Chapter #864

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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!                                          +
+   Alindyar        18th level drow wizard                                +
+   Bosco           13th level halfling thief                             +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven warrior                            +
+                                                                         +
+   summoned allies:                                                      +
+                                                                         +
+   Host of Kaloth (only those summoned, not the complete set)            +
+     black bishop  gaunt, bearded high priest                            +
+     black knight  jet-black horse with sharp hooves and fire-breath     +
+     white rook    10' ivory golem with shortsword                       +
+     black rook    8' ebony golem with spiked fists                      +
+     2 white pawns white-armored warriors with longswords                +
+     2 black pawns black-armored warriors with spiked maces              +
+   Date:           1/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           indeterminate, probably late morning                  +
+   Place:          the depths of the vacant fortress of Greyspire        +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Are you ready?"                                                      +
+   "I'm always ready."                                                   +
+                   - Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, from _The A-Team_    +

                  DCCCLXIV.  The Royalty of Kaloth

  The demon-battle is in full swing, as casualties mount for both sides.
In fact, the white bishop has just been eaten by the demon lordling...

white bishop:  (chewed up and swallowed, he vanishes, and is reborn
  somewhere nearby as a chess-piece)
black bishop:  (solemnly)  Until next time, brother.
N'Gasai:  URP.  (he turns to the drow)  YOU CAN HIDE IN THAT BUBBLE, BUT
  YOU'RE NOT SAFE.  (he lumbers toward them, the floor shaking with every
  step)  WEAPONS!  (he holds out both hands, and his great black sword
  and red whip sail through the air into his grip)
Mongo:  Hmph.
Bosco:  (appears at the double doors)  Enough.
N'Gasai:  (laughs, loudly and deeply)  A GREAT JEST, PUNY ONE.
Bosco:  It's no jest.  (he half-turns his head)  Now!

  A dozen more warriors - six in shining white armor, six in jet-black
armor - charged out, moving out to protect the black bishop and the drow.

black pawn #1:  (pleased to see his companions, he suddenly frowns,
  muttering)  Where is our queen?

  Almost on cue, a monstrous form slithered out of the double doors,
almost knocking the startled Bosco aside.  It was a naga - a gigantic
hybrid of snake and woman, and meaner than the worst of both.  Worse,
this particular specimen was much, much larger than any other of its
kind, measuring a full fifty feet long.  The naga had the body of a
gigantic serpent, its scales alternating black and crimson; this was
topped with the oversized head of a human female.  The head was that
of a cruel woman with pointed ears, sharp teeth, and lidless, glowing
red eyes.  The monster reeked of rotting flesh, and appeared to be
rather angry.

death naga:  (looks around, sizing up the situation, her face leering
  evilly at everyone)
death naga:  (coils her body, then spits a gigantic glob of acid at the
  huge demon, dousing him in sizzling green spittle)
N'Gasai:  AAAAARGH!  (he begins flailing wildly)
death naga:  (uncoils, savagely launching herself at the demon)
Mongo:  Fuckin' a!  (he hurls Stormcrest, hitting N'Gasai's sword-hand
  and causing him to drop the huge black blade, just as the gigantic
  naga reaches him, her fangs biting into his neck, her powerful body
  coiling around his body and pinning his whip-arm)

  As the demon and the naga fell to the floor, struggling, Mongo caught
his hammer - only to watch in awe as yet other members of the Host of
Kaloth issued forth to join the fray!

Mongo:  What the-

  As with all chess sets, the artifact created by Kaloth in ages past
had _two_ queens, as well as two kings.  Three other creatures of great
power followed the death naga into battle.

black king:  (a huge cyclops, it lumbers forth, its head scraping the
  ceiling until it gets past the outer edge of the cavern)
white king:  (a gleaming iron golem with built-in, forged weapons - an
  axe and a hammer - for hands, it follows the cyclops toward the demons)
white queen:  (a titaness in chain mail and bearing a large maul, she
  steps forth, the gigantic mallet held casually over one shoulder)

Alindyar:  These are powerful allies indeed.
Lyra:  Let's not waste any time, while we have them.  (she blasts some
  frog-demons with a chain lightning, frying them with a series of loud
  "pop" sounds)  Because you just never know what will happen.

  Despite the sorceress' grim words, there appeared to be no worries.
Every demon in this cavern was powerful, able to defeat a dozen armed
warriors, but the chiefs of the Host of Kaloth were like giants.  In a
technical sense, some of them _were_ giants; the iron golem stood 15'
tall, and it was dwarfed by the titaness (at 25') and the cyclops (who
loomed over all at 30' in height.)  The allies wasted no time joining
the battle...

titaness:  (surveying the scene)  THESE DEMONS MAY BE RESISTANT TO MAGIC,
cyclops:  GROK!  (it reaches down, grabs two bestial demons, and smashes
  them together, again and again)  GROK!
iron golem:  (goes into action, its axe-hand cleaving a pig-demon in two
  while its hammer-hand smashes a snake-demon)
titaness:  (beset by a half-dozen demons of various types, she gets busy
  with her maul, crushing the legs of one foe and cracking the stone
black bishop:  (nods)  None can beat the Host of Kaloth.
Bosco:  (wanders out behind the drow and the black bishop, eyeing the
  carnage and the numerous gigantic combatants)  What have I done?

  Suddenly, a winged demon swooped down, grabbing the halfling and then
taking to the air!

winged demon:  You're but a morsel, small one...but a plump little morsel
  at that.
Bosco:  I'm Bosco...Bosco the Demonslayer!  (he stabs the thing with a
  dagger, opening a deep cut in its torso)
winged demon:  Aaaaaiee!  (it lets go of the halfling, intending to drop
  him)  Get away!
Bosco:  (having grabbed a handful of greasy feathers, he stabs the foe
  a couple more times, then loses his grip and plummets toward the floor
  below)  Whoaaaaaa...!  (he regains his senses in time to stop his fall
  using his winged boots)  Whew!  (he looks around, sword in one hand as
  he puts the dagger away)  What the...(his eyes widen)  Whoa!

  As Bosco made a startling discovery, a hundred individual battles were
being fought, all over the gigantic cavern.  Near the center of the pit's
floor, the death naga and N'Gasai rolled around, shaking the floor as
they fought each other, locked in desperate and savage combat.  Already,
several demons had been wounded, or crushed outright, by this struggle.

N'Gasai:  (trapped by the naga's coils, he writhes about, trying
  desperately to free himself)
death naga:  (sensing the demon lordling's true strength, she tries
  desperately to crush him)

  Instantly, a dozen demons broke away from what they were doing and
rushed to their tyrant's aid.  Claws and teeth dug into the naga's
powerful body, tearing flesh and drawing blood.

death naga:  Aaaargh!  You'll pay for that!  (she spits acid all over
  a bird-like demon, and bats another two away with the tail end of her
  body)  I'll kill you all!  (she launches a fireball, taking out three
  more demons as well as one of the white pawns)
N'Gasai:  (gradually working one arm free)

  Elsewhere, the news was mixed.  Four major demons - lieutenants to
N'Gasai, who had thus far stayed back in the fighting - had worked
together to cast spells.  A large area of floor transformed into mud,
causing the iron golem, the ebony golem, and several unwary demons to
sink down to their chests...or beyond.

iron golem:  (stuck up to its neck in the mud, it struggles in vain to
  free itself)
ebony golem:  (sinks down, out of sight)
demon with two snake-heads:  (also sinks out of sight)

  Nearby, a large spider-like demon had snared four of the warrior-pawns
in thick webbing, only to be knocked into the mud by a brutal blow from
the ivory golem.  Unfortunately, the spider-demon had a hold on its webs,
and ended up dragging the trapped warriors down into the mud with it.

  Nearby, on the end of the arena floor near the double doors...

bat-demon:  (flies toward Alindyar and Lyra)  Vrock!  (it collides with
  the translucent wall of force, bouncing away)
black pawn #6:  (along with one of his fellows, he falls on the dazed
  foe, hacking and slashing)
goat-demon:  (cackling, he darts up to the wall of force, his hands

  Just like that, the barrier crackled and faded, dispelled.

goat-demon:  Hee hee, hee-  (he looks up, just in time to see the ivory
  golem's fist descend, squashing him like a bug)
Bosco:  Good work, you!  (he takes to the air, dodging an insectoid
  demon that was skittering toward him)
Lyra:  (blasts that thing with a volley of magic missiles, which do the
  trick, tearing it apart)  I'm running out of spells...
Alindyar:  Aye.  We need some large-scale solution here.
black bishop:  (snickering to himself)  I have an idea.
Lyra:  Let's hear it.
black bishop:  These are demons, here on the prime material plane, which
  means they've probably been brought here against their will by that
  big bastard with the dog-head.
Alindyar:  (nodding)
black bishop:  They may very well have little or no loyalty to their
  "master"...which means that if suddenly presented with an open door
  back home - to the Abyss - they would take it.
Lyra:  ...and leave the demon lord with no allies!
Alindyar:  This sounds workable, but there is one question:  what if
  other demons come through, from the Abyss to here?
black bishop:  (shrugs nonchalantly)  I never said the plan was perfect.
Lyra:  Can you open such a portal?
black bishop:  Summonings and gateways are my specialty.  Of course
  I can open a portal - if you can keep the demons off my back.
Alindyar:  Consider it done.  (he waves his hand, causing a large chunk
  of the stone floor to ripple and buckle, rising up to create a barrier
  protecting the spellcasters from physical attack by the ground)

  Meanwhile, N'Gasai had gained the upper hand against the naga, with
one arm freed and ripping at the giant snake-woman's flesh.  The naga's
initial burst of hate-fueled rage had passed, and as she'd struggled for
her very life, her strength had slowly dwindled.  The nature of her close
combat meant that she couldn't cast any of her numerous spells...and in
such combat, without magical aid, N'Gasai was a far stronger opponent.

N'Gasai:  (holds out his bloody fist, and his black sword leaps into his
  hand)  HAH.  (he immediately stabs the naga in the neck, below her head,
  causing her to loosen her grip)
death naga:  (shrieking in pain and anger)  Aaaaaaaaaaiee!
N'Gasai:  (gets to his feet, brandishing his sword even as his whip flies
  into his other hand)  NO MORE GAMES.

next:      the tables turn
released:  3/18/05
notes:     On a topic I mentioned a few weeks back, the current issue of
  _Dungeon_ magazine (#121, April 2005) includes some kind of world map
  of Greyhawk.  I may have to check it out.

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