Chapter #684

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                                   +   +
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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   +
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+   Date:           2/16/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           nighttime                                             +
+   Place:          the Suel museum, in the Free City of Greyhawk         +
+   Climate:        temperate                                             +
+   "Evil walks, beside you..."                                           +
+                                                       - AC/DC lyric     +

                     DCLXXXIV.  Grim Awakening

  Nenya bade the night watchman farewell as she prepared to close the
doors to the section of the building that housed the Suel museum...

guard:  Are you sure you don't want any help?  I always thought this
  Suel stuff was kind of neat, and I sure wouldn't mind lending a hand.
Nenya:  I appreciate your interest, but yes, I'm sure.  Take the night
  off.  I'll be fine.
guard:  ...okay, if you insist.

  Nenya watched the man leave, then shut and locked the metal portals
that afforded entry into the wing that housed her museum.  A quick spell
made sure that she'd be alerted if anyone opened the doors.  It had been
a late morning, and she had enough energy to stay awake all night.  There
was a lot to do, and she'd been putting it off for too long.  Stacks of
old tomes remained in a locked chest, ready to be organized and filed.
Several of the exhibits needed re-evaluating as to their layout and
location.  A few dozen items still needed background information, so that
viewers would have at least a vague idea of what they were and why they
were important.  At times like this, Nenya became driven to get the
task(s) done - perhaps a lesson that Ged had taught her.  She wouldn't
have minded Deryck's help, but now that she knew he wasn't available,
she was determined to do all the work herself.  A night watchman would
only get in the way.
  Sighing to herself, and wondering if she had too many irons in the
fire, the elf headed into the heart of the museum.  There were several
rooms that were off-limits to the general public; one of these was her
study, a place set aside for work exactly like what she was about to
do.  Shortly, the chest was open, its contents scattered about the
table as Nenya took notes and made stacks.  The problem with old tomes,
she mused to herself, was that people couldn't really be allowed to
touch and handle them.  Many of the books were older than she was, in
fact older than almost any elf around.  Such things tended to crumble
into dust if care was not taken - and sometimes if care _was_ taken.
  As she pulled some of the books from a shelf, she dislodged a small
glass vial that had been resting next to the tomes.  Before she even
noticed it, it had fallen and shattered on the floor.

Nenya:  Damn it...(she goes to the corner of the room to get a small
  whisk broom and something to collect the broken glass in)

  The vial has apparently been empty, and Nenya noticed nothing out
of the ordinary, though she did feel a brief chill that quickly passed.
A short time later, she was deep into one of the old books, reading a
passage on the seafaring exploits of Suel Grand Admiral Garth's Fifth
Fleet in the year 4,387 (by Suel reckoning) when a whispered voice
reached her ears.

Nenya:  Eh?
hushed voice:  help me...
Nenya:  What the hell?  (she stands, wondering if she imagined it)
hushed voice:  please help me...
Nenya:  I'll be damned!  (she looks around, trying to pinpoint the exact
  direction that the voice is coming from)

  Her task was made much easier by the fact that the cry for help was
repeated, continually.  She left the study, turned down a large hall
and then a small one, and eventually approached a small dais upon which
rested a glass case.  Within this case was propped a weird metallic
amulet, depicting a menacing fanged face with twin ruby eyes.  Nenya
recognized this thing as one of the items whose exact origin they'd not
been able to figure out.  The amulet's placard simply read "unknown Suel

Nenya:  Is someone there?
amulet:  (its tiny ruby eyes light up)

  There was no other warning; with a small but intense explosion, the
glass casing - as well as the spell that shielded it - were shattered.
Shards of sharp glass flew everywhere.  Nenya, however, was a smart girl
and had taken the precaution of casting a protective spell upon herself
before leaving the study.  The pieces of glass bounced harmlessly away
from her body, deflected by an unseen shield.

amulet:  (its red eyes bore into Nenya)
Nenya:  (working another spell)  I don't know what-
voice from amulet:  Cease your efforts, little elf.
Nenya:  The hell I will!  (she fires a barrage of magic missiles at the

  The missiles flew unerringly, blasting the amulet repeatedly.  Sparks
flew as magical energy impacted the ancient item.  However, the thing
still rose into the air, its eyes glowing brightly.  Across the room,
a small chest also took to the air, breaking through its display case
as it opened.  The coins within - as valuable for their age and rarity
as for their worth as precious metals - began whizzing toward Nenya,
each one a tiny but heavy missile.  Within moments, her Stoneskin spell
had been eroded away, and more of the animated coins pelted her, each
one striking with enough force to cause a bruise.

Nenya:  Argh!  Ungh!  Ow!

  Since she wasn't sure if she had time to cast a spell, she instead
utilized her wand of conjuration, doing the first thing that came to

giant bat:  (summoned, it appears)
Nenya:  (pointing at the amulet)  Kill!
giant bat:  (flies toward the hovering amulet)  Screeee!

  A barrage of red bolts of energy came from the amulet, blasting the
bat into a charred heap before it even got close.

giant bat:  (a corpse now, it falls to the floor)
voice from amulet:  Your magic cannot stop me.  You cannot stop me.
Nenya:  (backing up as the floating amulet approaches her)  We'll see.

  She was counting on her spell of protection from evil to keep the
thing (whatever it was) at bay.  Nenya had never experienced any sort
of possession before, but she reeled as her foe tried to take over her
body, such was the strength of that evil force.  Her spell prevented
the attempt from being successful, though.

voice from amulet:  Damn you!
Nenya:  (shaky)  Didn't think you could be stopped...
voice from amulet:  Bah.

  The stone floor beneath Nenya shifted and flowed then, rising up to
snare her legs.

Nenya:  Aie!  (she leaps aside, her training and experience as a warrior
  helping her to avoid the animated stone)

  Where she had been standing, the stone clenched into a fist, and then
was still.

Nenya:  (trying another tactic, she leaps forward, her sword suddenly
  in hand)

  The elf wasn't the only one with protections, however.  Crimson energy
crackled as her sword was stopped just short of the amulet.

voice from amulet:  A worthy attempt.

  Suddenly, a large iron gong in a display case to one side of the room
broke free, smashing through the glass as it whizzed toward Nenya.

Nenya:  Damn!  (she whirls and ducks)

  Nenya's reflexes and skill saved her again, and the heavy gong merely
clipped her head before smashing into the far wall.

Nenya:  (stunned, she shakes her head)

  The amulet's eyes glowed brighter than ever, and another heavy object -
an ancient ceramic urn - was lifted from its pedestal and hurled through
the air.  This time, Nenya wasn't able to avoid it, and the thing smashed
into her head, knocking her to the floor.

Nenya:  Ungh...
voice from amulet:  And thus I triumph.

  Meanwhile, Deryck approached the museum, doubts swirling around in
his mind.  After re-thinking the earlier conversation in his head, he'd
gotten the idea that perhaps Nenya really _wanted_ him to keep her
company in the museum tonight.  The fact that she was an elf didn't mean
that she didn't have wild moments now and then.  With that in mind, the
ranger had delegated his tasks to others and made his way here.
  He was surprised to find the doors locked and no guard present.  Locks
meant little to him, though; he knew some minor magicks, enough to get
the doors opened.  At that very moment, he heard a crash from some distant
part of the museum.

Deryck:  What the...Nenya!

  Drawing his sword, he sprinted into the dark reaches of the Suel museum
in search of his wife.  It wasn't difficult, for a red glow came from up
ahead and gave him a pretty good idea about where he needed to be.  The
half-elf burst into the room just in time to see a large urn sail
across the room and shatter over Nenya's head.

Deryck:  NENYA!  (he leaps forth, his longsword flaming to life)

  The amulet-being was taken by surprise, for it had been occupied with
Nenya, and the ranger moved quickly and efficiently.

Deryck:  (brings his sword down, scoring a direct hit on the amulet)
amulet:  AAAARGH!

  The enchanted blade, driven by the strength and skill of the ranger,
actually chipped the amulet, knocking it to the floor.

amulet:  Away!  (it launches a barrage of blue bolts at the foe)
Deryck:  (knocked away)  Ungh!  Argh!  Urgh!  Unf!

  However, Nenya was back in the fight.  The arrival and attack of
Deryck had bought her the crucial moments she needed to gain some sort
of advantage.  Rather than heal herself, she'd taken the offensive and
worked another spell...

Nenya:  Enough.

  A translucent barrier , perhaps ten feet across, sprung up - not around
Nenya herself but instead around the amulet!

Deryck:  (staggers to his feet)  Ugh...wh- what did you do?
Nenya:  Wall of force.  Except, rather than use it for defense, I used
  it to hopefully trap that damned thing.

  Inside its magical prison, the amulet cursed and shouted as it launched
all sorts of spells in an effort to escape.  Bolts of energy, sheets of
flame, and much more bounced around inside the dome of force, having no
effect other than hurting the amulet itself.

amulet:!  I SHALL be free!  (it begins glowing
  very, very brightly)
Deryck:  (covering his eyes)  What's it doing?
Nenya:  I'm not sure, but we should probably get out of here.

  They moved out of the room and into the hallway.  The space inside
the dome of force was solid crimson now, such that there appeared to
be a gigantic red sphere sunken into the floor of the room.  Suddenly,
a muffled explosion, strong enough to shake the floor and knock both
adventurers from their feet.
  There was no smoke to clear, so when they looked back into the room,
all they saw was the shimmering wall of force, half above and half
below the floor level.  Within it was nothing; the amulet was gone,
as was all the stone that had been within the barrier.

Nenya:  I think it destroyed itself.
Deryck:  Couldn't it have teleported out?
Nenya:  I doubt it.  I'd guess that it used all its power in a final,
  last-ditch effort to escape, and failed.
Deryck:  (shaking his head)  What _was_ that thing?
Nenya:  A demon of some sort, I think.  It was kept at bay by one of
  my spells that wards off such things.  (she shakes her head)  Maybe
  I'll contact some people in the Guild of Wizardry about this.
Deryck:  Couldn't hurt.
Nenya:  Good thing you showed up when you did.  I would have called
  out to you, but I didn't want the amulet-thing to know you were
Deryck:  How did you know I was on the way?
Nenya:  I had a spell on the museum's entrance, so when you came in,
  I was made aware immediately.
Deryck:  Ah.  (he surveys the wrecked room)  I really hate things like

  Half a world away, in a large and dark chamber, several beings were
gathered about...

Xusia:  Damn those fools...
other being:  Your minion is destroyed?
Xusia:  (nods)  Better than having it captured intact and perhaps
  leading them to me.  No matter.  They may have won a battle, but
  the war is just beginning...

next:      visitors come to Greyhawk
released:  10/19/00
notes:     There is a new rant up on the page, concerning cel-phones.
  And here's a semi-rant:  since releasing 683 three days ago, I have
  gotten no less than five emails pointing out that the Ironfall spell
  is not scientifically correct.  While I appreciate the science lesson,
  I would also remind you that this is fantasy, not science fiction.  I
  have heard of campaign worlds that are flat, such that you can sail
  right off the edge.  And so on.  To a lesser extent, it's AD&D-rules-
  stickling in general that makes me tired of writing.
    All the more reason, I think, to soon terminate this ultra-high-
  power/magic saga and start fresh with something that's a lot easier
  to control and a lot harder to complain about.

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