Chapter #8

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THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 2nd level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 1st/1st level high elf fighter/mage (CN)
Ged, 2nd/1st level grey elf priest/mage (NG)
Halbarad, 2nd level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 2nd level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 3rd level human thief (N)
Peyote, 1st/1st level half-elf fighter/druid (N)
Rob, 2nd level human priest (LG)
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                      VIII.  R & T (Rest & Training)



  Dawn rose, and on the side of a hill on the southwestern border of
Celene, the party of eight prepared to return to their temporary home,
the city of Courwood.  They ate a cold breakfast of iron rations and
water, and then broke camp.  Several days before, when they had
emerged from the dwarven mine via a hidden exit, they had scouted
the area until they found the mine entrance.  Initially, their horses
had been tethered in a nearby camp, but the mounts were no longer
there.  The traitorous human called Belgar, they surmised, had taken
the animals when he fled.  After all, good mounts commanded hefty
sums of gold in this day and age; eight alone would have set Belgar
up for a year, even if he had not stolen the party's ingots of gold
and collapsed the mineshaft, blocking the entrance to the place.  It
had been a stroke of luck that they found another way out at all.
  They began the long walk home.  Courwood was to the north and east,
about twenty-five leagues.  On horseback, that meant a long day's ride
to get back; on foot, the march would take about four days, if the
party moved all day long.  They traveled through hilly terrain for the
most part, but no hostile creatures bothered them, and after the first
two days, they began to see the familiar dwarven and halfling patrols
moving through the lands.  When they finally dragged into Courwood, it
had been four and a half days since they departed from the mine.
  The weary group found the tavern they had stayed in a week before -
it sure didn't seem like only a week - and purchased several double
rooms for a month's time.  Without even a bath or a meal, the party,
to a man, went to their rooms, locked the doors, and crashed into a
long and restful sleep.

  Late in the afternoon of the following day, the various adventurers
began the task of training, in whatever way was appropriate, and in
their spare time, they searched for clues as to Belgar's whereabouts.
At the moment, they had split up to pursue their various needs...

Belphanior:  (outside the Guild of Warriors with Mongo)  Hmm.  This
  looks like the place.
Mongo:  Shit yeah!  We should have enough gold now to get some good
  training.  (they enter the large hall)
Clerk:  (an aging swordsman himself)  What can I do for you lads?
Belphanior:  We seek several weeks of training with your finest
  weapon masters.
Clerk:  I see.  Hm.  Can you pay?
Belphanior:  What is the fee?
Clerk:  Depends on how good you are.  Should be about a hundred or
  so a week.  Gold.
Mongo:  Gak!  That's ridiculous!  You guys must make a killing!
Belphanior:  When can we start?
Clerk:  Now.  Times are tough, and business has been bad.  If you
  want to join the guild, you get a ten percent discount, and also
  may come in here at your leisure to socialize.  We also have our
  meetings once a week, where new weapon techniques are displayed
  and you can discuss matters of combat with other fine warriors.
Mongo:  Sure.  We'll take it all.  (they pay and sign the roster,
  and are then led back to the fighting arenas.)

  Training begins that same day for the pair.  Belphanior attends the
lessons for a full two weeks, but Mongo's peculiar fighting style
keeps him for a week longer.  Though Belphanior is a more refined
swordsman, Mongo is much more powerful and determined to learn.
  When Belphanior makes his way to the Tower of Wizardry, the main
source for all magical training and equipment in the city, he finds
Ged already there.  They pass each other at the doorway into the
tall tower.

Ged:  Ho there.  What brings you here?
Belphanior:  The same lure as you, I would guess.  How goes the lore
  and arcana and all that mess?
Ged:  Well.  I have chosen the spell of feather falling, and in no
  time at all have mastered its use utterly.  What of yourself?
Belphanior:  Well at least we can use MY new spell.  I think I will
  try to learn the shocking grasp.
Ged:  Hm.  A wise choice.  Perhaps you will some day use it on the
  thief, Peldor.
Belphanior:  Perhaps.

  Unbeknownst to the pair, the drow, Alindyar, is secluded in one
of the private chambers, high above their heads.  He was charged
a higher fee for magic lessons, though not just because of his
race.  The drow elf has been here for almost three weeks.

Hooded Mage:  That's it.  Concentrate on the target area.
Alindyar:  I think I can see it forming now.  (suddenly, many sticky
  of webbing sprout forth and cover a large open chamber nearby)
Hooded Mage:  Superb!  Truly, you are one of the fastest-learning
  students I have ever taught.
Alindyar:  (somewhat bitterly)  Yes, after I passed your group's
  magical tests for evil intentions.
Hooded Mage:  Sigh.  Let me tell you something, boy.  I have seen a
  great many things in this world, bigotry among them.  Wherever you
  may tread, it will always be the same.  Your actions will have to
  prove you worthy of your thoughts.  Those who are willing to wait
  and judge you by your deeds and words, rather than your skin -
  _those_ are the ones who you will find friendship with, in most
  cases.  Do not let the world's hatred of drow stop you from doing
  whatever you think is right.  The companions you come to trust and
  hold dear in years to come, the innocents saved by your spells and
  deeds -  those are the fruits of your patience.  Do not be deterred
  from them by others who are not worth your time.
Alindyar:  There is wisdom in what you say.
Hooded Mage:  I would never have agreed to teach you if I thought you
  evil or unworthy.  Alindyar, you are truly an exception among your
  kind.  Be cautious, but also try to do what your heart tells you is
  right.  You will not be sorry, many years from now.
Alindyar:  Hmm.  I will remember your words well.


  Elsewhere in the city, the rogue Peldor is hard at work in the very
depths of the thieves' guild.  He has been practicing and training
since the day after the party's return.  Like the others, Peldor had
to purchase a guild membership to train, though for a different reason
that they did.  Thieves' guilds did not take a bright view on random
thieves who operated nearby without guild sanctioning.  Such thieves
often disappeared from the area permanently...

Peldor:  (scaling a high rock wall rapidly)
Master thief:  (watches with admiration)  Now come down!  Just as fast!
Peldor:  (climbing down, more carefully, he makes it to the floor)  No
  problem for Peldor!
Master thief:  Don't get cocky, boy.  That will be your doom someday.
Peldor:  Doom?
Master thief:  We have taught you all we can at this point.  You must
  go out into the world and practice these things - the climbing of
  others' walls, the opening of their locks, moving about places in
  utter silence, blending with the shadows.  These are the fruits of
  our labors here!  (holds up a fistful of gems)
Peldor:  Hey, that reminds me.  I have a few things that I need to buy
  while I'm here.  Things that I can only find in these halls.
Master thief:  Very well.  Let us go to the equipment shop.


Still elsewhere...

High priest:  My son, I have heard your tales, and I think that you
  would do well to choose better companionship.
Rob:  But Father, they are my friends!  I have learned many lessons of
  the world from them.  Perhaps some of them have not seen the light,
  but their actions are good at heart.
High priest:  Well...you are of solid faith.  Perhaps there is hope
  yet for them all.
Rob:  I will try still harder to convert them all.  Failing that, I
  can still go to work on the masses.
High priest:  I wish you the best of luck, my son.  (blesses the young
  priest)


And still elsewhere:

Druid:  Remember well the lessons of Obad-Hai, young one.  The forests
  and the animals in them are your very lifeline, and you must watch
  over them with utmost care.  (a bird lands on his shoulder and begins
  to sing)
Peyote:  Yes, High dude...err, One...I am most ready for this wondrous
  task.  I can feel the power inside me, and I will use it well.
Druid:  That is all that is asked of us.
Peyote:  Yes.  Well, I'll be on my merry way now!  Thank you for your
  most excellent lessons, High One.
Druid:  You are most welcome.  Oh, and by the way...?
Peyote:  Eh?  Yes?
Druid:  Take a bath.


  Halbarad trained by both attending combat lessons (he chose a better
school than the other warrior-types) and praying at the temple of
Elhonna (sp?  I'll have to check), goddess of the forests et al.  He
gained much, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and was perhaps
the most content of the party at this point.  He also searched around
town for clues as to Belgar's whereabouts, finding only that the rogue
had fled many days before, supposedly heading southeast, along the
narrow strip of land between the Suss forest and the mountains.
  The party reconvenes, nearly a month after they split up, in the
now-familiar Screaming Griffon tavern.  The general consensus is that
Belgar must be found and made to pay for his actions.  They discuss
it over a fine dinner of roasted lamb, vegetables, steaming loaves of
bread, and wine (Alindyar, Ged), ale (Mongo, Halbarad, Belphanior),
beer (Peldor), apple juice (Peyote), or milk (Rob).

Alindyar:  I think, at the very least, that we should regain our gold
  and horses.  A little violence may be necessary, though.
Halbarad:  I am confident that I can track him down, but the trail is
  growing colder every day...
Peldor:  Death!  Death by backstabbing!
Peyote:  We could let Mongo cook him.
Mongo:  I want to saute him, maybe make him into Bel-cakes.
Belphanior:  Bel-cakes?...Any way you slice it, he's dead meat.
Rob:  Belgar?
nearby drinker:  Who the fuck is Belgar?
Belphanior:  None of your business.
Ged:  If we find him, I'll bless him.
Alindyar:  He will certainly need it.
Halbarad:  Shall we leave on the morrow then?
All:  Yea...

  And so, the pursuit of Belgar began.  Well, actually, it began the
next morning, as the party packed up their belongings and looked, for
the last time probably, upon the city of Courwood.


Next time:  fun in the wilderness, part 2; the haunted castle.

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NOTES:  The area the party has been adventuring in can be found
in the World of Greyhawk maps.  Celene is on the western map of
the Oerik continent; Courwood is a city in the southwestern
reaches of Celene, right next to a river (I don't have my maps
with me).  A mountain range looms to the west and south, and the
Suss Forest is somewhat east.  There is a narrow (maybe twenty
miles wide) plains area to the southeast, between the mountains
and forest, like a tunnel through the hostile terrain.  This is
the way the party is headed.
  Next time I will try to provide exact hexes, maybe.
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