Chapter #470

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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) +
+                                                                   +
+  Helgate's town guards:                                           +
+    Aja           10th level female human priestess of Wee Jas(LN) +
+    Jutokai        7th level human fighter/archer              (N) +
+    Kinichi        7th level human ranger                     (CG) +
+    Razor Charlie  8th level human fighter                    (CN) +
+    Skektek        8th level human wizard                     (CN) +
+    Ys            13th level reptilian fighter                 (N) +
+  Date:        5/6/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       the remote mountain town of Helgate                 +
+  Climate:     cold and raining                                    +
+  "Make a bet every day, otherwise you might walk around lucky     +
+   and never know it."                                             +
+                                                    -Jimmy Jones   +

                     CDLXX.  Chilling Out

  On a particularly dreary evening in Helgate, the town's elite guards
are gathered indoors, playing cards around a large, stained, chipped
oaken table.

Otto:  Call.  (everyone lays their cards on the table)
Ys:  (having already folded, he watches, chewing on a roasted chicken
  and grinning a fanged grin)  Interesting.
Jutokai:  Shit!  (he flings his cards down)
Kinichi:  (shakes his head, smiling)
Skektek:  I lose again, too?
Ys:  (leans over, eyeing the wizard's cards)  You lose again.
Skektek:  Maybe this game isn't for me.
Otto:  Keep at it.  You'll improve.
Razor Charlie:  (sneers at his cards)
Ys:  You'll never be a card-player, my friend.
Razor Charlie:  (sneers at Ys)
Ys:  (gurgles with mirth)
Aja:  (sitting back, she doesn't participate)
Otto:  (chewing on a piece of blackroot, he turns to her)  What's your
Aja:  (shrugs)  I'm not a card-player.
Jutokai:  Always time to learn.
Aja:  (smiles)  From the way your luck is running tonight, you're not
  one to talk.

  The seven were in the new barracks, which wasn't quite done but
was close enough for Otto's liking.  True, some shingles still needed
nailing on the roof, and the front deck wasn't quite finished.  Still,
a roaring fire raged away in the brick fireplace behind the circular
table.  The thick, sturdy front door was locked and barred, and did a
good job of keeping the cold out.  The quarters were finished, and
the newly-recruited guards had moved in.  A storage room contained
crates of dried food and kegs of wine and water.  From the outside,
the place might not have looked impressive, but inside, it was quite

Otto:  I take it all of you are pleased with the accommodations?
Ys:  (grins toothily)  Right you are.  My bed actually holds me without
Otto:  Ah.
Jutokai:  (nods in agreement)  A sweet deal, to be sure.
Aja:  Very sweet.
Skektek:  The private rooms are is the pay.
Kinichi:  This part about being "on-call" gives me doubts, though.
Otto:  Trust me, it could be worse.
Razor Charlie:  (thinking about the whorehouse and what might wait
  within, he grins crookedly)
Skektek:  (stands and stretches, taking a break from the cards, and
  walks over to the barred window)  Does it ever stop raining here?
Otto:  Yeah, but then the fog rolls in.
Aja:  Some religions hold that fog is a favorable omen.
Otto:  (shakes his head)  Don't believe everything you hear.
Jutokai:  (shuffling the deck)
Ys:  (watching with interest, as he doesn't possess the combination
  of manual dexterity and thin fingers that make one a champion card-
Kinichi:  Deal again.  I tire of losing.
Otto:  (refills several goblets from a wine-bottle)  Let's have at it,

  Otto was having a pretty good time of it, being about fifty gold
coins up at the moment.  Jutokai was pretty good, while Kinichi was
just above-average and Skektek was an amateur.  Razor Charlie wasn't
really in the game, only making occasional non-trivial bets and more
often than not folding early in the game.  Ys was hard to gauge, for
every time he won big, his next play lost big; he seemed to average
out as the time passed.  Otto hadn't played cards for money in years,
though this wasn't the same.  That last time, he had won a fairly
good-sized pot, well over five hundred pieces of gold, only to lose
it during the resultant brawl.  That was the way things went, though,
and besides, he was among friends now.

Ys:  I call.
Otto:  (lays down his five cards)  Read 'em and weep, boys.
Aja:  Bah.
Skektek:  (half-drunk)  Hey, if you want to play, play.  If not, don't
Aja:  (considers zapping the wizard with some minor spell, but decides
  against it)
Jutokai:  (lays down his cards)  I can't be sure, but I think this
  hand beats that one...
Kinichi:  Ah!
Otto:  So it it does.
Ys:  (frowns as he looks at his own cards)
Jutokai:  (rakes in the small pile of coinage)  Heh, heh.
Aja:  Well, it's about damn time.
Skektek:  You can say that again.

  Meanwhile, Belphanior and Victoria were approaching, outside, still
a short walk from the guardhouse.  They argued in low voices as they
walked through the puddle-filled cobblestone streets.

Victoria:  You can use me on this one, and you know it!
Belphanior:  Yes, but I don't want you giving your...identity away.
Victoria:  To your own guards?
Belphanior:  Hey, they're new.  I don't trust them yet.
Victoria:  But they helped us out against Qurac and his brood - they
  probably already know...
Belphanior:  (shakes his head, adamant)  I still want to play it safe.
Victoria:  I understand your I'll go, but not use any of
  my abilities, and avoid revealing myself.
Belphanior:  (ponders this as he straightens his sword in its belt-
  loop)  Hmm.
Victoria:  Ah, so you do agree.
Belphanior:  I didn't say that.
Victoria:  But you're thinking it.
Belphanior:  I could be.  (he puts his arm around her, and she moves
  close)  Look, just be careful, all right?  I don't want any risks.
Victoria:  (smiles)  I know the risks as well as you do...but fear not.
  I'll keep things in check.
Belphanior:  Very well, then.  (they walk up the steps, to the front
  door of the guardhouse)
Victoria:  This building turned out well.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (he tries the door)  Hmm, it's locked.  (he knocks)
  What are they doing in there?
Victoria:  Do you really want to hear my ideas?
Belphanior:  No, I guess I'd better not-  ah.  (the door opens to reveal
  Otto standing there, limned by the firelight)
Otto:  Hi there!  Come to join us?
Belphanior:  Don't mind if I do.  (he and Victoria enter the building,
  hanging their dripping cloaks on wooden pegs to one side of the door)
Victoria:  Good evening.
Otto:  (eyeing the way her drenched garments cling to her body)  Hello
Belphanior:  (looking around)  Where's that roasted meat I smell?
Otto:  In the kitchen, help yourself.  (he returns to the table and the
  game)  Now where was I?
Skektek:  You were about to up the ante by five gold pieces.
Otto:  Ah, yes, so I was!

  Belphanior went to the kitchen, returning soon after with a heaping
plate of near-bloody meat and a jug of red wine.

Victoria:  (eyeing the meat)  Bloody...just the way I like it.
Razor Charlie:  (watching her with mingled interest and caution)
Otto:  (spits out his blackroot, digs more from a pocket, and resumes
  his chewing)  We had to cook it like that for Ys.  (he jerks a thumb
  at the big reptilian)
Ys:  (shrugs)  I prefer raw meat.
Jutokai:  Not that any of us really mind it, either.
Aja:  I do.  (she dines on a significantly more well-done bit of meat)
Skektek:  (wondering how well meat could be cooked using lightning
Victoria:  Mmm.  (consuming her meal quickly and efficiently)  Oh, I
  certainly don't mind, not at all.
Kinichi:  (having watched Belphanior since he entered, he finally speaks
  up)  I know that look.
Belphanior:  Pardon?
Kinichi:  That look.  You didn't come here just to have supper with us.
  Something is happening...
Belphanior:  (sets his plate aside and stands)  I was just getting to
Otto:  (puts his cards down)  What's up?
Belphanior:  Ahem.  (he wipes his mouth, dropping the napkin next to
  his plate)  As you all know by now, Helgate does quite a bit of
  business from mining.
Ys:  (nods)  Problems with the miners and their claims?
Belphanior:  (shakes his head)  Something more sinister...people are
  disappearing from the mines.
Skektek:  Aie.
Otto:  (tapping his sword's pommel)  This sounds like a job!
Belphanior:  You've got that right.  We leave at midnight.
Jutokai:  (clearly surprised)  Midnight?
Aja:  Tonight?
Belphanior:  That's when the miners are disappearing, so that's when
  we'll roam about.  Remember, you don't have to like it, you just
  have to do it.

next:      into the mines
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I can guarantee you that it's not a Horta in those mines.

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