Chapter #390

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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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Otto          8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief           (CN) +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late at night                                       +
+  Place:       the Free City of Greyhawk                           +
+  Climate:     chilly                                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I want the truth!"                                              +
+  "You can't _handle_ the truth!"                                  +
+                                          - from _A Few Good Men_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    CCCXC.  Boiling Point





  After finally escaping from the sewers, Peldor and Otto have
headed to the Green Dragon Inn.  There, they will assemble the
necessary help to return to the sewers and find Mongo, Belphanior,
and the others.

Otto:  I thought you had someone to go see.
Peldor:  I do, and I will.  But first, we've got to get the ball
  rolling.
Otto:  (frowns)  It's the middle of the night.  No one's going to
  be too happy about being woken up.
Peldor:  They'd be less happy being dead...

  The pair walked down the street, encountering few passers-by on
the way to the inn.  One of these, a nondescript fellow in a dark
cloak, waited until the two had passed, then turned and dashed
down an alley, vanishing into the night.

  Shortly, Peldor and Otto arrived at the Green Dragon, Peldor
letting himself in with a key he kept secreted in his boot.

Otto:  (looking around)  I thought this place was open all night?
Peldor:  Nope, we found that to be uneconomical.  C'mon.  (he leads
  the dwarf up the stairs)  I'll tell Tanya what's happened, then
  we can round up the others.

  Peldor unlocked his bedroom door (his inn key was actually a master)
and entered the room...only to find an empty bed!

Peldor:  (shocked)  What?!?  (quickly, he checks the adjoining bath-
  chamber and closet)
Otto:  Hmm.  (walks over to the bed, examining it, but sees nothing)
Peldor:  (returns)  I can't find her anywhere!
Otto:  Where could she have gone?
Peldor:  (shakes his head)  Nowhere.  She wouldn't just disappear like
  this.
Otto:  Maybe she was kidnapped.
Peldor:  Let me check with Vinnie...(he dashes downstairs)

  Otto waited for a short time, scrutinizing with interest the various
contents of the bedroom.

Otto:  (eyes some pink women's underwear on the floor)
Peldor:  (returns, out of breath)  The last time Vinnie saw her was
  earlier tonight!  He figured she'd gone to bed early!
Otto:  Hell.
Peldor:  (thinking rapidly)  Org!
Otto:  Huh?
Peldor:  Org Nenshen!  That's it!
Otto:  (confused)  Org Nenshen, the guildmaster of thieves?
Peldor:  None other.
Otto:  But what would _he_ be doing with Tanya?
Peldor:  (upset)  Org's the one who sent us down there in the first
  place!  He must've known we made it out...!
Otto:  He's using her for insurance, you think?
Peldor:  Could be.  Hell, I don't know why anyone's doing what, at
  this point.
Otto:  You realize what this means, don't you?
Peldor:  Yes, I do.  (he turns, grabs a wet rag, and cleans the muck
  from his face)  But I've got to go to Org's headquarters.
Otto:  It's probably a trap.
Peldor:  Of course it is.
Otto:  So how do you want me to back you up?
Peldor:  I don't.
Otto:  What?!?
Peldor:  I can't risk Tanya getting hurt...I've got to sneak in alone.
  Stay here - no, go find the drow, get their help.
Otto:  Are you sure?
Peldor:  Yes, I'm sure.  (he grips his sword)  I'll meet you later at
  their mansion.  If I don't come back...
Otto:  (cocks his eyebrows inquisitively)
Peldor:  ...avenge me. (he stalks out)

  The thief left his inn, taking back alleys and streets to get to
the thieves' guildhall.  Unknown to all but a handful of people,
there was a secret entrance that led to the guildmaster's sanctum.
Peldor was among that handful; Org had shown Peldor this way once,
long ago, when he took the younger thief into his confidence.  The
hidden route held several lethal traps for the unwary, and even a
master thief wouldn't have found them all.
  Now, Peldor made use of the secret entrance, bypassing all guards
and sentries in the guildhall.  Even at this hour, there were bound
to be a few, and he couldn't risk someone warning Org.  No, he planned
to get in and get Tanya before even Org, or whatever had taken his
place, knew he was there.  He followed the hidden passage, his path
illuminated by a candle he had picked up at the inn.  The corridor
wound around and downward, eventually ending at a swiveling secret
door to Org's office.  Arriving at this portal, Peldor listened for
a long while before opening the door a crack.  He peered into the
room beyond, but couldn't see the entire chamber.
  A familiar voice spoke then, quelling any illusions Peldor might
have had about sneaking in unnoticed.

Org:  Please, do come in.
Peldor:  (sighs, draws his sword, and enters the room warily)

  The guildmaster was sitting behind his heavy oaken desk, feet
propped up comfortably.  Both doors into this room - normal and
secret - opened such that anyone sitting at the desk would see
those who entered.  Org stared at Peldor intently, his fingers
steepled in his usual manner.

Peldor:  (scowls at Org as he discreetly moves out of the range
  of a dart-trap he knows is mounted in a bookcase to the right)
Org:  Your party has returned from the sewers, then-
Peldor:  (bursts into anger)  Of course they didn't return!  What
  the hell are you playing at?!?
Org:  (looks surprised)  Pardon?
Peldor:  Don't play dumb with me!  They're all dead - every one of
  them!  And it's _your_ fault!  (his face goes red, and a vein
  stands out in his neck as he yells)  It was a fucking set-up!
Org:  What in-
Peldor:  A set-up, the whole damned thing!  The map was wrong!  We
  were led into an ambush - two ambushes - and they knew _exactly_
  where we were headed!
Org:  Calm down, now.
Peldor:  To hell with that!  Something stinks here, and we both
  know what it is!
Org:  Really?  Please enlighten me, then - I've no knowledge of any
  plot.
Peldor:  Sure you don't.  (he glares at the other man)  You know
  what's going on here...and I know, too.
Org:  (frowns)
Peldor:  I know what you are - and you're not Org!  Not anymore!
Org:  Don't be ridiculous-
Peldor:  Stop!  Just...stop!  (he points to a ring on his finger)
  Do you know what this is?
Org:  A ring?
Peldor:  Not just any ring, but a ring of x-ray vision!  It lets me
  see through things...like clothing, even skin!
Org:  (frowns again)
Peldor:  And right now, I can see through _your_ skin!  You're not Org
  at all - you're not even human!
Org:  (sighs)  My disguise is uncovered, then...(his features shift
  and melt)

  As Peldor watched, horrified, the creature before him transformed,
from something that looked perfectly human to something completely
different.  Peldor's bluff had worked perfectly, for he didn't really
have such a ring.  In truth, he had hoped against all hope that Org
was really himself, and there had been some terrible misunderstanding.
Now, though, he saw that this was not the case; the thing that stood
before him was a shapeshifter.  One of the larger, more powerful
variety, this creature had features unlike any other shapeshifters.
Its ears were elongated, and pointed; its teeth were larger and more
curved; its nose was more pronounced.  The monster stood up, hissing
as it spoke again.

thing:  Human fool!  You may have slain our entire nest, but you'll
  not live to tell of it!  Nor will it stop us!
Peldor:  (honestly taken aback)  We killed the whole nest?!?
thing:  (waves its hands angrily)  The nest, yes!  And between those
  in the oil-filled room and those in the nest itself, you and your
  accursed companions destroyed most of our brood!
Peldor:  (trying to goad the creature on)  Good.  That's what you get
  for sending us down there.
thing:  (spits green droplets as it talks)  I had no way of knowing
  that you would bring that Mongo creature!  It alone kept your party
  alive long enough to bring doom down upon our people...
Peldor:  (smirks)
thing:  The sole survivors, six in number, went out to track you after
  the explosion...but they never returned.  Slain by you in some sneak
  attack, no doubt.
Peldor:  (shrugs and lies)  We did what we had to do.
thing:  (gnashes its teeth in rage)  Oh, fear not.  We will found a
  new brood after you are finally out of the way.  And this time, no
  fools will stumble upon our lair.
Peldor:  Uh...if all the other ones are dead, how'd you find all this
  out?
thing:  (cocks its head)  The guild's spies are my spies...another
  reason Org was such a good choice for replacement.
Peldor:  And where's Tanya?
thing:  Tanya?  How should I know?
Peldor:  More of your lies!  That's all you know how to do!  (he grits
  his teeth)  Org - the real Org - is dead, then?
thing:  Indeed.
Peldor:  How long have you stood in his place?
thing:  Not long at all...mere weeks.
Peldor:  That's another death you'll pay for, scum!  (he takes a step
  toward the shapeshifter)
thing:  Bah!  I am all that Org Nenshen was, and much more!  I know
  all that he knew...including this!  (he pulls a lever hidden beneath
  the desk)

  A trap-door sprung open, but Peldor had already taken steps to keep
away from it, and he smiled grimly as he approached the shapeshifter.

thing:  So be it.  (it pulls another lever)

  Hearing bolts slide home, Peldor knew that the two exits to the room
must now be sealed.  He gripped Nightfang tightly, and willed himself
invisible.  This would be a battle to the death.

thing:  (still looking straight at Peldor)  That may have worked against
  Org, but as I said, I am much more.  (it stands, and moves around the
  desk)

  The thief invoked the speed-enhancing power of his tattoos and leapt
forward swiping at the shapeshifter.  With quickness beyond that of its
kin, the foul thing dodged the blade and struck at Peldor.  The thief
rolled with the blow, but the force still carried him crashing over one
of the plush chairs in the guildmaster's office.  Peldor sprung to his
feet, feeling bruised ribs as he stood, sword ready.
  Again the thing sprang to the attack, but this time Peldor impaled it
with his enchanted blade.  Snarling in its inhuman voice, the shape-
shifter lifted the thief by the throat, and tore the hurtful sword from
his hand.  Peldor was hurled again into the wall, crashing painfully to
the floor.  He guessed this beast was every bit as strong as those that
had overwhelmed his companions in the sewers.  Now, though, there was
no time for contemplation, for the thing kept coming after pulling the
sword from its gut.  Peldor whipped out two daggers and let them fly.
The magic of the blades carried them straight to their target, and one
of the creature's eyes was neatly pierced.  Black fluid flowed out, as
the thing screamed.
  But Peldor was down to one weapon:  the glass dagger.  A powerfully
enchanted blade, but almost useless against this foe.  The only source
of fire in the room was the candle Peldor had brought with him...not
enough.  Desperately he tried to use the telekinetic powers of his ring
to get his sword free, but the shapeshifter held it too tightly.  Now,
the thing advanced again.
  Peldor was almost surprised at the skill with which the creature
swung the sword.  But it had all of Org's knowledge, and that probably
included no small amount of swordplay.  For precious seconds, the thief
dodged and ducked; only the enchantments he now carried kept him alive
that long.
  And he knew it.  He had to get out of this room.  Diving past the
inhuman foe, he rolled behind the guildmaster's desk and pulled at the
lever beneath it.  A soft sigh marked the unlocking of the doors, but
he never made it to either.  The whole desk slammed into him, pinning
him against the far wall.  The thief felt ribs crack as the creature's
incredible strength propelled the heavy oaken desk toward and into him.
Struggling helplessly in excruciating pain, Peldor could only watch as
his own sword pierced his chest almost effortlessly.  Blood pumped from
his cleft heart in great gushes.
   The shapeshifter pulled the gory longsword free, and wrenched the
desk out of the way.  Peldor's lifeless body slumped to the floor, his
blood rapidly spreading across the floor.

thing:  And so ends another threat to our well-being...

   The commotion had drawn attention from guards elsewhere in the
guildhall, and the thing quickly reassumed the form of Org Nenshen.

guard:  (knocking loudly on the door)  Sir?!?  We heard...
Org:  Come in.
guards:  (entering with weapons drawn, they stop short)  What the hell
  happened?
Org:  (covering one eye)  It seems our Quartermaster was eager to move
  up in the ranks.
guard#1:  (getting a look at the body)  Shit, not Peldor.
guard#2:  (moving around the desk)  No way.
Org:  Just remove the corpse.  Dispose of it immediately.  Spread the
  word:  River Quarter is under lockdown.  He may have accomplices
  there.
guard#1:  (looking at the Guildmaster's bleeding eye)  Are you okay?
Org:  Fine.  Just go.  (thinking)  And send me a runner.
guards:  Yessir.  (they take the body and leave)

  The false Org sat back then, and waited with a patience gained over
many decades of nonhuman life.  An indeterminate time later, a black-
garbed figure entered the guildmaster's office.

Org:  Ah, at last you're here.  (he produces a heavy sack of coins)
  Ten thousand, in advance.  Your target is personally sanctioned
  by me, and this assassination must remain top-secret.  Dispose of
  the body in some permanent manner.
Whisper:  Who dies?
Org:  The dwarf, Otto.  I believe you'll find him at the Green Dragon
  Inn...(he smiles, pleased)





next:      Belphanior...Mongo...Darek...Bosco - their fates revealed!
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:     The basic idea for this whole plotline came to me in a
  rather spirited and realistic dream.  The dream was born because
  I'd watched _Invasion of the Body Snatchers_ and read _Clear and
  Present Danger_ in the same time period.  Elements of those works
  combined with the constantly-flowing Adventurers ideas in my head
  to spawn a dream that turned into a plotline.
    Of course, in the dream I was a victim of the conspiracy too.

    Here's a shitload of collected fanmail for episodes #376-385:





Ah, back in Helgate again: I do love this town, and it seems darker
and more dreary now than ever, which makes it even more appealing.
It's good to see that Belphanior hasn't really changed since losing
the eye, and that he's not contrite or wracked with guilt over
what happened in town. Staying holed up in his castle is a great
idea: let the fear build even more in the mind of the townsfolk.

Leonard



hey thomas,

376 was cool.  it really illustrated the intimidating effects the
dark castle and its owner has over the people of helgate.  i liked
it.

i'm wonmdering if you have any particular castle design in mind for
the appearance of the castle, say ravenloft for example?

can it be surmised that belphanior received the castle from a demon
as payment for some act he accomplished off screen?

your comment from blackrazor's thoughts about him destroying the
eye and eating the soul makes me almost eblieve that belphanior
wasn't himself during the act.

that's now got my mind reeling.  is he possessed without knowing it?

oh the suspense!

have fun,

matt h.



Thomas, I really like the Belphanior/Blackrazor thread.

His current situation, brooding in the dark castle, reminds me of
some of the early villains the party faced. How about a young band
of Adventurers hunting down the evil Belphanior in his lair?
It would certainly show him what he has become. Maybe he will need
assistance from his old friends (Peldor?).

I'd like to see Peldor have some kind of crisis, and revert to form.
He's been far too domestic and dull lately.

Adrian



TM>  Does this current storyline count?   :)



Good stuff. Otto has a lot more depth than some other characters.
I think he holds our interest as a "narrator" - he is relatively
normal, so we can identify with his reactions to things.

{how about Yod picks him as heir, or he is secretly Yod's son?}

Adrian



You're doing a good job of fleshing out the secondary characters,
as well as the minor characters. I was wondering when somebody
was going to start teaching Eduardo some skills, and start looking
out for his future. I was rather surprised to see Otto showing an
interest, but it makes a lot more sense than having Belphanior
become a father figure (no doubt better for Eduardo too, since
Belphaniors reckless approach to life would be fatal to anyone
less experienced or skilled).  I especially liked the subtle use
of the "honor among thieves" motif.

Now that his training has begun, how long will it take for Eduardo
to be listed as a level 1 thief?

Leonard



Keep 'em coming...the Otto/Eduardo stuff is cool.  Going to turn
Eduardo into a henchling?

- Matthew



> notes:     I hope this peek into the life and mind of Otto was
>   interesting for you.

It was, thanks.

It's also nice to see new characters like Eduardo being developed.

Gary



Thanks for the Otto-feature, and his discussion with little Eddie
was a nice little feature.

Glen



TM>  Eddie?



Hmm, this was an interesting chapter. You did a very good job of
creating tension throughout the dinner, while making both characters
relaxed at the same time. We _finally_ learned something significant
about Victoria! I can't help but worry about Belphanior: it seemed
that the entire conversation went as Victoria desired, despite
Belphanior's intent and attempts. She actually mocked his strong
will, and he missed it! True, his will is strong, but apparently
not nearly as strong as hers (and perhaps she's letting him know
this). I hope Belphanior survives his relationship with Victoria.

And yet the whole episode worked well. I think the problems you
mention contributed to the awkwardness of the interaction, but
that worked in your favour, rather than aginst you.

I particularly wanted to comment on:
> Victoria:  I suppose that she hated you by then, and wanted to see
>   you gone.
> Belphanior:  I can't deny that.
> Victoria:  Why?
> Belphanior:  Because it's true.
> Victoria:  No, I meant why did she hate you so?

...something similar to the interection between Nenya and Ged some
episodes back - characters not understanding each other, while both
being quite  intelligent...not knowing the same things, with
different agendas in a conversation.

These things help a lot in making the characters "real" people,
rather than puppets.

Good stuff. I think conversation is rapidly turning into some of
your best writing.

Glen



Hi Thomas,

     Haven't given you much feedback of late, but your stories
have been great! I think you're showing a real growth of writing
ability over the course of the Adventurer's saga.  I really liked
this last story.  I felt that you set the mood and capturered the
character's personalities perfectly.  I really felt that Belph
and Vicki were having a real conversation and that I was a fly on
the wall.
     I really like the way the stories have been going.  Thanks
for all the enjoyment I've gotten out of the stories.  I know
they're a lot of work.

Michael



TM>  Vicki?



Thought I'd offer some Adventurers feedback as I'm reasonably up
to date with the stories for once.

Include the usual praise here. What can I say except that after
379 episodes I'm still reading?

376-378 were especially good. Warlock-in-a-haunted-castle is the
role that Belphanior was born to play. A setting like this makes
me wonder when some band of keen young adventurers is going to show
up to explore the place.

Like many of your readers I'm not that impressed with the mild
manners of Blackrazor. The sword seems to be happy with whatever
souls Belphanior chooses to feed it - even though it could easily
have more, if it pushed its owner a bit. I don't think anyone can
be very evil without being greedy too, but Blackrazor doesn't fit
this idea, and comes across as much too meek.

Arnold needs more attention, especially considering how long he's
been around. Sometimes he seems like he's just a walking
battle-tank, uttering stock phrases like "Ah-nold is ready!"
at random intervals.

Geoffrey



Good intro to the big mansion.  We need to see more later.  Perhaps
a break-in attempt by some rogues.

Rance



TM>  about #380:
TM>
TM>    I didn't set out to write a wedding episode.  I just got to
TM>  looking at their levels, and realized that in one fell swoop
TM>  I could accomplish several things:
TM>   1)  reunite everyone, bringing them all to the same date
TM>   2)  increase the levels of those who were long overdue
TM>   3)  get the minor wedding out of the way



TM>  Now for feedback on the current plotline (#381-???)...



Good. Very strong. Excellent topic for a major plot line: can be
just about anything coming down the road with this as a base.

Vince



An interesting story, this.  Kinda cool to see them going back
into the sewers.

Tom



Alright! This story-line is going to kick-ass, and in fact,
already done.

I thought old Org was going to say something stupid like "You
must turn in Belphanior, we know he's at the Gree Dragon", and
I was surprised - but delighted - to see the old shapeshifters
back in action.

You've assembled quite a team, so I'm anticipating a lot of
action!

Leonard



and the sewer adventure is starting out great.  if it weren't
for the overpowering stench of the coffee maker here in the
office, i think i might have smelled the sewer...

matt h.



It's a strange thing to say, but I like the sewers of Greyhawk!

Rance



Just a short note...

This is looking to be one cool adventure!

Richard



I just kept thinking Alien / Aliens the whole time..hehehe.  Very
well done.

TJ



Ahh, good to get back to the old-style dungeon bashing.

Adrian



Man!  That episode was certainly one of the more suspenseful in
recent memory.  I esp. liked the bit about the hatch closing.
Just the sort of touch to create paranoia in adventurer and reader
alike.  Good show!  I remain

Yours,
Robert



This looks to be a great plotline, Thomas.  All
I could think about during that scene at the end
where something's moving towards them through
the sewers is Aliens.  Most cool.  I'll have to
go and rewatch that gem.  Anyways, I'm anxiously
awaiting the next installment.

Mike



Episode 384 is, without doubt, the best description of combat
you've written thus far! The final results caught me off guard:
our heroes were simply out numbered and overwhelmed. You did an
excellent job of showing how Belphanior fares when he can't
regenerate during combat, and their foes (or those guiding them)
actually set a trap that worked!

And now we need to see who's going to be toast, and who will be
crispy critters.



Anyways, great story.  I'm a little disappointed the
sewers didn't start crawling with Aliens (I know, I know,
I talked about it last letter but I'm on an Aliens kick
right now).  But now that Bosco's discovered oil, I'm
thinking I'm going to get the fight scene that will bring
me back down to Earth again (i.e. no instant flambe the
bad dudes type thing).




I must admit, the further this goes, the more interested I become.

Tom



Org _is_ a shifter, and is luring into the sewers the few
people who know about shifters.

Gary



Great, Thomas, absolutely great!

The last couple of episodes were among the best you've written so
far! They're so real!!! (well, for an imaginary world!  :)

I mean, this is among the rare occasions that the party actually
seems to be afraid! No, not afraid, but...i don't know, considering
the odds maybe?  Realising the probability that they may not
survive? The adventurers had made similar statements/thoughts in
the past, but never before have i felt it so real!

And Bosco! Marvelous! This story is among the few (if not the only)
that the charming and most amusing fellow actually showed a more
serious side of himself. The ferocity with which he fought, the
anger coloring its voice when uttering "They _hurt_ me"...I was
expecting to see this for so much time!

I mean, Bosco may be funny and act like a child sometimes, but
one can't survive the adventures that he did, if one isn't as
tough as they come...

I knew he had it inside, was just expecting him to show it!

BTW, how's this for a motto for this shapeshifter story?
(don't recall where i've picked it up unfortunately)

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"

Sounds to me it fits!  :)

And let me take a wild guess...would it be possible that somebody
in the Oligarchy is a shifter? I mean the (deliberatly?) wrong
maps, the pre-set traps (hey, are these dudes *that* smart? It
shouldn't be easy to put people like Bel and Peldor in a trap!),
Darek's comment about no missining workers, even the - quite
absurd - request from Org that no other people accompany Peldor,
Bel and Bosco in the sewers, as if he was afraid that other
similarly powerful individual like Ged or Alindyar would have
problems facing the shifters...or maybe all he wanted was to
make sure that the only people who knew about the shifters were
eliminated?

Org a shifter?

Please, please, drop a hint or two!  :)

   Ciao,
            Marios



Hiya Thomas!

This storyline is getting rather messy ;-). It is nice to see the
current party backed into a corner and its weaknesses exploited.
Those shapeshifters are nasty bastards! Strong too! I hope the 6
or 8 HD fireball won't kill too many party members...

But this detracts from the underlying question of whether the
Oligarchy have set up Peldor or Belph or both! I am hoping that
its not Org himself. A fake tale of disapearing sewer workers, a
doctored map and an obvious oil filled trap... Hmmm, very dodgy!
Especially when Org asked specifically that only Peldor, Belph
and Bosco venture into the sewers.

Does this mean (with a hope filled gasp) that Peldor has to fight
against the oligarchy. Corruption at the highest levels. A truely
epic plot...

Pete



I'm _loving_ this storyline.

1) Intrigue.  What are the shapeshifters doing?  Who controls
   them?

2) Action.  The combat scenes were well done.  Bosco actually
   received quite a beating for the first time that I can remember.

3) Suspense.  It's obvious that the group won't be able to rely on
   brawn to get themselves out of this mess.

4) Twists.    I thought that with the oil, the shapeshifter were
   going to torch the group.  I guess they have other plans for
   them.

The writing is superb.

Better than Cats!  I'll read it over, and over and over again.


.marc



Re: the fight in the sewers:

Best, knock-down, drag-out, battle we've seen in _quite_ some time.

Jim



Excellent.  Out of the last three I've written
about (382, 383, and this one), this one is my
favorite.  You successfully demonstrated the
power of the adventurers, and yet how meaningless
their actions were at the same time.

I must admit I saw the "last resort" fireball
thing coming, but this story was still one of the
most entertaining that I've read.  Is 385 coming
tomorrow?  If so, I may just have to call in sick.
Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait ...

Mike



You cruel, cruel man!

This now begs the questions as to who is behind everything.

Is Org trying to get Peldor killed?
Is Org a shapeshifter?
Could someone have known that Belphanior was in town and wanted _him_
dead and gave a phoney map to an unsuspecting Org?

Wow!  Too many possibilities.
(Not to mention the apparent demise of Belphanior, Bosco and Mongo.)

This could very well gone on for quite some time.

I hope that Peldor and Otto manage to figure out some way to determine if
someone is a shapeshifter.  Such information could come in handy later.


Oh, nice job in pairing Peldor and Otto.  I've got this feeling that
they will make a nice team in the near future.

.marc



Argh, I can't believe how dense I was.  Peldor's "friend" in the guild (the
guy who told him he needed to come take care of the shapeshifters) had been
killed and taken over by one, I bet.

That would explain most of this.

Robert



*Please* don't kill off Belph or Mongo, I'm *begging* you.

I must confess I'd be unhappy to lose Bosco, too
(but don't tell him).

Gary



I hope that the rest of the adventurers were simlarly saved; I rather
hate the non-heroic deaths of heroes.  You really have me on the edge
of my seat with this one.  I can't wait for the next installment.  I
remain

Yours,
Robert



TM>   Fear not, all will turn out okay.

Great!  It's the mark of a good story that the reader identifies with
the characters.  It's the mark of a good author that the reader is on
the edge of his seat.

TM>   Well, mostly.

Well, I can deal with losing Derek (although he shows some promise),
and even Belphanior (although I would prefer to see him repent; also,
Helgate is a neat series and I don't think that Otto could run it
well).  But Mongo is a great guy, as is Bosco.  Well, I can't wait for
the next installment.  I remain

Yours,
Robert



Lovely cliff-hanger! Also a few good clues dropped :}

Nice to see more weaknesses exposed.

But as for character survival:

Belphanior: Cube of Force or Time Stop, then Dimension Door or
Teleport. Or his golem could come crashing in.

Bosco: has a Wish he can use if he survived the rock-fall.

Darek: likely a goner, but we know too little of him

Mongo: has Regeneration powers from both ring and armour and giant
strength to boot, so he can claw his way out. I was surprised to
note that he wasn't using his Sword +6 in such close quarters.

Otto: pass

Peldor: got saved by his sword. Could also get others back via his
Wish power.

It *seems* fairly obvious that it wasn't Org who spoke to Peldor,
but I'm sure you'll have some devious twist in store.

Interesting that the shapeshifters have no souls - this would mean
that they are merely extensions of something...

I was disappointed at the lack of tactics: when the shapeshifters were
frozen, the party should have skedaddled and *then* fireballed them.
Or, they could just have dropped some soap (preferably liquid :) which
would have neutralised the oil. Or Belph could have used his Time Stop
power.

Also, now that the cistern has collapsed, shouldn't there be day-
light visible?

Quentin



(wow!)

Peldor I expected to survive. That 'lovable rogue' still has some of
his cat-lives left. Wonder if Baz has his eyes on him? (the Cat Lord
fellow, if I spelt it incorrectly). Otto was a surprise; I'd not
previously noticed his recuperative ability - but then, IMHO that's
Otto; not one to give away secrets if he can keep them :).

Mongo. I know he has his Coat of Arnd and a ring of regeneration
(unless he forgot to wear it, if he ever takes it off), but, well.
That's a *lot* of rubble. Besides, I'm not sure I'd want to go through
coming back to life, asphyxiating, coming back - so on. *brrr*. Maybe
there will be some airflow. Maybe he won't regain consciousness until
there is air (if ever; trapped between life and death...).

If Mongo escapes, he's not going to be quite the same, I think. Hmm,
then again, he *is* a dwarf, steadfast, at home underground, and mighty
at that. I bet he's not going to be a happy camper until he finds those
who betrayed him and hits them a few times, though. At least. Maybe
these events are what decide him to go off somewhere, forge a place of
his own (or he ends up with claustrophobia, a terrible misfortune for
a dwarf).

Darek and Belphanior are in trouble. Darek I know too little of to
comment, but unless Belphanior and Blackrazor have secrets we the
readers don't know about, IMHO they're gone. (smiles) It wouldn't
surprise me much to learn otherwise though. Of course, if not, the
afterlife isn't going to know what hit it! :)

(mental image of Belphanior and Blackrazor fighting their way back)

Shane



Hiya Thomas

Ouch! Only two (immediate) survivors from Belphanior's fireball.
Did the oil double the explosive damage? and was the roof
collapsing an extra handfull of d6's too? That would explain why
tanks like Mongo didn't auto save vs the fire damage. I suppose
that Peldor's sword teleported him to a "safer" location and
saved his life, but how did Otto make it?

So its just Peldor and Otto vs the legions of Jublex then? No
heavy magical or physical support anymore. Are we going to see
subtlety and intelligence win the day? I do hope so! Two thieves
vs the world! Well an evil cult anyway.

You've got me on the edge of my seat...

Pete



After all the talk about killing off some party member it seems that
you have finally done it.  Mabye.  If not you have at least made me
worry about them for real.  Mongo almost certainly survived, but
Bosco?  Even Belph without the eye could be dead.  Pretty creepy how
much I actually care about the adventurers.

Dave, Marie and Morgan





TM>  Well, by now, all of you know at least some of the answers...
TM>  Here are some more general comments:



Thomas,

I've been thinking recently about the way the Adventurers are
going.  Given the extent to which they've begun leading their
own lives - staying in touch, certainly, but primarily following
their own interests - it makes sense that the stories usually
only deal with one or two of them. If they were all to get back
on an adventure together, it would have to be for something
pretty earth-shaking; and I, at least, would be happy for that
not to happen.  There's only so far you can go with the "ever
bigger threat", after all.

Is it a coincidence that the dispersal of the Adventurers
follows the dispersal of their players? :-)

As usual, I'm having trouble finding specifics to praise. I
think what I enjoy most about the current stories is the de-
emphasis of combat; most of the protagonists are powerful
enough that someone who faces them one-on-one is going to lose.
And their enemies know this, so they try not to face them.

Roger
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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