Chapter #435

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                                  +
                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +
                                  +

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Belphanior     (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief    (CN) +
+    Otto           8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief        (CN) +
+    Razor Charlie  8th level human fighter                    (CN) +
+    Victoria      11th level female vampiric human fighter    (NE) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/16/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        around midnight                                     +
+  Place:       the remote mountain town of Helgate                 +
+  Climate:     cold and raining                                    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I feel most alive confronting death."                           +
+                                - Jim Morrison, from _The Doors_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                 CDXXXV.  Bloodbath In Helgate





  Using a combination of spells and magical items, Belphanior has
succeeded in driving the brigand band out of the Sword and Cup...

bandit:  (runs out of the tavern's front door, wiping foam from his
  helm - and collides with a skeleton)  Unf!
skeleton:  (grabs the man in a ghastly hug)
bandit:  Aieee!
other bandit:  (sees this as he flees the tavern, and heads another
  way - only to encounter another group of skeletons)  Shit!  (he
  hacks at the nearest of the undead, shattering its ribcage and
  knocking it to the wet, muddy ground)

  As the blazing wagon that Belphanior had fireballed sizzled and
hissed beneath the rain, all hell broke loose.  Bandits, civilians,
skeletons, and adventurers mixed it up in the street.

Belphanior:  (parries a bandit's attack with ease, then whirls and
  cleaves the man's head in half)
bandit#3:  Urgh...(he crumples)
Blackrazor:  (pulses, sating itself)
Otto:  (kneecaps a bandit with a fired bolt)  Shit, I missed.
bandit#9:  (crawling away as a skeleton bears down on him)  Oh, shit!
Razor Charlie:  (hurling knives every which way)
bandit#16:  (falls, his eye pierced)  Aaaaie!
bandit#17:  (falls, a throwing knife protruding from his neck)
  Glrg...
little kid:  (dashes across the battlefield, screaming, and disappears
  into the darkness)
bandit#7:  (swordfighting with one of the surviving town guardsmen)
bandit#13:  (wounds the other guardsman)
town guardsman#2:  (falls, clutching his side)  Argh!
bandit#13:  Hah!  (he raises his sword)
Victoria:  (appears from nowhere, slashing the man's face with her
  fingers)
bandit#13:  (drops his sword as his face is nearly ripped off)  AAARGH!
  (he begins running around in circles, screaming)
skeleton#9:  (silences the bandit with its poleaxe)
town guardsman#2:  (to Victoria)  Thanks!
Victoria:  (turns to him, her eyes gleaming with a hellish crimson
  light)
town guardsman#2:  (recoils)  Wha?!?
Victoria:  (keeping her bloodlust in check, she turns into a bat and
  flies away)
town guardsman#2:  (wondering where she went)
town guardsman#1:  (having slain his foe, he moves to help his fellow
  guardsman)  Here, let's get you to safety-
bandit#19:  (waving a battleaxe)  I don't think so.
bandit#23:  Yeah...we should've killed all of you in the beginning.
bandit#4:  Really.

  As the trio of brigands moved in for the kill, they were suddenly
bombarded by a volley of blazing projectiles...

bandits:  Yagh!  (all are knocked to the ground, one of them slain)
Belphanior:  (fingertips smoking)  Get yourselves to safety, guards.
  This fight's getting out of your league-  Argh!

  The elf had been hit squarely by a tremendous ball of ice and snow,
the blast catching him in the back and driving him forward about thirty
feet.

Belphanior:  Ungh.  (he gets to his knees, shaking his head)  What son
  of a bitch did _that_?

  The elf, saved from serious harm by his previously-cast stoneskin
spell, turned to see a grey-robed wizard standing at the door of the
tavern.

Victoria:  (materializes, blood dripping from her hands)  Are you hurt?
Belphanior:  (stands)  Not really.  It seems that the bandits have a
  wizard among their ranks...
Victoria:  Not for long.  (she instantly transforms into a bat and
  flies in that direction)
Belphanior:  No, wait-

  Nearby...

Otto:  (nails another bandit from afar, thanks to his crossbow)  The
  skeletons are almost wiped out...

  This was true.  The bony undead, though dangerous enough, could yet
be slain by strong sword-arms.  Even though a score of bandits lay
dead, the would-be-invaders had given worse then they got.  Almost all
of the skeletons had fallen, their bones mashed into the muddy streets
of Helgate.

Otto:  (matter-of-factly)  We need more reinforcements.
Razor Charlie:  Hmnh.  (he hurls two throwing knives, taking down an
  injured bandit who staggers nearby)

  Suddenly, a large net was hurled from overhead, dropping down onto
Otto and Razor Charlie's position!

Otto:  (leaps backward, avoiding the falling net)  Whoa!
Razor Charlie:  (not quite so quick, he is snared by the thing)  Shit.
Otto:  (rolls back, coming up on one knee, and fires a bolt upward)
bandit#31:  (falls from the balcony above, crashing through an awning
  before hitting the ground headfirst)
Otto:  Clever, but not clever enough, I'm afraid.  (he moves to free
  the struggling, cursing Razor Charlie)

  Meanwhile...

grey-robed wizard:  (working a spell)
Victoria:  (flying toward him, she changes back to human form and
  pounces toward the wizard, snarling)
grey-robed wizard:  (recoils in surprise)
Victoria:  (driven back by some force)  What?!?

  The grey-robed mage was an older fellow, with a narrow, aged face
tipped with a long, grey beard.  He had already recovered from his
surprise, turning to face the vampiress.

grey-robed wizard:  (sneers)  You cannot approach me, nosferatu.  I
  possess an amulet that keeps all of your kind at bay-
Victoria:  How about this, then?  (in an instant, she rips a section
  of wooden railing free, hurling it at the man)
grey-robed wizard:  Aie!  (he releases his spell just as the wooden
  missiles strikes him, and staggers back)
Victoria:  (finds herself snared by half a dozen writhing, black
  tentacles)  Wha-?
other random tentacles:  (wrap themselves around anything in range,
  including the tavern's railing, a fallen spear, and someone's severed
  arm)
grey-robed wizard:  (struggles to his feet, wiping blood from a gash
  across his forehead)  Ugh.

  Elsewhere...

Belphanior:  (flying around once more, he swoops down and slashes a
  bandit who was about to fire an arrow at Otto)  So much for you.
skeleton:  (one of the few left, it menaces one of the patrons who
  fled the tavern when the commotion began)
Belphanior:  (realizes that the monster isn't intelligent enough to
  have taken his orders literally)  That's not a bandit...(landing,
  he swings Blackrazor in a mighty arc, shattering the skeleton's
  head with a single blow)
young woman:  (recoils in fear)
Belphanior:  We have to get you to safety.  (snatching her up, he flies
  away, toward a second-story deck well away from the fight)

  Nearby...

Otto:  (cutting Razor Charlie free of the net)  Just hang on...
bandit:  (charges, his sword raised)
Razor Charlie:  Look out!
Otto:  (whirling)  Wha-
town guardsman#1:  (wielding an acquired longbow, he sends an arrow
  into the foe's head)
Otto:  Hey, thanks.
town guardsman#1:  No problem.
Razor Charlie:  (rips his way free of the rest of the net, cursing)
Otto:  (struck by a sudden notion)  Where's Kyros?
town guardsman#1:  What?
Otto:  Kyros, the hired mercenary.  I haven't seen him yet.
town guardsman#1:  Didn't you know?  He was killed by the bandits, in
  the Sword and Cup.
Otto:  Shit, really?
Razor Charlie:  (frowns)  Someone will pay.  (he gets to his feet,
  grabs two more knives off of his belt, and dashes toward the inn)

  In the rain-filled sky above...

Belphanior:  (spying a group of more than a dozen bandits in the street
  below, he quickly blasts them with a cone of cold)
bandits:  (all slain instantly, they freeze into grotesque, disturbing
  positions and expressions, the muddy ground around them icing over
  in a twenty-foot radius)
Belphanior:  Bah.  Amateurs.  (he flies over to find that grey-robed
  wizard)

  In front of the Sword and Cup...

Victoria:  (being squeezed by the tentacles)  Ungh...
grey-robed wizard:  (hurriedly working another spell)  I'll get you
  yet!  This lightning-
Victoria:  (dissipates into mist, leaving the black tentacles writhing
  in her wake)
grey-robed wizard:  Hah!  You still can't attack me!  My amulet will-
Razor Charlie:  (hurls a pair of knives into the man's back)
grey-robed wizard:  Wha-  ?!?  (although his stoneskin turns the two
  blades away, he is nevertheless distracted, and his lightning bolt
  shoots straight up into the air, taking out one corner of the
  neighboring building as it goes)  Damn!
Razor Charlie:  (tackles the wizard)
grey-robed wizard:  (goes down like a thin shrub hit by a sharp axe)

  Razor Charlie's specialty was, of course, thrown blades, but he was
also a lean, mean, nasty fellow, and he landed a number of punches on
the foe's face in the space of moments.  One such blow knocked a small,
silvery amulet off of the man's neck, and the thing slid across the
deck, finally falling off the end.

Victoria:  (in an instant, she materializes over Charlie)  I'll take
  care of him now.
Razor Charlie:  (looks up, grimacing, but yields the victim)
Victoria:  (straddles the fallen wizard)  I don't seem to see any
  prized amulet now...do you?

  As the old wizard screamed, again and again, Razor Charlie's keen
eye caught the glint of something, half-sunken in the mud.

Razor Charlie:  (picks up the silvery amulet, glancing in Victoria's
  direction, then walks away, pocketing the thing)  Hnph.



  The battle was dying down, the few remaining bandits all meeting
their ends at the hands of someone or another.  There were battles
in which quarter was asked, and sometimes given; this was not one of
them.
  After things had quieted, Belphanior rejoined his companions in
front of the Sword and Cup, and together, they entered the tavern.

Otto:  Oh dear...another investment down the drain.

  The place was trashed.  Between the carnage wrought by the bandits
and Belphanior's wand-foam, many of the tables and chairs were broken
or ruined.  In one corner stood Rexxus, cradling his broken arm as he
looked around sadly.

Rexxus:  Why my tavern?  Why not some other tavern?  People always
  come here to fight.  Why?  Why does violence flourish around me?
Belphanior:  Pal, you're not the first one to wonder that.
Razor Charlie:  (walks over to examine the body of Kyros, who is, as
  reported, quite dead, his throat slashed from ear to ear)  Damn.
Otto:  They must've found him and killed him before we got here.
guardsman#1:  Yeah...he tried to stop them from attacking some girl.
  He killed three of them before...they overpowered him.
Belphanior:  (to the corpse)  We hardly knew you.  (he reaches out
  and closes the dead man's eyes)  Rest in peace, Kyros - you have
  been avenged.

  Outside, the rain was finally dying down, and in its stead was left
a street full of death and destruction.  Belphanior and Otto wearily
walked out into that street, followed by the others.

Otto:  Would you have really let them go, like you said?
Belphanior:  It doesn't matter now, does it?





next:      Mongo, Rillen, and friends
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
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:     Nope.
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