Chapter #887

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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       +
+   1991-2005 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:          7/5/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         a dungeon complex, exact location unknown              +
+   Climate:       cool and dry                                           +
+   "Doing this is insane."                                               +
+   "NOT doing this is insane."                                           +
+                                      - from _Dracula 2:  Ascension_     +

                   DCCCLXXXVII.  A Baker's Dozen

  After finding a chamber full of inactive golems, the party now heads
toward another room, which also radiates an almost overwhelming aura of

Belphanior:  (leading the party back into the central room with the
  pedestal, he points to the other passage)  One down, one to go...and
  there's plenty of magic that way, too.

  Like the northern passage on the opposite side of the central chamber,
the southern one was short, extending only thirty feet before it opened
into a room.

           | | | | | | | | | | | |
           |                     |
           |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_|
                     | |
                     | |
                   __| |__                 _| = 10'
                __|       |                $  = gateway arch
               $__    *   |                *  = pedestal
                  |__   __|
                     | |
                     | |
                    _| |_
                   |     |

Belphanior:  (blinks, his crystal eye overwhelmed by the pure magical
  power contained in this room)  Whoa.

  The room was small and hemispherical, perhaps ten feet in radius.  Its
flat wall contained the entrance, such that the adventurers faced the
curved wall immediately upon entering.  Along its entire length (roughly
thirty feet of wall for the hemisphere) were glass cases, resting on
the floor.  These containers were transparent and appeared to be thin;
each resembled an upside-down potion bottle, its open end flush with the
smooth, stony floor.  Within each of the unusual containers floated a
weapon or item, hovering in place on the inside of the glass.
  There were thirteen treasures here, all told; most were weapons, but
there were assorted other items as well:

  longsword     3' long, sheathed, black metal handle/guard/pommel
  spear         5' long, steel shaft, three-edged tip of unknown metal
  crossbow      medium-sized, excellent materials and workmanship
  bracer        single forearm-guard, fashioned of simple brass
  dagger        small, razor-sharp, perfectly balanced for throwing
  rod           2' long, 1" thick, blue metal inlaid with weird sigils
  mace          spiked ball on end, one piece, simple weapon
  chalice       solid silver, intricately worked
  ring          thin, simple, purple-black metal
  bracelet      thin silver chain
  belt          fashioned of unknown hide, has adamant plates with runes
  amulet        simple leather cord with small chunk of jade
  helm          finely-worked, mithril, two horns, sized for large head

Belphanior:  I think we've found the mother lode.
Otto:  Hell, yeah.
wispy thing:  (hovers near one of the glass cases)  pfsss?
Skektek:  (to Belphanior)  This is, I assume, the source of all that
  powerful magical aura you detected earlier?
Belphanior:  (nods)  Even more so than the golem room.  (he surveys the
  various items)  Outstanding.
Skektek:  I have to say, I really don't understand the lich's thinking.
  I mean, who in their right mind would leave weapons like this lying
  around someplace, far away from their main lair?
Belphanior:  A couple of possibilities come to mind.  Maybe he didn't
  want all of his eggs in one basket, so to speak.  Maybe he left it
  here, intending for one of his minions to get it later, only "later"
  never happened, seeing as how we invaded his fortress and destroyed
Otto:  Maybe he couldn't use this stuff, so he put it in storage.
Skektek:  (nods)  Still...
Belphanior:  Still, nothing.  It's all ours now.
Jenna:  (somewhat timidly)  You're not going to ask me to scry each and
  every one of these things, here and now, are you?  Because that would
  take more time, and more magic, than I can give you today.
Belphanior:  No, don't worry about that.  We'll figure out what they are,
  and what they do, in a more secure place.  For now, our focus is simply
  on taking them out of here.
Otto:  (eyeing the glass containers)  How, exactly, are we going to do
Skektek:  In case of emergency, break glass.
Belphanior:  Not until we at least try to check for traps, magical
  protections, and so on.  (he eyes one of the glass barriers)  Problem
  is, the magic from the items is so strong, I can't tell anything about
  these cases they're in.
Jenna:  If it helps, I sense no danger here, aside from that inherently
  possible from the use of these items.
Belphanior:  (muttering)  No, that doesn't really help.  (he taps one of
  the cases with the tip of his sword)  Hmm, nothing-

  The thin tube of glass - or whatever it was - suddenly vanished!

Belphanior:  What?!?

  They all backed away, some of them crowding into the entry passage in
case something exploded, but nothing happened.  The item within the odd
"container" - in this instance, the dagger - ceased to float in the air,
falling to the stone floor with a metallic sound.

Otto:  Well, this matches your theory about Xusia and these places, at
  least the ones where he stored useful items.
Belphanior:  (nods)  By design, these gateway-connected lairs were for
  him and his allies...thus, there was no need for elaborate traps and
  other protections.  Hell, with any great amount of treasure, there
  comes a point when you have to stop worrying about preventing its theft
  and simply get on with the business of storing it.  (he eyes the items)
  Let's take everything.  We'll put it all in my portable hole, return to
  Parekh's home, and apply some powerful magic toward figuring out just
  what this stuff is.
Skektek:  You think she'll help us yet again?  She must be getting tired
  of that...
Belphanior:  She'll be a lot less tired when we give her one of these
  items, from this haul.
Elgon:  (grins)  Ah, the old payoff.
Belphanior:  It's a fair price to pay for her help, and besides, she's
  never asked for much from our little adventures in these gateways.  It
  only seems fair.
Otto:  What about the golems?
Belphanior:  They won't fit in the portable hole...we'll leave them here
  for now.  Even if someone else happened upon this place, no one else
  can use the golems either, and taking their inert bodies would be a lot
  of trouble.  Let's hope that one of these thirteen items is the golems'
  activation or control device.
Skektek:  Why not just try them all right now?
Belphanior:  Because I'm not prepared to deal with side effects of any of
  the items...and I'm also not prepared to take twenty golems out of here
  right now.
Skektek:  Ah, good point.

  Shortly, all of the powerful magical items had been liberated from their
strange "cases" and stashed away, and the adventurers had returned to the
main chamber.

Belphanior:  (takes the gateway-talisman out of the depression in the
  pedestal)  Now let's see...ah, yes.

  The walls shifted once more, and in moments, the two passages leading
to the other rooms were gone, sealed away as they'd been when the party
arrived here.

Belphanior:  Enough work for today - and a very profitable day it was,
  I think you'll all agree.  Tonight we'll rest in safe, soft beds and
  plan how to best use these new weapons we've just gained.
wispy thing:  spaaa!

next:       answers about the thirteen items
released:   8/26/05
notes:      ...

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