Chapter #564

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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:        early evening                                       +
+  Place:       Lord Kilroy's immense mansion, near Greyhawk        +
+  Climate:     pleasant                                            +
+  "Should we all confess our sins to one another we would all      +
+   laugh at our lack of originality."                              +
+                                                  -Kahlil Gibran   +

                   DLXIV.  Preliminaries

  The foursome left their room, locking it behind them as they
stepped into the hall.  Peldor was still concerned about the
safety of his possessions, despite the precautions he had taken.
In addition to the simple measure of not bringing much of value
that wasn't kept on his person, Peldor had taken great care to
scatter and hide his belongings in various places throughout
the room.  He would have preferred to booby-trap his items, but
that was more trouble than it was worth.  Tanya, Bosco, and even
Felicia had followed his example, bringing along few valuables
and keeping most of them on their persons.
  The room was plush, if small, and better than they'd expected.
Over Bosco's mild objections, Peldor and Tanya had taken the
larger, more private bedroom of the quarters; this left Bosco
and Felicia to share the other room.  At that point, the halfling
had insisted that the girl take the bed, while he would sleep on
the couch.  Of course, they had a feast to attend first, and they
were on their way now.

Bosco:  Shouldn't be too hard to find.
Peldor:  Especially not with your nose.
Felicia:  Oh, come on.  An apprentice thief could remember the way
  back to that dining hall.
Tanya:  I wouldn't quite call us apprentice thieves...
Peldor: makes you wonder if Kilroy's not too bright,
  gathering all these people he's gathered under one roof like
Bosco:  What people?

  They had arrived at one of several entrances to the aforementioned
feasting hall, which was already occupied by dozens of people.  Men
and women, guests and servants, gamblers and rogues, humans and demi-
humans - all of these mixed and mingled in the cavernous chamber to
present an interesting and potentially entertaining group to join
for the next hours.

Bosco:  It's time.  (he strides forth like a tiny emperor)  Let's
  join the party!

  They entered the hall, looking for a free table; they were found
and intercepted by Ervin the servant.

Ervin:  Ah!  I was wondering where you were.
Peldor:  Right here.
Ervin:  Of course, of course.  I have reserved a table for you,
  right over here...

  He led them to a free table - one of only a few free tables
remaining at this point - and they took their seats.  The table
was rectangular, and sturdy; it held ten, so it was inevitable
that others would join the adventurers at their table eventually.

servants:  (scurrying around with trays, casks, glasses, plates,
  silverware, and such)
Bosco:  Hey, that reminds me - we need something to drink-
servant:  (arrives, and working swiftly, places glasses before
  each of the guests)
other servant:  (holding a tray with multiple flagons)  Wine?
  Brandy?  Beer?
Bosco:  Yes.

  Before they knew it, the four were all set; each had their
beverage of choice before them.

Felicia:  (sips at her glass of wine)
Bosco:  (holding up his own glass)  Brandy...and fine brandy at
Tanya:  I'm not surprised.
Peldor:  Me neither.

  They'd barely had time to taste their drinks when foodstuffs
began to arrive.  To an untrained eye, the servants would have
appeared to be making their rounds haphazardly and without order.
In truth, their tasks and patterns were carefully organized,
which allowed for the most efficient coverage of the vast hall.
The current round of morsels seemed to be finger-food:  small,
generally light appetizers designed to whet the guests' taste
for the meal itself.
  They took generous portions of cheese, bread, butter, shrimp,
fruits, vegetables, and more.  Felicia skimped at first, wary of
taking more than she could eat; after all, for most of her life
she'd barely had enough to eat.  The wasting of food was alien
to her, and despite repeated urging from the others (especially
Bosco) she still didn't take much more than she was capable of

Bosco:  (eyeing the girls' plate hungrily)
servant:  More food, sir?
Bosco:  (makes motions at his plate)  Bring it on.
Peldor:  (watching the others in the feasting hall)

  In addition to the variety and quality of the food and drink,
the decor of the feast was astounding.  The dining-tables were
of thick, sturdy, and nice hardwood; the chairs were ornately
carved from the same wood; candle-filled chandeliers hung from
the high ceiling.  The servants were well-dressed, polite, and
competent.  At one end of the hall, a half-dozen musicians kept
the diners entertained with rousing yet unobtrusive music.
  The array of gamblers collected by Lord Kilroy was equally
impressive.  There were dozens in all - the tournament, Bosco
had informed them, was to consist of twelve tables with six
players each.  Most of tomorrow's competitors were human, but
yet many of them were not.  Elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings,
and even a half-orc or two mixed in with the humans.  There were
men as well as women - and a couple of the gamblers looked to be
little more than teenagers.  The group ranged from the young to
the old, from the well-dressed to the plainclothed, from the
devious to the slovenly-looking.
  One thing was for sure, though:  all of these people were
Dragon-Deck players of no small ability.  Another thing was for
sure:  one of these people was going to win the twenty-thousand
crown jackpot tomorrow.
  Their table had filled up, presenting them with some interesting
mealtime conversation...

Lerbar:  (a grizzled human)  -half o' these card-players ain't got
  what it takes anyway.
Lerbar's woman:  (somewhat older than she looks, though she has
  made a valiant attempt to disguise it with powders and dyes)
  Yeah.  (she continues doing what she's been doing for the entire
  conversation:  nodding and going along with whatever Lerbar has
  to say)
Torgar:  (a skinny elf)  There may be surprises in store for all
  of us.
Bergar:  (Torgar's brother and a fellow competitor)  Let's hope
  that it doesn't come down to brother against brother.
Torgar:  (smiles)
Bosco:  Gee, maybe I should have brought _my_ brothers.
Mekko Minestone:  (a crafty, shifty-eyed dwarf)  How many brothers
  do you have?
Bosco:  Six.
Mekko:  That's a lot of pockets.
Bosco:  Yep, it sure is.
Tanya:  Where are you from?
Mekko:  The Yatil Mountain tribes.  I used to fight goblins and
  other scum all the time, but now I'm retired - from that.  I'm
  a professional gambler these days.
Peldor:  A noble profession.
Mekko:  (laughing)  Hardly.  But it pays the bills, and keeps me
Felicia:  I might be a gambler someday.
Tanya:  (frowns)  Make it a second hobby - don't put all your eggs
  in that basket.  Or any one basket, for that matter.
Bosco:  Someone is bound to steal them.
Lerbar:  (looking around in response to some commotion)  What's
  going on?

  They - along with most of those in the room - had been wondering
when Lord Kilroy would make his appearance.  It happened between
the final appetizer course and the main course; a mild fanfare of
trumpets heralded their host's arrival.  A large, bearlike man in
his forties, Kilroy emerged from an adjacent chamber, greeting his
guests with a wide grin and a friendly wave.  He headed to the main
table, but before taking his high-backed seat, he stood, addressing
his audience in a loud but clear voice.

Lord Kilroy:  Greetings, and welcome!
crowd:  (talking amongst themselves)
Lord Kilroy:  I thank you all for coming, and I trust you're having
  a good time thus far?
crowd:  (clapping and nodding in a low murmur)
Lord Kilroy:  For years I have dreamed of this event:  hosting a
  great card tournament.  Now, we stand on the eve of this dream
  of mine...and I am pleased.  (he grins)  So, eat!  Drink!  Be
  merry!  And prepare yourselves for tomorrow's games!

  With that sweeping statement, the nobleman sat down, and the main
courses of the feast were brought out.  There were stuffed pigs,
roasted lambs, fried fish, juicy steaks, and much more.

Bosco:  (his mouth begins to water...again)  Mmmmm...
Peldor:  (motions to a passing servant)  We'll take that jug of
  wine, please.
Tanya:  Looks like we're in for a long night.

next:      let the games begin!
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
email:       (preferred)
notes:     What was on TV while I worked on this story?  Well,
  there were two options for me tonight (8/17/98) :  the U.S.
  President's address to the nation (concerning his testimony on
  the Monica Lewinsky affair) or else WCW Monday Nitro (wrestling.)
    If you know me, you know which one I watched and which one I
  ignored.  Politics are not for me - I vote based on which local
  and national lawmakers voted for laws that benefitted me, or
  made life difficult for me.  The county commissioner who pushed
  the bill that outlawed simultaneous nudity and alcohol in local
  strip clubs, thereby causing all but the biggest to go under?  I
  voted against him, and enjoyed it.  As for Clinton, though he is
  undoubtedly guilty of adultery, I cannot help but wonder what
  percentage of his critics have done the same, or worse, them-
  selves.  If Clinton wasn't married, they'd attack him instead
  for violating some personal moral code they held sacred.  If he
  wasn't married and if polygamy was widely accepted, they'd attack
  him for doing it in the White House and soiling the carpet.  My
  point is, someone's always going to attack someone for something.
    It would be interesting to see how many Presidents - or lesser
  politicians - or journalists - or columnists - or average people -
  are guilty of the same exact thing that Clinton is being raked
  over the coals for.

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