Chapter #712

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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       +
+     Jutokai        8th level human archer                               +
+     Otto           8th/11th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+     Razor Charlie  9th level human fighter                              +
+     Skektek       12th level human wizard                               +
+     Ys            13th level reptilian fighter                          +
+     Zhao           8th level human swordsman                            +
+   Bosco           12th level halfling thief                             +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+     Gorgo          9th level dwarven berserker                          +
+                                                                         +
+   Boltar          high priest of Pholtus                                +
+   Drak            barbarian warrior                                     +
+   Parekh          dark-skinned female wizard                            +
+                                                                         +
+   Neera           female human sage/astrologer                          +
+   Date:           3/28/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           early evening                                         +
+   Place:          an isle amidst the Solnor Ocean                       +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "We're not afraid to die."                                            +
+   "Good, because I'm not afraid to kill you."                           +
+                                                - from _End of Days_     +

                        DCCXII.  The Scaled Ones

  After roaming through some sparse ruins, the adventurers have crested
a small rise in the forest floor, only to find something they could never
have expected...

Bosco:  Wow!
Belphanior:  Amazing.

  The area ahead was more like a swamp than the floor of a forest, for
a small river wound down from the mountain ahead and fed several pools
on the side.  It appeared to branch off in a direction that was both
downhill and away from that which the party had come from.  Sprawling
throughout this marsh-within-the-forest was a primitive settlement!
Crude huts of mud and branches stood between the great trunks, or in
some cases, built up right against them.  The inhabitants of the place
moved in and out, between and around these structures.

  And they were not human, not in the least.

Belphanior:  (his eyes gleaming)  Talk about a lost race...

  These were snake-men in the truest sense of the word.  Their bottom
halves were those of great serpents:  thick, powerful tails that moved
them along, efficiently, effortlessly.  Their torsos, however, were
broad and flattened, banded with muscles like the hood of a cobra.
Powerful, scaled arms ended in four clawed digits.  The creatures'
heads were also reptilian, in shape and appearance, with fangs, slitted
vertical eyes, and forked tongues.  Their skin, from head to tail, was
green and scaled all over, though the exact shade of green varied by

Skektek:  What the hell...?
Bosco:  Lizard men?
Jutokai:  I don't think so.
Parekh:  I have heard stories of creatures like these...they are called
  yuan-ti.  Snake-men.
Ys:  (shakes his head)  No.
Parekh:  Eh?
Ys:  Yuan-ti are nowhere near as stoutly built as these things.  Also,
  yuan-ti are intelligent, crafty - they would never live in huts like
  those below.  No, these are not yuan-ti, but something else entirely.
Belphanior:  Well, I trust your...expertise in this.  But the question
  is, what do we do now?  Can these serpent-men help us find the tomb?
Bosco:  Are they even friendly?
Otto:  Somehow, I doubt it.
Bosco:  Me too.
Razor Charlie:  Night's falling...good time for an attack.
Belphanior:  I'm not sure they know we're here, much less ready to attack
Razor Charlie:  I meant us attacking them.
Belphanior:  Oh.  Of course.
Skektek:  Well, I could, in theory, take out the whole village with a
  single blast.
Parekh:  Any decent wizard could do that.
Skektek:  Hmph.
Belphanior:  No...let's back off and wait until tomorrow.  No need to
  fight a battle at the end of a day of marching and exploring.
Skektek:  You forgot crashing.
Belphanior:  Yeah, well-  (he stops and looks around)
Otto:  (puts his hand on his sheathed sword)  Trouble?
Belphanior:  Yep.  We've got company.  Lots of company.
Boltar:  How do you know that?
Belphanior:  I just know.  Trust me on this.

  Those more familiar with Belphanior and his dark blade weren't wasting
time asking questions.

Jutokai:  (strings his bow, an arrow in his teeth)
Razor Charlie:  (pulls two throwing knives from the bandolier across his
Otto:  (loads his crossbow, then checks his sword)
Zhao:  (draws both of his thin swords)  At last.
Ys:  (unsheathes his gigantic blade)
Boltar:  Whoa.
Ys:  (smirks)
Skektek:  (readies a wand)
Belphanior:  No fireballs - you'll burn the whole island to the ground.
Skektek:  Ah, right.
Mongo:  (looking around, his hammer ready)  Where?
Gorgo:  (hefts his spiked mace)  Don't see anything.
Bosco:  (sword in hand, he prepares to take to the air)
Drak:  There!  And there!

  The foes were using the huge trees as cover, and were obviously skilled
at doing so.  However, hiding wasn't really their purpose...

Mongo:  (out in the forefront of the party, he staggers as a huge bronze
  spear glances off his chestplate)  Hey!
Bosco:  (looks over as another spear buries itself in the tree beside him)
Drak:  (grazed by a third missile)  Dammit!

  It was only a matter of time before one of the spears hit somebody, but
fortunately, Mongo wasn't about to let that happen.

Mongo:  (hurls Stormcrest in the direction from which the spears came)

  The darkness made it hard to tell for sure, but the dwarf's attack must
have hit some foes, judging from the screams of pain and the sounds of
impact.  Just then, Parekh completed a spell, bringing up an invisible
field from which further spears simply glanced away.

Parekh:  That should buy us some time.
Jutokai:  At least until they figure it out and come charging at us.  (he
  readies his bow, glancing into the shadows of the forest)
Otto:  (raises his crossbow)  Won't be a problem - look.
Mongo:  Holy shit...

  From all directions, they slithered to the attack...serpent-men, dozens
of them, armed with crude spears and swords!

Mongo:  Bring it on!  (he hurls Stormcrest, taking down a serpent-man in
  the forefront of the attack)
serpent-man:  Ssssss!  (dies in a spray of green blood)
Gorgo:  If they can bleed, they can die!  (heedless of the foes' greater
  numbers, he charges right at the nearest of them)  Yaaaaaaa!
serpent-man:  (tries to stab the oncoming attacker, but its spear glances
  from the dwarf's spiked armor)  Ssss!
Gorgo:  (swings his mace, knocking the spear from the other's grip, and
  then head-butts the serpent-man, his helm's spikes goring into the
  foe's stomach)  Raaaaah!
serpent-man:  Hssssss!  (it falls, writhing in agony)
Gorgo:  (keeps head-butting the thing)  Die!  Die!

  The adventurers couldn't all stay within Parekh's protective field, not
if they wanted to spread out and attack effectively.  It seemed, however,
that the serpent-men were committed to a straightforward melee charge now.

Otto:  Damn, they're everywhere...(he fires his crossbow, hitting a
  serpent-man in the elbow and knocking the sword from its hands)
Jutokai:  (having already fired and hit two attackers, he nocks another
  arrow, then fires it, in a blur)  I can do this all day long.
Razor Charlie:  Won't be enough.  (he throws one knife, then another,
  hitting a serpent-man in the throat)
Parekh:  (launches a volley of fiery bolts, hitting two different foes
  in their faces and driving them back, screaming)
Skektek:  (completes a spell and flies up, thirty feet into the air)
Bosco:  Hey, wait for me.  (he also rises, winged boots flapping away)
Razor Charlie:  (throws another knife, burying it in a foe's shoulder)
  Harder to stop without knees to take out...

  With that, though, the missile combat was over, for the barely-diluted
ranks of the attacking serpent-men now closed with the adventurers...

Zhao:  (readies his twin swords)

next:      all-out melee
released:  2/8/01
notes:     This is only the beginning.  And there is a new rant, this
  one completely Adventurers-related, at

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