Chapter #871

previous chapter (#870)                                                                  next chapter (#872)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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       +
+   1991-2005 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/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   Date:          7/2/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         unknown                                                +
+   Climate:       cold and dry                                           +
+   "If a man is destined to drown, he will drown even in a spoonful      +
+    of water."                                     - anonymous proverb   +

                   DCCCLXXI.  Depth Charged

  After some exploration, the adventurers have determined their current
location to be deep underwater, within a strange, vacant metal fortress.
However, a new problem now confronts them...

Belphanior:  (frowning)  This doesn't seem like the sort of thing Xusia
  would have been interested in.

voice:  That's because he wasn't.
Belphanior:  (turning, sword in hand)  I know that voice-

  Standing in the center of the room, near the hatch, was a tall, thin
man wearing a silver skull-cap and bright red robes.  Those of the party
who had fought against him remembered instantly.

Belphanior:  Cespedes!
wispy thing:  braaaaft.

  The elf and most of his present companions had encountered this wizard
in the great battle at the Fortress of the Nine.  Cespedes hadn't stayed
around long, retreating after being hit by a magical arrow, but his magic
was definitely nothing to be taken lightly.

Elgon:  (eyeing the new arrival, he frowns)
Belphanior:  (grits his teeth)  You!
Cespedes:  I think-
Belphanior:  Tough.  (he uses his ring of spell storing to cast a quick
  spell and leap at the wizard, his dark sword flashing)

  As fast as the elf's attack was, though, one other was even faster.
Razor Charlie's throwing knife was out and whizzing through the air
before Belphanior had begun his jump; the steel blade flew right at the
red-cloaked wizard's forehead.

Razor Charlie:  (watches in confusion as the knife goes _through_ the
  foe's head)  Huh?
Belphanior:  (lands, his sword flashing)

  Like the thrown knife, Belphanior's blade passed right through the
body of Cespedes, nearly causing the elf to lose his balance.  A moment
later, a volley of icy daggers from Skektek also passed through the
wizard's form, smashing against one metal wall.

Belphanior:  Shit, he's intangible!
Jenna:  (weaving some sort of magic)  I have a spell that might help.
Skektek:  Me too.  It's called "Dispel Magic."
Elgon:  I'm not sure he's-

  There was a tremendous impact then, from above them all, its force
shaking the entire chamber and knocking down several of the adventurers.
Heads turned to see what caused the commotion...and then jaws dropped in

Belphanior:  (furious)  What now-  (he looks upward)  Oh.
Ys:  (regarding the room's transparent ceiling, and what lies on the
  other side)  That's not good.

  Floating in the water outside/above the dome was the biggest shark any
of them had ever seen.  In addition to being well over fifty feet long,
it had an oversized mouth, a gaping maw filled with multiple rows of
unusually long, curved teeth.  The great beast had collided with the
transparent top of the domed room, presumably to try and get to the food
within.  Now, it swam above, passing by slowly, its large saucer-like eyes
glowing red as it watched the people inside.

Belphanior:  (whirls to look at Cespedes, only to find the wizard, or
  image, or whatever, to have vanished)  Huh?
wispy thing:  (floating near the top of the chamber, it regards the
  monstrosity on the other side of the transparent ceiling)  brrrn.
Otto:  Maybe this would be a good time to pull that lever and close the
  metal barrier over the glass-steel-whatever-it-is.
Skektek:  Uh...yeah.
Belphanior:  Agreed.  (he darts over to the podium and does so, and the
  hidden machinery within the walls rumbles to life, the two halves of
  the metal iris sliding back into place)

  The gigantic beast glared at the adventurers, then swam away in an
astonishing burst of speed for something of that size.

Skektek:  I hope it's leaving.
Ys:  As do I, but it seemed...hungry.
Otto:  Not to change the subject, but the chrome-domed wizard's gone.
Belphanior:  (whirls)  What?
Razor Charlie:  Where the hell could he be?
Skektek:  Probably teleported away again.
Ys:  (staring at the water outside as the metal shield closes above them)
  We have a problem.
Belphanior:  What now?  (he looks up, following the reptilian's gaze)  Oh.
wispy thing:  brrrn.

  Given the murky water, it would have been difficult to see what was
happening, except that the size and speed of the approaching shark made
the situation very clear indeed.

Otto:  Fucker's going to ram us.

  The outer shield of metal was closing, but it was apparent that the
monstrous shark would hit the dome before the barrier was fully closed.

Belphanior:  Everyone, get down that hatch!  Now!

  Only three of them made it through the hatch and onto the ladder before
the great beast hit the transparent dome.  The good news was that the
transparent dome-top, bolstered by the nearly-closed metal shell, held,
withstanding the impact.  The bad news was that the sheer force of the
collision rocked the entire structure, from the floor below to this one
above, knocking everyone from their feet and knocking over anything not
attached to the floor or walls.  Those in the process of descending the
ladder were shaken loose; those standing were tossed about like rag dolls.
Several small but intense sprays of water cropped up near beams in the
walls and ceiling.  The entire superstructure of the dome creaked and
groaned, suggesting damage unseen in addition to that which was obvious.
  It took them several long, painful moments to recover...

Otto:  (gets to his feet)  Ungh...(he spits out blood)

  The dwarf had hit the metal deck face-first, smashing his nose and
filling his mouth with blood.  Already, his ring of regeneration was
beginning to heal the damage, but it would take some time.  He looked
around, finding Belphanior also staggering to his feet, cradling a badly-
bruised shoulder with his good hand.  Ys, with his greater height, had
hit his head on the curved ceiling when the shark had rammed the dome;
the big reptilian was bleeding freely, the blue liquid streaming down
the side of his head.

Ys:  I'm fine.  We should check on the others.

  Skektek was sprawled against one wall; the wizard had somehow remained
relatively uninjured despite being the physically weakest of the party,
and one who wore no armor.  The wispy thing was, of course, intangible
and thus beyond the reach of physical harm.

wispy thing:  (hovering, it regards the now-sealed metal dome overhead)
Otto:  I hope that shark's lost interest...
Skektek:  If not, we'll know any moment.

  The three adventurers who had gotten through the hatch hadn't fared so
so well, having been knocked off of the ladder and fallen the twenty-foot
distance to the smaller dome at the bottom of the ladder.

Belphanior:  (peers through the hatch)  Hey!
Razor Charlie:  (having locked an arm and a leg through the ladder's
  rungs a few feet below, he frowns painfully)
Otto:  How the hell did you hang on during that attack?
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces)  Will to live.

  Jenna and Elgon, on the other hand, had definitely fallen.  Elgon was
sitting, nursing what appeared to be a broken leg, while Jenna was lying
nearby, unconscious, in a small pool of blood.

Belphanior:  (shouting down)  Is she okay?
Elgon:  She's alive, but badly hurt and bleeding from the ears and mouth.
Belphanior:  (muttering to himself)  Damn.
wispy thing:  (flies down there)  sprrd.
Otto:  I think we have another problem.  (he runs his hand through the
  water that's leaked in, tasting it)  Salt water, from outside.  It's
  forming puddles up here, which means this place is leaking...
Belphanior:  Which means that we've got a finite amount of time to get
  out of here before the place floods completely.

next:       a hasty recon/retreat
released:   5/6/05
notes:      Many of you have sent mail stating that it was obvious that
  they were underwater, etc etc.  Just remember that what's obvious to
  you and I, given our familiarity with modern technology, would not be
  quite so obvious to people in a low-technology setting.

previous chapter (#870)                                                                  next chapter (#872)