previous chapter (#248)
next chapter (#250)
+ 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 +
+ firstname.lastname@example.org +
+ THE PARTY (or more accurately, a fragment of it): +
+ Belphanior 13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN) +
+ Peldor 19th level human thief (N) +
+ Bosco 10th level halfling thief (N) +
+ Date: 9/25/574 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: the middle of the night +
+ Place: the sewers beneath Greyhawk +
+ Climate: warm and humid +
+ "Men have become the tools of their tools." +
+ - Henry David Thoreau +
CCXLIX. The Fate of Angus
After a long, tiring day of fighting ghouls and shapeshifters,
and wandering through miles of sewers, the three thieves have set
out to find Belphanior's iron golem.
Bosco: (looking bleakly at the sewer walls around the trio) You
say you can find your golem down here?
Belphanior: Absolutely. (holds up his magical compass) In fact,
Peldor: Angus...where'd you get a name like that?
Belphanior: (shrugs) It came to me in a dream. There was also
some strange music playing, and a lot of light and explosions.
(looks around) Let's take this pipe. I think it'll lead us
right where we want to go.
Peldor: Very well...lead on.
Belphanior: Sure. (he strides away, as if he owns the sewers)
Bosco: (almost in a daze, no doubt thinking about warm food and a
Peldor: C'mon, Bosco. Let's find the golem and get out of this
Bosco: Now you're talkin'! (they follow Belphanior)
Using his compass, the elf led them down the pipe. They soon
passed a side pipe, but didn't investigate it. However, a bit
later, Belphanior decided that they needed to go back.
Belphanior: The compass only gives raw direction...we still have
to navigate this maze. Let's get back to that side pipe.
Bosco: (trudging along now)
They returned to the side tunnel, and took it this time. After
ten more uneventful minutes, Belphanior suddenly stopped, looking
Belphanior: There must be a secret or concealed door around here
somewhere, close at hand. The compass marks Angus at about fifty
paces that way. (points at a blank wall)
Bosco: (examining the wall) Nothing I can see...
Peldor: (he and Belphanior quickly join the halfling - and have no
luck; there is no secret door here)
Belphanior: (scanning the wall with his glowing, red eye) Damn!
Peldor: (produces a scroll) Maybe this will help.
Peldor: I got it from the drow, too.
Belphanior: What, are they making scrolls for you now?
Peldor: Not exactly...but they owe me. This spell is supposed to
make a magical doorway, allowing us to bypass barriers...including
Bosco: (looking eagerly at the scroll) Hey, I wanna-
Belphanior: Let me see that. (takes the scroll from Peldor) Ah, a
dimension door! Excellent.
Peldor: I've begun casting spells from scrolls now. That's a skill
known only to master thieves, you know.
Bosco: Like me!
Belphanior: Even you, Bosco.
Bosco: I wanna try this time! Let me read the spell!
Peldor: Nope, can't do it this time, Bosco. Maybe next time.
Belphanior: (muttering) Maybe an unseen servant or Tenser's disc.
Belphanior: Actually, Peldor, it's _I_ who should read that scroll.
Me being a mage and all...I run no risk of failure.
Peldor: Fine by me.
Peldor: Next time, Bosco.
Belphanior: (begins reading the scroll) Hmm, fifty paces...we
don't want to materialize inside a wall and get bumped to the
Astral Plane...let's say forty paces.
Momentarily, an extradimensional portal appeared in the wall; it
led to a dark area which they couldn't see too well.
Belphanior: Trust me, it goes to our destination. Between my skill
with magic and my compass, I've got this triangulated perfectly.
(he steps into the corridor) Come on.
Bosco: (also follows, now thinking of ways _he_ could get the drow
to make scrolls for him)
They moved quickly through the dimension door, and emerged into
a rubble-filled chamber. Recently, something above this room had
collapsed, bringing rocks and dirt down in a torrent. Imbedded in
a four-foot high bank of debris was a dusty, but familiar figure.
Belphanior: (points) Angus.
Belphanior: Told ya he was down here.
There was something strange, though. Arrayed around the visible
parts of the golem were a multitude of short, froglike creatures.
creature: (looks up as the three thieves appear from thin air)
Bosco: Hey, big croaking frogs!
Belphanior: Mmm...frog legs...
The frog-creatures were about two feet long, but in other respects
resembled normal frogs - except that these had human-like arms, which
were totally out of place on their squat bodies. There were about
twenty of them in this chamber.
Peldor: (looking around, he notices how the things have circled the
half-buried golem) Hey, I think they think Angus is some kind of
Bosco: (perhaps more intimidated by the frogs than his two larger
comrades, he begins wondering how far the creatures can jump)
creature: (louder this time) Ribbit!
Belphanior: Enough of this. (to Angus) Angus!
Belphanior: Free yourself!
Angus: (shedding dust and dirt like a second skin, begins breaking
free of the rubble)
frog-creatures: (croaking and burping in awe and fear, they quickly
prostrate themselves before the golem)
Belphanior: Hmm...(to Angus) Point at the far exit from this room.
Angus: (does so)
frog-creatures: (looking at the exit fearfully)
Belphanior: (to Angus) Stamp your foot.
Angus: (obeys, shaking the sewer floor)
frog-creatures: (panic, and bolt toward the exit, hopping along
pitifully) Croak, ribbit, gronk, urp...
Peldor: (watches the last of them exit) They just lost their god,
Belphanior: Tough luck. I need my golem more than they need their
god. (he inspects Angus, and the ceiling, and the rubble) I'd
guess that when they demolished my building, months ago, Angus was
still in the basement where I'd left him.
Bosco: What was he doing down _there_?
Belphanior: He's too heavy to hang around on the top floors, Bosco.
They were made of wood, and Angus weighs about 5000 pounds.
Bosco: Oh, really? Wow.
Peldor: So you think the basement floor collapsed?
Belphanior: Something like that. I had a hatch going into the
sewers anyway - Angus must have walked or fallen onto it, and come
crashing downward. He probably broke through a level of sewer
before coming to a stop here. The collapsing building masked his
fall, I guess.
Peldor: I thought Angus had standing orders to attack any intruders
who entered your home?
Belphanior: He did...but I'd think they didn't enter the basement
in the course of demolishing the building. As for this room, it
doesn't exactly count as my home. Angus probably just went inert
when he landed here. Those frog-things were no threat, and they
seem to have left him alone. Fortunately for them.
Bosco: Yeah, I'll say!
Belphanior: Besides, golems and instructions are a tricky thing,
almost as tricky as casting certain spells on them. You never
really know what'll work and what won't. Of course, I created
Peldor: Hmm...I can hear it now: "Golem accidentally falls two
stories, becomes idol of subterranean frogs."
Bosco: Wow. Who'd have thought it?
Belphanior: Obviously not you. (to Angus) We have to shrink you.
Angus: (stands there)
Belphanior: I have the spell memorized already.
About an hour later, they emerged from the sewers, onto a mostly-
deserted side street. Belphanior had put the shrunken Angus in one
pocket, and had also cast invisibility upon himself, just in case;
however, it seemed highly unlikely that anyone would recognize him
right now. They replaced the sewer lid, and Peldor led them to one
of the city bathhouses.
Bosco: Baths? I wanna eat! Why can't we go back to the inn?
Peldor: Because everyone within smelling distance would know where
Bosco: (looks at the crap all over himself) Oh.
Belphanior: Will this place wash the filth from our clothes, too?
Peldor: While we bathe.
Belphanior: They can do that? In the span of an hour-long bath?
Peldor: Trust me, I've seen it happen.
Belphanior: (shrugs and smirks) Excellent.
Within ten minutes, they were relaxing in three adjacent wooden
tubs, filled to the brim with very hot water. Of course, Bosco's
tub was little more than a washbasin...
Bosco: Yow! This water's HOT!
Belphanior: Oh, settle down, Bosco.
Peldor: Yeah, even halflings need baths from time to time.
Bosco: Bah. I bet you'd never get _Mongo_ in here!
Belphanior: He has a point.
Over the long course of the baths, Belphanior answered the myriad
questions that Peldor (and the ever-inquisitive Bosco) had for him.
Belphanior: Attacking the city guard? Where I've been? What I'll
do with Angus? Rillen? The wispy thing? The charges against me?
Slow down, one thing at a time.
Peldor: Very well.
First, Belphanior told the story of how he ended up attacking city
officials and blasting off the top of a building. Bosco seemed to
enjoy this story, and Peldor had to remind him that there were harsh
penalties for such behavior. Next, the elf detailed his and Rillen's
adventures in the northwest, culminating with the great fighting
tournament that Rillen fought in.
Bosco: So this Loo Khan guy was making _zombies_ out of the beaten
Peldor: _Lao_ Khan.
Belphanior: Zombies? Who knows for sure? He was up to something,
though. But Rillen kicked his ass, and good.
Bosco: This Otto guy sounds cool. Where is he?
Belphanior: He's with Rillen right now. They should be in the
Green Dragon Inn right now...no doubt eating and drinking with
Peldor: ...where we ought to be.
Belphanior: In time. Otto and Rillen can walk freely in the city,
since they aren't wanted.
Bosco: Hey, it's good to be wanted.
Peldor: A sign of power, right, Bosco?
Belphanior: Yeah, it has been quite a bit of fun.
Bosco: Don't forget, though, you're still wanted. I wonder what
the reward is?
Belphanior: (his eye glows bright red)
Bosco: Not that anyone in their right mind would try and collect!
Peldor: (to Belphanior) So, where's the wispy thing?
Belphanior: That one, I can't tell you. It disappeared as soon as
we entered the anti-magic zone around Lao Khan's island, and I
haven't seen it since. It might be dispelled, or it might be
Bosco: Could be anywhere...! (he looks into his own bathwater)
Peldor: Hmm. So, this tournament, and the battle, was merely five
Peldor: Then...how'd you get here from there? That has to be,
what, almost a hundred leagues away?
Belphanior: Teleportation, my friend. The horse-and-carriage of
the archmage world.
Belphanior: I brought Rillen and Otto with me. I figured it was
the least I could do. Rillen almost didn't go, though - he had
a good time among all those other warriors. But in the end, he
Bosco: Hey, let's go eat!
Peldor: Soon, yes. I can only imagine the great meal I'm going
to have them cook for us.
Belphanior: Yeah, I am kinda hungry. Slaying weird fuckers gets
my appetite going in a hurry.
Bosco: So, why'd you come back? To Greyhawk, I mean.
Belphanior: I had to return, to get Angus.
Bosco: But why?
Belphanior: (lowers his voice to a whisper, despite the fact that
they are in a private bathchamber) Lao Khan's anti-magic sphere
is stored in a thick, heavy square of lead and gold. It's pretty
heavy, and I can't carry it, even on a good wagon. But Angus can.
Peldor: Hmm. (thinking) If this thing is as powerful as you say
Belphanior: Believe me, it is.
Peldor: -then why would you want to take it anywhere? Hell, it'd
nullify all the magic in any city you brought it to!
Peldor: (looks shocked)
Belphanior: But _within the metal box_ the sphere is powerless.
Bosco: (thinking of a life without magic) Good.
Peldor: But you want it anyway.
Belphanior: I want its power. I want to be able to cancel magic
on a wide scale, if I need to. Think of the potential during
Peldor: Whatever. Just don't bring it here...
Belphanior: Actually, that's my dilemma. I need it close at hand,
but I'm something of a wanderer. I need to bury the box somewhere
close to Greyhawk, or wherever else I am.
Bosco: Can't you do something to make it more portable?
Belphanior: I doubt it. I could shrink the lead box, but that
wouldn't affect the sphere inside. It's too big to fit in a bag
of holding...and I'm not sure I want to risk putting the thing
into a portable hole.
Peldor: Hmm, a dilemma indeed.
Belphanior: No, I'm convinced that the only thing to do is get it
near here, and then bury it. Deep. (rubbing his chin) It could
only be found magically by someone who knew of its existence.
Bosco: People wouldn't sense its power, even deep in the ground?
Belphanior: Not if it's inside the lead box.
Peldor: (getting a headache) This is too much.
Belphanior: Aw, come on! I haven't even told you about my plans
to take revenge on the city...
Peldor: (looks quite serious)
Belphanior: Hah! Just kidding!
Peldor: I hope so. I've got a lot at stake in the city nowadays,
and I'd hate to see you set it on fire or something.
Belphanior: No, no, no. There are only a handful of people here
who are guilty of cheating me. If - when - I deal with them, it
will be just with them. I can't tell you more than that.
Bosco: You can't?
Peldor: Good...I'm not sure I want to know.
After finishing their baths (attendants had come in periodically
with fresh water, causing Belphanior to stop talking until they left)
and dressing - in their now clean and dry clothes - the trio headed
to the Green Dragon Inn. Belphanior wasn't wearing his red cloak,
and his hair was considerably longer than it had been the last time
he was in Greyhawk. He actually didn't look like an elf at all, and
at Peldor's urging, he opted not to become invisible.
Peldor: Hell, you can't be _too_ worried about it. After all, you
somehow got into the city, and then the sewers.
Peldor: I assure you, there's no risk.
Belphanior: (cracks a grin) You realize that if you're wrong, much
blood will be spilt as they try to capture me...?
Peldor: Don't worry.
Bosco: (since the Green Dragon is now ahead, and dinner seems closer
than ever, he is grinning like a loon) What, me worry?
They entered the place separately (Belphanior last, and on his own
because Peldor had realized that a lot of eyes could be on him when
he returned) and re-convened at a corner table.
Bosco: You know, I've never seen anyone we don't know sitting at
this particular corner table...
Peldor: It's a kind of magic, I guess.
Tanya: (takes a break from the bar, and joins the trio, bringing a
large pitcher of ice-cold beer and four glasses) Glad to see you
made it out alive.
Bosco: Not as glad as we are.
Tanya: (to Belphanior) Nice to see you again. How are things?
Belphanior: Stable, for the moment. (pours himself a drink, and
drains half of it in one swig)
Tanya: Did you find Bosco's friend?
Belphanior: He got wasted by-
Peldor: (puts a hand on the elf's shoulder) Let's not discuss that
Bosco: (looking unhappy)
Belphanior: Oh. (returns his attention to his beer)
Tanya: Well, anyway, here's an update. Your other friends are at
that table across the way...(she points)
Peldor: Rillen! And that mean-looking dwarf, is that Otto?
Tanya: Also, Mongo, Ged and Arnold came by for lunch. They asked
Belphanior: (looks shocked)
Tanya: Not _you_. (to Peldor) I told them that you and Bosco
were away, and that they should come back tomorrow.
Peldor: Sounds good.
Bosco: (looking uneasy) Hey, aren't we forgetting something?
Belphanior: Why, yes! (he produces the miniature Angus from his
pocket) Peldor, we've got to stash Angus somewhere before the
spell I cast expires. (thoughtfully) Should be any minute now.
Peldor: Sure, I'll stash him in the wine cellar. (takes the tiny
figurine) He won't attack anyone who comes down there, will he?
Belphanior: No. (to Angus) Remain still and attack no one until
I come to get you.
Peldor: I'd better do this myself. (he gets up and heads for the
Tanya: You found your golem, then. Good news.
Belphanior: Yes, indeed.
Bosco: Err...the forgetting part wasn't about the golem. It was
about the shapeshifters.
Belphanior: Dead meat, and good riddance. So what?
Bosco: We found four sewer worker bodies...and one noble body.
Belphanior: (his eyes gleam, one moreso than the other) ...and
we only fought and killed the four.
Tanya: Huh? Shapeshifters? What in the world are you talking
Otto: (strolls up to the table, Rillen looming behind him) Yeah,
Bosco: (extends a hand to the dwarf) Hi, I'm Bosco.
Otto: (regards the halfling for a moment, then shakes his hand)
Pleased to meet you. I guess we're gonna be partners in crime
before too long.
Bosco: Maybe, if we rob anyone.
Otto: Looking forward to it.
Rillen: (ignoring the two short people, he addresses Belphanior)
What's this about shapeshifters?
Belphanior: Well, you see...
Quickly and efficiently, the two thieves filled them in on the
events of the sewer-exploration trip. Peldor rejoined the group
during this explanation, and nodded his head to punctuate certain
Belphanior: So. Missing: one noble who's not really a noble.
Rillen: So? Find him - it - and destroy it. (shrugs)
Bosco: I don't even remember what he looks like.
Peldor: I do. That sack I stashed in the cellar next to Angus
has the noble's body, remember?
Bosco: Oh yeah.
Belphanior: So, what are you going to do? Show up at the next
Oligarchs' meeting with the guy's head, and ask them who it is?
Rillen: That might be the best way.
Otto: Hey, works for me.
Tanya: (looks at Peldor) What _will_ you do?
Peldor: I'll think of something. The important thing right now
is that this matter is kept secret.
Rillen: (regarding Belphanior) It would seem that a lot here
tonight needs to be kept secret.
Belphanior: No one can identify me. Not unless I do something
very, very rash.
Bosco: Hey, what are the chances of _that_ happening?
Peldor: (looking around) We've almost got everybody, except for
Ged, Mongo, Arnold, and the drow.
Bosco: (snickers) Who needs all those clowns?
Rillen: They have their uses, sometimes.
Otto: Drow? What drow?
Before too long, they were eating a hearty meal, and this event
progressed long into the night. Peldor had his staff prepare rooms
for all the guests; he was always heavily booked, but also kept a
few rooms open for special guests and whatnot.
Belphanior: I think we fall into the whatnot category. But thanks
for the room. It'll be good to know I'm sleeping under a roof
that's not hostile.
Peldor: Don't worry on that account. You're safe and snug here.
Rillen: (pats his stomach) And full.
Tanya: You ought to be! You ate most of a lamb!
Bosco: I bet Mongo could eat more.
Otto: Who cares?
Bosco: (looking sad) I just wish that Carey was alive and well,
eating dinner here with us.
small, wimpy-looking halfling: <bamf> (appears at the table next
to Bosco) <sniff sniff> Something smells gooooood...
Carey: (looks around) Huh? Where am I?
Belphanior: Welcome to hell. I'm Asm-
Peldor: (interrupts) Carey? You're Carey?
Carey: Yeah, the one and only.
Bosco: He's alive! (dancing with joy) Alive!!!
Belphanior: (frowns, then grimaces) Fuck me! The little peck had
Tanya: Peck? What's a peck?
Bosco: (now the center of attention) Wish? Oh, yeah, that wish!
(coolly) I've been saving that up...(he happily resumes eating
Carey: Last thing I remember, I was thinking about heading into
the sewers. I can't for the life of me remember why, though.
Peldor: Er, I wouldn't think too much about it, if I were you.
Carey: Nope! I'm too hungry. (he begins grabbing food)
Belphanior: (groaning) Why, oh why? What a waste of a wish.
Otto: You got that right.
Belphanior: (looking tired) Time to hit the sack. (he stands)
Good night to you all.
Everyone bid everyone else good-night, and one by one, they left
the table and retired for the evening. Tanya went back to the bar,
and Peldor sat, deep in thought, for a while longer. At last, he
went to Bosco's room.
Peldor: (enters after the halfling opens the door) Okay, Bosco,
out with it. Where'd you get that kind of power?
Peldor: The wish!
Bosco: All I said was "I wish- <mmph>
Peldor: (his hand clamped over Bosco's mouth) Don't say that
_again_! What if you have another wish?
Bosco: Oh. Right.
Peldor: Obviously, someone or something granted you a wish, or
wishes, at some point.
Bosco: (thinking hard) Hey, I got it! The queen must've given
it to me.
Peldor: When did you meet a queen?
Bosco: Not a queen. The queen. From that set of magical cards.
Just before I lost my soul, years ago!
Peldor: Well...I'll be damned! (something occurs to him) Wait
a minute. I was supposed to get a keep...among other things.
But I never went and found the damned thing!
Bosco: It could be anywhere...
Peldor: (excited) A keep...wait, what would I _do_ with a keep?
Bosco: Sell it?
Peldor: I need to find it first.
Bosco: (ruminating to himself) Wishes...I got some wishes...
(frowns) How many did I get?
Peldor: How the hell should I know?
Bosco: Hmm. Well, I'll just have to be a little more careful
about what I say.
Peldor: Yes, you should. And if you do blurt something out...
well, just don't babble about anything unpleasant, okay?
Peldor left, retiring to his chambers, and promptly fell into a
The night was fairly silent, not only in the Green Dragon Inn but
in the city as a whole. However, silent seldom means uneventful,
and something of import happened while the moon was up, though the
news wasn't heard until morning...
The morrow's first news had to do with last night's quadruple
robbery in the High Quarter. In an unheralded display of daring,
four houses had been hit: the assistant mayor's, a rich merchant's,
the head of the Greyhawk land commission, and the assistant tax
collector's. Though the four houses were all in the same general
neighborhood, there was no other correlation or common feature. The
audacity of the crime was made even greater once the rumors began to
circulate - rumors that the thefts had not been sanctioned by the
Thieves' Guild, and that three of the four houses had actually been
under the Guild's protection. Strangely enough, very little of
material value had actually been stolen; it seemed that the thief,
whoever he or she was, had been more interested in documents and
account books than gems and jewelry. In some places within the four
houses, possessions had been rifled through, but discarded. It was
truly a mystery.
Though numerous parties searched high and low for the culprit,
there was neither hide nor hair to be found. Even magical scrying
revealed nothing, not within the city's walls, not on its outskirts,
not in the outlying kingdoms. Whoever executed the robberies had
vanished, without a trace.
And Peldor found that Belphanior and Otto had left the inn, early,
their possessions gone with them. A note on Belphanior's pillow
said, simply enough, "Thanks for everything - I owe you one. -B"
next time : foreign matter
notes : 250, coming up...! Wow!
previous chapter (#248)
next chapter (#250)