Chapter #652

previous chapter (#651)                                                                  next chapter (#653)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Peldor          20th level human thief                                +
+   Tanya            5th/11th level female human fighter/thief            +
+     Felicia        3rd level female human thief                         +
+   Date:           2/4/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "I never think of the future - it comes soon enough."                 +
+                                                     - Albert Einstein   +

                     DCLII.  Making Up For Lost Time

  Like many of his friends, Peldor had enjoyed a good year...thirteen
months, actually - how time flew!  A lot had changed for the formerly-
reckless and careless master thief.  For years, he had wandered the world
without any ties or anyone to be responsible for besides himself.  That,
of course, had changed when he met Tanya - and just over a year ago, it
had changed even more as their daughter was born.  They had pondered a
number of names, for far too long, before settling on one that they both
liked:  Ariel.
  Saying that little baby Ariel had changed everything would have been a
vast understatement.  For the first time, it had occurred to Peldor that
he was getting old.  Not physically, of course - in fact, he looked and
felt about the same, physically, as he could ever remember.  It was the
mental and emotional aspects that wore on him, though it was mostly a
pleasant wearing.  His family changed the way he did business, for now
he had to keep their best interests in mind, as well as his own and those
of the Thieves' Guild.
  That organization was doing well, prospering under the hand of one who
could not be manipulated or bought.  To tell the truth, Peldor had more
money than he or his would ever need, and all of their futures were more
than secure in that respect.  This was but one reason why he'd declined
Mongo's quest for the greatest treasure in history.  Not that he hadn't
been tempted - he had, more than anyone else knew - but again, things had
changed.  Anyhow, both his personal finances and those of the Guild had
flourished.  Peldor had made investments in just about every area there
was to invest in, learning as he went.  He'd found that a little money
loaned at the right time tended to turn into more money later on.  Favors
were also a valuable commodity, and he was in the position to grant them.
Unknown to anyone else but Tanya, Peldor kept a logbook of all debts owed
to him, financial or otherwise.  Suffice it to say that a number of local
merchants, businessmen, and nobles were somehow in Peldor's debt.
  All of this led to another desirable effect:  Peldor was generally
well-liked and popular.  To be sure, some of those to whom he had offered
favors had resented them, and him.  Peldor had ensured that those debts
had been collected quickly, and that no further inducements to resentment
were offered.  It was more than the favors and such, however; he was
proving to be a genuinely good guy, something that his old adventuring
companions had known for a long time.  Peldor wasn't the sort of fellow
who would take a dislike to someone and take steps to make their life
miserable.  That, combined with the fact that he certainly had the power
to do so (and the fact that everyone _knew_ it) made him unique.  He was
a fair and pleasant person at the top of an unfair and often unpleasant
organization and profession.  Simply being so dissimilar to the likes of
Sharyn Messandier or Simpkin seemed to make a big difference to most people
who dealt with the master thief.
  This was not to say that he couldn't be ruthlessly efficient when it was
called for.  For example, Peldor had recently learned of a wealthy merchant
who had refused to pay his dues to the Guild, despite repeated warnings and
second chances.  The man certainly had the money, but was just lacking the
proper motivation.  A well-planned and -executed raid on his business had
done wonders for the merchant's attitude, however.  Such incidents, while
most infrequent, served well to remind others that Peldor could definitely
play hardball when he needed to.
  The Guild Quartermasters, while not all Peldor's choices, were doing
their jobs and doing them well.  Part of the reason why could have been
the mysterious disappearance of Sharyn, almost two years ago.  Very few
people had intimate knowledge of those events, but many people did know
that she had been cheating the system and pursuing her own ends, just as
they knew that one night Sharyn and her major allies had died or vanished.
After the series of incidents involving Sharyn, Peldor had been worried
about the possibility of more bad apples in the bunch.  So far, however,
he had no cause for concern.
  That was about it for the Guild-related business.  Peldor's personal
business - the Green Dragon Inn - had similarly prospered.  Bosco didn't
exactly run the casino with an iron fist, but he did make sure that the
patrons had fun and didn't cheat.  Sometimes, Peldor reckoned, it took
a master swindler to detect master swindlers.  When Bosco did find such
unscrupulous customers, it was never long before they ended up on the
street - sometimes forcibly, if Vinnie was around.
  Vinnie, like Felicia (and Bosco before them) was close enough to
Peldor and Tanya to be considered as family.  The big bouncer not only
worked in the inn, but lived there as well.  At this point, he had
personally found, hired, and in some cases trained every bouncer in
the establishment.  On those rare occasions that the inn was closed
and Vinnie and the boys went out for a night on the town, there was
sure to be chaos.

  With the birth of little Ariel, Felicia had taken over Tanya's duties
behind the bar.  As a teenager, Felicia had been in a sort of years-long
apprenticeship anyway; it only made sense that she step up and handle
the barkeep responsibilities now that Tanya had other things to worry
about.  Felicia was no slouch - besides being a hard and diligent worker,
she knew many aspects of the business, how it was run, what was good and
bad for it, and so on.  Of course, such a young barkeep never failed to
attract attention from the more rowdy (and inebriated) patrons.  However,
Felicia was a spunky young woman now, one who had no problem dealing with
those who needed to be dealt with.  On those occasions where things might
have gotten out of hand, Vinnie was there to set things right.
  As for the baby, well...Ariel wasn't really a helpless baby anymore.
She now crawled about and uttered nonsense words, and seemed unusually
curious for a tyke of her age.  She also seemed to be rather intelligent,
or so Peldor and Tanya liked to think; they knew that every parent always
thought that their child was unusually bright.  Time would tell, but for
now, Tanya had given most of her attention to little Ariel, only dealing
with aspects of the Inn when the baby was asleep and the mother could
sneak away for an hour or two.
  Something else had changed around the inn:  the atmosphere.  Early the
previous year, Peldor had decided that the inn needed performers, people
who could put on some kind of show for the patrons while they ate and
drank.  Bosco had pushed for jugglers and acrobats and such, but Peldor's
vision was higher than that.  A short while later, the house magician and
bard had made their debut at the Green Dragon Inn.  The first magician
hadn't worked out, nor had the second, but the third seemed more skilled
and more content and was still around.  Like many of the inn's more loyal
and longtime employees, he lived in the place.
  The magician's name was Zamir the Magnificent, and he specialized in
what many magi considered to be beneath them:  harmless illusions, things
that went flash and bang and made people ooh and aah, minor creations that
interacted with the crowd, and so forth.  A jovial, fun-loving man in his
late thirties, Zamir genuinely loved the attention and applause of his
audience.  From his talks with the fellow, Peldor understood that the
magician had traveled around the world honing his skills and giving shows,
but in his middle years he'd decided to give up the hectic road life and
settle down somewhere.  Zamir's stage assistant, a comely young girl named
Lorraine, also happened to be his lover - but that wasn't common knowledge
and Peldor figured it was their business anyway.
  The house bard was unusual mostly because of her gender.  Some sort of
common opinion seemed to dictate that bards had to be male; however, on
a business trip to Furyondy, Peldor had the good luck to hear the singing
of a lovely young woman, possibly of elven lineage, in a higher-class
tavern.  The woman's voice was clear and amazingly powerful, and she'd
held the audience enthralled for her entire performance, singing of old
heroes, dangerous quests, eternal love affairs, and more.  Peldor had
taken her aside that night and made her an offer that caused her jaw to
drop.  So it was that the bardess Aimee (unusual name and all) had come
to work in Greyhawk, at the Green Dragon Inn.  Given the crowd's rather
thunderous reaction after every song, it had been a wise investment for
Peldor and a wise career move for Aimee.

  That was then, and this was now.  Peldor sat up with a start, realizing
that he'd fallen asleep at his desk again.  This seemed to be happening a
lot lately, probably due to the lack of sleep that he and Tanya experienced
on a regular basis.  Shit!  He was supposed to meet Tanya at the inn for
lunch, while Ariel was having one of her daily naps!
  Bolting from his office, he almost forgot to lock it in his haste.  A
very short time later, Peldor darted into his inn.

Felicia:  (behind the bar at what looks to be a fairly slow lunchtime rush)
  You okay?
Peldor:  (out of breath)  Yeah.  Did Tanya come down yet?
Felicia:  (gestures at a ubiquitous corner booth)
Peldor:  Ah.  Thanks, kid.
Felicia:  (talking to herself)  Kid?  I'm not a kid anymore.

  Peldor slid into the booth, almost surprising Tanya despite the booth's
good location for watching the rest of the common room.

Peldor:  Hi...sorry I'm late.
Tanya:  You're not late.  Been sleeping on the job again?
Peldor:  (sighs)
Tanya:  It's rough, but I'd say it's been worth it.
Peldor:  Undoubtedly.
Tanya:  Say, any idea when Bosco's coming back?
Peldor:  No.  From what I understand, they could be traveling across the
  world.  Hell, if the legends of their destination are even half-true,
  some of them may not be coming back at all.
Tanya:  Hmm.
Peldor:  Why?  Do we need him for something?
Tanya:  Not really - the casino's running smoothly under his assistants.
  It's just that, well...
Peldor:  What?
Tanya:  Bosco had been acting strange lately, like he was looking over
  his shoulder.  I was thinking back to the last time someone came for
  his head and almost got it.  I guess I just wish there was some way to
  set things right for him.
Peldor:  Yeah...times like that, I almost wish I could be like Belphanior
  and eliminate the problem right then and there, permanently.
Tanya:  (frowns)  Belphanior.  He creates two problems for every one he
  solves.  That's why he never runs out of problems.
Peldor:  (ponders this)  Hmm.
Tanya:  Fortunately for all of us, you're not like Belphanior.
Peldor:  True.
Tanya:  Well, I guess Bosco's out there on his own now, for better or
Peldor:  (smiles)  Even if someone was able to track him down, I doubt
  that they'd be able to take him...not with Mongo and Belphanior there.
Tanya:  True, true.  Something else that's been on my mind...
Peldor:  What's that?
Tanya:  Didn't you once say that those tattoos have some mighty powers?
Peldor:  Indeed they do.  You know this.
Tanya:  One in particular...the wish.
Peldor:  (wearily)  Ah, yes.  The wish.  The dreaded wish.
Tanya:  (frowns)
Peldor:  You're probably wondering why I don't just use that tattoo every
  once in a while to wish for something great...eternal happiness, or
  untold wealth, or secure power?
Tanya:  Er...something like that.
Peldor:  It's simple:  the wish is a powerful form of magic, maybe the
  most powerful.  I don't pretend to understand it, nor do I want to.
  What it comes down to is this:  you don't use such magic without damn
  good reason.  I don't care if some of the magic "goes to waste" - just
  because I _have_ this great power doesn't mean it's _right_ to use it
  as much as I can.  (he regards her)  Does that make any sense?
Tanya:  (smiles)  Sometimes I take you for granted...and then you say
  something like that and I remember why I married you.
Peldor:  (shrugs)  Being a Peldor isn't all fun and games.

next:      a bit of revenge
released:  6/29/00
notes:     You can now find Felicia and Vinnie's stats on the character
  pages on the web page.

    New ranting in the site's "2000" section:

    Part of the problem with loose ends is that when you tackle them in
  a story, you have to avoid making it look obvious - something that I've
  only been partially successful at.
    This was one of those stories that I wrote without ever referencing
  rulebooks or notes - it was all just there in my head, waiting to be
  transcribed.  At the same time, these characters (especially Peldor)
  seem to have gotten the "soap-opera" syndrome:  it's impossible to tell
  of their lives without it turning into a family drama.  This is why they
  will only get the occasional story, like this one, amidst a dozen tales
  of Belphanior.  And this brings up another important point that readers
  need to understand but often can't/don't/won't:  having the original
  Adventurers lineup CONTINUE to adventure together for years and years
  and NEVER find mates and settle down and change would be utterly and
  completely unrealistic.  Sorry, but that's just the way it is.  There's
  just no way around it.  I chronicled virtually every aspect of these
  peoples' lives for years, told all of their stories, and still, when
  the dust cleared, all the human characters were 30 or approaching it.
    There seem to be two options:  1) continue to tell their stories,
  families/children and all, or 2) move on to new characters.  Though
  the Adventurers' tales are nowhere near their finale, this is something
  that I as a writer and you as readers have to start thinking about.  It
  isn't going to last forever.

    Sorry to make such a rant out of this subject, but someone who finds
  my stories and reads all 600+ of them in a week may not realize that
  those 600+ stories represent NINE YEARS of my life (eleven if you count
  the time in which we actually played, before I began writing.)  As I've
  grown and changed, so have my stories and my writing style...and so
  have the characters.

previous chapter (#651)                                                                  next chapter (#653)