Chapter #843

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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                            +
+                                                                         +
+   summoned allies:                                                      +
+                                                                         +
+   Host of Kaloth (only those summoned, not the complete set)            +
+     white bishop  tall, grey-haired high priest                         +
+     black bishop  gaunt, bearded high priest                            +
+     white knight  noble centaur with longbow                            +
+     black knight  jet-black horse with sharp hooves and fire-breath     +
+     white rook    10' ivory golem with shortsword                       +
+     black rook    8' ebony golem with spiked fists                      +
+     2 white pawns white-armored warriors with longswords                +
+     2 black pawns black-armored warriors with spiked maces              +
+   Date:           1/3/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           indeterminate, probably evening                       +
+   Place:          the depths of the vacant fortress of Greyspire        +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "It's a machine, designed by the devil and powered by the dead."      +
+                                                    - from _13 Ghosts_   +

                  DCCCXLIII.  Unexpected Assistance

  The party faces a gigantic, amorphous mass of flesh and slime, with
countless arms, legs, heads, and organs on its exterior and interior
alike.  Both physical and magical attacks have had little or no effect,
and the thing is now creeping toward the spellcasters...

black bishop:  (launches a volley of acidic bolts...which fizzles and
  evaporates ten feet before impacting with the strange creature)  Agh!
Alindyar:  This is not good.
Mongo:  (trying to decide whether to fight or retreat)
Bosco:  Hey, now, don't forget the golems.

  The two stone constructs, one white and one black, had reached the
foe...and unlike the berserkers or even Mongo's hammer, they brought
true large-scale power to the fight.

white stone golem:  (advancing as a half-dozen arms and tentacles reach
  out, it swings its shortsword, severing all of the appendages with a
  single mighty blow)
black stone golem:  (tears into the huge, lumpy monster with both spiked
  fists, ripping gigantic chunks out of the thing with every swing)
Mongo:  Yeah!  (he hurls Stormcrest, taking out the upper half of a maw
  of sharp fangs that just formed)
Alindyar:  (to Lyra and the two bishop-priests)  Now - while yon warriors
  distract that thing - we must work together to deduce a means of ending
  the threat altogether.
Lyra:  All I've got are spells of fire, ice, lightning...and teleportation.
  Though I don't think we can teleport it away, not with magic dying out
  in the thing's vicinity as it has been.
Alindyar:  (to the white bishop)  What of you?
white bishop:  If it was undead, that would be one thing...but it seems
  to be some kind of demon.  I don't have any magic that will destroy
  such a thing.
Lyra:  What we really need is a a way to dispel the thing, send it back
  to its home plane.
black bishop:  (triumphantly)  I know such spells.
Bosco:  You do?!?  (he shakes one tiny fist, angrily)  Why didn't you say
black bishop:  Well, first you told us not to cast any spells, then you
  were talking about destroying it.  But _dispelling_ it...that is another
  matter entirely.
Bosco:  (irritated)  Just do it.
black bishop:  (bows)  Of course, young master.
Mongo:  That's all fine and nice, but someone had better come up with a
  way to keep it from eating us, because it's almost here!

  It was true.  The formless creature had dealt with the golems by flowing
and re-forming _around_ them, and moving onward.  Somewhere, within its
immense bulk, the golems were still tearing it apart...but that meant
nothing to the part of its body that was a mere thirty feet from Alindyar,
Lyra, and the others...and closing fast.

Mongo:  To hell with that!  (he walks forth a bit, facing the thing as a
  long, wiry clawed arm emerges from the huge body and reaches for him)
  No way!  (he lashes out with his hammer, pulverizing the limb)

  The dwarf quickly realized why the berserkers had been defeated:  for
every arm he could destroy, two or three would form and be ready to
attack him.  Smashing another arm whose hand reached for him, Mongo took
a few steps back.

Mongo:  Dammit.
Lyra:  I can buy us some time.  (she completes a spell, and a thick wall
  of ice appears between the party and the creature)  Ah.
Alindyar:  Well done.

  However, only moments later, the ice creaked and buckled as the huge
monster pushed its mass against the barrier.  A crack appeared, and then
another...and then the wall split in two, the amorphous body of the thing
almost _flowing_ through the opening.

Bosco:  That's just too weird.
Mongo:  If someone's not about to do something powerful, then we really
  should be retreating.
black bishop:  Leave it to me.  (he steps forth, chanting, as arcs of
  red energy crackle and dance around his body)

  The effect was immediate and amazing:  the formless monster stopped in
its advance, flesh quivering, a dozen mouths taking up a low, sad wailing
that made the listeners' skin crawl.

black bishop:  Spawn of the Abyss, inheritor of blood and flesh, force
  without form, guardian of the powers granted me by the Great
  Lord Kaloth, I now command you:  BEGONE!

  There was a loud, deep popping sound...and the gigantic mass of limbs
and heads and slime was simply no more.  Only a large, wet mark (and a
significant trail of slime and gore) marked the spot where it had once
existed on this world.  In the center of the large wet spot stood the
two golems, who would have probably looked confused if their stone faces
allowed for such expression.

Lyra:  Well, I'll be damned.
black bishop:  (smirking triumphantly)
Bosco:  I didn't know you could _do_ that.
white bishop:  _I_ didn't know he could do that.

  The golems rejoined the main party, which was now five members less.

Mongo:  Damn.
Lyra:  Will those berserkers come back, the next time you wind that horn?
Mongo:  Beats me.  (he looks around)  What now?
Alindyar:  (pointing)  The answer seems obvious.

  The dark elf's light-cone, far above, had shifted so that it illuminated
the gigantic cavern's only exit.  Across the expanse of the huge, natural
underground chamber, a most unnatural exit passage could be seen.  Thirty
feet high, almost as wide, and sharply arched, the corridor was fashioned
of jet-black stone.  This clearly marked another boundary between natural
rock cavities and worked stone.

Mongo:  But worked by who?
Bosco:  Or what.
Mongo:  This isn't part of Greyspire, no way.  I've never seen stonework
  like this before, as a matter of fact.
black bishop:  Undoubtedly more demons, whom I shall also vanquish-
white bishop:  Give it a rest.
Bosco:  (wondering why the magical chess pieces can't just all get along)
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  This may seem like a bad question, and don't
  take it the wrong way, but...why didn't you do something to help out in
  that battle?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Unfortunately, my powers of illusion and the
  manipulation of reality are of no use against foes with magic resistance
  or immunity, such as that formless one.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  You seem more than a little bothered by this.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye, and you should be as well.  Our primary
  purpose in this endeavor is our magic.  If we face foes who are immune
  to magic, we become useless...indeed, we become liabilities.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Damn, but you're right.  I hadn't considered
  that _everything_ we fight down here might display magic resistance like
  the few things we've seen.

  The party made their way over to the arched passage, and prepared to

Bosco:  (to Mongo)  Do you think I should use the chess set and summon
  more help?
Mongo:  No...not yet, anyway.  Right now, we've only lost the five
  berserkers.  I think we're doing pretty good.
Bosco:  Famous last words...but I hope you're right.

next:      Belphanior ventures into the Hold of the Sea Princes
released:  10/22/04
notes:     I know it must be frustrating when I shift story arcs, but I'm
  trying to keep all three current so I have to do it this way.  Besides,
  I've got some real treats in store for you in the upcoming Belphanior

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