Chapter #546

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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:        1/3/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       the City of the Gods, within the Land of Black Ice  +
+  Climate:     moderate                                            +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Sane people do not _build_ weapons like this!"                  +
+                                         - from _Under Siege 2_    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                     DXLVI.  Man of Steel





  The party has just entered a large chamber and discovered a
huge, humanoid metallic construct.  Unfortunately for them, the
thing has come to life and attacked!

Ys:  (knocked back thirty feet by the construct's launched fist,
  he slams into the bulkhead, denting it)  Ungh!
Bosco:  This is _not_ good.
Kinichi:  (staring at the big metal foe, in awe)
Jutokai:  Don't just stand there - get the thing!  (he draws and
  fires an arrow)
robot:  (turns to the archer as the arrow bounces off of its
  plated chest)
Jutokai:  Whoa.
robot:  (points its handless arm at Jutokai)
Jutokai:  (backing away)  What's it going to launch at me now?
robot:  (its hand-stump sparks and crackles, then emits an arc
  of pure electricity)
Jutokai:  (blasted, he flies backward)  Aie!
Bosco:  He shouldn't have asked that question...
Kinichi:  (in one fluid motion, he hurls a magical net over the
  foe)
robot:  (caught in the net)
Kinichi:  Hah!  Got him!
robot:  (stands and spreads its arms, ripping the net to shreds)
Kinichi:  Dammit.

  The others, however, had not been idle.  Even as Kinichi watched
his prized magical net get torn apart, Lyra was dropping another
net - a magical web, to be exact - over the huge foe.  As the web
snared the construct, Alindyar fired an acidic bolt at the thing's
head, covering it in sizzling, bubbling goop.  Belphanior rounded
out the attack with an acid arrow, aiming at and hitting the foe's
knee.

Belphanior:  Good work, everybody.  Now, let's-
robot:  (emits white foam from numerous tiny holes on its body,
  neutralizing both acid hits)
Bosco:  (charging to the attack, he slips in the foam and slides
  between the robot's legs)  Whoaaaa...(he careens into a wall)
  Oof!
Otto:  Well, at least we know it didn't like the acid.
Belphanior:  True, but now acid won't bother it anymore.
Aja:  We'll try something else, then.  (she completes her spell,
  bringing into existence a large black sickle of force)
Otto:  Whoa!  New ordnance!
Aja:  A variation of the standard spiritual hammer, actually...
  except that my sickle can cut and slash.  (she brings the force-
  weapon into play, slashing at the metal foe)
robot:  (suffers only a scratch, along with a scraping sound; its
  armor remains undamaged)
Aja:  Uh-oh.  That sickle's strong enough to slice steel...
Belphanior:  Obviously we're dealing with something stronger than
  steel...
Jutokai:  (gets to his feet, his hair standing straight up)  Ungh...
  what hit me?
Kinichi:  Don't worry about it right now-
robot:  (sends another electricity-blast arcing at the adventurers,
  this one hitting Alindyar and Lyra)
Alindyar:  (blasted, he falls)  Argh!
Lyra:  (likewise)  Ungh!
Otto:  Shit!  It's targeting us - taking out the strongest ones
  first!
Ys:  (lumbers past, sword held high)  I wouldn't go that far.

  The robot turned to fire another electrical blast, but Ys' great
sword collided with its head before it could complete the attack.
The sword, besides being thick and heavy, was more than mere steel;
the robot's armored head suffered an inches-deep dent, and smoke
seeped from its mouth-grille.

Ys:  So there.
robot:  (raises its other fist, pointing it at the reptilian's
  face)
Ys:  Oh, no you don't.  (he drops his sword, seizing the deadly
  fist with both hands and forcing it back)  Ungh!

  Ys was a mighty strong fellow, but he quickly realized that the
robot was stronger.  Inch by inch, the arm moved forward despite
the reptilian's best efforts...

Ys:  Ungh...(he grits his teeth, and the muscles beneath his grey
  skin bulge)
robot:  (still winning the contest)
Otto:  (behind the robot, he jams a long dagger into its acid-
  burned knee joint, feeling things give under the sharp steel
  tip of the weapon)  Need some help?
Ys:  Sure...
robot:  (suddenly electrifies its body, knocking both dwarf and
  reptilian away)
Otto:  Ungh!
Ys:  Argh!
Belphanior:  (fumbling about in his pouch of holding)  Damned
  electricity attacks...we've got to do something about that.
  (to Kinichi)  Cover me.
Kinichi:  Uh...right.

  The tracker moved as if to attack the huge foe, and succeeded
in drawing its attention.

robot:  (takes a couple of steps toward Kinichi)
Kinichi:  (sword in hand, he backs away)  Okay...err...
Belphanior:  (dashes forth, slapping something small and shiny onto
  the robot's web-strand covered back, where it sticks)
robot:  (turns, swinging a huge fist at the elf)
Belphanior:  (ducking, he rolls back out of the way)
Kinichi:  What was that all about?
Belphanior:  Let's hope we find out.
Kinichi:  Huh?
Aja:  (busy healing the wounded drow)

  The robot was also healing, in a manner of speaking.  It pointed
its handless wrist at the previously-launched fist, and the thing
actually _returned_, snapping back on seamlessly!

Belphanior:  (impressed)  I must have one of these things.
Lyra:  You can have this one, if we defeat it.
Belphanior:  Deal.
Bosco:  (re-enters the fray, charging forth)  Let's get him!
Belphanior:  (grabs the halfling by the collar)  Whoa, there,
  Bosco!
Bosco:  Hey!  What gives?
Belphanior:  Hold up for a bit - we're trying to get it to attack
  us.
Bosco:  Oh.  (his eyes widen)  We are?!?
Lyra:  Here, let me help.

  The drow sorceress launched a volley of magical missiles at the
foe, but they barely staggered it, leaving small black blast marks
on its armor.  Alindyar followed with a Stop spell, which didn't
affect the thing at all.

Alindyar:  Aie...magical resistance...
Bosco:  I'll cast a spell, then.
Alindyar:  (raises one eyebrow and smirks)
Lyra:  New tactic, then.  (she ESPs something to Alindyar)
Belphanior:  (standing near them, he waves his sword at the foe)
  Come on, blast us!
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Is he insane?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  He's always been insane.
robot:  (points at the trio, its hand crackling)
Belphanior:  Yesss...

  The construct launched another deadly arc of electricity...which
immediately circled back and zapped it in the back!

Bosco:  Whoa!
Belphanior:  Hah!

  The construct was visibly shaken - smoke poured from some of its
joints, and sparks shot from its mouth.  Loud, sharp popping sounds
came from its massive body.

Lyra:  We have a plan - can someone move the thing back, away from
  us?
Ys:  (standing again)  I'd venture to guess that I can.
Lyra:  Please do, then.  (to Belphanior)  This is going to be rather
  explosive - we'll need a wall of force around all of us as soon as
  I cast my spell.
Belphanior:  (not accustomed to being given orders)  Uh...okay.
  (he begins spellcasting)
Ys:  (charges)
Otto:  (gathering the others, he gets them behind the magi)
Bosco:  (trying to get around and get back into the fight, he has
  to be held back physically)  But...but...
Otto:  Can it, Bosco.
Ys:  (collides with the dazed construct)

  The big reptilian hit the robot like a ton of bricks, knocking
it back against the far wall, where it fell on its rear, still
smoking and sparking.

Lyra:  Get away from it, now!
Ys:  (lumbers away)  If you say so...
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Now.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye.  (he launches a fireball right at
  the foe, bathing it in flames)
robot:  (just sits there)
Jutokai:  What good will that do?  The thing's probably immune to
  heat.

  Indeed, the robot seemed uninjured, though it was now red-hot
as it basked in the flames.  It stood and began walking toward
them.

Jutokai:  See?  Fire is useless against it!
Bosco:  (frowning and rubbing his tiny chin)  He's right, you know.
Lyra:  (already working her own spell now)  We have something more
  dangerous in mind.
Otto:  Really?  This I've got to see.
Lyra:  Well, get ready.

  She quickly completed her spell, pointing one finger at the red-
hot construct.  A thin white beam issued forth, right at the foe.

Lyra:  The wall, now!
Belphanior:  (erects a bubble of force around all of them)

  The elf's spell was just in time; when the ray of absolute cold
hit the superheated robot, there was a tremendous explosion that
showered the chamber in a deadly hail of metallic debris.  Safe
within Belphanior's force-bubble, the adventurers could only watch
and be thankful.

Belphanior:  Brilliant...fucking brilliant!
Lyra:  Thank you.
Belphanior:  Of course, now I won't get that construct.
Otto:  Somehow, I think that's a good thing.
wispy thing:  (flies around over Belphanior's head)
Belphanior:  Where the hell have you been off to?
wispy thing:  (smirks)  Vroot!
Belphanior:  (shaking his head)  Bah.
Aja:  What do we do now?
Kinichi:  You mean after waiting for the destruction to clear up?
Bosco:  I've got a deck of cards.
Belphanior:  No, here's a better idea:  we're finally going to
  camp and get some sleep!





  Meanwhile, half a world away, a small party of strangers entered
the town of Helgate...

leader:  (large and broadly-built, he tosses back the hood of his
  thick grey cloak)  This is it...Helgate.
tracker:  (tall, lean, and gaunt)  Doesn't look like much.
leader:  Neither did that elf, from what I hear - yet he laid waste
  to a large chunk of land.
gigantic cloaked figure:  (nearly ten feet tall, and almost entirely
  clad in thick, obscuring clothes, it grunts)

  The band's leader, Omak, was a high-ranking officer in the forces
of the Sea Princes.  He'd been chosen for this mission because of his
previous experience with adventuring and unusual foes, and because of
his famed leadership skills and drive to succeed.  A veteran of many
campaigns, he was quick-thinking and precise in his orders, and he
expected them to be obeyed.
  Most of the others in this group didn't share his motivations, but
then again, what could be expected of mercenaries-for-hire?  Still,
the mission was the important thing, not the methods used to succeed.
Years ago, the elf they sought had led a band of slave-freeing fools
on a sudden, chaotic, destructive rampage through the Holds of the
Sea Princes.  Then, years later, he'd returned and caused yet more
death and destruction.  It had taken years of financing, searching,
and organizing, but finally - now - Omak had the resources he needed
to hunt down and destroy his quarry.
  The "resources" consisted mostly of paid mercenaries - seasoned
adventurers who came highly recommended and qualified, if at a high
cost.  Only the tracker Canis was, like Omak, a subject of the Sea
Princes.  The army's best scout, he'd been tapped for this mission
by Omak himself.  He was the best there was, and his people-skills
and city smarts were the only reason they'd picked up Belphanior's
trail and discovered that it led to Helgate.
  The massive, ten-foot form that lumbered along behind the tracker
was Ug, a member of some lost, scaled race of giants.  He brought a
great deal of raw physical might to the group; he was capable of
felling trees with his anchor-sized battleaxe.  Unknown to even Omak,
however, Ug had personal and unfinished business with one member of
Belphanior's hired help.
  The other nine members of the "dirty dozen" consisted of:

  Ixlin, a gnomish illusionist and thief, whose cocky brash demeanor
    masked a cunning, observant mind
  Vybool, an ogre mage warrior/wizard who was ruthless and efficient,
    specializing in destructive magic and fighting with two swords at
    once
  Xylus, a shady assassin who publicly was in this for the money, but
    privately coveted a certain famed dark sword that Belphanior held
  Aeson, a genie (a dao, actually) from the elemental plane of earth,
    who was simply fulfilling the requirements of a contest he'd lost
    to one of the Sea Princes
  Kenso Adon, a small, weak-looking man who was actually a monk of
    fearsome skill and deadly disposition, experienced in fighting
    spellcasters and using magical items
  Grub, a vastly obese and utterly disgusting necrotic priest who
    relied primarily on magical items to get by
  Wampa, a fierce warrior who also happened to be a weretiger, and
    was a pure killer in his bloodlust-crazed battles
  Rykooda, a human warrior/wizard who had honed his bare-handed
    fighting skills so that he might deliver devastating touch-
    spell attacks
  Klark, master of the summoned spirit and conjured monster, who
    could build a small army of beasts in a short period of time

Omak:  (regarding the buildings ahead as his group enters Helgate)
  Okay, you all know the plan.  Let's split up and establish our base
  of operations here.

  They dispersed into several smaller groups, then entered the town
proper to begin their takeover.





next:      more weirdness in the City of the Gods
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:     The fire & ice trick that they used on the robot first
  came along in an old issue of X-Men, 170-something.  I always
  liked it.
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