Chapter #452

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Halbarad         13th level human ranger                    (NG) +
+    Zephyr         wild tiger                                  (N) +
+  Mongo            18th level dwarven fighter                 (CG) +
+    Gorin           9th level dwarven fighter                 (NG) +
+  Peyote           11th/12th level half-elven warrior/druid    (N) +
+                                                                   +
+  Kup Swiftfoot    halfling thief                              (N) +
+  Relmar           human high priest of Pelor                 (NG) +
+  Date:        5/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       an ancient crypt within the northern Vesve          +
+  Climate:     chilly and musty                                    +
+  "What is it with you guys?  We're standing.  They're             +
+   not.  What more do you want?"                                   +
+                             - Johnny Cage, from _Mortal Kombat_   +

                  CDLII.  Realm of the Rotted Ones

  After some initial explorations into the mysteries of the crypt,
the party has survived a deadly boulder trap - only to be faced by
a pack of hissing, bloodthirsty undead fiends!

Kup:  (standing right in front of the doors)  Yiiiie!  (he fiddles
  with a ring, and instantly becomes invisible)
Mongo:  (to Halbarad)  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Halbarad:  Probably close enough...(axe and hammer whirling, the two
  lead party members assault the nearest ghouls)
Mongo:  (too close for hammer-throwing action, he instead swings
  Stormcrest at a sniveling, drooling foe before him)  Stop your damn
  slobbering, pusnuts!
ghoul:  Rg-  (its head is torn clean off by the blow, and lands amidst
  the ranks behind it)
Mongo:  Good, I like you better that way.  (backing up, so as not to
  get outflanked and surrounded, he swats a second ghoul, knocking it
  back with a caved-in chest)  And stay down!
Halbarad:  (stabs at a clawed hand as it gropes for him, and holds the
  claws at bay while his battleaxe strikes)  For the forests!
ghoul:  Glrk!  (its head split in two, it gurgles and spews vile blood
Mongo:  Hey, not too shabby.

  Meanwhile, the others were contributing, each in their own way...

Gorin:  (recognizing Relmar's holy chants as anti-undead measures,
  he moves to protect the cleric from any ghouls that might attack
Peyote:  (likewise)  Whoa there, rotten dude!  (he severs the arm of
  a ghoul that lopes past him)
ghoul:  Yeaaaa!  (it falls, writhing)
Gorin:  Ugh.  (he brains the thing with a well-placed axe blow)
other ghoul:  (pounces in the dwarf's direction)  Sssslth!
Gorin:  Away, you!  (he catches the thing with his backswing, ripping
  a gash across its chest and driving it back)  Cripes.
Peyote:  Yo, watch the side-
other ghouls:  (moving around the dwarf, they hiss at Relmar)  Ssss!
Relmar:  Too late, abominations of the underworld!  (he raises his
  holy symbol, and it glows brightly, causing the monsters to cover
  their eyes)
ghouls:  (hissing in pain)
Relmar:  (steps forth, square-jawed)  BEGONE!

  A most amazing thing happened then:  more than a dozen of the foul
monsters simply...dissolved.

Peyote:  (pauses in his melee, as his foe crumbles into dust)  Far
ghouls:  (the five who remain)  Sss?  (they suddenly feel very, very
Zephyr:  (snarling, he adds to their problems, leaping into their midst
  with claws slashing and fangs rending)  GRAARGH!
ghoul:  Blrk!  (it sails back, gutted)
other ghoul:  (ripped in two by a powerful swipe of the cat's claws,
  its halves scramble away with quickly-decreasing strength)
Kup:  (invisible, he slashes at the exposed back of a ghoul)
ghoul:  (sliced right down its rotting spine, it falls, twitching in
  wild convulsions)  Hsss-
Kup:  (his second blow splits the thing's face wide open)

  For some reason, the halfling was still invisible, as a nearby ghoul
learned the hard way...

ghoul:  (falls as its leg is severed at the knee)  Aaarg!  (it claws
  at the air, hoping to catch its assailant)
Kup:  (still invisible)  You'll have to be faster than that, ghoul.
  I've been at this for a long time...(he pads away silently)
Peyote:  (takes a ghoul's raking claws on his armor, then elbows the
  thing in the face)  Ix-nay!
ghoul:  (staggers back)
Peyote:  (slashes the thing, dropping it)  Told ya.  (he surveys the
  scene of battle)  Guess we win.
Halbarad:  Aye.
Zephyr:  (sniffing its claws disdainfully)  Rrr...
Mongo:  (standing amidst the gore-splattered scene, he looks around)
  Shit, these guys were wimps!
Gorin:  (wiping his axe with a piece of ragged cloth)
Relmar:  Yes...ghouls are fearsome foes, in large packs and to those
  who don't know how to fight.  But to the initiated of Pelor, they
  are merely distractions.
Kup:  (appears)
Peyote:  Hey, little buddy, was that a ring of invisibility you used?
Kup:  Maybe.
Peyote:  'Cause if it was, how'd you stay invisible the whole time?
Kup:  (shrugs nonchalantly)  Let's just call it my little secret.
Peyote:  Oh. that way.  (he chews on a mushroom)
Halbarad:  (snatches the fungus away)  I think you've had enough of
Peyote:  My last 'shroom.  Bummer.

  They entered the ghouls' chamber, which was quite obviously their
lair as well.  Relmar and Kup poked around in the slain undeads'
mess, the halfling looking for treasure, the priest looking for
something unknown.

Mongo:  (to Gorin)  Man, this Relmar guy's sure different from Ged.
Gorin:  Tell me about it.  Ged's loud, arrogant, and flashy.  This
  priest is just cool and efficient.
Mongo:  I miss Ged, though.  Hell, we haven't gone adventuring with
  him since...hmm, now when _was_ it?
Gorin:  That holy quest for Boccob?
Mongo:  Yeah, that must have been it.
Gorin:  Might be interesting to travel with him sometime...see if
  he's changed.
Peyote:  What're you dudes talking about now?
Gorin:  Nothing much.  Any exits?
Halbarad:  Two - and both of them bear the marks of recent activity.
Peyote:  That means that little undead feet were a-tapping here in
  the last few days?
Halbarad:  It does seem likely.
Peyote:  Okay.  (he wanders away to examine the ceiling, where the
  occasional root pokes through the stone construction)
Mongo:  (pondering the exits from the chamber)  Hm, where to now?

  Both Relmar and Peyote seemed edgy and concerned, even though the
skirmish with the ghouls had ended in victory.

Peyote:  Something's...not right.  Downright ill, to be sure.
Relmar:  (nods)  This was only a minor test.
Mongo:  What?  What is it?  You guys are starting to worry me.
Peyote:  The's dying, around this place.  Now it all makes
  sense...the rotting trees, the dead brush, no animals...(he grimaces
  as he thinks about the pain of the forest and all in it)
Relmar:  Yes.  I sense a _great_ evil here...somewhere.
Gorin:  But where?
Mongo:  And if so, what's all this about?
Relmar:  From the looks of things, my guess is that someone wanted
  the upper section of this place to seem vacant...perhaps as a
  cover for whatever we may find as we explore further.
Kup:  I agree.  This is sure to get more dangerous.
Peyote:  No problem, dude - danger's my middle name!
Mongo:  Enough talk.  Let's get to it.
Halbarad:  (nods grimly)  We have work to do.

  They chose one of the exit passages, and walked along it for a
short time.  The corridor led to some others, a criss-crossing maze
of passages that quickly had them confused.

Peyote:  (scratches his head)  Call me flabbergasted.
Kup:  That's okay, your other name's shorter.
Halbarad:  (frowns)  This place makes no sense, and seems to have no
Mongo:  (mutters to himself)  Kinda like some of the quests we go on...
Gorin:  (looks around, rubbing his beard)  Hmm.
Kup:  (gazing about)  I can figure this out.  I'm sure I can.
Mongo:  Do you know something we don't?  If so, spill it-
Relmar:  Don't bother him.  Kup's rather good with maps and mazes,
  but he'll need a few moments to get his bearings.

  As if to validate the priest's words, the halfling turned toward one
of the passages, entered it, and kept walking.  They followed him with
tentative steps, wondering if he was really as good as Relmar claimed.
Before they could find out, though, a low hissing sound made Peyote
(who was at the rear of the party, to keep Relmar from being exposed)
whirl about, sword raised.

Peyote:  (eyes wide)  Whoa!

  Behind the group floated a severed human head, its eyes rolling
about with a strange, spooky un-life of their own.  The mouth hung
open, its tongue lolling to one side.  As the others turned to see,
three more of the things rounded the corner, joining the first.
Within moments, all four pairs of eyes had focused on the adventurers.

Halbarad:  (at the front of the party, he senses something behind
  him, and turns)  Look there - more foul foes!

  From the other direction now approached about a dozen disembodied
hands, their pale, dead flesh dully reflecting Relmar's magical light.
The hands crept along on the ground, slowly but surely, and there was
no bypassing them unless one was quite a leaper.

Kup:  They've got us surrounded!
Mongo:  Fuck that.  No floating heads and crawling hands are gonna
  stop us!

next:      strange new undead
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     They killed Vampirella.  They really did it.  I just read
  all about it in the comic where it happened.
    Of course, these days, death in comic books is about as lasting
  as a clean, spotless, gleaming waxed car.  Kudos to the folks at
  Image/WildStorm, who killed off Deathblow and intend for it to be
  permanent.  It ranks up there with Phoenix as one of the classiest
  death stories of all time (though she's been resurrected since

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