Chapter #527

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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 1991-8 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                    +
+                           +
+  Peldor/Corvis   20th level human thief                       (N) +
+  Date:        11/1/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        evening                                             +
+  Place:       the Free City of Greyhawk                           +
+  Climate:     cool                                                +
+  "Do, or do not.  There is no try!"                               +
+                         - Yoda, from _The Empire Strikes Back_    +

                   DXXVII.  Double Identity

  The vast Guildhall of Thieves stood in the heart of Greyhawk's
Old city, dominating all the other buildings around it.  An old
but grand structure, it had numerous windows and only a few doors;
all were guarded by multiple locks and traps.  There was also the
protection afforded by reputation - no one in their right mind
would even think about breaking into the Guild of Thieves!  The
building was surrounded by wide, open streets and alleys, making
it impossible to approach undetected.
  The man who now visited this place had no intention of sneaking
in, however.  He hailed the apprentice thieves who guarded the
front entrance to the guildhall.

Corvis:  Ho, there.
guard #1:  Sorry, pal.  Official business only.
Corvis:  It is.  Varka told me to come here - told me I'd been
  summoned by someone at the Guildhall.  I'm Corvis.
guard #2:  Corvis?  (he looks at guard #1)  Never heard of 'im.
guard #1:  (checking a ledger)  Wait, wait - here he is.  Yep,
  he's expected.
guard #2:  (pats Corvis down, checking for weapons)  Hold still,
Corvis:  Don't forget the sword at my side.
guard #1:  No weapons in the guildhall.
Corvis:  (glares at both men with his good eye)  That's never-
  that's not what I heard.
guard #2:  Yeah, well, things are different these days.  And the
  rule is, no guests carry weapons in after hours.
Corvis:  (unbuckles his swordbelt)  Don't even think about touching
  my sword, punk.
guard #2:  (puffs out his chest)  Oh yeah?  Or what?
Corvis:  (squints angrily)

  There was something in the visitor's gaze...perhaps the edge of
long experience, or perhaps some greater wit at work.  Whatever it
was, the young rogue couldn't meet it with his own gaze, and his
eyes quickly looked down at the ground.

Corvis:  That's right.  (he turns on his heel and strolls toward
  the building's front door)
guard #2:  Sheez...creepy guy.
guard #1:  (chuckles)  When you've been around as long as I have,
  you'll learn not to bully the guests.  Sometimes they end up
  being your boss.
guard #2:  (grumbles to himself)

  Corvis figured that the guards had hassled him on purpose, not out
of any sense of duty.  As far as he knew, it was part of the game -
a dangerous game, indeed, and one that would become increasingly more
dangerous in a very short time.

Corvis:  (stands before the double doors, unsure exactly how to

  This was more intentional intimidation; the portals squeaked only
slightly as they opened inward, each manned by a guard.  Beyond was
a small hallway that opened into a larger hall; it was this latter
chamber that held the guild's clerk.  This man was responsible for
knowing the business of all after-hours visitors to the guildhall,
and he would assign guards to escort visitors to the appropriate
place.  Corvis, of course, knew that office-holders within the
guild, as well as certain city personages, could come and go as
they pleased.

clerk:  Name?
Corvis:  Corvis.  Sent for by the messenger Varka, for reasons un-
clerk:  Straight ahead, go through the gated arch, up the stairs,
  hang a left, second door on the left.  (he motions to some nearby
  guards, and two break off from their group to escort Corvis)
Corvis:  Thanks, then.

  The foreigner was taken along the exact route described by the
clerk...a route which ended at a large, ornate door of polished
but old hardwood.  This, too, was familiar to Corvis, though he
let himself appear surprised.

Corvis:  (petulantly)  Where are you taking me?  This isn't-
guard #1:  Quiet, you.  (he raps on the door three times)
voice:  Enter.
guard #2:  (opens the door)
guard #1:  (motions Corvis in)
woman:  That will be all.
guard #2:  (nods curtly; he and his fellow leave, closing the door
  behind them)
woman:  Corvis, I presume?

  The woman was seated in a plush leather chair, which rested
behind a large desk of dark oak.  Various odds and ends decorated
the desk, implying a busy but organized owner.  Shelves covered
much of the wall-space here, and they reached almost ten feet off
the floor.  Plush, expensive carpets covered most of the floor;
those spots left naked revealed the gleam of polished hardwood.
The ceiling here was high and vaulted, and various candelabra
hung from the walls.
  The occupant of the room didn't appear as competent and dangerous
as she actually was.  The woman was in her early or mid-thirties,
and was of average height, build, and attractiveness.  However, a
spark of cunning and ambition gleamed behind her eyes.  Corvis knew
right away that this was a woman with goals and the wherewithal to
achieve them.  Accordingly, he wasted no time at all.

Corvis:  Corvis, that's me.  (he bows, though only slightly)
  You must be...(he makes a confused face)  The Guildmaster?
Sharyn:  (nods)  Sharyn Messandier, GuildMISTRESS of Greyhawk.
Corvis:  My apologies.  So what can I do for you?
Sharyn:  My sources tell me that you've been talking a lot about
  things you know little about.
Corvis:  (clearly surprised)  You must have eyes and ears everywhere!
Sharyn:  (smiles, crossing her arms)  Essentially, yes.
Corvis:  Well, I figured if I let word get out, things would move
  faster - but I never thought they'd move this fast!
Sharyn:  You would appear to have ambition.
Corvis:  I'll put it this way:  I can't ever return to my homeland.
  Thus, I'm looking to re-establish myself somewhere else...somewhere
  like Greyhawk.
Sharyn:  What happened in your homeland of Zeif?
Corvis: have good information.  But I'd rather not talk
  about it.  The less others know, the better - I'm sure that one in
  your position can understand this.
Sharyn:  (ponders this, then nods slightly)  Very well.  I'll get
  right to the point:  I need someone loyal to me, someone who can
  handle all sorts of jobs...someone who doesn't have aspirations
  to higher office.  (she leans forward suddenly)  Are you planning
  to eliminate me and rise in power yourself?
Corvis:  (frowns, then stands angrily, waving his hands)  That's a
  ridiculous question.
Sharyn:  Perhaps...but that's not an answer.  I ask you again, are
  you planning to try and kill me, and thus rise to power yourself?
Corvis:  (sits down, disbelief showing on his face)  I can say with
  some confidence that I'd never even think about killing you.
Sharyn:  (smiles thinly, then nods)  Good - because that would be
  a fatal mistake.  Besides, bear in mind that a foreigner like
  yourself can never hope to attain high office in the Free City.
Corvis:  (bitterly)  I'll just bet.  (he cracks his knuckles)  Now
  that we've dispensed with the mutual crap, let's talk about what
  I can do for you.
Sharyn:  (leans back)  Impress me.
Corvis:  (holds up both hands, fingers splayed)  In Zeif, a seasoned
  thief needs no other proof.
Sharyn:  You're not in Zeif.
Corvis:  (shrugs)  True enough.  I have over five years of operative
  experience.  I've run small sections of a thieves' guild.  I've
  directed beginners in both tactics and missions.  I seek only to
  make a place for myself here, a comfortable existence if you will -
  a means to retire when the time comes, secure in the knowledge that
  me and mine won't come under attack from enemies old and new.
Sharyn:  (shrugs)  Why should I choose you, over any other lower-
  ranked thief in the guild?
Corvis:  Because I'm stronger, faster, and meaner than any of them.
  (he spreads his hands)  Test me.  Send me on a job.  I'll get
  better results than any amateur clown you might pick.
Sharyn:  Quite a show of bravado...
Corvis:  I'm the best, and one reason why is because I _know_ I'm
  the best.  All you have to do is give me a chance to prove my
  skills and talents.  If I fail you, you can kill me yourself.
Sharyn:  Now there's a thought.
Corvis:  But I won't fail you.
Sharyn:  You have ambition...which is good, as well as bad.  Too
  much ambition can lead to disaster.
Corvis:  Truer words were never spoken.
Sharyn:  (sighs)  Okay, here's the deal.  Go home and get some rest.
  Tomorrow, come to the Guild training grounds and ask for Gordo.
  He's an older thief, and one of our most senior trainers.  He'll
  put you through your paces; if you succeed, I'll find a suitable
  thieving job for you to prove your worth at.  If you succeed at
  that as well, then we'll talk again.
Corvis:  (stands, bowing again)  I'll see you after I've pulled
  that job off.
Sharyn:  (folds her arms, saying nothing as the scarred thief leaves)

  Moments after Corvis was gone, a short, wiry fellow darted into
Sharyn's office.

wiry fellow:  (teetering back and forth like a snake)  What do you
  wish of me?
Sharyn:  Follow that man.  Find out where he's staying, and break in
  whenever you get a chance.  Go through his possessions and give me
  a full report.
wiry fellow:  (cackles to himself)  And what if it comes to blows?
Sharyn:  Then kill him, of course.  (she glares at the other)
wiry fellow:  (licks his lips)  Yes, yes!  (he dashes away)

  Sharyn wasn't at all bothered by the decision she'd just made.
If Corvis' lodgings contained evidence, anything at all that would
incriminate him as a possible risk, then he'd be dead that same
day.  And if he encountered the wiry little assassin Zsil...well,
if Corvis couldn't survive a fight with a skilled combatant, then
he wasn't of much use anyway.

  Outside the guild, Corvis walked back to his inn, whistling to
himself.  To all appearances, he was just another foreign traveler
wandering through Greyhawk, pleased about some personal matter.
In truth, he was deep in thought.  Corvis knew that Sharyn was a
priestess of Kurell as well as a skilled thief, and thus he'd been
ready for questions whose purpose was to catch him in a lie.  With
a combination of silvery tongue and quick thinking, he'd evaded
that trap - but he was certain that others lay ahead.
  Corvis, skilled though he was, didn't notice the slim form that
shadowed him as he walked along, heading back to his inn.

next:      Corvis must prove himself...or die!
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I'd originally planned on this being a single episode,
  but what the hell.  Besides, you got a 140K episode for 525, so
  it won't do any harm to produce a few normal-sized episodes now.
    With any luck, Peldor's mission here will prove successful, and
  he will get what's coming to him.  Ditto on that last part for
  Sharyn Messandier.  I'd initially made her a little more nasty
  than the way she's written in the City of Greyhawk boxed set, so
  now I'm trying to temper that with wisdom and cunning.
    The battle of wits is on!

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