Chapter #497

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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:        6/26/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        near dusk                                           +
+  Place:       the lair of Oonga, on the Isle of the Ape           +
+  Climate:     cool and dry                                        +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I thought you stopped it!"                                      +
+  "I slowed it down.  Nothing can stop it."                        +
+                                               - from _Daylight_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                        XDVII.  Oonga





  After sneaking into and exploring the cavernous lair of the great
ape Oonga, the adventurers have just realized that the beast has
returned home...

Gorin:  Oh, shit.
Belphanior:  We need a plan...a plan of attack.
Tanya:  Maybe we should have thought of that before we waltzed in
  here.
Otto:  Not too late...never too late.  (he looks around, sizing up
  the terrain around the group)
Alindyar:  I shall place a wall of fog at the entrance to this
  section of cavern.  (he begins spellcasting)
Lyra:  I'll stand ready with a wall of fire.
Ged:  Fire?
Lyra:  Most animals fear fire.
Otto:  If we had a gigantic rope, we could make a gigantic snare...
Peldor:  That's about as likely to work as a gigantic pit.
Belphanior:  We should be thinking about how to kill the ape, not
  slow it down.  When he comes around that central pillar, I'll
  change the rock under his feet to mud.
Ged:  I can stand ready with a dispel magic...that should trap him
  in place.
Mongo:  (somewhat disturbed)  And what about all the rest of us?
  What are we supposed to do?
Alindyar:  (glances at the dwarf)  Hide.  Or lat least keep out of
  the way.
Mongo:  (glares at the drow, muttering)  Fat chance...

  The magi made their preparations, while the others sought cover.
Otto found a niche, some twenty feet above the floor of the cave,
and laid a number of poisoned bolts out on the shelf within easy
reach.  Down on the cavern floor, Gorin and Mongo positioned them-
selves behind a large pile of loose rubble, where they were soon
joined by Arnold.  Rillen and Songa retreated to the northern exit,
where they could fire arrows and hurl spears from a place where
they couldn't be trapped by the ape.  By standing on large rocks
there, they had a clear path of fire over the heads of the spell-
casters, who were grouped about fifty feet to the south.  Tanya
accompanied Rillen and Songa: not possessing a missile weapon, she
was unsure where she could be either of use or safe.
  Peldor and Bosco both turned invisible, the latter flying up to
a higher altitude.  At Peldor's urging, Ged cast another spell
before preparing his magic-dispelling dweomer.  A narrow but deep
trench was excavated across the northern exit, between the Rillen-
Songa-Tanya trio and the magi.

Peldor:  You never know, it might buy us precious moments.
Ged:  Perhaps so...(he joins the other wizards)
Belphanior:  (inspired, he casts a mirror images spell on himself
  before readying his other spell)
Lyra:  We should spread out a bit...so as not to offer a grouped
  target to the ape.
Alindyar:  Right you are.
Belphaniors:  Which one of me are you talking to?  Heh heh.
wispy thing:  (flying around aimlessly, obviously excited)  Sprrd...
Belphaniors:  Why don't you go southward and see where the ape is?
wispy thing:  (nods, and flies away)  Fssss!

  They could hear the ape coming.  Hell, they could _feel_ the ape
coming.  The ground trembled, slightly at first, then moreso as the
beast approached.

Belphaniors:  I don't believe it!  He's coming right for us!
Lyra:  All of us...even the six of you.
Belphaniors:  (smirking)
Ged:  Maybe he knows we're here.
Alindyar:  Most lower animals are known to have rather keen senses
  of smell, and-
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Not now, dear.

  With nothing else to do, they dug in and waited for Oonga to
show himself.  Alindyar's fog-wall hung, shrouding the southwestern
ledge - the direction from which the great ape would certainly come.
Belphanior (and all of his images) waited, poised to cast his rock-
to-mud spell.  Until he had done so, everyone else was to hold their
actions.



KEY:

_ = 10'
# = rock
% = rubble
& = old dinosaur skeleton
a = northern position (Rillen, Songa, Tanya)
b = magi position (Belphanior & images, Ged, Alindyar, Lyra)
c = rubble position (Mongo, Gorin, Arnold)
d = sniper position higher up (Otto)
    (Peldor, Bosco in there somewhere, invisible)
z = anticipated Oonga entry point

                                <----more unexplored caverns to north
#             ######    ########
###          ######      #######
#              ###     # #######
####        a   #    ### #######
#########              #########
############          ##########
#############          #########
############          ##########
###########     b    ###########
############        &   %%######
#######  # #           %%% #####
#####          ##      %%c  ####
######        ##        %%%  ###
#########                %######
########                ########
#########d                ######
##########               #######
###########       #        #####
#####           ###         ####
###            ###           ###
#######       ######       #  ##
######       ###  #       ######
#####         #  ###        ####
####                         ###
                             ###
                            ####
z                            ###
                           #  ##
                           #####
## ###               #####  ####
####                ##  ### ####
###                      #######
                                <----cavern's other end, to south



Mongo:  (concealed in the rubble with Gorin and Arnold)  Remember,
  wait for my signal...
Gorin:  Gotcha.
Arnold:  Sig-naaal.  (he scans the area to the south, expectantly)
wispy thing:  (zooms out of the southwestern entrance)  Braaaaft!
Belphanior:  (points at the wisp)  I bet he's not alone...

  The cavern floor shook then, as a huge form pulled itself over
the ledge and clambered into the cavern.

Oonga:  (looking around as he swats the strange fog, he suddenly
  spies the multiple wizards to the north)  GRAAAAAAAAARGH!

  With an earsplitting ruckus of stomping and roaring, the great
ape loped toward the intruders, and the battle was joined!

Belphanior:  NOW!  (he lets his rock-to-mud transmutation go)
Oonga:  GRAAAARG...(he looks down, confused, as the stone beneath
  his monstrous hairy feet gives way)

  With a bellowing that nearly deafened the adventurers, the beast
sunk to his knees in the liquid floor.  For a moment, some of the
others worried that Ged wouldn't come through, but the elf was
ready.  His enchantment cancelled Belphanior's spell, hardening the
mud around Oonga's legs.

Belphanior:  (frowns as it occurs to him that Ged did that a little
  too easily)
Oonga:  (groping at the floor)  RAAAAAARGH!
wispy thing:  (orbiting Oonga's head)  Sssss!
Otto:  (fires a poisoned bolt, the comparatively tiny missile
  vanishing from sight in the ape's hairy hide)  Damn, I don't
  think he even felt that.  (he reloads)  Strong poison, but is it
  strong enough?  (realizing that he's talking to himself, the
  dwarf ceases his muttering)
Lyra:  Do you think I should encase him in my wall of fire now?
Ged:  I'd say hold off - the fighters may want to charge in now and
  finish him...
Alindyar:  A good point.

  Just then, their predictions were proven true, as three armored
forms burst from the rubble and charged toward the trapped ape.

Mongo:  Now!  (he leaps up, scattering small rocks everywhere, and
  runs toward Oonga)  Get him!
Gorin:  You call that a signal?!?
Arnold:  Sig-naaal.  (he dashes past Mongo, clanking along loudly)
Mongo:  Whoa!
Gorin:  Hey, wait up!
Arnold:  (barely ahead of Mongo in the race)  Ah-nold!
Mongo:  Get back here, you!  That ape's mine!
Gorin:  (bringing up the rear, he charges grimly, his axe swinging
  in step as he runs)
Oonga:  (turns to regard the trio of warriors)  GRAAARGH!  (with a
  shove against the ground, he produces a number of cracks in the
  rock)  GRAAARGH!
Gorin:  Look!
Arnold:  Aaa.  He's gedding loose!
Mongo:  Dammit!
Ged:  Do you see that?
Belphanior:  I sure do...
Lyra:  (aiming her wall of fire, she is forced to hold off, due to
  the proximity of the warriors now)  Damn...
Alindyar:  This bodes ill-
Oonga:  GRAAAAAAARRGH!  (he tears himself out of the cavern floor,
  sending chunks of rock everywhere)
Mongo:  (leaps to the attack, his metal club smashing against the
  creature's ankle)  Eat this!
Oonga:  GRAAARGH!  (he kicks the assailant with his other foot)

  The dwarf sailed through the cavern like a missile, smashing into
the old dinosaur skeleton to the northeast.  The gigantic bones
shattered like twigs, burying the dwarf in a powdery white mist.

Gorin:  Uh-oh.  I think he's pissed off...
Arnold:  (hacks at one of Oonga's calves, scoring a serious-looking
  wound)  Ah-nold!  Ah-
Oonga:  (picks the barbarian up, shaking him like a leaf)
Arnold:  Aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-
Gorin:  Let him go!  (bravely chopping at Oonga's toes, he is
  rewarded with another kick from Oonga)  Ungh!  (the young dwarf
  is knocked back, skidding across the floor in a northern direction,
  his armor sparking as he goes)  Yaaaaaaaaa!
Oonga:  (stands fully, beating his chest, the squirming Arnold all
  but forgotten)  GRAAGH!  GRAAAAAAAARGH!
Arnold:  (hacking at the fingers which hold him)  Led go of me, you-
Oonga:  (notices the slicing of his fingers)  AARGH!  (he hurls the
  irritating foe to the cavern floor)
Arnold:  (knocked unconscious, he bleeds from delicate places, such
  as his ears)  Unh...
Oonga:  GRAAAR!  (he lumbers toward the magi)
wispy thing:  (flits about in the ape's face)  Nrrrp!
Oonga:  (swats at the wisp)  GRRRR!

  Suddenly, far above the ape, a great stalactite quivered...then
trembled...then broke loose, plummeting toward the ground!

Oonga:  (speared through the arm by the stone point)  RAAAAARGH!
Peldor:  (invisible, somewhere, he smiles)
Otto:  (perched above and to the side, he fires another bolt and
  easily hits Oonga, though the missile's effect is doubtful at
  best)
Oonga:  GRAAARGH!  (with an effort, he pulls the stalactite from
  his arm, hurling it aside)  AAAAAAARGH!
Lyra:  (drops a circular wall of fire around the beast)  Got him!

  During this respite, Peldor moved to help the wounded.  Mongo was
still buried in the bony rubble to the northeast, and Gorin had slid
almost to where Rillen and Songa were stationed.  Thus, Arnold seemed
most in need of assistance.

Peldor:  (trying to lift the semi-conscious warrior)  C'mon, big guy.
  (the thief struggles under the weight of the armored man)  Unf!
Arnold:  (slips as he tries to stand)  Aaa...he got me good...
Peldor:  We've got to get moving!  (he realizes that he doesn't have
  to physically drag Arnold, and uses his TK ring to lift the big
  barbarian)  Heh.  (he walks northward, giving the flame-ringed
  Oonga a wide berth)
Arnold:  (being carried through the air, behind Peldor)  A- aaa...?

  Meanwhile...

Belphaniors:  (wandering toward the ring of fire)  Wonder how he's
  holding up in there?
Otto:  (climbs down from his rocky perch, crossbow in hand, he eyes
  the six identical Belphaniors)  Careful.
Belphaniors:  Why?
Otto:  Because I don't smell any sizzling flesh.

  Just then, a huge, dark form walked through the blazing barrier.

Oonga:  (utterly unharmed)  GRAAARGH!  (he lumbers toward Belphanior)
Ged:  Look out!
Belphaniors:  Not to fear - I was ready for him.  (they point at the
  ape, and speak some arcane syllables)

  A mighty conical blast of snow and ice issued from the six elves'
hands, catching Oonga head-on.

Belphaniors:  Hah-
Oonga:  (roars as the freezing sheets of cold dissolve upon hitting
  his body)  RAAAARGH!  (he beats his chest defiantly)
Belphaniors:  (wild-eyed)  Magic resistance?!?
Ged:  Boccob!
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  We may have a slight problem here.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar, incipient panic tinging her response)
  No shit!

  With a mighty roar, Oonga scooped up a large chunk of misshapen
rubble and hurled it at Belphanior, his images, and Otto.  All were
showered in debris as the rock, falling apart to begin with, broke
into thousands of smaller bits while in flight.

Belphaniors:  (all but one of them dissolve under the barrage)
Belphanior:  (staggers, beaten by numerous stones)  Ungh...
Otto:  (smashed by only a few of the missiles, he rolls to the side)
  Get him!  (he loads another crossbow bolt)
Bosco:  (out of nowhere, and invisible, he lands on Oonga's head,
  stabbing his sword into the thick skull)  Bosco, ape-slayer-
Oonga:  GRAAARGH!  (it reaches up, grabbing at the tiny foe)
Bosco:  (takes to the air, leaving behind a tiny, bleeding wound
  atop the simian's scalp)  Hah!  Too slow!  You'll never get me-
Oonga:  (snatches him up in one gigantic hand)  RAAAAARGH!
Bosco:  Eep.  (he feels the crushing force of Oonga's fist)  Aargh!
Peldor:  Bosco!  (to the north, he sets Arnold down and TKs another
  stalactite loose, this one stabbing Oonga in the wrist)
Oonga:  GRAAAARGH!  (he regards Bosco and his torn wrist angrily)
Bosco:  (raised far above the ground in the mighty paw)  Uh-oh...

  The halfling was hurled with incredible force - right into the
midst of the magi!

Bosco:  Yeaaaaa-  (he narrowly misses Lyra, only to slam into Ged)
  Ooofargh!
Ged:  (his spell interrupted and ruined, he is knocked down with
  bone-jarring force)  Ungh!
Bosco:  (sitting atop Ged, dizzy and bleeding)  Whoa...whatta ride...
Otto:  (clips Oonga's ear with another crossbow bolt)
Oonga:  (ignoring Otto and his fired bolt, he bears down on the magi
  to the north)  GRAAAAARGH!
Lyra:  Yie...
Alindyar:  Fear not - I shall now unleash my mightiest spell.  (he
  steps forth and lets a prismatic spray rip into Oonga)
Oonga:  (growls as the colorful rays fizzle against his body)  GRR...
Alindyar:  Damn him!
Lyra:  (having already reasoned that spells probably won't affect the
  ape, she goes for the ground near the ape instead, using a dig spell
  to tear away a wide swath of the soft rock in front of the beast)
Alindyar:  Well-done.  (they back away, fleeing to the north)  I hope
  those ahead of us can provide some cover.

  Speaking of those people, Rillen had been firing arrows like mad,
each one doubling as it left the magical bow.  Some bounced off of,
or only grazed, the ape's thick hide.  Others actually sunk into
Oonga's thick flesh, but did little to slow the great ape down.
Songa joined the fray, casting a spear, but a larger toothpick was
still a toothpick, and Oonga lumbered onward...

Songa:  The damned beast just won't stop!
Rillen:  (spies the drow, and Ged behind them, dragging a beaten-
  looking Bosco behind him)  Maybe the wizards can stop the ape.
Songa:  They didn't look like they were having much luck before...
Tanya:  (feeling particularly useless at the moment)  Where did
  Belphanior go?

  Almost everyone was either at Rillen, Songa, and Tanya's position
or headed there.  Otto was circling around from the other side,
near Mongo and the pile of bone-rubble.  Only Belphanior was still
anywhere near the ape.

Belphanior:  (now airborne, he hovers over the charging Oonga)  I'm
  going to kill him...kill him...(he discharges a thin green beam
  of deadly power, directly at the huge ape)
Oonga:  (looks up, as the beam hits him in the forehead)  GRAARGH?
Belphanior:  Hah!
wispy thing:  Spaaa!
Oonga:  (gnashes his teeth as the green beam fades...harmlessly)
Belphanior:  Damn!  Shit!  Fuck!
wispy thing:  Sprrd...
Oonga:  (reaches up and jumps at the same time, achieving a rather
  surprising altitude as he swats the elf)  RRAAAAR!
Belphanior:  Go to h-  (he is knocked away with incredible force,
  and tumbles head-over-heels toward a wall to the east)

  The elf seemed doomed, but at the last possible instant before
smashing into the wall, his body halts in its flight.

Belphanior:  (half-conscious, he mumbles as he is pulled toward the
  others, to the north)
Lyra:  (watching Peldor, whose brow is creased with concentration)
  Good work.  You saved him.
Peldor:  All in a day's work for the mighty Peldor.  But I haven't
  saved the rest of you yet.
Ged:  Forget about that - who's going to save Mongo?
Alindyar:  Eh?
Ged:  (pointing to the southeast)  Look!

  A good distance to one side of the oncoming Oonga...

Mongo:  (explodes from the rubble, beaten, bloody, but not defeated)
  Bring it on, dammit!
Otto:  (ceases his search for Mongo)  Hey, there you are-
Mongo:  (whirls on the other dwarf)  What?!?
Otto:  We need to retreat.  (he points to the north)
Mongo:  Fuck that.  I'm gonna beat that-
Otto:  We _can't_ beat the thing.  Not this way.
Mongo:  (calming down)  Fuck...(he regards the metal club in his
  hand)  If I only had my hammer...I mean if it worked right...
Otto:  Come on, let's get to the north with the others.

  Those very others, at this moment, were trying to figure out how
to stop the rampaging ape.

Oonga:  (less than a hundred feet from their position at the
  northern exit, and closing fast)  GRAAAARGH!
Tanya:  What now?
Alindyar:  (spellcasting)  I am not certain.
Lyra:  Who would have thought Oonga would be immune to spells?
Peldor:  How's Mongo going to get to us?  He can't get around, past
  the ape, without getting its attention.
Rillen:  Maybe he thinks we'll be able to cover him.  (he fires an
  arrow into the darkness around Oonga)
Songa:  He'd be sadly mistaken, I think.
Gorin:  Dammit.  (he wipes blood and sweat from his forehead, grips
  his axe's handle, and prepares to charge back into battle)
Ged:  (yelling at the top of his lungs)  Mongo, fall back!  We can't
  beat him with magic!
Alindyar:  We might not be able to beat him, but we can surely slow
  his progress.  (he casts a spell of darkness right in front of
  Oonga)
Oonga:  (blunders into the black sphere, roaring)  RAARGH!
Alindyar:  See?
Mongo:  (he and Otto take this opportunity to dash around the ape
  and head for the others)  Damn...this would be such a good time
  to attack-
Otto:  (grabs Mongo's chainmail-sleeve and steers him back on track
  toward the north)  Forget it!
Gorin:  Come on!  Run, Mongo, run!

  As the two dwarves neared their companions, Oonga burst from the
darkness, roaring madly.

Oonga:  GRAAAAARGH!  (he stomps after Mongo and Otto)
Songa:  They won't make it-
Lyra:  Yes, they will.  (she completes a wall of ice, placing it
  directly in front of Oonga)
Oonga:  (crashes into the barrier, cracking it in numerous places)
  GRAARGH!  (he begins smashing it down, propelling chunks of ice
  in all directions)  RAAARGH!
Gorin:  That's not going to stop him.
Lyra:  It wasn't meant to.  (she allows herself a smile as Rillen
  and Arnold help Mongo and Gorin out of the trench and onto their
  side)
Alindyar:  Excellent work, my dear.
Lyra:  Thanks.  You, too.
Belphanior:  Heh.  You bought them just enough time...
Oonga:  (flings aside a huge piece of ice, and lumbers toward the
  reassembled party)  GRAAAAAAARGH!
Ged:  Everyone stay calm!  I'm going to drop a wall of force between
  us and the ape.
Songa:  A wall?  (she laughs angrily)  No wall can stop that ape.
Ged:  This one can.  Trust me.  (he begins spellcasting)
Gorin:  You sure about this?
Ged:  _Trust me_.
Lyra:  And stop bothering him!  Can't you see that he's trying to
  cast a spell!
Alindyar:  Technically, it will work, seeing as how the-
Mongo:  Enough!  (he looks around for something to throw, and grabs
  a large boulder, bracing himself)  Ung!
Tanya:  You can't possibly...you'd never...
Mongo:  (hefts the rock over his head)  Never...say never!  (with a
  grunt, he hurls the missile at the charging Oonga)  Gangway!
Oonga:  (hit in the shoulder, he staggers - but only for a brief
  instant)  RAAARGH!
Rillen:  That bought us a few more moments...
Otto:  (breathing heavily)  Wh- whoopee.
Oonga:  (spots the trench, and leaps, clearing it easily)  GRAARGH!
Lyra:  Well, so much for that idea.
Arnold:  Aaa.  (he, and the other warriors, ready their weapons)
Gorin:  Too bad Yod and his elemental king aren't here.  That big
  stone-head could go toe-to-toe with the ape there.
Mongo:  No kidding...
Bosco:  (frowning as he backs up, watching Oonga charge)  Somebody
  oughtta go out there and stop him.
Rillen:  And who?  Who can?  Are you that somebody, Bosco?
Bosco:  Uh...
Belphanior:  (standing groggily)  I'll do it.
Mongo:  (shoves the elf back)  The hell you will.  (he darts out
  toward Oonga, waving his metal club)  Come and get it!
Lyra:  Somebody stop him!  He'll ruin everything!
Peldor:  I'm on it.  (he TKs Mongo, grabbing him and yanking him
  backward)  Sorry about this, big guy.
Mongo:  (his charge stops as he suddenly rises off the ground)
  Hey!  Lemme go, damn you!
Belphanior:  (wipes blood from his face)  How's that wall of force
  coming?
Ged:  Showtime.  (he erects the wall of force, completely covering
  the wide cave-mouth between the main cavern and the smaller area
  to the north, in which the entire party stands)  Boccob!
Oonga:  (doesn't even slow down, smashing into the force-wall - and
  bouncing off)  RRRRGH?!?  (he stands shakily, and begins beating
  on the invisible barrier with his huge fists)  AAAARGH!  GRAARGH!

  The ground shook, and puffs of dirt fell from the cavern's ceiling,
but the wall held!

Songa:  (shakes her head in amazement)  Incredible.
Rillen:  How long will that last?
Ged:  A little less than half an hour.
Lyra:  Unless he manages to break the wall free from the stone it's
  attached to...
Ged:  I seriously doubt that.  I anchored it too well.
Belphanior:  (watching Oonga roar and pound on the other side of
  the barrier)  It sure seems that way.
wispy thing:  (hovers just behind the adventurers' side of the wall,
  making faces at Oonga)  Yrrrp!
Peldor:  (to Tanya)  I hope Mongo's not too mad at me.
Tanya:  For saving his life?  He'd better not be.
Mongo:  Bah.  I'm not mad...not at you.  (he grins)  You'd just
  better be glad that ape didn't get a hold of you.  He might have
  ripped you in half, like that other time-
Peldor:  I have no idea what you're talking about.  (he wanders to
  the north)
Tanya:  (notices that her husband is bleeding from a nasty gash on
  his shoulder, and goes after him)  Hold it, we've got to get that
  wound bound.
Mongo:  (watching Oonga sullenly, through the wall of force)
Oonga:  (watches Mongo sullenly, through the wall of force, and then
  begins beating on the barrier again)
Songa:  (looking around for ways to fortify this position)  Can we
  collapse the walls here...block the ape's path?
Gorin:  No, not without maybe bringing down the whole cavern.  But
  we'd also cut off our only route of escape.
Rillen:  Are we sure there's not another way out?  (he gestures to
  the northern caverns, which loom before them, dark and unknown)
Peldor:  Hmm.
Ged:  (watching Oonga, who appears to be getting tired)  He won't
  make it through.
Alindyar:  But by the same token, we cannot escape that way.
Lyra:  Looks like he's sitting there...waiting for the wall to fall.
Belphanior:  Clever one...for an ape.
Mongo:  (walking around, fuming)  So now what?
Bosco:  (calling from somewhere to the north)  Hey, everybody!  Come
  look at this!
Belphanior:  What's he babbling about now?
Gorin:  No telling.
Peldor:  Let's go find out, then.

  They didn't like the idea of just wandering away and leaving Oonga
unwatched, but there really wasn't anything else to do.

wispy thing:  (vanishes into the northern area, following the sound
  of Bosco's shrill little voice)  Fssss.

  Someone produced a magical light-source, and the party followed
the right-hand wall for more than a hundred feet, eventually entering
an unusual chamber - unusual because its walls and floor were smooth,
as was its domed ceiling.  Another exit, to the northwest, also led
out of here.

Ged:  This is no natural cavern...
Belphanior:  Nope.  Definitely man-made.
Mongo:  Or dwarf-made.
Songa:  I don't like it here.
Otto:  So what?  None of us do.
Bosco:  (his voice trails from somewhere nearby)  I'm in here!
Tanya:  Where'd that little rascal get to?
Otto:  There.

  The dwarf was pointing to a small side passage, whose mouth was
filled with rubble.  The tunnel was smooth-walled, like the chamber
before, and almost perfectly tubular.  Beyond the foot or so of
piled rubble was a tiny room, almost globular in shape.  Its walls
were fashioned from green stone, much of the smooth surface covered
in bizarre symbols.
  Of Bosco, however, there was no sign.

Otto:  Huh?  I just heard his voice!
Rillen:  Maybe you heard wrong.
Songa:  No, I heard it too.  It came from this place, without a
  doubt.
Belphanior:  (examining the symbols on the walls)  These aren't
  runes...
Ged:  (casting a spell)  No, I think they're a message of some sort.
Alindyar:  But what sort is that?
Ged:  Give me a moment and I'll tell you.
Arnold:  (crowds into the small space, bumping into Mongo)  Sorry.
Peldor:  (notices that the symbols are starting to glow softly)  Uh,
  check this out.
Tanya:  (gets one of those bad gut instincts)  I don't like this...
Songa:  Me neither.
Otto:  Maybe we're about to find out what happened to Bosco.
Gorin:  Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm not sure I want to
  know.
wispy thing:  Nrrrp.  (it hovers near some of the symbols)
Ged:  (busy reading the magical markings)  Ah...
Belphanior:  What've you got?
Ged:  A warning...not to enter this place.
Lyra:  Too late for that.
Ged:  (frowns)  But also...a message:  "You have overcome the tests
  of the island, and now you must solve the riddle of this room.  If
  you state what is on your mind, your rewards will not be hard to
  find."
Alindyar:  Hmm.
Lyra:  There could be many answers...
Rillen:  But only one right one.
Arnold:  (watching the symbols on the walls, which are glowing more
  brightly)  Aaa.
Peldor:  We'd better be careful when we answer this little riddle.
Alindyar:  Aye, but what answer?
Ged:  Oh, come on!  This is an easy one - it's so obvious, it scares
  me.  (he looks around)  Why are we here in the first place?
Otto:  (muttering)  Damn good question...
Peldor:  Treasure.
Mongo:  To stop the forces of evil.
Belphanior:  The wand.
Ged:  (nods)  That's right.  It wouldn't be on the island if Zagyg
  didn't want it on the island.  It _is_ our ultimate goal here.
Lyra:  He's right.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Possibly, but-
Belphanior:  (raises his voice, as if to address the room itself)
  The wand!  The wand of Orcus!

  The symbols glowed, more brightly than ever - and then disappeared.
The adventurers found themselves catapulted back into the larger,
smooth-walled chamber, in the blink of an eye!

Ged:  Boccob!
Alindyar:  What madness-
Belphanior:  Look!

  Some other things had accompanied them back into this cavern:  to
one side was a large pile of items, weapons, and treasure.  Across
the chamber appeared Bosco, who had apparently stopped talking in
mid-sentence.  The halfling was conversing with a large, thickly-
muscled man, whose lordly manner was scarcely reduced by his many
scars and ragged, dirty appearance.

Bosco:  ...(he looks around)  Hey, we're out.
man:  (grimly)  We're never out.

  The man stood, somewhat shakily.  He was a handsome fellow, with
shoulder-length black hair and black skin, even darker than Rillen's.
Obviously a warrior, judging from his fine armor and the longsword
at his side, he scanned the adventurers with a practiced eye.

Bosco:  Everybody, this is my new friend, Ashe.
Ashe:  Greetings, if not well-met.
Mongo:  What're _you_ doing here?
Ashe:  The same thing you were, I'm sure:  trying to find Oonga's
  treasure.  (he eyes the pile of items and gemstones)
Belphanior:  (wanders over to that very pile)
Otto:  Who sent you to the island, anyway?
Ashe:  What makes you think I was sent?
Belphanior:  (holds up a fine dagger from the treasure)  Primarily
  the fact that nobody in their right mind would go there on their
  own...
Ashe:  A good point.  But I - we - weren't really sent.  We learned
  of the wand, and decided to seek it.  Hell, just finding a way to
  the island was a life's quest in and of itself.  (he eyes this
  chamber's domed ceiling)  We must get out of here.
Ged:  Why's that?
Ashe:  This entire area is a trap, leading into a pocket of non-
  dimensional space from which there is no escape.
Belphanior:  How can you be sure?
Ashe:  Because I've been there for the last six weeks.  (he looks
  around, concerned)  Come on, we _really_ have to get out of here!
Lyra:  (quickly growing uncomfortable in this chamber, she turns to
  the other adventurers)  Maybe he's right.
Alindyar:  Hmm.
Peldor:  Mongo, get that portable hole and I'll load this treasure
  in.  Then we can move out.
Ged:  And we'll worry about what's what later, when we have time...
Mongo:  Gotcha.  (he opens the portable hole, and Peldor begins
  loading the loot into the space, even as the others prepare to
  exit this chamber)
Belphanior:  (helping Peldor and Mongo move the treasure, he looks
  over the items in the process)
Peldor:  Where's the wand?
Belphanior:  I'm sure it's in here somewhere.
Mongo:  If we find it, we'd better keep it handy.  I don't trust
  that Ashe guy.
Peldor:  Me neither.  There's something about him...
Ashe:  (explaining to Ged and the others)  -and we finally made it
  here, using a magical portal opened by a native ritual.  The great
  ape wasn't home, but we found his treasure.  (he points to the
  shrinking pile of loot)  That treasure.  But we didn't analyze the
  runes in time, and...we were all transported to a tiny bubble of
  space in the middle of nowhere.
Alindyar:  How did you know that?
Ashe:  The priest who was with me figured it out.  (he gestures to
  a skeleton, buried amidst the treasure pile)  The two of us were
  the only ones who made it to Oonga's lair alive, and he died less
  than an hour after the trap was sprung.
Ged:  You've been trapped for all that time...?
Ashe:  I had items to aid me...ninety-nine out of a hundred would
  have died there.  (he sets his powerful jaw)  But now I'm out, and
  I want to remain that way.
Ged:  Sorry to hear about your dead companions.
Ashe:  They weren't dear friends, exactly, if you know what I mean.
Songa:  (frowns, wondering why someone would risk life and limb on
  an adventure of this magnitude, with anyone other than trusted
  companions)
Mongo:  All done here - let's move out.

  They headed for the exit passages, but recoiled as mist billowed
forth, blocking both paths.

Ged:  Is this the trap you spoke of?
Ashe:  No...this is something different...
Alindyar:  But what?
Ashe:  (gives the drow a 'why-are-you-asking-me?' look)  I have no
  idea.
wispy thing:  (floating near the mists)  Rrrrr...

  The mists cleared, vanishing into nowhere, and both exits were
gone, changed into solid metal - as were the walls, ceiling, and
floor!  However, a new passage had materialized to the northeast;
a pale white glow came from this exit.

Peldor:  (shakes his head)  I have a bad feeling about this...
Ged:  I don't like it either.
Otto:  We don't have to like it.  (he turns to the passage)  Are
  we going to see where this leads, or just stand here thinking
  about it?





next:      a whole new set of problems
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:     A movie to see at home:  _Dead Alive_.  It's a little
  Australian film made several years ago, and it's mighty.  The
  movie picks up, you could say, where _Army of Darkness_ and _From
  Dusk Till Dawn_ left off.  Gore galore, but mixed with humor; I
  was rolling on the floor most of the time.
    Just FYI, there's now a link on my web page (mine, not the
  Adventurers page) which reviews cheesy and non-cheesy horror
  movies without bias.  If you were ever a Joe-Bob Briggs fan
  (either you know who he is or you don't) you might get a laugh
  out of the page I made.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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