Chapter #517

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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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Belphanior  (14th)^3 level elven warrior/wizard/thief       (CN) +
+    Otto        8th/10th level dwarven warrior/thief          (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                                +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human warrior/thief      (N) +
+    Bosco      12th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
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+  Date:        9/20/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        early evening                                       +
+  Place:       the remote mountain town of Helgate                 +
+  Climate:     chilly                                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Hey, where do these stairs go?"                                 +
+  "They go up."                                                    +
+                                          - from _Ghostbusters_    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





             DXVII.  Home is Where the Heart is





  Several weeks have passed since the looting of the dragon Cynder's
lair, and Belphanior and Otto have returned to Helgate.  For the first
time, however, they have invited guests to come along...

Peldor:  (looking around the town's old, dark buildings)  It's nice
  in a...quiet kind of way.
Tanya:  (to herself)  Yeah, right.
Belphanior:  It's not such a bad place, really.  With the exception
  of the occasional gang of bandits who think they can come in here
  and take over, it's fairly peaceful.
Bosco:  (looking around)  I don't see any bandits.
Otto:  That's the point.
Peldor:  (spots a dark, ancient-looking castle looming over the
  town, and points it out to Tanya)
Tanya:  That's nice.  (to Belphanior)  So where's Felicia?
Belphanior:  (gestures at the castle)  In there, I'd guess.  Don't
  worry, she's safe.

  Just then, they heard a familiar voice as its source approached
in a sprint.

Felicia:  (dashing toward them)  Tanya!  Peldor!

  Behind the girl lumbered a huge, grey-skinned reptilian humanoid,
its thick legs carrying it toward them with surprising speed.

Tanya:  (her eyes widen)  Yaaaaa!  (in a flash, she draws her sword
  and moves to protect Felicia)  Stay behind me, girl!
Felicia:  But-
Peldor:  (also prepares for combat)
huge grey-skinned thing:  (stops, regarding them all with an
  unfathomable expression)
Tanya:  One more step, monster, and you'll pay!
huge grey-skinned thing:  (smirks)
Belphanior:  (moves between them all before anything can happen)
  No, no, no!
Felicia:  (tugging Tanya's arm)  It's Ys!  He's my friend!
Tanya:  Huh?

  Shortly, everything had been explained to the mutual satisfaction
of all present...

Tanya:  (still shaking her head)  Sorry about that...it's just that
  you looked like you were-
Ys:  Fear not.  Besides being used to such reactions, I no longer
  care.
Felicia:  You should care.
Ys:  (ignores her comment)
Tanya:  And you're just _one_ of the town marshals?
Ys:  (nods)  I am the largest, though.
Otto:  (helpfully)  They're a pretty varied bunch.
Tanya:  I kinda figured that...
Bosco:  (notes the strange and fearful looks that nearby towns-
  people are giving the group)
Peldor:  (looks around, frowning to himself)
Belphanior:  (to Ys)  Who's on duty right now?
Ys:  I just finished, and was heading to the shop of Jamaine to see
  about some new boots.  Razor Charlie and Skektek are manning the
  guardhouse at the moment.
Otto:  That explains why Eduardo's not here.  He's taken quite
  a shine to ol' Charlie.
Belphanior:  He has?
Otto:  (nods)  Believe it or not, he's learning how to throw
  knives now.
Bosco:  Hey, I can throw knives.
Belphanior:  Not like Razor Charlie.
Tanya:  (talking to Felicia)  So what have you been up to while
  we were away?  Three months...hard to believe.
Felicia:  Oh, nothing.  I learned the lay of this town...talked
  to a lot of people...did some training...
Tanya:  Training?
Felicia:  (nods)  Did you know that they have a complete practice
  room up there in the castle?  Climbing walls, balance bars, rope-
  and ledge- courses, fighting dummies, and a lot more.
Tanya:  (looking defeated)  When the cat's away...
Bosco:  (seemingly engrossed with a merchant's storefront, he chirps
  a contribution into the conversation)  ...the mice will play!
Felicia:  (proudly)  I'm no mouse.
Tanya:  (hugs her)  True, but we still worry about you.  Now who's
  this Eduardo?
Belphanior:  That would be our...adopted urchin.
Peldor:  What?
Belphanior:  He was a street kid here, but he sort of adopted us.
Felicia:  Sounds familiar, huh?
Tanya:  (frowns)
Ys:  (puts his gigantic clawed hand on her shoulder, gently)  Fear
  not, milady.  Your child was in good hands.
Tanya:  Uh...right.
Bosco:  (wondering whether Ys has any pockets, and if so, how he
  could reach them)

  They headed to the castle, Ys remaining behind since he had other
business (and also because he was too big to fit in the carriage
of Incus, which periodically ferried the castle's inhabitants up
and down.)  The creaky carriage, seemingly on the verge of total
collapse, nevertheless made it up the steep slope, its horse-team
strangely silent.  When they reached the castle's outer gates,
Belphanior waved his hand, and the portals opened with a loud
creak of rusty hinges.

Tanya:  (glances at Peldor)  This reminds me of old campfire tales.
Peldor:  There's more than one way to look at such things.

  The carriage took them to the castle's main entrance, and the
tall, gaunt Incus opened the carriage for them.  Only after all
had disembarked did the fellow turn his conveyance around in the
courtyard, tip his hat to Belphanior, and set out for the town
proper once again.

Tanya:  (gazing after the dark carriage as it recedes into the
  darkness)  Where did you get that guy?
Otto:  (frowns, realizing that he really doesn't know)
Belphanior:  (produces a dimly-glowing key and unlocks his front
  door)  Ah!  enter freely, and of your own will.
Bosco:  (darts into the castle)  What other way is there?

  The guests (even Bosco) were suitably impressed by the vast
halls and chambers of the castle, not to mention its varied and
artful furnishings.  Nearby the building's main entrance, the
massive yet squat form of Angus, the iron golem, stood unmoving,
thick arms crossed as it regarded the arrivals.

Bosco:  (winks at Angus)
Felicia:  (looking around wide-eyed, she seeks to impart some of
  her wonder to her foster parents)  See, Tanya?  This place is
  so _neat_!  It's got floors and hallways out the wazoo...secret
  passages too!
Belphanior:  (frowns, turning to Otto)  She found those?
Otto:  (shrugs)
Bosco:  (looks up a stairway)  Wow!  This goes up forever and ever.
Felicia:  (grins)  Only about ten floors, actually.
Peldor:  Well, we're glad you had a good time here.
Tanya:  Ready to go home?
Felicia:  Uh, I guess so.
Victoria:  (appears from a shadow-limned passage)  Leaving us so
  soon, my child?
Felicia:  (looking somewhat disheartened)  Well, we've gotta get
  back to Greyhawk...
Belphanior:  Surely you don't want to set out this late in the
  night?  Stay until the morrow, at least - why, we just arrived
  hours ago!
Tanya:  (to Peldor)  He's got a point.
Peldor:  (spreads his hands)  Hey, no argument here.  A good night
  of sleep will do wonders for all of us.
Victoria:  Excellent.  I'll have Daphne and Phoebe prepare one of
  the guest rooms.
Bosco:  (still staring goggly-eyed at Victoria, whose nightgown,
  while not quite transparent, is still tight-fitting and leaves
  little to the imagination)  Boi-oi-oi-oi-ng!
Victoria:  (glares at Bosco)
Bosco:  Eep!  (he suddenly gains a profound interest in the grand
  organ which rests against one wall)
Peldor:  (somewhat embarrassed, he tries hard not to look directly
  at Victoria)

  Within moments, the two servant girls had appeared, one bearing
a bundle of sheets while the other did a short bow to Peldor and
Tanya.

Phoebe:  Milord, milady.
Peldor:  (grins)  Now this is treatment befitting a Peldor!
Tanya:  (not sure how to react to this "treatment")
Phoebe:  I'll show you to your chambers, milord and milady, if
  you'd like.
Peldor:  Sure.
Tanya:  Uh, yeah.  (wondering where Belphanior got these servant
  girls)
Otto:  (removes his armor coat and heads off toward the stairway)
  I'm beat.  Good night to all of you, and I'll see you in the
  morning.
Belphanior:  (nods in Otto's direction as the dwarf clatters up
  the stairs)
Victoria:  (regards Belphanior with a look that almost drips with
  emotion)  You've been away for a while...
Belphanior:  Yeah...
Victoria:  I think the time has come for us to retire as well.
Belphanior:  An...enticing idea.  (they join hands as they head
  for another stairwell)
Bosco:  (looking around)  Hey, what about me?
Felicia:  Don't worry, Bosco!  I know where more guest rooms are.
Bosco:  Huh?
Felicia:  C'mon!  I'll show you the training room too!
Bosco:  (his need for sleep postponed by his need to explore a
  strange new place, he follows her happily)  So where does
  Belphanior keep all his treasure?





next:      the guests leave, and business as usual resumes
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/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:     To learn more about what Felicia and Eduardo did while
  the adults were on vacation in Cynder's lair, you'll have to
  read Lost Tales #8.
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