Chapter #381

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                                +   +
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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:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Belphanior    (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief     (CN) +
+    Otto          8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief         (CN) +
+  Mongo          18th level dwarven fighter                   (CG) +
+  Peldor         20th level human thief                        (N) +
+    Bosco        11th level halfling thief                    (CN) +
+    Tanya         5th/11th level female human fighter/thief    (N) +
+  Date:        4/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       the Free City of Greyhawk                           +
+  Climate:     moderate                                            +
+  "Good morning, Mr. Phelps.  Your mission, should you choose      +
+   to accept it..."                                                +
+              - introduction to the _Mission:  Impossible_ series  +

                   CCCLXXXI.  Deadly Mission

  Mere days after Nenya and Deryck's wedding, things had almost
returned to normal for Peldor...and then he received a strange
summons from his superior, Org Nenshen.  Such a summons, of course,
could not be ignored.

Peldor:  -got it just this morning.
Tanya:  (watching as Peldor buckles on his sword)  What does he
Peldor:  I don't know, but it was marked as urgent.  I guess
  I'll find out shortly.
Tanya:  I hope it's nothing serious.  That's the last thing we
Peldor:  (kisses her as he heads for the bedroom door)  Don't
  worry.  I'm sure it's nothing at all.

  The River Quarter's master thief strolled down the street,
taking one of several familiar routes to the building which,
unbeknownst to most, housed the city's thriving Thieves' Guild.
Guards moved to challenge Peldor, then backed away as they
recognized him.  It had taken a while, he thought to himself
as he moved through the maze of passages, but he had achieved
true respectability and power in Greyhawk.  Yes, life was good.
  Then why this message from Org?  It wasn't the guildmaster's
way to send urgent summons like the one Peldor had received.
Though he didn't want to believe it, he was sure something was
wrong.  Peldor's hunches were seldom inaccurate.  A short time
later, he entered Org's office.  The guildmaster was seated in
his plush chair, behind his desk; Org swiveled to face Peldor
as the latter closed the door behind him.

Org:  Sit, please.
Peldor:  (does so)  What's up?

  The guildmaster, a graceful, middle-aged man of slightly-below-
average height but stocky build, steepled his fingers as he spoke.
Peldor noticed that Org's hair was beginning to show a tinge of
grey, and indeed, his friend and boss looked drawn and tired, as
if he hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in a long while.

Org:  We have a problem.
Peldor:  We?
Org:  Both the Oligarchy and you...personally.
Peldor:  (crossed his legs)  I'm afraid I'm going to have to know
  more than that.
Org:  One word should suffice:  shapeshifters.

  Peldor winced, for he remembered all too well his encounter
with those bizarre creatures.  It had been years ago, and he,
along with Bosco and Belphanior, had trekked through the lower
reaches of Greyhawk's sewer system.  Among other things, they
had stumbled upon a colony of strange, hostile dopplegangers,
changelings who were killing citizens and assuming their forms
and faces.

Peldor:  Shit.
Org:  (nods slightly)
Peldor:  We never did find that last shapeshifter, the one who
  we think impersonated a noble.
Org:  Perhaps you should have.  In any case, here's the problem
  at hand:  more sewer workers have been disappearing.
Peldor:  Uh-oh.
Org:  The Oligarchy has managed to keep a lid on it, so far, but
  we've got to get to the bottom of this.
Peldor:  Maybe it's not shapeshifters at all...but rather some
  other evil, beneath the city's streets and buildings?
Org:  Maybe, but we can't take that chance.  We have to know.
Peldor:  (spreads his hands)  So what do you want me to do?
Org:  Why, lead the expedition down there.  Into the sewers.
Peldor:  (shocked)  What?!?
Org:  You're the best choice.  You've seen the things, and lived
  to tell of it.  You know the sewers.  And most importantly,
  I trust you.
Peldor:  Still, I don't-
Org:  No, listen to me now.  Not only must this business remain
  secret, but those who go down there must do so without anyone
  else knowing.  Who can say how many shapeshifters are about?
Peldor:  I can't just drop everything and hike into the sewers!
Org:  You can, and you will.  The Oligarchy has decided this.
Peldor:  (taken aback)
Org:  And the Oligarchs are the _only_ ones who know the true
  nature of this matter.  So shall it remain, save for you and
  your team.
Peldor:  Team?  What team?
Org:  The team that shall accompany you into the sewer pipes.
  Those of your friends whom you trust explicitly...and who have
  dealt with these creatures in the past.  Bosco...and Belphanior.
Peldor:  Belphanior?!?
Org:  We know he's in the city.
Peldor:  You do?  How?
Org:  (shrugs)  We know everything.  By helping you do this, he
  helps us; thus, his presence in Greyhawk shall be...overlooked.
Peldor:  He'll be thrilled, I'm sure.
Org:  If there _are_ shapeshifters down there, and you can find
  and eliminate them, a pardon may even be arranged for that mad
Peldor:  Belphanior pardoned?  As in fully?
Org:  (holds up a finger)  If you succeed.
Peldor:  Hmm.
Org:  In fact, I'd suggest that you take only those two with you.
  We can't have the wrong people knowing about this, especially
  if they're shapeshifters.
Peldor:  (nods)  You're right.  One leak and the damn things'll
  be ready for us.  Either we'll get killed, or they'll move the
  nest.  No, we sure can't risk any leaks.
Org:  As I said, you should take only those whom you trust.  Of
  course, there may not _be_ any which case,
  if you can't or don't find whatever is slaying the sewer-
  workers, we can handle it from there.
Peldor:  I see.
Org:  (leans forward)  Sorry to dump this on you, but you _are_
  the best-qualified man for the job.
Peldor:  (grimaces)  Yeah, I guess so.
Org:  Don't worry, I'll make sure that your operations are run
  smoothly while you're away.
Peldor:  Thanks.  So, when should we start?
Org:  As soon as possible.  (he hands over a series of maps)  I
  believe you'll find these to be more accurate than any you may
  currently have.
Peldor:  (takes the scrolls)
Org:  Gather your companions...tell them whatever you must.  Just
  remember:  no leaks.  No one can know, or all may be lost.
Peldor:  Gotcha.

  The thief left then, unhappy but also determined.  If there
were shapeshifters in the sewers, it almost _was_ his problem.
This was a matter that needed to be taken care of, and the thief
felt a pang of loyalty to the city of Greyhawk.  He was one of
its residents now, and given his power and position, he certainly
did have an obligation to help.
  Within an hour, he had informed Tanya of this alarming task...

Tanya:  Well, no shit.  (she grabs a cloak)  I'm coming too.
Peldor:  No.
Tanya:  Don't "no" me!  I'm not staying up here, while you go
  gallavanting around in the sewers after some mythical monsters.
Peldor:  They're not mythical...and I need you here, to run the
Tanya:  But...
Peldor:  It's no big deal.  We'll go down there, find the things
  if they exist, Belphanior'll torch them, and we'll come back.
  No danger, and no big deal.  And I do need you to stay here...
Tanya:  Feh!  (she hurls her sword away in disgust)  Sometime
  soon, we are going to hire a general manager for the inn.
Peldor:  We will, I promise.  But for now, bear with me...
Tanya:  I will.  (they embrace)  Just be careful, all right?
Peldor:  I always am.

  After picking up Bosco from the casino downstairs, Peldor
went to Belphanior's room.  A certain secret knock told the elf
who was at the door, and moments later, they were all in the

Belphanior:  (his eye wide)  Shapeshifters?!?
Peldor:  Probably.  Maybe.  Hell, I don't know.
Belphanior:  Well, I don't have any love for Greyhawk or the
  Oligarchs...and I don't need their pardon...
Peldor:  (about to say something)
Belphanior:  ...but those things were mean, and I'll be damned
  if I'm gonna let you do this without my help.
Peldor:  (relieved)  Thanks.
Belphanior:  Hey, what are friends for?
Bosco:  Loaning large sums of money...setting you up with hot
  dates...breaking you out of jail...
Peldor:  Settle down, Bosco.
Bosco:  (pretending to be happy, though the sewer adventure was
  actually among his least favorites)  So when do we leave?
Peldor:  The sooner we leave, the sooner we can come back.
Belphanior:  So we leave now, then...
Otto:  I guess I'll go along.  I've never seen Greyhawk's sewers
Peldor:  Trust me, you're not missing much.
Belphanior:  Got your poisons and oils?
Otto:  (nods smugly)
Belphanior:  Good.  We'll need-

  There was a sharp knock at the door, causing Belphanior to
stand abruptly, sword in hand.

Peldor:  (addresses the door)  Who is it?
Mongo:  Mongo!
Peldor:  (glances at Belphanior)  I'll get it.  (he walks over
  to the door and opens it, admitting the dwarf, who is fully
  armed and armored)  Hi there.
Mongo:  (strides in, looking around)  What are you people up to?
  Plotting something without me, eh?
Peldor:  No, nothing of the sort-
Bosco:  (raises his sword in the air)  We're going into the sewers
  to hunt for _shapeshifters_!
Mongo:  You are, are you?  (he scratches his beard)  What the
  hell's a shapeshifter?
Peldor:  Bosco, for once keep your mouth shut!  If any shifter
  hears that we're coming, we are all dead!  (he sighs and turns
  to Mongo)  Remember those things I told you about once, that
  we fought in Greyhawk's sewers?
Mongo:  (frowns, thinking)  Uh...yeah, I think so.
Belphanior:  Well, there may be more.
Bosco:  (not chastened at all)  And we're gonna get 'em!
Mongo:  Want some company?
Peldor:  Err...uh...
Belphanior:  Hell, sure.  (to Peldor)  Since he knows anyway, we
  might as well have his hammer at our side.
Peldor:  (rubbing his chin, he nods)  Mmm, good point.  I hope
  Org doesn't find out, though, and start worrying.
Otto:  So what if he does?
Peldor:  He's my boss.
Otto:  Oh.
Belphanior:  (snaps his fingers)  No problem.  I can teleport us
Peldor:  Into the sewers?
Belphanior:  Sure!  I've been there many times, and if I look
  at those maps for a while, I'll know where in the system I've
  been.  Then we can pop in and head on a predetermined course.
  No one will see us come or go.
Peldor:  Sounds like a good plan.
Otto:  (flipping through the maps)  What're these red marks?
Peldor:  Those are the places where sewer workers were working
  when they were last seen.
Otto:  Ah.
Belphanior:  (already working to plot a course on the map)  Hmm.
  We could take this here...around this cistern...
Bosco:  Neat.
Mongo:  You're sure you know what you're doing?
Belphanior:  (nods)  I'll have it in no time.
Mongo:  Okay...
Peldor:  Where's Gorin?  Didn't he go into the sewers with Bosco
  years ago?
Bosco:  (frowning)  I guess he did, at that.
Mongo:  Oh, he's training over at Ged's castle, with Arnold.  I
  think he'll be busy there for a few days, at least.  I don't
  want to distract him, so I won't.
Otto:  (frowns)  We could use his axe down in the sewers...
Bosco:  Yeah!  I want Gorin to come along too!
Mongo:  (flatly)  Nope.  He's training, and that's serious stuff.
  Besides, we'll do okay.
Peldor:  All armored up and everything, eh?  You must have had a
Mongo:  Actually, I was training too, but in Greyhawk.
Peldor:  Yeah...smells like you need a bath.
Mongo:  (wipes sweat from his brow)  Bah.
Belphanior:  Won't matter, once we're in the sewers.
Peldor:  True...

  They gathered the necessary supplies - chiefly, plenty of oil
in case they had to burn shapeshifters - and made ready to leave.
Peldor spoke to Tanya privately, right before Belphanior cast his
spell of teleportation.

Peldor:  If anyone comes asking, it was just me and Bosco and
Tanya:  But why?
Peldor:  Because I don't want Org to worry about others coming
  along.  I me?
Tanya:  I do.  (they say their goodbyes in a silent but effective
Peldor:  Just keep a basin of hot, soapy water ready for me,
Tanya:  I will...and I'll be in it.
Peldor:  It's a date!  (he leaves, returning to Belphanior's
  room mere moments later)
Belphanior:  Oh, there you are.  Everyone ready?
Mongo:  Yeah.
Otto:  Check.
Bosco:  Ready as I'll ever be!
Peldor:  Let's do it.
Belphanior:  Right.  (he weaves his magic, and momentarily, the
  five companions are gone)

next:      descent
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I'll warn you now:  this is going to be a fairly major
  plotline, and for a while yet, the stories will be pretty much
  Peldor's show.

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