They had traveled only a short distance when Mongo had an idea.
Mongo: (holds up a silver horn, then winds it)
Otto: This is no time for music.
Ged: What's happening-
Near the dwarf, the air was shimmering, then solidifying. Within
moments, seven huge berserkers stood before Mongo, battleaxes ready.
berserkers: (salute the dwarf with their axes)
Mongo: You're going to form a skirmish line shortly... (digging in his pack, he finds a number of torches) Someone help me...light these.
Otto: (nods, seeing what Mongo intends to do)
Shortly, the seven big warriors had formed a line, from one side
of the tunnel to the other. Each held a torch in one hand and an
axe in the other; together, they both guarded and illuminated the
entire width of the tunnel.
Mongo: Walk at a steady march, in front of our party. (he points to Songa) Except her, for she is our scout.
berserkers: (they obey, beginning their march)
The adventurers followed in the summoned warriors' wake, feeling
a lot more comfortable now that they had reinforcements.
Alindyar: That does raise one question, though.
Ged: What's that?
Alindyar: We were unable to teleport out of this place...yet they could be summoned in, from another plane.
Ged: Ah! You're thinking that interplanar magic might succeed when intraplanar magic didn't.
Songa: I don't know exactly what you people are talking about, but if it means you're not going after that monster, leave me out of your plans. I intend to find that thing, and slay it, with my own two hands if necessary.
Songa: I'm glad you understand. (she returns her attention to the tunnel ahead, moving back in front of the line of berserkers)
Mongo: (chuckles to himself)
Gorin: (watching the ceiling)
A short time passed, and they moved into a strange area. It wasn't
stranger than what they'd seen already...just different. The sides
of the tunnel were still made up of weird resin and formations, but
now these were added onto other, cylindrical structures. These were
huge, stretching from floor to ceiling; they were straight and smooth,
unlike the weird wall-structure that had been built over them.
Songa: (reaches out, tapping one of the cylinders in a spot where its surface isn't covered by dark crust) Metal.
Ged: It looks like these big cylinders were here first, and this other stuff was added on.
Alindyar: I am beginning to suspect that these monsters did not design this place, but rather came later and...changed it, more to their liking.
Belphanior: (nods) Makes sense.
Lyra: If that theory is correct, then I wonder what happened to the original denizens of this dungeon.
Otto: Maybe the monsters happened to them.
It didn't take them long to find the lions, or rather, what remained
of them. Amidst a scarred pit in the floor, some of it splattered with
blood, was the twisted stump of what used to be Ged's magical statuette.
Ged: Boccob! My lions! They've been slain, and their figurine ruined!
berserkers: (muttering to themselves)
Songa: (shaking her head) How...how did the monster do this without us hearing?
Mongo: That's a damn good question.
Otto: It'd be simple, really. It could have dropped from above, where they couldn't know it was based on scent.
Gorin: You're saying it landed and killed both of these lions before one could even roar?
Otto: (shrugs) It could have happened, that's all I'm saying. That thing moved pretty damn fast last time we saw it.
The discussion was interrupted by a shout from the berserkers - one
of them had spotted something!
berserkers: (pointing at the tunnel's ceiling and yelling)
Ged: (looks upward)
The monster was up there! It clung somehow to the top of the passage,
a good forty or fifty feet above their heads. They couldn't tell if it
was trying to ambush them, or if it had been simply watching them, or
perhaps something else altogether. After all, its hideous features
didn't exactly allow for recognizable expressions.
monster: (moving back along the ceiling)
Mongo: (to the berserkers) Keep under it! Stay with it! Keep it in your torchlight!
monster: (stops, looking down) Hsssss!
Ged: Any number of spells would pick it off now-
Songa: (hefts a magical javelin, aims, then casts the thin, sharp weapon) Die!
The monster darted aside - still clinging to the ceiling - but the
angry warrior-woman's aim was true. Her javelin took the thing through
one leg, and it screamed.
Songa: Ha! When it falls, it's mine. (she readies her spear)
Ged: Look at the wound...!
The monster's leg was oozing the same white, bubbling substance that
the thing on Bosco's face had bled when cut. One of the berserkers was
unfortuate enough to be standing beneath the dripping acid, and he took
a direct hit in the face.
berserker: YEAAAARGH! (he flagellates about as his head melts)
monster: (begins running along the ceiling, back the way the party came)
Mongo: Don't worry, I've got him. (he hurls Stormcrest with all his might)
The hammer struck true, smashing the monster in its back and tearing
its armored hide open. The thing fell instantly, landing in the tunnel's
floor, still writhing and screeching.
berserkers: (move in for the kill)
Mongo: (catches Stormcrest)
The dwarf was in for a rude surprise, though, for most of the hammer
was covered with bubbling acid. The weapon was a powerful and ancient
artifact, forged in the best furnaces by the best legendary smiths of
another world. Nevertheless, there were now deep pits in its metal
head, and the handle was nearly eaten through.
Mongo: (realizes that the magical gauntlet on his right hand is also being dissolved) Argh! (he drops Stormcrest and struggles to get the glove off, even as the acid reaches his bare skin beneath)
Gorin: (helping Mongo) Hold still!
A short distance away, the berserkers were charging the wounded
monster. However, it stood up, its leg still leaking acid blood, and
turned! As the berserkers chased it, the thing fled back down the
tunnel with amazing speed for something that had suffered the injury
Ged: (already spellcasting) Stop it!
Belphanior: (calmly) I'm on it. (he points his fireball wand at the monster, and a small ball of flame spurts forth, growing and expanding)
Nobody - not the elf, not the other adventurers, not the berserkers,
and not even the fleeing monster - could have expected what happened
next. As the fireball hit the monster and blossomed into full power,
there was a SECOND, even more tremendous explosion! While the monster
and the berserkers were in the center of this inferno, the adventurers
were knocked back like leaves in a hurricane. Flame licked at their
bodies, and the mighty impact drove the breath from their bodies and
consciousness from their minds.