Chapter #143

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

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 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:    late afternoon                                   +
+   Place:   the fortress of the evil Ged, in an alternate    +
+              dimension                                      +
+   Climate: crisp and chilly                                 +
+   "Dying is a very dull, dreary affair.  And my advice      +
+    to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it."       +
+                                   - W. Somerset Maughm      +

                    CXLIII.  A Fitting End

  Reunited in recent moments, the party is moving upward
through the fortress.  They have already accomplished much,
fighting their way up from the dungeons, in the process
freeing some prisoners, destroying a laboratory, and starting
a fire.  Ged has been feebleminded and brought back to normal,
and Mongo's precious hammer has been melted, permanently
ruining its magical properties.
  Somehow, the adventurers sensed that their quarry - the
evil tyrant Ged-2 - was close at hand.

Mongo:  (using his dwarven expertise to judge the distances
  the party has covered)  We've come up at least a couple
  hundred feet.  Probably more.
Flint:  We've got to be in the upper part of the fortress
  by now.
Mongo:  Yeah.  (looks around)
Rillen-2:  I feel that the evil one is near.
Belphanior:  Hey, me too.  I can smell him.
Peldor:  Typical property of a can smell one from
Ged:  Enough of your foolishness.
Alindyar:  This is certainly the most odd of invasions.
Belphanior-2:  Truly.
Flint:  Well said.
Peldor-2:  Shh.  I hear something ahead.

  A pair of huge double doors stood ahead, slightly ajar.
Beyond, the sounds of pitched battle could be heard, and
Mongo rushed forth excitedly.

Mongo:  Hiya!  (kicks open the doors)
Arnold:  Aaa.

  The area beyond the portals was surely the biggest hall
any of the adventurers had ever seen.  Its ceiling stood
a hundred feet above their heads, supported by numerous
pillars, each one as thick as the height of a man.  The
massive chamber spanned at least two hundred feet in width,
and extended for twice that - before it opened to the green
sky, from which a chilly wind came forth into the hall.
  The chamber seemed a suitable place for dragons to fly
down from the skies and land in, such was its size.  Several
stairways at the hall's edges led to other levels, and more
than a few doors led away from the fringes of the place.
Near the center of the hall was an immense firepit, over
which rested a gigantic cauldron.  The huge metal pot was
supported by a pair of thick steel poles, and tongues of
flame licked at its base from the pit beneath.
  Right at the moment, this great hall appeared to be the
battleground of choice for a number of combatants.  A large
group of men and women in rags was scattered around the
vast chamber.  Though unarmored, most of these people were
bearing weapons of some kind.  Various humanoids were doing
battle with the ragged humans, and freshly arrived from one
of the hall's many exits was a trio of armored fire giants,
their black skin gleaming in the light of the torches in
the walls and the green sky.  From another exit streamed a
horde of undead, who had apparently intended to attack the
half-naked men and women.  The rotting ones had, however,
been stopped in their moldy tracks by the arrival of a
very large silver dragon.  Even as the adventurers watched
in awe, the hundred-foot-plus dragon swatted a dozen of the
skeletons with its tail, smashing them to flinders.


map of the hall (compressed somewhat - remember that it's
  over 400' x 200'):


      ^   ^   ^   ^   ^
                           <----  ledge opening into sky
    |                   |
    |           //      |
    |        <:===----  |
    |           \\  #  #      *    adventurers (13)
    |              ## # |     .    ragged humans (scattered)
                     #  |     G    trio of fire giants
    |  .                |     x    humanoids (scattered)
    |    . x          [[[     #    undead group
    |     .x  x         |
    ]]] . x             |      //
    |    .   x        G |   <:===----  silver dragon
    | .    x                   \\
    |                   |
                        |     [[[ or ]]]  stairs into hall
    |                   |
    |         *       [[[
    |________   ________|

Rillen:  Truly this will be a battle of epic proportions.
Alindyar:  Methinks mapping is pointless at this juncture.
Peldor-2:  Yeah.
Belphanior:  (regarding the ragged humans)  Those must be
  the prisoners we freed at the outset.
Mongo:  Now how in the HELL did they get up here before
Ged:  Boccob's will, no doubt.
Peldor:  Hrmph!  Boccob's a bozo and you know it.
Ged:  Choose your words carefully, thief.
Belphanior-2:  What is yonder silver dragon doing here?
Flint:  I don't know, but I intend to stay out of its way.

  Quickly, the various adventurers scattered into the room,
each doing what he or she felt was most appropriate.

Mongo:  (hefts his half-melted hammer and charges toward
  the humanoids menacing the ragtag humans)  The cavalry's
  here, have no fear!
Flint:  (follows his liege into battle, axe held high)  Hey,
  you made a rhyme!
Rillen:  (unslings his longbow and begins choosing targets)
Rillen-2:  (draws his katana and heads for the fire giants)
  There shall be blood tonight.
Arnold:  Ah-nold!  (charges toward the giants)
Belphanior-2:  No humanoids shall menace half-naked people
  while _I'm_ around!  (dashes toward the humanoids)
Sparky:  (runs after his master)  Grr!
Peldor:  (goes invisible and slinks in directions unknown)
Peldor-2:  (likewise)  Hey!  (realizes that two invisible
  people can't see one another)
Belphanior:  (opens his Book of Beasts and begins casting
  a summoning spell)  Time to conjure up some help.
Ged:  What's that black book you've got there?
Belphanior:  Nothing.  (he continues with his incantations,
  ignoring the priest/mage)
Ged:  Well.
Alindyar:  (begins casting Summon Spider)
Lyra:  (begins casting Telekinesis)
Ged:  Hmm, no time to conjure an elemental...(he begins
  casting Evard's Black Tentacles in the area of the band
  of undead)
Lightbringer:  Smash those undead!
Ged:  Not now.  Can't you see that I'm busy?
grey cat:  (sensing that this isn't the place for him, he
  leaps from Ged's pack and dashes for cover, running into
  a nearby stairway where no one can spot him)  Meow.

  Various combats were in progress at every quarter...

orc:  Harg!  (he gleefully cuts down a defenseless man)
Mongo:  Hey!  Hey you!  (he wallops the pig-faced humanoid
  in the head, splattering brains everywhere)
Flint:  (chops a gnoll's legs out from under it)  Whoa!
gnoll:  (falls)  Argh!
hobgoblin:  (prepares to swing at the dwarf)  Heh heh heh.
  WhuGGGG!  (it gets impaled by two arrows, and falls to
  the floor gurgling)
Rillen:  My point exactly.
Belphanior-2:  Slayers of innocent men and women!  (he
  cuts down a goblin)
goblin:  Ya fergot children!
Sparky:  (tackles the goblin, ripping its head off within
  moments)  Snarl!
other goblins:  (cower fearfully)
men and women:  (begin cheering, and fight back with renewed
  vigor)  Yea!
Mongo:  That's the spirit!

Rillen-2:  (slashes a fire giant, wounding it)  Time to
  meet your maker, large one.
fire giant #1:  Argh!  Not yet, hood-boy.
Arnold:  (barrels into the giant, sword-first)  Aaa!
fire giant #1:  Urgh!  (he watches as blood flows from
  a chest wound)
Rillen-2:  Good move.
Arnold:  Thandks.  (they back up, facing the giant and
  his two companions)
fire giant #2:  I thinks you outnumbered.
Rillen-2:  Really?  I wasn't aware that your kind could

zombie:  (bats ineffectually at the silver dragon)  Duh.
silver dragon:  (grabs the undead in one claw and crushes
  it)  How disgusting.
skeleton:  (stabs the huge dragon, wounding it ever so
silver dragon:  What?  (for the first time, it notices
  the adventurers)  Hmm.  (it turns, and lumbers in that
  general direction, smashing a ghoul and two zombies who
  stand in the way)
other zombie:  (knocked aside, it falls into the firepit)

Lyra:  (completes her telekinesis, and causes a gnoll near
  Mongo to levitate upward)
gnoll:  Whaaaaa?!?
Lyra:  (smashes the gnoll into the ceiling with great force
  before letting it go)  Time for you to take a fall.
gnoll:  (half-dead, it begins falling)  AAAAIEEE!!!  (it
  lands atop an orc, killing both itself and the swine-kin
Alindyar:  (completes his spell, and fifteen spiders of all
  sizes - mostly fairly large - appear on the scene and
  scuttle toward the humanoids)  Kill all of the humanoids
  but ignore the others!
spiders:  (move to comply)
Alindyar:  (pleased with himself)  Excellent.
Belphanior:  (completes his spellcasting)
giant slug:  (appears)  Sss?
shambling mound:  (appears)  Gronk?
Belphanior:  Get those fire giants!
giant slug:  (slithers toward the giants)
shambling mound:  (shambles after the slug)  Gronk!
Belphanior:  And don't kill each other...!
Ged:  (completes his spell, and numerous black tentacles
  materialize near the undead, killing several and pinning
  down others)  Yes, by Boccob!
Lightbringer:  Now let us go and slay those undead!
Ged:  Hmm...
Rillen:  (nearby, he fires two more arrows, hitting the lead
  fire giant in the shoulder)
assorted humanoids:  (they panic as the horde of spiders
  arrives amidst their ranks)
fire giants:  (notice the fifty-foot long slug headed toward
  them)  Huh?
Lyra:  Why summon so much firepower for help?
Belphanior:  'Cause you never know who else might show up
  to fight us...

  Just then, one of the doors into the room shattered into
splinters, admitting a couple of familiar faces as well as
a few unfamiliar ones.

Ged-2:  (surveys the situation)  Well, well, well.
Lyra:  Look!
Ged:  Yea, I see him.
Mongo-2:  (standing next to Ged-2)  Hah!  I bet they thought
  they'd killed me!
Ged-2:  Probably.
huge golem-like thing:  (standing fifteen feet tall, its
  body below the neck is covered with oversized muscles,
  while its head is normal-sized, tiny in comparison)  Aaa?
Ged-2:  (instructs the golem)
Alindyar:  Fascinating!  Yonder construct resembles-
Ged:  Yea, I'm not blind.  It kind of looks like Arnold.
Belphanior:  Maybe it's this dimension's version of the big
human with purple skin:  (standing next to Ged-2)  Ssslth.
Ged-2:  Very well, go get them.
purple guy:  (his clothes dissolve, and his body morphs into
  a large glob of purple jelly, which oozes toward the field
  of battle)
soldier-type:  (runs out of a nearby exit, screaming)  Fire!
  Fire!  There's fire below!  It-
Arnold-2:  (swats the guy out of the way, breaking his neck
  in the process)  Aaa.
Ged-2:  Oops...oh well, I can always get more soldiers...
Mongo-2:  I'm sure someone will take care of any fire that's
  burning below.
Ged-2:  Yea.
Belphanior:  What a bastard.
Ged:  Looks like an utter disregard for life to me.

  Total chaos reigned at this point.  The giant slug and the
shambling mound joined Rillen-2 and Arnold in attacking the
trio of fire giants, while Alindyar's spiders assisted the
adventurers who were fighting the humanoids.  Ignored by
the silver dragon, the mob of undead hobbled and crawled in
the direction of the humanoids and humans.  The dragon was
occupied elsewhere, as it faced off against Ged-2, Arnold-2,
and Mongo-2.

Belphanior:  (hasting himself, he makes his way toward the
  humanoids)  Time for battle.
Rillen:  (fires two arrows at Ged-2, but the missiles are
  deflected by some unknown source)  What?
Ged:  (dashes in the direction of the undead)  Arnold!
Arnold:  (busy trading blows with one of the beleagured fire
  giants)  Whaaat?
Ged:  To me!  I need cover!
Arnold:  Righdt!  (he breaks away, leaps over the giant
  slug's tail, and follows his liege)
Ged-2:  (to the dragon)  I don't know who you are, lizard,
  but you'll rue the day you-
silver dragon:  (inhaling)
Ged-2:  Quick!  Stop him!
Mongo-2:  (hurls his black hammer at the silver dragon)  Ha!
  Take that, you do-gooder!
silver dragon:  (reels from the blow)  Ungh!  You'll not
  deter me, evil ones!  (it breathes upon the three foes,
  unleashing a mighty gout of frost and ice)
Mongo-2:  (staggers)  Ungh!
Arnold-2:  (even his non-living tissues are frozen by this
  extreme cold, and he falls)  Aaaa-
Ged-2:  (laughs as the ice and snow falls short of him in a
  spherical area, hinting at some kind of protective shell
  or globe)  Nothing can stop me!  Nothing!
silver dragon:  (looks around, then closes in on the elf)
  Anti-magic shells are fine and dandy, but I can still
  reach you with claws...
Mongo-2:  (interposes himself between Ged-2 and the dragon
  and waves his hammer)  Come and get some more of this!
  (he hurls the weapon, hitting the dragon in the head and
  actually driving it back)  Hah!
silver dragon:  Argh!
Ged-2:  Yea.  (draws a sword)
Belphanior:  (hastes himself with his sword, as he sprints
  toward Ged-2)  A sword?!?  Him?!?
orc:  (tries to slash the elf as he runs by)
Belphanior:  (dodges the attack, and stabs the humanoid in
  passing, slaying it and gaining its life energy)  Thanks.
Ged:  (faces the undead)  Back!  (he brandishes his holy
  symbol and attempts to turn the undead)
skeletons:  (four of them dissolve)
zombies:  (three of them dissolve)
ghouls:  (two out of four dissolve)
Ged:  Boccob's might now confronts you, O evil ones!  Cease
  and desist!
ghouls:  (snarling, they make their way toward the elf)
wight:  (approaches Ged from one side)
Arnold:  Away, dirdy scum!  (he slashes a ghoul, shearing
  off an arm)
ghoul:  Yieeee!  (staggers and falls)
Arnold:  Aaa.  (kicks the thing into the firepit)
ghoul:  Sss-  <CLANG>  (bangs its head on the big iron pot
  before falling into the flames)  YiiIEEE-
Arnold:  Phew.
Rillen-2:  (slashes fire giant #2 with a well-aimed blow,
  severing a leg)
fire giant #2:  AAAARGH!  (he falls)
shambling mound:  Gronk!  (it embraces the fallen giant,
  attempting to crush him to death)
giant slug:  (spits acid upon fire giant #1)
fire giant #1:  ARGH!  (he wipes uselessly at his chest and
  arm, which are covered with the digestive acids)
Rillen:  (buries two more arrows in the giant's arm)
Rillen-2:  (follows with a slash to the chest, spraying the
  giant's blood in all directions)
fire giant #1:  (now clinging to life, he yells in fury and
  staggers)  YEARGH!
Lyra:  (looking for a target, she spies the giant and lets
  him have it, firing five magical missiles)  Maybe this
  will finish him...
fire giant #1:  Ugh!  Agh!  (slain, he falls)
Alindyar:  (casts Stop upon fire giant #3)
fire giant #3:  (halted in place)  Huh?!?  Hey!  HEY!
Peldor:  (invisible, and very near the giant, he spies his
  opportunity, and uses his boots of striding and springing
  to jump, successfully backstabbing the giant)  Ha!  (his
  blow is so excellent that the sword's sharpness power is
fire giant #3:  (badly wounded, as his right leg is severed)
  ARGH!  (he tries to flee, but of course is held in place
  by Alindyar's spell)
Peldor-2:  (backstabs the giant at this moment)  And now we
  shall learn why two Peldors are better than one!
fire giant #3:  (collapses from blood loss)
Peldor:  Well done, Peldor.
Peldor-2:  Of course, Peldor.
Belphanior:  (approaching Ged-2, he has avoided Mongo-2 as
  the latter is busy keeping the dragon at bay)  Time to
  see what your sphere spell really is.
Ged-2:  You'll never get through!  Just to try means death
  for certain!
Belphanior:  I think you're bluffing.  (he steps within ten
  feet of Ged-2)  See, I'm right.  Now why did you go and
  lie to me like that?
Ged-2:  (waves his sword)  Away!  Stay away!
Belphanior:  (approaches, his own sword raised)
Ged-2:  (he makes an unexpected and daring lunge, scoring a
  minor wound upon Belphanior)  Ha!
Belphanior:  Hah!  A tiny scratch like that won't even faze
  me!  And since no magic will work inside this anti-magic
  zone, you can't possibly outduel me, either!
Ged-2:  On the contrary...(holds up his sword)  The tip of
  this weapon is coated in the most potent poison known to
  man.  Or should I say elf?  In any case, you should be
Belphanior:  (wobbles on his feet)  Damn you...(he falls to
  the floor)
Ged-2:  Hah!  Pure evil triumphs again!  Well, since the
  poison was only good for one application...(he sheathes
  his sword)  Time to drop the anti-magic shell and get
  down to some serious spell-casting.  (he does so)
Mongo-2:  If he had known who he was dealing with, he'd
  also have known that you were no pushover in swordplay.
Ged-2:  Yea.  Too bad for him, isn't it?
Ged:  (waving Lightbringer at the undead)  Good shall win
  the day!
zombie:  (gropes at Ged, bruising him)
Rillen:  (fires two arrows at the thing, slaying it)  That
  should stop him dead in his tracks.
Arnold:  Aaa!  (hacks another skeleton, destroying it)
Belphanior-2:  (looking around his immediate area, he notes
  that the humanoids are almost all slain, mainly due to
  the prowess of Mongo and Flint)  Hmm.  (to the men and
  women who remain alive)  You people!  Get back from this
  battle - it's going to get a lot more dangerous soon!
ragtag people:  (they scatter)

Ged-2:  (brandishing a rod tipped with a small hand)
  Soon, all shall die...
shambling mound:  (between it and Rillen-2, the last fire
  giant is not long for this world)
Rillen-2:  (to the Peldors)  All is well here.  Go elsewhere
  and be useful!
Peldor:  He doesn't like us anymore.
Peldor-2:  His loss.  (they both become invisible again and
  wander away)
giant slug:  (somehow sensing that it is no longer needed
  in this area, it yet cannot find Belphanior to give it
  new orders, so it heads in the direction of the undead
  who remain)
wight:  (looking around)  Sss!
giant slug:  (spits acid at the wight from behind, hitting
  it squarely in the back)  Phffft!
wight:  Aie!  (staggers and claws at its back)  Aaaaaie!
purple glob:  (collides with a fleeing prisoner, swallowing
prisoner:  (dissolves rapidly)
Lyra:  (using her boots of flying, she sails above the glob
  whilst spellcasting)
Ged:  (waving Lightbringer, he turns undead again)  To your
  vile maker, foul ones!
Lightbringer:  (glowing)  Hit them!
Ged:  No need.
skeleton:  (dissolves)
zombies:  (two, both dissolve)
ghouls:  (three, all dissolve)
wight:  (two, both dissolve)
Ged:  Boccob has seen to it!  No more undead!  (he turns
  and assesses the other combatants)
Lightbringer:  Hrmph.
Arnold:  All righdt!  (he whirls and charges Mongo-2)
Mongo-2:  Hah!  (hurls his hammer at the warrior)  Don't
  even think about it!
Arnold:  Aaargh!  (hit in the chest, his armor is dented,
  and he sails backward ten feet)
Mongo-2:  (catches his hammer)  Hah hah!
Mongo:  Hey!  You!  Aren't you supposed to be dead?!?
Mongo-2:  (turns)  You!  (hefts his hammer)  You'll die
  this time!
Mongo:  (hefts his own hammer)  No way!  (he charges his
  counterpart, and their hammers lock as they go to it)
silver dragon:  (with Mongo-2 out of the way, its path to
  Ged-2 is clear, and it prepares to cast spells or claw
  at the evil one)  Your time is near, foul one!
Ged-2:  Never!  (he waves his rod, and a gigantic, opaque
  hand appears, grabbing the dragon's throat)  How's that
  grab you?
silver dragon:  (stops its advance and tries to pry the
  thing loose)  Ghak!
Ged:  Boccob!  It's a Bigby's Crushing Hand!
Ged-2:  (notices his good counterpart)  Of course, you
  fool!  Here, wait a moment, and I'll make one for you!
Ged:  Uh-oh.  (begins preparing his next spell)
Lyra:  (floating above the purple glob, she completes her
  spell, and a large web appears and covers the glob)
Alindyar:  (muttering to himself, as Lyra is rather far
  away)  Well done.  (he commands his spiders to advance
  on Ged-2, hoping to distract the elf, and then readies
  his staff of the magi)
Ged:  (to Arnold)  Help that dragon, Arnold!  Cut away the
Arnold:  (gets up and staggers toward the dragon)  O-kay!
Rillen:  (fires two arrows at Ged-2, but they bounce off
  of his armor)  Damn.
Ged-2:  What was that?!?
Arnold-2:  (explodes from beneath a pile of ice and snow,
  his oversized body blue in most places)  AAAAAAA!  (he
  reaches out with one huge hand and grabs Belphanior-2,
  who was standing near the pile of icy residue)
Belphanior-2:  Whaaa-
Arnold-2:  (slams the elf into the floor with devastating
  force, and then begins pummeling him)  Aaa!
Ged-2:  Good boy, Arnold!
Sparky:  Grr!  (leaps onto the construct's back and begins
  tearing chunks of flesh off)  Graar!
Arnold-2:  (ignores the wolf as it mashes Belphanior-2)
Rillen:  (buries two arrows in Arnold-2)  That is one big
  monster, there...
Arnold-2:  Aaa.  (ignores the arrows)
Alindyar:  (uses his staff of the magi to conjure a huge
  fire elemental)  Heh.
fire elemental:  (appears, and regards the drow)
Alindyar:  No time to take chances...(points to Ged-2)
  Slay him, please.
fire elemental:  (obeys, blazing a path across the huge
  hall as it heads for the evil elf)
shambling mound:  (having crushed the life from the last
  fire giant, it looks around in confusion, ignoring the
  numerous wounds that the giant inflicted upon it over
  the course of their battle)  Gronk?
Rillen-2:  (looks around as well)  Hmm.  (he somersaults
  his way toward Arnold-2)
purple glob:  (dissolves the web that Lyra cast, and moves
  to intercept the fire elemental as it approaches Ged-2)
silver dragon:  (still ripping at the hand which is slowly
  crushing its throat)  Ghak!
Arnold:  Led me helb.  (he begins sawing at the magical
Mongo:  You motherfucker!  (he is going at it full force
  with Mongo-2, and the ground around the two is shattered
  from their giant-strength blows)
Mongo-2:  Die!  I'll crush your head and eat your heart!
  (they continue to trade hammer blows)
Arnold-2:  (shaking Belphanior-2 like a rag doll)
Belphanior-2:  (makes a weak stab at the golem, scoring
  very little damage)  Ugh...
Rillen-2:  (slashes Arnold-2, scoring mighty damage from
  the backstabbing attack)  Die, lifeless one!
Arnold-2:  (drops Belphanior-2 and turns)
Peldor-2:  (backstabs the purple glob, but does no apparent
  damage)  Huh?  (notices that his sword is dissolving)  Oh
Peldor:  (seeing this, he holds off with his own backstab)
  It ate your sword!
Peldor-2:  Yeah, no shit!  (he whips out a scroll)
Peldor:  What's that?
Peldor-2:  Spell scroll.  Thieves of our expertise can cast
  spells from these, you know.
Peldor:  Oh, yeah, I knew that.
Flint:  (heading toward Ged-2 from another direction)

fire elemental:  (undeterred by anything, it collides with
  the purple glob, and both are obscured as a large cloud
  of oily smoke is generated)
Lyra:  (begins spellcasting)
Ged-2:  (having put his Bigby-rod away, he is already
Ged:  (also spellcasting)
giant slug:  (without Belphanior to command it, the thing
  slithers into a side passage, surprising the hell out of
  a squad of ogres who were headed here to help Ged-2)
ogres:  Shit!  (they turn and flee from this huge monster
  whose body fills the passage entirely)  Run for your
  lives!  It's a demon!
giant slug:  (merrily gives chase, quickly vanishing from
  sight)  Sss!
shambling mound:  (wanders toward Belphanior's fallen body)
Ged-2:  (thinks the plant-thing is coming to attack him)
  No matter!  (he lets his Meteor Swarm go, launching eight
  missiles at the silver dragon, Arnold, and the shambling
  mound, all of whom are in the same approximate area)
Arnold:  Whaaaa-

  There was a series of tremendous explosions as the spell
culminated, and flaming debris and sparks showered the area
as large volumes of smoke and haze were created.

silver dragon:  (badly wounded, it writhes in pain as the
  Bigby's crushing hand continues to choke the life from
  it)  Ghaaa...
Arnold:  (falls, his armor torn in numerous places and
  his body bleeding from numerous wounds)
shambling mound:  (ripped to shreds by the force of the
  multiple blasts, its remains fly in all directions)
Mongo:  (as he and Mongo-2 were at the fringe of a couple
  of explosions, they are knocked down)  Argh!
Mongo-2:  Urgh!  (both dwarves continue to fight, undaunted
  by the blasts)  When I get through with you, I'm gonna
  kill that damn elf!
Lyra:  (also caught in the force of the explosions, she is
  knocked from the air, and falls to the floor, unmoving)
Alindyar:  NO!
Ged:  (though undamaged, his spell is ruined)  Damn it!
Ged-2:  HA!  The mighty triumph!  (he notices Flint coming
  in from one flank)  Huh?
Flint:  (breaks into a run)  You're dead!
Peldor:  (backing away from the purple glob and the fire
  elemental, he and Peldor-2 are approaching Ged-2 from
  the south)  Yeah!  You're dead, Ged!
Peldor-2:  (still casting his spell from the scroll)
ogres:  (four of them spill into the hall from the doorway
  right behind Ged-2)
Ged-2:  (whips out a black rod)  I doubt it.  (to the five
  ogres)  Get them!
ogres:  (two head for Flint, while three head for the two
  Peldors)  Gyah!
Peldor:  I don't know about you, but I'm insulted.
Peldor-2:  Indeed.  I think all five ogres should have
  gone for us.  After all, we _are_ Peldors.
Rillen-2:  (slices Arnold-2 again)  Fall, damn you!
Arnold-2:  (no blood spews forth from his wounds, and he
  swings at the ninja wildly)  Aaa!
Rillen-2:  (deftly avoids the golem's blows, but realizes
  that even one of them could spell doom)
Sparky:  (continues to tear at the golem)  Snarl!
Belphanior-2:  (staggers to his feet)  Urgh.  (he swings
  at the golem, but misses)  Argh.
Rillen:  (fires two more arrows at Ged-2, hitting the elf
  this time)
Ged-2:  (winces at the two arrows which just did nick him)
  Argh!  Ugh!  (he sticks the black rod in his belt and
  begins spellcasting again)  That's it!  Death for sure
  this time!
Alindyar:  (completes his casting of Feeblemind, upon Ged-2
  of course)  Perhaps this will soften you up.
Ged-2:  (shrugs off the spell)  Bah.
Alindyar:  Ah, well, it worked on one Ged today.
fire elemental:  (now much smaller than it was when first
  summoned, it wavers weakly)
purple glob:  (now a mere purple smear on the floor, it is
Mongo:  (both he and his counterpart, bruised and bleeding,
  are greatly weakened)  Argh!
Mongo-2:  (grins and spits blood as his blow lands, then
  reels from another of Mongo's blows)  Ugh!  (both dwarves
  teeter on their feet)
Flint:  (chops at one of the ogres, causing serious damage)
  Fuckin' ogres!
ogre #1:  (wallops Flint with his mace)  Har!
ogre #2:  (misses the dwarf, who recovered quickly and got
  out of the way)
Peldor:  (stabs ogre #3)  Back, smelly one, lest Peldor be
  forced to thrash you!
ogre #3:  (remains unimpressed)
Peldor-2:  (finally finishes his scroll-spell, casting a
  Burning Hands upon ogres #3, 4, and 5)  Peldor triumphs!
three ogres:  (burned seriously, they recoil)  Argh!  Ugh!
Peldor:  Wow.  Remind me to get one of those scrolls.
Flint:  (chops ogre #1 again)  Chew steel, ugly!
Rillen:  (hits Arnold-2 with two arrows)  Will he never

Ged:  (spellcasting)
Ged-2:  (spellcasting)
Alindyar:  (having moved north somewhat from the end of
  the hall where he had been, he is not spellcasting)
  We must help Lyra!
Rillen:  (moves with the drow, to cover him, and hits
  Arnold-2 with another pair of arrows)  I hear you.
Flint:  (mows the legs out from under ogre #1, slaying
  it, and whirls to block a blow from ogre #2)  Whoa!
ogre #2:  Huh?
Peldors:  (both continue to slash and stab at their three
  burned ogres, babbling merrily all the while)
fire elemental:  (seriously weakened, it disappears into
  the fire pit)
Alindyar:  (watches his elemental in shock)  But-
Arnold-2:  (somehow hits Rillen-2 with one huge fist,
  knocking him down)  Aaa!
Sparky:  (tears bones out of the golem's body)  Grarr!
Arnold-2:  Aaa.  (it reaches up and grabs the wolf, and
  then hurls it right at Rillen-2)  Aaa!
Rillen-2:  (knocked down even as he was getting back to
  his feet)  Oof!
Belphanior-2:  (slashes the golem from behind, cleaving
  it with the blow of a lifetime)
Arnold-2:  (sliced in half, it falls in two pieces)  Aaa?
  (both parts cease to move)
Belphanior-2:  Whew.  (he administers to Sparky, who lies
  nearby, unmoving)  Oh, no...
Rillen-2:  (stands up)  You don't look so good, yourself.
silver dragon:  (at the point of death from the Bigby's
  Crushing Hand, it tears weakly at the thing)  Urg...
Ged:  Aw...(he quickly finishes his spell, and an Anti-
  Magic Shell of his own appears around him, and since he
  was standing near the silver dragon, the Bigby's hand
  is dispelled)  For Boccob!
Lightbringer:  (ceases to glow, and to talk)
silver dragon:  (instantly changes form, becoming a quite
  familiar person...the wizened Alindyar-2)  Ahh...
Ged:  You?!?
Alindyar:  'Tis I...I who had thought to rid the world of
  the evil one...'twas good to see that the old shape
  change still worked...or did it?
Ged:  You did fine.  (he notices the extremely weakened
  state of the ancient drow)  You need some help, pal.
Alindyar-2: must not sacrifice your anti-
  magic shell...
Ged:  Bullshit!  I'm going to save you, and that's final!
Ged:  (turns to see the towering demon that Ged-2 just
  summoned)  Ulp.
  STILL...OTHER WAYS.  (it rips a pillar from the hall's
  floor and ceiling and hurls it at the grey elf and the
Ged:  Boccob-  (he leaps aside, and is only brushed by the
  heavy stone missile)  Argh!  (several of his ribs crack)
Alindyar-2:  (barely able to move, he is not so lucky, and
  is smashed to a pulp as the pillar lands upon him)
Ged:  NO!!!
demon:  HAH HAH HAH!
Ged-2:  (grins evilly)  Good thing I had favors to call
  in...of course, I AM the most powerful spellcaster on
  this world...
Alindyar:  (having reached Lyra, he feeds her one of his
  potions of extra-healing)
Lyra:  (not really that close to death to begin with, she
  sits up)  Uh?
Alindyar:  (points to the demon)  We have need of your
  summoning sorts of magic...
Lyra:  I hope that's not the only reason you helped me...
Alindyar:  Of course not.
Lyra:  (regards the demon)  Whoa, that's a big one.  (she
  begins spellcasting, and flies back up above the battle)
Mongo-2:  (raises his hammer)  DIE!
Mongo:  (raises his half-melted hammer in defiance)  NEVER!

  The two dwarves collided, as did their hammers, and there
was a sharp <CRACK> which was followed by flying shards of
metal, some of which buried themselves in the two foes.

Mongo:  (looks in amazement at the headless handle he is
  now holding)  Fuck!
Mongo-2:  Ho, ho, ho.  Mine is better, it seems...and yours
  is gone...
demon:  (preparing to use one of its innate powers)
Rillen:  (fires two arrows at the demon, but the arrows
  bounce off of its red hide)  Uh-oh.
demon:  BAH.
Rillen-2:  (hurls one of his shuriken at the demon)  Hai!
demon:  (slightly wounded by the silver missile)  ARGH!
  (the demon begins waving its hands in arcane gestures)
Ged-2:  All goes well...
Belphanior:  (rises behind the elf like a specter of doom)

demon:  (having absolutely no regard for the safety of any
  of the combatants save itself and Ged-2, it exploits this
  tactical advantage, casting a fireball of enormous size)

  There was a thundering explosion as the huge ball of flame
exploded, filling a rather large portion of the hall with
searing fire.

Rillen-2:  (caught at the approximate center of the blast,
  he is burnt beyond recognition)
Belphanior-2:  (likewise)
Sparky:  (likewise)
Peldor:  (standing near the fringe of the fireball, he is
  blown into a wall, and falls limply)
Peldor-2:  (likewise)
three ogres:  (a bit closer to the flames, they all die)
Rillen:  (on another fringe of the blast, he is burned
  badly, and falls)
Alindyar:  (fortunately, he wasn't that close to Rillen
  anymore, and only gets wounded, though his spell is
  ruined)  Aie!
Lyra:  (high in the air, she remains unfazed)
Mongo:  (both he and Mongo-2 are grazed by the blast, and
  are knocked down)
Ged:  (witnessing this carnage from afar, he begins hasty
Lyra:  (also spellcasting)
Ged-2:  (gloating from behind the demon)  Hahahah!
Belphanior:  (having risen behind the evil elf)  Hey,
  turn around.
Ged-2:  (he whirls)  What-
Belphanior:  (backstabs his foe, ruining his spell)  Die!
Ged-2:  (reels and falls, badly wounded)  Ugh...but how?!?
Belphanior:  (clutching his periapt of proof against poison
  in one hand)  One dirty trick deserves another...(he
  raises his sword)  Get ready to die.
ogre #2:  (wounded, it breaks away from Flint nearby and
  tackles Belphanior, knocking him away from Ged-2)
Ged-2:  Excellent.  (he gets to his feet, and pulls out
  the black rod he was waving around before)  Time to
  erase some of you fools.
Flint:  Hmm, Belphanior's strike must not have been fatal.
  Well, I can remedy that.
Ged:  (casts a Flame Strike upon the demon)  Boccob!
demon:  (laughs as the spell fizzles around his body)  HA!
Lyra:  (casts Dismissal upon the demon)  Go back to the
  pits from which you came!
demon:  (resists the spell)  BAH!  NO ONE CAN STOP ME NOW!
Belphanior:  (gets to his feet, having slipped free of the
  ogre's grasp by stabbing it in the gut)  Whee.  (he turns
  around slowly, to face the fifteen-foot tall demon who
  is standing right behind him)  Yikes!
Flint:  (charges Ged-2)
Mongo:  (in a fit of rage, he wildly pummels Mongo-2 with
  his mailed fists)  YAAAR!
Mongo-2:  Ugh!  Argh!  (he reels, and raises his hammer)
  I'll smash you!
Mongo:  (he leaps forward, wrestling with his counterpart
  for the hammer)  Never!

Ged-2:  (waving his black rod)  Come to me!  Come!
demon:  (picks Belphanior up, preparing to rend him)  YOUR
Belphanior:  (his evil eye glows)  I think not.
demon:  EH?  WHAAAIEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeee...(he suddenly
  collapses, his skeleton turned to jelly by the power of
  the artifact)  Blblbloop.
Belphanior:  (springs free of the thing's grasp and watches
  it die)  Bah.  So much for him.
Ged:  (charges toward Ged-2)
Flint:  (likewise, but closer, he raises his axe)
Ged-2:  (waving his black rod around insanely)  Come!

  Suddenly, a two-foot wide sphere of utter blackness came
out of a nearby wall, leaving a neat hole in its wake.

Ged-2:  Yes!  (he waves the weird rod around, directing
  the black sphere)  Whoa!  Ha ha!
Flint:  (standing directly in the path of the rapidly-
  moving sphere)  Huh?  (he backs up, then flees, but the
  sphere is faster)  Yah!
Ged-2:  (gleefully directs the sphere to mow down Flint)

  First there was the sphere, about to hit the dwarf.  Then
there was just the sphere.  Flint was gone.

Mongo:  (spots this while wrestling with Mongo-2)  No!  NO!
  He killed him!!!  (in a fury, he knocks the hammer out of
  his counterpart's hand)  YARGH!  (he hefts Mongo-2 over
  his head, and hurls him into the firepit)  DIE!
Mongo-2:  (falls into the firepit)  Aaaaaaaaaaaa...
Mongo:  (grabs the dropped hammer, and looks around)  He
  fucking-a killed him...(he pulls an adamantine horn from
  his pack and prepares to wind it)  Graaa!  I'll kill him!
  Him and this whole fucking place!  Raze it to the ground!
Ged-2:  (prepares to do further evil with the sphere)  I'll
  wipe all of you out now!
Rillen:  (on the other side of the hall, he staggers to his
  feet, bow in hand, and nocks an arrow)  Not if I can help
  it.  And I can.  (he fires two arrows)
Ged-2:  Wha-  (both arrows hit the black rod, knocking it
  from his hand)  No!  (the thing skids across the floor,
  mangled and ruined)  You broke it!
Rillen:  Of course.  (collapses again)
sphere of annihilation:  (hovers for a moment, then sails
  toward Ged-2)
Ged-2:  What?!?  No!  (he begins running)
Ged:  Gotcha!  (he tackles his counterpart, and both fall)
Ged-2:  No, you fool!  You've doomed us for sure now!
Ged:  (aware that his anti-magic shell is still in effect)
  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, you're history.  (he gets
  Lightbringer out and begins pummeling Ged-2)  Murderer!
sphere of annihilation:  (collides with Ged's anti-magic
  shell and blinks out)
Mongo:  (still in a rage, winds his horn)
Belphanior:  What are you doing?!?
Mongo:  I'm bringing this place down!  (the fortress begins
  to rumble)  He killed Flint!
Ged:  (to Ged-2)  Where's your magic mirror?!?  Tell me!
Ged-2:  (his lips bloody)  Never!
Ged:  Shit!  We've got to get out of here, now!  Tell me!
Ged-2:  Go fuck yourself.
Alindyar:  (limps forth, casting ESP)  Allow me.
Ged:  (backs away from Ged-2, so that the latter won't be
  within his anti-magic shell)  Okay.
Ged-2:  (tries to resist the spell, but can't)
Alindyar:  I have learned that which we need to know.  The
  mirror is in a large chamber up that flight of stairs.
  (he points to some stairs)
Ged:  Good.  Let's go find it.
grey cat:  (dashes out and leaps into Ged's arms)  Meow!
Ged:  Where have you been?
Lyra:  (lands beside Alindyar)  Nicely done.
Ged-2:  (having scrambled away a bit, he is now casting
  another spell)  Hah hah!  I'll have the last laugh!
Ged:  Boccob...somebody get him!
Alindyar:  (he and Lyra are closest to the evil elf, about
  five feet, in fact)  Uh...(he looks at his staff of the
  magi, held tightly in his hand)
Ged-2:  Ha!  It's this simple.  I wish-
Alindyar:  (breaks his staff over his knee)  NO.
Lyra:  (holds tightly to her mate)

  There was a tremendous explosion, as all the energy in
the magestaff was released.  Ged-2 didn't even have time
to scream before he was incinerated.  The shockwave of the
blast exceeded even that of the earthquake Mongo had
called.  When the smoke cleared, there was a huge black
crater, but no sign of Ged-2 or either of the drow.

Ged:  Boccob!
Mongo:  No...oh, no...
Peldor:  (wakes up, battered and bloody, and stumbles about
  in a daze)  Wha' happened?
Ged:  Uhh...I'd guess they're dead.  All three of them.
Belphanior:  Well, technically-
Ged:  They're probably dead, and we both know it.

  The shock of recent events didn't even have time to sink
in, for the fortress was coming apart, and any delay meant
certain death.  Gathering those who they could, the living
adventurers followed Alindyar's instructions, ascending the
stairs and entering a large trophy room of some kind.  Sure
enough, mounted there in the wall was a large black mirror,
identical to the one the party had used to get to this
alternate dimension in the first place.

Ged:  Hurry, now.  We've got to get out of here.
Mongo:  Let's hope the damn thing works.
Peldor:  If you hadn't blown the earthquake horn, we could
  take our time getting out of here...
Mongo:  (stares at the thief with icy eyes)  Drop it.
Peldor:  ...
Peldor-2:  (holding a scroll)  We won't be joining you, of
  course.  (next to him are the motionless, charred forms
  of Belphanior-2, Sparky, and Rillen-2)
Peldor:  Huh?
Ged:  But-
Peldor-2:  I can use this scroll to get us back to safety.
  From there, I'll see what can be done about these.
Peldor:  (shakes hands with his counterpart)  Uh...there
  aren't words to fit this occasion...
Peldor-2:  Never mind.  It's been a blast.
Ged:  Hmph.
Belphanior:  Well...(looks at Belphanior-2)  Take good care
  of him.  He's not such a bad guy.
Mongo:  (watches as a huge pillar falls, taking out a wall)
  Hey, I hate to break this up, but we really need to get
  out of here...
Peldor-2:  (holds his companions as he reads a spell of
  Teleportation from the scroll)  Good luck...(the four of
  them blink out)
Ged:  Well...(he looks at the mirror)
Peldor:  It's sure cold in here.

  A large crack appeared in the floor, and without further
ado, the remains of the party leaped into the mirror and

next time :  back on Oerth...

notes     :  This was a challenging episode to write.  With
           any luck, it made for a serious adventure while
           also paving the way for future plotlines.
             Speaking of which, now is the time to mail me
           ideas for plots and quests you'd like to see the
           party go through.

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