Chapter #389

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Otto            8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief         (CN) +
+  Peldor         20th level human thief                        (N) +
+  Date:        4/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       the sewers beneath the Free City of Greyhawk        +
+  Climate:     completely fetid                                    +
+  "Captain, what do you think?"                                    +
+  "I think we're staring at the asshole of a dead dog - but        +
+   it's worth a try."                                              +
+                                      - from _Executive Decision_  +

                CCCLXXXIX.  Escape From the Depths

  Peldor and Otto have just escaped a swarm of giant rats by climbing
a chain to a ceiling hatch.  As they reached safe heights, however,
they spotted a pack of the larger shapeshifters in the pipe below.
They watched in horror as the first creatures began to crawl up the

Peldor:  Oh, hell.
Otto:  We'd better cut 'em down as they reach us, or else...

  Before Otto could even draw his sword, however, something else came
a-calling in the pipe below.  A huge, scaly form swarmed upon the
shapeshifters in the darkness.  Only faint light from Peldor's torch
reached the bottom of the pipe, and the beast was blacker than the
slimy water that it splashed through.  With a hissing sound, white
teeth the size of shovel blades flashed and cut a shapeshifter in two.
Peldor and Otto stared fascinated as the beast hurled its victim into
the air, the two halves sailing in different directions, and Peldor
shuddered involuntarily.  He was tempted to drop the torch to get a
better look at the thing, but it was the last torch they had, and if
they were to escape they would need its light.

the beast below:  RRRRRRR!  (looks upward, its great yellow eyes
  shining in the torchlight)
Peldor:  Holy shit...
other shapeshifters:  (running away)
shapeshifters on chain:  (begin climbing desperately)
Otto:  (thinking quickly, he produces a small jar and empties the
  contents onto the chain right below him)

  The rare and potent acid, made from the enzymes of rust monsters,
ate through the thick metal links within moments.  As the chain-link
snapped, the climbing foes plummeted to their doom below.  The titanic
beast had already devoured another of the shapeshifters, and still
another was slammed into the wall by the beast's monstrous tail,
crushing it into greenish-black pulp.  The walls of the sewer shook
under the force of the blow.
  The falling shapeshifters landed in the water before the beast,
and floundered for a few moments before they, too, met their doom.

Peldor:  (looks at Otto)  You know, I'd say there definitely _are_
  giant alligators in the sewers of Greyhawk.
Otto:  (closing the hatch)  Giant something...maybe a fucking dragon.
Peldor:  Good thing we're up here...
Otto:  ...and they're down there.  Heh.  (he looks around)  Come on,
  let's get the hell out of here.

  As they closed the trapdoor, they heard a tremendous bellow from
the beast below, the roar of a creature that was the undisputed
king of its domain.  The thieves were happy just to have that sound -
and its maker - safely behind them.
  The hatchway led into a newer, cleaner section of sewer, and they
took heart.  It appeared that they were finally climbing to the upper
levels of the maze, and the end seemed in sight.  They now stood in
a ten-foot wide pipe, with just a trickle of water flowing along its
floor.  Otto had checked this area briefly, when he'd first opened
the hatch, but now they had to choose a direction to venture.

Peldor:  Left.
Otto:  Why left?
Peldor:  Just a hunch.  Besides, left is always lucky.
Otto:  Be realistic.  (they head to the left)

  The next hazard was invisible and undetectable; one moment they
were walking along, cautiously but normally.  The next moment, the
air itself went...bad.  They breathed, then coughed, then gagged;
their torch sputtered, almost going out completely.  By instinct,
Otto backed up, dragging Peldor with him.  About ten feet back, the
air was normal again, and they could breathe.

Peldor:  (still coughing)  W-what was that?
Otto:  Ghak.  (he spits)  I'm thinking a gas pocket.
Peldor:  Gas?
Otto:  (wearily)  Sometimes, underground, natural gases collect over
  time...they form pockets.  Either the gas is lighter than normal
  air, or heavier.  Either way, the shit collects and miners have to
  deal with it.
Peldor:  I guess it's not flammable, or we'd have known by now.
Otto:  Correct.
Peldor:  So what do we do?
Otto:  Hold our breath, and see how far the pocket extends.
Peldor:  Uh...right.  (without waiting to debate who goes first, he
  takes a deep breath and heads forward)
Otto:  Wait-

  Peldor walked on, not daring to take a breath.  The torch sputtered
and went out, but Peldor forged on, feeling his way along the wall.
After a short time, perhaps twenty paces, the strange air stung his
eyes, causing them to water.  It took all the control he had not to
breathe, but he managed to avoid it.  The air smelled odd (this was
relative, given the setting) for fifty paces or so, but then seemed
to be normal.  Peldor walked another ten paces to be sure, then let
his breath out, slowly.  Inhaling the air tentatively, he found it to
be good, and waved before he realized that Otto couldn't see him.
  Otto, somewhat irritated, had already held his breath and dashed
forth, and shortly, he bumped into Peldor on the far side of the gas

Peldor:  Wha- ?
Otto:  It's me.  Good thing I have infravision, isn't it?  (he takes
  the glowing torch and blows upon its end, soon bringing it back to
  life)  If you'd stopped to listen, I would have told you that most
  underground gas pockets impair vision and breathing, if you're
  exposed too long.
Peldor:  (still wiping his eyes)  Sorry about that.
Otto:  Just be thankful you didn't run into a wall.
Peldor:  (grins suddenly)  Are you kidding?  I would never run into
  a wall!

  They both laughed, something they hadn't done in a while, and then
continued on.  Otto was certain that they were gaining altitude, and
he stopped more frequently to check the masonry and pipework around

Peldor:  I never got the impression that you were one for mining...
Otto:  (shrugs)  Once a dwarf, always a dwarf.  It's in the blood.

  After a four-way pipe intersection and several winding turns,
the two adventurers entered a larger, square pipe.

Peldor:  Aha!
Otto:  What?
Peldor:  This is one of the main raceways of the functional sewers!
  We're getting close!
Otto:  Glad to hear it.  Now-  eh?

  They could hear the rustling of wings from above, and Peldor held
the torch high, trying to determine what was making the noise.

Peldor:  Are those birds?
Otto:  No - hit the ground!  Stirges!

  A dozen flying creatures dropped from the ceiling then, causing
no small amount of commotion as they swarmed about the two thieves.
Their long, pointed noses dug for blood, the bat-like monsters
attaching themselves to their prey in some cases.

Peldor:  Argh!  (he stabs in vain at a stirge on his back)  Dammit!
Otto:  Hold still!  (ignoring one of the creatures that has latched
  onto on his arm, he quickly but carefully slices at the one on
  Peldor's back)
stirge:  (gutted, it drops off)
Peldor:  Thanks-  Ow!  (he slashes at a stirge that circles his head)
Otto:  Use your torch - they shy away from fire!  (he pulls out his
  barbed knife and slices open the stirge on his arm)
Peldor:  Torch...torch!  (he begins waving the blazing brand at the
  circling creatures, which do indeed avoid the flame)  It's working!
Otto:  (stabs at another stirge, but misses)  Keep at them!  If we
  kill enough, their pack-tactics won't work and they'll go away!
Peldor:  Right!  (shielding his face with his flashing sword, he gets
  a sudden idea, and TKs one stirge into another)
stirges:  (both fall to the ground, dazed)
Otto:  (steps on one, and impales the other)  Good work!
Peldor:  (cleaves another stirge in two, just before it can land
  on the dwarf's head)  Thanks!

  Through careful teamwork, patience, and a little luck, the two
adventurers persevered, and when the surviving stirges finally flew
away, almost a dozen carcasses were left behind.

Peldor:  (binding several cuts and gashes)  Ow.  Agh.  This hurts.
Otto:  And they'll probably get infected, too.  (he ties off a
  bandage on his own arm)  We've got to get them properly cleaned
  and dressed.
Peldor:  Can't do that down here...
Otto:  Nope.

  They moved on, a fresh spring in their step despite their wounds,
and soon entered a brighter pipe.

Peldor:  Brighter?  (he looks around)  We must be near the top!
Otto:  It's nighttime.
Peldor:  Hmm, good point.  They must have torches on the walls, then.

  Indeed, there were torches on the walls, as they found out moments
later.  The things were spaced out every couple hundred feet, though
only some of them were lit.  Following these, they soon came to a
ladder, its strong iron rungs free of rust and grime.  Eagerly, Peldor
climbed the ladder, stopping at a circular plate of metal.  One good
heave later, the disc was displaced, and the pair of adventurers
breathed the cool night air as they climbed out onto a back alley of

Peldor:  All right!
Otto:  We made it!

  Their jubilation was short-lived, though, for Peldor looked around,
frowning.  Then, a determined and somewhat unpleasant look crossed
his features.

Peldor:  Now to attend to some unfinished business.
Otto:  You're right!  We've got to get help, go back and find Mongo
  and Belphanior and the others.
Peldor:  No, I have unfinished business with someone else...

next:      some startling revelations
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I haven't forgotten about the Adventurers Oscars.  I've
  just been so caught up in writing this storyline that I haven't
  been willing to risk losing my groove to write anything comical.
  Hope that makes sense.

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