Chapter #358

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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) +
+  Peldor           19th level human thief                      (N) +
+    Bosco          11th level halfling thief                   (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        1/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       the Green Dragon Inn, in Greyhawk                   +
+  Climate:     cold outside, warm inside                           +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Calm down - I'm sure there's a rational explanation for this."  +
+  "Don't be so sure."                                              +
+                                                        - unknown  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    CCCLVIII.  A Small Problem





  Peldor whistled to himself as he climbed the stairs and headed
toward his bedroom.  Unlocking the door with a small but complicated
key, he entered the room, scanning it quickly to make sure Tanya
wasn't there.  She was supposed to be in the Market Quarter talking
to carpenters about some new tables, but one never knew...
  From a closet, the thief pulled out a heavy trunk.  The thing was
unlocked, and he opened it to reveal a jumbled mess of old clothes.
Removing these by the armful, Peldor dug his way toward the bottom
of the chest, where the item he had stashed rested.  He had spent
a good while searching for a place where Tanya wouldn't possibly
find that item.  Since it was small and nonmagical, the only real
requirement had been to store it somewhere she'd never think to look,
and the chest had turned out to be the place.
  Peldor smiled as he thought of the ring again.  Many, though not
all, cultures in the world used rings as tokens of engagement and
marriage.  It was almost a formality, in truth, given the nature of
his and Tanya's relationship.  A strange game, but sometimes you had
to play, he thought to himself.
  The ring had been hand-crafted in great secrecy, and at no small
cost.  A simple band of alloyed adamantite and gold, the ring was
topped with a rare and beautiful gemstone.  Though small in size,
the diamond was hued with red, matching Tanya's hair rather well.
In theory, anyway.  Peldor had hunted high and low for a sufficiently
unusual gemstone, and then there had been the matter of having it
fused to the band.  The mere forging of the band had taken months,
and Peldor had found it necessary to call in several favors.
  Now, however, all was in readiness.  He had picked up the ring and
hidden it, and secured reservations for dinner at the Golden Phoenix.
He got the distinct feeling that Tanya would be surprised tonight.
Setting aside the last of the clothes, Peldor reached down to get the
ring.
  There was only one problem:  it was gone.  Frowning, he checked all
around the corner of the chest, to no avail.  The ring wasn't there.
Thoughts began to run through his head:  had Tanya found it?  No, not
a chance.  Maybe someone had turned the chest over, somehow?  Peldor
spent a good half-hour picking through the old clothes, putting each
article in a pile after verifying that the ring wasn't caught in it.
Still no luck - the clothes were empty, and the chest was empty.
  The chest!  Searching the empty container, inside and out, he found
a curious thing.  In one corner of the chest was a small hole, about
four inches wide.  He quickly located a corresponding hole in the back
of the closet, where the chest had rested.  Aha - it seemed that some
animal had eaten through both wall and chest, and found the ring...and
taken it.
  Peldor frowned as he examined the two holes more closely; the one in
the back of the chest was fresh, but the one in the wall was old.  So,
something had found something else's burrow and taken the liberty of
expanding upon it...and now possessed a priceless ring...a ring that
Peldor had to have back before Tanya returned, at dusk.
  The thief worked quickly, replacing all the clothes and putting the
chest back in its proper place.  He left his room, intending to go to
Alindyar's new house and enlist his help.  Funny, he thought as he
raced down the stairs.  He had automatically chosen the drow as the
one to help him, as opposed to, say, Ged.  As it turned out, there
would be no need to go find Alindyar, for the mage was reading some
ancient tome as he ate a late breakfast.

Peldor:  (dashes over to the table)
Alindyar:  (looks up)  Eh?
Peldor:  I need help, and fast!

  In a hushed voice, Peldor quickly and efficiently summarized the
situation.  He needed to find the ring within the next hours, and no
one could know he was looking for it.

Alindyar:  What can I do?
Peldor:  I was hoping you would use your magic to find the ring...
  after that, we can work on getting it back.
Alindyar:  Scrying an item that I have never before seen?  That is
  more like an endeavor for Ged.
Peldor:  Huh?
Alindyar:  I cannot merely scry for an item, as you describe.
Peldor:  (grimacing)  Crap.
Alindyar:  We could find Ged rather easily, you know.
Peldor:  No.  I mean, I don't want word of this to spread.  Besides,
  I heard a rumor that he and Mongo and a few others left town, to
  go on some great quest.
Alindyar:  Without us?  Hmm.  I wonder where their venture leads?
Peldor:  I'm sure we'll find out eventually.  But to the problem at
  hand...
Alindyar:  Ah, yes.  (he frowns, then smiles, holding one finger up
  in the air)  I have it!
Bosco:  (appears from behind the bar, a frothing mug clutched in one
  hand)  Have what?
Peldor:  Nothing, Bosco.
Bosco:  (looks suspicious)  Nothing?  You look kinda upset...
Peldor:  I am, Bosco.
Alindyar:  (ignoring the halfling, he speaks to Peldor)  A spell to
  shrink us...then we can go into the hole and find the ring.
Peldor:  (his eyes brighten)  Yes!  That'll work!
Bosco:  What'll work?  (he waddles up to the table)  I wanna help.
Peldor:  You?
Bosco:  Hey, whatever's going on, I can handle it.
Peldor:  You really think so?
Bosco:  Sure I do.
Peldor:  Okay, you're in.
Alindyar:  I shall find Lyra-
Peldor:  No, I'd prefer to keep this as secret as possible.
Bosco:  Any secret's safe with Bosco!
Alindyar:  I somehow doubt that.  (to Peldor)  I shall comply with
  your wishes, then.
Peldor:  Thanks.
Alindyar:  (wiping his mouth, he pushes the remains of his breakfast
  away)  I must prepare.  I will meet you at your room in a short
  while.
Peldor:  Sounds good.
Alindyar:  (teleports away suddenly)
Bosco:  Whoa!
Peldor:  Bosco...get your sword, and your other weapons, and meet me
  in my room as quickly as you can.
Bosco:  Weapons?  Why?
Peldor:  Just in case...
Bosco:  Okay.  (he dashes away)

  A short time later, the trio had reconvened in Peldor's room.  The
thief moved the chest aside, revealing the tiny hole in the back of
the closet, at the juncture of wall and floor.

Alindyar:  Ah, I see.
Bosco:  (looking at the hole)  I don't.  What's going on?

  While Alindyar prepared his spell, Peldor gave Bosco a brief dump
of the problem.

Bosco:  Ring?
Peldor:  Yep.  And we have only hours to find it, and get it.
Bosco:  Wow.  (he regards the hole again, fascinated)
Alindyar:  (spellcasting)  The time draws near...
Peldor:  All right.  (he does a final weapon-and-item check, as does
  Bosco)  Ready?
Bosco:  Ready!

  With a brief flash and a low popping sound, the three adventurers
vanished from sight, suddenly reduced to a fraction of their true
size.  The effect was nothing short of astonishing for the three
people involved.  It was as if they had been transported to an alien
landscape of gigantic proportions.  A good distance away, a gaping
cave loomed, within a huge wooden cliff that went up farther than
they could see.

Bosco:  (looking around, awestruck)  Wow!
Peldor:  Holy...
Alindyar:  Bizarre, no?
Peldor:  That doesn't even begin to describe it.
Alindyar:  (staring at the titanic surroundings)  The might of Mongo
  would have been well-received on this journey...
Peldor:  Tell me about it.  (he points at the dark "cave" in the
  distance)  We'd better get going - every moment counts.
Alindyar:  Aye.  (they all begin walking)
Bosco:  (babbling to himself)  Bosco...miniature explorer!





next:   the mighty mites
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:  Thanks to Peter Nash for the original idea for this story.
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