Chapter #726

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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                          +
+                                                                         +
+   allies summoned by Belphanior:                                        +
+     orc                                                                 +
+     giant frog                                                          +
+   Date:           the week between 3/579 and 4/579 C.Y. (Common Year)   +
+   Time:           indeterminate                                         +
+   Place:          a cavern within an isle amidst the Solnor Ocean       +
+   Climate:        mild                                                  +
+   "You boys never should have been doing this."                         +
+                                   - from _Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2_    +

                    DCCXXVI.  Trouble Comes in Twos

  While most of the party stayed to examine some carvings, an intrepid
few went ahead to scout...

giant frog:  (leading the way, it daydreams of giant flies)  Ribbit.
orc:  (leading the way, a dull shortsword grasped in its hand)  Too dark.
  Can't see good.
Zhao:  (moves along right behind the monsters, both swords held ready)
  Our companion has a point.  I was used to having that priest's light-
  sphere with us.
Skektek:  (sighs, casting a spell of light upon the orc's battered helm)
orc:  Aie!
Zhao:  (nods)  Much better.
Jutokai:  (keeping an arrow nocked, he marches behind the swordsman from
  the far West)
Razor Charlie:  (bringing up the rear, a throwing knife in each hand)

  The passage sloped downward, taking them out of sight of the others
and raising some doubts...

Jutokai:  We've got no priest and no far do we want to go
  on our own?  (he looks back, confirming that the slope of the passage
  has brought them out of sight of the main party)
Skektek:  I can't vouch for thieves and trap-finding, but I think we're
  fine in the "raw power" department...
Zhao:  (to Razor Charlie)  What do you think?
Razor Charlie:  (shrugs)

  While talking, they had also been edging slowly forward, and now found
themselves at the entrance to a large chamber...a really large chamber.

Skektek:  Damned if this isn't the biggest area yet.

  No door separated the passage from the vast hall ahead; the former
simply opened into the latter.  The hall had to be at least two hundred
feet wide and twice that long.  Its ceiling, well over a hundred feet
high, was supported by two rows of thick stone columns.

        |                                        |             |_ = 20'
        |                                        |
        |    *    *    *    *    *    *    *     |
        |                                        |
    ____|                                        |
    ____                                         {
        |                                        |
        |                                        |
        |    *    *    *    *    *    *    *     |
        |                                        |

  Each of the columns was greater than ten feet thick, and through its
intricate carvings bore the shape of some great figure.  Some had the
appearance of gods or goddesses, while others depicted fearsome beasts
that defied description.  The base of each column bore deep inscriptions
whose characters were like those in the previous area.
  The great hall's floor was fashioned of huge flagstones or various
rare and precious stone:  ebony, lapis lazuli, red marble, ivory, and
so on.  Some of the stone was unlike any they'd ever seen before.  The
ceiling of this place was arched, its stone carved into strange and
terrible shapes that couldn't quite be made out from floor level.  It
looked as if the ceiling was one huge sculpture showing some monumental
scene, but to be sure, someone would have to fly up and have a closer
look.  As for the huge chamber's walls, they were covered in the faded
remains of painted frescoes, like the other area explored earlier this
day.  Very little of these artworks' detail was left, making it quite
impossible to tell what they had once depicted.

Skektek:  (to the giant frog and the orc)  You should check this place
  out...go see what those columns have to offer.

  The summoned monsters obeyed, entering the room and following Skektek's
orders.  No traps were sprung, however, and no monsters leapt out to the

Jutokai:  Look there, at the far end of the hall...
Razor Charlie:  (grunts)
Zhao:  A door.
Skektek:  Five gets you ten that there's some trap or other nastiness
  between here and that door.  (he beckons to the orc)  See that door
  across the way, there?  I think it leads out of here, but you should
  go and make sure.
orc:  (relieved, he heads that way, followed cautiously by the others)
Skektek:  (to the giant frog)  Go.  Follow him.
giant frog:  (just sits there, staring at the wizard)
Skektek:  (gesturing impatiently to the orc's back)  Go!
giant frog:  (blinks, then hops off after the orc)  Ribbit.

  Behind the two expendable scouts, the four adventurers spread out, to
minimize the ill effects of anything that might happen.  It was no trap,
however, that was triggered as the orc neared the far door.  Rather, a
huge form stepped out of the column nearest to the orc, appearing from
the stone itself by some unknown but magical means!

red stone golem:  (lumbers toward the orc)
orc:  Ack!  (he backs away)
bronze golem:  (appears from the opposite column, its feet resounding on
  the stone floor)
giant frog:  (hops back)  Ribbit!

  Skektek, for one, had been ready for something like this.  His thunder
ring emitted a tremendous bolt of lightning, catching the red stone
golem squarely in the chest and knocking it all the way back against the
far wall.

red stone golem:  <thump>
Jutokai:  (fires an arrow at the bronze golem)
bronze golem:  (nicked by the missile, it keeps coming)
giant frog:  Ribbit!  (it turns and hops away)
orc:  (trips and falls)  Aaa!  Help!
bronze golem:  (strides by, one heavy metal foot stepping on the orc's
  head, smashing it to paste)
Jutokai:  (fires another arrow, which bounces from the golem's metallic
  skin)  Damn!
bronze golem:  (just keeps on coming)
red stone golem:  (gets back up and heads for the adventurers, its steps
  shaking the floor and resounding in the vast hallway)
Zhao:  How can we fight opponents such as these?
Belphanior:  (bursts into the room, at the east end)  What the hell's
  going on here?
Skektek:  Golem troubles.
Otto:  (also arrives in the chamber)  How the hell did you guys get
  yourselves into this?
Zhao:  (points at the slain orc's remains)  He did it.
giant frog:  (hops past Belphanior)  Ribbit.  (it heads back the way
  they came, toward Parekh and the others)
Mongo:  (running fill-tilt, he collides with the frog, bouncing off and
  thus entering this chamber face-down on the ground)  Dammit!
Gorgo:  (darts past the frog, somehow narrowly missing it, and barrels
  into the hall, spiked mace ready)  What's-  Hey!  Living statues!

  Even as they readied weapons and spells against the advance of the two
golems, another pair appeared from the next two columns, toward the far
end of the chamber.

black, oily golem:  (glides along the floor, leaving a black trail in
  its wake)
crystalline golem:  (glitters and sparkles as it advances)

next:      an intermission, as we look in again on the Crimson Blades
released:  3/29/01
notes:     Very, very busy.  I wish I could write better-paced stories
  but the sad truth is that I haven't written a new story for a few
  months, instead living off of my savings, so to speak.

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