Chapter #788

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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                                +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Date:           9/15/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Take care of your business, or it will take care of you."            +
+                                                            - unknown    +

                      DCCLXXXVIII.  Odds and Ends

  More than two months had passed since Alindyar ended the threat of the
renegade drow Rasimov D'Arkayn, last survivor of Erelhei-Cinlu.  Alindyar
(and Lyra as well) had been busy during that time.

  Due to his various other committments, and some deep thinking, Alindyar
had come to realize that teaching at Greyhawk's Grey College was not
something he really had the time, energy, or inclination for.  Ever since
achieving his mastery of illusions, the dark elf had found that he cared
less and less for such pursuits.  Indeed, aside from Lyra, his friends,
and his magic (in that order) Alindyar didn't much care about anyone or
  However, it turned out that the College had come to depend on their
resident master of illusions and phantasms.  After a long talk with the
deans of the school, an arrangement had been made.  Alindyar would teach
only occasional lectures, as a guest, when the need arose.  He would
also stay on record as the College's ranking expert in his field.  In
return, he would keep an office there, as well as full research, library
privileges, and a small stipend.

  He had also sought out the wisest counsel he knew, to gain insight into
another matter...

Tonberry:  These are good questions.
Alindyar:  (regards the Lord of Illusions)  And necessary ones.  Even
  with the lich slain forever, there are yet other enemies out there, in
  unknown places and lairs, who may one day seek our blood.
Tonberry:  The demon lord who Xusia served?  You need not worry about
  that one.
Alindyar:  How so?
Tonberry:  His power here is held in check by other deities, as has been
  seen before.  There can be no direct interference, only manipulation
  of mortals.  Were Orcus to act now, he would be checked by opposite
  powers, and he knows this.  Besides, his attention is currently turned
  to his home plane.
Alindyar:  The Abyss?
Tonberry:  (nods)  His arch-foe, the demon prince Demogorgon, has made a
  play for power there.  The resultant struggle will take a decade at
  the very least.  With Xusia gone, Orcus has no reason to meddle in the
  affairs of Oerth any longer.
Alindyar:  Be that as it may...what about the others, Xusia's allies who
  fled the battle and the fortress?
Tonberry:  Some had no real allegiance to the lich.  Others have no idea
  who came to their fortress and laid it low.
Alindyar:  Are you saying we have no need to worry?
Tonberry:  I am saying that you have as much need to worry as any others
  among the hundreds and thousands who fought for your side that day.
  That is all.
Alindyar:  Hmm.

  With that taken care of, Alindyar had been able to turn his attention
to assisting Lyra in her endeavors...

Alindyar:  How goes it?
Lyra:  I'm getting there.

  Both drow had gotten tired of being vulnerable in combat.  Powerful
wizards weren't supposed to be vulnerable, not to magic or missiles or
charging attackers or anything.  Spells existed that would block any
non-magical missiles; spells existed that would block other spells, to
a point.  Then there were spells that would block _all_ physical matter,
and ones that would block _all_ magic; these weren't ideal since one
couldn't cast spells out of them.  Given the existence of magical items
such as rings of spell turning, rods of absorption, and the like, the
challenge seemed simple:  come up with a means of protecting oneself
from missile fire and physical attack, while blocking all inbound spells
yet still being able to cast outbound ones.
  The ultimate solution might be purely magical - a mighty spell the
like of which had never been seen before.  Alternatively, the best way
might involve wearing or carrying a particular magical item and then
casting one or more spells.  Lyra's goal now was to break down all of
the possible methods, mixing and matching them to gauge the overall
efficiency of each combination - and to invent new combinations or spells
if necessary and feasible.  Of course, this was easier said than done,
especially when done right.

Alindyar:  We should get mirror images into the act, as well.  I have
  been working on a variant that is even more believable and dangerous,
  casting illusionary spells that can damage foes, much like a phantasmal
Lyra:  (sighs)  There is another approach, you know.
Alindyar:  Eh?
Lyra:  We could just avoid combat altogether.
Alindyar:  Agreed, but what of those times when we have no choice in the
Lyra:  We always have a choice.
Alindyar:  Then I choose both.
Lyra:  Hmm?
Alindyar:  We shall avoid combat and fighting...AND we shall have optimum
  defenses ready.  This way, we win no matter what.
Lyra:  I see.

  As far as their home was concerned, they had little to worry about.
Alindyar had bolstered the entire place - windows, doors, even walls -
against physical and magical intrusion.  Oh, there were ways to get in
for those who had the power...but at the very least, it would not be
easy even for an experienced wizard, and both drow would know instantly
if and when such attempts were made.  The mansion in Greyhawk was, quite
possibly, the single most secure building in the entire city.  Unlike
the Guild of Wizardry or even the city's vaults, the drows' mansion only
had a limited number of people who needed access - two - and thus it was
easier to fortify against magical incursion.

  Alindyar had come up with a wild thought about building a great black
tower, but Lyra had talked him out of it, at least for now.  Alindyar's
motivation for such a thing wasn't fully clear, even to him; he'd just
come up with the notion one day.  Of course, the idea had some inherent
problems:  if they built it near Greyhawk, it would draw attention and
perhaps be frowned upon; if they built it in some remote place, they
would be exiling themselves from civilization.

  Perhaps the most significant idea they'd had was a happy one...

Alindyar:  Aie.  'Tis less than two months.
Lyra:  Until what?
Alindyar:  The ten-year anniversary of when we all first met...myself,
  Mongo, Belphanior, Peldor, Ged, and the others.
Lyra:  This calls for a party.
Alindyar:  And someone who can locate everyone and help bring them all
  together.  That will require facilitation.
Lyra:  We've got the time and the ability.
Alindyar:  Aye.  I must speak with Peldor about this.  Such a gathering
  will require planning.

next:      Belphanior's wrap-up
released:  1/2/02
notes:     As I wrote this one, I concluded two things:  1) there is no
  100% defense against every form of attack, and 2) there will always be
  some enemy out there, somewhere.  As I've said before, this so closely
  parallels current/recent world events and is probably something that
  wouldn't be as strongly in my mind if not for the events of 9/11 and
  afterward.  In both cases, the problem is that power levels - or should
  I say capabilities - have risen too high and nothing is simple anymore.
    Anyway, enough of that.  It's yet another reminder of why this entire
  saga has become something I can no longer write in any realistic way.
  This episide, and the next ten, will be wrap-up for different people.
  In these episodes, we'll see what would have come next if I continued
  writing from this point...I'll throw out some ideas so that the saga
  ends on a high note, with hopes and dreams of what might yet be.  And
  800 will be that party!

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