Chapter #543

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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 1991-8 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/10th level dwarven fighter/thief          (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                            (N) +
+    Aja         9th level human priestess of Wee Jas           (N) +
+    Jutokai     7th level human archer                        (LN) +
+    Kinichi     7th level human tracker                        (N) +
+    Ys         13th level reptilian fighter                   (LN) +
+  Bosco        12th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        1/2/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        the middle of the night                             +
+  Place:       the frozen expanse known as the Land of Black Ice   +
+  Climate:     freezing                                            +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "They could have killed you!"                                    +
+  "I'm not that easy to kill."                                     +
+                                          - from _First Knight_    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                       DXLIII.  The Ice-Worm





  The adventurers' camp has been found by winter wolves, but these
predators have in turn been found by something else...

unseen wolf#2:  Awwwroooo-yipe!  Gurk-

  Silence followed...and then the sound of crunching bone.

Belphanior:  What the fuck was that?!
Otto:  (cocks his crossbow)  Somebody wake up Bosco.
Kinichi:  (kicks Bosco)
Bosco:  Whaz...?!?
Kinichi:  We're under attack.  Get up.  Now.

  The yelping of the wolves faded, then died out; they were gone.
The question was what had chased them away...and the answer was
not long in coming.  A tremendous, orange, segmented creature,
much like a huge chitinous worm, burst into the camp!  People,
supplies, and snow were scattered everywhere.

creature:  Bwaaaar!

  The thing was almost fifty feet long and about ten feet thick,
with many pairs of thin, hard legs.  Its body was well-protected
by plates of natural armor, and a fanged head snaked about atop a
long, sinuous neck.  The terrible fanged maw atop that head was
nearly ten feet wide.  Small, disfunctional wings adorned the back
of its neck; these were dark orange, like the rest of its body
save for the center strip of its back, which was black.

Lyra:  Is that a purple worm?
Alindyar:  I seriously doubt it.
wispy thing:  (regards the huge foe)  Aaarp?
creature:  (ignores the wisp)  Bwaaaaaaar!

  Whatever it was, the thing didn't waste any time.  Writhing its
head and front half of its body into the air, while proceeding
forward on its rear legs, it suddenly lunged forward at the nearest
target...

Belphanior:  (slashes as the head darts forth, lightning-fast)
creature:  (takes a gash on its chitinous snout)  Bwaa!
Belphanior:  (knocked aside by the horned head, he suffers some
  minor scrapes)  Urgh...
Jutokai:  (bow in hand, he launches a steady stream of arrows at
  the thing's back)

  Not only did the arrows fail to penetrate the creature's plated
back, but their steel heads melted on contact!

Jutokai:  Huh?
Otto:  Its back is hot - real hot!
Bosco:  (stabs the worm-thing in the back, scoring only a shallow
  hit, and shrieks in pain as his sword suddenly becomes too hot
  to hold)  Aaaaaaie!  (he drops the weapon, running away)  Aaaaa!
  (he shoves both hands into the snow)  <ssssss>  Aaaaahhhh...
Ys:  Bah.  (he swings his huge sword, lopping off one of the thing's
  legs as well as a chunk of its body)
creature:  Bwaaaaaagh!  (it turns and snaps at the reptilian with
  its fanged maw)
Ys:  (his armor punctured in several places, he recoils in pain)
  Aaargh!  (he pounds the beast over the head, once, twice, and
  it lets go)
Kinichi:  (on the other frontal flank, he slashes the creature in
  the neck, drawing orange blood that steams as it meets the cold
  air)
Jutokai:  (firing arrows at the beast's underbelly now, he scores
  a couple of hits)  Got him!
Otto:  (having backed up and prepared a poisoned bolt, he takes
  careful aim)  Closer...come on...(he lets the missile fly)
creature:  (hit in the side of the head by the bolt, it reels and
  screams)  Bwaaaaa!  (lunging forward, amazingly fast, it bites
  Otto)
Otto:  <crunch crunch>  Aaargh!
Belphanior:  Let him go!  (he slices at the thing's head, shearing
  off one eye and antenna)
creature:  BWAAARRR!  (it snaps around at Belphanior, but doesn't
  get him; Otto is dropped)
Belphanior:  (dances backward)  Whoa.
Otto:  (rolling away)  Agh...
wispy thing:  (flies in the creature's face, chirping and buzzing
  loudly)  Sssss!  Bzzzz!
creature:  (eyes the wisp)  Bwaaar!
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  As we planned, now - I will try fire,
  while you try cold.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Let's do it.

  Alindyar blasted the monster with a sheet of flame, which drove
it back as it attempted to attack Belphanior.  Lyra followed with
a cone of cold, which seemed to daze the foe but not hurt it.

creature:  Bwaaaaa!  (it lurches, snapping at Ys)
Ys:  (gashed by the thing's fangs, he drops his sword)  Argh!
creature:  (trying to fit the big reptilian in its mouth, which
  is no easy task)
Ys:  (braces himself, then snakes around and grabs the thing in a
  side headlock)

  It was a wrestling match of epic proportions:  the worm writhed
and coiled, its tiny legs flailing, while Ys kept a tight grip
around its neck right behind its head.  The worm flipped itself
over, but Ys held on; they rolled about the camp, melting anything
that came in contact with the creature's now-red-hot back.  Snow
and ice quickly turned to slush, making footing treacherous at
best.

creature:  (flips over suddenly)
Ys:  (pinned beneath the thing's burning back)  AAAARGH!  (he lets
  go, and lies there, burned)  Argh...
creature:  (regains its footing)
Bosco:  (stabs it in the butt)  Gotcha!
creature:  (whirls to face the halfling)  Bwaaaa!
Belphanior:  (charges and leaps, his sword cleaving deeply into the
  thing's head)
creature:  (writhing in pain)
Belphanior:  (draws back for another attack, but slips in the slush
  that covers much of the ground, and falls on his butt)  Oof!
Kinichi:  (leaping in to take Belphanior's place, he slashes the
  monster in the midsection)  Now, while it's down - press the
  attack!
Aja:  (darts forth and swings her sickle, hitting the creature in
  its remaining eye and causing it to convulse, and then go limp)
Kinichi:  (alarmed)  I didn't mean you...
Aja:  (smiles and withdraws her sickle, which has no blood on it
  despite the abundance of blood oozing from the creature's corpse)
Belphanior:  Well-done...all of you.
Otto:  Somebody had better see to Ys.

  The reptilian was still conscious, but large parts of his arms,
hands, and chest were badly burned.  Aja worked a powerful spell,
then bandaged the wounds.

Ys:  My thanks.  I suspect the damage looks worse than it is.
Aja:  You still have to rest.  (to Alindyar)  Can you make one of
  those floating disks for him to ride on?
Alindyar:  Not a problem, though it may float a bit lower than
  normal.  The reptilian is a large one.
Aja:  Whatever.

  The other wounded adventurers were tended to, and wounds bound.
The camp seemed secure - there were no wolves about - though some
questions still remained unanswered.

Alindyar:  How did that creature bypass my illusions and find our
  camp?
Kinichi:  Maybe it tracks prey in a different way than we're used
  to.
Otto:  Maybe it followed the wolves.
Aja:  Maybe it's magical.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Well, _there's_ an original answer.
Bosco:  Maybe it was just too stupid to know the wolves were there.
  (he collects some of the slain creature's blood in a glass jar)
  Ow.  I sure hope somebody'll buy this.
Otto:  Now there's an idea.  (he begins hunting for a glass jar of
  his own)
wispy thing:  (flies into the corpse's open maw)  Pffft?
Belphanior:  Okay, the fun's over.  Let's try to use what's left
  of the night for rest.
Aja:  How can you sleep after all that?
Belphanior:  Years of practice.

  The remainder of the night passed uneventfully - not that anyone
really got any sleep - and the following morning saw them continue
on their way, weary and sore.  The combination of the lack of sleep,
the weariness of battle, and the cold was really starting to get to
them.  Bodies were sore and moods were foul.  Of course, when it
rained, it poured; it wasn't even midday before they heard the not-
so-distant baying of wolves...

Kinichi:  Dammit.
Belphanior:  I am _not_ in the mood for this.
Aja:  Sounds like they're getting closer...and fast.
Otto:  (shaking his head)  They're already close.
Jutokai:  (gets his bow and begins stringing it)
Lyra:  (flies directly upward)  Uh-oh.

  The wolves were closer than they sounded; only moments passed
before a dozen of the beasts - big, grey, hairy ones - tore into
the party!

Otto:  To arms!  (he forgoes his usual crossbow tactics since the
  beasts are running rampant, at close range)  Don't let them overrun
  us!  (he draws his sword)  Get-
giant wolf #1:  (bowls the dwarf over, fangs and claws ripping at
  lightly-armored flesh)  Rrrrrgh!
Jutokai:  (brings his bow about, shooting a leaping wolf)
giant wolf #2:  (hit in one leg, it still plows into the archer,
  bringing him down and knocking his bow away)  Graar!
Kinichi:  (whips out his bola, hurling it at a passing wolf)
giant wolf #3:  (its hind legs snared by the tough cord, it falls,
  pawing uselessly)  Grrr!
giant wolf #4:  (bounds forth, leaping at the tracker)  Snarl!
giant wolves #5 & 6 :  (pounce upon Ys)
Ys:  (still without weapon in hand)  Ungh!
giant wolf #7:  (also leaps upon the reptilian)
Bosco:  (takes to the air, his winged boots flapping)  Feet, don't
  fail me now!
giant wolf #8:  (leaps up, slashing at the halfling)  Graar!  (it
  misses by inches)
Bosco:  Hah!
wispy thing:  (circles the wolf's head)  Fssss!
giant wolf #8:  (confused, it snaps at the wispy thing, without any
  effect)
wispy thing:  (grins)  Snrrp.
Aja:  (draws her sickle, swiping at a wolf that now faces her)  Die,
  beast!
giant wolf #9:  (evades her attack, growling)  Rrrr...
Alindyar:  (finds himself beset by another wolf before he can even
  think about casting a spell)
giant wolf #10:  (menaces the dark elf)  Grrrr...
giant wolf #11:  (pounces upon Belphanior)  Raargh!
Belphanior:  (hit from behind, he goes down)  Unf!
Lyra:  (still hovering in the air, she works a spell, sending magic
  missiles at several of the wolves)
giant wolf #1:  (blasted, it howls in pain)  Yowl!
giant wolf #2:  (likewise)  Yaargh!
giant wolf #5:  Yowlp!
giant wolf #8:  Yipe!
giant wolf #10:  Yap!
wispy thing:  Yrrrp!
giant wolf #1:  (ripping at Otto)  Graar!  Raargh!
Otto:  (ignores the pain that the claws are inflicting, drawing his
  barbed knife)  Take this!  (he rams the blade into the wolf's
  hairy breast)
giant wolf #1:  Yowlp!  (it thrashes about, bright red blood
  spurting from the wound)
Otto:  (rips the knife out and kicks the wolf aside, rolling to his
  feet, staggering from his wounds)  Argh...
giant wolf #2:  (tearing at Jutokai)  Graarrrgh!
Jutokai:  (realizes that he's pretty much helpless without a melee
  weapon and a standing start)  Help!
giant wolf #3:  (still snared by Kinichi's bola, it rolls around on
  the ground)  Grrrar!
giant wolf #4:  (leaps at Kinichi)  Raarg!
Kinichi:  (slashes at the wolf, severing one of its front paws)
giant wolf #4:  <yelp>
Kinichi:  (stabs the animal in the side, then whirls, heading for
  Jutokai and his attacker)
giant wolves #5, 6, & 7:  (latched onto Ys, they rend and tear)
Ys:  (unable to dislodge the one on his back, he instead focuses on
  the one on his leg)
giant wolf #6:  (suddenly finds itself sailing through the air)
Ys:  (swings his arm, which is being mauled by another of the
  wolves, at the frozen ground)
giant wolf #7:  (smashed against the hard ground, its back breaks)
  Yowwww...
giant wolf #5:  (continues to tear at Ys' broad back)
giant wolf #8:  (joins giant wolf #9 in circling Aja)  Grrr...
giant wolf #9:  (prepares to leap at Aja)
wispy thing:  (buzzes around the wolf's face)  Sssss!
giant wolf #9:  Grr?  (it paws at the air as the wispy thing darts
  about)  Raargh!
Aja:  (lashes out suddenly, her sickle biting deeply into the foe's
  neck)
giant wolf #9:  (leaps back, yelping, as blood sprays from the cut)
Aja:  (muttering a prayer of thanks to Wee Jas)
Alindyar:  (brings his staff of power to bear, firing a gray ray
  at his attacker)
giant wolf #10:  (hit by the ray, its muscles wither away)  Yowl?
  (it falls to the ground feebly)
Lyra:  (spellcasting, she ESPs to Alindyar)  Move backward, now!
Alindyar:  (obeys without hesitation)
Lyra:  (drops a web, covering wolves #10, 9, 4, and 3 with her
  strategic placement)  Got them!
Kinichi:  (gazes briefly at the trapped foes)  Whoa.  The wizards
  _are_ useful for something.  (he turns his attention to the wolf
  which is attacking Jutokai)
giant wolf #2:  (suddenly finds the tracker's blade cleaving its
  head in half)  Rrrrr...(it drops, twitching)
Jutokai:  Ung...(badly mauled, he rolls about, in pain)
Bosco:  (swoops down, backstabbing giant wolf #8 as it circles Aja)
giant wolf #8:  Graaargh!  (it swipes at the halfling, but misses,
  then falls, bleeding badly)
Ys:  (falls to the ground, trying to smash the attacker on his back)
giant wolf #5:  (crushed, it yelps in pain as bones break)
Ys:  (sits up, reaches around, and pries the wolf from his back)
  Got you...(he rips it in half, tossing the parts away)
giant wolf #1:  (lurching to its feet, it staggers toward Otto)
Alindyar:  (points his staff at the animal, speaking a command word)
giant wolf #1:  (bursts into flames)  YOWWWWL!  (it runs away, but
  doesn't get far before keeling over, still howling and flailing)
giant wolf #11:  (ripping at Belphanior)  Graar!
Belphanior:  (strengthened by his magical gauntlets, he grabs the
  wolf's head in his hands...and twists)

  The animal's head was wrenched from its body, and steaming blood
spurted everywhere, bathing the elf in crimson gore.

Belphanior:  (stands, holding the dripping head aloft as he draws
  his sword)

  The elf strode back into the melee, right as the wolf snared by
Kinichi's bola finally freed itself.  Belphanior brought Blackrazor
down just as the wolf turned and saw him.  The animal's body was
sheared nearly in two, such was the force of the blow.

giant wolf #3:  (collapses, a quickly-widening pool of blood under
  its body)
Belphanior:  (looks around insanely, then hurls the wolf's severed
  head at another wolf that remains alive)
giant wolf #6:  (having recovered from being hurled away by Ys, it
  is about to pounce on Aja)  Rrrwl?  (the other wolf's head hits
  its flank)  Rrrr...
Belphanior:  (leaps himself, landing atop the wolf as he locks one
  arm around its neck)
giant wolf #6:  (bucks and paws in vain)  Graar!
Belphanior:  (draws his blade across the beast's throat)
giant wolf #6:  (crumples to the ground, dying)
Belphanior:  (stands)  Who's next?

  In truth, there was no clear answer; all of the wolves were dead
or dying, or being dispatched by the others...

Alindyar:  (eyeing the wolves trapped in Lyra's web)  Hmm.  (almost
  as an afterthought, he blasts them with a sheet of flame, igniting
  them and the web)  Almost forgot.

  Most of the adventurers were wounded, and those with healing potions
drank them.  Aja used a powerful spell to heal Jutokai, while Lyra and
Bosco flew around, checking for any other wolves that might be about.
Kinichi recovered his bola, while Belphanior and Ys piled the corpses
up.

Ys:  Why are we doing this?
Belphanior:  (his hand glows, then emits a wave of fire, which sets
  the corpses aflame)  Force of habit.

  Soon, they got moving again; Jutokai was still woozy from the
battle, and Lyra conjured a second floating disc for him to ride
along on.  Bosco elected to keep to the air as well, and with him
and Lyra guiding the way from above, the party got back on track.
They kept their eyes open for further attacks, but there were none,
and they made good time, pausing only briefly for rest and meals.
By dusk they were closing in on their bizarre destination...

Bosco:  (hovering fifty feet in the air)  City ho!

  And so it was; in the distance, they could see the glint of
sunlight on metal.  An hour later, as they drew closer, they were
able to make out a number of perfectly rounded towers.  These
seemed to rise from the dark snow itself, but those who had been
here before knew that the snowdrifts were piled high, concealing
the city's metallic walls.
  Everyone marvelled at the sight, except for Belphanior, the two
drow, and Bosco, who had seen it many years ago.  Those four simply
marvelled at the sight a second time.

Bosco:  Whoa!
Lyra:  I believe that's what Peyote said last time...





next:      in they go
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     April 15 has come and gone.  Tax time.  Of course, I
  already took care of all that crap in February, and got my money
  back.
    The ice worm in this episode was actually an oddly-colored
  rhemoraz.

    Attention, all you readers who wanted to know where the
  Aristobulus stories were on the internet.  Here is the original
  place I found them (thanks to Nathan Weismuller) and the place
  they have been copied to (thanks to David Murphy) :

    ftp.cs.pdx.edu in /pub/frp/stories/aristobulus

    http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/aristobulus

  And now for one final thing:



---------------------------------8<----------------------------------

  I've been thinking about doing another little survey for a while
now, so here it is.  This one will allow me to update my demographic
and it will also give me an idea of how the readers are reacting to
the saga as a whole.  I will publish the results when all of them
seem to be in.

  What I'd like to know:

1)  your age
2)  country you live in
3)  favorite Adventurer (includes henchpeople; please just pick one)
4)  favorite non-Adventurer character
5)  have you been reading since the original release of #1 (in late
    1991) or did you discover Adventurers after that?  (either/or
    answer please)
6)  would you mind seeing the Adventurers saga end (except for
    special one-shots and such) if it meant I'd produce something new
    and different?  (yes/no answer please)
7)  would you join/participate in an Adventurers discussion list if
    I made one?  (yes/no answer)
8)  what is your favorite type of storytelling (dungeoncrawl, battle,
    intrigue) ?
9)  do you use any of the web or ftp sites to get your episodes?  if
    so, which one?

  If you don't want to answer a question, aren't sure, or can't decide,
please leave it blank (don't give me multiple choices, I cannot tally
those.)

  As soon as each vote is tallied, I will delete the email, so none
of this will be on record.

  Thanks in advance!

---------------------------------8<----------------------------------

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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