Chapter #872

previous chapter (#871)                                                                  next chapter (#873)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2005 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!                                          +
+   Belphanior     15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   Date:          7/2/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          midday                                                 +
+   Place:         unknown                                                +
+   Climate:       cold and increasingly wet                              +
+   "We don't take hints well."                                           +
+                                                   - from _Hellboy_      +

                   DCCCLXXII.  Springing A Leak

  After an attack by a gigantic shark, the complex has sprung some leaks
and is slowly but surely flooding...

Belphanior:  Which means that we've got a finite amount of time to get
  out of here before the place floods completely.
Otto:  (eyeing the sprays of water from various wall seams and joints)
  It could take a while, at this rate.
Belphanior:  We can't take any chances.  What if we get down there and
  the gateway isn't working?
Skektek:  Then we'd teleport out.
Belphanior:  Unless, for some unknown reason, we can't teleport out of
  here.  My point is, let's not get backed into a corner where we have
  no options.
Otto:  The first thing we should do is get down below and close this
  hatch.  The leaking all seems to be up here, so we need to isolate
  the upper compartment.
Belphanior:  (nods)  And we need to do it case that bastard
  shark decides to ram this place again.  Let's stop talking and get

  Through a combination of magic and muscle, those still in the domed
chamber above moved (or were moved) through the hatch and down the
ladder into the larger area below, and the hatch was sealed.

Belphanior:  That ought to help.
Otto:  Yeah...most of the flooding I saw was coming from up there.

  It was true; there were only a few very minor leaks down here, compared
to the half-dozen in the top room.  With the immediate problem out of the
way, they could turn their attention to the wounded.

Belphanior:  (kneels down next to Jenna, whose head lies in a small pool
  of blood)  How is she?
Skektek:  I'm no healer, but I'd say she hit her head hard enough to break
  something inside.  I don't think she should move her until we can learn
Belphanior:  (wondering if he can scan her head with his crystal eye and
  perhaps learn more about the injury)
Otto:  (removes his ring of regeneration and puts it on Jenna's finger)
  This doesn't mean we're engaged or anything.
Skektek:  But how will you heal your own wounds without the ring?
Otto:  (spits out blood)  I'll be fine.
Belphanior:  (to Elgon)  What about you?  That leg looks pretty bad.
Elgon:  (finishes a makeshift splint, tying a cord around it and his leg)
  Ouch!  (he begins casting a spell)  I'm getting there.  Now that this
  is set properly, I can work some healing magic on the broken bone...and
  once I'm out of pain and can think straight, I'll see about Jenna there.
Belphanior:  (stretching his bruised shoulder, he grimaces)  Okay.  (to
  Ys, whose right side is covered in blue blood from the cut on his head)
  How about you?
Ys:  (shrugs)  You need not worry about me; we reptilians are a hardy lot.
Belphanior:  So I've noticed.

  The elf looked around, musing to himself about the "appearance" of
Cespedes in the upper chamber, just before the shark attack.  He wasn't
sure if the wizard had actually shown up and then become intangible, or
if he'd been intangible the entire time.  Perhaps he'd been an image,
projected by magic from some faraway place.  Even stranger, Cespedes
hadn't said anything or cast any spells, which didn't quite fit his past
profile as a dangerous foe.  The only explanation that made any sense was
that the wizard hadn't wanted to risk damaging the underwater fortress by
engaging the explorers in battle.  Then again, Belphanior realized, he
hadn't given the wizard much of a chance to do anything, attacking him
the instant he showed up.

Belphanior:  That's got to be it.
Ys:  Pardon?
Belphanior:  Nothing.  (he looks right, and then left)  We need to check
  this place for leaks.  (to Otto)  This is how we'll break it up...

  While Elgon attended to healing, Otto took Razor Charlie and Skektek
while Belphanior took Ys; the aim was to explore the various chambers of
this lower level, in order to get an idea of how bad the leaks and
flooding were.

Belphanior:  You go that way, and Ys and I will go the other way.  We'll
  meet on the far side and then return here.  (to Elgon)  Will you be
  okay here?
Elgon:  (checking his leg)  I'm fine.  Go ahead.
Belphanior:  This place is big, but not that big - if anything happens
  to anyone, just shout.
Otto:  Gotcha.
wispy thing:  (sails after Belphanior, grinning happily)  spfff.

  As the party split into three groups - two to explore, one to stay
behind - the water continued to leak into the complex from various
points.  The slight spraying sound of leaks was audible no matter where
they walked.

Belphanior:  (looks around as they pass the area containing the assorted
  tanks of water and dead sea life)  There's a small leak in this area,
  there, just above the floor.
Ys:  If that's the worst one, this place will be fine for days.
Belphanior:  I'm sure that the people in here - back when they actually
  were in here - had some means of repairing leaks, sealing them off.
Ys:  I wonder what happened to those people?
Belphanior:  Maybe they went outside somehow, into the water...though
  we know how dangerous that can be, if things like that shark are out
  there swimming around.
Ys:  I wonder why the shark picked that exact moment to show up and then
  attack?  Perhaps it was summoned by the wizard, or wizard-image, or
  whatever it was.
Belphanior:  (eyes the living quarters as they walk by, idly noting a
  tiny leak that's barely causing a puddle)  Well, think about this from
  the viewpoint of the aquatic life down here...for a long while before
  now, this place has just been an inert gray lump on the ocean floor.
  Today, it suddenly emitted bright light, at the same time it suddenly
  contained moving objects.
Ys:  (nods)  Of course the more aggressive underwater life would feel the
  need to investigate...or attack.
Belphanior:  That shark definitely attacked.  (he frowns, wondering just
  how deep underwater this place is)

  It wasn't long before the two exploratory groups met on the far side of
the huge domed chamber.

Otto:  We saw three leaks, all of them small.
Belphanior:  Same here, but there were only two.
Skektek:  It really doesn't matter if they're small or not - eventually
  this place'll fill up with water.  (he thinks wistfully about all of the
  weaponry in the armory)  And that would be a waste.
Belphanior:  No, it won't.  Let's regroup and check on Elgon and Jenna,
  then we'll take anything worth taking and get out of here.
Razor Charlie:  Good plan.

  They found Elgon walking (albeit with a limp) and Jenna awake, looking

Belphanior:  How are you feeling?
Jenna:  Tired and weak.  Elgon brought me back from the brink of the
  great abyss, and I was then able to cast a more powerful healing spell.
  (she grimaces, rubbing her blood-stained head)  I have to be honest,
  though:  I'm not sure how much more magic I can use today, and I doubt
  I'll be any use in a fight.
Belphanior:  It's okay.  We're gathering whatever valuables we can carry,
  and then we're out of here.

  As it turned out, their overall carrying capacity was less than they'd
expected, for Belphanior's portable hole was nearly full.  It didn't
contain anything that the elf wanted to part with, and almost everything
in this place that was worth taking was made of metal.

Skektek:  (standing with the others in the armory section of the undersea
  fortress, he hefts a metallic staff)  All of this stuff's pretty heavy.
Razor Charlie:  Or sharp.
Otto:  Or both.
Belphanior:  We'll have to use magic and our own common sense to decide
  what to take, and what to leave.  (he scans the racks of weapons, his
  crystal eye weighing their various magical auras)

  When all was said and done, the adventurers carried away a good bit
of loot from the armory:

Belphanior:  three spears
Elgon:  strange military pick, dagger
Jenna:  metal staff
Otto:  shortsword, weighted net
Razor Charlie:  trident, short curved knife
Skektek:  wand, dagger
Ys:  long pole with hook

  As they'd noted before, the racks on the three walls contained no
armor - not a single suit, helm, shield, gauntlet, not even a codpiece.
On the bright side, there was the matter of the ten-foot-high metal
cylinder in the center of the armory, a curved door built into its side.

Otto:  Bright side, my ass.  That thing'll probably vaporize us if we're
  not careful.
Belphanior:  (scanning the cylinder with his crystal eye)  You can just
  feel the magic coming from it.
Razor Charlie:  Well, I can't.  But I get the point.
Skektek:  (excited)  Maybe the magic's not from it, but instead whatever
  lies _inside_ it...
Belphanior:  (to Otto and Elgon)  Let's comb this thing thoroughly, for
  traps and such.  Jenna, you can help us if you're up to it.
Jenna:  (wearily)  I'll do what I can.

  They only found one trap, but it was a big one:  the door, when opened,
was enchanted to freeze everything within ten feet of the cylinder.  Had
they sprung this trap (rather than defuse it, as they did) it would have
frozen some of them solid.

Skektek:  Not unlike an Otiluke's Freezing Sphere variant.  Clever.
Elgon:  That crazy Otiluke.
Skektek:  He's not crazy, but he sure has some good spells.

  The cylinder was opened, with great caution, but no harm came to any
of the adventurers.  Within the thing was a wooden stand, which held two
treasures:  a complete suit of plate mail armor and a trident.  The mail
was a dark blue in color, not from any paint but rather the metal itself.
The trident was jet-black, five feet in length with triple prongs.  The
weapon, like the armor, didn't have a speck of rust on it.  Its shaft was
inscribed with strange runes which weren't familiar to anyone present.

Belphanior:  (removes the trident from its case)  Wow.
Elgon:  That thing bears mighty enchantments.  (he regards the suit of
  plate mail)  As does the armor.

  The latter was also removed, but no sooner was it stowed away than a
deep rumbling began, beneath their feet, shaking the entire place.

Jenna:  I've got a bad feeling about this.
Otto:  We don't need a mystic to tell us that!  (he points to the center
  chamber, containing the gateway)  I think we'd better-

  The dwarf's words were interrupted by a sudden hissing, from every
direction at water began to flow into the room!  In moments,
it lapped at their ankles, such was the speed of the flooding.

Belphanior:  Shit.

next:       outward bound
released:   5/13/05
notes:      I always thought it was funny how, in movies with undersea
  or submarine settings, some big impact will cause leaks to spring, and
  then characters are always able to turn wheels or pull levers to make
  the leaking stop.

previous chapter (#871)                                                                  next chapter (#873)