Chapter #284

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

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+    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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.oit.gatech.edu  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Alindyar     16th level dark elven mage                     (N)  +
+  Lyra         12th level female dark elven mage              (N)  +
+  Peldor       19th level human thief                         (N)  +
+  Tanya        5th/11th level female human warrior/thief     (LN)  +
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+  Date:        2/1/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       the Free City of Greyhawk                           +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I _am_ a nice guy...just a different kind of nice guy."         +
+                                         - from _The River Wild_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                       CCLXXXIV.  Vacation





  While certain others have been gallivanting across the Flanaess,
Peldor has found life in Greyhawk routine as ever...

Peldor:  (sitting at a table in his inn, enjoying a tasty breakfast)
  A vacation!  That's what I need!
Vinnie:  (crams three slices of toast into his huge mouth)  Whas'
  thaght, boss?
Peldor:  A vacation.  I need to get out...go to some other city...
  have an adventure.
Vinnie:  (finally swallows his food, and nods)  So who ya gonna leave
  in charge?
Peldor:  Bosco?
Vinnie:  (exchanges glances with his employer)
Peldor:  Nah.  Besides, he's still away, with Mongo.  No telling when
  they'll return.
Vinnie:  You could always leave Tanya here.  She's a capable gal.
Peldor:  I think not.
Tanya:  (walking down the stairs, in a bedrobe)  Pardon?
Peldor:  I was saying that I don't want to leave you here when I go,
  though you're more than capable.
Tanya:  (puts her arms around the thief's neck, giving him a big
  good-morning kiss)  You bet.
Peldor:  (grins sheepishly)  I never bet, unless I'm going to win.
Tanya:  Haven't you?
Vinnie:  (smirks)
Tanya:  (sits down)  Err...where exactly are we going?
Peldor:  I'm not sure yet.  Hmm, I'll need to talk with Org Nenshen
  as well.  (he finishes his breakfast)  Okay, everybody just stand
  by.  I'll be back shortly.

  Shortly...

Peldor:  (enters the Green Dragon)  Okay, it's all taken care of.
Tanya:  (having bathed and changed, she now busies herself counting
  the stock of liquor behind one bar)  Took you long enough.
Peldor:  (spreads his hands)  Well...Org wasn't thrilled with the
  idea of one of his quarter-master thieves taking a week off, but
  he eventually understood, and approved.
Tanya:  Who'll handle things?
Peldor:  Org can deal with the usual collections, visitations, and
  reparations.  Vinnie and the crew will handle the Green Dragon.
  Gods help them all if Bosco comes back while we're gone...
Tanya:  He'd probably declare casino night.
Peldor:  Yeah.  As for you and I...let's get packed, and get our
  horses ready.
Tanya:  Excellent.  I just bought a new one last week, and I've
  been looking for a good excuse for a long ride.  Speaking of
  which, where _are_ we going?  Have you figured that one out yet?
Peldor:  Well, it's got to be somewhere fairly close, since travel
  time tends to rise, the farther you go...
Tanya:  (pops the thief with a rolled-up dishtowel)
Peldor:  (deftly avoids this attack)  I'd kinda like to visit one
  of the great capitals, like Chendl in Furyondy, or perhaps Rel
  Mord, in Nyrond.  (he uses his telekinesis ring to pick up a tiny
  fork, of the sort commonly used for spearing olives, from a shelf
  behind Tanya)
Tanya:  Both of those great cities are far away...
Peldor:  Yep.  (he moves the fork through the air, aiming it at his
  woman's rear end)  Don't worry, you'll see my point in a minute.
Tanya:  You're thinking of Dyvers, aren't you?
Peldor:  Pretty much.  (he moves the fork in for the strike)
Tanya:  (jumps)  Ow!  (she turns around, but the fork has returned
  to its original position, hiding among all the other silverware
  below the bar)  What the hell...?
Peldor:  (spreads his hands innocently)  Having problems with your
  bar, are you?
Tanya:  Grr...
Peldor:  Okay, okay.  I sincerely apologize for the behavior of the
  silverware.  I guess it couldn't resist when tempted with such a
  good target.
Tanya:  You'd better watch it, buster.  The bed can get pretty cold
  on these long winter nights.
Peldor:  (smoothly changing the subject)  I believe Dyvers is having
  its annual mid-winter carnival.  And if I'm not mistaken, there's
  a good-sized theatre troupe in town for the month.
Tanya:  Hmm.  It would make for a nice vacation.
Peldor:  You bet.  So, what say you?  A week of tending the bar, or
  a week of splendorous meals, plays, and festivals?
Tanya:  (smirks)  Gee, do you think my boss'll give me the time off?
Peldor:  I'm sure he can be convinced.

  Soon, they had packed a few bags, and the stableboy Hobbes had
saddled their horses, bringing them around to the front.

Tanya:  The stable's finished already?
Peldor:  Yeah, I offered a bonus to the mason and the carpenter if
  they got it done quickly.  I figure it'll help the inn attract
  the wealthier travellers who want good accomodations for their
  horses and themselves.  (shrugs)  The horses need a warm, dry
  place to keep their mounts while they eat, drink, and be merry.
Tanya:  Good thinking.
Peldor:  Naturally.
Tanya:  I was thinking that we should invite Alindyar and Lyra.
  They don't seem to get out much.
Peldor:  (ponders this)  Well, they aren't exactly your average
  folks.
Tanya:  Nonsense.  They just don't go out because people
  are afraid of them.  And with no good reason.  I'll even go up
  and ask them.
Peldor:  (nods)  Very well.  I'll do a final double-check to make
  sure all the employees know what's going on, and have everything
  they need.
Tanya:  (walks away, conjuring up an image of Bosco returning and
  taking over the bar for a week)  Heh.

  Shortly, Tanya returned, both drow in tow.

Tanya:  Here we all are.
Alindyar:  This seems a pointless journey, to be sure, but-
Lyra:  Hush, you.  (to Peldor)  Though we're busy with research and
  such things, we still need breaks, just like anybody else...and
  Tanya wasn't going to leave until we agreed to go.
Alindyar:  Verily.
Peldor:  Well, we're glad to have you.  Shall I have your horses
  brought around?
Lyra:  Horses?
Alindyar:  When you have teleportation at your disposal, horseback
  travel is a bit outmoded.
Tanya:  (a natural horsewoman)  Err...
Peldor:  Why not just relax and enjoy a good two days' ride instead?
  That's part of the fun of getting away.
Lyra:  We could.
Alindyar:  (frowning)  Perhaps.  However, we have no horses.
Peldor:  Not a problem.  Hobbes!
Hobbes:  (the lad appears from behind a haystack)
Peldor:  What are you doing behind there?
Hobbes:  Looking for a needle.
Peldor:  Huh?
Hobbes:  Nothing, boss.  Whatcha need?
Peldor:  Two of my finest horses, saddled and provisioned, and make
  it quick.
Hobbes:  Right, boss.  (he scurries off)
Alindyar:  Really, a few Phantom Steeds and we can make the journey
  in half the time.
Lyra:  Now, now.  A little honest exercise won't kill you.
Alindyar:  Har-umhp.
Tanya:  (smiling)
Peldor:  (to Lyra)  Didn't you pack anything for the trip?
Alindyar:  'Tis all within my magical sack, here.
Peldor:  Oh.
Lyra:  We don't travel often, but when we do, we're very spartan.
Alindyar:  Only a minimum of belongings to take.
Tanya:  How efficient.
Alindyar:  Collapsing dimensional spaces have a way of ridding one of
  material possessions.
Peldor:  (regarding the drow)  Boy, you two _really_ need to get away
  from your everyday life.

  Soon, the foursome had set out, riding westward at a leisurely pace
as they enjoyed the scenery.

Alindyar:  (shielding his eyes from the sun)  'Tis still...difficult
  to bear the rays of yonder globe.
Tanya:  Maybe we should have used a carriage.
Lyra:  Oh, it's okay.  He's just grumpy 'cause I wouldn't let him
  magic his way to Dyvers.  We'll survive - we've practically grown
  used to the above-world.
Peldor:  The Underdark must've been a pretty grim place.
Alindyar:  You have been there with us in the past, so I've no doubt
  that you remember the place.
Tanya:  (looks questioningly at Peldor)
Peldor:  Twice.  We've been there not once, but twice.  First we
  kinda wandered into the Underdark - that's where we lost Rob the
  first time.
Tanya:  Rob?
Peldor:  Long story.
Alindyar:  And complicated.
Lyra:  But amusing.
Peldor:  Yeah.  Anyway, we roamed the Underdark for a while, and had
  some good adventures.  (he fondly remembers his antics involving
  the walking metal egg)
Alindyar:  The second visit to the cursed place was for a need more
  dire.
Lyra:  That was when you had to be rescued from the city.
Peldor:  The drow city.
Alindyar:  Indeed.  Of course, they've paid for their crimes against
  me.
Tanya:  They have?  How in the name of Celestian did you take revenge
  upon a whole city?
Alindyar:  You may recall the beast from beyond the stars?
Tanya:  Yes, the one we all helped repel from Greyhawk.
Alindyar:  That same one.  At the battle's end, we transported the
  foul thing away, far from here...to that very drow city, beneath
  the Oerth's surface.
Lyra:  (smirks with amusement)
Tanya:  You mean...that beast...the city...?
Alindyar:  (nods, once)
Tanya:  Hah!  What a grand joke!
Lyra:  We thought so too.
Peldor:  Of course, the city's inhabitants probably didn't appreciate
  the joke quite like we did.
Alindyar:  If they survived the experience - which, judging from the
  monster's immunity to almost all magic, they did not.
Lyra:  It's in the past now, anyway.  No sense worrying about it now.
Peldor:  True.

  They rode happily along, passing the hours by reminiscing about the
old days, about adventures they had years ago, grand quests and great
deeds.

Peldor:  Boy, this is making me feel old.
Alindyar:  You?  Old?  Hah.  You're barely an infant compared to some
  of us.
Lyra:  I, myself, am even now approaching my hundredth year.
Tanya:  You?  A hundred?
Lyra:  (shrugs)  Most of us live for more than a thousand years.
Tanya:  I mean, I know you're an elf, but to actually think about it
  staggers the mind...
Peldor:  What must it be like to live forever...?
Alindyar:  No one lives forever.  We are not immortals, you know.
Peldor:  You might as well be.
Lyra:  So some think.

  They stopped for lunch on a short hill, overlooking a vast plain
which ended at a river and small town.  Atop this hill they rested,
letting the horses graze while they ate a picnic lunch.  This repast
had been hand-picked and -packed by Tanya, and included fine meats
and cheeses, fresh fruit and loaves of bread, a pie and cake baked
by the finest bakery in all of Greyhawk...

Lyra:  Mmm, hats off to you, Tanya.  This is delicious!
Tanya:  Years of working in inns do tend to set one up with contacts
  among the city's better chefs and bakeries.
Peldor:  (jokingly)  I knew there was _some_ reason I kept you
  around.
Tanya:  Sometimes I wonder why I keep _you_ around.
Peldor:  There are lots of reasons!
Tanya:  (smiling)  Reasons not to, you must mean.  Drinking...snoring
  in bed...general laziness...
Peldor:  You forgot good-looking...sharp-witted...lucky as hell...
Tanya:  Lucky?  You?
Peldor:  I've escaped death many a time.  Why, as others in the party
  fell to blade and claw, over the months and years, Peldor always
  escaped unscathed.
Alindyar:  (raises a finger)  Except that once.
Peldor:  Quiet, you.  (he relaxes on the large blanket they have
  spread out, and somehow ends up laying in Tanya's lap)  Yep, the
  good old days.  Of course, now I'm a businessman, and those ill-
  gotten gains of my youth are far behind me.  Never again shall any
  store, temple, or noble have to fear the risk of robbery by Peldor.
Tanya:  You're saying that you wouldn't go after some great score
  if it presented itself?
Peldor:  (ponders)  Well, it's true what they say:  nothing's ever
  really set in stone.
Lyra:  Aha.
Alindyar:  Once a scoundrel, always a scoundrel.
Peldor:  (to Tanya)  Who are they talking about?  They can't possibly
  mean me!
Tanya:  Sure they could.
Lyra:  Maybe it's for the better that the once-great Peldor has quit
  his thieving ways.  That means the exhibit of ancient jewelry being
  shown this week in Dyvers will be totally safe.
Peldor:  Jewelry?  Exhibit?  Of course it's safe!
Alindyar:  (smiles slightly)
Peldor:  Wait a minute, just what do you mean, "once-great"?

  Soon, they rode onward, their mounts fresh and in good spirits,
much like the people who rode them.  Peldor knew that he had needed
a break like this, as Tanya probably did.  The best thing, however,
was that the drow seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.  After
all, they hadn't mentioned spells or research in several hours, and
seemed transfixed with the cold, fresh winter air, the rolling grass-
lands, and the serene, clear sky.
  That night, the four made camp under a small grove of galda trees,
their branches stripped of the large globes of fruit that decorated
them in warmer seasons.  As darkness fell, Peldor built a fire while
Tanya and Lyra prepared a meal.

Peldor:  You don't have to make supper.
Tanya:  I know, but I want to.  And she wants to learn a thing or
  two about cooking.
Lyra:  (nods slightly)  Such skills might come in handy at times.
Peldor:  Well, you've got the best teacher around.

  Meanwhile, Alindyar set to work, casting a spell to offer the small
group some measure of seclusion.

Alindyar:  (facing the surrounding grasslands, he waves his arms as
  he chants in some magical cant)
Peldor:  (to Lyra)  What's he up to?
Lyra:  This spell will make the grove we're in appear to be nothing
  more than grassland, causing it to blend in with the surrounding
  terrain.  A second spell will mask the campfire from outside eyes,
  reducing the chance of intruders to zero.
Peldor:  I guess there's just no vacation without a bit of magic.
Lyra:  There is nothing without magic.
Tanya:  Peace and quiet, eh?
Lyra:  It's our right...
Peldor:  Agreed.  (he surveys the campsite)  I guess Tanya and I
  will sleep over there, on the other side of those trees.
Alindyar:  (his spell completed, he approaches)  Take care not to
  leave the grove - you might never find the camp again.
Peldor:  Gotcha.
Tanya:  This is pretty neat.  (she gets the bedrolls from the horses
  and begins setting up a bed)
Peldor:  Well, good night to you, and we'll see you in the morning.

  The two couples retired, each to their own side of the grove.

Tanya:  (lying on the bedroll, snuggled next to with Peldor, she
  gazes up at the star-filled sky)  This was a good idea.  No, make
  that a great idea.
Peldor:  I know.  I'm glad I thought of it.
Tanya:  Me too.  It's been a long time since I was under the open sky
  with someone I really cared about.  (she reaches into the folds of
  the blankets, toward Peldor)
Peldor:  (looks mildly shocked)  Here?  Now?  With those two just
  across the grove?
Tanya:  Where else?
Peldor:  But...
Tanya:  Oh, shush, will you?

  Quietly, peacefully, they made love under the light of the starry
sky, falling asleep in each other's arms afterwards.  All was silent
until the next morning, when they were awakened by the smell of a
cooking breakfast.

Tanya:  (sits up, looking around)  Huh?
Lyra:  Just putting your lessons to good use.
Tanya:  (wondering how the other woman could learn to cook an entire
  breakfast after such a short tutelage)
Lyra:  Oh, the basic concepts are simple.  It's just the various
  twists that a cook puts on them - that's what takes years to learn.
Tanya:  (to Peldor, who just woke up)  I've created a monster.
Peldor:  Something smells pretty good.  (he gets up and meanders over
  to Lyra)  Hey, look.
Lyra:  Aaa!  The sausage is burning!
Peldor:  Wow, crunchy sausages and lumpy oatmeal at the same time.
  What a feast!
Tanya:  You better watch yourself or more than your oatmeal will have
  lumps.

  The meal turned out okay, though, and within the hour the four
friends had broken camp, riding westward once more after going back
to the main road.

Peldor:  Camping off-road...what fun.
Tanya:  Heh.
Alindyar:  Aye, 'twas a...good time.
Lyra:  Yes.
Peldor:  (glancing back toward the grove, which he sees as grassland
  and no more)  I hope your spell wears off sometime.  Think of all
  the birds who won't be able to find their nests.
Alindyar:  Nay, by midday the grove will be as it once was.  Have no
  fear.
Tanya:  Good for the birds.

  They rode onward, toward Dyvers; they would easily reach the great
city by dusk, even at a slow pace.





next:   Dyvers
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  Just for the record, this story was written in 1.5 hours.
  Good to see that my pace hasn't slowed down, once I actually
  start writing that is.
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