Chapter #826

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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!                                          +
+   Belphanior     15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Otto           10th/12th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  10th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   Date:          5/22/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          unknown, presumably evening                            +
+   Place:         unknown                                                +
+   Climate:       cold                                                   +
+   "Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."        +
+                                                   - Wernher Von Braun   +

                      DCCCXXVI.  New Environs

  After a brief stay in the Sea of Dust, courtesy of the mummy king
Al-arakara, the adventurers fled through the gateway...

Belphanior:  (appears from the mists, joining the others who are waiting
  expectantly)  Whew!  (he turns, watching as the mists swirl and then
  fade out)  Just in time...we cut that too close for my liking.  (he
  flexes his arms, wincing from the pain suffered while he was attacking
  Al-arakara just minutes before)
Skektek:  He should be finding my little surprise any time now.  But...
Belphanior:  (turns back around)  But what...hmm.
Otto:  (gestures all around the group)  This isn't the gateway we first
  came from.

  And it wasn't.  The first functioning gateway, in Drusilla's hidden
base within the Pelisso Swamp, had been constructed of light green rock,
as well as having a particular layout which the adventurers had already
seen more than once.  This was a new place.  The arch that made up this
gateway's frame was fashioned of white stone, and was contained within a
small domed chamber twenty feet across.  A single small door appeared to
be the only exit.  Also, it was quite cold here.

Skektek:  (shivering)  Brr.
Ys:  (philosophically)  We are not where we were...nor where we thought
  we would be.
Belphanior:  How did this happen?
Skektek:  When we used the metal dial on the last gateway, we didn't know
  which rune corresponded to the first gateway, in the Pelisso Swamp.
Otto:  This is something we're going to have to start thinking
  each gateway we've seen, there's nothing to show what rune on any other
  gateway's dial matches the one we're in.
Skektek:  That's why I've been taking notes, and why I wanted to take a
  few more back in that mummy-king's domain.
Belphanior:  (glares at the wizard)
Elgon:  (helpfully tries to break the tension)  What do you think became
  of that foe?
Skektek:  Uh...well, mummies generally don't like fire, and they burn
  easily.  My delayed fireball should have cooked the whole gateway room
  and everyone in it.
Otto:  I wonder if it melted the gateway too?
Belphanior:  (rubbing his chin thoughtfully, recalling the melted gateway
  beneath Baron Albert's manor)  The fireball might not have destroyed
  it - Drusilla said that was hard to do - but it's probably damaged.
Ys:  Should we be ready for Al-arakara to follow us here?
Belphanior:  It wouldn't hurt.  You and Charlie stand guard, watch this
  gateway.  If he lives, and if he's coming through, I'd guess he'll do
  it now, or very soon.  Otto, Elgon - check this room for other exits,
  and that door for traps.  I don't see any with my crystal eye, but it
  might not pick up everything.  Jenna, see about some magic that will
  either block or trap the gateway, or at least warn us if it gets used
  after we leave here.  Skektek, let's figure out what we know about the
  gateway destinations so far.
Skektek:  And make some notes on this gateway.
Belphanior:  Of course.
wispy thing:  (flies off to have a look at the exit door)  fssss.

  In short order, everything was accomplished...

Otto:  No other exits, no traps.  The door is locked but we're pretty
  sure we can pick it.
Elgon:  In the meantime, I've worked a spell to reduce the cold in this
  room, at least for a time.  Though if you have any warm clothing, now
  is a good time to put it on.  We're guessing it's a lot colder on the
  other side of that door.
Ys:  (looks at the gateway)  Nothing is happening here.
Razor Charlie:  (grunts his agreement)
Jenna:  I have put a warning spell on this gateway; if it gets used at
  all in the next few hours, I will know - no matter how far we wander
  away from it.
Belphanior:  Good work, all.  As for the gateways themselves and their
  individual attributes, here's what Skektek and I have deduced from his
  notes, our memory, and recent experiences.

  The elf opened a rolled parchment, upon which various notes had been

   Blackmoor     dark brown             ?           destroyed
   Fortress      black                  ?           destroyed
   Pelisso       light green            muck        functional
   Sea of Dust   pale yellow            dust        unknown
   (current)     white                  ice         functional

Skektek:  This leaves fourteen that we haven't visited, including six
  whose locations Drusilla gave us.  We don't think this is one of those
Ys:  How did you know what color the gateway within the Fortress of the
  Nine was?
Belphanior:  We remembered what color the melted stone was.
Skektek:  Same deal for the destroyed gateway underneath Baron Albert's
  mansion in Blackmoor.
Belphanior:  Skektek did remember that the dial on Al-arakara's gateway
  was identical to the Pelisso one...hmm, or this one.
Skektek:  I'm guessing that every gateway has all nineteen dial settings.
  After all, anything else would be stupid.
Belphanior:  Xusia's logic was known only to him.
Otto:  We can try to figure it out as we go, though.
Skektek:  As for this one...the Sueloise rune we picked at random wasn't
  complex and it stuck in my mind.  (he consults his notes, shuffling the
  papers until he finds what he wants)  Aha.  It means "ice."
Razor Charlie:  Hmph.
Belphanior:  Thus, we're most likely somewhere far to the north, and very
Otto:  And we can't figure out exactly where?
Skektek:  I don't have a spell for that.
Jenna:  I might be able to divine our location, but not without some
Otto:  This is getting complicated.
Elgon:  It's simple, really, if you look at it from the right standpoint.
  The lich wanted outposts in many, there, anywhere.  What
  we've inherited here is a simple way to move between them.  All we're
  missing is a geographical map showing where they are.
Razor Charlie:  Still seems complicated.
Belphanior:  So that's where we stand:  an unknown place, probably cold
  as anything, with many unknown gateways and a few known ones as our
Otto:  Or the Sea of Dust gateway, if it still works.
Skektek:  And we lost the lightning rod, too.  Damn that Al-arakara and
  damn the Sea of Dust!
wispy thing:  (hovering nearby, it frowns)
Belphanior:  (realizes something)  You...we first found you about ten
  years ago, in the dungeon under the Sea of Dust.  I wonder...
wispy thing:  sprrr.
Jenna:  Tell me why, again, we can't just teleport out of here with our
  normal magic?
Belphanior:  Drusilla said something about the other gateways being
  shielded somehow, against detection and magical intrusion.  Still, it
  wouldn't hurt to try, would it?
Skektek:  Definitely not.
Belphanior:  Very well.  Everyone gather around.

  The elf worked a spell of teleportation, concentrating as he chanted
the words of power, and then the final one that executed the magic and
initiated the teleportation.  However, nothing happened.

Skektek:  (sighs)  Well, that settles that.
Belphanior:  Hmm.  (curious, he walks around the edge of the domed room,
  eyeing the walls closely)
Otto:  What is it?
Belphanior:  Just like that last one...there's a lot of lead and other
  heavy metals mixed in with the stone here.  Undoubtedly this was the
  intention, to block intrustion.
Ys:  Unfortunately, it also blocks escape.
Belphanior:  That may be.  Or, we may be able to get out of the shielded
  area and teleport safely.  (he points to the small exit door)  We won't
  know until we go through that door.

next:      icy conditions
released:  6/25/04
notes:     This is the real power of this storyline:  I can send them
  anywhere, even places not on the map or that no one knows exist.  And
  waiting for them could be anyone or anything.

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