Chapter #496

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                                +   +
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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                    +
+                           +
+  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:        6/26/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       a waterfall on the Isle of the Ape                  +
+  Climate:     cool but humid                                      +
+  "Do you always talk this much?"                                  +
+  "Not always...but often."                                        +
+       - the Borg-queen & Data, from _Star Trek:  First Contact_   +

                     XDVI.  The Beast's Lair

  The adventurers have just spent their most secure night yet, camped
behind a massive waterfall.  As the morning sun sends rays of light
through the watery barrier, the party prepares to move out.

Ged:  Today we find that big ape.
Gorin:  Hopefully we can beat him.
Mongo:  What kind of talk is that?!?  I beat one of the little apes
  all by myself...and I'll beat the big one too!
Rillen:  Beware such overconfidence, or you may not live to regret
Mongo:  I'm not worried.

  They had eaten breakfast already, and it was a simple matter to
pack up and break camp.  After leaving the falls, they proceeded in
an eastward direction, per the witch doctor's directions.  Though
they wondered how they would find the lair of Oonga, given the sheer
size of the island and the density of the jungle, it didn't turn out
to be a problem.

Songa:  (bending down over a large hole)  Hmm.
Bosco:  What are you looking around in that pit for?
Songa:  It's not a pit.

  Indeed, it wasn't.  An oddly-shaped but still five-toed indention
in the jungle floor, the depression was unmistakably the footprint
of a gigantic, humanoid creature.

Ged:  An ape...
Songa:  (nods)  And other tracks lead away.  (she points)  I think
  it's safe to say that these prints will lead us right to the
  beast's lair.
Mongo:  Good.
Belphanior:  Judging by the size of these prints, the ape must be at
  least twenty feet tall.
Mongo:  The smaller one I fought was twenty.
Belphanior:  Oh.
Otto:  Look at the distance between its strides...that's one big
Gorin:  Be-he-what?
Alindyar:  A gargantuan animal, to be sure.
Lyra:  We'd better make sure to devise a quick, hard-hitting, and
  potent attack - otherwise we might not beat the thing.
Peldor:  I was kind of hoping we could sneak into its lair...avoid
  a fight altogether.
Mongo:  Why'd we want to do that?
Belphanior:  Really.  The bigger they are...(he frowns)  The more
  guts they have.
Tanya:  (frowns distastefully)
Peldor:  True, true.  But if we can just sneak our way into its
  lair...find what we came for...and leave.  (he snaps his fingers)
  Just like that!  And nobody gets hurt.
Songa:  A good, if unglorious plan.
Rillen:  It makes sense to me.
wispy thing:  Spaaa.
Otto:  What do you know?  You never join the fight anyway.
wispy thing:  (looking rather put out)  Sprrd...
Belphanior:  Hmm...Peldor's plan does make sense.
Peldor:  It's not a plan...not yet.  Just an idea.
Alindyar:  We shall have to see what we can do with it, when the
  time is right.
Arnold:  (in his heavy, bulky armor, he nearly trips and falls in
  one of the massive footprints)  Dambit.

  Onward they trekked, eating lunch this time while still on the
move.  Nobody wanted to have to wait until nightfall to face the
great ape.

Tanya:  (eyeing a piece of bread as she walks)  Ugh.
Peldor:  Mold again?
Tanya:  Mold again.  (she tosses the food aside)
Songa:  (catches this in the corner of her eye, and spins about)
  What the hell are you doing?!?
Tanya:  (confused)  Pardon?
Songa:  (picks up the bit of bread, scowling)  Do you mean to have
  every predator in the jungle on our trail?
Tanya:  Oh.  Er...sorry about that.  I wasn't thinking.
Songa:  You'd better think - we had all better - or we may not even
  make it to the ape's home.  Remember, we're not there yet.
Tanya:  (falls back, wordlessly)
Bosco:  (notices the uncomfortable silence that follows, and decides
  to do something about it)  Hey, did anyone ever hear the one about
  the lion and the rabbit?
Otto:  (to Belphanior)  She was a little hard on Tanya.
Belphanior:  Yeah...hard times call for hard people, though.
wispy thing:  (playing tag with some rather large mosquitos)  Pfsss!
mosquitos:  (in their play, they come too close to Peldor, and are
  repelled forcefully)  Bzzzzz.
wispy thing:  (mocking the bugs)  Bzzzz.
Peldor:  (talking with Ged)  -and then I'll try again.  Or maybe I'll
  just set up shop in some other city.
Ged:  That's a lot of investment to lose, though.  You've got a lot
  of equity built up in the inn.
Peldor:  Sometimes, that equity seems all but useless.  (he grins)
  Hey, maybe I could start a _chain_ of Green all the
  major cities.
Ged:  Yea, now there's an idea.
Peldor:  Just think:  a weary traveler, upon stopping in any of
  the capitals of the central Flanaess, could rest assured that he
  or she would have the finest accommodations and dining.
Ged:  But there's only one Leonardo.
Peldor:  (frowns)  A mere triviality.  What about you?  Are you
  taking good care of my worshippers?
Ged:  I wouldn't go so far as to call them 'worshippers'...
Peldor:  Why not?  They worship me.
Ged:  (shrugs)  I've never caught them.
Peldor:  Maybe you never will.  No matter, the beat goes on.  So,
  what are _you_ going to do once this is all over?
Ged:  You mean once we get back to Oerth?
Peldor:  Right.
Ged:  I have no idea?
Peldor:  Uh-oh.  Problems on the home front?
Ged:  Well...Nenya and Deryck are managing the estate just fine.  No,
  better than that.  They don't need me.  I don't need to be there.
Peldor:  Who are you trying to convince?  Yourself?
Ged:  Maybe.  While it goes without saying that the people need my
  spiritual guidance - especially those worshippers of the false god
  Peldor, I might add - I am not content to simply remain there and
  deal with mundane matters.
Peldor:  (somewhat confused)  So...what exactly are you saying?
Ged:  I'm saying that perhaps the time has come for me to move on,
  roam the world, having adventures.
Peldor:  You're not doing that already?
Ged:  Yes, I am.  And you know what?  (he gazes skyward)  I don't
  miss the other life at all.
Peldor:  Oh.
Ged:  Sometimes I feel that I could do more - so much more - as a
  roving agent of Boccob.
Peldor:  You do more for the party as a whole, that's for sure.
Ged:  Bah.  I cannot know for sure what Boccob wants.
Peldor:  Well, he's the "uncaring one", so that should make your
  life a little easier.
Ged:  Why has the service of an uncaring god turned out to be so...
Peldor:  I don't have the answer, my friend.
Ged:  Neither do I.  (he sidesteps a massive track in the leaf-
  strewn jungle floor)  Neither do I.

  Even if the footprints hadn't been there, the trail of Oonga was
still easy to follow.  The great ape had smashed a wide swath
through the jungle, knocking trees aside and flattening underbrush
with his mighty tread.  The path of destruction led through the
jungle for an hour, then entered a flat, grassy plain.  A couple
of hours later, the trackers entered a rugged, hilly region.  Only
one thing was constant:  the footprints of the beast, which led
them across all of these terrains.  It appeared that the wanderings
of Oonga knew no bounds.
  And then, just like that, they came upon their destination.  At
first, though, it wasn't obvious...

Songa:  Whoa...(she stops to take in the view)

  The huntress, and quickly the remainder of the party, was looking
at a large inland lake that sprawled ahead of them.  The tracks of
Oonga ended at the shore of this lake.  The body of water lay at
the foot of a large mountain, which towered over everything around.
It was truly an impressive sight.

Ged:  Where'd the footprints go?
Songa:  They just stopped...there.  (she frowns)  Which means some-
  thing is afoot.
Rillen:  (chuckles)
Tanya:  (groans)
Belphanior:  If I still had my magical eye, I'd get to the bottom
  of this.
Alindyar:  Who is to say that we still cannot?  Perhaps an enchant-
  ment will enable us to see more than meets the eye.  (he begins
  some spell)
Ged:  What in Boccob's name are you doing?
Alindyar:  What does it look like?  I am discerning if an illusion
  exists here or not.
Ged:  (unable to see anything, as is the point with illusions)
Lyra:  Just be quiet and let him work.
Songa:  That may not be necessary.
Tanya:  Pardon?
Songa:  (examining the mountain's base, she pushes and pulls at the
  stone outcroppings)
Bosco:  Hey, I know what she's up to!  (he waddles over and begins
  helping her)
Peldor:  This is too good an opportunity for the great Peldor to
  miss out on...(he joins them in their explorations)
wispy thing:  Pffft!  (it vanishes into a tiny crack in the wall)
Belphanior:  Hey.
Alindyar:  (frowns)

  Before Alindyar finished his spell, the three searchers had found
something.  A section of the mountainous wall, when touched, seemed
only semisolid...

Alindyar:  (walks directly into the area - and through it!)
Gorin:  Damn.  I knew he was powerful, but I didn't know he was
  _that_ powerful.
Mongo:  But...if he walked through that wall...then it must not
  really be there.

  Indeed, the rugged stone wall was shimmering...shifting...and then
it was gone.  In its place, a huge hole gaped in the rock face.  At
least forty feet wide and high, it had to be an entrance.

Belphanior:  An illusion?
Alindyar:  Aye, and a powerful one at that...but not quite powerful
  enough.  Once the disbelief set in, all of you could see it for
  what it really was.
Songa:  (standing ten feet inside the fake wall, she stares into the
  cavernous darkness ahead)
Otto:  Hey, before we go waltzing in there, maybe we should fall back
  and formulate a plan.
Peldor:  A good idea, especially if the big ape is home.
Mongo:  To hell with that.  I want to go in now.
Ged:  Remember the dinosaur that ate you...
Mongo:  Ah, he just got lucky.
Rillen:  Well, we might not.  (to Songa)  come on, let's think this
  one through.
Songa:  (frowns, pondering)  Probably a good idea.
Tanya:  (to Peldor)  See, I knew she could show some restraint.
Peldor:  It's not like she charges into battle all the time.
Mongo:  (eyeing the cavern expectantly)  C'mon out of there, you.
wispy thing:  (also gazing into the dark depths)  Sprrd.
Gorin:  (grabs Mongo's shoulder and tries to pull him back)  I know
  you want to whip some ass, but be reasonable.  The majority rules.
Mongo:  Reasonable?  Me?
Bosco:  Hey, if I can do it, you can too.

  The party retreated, working their way around the mountain until
they found a steep but climbable path leading upward.  A short while
later, they stood in the shelter of a small cave, a good hundred
feet above the ground.  From here, they could see anything that came
or went from the wide cavern entrance below.  Now, the time was ripe
for a plan of attack.

Mongo:  I say we charge in there, weapons blaz-  err, swinging.
Alindyar:  I say we send scouts, either real ones or spells, to
  scout the area.
Belphanior:  (smirks)  I say we launch four fireballs into the cave,
  simultaneously.  That would incinerate anything living in there.
Lyra:  What if there's a red dragon within?
Belphanior:  (frowns)  Well, almost anything.
Tanya:  Don't forget that those fireballs would melt any treasure
  in there.
Bosco:  (looks horrified)  We can't have that.
Ged:  Maybe a combination of these strategies is best.
Arnold:  Combindation?  But how?
Ged:  Simple.  We send in scouts...but keep fireballs ready.  If
  we have to launch them, then we can immediately follow that with
  a wave of warriors.
Mongo:  I like it.  The third part, anyway.
Bosco:  That still doesn't solve the melting-the-treasure part...
Gorin:  And who will do the scouting?
Ged:  (glances at Peldor)  Who, indeed?
Peldor:  Aha!  It must be a job for the mighty Peldor!
Arnold:  Aaa.

  Before long, they decided that it was a job for more than just a
single scout.  Peldor, Bosco, and Belphanior were elected, chosen,
or volunteered for the dangerous duty.

Songa:  (angrily)  I should go too.
Belphanior:  Not this time.  In the jungle and the plains, you're
  the best we have.  But here, indoors and in a cavern, it takes
  professional thieves to get the job done.
Bosco:  That would be me.
Peldor:  (to Tanya)  Don't worry, we'll be fine-

  Just then, a deep rumbling shook the rock beneath their feet.
A few of them peered over the edge of their cave's ledge, and
beheld a sight that would have stopped an army in its tracks.  A
gigantic form, more than thirty feet in height, lumbered from the
cave mouth below.  There was no doubting the identity of this huge,
powerfully-muscled simian beast.

Oonga:  (looks around, sniffing the air)  GRRR...(he suddenly rears
  back on two legs and beats its chest repeatedly)  GRAAAAAAAAARGH!

  The reverberations nearly deafened the adventurers, and it was all
they could do not to panic.

Gorin:  (watching the great ape, dumbfounded)
Mongo:  (pulls the younger dwarf back, so that his head isn't visible
  from below)

  Oonga sniffed the air experimentally for a moment, then turned to
the nearby jungle.  Falling to all fours, he loped away into the
thick trees, his form towering over them.  Before the awed watchers
knew it, the monstrous ape was nothing but a shrinking brown speck
on the horizon.

Belphanior:  Fuck!
Mongo:  I think that about sums it up.
Ged:  Boccob...what a beast.  (he frowns)  I wonder where Zagyg found
Gorin:  Maybe the thing's an it.
Bosco:  (shaking his head)  Nope, it's a boy ape.  (he looks at the
  others)  I saw.
Tanya:  You must be very proud, Bosco.
Arnold:  He, she, it...the abe is still a midhty foe.
Peldor:  No doubting that.  Good thing he took off like he did.
Rillen:  Good for us.
Songa:  (still shocked at the sheer size of the animal)
Otto:  One thing's for sure:  there's no hiding from that thing if
  you're in the jungle.  (he looks out, in the direction Oonga went)
  Did you see how he walked across the trees as if they were no more
  than short grass?
Lyra:  I saw, all right.
Ged:  Actually, another thing's for sure:  if we're going to invade
  his lair and look for the wand - and a way home - now is the time.
Alindyar:  Aye.  We may not get another such opportunity for days.
Songa:  (eyes the sky thoughtfully)  We only have a couple of hours
  until dusk.  I'd guess that the ape won't hunt after dark.
Belphanior:  What are we waiting for, then?
wispy thing:  (hovering over the elf's head)  Spaaa!

  As fast as they could, the adventurers hurried down the rocky trail
and into Oonga's lair.  The illusionary mountain face was still "in
place" to the naked eye, but after the first couple of them walked
through it, the barrier dissolved into nothingness.

Alindyar:  A note for the future:  Oonga may be immune to illusions.
Ged:  Or at least this one.

  A quick spell of light provided the party with a clear view of the
cavern.  Just inside the entrance, the roof of the place was well
over fifty feet high - sufficient space for a monstrous ape to walk
about unhindered.  Great heaps of rubble were scattered here and
there.  Almost a hundred feet into the caverns, divergent paths
presented themselves.  To the left was a much narrower passage,
barely ten feet in width.  To the right yawned a thirty-foot wide

Bosco:  (eyeing the smaller tunnel)  That big guy sure didn't come
  from _there_.
Ged:  But the question we have to ask ourselves is, does he have
  treasure in there?
Belphanior:  You mean would the big "O" put his wand where Oonga
  could get it?
Ged:  Our friend the demon lord had nothing to do with the wand's
  placement here.  You can thank the powers of Good for that.
Otto:  (looks upward)  Gee, thanks, powers of Good.
Ged:  Knock it off.
Otto:  (muttering)  Why don't you make m-
Alindyar:  Enough of this petty bickering!  Shall we explore the
  ape-less passage, or the other?
Bosco:  I say the small one.  (he wanders in that direction)
Mongo:  We could split up, y'know.
Rillen:  I wouldn't advise it.
Lyra:  He's right.  Suppose one group suddenly finds the way out
  of this demi-plane?  They won't be able to take advantage of it.
Ged:  (nodding)  We need to keep our group together.
Peldor:  The small passage, then.  If the ape's loot isn't there,
  we can always come back out...and if the monster returns, we'll
  be safe.
Songa:  Or trapped...
Gorin:  A dwarf is never trapped underground.  (he goes after Bosco)

  They moved into the narrow passage, marching two abreast.  At
times, the tunnel widened, but then narrowed again.  After a short
distance, it split again, into similar, twenty-foot wide passages
to left and right.

wispy thing:  (darts out of the left passage, chirping loudly)
Ged:  What's he trying to tell us?
Belphanior:  I think he's warning of some danger...
Arnold:  (steps forward, past Bosco)  Danger is my middle name.
Bosco:  You don't even have a last name!
Mongo:  C'mon.  I'm not gonna let Bosco lead the march into that

  Just as the party entered a wider area of the passage, there was
a rustling from above.

Songa:  Eh?  (she raises a spear)
giant lizard:  (falls from the wall, landing on its back on the
  cavern floor)  Grunk!
Mongo:  What the hell?!?
giant lizard:  (rolls over, righting itself, as several others like
  it scurry down the walls, trying to surround the party)  Grunk!

  These reptiles were somewhat smaller than those encountered on
the log-bridge a couple of days ago.  Still, they meant business.

giant lizard#2:  (snaps at Bosco)
Bosco:  Whoa!  (he leaps back, dodging the huge fanged maw by mere
  inches and somersaulting as he goes airborne)  Monsters ahead!
Mongo:  Back!  Everyone back!  (he backs up, swinging his club at
  any foes that approach)
Belphanior:  Why the hell are we retreating?
Mongo:  Because-  (he bashes a charging lizard across the face)
giant lizard#3:  (recoils, its facial bones shattered)  Grunk!
Mongo:  -because back where the passage is smaller, we only have to
  face one lizard at a time!
Bosco:  (trying to fly away without scraping his head on the stony
  ceiling)  Good plan!  Good plan!
Gorin:  (chops at another darting lizard, but misses by a foot)
Belphanior:  (shoots a gout of flame down the passage, over Mongo's
lizards:  (screaming in frustration)  Gruuuuunk!

  The adventurers successfully moved back to a point where the big
lizards could only come singularly.  The first one that tried,
however, met Mongo's club and Gorin's axe, and quickly fell back
with potentially mortal wounds.  After that, the things merely
hissed and growled at the intruders.

Lyra:  Maybe we should put a wall of force they don't come
  at us from behind, later.
Ged:  Yea, a worthy idea.
Mongo:  I've got a better that won't make you cast a spell
Alindyar:  You seek to help us conserve our arcane power?
Mongo:  Just because I don't cast spells doesn't mean I want you to
  waste yours.
Songa:  Hmm.
Mongo:  (eyes the rocky tunnel wall)  Arnold, take my place next to
  Gorin, while I collapse this passage.
Arnold:  Ridht.  (he moves up, his sword raised toward the hissing
  lizards in the dark passage)  Aaa?  Collapse the padsage?

  Mongo eyed the rock for another moment, then swung his club with
all his giantish might.  The passage's walls shook as chunks of
stone flew everywhere.

Otto:  (looks down at a shard of rock that just lodged in his leg)
  Ow.  (to Mongo)  You could put someone's eye out like that!
Mongo:  (yelling to everyone, most especially Arnold and Gorin)
  Back!  Get back!

  The warriors did, and not a moment too soon; the lizards' passage
caved in with a rumble of shattered rock and a cloud of dust.  As
he had been trained to do in his youth, Mongo had succeeded in
bringing down just enough of the surrounding rock to block the
passage, without collapsing the entire cavern.

Mongo:  (stands back, admiring his handiwork)  Haven't lost my
Tanya:  That was...incredible!  Where'd you learn how to do that?
Mongo:  In the mines, when I was a kid.  It's one of the classic
  giant-fighting skills.  That's also why I wanted to back up to
  the narrower part of the tunnel.
Songa:  A...useful tactic.  I will have to remember it, for the
  next time the giants attack my homeland.
Rillen:  (frowns)
Belphanior:  Good job, in any case.
wispy thing:  (flies out of the rubble that now fills the passage)
Otto:  (to Belphanior)  Next time, we should listen to him.
Belphanior:  (nods slightly)
Peldor:  Let's get back to the other passage...before you-know-who
  decides to come home.

  They did, and quickly found that the main right-hand passage split.
Its right fork was a narrow one that led to a small cavernous area,
while its left fork remained thirty feet wide and arced away into a
rubble-strewn passage that ended at a fifteen-foot high ledge.  The
small tunnel to the right was investigated, and led into a steam-
filled room with no floor.  The ledge where the passage ended and
the chamber began was precarious indeed...

Gorin:  (leans over the edge, and catches a whiff of volcanic fumes)
  <ghak>  (he reels back, coughing)
Mongo:  Lucky you didn't fall in...who knows what's down there?
wispy thing:  (flies over and down, into the shaft)  Pffft.
Belphanior:  We can come back here and explore if we have to, but
  I doubt that this place leads anywhere.
Ged:  Agreed.  Let's get back to the main path - time is of the
Tanya:  What about the wisp?
Belphanior:  He'll come back.  He always does.

  The main passage was, as noted, covered with rubble.  This debris
varied from small, egg-sized rocks and smaller pebbles to huge

Songa:  (to everyone in general)  Careful as you ascend.  One bad
  step can mean a broken ankle.
Bosco:  I'll just fly, thanks.  (he does so, carrying the iron spike
  that was earlier imbued with a light-spell)
Tanya:  (to Peldor)  Doesn't he already have an item that makes
Peldor:  Yep, but he probably figures he can keep this one too.
Lyra:  Too bad for him, then, since the light will fade after several

  The ledge was sheer, but the party's thieves had little trouble
scaling it, and found another rubble-strewn section of passage atop
it.  After a short distance, there was another ledge, similar to the
first.  It was followed by yet more rubble, and then a third ledge.
Thus, after a couple hundred feet of tricky terrain and three ledges,
the adventurers emerged into a large cavern.

Mongo:  We must be fifty feet above ground level...maybe more.
Belphanior:  Of course, those ledges would be nothing to the ape.
Otto:  (loads his crossbow, thinking of Oonga)  Man, what I wouldn't
  give for a ballista right now.  It'd be worth the trouble of
  lugging it around, I think.

  The cavern had a roughly domed ceiling, almost a hundred feet
above their heads.  Lengthwise, it was even larger, and averaged
a good eighty feet in width.  Barely visible at its far end was a
new pile of rubble, which ended in a ledge twice as high as the
three previous ones.  At the top of this natural wall, a passage
seemed to angle around to the right.

Peldor:  I hear hissing...
Bosco:  (shines the light-spike around, as if he could aim its rays)
giant snake#1:  (perhaps ten feet long, it slithers out of the dark-
  ness, right toward Mongo)  Sss!
giant snake#2:  (likewise appears, heading for Arnold)  Ssss!
Mongo:  (without even a curse, he charges forward, smashing at his
  foe with the metal club)
giant snake#1:  (bashed, it twitches violently, white matter oozing
  from its crushed head)  Ssssssssssss...(it dies)
Belphanior:  (to Otto)  His strength never fails to amaze me.
Otto:  Right.  (he fires his aimed crossbow, sinking a bolt into
  the second snake's head just as it reaches Arnold)
giant snake#2:  (wounded, its attack goes wide, the venomous fangs
  scraping Arnold's leg-armor)
Arnold:  No fair!  (he slashes once, decapitating the big serpent)
  Who shot him?
Otto:  Sorry, just trying to help.
Arnold:  Aaa.  (he kicks the writhing, severed snake-head aside so
  that it doesn't bite anyone reflexively)  It's okay.

  Bosco flew about, checking the cavern for further monsters.  There
were none, and shortly, the party had climbed the wall (with the
help of the thieves again, particularly Bosco.)

Songa:  (reaches the top on her own)
Peldor:  Damn, where'd you learn to climb like that?
Songa:  In my native land, it's a good skill to have.
Tanya:  You could have been a thief.
Songa:  No thanks.  I prefer battle.
Peldor:  Hey, thieves fight in battle!  Just not as much...
Songa:  I'm sure they do.

  The area atop the ledge contained some old, decaying droppings,
though they couldn't tell if the stuff was left by lizards or apes.
A new passage did indeed lead to the right, a wide tunnel in which
most of the party could stand abreast.  This passage led for more
than a hundred feet before arcing around to the left, making it
essentially a giant, flattened 'S'.  Several side tunnels were seen
and explored, but none of these led farther than fifty feet or so,
and all were empty.

Ged:  Looks like Oonga pretty much lives here alone.
Bosco:  (wondering if the great ape ever brings any of the smaller,
  female apes here for the night)

  The final leg of the huge (and slightly ascending) passage opened
into a gigantic cavern.  This chamber made the previous one seem
tiny in comparison, for in some places its ceiling couldn't be seen!
Basically roughly rounded in shape, the area was well over a hundred
feet across in any direction.  Its center was supported by a massive
natural column, no less than thirty feet thick and stretching all
the way to the cavern's ceiling.
  Unlike the other chambers, this one was dimly lit - pale shafts
of sunlight shone through a collapsed section of the area's ceiling.
Several smaller side passages were dwarfed by a forty-foot wide
tunnel at the area's northern edge, and it was this path that the
party chose.

Peldor:  (points at a gleaming skeleton to the northeast)  What's
Songa:  A skeleton?  Is this a trick question?

  The thing had undoubtedly belonged to something massive, but it
had also been badly damaged.  Teeth marks and fractured bones were
commonplace on the pale skeleton.

Belphanior:  Guess this pretty much kills the chances of Oonga
  being a herbivore.
Mongo:  A what?
Alindyar:  One that eats only plants and leaves.
Mongo:  Bah.
Songa:  The north would seem to be the way to-

  All movement and conversation ceased then, for a loud, echoing
roar came from somewhere distant, yet not distant enough.

  Oonga had come home.

next:      Oonga
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     Purely for your own reference, the dinosaur that was
  in the huge central area with the column was supposed to be a
  "tanystropheus" - probably in the 1st edition monster manuals,
  but I was too lazy to dig them up.  My dinosaur encyclopedia
  lists only the "tanystrosuchus" which, while a carnivore, was
  "poorly known" and "named from a tail vertebra which may have
  belonged to the small carnivorous dinosaur Halticosaurus..."
    Just some trivia for you.

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