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+ THE ADVENTURERS +
+ Epic III +
+ 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 1991-8 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 +
+ firstname.lastname@example.org +
+ Alindyar 17th level drow mage (N) +
+ Lyra 13th level female drow mage (N) +
+ Belphanior (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief (CN) +
+ Otto 8th/10th level dwarven fighter/thief (CN) +
+ the wispy thing (N) +
+ Aja 9th level human priestess of Wee Jas (N) +
+ Jutokai 7th level human archer (LN) +
+ Kinichi 7th level human tracker (N) +
+ Ys 13th level reptilian fighter (LN) +
+ Bosco 12th level halfling thief (CN) +
+ Date: 1/4/577 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: late morning +
+ Place: the City of the Gods, within the Land of Black Ice +
+ Climate: moderate +
+ "Whatever happened here, we missed it." +
+ - from _Aliens_ +
DXLVII. City of Dead Wonders
After a busy day of exploring and fighting, the party has finally
camped and rested. Now - rested and refreshed - they prepare to set
out once more.
/ .___ \
/ / \ \ . and : = doors
: | | |
| | | :
\ \____/ /
Previously, they had ascended to this level and explored one of
four bordering rooms. The time had come to discover what waited in
the other rooms...
Belphanior: Let's take the east one first.
Ys: (cracking his massive knuckles) I'm warmed up now.
Alindyar: As am I. (he casts a Knock spell, opening the portal)
This chamber, hemispherical like the one with the metal construct,
wasn't empty. A circle of black seats ringed the room's center, at
which a squat, wide silver cylinder rested on the floor. The seats
were about twenty feet from the cylinder, spaced in an exact circle
and equally apart. There were twelve of them, more than enough to
seat everyone present...
wispy thing: Aaarp?
Aja: I don't know if we should sit in those seats...
Kinichi: I'm pretty sure we shouldn't.
Belphanior: Look how large the seats are...they're sized for one
like Ys, not for us.
Bosco: Or me!
Jutokai: (examining the cylinder) This thing's part of the floor.
Otto: So are the chairs...hmm, something was meant to go on in this
Bosco: Maybe the pedestal there is for a king or something to stand
on and give speeches.
Alindyar: (shaking his head) I doubt that. (he begins looking
around for mechanisms or other controls)
Lyra: (studying a section of wall, near the door, she ESPs to
Alindyar: (wanders over that way)
They were looking at a series of buttons, lined up in several rows
horizontally. The buttons were of what looked like colored glass,
and were various colors, though most of them were green or red.
Belphanior: I wonder...(he begins pressing buttons, one at a time)
The first button the elf pushed had no effect, and neither did the
second - but the third caused a low humming to begin emanating from
the squat cylinder at the room's center. The chamber dimmed, as the
unseen and unknown light source faded.
Lyra: I think we're supposed to be sitting in those chairs right
Ys: I'm not so sure.
Alindyar: Perhaps, perhaps not. Whatever happens, we can just
watch from here.
Otto: Agreed. It could be a...trap...
The dwarf's voice faded as a strange glow appeared in the chamber's
center, above the squat metal cylinder. The glow quickly changed
form and shape...
Belphanior: I've seen such an image before.
Alindyar: Aye. Such depictions are common within crystal balls and
other scrying devices.
Lyra: And magic mirrors...
The image seemed to solidify into something that looked the same,
from all sides - it looked real, although it wasn't. They were all
staring now at a field of stars, which were "moving" toward them
via the image. The sensation was one of flying through a night sky,
at a high rate of speed.
Kinichi: (eyes wide)
Aja: An impressive sight.
Jutokai: (feeling slightly dizzy)
Bosco: (imagines that this is what it's like to fly through the
stars on the back of a dragon) Ahh...
Just as suddenly as it began, the image ended, fading from sight
Bosco: Hey! It was just getting good!
Belphanior: (fiddling with the buttons, which have all become blue
now) I think it's broken.
Indeed, further attempts were fruitless - there were no more images
to be seen. They fiddled with the buttons, the pedestal, and even
the seats, to no avail; nothing else was happening here.
Alindyar: Some manner of viewing chamber, then.
Lyra: And like most things in this city, it's not working.
Otto: Not anymore, anyway.
Aja: (wondering what the other buttons do, or did)
wispy thing: (flies into the control panel) Pfsss.
Ys: (eyeing the door) Maybe we should explore another chamber.
Belphanior: A good idea.
Kinichi: (heads that way, muttering) Enough of this skulking around.
Jutokai: What, that battle last night wasn't enough action for you?
They checked the south chamber next...
/ \ . and : = doors
| | |_ = 10'
/ .___ \ / \
/ / \ \ / \
: | | | |
| | | : |
\ \____/ / \ /
/ ## \
| #### |
| #### |
\ ## /
This chamber was empty save for a thick metal grille in most of
its center. A panel of buttons and levers was set into the wall
to the left of the door. They were all dim.
Belphanior: Broken before we got here? (he fiddles with the
controls, to no avail)
Bosco: See, we didn't do it!
Lyra: Who are you talking to?
Alindyar: (examining the grille) How odd.
Otto: Maybe it's some kind of big trap.
Kinichi: Doesn't smell like a trap.
Ys: It doesn't have a smell at all.
Aja: (peering through the grillework, she sees numerous black
spheres in the shallow space beneath) Hmm, what's this?
Otto: I doubt it. We need to get this grille off to be sure
Ys: Leave that to me. (he uses his sword to pry the edge of the
grille up, then pulls with his hand, bending the metal) Ungh.
Aja: Is it that tough?
Ys: Yes. Very strong metal...though not strong enough. (he grins
wispy thing: (ignoring the opening Ys made, it flies through the
grille next to the reptilian) Pfsss.
Otto: (peering beneath the grille)
Belphanior: (walking over) What've you got there?
The grillework covered perhaps a foot of open space beneath the
chamber's floor - open save for the neatly-lined rows of dark,
metallic spheres. The bottom halves of these were buried in the
floor itself, beneath the grille; they could see that the orbs
weren't black, merely dark.
Belphanior: What's that?
Lyra: (touches one of the spheres, and her finger comes away with
a black sooty smudge) Can't you smell it?
Kinichi: (finally joins the others, sniffing almost immediately)
Something's on fire here, or was.
Bosco: But if there was a fire under the floor, why isn't the grille
all black too?
Jutokai: Unless they stashed the burnt spheres here...nah, that
doesn't make any sense.
Ys: Maybe the spheres powered something here, something that no
Bosco: (fairly bored with this) I'm gonna go check out the fourth
Nobody really took the halfling seriously, and so it was that he
wandered off on his own. Shortly, he stood before the portal to the
western chamber. He used his dagger-blade to get the door open a
crack - and was surprised when the door slid open on its own!
Bosco: Huh? (he checks the door to see what's what)
He was able to pull it back and forth in its groove, which told
him that the thing was broken.
Bosco: Figures. (he strides into the chamber) Whoa!
Nearby, the main party had come to the conclusion that nothing
of interest was going to happen in the burnt-sphere room.
Belphanior: Whatever happened here, we missed it.
Otto: We'll have to check that last room and see...hmm. (he
Otto: Where's Bosco?
Belphanior: Oh, brother-
Their conversation was interrupted by a loud explosion from
somewhere nearby! The floor trembled beneath their feet.
Otto: Never mind that last question. (he darts for the door)
wispy thing: (flies out of the floor and ahead of the dwarf,
and everyone else) Sprrd!
They all ran, wondering what fearsome foe or terrible trap
the wayward halfling had set off. When they found him, right
outside the western hemispherical room, he was sitting against
the corridor wall, dazed. In his hand, he loosely grasped a
two-foot silver rod tipped with a small black metal sphere.
Bosco: (clearly dazed) Uh...
A strong ozone-like smell wafted through the air, emanating
from the chamber in front of Bosco. Smoke also issued from
the chamber, thick enough to prevent them from seeing what
Belphanior: What've you got there, Bosco?
Bosco: Boom...stick...(he blinks) Ow.
Aja: A rod of some kind.
Belphanior: (takes the thing from Bosco's loose fingers) No...
When the smoke finally cleared enough to allow breathing and
vision, they checked the room Bosco had explored. The place was
one big blast crater - the walls, proven to be strong and highly
durable, were dented and burned. The ceiling had ruptured in one
place, exposing a tangled mess of wires and metal. As for the
contents of the room itself, a number of twisted, blackened
rods (as well as a few longer, staff-like items) were scattered
Otto: Wow, Bosco really did a number on this place.
Belphanior: (holding the rod, he nods) My guess is that this
thing is a weapon...he somehow triggered it and blew the crap
out of this room. (he narrows his gaze) Where, if I'm not
mistaken, there were more such weapons until he destroyed them.
Aja: Makes sense.
Alindyar: And what of that weapon, the one remaining?
Belphanior: What about it? This is exactly the kind of thing I
came here for, and he's gone and destroyed all but one...dammit.
Bosco: (walking about shakily) Where's my rod?
Belphanior: And don't go wandering off again! (he stalks away)
There was, however, really nowhere to stalk away _to_, since
they had explored all of the chambers. They had found no routes
to other new rooms, and searching for secret portals they might
have missed promised to be a lengthy and tedious process. It
was Kinichi's astute eye that caught the answer, as the tracker
gazed upward, at the ruined ceiling.
Kinichi: Jutokai, look.
Jutokai: (wanders over) Eh?
Kinichi: There's another level up there.
Jutokai: (peering up at the wrecked ceiling) Ah! So there is.
Kinichi: (whistles, getting the others' attention)
Shortly, they had scouted the new area, secured ropes, and made
the climb, one way or another...
Alindyar: (levitating about happily)
They now stood in a corridor between two rooms, the middle of
which had been exposed to the lower level by Bosco's accident.
The light level here was very, very dim, so they used a spell to
provide some illumination. However, when they neared the first
of the two doors, the chamber gradually got brighter.
Aja: Sorcery, for sure.
wispy thing: Brrrp.
These portals were like the others, except that they were sealed
and could not be pried or forced open. Alindyar solved this with
a Knock spell, which did the trick. The door slid open, revealing
a high, cylindrical room that was about thirty feet across and a
hundred high. At several different heights, walkways ran around
the perimeter of this room; they were linked by a vertical shaft
that ran from the entry-level floor all the way up to the highest
of the circular walkways.
/ o\ | = 10'
| | o = vertical shaft
\._/ . = entrance
| | < = hole in floor, from below
The walls at each of the walkway levels were covered with buttons,
levers, switches, and other odd controls. Large squares of glass
were set above some of these devices, and in some places were large
chairs, like those in the other room below.
Belphanior: Jackpot. (he strides into the room)
Alindyar: Note the dimness here...all of these devices are dark,
Lyra: Maybe they just need to be activated.
Alindyar: (watching Belphanior, he ESPs to Lyra) That is what I'm
Ys: (sheaths his sword)
Kinichi: Not expecting any battle?
Ys: Not here. I might as well rest. (he plops down in one of the
large seats, grinning toothily)
Jutokai: Nothing better to do here...places like this are the domain
Aja: (examining one panel of buttons) Not entirely.
wispy thing: (flying about in this open area, happily) Fssss!
Otto: (checking the room for other exits) Nope...
Bosco: (walks into the vertical shaft) Whoa!
Like the other one, at ground level in this tower, this shaft
rendered all within utterly weightless.
Bosco: (floating around, he pushes off from the shaft's wall) Whee!
Otto: (shaking his head)
Trying to get anything to happen here was pointless - there were
literally thousands of controls, none of whose operation they knew
or could guess.
Lyra: Staying here would be a supreme waste of time. We should
go see what's at the other end of that corridor.
Aja: (realizes that the drow can and will do pretty much whatever
they please, and decides that maybe flirting with Alindyar wouldn't
be such a good idea after all)
Belphanior: (eyeing the huge chamber) Well, we can always come
back and look around some more later, if we want to...
They returned to the corridor (which was still lit) and headed for
the other door. A faint, dull humming could be heard, or felt, in
the passageway outside the door, and they decided to proceed with
caution. Listening at the metal door revealed no other sounds,
besides the humming, so Alindyar used another Knock spell...
Alindyar: (nods) I memorized several of them, after our experiences
The series of chambers thus revealed was large and complex indeed.
Most of the individual rooms were hemispherical, though one was
hemi-cylindrical and one was pyramidal.
/ o\ | = 10'
| | o = vertical shaft
\._/ . : = doors
| | < = hole in floor, from below
| | ____ ____ __________
|<| / \__/ \__/ \
| | | e __ d __ f >
| | \____/ \_ _/ \__________/
| | ____ _||_ ____
| |__ __/ \__/ \__/ \
\___:__ a __ b __ c | a cylindrical tube room
\____/ \_ _/ \____/ b intersection
_||_ c weightless room
N / \ d silver disc room
W + E / g \ e crate storeroom
S / \ f plaque room
/ \ g pyramidal chamber
The first room's walls - save for the exits to west and east -
were lined with tall, narrow cylinders of a transparent, glassy
substance. Each rested on a foot-high metallic dais or pedestal,
and was about six feet high and two feet wide, topped with a metal
disc. Almost all of these cylinders were filled with thick, clear
fluid; in some cases, other things floated in this fluid as well:
cylinder location contents
1 north wall floating insectoid corpse
2 north wall clear fluid
3 north wall large empty cracked eggshell
4 north wall clear fluid
5 north wall opaque green glob
6 north wall 6" metallic cube
7 north wall clear fluid
8 south wall clear fluid
9 south wall clear fluid
10 south wall dark fluid
11 south wall nothing (cracked)
12 south wall small, winged demonic thing
13 south wall nothing (intact)
14 south wall large disembodied eyeball
wispy thing: (hovering before one of the cylinders) Pffft?
Otto: What in the _fuck_ is all this...?
Belphanior: A laboratory of some kind, is my guess.
Alindyar: (nodding) Aye.
Lyra: If you've seen one lab, you've seen them all.
Belphanior: (looking around) Where are the tools, though?
Kinichi: (eyeing the eyeball) Hmm.
Jutokai: I think it's looking at you.
Kinichi: Very funny.
Ys: (taps on one cylinder with a thick finger) This doesn't
sound like glass.
Bosco: (peering at the cylinder filled with black fluid) Can't
see anything...not even with my magical x-ray vision.
Belphanior: (smirks, as that was the first thing he tried with
his magical eye)
Aja: No tools...no equipment...it makes no sense. What kind of
a lab is this?
Bosco: Maybe it's not a lab at all - maybe it's more like a
Otto: (nodding) Now that makes more sense.
Belphanior: (rubbing his chin)
Alindyar: Thinking of taking some of these...samples?
Belphanior: Maybe, but not right now. We should get moving...
check some of these other rooms. I'd say we should come back
Alindyar: Agreed. (ESPing to Lyra) Thank the gods. I shudder
to think what some of these containers' contents are.
Lyra: (ESPing to Alindyar) I guess we'll deal with it when we're
wispy thing: (making faces at the cylinder containing the green
green glob: (still inert)
The party moved on to the next chamber, which was more of a
hallway than anything else. It had corridors into three other
rooms besides the one they had come from. Its only noteworthy
feature was the abundance of white panels in the walls where there
weren't exits. These panels began glowing with a dim but clear
white light as soon as the first adventurer set foot into the
They headed eastward, since that room didn't appear to have any
other exits. However, once they entered the chamber, they floated
into the air - just like in the vertical transport-tubes they had
encountered in other parts of this tower.
Bosco: (floating about) Whee!
Belphanior: (floats into the room, waving his arms and feet) How
Alindyar: (floats into the room with Lyra) Not really. In a way,
this is the most sensible method of moving about.
Belphanior: It is?
Lyra: (testing the boundaries of where this effect begins and ends,
at the room's entrance)
Jutokai: (trying and failing to cling to one wall) This isn't as
easy as it looks.
Aja: (grabs Kinichi, then pushes off against him, sending herself
gently sailing toward a wall)
Kinichi: (taken aback by the nature of the contact) Ack.
Aja: (smiles evilly)
Ys: (experiencing weightlessness for the first time, he finds it
to be a somewhat queasy sensation)
wispy thing: (flying about as usual in the chamber) Spork!
This room had nothing of real interest, though it was far from
trivial to navigate about. Eventually, they all got back into
the corridor, and then ventured into the northern chamber. This
one had exits to both west and east, but it wasn't empty, itself.
The northern wall was little more than a storage rack for hundreds
of foot-wide silver discs. The discs were fashioned of some
substance that looked and felt metallic but weighed very little.
Bosco: (holding a disc over his head) Bosco, disc-wielder!
Kinichi: Get real. These things can't possibly be weapons.
Otto: Nope. (he examines a disc himself) They're too light,
and besides, their edges aren't sharp enough.
Alindyar: (holds a disc, staring at his reflection) Hmm.
Lyra: I wonder if they're magical?
Belphanior: (his artificial eye twinkles) Nope.
Aja: They'd make decent plates.
Ys: (picks one of the things up, testing its resiliency as he
bends it this way and that, until it finally snaps in two)
wispy thing: (flies away) Pfsss...
They retained a few of the strange discs for future examination,
then headed into the western chamber. Here were stacked numerous
square crates of an opaque, nonmetallic material. There were more
than fifty all told - far too many to cart away - so the focus turned
to trying to figure out what they held and how to open them. Each
crate was a two-foot cube with large handles on four sides and a seam
at its top. Some were fairly heavy, while others weighed almost
Belphanior: Maybe this was a storage room.
Jutokai: But for what?
Ys: (lifts a crate over his head, shaking it) Hmm.
Bosco: (turns a disc-like projecting knob atop one crate, causing
it to open with a hiss) Ha!
The thing was empty.
Bosco: (fuming) Well, I'll just keep trying until I get something.
Belphanior: (working on a crate himself) You're not the only one.
Kinichi: (decides to forego this action and simply stand guard, in
case someone or something comes along while the party is preoccupied)
As it turned out, slightly more than half the crates were empty.
Those that weren't mostly contained opaque, lightweight tubes of fluid
Belphanior: (squeezes a tube, causing brownish paste to spurt out)
What the hell?
Bosco: Why would they save _that_ in tubes?
Aja: (dabs a bit of the stuff on her finger, eyeing it, then smelling
it) I think it's food.
Otto: How's that?
Aja: It smells good. I wonder if it tastes good.
Alindyar: (mumbling to himself) Shades of Rob...
Other crates contained tools and wires, gears and clips, colored
bits of metal, and similar things. One had a rack of ten fighting
knives, their blades a dull black.
Ys: Black toothpicks.
Otto: Ah. (he swipes one and examines it carefully, finding it to
be of extraprdinary workmanship) Hmm. (he realizes that nobody
else wants any, and takes the whole crate)
All in all, they kept at least one sample of just about everything
they found here. After this collecting was done, they moved on,
heading eastward through the silver disc room into a new, hemi-
cylindrical chamber. This room's walls contained a series of dark
glass squares, ten feet to a side; there were a total of ten, five
on the north wall and five on the south. Below each of these odd
pieces of glass were several dozen buttons and switches, none of
which seemed to work.
At the chamber's eastern end was mounted a large, metallic plaque.
About fifteen feet wide and three high, it depicted a series of
strange, armored warriors. There were thirteen, and beneath each
engraved image was a string of weird symbols.
Alindyar: Writing of some kind, obviously...perhaps a clue as to
the true nature of these armored ones.
Lyra: If it's writing, it's not in any language I've ever seen.
Belphanior: Nor I.
Otto: Me neither.
Ys: (shakes his head) Not even I.
Aja: We need a spell...a powerful one.
Alindyar: Aye. (he begins spellcasting)
Aja: (to Kinichi) I knew he'd do that.
Kinichi: That's because he's a show-off.
Bosco: (chimes in quietly) But a mighty powerful show-off, at
Shortly, the drow completed his spell, and the writings became
less incomprehensible to the dark elf. The words (one per engraved
image) made no sense, but at least they were legible:
Aja: What can it mean?
Belphanior: Who knows? Maybe these are some of their greatest
warriors...or perhaps gods?
Belphanior: Those who built this city, and inhabited it.
Otto: You know what bugs me?
Otto: The fact that we still - after all this time - have no idea
whatsoever who or what built this place, and why they aren't here
Alindyar: (frowns) Indeed. (to Aja) Have you tried any sort of
Aja: (nods) No luck there. I'm sure of one thing: whatever the
answer is, it probably isn't good.
Ys: (regarding the plaque) I wonder what these things are.
Belphanior: You're not the only one.
wispy thing: Snrrr.
After leaving this long room, they headed for the large, metal
door to the south - a door which had no handles, hinges, or other
obvious parts. A simple Knock spell didn't work, either - it took
three consecutive such spells to make the portal slide open.
Beyond was a large, three-sided pyramidal chamber. Each of this
room's sides was about 60', as was its height. The walls, ceiling,
and floor here were fashioned of a gleaming black metal, upon which
their footsteps made no sound, no echo.
Suspended at the exact center of the chamber was a small cloud of
dark red vapor.
Belphanior: What in the hell...?
As they walked further into the room, the mist-cloud came alive,
shifting and writhing in place.
wispy thing: (flies up toward the red vapor) Spork! (suddenly,
it hesitates about ten feet from the cloud) Sprrd...
The cloud of vapor was growing! It doubled its size in a matter
of moments, moving toward the intruders with uncanny swiftness.
Belphanior: Whoa, I don't like this. Everyone, back. Retreat!
As the adventurers headed for the portal they'd entered by, it
slammed shut before their eyes!
Bosco: This is _not_ good.
next: we skip away from this group for an episode, to look
in on events in Helgate, where the foes have arrived
ftp: ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail: email@example.com (preferred)
notes: Congratulations to the Braves' Dennis Martinez, who last
night won his 243rd career game, tying Juan Marichal for most
career wins by a Latin-American pitcher.
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