Chapter #416

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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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Unwanted guests, The Company of Nine (now Six):                  +
+                                                                   +
+  Aggro the Axe       4th level human fighter                 (CG) +
+  Arkayn              4th level human cleric of Trithereon    (LG) +
+  Arlanni             2nd level human female thief             (N) +
+  Gutboy Barrelhouse  6th level dwarven fighter               (CN) +
+  Blastum             4th level human magic-user              (CN) +
+  Sarnath             5th level human magic-user              (NE) +
+                                                                   +
+                                                                   +
+  Freshly deceased:                                                +
+                                                                   +
+  Abner          5th level human magic-user                   (LN) +
+  Balto          1st level human monk                         (LN) +
+  Barjin         4th/5th level half-elven fighter/magic-user   (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/9/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       Belphanior's castle, above Helgate                  +
+  Climate:     chilly                                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education,     +
+   or by legislation.  Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't    +
+   help being stupid.  But stupidity is the only universal         +
+   capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and   +
+   the execution is carried out automatically and without pity."   +
+                                                   - Lazarus Long  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





            CDXVI.  Ledges, Battlements, And Barracks





  Following their fight with a troll on a precarious stairway, and
the loss of the monk Balto, the party now faces a gigantic statue
of iron...

Sarnath:  That is no statue.
Gutboy:  (sticks a thumb in Aggro's direction)  Tell that to him.
Aggro:  (half-conscious)  Ungh...
Arkayn:  Sarnath, what exactly are you saying?
Sarnath:  The thing is a golem...an iron golem.
Arlanni:  It looks pretty tough.  Do you think we can-
iron golem:  (climbs upward, one step, slowly and ponderously)
Blastum:  Yaa!  (he backs up several feet)
Gutboy:  Hell...(he grabs Aggro's limp form and drags it up the
  stairs)

  They all backed up, until they were safely out of the thing's reach.

Arlanni:  It's coming after us!
Sarnath:  I don't think so.

  Indeed, the golem was merely standing at the landing, blocking any
descent.

Arkayn:  It's forcing us upward.
Blastum:  That's one way to look at it.  Maybe a blast of-
Sarnath:  Nothing will stop that golem.  Nothing we can do, anyway.
  (he suddenly punctuates the point with a pair of magic missiles
  from his wand)

  The glowing projectiles bounced off the golem's iron skin, without
any effect.

Sarnath:  We'll never get back down that stairway.
Blastum:  A guardian, then...
Arkayn:  (nods)  Its assigned task would seem to be guarding that
  stairway.
Sarnath:  After we passed that point, anyhow.
Blastum:  Maybe after we passed it multiple times...
Arlanni:  (rather upset)  We're trapped in here, then!
Blastum:  Not entirely.
Gutboy:  Huh?
Arkayn:  We can still go upward.
Blastum:  You're right.  Upward...
Gutboy:  Why not drop a heavy piece of something on the thing?  A
  couch, maybe?
Aggro:  Or an organ.  (he grimaces as he gets to his feet)
Arkayn:  Are you okay?
Aggro:  I'll live.  Shit, that thing packed a helluva punch.
Blastum:  To answer the question, no, a couch wouldn't stop it.  Those
  golems can break through stone walls with ease.
Sarnath:  (nods)
Gutboy:  We've been had.
Arkayn:  It would seem so.
Arlanni:  Damn!
Gutboy:  (he looks around)  I don't like being had.
Blastum:  Then let's get even - by finding that bastard warlock and
  blowing his head off with a fireball!
Aggro:  Yeah!

  They turned upward once more, and began their ascent.  As predicted,
the iron golem didn't follow, simply staying where it was.  After a
climb of about forty feet, the stairway opened onto an outdoor ledge.
This height (a hundred feet above ground level) was also the height
at which the walls' roofs ended in battlements.  They could see three
different ledges leading away from here, providing castle defenders
easy access to various places.

Gutboy:  Except there aren't any defenders.
Aggro:  Not the normal sort, at least.

  There was also a locked door, and the stairway continued upward.



                       to parapets
                        on outer wall
                            |  |
                            |  |  ______                N
                ___________/ __ \/ ____ \             W + E
  to parapets   ____________/  \  /    \ \              S
   on inner castle              ;   *   | \___
                                |       |  ___  to parapets on
                                 \_____/  |      outer wall

*   hollow spiral stairway
;   single door

Arlanni:  (peering over the edge, into the darkness, trying to see
  the golem somewhere below)
Blastum:  Where to now?
Aggro:  I'd say either check the door, or keep going up.  All those
  ledges outside may ring the top of the castle, but no warlock's
  gonna hide out there.
Arkayn:  Agreed.  Arlanni?
Arlanni:  (still preoccupied with the gaping shaft)  Eh?
Gutboy:  How about getting that door open?
Arlanni:  Huh?  Oh, yeah.  (she begins examining the door's lock)

  After several tries, the slim thief had the lock picked, and the
party entered the guardroom beyond.  It was empty, but another door
led out, opening into a hallway with many doors.  For the next few
minutes, the adventurers explored these doors, and the rooms beyond.
This was a relatively easy task, for almost all the rooms were empty
barracks, obviously not used for years.  However, one door - a double
door - led through a pillared hall into an observation room.  This
chamber had a massive window that offered a view of the front court-
yard.  The glass was cracked and pitted; they could feel the cold
wind blowing through numerous gaps.


                         to parapets
                          on outer wall
                              |  |
                              |  |  ______
                  ___________/ __ \/ ____ \     <---- NE corner of
to parapets  _________________/  \  /    \ \           inner castle
 on inner   |        |   |   |    ;   *   | \___
  castle    |        |   |   |    |       |  ___  to parapets on
            |____ __.|__.|__.|\_./ \_____/| |      outer wall
            |    |_____________  |        | |
           [                   : |        |   ditto
           [      _____________| |
            |____|.___.___.______|
            |      |   |   |
            |      |   |   |
            |______|___|___|

*   hollow spiral stairway
;   single door
.   single door
:   double door                                           N
[   large window                                        W + E
=   stairs down                                           S


Sarnath:  More boredom.
Blastum:  Damn warlock's probably getting ready to catch us off our
  guard.
Arkayn:  I suppose the stairway will take us up...to the next level.
Arlanni:  Do we have to?
Gutboy:  Don't think we've got much choice, girl.
Aggro:  Then let's go get him!  If we die, we die, but I've had just
  about enough of this aimless wandering and getting ambushed!
Blastum:  (nods)
Arkayn:  (wearily)  All right, then.  Up we go...

  They returned to the stairway, but before they renewed their ascent,
Arlanni insisted on scouting the parapets.

Arlanni:  I want to make sure.  (she dashes away)
Aggro:  Sure?  Sure of what?

  The thief roamed the nearest reaches of the ledges, and learned
that the castle itself (at this altitude) was much smaller than it
had been on lower floors.

Arlanni:  We just explored most of this floor, and I couldn't see
  any way into the other part.
Arkayn:  What about the floors above us?
Arlanni:  It goes up for another couple hundred feet, but it narrows
  a whole lot, and soon.  We may be in for a lot of climbing, but
  not much exploring.
Gutboy:  Bah.
Blastum:  We're narrowing in...that damned wizard...
Sarnath:  It is past time that he paid for his crimes.
Aggro:  Well, let's go make him pay.

  With that, the six companions began to climb once more.





next:      a climactic encounter
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/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:     Well, as I write this, it's August 2nd.  In mere days,
  the 1996 Olympics will be over.  I'm not sure how I feel about
  that, though.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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