Chapter #787

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
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                                   +   +

+     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                                      +
+   Lyra, 14th level female drow wizard                                   +
+   Date:           7/4/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        warm                                                  +
+   "When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite."         +
+                                               - Sir Winston Churchill   +

                     DCCLXXXVII.  Tables Turned

  In one of Greyhawk's more average inns, within the small room he had
been keeping for months, a solitary individual was having more than a
little trouble sleeping.  This one didn't go out at all during the day,
for night and darkness were his allies.  The daytime, with its cursed
bright sunlight and increased numbers of people, was a dangerous time
indeed for Rasimov D'Arkayn.

Rasimov:  (tosses suddenly, perhaps experiencing a bad dream)

  It had been a difficult time for the renegade dark elf, for his quarry
was proving more elusive than he had ever suspected possible.  Rasimov
was the sole survivor of an Underdark city destroyed due to the actions
of a handful of people in Greyhawk, and he had come to the surface world
seeking revenge.  His first targets, a pair of drow who had renounced
their evil ways and built a life on the surface world, had seemed easy
prey at first.  However, after one particularly nasty trick he'd played
with painstaking care and effort, Rasimov had found the drows' mansion
now impenetrable.  Guards and wards of sorts he'd never seen before now
stood in the way of any intruder - and Rasimov was no slouch in the ways
of magic.  The fact that he couldn't seem to bypass his quarry's defenses
(physically or magically) had bothered him more and more as time went on.
Coupled with that was the fact that they often took sudden, long trips to
unknown places.  Truly, they were proving difficult to provoke.
  That had been Rasimov's original plan:  to frame them, provoke them,
ruin their lives bit by bit until a final, lethal confrontation was had
and his need for revenge fulfilled.  This wasn't working, however, not
the way the evil dark elf had anticipated.  He had mulled over other
plans, quickly realizing that a direct stalking-and-assassinating on
some dark night probably wouldn't work.  He had considered trying to
join the Greyhawk Guild of Wizardry, in the guise of a fellow outcast
drow who wished to follow the ways of Alindyar.  That plan had even
gotten as far as Rasimov putting himself in places where Alindyar was,
watching the latter's behavior and patterns in hopes of finding some
way of gaining his confidence.
  However, Rasimov's nerve had failed, every time.  He was no coward,
and did not lack for cleverness or the ability to fabricate elaborate
lies.  There was just something about Alindyar...some aura, something
in the way he dealt with others, something that made Rasimov wonder if
the other dark elf could not and would not see through any cover story
presented to him.  One such time, Rasimov had even thought he saw the
other's gaze fall upon him, as if noting his presence and perhaps more.
A hasty exit and retreat had eluded any pursuit, that day, and Rasimov
did not shadow Alindyar again after that.
  He had pondered alternate avenues of vengeance, perhaps striking out
against another of the wizards who had brought destruction to his home.
The problem was that they were all allied, and to fight one was to
fight them all.  Worse, he had learned that many of them possessed
great power and knowledge, much more than Rasimov himself.  Even if
he had tracked and slain one or two, it was entirely possible that the
others would be able to learn the identity and whereabouts of such a
perpetrator, and punish him accordingly.  He had considered trying to
take out the _entire_ Circle of Eight, all at once, by using a wide-
area spell; upon further thought, he had realized the utter folly of
trying this tactic on a large number of magi who were all more powerful
than himself.  At this point, Rasimov had finally begun to wonder if
he'd gotten in over his head here in the surface world, especially since
he'd already made one move against Alindyar.

  All of this explained the dark elf's current state of mind, as well
as his trouble sleeping.  Things were about to get a whole lot worse,

Rasimov:  (tosses and turns as the air in one corner of his room begins
  to shift and shimmer)
Alindyar:  (appears)
Rasimov:  (wakes up suddenly)  What-
Alindyar:  (waves a hand)

  Rasimov's bedsheets transformed into iron plates, wrapping themselves
around the awakened sleeper and pinning his arms to his sides.

Rasimov:  (looking around frantically)
Alindyar:  (makes a motion, causing the iron sheets to fold slightly,
  propping the other in a sitting position)  I understand that you call
  yourself something of a wizard.  Now that you have witnessed my power,
  it is time for some questions and answers.
Rasimov:  (begins mumbling the words to a verbal spell)
Alindyar:  Oh, please.  (he causes a strip of iron to glide up and cover
  Rasimov's mouth)
Rasimov:  Glrmph!
Alindyar:  Much better.  Well, not for you, but such is life.  Besides,
  if you were to actually succeed in killing me, you would just die here,
  in this room, trapped in an iron cocoon.
Rasimov:  (glares at the other dark elf)
Alindyar:  And now...let us talk.  (he regards the other)  Or rather,
  let me talk.  I trust you have no objections?  Good.
Rasimov:  (furious, but unable to move or talk, much less spellcast or
  fight, he squirms in place, enraged)
Alindyar:  I know that you are responsible for that unpleasantness at
  my home, many moons ago.  I also know that you have tried again in
  recent weeks, without any luck.  My question is simple:  why?
Rasimov:  (still glaring)
Alindyar:  I get the impression that even if you could talk and were
  not trying to work magic, you would tell me nothing.  Perhaps I have
  taken the wrong approach here.  (he points at the floor)

  Suddenly, the floor directly beneath the bed vanished, replaced by
a fiery pit.  The bed beneath Rasimov's iron-wrapped form dropped away
immediately, and was consumed by the flames below in a flash that sent
a wave of heat upward.  Rasimov's iron cocoon floated in the air above
the pit, the imprisoned dark elf sweating profusely now.

Alindyar:  I am going to remove your gag, that you may speak.  Bear in
  mind that if anything were to happen to me - even if you manage to
  cast some spell before I stop you, which is highly unlikely - you
  will simply fall and burn into ash.  Understand this.  (he gestures,
  and the strip of iron over the prisoner's mouth peels back)
Rasimov:  (immediately begins shouting)  I'll kill you for this!
Alindyar:  All you will do is disturb anyone else nearby, except that
  I have blocked all sound coming to and from this room.  Now, unless
  you wish to be lowered into the fiery pit beneath you, tell me who
  you are and why you hate me so.

  Rasimov didn't doubt that the other would hold to his promise, but
what actually broke his resolve was seeing Alindyar wipe sweat from his
own brow, as the room had gotten quite hot.

Alindyar:  Sometimes I am too powerful for my own good.
Rasimov:  (he bows his head)  I am Rasimov D'Arkayn, of House Arkayn in
  the city of Erelhei-Cinlu.
Alindyar:  Ah...Erelhei-Cinlu.  That certainly explains your anger.
Rasimov:  It was you - you and others who sent that damned monster into
  the Underdark!  You people wiped out a whole city, my entire family,
  everything!  I am the only one left, of thousands - the only survivor!
Alindyar:  And never will there be a city more deserving of that fate.
  It teemed with murderers, liars, and sadists.  I can only hope that
  the great beast went on to find more drow cities.
Rasimov:  What kind of dark elf _are_ you, that would knowingly destroy
  an entire city of your people?
Alindyar:  The kind of dark elf produced by such a city.  (he regards
  the other critically)  You said you were alone, the last one.  Since
  I know who you are, and why you seek vengeance, I have no further
  questions for you.  In fact, I no longer need you at all.

  This abrupt change in the pace of things startled Rasimov, for he had
been counting on having more time to work out a plan, to stall until he
found some way out of this predicament.  It appeared that was not to be.

Rasimov:  What will become of me?
Alindyar:  Well, you murdered an innocent girl - in my home - and left
  her mutilated body - in my home.  What do you _think_ will become of
  you?  Expect no mercy.
Rasimov:  I'll see you in hell-  (he is silenced as more iron sheets
  wrap around his head, completely encasing him)
Alindyar:  Perhaps.  (he closes his fist, and the iron cocoon compresses
  suddenly, becoming about a quarter of its original size and creating
  a truly sickening sound)

  From the bottom of the iron prison, a steady stream of bright red
blood began to flow, cascading down into the flames.  Alindyar lowered
the metal shell down as well, and then sealed the portal, leaving only
empty space where the bed and its occupant used to be.

Alindyar:  So much for that.  (his gaze turns to the various items in
  the room, items that until now belonged to the deceased Rasimov)

  Some time later...

Lyra:  Why won't you tell me where you've been?
Alindyar:  Believe me, if I do, you'll wish I hadn't.
Lyra:  (hands on hips)  Try me.
Alindyar:  (sighs)

  The tale didn't take long to relate, and when it was over, Lyra hung
her head.

Alindyar:  I told you.
Lyra:  That you did.  (she looks up)  It's one less enemy to worry about.
Alindyar:  Aye...but when will it end?  I am not particularly upset or
  distraught, but what is the meaning of a life in which we constantly
  have to deal with such enemies?  What is the point?
Lyra:  (embraces him suddenly)  Let me show you.

next:      some more of the dark elves' business
released:  1/2/02
notes:     This one actually felt as hollow to write as it probably showed
  Alindyar to feel about his victory.  The sentiment he expressed at the
  end there probably reflects many peoples' thoughts (including mine, at
  times) on current events.
    Starting with 788, each episode will focus on one adventurer or pair
  of them, and show what they've done from 4/579 through 10/579 C.Y. (the
  half-year or so after the events at Xusia's fortress.)  A lot of it may
  be prose, or flashbacks, I'm not sure yet.  The goal here is efficiency
  showing the past and open-endedness showing the possible future.

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