Chapter #661

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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   +
+   Belphanior      14th/14th/14th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+     Aja            9th level human priestess of Wee Jas                 +
+     Neko           7th level human female thief                         +
+     Skektek       12th level human wizard                               +
+     Zhao           8th level human swordsman                            +
+   Bosco           12th level halfling thief                             +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+     Gorgo          9th level dwarven berserker                          +
+                                                                         +
+   Dave-O          local guide                                           +
+   Date:           2/27/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           shortly before dusk                                   +
+   Place:          the eastern edge of the Hellfurnaces                  +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   ""Nobody move or everybody gets hurt!"                                +
+                                                           - The Tick    +

                      DCLXI.  Boulders and Blades

  While riding through the mountains, the party has come under attack from
hill giants...

Mongo:  They're probably gonna start hurling boulders-

  Just then, some of them did.  The huge missiles - some of them several
feet across - crashed and smashed amidst the adventurers even as they
leaped from their horses and prepared to attack.  Both groups of giants -
the five ahead and the four behind the party - were throwing the rocks,
though some of the giants only threw one before grabbing their weapons
and advancing.

Belphanior:  Heads up, people!
Gorgo:  (hit in the chest by a boulder)  Ungh!  (he is knocked back)
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer, intercepting an airborne rock)
Aja:  (watches as the boulder is pulverized in midair)  Good gods.
Zhao:  (deftly leaps aside as a rock lands where he was standing)  Whah.
Neko:  (grabs Skektek and pulls him aside as another rock hits nearby)
Skektek:  Hell!  We've got no cover!
Neko:  Not a problem - just watch the boulders and dodge-  (her dialogue
  is interrupted by another boulder, from the opposite group of giants,
  which shatters nearby, spraying sharp fragments of stone at the party)
  Aaargh!  (she glances at the rock sliver in her arm)
Skektek:  (screaming as more shards slash his leg and back)  Aaaaaaa!
Belphanior:  Everyone!  I'm going for the smaller group, to the rear, so
  don't throw any spells that way!
Skektek:  (gritting his teeth as he begins spellcasting)  Got it!
Bosco:  You can count on me!
Belphanior:  (using one of his magical rings' powers, he executes a mighty
  jump, leaping into the midst of the four giants on the rear flank)
  Damn, but that's a useful trick.

  The giants hadn't been expecting anything like this, and Belphanior
didn't give them any time to think.  The elf was poetry in motion, his
body and blade whirling about, slashing and slicing with wild abandon and
deadly accuracy.  In the space of a few moments, three of the giants were
wounded, one seriously.

giant #6:  (falls, clutching a severed hamstring)  EYAAARGH!
giant #7:  (sliced on the hip)  Ow!
giant #8:  (stabbed in the forearm and slashed across one leg)  Damn elf-
giant #9:  Get him!

  Meanwhile, the others were not being idle...

Mongo:  (hurls Stormcrest again)  Die, fuckers!

  The dwarf was in his element, and the hammer was being used against its
natural foes.  The weapon shot through the air with a tremendous thunder-
clap that shook the ground and deafened the foes.  As for the unfortunate
giant who actually received the mighty blow...

giant #5:  (killed instantly)
other giants:  (gaping in awe and terror)
Skektek:  Not bad...for a warrior.  My turn.  (he launches a fireball which
  arcs toward the stunned giants, then detonates in their midst, burning
  them all into ashes)  Yes!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer as it comes sailing out of the inferno)  Not
  bad...for a wizard.
Gorgo:  (having recovered, he charges toward Belphanior and the four giants)

  Despite being occupied with the elf, the giants couldn't help but pause
at the sight of the spiked, armored form that yelled as it hurtled toward

giant #9:  I'll handle this.  You guys stop the elf.
giant #8:  (swings at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (sidesteps the blow, bringing his sword around)
giant #7:  (parries that attack on his fellow, kicking out at the elf)
Belphanior:  (knocked back)  Whoulfff!
giant #7:  Hah!  (he advances, giant mace swinging in great arcs)
Belphanior:  (leaps to the side, but still gets clipped on one shoulder)
giant #6:  (still trying to stand, unsuccessfully)  Argh...
Bosco:  (having snuck up behind the giant, he stabs the hobbled foe in the
giant #6:  Glurk.  (he keels over, his heart pierced)
Bosco:  Bosco strikes...(he looks around for another foe)
giant #8:  (looming over the halfling)  I'll smash you like a flea!
Bosco:  Eep.

  Suddenly, the graceful form of Zhao catapulted through the air, twin
swords moving in a blur.

giant #8:  (sliced about the head and neck)  Argh!  Ungh!
Zhao:  (uses the giant's shoulders as a springboard, flipping over and
  spinning in midair, swords slashing out)
giant #8:  (gutted, twice, it falls)  Urg.
Zhao:  (lands, swords still held ready)
Bosco:  Wow.  That was amazing!
Zhao:  (shrugs)  It was nothing.


Belphanior:  (slashes at the giant with the mace)  Die!
giant #7:  (cut across one arm)  Argh!  You'll pay for that!
Belphanior:  We'll see.
Neko:  (behind the giant, she backstabs him)
giant #7:  Argh!  (he spins about, his mace swinging at the girl)
Neko:  (leaps aside, dodging the blow and landing like a cat)  Not
  fast enough, clod.
giant #7:  Grr-
Belphanior:  (severs the giant's head with a single blow)  Ahhh.  (he
  stands there, exulting in the flow of life energy through Blackrazor)

  Elsewhere, Gorgo was busy giving the ninth giant a nasty series of
surprises.  The giant hadn't expected the smaller foe to be so strong
or so savage; indeed, the dwarf seemed to ignore blows, never slowing
his attack.

Gorgo:  ARRR!  (he leaps forth, ramming the giant in the belly with his
  spiked helm)  AAARRRRRRR!
giant #9:  (knocked to the ground)  Argh!
Gorgo:  (stomping up and down on the giant's chest)  Take that!  And
  that!  And that!
giant #9:  Arg!  Urg!  Ungh!
Gorgo:  (ripping and tearing now, thanks to his spiked armor)  ARRRRR!
giant #9:  (a mess of blood and guts, he fades fast)
Gorgo:  (bloody and battered, he stands there, shaking his fists in
  the air triumphantly)  Hah!
Aja:  (looking around)  Decimation...
Bosco:  I guess it's over, then.

  Wounds were bound and healing spells cast, though nobody was badly

Neko:  (flexing her arm)  Good to go.
Aja:  Are you sure?  I can heal-
Neko:  I'm fine, thanks.
Belphanior:  Remind me never to stage an ambush as ineffective as that
Skektek:  Hill giants aren't known for being the sharpest knives in
  the drawer.
Belphanior:  I suppose that even the boulder-throwing was a stretch
  for them.
Aja:  Someone had best go around and make sure they're all dead.  (she
  does that, sickle in hand)
Mongo:  (to Belphanior)  Where's our guide-  oh.
Dave-O:  (sits up)  I had the most terrible dream, guys.  There were
  these giants and rocks and blood and...(he looks around)  Aaaaaa!
Bosco:  What now?
Belphanior:  We find a place to camp, and then camp.  Bosco, you're in
  charge of finding a campsite.  Make sure it's far enough from here
  so that we don't have to deal with scavengers.
Bosco:  But what about checking the bodies for loot?  Err, the bodies
  that aren't char-broiled, I mean.
Skektek:  (smiles to himself)
Belphanior:  Neko will handle that.
Neko:  Right.  (she goes to work)
Bosco:  Oh.  (he looks around, then heads out to scout the trail)
Mongo:  (to Dave-O)  We'll reach the mountain tomorrow?
Dave-O:  Yes, we will.
Belphanior:  (counting horses)  Maybe not.
Mongo:  Shit, I'd forgotten about that.  How many did we lose?
Belphanior:, four.  One crushed, and three gone.
Zhao:  (riding his horse back up the trail)  Two gone.
Belphanior:  Good work.  (he wipes blood and sweat from his brow)
Mongo:  We'll have to double up, or else slow our pace a lot.
Belphanior:  We'll double up as necessary.  I want to find this Oracle

next:      a more mythical challenge, as they climb Mount Aeon
released:  7/31/00
notes:     I want to make a clarification on "backstabbing" - to me, it
  is ANY highly damaging attack that derives its highly damaging nature
  from the fact that the thief is behind the foe.  Any successful attack
  by a thief, from behind, will be a successful backstab in my opinion.
  I simply choose to embellish it sometimes by adding variety, e.g. a
  decapitation, as seen in this episode.

    Now, go and look at the trailer for the upcoming Highlander movie
  (9/1/00) at
  It actually looks like it could be a good Highlander movie - something
  we haven't seen since 1985.

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