Chapter #576

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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 1991-8 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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Belphanior     (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief    (CN) +
+    Otto           8th/10th level dwarven fighter/thief       (CN) +
+    Aja            9th level human priestess of Wee Jas        (N) +
+    Jutokai        7th level human archer                     (LN) +
+    Razor Charlie  9th level human fighter                    (CN) +
+    Skektek       12th level human wizard                     (CN) +
+    Ys            13th level reptilian fighter                (LN) +
+                                                                   +
+  Captain Redjack, skipper of the sunken _Shark's Tooth_           +
+    Anak, a wizard                                                 +
+    Ferdis, a navigator                                            +
+    Jordy, a crewman                                               +
+    Norgerd, a cook                                                +
+    Plebius, a first mate                                          +
+    Yeeha, a harpooner                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:           2/3/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+  Time:           late morning                                     +
+  Place:          a small island somewhere in the Azure Sea        +
+  Climate:        cold                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I think I should take him out."                                 +
+  "You mean killing?  When?"                                       +
+  "As soon as possible."                                           +
+                                         - from _Blue Thunder_     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    DLXXVI.  Open Conflict





  After landing on an island in the middle of nowhere, the group
has fought off a giant crab, eaten, and rested.  Now, they prepare
to explore the island.

Otto:  Where are we, anyway?
Ferdis:  Somewhere way out in the Azure Sea...this isle's not on
  any charts.
Redjack:  (shaking his head)  I should have known better.
Belphanior:  That may be, but it's too late now.
Redjack:  (scowls, determined to get some measure of revenge on the
  elf and his companions)
Razor Charlie:  (frowns, determined to put a knife in the captain's
  back as soon as the time is right)

  They set out, leaving the beach and entering the forest.  The trees
were unusual, at least to the residents of Helgate, who were used to
hardwoods and conifers rather than tropical trees.  There was a fair
measure of wildlife here - birds, bugs, and such - but nothing larger
showed itself.

Jordy:  I wonder if there're any people here?
Norgerd:  (shrugs)
Plebius:  No blabbering, boys.  Keep your eyes on the path ahead.
Yeeha:  (silent, he hefts his new spear, anxious to try it out)

  They had discovered an old trail, overgrown and unused for quite
some time.  Assuming that it led somewhere, they now pursued it.

Belphanior:  (casting a spell)
Redjack:  What are you up to now?
Belphanior:  Wandering about aimlessly is stupid.  I'm going up to
  have a look.
Redjack:  Well, don't expect us to wait for you.
Belphanior:  (floating up into the air, toward the treetops)  Have
  it your way, but if I see you moving away from the main party, I'll
  have to blast you with a lightning bolt.  (he vanishes from sight
  into the sky above the trees)
Skektek:  (muttering to himself)  Dammit.
Ys:  What ails you now?
Skektek:  (frowning)  What he just said reminded me...my wand of
  lightning is gone.  I lost it when they attacked me in Helgate.
Jutokai:  Well, somebody had to pick it up.
Skektek:  Yes, I'm sure some kid found it and brought it home and
  gave it to his sister or something.
Razor Charlie:  (chuckles)
Ys:  Let us hope that the child was a bright one, then.
Otto:  (watching Redjack's people closely as he waits for Belphanior)

  Suddenly, the elf descended, a stern look on his face.

Otto:  Anything?
Belphanior:  This island is small...less than a league across, I'd
  guess.  It's kind of a natural peak - the terrain goes uphill from
  the beaches, to a little mountain at the center.  It's little more
  than a tree-covered hill, really.  But there's a structure at its
  center, a temple of some kind.
Otto:  Then that's where we're going?
Redjack:  How splendid.  Maybe we'll find a new ship there so we
  can get home.

  They continued, and as Belphanior had predicted to himself, the
old trail took them right to the center of the island.  The building
they found there was unusual, but simplistic; it was fashioned of
large, basic blocks of stone.  These formed a structure that looked
much like a temple, though the building had no windows and only one
door.  This entrance was more of a missing block than a portal in
its own right, but there was darkness within, and Belphanior was
curious now.

Belphanior:  We'll rest here for a bit before moving in.  Get your
  weapons ready - you'll need them.
Jordy:  We don't have any weapons - we lost them when the _Shark's
  Tooth_ sunk!
Yeeha:  (hefts the spear he made)  Speak for yourself.
Otto:  (to Jordy)  Don't worry.  We'll protect you.
Skektek:  (spots Redjack nod to Yeeha)  Whoa, what's-

  It happened, just like that; after biding their time and waiting
for the right moment, Redjack's people sprung into action.  Yeeha
spun and stabbed with his spear, creasing Otto's side and knocking
the dwarf to the ground.  Norgerd hurled the large rock he had in
his hands, bashing Aja over the head, stunning her.  Ferdis tackled
Jutokai, while Plebius picked up a thick piece of dead wood and
charged Razor Charlie.  Redjack (who had retained his cutlass) drew
the weapon and faced off against Belphanior.  Anak backed away, his
hands working some spell.  Only Jordy seemed oblivious to the plan,
and it was apparent that he'd not been let in on it as it had been
formed and communicated.

Yeeha:  (grim-faced, he swings his spear around for another stab)
Otto:  (rolls away, drawing his sword)  You just made one hell of a
  mistake.
Yeeha:  We'll see.  (he lunges)
Otto:  (bats the spear away)
Yeeha:  (flips the butt-end of the weapon around, catching the foe
  in the temple)
Otto:  Ungh!  (he falls)
Yeeha:  (raises his spear)
Otto:  (kicks the harpooner in the crotch)
Yeeha:  URGH!  (he staggers back)
Otto:  (rolls forward, slashing, but misses since he is still dazed
  and seeing stars)
Norgerd:  (standing over Aja, he quickly binds her hands behind her
  back, figuring to stop her from casting spells)
Aja:  (still only half-conscious as blood runs down the side of her
  head)

  The cook was confused by his orders, but Redjack had been very
specific:  the priestess was to live.  Norgerd figured that the
captain had taken a fancy to this one; it had happened enough in
the past.  He shrugged; it wasn't his place to think or to question
orders.  If it was, he wouldn't be a cook.

Norgerd:  (his work done, he turns to help his crewmates, but meets
  Ys' huge sword instead)
Ys:  (swings through, cutting the man in half and spraying the area
  with blood and guts)  That's one.  (he spots Aja, but also hears
  the sounds of other, more crucial struggles and goes to help with
  them)
Ferdis:  (weaponless, he pummels Jutokai, counting on his companions
  to come to his aid at some point)
Jutokai:  (wrestling with the sailor, he trades punches and kicks,
  giving as good as he gets)
Plebius:  (charging, he swings his makeshift club at Razor Charlie)
Razor Charlie:  (smirks, dodging easily as he reaches into his belt-
  sash, each hand coming up with a knife)
Plebius:  (whirls)  Now you die-
Razor Charlie:  (puts a knife in the man's throat, following with
  another to his face)
Plebius:  (falls, dying)
Redjack:  (dueling with Belphanior)  Take that, landlubber!
Belphanior:  (parries the blow, dealing one of his own)  You should
  have just stuck to our agreement.  Now we're going to have to kill
  you and all your men.

  The sea captain was an excellent swordsman, though, and he matched
Belphanior's attacks and defenses with great skill and speed.  Nearby,
Anak launched his first attack, dashing forth and deftly tapping Ys
on the side of his leg.  The reptilian hadn't even seen the attack
coming - the wizard was faster than he should be, and something was
not right here.  Ys didn't have time to think about it, though, for
he was jolted with a powerful blast, the electricity coursing through
his body and dropping him to his knees.

Anak:  (darts away, working another spell)
Skektek:  (launches a volley of fiery missiles at the other wizard)
  Chew on this!
Anak:  (ignores the bolts as they fizzle away before hitting him)
Skektek:  Dammit.  (he begins working on a lightning bolt, muttering
  and cursing to himself)

  Close by...

Otto:  (blocks Yeeha's spear with his sword, and the spear breaks
  in half on the sword's keen edge)
Yeeha:  Uh-oh.
Otto:  (stabs quickly, but only grazes the lithe harpooner as the
  latter leaps back)
Yeeha:  (holding the blunt end of his spear, he awaits Otto's next
  attack)
Otto:  (whips out his barbed knife, hurling it)

  The dwarf was no Razor Charlie, but he didn't have to be.  His
knife distracted the foe for a moment, and that was all he needed
as he leapt, landing atop the harpooner blade-first.

Yeeha:  (impaled as Otto stands atop him)  Arghhh...
Otto:  (sets one foot on the foe's chest, pulling his sword out)
  That's that.  (he turns to regard the rest of the battle, taking
  out his crossbow and loading a bolt into it)

  The dwarf's bolt was a special one, for it carried a flask of oil
and a fuse, tied to its shaft.  Such a missile was useless at long
ranges, but for closer attacks it was accurate enough.  Otto lit the
fuse, taking aim at the wizard Anak; however, a scuffling noise
behind him caused him to turn - and just in time!  Yeeha stood, dark
blood gushing from his pierced chest, and staggered toward Otto, the
sharp end of his broken spear clutched in his hands.

Otto:  Oh, for crying...(he shoots the man)
Yeeha:  (knocked back, he bursts into flame a moment later)  EYAAAGH!
Otto:  Should've just cut his throat...

  Meanwhile, Ferdis and Jutokai were still scuffling, but their fight
was ended when Razor Charlie threw a knife into Ferdis' back.

Ferdis:  (rolls away, standing)  Ugh...(he pulls the knife out and
  looks at it...then drops)
Jutokai:  (turns to Charlie)  Poison?
Razor Charlie:  Why not?  (he smiles thinly, pleased with his newest
  innovation)

  Anak hadn't been idle during this time, for he now brought a dozen
ebon tentacles into being amidst the regrouping adventurers.  These
black things writhed and grabbed, crushing anyone who they caught.
Still, they were little more than a distraction, for there were
enough of the foes to pull the things off of each other before anyone
could be crushed to death.  Anak worked another spell as he darted
toward his captain...

Redjack:  (still trading attacks with Belphanior)  This grows old...
Belphanior:  (nicked and bleeding from a dozen minor wounds, as is
  his opponent)  It won't go on much longer, for I'll see your
  heart beating out blood as you lay on the ground, dying.
Anak:  (casting from a scroll, he throws up a huge curtain of raw
  iron right between the two, knocking Belphanior back)
Redjack:  (looks around, realizing that he and the wizard are now
  cut off from their foes)  What?!?
Anak:  We must escape, to fight another day.  (he is already working
  a new spell)  We don't have long - they will get around my wall
  in short order.
Redjack:  (spots the open entrance to the temple)  There!  We'll take
  cover in that place!  (he heads that way, as does the wizard)
Aja:  (lying on the ground, still bound but struggling furiously)
Redjack:  Ah!  (he grabs the priestess in one smooth motion, throwing
  her over his shoulder as he runs into the temple)
Anak:  (follows, then turns, bringing into existence a thick wall of
  stone that plugs the entryway, completely blocking it)

  Outside...

Skektek:  (ready to launch his lightning bolt, he suddenly finds
  himself without a target)  Oh, for crying...
Jutokai:  Where'd that mass of rock come from?
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces at the blocked cavern entrance)
Belphanior:  Dammit!  We need to bring this down!
Skektek:  Don't bother - we can just go around it.
Ys:  Or over it.  (he pulls at the thing, trying to pull it down)  Or
  maybe not.
Otto:  (rounds one edge of the thing, and sees the temple's entrance
  and the huge mass of stone blocking it)  They've gone inside!
Jutokai:  (looking around)  Where's Aja?
Ys:  They had her knocked out and tied up.
Belphanior:  They must have taken her into the temple with them...
  (he shakes his head)
Razor Charlie:  (grabs the crewman Jordy, who has done nothing since
  the battle begun, and shoves the youth forward)  What about him?
Belphanior:  (waves a hand)  He's nothing - not a part of Redjack's
  plan, either.  He'll pose no problem, no threat.  What we have to
  do is get through that temple entrance, find Redjack and his damned
  wizard, kill them, get Aja back...and _then_ find Omak.
Otto:  (wiping sweat and blood from his brow)  It's shaping up to be
  quite a day.





next:      into the strange temple
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:     Thanks to Bob Ericksen and Frank Mills for some of the
  weaponry ideas used in this story.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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