Chapter #167

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

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 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:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           14th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       6th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       7th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    10/9/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    shortly before noon                              +
+   Place:   an ancient tomb within the Vast Swamp            +
+   Climate: slightly chilly, inside the tomb                 +
+   "Snakes?  I _hate_ snakes!"                               +
+                                       - Indiana Jones       +

               CLXVII.  Deeper Into the Tomb

  The adventurers have made good headway in the exploration
of the ancient tomb, and are now within a hallway painted
with various creatures, all holding colored spheres.

Belphanior:  (scans the hall, his eye glowing)  Hmm.
Rillen:  (pokes a few of the spheres with his staff)  They
  _are_ two-dimensional.
Ged:  I betcha the big black one back in that other hall was
Mongo:  Yeah...
Peldor:  (looks back at the way they all entered this hall)
  Hey!  We came _in_ through a sphere!

  Sure enough, the "door" they had entered through was just
another sphere, a silvery one held at the feet of some half-
man, half-ape.  These paintings were quite realistic...

Bosco:  (looks at the thing)  Hmph.  (sticks his tongue out
  at it)

  They examined the other spheres, carefully, and found
several interesting things.  A couple of the spheres hid
round doors...

Belphanior:  (opens one of the hidden doors)  Hey, it's a
  false door!  (a spear shoots out, and nicks his chest)
Rillen:  (kicks the spear aside as it whizzes by)
Ged:  Enough.  (he casts a healing spell upon Belphanior)
Belphanior:  Thanks...(he resolves to remember to scan
  any new discoveries in this dungeon carefully)  Geez, I
  need to pay attention to what I'm doing...

  Thus, the other trapped false door was safely avoided,
and the party was able to concentrate upon some of the
other spheres.  Most were merely paintings, but three
turned out to be illusions, beyond which were crudely
worked, roughly-hewn crawlways.

Belphanior:  (his eye glowing)  Which one shall we take?
Peldor:  The gold sphere?
Ged:  Or the black...?
Rillen:  Or the red?
Mongo:  Red, definitely.
Arnold:  Yah.
Belphanior:  Think so?  (he climbs into the narrow tunnel)
  Let's go, then.
Mongo:  Maybe I should go first, eh?
Peldor:  Or Bosco.
Bosco:  Me?!?
Peldor:  Well, you _are_ best suited to explore tunnels
  like these...
Belphanior:  Nah, I'm okay.

  Of course, the crawlway was so narrow that only a single
person could abreast through it.  Belphanior led the way,
followed by Mongo, then Ged.  Rillen and Arnold realized
that they would actually have trouble moving through these
passages, such was their size; they decided to wait until
all the others had gone through, before they went.  However,
by the time Gorin was ready to crawl in after Ged, those
in the front had already found a small room...

Belphanior:  (pushes aside a secret door at the end of the
  crawlway)  Aha.  (he falls ten feet to a stone floor below)
Mongo:  (still in the tunnel)  What happened?
Belphanior:  Nothing...just be careful.

  Standing up, the elf examined this new chamber.  It was a
square, thirty-by-thirty foot room, and three chests rested
in its center.  One was of gold, another of silver, and the
third of oak, with bronze bands.  All three were the same
size, about four feet by two feet, and three in height.

Belphanior:  Now _this_ is more like it...
Mongo:  (his head appears in the tunnel)  What's in here?
  Oh, careful.  (he begins trying to get down
  without falling)
Belphanior:  Right.  (scanning the gold chest for any traps,
  he senses none)  Okay, let's see what's in chest #1...

  The elf opened the chest, and was greeted by a swarm of
large asps!  The snakes slithered out of the chest, biting
at the elf.

Belphanior:  Aie!  (he recoils, slashing madly)
asp#1:  (sliced in half, it dies)  sss...
asp#2:  (snaps at Belphanior, but misses)  Sss!
asp#3:  (bites the elf in the leg)  Sss!
asp#4:  (bites the elf in the other leg)  Sss!
asp#5:  (misses its target, as Belphanior kicks about wildly)
asp#6:  (bites the elf in the thigh)  Sss!
Mongo:  (sees what's happening, and leaps down into the room)
asp#7:  (crushed by the dwarf's landing, it dies)  sss...
asp#8:  (slithers toward Mongo)  Sss.
asps#9, 10, 11, 12:  (likewise)  Sss.
Mongo:  Holy shit!

  Meanwhile, Peldor and Bosco, bored as they stood in the
large hallway with Rillen and Arnold, were back at the north
(entry) end of the hall, exploring another of the illusion-
covered tunnels, the one masked by the golden sphere.

Rillen:  Where do _they_ think they're going?
Arnold:  Aaa.  I don't know.
Rillen:  Say, I hear yelling from that passage...(he points
  to the tunnel which Belphanior et al went through)

  In the narrow crawlway...

Bosco:  Are you sure this is such a good idea?
Peldor:  (in the lead)  Oh, come now.  Where's your sense of
Bosco:  Perfectly intact, thanks.  It's just that-
Peldor:  When with a Peldor, do as the Peldors do.

  The pair of thieves, senior and henchman, wriggled their
way through a short twisting passage, and emerged into a
small room.  On the floor within lay a broken statue, fully
eight feet tall, of a four-armed gargoyle.

Peldor:  Now wait a minute...
Bosco:  (notices that one of the thing's arms lies nearby,
  broken off)  Hey, look at that...(he picks up the stone
  limb)  Aha!
Peldor:  Well, see if it fits!
Bosco:  (complies)  Yep, it's forearmed.  But it won't stay
  on.  (he lets go of the fourth arm, and it falls off)
Peldor:  Hmm, I see what you mean.  I wonder if this statue
  has anything to do with the gargoyle we fought earlier...
Bosco:  (searching the small chamber for secret doors)
Peldor:  (joins his henchman, but they find nothing)

  Meanwhile, back in the chest room...

Belphanior:  (still alive, despite three poisonous snake
  bites, he slashes at another asp)
asp#2:  (decapitated, dies)  sss...
asp#3:  (bites at the elf, but misses)  Sss!
asp#4:  (bites Belphanior in the leg, again)  Sss!
Belphanior:  Argh!  (he begins to stagger)
asp#5:  (latches onto the elf's back)  Sss!
asp#6:  (bites at Belphanior, but only hits one of his
  gauntlets, and chips a fang)  Sss!
Ged:  (now in the tunel mouth, above the other two and the
  snakes)  Boccob!  (he hastily begins spellcasting)
Mongo:  Fuckin' snakes!  (he bashes an asp)
asp#8:  (squashed, dies)  <sppplt>
asp#9:  (bites at the dwarf, but can't get through his
  armor)  Sss!
asp#10:  (lashes out at Mongo, but gets batted away by his
  shield)  Sss!
asp#11:  (bites Mongo in the neck)  Sss!
Mongo:  Eyagh!  (he whirls, and grabs the snake, crushing
  it in his fist)  It bit me!  (his powerful constitution
  resists the poison, though he staggers)  Agh...
asp#11: (dies, mangled)
asp#12:  (misses with its bite)
Ged:  Never thought I'd need this spell...much less its
  reverse...(casts Snakes to Sticks)
asps:  (all instantly change into sticks)
Belphanior:  (fallen, he clutches weakly at the air)  Aie...
Mongo:  Quick!  The fool's been poisoned!  (he himself reels
  a bit)
Ged:  (leaps down, despite the lengthy fall)  So he is!  (he
  begins casting another spell)
Mongo:  (tries squeezing the poison out of the elf's wounds)
Ged:  Yea, I am!
Belphanior:  (gasps weakly)
Ged:  (casts Neutralize Poison on the elf)
Belphanior:  Aaaahhhh...(he sits up, weakly)  Thanks.
Ged:  Better that than having to raise you from the dead.
Mongo:  Really.
Belphanior:  (staggers to his feet)  The treasure!
Gorin:  (having appeared in the tunnel mouth, above the
  others)  What's going on?!?  The others out in the hall
  are worried!
Mongo:  It's all okay now.  Tell them we're fine, and we'll
  be up in a minute or two.
Gorin:  Uh...okay.  (he backs down the passageway)

  The golden chest was, alas, empty.

Belphanior:  Now if that doesn't just take the cake...
Ged:  Calm down.
Belphanior:  (eyeing the silver chest)
Mongo:  Be more careful this time, okay?
Belphanior:  I promise.  (he sees that no obvious traps are
  present on this second chest)  "Obvious" is the operative
  term here...
Mongo:  What's he talking about?
Ged:  (shrugs)  I couldn't claim to know.

  Within this second chest was a small crystal box, nothing
more, nothing less.

Belphanior:  Whoa.  (he carefully opens the box, and then
  removes a golden ring from it)  Now _this_ is magical.
Ged:  Oh.
Belphanior:  The crystal box isn't, though, and it also has
  a trap.  I don't think we need to take it, though - it
  can't be worth more than a few hundred gold pieces...
Mongo:  Small change for us, eh?
Belphanior:  Yup.  (he turns to the third chest)

  The elf detected no traps on the third chest, though it
did radiate a magical aura.

Belphanior:  Here goes...
Ged:  (backs up a bit)
Mongo:  (likewise)

  Belphanior opened the chest, and saw that it was empty.
This condition didn't last, though, for a giant skeleton
suddenly appeared inside the container!

Belphanior:  What the-
giant skeleton:  (leaps out and slashes at the elf with
  two scimitars)
Belphanior:  (dodges one weapon, and takes the brunt of the
  other blow upon a gauntlet)  Ouch!
Mongo:  Holy shit!  (he raises his hammer)
Lightbringer:  Undead!
Ged:  For Boccob!  (he sidesteps Mongo and brings his holy
  weapon crashing down onto the skeleton's head)  Yea!
Lightbringer:  Begone, foul undead!
giant skeleton:  (dissolves with a bright flash of light)
Mongo:  Whoa.
Belphanior:  Double whoa.
Lightbringer:  Ah, another undead banished forever...
Ged:  I hope you're happy now.
Lightbringer:  For the moment.
Belphanior:  Aww...
Mongo:  What?
Belphanior:  (looking inside the empty chest)  Empty!  It

  The trio found nothing else of interest in this chamber,
and with the help of Gorin and a rope, they climbed back up
into the narrow crawlway, and were soon in the large hall
with the others.

Peldor:  Have no fear, us other brave thieves weren't idle.
Ged:  Well, _that's_ a change.
Bosco:  We explored that passageway to the north, but there
  was nothing inside but a big statue.
Mongo:  Suuuure.
Peldor:  Hey, we never lie!
Rillen:  I hate to say it, but they weren't gone for very
wispy thing:  (floating upside-down over Belphanior)  pffft.

  The adventurers decided to explore the passageway masked
by the black sphere-illusion next.  First, however, they
took a break for lunch and rest, since all were hungry and
some were wounded.

next time :  even stranger stuff is found

ftp site  : in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  Episodes 166 and this one have been written
           while I've been sick with the flu...that's what
           I get for going around bragging about how it had
           been fifteen months since I had even a cold...
             Okay, if you haven't figured it out yet, the
           party is in the Tomb of Horrors.

             IMPORTANT NOTE:  From this day forward, all of
           you readers need to be aware that I still do post
           these stories every 2-3 days.  If you're suffering
           from drought, it's probably because there's been
           some kind of delay in posting, on someone else's
           part.  If you get to wondering, check the ftp site
           for stories - I put them there at least 2 times a
           week.  Again, they ARE BEING WRITTEN at the same
           rate as they always have been.

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