Chapter #774

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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 allies:                                                      +
+     animated stone warriors (20)                                        +
+                                                                         +
+   others along for the ride:                                            +
+     human ex-prisoners (2)                                              +
+   Date:           4/27/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the depths of the Fortress of the Nine                +
+   Climate:        cool and dry                                          +
+   "You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going,          +
+    because you might not get there."                                    +
+                                                          - Yogi Berra   +

                 DCCLXXIV.  Riot in the Dungeon

  After some exploration and battle, Belphanior's group is ascending yet
another stairway to a new level...

Otto:  (in the lead, he motions the others to stay back, then dashes
  upward himself)
Skektek:  (wondering what the dwarf is up to)
freed prisoner:  (just looking confused)

  Otto made his way, quickly but cautiously, to the top of the stairs.
Keeping to the shadows, he quickly assessed the situation:  all-out
chaos.  Dozens of soldiers were running by, and shouted orders could
barely be heard over all the other noise.  Otto backed up, not wanting
to risk being spotted.  He figured that all of this troop movement was
in response to the battle raging outside the fortress; hell, for all
the adventurers knew, the attacking forces were beating at the door even
now.  The dwarf hastily backtracked, and when he rejoined the others, he
used basic hand signals to let Belphanior know what was going on.

Belphanior:  Hmm.

  The elf didn't want to advance into a bad situation, but at the same
time, they needed to find their quarry, the lich Xusia.  The enchanted
statuette given to Belphanior pointed this way - up the stairs and then
who knew where - and there really weren't any other options.

Belphanior:  (joins Otto and leads the party upward, motioning the non-
  thieves to stay back a bit)

  Soon reaching the top of the stairway, Belphanior and Otto watched as
the number of armed passers-by lessened, then dwindled, and finally
ceased altogether, at least for the moment.

Belphanior:  Now or never.  (he enters the main passage, followed by the

  The stone warriors made quite a bit of noise as they marched up the
last of the steps, but there was enough racket in general to cover this
up...or so the adventurers hoped.

Skektek:  Well, look at it this way:  their noise is nothing compared to
  the commotion the purple worm made.
Otto:  Guess there's a bright side to everything.
Belphanior:  (holds up the ruby-eyed figurine, seeking guidance)

  They were standing in a fairly long passageway, and directly across
from the stairs was a large barracks, presumably the source of all the
soldiers who'd recently passed this way.  Those men had gone to the
right, so naturally the adventurers went left.

Skektek:  Uh...isn't your statue pointing you in the other direction?
Belphanior:  Yeah, but it won't hurt to give those troops a little time
  to get wherever they're I hear a din ahead and I want to
  know what it is before we cut ourselves off from our only sure escape
Ys:  The stairway?  That is far from a sure escape route.
Belphanior:  Our best escape route, then.
Skektek:  Barring magic, anyway.
Razor Charlie:  (cocks an ear)  Hear that?
Otto:  Shit, yeah, I do.

  There was definitely a lot of noise to the left, and it was definitely
getting louder, fast.

Belphanior:  Uh-oh.
Skektek:  (begins working a spell)

  Just like that, they began appearing, about a hundred feet down the
passage:  humanoids, and lots of them.  This force was a mix of several
different races and sizes, consisting mostly of goblins and orcs but
with a number of gnolls and bugbears behind them.  The humanoids had
simply been marching from one place to another, but when they found the
intruders in-between, they began unlimbering bows and spears in a hurry.

gnoll:  (hurls a spear, hitting a stone warrior in the chest)
stone warrior:  (staggers, then stands again)
orc:  (fires his shortbow, sending an arrow whizzing by Otto's head)
Otto:  Hey!
Skektek:  My turn.  (he launches a fireball at the distant foes)

  The humanoids realized immediately what was going to happen to them,
but there was nothing they could do about it.  The fiery missile arced
past and over them, landing within the large chamber where that part of
the hallway ended.  The blast shook the surrounding dungeon, knocking
almost everyone down.  Most of the humanoids were incinerated instantly,
though those closest to the adventurers were blown toward the latter as
a wave of heat fanned out from the explosion.  This died out before it
reached the invaders, though, and they were merely hit with hot air.

Otto:  (covering his face)
Skektek:  The room beyond must not be as big as I'd hoped.
Ys:  Some of the foes yet live.  (he hefts his sword)
Belphanior:  (to the stone warriors)  March that way and destroy those
stone warriors:  (shuffling past the adventurers, they quickly form the
  party's new front rank, advancing in unison)

  The score or so of humanoids who survived couldn't stand against the
rocky foes, though the first few tried.  After that, the foes retreated
into the larger area - a mess hall with a high ceiling, though that
(and its walls and floor) were blackened and smoking, the temperature
incredibly hot.  In the center of one wall of this chamber were a wide
set of steps leading up, and it was here that the humanoids chose to
make their last stand.

gnoll:  (brings an axe down on a stony warrior, chipping part of its
  head away)
stony warrior:  (strikes back with rocky fist, crushing the gnoll's
bugbear:  (trying to knock a stony warrior back using a large shield)
stony warrior:  (bashes the shield, denting it)
orc:  (uses a spear to try and push another stony warrior back and down
  the steps)
stony warrior:  (loses its footing, and due to its great weight, it
  does indeed fall backwards, knocking down three of its fellows as it
other orcs:  (cheer)


Otto:  Should we get involved?
Belphanior:  No, save your strength.  We might-

  There was a loud metallic sound from the direction the adventurers
had come.

Skektek:  Huh-


Otto:  What the hell?


Belphanior:  Whatever it is, it's getting closer.


Razor Charlie:  Footsteps.
Ys:  But what makes footsteps that sound like that?
Otto:  We're about to find out, whether we like it or not.
Skektek:  (points his fire-wand at the archway where the passage opens
  into this hall)


Belphanior:  I have a bad feeling about this.

  They could only watch as a gigantic iron figure burst into the room,
tearing off part of the entryway in the process.  The thing was an iron
golem, that much was certain - but it was fully 15' tall, and had four
arms, each bearing a huge iron weapon.

four-armed iron golem:  BRAAAAAK!  (it immediately advances toward the

next:      conjunction
released:  12/5/01
notes:     Really soon here, I'll need to get all the players on the board
  at the same time.  It could be challenging but it's the only way this
  thing can end.

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