Chapter #760

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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   +
+   Belphanior      14th/14th/14th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+   Date:           4/25/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          a run-down inn outside of Greyhawk                    +
+   Climate:        cool                                                  +
+   "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything        +
+    that counts can be counted."                                         +
+                                                    - Albert Einstein    +

                     DCCLX.  Spoils of War

  Morning found Belphanior deep in thought, a scroll tube in his hands.
The ivory tube held a parchment with a single powerful incantation, and
though the elf had already copied this spell into his spellbook, he was
hesitant to cast it now.  However, he knew that he had to...

Belphanior:  (working the spell, he concentrates)

  It didn't take long for his message to get its recipient's attention.
A pair of large, glowing black eyes appeared in the air before the elf.
No one but him was in the room to see them.

female voice:  I never expected you to contact me so soon.
Belphanior:  Me either, Parekh, and I'm sorry, but I need some assistance
  and you're the best-qualified.
female voice:  Explain.
Belphanior:  About those items we all got from the Tomb...I know that
  you and Neera took a good long look at them, the day we split the hoard
  up.  I need to know what you know...and I'm afraid I need to know pretty
female voice:  We shall have to meet in person for this.
Belphanior:  There's not a lot of-

  In an instant, and with disturbingly little sense of motion, the elf
found himself in a new location.

Belphanior:  -time.  (he looks around)

  He was standing in a large, circular chamber that was richly decorated,
though in a foreign style.  Lavish, colorful tapestries covered every
wall, and the floor was thickly carpeted.  A chandelier hung from the
ceiling, its individual crystals of glass seeming to each give off their
own radiance, bathing the entire chamber in light and enhancing the color
of the other decorations.
  To one side, in a plush chair behind a desk of rich dark wood, Parekh
sat, regarding the elf.

Belphanior:  How the hell did you do that?
Parekh:  My spell of sending is far from typical; when used to contact
  me, it opens the option to teleport the sender to me, or vice versa.
Belphanior:  I see.
Parekh:  Anyway.  (she removes a parchment from a drawer)  I have here
  my notes on those items.
Belphanior:  Oh.  I guess I thought you'd have memorized this information.
Parekh:  Not in this case.  Neera and I, despite having limited time to
  look the items over, came up with some good ideas about the items found
  in that tomb.
Belphanior:  Too bad you couldn't share that information before we split
  up the loot.
Parekh:  (shrugs)  I didn't want to risk giving anyone bad information.
  Bad information is worse than no information.  Besides, as the wizard
  acting as identifier, I reserve the right to maintain a slight edge in
  the treasure-division...the same way that you, as party organizer,
  reserved the right to pocket that figurine of the tri-headed hound.
Belphanior:  (raises an eyebrow)  It's nice to work with competent
Parekh:  (smiles, handing the elf the parchment)
Belphanior:  (reading)  A translation of the engraved command word for
  the hound-figurine...hmm, what's this about the crown?
Parekh:  It will offer the wearer glimpses into the past of Panagaea.
  Neera very much wanted to borrow it.
Belphanior:  (reaches in his pouch of holding)  Not a problem at all.
  (he hands the splendid golden crown over)  I'll be back for it at some
  point, but if that's all it does, I won't be needing it anytime soon.
Parekh:  You're going to attack the fortress anyway.
Belphanior:  (grimaces)
Parekh:  Don't worry, I actually have no plans to tell Boltar.  The last
  thing he needs is to worry about that while he's intent on decimating
Belphanior:  Oh.  Thanks for not mentioning this to him.
Parekh:  I, unlike he, do understand how we escaped the Abyss without
  major incident.
Belphanior:  Ah.
Parekh:  And that's one reason why I'm helping you now.  (she gestures to
  the parchment)  Take special note of the ruby skull.
Belphanior:  Wizardry for _all_ of my spells.
Parekh:  A mighty item.
Belphanior:  (realizes suddenly that if Parekh knew what the skull did,
  and didn't try to choose it for herself, the items she did choose must
  have been at least as powerful)
Parekh:  Same thing for the teardrop-crystal - worth noting.  Hang onto
  it long enough and all of your powers shall increase.
Belphanior:  And the two silver strings, when each is tied in a circle,
  form the two ends of a portal...a gateway.  That could come in handy for
  a sudden escape - I could leave one behind, tied, and use the other for
  a quick getaway.
Parekh:  You could.
Belphanior:  Otto's think the runes indicate special powers
  against snakes and birds?
Parekh:  Actually, Neera thought that.  It fits, though, given that those
  species had offshoot races enslaved by the Panageans.
Belphanior:  (nods)  And his metal rod's just a scroll case.
Parekh:  One which can only be opened by magic.  Otto will be sure it's a
  rod, otherwise.
Belphanior:  Yeah, he won't be happy to find out it's a case.  I'll have
  to find something to trade him for it.  And his flute, likewise.  Some
  kind of undead control?
Parekh:  Or perhaps raising fresh corpses as undead, we weren't quite
  sure.  Given that you're going up against a lich, be careful with that
Belphanior:  We will.  Let's see here...for Skektek, a ring of flying,
  a scroll tube with scroll...hmm, nothing on that candle or one of his
Parekh:  (testily)  I haven't had enough time yet, not for everything.
  His other wand is quite a treat though - it can summon any of the
  various "wall" spells, and maybe some we don't know about.
Belphanior:  Ooh, he'll like that.
Parekh:  As I expected would happen, your other surviving henchmen ended
  up with the simpler items.
Belphanior:  Like Ys and his battleaxe.
Parekh:  Who else could lift the thing?
Belphanior:  His spoon purifies water it's dipped in?  That could come in
  handy where we're going.
Parekh:  Especially if you find yourself in a lake full of undead.
Belphanior:  What about the a snake-god statuette?
Parekh:  We believe it to be like your crown, except that it's keyed to
  ancient snake-people.  Ys is likely the only non-scholar in the world
  who can find use in that.
Belphanior:  Maybe he's a scholar.  I actually don't know.
Parekh:  Where'd you find him?
Belphanior:  Otto recruited him in Perrenland, years ago.  Beyond that,
  I know very little about him.
Parekh:  Perhaps you should ask him sometime.
Belphanior:  I've tried.  (he checks the parchment)  Let's see here, I
  don't care much about Gorgo and Bosco, since they're not coming along
  on this mission...likewise Mongo.  What's that note by his torch?
Parekh:  He should see a priest.  I sensed a fantastic amount of holy
  power in the thing, but I'm no expert in that field.  It's worth
  looking into, I suspect.
Belphanior:  If the thing's so powerful in that way, why didn't Boltar
  notice it when we first found it?
Parekh:  I think Mongo stashed it in his portable hole right away, and
  Boltar wasn't in the room when I took a closer look at it.  I suspect
  that he might have known of its power, but there was another item he
  wanted even more, and then Mongo chose the torch and the point was
Belphanior: that leaves us with Razor Charlie, a protective
  amulet and chain mail - elven chain, good deal - and some magical
  throwing knives.
Parekh:  A fine haul.
Belphanior:  Any chance of you telling me what you, Drak, and Boltar's
  items might be good for?
Parekh:  (smiling thinly)  Not your concern.  Let's just say that nobody
  who pulled their weight in the Tomb really got shorted.
Belphanior:  (smirks)  Good enough, I guess.
Parekh:  (nods)  And with that, I must bid you farewell - I have several
  things in the works, and they require my attention.
Belphanior:  How's Neera?
Parekh:  Doing very well.  She is completely absorbed in Panagaean lore,
  and has been since we returned.  Research of this sort is her fondest
  wish, and with my resources and magic, she lacks for nothing.
Belphanior:  Glad to hear it.
Parekh:  Something else she brought up, which is a good point:  spending
  those coins we recovered would be foolish.
Belphanior:  Because of their historical value?
Parekh:  That too, but think about what it would mean if the market -
  any market - was suddenly flooded with thousands upon thousands of
  ancient, priceless coins.
Belphanior:  They...wouldn't be worth squat.
Parekh:  Right.
Belphanior:  I hadn't thought about it that way.
Parekh:  Again, thank Neera.  She's really quite astute about a great
  many things.
Belphanior:  (nods)  Any answers on the history of the Tomb, or the exact
  nature of those four bastards we fought at the end?  Or the other three
  who we didn't even really see?
Parekh:  Not yet, but I'm sure she'll come up with something before long.
Belphanior:  Speaking of bastards, I have one last question:  do you know
  who those other ones were, the ones who showed up and attacked us while
  we were fighting the four guardians from the coffins?
Parekh:  I'm still processing that, but it won't take nearly as long as
  the Panagaean angle.  When I know something, I'll contact you.
Belphanior:  (nods, pleased)  My thanks.  If there's ever anything I can
  do for you...
Parekh:  You already owe favors to Otiluke and a certain death knight.
  Don't get in over your head.  (she winks at him)
Belphanior:  Hey, how'd you know about-

  Just like that, the elf found himself back in the run-down inn outside
of Greyhawk.

Belphanior:  -that?!?  (he looks around)  Damn, I hate it when she does

next:      we change scenes, to Rob's gathering of might
released:  10/4/01
notes:     Sorry about the roundabout order of this loot-identifying.
  It happened this way because I forgot to deal with this before the
publishing of the story with Parekh leaving.  If you need to see the
list of divided Tomb loot, it's in 753.

  Bad news:  I still haven't been writing much in the way of new
stories.  Good news:  it's mainly because I'm focusing all my creative
energy on completing the "Fortress of the Nine" accessory so you can
read it before the good guys attack in upcoming stories.  I'd say it's
going to be out there on the site by mid-October at the latest.  Look
for the announcement in one of the next couple of episodes I send out.

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