Chapter #270

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic II      +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1995 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons     +
+  or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  +
+  Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only   +
+  under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or    +
+  sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them...         +
+                                                                   +
+                                  Thomas Miller                    +
+                          +
+  Belphanior   13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN)  +
+     Otto      6th/8th level dwarven warrior/thief           (CN)  +
+  Date:        1/20/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        afternoon                                           +
+  Place:       the wilderness of the Wild Coast                    +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is        +
+   altogether on my side."                                         +
+                    - Treebeard the Ent, from _Lord of the Rings_  +

                     CCLXX.  The Pursued

  After leaving Narwell, Belphanior and Otto are headed toward the
southern town of Safeton.

Otto:  Why Safeton?
Belphanior:  I don't know.  Maybe because it's next in line.
Otto:  Ripe for the picking?
Belphanior:  Perhaps.  Actually...(he turns his mount eastward)
Otto:  Interesting.  But why?
Belphanior:  Just in case someone's following us.  I get these weird
  hunches sometimes.
Otto:  No, I mean, why go east now?  I thought we were headed toward
Belphanior:  In Narwell, I found what I was looking for:  evidence
  of an undiscovered burial mound, in the Cairn Hills.
Otto:  Fell, haunted places!
Belphanior:  But also buried, treasure-laden ones.
Otto:  Hmm.  You're sure this is legitimate?
Belphanior:  Quite sure.  I overheard the mayor's son chattering to
  some wench about how his father had a map to a king's ransom
  buried somewhere.  I convinced him to tell me everything he knew.
  (he ponders)  Of course, the true challenge lies in finding the
Otto:  So that was why we robbed the mayor's house...
Belphanior:  Primarily.  The other loot we took was just to cover up
  the map I stole.  I guess he's found that it's missing by now, but
  they can't really prove that we took it.
Otto:  Who cares what they can prove?  They were just a bunch of
  weak gimps.
Belphanior:  True.
Otto:  (eyeing the horizon)  East...
Belphanior:  Yeah, east to the Woolly Bay.  Then we can sail across
  and hit Hardby...and head northeast, to the hills.
Otto:  Hmm.  What does the map say about this treasure, anyway?
Belphanior:  Some kind of buried lair, of a long-dead wizard.  It
  says-  (he studies the scroll)  -he was called Kronos.  A Flan
  wizard, by all accounts.  I can't make a complete translation of
  this, since it's in a variant dialect of Flan.  More evidence that
  it's genuine.
Otto:  I don't know.
Belphanior:  I wouldn't worry about it.  With my magic, and the raw
  power of Blackrazor, no long-dead guardians will stop us.
Otto:  Aren't the Cairn Hills a little too close for comfort?  To
  Greyhawk, I mean?
Belphanior:  Hah.  What are they going to do, send lawmen after us?

  They had slowed their mounts down to a trot now, to give them some
rest, and as they rode, the elf busied himself by sorting through
the other loot he had gained in Narwell.

Belphanior:  Now let's see what else our friend the mayor had in his
  little safe.
Otto:  I thought you had already gone through all that stuff.
Belphanior:  Not all of it.  (he holds up some papers)  Look, it's
  records of his business dealings.  The shady ones, anyway.
Otto:  Politicians.  Bah.  Maybe we could go back someday and black-
  mail him.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (he holds up a gem-studded amulet)  Hell, this
  one trinket alone's worth more than all the gems I took from that
  fool Jorvul.
Otto:  A nice bonus, then.  You should invest all this wealth.
Belphanior:  Perhaps...if I ever find a city I don't become wanted
Otto:  That'll be hard.
Belphanior:  Undoubtedly.

  Meanwhile, many leagues to the north, a small war party made its
way through the grasslands, bound for the Wild Coast.  Twenty strong,
the group consisted of the following:

Torin (the Crusader; a human warrior of great strength, skill, and
  fame; known throughout the kingdoms as a destroyer of Evil)
Roland (human warrior, and Torin's second-in-command; plies his
  battleaxe with deadly skill)
Lorax (elderly, bitter elven wizard with glazed left eye)
Sprague (obese, tempermental high priest of Trithereon)
Weasel (lean, mean human thief, of great swiftness and daring)
Zardoz (brash young wizard, far more powerful than he seems)
Skell (half-elven bard, who's made it his life's work to follow
  Torin around, singing praise of his deeds and adventures)
Redfoot (tall dark-skinned human, tracker and guide)
Kobay (short elven archer with an obviously magical bow and an
  assortment of arrows)
Korrid (tattooed human martial artist dressed in grey robes and
  wielding an ornate halberd)
Warrax (human fighter/mage dressed in white tunic with several wands)
9 human soldiers, all followers of Torin

Kobay:  What's the mission this time, fearless leader?
Torin:  The apprehension of one murdering, arsonous, and thoroughly
  evil wretch:  the elf Belphanior.
Lorax:  Maybe he'll have some spellbooks for me.
Zardoz:  And why should you get them, old one?
Lorax:  Seniority, sonny.
Zardoz:  Bah.  The magic should go to those who can fully use it.
Warrax:  That would put you right out of the running.
Weasel:  Save it for the enemy, guys.  (sharpens his sword as he
  rides)  I'm ready for fighting.
Torin:  Of course you are, my friend.  We all are.  This vile worm
  Belphanior, wherever he may be, will fall before our holy might.
Sprague:  Retribution shall be had!
Roland:  You said we're supposed to catch this one and bring him
  back to Greyhawk?
Torin:  That is what they want.  But if the cur resists, we will
  show him no mercy.  Even if we take him back alive, they'll just
  hang him.
Skell:  (sleeping in his pony's saddle as usual, he snores loudly)
Redfoot:  Does he know we're coming?
Weasel:  I hope so.  I bet he'll put up a good fight then.
Kobay:  Not if I spot him first.
Roland:  Don't underestimate this elf.  He's eluded capture so far.
  Not someone to be taken lightly.
Torin:  Within a day or two, we shall reach Narwell, and there we'll
  find the villainous lout.  Ride on, men!  Victory and glory shall
  be ours!

  As the band of heroes rode south, Belphanior and Otto, unknown to
their pursuers, were heading east.  By day's end, they had reached
the shores of the Woolly Bay, entering the small coastal town of

Otto:  The Woolly Bay...
Belphanior:  It's a two- or three- day journey, I'd guess.
Otto:  We can pay someone to take us across.  But which of these
  boats?  (he points to the various docked vessels)
Belphanior:  None of them.  (he produces his folding boat)  Watch

  With but a command word, the small wooden box was transformed into
a twenty-five foot long ship, with a single large square sail.

Otto:  Outstanding!
Belphanior:  Yup.  I don't pay people to take me across water.  (he
  leaps aboard the small ship)  Come on, let's cast off.
Otto:  (climbs aboard)  Oars?
Belphanior:  Yeah, but we won't need them.  This sail should be
  enough.  We're in no hurry.  (he lowers a wooden ramp, and takes
  the horses aboard the vessel)  All aboard!
Otto:  (looking around)  Guess that's it, then.  (he helps the elf
  retract the wide plank)

  They set out to the northeast, navigating by the stars and using
the single sail for power.  Supper consisted of simple rations,
warmed over a small fire-pot.  It was during this meal that the
air above the fire began shimmering.

Otto:  What the hell?
Belphanior:  (draws his sword)  Sorcery!
voice:  -phanior...Belphanior...
Belphanior:  I know that voice!
voice:  (keeps chanting as an image of a face appears in the air)
Belphanior:  Peldor!
Peldor-image:  Yes, it's me.
Belphanior:  But how?
Peldor-image:  My magical powers-
Belphanior:  Get real.
Peldor-image:  Oh, okay.  I called in a favor from Alindyar.  I'm
  talking to you, in fact, through his crystal ball.
Belphanior:  (looks angry)  The drow can find me?!?
Peldor-image:  Don't sweat it, they can find anybody they want to.
Belphanior:  Hmph.
Peldor-image:  I'm contacting you to warn you that you're being
Belphanior:  Oh, really?  By whom?
Peldor-image:  Some kind of holy warrior, I think.  They call him
  Torin, the "Crusader".
Belphanior:  Never heard of him.
Peldor-image:  Well, he knows who you are, at least now, anyway, and
  he's got about twenty people with him.  Soldiers, wizards, priests,
  you name it.  You should be careful - Torin and his Crusaders are
  pretty tough customers.
Belphanior:  So am I.
Peldor-image:  Yeah, well...I just found out recently, and I figured
  I'd let you know.
Belphanior:  I appreciate it.
Peldor-image:  (looks apprehensive)  Uh...
Belphanior:  What?  Out with it.
Peldor-image:  Well, I was just might consider toning
  down your violent ways...
Belphanior:  Is that so?
Peldor-image: would cause you a lot less trouble, and you
  might even get to settle down somewhere.
Belphanior:  Bah.  I back down to no one.  I didn't bend to that
  stupid fop in Greyhawk, and I won't back down from this Torin,
Peldor-image:  Sorry to hear it.  Hey, just be careful, okay?
Belphanior:  Don't I always.  Thanks for the warning.
Peldor-image:  No problem.  And good luck.

  With that, the image faded out, leaving the elf and his companion
sitting on their boat in silence.

Otto:  Crusader, eh?
Belphanior:  A do-gooder, no doubt.  Some fool who obeys all laws
  just because some council of old men made them centuries past.
Otto:  Fools leading fools...
Belphanior:  Really.  Well, we can only assume that these pursuers
  are somewhere back on the mainland.
Otto:  That ought to keep them from picking up our trail.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  Nobody saw us leave that last town.
Otto:  Nope.  We could be anywhere, as far as they know.  Unless,
  of course, they have spell-casters.
Belphanior:  Yeah, it's possible.  We'll have to prepare a special
  welcome for them, if they track us to the Cairns.  Until then,
  let's focus on finding the Cairn of Kronos, and the resultant
Otto:  Sounds good.  Awfully nice of that Peldor to warn you.
Belphanior:  He and I go way back.

  Elsewhere, one very troubled thief, his woman, and a pair of drow
pondered these developments.

Alindyar:  'Twould seem that the mad one cares not _who_ pursues
Tanya:  Really.  He's crazy!
Lyra:  I don't think he's crazy.  Just homicidal.
Peldor:  And near-suicidal.  Torin and company may well make mince-
  meat out of him!
Alindyar:  Do not underestimate Belphanior.  Many others have, and
  they now feed the worms.
Lyra:  Really.  I couldn't even begin to count his dead enemies.
Peldor:  A hundred-armed titan couldn't begin to count them...
Tanya:  Do you think he'll be okay?
Alindyar:  One can never be sure.
Lyra:  I think one thing's for sure:  an awful lot of blood will be
  spilled when Torin's force finds Belphanior.
Peldor:  (nodding)

  Back in the waters of the Woolly Bay, Belphanior and Otto continued
their seabound journey, sailing northeastward.  Two long and rather
boring days later, they reached the massive docks that marked the
Free City of Hardby.  The horses were unloaded, and then Belphanior
returned the boat to its box form.

Belphanior:  Hardby, eh?
Otto:  Yep.  Ruled by a Despotrix.  I hear she's got women in all
  the political and military positions of power.  They have some
  rather strict laws as well.
Belphanior:  Sounds like a place to stay away from.  We'll skirt it
  to the northeast, and make for the Cairn Hills.
Otto:  Gotcha.

  As the pair rode off into the morning sun, Torin and his band were
just reaching Narwell, fifty leagues to the west.

Torin:  (exits a guardhouse)  They've been here, all right.
Roland:  When, and how so?
Torin:  The elf murdered a simple shopkeeper, robbed his store, and
  then fled.  He's also suspected in the slayings of four other
  townspeople.  (frowns)  And he seems to have robbed the mayor's
  house as well.
Weasel:  Busy day for him.
Roland:  What of his companion?
Torin:  The dwarf wasn't directly implicated in any of this, but he
  was with Belphanior, so he's probably guilty.
Weasel:  Hmm.
Sprague:  (the priest)  Let's get after them!  The further away they
  get, the greater their lead grows.
Kobay:  Brilliant, Sprague.  Do you come up with these yourself?
Lorax:  Do we know for sure which way they rode?
Torin:  Southward...but I'd prefer to use magic to find out for sure.
  No sense in following blindly.
Redfoot:  I never follow blindly.

  Within the hour, Torin's force was riding eastward, toward the
Woolly Bay...

next:   to the Cairn Hills
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  I had originally intended for Belphanior to branch off into
  a limited series, but I changed my mind.  No sense complicating
  the saga with an extra run of stories.
    After nearly three weeks of 100+ weather, it's now rained for
  most of the last week.  Good news, as long as the power doesn't
  go out.

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