returns from his scouting, a large black tome in his
  hands)  Look what I found.
Ged:  (eyes the thing curiously)  Hmm.  No time to check it out
  now...I'll have a look at it later.
Baltek:  That's all of value in these caverns.
Gorin:  Unless you're a gnawer of bones.
Arnold:  Not me.
Arnelson:  (strolls into the room, shaken but determined, his
  poker held high)  I'm ready to help!
Mongo:  (grins)  It's about time you got here, old man.  We were
  almost defeated!

  Presently, they left the dungeon, bearing the wounded paladin.
None were left to try and stop them, though such fools surely would
have faced Mongo's worst fury.  After leaving Maure Castle, it was
only a short time before they were ready to leave, via Ged's magic.

Ged:  (to the others)  Everyone get ready...
Mongo:  Let's get going.
Eyer:  (raises his sword)  Damn right.
Arnelson:  (still holding his poker)  Err...what exactly are we
  about to do?
Eyer:  Don't worry yourself, good fellow.  It'll all be over in
  a flash.
Ged:  Yea.

  With that, they left Maure Castle, heading back to safety and
all went well from that point on.  Drexel recuperated at a temple
of Heironeous, while Ged took Arnold and Mongo and went to retrieve
all the horses.  Drexel's warhorse seemed to have an idea of what
was going on, for it allowed itself to be led back to civilization
along with the other mounts.  After that business was taken care of,
Ged worked to identify the magical items they had found.  Mongo was
in charge of appraising and dividing the monetary treasure.  This
was a simple task, though, compared to Ged's.  Still, the grey elf
finally had the magical items separated, and once Drexel was well
enough to speak and think clearly, all was divided:

longsword (from iron golem room)   Mongo
dagger (ditto)                     Drexel
whip of stoning (ditto)            Eyer
spellbook (Hubehn's)               Ged*
potion of cloud giant strength     Arnold
potion of treasure finding         Baltek
ring (Tomorast's)                  Ged
dagger +2 (Tomorast's)             Gorin
black book                         Ged*

*  the fact was that only Ged could use these books; it was
   indeed a good thing that his companions were honest and fair
   rather than greedy

  Ged, Mongo, and company had to attend to business, so the
usual farewells were said...

Drexel:  (still bedridden, he yet clasps hands with all)  It has
  been an honor fighting at your sides.
Mongo:  Ditto.  It was fun.
Gorin:  Well, most of the time.
Arnold:  Yah.
Ged:  (to Eyer)  What will you do now?
Eyer:  Oh...go wherever adventure takes us, I suppose.
Baltek:  (grins)  Somehow, I doubt that'll be too difficult.
Gorin:  You're a hell of a shot with that bow.  I've got a couple
  of friends who might want to see how they compare to you...
Baltek:  (bows)  You have but to name the time and place.
Drexel:  My friends, we have done a great deed for all - not just
  my god, or his- (he nods toward Ged) -but for many gods, and
  many people.  Should you ever need my help, it is yours for the
  asking.  You may find me in Chendl, or elsewhere in Furyondy.
Mongo:  Hey, I'll hold you to that, pal.
Drexel:  I hope so.

  Soon, the four adventurers - Mongo, Gorin, Ged, and Arnold -
were on their way to Greyhawk, to see what had transpired in
their absence.

next:      a reunion of sorts
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I was happy to see not one, but _two_ no-hitters last
  week.  Wow.
    Here follow some Mongo-related thoughts from his player:

As for Mongo, I think Mongo always needed to be needed, part of a
group.  Always holding the party items, taking the lead at the front
of the party, taking punches for the party, cooking for the party...
He was never really in it for the money, or glory, or magic.  When-
ever anyone wanted to go on a quest, Mongo wanted to be there too.
Since this adventuring party has split up and settled down, maybe
Mongo would seek out another group of young people to go adventuring
with.  A group with less experienced magicians, so Mongo gets a big
piece of the fighting.  A group with young dwarf warriors he can
train and develop.   If he is too famous, maybe he'd start up a
group under a fake name.

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