Chapter #176

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                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                    +
+   THE PARTY (more appropriately, those who stayed behind):  +
+                                                             +
+      Gorin       6th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Bosco       7th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Date:    10/21/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                     +
+   Time:    early evening                                    +
+   Place:   the Free City of Greyhawk                        +
+   Climate: cold                                             +
+   "You see, we plan ahead - that way, we don't do           +
+    anything right now."                                     +
+                                    - Val, from _Tremors_    +

                   CLXXVI.  Intermission

  While the rest of the party has gone away to rescue Alindyar
from the Underdark, Bosco and Gorin have been left behind in

Gorin:  This sucks.
Bosco:  Yeah.  They've been gone for four days.  I'm getting
Bosco:  We should go out and do something.
Gorin:  (glares at the halfling)
Bosco:  (looks shocked)  No, I don't mean _steal_ something.
Gorin:  Bah.  What could we do?
Bosco:  (realizes that he has no ideas, and shrugs)  Beats
  me.  Let's go anyway.
Gorin:  Ah, why not?

  They left their rooms in the Green Dragon Inn, and headed
downstairs, passing the bar on the way.

Tanya:  Headed out for a night on the town, eh?
Bosco:  Yeah.  We're bored.
Gorin:  Very bored.
Tanya:  Sounds like you guys need some adventure.
Bosco:  Couldn't hurt, I guess.  Well, we're off.  See ya
Tanya:  (wondering what kinds of trouble the pair can get
  into)  Good luck...

  They left the inn, and wandered the city for a while,
making stops in various taverns and night spots.  Their
meanderings carried them through sections of the High
Quarter, the Foreign Quarter, the River Quarter, and
eventually into Old City.  They didn't much notice the
change of scenery until they took a shortcut through a
dank, dark alleyway behind one of the area's lower-class

Gorin:  (spots a huddled form near one wall of the alley)
  What in the world...?
Bosco:  (steps forth)  Hey!  Hey you!  What are you doing

  Both adventurers were shocked when the form stood up and
spun about, surprised.  It was no man at all, but rather a
grey-skinned creature, with large round eyes and pointed
ears.  Stranger still, when it stood, they saw that it had
been hunched over the body of a middle-aged man.

thing:  Hsss!  (it turns and flees down the alley, in the
  opposite direction)
Gorin:  Holy shit!  What the hell was that thing?!?
Bosco:  (runs to examine the body)  Geez, this guy's had it!
  His throat's been cut from ear to ear!  And only seconds
  ago, too - the blood's still hot!
Gorin:  Murder...come on, Bosco!  We've got to find that...
  that thing!
Bosco:  We do?  Wha-  (he is snatched away as Gorin, running
  by, grabs his arm)  Okay, okay!

  They raced after the creature, running down the alley in
the direction it had fled.  However, there were no opened
doors or other means of exiting the alleyway, and they soon
turned a corner to find that the dark alley ended in a stone

Gorin:  It's...gone!
Bosco:  No way...I could've sworn it rounded this corner only
  a second before we did...(he looks around)  He couldn't have
  vanished into thin air...well, maybe he could have, but
Gorin:  (notices a puddle whose water is still rippling)  No,
  he's been here!
Bosco:  We-

  Just then, a contingent of armed city guardsmen rounded the
corner and stopped short, their swords and crossbows pointed
at the two adventurers.

guard captain:  Halt!  You are under arrest!
Gorin:  But-
other guard:  You two have a lot of explaining to do!
Bosco:  Huh?
guard captain:  Not another word!  Drop those weapons or else!
guards:  (level their crossbows)
Gorin:  Sheesh.  (he tosses down his axe)

  Shortly, in a cell within a guardhouse at the edge of the
Old City...

Gorin:  (sitting in the locked cell with Bosco and several
  other prisoners)  I can't believe this.  After we told
  them where to look, they still threw us in here.
Bosco:  Relax.  I'm sure it'll all work out eventually.
Gorin:  (stands up)  Relax?!?  How can you babble about
  relaxing at a time like this?!?
Bosco:  (shrugs)  Easy.  (he stares at the ceiling)  I do
  believe I'm hungry.  (he wanders over to a table, where
  a few scraps of bread remain)
thug:  (puts his hand in front of Bosco)  Back off, runt.
  That's my food.
Bosco:  (regarding the crusts of bread)  Really?  I don't
  see your name written on it anywhere.  Maybe you-
thug:  (stands up and kicks the table over)  You little
  shit!  Are you deaf?  It's _my_ bread!
Bosco:  Actually, it's on the floor now.  Not that I would
  have eaten it anyway.  I do believe it's moldy.
thug:  Arrrgh!  That does it!  I'm gonna smash you!
Bosco:  Yipes!  (he darts aside as the thug swings at him)
thug:  (misses)  Wha-
Gorin:  (sidesteps the thug as he charges by, and then
  shoves him back, hard)  Watch it, pal.
Bosco:  (ducks down, tripping the thug as he backpedals)
thug:  (goes sprawling into the bars)  <clang>  Ow!  (he
  falls to the floor, holding his head)
Bosco:  Oops.  Did I do that?
thug:  Grr...
Gorin:  You shouldn't pick on people smaller than you.
  I'd suggest, fellow, that you stay down there and think
  things over.  I'm not in a very good mood right now.
thug:  I'll kill you!  (he leaps to his feet and charges
Gorin:  (whips out the table leg he was hiding behind his
  back)  I warned you...(he whacks the thug in the head
  with the makeshift club)
thug:  Argh!  (he falls, unconscious)
Gorin:  Hah!  (he whirls about)  Anybody else want some?
other prisoners:  (cowering in the corners)
Gorin:  I thought not.
Bosco:  (checking the thug's pockets)
Gorin:  (hefts his table leg and gathers up the bread scraps
  hungrily)  Mmm.  You may not be hungry, Bosco, but some of
  us have real appetites...uh, Bosco?
Bosco:  (holding up a hairpin)  Look what I found...  (he
  wanders over to the cell door and sticks the pin in the
Gorin:  Oh, come on.  You can't possibly expect to-
Bosco:  (something clicks, and he pushes the cell door open)
Gorin:  Geez.

  They quickly left the cell, shutting the door behind them.

other prisoners:  (looking at the pair anxiously)
Bosco:  (puts his fingers to his mouth)  Shh!  We wouldn't
  want the guards knowing that we escaped...
Gorin:  (heading for the cell block door)  Nope.

  Suddenly, the door flew open, admitting several guards,
the captain who arrested the two adventurers, and a tanned
blonde-haired woman dressed in priest's robes and wielding
a staff.

guard captain:  This way, Constable.  I'll show you the
  two-  Aie!  They have escaped!
Gorin:  Yeah, we escaped, all right.  Escaped from a cell
  where we were being held for no reason, for a crime we
  didn't commit!
Bosco:  Escaped rather easily, I might add-
guard captain:  Hogwash!  Why, just for attempted escape,
  I'll add on another year to-
woman:  Galt?
guard captain:  What?
woman:  Give it a rest.
Galt:  (grimaces)
Gorin:  Who are you, lady?
woman:  I am Derider Fanshaen, high priestess of Pelor, god
  of light.
Gorin:  Yes, we've heard of him.
Bosco:  (about to pick a guard's pocket)
Gorin:  (grabs the halfling by the collar and pulls him back)
guard:  Hey!
Derider:  Amusing.
Gorin:  Milady, we witnessed a murder, and were arrested as
  we chased down the...culprit.  (he decides not to tell her
  about the grey-skinned thing just yet)  But we did nothing
Derider:  Hmm.  (she regards the pair)  Is this true, little
Bosco:  (looking around)  Oh, you mean me.  Yeah, that's it,
Derider:  Fortunately for you two, my spell shows that you
  speak the truth.
Galt:  No!  We searched the wall where they told us!  Nothing
  was there!  It's a blank wall!
Derider:  Obviously, something is amiss here tonight.  (she
  gestures to a guard)  Return their weapons.
Gorin:  Hmph.  (accepts his axe, checking it for any signs
  of mishandling)  What about the murder?
Bosco:  Yeah, who was that guy who croaked?
Derider:  Just a minor city council member.  Still, murder
  is murder...there will have to be an investigation.  Are
  you two city residents?
Gorin:  Uh...basically, yeah.  Our companions are away right
Bosco:  Yeah, you may have heard of them.  Peldor?
Derider:  (knits her brows), the name means nothing
  to me.
Gorin:  Mongo?  Ged?
Derider:  Hmm, perhaps the name "Ged" has significance...I
  really can't remember at the moment.
Bosco:  (eyeing the priestess' gem-studded necklace)
Derider:  Tell me where I can find you two, for whatever later
  questioning is required.
Gorin:  We're staying at the Green Dragon Inn right now.
Derider:  Yes, a fine place.  (she sees that the pair haven't
  told her any lies)  Well, you may go now.  We shall see to
  the details of the investigation.
Bosco:  But what about-
Gorin:  C'mon.  (they exit the cell block)

  Shortly, the two were back in the street.

Bosco:  I wonder what _really_ happened tonight?
Gorin:  Me too.  That's why we're going to have another look
  at that dead-end alley.
Bosco:  It is?  We are?

  After getting their bearings, the two traveled the streets
until they were in the alley where the murder has occurred.
Moments later, they were within the cul-de-sac where the grey
creature had vanished.

Gorin:  Let's check it out.  (he begins examining the stone-
Bosco:  Secret doors, eh?  (he examines the wall ahead)
Gorin:  You never know...hmm, these walls look fairly old to
  me.  Mongo could make a better estimation, though.
Bosco:  Nah, we don't need any help.  Be patient.  (he pulls
  a loose stone out, but nothing happens)
Gorin:  Bah.  We'd better find something, that's all I have
  to say.
Bosco:  (failing to find anything on the wall ahead, he turns
  instead to the wall to the left)  Yeah...hey!  (a false
  flagstone in the wall rotates, exposing a dark and cramped
  passage)  Look at that, would you?
Gorin:  Yeah, I see it.  The thing must have run into there.
  Good thing we both have infravision...
Bosco:  It is?  Why?
Gorin:  Because we're going down there.
Bosco:  Oh.  (he adopts a cheerful demeanor)  Okay!  (he
  leaps into the passage)  Whee!
Gorin:  Shh!  You don't want to get surprised by any big,
  nasty monsters, do you?
Bosco:  Ah.  (he sneaks forth quietly, followed by Gorin)

  They followed the passage for several tense minutes; it
went straight for a while, then made a sharp right turn,
then continued in the new direction.  The passage might have
been difficult for a full-sized party to traverse, but both
adventurers stood under four feet in height, and thus had
no problems.

Gorin:  I think this tunnel is sloping down, slightly.
Bosco:  Why?
Gorin:  Just a hunch.
Bosco:  (cocks an ear)
Gorin:  In fact-
Bosco:  (gives the quiet signal)
Gorin:  ...
Bosco:  (gives the hold signal, then dashes ahead quietly)
Gorin:  (stands there, tensed for action)

  About thirty seconds later, there was a roar from ahead,
followed by a yelp from Bosco.

Gorin:  Dammit...!  (he runs down the passage at full tilt,
  heading for a torchlit room which he can now see ahead)

  The dwarf emerged into a large chamber, whose roof was a
full ten feet in height.  Bosco was facing off against some
kind of creature, which was bleeding green blood from a cut
in its back.

Gorin:  Hey!  It's one of those grey-skinned things!  (he
  charges to the aid of Bosco)
Bosco:  It's about time you showed up!
creature:  (whirls, regards the dwarf, and charges)  Hsss!
Gorin:  Back, you!  (he chops at the thing, slicing its arm
  deeply and driving it back)  Back, I said!
creature:  Aaaie!  (it reels, then charges again)
Gorin:  Whoa...(he staggers back as the thing claws at him)
  Argh!  (he now bleeds from a shallow gash)
creature:  (pleased with itself)  Ssss!
Gorin:  Fucker...(he hacks at the foe, burying his axe deep
  in its head)
creature:  Gurk...(it falls, its head split)
Bosco:  Hey, it's dead!  (he gapes at the corpse)
Gorin:  Remember, it didn't get that way all by itself.
Bosco:  (searching the body)  Hmm, no clothes,
  even.  This thing's _naked_.
Gorin:  That's fascinating.  (while binding his wound, he
  notices a passageway leading out)  Look there.
Bosco:  Ah.  (he approaches the tunnel)

  Shortly, they set off to explore this new passage.  This
didn't take long, as the dark corridor wound around and led
into another large chamber.  Like the last, this one was
illuminated by a few torches set in wall sconces.  The room
was occupied by two more of the grey-skinned creatures, who
were sitting in chairs around a small table.

Gorin:  You!  Hold it right there!
Bosco:  Yeah!  Freeze!
one creature:  (its features begin shifting)
other creature:  (likewise)
Bosco:  What's going on?
Gorin:  (his axe held ready)  Beats me...
creature#1:  (it becomes a crude imitation of an armored
creature#2:  (similarly, it becomes a rough imitation of a
Bosco:  Hey!  It's you - us!
Gorin:  Aie.
creatures:  (stand up, grinning, and walk toward the pair of
  adventurers)  Sss.
Gorin:  Stop right there!
Bosco:  They're not listening...(he uncorks a potion)
Gorin:  Okay, death then!  (he charges, chopping mightily at
  the foremost of the creatures)  Yaaaah!
creature#1:  (wounded slightly, it punches Gorin)
Gorin:  Argh!  (he reels)  That thing's strong!
creature#2:  (the Bosco-duplicate, it heads for the halfling)
Bosco:  (pockets his half-empty potion and raises his sword)
  Away, you anti-me!

  The two creatures, now perfect duplicates of the adventurers,
stalked their prey maliciously.

Gorin:  (circling his duplicate warily)  Come on...I dare you.
Gorin-duplicate:  Sss!  (it rakes at the dwarf with its claws,
  but his armor protects him this time)
Gorin:  Hah!  (he hacks at the foe, but misses)  Dammit!
Bosco-duplicate:  (closing in on the halfling)  Sss!
Bosco:  You won't take my body!  (he slashes out, connecting
  with a puny blow)
Bosco-duplicate:  (knocked back ten feet into a wall)  Whoulf!
Gorin:  Holy shit!  What'd you hit him with?!?
Bosco:  I just drank a potion of...what was it Peldor called
  it?  Oh, yeah, "storm giant strength".  Guess that's pretty
  strong, huh?
Bosco-duplicate:  (staggers to its feet, bleeding profusely)
Gorin:  Yeah, pretty strong...(he chops at his own foe again)
Gorin-duplicate:  (cut again)  Sss!

Bosco:  (ducks a slashing claw from his foe)  Whoa.  (he stabs
  out with his shortsword, imbedding the weapon in the foe's
Bosco-duplicate:  (blood sprays from the terrible wound)  Sss!
  (it falls, dying)
Bosco:  Score one for giant's strength!
Gorin:  Yeah!  Now for-
Gorin-duplicate:  (turns and flees, pushing its way through
  a concealed door that appeared to be no more than a large
  flagstone)  Sss!
Gorin:  Hey!
Bosco:  I know what you mean - I thought it was a stone too.
Gorin:  (regarding Bosco strangely)  Come on, we don't want
  that thing to get away!

  They went through the door, and found themselves in a damp,
smelly place.  Narrow ledges bordered channels filled with
dirty, scum-topped water.

Bosco:  The sewers of Greyhawk!
Gorin:  How'd you know that?
Bosco:  Never you mind.  We-
Gorin-duplicate:  (ambushes them from a shadowy nook, tearing
  at Gorin with its inhuman claws)
Gorin:  Argh!  (he falls back, injured)
Bosco:  Where'd _you_ come from?  (he slashes the thing, and
  his giant-enhanced strength drives his little sword through
  the foe's neck)
Gorin-duplicate:  (perishes, and falls into the sewer water)
Bosco:  Hah.
Gorin:  (clutching his chest)  Urgh...
Bosco:  You okay?
Gorin:  Yeah...(he stands up)  Armor's a great thing to have.
  Saved me yet again, it did.
Bosco:  Well...(he looks around)  I don't think we can do too
  much exploring here.  These sewers go under the whole city,
  and there's no guarantee that anyone or anything we find will
  have anything to do with these grey monsters.
Gorin:  Uh...okay, if you say so.  After all, we _do_ have
  three bodies.  (he grabs the one that fell in the water,
  and drags it out)  Phew.

  They returned to the room with the table and chairs.  Besides
this basic furniture, the chamber also contained a few barrels
and chests.  Rummaging through these, the pair found a variety
of supplies, rations, clothes, even a few valuables....

Bosco:  (he holds up a sack)  Platinum!  We're rich!
Gorin:  We were already rich.  (he examines a pile of gems of
  varying sizes and quality)  Now we're just...richer.  Yeah.

  They recovered the mentioned monetary treasure, and also a
ring, a dagger, a gem-studded crown, and a fine cloak.  They
stashed the bodies of the three slain creatures in some large
sacks found in one of the chests.

Bosco:  I'll carry these guys, since I'm strong now.  (he puts
  the three sacks on his shoulder effortlessly)  C'mon, what
  are you waiting for?
Gorin:  (searching through the supplies)  Oh, nothing, just
  didn't want to leave any good stuff behind.  We don't have
  powers of magic detection like the wizards, you know.

  Within a few minutes, they had returned to the city streets
above.  They headed back to the guardhouse where they had been
questioned by Derider and Galt earlier in the evening.

Galt:  (gapes in astonishment)  What the hell?!?  Have you
  brought me new victims of your murderous ways?  What-
Bosco:  (opens a sack, letting the upper half of one of the
  grey-skinned bodies slide out)
Galt:  Aie.
Gorin:  Hah.  Murder _that_, pal.
Bosco:  Maybe you'd better fetch that Derider chick.
Galt:  Twice in one night...she's not gonna be happy...but
  she's got to see this!

  Gorin and Bosco waited around, resting in chairs within the
guardhouse, while Galt went to summon the priestess.  Those
city guardsmen left to watch the adventurers were leery of
the pair, perhaps because of the three weird bodies they had
brought in.  Bosco amused himself by lifting a heavy table
with one hand; this made the guards even more uneasy.  After
a wait of about ten minutes, Derider showed up, looking a
wee bit irritated.

Derider:  What now?  Even my patience has-  (she spots the
  bodies)  Aie.
Galt:  Exactly.
Gorin:  We found a secret door in that alley, and it led us
  to these things.
Bosco:  They tried to kill us, you know.  Shouldn't we be due
  for a reward or something?
Gorin:  Bosco!
Bosco:  Well, I was-
Derider:  (staring at the bodies)  Dopplegangers!
Bosco:  So _that's_ what you call 'em.
Derider: the city itself...this must be
  reported, investigated.
Gorin:  Well, that's good to know.
Derider:  But not by roaming adventurers.  Go now, to your
  inn.  We will contact you at a later date, should the need
Bosco:  Don't call us, we'll-
Gorin:  Come on, Bosco.  (he drags the halfling out of the
Bosco:  (now outside)  But why?
Gorin:  They don't want us, and we don't want them.  Besides
  that, I'm tired.  Battle wipes me out.  Besides _that_,
  think of the treasure we got!
Bosco:  Yeah!

  They returned to the Green Dragon Inn, and decided to worry
about their loot on the morrow.  With that, both were soon
fast asleep in their rooms.

Tanya:  (downstairs)  Must have been quite a night.  It's a
  good thing that Peldor always keeps rooms reserved for his

  The next day, they appraised their treasure.  Besides the
eight hundred platinum coins, there were numerous gems.  For
the items suspected to be magical - the ring, cloak, crown,
and dagger - they would have to visit a sage.

sage:  Boys, this crown's not magical.
Bosco:  It's not?
sage:  Nope.  It might have some small value as jewelry,
Gorin:  What about the rest?
sage:  Yep.  The dagger's a fine weapon.  The cloak will give
  some benefit to its wearer.  As for the ring, I'm not sure
  exactly _what_ it does.  Someone'll have to try it on, and
  I don't get paid for that.  Speaking of getting paid...(he
  rubs his hands together expectantly)
Gorin:  (hands the old man the crown)  Here, take this silly
Bosco:  Hey!
Gorin:  There's your payment, good sage.
sage:  Ah!  We certainly thank you, then.  Good day.


Bosco:  I don't get it.
Gorin:  Better to let him have the crown.  Gems are easier to
  cash in anyway.  Besides, I only want the dagger.  You can
  have the other two.  You did most of the fighting anyhow.
Bosco:  Gee...I guess I did.  (he slips on the ring, and then
  fastens the cloak around his neck)  Whoa!
Gorin:  What is it?  It the cloak too tight?
Bosco:  (running around, squinting)
Gorin:  What is it?
Bosco:  Err...(rubbing his eyes)  I had something in my eye.
  But it's gone now.
Gorin:  (regards his companion strangely)
Bosco:  C'mon, let's go get some lunch!
Gorin:  Mmm...lunch...

  The duo headed into the Foreign Quarter, in search of fine
food and drink to spend their newfound wealth on.

next time :  back to the main contingent of fools

ftp site  : in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  Most of these Greyhawk personalities come from
           the _City of Greyhawk_ boxed set...again, credit
           where credit is due.
             I should write more little side adventures like
           this one.  They're fun.

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