Chapter #695

previous chapter (#694)                                                                  next chapter (#696)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Alindyar        18th level drow wizard                                +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess                      +
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger                               +
+      Zephyr          rather large tiger                                 +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Rob             16th level human priest                               +
+   Date:           4/3/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           dusk                                                  +
+   Place:          the walled town of Karnaj, near the Riftcanyon        +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "You're not the least uncomfortable, are you?"                        +
+   "These places make life worth living."                                +
+                       - Rhiana & Holland, from _The Evil That Men Do_   +

                        DCXCV.  Carnage in Karnaj

  After an overland journey of more than two weeks, the party has arrived
at the walled town of Karnaj, on the edge of the Riftcanyon.

Peyote:  (looking around)  This isn't a very nice sort of place.
Halbarad:  No, it isn't.
Nenya:  Let's just get what we came for and get out.

  This place was unlike most cities or towns they'd ever seen, for a
number of reasons.  It looked like a besieged place, almost, with the high
palisade of cut logs, the armed guards inside and out, and the general
behavior of those present.

Halbarad:  With the canyon this close, there is likely an ever-present
  danger of attack.
Daffodil:  By what?
Deryck:  Certainly not humanoids.

  The half-elf was referring to the large quantities of orcs, goblins, and
even ogres who roamed the town's streets.  The odd thing was that they all
really looked like they _belonged_ here.

Peyote:  Dude, I bet we could have walked in here with your tiger and not
  gotten any flak about it.
Halbarad:  Zephyr doesn't like places like this...he's liable to mangle
  some stinking humanoid.
Rob:  No trouble.  We can't afford unwanted attention.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  A pipe dream.  We stand out like sore thumbs
  in a place such as this.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Let's use it to our advantage, then - make
  them fear us.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye...and with good reason.

  They drew some stares - mixed stares of curiosity and loathing - but were
not bothered by any of the locals.  Halbarad and Deryck took charge, eyeing
the various watering-holes in order to figure out which one was most likely
to hold good information with minimal risk of trouble.  Finally, they chose
a place called "Bo's" - if the worn, cracked wooden sign dangling in front
of its door was to be believed.

Nenya:  (exchanges dubious glances with Daffodil)
Lyra:  (also glancing at the place, she frowns)
Halbarad:  Anybody thirsty?
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  These sorts of remarks just aren't the same if
  they don't come from Belphanior.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  No, I suppose not.

  As they entered the place and made their way to the bar, the locals - for
the most part, drunken and dirty warrior-types - moved aside with haste.

Peyote:  What's up with that?  (he looks at his companions, wondering what
  it is about the group that could cause strangers to step aside)
Alindyar:  Oh, nothing much - just testing something here.
half-orc:  (seeing Alindyar as a mean-looking eight-foot tall troll, he
  cowers and backs away)
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  I don't see any illusion...and apparently,
  neither do our companions.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Excellent work on my part, no?
Peyote:  (flags down the bartender, a large, rotund fellow)  Hey, dude.
  Are you Bo?
bartender:  Huh?
Peyote:  (jerks a thumb at the door)  Bo, from the sign outside?
bartender:  Nah.  Bo's been dead for years.  I'm Simon.
Peyote:  Oh.
bartender:  Don't take this the wrong way, pal, but you and your friends
  are gonna run into trouble here, and quick.
Peyote:  How's that?
bartender:  You ain't exactly in Celene, buddy.
Peyote:  Ah.
bartender:  Elves...
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  I should have masked our entire group with
  an illusion.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Too late now.
Halbarad:  (strolls up to the bar, casually moving Peyote aside as he
  locks gazes with the bartender)  We don't have time to waste, so let
  me make this simple, Simon.  (he holds up a pouch full of coins,
  shaking it for emphasis)  Gold.  Yours.  Tell us where the Crypt of
  Kyuss is.
Simon:  (pales)  H- huh?
Halbarad:  So you've heard of it.  Good.  (he shakes the pouch again,
  causing the coins within to clink loudly)  Now tell me where it is,
  and we'll be done here.
Simon:  Uh...
Halbarad:  You do know where it is?  If not, I will seek my answer, and
  spend my gold, elsewhere.
Simon:  Of course I know where it is...but why would you want to go there?
Halbarad:  That is my business.
Simon:  (visibly nervous and hesitant now)
Halbarad:  (impatient)  What?
Simon:  You saw the walls outside this town?
Halbarad:  I did.
Simon:  We put those up to keep _out_ things like those that come from
  the Crypt!
Halbarad:  Tell me where it is, and you won't have to worry about it any
Simon:  (eyeing the pouch)  Uh...

  As the barkeep and the ranger talked in low tones, the others were
ever-vigilant for signs of trouble.  In short order, though, Halbarad
concluded his conversation with the other.

Halbarad:  (stuffs a crude map into one pocket)  Time to go.

  Outside, however, they found a crowd gathered, apparently waiting for

Nenya:  Well, this doesn't look good.
Deryck:  (fingering the hilt of his sword)  No, it doesn't.
Peyote:  All these people waiting for us?  Wow, I'm honored.
Daffodil:  Quit goofing around.  They obviously mean us harm.
Thornbolt:  Then let's whack them!
Daffodil:  (addresses her enchanted staff)  Hush.  Let's see what happens.
Rob:  (a hand on his holy symbol, he addresses the crowd loudly and clearly)
  What are you people about?
big fellow:  (unafraid, he steps forward, pointing)  We don't like elves
Halbarad:  (sighs)  We almost made it out of this dive without trouble...
big fellow:  If you didn't want trouble, you shouldn't have come here!
Alindyar:  (closing his eyes, he concentrates)
Lyra:  What are you doing?
Alindyar:  The time has come for a bit of crowd control.

  The ground began to tremble then, alarming the assembled townspeople, who
backed away a few steps.  The street between the mob and the adventurers
split open suddenly, a huge fissure opening and admitting a gigantic form.
The colossus, formed of rock and earth, rose...and rose...and rose, its
full height no less than fifty feet as it stood, bellowing its anger in a
voice that shook every building in the town.

mob:  (disperses, fleeing in absolute terror)
Rob:  (wide-eyed)  Impressive...most impressive.
Daffodil:  By Obad-Hai's hoary beard...
Peyote:  (brushing dirt from his shoulder)  Dude, I _felt_ that.
Alindyar:  Come, let us depart this cesspool before I truly grow angry.

  A short while later, they had recovered their horses (almost by threat
of force) and ridden away from Karnaj, heading north toward the canyon
itself.  They were not followed, and Alindyar's companions were in awe
of his feat...

Nenya:  What kind of spell was that?  I've never seen an earth elemental
  that big.
Deryck:  I didn't know they came that big.
Halbarad:  It kept us from a messy and probably more dangerous fight.
Peyote:  Dangerous for the townspeople, you mean.
Halbarad:  (nods)  I really didn't want to have to kill any of them.  Well,
  except for the orcs.
Daffodil:  (to Alindyar)  Amazing.  Even my father can't summon anything
  that mighty.  I think.
Rob:  With such power at our disposal, we cannot fail.
Lyra:  (smiles at Alindyar)
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  They have no idea.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  About what?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  They did not sense the illusion...but thought
  it was real!
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Illusion?!?
Alindyar:  (smirks)  Hah.

next:      into the canyon, and the Crypt
released:  11/27/00
notes:     All this election nonsense is beginning to grate on me,
  despite the fact that it's technically causing me to earn a good
  bit of extra money at CNN.

previous chapter (#694)                                                                  next chapter (#696)