Chapter #295

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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  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Belphanior  13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN/E) +
+     Otto     6th/8th level dwarven warrior/thief           (CN)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        3/2/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       the town of Helgate, within the Clatspur Mountains  +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "He's come home...and he's very angry.  How does it feel to      +
+   know that you're damned?"                                       +
+                  - from _Halloween:  The Curse of Michael Myers_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                       CCXCV.  Showdown





  While Belphanior was away, Otto was subdued (though not without
cost) by Torin and his new companions.  Even now, dusk has fallen,
and the so-called "Crusaders" are waiting in the Raven's Nest Inn.

Torin:  (looking out a window, a futile action since it's dark out-
  side)  Damn it, where _is_ he?!?
Renoldo:  Don't worry.  My men are posted around this building's
  perimeter.  If - when - the elf comes back, they'll spot him and
  raise a cry.
Otto:  (snickers)  You bet your ass they will...
Torin:  (furious, he strides over to the beam where the dwarf is
  bound, hands behind his back and around the wooden column)  You!
  Quiet!
Otto:  (taking advantage of the tension which is thickly present in
  the room)  He'll kill you, you know.  All of you.  Your livers will
  be dessert tonight.
Torin:  (punches the dwarf in the stomach, to shut him up)
Otto:  Ungh!
Torin:  I told you to be silent!  Gods damn it, where _is_ that elf?
  (to Otto)  When do you expect him?
Otto:  When he gets here.
Torin:  (begins pacing the floor, waving his sword and cursing)

  Meanwhile, on the outside deck of the hotel's fourth floor, the
mercenaries kept watch.  They were well-trained, experienced men,
warriors one and all.  Renoldo had positioned them around the edge
of the railed, wooden deck, such that Belphanior could be spotted as
soon as he approached.
  Back inside the suite, Torin continued his tirade...

Torin:  (to the wizard Sarquay)  You're _sure_ your magic can take
  him out?
Sarquay:  Just leave it to me.
Zacharaiah:  If the elf truly cares about his friend here-  (points
  to the bound form of Otto)  -he won't just come in blasting.
Torin:  Right.  He'll have to be careful, and not attack blindly...
  whereas _we_ have no such limitations.  (he rubs his bloodshot eyes)
Renoldo:  (thinking)  Wait...if you're planning to use magic to stop
  him, then that means you're planning on him getting by my men.
Torin:  (irritated)  Yes.  So?
Renoldo:  So, he'll probably kill them!  You're using my men as bait!
Torin:  No, not bait.  (points to Otto)  _He's_ bait.  Your men are
  merely...valiant guards, who will prevent the elf from sneaking up
  on us.  Even if he sees them, he has no idea that we're in here,
  and the guards outside will keep him from thinking about the real
  trap.
Renoldo:  What the hell are you up to here?!?  (fairly upset, he waves
  his spiked mace around in the air, to punctuate his sentences)  My
  men aren't sacrificial lambs!
Torin:  Don't take that tone with me, damn y-

  There was a knock at the door.

Zacharaiah:  Someone should get that.
Torin:  Yes...(he hefts his sword)  You!  (points the weapon toward
  Renoldo's one mercenary who's in the room)  Open that door.
mercenary:  (clearly reluctant)
Torin:  Now!
Renoldo:  (to his man)  Don't you move.
Torin:  How dare you...
Sarquay:  (annoyed)  I'll get it.  (waves his hand, and the door
  swings open, revealing...a small form)
Eduardo:  (enters the room)
Torin:  What the hell are you doing here?
Eduardo:  (hands the warrior a scroll)  I was asked to bring this to
  you, sir.
Torin:  (eyeing the thing)
Sarquay:  Don't worry, it's not magical.
Torin:  (unrolls the scroll)  Hmm.
Zacharaiah:  What does it say?
Torin:  (frowns as he reads aloud)  "Anyone who doesn't want to die
  had better leave right now."  (he looks up)  Signed, "Belphanior"
Sarquay:  That boy has vanished.
Renoldo:  (to his man)  Go outside and tell the oth-

  Just then, a tall, gaunt, red-cloaked form appeared in the center
of the room; this new arrival was an elf, holding a black sword in
one hand and a wand in the other.  The latter item was aimed directly
at Torin.

Belphanior:  Nobody move or this chump gets it.
Otto:  (looks up)  Good to have you back!  Things were getting kinda
  boring without you.
Sarquay:  (frozen in place, for he was unprepared to cast a spell
  this quickly)
Torin:  (glaring at Belphanior, enraged)  YOU!
Belphanior:  (looks around, keeping his wand aimed at the warrior)
  Sounds like Torin...hmm, _looks_ like Torin too.  (to Otto)  How
  about that?
Otto:  (quietly working on his bonds)
Torin:  At last we meet again, evil one!
Belphanior:  Evil?  Me?  _I'm_ not the one who tore through half the
  town looking for someone who wasn't there...
Torin:  Bah.  Ofttimes, the innocent must make sacrifices, that the
  guilty may pay.  And you are most cert-
Belphanior:  (waves at Torin with his sword, as if the other were a
  flea, to be disregarded)  Eduardo says you beat up Perkins.  Even
  _I_ don't pick on old men.
Torin:  (trembling with rage)
Belphanior:  Nice scar, by the way.
Torin:  (draws his sword and charges, heedless of the wand pointed at
  him)  Prepare yourself - this shall be the last time we meet!
Belphanior:  Well, at last we agree on _something_.  (he speaks one
  word, and a lightning bolt issues forth, hitting the armored form
  of Torin squarely in the chest)
Torin:  AAAARGH!  (he sails back, through a dresser and then a wall
  and out of sight)

  Residual arcs of electricity danced about the room, hitting those
who had been standing closest to Torin:  Renoldo and Sarquay.  Otto
grimaced as a stray fork of lightning hit his leg.  Belphanior just
stood, laughing as the foes (except Torin) regrouped and moved to
attack him.  Renoldo and his mercenary flanked the elf, while the
warrior Zacharaiah moved in from the front.  Sarquay recovered from
the electrical discharge and stood, spellcasting.

Belphanior:  (whistles)  NOW!

  Suddenly, one window shattered, spraying all those inside the room
with shards of glass.  A massive and terrible creature entered the
chamber, flying on powerful, feathered wings.  It had the body of a
lion, and the head and wings of a hawk.  Before Belphanior could even
point at the foes, the monster swooped toward them, slashing with its
claws and beak.

mercenary:  (tries to shoot the thing with his crossbow, but misses,
  such is its speed)
Renoldo:  Aie!  (falls, wounded)
other mercenary:  (also falls, also wounded)
third mercenary:  (fires a bolt into the thing's side)
hieracosphinx:  (wounded, but not seriously, it screams with fresh
  rage, and lashes out at those nearest it)
Sarquay:  (knocked down, a cut across his chest)  Argh!  (he curses
  as his spellcasting efforts are ruined)
random mercenary:  (manages to block the thing's claw-swipe with his
  shield, though he buckles under the blow)  Ungh.
Belphanior:  Good thing the top-floor suites have vaulted ceilings...
  (having hasted himself, he stashes his wand away and leaps over to
  Otto, still tied to the beam)  Hold still.  (with a single slash,
  he cuts the ropes)
Otto:  Much thanks.  (he rubs his wrists as he looks around, for
  something to use as a weapon)
Belphanior:  (begins spellcasting)

  Meanwhile, some of the mercenaries who had been posted outside
finally arrived in the room, from the balcony.  Five of them now
spilled into the room.

Renoldo:  (stands, bleeding from a claw wound)  All of you are here
  ...so the elf didn't kill anyone.
Belphanior:  (off-handedly)  Not yet.  I teleported in here.
Renoldo:  That-  (he ducks, batting wildly with his mace as the
  hieracosphinx returns to swipe at him)  Damn it!  (to his men)
  Get that thing!  Corner it and kill it!  The wizard can't cast
  spells with that monster flying around causing trouble!
mercenaries:  (move to obey)
hieracosphinx:  (passes in front of Sarquay again, but Zacharaiah
  is there to block the attack)
Zacharaiah:  Hah!
Sarquay:  (spellcasting again)  My thanks.
Otto:  (grabs a chair, and charges one of the mercenaries)
mercenary:  You can't possibly hope to beat my sword with that chair,
  dwarf.
Otto:  Don't worry, I don't intend to.  (rather than swinging the
  chair as a weapon, he uses it as a shield, while he pushes the man
  into one of the other mercenaries)
mercenaries:  (both go down in a heap)
Belphanior:  (completes his spell, and turns toward Sarquay and those
  nearest him, uttering his Shout)  AAAAAA!
Sarquay:  (completing his spell at the exact same time as the elf,
  he launches a volley five of magic missiles, then falls to his
  knees, covering his ears with his hands)  Argh!
Zacharaiah:  (staggered by the piercing sound, he reels)
mercenary:  (likewise)
other mercenary:  (likewise)
Belphanior:  (hit by Sarquay's volley of magical missiles)
  Ungh!  Agh!  Urgh!  Argh!  Agh!  (he backs up, staggering himself)
Otto:  (tosses his chair at Sarquay, for good measure, then grabs a
  shortsword that somebody dropped)  Aha!  (he dashes toward Renoldo,
  who is once again busy fighting the hieracosphinx)
hieracosphinx:  (claws and bites at Renoldo and one of his men)
mercenary:  (stabs the monster in the leg)  Yeah!
hieracosphinx:  (slashes the man with a claw, knocking him back)
Renoldo:  Fool!  Didn't I teach you anything?!?  (he stabs the beast
  in the neck, then leaps back before it can counterattack)  See?
Otto:  (backstabs the warrior next to Renoldo)
mercenary:  (falls, Otto's swordpoint protruding from his chest)  B-
  but...how?  (he crumples)
hieracosphinx:  (surges forward, to attack Renoldo)  Screeeee!
Renoldo:  Eyaaaagh!

  Meanwhile, the mage Sarquay was hastily trying to get another
spell cast, before Belphanior could reach him.  Zacharaiah moved
to defend the wizard, sword flashing...

Zacharaiah:  Now you die!  (stabs Belphanior in the chest with his
  spear)  Ha-  huh?
Belphanior:  (shrugs off the deadly blow, due to a previously cast
  Stoneskin spell, and grabs the spear, easily tearing it from the
  surprised foe's hands)  Bah.  (he tosses the weapon aside, and
  swings at Zacharaiah)
Zacharaiah:  (hit in the neck, he is mortally wounded)  Aieeee...
Belphanior:  (kicks the falling foe aside and makes a beeline for
  Sarquay, who has retreated ten feet in the last ten seconds)  I
  think you'd better just give it up.
Sarquay:  I think not.  (he gestures at the elf, and a gigantic,
  shimmering hand of energy appears)
Belphanior:  Whoa!
Sarquay:  (directs the hand, which moves to Belphanior, pushing him
  away)
Belphanior:  (struggling to no avail)  Hey!  I can't believe this
  is happening...!
Sarquay:  (yawns)  As you can see, my power can easily keep you at
  bay.
Belphanior:  Pal, you should have used one of the Bigby's hands that
  crushes, because sooner or later I'll get by this one.
Torin:  (steps back into the room, kicking aside rubble)  Not before
  _I_ finish you.

  The warrior was a sight to behold.  His once-shiny armor was black
with soot, and the entire front chest area was one big burn mark.
Parts of Torin's short beard were singed or burnt away, and more soot
covered his exposed skin.  Blood trickled from his ears and mouth,
and yet, he lived, and in fact advanced, driven by rage.

Torin:  (moving around Sarquay's magical force-hand)  Just stay put,
  elf.
Belphanior:  Not likely.
Sarquay:  (leaves the hand to its own devices, and begins casting a
  spell to deal with the hieracosphinx)
Otto:  (moving around to confront the wizard, he finds himself facing
  Torin)  Oops.
Torin:  Die!  (he slashes at the dwarf)
Otto:  (blocks the blow, but is nearly floored by Torin's greater-
  than-human strength)  Ungh!
Torin:  Hah.  (he stabs at Otto again)
Otto:  (jumps back, but still takes a shallow cut in the leg)  Argh!

  Otto was a good fighter, but Torin was a better one, and Otto was
forced to back away, again and again.  The only good side to this
was that Torin had forgotten about Belphanior, for the moment.

Belphanior:  (uses a Disintegrate spell, firing a thin green beam at
  the magical hand...causing it to vanish)  So much for that...(he
  turns, to survey the other areas of the battle)

  One thing could be said for the hieracosphinx:  it was tough.  The
creature had taken more than a dozen wounds, from various weapons,
and had still fought on valiantly, killing two of the mercenaries
and wounding two others.  Renoldo had fallen, as well, and appeared
unconscious or dead.  The hieracosphinx's fight came to an end when
Sarquay's magical bolt enveloped its body, transforming it into a
large fly.

Sarquay:  Ha!  Now for-  (he turns, and finds Belphanior standing
  a mere ten feet from him)  Oh.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (leaps forward, slashing)
Sarquay:  (reels, and purely by luck, avoids getting his head cut
  off; instead, he suffers a shallow neck wound)  Argh!
Belphanior:  I missed.  (he looks at his sword as if it was the
  weapon's fault)
Sarquay:  (lying on the ground, attempting to work some magic to
  save his life)
Belphanior:  Too late.  (raises his sword)

  Just then, the elf spotted, out of the corner of his eye, Otto
being beaten back by Torin.  The dwarf had lost his sword, and
Torin was raising his own.

Belphanior:  (looks at Sarquay, his eyes narrowed)  I'll be back.
  (he leaps away, charging at Torin)  TORRRRRRIN!!!
Torin:  (pauses)  Eh?
Otto:  (rolls away, scrambling madly; he bleeds from a number of
  wounds, and is exhausted)
Belphanior:  Torin!  Die!
Torin:  (whirls, to meet the elf's sword with his own)  At last!

  They began swordfighting, while Otto crept away quietly.  The
remaining mercenaries were out of the fight for now, as they worked
to bind the wounds of their fallen master, Renoldo.  To one side,
Sarquay was working more of his magicks.

Sarquay:  (spellcasting)
hieracosphinx-fly:  (buzzing angrily around Sarquay's head)

  Nearby...

Belphanior:  (ignores a glancing blow, which is deflected by his
  Stoneskin)
Torin:  Fall, damn you!
Belphanior:  Don't count on it.  (he slashes deftly, driving Torin
  back with a new shoulder wound)
Torin:  Argh!

  This duel was much like the one Belphanior had fought with Dagron
several weeks ago, except that Torin was stronger, if a bit slower.
His bastard sword also seemed to aid him in the battle, for it glowed
with an orange aura as Torin slashed and parried.

Sarquay:  (watching the two fight)  The time has come to end this.
  (he begins hurling small, fiery globes at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (hit by the first couple, he loses the last remnants of
  his Stoneskin; each of the missiles that hits him after that burns
  a small crater in his skin)  Argh!  Urgh!  Argh!
Torin:  (watching the elf stagger and buckle before the assault)
  Now the time has come to rid the world of you, vile elf!

  Belphanior was on his knees, stunned; as Torin slashed at his head,
he found one last burst of speed, and ducked.

Torin:  Damn!  (he charges at the elf, who has rolled away and gotten
  back to his feet, all in the blink of an eye)
Belphanior:  (also charging, he parries, then collides with Torin)

  Both combatants staggered back, a mass of arms, legs, and swords;
they collided with the door to the room, which was ajar, and then
spilled into the hall.

Torin:  (trips, and falls into the bannister, shattering a large
  section of the old wooden rails)  Ungh!
Belphanior:  (teetering on the edge of the broken bannister)  Whoa...
Torin:  (refusing to let go of his foe, he pulls the elf over with
  him)

  Both combatants spilled over, into empty space; they fell all the
way to the bottom floor of the inn, trading blows until they hit
the floor, thirty feet below.

  As the two warriors were fighting their way out of the room,
Sarquay was already at work on his next spell.  Otto, however, had
other ideas; he picked up the fallen Zacharaiah's spear, and hurled
it across the room with all his might.  Sarquay's smile turned into
a grimace as the enchanted weapon struck home, passing clear through
his stomach and pinning him to the wall behind.

Sarquay:  Urghk...(he clutches futilely at the spear in his belly)
Otto:  (stands, admiring his handiwork)  Hmm.  You look good, stuck
  to the wall like that.  (he turns, picking up another discarded
  sword)

  The dwarf found himself facing the three surviving mercenaries,
who were carrying Renoldo's body.  The mercenaries' leader was badly
cut up, from his battle with the hieracosphinx; blood flowed freely
from his body.  Otto couldn't tell if the man would live or die, but
he decided to go after Belphanior and Torin rather than face three
foes at once.  He dashed out of the room and down the stairs.
  Meanwhile, on the floor far below, the two combatants had both
lost their swords, and were struggling to rise to their feet.  The
fight went on, despite their battered and broken bodies; they began
a slugfest, punching, kicking, and wrestling.  This was no longer a
contest of skill, but rather one of brute strength and raw stamina.
Both warriors possessed great strength, far more than the average
man, and the blows they now traded cracked bones and drew blood.

Torin:  (kicks the elf in the crotch)  Take that!
Belphanior:  (staggers)  Ungh...
Torin:  (swings around with another kick)
Belphanior:  (catches the man's foot, something he might have seen
  Rillen do once)  Whoa!  It really _does_ work!  (his eye glowing,
  he twists, hard, and something in the foot snaps)
Torin:  AAARGH!
Belphanior:  Enjoyed that, eh?  (he grabs Torin's head and rams it
  into one of the landing's wooden posts, repeatedly)  One...two...
  three...
Torin:  (dazed and bloody)  Ungh!  Argh!  Urghk!
Belphanior:  (kicks the other in the neck, as hard as he can, then
  slams his head into the narrow space between two railing posts)
  This ends...now.
Torin:  (spits out teeth and bits of flesh)  You're...right.  (he
  tears a wooden beam from beside him, and clubs Belphanior in the
  face with it)
Belphanior:  Argh!  (reels, wiping blood from his eyes)
Torin:  (somehow finding the strength to stand he hobbles toward the
  nearest weapon - the dark blade of Belphanior)  I'm going to...urk.
  ...kill you with your own...blade, you bastard.
Belphanior:  (on his knees, he watches the armored warrior pick up
  Blackrazor)  Fuck this.

  Belphanior's red eye blazed to life, the flames within seeming
ready to spill out, as it unleashed its mightiest power...

Belphanior:  (his face a maniacial, bloody visage)  How's it feel to
  have your bones dissolved?
Torin:  AAAARGH!  (stumbling as his body is wracked with pain)  NO!
  Your demon powers won't...save you today!  You...are going to DIE!
Belphanior:  Oh, shit.  (he rolls toward the bastard sword of Torin
  as the warrior begins to charge)

  Torin made a valiant lunge, but his decaying skeleton failed him,
and he crumpled to the floor as Belphanior rolled aside, picking up
the fallen warrior's bastard sword.

Belphanior:  (stands, weakly)  It's time, Torin.
Torin:  (trying to get to his feet as well)  No...I can't die...now.
Belphanior:  I beg to differ.  (he swings the sword in a mighty arc,
  decapitating Torin)
Torin:  (falls, his head rolling into a position where it can see
  its headless body, Belphanior standing over it, victorious)
Belphanior:  (staggers back, then falls into a sitting position,
  dropping the sword)  Ungh.
Otto:  (arrives just in time to see the end of the battle)  Whew.
Belphanior:  (sees Otto)  Well, that's that.  How'd you fare up
  there?
Otto:  I'm alive, they're not.  Oh, wait-
mercenaries:  (appear behind Otto, carrying Renoldo's limp form;
  they halt upon seeing the dwarf, and below, the elf)
Otto:  (eyes the three men)
Belphanior:  (finds the strength to pull himself to his feet)
mercenaries:  We just want to get Renoldo out of here, and find a
  leech to try and save him.  We don't have any trouble with you.
Otto:  (looks to Belphanior)
Belphanior:  (slumps against a wall, pointing downstairs with his
  bloody sword)  Go.  Be out of town by tomorrow, and don't ever
  come back.
mercenaries:  (descend the stairs, carefully and thankfully, taking
  Renoldo's body with them)
Otto:  Ugh.  (slowly, painfully, he walks down the stairs to join
  Belphanior)  I could sure use a beer right now.
Belphanior:  You're on.  (he falls to a sitting position, amidst a
  growing pool of blood)  Ow.
Otto:  Hah ha.





next:   ?
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  In the middle of this one, I took off to watch Game 2 of
  the Series.  This happened at about the time the hieracosphinx
  showed up.  Anyway, after the game I finished this story.  The
  Braves are now up 2-0 in the Series.  This is the year...!

    Yet more fan mail; this batch covers Belphanior's wanderings
  from 269-274 (the first part of what has become the Torin saga.)
  I'll say this first:  this story-arc was among the most popular
  I've ever written, and the readers certainly let me know!





>>  This looks very good. Can't wait to see what happens!
>>
>>  Eric



>>  Belp's quest started (Whee!) and I hope he kills time well <g>.
>>  What kind of bloke this Torin is? Don't tell he's 20+ level
>>  paladin with a company of henchmen to back him up.....future
>>  would not look too good for the elf. Or then again, it could
>>  look much better...
>>
>>  VP



>>  Well now, this is an interesting turn of events! Belphanior is
>>  definitely sliding firther and further towards evil. He also
>>  appears to be abandoning his old adventuring companions - I
>>  thought he treated Peldor rather poorly, to say the least, even
>>  after Belphanior found that Peldor used up a favor just to warn
>>  him. This certainly seems consistent with the direction that
>>  Belphanior is going, just as its consistent for Peldor and
>>  Alindyar to be concerned about him... but for how much longer?
>>
>>  It seems that Torin is rather gullible, considering he swallowed
>>  everything that he was told about Belphanior in Narwell. His doo-
>>  goody-good attitude is probably blinding him, which may make it
>>  easier for Belphanior and Otto to set a trap for his party.
>>
>> I'm dying to read what happens when Torin meets up with Belphanior.
>>
>> Leonard

  So were Torin and all his men...   :)



>>  These two certainly are a gritty, hard-nosed change from the
>>  entertaining pairing of Mongo and Bosco.  I think the
>>  Belphanior-lovers among the readers are really going to like
>>  this one.
>>
>>  Rance



>>  Hehehe...I guess it was only a matter of time before Belphanior
>>  really became a wanted man...,er, elf.  I was somewhat surprised
>>  that he tried to fence his loot in Narwell, rather than try to
>>  take it to another nearby town to dump.  The other intriguing
>>  question was how did the fence, ruffian, et al. know Belphanior
>>  was the one who had made the theft?  Belphanior, if nothing else,
>>  is a very good thief....
>>
>>  Who would have thought, back when I started reading these (oh
>>  so long ago), that they would ever reach _269 episodes?_

  Not me   :)

>>  Well done.  Of course, one now only waits for it to dawn on
>>  Belphanior that if the two drow can find him, others can too....
>>
>>  Regards,
>>        Tom



>>  This Belphanior storyline looks pretty interesting so far.
>>
>>      Curt



>>  Let me guess... you've played Master of Magic? (Torin, Roland
>>  and Warrax all showing up at once.... :-)
>>
>>  Brett

  When I bogart names, I do it in groups...   :)



>>  Great ep, Thomas.  I'd forgotten how much fun Belphanior was.
>>  You've done a great job with Belphanior and Otto.  It's kind
>>  of amusing that the violent and "evil" characters have more
>>  of my sympathy than the "good" party who are trying to bring
>>  them to "justice".  I'm looking forward to the meeting
>>  between the groups.
>>
>>  Greg



  Now for some Blackrazor questions:

>>  On occasion, Belphanior decides he can't attack some undead with
>>  Blackrazor (for example, a spectre in #100; grep is a wonderful
>>  tool), but other times (with different undead -- like this
>>  episode's ghouls) he just goes ahead and slices them up.  What
>>  exactly is the difference here?
>>
>>  Rob

>>  Oops.  I thought it was a characteristic of Blackrazor that it
>>  works in _reverse_ on undead, since they don't really have
>>  conventional souls
>>
>>  Edward

  Okay, here's the deal:  when Blackrazor hits a negative-energy
undead creature, levels get drained _from_ the wielder _into_ the
undead foe.  Thus, vampires, spectres, wights, and wraiths are
particularly bad choices for Belphanior to inflict his wrath upon.



>>  Strangely enough, I find myself more anxious about the
>>  Belphanior/Turin encounter than what he and Otto might find in
>>  the cairn.
>>
>>  Leonard

  Happy to hear it, for this was the intention!



>>  Once again, thanks for the stories, I was really looking forward
>>  to more exploits of Belphanior.
>>
>>  .marc



>>  oh, i can certainly hear him saying that, too.  otto is certainly
>>  my favorite character in terms of attitude --- no one else, not
>>  even belphanior, has that "survivor" behavior that an adventurer
>>  *must* have, realistically speaking.
>>
>>  sure, peldor is cool, mongo is tough, and ged is arrogant . . .
>>  but only otto walks around with a primary motivating force of
>>  being ready to do whatever it takes to wake up the next morning.
>>
>>  on the downside, it's left him looking kinda one-dimensional in
>> the stories ;-(
>>
>>  ok
>>  dpm



  Here's a reader picking up on a little tidbit that I kinda stuck in
one story:

>>  I have to agree with Belphanior:
>>
>>  > Belphanior:  A magical seal...like the kind used to ward off
>>  >   demons.
>>  > Otto:  You mean tanar'ri?
>>  > Belphanior:  Call them whatever you want, but they'll still be
>>  >   demons.
>>
>>  -- Rahul

  Heh.  TSR, kiss my ass...



>>  This is just to let you know I appreciate being on your mailing
>>  list for the stories, and am thrilled by a number of aspects you
>>  weave into them - the development of the 'minor' characters, the
>>  consistency of the timeline, and the increasing powers of their
>>  opponents - with still the occasional foe that is beyond even the
>>  combined might of the party.
>>  Keep up the most excellent work.
>>  As for your thoughts on the characters becoming 'demi-gods' in
>>  later stories, well ... some of them are there already !
>>  --
>>  Colin



>>  Way cool story Thomas...
>>
>>  So when are you going to tell us what happens to Torin ?  He's
>>  much too good (bad pun sorry) a villan (villan ?) to not return
>>  to haunt (perhaps considering his undead opponents) Belphanior
>>  again.
>>             Wayne

  Hmm, it's too late now, but that would have been an interesting
twist.  But Torin's at least made his re-appearance.



>>  Great, great, great! Is Belphanior _the_ ultimate character or
>>  what?  I mean, he killed the troops and _was_ cool (well, ok,
>>  this was rather explained by Blackrazor's power but still!), he
>>  kept gutting men all the time explaining to them that they don't
>>  stand a chance whatsoever!  And the twist with Otto and Weasel...
>>  i really liked this code of honor, i was ever its supporter the
>>  few times i've played an evil character (or in general someone
>>  who puts his interests above other people's).
>>
>>  ...
>>
>>  _But_!!! Why leave at the end?
>>
>>  ...
>>
>>  The only good reason i can find for Belphanior to leave is
>>  contempt for Torin (ie. he knows that he can beat him and doesn't
>>  want those who sent Torin to send someone stronger), but that
>>  sounds weak too, as i'd _bet_ that Belphanior would now go after
>>  those very same men - Greyhawk's Oligarhy.
>>
>>  Sorry, it was a bit larger than expected, but, man, this was _the_
>>  greatest story. Personally, both my favorite stories include
>>  Belphanior , the other one being the horror theme with Rillen et.
>>  al (the fog beast).
>>
>>  Ciao,
>>
>>              Marios



>>       Just a quick note to say great story!  It's good to start out
>>  my work day with an Adventurers story.  I knew Belphanior was more
>>  than Torin bargained for, but I have a feeling we'll see more of
>>  him in the future.  After Belphanior's hide.  Hhhmmm...he might
>>  even go after some of Belphanior's friends, to try and draw him
>>  out.  Interesting possibilities as usual.  Keep up the good work.
>>    Michael



>>  I just finished reading #274.  Great stuff, though I think that
>>  Torin and his band should have stuck to fighting ogres and trolls
>>
>>  tab



>>   It is nice to see Belphanior back in action.  Torin was way to
>>  cocky for someone as vicious as Belphanior.  Hopefully he will
>>  become a really good opponent now that he realized that Roland
>>  won't be talking to anyone soon.  Heh.
>>
>>  Keep them coming.  The stories are great.
>>
>>  Marcus



>>  Reading the newest stories, I am reminded, the adventure where
>>  Belph got Black Razor was a behind the scenes kinda thing.  If
>>  he happens to get captured, and then questioned about the sword,
>>  it might make a good time to relate how he came by it.  Was in
>>  the sewers, if I remember right....
>>
>>  Kyle

  Perhaps someday...?



>>  What about making Belphanior's eye turn him so evil the rest of
>>  the party go after him to remove it and save his life or some-
>>  thing, just a thought.. :)
>>  Kerry

  Good question...is Belphanior moving toward the kind of evil that
might someday pit him against Ged, or is his sojourn in Helgate
going to move him away from the path of evil?
  Do you get the feeling that I'm not going to answer this question
right now?    :)



>>  Is the soul draining power of Blackrazor addictive?  In other
>>  words, could Belphanior become a "soul junky" looking for more
>>  and more powerful creatures to slay assuming that more powerful
>>  creatures give Blackrazors' wielder a greater "rush" when when
>>  consuming the soul?
>>
>>  .marc

  I recently read an interview in "People" magazine; Larry Hagman
talked about how he had several drinks a day for forty-something
years, but when the doctors told him that he had to stop or die, he
went cold turkey, successfully.  I like to think that Belphanior
also possesses this kind of willpower.



  More Blackrazor speculations...

>>  Just a question...
>>
>>  Where do those souls go?  IS there some demon down there becoming
>>  extremely pleased with Belphanior??
>>
>>  Patrick



>>  I think the souls are kept in Blackrazor in a form of infinite
>>  torture. It feeds off them while they slowly regnerate. This is
>>  where the healing burst for Belphanior comes from.
>>
>>  Eric



>>  Souls in ADND obviously have an existence which can be tracked,
>>  manipulated, and destroyed by magical means.
>>
>>  Given Blackrazor's healing/augmentation powers, I'd say the soul
>>  is destroyed to gain energy for the sword and the wielder.
>>
>>  I wouldn't assign any malevolent entity to Blackrazor's power.
>>  It's simply dark magic.
>>
>>  Rance



>>  Here are my thoughts...
>>
>>  BlackRazor was put on Oerth, or was created on Oerth with
>>  powerful magics.  Perhaps tied to some powerful entity or
>>  entities who are receiving the souls from Blackrazor as payments
>>  for the power.  The wielder may in fact become slowly the servant
>>  of said entities...or may be in the process of freeing the entity
>>  or entity from imprisonment wherever that may be.
>>
>>  Patrick

  This is a tough one to answer, so I won't try...

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