previous chapter (#1104)
next chapter (#1106)
+ THE ADVENTURERS +
+ Epic VI +
+ Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other +
+ terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast +
+ which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use. Any such +
+ property contained within these stories are not representative of +
+ Wizards of the Coast in any fashion. +
+ The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright +
+ 1991-2022 by Thomas A. Miller. Any resemblance to any persons +
+ or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental. +
+ Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under +
+ the sole condition that no money is made in the process. In that +
+ case, I hope you enjoy them! +
+ Belphanior 18th/18th/18th level elven fighter/wizard/thief +
+ Hope 16th level female human wizard +
+ Poulos 8th level human warrior +
+ Irina 14th/7th level female human priestess/warrior +
+ Otto 12th/14th level dwarven fighter/thief +
+ Paige 13th level human female warrior +
+ Razor Charlie 12th level human fighter +
+ Skektek 14th level human wizard +
+ Ys 14th level reptilian fighter +
+ ALLIES +
+ Kronos ancient lich wizard +
+ Pallin 18th level grey elven wizard of Celestian, teleporter +
+ Parekh 18th level female human wizard, innovator +
+ Drak 15th level human barbarian warrior +
+ Date: 4/14/586 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: morning +
+ Place: Parekh's home (exact location unknown) +
+ Climate: cool and pleasant +
+ "Lesson one...always have a contingency plan." +
+ - Sturgess, from _Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter_ +
MCV. Proper Prior Planning
In a strange and wondrous magical chamber deep within Parekh's home,
the preparations to open a gateway to a distant demiplane have begun...
Pallin: (facing the immense tapestry-like frame on the far wall of the
chamber, its interior now resembling the sky on a starry night after
Parekh activated the item's power)
The elven archmage was one of the world's foremost experts on matters
of magical travel, and the destination had already been imparted to him
by Kronos. He chanted words of power while tracing invisible patterns
with his slender fingers...and presently, a small section of the field
of stars shifted and changed into a clear area, beyond which they could
see a small dark chamber.
Skektek: What's that?
Parekh: The one-way window is now a two-way portal.
Skektek: (having known that, and having really been asking what they
were looking at, and knowing that Parekh knows this, he shakes his head
Drak: (holds his giant mallet ready, silently vigilant, in case someone
or something comes through the portal and battle is required)
Hope: As other planes go...that one's pretty puny.
Parekh: (snaps her fingers, and a thin beam of light appears, shining
from her hand toward and into the space beyond the portal)
Otto: Hey, that looks like...
Belphanior: (scrutinizing the place on the other side of the dimensional
pathway with his magical eye) I see them - all three of them! But it
looks like they're not moving. We need to- (he turns to Pallin) Can
I walk through there?
Pallin: Of course.
Without hesitation, the elf stepped into the gateway between planes,
and appeared within the dark area that the others were viewing. Right
away, he noticed that the air here was stale, and the temperature cold.
The chamber - if it could even be called that, for it was barely ten feet
long and five wide - resembled a tiny cave or fissure of some sort. Its
floor, walls, and ceiling appeared to be smooth but uneven black stone.
Nestled within this small space were Neera, Arusha, and Judhon - but all
three of the companions were still and unmoving, as if they had been
paralyzed in place where they stood. Stood...or ran, for all three were
frozen in stances suggesting they had been running.
Belphanior: That's strange.
On the floor (or ground, or whatever it was) next to them were several
items: a small iron chest, a haversack, a backpack, and four bags of
different sizes. Some of these things looked vaguely familiar, but his
primary focus at the moment was Neera.
Belphanior: (tentatively taps her still form on the shoulder, with no
reaction or result) Hmm. (he carefully takes hold of her and picks
her up, although she remains rigid and unmoving)
Another, much larger form then entered the area, momentarily surprising
the elf until he saw who it was.
Ys: Allow me to assist. (he gently picks up Arusha and Judhon, one under
each arm, and heads back to the shimmering gateway between this place
and their home world)
Otto: (also appears) I'll get those other things.
With that, they quickly cleared everything out of the small cavern-like
area, and returned to the larger room where the others waited.
Skektek: They're back! But what's wrong with them?
Razor Charlie: (grimaces)
Irina: (moves to examine the trio of rediscovered companions) We'll find
out soon enough.
Parekh: And in the meantime, I'd suggest we close the portal.
Pallin: I'm already doing that.
Belphanior: (having given Neera over to Irina, he turns back to the
shimmering gateway and the small area beyond) Is it just me, or is the
Pallin: It is. (he shuts down his portal, and the interior of the giant
picture-like object becomes dull gray once more) We were likely not in
danger, but there seemed no need to take a risk.
Kronos: (having watched the demiplane close in on itself just before the
planar gateway was closed, he ponders this) Hmm.
Hope: (to Belphanior) See that chest they had with them, the one Otto
Belphanior: (nods) What of it?
Hope: It's from the vault. It used to be mine, before I contributed it
to the larger armory. I'd bet those sacks are also from our stash.
The elf was about to reply when Irina interjected suddenly, getting
Irina: How can this be?
Parekh: What is it?
Irina: They're alive and well, but affected by some kind of paralysis.
Except they're not breathing.
Kronos: I believe they are in magical stasis, in which they have no need
of air...or sustenance, for that matter. There are spells to restore
victims of such conditions. (he turns to Belphanior) Shall I-
Parekh: I'll handle it. I have experience with this sort of magic.
Despite being confident - she was, after all, an archmage of surpassing
power - Parekh was careful and deliberate with her spellcasting now. She
cared a great deal for Neera, who had been her ward for many years before
joining Belphanior; there was no room for mistakes. A few tense moments
later, as the magic took effect...Neera twitched, then blinked...and then
Neera: Aie! (she collapses, but Belphanior is there to hold her)
Belphanior: It's okay. You're safe now.
Neera: What? (she looks around wildly) Then...then it worked.
Parekh: (quietly) I'll do the same for the other two.
Belphanior: (nods to her) Thank you.
In short order, all three of their companions were breathing and talking
normally, and the entire group moved out of the planar gateway chamber and
into another that had enough seating for everyone. Thusly situated, the
reunited group (and the other wizards present) was able to have an actual
conversation...one that was long overdue and would answer some questions
and solve some mysteries.
Neera: ...it was almost a year after all of you left and didn't return.
I spent half a year trying to figure out where you were, and how to
contact you...but eventually gave up and turned to other pursuits.
(she sighs) One of which was continuing to inventory and study the
treasures in the vault.
Belphanior: Long story, and irrelevant now. I'll explain another time.
Neera: (ignoring the banter) But then the world erupted into war, and
that was worth keeping an eye on. (she shakes her head) I can hardly
believe that almost five years passed while you were away...meaning we
were frozen in that demiplane for basically four years.
Arusha: (blinks, still having trouble coming to grips with this)
Judhon: You have to understand...for us, it was just a very short time
ago...all that happened in the vault.
Belphanior: I'm sorry. Our destination, the Center of Time...its very
nature meant that much less time passed for us there, compared to back
here. (he glances at Kronos) Which was certainly a most unfortunate
side effect of that little jaunt.
Kronos: (evenly) Although we did rid the world of the Crimson Blades,
not to mention preventing them from potentially altering history.
Belphanior: There is that.
Neera: Anyhow, the war had barely started when someone appeared outside
of the vault. Appeared...and began working their way through its many
Belphanior: How can that be? I thought the dragon's warding magic was
Neera: It may have been, but remember that the vault was damaged, early
on. I can't say exactly what went wrong, but I'd venture that somehow,
the defenses were breached...maybe just barely, but with a magical
hoard of that size and power, even a tiny crack in the wards could make
the place detectable to those with enough ability. And someone did,
and then showed up to plunder it. (she frowns) At least, that's my
Belphanior: (thinking back to when they first tried to remove treasure
from the underground complex, and caused it to nearly collapse upon
itself, he wonders if there was resulting damage that went unnoticed
and unrepaired) Damn.
Neera: The good news was that we knew someone was out there right away,
and it took them a while to get in and make their way down to the vault
itself. By the time they did, we were gone.
Belphanior: Gone? How?
Neera: With the defenses cracked and eventually broken, we were faced
with a simple choice, and one we had to make quickly...fight or flee.
I figured that anyone powerful enough to find the vault, and then break
through its defenses, would almost certainly defeat the three of us in
battle. (she lowers her head sadly) I'm sorry.
Belphanior: Nonsense. It was the right decision.
Neera: Once we realized we had to leave, teleporting out of the vault was
easy, since the barriers were already weakened, and being broken down
further with each passing moment. The real challenge was finding a
safe destination, one where we wouldn't - couldn't - be tracked by the
intruders. Again, someone powerful enough to get as far as they did
likely had the means to pursue us. So fleeing elsewhere on Oerth was
out of the question. Fortunately, I'd come across multiple spells and
lore during all my time studying the library's contents. Unfortunately,
there had been no opportunity to test any of that new and potent planar
magic. (she shrugs) Long story short, I transported us to a new and
unique pocket plane that I created as part of the spellcasting.
Pallin: Yet the three of you were in some sort of stasis after that trip.
Neera: And I have no idea why. An incomplete spell formula? An error
in the casting? Some quirk of the planar travel? We may never know.
Belphanior: That main thing is that you're safe. (his jaw tightens)
Which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for whoever plundered the
vault, when we find them.
Neera: So...I'm guessing the vault is now empty?
Belphanior: (clenches one fist) Completely cleaned out...a total loss.
Neera: (shakes her head) Not total. (she gestures to the small iron
chest, the two backpacks, and the four bags that lie to one side, where
Ys piled them when he carried them into this chamber)
Belphanior: (feeling a glimmer of hope) Explain.
Neera: Long before the intruders came, I'd been thinking about the best
contingency plan in case something like that ever happened. I checked
the capacity of all the magical containers we had - the bags of holding
and the backpack and haversack, the small chest, and most of all the
portable hole. Any items of significance that we weren't using were
packed away in one of those, in case we ever had to leave in a hurry.
The things we _were_ using were kept close at hand so that we could
take them quickly if needed. (she thinks back to their hasty flight
from the vault, which to her was only a few minutes ago, and shakes her
head yet again) Amazing.
Skektek: So let me get this right...you're saying that our best magical
items from the vault are in those sacks and packs over there?
Neera: Correct, along with the more useful and interesting tomes and-
Skektek: (pumps his fist in the air) Yes!
Belphanior: (smiles thinly, looking Neera in the eye) Gods bless you.
(he nods to Arusha and Judhon as well) Thanks to you three, we may yet
have salvaged something from this fiasco.
next: a reunion of sorts
notes: This was the necessary catching-up-and-synchronizing episode,
whose real purpose was to tie past events to the present time, and get
everyone reunited and on the same page, so to speak. With that done,
it's now time to proceed with the next steps: taking revenge on those
who attacked the vault, reclaiming the lost treasures, checking in on
other ex-Adventurers and their fates after the wars, and finding a new
base of operations (or repairing the vault, although if my house got
targeted and robbed, I wouldn't want to live there anymore).
Hmm...five episodes in one month, because there were five Fridays
that month. It's a coincidence that I chose this particular month to
start releasing new stories, but it's still somehow cool.
By the way, I realize that I've used the terms "world", "dimension",
and "plane" fairly interchangeably in recent episodes. It can't be
helped. Worrying about this quickly became tedious, so I just stopped.
previous chapter (#1104)
next chapter (#1106)