Chapter #572

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Belphanior   (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief      (CN) +
+    Otto         8th/10th level dwarven fighter/thief         (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                            (N) +
+    Aja          9th level human priestess of Wee Jas          (N) +
+    Jutokai      7th level human archer                       (LN) +
+    Razor Charlie  9th level human fighter                    (CN) +
+    Skektek       12th level human wizard                     (CN) +
+    Ys          13th level reptilian fighter                  (LN) +
+  Date:        1/7/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the remote mountain town of Helgate                 +
+  Climate:     very cold                                           +
+  "Quit?"                                                          +
+  "Dead."                                                          +
+  "Well, that's as good as quit in my book."                       +
+                                             - from _Wyatt Earp_   +

                  DLXXII.  Plan of Action

  In Aja's temple, the select few are about to witness an avatar-
like manifestation of the goddess Wee Jas...

Aja:  (chanting in a long-dead tongue)
Otto:  (watching as the candles lighting the room flicker)
Belphanior:  (watching in fascination)

  A sudden chill passed through the room...passed through, then
came back to stay.  Even Otto, who was wearing warm clothes and
who never got cold, shivered, rubbing his hands.  The candles'
flames began to dance wildly - and then they changed to black!
The room was pitched into darkness, yet they could somehow see.
On the altar, the coffin containing the body of the monk Kenso
Adon was surrounded by a white nimbus.
  As strange as these effects were, they couldn't begin to
compare with the changes wrought upon Aja's body by her magic.
She was limned with a purple glow, and her lips and eyes were
black in the weird light.  Her skin seemed as white as chalk.
It was most unsettling, and they recoiled as her chanting took
on a more inhuman tone.

Aja:  (speaking rapidly and loudly, she continues to chant in
  whatever lost tongue she's been using)

  A cold wind whistled around them, even though the chamber
was closed to the outside.  The aura of power that permeated
the room now was tangible.  Aja stopped her chanting, pausing
only a moment before turning to face Belphanior and Otto.  She
was definitely not herself anymore.

Belphanior:  (regards her, his jaw firm)
Otto:  (gaping)
Aja:  (speaks, in a hissing voice that seethes with power)  I am
  Wee Jas.
Belphanior:  (simply nods)
Aja/Wee Jas:  (regards the earthly form she now inhabits)  One of
  my priestesses has summoned me...(she looks around, quickly
  fixing her gaze on the coffin containing Kenso Adon's corpse)
  Ah.  All is now clear.
Belphanior:  Uh...are we supposed to help?
Aja/Wee Jas:  Stand aside.  (she gestures to the coffin)  A dolt...
  slain by my priestess.  (she smiles evilly)
Otto:  (not sure what to do)
Aja/Wee Jas:  (turns to Belphanior)  My priestess wishes to speak
  to this dead one...on your behalf?
Belphanior:  We've got to know where he-  where the dead one came
  from, to keep his allies from attacking again.
Aja/Wee Jas:  That is acceptable.  My priestess' work here has only
  just begun, therefore your best interests are her best interests,
  and mine.
Belphanior:  What about-
Aja/Wee Jas:  Be silent.  (she points at the corpse)  Awaken.
Kenso Adon, RIP:  (sits up, staring blankly at the death-goddess)
Aja/Wee Jas:  (makes a fist, causing arcs of black energy to dance
  around her form)  You will answer this elf's questions, directly
  and truthfully.  (she waves the black feather)
Kenso Adon, RIP:  Yes...answer...
Aja/Wee Jas:  (to Belphanior)  Be quick.  The longer this one is
  held here, the farther his soul strays and the more difficult it
  will be to get answers from him.
Belphanior:  Right...(to Kenso's corpse)  Why did you people come
  after me?
Kenso Adon, RIP:  Hired...most of us Omak...
Belphanior:  But _why_?!?  Why did he hire all of you to come after
Kenso Adon, RIP:  Revenge...
Belphanior:  For what?
Kenso Adon, RIP:  Your and...companions...years ago...
Belphanior:  Rampage?  (he looks at Otto)  I can't recall any sort
  of rampage.
Otto:  (shrugs)  Beats me.
Kenso Adon, RIP:  (coyly silent)
Belphanior:  Where does Omak hail from?
Kenso Adon, RIP:  Sea Princes...
Belphanior:  (growing angry)  WHERE in the Holds of the Sea Princes?!?
Kenso Adon, RIP: Omak in Monmurg...(he retches dryly)
Belphanior:  Huh?
Aja/Wee Jas:  This one is done talking...(she waves dismissal at the
  corpse, and it falls instantly, one arm hanging over its coffin
Belphanior:  But I wasn't done-
Aja/Wee Jas:  Yes, you were.
Otto:  (walks over and puts the dangling arm back in the coffin)
Aja/Wee Jas:  (regards Belphanior)  Now, in exchange for this newly-
  gained information, you will assist my priestess in her pursuit of
Belphanior:  Uh...yeah.  We plan to go after Omak now.
Aja/Wee Jas:  That is good.  There will be much death ahead.
Belphanior:  Right you are.
Aja/Wee Jas:  (stares at him intently)  Perhaps someday, you too shall
  serve me as a reaper of life.
Belphanior:  (shakes his head)  I don't plan on leaving this mortal
  coil anytime soon.
Aja/Wee Jas:  (smiles)

  Just like that, the goddess' presence was gone.  There was no way to
explain how they knew; they just did.  Aja's eyes rolled back down,
and she collapsed to the floor as the candles mysteriously flickered
back to life.

Belphanior:  (darts over and catches her)  Steady...
Aja:  (blinks, rapidly, then looks at him)  Why are you holding me
  like that?
Belphanior:  You fell.
Aja:  Hmph.  (she stands, then falters)  A...tiring process.
Otto:  Had you ever done it before?
Aja:  No.  I always knew I was capable of it, but that was the first
Belphanior:  Well, it worked.  We found out what we wanted to know.
Aja:  Yes...I have vague memories of the discussion.
Otto:  When do we leave?
Belphanior:  Tonight, probably.  I want to make a plan of attack
  with everyone.  (he rubs his chin)  Well, everyone but Victoria.
  As usual, she won't be accompanying us.
Aja:  Tomorrow would be better.  I should rest tonight.
Otto:  Well, I've got some things to do...(to Aja)  What do you
  want to do with that corpse?
Aja:  I'll have it buried in the graveyard, with the others.
Belphanior:  Others?
Aja:  The others of Omak's band, that we killed.
Belphanior:  Even that assassin that Victoria shredded?
Aja:  Even him.  They are all here...

  Later, in the marshals' barracks, Belphanior explained the

Skektek:  So we're going to the Hold of the Sea Princes?
Belphanior:  Yup.  We're going to the city of Monmurg, we're going
  to infiltrate, we're going to find out who Omak is and where he
  lives...(he smashes a fist into his other hand's palm)  And then
  we're going to take them out, once and for all!
Otto:  (nods)
Belphanior:  How are your injuries...each of you?
Skektek:  My hands still ache, but they can cast any spells I'll
  need to cast.
Otto:  I'm sore as shit, but my arm's healing nicely.  (he casts
  an appreciative glance at Aja)
Jutokai:  I'm in better shape than I have any right to be...(he
  grimaces)  And I want some revenge.
Skektek:  But the one who...killed you is dead.
Jutokai:  True, the ogre-wizard is dead, but that doesn't mean I
  don't want the blood of others.
Aja:  (flexes her shoulder)  It was a deep cut, but I'll live...
  which is more than I can say for that bastard Canis.  For cutting
  me, he'll pay...and pay dearly.
Belphanior:  How about you, Charlie?  That monk smashed you up
  pretty good.
Razor Charlie:  (jerks a thumb at Aja)  I'm fine, now.
Aja:  (silently appreciates being appreciated)
Ys:  I am far from full strength, but I too am ready.
Otto:  (to Belphanior)  How about you?  That pyrohydra belched a
  good bit of fire on you.
Belphanior:  I got better.
Skektek:  Hmm, we sure could use that pyrohydra on this one.
Belphanior:  Impossible.  Alindyar put it in that magical cage of
  his and took it back to Greyhawk.
Skektek:  Oh.
Aja:  We'll do fine.
Skektek:  (casts a baleful glance at her)
wispy thing:  Snrrr.
Belphanior:  Where have you been?
wispy thing:  (grins)  Nrp, nrp.
Belphanior:  Bah.
Otto:  (sits down on a chair, backwards, leaning over its back)  So
  how long until we leave?
Belphanior:  Tomorrow morning.  I want to talk to Victoria before
  we go.
Skektek:  I have a question.
Aja:  You would.
Skektek:  (ignores the priestess, although his fist is clenched
  under the table)
Belphanior:  The question?
Skektek:  Those whom we slew...either in the great battle or at
  other times...
Aja:  You refer to the two who Victoria gutted and bled dry?
Skektek:  Yes, those two.  Anyway, by my count there were seven
  dead, eight if you count that one I blew up with my wand.  These
  were powerful foes...the sort to possess magical items aplenty.
  (he picks his teeth)  So, why don't we _use_ those magical items
  for this mission?
Belphanior:  Ah, good question.  I'll make it simple:  the items in
  question have in fact been recovered and collected.  But, we don't
  have the time to test them, or figure out what they're good for.
Skektek:  Hmm.  Good point.
Belphanior:  Plus, I don't want to take the chance that something
  one of them carried could give away our presence.
Aja:  Sounds good to me.
Skektek:  (scowls)
Belphanior:  Fear not.  All of those magical items will be divided
  when the time is right.
Otto:  (looking around)  Well, if you'll excuse me, I have poisons
  to prepare.
Jutokai:  And I have arrowheads to sharpen.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (he cracks his knuckles)  Okay, everyone do
  whatever you do to get ready for something like this.  We'll
  meet here right after dawn, and leave then.

next:      to the Holds of the Sea Princes!
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     This one was written during the one-game NL wild-card
  playoff on 9/28/98.  Cubs vs Giants.

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