Chapter #303

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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  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY (or a portion of it):                                  +
+                                                                   +
+  Ged          14th/14th level grey elven priest/mage        (NG)  +
+     Arnold    12th level human warrior                      (NG)  +
+     Nenya     8th/9th level female elven warrior/mage       (NG)  +
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+  Date:        6/1/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       Ged's castle, west of Greyhawk                      +
+  Climate:     cool                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "The most dangerous weapon in the world is a focused mind."      +
+                                             - from _Kickboxer 3_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                 CCCIII.  Taking Care of Business





  Almost two months have passed since Lyra's wondrous one-hundredth
birthday party at the Green Dragon Inn.  Each of the various and
sundry adventurers has been taking care of his or her business since
then, and Ged is no exception.  Most of his time has been spent with
his lesser priests, outlining ways to spread the word of Boccob and
convert more of the local farmers.  This day, however, the elf is
busy teaching his disciple, Nenya - a continuous process which has
occupied the better part of the last week.

Ged:  Okay, now...concentrate, and will yourself to assume the form
  of some animal or creature.
Nenya:  (frowns, then knits her brow, concentrating)

  The features of the young elfin lass shifted and mutated, and as
Ged watched, she transformed into a large, round animal, perhaps a
sloth or armadillo.

Ged:  Excellent.
Nenya/animal:  (looks up at Ged, silently, then begins shifting her
  form again)
Ged:  (watching as his pupil resumes her natural form)  Ah.
Nenya:  (cursing in elven)
Ged:  (spreads his hands)  What's the problem?  You polymorphed into
  a sloth, both quickly and efficiently.
Nenya:  I was _supposed_ to become a hawk!
Ged:  Oh.

  Ged managed to keep a straight face, but Nenya noticed his chest
heaving with supressed laughter - and she vowed to do better.  They
continued to work on Nenya's learning of this spell, but the magic
eluded the elven lass, and the best she could do was to become a
wasp.

Ged:  Hmm, interesting.  (he backs away as the Nenya-wasp buzzes
  angrily about)  Ouch!

  They kept practicing until Nenya was exhausted - for the effort of
shifting forms was great indeed, moreso for one who hadn't mastered
its particular nuances.  She did not, however, master the spell this
day, and they later retired to a simple supper.

Nenya:  I don't understand what the problem is.
Ged:  Patience - you'll get the hang of it, eventually.
Nenya:  It shouldn't take this long!
Ged:  Every wizard has a spell or two that are difficult to learn.
  (frowns)  Some more than others.  There was this cocky young elven
  boy back on the islands who burned down several buildings while he
  tried to learn how to cast a fireball.
Nenya:  (grimaces at her teacher)
Ged:  He never did get it, I think.
Nenya:  Well, I already know how to make a fireball.
Ged:  That's why we're working on the polymorph series.  You'll need
  to master all sorts of spells, to be ready for any situation.
Nenya:  Necromantic spells, too?
Ged:  (frowns in disgust)  Not those.
Nenya:  What of the so-called "wild magic"?  What are its uses?
Ged:  (looks irritated)  Wild magic?  Pure rubbish.  Forget about it.
Nenya:  But-
Ged:  No buts!  Wild magic is highly...volatile.  Unpredictable.  Any
  benefits it might have are far outweighed by the risks it presents,
  and besides, masters - true masters - of wild magic are few and far
  between.
Nenya:  Oh.
Ged:  Stick to the proven basics - you'll do better that way.
Endymion:  (pads into the kitchen)
Ged:  (to a servant)  You...kindly bring forth the chicken livers.
  I believe Endymion hungers.
servant:  Aye.  (he vanishes into the kitchen)
Endymion:  (sits nearby, licking its paws as if it knows that fresh,
  tasty livers are on the way)  Meow.
Ged:  Good boy.
servant:  (brings forth a small plate of livers)
Endymion:  (stands up on his hind legs, trying to reach the plate)
Arnold:  (strolls in, immediately smelling the aroma of liver)  Aaa.
Ged:  (nods at the warrior)
Nenya:  Hi there, big guy.
Arnold:  Hi...
Ged:  What news?
Arnold:  (sits down at the table, grabs a plate, and begins heaping
  food onto it)  Ah-nold is hungdry.
Ged:  No, I meant what have you been up to?
Arnold:  Oh.  Well...I padrolled your northern borkders, and made
  sure that the milidtia there was ready.
Ged:  Ready?  Ready for what?
Arnold:  (matter-of-factly)  Cerdain kinkdoms to the north have been
  showing agtivity...I was talking to some mercenaries in the Guild
  of Warriors, the other day, and they think trouble's brewing in the
  near future.  (he eats half of a potato, in one massive bite)
Ged:  Oh.
Nenya:  What kind of trouble?
Arnold:  Troob movements, supbly stocking, that sort of thing.
Ged:  Surely we're safe from any such chaos, down here?
Arnold:  If Iudz and the Hornbed Society decide to make war, no one
  will be safe.
Ged:  Hmm.  I shall have to consult with Boccob on this.
Arnold:  (nods)  You should.

  The rest of the meal consisted of small talk, and later, Ged spent
a few hours praying, by himself.  Afterwards, it was bedtime, for he
would rise again at dawn, to begin the next day's activities.  Ever
since the fateful journey to Ulek, and the revelations therein, Ged
had restructured his temple.  As he had confided to Demetrius, many
months ago, he had to solve three basic problems.
  The first of these, balancing his travels and adventuring against
his responsibilities here, was challenging, but he had figured out
an answer.  His two highest-ranking priests, Ansalon and Tirion,
would be left in charge of all matters related to the temple and
Boccob.  After all, they _were_ high priests, and were perfectly
capable of giving sermons, healing the wounded, advising the locals,
and generally taking care of anything that cropped up.  Before now,
Ged had assumed (even if he wasn't able to act on it) that to be of
optimal service to Boccob, he needed to remain here.  While this was
true in general, it in no way precluded travels abroad.  Any quest
that increased Ged's magical repertoire was, in the end, a quest
that helped Boccob.  Of course, the elf now expected his deity to
task him with such missions, when necessary; he hoped that he would
be able to pull one or more of his friends into such journeys.
Anyhow, Ansalon and Tirion now had more daily responsibilities,
which was good practice for them, should Ged ever be gone for any
extended length of time.  Of course, the half-elf Deryck was in
charge of all military operations, in Arnold's absence.  Ged him-
self never dealt directly with his guards and troops, preferring to
support them with magic should the need arise.  Arnold had been
at home less and less in the past year, and thus Deryck's duties had
grown and flourished.  Ged made a mental note to have a talk with
the half-elf, to let him know we was doing a good job.  Perhaps a
pay raise and even a magic item or two were in order...
  Ged's second problem to solve, as it were, was to ensure that the
things he did were for the greater good of Boccob, rather than for
himself.  This included (but was not limited to) land purchases,
farmstead allocation, and epic adventures or travels.  Since the
ultimate goal was to have as many worshippers of Boccob as possible,
all planning and activity had to bear that in mind.  Ged was on the
verge of requiring his tenant farmers to attend a weekly service to
Boccob.  After all, it was the god's magic that kept the weather
favorable, healed those who were sick, and basically kept things
running smoothly.  Ged also planned to expand his current temple of
Boccob, enabling it to hold more worshippers.  First, though, he
would have to check his finances.
  The third, and perhaps easiest, problem to deal with was the
gaining of new worshippers for Boccob, not to mention keeping those
who were already faithful in good spirits.  Since he already had
the locals well in hand, he was only really concerned about spreading
Boccob's word in other lands, abroad.  This meant that any lands he
traveled through would require attention.  If Ged couldn't convince
people to move to his lands to worship Boccob, the next best thing
was to convince people who weren't moving to worship Boccob anyway.
Unlike some religions, Boccob's was an easy one to demonstrate the
power of, for even the simpler spells would amaze the masses and
prove that Boccob's power was not only genuine, but mighty indeed.
  Reflecting upon these things, Ged retired for the night.

  The next morning, after his daily ritual (an hour of solitary
prayer, followed by a bath and breakfast) Ged gave Nenya a tome to
peruse, in the hope that it might hasten her learning.  Then, he
headed out to talk to Deryck.  Ged found the half-elf at the castle
garrison, drilling the men in counter-siege techniques.

Ged:  Hello, there.
Deryck:  Hi...(to his executive officer)  Take over for a while.
  (he strolls away with Ged)
Ged:  (eyeing the training, he frowns)  You haven't been talking to
  Arnold lately, have you?
Deryck:  Not recently, why?
Ged:  Nevermind.  Listen, I've been away a lot recently...
Deryck:  (looking worried)  Aye.  But I've kept the men as sharp as
  ever-
Ged:  (nodding)  Exactly.  I just wanted to tell you that I'm aware
  of the outstanding job you've been doing.
Deryck:  Oh.
Ged:  So, it's my great pleasure to tell you that, retroactive to the
  beginning of the month, I'm increasing your monthly salary by fifty
  golden crowns.
Deryck:  (amazed)  Th- thank you!
Ged:  That's not all.  (he hands the ranger a bluish metal ring)  I
  have owned this item for many years.  It's an item of water, and
  has great powers there.  I want you to have it.
Deryck:  But...if it's so powerful...why?
Ged:  (shrugs)  I have many magical items...perhaps too many.  It's
  always a pleasure to donate them to those who have earned them.
Deryck:  How can I thank you...?
Ged:  You have been, ever since the day you took your job.
Deryck:  Uh...okay...(slips the ring on)
Ged:  Is there anything else I can do?  More men?  More weapons?
Deryck:  Actually, if it's not too much trouble, we need to build a
  supporting wall on the southeast corner of the castle.  And fifty
  more guards wouldn't hurt.
Ged:  Tell Scotty about the wall, and he'll get to it.  As for the
  men...I'll talk with Nenya, and you can go into the city and hire
  them.  We've got the funds.
Deryck:  Excellent!  You won't regret this.
Ged:  I never thought I would.  (he shakes the fellow's hand)  I must
  be going - I've got some other business to attend to.  Carry on!
Deryck:  Aye, aye.

  With that, Ged returned to his study.  Nenya was nowhere to be
found, which probably meant that she was secluded somewhere, testing
her polymorphing ability.  The young elf wasn't one to back down
from a challenge, and if Ged knew her at all, she was determined to
prove that she could learn the spell on her own.
  Ged retired to one end of the study, closing the thick doors - a
sign to all within the castle that he was not to be disturbed.  He
unlocked his desk, an act which required a spell, and opened a lead
box, removing a thick, ancient tome from it.  This was the very
book that he had recovered from the lost Sueloise city.  It had been
a long time since he found the thing, but he'd been far too busy to
spare the time to explore its secrets...until now.  Opening the old,
withered tome, Ged settled into a comfortable leather chair, and
began delving into the mysteries of the ancient Suel magicks...





next:   two thieves talk
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www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  Nah.
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