Chapter #396

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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:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Bosco        11th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven fighter                     (CG) +
+  Date:        4/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the svirfneblin city, far beneath the surface world +
+  Climate:     moderate and dry                                    +
+  "Every guilty person is his own hangman."                        +
+                                           - Seneca (4 BC-65 AD)   +

                 CCCXCVI.  Grimlok's People

  Mongo and Bosco are currently "guests" of the svirfneblin - the
deep gnomes - and their king, Grimlok.

Mongo:  Did you say "shapechangers"?
Grimlok:  (nods)  Call them _tyrlakni_, we do.  Means "formless ones."
Bosco:  So you've seen them too.
Grimlok:  Seen them, we have.  A bad sort...
Mongo:  Did they come down here, or did you find them up in the sewers?
Grimlok:  Stray from above, sometimes they do.  Trouble they are.
Bosco:  Did they ever get into your city here?
Grimlok:  Unsuccessful have their efforts been.  Command the powers of
  illusion, the svirfneblin do!  (he waves his arms emphatically)  Heh,
  fool us they cannot.
Mongo:  Wait, wait.  You're saying that you can see through their
Grimlok:  (nods vigorously)  Learn this they did, the hard way.
Mongo:  So you could help us see who's a shapeshifter and who's not!
Bosco:  Hey, big deal.  _I_ can do that, using my ring of x-ray vision.
Mongo:  You can?
Bosco:  They look find and dandy on the outside, but inside, they're
  still plants.
Grimlok:  Plant-life they are, yes.  More intelligent by far, than
  any other plant-life.
Mongo:  Where'd they come from?
Grimlok:  From the bowels of the world, the shapeshifters climbed.  No
  mortal can know.  (he frowns)  Will never know.
Bosco:  What do they want?
Grimlok:  (shrugs)  Survival, like everything else.  Problem they are,
  however.  Death for other races, survival for them is.  Is curse of
Mongo:  They're definitely not a friendly species.
Grimlok:  Fight them, our people have.  More than once. Always we win
  by superior numbers and magic.
Bosco:  Magic's good.
Mongo:  Well, we ran into a bunch of them...killed a lot, the rest got
  buried...(to Bosco)  Hell, they may not all be dead!
Bosco:  What can we do about that?
Mongo:  (thinking)  If Peldor and Otto aren't dead, they may get dead
  quick, if there're shapeshifters about!  (to Grimlok)  We need to
  get back up there and find our friends.
Grimlok:  Caved in, you were.  (he smirks)  Scouts checked.  No path
  back up to sewers, is there.
Mongo:  Fuck.
Bosco:  How're we gonna rescue them, then?
Mongo:  We'll think of something.  We always do.
Grimlok:  (seeing that the two adventurers have recovered all their
  items, he heads for a doorway, turning back to beckon to the pair)
Bosco:  What now?
Grimlok:  Surprise for you, we have.
Mongo:  Oh, great.  I hope this isn't anything like the last surprise.

  Grimlok took them to a nearby workroom, within which several deep
gnomes were hard at work, tinkering with various devices of strange,
wondrous types.  As the svirfneblin king approached one work-table and
the gnome who toiled there, Mongo's eyes widened in recognition.  The
arcane necklace upon the table was his!

Mongo:  That's my adaption-necklace!  What are you doing to it?!?
Grimlok:  Damaged, it was.  Else you would not have fallen to our
Mongo:  (finally adds it all up)  Yeah!  It must've been smashed in
  the cave-in.
Bosco:  (eyeing the necklace)  That thing protects you from harmful
Mongo:  Gases, and a whole lot more.
Bosco:  Hmm.
Grimlok:  (to the gnomish tinkerer)  Fixed yet, is it, Sludj?
Sludj the tinkerer:  Fixed it is, yep.  (he hands over the necklace)
  All busted up, it was, and good.  But fix it Sludj did.
Grimlok:  Knew you would, I did.  (he hands the item to Mongo)  Good
  as new, you'll find it.
Mongo:  Err, thanks.  (he examines the necklace closely)  Damn!  You
  can't even tell that it was ever damaged!
Sludj:  (grins, clearly taking pride in his work)  Test it, you wanna?
  Just made up a batch of new gas-globes, I did-
Mongo:  No, that's okay.  I believe you.
Bosco:  (looking around)  What is this place, some kind of wizard's
Sludj:  Wizards, no.  (his eyes brighten)  Tinkerers, we are.  I am.
Grimlok:  (spreading his hands, as if to explain)  Make good and
  wonderful creations, svrifneblin do.  Especially fine are those
  built by Sludj.
Sludj:  Use earth-magic...lost magic, I do.
Mongo:  Hmm.
Bosco:  Hmmmmmmm.
Grimlok:  Come along, now.  Time to go on, it is.  (he heads for an
  arched doorway, beyond which another chamber is visible)
Bosco:  (takes Sludj aside)  Hey, listen, about those gas-globes...

  While Bosco and Sludj bartered their little hearts out, Grimlok
led Mongo through the underground warren.  Mongo couldn't help but
be impressed; when it came to digging and building things, the deep
gnomes seemed almost the equal of dwarves.  Their passages and rooms
were sturdy, fashioned with skill and care and designed in a logical,
yet interesting layout.  About the time Bosco caught up with them,
Grimlok took Mongo into a shrine-like area of some sort.  The ceiling
here was relatively high - over ten feet - and various carvings were
assembled, lined along the walls.  Mongo and Bosco figured that these
stoneworks were the equivalent of the tapestries and murals common to
the temples of the surface world.
  Atop a stone slab was the ruined form of Darek Halfplow, clearly
beyond help.  However, on the slab next to him rested Belphanior,
more color in his cheeks than before!

Grimlok:  (to a somber-looking, grey-robed priest)  What news, Slagg?
Slagg the high priest:  (gestures to the remains of Darek)  Far beyond
  repair, that one is, though working on him I still am.  As for the
  elf...well, just look at him.
Mongo:  What the-
Belphanior:  (sits up)  Ow.
Bosco:  He lives!
Slagg:  Of course he lives.  His wounds were serious, but I've worked
  strong juju on him.
Belphanior:  Juju?  (he flexes his arms)
Grimlok:  Welcomes you, the kingdom of the svirfneblin does.
Belphanior:  Thanks.  And thanks for saving me - I won't forget it.
Mongo:  (glares at the elf)  I oughtta punch you!
Bosco:  (to Grimlok)  Uh-oh.
Mongo:  -but we need your help.  Things have gone from bad to worse,
  and Peldor and Otto are missing in action.
Belphanior:  (sets his jaw, and stands up, only to immediately lean
  against a wall for support)  Ungh...
Slagg:  You can't just get up off the table and run away, you know.
  Your body has to rest, and heal itself.
Belphanior:  Yeah, yeah.  (to Mongo)  I think you'd better fill me

  Mongo did just that, with some help from Bosco.  Belphanior listened
intently, asking few questions.  Grimlok, too, listened to the dwarf's
summation of recent events.  After all, these matters could conceivably
concern him and his people, and the king wished to be prepared.

Mongo:  -and now we're here.
Belphanior:  Hmm.  (he ponders for several long moments)  I guess the
  first thing is to get topside...get some more help.
Bosco:  You don't have the magic we need?
Belphanior:  Some of it, but Ged's better with scrying spells, and
  the drow - Alindyar at least - are more skilled at moving about
  magically.  Besides, we'd do well to have more spellcraft at our
  disposal, before fighting shapeshifters again.
Mongo:  Why'd you cause that explosion?
Belphanior:  I'd rather not talk about it.
Mongo:  We're going to talk about it-
Belphanior:  No, we're not.  (he begins walking out of the room)
Bosco:  Where're you going?
Belphanior:  To find a way out of-

  A loud, ringing horn of some kind sounded then, its next blasts
coming on the heels of the first.  The echoes of the strange sound
rung in the confined tunnels and chambers of the deep gnomes.

Mongo:  (grips his hammer)  That's an alarm, isn't it?
Bosco:  What the heck's going on?
Grimlok:  (looks worried)  Being attacked, we are.  Defend the city,
  I must.
Belphanior:  (looking around the temple chamber, he finally focuses
  on Grimlok)  There's battle to be done...where's my sword?
Grimlok:  Have it, Sludj does.  In the armory.  Come, quickly!

next:      bane of the svirfneblin
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     The basic plot for this, you'll remember, came from a
  dream I had.  Episodes #381-390 or so arose directly from that.
  The rest of the plot and ideas were/are extensions of the dream.
  Judging by the fanmail that's been pouring in, this is a _very_
  popular storyline.

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