Chapter #260

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

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1995 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:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Mongo        17th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+     Gorin     8th level dwarven warrior                     (CG)  +
+  Bosco        10th level halfling thief                      (N)  +
+                                                                   +
+  special guest stars:                                             +
+                                                                   +
+  Yod Ironbeard, dwarven hero and king                             +
+     Spikey, halfling warrior                                      +
+     Sparkey, halfling warrior (twin brother of Spikey)            +
+     100 of the finest dwarven warriors of Thunderdelve            +
+     six dwarven priests of Clangeddin, Moradin, et al.            +
+  Date:        2/10/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        mid-morning                                         +
+  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     +
+  Climate:     temperate, within the mountain                      +
+  "You don't look happy."                                          +
+  "It's been a long time since war made me happy."                 +
+              - Duncan MacLeod, from _Highlander_, the TV series   +

                    CCLX.  Assault on the Mines

  Having allied himself with Yod Ironbeard and a hand-picked dwarven
strike team, Mongo is searching the depths of Thunderdelve for a
legendary suit of armor.  The only problem is the orcish infestation
of the old dwarven mines...

Bosco:  (having fallen back to the head of the dwarven ranks, he is
  whispering to Yod and Mongo)  Barracks...right there behind that
  far door.  Maybe fifty or sixty orcs, mostly asleep or resting...
Yod:  (rubs his beard)  Hmm.
Mongo:  Come on, let's go for it!  We can take 'em!
Yod:  You think so, eh?
Bosco:  (nods)
Spikey:  (waiting in anticiaption)
Sparkey:  (prepares his hand axe and dagger)
Yod:  Very well, then.  A strike!  Mongo and I shall lead the way,
  backed up by Spikey, Sparkey, and Gorin.  The other warriors will
Gorin:  (hefts his battleaxe)  Now you're talkin'!
Yod:  (to Bosco)  Son, either get your plate mail on or get out of
  the way.  You'll never make it through this battle dressed like
Mongo:  (holds up Bosco's torso-armor, discarded earlier)
Bosco:  Hmph.  (he takes the armor, and steps to the side)  Hey,
  somebody help me get suited up.
Spikey:  (puts his sword back in its sheath and moves to help Bosco)
Sparkey:  (to Yod)  Hang on, this shouldn't take more than a minute.

  Shortly, everyone was ready; Yod and Mongo stood next to the iron
door, weapons in hand.  Behind them, the three halflings and Gorin
were poised to charge (well, Bosco wasn't exactly poised, but...)
and behind _them_ were the hundred dwarven warriors.

Mongo:  (hand on the door handle, he looks at Yod)
Yod:  (nods)  Let's do it.

  Mongo yanked the door open, pulling hard enough to snap it from
its hinges.  Tossing the bent piece of metal aside, he charged
into the barracks, yelling and cursing as he hurled his hammer
at a large group of orcs.

Yod:  (not having expected Mongo to lead the attack)  ...  (leaps
  into the room, chopping at the nearest orcs with his glittering
  battleaxe)  Orcs, hear me now!  The rightful masters of Thunder-
  delve have returned!  Prepare to DIE!
Gorin:  Right on!  (he charges forth, bowling over two orcs and
  decapitating a third)  Hah!
Spikey:  (he and Sparkey charge out, flanking Yod and protecting
  his back)  Here we go!  (he stabs a sleepy-eyed orc in the eye,
  slaying it)
Sparkey:  Battle is joined!  (he chops another orc, knocking it
  back, bleeding)

  Between the sudden and savage onslaught of Mongo and Yod, the
orcs were driven back, and a swath began to appear in their
numbers, much like a thick log split by a good axehead.  Now,
with the opening in place, the main force of dwarves charged into
the barracks, singing and chopping in furious anger.  The orcs,
most of them weaponless, all of them surprised, fell back rather
quickly, and soon the piles of dead and dying grew before the

Bosco:  (waddles into the room in his plate-mail shirt)  Ungh!
  (he swings his sword, but is off-balance, and misses)
orc:  (gaping in disbelief, it prepares to tackle the halfling)
dwarf#23:  (dispatches the humanoid with a single blow)  Better
  watch it there, sonny.
Bosco:  Uhh...right.  (struck by an idea, he gets a potion out,
  and guzzles it)

  Meanwhile, the carnage continued, as Mongo threw his enchanted
hammer, again and again.  With every throw, one or more orcs were
crushed, broken, or pulverized.  Yod's fury was equally terrible;
his axe sheared off orcish arms, legs, and heads at every turn.
The dwarven warriors, freshly enraged at the sight of the orcs
living in their mines, were both furious and effective.  And then
there was Bosco...

Bosco:  (tosses the empty potion bottle aside)  Here I am!
orc:  (looks at the halfling, mace at the ready)  So what?
Bosco:  I'll show you what!  (he charges forth, slashing)
orc:  (sheared in two, his pieces fall to either side)
Spikey:  Hey!
Sparkey:  What gives?
Bosco:  Giant strength, guys.  (he grabs an orc by the ankle and
  tosses it into another nearby orc)  You really should try it
Gorin:  Die with dishonor!  (he dispatches a spear-wielding orc,
  and advances further into the fray)

  However, the fray was just about done; within five minutes, the
barracks had been cleared, and more than five dozen orcs lay about,
slain.  There were no casualties among the dwarven warriors, though
a few had been wounded; the dwarven priests quickly tended to these.

Yod:  Quickly!  Cast those spells, bind those wounds, and raise
  those axes!  We must move onward, and fight while the fighting's
Mongo:  Agreed!  (they head for the far side of the barracks, Gorin
  and the rest behind them)  Onward!
Yod:  (kicks down the barracks door, all but flattening four orcs
  who were listening behind it)  Hah!
Mongo:  How'd you know?
Yod:  I can smell 'em.
Mongo:  (looks at him quizzically)
Yod:  Hah, just joking.  My axe here-  (pats the weapon's blade)
  -can find 'em, anywhere they might be hiding and skulking about.
Mongo:  (backhands a rising orc, felling it)  Oh.

  Gorin and the halflings made quick work of the other three orcs,
and a clear passage loomed before the group.

Bosco:  (flexing tiny muscles)  So this is what it's like to be a
Spikey:  I think he's got it.
Sparkey:  Without a doubt.

  The dwarves spilled into the passage behind the leaders, and the
entire force moved onward.

Mongo:  How do you know where to go?
Yod:  I've spent many moons studying the maps, planning attacks...
  I know these mines like the back of my hand.  (he indicates a
  side passage)  Duwain, take your squad, go down that way and
  secure the tiny storeroom beyond.
Duwain:  (one of the ten lieutenants)  Yessir!  (leads his nine-
  dwarf squad into the passage)
Yod:  (he continues down the main passage)
Gorin:  Like the back of your hand...

  They moved on, Yod periodically sending small squads of dwarves
into side tunnels or rooms, to clear them out.  Sometimes the main
force encountered orcs, usually in groups of about a dozen; these
defenders were no match for the raw power of Mongo and Yod.

Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at the center of one such orcish patrol)
orcs:  (scatter like tenpins)
Yod:  (hurls his axe at the closest orc)
orc:  (its head split like a pear, it falls)
Yod:  Got 'im!  (he catches his axe as it returns)
Mongo:  Nice weapon.  (he catches his hammer)
Yod:  Yours too.
Gorin:  Watch it!  They're closing!
orcs:  (four who remain, they move into melee range)
Gorin:  Fresh targets!  Come and get it!
orcs:  (spot the massed dwarves behind Yod et al)  Aaa!  (they turn
  and flee)
Yod:  (whistles, pointing at the running orcs)
Spikey:  (he and Sparkey dash after the humanoids, quickly catching
  up to them)
orcs:  (forced to turn and fight)  Get 'em!
Spikey:  Not bloody likely...(he ducks a sword-blow and stabs the
  attacker in the groin)
orc:  AIE!
Sparkey:  Ow, I bet that hurts!  (he catches a dagger blow with his
  hand axe, and kicks the orc in the shin)
orc:  OW!  (tries to leap back)
Sparkey:  (closes in for the kill, hand axe and dagger flashing)
Bosco:  (tackles another orc)  Get back here!
Gorin:  I'll help you!  (he steps on the fallen orc's neck, and
  deals it an ax-blow)
fourth orc:  (still running)
Mongo:  We can't let him warn the others...(he hurls Stormcrest,
  bringing the fleeing orc down)
Yod:  Well, I'm sure they already know we're coming.  But if we can
  keep moving at this speed, and we keep eliminating all who stand
  against us, we'll make progress, while knowing our backs are safe.
Mongo:  (realization dawns on him)'re re-taking these
  mines!  Bit by bit, tunnel by tunnel!
Yod:  Yup.  And we'll find that armor for you while we're at it.
Mongo:  Yeah...(wondering who's providing the favor for who here)

  Wasting no time, they moved deeper into the mines; Yod seemed to
have a specific destination in mind.

Yod:  There's a gigantic underground cavern this way.  I'm pretty
  sure that's where their main force will make a stand.
Gorin:  The main force that outnumbers us eight or nine to one?
Yod:  The same.  But don't worry, I've got a plan.
Mongo:  You'd better.  The-

  There was a grinding noise, and the tunnel walls to either side
of them collapsed, spraying the adventurers with rubble.  To each
side, a gigantic black-shelled form lumbered out, pincers snapping

Mongo:  Ambush!
Yod:  Umber hulks!  (to everyone)  Don't look into their eyes!
Spikey:  (goes down under the rain of rocks and dirt from one of
  the monsters)  Ack!
Sparkey:  (motions the dwarven warriors to stay back, since he
  knows they'll only get in the way, and are less experienced)
Mongo:  (falls back as one hulk nearly bowls him over, due to the
  element of surprise)  Argh!
Gorin:  (hacks at the foe's leg, scoring a shallow wound)  Yeah!
umber hulk#1:  GRRAAR!
Yod:  (leaps aside as the other umber hulk charges)
umber hulk#2:  (barrels right into its fellow)
Mongo:  Whoa!
Yod:  They may have surprise, but they can't move effectively in
  these cramped tunnels!  (he whirls, chopping savagely with his
umber hulk#2:  (reels, a huge gash in its belly)
umber hulk#1:  (kicks at Mongo, knocking him down as he tries to
  regain his footing)  GRRRR!
Mongo:  Argh!
Spikey:  (trying to get himself out from under a large piece of
  rubble)  I'm trapped!
Sparkey:  Ungh!  (unable to lift the rock and free his brother)
  It's no use!
Bosco:  Sure it is.  (he lifts the rock with one hand)  See there,
  nothing to it!  (he hurls the big chunk of rock at the umber hulk
  which is fighting Yod, conking it on the head)
Spikey:  (free at last)  Ahhh.
Sparkey:  (pulls Spikey out)  You okay?
Spikey:  Yeah, just a little bruised.  (he points at Yod and the
  second umber hulk)  C'mon, we've got a fight to join!
Bosco:  Yeah, me too!  (he charges toward Mongo and his foe, his
  shortsword raised)  Aaaaaaaaa!
umber hulk#1:  (totally ignores the onrushing halfling as it pounds
  on Mongo)  GRRRRRKK!
Mongo:  Urgh!  Argh!  (he finally brings his shield to bear, and
  lashes out with his hammer)  Get the hell off of me!
umber hulk#1:  (knocked back and down)  GRAARGH!
Bosco:  (leaps up, landing sword-first on the monster's head)
umber hulk#1:  (pierced through the brain, it perishes, twitching
  and bleeding)
Mongo:  Good move, Bosco!
Bosco:  (beaming as he twists and turns his sword, which is still
  buried in the corpse's face)  Thanks!
umber hulk#2:  (reeling under the combined assault of Yod, Gorin,
  and the twin halflings, it decides to flee, and makes for the
  gaping hole it tunneled in through)  RRRR...
Yod:  Oh, no you don't!  (he hurls his axe across the ten-foot span
  and buries the weapon in the back of the creature's neck)
umber hulk#2:  (falls to its knees, its limbs spasming)  GRAAARGH!
Gorin:  (chops the foe in the face)  Die!
Spikey:  (joins in, sword flashing)  Don't let it get away, or it'll
  dig a million more tunnels!
Sparkey:  It's not going anywhere.  We'll finish the job!

  Shortly, the other umber hulk was but a bloody carcass, and the
dwarven priests tended to Yod, Mongo, and Spikey.

Mongo:  I'm find, leave me alone.  Heal Spikey there if you must.
dwarven priest:  But-
Mongo:  No buts, I'm fine.
Spikey:  (rubbing his bruised ribs)  There.  And there.
other dwarven priest:  Yeah, you'll live.
Yod:  (barely wounded himself)  It's just a few scratches.
dwarven priest:  But you're the king.  Now hold still; we have to
  make sure you're okay.
Yod:  Well, I am, and you have.  (he stands up, surveying the two
  new tunnels that the umber hulks dug to get here)  Shit.
Mongo:  I know.  Now our map's missing two critical passages, that
  might be used to surround us later.
Bosco:  (somewhat eager to explore the new tunnels, he eyes them
  with interest)  What can we do?
Yod:  We've got the strength to collapse those tunnels...but not
  the tools.  We don't usually carry picks and hammers into battle.
Mongo:  (thinking fast)  Well...(he opens his portable hole)  Now that it?  Nope...or maybe...aha!  (he holds aloft his
  metallic horn)
Yod:  What the hell's that thing?
Mongo:  The horn of siege.  It can lay waste to entire armies.
  (frowning)  Hmm, that's no good.  It makes earthquakes happen
  if winded underground.  What was I thinking?  Shit.
Yod:  Double shit.
Gorin:  I've got an idea.
Yod:  Eh?
Gorin:  Your dwarves here are all capable miners, right?
Yod:  Yeah.
Gorin:  Well, put five or so to work collapsing each tunnel, while
  the main force moves on.  It's the same idea as having them check
  the side routes, like you did earlier.
Yod:  With what tools?
Gorin:  The orcs gotta have some tools here somewhere.  How about
  some of the storerooms we've passed?
Duwain:  Sir, he's right.  We saw some a little ways back.
Yod:  (wondering why he didn't think of this)  Hmm...yes.  Yes!
  An excellent idea!  (he quickly assigns these duties)
Mongo:  We'd better get a move on.  More orcs could show up at any
Yod:  Right.  Bosco?
Bosco:  (stands at attention, saluting smartly)  Right here!
Yod:  Can you move ahead and see if an orcish army awaits us?
Bosco:  You betcha!  (he dashes off, easily supporting the weight
  of his plate mail shirt thanks to the potion that he drank)
Yod:  What a guy.
Mongo:  You're telling me...

  They quickly moved out, barely a hundred strong now since ten
of the more experienced dwarves were busy collapsing the umber
hulk tunnels.  After three more side tunnels, two storerooms,
and two orc barracks, Yod seemed sure that a great battle was
at hand, and he explained as they marched onward, weapons at
the ready.

Yod:  Straight that way!  (pointing into the wide passage where
  Bosco just disappeared)  A huge cavern, the great hall of that
  scum Grimthaard, if I know him.
Gorin:  Hmm, _do_ you know him?
Yod:  Of course.  He and I go way back.  I killed his father.
Mongo:  Really?  When?  I don't have to ask why, of course.
Yod:  Heh.  His pop, a crafty old devil known as Gerzog, was the
  leader of the orcs who were here before Feuerhauch.  I think
  they were all slaves to the wyrm, but after we killed that over-
  grown salamander, the orcs got uppity.
Mongo:  Little bastards.
Yod:  Yeah.  So anyway, Gerzog commanded about a thousand orcs,
  and we fought him on and off for two years.  Finally, we were
  able to trick him into meeting us with his whole force, to our
  whole force.
Gorin:  I don't understand.
Yod:  See, Gerzog's strength came from his heavy use of guerilla
  warfare, hit-and-run raids, that sort of thing.  We had the might
  to beat him face-to-face, but it just took us two years to meet
  his forces in such a way.
Gorin:  Ah.
Yod:  But, boy, when we did...what a battle!  In the end, I clove
  his rotten little head in two myself.  And now his escaped runt
  of a son thinks he's gonna hold our mines?!?  No damn way!
Mongo:  Speaking of which...

  Before them was an opening into a huge cavern, whose length and
breadth spanned hundreds of feet.  Giant stalactites and stalagmites
were scattered across the cavern's ceiling and floor.  The floor was
perhaps thirty feet below the opening they stood in; a natural ramp
of stone led down into the cavern.  To one side of the cavern was an
underground river, its dark waters bubbling merrily.  However, all
of this was quite secondary, for the far half of the gigantic under-
ground space was filled with excited orcs, armed and armored to the

orcs:  (watching the lead force from afar, pointing and yelling)
Spikey:  Ack!
Sparkey:  There must be a thousand of them...
Yod:  (utterly ignoring the mass quantities of foes)  Damn!  Where
  in the nine hells'd they get all those weapons and armor?
Mongo:  Who knows?
Yod:  (holds up a hand to stop the dwarven force behind him)  We
  need to think about this situation.
Gorin:  What we need is a wizard.  (thinking fondly of Belphanior,
  he smiles)  Just one...
Mongo:  Nonsense!  Thunderdelve can be reclaimed by blood and steel
  alone, no more, no less!  (to Yod)  We've got to-

  A deep, dangerous-sounding rumbling from above drowned out Mongo's
words, and small rocks and dirt began falling on the lead group.

Yod:  I KNEW the rock felt bad!  Everyone back, now!!!  (he dashes
  back, sweeping everyone along with him)  Move!

  The opening to the huge cavern collapsed then, in a rain of rubble
and dirt; within moments, the passageway was totally blocked, from
floor to ceiling.  The tunnel was so thick with dust that the dwarves
in back couldn't see anything; when the dust finally cleared, Yod and
the others were nowhere to be seen!

dwarven lieutenant:  Quick!  Start digging, they're under all this
other dwarves:  (drop their weapons and hasten to obey)

  There was movement from one area of the rubble, and the rocks and
debris shifted, rising...until they were shaken off, revealing the
dusty, dirty, but very much alive form of Yod.

Yod:  (having shielded Spikey and Sparkey from falling rocks, he
  grunts and groans)  Damn...more new bruises...
Mongo:  (appearing in exactly the same fashion, it appears that he
  protected Gorin)  Whew, must've been a trap.
Yod:  Damn straight.  I sensed something wrong with that tunnel...
  the rock didn't seem right.
Mongo:  Yeah, I kinda got a feeling myself.  (looks around)  Hey,
  where's Bosco?
Gorin:  I don't see him.
Yod:  I thought he was with you.
Spikey:  (sneezes)  Aaa-choo!
Sparkey:  (trying to wipe dust from his eyes)  And to think I just
  had a bath.
Gorin:  Bosco must've gotten buried in the cave-in.
Mongo:  Oh, shit.  (tossing aside large rocks)  Bosco!
Yod:  (ditto)  Bos-co!
Spikey:  Bosco?
Sparkey:  Bosco!

  As the calls for Bosco echoed through the passage, repeating the
name countless times, a small form emerged from the shadows nearby.

Bosco:  You called?
Mongo:  Bosco!  You're alive!
Bosco:  Of course I'm alive!  You didn't think one of my skill and
  speed would get caught in a little rockslide like that, now did
Yod:  Buried, my ass.  Hah!
Bosco:  (looking around)  Hey, what do we do _now_?
Mongo:  Good question.
Yod:  Damn orcs probably figured they could buy some time and better
  prepare their defenses if they buried us.  Hell, at the very least,
  they've gained a few hours to get ready.
Mongo:  If not a day!  Our surprise attack is ruined!  What now?
Yod:  Fear not.  I didn't come this far to get stopped by this little
  stunt.  I've got an ace in my deck.
Bosco:  Most decks have four-
Yod:  Well, I've got an extra one.

next:   battle supreme!
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  Well, after a hunt that spanned nearly three months, and a
  security deposit, a thirty-day notice, a truck reservation, and
  numerous phone calls, I've realized that I can't move in August
  as planned.  This is due to the place we were going to move into
  not having the right apartment available in time; we were actually
  supposed to move July 1.  It's actually a relief, 'cause I hate
  moving with a passion.  In fact, the only things I hate more are
  insects and needles.
    Storywriting should be picking up soon, and I've got a surprise
  coming up, one that I think all of you readers will like an awful

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