Chapter #300

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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  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                             PROLOGUE

  Belphanior figured that the scroll must have been planted in his
room sometime earlier that day, while he was out and about on town
business.  The exact nature of its arrival was a mystery, however,
as his door had not been disturbed (magical protections ensured this,
after the recent debacle with Torin) and Otto hadn't been by.
  After using a spell to ensure that the scroll didn't carry glyphs,
symbols, or other harmful seals, the elf broke the thin cord that
bound the scroll, and opened it.  The handwriting was neat, flowing
in the Elven script, and Belphanior read it to himself silently.


     _____________________________________________________________
   /                                                             / \
 /                                                             / \_/
|                                                             |
|                                                             |
|        You are cordially invited to a most joyous event,    |
|   that being the honorable one-hundredth birthday party     |
|   of the graceful and beautiful Lyra-                       |
|                                                             |
|        To be held on Earthday, the fourteenth day of the    |
|   month of Planting, on the five-hundred-and-seventy-fifth  |
|   year of the Common reckoning-                             |
|                                                             |
|        In that most esteemed of establishments, the noble   |
|   Green Dragon Inn, within the Free City of Greyhawk-       |
|                                                             |
|        This being a surprise party, your presence would be  |
|   most appreciated at or before dusk, of that very day.     |
|                                                             |
|        Yours,                                               |
|                                                             |
|                          Alindyar Rillsifane                |
|                                                             |
|                                                             |
 \                                                             \ / \
   \_____________________________________________________________\_/


Belphanior:  Hmm.  (he ponders to himself as he re-reads the scroll)
  Boy, will everyone be surprised to see me...





+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+                           Presenting                              +
+                                                                   +
+    The proud culmination of four years of writing, re-writing,    +
+  criticism, praise, blood, sweat, tears, and various intangibles: +
+  The three-hundredth episode of THE ADVENTURERS, wherein all are  +
+  reunited in one place and time...                                +
+                                                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Alindyar     16th level dark elven mage                     (N)  +
+  Lyra         12th level female dark elven mage              (N)  +
+  Belphanior   13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN)  +
+  Ged          14th/14th level grey elven priest/mage        (NG)  +
+     Arnold    12th level human warrior                      (NG)  +
+     Nenya     8th/9th level female elven warrior/mage       (NG)  +
+  Mongo        17th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+     Gorin     8th level dwarven warrior                     (CG)  +
+  Peldor       19th level human thief                         (N)  +
+     Bosco     10th level halfling thief                      (N)  +
+     Tanya     5th/11th level female human warrior/thief     (LN)  +
+  Rillen       17th level human warrior                       (N)  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/14/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        early evening                                       +
+  Place:       the Green Dragon Inn, in Greyhawk                   +
+  Climate:     cold outside, cozy inside                           +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "What a long, strange trip it's been."                           +
+                         - from _Truckin'_, by the Grateful Dead   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                         CCC.  Centennial





  Alindyar and Lyra have completed a bit of window shopping in Grey-
hawk's marketplaces, and are returning home even now.

Lyra:  I still don't understand how you could have left your ring
  behind.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  'Twas an oversight.  My knuckle was swollen
  from that box I smashed it with, and I had to remove the ring ere
  the bloodflow to the finger was stilled.
Lyra:  That's weird.  You never drop anything.
Alindyar:  Never say never.  Now where shall we eat tonight?
Lyra:  I have no idea.  Seafood, maybe?  Or even...hell, I don't
  really know.
Alindyar:  Hmm, we shall have to find something special for your
  first century birthday.  (smiles)
Lyra:  (eyes her mate)  You have something in mind, don't you?
Alindyar:  You could say that I made a reservation...

  As they approached the Green Dragon Inn, walking up the wide front
steps, they made more small talk.  As they entered, Lyra frowned,
for the usual doorman wasn't there.  Furthermore, the place was
utterly empty.

Lyra:  Now that's odd...
Alindyar:  (snaps his fingers)

  Suddenly, everything changed, the empty room changing to a full
one, in the blink of an eye.  Tables, food, drink, people, noise -
all were there, instantaneously, and the effect was nothing short
of startling.

Peldor:  (in the forefront of the crowd, he leads a yell)  SURPRISE!
Lyra:  (shocked)  B- but...
crowd:  (raising glasses and goblets as they clap and cheer loudly)
Alindyar:  (trying hard not to smirk)
Lyra:  (speechless, she finally turns to Alindyar)  You...
Alindyar:  (shrugs innocently)  'Twas I.
Lyra:  You!  (she leaps into his arms, almost knocking him down)
crowd:  (cheering even more loudly)

  With that, the birthday party was in full swing!  As planned by
Alindyar and Peldor, it was quite an affair, requiring that the Green
Dragon Inn be closed to the public.  Only those with invitations were
present this night.  The inn's dining room had been re-organized, to
allow for the magnificent feast put together for this occasion.  The
appetizers were brought out on trays, and they varied greatly as to
type and taste.  There were mushrooms, stuffed with bread crumbs and
sauteed with shallots and savory in clarified butter.  There were
thin, one-inch squares of pork, marinated in a candied-ginger curry
sauce, and broiled on the grill until a glazed to a reddish brown.
Another tray held puff pastries, baked golden brown and filled with
sweet meats.  Yet another server bore a plate stacked with small
balls of ground veal served in a spicy, browned tomato paste.  After
all of these had been brought out, and were circulated, the servers
went back to the kitchen, quickly returning with more trays filled
with more appetizers.  One held thin slices of cantaloupe (a fruit
not found anywhere near Greyhawk) covered with equally thin slices
of fresh raw salmon, drizzled with a basil-infused olive oil.  The
next tray featured a chilled terrine of black beans, surrounded by
bright green vegetables of various types.  A third platter had both
a goose liver pate' and poached eggs suspended in a delicate aspic
of lamb; both were served with toasted slices of bread.

  Presented with these delicious (if mysterious, to some) appetizers
were an equally impressive variety of drinks:  dry, pink Celenian
champagne; several light, dry white wines; three types of ales, one
a rare dwarven keg imported specially from Yod Ironbeard's breweries
in Thunderdelve; four beers, ranging from an almost clear one to a
nearly black lager; and finally, there was a small keg of gnomish
mead, from the Flinty Hills region.  Besides these intoxicants, a
selection of fruit juices, chilled milk, and spring water was there
for any who weren't in the mood for alcohol.

  Given these appetizers and drinks, the guests were both mystified
and pleased, and they began to mingle freely...



Bosco:  -and then I played my final hand, and won it all!  The whole
  shebang!  You should have seen it!  (he cavorts in glee, dressed
  in a tiny but expensive silken vest and polished, size 3 boots)
Sylvie:  (still confused about the nature of the Dragon-Deck game)
  I guess so...(in typical siren fashion, she wears very little in
  the way of clothing, though it's extravagant, for her)
Bosco:  So you don't have any card games beneath the waters of the
  sea, eh?
Sylvie:  Not really.
Bosco:  (glancing at his ring of x-ray vision, then at the siren)
  Hmmmm.  Too bad.

Nenya:  (wearing a long but snugly-fitting white dress that clings
  to her slim elfin body)  So everything's better, now?
Ged:  Entirely.  I've re-affirmed my faith in Boccob, and am working
  on plans to mix the adventuring and the religious obligations.
Nenya:  I wasn't aware that you were having trouble.
Ged:  Neither was I.  (he frowns, and picks a piece of blue lint from
  his fine purple-and-silver robe)
Nenya:  Nice outfit.
Ged:  Ditto for yours.
Nenya:  (smiles inwardly, for she was hoping he would notice and say
  something)

Mongo:  (in one of those rare times that he isn't wearing armor, he
  is instead dressed in a thick double-breasted woolen jacket and
  baggy leggings, all of which look too tight)  The place is called
  Thunderdelve Mountain.
Kiel Morgan:  (dressed in a grey suit, he looks the part of a born
  noble, through and through)  Thunderdelve?  I've never been there,
  though I'd have liked to.
Mongo:  Maybe another time, I can take you there.  It's sure to get
  your interest.
Kiel Morgan:  From what the legends say, it probably would.  I've
  done a great deal of exploring at the ends of the world, but at
  times I forget that great treasures and wonders lie right here,
  in the continent's center.
Mongo:  The world's center, if you go down far enough.
Kiel:  Aye.  (launches into a discussion of spelunking)

Rillen:  (garbed in a simple, loose-fitting, dull black robe with
  arms and legs)...black-clad warriors, I tell you.  I've never seen
  their like.
Halbarad:  (wearing a green V-necked shirt and brown leggings)  Me
  neither, though I've heard tales of mysterious clans of secluded
  warriors, training in long-forgotten, mystical arts.
Rillen:  Well, I'll say this:  they're out there.  I saw them, and
  lived.
Halbarad:  Lucky you.
Rillen:  Perhaps.  So, where have you been?
Halbarad:  (shrugs)  Here...there...everywhere.
Rillen:  Wandering the world, eh?
Halbarad:  (nods)  Helping those of the forests, nay, helping any
  who were in need.
Rillen:  It must be nice...no cities, no laws, none of that...crap.
Halbarad:  Freedom.  True, unbridled freedom.  You should try it.
Rillen:  Perhaps I should.

Alindyar:  (wearing a suit of silvery-grey fabric, and a cloak of
  fine black silk, both of which were purchased from a dealer in
  rare cloths, at great cost)  I truly believe that the blood of the
  blue dragon holds the key to the entire formula.
Jawal Severnain:  (the drow librarian of the Guild of Wizardry, and
  an old friend of Alindyar)  Hmm.  I suspect you're right.
Alindyar:  (clenching his fists)  I _have_ to be.
Jawal Severnain:  I've a tome that may help.
Alindyar:  How?  I have already found every book that might be of use
  in this research...
Jawal Severnain:  (smiling)  No, you haven't.
Alindyar:  Oh.
Jawal Severnain:  Only the head librarian knows where everything is,
  my friend.
Alindyar:  I see.
Jawal Severnain:  Have you had any luck with the illusion research?
Lyra:  Pardon me, Jawal, but it's my party and I want to dance with
  this handsome fellow.  (she tugs Alindyar away by one arm)

  As the drow moved over to the dance floor, Alindyar nodded once
to one of the musicians.  Shortly, a lively tune, distinctively
elven, was begun and the two drow danced together to the cheers of
the crowd.

Alindyar:  (to Lyra)  Not bad for a century old girl.
Lyra:  (spinning and curtsying all at once)  Thank you.

  Other couples joined the dance floor after the drow took their
bows, and most of the crowd went back to its discussions.

old man:  (nearly runs into Tanya)  Excuse me...(he is garbed in a
  badly wrinkled suit, and wears a long-brimmed hat)
Tanya:  (laughing)  It's okay.
old man:  (staring in fascination at the woman, who is wearing one
  of those shirts that laces at the bosom, and a tight-fitting pair
  of matching, light brown breeches)
Tanya:  (not unaware of her clothing's excellent fit)  And you are?
old man:  (kisses her hand)  Duzon, sage extraordinaire and professor
  of history at the Grey College, at your service, madam.
Tanya:  Ah!  You must know everything!
Duzon:  Almost.  Why, I could tell you of the Great Dev-  (he takes
  a drink from a passing serving wench)  Thank you, my dear!  (to
  Tanya)  Now where were we?
Tanya:  The Great Devastation...
Duzon:  Yes, yes, of course!  (he begins babbling about some long-
  past cataclysm)

Deryck:  (Ged's half-elven castle commander and a capable ranger,
  he has found Halbarad)  -the great wastes of the Burneal.  I've
  been there once.
Halbarad:  Me, too.  A vast place, that.
Deryck:  I even saw the legendary hermit once!
Halbarad:  Hermit?  What hermit?
Deryck:  (ignoring the question, for he has had several mugs of fine
  Furyondian ale)  It was a long time ago...twelve, no, thirteen
  years.  I was with a scouting group, and we were several leagues
  into the woodlands when dark savages attacked.  They didn't get
  many of us, for we were well-armed, but most of our food was lost
  in the raid.
Halbarad:  Hmm.
Deryck:  We were fairly worried about making it out of there alive,
  but the next day, we found the food...and the bodies of a few dozen
  savages.  All had been slain by arrows, and piled nearby.
Halbarad:  Strange.
Deryck:  You're telling me.  It was as if someone wanted us to leave
  that place - and we did!  Posthaste, we took our rations and went
  south, abandoning the expedition.  At one point, I looked back, and
  saw a dark figure move behind a tree.
Halbarad:  You're certain?
Deryck:  I'd like to think so, but the truth was that I was tired
  and half-starved.  One's eyes can play tricks...but the legend of
  the roaming hermit of the Burneal is true, in any case.
Halbarad:  Hmm.  I shall have to learn more of this...legend.
Deryck:  Take care, that you survive the experience.

Vinnie:  (dressed in a huge all-white suit, that still comes close to
  being too small, he is manning the door, chatting with a withered
  fellow who has just arrived)  You're who?
wizened man:  (garbed in a simple brown robe)  Nevel mind, they sharr
  legognize me.
Vinnie:  (glances at Peldor questioningly)
Peldor:  (nods, slightly)
Vinnie:  Okay, old fella, enjoy the party.
wizened man:  Thank you, I vely much intend to.  (he meanders into
  the party)

Peldor:  You like it, eh?  (he stretches, an action which does
  nothing to rumple his finely-made silken suit and bowtie)  You
  really like it?
Ricard:  (also well-dressed, he rubs his balding, white-rimmed head)
  It's...different.  But oh, so grand.  If only I'd had the money...
Peldor:  Fear not, I'm carrying on the tradition of greatness that
  you started.  Come, let me show you the casino...
Ricard:  Casino?!?

Peyote:  (bumped into by Rob)  Rob!  Long time, no see, dude!  I
  didn't recognize you at first, in that teal suit...
Rob:  Huh?  Oh, it's you!  (shakes the half-elf's hand, vigorously)
  Where've you been?
Peyote:  The wilds of the world, man.  (he flags down a waitress,
  smiling broadly)  We'll take two, sister.  (he takes one drink,
  draining half of it as he hands the other glass to Rob)
Rob:  Err...no thanks, I don't-
Peyote:  Don't be a square, dude.  It's a party!  (he admires his
  own suit, a brown, green, and grey garment woven by the elves of
  some faraway forest)
Rob:  Well, okay...(he hesitantly accepts the glass of wine)
Peyote:  Besides, fine wine like this isn't to be wasted!
Rob:  Wine?
Peyote:  (sniffs the wine, savoringly)  Velunan, dude.  The finest
  in the lands!  Someone went all-out, a fact which hasn't escaped
  me.
Rob:  (nearly trips over a chair)
Peyote:  (neatly grabs the priest before he can fall)  Whoa, there.
  Gotta watch out for those chairs, man.
Rob:  Yeah...maybe I'd better have another drink.
Peyote:  Allow me, dude.  (he scans the room for a waitress)

Baron Trevor:  (well-dressed, as one might expect from a baron, he
  looks the part of nobility)  -all the way from Havenhill.
Ged:  Funny, I was just there.  And your lovely daughter...?
Baron Trevor:  She's just fine, thank you.  Married two years ago,
  to a fine young noble of Ulek.
Ged:  My congratulations.  You must be very proud.
Baron Trevor:  Yes.  Soon I'll have grandchildren!
Ged:  (thinking about how he'll outlive the grandchildren's grand-
  children)  Yea...

Gorin:  (looking decidedly out-of-place in his fine, expensive grey
  suit)  Happy birthday!
Lyra:  (blushing and tipsy, she still wears her black leather outfit,
  purchased recently in Dyvers, though her coat has vanished)  Thank
  you!  (she hugs the dwarf, a difficult but not impossible feat
  given their differing heights)
Bosco:  (appears, brushing crumbs from his tiny vest)  Hey, yeah,
  happy birthday from me, too!
Gorin:  (frowning, he then smiles, for the halfling has adopted an
  innocent look)
Lyra:  Bosco!  (bends down to hug Bosco)
Bosco:  (clinging to the shapely elf)  Yeahhhhhh...

Derider Fanshaen:  (wearing a dress uniform of the Greyhawk City
  Guard, she looks regal, yet attractive, at the same time)  You
  are the mighty Ged's chief guardsman?
Arnold:  (filling out a wide suit with his massive form)  Naa.  I
  am an indebendent warrior.
Derider:  Oh.  (she strives to make conversation)
Arnold:  (strives to return it, doing his best but still falling
  somewhat short)

Bigby:  (dressed in a simple yet elegant grey suit and robe, he
  stands next to a huge iron statue, whose arms form the top of a
  mostly-filled coat-rack)  Interesting place to hang the coats and
  cloaks...
Belphanior:  (dressed in a fine black suit and a maroon cloak)  It
  is, indeed.
Peldor:  (walks up)  My old friend!  (he shakes the elf's hand)
  Long time, no see!  And I mean _no_ see!  I trust you're doing
  well?
Belphanior:  You could say that.
Bigby:  (becomes involved in a conversation with the passing Tenser,
  who looks marvelous in his bright blue suit)  Blue?  Again?
Tenser:  (shrugs)  It's my color.
Bosco:  (in passing)  You look marvellous!
Tenser:  (frowns)  Who was that?
Bigby:  I have no idea...

Peldor:  So whatever happened with that fellow...what was his name?
Belphanior:  Torin?
Peldor:  Ah, yes, that's the one!
Belphanior:  Well...you could say we settled our dispute.
Peldor:  Glad to hear it.  Say, you're not worried that someone might
  show up and recognize you?
Belphanior:  Not really.
Peldor:  Well, Sental Nurev wasn't invited to this party.  That
  Derider person over there might figure it out - she's sharp as a
  tack.
Belphanior:  Let's hope she doesn't.  I'm not here to go to war.
Peldor:  I know, that's why Alindyar and I went over the final guest
  list very carefully.  (he changes the subject)  So, where are you
  living these days?
Belphanior:  A small mountain town...you'll have to stop by and visit
  sometime.
Peldor:  Someday, I shall.  Hmm, where's that dwarf friend of yours?
Belphanior:  He didn't make it.
Peldor:  You could have brought him, you know.
Belphanior:  Nah.  He doesn't know Alindyar at all, and wasn't that
  interested besides.  And someone's got to watch things back home.
Peldor:  Sorry to hear it.

Jallarzi Sallavarian:  (dressed in a red silken dress which sets off
  her long, wavy blond hair)  Nice to see you again.
Derider Fanshaen:  Likewise.  How are things in the Circle?
Jallarzi:  Well.  The head honcho's getting touchy - thinks some evil
  plot's afoot in the north - but he's always thinking things like
  that.
Derider:  (frowns)  If Mordenkainen's worried about something, it's
  probably a good idea to take heed.
Jallarzi:  Yes...but still-
Bosco:  (grabs the sorceress' hand, kissing it suavely)  Good evening,
  ladies.
Derider:  (chuckling)
Jallarzi:  (frowning)
Bosco:  Bosco, Juggernaut Warrior, Dragon-Slayer, Thunderdelver, at
  your service!  (he bows deeply, which isn't much when you're under
  three feet tall)
Derider:  You're a m-  halfling of many accomplishments, then?
Bosco:  Indeed.  Come, let's have a drink and discuss them!
Jallarzi:  No thanks.
Bosco:  Come now, milady.  Perhaps the card tables...?
Derider:  Cards!  Now that sounds like fun!
Jallarzi:  Sorry, I'm not much of a card player.
Bosco:  Dice, then!  You look like someone who knows how to throw
  the ol' six-sided bones!
Jallarzi:  No dice, good Bosco.  I'm simply-
Bosco:  (grabs the mage's hand and drags her away)  No cards, no
  dice...we'll find something for you to do.  Bosco aims to impress.
Jallarzi:  (starts to protest)  But-
Bosco:  To the dance floor, beautiful!  You haven't danced until
  you've done the Bosco shuffle!
Jallarzi:  (sighs, then smiles)
Derider:  (follows, chuckling)

Duzon:  (discussing with Gorin the state of commerce on the Nyr Dyv)
  Not after that last sea serpent...
Gorin:  No kidding.
Bosco:  (a bottle of ale in his hand and a gleam of mischief in his
  eye, he walks over, followed by the wizened old man that Vinnie
  met at the door)  Gorin!  Duzer!
Duzon:  That's _Duzon_, sonny.
Bosco:  Duzon...have you met Yin-Tze?
Yin-Tze:  Gleetings!  (he shakes the sage's hand)  So preased to
  make youl acquaintance!
Duzon:  Err...me too.
Yin-Tze:  Nice palty, wourdn't you say?
Duzon:  It sure is.
Gorin:  (looking confused)
Bosco:  See, Yin-Tze's a sage, and Duzon's a sage...
Duzon:  (soon chatting with Yin-Tze about variants on philosophy)

Org Nenshen:  (chatting with Nerof Gasgal, Lord Mayor of Greyhawk)
  -taxes won't help solve all problems.
Peldor:  (strolls up)  Mayor!
Nerof:  Sir Peldor!  (shakes hands with the well-dressed thief)  I
  am truly impressed with this party!  It's among the best I've ever
  seen.
Peldor:  (grins sheepishly)  Money was no object for the one who
  paid for it...
Nerof:  Still...I may very well host some official functions here.
  I had no idea your cooks were this skilled.  How many courses in
  the supper?
Peldor:  (thinking)  Uh...five, I think.
Org:  And these appetizers are the first?
Peldor:  (nods)
Nerof:  Outstanding!

Rary:  (talking with a metallic-yellow-robed elf)  From Celene, eh?
  How are things there?
elf:  Well.  Her Fey Majesty is in good health and spirits, and the
  kingdom's prosperity is at an all-time high.
Rary:  Glad to hear it.
wizard:  (an elderly fellow of exceptional height, but skinny as a
  rail, he strolls by, then pauses, squinting at the elf)
elf:  (raises his eyebrows)
Rary:  Nystul, have you met Garzith yet?
Nystul:  No, can't say that I have?
Garzith:  (shakes the mage's hand)  My pleasure.
Nystul:  (still eyeing the elf)  You favor golden garments...or
  should I say bronze?
Garzith:  You're very perceptive.
Rary:  Garzith is an old friend of Alindyar's.
Garzith:  More of an acquaintance, really, but he invited me none-
  theless.
Nystul:  Ah.  Appearances can be deceiving...well, forgive me, but
  I must go try some of those veal-spheres.  (he wanders purposefully
  toward the serving trays)
Garzith:  Odd fellow.
Rary:  Nah, he's just very perceptive.  You probably reminded him of
  someone he once knew.  Nystul's always reading more into thing and
  people than there really is.
Garzith:  Perhaps.

  About this time a little disturbance began on the western side of
the hall.  Vinnie quickly made his way through the crowd as only a
bouncer can, and pried apart the wrestling forms of two old men.

Duzon:  (swinging his arms wildly)  I'll show you...you...upstart!
Yin-tze:  (taunting the other who is out of reach thanks to Vinnie's
  strong arms)  Upstalt?  Does not the file need watel?  Does not
  the mountain need the stolm?  Does not youl ass need kicking?
Vinnie:  (looks at Peldor, bemused)
Peldor:  (sighing)  Okay, Vinnie.  Just make sure they stay clear of
  each other.

  Things quickly returned to a din of chit-chat as the two sages
were calmed down, separated, and given a good, stiff drink.

Otto:  (this is the archmage from the Circle of Eight, rather than
  Belphanior's friend Otto)  Ah...food!  (his massive form garbed
  in purple and golden robes of the finest silk, the wizard orbits
  the various appetizer trays like an ioun stone)  Splendid!  I
  simply _must_ talk with the person who cooked all of this...
Leonardo:  (nearby, checking up on the state of the appetizer trays'
  depletion)  'Tis I, good fellow.
Otto:  Ah!  (clasps the other's hand)  Otto, of Greyhawk, at your
  service.
Leonardo:  Leonardo, formerly of Dyvers but now of Greyhawk as well.
  Pleased to meet you.
Otto:  How did you manage to get the mushrooms' sauce to come out so
  well?
Leonardo:  It's all in the butter.  You see...
Otiluke:  (sighs)  There he goes again.  Every time there's food to
  be had, Otto starts up...
Otto:  (ignoring his fellow mage)  Bah.  The unenlightened just don't
  see food the same way!
Belphanior:  (to Otiluke)  How's your tower?
Otiluke:  Pardon?
Belphanior:  You know, that tower in the nearby wilderness, the one
  that was, shall we say, explored by a pair of thieves, several
  years back?
Otiluke:  Oh, _that_ tower!  (he eyes the elf)  Good work, if a bit
  unrefined.
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  We were young and foolish back then.  Now
  we're just foolish.
Otiluke:  (looking up at the elf, who is a full foot taller than he)
  Just remember, no one enters the tower unless I wish it.  Hells,
  technically, you owe me.
Belphanior:  Perhaps we can discuss the bartering of magical items
  and spells?
Otiluke:  (his eyes light up)  Perhaps.



  About this time, a great gong was sounded, signalling the start
of the dinner itself.  The guests were seated, in a series of long
tables lined up in parallel.  Perpendicular to these were put other,
smaller tables, whose numbers varied depending on the course being
served at any given time.  With the appetizers being the first such
course, there were four others remaining:  soup, salad, entree, and
dessert.  The first three of these were now borne into the dining
room by Peldor's kitchen staff, supervised by Leonardo.  The soups
were brought in large, copper kettles, each suspended beneath a
tripod supported by chains.  The two large kettles were filled with
steaming soups.  One was a lentil soup made from a rare wine with a
smooth, buttery finish.  Backing up the lentil soup was another, a
rich venison broth, seasoned with wild herbs and stocked with wild
tubers.  Hearty pumpernickel and pumpkin breads were served with
the soups.  New bottles of wine and kegs of ale were brought out
for this course, and placed on the same table.  The wines were full-
bodied whites, the ale a pale, nearly-clear ale.
  Servers ladled soup into bowls, distributing them to the seated
guests with amazing efficiency and speed.  The lentil soup was of
such quality that it was nearly finished by the time the next course
was brought.

Tanya:  (at the head table, with Peldor, Alindyar, and Lyra, among
  others)  Mmm.  (to Peldor)  I found this wine for Leonardo, you
  know.
Peldor:  You have such good taste.
Tanya:  I know.

  Further down the table...

Bosco:  (banging his spoon on the table)  Soup!  More soup!
server:  (surprised that the halfling finished his last bowl this
  quickly, he dashed to deliver more)
Gorin:  (to Mongo)  Looks like Bosco's drunk.
Mongo:  Yeah.  He's also got a bottomless stomach.
Gorin:  It'll have to fill up sometime.
Bosco:  Hey, I heard that!



  As the soup course was finished, the salads appeared.  There were
three.  First was a spinach salad with pine nuts and golden yellow
cherry tomatoes, topped with a back pepper parmesan vinegarette.
Next to this was a salad of chilled, crunchy butter-leaf lettuce,
tossed with walnuts, slices of red tomatoes, bean sprouts, and a
creamy herbed garlic dressing.  Last, but far from least, was a
mixture of pale green celery roots in a pale yellow mustard sauce,
served from a stark white ceramic bowl.  The suggested drinks for
this course (as hinted by Leonardo's placement of them, on the same
table as the salads, though any other drinks were available upon
request) were a delicate white wine and a light red.  A medium-
bodied ale was also served with this course.

Arnold:  Leaves?
Ged:  Eat up.  They're good for you.
Arnold:  Bah.  Ah-nold does not live on grass!
Rillen:  How can you not like it, if you've never tried it?
Ged:  (munching on his own salad)  Really.
Arnold:  (sniffs at the salad, and shakes his head)
Rillen:  This meal is quite filling.
Ged:  Slow down, then.  I have the feeling it's just beginning.
Belphanior:  (poking and picking at the salad on his plate, he eats
  selected bits and pieces)
Ged:  (to the other elf)  Your own town, eh?
Belphanior:  Yeah.  A nice little place...as long as you don't break
  the laws.
Ged:  Perhaps I'll visit someday.
Belphanior:  You might like it.  Then again, you might not.



  After the salads, the entrees were brought out; this required three
tables, one for seafood, another for meats, and a third for vegetables
and grains.  As Leonardo orchestrated, waving his arms and issuing
orders that didn't come out sounding like orders, the triple course
was placed before the diners.

  At the center of the first table was an enormous baked whole sea
bass, with a crackled fiery red skin of powdered red pepper and
paprika, positioned up right in a shallow copper tray of flaming
cognac, as if it were swimming in a burning sea.  Fragrant smoke and
wisps of steam emerged from the giant fish's gaping mouth.
  On either side of the bass was a large poached salmon with a
tarragon yogurt dressing. The pink of the salmon flesh, combined
with the light green of the dressing contrasted wonderfully with the
fish-shaped, cobalt blue serving platters upon which each fish was
placed.
  A line of lobsters, bright orange and glistening with butter, were
arranged as if dancing a quadrille on a bed of sea green cucumber
rings.  Slices of lemon were twisted in and about the lobsters, like
yellow tendrils of sea grass swaying in the ocean currents.
  Crabs, shells intact but for their backs, which were removed to
reveal flaky white meat broiled with an olive oil and parsley
marinade, climbed about the settings as if they were still alive.
  Prawns, baked to tender pink, swam in scallop shaped bowls of
hot lemon butter.
  Smoked green mussels vied for position with oysters on the half-
shell and delicately braised scallops in an encircling arc of small
platters about the perimeter of the table.
  For this table, the suggested drinks were a fruity white wine,
with a sweet finish, and an amber ale.

  The second table was heaped so high with meats that guests could
hear the legs creaking beneath their load.
  At the back of the table, on a massive wooden trencher, lay racks
of meaty beef ribs, coated with a thick ruby red crust of a smoked
pepper and cider vinegar glaze.  The barest hint of garlic could be
detected above the aroma of the still smoking meat, which instantly
set mouths to watering.
  Nearest to the ribs were six geese, each with a graceful neck
arching over its back, and head tucked beneath a wing. The birds had
been marinated in a rosemary lemon brine for two days before being
slowly roasted to perfection.  The skins of the geese had puffed out
from the meat, forming a crispy paper-like coating that sealed in the
birds' juices, and tasted heavenly.  Within the geese was yet another
treat:  a rich stuffing made from corn bread, shallots, and veal.
  Over a dozen ducks, with necks out stretched as if they were in
flight, surrounded the geese.  The skin on the ducks had the peculiar
appearance of black lacquer, and an aroma of exotic spices, unknown
to most in the room, wafted about them.  Set next to each duck was a
stack of white, almost translucent, thin rice pancakes and a silver
bowl of a deep purple plum sauce.
  A suckling pig was displayed prominently at the front of the table,
resplendent with an apple-and-honey glaze, dotted with cloves, and
garnished with a candied apple stuck in its mouth.  Spilling out from
beneath the pig was a bed of stuffing made from calf's liver, onions,
vermouth, thyme, and rice.
  A small, hot brazier was set up next to the table, manned by a cook
equipped with a butcher knife.  On a dainty, round marble table next
to the brazier was a lamb tenderloin.  Upon request, the cook sliced
thin medallions from the tenderloin, quickly grilled them on the
brazier, then served them with a bittersweet chocolate and raspberry
sauce, much to the amazement and delight of those who sampled the
dish.
  Suggested drinks varied with the meat.  For the poultry, an off-
dry, medium body white wine with a long, smooth buttery finish was
in place, along with a stout ale.  For the red meats, a hearty,
full-bodied red wine with soft tannins and lots of earth and spice
was available.  This fabulous vintage had surely come form the most
remote (and expensive) of vineyards.  For those not inclined to have
wine, several dark ales and beers were also present.

  The third table contained vegetable dishes so savory and succulent
that even the most die hard meat-eater would be satisfied by its
contents.  Arnold was sure to be tested by the food atop this table.
Grilled asparagus shoots topped with roasted slices of almonds were
arranged vertically, like a small forest.
  An aromatic dish of tiny red potatoes (baked with a lemon, thyme,
and garlic sauce) filled a full quarter of the table, while sweet
onions, baked whole and in their skins, nestled golden brown next
to the asparagus.
  Miniature baskets made of woven strands of winter squash, which
were then quick-fried, contained a ratatouille of summer squash and
tomatoes.
  Deep green zucchini boats filled with puree of parsnips were
floating in a bath of dill-scented water.
  A wild medley of artichoke hearts, eggplant, black olives, and
marinated mushrooms filled a four-tiered bowl, with the ingredients
from each level spilling down into the next, like a series of water-
falls falling from one pool to the next.
  A tall and elaborate silver dish that held steaming couscous
towered above a flat silver dish of corn polenta covered with a
savory tomato sauce and topped with creamy melted cheeses.
  Knobby braided seed breads, dense olive loafs, puffy potato breads,
deep dark rye breads, the sourest of sour dough breads, and breads
of every other color, shape, and texture filled in any gaps between
the vegetable dishes.
  The suggested drinks for this table were pretty much the same as
those for the other two, this holding true for both wines and ales.

Arnold:  I still say id's rabbidt food!



  Each table was staffed by at least two servants, whose job it was
to carve the meat, or seafood, or poultry, and place it on each of
the diners' dishes (in a crafty and aesthetically pleasing way) as
they were brought by.  Though most of the guests were seated during
the meal, with servers taking plates to and from the food tables,
the diners had the option of taking their own plates around to the
different tables.  Different people, after all, had different dining
preferences.  In any case, the servers placed the food onto guests'
plates, and heaped it as high as the guests desired.
  Most of those present preferred to "walk the tables" to see all
of what was available before returning to their seats.  At Peldor's
urging, Lyra was the first to do this, and then others followed her
example.  Certainly, Bosco for one needed no urging.
  As might have been expected, the guests were stunned at the quality
and variety of the foodstuffs and drinks alike.  The wines and ales
were every bit the equal of the food, many of them rare or imported
from faraway lands (or both.)  The feast commenced in earnest now,
with the diners mixing eating, drinking, and conversation.

Lyra:  I don't know what to say.  I'm flabbergasted.
Alindyar:  Say nothing, then - just enjoy.
Peldor:  Yeah.  (he again thanks his foresight in hiring away the
  chef Leonardo)  Enjoy.
Bosco:  Yeah, enjoy!  (he tosses a cherry tomato into the air,
  catching it in his mouth)  Mmm, hmm, good!
Mongo:  (one of the few who continues to eat at a rapid pace)  This
  is incredible.
Halbarad:  Aye.
Peyote:  This feast is something else...something gnarly.
Lyra:  Halbarad?  Peyote?
Peyote:  It's really us, sister.
Alindyar:  (as if to explain)  I invited all of our old friends.
Lyra:  (using her ESP ring, to Alindyar)  You don't have to explain.
Rob:  I'm here, too!  (he holds up a fork, and the piece of meat on
  it falls off, into his wine)
Bosco:  (to Peldor)  What a slob.
Tanya:  At least he doesn't belch in public.
Peldor:  There is that.

  Also seated at the head table were most of the Circle of Eight,
of which the massively rotund Otto was the most verbose.

Otto:  Damn fine meal!  Perhaps the best I've ever had!  I didn't
  think anyone else in the city knew how to cook like this!
Mongo:  (to Peldor)  He's right, this is almost godlike cooking.
Peldor:  Don't thank me, thank Alindyar there.
Lyra:  I know I do.



  After the main course was demolished (or nearly so) servers came
to remove the plates and tables...only to soon replace them with the
dessert table!  This contained trays filled with ripe berries, slices
of juicy peaches, pairs, and apples.  All of this was accompanied by
brie, camembert, blue, roquefort, havarti, and gorgonzola cheeses
which were brought from table to table.

Bosco:  Cheese?  On my dessert?
Otto:  Isn't it splendid?!?

  The special drinks for this course included an old port, more than
a century old, and a bitter ale.  When all had sipped their after-
dinner drinks, and nibbled on fruits and cheeses, the main dessert
was presented.

Bosco:  There's more?
Otto:  (clapping his hands)  Outrageous!

  This construction was a large, square cake covered by a pure white
icing, with just a hint of citrus flavor and decorated with colorful
flowers along the edges and about the corners.  Some of the flowers
were icing, while others were real (and edible) but such was the
skill with which the decorations were crafted and applied that only
careful examination or tasting told the difference.  The cake itself
was an angel-food cake with a raspberry filling interlaced in such
a way as to make the cake look marbled once it was sliced open.
  Served with the cake was a very old, very rare wine, of a variety
known as "Madeira."  No trivial wine, it was merely a legend in some
lands; Peldor, naturally, had managed to find four bottles.

Peldor:  I can't take the credit for this - Tanya dug the stuff up.
Otto:  Wherever did you find it?
Tanya:  Can't tell - a girl's gotta have her secrets!
Bosco:  You're not just a girl, you're a bartender.
Peldor:  She's even more than that.
Tanya:  (quite tipsy by this time)  Your praise flows freely tonight.
Bosco:  (finishes his glass of wine)  Not as freely as my bl-
Gorin:  (kicks the halfling)

  Champagne was also available, a light, sweetened elven drink with
a pleasant flavor.  Most of the guests seemed to like this more than
the previous champagnes (not that they were bad, just that this was
better) and it wasn't long until the time had come for Lyra to open
all her presents.

Lyra:  Presents?
Alindyar:  What kind of birthday has no presents?

  The gaudily-wrapped boxes and packages had been piled high atop a
table to the rear of the dining room, out of sight.  Now, they were
brought to Lyra, to be opened and revealed to all.

Lyra:  (smiling widely)  I can't believe this...(she tears into the
  first present)

  There were dozens of gifts, too many to dwell on any one, but
suffice it to say that the items were as varied as they were useful.
Many were even magical, for those in this room were generally not
without resources.  More champagne was opened, and a festive mood
prevailed, long into the night...



  Much later, as the moon was well into its zenith, and the guests
were finally all gone, and the feast was cleaned up (leftovers were
wrapped to order, much to the guests' delight) and the inn was dark,
Alindyar and Lyra prepared for bed.

Alindyar:  I trust you had an enjoyable time?
Lyra:  Oh...(she rolls her eyes)  Did I ever!
Alindyar:  Good.
Lyra:  How can I ever thank you?
Alindyar:  You already have...for years, now.
Lyra:  What a party!  What guests!  What a feast!
Alindyar:  (smiles, sheepishly)
Lyra:  (acting serious, all of a sudden)  How much did all that cost?
Alindyar:  Sorry, I cannot tell.
Lyra:  Sure you can.
Alindyar:  Nay, I think not.
Lyra:  I bet I can make you tell...(she eyes him)
Alindyar:  Never.  Now where did I put that robe-
Lyra:  (pounces, knocking him back onto the bed)
Alindyar:  Happy birthday to you, too!





next:   I have no idea.
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  Let me get one question out of the way:  A heartfelt thanks
  to Leonard Bottleman for the feast description.  I'm nowhere even
  close to being a gourmet cook, but Leonard is, and he's been
  tasked with inventing special meals such as this one.  He did
  an outstanding job, too - I was salivating by the time I was
  done editing the feast section.

    This episode seems an appropriate time for an updated version
  of the who's who list (aka guide to personalities) so immediately
  following this posting, you should see that other document.

    Well.  Three hundred.  Wow.  The weekend during which this was
  written (27-28-29 October 1995) was a big weekend in many ways.
  It was Georgia Tech's homecoming, which meant that I got to see
  all my friends from my college days, including all but one of
  the players.  The Braves won the World Series, at long last -
  something I've been waiting for since 1991.  I attended three or
  four different Halloween parties.  Somehow, I got myself elected
  as the alumni treasurer for the fraternity.  There was a time
  change due to Daylight Savings Time.  Yes, this weekend had it
  all.  It's kind of appropriate that this was the same weekend
  in which I wrote this, the three hundredth episode of the saga.
  It was all contained within the weekend - I started Saturday
  afternoon, and worked on it on and off through Sunday evening.

    I had to race, in late October, to get up to 300 - for two
  weeks, I was writing more than an episode per day on average!
  This is because I decided I wanted to reach 300 episodes by
  November 4th (the real-life 4-year anniversary of the writing
  of episode #1) and now I've done it.  Yeah!

    I don't really know what else to say.  I'm happy with life
  in general, and I'm happy with my writing.  I've got a good
  job, great health, plenty of money, a lot of good friends, and
  last but not least, an awesome and detailed saga of fiction
  which just keeps getting better, and a growing body of fans.
  What more could a person ask for?  Here's looking to episode
  500...
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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