Chapter #828

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2004 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!                                          +
+   Belphanior     15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Otto           10th/12th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  10th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   Date:          5/22/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          evening                                                +
+   Place:         unknown                                                +
+   Climate:       chilly                                                 +
+   "A warrior is not a mountain goat.  It is well to remember this."     +
+                                             - from _An Eye For An Eye_  +

                    DCCCXXVIII.  Piqued in the Peaks

  The adventurers have used another gateway and arrived in an irregular

Elgon:  Hmm, that's odd.
Otto:  What?
Elgon:  (walks over to the cavern wall across from the gateway arch)
Belphanior:  Yeah...(he follows the gnome, his crystal eye glowing)  the
  rest of you, check and secure this room.
Razor Charlie:  (begins walking the perimeter of the cavern, twirling a
  knife in one hand)
wispy thing:  (flying merrily around on its own)  pffft.
Elgon:  (pointing at the wall)  This section's different somehow...
Ys:  An illusion?  Or is it magical?
Elgon:  No and no.  It's just...unusual.  (he examines the rock, poking
  and prodding with his gnarled fingers)
Jenna:  (casts a spell to divine for evil, magic, or traps in the entire
Skektek:  (checks the gateway's dial and begins taking notes)
Ys:  (helps Charlie scout the room)

  The scouting didn't take long, nor did Jenna's divinations.  Both gave
the same result:  besides the gateway and the section of wall that Elgon
was checking, there was absolutely nothing of interest in this place.

Otto:  No way....there's no way the lich built one of these places and
  put a gateway in it, only to have it go nowhere.
Belphanior:  Agreed.  Elgon, what do you think?
Elgon:  This stone - this one section of stone - is a door, and there's
  something behind it.  We just have to figure out how to get to it.
Belphanior:  A spell of digging, maybe.
Skektek:  (done taking notes on the gateway, he trots over)  Or one to
  just pass through the wall.
Elgon:  Aha.  (he points to a spot on the wall)  There.  Ys, we'll need
  your strength here.
Ys:  (lumbers over to the rock face)  Certainly.
Elgon:  Just push, right along here...yes.

  As the reptilian pushed on the wall, bringing his great strength to
bear, it gave way!  One section moved outward, as another nearby section
moved inward - it was a pivoting door, with a vertical axis as its
center.  Behind the rotating door was a ten-foot-by-ten-foot passage.

Ys:  Clever.  It merged perfectly with the rock around it.
Otto:  Blended in perfectly.
Elgon:  Expert stonemasons can build portals like this.  It's really just
  a trick door...concealed, but not magical or trapped.
Belphanior:  Then why didn't I see it with this eye?
Elgon:  Not all things that are hidden are hidden in ways you'd expect.
  Every part of this door's mechanism is made of stone, with no open
  sections or hollow points.  It actually doesn't qualify as a hidden
  door at all, in a sense.
Belphanior:  Hmm.
Elgon:  Besides, you _did_ detect it, after a fashion, since you sensed
  that something was amiss.
Belphanior:  True, I guess.  Anyway.  (he draws his sword and enters the

  The corridor extended about fifty feet, and had two side passages on
the left and two on the right, as well as a larger door straight ahead,
at its end.  The side passages only extended ten feet before opening into
new chambers, and these were quickly, efficiently explored.  One seemed
to be some kind of meeting room, containing a thick wooden table, a dozen
chairs, and stacks of maps of the Flanaess.

Otto:  A lounge, or a planning room.
Razor Charlie:  War room.
Skektek:  These maps show details of various kingdoms and cities.  It'd
  take hours to fully check them all out, though.
Belphanior:  We'll have to come back to that.  The other rooms might hold
  more pressing things.

  The second room was identical in size to the first - a thirty-foot-by-
twenty-foot rectangular room - and held nothing except dozens of wooden
barrels.  These were lined up in neat rows against all of the chamber's

Ys:  Someone has even been so kind as to label these for us.
Otto: water.
Jenna:  Hmm.
Skektek:  (examining one cask)  Sticky fire?  Hmm, that has potential.
Belphanior:  A storeroom of some sort.  Maybe these things are magically
Elgon:  (raps on several of them)  They're all full, anyway.
wispy thing:  (flies into the space between two of the barrels)  fssss.
Razor Charlie:  (bored, he begins to wonder what's in the other rooms)

  The third chamber was a bit longer, and to either side were racks
mounted on the walls.  These held several dozen suits of plate mail
armor, complete with helms.

Otto:  (regards the gleaming suits of armor)  Whoa.  They're just like
Elgon:  Unusual, when you consider that the rest of this place seems
  undisturbed.  (he wipes the floor with his finger, then holds it up,
  displaying a thick layer of dust)
Razor Charlie:  (wondering if the armor-suits might animate and attack
  the adventurers)
Belphanior:  They're magical, but not evil, or trapped.  Jenna?
Jenna:  (nods)  Every single one is faintly magical, but not excessive
  in its aura.  This is someone's armor locker.
Otto:  If you need thirty or forty suits of basic magic armor.
Elgon:  How are we going to fit all of those in that portable hole?
Belphanior:  We're not.
Elgon:  Oh.
Belphanior:  There's no reason to take these.  (he looks around)  Unless
  any of you prefer to wear plate mail?  No?  Then maybe we could sell
  it all for money...but do we need any money?  No?  Then why bother?
Elgon:  Good point.
Belphanior:  This will all be here later if we want to come back, or if
  we find someone who needs this many suits of magic plate mail.  Until
  then, I want to leave some open space for treasure I can use.

  The fourth room was completely empty, which drove several of them
crazy, necessitating thorough examination of the entire
no avail.  It was simply a small, empty area.
  This left the main passage, which ended in a solid wall.  To its right
was a large iron lever set into a vertical slot; this handle was in the
"down" position.  After checking it for traps (it had none) they opted
to pull it upward and see what happened.

Elgon:  (feeling the stone of the wall)  I sense a larger, open space
  somewhere ahead.
Belphanior:  My eye can't make anything of all this, other than some
  smaller, hollow spaces behind this.  Everyone get ready and be alert,
  because here we go...(he grabs the lever, breathes deeply, and pulls
  it up)

  The chamber rumbled as a ten-foot-wide, five-foot-thick section of
stone began moving upward, slowly vanishing into the surrounding rock.
A cold breeze blew in from beyond, and any thoughts of some huge cavern
were dispelled by the fresh air that blew into the chamber...and the
crescent moon visible in the sky.

Belphanior:  We're outside.  (he takes a cautious step forward)

  The doorway opened directly onto the steep slope of a mountain!  Given
the darkness, it was hard to tell how high up they were, but the cold and
wind suggested a considerable altitude.

Skektek:  (to Ys)  At least there's no snow and ice.
Ys:  True, although we won't be climbing down from here without help.
Otto:  (looks down, and up)  I bet that from a birds-eye view of this
  mountainside from afar, we're just a speck.
Belphanior:  Maybe we should come back out here in the daytime, when we
  can see what's what.

  Some, however, were less interested in their exact whereabouts, and
more interested in the mechanism that opened the thick stone door...

Elgon:'s a stonemasons' masterwork!
Jenna:  How so?
Elgon:  What we've got here is basically an impenetrable wall that moves
  out of the way - without any magic!
Skektek:  How?
Elgon:  I'd guess a system of pulleys, counterweights...the main thing
  is, since it's not magic and it's not a normal thin door, there's no
  way anyone from outside could find it.  I'd bet it's a perfect fit with
  the surrounding rock of the mountainside.
Belphanior:  Which brings up the question - again - of why Xusia built
  gateways and hideaways in the middle of nowhere, without any apparent
  way to walk out...much less have somewhere to walk out _to_.
Otto:  Maybe he was going to bring in mining crews, later on.
Belphanior:  Maybe.  (he looks around)
Jenna:  (about to say something)
Belphanior:  I know, I know.  (to everyone)  Let's explore this exit more
  in the morning.  We need rest, and we're in a fairly safe place once we
  close the big door.  We'll make camp here tonight, post guards on the
  gateway, and look around some more in the morning.

next:      choices
released:  7/9/04
notes:     Rather than keep printing updated copies of Skektek's gateway
  list in new episodes, I've put one online for you to check.  It's on
  the site at and as of right now
  it's current through this story.

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