Chapter #742

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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:           afternoon                                             +
+   Place:          Rob's temple, outside the city of Gradsul, in Keoland +
+   Climate:        warm and pleasant                                     +
+   "It's impossible...for words to describe...what is     +
+    those...who do not know...what horror means."                        +
+                                                 - from _Apocalypse Now_ +

                    DCCXLII.  Rob's Council of War

  The eight adventurers sat around the big, sturdy table, talking as
they ate.  Food and drink, perhaps the finest in the area, were piled
high; Rob was nothing if not a gracious host.

Nenya:  You're certain that nobody can spy on us here?
Rob:  (nods)  Absolutely not.  This chamber is warded by the holiest
  magic of Trithereon.
Peyote:  Hey, that makes it the holiest of holies!
Rob:  Whatever.  In any case, none can find us or see us here - not
  by spell, crystal ball, or any power known to mortals.
Alindyar:  Which is fine, provided that we are dealing only with mere
Deryck:  I'm sure we are.  I mean, that wizard was powerful, but he was
  only a wizard.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Hah..."only" a wizard...
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Give him a break - after all, he was dead.
Alindyar:  (smirks)
Rob:  (to Deryck)  Agreed...only a wizard.
Halbarad:  (his jaw firmly set, he stares into his glass before finally
  speaking)  When we get done with him, he'll be only a corpse.
Daffodil:  Revenge doesn't suit you, servant of Ehlonna.
Halbarad:  I'll decide what suits me.  (he sets his jaw)  Right now,
  an army to assault these evildoers suits me.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Wow, I've never seen him like this before.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye...the loss of the tiger-statuette has
  hurt him badly.
Deryck:  Army?
Halbarad:  An army, a small raiding force - I care not.  All that
  matters is swift action.
Deryck:  Some forethought would help, too.
Halbarad:  Not if it slows things down to the point where we're no
  longer able to find these foes...or worse, to the point that they
  strike back first.
Deryck:  Something must indeed be done, but not at the cost of more
  death.  (to Halbarad)  Surely you of all people can understand that?
Halbarad:  (holding a thick glass goblet, he winces as it shatters in
  his hand)  Ow.  (he holds up his hand, pulling a shard of glass out
  of the palm)  I'll go myself if I have to.
Rob:  (holds up his hands)  Enough.  (with little more than a wave in
  Halbarad's direction, he stops the bleeding and closes the flesh of
  the hand wound)  Halbarad, you have spent your life fighting for the
  good of others.  Since you seem bound and determined to take this
  personally, it's only fair that others help out.  (he clears his
  throat)    We will plan, and we will strike.  But first we must find
  these people...Xusia and his allies.
Peyote:  Dude, I think we can help with that.
Daffodil:  My father - the Great Druid, Oakly Greenleaf - has said that
  these foes can't hide forever.  The very forests and grasslands, no,
  the Oerth itself, will give them away.  It's just a matter of time,
  and effort.  Our best people are on it.
Rob:  (sighs deeply)  Trithereon is the god of retribution, among other
  things.  He, too, will help us find this nest of evil.
Nenya:  Maybe we should shelf this part of it and focus on what we do
  know - what we know about Xusia and his allies.
Lyra:  That's pretty simple:  he's an arch-lich from the Suel Empire,
  a rare survivor of the great war which brought the world the Rain of
  Colorless Fire and the Invoked Devastation...buried for ages and
  unearthed by Ged during a tomb raid.
Rob:  (frowns)  That probably means that he wields magic beyond all
Alindyar:  It is said that Suel liches consume mortal bodies to remain
Peyote:  Gnarly!  Cannibals...
Alindyar:  Not consume, in a literal sense - inhabit.  Possess.
Peyote:  Oh.  (he makes a face)  That's almost as bad.
Alindyar:  Aye.
Deryck:  And whatever allies he may have, we've seen only the one...
  that red-garbed wizard.
Halbarad:  That one must die.
Deryck:  Agreed.  But who is he?  Why does he do what he does?  Might
  we have more luck finding him, if we knew more about him?
Rob:  I have been meditating to Trithereon, the past three nights.  I
  feel that an answer is close...and that we shall soon know that one's
Peyote:  And knowing is half the battle.
Deryck:  My greatest fear is that they'll hit our lands, our homes,
  and such, targeting the innocents who we protect.  I wonder why they
  haven't attacked again, yet?
Daffodil:  Maybe they're content to leave us alone, if we leave them
Rob:  For an evildoer, that plan will never last long.  If they are
  ignoring us, it only means they are focusing on some more important
  element of their schemes.
Halbarad:  Not acceptable.  We must find them and deal with them.
Lyra:  Agreed - whether for moral reasons, or for revenge, or just to
  get them before they get us.
Alindyar:  And, eventually, they _will_ get us.
Rob:  So - for one reason or another, we are all in agreement that
  something must be done, as soon as we can?

  It was a rhetorical question, and they all knew it.

Peyote:  As soon as we know where to look.  Though we'd best be careful
  about walking into another false lair...another trap.
Daffodil:  They decoyed us, and good.
Peyote:  Won't happen again - between all of our gods and powers, we'll
  be sure this time.
Alindyar:  Allow me to expound in a different direction...perhaps we
  would be wise to consider getting more help?
Deryck:  Of course.  That goes without saying.  A couple dozen good
Alindyar:  I was thinking of Mongo and Belphanior.
Deryck:  Ahh.
Lyra:  It only makes sense - though it was Ged who unleashed the Suel
  lich on the world, Belphanior's had the most experience with him -
  several run-ins, if I recall correctly.
Nenya:  It's not as if Ged _meant_ to free the lich.
Lyra:  Ah.  I meant no ill will toward him - my apologies.
Alindyar:  Anyhow, Belphanior definitely has a bone to pick with this
  foe, and it thus stands to reason that convincing him to aid our
  cause would be far from difficult.
Peyote:  Fine by me - the more, the merrier.
Daffodil:  Agreed.
Halbarad:  I favor smaller groups...but Belphanior's sword, and Mongo's
  hammer, are welcome additions to any fight - especially one like this.
Deryck:  Hell, we could go for broke and try to get Rillen and Songa
Nenya:  (eyes him sternly)
Deryck:  Just kidding!  But yeah, in general, I agree:  finding more
  help is a good idea.  Hell, it can't hurt to at least _ask_ them.
Nenya:  More magic, more battle power.  A wise move.
Peyote:  Yeah, it always helps to have someone around who can level a
Nenya:  Actually, I could level a city as well, if i wanted to.
Peyote:  Two times the fun!
Alindyar:  (reaches down and picks up something within a sack)  I am
  glad you all agree, because I took the liberty of bringing my crystal
Peyote:  Whoa!
Alindyar:  We can scry for Belphanior and Mongo's whereabouts, here and
  now, and perhaps have our answer.
Daffodil:  Planned ahead, did you?
Alindyar:  Always.
Rob: problem:  that won't work in here.  We're within a non-
  detection zone, remember?
Alindyar:  So it works both ways...logical.  Shall we move to the next
Nenya:  Sure, but then won't someone else be able to scry us as we scry
Alindyar:  (sighs)  True.
Rob:  It really is, now that you mention it.
Halbarad:  This is one reason why I dislike heavy magic so much - people
  can see, hear, talk, move across great distances, as if it were nothing.
Nenya:  It makes the world go round.
Halbarad:  (shaking his head)  What if it didn't?  Where would you be?
Nenya:  This is neither the time nor place for such a discussion.
Halbarad:  I'll grant you that.
Alindyar:  Scrying or not, I am going next door to locate our friends.
  Any who wish to join me, may.

  Shortly, the dark elf peered into the swirling mists of the magical

Alindyar:  Odd.
Peyote:  What?  It looks pretty cool to me.
Alindyar:  Either this crystal ball is rebelling against me, or I have
  lost all my power and skill, or...
Lyra:  ...or Belphanior and Mongo aren't on this world right now.
Nenya:  World, or plane of existence?
Alindyar:  Plane.  They are not here, anywhere.
Deryck:  This bodes ill.
Alindyar:  Let us ensure that the crystal ball is in fact working...
  (he begins to scry for Peldor, then recalls that the master thief
  usually wears an amulet of non-detection)  Hmm...Tanya.  (he quickly
  produces an image of that one, busy at work changing her daughter's
  diaper)  Aie.
Peyote:  Ill!
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Enough.
Alindyar:  (causes that image to fade away)  The ball works...which
  means that Belphanior is either elsewhere...or dead.
Nenya:  Or using anti-scrying magic.  If Peldor can do it, the mad
  elf certainly can.
Alindyar:  True...but yet I have a bad feeling about this.  (he uses
  the ball to scry the town of Helgate)  Aie.
Deryck:  What?
Alindyar:  I am trying to see Belphanior's little mountain town, but
  it eludes me...ah, there.

  They found themselves staring at a hazy image...a huge pile of
smoking rubble!

Lyra:  Well, that's not good.
Alindyar:  Not at all.
Nenya:  Maybe his past finally caught up to him.
Halbarad:  Or his present.
Deryck:  Well, if his town's destroyed and he's not to be found any-
  where in the world, I'd say we can't count on _his_ help.
Rob:  This worries me.  I shall have to consult Trithereon.  Missing
  friends can be problematic.  I fix problems.  We shall see.
Alindyar:  (sighs)
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  This is getting more and more dismal as
  we go.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye.

next:      Rillen and Songa
released:  5/24/01
notes:     This was just a sort of tying-together episode...making some
  mention of other adventurers.  Whether those end up helping against the
  evildoers isn't certain.

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