Chapter #1109

previous chapter (#1108)                                                                  next chapter (#1110)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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          +
+   Neera          12th level female human wizard (sage/astrologer)       +
+     Arusha        6th level human female wizard/alchemist               +
+     Judhon        7th level gnomish illusionist                         +
+   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                           +
+   Date:          4/18/586 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         the Free City of Greyhawk                              +
+   Climate:       pleasant                                               +
+   "There are people in the world who deal only in extremes."            +
+   "And it would be naive to think that anything less than extreme       +
+    measures will stop them."                                            +
+                  - from _Arrow_ episode _The Brave and the Bold_        +

                   MCIX.  To the Good Hills

  After conferring with Kronos and seeking the lich's assistance with a
pressing matter, Belphanior has now turned his attention to other things.
The party is gathered in the elf's room within the Green Dragon Inn.

Belphanior:  We've had a couple of days to rest and resupply.  While we
  wait on Kronos to tell us who robbed the vault - and where they are -
  I'm going to track down and visit some of my old friends, to see how
  they're doing after the events of the wars.

  This would be possible due to the powers of the Seeking Scroll and the
Eye of Celestian.  The elf had, of course, attempted to use the former to
locate his stolen hoard, but for some unknown reason it would not show
the location of any of those items.  It did, however, function properly
for truly unique items - yesterday, he and Neera had commanded it to find
a couple of powerful artifacts that they carried, and then the Throne of
the Gods (which they knew to be halfway across the continent).  In all of
these cases, the blank scroll's surface had been filled with a map to the
stated goal.  It also worked if the object of the search was a specific
person, although it had to be a unique and named individual; the more
precise the description, the greater the chance of success.  The Seeking
Scroll could also point the way to actual, specific places e.g. "the Free
City of Greyhawk" or "the kingdom of Furyondy" or "the land of Black Ice"
would all result in a map being drawn upon the item's surface.  Indeed,
their test uses of the item had given them a good idea of what it could
(and could not) do, which was why the elf now felt ready to seek out his
past companions.

Belphanior:  I've already caught up with Peldor, and of course we know
  what Alindyar and Lyra have been up to, since they were with us.  But
  there are others...Mongo, Arnold and Lorelei, Halbarad, Peyote and
  Daffodil, Rillen and Songa, Deryck and Nenya.  (he frowns)  I'm going
  to go visit each of them briefly, to catch up and see how they fared
  during and after the wars.  This will take about a week, and I know
  that not all of you know them, but I couldn't mind having a couple of
  you with me...just in case.
Skektek:  (having grown somewhat bored in Greyhawk, and craving potential
  chances to blast something with his spells)  Hell, why not?  I'll go.
Razor Charlie:  (steps forward, grimacing)  I can use some fresh air.
Belphanior:  Skektek and Charlie.  Very good.
Paige:  Count me in too.  I'd like to see more of this world.
Otto:  (to Belphanior)  Do you need any more?
Belphanior:  Not really, unless you want to get away from Greyhawk.
Otto:  (shakes his head)  I'm still not done restocking my poisons and
  other tools.  I know what I need is in the city...somewhere.  But the
  finding of it is taking longer than expected.
Belphanior:  Carry on, then.  (to the three volunteers)  Gather whatever
  you need.  We'll be leaving shortly.

  After everyone else left the room, the elf and Neera got to work with
the Seeking Scroll, using the item to map the route from Greyhawk to the
current location of Mongo.

Belphanior:  (watching lines of magical ink appear on the translucent
  paper of the scroll, quickly forming a map where there had only been
  blank parchment moments ago)  I don't think I'll ever grow tired of
  watching this thing work.
Neera:  Agreed.  (she eyes the information freshly laid-out on the scroll)
  The Good Hills.
Belphanior:  More specifically, the town of Flen...that's where I'll find
  Mongo.  (he rolls up the scroll, putting it back into its protective
  wooden scroll case, which he taps absently)  This tube is invulnerable
  to harm, you said?
Neera:  It's practically indestructible.  It looks and feels like normal
  wood, but it would survive a direct blow from a battleaxe without even
  a scratch.  Similarly, fire and lightning and acid have no effect upon
  it.  (she shrugs)  I had plenty of time to experiment.  That's how I
  decided what to set aside, and thus save when the time came.
Belphanior:  You did a damn fine job.  (he embraces her)  I'll be back
Neera:  (smiles warily)  I've heard that before.
Belphanior:  True, but this time I'm not using unknown magic or heading
  to some strange place.  It's just the Good Hills...they're to the west
  edge of Keoland, which has not yet fallen to evil forces.  (he pats the
  pommel of his dark sword)  I'll be fine.

  After gathering Skektek, Razor Charlie, and Paige, the elf employed the
wondrous Eye of Celestian to transport the quartet nearly half a continent
away, a great distance west and the Good Hills.  One moment,
they were gathered in a room within the Green Dragon; the next, they stood
in the depression amidst several hills.  More hills - hundreds - could be
seen in every direction, and there was some sort of commotion nearby, over
one of the hilltops in front of them.

Skektek:  (hopefully)  A battle?
Belphanior:  Doesn't sound like it, but there are an awful lot of people
  gathered nearby.  (he heads up the hillside, followed by the others)

  As they crested the hill, they witnessed a makeshift war camp, one that
extended as far as the eye could see.  Thousands of tents had been set up
in a rough but organized fashion, with wide streets running between them
to allow horses and wagons to move about.  In the distance, beyond the
furthest reaches of the encampment, a small walled town stood.

Belphanior:  That would be Flen.

  Suddenly, a halfling in leather armor approached the group, his drawn
sword little more than a dagger to the larger humans.  The little fellow
looked serious, though; his armor was dusty and bore the marks of past
battles, and his blade similarly appeared well-used.  While it was hard
to take him too seriously, there was little doubt that he'd fight if it
became necessary.

halfling warrior:  Halt, and identify yourselves!
Skektek:  (considering whether magic missiles would be a waste in this
  situation or not)
Belphanior:  (backs the wizard down with a glance)  Well-met, my friend.
  I am Belphanior, warrior and wizard, and these are my companions.  I've
  heard there's great evil in these parts.
halfling warrior:  (grunts, waving his sword)  You're a couple of years
  too late, then.  For the wars, anyway.  The battle...rages on.  (he
  regards them)  Well, you're sure not giants...or ogres, or bugbears, or
Paige:  (to Belphanior)  He's right.  We're not.
halfling warrior:  Hmph.  No one likes a smartass, lady.  Unless you can
  fight.  (he looks them over again, then sheathes his sword)  And you lot
  look like you can fight.
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces)

  By this point, the halfling warrior had been joined by several others
who looked much like him - small, but experienced and ready to take on
any foes.  It was slightly alarming how quickly and quietly the others
had appeared to back up their companion.

halfling warrior:  So you're here to fight evil, are you?  (he gestures
  toward the west)  There's evil a-plenty that way.
Belphanior:  Actually, while we're always happy to fight evil...first we
  seek an old friend and companion, Mongo Thunderhead, who I haven't seen
  in many years.  You'd know him by-
halfling warrior:  Mongo, you say?
Belphanior:  That's right.
halfling warrior:  Describe this Mongo.
Belphanior:    Dwarf, black beard, loud...a mighty warrior.  Loves to
  fight, wields a hammer that-
halfling warrior:  Enough.  (he exchanges glances with the other halflings
  before pointing to the elf)  Come with us.  (they turn and head toward
  the massed tents)
Belphanior:  (shrugs, and follows)
Skektek:  (muttering to Paige)  When the halflings command...we must obey.
Paige:  At least they didn't hit on me, like that Bosco back in the city.

  The four adventurers followed their diminutive hosts, keeping their eyes
open and their weapons ready, just in case.  There was no reason to expect
hostility from the inhabitants of these hills - from what Belphanior had
gathered before coming here, this region was home to a variety of refugees
from nearby kingdoms, all of who hoped to one day strike back and reclaim
their homes from the giants and other invaders.  Nevertheless, these were
strange and wild times in the world, and one had to be ready for anything,
at any time.
  As they moved through the encampment, they noted the flags and heraldry
of not only Sterich but also Geoff.  There were also a large number of
dwarves here, not to mention the gnomes and halflings native to these
hills.  Despite all of this, the area seemed more like a refugee camp
than a military outpost.  Unlike Greyhawk, though, this one was full of
people who could fight - and obviously had, in the recent past.
  The halflings eventually led them to a large tent whose exterior bore
a striking emblem:  a round shield with a red background and an outer edge
of black.  In the center of the shield were two items, crossed in an "X"
pattern...a stout warhammer and a bolt of lightning, both shaded black to
stand out against the red background.  Two grizzled, powerful-looking
dwarves guarded the entrance to the tent; both wore heavy armor and bore
well-notched weapons, and looked like they were not to be trifled with.

first dwarven guard:  What is it?
halfling warrior:  These four claim to know the general.
Belphanior:  The who?  You mean Mongo?
first dwarven guard:  Have a care what you say there, friend.  Whether you
  actually do know him or not - and that's not for sure yet - he's still
  our general.
halfling warrior:  That's right.
Skektek:  (wondering why these people would let four strangers into the
  camp, and then let them get this close to a high-ranking officer)
second dwarven guard:  You're probably wondering why we let you get this
  close to his tent.  (he snorts)  It's simple-
booming voice:  It's because I don't really need guards to protect me.

  The voice was a familiar one, and belonged of course to none other than
the mighty dwarven warrior Mongo Thunderhead.  He stepped out of his tent
and approached his old adventuring companion, a wide grin spreading across
his bearded face.

Mongo:  Belphanior!  (he clasps the elf's hand)  By the gods, man!  It's
  been...damn.  Years!
Belphanior:  And therein lies a tale.
Mongo:  (nods to Skektek and Razor Charlie)  Guys.  (he regards Paige)  I
  don't know who you are, but you sure as hell look like you know how to
  use that sword.
Paige:  (rolls her eyes, muttering)  Why do I get this reaction everywhere
  I go?
Skektek:  It's because you've got that look.
Paige:  I do?
Skektek:  That don't-fuck-with-me look.
Razor Charlie:  He's right.  You do.
Paige:  Oh.  (she smirks)  Alrighty, then.
Mongo:  (claps Belphanior on the arm)  It's good to see you!  Damn, we
  need to catch up.
second dwarven guard:  Well, I guess that settles that.
first dwarven guard:  Right.
halfling warrior:  (just stands there, arms crossed smugly, pleased with
Mongo:  (to the pair of guards)  Good work, men.
first dwarven guard:  Thanks, general.
Mongo:  (gesturing toward the tent's entrance)  If you'll join me?

next:       Mongo's war stories
released:   5/27/2022
notes:      So originally, I was going to put all of these catching-up
  meetings in one single episode.  Then I decided to do one episode for
  each former companion.  And after this one sort of wrote itself (which
  is always the sign of a good writing groove) I realized that at least
  some of these would need to spread out across multiple episodes.
    As always, there's no hurry.  In order to deliver an episode a week
  to you, I really have to get away from long episodes that contain tons
  of events.  At least until I am retired and no longer have to give 40+
  hours of time, blood, sweat, and tears to an employer.
previous chapter (#1108)                                                                  next chapter (#1110)