Chapter #690

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                                   +   +
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                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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   +
+   Alindyar        18th level drow wizard                                +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Peldor          20th level human thief                                +
+   Date:           3/15/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "When a people's survival is at stake, they are not nice in the       +
+    methods that they use."                                              +
+                                  - Michael Howard, _The Causes of War_  +

                          DCXC.  Set-Up

  It was a different Alindyar who returned to Greyhawk, about a month
after first meeting the Lord of Illusions.  Before, the dark elf had
been a weaver of illusions.  Now, he was a changer of reality.  The
arcane and unique knowledge bestowed upon him by Tonberry was just a
small fraction of what the latter possessed, yet it could easily keep
Alindyar occupied for at least a decade.  There was much yet to be
done...much to learn, and much to practice.
  Alindyar recalled his final test, two days past (the effort had laid
him out for more than a day.)  Tonberry had required him to demonstrate
a plethora of illusionary or phantasmal spells, the culmination of this
being the summoning of a Weird (Tonberry called it a Bane) targetting
Tonberry himself.  It was implied that a superior effort on the part of
the student would actually fool the master, if only for a moment or two.
Whether that had been the case or not, Tonberry had deemed Alindyar fit
to return to his normal life...

  Tonberry:  You have done well, and the time has come for you to go
    back and practice.
  Alindyar:  Aye.
  Tonberry:  We shall meet again, from time to time, to conduct further
  Alindyar:  But how can I find you?
  Tonberry:  You won't - _I_ will find _you_.
  Alindyar:  But...
  Tonberry:  You are putting too much thought into this.  The time has
    come for you to leave.

  With a gesture, the weird little green being had sent Alindyar and
Lyra back to Greyhawk.  And here they were, standing in front of their
mansion on this fine, bright day.
  There was only one problem:  the front door had been broken in, and
two city guards stood outside.

city guard #1:  (recoils, alarmed, as the drow appear from nowhere)
city guard #2:  It's them!
Lyra:  Why in the hell is our front door wide open?
Alindyar:  Good question.  Let us go find out.

  Both guards readied their weapons at the dark elves' approach.

city guard #1:  Hold it right there!
city guard #2:  Not another step!
Lyra:  Oh, please.  (with a gesture, she sends both men high into the
  air, where they wriggle helplessly)
Alindyar:  Nobody - and I mean _nobody_ - blocks us from our own home.

  They had both been expecting - and dreading - a severe state of
disarray, but such was not the case.  It was apparent that a number
of people had been through the mansion, but nothing was broken or
missing.  The few chambers with the most protections - the study and
master bedroom - had not been breached, though there were signs that
someone had tried.
  The single most alarming discovery occurred in the dining room; on
top of the table was a large bloodstain, and the carpet beneath had
more splotches of dried blood.

  While the drow were investigating all of this, a contingent of city
guards, led by Derider Fanshaen herself, burst onto the scene.

Derider:  Stop right there!
Alindyar:  I grow tired of being treated like a criminal of some sort.
Derider:  Sorry, but right now, you are one, after a fashion.
Lyra:  What?!?
Derider:  I'll explain, but first I have to ask you to surrender and
  lay down your items.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  This is beneath us.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  I agree, but what can we do?
Alindyar:  (speaks some words of power)

  The six guards who accompanied Derider screamed then, as their swords
transformed into writhing fanged snakes!  As for Derider's own weapon,
it became a serpent as well, but only for a moment; the constable was a
skilled priestess, and saw through the illusion.

Derider:  Good try.  (to her men)  It's just an illusion-
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  I thought you had gained all this newfound
  knowledge and power?!?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  I have, but the illusion was all I needed
  to distract them while I did this.  (he brandishes his Bigby-rod)

  A huge, ghostly hand appeared, sweeping forth and scooping up all of
the intruders.  Within moments, they were quickly and effectively removed
from the mansion.

Alindyar:  (walks out after them)  Nobody will be freed until someone
  explains what this is all about.
Derider:  You're just making it worse for yourselves!
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  This reminds me of that time Belphanior damn
  near went to war with this city.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Let's hope it doesn't come to that-
Derider:  (still wriggling in the grasp of the shimmering force-hand)  In
  the name of the Oligarchs, let us go and surrender peacefully!
Lyra:  (growing exasperated)  We've been on good terms to this point, and
  we already know that you're a nice woman...but you're just not listening.

  Just then, a familiar figure came onto the scene...

Peldor:  Maybe I can explain, and bring some sense to this.
Alindyar:  By all means...explain away.
Peldor:  About three weeks ago, two things happened at the same time:  the
  daughter of a wealthy city councilman went missing, and a trail of blood
  was found leading to your home here.
Lyra:  Oh, gods...
Peldor:  The city guard wasn't able to gain entry, nor were the first four
  efforts of wizards from the Guild successful.  And we had no idea where
  you were or how to find you.  I had wizards try and fail to locate you
  two, you know.
Lyra:  Indeed.
Peldor:  Finally, thanks to certain Oligarchs who also happen to be members
  of the Circle of Eight, we did get into the mansion.
Lyra:  I'm getting a bad feeling about this.
Peldor:  (sighs)  The girl's corpse was found on your dining room table...
  molested and mutilated.
Derider:  (dryly)  The work of some sick bastard, no doubt.
Alindyar:  This...this is preposterous!  Surely you do not believe that
  _we_ had anything to do with any of this?!?
Peldor:  No, I don't, and neither do most involved.  Unfortunately, we
  have no other suspects...and a lot of people - many of them
  quite powerful in one way or another - screaming for blood.
Derider:  Of course we don't think you did it.  But since you weren't here
  to help us get to the bottom of things, we didn't know what to think.
Lyra:  That's because you don't know us well.
Derider:  And while we had to solve this crime without the benefit of
  either of the mansion's owners being around, the mayor and everybody
  else were pushing for a solution.  Pushing hard.
Alindyar:  (to Derider)  Am I correct in assuming that a great number of
  your city guard have been through our home?
Derider:  Yes, why?
Alindyar:  (sighs)  That will render magical tracking of the true murderer
  impossible.  Too many auras...
Derider:  Look, you were gone and nobody could find you, and the clock
  was ticking - we had to do _something_!  Besides, we didn't find any-
  thing with our magic-
Alindyar:  I meant impossible for _me_.  I trust no others' magic in a
  situation like this.
Derider:  (shrugs)  that doesn't change the fact that _your_ magic was
  not here to help out.
Peldor:  Whoa, whoa!  Everybody, just...calm the hell down!
Alindyar:  (regards the thief)
Lyra:  (also regards the thief)
Derider:  (regards the thief, then the drow, then the thief again)
Peldor:  We _will_ figure out what happened, but you're going to have to
  co-operate a bit, that's all.
Alindyar:  As long as that implies no guilt or imprisonment.  I cannot
  solve a crime if I am detained by fools.
Derider:  Speaking of you mind putting us down now?
Alindyar:  My apologies...I had forgotten.  (he has the Bigby-hand return
  the seven to the street)
Derider:  (wondering if she should try to capture the drow again)
Alindyar:  Don't even think about it.  What is the phrase..."innocent
  until proven guilty?"
Peldor:  Well, this shouldn't be a problem.  Wherever you two have been,
  we'll just talk to whoever you were with, verify your alibi beyond any
  doubt, and bingo!  Not guilty!
Alindyar:  Err...

next:      Gorin!
released:  11/9/2000
notes:     Regarding Tonberry, his powers, and exactly what he taught
  Alindyar:  I am being vague on purpose.  We're dealing with a power
  level here that boggles the imagination, and on top of that I'm not
  ready to write a ground-up treatise on exactly how illusions work and
  where the line between illusion and reality falls.  If this still makes
  no sense to you, remember:  this isn't a campaign, with characters and
  stats to track and worry over.  It's a story.  When I reveal certain
  stats, it's really only for posterity's sake, given the origin of my

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