Chapter #698

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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:           4/4/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          the Crypt of Kyuss, within the Riftcanyon             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "You mean they've been acting so smart because they're so stupid?"    +
+                                                      - from _Tremors 2_ +

                      DCXCVIII.  Split Decision

  After travel and battle during the day, the party chose to camp outside
the crypt last night.  Now, morning finds them back at it again...

Halbarad:  (waving a fresh, bright torch at the darkness within the
  crypt's entryway)  I can't believe that nothing attacked us last
Peyote:  Believe it, dude.
Deryck:  (examining the wall of thorns that Daffodil put into place to
  guard against anything emerging from the crypt)
Daffodil:  (waves her staff, causing the barrier to part)  The thorns
  have served their purpose.
Rob:  (holding his holy symbol)  Let evil beware.
Zephyr:  (freshly-summoned, he bellows eagerly)  Rrrraargh!
Nenya:  Let's do it.  (to Halbarad)  Are you still taking the lead?
Halbarad:  Deryck and I will, why?
Nenya:  (hands the ranger a small pouch)  Light-stones.  I'd forgotten,
  for some reason, to bring them along.  They're fairly bright.
Halbarad:  (peeks into the pouch, recoiling at the bright glow)  Maybe
  too bright.
Nenya:  It will beat a torch, since winds and such won't put its light
Halbarad:  It can't set undead on fire, either.  Still, it - they - will
  come in handy.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Spells at maximum.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Me too.

  They entered the crypt, quickly passing the scene of yesterday's battle
and coming upon a wide stairway that dropped down into the darkness.  Two
side passages also presented themselves, and the rangers weren't of a mind
to leave these behind, unexplored.

Halbarad:  The last thing we want or need is for some stinking foe to
  circle around behind us.
Deryck:  (checks one passage, finding that it leads to a small chamber
  containing only rags and dust)
Nenya:  (behind him)  Nothing?
Deryck:  Not in here.

  The other passage led right up to a collapsed area, the rubble blocking
the way completely.

Alindyar:  Well, this certainly makes things easier.
Rob:  But too easy?
Zephyr:  (heading down the dim stairway)  Rrrrr...

  They found that the steps opened into a long twenty-foot wide passage,
its walls sculpted into the forms of heads, hands, feet, and such.

Daffodil:  Ugh.
Rob:  Something's wrong...
Lyra:  Undead?
Rob:  No, just evil.  Everywhere.

  As they began to walk the passage, recoiling from the hideous bodies
depicted on the walls, they found out what Rob was on edge about.  A
skinny, taloned hand reached out of the wall, grabbing at Daffodil's

Thornbolt:  Whoa!
Daffodil:  (using Thornbolt, she smacks the hand on its wrist, delivering
  a hefty shock in the process)
hand:  (recoils, shaking)
Halbarad:  Beware - the walls are alive!

  It was true.  Though they'd appeared at first to be fashioned of dull
stone, the various limbs were now animated!  Hands groped, feet kicked,
heads bit and moaned and gnashed their teeth.

Daffodil:  Horrid!

  There wasn't really anywhere to run, and they all found themselves
accosted by the wall's parts.

Nenya:  (twisting and turning as a hand grabs her hair)
Deryck:  (stabs a hand, causing it to let go of his boot)
Peyote:  (slashes at a foot, causing it to stop kicking him)  You're
  getting the boot...(he kicks the foot away, hard, causing its bones
  to snap)
Zephyr:  (swipes at a long arm, his sharp and powerful claws ripping
  the thing loose from the wall)
Halbarad:  (cuts an arm deeply, with his axe, then finds himself
  grabbed by another arm from the opposite wall)  Damn!  (with his
  dagger, he stabs that second limb, causing it to let go)
Rob:  (brandishes his holy symbol, trying to turn the wall)  Failed
Lyra:  Maybe the wall's not undead.
Rob:  That could makes sense.
Halbarad:  Let's see if it bleeds...really bleeds.  (with a mighty
  swipe of his battleaxe, he lays open a great diagonal wound spanning
  almost ceiling to floor of one wall)
wall:  (screaming in agony)  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!
Peyote:  (watching blood gush forth from the wound)  Cripes, man, you
  must've hit its heart.

  With this wound, the living (?) wall ceased to attack them, its
many limbs merely quivering and twitching in place, as if they wanted
to attack again but were hesitant.  The other wall was still at it,
however, necessitating further action...

Alindyar:  (blasts a goodly portion of the wall with a burning hands
second wall:  (screams in agony as a number of its appendages are
  rendered useless)
Nenya:  I thought illusions were your field?
Alindyar:  Not always.
Deryck:  (eyeing the walls, which are now nearly inactive)  Run!
  Through!  Quickly!
Halbarad:  (takes the lead, moving past the weird hallway and into a
  large chamber)  Damn!  (he ducks instinctively as darts fly from
  the walls, whizzing over his head)  Traps!  (he tosses his torch
  into the room, springing no more traps but lighting the area well)

  Deryck was the first to join him, and together, they began checking
the chamber's floor trigger plates and such.  By the time all of the
others had piled into the room, Halbarad was eyeing the large wooden
double doorway at the far end.

Halbarad:  This is one time when Peldor might have been of use-

  Suddenly, the door exploded into pieces!  A huge form barreled
through the gap, a skeletal colossus that was nearly twenty feet tall.

skeletal colossus:  (scrapes its skull on the ceiling)
Peyote:  Heh.

  Behind this giant came dozens of smaller skeletons, bearing swords,
shields, and armor.

Deryck:  (engages one of these as it charges, sword ringing on sword)
Nenya:  (trading blows with another)
Peyote:  (gashed on one arm)  Argh!  Dammit!  (he swings his bastard
  sword, decapitating the bony foe)
Daffodil:  (uses her staff to great advantage here, caving in another
  skeleton's ribcage and blasting it with an electrical shock in the
Rob:  (wasting no time, he holds his holy symbol high)  Away, scions
  of evil!

  The big skeleton wasn't affected, but a dozen of the small ones
were instantly vaporized.

Rob:  Well, at least there's that.
Deryck:  (dispatches one of the small skeletons that wasn't destroyed)
Nenya:  (hits another with her sword, severing its leg at the hip and
  knocking it to the floor)

  Meanwhile, Halbarad was ducking and dodging mighty swings from the
skeletal colossus...swings that might very well flatten him if they
connected.  The ranger didn't put any effort into attacking, instead
simply avoiding...and waiting for an opening.
  For Peyote, however, the big foe's exposed back was a pretty good
opening - one he took advantage of, leaping forth and swinging his
sword with all his might.  bits of bone flew off in all directions,
and the force of the blow jarred the half-elf all the way up his arm.

Peyote:  Owwwww!
skeletal colossus:  (turns, both of its huge arms raised)
Peyote:  Hi there-
skeletal colossus:  (swings, hitting the other and knocking him back
  into a wall)
Peyote:  <crunch>  Ugh...(he slumps to the floor, bleeding from his
  nose and mouth)
Nenya:  (freed up from the minor skeletons, she completes the quick
  spell she has been casting, sending an acidic arrow at the big foe)
skeletal colossus:  (finds the acid splashed all over its head and
Halbarad:  (leaps aside as some stray acid hits the floor next to him)
Lyra:  (unable to really cut loose with a powerful spell, she settles
  for magic missiles, pummeling the thing's head)
skeletal colossus:  (staggers for a moment, then heads for Nenya and
Deryck:  Would you look at that?  It may be big and strong, but it's
  also stupid.
Zephyr:  Rrr...(ready to leap, he doesn't, as Deryck and Nenya are in
  his way)
Halbarad:  (lashes out, his axe striking the thing's knee joint from
  behind in a perfectly-aimed strike)

  The foe's leg was severed at the knee, and down it went.  Rob's
spiritual hammer struck then, hammering at the skeleton's ribcage,
cracking and breaking bones with each blow.  Crippled, the big foe
was far less of a threat, and was quickly smashed to bits beneath the
weapons and skill of its attackers.

Deryck:  Whew.
Rob:  As you said, big but fundamentally slow and stupid.
Halbarad:  (checking the broken double doors to make sure nothing else
  is coming to attack them)
Nenya:  (goes with him, as do the drow)
Daffodil:  (helping Peyote to his feet)
Peyote:  Argh...
Rob:  (goes over to the half-elf)  What hurts?
Peyote:  Everything, I think.  (he spits blood)
Rob:  (working a spell)  Hold on.  I'll have you healed up in no time.

  The unknown chamber beyond the one in which the battle took place was
found to contain three normal skeletons, all of which were dispatched
with relative ease.  It also held two small (and empty antechambers) as
well as a rotten (and empty) bookshelf and a narrow flight of stairs
spiraling down into the darkness.

Halbarad:  Our next move is clear.

  Shortly, the steps were taken, and the adventurers emerged into a
long, wide square corridor, twenty feet on a side.  About thirty feet
ahead, something on the stone floor glinted in their light...

Halbarad:  (picks up the golden coin)

  Without warning, the floor of the passage split open lengthwise along
a central axis, such that all to the left side fell into one pit while
those on the right side fell into a different pit!

Halbarad:  (finds himself sharing the right-hand pit with Lyra, Nenya,
  and Daffodil)
Deryck:  (finds himself sharing the left-hand pit with Alindyar, Peyote,
  Rob, and Zephyr)
Peyote:  Figures...he took all our babes.

  The two pits were separated by a transparent pane of what looked like
glass; each was as long as the room above, and both had large, square
exit doors on their far ends.  As the floor panels of the room above
snapped back into place, trapping them down on this level, the doors
ahead of both pits opened, admitting new foes.  The group in the right-
hand pit faced a robed, ghostly figure, while the group in the left-hand
pit found themselves squaring off against a floating, decayed sphere...
an undead beholder!

next:      closing in
released:  12/7/00
notes:     For some reason, this one was tedious to write.  I'm not sure
  if it's because of which characters I'm writing or because of the sheer
  number of characters running around.
    In the store last night, I spotted something for 3rd edition that
  caught my eye.  When I saw its content, I thought about buying it.
  When I saw who created it, I went straight to the register.  The book
  is "Living Greyhawk Gazetteer" and its co-authors are Gary Holian,
  Erik Mona, Fred Weining, and Sean K. Reynolds.  All of them  have been
  INSTRUMENTAL - I cannot stress this enough - in keeping the world of
  Greyhawk alive and well via the internet, during the lean years for
  both TSR and the Greyhawk setting.  Among other things (and even I am
  not fully aware of all their accomplishments) they have helped create
  and organize a trove of high-quality material which you can find at and other places.  I believe that Sean Reynolds
  tended more toward a role of bridging the gap between the evil TSR and
  the fans on the internet, but that too was important.
    I feel like I owe these people for all of their hard work, and I
  know that anything they put out will be of superior quality, and thus
  I bought their product.  It's good to see internet FRP people make it
  big with the company that produces the D&D game.  Prior to this, the
  only such case I knew of was Eric Boyd, who was involved with "Faiths &
  Avatars" and then "Powers & Pantheons."  I'm pleased to see others join
  the club.

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