Chapter #947

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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              +
+   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                             +
+   Parekh         18th level human female wizard                         +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Date:          11/1/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          midday                                                 +
+   Place:         Parekh's home (exact location unknown)                 +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "To become the victor, one must first be victorious over oneself."    +
+                                          - from _Kill and Kill Again_   +

                   CMXLVII.  Streamlining

  When all was said and done, it had taken the magi - Belphanior, Parekh,
and Neera - a full week to do their research, conduct their tests, and
refine their results.

Belphanior:  (to the assembled group)  Good news, people:  we've found a
  way to cloak ourselves against detection magic.
Skektek:  (somewhat dubious)  Is that possible?
Parekh:  Absolutely.  The necklace that Belphanior carries was definite
Belphanior:  (fingering the item)  Well, it's not really mine, but that's
  beside the point...
Neera:  All we had to do was figure out how and why it worked, and then
  reverse-engineer it using our own magic.  It was fairly simple, really,
  once we had the conceptual blueprint-
Skektek:  Okay, okay, I believe you.
Elgon:  So what exactly are we talking about here?
Belphanior:  (reaches into a mithril box and produces ten rings)  For
  all intents and purposes, these render the wearer undetectable by any
  magical means.
Otto:  Define "for all intents and purposes".
Belphanior:  (sighs)  Well, we couldn't match the power level of the
  original necklace, but we came pretty close.  The necklace might be
  proof against even some gods' powers, while these rings won't.  But
  they're close enough for our purposes, which is to keep the damned
  Sea Princes - or any other foes we might have or make - from finding
  us with their spells.
Otto:  Mm, I see.
Parekh:  Be aware that this is a double-edged sword, in that if you all
  wear these, benevolent wizards like me won't be able to find you with
  magic, either.
Neera:  Not to mention that you'd have to wear the rings at all times
  and all hours of the day to assure complete undetectability.
Mongo:  That could be tough...
Belphanior:  That's why we chose rings for this.  I do realize that some
  of you already wear magical rings, and would have to stop wearing one
  of them, but it's essential that we keep enemies off our backs for a
  while.  I hope you understand.

  For some of the group (Ys, Elgon, Jenna) this wouldn't be a problem.
Others would have to stop wearing (and thus lose the full-time powers
or protections of) a ring they were used to wearing.  In Belphanior's
case, this meant his ring of portal opening, though he wouldn't have to
deal with that right now since he still had Peldor's original necklace.
In Otto's case, it meant a ring of protection or else his prized ring
of regeneration - not a good choice, any way he looked at it.  Skektek,
too, had a difficult choice, for he currently wore his thunder ring as
well as a ring of protection.

Skektek:  This is going to suck.
Mongo:  (thinking of the two rings he currently wears)  What about me?
Belphanior:  You'll need to do this, too, for at least as long as you
  remain with us.
Mongo:  But I'm not afraid of anyone who comes after me.
Belphanior:  That's not the point.  If they find you, they'll find us.
Mongo:  (realizes that he could get by without his ring of regeneration
  since his powerful armor also confers a regeneration ability)  Hmmm.
Belphanior:  It's not forever, just until we find an alternative.  (he
  doesn't mention the vaguely-formed idea of exterminating every noble
  in every Sea Prince kingdom)  Yeah, an alternative.
Razor Charlie:  And me?
Belphanior:  Well...are you still retired?
Razor Charlie:  Don't know yet.
Belphanior:  Even if you are, and you're going back to whatever it is
  you were doing a week ago, I'd suggest that you take one of these and
  wear it anyway.  It's conceivable that someone could use you to find
  us, and even if you don't know where we are, things could still get
  bad.  (he smirks)  Naturally, I'd also encourage you to stick with us
  for a bit.  Safety in numbers, and all that.
Parekh:  Not that it should matter anyway, as you only wear one ring
  right now anyway.
Razor Charlie:  (ponders all of this)

  Parekh didn't mention to them - and hadn't mentioned to Belphanior
either - that she'd had to draw in other resources to get these powerful
rings created in such a short span of time.  The elf wasn't aware of the
identities of all of her allies; indeed, if he knew about Cespedes and
that archmage's current partnership with Parekh and Pallin, there would
probably be violence of some sort.  Even Neera wasn't aware of the full
membership of the Cabal - Parekh couldn't trust her not to let things
slip to Belphanior, even unwittingly.  Some secrets had to remain that
way, at least for a while yet.

Parekh:  Some more good news...while you are here, you can't be scried
  anyway.  This means that, as of this moment, you've all disappeared
  from the face of the world, from a scrying standpoint.  Once you put
  those rings on and leave this place, you'll remain undetectable.
Belphanior:  (nods)
Neera:  (pleased with the outcome of their joint efforts)  A true fresh
Belphanior:  And one which will give us the headstart we need for other

  Belphanior had taken care of some other business during this time,
consolidating his various items and even getting rid of a few.  With
Jenna's help, he'd finally rid himself of his lodestone (a magical bad-
luck item that he'd unwittingly been carrying around for years).  He'd
also given his scroll of protection from electricity to someone who was
much more likely to need it:  Skektek.
  The elf's inventory of items actually worn or carried on his person
at any given time was perhaps simpler than it had been for some time.
For armor, he wore bracers; for weapons, he carried Blackrazor and also
a small dagger.  In addition to his crystal eye (which was embedded in
his body) he wore a necklace and two rings (the new one being irrelevant
at the moment since he still had Peldor's necklace which was a superior
item with the same properties).  He carried two small gems (periapts)
as well as several other small items (cube of force, folding boat,
figurine of wondrous power, portable hole).  The only moderately bulky
item that was carried on his person at all times was the mighty ruby
skull of wizardry, which was nestled inside a thick pouch on his belt.
All of his other items (including the Book of Beasts, the Fork of Doom,
Xusia's gateway talisman, the iron flask, and a half-dozen others) were
stored within the portable hole, along with the five spellbooks taken
from slain foes.  These were no longer critical since he'd copied their
spells into his own master spellbooks.  The more powerful of those spells
were yet beyond Belphanior's grasp, but Alindyar had previously helped
him transcribe them nonetheless.  Finally, the elf also owned a number
of enchanted weapons for which he had no immediate use; these were now
stored in the Pelisso Swamp gateway.
  All in all, Belphanior now had a trim, speedy profile at any given
time and place:  armorless, unencumbered by heavy possessions thanks to
an abundance of small items and his portable hole, he could move fast
and yet remain flexible as far as magic and weaponry.  He was pleased
with recent events and the break from incessant battle.

Mongo:  Other things, eh?  Like what?
Skektek:  Yeah, now that we've finally got the Sea Princes off of our
  backs...where are we headed next?
Belphanior:  That's a very good question.

next:       we shift, and take one last look at the lost continent
released:   11/24/06
notes:      Belphanior's character sheet was badly in need of updating,
  and now it's finally done, the new copy put on the site at the time of
  this episode's release:

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