Chapter #686

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
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+     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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+                                                                         +
+   Peldor          20th level human thief                                +
+   Tanya            5th/11th level female human fighter/thief            +
+     Felicia        3rd level female human thief                         +
+     Vinnie         8th level human warrior                              +
+                                                                         +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess                      +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger                               +
+      Zephyr          rather large tiger                                 +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Rob             16th level human priest                               +
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+   Date:           2/17/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           early evening                                         +
+   Place:          the Green Dragon Inn, in Greyhawk                     +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
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+   "He who does not punish evil commands it to be done."                 +
+                                                  - Leonardo DaVinci     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   DCLXXXVI.  It All Comes Together





  After taking care of his primary business for the day, Peldor had
stopped back by the inn, only to find his guests engaged in debate (and
occasional divination).  It irked him a little bit that they'd just let
loose with their spells - even harmless and quiet ones - within his inn.
Since he didn't want to seem like a bad host, he'd let it pass and then
left again to run some more errands.  A guildmaster's work was never
done; there were always a hundred little things to worry about.  Some of
the city's businesses hadn't paid their protection fees, and Peldor had
to decide what course of action was most appropriate to deal with this.
On another front, his attempts to contact the Sultanate of Zeif had not
met with any answer.  A trip to that faraway land, however, was out of
the question.  There were times when Peldor wondered seriously about the
feasibility of finding himself a viable, reliable, and safe means of
teleportation or transport.  Something that could whisk him halfway
across the continent would come in damn handy at times.
  Aside from these concerns, there were also more general matters, such
as the upcoming Oligarchs' votes about building up the city's western
wall and the taxation of the outlying lands.  The trick with the latter
was, of course, to squeeze them _just hard enough_ but not too hard.
There were times, though, when Peldor wondered what the point of it all
was.  He'd learned firsthand about the evils of government, the ways that
it kept things from the general populace, the secrets that most people
would never know about.  What it came down to was that the few were
making decisions for the many.
  This train of thought always led to the same conclusion, though:  it
was far better to be one of the rulers than one of the ruled.  The
only drawback was the additional responsibility and stress.  For now
at least, he could deal with it...and between his family and the daily
adventure that was the Green Dragon Inn, he had enough good things to
balance out the bad.
  Returning from his errands in the early afternoon, Peldor had found
the others gone, with Tanya unaware of exactly where they'd gotten off
to.  All she knew was that they would return later...though it turned
out to be a lot later than expected.  Shortly after dusk fell, the crew
made their way into the inn.

Peyote:  Honey!  I'm home!
Rob:  We have, I believe, a plan.
Peldor:  We should retire to the back booth.

  One of the things Peldor had always wanted - and finally gotten when
he rebuilt the inn - was a big private booth, well away from the common
room and prying eyes and ears.  He used this to entertain good friends,
important city personages, and visiting dignitaries.  It came in handy
at times, allowing important business to be discussed and conducted in
a cozy setting.

Peldor:  So, you people figured it out?
Daffodil:  As best as it _can_ be figured out.
Tanya:  That sounds...ominous.
Nenya:  Actually, it is.
Deryck:  We have some rough times ahead.
Peldor:  What in the world are you talking about?
Rob:  Well, therein lies a tale...
Tanya:  This I'd like to hear.
Felicia:  (appearing from somewhere)  Me too.

  Meanwhile, in front of the inn, Vinnie was pretty close to having his
hands full...

Vinnie:  -and I'll say it again:  no drunks!
drunken fellow #1:  But we're hungry!
Vinnie:  And there are a lot of other restaurants that smell just like
  you do, but this isn't one of them.
drunken fellow #2:  Waah!
drunken fellow #3:  (to drunken fellow #1)  I told you we'd never get
  in!
drunken fellow #1:  (produces a small handful of coins and presents them
  to Vinnie)  C'mon, let us in!
Vinnie:  If I took those coins, how would you pay for your meal?
drunken fellow #2:  Waaaaaaah!  You said I'd get to see the mighty
  Peldor!
drunken fellow #1:  (sheepishly)  Sorry, guy...
drunken fellow #3:  I say we go in anyway!
Zephyr:  (sleeping beneath the front stairs, he rolls and yawns, his
  huge head popping into view as he regards the three drunkards through
  sleepy eyes)  Rowwwwwwrf.
drunken fellow #1:  Ack!  (he turns and flees at top speed)
drunken fellow #2:  (runs after the other)  The mighty Peldor can wait til
  another day!  I'm outta here!
drunken fellow #3:  Hey, wait for me!
Vinnie:  (watches them go, chuckling)  I'm kinda glad that Peldor decided
  the cat was harmless enough to sleep out front.

  Inside the inn...

Rob:  -so what it comes down to is this:  the attack at Peyote's home
  and the weird amulet in Nenya's suel museum have the same stink of evil
  about them...and the evil has a name.
Halbarad:  Xusia.
Peldor:  And you're _sure_ that this is the same person that Belphanior's
  fought all those times before?
Peyote:  One and the same, dude.
Rob:  Though, to be accurate, one or another of us has been there to help
  every time.
Daffodil:  Not me.
Peyote:  You'll get a turn.  (he shakes his head)  Too bad Belphanior let
  this Xusia guy out of the dungeons.
Peldor:  Actually, it was Ged.
Peyote:  Oh.
Peldor:  Belphanior's got enough on his conscience...he doesn't need to
  be held responsible for things he _didn't_ do.
Peyote:  Gotcha.  I didn't know, man.
Peldor:  Well, now you do, so it's okay.
Daffodil:  What do we know about the lich?  Other than his status as an
  agent of Orcus, I mean?
Tanya:  Uh...
Nenya:  It's best not to say such beings' names aloud...sometimes they
  hear.
Daffodil:  Sorry...I'm not a wizard, remember, so I don't deal with such
  things or their consequences.  But I'll remember the warning.
Nenya:  Good enough.  To answer your question:  he was an archmage back
  in the ancient Suel empire.
Peyote:  And that's _old_.
Rob:  He was as cruel as he was mighty, and human life meant nothing to
  him.  His massacres were legendary, even back then.
Nenya:  And even when he died, he didn't stop his ways, for he became a
  lich.
Peyote:  Sometime after that, as we all know, the Suel and Bakluni empires
  went to war and wiped each other out.
Rob:  Along with a sizable piece of the continent.
Nenya:  Sometime before that all took place, Xusia went into hiding...or
  some would say hibernation.  It's not clear exactly how, but he fell off
  the face of the world, and was thought dead.
Rob:  We've pieced all of this together...the clues were there, but only
  those, combined with recent events-
Peyote:  And some helluva powerful magic!
Rob:  -and our keen minds, all together, led us to the answer.
Peldor:  Hmm.
Tanya:  Hmmmmmmm.
Deryck:  (to Felicia)  I don't know about you, but I've sure learned a
  lot today.
Felicia:  (nods)  Me too.
Peldor:  Well...that's all fine and dandy, but there's one question I'm
  still not seeing the answer to.
Halbarad:  What's that?
Peldor:  Where is Xusia right now...and what are you going to do about him?
Peyote:  That's two questions.  (he takes a drink from his glass)
Peldor:  Bear with me, dude.
Peyote:  (nearly chokes and spits his wine out)
Peldor:  (smirks)
Rob:  Our respective deities have seen fit to help us discern the where-
  abouts of the lich, but once we know where to go, there's still one small
  problem.
Halbarad:  Namely, that whatever the evil one's defenses and allies, just
  the handful of us won't be enough to take him down.
Felicia:  (stands)  So when do we leave?
Tanya:  Absolutely not.
Felicia:  Eh?
Peldor:  Nice try, kid, but you're staying here.
Tanya:  (almost as an afterthought)  With us.
Felicia:  But-
Tanya:  Why in the world would you have expected to go?  They're quite
  possibly heading to their deaths-  (she eyes Halbarad and Peyote)  Err,
  I didn't mean it like that.
Halbarad:  It's quite all right.  Most things I get involved with carry
  a lot of risk, so I'm used to it.
Peyote:  You said it, dude.
Peldor:  (to Halbarad)  Maybe the best thing is to just have a look...scout
  the lich's lair out, get an idea of who and what you're up against.
Halbarad:  (rubbing his stubbled chin thoughtfully)  My thoughts exactly.





next:      you will _never_ guess!
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
released:  10/26/00
notes:     Regarding the "off-screen" nature of the divinations made by
  the granola gang this episode...this is part of what I'm trying to do:
  get away from the actual game mechanics (the things that would happen
  in a room full of players and dice) and get closer to the STORY itself
  (what would happen in the fictional world).  I don't see the need to
  explain and quantify everything that happens; since my stories are
  tied into a gaming system, I'll have related stuff (like when I give
  you stats, modules, items, spells, etc. for your own use) but in the big
  picture, I just don't see 100% explicit definition of game mechanics
  as a vital part of my writing.
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