Chapter #919

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
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+     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              +
+   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                           +
+                                                                         +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   Peldor         20th level human thief                                 +
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+   Date:          9/1/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         the skies over the Free City of Greyhawk               +
+   Climate:       cool and windy                                         +
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+   "Did you win or lose your battles?"                                   +
+   "A little of both...and not enough of either."                        +
+                            - from _Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter_      +
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                   CMXIX.  Clandestine Return





  Roughly a week has passed since the group's strike on Monmurg, and
associated events.  Belphanior and the others are far from that place,
having made their way back to the vicinity of the Free City of Greyhawk.

Mongo:  (looking over the ship's rail at the ground far below)  I can't
  take it anymore - we need to get down, and soon!
Belphanior:  We're going, don't worry.
Mongo:  I know you would have made better time to Greyhawk if we hadn't
  had to stop so much, but you know how I get...upset when my feet aren't
  firmly planted on solid land.
Belphanior:  (nods)  We'll be down there momentarily.
Otto:  You need to be careful in Greyhawk - remember, you're a known and
  wanted person now.  Not just here, but in most civilized lands in the
  Flanaess.
Belphanior:  (sighs)  Yeah.
Jenna:  (scrutinizing the elf oddly)  The webs of fate are ever more
  complex around you now.
Belphanior:  Meaning...what?
Jenna:  Only Istus herself can say, but caution is definitely called for
  in the city below.
Belphanior:  Agreed.  This won't take long.  It'll just be me and Mongo.
  I have the hat of disguise, and if my plan works properly, I'll be able
  to return it to Peldor and still walk out of the city.
Skektek:  I still don't see why we're not making further attacks against
  the Sea Princes.
Otto:  What do you mean?
Skektek:  Just the other day, there was talk of hitting them again...in
  some other place, perhaps another major city, or their base in the
  Amedio Jungle where they get the slaves and export them.  And now...
  nothing.  No one wants to strike right when it would do the most good,
  while the time is ripe!  (he pumps a fist in the air)
Belphanior:  There's no need to attack again, and I'll give you not one
  but _two_ reasons why.  First, they've been issued a warning, a serious
  warning at that.  I'm giving them a chance, so we'll see if they take
  it.  Did you know that several nearby kingdoms - among them Keoland and
  the Yeomanry - have moved in and taken steps to work with the new
  leadership of Monmurg, to remove the institution of slavery?  We paved
  the way with violence, but now diplomacy is working toward the same
  goal.
Skektek:  Uh...no, I didn't know that.
Ys:  Most interesting.
Belphanior:  I hope no one thought that we were just going to slowly,
  efficiently wipe out every major city of the Sea Princes?  This isn't
  about destruction, or rulership.  It's about abolishing slavery in
  those lands.  While it's too early to tell for sure, things are most
  certainly looking up.  We need to step back and see what happens next.
Skektek:  (grumbling)  Well, I'm sure it won't be long before we find
  someone else to blast into dust.
Elgon:  What's the second reason we don't need to strike again?  Just
  out of curiosity, mind you.
Belphanior:  The other reason...is that we have several urgent missions
  to attend to.  I've been letting loose ends pile up for far too long,
  and after I attend to business in Greyhawk, we've got work to do.
Mongo:  And here's another reason:  I want off of this boat now!  (he
  paces angrily)  I could just jump, and float down to the ground below,
  but that'd take too long.  (he points to Belphanior)  Use your magic,
  now.  I'm sick and tired of waiting.
Belphanior:  Very well.  (he begins spellcasting)

  Shortly, the elf and the dwarf were gone, teleported to the ground
far below.  The others remained aboard the skyship, discussing various
things...

Skektek:  Mongo's awful touchy lately.
Otto:  That's for sure.  Then again, we can't possibly know what it's
  like to have multiple powerful magical items all trying to influence
  you.
Jenna:  There is great turmoil in that dwarf...and great anger, barely
  held in check.
Skektek:  I'm telling you, he wasn't like this in the past.
Otto:  (thinking about the strength belt, and previous discussions of
  its possible effects on Mongo's behavior)  Hmm.
Ys:  Mongo also has great strength.  I am twice his size, yet I cannot
  smash a small house to bits with a single blow.
Otto:  Don't think like that.  Mongo may have the raw power, but in an
  anti-magic zone, he's just a dwarf in lots of armor, while you still
  have all of your strength.
Ys:  (nods)  Well-put.
Razor Charlie:  (dozing off as he sits, resting against a mast)
wispy thing:  (slowly flitting around the warrior's head)  nrrrf.
Skektek:  (to Otto)  What do you think is coming next?  Are we going
  back to the gateways, to deal with the enemies in some of them?  That
  mummy king in particular is troublesome.
Otto:  Probably...maybe.  I think Belphanior wants to take care of some
  other matter first.

  Meanwhile, far below, the elf and Mongo had made landfall and were
headed toward the gates of Greyhawk.

Mongo:  So what, you just use your teleportation magic to go to and from
  the sky-ship?
Belphanior:  Yeah.  It's not the sort of thing you can land, really.
  The ship really comes in handy - it sure beats marching, riding, or
  any other means of getting from place to place - but I will say that
  the constant teleporting up and down tends to wear me out.
Mongo:  (nods)  It makes me queasy, I'll admit it...but now that I'm on
  solid land, I feel a whole lot better!
Belphanior:  Good.
Mongo:  I guess teleporting right into the city is out of the question?
Belphanior:  (nods)  I've considered it in the past, but I never arrived
  that way - with all the magi in this city, it's too risky...especially
  right now.
Mongo:  (shrugs)  No big deal - we'll just walk in like regular people.
Belphanior:  (eyes the city gates ahead)  Yeah.

  Shortly, a certain Guildmaster (and inn owner) had two unexpected
guests...

Peldor:  Mongo!  And...?  (he stares at the nondescript man who walked
  in with the dwarf)  Pleased to meet you...?
Belphanior:  I'm nobody, really...just someone you loaned a hat to.
Peldor:  Oh.  (he frowns)  Holy...!  (he ushers both of them into a back
  room, a plush office far removed from the operational part of the inn)
Mongo:  What's with all the fuss?
Peldor:  He's wanted in some kingdoms - there's probably a price on his
  head!  (he frowns)  Well, a much _higher_ price than before, anyway.
Belphanior:  (abruptly reverts to his normal appearance, and hands the
  hat of disguise to the thief)  My thanks.  It came in handy.
Peldor:  It appears so, from what I've heard.  So you actually pulled it
  off...
Mongo:  We did, and we'd do it again if we had to.  Those slave-keeping
  people have got to learn.
Belphanior:  We did it...Monmurg was pretty much decimated, as a message
  to the rest of them.  What happens next is up to them.
Peldor:  I don't know if you've heard, but other kingdoms are taking
  advantage of the power vacuum and the confusion in Monmurg...they're
  stepping in and ensuring that the right thing happens next.
Belphanior:  Good, because that means that I made my point.
Peldor:  This is the biggest thing to happen in Oerik in a long time.
  People everywhere are talking about it.  The only problem is that now
  you're a target in the eyes of those who lost something due to the
  Monmurg incident.
Belphanior:  I've been a target before, you know.
Peldor:  But not like this.  There will be countless people from the Sea
  Princes coming after you, seeking some sort of revenge.
Belphanior:  (pats his sword's pommel and smiles thinly)  That's fine.
  Blackrazor's appetite knows no bounds.
Peldor:  I'm just saying that you need to watch yourself.
Belphanior:  Doubtful.  I'm about to embark on a series of adventures to
  some of the most dangerous places in the world.  If any vengeful fools
  want to follow me there, it just increases their odds of never coming
  back.
Peldor:  Oh.
Mongo:  (trying to change the subject)  Where's Alindyar, anyway?
Peldor:  (shrugs)  No idea.  We haven't seen him or Lyra in more than a
  week.
Mongo:  I know.  Neither have we.
Belphanior:  (frowns)  That's odd.
Peldor:  You don't need to be worrying about those two - you need to be
  worrying about yourself!  It won't be long before people track you down
  by one method or another, wherever you might be.
Belphanior:  Actually, I was hoping I could convince you to help me with
  that.
Peldor:  Uh-oh.
Belphanior:  Relax.  I just want to borrow another magic item until this
  all blows over.
Peldor:  Eh?
Belphanior:  You possess a necklace, a minor artifact whose sole power
  is that it shields you from all means of detection.
Peldor:  The necklace of obscurity?  Yep, I still have that.  (he eyes
  the elf)  I'm guessing you want to borrow it?
Belphanior:  (nods)  In return, I'll compensate you well.
Peldor:  Money is useless to me - I have more than I can ever spend.  I
  only recently realized that.
Belphanior:  Magic items.  I'll give you several, as payment for loaning
  me the necklace for a while.
Mongo:  Like renting?
Belphanior:  Exactly.
Peldor:  Well, I-
Belphanior:  (begins removing items from his pack)  Here's an enchanted
  dagger...a robe for wizards, which you can surely barter for yet more
  magical items...a mace which protects its wielder from evil...and this
  ring, which allows the wearer to levitate into the air.  I've had all
  of these for years, and never had a chance to use them, so I'm offering
  them now for barter.
Peldor:  You don't have to pay me to borrow something of mine, you know.
Belphanior:  Sure I do.  (he pushes the items across the table)  Will
  you accept the deal?
Peldor:  If you insist.  Let me get the necklace.  (he stands and leaves
  the room, already thinking about the things he can get from the Guild
  of Wizardry in exchange for that robe)

  Before long, the deal was done, and Belphanior wore the powerful
necklace...

Belphanior:  We've got to go now.
Peldor:  Well, technically, you don't, because no one can find you.
Belphanior:  But I'm not in disguise anymore, so anybody can recognize
  me.  (he holds up a hand)  I'm not asking to borrow the hat again.  I
  made other plans.  (he holds up a small pouch)  Sometimes the old ways
  are the best.
Peldor:  (nods, and walks over to a drawer, retrieving a small mirror)
  You can use this, and have a seat at that table.  Mongo and I will
  catch up on old times.
Mongo:  What's going on?
Peldor:  One of the oldest tricks in the thieves' profession:  simple
  disguise, using paints, oils, and so on.  In a short time, he won't
  even resemble himself...and you two will walk out of here and then
  out of the city.
Mongo:  And then teleport back up to the sky-ship.
Peldor:  I guess so.

  It wasn't long before Belphanior - with the help of his disguise-kit,
a wig, and a different-colored cloak - didn't resemble an elf at all.
He and Mongo said their farewells and left the inn, headed out to their
next adventure, which was sure to be both fantastic and dangerous.

Peldor:  (standing in the inn, his arms crossed)  Whew.





next:       the next mission begins
gateways:   http://www.peldor.com/misc/gateways.php?chapter=919
ftp:        ftp.peldor.com
www:        http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:   http://www.peldor.com/
email:      tmiller@peldor.com
released:   5/12/06
notes:      About two-thirds of the way through this episode, I had to
  take several weeks off due to a death of a parent.  My advice about
  that is this:  make sure that your parents have their affairs sorted
  out and a will in place.  Actually, the same advice should apply to
  you too, just in case.  After the initial grief, there's a period of
  slogging through financial and legal red tape; words cannot describe
  how complicated this part is.  It's like a double whammy, first the
  grief and then the delay/stalling/bureaucracy.
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