Chapter #769

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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      15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+     Otto          10th/12th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+     Razor Charlie 10th level human fighter                              +
+     Skektek       13th level human wizard                               +
+     Ys            14th level reptilian fighter                          +
+                                                                         +
+   summoned monstrous allies:                                            +
+     drider (3)                                                          +
+     giant spiders (4)                                                   +
+   Date:           4/27/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the depths of the Fortress of the Nine                +
+   Climate:        cool and dry                                          +
+   "The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy."              +
+                                                    - Von Clausewitz     +

                      DCCLXIX.  Extreme Force

  The adventurers have gained entry into a lower level of the fortress,
but they now face a new challenge...

Belphanior:  (standing near the double doors on the cavern's far side,
  he concentrates)  Hmm.
Otto:  What?
Belphanior:  Not only do I detect souls - and lots of them - beyond
  these doors, but I hear noise.  Defenses are being set up out there.
Otto:  What do we do, then?  We need to act quickly, but not stupidly.
Skektek:  A fireball-
Belphanior:  These are drow.  They have magic resistance and other ways
  to turn back our spells.  No, what we need here is a forceful physical
  solution.  (he eyes the monsters he just summoned)

  The three drider - half-spider, half-drow abominations native to the
Underdark - were decent fighting forces, as were the four huge spiders.
It seemed that summoning spells in this part of the world brought forth
monsters native to the area, in this case various natural denizens of
the Underdark.

Belphanior:  (shaking his head)  It's got to be something more powerful.
  (he opens the Book of Beasts again)  Everyone, get ready for battle.
  I'm going to try and summon something that will give us the shock
  value and brute force that we need to minimize the usefulness of dark
  elven magic.

  Everyone did what they had to do to prepare.  Otto loaded a poisoned
bolt into his crossbow.  Razor Charlie checked his throwing knives and
cracked his knuckles and grimaced a lot.  Skektek fiddled with his
wands, trying to decide how to most efficiently wipe out the most foes
in the least time.  Ys simply rested against a wall, his gigantic sword
propped up next to him.  The spiders and drider fidgeted, perhaps aware
of their role in the inevitable upcoming battle.
  And Belphanior worked a mighty spell of summoning, one of the more
powerful incantations contained within the ancient Book of Beasts.  The
cavern floor trembled slightly, and a small crack appeared in its center,
which just happened to be the direction Belphanior was facing as he cast
the spell.  Everyone - adventurer and monster alike - backed away from
what was obviously the focal point of whatever was about to happen.

Belphanior:  (completes his spell, clenching one fist as a loud CRACK
  comes from the floor before him)

  A huge, dull purple head broke through the floor.  The head was all
teeth, a toothy maw large enough to swallow a horse whole.

purple worm:  RRAAAAAAARGH!
Belphanior:  (smiling, pleased)  Oh, yes.  This will do nicely.  (to
  the others)  Better back out of the way.  This is it.  (to the worm,
  which understands him thanks to the power of the book)  Go through
  that door and devour whoever you find.

  The purple worm didn't have to be told twice.  It was hungry and it
was angry, somehow sensing in its primal mind that it wasn't supposed
to be here right now.  More and more of its long body emerged from the
hole in the floor as it shot toward the double doors.

Ys:  (alarmed at the sheer size of the thing)  Good lord.

  The worm smashed through the doors as if they weren't even there, the
passage of its huge bulk cracking the stone of the doorway.  Judging by
the surprised and horrified cries from beyond, the still-unseen foes
hadn't expected anything like this.  Magical barriers designed to stop
missiles were useless against the worm.  Symbols intended to warp the
thoughts and chill the souls of attackers didn't work on a monster that
had no rational mind.  Magic missiles and flaming arrows and poisoned
bolts didn't even faze the purple worm.  More powerful spells never had
time to be cast, as they were interrupted and ruined by the tumultuous
approach of the monster.

purple worm:  (rockets through the passage beyond the doors, scooping
  up screaming drow in its maw)  RAAAARGH!

  Body parts and weapons fell everywhere, the passage slick with blood
in the worm's wake.  As for the invading adventurers who waited in the
previous cavern...after more than a hundred feet of tubular body had
passed by, they found themselves once more alone.

Belphanior:  Let's go mop up.  Quick and neat - no survivors.

  The chamber directly beyond the cavern was big, over a hundred feet on
a side, and appeared to have been the site of a well-organized defensive
gathering.  All of that was shattered now, and only dead and dying drow
remained.  Of course, such foes were still dangerous...

drow missing one leg:  (writhing on the floor, he tries to aim his hand
  crossbow at the adventurers)
Razor Charlie:  (settles the matter with a single hurled knife)
other drow:  (staggering around in a daze)
Otto:  (puts a poisoned bolt through that foe's throat)
drow:  Urk!  (he falls)

  Beyond this room was a wide passage that appeared to go on for almost
two hundred feet before opening into a larger area; the purple worm was
down there somewhere, as evidenced by the din that could be heard from
that direction.  Halfway down the wide passage were a smaller double
door on the left and a single one on the right; both of these portals
were too small to attract the worm's notice.  The double doors were
ajar, though, and a dark elf barracks lay beyond.  Weapons and armor
were scattered about.  A single drow was sitting on the floor there,
cradling a broken and bleeding arm.

drow:  (looks up, cursing, and tries to get to his feet)
Belphanior:  (steps forward quickly)  Nothing personal.  (he neatly
  dispatches the wounded foe with a sword-thrust to the throat)  Ahhhh.

  The elf was now fully healed from his earlier wounds, and felt as if
he could take on an army.

Belphanior:  (to the spiders and drider)  Go that way.  (he points down
  the wide passage, where the purple worm went)  Kill any drow you find.
  No survivors.
spiders and drider:  (scurry off to obey these orders)
Otto:  (checking the other door, crossbow ready)  And what's in here?
Skektek:  Cell block, looks like.

  It was, and several of the cells held weak-looking humans; another had
a wounded drider.

drider:  Eh?  (speaking in the drow tongue, which Belphanior can still
  understand since his spell hasn't worn off, it faces the elf)  Free
Belphanior:  Why should I?
drider:  I will show you everything here...all of their chambers...their
  secret passages...
Belphanior:  Hmm.
man in cell:  Don't listen to that one!  He's lying - he'll stab you in
  the back first chance he gets!
Belphanior:  But does he have any information we can use...?  Hmm.
other man in cell:  Free us, too!
Belphanior:  Not a good idea.  It's not safe around here right now, and
  you're better off in here, where nothing can get you.
third man:  I can hardly believe that.  Surely we can come with you-
Belphanior:  We're heading off to play with fireballs and monsters that
  can eat a house in one bite.  It's not safe.  (he has an idea)  Hmmm.
  Charlie!  Get some of the swords and crossbows from that barracks.  Ys,
  free these people.
Ys:  (grabs the first cell's door, then tears it from its hinges)
first man:  Aie.
Ys:  (removes the other cells' doors, freeing all four prisoners)  And
  the spider-man?
Belphanior:  Free him, too.  (to the four men)  Go in that other room and
  get some armor and weapons, and do it fast.  We're moving in moments.
Otto:  (keeps his crossbow trained on the drider as Ys opens its cell)
Belphanior:  (to the drider)  Start talking.  You can fill me in while
  we're moving.

next:      further carnage
released:  11/27/01
notes:     I have been releasing a lot of stories pretty fast, lately.
  This doesn't mean I've made it to 800, I just want to be set up for
  the right release pace, should I make it to 800 in time.

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