Chapter #796

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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   +
+   Bosco           13th level halfling thief                             +
+   Peldor          20th level human thief                                +
+   Tanya            5th/11th level female human fighter/thief            +
+   Date:           8/20/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        warm                                                  +
+   "Behind every great fortune there is a crime."                        +
+                                                   - Honore de Balzac    +

                    DCCXCVI.  Securing the Future

  Peldor and Tanya had watched with concern the events before, during,
and after the great battle of the fortress.  Now, many months later,
they still discuss that topic from time to time...

Tanya:  So the only real casualty was Sir Drexel?
Peldor:  They never could bring him back from the dead.  Some say it was
  the unholy warrior's cursed sword.
Tanya:  That's too bad.
Peldor:  I understand that the priest Boltar was also not recoverable.
  I heard that even Belphanior was upset about that.
Tanya:  Now...oddly noble.  What did they ever do with all of those evil
  weapons they recovered from the fortress and its masters?
Peldor:  I think Mongo had a hand in the destruction of those things.
  I'm sure they would have asked me for the services of my sword,
  Bladebreaker, had they known about it.  (he absently puts a hand to
  his side, then remembers that there's no sword buckled there)

  The master thief didn't normally carry a sword anymore.  On the off-
chance that someone attacked him or he otherwise got into trouble, he
had his telekinesis ring, as well as his skills and wits.  On those
occasions that he went out into town, of course, he did take weapons,
as well as his armor and perhaps other useful items.  Even the leader
of the Thieves' Guild had enemies.  Even one of the ruling Oligarchs
was subject to assassination attempts.
  That job, Guildmaster of the Greyhawk Thieves' Guild, had been the
one single thing that Peldor had refused to let go of, budding family
or not.  He had made a lot of compromises, but his job was something he
wanted to do, at least for the near future.  It might have been another
matter if some qualified thief was in a position to take over, but the
only one Peldor trusted was Bosco.  The halfling, while quick and as
skilled a master thief as there ever was, didn't have the leadership
ability of a hill of beans.  Peldor didn't see the guild, not this
guild of a major city, going very far under Bosco's direction.
  On the other hand, there might soon come a time when both Peldor and
Tanya didn't have the time or energy to run the inn on a daily basis.
Owning it was one thing, but actually seeing to all of its needs - the
supplies, the cleaning, the employee issues, the financial aspect - was
more than a full-time job.  Peldor, of course, already _had_ a full-time
job.  The smart thing to do, as with anyone working two full-time jobs,
would have been to choose one and let the other go.
  Peldor, while quite bright, was not like most people.  He had been
juggling and balancing these two occupations for years now, far beyond
the expectations of anyone close to him.  Indeed, some people wondered
if he could or would do it forever.  Privately, of course, he knew that
he couldn't, but he did enjoy keeping them all guessing.  Soon, though,
it would be time to choose; he was pretty sure that he would choose to
continue at the Guild, and turn the daily operation of the inn over to
someone else.

  Would it be Bosco?  As far as Peldor was concerned, there were only
three people, besides himself and Tanya, who knew enough about the inn
and all of its aspects to manage it properly.  Bosco was one, Vinnie was
another, and Leonardo was the third.
  Bosco had, to be fair, calmed down a lot in recent months.  He ran the
casino, and he still liked to gamble (elsewhere, of course) and drink,
but his random acts of thievery had pretty much ceased.  Some people had
the opinion that all halflings were inherently lazy, and would only work
when they had to.  Bosco no longer had to.  His salary from the inn was
enough to support him comfortably, but on top of that, he had countless
riches from his adventuring days.  Furthermore, he tended to win when he
gambled, and was capable of turning a molehill into a mountain in short
order.  Tanya had commented the other day that Bosco looked chubbier than
usual, as if he was actually getting fat.  Whether that was true or not,
the halfling was definitely content to live a (fairly) honest life.  In
Peldor's opinion, that one fact instantly doubled his chances to be given
charge of the Green Dragon Inn.
  Vinnie had been with the establishment since its inception, even dating
back to the old inn that had burned down.  He was as loyal an employee as
anyone could ask for, plus he managed all of the door and security staff.
He also knew a great deal about the day-to-day operations of the place -
when food and drink came in and how, what it took to open the inn's
dining room, and so forth.  On the flip side, Vinnie really didn't know
how to do anything besides be a bouncer, even a head bouncer.  Peldor got
the impression that if he offered a higher job to Vinnie, the big man
would just smile and politely decline, being happy where he already was.
  That left Leonardo, who was, quite surely, the absolute master of the
inn's kitchen.  In addition to the ability to cook anything and invent
even more than that, he knew and was known by all of the cook- and wait-
staff.  They respected him and enjoyed working for him.  Even if the man
had been willing and able to assume duties beyond the confines of the
establishment's spacious kitchen, he probably wouldn't have been happy
with such.  Peldor worried that the quality of the kitchen, and its food,
would actually _drop_ if Leonardo wasn't allowed to give it his full and
loving attention.

Peldor:  In a way, it's really no choice at all.
Tanya:  (nods)  Do you think he's ready?
Peldor:  As ready as he'll ever be.  I guess we could work him in slowly,
  keep it as sort of a probationary period.
Tanya:  Just in case?
Peldor:  Just in case.  We really can't lose, though:  we'll still get a
  cut of all profits, and he'll do the work.
Tanya:  Retirement fund?
Peldor:  Ha.
Tanya:  Maybe Felicia could assist him in the operation of running the
Peldor:  Hmm.  Where is she, anyway?
Tanya:  Out with Eduardo, where else?
Peldor:  (smirks)

  By this time, it was obvious to all that there was something going on
between the two former street urchins, one from the wild town of Helgate,
the other from the more civilized but equally-challenging streets of
Greyhawk.  The attraction was plain to see; the two youths spent most
of their time together.  It was only natural, really, and Tanya knew
better than to try and influence young Felicia's behavior, one way or
the other.

Tanya:  She could be a big help to Bosco.  She knows at least at much
  as he does about how to run this place.
Peldor:  Bosco would need _somebody_ to help him, that's for sure.
Tanya:  At least his adventuring days, his wild roaming days, seem to be
Peldor:  I think that the business with him being wanted in another land,
  and then his last real adventure, with Belphanior, allowed him to get
  all of that out of his system.
Tanya:  Still...can he really, possibly be ready to actually assume some
  real responsibility?
Peldor:  I guess we'll see-
Bosco:  (bursts into the private dining room, a crumpled parchment held
  tightly in one grubby little hand)  Woo hoo!  Guess what?
Peldor:  What?
Bosco:  (waving the paper around)  I got accepted to the Dragon Deck
Tanya:  I thought they knew better...?
Bosco:  I did, too.  I'm not sure what they're up to...maybe they plan
  to seed me high, against the best players.  Don't know, don't care!
  (he dances in joy)  All that matters is that they're gonna let me in
  the door.  After that...the cards will do the talking!  (he prances out
  of the room, singing to himself)
Peldor:  Sigh.
Tanya:  (smirks)

next:      Peyote and Daffodil
released:  1/8/02
notes:     Of all the characters who I allowed to get old and settle down
  fast, Peldor is my one true regret.  Sometimes - like after I saw _The
  Mask of Zorro_ for the first time in 1998 or whenever - I am reminded of
  what a great swashbuckling hero Peldor could have been, probably should
  have been.  The fanmail I got right after he married Tanya confirms my
  gut feelings.  At this point, even if I wasn't going to stop at 800, the
  only way to pull off a true Peldor tale would be to set it before the
  events of episode 001 of the Adventurers.  That, or a dream, or some
  kind of parallel world.  Hell, I don't know.  Like I said, this is one
  of my major regrets of this ten-year writing saga.
    Something many of YOU will regret:  I will not be revealing Peldor's
  origin.  To repeat what I've said before, sometimes mystery is better
  than whatever reality is invented.  A good example:  the origin of
  the X-Men's Wolverine.  They should have just fucking left it alone.

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