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+ THE ADVENTURERS +
+ Epic V +
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+ which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use. Any such +
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+ 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: 6/22/580 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: the middle of the night +
+ Place: Monmurg, capital of the Hold of the Sea Princes +
+ Climate: chilly +
+ "My friends specialize in impossible situations." +
+ - Amy Amanda Allen, from _The A-Team_ +
DCCCL. Execution Day
Belphanior sat on the floor of his small, windowless cell, his back
propped up against the wall opposite the door, staring into space and
thinking. All things considered, he was quite calm. He had no interest
in sleeping right now, and for the last few hours he'd been recounting
his life: his childhood as an orphan, his survival at all costs on the
streets, his discovery of magic and its power, his various wanderings,
his adventures with Mongo and Peldor and the rest, the formation of his
own team of followers, his brief but eventful rulership of Helgate and
his time with Victoria, the recent adventures in Panagaea, the campaign
against Xusia, the discovery and exploration of the gateways...and then
the more recent events involving slavers, Tyros, and now other rulers of
this thrice-damned Hold of the Sea Princes.
Oddly enough, Belphanior wasn't having regrets over the actions of his
lifetime, nor was he feeling sorry for himself. His mind was configured
differently - for he was making a mental list of mistakes, things that
he should have done differently or more efficiently to achieve power or
some other goal. Despite having no means of escaping his impending
execution later this morning, he was actually analyzing his own tactical
weaknesses and failed strategies...as if to tell the gods "get me out of
this somehow, and I'll never be caught helpless again". Of course, as
was well known, the gods seldom listened.
The elf was being held in a special cell, one with abnormally thick
walls, containing multiple plates of lead, on all sides. This wasn't
because Monmurg's rulers feared an escape or rescue attempt, but more
because long ago, they'd designed this special "maximum security" cell
for the most dangerous of prisoners. However, they'd never had a chance
to use it over the years...until now, when they actually had a dangerous
prisoner. No time had been wasted getting Belphanior into this special
cell; now, he waited there for the coming day's events.
Outside the cell, a few weakly-burning torches illuminated a narrow
hallway, also part of the unusual cell-block. At the end of this hall
was a thick door of iron-banded oak, its exterior side manned by a half-
dozen of the Prince's most experienced royal guards. They weren't here
to keep intruders out (though they could and would) but rather to keep
the elf in, which also meant disregarding any attempt he made to talk
with them. No matter what Belphanior said or did, they were to ignore
him completely until others came to take the elf away for his execution.
Sometime after midnight, these guards were surprised but not startled
to see a skinny, withered old man approach, a dirty wooden bowl held in
his gnarled hands. A collar of beaten metal, embossed with the royal
symbol of the Sea Princes, marked this man as a slave.
head guard: Who goes there?
old slave: I was sent to bring the prisoner some food.
head guard: Huh? Why?
old slave: To keep his strength up for tomorrow, they said...so he
doesn't die before his big day. (he holds out the bowl, showing the
guards its contents: greasy gruel with unidentifiable things floating
other guard: (laughs)
head guard: (takes hold of the small amulet around his neck, an amulet
which holds a small red gemstone)
This was a measure enacted by High Wizard Beekus, to keep any and all
unauthorized magic away from the cell and its occupant. The red gemstone
would glow in the presence of any magical items; the fact that it stayed
dull and lifeless in the presence of the old slave and his bowl of slop
meant that nothing was hidden on or in either.
old slave: (bows)
head guard: Wait. (he unsheathes a dagger and pokes it into the bowl,
poking around until satisfied that nothing but slop is in this bowl of
slop) Okay, go on.
other guard: (opens the door) Be quick. Don't make me come get you.
old slave: (bows again)
The old fellow made his way to the cell door, peering at the elf for a
moment before opening a slot near the floor and pushing the bowl through.
Belphanior: (stares at the old slave)
old slave: (motions for the elf to come near)
Belphanior: (moves over to the door, trying to see if there are any
guards nearby before whispering) What? Who are-
old slave: Shh. If they see me talking to you, I could be executed.
(he stares at the elf with filmy eyes) There are slaves here, and in
all this land, who know what you did at Westkeep...know, and remember.
I can't possibly hope to free you or save you, but I did want you to
know that - to us - you made a difference. For what it's worth.
Belphanior: (somewhat disappointed that this isn't a rescue attempt,
he regards the old man)
old slave: (he backs away, nodding, and then leaves)
Outside the hallway...
head guard: Was he talking to you in there?
old slave: (bows) Yes, he asked something about what time it was. I
only told him that I didn't know, but he wouldn't shut up, so finally
I left him with his bowl of gruel. (he bows to them all, again)
other guard: Get the hell out of here, you old fart.
old slave: (scurries away)
Elsewhere in the city, Tyros the Red rested in his mansion, despite the
heavy damage it had sustained. Some people would have refused to remain
in a home that had been the site of a recent battle, but Tyros suffered
from no such compunctions. All of his possessions were in his mansion,
and there was no way he'd leave them unguarded. At any rate, repairs
would get underway within the next couple of days...but not until after
the damned elf had been executed. In Tyros' mind, that one event would
mark a turning point, after which things would return to normal. As he
lay in bed, thinking of the upcoming execution, he smiled to himself.
On the top floor of the city's central guardhouse, Captain Rorgard
paced the rooms of his quarters, restless and worried. One thing he'd
been taught from the first day he'd ever picked up a sword was to never,
EVER allow a foe to live. This held doubly true for a dangerous foe who
had proven his intent to do harm. As far as Rorgard was concerned, Prince
Creon was too concerned with his own image and popularity, and not quite
concerned enough with the danger posed by Belphanior. One thing was for
sure: Captain Rorgard wouldn't be at ease until the execution tomorrow
In the royal palace, Prince Creon was deep in slumber, dreaming of a
newfound popularity among his people as multiple crimes were solved (and
avenged) with a single stroke of the executioner's axe.
Many hours later, sometime after breakfast but before the beginning of
the day's business throughout the city of Monmurg, the stage was set.
A large wooden platform had been built atop the palace steps, such that
thousands of people could see it at once (if not very well.) All high-
ranking city officials were present, in choice seats near the platform.
Lord Mayor Kordigan: It's about time.
Prince Creon: Indeed...and wait until you see my latest clever idea.
(he nods to Captain Rorgard) Bring the prisoner.
Captain Rorgard: (wondering if this is really necessary, he signals
a guard, who signals other guards)
Scores of city guardsmen moved through the crowd, parting the people
and creating a pathway. From some hidden place, another dozen guardsmen
appeared, flanking two huge slaves who bore the front and back ends of a
thick wooden pole. Strung beneath this pole, his hands bound together
above it, was Belphanior. The procession began marching, slowly, toward
the distant steps of the royal palace, forcing the elf to move along
while allowing the assembled citizens to yell, curse, and spit at him.
He didn't have enough strength to keep his footing at all times, and thus
ended up being dragged at times. For his part, Belphanior did the best
he could to maintain his balance and ignore the jeering crowd; he refused
to look them in the eye or respond to their taunts and jeers. It was
really more humiliating than anything else, which was exactly the
intention of Prince Creon.
Prince Creon: (watching the elf get dragged toward the execution site)
Captain Rorgard: (frowns, feeling that this display is pointless and a
waste of time and manpower)
Prince Creon: (turns to the executioner) Is all in readiness?
executioner: (a tall, hooded figure clad all in black, he checks the
edge of his gigantic axe a final time, then nods to the prince) Aye.
Prince Creon: Excellent.
The procession bearing the condemned made its way through the city's
main street and then up the palace steps, the crowd closing the pathway
behind the guards. When the execution platform was reached, Belphanior
was removed from the pole and marched toward a thick block of wood...
the chopping block.
Prince Creon: So, we meet again - for the last time. (to the guards)
Since Belphanior hadn't made any kind of sudden or meaningful move
for the last twelve hours, he was able to surprise everybody when he
did what he did next. Balling both of his bound hands into fists, he
swung them upward while driving with his legs. The guard nearest him
was caught utterly by surprise, knocked back senseless with a broken jaw.
Even as another guard drew a sword back, and Prince Creon screamed for
the elf to be taken alive, Belphanior whirled and leaped. He managed
to avoid Captain Rorgard's lunge as he closed on the Prince, hands
ready to close on that pompous throat and crush the life from-
Belphanior: <BAM> (knocked down to the ground by a tremendous blow)
Tyros the Red: (smirking, he wields the force-fist conjured by his
It was apparent that the crimson-garbed mage had not only expected
something like this, but had prepared for it. Within moments, the
stunned elf was shackled in place over the headsman's block, the mass
of citizens cheering wildly through the entire process. There was
nothing like a foiled last-minute escape attempt to add excitement to
Belphanior: (stunned and bleeding from his nose and ears, he struggles
with his chains, to no effect) Dammit.
Prince Creon: (waving to the thousands-strong crowd below)
Tyros: (mutters to Belphanior) Next time you plan an escape attempt,
remember to take out the most dangerous foe first.
Belphanior: (glares at the wizard)
executioner: (hefts his axe expectantly)
Prince Creon: (finally stops pandering to the crowd, and walks over to
Belphanior) Have you any last words?
Belphanior: (despite having only one eye, he stares down the prince, who
can't hold the gaze and quickly looks away) I am here today because I
was attacked and imprisoned, and my belongings stolen. The fact that
your law permits this doesn't make it right. (he glares at the other)
You have wronged me, your officials have wronged me, and your country
has wronged me. I swear this to you: no matter what it takes, I will
have my revenge...even if I have to drag my way back from Hell!
Prince Creon: (recoils from the sheer strength of the hatred in the
elf's voice) Uh...right. (he looks around for a moment, then regains
his composure and waves to the crowd)
crowd: (goes wild)
Prince Creon: (gestures to the executioner) It's time.
There was no drum roll, but the watching crowd was dead silent as the
executioner raised his axe.
Belphanior: I'll be waiting for you in Hell.
The hulking executioner's axe stayed raised for another moment, and
another...and then there was a blinding flash! Belphanior had an odd
moment of nausea, and wondered if this was what the mind "saw" in the
instant after decapitation, but then he looked up and noted the looks
of shock on the faces of Tyros, Beekus, and the others.
High Wizard Beekus: What?!? Something is wrong-
Tyros: (shrieking madly) My cloak! My ring! My stoneskin-
executioner: (finally brings his axe down, but in a different direction
than anyone had anticipated)
Tyros: (caught fully in the chest by the mighty blow, he is cut in
half with a great splattering of blood and gore) Ack.
executioner: (swings the axe around again, knocking the three nearest
There was a second, far less bright flash then, and a group of eight
dangerous, determined-looking people appeared from thin air to stand on
hooded figure: (spreads its thin hands, unleashing a volley of bright
bolts of energy which strike Prince Creon, High Wizard Beekus, Captain
Rorgard, Lord Mayor Kordigan, and the three guardsmen nearest to them)
The magical bolts weren't excessively powerful or damaging, but more
of a distraction to buy other attackers some precious seconds...
wispy thing: (flies right at High Wizard Beekus' face) sssss!
High Wizard Beekus: Aaaa! (he waves his hands wildly, trying to drive
away the intangible foe)
Otto: (raises his crossbow, shooting High Wizard Beekus in the shoulder
with an enchanted, poisoned bolt)
Prince Creon: Who dares-
Skektek: (launches a great bolt of lightning, which only grazes Prince
Creon but scores a direct hit on both Captain Rorgard and Lord Mayor
Kordigan, as well as two more guardsmen) Shut up.
Ys: (holding his huge sword in one hand and a large mallet in the other,
he faces the executioner)
executioner: It's about time. (he hurls the headsman's axe into a group
of charging guardsmen, then takes the mallet from Ys, along with a wide
leather belt) Many thanks.
Belphanior: That voice...familiar...
executioner: (pulls back the executioner's hood, revealing hard, rugged
features that Belphanior hasn't seen in quite a while)
Drak: (nods) And friends.
Ys: (hefts his huge blade) All sorts of friends. (he grins toothily
and swings the greatsword once, easily severing the chains that hold
Belphanior to the chopping block) Consider yourself rescued.
Drak: (tightens his belt) Time for some battle. (he turns to a group
of attacking guardsmen and begins growing as he hammers away with wide
sweeps of his mallet)
Prince Creon: (taken aback at the barbarian's sudden transformation)
Hey, that's not the regular executioner!
Belphanior: (still in shock from all of this) How...?
hooded figure: (speaking in a strong female voice) Sorry it took so
long - we had some trouble locating you until now, and we had to see
the final setup here before finalizing our plan.
Belphanior: (weak to the point of delirium) That voice...is it-
Jenna: (completes a spell, touching the elf)
Belphanior: (muchly rejuvenated as many of his wounds heal) Aaaah.
Jenna: (presses a potion bottle into Belphanior's hands) Hurry, drink
Belphanior: (guzzles the liquid, and instantly feels even better) Mm.
Elgon: (completes his spell)
The crowd saw a huge green dragon appear on the executioner's platform
atop the steps above, and they went wild with fear, screaming and running
about. It quickly degenerated into complete chaos, serving the intended
Elgon: We won't have to worry about _them_.
Razor Charlie: (hands Belphanior a sword) Sharp, and magical.
Belphanior: Not Blackrazor, but it'll have to do for now. Thanks. (he
looks around for someone to kill)
The platform was a scene of bloody carnage. Tyros was dead, cut in
half. Lord Mayor Kordigan had been incinerated and was now a charred
black lump. Captain Rorgard was badly burned, but still trying to get
to his feet and fight back. High Wizard Beekus was wounded, but somehow
still alive despite the poison and the bolt sticking out of his shoulder.
High Wizard Beekus: Enough of this. (he begins the spell to teleport
away to safety)
thin grey elf: There shall be none of that. (he snaps his fingers)
High Wizard Beekus: What?!? My spell-
Pallin: Nullified. As you shall soon be.
High Wizard Beekus: But...but...(he draws a wand) I refuse to allow-
wispy thing: (suddenly flutters right in front of the wounded wizard's
High Wizard Beekus: What the hell-
Otto: (having moved around behind the wizard, he stabs him in the lower
High Wizard Beekus: Urk! (he bends over double)
Otto: (calmly slits the man's throat, and grabs the wand)
High Wizard Beekus: (falls in a spreading pool of blood)
Otto: And good riddance. (he nods to Pallin)
Skektek: (not wanting to be left out of the action, he launches a huge
fireball at the main entrance to the royal palace, from which several
dozen guardsmen have just emerged, seemingly unaffected by Elgon's
illusory green dragon since they're charging, weapons brandished) Oh,
I don't think so. (he watches happily as the entire front face of the
palace explodes in brilliant flames, which envelop the entire force of
Elgon: (staggers as the ground trembles) Good shot. My illusion - that
particular sort, anyway - works on those present and facing it when I
cast it, not anyone who comes along later.
Skektek: No sweat, they're all dead now anyway.
Razor Charlie: (spots Prince Creon fleeing, and raises his arm, ready
to throw a knife)
Captain Rorgard: (burned and staggering, he steps in the way, his sword
raised) Run, your Excellency!
Razor Charlie: At least someone around here's got some balls. (he
hurls his blade at the foe)
Captain Rorgard: (stops his painful march, a knife protruding from one
suddenly-ruined eye) Argh! (he falls to his knees, the life fading
from his body) It- it's not fair...(he collapses, dead)
Prince Creon: (rushing down the steps, he meets a score of guardsmen,
who quickly form a protective ring around him and move away)
Belphanior: (moving to pursue the ruler, he finds himself blocked by
guardsman #11: (brandishing an axe, he eyes the elf) Die!
Belphanior: (hefting his sword) Heh.
guardsman #12: (charges, sword swinging in a deadly arc)
Belphanior had a lot of rage to work off, and thanks to Jenna's spell
and the potions he'd imbibed, he was almost back to full strength. The
guardsmen were good - experienced warriors - but they didn't last long.
Belphanior: (standing with a bloody, dripping sword) Well, that was
somewhat anti-climactic. (he looks around for Prince Creon)
Ys: (nearby, he dispatches two more guardsmen with a single swing of
Drak: (having grown to twelve feet in height, he repels three guardsmen
in a messy manner, then turns and looks down at Ys)
hooded figure: (blasts a flying wizard with a black bolt, its acid
melting him in midair) Hah.
Belphanior: How did you people-
hooded figure: (throws back its hood, revealing a familiar face) Now
I admit that we cut it a bit close, but you've got to do these things
Belphanior: Parekh! But how...why-
Parekh: This isn't the time for questions. We need to reclaim your
items before these clowns get themselves organized.
Belphanior: Absolutely. Five gets you ten they're at Tyros' mansion.
Pallin: We can do better than that. (he begins working a spell) I am
about to confer this enchantment upon you. It is called "Seek" and
it allows you to locate any item you own, simply by concentrating on
it in your mind.
Belphanior: Sounds good to me.
Pallin: Yes. (he touches Belphanior's forehead) Now focus on one of
your possessions, preferably something you use often and are familiar
with. Picture it in your mind.
Belphanior: (thinking of Blackrazor) Yes...I'm getting a vision...of
Pallin: (nods, and begins another spell) As we suspected, and we have
already determined its location. We'll be there shortly.
Belphanior: Aren't all these teleport spells wearing you down?
Pallin: I am an archmage and follower of Celestian, he who walks between
the infinite boundaries of all space. Teleport spells do not "wear me
Parekh: (also working a spell, she smirks)
Belphanior: (looking around, he frowns at Otto) Where's Prince Creon?
Otto: He must have slipped away in all the confusion.
Parekh: We can't worry about him right now - your items come first,
Belphanior: (angrily) yeah.
As Pallin teleported the group away from the palace steps, Parekh
left behind a powerful fireball that exploded immediately after the
rescuers and rescued were gone. This blast incinerated everything
within a hundred feet of the would-be execution site, destroying all
corpses and other evidence that might later be used to piece together
Momentarily, Tyros' mansion had some new visitors. There were quite
a few guards, but there were no match for this band of invaders. Sword
and spell combined to destroy anyone who got in their way.
Razor Charlie: (wondering what the group would have done without all
of this magic power in their ranks)
Elgon: (wondering why Belphanior doesn't keep Parekh and Pallin around
Pallin: (to Belphanior) Again...focus on one of your most valued items
and you will be shown the way.
Belphanior: (his brow furrows for a moment) Blackrazor. (he heads down
the hall, then turns and points up a staircase) This way.
Apparently, Tyros hadn't worried about much after Belphanior had been
defeated two nights ago, because the items had been gathered together and
moved to a workroom on the floor below the damaged study. Boxes full of
books were everywhere, and hundreds more were stacked in loose piles
throughout the room. As for Belphanior's possessions, the stout chest
containing them was protected by a powerful glyph, which fell to more
Belphanior: (opens the chest) Ah. (he immediately takes the portable
hole and begins stashing the other items back inside it) Outstanding.
wispy thing: rrrrp.
Belphanior: You said it.
Parekh: (eyeing the assorted books, she walks around briskly, examining
and taking various ones that catch her eye)
Otto: (working with Elgon, he rummages through a nearby desk)
Ys: (he, Drak, and Razor Charlie stand guard)
Belphanior: (realizes that some of his possessions aren't here) What
about things I can't find here? Does your spell help locate those?
Parekh: When you concentrate on them, what do you "see" in your mind?
Belphanior: (thinks for a moment) Nothing.
Parekh: Then they are nowhere within this city. Are these things you
Belphanior: (holds up Blackrazor, then straps it onto his waist) No.
I have the important ones.
Parekh: Good. We should make ourselves scarce...eventually, someone
will figure out where you went and send an organized force to stop
Belphanior: Fine. I'm ready for some blood-
Pallin: (steps forth) My friend, we have rescued you - at significant
risk to ourselves, and in a manner sure to incur the wrath of an entire
kingdom. It may have seemed easy, but we had the element of complete
surprise as well as some very powerful magic to aid us. However, the
playing field will be a bit more even if we remain here to fight any
further battles. No one can fight an entire city. (he looks around)
We must depart. Now is not the time for your revenge.
Parekh: (nods, smiling thinly)
Belphanior: (looks around, at these two wizards and then his own people,
all of whom have somehow worked together to plan his successful escape
from execution in this hostile land) Okay. (he sighs) Okay. Let's
get the hell out of here.
Pallin: Good. (he begins casting a new spell)
Parekh: (also weaving some enchantment)
As the elf worked, and the others prepared to depart, there were all
kinds of sounds from outside...
Otto: Sounds like armored troops.
wispy thing: frrrp.
Skektek: And some wizards, I'd bet. Too bad we can't stay and fight.
Parekh: (completing her spell, she now holds a small, glowing red sphere
in one hand) Those who fight then run away...
Pallin: ...live to fight another day. (he waves his hands, as a bluish
circle of energy appears beneath the adventurers)
When the city guards (their ranks bolstered by a dozen royal magi and
also some high priests) arrived in Tyros' cluttered workroom, they found
guardsman: (points at a small red sphere which spins on the floor)
What the hell is _that_?
royal wizards: (stare at each other) Shit.
The royal force was royally annihilated, as Parekh's little surprise
exploded, enveloping Tyros' mansion in fierce red flames...flames that
burned strongly for an entire hour and didn't yield to water or sand,
ensuring that only ashes remained after the mansion was gone.
next: the ocean voyagers go where no one has gone before
notes: I realize that this might not have been the battle royale that
some people expected or wanted, but you have to remember that Creon and
friends didn't really have any reason to suspect that Belphanior wasn't
all alone (backed up by Belphanior himself thinking he was all alone.)
Plus, logic dictates that any rescue attempt would have been made before
the last possible moment. I think that when you have the aid of two
very powerful wizards (who can watch from afar and take notes and then
work out a plan) a hit-and-run rescue becomes very feasible.
Anyway, I need to revisit the other two groups, and then we'll see
what Belphanior wants to do next.
New spells shown in this episode (rough names and descriptions only,
full details to come at a later time) include
* Seek (Parekh, 6th level) - tells distance and direction to any item
or person concentrated upon; can be used to locate multiple items
within the spell duration; can be used on another person instead of
caster if so desired
* Magicoitus Interruptus (Parekh, 7th level) - a 1-round-duration,
ranged Anti-Magic Shell...think EMP but for magic not electronics;
it nullifies previously cast spells and renders item effects useless
right then and there, though subsequent spells/powers work fine
* Mass Teleport (Pallin, 7th level) - triple the normal cargo load of
a regular Teleport spell (Lyra already has this, and if she could
invent it, Pallin would certainly have mastered it)
* Special Delivery (Parekh, 7th level) (not used in this episode but
she thought about it) - variant of Contingency that makes someone
else (not the caster) the source of the spell, which is triggered by
some condition pre-set by the caster, e.g. cast Special Delivery and
then Fireball on an orc, send it into that unknown but hostile cavern
with the condition that once the orc is attacked, the Fireball goes
off...a nasty example but this is just one use of the spell...one
for this episode would have been Ys enchanted to bear the Magicoitus
Interruptus spell until he raised his axe...I didn't do this because
the bad guys would have surely detected the powerful magical aura on
the hooded executioner.
* Firebomb (Parekh, 8th level) - basically a Delayed Blast Fireball
that burns for an hour, even without fuel, and can't be extinguished
by water, sand, or lack of air
* Teleport Block (Pallin, 8th level) - prevents teleportation in/out
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