Chapter #861

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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:           1/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           indeterminate, probably late morning                  +
+   Place:          the depths of the vacant fortress of Greyspire        +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   " one here gets out alive."                                      +
+                                                      - Jim Morrison     +

                  DCCCLXI.  The Scourge of Greyspire

  The party's explorations have stopped at a great double door of black
metal, which radiates tremendous levels of magic and power.  For an hour,
the magi have meticulously analyzed and deconstructed the arcane wards
and glyphs that protect this portal.

Mongo:  (bored, he kicks a small rock)
black pawns:  (bickering with the white pawns)
white knight:  (checking his arrow's steel points)  I fear that we'll
  be in fierce battle soon, young master.
Bosco:  (wondering if he can ride the centaur)  Yep.
black knight:  (paws the passage's stone floor, restless, small flares
  of smoke shooting from its nostrils)
white rook:  (along with the black rook, it simply stands there, inert
  in the absence of commands or action)

  The bishops - both the sagely old priest in white robes and the sour,
sharp-tongued one in black robes - had proven invaluable in helping
identify and negate the traps on the portal.  The white-garbed priest
seemed to wield more in the way of raw magical power, but the black-
garbed priest was clearly familiar with dangerous wards like those on
the huge doors...

black bishop:  Ah, there we go.
white bishop:  (nods)
black bishop:  (helpfully)  That one, if triggered, would have shredded
  all within twenty feet thanks to a whirlwind of razor-sharp, invisible
Alindyar:  Fascinating.  (ESPing to Lyra)  That sounds much like the
  priestly blade-barrier spell.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Someone doesn't want that door opened.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  At least not without significant harm to the
white bishop:  (working a spell)  This fire rune is easy; I can simply
  dispel it.
black bishop:  There's a curse-bearing one on the floor too.  (he begins
  studying the dark, stained stone)  I'll see if I can't erase that.
Bosco:  (suddenly prancing around excitedly)  That's what I'm talking
  about - teamwork!  (he spots Mongo, who looks almost sullen)  What's
Mongo:  (shaking his head)  I'm worried about the fate of the people
  who lived and worked in Greyspire.  With these blood trails - that all
  lead here, to these doors - I'm guessing it won't be good.
Bosco:  If they're alive, we'll rescue them.
Mongo:  (darkly)  And if they're dead, we'll avenge them.

  In short order, the wizards proclaimed the double metal portals free
of all harmful wards, spells, and traps.

Bosco:  (eyeing Alindyar and Lyra questioningly)
Alindyar:  (nods)  'Tis true.  These doors are free of harmful properties
  and ready to be opened.
Bosco:  (points to the two golems, of ivory and ebony)  I think they
  should do it.
white golem:  (immediately lumbers toward the portals, as does its dark
Bosco:  Whoa!  Get ready to open them, but don't do it until I give the
Lyra:  Smart thinking.  Should you summon more help from that strange
  little chess set?
Bosco:  Hmm, good question.  (he gestures at the two bishops)  Say, just
  how long do you guys stick around for, anyway?  Hours?  Days?
black bishop:  As long as we are needed.
Lyra:  That's no answer-
white bishop:  (to Bosco)  We do not...expire, young master.  We are here
  until slain, or the quest we were summoned for is complete.
Bosco:  But it's hardly complete.
white bishop:  Then remain we shall.
black bishop:  (scowls)
Bosco:  I don't think I'll summon more reinforcements right now.  After
  all, what's the worst that could await us behind these doors?  (to the
  golems)  Open those now...heave ho!

  The huge stone golems obeyed, each one grabbing one of the thick metal
rings and tugging.  Bosco (and several of the others) half-expected some
undiscovered magical or physical trap to go off, but it didn't happen.
As the portals were pulled outward, a reddish glow emanated from the
ever-widening space of the doorway...and even the most seasoned among the
party paused and took note of the strange, awesome, horrific scene now
revealed beyond the double doors.

Alindyar:  Aie.

  The dark, relatively narrow passage they'd come through gave way to
a truly vast cavern. the difference akin to night and day, or indoor
and outdoor.  This was primarily due to the immense fire-pit on the far
end of the underground chamber; it cast a reddish light on the entire
cavern and everything in it.  The doors were built into the wall of the
bottom level of a colossal arena, its circular floor at least three
hundred feet across.  This wide, flat stone surface was the bottom of
an inverted ziggurat, with a dozen tiers rising up like huge benches in
five-foot increments.  Directly across from the double doors and the
adventurers, built into a portion of the lowest three or four tiers,
was the fire-pit, from which fierce tongues of flame licked and hissed.

  Almost all of the tiered steps of the arena (or whatever it was) were
filled with fierce, gibbering monstrosities.

Lyra:  Demons!
black bishop:  This isn't good...not good at all.

  Although every sentient member of the explorers (or perhaps more aptly
now, intruders) wanted nothing more than to take some kind of action,
they instead stood their ground, shocked, but did nothing for the moment.
This was because, despite all of the growling and hissing that was going
on amongst the hundreds of demons assembled here, not one of them had
attacked or even made a move toward the adventurers yet.  There was also
another reason, and even now, it rose behind the fire-pit...and instantly
dwarfed all other demons around it.  Twenty feet tall and powerfully
broad, this behemoth clearly commanded the awe (and perhaps fear) of the
others.  The huge demon's body was fundamentally human in shape, except
with short reddish fur everywhere.  It was also completely and obscenely
naked, and definitely male in gender.  The crimson, leathery wings on its
back had a wingspan of perhaps fifty feet; as they beat softly, nearby
lesser demons hustled to stay out of their way.  The big demon's arms
were abnormally long and powerful, ending in sharp black fingernails.
One hand held a gigantic, curved sword of jet-black steel; the other
clutched a long whip of red leather, whose tip danced and darted about
of its own accord.  The monstrosity's head was that of a feral dog, red-
skinned and with drooling fangs and slavering black tongue, the ears
short and flattened back against the misshapen skull.  Two small horns
protruded from the top of that canine forehead, and beneath these were
pale white eyes without pupils or irises.  Last but not least, a thin,
barbed tail swished back and forth behind the immense fiend.

  The gigantic demon took a step forward, addressing the new arrivals.


next:      explanation, followed by mayhem
released:  2/25/05
notes:     Not much to say.  As mentioned previously, this arc will move
  faster than the others, and come to a head you can see.

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