Chapter #442

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human fighter/thief      (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        5/3/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       somewhere in the castle of the Despotrix of Hardby  +
+  Climate:     mild                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "What'd you do?"                                                 +
+  "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse."                        +
+                                          - from _The Godfather_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                CDXLII.  Prisoners of the Despotrix





  After an encounter with the ruler of Hardby and her guardswomen,
Peldor and Tanya find themselves thrown into a dungeon...

Peldor:  Wake up...
Tanya:  Hrmnh?  (she shakes her head to clear the cobwebs)  Ugh.
Peldor:  Sleep well?
Tanya:  Not really...you?
Peldor:  Nope, me neither.
Tanya:  (sits up, her muscles aching)  Ow.

  The red-haired warrior-woman woke to find herself cradled in her
husband's lap.  They were in a sparsely-appointed room, its stone
walls interrupted by a single door with no knob.

Tanya:  (looking around, sizing up the situation)  This cage may be
  gilded, but it's still a cage.
Peldor:  (nods)  A bit more lavish than a prison cell, I guess.
Tanya:  No way out?
Peldor:  Nope.  The walls are solid stone, and that door's at least
  three inches thick.  It doesn't have any knob, at least not on this
  side, and I can't get at any of the hinges or seams.
Tanya:  (searching herself)  No weapons.
Peldor:  Or items - they took everything.  Even the rings we had.
Tanya:  That Despotrix-woman must have been smart enough to know of
  our magical possessions.
Peldor:  She's a powerful one, all right.  I've never been frozen in
  place by a single word before.
Tanya:  And that wand she had...I'm still sore all over from that.
Peldor:  Really?  (he wonders why he isn't feeling the same effects)
Tanya:  (examining the simple bunk that rests against one wall)  An
  old bunk and a water-basin.  How considerate of them.
Peldor:  It could be worse.
Tanya:  (nods)  I wonder why she didn't just kill us?
Peldor:  (shrugs)  She probably knows better than to kill a Peldor.
Tanya:  Get serious.
Peldor:  I _am_ serious.
Tanya:  Hrmph.  Maybe she knew we weren't responsible for any of that
  trouble, back at the tavern.
Peldor:  Actually, if I had to venture a guess, I'd say she needs us
  for something.
disembodied voice:  Very astute, Peldor...Peldor of Greyhawk.
Peldor:  (looking around, he attempts to pinpoint the source of the
  voice)  Just call me Peldor.
disembodied voice:  As you wish.
Tanya:  (recognizing the voice)  Show yourself, you witch!
disembodied voice:  Such impudence!  Such arrogance!
Peldor:  You haven't seen anything yet.
disembodied voice:  I _was_ right.  You _are_ the perfect agents.
Tanya:  I don't care for the sound of that...
Peldor:  (nods)  Peldor is nobody's pawn.
disembodied voice:  You two really aren't in any position to argue.
Tanya:  We're not arguing, we're just telling you to f-
Peldor:  (changing the subject, in the hopes of hastening whatever
  discussion will be had)  Where's Reuben?
disembodied voice:  You need not concern yourself with the brigand
  any longer.
Tanya:  Why's that?
disembodied voice:  Those men were murderers, looters, pillagers, even
  rapists.  They got what they deserved.
Tanya:  Hmm, can't argue with that.
Peldor:  (frowns)
disembodied voice:  I have need of you two.
Tanya:  Oh?
Peldor:  (smirks)  This oughtta be good.
disembodied voice:  Good or otherwise, you have no choice in the
  matter.
Tanya:  Bah.
Peldor:  Spill it, lady.  What do you want from us?
Despotrix:  (materializes in the room, sitting cross-legged several
  feet above the floor)  A simple mission, to a faraway land.
Tanya:  (immediately, lightning-fast, she lunges toward the woman -
  and passes right through the Despotrix)  Damn!
Despotrix:  And you call _me_ harsh?
Peldor:  We didn't lock you up in a tiny room and kill your friends.
Despotrix:  Stop fooling yourself.  Those buffoons weren't your friends.
Peldor:  True, but still...
Tanya:  (scowling at the rather realistic illusion before her and
  Peldor)
Despotrix:  I appear to you as an image because it is both trivial and
  safe.
Tanya:  What, do you read minds, too?
Despotrix:  As a matter of fact, I do.
Peldor:  Since we don't seem to have much choice, tell us of this
  quest to a faraway land.
Despotrix:  Good...at last, you are beginning to see.
Tanya:  Just tell us the story, okay?
Despotrix:  There is no story...just a brief tale, a legend, actually.
  Far to the west, in the Sultanate of Zeif, there is something that
  I want.
Peldor:  We all want something.  So what's the catch?
Despotrix:  This particular "something" is a large and highly magical
  ruby...a wondrous gemstone hidden deep within the treasure vaults
  of the Sultan!
Tanya:  Oh.
Peldor:  A giant magical ruby, eh?
Despotrix:  Of course, the Sultan's vault is well-protected, deep
  within the Imperial Palace.
Peldor:  Naturally.
Tanya:  Why us?  You're obviously a sorceress of no small power.  Why
  not just do it yourself, or empower some minions?
Despotrix:  Because, my dear, the Sultan knows who I am and what I can
  do - we met once before, when I tried to take the ruby.  (she, or
  more accurately, her image, frowns)  Besides, rulers of cities and
  kingdoms do not simply gallivant halfway across the world in search
  of long-lost treasures.
Peldor:  Of course not...not when you have other people you can trick
  or coerce into the job.
Despotrix:  (nods)  Besides, the Sultan's treasure chambers will no
  doubt be filled to the roofs with all manner of other loot, ripe
  for the taking.
Peldor:  (thinking of those legendary vaults, rumored to be piled high
  with the finest treasures in all of Oerth)  A good point.
Despotrix:  My proposal is simple:  you retrieve that gemstone for
  me, and in return, you go free and unharmed.
Tanya:  What a deal.
Peldor:  And if we refuse?
Despotrix:  (counting on her fingers)  Hanging...the headsman's axe...
  boiling oil...starvation...
Peldor:  (his eyes widen)  I hear the weather's great in Zeif, this
  time of year.  When do we leave?
Despotrix:  Tomorrow, if you like, or the next day.  Take your time.
  I have sought this gemstone for a decade now; a few days will not
  matter much.
Tanya:  Good.  At least we're not subject to a time limit.
Despotrix:  I shall arrange for transportation, provisions, guards,
  whatever you might need.
Peldor:  How nifty.
Despotrix:  And, of course, your weapons and items shall be returned
  to you.  (she looks to one side, seeing something that the thieves
  don't)  I must be away now.  Someone will come for you shortly.
  (her image blinks out)
Tanya:  Well, how do you like that?
Peldor:  Not much, but we've gotta do it, it seems.  (he grins)  But
  rest assured, we're going to find some way to turn this to our
  advantage.





next:      away they go
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
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:     We have a poet among us.  Written by David Murphy, and
  sung to the tune of Soul Asylum's "Without A Trace", I give you:



The Ballad of Peldor & Tanya
  by David P. Murphy
-------------------------------------

I fell in love with a barmaid
Went through thick & thin
Finally proposed to her
We had a good inn
We had the best food
We had a casino
Everyone loved us
And told us so
Now I'm left in a daze
I want to leave without a trace

After all those adventures
Thought I'd settle down
Tried something different
Enjoying life in a town
Enemies from the past and more dangers
Demons, undead, evil shapechangers
But the worst of the mix
is Greyhawk politics
I need to leave without a trace

I wanted to be the Guildmaster
Sure I had a lock
Rejected on my wedding day
They just wanted to mock
True friends remain
but good times fade
Stabbed in the back
Ruined the plans I had made
I'm out of this thieving race
Won't settle for second place
We've packed the leather and lace
We're gonna leave without a trace



(and, for reference purposes...)



Without a Trace
  by Soul Asylum
-------------------------------------

I fell in love with a hooker
She laughed in my face
So seriously I took her
I was a disgrace
I was out of line
I was out of place
Out of time to save face
See the open mouth of my suitcase
Saying leave this place
Leave without a trace

I tried to get a good job
with honest pay
I might as well join the mob
The benefits are okay
Standing in the sun with a popsicle
Everything is possible
With a lot of luck and a pretty face
And some time to waste
Leave without a trace

I tried to dance at a funeral
New Orleans style
I joined the Grave Dancers Union
I had to file
Trying to do the right thing
play it straight
The right thing changes
from state to state
Don't forget to take your mace
If you're out walking late
I liked to see your face
You left without a trace
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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