Chapter #353

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Alindyar         16th level dark elven wizard                (N) +
+  Lyra             13th level female dark elven wizard         (N) +
+  Peldor           19th level human thief                      (N) +
+    Bosco          11th level halfling thief                   (N) +
+    Tanya           5th/11th level female human fighter/thief  (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        1/17/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       the Green Dragon Inn, in Greyhawk                   +
+  Climate:     cold outside, warm inside                           +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "How much is "a lot?"                                            +
+  "More than a little and less than too much."                     +
+                                                 - from _Timecop_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                      CCCLIII.  The Favor





  After Belphanior's departure, things have pretty much returned to
normal for the other adventurers.  Ged and company have gone back
to his castle, while Mongo and Gorin are out seeing the sights of
Greyhawk.  This leaves the others to go about their normal business,
too...though "normal" often means different things for people like
Peldor and Alindyar...

Peldor:  (notices Alindyar frowning as he leaves his room)  Everything
  okay?
Alindyar:  (talking to himself, he walks right by)
Peldor:  (grabs the elf's arm, lightly)  You okay?
Alindyar:  Eh?  Oh, aye...I simply have a great deal of work to make
  up.
Peldor:  Oh.
Alindyar:  Lectures, research, and such.  Since I did not recover
  from the battle instantly...
Peldor:  Ah.  Gotcha.
Alindyar:  Though, to be sure, we could use more space.
Peldor:  Another suite?
Alindyar:  (frowns)  'Tis not what I meant.
Peldor:  Oh.  _Oh_...I see.
Alindyar:  Lyra and I cannot live forever in someone else's home.
  Even one as fine as yours.
Peldor:  I...see.
Alindyar:  Perhaps the time has come to purchase more permanent
  accommodations.  (he wanders away)  Now if you will excuse me,
  I must be somewhere.
Peldor:  Sure...(he ponders)  Hmm.

  Inspired, the thief went to his room, selected a fancy coat, and
went back downstairs.  There was a light crowd in the inn today,
perhaps a dozen diners, and half that number who were just having
drinks.  The casino section was empty, much to Bosco's dismay; the
halfling kept busy inventing new forms of solitaire when not using
cards to swindle someone out of their hard-earned money.

Tanya:  (mixing someone's drink, she looks up as Peldor walks by)
  Hmm, nice outfit.  Where're you off to in such a hurry?
Peldor:  (deftly alters his course to swing by the bar, where he
  gives her a quick kiss on the cheek)  Just going out to try and
  make the world a better place.  (he heads for the door)
Tanya:  Hah.  (she puts the finished drink in front of a customer)
  Here you go.  (she watches, half-interested, as Peldor leaves)
customer:  Thanks.

  Peldor left the inn and took a long walk around the city.  His
keen eyes noted the various homes and properties that were up for
sale; more difficult was the process of discarding the ones that
he didn't think the drow would like.  This process was a long and
arduous one, requiring a fine (if light) lunch around midday.  As
he ate, Peldor made notes on a small scroll, his mind recalling
the various houses and manors he had seen.  To be sure, this was
much like the casing of establishments prior to a robbery, except
that it was legal.
  At times, Peldor missed the old days, but never for long, thanks
to Tanya.  There was also the sight of ones such as Bosco, fine
younger thieves who were more than happy to carry on the tradition.
Whenever he looked back on the years of adventure, Peldor realized
that he had grown up - allowed himself to grow up - too quickly.
Still, it was too late to worry about such things now; he had the
inn, he had his job as River Quartermaster for the guild, and last
but not least, he had Tanya.  Being eighteen was fun, but being
older wasn't half-bad either.  He smiled to himself.
  After lunch, Peldor continued his wanderings, noting properties
he thought the drow might consider and scratching off those that
they probably wouldn't.  It wasn't always an easy call, but he knew
Alindyar and Lyra well enough to make good educated guesses.  By
midafternoon, he had completed his walk, and his surveillance.
  He headed for the city's administrative district, where the
various and sundry affairs of the great city were conducted.  In
particular, he sought the offices of the Commissioner of Land and
Property.
  Before long, he had talked his way into that very office, and was
trying to gain an audience with the commissioner himself.

guard:  I told you, he's on a late lunch break!
Peldor:  (shrugs)  Just tell him Peldor's here.  He'll understand.
guard:  I can't-
Peldor:  (hands the man a pouch of coins)  Sure you can.
guard:  (pulls one of the coins out)  Gold!
Peldor:  Now can I eat lunch with him?
guard:  (makes the pouch disappear)  Stay here.  I'll see what can
  be done.
Peldor:  (sits in the guard's chair and props his feet up on the
  guard's table)  I'll be right here.

  Not long afterward, Peldor was seated on a more comfortable chair
within the commissioner's office.

commissioner:  (a jovial, middle-aged fellow by the name of Simmons)
  Nice to see you again, old friend.  How's the Green Dragon?
Peldor:  Still good, Simmons.  Business is booming...money's coming
  in hand over fist.
Simmons:  Ah, glad to head that, glad to hear it.
Peldor:  (smiles)
Simmons:  So...what brings you here, to interrupt my late lunch?
Peldor:  Well, I-
Simmons:  You know, it's a good thing I wasn't locked in here with my
  secretary!
Peldor:  (spreads his hands)  Hey, I wouldn't tell.  Honest.
Simmons:  Sure.  (he smiles, and takes another bite out of a hefty
  sandwich)  So...?
Peldor:  I need to...arrange a property purchase for a friend.
Simmons:  Property, or property with a home on it?
Peldor:  Home.
Simmons:  River Quarter or High Quarter?
Peldor:  High.
Simmons:  (whistles)  That won't be easy.  Homes in the High Quarter
  are usually reserved for nobility or the very rich.
Peldor:  Oh, not to worry.  My friend _is_ very rich.
Simmons:  Ah.  Well, you know what they say...money talks.
Peldor:  Yep.  I'm just here because my friend...well, he's really
  busy at the moment, and doesn't know much about the city's laws
  and procedures for things like this.
Simmons:  I see.  (he takes another bite from his many-layered
  sandwich)  So what property did you have in mind?
Peldor:  Well, I found a number that were for sale or vacant.  (he
  produces his list)

  A half-hour (and many words) later, they had narrowed the choices
down to only a few, and then only one.  It was one of those that had
been sold to the city itself, which meant that the city officials
were responsible for selling it, which is why Peldor was here now.

Peldor:  This one looks good.
Simmons:  This one?
Peldor:  That's the one I think he'd like the most.
Simmons:  (frowning)  Hmm.
Peldor:  What's the matter?  Is it run-down?  Haunted?
Simmons:  A little run-down, but not too bad.  Old...spacious...
Peldor:  (nodding)  That's why I thought it'd fit the bill.
Simmons:  (looks up from his calculations)  It might be haunted.
Peldor:  (shrugs)  I'm not worried.  My friends have a way with
  such problems.
Simmons:  (pauses in his writing)  Friends?  Earlier you said
  "friend"...
Peldor:  It's a couple.
Simmons:  Ah!  (he completes his scribbled notations and hold up a
  piece of paper with a numerical figure on it)
Peldor:  Hmm.
Simmons:  That's a friend price - the best I can do.
Peldor:  Very well.  I'll need to check with him - them - first.
  You'll keep this deal for me, for a day or two?
Simmons:  (nods)  Until I hear from you again, I'll consider it
  already sold.
Peldor:  All righty, then.  (he produces a large pouch and hands
  it to the other man)
Simmons:  My thanks.  (he takes the money, stashing it in his desk)
Peldor:  (shakes hands with Simmons)  Good doing business with you.
  I'll be in touch.
Simmons:  Be seeing you, then.
Peldor:  (departs)
Simmons:  (looking for the other half of his sandwich)  Hey!



  Shortly after dusk, Alindyar was inscribing a scroll in his room.
Lyra was downstairs, eating; Alindyar hadn't been very hungry lately,
such was the pressure of his work, both for the College and for his
own benefit.  A knock came at the heavy door.

Alindyar:  (without looking up)  Come.
Peldor:  (enters, shutting the door behind him)
Alindyar:  Greetings.
Peldor:  Hi there.  Got a moment?
Alindyar:  Surely.  (he lets go of his quill, which remains floating
  in the air)  What can I do for you?
Peldor:  Remember when we talked this morning, and you said you needed
  a real home?
Alindyar:  Aye...I do.
Peldor:  (hands the drow a piece of parchment)
Alindyar:  (eyes the number written on the paper)  What is this?
Peldor:  What if I told you that I found you a nice, old house in
  Greyhawk's finest section, for that price?
Alindyar:  (his eyes widen in surprise)  You did this today?!?
Peldor:  (shrugs, smiling)  Let's just say I was looking into it.
Alindyar:  Aie.
Peldor:  What, is the price too high?  Need a loan, maybe?
Alindyar:  No, no.  I can afford this...but I would have to see the
  dwelling.  As would Lyra.
Peldor:  Why don't you make it a surprise?
Alindyar:  (his eyes glint)  Ah!  An excellent idea, my friend.  (he
  begins casting a spell)
Peldor:  Err...what are you doing?
Alindyar:  (suddenly floating in the room, he begins another spell)
  Fear not.
Peldor:  Well, I really need to get back down-  (he begins floating)
  Huh?
Alindyar:  Spells of flight...we must go have a look at this home
  you have identified!
Peldor:  Now?!?  I mean, right now?
Alindyar:  Aye, why not?  (he gestures, and the window opens)  Come.
  (the elf sails out the window)
Peldor:  (muttering)  Now...?  It's dark already...(he follows the
  drow)

  Both of them airborne, Peldor led Alindyar to the property in
question.  Normally, such homes were closed to the general public
outside of daytime hours (and sometimes appointments as well.)
However, the general public didn't have spells to enable them to
see clearly at night, or to evade locks and bolts.  Not long after
arriving above the house, Peldor and Alindyar were walking around
inside it.
  The term "house" was a vast understatement, for the place was a
mansion.  Roomy, with high ceilings and wooden floors, it had been
built more than a century ago, back in the peaceful days of the
city's childhood.

Alindyar:  The house is almost as old as I am...good.

  All in all, the mansion had six spacious bedrooms, plus various
other chambers:  a sprawling kitchen, a dining room, a huge study,
a sunken den complete with a bar...and more.  The place had two
floors, plus an attic and a cellar, and most of its rooms already
had furniture.

Peldor:  Old furniture, though...probably left by the previous
  residents.
Alindyar:  Nothing that a simple spell of mending cannot fix...
Peldor:  You like it, then?
Alindyar:  Like it?  It is _perfect_!
Peldor:  Oh.
Alindyar:  Just the thing for Lyra and I...I say again, perfect.
Peldor:  Hey, glad to hear it.
Alindyar:  When can the transaction be done and closed?
Peldor:  Er, I'll set up the meeting and paperwork tomorrow.  You'll
  need to have the money ready.
Alindyar:  (walking around, he eyes the mansions's high ceilings)
  Of course, of course.  (he pauses, eyeing the price again)  A...
  profitable transaction, at least on my part.  How did you manage
  this price?
Peldor:  (shrugs, smiling)  I just did.
Alindyar:  Amazing.  I - we - certainly thank you, and will repay
  this favor.
Peldor:  No need.  If you like, consider it an advance wedding gift.
Alindyar:  (raises an eyebrow)
Peldor:  Besides, if you can't help out your friends, what's the
  point?  It's not like I'm going to live forever!
Alindyar:  (looking around the house again, awestruck)  To be sure,
  Lyra will be surprised...





next:      the affairs of Ged
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
           http://www3.hmc.edu/~kshobaki/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu  (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu    (emergency)
notes:  If you think about it, most of the Adventurers are probably
  the equivalent of millionaires.

  Fanmail for episode #344:



Yes, it was time for Belphanior to suffer conflict against the
relics HE Possesses (or, perhaps, the relics that possess him!)

This looks like another fine plotline.  Keep it up!

BTW: have you reviewed your earlier work?  While it was good
reading, you really do get a sense of your writing maturing over
time.  Quite interesting, really.

Richard





Whoa!! Completely unexpected but a wonderful twist. I always
thought BlackRazor would be the thing that pushed him over the
edge. Nice link to Orcus as well.  I enjoyed these more than any
I have read in some time.

Rob





Hmm....

  Redemption might work if Belphanior is put into a situtation
where he has to face what he has become and realizes he dispises
himself.  Perhaps a vacation to the 666 plane of the Abyss or a
similarly hospitable location where he is surrounded by others who
live by the same rules (might makes right) or a situation where he
uses his "powers" for good only to be vilified because he really
is no different than the bad guys were .... only more powerful.

  Its tough, I think many of your readers like Belphanior because
he is a rogue that simply won't put up with any nonsense from
anybody.  But.. where is does he draw the line ?   If Blackrazor
goes there is always Torn's sword.

---
Wayne





Hmm, nice story.  Why did Victoria kill Candice?

I was wondering how long till pressure caused
you to deal with Belphanior's eye.

I eagerly await the next story, as always...
Thanks for writing them.

Victor





Woo woo!

One has to wonder:
  - will Otto really care? The fact that you say they will be
    fighting each other next episode, obviously means he will...
    (or Belphanior won't give him an option) Though I don't know
    how the little fellow's going to manage... he'll be a bit
    outmatched.
  - Victoria was a bit _too_ convenient.. When I first saw her,
    I thought perhaps she was some sort of 'demonic-type'
    influence (for lack of a better term) sent to work at drawing
    Belphanior over the line into someone elses camp (ie: perhaps
    Ol' Orcus or the like) She fit Belphanior's 'perfect' type
    far too well... Does make one think though, neh?
  - did Belphanior really kill Candice? (I'm guessing it was
    Victoria, setting the stage (as part of the 'shes not what
    she looks like' scenario above))
  - are Blackrazor and the Eye teaming up? Or operating
    seperately...Perhaps one is using the other... so many
    possibilities.

Ah... a grand start to a long awaited saga. Hopefully it won't
resolve itself too quickly.

Aaron

TM>  Note that nowhere did I say it was Victoria who killed
TM>  Candice.  You guys are reaching...





Well, I certainly hope that Belphanior gains mastery over the
eye.  I have a feeling that an evil party member wouldn't go
over too well with Ged.
  Also, I have this thing about evil characters...  Pretty good
story.
I remain

Yours,
Robert





awesome!

you did great.  you built the momentum up well and i wasn't
expecting him to go over the edge on the citizens first, i was
expecting it against the mercenaries or victoria but the citizens
makes more sense and adds more to the horror of his dilemma.

truly, this is going to be much fun.

thanks.

have fun,

matt





Loved this episode BTW.  I kinda wondered when Belphanior was
going to  lose it completely.  Go Vecna, go Vecna, go, go, go
Vecna! :)

Scott





I've just finished episode 344. Wonderful! Especially the cameo
apperance of Orcus and co.

Peter





Thomas,

Good work as always!  Keep it up.  But I do have a comment or two.

I am pleased to see that Belphanior is finally teetering on the
edge of damnation that he has danced upon for so long, it makes
for great reading.
The only problem I have is that the strongest source of his
corruption turned out to be the Eye and not Blackrazor.  Sure,
the eye comes straight out of a greater demon's skull, but Black-
razor seems to be by far the more sinister of the two items.
Blackrazor also seemed to be the more intelligent of the two
items.

I think I have always had a problem with Blackrazor, because what
it does has always seemed so damnably evil to me.  To kill someone
is one thing, but to kill them and then devour their eternal soul
is the blackest, foulest, most hideously evil thing imaginable
(whoa, adjective overload).  I had a hard time believing that a
neutally alligned person would even consider using such a weapon.
But then again, perhaps that is part of the reason Belphanior was
drifting (now he's sailing under full mast) toward evil.

I can't wait to see how this one turns out, no matter how you
slice it (no pun intended).

Thanks,

Kurt





> notes:  Remember that picture in the 1st edition DMG, where the
>   wizard is riding through a town, firing magic missiles at random
>   people?  It was called "Emrikal the chaotic" or something like
>   that.

 *laugh* When I read the bit where he hit the guy in the window
with the magic missiles, this was the very first thing I thought
of. Was delighted to see the similarity was not entirely a
cooincidence (or at least that you saw it too).


ps - If I were Otto, I'd go and filch all of Belphaniors spell
books and magic items from the castle now, before Belphanior gets
a chance to fetch them....  Make things alot easier later on. =)

pps - a barbed knife in the eye?! All I can say is: OUCH!

Aaron





That would be Emirikol, if memory serves. Probably my favourite
1st Ed pic.

Glen

PS Great story!





Yes, I remember that one, one of my favorites. Has the real AD&D
"feel".

I'm enjoying this Belphanior story - good stuff.
I think the party is overdue for a trip to the abyss.,

Adrian
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