Chapter #1082

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                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic VI     +
                             +               +
                               +           +
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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       +
+   1991-2021 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!                                          +
+   Daffodil       11th level human druidess of Obad-Hai                  +
+   Halbarad       15th level human ranger of Ehlonna                     +
+   Peyote         12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid of Obad-Hai   +
+   Relmar         18th level human high priest of Pelor                  +
+   Rillen         18th level human warrior monk                          +
+   Songa          13th level human huntress                              +
+   Date:          11/11/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:          afternoon                                              +
+   Place:         an undiscovered continent far to the east              +
+   Climate:       warm and dry                                           +
+   "This doesn't have to end in a fight."                                +
+   "It always ends in a fight."                                          +
+                  - from _Captain America:  Civil War_                   +

                   MLXXXII.  When Dinosaurs Attack

  After incapacitating a large carnivorous dinosaur, the party has just
come under attack by two more.

Songa:  Damn.
dinosaur #2:  (a mere fifty feet away, it roars and charges directly at
  the warrior-woman)  RrrrrrRRRRR...
dinosaur #3:  (follows suit, bearing down on Relmar)  GRRRR...

  It was pure coincidence that the beasts were attacking two non-archers,
as that was just the way the party was arrayed after breaking its initial
defensive circle to avoid the charge of the first dinosaur.

                 Pey                           |_________|  50'
          Hal      Daf   Son          D2
         D1           Rel              D3

Peyote:  (hastily fires an arrow, the shaft sinking into the chest of the
  creature lumbering toward Songa)
dinosaur #2:  GRAAR!  (it ignores the arrow as it closes the distance,
  lunging forth)

  However, Songa was no amateur, and had some experience dealing with
wildly charging foes that were much larger than her, but not nearly as
smart.  She set her spear in the ground, its butt wedged against the hard
earth, and stood her ground as the gigantic creature bore down on her...
until the very last instant, when she raised the spear's point and leapt

dinosaur #2:  (impales itself on the spear, the sharp tip bursting out
  of its back)  GRAAAARGH!  (it begins staggering about, clawing at the
  spear's shaft where the weapon entered its stomach)

  Meanwhile, the other recently-arrived foe was bearing down on Relmar,
who had no spear.  What he did have, however, was covering fire from the
powerful longbow of Rillen.

Rillen:  (fires, putting his arrow in the thing's neck)
dinosaur #3:  RAAARGH!  (it whips its head to the side, in surprise and
  pain, but continues to charge)
Relmar:  (stands his ground, mace held ready)

  The priest rolled out of the way right as the huge beast snapped at him
with its mouthful of needle-sharp teeth.  While he was able to avoid that
attack, he wasn't quite as fast as Songa, and a swiping claw raked across
his back, knocking him aside before he could swing his mace.

Relmar:  (rolling along the ground, stunned, although he manages to hold
  onto his weapon)
dinosaur #3:  (whirls, roaring)

  Two things happened simultaneously.  First, Rillen fired another arrow,
this one burying itself in the dinosaur's neck just inches from the first
missile.  As the monster roared in pain, blood spurting from the second
wound, its right leg was cut out from under it, thanks to Halbarad, who
had sprinted in while the foe was distracted.  The ranger had made a fast
choice - try and finish off the first, badly-wounded dinosaur or else run
over here and help fight the healthier one - and he'd opted for the latter

Halbarad:  (darts out of the way as the dinosaur turns and swipes at him
  with one clawed foreleg)
dinosaur #3:  (unable to keep its balance since its leg is nearly severed
  at the ankle, it reels and then falls thanks to its momentum)  RAARGH!
Rillen:  (dashes forth, drawing his bow again at a much shorter range)
dinosaur #3:  (suddenly finds a third arrow piercing its eye, and the area
  behind that eye)  GRAAAAAAAARGH!  (it thrashes wildly on the ground, its
  tail lashing out in a wide arc and knocking Halbarad away)


Daffodil:  (contemplates the battle, trying to find an opening where she
  can run in and hit one of the dinosaurs with her staff)
Songa:  (walks over, forcibly takes Rillen's quarterstaff which the small
  druidess has been carrying, and then charges at the creature she just
dinosaur #2:  (still staggering about, it finds itself under attack with
  a flurry of blows from the huntress)  RAAARGH!
Songa:  (parries a swiping claw, whacks the thing hard in the face, then
  jumps back as it steps forward and tries to bite her)
Daffodil:  (emboldened by Songa's decisive attacks, she darts in and hits
  the giant lizard across its hindquarters with her own staff)
dinosaur #2:  (whirls suddenly, grabbing the druidess with one forearm)
Daffodil:  Ack!  (she finds herself facing a wide, gaping mouth filled
  with big, sharp teeth)
Peyote:  (now charging himself, his bastard sword raised high, shouting
  as loudly as he can)  NOOO!

  The half-elf, who was normally calm almost to a fault, had seen what was
happening...and was determined not to let his wife become lunch for this
beast.  His tactic worked:  instead of biting Daffodil, which might well
have proven lethal, the dinosaur turned its scaly head to see what all the
noise was about.  A moment later, it indeed saw, up close and personal, as
Peyote leaped into the air and swung his sword with all his might.  Its
edge connected with the top and front of the creature's head, cleaving
deep into flesh and bone.

dinosaur #2:  (releases Daffodil, blood spraying from the grisly wound to
  its face, and roars in pain and rage)  GRAAARGH!
Peyote:  (unable to keep his grip on the sword, which is buried in the
  thing's head, he is knocked aside)

  Having had enough of this - and still able to move and run, unlike its
two companions - the giant lizard turned and fled, Peyote's sword still
imbedded in its face.

Peyote:  (regaining his feet)  Hey!  My sword!  (he grabs up his bow and
  runs after the creature)  Get back here!
Rillen:  (pulls back his bowstring, taking careful aim, then sends another
  arrow flying, hitting the fleeing beast in one ankle)
dinosaur #2:  (unable to run on the now-wounded leg, it quickly stumbles
  and falls)
Peyote:  (stops chasing the thing, and now stands about twenty feet from
  it as it lies on the ground thrashing and roaring)  Right on!

  With all three of the things now badly wounded and at least partially
immobilized, it was fairly quick work to finish them off with arrows.  To
some people, killing defenseless creatures would have somehow felt wrong
or unfair - but if they'd had their way, these things would have torn the
adventurers apart and feasted on the bloody pieces.  Besides, others just
like these had slain both Weaver and Dervan.
  After the grisly work was done, the group gathered up their weapons and
arrows, and took stock of their injuries.  Relmar had suffered a clawed
back, which had shredded his shirt but not his flesh, thanks to the fine
armor he wore.  Both Halbarad and Peyote had been knocked aside by blows
from the dinosaurs; while both were battered and bruised, they were still
in good shape.  Daffodil had some shallow puncture wounds in her back from
the sharp talons of the creature that had grabbed her; these were
quickly cleaned and bandaged.

Songa:  We need to get moving.  That fight may have attracted more of the
Halbarad:  (grimly)  Or the bigger ones.
Daffodil:  (puts her leather armor back on, wincing with the movement)
  You know, for a moment I thought the second two were going to turn on
  the first one, and maybe eat it.  They sort of had that look in their
  eyes.  But then they attacked us instead.
Halbarad:  They might well have finished off and eaten the first one, but
  it wasn't going anywhere, and we were still around.  The creatures were
  probably thinking about getting the most food they could, nothing else.
Rillen:  Well, they paid the price.  (he cracks his neck, pleased with the
  great skill he's displayed with his bow today, and also pleased that he
  kept his skills honed over all these months)
Halbarad:  That they did.  (to everyone)  You see...they can be killed.
  We just have to be disciplined, and use solid teamwork - which we just
  did, quite well.
Relmar:  (nods)  If only we had the use of magic...I possess an item that
  would have allowed us to avoid that battle entirely - and would have
  also sped up our journey considerably.

  Despite their various wounds and pains, the group soon resumed its trek
toward the river mouth and the secret area hidden within.  They kept ever-
alert, ready for any other attacks that might come, but over the next hour
they encountered no more aggressive denizens of the basin.  As they neared
the base of the mountain, Halbarad gave Peyote, Daffodil, and Relmar the
same description and instructions that he'd previously provided to Rillen
and Songa.

Peyote:  Underwater?  For thirty feet?  Far out.
Daffodil:  You need a bath anyway.  (she sniffs herself)  We probably all
  do, come to think of it.
Relmar:  The plan seems sound.  As long as we stay together and keep our
  wits about us, this should be fine.
Songa:  It's likely a blessing in disguise that the passage is blocked by
  that gate...otherwise, we'd have to worry about something large and
  hungry lurking in there, waiting for us.
Daffodil:  (pales)
Rillen:  (to Songa, quietly)  You're not really helping.

  When they reached the river's mouth, Halbarad collected the archers'
bowstrings and put them in his waterproof pouch, along with his flint,
steel, tinder, and another small brand which he prepared now.

Halbarad:  Everything else will get wet, but the good news is that we can
  lay things out to dry in the chamber above the shaft.  (he gestures to
  Relmar, whose pack is filled with small branches of wood, previously
  gathered and stored in their base camp back on the ledge)  Provided that
  we find a means of ventilation, or that the complex within this mountain
  is large enough, we should be able to build fires fairly soon.

  While those who hadn't yet traversed the water-filled passage weren't
really looking forward to that challenge, it needed to be done and they
all knew it.  Bolstered by the knowledge that the other three had already
made the unnerving trip, they wasted no time diving into it - literally.
As before, there were no issues due to Halbarad having told them exactly
what to expect, and how to deal with it.  The only potential problem was
having six people crowded into the vertical shaft, but they got through
it when the time came.  A half-hour after first plunging into the river's
waters, the six adventurers were all safely in the domed chamber above.
A torch was lit; wet clothes were removed, wrung out, and laid on the
stone floor to dry; both of the metal hatches (below and in this room)
were closed and sealed.

Peyote:  (regarding the trio of large, non-human skeletons)  Gnarly.
Relmar:  This place surely has an interesting story, if only we can learn
Halbarad:  That's the plan.
Rillen:  So what next?
Halbarad:  I see two options.  We can pull that lever into the upward
  position-  (he points at the large lever next to the larger metal plate
  in the western wall)  -or we can go through that door.  (he turns and
  gestures to the large metal door and its massive handle, on the other
  side of the chamber)  We just need to decide which to do first.

next:       the decision, and the consequences
released:   7/9/2021
notes:      I'll confess it...I know that my dinosaur-speak (and, in
  a more general sense, my monster-speak) isn't perfect.  I just can't
  imagine what else an Allosaurus would possibly have to say except
  "GRAARGH" and "RRAARRR" and so on.
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