Chapter #1108

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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        +
+                                                                         +
+   Kronos         ancient lich wizard                                    +
+   Date:          4/16/586 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          midday                                                 +
+   Place:         the Black Crown, within the Corusk Mountains           +
+   Climate:       extremely cold                                         +
+   "It's not what you's who you did it to."                     +
+                  - Viggo Tasarov, from _John Wick_                      +

                   MCVIII.  Finding the Trail

  While the rest of his companions are going about their business in the
Free City of Greyhawk, Belphanior has pursued another course of action.

Kronos:  Only two days have passed...I did not expect you to be back so
Belphanior:  To tell the truth, I kind of did.

  They sat in a chamber within the lich's remote mountain fortress, where
the elf had ventured after reaching out to the other via powerful magic.
Belphanior knew that the fire that burned in the room's stone hearth was
for his comfort only, but he felt that Kronos owed him a lot more than a
warm room...and he was ready to press that point.

Belphanior:  I need another favor...but first, I have something for you.
Kronos:  Eh?
Belphanior:  When we first discussed the dragon Mesoloth, before I sought
  out and destroyed the wyrm-
Kronos:  A great loss to all wizardry, that.  A mind like his was unique
  in a world teeming with the unique.
Belphanior:  Be that as it may, the dragon betrayed and attacked me after
  we'd come to an agreement.
Kronos:  Point.
Belphanior:  You had mentioned that the dragon might have something of
  yours in its hoard, and you also specified what it was and exactly what
  it looked like, just in case.  As things turned out, that singular item
  was indeed there; as thanks for your assistance guiding us to the wyrm,
  I've brought this item back to you.  (he reaches into a pocket of his
  tunic, and hands over a tiny metal vial)
Kronos:  (takes the item)  Ah, yes.  The Droplets of Eternal Sleep.
Belphanior:  I doubt it's difficult to guess what powers they hold.
Kronos:  A single drop from this vial will induce years of deep, peaceful
  slumber from which the user will not awaken until it is time.  (he sighs
  to himself)  It is...good to reclaim this.
Belphanior:  I guess so.  Honestly, I was surprised that you were after
  something like it.  I figured it would be a powerful magical weapon,
  or a long-lost tome, or something like that.
Kronos:  Not all prized treasures are made for battle.  I doubt you would
  understand, but the contents of this vial can greatly ease my condition,
  and my pain.
Belphanior:  (frowns)  I don't understand.  But I'm not asking, either-
Kronos:  (continues, as if not hearing the elf's words)  When one's flesh
  is meant to constantly die and decay, and one accepts it, things are as
  they should be.  But when one must constantly work to slow and reverse
  that process...there is pain.  (he glares at the elf)  Agony such as
  you have never even dreamed of.
Belphanior:  Uh...right.  Well, I'm quite pleased that I was able to bring
  the item to you.
Kronos:  And you have my sincere thanks.  (he pauses)  You mentioned some
  sort of request?
Belphanior:  (nods)
Kronos:  If you seek to once again command the skyship, be aware that I
  have not spent much time repairing that item.  Given that you possess
  the Eye of Celestian, you really have no need of the skyship anyway.
Belphanior:  True.  But that's not what I want.  (he frowns)  As you well
  know, I lost a great deal of treasure when an unknown person or persons
  raided the dragon's underground vault, which I was using as a temporary
  base of operations.  While some of my things were saved, thanks to the
  preparation and quick thinking of Neera...most of them are currently
  lost, in the possession of whoever assaulted the vault.  I don't know
  who it was...not yet.  (he stares at the lich evenly)
Kronos:  I see.  (he returns the elf's steely gaze, his red eyes giving
  away nothing)  If you think to use the Loom of Ages to peer into the
  past, think again...I have not yet begun to examine it, or consider how
  to repair its damage.
Belphanior:  I figured that, but I thought of another way.  Among the lost
  treasure hoard were several unique items, about which I have detailed
  memories.  I am assuming that the same spell you used to impart specific
  knowledge of a location...can be used to allow me to impart similarly
  specific knowledge of an item to you.
Kronos:  Hmm.  Yes, that should work.
Belphanior:  So you share that spell with me, then I'll use it to give you
  what you need to locate my lost magical item...and with it, presumably,
  all the other magical items, as well as those responsible for plundering
  them years ago, while we were away.
Kronos:  Locate them, using...?
Belphanior:  The Throne of the Gods.

  The elf knew this was a major ask, but he had thought this through, and
it seemed certain the lich could do what had just been requested, if he
wanted to.  Of course, only Belphanior knew that he had an alternate plan
underway simultaneously:  seeking the same answer via Irina and her ties
with the temple of Istus.  He figured there was a strong chance of one or
both of these attempts meeting with success...and if both did and resulted
in the same answer, it would only serve as further validation when he set
out on the path of revenge.

Kronos:  The Throne, again.  (he regards the elf sternly)  Usage of that
  artifact is not a trivial matter!
Belphanior:  Neither is me and a dozen of my friends losing hundreds of
  magical items, not to mention five years of time, because we were away
  helping you in some forgotten place between time and space.
Kronos:  Ah, so we come to it at last.  You feel that I owe you.
Belphanior:  That's one way to look at it.  Another would be that you're
  helping me to do something good by recovering all of those items and
  using them for the good of the world.
Kronos:  How's that?
Belphanior:  Think about it...the current sorry state of the world.  Evil
  runs rampant, and has taken hold in a number of places.  We weren't here
  to do anything about it when it all happened.  But we're here now, and
  we can make a difference.  I have great and far-reaching plans to effect
  change...but first, I need my armory back.  (he smiles thinly)  And I'd
  be happy to share some of it with you, as you see fit.
Kronos:  Hmm.
Belphanior:  Your part in this bears no risk.  You simply need to go and
  use your throne, find the location I seek, and then tell me.  I'm not
  asking you to help me get my treasure back, or my revenge.  I just need
  you to point the way.
Kronos:  (considering this ask, and what the elf has said, and all of the
  angles around it)
Belphanior:  (sits back, his long arms crossed)
Kronos:  (as befits one of his superior intellect and long experience, he
  quickly reaches a decision)  I will help you.
Belphanior:  (nods)  Excellent-
Kronos:  But know this.  I may choose to take a personal interest in what
  you do after you have your target.  I may wish to accompany you and see
  this hoard for myself.  And if so, your mission must wait until I stand
  ready to join - even if that is days later...or weeks.  Agreed?
Belphanior:  It's been five years - I can wait a bit longer.  Agreed.
Kronos:  Then let us discuss the necessary spell, and you will share your
  knowledge of your lost possessions with me, and then you will depart and
  await further word from me.  I would suggest that you plan to wait at
  least a week's time for that word.
Belphanior:  I have some ideas of what I can do in that time.  (he stands)
  You have my thanks.
Kronos:  Do not thank me yet.  We know not where this path will lead.

next:       the fate of old friends
released:   5/20/2022
notes:      Just in case you were wondering, I figure they will zero in
  on one of the minor but unique items from the lost hoard (such as the
  Fork of Doom or the teeth of Orcus) for this attempt.
    And while I used the raid on the vault to implement a major culling
  of Belphanior's magic items, it only makes sense for him to try and get
  it all back.  That doesn't mean he'll succeed, though - but he has to
  try.  Any of us would.
    So the revelation of the responsible party will come soon...but next
  I plan to have Belphanior check in on some of his former adventuring
  companions.  It's time to see what fates the Wars held for all of them.
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