Chapter #908

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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       +
+   1991-2006 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        +
+     giant hornet (summoned monster)                                     +
+     manticore    (summoned monster)                                     +
+     roper        (summoned monster)                                     +
+   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              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:          8/20/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         Monmurg, capital of the Hold of the Sea Princes        +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance."               +
+    - the "Seven P's" rule, as expressed by Richard Marcinko, USN, Ret.  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   CMVIII.  Flawless Execution





  Belphanior's plan has worked very well thus far:  various teams have
inflicted major damage on the docks, the government headquarters, the
Slavers' Council, the main city guardhouse barracks, and the temple
district.  In addition, hundreds of slaves have been freed, armed, and
set loose from the city's slave pens.  Now, they run wild, freeing any
other slaves they could find while wreaking havoc against their former
captors.  The streets are bloody chaos, the city's depleted defense
mechanisms unable to effectively cope with all of this.
  And amidst the confusion and destruction, several groups are in motion
and converging on the last target...



Belphanior:  (flying above the streets, along with Otto, Razor Charlie,
  both drow, the last iron golem, and the three summoned monsters)  This
  was a good idea.
Alindyar:  Every conqueror needs his chariot, yes?

  They weren't riding in a chariot, exactly - more like a giant cup of
stone.  Alindyar had spotted the thing, which had been the dome of some
building they'd destroyed, and animated it as a vehicle to better carry
the group from the slave pens to the armory.

Belphanior:  I'm no conqueror...more like a liberator.
giant hornet:  (technically not riding in the overturned stone dome, as
  it simply flies alongside)  Zzzzzzzz!
wispy thing:  (keeping pace with the giant insect)  spaaa!
manticore:  (flying on the other side of the dome)  Grr...
iron golem:  (just stands there in the center of the stone dome, inert
  for now as commanded by Belphanior)
Otto:  (to Alindyar)  I can't believe that you were able to animate this
  hunk of stone and move it through the sky like this, especially with
  that golem's weight...
Alindyar:  Given the proper frame of reference, weight is just another
  physical characteristic like appearance, smell, and sound.
Otto:  Uh...right.
Belphanior:  (spots a wizard flying to intercept them, and turns to the
  manticore)  Kill that man.
manticore:  (shoots the wizard with its tail spikes, visibly wounding
  him)  Graaaaaahrr!  (it breaks off to further attack the foe)
Lyra:  (spots a large group of infantry moving through a street below,
  and hits them with a chain lightning)  Monmurg won't soon forget this
  day.
Otto:  I don't think anyone will forget this day.
Razor Charlie:  (peering over the edge of the stone dome, he grimaces
  at the city guards below, wishing he had some bricks or something)
roper:  (rather confused by recent events and the fact that it hasn't
  gotten to do anything yet, it looks over the edge of the bowl, right
  next to Charlie, and gnashes its huge pointed teeth)  Rrrrr.
Razor Charlie:  (watching the roper's tentacles wave randomly, he then
  grimaces at the monster, and moves to the other side of the makeshift
  chariot)



  Meanwhile, the other major group - comprised of Mongo, Skektek, Ys,
Elgon, and Jenna - was headed for the same destination, but from a
different direction.  Unlike Belphanior's team, this one didn't have
the benefit of aerial travel (except for Skektek) and consequently was
having a more difficult time of it.  Of course, "difficult" was quite
a relative term in this situation...

Mongo:  (hurls his hammer, taking out a squad of twenty city guards who
  were advancing behind raised shields and long spears)  Bah.
Ys:  (cuts down a charging guard coming from another direction)  This
  is most odd.
Elgon:  (nearly out of useful memorized spells, he now wields his small
  but sharp military pick)  What's that?
Ys:  Usually, I am not the one left to deal with survivors of the main
  attack.
Jenna:  At least your sword-arm's healed now.
Ys:  (gratefully)  True, and I thank you.
Elgon:  You're saying that Mongo's stealing your thunder?
Ys:  Mongo _is_ the thunder today.

  The dwarf had moved out in front of the group, and was clearing the
way with his enchanted warhammer.  Collapsed stonework, stray wagons,
foolish city guards - all were dealt with equally, and with the same
effectiveness:  they were smashed out of the way.  Mongo shouted and
cursed to himself in dwarven, completely ignoring the allies behind him
as he singlehandedly cleared a path to their goal.

Skektek:  (in the sky above, he fires a spell here or there, but mostly
  just watches Mongo's rampage and makes sure that there's nothing too
  dangerous ahead of those on the ground)



  Elsewhere, Belphanior and his team closed in on their destination...

Razor Charlie:  (winces as an arrow bounces off of the invisible barrier
  that surrounds the inverted dome of stone)
Alindyar:  (calmly watches as a second missile, and then a third, also
  get repelled by Lyra's defensive spell)
Otto:  (points to a nearby rooftop)  We've got archers at three o'clock!
Belphanior:  Got it.  (he completes his spell, launching a great bolt of
  lightning at the top of that tower)

  The rooftop, and those on it, ceased to exist, and the shockwave from
the lightning shattered the next two floors, raining rubble down onto
the street below.

Belphanior:  That's the only real resistance we've encountered for some
  time now...
Otto:  Well, think about it.  Our initial attacks took out the majority
  of the city's defenders, and now the ones who are left have to deal
  with the hordes of freed slaves in the streets.
Lyra:  (wonders suddenly if Belphanior freed the slaves for the sake of
  freeing them...or to cause further distraction to cover his own deeds)
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye, this has occurred to me as well.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  It's just a thought...a "what if?" sort of
  thought.
Belphanior:  (replying to Otto)  And optimum defensive effectiveness
  would be if every single guard and official did exactly what they
  were supposed to do in a crisis situation - rather than cutting and
  running to save themselves and their families.
Otto:  I'm not sure if, anywhere in Flanaess military history, anyone's
  ever used these tactics on a target of this size.
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  I guess we'll go down in history, then.
Alindyar:  (points to something ahead)  Armory, ho.

  As they neared the armory - which was a short, squat tower a hundred
feet tall and about sixty feet wide - they could see a number of golems
assembled in front of the building.  There were eight constructs in all
(six stone and two iron) which meant that every single one of them had
arrived from the missions at the temples and guardhouse.  The massive
armored forms were covered in dried blood, dust, and small bits of rock
and other debris.

Belphanior:  Golems...you've got to love them.
Otto:  They look like hell.
Belphanior:  I'd guess that those they fought are in much worse shape.
Alindyar:  (guides the animated stone dome down to the street level,
  then dissolves one side of it so that everyone can march out)

  Shortly, the adventurers had regrouped with the golems in front of
the armory tower.

Belphanior:  (looking around)  Where the hell are Skektek and Mongo?
  They should have been here by now.
Otto:  Maybe they got held up.  Should we back off until-
Belphanior:  (shaking his head angrily)  No.  I'd love to wait, or even
  to go and find them, but I want to hit this armory as soon as we can.
  Skektek and Mongo know the plan, and they are fully capable to joining
  us here when they are able.  The golems will provide the muscle if
  Mongo can't.
Lyra:  Muscle for what?  Why are we here again?
Belphanior:  Because this tower caps a gigantic underground vault, its
  walls lined with lead to stop magical entry.  It's the safest, best-
  protected location in Monmurg...and it's also the site of the city
  treasury.
Otto:  It doesn't look very protected...
Belphanior:  It won't matter.  (he grasps the golem-rod and addresses
  the constructs under his control)  Form a double row...you and you
  and you and you on this side, the rest over here...on either side of
  my companions and I...that's right...
Razor Charlie:  (gets out of the way of the golems as they slowly lumber
  into the directed formation)
Alindyar:  (working a spell)  'Tis just as well that Mongo is not here,
  since this magic would be absorbed by that rather interesting armor he
  wears.
Otto:  What magic is that?
Alindyar:  (glances at Belphanior)  Despite our best efforts, some of
  the foes who sight us today will doubtless survive.  I see no need
  to advertise our appearance, and perhaps identities, to any of those
  people.  Therefore, I am cloaking all of us - even the golems - with
  powerful illusions.
Belphanior:  What's that?
Alindyar:  As far as anyone who sees us is concerned, we are nothing
  more than a group of bandits.  (he eyes the golems)  And ogres.
Belphanior:  Good idea, though it wasn't in the plan.
Alindyar:  It is now.

  Eventually, the nine constructs and three summoned monsters had formed
a protective flank around the adventurers...



            m  h                 h = giant hornet (airborne)
        #          #             m = manticore (airborne)
        *   B  O   *             # = iron golem
        *   L  A   *             * = stone golem
        #    RC    *             B, O, L, A, RC = adventurers
           r      *              r = roper



...and they began their march to the armory.  The tower was set upon
an elevated platform which extended another 20' beyond the tower's 30'
radius, on all sides.  This platform was almost ten feet above the
level of the surrounding street, and the only easy entry point was on
the south side, where a series of wide steps led up to the tower's main
gate.  Naturally, in the time spent preparing to march on the armory,
defenders had swarmed out to take up positions; the entire ten-foot-high
platform was now manned by archers, who were backed up by guards.  The
large double doors in the south side of the tower's bottom now closed,
the unknown defenders within undoubtedly making their preparations in
case those outside failed to stop the attackers.

Belphanior:  (shouting to everyone in his team)  We need to re-align
  ourselves - bunched together like this, we're too easy a target!

  The elf gave some quick, simple directions, and the group split into
several smaller groups.  Belphanior took to the air so that he could
use his magic from above to get rid of archers and other defenders, both
on the raised platform and in the windows of the tower itself.  The nine
golems formed a double rank (five in the front, four in the back) and
headed straight for the tower's main double door.  The other adventurers
moved behind the golems, shielded by Alindyar's magic; these people
didn't have any real value in a mass battle against dozens of archers,
and simply needed to be protected until the tower and armory were
penetrated.  At that time their skills would most definitely come into
play.  The three monsters hung back at the rear fringe of Alindyar's
protective magic field, as commanded; Belphanior saw no point in wasting
them against a hail of sharp arrows.  He wanted them for the intense
close-quarters fighting that was undoubtedly coming up inside the tower.
  This change of ranks in the attack party didn't happen a moment too
soon, as a rain of arrows descended on the main group.  The barrage of
wooden shafts simply shattered against the golems' bodies, while those
missiles that would have hit Alindyar, Lyra, and the others bounced off
of her summoned barrier.

Otto:  That's some damn good magic.
Alindyar:  I could be contributing so much more-
Lyra:  Let Belphanior do his killing.  All we need to worry about is
  getting to that main door, and through it, safely.  Save your power
  for that time.
Alindyar:  Aye...
wispy thing:  (flying around near the golems, it watches with amusement
  as arrows fly all around its intangible form)  sprrp!
Jenna:  This is unreal.  (she stares, still amazed at the sheer number
  of arrows being fired in their direction)
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces as he stares at the archers arrayed against
  them to the right and left)

  Indeed, it seemed like someone had collected about a hundred highly-
skilled archers and stashed them in the tower for a situation like this.
To a man, they fired quickly, their aim true; they always had their next
arrow ready almost immediately.  The problem, of course, was that their
targets were protected from (or else immune to) their missiles.  An even
greater problem was that there was an airborne wizards with tremendous
destructive power in the sky above them.

Belphanior:  (takes out a large group of bowmen on one side of the ground
  group with a cone of cold)  Heh.  (he eyes several windows, from which
  more archers are firing arrows at him)

  The elf hovered in the air, watching with satisfaction as one arrow,
then another bounced off of his magical barrier against normal missiles.

Belphanior:  Hah.  (he suddenly grunts in pain, surprised, as an arrow
  lodges itself in his leg)  Dammit...someone down there has magical
  arrows.  (he takes a wand from his belt and points it at the nearest
  window, obliterating it and its archers in a hail of acidic spheres)

  Meanwhile, on the ground, the golems had reached the tower's double
door, and now obeyed the orders given to them by Belphanior.

iron golem #1:  (grabs one of the thick, steel-banded wooden doors, its
  fingers crushing the edge of the door)
iron golem #2:  (grabs the other door)

  Both of these portals were not only stronger than they looked, but
also bore magical protections...and also glyphs of warding.  One golem
was hit by a powerful electrical discharge; the other was bathed in a
burst of flames.  Both magical wards would have burned a dozen armored
men to a crisp, or beaten the defenses of all but the most powerful
wizards.  The golems, aside from being red-hot and steaming, survived
the blasts unharmed (indeed, the one hit by the fire-glyph was actually
_healed_ of the few minor nicks it had sustained in its earlier battles
today.)  As one, the two golems ripped the doors from their hinges and
tossed them aside.

Belphanior:  (having just used a fireball to dispatch several dozen more
  archers on the ground, he spots the golems' work below)  They're in.
  (he flies in that direction, descending)

  The red-cloaked elf swooped down to the ground, rejoining the others
outside the tower's main entrance.  Already, a dozen heavily-armored
warriors had surged out...and met Otto and Charlie's weapons as well as
Lyra's magic.

Belphanior:  (looks at the surrounding corpses, pleased)  Good work.
Lyra:  (gestures to the interior of the tower)  After you.
Belphanior:  Hardly.  (he turns to the roper, the manticore, and the
  giant hornet)  Your time has come.  Go ahead of our main party and
  scout.  You can fight and kill anyone you find.

  The three summoned monsters headed through the gaping entryway to
the tower, and were followed by the golems and the adventurers.



  Elsewhere, Parekh and the others watched these events via magical
means, from the safety of Parekh's home...

Parekh:  They're in.
Drak:  That tower would be a good place for an ambush.
Parekh:  Yes, but bear in mind that no one from the city _knew_ that
  today's attacks were coming, much less that Belphanior's final stop
  would be the armory.  He should be okay down there.
Pallin:  Unless the surviving defenders change tactics.
Parekh:  (frowns)
Neera:  Or unless the armory has powerful defenders we don't know about.
Pallin:  Also, remember that once Belphanior and the others descend into
  the depths of the armory, we may not be able to scry them and we most
  definitely will not be able to teleport to them, nor will they be able
  to teleport out.  (to Drak)  Not that we were going to teleport to them
  anyway, mind you.
Drak:  Hrmph.
Neera:  The metal lead...it has that teleportation-blocking property.
Pallin:  (nods gravely)
Parekh:  You really need to work on a spell that gets around that.
Pallin:  Millennia of research by sages and magi back me up:  it is not
  possible.
Neera:  "Impossible" is just a word they use for things that haven't
  ever been achieved.
Parekh:  Not unlike...oh...toppling an entire city, for example.

  They all turned their attention back to the gigantic crystal scrying
ball, which now depicted the last of the adventurers entering the armory
tower in Monmurg.





next:       what lies within the armory
gateways:   http://www.peldor.com/misc/gateways.php?chapter=908
ftp:        ftp.peldor.com
www:        http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:   http://www.peldor.com/
email:      tmiller@peldor.com
released:   2/24/06
notes:      Expect the battle portion of this arc to conclude with the
  next two episodes (909-910) and then the "lost continent" arc will go
  from episodes 911-91? after which I'll do some Belphanior/Monmurg
  wrap-up/aftermath episodes.
    On another note, not only is there new fanmail up at
         http://www.peldor.com/fanmail/
  the webmaster has built a discussion place on the site!  Check it out at
         http://www.peldor.com/noise/
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