Chapter #522

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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 1991-7 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                    +
+                           +
+  Belphanior      (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief   (CN) +
+    Otto            8th/10th level dwarven fighter/thief      (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                            (N) +
+    Jutokai         7th level human warrior                   (LN) +
+    Kinichi         7th level human ranger                     (N) +
+    Ys             13th level reptilian fighter               (LN) +
+  Date:        9/23/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       a forsaken tomb in Blackmoor                        +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "It's not a schedule.  It's a list of our next victims."         +
+                               - Tampa Bay Mutiny advertisement    +

                  DXXII.  Tomb of Terrors

  Belphanior and company have found the tomb and are now descending
into its fell reaches...

Otto:  (the point-man, he goes first, shortsword ready and casting
  a pale glow into the darkness ahead)
Ys:  (behind Otto, he crouches slightly to avoid hitting his head
  on the stairway's ceiling)
Jutokai:  (behind Ys, he has his bow ready, arrow nocked but not
Belphanior:  (fourth in the rank, he struggles to see around the
  wide form of Ys)
Kinichi:  (covering the party's rear, he focuses most of his
  attention on the stairs behind him)
wispy thing:  (nowhere to be found)  Sprrd.

  A typical approach would have had the party using no light at
all, in order to surprise whatever lay in wait below.  A better
approach would have had them using lanterns or other powerful
sources of light, the idea being that whatever lay in wait below
could probably see in the dark anyway, and thus the intruders might
as well be able to see as well.  Belphanior's approach was a bit
more involved:  using a minimum of light, the group would move on
until it spotted monsters or other foes ahead.  At that point...

  The elf's musings were interrupted by the party reaching the
bottom of the stairs.  They had descended a total of about twenty
feet, the stairway winding through an entire rotation.  The walls
surrounding them were hewn from solid rock, the same dull grey
stone from which the ruined building above was constructed.  Most
of the walls (as well as the floors and ceiling) were coated with
a thick layer of dust and cobwebs, though there were no other
signs of spiders.
  Ahead was no chamber, but rather a trio of diverging passages
that led away into the darkness.

Otto:  (gazing at the hallways)  They all look the same.
Ys:  Looks can be deceiving.
Belphanior:  (to Kinichi)  Suggestions?
Kinichi:  Not this time.  (he gestures to the dusty floor)  None
  of the three passages have been entered way to
  tell which might be populated.  One's as good as any other.
Jutokai:  At least right now.
Kinichi:  True.
wispy thing:  (appears from behind the party)  Brfff!
Kinichi:  Whoa.
wispy thing:  (flies away down the leftmost passage)  Fspaa!
Otto:  What the hell's gotten into him?!?
Belphanior:  (shaking his head)  Beats me, but maybe he's trying
  to tell us something.  Let's go that way.
Kinichi:  (shrugs)

  Down the passage they went; it was about ten feet high (much to
Ys' relief) and almost that wide.  The corridor ran straight, its
length never wavering in dimension or direction.  Often, Ys got a
faceful of cobwebs that Otto had been too short to hit.

Ys:  (sputtering)  Ssspssp!
Jutokai:  You're not _eating_ those, are you?
Ys:  (looks mortified)
Otto:  (whispering)  Shh, back there!  I think I hear-

  Without warning, the passage ahead suddenly tilted, this movement
powered by some unknown process that rumbled and moved in the rock
beneath their feet.  The area ahead had become a steep ramp, and
the adventurers began to slide down it!

Otto:  Whoaaa......(he tumbles head over heels, scrabbling at the
  floor and walls but failing to secure a purchase)
Ys:  (slides a bit, then reaches out, pressing with hands and feet
  to stop his slide)
Jutokai:  (slips between Ys' outstretched arm and leg, falling
  after Otto)  Aieeeeee!
Belphanior:  (grabs onto one of Ys' legs)
Kinichi:  (collides with Ys' back)  Oomph!
wispy thing:  (sails around the anchored ones, heading down in the
  direction Otto and Jutokai went)

  Below, those who had fallen the entire way now rested upon a bed
of loose rubble and sand.  They were in some kind of open natural
cavern, its exact boundaries unknown since they had no light source.
It had to be pretty big, though, based on the echoes they heard.
Neither Otto nor Jutokai knew exactly who or how many had fallen
along with them; worse, both of their weapons had been knocked out
of their hands in the fall.

Jutokai:  (realizes that there are other echoes besides the ones he
  and whoever fell with him made)  To arms!  We aren't alone here!
Otto:  (quickly coming to his senses, he guzzles the remainder of
  a potion of speed he's had for awhile)  Calm down, man.  (he uses
  his tinderbox to make some sparks)

  The feeble light thus generated showed a terrible sight:  a number
of strange, shriveled forms had congregated around them, waving thin
arms and moaning loudly.

weird thing:  Wrrooooo...
Otto:  Yaaa!
Jutokai:  Damn...where is everybody?
Otto:  Must still be up there.  (yelling upward)  Hey, we could use
  some HELP DOWN HERE!!!
Jutokai:  (draws his sword)
Otto:  (draws his knife, as well as a tightly corked potion bottle)
weird thing:  (shuffles nearer)  Wrrrrrrr.
wispy thing:  (divebombs the creature, hissing)  Pffft!
weird thing:  (distracted)  Wrrrrrrlgh?

  Just then, Belphanior swooped down into the cavern, yelling at
the top of his lungs.

Belphanior:  (holds forth a small pouch of some thin material)
  Cover your eyes!  (he suddenly hurls the missile against one of
  the walls ahead)
Jutokai:  Wha-?

  The pouch, filled with a peculiar mixture of tar, spiderwebs,
and other things - and then enchanted with a common spell of
magical light - burst upon impact, coating the wall with a layer
of thick, brightly glowing goo.  In an instant, the dark chamber
was bathed in light, not just a spot or ray of light but a bright
radiance that was more than enough to fully illuminate both the
area and the assailants.
  Revealed at last, the creatures were incredibly ugly, not to
mention weird-looking.  It was as if someone had mummified human
corpses, then sucked all the insides out.  The things seemed to
have no muscle, no bones - and yet they moved and attacked!

creature#1:  Wrrrrrrrrb.  (it gropes at Otto)
Otto:  Yie!  (he ducks, yet his shoulder is grazed by the thing's
  hand)  Aargh!  (he recoils as a putrescent green substance is
  splashed onto him)

  The stuff was like poison gas, acid, and spiderwebbing, all in
one.  It smelled bad, really bad - worse than the gases in the
sewers of Greyhawk, worse than any stench of any undead foe he'd
ever fought.  He could hardly breathe, much less fight, and sunk
to the ground coughing and wiping his eyes.

Otto:  <spk>
Jutokai:  Good gods!  (he slashes at another of the things as it
  lurches toward him)
creature#2:  (its belly sliced open, the wound spews forth more
  of the noxious green liquid)  Worrrrrrp.
Jutokai:  (dodges aside, barely avoiding a serious splashing)
creature#3:  (closes in on him)
Belphanior:  Not so fast, ugly.  (he completes a spell, and a
  volley of small, fiery meteors bombards those foes closest to
  Otto and Jutokai)
creatures:  (driven back as various wounds open in their skins,
  releasing volumes of the green stuff)
Kinichi:  (landing on the scene, he surveys the situation)  Ech.
Ys:  (lands right behind him)  How now?
Belphanior:  Beware - their wounds spew acidic blood!  (he pops
  the cork on a jug of wine, splashing it onto Otto's face)
Otto:  <splrgh>  Gahk!
Belphanior:  Sorry, didn't have any water handy.
Otto:  It's...okay.  <cough>
Ys:  (deciding not to risk the creatures' splashing blood, he
  instead picks one up, intending to hurl it into a far wall)
creature#8:  (ruptures in Ys' hands)
Ys:  (bathed in the green liquid)  ARGH!
Belphanior:  Dammit.  (whipping out a wand, he bombards nearby
  foes with acidic spheres)
creatures:  (explode)
Otto:  What the fuck ARE these things?!?  (retrieving the potion
  bottle that he dropped before, he pulls its stopper now and
  hurls it into another of the bizarre opponents)  Banzai!
creature#7:  (just stands there as the potion explodes across its
  body, bathing it in searing flames)  Wwwwwww!
wispy thing:  (flies into the wound in creature#2's belly)  Pfsss.
Jutokai:  (recovering his bow, he begins pelting the things with a
  steady stream of arrows)  Take that!  And that!  And that!
Belphanior:  Wow, would you look at that...?

  Every creature pierced by an arrow ruptured, its green innard-
juice spraying out as it collapsed to the floor.  Within a very
short period of time, the archer had neutralized all the foes.

Otto:  Damn good work!
Kinichi:  Aye.
Jutokai:  Thanks.
Belphanior:  (points at Ys, who, unable to see clearly, has just
  run into a stone wall)  Anybody got some water?
Ys:  Ouch!
Otto:  Allow me.  (he produces one of his water-marbles)  Ys, hold
  still, would you?  (dashing the thing against the reptilian's
  face, he covers Ys in a torrent of water)
Ys:  Ack.  (he wipes his eyes)  Much better.  What WAS that green
Belphanior:  Who knows?  (he kicks one of the deflated corpses,
  then has a notion and recovers one of the empty potion bottles)
Kinichi:  What are you doing?
Belphanior:  Collecting a sample.
Otto:  Good idea.  (he eyes the creatures' bodies)  What a handy
  defense wound them and they spew vile crap all
  over you.
Ys:  Quite a power, that.
Jutokai:  But it's kind of like a bee's sting - they can use it,
  but they die.
Belphanior:  Maybe they were designed that way.
wispy thing:  (emerges from the corpse's stomach, grinning)  Bsssp.

  They proceeded to fully explore the cavern, and though it was
quite extensive, there was nothing of real interest.  The undead
things, whatever their nature, possessed no valuables; there were
no exits from the place, either.  Belphanior flew back up the ramp
and secured a rope, allowing the others to climb back up.  Within
a short time, they were back at the trio of diverging passages;
this time, they chose the rightmost one.

wispy thing:  (soars down the dark passage)  Pffft!
Otto:  (watches the wisp vanish into the darkness)  Do you suppose
  he actually _does_ anything useful for us, when he flies off like
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  Can't hurt.  And you may recall that time in
  the Abyss, when he possessed that demon...
Otto:  (rubs his beard thoughtfully)  Hmm.
Kinichi:  We should be quiet - there may yet be monsters ahead.
Otto:  Right.
Jutokai:  (grips his bow tightly)
Ys:  (finding a spot of green gunk still on his arm, he wipes it
  off against the wall)

  After making a right-angle turn to the right, then another to the
left, this passage soon became a gradual ramp downward.  The ramp
ended in a four-way intersection, with unknown passages to the left
and right as well as ahead.

Otto:  Maybe we need a map.
Belphanior:  Might prove useful.
Ys:  I can do better than that.
Otto:  Eh?
Ys:  I've seen this sort of thing before.  (he produces a chunk of
  white rock)  Chalk.  There is no substitute.

  They chose the right-hand passage, and as they marched, Ys made
a chalk-line on the wall to mark their way.  Strangely enough,
after a slight rightward veering of the corridor (barely detectable
until someone looked back and noticed that the first intersection
wasn't quite visible) they came to another four-way intersection,
just like the first.

Kinichi:  I'd suggest following the right-hand rule.
Otto:  You mean bearing right to keep things simple?
Kinichi:  Exactly.
Ys:  It makes sense to me.
Belphanior:  (frowning at this series of passages)

  After a short distance, they arrived at yet another four-way

Belphanior:  Whoa, hold it right there.
Jutokai:  What?
Belphanior:  This is ridiculous.  I mean, we couldn't have taken
  all these right-hand passages and not looped back into the very
  first one.  (to Otto)  Unless we've been descending or ascending?
Otto:  (shakes his head)  Not that I'm aware of.
Belphanior:  Well, then.  To hell with this.  (to Ys)  Let's follow
  your chalk-line back to where we started.

  Fortunately, they were able to do so without (as Belphanior had
feared) somehow being magically thrown off-course.  Soon, they
stood at the first of the four-way intersections, and they went
along the left-hand wall this time.
  After two intersections, they realized that the same thing was
happening again!

Belphanior:  A mystical maze...we're not going to fall into its
  clutches.  Back to the starting point.

  Once they were back there, debate occurred; should they try the
middle passage, or return to the tomb entrance and the original
trio of passages above?

Belphanior:  I see no reason to try the middle passage here.  The
  maze has been beatable so far, but I doubt we'll find anything
  worth our trouble if we keep searching.
Kinichi:  Agreed.
Otto:  I'm not so sure.
Ys:  I tend to agree with Belphanior and Kinichi.  This is a waste
  of time.
Jutokai:  Not to mention a good place for an ambush.
Otto:  Well, back up the ramp, then.

  After that climb, they once more stood at the junction of the
three passages, at the foot of the tomb's entrance stairway.  As
the middle passage was the only one yet unexplored, they headed
that way, somewhat exasperated.  The corridor made several sharp
diagonal twists and turns, but continued in the same basic direction.
It ended at a large, ten-foot high door of some heavy, dense metal.

Belphanior:  (feeling the metal)  Not iron or steel...
Otto:  (tests the door with his knife-tip)  It scratches - kinda
  soft.  Whatever it is, it ain't mithril.  Lead, maybe?
Ys:  Or an alloy thereof.
wispy thing:  (appears from behind, smiling happily)  Yrrrp?
Belphanior:  Hey, why don't you go see what's behind this door?
wispy thing:  Psssb.  (it vanishes under the door)
Belphanior:  Hmm.  (he examines the portal for runes or glyphs,
  and finds some odd markings)  Whoa!  Everyone hold it.
Otto:  Ah, what's this?
Belphanior:  A trap, against any who open this door, I suspect.
  A spell of erasure should take care of them...(he begins working
  such a spell)
Kinichi:  So what happens to one who opens the door?
Belphanior:  Death by cold, looks like.
Kinichi:  Aie.
Jutokai:  We're far from the wilderness, my friend.
Ys:  (inhales the musty air of this tomb)  Far indeed.
Belphanior:  (works his enchantment, and the markings upon the door
  glow bright red...and then vanish!)  Aha!
Otto:  Good work.
Belphanior:  It was tougher than it looked.  Whoever put those there
  was no pushover.  (he eyes the door suspiciously)  What about
  normal traps?
Otto:  There's no such thing as a normal trap.  (he looks up)  But
  this door is clear.  (he frowns)  Shouldn't your eye be able to
  see that, though?
Belphanior:  I'm still in the process of double-checking its powers,
  so to speak.
Otto:  Oh.
Belphanior:  (grabs the door handle)  Ungh.  (he tugs on the door,
  without any luck)
Ys:  Let me try.  (with a single, fluid motion, he pulls the heavy
  portal open)

  Beyond the door was a true tomb:  rectangular holes, set into the
walls to left and right, each one containing a coffin whose end was
visible from the chamber itself.  There were eight in all, plus a
large, metallic door at the far end of the thirty-foot wide, fifty-
foot long tomb.  The place's ceiling was high, at least twenty feet
above their heads, and arched.

Jutokai:  Would it be okay if we lit a torch or three?
Kinichi:  I agree - this place makes me nervous.
Otto:  Yeah, good idea.  (they begin doing so)
wispy thing:  (floating around the chamber, frowning)  Sprrd...
Belphanior:  What is it?  What's wrong?  (he suddenly gets some
  weird tingles from Blackrazor)  Eh?

  Suddenly, the coffins began sliding out of their recesses, then
opening!  Foul, rotting undead of all types rose from their burial
places, eager to slay and feast!  One was a skeleton clad in heavy
plate mail; another was but a gathering of black vapors; a third
was little more than an animated bunch of moldy cloth wrappings;
a fourth had no head, only a rotting, worm-ridden body from which
yellowish-green pus dripped and oozed.

Belphanior:  To arms, men!  The foe is upon us!

next:      a break from this, as we check on those in Helgate
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     Inventing new, original forms of undead is a tough job.

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