Chapter #845

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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        +
+   Date:          6/9/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          the dead of night                                      +
+   Place:         the city of Hokar, within the Hold of the Sea Princes  +
+   Climate:       mild                                                   +
+   "You're know that, don't you?"                             +
+   "No, I'm not."                                                        +
+   "Well, what the fuck do you call 125 murders in five years?"          +
+   "Work in progress."                                                   +
+                                          - from _The Punisher_ (1989)   +

                       DCCCXLV.  First Step

  While staying in an inn, Belphanior has encountered a midnight attack
from an unknown hostile party, and now, the sounds of steel and the
gurgle of death fill his room...

Belphanior:  (strikes flint to steel, illuminating the room)

  There was quite a bit of blood on the floor, though none of it belonged
to the elf.  A body lay sprawled to one side amidst a widening pool of
crimson.  The second attacker was crumpled in a corner, clutching his
shoulder, which had bled sufficiently to stain most of his shirt red.

thief #2:  (stares at the corpse, and then at the elf, in disbelief)
Belphanior:  It's never a good idea to try and sneak up on someone who
  can detect souls and see in the dark.
thief #2:  (grimaces)  Urgh...
Belphanior:  I won't mince words:  who sent you?
thief #2:  (speaking in a weakened, raspy voice)  Go to hell!
Belphanior:  You might bleed out and die, and if you don't, I'm going to
  intervene and make sure you do.  Are you following me?
thief #2:  (pales)
Belphanior:  In fact, I might just make your passing as uncomfortable as
  is humanly possible.  (he leans in, staring at the other)
thief #2:  (recoils before that intense gaze)
Belphanior:  Who sent you?  I want an answer and I want it now.
thief #2:  I can't tell you...they'll kill me...
Belphanior:  Or I'll kill you, or you'll die anyway.  (he produces a
  long, sharp dagger)  I'm going to ask you one more time:  who sent you
  here to kill me?
thief #2:  Elkazaar...
Belphanior:  The wizard?
thief #2:  (nods)  He is a wizard...and one of the city's Councilmen...
Belphanior:  Council?  What Council?
thief #2:  The Council of Slavers...(he looks confused)  Don't you know
Belphanior:  I'm not from here, and don't get smart with me.  (he points
  the dagger at the man's face)  Where can I find this Elkazaar?
thief #2:  (begins talking)

  Belphanior learned much from the wounded man.  The Guild of Thieves had
been responsible for this leak; Belphanior's inquiry, obviously of some
importance to the elf since he'd paid for it without question, had been
taken to a master thief, and then sold to Elkazaar himself.  The wizard
had then felt it prudent to hire assassins to take care of the unknown
stranger who was looking for him.  His actions had been motivated by a
fear of harm; the Thieves' Guild's actions had been motivated by greed.
  Everything had worked out just as Belphanior had intended.  And from
the wounded would-be assassin, he now learned the location of Elkazaar
the wizard:  a small but plush apartment in the city's wealthier section.

Belphanior:  (takes a small pouch of coins)  I'll take that.  After all,
  it's only fair, since it was paid for my life.
thief #2:  Damn you...
Belphanior:  I'm thrice-damned.  (he puts the dagger away)
thief #2:  (looks relieved)
Belphanior:  (draws Blackrazor)
thief #2:  What?!  I thought you were-
Belphanior:  I told you what would happen if you didn't talk; I never
  told you what would happen if you did.
thief #2:  (pales)

  It wasn't long before the elf vacated his room by means of the window.
Although he hadn't used his skills as much as most thieves, and despite
his until-recent reliance on magical items, the elf hadn't forgotten how
to climb walls, blend into shadows, and so forth.  The two bodies were
left in the room in the inn; he'd paid for three days with specific
instructions that he not be disturbed.  By the time the bodies were
discovered, he planned to be long gone from this city.
  Finding the part of town where Elkazaar lived wasn't difficult, nor
was finding the building in which the wizard lived.  The thief, under
threat of death, had given up all the necessary details.  Belphanior
scaled the outer wall with ease, slipped through the shadows in the
building's courtyard, and climbed up the wall in no time.  Finding a
window, he made short work of its lock, and pulled himself inside.

Belphanior:  (looks around, his magical eye letting him see the room's
  layout without any time to adjust from the outside light)

  Fortunately for the elf, the eye also detected traps and magic, which
saved him from a false floor-tile that triggered some unknown trap.  It
also saved him from the magical glyph placed upon an exotic-looking gold
chest - which the eye showed to be empty, false promise within a deadly
magical trap.  The wizard was clever, but Belphanior meant to triumph
this night.
  Two picked locks and one more avoided traps later, the elf stood in a
plush bedchamber, sword in hand, watching a skinny middle-aged wizard
sleep.  His eye left no doubt about the other's profession, as all those
who cast spells held some residual aura.  Belphanior saw no point in any
further delay, and so it was that the wizard woke to a cold steel blade
at his throat.

Belphanior:  Try and cast a spell and I'll cut your throat.  Nod if you
wizard:  (nods)
Belphanior:  I'm here for two reasons, and you're going to help me in both
  endeavors.  Nod if you understand.
wizard:  (nods again)
Belphanior:  What is your name?
wizard:  Elkazaar, of course-
Belphanior:  That's enough.  Listen carefully, because I'm in a hurry and
  also pretty upset.  I seek a wizard who was recently in the mountains
  to the north and west, with a slaver caravan.  I want a name.
Elkazaar:  I don't- what makes you think I know anything about this?
Belphanior:  Your name appeared on a list I found while tracking down
  something that was stolen from me, something I want back quite badly.
  Also, you're on this city's Council of Slavers, so I'm figuring that
  you have the answer I want.  Do you understand now?
Elkazaar:  (nods wearily)
Belphanior:  Tell me what I want to know and I'll leave, and you won't
  have to worry about it anymore.  It's that simple.
Elkazaar:  (looks relieved)  Very well.  The wizard you seek is my direct
  superior, and he resides in Monmurg.
Belphanior:  Name.
Elkazaar:  Yes...his name is Tyros, Tyros the Red.  He emerged from the
  Crystalmists almost a week ago, stopped in this city, then went back
  to his home.  He had quite a bit of loot, too.
Belphanior:  (almost holds his breath before administering the true test
  to see if this wizard actually speaks the truth)  Describe this loot.
Elkazaar:  Um...some clothing, a lot of gemstones, a couple of rings, a
  pair of bracers, a necklace, a belt, some books-
Belphanior:  (nods)  Excellent.
Elkazaar:  Whew.
Belphanior:  Don't be so quick to think this is over.  I thank you for
  the information, but...(he turns his sword ever so slightly, drawing a
  drop of blood from the wizard's throat)  So you're some kind of head
  slaver or something?  You control a big part of the operation here?
Elkazaar:  Yes, yes!  I have money - a ton of it!  I can get it for you
  too, if-  (he stops, as the sword is biting just a bit deeper now)
  What are you doing?
Belphanior:  It's just that I don't see why you should get to live.
Elkazaar:  B- but you said you'd leave if I told you!  You said I wouldn't
  have to worry about it anymore!
Belphanior:  And both are true.  But you shouldn't have tried to have me
  killed.  (he stabs the man through the throat, slaying him and taking
  his life force)  Ahhhh.  (he frowns)  That's for all the slaves from
  that caravan, who died in the mountains and needed avenging.

next:      onward to Monmurg
released:  11/5/04
notes:     I'm intending for this to build to something great.  Beyond
  that, I will reveal nothing ahead of time.

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