Chapter #578

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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                    +
+                           +
+  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) +
+                                                                   +
+  VARIOUS OTHERS PRESENT:                                          +
+                                                                   +
+  Omak                       human warrior                         +
+  Canis                      human tracker                         +
+  Ixlin                      gnome illusionist/thief               +
+  Wampa                      human weretiger warrior               +
+  warriors (12)                                                    +
+                                                                   +
+  Captain Redjack, skipper of the sunken _Shark's Tooth_           +
+    Anak, a wizard                                                 +
+                                                                   +
+  mummies (4)                                                      +
+  Date:           2/3/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+  Time:           midday                                           +
+  Place:          a small island somewhere in the Azure Sea        +
+  Climate:        cool                                             +
+  "I can't say it all went exactly as I planned, but I was         +
+   right about one thing:  they were all better off dead."         +
+                                      - from _Last Man Standing_   +

                   DLXXVIII.  Final Conflict

  After a rapid and oft-confusing series of events, battles, and
surprises, Belphanior has finally come face-to-face with Omak.

Omak:  Let them have it.
Ixlin:  With pleasure.  (he releases his spell...and nothing
  happens)  Ack!
Omak:  What's going on?
Ixlin:  I don't know.
Belphanior:  (laughs out loud, then begins working his own spell
  as his marshals prepare for battle)
Jutokai:  (begins firing arrows at the foes now)
warriors:  (already in place, they lower their large shields and
  protect Omak, Ixlin, and the others from the deadly missiles)
Jutokai:  Damn!  (he seeks out chinks in this sudden armor)
Razor Charlie:  (holds back for now, as the distance to the foes
  is too great for his knives)
Otto:  (removing Aja's bonds and gags)
Aja:  (gasping for air)  Th- thanks...
Otto:  No problem.  (he eyes the passage behind the party, where
  the sounds of battle can still be heard)
Ys:  Shall I charge them all...knock them aside?
Belphanior:  No.  Let my magic do the dirty work-
Skektek:  (watching Ixlin, as best as he can anyhow)  A barrier why would he be doing that?  (he begins working his
  own spell, and quickly)

  Down the hall...

Ixlin:  (watches, pleased, as a nearly-invisible barrier comes into
  being all around his party)  Now.  (he snaps his fingers)

  Suddenly, there was an incredible blast right before Belphanior
and his group - a fireball!  In actuality, it was a delayed blast
fireball, and its force and fire were tremendous, far too much for
the narrow passage.  The flames shot past Ixlin and his wall of
force, and even inside their protective barrier, that group cringed
as the fires roared all around them.
  They also went in the other direction, blasting into the larger
chamber where Anak and Redjack were fighting the mummies.  Anak was
down, being torn limb from limb; Redjack had just slain one of the
things, and was fleeing into the hallway, pursued by two more of
the mummies.  It was with great surprise that he witnesses the
wall of searing flame as it bore down on him, incinerating every-
thing in the hallway and the room beyond.  For the pirate captain,
his wizard, and the remaining mummies, the end was painful but quick.

  On the far end of the hallway...

Omak:  Good work.
Ixlin:  (nods)  The idiots never expected me to be bluffing.  They
  were too busy gloating over my supposedly-failed spell to think
  about what might be going on.  (he watches the flames dance down
  the hall)  Their loss.
Canis:  It's not over yet.
Wampa:  (sniffing the air)  This smoke's messed with my nose.  (he
  wonders where the drow, who hurt him so badly in the last battle,
  are now)
Omak:  Too much smoke...when will it clear out so we can see some
  charred corpses?
Ixlin:  Soon...

  They got their answer sooner than they expected.  An invisible
foe darted right up to Ixlin's bubble of force, and as this one's
spell of disintegration took effect, he faded into sight.

Belphanior:  (smiling, he draws his sword)
Ixlin:  My wall-
Belphanior:  Forget it.  (he leaps back suddenly)

  They moved to attack, but the elf had yet another trick up his
sleeve.  From behind him, Otto hurled a small, metallic sphere
into the midst of the foes.  This item, one of many recovered from
a strange parallel world Belphanior had once visited, exploded
with great concussive force, throwing Omak and his men all over
the place.

Belphanior:  (wasting no time, he takes one step forward, stabbing
  the face-down Canis in the back of the neck, slaying him)  Ahhhh.
Canis:  (perishes)
Omak:  Canis!  (he draws his sword)  You'll pay for that!
Belphanior:  Ys.
Ys:  (charges forth, passing both Otto and Belphanior as they flatten
  themselves against one wall)

  The huge reptilian mowed through Omak and his warriors with ease,
knocking bodies left and right.  In his wake, bodies lay sprawled
everywhere; some, however, weren't as stunned as others.

Wampa:  (roaring as he changes into his tiger form, he bounds over
  Belphanior, heading for Otto and Jutokai, both of whom are holding
  missile weapons)
Otto:  (fires a bolt)
Jutokai:  (fires an arrow)

  With astonishing speed, the weretiger darted from side to side,
and Jutokai's arrow whizzed by, missing by mere inches.  Otto's bolt
lodged in the beast's shoulder, but it didn't slow the huge foe down
one bit, despite the poison Otto had coated it with.

Otto:  Oh, shit...
Wampa:  GRAAAR!  (he barrels into both foes, knocking them down, his
  claws and teeth flashing)
Otto:  (slashed across the chest)  Argh!
Jutokai:  (his shoulder torn open)  AARGH!
Wampa:  (roars with bloodlust)  RAAARGH!
Razor Charlie:  (leaps onto the tiger's back, using one arm to lock
  onto its neck while the other arm stabs with one of his magical
Wampa:  (roaring in pain and frustration, he rolls and slams and
  tries everything he can to dislodge the attacker)

  Meanwhile, Ixlin worked a new spell, causing a blazing sphere of
pure flame to materialize and roll down the hall toward Skektek and
Aja.  Skektek countered, however, dispelling the sphere of flame
before it could reach him.

Aja:  Good work - now it's my turn.
Skektek:  Be my guest...please.
Aja:  (summons into being a spiritual sickle, a black blade of
  force that swings into action, moving toward Ixlin)
Ixlin:  Uh-oh.  (he steps back...and bumps into Belphanior, who is
  facing off against Omak)
Belphanior:  Out of the way!  (he swats the gnome aside, then
  charges at Omak)

  The two warriors met, blades flashing and muscles heaving.  Both
were strong, both were fast, and both were skilled.  In the narrow
passage, with battles raging on either side, they yet focused only
on each other and the duel at hand.

  Nearby, Razor Charlie held on for dear life as Wampa smashed him
against the floor and walls - but he refused to let go.  His knife
plunged deep into furred flesh, again and again; the weretiger's
blood was everywhere.  Otto drew his sword and charged in, slashing,
but a swinging paw knocked him back, stunned.  Jutokai was ready to
lend a hand too, but he couldn't fire an arrow at Wampa for fear of
hitting Razor Charlie.

Jutokai:  (shrugs, and calmly fires an arrow beyond those combatants,
  hitting Ixlin in the arm)
Ixlin:  (his spell interrupted, he curses...and then howls in pain
  as Aja's force-sickle slices deep into his side)  AARGH!
Aja:  (pursues her attack, slicing and slashing at the foe again and
Skektek:  (fires a volley of magical missiles into Wampa's hide,
  causing the weretiger to pause in its struggles)  Hah!

  Further back still, Ys was demolishing Omak's best warriors.  The
men were all skilled veterans, but in the narrow passage, they were
only able to attack the reptilian one at a time, and his sheer power
overwhelmed each attacker in turn.  There was nothing they could do
to even challenge him, and one by one, they met his blade...and fell.

  At the opposite end of the hall...

Razor Charlie:  (senses his foe weakening, and stabs with renewed
Wampa:  (slowing down now, his efforts become more and more feeble
  due to the combined effects of poison, loss of blood, and several
  dozen stab wounds to the neck and shoulders)
Razor Charlie:  (not daring to relax his hold, for fear that the
  weretiger might gain a second wind and rip him apart)
Skektek:  (steps forward, tapping the beast on the head, his spell
  draining its life-force like a vampire's foul touch)  Instant
Razor Charlie:  Huh?
Wampa:  (falls, unconscious)

  Ixlin was down, beaten by the combined efforts of several foes.
His last thought, before Aja's dark sickle came down on his neck,
was that Omak hadn't been paying him enough for this kind of work.

  Between the two ends of the passage and their combatants, Omak
and Belphanior were still going at it.  Both of the warriors were
sliced or stabbed in a half-dozen places, and yet they kept at it.
This was less than an honorable duel between two masters, and more
than a simple, angry melee:  it was a no-holds-barred grudge fight
to the finish.
  Like all such contests, it was over in a sudden moment, a single
flash of steel.  Omak swung through, overextending himself as the
agile elf took a long cut beneath one arm, accepting that wound so
that he could spin about and swing his own weapon in a deadly arc.

Omak:  (stares in shock at his left arm, which has just been
  severed from the elbow down)
Belphanior:  That's right.  No magical ring of escaping for you.

  The elf didn't wait for a response; rather, he ran his dark blade
right through the foe's heart.

Omak:  (sinks to his knees, blood fountaining from his chest)  Ur-
Belphanior:  (twists the blade)  Die.  (he channels the life-force
  as Blackrazor takes it, feeding hungrily)  Yessssss...
Omak:  (his eyes roll up into his skull, and he falls)
Belphanior:  (stands, trembling)

  It took all of them a few moments to realize that they had won,
that all of the foes were dead or dying.

Otto:  (glances at Ys, who is covered in the blood of others)  Damn
  good job, there.
Ys:  (shakes his head, disgusted)  Mine was no fight, but a massacre.
  Those warriors died because of the stupidity of their leader.
Belphanior:  Well, he's dead now.
Jutokai:  (points at Wampa, who reverted to human form after losing
  consciousness)  What about that one?  He's still alive.
Otto:  (draws his knife)  I'll take care of him-
Belphanior:  Allow me.  I don't want to see any of these assholes
  ever again.  (he runs Wampa through with his sword, and is healed
  fully)  Ahhhhhh.
Aja:  (looks on in fascination)
Razor Charlie:  (surveying the carnage)  Well, that's that.
Belphanior:  Indeed it is.  We'll rest up for a bit, bind wounds,
  that sort of thing.  Then we're going home.  (he sheathes his
  sword)  Make sure to get their weapons...Omak's sword, and that
  tracker's too...and Redjack's cutlass, if it's not melted from
  the fireball.
Otto:  If it's not melted, it's surely magical.
Belphanior:  Skektek, Aja - check that gnome's body for items that
  might be magical.
Skektek:  (nods)
Aja:  (moves to help him)  Let's not forget that other wizard...
  if there's anything left after that fireball.
Ys:  (surveying the carnage)  What a bloodbath.
Razor Charlie:  (just grunts)
Jutokai:  I just had a thought...where's that young kid, that one
  sailor...Jordy, was that his name?
Otto:  We left him topside, remember?  I guess he's still up there
  on that island, somewhere.
Belphanior:  Unless Omak found him and killed him.

  Shortly, they emerged from the dungeon, and found the young
sailor hiding in the bushes.

Belphanior:  (using Blackrazor to locate the kid)  You can come
  on out now.  I know you're there.
Jordy:  (emerges)  Don't kill me!
Belphanior:  If I was going to, I wouldn't wait long enough to
  hear you whine about it.  Two bastards just ran out of here.
  Which way did they go?
Jordy:  (points)  Off that way.  B- back toward the beach.
Belphanior:  (stomping about)  Fuck!  This chasing down your
  enemies idea is getting to be a pain in the ass.
Jutokai:  Don't worry, I'll track them down in no time, over this
  sandy terrain.
Razor Charlie:  Leave 'em.
Belphanior:  (spins about)  What?
Razor Charlie:  Where're they gonna go?
Otto:  He's got a point.  With their ship smashed and their wizard
  dead...(he chuckles)
Belphanior:  (pondering)
Aja:  We should leave before nightfall anyway.
Skektek:  Why's that?
Aja:  That's when the rest of the undead will be out.
Ys:  How many is that?
Aja:  Too many.
Belphanior:  (smiles)  After tonight it'll be two more.  Come on,
  we're leaving.

next:      Rillen and Songa revisited
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     Well, that's that:  probably the last major story arc
  before episode #600.  I might do one more, focusing on some new
  marshals for Helgate, but I'm not sure.  Last night, while I
  was doing cardio on the treadmill, the Nitro Girl known as Fyre
  got onto the one next to me.  Check her out at:

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