Chapter #412

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Unwanted guests, The Company of Nine (now Eight):                +
+                                                                   +
+  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) +
+  Gutboy Barrelhouse  5th level dwarven fighter               (CN) +
+  Blastum        4th level human magic-user                   (CN) +
+  Sarnath        5th level human magic-user                   (NE) +
+                                                                   +
+                                                                   +
+  Freshly deceased:                                                +
+                                                                   +
+  Barjin         4th/5th level half-elven fighter/magic-user   (N) +
+  Date:        4/9/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        afternoon                                           +
+  Place:       Belphanior's castle, above Helgate                  +
+  Climate:     chilly                                              +
+  "Gentlemen, we are now officially in harm's way."                +
+                                               - from _The Rock_   +

                    CDXII.  Nosing Around

  After invading Belphanior's castle, the members of the Company of
Nine have finally made it into the castle proper.  However, they
have also suffered their first casualty:  the half-elf Barjin,
crushed to a pulp moments before as a huge stone block fell from
the ceiling.

Gutboy:  (struggles with the ten-foot-cubic block)  Ungh!
Arlanni:  (rather upset)  Well, come on!  Get it off of him!
Gutboy:  I don't have giant strength, girl.
Abner:  (notices that the block is fastened to a huge chain, on its
  top face)  Hmm.  Maybe the thing will rise again, eventually.
Aggro:  And then what?  We're going to dive under its shadow and
  get that door open?
Balto:  (looks puzzled)  It's not casting any shadow.  What are you
  talking about?
Arlanni:  The lock didn't look that complicated.  Given a few moments,
  I might be able to get it open.  _If_ we can move the block.
Arkayn:  Poor Barjin.  He must have died instantly.
Blastum:  My spells shall ensure that someone else does the dying,
  next time!
Sarnath:  (his face unseen, he smirks)

  Try as they might, they were unable to budge the massive cubic block.
Just as they began to contemplate other exits from the hall, a deep
grinding sound began, from somewhere far above.
  This, naturally, caused all eight of the adventurers to scramble
away from the door and the block that blocked it.  However, the sound
heralded no further traps; instead, the block began to rise from the
floor, slowly, as Abner had surmised it might.

Arlanni:  Way to go, Abner.
Blastum:  (points to the wide red smear, saturated with shards of
  metal and scraps of leather, that is now exposed where the block
  fell)  Look!
Gutboy:  Rest in peace, half-elf.  You shall be avenged.
Abner:  Arkayn, is there any hope-
Arkayn:  To have him brought back to life?  (he shakes his head)  I
  doubt it.  Not in that condition.
Arlanni:  In any case, it'd take hours to scrape him off the floor,
  and in doing so, we'd risk getting crushed by the trap ourselves.
  That block could fall again, at any moment.
Abner:  (eyeing the locked door, which is now exposed as the stone
  block rises)  Arlanni, can you-
Arlanni:  I don't want to, but I guess I have to.  (she darts under
  the rising block, nervously dividing her attention between it and
  the door's lock)
Aggro:  She's pretty speedy.  If the block falls again, she might be
  able to leap out of danger and avoid being smashed into paste.
Arlanni:  Aggro, please be quiet.
Aggro:  (hastily)  That doesn't make this a good idea.
Arkayn:  True.
Balto:  Look, she's got it!

  Indeed, she did - the doors had sprung open.  Unfortunately, they
were merely a false pair of doors, opening outward to reveal a solid
wall of stone.

Arlanni:  Oh, hell, we've been had.  (hastily, she raps on the wall
  to make sure it's not just a concealed door)  Nope.  (she backs
  away, out of the range of the block, which is still ascending)
Abner:  Are you sure?
Arlanni:  Positive.
Gutboy:  Hell.  (he pounds a wall in frustration)
Sarnath:  (staring at the smear that used to be Barjin)

  They now had two avenues open to them.  They could take the twin
stairways back to the broad flight of stairs, and then back down to
the entry level, exploring further from there.  The other option was
to tie a rope to the balcony that overlooked the chapel, and descend
that way.

Blastum:  I'll walk, thanks.
Gutboy:  Aw, come on.  Rappelling is _fun_!
Arlanni:  Not to mention easy.
Sarnath:  Hmph.  I'll use levitation, thank you very much.
Balto:  Hmm.
Abner:  We probably ought to just walk down the stairs.
Arkayn:  It would be faster and safer...
Aggro:  (sarcastically)  Safety first.
Blastum:  Right.  Remember that trapped step!
Gutboy:  Don't worry.

  As they turned to leave, Arlanni undertook some odd activities...

Arlanni:  (marking the area under the false double doors with chalk)
Aggro:  What the hell are you doing?
Arlanni:  Making sure we remember where the falling block trap hits.
  You know...just in case we have to come through here again.
Aggro:  Oh.  Uh...good idea!
Gutboy:  You know you would have forgotten.
Aggro:  Shut up.
Sarnath:  (to nobody in particular)  The sizable bloodstain on the
  floor there should be reminder enough.

  After they'd returned to the bottom floor, they struck out to the
south.  The double doors there, which they had ignored before, led
to a spacious dining hall.  A large wooden table, covered with a
white cloth, rested in the center of the arched room.  At the far
end, leaning against the west wall, was a huge, ancient organ, which
began to play, of its own accord, when they entered the chamber!


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


Balto:  An eerie sound, that.
Sarnath:  And sad...

  Moments after the old organ began piping forth its deep, melancholy
tune, something stirred behind the dining table.  Scraping and hissing
sounds began to issue forth - and that wasn't all that issued forth.

ghouls:  (a pack of eight, they leap from behind and beneath the
  massive table, snarling and hissing as they spring to the attack)

Abner:  Oh, hell...
Aggro:  (swinging his axe)  Yeah!  It's about damn time!

next:      more problems for the merry crew
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I've been (mostly) out of comics for awhile now, but
  I've recently stumbled upon some of Image's stuff.  Pretty good,
  particularly the espionage/superhero types of series.  Maybe I
  should send them my resume.

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