Chapter #930

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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       +
+   1991-2006 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        +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+                                                                         +
+   Peldor         20th level human thief                                 +
+   Date:          9/16/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          late morning                                           +
+   Place:         the Free City of Greyhawk                              +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "Did it ever occur to you where people like you would be without      +
+    people like us?"                                                     +
+                 - from _The A-Team_ episode _Semi-Friendly Persuasion_  +

                   CMXXX.  An Unexpected Ally

  After a surprise announcement, a subdued celebration, and some fond
farewells, Razor Charlie has left the group and accompanied Belphanior
to Greyhawk...

Belphanior:  And you're going to just head out on your own now?
Razor Charlie:  (nods)  Yeah.
Belphanior:  Where will you go?  What will you do?
Razor Charlie:  Haven't decided yet.  (he pats the small pouch at his
  side, which is full of gemstones and platinum coins)  Had to guess,
  I'd say I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted.
Belphanior:  I'm glad I could help you set up that account with this
  city's banking vaults.  There's no need to carry every last gold coin
  on your person.
Razor Charlie:  (nods, grimacing)  Don't trust cities or banks, but I
  trust you.  If you say it's okay, I believe it.  And there's no reason
  to keep it all with to sleep sometime, you know?

  Belphanior knew that Charlie would have even more money if he'd sold
some of his magical items (like the bracer of speed or the amulet of
Keogh).  However, the warrior had insisted on keeping those items, at
least for now, citing something about "you never know."

Belphanior:  (nods, and clasps hands with the warrior)  I'm sorry to
  see you go, but it's been fun.  If you ever need anything, we're all
  here for you.  I could be anywhere, but you can contact Peldor or
  Alindyar here in Greyhawk.  They'll know how to find me.
Razor Charlie:  Got it.  (he looks around, at all the splendors that
  Greyhawk has to offer)  Time to live it up.

  The lean, grizzled knife-thrower nodded a final time to Belphanior,
then turned and vanished into the marketplace crowd.  The elf watched
him go, dismayed to lose a reliable ally yet happy that the man was
going to stop fighting and enjoy life for a change.  Belphanior himself
craved such peace, yet it was not in his nature - at least not at this
point in his life.  He still had things to or two of which now
awaited him here in the Free City.

  A short time later, the elf was sitting in a plush chair in the private
office of Sental Nurev, the Captain-General of the Watch.  This was in
itself a great irony considering that Sental had antagonized Belphanior
repeatedly over the years, making his trips to Greyhawk unpleasant and
often problematic.  Of course, all of that had changed recently.

Sental:  I still don't have the words.
Belphanior:  Most people usually say "thanks" in a situation like this.
Sental:  Well, you certainly have my thanks.  I had feared my brother
  Sarek lost...lost to the fiends in the Bandit Kingdoms, never to be
  seen again.
Belphanior:  He is lost no more.  All it took was a carefully-planned,
  well-executed rescue mission.

  The elf didn't bother to mention that he had stumbled onto the location
and nature of Sarek's captivity while perusing the vampiress Drusilla's
journals.  There was no need to let Sental know any of the details of how
Belphanior had accomplished what he had; the less anyone knew about his
sources and methods, the better.

Sental:  I tried, you know.  I did my best to arrange a rescue mission,
  completely independent of my official position here in Greyhawk, and
  completely unknown to any officials.
Belphanior:  What happened?
Sental:  It failed, and I never again heard from any of those I hired.
  It also damn near broke my life savings.
Belphanior:  You're lucky the kidnappers didn't respond by sending you
  one of your brother's fingers...or something else.
Sental:  (shudders)  All I can say is that I thank you, and Sarek thanks
  you, and his family thanks you.
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  Is he safe and sound now?
Sental:  He is, and he's a Greyhawk resident now, never to fear kidnap
  again, I've seen to that.  (he frowns)  I must say, I don't quite grasp
  the reason _why_ you did this...
Belphanior:  That's what I'm here to talk about now.
Sental:  (puts his head in his hands)
Belphanior:  You and I both know that those agents in the Bandit Kingdoms
  were blackmailing the hell out of you...stealing city secrets in return
  for Sarek's continued well-being.
Sental:  Here it comes...some other kind of blackmail, in trade for the
  first.  It really never ends, does it?
Belphanior:  Actually, it does.
Sental:  (looks up, genuinely surprised)  What?
Belphanior:  I don't actually want anything from money, no power,
  no information.
Sental:  You don't?  Why not?
Belphanior:  Because my agenda doesn't include Greyhawk or its residents.
  It never did.
Sental:  Oh.
Belphanior:  See, that's what you always failed to understand, all those
  times you made life difficult for me here.  A small incident and some
  personal affront - barely legitimate, I might add - have blown out of
  proportion in your mind.  You thought I was some great evil enemy, when
  all I really wanted was to be left alone to do my business.
Sental:  (speechless)
Belphanior:  So now I'm here to tell you, Sental Nurev, Captain-General
  and Oligarch of Greyhawk:  all I want is for you to realize that I am
  not your enemy, and for you treat me accordingly.  You and your brother
  have gotten a second chance, at no cost to you - I suggest you use it.
Sental:  Uh...
Belphanior:  You need not worry about your dark little secret - I don't
  truthfully care.  Just do the right thing from this point forward, and
  the past is the past.  Are we agreed?
Sental:  Y- yes.  Yes!  (he shakes his head)  I have misjudged you.
Belphanior:  A lot of people do, and most of them are dead.  (he frowns)
  Which reminds me:  don't entertain any thoughts of having me killed, to
  silence my knowledge forever.  I had help when I sprung your brother,
  and they know who he is and who you are.
Sental:  I never would have considered-
Belphanior:  (spreads his hands)  I'm sure, but I'd have warned anybody,
  just the same.
Sental:  You have my thanks, and my apologies for the past.  I didn't
  agree with your behavior and methods over these many years, but there
  is no denying their results.
Belphanior:  Spoken like a true politician.  (he stands)  Just remember,
  people like you will always need people like me to do the dirty work.
Sental:  Quite true.  I won't offer my hand, because I'm not sure you'd
  take it, but I swear that your troubles in Greyhawk are over.
Belphanior:  Glad to hear it.  (he turns and walks out of the room)
Sental:  (sits, not quite sure what to think of this inexplicable gift
  he's been given)

  Belphanior left the offices of the Captain-General - offices that, up
until now, he'd never expected to see unless taken there as a prisoner.
Nonetheless, the elf was pleased with the way the rescue mission had
gone...and he was pleased with the results.  A lot of people wouldn't
have been as charitable as he'd been, going to the trouble to rescue
someone and then give them away for free.  However, Belphanior believed
in the power of occasional random gifts, and he figured that it was
easier to try and buy Sental's cooperation this way than to simply kill
the man at some point.  If it worked out, fine; if not, nothing was
really lost.  Of course, if it didn't work out, then there would be some
conflict with Greyhawk.  Should things come to that, Belphanior would make
damn sure that Sental paid the price.  He saw to that shortly, as he had
a quick, private lunch with Peldor at the Green Dragon Inn.

Belphanior:  I'm not telling you all this so that you can get him bumped
  out of the Oligarchy.  I'm doing it in case he turns on me after the
  show of charity I made.
Peldor:  Understood.  Sental's not a bad guy, he just lives his life by
  rules.  I honestly think he's always tried to do the right thing for
  Greyhawk, and I agree with you that there's no need to ruin his career
  by exposing his blackmail.
Belphanior:  (nods)  Good.  I guess I only have one thing left to do
  while I'm here, then.
Peldor:  What's that?
Belphanior:  I need to see someone in the Guild of Wizardry about some
  magic items I've picked up here and there.

next:       some mysteries revealed
released:   7/28/06
notes:      The previous episode (and this one, and the next one) are
  all filler, basically, while I decide what big, bad mission the elf
  will undertake next.

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