Chapter #778

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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        large tiger                                           +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Rob             16th level human priest                               +
+                                                                         +
+   Boltar                     human priest of Pholtus                    +
+   Derider Fanshaen           female human priestess of Pelor            +
+   Sir Drexel                 human paladin of Heironeous                +
+     Limbor                   elven wizard/priest                        +
+   Eyer                       wood elven fighter/acrobat                 +
+     Baltek                   elven archer                               +
+   Jerome Kasinskaia          human priest of Rao                        +
+     Reptar                   lizardman fighter                          +
+   Pallin                     grey elven wizard                          +
+     Socrates                 large albino hound                         +
+   St. Wilhelm                human fighter/priest of St. Cuthbert       +
+   Date:           4/27/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the Fortress of the Nine                              +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Opportunities multiply as they are seized."                          +
+                                                            - Sun Tzu    +

                    DCCLXXVIII.  The Eyes Have It

  The party is under attack from both sides as two groups of beholders
close in...

Mongo:  (without a word, he hurls Stormcrest from his position in the
  front rank)

  The enchanted hammer sailed forth, taking the monsters by surprise
as it slammed into one of the smaller ones with force enough to level
a small house.  The beholder ruptured, chunks of plated flesh whizzing
off in all directions.  The great central eye was but a mass of jelly
now, leaking forth onto the dungeon floor.

dying beholder:  (falls, landing on the floor with a wet "plop")
Eyer:  Damn...
large beholder:  (regards the corpse, then turns and regards Mongo as
  the hammer flies back into the dwarf's hand)  Aaaaaaarrrgh!
Mongo:  One down, four to go.

  The unexpected move had helped the adventurers, but now the other
beholders brought their eye-beams to bear.

          \   \               |_|  = 10'
           \   \              1-4  = beholders
            \   \             ***  = adventurers
             \   \             X   = dead beholder
              \   \
               \1  \
                \  2\
                 \   \
                  \   \_______________
                   \   ***       3 X /

          MARCHING ORDER, front to rear ranks (20' wide passage) :

          Halbarad, Eyer, Mongo, Sir Drexel, Rob
          Deryck & Nenya, Peyote & Daffodil, St. Wilhelm
          Alindyar & Lyra, Jerome, Reptar
          Boltar, Derider, Limbor, Baltek, Pallin
          Socrates, Zephyr

beholder #1:  (launches a ray from one of its small eyes, this beam
  passing inches by Boltar's head and Limbor's arm before hitting the
  lizard-man Reptar)
Reptar:  (disintegrates)
Jerome Kasinskaia:  Reptar!  No!
Baltek:  Holy shit.
beholder #2:  (tilts forward slightly, more of its small eyestalks
  coming to bear on the party...and then firing)

  This second beholder was no typical member of its race, for every
single eye launched some destructive spell.  Bolts of fire, ice, and
lightning mixed with globes of acid, shredded shards of stone, and
missiles of pure energy to utterly bombard the adventurers, especially
those in the rear ranks.

Socrates:  (hit in the side by a blast of cold, he is knocked from his
Zephyr:  (pelted by numerous magic missiles, he howls in pain and rage)
Boltar:  (hit by a barrage of snow and ice)  Argh!
Limbor:  (saved from stony shards by a barrier he had just summoned with
  his staff)
Derider:  (burned by the heat and flame of a great gout of fire)  Aaagh!
Baltek:  (narrowly dodges a forked bolt of lightning)  Whoa!
Jerome:  (hit by the lightning)  Aaaaargh!
Alindyar:  Down!  (he tackles Lyra, saving her from a glob of hurtling
Peyote:  (jumps aside, but not quite in time, as some of the acid hits
  his armor and body)  Yieeeee!

  Of those in the rear guard, only Baltek had managed an attack, which
had occured simultaneously, his arrow hitting the first beholder just
outside its large central eye.

  The front rank fared little better.  One of the eye tyrants brought
telekinesis to bear, seizing the heavy, armored form of Sir Drexel and
pushing it back into Nenya and both drow, disrupting any of those
spellcasters' immediate attempts to work magic.  The other beholder
at the front side - the really big one - fired a wide beam from one of
its smaller eyes, bathing the party in some sort of charming spell.
Fortunately, even the least among them was resistant to such magic, and
none fell victim to it.
  The elf Pallin had been working a spell before the foes on the party's
front flank had crashed through the doors, and he was able to finish it
just as the eye-attacks began.  The lightning bolt thus launched shot
down the passage even as the champions began to float into the air; the
bolt had no direct target, but the passage was small and the beholders

beholder #3:  (blasted, it spins several times, a huge charred streak
  now present along its entire left side)  RAARGH!
beholder #4:  (the big one, it is knocked up and over, into the passage
  wall, several of its armored plates knocked loose)  GRRRRRRR...
Mongo:  Fucker!  (he hurls Stormcrest at the larger of these two beasts)

  The beholders had steadied themselves, however, and all four now used
their large central eyes, in unison.  From both sides, the champions were
suddenly bathed in mighty rays that negated all magic!

Mongo:  (watches Stormcrest hit its target, rather weakly, and then fall
  to the floor, inert)  Uh-oh.

  The effects were felt by everyone, not just him.  The warriors' armor,
in all cases magical, suddenly weighed a good bit more than it should
have.  Magically-imparted strength and speed was now gone.  The special
abilities of weapons, armors, and items - abilities that had been taken
for granted - ceased to function.  Protections were nullified, special
senses blinded.  Zephyr vanished altogether, the statuette falling and
bouncing once on the floor before Halbarad quickly grabbed it and put
it safely in a pocket.
  That was the least of their problems, though.  The spellcasters were
powerless, and the priests' ties to their gods severed suddenly.

  All of this left a shocked, weakened, and nearly-defenseless party in
the pincer-movement of the advancing beholders, moving forward behind
their anti-magic rays, gigantic toothy maws gnashing in anticipation of
the feast to come.

next:      breaking point
released:  12/11/01
notes:     I've used beholders before, but certainly not to their full
  potential.  Now I am.  And for those of you out there who might claim
  that beholders can continue to launch other eyes' attacks while the
  anti-magic beam is way.  But this tactic is simple and brutally
  effective:  keep the beams on, advance, and devour.

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