Chapter #407

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Date:        4/8/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       Helgate, deep within the Yatil Mountains            +
+  Climate:     raining and chilly                                  +
+  "I'm like a bad penny - I always turn up."                       +
+                                                  - Indiana Jones  +

                       CDVII.  The Quest

  It was a typical night at the Scoundrel's Den tavern in Helgate.
All manner of drunkards, brigands, and other rabble were collected
here.  Perhaps this was because it was pouring rain outside, and
this had been the first shelter they had come upon.  None could
say for sure, though one thing was certain:  in the busy tavern
could be found hot food, cold drink, and a pleasant (if temporary)
reprieve from the chilly, driving rain that battered the streets
and buildings outside.
  In a dim, slightly less noisy corner of the establishment, a group
of people sat around a table...

tall, green-robed wizard:  -and supposedly he's still up there, in
  that castle.  That's what the bartender said.
older man in priestly robes:  (shaking his head)  I don't know,
  Abner, it sounds very dangerous.
thin, hooded woman:  (grins, brandishing a knife)  So what, Arkayn?
  Who's afraid of a little danger?
heavyset warrior:  Certainly not you, Arlanni...the so-called "princess
  of thieves"...
Arkayn:  And what of you, Aggro?  As a professional fighting man,
  what is your opinion of this quest?
Aggro:  (pats his axe's haft)  Aggro the Axe fears neither man nor
  beast.  (he turns to the tall, green-robed wizard)  I say we go for
  it, Abner.
Abner:  I believe our powers are up to the task, especially my magic.
  (he eyes the other five people at the table)  What say you, our
  newfound friends?
short, plump wizard:  You can rely on the magic of Blastum!
dwarven warrior-type:  Bah!  Who bothers with such mummery?  All
  Gutboy Barrelhouse needs is his bustin' hammer!  (he hefts a war-
half-elf:  Ah, but the _combination_ of both is the mightiest of
  all, my dear dwarf...
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  Both what?
half-elf:  Both might and magic - in conjunction, they form the best
skinny man in robe:  Not so, Barjin.  The way of the empty hand shall
  show its supremacy.
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  What the hell're you babbling about, Balto?  You
  use a staff to fight!
Balto:  The staff is but an extension of the hands.
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  (turns his hammer over in his hand)  Bah, says I.
third wizard:  (a tall, skinny individual, he stirs beneath his purple
Aggro:  Ah, waking up, are you, Sarnath?
Sarnath:  I never sleep.
Blastum:  (smirks)  Yeah, sure.  What magical powers do _you_ intend
  to contribute?
Sarnath:  Just get me into that castle.
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  (drains his beer)  Enough talk!  What next, Abner?
Abner:  (puts his palms on the table)  More discussion, then, or
  shall we vote?
Barjin:  No need to vote, I think.  We - the Company of Nine - have
  traveled the land stopping evil and helping the helpless.  This
  evil lord or whatever he is - this "Belphanior" - holds these poor
  people in his iron grasp.
Arkayn:  Aye...and whatever the risks, we have vowed to end such
  reigns of terror.
Arlanni:  Hell, from what I've gathered, this Belphanior fellow may
  not even be alive anymore.  The castle could well be empty, waiting
  for us.
Abner:  We shouldn't plan for that, though.  If we're going, we'd
  best be ready to fight that mad elf, and whatever sinister traps
  and guardians he may have.
Aggro:  (nods)  Axe 'im!
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  (eyes his hammer, comparing it to the other's
  battleaxe)  Who axed you?
Balto:  This seems like a noble quest, fraught with peril and honor.
  I accept.
Blastum:  Oh, well _that's_ a relief!
Arkayn:  Now, now, children-
Blastum:  Quiet, you old fool.  I'm not your child.
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  (snickers)
Arlanni:  (cracks her knuckles)  Don't forget, one who lords it in
  a mining boom-town is sure to have plenty of treasure in his
Arkayn:  That's all you care about, isn't it, Arlanni?  The riches
  you might find...
Arlanni:  Hey, I also enjoy the thrill of it!
Abner:  Enough!  We must prepare for this.

  Although a few of them had their own various misgivings, the nine
adventurers decided to go ahead with this quest.  After all, were
they not the heroes of Urnst...the saviors of the Gnatmarsh...the
foes of the Murky Mountain orcs?  A single warlock, holed up in his
empty castle, would surely pose no problem.

Abner:  We'll leave in the morning.  Aggro and Gutboy, you're in
  charge of getting supplies and rations.
Aggro:  (glances at the tavern's door)  In this storm?!?
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  Aw, quit yer whining and come on.
Abner:  Balto, Arlanni, you look around, find out the best way to
  approach that castle.
Balto:  (nods)
Arlanni:  (to Balto)  C'mon, baldy.  Let's get to work.
Balto:  I am not bald.  I shaved my head.
Arlanni:  Sure you did.
Abner:  Barjin, we'll need lodgings for the night.
Barjin:  Gotcha.  (he looks around, trying to figure out how many
  rooms the party needs, and how much coin he has to spend on this)
Arlanni:  (helpfully)  I think I saw a hotel down the street...the
  Raven's Nest, if I remember correctly.
Aggro:  What about you, Abner...and Blastum...and Arkayn...and even
  Sarnath?  What're you guys up to?
Abner:  I shall roam the town, along with Arkayn - we'll see who's
  in charge in this town, down here anyway.
Arlanni:  You expect them to be up and about at this hour, in this
Abner:  We shall see.  (to Aggro)  Bear in mind that we four spell-
  users must study, or in Arkayn's case, pray.
Gutboy Barrelhouse:  Bah!
Blastum:  You'll need our spells on the morrow, dwarf!
Arkayn:  And my healing magic, I'd wager.
Balto:  (stands, flipping his staff up into his hands with a deft
Sarnath:  (rises, slowly, as if he had just woken up)
Abner:  Okay, everybody knows their jobs.  Let's get moving!  We'll
  meet at the Raven's Nest in an hour's time.
Barjin:  And the mountain castle?
Abner:  We go up at dawn.

  They paid their bill and scattered, each adventurer embarking on
his or her assigned task.  Moments later, after the last of their
number had departed the Scoundrel's Den, a lithe, dark-skinned lad
also left the tavern, though with a different destination.

next:      the nine make their way to Belphanior's castle
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     A lot of you are asking how things are at Tech and in
  Atlanta, now that the Games are underway (as I write this, it's
  7/25/96) and the chaos has begun.
    There you have it.  Chaos.  Let's see...

    *  Security?  Questionable - some guy with a loaded gun and a
       fake police uniform - and no badge - somehow got into an
       event last weekend.  And now some bastard detonated a bomb!
       Granted, the Centennial Park isn't normally a high-security
       area, although it may be from now on.
    *  Traffic?  Excellent.  Everyone's either taking MARTA (the
       rail/bus system here) or telecommuting.  The other day,
       though, I drove over some curbs and medians and continued
       down a "closed" street, to get where I was going.  I thought
       the ACOG guys were gonna shit their pants!
    *  Crowds?  Bad.  More people, most of them lost, than Atlanta
       can handle.
    *  Economy?  Okay.  Most restaurant employees I've talked to
       recently haven't seen a lot of foreign business.  Makes you
       wonder where all those crowds go at night.
    *  Strip clubs?  Don't know.  Haven't checked yet.  Hmm, maybe
       the crowds are hiding in there.
    *  Events?  Good, from what I hear and read.
    *  ACOG?  Bad, bad, bad.  They're drawing tons of bad press for
       a variety of mishaps, miscommunications, and misguidances.
       On one hand, I feel bad for them, because they have a big
       job to do, under a lot of pressure.  On the other hand, I
       don't feel bad for them, because some of them are getting
       paid 6-figure salaries to make sure that these problems
       don't happen.
    *  Baseball?  Better than ever.

  Oh, by the way and back to the Adventurers, the following summary
might be of interest to you at this point in time:

The Company of Nine:

Abner               human      male     magic-user
Aggro the Axe       human      male     fighter
Arkayn              human      male     cleric
Arlanni             human      female   thief
Balto               human      male     monk
Barjin              half-elf   male     fighter/magic-user
Gutboy Barrelhouse  dwarf      male     fighter
Blastum             human      male     magic-user
Sarnath             ?          male     magic-user

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