Chapter #812

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2004 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!                                          +
+   Belphanior     15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Sir Dremel     11th level human paladin of Heironeous                 +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Otto           10th/12th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  10th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   Date:          5/8/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          midday                                                 +
+   Place:         a hidden dungeon complex in the Pelisso Swamp          +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "We don't make mistakes.  We make history."                           +
+                             - Kronos, from _Highlander:  The Series_    +

                         DCCCXII.  Secrets

  After defeating a vampiric sorceress and destroying all of her minions,
the adventurers prepare to question their prisoner.  Stripped of all her
magic items, she now wears a simple tunic.

vampiric sorceress:  (still gagged, and chained with the magical bonds
  that prevent her from turning to mist and escaping, she eyes them all
Belphanior:  That's a good attitude, considering that the sun is going
  to be up for hours yet.
Otto:  Or we could put just your feet in the sunlight.
vampiric sorceress:  (her eyes widen)
Belphanior:  (chuckles)  Good thing the paladin's not awake to stop us.
  It's just the sort of thing he'd try to prevent.
Otto:  (gestures to the snared vampiress)  Yeah, thanks for putting him
  out of commission.  It's better for us this way...we can do whatever
  we want.
Belphanior:  If he was awake, this might be a "good guy, bad guy" sort
  of interrogation.  Instead, it's a "bad guy, bad guy" deal.
Otto:  Maybe it's time for a holy water bath.
Belphanior:  Let's leave her to think about it.  (they head over to
  Jenna, who stands a short distance away, preparing to work the great
  spell she mentioned)
Jenna:  (in a low voice)  Is she good and panicked?
Otto:  I think so.  Cowed, at least.
Jenna:  Good.  That makes her more susceptible to my magic.
Otto:  Just how strong is this magic?
Jenna:  Let me put it this way:  Istus normally grants this spell only
  to her highest priestess in the world, which definitely isn't me.
  From this I conclude that she has some vested interest in us learning
  the secrets of this vampiress.
Otto:  Mm.
Belphanior:  We're going to need the absolute truth - one lie from her
  and we all might perish in some insane trap she's set on the back room.

  To be sure, there was a chamber they'd not yet entered.  All scrying
magic pointed to a wealth of treasure - both monetary and magical - in
that hidden room.  Belphanior thought this a time for caution, though,
so he'd insisted on waiting until they questioned their prisoner.

Jenna:  You're sure you don't want Sir Dremel awake for this?  I could
  do that, though he'd be weak...and he really needs his sleep.
Otto:  Sleep?  Comatose is a better word.
Belphanior:  Let him sleep.  He means well, but anything he hears from
  that vampiress, he'll go right back and tell the holy rollers.  And
  I'm not ready to give anything away just yet.
Elgon:  And what about me, eh?
Belphanior:  You, I trust.  (he turns to Jenna)  Both of you.  You did
  well in the battle, and proved your worth.  Bear in mind, though, that
  this is probably only the beginning, and the dangers will never lessen.
  I've lost a number of my team in the last five years.
Elgon:  (shrugs)  My king sent me here, and I wanted to get away, so I
  have nothing to complain about.
Jenna:  (nods)  Me either.
Belphanior:  Elgon, we'll get your...injuries healed up when we're back
  in civilization, but first we need to clean this place out.
Otto:  Which is why the vampiress must talk.
Jenna:  Yes.  (her hands glowing mildly)  It's time.
Skektek:  This should be interesting.
Ys:  If not fascinating.
wispy thing:  yrrrp.
Razor Charlie:  (just grunts)

  They walked over to the manacled vampiress, who recoiled at the sight
of Jenna's glowing hands.

Jenna:  Don't worry, vampire.  This isn't holy magic - though I could
  certainly bring that to bear if I wished.  In fact, you're going to
  wish this was mere holy magic...rather than one of Istus' most rare
  and powerful spells.  We call it "the Hands of Fate."  (she speaks
  some ancient words of power)

  Several glowing strands of pure, silvery energy emerged from the high
priestess' hands, slowly twining themselves around the vampiress' body.
The prisoner struggled for a moment, and then her eyes glazed over.

Belphanior:  Damn, I didn't know that vampires could be affected by
Jenna:  It's not really mind-magic...more like unswervable truth magic.
  Now listen up...she must answer questions truthfully, and she's been
  rendered incapable of malicious thought for the time being.  It's a
  lot like questioning a drunk but calm friend.  It's also best if only
  one person does the asking, otherwise, the subject tends to get a bit
Belphanior:  I'll handle it.
Jenna:  We only have a short time - one turn of this small sandglass,
  which is about a quarter-hour - so be efficient in your questioning,
  as it's the only chance you'll get.
Belphanior:  Why's that?
Jenna:  This is direly powerful magic, and the price is high for the
  subject...amnesia if they don't try to fight the spell, and if they
  do, which this one is, then after the time has passed and the spell
  is up, the result is permanent feeblemindedness.
Belphanior:  I have no problem with that.  Now turn that sandglass over
  and let's get started.
Jenna:  (turns it over)  Begin.
Belphanior:  (addresses the prisoner)  What is your name, and your role
  in Xusia's plans?
vampiric sorceress:  I am Drusilla, Xusia's third-in-command.
Belphanior:  Was that lich priest the second-in-command?
Drusilla:  Yes...that was Skorvus.
Belphanior:  He and Xusia are both truly slain, correct?
Drusilla:  (sadly)  Correct.
Belphanior:  What is the purpose of this place, here and now?
Drusilla:  To attempt to further the various plans and schemes begun
  by Xusia.
Belphanior:  How many of the Nine still live, and where are they now?
Drusilla:  Six are gone, thus three survive.  Of those, the ultradaemon
  Ythuus has left this world for its own.  The archmage Cespedes and
  the master thief Fenris both made their escapes.  I have been utterly
  unsuccessful in my attempts to locate either.
Belphanior:  Do you need them for your continuation of Xusia's plans?
Drusilla:  Not really.  Cespedes wields mighty magic, but his loyalty
  is...questionable.  Besides, we got what we wanted from him already.
Otto:  (makes a note)
Skektek:  (taking notes furiously on a parchment)
Belphanior:  What was the overall goal of the Nine, ultimately?
Drusilla:  To rule the region around the Fortress, then slowly spread
  influence into other parts of the Flanaess.
Otto:  (hands Belphanior a piece of paper he just scribbled something
Belphanior:  And...was Xusia's overall goal the same as the Nine's?
Drusilla:  No.
Belphanior:  Explain.
Drusilla:  The fortress and the forces that were being built within and
  nearby...the plans to have influence in other kingdoms...they were
  all genuine, and would have been effective, but were also a mask for
  Xusia's true intentions:  to allow the armies of the Abyss to invade
Belphanior:  Demons?
Drusilla:  Yes...demons in service to his master Orcus...thousands upon
  thousands of demons.
Belphanior:  I'm missing something does one transport that
  many beings from an outer plane to ours?  Much less get them placed
  all over the world?  What was that mechanism?
Drusilla:  The teleportation gateways.
Belphanior:  (slams a fist into his palm)  I _knew_ it!
Drusilla:  (stares ahead blankly)
Belphanior:  What are these gateways?
Drusilla:  Magical teleportation devices, specifically designed to let
  large numbers of beings move instantly from one place to another.  A
  given gateway in one place can be linked to any other one gateway at
  any other one time.
Belphanior:  Was there a gateway in the Fortress?  If so, is it intact?
Drusilla:  There was one there, but it was destroyed.
Belphanior:  So the gateway in the Fortress could be configured to send
  troops to a second gateway...and then reconfigured to use a third?
  And so on?
Drusilla:  Correct.
Belphanior:  Was there once one of these gateways beneath the manor of
  Baron Albert, in Blackmoor?
Drusilla:  Yes.
Belphanior:  And it's also been destroyed?
Drusilla:  Yes.
Belphanior:  And there's one here, in this place?
Drusilla:  Yes, behind that door, near my private quarters.
Belphanior:  How many gateways are there?
Drusilla:  (looks puzzled)  Only Xusia knew for certain...but at least
  a dozen, not counting this one or the two that had to be destroyed.
Belphanior:  (whistles)  Do you know where all of these are located?
Drusilla:  Not all, but some:  one beneath the Free City of Greyhawk,
  at least two in the Underdark, one in the Sea of Dust, one within the
  Unholy City, one beyond the Land of Black Ice, one in the Riftcanyon.
Belphanior:  (stares, gaping)
Elgon:  (thinking about his peoples' city beneath Greyhawk, he is quite
Drusilla:  And there are others in locations unknown to me.
Belphanior:  Let me get this right:  someone who knows how to use these
  gateways can travel instantly between any of their locations?
Drusilla:  Yes.  It's not that surprising, when you consider that Xusia
  started building this framework years ago.
Otto:  (hands Belphanior another scrap of parchment)
Belphanior:  (reads it, then addresses Drusilla again)  Was Cespedes
  responsible for the magic of the gateways?
Drusilla:  No.  Xusia had the vision, and worked the magic by which they
  function, lock onto each other, and establish the spatial connection.
Belphanior:  How exactly does a new gateway get built?
Drusilla:  An advance scout ventures to the location, removes certain
  building materials from extraplanar storage space, constructs and then
  enchants the basic structure...and then Xusia travels there and works
  the final magic that ties the new gateway to the other existing ones.
  (she looks sad)  But no more shall be built.  Those secrets existed
  only in Xusia's mind, and they died with him.
Belphanior:  Do each of these locations contain treasures and other
  caches of Xusia's?
Drusilla:  Most likely.  At least some do, that is certain.
Belphanior:  Do you know how to operate these gateways?
Drusilla:  Of course.  Each is an archway fashioned of enchanted stone
  infused with a bit of meteorite from the stars, making it extremely
  attuned to teleportation magic - and rendering it impervious to other
  teleportation magic of any kind.
Belphanior:  Can those without gateways home in on them?
Drusilla:  Theoretically, yes - but practically, no.  It would take one
  with exceptional skill and power, and even then, it would only work
  on unshielded gateways.
Belphanior:  Unshielded?
Drusilla:  Like this one.  We didn't have time to shield it properly,
  with stone and metal.  That's probably why you were able to find us.
  All other gateways are thickly shielded and will be undetectable and
  unreachable by any other teleportation magic.
Belphanior:  Back to the operating of them...explain it.  Simple but
Drusilla:  Each gateway has a round, red stone inset on its right side.
  The stone is surrounded by a metal disk with distinctly engraved
  runes.  This is a dial, with a fixed mark at its top; when the red
  stone is pushed, a portal will be opened to whatever location is set
  via the rune currently lined up with the fixed mark.
Belphanior:  So far, so good.  What manner of runes are used for this?
Drusilla:  They are taken from an ancient Sueloise alphabet.
Belphanior:  How many different rune-locations are there?
Drusilla:  Nineteen, minus this one and the two that were destroyed.
Belphanior:  Are they all identical, on the far end I mean?
Drusilla:  No.  The basic control and operation is of course the same,
  but the size and nature of the remote locations varies.
Belphanior:  When activated, are the portals two-way or one-way...and
  how long do they stay open for?
Drusilla:  They are one-way only, and remain open for about a minute.
Belphanior:  What happens if you try to open a portal to a gateway that
  doesn't exist anymore?
Drusilla:  Nothing will happen.  Portals can only be opened to gateways
  that are operational.
Belphanior:  How does one render a gateway non-operational?
Drusilla:  Aside from massive amounts of physical damage, only a single,
  special spell can ruin the teleportation magic, and only Xusia knew it.
Belphanior:  So all the gateways that were built at the time of his
  destruction are pretty much working now and forever?
Drusilla:  Correct.
Belphanior:  Are they ready for use, right now?  Can I use this one
  today, if I want to?
Drusilla:  No.  You need the key.  Xusia recently locked down all the
  gateways, and only the wielder of the key can re-open them.
Belphanior:  Do you know where this key is?
Drusilla:  Of course.  It's in my personal chambers with the rest of my
Belphanior:  What does it look like and how does it work?
Drusilla:  It is a small talisman of red stone.  If held up to the red
  stone next to any gateway, it re-enables that gateway as well as any
  others it has ever linked with.
Belphanior:  So they're all shut down until we open them, and then it's
  a free-for-all to visit them before someone else can?
Drusilla:  (smiles)  Yes.
Belphanior:  (regards Jenna, who is pointing urgently to the sandglass,
  whose sands are about two-thirds gone)  Hmm.  (to Drusilla)  Now I
  want to know about that door and the treasure beyond:  any traps, or
  cursed items, or other unpleasantness?
Drusilla:  Oh, yes.
Belphanior:  Give me details, as if you yourself were bypassing these
Drusilla:  (recites a dozen protective spells and wards that she's
  placed on the door, the gateway room, and her private quarters)
Skektek:  (whistles)
Belphanior:  Any guardians - living, undead, sentient, or nonsentient?
Drusilla:  No.  I am now the last intended inhabitant of this place.
Belphanior:  Who else knows you're here?
Drusilla:  Aside from all those you slew this day, only one that I know
  of:  Al-arakara the Damned.
Belphanior:  Who is that?
Drusilla:  He is a Sueloise mummy king in the Sea of Dust, and Xusia's
  fourth-in-command.  (bitterly)  He might have been third-in-command,
  had he dwelt in the Fortress rather than the wasteland.
Belphanior:  Is he expecting to hear from you anytime soon?
Drusilla:  No.  In fact, I've not yet used his gateway since I arrived
  here.  We are not on friendly terms.
Jenna:  (holds up the small sandglass, which is nearly empty now)
Belphanior:  (nods, then turns back to Drusilla)  My final questions
  concern Xusia's master, Orcus.
Drusilla:  (even in her trancelike state, she looks startled)
Belphanior:  Surely he knows of Xusia's fate, and the Nine's.  Why has
  he allowed these gateways to remain functional, and why hasn't he
  helped you here?
Drusilla:  His plans for Oerth are shattered.  With Xusia gone, there
  is nothing to be gained here, not in his mind.  Further, he is under
  scrutiny from other higher powers, and under attack from others of
  his kind.
Otto:  (hands Belphanior another scrap of parchment, pointing to the
  comatose Dremel)
Belphanior:  (to Drusilla)  Oh yeah...a paladin was slain in the battle
  at the Fortress...slain by your anti-paladin Ulrich's unholy sword.
  They are having some trouble raising this slain paladin.  I need to
  know if his soul yet lives on, somewhere.
Drusilla:  Ulrich was a servant of Nerull.  I cannot say for certain,
  but it is likely that the lost soul is in the custody of that deity.
Belphanior:  I see.  (he looks around at his team, as if asking whether
  any of them have any last questions)
Otto:  (hands the elf a hurriedly-scribbled note)
Belphanior:  Ah.  (to Drusilla)  Is this place supposed to be Xusia's
  backup headquarters?
Drusilla:  No.  He invested much of his power, and his ambitions, into
  the Fortress.  He did not intend for that place to ever fall - one
  reason for gathering the Nine together to begin with.
Belphanior:  So this is actually your headquarters?
Drusilla:  Yes, for now...until some rebuilding can occur.
Belphanior:  Is that why you're here, instead of using the gateways to
  rebuild a power base?
Drusilla:  Exactly.  It has to do with Al-arakara as well-
Jenna:  (watches as the sandglass' last sands fall through)
Drusilla:  (ceases talking and just sits there, slack-jawed)
Belphanior:  Damn!  I was about to ask her what her exact plans were...
  (he wonders if the vampiress has written notes or other evidence at
  hand, somewhere nearby)
Otto:  I guess that's it, then.
Jenna:  (looks exhausted, as if the spell drained all of her strength)
Razor Charlie:  Damn, I'm impressed.
Belphanior:  (nods to Jenna)  That was seriously was your
  quick thinking, Charlie, that let her be captured in the first place.
Jenna:  (weakly)  You're welcome.
Skektek:  (points to Drusilla, who is staring blankly at the wall)  What
  of her, now?
Jenna:  Her mind is gone and can't be restored, save perhaps by the gods.
Otto:  I say we put her outside, to get some sun.
Razor Charlie:  A good idea.
Belphanior:  (rummaging through his portable hole, he find a thin iron
  flask)  I have a better idea, at least for now.  (he speaks a command
  word, and Drusilla is instantly, magically sucked into the iron flask)
  There.  (he stoppers the container)
Skektek:  Well, that's one way.
Razor Charlie:  Won't she need her coffin and dirt to survive?
Belphanior:  (regards the warrior strangely)
Razor Charlie:  (shrugs)  I've taken an interest in vampires lately.
Belphanior:  She won't need a coffin or anything else, not while she's
  in that flask...she's basically in suspended animation.
Ys:  Whatever shall you do with her now, though?
Belphanior:  I'm not sure.  She'd make a good prize for any number of
  holy people or organizations, though I'm loathe to risk sharing her
  secrets.  Maybe I'll give her to that death knight Gorath...heh, then
  she'd never come back.  (he turns to Skektek)  You took good notes,
Skektek:  Perfect notes.  Word for word, didn't miss a thing.
Belphanior:  Outstanding.  We'll likely need that to use those gateways.
Skektek:  (his eyes widen)
Belphanior:  But that's for later.  (turns to the small door)  For now,
  we need your notes on the traps and spells, so we can get to the inner
  chambers of this place.

  It wasn't easy, and it wasn't fun.  They spent the next hour disarming
or negating Drusilla's traps and wards, one at a time.  Most were magical
but some were physical; defeating them called into play the detection
powers of Belphanior's magical eye, the stonework prowess of Elgon, the
trap skills of Otto, the scrying of Jenna, the magic of all the spell-
casters, and (in one case) the brute strength of Ys.

Razor Charlie:  (frowns)

  Finally, though, they stood in the vampiress' quarters.  The others
who had lived here had other rooms, but this one was Drusilla's.  It
was little more than a bedchamber, complete with fancy coffin, a small
desk, and a bookshelf.  Three chests held various clothes and personal
possessions as well as monetary treasure and magical items.  An adjacent
chamber held the teleportation gateway:  a ten-foot passage that ended
abruptly in a stone arch, with a red stone set in its right side.  This
stone was surrounded by a metal disc, inlaid with nineteen distinct and
unusual markings - just as they'd been told.

Skektek:  Whoa...
Otto:  What, you didn't believe her?
Skektek:  I did, but to actually see it, after hearing what she said
  about you realize the potential these offer?
Otto:  Yeah, I do...especially now that there won't be any demonic
  hordes using them to attack the world.
Belphanior:  That can wait - we've got a major haul on our hands here.

  The useful stuff was sorted into two large piles, one for money, the
other for magic.

Skektek:  By the gods, what a haul!

  The purely monetary treasure was plentiful:  a bag of holding full of
many thousands of gold coins...two small, felt-lined chests which each
contained a score of high-quality rubies...a dozen other pieces of
jewelry, all of them bristling with gemstones...about fifty ingots of
raw platinum.

Otto:  No silver...heh.
Belphanior:  Enough of the baubles, let's have at the true treasure.
Jenna:  (having recovered fully now, she casts a spell to check every-
  thing for curses, evil, good, and so on)

  There were numerous magical items.  Aside from the bag of holding,
there were those things Drusilla had been wearing:  a ring of spell
turning and a dagger that had some kind of darkness-casting power.  In
one of the chests were other useful things:  a cloak that looked and
felt like cloth, but hardened like steel at the approach of any blow
or attack...a quiver of arrows enchanted to scream loudly after being
fired...another quiver of arrows that burst into flame after being
fired...a ring of frost resistance...a small pouch containing a stone,
a fork, and a single earring.
  On the small desk was a quill that wrote on its own if commanded, and
a vial of dust that magically preserved anything it was shaken over.
Next to these lay Drusilla's spellbook (which contained many familiar
spells and a few unfamiliar ones) and a thick leather-bound journal
which contained her personal notes and other information.  Atop the
book was a small talisman of red stone, which they now knew to be the
gateway-key that the vampiress had spoken of.  Stacked in the desk's
single drawer were four ancient, powerful books:  a detailed treatise
on the art of necromancy...a tome detailing the stars, the sky, and
such...a complete history of the rise and fall of the Sueloise Empire...
and an unfinished but extensive atlas of the Underdark.
  The last of the three chests had contained the most complicated and
lethal traps; it only held four items, all of which radiated immense
power (and in some cases, good or evil as well.)  What looked like a
crude, roughly-cylindrical black gemstone turned out to be a brightly-
glowing sword encased in jet-black stone.  The weapon's light was so
bright that it shone _through_ the stone; it had a very strong aura of

Sir Dremel:  (propped up in a chair, and in a deep sleep, he stirs just
  a bit)
Otto:  Hmm.  (he places the encased sword next to the comatose paladin,
  but nothing else happens)  Oh well, it was worth a try.

  Wrapped in dragonhide was a large circular mirror; without legs or
any other means of standing up, it seemed intended to be mounted on a
wall.  It was about four feet in diameter, its frame fashioned of an
unknown purple metal, and its surface was opaque and appeared to be
made of mist.  This thing had neither a good nor an evil aura.

Belphanior:  (quickly covers the thing back up)  To be studied, but not
  now, or here.

  The third item was a simple wand of gray bone, covered in a few runes.
It held a slight dweomer of evil, and a powerful one of magic.  Skektek
seemed quite taken with this item, but he couldn't make it do anything.

Skektek:  I think we should get home...research is needed...

  The fourth item in the chest was the thickest book any of them had ever
seen, bound in a strange black hide that radiated slight evil and strong
magic.  Its front cover bore a skull-like symbol that some of them had
seen before...

Skektek:  Five gets you ten that's Xusia's spellbook.
Jenna:  Its aura of evil is strong, too.
Belphanior:  (finds that he must clench his fists to control the urge
  to delve into the spells of Xusia right here and now)  We must wait...
  a thing like this has to be studied under better conditions.  It's
  not safe anywhere, but I need time and patience.  (he glances at his
  palms, which are bleeding slightly)
Otto:  (to one side, he flips through Drusilla's journal)  Hmm.
Belphanior:  (to all)  Take all the gold and such that you want; in a
  bit, we'll divide up the magic items.


Otto:  (takes Belphanior aside, speaking in a low voice)  You need to
  read the vampiress' journal.
Belphanior:  Why's that?
Otto:  Because, in addition to being a wizard, it looks like she was
  more than a little obsessive about keeping track of things.
Belphanior:  What sorts of things?
Otto:  Everything.  So far, I've found notes on the operation of those
  teleportation gateways, a list of Xusia's allies and potential allies,
  evidence of blackmail and spying on the part of a Greyhawk Oligarch,
  secret details of a number of assassinations and plans for such all
  across the Flanaess, some musings on the Crimson Blades, notes on the
  demigods who were once imprisoned beneath Castle Greyhawk-
Belphanior:  Wow.
Otto:  -and last but not least, details of various machinations that
  seem to be leading up to a world war.
Belphanior:  By the gods...
Otto:  It's not like she or Xusia or the Nine were actively involved in
  any of these things.  I think she just gathered information and made
  conclusions.  Still, if half of what she's written about is accurate,
  her book may well be one of the prime treasures of this stash.
Belphanior:  Make sure you get it, then.  I myself have to take Xusia's

  When further searches (physical and magical) had proven that the
temple was indeed cleaned out, they went back outside...and then used
several spells to completely collapse the entrance.

Belphanior:  (helpfully)  I studied the inside of that temple, and I
  can teleport us back inside anytime we need to.  This way, no one
  will wander in and cause any trouble.
Skektek:  It sounds like we're leaving...we're going to come back here
  soon and see where that gateway leads, right?
Belphanior:  Absolutely.
Otto:  Before we leave, we'd better wake up the paladin.
Elgon:  And split up this treasure.
Belphanior:  Before we do, I need to explain something to you two new
  people.  (as Jenna and Elgon listen, he gives them a brief lecture
  involving their future in his group and the rewards that will follow
  from such participation)

  Shortly, Sir Dremel had been revived, and they'd explained to him
about the slaying of the vampiress, the looting of her chambers, and
the intentional collapse of the dungeon.

Sir Dremel:  Collapsing the temple...excellent.  No more evildoers will
  ever do evil from _there_!
Elgon:  (smirks to Jenna)
Otto:  We'd best divide the magical things up.

  They did so, each receiving two or three of the items:

bag of holding                          Otto
ring of spell turning                   Razor Charlie
dagger of darkness                      Elgon
cloak of steel                          Jenna
arrows of screaming                     Razor Charlie
arrows of fire                          Razor Charlie
ring of frost resistance                Ys
stone of ages                           Jenna
fork of doom                            Ys
earring of truth                        Sir Dremel
quill of dictation                      Skektek
dust of preservation                    Jenna
Drusilla's spellbook                    Skektek
Drusilla's journal                      Otto
gateway key                             Belphanior/all
Book of Yesh                            Belphanior
Book of Stars                           Belphanior (for Pallin)
history of Sueloise Empire              Belphanior (for Neera)
atlas of the Underdark                  Elgon
sword                                   Sir Dremel
mirror                                  Belphanior
wand                                    Skektek
Xusia's spellbook                       Belphanior

  Belphanior had insisted on the two items for Pallin and Neera as reward
for their help with this mission; in Neera's case, her book was on behalf
of Parekh.

Sir Dremel:  I'm sure Parekh wouldn't mind.  She's a great and powerful
  archmage.  (he turns to Belphanior)  Thank you for trying to find out
  about my brother's soul, before the vampire expired.  I shall go from
  there and hopefully have better luck.
Belphanior:  No problem.  (he wonders exactly how the paladin knows the
Skektek:  We're not really going to trudge all the way back to the ship
  and then spend weeks getting home, are we?
Razor Charlie:  (wondering where exactly "home" is for them now)
Belphanior:  Nope.  I'm going to teleport us to Rob's temple in Keoland.
  He gave permission for arrivals of this sort, and you're right, going
  back overland and oversea will consume weeks...and I have some things
  I want to do within days.

next:      finally, we see what some others are up to!
released:  3/19/04
notes:     I have never watched an episode of "Stargate SG-1" and I knew
  nothing about its gateways when I came up with this plotline.  The idea
  sprung, truthfully, from the "Deathlands" series of novels and I had it
  in mind even back when I was writing the Fortress of the Nine module
  and then that story arc in the 700s.  I also got some conspiracy-type
  plotlines in my head, thus the contents of Drusilla's journal.
    Expect to see some explorations of the unknown, using the gateways.
  But first, we have to check up on the Rillen/Songa/Halbarad/Peyote and
  the Mongo contingents.  (I promise you it won't take twelve episodes
  for either of them!)

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