Chapter #140

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                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1993 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                        +
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      15th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       12th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior    12th/13th/13th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           13th/13th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold     11th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+        ?             grey cat (familiar)             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         15th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint      11th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        15th level human warrior              (N)   +
+                                                             +
+   WITH SPECIAL GUEST STARS:                                 +
+                                                             +
+   Belphanior-2  15th level elven ranger              (LN)   +
+      Sparky          extremely large wolf             (N)   +
+   Peldor-2      18th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen-2      13th level human ninja                (N)   +
+   Date:    several days after arrival                       +
+   Time:    midday                                           +
+   Place:   the fortress of the evil Ged, in an alternate    +
+              dimension                                      +
+   Climate: warm indoors, cold outside                       +
+   "Very few things happen at the right time and the rest    +
+    do not happen at all.  The conscientious historian will  +
+    correct these defects."                                  +
+                                 Herodotus, c. 454 B.C.      +

                  CXL.  Fire!  Fire!  Fire!

  That half of the party which includes Mongo, the two drow,
and both Peldors has explored a sewer, beaten a monstrous
alligator, and is even now climbing a ladder which takes
them up through the ceiling.

Rillen-2:  (leading the way)  It grows warm.
Mongo:  No shit.  (he sweats as he climbs in his plate mail)
Flint:  Let's hope we don't run into a fire beast or some
  such thing.
Lyra:  I thought you liked fire.
Flint:  Not _that_ much.
Alindyar:  (near the back of the ascending group)  Perhaps
  levitation would have been in order.
Peldor-2:  Bah.  Levitation is the route of the unable.
Peldor: addition to being one of the more basic
  spells of Peldor.  (being the last of the climbers, he
  looks downward)
Alindyar:  Truly you are mad.
Peldor-2:  Me?
Peldor:  Or me?
Alindyar:  Agh.
Lyra:  (muttering)  Both.
Alindyar:  Can it be said that two fools have but _half_
  the brainpower of one?
Lyra:  It could.
Alindyar:  Such would be an inverse-square relationship...
Lyra:  Square?
Peldor-2:  (busying himself by looking up at Lyra's bottom)
  Looks round to me...

  The ladder became enclosed by a round pipe, and eventually,
the seven emerged from this, stepping into a curved corridor.
As they walked along the passage, the adventurers realized
that the passage was circular, which implied that there was
probably a large, round room in the middle.

Alindyar:  Indeed.
Mongo:  (looks at the drow)  Who are you talking to?

  Sure enough, they quickly found one, then another door on
the inner wall of the circular passage.

Flint:  (produces some chalk)  I knew this would come in
  handy someday.  (he makes a mark on the wall)  Let's walk
  along and see what we can see.
Alindyar:  Hmm, useful.

  Five minutes and two doors later (for a total of four),
they were back at the chalk mark, having circumnavigated
the entire corridor.

Mongo:  Well, let's check out one of those doors.
Peldor:  Which one?
Peldor-2:  Any one, of course.
Rillen-2:  (failing to sweat despite the increased heat in
  this passage)
Alindyar:  (ponders the implications of being a ninja)

  They entered one of the four doors, and beheld a truly
spectacular sight.  There was indeed a large, round chamber
inside the circular corridor.  Besides being a hundred feet
in diameter, the room extended hundreds of feet above and
below.  A series of catwalks crisscrossed the large space,
and far below, another network of catwalks was visible -
this level was nothing more than a slice of a huge, tall
cylindrical chamber.  Farther below, under the other series
of walkways, the distinctive glow of molten lava was visible
even from this far up.
  In the center of this gigantic room was a smaller cylinder
of metal, perhaps twenty feet in diameter.  The catwalks led
to a circular ledge which surrounded this smaller pipe.  At
intervals (both above and below the group's current level)
were smaller pipes, branching out of the central one and
disappearing into the walls.  One such pipe ran over their
heads at an angle, and a valve-like apparatus was within
reach, closer to the central pipe.

Alindyar:  Fascinating.  Most fascinating.
Mongo:  Yeah, it is.  Looks like they've got  a lava pipe
  system set up here.
Peldor:  What for?
Alindyar:  Art thou _truly_ a fool?  A system such as this
  harnesses the power of lava flows deep within the earth,
  to provide heat.  Possibly power as well...(rubs his chin
Lyra:  (wonders how deep the shaft must be in order to tap
  volcanic power under a lake)
Mongo:  This is the kind of thing that the great dwarven
  cities of legend had...
Alindyar:  Aye.
Lyra:  This evil Ged must be a genius.
Mongo:  Nah.  I bet he had some dwarf build this setup for
  him.  They always do, you know.
Flint:  Like that other Mongo, maybe.
Mongo:  Yeah, like...hmm.  He didn't seem _that_ smart...
Rillen-2:  Maybe we should try to sabotage this.
Lyra:  Maybe we should do something.  Those prisoners below
  won't stay put for much longer...
Peldor:  (heads for the valve)  This is usually Belphanior's
  type of doing, but since he's not here...(he gets out of
  the way of the nozzle and grabs the valve knob)
Mongo:  Wait-
Peldor:  (his hands burned, he backs off)  OW!  Aagh!  That
  thing's HOT!  (he stares at his blistered hands)
Lyra:  Fool.
Peldor-2:  (to Peldor)  That _was_ pretty stupid, you know.
  (he digs in his belt pouch and produces some heavy cloth
  gloves, putting them on)
Mongo:  What are those?
Peldor-2:  Why, they're indestructible gloves.  Don't you
  know anything?  (he grabs the valve knob, and amazingly
  enough, the gloves don't even get singed)  They're totally
  resistant to cutting, burning, freezing, name
Peldor:  Want to sell those?
Peldor-2:  Not a chance.  Of course, one could theoretically
  attempt to _steal_ them from me...
Rillen-2:  Enough prattle.  Open the thing.
Peldor-2:  Right.  (he prepares to do so)
Peldor:  (points to the nozzle)  Watch out for that.
Peldor-2:  Uh, right.  (he gets out of the way, and then
  turns the valve)

  A dribble of molten lava came out of the nozzle, and hit
the catwalk, sizzling as it slowly melted the steel.

Peldor-2:  Whee.  (closes the valve)
Alindyar:  This proves two things.
Mongo:  And what are those?
Alindyar:  One:  yonder lava is exceedingly hot.  Two:  the
  pipe at this chamber's center is much stronger than steel.
Flint:  Hurrah.
Alindyar:  (smiles smugly)
Lyra:  (watching the lava as it melts a hole in the catwalk
  and drops through, into the cavernous space below)  Hope
  no one's down there...
Peldor:  (spots some moving figures on the catwalks far
  below)  Uh...
Rillen-2:  I fail to see the usefulness of this nozzle, save
  the possibility of aiming it at foes who should happen to
  turn up right at this moment.

  As if on cue, a second of the four doors into this area
flew open, admitting a quartet of dwarves armed in crimson
plate mail.  They hefted large battle axes as they charged
the party, death in their eyes.

red dwarf #1:  Get 'em!
Mongo:  Uh, guys...why are you-
red dwarf #2:  Quiet, you!
red dwarf #3:  We have our orders - any who don't belong
  in the furnace area are to be slain!
red dwarf #4:  And that means you!
Alindyar:  Red dwarves.  Fascinating.  The astrology texts
  never mentioned anything like this...
Mongo:  Quit babbling and DO something!  (he hurls his war-
  hammer in the direction of the charging dwarves)
Alindyar:  Right.  (he follows Lyra's example and begins
Rillen-2:  (produces several small, glinting objects from
Flint:  (stands his ground in front of Mongo, effectively
  blocking the catwalk for now)  No one's gonna move ME...
Peldor-2:  (goes invisible)
Peldor:  (uses his hat of disguise to disguise himself as
  a red-armored dwarf)  Hey, everyone look at me!

red dwarf #1:  What the hell?  (he gets whacked by Mongo's
  sailing hammer)  Argh!  (he stumbles, flirting with the
  catwalk's edge before regaining his balance)  Whoa!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  You'd better pay attention
  to the people who can beat you, rather than fools.
red dwarf #1:  Good advice.  (he hurls his axe, and the
  wepaon bursts into flames as it whirls at Mongo)
Mongo:  Wha-  (he takes a hit in the chest, which dents
  his armor and sprays flame everywhere)  Ugh!  That HURT!
red dwarf #1:  (grins evilly as his axe returns to his
  hand)  What, did ya think it was gonna tickle?!?  Ha ha!
Mongo:  (wiping gibbets of flame from his armor)  Cripes.
Peldor:  Look on the bright side - if he lops your arm
  off, the wound'll be instantly cauterized!
Mongo:  Oh, cheer me up some more, why don't you?!?
red dwarf #2:  (chops at Flint, and their axes meet with
  a clanging sound)  Die!
Lyra:  (casts a Cone of Cold)  Take that!
red dwarf #3:  (ducks, narrowly missing being walloped by
  the magical frost and ice)  Crap!  Look out, Bart!
red dwarf #4:  Huh?  <WHAP>  (he gets blasted, and quickly
  becomes sheathed in snow and ice)
Lyra:  White dwarf.
Alindyar:  (casts Darkness, 15' Radius upon red dwarf #4)
red dwarf #3:  (near the center of the darkness, he finds
  himself suddenly unable to see)  What the hell...?  (he
  manages to find the edge of the catwalk, and the empty
  air beyond)  WhaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaaaaa...(he falls to the
  lava far below, and is burned to a crisp)
Alindyar:  Black dwarf.
Flint:  (exchanging blows with red dwarf #2)  You're not
  getting by me!
red dwarf #2:  We'll see about that, bucko!
Mongo:  (notices that his beard is singed)  Now that does
  it!  Now I'm PISSED!  (he hurls his hammer at the leader
red dwarf #1:  Fu-  (he takes a direct hit in the head, and
  staggers backwards)  Uh...ah...oh...(he teeters, and falls
  off of the catwalk)  ...shiiiiiiiiit!  (like his erstwhile
  companion, he too is fried)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  So much for HIM.
red dwarf #4:  (recovering from the cone of cold, he finds
  himself in the darkness too)  Huh...did my eyes freeze
Rillen-2:  (using his skills to pinpoint the foe's location
  amidst the dark zone, he hurls some metal blades into the
  darkness, eliciting cries of pain from the dwarf)
red dwarf #4:  Argh!  Ugh!  Ogh!
Peldor-2:  (invisible, and having used his earring of flying
  to get onto the catwalk behind the foe)  Boo!  (he kicks
  the dwarf, sending him over the edge)
red dwarf #4:  (surrounded by a sphere of darkness, he falls)
Peldor-2:  Can you fly?  (watching the flare of fire far
  below as the dwarf hits the lava and is roasted)  Hmm,
  guess not.
Peldor:  (stares at his now-visible lookalike)  How'd you
  do that?
Rillen-2:  (draws his sword and approaches Flint and the
  last dwarf)  Skill.
Peldor-2:  Hey, you shouldn't have thrown those!  I was in
  the darkness too!
Rillen-2:  I know.
Flint:  (handily dispatches his foe, whose skill with the
  axe is decidedly inferior to his own)
red dwarf #2:  (falls, and rolls off the edge)
Mongo:  Guess they all had the hots or something.

  The party bound their relatively minor wounds and thought
about which route to take next.  Before they arrived at a
decision, one was made for them, as a gargantuan form rose
up from below.

Mongo:  What's THAT?!?
Peldor:  Looks like a fire monster to me...
Alindyar:  An elemental, perhaps...but fifty feet tall?!?
Lyra:  And growing?!?
Flint:  Neat!
Peldor-2:  (watches as one of the four catwalks is melted
  by the creature's ascension)  Uh...maybe we'd better get
  off these catwalks...unless all of you can fly?
Rillen-2:  Ninjitsu is powerful, but not that powerful.
fire-thing:  (melting a second of the four catwalks as it
  floats toward the party)  Sssss...  (its bottom half or
  "tail" stretches down into the lava hundreds of feet
Flint:  Geez, that thing's big!  (like most of the group,
  he is backing up toward the door corresponding to this
  catwalk, which is now beginning to sag due to two major
  parts of it being melted away)
Mongo:  Let's see how it likes my hammer!  (he hurls the
  weapon at the fire-thing)

  The hammer never came back.

next time :  We leave all this excitement to check up on
           the others...

notes     :  Is Mongo's hammer melted?  Will the fools run
           or fight?  What in the world IS that fire-thing
             Guess what, folks?  Since I'm making this part
           up as I go along, the future isn't set in stone.
           That means that YOU can contribute ideas and
           feedback that might be used in later episodes!
           This doesn't mean that you'll definitely get to
           me in time for a given episode's publication,
           but it's worth a try, if you're quick, since I
           almost always wait at least a day or two between

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