Chapter #328

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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 (or a current splinter of it, anyway):                 +
+                                                                   +
+  Belphanior   14th/14th/14th lvl elven fighter/mage/thief  (CN/E) +
+  Otto         7th/8th level dwarven fighter/thief            (CN) +
+  Date:        12/13/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                        +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       the mountain town of Helgate                        +
+  Climate:     very cold                                           +
+  "Strange, how you always manage to be in the right place at      +
+   the right time."                                                +
+                         - from _The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly_  +

                  CCCXXVIII.  The New Marshal

  As the hidden town of Helgate enjoys its new prosperity, brought
about by the discovery of new gold in the old mines, all sorts of
people flock to the place.  In the recently-rebuilt Sword and Cup
Tavern, Otto is busy discussing recent events with old Rexxus, the
establishment's owner.

Rexxus:  -seen it this busy since twenty, twenty-five years ago.
Otto:  (surveying the crowd)  How in the hell do they find the
  town?  We're pretty well-isolated, as towns go.
Rexxus:  (shrugs)  We're not far off a major trail north, toward
  Perrenland.  All it took was one babbling fool, I bet.  (he takes
  Otto's mug and refills it)
Otto:  Thanks.  (he takes a swallow of ale, the strong dark ale he
  tends to prefer)  A rowdy lot, these - but it could be worse.
Rexxus:  (knocks on the wooden countertop)
Claudia:  (strolls up, a serving tray filled with empty mugs
  balanced atop one hand)  Eight beers...and some wine.
Rexxus:  Coming right up.  (he dashes away to procure the booze)
Eduardo:  And one milk!
Claudia:  (ruffles the boy's black hair)  Quiet, you little rugrat!
Otto:  How's life?
Claudia:  Busy...(she wipes sweat from her brow)  But tips are up
  to an all-time high, I think.
Eduardo:  (nods)
Otto:  Yeah, I believe it.
Claudia:  And you helping fund the rebuilding of this place didn't
  hurt, either.
Otto:  (shrugs)  A guy's got to have business interests.  You know,

  Just then, a big, beefy man waddled up to the bar.  He waddled
because he was nearly too drunk to stand; the gods only knew what
was keeping him on his feet now.

lout:  Wench!  (he grabs Claudia's rear end)  More grog!
Claudia:  Oh!  (he shuffles to one side, nearly dropping the empty
  mugs from her tray)
Otto:  (deftly catches one mug that fell, and sets it on the bar)
Eduardo:  (deftly picks the big fellow's pocket, getting away with
  a piece of silver)
Claudia:  (manages to put her tray on the bar, and slides away from
  the smelly lout)
lout:  (moves to block Claudia's retreat)  If you've got no more
  grog, I can think of other things...
Claudia:  (slaps the man in the face)  I'm a serving girl!
lout:  Then serve!
Otto:  I don't think so.
lout:  Yow!

  The big fellow's gaze moved down, slowly, fixing on the knifepoint
that now poked into his crotch.  Otto poked the sharp tip slightly,
at the same time grabbing the front of the man's shirt.

lout:  'Ey, what's this all about?
Otto:  (to Claudia)  I think you'll find that this man was just on
  his way out.  (he backs toward the door, forcing the big fellow
  to come along)  Isn't that right?
lout:  Just a minute, here-
Otto:  (pushes on the knife-tip again)
lout:  Ow!
Otto:  One false move and you'll never need to have a woman again,
  got it?
other lout:  Let 'im go, shorty, before I break you in half and
  toss you through a window.
Otto:  If it's a fight you want, I'm game - but we go _outside_,
  got it?  (he prods the first man with his knife)
lout#1:  Yeah, yeah!  Whatever you say!  (to his friend)  Whatever
  he says!
Otto:  You're not as dumb as you look.

  Moments later, the trio was in the street outside the tavern, and
Otto had released the drunken lout.  Rejoining his friend, the man
now faced Otto, who had replaced his knife in its belt-sheath.

lout#1:  You'll pay fer that!  No one pushes _me_ around!
Otto:  There's a first time for everything.
lout#2:  Who d'you think you are, anyway?
Otto:  (opens one side of his flannel jacket, revealing a silver
  star)  Well, for starters, I'm the town marshal.
lout#1:  (looks at lout#2)
lout#2:  (looks at lout#1)
Otto:  Threatening the marshal is a serious offense, boys.  You
  could spend a week in jail for that.
lout#1:  I don't think so.  (he charges at the dwarf)

  Otto stood his ground, waiting until the last possible moment to
dodge and stick his foot out.  The big man, unable to stop himself,
tripped and hit the ground, getting no more than a mouthful of dirt
for his efforts.

Otto:  Attacking the _that's_ really serious.  Some
  marshals might even kill you for that.
lout#2:  (draws a sword)  But you won't.
Otto:  No...I won't kill you for that.  (he looks around, his hand
  grasping his own sword-hilt)  I'll kill _both_ of you.
lout#1:  (gets to his feet, after several failed tries)  Ugh.
lout#2:  Don't worry, I'm gonna mop the street with-
Otto:  I don't think so.

  Three town guards had arrived, and two of them levelled crossbows
at the two troublemakers.  The third man was actually the captain
of the guards, Herbert.

Herbert:  Don't move, scum!
louts:  (standing still, they look around carefully)
Otto:  Ah, Herbert!  (he sheathes his sword)  You just saved these
  two men's lives.
Herbert:  That's good to know.  (he looks the pair over, then spits
  on the ground)  Jail, then?
Otto:  Yup.  Disturbing the peace, attacking the marshal, and also
  carrying a weapon in town.
lout#1:  Hey, I don't have any weapon!
Herbert:  Quiet, you.  (he moves in and disarms the second fellow)
Otto:  Hmm, he's right.  No weapons charge for him, I guess,  Not
  that it'll matter.
Herbert:  Aye.  (he produces manacles and quickly secures the two
  men)  Off you go, boys.

  As the guard-captain led the prisoners away, flanked by the two
crossbow-wielding guards, Otto turned back toward the Sword and

Otto:  Ah...scrapping always makes me thirsty.  (he notices the
  crowd watching him)  What?
random fellow:  Those were members of Nerg's crew...
Otto:  Nerg?  What's a Nerg?
Eduardo:  Nerg?
other fellow:  Nerg!
third fellow:  You didn't notice those red armbands they wore?
Otto:  Not really.  Were they supposed to mean something?  A gang,
first fellow:  That's exactly what it means.  (he, and the others,
  follow the dwarf back into the tavern)  Nerg's band moves from
  town to town...all little towns like this one.  They do what they
  want, they take what they want.
Otto:  They're not here to mine gold, then?
other fellow:  Nope...only to steal it.  Also to gamble, wench,
  drink, and loot.
Otto:  (frowning, he grabs the mug that Rexxus just slid down the
  bartop toward him)  Hmm...a roving gang of bandits, known by their
  armbands, led by a scumbag who obeys no rules.
Rexxus:  Sounds like that about sums it up.
Otto:  Good, because Belphanior's been getting bored lately.  This
  should liven things up a bit.  It would be good to know more about
  them, though...

  The group around Otto crowded forward, and began to expound upon
Nerg and his gang; unnoticed, Eduardo slipped away to get the
information Otto needed.

next:   Belphanior flexes his muscle
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  Is the mailing list fixed?  Who can tell.  What I do know
  is this:  on 7-8 February, I successfully mailed 324-7 out to
  the mailing list.  With any luck, it _is_ fixed.  Only time will
  tell - I don't know what to believe anymore.
    I know this was a skimpy episode...I've had a rough week (and
  the preceding weekend, to be sure) and there's been little time
  for writing.  Once I finally did get this one done, what really
  took more time was adding the fan mail.  Speaking of which...

  More fan mail - this batch covers #310 (when the attacks and
kidnappings really got underway) through #318 (right before the
various rescuers begin making plans.)  I'm actually almost caught
up on this stuff, too - one more batch ought to do it.
  Most of the following will seem out-of-date, since it's all kinds
of speculation on the identity and motives of the attackers.  Still,
it was fun to read, and I can't say that reading your speculations
didn't help me decide what was going on    :)
  This storyline, by the way, was one of (if not the most) popular
ever.  I got a tremendous amount of fan mail about it.  Maybe it's
getting time for a survey again.

>>  Episode 310 was great as always, when Mongo got up to see Gorin
>>  I was afraid that was the end of the episode.  All I have to say
>>  is, woo hoo!!!  (and thanx for getting me into D&D again :)
>>  Gabe

>>  As always enjoying your stories.
>>  Just wrote to comment about the 300+ stories.  It seems that your
>>  stories have reached quite a big turning point in regards to the
>>  aims of the characters.  Less mad frantic expeditions and more
>>  overall characterisation and looming plot threads.  Very
>>  interesting.  Surely this must be the start of your Epic III?
>>  I'm still not sure how you define your stories into separate epics.

  Don't worry - neither am I...

>>  Denby

>>  [moments after reading 311]
>>  ahh.  very nice.  i hope take as {much time}{many chapters} as you
>>  feel necessary to handle this properly, rather than trying to
>>  "finish" a mini-series quickly to get back to "normal".
>>  ok
>>  dpm

>>  Another good ep, Thomas!  I particularly liked the Ged's realistic
>>  lack of arms and armor while studying alone late at night in the
>>  "safety" of his own castle.  Too often, in my experience, players
>>  insist that their characters are fully armed with all of their
>>  items even in the most unlikely situations (such as being in the
>>  presence of a ruler, walking down the street of a peaceful town,
>>  or even just going to sleep).  It's the rare good DM who points
>>  out the silliness of such behavior and applies the appropriate
>>  consequences when such advice isn't heeded.
>>  Well, anyway, I'm really looking forward to the progress of this
>>  story.  It looks like the Adventurers might be up against some
>>  foes who might well be their equals -- very savvy ones, at that,
>>  taking out each member of the group singly, rather than trying
>>  to take on the group as a whole.
>>  Keep up the great work!
>>                 Greg

>>  I must say I'm intrigued by this latest story line.  It has all
>>  the makings of something really good.  I am looking forward to
>>  seeing how you drag the rest of the party into it...
>>  Wayne

>>  Hi,
>>    This looks like it has the makings of a  great story line.  Keep
>>  up the good work and good luck.
>>          Tom

>>  The story line is pretty cool.
>>  I like the iron dwarf's return. "We took the liberty of adding
>>  to his powers"  Good one.
>>  Rillen ought to be safe and sound so at least one original party
>>  member is not captured.  Plus the rest lack any muscle.  Gorin's
>>  not a major asskicker (unless he got some more goodies from Mongo's
>>  portable hole?)
>>  Rance

>>  Thomas,
>>  Just writing to say that I like the direction in which The
>>  Adventures has gone.  Power people have powerful allies and
>>  likewise accumulate powerful enemies (well, I guess Belphaniors'
>>  enemies don't accumulate ;-).
>>  If I didn't know better concerning Gorin and Mongo, I would say
>>  that our enemies are striking against The Adventures by attacking
>>  those they hold most dear.  However, now with the disappearance
>>  of Tanya, perhaps this may be the case.
>>  I suppose the random element which our villians may not have
>>  accounted for may be Belphanior as he has been out of the public
>>  eye for quite some time.
>>  Also, many Kudos on the interaction between Mongo and Ged.  I've
>>  been waiting for some Adventurer fallout.  However, I would have
>>  like to see a heated conversation between Nenya and Ged of the
>>  Gorin issue.  I would have liked to see Ged explain the reasons
>>  for his actions to one who looks up to him for wisdom.
>>  .marc

>>  YES!
>>  Perfect timing for the return of the iron dwarf!
>>  This is shaping up to be one killer of a mini-series here!  I
>>  love it!
>>  Richard

>>  most excellent!  what a surprise to see the return of the iron
>>  dwarf!
>>  i can't wait to see what happens next, i got the same feeling i
>>  used to get when i was into comics - get deep into reading and
>>   ... have to wait for the rest to come in another episode.
>>  arrrrg!  but it's damn well worth the wait.  that's for sure.
>>  thanks for the enjoyment.
>>  have fun,
>>  matt h.

>>  This group of fan mail has prompted me to write.  Once again I
>>  must say that I love your stories, and it is always a good day
>>  when one arives in the mail box.  Since I got on the mailing list
>>  I have not looked at my news groups much at all.  I think that
>>  the hope of a new adventurers story was the only thing getting
>>  me to look at the groups.
>>  Thanks for Lyra's birthday party.  It was great fun to see the
>>  drow again.  They are still my favorites, and although this was
>>  not strictly their story it was fun to see them all together again.
>>  The fight between the two sages cracked me up.  Also the return of
>>  the Iron dwarf at long last!  Yes!!!  What a hard core little beast.
>>  I still remember that "Forged in hatred..." bit, inspired stuff.
>>  Also though Aldinyar is still top dog in my book Belph has risen
>>  dramaticly.  I have really begun to like him since he has taken
>>  some responsibility for somthing.  I think what used to bother me
>>  most about him was that nothing mattered to him and he took nothing
>>  seriously.  I wondered why is he even hanging out with this group?
>>  But now if his town, or Otto, or the townsfolk are in trouble I
>>  understand why Belphanior is there with blood in mind.
>>  All in all great work.
>>                  Salutations from Mt. Kolvir,
>>                      Dave, Marie and Morgan

>>  Thomas,
>>  Hi.  I haven't sent you mail about the stories in a while, but
>>  now that finals week is over, I thought I would drop you a line
>>  I've really enjoyed the recent storylines, particularly Helgate,
>>  and the conspiracy story that's going on right now.  Of course,
>>  that's in large part because they feature Belphanior!
>>  It is really nice to see him in a role where he is not blood-
>>  thirsty and murderous all of the time.  I think that we had hints
>>  of his leadership potential beginning with the alternate-world
>>  storyline.  Being the leader of Helgate plays a good foil to his
>>  evil tendencies, and should keep him somewhere near "neutrality"
>>  as far as alignment goes.
>>  I wondered what ever happened to that huge anti-magic sphere
>>  from the mortal kombat-like island story?  Is it still buried
>>  outside Greyhawk?

  For now...

>>  Also, this conspiracy deal sounds cool so far.  I think that an
>>  interesting motivation for enemies would be the _items_ that the
>>  adventurers hold.  They are sure to be weilding some one-of-a-kind
>>  items that other people want...
>>  Thanks for writing, keep it up!
>>  -kal

>>  The *iron dwarf*!!! Excellent, brilliant, AMAZING!!!  :)
>>  I've been expecting that guy to pop up for so much time, that i
>>  nearly forgot all about him...i bet Peldor and Belphanior did
>>  so too!  *grin*
>>  No Mongo or Riller around eh? Oh boy, oh boy...this should be
>>  fun!  :)
>>  More, more, MORE!!!!  :)
>>     Ciao,
>>           Marios

  Yep, it was interesting to write that big guns there
to beat the ID into submission...and look what happened    :)

>>  Thomas,
>>  I discovered The Adventurers about 5 months ago, and I've finally
>>  caught all the way up to episode 313; so I felt it was time to
>>  drop you a line.
>>  First off, let me say the stories are wonderful, and I enjoy them
>>  immensely.  They inspired me to start up my long abandoned fantasy
>>  RPG campaign, which is now going strong and adding members
>>  frequently.
>>  Now a little about my impressions of the characters.  You may
>>  accuse me of being a goody-goody, but I must admit I like the
>>  "good" characters (Mongo, Ged, etc.) more than the infamous ones
>>  (Belphanior and Otto).  In fact, there are times when I would
>>  (almost) like to see Belphanior brought to justice, or maybe
>>  just given a good lesson in the value of life.  His slow
>>  transition to evil will inevitably bring him into conflict with
>>  the rest of The Adventurers, and I'd hate to see any of them go.
>>  It may also be interesting to see ALL the  Adventurers together
>>  adventuring.  I for one would love to see the interaction of the
>>  characters as they tried to put aside their different philosophies
>>  and get to the business at hand.
>>  One can only imagine the sparks that would fly when the
>>  increasingly evil Belphanior butts heads with the newly humbled
>>  and good Ged.
>>  Just some of my thoughts, keep up the good work!
>>  Kurt

  I missed some good chances for this sort of interaction by not
detailing it during the "captured" phase.  Example:  Ged and Mongo
should've had a talk, perhaps even a handshake.  Now I have to do
these things in near-future episodes.  About the "evil" characters,
it's good to see some different opinions from time to time.  Just
bear in mind that since I enjoy writing Belphanior, you'll still
see a lot of his tales.  He is, however, mellowing since taking
on leadership of Helgate.

>>  Yes, one nasty little epic.  Let me briefly recount...
>>  Ged:  The way to take out a high level mage is through intrigue
>>  ...not direct.  It was perfect.
>>  Peldor-1:  The way through the powerful Peldor is through his
>>  woman...too true.
>>  Belphanior:  the problem of travelling without companions is
>>  the = possibility of missing a saving throw...stoning is the way.
>>  Peldor-2:  He should get he is just too
>>  loaded....  I was also disappointed to see the lack of magic item
>>  use by the party.(Belphanior/Peldor).  they have so much.  As a
>>  player, seeing the iron dwarf would have made me give my character
>>  sheet a good hard look and pull something out of my butt.  But
>>  perhaps not, the stress may have overwhelmed them.
>>  Patrick

>>   It occurs to me that, if attrition keeps up at this rate, the
>>  henchmen will form the bulk of the rescue team.  Brings to mind
>>  that old cliche "United we stand...."  Alindyar and Mongo as the
>>  heavies, followed by Lyra, Tanya, Bosco, Arnold, Gorin, Otto,
>>  and Nenya.  Could be real interesting---and if Halbarad and
>>  Peyote show up...the possibilities are endless.  HMMMM....
>>  Of course, it also occurs to me that Peyote would have some sort
>>  of silly comment about Belphanior being 'stoned.'  :)
>>   Oh, one more thing:  it might be cool if the wispy thing made
>>  an appearance again.
>>   Until next time,
>>     Tom

>>  I like the current story thread!  Keep it going!  I like to see
>>  the party work together against other powerful characters.  The
>>  suspense and mystery of who is behind it all is a nice touch.
>>  Considering the combined power of the party it makes perfect sense
>>  for the unknown attackers to hit them one by one, for the most
>>  part.  I look forward to the final confrontation!!
>>               Marc

>>  Better and better.
>>  I just _love_ the Iron Dwarf.
>>  Other long time favorites that I would like to see return at
>>  some point are:
>>  1) The Death Knight who gave up fighting the Adventures once the
>>   mage who controlled him had died.  I don't see this individual
>>  having a particular grudge, but I'd like to see him back for a
>>  cameo.
>>  2) Cynder, yikes!
>>  A party consisting of Bosco, Tanya, Arnold, Nenya, Lyra, Gorin
>>  and Otto would be formitable.  Wow!
>>  Keep on writing!
>>  .marc

>>  Tom,
>>  Just read 314, and I can feel the little shiver down my back when
>>  the story I'm following has the tension start to mount - this
>>  stuff is some of the best you've written, and I'm looking forward
>>  to the rest of this episode immensely.
>>  I seem to remember from some time back that episodes 300 onwards
>>  were going to be about the party members achieving godhood (or
>>  close) - do I remember wrong ? or are you still aiming for that?
>>   Peldor comes pretty close anyway, but then noone is indispensible
>>   ... !
>>  Be sure that you have an excellent Christmas break.
>>  Colin

  Long ago (in the early 100s) I wrote that around 300, Epic III
would begin - godhood, death, old age...but now it seems that I can't
write enough about the "middle years" between amateur adventurering
and old age.  It could be a long while before we get a look at Peldor
in his 30s, or Rillen having kids, and even then, some (Mongo, Ged,
Belphanior, the drow) won't age noticeably as the humans grow old
and die.

>>  I just read 314, and in a word:  Wow!
>>  One would think that Belphanior, a bitchy elfin mage, and the iron
>>  dwarf would make for a story on their own...but throw in Peldor, 2
>>  Gorgons, and Tanya, and you've got a serious brawl!
>>  I knew that it was bound to god, my idol: Belphanior...
>>  taken down and out in combat. 8-)
>>  The combat scenes were great.  Belph basically taking on the gorgons,
>>  dwarf and mage by himself.  Fuckin' amazing.  And if he hadn't have
>>  failed his save against that darkness (a pretty low roll! - yeah, I
>>  know you don't roll them anymore...;-) I would lay odds that Belph
>>  could have taken them all out.
>>  The Adventurers are in a very interesting position now.  It's
>>  reminiscent of the Legion of Superheros, where they took on the
>>  Legion of Supervillians - or even of the more recent X-men, where
>>  the Upstarts made bids on the elimination of powerful heroes.
>>  A group of people as powerful and wealthy as the Adventurers are
>>  bound to attract this sort of attention.  Perhaps it's an old
>>  enemy who they really pissed off when they kicked his ass.  He
>>  has now built a corps of powerful villians, who play against the
>>  weaknesses of the Adventurers.
>>  Potas Potay for Mongo - failed, he was not stealthy enough.
>>  The dart thrower for Ged - successful.
>>  The elven mage, iron dwarf, gorgons for Peldor and Belph -
>>  successful.
>>  What next....?
>>  I was waiting for Belph to whip out the 10 guage and blow the fuck
>>  outta the elf.  A little "Army of Darkness" style ass-whoopin with
>>  a shotgun never hurts.  ;-)
>>  I suspect Potay will prevail against Mongo - if he uses more
>>  subtle techniques.  And then there are Alindyar(sp?) and Lyra
>>  - a tough pair, unless you use physical means against them.  I
>>  see somebody more along the lines of the dart thrower taking them
>>  out.  Perhaps a half-shadow, half human assasin, who stalks them
>>  silently and then takes them down when they are least suspecting it.
>>  Or are the remaining Adventurers going to rally around Mongo and
>>  take the battle to the enemy?  Perhaps Alindyar and Lyra will find
>>  a way to track the enemy via their new, strange teleportation?
>>  Okay....I've babbled enough.  Needless to say, your stories
>>  continue to excite, and are tres cool.  I'm really happy that
>>  you've continued to write these stories.
>>  -kal

>>  In retrospect the scariest thing about the Iron Dwarf was that it
>>  bled when a sword was jamed into its eye slit.  That means it's
>>  not some cheap construct.  Its ALIVE!!  Shudder.
>>  Dave

>>  Now, please don't end this too quickly.  The foes have been
>>  intelligent and prepared throughout, and should remain so.  The
>>  should not be defeated in a manner unbefitting their shown
>>  experience.
>>  This is not to say they couldn't underestimate someone, like
>>  Bosco or Gorin (possibily considered lesser henchmen), but they
>>  should be crafty throughout.
>>  I am _really_ enjoying this storyline!  :-)
>>  Thanks, Thomas!
>>  Richard

>>  Have you figured out how you're going to explain why Nightfang
>>  didn't work for Peldor?  I've been pondering that one...
>>  Patrick

  Ah, this one's easy.  Nightfang's special power is keyed into its
owner _dying_.  No less.  So, getting beat into senselessness won't
trigger any helpful contingencies...
  Or maybe it got knocked from his hand during the melee...?  Hmm.

>>  Just read 315. So much for my hopes of Alindyar and Lyra saving
>>  the day.  Hrrmm. These villains want to kidnap the adventurers,
>>  but they don't seem to care whether the heroes survive the
>>  process. Wierd. If only Mongo had not lost his temper so quick,
>>  Potas seemed the type to gloat and reveal all in the best Bond
>>  tradition of Evil Villainry. :)
>>  Let's see, that's Peldor, Belphanior, Alindyar, Lyra and Arnold
>>  down, leaving Mongo, Gorin and Bosco, Rillen, Tanya and Nenya to
>>  pull some rabbits out of the portable hole. :)
>>  Oh, and possibly Rob, Halbarad and Peyote, wherever they are in
>>  the world.
>>  PS. Wonder if anyone in the Circle of Eight is going to notice
>>  something's going on? A few of the adventurers seemed to get on
>>  well with a couple of them, and while word may not have spread
>>  yet about the lord-priest of a local castle getting abducted, an
>>  upclass tavern getting *nuked* (well, magical equivalent thereof)
>>  in the city itself should attract a little attention from the top
>>  brass? :)
>>  Hmm, and then Peldor's disappearance should (fairly soon I would
>>  think, or at least not long after Tanya gets back) attract (at
>>  least) Org Nenshen's curiousity.

  Sorry, dude, I accidentally clipped your name (I delete these from
my mailbox as soon as I cut & paste them.)  One thing's for sure,
though - you have a talent for predicting the future    :)

>>  Thomas,
>>   There is a lesson here somewhere.  Probably something about
>>  cunning, planning, and a little bit of guerrilla (sp?) warfare
>>  being able to beat sheer brute force.  Consider:  the party,
>>  working as a unit, is generally close to unstoppable.  The
>>  brains of Alindyar/Ged/Lyra backed up by the strength of Mongo/
>>  Arnold/Rillen/Gorin supplemented by the trickery of Peldor, the
>>  silliness/distraction of Bosco, and the ruthlessness and tenacity
>>  of Belphanior/Otto.  When they are stopped, the more intelligent
>>  of the party suggest a fighting retreat, and they get out of
>>  Dodge when they need to.  Alone, while each adventurer is a
>>  formidable adversary, with a bit of planning, and the element
>>  of suprise (sp?), they can be beaten.
>>  Of course, when whoever has done this gets them all together,
>>  there's going to be hell to pay....
>>  Somehow, Nenya, Tanya, BOsco, Gorin, Rillen & co will get them
>>  through.
>>  Till next time...
>>  Tom

>>  With the current pace of the stories I hope more are forthcoming.
>>  This is becoming one of the most interesting stories thus far.
>>  It's great that the enemies are actually taking great pains to
>>  act in a rational manner.  Given that, with few exceptions, any
>>  who have taken on the whole group (whether in a surprise or
>>  frontal attack) usually have been lucky to escape, it would
>>  seem the height of folly to try to do this again.
>>  Keep up the good work, Thomas.  I'm really looking forward to
>>  the next episode.
>>  You'll be sending it out in a few minutes, right?
>>  Right?
>>  Thomas??
>>                  Greg

>>  Good. Clever strategies still being used.
>>  Vince.

>>  I was finally able to read through all the stories, and they
>>  were all solid stories.  Each of the attacks showed very
>>  complete planning, and a lot of resources.  I have to agree
>>  that the attack on Alindyar and Lyra was appropriately done,
>>  because a face to face would have been way to dangerous.
>>  Great stories.  I can't wait for the next one.
>>  Marcus

>>  Now who the hell is that Necros guy? I've checked the villains
>>  file, and he ain't nowhere to be seen! He's been talking about
>>  revenge, so one would guess he comes out of the adventurer's
>>  past, but still, i found no clue about him...
>>  All in all...i *LOVE* machinations!  *grin*
>>  Marios

>>  Thomas,
>>   An interesting episode, this.  I must admit, I enjoyed it a
>>  little more than some of the other 'capture' episodes---but I
>>  think thats just because I like Rillen.  When he takes on his
>>  foes, he doesnt have quite the strength of Mongo, nor the
>>  chaotic ruthlessness of Belphanior, but he, with the exception
>>  of maybe Alindyar (and that in a different way), alone has
>>  incredible discipline, which makes him cool, calculating, and
>>  deadly.
>>  Tom

>>    Season's Greetings!
>>    Just wanted to let you know that this is a great story arc.
>>  I've been trying to figure out who's behind it all, but so far
>>  have drawn a blank.
>>  Whoever it is commands a great deal of power.  It ought to be
>>  interesting when the Adventurers get to payback time.
>>    mew

>>  Zounds! A conspiracy! The adventurers unaware of the dastardly
>>  Necros and his vendetta against them! Gripping Stuff! I'll stop
>>  with the exclamation marks now as this is beginning to look
>>  like a marvel bullpen:-) Though we don't yet know what Necros
>>  has against our heros, nor what will happen to Ged now that he's
>>  in Necros's hands, we can bet that, with a name like that, it
>>  won't be good. However, the element of surprise is now well and
>>  truly lost. I hope that Necros had the good sense to execute
>>  parallel strikes, so that the next attack will occur before
>>  Arnold can sound the alarm. It depends on the manpower available
>>  to N. Also, it occurs to me that Ged is one of the most
>>  vulnerable of the adventurers (No stoneskin that day?).
>>  Here's my view of their weaknesses, in the hope that N. will
>>  come to similar conclusions:-

  Actually, he did...    :)

>>  Alindyar & Lyra:- L. is A's weakness:-) If N. can get the drop
>>  on L. then A. will probably do anything he says to prevent L's
>>  death.  However, these two are among the most powerful and well-
>>  defended of our hero's, assuming they are in their extra-
>>  dimensional lair.
>>  Rillen:- is quite powerful but his weakness is that he's a loner,
>>  and he has to sleep sometime. N. would be well advised to keep
>>  him under observation until he can be ambushed in his sleep,
>>  well away from help. Would you rule that having to make a saving
>>  throw verses spells (hold person and the like) wakes someone up?
>>  Belphanior:- is also well-defended, since he's always expecting
>>  attack from someone he's pissed off. However, he's not the most
>>  powerful adventurer (most versatile, perhaps). In other words,
>>  a Power Word Stun or such like will probably affect him, unlike
>>  say, Mongo or Rillen. With Otto's help, he'll probably take some
>>  beating. (Read: I'd be inclined to leave him alone and hope he
>>  doesn't come after me). Any traps are going to have to be quite
>>  subtle to get B.
>>  Mongo:- is just too tough. While it's quite possible to get the
>>  drop on him, as N. has already found out, it's just impossible
>>  to hit him hard enough to knock him out! N. would be well advised
>>  to attack again before Gorin heals up, all the same.
>>  Peldor:- has the best information network of them all, and good
>>  defences, but is perhaps the weakest of all the heros. I mean,
>>  he's just a thief! (NOT). N. will probably send a few powerful
>>  fighters against him, when the inn is closed and Peldor is
>>  relatively alone.
>>  Won't N. be surprised when P. hastes, turns invisible, etc! Bear
>>  in mind that Peldor has the same weakness as Alindyar - if N.
>>  can get a knife to an unconscious employees throat, P. will
>>  probably go along with N's commands.
>>  Hope this helps:-
>>  Looking forward to the next part:-)
>>  Hope you feel better soon, as well.
>>      Sean

  All in all, a good tactical survey.  I may use it in the future,
when the next bad guys attack.

>>  Keep up the good work!
>>  I think what you have going now plotwise has potential to be
>>  even greater reading that the alternate universe.
>>  .marc

>>  Good ... but have you painted yourself into a corner? How will
>>  the underlings get the big guys out, when the big guys themselves
>>  were no match? I suspect that the answer must be that the big
>>  guys were taken out in detail, rather than as a group ... but I
>>  still have a nasty feeling that since each of the varied forces
>>  was strong enough to defeat the individual adventurers, the
>>  combined might of the group of opponents would be enough to
>>  overcome the combined force of the "big guys". I have an _awful_
>>  feeling that Bosco's last wish is going to be used ...
>>  Vince

>>  Hi Thomas,
>>  Seasons greetings and all that..! This is just a quick thankyou
>>  for all your hard work in keeping us readers entertained for
>>  another year. ;-)
>>  I have enjoyed the stories immensely. Your writing style and
>>  characterisation just gets better and better!
>>  I like the current unfolding story. A "Mister Big" puppet master,
>>  controlling some very tough mages/assassins. Finding out who it
>>  is and why they have the Adventurers in their sights will be
>>  entertaining... Its nice to see that there are still other NPC's
>>  in the world who can challenge the might of the Adventurers. I
>>  like a big baddy who uses their brain, and having the PC's
>>  captured in one's and two's is the only logical way of doing it.
>>  Playing to their vulnerabilities is good to see too. Capturing
>>  Mongo by threatening an innocent was great. Locating and trapping
>>  Peldor with the threat to Tanya was inspired. It shows that Mr
>>  Big has had a long term plan in opperation, since Peldor cannot
>>  be scryed or found via magic he must have been spied upon
>>  mundainly to find out about his movements/lady love.
>>  Does this mean that most of the minor sidekicks will get their
>>  chance to shine by saving the day? I had thought that this was
>>  going to be the case, but I've just read about Arnold's capture.

  Arnold had previously graduated to full-fledged adventurer, and
besides, he was around when the party pissed off Orcus way back in
#119 - the other hench-types weren't.

>>  Hmmm... What chance would they stand when the main PC's fell so
>>  easily. Now the party has no major magic users either, and it
>>  will probably require serious magic to locate where the kidnaped
>>  have been taken to. Will they ask for some favours from the arch-
>>  mages of Greyhawk?
>>  I think a story about eight geriatric, egotistical, well meaning
>>  arch-mages going forth on a rescue mission might be very funny. ;-P
>>   I've loved their cameo apperances so far.
>>  My first theory on who Mr Big is, was that it might be a pissed
>>  off drow who is getting revenge for the Tarresque (sp?) wished
>>  into the underdark. Standard evil trappings aside, the meeting
>>  room for the nasty kidnapers was dark and shadowy. Unfortunately
>>  the leader had pale skin and was 6' tall. Hardly a normal drow-
>>  like apperance.
>>  A nearly skeletal hand and a deep ghastly voice makes me think
>>  of either a lich or a spell casting vampire,.. Yuck! This is
>>  reinforced by his name "Necros". A new enemy which I have never
>>  seen. Or maybe its just a normal (but powerful) human mage, who
>>  actually uses his brain.
>>  Future plots are going to be more difficult to plot with the
>>  Adventurers always overcoming their ever nastier foes. Will
>>  you start throwing them against the schemes of demi gods? Is
>>  Orcus showing his hand?
>>  How about a major Githianki invasion? I've always liked those
>>  nasty psionic/mage/warriors. A handful of red dragon mounts will
>>  add a degree of impossibility, so that the PC's will have to use
>>  subtlety rather than brute force (all too sadly frequent). The
>>  characters are tending to go their own ways nowdays (no bad
>>  thing) and this makes it easier to give them challenges.
>>  Will you ever kill any of them permanently?
>>  Ged and Peldor have settled down. Mongo has had thoughts about
>>  it. Belphanior is about to start building a keep. Will Alindyar
>>  create an extra dimentional fortress? He could give portal keys
>>  to those who would like to visit (or escape) from Greyhawk. I
>>  think that its time for Rillen to create a new martial arts
>>  school now that his old school has been destroyed. Perhaps he
>>  could secretly build it in the mountains near to where
>>  Belphaniors castle will be. Then he could get the beneficial
>>  effect of the anti-magic sphere too...
>>  Coming on to magic items, its nice to see some of the get
>>  destroyed now and then. It gets a bit OTT when the characters
>>  are carrying so much magic they look like christmas trees in a
>>  detect magic spell.
>>  Anyway its time for me to go. Thanks once again for your stories.
>>  Don't work too hard over christmas and new year. It supposed to
>>  be a time of rest and excessive alcohol consumption.
>>  Pete

>>  Hi Thomas,
>>  There is not a lot to add to the fan-mail you have already
>>  copied into some of your stories.  I just had to react to
>>  number 300 though: that one I also read in a commuter train
>>  home, and people started staring at the _huge_ grin on my
>>  face :-D  The mingling of all these old favorites, both
>>  from the party as well as from the city of Greyhawk, was
>>  one big happy spell of recognition..  Of course, should
>>  I ever end up near Atlanta, I'll try to bum a meal out
>>  of your friend Leonard (that him?).
>>  Hey, just something that occurred to me (even before Peldor
>>  started his stage-building plans for his Inn): there are
>>  not a lot of bards in your stories.  I would have suspected
>>  at least some at the big party for Lyra.  They can make cool
>>  NPC's..  Of course, it would force you to turn some of your
>>  one-liners into rhyming two-liners ;-)
>>  To conclude with my favorite nagging: your writing has become
>>  so good that you should really start on a novel in this
>>  'narrative prose' form of yours (or whatever you call it).
>>  Casper
>>  (who also enjoys it immensely to see the adventurers' asses
>>  getting kicked all over Greyhawk..)

  I'd love to make all of this stuff into a novel, but it won't
make me any money, because of the evil T$R.  However, you do have
a point:  if I used _my_ style but nothing of theirs (no AD&D,
no Oerth, no Greyhawk, etc.) I might have something.  Hmm.

  And now, I must publicly salute the first person who figured out
who was behind it all - this mail came to me way back when I had
just released #313.

>>  Hi Tom,
>>  Yes, it's not a typing error - story119. At first I thought
>>  that I've found a loose end. But with latest plot I'm not so
>>  sure... Anyway, just in case, here's a little reminder:
>>  TM> Meanwhile, at a place far away from Greyhawk (in
>>  TM> more ways than one) an odd court held session.
>>  TM> minor demon:  (dashes in)  Master!  (bows and kneels
>>  TM>  at the feet of a huge figure on a throne)  The-
>>  TM> grossly fat demon on throne:  I KNOW.  SOMEONE ON THE
>>  TM> various demons in the chamber:  (gasping in disbelief)
>>  TM> minor demonoids:  (cringing in fear)
>>  TM>  slams his throne in anger, cracking the arms)  I
>>  TM>  SWEAR IT!  (he reaches down and grabs a minor demon,
>>  TM>  popping it into his maw)  <crunch crunch>
>>  Gee, these old stories were great!
>>  Maciek

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