Chapter #360

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

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1991-6 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         16th level dark elven wizard                (N) +
+    stone golem                                                    +
+  Peldor           19th level human thief                      (N) +
+    Bosco          11th level halfling thief                   (N) +
+  Date:        1/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       a dark, narrow tunnel                               +
+  Climate:     warm and muggy                                      +
+  "The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  But the smaller     +
+   they are, the higher they rise."                                +
+                                                        - unknown  +

                CCCLX.  Perils of the Little People

  Peldor, Alindyar, and Bosco have embarked upon an epic quest for
a priceless ring.  However, there are a few catches.  The ring isn't
magical, though it is Peldor's engagement ring to Tanya.  To find
the missing ring, the trio of adventurers has been magically shrunken
to mere inches in height.  And their greatest adversaries have not
been dragons or demons, but common spiders and worms!

Bosco:  (trotting along behind Alindyar's two controlled spiders)  I
  wonder how much farther it'll be?
Peldor:  Hopefully not too much.
Alindyar:  Who can say?
stone golem:  (lumbers along silently)

  They followed the tunnel for a short time, and then entered another
larger, wide-open area.  This entire place was criss-crossed with many
sticky strands, gleaming wetly under Alindyar's magical light.  They
ran horizontally for the most part, in large, messy-looking patterns.
These were joined vertically by smaller, isolated strings.

Alindyar:  Webbing!
Bosco:  Great.  More spiders.
Peldor:  Take heart, Bosco, miniature explorer.
Bosco:  Yeah...(he looks around)

  The two spiders which Alindyar controlled were examining the webs
meticulously, as if they knew something the adventurers didn't.  A
moment later, several dark, slender forms dropped silently from some-
where above...more spiders!  Several of these fought briefly with the
friendly spiders, but the latter were overcome so quickly and neatly
that Peldor was scared.

Peldor;  (notices other attacking spiders scuttling toward him and
  the others)  Look out!  They're-

  The thief's shout was cut off as dark forms surrounded the party.

Bosco:  (flying upward, he dodges the spider's stinger, once, twice)
other spider:  (pauses, watching the floating halfling)
Peldor:  (somehow separated from Alindyar, he remains spider-free
  thanks to his ring, but cannot help guard the wizard)  Careful!
Alindyar:  Aie.  (retreating, covered by his golem, he notices red
  marks on the bellies of these new spiders)  Beware!
Bosco:  Why?  Other than the obvious, that is?
Alindyar:  Black widows!  Deadly venom...(making a quick decision,
  he utters a brief phrase in drow)

  Suddenly, the stone golem shifted, growing rapidly!

Bosco:  ...!
Alindyar:  (smiling)

  Quickly reaching a (relative) height of some twenty feet, the stone
construct stepped on one foe, then another.  The second black widow
was only injured, not killed, but several of its legs were crushed,
rendering it incapable of reaching Alindyar.

other black widow spiders:  (break off what they're doing and gang
  up on the huge golem)
stone golem:  (impervious to the spiders' poison, of course, it
  simply smashes foes as fast as it's able)
Bosco:  (sails over to Peldor)  Hey, you okay?
Peldor:  Of course.
Bosco:  Man, that golem's really cleaning house!
Peldor:  Yeah...(he eyes his ring again)  I never realized how good
  of an item this thing is...
Bosco:  Yeah, just think - if you ever have to fight the god of all
  spiders, you'll be in good shape.
Peldor:  True.
Alindyar:  (satisfied with his golem's destruction of the spiders,
  he walks over to the two thieves)  Methinks this battle is over.
Peldor:  Agreed.
Bosco:  And happily.  Black widow venom's bad stuff even if you're
  full-size.  At this size...(he shakes his head)
Peldor:  Of course, my feather tattoos would've helped me against
  their poison, had I been in the fight and gotten bitten.
Alindyar:  Ah.  (he eyes the mass of crushed spiders heaped around
  his golem)  Ofttimes I wonder why no one else thought to get those
Peldor:  (shrugs)  Finders, keepers.
Alindyar:  (sadly)  Aye.
Bosco:  Feathers?  What feathers?

  Alindyar had the golem start sweeping away the webs to clear the
room, and the adventurers pondered their next move.

Peldor:  Say, how'd you get that golem to grow like that?
Alindyar:  'Twas do you put it, an "ace in my sleeve"?
Bosco:  (watching the golem tear away the webs)  No kidding.
Alindyar:  I reduced the golem in proportion to our current size,
  but there was no reason it has to remain thus.  Unlike the three
  of us, it is not bound to a given size.
Peldor:  So you could have it grow all the way back to full size?
Alindyar:  Aye, though that would shatter some section of your inn.
Bosco:  Not to mention the golem would be so big it wouldn't hear
  your next command...
Alindyar:  (frowns)  True.
Peldor:  Hmm, where to next?
Bosco:  And if this is the right way, how come the spiders had it
  blocked?  (he frowns)  Or maybe _they_ stole the ring.
Peldor:  Spider-thieves?
Bosco:  Hey, stranger things have happened.
Alindyar:  No.  (he examines the torn webbing)  These strands were
  recently woven...the black widows had not been here for long.
Peldor:  Then the ring's thieves could have come this way after all.
  (he looks around)  Enough talk.  Let's go find my ring.

  With the thick tangle of webbing gone, they found their next path:
a square, horizontal shaft leading away from one corner.  This was
no rat-hole, but rather some gap between the inn's boards.  The three
adventurers entered the passage, moving quickly; almost as an after-
thought, Alindyar returned his golem to the size it had been before
the battle with the black widows.
  Only moments after entering the square passage, they came upon a
strange form.  The thing looked for all the world like a huge black
mushroom with legs.  A closer examination revealed a tiny insectoid
head; the body was soft and rubbery to the touch.  They were able to
touch it because the insect, whatever it was, had fallen on its side
and was unmoving.

Bosco:  (pokes the thing with his sword-tip)  It could still be alive.
Peldor:  (looks at the ring on his hand)  No.  If it was alive, it
  would have backed away from my ring.
Alindyar:  Aye, good thinking.  (he walks around the bloated corpse,
  scrutinizing it)
Bosco:  First spiders, then roaches, then a worm, then more spiders.
  And now this.  Let's see, what're we missing?
Peldor:  Ants...bees...flies...wasps...termites...beetles...earwigs...
  butterflies...(he counts on his fingers as he rattles off insect
  species)  Wow.
Bosco:  Butterflies?!?
Alindyar:  You can cross "fleas" off of your list.
Peldor:  Huh?  Why?
Alindyar:  (gestures to the corpse)  Because I believe this was one.
Bosco:  That?
Alindyar:  Verily.  Note the bloated body, likely filled with blood.
Peldor:  (ignores a bizarre urge to stab the thing and pop it)
stone golem:  (ignores an even more bizarre urge to kick the thing
  and see how far it would go)
Bosco:  (walks right up to the corpse and peers at it with his x-ray
  vision)  Ugh.  It's not pretty in there.
Alindyar:  Somehow I doubted that it would be.
Peldor:  It's getting late.  Let's go and see what else lies down
  this pathway.
Alindyar:  Impatience...
Peldor:  I've got dinner plans that I've hardly planned!  I _have_
  to have that ring back by sunset today.
Bosco:  (having somehow climbed atop the stone golem, he sits on its
  shoulder, perched like a bird)  Onward, mighty golem!
Alindyar:  What in the world are you up to?
Bosco:  I'm...Bosco, Golem-Rider!
Alindyar:  Oh.
Peldor:  (sighs)  Better to just let him stay up there.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  What makes you think _I_ care where he is?
Peldor:  Good point.

  After a short time, they ran into a pack of hundreds of giant ants.
For a species that was largely overlooked as it was trodden underfoot,
ants were pretty fearsome up close like this.

Bosco:  Yie!  (he floats up into the air)
Peldor:  (faces the ants)  I hope my ring works on this many insects
  of this size...
Alindyar:  I share your hope.

  There was nothing to worry about, for the ring did indeed keep the
ants at bay.

Peldor:  Don't worry, just stick close to me.
Alindyar:  A good idea, and one I shall heed.
Bosco:  (flying over Peldor's head)  This sure is a lot of ants...
Alindyar:  I _could_ use a fireball to clear them out.
Peldor:  (quickly)  No, no, no.  I don't want the inn to burn down.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  'Twas merely a joke.
Peldor:  (cocks his head to one side)  Joke?

  They navigated their way through the swarm of ants, who, repelled
as they were, saw fit to merely watch the intruders into their realm.
From all appearances, the ants were just passing through anyway -
they carried several sheets of thin white stuff, and several oval
eggs of some kind.

Bosco:  A raiding party...
Peldor:  (looking at the egg-like things)  All this is living in the
  walls of my inn?!?
Alindyar:  And every other inn.
Peldor:  Amazing.
Bosco:  It sure is!

  The square passage eventually connected to a larger one, from which
several other exits led.  The first two of these dead-ended or led to
new chambers, but the third bore considerably more fruit.  After some
twists and turns, the tunnel opened into a large area, at the center
of which was a pile of items.

Peldor:  (points)  That's a pearl.
Bosco:  And there's a gold coin.
Alindyar:  That blue
Peldor:  That spear-like thing could be a hairpin.
Bosco:  (eyeing a disc of some sort)  Is that a button?
Alindyar:  I suspect that we have found the lair of some fearsome
Peldor:  (spies a familiar object)  Tanya's ring!
Bosco:  Well, let's go get the thing and go back.  I'm pretty hungry
  by now.

  As they approached the pile of "treasure", they heard a low hiss
from somewhere nearby.  Then, a huge, furry form slunk around the pile
to face them!  The monster looked vaguely familiar...

Bosco:  Harpo!
Harpo:  Sss...
Peldor:  Oh, for crying out loud...
Bosco:  (ignoring Peldor, he takes a step forward)  Harpo, it's me,
  Bosco!  You remember your master, don't you?
Harpo:  (stops hissing and cocks its head)
Bosco:  (boldly strides forth and lets the ferret sniff his hand)
  See?  Sure you do!
Peldor:  (groaning)  Damn ferret took my ring...should've known the
  whole time...
Alindyar:  (to Peldor, in a low voice)  I have an idea.
Peldor:  Idea?
Alindyar:  Indeed.  Kindly Bosco distract the animal.
Peldor:  Right.  (he walks up to Bosco, slowly)  What does Harpo
  have to say?
Bosco:  (shrugs)  Don't ask me, I don't speak ferret.  But he seems
  to recognize me.
Harpo:  (sniffs Peldor)
Peldor:  (remembers that he has to bathe and get ready for dinner
  tonight)  I wonder if it's dusk yet.  (he turns to Alindyar)
Alindyar:  'Tis done.  Come, we should leave.
Bosco:  Why?  I wanna stay and explore-
Peldor:  (looking over the loot pile, he smiles)  No, Bosco, I think
  we ought to do what he says.
Alindyar:  Besides, if my spell of reduction expires, you shall
  suddenly grow to normal size, shattering walls, floors, and your
  own body.
Bosco:  Oh.  Well, when you put it that way...(he faces Harpo one
  last time)  Gotta go now.  I'll see you soon.
Harpo:  (seemingly uncaring, he goes back to sniffing Peldor)

  They left, followed by the curious ferret for a time, until it
became bored and turned back.  Many moments and a few hundred paces

Peldor:  Okay, I know you have the ring, but where is it?
Alindyar:  Invisible.  And resting upon a hovering disc of force.
Peldor:  Where?
Alindyar:  (points)
Peldor:  (walks forward until he bumps into something large and
  invisible)  Ow.  (he gropes the invisible disc, then the object
  resting upon it)  Ah!
Bosco:  (looks shocked)  You mean you got the ring back while I was
  talking to Harpo?
Alindyar:  Precisely.
Bosco:  No fair!  No fair!
Peldor:  What do you mean?  We rightfully pilfered back my stolen
Bosco:  No, I mean no fair because _I_ didn't get to help!
Alindyar:  Fear not, Bosco.  'Twould have been impossible without
  your assistance.
Bosco:  (cheers up)  Really?
Alindyar:  Truly.  Who else could soothe yon savage beast?  (he
  points in the direction of the ferret lair)
Bosco:  Yeah!  Bosco...Beast-Tamer!
Peldor:  (looking around wistfully)  It's going to take us a while
  to get back to our entry point.
Alindyar:  Why bother?  I can teleport us back.
Bosco:  You can?
Alindyar:  Of course.  Why would the spell function any differently
  just because of our reduced size?
Bosco:  I dunno.
Peldor:  Home, then.
Alindyar:  (nods)
Bosco:  Sounds good.  Let's get going before a swarm of wasps finds
Alindyar:  Aye.  (he begins working his magic)

  Shortly, the three adventurers, plus the stone golem, were back in
Peldor's bedroom, at full size once more.

Alindyar:  An...interesting journey, to be sure.
Peldor:  Yeah, but kinda creepy.  Let's make a point to stay in our
  own world.
Bosco:  But then we'd miss all the opportunities!
Alindyar:  Eh?
Peldor:  Bosco, what are you talking about now?
Bosco:  Thievery!  This whole trip gave me an idea, see.  Shrunken
  thieves could go a lot.  No one would suspect anything!
Peldor:  (turning Tanya's ring over in his hands)  Don't tempt me...

next:   Ged's quest begins!
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:  (preferred)    (emergency)
notes:  By the time you read this, I'll be on the road for a nine-
  day getaway, the center of which is a five-day cruise around the
  Caribbean, with three different island stopovers.  This is my
  first cruise, and needless to say, it should be a lot of fun.
  It's also the first time I'll be out of the country since 1979.
    I've posted everything I had stored up (most of the 350s and
  this episode) in the hope that it'll be enough to tide you over
  until I get back.
    I will, of course, provide an account of my adventures upon my

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