Chapter #277

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                                +   +
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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/E) +
+     Otto     6th/8th level dwarven warrior/thief           (CN)   +
+  Date:        2/14/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the town of Helgate, within the Clatspur Mountains  +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "A good man does not obey the laws too well."                    +
+                                           - Henry David Thoreau   +

                    CCLXXVII.  New Beginnings

  As the cold mountain day wore on, the people of Helgate went about
their normal activities.  This meant mostly mining, for Helgate was
perched within the Clatspur Mountains.  The town had been built fifty
years back, based around a series of silver mines, and had grown from
a small encampment of twenty men to its present size of five hundred.
For a time, the place had been prosperous, and several people within
had grown very rich.  However, these were harder times, and most of
Helgate's populace lived on the upper side of poor.
  To this town came the mad elf, Belphanior, and his companion, Otto
the dwarf.  They were currently relaxing in the comfort of a nameless
tavern in the town, or to put it more accurately, they were laughing
their asses off...

Belphanior:  (slams a mug down, sloshing beer onto the table)  Hah
  ha!   And then that mummy-thing sat up and looked right at Torin!
Otto:  (jubilant as well, he takes a draw from his own mug)  That
  was classic!  The look on Torin's face...(they both erupt into
  laughter again)
Belphanior:  (laughing so hard that he begins to cough)  Heh ha ha.
  Those were the days...
Otto:  Well, I'm sure they won't be the last such days.

  Just then, the tavern's heavy doors swung open, and three rough-
looking fellows strode into the place.  Stubble covered their faces,
and swords hung from their sides in well-used leather sheaths.  One
of the men glared around the tavern, and everyone shied away from
his gaze.  Everyone, that is, until he stared at Belphanior.

Belphanior:  (meets the fellow's gaze squarely)
ruffian:  Looking at something, elf?
Belphanior:  Nothing special.
ruffian:  We don't like elves in here.  (seemingly satisfied with his
  display, he leads the other two men to a nearby table)
Belphanior:  (yawns nonchalantly)
other ruffians:  (glare at everybody, including Belphanior, as they
  take their seats, noisily)
chief ruffian:  Wench!  Bring beer, and food.  Now!
Belphanior:  (returns his attention to the leg of lamb he was busy
  gnawing on)
Otto:  Hmph.
serving wench:  (approaches, a large tray of steaming meat and hot
  bread balanced on one hand, a tankard of beer in the other)
chief ruffian:  (eyes the serving wench lustily)  Long time, no see,
Claudia:  Not long enough.  (eyeing the trio apprehensively, she
  puts the tankard down, and grabs the tray with both hands)
chief ruffian:  (stands up halfway as he grabs the woman's rear)
  Heh.  Booty...
Claudia:  (drops the plate of food; spilling food everywhere)  Aaa!
other ruffians:  (laughing)  Har har.
chief ruffian:  You spilled our food.  Now be a good little girl and
  go get us some more.
Claudia:  (backs away, angry but also fearful)
ruffian #2:  (looks at his leader, then motions to one side with a
  flicker of his eyes)
chief ruffian:  (whirls about, to find Belphanior staring at him)
  Hey!  What the hell are you looking at?
Belphanior:  Oh, nothing.  (he grins, munching on his leg of lamb
  for a thoughtful moment)  Except maybe a good example of why some
  animals eat their young.
chief ruffian:  Eh?  What've we got here, a wise guy?
Claudia:  (returns with another tray of food, stopping short as she
  begins to hear this conversation)
Belphanior:  I think you should apologize to the lady, there.  And
  it wouldn't hurt if you licked that food off the floor.
chief bandit:  (positively enraged)  How _dare_ you, elf?!?  Do you
  know who you're talking to?  (he chuckles, obviously impressed
  with himself)  I'm Kruger, chief of the town's guards and a well-
  respected fellow in these parts.
Belphanior:  Respected?  I find that hard to believe, even if your
  name is Kruger.
Kruger:  (frowns, drawing his sword)
Otto:  (mumbling)  Here we go again...
Kruger:  (pushes the wench Claudia aside, knocking her second tray
  of food to the floor, where its remains merge with those of the
  first tray)
Claudia:  Aie!
other tavern patrons:  (backing away in fear)
Kruger:  See?  I do what I want, when I want, how I want.  (he waves
  his sword menacingly, in Belphanior's direction)
Belphanior:  (tosses his leg of lamb aside, and finally draws his
  sword)  Not today.
Kruger:  Oh, so you're some kind of hero, eh?
Belphanior:  Far from it.  Now, for the last time, go away.
Kruger:  (almost falters, but then charges toward the elf)  Fool!
  Now you've forced my hand!
Belphanior:  I'm almost sorry.  Almost.  (he parries the foe's blow,
  then kicks him in the chest, knocking him back into one of his
  companions)  Hah!  (he stands, awaiting the next attack)
chief ruffian:  (begins dueling with Belphanior)
Claudia:  Aaaa!  (backs away as a table is cut in two)
third ruffian:  (stands quickly, drawing his sword and moving toward
  Belphanior's back)
Otto:  (moves between this foe and the other combatants)  Uh-uh.
  You're mine.
ruffian:  (laughs)  You've got to be kidding.  (he slashes, wildly
  and overconfidently)  No dwarf-
Otto:  (easily avoids the attack, stabbing upward with his own blade)
ruffian:  Urghk!  (falls to his knees)
Otto:  (hisses at the dying man)  This revelation won't help you on
  your way to hell, but you're not the first person to underestimate
ruffian:  (dies)

  Meanwhile, Belphanior was faring equally well against his two foes,
having dropped one while holding the leader's sword.

chief ruffian:  (struggling against the elf's iron grip)  Argh...
Belphanior:  (hurls the man away, with a broken wrist and no sword)
chief ruffian:  Yeargh!  (grabbing a wine-jug from a nearby table,
  he shatters it on the floor, creating himself another weapon) you die!  (he charges at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (shatters the remnants of the jug with one sword-blow,
  then catches the foe's throat with his backswing)
chief bandit:  (falls, gurgling)
Belphanior:  (reels as the slain foe's life energy flows into his
  blade)  Ahhhhh.
Otto:  (wipes his blade on the nearest corpse's tunic)  Well-done,
  if a bit messy.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (he looks around)  I'd say we've been properly
  welcomed to this town, wouldn't you?
Otto:  Yup.  Hell, everyone left, looks like.  (to Claudia)  I hope
  they paid for their meals already?
Claudia:  (awed)  Y-  you _killed_ them!
Belphanior:  Of course.  What'd you expect?
Otto:  Believe us, lady, they had it coming.
Claudia:  But...Kruger was chief of the guard...this act won't go
Belphanior:  I should think not.  What kind of town would this be
  if deaths went ignored?
Claudia:  You really aren't afraid, are you?
Otto:  Afraid of what?
Claudia:  Dagron...Dagron Larthos.
Belphanior:  You say that name like it means something.
Claudia:  It does.  In this town, Dagron is king.  Mayor...owner...
Otto:  Sounds like a powerful man.
Claudia:  He is.  He rules Helgate, and the wise seek his favor.
Belphanior:  What would you call someone who doesn't give a damn
  about him?
Claudia:  Err...foolish?  Insane?  Doomed?
Belphanior:  (nodding)  Keep going.  I'm enjoying this.
Claudia:  And you slew Kruger, leader of his guards.
Otto:  You mean goons.
Claudia:  Here in Helgate, we call them guards.
Belphanior:  Bah.  (he picks up a tankard of ale, taking a deep swig
  before setting the container down)  Come, Otto.  Let's go explore
  this town further.
Otto:  Right.  (they turn to leave)
Claudia:  (watches the elf with a mixture of confusion and awe)

  Belphanior and Otto walked out of the tavern and into the street,
turning toward what appeared to be the more heavily populated side
of town.

Otto:  Where to now?  The general store?  Or the baths, perhaps?
Belphanior:  The inn.  We need a place to stay, and-
boy:  (having appeared suddenly on the scene)  Place to stay?  I
  know one, great sirs.  Just follow me.
Belphanior:  (glares down at the lad)

  The boy appeared to be about nine or ten years old, and was dressed
in dirty, tattered clothes.  His bright eyes hinted at intelligence,
though, and he tugged at Belphanior's arm eagerly.

boy:  Come on, I can show you the best, cheapest hotel in town.
Otto:  For a fee, eh, kid?
boy:  Umm...
Belphanior:  (grins, amused)  No matter.  Take us to the nicest place
  this town's got, boy, and a silver's yours for the having.
boy:  (jumps with joy)
Belphanior:  Someplace with more than one floor, that's got a top-
  floor room available.  You getting all this, kid?
boy:  Hey, I know a place like that.
Otto:  Make it a quiet inn, too.  The last thing we need is a place
  where ruffians and murderers stay.
Belphanior:  What's your name, boy?
boy:  I am Eduardo.
Otto:  Odd name, for these parts.
Eduardo:  (shrugs, then wipes dirt from his face)
Belphanior:  You don't have a family, do you, Eduardo?
Eduardo:  No, sir.  I'm an orphan, and an urchin.  (he runs onward)
  Come, follow me!
Belphanior:  (to Otto)  I like him already.
Otto:  Why's that, other than that he bears us no possible threat
Belphanior:  He reminds me of!
Otto:  Oh.

  A short while later, young Eduardo had led them to a majestic,
four-story structure, a grand old hotel built in the style made
popular several decades ago.  The place loomed above the buildings
next to it, its many windows and railed balconies decorating all
of its faces.  A worn sign swung on a post above the main entrance
to the building, its carven face identifying the place as the
Raven's Nest Inn.

Eduardo:  (grins happily)  See, sirs?  Just what you asked for, no?
Belphanior:  (nodding)  This will do nicely.

  Tossing a silver coin to young Eduardo, Belphanior strode briskly
toward the inn's door, Otto behind him.  Soon...

innkeeper:  (an elderly, bald-pated man named Perkins)  A room at
  the top, you say?
Belphanior:  Yep.  I was told you had one left.
Perkins:  (grumbling)  Maybe someone talks too much...
Belphanior:  (leans in, his red eye glowing menacingly)  Maybe
  someone thinks too much.
Perkins:  Ah, sir, we do have one fourth-floor room available.  It's
  a master suite, usually reserved for visiting nobles, but-
Belphanior:  I'll settle for that.
Perkins:  Of course.  I'll have the maid prepare it shortly.
Otto:  (flips the old chap a silver piece)  Make it snappy, fella.
  We're tired.
Perkins:  As you wish, sir.

next:   Dagron Larthos makes his entrance
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  As I sit here typing this, I'm waiting on a towtruck to
  come to my apartment and get my car.  I didn't mention this in
  last episode's tirade, but my car's been having problems, the
  kind that usually end up taking a week to fix, at an outrageous
  cost.  Still, the towtruck won't be here for an hour...what
  better way to spend the time?

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