Chapter #586

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+     Tanya      5th/11th level female human warrior/thief     (LN) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        7/10/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        early evening                                       +
+  Place:       the Free City of Greyhawk                           +
+  Climate:     unpleasant                                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "You can't kill him!"                                            +
+  "I have to."                                                     +
+                                      - from _Escape From L.A._    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   DLXXXVI.  Dark Deliverance





Tanya:  Hey, handsome.  Are you ready to help me take stock of the
  wine cellar?  We're a week behind...
Peldor:  I can't - have to take care of some business.  Guild stuff.
Tanya:  Well, you still have a tavern to run so hurry back.
Peldor:  (kisses her)  Shouldn't be more than a couple of hours.
  We'll do it then.

  The master thief left his inn, and shortly thereafter, he left
the River Quarter entirely.  He was heading toward an area of the
Free City that sensible people wanted nothing to do with, unless
they happened to be tasked with guarding it.  Of course, there
were always the infrequent exceptions; today was such an exception.
  Peldor made his way across the rolling meadows, heading uphill on
the paved stone path that led to the Citadel.  The massive structure,
surrounded on all sides by a high wall, occupied the highest ground
in the Free City and overlooked the city and the surrounding lands.
Centuries old, it had been constructed back in the days of Greyhawk's
infancy.  Originally intended as a last redoubt for the small city's
populace in times of dire emergency, it couldn't hold a tenth of the
city's population these days.  Instead, it served as quarters for the
City Watch, and also held the vast stores of weaponry that comprised
the City Arsenal.
  The Citadel also had another purpose:  it housed the worst criminals
in the Free City.  Murderers, arsonists, spies - anyone whose sentence
spanned years, or who was awaiting execution, languished in the great
blockhouse that formed the northern portion of the Citadel.  Between
the heavy security, magical wards, and brutally efficient jailers,
escape from the prison was a rarity these days.
  Access was forbidden to all but the highest-ranking city officials.
Fortunately for Peldor, he was such an official.

guard:  Greetings, Guildmaster.
Peldor:  And to you.  I have business within.  I must see Kaltek Werm.
guard:  Yes, sir.  (he motions to another guard)
other guard:  (marches over)
first guard:  The guildmaster is here to see the Warden.
second guard:  (to Peldor)  Follow me.

  The first guard watched them head through the gate, toward the
massive building within the wall.  He absently fingered the magical
pendant around his neck, hidden beneath his shirt.  If Peldor had
been someone other than who he claimed to be, the guard would have
known and alerted his fellows via secret codes that were changed
every morning.  This was but one of many such security measures
employed by those who manned the Citadel's walls and halls.
  Meanwhile...

second guard:  Follow me.  (he leads Peldor into the huge building,
  then down a hall, through a door, and down another hall)

  They now stood in front of a large, sturdy door; a plate mounted
in this door read "WARDEN WERM."  The guard knocked, and the man
within answered.

voice:  Come in.
guard:  (opens the door)  Warden, Guildmaster of Thieves, Peldor, is
  here to see you.
Warden Werm:  Very well.  Leave us.
guard:  (salutes and leaves)
Peldor:  (enters, closing the door behind him)
Warden Werm:  What can I do for you, Guildmaster?

  Warden Kaltek Werm was a distinguished, well-dressed fellow in his
forties.  He was the absolute master in this, the blockhouse that
served as Greyhawk's prison.  Werm was a rakish noble in every sense
of the term:  an accomplished hunter, gambler, and ladies' man, he
was both respected and feared in the Free City.  He was one of those
people that, left alone, was no trouble; however, if provoked or
angered, he was a dangerous man indeed.
  Be that as it may, Peldor wasn't here for trouble.

Peldor:  I need to talk to one of your prisoners...Sharyn Messandier.
Warden Werm:  Ah.  Maximum security ward.  High treason.

  The warden wasn't trying to show off his keen mind or flaunt his
power; it was simply a statement.

Peldor:  That's the one.  I must talk with her.
Warden Werm:  Yes, Nerof said you might be coming.  Now, normally,
  appointments with prisoners such as she must be made in advance.
Peldor:  Well, I-
Warden Werm:  (he spreads his hands)  But in your case, I'll make an
  exception.  Come.

  Warden Werm took a large keyring off of one wall, then led Peldor
back into the hall.  From there, they made many twists and turns,
such that Peldor became disoriented, unsure which way was which.  At
some points, they also descended, taking stairways large and small
as they ventured down into the lower regions of the blockhouse.  When
Warden Werm unlocked a steel-bound door of black oak and led the way
into a wide, torchlit corridor, Peldor knew they'd entered the cell
block.
  Though Greyhawk had no torture chambers or other such interrogation
methods - at least none that anyone would admit to - the sights and
smells down here reminded the Guildmaster of the dungeons of Necros.
All the unpleasant times that he and his friends had spent in that
foul place came rushing back into the thief's mind, and he nearly
vomited.

Warden Werm:  Are you ill?
Peldor:  N- no...just something I ate for lunch.
Warden Werm:  (counting off call numbers)  Eleven...Twelve...ah, here
  we are.  Thirteen.

  They stopped in front of a cell that was identical to all the other
cells here, save that the number carved into the stone above its door
was different, unique.

Peldor:  I'll be needing to go inside...talk to her face to face.
Warden Werm:  No weapons, then.
Peldor:  I only have my longsword here.
Warden Werm:  (motioning to the two guards who they passed as they
  entered this cell-block)  No weapons in the cells.  We can't risk
  any of these prisoners getting their hands on a weapon of any kind,
  much less a weapon of quality.  Brutus and Bluto here will hold
  your sword even as they guard this cell while you're inside.
Peldor:  (unbuckles his sword, handing it over)
Warden Werm:  (signals to Brutus, who frisks Peldor for any other
  weapons)
Brutus:  He's clean, boss.
Warden Werm:  (signals to Bluto, who slides the bar away from the
  door)
Peldor:  (peers into the dark cell)
Brutus:  (hands Peldor a torch)
Peldor:  Thanks.  (he enters the tiny, damp, musty room)

  The thief could make out a pale, dirty form curled up on a mat of
straw in one corner.  For over a decade now, the ruling body of the
Free City had reasoned that hardened criminals had no need of any
niceties or amenities, and that policy extended especially to those
incarcerated here.  Despite himself, despite the events of the past,
Peldor couldn't help but feel sorry for the woman in this cell.

Sharyn:  (clad in grimy, tattered rags)  Who the hell is it?
Peldor:  It is Peldor.
Sharyn:  You?  (she sits up)  YOU?!?
Peldor:  We have to talk.

  When he'd decided to come here, Peldor hadn't been sure exactly
why.  He didn't know what he could say to Sharyn, or what he could
do to influence the outcome of her incarceration.  He didn't really
want to see her be executed or die in jail, but at the same time he
didn't want her loose, perhaps seeking revenge.  Now, with a baby
on the way, he especially didn't want someone who hated him to be
free, out on the loose.  Nevertheless, he'd felt the need to come
here, at least to confront his enemy.

Sharyn:  Nothing to talk about.  Go away.
Peldor:  I didn't want things to work out like this.  If you'd just
  been able to co-operate...work with me and the others, rather than
  for your own ends and plots.
Sharyn:  It's a twisted game, one that you may someday get to play.
Peldor:  I doubt it.
Sharyn:  Then you are a fool.  And you are wasting my time.  (she
  grimaces, hissing at him)  Leave.
Peldor:  Look.  I need some information.  Work with me and I can at
  least get you some better-
Sharyn:  (shrieking)  LEAVE!

  As Peldor turned to leave, unsure of why he'd even come here in
the first place, he didn't see the prisoner stand, quickly and
quietly.  Her wiry form was poised to pounce, one hand clutching a
shard of stone in a death-grip.  She'd worked on the makeshift
weapon for weeks, a moment or two at a time, always on the night
shift, always looking and listening in case a guard approached.
She'd hidden the weapon numerous times, and avoided using it when
the chance had possibly come.  The reason?  She had, quite simply,
gone insane.  Perhaps she had already been insane before, but now
she was down to another level of madness.  All she thought about -
the only thing that had kept her going through this imprisonment -
was Peldor...attacking Peldor when he came to gloat and spit upon
her...driving her makeshift dagger through his heart, again and
again and again.
  Now, today, her feverish prayers had finally been answered, for
her hated enemy was here with her, and his back was turned!  With
a speed that no one in her condition should have had, Sharyn leapt
from her crouch, the sliver of stone held before her...

Peldor:  (senses movement behind him, and whirls)  Damn-

  His sixth sense probably saved his life, for he suffered a deep
gash across the chest rather than a stab to the heart.  He caught
Sharyn as she struck, both of them tumbling to the hard stone floor.
They rolled sideways, colliding with the wall, then rolled back the
other way.  Peldor kept the stone dagger at bay with one hand while
his other hand blocked Sharyn's raking fingernails.  She had the
advantage of anger and surprise, but Peldor was the stronger, and
after invoking one of his magical tattoo-powers, he was the faster
as well.  Grabbing her weapon-hand, he brought his elbow around and
into her face, smashing her nose.  Blood fountained, and he took
advantage of the shock to roll around and get on top.
  The maneuver had an unexpected side-effect:  it put Peldor's full
weight on top of the stone dagger, driving it right into the woman's
heart!

Peldor:  (stands, even as the guards burst into the cell)

  It had happened that fast.  Sharyn now lay in a spreading pool of
her own blood, the last spark of life finally fled from her ragged
body and tortured mind.

Warden Werm:  (follows the two guards in)  Oh, dear lord.
Peldor:  Self-defense...she had a weapon.
Brutus:  (holds the makeshift stone dagger up)  It's true.  She had
  this.
Warden Werm:  (sighs)  Are you okay?
Peldor:  I'm cut fairly badly, but I'll live.  What's the procedure
  here?
Warden Werm:  Well, the prisoner attacked you, and you did what you
  had to.  With myself and the guards as witnesses, I'm sure this
  will be a simple matter to resolve.
Peldor:  I'd appreciate that.

  The Guildmaster didn't have to add that he wouldn't make note of
what he felt were lax security procedures when it came to visitors
and their safety in the prison.  No words were necessary; both men
understood each other clearly, and Peldor knew changes would occur.
The Warden was not the sort of man who made a mistake twice...and
he was not the sort to waste a chance to gain another ally in the
city government.

Warden Werm:  Come upstairs, and we'll have that cleaned and bandaged.
Peldor:  (nods)

  With that, they left the cell, and Peldor also left behind one of
his greatest foes...one who would trouble him no more.
  Unfortunately, though he made haste back to his home, not even
the cloak that Werm had given him could hide the evidence from the
sharper eyes that were about...

Vinnie:  Holy shit, boss!  What happened?
patrons:  (staring at the thief's bloodsoaked garments, they begin
  chattering)
Peldor:  Quiet.  Let's not cause a scene.
Vinnie:  Too late.  Come on.  (he grabs Peldor's arm to escort him
  to a private room, shielding him from the view of most of the
  patrons.
Tanya:  (seeing that something's up, she hurries after them)
Peldor:  (brushes away Vinnie's hand)  I'm okay.  Half of it's not
  even my blood.
Tanya:  (enters, and is immediately alarmed)  By the gods!
Peldor:  I'm fine, really.  Vinnie, would you be so kind as to get
  me a washbasin?
Vinnie:  Sure, boss.  (he leaves)
Tanya:  What happened?
Peldor:  Well...you could just say that I saw to the security of
  our unborn child.  I didn't quite mean for things to turn out
  like they did, but now that I think about it, maybe it was all
  for the better.





next:      Peyote comes to Greyhawk
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           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
email:     tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     This was a spur-of-the-moment story and idea.  Sharyn
  needed to be dealt with, one way or the other, so I took care of
  it.  Thanks to Jeffrey Smith who, among others, has been asking
  what happened to Sharyn.
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