Chapter 43

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          Navero, male human cleric, 5th level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 5th level
          Razuli, male human fighter, 5th level
          Kory, male elf bard, 4th level
          Topash, male elf druid, 4th level
          Meth, male ? thief, 3rd level
          Serga, male half-ogre fighter, 3rd level

In the morning, everyone got their stuff together and took off down
the road.  But less than a mile down the road, they came to a large
stone arch over the road.  It bore no marks or carvings, though there
were a few cracks through it.

Kortul: (Stops, looking at arch.)

Razuli: "Ok!  Who's stupid enough to go through!"

Navero: "Maybe you're only safe if you go through."

Dania: "I can't detect any magic on it."

Topash: "I wouldn't think you could."

Navero: "Uh..."

Dania: "What?"

Navero: "I think we're supposed to go through the arch."

Razuli: "Yeah, yeah, that's what we're supposed to do.  Which is
     exactly why we shouldn't do it!"

Kory: "Oh, of course not!  That's when the 'religion sensor' field
     detects that we're not kosher, and zaps us to a roasty toasty
     crackly crunch.  Which, quite frankly, is a fate I'd rather avoid
     just now, though I may change my mind later."

Razuli: "Why?"

Kory: "I might get a charge out of it."

Dania: "I think I'd like to see that.  Why don't you test it?"

Razuli: "We could catch a rabbit and throw it through."

Navero: "I don't think that would work anyway.  Animals have no souls,
     so the arch wouldn't bother them."

Kortul: "Should circle around.  Go 100 yards out from road."

Dania: "I dunno.  I think priests usually enclose the whole temple."

Navero: "There's no reason why it would be otherwise."

Meth: (Looks singularly bored.)

Razuli: "Look, I don't know about you, but the arch just looks like
     death on a spit.  If anyone wants to ride through it, go right
     ahead.  I'm going around."

Kortul: (Nods)

Navero: "I still think we should go through the arch.  They'll know to
     attack us if we go around."

Dania: "Yes, but they may not have us in such a good position.  Let's
     go around."

Serga: "Are we going that way?"

Topash: "I also think we should go through the arch."

Kory: "Well, I think you need your head examined.  Let's go around!"

Dania: "Four for around, two for through... Meth?"

Meth: (Ponders for a moment, then takes out a silver piece and flips
     it.) "Uh..." (Stares at coin.) "Around."

Navero: "But..."

Kortul: (Starts riding away.)

Serga: (Looks around confusedly.) "I guess we're going around."

     With mixed reluctance, everyone rode off the road into the grass
and brush.  Kortul took his accustomed position at the lead, with
Dania and Kory behind him.  Navero and Topash straggled to the rear,
behind Serga.  About 100 yards or so out from the road, Kortul made a
sharp left towards the temple and unsheathed his sword.  Nothing
happened until he crossed some invisible line intersecting the arch.
Without warning, a huge explosion went off, blasting Kortul right off
his horse and onto his butt.  Two huge, frog-like creatures appeared
on either side of him, and grabbed his arms.

Kortul's horse: (Very sensibly runs away.)

Kortul: "Rarrggh!" (Struggles with frog-things, but they are immensely

Kory: "Oh, yick!  Nav, does your group get this sort of worshipper?"

Navero: "No!  I think they're demons!" (Starts chanting.)

Meth: (Rummages around in his pouch.)

Razuli: (Rides up and hits one with his sword.) "Hey, we need this guy
     to soak up damage!  Make your wish with somebody else.  Not me,

Dania: "Fucking hell, Raz, get out of the way!" (Casts Magic Missiles)

Serga: (Rides up, slowly.)

Topash: "Hmmm... they are certainly extra-dimensional.  Perhaps we can
     find a way to force them to return."

Kortul: (Wrenches his arm away and punches one frog-thing.  It makes a
     rubbery sort of sound like a drum.)

Dania: "Bolt!" (Casts lightning from staff on Kortul's thing.  The
     lightning also badly shocks Kortul.)

Razuli: (Sigh) "Wizzerd, haven't we told you about slinging yer staff
     around like that before?" (Chops at his thing.)

Kory: (Draws sword, tries to decide who to fight.) "Raz, be patient.
     It's probably that time of the month."

Kortul: (Drags himself away from the thing and falls down, shaking and
     searching for his sword.)

Serga: (Still riding up.  His horse starts breathing funny.)

Meth: (Takes out a dart, pulls a cork off the tip, and throws it at
     Kortul's thing.  It bounces off.) "Well, I think these things
     need magical weapons.  Damn!"

Topash: (Casts Tanglefoot on Kortul's thing.)

Dania: (Casts Magic Missiles again) "Kory, fight that one!"

Kory: "Aye aye, cap'n miss, sir!" (Stabs Kortul's thing.)

Kortul: (Finds his sword, turns to fight thing.)

Razuli's thing: (Disappears.)

Razuli: "Hey, mine's gone!"

Serga: (Finally arrives, his horse trembling.) "Hey, I just got here!"

Navero: (Stops chanting, looks around.) "It's still here!  I think it
     turned invisible!"

Topash: "Oh, my.  Does anyone know any appropriate spells?"

Meth: "Not I!  I can only see what isn't there."

Dania: "Kill the one first, then find the other!"

Razuli: (Rides over and chops the thing.  It falls down.) "Hey!  These
     things aren't so tough after all!  This should be easy!"

                  * * *  V A D A B L A M ! !  * * *

     A gigantic explosion went off, right in the middle of the party.
Meth, Razuli, and Serga were all at ground zero; Meth and Razuli died
instantly.  Kortul was knocked flat on his ass again, and didn't get
up this time.  Dania and Kory were fortunately able to avoid most of
the blast, and Navero and Topash were outside of the blast radius.

Kortul: (Quietly moans and curses life and magic users.)

Dania: "Aggg..." (Grabs at her fallen staff.)

Navero: "There it is!" (Points at thing, which has reappeared about
     ten feet above the party, floating in the air.  It seems quite
     pleased with itself.)

Serga: (Serga took the blast at ground zero, failed his save, and
     lived anyway.  Half-ogres, go fig.) "OW!!  HEY!!" (Chops up at
     thing.  Serga is nearly 8 feet tall, and swinging a bastard sword
     one-handed, is easily able to get it right in the lower body.)

Thing: (Grabs at its lower body and kicks Serga.)

Kory: "Ah yabba yow yer yoogy..." (Reels, shakes head.)

Topash: "Oh, dear." (Rides up.)

Dania: "Flolt!  I mean bolt!" (Lightning on the thing.)

Navero: (Rides up, past fleeing horses.)

Serga: (Grabs thing and drags it down to earth.) "AAARRGHH!!  THAT
     HURT, YOU LITTLE *&%*#-$*!!"

Thing: (Gulp.)

     The fight finally ended with Serga jumping up and down on the
thing until the pieces didn't even go squish anymore.  It was very
impressive, especially for a third level character.  Dania did help a
little, mostly a smattering of Magic Missiles.  After all the shouting
and screaming was done, we tended to the wounded.  Kortul was lying on
the temple grounds right where he had been thrown, mumbling something
about never trusting spell casters again.  Kory went to heal him,
Topash and Dania tried to get the horses, and Navero checked Razuli
and Meth.  Both of them were quite dead, fried where they'd stood, so
Navero cast Cure Serious on Serga.

Serga: "Hey... you did something *nice* for me...  No one's ever done
     anything nice for me..."

Navero: "Well, uh..."

Serga: "FRIEND!!  THANK YOU!!" (*Big* hug!)

Navero: "urkkk!" (Ever been hugged by a half-ogre?)

Serga: "Oh, sorry."

     Topash and Dania got two horses, which Navero healed up after a
short break to take care of a collapsed lung.  Kory got Kortul back on
his feet again, much the worse for wear, but out of immediate danger.

Dania: "Damn.  That sucked."

Kory: "Oh, come on, you can do better than that."

Serga: "Are you guys going to kill more of these?"

Dania: "Um, I guess.  Are there any more around?"

Topash: "Well, since we've been crossing over the border of the temple
     grounds fairly freely for the last few minutes, I don't think
     there are any more."

Serga: "Well, I don't care.  I want to be with my good buddy friend
     the priest person.  I'm going with you, and fight evil."

Navero: "Um, thank you, uh..."

Serga: "My name's Serga."

Navero: "Thank you, Serga.  We will be happy to have you here, and
     know you'll do everything you can to aid our quest.  Did we tell
     you what our quest is?"

Serga: "You're fighting evil."

Dania: "Actually, we're supposed to find an artifact called The Orb of
     Spheres, and deliver it to someone."

Topash: "It's a very powerful magic item."

Serga: "Oh.  Is it evil?"

Topash: "I don't think so."

Serga: (Ponders for a moment.) "What does it do?"

Topash: "We don't really know. We just have to get it and deliver it."

Serga: "Well then, I'm coming with you to make sure you get it, and
     it's safe, and that my good friends are all safe."

Dania: "Uh, yeah, thanks.  Actually, I think we can use someone like
     you around here."

     We had four horses left, so we decided to let Serga and Kortul
ride by themselves, with Dania riding with Navero and Kory with
Topash.  (Serga was about all Serga's horse could handle anyway.)  But
before we left, Navero did insist on burying Razuli and Meth, and
saying a small funerary ceremony.  He even chipped out an epitaph for
them on a rock, with the hammer and chisel he kept in his pack.

Razuli's ghost: Hey... I never had anyone do anything like that for
     any of my characters. (Dramatically wipes tears away.)

Meth's ghost: Say, dearest dungeon master, what will happen when
     Navero gets a whiff of the remains of Meth's wonderful lungs?

Game M: (Evil grin) Gee, I don't know.  Make a save vs. poison,

Navero: (Flubs it, of course.) "What's that funny smoke?  Err..."

Meth's ghost: I have succeeded in my life quest to get Navero stoned!

Game M: Yes, all the gods are very impressed.  You are now the new
     demigod of illegal pharmaceuticals.

(Navero's head gently implodes and he wanders around hallucinating.)

     Dania gently corralled Nav, tied him over his horse's rump, and
the group headed in to the temple.

Daniel Parsons                "Shouldn't we wait until Nav dries out?"         "Maybe he'll be able to contact the higher
                                         powers more easily like this.
                                                         "Good point."

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