Chapter #463

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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) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        6/17/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        the middle of the night                             +
+  Place:       the palace of the Sultan of Zeif                    +
+  Climate:     pleasant                                            +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I think I must have one of those faces you can't help           +
+   believing."                                                     +
+                                   - Norman Bates, from _Psycho_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





              CDLXIII.  The Sultan Makes His Move





  After a series of strange and sometimes improbable adventures in
the royal palace, Peldor now seeks to escape from the lower levels...

Peldor:  (retracing his steps through the mazelike secret passages,
  he moves stealthily but surely)

  In truth, the thief didn't plan on leaving just yet.  He had an
idea about getting back into the treasure vaults and finishing his
mission...if he could only find them.  The passages and chambers were
plentiful, enough even to confuse the most intrepid of explorers.  In
addition, Peldor hadn't exactly been mapping as he moved previously
this night.  Nevertheless, skill and luck were on his side, as usual,
and a short time later, he re-emerged in the treasure vaults.

Peldor:  (smiles to himself)

  Everything was as it had been before, except that the giant, bald
genie was nowhere to be found.  This was, of course, ideal.  Peldor
moved about the chamber, ignoring gold and silver as he searched for
the ruby he needed.  He thought about pocketing some of the other
things, but it wasn't worth the encumbrance and effort, and time was
short...shorter than he knew.

Sultan:  (appears from behind a mountain of coins, borne on his litter
  and preceded by his genie)  Well, hello again!
Peldor:  (looks around)  You talking to me?
Sultan:  Do not flee, as you did before.
Peldor:  (looks around, acting confused)
Kassim:  (the genie)  I SAW YOU LEAVE BEFORE, BUT THAT FOUL EFREET
  OCCUPIED MY FULL ATTENTION.
Sultan:  Indeed.  So...(he points at Peldor)  What have you done with
  that weasel of a Vizier?
Peldor:  What do you mean, what did _I_ do with him?
Kassim:  YOU _DID_ CHASE HIM OUT OF THE DUNGEON.  (he reels slightly,
  as if exhausted)
Peldor:  Yeah, well...he met a snake and never came back.
Sultan:  My pet snake?
Peldor:  Maybe the same.  (he shrugs)
Sultan:  I'm rather upset with you - it isn't often that someone
  sneaks in and runs amok.
Peldor:  (shrugs again)
Sultan:  Then again, you did get rid of that worm, the Vizier.  What
  a fool!
Peldor:  I figured it was either him or me who had to die...I chose
  him.
Kassim:  (smirks wearily)
Sultan:  We must talk...about why you came here, and how.  This, in
  exchange for your life.  What say you?
Peldor:  My life is my own, to give or not.
Sultan:  Agreed, but let us have a truce, at least for now.
Peldor:  Your word, then:  no matter what, I leave this palace alive
  and well.
Sultan:  And carrying no more than you entered with.  (he spreads his
  hands, smiling)  You worry too much, foreigner!  But if it makes you
  feel more comfortable, you have my word:  the word of Murad, Sultan
  of Zeif!
Peldor:  Good enough.

  The Sultan bade his servants to take him to his throne room; the
genie and guards followed, the latter group less the four sent to go
find the Vizier's remains, if there were any.

Peldor:  There won't be.  That snake ate him whole.  (he eyes the
  Sultan)  You ought to know that, if it was your snake.
Sultan:  (shakes his head)  Marvis has been known to regurgitate bad
  meals.
Peldor:  Marvis?
Sultan:  Even the snake must have a name, no?
Peldor:  I guess so...hmm, so you believe me?
Sultan:  Is there some reason I shouldn't?
Peldor:  I hate to play the devil's advocate against myself - it's a
  tactically unsound idea - but how do you know I'm telling the truth
  at all?
Sultan:  (laughs loudly, holding up one hand)  This ring, rogue!  It
  won't let me hear lies!
Peldor:  Ah.
Sultan:  A most useful item, no?
Peldor:  Sure thing.  (he wonders if this ring works like the ring of
  truth he used to have)  Heh.

  Soon, they arrived at the throne room, a vast and splendorous hall.
Its domed ceiling, which tapered up to a point, was constructed of
polished marble, the floors of polished and gleaming lapis lazuli.
The alabaster columns which linked the two were intricately carved
renditions of larger-than-life heroes and beasts.  A thick, plush
crimson rug led to the throne of Murad.
  After Peldor finished taking in all these sights, he noticed other
things, centered around the throne itself.  To one side was a large
table, piled high with fine food and drink.  Kneeling around this
oversized platter were several scantily-clad young women.

Sultan:  (notices Peldor noticing the women)  Ah, you like?
Peldor:  Of course, but I'm married.
Sultan:  Ah.  A shame.  Might you reconsider?  Any of these, and a
  dozen more, can be yours for the night, if you wish.
Peldor:  (shakes his head)  No, I'm sure.  But thanks for the offer.
Sultan:  (takes a cooked, steaming leg of some animal, and bites into
  it heartily)  Mmph, good.
Kassim:  (scratching at a burned flesh wound, presumably from the
  fight with Jafu, he looks drawn and haggard, despite his great
  frame and otherworldly strength)
Peldor:  Er..if I might ask, what happened to the fire-creature?
Kassim:  HE IS GONE...RETURNED TO THE CITY OF BRASS.
Sultan:  (grins)  A good fight, it was turning out to be.  Then, the
  efreet suddenly disappeared, laughing.
Kassim:  THE ENCHANTMENT BINDING HIM TO THIS PLANE PROBABLY VANISHED
  WHEN THE VIZIER DIED.
Peldor:  (nods)  That makes sense.
Sultan:  And that's another debt I owe you - poor Kassim here was
  struggling greatly in that battle.
Kassim:  (shrugs)  IT WAS A CLOSE THING, MASTER...AND I'VE HAD A LONG
  DAY.
Sultan:  Of course, good Kassim...and I am grateful.  For that act I
  promise you your freedom, once your service with me is at an end.
Kassim: (a bright look invades his weary demeanor)  MY THANKS, O GREAT
  ONE!
Sultan:  You've served well, and honor demands that I be fair.
Peldor:  Hmm...if you're a man of honor, perhaps you'll barter with
  me for the help I've given you this night.
Sultan:  Let's not forget the fact that you invaded my palace.  (he
  smiles, taking a bunch of grapes from one of his concubines, and
  pops a grape into his mouth)  That must be weighed into this as
  well, no?
Peldor:  Everything's negotiable.
Sultan:  Well, then...are you willing to tell me your story?
Peldor:  (thinking, he weighs his options)  I guess there's no reason
  not to, at this point.

  Skipping certain details, such as where he came from and the fact
that his wife was here in Zeif with companions, Peldor paraphrased
his problem with the Despotrix, and his mission to the Sultan's
remote kingdom.  Now that he knew the Sultan had a ring that detected
lies, he was careful not to tell any - he just omitted unnecessary
details.

Peldor:  ...and that's it.  If I can't deliver the ruby, both my wife
  and I will suffer.
Sultan:  Amazing!
Peldor:  Which part?
Sultan:  That gemstone she covets...it is worthless to me.
Peldor:  WHAT?!?
Kassim:  (chuckles)
Sultan:  It's a trinket...nothing more.  It's got some stupid power
  for wizards who know how to use it, but to me, it's just another
  huge gemstone.
Peldor:  Oh.
Sultan:  In fact, the only reason I didn't ever trade or sell it to
  her was that she offended me once, years ago.  If she'd just asked
  for the ruby nicely...
Peldor:  I can buy it from you, then?
Sultan:  Not so fast.  An enemy of the Despotrix isn't necessarily a
  friend of mine.
Peldor:  Surely we can work something out?
Sultan:  We shall see-

  Their discussion was interrupted by a commotion from the entry doors
of the throne room.  A dozen guards escorted six women into the great
hall; the ladies were all armed, though their weapons weren't in their
hands.  This might have had something to do with the numerous short-
bows that were pointed at them.






next:      wrapup
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
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           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:     Nope.
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