Chapter #648

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                                   +   +
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                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Adolphus        half-ogre warrior                                     +
+   Damien          imp renegade                                          +
+   Peyton          gnome thief                                           +
+   Rogar           human priest of Olidammara                            +
+   Sylus           dark elf warrior/thief                                +
+   Wembly          human wizard                                          +
+   Date:           2/16/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           dusk                                                  +
+   Place:          a ruined moathouse near the town of Nulb              +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "I hear you're dangerous to know."                                    +
+   "Afraid of a little danger?"                                          +
+                                                            - unknown    +

                    DCXLVIII.  A Plethora of Nasties

  After defeating giant frogs and a rather large spider, the adventurers
now face a huge snake, well over ten feet long...

giant snake:  (greets the visitors by rearing up and hissing)  Sss!
Wembly:  Holy crap!
Sylus:  (unflappable, he draws his enchanted blade)
Adolphus:  Adolphus smash-
Peyton:  Hold on there.  We might want to fire some missiles at the thing
Adolphus:  (looks confused)
Peyton:  (holds up an arrow)
Adolphus:  (grins)  Oh!
Sylus:  The thing seems to be moving toward us.
Wembly:  (wondering which of his offensive spells would be best against
  this foe)
Rogar:  (hefts his war club)  I have battled many infidels, but never
  one that looked like this.
Peyton:  (aims an arrow at the snake)  Spread out, and be careful - this
  thing's probably poisonous.
Adolphus:  (snorts)

  After some careful aiming, Peyton let his first arrow fly, a shot right
into the snake's skull.  The effect was predictable:  the thing thrashed
about in pain, smashing the walls and floor with its tail.  The real
surprise was Rogar's contribution, though, as the priest created a large
glowing hammer and sent it at the monster.

giant snake:  (bashed in the head by the spiritual hammer)  Sssss!
Damien:  Cool!  Go, Rogar!
Rogar:  (grins heartily)  Even snakes can be an infidels.
Sylus:  (holds back from his planned attack, figuring there's no need to
  risk life and limb if others can destroy the monster from afar)

  And so they did - Peyton with two more arrows and Rogar with his force-
hammer.  The snake lashed out in desperate fury, striking at Adolphus, but
its fangs were turned by the half-ogre's splint mail armor.  As it hissed
in pain and anger, Adolphus buried his pick in the thing's neck, ending
the battle.

Adolphus:  Snake _and_ frog meat, all in one day.
Damien:  He's got a point.
Peyton:  Maybe later, when we're camped.  Right now, we need to search
  this chamber and then go back to secure the rest.
Sylus:  (nods)  Camping in a potentially dangerous area would be stupid.
Wembly:  Why do we have to camp here?  Why not somewhere outside this
  place...or better yet, back in the village?
Rogar:  Too much trouble.  We're here, so we should do what we came to do
  and waste no time.
Peyton:  Speaking of which...(he holds up a jewelled dagger)
Damien:  Ah!

  In truth, Peyton would have pocketed this item of treasure if not for
the watchful eyes of Sylus.  The others were relatively easy to fool or
intimidate...but not the dark elf.  Still, there would be other chances
for easy loot - of that, the gnome was sure.
  After completing their search of the snake's lair, they returned to the
large hall and took the opposite passage.  In addition to the four doors
in the passage, there was a stairway tucked away near the beginning of
the hallway, the steps leading down into darkness.  They opted to save
this for later, just like the large door at the far end of the feasting
hall.  That brought them to the four doors in the second passage.
  The first of these opened into what had once been a great trophy room.
Now, however, it was a wrecked ruin; the stuffed animal heads had been
knocked from the walls and vandalized.  The floor was littered with all
sorts of debris, which only had one thing in common:  it was worthless.
The second door led to another small suite of some sort, its furniture
smashed almost beyond recognition.  The third door led to an old kitchen
which held a nasty surprise...

giant tick:  (scuttles out toward Rogar)  Scrrr!
Rogar:  Aie!  (he swings at the thing with his club, knocking it across
  the room into the dusty remains of the oven)
Damien:  Good shot!
Peyton:  (thinking quickly, he slams the oven door closed)
Damien:  Heh.  Now let's roast the bastard.  (he pulls a flask of oil
  from the tiny satchel on his waist)

  In short order, the giant tick was roasting alive, undoubtedly the
first time the oven had been used in many years.

Sylus:  A smell most foul...
Peyton:  It's not like we're going to eat the thing.
Damien:  We're not?

  This diatribe was interrupted by the muffled sound of the giant insect
exploding inside the oven.  Several trickles of dark blood ran from the
edges of the oven.

Wembly:  Ugh...I think I'm going to be sick...
Damien:  My first try as an amateur chef...success!

  The final door in this passage opened into a demolished barracks,
in which the remnants of cots and chests were strewn.  There was also
quite a bit of rubble, and one of the walls seemed ready to collapse.
After a search revealed nothing, the adventurers returned to the large
dining hall.

Peyton:  Before we go down those stairs, we should check out this final
  door.  There's probably nothing behind it, but we'd better make sure.

  As he'd done with all of the other doors, Peyton checked for traps
and then listened before opening the portal.  This time, however, the
door wouldn't open - it was blocked from the inside!

Sylus:  Locked?  Barred?
Peyton:  I don't think so...just blocked.  Like there's something behind
  it, wedging it shut.
Adolphus:  I open door?
Peyton:  There could be someone behind it ready to attack-
Adolphus:  I not care.  (he saunters up to the door, eyes it critically
  for a moment, then kicks out)

  The immense strength of the ogre-kin was more than enough to smash
the door in, revealing an empty chamber beyond.

Peyton:  My dear old uncle used to say, never knock when you can ram.
Sylus:  It may be empty, but someone was here recently.  (he points to
  the fireplace and cots)  This area is intact, unlike the rest of the
  rooms here.
Wembly:  But if there was someone in here...where are they?
Rogar:  And how'd they get out?  And when?
Peyton:  And why?
Damien:  Too many questions.  (he pokes at the fireplace with his tiny
Sylus:  Here is yet another question.  (he pushes a false stone wall
Damien:  Whoa!
Peyton:  Well done.
Adolphus:  Hmmmmm.
Wembly:  (trying to get a look around the bulky form of Adolphus)  So
  what's down there?
Sylus:  A stairway...leading down.
Rogar:  So now we have two stairways to choose from.
Damien:  Two times the action!  Two times the excitement!  Two times
  the thrills!
Peyton:  Quite obviously there's a basement of some sort below.
Sylus:  Or a dungeon.
Peyton:  Possibly.  The big question is this:  should we camp and rest
  for the night before we go down and have a look?

next:      into the depths
released:  6/15/00
notes:     Just some comments...after this story arc ends (with episode
  650) I'll revisit Belphanior and Mongo's group, then deal with Peldor
  and the changes in his guild, his inn, and his city.  After that, I want
  to wrap up Alindyar's search for the Lord of Illusions...but I also have
  that rascal Rasimoff D'Arkayn, last survivor of the drow city that the
  tarrasque destroyed - and he's going to be wanting some revenge.

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