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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 +
+ 1991-2006 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 +
+ Elgon 8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+ Jenna 9th level human female priestess of Istus +
+ Mongo 19th level dwarven warrior +
+ Otto 10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief +
+ Razor Charlie 11th level human fighter +
+ Skektek 13th level human wizard +
+ wispy thing strange, intangible sentient being +
+ Ys 14th level reptilian fighter +
+ Parekh 18th level human female wizard +
+ Drak 14th level human barbarian warrior +
+ Neera 11th level human female sage/astrologer +
+ Pallin 17th level grey elven wizard of Celestian +
+ Date: 8/22/580 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: midday +
+ Place: Parekh's home (exact location unknown) +
+ Climate: cool +
+ "It has fallen upon me, now and again in my sojourns through +
+ the world, to ease various evil men of their lives." +
+ - Solomon Kane, from _The Castle of the Devil_ +
CMXI. Death of a Tyrant
Two days have passed since Belphanior's deadly assault on the city
of Monmurg, capital of the Hold of the Sea Princes. There are a number
of possible repercussions, some of which may not even be known yet...
but one loose end is about to be tied up.
Belphanior: Wake up.
Prince Creon: (slowly awakens, groggy)
They were in a small room with no windows, in a place where they
couldn't be tracked or found. The former ruler of Monmurg was tied
to a chair, his arms bound behind his back. He had been unconscious
for more than a day, kept that way intentionally by magical means.
At long last, Belphanior had decided it was time to rouse the prisoner
and have words with him.
Belphanior: Your Royal Highness, Prince Creon of Monmurg...Ruler of
the Azure Sea, Captain of all Fleets, and so on and so forth, blah
blah blah- (he kicks the man's chair, almost knocking him over) It
was fun while it lasted, eh?
Prince Creon: How dare you?!? (he struggles to break free of the ropes
which bind him, but to no avail) What gives you the right to address
Belphanior: Well, you're tied up and I'm not, so there's one reason.
Prince Creon: You're nothing...just a wanderer, a murderer, a commoner.
Belphanior: I came through your kingdom once, several years ago...it
was Westkeep, to be specific. That day, I freed a thousand slaves,
and in doing so, also inflicted a substantial amount of casualties and
property damage. A small party of powerful, motivated individuals was
sent after me, and they all met their doom as well.
Prince Creon: (sulks silently)
Belphanior: And then, while minding my own business, I ended up in
custody, as you no doubt remember...and was sentenced to death via
mock trial. But I got rescued, and in the process took out a bunch
of your high-ranking officials. Tyros, the mayor, the high wizard...
all dead on that fateful day.
Prince Creon: (looks devastated)
Belphanior: And it's all your fault...you, and all those who think
that it's okay to capture and enslave other people. Still, I might
have let it go after I escaped, except for two things. First, when
I was in your dungeons, an old slave told me that everything I did
in Westkeep made a difference...to him and many other slaves.
Prince Creon: (spits on the floor) Nonsense. It is our right, and
always has been, to ensure slavery-
Belphanior: And that's why you and all those like you have to be taken
down - to make the world a better place. As for the other reason for
my attack on Monmurg...I warned you, when my head was on the chopping
block, that I'd get my revenge. (he smiles thinly) And now, Monmurg
lies in ruins. I destroyed its armories, its temples, its government
buildings. I slew most of its city guards and crippled its greatest
military asset - its seaborne fleet. I emptied its vaults and then
collapsed them with an earthquake...which, I might add, appears to
have caved in quite a few other parts of the city.
Prince Creon: Monmurg will never fall! The Sea Princes cannot be
defeated so easily-
Belphanior: (ignores him) And now you're here, in custody.
Prince Creon: Custody of whom? By what authority? (he sticks his
chin out defiantly) You're nothing more than a terrorist! Ransoming
me will never work - the Prince of Toli, the Plar of Hool, the Grandee
of Westkeep, the Commodores of Flotsom and Jetsom...none of them will
negotiate with you.
Belphanior: That's a good list of names. Thanks.
Prince Creon: Such a list will do you no good, since they won't give
in to any demands you make.
Belphanior: I'm not looking at them as political contacts - I'm looking
at them as targets.
Prince Creon: (frowns) Oh.
Belphanior: Well, this conversation is about over.
Prince Creon: (flinches) What now? Torture?
Belphanior: No. That's not my style, and honestly, I doubt you'd have
much information that we didn't already know, or that is even relevant
now given the destruction of much of Monmurg.
Prince Creon: Bah.
Belphanior: What surprises me, to be honest, is that you have no real
skill or power...nothing special that explains how you came to rule
in Monmurg. You're not a veteran warrior, or a secret wizard, or even
a master thief. You're just a guy whose brother happened to be the
king, so you killed him and took his throne by virtue of your royal
Prince Creon: (grimaces, saying nothing)
Belphanior: Still, you're dangerous in your own way, or at least you
were...and it's always been my personal philosophy never to let an
enemy live. (he draws his sword) I'll make this quick, which is
better than you deserve.
Prince Creon: (pales)
Belphanior: (stabs the other through the heart, his black blade drinking
the dying man's soul)
Prince Creon: (gasping, he dies)
Belphanior: And so it ends.
The elf left the room, using a door that was nondescript to the point
of being concealed. Outside the room - whose walls, floor, ceiling, and
door were specially-lined and shielded - several others waited.
Belphanior: It's done.
Parekh: (sighs) Just because I constructed a room like this doesn't
mean I ever wanted to have to use it.
Belphanior: (shrugs) It had to be done, and I did it. He didn't get
tortured, or suffer. And we already got the information we needed out
of him via ESP magic.
Otto: Any enemy you let live is someone who will someday point a knife
at you, or aim a crossbow at you. Once someone makes it clear that
they intend to do you harm, the only sane response is to beat them to
Parekh: I don't need to be lectured on this - I'm no Circle of Eight
member, you know.
Otto: Okay, sorry.
Drak: What do you want to do with the body?
Belphanior: It needs to be destroyed, beyond any trace of recognition
or any means of location.
Pallin: I can handle that.
Drak: (to Belphanior) You did the right thing.
Belphanior: Oh, I know.
Belphanior and Otto had joined Parekh (plus Drak and Pallin) for a
post-attack conference. The rest of Belphanior's team (and Mongo) were
resting in another section of Parekh's home, while Neera was busy
researching the magical items gained from Monmurg's vault. In truth,
there hadn't been many such items, as the vault had mainly been for
hoarding material riches such as coins and gemstones. Still, the few
magical treasures were enough to occupy the ever-curious sage. As for
Alindyar and Lyra, they had departed immediately following the Monmurg
attack, claiming to be tired of battle and kingdom-challenging ventures.
Belphanior: So you've been checking in on Monmurg after our visit there?
Parekh: Yes. The city's still in shambles; the earthquake you had Mongo
create did a lot of damage, more than we initially thought.
Parekh: In addition to collapsing the armory and the entire city block
around it, the tremors apparently collapsed most of Monmurg's sewer
system as well...which in turn caused a number of buildings or streets
above those pipes to cave in.
Belphanior: I was just wondering how many innocent citizens of that
city died in the attack or its aftermath.
Otto: There are no innocent citizens. People who support something bad
by not doing anything or moving elsewhere are guilty, remember? We
talked about this.
Parekh: You did, but we didn't. Even if all bystanders in Monmurg were
considered guilty by association, that doesn't apply to the children
Belphanior: (nods sadly) True...
Otto: Look. Ideally, the way to do this would have been to issue some
kind of all-points warning to every single resident of Monmurg, letting
them know that slavery was being abolished and that if they chose to
remain there, they risked property damage or death. But...that's not
a strategically sound move, since they'd just know we were going to
attack. Plus, the real leaders would almost certainly get away.
Belphanior: We can improve upon these things next time.
Parekh: Next time?
Pallin: (frowns, his eyes widening)
Belphanior: Next time, as in Toli, Hool, Westkeep, Flotsom, Jetsom, and
all the other centers of the Sea Princes' civilization.
Parekh: You mean to say...you're not done?
Belphanior: Not by a long shot.
Otto: You can't step on an anthill and just leave. The ants will just
go somewhere else and build another anthill.
Belphanior: Or in this case, we've destroyed one anthill, but a dozen
Drak: I'd call them termites, actually...or maybe even worms.
Otto: (shrugs) Scum is scum, no matter how many legs it has.
Parekh: (sighs) Out of curiosity, how many "non-innocent" men, women
and children will die in this lengthy campaign?
Belphanior: (somewhat confused) As few as possible. Why? (his eyes
narrow) You weren't expecting us to succeed as well as we did! None
of you really thought we could pull it off and cause that much damage,
Pallin: (clearly worried, he exchanges glances with Parekh)
Drak: (suddenly wishing he was elsewhere)
Belphanior: Well? I'm not hearing any answers.
Pallin: What you did is genuinely impressive; it's not every day that
one person takes on a kingdom and wins. But it's also a dangerous
precedent, even for kingdoms that were unaffected by what you did.
Parekh: From this day forward, you'll be under threat of death when you
least expect it, possibly from a direction you fail to anticipate.
That's no way to live your life! You can't ever settle down or stop
looking over your shoulder.
Belphanior: (shrugs, untroubled) The situation you describe is no
different from the last few years. It's not your style, but I can
live with it, and I do.
Pallin: Yes...but that no longer matters.
Belphanior: Why not?
Parekh: Because there isn't going to be a "next time".
Belphanior: (caught off-guard) Come again?
Pallin: (makes the slightest of gestures)
Parekh: We're not going to help you attack any more cities.
Belphanior: You're not? (he suddenly realizes that something is amiss,
and glances to his left) Otto?
The dwarf was unnaturally stiff and unmoving, with his eyes, mouth,
and arms all in positions that could not have been maintained normally.
In a single motion, Belphanior drew his sword and spun around, instantly
arriving at the only possible conclusion.
Belphanior: (glaring at Pallin, but keeping Parekh and Drak in his
field of view) What the fuck have you done to him?!?
notes: Originally, I planned to have episode 911 be the return to
the lost continent and those there, but I decided it was best to wrap
this arc up (at least for now) right after the big battle. Then again,
I'd hate to leave you with a cliffhanger like this, so let's say 912
will be the last Belphanior episode for a while.
previous chapter (#910)
next chapter (#912)