Chapter #342

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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:        12/15/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                        +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       the mountain town of Helgate                        +
+  Climate:     very cold                                           +
+  "Let's get something straight, buster:  I'm not here to say      +
+   'please', I'm here to tell you what to do."                     +
+                              - Winston Wolf, from _Pulp Fiction_  +

                   CCCXLII.  New Allies, Old Debts

  After yet another battle - but one that has eliminated all of the
red-armbanded bandits - everyone has gathered in the Scoundrel's Den,
the site of the recent battle.  Bodies, blood, broken glass, smashed
tables, and other wreckage were everywhere.  The tavern's owner, a
shifty rat of a fellow named Felix, had gone home in despair at the
wreckage of his bar; judging from the bottles taken with him, he
intended to drink himself into oblivion.
  Since all the other patrons had long since fled, Belphanior's
group had the place to themselves.  Besides Belphanior and Otto, the
current company included the swordswoman Victoria, the guard-captain
Herbert, and two men Otto brought to Helgate.  The first of these
was a tall, lean fellow who wielded a trident in battle.  Belphanior
now noted with interest that the man had a black eyepatch covering
one eye, or perhaps what was left of it.  The other new arrival was
a black-haired, moustached, scarred man, a rather ugly fellow whose
powerful body bore numerous tattoos.  This was the warrior who
specialized in throwing knives and had seemed familiar to Belphanior
before, and the red-cloaked elf suddenly made the connection: he had
been hired by the late Dagron Larthos, more than a year ago, to try
to kill Belphanior!

Belphanior:  (squinting at the man angrily, his eye beginning to emit
  a hellish crimson glow)  Last time I saw _you_  was when I threw you
  out of a window.
knife-thrower:  (stares back impassively, to his credit not flinching
  one bit)
Belphanior:  (turns sharply to Otto)  Explain.
Otto:  I found him in a small town to the north.  Yeah, I know he was
  fighting against us once, but that's what mercenaries do.
Belphanior:  I fail to be impressed.  (he puts his hand on his sword's
  hilt)  No one tries to kill me and lives to tell about it.
Blackrazor:  (pulses imperceptibly)
Otto:  So what?  He's got talent, and we could use him here.  If _we_
  hire him, he fights for us...

  Belphanior stopped listening to the dwarf right about then, because
his magical eye - the demon-spawned relic with mighty powers - seemed
to speak to him then.  A low but powerful voice, one that only the elf
could hear, urged him to draw his sword and begin killing.  The voice
and the eye were strong enough to give Belphanior a sudden, splitting
headache, but yet he resisted their commands.  It might have been his
willpower, which was considerable, or it might have been the separate
and conflicting pulse that was coming from Blackrazor, or perhaps even
an inadvertent combination of both.  Whatever the case, Belphanior
shut his eyes tightly and willed the voices to be silent, and when he
once again stared at those in the room, he was in complete control of

Otto:  (looking strangely at Belphanior)
Victoria:  (likewise, she frowns)
Belphanior:  (clears his throat, and turns to Otto)  We'll discuss
  this later.  (to the man with the trident)  You fought rather well.
  Interesting weapon you have - I always thought tridents were only
  good for catching fish.
trident-bearer:  (shrugs)  It took a long time and a lot of fights to
  become a master.  The weapon does have its advantages.
Belphanior:  What's your name, fellow?
trident-bearer:  I am Kyros.
Belphanior:  You've got a job in Helgate, if you want it.
Kyros:  (nods)  That's why I'm here.
Otto:  (staring at Victoria)
Victoria:  (notices, even though her back is to the dwarf, and turns
Otto:  (wondering why the woman looks familiar)  Huh.
Belphanior:  Oh...Otto, this is Victoria.
Otto:  Looks like you're one hell of a scrapper, lady.  (he executes
  a mock bow)
Victoria:  Charmed, I'm sure.
Belphanior:  (looking over the others)  Herbert there is the captain
  of the town guard.  Herbert, Victoria, Otto, Kyros...(he looks at
  the knife-thrower again)  Have you got a name?
knife-thrower:  (sneers)  Call me Charlie.  Razor Charlie.
Belphanior:  We'll see.  (to Otto)  Let's talk.
Otto:  Right.
Belphanior:  Outside.  (to the others)  We'll be back in a moment.

  Shortly, outside the tavern and around a corner...

Belphanior:  Why the hell did you bring back someone who we fought
  against in the past?  No, for that matter, why didn't you _kill_
Otto:  Calm down.
Belphanior:  (gritting his teeth)  I am calm.  (he frowns)  If I
  wasn't, I'd have killed the man myself already.
Otto:  Look, mercenaries fight for whoever pays them.  It's not his
  fault that he happened to be in Dagron's employ when we showed up.
  Besides, rather than stay and fight, he fled.
Belphanior:  That's because he took a plunge out of a third-floor
Otto:  And he's still around!  That means he's tough.  And we already
  know he can throw knives like a son-of-a-bitch.  Hell, he helped
  you in that fight just a while ago...
Belphanior:  (considers this)  Hmm.
Otto:  I'm telling you, I looked around for the best, meanest, most
  efficient killers I could find.  Those two were the only ones who
  made the grade.
Belphanior:  Just two?
Otto:  Let's give them a chance.  Both of them.
Belphanior:  (frowns again)  Well...
Otto:  We _need_ them.  There'll be more bandits on the way.  Maybe
  they won't wear stupid red armbands, but they'll still come.
Belphanior:  Okay.  We'll see how he does.
Otto:  (exasperated, or as close to it as he gets)  Thanks.
Belphanior:  Something else:  why were you staring at Victoria like
Otto:  Her?  She...looks familiar, somehow.
Belphanior:  Oh, you know her, then?
Otto:  (scratching his head)  Don't know where, though.  I just get
  this damn weird feeling I've seen her before somewhere.
Belphanior:  Well, be sure to enlighten me, if you happen to remember.
  In the meantime, know that I've taken quite an interest in her.
Otto:  Can't say I blame you.
Belphanior:  (smiles at last)  Tell me about it.  She's beautiful,
  in a certain sinister way.  She can fight like a gladiator, and
  has absolutely no hesitation in killing.
Otto:  Exotic-looking, too.
Belphanior:  Yet she's _cultured_.  I talked with her for hours last
  night.  She talks like she was raised in some royal palace.  Her
  accent, which I can't place, makes me wonder just where she comes
  from.  And she knows all kinds of things...well-educated.  Hmm, you
  know, I don't really know that much about her.
Otto:  Maybe you should endeavor to find out more.  C'mon, let's go
  talk to the new guys.
Belphanior:  Why?
Otto:  They'll need to see the town, the castle even.  One's got to
  learn the territory.
Belphanior:  True.


Belphanior:  Okay, you two.  The rules are simple.  We've got laws,
  and we enforce them.  If people get too violent, like, say, pulling
  a weapon, then stop them if you can, or kill them if you can't.
Kyros:  (nods)
Razor Charlie:  Got it.
Belphanior:  I'm the mayor, and Otto's the town marshal.  You're not
  subject to anyone's orders except us, and Herbert.
Herbert:  Uh...
Belphanior:  What?
Herbert:  They'll need to work with my men, too.
Belphanior:  To an extent.  But when scum like these bandits rides
  into town, the conventional rules go out the door.
Otto:  Sometimes drastic measures are called for.
Razor Charlie:  (twirls a small knife between his fingers, and grins
  a crooked grin)
Belphanior:  More rules, or guidelines if you prefer.  Except for when
  you're enforcing the law, you obey it.  No picking fights.
Herbert:  (sarcastically)  Do these look like the kind of guys who'd
  pick fights?
Otto:  No.  They look like the kind who'd win them.
Razor Charlie:  You got that right.
Belphanior:  No random killing.  No protection scams - the salary I
  pay you will be more than enough.
Kyros:  So I've heard.
Belphanior:  Hear this, then.  (he pulls two hefty diamonds from a
  belt pouch and tosses one to each man)  Your first month's salary.
Herbert:  (looks angry)
Kyros:  Thanks...boss.
Razor Charlie:  (fingering his gemstone, he nods at Belphanior)
Belphanior:  No looting.  No stealing.  No rapes.
Kyros:  No problem.
Victoria:  (looking mildly amused)
Razor Charlie:  What about lodging?
Belphanior:  For now, you'll stay in town.  I'd recommend the Raven's
  Nest Inn.
Kyros:  Fine.
Otto:  (rubbing his beard)  I'll draw up a list of other things you
  should know...local informants, people who behave, people who don't,
  that sort of thing.
Belphanior:  Come, I'll show you my own home now.  (to Victoria)  Care
  for a tour of the castle?
Victoria:  That dark, towering one that looms over the town?
Belphanior:  Yup.
Victoria:  I'd love to.  That place seems...interesting.
Otto:  Well, what are we waiting for?  (he heads for the door, and
  the two mercenaries follow)
Belphanior:  (to Victoria)  Go ahead - I'll catch up in a moment.  (he
  puts a hand on Herbert's shoulder)
Victoria:  (nods, and follows Otto and the other two)
Herbert:  What is it?
Belphanior:  I just want you to understand:  sometimes law and order
  isn't enough, and more drastic methods are called for.
Herbert:  But those two are mercenaries - killers!
Belphanior:  Indeed.  The perfect men for the job.
Herbert:  I can't maintain a well-disciplined town guard with men like
  Kyros and Razor Charlie running around.
Belphanior:  Don't worry, they won't be running anywhere except where
  I tell them to.
Herbert:  And their wages...(he thinks of the diamonds that the elf
  gave them, and grimaces)
Belphanior:  Don't worry.  (he hands a third diamond to the captain)
  Whatever else I may be, I'm fair.
Herbert:  (pockets the gemstone, mollified)  Very well.  I'll inform
  my men, and we'll...try to work with the mercenaries.
Belphanior:  You do that.
Herbert:  Err...since I've seen the castle already, I'm going to get
  back home.
Belphanior:  Good night to you, then.  (he leaves to find Otto and
  the others)

next:   it begins
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:  (preferred)    (emergency)
notes:  Please note my new email address.  Belphanior-lovers, don't
  miss the next episode!  Hmm...Belphanior-haters, don't miss the
  next episode either!

  More fanmail; this collection spans episodes #334 (Alindyar's
fury unleashed) through #337 (Ged, Mongo, Arnold, Nenya, etc.)

>>  Story 334 was a good description of someone blowing off steam!
>>  It also goes to show just how powerful Alindyar has become. My
>>  D&D group has level 7 to 8 players, and an orc horde of this
>>  size would be beyond the ability of all seven of us to overcome
>>  in direct combat.


>>  The return of Alindyar was handled well, and I'm glad you've
>>  left the "healing process" for the two of them to begin in
>>  private.

another ??? - what did I do with the names?!?    :)

>>   Hmmmm...interesting.  A very 'different' sort of episode.
>>  It should get real interesting when Alindyar eventually
>>  finds out that Orcus and his motley crew are behind all this.
>>  There's a Klingon proverb that says revenge is a dish that's
>>  best served cold.  When the next Orcus round comes up, it
>>  should be interesting to see the change in Alindyar again.
>>  Well done.  Looking forward to the next one.
>>  Regards,
>>  Tom

  Man, a lot of people want to see Orcus pay...

>>  Hi,
>>  I'm impressed. One of the best episodes ever...
>>  It made me want to download all the stories and read
>>  everyone of them again......

>>  I was going to write something about that, but I couldn't
>>  really point out what made it better than the rest. I mean,
>>  it was basically a mage who used his spells on some orcs to
>>  save a village, but somehow it seemed more intense, better
>>  written than the rest of the stories. It might be that I
>>  was in a good mood today, or that my lousy long-term memory
>>  has forgotten that there really were better stories earlier
>>  on.
>>  Stig E.

>>  Anyway, back to the compliments. Its nice to see the
>>  adventurers gradually returning back to a "normal" life. I
>>  bet it has shaken a lot of them up, realising how
>>  _vulnerable_ they all are. They should be thinking about
>>  how close they were to kicking the bucket.
>>  I have a question. Is Org actually Wendel in yet another
>>  disguise? That episode where Peldor talks with his guild-
>>  master is oozing with "Its Me" subliminal messages.
>>  Pete

  Let me clear it up now:  Org is _not_ Wendell.  In fact, the
subliminal messages (and you do have a point - I went back and
re-read the story) weren't intentional.

>>  I liked it.  Nice idea of what an upset mage can do when
>>  he's pushed.  But I'd still like to see Orcus pay.  Nothing
>>  would look better than Alindyar, Orcus-killer.  Bosco'd
>>  like that:-)  I remain
>>  Yours,
>>  Robert

>>  Whoah cool... Alindyar is being given respect he deserves!
>>  Will he take it?  Money's not an issue with him, the alchemy
>>  lab might be useful, access to the library I thought he
>>  already has... hrm.  Maybe he won't take it after all.  I
>>  don't think Alindyar cares too much about title..
>>  nice little ending to the Alindyar/Lyra storyline.  I'd sure
>>  like to see them doing funky new magical things sometime.
>>  Like an illusion affecting all 5 senses...or does such a
>>  thing already exist? Anyway I just wanna see my favorite
>>  pair of mages reach new heights
>>  Gabe

>>   Alindyar, a professor? Hmmm...
>>  Naturally, of course, there's going to be a catch to all this...?
>>  :)  (hmmm...a trap for Alindyar?  Once more, trying to pick off
>>  the party, one heavy-hitter at a time?)
>>  Should prove interesting.
>>  Till next time,
>>  Tom

>>  Episode 336: College of Magic, eh? Perfectly suited for
>>  Alindyar, I think.  You always portrayed him as a scholarly-
>>  type..hope we see one or two episodes where he teaches young
>>  apprentices to the wonders of the world.
>>  VP

>>  Woo-Hoo!  My favorite mage on a rampage.  I'm really glad
>>  to see an Alindyar/Lyra story moving them into the grown up
>>  part of the party: setteling down, learning responsibility,
>>  that sort of thing.  Keep up the good work.  BTW I still
>>  think the drow (Alindyar's home city) should tunnel under
>>  Greyhawk and unleash hordes of demons.  Screw history,
>>  level the city before the wars.
>>       Salutations from Mt. Kolvir,
>>       Dave, Marie and Morgan

  Whoa, talk about your radical ideas!

>>  What?!  Actually trying to wrap up plot threads!  I don't
>>  believe it!  It must be Mardi Gras catching up with you.
>>  But seriously, I did like the stories, especially Mongo
>>  apologizing and Nenya and Deryck getting engaged.  Was it
>>  just me or is Ged a little jelous?
>>  I can't wait for 338!  Rillen is back, and with the perfect
>>  woman for him.  Looking forward to it!
>>  Marcus

>>  First... WHAT THE HELL??? After great battle you've just
>>  moved to Hellgate as if nothing happened! At first I
>>  really thought that I've missed story or two. I really
>>  hope that you'll update us, faithfull readers, about
>>  events that happened just after #325. Belphanior lost his
>>  trumpet, that's what I know, but what about the others?
>>  Grrr, I'm stil upset ;(
>>  Another thing:
>>  1) Belphanior picked something from Necros' body.
>>  2) Orcus said 'We have another one [priest?]'.
>>  3) You said that good-evil decision for Bel is going to
>>     happen soon.
>>  Am I on the right track again? Or maybe I'm just a little
>>  paranoid?
>>  Bye,
>>  Maciek

  By now, you probably know the answer to those questions...  :)

>>  First, let me tell you I have been reading and enjoying your
>>  stories, from the first to the latest.  Thank you very much.
>>  I could go on and tell you just how brilliant you are, but I
>>  see from your fan mail that others have done that better than
>>  I am capable of -- my abilities with the English language
>>  extend only so far.
>>  I have been meaning to write for quite a while, but what
>>  prompted me (other than having to kill a few minutes) was
>>  Peyote.  He is now a 12th level druid:  a druid of the
>>  inner circle, or a servant of the grand druid.  I am curious
>>  Which is it, and where?  (Not that I am too familiar with
>>  Greyhawk, but it would be nice to have an idea.)
>>  Also, how did Peyote advance?  The druid's challenge is
>>  usually not an option for other than single class druids.
>>  Did he just come across a vacancy, or did he strike some
>>  deal with someone higher in the hierarchy?  I cannot imagine
>>  Peyote offing some rival druid without a formally correct
>>  challenge, which he couldn't make, being multi class . . .
>>  there is some machination behind, or he just got lucky and
>>  was the only candidate.

  Whatever happened, I'm sure he earned the title...

>>  If there is a story in the making behind this, I am content
>>  waiting for it.  If not, have you at all given it thought?
>>  We know pretty well the other characters' positions in their
>>  respective hierarchies and societies.  Of course, the "ex-
>>  adventurers" are not top priority, but I hope you will make
>>  an exception for Peyote's inner circle.  Someone challenging
>>  Peyote for his position, or Peyote challenging someone for
>>  a higher position could also be a place to start a story.
>>  After seeing Rillen in so many duels in the turnaments,
>>  seeing some other character in a similar situation could be
>>  interesting.  I imagine Rillen as one of the spectators,
>>  just for once . . .
>>  Again, thanks for the stories.
>>  Eirik

  Good point - and believe it or not, reading your mail made me
want to do a Peyote story detailing his rise to power.

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