Chapter #570

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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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven warrior                     (CG) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/3/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       the floor of the Riftcanyon, near Greyspire         +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Of all escape mechanisms, death is the most efficient."         +
+                                                - H. L. Mencken    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                 DLXX.  Escape from the Riftcanyon





  Huddled in the rocky crevice, Mongo found himself unable to sleep
or even rest.  Perhaps it was the ever-present element of danger;
he'd already fought and killed a large, bat-like creature since
emerging from Greyspire's depths into the bottom of the Riftcanyon.
Or perhaps it was the cold - far from freezing, but enough to chill
the bones and make one generally uncomfortable.
  Of course, things like comfort weren't as important to Mongo as
a good shelter, like the one he was in now.  He'd found the narrow
crevice between two huge boulders; there were many like it on the
canyon floor, but this one was his.  Backed into the crack as he
was, nothing could sneak up on him or attack from any direction
other than his front.  Stormcrest and Mongo's strong arm awaited
any such foes.
  He had no fire, since he didn't want to attract attention, but
he'd eaten and drunk his fill thanks to his magical horn of plenty.
He hadn't wanted to continue his explorations under the cover of
night, so here he was, holed up in this space between two huge
rocks.  His eyes, glaring out from beneath bushy eyebrows, were
alert for any sign of danger.  He half-slept at times, counting
on his instincts to warn him of approaching man or beast.  He'd
dragged a large boulder over, using it to partially block the
"entrance" to his place of shelter, and then clambered over it
into the crevice.
  For all this preparation, nothing bothered him during the night.
Quite frankly, this surprised him; between the tales he'd heard in
Greyspire and the weird cacophony of noises he'd heard all night
long, he'd been sure that _something_ would attack.  Nevertheless,
he was also glad to have been wrong, and as the sun rose, finally
casting blurred rays into the canyon's floor, Mongo emerged from
his hole and stretched.  After that, he ate a quick meal and
prepared to set out.
  Since he was at the base of Greyspire, he took this opportunity
to explore the fortress' roots.  After all, if there was any kind
of opening or other weakness down here - other than the hole he'd
made while escaping Greyspire - Lord Marcus would want to know
about it.  Mongo fully intended to survive this side trip and
return to the regions above.  He wasn't entirely sure that he'd
remain at Greyspire, though; he had about had his fill of command
and responsibility.  He'd lost damn near the entire squad given to
him, learning the hard way that being stronger and tougher than
everyone else didn't mean he could save them from harm.  At this
moment, Mongo was more than a little disheartened and discouraged
about the idea of being in an army.
  That was a problem for another time, though; right now he had to
press on, and hopefully find a way up and out of the canyon.  The
fact that he'd made it through one night didn't fool him; sooner
or later he was going to get attacked.  He might as well be on his
way out when it happened.  Since a good half-hour of exploring
Greyspire's base hadn't yielded anything, he hefted Stormcrest,
stood, and began marching away from the base of Greyspire.  It
didn't take him long to enter the ravine proper, either.  The
terrain down here was rough and laden with obstacles; rocks of
all sizes, many of them jagged, had to be stepped around.  The
climate was dry and cool; Mongo figured that the thick layer of
fog had an isolating effect on the environment here, keeping heat
and moisture out.
  Still, there were occasional puddles of water, remnants of what
little rainfall this region saw.  Scraggly weeds and bushes grew
here and there, little patches of green amidst a wasteland of brown
rock and dirt.  Mongo moved through this desolate place, thinking
more about what sorts of creatures made their home down here than
how to get out.
  He didn't have to wonder long.  As he walked along the center of
the canyon, a huge, purple head poked out from an unseen cavern
somewhere ahead.  The tooth-ringed maw at the end of this head was
at least ten feet across, easily capable of swallowing a horse
whole.  Mongo, who was much smaller than a horse, watched in awe
as the worm's body continued to emerge - the damned thing was
enormous!
  He didn't waste any time.  Running and hiding were both futile
options, and ones Mongo wasn't used to.  Hefting Stormcrest, he
drew his arm back, then hurled the enchanted hammer with all his
might.  The dwarven weapon sailed straight and true, smashing
into the side of the worm's head.  The impact was enough to send
the monster into writhing convulsions; the rear portion of its
body was still in the tunnel, and the ground shook as the thing
battered the rock around it.
  Catching his hammer, Mongo pressed the attack, throwing the
weapon a second time.  The huge worm, which had just turned its
savage maw back in Mongo's direction, took the second blow atop
its head; green blood and chunks of flesh spewed everywhere, and
it squealed in pain.  With a sudden and very ponderous motion,
the creature convulsed its body, propelling itself toward the
tiny foe.

Mongo:  Shit!  (he catches his hammer and darts to one side, just
  as the worm smashes down right where he was standing)

  The canyon floor shook, knocking the dwarf from his feet.  He
stood up just in time to see the worm's gigantic maw descending
toward him, shield-sized teeth rimming the black mouth...

Mongo:  (dropping Stormcrest for the moment, he picks up a six-
  foot wide boulder and hurls it into that yawning mouth)

  The huge worm snapped at the big rock, but it was too late;
the thing was already lodged in its throat.  It gnashed its
teeth and writhed back and forth, trying to chew or crush this
new form of food.  Mongo recovered his hammer, rolling aside to
avoid being smashed by the flailing worm.

Mongo:  Hah.  Chew on that, ugly!

  The worm wasn't even paying attention to him anymore, and he
took advantage of that fact to put some distance between himself
and the monster.  The thing wasn't even worth killing at this
point; that was the difference between Mongo and someone like
Belphanior.  Resisting the impulse to whistle as he walked,
Mongo continued on his journey, leaving behind a titanic and
very angry foe whose movements still shook the canyon.  Mongo
could still feel the ground shake well after the worm was out
of sight.
  He marched on, stopping every couple hours for a brief meal
and rest.  The canyon floor wasn't devoid of animal life; he
spotted small, fanged rabbit-like creatures, hopping about
amidst the scrub brush and weeds.  There were also birds here,
scrawny, nasty-looking things that swooped around but never
came close to the dwarf.  Once, such a bird tried to take one
of the rabbit-things, plummeting down in a silent, deadly arc
with its talons open.  The rabbit, however, turned and stood
on its hind legs, baring its long teeth and hissing.  The bird
broke off its attack, flying away to seek less hostile prey.

Mongo:  Weird rabbit.

  A short while later, as he stepped through dense patches of
green scrub-brush, the dwarf was attacked again.  This time,
the assault came not from a cave or the air, but from below!
Leafy green tendrils snaked up from the ground, wrapping them-
selves around his legs and torso.

Mongo:  Hey!

  The green fronds must have been covered with tiny thorns
or something, because those parts unprotected by armor were
being cut and torn.  Worse, the sharp leaves had some kind
of venom, for the wounds they made stung like hell.

Mongo:  OW!

  Then again, this was Mongo, no stranger to pain...or battle.
Since his hammer wasn't quite useful here, he grabbed the
tendrils in his gauntleted hands, intending to rip them apart.
They were strong, though - so strong that he found himself
pulling at whatever part of this plant-like attacker was still
concealed underground.  As the razor-sharp leaves sawed at his
arms and legs, causing blood to trickle down his limbs, Mongo
planted his feet and pulled with all his might.  There was a
loud snapping sound, and then the rock underfoot cracked and
broke.  Mongo fell backward as the plant-creature's core - a
huge, bulbous brown thing about five feet across - was torn
free of its earthen lair.

Mongo:  Damn!

  The green tendrils flailed about wildly now, and Mongo took
a firmer hold on them, then whirled the monster's body over
his head before slamming it into the ground.  After that, the
tendrils waved about even more frantically; Mongo spun the
thing around and around, then let go.  The bulb, its tendrils
still writhing, sailed away, landing about fifty feet behind
Mongo.

Mongo:  (checking his limbs)  Argh...

  He suffered from dozens of small lacerations, but already
his magical ring was working to heal his wounds.  As for the
unknown venom or whatever had made the cuts sting so much,
it too seemed to be wearing off.  Mongo knew that he had quite
a bit of tolerance for such things, so he forgot all about it
once the battle was over.
  Soon, he resumed his trek, but he had to admit, things weren't
looking good.  The canyon was getting deeper, it seemed; if
nothing else, it wasn't getting shallower.  He still couldn't
see the top, and there was no apparent way to get up there.
Worse, every step he made actually brought him _farther_ from
Greyspire, since once he got out of the canyon he'd just have
to turn around and walk back to the fortress.  Frustration
began to set in, and so it was that when he was attacked later
in the afternoon, his new foes felt his wrath in a most painful
manner...

harpy:  (leaps from its hiding-place on a ledge above, diving
  toward the dwarf)  Screeee!
Mongo:  Fuck!  (he raises his shield to protect him)
harpy:  (its talons rake the shield, and it soars back into
  the sky, laughing)
harpy #2:  (emerges, preparing to attack from the other side)
Mongo:  To hell with this!  (he hurls Stormcrest, hitting
  the second monster and punching a hole through its chest,
  causing blood and guts to rain down to the ground)
harpy #2:  (falls like a rock, dead)
harpy #1:  Aieeeek!  (it flies away at top speed, even as
  Stormcrest returns to Mongo's hand)
Mongo:  Oh, no you don't!  (he throws the weapon again, and
  the harpy is hit despite the long distance)  Hah!
harpy #1:  Screeee!  (it falls, corkscrewing down to the
  ground)

  Mongo ran over to the fallen monster, which was still very
much alive.  It looked like his hammer had clipped its hip
or something, but its torso, head, and wings were undamaged.
That gave Mongo an idea.

Mongo:  (smacks the harpy in the head with his gauntleted
  hand, to keep it dazed, then begins looking for some rope)
harpy:  (dazed)
Mongo:  (finds some rope)
harpy:  (still dazed)
Mongo:  (ties a double loop around himself, checks it, then
  ties the other end around the creature)
harpy:  (still dazed)
Mongo:  (points upward)  Fly me out of here.
harpy:  (still dazed)
Mongo:  (smacks the harpy again)
harpy:  (blinks, shaking its head)  Scree!
Mongo:  (raises his fist)  Shut up.
harpy:  (understands the threat, and begins eyeing the rope)
Mongo:  (points upward with his other hand)  Up!  Take me up!
harpy:  (looks confused)

  Mongo suspected that the creature actually did understand
what he wanted, and was only toying with him.  Accordingly,
he grew quite angry, and red in the face.  The harpy saw this
and remembered the force of the blow that had felled it, even
at a great distance.

harpy:  (suddenly begins nodding, and pointing upward)
Mongo:  Yes.  Yes!  (he grabs the harpy's torso)  Go!

  The creature had a bit of a difficult time getting off the
ground, but Mongo's armor was unnaturally light, and most of
his heavy items were in magical spaces.  They rose, the dwarf
keeping a tight grip both for his own safety (should the rope
fail) and so the harpy would remember that he could snap its
neck in an instant.  The fog grew closer and closer, and then
they were within it, and it didn't seem so thick.  Mongo
wondered how the harpy could see, but see it did; a short
time later, they emerged into a bright, dry day, the edge
of the Riftcanyon a few hundred feet above them.  As they
ascended, Mongo grew excited; he wanted to be out of this
place and heading back to Greyspire.  He kept worrying that
the harpy would find some way to shake him loose, right
before they reached the top.  However, it didn't happen, and
after they'd reached surface level, Mongo began yelling at
the creature.
  Again, it must have understood what he wanted, because it
flew over solid land and descended.  When Mongo's feet hit
the rock, he let go and grabbed the rope, snapping it.

harpy:  (looking around fearfully)
Mongo:  Go on!  Get lost!
harpy:  (runs, taking to the air and then turning and heading
  straight down into the canyon)
Mongo:  (removes the rest of his rope and tosses it aside,
  disgusted)  Stinky damn monster, that one.

  With that, the dwarf turned westward and began the trek back to
Greyspire.





next:      Helgate!  Is Jutokai dead?  What new items did
           Belphanior get from the battle with Omak?  What
           will the next move be?
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
email:     tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     I guess the rabbits had their revenge in this episode.
  The time had come.
    Hey, for those of you who are WCW wrestling fans, you may be
  interested to know that on 10/31/98 I joined Main Event Fitness
  here in Atlanta.  This is Lex Luger's gym, and almost all the
  wrestlers work out there.  Oh, and the Nitro Girls too.  The
  other day, I did shoulder work on the bench next to Fyre.  I've
  also seen Kimberly up close and personal.  Mmmmmm.
    Of course, I joined because I'm ready to make a more serious
  commitment to fitness...take it to the next level, so to speak.
  I'm lifting 5-6 days a week now and also doing cardio, to the
  tune of 30 minutes and 600 calories each time.  Combined with
  an adamant refusal to eat meals out and well-researched and
  planned dietary supplementation, this is sure to net me better
  results than ever before, probably by the new year.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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