Chapter #964

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

+     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       +
+   1991-2007 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        +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   iron golem     one of Belphanior's golems captured from Xusia         +
+   stone golem    one of Belphanior's golems captured from Xusia         +
+                                                                         +
+   Kronos         extremely powerful lich                                +
+   ~300 zombies   battalion of unusually powerful zombie warriors        +
+                                                                         +
+                                                                         +
+                                                                         +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Neera          11th level human female sage/astrologer                +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   Date:          12/3/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         somewhere deep within the Sea of Dust                  +
+   Climate:       cool and dry                                           +
+   "It takes one person to do something stupid...but it takes a whole    +
+    bunch of people to do something really stupid."                      +
+                                        - from _Dracula 2:  Ascension_   +

                   CMLXIV.  A Wild Undead Melee

  After arriving in the subterranean complex that is home to Al-arakara
and his people, the adventurers have defeated an iron golem and a dozen
mummies.  The group's casualties consist of three who were turned to
stone by the golem's breath (and who Belphanior hasn't had the time to
attempt to cure of this condition).  Kronos' portal is now open, and his
battalion of undead warriors had marched through and formed ranks within
the large, pyramidal entry chamber.

Belphanior:  (nods)  Not a bad little army.
Kronos:  We need to move out of this area and take the fight to our foe's
  actual lair, before he uses some kind of mass-area attack to vaporize
  us all.  However, I refuse to simply send my forces through that small
  passage to be obliterated or picked off one by one.  Therefore, we need
  another shock tactic...but one that will not collapse this chamber or
  complex and bury us here.
Belphanior:  I'll send my golems-
Mongo:  No need for that.  (he hefts his hammer and strides into the
  passage, toward the unseen area from which the dozen mummies emerged)
Belphanior:  Mongo!
Mongo:  I'm not gonna wait around here - it's time to take the fight to
  the enemy.
Belphanior:  (wondering if he has time to attempt to reverse the stoning
  process on his three incapacitated companions, he watches as Mongo
  charges into the narrow passage, headed toward the next room)  Dammit.

  Mongo moved quickly through the thirty-foot-long corridor, in the
process stomping through the piles of ash that used to be mummies and
kicking the still-smoldering cinders all over the place.  The armored
dwarf emerged into another large chamber, this one a domed area about
fifty feet across.  He didn't have to wait long for a welcome, either...

giant mummy:  (standing perhaps fifteen feet tall, it looms over the
  much smaller opponent, arms raised menacingly, its body reeking of
  putrid rot)  Graaaaarrr...
Mongo:  Get the hell out of my way!

  A moment later, the giant mummy's head exploded as Stormcrest smashed
into it, spraying the area behind the mummy with chunks of rotten flesh
and black dust.  The huge foe was still on its feet, only without a head
now; it staggered in place, its bandaged arms flailing about.

Mongo:  Liked that, did you?  (he catches his hammer, then walks forth
  and lands another blow on the mummy's leg, snapping it like a twig and
  toppling the large undead foe)  Fucker.
giant mummy:  (falls, its movements growing weaker)
Mongo:  (walks past the downed foe, only to find himself facing several
  dozen zombies, skeletons, ghouls, and such)

  The undead horde completely blocked any progress through the domed
chamber, and there was really only one way to get across the room...

Mongo:  Alrighty, then.  (he wades forth into the massed undead, swinging
  his hammer with one arm and plying his dented shield with the other)

  Pale finger-bones and putrid rotting hands clawed and tore at Mongo's
armor, and in truth any normal warrior - no matter how skilled, and no
matter what weapon he wielded - would have been overwhelmed by the horde.
However, Mongo possessed strength greater than any giant, and he wielded
his hammer with the full extent of that strength.  Even a half-hearted
sweep of the weapon was enough to swat aside multiple opponents - and
Mongo was far from half-hearted.  He yelled and cursed loudly to himself
and his foes as he randomly pulverized them or knocked them away.  The
undead were more or less unable to feel fear, but they did begin to feel
something much like futility as any who got near Mongo were smashed or
repelled, or in some cases both.
  Naturally, some of the horde moved past Mongo to get to the passage
back to the first room...but they promptly encountered Kronos' battalion
of undead warriors, who were marching through that passage with armor
clanking and weapons flashing.  The attackers, being undead themselves
but far better armed and trained, quickly drove the defenders back.  In
moments, the entire chamber was filled with unliving combatants from
both sides, with Mongo in the middle.  The dwarf's armor was covered
with scratches, as well as bits of gore from the many foes he'd fought
already.  Despite having minor scrapes and nicks on the few truly exposed
sections of his body, Mongo seemed to feel no pain and no fatigue; he
simply toiled on, fighting hard and felling foes with every blow.  Not
all casualties were caused by Stormcrest, either...

Mongo:  (brings his shield around in a sweeping arc, knocking three foes
  back with incredible force)  Get AWAY, you bastards!
skeleton:  (its spine snapped by the impact, it doesn't move after it
  hits the floor)

  Meanwhile, back in the first chamber, Belphanior and Kronos were having
a bit of a heated discussion.

Belphanior:  We need to restore my three allies to flesh, so they can
Kronos:  There is no time.  You do not know Al-arakara as I do.  (he
  floats just above the floor, moving rapidly toward the other room)  Do
  as you will.  I have business with my ancient foe.
Belphanior:  Shit.
Otto:  What's the problem?  I know we're missing the fight, but Mongo
  can take care of himself, and if Kronos wants to be the first one to
  attack the mummy-king, I say more power to him.
Belphanior:  Well, there's also the issue of _three_ people turned to
  stone, but I only have _one_ stone-to-flesh spell to cast.
Otto:  Oh.
Belphanior:  (considering the options)
wispy thing:  (hovers near one of the two golems' heads)  brrrd.
Ys:  Shall we venture into yonder room and join the battle?
Jenna:  I might be able to turn some of the undead, but it will be...
  difficult to avoid affecting members of Kronos' legion as well.
Razor Charlie:  (wondering how much good his knives will do against
  undead foes)
Belphanior:  (thinking about the petrified statues he stashed in his
  portable hole, and which one he should bring back to life)  Damn it.

  Back in the large domed room, the battle raged incessantly.  Undead
from two ends of the known Flanaess were locked in deadly combat against
each other, which gradually lessened the press of foes around Mongo.

Mongo:  (bashes four zombies away with his shield)  Back, dammit!  (he
  suddenly notices a large arched exit on the far end of the chamber...
  and also notices a tall, robed figure lurking just inside that exit,
  its hands making strange arcane motions)  Hey!  Hey, you-

  The robed figure didn't notice the shouting dwarf - which was really
no surprise, since Mongo was surrounded by foes in the midst of a huge,
noisy battle in a huge, noisy room.  Besides, this new foe clearly had
other things to worry about.

robed figure:  (points to a spot near the center of the large domed
  chamber, and long, thin bolts of lightning shoot from its extended
  fingers, arcing across the room and impacting the massed combatants)

  The tongues of lightning hit undead from both sides, vaporizing them
where they stood.  A total of perhaps two dozen combatants were suddenly
removed from the battle in this way.

Mongo:  (winces, smelling the stench of burnt undead flesh)  Damn, that
  guy doesn't care _who_ he nails with his magic.

  The dwarf wasn't sure if the robed one was the mummy-king they had
come here to find, Al-akaka or whatever his name was.  All he knew was
that this new arrival was a foe - some of those lightning bolts had hit
fairly close by - and a powerful one at that.  Mongo acted accordingly,
in the way he knew best for situations like these.

Mongo:  (swats a zombie aside with his shield, then draws his arm back
  and hurls Stormcrest at the robed figure, thirty feet away)

  The hammer sailed through the air and hit the spellcasting foe right
in its chest, driving it back and out of sight.  Not wanting to delay
any further, Mongo simply plowed through the undead remaining between
himself and that exit, swatting them aside with shield or armored fists.
A moment later, Stormcrest flew back into the dwarf's hand, and he made
his way toward that exit, ready to take on anyone or anything that might
confront him next.

robed figure:  (walks toward the dwarf, chuckling quietly)
Mongo:  Whatever.  (he hurls his hammer a second time, and hits the robed
  figure a second time, again driving it back into the passage and just
  out of sight)  Take that, fucker.

  Mongo wasn't surprised that he hit the foe, since he was a skilled
thrower of his enchanted hammer.  What _did_ surprise him was when the
weapon didn't return to his hand as it normally did.

Mongo:  Well, that's not good.

next:       a hammerless Mongo?  how can it be?
released:   4/6/07
notes:      I shudder to use the word "clank" as a verb, but it really is
  the best word for the job in these situations.

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