Chapter #216

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

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells,    +
+  and other terms used in these stories are the property of  +
+  TSR, Inc.  However, this does not mean that TSR in any     +
+  way endorses or authorizes their use, and any such items   +
+  contained within these stories should not be considered    +
+  representative of TSR in any way, shape, or form.          +
+    Due to the nature of the Internet, these stories have    +
+  been widely available since 1991.  I have given them to    +
+  the world freely, and have never intended to market them   +
+  or in any way make money.  However, due to TSR, Inc.'s     +
+  copyright restrictions, old episodes of the Adventurers    +
+  are no longer being archived on any ftp site anywhere.     +
+    The player 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 (or more accurately, a fragment of it):         +
+                                                             +
+   Belphanior    13th/14th/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Rillen        17th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    7/2/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    dusk                                             +
+   Place:   the northern edge of the Riftcanyon              +
+   Climate: moderate                                         +
+   "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a              +
+    single step."                                            +
+                                        - Chinese proverb    +

                 CCXVI.  Greyspire

  Belphanior, Rillen, and the wispy thing, along with their
newfound companion, the ranger Garn, have been traversing
the northern edge of the Riftcanyon for several days now.
As dusk falls, they have spotted some kind of fortress in
the distance.

Rillen:  (peering ahead)  Is that...?
Garn:  Yup.  That's it.  Greyspire!
Belphanior:  Whoa...

  What they were looking at was essentially a huge pillar
of canyon wall that hadn't collapsed.  Instead, it had
split off from the canyon's edge somehow, and stood alone,
about a hundred feet out, rising from the mist-shrouded
depths like a tower.  A natural bridge of stone connected
it to the surrounding land, and this ended in a large pair
of metal gates, built into the very rock of the spire.
The tower of rock was gargantuan, perhaps four hundred feet
wide and about that distance in length; it was basically
square-shaped.  It loomed over the surrounding land, maybe
two hundred feet higher than ground level; the top could
not be seen from this angle.  Carved into the rocky tower's
sides at varying heights and angles were guard towers, and
though there were significantly more of these on the side
facing the canyon edge, no front remained unguarded.  These
rocky posts jutted outward from the main tower, and their
windows were covered with thick steel bars.  The trio could
see the vague outlines of people behind these bars, and
given the appearance of the whole place, these guards were
almost certainly armed with bows or crossbows.
  Two additional guard towers flanked the metal gates at
the fortress' end of the stone bridge, and a small gate-
house blocked the near side.  Under this building's roof
were a number of lanterns, which shone outward, bathing the
surrounding terrain in light despite the darkness that had
fallen.  In addition to this, several huge firepits had been
dug into the nearby ground, and the blazing flames within
these provided additional light as well as heat.
  Except for the small guardtowers built into the sides of
the huge rock tower, there were no visible windows.  Aside
from the large, metallic double doors that lay in wait on
the far side of the bridge, there were no visible doors or
other portals.  In fact, the inherent defensibility of the
place only now became apparent:  it was cut off from land
attacks, save for the stone bridge; it had no open windows
to ease along aerial attacks; it was massive, surely capable
of housing a thousand troops with ease.

Garn:  And the soldiers there aren't just your ordinary,
  run-of-the-mill grunts either.  No...we're talking about
  a crack military unit, well-drilled, well-trained...hmm,
  why am I telling you all of this?
Belphanior:  Because you're a nice guy?
Garn:  Hmph.  Anyway, the troops there are also...somewhat
  exceptional.  Creatures of myth and magic, some say.
Rillen:  Well, I guess we're going to find out.
Garn:  Oh, no.  No one gets in there without an express
  invitation from Lord Marcus himself.
Belphanior:  What about spies?  Double agents?
Rillen:  (wondering about his companion's experiences with
  such people)
Garn:  They say that Lord Marcus has the power to sense
  foes in his which point, of course, they will
  be summarily executed.
Belphanior:  Executed?  How?
Rillen:  That seems harsh.
Garn:  Believe you me, it's happened before.
Belphanior:  So, what happens to wandering visitors, like
Garn:  You see that lighted area near the gatehouse?  Any
  who wish to camp there are welcome to.
Rillen:  But no one goes inside.
Garn:  Right.
Belphanior:  I see guards watching us.
Rillen:  I would, too, if I were them.
wispy thing:  Fssss!  (it flies off into the canyon)
Garn:  We'd best make camp.  This place is a damn sight
  safer than...out there.  (he looks toward the south)
Rillen:  (spots some poles that the horses could be tied
Belphanior:  Good thing we were able to buy new horses at
  that other small town...
Garn:  Aye.  Walking around the wilderness is awfully slow.

  Thus it was that they camped outside Greyspire, on the
northern edge of the Riftcanyon.  True to the ranger's
claim, the area was safe from wandering monsters, none
of which approached during the night.  Though no one slept
easily, everyone did sleep safely, and the night passed
more quickly than might have been expected.

  Meanwhile, far away, in a familiar tavern...

Bosco:  Say, do you know how to put these stoppers back
  into the wine casks?
Peldor:  That's a tap, Bosco.  You leave it in and turn
  this handle, here.
Bosco:  Oh.  (pondering)  Got a mop?
Tanya:  (jumps out of the way of the spreading puddle)
  Geez, Bosco.
Bosco:  Hey, it wasn't _my_ fault!

(end of interlude)

  Late the next morning, as they ate breakfast, Rillen,
Belphanior, and Garn witnessed a strange group leaving
the fortress of Greyspire.  Besides a dozen or so well-
armed, rough-looking warrior-types, there were also a
hulking, blue-skinned ogre mage, a lean elf armed with a
quarterstaff, and the biggest, blackest wolf any of the
adventurers had ever seen.  All but the ogre mage and,
of course, the wolf were mounted on heavy warhorses.

Garn:  (quietly, to the other two)  That tall one in the
  center, that's Lord Marcus.

  The fellow in question was tall and powerfully built,
garbed in chain mail.  A longsword hung from his belt,
and a black cloak streamed forth behind him as he rode.
His dark skin, even darker than Garn's, marked him as
being of pure-blooded Flan descent.  Long black hair
complimented a somewhat youngish, handsome face, one
that yet conveyed a sense of great experience and power.
The general and his troops barely glanced at the three
adventurers as they rode by.

Garn:  I don't know about the others, though.
Belphanior:  (sizes the band up, and decides that they are
  indeed a formidable bunch)  Hmm.  I don't see any magi
  among them.  Well, there's that ogre mage, but you have
  to ask yourself, does he really count?
Garn:  (regarding the elf quizzically)
Rillen:  That wolf looks fierce.  I wonder if Halbarad
  could talk to it.
Garn:  Who's Halbarad?

  Marcus and his troops rode away to the west, seemingly
in a hurry, and the three adventurers returned to their
breakfast.  Within the hour, they mobilized, moving out
in a northward direction.  As they left the area, Rillen
thought that he might have seen a large grey form land
atop Greyspire, but if that's what it was, it was out of
sight within moments.

Rillen:  Huh?  (he blinks)  Must have been the sun...
Belphanior:  (looking eastward)  Long journey ahead.
Garn:  Now that we'll be east of the Tangles - that's a
  forested area - we can head northward, directly into...
  the Bandit Kingdoms.  Or Tenh.  Or maybe even the Rovers
  of the Barrens.  (he shrugs)
Belphanior:  Whatever.  (to Rillen)  Where exactly _are_
  you headed?
Rillen:  The wastelands to the north of the Rovers he just
  mentioned.  There I will find what I seek.  There I will
  learn the location of the great fighting tournament, to
  be held ten weeks hence.
Garn:  Aren't those things illegal?
Rillen:  In some lands, yes.
Belphanior:  A tournament, eh?  Hmm.  Maybe I should enter.
Rillen:  I wouldn't advise it.  No magic is allowed, and
  one must have extraordinary weaponless fighting skills
  to stand a chance at all.
Belphanior:  Oh.
Garn:  Well, I'll travel that way with you two.
wispy thing:  (appears from somewhere)  Fsssss?
Belphanior:  Three.
Rillen:  Well, let's get to it.

  With that, the small band rode away from Greyspire,
though Belphanior made a note of the place's location
on his map, and scribbled some notes in a small journal
that he had begun keeping after the Greyhawk debacle.
As they moved into the northeastern reaches of the Bandit
Kingdoms, they noted that the temperature had grown a bit
chillier of late.

next time :  ...

notes     :  Marcus is cut from the same piece of high-
  quality cloth that certain other personages of note
  are.  Let me offer some other names, ones that might
  ring a bell:  Kup Swiftfoot...Yod Ironbeard...his
  Holiness Relmar, of the Blinding Light.  There are
  others, who you shall meet when the time is right.
    Heck, maybe we'll even get a peek into Greyspire
  someday.  I can tell you this:  the place houses one
  of the most varied, and most powerful, private armies
  on Oerth.  Every guardtower built into the main spire
  is manned by a squad of skilled bowmen.  The main gate-
  house is manned in shifts, each of which includes more
  than one spellcaster.  Within the fortress itself are
  dozens of war machines, wagons, and the like; it also
  contains hundreds of hollowed-out rooms connected by
  mazes of tunnels...the place has natural supplies of
  water and pitch (for use in torch-making) and its
  larders are as deep as its wells.  A team of dwarven
  miners is constantly at work expanding and fortifying
  the place.  Aside from the human and demi-human
  contingent housed there, Greyspire contains other,
  more powerful giants.
    Marcus himself is a warrior on a par with Mongo or
  Rillen, and his commanding officers are all masters
  of their professions too.

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