Chapter #454

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    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                    +
+                           +
+  Halbarad         13th level human ranger                    (NG) +
+    Zephyr         wild tiger                                  (N) +
+  Mongo            18th level dwarven fighter                 (CG) +
+    Gorin           9th level dwarven fighter                 (NG) +
+  Peyote           11th/12th level half-elven warrior/druid    (N) +
+                                                                   +
+  Kup Swiftfoot    halfling thief                              (N) +
+  Relmar           human high priest of Pelor                 (NG) +
+  Date:        5/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       an ancient crypt within the northern Vesve          +
+  Climate:     chilly and musty                                    +
+  "Horror and mortal terror are your friends; if they are not,     +
+   then they are enemies to be feared...they are truly enemies."   +
+                                    - Kurtz, from _Apocalypse Now_ +

                    CDLIV.  The Catacombs

  After a pitched battle against undead floating heads and severed
hands, the adventurers have stopped for lunch and rest.

Peyote:  How can any of you dudes eat at a time like this?!?
Mongo:  Because I'm hungry?
Peyote:  Feh!  (anxious to get on with the quest, he paces about)
Relmar:  Also to rest and heal wounds...(he has already cast healing
  spells upon all those who needed them)
Zephyr:  (laying next to Halbarad, resting)  Rrrr...
Kup:  (talking as he eats, possibly a halfling racial skill)  It's
  smart to eat several meals a day, to keep up your strength and
  health.  (he takes a swig from a small flask)
Gorin:  Hey, I've noticed that you keep drinking from that thing...but
  it's so tiny.  What's the deal?
Kup:  (holds up the platinum flask)  This, my friend, is a perpetually
  full ale-flask.
Gorin:  Neat.
Kup:  It was a gift from a priest of Inebrios, god of liquid spirits,
  after I helped save his temple from marauding bandits.
Peyote:  (shows some interest, for anything is better than waiting
  quietly while the others eat)  All by yourself?
Kup:  Not quite.  I had help.
Halbarad:  Help?  What kind of help?  An army, perhaps?
Kup:  No...just a few good friends.  (he waxes nostalgic)  Tarl, Yod,
  Eyer, Marcus...and of course, Relmar here.
Relmar:  (smiles)  Those were the days, weren't they?
Mongo:  Huh?!?  Did you say Yod?
Kup:  Yup.
Mongo:  As in Yod Ironbeard, of the Lortmils?
Kup:  Yup.  Do you know him?
Mongo: and Gorin and Bosco helped him with some trouble
  in Thunderdelve.
Kup:  Ah.
Gorin:  Wait, wait.  Let me get this right:  you all know each other?
Kup:  Yep.  Me, Yod, Tarl, Eyer, and Marcus were together from the
Mongo:  Beginning?  When was that?
Kup:  (furrowing his brow in thought)  Oh...hell, I suppose it was a
  good sixteen or seventeen years ago.
Peyote:  So you dudes were an adventuring group?
Kup:  That's right.  We roamed far and near...did a lot of things.
  Good things.
Mongo:  (somewhat excited)  Were you at Thunderdelve during the reign
  of Feuerhauch?
Kup:  (nods)  Now _that_ was a battle!
Gorin:  You people slew the wyrm?
Kup:  We did, but it was a long, drawn-out shook the whole
  mountain.  Whew, what a blast.
Mongo:  Aha.  Now I've figured it all out.
Gorin:  (to Mongo)  Well, Eyer did tell us some of this...
Mongo:  Huh.  My mind must be addled from all the battle, then.
Halbarad:  (to Relmar)  What is your connection?  He didn't mention
  you as one of the original members of his group.
Relmar:  Because I wasn't.  There are others, such as Drexel the holy
  knight and Filadril the elven wizard, who joined later.  (he frowns)
  And then there were those who were with Kup from the start, but were
  slain along the way.
Kup:  (raises his flask) in peace, bros.
Mongo:  Damn...I know Drexel - he fought with us recently, not more
  than a year ago.  And Eyer.
Kup:  Eyer, the ever-wandering one.  Does he still hang around with
  that archer, Baltek?
Mongo:  Yeah.  A strange one, he was.
Kup:  (nods in agreement)  There's nobody better with a bow, though.
Mongo:  I don't know any Marcus, though, or a Tarl.
Kup:  (shrugs)  We've practically split up, now, each to his own
  devices.  Tarl's a big barbarian from the north - he went back up
  there to try and unify his people against their foes.  Marcus is a
  great general, who operates out of the Riftcanyon area.  He leads
  a force of the finest mercenaries in all the world.
Gorin:  And you?
Kup:  Me?  I've retired, to the comfort of my mans-  err, burrow in
  the Flinty Hills.
Mongo:  But you show up when something important's going on, huh?
Kup:  I was just passing through when Oakly enlisted my help.  Honest.
Relmar:  (smiles to himself)
Peyote:  All this nostalgia sure is nice, but I think it's time we got
  moving again.
Relmar:  (nods)  The forces of evil are seldom idle.
Halbarad:  I am honestly surprised that we were not attacked while we
Kup:  Maybe the forces of evil are also depleted.
Peyote:  Don't count on it, little buddy.

  They resumed their explorations again, this time descending a dark
stairway which wound around and around, going ever-deeper...they went
past long-dead halls and shadowy passages, guided by Kup's senses and
Relmar's pursuit of evil.  The high priest was certain that whatever
evil had inhabited this place was down this stairway.

Mongo:  How in the hell can you know that?
Relmar:  I just know.
Peyote:  (eyeing dead roots and corrupted earth as they descend)  The
  priest-dude is right.  Whatever's killing the forest around here is
  waiting, beneath us.
Halbarad:  If that is the case, let Zephyr scout ahead...and Mongo and
  I shall remain on the front lines.
Peyote:  Don't hog all the action, man.
Gorin:  I'm sure there's plenty to go around.

  The stairway ended abruptly, opening into a yawning hallway, ten
feet wide and high and longer than their light could reveal.  What
struck them right away were this chamber's walls and ceiling, which
were composed of faces and limbs, carved right into the wall!

Relmar:  Hellish...
Peyote:  Maybe they're not just stone...maybe they're alive.
Mongo:  Not yet, they aren't.  And unless they come to life, let's
  not worry about them.  (he looks about, even his mighty courage
  put at ill ease by this place)
Gorin:  I don't like it.
Kup:  None of us like it.
Halbarad:  Aye, this is...evil.  Even I can sense it.

  As they walked, the walls seemed to watch them, their faces locked
in tortured, agonized expressions of pain and suffering.

Relmar:  (feeling slightly weak, all of a sudden)  Uh...
Halbarad:  (likewise) happening?
Mongo:  (also feeling this effect, though he tries not to show it)
Gorin:  (clutches his battleaxe, trying to stay on his feet)
Peyote:  What's wrong with them, dude?
Kup:  I don't know.
Relmar:  No doubt an effect of this very place-

  Up ahead, they suddenly heard the sound of a large tiger roaring!

Halbarad:  Zephyr?!  (he charges)  To arms!
Mongo:  Hey, come back here...(he runs after the ranger)

  As the others ran after them, Halbarad and Mongo burst into another
chamber, a great high-ceilinged hall.  Zephyr was growling, surrounded
by a ring of undead creatures of all types and sorts.  The remains of
a zombie, torn into at least three distinct pieces, attested to the
tiger's capability to defend itself.

Mongo:  He got himself surrounded!
Halbarad:  Impossible.  Zephyr would never allow that to happen.
Mongo:  Well, there it is.  C'mon, let's go help him.

  Beyond the tiger and the dozens of undead creatures, they could see
a robed figure standing in a crater-like depression in the center of
the chamber.  Even now, the person turned to face them, something in
its hands glowing with an eerie black light.

  As they charged into the room, slashing and bashing those undead
nearest to them, a strange and terrible thing happened:  the walls of
the corridor behind them came to life, unliving fiends tearing them-
selves free and spilling into the passage.  For some reason, their
twisted, mutilated bodies were slick with dark, wet blood.

Gorin:  (looks behind them, and then ahead, to the undead horde there)
  Holy shit...
robed figure in crater:  (laughs, a dry, dead sound that sets their
  teeth on edge)  You are too late, fools!

next:      the beans are finally put to use!
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     For the record, I pulled the name "Feuerhauch" from an
  article in an old Dragon magazine, back when I ran the original
  Thunderdelve adventure in 1986 or so.

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