Chapter #741

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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                                +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess                      +
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger                               +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Rob             16th level human priest                               +
+   Date:           4/20/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          Rob's temple, outside the city of Gradsul, in Keoland +
+   Climate:        warm and pleasant                                     +
+   "You know what I wish?  I wish all the scum of the Earth had one      +
+    throat and I had my hands around it."                                +
+                                           - Rorschach, from _Watchmen_  +

                      DCCXLI.  Regrouping

  More than two weeks have passed since the battle at the tomb of the
false Kyuss.  Rob has relocated the party to his temple of Trithereon,
in Keoland, where powerful magic has restored all health - and in two
cases, life itself.

Deryck:  Not a pleasant feeling.
Nenya:  It beats the alternative.  (she frowns)  But I follow your
  meaning.  I don't ever want that to happen again.
Deryck:  My skin's _still_ itching.

  The pair had been slain, burned to death by the deadly magic of the
unknown but powerful wizard who they'd met in that fell place.  It
was a testament to Rob's favor with his deity that he'd been able to
reclaim their spirits and heal their bodies.  They were grateful,
but the entire incident still bothered both of them, and deeply.

Nenya:  The only way we're going to avoid this sort of thing - or the
  risk of it, at any rate - is to never go out and do anything.
Deryck:  I know what you mean.  There will always be evil in the world;
  if not evil, then at least those who take by force, who trod on the
  weak, and so on.
Nenya:  Someone has to stand up for what's right.
Rob:  (strides into the chamber)  Are you two feeling any better this
Deryck:  Absolutely.
Nenya:  I think we're about up to full strength now.
Rob:  Good.  By the way, I looked in on your lands near Greyhawk; all
  is perfectly well.
Deryck:  (nods)  You have our thanks.  I was somewhat worried that...
Rob:  Eh?
Nenya:  He's talking about a counterstrike - some effort on the part
  of the one we fought, and possibly any allies he might have, to hit
  us while we were down.
Deryck:  Down and out.
Rob:  Ah.
Nenya:  You realize that this isn't the end of the matter?
Rob:  (shakes his head)  No, it most certainly isn't.  I've communed
  with Trithereon.  We're facing foes whose power and influence rivals
  any from our past.
Deryck:  But something has to be done...whether we like it or not.
Nenya:  Agreed.
Rob:  (shrugs)  I agree too, and we will.  If you're up to it, I've
  arranged a sort of...war council, later today.
Halbarad:  (enters the room)  Is this so we can sit down and decide
  when and how to hit these bastards before they hit us again?
Rob:  Um...yes.
Halbarad:  (cracks his knuckles)  Good.

  The ranger had been in a fairly grim mood since the apparent death
of his magical tiger Zephyr.  His companions has assured him that it
was probably possible to repair the figurine, but they just weren't
sure _how_ it could be done.  Halbarad had kept to himself, largely,
since the group had arrived here.  In his eyes burned the fires of
vengeance, and biding his time around here had nearly driven him mad.

Halbarad:  We must take action, and soon.
Rob:  We will...but there is no sense charging right into our enemies'
Halbarad:  (sighs)  I know.
Nenya:  Peyote and Daffodil will be at this council as well, yes?
Rob:  (nods)  They're as tied up in this as we are.

  At that very moment, the druids were outside the temple, walking
along the shores of the Azure Sea.  Rob's temple was a modest one,
but its location was enviable:  it stood between the city of Gradsul
and the sea, its view of the deep blue waters unparalleled.

Daffodil:  It seems that the rulers of Gradsul are only too happy to
  have a high priest of Trithereon on their doorstep.
Peyote:  I would be, too.  That dude's got some powerful mojo.
Daffodil:  He certainly didn't have any problem bringing Nenya and
  Deryck back from the dead.
Peyote:  It's not as simple as that.
Daffodil:  I know, I know.  (she looks around)  This site would be
  ideal for a bigger temple...a cathedral.  Rob was saying something
  about getting that going, once this Xusia business is done with.
Peyote:  Yeah...I've been in touch with your father, the great old
  grand druid dude himself.  We're not gonna have any problem
  finding out where these evildoers are.
Daffodil:  Oh?
Peyote:  The forests speak...even the evil ones.  It's only a matter
  of time before we know where to look.
Daffodil:  That last one, the tomb - that was a decoy, a trap.
Peyote:  Yeah, I think we all agree on that.
Daffodil:  That wizard was testing us...measuring our power.
Peyote:  We'll have to play it more carefully next time, and treat
  him and any others with more respect.
Daffodil:  (angrily)  The only respect they'll get out of me is a
  lightning bolt.
Peyote:  Easy, babe...all in good time.

  As for the drow, they, too, were outside.  Over the last ten years,
Alindyar had developed a resistance to the rays of the surface world's
sun.  Lyra had been up here long enough to possess almost the same
tolerance.  Until recently, they'd both still preferred to wear hooded
cloaks or robes when outdoors in the daytime.  Lyra had long ago come
up with a minor spell to shade them from the sunlight, but it was no
longer needed, for Alindyar now did the same thing with even less
effort.  With the mastery of illusion he'd recently learned, the dark
elf actually bent the light before it hit them, keeping them in a cool
shade that only they could see or feel.  That wasn't all he did, either;
a perpetual illusion masked him and Lyra, causing them to appear as
average people.  Only those Alindyar knew and cared about would see his
true form.  These spells were only a smattering of the possibilities
opened to Alindyar after his apprenticeship with the Lord of Illusions.

Lyra:  (looking up at the shady patch of air above their heads, as it
  moves along with them while they walk)  Wow.
Alindyar:  'Tis nothing.
Lyra:  (sighs)  Unlike this business later today...
Alindyar:  Agreed.  I feel as if we have stumbled onto villains and
  plots of dastardly scope and danger.  That business back in the tomb
  was nothing more than a gauge of our abilities and powers.
Lyra: does have to wonder what's next?
Alindyar:  For once, I say we need Belphanior.  Not only would his...
  approach be ideal here, but his tactics, I daresay, would be optimal
  for what needs to be done.
Lyra:  I know what you mean.  Not all of us are born killers.
Alindyar:  Killers are made, not born.
Lyra:  True...that was an insensitive thing for me to say.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  I doubt Belphanior would mind.
Lyra:  I wonder what he's up to right now.
Alindyar:  There truly is no telling.  Although we could look in on
  him with the crystal ball, if we wished.
Lyra:  We should just leave him alone.  I'm sure he's got something
  important to do.
Alindyar:  Aye...we shall see.
Lyra:  Well, anyway...what do we do next?  Go home or throw in our lot
  with this crew?
Alindyar:  I want to do the former, but need to do the latter.
Lyra:  My thoughts, as well.  So...we help them track down - really
  track down - these evildoers, and then exterminate them before they
  cause further harm.
Alindyar:  Aye.  'Tis the only way this thing can end.
Lyra:  Well, our part at the meeting later today will be short and

next:      council of war
released:  5/21/01
notes:     The discussion that Nenya and Deryck were having echoes one
  long-standing thought of mine:  how can you do what's right in life
  without making yourself a perpetual target for those who refuse to do
  what's right?
    The only way I know is Belphanior's way, which is to kill them all
  and not worry about it.  That doesn't really scale to real-life
  situations, though.
    I just got back form Peldor's wedding this weekend.  It took place
  in the middle of a national park and united families from two vastly
  different countries.  It also allowed me to get away from it all and
  catch up with some old friends from college, including some of the
  players of these characters.  New pictures may be coming soon!

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