Chapter #410

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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 1991-6 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 Company of Nine (unwanted guests):                           +
+                                                                   +
+  Abner          5th level human magic-user                   (LN) +
+  Aggro the Axe  4th level human fighter                      (CG) +
+  Arkayn         4th level human cleric                       (LG) +
+  Arlanni        2nd level human female thief                  (N) +
+  Balto          1st level human monk                         (LN) +
+  Barjin         4th/5th level half-elven fighter/magic-user   (N) +
+  Gutboy Barrelhouse  5th level dwarven fighter               (CN) +
+  Blastum        4th level human magic-user                   (CN) +
+  Sarnath        5th level human magic-user                   (NE) +
+  Date:        4/9/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       Helgate, deep within the Yatil Mountains            +
+  Climate:     chilly w/light drizzling rain                       +
+  "They're my problem now, and I'm theirs.  Their world is about   +
+   to become a very dark place."                                   +
+                                               - _The Specialist_  +

                    CDX.  Into The Dark Castle

  The Company of Nine has just made a fateful decision...

Gutboy:  Right!  Who's to be turned away by such wimpy words?  I say
  we move on - go in!
Abner:  Yes...but we'd better be on our toes.
Barjin:  Wait...maybe going in the front door isn't such a good idea.
Abner:  Well, what else would you suggest?
Barjin:  Er...uh...maybe climbing in?
Blastum:  (irritated)  How?
Arlanni:  Hmm.
Balto:  You could climb to the very top of one of the towers, and
  then lower a rope for the rest.
Barjin:  Yes, that would do it.
Blastum:  I can't climb a rope!
Gutboy:  Quit yer whining.  We'll tie you off and pull you up, if
  we have to.
Arkayn:  We won't be invisible, of course...
Abner:  We wouldn't have been anyway.
Barjin:  (matter-of-factly)  Too late to worry about that now.
Arlanni:  You know, this whole problem could be solved if we had just
  waited until dark.
Barjin:  We still could.
Gutboy:  (shaking his head)
Aggro:  Wait?!?  I want to go in now!
Sarnath:  Quiet, you idiot.
Aggro:  Hey, who're you calling an idiot?
Abner:  That's enough of that.
Blastum:  Maybe we could hit the castle from outside...draw the warlock
Arlanni:  Nighttime!
Arkayn:  I really wouldn't prefer to do this at night.  We'll be
  tired, and the-
Gutboy:  More cowardly whining!  Let's do whatever the hell it takes
  to get inside, no more arguing!
Abner:  A vote, then.  All those in favor of waiting until darkness

  Arlanni, Arkayn, Barjin, and Balto voted for this, while everyone
else voted to go in right now.

Abner:  It's settled, then.
Barjin:  (shaking his head)

  With that, they moved into the castle's inner sanctum, passing
through the double doors into a twenty-foot square antechamber.  At
its end were another pair of double doors, identical to the first.
On the inside edge of the outer door could be seen a portcullis,
raised almost into the ceiling.  A gigantic statue of a thickly-built,
nearly featureless man stood to one side, its arms folded.

Balto:  An odd statue.
Gutboy:  Looks to me like it's made of metal.
Sarnath:  (examining the huge statue with interest)
Abner:  What of the second doors?
Arlanni:  Unlocked.  (shakes her head)  I don't think anybody's home

  Advancing through the second doorway, they entered a large octagonal
chamber, its thirty-foot high ceiling topped by a dome.  To the left,
a broad staircase led up into murky darkness.  To the right stretched
a wide hallway which ended abruptly, near another double door.  Ahead
of the adventurers was yet another double door, this one slightly ajar
as the main door had been.
  Balto lit his lantern, and Blastum cast a spell upon his staff,
causing a bright magical light to blaze to life.  Arlanni also lit a
torch, frowning as she got her first good look at this entry chamber.
Cobwebs were everywhere, especially in the ceiling, and more than one
of the veterans wondered if giant spiders might lurk up there.  From
random directions, sounds could be heard:  the squeak of scurrying rats,
the flapping of bat-wings, the whistling of the wind as it blew through
open windows and loose stones.  The castle smelled old and musty, and
was somewhat chilly.

Arlanni:  I want to get a better look at the ceiling here...(she ties
  a rope to a grappling hook)
Barjin:  Uh, is that such a good idea?
Arlanni:  You guys had better be ready to help me out if it's not.

  However, the thief had scarcely gotten her hook secured in the
chamber's rafters when a trio of gigantic, hairy spiders dropped upon
the party!  More than a foot across, the things scurried in all

Arlanni:  Aie!  (she lets go of her rope, dropping several feet to
  the floor, but this saves her from the spider that dropped upon
  her)  Look out!  (she jumps back, away from the oversized arachnid)
Gutboy:  (hurls himself atop the creature, bashing wildly)  Come an'
  get some!
Aggro:  At last!  (he, too, leaps into the fray, chopping at another
  of the eight-legged foes)
Arkayn:  You've got to hand it to Aggro - whatever else he may be,
  he's a fighter through and through.
Barjin:  (draws his sword and engages the third spider)  We could
  use some help here, you others!
Balto:  (readies his staff and approaches the battle cautiously)
Arlanni:  Gotcha.  (she fires her crossbow, burying a missile in one
  spider's side)  Oh wow, I hit it!  (she quiets down)
Barjin:  (grins as he notices his foe slow down considerably)  Thanks!
Arlanni:  No problem.
Abner:  I'll have it in a minute...(he unrolls a scroll)
Arkayn:  (holding his torch high, he also holds back, hoping to
  conserve his magic; he hefts a mace and keeps his eyes open)
Blastum:  (he likewise stays back, the tip of his staff glowing
  brightly and providing light for his companions)  No need to waste
  my magic on near-harmless spiders.
Sarnath:  (near the rear of the party, he also watches and waits)

  Fortunately, the spiders were fairly puny (though the fighters in
the party would never admit it) and within moments, all three of the
things were slain.

Gutboy:  (bashes his spider a few more times, just for the hell of
  it)  Guardians?  Hah!
Aggro:  (wipes his gory axe on a wall)  A good battle.  Aggro the Axe
  once again earns his name...
Barjin:  (claps Arlanni on the back)  Good job there.
Arlanni:  (smiles)  Uh, you're welcome.
Abner:  Excellent.  We were able to conserve our magic.
Gutboy:  (exchanges glances with Aggro)  Yeah, we noticed.
Arkayn:  Is anyone hurt?  I can bind wounds, and use Trithereon's
  power to heal you if need be...
Barjin:  I'm fine.
Gutboy:  I'm fine, too.  More battle!
Aggro:  I heard that.  (to Abner)  Let's get moving...strike while
  the iron's hot!
Abner:  (looks around)  Yes.
Arlanni:  (climbing her rope again, she reaches the rafters this time,
  but spies no treasure, or anything else of interest)  Darn.

  The nine adventurers continued on their way, heading up the wide
staircase to the left.  Their various light-sources cut a swath
through the darkness ahead and above.  At last, adventure was upon
them!  With Gutboy and Aggro in the lead, to protect against any
other fierce monsters they might find, the companions began to ascend
the stairway.

Blastum:  Better watch out for traps.
Arlanni:  (looking around)  Yeah...
Gutboy:  Bah.  No stupid trap's gonna get m-

  The dwarf, taking the steps two at a time, had activated some sort
of glowing rune - there _was_ a trap!  A bluish-white burst of energy
sheathed his body, crackling and snapping as it shocked him.

Gutboy:  YEOW!

  The dwarf fell backward, his thick body rolling down the stairs,
right past Arkayn and Blastum.

Aggro:  (now solely in the lead of the party, he turns around to
  face the others)  Barrelhouse?  You down there?

  A grumbling form slowly got to its feet, pausing before addressing
the warrior.  Gutboy's hair and beard were singed, sticking straight
out in all directions, but he lived.  The dwarf had also somehow kept
hold of his warhammer.

Gutboy:  (grins)  If that little zap's the best the warlock's got,
  we'll have no problem.  (he looks around)  All clear down here.
  Now let's go back up.

  They did so, being careful to avoid that step this time.  They had
no idea if its magic was still working, but they didn't intend to
find out.


                TOP VIEW OF INNER KEEP:
                     _    ___    _
                    | |  /   \  | |
                    | |_|     |_| |_                E
                   /                \             N + S
                  |                  |              W
                   \._            __/
               _______|          |_______
              |                          |     ||||   stairs
              |                          |      ..    double doors
              |__                      __|       .    single door
                 |                    |
                 |                    |
            ____/                      \____
           |                                |
           |____          _.._          ____|
                \    ____/    \_____   /
                 |   ||||           | |
                 |   ||||      __.._| |
                 |       \    /       |
                 |       |    |       |
                 |       |_.._|       |
                 |       /    \       |
                 |      |      |      |
                /    __/        \__    \
               |    |              |    |
                \__/                \__/


  They followed the broad stairway as it curved around to the left,
ascending into the darkness.  A chill breeze wafted down the stairs,
bringing a dry, stale smell to their noses.

next:      the band runs into trouble
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I wrote this one while listening to a 70s flashback
  weekend on some local radio station.  Just so you know.  Good
  thing this wasn't a Peyote story, eh?
    Hey, that reminds me - my roommate and I ran into Ken (the
  player of Peyote) last night at the theater in a mall.  He's
  doing pretty well.  He told me that Rob (the player of Rob)
  finally took that one test and officially got his EE degree
  from Tech, and also recently saw his second child born.  Man,
  those married ex-players are staying busy!  Well, not Ken, but
  he's got a good bit more sense than Rob.

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