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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 +
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+ 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 +
+ Neera 11th level human female sage/astrologer +
+ Otto 10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief +
+ Skektek 13th level human wizard +
+ wispy thing strange, intangible sentient being +
+ Ys 14th level reptilian fighter +
+ Mongo 19th level dwarven warrior +
+ Date: 10/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: late morning +
+ Place: an abandoned complex deep within the Pelisso Swamp +
+ Climate: cool +
+ "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his +
+ hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." +
+ - Henry Louis Mencken +
CMXL. Lethal Enforcement
A week has passed since Neera officially joined Belphanior's group,
fully prepared to take part in the elf's various adventures and quests.
This somewhat offset the sudden departure, due to retirement, of Razor
Charlie. Mongo, too, is currently still allied with the elf.
Mongo: What now?
Belphanior: I _was_ going to put together a plan of attack against the
mummy king, Al-arakara, but I've come upon a lead that's too good to
Skektek: This ought to be good.
Belphanior: It is. Our friends the Sea Princes are at it again.
Otto: How's that?
Belphanior: They've set up a new slaving operations center, in a remote
region of the Hold. I suppose their idea is that anyone who's paying
attention will see the other such locations lessen or cease slaving
activities, and assume that those are shutting down...without knowing
about the new one.
Neera: How did you find this out?
Jenna: Magic? Scrying?
Belphanior: Actually, I did it the old-fashioned way: prolonged, well-
planned, and carefully-executed espionage. For some time now, I've
been setting up various connections in the Hold...using several false
identities and complex paths of communication, I've built a network of
informants to help me keep up with various activities in that kingdom.
(he smirks) Though I will confess that I did utilize a bit of magic,
here and there, to bolster my other efforts.
Elgon: Magic or not, those are some damn good informants, if you found
out all that.
Belphanior: I didn't get the whole picture at once - I got bits and
pieces, and then put it all together.
Ys: Indeed, it was never very clear to me...whether these Sea Princes
had actually ceased their slaving ways, as your ultimatum dictated.
(he nods to the elf) So, they have not?
Belphanior: No, they haven't. Monmurg stopped doing it, though I think
that was as much a practical issue as a moral one.
Skektek: Yeah, because we decimated that city.
Belphanior: Whatever's happening in Monmurg, the other members of the
hold aren't all playing along. (he spreads his hands) They've been
told to stop, but some are proceeding on their own anyway. It seems
that our message to them wasn't fully received and understood.
Mongo: Well, we just need to send another message...a louder one.
Skektek: (grins) Yeah.
Belphanior: I was hoping you'd see it my way. (he lays a crude paper
map down on the table) Behold: Ganarec.
wispy thing: (descends to the table level, eyeing the details of the
Belphanior: Right. (he taps the map with a finger) It's a small town
on the western shore of the Jerlea Bay, a week's ride south and a bit
west of the city of Hokar, as you can see. (he taps the map again)
They've built the place right here, where the land forms a natural
inlet for the waters of the bay. The town's not on any official map,
but someday it will be - it's quickly and quietly been built up and
fortified by certain powers among the Hold's governing bodies. The
seaborne traffic there is slowly increasing, and not all of those
ships have been heading north. (he points to the part of his map that
depicts the Amedio Jungle)
Ys: It sounds as if those governing bodies are ignoring all mandates
from the capital, and instead proceeding on their own.
Belphanior: I don't care if they ignore Monmurg, but they won't ignore
me. (he looks up) I believe this town, this Ganarec, is the forefront
of their future plans. They thrive on slavery, and as we saw from our
assault on their fort in the Amedio Jungle, the most efficient way to
stop slavery is at the source. This town seems to represent the next
closest thing to the source, as far as we know.
Skektek: So let's eliminate it.
They wasted little time; Belphanior's companions had become used to
preparing and deploying rapidly, with short notice. By midday, they
were in the skyship, sailing through the clouds far above the world's
surface...on a direct heading for the unknown, hostile town of Ganarec.
Mongo: (wiping sweat from his brow, he glares at Belphanior) The only
downside to most of your plans is that we have to use this ship to
get where we're going. You know how I get when my feet aren't on
Belphanior: (shrugs) I'm sorry for that, but there's no other way. I
haven't had time to scout the target area in person, so I can't quite
teleport us there. (he frowns) Though after we're done, there won't
ever again be a need to venture there, by any means.
Mongo: Still...I feel sick. And weak.
Neera: That can be fixed, you know.
Neera: I've been thinking about this for a while. Your earth-bound
items - especially the belt - are the source of much strength, and
also much weakness.
Mongo: Not much weakness - just some dizziness-
Neera: That belt is tied to the rock and stone of Oerth, in a raw and
elemental way. You don't need to downplay that fact.
Neera: Anyway, my idea is this: if you're ill while airborne, and the
belt is making you ill...then just take it off.
Neera: (gestures to the clouds around them) No one's going to attack
us up here. You don't need your strength. Give the belt a rest, and
Mongo: (looking around wildly) But...what if...?
Neera: Keep it close at hand, if it makes you feel better. I'm just
saying that removing it might ease your discomfort.
Mongo: (wanders away, muttering to himself)
Belphanior: A simple solution, and right before our eyes all this time.
Belphanior: I wonder if he'll take it off?
Neera: He might. (she glances at the dwarf, who is heading down into
the skyship's hold) It's not as easy as it seems, you know. That belt
communicates with him on some primal level; it won't be pleased with
its removal. Also, while removing the belt will help, Mongo still has
it in close proximity, as he's still the "owner"...so he may be a bit
ill no matter what.
Belphanior: Is the belt sentient?
Neera: Not that I can tell - and I've done some research on it, in the
recent months when I had so much spare time. (she smiles at him) My
spare time is at a minimum now.
Neera: Anyway, the belt won't talk to him or anything like that, but
it does have preferences, of a sort...and it will convey those to him
via simple empathy. He might even get angry.
Belphanior: Anger, I can use. When he gets angry, he levels buildings
and sinks ships.
Neera: (nods) He may be the perfect fighting unit...or one person with
the might of an entire fighting unit, at any rate.
Belphanior: (frowns) He's also my friend. I'd worry more about him,
with respect to the risks we all face in these missions, except that
he's practically invulnerable.
Neera: As Parekh might put it, the ultimate ground soldier.
They flew onward, piloting the skyship in shifts; aside from Belphanior
himself, only Otto and Ys had ever expressed any interest in learning how
to pilot the wondrous vessel. Since they were headed almost due west,
with no mountain ranges in the way, they stayed underway constantly, all
day and all night. Belphanior made sure that whoever was at the helm had
someone else - anyone else - there to talk to them and help keep them
alert. No piloting shift lasted longer than four hours; in this way,
the monotony never grew to be too great. Staring at an endless expanse
of clouds - especially at night, when there was nothing visible - was a
very compelling cure for insomnia.
Belphanior had estimated the journey to take four days, assuming a
high (but not maximum) rate of speed and no rest breaks. Fortunately,
with three willing pilots and the others to attend to other necessary
tasks, this was enough crew to make the trip possible. Things did get
interesting while the skyship was over the vast reaches of the Azure
Sea, though - they had to fly over, around, or through several storms.
While things got shaky, and sometimes tense, the skyship had been built
by powerful magic, and it moved through the storm systems without any
The afternoon of the fourth day found them nearing a coastline, which
Belphanior's maps and charts indicated to be the western edge of the
Jerlea Bay. It wasn't long before the skyship hovered far, far above
the coastal town of Ganarec.
Belphanior: (standing at the rail, he looks down at the distant land-
mass, wondering why he hasn't yet bothered to procure himself some sort
of magical eyepiece or telescope)
Mongo: (impatiently) What now?
Skektek: Time to drop something heavy, or flammable?
Otto: Or both...?
Belphanior: (shakes his head) No. There could well be slaves in that
town, or in its boats. We need to try and keep the collateral damage
to a minimum. We'll scout first, and attack only after we have a much
better idea about what's down there, and how it's laid out.
next: blood is shed
notes: Time for some more bad-ass battle scenes and punishment of
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next chapter (#941)