Chapter #391

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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) +
+  Mongo          18th level dwarven fighter                   (CG) +
+    Bosco        11th level halfling thief                    (CN) +
+                                                                   +
+  Darek Halfplow      dwarven miner and thief                  (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the sewers beneath the Free City of Greyhawk        +
+  Climate:     warm, damp, and smelly                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Faith is the stuff you wouldn't believe in if you were in       +
+   your right mind."                                               +
+                                                 - Archie Bunker   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  CCCXCI.  From the Ashes





  After being cornered and outnumbered by shapeshifters, Belphanior
had done something that no one - not even his companions - expected
him to do.  Invoking his wand of fireballs amidst an oil-slicked
section of sewer, he ignited an explosion of tremendous proportions.
While Peldor and Otto, closest to the chamber's sole entryway, were
blown relatively clear, the others - Belphanior, Mongo, Bosco, and
the dwarven miner Darek Halfplow - suffered a different fate.
  Unbeknownst to Peldor and Otto, who survived and eventually escaped
the underground maze, the floor of the room had been weak and rather
unstable from years of erosion and shifting.  Belphanior's explosion
had finished the job, causing the entire chamber to collapse and sink
into the depths of the earth.
  Now, in an air pocket buried an indeterminate distance beneath the
lowest sewers, something stirred.  A huge boulder trembled, quivered,
and finally rolled aside.

Mongo:  (stands up)  Fuck!

  The dwarf looked quite the worse for wear.  His once-shining armor
was completely covered in dust, and pebbles and dirt flowed from his
helm and greaves.  His beard and face were similarly filthy, and blood
flowed from numerous wounds.  Despite the tons of rubble and the
complete collapse of the chamber, Mongo had survived.  After all, his
armor was indestructible, and he possessed the strength of a giant,
not to mention regenerative powers.
  Knocking a chunk of masonry off his shoulder, Mongo looked around
for signs of his companions.  There was no light in this chamber, but
his infravision would suffice to locate the others - if they were
alive, anyway.

Mongo:  (yells out to the darkness)  Hello?  Can anyone hear me?
  (realizing that he doesn't have his hammer, he panics at this new
  problem)  Anyone?!?

  Frowning in the darkness, Mongo thought about his hammer.  Stormcrest
had been torn from his hands right before the explosion, which meant
that it could be just about anywhere.  The dwarf wasn't used to being
without the weapon; when he threw the enchanted hammer, it always
returned unerringly to his hand, but this was different.
  Or was it?

Mongo:  (concentrates, thinking of Stormcrest coming back to him, and
  opens his hand instinctively)

  There was a rumbling, and in the pitch-darkness, something pulled
free of the rubble, hurtling through the air to land in Mongo's
outstretched hand!

Mongo:  Ah!

  Suddenly, perhaps motivated by the commotion, a soft sigh of pain
issued from somewhere nearby...

Mongo:  (grips the hammer tightly)  Who's that?
voice:  Ungh...oh, my aching head...
Mongo:  Bosco?!?

  Suddenly, a bright light appeared from nowhere, causing the dwarf
to shield his eyes.  When he recovered enough to see more than stars,
Mongo spotted Bosco, sitting against a large boulder.  The halfling
clutched one of his light-pebbles, and though he was covered with
dirt and slime, he appeared to be relatively uninjured.

Mongo:  Bosco!
Bosco:  (looking irritated)  Of course it's me!  Who else would it
  be?
Mongo:  No, I mean...how the hell'd you survive that explosion?
Bosco:  (shrugs)  Just lucky, I guess.  (he brushes dirt out of his
  hair)  Uck.
Mongo:  (just stares in amazement)
Bosco:  (wipes sewer slime from his cheek)  Okay, I've had enough.
  I want out of here!
Mongo:  Uh, Bosco, it won't be that easy.
Bosco:  (looking around, for the first time)  Hey, where's Peldor
  and Belphanior and the others?
Mongo:  That's one of our problems.
Bosco:  Heck, no problem at all.  (he gazes at some rubble)  With
  my x-ray vision, we'll find 'em in no time!
Mongo:  I hope you're right...(he surveys the pocket of air around
  them)

  They were trapped in a small, rubble-lined cavity, about fifteen by
ten feet.  Mongo frowned, looking around.

Mongo:  We're lower than we were...we've fallen.
Bosco:  Fallen?  But how?
Mongo:  Weak floor, maybe.  That explosion could've done anything...
Bosco:  Wouldn't a collapsing room cause a sinkhole, creating a hole
  all the way up to the surface?
Mongo:  Nope, not necessarily.  The way this place is built, nothing
  could take out a bunch of floors at once.  Some might've collapsed
  with us, but I doubt the whole sewer system could, or would.
Bosco:  Oh.
Mongo:  Now what happened to everyone else?
Bosco:  Buried under tons of rock and dirt, probably.
Mongo:  That's what I'm afraid of.  Still, we have to look - and the
  digging won't hurt, either, because we're going to run out of air
  soon.
Bosco:  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  But first, the others.  If they're anywhere near us, our best
  bet is to try and find them first.  Take that x-ray vision you're
  always bragging about and impress me, wouldja?
Bosco:  Right.  (he begins examining the borders of their air-pocket)

  Within moments, the halfling located the first body:  Darek Halfplow.
Once Bosco had spotted the body, it still took Mongo some time to move
the rubble out of the way.  The dwarf had been crushed, his head
smeared into jelly between two huge chunks of rock.  His body was hardly
worth carting away for burial.

Mongo:  (shakes his head)  Fuck it.  He marched with us, he fought
  with us.  The least we can do is bring his body back and give him
  a decent burial.
Bosco:  (sniffing around at the wreckage cleared en route to digging
  Darek out)  Hey, here's someone else!

  More quick debris-clearing by Mongo unearthed the burned, beaten,
bleeding form of Belphanior.  Miraculously, he was still breathing,
though weakly; the elf suffered from dozens of cuts and bruises, in
addition to his burns.  Acting quickly, they freed his body from the
rubble, fed him a potion of healing, and bound his wounds.  Despite
all this, Belphanior remained unconscious and still, clearly at
death's door.

Bosco:  One lives, one dies?
Mongo:  Or maybe two die - let's try and prevent that.

  While Bosco searched for Peldor and Otto, Mongo opened his portable
hole.  Wrapping Darek's body in cloth sheets, Mongo put the corpse in
the extradimensional space.  Belphanior was similarly stashed, though
with more padding and care.  There was enough air in the hole for him
to breathe, unconscious as he was, for a while at least.  Also, inside
the hole, his body was safer and more stable than outside, perhaps
being dragged along on a makeshift trellis.

Bosco:  ...as long as we don't forget he's in there.
Mongo:  Don't worry, I never forget things like that.  (he regards the
  bodies in the hole, which is still open, to let air circulate)  So
  where're the others?
Bosco:  (looks upset)  I can't find anyone else!
Mongo:  What?!?  They've got to be here!
Bosco:  They're _not_!  I've looked all around, and I can't find any
  sign of them!  (uncharacteristically, he punches the wall, sending
  pebbles to the floor)  Damn!
Mongo:  We've got to keep looking - they're here somewhere!
Bosco:  (nods)

  They spent ten more minutes trying to find some trace - any trace -
of their other friends, but had no luck.

Mongo:  Fuck!
Bosco:  Where could they be?
Mongo:  I don't know, Bosco.  Maybe they got incinerated by the
  explosion-
Bosco:  (looks horrified)
Mongo:  -or maybe they found an air pocket, like this one.  I just
  don't know!
Bosco:  (looks at Belphanior's battered body)  It's all _his_ fault!
  (he looks as if he might jump down into the hole and attack the
  comatose elf)
Mongo:  (holds Bosco back)  Calm down.  It's not his fault-
Bosco:  Yes it is!  He pulled that fire-stunt!
Mongo:  He had to do something.  It might not have been the best
  thing, but it got the shapeshifters off our backs.
Bosco:  (feels his head, where shapeshifter head-tendrils were just
  recently attached)  Ugh.

  For a moment or two, they just sat there, pondering the possibilities
and options.

Mongo:  Okay.  Let's work on finding a way out of here, then we'll
  figure out how to find Peldor and Otto.
Bosco:  No, we can't just leave them-
Mongo:  Bosco, there's nothing we can do right now.  We don't have
  wizards to find them.
Bosco:  What about Belphanior?  Wake him up and get him to do it!
Mongo:  If we wake him up, he may die.
Bosco:  Damn.  (he looks around, clearly agitated)  Damn!
Mongo:  (blinks as his own eyes water)  Don't worry, Bosco.  (he grips
  the halfling's shoulder)  We'll find them.  I promise.
Bosco:  (sighs)
Mongo:  Have faith, Bosco.
Bosco:  (sighs again)  I'm trying.
Mongo:  (folds up the portable hole, and pockets it carefully)  Now
  let's see if this old dwarf can still find his way out of a cave-in.

  Careful not to dislodge any large rocks - for those were probably
the ones holding the pocket in place - Mongo began to tunnel upward.
He put his hammer away, using his bare hands to move the rubble.  He
was greatly aided by his giant-strength, and Bosco moved behind him,
clearing smaller bits of stone and generally staying out of the way.
Due to Mongo's dwarven stone-sense, and at least a measure of luck,
the pair soon stumbled upon a tunnel.  The rough-hewn passage was
definitely no sewer-pipe, but at the same time, it was no natural
rock formation.

Mongo:  Someone or something dug this tunnel...(he looks both ways)
  C'mon, let's see where it goes.
Bosco:  (in a completely unspirited tone of voice)  Yeah.

  The two adventurers headed off to the right, the glow of Bosco's
light-pebble casting a flickering pallor on the bare rock.





next:      underground denizens
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 went to DragonCon '96 this weekend...I got a bunch of
  old TV show episodes...Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Night
  Stalker, Battlestar Galactica.  I also bought a couple of Jackie
  Chan movies, a couple of Godzilla movies, and four movie scripts
  (Alien, Army of Darkness, The Usual Suspects, Highlander.)  All
  this and our new-apartment party too!  Marc (Peldor) and his
  better half were there.  Another of our college buddies went and
  got married.  We're a dying breed.  Sigh.
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