Chapter #485

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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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Alindyar     17th level drow mage                            (N) +
+    Lyra       13th level female drow mage                     (N) +
+  Belphanior  (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief       (CN) +
+    Otto        8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief           (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                                +
+  Ged          15th/14th level grey elven priest/mage         (NG) +
+    Arnold     13th level human barbarian warrior             (NG) +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven fighter                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven fighter                     (NG) +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human fighter/thief      (N) +
+    Bosco      11th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+  Rillen       17th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        6/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the Isle of the Ape, within some demi-plane         +
+  Climate:     hot and humid                                       +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "My god, look at them all - they're attacking us!"               +
+  "Too bad for them."                                              +
+                                          - the Man With No Name   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   CDLXXXV.  Turning the Tide





  After a deadly ambush, the party finds itself in serious trouble.
Belphanior, Peldor, and Lyra are down, possibly slain; Songa, Rillen,
and Tanya are seriously injured; giant carnivorous apes have closed
to melee range, and dozens of chanting savages surround the party.

Bosco:  Cripes!
Alindyar:  No more!  (wide-eyed, yelling, and waving his now-glowing
  hands, he now stands and faces the attacking horde)  NO MORE!

  A dazzling blast of shimmering colors erupted from the angry drow's
outstretched hands, bathing several dozen of the barbaric attackers -
and three of the apes - in blinding rays of pure light.  The effect
was as instantaneous as it was potent, for the savages fell back in
droves.  Some simply sunk to the ground, dead; others quivered with
pain, screaming incoherently.  A few foes suffered worse effects;
one of the apes was now a statue; another lay in the dirt, howling;
the third had apparently gone insane.

ape#3:  RRRAARGH!  (it runs amok, drooling and gnashing its teeth)
savage:  (finds himself in the way)  Arooga?
ape#3:  (bites the man in the head, tearing away half of his skull
  in a spray of blood)  GRAARGH!
nearby savages:  (fleeing in terror)
Otto:  Good job, drow!
Alindyar:  (frowns, and returns his attention to Lyra)
Ged:  (spellcasting)
ape#4:  (the one whose arm was severed by Arnold)  AAARRrrr...(it
  whirls and flees into the jungle, dripping large quantities of
  blood as it goes)
Arnold:  (waving his sword at the fled foe)  Aaa!  Ah-nold is
  vigdorious!
wispy thing:  (sails after the running ape)  Spfff!
Bosco:  (invisible, he has taken to the air, and busily scans the
  battle below, trying to determine the best course of action)
Mongo:  (whirling about, waving his metal club madly)  Someone come
  get some!  (he leaps toward a charging savage, swinging away)
savage:  Yayayayaya-  (he reels, his jaw and face shattered)  Yyyy...
Tanya:  (wounded, she yet fends off another attacker)  Back, beast!
savage#7:  (its club cut in half, it staggers back dumbly)
Songa:  (impales another charging attacker, with her spear)
savage#34:  (lifted into the air by the big huntress, he wriggles
  like a stuck worm)  Gyaaaah!
Songa:  Bah.  (she flings the man away contemptuously)
Rillen:  (having abandoned any hope of using his bow, he instead uses
  his hands and feet)  Yai!
savage#11:  (flies backward, his breastbone crushed by a well-placed
  kick)  Yaaaaaagh!
savage#18:  Wayayaya!  (he bashes at Rillen with a club)
Rillen:  (grabs the swinging weapon-arm and moves with the attack,
  sending the foe cartwheeling into several others who charge to the
  attack)  Hai!
Gorin:  Hey!  (he charges at one feather-garbed savage who appears to
  be working a spell)
shaman:  (points at the oncoming dwarf, and two snakes, their bodies
  straight like arrows, fly through the air)  Shokota!
Gorin:  Holy shit!  (he catches one of the things on his shield,
  batting it aside; the other hits his leg, biting madly)
shaman:  (laughing)
Gorin:  (doesn't even bother to stop and pull the snake off, instead
  throwing himself at the shaman)  Yaaaaa!
shaman:  (surprised, he stumbles back)
Gorin:  (swings his axe in a mighty stroke)

  Meanwhile, Ged had finally completed his spell; more than a dozen
writhing black tentacles appeared amidst a rank of savage archers.
The barbarians screamed and fled as the ebon tendrils wrapped them-
selves around whatever hapless victim happened to be nearby.  Above,
Bosco spied an old savage, his headdress adorned with many feathers,
working some vile magic.

Bosco:  (muttering as he flies down)  Oh, no you don't...
old witch doctor:  (stabbed in the back by the invisible halfling,
  he falls, screaming)

  In front of the stricken shaman, several small sticks halted in
their transformation into snakes, one half writhing and biting at
empty air while the other half remained a solid, dead piece of wood.

old witch doctor:  (babbling, he suddenly vanishes from sight, even
  as Bosco becomes visible)
Bosco:  Damn.  (he looks around, then flies toward some spearmen,
  formulating a new plan of attack as he goes)

  Nearby...

Gorin:  (holds the shaman's head high, waving it in the direction of
  the savages as he yells insanely)
savages:  Yaaaieeee!  (their morale dropping, more of them flee in
  terror)

  The final blow, however, came from Alindyar.  The drow brought
forth an illusion so real, so fantastic, that even his allies could
feel the heat of its breath and the quake of its tread.

red dragon:  (stands upright, spreading its wings as smoke billows
  from its nostrils)  RRRRRRRROAR!
savages:  (archer, spearman, infantry, shaman, and chieftain alike,
  they all flee in terror)
wispy thing:  (floating above the party, it grins)  Spaaa!

  The battle was over, but a scene of great carnage remained behind.
Dozens of savages, dead by everything from common weapon-blow to
ebon tentacle to prismatic blast, lay strewn about everywhere.  The
adventurers, too, had casualties, which were being fully attended to
now that the rain of missiles and swarms of charging savages were
gone.

Ged:  Boccob!  (he dashes over, sliding through the dirt to Lyra's
  side)  Yea...still alive, good...(he begins working a spell of
  healing)
Alindyar:  Is she...?
Ged:  She's alive, thanks to you...but I've got to get her patched
  up, and quickly.
Alindyar:  Aye...aye.
Rillen:  (binding Songa's wounds)
Songa:  You're next.
Rillen:  I know.
Arnold:  What about Peldork?
Peldor:  (lying there, very still)
Tanya:  He's alive.  (she looks up)  Don't worry about him - he'll
  heal.  He always does.
Mongo:  Me too.  (ignoring his wounds)  I'll be fine in no time.
  (he hefts his metal club)  Damn good fight.
Otto:  (examines the hole in his bicep, which is already healing)
  Heh.
Tanya:  (attending to her husband's wounds)
Ged:  (casting a healing spell on Belphanior now)  By Boccob's ears,
  he's messed up this time.
Mongo:  Nah, he was a lot worse when we were on that Earth world.
wispy thing:  Yrrrp.
Bosco:  (busies himself removing crude gold jewelry from the slain
  foes)  La, da, da da da da, da da, da da, da, da.
Mongo:  (to Ged)  Could I borrow that water-jug of yours for a bit?
Ged:  Sure.  (he hands the precious decanter to the dwarf)
Mongo:  (sprays himself with a blast of cool water)  Ahhhhh.
Arnold:  Aaa, give me that.
Gorin:  (binding his own wounds, he grimaces as he pulls a shaft
  free)  Ow.
Mongo:  You okay, buddy?
Gorin:  Fine...nothing a little rest won't help.
Mongo:  Just the same...(he hands his henchman a potion bottle)  The
  good stuff.
Gorin:  Yeah, but I'll still be okay.
Ged:  I'll be the judge of that, momentarily.  (to Songa)  Come on,
  I need to cast this spell on you.
Songa:  Magic...bah.  I don't trust it.
Rillen:  (lays a hand on her shoulder)  Don't worry, it's okay.
Songa:  No, I don't-
Rillen:  Trust me...please?
Songa:  ...very well.
Otto:  Bosco, stop looting the dead and keep a lookout, would you?
  We don't want to get attacked again, while we're recuperating.
Bosco:  Aw, darnit...(he produces his jewelled telescope and begins
  scanning the horizon, whistling)  Gone, all of 'em.  Must've gotten
  into the woods, because that village is empty.
Alindyar:  Empty?
Bosco:  Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.  (he puts the
  scope down for a moment)  Hey, I like the sound of that...

  Shortly, they decided to move out.  The unconscious - Belphanior,
Peldor, and Lyra - were loaded onto a magical floating disk.  This
thing hovered along behind the others as they marched.  It looked
like the village was less than half an hour's march, and they set
out without further ado.  The heat was worse then ever, especially
given their wounds and fatigue, but they went on because they had no
other choice.
  As they approached the village, the huge wall behind it loomed,
ever-larger.  The ground rose slightly near the village, making the
place easy to see as they neared it.  Sprawling palm groves grew
next to a group of huts, the latter surrounded by a log palisade.
No savages showed themselves; no farm animals darted about; no smoke
from cooking fires rose into the tepid air.  The place was abandoned.

Ged:  But why?
Mongo:  Maybe they were afraid of us.
Arnold:  Aaa.  They should be.
Alindyar:  Perhaps...that illusion was a significant one.
Otto:  I doubt they're afraid of us...or will be for long, at any
  rate.  They had us on the ropes, and they knew it.
Tanya:  We really ought to get away from here, before they return.
Rillen:  A good idea.
Songa:  I favor the jungle...the jungle beyond that wall.  We'll
  have an easier time there than here, in the open...(she glances
  around, ever-vigilant for foes in the surrounding grass)
wispy thing:  (faces the general direction of the grass)  Sprrd.
Otto:  Do you see something out there?
wispy thing:  Nrrrp.
Otto:  Oh.

  They walked through the village, on constant alert for an attack
that simply didn't come.  Whatever their reasons, the dark-skinned
savages had left the village.  The adventurers saw thorn-hedged
gardens, corrals for small animals, trees laden with fruit, even a
large field in which roamed several large, stupid-looking lizards.
There were also, of course, the requisite huts - crude dwellings of
thatched straw.

Songa:  They're not that crude.
Bosco:  (flies up to a treetop and pulls some bananas off)  Yummy.
Tanya:  Bosco, how can you be hungry at a time like this?
Bosco:  It's not me, it's my belly.
Gorin:  Heh.
Ged:  (using a Detect Evil spell on the chance that the wand they
  seek is hidden in the village)  Damn...no such luck...

  The huts formed the village proper - it was these dwellings that
were ringed by the log palisade.  The visitors estimated that the
whole place might house several hundred people, all told.  The other
places - the fields and pens - were outside the barrier; everything
was, in turn, on this side of the gigantic, hundred-foot high wall.
  Most of the huts rested on the ground, but a few were mounted on
stilts; these structures were generally larger than the others.
The adventurers might have explored some of these huts, save for
the other mysteries, closer to the titanic wall.  At the center of
a cleared area rose a slight mound of stone, now worn smooth with
age.
  As they appraoched the wall, they saw that a pair of gigantic doors
were built into its center.  These portals were fashioned of huge
wooden beams, bound with studded bands of some weird purplish metal.
The gates were well over thirty feet high, and perhaps a dozen feet
wide.  A gigantic beam - a single long, thick pillar of wood - rested
in huge brackets, a good twelve feet above the ground.  This beam,
like those that comprised the doors, was made from some unknown but
very dense wood.  The bar was about four feet high and two feet thick,
only slightly larger than the beams of the portals themselves.  Great
rings of crudely-worked metal were attached to one end of this bar.
Thick ropes were looped through these rings, such that a number of
men might slide the bar aside using raw muscle.

Otto:  (touches the groove in which the bar rests, and examines the
  oily substance on his finger)  Some kind of grease...so the bar
  does slide...
Songa:  Probably made from animal fat.
Gorin:  Interesting.

  Leading up to the huge, bound doors were intricately-carven steps
of stone.  To left and right, these continued, merging with the wall
itself while the center section leveled off into the platform before
the doors.  Above the doors, set into the stone of the wall itself,
a crude emblem glared down at them.  The thing bore the likeness of
a primitive, savage face - perhaps an ape.
  To either side of the portals, and for a distance above, the great
wall stood.  It was fashioned of huge stone blocks, perhaps six by
four feet, which appeared to have been set without mortar.

Mongo:  Incredible!

  The blocks were worn and moss-covered, attesting to what was surely
their incredible age.  Based on what they could see from this side,
the wall had to be at least thirty feet thick at its base.  At the
top, almost a hundred feet above, it was still greater than twenty
feet wide.

Alindyar:  Colossal...what a feat!
Mongo:  You're telling me.  Dwarves themselves would be proud of this
  thing!

  To either side, the wall continued, until it merged with the
natural wall of jagged rock that had once been the mouth of this
peninsula.  A flimsy-looking wooden scaffolding had been built
directly adjacent to the wall, on either side of the doors.  This
system of ledges and ladders would apparently allow defenders to
climb to the wall's summit, and fairly quickly.  Atop the wall, a
huge wooden cylinder was just barely visible.

Mongo:  A weapon of some kind?
Gorin:  Looks like a drum to me...a damn big one, though.
Ged:  Nonsense.  Who would beat a drum out here?
Alindyar:  Those savages, methinks.
Rillen:  He's right.
Tanya:  So now what?  We're supposed to go through those doors?
Ged:  Hmm, I wonder if a spell of knocking would work...
Alindyar:  I seriously doubt it.  The area of effect is too small.
Bosco:  Through those doors?  (he frowns)  Gee, I don't know about
  that...
Otto:  Well, it's either the jungle out there, or the savages here.
  (he eyes the village)  Hell, I bet we could make a decent stand
  within that palisade and the huts...maybe even take over the
  village, in time.
Ged:  But what good would that do us?
Otto:  None, probably...it'd be fun, though.
Songa:  (shakes her head)  The jungle, I say.
Gorin:  You're sure it's the safer choice?
Songa:  Nothing's for sure.  (she looks around)  It's a jungle out
  there.
Arnold:  (frowns)  Aaa.
Ged:  You know, we never seem to do well in the jungle.
Rillen:  A vote, then?  As in the old days...
wispy thing:  Aaarp?

  A vote was taken, among the ten conscious party members.  The show
of hands was six for the forest, three for the village, and one who
didn't much care.

Ged:  Very well, then...(he looks up at the huge bar)  By Boccob, I
  hope we're not doing the wrong thing here...
Mongo:  (grabs the ropes at the end of the thick bar)  I can get this
  by myself...giant strength, hah!  (with a mighty tug, he pulls the
  rope-bound metal loop, and the bar slowly slides to one side)  Ung!
Alindyar:  Here we go...
Belphanior:  (awakens suddenly, sitting up with a start)  Where am I?
  What's going on?
Otto:  We drove back the savages, waltzed through their village, and
  we're about to go through these titanic doors into the unknown
  jungle beyond.
Belphanior:  Excellent.  (he rolls off the invisible disk, standing
  shakily)  Ow.
Mongo:  Welcome back.  (he tugs the bar, moving it another few feet)
Belphanior:  (looking around, he frowns)  Why do I get the feeling
  we're going out of the frying pan and into the fire?





next:      into the jungle!
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:     I didn't get 500 done by my 5th anniversary of writing
  (11/4/96) but 485 is pretty damn close.  If my PC hadn't died,
  I might have done it.
    Still, this one's being posted on 11/4/96, five years to the
  day after episode #001 was released upon an unsuspecting world.
  Happy 5th, Adventurers!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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