Chapter #863

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +
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+     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                                                  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Don't step on any toes."                                             +
+   "I don't step on toes...I step on necks."                             +
+                              - from _Braddock:  Missing In Action 3_    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  DCCCLXIII.  Here There Be Demons





  Deep beneath the known levels of Greyspire, the adventurers (and their
summoned allies) have faced off against the exiled demon lord N'Gasai...

Mongo:  You will die, and I'll be the one who kills you.
N'Gasai:  I, WHO HAVE WALKED THE DEATH-SEAS OF THE ABYSS, BATTLED THE
  HORDES OF BLOOD, AND EATEN THE FLESH OF TITANS...I AM DESTINED TO BE
  SLAIN BY A _DWARF_ WITH A _WARHAMMER_?  YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS.
Mongo:  You'd better believe it.
N'Gasai:  (gesturing to the assembled horde of demons, who are only too
  obviously awaiting the command to attack)  I SENSE THAT SOME AMONG YOUR
  PARTY POSSESS MIGHTY MAGIC...BUT THIS MATTERS NOT, AS WE DEMONS ARE
  RACIALLY RESISTANT TO SUCH ATTACKS.  (he laughs)  WHICH MEANS THAT THIS
  WILL BE BATTLE OF CLAWS AND WEAPONS.  (he points at Mongo) WHICH MEANS
  YOU WILL LOSE.
Mongo:  Oh yeah?

  Mongo moved with a speed that belied his dwarvish stature; his hammer
flew straight and true, and a bolt of lightning trailed it, causing the
air to sizzle as the hammer sailed toward the demon.

N'Gasai:  WHAT-  (struck directly in the face, he recoils as a loud peal
  of thunder shakes the cavern)
assorted demons:  (looking around, distracted)
Mongo:  (shouting)  Let's get them!

  Alindyar and Lyra had been readying themselves for this, using ESP to
formulate a plan based on the most probably course of action.  Mongo had
not disappointed, striking the first blow for the adventurers; it was as
if the entire party (even the Host of Kaloth) recognized the power of the
dwarf.  It wouldn't have felt natural to begin the attack until Mongo
led the way.

Lyra:  (summons a horizontal wall of stone, directly above some of the
  closest demons)

  The foes barely had time to scream in rage.  The heavy slab dropped
an instant after its creation, crushing the monsters into a wet paste.
Alindyar had used the pre-battle discussion to study N'Gasai and get a
good impression of the demon lord; now, he used everything he'd learned
from Tonberry, the Lord of Illusions, to craft a mighty ruse indeed.

false N'Gasai:  (springs up between the party and the majority of the
  demons, bellowing in rage)  FOOLS!
demons:  (recoil in terror)
rather wise-looking demon:  No, you morons, don't run!  This cannot be
  real - our lord was knocked over that way-  (he looks up, just as the
  false N'Gasai's fist swings around)

  There was a meaty THUD as the "illusory" N'Gasai hit the other demon,
hard, sending it flying into the stone steps, broken and bloody.

false N'Gasai:  OUT OF MY WAY!

  Bosco, meanwhile, had echoed Mongo's command to attack (since, in a
technical sense, the Host of Kaloth obeyed his orders and no one else's.)
After that, he'd drawn his shortsword, trying to figure out what to do
next...

Bosco:  Who wants some?!?
huge ape-like demon with curving horns and a fin on its back)  Ssssss!
Bosco:  Yipes!  (he turns, fleeing through the double doors)

  This mattered not to those members of the Host of Kaloth who had been
summoned; they all went into battle, according to their own skills and
abilities.  The pawns protected the bishops, engaging any demons that
came near.  The white knight plied his longbow, sending enchanted arrows
into any convenient target; his archery was fearsome, and every shaft
he fired seemed to find a foe.  The black knight reared back, then ran
through a group of humanoid demons, flames shooting from its mouth and
nostrils, its hooves aflame.  An orc-like demon went down, trampled, its
skull caved in by a burning hoof.  The white bishop summoned a gigantic,
glowing morningstar, whose first action was to crush a bloated, toad-like
demon.  That foe exploded in a mess of blood and gore, even as the force-
weapon swung back around and swatted an insectoid demon from the air.
The black bishop conjured up a cloud of tiny, metallic blades, which
began whirling around in a dance of death.  The demons didn't really
take notice of the blade barrier until it began moving around, catching
first one and then another surprised demon and reducing them to a fine
mist.
  As for the rooks...well, the golems both possessed enough power to
take on - and take out - numbers of demons at a time.  The ivory golem
crushed a skinny demon's head in its stony fist, then backhanded a huge,
boar-like demon, felling it.  The ebony golem ripped a tentacled demon
in half, then stepped on a snake-like demon that had been injured by
someone else.  Blow after blow - claw, fang, hoof, tail - fell on the
golems, but to no avail; their stone bodies resisted these attacks.  A
two-headed reptilian demon breathed fire at one of the constructs, but
the golem ignored the flames, continuing to trample through the demons
and wreak havoc.  It was noteworthy that the Host of Kaloth worked rather
well together, like they were a well-drilled fighting unit.  The warrior-
pawns covered each other's backs and worked to defend the priest-bishops.
The knights, as well, sought out foes that seemed intent on attacking the
bishops.  Even the golems' destructive efforts steered clear of the other
members of the Host.
  And then there was Mongo, who fought with a fury seldom heard of in
legends and the tales of bards.  The dwarf must have seemed like death
incarnate to the demons.  Every throw of his hammer took down a foe, and
most of the blows were fatal, causing the victim's corpse to melt into a
puddle of gore as its spirit left this plane and returned to the Abyss.
Attack after attack hit the dwarf - talons and teeth, fire and spells -
yet none seemed to slow him in the least.  Of course, this was largely
due to the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd; the relic conferred tremendous
protective wards upon its wearer.  Then again, Mongo possessed more than
his share of offensive powers as well...

winged bird-demon:  Screee!  (it swoops down, clawing at the dwarf)
Mongo:  (having just thrown his hammer, he fights back with gauntleted
  fist, smacking the assailant atop its avian head)  Get the hell away!
winged bird-demon:  <crack>  (it falls back, flagellating, its thin neck
  broken)
Mongo:  Fucker.  (he catches his hammer, just in time to let it fly again
  at a massive worm-like demon)
massive worm-demon:  <splat>  (its head becomes paste)

  The adventurers' side had done remarkably well thus far, mostly due to
the demons not suspecting the explorers' true power and capabilities.
Now, however, the tide of battle was turning...

N'Gasai:  (having recovered from Mongo's initial attack, it lunges at
  its illusory counterpart)  AAARGH!  DIE, IMPOSTER!

  Alindyar's most powerful illusions were far more than mere illusions -
they were _creations_, the altering of reality according to his desires
and needs.  The false N'Gasai was flesh and blood, able to strike and be
struck; to all of the weaker demons, it was real.  To the actual demon-
lordling, though, it was a weaker copy.  Worse, Alindyar's creation
demanded his full attention, and as the copy was wounded in battle, that
concentration grew nearer to breaking.

small winged demon:  (senses that the dark elf isn't paying attention,
  and swoops down, claws opened)
Lyra:  Not so fast.  (she blasts the thing with a barrage of acidic bolts)
small winged demon:  (cackles as its magic resistance causes the spell
  to fizzle out)  Heheheheh!
white knight:  (fires an arrow, hitting the flying demon in the eye)
small winged demon:  Aieeee!  (it reels in midair, spinning wildly until
  it crashes into the floor in a heap)
Lyra:  (nods to the centaur)  Thanks.
white knight:  You're quite welcome.
gigantic bear-like demon with two heads:  GRAAARGH!  (it swats two of the
  pawns out of the way, lunges forward, and mauls the centaur)
white knight:  Aaaaargh!  (he struggles, bleeds profusely for a few
  moments, then vanishes suddenly)
gigantic bear-like demon with two heads:  GRRRG?
white rook:  (slams into the demon, pummeling it with stony fists)
gigantic bear-like demon with two heads:  (returns blows with the ivory
  golem)

  Meanwhile, a certain demon lordling was busy ripping his conjured
twin apart...

N'Gasai:  (tears an arm off of the duplicate)  HAH!
Alindyar:  (reels from the backlash)  Aie...
false N'Gasai:  (vanishes into mist)
Lyra:  Damn.  (spying a dozen demons charging toward her and Alindyar,
  she casts a protective force-bubble around the two of them, knowing
  that Alindyar can still work his quasi-illusions by sight, unaffected
  by a wall of force)
white bishop:  (smashes a trio of identical triplet-demons into paste
  with his spiritual morningstar)
N'Gasai:  (leaps over with astonishing speed, grabbing the priest)  NO
  MORE OF THAT.
white bishop:  Aaaargh!
N'Gasai:  (pops the man into its mouth)
white bishop:  (chewed up and swallowed, he vanishes, and is reborn
  somewhere nearby as a chess-piece)
N'Gasai:  URP.  (he turns to the drow)  YOU CAN HIDE IN THAT BUBBLE, BUT
  YOU'RE NOT SAFE.  (he lumbers toward them, the floor shaking with every
  step)  WEAPONS!  (he holds out both hands, and his great black sword
  and red whip sail through the air into his grip)
Mongo:  Hmph.
N'Gasai:  NO MORE TOYING WITH YOU FOOLS - TIME TO DIE!
Bosco:  (appears at the double doors)  Enough.





next:      Bosco calls upon the royalty of the chess set
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
released:  3/11/05
notes:     I'll say it again here:  the nature of Alindyar's "illusions"
  (which are really more akin to an Alter Reality spell) are purposely
  left vague.  This is because he's transcended the normal level of power
  that this sort of magic deals with.
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