Chapter #693

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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                                +
+                                                                         +
+   Derider Fanshaen, constable of Greyhawk                               +
+   Ravel Disander, high priest of Boccob                                 +
+   Date:           3/15/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           afternoon                                             +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "You have your moments.  Not many of them, but you do have them."     +
+                        - Princess Leia, from _The Empire Strikes Back_  +

                   DCXCIII.  The Favor of a True Friend

  After tempers had calmed somewhat, a more practical approach was decided
upon as Peldor and Derider talked, to one side.  They stood just outside
of the mansion; Alindyar and Lyra were within, checking for further signs
of intrusion.

Derider:  It's that simple.  All we have to do is find whoever they were
  with for the last few weeks and cross-examine those witnesses with our
Peldor:  It's not going to be that simple.
Derider:  What?
Peldor:  I already talked to them about this, and they weren't anywhere
  near here, with anyone we can just go talk to...or summon.  Or whatever
  it is you people do.
Derider:  Would you care to explain further?
Peldor:  I don't know if I can - they were on another plane.
Derider:  That, if true, raises even more questions and possibilities.
Peldor:  Here's a new one for you:  why are you riding them so hard?
Derider:  Pardon?
Peldor:  Since the moment they got back, you've been treating them like
  they're guilty of the murder.  Am I the only one who doesn't suspect
  them?  What's gotten into everyone?!?
Derider:  Of course people suspect them - they're dark elves!
Peldor:  That doesn't mean a damn thing, and you know it.
Derider:  I've been a constable in this city for a long time, and I've
  been chief constable longer than you've been here.  My job is to solve
  these sorts of crimes and maintain order and peace.
Peldor:  Well, I suggest that you get around to solving the crime, since
  right now you're looking in the wrong place.
Derider:  Agreed.  And now that the drow are back, we can call in higher
  powers than my own...ah, speaking of which...
Ravel Disander:  This foolishness has gone on long enough.
Peldor:  What foolishness?
Ravel Disander:  All of it.  Come.  (he strides into the mansion)


Alindyar:  -and that is that.  Several of our magical protections and
  traps were triggered, although the intruder was unable to gain access
  to certain parts of the house.
Lyra:  We need some scrying magic now, to discern who was here and what
  they were doing.
Ravel Disander:  (nods his wizened head)  Absolutely.  I have already
  determined that neither of you are lying.
Lyra:  (sarcastically)  Well, that's a relief.
Ravel Disander:  The difference is that, when I believe and say that,
  there is no higher power to dispute me.
Peldor:  Good point.
Derider:  As I mentioned already, my attempts to speak with the girl's
  corpse were unsuccessful - her soul is gone, unable to be conversed
  with.  (she casts a questioning look at the high priest)
Ravel Disander:  Agreed, and I shall not waste time duplicating your
  efforts.  We must note, however, that the lack of a soul would suggest
  that the murderer thought ahead and covered his or her tracks.
Peldor:  So now what?
Derider:  I have already used the magic at my disposal to search for
  clues here...but I found none.
Ravel Disander:  Let us see.  (he looks around)  I must speak with this
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Can he do that?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  I suppose so, though I would very much
  like to see how.
Ravel Disander:  Outside...

  The small group headed outdoors, where the old priest began examining
the stone steps that led up to the mansion's front door.

Ravel Disander:  (weaving some enchantment)
Derider:  (looking on, unused to seeing clerical power greater than her
Peldor:  What are you doing?
Ravel Disander:  (ignores the master thief, chanting now as he faces the
  massive steps)

  A deep, gravelly voice then spoke _back_ to the high priest!

voice:  WHAT IS IT?
Ravel Disander:  Sometime in the last weeks, you had a visitor or
  visitors.  I would know all that you do about the matter.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  He is talking to the stone itself...amazing!
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  I have heard of powerful high priests using
  such magic, but I hadn't seen it until now.
stone voice:  THE VISITOR WAS ALONE.
Ravel Disander:  When did this person come here?
stone voice:  EIGHTEEN MOONS AGO.
Ravel Disander:  And how long did they remain?
Peldor:  Does that mean most of one night?
Derider:  I think so.  Stone doesn't exactly think the same way we do,
  and its concept of time is...odd.
Peldor:  I guess this means we shouldn't be talking politics or
  philosophy with it...
Derider:  (smirks)
Ravel Disander:  What did the visitor look like - race, profession, and
  so forth?
Ravel Disander:  Oh.
Peldor:  (to the drow)  Sounds like a thief to me.
Lyra:  Not small...I suppose it wasn't Bosco.
Peldor:  Nah.  He's out of town right now, anyway.
Ravel Disander:  Did the visitor bring a girl - a second - here?
stone voice:  YES.
Ravel Disander:  Was the second person alive then?
Ravel Disander:  Yes, we know that.
Alindyar:  Ask him- it where the visitor went after leaving here.
Ravel Disander:  (repeats this question)
Ravel Disander:  (looks around)  Anyone else?  No?  (addresses the stone
  steps, which are now bathed in a slight purple glow)  Very well.
Alindyar:  So we are now proven innocent?
Ravel Disander:  I think so.  Derider?
Derider:  Unless stones lie, which I somehow doubt...we must seek the
  killer elsewhere.
Peldor:  But how?
Ravel Disander:  Perhaps a spell of communing, if Boccob sees fit to
  grant it.
Peldor:  (thinking that Ged always seemed to get the spells he needed,
  when he needed them)  I have a better idea.
Ravel Disander:  You do?
Peldor:  (nods)  Even more powerful magic, and more sure to give us an
  answer.  And that's what we need now, more than anything else:  an
  answer.  A sure one, and a quick one.

  Everyone looked confused, so Peldor unbuttoned his shirt.

Derider:  Uh...
Peldor:  Relax.  (he eyes his feather tattoos, thinking back to the
  last time he invoked the most powerful of them, making a covert plea
  for the safety and prosperity of himself and his family)
Alindyar:  (catches on)  Peldor, you need not do this - we are already
  known to be innocent-
Peldor:  I do have to do this - in fact, I insist.
Derider:  What in the world are we talking about here?
Peldor:  (looks up, talking to no one in particular)  I know
  of the one who invaded this home and murdered the girl.
Alindyar:  (just thinking that perhaps this isn't the most efficient and
  concise wording of a wish, he is too late to say anything)
voice:  (flat, even, and clear, it speaks from nowhere)  An old enemy,
  yet a new one; cloaked in darkness, serving no one; driven by hatred,
  well-deserved; skilled in many arts, a deadly foe.
Peldor:  (blinks)
Alindyar:  Oh, my.
Derider:  That's all?
Lyra:  Damn.
Ravel Disander:  Well, that certainly was the most noble use of a wish
  that I've ever seen or heard of.
Peldor:  (leans on a wall, suddenly exhausted)
Lyra:  Are you okay?
Peldor:  (wearily)  Yeah...just need a moment...
Ravel Disander:  (to the drow)  It would seem that you have some most
  pressing problems.
Alindyar:  Aye.
Derider:  Problems greater even than the matter of solving this murder,
  though the two are related.
Alindyar:  We need some time.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Not here, not in this house.  I don't doesn't feel the same here now.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Understood.  We shall think of something.

  By dusk, various parties involved were wrapped up in their individual

  Peldor, Derider, and Ravel had to address their fellow Oligarchs and
explain that this murder wasn't going to be as easy to solve as they'd
first thought.

  Somewhere dark and secret, the actual culprit - one Rasimov D'Arkayn,
sole survivor of a destroyed dark elven city - was pleased with this
whole affair.  He'd expected that the drow would be acquited of the
murder; his deeds had been more of a probe than an attack.  The game,
however, was now afoot.

  Safe and snug in a guest room within Nenya's castle, west of Greyhawk,
Alindyar and Lyra pondered the offer extended to them by Nenya - an
offer that they hadn't seen until today, as it had been waiting along
with the rest of the notices, news, and whatnot in their "mailbox."
Both of the drow were fairly close to agreeing that this was a good
time to get away and immerse themselves in some distractionary adventure
while they cleared their minds of the unpleasantness in Greyhawk.

  Peldor, while disrobing to take an evening bath, was somewhat alarmed
to find that all ten of the magical feather tattoos - tattoos that had
been with him for almost a decade - had vanished!  He tried to invoke
some of the various feathers' powers, but it was futile - the things
were gone, and their power with them.  Peldor didn't know if it was his
recent use of the wish, or if the tattoos simply weren't meant to last
forever.  All he knew was that this event was most disturbing, not for
the loss of power that it represented, but more simply because it just
happened, without warning or explanation.

next:      a bolstered "granola gang" sets out for lands most foul
released:  11/20/2000
notes:     The next episode, 694, is due to be sent out this Thursday,
  which is also Thanksgiving.  I won't be in town after today, so that
  episode may not get sent until that night.

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