Chapter #141

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                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1993 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                        +
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      15th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       12th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior    12th/13th/13th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           13th/13th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold     11th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+        ?             grey cat (familiar)             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         15th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint      11th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        15th level human warrior              (N)   +
+                                                             +
+   WITH SPECIAL GUEST STARS:                                 +
+                                                             +
+   Belphanior-2  15th level elven ranger              (LN)   +
+      Sparky          extremely large wolf             (N)   +
+   Peldor-2      18th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen-2      13th level human ninja                (N)   +
+   Date:    several days after arrival                       +
+   Time:    midday                                           +
+   Place:   the fortress of the evil Ged, in an alternate    +
+              dimension                                      +
+   Climate: warm indoors, cold outside                       +
+   "When ye be an anvil, hold ye still.  When ye be a        +
+    hammer, strike!"                                         +
+                    Jock Yablonski, from _Act of Vengeance_  +

                  CXLI.  Reunited

  The half of the party which included Ged, Rillen, and
both Belphaniors had just defeated a squad of fire giants,
was about to open a door that was rather hot to the touch.

Rillen:  Careful.
Belphanior:  Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.  After
  all, I'm a professional.
Belphanior-2:  (frowns in doubt)
fire giant zombie:  (following Belphanior's every move, it
  lumbers along behind him)  Guh.
Sparky:  (snarls at the undead)
Ged:  (still feebleminded, he is led along by his henchman
Arnold:  Id'll be okay.
Belphanior:  (yanks the door handle, and the door opens,
  revealing a huge, cylindrical chamber)  Whoa, what's in

  The room extended for hundreds of feet both upward and
downward, and a series of catwalks led to a metallic pipe-
like structure in the center of the cylinder.  Other pipes
branched out from the central one, these being much smaller
in size.  A few hundred feet beneath the group's current
altitude, fiery lava formed a huge pool.  The heat in the
chamber was tremendous.
  Far above, a number of figures could be seen, vaguely,
running about on corresponding catwalks up there.

Belphanior-2:  This place is odd...unnatural.
Arnold:  Yah, undantural.
Rillen:  Look!  (he points upward)

  A crimson form was falling from above, and it whizzed by
the adventurers as it headed for a rendevous with the lava
below.  Mere moments afterward, another body fell from the
platform far above.

Belphanior:  There's a battle going on up there!
Belphanior-2:  It can only be our companions...
Rillen:  Here comes something else.

  They watched as a large, black mass fell.  The thing was
shaped like a sphere, and as it sailed past the adventurers,
screaming could be heard from within.  Upon hitting the lava
below, the entire dark sphere vanished in a burst of flame.

Arnold:  Whad the hell's going on?  (he scratches his head)
Ged:  (drools onto the catwalk floor)
fire giant zombie:  (drools onto Ged)  Uhk.
Belphanior:  Maybe we should make our way up there - it
  couldn't be more than a few hundred feet, and we did see
  some stairs back there a ways...
Belphanior-2:  I agree.  If the alarm's not out on us by
  now, it soon will be.

  They went back into the stairway, and headed upward.  A
few flights of stairs later, they heard a commotion from
a slightly ajar door that opened into the stairway.

Belphanior:  Hang on.  (he peeks through the doorway)

  In a wide hallway beyond, a group of armored giants was
charging by, headed for some nearby place, no doubt.  They
were yelling something about intruders and death, and went
right by the door, never seeing Belphanior or the others.

Belphanior:  Did you hear that?  There's going to be a big
  battle, probably with the others!  Unless someone _else_
  has decided to invade this place at the same time...
Belphanior-2:  Not likely.
Rillen:  We have to go help them.
Belphanior:  Yeah!  Imagine how surprised they'll be!
Belphanior-2:  Imagine how surprised the giants will be!
Arnold:  Yah!  Ah-nold sdands ready!
Rillen:  Let us have at it, then.

  They dashed into the hallway, and set off in the direction
that the giants had gone.  Moments later, however, the same
giants came around a corner ahead, running toward the party
at a rapid clip.

giants:  (screech to a halt, eyeing the party with utter
  amazement)  Huh?
Belphanior-2:  (also comes to a halt, and looks around)
Belphanior:  (notices from the giants' blue skins that they
  are fire giants...six of them)
fire giant leader:  MORE intruders?!?  Bah!  We get more
  troops soon...(to his soldiers)  KILL DEM!
Belphanior:  Gee, pleased to meet you, too...

  Just then, a trio of savage, bearded man-beasts appeared
at the other end of the hall, led by a seventh fire giant.
The things had what looked like pincushions for tails, and
large wings (useless in this low hall) adorned their broad

seventh fire giant:  (to his manticores)  Shoot 'em!
manticores:  (they send a barrage of deadly tail spikes
  toward the party)
adventurers:  (all of them get hit a couple of times)
Rillen:  (catches most of the spikes that come his way)
fire giant zombie:  (too slow to dodge, it does the same
  as Rillen, after a fashion, taking a dozen spikes in
  its body)  Guk.
Sparky:  (dances in pain as a spike buries itself in his
  haunch)  Yelp!
Rillen:  (pulls Ged behind the fire giant zombie, who has
  become rather good cover from the manticore spikes)
Belphanior:  Shit!  We'll never get any spells cast in
  these conditions!
Belphanior-2:  What's the point?!?  He-  (points to Ged)
  - isn't any good to us anyway!
Rillen:  (debating numerous and varied courses of action)
  We are definitely outnumbered here.
Arnold:  (acting on his own initiative, he charges the
  fire giants)  Ah-nold!
Belphanior:  Hey!  (his eyes light up, and he begins
  digging through his pack, using the fire giant zombie
  as a shield)
Rillen:  Uh-oh.  What are you doing?
Belphanior-2:  (preparing to attack the manticores)  We're
  trapped here!  Whatever you're doing, do it fast!
Sparky:  (prepares to charge with his master)
Belphanior:  (hefting his ebony trumpet, he leers madly)
Rillen:  What is that?
Belphanior:  The trumpet of doom!  (he winds the thing)

  All combatants, even the giants, even the manticores,
paused as a hazy black smoke billowed forth from the item,
filling parts of the room with a chilly fog.  A moment
later, figures appeared in the fog!  A dozen skeletons
charged forth, swords in their bony hands.  Nearby, a pack
of ghouls slithered forth, chewing their dirty lips with
glee.  A mummy waddled from the fog, too, its bandaged
body smelling of rot and decay.  Gibbering and grunting,
a trio of wights scampered out of the mists, looking at
the different beings in the room.  The mists vanished,
though the undead remained.

Belphanior:  (grinning in triumph)  It works!
Rillen:  (frowning in horror)  By the gods...
Belphanior-2:  Undead!
Sparky:  (snarls in anger)
Arnold:  (poised to hack a manticore, he trembles)  Aaa?
Ged:  (grins moronically)  Duhhhh.
Lightbringer:  (practically forgotten in recent hours, it
  begins shouting in its shrill voice)  Undead!  Undead!
  Someone slay them!
Ged:  (feebleminded, of course, he fails to comply)
fire giant zombie:  Gnk.  (surveys the situation mindlessly)
fire giants:  (somewhat confused, they pause in their
manticores:  (regard the undead, and the party)  Grr?
skeletons:  (charge the manticores, clicking as they run
ghouls:  (ignoring the elves, they go for Rillen, who is
  standing by himself)  Snarl!  Growl!
Rillen:  Uh-oh.
wights:  (making their way toward the Belphaniors)  Life
Belphanior-2:  You CAN'T CONTROL them?!?!?
Belphanior:  Why, of course not!  As my old pal Peyote
  used to say, "desperate situation!"
Belphanior-2:  You're crazy!  We're worse off now than
Belphanior:  We are?
mummy:  (lumbers toward the witless Ged)
Belphanior:  Hmm, maybe we are...

  Right at that moment, there was a thundering crash from
the direction that the giants had just returned from, and
several huge giants flew into the hall, charred and still
sizzling from some great force.

charred fire giants:  (lying on the floor, groaning in pain)
fire giants:  (some of them turn around)  Uh-oh.
fire giant leader:  Now WE is surrounded!
Flint:  (charges around a corner and stops, about thirty
  feet from the giants)  Hey!
Rillen-2:  (glides up next to Flint)  The others?  Already?
Mongo:  (dashes around the corner, and stops cold)  It's
  the others!  (he jumps up and down excitedly)  We found
  'em!  (he charges, his warhammer noticeably absent)
Peldor:  (appears)  So we did.
Peldor-2:  (appears also)  Yep.  It's them, all right.  And
  in a heap of trouble, as might be expected.
Peldor:  Ripe for rescue by the Peldors.
Alindyar:  (appears, and fires another lightning bolt from
  his staff, over the heads of Mongo and Flint, knocking
  several of the fire giants down with a loud crack)  Most
Lyra:  The cavalry has arrived!

  Flint and Mongo barreled their way past the giants and
joined the Belphaniors and Rillen.  The hallway was now a
chaotic mix of adventurers, giants, manticores, and undead.

wights:  (closing in fast)  Life force...
ghouls:  (also moving in)  Brains!  (they see the rest of
  the adventurers arrive)  MORE brains!
Rillen:  Ugh.
Mongo:  What's going on here?
Flint:  Yeah, what?
Belphanior:  Well, what are you waiting for?  Smash 'em to
  mush with your hammer!
Flint:  (simultaneously)  What's wrong with Ged?  Why isn't
  he casting a spell?
Mongo:  (to Belphanior)  Uhh...
Belphanior:  (to Flint)  Uhh...
Ged:  (walks right toward the mummy, opening his arms to
  embrace it)  Uhh...
Lightbringer:  NO!

next time :  total - and I mean TOTAL - carnage ensues

notes     :  This is getting interesting, if I do say so

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