Chapter #245

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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 copy-    +
+  right 1995 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):                +
+                                                                   +
+  Peldor       19th level human thief                         (N)  +
+   Date:       9/1/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+   Time:       late morning                                        +
+   Place:      the Green Dragon Inn                                +
+   Climate:    warm                                                +
+   "Professional assassination is the highest form of public       +
+    service."                                                      +
+                                   - Chiun, from _Remo Williams_   +

                   CCXLV.  Getting Established

  Having successfully remodeled The Green Dragon Inn, Peldor is in
fairly good spirits.  After a late breakfast, he has endeavored to
take a walk around the River Quarter...

Peldor:  (whistling as he eyeballs the various establishments in
  the area)  It's a fine day...

  Suddenly, two large, hulking goons came up, on either side of the

goon #1:  Are you Peldor, of the Green Dragon Inn?
Peldor:  (hand on his sword-hilt)  Maybe.
goon #2:  Relax, we're just here to tell you that someone wants to
  have a word with you.
Peldor:  (considers using his TK ring to push the goons aside)  Is
  that so?  Who might this person be?
goon #1:  Come with us.
Peldor:  (somewhat leery, he goes along, but keeps on his guard)

  They led him through several smaller side streets, and then into
the back door of a run-down dive of an inn, which Peldor noted was
named some species of weird fish.  The goons escorted him to a table
in one corner, where a middle-aged, fat fellow sat.  Peldor's first
impression of this man was that he was a thug; his scar-covered face
leered meanly, and he drummed his pudgy fingers on the table next
to his cup, as if the world should wait on him to do anything.

man:  Sit down.
Peldor:  Who the hell are you?
goons:  (six of them, rather brutish in appearance, they appear from
  nowhere, surrounding both Peldor and the man)
man:  Sit down, or my men will make you.
thug:  (puts his hand on Peldor's shoulder)
Peldor:  (decides not to resist, since he is outnumbered, and instead
  sits down)  Okay, who are you?
man:  I am called Tomas Ratek.  (he extends one greasy hand)

  Peldor shook the offered hand, though both men knew that it was
more of a formality than anything else.

Tomas:  You probably don't know this, but I'm the Master Thief for
  the River Quarter.
Peldor:  (having done some investigating already, he actually does
  know this, and more, but he plays along)  Really?
Tomas:  Yup.  You own that Green Dragon place, right?
Peldor:  That's correct.
Tomas:  (acting like he's some kind of genius)  Well.  From looking
  over your Guild membership information, and comparing some notes,
  I've realized that you employ several thieves in your place of
Peldor:  Only a few.
Tomas:  Nine, actually.
Peldor:  (knowing the number to be somewhat higher, he again plays
  dumb)  Yes.  What of it?
Tomas:  (seems to puff his chest out importantly)  Being in charge
  of this Quarter's thieving operations, I must say that I have to
  worry about any illegal activities you might be up to.
Peldor:  You mean unsanctioned activities.
Tomas:  Unsanctioned means illegal around here.  In River Quarter, I
  _am_ the Guild.  (leans in, close)  I hope you're not thinking of
  starting up your own guild.
Peldor:  (bursts out with laughter)  Oh, heavens, no!  That's a good
Tomas:  (only looks partially relieved)  Good.  Because, let me tell
  you-  (leers menacingly)  -I'm _in charge_ around here.  Anything
  illegal that you do, see, I find out, and shut you down.  Maybe getting rid of you permanently.
Peldor:  (adopts an innocent look)  Who, me?  I've done nothing...
  true, a few of my employees are also thieves, but I don't push
  them about it.  I guess I just happen to hire a lot of lowlifes.
  (he considers asking the pudgy Tomas if he'd like to get hired)
Tomas:  Well, it's good to hear that you're not up to anything.
  'Cause if you were, I'd have to put a stop to it, you understand?
Peldor:  Gotcha.
Tomas:  Glad we understand each other.  Now, get outta here.  But
  remember - I'll be watching.  If I don't see you start cleaning
  up your act, it'll'll be bad.
Peldor:  (gets up, gladly)  See you around.
Tomas:  Wait a minute...just one more thing.
Peldor:  Huh?
Tomas:  Collection day is Thursday.
Peldor:  Pardon?
Tomas:  Five percent of your total income.
Peldor:  But I'm not oper-
Tomas:  Five percent.  Thursdays.
Peldor:  That's outrageous!
Tomas:  Hey, it's Guild law.  Follow it, or get out of town.  Or
  be thrown out of town.  Dead or alive.
Peldor:  Very well.  (leaves)
Tomas:  (smirks)

  Though Tomas didn't seem quite sure that Peldor had gotten the
point, it appeared that he was content with having issued his threat
and asserted his power.  Peldor, however, was having none of it, and
as soon as he got back to his tavern, he spoke with a couple of the
more trusted employees about Tomas Ratek.  He learned that the man
had been the master thief for the River Quarter for several years,
but more through brute force than craftiness and cunning.

Peldor:  Exactly as I suspected.
Tanya:  Eh?
Peldor:  (cracks his knuckles)  We shall have to do something about
  this Tomas Ratek fellow.  I get the feeling he'll be watching me,
  leaning on me...maybe even blackmail?  Yes, we've got to deal with
Tanya:  Maybe we should wait and see what he does, if anything.
Peldor:  Yeah...

  However, while Peldor was waiting, Tomas Ratek was not content
to leave well enough alone.  The following day, three of Peldor's
employees were attacked by thugs, on their way to work.  Business
at the inn dropped somewhat that week - an unprecedented event, that
could have no natural cause.  At week's end, a mere five days after
his first appearance, Tomas returned to the inn, his six bodyguards
accompanying him.

Tomas:  You!  Stay right there.
Peldor:  Hi there.
Tomas:  (grinning)  Let's talk, you and I.
Peldor:  Really?
Tomas:  Now.  (looks around)  In a less public place.
Peldor:  This way.  (he leads the guests toward a small, private
  room)  Will this do?
Tomas:  (to his guards)  Wait outside.
bodyguard #1:  But-
Tomas:  I said outside!  (he and Peldor enter the chamber, and
  he closes the door)
bodyguards:  (outside, they spread out around the door)
Peldor:  What do you want?
Tomas:  By now, you've seen my power, my influence.  And I've had
  a while to examine your operation.  Hell, if I didn't know
  better, I'd think you were planning to start your own thieves'
  guild, right in your own basement!
Peldor:  That's a load of-
Tomas:  (beams)  My agents are everywhere...and they have sharp
  eyes and ears.  I hope I'm not forced to bring this up to the
  Guild Masters...
Peldor:  It's not true!  I-
Tomas:  (he rubs his fat chin)  You know, you're in big trouble.
  I could have you shut down and exiled from the city for the very
  planning of this offense.  However...I understand that you are a
  very wealthy man.
Peldor:  Err...yes.  That's one way of putting it.
Tomas:  Therefore, I am offering you a chance to avoid all the legal
  trouble and red tape that my investigation would bring.
Peldor:  How considerate of you.
Tomas:  Of course, you will, in return, you will pay me a hundred
  pieces of gold per month - on top of the five percent.
Peldor:  Whew, that's awfully high!
Tomas:  Live with it.  Cooperate, or you're out of the city.  Believe
  me, I have the power to get rid of you if you don't pay up.  And I
  know you have the money.
Peldor:  Hmm.  I still say your fee is pretty high.
Tomas:  It's the price you pay.  You're really too ambitious for
  your own good.
Peldor:  (looking resigned)  Very well.
Tomas:  Excellent.  My men will be around to keep an eye on you.
  I'll come in person to collect my fees.  (he leaves)  Have a nice
Peldor:  (looking troubled, he enters the inn's main dining room)
Tanya:  (instantly senses that something is wrong)    Hmm...(to a
  subordinate)  Take over for a while.  (she follows Peldor upstairs
  to his bedroom)
Peldor:  (closes the door)  We have a problem.
Tanya:  Care to tell me about it?
Peldor:  Yeah, I suppose it would help...

  Peldor told her everything, and it was good therapy, allowing him
to re-order the facts in his mind.  Tanya listened intently, asking
minor questions and clarifying certain details.

Tanya:  This _is_ a major problem.
Peldor:  Damn that Tomas!  We've got to do something about the fat
Tanya:  Yes, but the question is, what?
Peldor:  Damn, I wish Belphanior was still around.
Tanya:  But didn't he-
Peldor:  Yeah, he's gone.
Tanya:  What can you do, then?
Peldor:  I honestly don't know...but I'm sure I'll come up with some-
Tanya:  You always do.  (she begins massaging his back)
Peldor:  Ahh...(he rolls over)
Tanya:  Oh!

  It seemed that there were even better therapies for stress than
talking over one's problems.

Tanya:  Feeling better?
Peldor:  Yes, indeed.  (he kisses her lightly)  I'll think on this,
  for awhile...and then I'll act!

  And he did; for the next several nights, Peldor was absent from the
inn, instead roaming the streets and taverns of the River Quarter.
He used his hat of disguise to assume various identities, and in them
he did quite a bit of surveillance on Tomas Ratek.  Peldor quickly
learned the man's patterns, his various personal ownings and business
interests, his home, his frequently-visited places, what he liked to
drink, the fact that some of his bodyguards were always at his side -
everything.  Peldor also studied the laws and policies, both written
and unwritten, of the Free City and its Thieves' Guild, and shortly,
he hit upon a plan.  His plan left certain elements to chance, but
Peldor was counting on certain reactions from certain people, based
on the intelligence he had gathered.  One night, he made his way to
one of Tomas' more frequented establishments in the River Quarter.
After making sure that the master thief and his bodyguards were
drinking and carousing within, Peldor ventured to Tomas' house, a
somewhat run-down, two-story building several streets away.  While
still in the darkness of a nearby alley, the adventurer used his
magical hat to disguise himself...

guards at door of Tomas' house:  (seeing their leige strolling up)
  Lord and master!  Where are your bodyguards?
Tomas:  (frowns)  I sent them home.  Now step aside, I'm in a hurry.
  (he walks by, seeming angry)
guards:  (though it occurs to them that this is unusual, they don't
  think much of it, not wishing to incur Tomas' wrath)

  His disguise having worked to perfection, Peldor entered the house,
quickly ascertaining which rooms were which.  The house seemed fairly
unoccupied - apparently Tomas was unmarried and didn't retain many
servants.  After checking a couple of rooms on the ground floor, he
headed upstairs, approaching a double door at the end of the hall.

Tomas/Peldor:  (muttering)  That's got to be it.  (he tries the
  handles, finding them locked in place)  Hmm.  (quickly producing
  two skeleton keys, he goes to work)

  The lock was complicated, but Peldor was, after all, a master; the
doors were opened within fifteen seconds.  Beyond, he found a large,
luxuriously appointed bedchamber, with expensive furniture and many
paintings and tapestries.  It seemed that Tomas Ratek fancied himself
an art collector; Peldor liked to think he knew better.

Peldor:  Hmm.  (checking behind the various wall decorations, one at
  a time)

  Quickly, he located a wall safe, small but sturdy, mounted in the
wall behind a painting of a red dragon.  The thing had a complicated
combination lock, which virtually negated Peldor's chances of opening
it in less than an hour.

Peldor:  No matter...I came prepared.  (he produces two glass vials,
  and applies their contents to the safe's door edges and hinges)

  The green jelly, a powerful acid made from rare slimes and oozes,
quickly dissolved the steel of the safe's door, and Peldor (using
his magical ring, to keep acid off of his hands) was able to pull
the weakened door off.  Within were several sheafs of documents and
a small pouch, all of which Peldor lifted from the ruined safe with
the powers of his ring.  A series of poison-needle traps, triggered
by the motion, went off as the papers floated by.

Peldor:  Ah, clever.  (flipping through the papers)  Perfect...this
  is perfect.  I couldn't have asked for more if I'd had a wish.
  (he looks inside the pouch, finding six medium-sized diamonds)

  After checking his disguise in a mirror, Peldor left the bedroom,
went downstairs, and walked out Tomas' front door, the master thief's
most treasured possessions secure in one pocket.

Tomas/Peldor:  (to the guards at the gate)  I shall be out for a bit.
  Keep a careful watch...I have a feeling there are thieves about
  tonight.  (he strolls away)
guard#1:  (somewhat relieved)  Whew.  The boss didn't seem himself.
guard#2:  Yeah, no kidding.  Maybe he's not feeling well.

  Wasting no time, Peldor next paid a visit to the Wheel of Gold,
one of the city's finest gambling houses, where he located, and then
sought audience with, one of the place's more distinguished guests.
This was a difficult undertaking, and ended up requiring a couple of
serious bribes (or fees, if one preferred.)

Peldor:  (having been led to a dark room, where a figure sits in
  deep shadows against one wall)  Say, aren't you-
figure:  You are the thief known as Peldor.  We have watched your
  progress, over the years.  You now own the Green Dragon Inn, yes?
Peldor:  Err, that's right.
figure:  What is your business with us?
Peldor:  I'll get right to the point, then.
figure:  Please do.
Peldor:  This Tomas Ratek fellow...I'm new in town, and he's giving
  me quite a bit of trouble.  Accusations, threats, illegal fees...
  you name it.
figure:  Indeed.  You don't suppose his accusations have any
  basis in fact, do you?
Peldor:  Of course not - unlike him, I'm not stupid.
figure:  (seems to ponder this)  So, what do you want with me?
Peldor:  Well, now that you ask...(produces a sheaf of papers)  I
  took the liberty of borrowing these from Tomas.  They detail all
  the illegal money he's made over the last several years...all his
  scams...all his agents...even some assassinations he's financed.
  It's all there.
figure:  (clearly surprised)  You stole these from Tomas himself?
Peldor:  Not even an hour ago.
figure:  You must be a thief of no small skill, then.
Peldor:  True...(looking through the papers)  I believe that what I
  hold in my hand could ruin Tomas Ratek in this city.
figure:  I see.  Hand the papers over.
Peldor:  Also, I acquired these gems...(he hands the pouch of gems
  over with the documents)  I thought that a donation to the Guild
  might help...prove my sincerity in this matter.
figure:  (takes both)  Very well.  We shall look into this matter.
  Tomas may require an attitude adjustment.
Peldor:  It's hopeless, if you ask me.
figure:  I didn't.
Peldor:  Well, Tomas has to be out of line.  He claims to be working
  under Guild law, but this can't be right.  I can't find the "laws"
  he quotes anywhere.
figure:  We shall look into this.  Go about your business.
Peldor:  But I p-  I want an answer!
figure:  We will be in touch, if necessary.  You may go.
Peldor:  Very well.  (he leaves and walks out onto the street)  Hmm.
  (heads back toward the Green Dragon Inn, absentmindedly fingering
  the single diamond still in his pocket)

  Two events of import occurred within the next twenty-four hours;
one was publicly known, while the other was quite private.  Word
quickly spread around the city the next morning - Tomas Ratek, an
art dealer and proprietor of some renown (and holder of other, less
publicly-known titles, as some knew) had disappeared, completely
and utterly.  Even the man's own bodyguards, always within earshot
of their leige, knew nothing.  It was one of the greatest mysteries
that had come along in years.  No one knew where Tomas might have
gone, of course, but the man had not been well-liked, and nobody
was heard to complain about the incident.
  The same morning, Peldor received a summons, and proceeded with
due haste to an office within the Thieves' Guild.  He was checked
for weapons (they even got all but one of his thieves' picks) and
ushered into a dark, quiet room.

man in chair:  Greetings.  Have a seat.
Peldor:  (sits down)  Your voice sounds familiar.
man:  (of average height, and stocky, with blond hair)  I am, of
  course, Org Nenshen, Guildmaster of Thieves here in Greyhawk.
Peldor:  Yes.  I have spoken with you recently.
Org:  (smiles faintly)  Perhaps.
Peldor:  I heard a piece of alarming news this morning.
Org:  Tomas was becoming too ambitious for his own good...or ours.
  Good riddance, I say.
Peldor:  (has a notion)  He's dead?
Org:  That's one way of putting it.
Peldor:  You killed him!  I mean, you really killed him...
Org:  Not I.  (he waves to nobody in particular)

  Just then, "nobody" emerged from the shadows.  The fellow was of
indeterminate height, perhaps six feet, but Peldor, skilled though
he was with disguises, couldn't tell for sure.  Similarly, the
assassin's build and facial features were hidden by the dark clothes
and hood that he wore.

Org:  (to the shadowy figure)  No traces, they say.  Excellent work.
assassin:  (in a low, flat voice, almost a whisper)  Of course...
Peldor:  Yes, most impressive.  You don't happen to know a tall,
  crazy elf named Belphanior?
assassin:  Yes, I know of him...I'll do him for ten thousand.  All
  in advance.
Peldor:  Ulp.  No, err, that's not what I meant.
Org:  (tosses a small pouch to the assassin, who catches it deftly)
  Until next time.
assassin:  (nods slightly, and vanishes)
Peldor:  Not a man of many words, that one.  I don't suppose he has
  a name?
Org:  Not a real one that anybody knows of; he goes by "Whisper" now.
  I just wanted you to have an idea of the kind of talent that we can
  call upon, when the need arises.
Peldor:  (nods)  Such as Tomas.
Org:  Of course.  What fool would allow a slithering cobra to remain
  in his midst?   Besides, while such an event might be expected to
  cause quite a stir, you must bear in mind that this isn't quite
  Greyhawk's High Quarter, and Tomas Ratek had not exactly been
  popular with the Thieves' Guild, the City Guard, or anyone else
  for that matter.  In other words, no one really cares about the
  disappearance of a two-bit thug like Tomas.
Peldor:  Hmm, I can see your point.
Org:  There.  I must say, Peldor, I'm impressed.  When you came to
  us with this...problem, I wasn't surprised - we had long seen the
  ambition of that now-dead idiot - but your help in exposing him
  was of great use.
Peldor:  Thanks.  Of course, you provided the important element...
Org:  Well, Tomas was becoming worrisome to us.  Meaning, frankly,
  that the time had come to get rid of him.  Hmm.  (he ponders)
  Indeed, I find it hard to believe that we ever let the vile toad
  ascend to his position.
Peldor:  Well, it does boggle the mind.
Org:  Of course, I'm going to have to find somebody to replace him
  in the River Quarter...a new Master Thief for that area.  (turns
  to Peldor again)  How long have you been a paying Guildmember?
Peldor:  Since I opened the inn, almost two years; I paid dues
  whenever I was in the city, though, for years before that.
Org:  Hmm.  (he rubs his chin)  Much to consider...(to Peldor)
  Go now.  I shall be in touch.
Peldor:  Sure thing, friend.  (he leaves)

  That evening, over a fine dinner at the lofty Patricians' Club,
the Quarter Masters of the Thieves' Guild held a private meeting,
presided over by Org himself.
  The following day, Peldor was summoned back to Org's office;
when he arrived, the Guildmaster posed to him a certain question.

Org:  (smiling carefully)  How would you like to be the Guild's
  Master Thief for the River Quarter?

next time :  more misadventures

notes     :  More information on the inhabitants of the Green Dragon
  Inn (consider it a supplement to last episode's maps etc.):

                 THE GREEN DRAGON INN, pt. 2

  Of the 41 employees at the Green Dragon, 17 are actually Peldor's
followers, people who flocked to him once he established himself in
the city.  Most of these are thieves, though a few (notably the
bouncers among the 17) are warriors.  A breakdown of the inn's staff

Position          #  unusual ones (* indicates a loyal follower)
cooks             6  human F3*, dwarven F3/T2*, gnomish T4*
bartenders        4  Tanya (human T11/F5, head bartender)
bouncers          8  Vinnie (human F8, head bouncer),
                         dwarven F6*, human F5*, human F4*, human F3,
                         half-orc F3/T3*, human F2*, human T2*
serving wenches  12  (all human) T2*, T2*, T1*, T1*, T1
card dealers      4  human T4*, elven T3*, human T2
maids             7  human T3*, human T2, human T1*

  Bosco fits into the picture however he likes, though usually he
can be found in the casino, throwing money around like it was free.
Vinnie, head bouncer, is technically a hireling, but he is also
one of Peldor's closest friends.  As for Tanya...well, there's no
clear-cut category to describe her.
  It is an unspoken agreement that Peldor or one of the others will
help any aspiring young thieves among the staff, with training and
equipment issues; Peldor has ensured that they are all registered
with the Thieves' Guild, though he also made sure they avoided any
references to their common place of employment.  While the staff are
warned not to steal from the Green Dragon Inn's customers - a firing
offense - they are also encouraged to frequent Greyhawk's other inns
and taverns, plying their trade as they see fit.  One of Peldor's
employee benefits (along with a good salary and free meals) is that
he will loan the bail money for any of his staff members who end up
in jail, should they get arrested for anything less than murder or
  The six cooks, while not of the caliber employed by the Golden
Phoenix, are nevertheless quite skilled, and bring with them the
collective culinary arts of many lands and races.  They work in
rotating shifts, such that at least two are always working; at some
times four or five, or even all six, are cooking simultaneously.
  The four bartenders (three human men, and Tanya) are among the
most competent in the city; they can mix and serve drinks to half
the inn, while never mixing up orders.  Tanya is in charge of the
group, and she works when she pleases, while each of the others
rotates on a shift.
  The eight bouncers are a respected lot, led by the 6'8", 330 lb.
Vinnie.  It is seldom necessary for more than three or four to
work at once, except at night.  Of all the inn's employees, the
bouncers tend to be the most overworked, often pulling double or
late shifts.  For this reason, they are very well-paid.  All are
loyal to Vinnie, which pretty much makes them loyal to Peldor too.
  The twelve serving wenches are, to a surprisingly large extent,
thieves of some experience who are loyal to Peldor.  This is because
he feels it important to size up his guests, listen in on their
conversations, and such.  Who knows what contacts could be made by
exploiting some need or desire of a customer?  Peldor has instructed
his serving wenches to keep their eyes and ears open for anything
interesting, and if the inn's master isn't in the house, Tanya can
usually take care of business.
  The 4 card dealers are all experienced in their work, three moreso
than the fourth.  Their job is to run the gambling tables and make
sure the guests don't cheat.  Though the dealers have very little
experience in fighting, there are usually one or two bouncers in the
casino, in case something happens.  Typically, one dealer begins
work in the morning, and is joined by a second later that afternoon,
when things pick up.  The third and fourth come in in the evening,
and work until the casino shuts down.
  The 7 maids have the job of cleaning and preparing the inn's guest
rooms, a decidedly thankless job, for which they are paid more than
one might suspect.  Like the serving wenches, the maids have been
instructed to keep alert for anything unusual, and report it to the
management.  Between the serving wenches and the maids, Peldor is
privy to a lot of interesting tidbits and gossip.

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