Chapter #860

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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:           1/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           indeterminate, probably morning                       +
+   Place:          the depths of the vacant fortress of Greyspire        +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "I'm not afraid of you...I'm afraid for you."                         +
+                                                     - from _Beowulf_    +

                  DCCCLX.  Road To Perdition

  After descending into the base of Greyspire, and then further, the
group encountered and defeated an amorphous abomination of malformed limbs
and heads.  Despite making camp and resting for the night, none of the
explorers felt very refreshed...

Bosco:  I had the weirdest dreams last night.  I guess you could call
  them nightmares...but I don't remember much.
Mongo:  Me too.  (he looks around)  It must be this damned place.
Lyra:  (glances at Alindyar)

  The drow had originally hailed from the Underdark, and so they knew of
places whose aura - be it magic, evil, or whatever - was so strong that
it permeated peoples' minds.  This was doubly true for those not native
to the area.  This place, however, was not the Underdark.

Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  I, too, had some most unusual dreams.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  I don't know about you, but I'm not feeling
  very well.  I hope my magic's up to par today, because we're going to
  need every bit of help we can get.

  They stood before the huge cavern's sole exit:  thirty feet high, about
that wide, and sharply arched, the corridor was fashioned of jet-black

Mongo:  Damned if this isn't the end of the natural caverns and the
  beginning of...something else.
white bishop:  Something most evil.
black bishop:  (frowning unpleasantly)  Definitely.
white knight:  (tests the string of his longbow)  It's our lot in life,
  to conquer evil.  I stand ready.
white pawns:  (nodding to themselves confidently)
Bosco:  How come you guys are so happy and spry this morning?  Are you
  immune to nightmares or something?
white knight:  Nightmares?
white bishop:  (to Bosco)  Young master, you must remember that we are
  not quite...alive.
white pawn #1:  (to white pawn #2)  What's he talking about?
white pawn #2:  (shrugs)  No idea.
black bishop:  (to Bosco)  To answer your question...technically, yes,
  we _are_ immune to nightmares.
Bosco:  Oh.
Mongo:  (shaking his head, muttering)  We need more berserkers.
Bosco:  Are you sure I shouldn't use the chess set to summon more help?
black bishop:  (snickering softly to himself)
Mongo:  Not yet.  We seem to have a good number of allies right now.
black bishop:  (snickering some more)
Mongo:  What the hell's so funny?
black bishop:  (ignores the dwarf)
Bosco:  (wearily)  What's the joke?  Why are you chuckling?
black bishop:  Young master, think twice before you summon the black
  queen.  She's a real...well, just make sure you need her.
white bishop:  (winces, despite himself)
Bosco:  Huh?  What could be that bad?
white bishop:  Trust me, she is.  (he lays a hand on Bosco's shoulder)
  Be cautious with your use of the chess set, young master.  Oftimes,
  the solution is worse than the problem.
Alindyar:  (growing annoyed)  If we do not soon venture through that
  door, I may render a permanent solution.
Mongo:  (snaps out of whatever daze he was in, remembering that this is
  his mission and he's supposed to be leading it)  Right.  (he looks at
  everyone, then at the arched passage ahead)  Everyone ready?
Bosco:  Ready!
Lyra:  No, but I'm sure we'll go ahead anyway.
Alindyar:  (swirls his cloak about him)  Let us proceed.

  They entered the passage, from which a slight, chilly breeze wafted.
It led straight ahead, with no twists or turns and no changes in its
elevation.  Illumination was provided by floating spheres (from Alindyar)
as well as a light-spell cast upon the shield of one of the white pawns
at the party's front rank.  They walked for what seemed like forever,
their footsteps echoing hollowly in the spacious, seemingly endless hall.

Bosco:  Hey, what's that?  (he points to a dark stain on the floor)
Mongo:  What sharp little eyes you have.  (he bends down)  Dried blood.
Lyra:  There's some more...and there.

  The floor and walls of the passage had small, sporadic smears of dried
blood, here and if something (or somethings) had been dragged
through the hall, without regard for the evidence.

Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Methinks the answer is close at hand.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Stay sharp.
Mongo:  Well, we don't yet know what happened to the host of Greyspire,
  but we're definitely on their trail.  (he cracks his knuckles)  By all
  the gods of battle and rage, someone is going to pay for this.
Bosco:  That's the kind of talk I like to hear.  (to the black bishop)
  Say, old chum, do you detect any more evil here, or up ahead?
black bishop:  (scowls)  Evil is everywhere...but yes, it's quite a bit
  stronger the further we go.
white bishop:  That's putting it mildly.  Whatever lies ahead, it's not
  going to be friendly, or easily vanquished.
Mongo:  We'll see about that.

  The group pressed onward, despite a strong sense of menace that seemed
to envelop the place.  A few moments later, there was a cry from one of
those at the front rank of the party...

white pawn:  Ho!  A door!
Bosco:  (grimacing as he spies the massive portal ahead)  I hope that
  thing doesn't have a lock we need to pick.

  The passage ended in a double door whose size and shape matched the
passage perfectly:  together, the portals formed a thirty-foot high arch
that was almost as wide.  The doors were fashioned of black metal, with
numerous spiked studs facing outward.  A large ring, of the same black
metal, hung from each door, fifteen feet above the floor.

Bosco:  No way are we gonna be able to reach those.
Mongo:  Maybe this door was made for giants.
Alindyar:  Or something even more powerful.
Lyra:  Can you feel the magic on those doors?  It's almost coming off
  in waves...
Alindyar:  Aye.  (he regards the white bishop questioningly)
white bishop:  (nods)  These doors have protections upon protections...
  all sorts of wards.
black bishop:  And some writing, if I'm not mistaken.  (he points to a
  row of runes engraved directly into the metal surface, spanning both
  of the doors)  Most intriguing.
Mongo:  (points to the floor)  Not as intriguing as those bloodstains.
  Look, you can see where someone was dragged along this hallway and right
  through those doors.  Um, when they were open, of course.
Lyra:  (eyeing the formidable doors)  This won't be easy.
Bosco:  (to the summoned allies)  Take five, guys.  We need to figure out
  how to open these doors without getting ourselves killed.
Lyra:  Or worse.

next:      the Scourge of Greyspire
released:  2/18/05
notes:     This arc won't go as long as the ocean-voyage arc did - I just
  don't have that much more to do with it.  They've come a long way, but
  it's only taken a couple of days of fictional time (as opposed to the
  voyage arc, which is months of fictional time.)  So, expect to see some
  real action in the next episode.

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