Chapter #836

previous chapter (#835)                                                                  next chapter (#837)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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        +
+   Date:          5/26/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          evening                                                +
+   Place:         an inn somewhere within the Crystalmist Mountains      +
+   Climate:       chilly                                                 +
+   "Yeah, well, I guess he had it comin'."                               +
+   "We all got it comin', kid."                                          +
+                                                   - from _Unforgiven_   +

                    DCCCXXXVI.  Tables Turned

  Scant moments after leading the refugees to an inn amidst the depths
of the mountain forest, Belphanior has been attacked by those who were
his captors earlier that day...

Belphanior:  Urgh...(he stumbles, falling to his knees)
Turkus:  That's right, you bolt was poisoned.  (he draws a
  curved sword and steps forward, pushing an underling out of the way)
  I won't need the crossbow now, though, to finish you off.
other slavers:  (moving into the inn's common room, they quickly and
  efficiently collect the dozen slaves who came here with Belphanior)
Rubar:  (steps through the inn's front door, his hands still bound
  behind his back)  Yeah!  Get him!
Turkus:  What are _you_ doing here?  We thought you were dead, back there.
Rubar:  So did I...but this elf kept me around so he could find all that
  stuff the wizard took back.
Turkus:  (chuckles)  Heh.  That'll never happen.

  Meanwhile, Belphanior was using this time to gather his strength.  The
poison was potent, but he was still infused with the combined life-force
of several slain foes...and he was naturally tough and resilient.  As he
kneeled there while the two slavers talked, he found his strength slowly
returning.  Turkus was overconfident in his crossbow bolt's poison, and
he knew nothing of Belphanior's dark blade or the powers it offered the
elf.  Belphanior quietly resolved that this would be the last mistake
that Turkus ever made.

Turkus:  -yeah, we fled here through the forest.  Damn wolves howled all
  the while, but none attacked.
Rubar:  They were busy fighting him.
Turkus:  (walks over to Belphanior, who's lying on his side on the floor)
  Well, elf, you can forget your items, and your life.  (he regards the
  dozen slaves that his men have herded into the inn)  And after I finish
  you off, I'm going to take these people - as well as the family who runs
  this inn - and get back to civilization.  I'll make a coin or two from
  all of this yet-  (he looks down)  -urk.

  Belphanior had stabbed the slaver chief through the groin, his sword
vanishing upward into the other's guts.  Turkus looked rather surprised
as he crumpled to the floor.

Turkus:  Ghak.  (he dies, blood pooling on the floor around him as all
  present watch in shock)
Belphanior:  (to Rubar)  Thanks for distracting him.
Rubar:  I- I...
Belphanior:  (whirls, decapitating Turkus with a swift, violent slash of
  his blade)  Ahhhh...

  The elf barely felt any pain now, as he turned to the six remaining
slavers who had fled here with Turkus.  They looked wary, almost fearful
now, as they gripped their weapons with nervous, sweaty hands.

Belphanior:  Anyone who doesn't want to die can just head out that door.
slaver #1:  (frowns, eyeing the door)
slaver #2:  Uh...
slaver #6:  Aw, come on!  Guys, there's six of us and one of him!  Now,
  let's get him!

  As the slavers formed a half-circle, surrounding the elf, the dozen
slaves gravitated to one corner of the room, hiding behind a large table
out of the way of the coming fight.  The woman who had been behind the
bar moved to another corner of the common room, well out of the way of
whatever action was to come.

Belphanior:  (pointing his sword at the slavers)  Time to die.
slaver #6:  (to his fellows)  On my signal...attack!

  Just then, the inn's front door burst from its hinges, sailing outward
into the night.  A cacophony of low growls signaled the arrival of a new
side in this conflict...a third force whose presence terrified most of
those present.

wolf #1:  (lopes into the inn's common room)  Grrr...
wolf #2:  (follows the first, drooling and bloodstained jaws gnashing
  hungrily)  Rrrrrr...
wolf #3:  (enters the inn, turning toward the cowering slaves)  Grrrrr...
slaver #1:  Shit, it's the wolves!
slaver #2:  And they look really mad.
slaver #3:  And hungry.
Belphanior:  Just fucking great.
slaver #6:  (looking between the elf and the wolves)  An alliance, then?
  Men against beasts?
Belphanior:  Sure.  (he waves his black blade in front of him, slashing
  the air)  If I were you, I'd fight like never before...make every blow
  count, give no quarter, and don't go quietly.  This'll be one hell of
  a fight.

  A massacre was more like it.  After a half-dozen of them were in the
room, the wolves commenced a fast and savage attack, trying to overwhelm
the slavers and Belphanior.  Claw and sword met, with bloody results; in
moments, steel flashed and blood spurted everywhere.  Belphanior had
quietly moved to position himself so that the slavers would take the
brunt of the wolves' attack; the elf was able to backstab one wolf as
it tore into a slaver.

Belphanior:  Ahhhh.  (newly energized, he whirls in time to fend off
  another wolf as it charges him)

  The slavers fought well, and bravely, but to tell the truth, they
were badly outmatched.  After one fell, another quickly followed...and
the wolves' advantage grew more lopsided.  If Belphanior hadn't been
fighting for his life, he would have noticed that the slavers' weapons
weren't inflicting any major or lasting wounds on the beasts.

Belphanior:  (raked across the arm by claws, he grits his teeth, using
  his sword to drive the wolf back)  Aaargh!  Dammit!

  Meanwhile, trapped in the corner with no one to protect them and little
or no skill with weapons, the band of former slaves were quickly being
ripped to shreds by other wolves.  They put up a good fight, but it was
a lost cause.  Belphanior noted this as he slew another wolf, and some
of his deeper wounds healed up.

Belphanior:  Dammit!  They're killing the slaves-  (he dodges a leaping
  wolf, slashing its flank as it passes by)
slaver #6:  So what?!?  (he fends off a bite, only to get hamstrung by
  another of the beasts)  Aaargh!  (he goes down, hacking at the three
  wolves that are suddenly upon him)

  Almost before he knew it, Belphanior was backed into a corner.  Since
the inn's common room was full of attacking wolves, and there were no
windows anywhere near the elf, he had no means of escape.  He also had
no allies - all of the slavers were dead, including Rubar, and the dozen
freed slaves had met with the same fate.  On the bright side, the wolves
could only come at him in limited numbers, and unlike the weapons of the
fallen slavers, his blade cut their flesh and wounded them.  The wolves
seemed to know this, and grew hesitant to face this sole survivor with
the lightning-fast steel that hurt or killed them.
  For his part, Belphanior had given up hope of surviving, but not of
dying hard.  His only goal now was to last as long as possible and kill
as many of the beasts as he could before he fell.  The fact that his
strength and speed were bolstered by the life-force of everything he'd
slain helped immensely; he was now fighting with skill and stamina well
beyond that of any normal person.  The wolves were cautious, even fearful
now; their dead were piled in front of the bloody, sweating elf.  More,
their numbers were not infinite; a dozen or so remained alive and able to
attack, all of them within the inn.  They circled and growled menacingly,
but Belphanior's dark blade was grasped firmly in his hand, ready to deal
more death.

Belphanior:  (realizes that the wolves' numbers have dwindled, just as
  he also realizes that the woman who was tending bar is standing in one
  corner, unharmed)
woman:  (shaking her head sadly as she surveys the gory carnage)
Belphanior:  Huh?

next:      revelations
released:  9/3/04
notes:     I find this type of story far easier to write, most of the
  time, than the ones that are wide in scope and ambition.  There are
  certain times where I can write anything, and others when I can write
  nothing, but in general I'm limited by my normal mood and ability as
  far as different sorts of stories and arcs.

previous chapter (#835)                                                                  next chapter (#837)