Chapter #966

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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       +
+   1991-2007 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        +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   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                           +
+   iron golem     one of Belphanior's golems captured from Xusia         +
+   stone golem    one of Belphanior's golems captured from Xusia         +
+                                                                         +
+   Kronos         extremely powerful lich                                +
+   ~300 zombies   battalion of unusually powerful zombie warriors        +
+                                                                         +
+                                                                         +
+                                                                         +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Neera          11th level human female sage/astrologer                +
+   Date:          12/3/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          midday                                                 +
+   Place:         somewhere deep within the Sea of Dust                  +
+   Climate:       cool and dry                                           +
+   "You never had any patience."                                         +
+   "I don't have time."                                                  +
+                                              - from _Invasion USA_      +

                   CMLXVI.  Showdown in the Sea of Dust

  The assault on the city beneath the Sea of Dust is underway; undead
battle undead, golems run rampant, magic is everywhere, and Belphanior
has just come very close to dispatching the ancient, powerful mummy-king
Al-arakara.  Unfortunately, the foe has had a chance to recuperate from
his wounds and summon reinforcements, including a giant skeletal snake,
a golem of bone, two mummy warriors, and a mummy wizard.  For his part,
Belphanior is flanked by Otto, Skektek, Ys, Razor Charlie, Jenna, the
stone golem, and the iron golem.

Belphanior:  Heh.
Al-arakara:  You should not have returned here, for the-  (he pauses,
  looking around slowly) amiss.
Kronos:  (appears suddenly, twenty feet above the floor and just behind
  Belphanior)  A most astute observation, my old enemy.  (he launches a
  volley of small, fiery black projectiles)
Belphanior:  Shit.

  The elf had seen a meteor storm before, and he knew that any such spell
cast by Kronos would be potent indeed.  Unfortunately for Belphanior and
his companions, they were far too close to the targets of the meteor
shower, and would certainly be hit by its multiple blasts.  Skektek, of
all people, saved the day; he already had a wand in each hand, and one
of those powerful items was able to conjure up various barriers in the
space of a moment or two.

Skektek:  (pointing his wand and shouting an arcane word of command, he
  instantly throws up a wall of force right in front of himself and his
Belphanior:  (blinks)

  Right then, the meteors hit Al-arakara and his allies.  Kronos' spell
was more powerful than anyone could have expected - which made sense, as
the lich wanted to use the element of surprise as efficiently as possible
and stop his ancient foe.  Here, that meant attacking with his most
powerful spell first.

Al-arakara:  (directly hit by one of the meteors, he flies back into the
  passage's wall, now ablaze)  AAARGH!  (a second meteor hits him just a
  moment later)  AAAAARRGH!
mummy warrior #1:  (also directly hit by a meteor, it is vaporized)
bone golem:  (blasted on one shoulder by a meteor, it staggers)

  Each meteor impact resulted in a mighty blast, the flames and heat
billowing outward...but rebounding off of Skektek's shimmering wall of
force.  Thus, the mummy-king and his minions received the complete brunt
of the multiple meteor blasts, and even those not directly hit were all
wounded to some extent.

Belphanior:  No time to waste here...everyone ATTACK!
Skektek:  (uses his wand to drop the force-wall)  One step ahead of you.

  The group surged forward, taking the offensive before the evil foes had
a chance to recover.  The iron golem charged the bone golem, swinging its
massive metal fists and raining destructive blows on the bony foe.  Ys
hit the skeletal snake with his huge broadsword, cutting it in half along
its thick spine.  Skektek hit the mummified wizard with a most unexpected
attack - a thick web - which pinned the thing's arms to its sides and
prevented it from casting any spells at the moment.

Otto:  (darts forth boldly, putting his crossbow right to the mummy's
  head and pulling the trigger)
wizard-mummy:  (suffers the effects of a powerful magical bolt directly
  into the skull)  Urk.
Razor Charlie:  (throws a silver knife at the second mummy warrior)
warrior-mummy #2:  (hit in the neck by the blade, it gurgles in pain)
Razor Charlie:  (throws a second knife, hitting the foe in the heart)
warrior-mummy #2:  (backs away)
Razor Charlie:  (finds other combatants suddenly in the way of a third
  thrown blade)  Damn.
Jenna:  Istus, grant me the power...(she brandishes her holy symbol
  and attempts to turn the skeletal snake...and succeeds, as the half of
  it that contains the head turns and flees, slithering awkwardly, into
  the domed room behind the attackers)
Ys:  (picks up the severed tail section, which is still writhing wildly,
  and tosses it after the fleeing front section of the undead snake)
wizard-mummy:  (finally succeeds in breaking free, partially, of the
  mass of webs)  Now I shall-  (it looks up suddenly)
stone golem:  (looming over the mummy, it brings a massive stony fist
  down onto the foe's head)
wizard-mummy:  <SPLORTCH>
Belphanior:  (heading for the burning form of Al-arakara, as the mummy-
  king staggers away from the various combatants in the mouth of the
  passage)  Get back here!  (he prepares to cast a spell to slow down
  the foe, but his attack is blocked as the two struggling golems tumble
  past him, temporarily blocking the passage)  Dammit!
iron golem:  (smashes the bone golem with another mighty blow, crushing
  its chest and breaking it into several pieces)
bone golem:  (ceases to be functional)
warrior-mummy #2:  (retreats, coming to the aid of the dazed, charred
Al-arakara:  (with the help of his minion, he heads deeper into the exit
  passage, away from the fight)
Belphanior:  Shit, he's getting away!  (he gives chase, noting briefly
  the bubble of force along on wall of the passage, which contains

  Back in the domed chamber, the rough bubble of solid rock that held
the dwarven warrior cracked...and quivered as the crack grew...and then
stone exploded outward in all directions, as Mongo broke free!


  Enraged, the dwarf charged toward the exit passage where he had last
seen the one who imprisoned him in the stony trap.  One of Al-arakara's
undead soldiers made the mistake of trying to attack Mongo, and paid the

Mongo:  (punches the thing in the face, pulverizing its head with a
  single blow)  Out of my way, you!

  The dwarf was singleminded in his anger and his goal, running right
past various combatants and ignoring them all.  He rushed past the iron
golem (which was demolishing the larger pieces of the bone golem) and
the stone golem (which was reducing the wizard-mummy to paste) and all
of the others...

Mongo:  Where's the mummy-king?
Razor Charlie:  (points down the exit passage, which Al-arakara and
  Belphanior just left through)  Belphanior went-
Mongo:  Thanks.  (he charges in that direction)
Razor Charlie:  ...right.

  The dwarf did find something that made him stop:  right there in the
passage, floating several feet above the floor, was his hammer!  The
weapon seemed to be trapped within a small, transparent bubble, and was
bouncing around within, as if it was trying and failing to break free.

Mongo:  Hell, no!  (he brings an arm back, then punches the shimmering
  sphere with all his strength)

  The dwarf possessed the strength to level a small house, but the force-
sphere was truly an immovable object (though some people, had they been
present, would have sworn that they saw it budge, just a bit, under the
force of that blow).  Mongo's fist bounced off of the bubble with just
as much power as it had hit the barrier with; the dwarf flew backward
about twenty feet, slamming into a passage wall hard enough to crack the

Mongo:  Whoa.
Skektek:  (comes running down the passage)  What the hell was that?!?
Mongo:  (points to the force-sphere)  That thing's got my hammer!  (he
  gets to his feet, ready to charge into the thing, full-force)  I have
  to get it back!
Skektek:  Whoa, there.  You're only going to break your neck.  I think
  I can bring that bubble down.  Cover me, in case anything attacks.
  (he walks toward the force-sphere)
Mongo:  Okay.  (he clenches and unclenches his fists, seething with rage)
  Well, hurry it up!
Skektek:  Hey, he's a lot more powerful than me, so cut me some slack.

  Fortunately (for them) no unnamed, unnoticed minions of Al-arakara were
in that area at that time; if they had been, Mongo would have made quick
work of them.  Skektek brought his wand up, touching the bubble of force
lightly...and the barrier vanished instantly!  Stormcrest immediately
flew back into Mongo's hand, and the dwarf caught it, grinning wildly.

Mongo:  Let's go get them!  (he turns and charges deeper into the passage)
wispy thing:  (somewhat bored with everything it's seen so far today, it
  darts after the dwarf happily)  fssss!
Skektek:  (staring smugly at the wand)  Ha!  I knew I was right, that it
  can cancel --- (realizes he is talking to an empty room)  Shit.  (runs
  after the dwarf)

  Unseen by all, Kronos - who had changed his body structure into some
immaterial, intangible, and invisible form - floated in that direction
as well, passing through stone like a ghost, unseen and unhindered by
all.  The lich had unfinished business with Al-arakara, and intended to
see that business ended today, once and for all.

next:       conclusion
released:   4/20/07
notes:      Okay, I lied; I said that this episode (966) would be the big
  finale of this battle.  Things didn't work out that way, but they are
  all lined up for the conclusion, in 967, a week from now.

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