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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 +
+ Neera 12th level female human wizard (sage/astrologer) +
+ Alindyar 18th level dark elven wizard +
+ Lyra 14th level female drow wizard +
+ Cespedes 19th level human wizard, elementalist +
+ Dexitheseus 17th level human wizard, jack of all trades +
+ Kronos ancient lich wizard +
+ Pallin 18th level grey elven wizard of Celestian, teleporter +
+ Parekh 18th level female human wizard, innovator +
+ Wu 18th level human wizard, transmuter +
+ Date: 4/21/586 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: evening +
+ Place: Parekh's home (exact location unknown) +
+ Climate: cool and pleasant +
+ "The psychological niche where you'll find the man who can shoulder +
+ aside these two behavioral opposites is very narrow. The ideal is +
+ a man who, from the safety of long range, can kill when it is +
+ required but is immune to the impulse to continue killing when +
+ the situation is resolved. A man whose psyche is strong and so +
+ fundamentally rooted in a personal philosophy or religion that he +
+ doesn't suffer unduly from taking human life under appropriate +
+ conditions." +
+ - Eric Haney, from _Inside Delta Force_ +
MCXXI. Wizards of War
Following his visit with the archmage Tenser, Belphanior has returned
to share his findings with the other members of the new alliance...
Parekh: So to summarize the state of things...Rary seems to be in the
early stages of building an empire in the Bright Desert, he's subjugated
some but not all of the people and monsters in the region, and he seeks
the long-lost Scorpion Crown in an effort to gain control of the area
and its denizens?
Belphanior: (his arms crossed, he nods) That's about everything.
Pallin: And his former comrade Tenser wishes to help us find and destroy
Belphanior: That too. (he gestures with one arm) Which is why we were
careful not to reveal all of your identities when speaking with Tenser.
Alindyar: Although truthfully, if Tenser does become involved - which
seems a foregone conclusion - he will learn of the existence of this
group. (he frowns) Sooner or later.
Dexitheseus: He might even want to join our ranks.
Alindyar: That, I doubt. As we confirmed in the visit earlier today,
Tenser is still firmly entrenched in law and goodness. He is somewhat
of an...extreme case. Aside from perhaps doing whatever is necessary
to deal with his treacherous former associate, Tenser is unlikely to
effectively align with this group - or any group - in the longer term.
Parekh: Well, that may save us the trouble of inviting him.
Belphanior: We still need to figure out how to join his forces, whatever
they may be, with ours.
Lyra: Maybe if our attack consists of multiple groups, across multiple
fronts - Tenser's team can simply be one of those.
Kronos: (stands) This is as much a military problem as it is a magical
one...which means that the first thing we must do is take stock of all
of our various minions, troops, and other allies. Personally...I can
bring the pair of white dragons to the fight, as well as a handful of
golems and a small army of undead.
Belphanior: You have undead forces?
Lyra: Oh, Tenser won't like that.
Kronos: I can...assemble such a force. But aside from the golems, all
of the others I mentioned will not do well in the heat of that desert.
Nor will I, for that matter.
Belphanior: We'll come back to that. For my part, I have some golems-
(he pauses, frowning as he turns to Neera) Or do I?
Neera: They're all gone. We had the resources to construct more, but
those were taken from us - by Rary, ironically.
Belphanior: Right. And we can't count on help from Mongo or any of the
others; they're all embroiled in their own problems at the moment.
Lyra: (ESPing to Alindyar) What of Bosco, and his magical chessboard
whose pieces can each summon an ally?
Alindyar: (ESPing to Lyra) The Host of Kaloth could be a powerful tool
in this endeavor...but we would need to somehow convince the halfling
to join our cause.
Lyra: (ESPing to Alindyar) That shouldn't be too difficult.
Belphanior: -and I don't think I could employ Peyton Farquhar and that
group, nor Bram and his team of vampire hunters.
Parekh: (drily) Good, since there are no vampires in Rary's employ.
Belphanior: That we know of.
Dexitheseus: We'll need a priest or two for this adventure. (he nods to
Belphanior) No offense to that eyepatch-wearing hellion in your team,
but it'll take more than a single priestess of Istus to help us against
one such as Rary the Traitor.
Belphanior: Good point.
Dexitheseus: I have no minions or servants, but I might be able to find
us a priest or two. I'll need a couple of days.
Belphanior: Anyway, in addition to my one priestess, the majority of my
group will also be involved in whatever attack we plan and execute.
Parekh: Drak will help, of course. We don't tend to keep others around
to help out here, nor do I maintain any sort of standing army or force.
Hmm, I suppose I could try and summon some monsters to help, when the
Pallin: It is much the same for me, I fear. Aside from my loyal hound
Socrates, I do not have retainers or henchpeople. (he shrugs, turning
Cespedes: Aside from the adamant golem Talos, and the iron dwarf - both
of whom all of you have seen in action recently - I can marshal several
elementals to aid in this fight. Or para-elementals. (he ponders the
options) Or even quasi-elementals. It is simply a matter of deciding
which are best suited for the need...fire, water, earth, air...vapor,
heat, dust, ice...lightning, steam, radiance, mineral.
Parekh: Uh...right. Wu, what have you got?
Wu: My tower, while a simple place, is staffed by a small force of ogre
magi...powerful warriors in battle, and they can also use magic. That
will surely help.
Parekh: (nods) Surely. (she regards the pair of dark elves) What of
Alindyar: Like several of the rest of you here, we are solitary and have
little need of guards, troops, and the like. However...my illusionary
powers are not insignificant. For example, I can conjure forth a large
fighting force that will look, sound, smell, and feel real to any normal
adversary. While this altered reality likely will not deceive Rary
himself, it will offer us a strong advantage against the bulk of his
forces...and these illusory troops will not be subject to attacks like
fear, holding, gases, weather conditions, and the like.
Parekh: That sounds good.
Alindyar: (doesn't mention the paintbrush he possesses, which can alter
the very reality around it, and with which he has been practicing over
the last few months)
Belphanior: So now we have an idea about what our forces will look like,
whether all gathered in one army or split into multiple smaller groups.
We know the "who" and the "what"...the question really revolves around
the "how"...how do we attack? What's the best way?
Parekh: I have a few ideas - as I'm sure everyone else does - but magic
isn't always the best, or only, method.
Belphanior: Agreed. And I've been thinking about how to approach this
since the moment Tenser started sharing information about Rary and his
new home in the desert. There are, or course, multiple options. One:
we send a large force through the desert and on to his fortress. This
is a conventional military tactic, but the trip through that wasteland
would be difficult, even with magic. The sand dunes would mean slow
going, the heat and blasting wind would wear down even the strongest
warriors, and there would doubtless be hostile forces who know the
terrain far better than we possibly could.
Parekh: And Rary would surely be alerted to the presence of a hostile
force in his vicinity.
Belphanior: That he would. We could mitigate some of these issues with
the right types of soldiers, and magical protections. And an overland
assault would be an opportunity for us to recruit locals to our cause,
ones who don't want Rary around. But all of those things require work
and might take time. (he nods toward Cespedes) I mean, your golem of
adamant could survive the heat and the sand - and probably anyone dumb
enough to try and stop it - but it would take weeks to reach the tower,
which is no good.
Cespedes: Indeed, not.
Belphanior: And then there's a second option: a small force makes its
way through the desert and into the hills where Rary's tower awaits.
If they could get there undetected - which is far from certain - then
they could open up a teleportation portal and bring the main force
through, close to the enemy...fresh and well-rested.
Pallin: I like this plan. But it will be difficult to approach anywhere
close to the wizard without him knowing. (he shakes his head) And if
we open a portal...forget it. He will detect such magic immediately.
Belphanior: I thought about that too. Which brings us to option three:
death from above. We fly to Rary's lands, staying far up there in the
sky until the moment of attack, and then descend upon his fortress with
our full fury.
Lyra: (ESPing to Alindyar) He's still got it.
Alindyar: (ESPing to Lyra) Aye. The elf may have changed his overall
outlook, but his tactical abilities remain as keen as ever.
Wu: And _I_ like this plan. (imagining himself shape-changed into a huge
dragon, he smiles wistfully)
Dexitheseus: It offers some surprise, but would be difficult to employ
for anything but a small group. (he regards Cespedes sadly) No golems
in this plan.
Belphanior: Well, actually, it's possible to-
Kronos: I offer a fourth option. Why not drop something massive and
heavy directly onto the foe's tower, from above?
Cespedes: A golem?
Belphanior: That's what-
Kronos: Larger. I was thinking a small hillock, or a tiny mountain.
Neera: (gasps) Is such a thing possible?
Kronos: It should be. We would need a combination of magic types...some
involving portals, some of the elemental sort, perhaps others. (his
red eyes sweep the group) I've little doubt that the necessary power
is seated in this room.
Belphanior: So that would likely destroy Rary's tower - and perhaps even
Rary himself - but it has a strong chance of also destroying all of his
magical and monetary treasure, not to mention any innocents or prisoners
he might have.
Kronos: Is that worth forgoing the greater chance of surprising and
overcoming the wizard? It is a balancing act...we must ask ourselves
what the priority is.
Belphanior: I say yes. Our objectives are to kill Rary and recover what
he stole - and his other treasures - with minimal collateral damage. If
we demolish his tower, it could take a lot of time and effort to sift
through the ruins to figure out if we actually killed him or not. I'd
prefer to know for sure...by dealing with him directly. (he rests his
hand on the pommel of his dark sword)
Neera: (wondering if a clone of someone would be fully-functional if the
original person's soul was previously destroyed, she opts to discuss
this with Belphanior once he comes up with a complete plan)
Parekh: So that's at least four options...unless we think of more. The
question now is, which one do we use?
Belphanior: (smiles thinly)
next: a final party weighs in
notes: I'm well and truly committed and underway now. I suspect
that the time between my writing this one, and the next one, will be
substantial. This sort of plotline (and battle) takes some planning.
On another note, the Rogues' Gallery on the main page of peldor.com
has been reworked to add a ton of functionality and search parameters;
you should check it out.
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