Chapter #502

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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 1991-7 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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Alindyar     17th level drow mage                            (N) +
+    Lyra       13th level female drow mage                     (N) +
+  Belphanior  (14th)^3 level elven warrior/wizard/thief       (CN) +
+    Otto        8th/10th level dwarven warrior/thief          (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                                +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven warrior                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven warrior                     (NG) +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human warrior/thief      (N) +
+    Bosco      12th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+  Rillen       18th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        7/1/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        early evening                                       +
+  Place:       a no-longer-smoldering pile of ashes in Greyhawk    +
+  Climate:     warm, slightly overcast                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "All for one...and more for me."                                 +
+              - Cardinal Richelieu, from _The Three Musketeers_    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                     DII.  From the Ashes





  While certain of their companions attend to other, grimmer business,
Peldor and company must deal with the matter of the Green Dragon Inn,
which was recently burned to the ground...

Peldor:  (standing before the immense pile of ash, arms crossed)
Bosco:  (somewhat worried)  Say something.
Peldor:  Something...
Mongo:  (to Gorin)  Hell, I kinda figured Orcus might have been
  playing a bluff there.
Gorin:  Looks like he wasn't.
Otto:  You can say that again...

  Of the inn, there was nothing salvageable remaining.  A massive,
ruined heap of ash, it dominated the surrounding streets, its fumes
wafting about at the whim of the wind.  The entire building had been
utterly decimated in the fire, and all of the surrounding trees had
gone up as well.  City officials still milled about, keeping the fire
zone cordoned off.

Belphanior:  (glancing about sadly)  Hell.
Mongo:  (regards the elf)  Too bad, isn't it?
Belphanior:  Huh?
Mongo:  Maybe this wouldn't have happened if we hadn't bargained
  with that gods-damned demon.
Belphanior:  Excuse me, but-
Mongo:  No buts!  The whole thing was your fault!  I knew me and Ged
  should've gotten the group to fight!  (he stomps about angrily)
Otto:  (to Gorin)  This wasn't Belphanior's fault.
Gorin:  I know.  (he eyes the storming Mongo)  But who's gonna be
  able to tell _him_ that?
Mongo:  (kicks a stable-looking pile of ash, causing it to dissolve
  into grey dust)  Fuck!
Belphanior:  Look, I know what you're really mad about-
Mongo:  (whirls angrily)  You do?
Belphanior:  Yeah...Ged dying like that.  It's not what I wanted.
Mongo:  You've got that right!  None of us should've died!
Belphanior:  If we hadn't dealt the wand, we _all_ would have died
  in the Abyss, and Orcus would have gotten the wand anyway.
Mongo:  Over my dead body-
Belphanior:  Exactly my point - and Orcus knew it too.
Mongo:  Fuck it!  Fuck that!  I don't know why I ever went along
  with that damned deal...but you had the idea!
Belphanior:  We had no choice-
Mongo:  We ALWAYS have a choice, dammit!
Belphanior:  (growing weary of this, and unwilling to argue, he
  simply floats up into the air)
wispy thing:  (floats away, right behind the elf)  Quarr.
Mongo:  (looks up in surprise)  Hey!

  As Belphanior prepared to glide away, an important-looking fellow
decked out in official city livery stepped forth.

Sental Nurev:  Excuse me, but you can't leave here; we've got some
  questions to ask you.  Besides, you're still wanted in this city-
Belphanior:  Get out of my way.  (he flies higher, ignoring any and
  all protests from below)
Sental:  Well!  The temerity!
Mongo:  He's also stubborn as hell.
Otto:  Look who's talking.  (disgusted, he leaves the scene)
Mongo:  Dammit.
Rillen:  (feeling a bit awkward, he approaches Mongo)  Uh...it's
  not really Belphanior's fault-
Mongo:  (spins on Rillen)  Not again!  Don't try to cover up what
  he did-
Peldor:  (explodes into a yelling tirade)  SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU!
Mongo:  Huh?
Rillen:  Eh?
Alindyar:  (raises an eyebrow)
Peldor:  I'm sick of all this damned stupid arguing!  I'm sorry
  Ged's gone, too, but we did what we had to do - all of us!  I'm
  standing here looking at the remains of my life's savings - and
  all you people can do is _argue_?!?
Mongo:  Uh-
Peldor:  Out!  Everyone, go away!
Gorin:  But-
Peldor:  Everyone!

  Completely quiet now, Mongo walked away, followed by Gorin.
Rillen and Songa headed in another direction, chatting quietly
with each other.  This left Peldor, Tanya, and Bosco; Alindyar
and Lyra stood a short distance away, wordlessly.

Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  He seems upset.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  I'd venture to say we're all upset.
Peldor:  (looking around sullenly)  Better.  Much better.
Sental Nurev:  (reappears from somewhere)  Arson, we're sure of
  it.
Peldor:  (bitterly)  Figured that out yourself, did you?
Sental:  I've checked, and found that you own the land.  When you're
  ready to sell it back to the city, I can put in a word for you...
  get the best price-
Peldor:  I'm not selling the land.
Sental:  -from the city...eh?
Peldor:  I said I'm not selling the land.
Sental:  What?  Why not?
Peldor:  I'm just not.
Sental:  Oh.  Well, if it's the nature of the crime-
Tanya:  (encircles Peldor's arm with her own)  If my husband said
  no, he meant it, so do us a favor and leave us alone for a while.
Sental:  Um...sure.  We'll be in touch if we get any leads.  (he
  makes himself scarce, and the city guardsmen who are about soon
  follow him)
Bosco:  What a clown.
Peldor:  They're all clowns.
Lyra:  (steps forth)  If you need a place to say tonight...clothes...
Tanya:  (puts her hand on the other's shoulder)  Thanks.
Alindyar:  Sental and the others like him must not be told the true
  nature of this business-
Peldor:  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Because the Circle of Eight hasn't
  been properly briefed.  (he looks around forlornly)  Don't worry,
  I won't say a word.

  Elsewhere in Greyhawk...

Mongo:  (drains his mug)  Better.  Not much better, but still better.
Gorin:  You know, they may be right-
Mongo:  Enough.  I don't wanna talk about it.
Gorin:  Gotcha.
Mongo:  (points his mug at a wench)  More.
wench:  (catching the dangerous look in the dwarf's eye, she hastens
  to seek more grog)
Gorin:  So...what are we gonna do now?
Mongo:  Remember that offer from Lord Marcus, of Greyspire?
Gorin:  Yeah, I sure do...you got it right before we left for that
  island, right?
Mongo:  Right.  Well, I think it's high time we checked it out.
Gorin:  Hmm.  Marcus runs his own little army, right?
Mongo:  You got it, kid.  Best mercenaries in the land - even
  better than Perrenland's, from what I hear.  Just the thing, maybe,
  to get away from all the crap we've been through.
Gorin:  Sounds like fun.  When do we leave?
Mongo:  Whenever...
Gorin:  Same procedure as usual?
Mongo:  Right - you find us some new horses, I'll fill the portable
  hole with food and supplies.
Gorin:  I'll get right on it.
Mongo:  No hurry.  I'm in a mood to just sit here and get drunk...

  In a nearby stable...

Rillen:  (brushes his black stallion's mane with his fingers)  I
  see you've taken good care of him.
stable-boy:  Aye, sir.  Though he was takin' to mountin' the mares,
  if ya know what I mean...
Rillen:  (frowns)
Songa:  They will do that.
Rillen:  (feeds the horse a sugar-cube, then turns to the lad)
  What's the cost for this?
stable-boy:  Four gold coins, sir.
Rillen:  (obviously pleased that his horse seems happy)  Here are
  five, lad.  Have a nice day.
stable-boy:  (his eyes widen)
Rillen:  A job well-done.
Songa:  I'll need a horse, too.
Rillen:  True.  Come, I know the best horse-merchant in Greyhawk.
Songa:  You do?
Rillen:  Well, actually, once he tried to sell me my own horse
  back.  Seems he "found" it after I disappeared for a while.
Songa:  Hmm.  Maybe you should have thrown him through a window.
Rillen:  I almost did.
Songa:  (smiles wickedly)
Rillen:  I figure we'll head out tomorrow.
Songa:  (frowns)  Why not today?
Rillen:  Well, there was a good amount of treasure gained from the
  isle...I understand that we'll need to divide it.
Songa:  Wealth...what need have we of wealth?
Rillen:  (whispers something in her ear)
Songa:  (her eyes light up)  Ah!  I never would have suspected!
Rillen:  It's just a matter of finding the right-
stable-boy:  (sticks his head around a corner)  I can take you to
  the stables if you want, sir.
Rillen:  Ah...yes.  We'll be along shortly.

  Still elsewhere, in the city's thieves' guildhall...

Sharyn Messandier:  He finally came back, then?
Simpkin:  Yeah, a few days ago.  I imagine he's none too happy.
Sharyn:  (regards the vile, wrinkled little halfling)  You weren't
  responsible for the fire, were you?
Simpkin:  Wasn't me.
Sharyn:  Too bad.  Whoever did that was a damned genius.
Simpkin:  Or a lunatic.
Sharyn:  Same thing, sometimes.
Simpkin:  Peldor's no threat to your Guildmaster position, you know.
Sharyn:  Then why did he come back?
Simpkin:  Who knows, and who cares?  This is the final nail in the
  coffin:  he'll never get re-established in this city, not after
  this.
Sharyn:  Are you sure?
Simpkin:  From all reports, his entire store of wealth was sunk in
  that inn.  He's ruined.
Sharyn:  (smiles evilly)  Excellent.



  And, back at the pile of ash, only Peldor and Tanya remained,
sifting through the charred rubble and dust.  Everyone else, even
the ever-helpful Bosco, had grown bored or done their job, and left.
Dusk fell as Peldor shuffled through the remains of his inn.

Tanya:  What are you doing?  Let's get out of here...go somewhere
  else.
Peldor:  We will, in a little while.
Tanya:  Face it, we've got to cut our losses.  Just be glad that
  everyone made it out safely, before the place was totalled by the
  fire.  Vinnie...Felicia...Leonardo...all the staff.  We should feel
  lucky.
Peldor:  Oh, I am.  (he moves some charred wood aside with his foot)
Tanya:  You know, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were looking
  for something.
Peldor:  Yup.  (he finds a burnt crossbeam, and slides it aside with
  an effort)
Tanya:  Er...what exactly are you after here?
Peldor:  The cellar.  (suddenly, in front of them, a section of
  floor gives way, dumping heaps of ash and debris into a cavity
  below)  Aha.
Tanya:  What's the point?  Everything in the cellar will be ruined
  too, just like the upper floors.
Peldor:  That's true.  (he slides down into the area below)
Tanya:  What-
Peldor:  (impatiently)  Come on, would you?

  Tanya resigned herself to Peldor's mad quest for remains, and
joined him in the ash below.  She could always take a bath later
tonight.  As for Peldor, he was already scraping soot off of one
stone wall.

Tanya:  What's this?
Peldor:  A wall.  (he looks around)  I'm hunting for the corners
  of the wine cellar.

  After finding one, he began digging at the floor, and shortly,
he found a square plate of steel.

Tanya:  A secret hatch?
Peldor:  Not secret, really.  (he lifts the thing, exposing a small
  and completely blackened little room)
Tanya:  Empty...not to mention destroyed.
Peldor:  That's the idea.  See, there was enough gold and stuff -
  even melted - in the cellar's storerooms to satisfy whatever rats
  might have come looking.  Chests, boxes, and more, all of them
  filled with loot...and all trapped and concealed and so forth.
Tanya:  I sense a "but" coming up here...
Peldor:  But...beneath all that, we have this.  An empty room.  (he
  hops down into it)  Here, I'll give you a hand down.
Tanya:  You have _got_ to be kidding.  (lightly, she leaps down to
  join him in the small cubical space)
Peldor:  (after producing a small lantern, he TKs the hatch back
  closed, overhead)
Tanya:  Gee, if you'd wanted to be alone, we could have gotten a
  room at an inn...
Peldor:  (glances up at the steel hatch)  I just don't want anybody
  to see.
Tanya:  That's generally the idea.  (she frowns)  You don't want
  anybody to see what?
Peldor:  This.  (he produces a scroll)
Tanya:  Casting spells now, are we?
Peldor:  (looking around)  East...south...ah.  (he begins chanting
  while reading the scroll)

  Moments later, the earth before Peldor began to shift and move,
and a narrow tunnel was slowly produced.  The dark passage led
forward and down, at a fairly steep angle, and Peldor aimed his
lantern to light the way.

Tanya:  Hmm.
Peldor:  This scroll was one of many given to me by the drow...I
  just cast a spell of digging.
Tanya:  A tunnel, eh?  Now I'm intrigued.  (she follows him as he
  squeezes into the tiny passage)  Guess a little dirt won't hurt,
  at this point.
Peldor:  It sure won't.

  The tunnel ended in a dull metal plate, within which a door was
set, barely visible.  A tiny keyhole could be seen, and Peldor had
a tiny key in his hand, just like that.

Tanya:  Where...?
Peldor:  I keep this key hidden in my boot.  It looks old and simple,
  but actually, it fits this door.
Tanya:  What's this door made out of?  Not steel, or even iron...
Peldor:  Lead.  It's one side of a lead-lined chamber.
Tanya:  Lead?  Why?
Peldor:  Because, while non-magical, it also blocks magical spells
  and effects that can search for treasure.  (with a turn of the
  key, he opens the door, and they enter a ten-foot-cubical chamber)
  Treasure like...this.
Tanya:  Oh, dear.

  The tiny room contained shelves at its higher areas, and chests
on its floor.  Gemstones of all shapes and sizes covered the thin
wooden shelving; Peldor opened one of the chests to reveal heaps
of gold coins.  Heaps upon heaps, actually - and another chest had
neatly-stacked ingots of gold and platinum.

Peldor:  (holds the lantern up, lighting the room's contents)
  Behold:  the true treasure of Peldor.
Tanya:  Wow...
Peldor:  It's all gold and platinum, or gemstones.  Nothing that
  requires fencing, and nothing cheap.
Tanya:  (still wide-eyed, she takes in the sight)  Wow...
Peldor:  I've been saving this stuff ever since I opened the inn.
  Once in a while, I'd come down here and make a deposit.  That's
  why I needed so many spells on scrolls, from our friends the drow.
Tanya:  But...how...when...?!
Peldor:  I didn't tell anybody, ever.  Not until now.
Tanya:  (looking around)  There- there's enough money here to buy
  a new Green Dragon!  _Five_ new Green Dragons!
Peldor:  That would seem to be our next decision.  But for now,
  let's get it - or the bulk of it - loaded up.
Tanya:  Loaded up?  How in the hell are we going to do that?  We'd
  need a wagon to carry it all!
Peldor:  (holds up a large piece of cloth)  That's why I borrowed
  Belphanior's portable hole.
Tanya:  I thought he was leaving Greyhawk.
Peldor:  Not immediately, he isn't.  And besides, he owes me.  (he
  opens the extradimensional space, which the elf apparently already
  emptied out as a convenient corollary to this "favor")  I'll get
  the ingots, you handle the gems.
Tanya:  Er, right.
Peldor:  If there's room, we'll load the coinage.  If not, we can
  come back and get it tomorrow.
Tanya:  Sure.  (she puts some of the finer gems in her pockets and
  belt pouches)
Peldor:  What's the matter?  You don't trust the portable hole?
Tanya:  I do...but I just can't help it.  I just can't put _all_ of
  this into that thing.  Old habit, if you want to call it that.
Peldor:  Like I said, now we really have to do some thinking...do
  we want to keep this land, and build something else on it?  Or do
  we want to leave Greyhawk altogether, and make our fortune-  (he
  grins as he looks at the hoard)  -somewhere new?
Tanya:  One thing's for sure:  we're not finished in this city...
  not if we don't want to be.
Peldor:  (spreads his hands, smiling)  Counting Peldor out was a
  grave mistake.





next:      the reading of Ged's will
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:     No complaints about Mongo saying "me and Ged" - it's
  not correct grammar, no more than Mongo is a scribe.
    About Peldor's secret fortune:  I always had this picture in
  my head, of how he was hoarding away money, year after year and
  adventure after adventure, in a place that was non-magical and
  non-accessible, a place that would never be found even if the
  inn burned to the ground (the treasure idea predated the burning
  idea) and that NOBODY but Peldor himself knew about.  And now my
  idea's seen light, literally.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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