Chapter #623

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                                     +
                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +
                                     +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Belphanior      14th/14th/14th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+     Angus          an iron golem                                        +
+     Aja            9th level human priestess of Wee Jas                 +
+     Jutokai        8th level human archer                               +
+     Skektek       12th level human wizard                               +
+     the wispy thing                                                     +
+     Ys            13th level reptilian fighter                          +
+   Bosco           12th level halfling thief                             +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+     Gorgo         dwarven berserker                                     +
+   Otto             8th/11th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:           1/10/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           dawn                                                  +
+   Place:          the sky over Blackmoor                                +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "When you have to shoot, shoot.  Don't talk."                         +
+                        - Tuco, from _The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                       DCXXIII.  Wake-Up Call





  The first rays of the rising sun bathed the land, beginning the long
process of melting the frozen ground and warming the climate up to a
somewhat tolerable level.  Far above, however, the attackers prepared to
heat things up a little faster...

Belphanior:  First Angus...then we'll teleport down.  Is everyone ready?



  The spacious mansion of Baron Albert dominated the sunken landscape,
just as it had for many years.  The worn and muchly-cracked stone wall
around the perimeter of Albert's land was more for show than practical
defense.  Today, however, it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
  There was a whistling sound as an airborne object came plummeting
down from far above...an iron airborne object...a rather heavy iron
airborne object.  It hit the top and center of Albert's mansion like
a catapult stone through a house of straw.  The impact shook the land
for a league around and blew out every window in the big house.  The
force of the explosion launched bits of wood, glass, and stone in all
directions.
  The initial destruction was impressive, but there was more to come.
As Angus regained his footing, he began to carry out his orders of
demolition.  Plowing his way through the ground floor of the mansion,
he burst out, a wide swath of ruined wood- and stone-work behind him.
He then grabbed an outer wall of the house, he pulled, exerting his
monstrous strength...and the wall fell outward, smashing apart as it
thundered against the ground!
  As the golem went to work on the next-nearest wall of the mansion,
Belphanior and the others appeared outside the short stone wall, about
a hundred feet from the chaos.

Belphanior:  Ah, here we are.  (he regards the mansion)  Excellent.
Mongo:  (instantly feeling better now that he stands on solid ground
  once more)
Gorgo:  (fully armored now, spikes jutting from his armor and helm)
  Best if no one gets near me once I join the fight.
Mongo:  (nods)  He gets pretty worked-up in battle.
Ys:  (his huge sword still sheathed across his back)  I trust that the
  golem won't get all the fun?
Otto:  We'll let him smash the place, then we can move in and clean up
  whatever ants swarm out.
Aja:  (clutching her holy symbol)  I am ready.
Jutokai:  (grasping his longbow)  As am I.
Skektek:  (somewhat bored, he plays along)  Ready.
Bosco:  (far from bored as he watches Angus deliver the goods)  Let's
  get over there where I can get a better view!

  It didn't take Angus long to completely level the old mansion.  This
was as much due to the golem's strength and weight as it was to the
fact that he didn't rest or think during his task.  He simply wreaked
havoc.

Angus:  (stands amidst the rubble of the four-story mansion, his huge
  iron arms crossed, and nods to himself)

  The others approached, cautiously at first, in case some foe slithered
from the wreckage.

Bosco:  (surveying the carnage, he shakes a fist in the air triumphantly)
  Hot damn!
Belphanior:  (scanning the scene)  Good work, Angus.  (to the others)
  Didn't see any reason for us to do a room-by-room when it was possible
  to simply obliterate the whole maze.
Skektek:  (nods)  It makes good sense to me.
Gorgo:  (talking to no one in particular)  Where's the fight?  I came
  here for a fight.
Mongo:  (recalling the violence that seems to surround Belphanior)  Soon
  enough.
Bosco:  Yeah, soon enough.
Ys:  (looking around)  I see no bodies.
Otto:  (poking at a fallen wall with his sword)  Here's one.
Mongo:  And here's another.
Belphanior:  Obviously not undead...
Aja:  Mortal servants, perhaps.  (she casts a quick spell)  Ah.
Jutokai:  What?
Aja:  Ah.
Belphanior:  (irritated)  What is it?
Aja:  These were normal servants, but there were some undead here...all
  have been slain, and quickly, by the sun's light.
Otto:  Surely not _all_ of them...
Belphanior:  (using his sword to scan for souls in the vicinity)  Damn,
  this isn't easy with all of us around.  (he walks about, concentrating)
Mongo:  Maybe a basement...?
Ys:  That seems the most likely possibility to me.
wispy thing:  Pfsss?  (it sails down into the rubble, vanishing)
Belphanior:  Hmm...whoa!
Otto:  Eh?
Belphanior:  I've found something...right around...there.

  Suddenly, debris erupted upward as a hulking form exploded from the
wreckage!

huge pale butler:  Aaarrrrrrr.
Mongo:  Hey, it's that guy!
Ys:  (steps forth)  Allow me-
Gorgo:  Hah!  A foe!  (he charges, and being closest to the butler, he
  reaches the foe before anyone else can even think about attacking)

  The huge butler reeled as Gorgo charged, leaping up and head-butting
him in the stomach.

huge pale butler:  (stabbed by the sharp spike atop the dwarf's helm)
  Urrrr.
Gorgo:  (flailing about, the shorter spikes on his armor's arms and
  legs slicing and slashing at the larger foe)
huge pale butler:  (grabs the dwarf, ripping the helm's spike out of
  his own stomach)
Gorgo:  Hey!
huge pale butler:  (hurls the dwarf at Mongo, who was about to throw
  his hammer)
Mongo:  (goes down in a heap)  Argh!
huge pale butler:  (bleeding profusely from the midsection, he turns
  to the others)  Invaders...you shall perish!
Ys:  Perhaps, but not this day.  (his sword hits the foe, cutting him
  in half...until he vanishes in a puff of mist)
mist:  (quickly flows down into the wreckage)
Ys:  What madness is this?
Aja:  Well, I'll be damned.  He's a vampire.
Gorgo:  Was a vampire.
Aja:  _Is_ a vampire.  That mist trick is their method of getting
  away.
Mongo:  Why didn't he flare up in the sunlight?
Otto:  Maybe he's a special vampire.
Aja:  (ponders this)  I have heard of such creatures...
Belphanior:  Souls...beneath us.  Beneath the rubble!
wispy thing:  (reappears)  Frrrp.
Otto:  That settles it, then.  We have to dig.

  Only a bit of excavation was necessary before a wide stairway was
unearthed.  A large section of wood had fallen across the passage,
preventing it from being filled with rubble.

Jutokai:  Looks like some kind of basement.
Otto:  Not surprising in a house of this size and age.
Skektek:  So down we go.
Belphanior:  (looks up at the bright sun above)  Could be worse, but
  everyone stay sharp.

  The marching order was formed, in rough accordance with Belphanior's
original attack plan:

  wispy thing
  Angus, Ys
  Mongo, Gorgo
  Aja, Jutokai
  Belphanior, Skektek
  Otto, Bosco

Bosco:  Last...why do I always have to be last?
Belphanior:  Remember, Bosco, there are vampires and other nasty dark
  things down here.  Only the most trusted and skilled can be counted
  on to hold up the back ranks.
Bosco:  (brightens)  Oh, yeah.  Okay!

  The party began its descent into the ruined mansion's lower reaches.





next:      rumble in the basement
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
           tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu
released:  3/20/00
notes:     Out of necessity, I've had to make a canon-for-my-stories
  decision on undead and their souls (or lack thereof.)  Here it is:
  some undead - most undead, at least up through wraiths and wights -
  no longer have souls.  Only the more powerful undead, such as liches,
  death knights, and vampires, still have souls in their deathly bodies.
  I'm sort of on the fence on ghosts and spectres and mummies.
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