Chapter #942

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

+     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       +
+   1991-2006 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              +
+   Neera          11th level human female sage/astrologer                +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+                                                                         +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   Date:          10/8/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          afternoon                                              +
+   Place:         the town of Ganarec, in the Hold of the Sea Princes    +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "What do you want to do?"                                             +
+   "Kill them all."                                                      +
+                                                  - from _Wyatt Earp_    +

                   CMXLII.  Massacre at Ganarec

  The attack on the Sea Princes' outpost of Ganarec has gone wrong for
Belphanior and his companions, as multiple traps have been sprung simultaneously...

Belphanior:  (along with Elgon, Jenna, and the wispy thing, he vanishes
  within the triple fireball blasts)

  A single fireball typically resulted in a detonation that shook the
ground and incinerated an entire city block, creating a crater the size
of a house.  Three of them, however...that was enough to utterly level
the entire center of the town, incinerating everything within several
hundred feet of the spot where the elf had stood.  A number of nearby
buildings survived the shock of the triple blasts, but were now ablaze
from the massive amounts of flames generated by the fireballs.  Great
gouts of black smoke rolled skyward, and it took quite some time before
the blast crater was visible again.

mage #1:  (floats over the smoking ground, his arms crossed)  Perfect.
mage #2:  (hovering above the ground due to a levitation spell, he nods
  in agreement)  It seems the elf was, after all, as easy to lure and
  bait as we suspected.
mage #3:  (flies above and then past the other two)  From the looks of
  things, not even a cinder remains.
mage #1:  Of course, this will make the proving of his death...difficult.
mage #2:  There's nothing to prove - he's been vaporized.
mage #3:  (looking around)  We had best go help deal with the others, in
  case those "surprises" happen to fail.

  Otto and Ys were on the receiving end of one of those, in fact; the
very slaves who they'd been in the process of liberating had turned out
to be something else.  The mob, more than a hundred strong, pulled small
knives from their tunics and turned the weapons inward, toward the two
adventurers - who were completely surrounded.

Otto:  Now what the hell is this?
foe #1:  This is what happens when you defy the Sea Princes.
foe #2:  (wipes his brow, exposing a section of white skin)  Face paint,
  you fools.
foe #3:  We're not slaves at all, but rather elite guardsmen, disguised
  and with weapons hidden as we waited for the right moment to strike.
foe #1:  And that moment is now.
Ys:  (turning around in a slow circle as the foes begin to close the
  circle of steel, he glances at Otto)  Have you any bright ideas?
Otto:  Just one.  (he raises his crossbow)  Kill 'em all.

  The nearest foe fell back, a bolt protruding from one eye-socket as
blood and gore leaked from the ghastly wound.  Otto's crossbow was quite
powerful, instantly reloading itself with magically-generated bolts.  A
second foe charged in, assuming that the dwarf would need some time to
reload; by the time the man realized his mistake, he was on the ground
with a bolt through his throat.

Otto:  (raises his crossbow as a third bolt appears, ready to fire)  The
  one good thing about this situation is that we don't have to worry
  about other friendly forces - it's open season on these clowns.  (he
  frowns)  Though I'm afraid they'll overwhelm us, sooner or later.
Ys:  We shall see.

  The big reptilian's approach was more direct, and far more devastating
to the massed guardsmen.  One swing of his gigantic sword cleared a swath
of foes, three dead from massive trauma, four more down with less serious
wounds.  Ys didn't even have to choose a particular target - he just
swung his sword, and enemies were cut down like wheat.  A second attack
to his right side had about the same result:  another half-dozen slain
or maimed.  Just these two attacks had already given the foes pause, as
no single one of them was ready to be the next to die.  Otto held his
crossbow ready, intending to shoot the next fool to charge toward him.

Ys:  (to Otto)  You are correct, I'm afraid.
Otto:  That we're badly outnumbered?
Ys:  That it's best not to have to worry about friendly forces getting
  in the way.  (he suddenly reaches down and grabs the dwarf by the
  collar)  Hold on to your weapon.
Otto:  What-
Ys:  Go and get some help.  I shall be fine.  (he hurls the dwarf _over_
  the throng of attackers)
Otto:  (despite this unexpected action, he manages to roll with the
  impact, coming up on his feet, weapon still in hand)  Ys!  No!

  The reptilian was out of view, surrounded by multiple ranks of foes,
and Otto realized that the matter was now out of his hands.  That didn't
stop him from trying, though.

Otto:  (takes a step back toward the throng of foes, then shoots a guard
  as the man turns to face him)
foe #104:  (dies with a bolt through his head)  Urk.
foe #105:  (turns, as do a dozen others)
foe #106:  Let's get him!
Otto:  (shoots that man in the chest, then backs up as the smaller band
  of enemies breaks away from the main force and heads toward him)  Crap.
foe #108:  (about to throw his knife, he falls with a bolt through his
  hand)  Aaaargh!
other foes:  Yaaaaaaah!  (they charge toward him)

Otto:  (realizes that he can't shoot all of them in time)  Damn.  Sorry,
  Ys.  (he turns and sprints away, heading for the nearest building and
  the cover he needs to pick these attackers off one at a time, or at
  least defend a doorway)

  Meanwhile, a number of guards, as well as a wizard garbed in black
robes, were gathered around the spot where Mongo had just sunk into the

black-robed wizard:  (crosses his arms, smiling smugly, as the trio of
  magi approach, none of them actually walking along the ground)
mage #1:  (eyeing the large, uneven section of ground where the rock
  was turned into mud, and then back to rock)  What happened here?
black-robed wizard:  I buried that trouble-making dwarf...and his damned
mage #2:  Good.  We'd heard far too many horror stories about him and
  his hammer, from survivors in Monmurg and our fort in the Amedio.
mage #3:  (about to say something, he suddenly turns toward an unusual
  noise...then gasps in surprise and pain as the front of his tunic
  suddenly turns red)
Belphanior:  (becomes visible, along with his sword, which is sticking
  completely through the foe)  That's odd, since I didn't think I left
  any survivors.

  Meanwhile, Ys was on his own against more than a hundred of the Sea
Princes' finest warriors...which was _exactly_ what he wanted.  Though
it was generally good to have help in a wild melee such as this, the
big reptilian needed room to use his oversized sword.  Otto, even as
small as he was, nevertheless ran the risk of getting in the way.  By
ejecting the dwarf from the battle, Ys had turned the battle his way,
even if the opponents didn't yet realize it...

foe #13:  Rush him - there's scores of us, and he's all alone now, and
Ys:  Indeed.  (whirls around, swinging his sword in huge arcs)

  Between the reptilian's great reach and the length of the blade he
plied, he was immediately able to clear a wide circle about himself...
a circle whose edge was filled with bodies, parts of bodies, and much
blood.  He had just taken out a dozen of the guards; no shield could
stop that gigantic greatsword and the strength of the arm behind it.
No sword could parry one of Ys' blows - rather, the smaller weapons
simply shattered, or fell from numb hands, before the might of the huge

foe #54:  (takes a step back, suddenly fearful)  Uh...
Ys:  Oh, come now.  (he leaps forward with surprising speed, slashing
  at the tightly-massed pack of opponents again, and slaying or wounding
  another half-dozen of them)  Is there a problem?  (he steps out, moving
  with his backswing, and cuts a foe in half)
foe #88:  (his thoughts of charging in and stabbing the scaly enemy in
  the back are quelled, even as his top half separates from his bottom
  half in a spray of blood and gore)  Urk.
foe #7:  (a grizzled sergeant, he shouts loudly to his troops)  NO MORE
other foes:  (yelling and cheering with renewed courage, they surge as
  one, closing the ring of steel around Ys)
Ys:  Good...let us finish this.

  Elsewhere, Skektek had been out of the fight thus far, as he'd flown
away earlier and taken out selected targets on the ground.  After the
huge triple explosion, he'd headed back that way, but been occupied with
a couple of wizards on the ground.  Those foes were now ashes, and the
wizard had been flying back toward Belphanior's last known location when
he spotted Otto, fleeing from a dozen knife-wielding guards.

Skektek:  Well now, we can't have that.  (he launches a lightning bolt,
  obliterating the foes and scorching a large burn into the rock of the
Otto:  (turns)  Huh?
Skektek:  I thought you could use some help.
Otto:  I can - I did.  Yeah.  (he looks around wildly)  We're under
  attack here.  We need to get back there and help Ys.

  They returned to that wide street, only to find the big reptilian
still hacking away, surrounded by a heap of dead foes.  Ys was covered
in blood and gore, as well as numerous small wounds, but from the looks
of things, he'd slain at least a hundred of the guards.  A mere dozen
or two remained, and they didn't seem to have much desire to remain here
and fight.  That desire was lessened significantly when Skektek blasted
five of them with magic missiles, and Otto slew two more with well-aimed
bolts.  The morale of the rest broke, and they suddenly fled, away from
these murderous invaders.

Skektek:  Exactly what I wanted.  (he sends a lightning bolt after the
  guards, blasting the entire group into ashes)

  Elsewhere in Ganarec, the remaining magi were shocked and awed to find
Belphanior alive...

mage #3:  (falls, his chest spurting blood, as Belphanior withdraws his
  blade and kicks the dying man away)
Belphanior:  Ahhh.
mage #1:  What-  how?!?
mage #2:  (immediately pulls out a wand)

  The wizard never had time to use the wand, for a large translucent
sickle of magical energy slashed through the air...and his right arm.

mage #2:  AAAARGH!  (he watches his arm, and the wand, fall to the
  ground below)
Jenna:  That's for trying to kill me.
Belphanior:  Sorry, you bastards, but I'm afraid we're just not very
  forgiving.  (he turns to face the two survivors)
mage #1:  (working a spell)  You won't live to-  (he pauses suddenly, as
  a dart appears in his forearm)
Elgon:  (becomes visible)  I'm not just an illusionist, you know.  (he
  throws another dart, hitting the man in the shoulder)
mage #1:  (looks surprised...and then wobbles on his feet)  P...poi-
Elgon:  Very good.  (he watches as the man falls)
black-robed wizard:  Enough.  (he points at the deep gnome)
Elgon:  (suddenly lifted from his feet by unseen powers)  What?!?  (he
  finds himself hurtling through the air toward Jenna)  Look out-
Jenna:  (goes down in a heap with the gnome)  Ungh!
Belphanior:  (still hasted, he leaps toward the wizard - and is then
  held still, in the air)
black-robed wizard:  My powers are more than enough to deal with you and
  your allies.  The idea that nobody's been able to take you out before
  is, quite frankly, preposterous.
Belphanior:  (winces as Blackrazor is forcibly removed from his hand)
black-robed wizard:  Now, you can watch helplessly as I kill you with
  your own sword.  (he manipulates Blackrazor, turning the blade around
  so that it points at the elf)

  The sword, possessed of some form of inherent intelligence, actually
fought the telekinesis magic...but its efforts were in vain, for the
foe's power was too great.  Inch by inch, the sword's point moved toward
Belphanior's heart...

wispy thing:  (fluttering around the enemy wizard's face, it buzzes and
  chirps like mad)  sssss!  brfff!  nrrrp!
black-robed wizard:  (swatting at the wisp, he nevertheless prepares to
  stab Belphanior with his own sword)
Belphanior:  (seemingly cursing and muttering to himself in a low voice)

  Then, without any sign or warning, the elf just vanished!  The mage
knew that this wasn't invisibility, as his telekinesis had no foe to
hold in place anymore.  The red-cloaked elf was simply not there.

black-robed wizard:  Where-
Belphanior:  (standing right behind the man, he grabs his head in both
  hands...and twists savagely)
black-robed wizard:  (collapses, his neck broken)
Belphanior:  What a waste.  Blackrazor would have enjoyed you.
guard:  (having moved, along with a score of his fellows, to surround the
  elf)  You're doomed now - we've got you without your sword.
Belphanior:  But the question is-

  All conversation was interrupted by a major tremor in the ground, which
rocked the town's street and almost caused some of those present to lose
their footing.  A small crack appeared in the street...and then widened
into a large fissure...and then the rock exploded upward, driven by a
hammer wielded in a powerful fist.  Mongo was free - and he was more than
a little upset.

Mongo:  (leaps out of the small crater he just created)  DAMN IT!  (he
  looks around, instantly sees what's going on, and hurls Stormcrest,
  taking out a dozen of the guards at once)  BASTARDS!
Belphanior:  (leaps and dives, sliding across the ground toward his
Mongo:  (still shouting and cursing as he catches his hammer)  SOMEONE
  WILL PAY FOR THAT!  (he swats a charging attacker aside with one steel-
  gloved hand, them bashes another one with his hammer, crushing that
  foe into pulp)

  The battle was basically over now, as the forces of the Sea Princes
were completely routed.  Even when Mongo cooled down, Belphanior didn't;
he methodically found and executed every single foe who had survived to
this point.  Before long, the various adventurers had regrouped in the
center of town...

Elgon:  (to Ys)  You're a mess.
Ys:  (shrugs)  It was a hell of a battle.
Otto:  Yeah.  (he quietly thanks the gods for Belphanior's decision to
  leave Neera in the skyship this time, as she might have distracted him
  and ruined his focus for today's battle)
Jenna:  It's a good thing Belphanior used his cube of force and threw up
  a barrier, or those fireballs would have roasted us.
Elgon:  I'm even more impressed with the way he used that dimension door
  to escape that enemy wizard's telekinesis hold.  Not many people would
  have had the presence of mind to use a verbal-only spell in that
Otto:  (smirking)  He thinks ahead and plans for times like that.
Jenna:  That wizard thought he was so smart, but he didn't bother to use
  his power to keep Belphanior's mouth shut.
Otto:  And that's the last mistake he ever made.
Mongo:  If Belphanior hadn't killed him, I would have when I broke out.
  (he clenches his hammer in a knotted fist)  That really pissed me off.
Otto:  (eyeing the damage all around)  Yeah, we can tell.
Skektek:  (watching as Belphanior wipes blood from his sword)  Damn, you
  killed them all?  That's vicious.
Belphanior:  I'm not done yet, either.  Before we leave here today, we're
  going to raze this place to the ground.  I want Ganarec completely and
  forever off the map.
Mongo:  (raises his hammer)  No problem, trust me.
Skektek:  This was a fairly elaborate, well-planned trap.  I know this
  is no big news, but we've got enemies in the Hold of the Sea Princes.
Otto:  And it's all of us - not just Belphanior, not any one of us...but
  all of us.  It's important to understand that.
Belphanior:  I'm really getting tired of these guys.  We need to find
  out exactly who amongst the Sea Princes is continuing to push us.
Skektek:  That'll be tough, since all of the smart ones are dead and any
  foot-soldiers still around won't know anything.
Elgon:  Actually, we have a prisoner.  (he points to the fallen mage #1)
  My darts are coated with a potent sleep poison.  That man's not dead,
  he's just unconscious.
Belphanior:  (smiles thinly, though he already knew this thanks to his
  sword's soul-sensing powers)  Excellent.

next:       the source of these troubles
released:   10/20/06
notes:      I know that many of you probably want to see some other
  Belphanior storylines and cleanup of loose ends, but trust me, there
  is a plan here.

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