Chapter #907

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
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                               +           +
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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       +
+   1991-2006 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                           +
+                                                                         +
+   Alindyar       18th level drow wizard                                 +
+   Lyra           14th level female drow wizard                          +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+                                                                         +
+   Parekh         18th level human female wizard                         +
+   Drak           14th level human barbarian warrior                     +
+   Neera          11th level human female sage/astrologer                +
+   Pallin         17th level grey elven wizard of Celestian              +
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+   Date:          8/20/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          morning                                                +
+   Place:         Monmurg, capital of the Hold of the Sea Princes        +
+   Climate:       cool and pleasant                                      +
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+   "A warrior takes advantage of what is at hand."                       +
+                                          - from _An Eye For An Eye_     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   CMVII.  Sudden Freedom





  After some fighting at the docks, and much sinking and destruction of
the city's ships, Mongo and four others now stand in the path of a trio
of fireballs, which sail through the air toward them!

Elgon:  Oh, shit.
Jenna:  (frowning)  I don't sense-
Mongo:  (puffs up his chest and steps in front of the other four)

  Something most strange happened next:  the fireballs curved slightly,
all three of them arcing toward Mongo...and then, just like that, they
were gone.  There was no earth-shaking explosion, no water-roiling blast
of heat, no flesh-melting flame that reduced its victims to char and ash
and left a huge crater in the ground.  No, none of this happened...for
Mongo's supremely powerful Coat of Arnd absorbed the magical energy of
the three fireballs.  The other adventurers felt a slight wave of heat,
but nothing more.

Elgon:  (shocked beyond all belief)  Well.

  In the sky overhead...

Monmurg wizard #1:  Dammit!
Monmurg wizard #2:  I don't believe this.
Monmurg wizard #3:  (about to say something, he is suddenly knocked back
  in the air by a flying hammer)

  The warhammer actually punched a hole _through_ the unfortunate mage,
sending various guts (and most of his spine) spraying across the ground
behind his now-lifeless body.

Monmurg wizard #3:  (gaping in shock, he falls, dead)
Monmurg wizard #1:  Aie!
Monmurg wizard #2:  (wiping splattered blood from his eyes)  Watch out-

  Their surprise continued to grow, as a bolt of lightning shot upward
from the outstretched hand of Skektek and the ring on that hand.  This
lightning bolt hit the second of the Monmurg wizards, reducing him to a
small lump of char in a matter of moments.

Monmurg wizard #1:  (conjuring frantically, knowing that it's too late)
  Shit.
Mongo:  (below, he steps forward, catching his hammer)
Skektek:  (follows the dwarf)

  The last of the trio of wizards was desperate and panicked.  He'd seen
these foes shrug off every attack that had been mounted against them,
and keep on fighting.  The Monmurg wizard didn't know if this was due to
magic resistance, or defensive magic, or something else.  What he _did_
know was that he likely had one final chance to take out these invaders,
and one final, powerful spell that was his best chance of stopping them.
The situation had been different when he and his two now-slain cohorts -
widely-known as three of the more powerful wizards in Monmurg - had first
heard about invaders down at the city docks.  At that time, they'd made
jokes about how the enemies hadn't yet met proper wizards.  It had almost
been a joke, this apparent threat...and now, he was the only one of the
trio still alive, and the strange foes on the ground had survived attacks
both physical and magical.
  The wizard was desperate, and so he used his deadliest spell.  Though
it would only affect one single foe, it was now apparent that the dwarf
with the hammer was the most powerful and dangerous of those below.  He
was the obvious target, and so it was that the Monmurg wizard pointed a
finger at the dwarf below, launching his most fearsome spell of all...the
dreaded finger of death!

Mongo:  (feels a slight shiver as the spell is absorbed by his armor)
  Eh?
Skektek:  Get him, now, before he can cast anything else!
Mongo:  Right.  (he draws his arm back)
Monmurg wizard #1:  Shit.

  A moment later, the enchanted warhammer flew through the air toward
the wizard.  He had some protections already cast upon his person, but
in truth, Stormcrest was more powerful.  The hammer smashed through the
wizard's defensive barriers, and then a moment later, it smashed through
his skull.

Mongo:  So much for him.  (he turns to regard the decimated fleet in the
  harbor)  Hmm, not too many left.
Skektek:  I think you've done enough....we need to get to the armory and
  meet Belphanior and the others.
Mongo:  But I could sink the rest-
Skektek:  It's handled.  (he points his wand of fireballs at a cluster
  of still-intact ships, and a fireball flies that way, quickly setting
  several ships ablaze)  Let's get moving.

  Ys, Elgon, and Jenna were, of course, alive and well.  Mongo's armor,
which was an ancient, mighty artifact with many powers and properties,
had absorbed the fireballs into itself.  Naturally, there was a limit to
how much magic power it could consume this way, but that limit had not
yet been reached, and the fleet of Monmurg was now a shambles.  The job
had been done, and they knew that the best move was to regroup with the
others.  The only thing better than having Mongo around was having Mongo
and Belphanior around.
  The group made haste, dashing up from the dock area toward the city
proper.



  Meanwhile, in the depths of the slave pens, the other group had found
their quarry...

Alindyar:  (wide-eyed)
Otto:  Now that's a lot of slaves.

  Lyra's summoned wizard eye had helped them find the main concentration
of slaves in the complex; they were housed in a series of cavernous
underground chambers, of which this was the first.  The adventurers now
stood at the junction of hallway and holding pen, and the latter was a
gigantic underground space containing hundreds of cages.  These cages
were arranged in rows, with walkways between them as well as above them.
The place was vast, and a large doorway at its end led to another huge
chamber just like this one.

Lyra:  What is this place?
Belphanior:  This is where they keep slaves most recently imported from
  the Amedio Jungle - note the peculiar complexion of their skin.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  'Tis not peculiar.  Their skin is black,
  just like ours.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Technically, their skin is black like, say,
  Rillen's, which is more of a dark brown really, whereas ours is jet-
  black-
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye, aye, I get the point.
Otto:  (to Belphanior)  Ah.  Are they savages?
Belphanior:  It doesn't matter.  (he looks around)  We've got to get
  those cages open, and let them know what's going on.  (he begins to
  set up the magical teleportation cord that Parekh gave him)  We're
  going to arm them.  One reason the skyship's not loaded up with golems
  is that it's loaded up with swords and knives.  We just have to get
  them.  Charlie, you can help me with that.  Lyra, can you conjure up
  that oversized Tenser's disc we discussed?
Lyra:  No problem.  (she begins spellcasting)
Alindyar:  I shall handle the opening of the cages.
Otto:  Um...that leaves just me to guard the entryway there.  I mean,
  that _is_ possible with this new crossbow and some damn fine shooting,
  but it might be better if I had some help.  (to Belphanior)  During
  the strategizing of this, you mentioned additional help...
Belphanior:  I've already got that planned.  (he points to the loop of
  magical cord, which has floated into a vertical position and shows a
  view of the skyship's deck)  Charlie, you know where the weapons are.
  (he begins looking through his pack)  I'll get us some reinforcements.
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces at the odd portal to another place)
Lyra:  Let's go.  (she walks through the disc and is gone)
Razor Charlie:  (sneers, then follows her, vanishing from sight)
wispy thing:  (eyeing the teleportation portal)  sprrp?
Belphanior:  (holds up the Book of Beasts)  Ah, reinforcements.
Otto:  (nods, watching the exit, crossbow in hand)
Alindyar:  As for the cages...observe.

  The dark elf floated down toward the first row of cages, and as he did
so, his very appearance changed...to that of a large, muscular warrior
of the same race and appearance as the vast majority of the imprisoned
people.

altered-Alindyar:  (now speaking in a thunderous voice that booms all
  throughout the huge chamber, in a tongue foreign to both Belphanior
  and Otto but that instantly gets the attention of all the caged
  slaves)  HEAR ME NOW.  MY FRIENDS AND I ARE HERE TO LEAD YOU OUT OF
  THIS PLACE.  YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE FREED AND ARMED BY MY COMPANIONS
  THERE.  (he turns and points to Belphanior and Otto)  IF YOU WISH TO
  KEEP YOUR FREEDOM, YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT YOUR WAY OUT.  YOUR CAPTORS,
  WHO CONTROL THE CITY ABOVE, WILL TRY TO STOP YOU AND US.  FIGHT FOR
  YOUR FREEDOM NOW, IF YOU WISH TO LIVE FREE...FOREVER!

  A massive cheer went up from the hundreds of captives, just as the
dark elven archmage changed every locking bar, on an entire double row
of cells, into a gigantic wet noodle.  Even as dozens of cell doors
were thrown open, the disguised drow floated past a second row of the
cells, repeating his alteration magic.

Otto:  I didn't know he could do that.  (to Belphanior)  Did you know
  he could do that?
Belphanior:  (shakes his head)  He's full of surprises, isn't he?  (as
  he opens the Book of Beasts, he begins chanting words of power)

  By the time Lyra and Charlie had brought a pile of weapons over from
the skyship, and freed slaves were lining up to take them, Belphanior
had summoned a giant hornet, a manticore, and a roper.  Of course, the
appearance of these monsters would have no positive effect on the newly
free ex-slaves, so Alindyar took action.  To the eyes of the hundreds
of former slaves, the monsters appeared to be a small bird, a monkey,
and a large ape.  Per the elf's orders, these beasts now waited behind
the adventurers, out of the way of the horde of ex-slaves that had
formed.

Belphanior:  (takes a sword and hands it to the very first man in line,
  and points to the exit)
Alindyar:  (addresses the mob, again in a booming voice in their own
  language)  FREEDOM AWAITS YOU!

  The reaction was unanimous and powerful:  the throng let out a wild
cheer, and began moving toward the exit.  Some stopped to grab weapons,
while others just filed out, intent on being free and not thinking about
fighting.

Otto:  You know, come to think of it, I don't really need any help to
  guard the entryway.
Belphanior:  (smirks)
Lyra:  I wouldn't want to be any random guards in this place, who run
  into this mob.
wispy thing:  (eyeing the horde of escaping ex-prisoners)  rrrrb.
Alindyar:  I shall have to repeat this for the other room of slave pens.
  (he flies away to do that, this time accompanied by Lyra)
Razor Charlie:  (grimacing at the people who are taking up weapons and
  fleeing)  Waste of a lot of good weaponry, if you ask me.
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  Money's not an issue.  We can always buy more
  weapons, but it's not every day that you can arm a horde of angry ex-
  slaves and turn them against their former captors.
Razor Charlie:  (considers the meaning of this deep thought)
Otto:  Pardon me for asking, but...shouldn't we be going after Prince
  Creon, while we still can?  After all, he is the leader of this city,
  and the whole land.  I know he wasn't the first target in your plan,
  but still...
Belphanior:  He's a scheming, cowardly fool who poses no actual threat
  to us.  Trust me, I want his blood, and we _will_ get to him - but
  he's not a tactically-valuable target compared to the others we've
  destroyed or infiltrated here today.  (he eyes the distant chamber,
  identical to the one they stand in now)  As soon as Alindyar is done
  and those other slaves are out, we're leaving and heading to the city
  armory.





next:       regrouping, and a real challenge
gateways:   http://www.peldor.com/misc/gateways.php?chapter=907
ftp:        ftp.peldor.com
www:        http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:   http://www.peldor.com/
email:      tmiller@peldor.com
released:   2/17/06
notes:      I find myself wondering if an invasion like this would (or
  could) actually play out the way I've written mine.
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