Chapter #722

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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:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          a cavern within an isle amidst the Solnor Ocean       +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "He who can destroy a thing controls that thing."                     +
+                                                        - from _Dune_    +

               DCCXXII.  Three Heads Are Better Than One

  After some battle with a gigantic three-headed hound, the party finds
itself in a less-than-ideal position, many of its members stunned or

Otto:  (looking around)  Hey, where's Belphanior?

  Suddenly, the hound's middle head jerked convulsively, a dark blade
jutting out beneath its chin.  Belphanior became visible, his hands atop
the sword's pommel, having driven it in all the way to the hilt.

Belphanior:  Die, damn you!  Die!

  The elf had been flying and invisible; rather than hovering above the
beast and waiting for an ideal moment - and risking the thing picking
up his scent - he'd flown straight downward, taking his chances, and
come out ahead.  Now, he straddled the neck behind the hound's central
head, gripping his sword's hilt.

Belphanior:  (gets a "what the hell do I do NOW" look on his face)
gigantic hound:  RRRRRRR!  (unable to open that head's jaws at all, it
  bleeds profusely)

  The monster began bucking and twisting its body, trying to throw the
elf off.  At first, Belphanior was able to hang on, but his hands were
slick with blood, and just like that, he found himself sailing through
the chamber.

Belphanior:  (lands about twenty feet away)  Unf!
Mongo:  Charge!  Get the thing!
Drak:  (collapses suddenly, dropping his mallet)  Urgh.
Mongo:  Shit.

  The dwarf hurled Stormcrest once more, smashing the monster in the same
flank where both his and Drak's previous blows had landed.  This had the
desired effect:  the hound backed up a few steps, howling and obviously
hurting, which paved the way for some other attacks...

Jutokai:  (using one of his more powerful magical arrows, he takes
  another shot at the hound)
hound's head #1:  (the only undamaged one, it snarls as the arrow lodges
  in its neck)  GRRRARGH!
Jutokai:  (pumps his fist in the air)  Hah!
Otto:  Let's try something new.  (he hurls a flask of oil at the monster,
  the bottle shattering and dousing the thing in oil)  Skektek?
Skektek:  (still lying on the floor nearby, shivering)
Otto:  Damn, forgot about that.  Skektek usually lights the enemy up for
Parekh:  I'll handle it.  (her hands burst into flames)  The beast may
  be immune to spells themselves, but I'm betting that the magic will
  still ignite oil splashed on it...

  A sheet of flames leapt from her hands to the hound, and suddenly, it
was ablaze!

gigantic hound:  YOWWWWW!
Mongo:  Pour it on!  (he edges closer, throwing his warhammer again and
  actually knocking the beast off its feet)
gigantic hound:  OWWWWW!  OWOWOWWWWWWWW!
Parekh:  (animates a section of the stone floor successfully, causing it
  to form into a crude fist that stretches up and pummels the hound)  At
  last, some real magical help for you warriors.
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Good work...for a wizard!
Parekh:  (gives the dwarf an evil look)
Mongo:  Hah!  (he charges at the hound, determined to finish this before
  the thing can regenerate its wounds)

  Meanwhile, Boltar had recovered from the choking gas, just enough to
crawl over to Drak.  The high priest had his strange healing-rod out,
and he touched the barbarian on the forehead with the item, a soft glow
passing from rod to man.  Even Neera made herself useful, trying to
revive Gorgo, who was dazed amd coughing a lot.  The noxious gas had
dispersed by now, revealing that Ys and Razor Charlie were alive, if
apparently unconscious....

Ys:  (sits up, puking some green bile onto the floor)  Ugh.

  It fell to Mongo to carry the battle; by the time Parekh's fist of
stone had hit the wounded hound again, Mongo had smashed it twice and
was about to do it a third time.

gigantic hound:  (vanishes suddenly, leaving Blackrazor to fall to the
  floor with a clatter)
Mongo:  Hey!  Where'd it go?
Parekh:  (looks around, alarmed)  Where indeed?
Bosco:  I was just about to slay it!  (he flies down, intending to pick
  up Blackrazor)
Belphanior:  (steps in front of the halfling, retrieving his own sword)
  Hands off, Bosco.
Bosco:  But-
Belphanior:  No.  (he hefts the black sword)  Nobody but me touches
  this blade.

  There was no sign of the huge hound, so they regrouped and took count
of their injuries.  Drak lived, almost certainly thanks to Boltar's
efforts.  The hound's teeth had dripped with poison, and presumably
only Drak's size and bodyweight had kept him alive long enough for
the venom to be neutralized.  Those who had breathed the green gas -
Boltar, Ys, Gorgo, and Razor Charlie - were recovering, the stinging
and blinding effects of that noxious vapor only temporary.  Those hit
by the black gas - Skektek and Zhao - were weak and chilled, but they
both seemed to be gaining their strength back, if slowly.

Parekh:  Did we kill it?
Mongo:  As hard as I was hitting it, and as many times...yeah, I have to
  think so.
Belphanior:  (spots a small statuette of black stone on the floor right
  where the beast vanished)  Hmm.  (he picks it up)

  The elf was holding a miniature stone likeness of the monster they'd
just fought!  About three inches long, its detail was extraordinary.

Belphanior:  (wondering to himself)  Hmmm.
Bosco:  (checking the area around the stairway for further prizes, he
  finds nothing but bits of bone and flakes of long-rotted cloth)
Mongo:  (examining the niche beneath the hound's initial location, when
  it was but a stone statue)  We should get going.
Parekh:  Let the wounded and winded rest for a bit.
Mongo:  (peering into the stairway longingly)  ...okay.
Bosco:  I wonder what's down there?
Mongo:  Treasure and monsters...what more could anyone ask for?
Ys:  A lack of poisonous gas, to start with.
Otto:  Are you okay?  I've never seen you get sick like that.
Ys:  (shrugs)  Most things affect me less than they do humans or other
  such races.  Sometimes, other things affect me more.
Gorgo:  (actually wondering why he didn't puke)
Boltar:  (feeling a lot better now, he casts a spell of healing upon
Drak:  Ahh, thanks.
Parekh:  (touching the bloody, crude bandages that were hastily wrapped
  around the barbarian's side)  Are you sure you're fit to fight?
Drak:  Yes.  (he pulls the bandages off, revealing freshly-knit skin
  and a lot of dried blood)  Just another set of scars.
Parekh:  Someday, we're going to find you a suit or armor that grows
  along with you.
Drak:  Good luck.  Until then, I'll have to make do.
Mongo:  If we're not going down, let's at least send a small team to
Belphanior:  (nods)  I think we're ready...(he looks around, getting
  no complaints)
Mongo:  All right!  (he, and all of the others, turn their attention
  to the stairs that lead down into darkness)

next:      some mysteries
released:  3/15/01
notes:     That's right, they're not even in the Tomb proper yet!  This
  was just an antechamber.

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