Chapter #320

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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 1991-6 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                    +
+                          +
+  THE PARTY (those who haven't been kidnapped, anyhow):            +
+                                                                   +
+  Bosco         10th level halfling thief                     (CN) +
+  Gorin          8th level dwarven warrior                    (CG) +
+  Nenya          8th/9th level elven warrior/mage             (NG) +
+  Tanya          5th/11th level human female warrior/thief     (N) +
+  Date:        6/9/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       the Green Dragon Inn, in the Free City of Greyhawk  +
+  Climate:     mild                                                +
+  "I, too, am in need of retribution."                             +
+                                 - Kane, from _An Eye For An Eye_  +

               CCCXX.  Assistance From Every Quarter

  The four adventurers who remain - all students or companions of
the core group which has been kidnapped - are gathered in the Green
Dragon Inn, planning to find and rescue their friends.  They have
just been joined by Drawmij, a powerful archmage and member of the
Circle of Eight.

Drawmij:  (spreads his hands)  Typically, I stay out of affairs that
  don't directly involve me.
Bosco:  Then how'd you come to be here?
Nenya:  Bosco-
Drawmij:  (looking dangerously amused)  Fear not.  The imp has much
  to learn.
Bosco:  (opens his mouth, then abruptly closes it as Tanya kicks him,
  under the table)
Tanya:  If this man is here to help us, then let's start letting him,
  shall we?
Gorin:  Yeah.
Drawmij:  To answer the particular specialty involves
  spells of distance and time.
Bosco:  But first we have to find them.  That's the real trick, isn't
Drawmij:  Oh, we have already found them.
Tanya:  (nearly stands, in her excitement)  You have?
Nenya:  Where?
Gorin:  How?
Drawmij:  A simple matter, really.  Almost an accident, you might
  even say.
Tanya:  You answer questions with riddles, wizard.
Drawmij:  (shrugs)  It is my way.
Bosco:  So where are they?
Drawmij:  Lost within the Azure Sea, there is a small, uncharted
  island.  Upon that island lurk both your companions and their
Gorin:  Hmm.
Drawmij:  For reasons which shall become clear later, I am best
  suited to sneak you onto that island.
Nenya:  Tell us more.
Drawmij:  All in due time.  But my surprises aren't finished yet.
Bosco:  Uh-oh.
Gorin:  (cracks his knuckles)
Tanya:  What?  What is it?
Drawmij:  Kieran contacted one of your old companions, using magic,
  and that fellow is on his way, intending to join you.
Bosco:  Fellow?  What fellow?

  Just then, a figure appeared at the table.  The man looked some-
what disoriented, as if he hadn't expected his spell to actually
work.  Garbed in a dark blue robe with silver trim, the portly
fellow cut an unusual, if not impressive, figure.

Rob:  Hi, there.
Tanya:  You?!?
Bosco:  Rob...
Gorin:  (to Nenya)  Who's this clown?
Rob:  I'm no clown...I'm just Rob.  Or should I say High Priest Rob,
  of Trithereon?
Nenya:  (nods to Gorin)
Drawmij:  Rob was no small help in tracking down the kidnappers.
Bosco:  (unbelieving)  How?
Rob:  Trithereon is the god of many things...chiefly liberty...and
Bosco:  That's two things.
Rob:  The two are as one.
Gorin:  Huh?
Drawmij:  It would seem that this honored high priest has seen fit
  to put his duties aside, and come along to help your cause.  (he
  frowns, muttering in a low tone)  Not unlike me, come to think of
Tanya:  This is great!  Rob, we've all heard tales of your might,
  your holy powers.
Bosco:  Uh-
Tanya:  (claps Rob on the back)  We'll be happy to have you along!
Rob:  Well-
Gorin:  (looking around)  I don't want to make anyone feel bad, but...
  I don't think we've got the raw might to take these people out:  if
  they got Mongo and Arnold, then I don't know if we can defeat them
  with the force we've got.
Bosco:  The great Bosco wasn't with them to protect them, though...
  Bosco...Juggernaut-slayer, Thunderdelver...(he slowly trails off)
  Hey, weren't we going to see if Yod would come with us?  And what
  about those other two.  You know, the weird druid and the ranger.
Nenya:  Peyote and Halbarad?
Drawmij:  (completely ignoring the references to these two)  You
  _know_ Yod Ironbeard? Certainly he would be a powerful ally in
  our struggle, if we could convince him. But what reason would he
  have to aid us?
Bosco:  Oh, when I saved his kingdom, along with Gorin and Mongo...
Gorin:  (swatting at Bosco, who nimbly dodges out of the way)  I
  think that Yod would help us, if we could contact him.  We just
  don't have a week to ride over there...
Drawmij:  Contacting him should be no problem; although a visit might
  be more in order.  Shall we go?
Bosco:  Right now?
Drawmij:  Of course.
Gorin:  Hey, sounds good.
Rob:  Yod Ironbeard?  What's a Yod Ironbeard?
Bosco:  And Spikey and Sparkey!
Tanya:  Hmm...Yod Ironbeard...the dwarven king!
Gorin:  You got it.
Drawmij:  And a fine king he is.
Bosco:  We could use help like his, for this mission...
Nenya:  And what about Halbarad and Peyote?
Rob:  (speaks up, looking exasperated)  That's what I've been trying
  to tell you!  It's not just me...
Nenya:  It isn't?
Gorin:  There are more of you?
Bosco:  (begins eyeing the door, expecting a troupe of clowns to
  burst in at any moment)
Rob:  When I found out the guys were in trouble, I took the liberty
  of contacting the other older guys.
Nenya:  You mean...?
Peyote:  (enters the room, along with another fellow)  That's right,
  dudette.  It's us.
Halbarad:  Well-met, people.
Bosco:  (looks on, shocked)
Gorin:  You're help us?
Peyote:  Right on, man.
Halbarad:  When we heard of the others' plight, we felt obligated to
  lend a hand.
Peyote:  Or two.  (he pats his bastard sword's pommel)
Bosco:  Allrighty, then...
Nenya:  (looking over the group)  We've got it all now:  fighting
  prowess, magical might, and holy power.
Bosco:  Don't forget my skills!
Rob:  What skills might those be, small Bosco?
Bosco:  Stick around and you'll find out.
Drawmij:  Well, then.  The band grows...perhaps everyone will be
  ready to leave soon?
Nenya:  Err...not just yet.  We need to gather our equipment and
  ready our weapons.
Tanya:  You're right.  (to Drawmij)  She's right.
Halbarad:  Hmm.
Drawmij:  True chaos...(he looks around)

  Indeed, this group had grown, quickly and strangely.  In addition
to the original complement of Bosco, Gorin, Tanya, and Nenya, there
were now Drawmij, Rob, Halbarad, and Peyote.

Drawmij:  And now we must go forth and seek Yod Ironbeard...(he
  begins a spell)
Gorin:  I'll go with you.  Bosco, you stay here and keep things in
Bosco:  But I wanna go too!
Gorin:  Bosco, Yod's more likely to come to our aid if he doesn't
  have to worry about his treasure hoard...
Bosco:  (looks flustered)
Drawmij:  (looks amused)
Tanya:  Okay...we'll get prepared, here.  You go do what you have
  to, then come back here and we'll be ready?  Sound good?
Drawmij:  (nods)  Indeed.  Come, Gorin.  (they vanish suddenly)
Bosco:  (blinks)  Whoa!  I must've blinked!
Peyote:  The wizard's power is great indeed.
Halbarad:  Aye.
Nenya:  Let's get ready, for when he returns.
Bosco:  Yeah!  (dashes away to get whatever he needs to get)
Peyote:  (to Halbarad and Rob)  Come, good fellows.  Let's have
  a drink while we're waiting.

  One drink became two, and then three; nearly an hour passed, and
everyone was ready.  Then, suddenly, Drawmij returned, along with
Gorin and a new arrival.  This fellow, a rather stocky dwarf with
steel-grey hair and beard, didn't seem to suffer the usual effects
of sudden teleportation.  Instead, he scanned the room, sizing up
the others.

Gorin:  Everyone, this is Yod Ironbeard, a good friend of Mongo.
Yod:  And of you...and what's this, here?  Bosco!
Bosco:  How's it going, pal?
Yod:  Better, since you left the treasuries of Thunderdelve.  (he
  makes the circuit of the room, meeting everyone as Gorin does the
Drawmij:  So now we number nine...a good number, well-rooted in myth
  and legend.
Tanya:  Are we all ready to go, then?
Gorin:  Err, not me.  (shrugs)  I've been away.  (he rushes off,
  shouting behind his shoulder)  Ten minutes!

  As the dwarf rushed away to prepare himself, and Rob went to the
bar to order a glass of warm milk, Drawmij stood, scowling to himself
as he waited for the young adventurers to return.  The mage wasn't
particularly happy about this whole situation, but there were powers
that even he had to answer to-

Drawmij:  (frowns, suddenly)

  In fact, one such power was even now contacting him.  The message
was both magical and mental in nature, and none but Drawmij were even
aware of it.  The man frowned to himself, then nodded, acknowledging
the message with a thought.  He then rolled his eyes, moved to the
bar, and ordered an exotic elven wine, from the heartland of Celene,
to sip while he waited.

  Shortly, Gorin returned to the dining room, loaded with armor and

Drawmij:  Ah, there you are.
Tanya:  Okay, everyone ready?
Gorin:  Yeah.
Nenya:  (nods)
Bosco:  Ready for action!
Halbarad:  Aye, we stand prepared.
Rob:  I'm here, too.  (he bumps into a stool, but manages to grab the
  thing before it topples)  Oops.
short, nondescript fellow:  (stands nearby, bearing several packs)
Bosco:  Hey, who's that guy?
Drawmij:  (gestures toward the man)  This is...Wendell, my personal
  porter.  I had him go buy food, drink, and supplies for your journey.
Gorin:  (nods)  Good planning.
Bosco:  Yeah, that sure was nice of you.  (to Wendell)  Thanks.  Say,
  you got any ale in there?
Wendell:  Nope.
Nenya:  (eyes Wendell)
Wendell:  (shifts nervously)
Tanya:  Wendell, can you fight?
Wendell:  (shakes his head)  No, ma'am.  I'm just a porter.
Drawmij:  Fear not, Wendell's just along for part of the ride.
Bosco:  Ride?
Drawmij:  (grins, throwing the others off balance)'re all
  in for a surprise.
Gorin:  I hope this doesn't involve a sky balloon.  We've had really
  bad luck with sky balloons.
Drawmij:  Interesting...but no.
Tanya:  Well, I've made the necessary arrangements here.  The Green
  Dragon is in good hands, for awhile at least.
Bosco:  Heck, without me dealing cards, they're gonna lose money.
  Those customers are a sly lot.
Nenya:  No doubt.
Drawmij:  (preparing to cast some spell)  You are all ready, then?
Gorin:  Ready to go!
voice:  Not yet, you're not.

  They all turned to regard yet another new arrival to the sprawling
tavern.  A stocky, dark-clothed dwarf, bearing various packs and
pouches, strode toward them, menacing despite his stature.

Bosco:  Otto!
Drawmij:  (frowns)
Otto:  You people weren't thinking of leaving without me, were you?
Tanya:  Perish the thought.  We're glad to see you here.  Say, how
  exactly _did_ you come to be here, anyway?  I thought you were in
  some faraway land.
Otto:  (shrugs)  I was.
Gorin:  (claps the other dwarf on the shoulder)  Happy to have you
  with us!
Otto:  (glares at the warrior)
Nenya:  (to Otto)  This will be a dangerous journey...perhaps fatal.
Otto:  I hope so.  (smiles)  But _I'm_ not planning to die.
Drawmij:  (decides not to ask any questions, and begins his spell-
  casting)  Everyone prepare yourselves - we shall leave momentarily.
Bosco:  We don't have to all hold hands, do we?
Drawmij:  Oh, no.  I've long since dispensed with such primitive
  spell nuances.

  Moments later, a pale blue glow formed around the eleven companions,
and when it faded, they were gone.

Leonardo:  (enters the private dining room, a full pastry tray held
  in one hand)  Aie!  No time for dessert, sad.  Now
  whatever shall I do with these tasty treats?
Vinnie:  (getting up from the window seat where he's been keeping
  watch)  I got an idea, Leo.

next:   the group gets underway
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  I put the bad guys' lair in the Azure Sea because the
  traversing of that body of water (with Drawmij's help) will be
  an adventure in itself, as you'll see.
    Drawmij and his personality (like most of the Greyhawk denizens
  whom I don't invent myself) should be credited to Gary Gygax and
  Carl Sargent, both of whom did an excellent job.

    More fan mail...this batch spans 287 (Bosco's Dragon-Deck
  tournament) through 295 (Torin's downfall.)  I've really got to
  collect and copy in this stuff more often; I'm so far behind it's
  not even funny.

>>    I suppose Bosco does have his good points. Just not my favorite
>>  character.
>>    An enjoyable read just the same.
>>    I was expecting either Bosco to cheat or be cheated and mass
>>  destruction to ensue. I guess I'm thinking too much about
>>  Belphanior tho.
>>  Rob

>>  Bosco episodes are always entertaining, and this one was a
>>  nice little side-story. I loved the mutual pick-pocketing,
>>  and wonder what Bosco's reaction will be when he realizes he's
>>  been robbed! Might take the wind out of his sails a bit (yeah,
>>  right: like a puff from an asthmatic compared to the gale
>>  force winds of a hurricane).
>>  Bosco truly shines here, as he does just about everywhere:
>>  do you find him easier to write for, or is he a "good mood"
>>  subject only?


>>  I'm glad you added the epilogue to the Peldor vacation story:
>>  it shows that despite his now rare thieving excursions, Peldor
>>  has very much settled down, and has his eyes on the future.
>>  Adventuring forever isn't for everyone: not even those who
>>  excel at it. Sometimes people just want to settle down, and
>>  only go adventuring when the need arises, or for recreation.
>>  While I agree with the fan mail that said Peldor's character
>>  has been "toned down", I don't think it's a bad thing. Good
>>  lord, he has Tanya, the Inn, great friends, amazing wealth,
>>  quite a lot of "pull" within city circles: what would motivate
>>  him to risk it all every day (or week or month, for that matter)?
>>  In fact, the comments about various character development for
>>  both henchmen and main characters left me pondering about the
>>  future for each of them.
>>  Peldor and Tanya have it all, and I'm envious. Maybe that's why
>>  I'm happy with the way things are: it's like being happy for the
>>  good fortune of a friend.
>>  Belphanior I must admit that I am worried about. He's gonna keep
>>  pushing the envelope until he's killed. He's my bet for the first
>>  adventurer to die (and stay dead). I'm not sure how I'd feel about
>>  losing him, but it would be appropriate, and the most believable
>>  outcome the way he and Otto are going.
>>  Mongo seems to be looking for something: maybe he's bored. I think
>>  his trip to Thunderdelve is going to set him thinking about a
>>  kingdom of his own, and the future will find King Mongo in a
>>  situation much like Yod Ironbeard's.
>>  Ged is sort of settled, but we don't know where he is right now
>>  or what he's doing. I suspect Nenya will leave him eventually,
>>  unless they became emotionally involved (and maybe even then).
>>  Maybe she's not seen enough of the world, and once she's learned
>>  more from Ged, she'll feel like getting out and exploring on her
>>  own.
>>  The drow are becoming more and more withdrawn, which seems to
>>  suit Alindyar just fine, but is obviously somewhat of a bother
>>  to Lyra.  They will no doubt continue to increase their skills,
>>  which will probably require or drive them to further adventures.
>>  Someday, hundreds of years or more in the future, they may settle
>>  down.
>>  Arnold seems a bit bored with life in the castle, and I suspect
>>  he's itching to go off on his own (or with some of the others) as
>>  soon as Ged returns. He'll probably always return to Ged, I suspect:
>>  he seems as loyal and faithful as a dog.
>>  Gorin will probably remain by Mongo's side for a while longer -
>>  but not too much longer.  He'll eventually move to some small
>>  mountain village, where he'll become a master craftsman and raise
>>  a large family.
>>  Bosco will remain Bosco for as long as Bosco draws a breath.
>>  Leonard

>>  Hey, how's it going!
>>  I really liked the Bosco story with the Greyhawk version of the
>>  Maverick Poker Contest.  So did Bosco win by luck and skill or did
>>  he cheat a little as well?
>>  Later,
>>  Karl

>>>>  >   Bosco never cheats!  Shame on you...   :)
>>  Well that's true at least if you ask him, of course he would
>>  probably say that it is just skill and to him cheating is a skill.
>>  Karl

>>  I really enjoyed the Peldor stories quite a bit, but I would like
>>  to see more of the drow.  Perhaps an adventure to find certain
>>  rare spell components?
>>  As you have mentioned, Rillen is the only adventurer without some
>>  sort of apprentice/hireling.  I would like to see him visit Sonja
>>  (?) again.  Also, would it be in Rillen's character to re-open the
>>  monestary with him as the head monk?
>>  .marc

  And now to the darker tales:

>>  Great stories!!!  A very logical step for Belphanior to put down
>>  some roots where he is in charge and everyone fears him.  Nice to
>>  see Otto still growing and using his own wits.  I can't wait for
>>  his enemies to find out that he is running an entire town. :-)
>>  Marcus

>>  So, is Belph going to summon Angus now that he appears to be
>>  settling down?  And the anti-magic sphere would augment the
>>  defenses of the bank (as well as keeping it close at hand)?
>>  I liked the way he took over.  I must confess to being worried
>>  about the mad elf actually settling down, but I'm actually
>>  pleased with the way that you handled it.  Way to go.
>>  On to other things.  Where is Ged?  Maybe tracking down the
>>  Sueloise Lich?  Probably not (although I think it would make a
>>  great story), but whatever he's doing - I'm awaiting his return.
>>  'Til next time ...
>>  Michael

>>  I find it fascinating.  He's got a *very* different style from
>>  Peldor.  With Belphaior I'm not always sure what will happen, but
>>  I can be reasonably certain that it will be exactly what he wants.
>>  Obviously he's read Oerth's version of Machiavelli's "The Prince".
>>    It is better to be feared than loved.
>>  More episodes. Now.  Not too demanding am I? ;-)
>>            Greg

>>  Excellent!
>>  I've been wondering if/when Belphanior would settle down.  Helgate
>>  sounds perfect...  Big enough to keep him busy, used to a ruthless
>>  ruler, and it'll be fun watching him gain the respect of the towns-
>>  folk as he fends off bands of hooligans, marauding orcs, or whatever
>>  you decide to throw at him....
>>  He might even get another henchman....
>>  Keep up the good work,
>>         John

>>  Once again, the atmosphere surrounding these episodes is dark and
>>  grimey:  just as I'd imagine an old frontier town to really be like.
>>  I'm going to enjoy Belphanior's stay in Helgate. This is just the
>>  sort of city that Belphanior would take over!
>>  Leonard

>>  Overall a very good story. It shows a side of Belphanior I had long
>>  since given up on. (IMHO he has been CE for quite some time.) Maybe
>>  running a town will pull him back towards CN or all the way to CN(G)?
>>  I also like the whole "running a backwater town" idea.
>>  Eric

>>  A good story.  Obviously the calm before the storm in Helgate.
>>  Rance

>>  Hi Thomas,
>>  I'm still enjoying your stories a lot, and hope you'll continue
>>  writing them. Belphanior is still my favourite, and the recent
>>  story-line has just confirmed his position as number one.  Otto
>>  is also a very suitable henchdwarf for Belphanior. I just hope
>>  Belpahnior will gather himself an army and start conquering around
>>  lying areas.. He'll be a great warlord....
>>  Stig

>>  Hi Thomas,
>>    Good work on the lastest Belphanior installment! The taking
>>  over of a town seems like something B. would do and it has lots
>>  of possibilities.
>>  What you want know are a couple of rivals to try to become lord
>>  of the town. However, this is likely to degenerate into a
>>  slugfest, so it might be more fun to keep the main man
>>  anonymous, and just have B. chop up his raggles. Alternatively
>>  you could have the nearest country conveniently decide to
>>  expand...
>>  The internal politics of the town will be interesting, with all
>>  the people who run the town trying to get away with as much as
>>  possible. If you have read the Mallorean by David Eddings you
>>  might be inspired by the way Silk and Yarblek run their
>>  business:-) Double-dealing, treachery and corruption!
>>  Also, I'd like to see the return of those mercs who were last
>>  seen fighting the undead Belphanior summoned, and possibly the
>>  assasin from Greyhawk whom Peldor is acquainted with. After all,
>>  once word gets out that Belphanior is running a town, his old
>>  enemies will soon find out and he is now tied down to one place.
>>  Hopefully a certain Iron Dwarf will be included in this list of
>>  old enemies (possibly leading B. to yell for some backup).
>>  I'm looking forward to what happens next and I'll leave you with
>>  these thoughts:-
>>  'To the winner belongs the spoils' but in B.'s case it's more
>>  likely to be:-
>>  'Veni, Vidi, Castratavi illigitimos' (I came, I saw, I castrated
>>  the bastards).
>>  Seeya,
>>      Sean

>>  Thomas,
>>  This is GREAT!  I open my mailbox and presto! another Adventurer's
>>  episode, I hope you don't mind gushing praise, but your stories are
>>  one of the best reasons to have net access.  I am currently doing
>>  some rough formatting work on books 1-13 in Ami Pro so I can print
>>  them out and send them to my younger brothers who I am sure are
>>  going to have a blast from reading them.  Keep up the great work
>>  (how many times can I use the word great in this letter).  I've
>>  been reading your stories since you first started posting to the
>>  newsgroups, and they always make me remember fondly the world of
>>  late nights, junk food, scattered dice and imaginations on fire.
>>  Ever GREATful :}
>>  Sol

>>  Keep up the fine work, its good to see Belphanior settling down
>>  some.  Im sure loosing the ring had somthing to do with it, although
>>  not like loosing blackrazor, or the eye.
>>  Dave, Marie and Morgan

>>  Thomas, it's good to see you writing again!
>>    I've loved the Adventureres stories right from the beginning.
>>  Peldor has always been my favorite character, though I usually
>>  tend to play mages on the rare occasions I get to roleplay nowadays.
>>  I like the insight into the human (erm..) side of the characters.
>>  So, when are you starting work on the novel?   :)
>>  Adrian

>>  I've really enjoyed the recent stories, especially the ones about
>>  Belphanior--he seems to have found the right place for himself.
>>  Another grand quest with everyone together, perhaps to deal with
>>  Iuz, would be great fun sometime in the future too.
>>  James

>>  I guess it is gloves off time for Belphanor this time. I wonder who
>>  the hunted is, Belphanor or Torin? It must be time for Belphanor to
>>  use his eye a bit more. Also we haven't had a death for quite a
>>  while. If Otto is killed in this fight it will be another good story
>>  line for Belphanor to get him raised. Perhaps a visit to Ged's place.
>>  I like the new style of switching from one character to another, it
>>  is working well. More from the worshippers of Peldor in the keep
>>  please.
>>  Graham

>>  Wow!
>>  I remember when you introduced Torin as some sort of holy warrior
>>  and a defender of justice.  Nice to see that Belphaniors' actions
>>  have reduced him to a raving loon.  I can just imagine what will
>>  happen to Torins' reputation when his recent actions catch up with
>>  him.  Assuming, of course, that he survives.  Nice development!
>>  Marc

>>  Hmm, Torin.  A fallen paladin, perhaps?  Very nice work.  Nice
>>  to see Otto's ingenuity show through, even if he was captured in
>>  the end.  Belphanior ought to have quite a reaction; I can't wait
>>  to see it.
>>  Michael

>>  Well all I have to say is that this has been a fantastic story line.
>>  Great character build up, good setting, and a good old fashion fantasy
>>  western.  Belphanior has not usually been my favorite character in the
>>  past, but this story line reminds me of the the old Wolverine from my
>>  comic collecting days back in the early to mid 80's.
>>  Anyway, Im on pins and needles waiting to find out what happens next.
>>  And reading at least one Adventurers story a day during the past week
>>  has been a treat. Keep up the great work....
>>  -Josh

>>  Cool story.  I figured we'd be seeing this guy again.  You're
>>  getting quite prolific in turning out the episodes.  This is
>>  a good thing.  My only complaint is...
>>  ... I want more! ;-)
>>               Looking forward to the next one,
>>                       Greg

>>  Thomas,
>>  So tell me did you just create the meals on your own, or are you
>>  indeed a gourmet chef, disguised and a network engineer?
>>  I have really enjoyed the Peldor, Tanya and drow storyline.
>>  The Belphenior storyline is excellent, glad to see that he is finally
>>  settling down.  In his own way that is.  Hmmmm... Nice town think I
>>  will live here, Someone else is ruling the town - let's elminate
>>  them.  Nicer town, now that I am in charge....
>>  Excellent, keep up the great work.
>>      Paul

>>  Your descriptions of the meals are very good, are you a cook/chief?
>>  Greg

  Thanks to Leonard Bottleman for his work on the feasts & food.  For
the record, I barely get by boiling pasta, myself.

>>  And now on to # 294: Otto captured? Geeze, what a surprise! I was
>>  expecting the revenge story at any time, but this little twist
>>  caught me off gaurd - well done. If Eduardo is busy tending to
>>  Perkins, who's gonna tell Belphanior? Someone is going to tell
>>  him, right? He's not going to be surprised, is he? Arg, I hate
>>  waiting!
>>  Leonard

>>  Thomas,
>>  295 is excellent!  A great fight between two incredible warriors!  I
>>  like the switch at the end, with them having each others sword, and
>>  then Belphanior using the power of his eye.  Nice to see that he is
>>  not necessarily totally ruthless to every enemy by letting Rinaldo
>>  and his surviving men go.  Rinaldo will either turn up as an enemy
>>  again, or more likely, just spread the word about Belphanior and not
>>  go near him again.  Rinaldo did not strike me as a stupid man. :-)
>>  Rinaldo would also be a good way for some of his former companions
>>  to find out what he is doing now (Peldor would be a likely candidate)
>>  Keep them coming,
>>  Marcus

>>  Whoa, yes! What a great read!
>>  You picked the perfect quote for it too. And I _loved_ the fact
>>  that nobody in Torin's group thought about Belphanior teleporting
>>  to them!
>>  Some good points: Belphanior risked his skin to save Otto!  I
>>  think you're right (in your comments about the fan-mail) in that
>>  Belphanior's time in Helgate is offsetting the evil influences of
>>  the eye and sword.
>>  Hmm, the ending does have an interesting twist, and it certainly
>>  makes the duel between Torin and Belphanior seem more even sided,
>>  and the outcome less certain. Belphanior had to use his eye to win,
>>  and even that wasn't enough by itself. It was also interesting to
>>  see Blackrazor used (or attempted to be used) against him.
>>  Leonard

>>  Hi again, Thomas!
>>  Episode CCXCV. Showdown...huhhuh. Hell, I can't even think an
>>  episode more action-laden and bloody than this one. Few near to
>>  this were Halbarad's encounter with the alien and Alternate Oerth's
>>  final battle. Hat's off to you for it is in my opinion THE best ever!
>>  Here's the suggestion:
>>  Sometime in future, new veins of precious metals are found nearby
>>  Helgate. Masses of people come into town to find their fortune.
>>  Belp's hands are full of keeping new incomers in fear of him...
>>  Keep up the great work!
>>  -VP

  This is a very good idea, and I'm now planning to use it (after the
current ruckus settles down.)  With such action going on, Helgate won't
become a quiet place, anytime in the near future.

>>  I'd just like to send you mail praising you for your wonderful write
>>  ups.  I find it particularly interesting how thw "Adventurers" group
>>  has grown in power from its beginnings.
>>  One comment I'd like to make on Belphanor and Blackrazor.  I think
>>  that this sword will eventually become a disadvantage to own,
>>  especially in Belphanior's desire to stay and rule Helgate for the
>>  long term.  After all, the sword is required to eat a soul once every
>>  three days, or it will grow in power and attempt to dominate the
>>  wielder.  What will happen when there is nobody to attack and kill
>>  once every three days?  The local townsfolk are somewhat happy with
>>  Belphanors rule, and probably won't try to have him taken out.
>>  And I doubt that there will be a "Torm of the week" to satiate the
>>  sword.
>>  I could forsee, as a worse case senario, Blackrazor ultimatly
>>  dominating  Belpahnor and making him go on a killing spree (remember,
>>  +1 to ego every three days it is not fed).  Sure, Belphanor may have
>>  a lot of mental fortitude, but it won't last forever!  Anyway, once
>>  Belpahnor is taken over, I could see the his magical eye (is it
>>  intellegent?  who knows) worsening the situation by either helping
>>  the sword take over Belphanor or something like that.
>>  I dunno, maybe the above sounds implausible.  But, sooner or later
>>  Belphanor is going to run out of souls to suck if he settles down in
>>  Helgate.
>>    - Brad

  A valid point...only time will tell how B. will deal with this,

  Now, just to show that I publish _all_ the fan mail, here's a
dissenting opinion about the Helgate fight:

>>  I have been reading your stories for a while, but I must say the
>>  latest Belphanior series with Torin was a bit silly. [No offense,
>>  most of your stuff is good] After reading it all I could think was
>>  Belphanior the demi-god has been born. Why don't the other mages
>>  use StoneSkin? Why did Torin not haste his men, put portection
>>  from evil on them? Have healing potions? Invisibility potions? It
>>  seems that Belphanior has a corner on all the defensive magic in
>>  the world and everyone he fights is brain-dead. Sure, he is
>>  powerful, but at least make his enemies think! And Otto who only
>>  6/8 ftr/thief seems untouchable himself at times. Normally you do
>>  a good job of making it seem possible the characters could die,
>>  but not so with Belphanior. I know that nothing short of devine
>>  intervention will ever stop him.
>>  Just my 2 cents worth.
>>  Wray

  Now for something unrelated to any particular recent story:

>>  When will we see Peyote again? I still remember the huge battle
>>  with the giants (episode 50, I believe) after which Peyote turned
>>  into a wolf to track the footprints. I didn't know much about
>>  Dungeons and Dragons back then, and I was completely surprised.
>>  Having played a fighter/druid since, I realize what a cool special
>>  power that is. We haven't seen Peyote much lately, and even then we
>>  saw him only infrequently after he left the party. I, for one, would
>>  love to see him again. I don't know about you, but I think an
>>  adventure with Peyote and Belphanior would be great. Perhaps they
>>  could meet in a dark alley in some town and could begin fighting,
>>  only to realize that they knew each other. After that, they could
>>  go their separate ways for a little while, only to be forced
>>  together again in peril. I think wordplay between Peyote and
>>  Belphanior over the latter's love for fire or a feeling of mutual
>>  distrust between the pair would make for a great storyline. (Then
>>  again, that's only me :)  If you already have something planned
>>  for Peyote, then I can't wait. :)
>>  Daniel

  Hmm.  This suggestion has been addressed in this very episode,

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