Chapter #591

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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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Belphanior     (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief    (CN) +
+    Otto           8th/10th level dwarven fighter/thief       (CN) +
+    Aja            9th level human priestess of Wee Jas        (N) +
+    Jutokai        7th level human archer                     (LN) +
+    Skektek       12th level human wizard                     (CN) +
+    Victoria      11th level human vampiress/fighter          (NE) +
+    the wispy thing                                                +
+                                                                   +
+    Neko          human female thief (new marshal)                 +
+    Zhao          human swordsman (new marshal)                    +
+                                                                   +
+                                                                   +
+                                                                   +
+  Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard (NG) +
+     Deryck       11th level half-elven ranger                (NG) +
+                                                                   +
+  Peldor          20th level human thief                       (N) +
+     Tanya         5th/11th level female human warrior/thief  (LN) +
+     Bosco        12th level halfling thief                   (CN) +
+                                                                   +
+  Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven warrior/druid     (N) +
+    Daffodil      11th level human female druidess             (N) +
+                                                                   +
+  Rob             16th level priest of Trithereon             (LG) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:           7/12/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+  Time:           night                                            +
+  Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                        +
+  Climate:        warm and muggy                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I never walk into a place I don't know how to walk out of."     +
+                                                   - from _Ronin_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                     DXCI.  Launching Point





  Peldor regarded the motley crew gathered in the lobby of his inn,
a combination of surprise and resignation running through his mind.
Of course, he would have been a whole lot more surprised if Alindyar
hadn't warned him about the impending arrival of the group.  He'd
gone ahead and prepared a block of eight rooms; it had not been
easy, but he owed Belphanior that much.

Belphanior:  Excellent!  We shall only be staying for a day or two,
  until I can talk with Peyote and Rob and figure out what the next
  step is.
Peldor:  There's room for everybody at the Green Dragon Inn.  I've
  also got other guests:  Peyote and Daffodil, and Nenya and Deryck.
Belphanior:  Daffodil?  What is a "Daffodil"?
Peldor:  Peyote's lady-friend.  She's a happy-go-lucky kind of woman.
Bosco:  (turns from his seat at the bar)  She's a bitch, is what she
  is.
Peldor:  Now, Bosco.  Be nice.
Bosco:  (muttering to himself)
Belphanior:  So you think Peyote's not coming along, nor is Nenya...
  but Rob is?
Peldor:  That's my guess.  I suppose Alindyar told you.
Belphanior:  (nods)  I'd sure like to have the drow along.  We could
  use their power.
Peldor:  (shaking his head)  That's only a little more likely than
  me coming along.  They're really busy these days - I doubt you'll
  have any luck.
Belphanior:  Well, there's always Rob.  (he frowns)  Still, I sure
  wish Peyote would see fit to come along on this jaunt...it was,
  after all, his idea.  (he shakes his head)
Peldor:  (eyeing the marshals)  Where's the big lizard-guy?
Belphanior:  Everybody has to have their turn on - and off - of these
  missions.  Ys and Razor Charlie will be holding the fort down in
  Helgate.  But as you can see, I found two new ones.
Peldor:  Let's just hope they survive this quest.  From what the
  others are saying, this Xusia character sounds like a dangerous
  one.
Belphanior:  He is.  We got lucky last time, but we're going to need
  luck and power this time.
Peldor:  Yeah...
Belphanior:  Where's Tanya?
Peldor:  She took Daffodil out into the city, to show her around.
  (he shrugs)  Maybe they'll hit it off.
Belphanior:  (glances at his people)  I guess I need to talk to
  Peyote, and Rob.  Are they about?
Peldor:  They're in a suite upstairs, trying to figure out where in
  the world Xusia is.
Belphanior:  Maybe I can help.
Peldor:  I'll have my staff show all of you to your rooms, then I'll
  take you to Peyote's suite.

  A short time later, the marshals were settled in, and Belphanior
was poring over ancient writings, along with some of the others.
The elf had prepared for such a meeting; before leaving Helgate,
he'd consulted with the town sage, wizened Yrbel.  The man had
possessed no real information, however, only an ancient map that
might or might not be of use.  Of more use, apparently, was the
wealth of scrolls and tomes that Nenya had brought.  These offered
various facts, rumors, and perhaps secrets concerning the ancient
Sueloise empire and its most famous - and infamous - citizens.

Rob:  Lucky for us that Ged saved all this stuff.
Deryck:  And that Nenya organized it.
Nenya:  (nods)
Deryck:  (to Nenya)  This grows boring.  I am going down to have
  supper.
Nenya:  Very well...I can't say for sure when we'll be done here.
Peyote:  I think what we're headed toward here is a small list of
  possible places the lich would be...then maybe our magic and our
  gods can guide us further...narrow it down.
Belphanior:  A sensible plan.

  It took hours...hours of poring over the old scrolls and books,
comparing and cross-checking and contradicting, and working various
divination magic.  They followed the Isle of Woe angle for a while,
but as far as they could tell - and they didn't believe their gods
would lie to them - Xusia no longer occupied that fell place.  They
were back to square one, and the midnight oil was burning low.  It
was long, frustrating work...but finally, it paid off.  Well after
the stroke of midnight, they had what they were looking for!

Rob:  The Vast Swamp!
Peyote:  That's why my forest-based scryings weren't getting me any
  answers.
Belphanior:  A swamp...that's as good a place as any for a lich to
  build its power base.
Peyote:  One lich already did, according to the legends...surely
  you've heard of Acererak?
Belphanior:  (smirks)  A bunch of us already cleared him out, some
  time ago.
Peyote:  No way!
Belphanior:  Yes way.  I got turned into a female, and Mongo almost
  bit the dust, but we prevailed.  (he regards Nenya)  In large part,
  thanks to Ged.
Nenya:  The swamp will be hot...steamy, at this time of year.  The
  journey there will be rough, even though these maps give us a
  good rough indication of where this tomb is.
Belphanior:  Or used to be.
Rob:  Leave the travel arrangements to me.  (he stands, stretching)
  We should get some sleep.
Peyote:  Right you are, dude.
Nenya:  You'll leave on the morrow, then?
Belphanior:  That would be the best idea.  (to Rob)  I need to talk
  to you for a bit.
Rob:  What about?
Belphanior:  Let's take a walk.

  Shortly...

Rob:  What was that all about?
Belphanior:  _We_ must talk, you and I.
Rob:  Very well.  (they sit down at an empty table)  What can I do
  for you?
Belphanior:  It's more like, what you must NOT do, for me or for you.
Rob:  Eh?
Belphanior:  I have an...ally for this quest.
Rob:  Allies are good.
Belphanior:  This particular ally may not seem so good to you.  See,
  she's a vampire.
Rob:  A vampire?!?
Belphanior:  Yep.  And she will offer us much assistance against the
  lich...which is why her safety must be guaranteed.
Rob:  But...a vampire!
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  Hey, either we reach an agreement on this, or
  my marshals and I go back home.  You make the call.
Rob:  (frowning)  A most bizarre situation, this.
Belphanior:  (sits back, his arms crossed)  We need her.  Undead
  have great power against other undead.  She will be of much use
  on this mission.
Rob:  ...very well.  A truce, then.
Belphanior:  Good.  (he stands)  Now if you'll excuse me, I've got
  to prepare my people.  (he nods, and leaves, heading upstairs)
Rob:  (shaking his head)  A vampire...this bodes ill...

  Soon...

Belphanior:  It is done.

  The elf stood in his room in the Green Dragon, helping Victoria
prepare the chamber:  thick black cloth sheets were draped over the
windows, and the door was doubly secured.

Victoria:  Sorry about all this, but I'm sure you understand.
Belphanior:  Hey, no problem.  I'm just glad to have you along.
Victoria:  It's mainly because of the ring you acquired for me.
  It doesn't bother me as much simply to sleep in a small coffin
  during the daytime, inside the portable hole...but with this ring,
  I can be sure that no matter what happens, I can escape to a
  distant place of safety, in an instant, before the sun's rays
  can do more than irritate me.
Belphanior:  The sun's rays, or some priest's magic.
Victoria:  I suppose it's a good thing you talked to him.  I'd have
  hated to have to gut him, right here in the middle of this city.
Belphanior:  He'll pose no problem - his word is his bond.  But do
  be careful not to provoke him.
Victoria:  (smiles)  I promise.
Belphanior:  (sighs)
Victoria:  What is it?
Belphanior:  I'm wishing I'd had more time to study Kronos' spell-
  book before this...well, I had the time, but I didn't know I'd
  be needing powerful necromantic spells this soon.
Victoria:  There's no way you could have known.
Belphanior:  As soon as this Xusia business is over and done with,
  I'm going to discover the secrets of Kronos' spellbook...and I'm
  also going to figure out some way to keep people from finding me
  through scrying, as I assume Omak did.  (he frowns)  Hmm, maybe
  I should make a to-do list.
Victoria:  Well, I have another thing you need to add to such a list.
Belphanior:  What's that?
Victoria:  Come here...






next:      they're off!
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     Thanks to Quentin Stephens, Andy Hurd, David Murphy, Bob
  Ericksen, and Sasha P. for ideas used or mentioned thus far in
  this story arc.
    Here is a complete history of Xusia, the Suel lich, as he has
  appeared thus far in my stories:

  - episode 235       freed from entombment by Ged et al.
  -         455       sent Skorvus to the crypt in the Vesve
  -         525       harassed Belphanior
  -         59?       will have to deal with Belphanior again



    An after-note on the new spells mentioned in episode 585...they
  are now on the web page, within the "Arcanum" section.  I had to
  do some level and description changes to make them more in line
  with existing spells and levels, but they're up and ready for you.
  Thanks to Joe Katzman for some helpful suggestions for these three
  spells.
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