Chapter #782

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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                               +
+   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                               +
+                                                                         +
+   Derider Fanshaen           female human priestess of Pelor            +
+   Sir Drexel                 human paladin of Heironeous                +
+     Limbor                   elven wizard/priest                        +
+     Baltek                   elven archer                               +
+   Pallin                     grey elven wizard                          +
+   St. Wilhelm                human fighter/priest of St. Cuthbert       +
+                                                                         +
+   Belphanior      15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+     Otto          10th/12th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+     Razor Charlie 10th level human fighter                              +
+     Skektek       13th level human wizard                               +
+     Ys            14th level reptilian fighter                          +
+   human ex-prisoners (2) armed with stolen drow weapons & armor         +
+                                                                         +
+   GOOD CASUALTIES:                                                      +
+     Boltar, human priest of Pholtus (slain by death ray)                +
+     Eyer, wood elven fighter/acrobat (turned to stone)                  +
+     Jerome Kasinskaia, human priest of Rao (turned to stone)            +
+     Reptar, lizardman fighter (disintegrated)                           +
+     Socrates, large albino hound (fallen in battle)                     +
+     Zephyr, large tiger (forced back into figurine form)                +
+                                                                         +
+                                                                         +
+                                                                         +
+   Xusia, Suel lich archmage                                             +
+   Cespedes, human archmage                                              +
+     Talos, adamantine golem                                             +
+     the iron dwarf                                                      +
+   Fenris, human thief                                                   +
+   Ulrich, human anti-paladin of Nerull                                  +
+   Ythuus, ultradaemon                                                   +
+                                                                         +
+   EVIL CASUALTIES:                                                      +
+     Absalon, human monk (slain in battle)                               +
+     Bodok, beholder (driven insane & fled)                              +
+     mithril mastiff (destroyed by rods of cancellation)                 +
+     Selene, female drow high priestess (buried in mud)                  +
+       a dozen drow of various sorts (buried in mud)                     +
+     Skorvus, lich priest (incinerated by holy fire)                     +
+   Date:           4/27/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the Fortress of the Nine                              +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Well done is better than well said."                                 +
+                                                   - Benjamin Franklin   +

                    DCCLXXXII.  When Champions Fall

  The battle rages on, though Belphanior and his team have joined the

Belphanior:  (to Otto)  Well, now it's a party.

  The elf and those with him had in fact accidentally come upon this
battle, but had not acted rashly.  It was obvious to them all what was
going on, and they had drawn up a hasty but solid plan.

Belphanior:  You all know what to do.  (he readies himself as the others
  fan out into the great hall where the fighting is happening)

  The elf had thought this entire thing through, and quickly concluded
that his first and only priority should be the execution of the lich
Xusia.  He was already hasted, but now he turned invisible and readied
himself, watching and waiting for the exact right moment to use his
spell-storing ring to make a great leap.

        Thalzabaal Selene
        giant spider
        drow priestesses  drider

                         St. Wilhelm      Xusia     constructs
                                  Skorvus       Cespedes Ythuus
         Sir Drexel                       Rob
         Ulrich                                                  Qstys
                                                                 MF2 MF3
                              Talos                              MF4 MF5
                                      Iron Dwarf

                      Fenris                                     Halbarad
                      Peyote                       mastiff


                                                                   Razor Charlie
        Alindyar Lyra
       Nenya     Derider
  Limbor     Baltek  Pallin

  Meanwhile, Rob was in trouble.  He had been counting on his holy word
and sunray to give Xusia serious pause, but the lich hadn't succumbed to
these mighty attacks, and in fact now had the advantage...

Xusia:  (points at Rob, and arcs of black energy connect the two)
Rob:  (staggers back, losing life energy)  AAAARGH!
Baltek:  (fires a magical arrow, figuring Xusia might be more vulnerable
  while occupied, but the missile glances from the lich's robes)
Xusia:  What?!?
Deryck:  (despite his wounds, he also plies his bow, hitting Xusia in
  the back with an enchanted arrow of his own)

  Deryck had thought ahead, planning for a battle in which undead would
be around for him to shoot.  He'd made this particular shot with one
particular arrow.  The missile bore a powerful holy enchantment, and
exploded in white flame upon hitting the lich.  Despite the powerful
protective robes he wore, Xusia was still burned by this weapon, and
reeled back, his assault on Rob halted.

Rob:  (on his knees, he struggles to stand)  Urgh...
Halbarad:  (having used his axe's powers to heal himself, he charges in
  from the side, intent on helping Rob against Xusia)
Bodok:  (flies in via the same door he broke out through, not too long
  ago)  BODOK!

  The beholder had been hit by one ray of a prismatic spray, and was
quite insane at the moment.  No longer differentiating between ally and
foe, the orb was flying about, pell-mell, attacking everyone.  Its jaunt
to the outside had been repelled for unknown reasons, sending it back
this way...

Bodok:  BODOK!  (it blasts wildly with all eyes, felling two of Deryck's
  summoned warriors, hitting the iron dwarf with a beam that has no
  apparent effect, and turning Peyote into a rabbit)
Daffodil:  (having just finished healing her man, she gapes as he stares
  up at her)
Peyote:  Mrp.
iron dwarf:  (turns to regard Bodok)  RAAAARGH!
Mongo:  (takes the opportunity to bash the foe with his hammer, knocking
  it back ten feet)
Bodok:  BODOK!  (it spins around, eyes wiggling on their stalks)
Halbarad:  (closest to the crazed beholder, he alters his charge and runs
  right for it, axe raised)

  Bodok spun back around, activating its anti-magic beam and bathing the
ranger in weird radiation.  Halbarad needed no magic to complete this
attack, though; he leapt, his axe slicing into the great eye.

Bodok:  AAAIIEEEEEE!  (its ruined eye gushes pink fluid all over Halbarad)
Halbarad:  (falls, coughing and covered in translucent slime)  Ghak!
Bodok:  (sinks to the floor, croaking weakly)  Bo...dok...(it rolls over
  and stops moving)
Halbarad:  F- finally...

  Nearby, Xusia prepared to launch some other foul magic at Rob, who was
attempting his own spellcasting.  A third party intervened, however...

St. Wilhelm:  (striding over the dust that was Skorvus, his attempt to
  smite the Suel lich a mighty blow with his cudgel is diminished by the
  numbing field of cold and decay which permeates the area)  Take that,
Xusia:  Aaargh!  (he sails back, landing roughly)
St. Wilhelm:  (glowing, he advances)
Xusia:  (needing time, he works a quick but helpful spell, pointing at
  the saint)  Orcus take thy sight!
St. Wilhelm:  (suddenly blind)  Aie!  (he swings his cudgel around,
  trying to hit the enemy he can only vaguely sense)
Xusia:  (slinks backward without a sound, reaching into his robes)
Rob:  (still recovering from Xusia's energy-draining spell, he prepares
  to charge)
Xusia:  (throws a handful of dust into the air)  BOQ VRAEN!

  Instead of simply falling to the ground, the grains spun viciously
in the air, emanating an aura of evil as they formed a dark cloud ten
feet in diameter.  Having carefully centered it to include both of his
opponents, he was pleased to hear cries of agony as the dust swirled
around both holy men.

St. Wilhelm:  Ack!  (staggers away quickly, deciding that bumping into
  walls or even foes is better than having his life force sucked away)
Rob:  (also backing away, though in a different direction, he opens one
  of his pouches and digs through it desperately)
Xusia:  (steps _into_ the cloud, which heals some of the wounds he has
  suffered, and begins spellcasting, although none can see him)

  Nearby, Derider had worked a spell of true seeing, intent on finding and
targeting Fenris and any other invisible foes who might be present.

Derider:  (scanning the webs, then the room, she frowns, not seeing the
  thief)  Odd...(turning, she spies something else that's invisible)  Oh

  Just then, Lyra was finishing the job that Nenya had started...

Lyra:  (summons a wall of fire around the mud dropped on the dark elves)
Nenya:  (spellcasting, she looks puzzled)  Magic probably won't hurt them.
Lyra:  No, the fire may not, but the boiling mud will.  I don't want them
  pulling themselves out of the mud and casting spells.
Nenya:  Ah.
Pallin:  I must away.  My protective field will remain here, in the spot
  where it was cast.  (he vanishes)
Lyra:  What?
Nenya:  Hmm.  (she completes her spell, dropping a hemispherical wall of
  force around the iron dwarf, who is across the room charging at Mongo
Mongo:  (charging, he bounces off of the invisible barrier)  Hey!  No fair!
iron dwarf:  (charging, he bounces back, quickly understanding that he's
  imprisoned in a small space)  RAAARGH!  (he begins pounding on the force-
  bubble from within)  RRRAAAAAAAARRRGH!
Lyra:  Nice.
Limbor:  (fires a green beam of disintegration at Cespedes, missing by
  mere inches)
Cespedes:  (working his own spell, he casts a baleful glare at the elf,
  following this with a dazzling burst of flaming meteorites that rocket
  toward Limbor and, indeed, all of the champions' magi except Pallin,
  who is elsewhere)
Limbor:  Look out-

  The meteor storm scored a direct hit on the knot of wizards.  Pallin's
previously-cast protective field absorbed some of the multiple blasts,
but not quite enough.  Alindyar, Lyra, Nenya, and Limbor all fell to the
series of explosions, as did the archer Baltek who had been covering them
with his bow.  Derider (who just happened to be a little too close) was
caught on the fringe of the blast as well.

Derider:  (knocked down and unconscious before she gets a chance to tell
  anyone of the invisible danger she just saw)
Deryck:  Nenya!  (he whirls, firing an arrow at Cespedes)
Cespedes:  (ignores the missile as it is intercepted by another of his
  metallic orbs, which is cracked and whizzes away, hitting a wall and
  falling with smoke streaming from the crack)
Mongo:  (unable to continue his assault on the iron dwarf, and seeing
  his friends harmed, he reacts predictably)  You bastard!  (he prepares
  to throw Stormcrest)
Cespedes:  (suddenly shielded by the three remaining metallic orbs)
Mongo:  Huh.  (he switches tactics, instead launching a bolt of lightning
  from his hammer)  Take that!
Cespedes:  (saved by all of his remaining orbs, which sacrifice them-
  selves by flying into the path of the bolt)  Hmm.  (he begins to wonder
  whether there is any point in remaining in this battle)

  A pair of one-on-one battles still raged...

gigantic black spider:  (the dark elves' servant)
gigantic white spider:  (conjured by Alindyar)

  The strange grappling combat of the two arachnids was bizarre to watch,
as each tried to bring its fangs to bear on the other.  They quickly got
tangled up as they fought, and despite their size, were ignored by everyone
  Two of those who ignored the spiders now fought, blades ringing on each
other as well as armor and shield...for Ulrich and Drexel had gone to war.
Both had nicked weapons, dented armor, and bleeding cuts - but they fought
on, holy against unholy.

Ulrich:  Fall, damn you!
Drexel:  Never!

  Each warrior was a champion of his god, with great powers and years of
experience and skill.  The fight could have gone either way, but Ulrich
had a slight edge in that he was fairly fresh, while Drexel had already
fought much this day.  Ulrich also had a larger edge in that his unholy
blade possessed a special and deadly which came into play
as the anti-paladin struck a ringing blow to Drexel's breastplate.

Sir Drexel:  (gapes in surprise as that entire piece of his armor simply
Ulrich:  Hah.  (he redoubles his attacks)

  Drexel was in big trouble now.  He'd already taken a dozen blows on
the chestplate; without it, a single blow now would surely kill him.
Yet he fought on, without fear or apparent concern...because that was
what he did.

Sir Drexel:  (almost takes Ulrich's head off with a whirling strike)
Ulrich:  (sliding forward, inside the swing and the foe's defenses)  Got
  you!  (he plunges his sword deep into the paladin's heart)
Sir Drexel:  (drops his blade)  Urgh.  (he falls, spitting up a great
  deal of blood)  Ghak.  (he keels over)
Ulrich:  (raises his sword in triumph)  YES!
Otto:  (backstabs the anti-paladin, his own sword sliding deep into a
  joint in the armor)
Ulrich:  Urk.  (mortally wounded, poison burning through his veins, he
  somehow manages to turn around and slash the now-visible Otto across
  the chest)
Otto:  Aaargh!  (staggers back, bleeding)
Ulrich:  (falls to his knees)
Otto:  (darts forward, despite his rather serious wound, and lops the
  anti-paladin's head from his body before he can work any sort of
  self-healing magic)
Ythuus:  (having been scanning various combatants' thoughts and also
  summoning allies to aid in the battle, he suddenly finds himself
  facing Ys)
Ys:  Greetings.  (he swings his huge sword in a killing blow)
Ythuus:  (blocks the weapon with his triple-bladed poleaxe, then waves
  one hand, blasting Ys point-blank with a color spray)
Ys:  (staggers back, blinking)

  The five invisible mind flayers summoned by Ythuus (and spotted as
they appeared, by Derider) defended their master, hitting Ys with five
mental blasts.

Ys:  (knocked back into a wall, he drops his sword and sits there in
  a daze)  Uhhh.
Razor Charlie:  (throws two knives at one of the flayers, hitting it
  in the head and causing it to stagger, bleeding as well as blinded
  due to the special power of one of the knives)
other mind flayer:  (turns and hits Charlie with a mental blast)
Razor Charlie:  (knocked away, stunned)
Ythuus:  (turns his attention back to the remaining combatants)


Rob:  (pulls out a fan, which he waves frantically)
Xusia:  (revealed as the dark cloud is blown away, his spell is ruined
  as strong winds buffet him for a moment before fading, and he sees
  the priest right in front of him)  Damn you!

  From Xusia's side, only a few remained:  the lich himself, working
another spell, stood near Rob (who was charging toward him to attack
before that spell was completed.)  Talos, devoid of direction, marched
toward Mongo, who had finally given up on further fighting with the
now-imprisoned iron dwarf.  Cespedes was spellcasting again, and near
him stood Ythuus and his quintet of mind flayers.

  Of the champions, only Mongo and Deryck were up and about, and both
were hurt.  Rob was functional, though weakened by the energy-sapping
magic of Xusia.  Halbarad, though standing, was still in a daze, wiping
beholder slime from his face.  St. Wilhelm was blind and had wandered
off toward a corner.  Daffodil had stashed the polymorphed Peyote into
her backpack and was trying to help the party's wizards, who had been
blasted by the meteor swarm from Cespedes.

  A handful of those present - Mongo, Skektek, Pallin, Belphanior,
Ythuus, and Talos - had attacks in progress...

Skektek:  (using his newest wand, he creates a massive wall of iron,
  resting vertically and ready to tip, right next to the five mind
  flayers and Ythuus)  Mongo!
Mongo:  (finally notices Skektek)  Huh?  What're _you_ doing here-
Skektek:  Throw your hammer - knock that wall down!  Hurry!
Mongo:  (without questioning, he does what was asked of him, hitting
  the iron wall with enough force to collapse a small house)

  The heavy wall teetered...tipped...and fell, crushing the illithids
into paste.

Skektek:  (pumps his fist in the air)
Ythuus:  (regards the wizard)
Pallin:  (finally reappears, near Talos, bringing into being a large
  rectangular portal)
Talos:  (charging hard, it is unable to break its momentum and stop,
  and thus barrels right through the portal, vanishing)
Pallin:  (immediately closes the gateway)
Ythuus:  (forgetting about Skektek, it abruptly turns toward Pallin)

  Last, but far from least, Belphanior had finally spotted the chance
he sought, for no one and nothing was in his way.  Invisible and hasted,
he made a magically-boosted leap across the room, landing right behind
the spellcasting Xusia.

Belphanior:  (smiles an invisible but nasty smile to himself as he

next:      conclusion
released:  12/19/01
notes:     Whew.

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