Dan Justice and the Sword of Clay!

A continuing story originally posted to the Serial Tree Board


With an early introduction by Roger M. Wilcox, from 22-Nov-1984


Between the elemental planes of Earth and Water lies the elemental plane of Mud. Potters from every age have worshipped the mud elemental king Slog, who eternally ruled the fabled city of Clay More with his mud elemental minions. Clay More had undergone terrible wars and terrible times of peace; and at the center of it all, forged under Slog by devout potters of long ago, stood the most awesome of enchanted weapons, whose true name had long since been forgotten: the legendary Sword of Clay. It was to this plane that Dan Justice and his band of fanatically loyal followers journeyed.

Dan Justice looked back one last time, to remember the place he'd come from and to survey his group before they plunged into the not-too-well known. "This is it, fellas," he said in a voice rich with overtones, "The city of Clay More. In its heart lies Slog's palace and our goal. Once we get that sword there'll be nothing standing between us and stamping all evil into a little wet spot on the ground."

The group stood ready, clad in leather armor this time because iron has a tendency to rust in a muddy environment. There was Jughead Smith, the token half-elven ranger; Jim the Thief, lockpick extraordinaire, who was along on this mission in case they find any locked mud; Bwaah!, the cleric/sage who could translate alien languages at the speed of thought; Pranathustra, the female half-orc martial artist; and Kraakan, the potter with the Ring of Mud Elemental Command who always carried his kiln along with him on his back. Everyone was armed with knife or sword or bow, except for Bwaah!, who couldn't use edged weapons but gladly wielded a massive flail. Dan Justice, Jughead Smith, and Bwaah! even carried shields. They were ready for any encounter.

"All right," said Dan, "CHARGE!"

"Wait a minute!" interrupted Jim the Thief. "Don't you think it would be better if we snuk past all the mud elementals rather than engaged them?"

"What, and give up gobs of free Experience Points?!"

"Oh, yes, of course," Jim buried his face in his hands, "How stupid of me!"








The story thus far:

Dan Justice (human fighter), Kraakan (human potter), Bwaah! (dwarven cleric), Jughead Smith (token half-elven ranger), Jim (human thief), and Pranathustra (female half-orc monk) had gone to the elemental plane of mud to steal the Sword of Clay from Slog's lair. During the initial scuffle with about a hundred Mud Elemental cops, they were captured and taken to Slog's dungeon.

Since Jim was a thief, he picked the lock on the ironmud bars and The Party escaped. They found the armory and retrieved their weapons & armor. Kraakan the potter (a.k.a. magic-user) recovered his kiln, but his ring of mud elemental command was missing. Now, thanks to Kraakan's "Locate Object" spell, The Party knows the exact location of the Sword of Clay.

Only problem is, they'd have to go through several layers of stone wall to get it!

"Hey!" said Jim the thief, "We'll have to go through several layers of stone wall to get it!"

"I know that!" Dan retorted. "Now, THROUGH THE WALLS!"



"...but I think it might be better if we followed the corridors. Don't have to waste a Tunneling spell that way."

So said, The Party walked straight ahead, looking for any stairways and passages to the east. Straight ahead, as everyone knows, is always north. Another mud elemental appeared: wham, bam, thank you Slog. You'd think that Slog would have been alerted of their escape by now.

"SO," rumbled Slog, peering into his clay ball, "THEY HAVE ESCAPED. THEY SEEM TO KNOW THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE SWORD. MAYBE I'VE UNDERESTIMATED THEIR ABILITIES. . . . NAAH!" He turned to his yes-man. "LET THEM COME CLOSER. THIS WILL PROVE QUITE INTERESTING..."

"Yes sir, Slog!" his yes-man blurbled (do you know how difficult it is to talk straight when you're made of mud?). He picked up the intercom gem. "All personnell allow the escapees to get by -- repeat, allow them to get by. Slog wishes to deal with them himself."

Something in the clay ball caught Slog's eye. He turned and saw The Party staring around, wondering where that sound was coming from.

"YOU FOOL!" Slog cursed, "NOW YOU'VE ALERTED THEM!" He raised his terrible hand and smashed his yes-man with its back side. The yes-man flew across the room and splattered into a billion muddy pieces. "GET ME A NEW YES-MAN!" Slog demanded.



"Oh, shit!" cursed Kraakan. "NOW whada we do?"

"Only one thing to do," Dan Justice said, smiling. "FRONTAL ASSAULT!!!!!!!!"

"Raaaaaaaaaaaaagh!" battlecried Bwaah!.

They all charged forward, albeit Kraakan, Jim, and Pranathustra were a little relcutant. Three seconds later, the floor folded out beneath them.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" everybody yelled. Everybody, that is, except Pranathustra the female half-orc monk.

"Don't worry," Pranathustra said, "I'm within five feet of a wall!" Smiling, she let herself drop, knowing she would take no damage when she hit bottom.

"But what about uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuussss......" Kraakan cried, falling with the rest of the people.

"Oh gee..." Pranathustra pondered, "Didn't think of that..."

Kraakan searched his body.... No, there was not a single feather to be found. His Feather Fall spell wouldn't work. He looked down to see what fate held.

The ground, now only meters below, was lined with forty-centimeter steel spikes....



Was that just some spikes that were 40 centimeters long or 40 spikes that were 1 centimeter long?



Message # 12 from SYSOP Date: 07/23/85 18:44:36

Dan quickly thought about the several spikes that were 40 centimeters long. Unfortunately, he couldn't think of anything.

The potter, with all his INT, quickly realized: So this is it. We're all going to die.

The thief looked, and said, "That's valuable. Great!"

The monk was slowing herself down.

The token half elf, however, quickly realized what to do: miss the ground. Which he did quite well, and proceded to toss everyone else back up.



Message # 13 from JEFF BOEING Date: 07/24/85 11:31:03

And then everybody was in REAL trouble because they were about to get dashed to bits against the ceiling!



So they smashed into the ceiling and rebounded back into the pit, impaling themselves with three times the Kinetic Energy they would've had had Jughead Smith not thrown them up.

Pranathustra screeched to a halt millimeters above the floor, avoiding the spikes. She stepped down and brushed the dried mud from her clothes. "Well, that wasn't so bad, was it guys? Uh, guys? . . ."



Message # 15 from SYSOP Date: 00/00/00 09:21:11

Jim the thief said, "I think they bought the big one. Looks like just me and you, kid. Think we can make it?"

"Are you kidding?" Pranathustra retorted. "Of course not. But I don't think we have any choice. By the way, do you know how we are getting back home?"

"No, Dan was supposed to take us back"

"Oh great. You guys are the worst organized of any party I've ever seen."

"Thank you."

"But now what do we do?"



Message # 16 from DENSITY MAGE Date: 00/00/00 15:19:58

"Ooooh," came a moan from the back. It sounded familiarly dwarvish. "My aching body."

Bwaah! the cleric moved his arms (neither of which were spiked) to the ground and slowly pried himself off the spikes. THIS was a long and painful process [sic]. Once he was up, he measured the extent of the damage, counted the number of spike holes in his body, and casted a "Cure Critical Wounds" spell on himself.

"Well," he mused, "That feels better."

Pranathustra was worried. "But what about the rest of The Party?"

"Gee, I dunno. I only took along enough healing spells for myself."

"Great. I wish I could transfer some of that damage to ME. Monks can heal damage on their body, you know."

"Hey," said Jim the thief, inspecting one of the bodies. "Looks like Jughead Smith isn't quite dead either!"

"Hey, ranger!" Pranathustra urged. "You take any healing spells along?"

Jughead moaned, "Uuuuh, 'course. Wouldn't be a ranger without taking druidical `Cure Light Wounds' a couple of times, would I?"

He cast both CLWs on himself. Miraculously, he rolled eights both times.

"But what about Kraakan the potter?" everyone asked in unison. "You know what low hit points potters have!".......



"What about Kraakan the potter?" Kraakan the potter asked. "I still have one (1) hit point left!"

"BUT HOW WILL YOU HEAL YOURSELF?" everyone asked in unison.

"Easy," he said. "I'll cast Polymorph Self a couple times. Every time that spell wears off, I get back 1-12 hit points!"

And so, after changing into a grizzly bear and a sentient glazed donut, Kraakan rolled two "12"s and was back to normal.

THEN everybody turned to Dan Justice.

Dan looked back, popped himself off the spikes and jumped gaily up onto his feet. He brushed the dirt from his vulgar ultrapuncture-wounds. "Good thing those spikes only did 30 points of damage to me," he said. "I've still got 67 hit points left!"

"Great!" Everyone cheered. "NOW where to?"

"Well, ya see that door at the bottom of this pit that says, 'To the Sword of Clay'? Let's go through there!"



Message # 18 from SYSOP Date: 07/28/85 21:54:06
(I thought they were out of CLW. Oh well, onward and upward.)

On the monitor, Sludge (or whatever) looked at the party. "WHAT? HOW COULD ANYONE SURVIVE A FALL LIKE THAT? THOSE SPIKES WENT RIGHT THROUGH THEM! AND HOW DID THAT TOKEN ELROND MANAGE THAT??"

"Well, ahem, you see sir, um..."

"GET ON WITH IT!"

"...well, uh..."

"ONE MORE HESITATION AND YOU DIE!"

"Well, they have these hit points, and the spikes only did X points of damage, but they each had more than X hit points."

"WHA--" he looked through a copy of the "Monsters Handbook" (companion of "Players Manual") "-- MY GOD, THAT'S RIGHT! UGH, IS THAT AN UNREAL SYSTEM. OK, WHAT ARE THEY DOIN--"

At that moment, the door burst open.

"Dan, shouldn't I have tried to open it silently?" asked Jim.

"Don't be silly. Of course I'm supposed to bash it open."

"Are you sure? They don't look suprised?"

"Oh, surprise. That's one thing I hadn't figured on."



Message # 19 from JEFF BOEING Date: 07/29/85 16:14:52

"SO," boomed Slog, "YOU HAVE FINALLY REACHED MY LAIR. WELL, THAT'S EXACTLY WHERE I WANTED YOU. YOU CAN'T *POSSIBLY* DEFEAT ME!" He pushed a button on his Magic console. A door opened on the far side of the room and lots of 16-hit-die Mud Elementals poured out. "GET 'EM, BOYS!"

Dan Justice gasped, saw the gigantic gem in the corner, saw the shining, laenish sword sticking out of the gem, smiled broadly, and said, "ahAAAAAA!"

A Mud Elemental advanced on Dan. He dodged its mighty blow and advanced further toward the sword. The Party could handle itself well enough on its own.

"My God," Bwaah! panicked, seeing the approaching MEs. "How can we POSSIBLY hold all of those off?"

A mud elemental lurched at Kraakan. He screamed, bent over, activated his kiln, and baked the muddy humanoid to a solid crisp.

Jim the thief managed to get behind one of the MEs and do quintuple damage, but he wouldn't be able to get away with that forever. More Mud Elementals were arriving each second.

The sword was less than two feet away. Dan leapt over the last mud elemental in his path, grasped the haft of the sword and pulled with all of his Exceptional Strength. The Sword of Clay slid out of the purple gem with a "shing" and a deep bass undertone.

"HAH!" Dan Justice blurted. "The Sword of Clay is in my hands! You don't stand a chance now!!!"

The mud elemental he'd leapt over turned to face him, completely unimpressed by the Great Weapon he was wielding. He threw a muddy punch and did 75% subdual damage to Our Hero.

Dan Justice regained his footing, raised his new sword, said, "Give it up, you pathetic fools!", and hacked at the beast. It easily dodged and followed up with a right hook that smashed into Dan's shield (DJ took 1/2 damage).

Now more groggy from being down so many hit points, he said, "This is your last chance!" and hacked once more. The sword gashed its muddy epidermis; it responded by using Dan's head for a pile and its fist as a pile driver.

Dan barely managed to keep standing, said, "You were warned!", and slumped down Unconscious on the ground....



Message # 20 from SYSOP Date: 08/02/85 22:21:40

The group was quickly taken to Slog. When they woke up, this was their fate:

A large room, with metal panels filled with flashing lights and moving round things inside glass cases. A large console with buttons, levers, and dials. A large mud elemental standing guard over them. A large Slog looking at them. A large sword of clay in Slog's hands.

"SO, YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD DEFEAT ME AND TAKE MY SWORD, EH? WELL, IF YOU WANT IT SO BADLY, YOU CAN HAVE IT."

"Ack" said Dan as he was coming to, "My aching...owh." Taking a quick look around, he surmised the situation thusly: they had taken a shalaken out there. "I think I'd rather not have the sword; I seem to be down to maybe 1/10 my original fighting strength."

"AN EXCELLENT CHOICE." Slog sheathed the sword, and added, "BUT THEN WHAT WILL WE DO WITH YOU? BALIF?"

The Mud elemental then said, "If they are found guilty of attempting to steal the sword, breaking and entering into the palace, disturbing the peace, jail break, unnecessary roughness, and being offsides, the maximum penalty is 10 years or 20 yards. If they are not tried, but instead given the short form, the penalty is 1 week and 15 yards."

"I THINK WE SHALL GIVE THEM THE SHORT FORM. SEE YOU IN A WEEK! WHA-HA-HA-HA," Slog laughed as he left the room.

Our party was taken to a medium security jail cell where they were cautioned against any escape attempts.

"But what is this '15 yards'?" Dan asked.



Message # 21 from HAVOK Date: 08/04/85 00:18:58

"That is the length we cut off of your penis!"

"Oh, no!" cried Dan. "Not that!" There had to be a way out of this. This was worse than working in the Orcish slave dungeons. Dan was a fighter; his penis was his life.

"Don't worry about it," Pranathustra soothed. "I've lived all my life without a penis, and nothing bad has come of me!"

"Oh yeah?" Dan sarcasized. "You're a MONK!"

"She's also a female," offered Kraakan.

"We will also have to take fifteen yards off your penis, potter!" the Baliff sneered.

"Good!" said Bwaah! the cleric. "Take a few yards off mine, too! I never use it anyway!"



Message # 22 from SYSOP Date: 08/04/85 12:54:34

The token .5 elf (don't remember his name, but he's the only one who hasn't spoken) said, "I think he was kidding about cutting penises. No one has 20 yards worth."

They looked for a way out. This was a long, slow process. During this time, Dan recovered 70% of his remaining hits -- this brought him up to 17.

Finally, on the day of the yardage, the morning guard explained what was involved. "We put you fifteen yards from an exit in a room filled with archers."

Dan thought about this, and said, "Can't they just cut off our dicks instead? We'd survive that."

"Sorry. Only one yard sale per customer."

"Well guys, we have --" he looked at his bare wrist "-- about 5 hours before we die. Hey guard, what time do you get off?'

"Oh, in about 2 hours."

"Would you mind leaving about 5 minutes early before your replacement comes?"



Message # 23 from JEFF BOEING Date: 08/05/85 17:27:46

Good one, Keybored! I give you an "8 1/2" on that move! However, if you recall, when Dan Justice took 3 points of damage in the beginning of the story, he was down to 97 hit points. Ergo, if he had 70% of his hit points back, he should be up to 70 hit points, unless you meant he had healed 70% of his wounds, which would mean he would be up to 100 minus (30 + 3) plus (30 + 3) * 0.70 = 90.1 hit points. In any case, he's in better shape than 17 hits.

Now, on with the show!



Message # 24 from SYSOP Date: 08/09/85 22:50:34

The day came. The hour came. The guard would not leave 5 minutes early. Our party was taken to the room. Dan was telling them, "Now guys, it's only 15 yards, that's about 7". If we push our running, we should make it in one round."

But then They entered the room. Yes, there was a door fifteen yards away. Unforunately, there were 3 rows of archers in between them.

"Oh boy," thought Dan, "Even if we do get to the first row in one round, we'll be rushing them head on. And those things don't look like regular bows.

"THEY'RE NOT. THEY ARE CROSSBOWS," replied Slog (who was carrying a sign saying "Boo, hiss, go ahead, make my day")

The crowd was waiting...

The bell rang...

The archers fired...

The crossbowmen shot...

And our heros were... (to be decided by the next poster)



Message # 25 from THE VIGILANTE Date: 08/10/85 00:45:25

...victorious....

And no one took any damage but poor Slog who could care less about the bolt that took off his little toe.



Message # 26 from HAVOK Date: 08/11/85 02:19:10

"WOW!" said Dan as he lead The Party outside the arena, running. "Twenty-nine crossbow bolts and not one of them hit us! I don't think I've been so incredibly lucky in my life!!"

"I've been luckier," commented Kraakan the Potter. 'How do you think I managed to survive until 5th level?' he thought inwardly to himself without telling anybody else.

"Hold it a minute," commented Bwaah! the cleric. "Didn't we forget something?"

"Yeah," said Jim the Thief, "We forgot the *$&!ing Sword of Clay!"

"No problem," said Dan, putting one of his patented George Peppard cigars in his mouth. "I've got a plan!!"



Message # 27 from SYSOP Date: 08/11/85 11:29:27

However, the plan is as yet unknown. For through that door charging after our party came a huge collection of bowmen. Those with clear shots (about 3 or 4) notched some arrows and shot.

Fortunately, Our Heroes turned around the corner.

Unfortunately, there was someone there.

Fortunately, he wasn't armed.

Unfortunately, he was legged.

"Who are you?" asked Dan.

"Just call me Sick Kick," said the man.



Message # 28 from JEFF BOEING Date: 08/11/85 15:14:53

Yes, it was SICK KICK! That mean-and-nasty super hero (if you can call him that) with the Berserk at Green Superpowered Bricks, the Find Weakness on a 38 or less, and the Savate (Martial Arts, kick only, cost 1/3x STR) with the +x2 STR multiple attached! Designed specifically for the purpose of taking out Exxon's The Exploiter's "Sick Brick"!!!

The Party grabbed for their weapons. They suddenly remembered that Slog-and-company took them away before they'd been put in the 15-yard-penalty arena. They were also without their armor, kiln, Ring of Mud Elemental Command, and various sundry Material Components.

The dastardly good-doer said:



"Hey! Aren't you Dan Justice?"

"Me?" said Dan. Then, he grew more egotistical. "Why, yes I am! I'm Dan Justice, the greatest Fighter of all time!" He flexed his muscles, showing off his Exceptional Strength. "The roughest, toughest do-gooder this side of the Quentilas Quasgar mountains of Sevourbeupstry!"

"And what are WE," Krakaan barked, putting his fists on his hips, "Chopped liver?"

"Oh, yeah ... uh, Sick Kick, meet The Party."

"Hi," said the supertype.

"HI," said Kraakan, Jughead Smith, Jim the Thief, Bwaah!, and Pranathustra simultaneously all together at the same time in unison.

"Say," Sick Kick inquired, "What are YOU doing here in Clay More? I though no one ever entered Slog's domain without a gilded invitation."

"We could ask YOU the same question," Jim the Thief offered.

"Well, I got a gilded invitation; and I've been kicking Mud Elementals to death ever since."

"But why?" asked Jughead Smith.

"Because one of them had an Incredible Hulk lunch box, and you know how I HATE green superpowered bricks! So when the Mud Elemental police arrived and saw the dead M.E. with two big foot marks in him and his lunch box torn to shreds, I became a wanted man. I've been trying to leave the elemental plane of mud ever since."

"Well, tell you what," said Bwaah! the cleric. "We're trying to get the Sword of Clay away from Slog, so we can use it to stomp all evil and heresy into a little wet spot."

'I never said anything about heresy,' Dan thought.

"So if you'll help us get back into Slog's lair and recover the sword, we MIGHT let you come back to the Prime Material plane with us."

"Sounds great," Sicky said. "When do we start?"

Three big Mud Elementals, the 16 hit die kind, thundered around the corner.

"Right now," Dan said.



The first mud elemental smashed down at Dan with its maul of a fist. Dan leapt to one side and avoided the blow -- which was fortunate, since he didn't have his armor or weapons. Jim the Thief instinctively reached for his +2 Dagger of Backstabbing, realized he'd lost all his weapons back in Slog's lair as did everyone else, dived through the second mud elemental's legs, and punched the mud elemental in the back.

"Let's see," said Jim the Thief, getting out some dice. "1d3 for a punch, +1 from my Strength ... goody, rolled a 3! That's 4, times 5 for a backstab, is 20. Hot damn!"

The mud elemental reeled forward, terrible cracks running from a fist-shaped crater in its back. He was stunned.

Bwaah! and Jughead Smith sat back and watched Pranathustra melee the third mud elemental to death.

Sick Kick, all this time, was just standing there, looking. Dan Justice was about to be pulped, and Sick Kick just stood there looking. The mud elemental raised its fist again; Dan dodged, but accidentally got his foot caught in a chink in a nearby clay-stone wall. Terrified, he looked back at the mud elemental as it raised both fists and readied to turn Dan Justice into a bloody pancake.

SUDDENLY, Sick Kick charged at the elemental, wailing his battle kiai. He leapt into the air, swung his foot like a madman, and kicked right onto the single weakest point on the first mud elemental's body. Instead of pulping Dan, the mud elemental screamed, exploded, and rained down into fifty identical pie tins.

Sick Kick brushed the muddy dirt from his hands. "How does it feel to be mud pies," he asked the former mud elemental.

Dan, meanwhile, had freed himself. "Good work, Sicky, I'm glad you were here!"

"HEY!" screamed Jim the Thief. "I've still got a live one here to contend with!" Pranathustra had disposed of her mud elemental, but there was still one left.

"Here I come!," said Sick Kick. He got to within three meters of the last remaining mud elemental, froze, and stared at it intently.

"Forget it," said Bwaah! the cleric. "It'll take half an hour for him to find its weakest point, the conceited bastard!"

Bwaah! reached down, picked up a pinch of sulfur that was conveniently lying at his feet, and started gesticulating. "FLAME STRIKE!" he finally yelled.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<FOOM>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

One segment later, the mud elemental was nothing more than hardbaked clay.



"Well," Dan said, "That was easy. Now, to get back into the castle."

"Right NOW?!?" Jim the Thief asked, dumbfounded. "With all of Slog's palace guards mobilized and the place on infrared alert?!"

"You bet!" replied Dan. "While everybody's outside searching for us, we go back IN and get the sword! Nobody's expecting us to be foolish enough to actually go back into the place!"

"Unless they're using double-reverse psychology," offered Jughead Smith, "And have figured that we've figured that they've figured that no one would be foolish enough to charge back into the place they'd just broken out of, and are ready for us to come back."

"We'll just have to take the chance," said Pranathustra. "After all, they may be using TRIPLE-reverse psychology and --"

"We get the message, Pran baby," Kraakan cut her off. "But Dan, how are we going to get into the palace with all of our equipment gone? No one but thieves and monks can climb walls."

"Well, I was figuring you could cast a telekinesis spell, and..."

"But how would I get up there?" Kraakan worried.

"Hmm... I could grab you, and pull you up with --"

"Naw, naw, that only works in Warner Brothers cartoons.... Hey, I've got a better idea! Anybody got any sesame seeds?"

Jim the Thief reached into his pocket and gave Kraakan the remains of his Last Meal.

"Perfect!" Kraakan coated them with mud, breathed on it hard and packed the mud as well as he could to make it clayish, and yelled, "OPEN SESAME!"

And a 10' x 10' section of castle wall disappeared in front of them.

"LETS GO!!!!!!!"



Message # 32 from SYSOP Date: 00/00/00 00:21:04

The party passed through the wall. On the other side, was a bedroom. There was a lovely bed in the room. There were fine decorations (paintings, sculptures, etc) in the room. There was a nice full length mirror in the room. And in the mirror, they saw someone bandaging his little toe.

Unfortunately, that "person" saw them as well.



Message # 33 from HAVOK Date: 08/29/85 04:30:07

"YOU ARE BEGINNING TO ANNOY ME," said Slog (for that was who the "person" was). "MY DESTROYERS WILL ANNIHILATE YOU!"

He snapped his fingers (off of which blew some muddy faerie dust), and in tromped a bunch of wet xorns and muddied water weirds all wearing badges labelled, "Destroyer."

"Ya-a-a-a-a-ah!" The Party screamed, their hair standing up on end. They made their way for the passed-wall, all tried to squeeze through at once, and slapped each other out of the way. Kraakan was the last to go; he looked back at Slog and said, "Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo -- nya-a-a-a-ah!," and then sloppily stumbled out through the hole in the wall.

'WHAT A BUNCH OF STOOGES!' Slog thought.



"Great!" yelped Dan Justice. "Slog's through the hole, the Mud Elemental cops are coming around the corner, and we can't get over the wall! What're we gonna do?"

Kraakan saw a spider climbing along the muddy ground. It was a Mud Elemental spider, but it would do. He picked it up and said, "Who says we can't get over the wall?"

Evrybody turned and looked. He took out a drop of bitumen he'd hidden in his robes, rubbed it on the spider, ate the mess, said something in Arabic, and started climbing the walls. He wasn't really climbing the walls, though, so much as Clinging to them.

"HEY!" everyone shouted. "HOW ARE *WE* SUPPOSED TO GET UP THERE?!?"

"Sorry, only memorized that spell once!" Kraakan gloated. He would get the sword himself. Who needed that stupid Party anyway? 'Just call me Peter Parker,' he thought.

Jim the Thief and Pranathustra made their climb walls rolls and followed up after him, but they couldn't climb as fast. Dan Justice, Bwaah!, Sick Kick, and Jughead Smith, now realizing they were deserted, turned to face the oncoming Mud Elemental cops, wet xorns, and mud weirds.

"We're dog food, aren't we?" asked Jughead Smith.

Bwaah! prayed and hoped he would roll that 00 for divine intervention.

Dan Justice was only a little worried. He still had his bare hands, didn't he?



Message # 36 from SYSOP Date: 08/39/85 01:11:20

However, Sick Kick, who had been silent all this time, had been silent for a reason: Whamm! The first muddy xorn was chopped in two by his all-powerful Kick. Bwaah! the cleric decided to do what clerics do best: Break things in half without drawing blood (after all, these are mud guys, not flesh and blood. They just bleed wet dirt). So, he activated his Body Weaponry and swung his fist as a mighty mace. . What wall? The falling debris proceeded to KO several Muddy weirds. "I'll take out these guys," yelled Sick Kick, "You just get going!"

The Party, cowards that they were, was quite glad to be able to leave the fray. As they left, they heard sicky say "I'll be right behind -- " before he was silent. Slog looked over the results. His castle had taken a minor amount of damage, and he was down a few guards. But that's what expendable fire power is for. "Why do those creeps want the sword so badly?" he asked himself....



Message # 38 from RACHAEL STOWE Date: 08/39/85 10:48:47

Okay, Sick Kick was holding off the wet xorns, mud weirds, and Mud Elemental cops while Jughead Smith, Bwaah!, and Dan Justice entered the castle through a second hole that Bwaah!'s bare fist just made.

*************
* MEANWHILE *
*************

Kraakan, Pranathustra, and lastly Jim the Thief reached the top of the castle. The roof was covered with gravel and looked completely bare save for an elevator.

"Wait a minute," observed Kraakan, "Elevator's haven't been invented yet!"

"Well," Jim the Thief interposed, "Whether they've been invented yet or not, the display on the top of it just lit up 'R'. We can expect some company real soo--"

Bvvvvvvvt -- the elevator door opened. Bwawawawahahagrrrunchuuuugh! -- a full complement of Mud Elemental guards climbed out. The air was rent with mindless grunts and a single voice shouting commands (like "Get 'em, get 'em!").

Kraakan quickly picked out the leader from the rest of them. As he expected, he was in the back. The leader looked oddly familiar for some reason....

Pranathustra made a flying leap and open-hand attacked the first mud elemental twice in one melee round. Next round, she would be able to attack three times. The mud elemental stiffened and collapsed, unconscious. Jim the thief backpunched and downed another. A mud elemental swung at Pranathustra and missed. Kraakan looked through his arsenal of spells, but almost all of them required material components -- or his kiln -- to work. This looked bad.

SUDDENLY, Kraakan realized why the mud elemental leader looked so familiar. It was the same captain-of-the-guard that had taken them to Slog when they'd first been captured. And encircling his left ring finger ... was Kraakan's own Ring of Mud Elemental Command!!



"Pranathustra!" Kraakan yelled. He cursed himself for not having taken a Message spell.

Pranathustra had just downed an 8-hit-die mud elemental guard. These wimps were supposed to be unhittable by anyone without a +2 or better weapon, but Pranathustra had never read that little subscript that says that characters can't use their levels to approximate magic weapons. "Yeah, whadayawant?"

"The captain of the guard! Look at his ring finger! That's my ring of Mud Elemental Command!!"

The female half-orc monk looked at the CotG's ring finger with monkish speed. "Gotcha," she said, and worked her way over in that direction.

Jim the Thief had swiped a broadsword from one of the 8 hit dice Mud Elementals when it wasn't looking. He was unfamiliar with this weapon, and thus suffered a -3 non-proficiency penalty, but he wasn't worried. With the extra damage he could do with a backstab, it was worth it.

The Captain of the Mud Elemental guard was shouting commands at his guys. "Tote that barge! Lift that bail! Kill that potter!" He was taking his Ring of Mud Elemental Command too lightly; the M.E.'s in his presence followed his word blindly. Pranathustra executed a Superleap and was practically on top of him before he knew what happened.

"HUH?" said the Captain. "Get back! Go away! Oh, that's right, you're not a Mud Elemental so this ring doesn't work on -- OOF!"

Pranathustra meleed him three times that round because last round she'd only gotten to attack twice. Each hit did 4-16 points of damage.

"OW!" the Mud Captain yelled. "Each of your hits just did 4-16 points of damage!"

So he was still alive. Pranathustra wished she were one level higher so she'd have Quivering Palm. The Mud Captain swung at her and missed; she struck him twice more and he was slain.

She took the ring off his finger and looked back at Kraakan. The potter was being forced back toward the edge of the castle roof by the relentless march of the mud elementals. "Here!" she shouted to him, "CATCH!"

Kraakan's expression snapped out of hopelessness into determination. He stuck his finger out, making it as easy a target as possible for the monk. Pranathustra took aim, threw the ring, and concentrated with her Monkish skills should it stray off the path.

The ring flew in a graceful arc and slid itself around Kraakan's ring finger.

Now he could get to work....



Kraakan walked relentlessly forward through the middle of the Mud Elementals. None of them could approach within 5 feet of him, although they spent a lot of time hammering at the imaginary 5' radius sphere around him. Without their leader, the Mud Elementals weren't quite sure what to do next.

Using this confusion for cover, Jim the Thief swiped a longsword from one of the 12-hit-die Mud Elementals. Not only did he have proficiency with longswords, but this particular longsword was +2, so he could actually affect these dudes.

With Pranathustra and Jim's help, Kraakan was able to eventually push all the mud elementals off the side of the castle, where they fell to the ground and merged with the mud there for the next few hours.

"Hey," said Sick Kick to himself, looking up. "It's raining!"

Dan Justice, Bwaah! the dwarven cleric, and Jughead Smith the token half-elven ranger made their way in through the second hole in the wall. The first room they entered was littered with soft leather armor, hardened leather armor, bows, arrows, quivers, swords, daggers, crossbows, and scenic picture postcards depicting various sights around the city of Clay More.

"What incredible luck!" Dan Justice shouted, hearing the rolling of dice. "We're in the tourist shoppe!"



Message # 43 from SYSOP Date: 09/16/85 09:02:14

Sure enough, there was a shopkeeper standing at the main door to the shop. Unfortunately, this shopkeeper cared about his store: "My shop! You wrecked my shop!" and started approching. Sick kick was staring at him as he approched (sound effects of the Six Million Dollar Man going ). He kicked. The shopkeeper survived. The shopkeeper hit. Sick kick died. --MORE-- Dan hit the shoppkeeper. He destroyed the shopkeeper. --MORE-- Welcome to level 10.

After rummaging around, they found 5 sticks, 3 rolled up parchments, a wired ring, and 2 flasks.



Message # 44 from THE GUY WHO THINKS THAT EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE AN ENERGY BLAST Date: 09/17/85 02:10:09

Oh, SHUT UP!!! (Bleeeah!) Now, honestly, how could ANYONE survive one of Sick Kick's kicks after he'd Found Weakness on them a few times?!?!? Besides, this is D&D -- and you can't gain levels until you've finished the Adventure!

**********
* Anyway *
**********

The three stood in silent eulogy over the super-hero's dead body. Sick Kick would never pass this way again.

"" sobbed Dan Justice, "What a swell guy."

"Yeah," agreed Jughead Smith, "What a swell."

"It's a bleeding shame I didn't take 'Raise Dead' with me this time," commented Bwaah!, holding his newly-acquired flail over his heart in homage.

Twelve seconds passed in silence.

"Well," said Dan, perking up; "Let's pick us up some magic items!"

Completely forgetting about Sick Kick, this half of The Party dove into the treasure pile.

"Hey, look Dan!" said Jughead. "I found some cuir boulli!"

Dan shook his head. "Leather armor's only A.C. 8."

"Yeah, but in Rolemaster this stuff'd be Armor Type 12, which is the second best armor type in the game.... Hey, what do you know? It's +15 full-hide plate of lightness!"

"That's nothing!" said Bwaah!. "I just found me a dwarven-sized suit of +15 A.T. 12 of TOUGHNESS!"

"Great!" cursed Dan Justice, throwing up his hands. "I NEVER get any of the good --"

A suit of Stainless Adamantite full-plate armor fell down from the ceiling in such a way that it exactly slid around his body. A +5 large shield (+25 for you Rolemaster fans) dropped down and locked itself to his left arm. And finally, a sentient vorpal bastard sword named Elmer found its place and dropped its hilt right into Dan Justice's right hand.

"-- magic . . . items. . . ."

Dan looked at the sword and scowled. "I don't want THIS wimpy piece of +3 vorpal junk! I want THE magic sword!..."



Message # 45 from SYSOP Date: 09/17/85 04:11:39

All of a sudden, the sword flung itself next to Dan's neck (with Dan's hand still on the hilt).

"What Did YOU CALL ME!" asked the sword.

" Um... that is, well, I didn't know you were intelligent, and, um..."

"Yes?" the sword said sinisterly.

"Well, I was hoping to get the Sword of Clay and, um --"

"THAT WIMPY PIECE OF **MUD**??!?!?!?" yelled the sword so loud that everyone could here it. "WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT WITH THAT JUNK WHEN You Can Have ME. Perhaps I'll Show You What I can do. After all, it isn't everyday that someone finds me, but someone always does."

"Well, ok, but, could you please . . ."

"Yes?"

". . . would you give me some breathing space?"

"GLADLY" it replied in a very sinister voice.

'Oh shit,' Dan thought. 'Here I am in the middle of nowhere with this assinine sword trying to control my actions.'

"And succeding" came the reply thought.

'Oh no. Telepathic too.'



Message # 46 from OMATIC Date: 09/19/85 05:02:10

The telepathic message being received wes coming from 10 samurai warriors who were attacking Dan. He asked the sword, "What shall I do??"

The answer came swiftly from the sword.



Message # 47 from LOL9 Date: 09/19/85 07:12:41

Quoth the sword: "SIR, NOT ONLY ARE THERE TEN SAMURAI WARRIORS APPROACHING, MY SENSORS INDICATE THERE ARE 15 CRUISE MISSLES HOMING IN ON US. SHALL WE EXIT STAGE LEFT?"

"Nay, thou outlandish tableware!"



Message # 51 from JEFF BOEING Date: 09/19/85 23:31:52

Unfortunately, Luther Trundle's incredibly pertinent message was posted on the wrong board. He figured that Elmer the sentient bastard sword, since he had speech and telepathy, had 17 INT and 17 ego, for a total personality score of 34, assuming it had no Special Purpose.

Now then, Dan Justice's personality score was his intelligence (3) plus his charisma (18/00) plus his level (12), or 33; ergo, Elmer would just beat him and be able to Dominate him. Maybe he should've given the sword to Jughead Smith the token half-elven ranger.

On with the show....



"Ten Samuri warriors, eh?" figured Elmer the sentient vorpal bastard sword. "No problem."

The sword almost seemed alive in Dan Justice's hands, urging him with its vibrant, lawful motions and Dan's own manipulated inner urges to hack the Samuri warriors to bits.

As the sword began its decapitation run, it thought, 'Too bad this guy is just below the level needed to get off two attacks per melee round. What are samuri warriors doing on the elemental plane of mud anyway? They must be mud elemental samuries. Samuris? Samurais? How do you spell that anyway? And why am I checking my spelling when I'm only thinking?'

"Eight," Bwaah! the cleric kept count.

"Nine," counted Jughead Smith. There was but one scale-mail-clad Jap left.

"Ten!" they shouted in unison as Dan cut the last one in half with the help of his Exceptional Strength.

"Now then," said Dan, "What's a cruise missile?"

"Oh, that," said the sword. "Well, I just wanted to say something to get your mind off that dumb Sword of Clay. There aren't actually any cruise missiles."

Dan looked hurt. "You lied."

"Aw, c'mon! I could beat that old muddy laen blade in a personality contest any day of the week!"

"Elmer," he said slowly and deliberately, "There is a half-elven ranger next to that wall over there that would love to have you in his company."

They turned to Jughead Smith. He was nodding excitedly.

"Oh, all right," Elmer acquiesced. "I was just hoping to manipulate the story's title character a bit."

"You forget," Dan said as he let Elmer fly to Jughead Smith's hand, "I'm only one of the two title characters."

"What?!" the sword perked. "Why, I could beat that old muddy laen blade in a personality contest --"

"ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. We know!"

"Now then, on to Slog's lair."

Meanwhile, the other half of The Party (Kraakan, Jim, and Pranathustra) were climbing into the elevator shaft after having ridded themselves of an entire brigade of mud elementals.

"Now then," Kraakan said, "On to Slog's lair!"



Message # 53 from SYSOP Date: 09/20/85 06:52:31

The parties were moving in on Slogs palace. The commander was heading down from above; the attack group was going in from below. Unfortunately, they were out of supply.

"Hey Dan, got anything to eat?" asked the token 1/2 elf.

"No. I wish that potter was here so he could summon some food."

"No, that's my job," said Bwaah! the cleric.

"Do you have any?"

"No, I need a kiln to bake it. Otherwise you'd get food poisoning."

Meanwhile:

"This is good stuff," Jim was telling Kraaken.

And in his lair, Slog was watching his T.V. screen. Mud elemental #1 was pounding #2 into the floor. But the manager of #2 rushed onto the stage and gave him some revival liquid, and he got up, and started a swing that would send #1 down to the mat. "We interrupt this mudcast of 'Mud Wrestlers' to bring you this special bulletin. Flash. This just in. Important. Do not change your channel. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. We control the horizontal. We control the vertical. So be prepared--"

With that, Slog changed the station to his monitors. There he saw The Party approching. "WHAT'S THIS?" he asked. "NO ONE LEFT BUT THE POTTER AND THE THIEF? OH, THEY STILL HAVE THAT MONK AS WELL. HMMM..."



Meanwhile, the original group was experimenting with the magic items they had found.

"Are you sure this is the right way?"

"Of course I'm sure. It says so on this map," he replied, indicating one of the scrolls he had picked up.

"Give me that. Aha! I thought so. You had the Map UPSIDE DOWN. If we follow this we'll--"

Just what they would have done is unknown as they bumped into a monk, thief, and potter who seemed to be concentrating on eating.




Message # 56 from MELLOWSPEAK Date: 09/21/85 10:01:57

(One meal later)

"My that was a hearty meal," said Jughead. "Anything I can wash it down with?"

Dan responded by tossing Jughead one of the potions he carried. Jughead lifted the stopper, sniffed the potion and shrugged. He quaffed it in one long gulp.

Jughead took a deep breath and sighed loudly. Then his eyes glazed over.

"Poison! I knew it!," screamed Bwaah! as he lumbered over to Jughead. But Jughead shook his head.

"No. Not poison. Magic. I sense magic nearby. Two magic swords, a suit of armor, 5 staves, a potion, 2 scrolls, 1 ring, and a kiln."



Message # 57 from JEFF BOEING Date: 09/21/85 10:19:17

"Hmmm," hmmmed Kraakan. "Two swords -- that'd be Jim the Thief's +2 longsword and this Elmer guy that Jughead Smith's been telling me about. The five unknown staves, two potions -- er, 1 potion -- and 2 scrolls are what you guys picked up, the ring's this one on my finger, and the shield and armor are what Dan's wearing. Uh, Jughead, where did you say that kiln was?"

"Right in there," said Jughead Smith the token half-elven ranger, and pointed his thumb at a door. A sign on the door read: "CLOSET!"

Kraakan opened the closet by turning the doorknob from the edges (thus avoiding the needle-and-contact-poison) and said, "Well, whadaya know! My kiln! And here's a label on it.... Hmmm.... 'Scheduled for disassembly.'" Kraakan cringed. "Yew, what a horrible fate.

"Hey!" Kraakan said, investigating the inside. "Something's clogging it up. . . . A suit of leather armor?"

Jim the Thief jumped up. "MY suit of leather armor!" He rushed to the kiln and hugged the leather passionately. "Oh, honey, honey, how I thought you were gone!!!"

"Never mind the sentimantics guys --"

"-- that's SEMANTICS, Dan!"

"Whatever. Jim, put on your armor. Kraakan, strap that kiln to your back. We've got a sword to find!"

"Oh yeah, that's right," Kraakan said. He turned a knob on his kiln and a dial lit up. "No problem. The built-in laen clay homing detector on my kiln'll lead us right to it!"

"ALL RIGHT, THEN!" Dan enthused. He loved taking charge. "ONWARD!!!"

As they followed the kiln's guiding beacon, Pranathustra thought, 'Claen detector. Gimme a break!'



"SO," rumbled Slog, peering into whatever device he used to spy on his palace, "THE WHOLE PARTY STILL LIVES. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. TWENTY-NINE CROSSBOW MEN AND THEY ALL MISS, AND ONE OF THEM EVEN HITS MY BIG TOE! SLARTIBARTFAST!"

"Yes, master?" said a grovelling 16-hit-die mud elemental sidling up to Slog's side.

"AM I NOT THE GREATEST?"

"Yes, master, you are by far not the greatest."

"WHAAAAT?!?"

"Oh, I mean, you ARE the greatest! Yes! Yes!" This was Slog's latest yes-man.

"AND HAVE I NOT THE CRAFTIEST MIND?"

"Oh, yes, Slog! The craftiest!"

"AND AREN'T I JUST THE HOOPIEST THING YOU EVER --"

"Slog!" blurted one of the scanner monitor personnel from the room's periphery.

"DON'T INTERRUPT! I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF AN EGO TRIP!"

"But Slog," he continued, "The Party is about to reach --"

"OBLIVION!" finished the mud god. "THEY'LL NEVER FIND THE SWORD OF CLAY -- NEVER! THAT POTTER CAN'T CAST A LOCATE OBJECT SPELL WITHOUT A LODESTONE!"

"But he's got his kiln, and it has a built-in magic clay detector!"

"WHY DON'T SOME PEOPLE *TELL* ME THESE THINGS?!? DISPATCH THE GUARD IN SECTOR 5647CDFAB-3.1415926535-2.7182818284590 --"

"SLOG!" the monitor winced. "In the time it took you to tell me the sector number, The Party has broken into the Secret Room, and they HAVE the Sword of Clay!"

"DRAT!" Slog cursed. "I SHOULD NEVER HAVE BUILT SUCH A BIG PALACE! I'LL HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS . . . MYSELF!!!"

--- MEANWHILE ---

"Yahoo," Dan Justice shouted. "I've got the Sword of Clay! I've got the Sword of Clay!" He swished the glasslike blade through the air like a crazy Groo.

"Will you be careful with that thing," Jim the Thief scolded. "You're gonna give us away!"

"Rrrgh," grunted Bwaah! the cleric, "I have a hunch they already know we're here."

"Yeah," Kraakan observed, "And that sword's not going to do much good. You remember how poorly it worked against mud elementals LAST time. It isn't very effective against its own substance."

"So what?" Dan mused. "All we have to do is get out of here now! We've got the object of our quest! Kraakan, prepare a six-person Plane Transport spell!"

"It'll take two turns to cast," Kraakan observed.

"Big deal! Just start waving your fingers and . . ."

. . . and The Party realized at that point that the room was spinning. Not literally spinning, you understand, just kind of getting wavy. The old room was fading out and a new one was taking its place. The materializing vision looked suspiciously like Slog's throne room. . . .



Message # 59 from MELLOWSPEAK Date: 09/22/85 10:07:52

Our stalwart adventurers found themselves in an enormous chamber. About 40 feet ahead of them Slog sat upon an enormous throne. Muddy emeralds decorated the throne and muddy banners adorned the wall behind the throne. Mud elementals, muddy water weirds, wet xorns, and muddy destroyers were filing into the throne room through the entrance directly behind the adventurers.

"This looks suspiciously like Slog's throne room," Jughead commented out loud.

Dan started shouting names, hoping to invoke the sword.

"Excalibur, Frank, Thing, Krios . . ." Nothing happened.

Slog remained seated on his throne, an oily smile on his face and the beginnings of a villainous threat on his lips. Kraakan, seeing his opportunity, aimed his kiln at Slog and prepared to blast him to fragments.

Slog ducked with surprising speed and then stood up. Then the mud horde reached our heroes and the battle was joined. Kraakan's attention left Slog as he saturation-fired on a group of mud elementals. Jim and Pranathustra fought side by side against a mixed group of mud elementals and wet xorns. Jughead was having a fun time decapitating mud elementals and muddy water weirds. Bwaah! was attempting to cut through the horde and help Dan. Dan was in big trouble.

"STAND BY," shouted Slog to his troops. Now what was Slog doing?

Dan was in big trouble. Dan was shadowed by the towering bulk of three muddy destroyers. And he still hadn't discovered the sword's name.

"Dan, have you discovered the sword's name?" Kraakan shouted over his shoulder as he fended off his enclosing foes.

"Negative!," Dan shouted. Then he gasped. The sword pulsed with power.

"CORRECT. NEGATIVE IS MY NAME. HERE IS ALL THE POWER I HAVE," replied the sword in a monotone.



Message # 60 from SYSOP Date: 09/22/85 11:45:58

The sword immediately unleashed a blue/red beam of light that struck one of the destroyers. "Ha. That didn't even get through my shield."

"Arrmm pphhhotoonn toorpeeedoees" replied the sword as a big star-pointed object flew out towards the same detroyer. When the smoke cleared, there was nought left but bones. White bone picked bare and clean.

But in the meanwhile, Dan and the sword were quickly mopping up the rest of the group. Well, most of them. Slog's body was not in the destroyed pile.

Elsewhere, a large mud elemental ruler was running away to the closet marked "Emergency weapons. Danger." where he wasn't heard saying, "DAN, HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THE PROVERB 'REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD'? OF COURSE YOU HAVEN'T."



Message # 61 from PLAGAL CADENCE MAN Date: 09/22/85 21:54:34

Slog entered the armory and began searching for a good (WHAT DO YOU MEAN GOOD FOR 60 DAYS?!?) counterweapon. Hand phaser? Naaah. Light Sabre! Un-uh, too corny. Sodium Bomb? Nope, not powerful enough.

'ALL THESE YEARS,' Slog thought, 'I'D FORGOTTEN THE SWORD'S NAME. HERE I GO AND FORGE IT WITH THE BEST POTTERS OF THE AGES, AND I FORGET IT'S NAME. I TRY "NEMESIS" AND "KRIOS" AND "MISTER SWORD" AND "YIKES" AND A WHOLE DICTIONARY FULL OF WORDS, BUT WHAT DO I FORGET TO DO? RECITE THE "N" WORDS! I GO STRAIGHT FROM MYOPIA TO OAR! I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN THAT NAME DOWN.'

No, Slog realized, there wasn't a single weapon in here that could approximate his power. He'd have to go this one alone.

'OH WELL,' he resolved. 'ARM PHOTON TORPEDOES, SHIELDS ON FULL, GO TO RED ALERT STATUS, AND HOPE THAT STUPID LUCKY SON-OF-A-FIGHTER DOESN'T FIND OUT THE SWORD'S *FINAL POWER*.'

He put on his helm of telepathy and his helm of brilliance, one outside the other, and marched back to the ensuing battle....



The Party was getting a little sorrowful. They were about to run out of opponents.

"This decapitation's getting boring," commented Jughead Smith the token Half-Elven ranger.

"Nonsense," replied Elmer the sentient +3 vorpal bastard sword. "Cutting peoples heads off is fun, Fun, FUN! Why, it's all that life's about!"

"Negative!" shouted Dan Justice the INT 3 fighter. Another wimpy (16 hit die) mud elemental fell to one of the sword's energy bolts. "Negative!" And another. "Negative!" And a wet xorn nobody'd bothered to hack up yet.

Kraakan was having a bake sale. His latest works of pottery were SOOOOO lifelike. Bwaah! was busy absolving some sinful Mud Wimps with his +2 flail. Jim the Thief was getting off backstab after backstab with his +2 longsword; he was real good at rolling dice. Pranathustra was doing the multiple-open-hand-attacks-per-melee-round bit, even though Mud Elementals required a +2 or better weapon to hit.

"Don't worry," Pranathustra replied to the narrator. "I've got 6+2 or more hit dice!"

SUDDENLY, the heavy clay door to the place cracked and split. Only the fury of Slog himself would make such an easily noticeable entrance. Horrible gashes appeared down the length of the door, and when finally a 1/2 meter hole appeared in the center and spread to its perimeter, The Party could see Slog wearing two stacked helms and carrying something in his right hand. Something small; something deadly.

"I WAS WRONG," Slog roared. "THERE *WAS* ONE WEAPON I FOUND IN THE ARMORY THAT I COULD USE!..."

"WHAT'S THAT?" everyone asked in unison.

Slog held out his hand. The tiny brass bauble gleamed in the mudlight. "A THUMBTACK!"



"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!" The Party shouted as their hair began to turn white. They knew the fury a thumbtack could deliver in the hands of a ruddy superpowered brick.

Fortunately, Pranathustra had control of her speedy reactions and knew exactly what to do. She did a half move and martial openhandattack. A craterlike wound appeared where she struck him.

"OW!" owed Slog. "HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO HIT ME WITHOUT A +2 OR BETTER WEAPON?"

"Easy!" she said. "I have 6+2 or more hit dice."

Slog almost boiled over with rage. He reached into a non-existent pocket, pulled out the DM's guide, and thrust the footnote on page 75 into her face. "THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO CHARACTERS OF ANY SORT!!!"

"Oh," she ohed.

The wound on Slog's stomach vanished as though it should never have been there in the first place. In retribute for all the Mud Elementals Pranathustra had killed before she read that footnote, Slog raised his tacky fist and threw a punch at her that went faster than light. (TACHYONS?!? Gimme a break!)

A huge and horrible gash appeared down her midsection. Blood and guts spilled out onto the hardbaked mud of the throne room's floor. Slog punched her with the thumbtack again (after switching hands, 'cause that's how the monster manual justifies 2 attacks per melee round), and practically cut her in half.

"PRANATHUSTRA!!" Jim the Thief shouted. His eyes were tearing up.

"AW," awed Slog, "I DIDN'T KNOW YOU CARED!"

"I DON'T," replied the thief; "She was the only female in The Party!"



Message # 65 from SYSOP Date: 09/26/85 16:10:56

"Dan, will you just sit there and let me die?" she gasped.



Message # 66 from DENSITY MAGE Date: 09/27/85 03:03:22

"Of course I will!" Dan enthused. "What do you think I am, a cleric?"

Pranathustra could feel her life ebbing away. "Just one last thing, Dan," she said. She was beginning to choke up. "That wound . . . I inflicted on Slog . . . is it . . . is it?"

"Still there?" Dan finished. He looked over at the Mud Elemental king. There was a big bruise in his tum-tum. "Don't worry, your wound will always live on in spirit."

'So this is it,' she figured. 'I'm going to die. Well, no sense staying a monk NOW. . . .'

She reached her hands into Dan's pants and pulled out his Rod of Lordly Might. She polished it like a piece of fine silverware and played on it like a flute. Her consciousness was going, but her sex drive was keeping her alive just a bit LONGer.

She took his manhood into her womanhood. Dan didn't mind. They started moving together, and increased their speed and intensity with mounting continuity. She started breathing audibly. Dan knew she was about to climax. And then, she died.

"Shucks," said Dan after completing his orgasm. "Three more seconds and she would've come. What a lousy way to go."

"ARE YOU TWO THROUGH YET?!" roared Slog.

"Hey, hold your horses, big man! I may be dumb, but that doesn't mean I'm not quick; I managed to fit that entire encounter into a single melee round."

"SO DOES THAT MEAN IT'S A NEW ROUND?"

"Yep," he said. He was grateful for the obscene length of time D&D allocated to a single exchange.

"GOOD," said Slog, and cast a Mudball spell.



Kraakan was completely unaffected by the mudball thanks to his Ring of Mud Elemental Command. However, everyone else in The Party took half damage (they're Player Characters! They ALWAYS make their saving throws!). And this was just enough to push Jim the Thief over the edge.

"Darn," said Bwaah!. "His backstabs coulda killed Slog, too; that is, if Slog let him get 'em off."



"HAR HAR HAR!" Slog gloated. "I HAVE MORE POWER THAN ALL OF YOU COMBINED! FEEL MY WRATH, pARTY! EVEN NEGATIVE, THE SWORD OF CLAY I ENGINEERED, CAN'T HELP YOU AGAINST ME!!!!!"

Kraakan started to approach Slog. He figured he could use his Ring of Mud Elemental Command's 5-foot radius of protection to crush Slog against a wall. "I'm going to use my Ring of Mud Elemental Command's five foot radius of protection to crush you against a wall, Slog!" he said.

When he got within four feet, though, he realized that his ring wasn't having any effect on the mud elemental king. An old Ginsu commercial came to mind: "This doesn't work with a deity."

"Uh oh," said Kraakan, and dove out of the path of Slog's thumbtacked fist. (This was a difficult maneuver to perform, since everyone knows you're easier to hit when you're not wearing 60 pounds of armor.)

Dan Justice needed help. Maybe the Sword of Clay had some as-yet-unrevealed Final Power that could defeat this guy. "Negative," he said to the sword, and an energy bolt came out and hit the ceiling. "No, No, NO, you stupid intelligence-17 hand-and-a-half sword!"

"Did somebody call my name?" offered Elmer the sentient +3 vorpal bastard sword.

Dan ignored the talking thing in Jughead Smith's hands. "Nega -- no, DON'T BLAST! I wanna ask you a question!"

Three little red lights appeared on the sword. They expanded and contracted exactly like K.I.T.T.'s voice thingey, except that Knight Rider hadn't been invented yet. "What did you want to ask, Dave?"

"Dave? Who's Dave?"

"I find humans stimulating and enjoy working with them. I am the NEGATIVE 9000 Heuristically programmed Algorithmic artifact sword. What did you want to ask, Dave?"

"Do you have a Final Power?"

Slog's muddy face contorted into astonishment. 'HOW COULD HE HAVE GUESSED?' he wondered. 'OH YES,' he recalled: '18/00 LUCK.'

"Why yes," the sword replied, "I DO have a Final Power."

"Well, could you invoke it? We're in kind of a scrape here, and . . ."

"I do not think that would be a wise move, Dave. The Final Power is quite dangerous."



But JUST as Dan was about to order Negative to invoke the Final Power Anyway, I Don't Care How Dangerous It Is, a 16 hit-die mud elemental everyone thought was dead got up and rushed toward The Party.

"Yeow!" yiped Bwaah! the cleric. "Kraakan didn't react to that guy in time; I'm going to have to try one of those unknown, untested staves on this guy!" He took out one of the five unknown staves, twisted the activator end, and threw it at the M.E.. The instant it got within 17-and-a-half centimeters of him, a TREMENDOUS EXPLOSION OCCURRED and the mud man was hard-baked into a clay statue in mid-stride.

"Well whadaya know," said Bwaah!, "A staff of self-destruction! I'll have to remember that." He took out a pad and wrote down: "Pine staff = self-destruction."

And as he finished, he looked up just in time to see...



...a vampire!

"Oh no," said Jughead Smith the token half-elven ranger. He took out his light sabre and hacked it to bits.

"Who are you calling a light sabre?!?" protested Elmer the sentient +3 vorpal bastard sword. Vorpal weapons, as you know, shed no light.



"Negative," Dan instructed, "I don't care HOW dangerous the Final Power is, invoke it! NOW!"

"NO" boomed Slog. "I WON'T LET YOU DO THIS! I CAN'T BE DESTROYED, NOT AFTER RULING FOR ALL THESE EONS!"

'That's the trouble with those monarchs,' thought Kraakan. 'Get elected for more than one term and they think they own the world.'

"I CALL UPON THE POWER OF LAIR SLOG! I CALL UPON THE POWER OF THE CITY OF CLAY MORE ITSELF! RISE UP, O MUD AT OUR FEET, RISE UP AND CRUSH THEM NOW AND FOREVER!"

The floor started buckling and the walls started convoluting on their own.

"Wow," said Dan, "Is your Final Power anything as good as that?"

"Worse, I'm afraid, Dave."

"GREAT! Then invoke it now!"

The sword of clay shrugged.

The Party shielded their eyes.

And Negative invoked its Final Power.



Imagine yourself falling off a fifty story building. Now imagine yourself falling off a fifty story building in a gravitational field ten times as strong as our own. Now imagine yourself falling off a fifty story building in a gravitational field ten times as strong as our own IN SLOW MOTION.

Well, that is completely unlike what The Party experienced at the point the Sword of Clay invoked its Final Power.

They were falling UP to the top of Slog's rapidly metamorphosizing palace in a gravitational field a tenth as strong as our own in super speeded-up motion. Of course, Slog's palace was never nearly 50 stories high, so the sword made up the difference by tossing Slog the extra distance into the air.

Then the next turn's Spell Phase came along.

As the landscape of Clay More dwindled to a plane, and as Slog completed his maddening trajectory through the air, the sword leapt from Dan Justice's hands and shot straight up to the zenith. There, it hung menacingly in front of Slog's face. The King of the Mud Elementals was quite frightened. And then, as though it were gathering matter from a hundred places at once, the sword began to grow.

It grew until it was as tall as Slog. It grew 'til it was as tall as Slog's palace had been. It grew to the height of the tallest mud tree in the Elemental Plane of Mud. Slog was getting more terrified by the second. It grew until it was the height of the tallest mountain or the depth of the depest canyon, and STILL it CONTINUED to grow!

It grew so high that none could see its top. Holding the crux between its hilt and its grip level with the falling Slog, it grew so vast that none could see either end of the hilt. In the heart of the monstrously-still-growing hilt-crux, a ghostly, menacing mouth emerged. It opened its gaping maw. Slog figured he was about to be eaten. The mouth closed, filled up with an overpressure of air, and as the sword reached its maximum size, the mouth boomed: "BOO!"

And Slog died of fright.

As the now-normal-sized Negative returned to Dan Justice's grasp, he knew that the ruler of the elemental plane of mud had been slain -- Permanently -- and that he'd get ten times the x.p. value because of that.

"There, ya see?" said Dan, the landscape finally calming down, "No problem."

Kraakan scanned the horizon. There was not a moving soul or a jutting structure to be seen. Evidently in invoking the Mud Elemental plane's capital city, Slog had caused all the mud elementals, mud weirds, and wet xorns to be absorbed.

Only three humanoid forms lay prone on the ground. One was Sick Kick, another was Pranathustra, and the third was Jim the Thief.

"Don't worry guys," said Bwaah! the cleric, picking up the bodies, "A few Raise Dead spells back home and they'll be just as good as new."

"Less one point of constitution," corrected Kraakan.

Ranger Smith asked, "Are you sure you want to revivify Jim the Thief?"

"Why not?" replied the cleric. "I'm sure he'd donate a percentage of his gain to my church afterward -- whether voluntarily or not."

"Hey," Dan wondered, "Where'd Slog --"

>>>>PLOP<<<<

"-- go. Uh ... what spell are you casting, Kraakan?"

"Hmmph. I thought for sure you'd recognize it. Tenser's Floating Disc! How else do you expect to carry Slog's head home on a silver platter?"

"And speaking of home," Bwaah! the cleric said, waving his holy symbol around in funny patterns, "One extradimensional gate, comming [sic] up!"

Back in the prime material plane, a fanfare orchestra had been waiting for the downbeat for several days. They were at the exact spot Bwaah! had designated as The Party's point of return. SUDDENLY, there was a TREMENDOUS EXPLOSION, and light poured out of nowhere, and there was thunder and lightning, and a terrible earthquake, and the price of cheese jumped to ten dollars a pound, and then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes, and through it all stepped Bwaah! the cleric holding three dead bodies, Kraakan the potter wearing his kiln on his back and his ring of mud elemental command on his left hand, Jughead Smith the token half-elven ranger wielding Elmer the sentient +3 vorpal bastard sword, and finally Dan Justice himself, holding Negative in his right hand and a silvery floating disc with Slog's head on it in the other.

"YAAAAAAY!" said the suddenly-appearing crowd.

"TA-DAAAAAH!" played the orchestra.

The members of the party all nodded at each other. They each knew what the other was about to say...:

"HOW MANY EXPERIENCE POINTS DO WE GET?!?"







Editor's notes from 2015:


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