Chapter #464

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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) +
+                                                                   +
+  Deborah, captain of the Despotrix' guardswomen              (CG) +
+  Christina, a guardswoman                                    (NG) +
+  Ellie, a guardswoman                                        (LG) +
+  Monique, a guardswoman                                       (N) +
+  Sarah, a guardswoman                                        (CN) +
+                                                                   +
+  Murad, the Sultan of Zeif                                   (CG) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        6/17/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        shortly before dawn                                 +
+  Place:       the palace of the Sultan of Zeif                    +
+  Climate:     pleasant                                            +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I am altering the deal.  Pray that I do not alter it further."  +
+                     - Darth Vader, from _The Empire Strikes Back_ +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                       CDLXIV.  Just Due





  Peldor (who in one night has broken into the palace, fought a genie,
been captured, escaped, fought a giant snake, and sent a Vizier to his
doom) has finally managed to settle things down.  As he converses with
the Sultan of Zeif, however, six women whom he knows rather well have
just been escorted into the throne room, under armed guard...

palace guard:  Forgive me, O Great Eminence, but we caught these women
  trying to break into the palace.
Sultan:  (leans forward, dropping his grapes as he ogles the new
  arrivals, his eyes gleaming)  Ah!
Peldor:  (keeps his mouth shut, not wanting to give away one of his
  aces-up-his-sleeve)
Sultan:  (claps his hands)  Bring them to me!

  As the women approached the throne, one of them, a fiery-haired
warrior, started in surprise as she saw Peldor sitting at the side
of the Sultan.

Tanya:  Peldor!  What in the world are you _doing_ in here?!?
Peldor:  Having a snack, of course.
Sultan:  (shifts his glance to Peldor, if only for a moment)  You know
  these women?
Peldor:  Uh...yeah.
Sultan:  (thinks for a moment)  Ah!  Of course!  Your woman accompanied
  you here!
Tanya:  (irritated)  I'm not his woman, I'm his wife!  (to Peldor)  We
  couldn't wait for you any longer - we were sure that something bad
  had happened to you!
Peldor:  Yeah, I was just discussing that with Slim here.
Sultan:  (eyeing the women with approval)  Ahhh...(to Peldor)  Perhaps
  you'll sell them to me?
Peldor:  I don't think so.
Sultan:  (spreads his hands, grinning)  Everything's negotiable.
Peldor:  Not this time.
Sultan:  A shame...
Ellie:  (in a low voice)  I don't care for the way he's looking at us.
Christina:  Never mind the fact that we can't understand what he's
  saying...
Monique:  If he messes with me I'll cut his balls off and feed them to
  him.
Sarah:  Ow.
Peldor:  (to the Sultan)  We need to resolve all of this...
Sultan:  (nods)
Kassim:  (cracks his knuckles)  WHAT SHALL I DO, MASTER?
Sultan:  Do?  (he looks around)  Summon the royal chefs!  I desire
  a feast!  (ignoring Peldor, he addresses the warrior-women)  Anyone
  else hungry?
Deborah:  (frowning in disbelief)  It's almost dawn!
Sultan:  (grins broadly)  Late dinner, early breakfast...what's the
  difference, in the great scale of things?

  Soon, Peldor and his companions were lying on firm pillows, awaiting
the arrival of the food while talking with the Sultan, Kassim, and
various royal personages.  Although he kept gazing at the women with
obvious lust, the Sultan didn't seem inclined to press the issue.

Peldor:  You are an honorable ruler.
Sultan:  (nods)  Indeed.
Tanya:  (somewhat impatient, perfectly justifiable since she's spent
  the last few hours with the guardswomen, waiting and wondering what
  had become of Peldor)  Look, can you help us or not?
Sultan:  Typically, my dear fire-hair, I would never even think of
  helping a cause such as yours.  (he frowns)  However, since Peldor
  here is such a fine fellow, and also because you are such a comely
  young woman, and last but not least because I hate that Despotrix
  bitch, I shall help you.
Peldor:  We would be most grateful.  (he realizes that it's a good
  thing all the guardswomen can't understand the local language)
Deborah:  (holds her tongue, realizing that the Sultan might very well
  throw them all in the dungeons if angered)
Tanya:  Help us?  How?
Sultan:  By giving you the gem, of course!
Peldor:  No, no, that would be too great a boon.  Let me buy it from
  you.
Sultan:  (shakes his head)  No - it shall be a gift.  My gift to you.
Peldor:  I couldn't possibly accept...
Sultan:  I insist.
Peldor:  Okay, it's a deal.
Sultan:  I thought you might see it my way.

  The feast came to a close, and Peldor wanted to get the gem and
contact the Despotrix using her crystal ball.  The Sultan, however,
wouldn't have any of it; he insisted that everyone rest and recuperate
in the royal guest chambers.  There would be time enough, he said, for
the ruby to be delivered later.  To be polite (and also because they
weren't in any rush to satisfy the Despotrix) Peldor and Tanya agreed
to these terms, and made Deborah agree.

Peldor:  I'm sorry, but we really don't have any other option.
Deborah:  (nods)  Very well.
Tanya:  The Sultan said we'd negotiate tonight, over another feast.
Christina:  I don't know if I can _handle_ another spicy dinner like
  that!
Monique:  Wimp.
Sarah:  (chewing on mushrooms she keeps pulling from a pocket)
Ellie:  Did you take those from the feast?
Sarah:  (shrugs)  It seemed like an all-you-can-eat affair.
Peldor:  Hmm, you don't know a fellow by the name of Peyote, do you?
Sarah:  (her head turned, she looks startled, but Peldor doesn't see)
  Nnnooo...
Peldor:  Oh, well.  (to Tanya)  C'mon, I'm beat.
Tanya:  Me, too.

  Royal guards escorted them to adjoining guest chambers on the upper
floors of the palace.  None of them intended to sleep all day, but
they were bone-weary, and without meaning to, they did indeed slumber
through the hottest part of the day.  The sun was but a sliver on the
western horizon when the companions rose, bathed, dressed, and made
their way to the supper table.  The same guards who summoned them
escorted them to the great feast-hall.  The chamber had been freshly
decked-out, displaying all the myriad and wondrous splendors of the
Western world.  Acrobats mixed with fire-eaters and sword-swallowers;
animal-tamers alternated performances with belly-dancers.  Strange and
exotic music was played by a troupe, some of their instruments like
none that the adventurers had seen before.
  Peldor and Tanya arrived a bit later than the others, and shortly
after they arrived, the Sultan and Kassim entered the hall.  All the
royal guards, servers, and entertainers bowed in deference.  The
ruler took his seat at the head of the feasting-table, and the great
meal commenced.  They talked of battles, and adventures, and wonders
that each of their worlds held, unique from the other.  It was only
after the seventh course, a dessert of epic proportions, that the
Sultan bade Peldor use the crystal ball.

Peldor:  (somewhat reluctant)
Sultan:  Go on, use it.
Peldor:  (finally nods, and begins the procedure to initiate the power
  of the device)

  Momentarily, the sullen face of the Despotrix appeared within the
magical scrying-sphere.

Despotrix:  You have the ruby?
Peldor:  (holds the magnificent gemstone up)  Truly a marvelous gem.
Despotrix:  (smiles)  Excellent.  (her expression becomes imperious
  once more)  Now give it to Deborah, along with this crystal ball.
Tanya:  Not so fast.
Despotrix:  (her head turns angrily, within the ball)  Eh?
Tanya:  If we give the gem over, you'll just transport your warriors
  back, and leave us here.
Despotrix:  Don't be foolish!  Give Deborah the gemstone, now!
Peldor:  (shakes his head)  There's been a change of plan.
Despotrix:  Oh, really?
Tanya:  We have a new friend.
Sultan:  (sticks his head within view of the crystal ball)  Aha!
  Surely you remember me?
Despotrix:  (becomes quite upset, cursing profusely in a most un-
  ladylike manner)
Peldor:  Such language...
Despotrix:  (to Deborah)  Deborah!  Take the gem from them by force!
Deborah:  I'm afraid I can't do that, Milady.  The Sultan's forces
  outnumber ours by, oh, three thousand to one.
Despotrix:  Argh!
Peldor:  You want the gemstone?  Pay us.
Sultan:  (laughing richly as he gorges himself on the assembled food)
Despotrix:  I am not amused.
Peldor:  (shrugs indifferently)  Sorry about that.  (he turns to look
  over one shoulder)  Here, I'll call a jester over.
Despotrix:  Foolishness!  My spell will ensure that-
Tanya:  Your stupid spell will ensure nothing, because it's been
  dispelled!
Despotrix:  (clearly surprised)
Deborah:  (equally surprised)
Despotrix:  Wh-  what do you mean?
Peldor:  Your evil enchantment has been undone, witch!
Tanya:  (nods, smiling)  In fact, if you want the ruby now, you're
  going to have to pay dearly for it.
Despotrix:  (screaming and cursing again)
Sultan:  (laughing so hard that his face is red, he drapes a curtain
  over the ball)
Despotrix:  (still yelling, under the cloth and unseen)  Remove that
  this instant!
Sultan:  Ho, ho, ho.  Not so fast, my good lady.  (he addresses the
  cloaked sphere, moving close)  If you wish to speak in my court,
  you must be civil.
Despotrix:  (still yelling and screaming from within the crystal ball)
Sultan:  (waves Deborah away as she moves to uncover the item)
  Don't.
Peldor:  Maybe she'll calm down eventually.

  And eventually, she did, at which point the Sultan removed the cloth
curtain from the scrying-sphere.  Peldor began his negotiations, and
the woman was quite displeased.  Every time she became angry, and in
the Sultan's opinion, unreasonable, he tossed the curtain back over
her image.  The Sultan kept armed guards around Deborah and the others,
ostensibly to keep them from interfering in the discussion, but in
truth because of a suggestion by Peldor.  The master thief didn't want
the guardswomen, who were only doing their job, to suffer later ill
consequences on his account.
  At long last, after being worn down by repeated offers and counter-
offers, and double-teamed by Peldor and Tanya (with the occasional
word from the Sultan) the Despotrix reached an agreement with her
foes halfway across the continent.

Despotrix:  Very well, I will send you the treasure you demand.
Tanya:  (smiling firmly)  Good.
Despotrix:  I'll use the crystal ball to focus in, then deliver your
  money.
Peldor:  (points a silver fork at her image)  You have until I finish
  this piece of pie to do it, or the deal's off.
Tanya:  Hurry up and eat that, dear.
Despotrix:  Grr...(she snaps at a servant, out of the range of the
  ball)

  Momentarily, a chest appeared on the table before Deborah; it was
filled to the brim with gemstones and jewelry.  The sum value of this
assorted treasure was greater than that of the gigantic ruby - no mere
coincidence.

Despotrix:  Now, the ruby.
Sultan:  Not so fast!  (he turns to his genie)  Kassim, check this
  treasure...make sure that no vile magicks or traps lie over it.
Kassim:  (does so, his otherworldly powers availing him greatly in
  this endeavor)
Peldor:  (waits, drumming his fingers, until the genie looks up and
  nods silently)
Sultan:  Ah!
Tanya:  (nods, and addresses the crystal ball, though she's not facing
  it)  _Now_, the ruby.
Peldor:  (gazing into the gem's depths one last time, he then puts it
  in Deborah's capable hands)  Here you go.
Deborah:  (takes the gem, awed at its size and weight, not to mention
  the glittering within)
Tanya:  (to the crystal ball)  Happy now?
Despotrix:  No, but I don't seem to have a choice.

  Soon, the time had come to say farewells, for the Despotrix wanted
her minions back in Hardby immediately.

Peldor:  (hands the guard-captain a skimpy harem-girl's outfit)  A...
  going-away gift.  Just for you.
Deborah:  (smiles)  When first we met, I'd have killed you for that.
  But now...well, I'll just let you off with a warning.
Peldor:  Nifty, says I.
Tanya:  (clasping hands with each of the guardswomen in turn)  I can't
  say it's been fun, but it's definitely gotten better.
Ellie:  Hang in there, girl.  You'll make a fine wife.
Christina:  She already is, if you ask me.
Sarah:  You're a lucky woman, Tanya...but then, Peldor's a lucky man
  too.
Monique:  Keep the faith.
Deborah:  (holding the crystal orb and the ruby, as the former begins
  to glow)  Stand close, sisters.  (to Peldor and Tanya)  Perhaps
  we'll meet again, someday, under better circumstances.
Tanya:  I hope so.
Peldor:  (nods)

  Suddenly, a magical glow enveloped the six guardswomen, and just like
that, they were gone.  Peldor and Tanya watched them go, hand in hand.

Tanya:  Whew...so that's that.
Peldor:  I hope they don't get in trouble.
Tanya:  Me, too.  So what now?
Peldor:  (shrugs, and eyes the treasure in the chest before him)  We'll
  stay here for awhile...see what adventures crop up.
Sultan:  (smiles broadly)  I might be able to help with that.  In the
  meanwhile, consider yourselves my esteemed guests.  (recalling the
  Despotrix' anger, he chuckles)  Gods, what a jest!





next:      loose ends in other places
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:     Yes, Peldor did retrive his longsword from the snake's
  eye in #462.
    As I write this, it's Monday, September 30th, 1996.  24 hours
  from now, I'll be at the KISS concert in the Omni, rocking my ass
  off.  In the next episode, #465, I'll tell you how it went.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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