Chapter #563

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Bosco        12th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+  Felicia       2nd level female human thief                  (LN) +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+  Tanya        5th/11th level female human warrior/thief      (LN) +
+  Date:        4/14/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the lands around the Free City of Greyhawk          +
+  Climate:     cool                                                +
+  "The most exciting happiness is the happiness generated by       +
+   forces beyond your control."                                    +
+                                                    - Ogden Nash   +

                   DLXIII.  House of Thieves

  The foursome rode onward, their horses' hooves kicking up dust
behind them.  The trip from the Free City to the lands of Kilroy
was a mere hour's ride, and they were in no real rush.  Even the
ever-eager Bosco had apparently "resigned" himself to a night of
feasting and drunken revelry.

Tanya:  It's a tough life, eh, Bosco?
Bosco:  Tell me about it.  All I have to do is keep my cool through
  the game's onset tomorrow, and everything'll be okay.
Peldor:  Judging by your exploits at every table I've ever seen you
  play cards at, you'll do fine.
Bosco:  Fine isn't enough.  I want it all - the whole prize-purse.
Felicia:  But why?  You don't need the money.
Bosco:  True enough.  (he frowns)  It's just...
Tanya:  A compulsion?
Bosco:  Sure.  There are some things I just have to do, and winning
  this card tournament is one of them.
Peldor:  We'll be right there watching you do it, too.
Bosco:  (smiles)

  Hardly before they knew it, they neared a gated section of fence.
The barrier stretched out along the fields to east and west, as far
as their eyes could see.  Manning the gate were four guards, one of
whom stepped forth and signalled them to stop.

guard:  Name?
Bosco:  I am Bosco, of Greyhawk, and I'm here for the tournament.
guard:  (checking a list)  Bosco?
Bosco:  Yeah, yeah, _the_ Bosco.
guard:  (nods to the others)
other guards:  (relax)
first guard:  Bosco of Greyhawk, and three...servants?
Bosco:  Of cour-
Peldor:  Guests.
Tanya:  (smirks)
Felicia:  (looking around, wondering where Lord Kilroy's manor is)
Bosco:  The invitation did say I could bring up to three guests, you
first guard:  Okay, okay.  On you go.  You'll see the manor just over
  that second hill, there.  There will be stables for your horses.
Bosco:  Thanks a bunch.  (he spurs his small horse onward, and his
  friends follow)


Tanya:  Servants?
Bosco:  I think most of these card-players are nobles, and tend to
  show up with their retinues.
Peldor:  Bosco, retinue-owner.
Tanya:  Bah.
Felicia:  I hope they don't think those four guards could stop anyone
  who really wanted to get in.  Not to mention that fence, which any
  child could sneak through.
Bosco:  Those guys back there were just a first level of security,
  to keep the riffraff out.
Peldor:  Bosco, we _are_ the riffraff.
Bosco:  (ignoring his fellow thief)  The manor is closed to everyone
  but competitors and their guests, for the duration of this tournament.
Felicia:  Good idea - you never know who might try to sneak in.

  Over the second hill, as directed, they found the outlying buildings
of the lord's manor-house:  a large stable, a guardhouse, several low
huts for servants, and a supply house.  Beyond these, atop another hill,
was the huge manor that had been home to the Kilroys for generations.

stableboy:  (strolls up)  Four mounts?
Bosco:  (dismounts, flipping the kid a golden coin)  Yep, and take good
  care of 'em.
stableboy:  Yes, sir!  (he expertly takes the animals' reins, and once
  their riders have dismounted and gathered their possessions, he leads
  the horses toward the spacious stable)
Bosco:  Well, that's that.  Now to go meet Kilroy and the others.
helpful-looking man:  Another of the card-players, eh?
Bosco:  Yes, indeed!  Who might you be?
helpful-looking man:  I am Ervin, one of Lord Kilroy's servants.  If I
  may lead you to the manor...?
Bosco:  Lead away, my good fellow!  (he winks at Peldor and Tanya)
  Come along, my faithful-
Peldor:  Ahem.
Bosco:  (smirks)

  Ervin took them a short ways up the road, where they reached a set
of wide stone steps built into the hill itself.  These stairs led up
to the manor's front door, and as they approached they couldn't help
but be awed by the house.

Felicia:  This guy lives well.
Bosco:  He sure does.  (he keeps his further ideas on the subject to
Tanya:  (to Peldor)  Someday, we need to build a house like this.
Peldor:  It might even put a dent in our fortune.

  The manor was three stories high, plus a fourth at the same level
as the sloping roof.  It was also wide, and deep - at least twice
the size of the Green Dragon Inn.  Its windows were of clear, large-
paned glass, framed by finely-wrought metalwork.  The timbers that
made up the mansion's walls were straight-grained and sturdy - very
expensive wood, to be sure.  The front steps of the house itself
were broad and curved outward to both left and right; they appeared
to be made of solid marble.
  Several extravagant lantern-housings stood on poles to either side
of the walkway to those steps, their lanterns unlit for now.  The
guests had no doubts that at night, the lanterns' effect was quite

Bosco:  How old is this mansion?
Ervin:  It was built by Lord Kilroy's great-great-great grandfather
  back in Greyhawk's first prosperous time, when Zagig Yragerne
  first came to power.  (he beams proudly)  The Kilroys have lived
  and prospered here ever since.
Tanya:  No shit.
Peldor:  Are we staying in this manor?
Ervin:  (nods)  There are dozens of guest rooms in the east wing,
  and all have been made ready.  Many of our guests aren't staying
  here, since Greyhawk is so close, but those who do choose to
  enjoy our accomodations are most welcome.
Felicia:  (to Tanya)  What more could we ask for?
Ervin:  Actually, a great feast.
Felicia:  (somewhat alarmed, as she whispered her comment to Tanya)
Ervin:  (smiles warmly)  A great feast, which you'll be sure to
Bosco:  Excellent.

  Ervin led them through the front door, which was opened from
within by two burly-looking butlers.  The front hall was huge, but
not nearly as vast as the great feasting-hall they passed next.

Bosco:  Wow...

  The hall was enormous and lavishly-appointed, though they didn't
get more than a quick glimpse of it as Ervin led them past.

Ervin:  Plenty of time for that later - I must show you to your
  quarters now.
Peldor:  Fair enough.

  As they moved through the mansion, all four guests couldn't help
but notice the fine art, the rare urns and vases, the exquisite
rugs, the polished mirrors and suits of armor and hundreds more
such things.  They were, after all, thieves.

Peldor:  (thinking about how much money Lord Kilroy must have, and
  whether he is a significant power in Greyhawk or not, and if so,
  how come Peldor himself hasn't heard about it)
Tanya:  (thinking about which aspects of Lord Kilroy's existence
  she wouldn't mind having in her own life, such as a mansion like
Bosco:  (thinking about how much trouble it would be to cart all
  of Lord Kilroy's riches away)
Felicia:  (thinking about how someday she'll have a home like this,
  if she pulls off the right heists and saves or invests her money

  Presently, Ervin led them to a large, two-chambered room at the
end of a hall of many such rooms.  Other people - presumably fellow
competitors like Bosco - were moving in and out of their own rooms.
Many had a lot of baggage, which their porters or servants carried
for them.  Peldor and his crew snickered inwardly, for they had
always traveled light, and needed no lackeys to carry their loads.

Ervin:  (opens the wide door, motioning inside the room)  Your
Bosco:  (waltzes in, scoping the place out)
Tanya:  (follows the halfling)  Hmm.
Ervin:  I trust they are satisfactory?
Felicia:  Yeah...oh yeah, they're fine.
Peldor:  What about keys, and the safety of our possessions?
Ervin:  (flatly)  There will be no thievery in this manor.  (he
  produces a large keyring and flips through it, eventually finding
  a certain key and removing it)  Still, as many of our guests for
  the next few days are wealthy and concerned about their goods...
Peldor:  (takes the key)  Thanks.
Ervin:  Supper is at dusk; you can follow the hall outside directly
  to the feasting-hall.
Bosco:  (nods)  Most excellent.
Ervin:  And now, if you'll excuse me, I have matters to attend to.
Felicia:  (steps aside, letting the man exit, and then closes the
Bosco:  Well.
Peldor:  I don't know what he meant by that "no thievery" crap, but
  we need to be on our guard.
Tanya:  Aye.  I don't trust anybody, much less a house full of base
  rogues, gamblers, and gods know what else.
Bosco:  (plops down on one of the beds)  I'm home.

next:      the feast
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
email:       (preferred)
notes:     I watched three different things (flipping channels of
  course) during the course of writing this one:  the live Titanic
  salvage special on 8/16/98, an E! biography on Traci Lords, and
  a tape of the recent WCW wrestling pay-per-view "Road Wild."

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