Chapter #720

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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       +
+     Jutokai        8th level human archer                               +
+     Otto           8th/11th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+     Razor Charlie  9th level human fighter                              +
+     Skektek       12th level human wizard                               +
+     Ys            13th level reptilian fighter                          +
+     Zhao           8th level human swordsman                            +
+   Bosco           12th level halfling thief                             +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+     Gorgo          9th level dwarven berserker                          +
+                                                                         +
+   Boltar          high priest of Pholtus                                +
+   Drak            barbarian warrior                                     +
+   Parekh          dark-skinned female wizard                            +
+                                                                         +
+   Neera           female human sage/astrologer                          +
+   Date:           the week between 3/579 and 4/579 C.Y. (Common Year)   +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          an isle amidst the Solnor Ocean                       +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "You must let go. Surrender yourself to death. The death of flesh,    +
+    the death of fear. Step into the abyss, and let go."                 +
+                                          - Lorien, from _Babylon 5_     +

                    DCCXX.  Antechamber of the Lost

  After various adventures and misadventures on the isle - none of them
having anything to do with the actual Tomb of Panagaea - the party has
come upon a pair of huge doors set into the base of the mountain...and
entered what can only be the fabled Tomb itself!

Boltar:  (completes his spell, conjuring forth a small floating sphere of
  pure light, which hovers about ten feet above his head)
Bosco:  Hey, neat!  Can I have one?
Boltar:  Not unless you happen to be an annointed high priest of Pholtus.
Bosco:  Aw, drat.
Boltar:  (takes a few steps, the light-sphere above him mirroring his
Gorgo:  (wondering what happens to the sphere if they enter an area with
  a lower ceiling)

  To be sure, the chamber in which they stood was spacious, to say the
least.  A cylinder with a fifty-foot radius, into which the double doors
were set, its walls were fashioned of jet-black stone.  More remarkable
was the fact that they appeared to be _perfectly_ round.

Mongo:  Did they know how to do that, thousands of years ago?
Skektek:  Looks like it.
Belphanior:  Where magic's involved, there's no telling.
Parekh:  That's for sure.
Otto:  (shaking his head)  I never did like cylindrical rooms...they reek
  of traps.
Belphanior:  (scanning the walls, ceiling, and floor)  I'm not sensing
  any traps.
Boltar:  That's not natural, is it?
Belphanior:  No.
Boltar:  I's got a pretty hefty magical aura to it.
Belphanior:  (smirks)  You should have seen the one I had before.

  At the chamber's center was a large statue, also of blackest stone.  It
depicted a gigantic hound with three heads, fully twenty feet long and
greater than ten at the shoulder.  It was one of the most intricate and
realistic works of sculpture that any of them had ever laid eyes on.

Belphanior:  Now _that_ thing is magical.
Boltar:  (checking it with his own spell)  Aye.
Neera:  A gigantic three-headed hound...I'm sure this has a place in some
  mythology or another that I've read about, in my time.
Skektek:  Now would be a pretty good time to recall that tidbit.
Parekh:  Leave her be.
Skektek:  (about to retort)
Bosco:  (looking around)  Why aren't there any exits from this place?
Otto:  Screw that - why are there assorted bones and other remnants
  scattered around the base of that dog-statue?
Skektek:  (readying his wand, he aims it at the thing)  I've got it
Gorgo:  It's not moving.
Belphanior:  I'm not fooled.
Mongo:  We're gonna have to get closer than this to find out the truth
  about the damn thing.  I volunteer.  (he begins walking toward the
  center of the room and the imposing statue)
Otto:  Hey, don't - you'll get in the way of any spell cast!
Mongo:  No, I'll move around from the side, and I'm not planning to walk
  right up to the thing...I just want a closer look.
Skektek:  (wondering if he could hit the statue and not hit Mongo, with
  any given mass-destruction spell)
Jutokai:  (not liking this one bit)
Ys:  (looks around, his huge sword ready)
Zhao:  (hearing a sliding sound, he turns around just in time to see the
  entry door that Drak had opened slide closed)  What?
Drak:  Shit!  (he moves over to the portal, trying to get it opened again)
  Ungh!  Won't...budge.
Belphanior:  Magic, then.
Parekh:  I can-
Belphanior:  No, I'll handle this.  (he begins spellcasting)  Skektek,
  keep that statue covered.  This is just about the perfect time for it
  to come to life.
Skektek:  Right.
Jutokai:  (also watches the statue, as do about half of the others)

  Shortly, Belphanior worked his spell...and nothing happened!

Belphanior:  Dammit.
Parekh:  If these doors were enchanted by someone or something really
  powerful-  no, that's right, they had no magical aura.
Belphanior:  Well, if they're normal, then why won't they open?
Drak:  Are you _sure_ they're not magical?
Belphanior:  (irritated)  Of course.
Boltar:  I didn't see any aura, either.
Drak:  I'm just saying this:  is it possible that your detection spells
  themselves aren't working right?  Perhaps thrown awry by some unknown
Parekh:  (eyes wide)  That would be...brilliant!
Belphanior:  That's not the term I'd use.  (he exchanges glances with
  Boltar)  Though it's certainly possible...or at least, it's one
Boltar:  Agreed.
Belphanior:  Of course, if that's the case, then we can't trust any of
  our detection spells, or in fact any of our spells...
Parekh:  That could be bad.
Belphanior:  Let me try something.  (he prepares to begin casting
  another spell)
Mongo:  (having wandered back toward the entry doors)  Hang on, I have a
  better idea.  (he walks up to one of the doors, the same one that Drak
  had pulled open earlier, and sets his feet, leaning against the metal
  portal)  Drak, you want to help me here?
Drak:  Aha!  (he moves over)
Belphanior:  What are you doing?
Mongo:  Ungh!  (along with Drak, he pushes on the door)

  With the two warriors' great strength applied to the task, the huge
portal finally inch, then another!

Mongo:  (pushes harder, opening the door a few more inches)  Hah!
Drak:  (nods, pleased)
Belphanior:  (confused now)
Mongo:  I just figured...if magic won't work, maybe force would
Drak:  And you were right.
Parekh:  What kind of portal won't open with a spell of knocking,
  but will open if you push on it?
Mongo:  Well, remember that I've got the strength of a giant here,
  and even then it wasn't easy...
Drak:  Plus, the doors are huge.
Parekh:  That might explain the failure of the knock spell...
Belphanior:  (rubbing his temples)  Dammit.  I'm getting a serious
Mongo:  No worries.  We got the door open, so now all we have to do
  is figure out how to move on from here.
Ys:  This chamber has no exits.
Boltar:  None that we can see, anyway.
Bosco:  Maybe the way out - err, onward - is beneath that big statue
  of the dog, there.
Belphanior:  (eyes the halfling)
Otto:  (shrugs)  It'd be as good a place as any.
Belphanior:  Okay.  Let's check it out...everyone, stay sharp.  That
  statue looks like exactly the sort of thing that'd come to life and
  attack us.
Mongo:  (hefts Stormcrest)  I, for one, am ready.
Gorgo:  (raises his spiked mace)  Me too!
Skektek:  (still covering the big statue with his wand)  Yep.

  They converged on the cylindrical chamber's center, where the black
stone statue rested, in a pose that suggested its readiness to attack
as well as its savagery.

Otto:  I'll tell you one thing:  whoever put this monstrosity here sure
  wasn't aiming to fool anybody.

next:      will it attack, or is it just a damn statue?
released:  3/8/01
notes:     Hah.

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