Chapter #697

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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:           night                                                 +
+   Place:          the Crypt of Kyuss, within the Riftcanyon             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups!"                           +
+                                                    - _Under Siege 2_    +

                      DCXCVII.  Into the Crypt

  Torches held high, the party entered the dark maw of the forsaken crypt,
ready for anything.

Peyote:  Too bad we have to use torches.
Halbarad:  (glares at the half-elf)
Peyote:  No offense intended, of course.  It's just that with our infra-
Rob:  Don't fool yourself.  Most undead give off no heat, and if this is
  indeed a crypt and does indeed contain undead, torches are the best
  source of light.  (he pats his holy symbol, which glows)
Daffodil:  (changes the subject)  It's cold in here...cold and...dead.
  (she shivers)
Lyra:  I know what you mean.  This place is damn bleak.
Nenya:  I wonder how it remained here so long, unmolested by the beasts
  of the canyon?
Halbarad:  Those same beasts must have feared it.
Deryck:  It's the only explanation.
Alindyar:  (having been silent this entire time, he completes his spell,
  bringing a floating eye into existence)
Peyote:  Whoa!
Daffodil:  What is this?
Alindyar:  This is our guarantee that we shan't walk headlong into an
  ambush.  It will coast ahead of us, scanning for foes and traps.
Halbarad:  It's no woodsman.
Alindyar:  Of course not, nor is it supposed to be.  The eye simply
  sees - any fighting is left to the rest of us.
Rob:  And there _will_ be fighting...
Deryck:  How's that?
Rob:  The evil here is strong...palpable.
Peyote:  Swell.

  After passing through the archway from outside, the adventurers
found themselves in a small, square chamber.  Ahead was a broken and
rotted door, the wood hanging in shreds from metal hinges.  Beyond
was only blackness...gaping, beckoning blackness.

Rob:  (casts an enchantment that enables him to detect undead)  There
  is something...a ways ahead.
Halbarad:  I'm sure.  (he raises a torch in one hand and his axe in
  the other, the heavy weapon held easily by his strength)  Let's find
  it and get this over with.

  The passage led a short distance, opening into a short but vaulted

Rob:  Beware!
Peyote:  I don't see anything-
Deryck:  (points to the high ceiling)  There!

  With hollow, whistling screeches and a weird clicking sound, a group
of winged creatures soared down from above.  Actually, they couldn't
truly be called winged, for they were large, skeletal bats with human
skulls atop their bony bodies!

Halbarad:  (swings his axe, severing the wing of one attacker, bringing
  it to the floor)
Deryck:  (stabs at another creature, nicking its ribcage)
Nenya:  (slashes at a third foe, but misses)
Peyote:  (to Rob)  Ever seen undead like this before?
Rob:  No, I haven't.  (he brandishes his holy symbol, the light shining
  through the entire chamber)  Trithereon speaks!

  Not a one of the skeletal, flying foes even paused in the least.

Rob:  (watches as the burst of light fades, giving the advantage back to
  the attackers)  Damn.
Lyra:  (lights the chamber again, putting a powerful spell of light into
  the recesses of the ceiling)
Halbarad:  (grits his teeth, seeing the foes' true numbers)  Double damn.
Nenya:  Look out-
bat-thing #4:  (bites the elf-maid with long, sharp teeth)
Nenya:  ARGH!  (she falls, suddenly weakened)
bat-thing #4:  (falls to the floor atop her, its wings latching on as it
  tries to bite its prey again)
Deryck:  NO!  (he stabs the monster with his sword, the weapon's flame
  tongue powers igniting the foe as the blade impales its skull)
bat-thing #4:  (flaps its wings wildly, letting go of Nenya)
Peyote:  (slices the thing in half)  One down...
Daffodil:  A dozen to go!  (she swats at another of the monsters with
  her staff, grazing a bony wing)
Thornbolt:  Die!  (the weapon delivers a sharp jolt of electricity)
bat-thing #5:  (recoils, most of one wing charred black)
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra as he launches a barrage of magical missiles,
  hitting five distinct targets and giving all five some pause)  My
  illusions will be of little use against such as these.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Not to worry.  (she works another spell)
bat-thing #6:  (swoops down to attack the dark elf)
Deryck:  (intercepts the thing, his sword severing most of its wing
  and sending it spinning out of control)
Lyra:  Thanks.
Deryck:  No problem.
Halbarad:  (finishes off the foe he knocked from the air earlier, his
  axe caving in its skull)
Daffodil:  (whacks another of the bat-things as it gets too close)
Thornbolt:  (zaps this foe, too, upon contact)  We should take the fight
  to them.
Daffodil:  How?
Lyra:  Like this.  (she sends an arc of electricity up into the ceiling)

  The effect was powerful and rapid:  the nearest creature was blasted,
exploding into chunks of putrid bone as the electricity leapt to the
next foe, and then the next.  Before the adventurers' eyes, one after
another of the things were shocked.  Some were destroyed immediately,
though a few survived, falling to the floor.

Peyote:  (crushes the skull of one such foe with a powerful stomp of
  his booted foot)  Smells terrible...rancid.
Rob:  (looks around, then eyes Lyra)  I daresay that was _better_ than
  the turning of undead!
Lyra:  (shrugs)  I like chain spells.
Nenya:  And it shows...(she staggers to her feet)
Deryck:  Are you okay?
Nenya:  I think so...just weak...
Deryck:  Take it easy for a bit.  We're in no hurry.
Halbarad:  Maybe not.  (he walks through the chamber, severing the
  downed foes' heads one by one, just to be sure)
Deryck:  Hmm.  (he moves to help the other with this task)

  Soon, the grisly work was done...

Rob:  Undead that cannot be turned...not a good omen.
Nenya:  We could always go back outside and camp.  It is night, and
  we've had a long day.
Halbarad:  Though that would allow more time for whatever rules this
  place to learn of us, and prepare.
Alindyar:  Whatever rules this place certainly knows of us already,
  and is preparing even as we speak.
Halbarad:  (to Peyote)  I hate it when he's right.
Peyote:  So what can we do?
Alindyar:  What we _should_ do is back out and send a few fireballs
  down the gullet of this place.
Nenya:  True, but then we'd never learn what we came here to learn.
Lyra:  Unfortunately, this is true.
Rob:  A vote, then?
Alindyar:  Aye.

  The vote was taken, and it was decided five-to-three to retreat to
the area outside the crypt and get a night's sleep.  Nenya explained
to the others how her "safe and sound" spell would keep the campsite

Peyote:  (looks dubious)
Deryck:  Trust me, it works.
Halbarad:  I'm still keeping a watch.
Nenya:  There's no need.  The spell will both warn us and buy us time
  in the event that something attacks.
Halbarad:  I'm still keeping a watch.
Nenya:  Suit yourself.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  So do we trust the power of her spell?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  She is a competent mage, and Ged's chosen
  pupil.  I have faith in her skill.  We should get some sleep.

  Halbarad, still worried, got Peyote to help him rig some traps all
around the crypt's mouth.  Nothing could emerge without both making
quite a din and stabbing itself on sharpened, angled stakes.

Lyra:  (to Deryck)  Where'd he get the wood for those?  I didn't see
  any wood around.
Deryck:  He caused the wood to sprout.  Druids can do that, you know.
Lyra:  Ah.
Daffodil:  They can also do this.  (she causes a wall of thorns to
  sprout up around the crypt's entrance)
Rob:  Why?
Nenya:  To protect against flying foes, like the ones we just fought,
  I'd imagine.
Rob:  Ah, of course.

  Eventually, they settled into a restless sleep, their thoughts never
leaving the crypt and the unknown terrors within.

next:      a decisive moment
released:  12/4/00
notes:     As I type this, AD&D 3rd edition is out.  As before, the short
  answer is "no" - I will not be converting or adopting.  If I was still
  playing, or still heavy into stats and rules like four hundred episodes
  ago, the answer might be "yes."  But, that's not the case.  I may check
  out the rules sometime, but that's all.

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