Chapter #874

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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       +
+   1991-2005 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/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   Date:          7/3/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          morning                                                +
+   Place:         unknown                                                +
+   Climate:       dry and cool                                           +
+   "This was maybe not such a good idea."                                +
+                                                  - from _The Abyss_     +

                   DCCCLXXIV.  Connecting the Dots

  After using the gateway network yet another time, the group has arrived
in a medium-sized natural cavern which is, oddly enough, empty.

Belphanior:  (opens the single exit door, the metal squeaking as if it
  hasn't moved in a long time)  Whoa.
Otto:  Well, this is odd.

  They were looking into the depths of a gigantic canyon, from the door
built into one steep rock face.  Above as well as below, their vision was
eventually limited by thick mists.  Put another way, the door was a small
speck in one wall of a canyon so deep that they couldn't see its bottom
or top.

Otto:  (almost pushes past Belphanior in his haste to get a better look)
Belphanior:  This certainly looks like a dead end.  Maybe I should fly out
  there and explore.
Otto:  I wouldn't advise that.  (he points to the mists above, and then
  down to the ones below)  There's only one place on Oerth that looks
  like this, and I know it well.  (he turns to the others)  Welcome to
  the Riftcanyon.
Elgon:  (trying to get a better look himself)  The Riftcanyon?  I've heard
  of this place.
Jenna:  I've heard of it's supposed to be a mystical place,
  almost legendary.
Otto:  It's not a legend.  (he suddenly pulls the door closed)  But it is
Belphanior:  Not that we don't know that already, but how so?
Otto:  All kinds of critters roam its depths - including flying ones.  And
  if we're so deep that all we see above and below is mists, then we're in
  the realm of the really big, dangerous critters.
wispy thing:  sprrd.
Razor Charlie:  Explain "critter."
Otto:  Winged flesh-eaters, all fang and claw...they can swoop in, rip
  your head off, and be gone before you ever know they're around.  One
  other time, we ran into this thing with four limbs, that climbed up a
  sheer rock face to reach its victims.
Ys:  It sounds as though you have been here before, and dealt with these
Otto:  I have.  I...worked in Greyspire for quite some time.  One of my
  particular responsibilities was the charting and exploration of the
  canyon near the fortress.  Let me tell you, "charting and exploration"
  quickly turned into "figure out the best defense against the monsters
Skektek:  Sounds like a job for a lightning bolt or two.
Otto:  That might work, but you'd attract the attention of something else.
  There's no end to the things that lurk down here.
Belphanior:  A never-ending fight...
Otto:  And for what?  Clearly this door doesn't lead anywhere else, and
  whatever was here is gone.  I mean, we could set out to explore the
  depths of the Riftcanyon, if that's what you want-
Belphanior:  Or we could get back to exploring the gateways.  Your point
  is well taken.  (he shakes his head)  Though it's a shame we don't have
  more time.
Otto:  Yeah, I'd kind of like to know how Greyspire is doing these days.
  (he frowns)  Then again, I'd kind of not like to know.
Jenna:  Me either.  I sense great evil from within this canyon.
Otto:  Yep.  Just getting to Greyspire would be one hell of a fight.
Belphanior:  Okay, here's the deal.  Skektek, Elgon - look into putting
  a wizard lock on that door, to help keep people or monsters out.  The
  rest of you, help me check this place one last time, for anything of
  value or anything we missed.

  There was, however, nothing.  The place was as barren as their initial
search had suggested.  Whatever was once here was long-gone now, leaving
only the two options:  the Riftcanyon depths and the gateway to another

Belphanior:  We can't really explore the canyon, looking for whatever it
  is that got dragged out of here.  (he frowns)  Well, we could, but that
  would be folly.
Otto:  (examining the cavern floor)  The crates, or whatever they were,
  most definitely got dragged across here toward that metal door...and
  then out.  Hmm, maybe they had flying help.  We may never know.
Elgon:  No sense chasing something that could have happened months ago.
Otto:  Nope.
Belphanior:  The gateway it is.  (to Skektek)  Any luck figuring out the
  unknown runes on these gateways?
Skektek:  Well, I haven't exactly had a lot of time to work on it, but
  I might have one or two more.  (he points to one rune on the gateway's
  metal dial)  That one, I'm fairly sure, means "darkness."  (he points
  to another rune)  And that one, "depth."
Belphanior:  Those are best guesses?
Skektek:  Yeah.
Belphanior:  I just don't want to learn later that "depth" actually means
  "Abyss", if you know what I mean.
Skektek:  (sighs)
Otto:  Didn't you say that the rune for this place- (he gestures to the
  cavern around them) -meant "cut" or "wound"?
Skektek:  That's what I thought, but clearly it really meant a cut in the
  world's surface, seeing as how it led to the Riftcanyon.  (he frowns)
  These translations aren't easy work, you know.  The lich's language was
  thousands of years old.
Belphanior:  (realizes that perhaps he should seek help from Nenya, near
  Greyhawk, as she is an expert on all things Sueloise)
Skektek:  (still somewhat perturbed)  So, in short, I'm doing the best I
  can, given the significant challenge of the task.
Otto:  Just checking.  (to Belphanior)  So what next?
Belphanior:  I say we go for "depth."  We haven't found much of value in
  the last few, so maybe it's time to try something that sounds riskier.

  With that, preparations were made...weapons checked, spells reviewed
mentally, and so on.  The gateway was activated, the dial set to the odd,
archaic rune that Skektek had just identified.  The stone of the magical
archway transformed into mist, which the adventurers then walked through,
one at a time.  The now-familiar combination of sensations assailed their
senses...nausea, vague movement, a feeling of floating, a smell that was
really no smell...

Belphanior:  (steps onto solid footing)  Ugh.

  The elf emerged from an archway of dark purple stone, his crystal eye
instantly alerting him to the fact that there was no normal light here.
He was standing within a small alcove, perhaps ten feet deep and about
that wide, the intricate stonework of its walls contrasted by the strange,
mildly-glowing fungus that covered much of them.  The alcove appeared to
open into a much larger chamber.

Belphanior:  (eyeing the glowing fungus and the stonework)  Damn, this
  looks like-
Elgon:  (emerges from the gateway, and his eyes immediately widen)  The

  Just then, they realized that something was happening in the chamber
beyond their alcove...something big.

Belphanior:  (peering out from the alcove, he sees a flurry of moving
  figures, some with weapons and some casting spells, just as a fireball
  explodes several hundred feet away, illuminating everything)
Elgon:  Crap.
Belphanior:  (unsheathes his sword)
Otto:  (having just appeared from the gateway, he blinks)  This may be
  a stupid question, but why are we in the middle of a fight between
  drow and undead?

next:       pitched battle in the Underdark
released:   5/27/05
notes:      It's time...time to confront Al-arakara the mummy lord again.
  I couldn't think of a more fitting place to do so than the Underdark,
  along with some of its denizens.  We've known for some time that at
  least one of these gateways led to the Underdark, so here it is.  With
  any luck, I can also reveal some more about the mummy lord, his forces,
  and his goals/motivations.

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