Chapter #269

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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.                                             +
+    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                    +
+                          +
+  Belphanior   13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN)  +
+     Otto      6th/8th level dwarven warrior/thief           (CN)  +
+  Date:        1/18/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       the town of Narwell, within the Wild Coast          +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "People like that have something inside...something to do        +
+   with death."                                                    +
+                           - from _Once Upon a Time in the West_   +

                    CCLXIX.  New Beginnings

  In a dark room, lit only by a single lamp, two figures faced each
other across a worn table.  The walls of this chamber were covered
with shelves, upon which rested a variety of valuables:  small gems,
jewelry items, various weapons, potion bottles, and other such items.
Establishments such as this were well-known to the local thieves,
for it was in shops like these that they could safely pawn stolen
  Jorvul the fence peered at his visitor through narrowed eyes;
in his business it paid to be suspicious.  Of course, his companion
looked quite suspicious.  This other fellow, a tall elf covered in
a worn red cloak, ignored Jorvul and his suspicions as he reached
into one of the pouches on his belt.

Jorvul:  Easy, there, fella.
Belphanior:  Calm down.  I bear only gems-  (he holds up one hand)
  -valuable gems.

  Opening his closed fist, the elf revealed a dozen small but well-
cut gemstones.  Of assorted colors, they glittered in the light of
a nearby lamp.  The fence's beady eyes widened in delight as he
reached out to grab the gems...

Belphanior:  (grabs Jorvul's hand, holding it firmly in place)  Not
  so fast, Jorvul.  First the price, before you lay your paws on the
Jorvul:  (trying to move his hand, he is unable)  Ouch.
Belphanior:  Just a rough estimate would do, of course.  (he lets
  the other's hand loose)
Jorvul:  Of course.  (rubbing his aching wrist)  Uh...five hundred
  gold crowns for the batch?
Belphanior:  Seven hundred, not a crown less.  (his left eye glows
Jorvul: hundred...(he pokes at the gemstones)  Seems
  fair to me.  (he gets a strongbox, setting it down on the counter)
Belphanior:  I thought you'd agree with me.
Jorvul:  (begins making stacks of coins)  Anything else you need to
  get rid of?  Jewelry, perhaps?
Belphanior:  (looks slightly surprised)  What?
Jorvul:  Well, it's just that these gems look kinda like the ones on
  that necklace the mayor's wife wears.  I heard about the robbery,
  last night, and of course she wears a lot of other jewelry, too-
Belphanior:  (holding the fellow above the floor, with one hand)
  These are not the stolen treasures of the mayor!  You would do
  well to avoid such...speculation.
Jorvul:  Ah.  (smiling)  I must have been mumbling to myself again.
  Nonsense, for sure.  Didn't mean anything by it.
Belphanior:  I'm sure you didn't.  Now, I _can_ trust you to keep
  your mouth shut about all of this?
Jorvul:  Of course.
Belphanior:  Good.  (he takes his gold and departs)
Jorvul:  (watches the elf leave, then scurries into the back of his

  On the street outside, Belphanior whistled pleasantly as he walked.
Turning down one side street, then another, he entered a long, dark,
deserted alley.  A hundred paces later, he stopped, his back to the
four hoodlums who had followed him into the alley.  All four of these
newcomers were stocky, tough-looking men, with swords and the skill
to use them.

hoodlum#1:  Hey, you!  Elf!
hoodlum#2:  The gold.  Now!
hoodlum#3:  And any other...valuables that you might be carrying.
hoodlum#4:  Like, say, the mayor's stolen treasures.
hoodlum#1:  Damn it, shut up!  No need to let him know-
Belphanior:  (still with his back to the foursome)  It won't matter.
hoodlum#1:  Why not?
Belphanior:  Because you're all dead.
hoodlum#2:  Ha, ha.  That's a joke.
Belphanior:  That's what you think.
hoodlum#1:  Enough!  Get him!  (they all charge at once)
Belphanior:  (whirls, his cloak's edges flapping, his sword held in
  one hand, his left eye glowing bright red)  Heh.

  The four hoodlums were experienced swordsmen, veterans of several
local battles and skirmishes, and were generally considered to be
bad news in this town.
  They almost lasted a minute.  A short time afterwards, Belphanior
emerged from the alley, feeling refreshed and elated.  Behind him,
the street rats converged on their latest meal.

Belphanior:  Thanks, boys.  Blackrazor was getting hungry.

  About half an hour later, after he had made one final stop, the
elf returned to the Roc's Nest Inn, where he and Otto had been stay-
ing for the past week.  In their room, the dwarf was busy mixing
together the contents of several bottles; the oily concoction that
resulted, whatever it was, hissed and bubbled in the small bowl.

Belphanior:  (opens the door, to find Otto facing him, sword ready)
Otto:  Okay.  (he sheathes his sword and returns to his mixing)
Belphanior:  Rough night?
Otto:  No.  It could have been anyone coming through that door.  And
  I don't trust anyone.
Belphanior:  Me neither.  What's that you're mixing?
Otto:  Sornoc poison.  I found some of the plants in the market and
  figured this was a good opportunity.  (he eyes the hissing mixture
  critically)  A very good opportunity.
Belphanior:  Well, there's good news and bad news.
Otto:  What else is new?
Belphanior:  (dumps a large pile of gold and other valuables onto a
Otto:  Wow, that's more than those gems were worth.  The fence must
  have given you a good deal.
Belphanior:  Better than he knew.  Problem is, the word's out on the
  street - everyone seems to know who hit the mayor's house.
Otto:  Uh-oh.
Belphanior:  We'd better get moving.  All in all, it was a worthwhile
  deal.  Especially given Jorvul's private stash of loot.  (he tosses
  a large diamond from hand to hand)
Otto:  Jorvul?  The fence we heard about?
Belphanior:  Don't worry, he's history now.  But the thieves' guild
  here may not appreciate that, so...
Otto:  (pouring his poisons and potions into small jars)  I'll be
  ready in just a moment.
Belphanior:  (packing his belongings)  A good haul.  What I'm really
  after is magic...though we're making a lot of money on this little
Otto:  No denying that.  But, aren't we leaving a lot of enemies
  behind as well?
Belphanior:  Can't be helped.
Otto:  Sometimes I wonder.
Belphanior:  Of course, if you'd rather destroy the whole town, we
  can arrange that as well...
Otto:  (regards the elf)
Belphanior:  Just kidding.  Heh heh.

  Shortly, they were riding out of Narwell, quite a bit wealthier
than when they rode in.  It wasn't until hours later that Jorvul's
body was discovered, and by the time the local authorities decided
who their primary suspect was, the pair of adventurers were halfway
to Safeton, south of Narwell.

  Meanwhile, in the Free City of Greyhawk to the north, a pair of
powerful men were having a private meeting.  One, Sental Nurev, was
the Captain of the City Guard as well as a ruling Oligarch.  Sental
was a tall, well-muscled man, but his companion dwarfed him, for
this man stood head and shoulders above the Oligarch.  His grizzled
face bore the look of much experience, and his well-trimmed, short
brown beard matched his dark brown, close-cropped hair.  Garbed in
shining chain mail, he bore a large shield with an embossed ram's-
head insignia built into its center.  At his side was an ornate
sheathed longsword, with a large sapphire mounted in its pommel;
the weapon seemed to radiate power.  From his well-kept hair to his
fine leather boots, the man had the regal air of royalty, though he
wasn't, not really.

Sental:  You've decided to accept the mission, then, Prince Torin?
Torin:  Prince?  You flatter me, really, Captain.  'Twas but a mere
  title, awarded me by the people of Furyondy after my men and I
  slew that dragon.
Sental:  Whatever you say.  Your deeds are known far and wide, here
  and in other lands.  Torin the Crusader...hero of battles, slayer
  of evil, bringer of justice.
Torin:  (looking bored)  Accurate, but grandiose titles.  I blame it
  on the bards.
Sental:  How did you hear of our recent trouble, here in Greyhawk?
Torin:  I hear of all deeds foul and vile.  Those here bore further
Sental:  Ah, of course.  The reward-
Torin:  Use it to equip and provision my men.  We do not accept
  quests for monetary purposes, but rather to further our great
  crusade:  the extermination of Evil, wherever it may lie!
Sental:  Actually, the one you seek must be brought back to Greyhawk,
  that justice may be served.  The details of his misdeeds are a bit
  unclear in places, but certain Oligarchs, as well as relatives of
  his victims, are pushing for action.  He must stand trial for his
Torin:  If that is the will of the gods, so be it.  If, however, his
  evil is great enough to pose a threat, then I shall dispatch him
  to the Hells myself.  (draws his sword and slams its point into the
  wooden floor, and kneels before it)  So swears Torin, the Crusader!

  Later, in his office within the Green Dragon Inn, Peldor was busy
inscribing some documents when a knock came, at the door.

Peldor:  Come.
Tanya:  (opens the door)  You have...a visitor.
Peldor:  But I'm busy.  I can't see any visitors-
Tanya:  I think you'd better see this one.
Org Nenshen:  (enters)  Greetings.
Peldor:  Org!  (he stands, surprised, and walks over to clasp hands
  with the Guildmaster)
Tanya:  (leaves, shutting the door behind her)
Org:  I'm afraid I had to insist that she let me in.
Peldor:  But why?  You never come here.
Org:  No...but this time, I have grave news.
Peldor:  Uh-oh.  How bad?
Org:  Not at all...not for you.
Peldor:  What, then?
Org:  Ever heard of Torin, the Crusader?
Peldor:  Torin?  I thought he was just a legend...
Org:  No, he's real enough.  He and his band of soldiers left the
  city earlier tonight, and they're headed south, in pursuit of
  your friend Belphanior.
Peldor:  What?!?  How?
Org:  The Oligarchs, influenced by certain powerful people in this
  city, have persuaded Torin that Belphanior is a dangerous maniac-
Peldor:  That wouldn't have been too difficult.
Org:  -and a criminal who deserves to be brought back here, to stand
  trial.  Torin and his men are going after Belphanior with all the
  weaponry and magic they have.
Peldor:  From what I've heard of Torin, he doesn't try those he deems
  to be evil...he executes them.
Org:  Exactly.
Peldor:  (shakes his head)  Oh, man.
Org:  (stands)  Now understand:  I'm not telling you this so that
  you can run off after them.  In fact, I didn't tell you anything
  at all, right?  We never talked about this.
Peldor:  About what?
Org:  Farewell.  (leaves)
Peldor:  (paces the room, extremely troubled)

next:   the plot thickens
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  After all the movies I've recommended, I finally have a
  chance to dis-recommend one:  _Lord of Illusions_.  It was like
  a watered-down _Hellraiser_ with a fraction of the plot and the
  special effects, and far more cheese.  Just say no.

  Time for more fan mail.  This batch covers readers' responses to a
single episode:  250.

>>   Hmm, what's this? Adventurers vs Aliens or Predator ?  :-)
>> This looks promising........
>>  Nice to finally see everyone back together, I didn't remember that
>> there were so many.
>>  I can hardly wait for part 2.
>>  Stig E.

>>  And comment on 250 part 1 of 2...when Otiluke showed up and mages
>>  prattled about magical things in air and others muttered in the
>> was a great scene! Too bad that Belph could not (or not
>>  want to) participate in discussion. He is great mage by his own
>>  rights..Wonder what was in the metal sphere...curse from the
>>  gods...tarrasque?
>>  VP

>>  Nice tale.  The Festival sounds like it might have had influences
>>  from....oh, Mardi Gras, maybe...?   :)
>>  The meteor...nice touch.  A variant of Expedition to the Barrier
>>  Peaks?  The Adventurers seem like they have things well in hand,
>>  until, of course, E.T. phones home....   :)
>>  I look forward to reading part II of 250.
>>  Regards,
>>       Tom

>>  Congratulations on your 250th episode! I've been a faithful reader
>>  now for the past year and have enjoyed your work tremendously.
>>  The reason I decided to send you mail was to ask you if you ever
>>  considered getting an artist to do a print of the gathering of the
>>  party in episode #250, it would make a great poster or t-shirt and
>>  I'm sure that many of your readers would be interested in getting
>>  one (at least, I would).
>>  Just something to think about.
>>  John

  I'm talking with a reader about this...

>>  Just a quick word, to tell you that I have followed the Adventurers
>>  from Episode 1, and am still a big fan of them! You seem to be very
>>  good at describing the interaction between high-level characters.
>>  I like the presence of more woman in the party; it was grand time!
>>  PS : The first part of Episode 250 was just great! I look forward
>>  to the second part.
>>  Cheers,
>>  Sam

>>    Wow.  Very nicely done.  Nice touch with Bosco and the wish,
>>  though I wonder haw many of your readers will notice this...?
>>  It also seems to me that you have set yourself up to (possibly)
>>  write a war saga.  Consider: the drow find (eventually) a way to
>>  drive off, kill, or teleport to another plane, this beast.  Since
>>  drow are highly intelligent, it seems logical that at least one
>>  would try and find out the origins of such a beast.  An errant
>>  slave, or perhaps an 'above-world' traveller, hears of the great
>>  conquest in Greyhawk.  This might naturally turn into more research,
>>  and lead the drow to Ged.  Or they might decide to simply extract
>>  revenge on the city.  In either case, I would imagine that this
>>  beast could destroy an entire drow city or two with no problem
>>  ...somebody down there would be naturally upset, and want to take
>>  it out on SOMEBODY....
>>  In any case, a good tale.  Hats off to you.
>>  Regards,
>>     Tom

  The first of many "What _will_ happen to the Tarrasque?" lines of

>>  Now that combat in the series is more rare than it used to be,
>>  it's nice to read of a full scale, knock-down drag out battle.
>>  Well done!
>>       Leonard

>>  Great episode (episodes?), Thomas!
>>  I remember the great terrasque debote (or at least one of them).
>>  I was of the opinion at the time that if you were able to kill
>>  the terrasque, then your DM wasn't doing it right.  Glad to
>>  see that even with help from some of the big name spellcasters,
>>  the Adventurers were only able to fight it to a draw.
>>  I loved Lyra's choice of destinations!
>>            Looking forward to episode 500
>>                       Greg

>>  Regarding sending that beastie to the Underdark: Classic!  I
>>  literally burst out laughing.  I had to try to explain to my
>>  neighbor in the cubicle next to me what was so damn funny.
>>  Jim
>>  And another comment about the story:  it didn't go unnoticed at
>>  least by this reader the effort that was put in to show *everyone*
>>  contributing in an important way.  Bosco and his wish, Nenya and
>>  her teleport of Mongo, etc.
>>  Thanks.
>>  Jim

  Thanks.  I think most readers did miss that effort, but who knows?

>>  Hey, 300 could be fighting the critter again when it escapes.. :)
>>  Look forward to the next 250.
>>  Kerry

>>  Ya know, when I read story 250 Part 1 and the Metallic Egg dissolved
>>  at the end, I thought to myself: "So, how are these guys going to
>>  get rid of a Tarrasque?"
>>  I'm impressed.  Nice job!
>>       - Peter

>>  Just read 250 and I liked it.  I just hope little Bosco gets the
>>  recognition he deserves.  :-)  I liked the way you handled that
>>  passege
>>  Daniel

  Bosco will eventually get all that's coming to him.

>>  Just wanted to send you a quick note, great story!  Can we look
>>  forward to seeing Godzilla and Mothra in the future? :)  Keep up
>>  the great work!
>>  Michael

>>  Way cool...
>>  Very interesting approach to dealing with what is basically an
>>  unkillable creature. Arnold and Mongo at their best...
>>  The destination of the portal was great but what happens when it
>>  start burying up ?
>>  One question... why didn't Belphanior try the "eye of death" on it?
>>  I assume it wouldn't have worked but it might have had interesting
>>  side-effects.
>>  I take it that 250 is know that largest episode ever ?
>>  Keep it up, its well liked.
>>  Wayne

  Yep, 250 set a record that will probably never be surpassed.

>>  I must say, that #250 (parts 1 &2) are now my all-time favorite
>>  episode(s).
>>  It makes me want to never tangle with a Tarrasque (sp?), unless
>>  i'm the DM of course <evil grin>.
>>  The story brings several questions to mind...
>>  - Will the influential magi of Greyhawk look deeper into
>>  Belphanoir's past?
>>       - What will they find?
>>       - What will they do about it?
>>            - Pardon him, due to his bravery in fighting the Tarrasque?
>>            - Hunt him, due to past crimes?
>>  - Will Ged throw a tantrum about Alindyar's and Lyra's relationship
>>  with The Circle?
>>  - What _did_ happen to Peldor when the Tarrasque rolled around with
>>  Peldor hanging onto its back?
>>  - The way the story played out, it _did_ seem that Bosco's "wish"
>>  had an effect, did it?
>>      - If it _did_.  Will the others ever know?
>>         - I kinda felt sorry for him, regarding the way the others
>>           were treating him.
>>         - I think the others _should_ know, or something else should
>>           happen to raise Bosco's status in their eyes.  "Ok who
>>           lost a baby?", [gotta love it...]
>>  - What if the Matron(s) of the Drow city that Lyra sent it to found
>>  out who was behind its arrival there.  Assuming that some of them
>>  lived, they could (would) want payback on Lyra, and the others.
>>  - If the Tarrasque was/is a "magical" creature, what would Belph-
>>  anoir's new anti-magic sphere do to it.
>>  Mark

>>  I have to second Mark's praise, this episode is going to be tough to
>>  beat in the future.  I am I right in noticing that the complete epi-
>>  sode of 250 is close to being twice the size of your previously
>>  longest episode 175?
>>  Karl

>>  Thomas,
>>   I read 250 again. And again, hats off to you.
>>   Nice story.
>>  Tom

>>  Congrats on Episode #250 - Dare I say it, the best in the series.
>>  I must say I was fooled early on, I had expected the beast to be
>>  somewhat similar to the KingKong from Isle of the Ape..
>>  All in all, one of the most action packed episodes..
>>  All the best,
>>  Peter

  "Isle of the Ape" was a good module.

>>  What can I say... I'm still reading with great pleasure, as I have
>>  done for a year now... :)
>>  Haavard

>>    Just finished 250, it was shit hot, nice to see everyone stumped
>>  every now and again.
>>    Would Peldor ever dual class into a mage? I think he would
>>  do it just to offend Ged!! I mean, he has the intelligence and
>>  there really isn't much room for improvement to a thief after 19th
>>  level, just something that popped into my head.
>>               thankyou for the stories,
>>                                              Benjamin

>>  Thank you very much!  I also wanted to mention that all of us here
>>  really enjoy the stories, and were wondering if you are planning
>>  any more after number 250?
>>  CJN


>>  I'm way behind I just read 250.  That was fantastic.
>>  A truly first rate depiction of the tarrasque and how it might act
>>  and react - and how formidable it is.  Great!
>>  I do wonder what was drawing it into Greyhawk though..... :-)
>>  Jim

>>  Overall, this was a pretty neat episode!
>>  Sean

>>  Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed episode 250 -- for once
>>  a REAL challenge to the combined might of the adventurers! Lots of
>>  action, good ideas etc. (I liked Bosco's wish -- pity he didn't
>>  realise what happened, but then again, he might become even more
>>  big headed :-)
>>  Lots of possibilities for follow up events: what happend in the
>>  Drow City?  Will the monster escape and head for Grayhawk again?
>>  Will the remaining Drow discover who sent the monster and plot
>>  revenge? Where did the monster come from (perhaps the adventurers
>>  will find a way to send it home...)  What will Belphanior do with
>>  the anti-magic device?
>>                     Martin

>>  I had a question about the tarrasque. The drow aren't dumb ...
>>  and they are going to want revenge. Why would the Circle of Eight
>>  risk pissing them off so badly by send the Tarrasque there? They
>>  could have as easily dumped it in th Sea of Dust or the Drawmidj
>>  Ocean?  I'm sure Lolth will answer any divination
>>  wise the drow have wizards as powerful - why not send the Tarrasque
>>  back to downtown Greyhawk?
>>           Eric

  Now, sometimes I get e-mail that's just meaningless to me, as in
not rooted in our reality.  I proudly present an example here:

>>  I feel sorry that your player character died on you and you couldn't
>>  write because you were in mourning.

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