Chapter #383

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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:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Belphanior    (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief     (CN) +
+    Otto          8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief         (CN) +
+  Mongo          18th level dwarven fighter                   (CG) +
+  Peldor         20th level human thief                        (N) +
+    Bosco        11th level halfling thief                    (CN) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the sewers beneath the Free City of Greyhawk        +
+  Climate:     warm, damp, and smelly                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Where are you going?"                                           +
+  "If I told you, you'd never let me go."                          +
+                                             - from _The X-Files_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





          CCCLXXXIII.  What Lurks Within the Sewers





  After descending to the lower sewers of Greyhawk, the party now
finds itself facing unknown and unseen foes who splash toward them
from either side...

Mongo:  (hefts his hammer, ready to throw)  Whatever's coming, it's
  coming pretty damn fast!
Bosco:  (flattens himself against the wall of the pipe, looking
  intently toward the darkness)  Shit.  Shit.  Shit.
Otto:  (holds his crossbow up, ready to shoot the instant a target
  presents itself)  What the hell _is_ that?
Belphanior:  Fuck this.  (pulling out a wand, he points it to the
  left and speaks a command word)

  The wand emitted a blazing gout of flame, which filled the area
in front of Belphanior with scorching fire.  Briefly, the companions
saw a hazy, shimmering area in the firelight - as if an opaque wall
was sliding toward them - but then it was engulfed in flames.

Otto:  Fuckin' a.  (he shifts his loaded crossbow to the other
  direction)
Bosco:  Hey, something's here-
Peldor:  Look out!

  From the other side, as well, _something_ had advanced to the
party's location - a glistening wall of...slime?

Bosco:  Gelatinous cube!  (he leaps back as the thing presses
  forward)
Mongo:  Fuck!  (he grunts loudly as he hurls his hammer)
Peldor:  No, don't-

  As Stormcrest hit the semisolid foe, there was a tremendous SMACK
which was immediately followed by an explosion of caustic goo.

Peldor:  (splattered with the gunk)  Ugh.  Argh!  (he hastily wipes
  at the stuff, which is burning his skin)  OUCH!
Bosco:  (deftly dodges several chunks of destroyed gelatin)  Whoa!
  Whee!
Belphanior:  (hit in the neck with a gob of the thing's body)  Ow.
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Sorry.
Otto:  (ignoring the globlets of jelly that have splattered on him,
  he squints at the passage ahead)  Hell, I think you killed it!
Mongo:  Really?  With one puny hammer-blow?
Peldor:  I wouldn't exactly call it "puny"...
Bosco:  (poking at the piles of goop with his sword)  Yeah, it's
  dead, all right - totally splattered!
Belphanior:  (examines the handiwork of his fire-wand)  This one's
  dead, too...burnt to a crisp.
Peldor:  Good thinking, and quick too.
Otto:  Yeah.  (he looks around)  I _did_ say this was a good place
  for an ambush, didn't I?
Mongo:  Hmm.
Belphanior:  But did the cubes orchestrate it?  I mean, they're not
  that smart.
Bosco:  Maybe they are.  I mean, has anyone ever actually sat down
  and interviewed one?
Belphanior:  Er...hmm.  I see your point.
Bosco:  Groovy.
Peldor:  But still, it seems awfully coincidental.  Maybe the shape-
  shifters had a hand in this.
Otto:  (nods)
Mongo:  Hard to say.  We haven't even seen any of 'em yet.
Belphanior:  Well, maybe we will.  Let's get moving - I don't want
  to stay here any longer.
Otto:  Ditto.

  Wiping the last bits of goo from their bodies and armor, they
moved on, using the map to guide the way.

Belphanior:  At the next intersection, we should see a cistern.
Otto:  I wonder if the cisterns down here are really bottomless
  like they say?
Peldor:  I think they are.
Mongo:  (to Belphanior)  What's after the cistern?
Belphanior:  We'll take the pipe opposite to this one - it's marked
  here on the map.
Peldor:  We must be getting close, then.  Everyone keep an eye out.
Otto:  Don't worry.
Mongo:  Huh?  (he reaches into the water, and pulls up a snake that
  had coiled around his foot)  Well, fuuuck.
Otto:  Lemme see that.  (he grabs the thing behind its head and
  looks at it, eye-to-eye)  Huh...water cobra.
Bosco:  That's a poisonous one, isn't it?
Otto:  Yup.
Bosco:  (looks uneasily at the water that he's standing on top of,
  thanks to his ring of water walking)  Sheesh...
Peldor:  Just be thankful your feet aren't wet.
Bosco:  Believe me, I am.
Mongo:  (pointing at the snake Otto holds)  The damn thing had
  coiled around my-
Belphanior:  Argh!  (he, too, reaches down, pulling a second snake
  from his calf)
Peldor:  Shit!
Bosco:  Yie.
Belphanior:  (holding the dripping reptile behind its head, he
  crushes it in his hand)  Fucker...(he drops the writhing carcass
  back into the water)
Bosco:  (sidesteps the dying snake)  Whew, lucky for you he didn't
  bite you.
Belphanior:  (lifts one leg behind him, examining two identical
  holes in the back of his boot)  He did.
Peldor:  He did?
Mongo:  Hell!  We need to get that wound treated, before it-
Belphanior:  I'll be okay.
Otto:  (smirks)
Bosco:  But the poison!
Belphanior:  I'll live, I said.
Peldor:  Magical resistance to poison, eh?  (he shrugs)  I bet it
  still hurts like a motherfucker, though.
Belphanior:  Yeah, it does.  (he grits his teeth)  Just because
  poison can't kill me, that doesn't mean it doesn't burn like fire
  in my veins...
Mongo:  I didn't know that.
Belphanior:  It'll get a little better, after a while.  Anyway, the
  pain's good - it keeps me alert.
Bosco:  (greatly impressed by this show of machismo)  Yeah...
Otto:  (has an absurdly ludicrous thought involving vampiric snakes)

  Otto lopped the head from the first snake, tossing the body back
into the water, and reverently placed the head into a small leather
pouch at his belt.  The adventurers continued their explorations,
and shortly, they found the cistern, its wide-open construction a
vast difference from the usual sewer pipes and accessways.  A narrow
ledge led around the tank's perimeter, and water from three other
pipes also fed into here.  They skirted the cistern's deep center
carefully, for none of them wanted to find out if the thing was
truly bottomless.  Still, it was a nerve-wracking experience, the
shuffling along the narrow, curved ledge - wondering all the while
what might leap from the cistern's water and attack.  All five of
the adventurers were relieved when they had finally crossed the
cistern and entered the opposite passage.
  Ten feet into that tunnel, they discovered an important clue.

Bosco:  (holds up a grey tatter of cloth)  Aha!
Mongo:  Some cloth...so what?
Peldor:  Greyhawk's sewer-workers' Guild wears grey clothing when
  on the job...
Belphanior:  So.  One of them _was_ here.
Otto:  (poking at some slime on the wall, with his sword-tip)  And
  look at this.

  Mixed with the algae on the wall was a smear of dark red stuff.
It hadn't completely dried, probably due to the humid conditions
down here.

Belphanior:  Blood...
Peldor:  Folks, I think we're getting close.
Bosco:  Me too.  (he grips his sword and looks around nervously)
Mongo:  I wish we'd just fight someone.  All this walking and
  waiting's wearing on my nerves.
Otto:  (looks back into the cistern)  I know what you mean.  I do
  my best thinking during battle.

  They moved on, going slowly and carefully.  Peldor feared traps,
perhaps set by shapeshifters; besides, the water here was now several
inches deep.  It seemed to be flowing in the same direction that the
party was moving in, which didn't make any sense given the cistern
_behind_ them.  After a few tense minutes, no new side passages or
larger chambers had been found.  Then, suddenly, Belphanior made a
hand signal.  All except Mongo understood the motions of thieves'
cant, and the dwarf realized that something was amiss, so he kept
quiet and followed the others' lead.
  Belphanior was telling them that someone followed, behind - some
person, not a slime or cube.  Peldor nodded, and broke away as they
passed a narrow alcove.  While the other four trudged onward as if
nothing was amiss, Peldor flattened himself against the wall, unseen
in the darkness.  He immediately used his magical tattoos to render
himself invisible, knowing that this would hide him even from infra-
vision, should whoever or whatever followed possess it.
  Moments later, a small, stooped form walked by, slowly and very,
very quietly.  Peldor detached himself from the wall, catching the
form from behind, his dagger poised to cut its throat...

figure:  Stop!  Stop!  I come in peace!
Peldor:  (hesitates, a moment before he would have opened the
  victim's throat)  Don't move - not a muscle!
figure:  (very, very still)  Don't worry.
Belphanior:  Aha!  First new soul I've seen all day!  (he leads the
  others as they run back to Peldor's ambush site)  What's this?!?
Mongo:  A dwarf?
dwarf:  Yes, I am a dwarf.
Belphanior:  (peers at the captive, then sheathes his sword)  Hah.
Bosco:  Uh, what gives?  (he gets a good look at the dwarf)  Hey,
  we know you!
Peldor:  (turns the dwarf's head so that he can see his face)  Huh?
  You're that one we found here last time...that...
dwarf:  Darek Halfplow, at your service.  (he gulps)  Uh, would you
  mind removing that knife from my throat?  It's kinda making me
  nervous.
Peldor:  Hmm.
Otto:  (crossbow in hand)  Don't worry, I've got him covered.
Peldor:  (lets Darek loose)
Darek:  (rubbing his throat)  Whew.
Belphanior:  I'd suggest that you explain why you've been following
  us.
Bosco:  Yeah, speak up!

  Darek was garbed much like he had been two years ago; he wore
dirty black overalls and boots.  His grey hair and beard were
smudged with grease and slime, and a heavy battleaxe hung at his
side.  Additionally, a small pack was strapped on his back.

Darek:  I was just out prowling around, and heard you moving.  So,
  I figured I'd see what was going on.
Peldor:  Just out prowling around, eh?  (he looks the dwarf up, and
  down)  Last time, you told us you were a sewer worker.
Darek:  That's right.
Belphanior:  Bullshit.  No sewer worker goes way down _here_.  And
  no sewer worker follows us as quietly as you did.  You're good -
  if not for Blackrazor, I might not have known you were there.
Otto:  What's the truth?  Are you an assassin, perhaps, using the
  sewers to move around?
Mongo:  Or maybe a looter of the dead...making a living stealing
  from those who're buried down here?
Bosco:  Maybe he's a vampire.
Darek:  (looks somewhat offended)
Bosco:  Nah.
Belphanior:  Spill the beans, pal.  We don't have much time to
  bicker with you.
Darek:  I'm just a miner.  A retired miner, but still a miner.
Peldor:  And?
Darek:  (sighs)  Some time ago, I found a passage into these sewers,
  beneath my home here.  So, being skilled at mining, as well as the
  fine arts of thievery-
Bosco:  Aha!  I _knew_ it!
Otto:  (smiles thinly)
Darek:  -I began my own little project, namely, excavating and
  exploring as many of these passages as I could.
Belphanior:  I'll just bet that you know every nook, cranny, and
  secret passage that's here to be found.
Darek:  (nods)  Yep, most of 'em.
Bosco:  We could use you.
Darek:  Use me?  For what?
Belphanior:  Alligator bait.
Darek:  (grimaces, and grips his axe tightly)
Belphanior:  (grins)  Just kidding!
Darek:  Hmph!  (he looks around)  Don't jest about that.  There
  really _are_ gigantic alligators roaming free down here.
Otto:  (mockingly)  Get out of town!
Darek:  (looks eerily serious)
Otto:  Hmm.
Bosco:  Hey, it may be true.  Last time, we saw a _big_ footprint.
Peldor:  Big.  (he uses his two hands to show just how big)  That
  big.
Mongo:  (nods)  That's pretty damn big.
Otto:  I'll be damned.  I always thought that was some kind of joke,
  an urban legend, if you will.
Darek:  As I said, it's not.
Belphanior:  Hopefully we won't end up in a position to find out for
  sure.
Bosco:  I really hope not!
Mongo:  (looks around, wondering if they shouldn't be moving on)
Otto:  (suddenly)  What do you think happened to the sewer workers
  in this area?
Darek:  (looks confused)  What?
Peldor:  All those vanished sewer workers...surely one such as you,
  who roams these sewers daily, knows of this?
Darek:  What the hell are you talking about?  A sewer worker hasn't
  disappeared in...(his brow furrows in thought)...not since last
  autumn.
Otto:  No shit?
Mongo:  Maybe he's lying.
Belphanior:  (eyes Darek)  I don't think so.
Otto:  Me neither.  (he looks around)  We really ought to get a move
  on.  We're exposed on two sides here, again.
Belphanior:  Okay, Darek...whether you know about the missing sewer
  workers or not isn't important.  You're going to have to come
  with us now.
Darek:  (looks at the elf's dark sword, Mongo's hammer, and Otto's
  crossbow)  Do I have a choice?
Otto:  No.

  Onward they went, joined now by the reluctant dwarf Darek.  For
long, tense moments they walked along, finding nothing of interest.

Belphanior:  (looks at the map)  Says here there's another cistern
  up ahead.
Darek:  What?  Let me see that.  (he takes the map, and frowns as
  he scans the thing, muttering)
Peldor:  What's wrong?
Darek:  This map is old...must be.  There's no cistern ahead!
Otto:  You sure?
Darek:  Positive.
Mongo:  Maybe he's lying.  Maybe he's a shapeshifter.
Darek:  A _what_?
Peldor:  Don't worry about it.
Belphanior:  (looks ahead)  Cistern or no, we'll know in a bit...

  As they rounded the right-angle corner, they saw that Darek was
right - there was no cistern here.  Rather, the passage opened into
a twenty-foot square chamber, which had no other exits beside the
passage they had just entered by.  The floor here was several inches
deeper than the floor of the passage had been, as they learned to
their dismay.

Bosco:  Ugh.
Belphanior:  So the map's wrong.  (to Peldor)  Your...friend needs
  to get a new map-maker.
Peldor:  But...I don't understand!  These maps have been perfect -
  better than perfect - so far.
Mongo:  Maybe the shapeshifters built a new section here, or made
  changes.
Darek:  (growing flustered)  _What_ shapeshifters?!?
Bosco:  (sniffing around)  What's that smell?
Peldor:  That would be shit, Bosco.  We're knee-deep in it.
Bosco:  No, I mean something else...(he looks around, at the walls
  and ceiling, then finally turns his gaze to the muck-filled water
  pooled on the floor in here)  Hmmmm.
Belphanior:  (irritated)  You have something to share, Bosco?
Bosco:  The water...it's oily...
Mongo:  And it's draining into here.  So what?
Bosco:  (dips his sword's point into the murk, then raises it to
  his face, sniffing)
Darek:  (to Otto)  He's not planning to _taste_ that, is he?
Otto:  (grimaces)  I sure hope not.
Bosco:  (triumphantly)  Oil!
Belphanior:  You mean like fire-oil?
Bosco:  (nodding)  The nose knows!
Peldor:  Hmm.  Good thing we're not carrying torches.  This place'd
  probably explode like a fireball.
Belphanior:  Yeah...

  It was Mongo who noticed the vague forms that were shuffling
toward the room, from the passage outside.  At least a dozen of
the shapeshifters now crowded at the doorway, three of which
were the larger, stronger variety.

Mongo:  (pointing toward the chamber's only exit)  Holy shit!
Otto:  (cursing)  Ambush...a fucking ambush.  We should have known
  better.
Belphanior:  (alarmed, he goes wand-hunting)  Dammit.
Darek:  What's-  (he gets a look at the foes approaching the room)
  Yie!  What in the hells are _those_?!?
Bosco:  (backing away)  Now you know what shapeshifters are.
Belphanior:  (aiming a wand at the oncoming creatures)
Peldor:  If that thing shoots fire or lightning, try and remember
  that we're standing in a room full of flammable oil.
Belphanior:  Oops.  (he lowers the wand)  Damn, damn, damn.

  The strange, silent, greenish-brown pod-things entered the room,
menacing the trapped adventurers.





next:      the sacrifice
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:     The meeting with Darek, this time, was based on (and
  due to) the dozens of fanmail questions I've received over the
  years, asking who the heck he was and what the heck he was all
  about.  I've always been surprised at how many of you wanted to
  know.

  Fanmail through episode #375:





Just read episodes 372-4. I can see how you had difficulty, but the
end result was worth it. It would have been easy just to rip off the
Hadeus episode.

The tinker was a nice touch of comic relief - it was good that you
didn't fall into the cliche of making him a trap.

Keep up the good work.

Quentin



I think there were too many warrior-types in the Ged quest; and somehow
the suspense wasn't *that* great, I mean, the climax wasn't one of
those shattering ones we were used to (Ahhhh, the final battle on
Oerth-2...).

A comment on something I read in the fan mail, about the change in the
adventurers:  it's true that your characters are becoming deeper, more
complete, more real. Still, it's nice to have some of them caricatural
- like Mongo or Bosco. I think that's why we fans like them so much:P
they're simple, they're pure fun; they get the others moving around
their eccentricities.  One adventurer seems to have lost much of his
original flavor by going from caricature to depth: Peldor. He isn't
anymnore the Peldor that Mongo is always talking about. But Alyindar,
and Ged, and the female adventurers, certainly became much more inter-
esting in the process of 'going deep'.

Waiting eagerly for the 350 next stories...

Thomas



 You hit it pretty much on the money.  A good episode, this.  Of
course, this was just a warmup.  The challenge, when that time comes,
will be to write the wedding itself.  I think just about everybody
thats married has a story or four from their wedding...be it the
rehearsal or the actual event itself.  I know I certainly do, at any
rate.

 Well done.

Tom



Nice way to have Peldor pop the question.  It was all so obvious,
then he nicely threw Tanya off balance.  Beautiful!  :-)

Richard



Great episode....

  You asked how you did ?   Just grand...  very romantic with just the
right amount of humor for Peldor.   You probably could have played the
"nervous suitor" bit up some more but it was Peldor afterall.....

  Do you ever wonder if the Adventurers are starting to expect bad
things to happen ?  I know that in most campaigns I've played in,
family, friends and property are simply too easy a target for the bad
guys.  It doesn't always happen but I always expect it to.  Nothing
like kidnapping the spouse of a player character to start a new and
potentially deadly storyline......

---
Wayne



Good job, Thomas.

Greg



The proposal actually reminded me quite a lot of my own -
don't mail this to the rest of the world!

(stuff deleted  -TM     :)

George

PS still liking the stories, but Ged's adventure seemed a little
too easily dealt with - I don't think Boccob would have called upon
him if there wasn't a bit more thinking and planning involved.  My
character is also a worshiper, though not priest, of Boccob and I
consider Boccob's followers to generally be those who will make
considered decisions, not just wade in there.  I would have thought
that Ged would have spent a lot more time divining the layout and
investigating the occupants before entering the castle, there are
plenty of spells which will help you with that sort of endeavour,
and the resulting  discussions between players based on the half
truths most divinations produce are what make the game for me as
a dm.



Thomas,

        I think you did a great job with #374. My wife and I are
getting ready to go on a trip to celebrate our first anniversary
in the middle of  june, so my memories of the day I asked here to
be my wife are still vivid.
        I really enjoyed the way you had Peldor play a bit of a trick
on Tanya before he asked the question. I did much the same. My wife
knew I had  bought her an engagement ring, but she had no idea when
I would give it to  her.  The whole story had a feel of reality about
it. I think it was enhanced by what we, as readers, knew about the
trouble Peldor had getting the ring earlier.

TM>  Excellent.

        I'd like to thank you for all the work you put into writing
these stories. I absolutely love them. Other than PBEM games I don't
have time to actually roleplay and your stories help me get my "fix"
of the fantasy/AD&D genre.
I've read every one of the Adventurers stories thus far and have never
been  disapointed by a single one. Keep up the good work!

Kyle



An interesting story, this.  Barbarians...now there is one of life's
greatest ironies.  There have been many peoples called barbaric or
savages over the centuries, including the indian tribes of north and
south america.  yet, had the folks from europe listened and learned
from them instead of trying to conquer all, many problems that we have
seen over the years (and, in the case of environmental issues, still
face) might have been lessened or avoided entirely.  then, of course,
there's the art of warfare.  yeah, there were a lot of 'barbaric'
practices in the early days, but i find it fascinating that the
wholesale bombing of civilian populaces is somehow considered more
civilized than the troops having it out in the neighbors field.

ah, waxing philisophical today, must be friday.

tom



No, I thought it was great!  A nice little, check up on Rillen story.
Why do they always need to be in a life threatening situation?
Exactly, they don't.  We care about them...not their battles only.

Patrick



I must admit that this story was nothing like I had imagined. It
provided a lot of background on Songa, as well as her relationship
with Rillen. It was nice to see some clarrification of why Rillen
left the others. And, as always, I enjoyed the fan-mail.

Leonard
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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