Chapter #820

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2004 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!                                          +
+   Alindyar        18th level drow wizard                                +
+   Bosco           13th level halfling thief                             +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Date:           1/3/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the depths of the vacant fortress of Greyspire        +
+   Climate:        chilly                                                +
+   "There are no innocent people...only killers and victims."            +
+                                                  - from _Ballistic_     +

                      DCCCXX.  Death From Above

  The adventurers have just defeated a quintet of weird, ferocious spider-
things, only to watch in amazement as a much larger one descends from the
chamber's shadowy ceiling...

gigantic spider-thing:  (chattering and hissing as it faces the four
Bosco:  Oh, great.  It talks, too.
Mongo:  (waves his hammer at the behemoth)  You can talk, huh?  Well,
  that's too bad for you.  I want some answers, and if I don't get them-
gigantic spider-thing:  Hsssss!  (it lands, and scuttles toward the party)
Mongo:  I tried.  (he hurls Stormcrest at the thing)

  The enchanted weapon struck the monster in the face with a loud, wet
sound, and the damage was severe.  The hammer pulped one of its eyes and
snapped off the end of one mandible.  As the thing squealed in pain, the
others followed up with their own attacks...

Lyra:  (launches a volley of magical bolts at the foe)
gigantic spider-thing:  (ignores the bolts as they fizzle out before
  striking it)  Fffooools...
Alindyar:  Quiet.  (he repeats his tactic from before, using the Bigby-
  hand to push the beast toward the blazing wall of fire)

  This foe was much larger and stronger than the others, though, and it
was able to remain in place, though the hand kept it from advancing on
the adventurers.  Still, it tried, slashing at the force-hand with its
barbed legs and trying, repeatedly, to crawl around or over.  Alindyar
quickly gave up his efforts to force the monster into the fire, instead
focusing his attention on simply holding it in place.

  Of course, this freed Bosco up to do what he did best...

Bosco:  (having flown up and behind the spider-thing, he dives suddenly,
  winged boots flapping, sword held before him)
gigantic spider-thing:  (shrieks in pain as the magic blade sinks to the
  hilt in its head)  Gluuaaaaagh!  (it thrashes madly, dislodging Bosco
  after a few moments)
Bosco:  Whaaaaaa...(he sails through the air, then rights himself using
  his winged boots)
Mongo:  (having caught his hammer and then waited for Bosco to get out of
  the way, he hurls the weapon again, pulping a large portion of the foe's
gigantic spider-thing:  Uuurrgh...
Alindyar:  (takes the opportunity to push the thing a little closer to
  the wall of fire)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  There's more where that came from-
gigantic spider-thing:  (suddenly lurches forward and up, over Alindyar's
  force-hand, and right toward Mongo)  Sssss!
Mongo:  Hell!  (he swings his hammer, snapping one of the thing's legs,
  then finds himself beset by many more of the swinging, slashing barbed
  spike-legs)  Shit, the thing's gone nuts!
gigantic spider-thing:  (opens its fanged maw, roaring angrily)  Rruuurgh!
Bosco:  (flying overhead, he hurls a tiny marble into the gaping mouth)
  Chew on _that_, ugly!

  The tiny marble bore a unique enchantment, which caused it to multiply
by leaps and bounds after being hurled at any solid object.  Before the
spider-thing realized that it had eaten something bad, there were dozens
of bouncing marbles in its gullet and stomach.  By the time that it felt
actual pain from the unusual attack, there were thousands.

gigantic spider-thing:  RRRRLUUUGH!
Mongo:  Not talking so much now, are you?  (he hurls Stormcrest at the
  thing's side, smashing bone and spraying gore everywhere)

  The dwarf just kept on throwing and swinging, unleashing all of his
rage about Greyspire and its occupants.  The spider-thing wasn't even
defending itself anymore, much less fighting back, and the hammer rose
and fell, flew and returned, a half-dozen more times, until the dwarf
realized that it was over.

Mongo:  ...huh.  (he catches the warhammer as it returns, dripping dark
Bosco:  I think it's dead.
Alindyar:  Unfortunately, that means we cannot question it, see what it
Mongo:  Yeah, that's real sad.  My heart bleeds.
Bosco:  Actually, today, this thing's heart bleeds.  (he cautiously
  wanders over to the messy carcass to retrieve his sword)  Ugh...hey!
  It's still alive!  (he backs away)
gigantic spider-thing:  (gurgling and spitting up blood)  Th- this is
Lyra:  What's that?
gigantic spider-thing:  I have...been s- a handful of mere
Mongo:  Well, that's your tough luck.  (he raises his hammer)  And now
  you're going to tell us what else is down there, and what's going on!
gigantic spider-thing:  You shall...find out in due time...and then your
  souls will be forfeit...for the Sleeper has will perish
  s- soon enough...
Mongo:  Sleeper?  What's that?!?
gigantic spider-thing:  (makes an odd sound, which they realize is
  laughter)  I shall...never tell you...
Mongo:  Then you'll die!  (he smashes the monster's head into paste with
  a single, final blow)
gigantic spider-thing:  <SQUURCH!>
Mongo:  (spits on the carcass)  Fucker.
Bosco:  (eyeing his sword, he moves in slowly)

  Suddenly, the gigantic, bloodstained corpse began to bubble and melt,
before their eyes.  Flesh shriveled and cracked.  Blood leaked, pooled,
then congealed, all in the space of a few moments.  Even the hard outer
shell of the spider-thing cracked apart, each piece rotting into even
smaller pieces right before their eyes.  Momentarily, there was nothing
left of the corpse but a large puddle of stinking black slime.

Bosco:  Well, _there's_ something you don't see every day.
Alindyar:  Most passing strange.
Mongo:  The fucker's body melted!
Lyra:  It certainly did.  (she eyes the puddle of goo)  Well done, Mongo.
Mongo:  Thanks, but it was nothing.  Just a little exercise.  That thing
  pissed me off.  (he regards both dark elves)  It looks like the things
  we're fighting down here aren't too fazed by magic.  Are you sure you
  want to keep going?
Lyra:  (regards the dwarf sternly)  Whether we do or not, you're still
  going on, aren't you?
Mongo:  Hell yes, I am.  I don't care if there's an army of those things,
  I'll smash through every one of them!
Bosco:  (raises his sword)  Me too!  (he frowns)  Or at least, fly over
  them and stab as needed.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Mongo raises a good point.  Your magic may
  be of more use, but if everything we face down here is as resistant as
  these spider-things, I'm not very useful.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Fear not.  We shall think of something.
Mongo:  What we need here is some more manpower...(he begins thinking
  about the unique, mithril horn that was left for him in Ged's will)
Alindyar:  (begins thinking about the puddled remains of their opponent,
  and whether any magic he has can help identify the thing's true nature)
Bosco:  (begins thinking about treasure, then gets busy scouting the rest
  of the huge room, aided by Lyra's floating light-spheres)

  The domed chamber was empty of further monsters, and contained a pair
of exits, each spaced equidistantly around the room's perimeter from the
passage they'd entered through.  Each of these exits was a large passage
resembling the previous one, as well.

Alindyar:  Which shall it be, I wonder?
Bosco:  Either one's as good as the other...except that there's a dried
  blood-trail in the right-hand one.
Mongo:  (nods)

next:      lo, there shall be reinforcements!
released:  5/14/04
notes:     Let's see...that was 12 episodes for Belphanior, a mere 3 for
  the Halbarad/Peyote/Rillen gang, and now 5 for this crew.  I think that
  6 will do it for the start of this arc, so i'll end it at a definite
  stopping point or cliffhanger at the end of 821, the next episode, and
  go back to the Belphanior crew for a while.  I have to tell you, while
  I enjoy writing about the others (to varying degrees) Belphanior is the
  main interest for me.  I've been thinking about the gateway idea and
  all the many possibilities it allows...thinking about them for almost
  a year now.  There are ideas there...ancient magic, strange and evil
  foes, lost artifacts, secret plans, conspiracy theories, tie-ins to the
  Greyhawk Wars, and so on.  I need to get it all out of my head, the
  sooner the better.  Be ready.

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