Chapter #286

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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                    +
+                                  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)  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        2/6/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       the Free City of Dyvers                             +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I just didn't think you existed..."                             +
+  "It's good to be a myth."                                        +
+  "Yeah.  Nobody hunts for a myth."                                +
+                          - from the Highlander episode _Methos_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                      CCLXXXVI.  The Heist





  Peldor and Tanya, with Alindyar and Lyra, have spent most of the
past week in the city of Dyvers, living like kings (or queens) and
sampling all that the great city has to offer.  Now, however, the
evening before they will return to Greyhawk, Peldor has hatched and
presented Tanya with a scheme reminiscent of the Peldor of old.

Tanya:  I can't believe you came up with this.
Peldor:  Why not?
Tanya:  Certain implications of the word "reformed" come to mind.
Peldor:  Bah.  That crown's worth as much as the Green Dragon Inn,
  and I must have it.
Tanya:  I thought you had plenty of money - more than enough to live
  ten lifetimes of wealth.
Peldor:  I do.  But it's more than just the money - it's the great
  challenge of the job.  Hell, I haven't pulled off a caper like
  this since...since...see, I can't even remember!
Tanya:  Well, you know I'm with you all the way.  It's not that I
  don't think it'll work.  The idea just caught me by surprise.
Peldor:  Admit it, though - it's the good kind of surprise.
Tanya:  Well, yes...
Peldor:  So, then.  We'd better start planning.
Tanya:  But the necessary supplies, tools, and such?
Peldor:  Already taken care of.
Tanya:  What about Alindyar and Lyra?
Peldor:  Alindyar probably knows what I'm up to - he made that crown
  for me, as a matter of fact.  Lyra doesn't know anything, though I
  suspect she will before too long.
Tanya:  So, what's your plan?
Peldor:  (unrolls a parchment)  I've scouted the entire exhibit and
  committed it to paper.  Now, here's the building where they keep
  all the jewelry.  Gems are easier to carry and fence, as you know,
  but the heftiest gem they have on display is only worth a tenth
  of what the crown is.
Tanya:  (pointing to some marks Peldor has made on the parchment)
  Windows?
Peldor:  Closed and barred.  As a matter of fact, I think they're
  fake, just for show, to throw would-be robbers off.
Tanya:  What about the front door?
Peldor:  Also the only door...it's closed and locked, and based
  on my reconnaissance it seems to have two complex locks, not to
  mention four guards at all times.  Each is well-armed, probably
  quite skilled at swordplay, and has a whistle too.
Tanya:  So a direct approach is out, though we knew that already.
Peldor:  Absolutely.  I wouldn't risk physical combat anyway, not
  unless we were forced into it.
Tanya:  Yes, I remember our last sparring session.  You're rusty
  at best.
Peldor:  (looks shocked)  Bah.  Now see here - the roof?
Tanya:  Of the building?  So?  That place is a fortified vault -
  Lyra and I visited the exhibits, the other day, and a casual
  glance told me that there wasn't any way in from the roof.
Peldor:  And there isn't - not for a typical thief, anyway.  The
  roof is lined with razor-sharp spikes, and its surface is made
  up of a steel-lead alloy, to keep spellcasters from getting
  through.
Tanya:  (frowns)  So why are you telling me all about the roof?
Peldor:  Why do you think?  I think we can get in that way.
Tanya:  You can cut through stone?
Peldor:  No, that's Bosco and his stone dagger.  I, however, have
  the glass dagger, which can cut through any metal as if it wasn't
  there.
Tanya:  Hmm.
Peldor:  That's right - using my magical dagger, I can slice right
  through the ceiling, a ceiling that would keep thieves and wizards
  alike from breaking into the vault.
Tanya:  (nodding)  Even if it's several feet thick, you can still
  get through it eventually.
Peldor:  After that, we'll have to wing it - no telling what traps
  await us.  Hopefully they were overconfident in their ability to
  protect the place on the outside.
Tanya:  Hell, they can't have _too_ many traps - they'd have to
  shut them all down every day, so people could see the jewelry.
Peldor:  Yep.
Tanya:  What about the noise your cutting will produce?
Peldor:  (holds up a scroll)  I called in yet another small favor
  from Alindyar;  a spell of silence will sheathe our activities.
  The spell is a priestly one, but he was able to get a copy from
  the mage's guild by schmoozing with one of the wizards.
Tanya:  I'm growing more and more confident about this, I'll have
  you know.
Peldor:  I knew you'd see it my way.  Of course, we'd have to be
  invisible and airborne to get onto the roof in the first place.
  Those conditions alone would deter almost all thieves.
Tanya:  But not us.
Peldor:  Nope.  (holds up two potion bottles)  If you'd care to
  have a drink with me, when the time is right?
Tanya:  (grins)

  They prepared for the break-in, an extensive and triply-checked
process.  First, they changed into black outfits, Tanya tying her
flowing red hair into a tight bundle which she tucked under her
collar.  Next came dark face-paint, a flat tone to avoid reflecting
light.  Both thieves made sure they carried numerous small picks
and tools, hidden on their bodies.  All unnecessary items were
left behind, in the room; no sense in weighing themselves down.
Two sets of "normal" clothes were folded tightly, going into a
small pack which was securely strapped to Peldor's back.  Most of
his usual items were put into his magical pouch.

Peldor:  Let's see here...rope of climbing.
Tanya:  Check.  Glass dagger?
Peldor:  Check.  Magical boots?
Tanya:  Double-check.  Spell scrolls?
Peldor:  Check.  Magical rings?
Tanya:  Check, check, check.  I think we're ready.
Peldor:  A kiss, then, for good luck?
Tanya:  I thought you had all the luck you needed.
Peldor:  Quit making excuses, you.  (they kiss, then prepare to
  drink the necessary potions)

  Opening the window to the night sky, Peldor then sipped the potion
of flying.  Following this, Tanya sipped the potion of invisibility.
Peldor next spoke the arcane words of power, summoning a sphere of
silence upon a small brick he found on the windowsill.  After this,
Peldor called upon the power of his magical feather tattoo to become
invisible, and carried Tanya as he flew up into the sky.  As an
afterthought, he used his telekinesis ring to gently push the room's
shutters closed.  One could, after all, never be too careful.
  Soaring through the sky above Dyvers, they arrived at the roof of
the exhibit vault in no time.  Peldor landed quietly, letting go of
Tanya as her feet touched the ground.  They quickly and efficiently
roamed the roof, settling on the center area as the best place to
cut through.  Peldor set about doing this, using his magical glass
dagger to carve through the metallic ceiling as if it were butter.
He did run into something he hadn't planned for:  about a foot down,
there was stone mixed in with the metal.  Fortunately, metal was as
air to Peldor's dagger, so he was basically cutting through a layer
of extremely porous stone, and the roof's construction didn't slow
him much.  He was doubly thankful for the silence scroll; without
it, the noise he had made while digging through the mixed layer
would have carried far.
  As Peldor cut and chipped away at the ceiling, Tanya had set a
thick blanket next to him; this was where the chunks of cut stone
ended up.  Despite the magical silence they enjoyed, old habits
died hard.  Tanya also stood watch, just in case, but all was quiet
and besides, they were invisible and inaudible.  It took precious
minutes, but finally Peldor had cut through the ceiling, using his
ring to catch the falling debris before it hit the vault floor.
This rubble ended up next to the other rubble, and Tanya folded the
blanket over it, smoothing it out to hide it from view.  A smaller
blanket, this one weighted at the corners and roughly the same color
as the roof, was to be used to cover the hole through the roof.
With this in mind, Peldor had tunneled as narrow a passage as was
possible, and his shoulders scraped as he wriggled through the hole.
  Tanya took out a pair of three-foot long, parallel metal bars,
opening them into an "X" shape above the hole.  The common center
of the two bars had a steel ring, and she deftly tied Peldor's rope
of climbing to this.  The finished device was put in place above
the hole, and allowed Tanya to descend, supported by the "X" of
metal bars in place over the hole.  She first arranged the weighted
blanket over the hole and the crossed bars, and then descended the
rope.
  The roof had been less than two feet thick, through, and Peldor,
still flying from his potion, caught Tanya gently as she popped
through the bottom of the hole.  They hovered there for a moment,
letting their eyes adjust to the darkness.  Both had excellent
night vision, but it was still necessary to use Tanya's sword to
cast a dim light on the vault's floor, for otherwise, neither thief
would have been able to see much.
  But the sights they saw!  The glass-topped jewelry cases had been
moved inside here, lined up neatly in rows along the floor.  Peldor
eyed the stone floor, reluctant to land there due to the possibility
of unknown traps.  He began to search for these, and this was why
Tanya had insisted on her rather complex bars-and-rope plan:  it
allowed her to dangle in midair, surveying the room's treasures while
Peldor was free to fly through the room, checking for traps.  Tanya
eyed the glass-covered cases, and quickly found the one which held
the crown, as well as other, lesser treasures.  She began thinking
of possible ways to get into the case, while Peldor hovered close to
the floor, disarming a pressure plate he had discovered.  It was a
crafty and well-done mechanism, barely visible even to his rather
experienced eye.  In fact, there were several more of these traps,
scattered throughout the room, but Peldor only needed to disarm the
single one adjacent to the case that held the jewelled crown.
  Tanya hung there in the air, nearly upside-down, giving Peldor a
hand sign that basically meant "now what?"  Peldor examined the
crown's case meticulously, careful not to touch it as yet.  The
rogue wasn't as much worried about further traps as he was about
a way to get into the case.  As it turned out, the case wasn't
locked, but instead trapped with the sort of trap that made lifting
it impossible.  A faint bluish rune engraved into the glass told
Peldor of some kind of magical trap, probably activated by touching
the glass lid.  He peered closer, taking Tanya's sword to use its
light close to the case; he realized that the glass was interwoven
with tiny filaments of metal.
  An electrical trap, then?  Peldor smiled to himself, for being
smarter than average had helped him more than once.  Like now.  He
handed the sword back to Tanya and used his magical ring to slowly
lift the glass cover.  The runes were silent, untriggered, and as
the case rose into the air, Peldor had to attempt a feat which he
had never attempted before.  He was forced to try, now, an impromptu
improvisation that just popped into his mind, unbidden.  He lifted
the crown as well, though he was forced to keep it at the same
approximate height as the glass cover.  When both were about three
feet up, he carefully reached out and took the crown!  Handing it
to Tanya, who stashed it safely away, he then took the fake crown
from her.  This whole time, he still had to keep the glass case
aloft - a demanding task indeed, as the sweat beaded on his brow
showed.
  The master thief triumphed, however, and within moments, both
the replica crown and the case's glass cover were gently lowered
to their original positions.  Breathing a long sigh of relief,
Peldor then drifted down to the floor, re-arming the pressure
plate there.  He then turned to Tanya, winking, and pointed up to
the hole in the ceiling.

Peldor:  (frowns)

  The hole!  After all their careful planning, they had neglected
to think about repairing or concealing it!  Tanya caught on quickly,
looking alarmed.  It wasn't that they could get caught - no, they
would be far from here by the time the fake crown vanished into
thin air.  But the idea of pulling this off without anyone knowing
just _how_ it had been accomplished - that now seemed impossible.
They couldn't really have found a way, for when one had to cut
through two feet of stone, what could one really do to hide it?

Peldor:  (frowns, then smiles)
Tanya:  (looks like she thinks he's crazy)
Peldor:  (produces a scrap of parchment and a tiny quill - things
  that he carries at all times - and carefully writes something)
Tanya:  (looking around, for they've been here too long already)
Peldor:  (shows Tanya the bit of paper)
Tanya:  (shrugs)
Peldor:  (flies down a bit, and leaves the paper atop a case which
  contains a set of jewelry that once belonged to Ivid II of Aerdy
  and is among the more valuable items in the collection)

  A short time afterward...

Tanya:  (closes the window, silently, and addresses Peldor in a
  hushed tone)  Who the hell's "Flavius Shadow-Walker?"  (she
  puts all her thief-gear, including the crossed bars and the two
  blankets, on the floor)
Peldor:  (holding the crown up, he examines it with a critical eye)
  Well, once I realized that we wouldn't be able to cover that hole,
  I began to think of other ways we could cover it.
Tanya:  There were none.  (she eyes the empty potion bottle in her
  hand, its invisibility-conferring contents were used up for the
  flight back to this room)
Peldor:  No, there weren't.  But, if we couldn't cover the stone
  physically, we could cover it logically.
Tanya:  I'm afraid I'm not following.  Could you get to the point?
Peldor:  Here it comes.  I covered it logically.  Flavius Shadow-
  Walker will see to that.
Tanya:  Who _is_ that person?
Peldor:  He was a famed thief in these parts, several centuries ago.
  He was highly skilled, even fearsomely so.  But he did it only for
  the thrill.  His trademark was to break into places but not take
  anything!
Tanya:  Ah...
Peldor:  Yes.  It pays to be versed in the history of thievery...
  I'll admit that the idea is weak, in some ways-
Tanya:  Like when the fake crown evaporates and they figure out what
  really happened.
Peldor:  -but strong in other ways.  If we're gone by the time they
  know that the legendary Flavius wasn't in fact here...
Tanya:  We're not going to ride right through the city gates, are we?
Peldor:  Oh, but we are.  I'm even thinking about sticking around
  here for an extra week or so.  They can't keep everyone here from
  leaving, not for that long.  There are thousands of visitors here,
  not to mention that it could've been a local job.
Tanya:  Maybe the drow would be willing to teleport us back to Grey-
  hawk, though.
Peldor:  Yeah...but then we'd be among those who somebody saw arrive
  here, but never leave.  No, we'll stay, as long as necessary.  If
  they think like most people, they'll figure the thief left tonight
  or early in the morning.  After all, what thief would be stupid
  enough to stay in the city of his crime?
Tanya:  And the crown, which you're carrying on your person?  What
  if they track it using magic?
Peldor:  The crown'll be in my pouch, meaning it's basically tucked
  away in a piece of some other plane of existence.  And I've got
  the pouch.  And as for locating me magically...well, let's just
  say I can be really tough to find that way.
Tanya:  Hmm.
Peldor:  Trust me on this, we'll be fine.

  The next day, the scandalous news spread through Dyvers like wild-
fire.  The vault of displayed jewels had been broken into, perhaps
by the legendary thief, Flavius!  Though the exact manner in which
he tunneled through the reinforced ceiling remained unknown (some
thought renegade earth elementals from the Wizards' Guild had pulled
it off) the feat itself was there for all to see.  None of the price-
less items had actually been taken, but the very notion of someone
toying with the collectors and authorities alike - as if they were
all complete and utter morons - was preposterous, though bold.  The
thieves' guild denied any and all involvement, pointing to the masses
of visitors currently in the city.  However, the city's ruling body
didn't want to run the risk of offending any visiting VIPs by falsely
accusing them, so it laid most of the responsibility for finding and
punishing the guilty party upon the exhibit's owners and organizers.
  This didn't change much when a particular treasure, an ancient be-
jewelled crown, mysteriously vanished an hour after the hole in the
ceiling was discovered.  All speculation now changed, for someone
closely involved with the exhibits must have used the earlier chaos
to take the crown and escape!  An extensive search was raised, but
its efficiency was weakened, for anyone and everyone who had anything
to do with the jewelry displays was suspect.  Many fingers were
pointed, and many accusations flew.  Perhaps it was an inside job?
Perhaps there weren't one, but several thieves?  Perhaps even the
legendary Flavius Shadow-Walker (whose legends grew more real with
each passing hour) had infiltrated the exhibit's corps of guards?
  Only one thing was certain:  the crown was gone, undoubtedly far
from Dyvers and the authorities, and nothing anyone tried was able
to pinpoint its location.

Peldor:  (eating lunch with Tanya and the drow)  Wow, this robbery
  really is quite a scandal.  (he pops a spiced shrimp into his
  mouth)  Who d'you suppose did it?
Tanya:  Beats me.
Alindyar:  Perhaps it was some foreigner.
Lyra:  Hmm.
Peldor:  Sure, that's just what they'd _like_ to think.
Alindyar:  What of that person you talked to yesterday, when you
  spoke of the crown's great age and history?
Peldor:  You think it might have been him?  (he chuckles as he recalls
  how he used his hat of disguise to appear as an aging gnome to that
  particular fellow)  Truly, who knows?
Lyra:  (smiling to herself)  Clever.
Tanya:  Eh?
Lyra:  I said, whoever got away with that crown must have been clever
  indeed.
Peldor:  Maybe even as clever as the mighty Peldor!





next:   the return of Bosco!
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  I guess I'm in such a happy mood because of the Braves'
  great start in the NLCS.  2-0 and coming back to Atlanta.  I
  sure hope the momentum prevails.  We're long overdue.
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