Chapter #432

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    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                    +
+                           +
+  Belphanior     (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief    (CN) +
+    Otto           8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief        (CN) +
+    Victoria        11th level female vampiric human fighter  (NE) +
+  Date:        4/16/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       Belphanior's castle, above Helgate                  +
+  Climate:     cold and raining                                    +
+  "Friends help you move.  Real friends help you move bodies."     +
+                                                        - unknown  +

                   CDXXXII.  Trouble In Town

  Within his study, Belphanior is hard at work on some research he
has recently undertaken...

Belphanior:  (sitting at a large wooden table, he flips through half
  a dozen different tomes at once, scribbling notes on a parchment)

  The study was well-lit, if only at the elf's table, by a number of
candles, their light causing shadows to flicker on the walls.  On
the floor were a couple of grimoires that Belphanior had grown
frustrated with.

Belphanior:  Dust...dust from an elemental of-  (he looks up as some
  mist flows beneath the door)
Victoria:  (materializes)
Belphanior:  Don't you ever knock?
Victoria:  Hardly ever.  (she smiles)  I've been invited into this
  place, remember?
Belphanior:  Yup.
Victoria:  (looking around)  You have quite a collection here...some
  of those tomes look older than me.
Belphanior:  They are.
Victoria:  How do you have time to collect all these?  I never see
  you bring new ones in.
Belphanior:  Every time I go to another city or town, I pick up any-
  thing that interests me.  Hundreds of cities...hundreds of books.
  (he frowns)  And then you've got to consider all the dungeons...
Victoria:  Hmm.  (she regards him)  What's this I hear about your
  efforts to "cure" me?
Belphanior:  Who told you that?
Victoria:  Oh, no one...I just know things sometimes.
Belphanior:  Well, it's true, after a fashion.  I _am_ working on
  finding such a...cure.
Victoria:  I don't care for the word "cure" in this instance.  It's
  not like I'm sick or diseased, now is it?  (she leans over him,
  running her fingers across his shirt)  Mmm, silk...
Belphanior:  Whatever you want it...uh...err...
Victoria:  I don't need any silly cure.  I'm perfectly content with
  things just as they are.  (she begins ripping the shirt off of his
  back - literally)  Oops!  (she giggles)
Belphanior:  Maybe we'd better lock the door...
Victoria:  Why bother?  (she nibbles at his ear)  I don't care if
  anyone sees...
Belphanior:  Still-
Victoria:  (giggles)  It's locked already, anyway.  I didn't use it,
  remember?  (she tosses the shreds of his shirt away)
Belphanior:  (suddenly finds it difficult to concentrate)  Oh, yeah.

  Sometimes, the very best moments are suddenly and rudely interrupted
by some pressing matter.  Unfortunately, this was one of those times.

Otto:  (knocking at the door, furiously)  Hey!  Hey in there!
Victoria:  (giggles)
Belphanior:  (stifles a laugh)  Shh.  (he yells in the direction of
  the door)  What is it?!?
Otto:  Got a problem in town!
Belphanior:  Surely it can wait until some other time?!
Otto:  Afraid not!
Victoria:  (sadly)  Ooo...
Otto:  It seems that a band of brigands is running rampant down in
Victoria:  (perks up)  Ahh.
Blackrazor:  (in its sheath, against a nearby wall, it pulses to itself)
Belphanior:  Brigands?  (he lifts Victoria off of him and stands up)
  I'll be there in a moment!
Victoria:  Better buckle your pants.
Belphanior:  (looks down)  Heh.

  Shortly, in the small, arched hall that Belphanior referred to as
his "war room", the elf convened with Victoria, Otto, and Eduardo, who
had delivered the bad news.  The chamber had a single large window in
the west wall, this affording a view from the front side of the castle.
Though they couldn't see the details of the town below, a few rooftops
were visible through the mist that perpetually surrounded this peak.
The companions were gathered around a large, ancient table of sturdy
wood; a blazing fire burned in the fireplace to the south.

Belphanior:  How many bandits are we talking about?
Eduardo:  Not too many, sir - I counted only seventeen for sure - but
  they are still running around, smashing and burning and fighting.
Otto:  What about Herbert and his guards?
Eduardo:  I think they were outnumbered, and maybe some were killed.
  It was messy-
Belphanior:  It's going to get a lot messier...
Otto:  You got that right.
Eduardo:  Wait, there's more.
Victoria:  More?
Eduardo:  Herbert's family - they took them prisoner.  Herbert cannot
  mount any attack, or they will kill his wife and children.
Belphanior:  Damn.
Otto:  This won't be as simple as I first thought.  These goons are
  smarter than they look, obviously.
Belphanior:  We'll think of something.  (he looks around)  Where are
  Razor Charlie and Kyros?
Otto:  In town, last I heard.
Victoria:  The odds may be more even, then.
Belphanior:  (nods)  We'd better get down there.  The time has come,
  I think, for the people of Helgate to behold their ruler once more.
Otto:  (checking his crossbow and quiver of bolts)  I'm ready.
Eduardo:  I'll go too-
Belphanior:  No, you'd better stay here, where it's safe.
Eduardo:  (protesting)  No, let me go!  Nobody knows who I am, and I
  can run about, unnoticed by all.  I can help!
Belphanior:  (pondering this)
Otto:  He's right, you know.
Eduardo:  (looking up hopefully)
Belphanior:  Okay, you can go.  But stay away from the fighting, and
  the brigands.  The last thing we want is for you to get caught by
  a fireball or something.
Eduardo:  (grins)  Okay.
Victoria:  I could fly down...
Belphanior:  No, let's stay together until we know more of what's
Otto:  I take it we're teleporting into town?
Belphanior:  No.  I didn't get that spell today...we'll take the
  carriage.  Come on.  (they all scramble into action)


Eduardo:  (looking around as raindrops splatter on his head)  No
Belphanior:  Where the hell is Incus?
Otto:  Maybe he got trapped in town, or even attacked.
Belphanior:  Could they know he's with us?
Eduardo:  (nods)  They seemed to know that whoever rules the town
  lives in this castle.
Belphanior:  Caution may be called for...they might have set up an
  ambush, or a trap.  We need to get down there.  Maybe a flying-
Otto:  Not to worry.  I've got horses in the stable.  (he suddenly
  frowns, turning to Victoria)  I _do_ still have horses in the
  stable, don't I?
Victoria:  (irritated)  Of course.
Belphanior:  We've got horses?  When did this happen?
Otto:  I got 'em about a week ago.  Incus has been tending to them
  when we've been away.  (he leads them to the stable)
Eduardo:  Horses.

  Indeed they were, six large, healthy warhorses.  As the group
approached, the animals began to whine and stamp their hooves...

Belphanior:  What the...?
Victoria:  That would be me.  (she shrugs)  I'll just fly, above you
  as you ride.
Eduardo:  You are a sorceress?
Victoria:  (pats him on the head)  Something like that.
Eduardo:  (grins)  Wow.
Otto:  (exchanging surprised glances with Belphanior)

  Within moments, they were on their way, riding down the slope as
fast as possible without risking a dangerous fall.  Somewhere above,
Victoria presumably flew, though they couldn't see any sign of her
silhouetted against the moon.  Eduardo rode on the back of Otto's
horse, since he was too young and small to manage the reins of one
of the huge warhorses.

Otto:  (to Belphanior, over the wind as they ride)  Did you see that?
  Why didn't...(he cocks his head in Eduardo's direction)  You know.
Eduardo:  (happily watching the trees whiz by as the wind blows his
Belphanior:  Yeah, he should have shriveled up like a prune.  I guess
  she can control that...effect.
Otto:  Handy.
Belphanior:  Yeah, it sure is.
Eduardo:  Are we there yet?

  Most of the way down the mountainside, they came across Herbert in
the path.  The grizzled veteran was bleeding from half a dozen wounds,
but he had somehow staggered this far.

Otto:  (stops his horse, then leaps from the saddle)  Herbert!
Herbert:  The bastards...they've got Winnie and the kids.
Eduardo:  Pooh.
Belphanior:  How'd you get away?
Herbert:  (barely seems surprised to see Belphanior alive and well)
  Fought ' overrun, then broke free after I learned they had
  my family.  They said not to make any more trouble...or they'd kill
  all of them!  (he collapses, griefstricken)
Otto:  They probably let him go, to come up here and get us...
Belphanior:  Yeah.
Otto:  (gives Herbert a healing potion)  Here, drink this.
Herbert:  (feeling better already)  Ahh...
Belphanior:  (he glances around, then up)
Victoria:  (lands, seemingly from nowhere, right behind the elf)
Eduardo:  Hey, where'd you come from?
Victoria:  (to Belphanior and Otto)  They've set a trap, right at the
  bottom of the path where it begins to rise from the town itself.
Otto:  How do you know this?
Victoria:  (smiles thinly)  A little bat told me.
Belphanior:  Hell, that complicated things.  We can either try and go
  around them...or attack.  Yeah.  We'll need to sneak up, silence
  those bandits-
Victoria:  I already did.
Belphanior:  Oh.
Otto:  (impressed)
Victoria:  (to Belphanior)  I've also sent scouts ahead, to assess
  the situation and then report back to me.  We'll meet them at the
  base of the trail.
Belphanior:  Nifty.
Otto:  C'mon, let's get a move on.  Every moment counts here.
Herbert:  I'm coming too.
Belphanior:  You're sure?  Sure you can handle it?
Herbert:  Count on it.
Otto:  Ride with me, since you're heavier.  (he lifts Eduardo over,
  and Belphanior grabs him, whisking the lad onto the horse behind
Eduardo:  Whee.

next:      the plan is hatched, and the fighting begins
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I didn't know where this one was going to go, until I
  had the idea, while brushing my hair, of having Herbert's family
  get taken hostage.  Prepare to see the Special Forces in action.

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