Chapter #713

previous chapter (#712)                                                                  next chapter (#714)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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                                                  +
+   "These things are smart!  They're getting smarter by the minute!"     +
+   "That's okay, we've got some new things to teach them!"               +
+                                                       - from _Tremors_  +

                   DCCXIII.  Wrath of the Serpent-Men

  In the depths of the lost isle, the adventurers are engaged in battle
with a force of primeval serpent-men...

Mongo:  (lashes out with Stormcrest, smashing an oncoming attacker's head
  into pulp)  Back, dammit!
Ys:  I'm not sure I've ever seen you swing that hammer rather than throw
  it.  (he swings his huge sword, cutting a serpent-man in half)
Mongo:  It's a damn fine thrower, but it also works for close fighting.
  (he smacks another foe down, its spear scraping across his armor)

  The strongest warriors had formed a sort of circle, to protect the
spellcasters and Neera.  So far, they were doing just fine...

Drak:  (with a swipe of his gigantic mallet, he knocks two serpent-men
  aside)  Hah!
Gorgo:  (using his spiked mace, he blocks the descent of a bronze sword,
  then head-butts the scaled foe in its body, goring with his helm's tip)
serpent-man:  Ssssss!   (it recoils)
Otto:  (trading blows with another foe)

  Belphanior, too, had given up distance attacks, trusting to the other
wizards for that.  He now plied his dark sword to lethal effect, glorying
in the battle and killing...

Belphanior:  (leaps to one side as a sword whizzes past, then spins and
  decapitates the serpent-man)  Ahhhhh.

  Blackrazor hadn't fed for quite some time, but the sword was getting
its fill this day.  Indeed, that very hunger, unnatural and grim, might
well have compelled Belphanior to engage in melee combat rather than
take the smarter course of action by using spells from a distance.
  Nearby, Jutokai and Razor Charlie peppered select foes with deadly
arrows and knives.  The real surprise, however, was Zhao.  It had been
a while since he'd been able to contribute to a battle, and he was a
whirlwind of bladed death...

Zhao:  (leaps straight up, above a swinging spear, and slashes with his
  twin swords)
serpent-man:  (sliced about the head and neck, it reels back)
Zhao:  (lands on the foe's shoulders, then leaps again, twisting and
  spinning through the air)

  Some of the adventurers, even those who knew him, hadn't ever seen
the swordsman from the far west in action.  An acrobatic warrior, he
never seemed to rest or stay still.  His perpetual motion was a mix
of leaps, spins, and somersaults that often utilized his stunned and
slower foes as launching-pads or destinations.  Zhao's thin, curved
swords were blurs, and though they didn't have the sheer weight or
cutting power of larger weapons, they were quite effective.

Zhao:  (lands on the ground in a clear area, leaving a path of five
  wounded serpent-man between him and the main party)  Sah!

  Of course, this put the warrior out in the middle of the mob of foes
with no one to watch his back.

serpent-men:  Ssss!  (they charge in from all sides)
Zhao:  Yah!  (he runs forth, leaping into the air, landing on the head
  of one oncoming attacker, then launches himself again, leaving that
  serpent-man with a sliced head as it crashes into its fellows, who
  all converge on the spot where Zhao stood but a moment ago)
serpent-men:  (several of them go down in a confused, noisy heap)
Zhao:  (lands near the main party, swords ready before he hits the
Jutokai:  Wow.  I didn't know he could do that.
Razor Charlie:  (grunts)  Like a damn monkey...

  The spellcasters weren't left out, either.  Boltar had conjured up
a brightly-glowing spiritual mace, which he used to smash any of the
serpent-men who looked like they might be getting to close to the
spellcasters' ranks.  Parekh and Skektek were cutting loose with an
assortment of offensive spells, from magic missiles and fiery arrows
to a barrage of rocks and a great stony fist that rose from the very
ground to pummel foes.  As for Bosco, he flew interference, zipping
to and fro above the combat, attacking targets of opportunity.  His
sword wasn't the mightiest of weapons, but his attacks kept the foes
off-balance and wary, which helped them to die at the hands of those
such as Ys, Drak, and Mongo.

  The serpent-men were hardy warriors, but their crude weapons of
bronze and their lack of rudimentary tactics - not to mention any
spellcasters - seemed to be their undoing.  Almost the entire force
that had ambushed the adventurers now lay about, a bloody, writhing
mess of scaled flesh and green blood.

Belphanior:  (covered from head to toe in gore, he exults, his sword
  pulsing in his hands)  Victory!

  It was then that the second wave attacked.  It was possible that the
first wave had been but an exploratory one.  It was also possible that
the newcomers had simply been slow to arrive at the scene of the battle.
In any case, the initial victory was brief, as a smaller knot of foes
came from the trees.  At the forefront of this group were larger
serpent-men, their heads a good eight feet above the ground; these had
crude armor as well as halberds of bronze.  Among the ranks of these
new attackers were a number of huge snakes, averaging a foot thick and
twenty feet long.

Mongo:  Whoa...
Drak:  Second wave - get ready!

  Just then, every single twig, stick, and branch on the forest floor
around the adventurers suddenly changed into a snake.  Those born from
small twigs were but a foot or so in length, while those that had been
larger branches were five or six feet long.

Ys:  Sorcery!

  From the rear ranks of these attackers, there now issued a tremendous
bellow, which was followed by its source:  a hulking monstrosity that
slithered like a snake, had the torso of a humanoid, and two great
fanged heads.  It was over ten feet in height and thirty in length,
and each of its powerful arms was a weapon in its own right, tipped
with sharp, powerful talons.  This thing came charging behind the other
new foes, and even they seemed to shudder at its approach, moving faster
to get out of its way by engaging the adventurers.

Belphanior:  (wipes green blood from his brow)  Let's do it.

next:      gory conclusion
released:  2/12/01
notes:     The civilization that came about in this place, over all those
  thousands of years, could have developed in one of two ways:  highly
  advanced or hopelessly primitive.  I thought that primitive would be
  fun for a change.

previous chapter (#712)                                                                  next chapter (#714)