Chapter #654

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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   +
+   Alindyar        17th level drow wizard                                +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Date:           2/25/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the wastes to the northwest of the Forlorn Forest     +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Well, maybe that's just it.  Maybe we're not seeing it               +
+ can't be seen."                  - from _The X-Files_   +

                       DCLIV.  Into the Fire

  While searching a wasteland for anything resembling a powerful wizard's
lair, the drow have gotten more than they bargained for...

black stone golem:  (sprouts thin, polygonal wings of black stone and
  takes to the air)
Lyra:  Oh.
Alindyar:  Fascinating.
Lyra:  (spellcasting)  I told you we should have just attacked it.
Alindyar:  What if it is just defending its master's lair?
Lyra:  What if it kills us?
Alindyar:  Point taken.
Lyra:  I don't have rock to mud, which should slow down this sort of
  golem, but...(she casts her spell)

  The thick, fibrous web dropped upon the airborne golem, draping over
its body and snaring it...for a few short moments, before the construct
shredded the webbing with a single motion.

Lyra:  (frowns)
Alindyar:  Strong, that one.  (holding the Bigby-wand before him, he
  speaks a command word)

  A massive hand of pure force appeared in the air between the drow and
the flying golem.  As Alindyar concentrated, the force-hand reached out
and grabbed the golem around the torso, immobilizing it within translucent
digits.  The golem struggled, but to no avail...and then, suddenly, it
stopped its movements altogether.

Alindyar:  Eh?
Lyra:  It can't be beaten...can it?
Alindyar:  Nay.  I did nothing harmful, just held it in place.

  They both gasped then, for the golem was _passing through_ the force-

Alindyar:  Impossible!
Lyra:  This is no ordinary golem...perhaps a more destructive spell is
  called for.  (she hastily begins working such a spell)

  Meanwhile, Alindyar tried to grab the golem again, but to no avail:
the force-hand simply could not make contact.  Every swipe of the hand
caused it to pass right through the golem's body.

Lyra:  Let's try this.  (she launches a lightning bolt, blasting the
  thing squarely in its chest)

  Amazingly, the powerful bolt of electricity passed right through the

Alindyar:  Nothing can touch the if it were a ghost...or...
  (he closes his eyes, concentrating, as the golem approaches)
Lyra:  Maybe it's time to teleport out of here-
Alindyar:  (opens his eyes)  No.

  The dark elf, possibly as great an illusionist as any who currently
walked the world, no longer saw the golem.

Alindyar: is gone.
Lyra:  (frantic)  No it's not!  It's right there and coming for us!
Alindyar:  (uses the ESP link)  Think.  Disbelieve.  What better form
  of defense for the ultimate illusionist than a powerful illusion?
Lyra:  (trying to concentrate despite the huge form that looms over
  her, she closes her eyes)
Alindyar:  Trust me.  There is no golem.

  By herself, it was likely that Lyra would not have triumphed in this
endeavor.  With Alindyar's assistance - made possible by the unique
mental link they shared - she was able to resist what her eyes, her
every sense, were telling her was right there.

Lyra:  (blinking)  It's gone.
Alindyar:  It was never there.  (he turns his attention to the black
  obelisk, which fades from sight)  Hmm.

  Lyra followed Alindyar as he landed on the ground, eyeing the
surrounding terrain.  Now that the dark elf had figured out what
was going on, he was able to zero in on the other illusion present
in this area.  Even as he approached the site of the illusionary
obelisk, he became conscious of a translucent dome of force in that
same location.

Alindyar:  (watches as the nearly-invisible bubble shimmers, an
  opening appearing in one side)  Aie.
Lyra:  I see it too.  Is this an invitation...or a trap?
Alindyar:  I cannot think of it as a trap.  Surely whoever created
  all of these things we've seen need not allow us an entrance for
  no reason.
Lyra:  Still...
Alindyar:  I must know.  (he works a spell)

  Shortly, he had convinced himself (and Lyra) that the energy-
bubble bore the exact same dweomer as a teleportation spell or
similar device.

Alindyar:  Clearly this is a transportation mechanism of some sort.
Lyra:  But to where?
Alindyar:  That is what we must discover.  (he strides into the
Lyra:  (follows reluctantly)

  Immediately after they entered the translucent dome, both dark
elves vanished suddenly, transported to a faraway place.  Behind
them, the strange force-bubble closed and then faded from sight,
leaving in its stead a featureless section of cracked wasteland.

  Far away, in a certain mansion in the higher-class section of
Greyhawk, Rasimov continued his search.  He'd encountered numerous
obstacles, not all of them easy to deal with.  The webs and fog and
wizard-locked doors hadn't slowed him much; all were easy to negate
or ignore.  The explosive runes and magical glyphs of warding were
a bit more challenging, especially as the one who cast them was a
more skilled wizard than Rasimov himself.  There had been no doubt
about this - Rasimov could recognize and even appreciate superior
power when he saw evidence of it.
  He also intended to destroy it, however.  Where raw power and sheer
might wouldn't suffice, trickery and surprise would.  It was only
fitting, with this Alindyar fellow being a dark elf as well.  Rasimov
chuckled to himself as he moved through a door...and found himself
facing ten stony feet of golem.
  Unlike the multiple illusions Rasimov had encountered here, this
foe was all too real.  The golem swung one huge fist, but Rasimov was
more than just a spellcasting wizard.  His skills as a warrior were
the equal of many a foe, and the reflexes that came with those skills
and those decades of training came into play.  The dark elf leaped to
the side as the golem's fist smashed a hole in the wooden floor.  A
mighty (and magically-enhanced) leap took him across the dining room,
where he perched on the wall like a spider.  The golem whirled, then
came toward him in its lumbering gait.
  Rasimov knew all about golems, and he knew what his best course
of action was.  Producing a small iron ball, he spoke a word of
command.  The metal sphere seemed to leap from his hand, growing
and shifting as it went.  The golem, a mindless automaton that had
no sense of tactics, blundered right into the grasping iron tendrils.
A few moments later, it was held fast, only its head and feet visible
around the constricting bands of iron.
  There was no point in destroying the golem; Rasimov would merely
reclaim his magical iron bands when it was time to leave, and he'd
be out of the mansion before the golem even got to its feet.  With
a smile, he continued his explorations.
  Rasimov had no intention of sitting around here and ambushing the
dark elves when they returned.  That would have been too easy, and
not diabolical enough.  Oh, no.  His plan was more complicated,
more devious:  rather than launch a direct assault and take revenge
in a straightforward way, he intended to find out all about these
drow...their habits, their friends, their loves and hates.  He would
insinuate himself into their lives in ways that they could hardly
imagine.  He would find out how best to hurt them, to wreck their
lives, the way they had wrecked his.  Only when the time was right,
when their despair was complete and they were broken utterly...only
then would he reveal himself and tell them who he was and what he
had come for, before annihilating them utterly.
  It would be a well-deserved fate, thought the evil dark elf to
himself as he made his way through Alindyar and Lyra's mansion.

next:      could it it...the Lord of Illusions?!?
released:  7/6/2000
notes:     Rasimov is definitely a name-level warrior and mage, and not
  someone to be taken Alindyar and Lyra shall learn.

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