Chapter #394

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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 1991-6 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                    +
+                           +
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Otto         8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief            (CN) +
+  Date:        4/4/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        several hours past midnight                         +
+  Place:       the Free City of Greyhawk                           +
+  Climate:     chilly                                              +
+  "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are    +
+   dreamt of in your philosophy."                                  +
+                                                        - Hamlet   +

                 CCCXCIV.  Hunter and Hunted

  While Otto searches for the drows' house, Tanya has just returned
from a late night at their home.  However, unknown to her, the deadly
assassin Whisper lurks in the shadows of her bedroom in the Green
Dragon Inn...

Tanya:  (whistles to herself as she disrobes)

  Whisper, who had become one with the darkness, couldn't help but
take note.  Although a cold-blooded killer at heart, he was also a
man; someone of less will might well have pursued other courses of
action at that moment.  However, the assassin was a professional
who lived by a code, and besides, he had a job to do.
  That job did not include killing Tanya.  While there was simply
no money in it, the true reason she would live through this night
stemmed from the fact that there was no _reason_ to end her life.
Whisper was nothing if not efficient; without a contract, there
would be no slaying, save perhaps in self-defense.  Some might
have mistaken this trait for mercy, even humanity, but the truth
was that it was cold, hard practicality.
  In addition, there seemed to be some kind of sinister plot afoot,
and this woman - and her missing companion, the thief Peldor - were
somehow involved.  Whisper could care less who supplied him with his
contracts; one could not be a successful assassin otherwise.  Yet,
the evidence he had seen here tonight hinted that at least one of
Greyhawk's rulers might be something other than what he appeared,
and what he should be.  Treason, he thought to himself - or worse.
If _that_ was the case, Whisper would have to take a side, and make
a stand.  Everyone had to draw the line somewhere; the assassin's
line was simply far removed from everyone else's...
  While his mind pondered these issues, his senses kept alert,
making sure that Tanya wasn't about to discover him.  There was
only a marginal chance of that, but if it did happen, he'd have
to act quickly.  Fortunately for Tanya, it didn't; presently, she
wandered into an antechamber and got into a tub.
  Moving quickly but silently, Whisper left the bedroom; in the
next room, Tanya felt a brief but distinct chill, as if an icy
wind had blown through.  She would never know how close she had
come to being swept up and taken to the dark places where that
wind often went.

  Momentarily, the black-clad figure was back in the streets of
Greyhawk.  Whisper was glad he had taken the note left by Peldor;
there was no need to panic Tanya.  If she had seen that note, she
would have buckled on her sword and gone to confront Org.  _That_
course of action might well have complicated matters, and the
woman would probably have been slain.  No, no need for needless
death.  It served no purpose, no greater good.
  Whisper, unlike Otto, knew exactly where Alindyar and Lyra lived.
In fact, there was little he didn't know; most people would have
been surprised if they could read the contents of the assassin's
mind.  Slipping through the dark, quiet city streets, he headed
for the High Quarter and a certain dark mansion.

  Meanwhile, Otto was even now arriving at that very place.  The
barkeep had told the dwarf what he needed to know - gold had a way
of making people talk, when steel wouldn't work - and he sized up
the mansion as he approached.  Gods, but the place was _huge_!  An
old, dark, spacious house atop a slope, the dwelling reminded him
of Belphanior's castle in Helgate.  It certainly looked as if it
might be haunted, and Otto realized why the drow had chosen to
live here:  nobody would bother them.
  Still, he had to, and so he walked up to the front door.  Taking
the elaborate iron knocker in one hand, Otto tapped it on the door
several times.  The echoes could be heard from outside, but there
was no answer.  Well, fine, thought the dwarf; they're asleep, and
they need some time.  As he waited, he gazed at the night sky, its
black expanse full of drifting clouds.  It was going to rain, and
soon - ah!  The first drops struck the porch, and were soon followed
by more.  Shortly, it was raining heavily, and Otto still stood at
the door, quickly getting wet.
  A second series of knocks produced no answer, so the thief did
what came naturally:  he examined the lock on the door.  There was
a trap built into the portal, a gas mechanism of some sort.  Otto
was more than competent enough to disarm and bypass it, though.
He wondered why the drow had chosen something like this, instead
of a poison needle or a blade.  He figured he could ask them later
this night, and opened the front door.  Surely they'd forgive him,
when they found out what was going on of late.  However, the dwarf
realized that he had a new problem:  the mansion was a sprawling
place, with many hallways and chambers.  It would take him a long
time, maybe even an hour, to find the right one.
  Still, he had no other choice, and so Otto lit a torch and began
to explore the drows' mansion.  It was indeed a majestic place,
built entirely of wood, in a style that was old when the dwarf had
been born.  It had all the hallmarks of older architecture:  wide
arching doorways, high ceilings, spacious rooms, and the musty smell
of a structure that had seen more than its share of winters.  Still,
it was a nice place, he had to admit.
  Otto went through a kitchen and down a hall, his footsteps causing
the floorboards to creak, no matter how silently he trod.  The hall
ended in a thick oaken door, which was locked, and the thief took
his lockpicks out again, intending to make short work of this lock.
However, it was not to be.  Try as he might, Otto couldn't pick the
lock!  Repeated attempts only led to frustration, and he decided
that the thing must have borne magical wards.  Rather than challenge
them further, by trying to kick the door itself down, he opted to
pursue other avenues.  Besides, though the dwarf was many things,
he was no vandal.
  As Otto wandered into a large sunken den, lined with old, plush
furniture, he sensed someone behind him.  It was hard to explain
exactly _how_ he knew; he simply did.  People who fight and kill for
a living seem to develop this trait sooner or later.  Turning, he
called out softly...

Otto:  Alindyar?  Lyra?  It's Otto...
voice:  No, not Alindyar or Lyra.
Otto:  (confused)  I know that voice.

  A tall, lean form, clad entirely in black, stepped from the shadows
and stood before the dwarf.  A thin, straight sword rested easily at
the newcomer's side, and one hand rested lightly on its pommel.  The
dark-clad one regarded Otto through the eye-slit of his mask.

Otto:  Wendell!  Or, should I say, Whisper?
Whisper:  Either will do.  (he draws his sword)
Otto:  What are _you_ doing here?
Whisper:  (pauses for a long moment)  As I have fought at your side,
  I will tell you the truth:  I am here to kill you.
Otto:  (eyes wide)
Whisper:  Fear not.  Out of respect, I shall make it quick and
Otto:  B- but...why?!?
Whisper:  (shrugs, ever so slightly)  A contract is a contract.
Otto:  (backs up a step)  Listen, friend-
Whisper:  (glides forward)  I have no friends.
Otto:  Dammit, listen to me!  There's a major plot afoot here!  We
  were sent into the sewers on a suicide mission!  Shapeshifters
  are plotting to overthrow the city!  (he sees no harm in his slight
  exaggeration, since his life is on the line here)  We've got to
  warn the right people!
Whisper:  That is none of my affair.  I have a contract to fulfill.
Otto:  (draws his own sword, finally)  Listen to reason, man!
Whisper:  (takes another step)  Reason is not a factor here.
Otto:  (points his sword at the other in frustration)  There's too
  much going on - you can't-
Whisper:  (takes yet another step)
Otto:  (grips his sword tightly)  Okay, then.  Fine.  If you want a
  fight, you'll get one.
Whisper:  (approaches, his sword dancing in lethal arcs)

next:      the fate of Mongo and Bosco
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     A recap of recent episodes, for your viewing pleasure
  and general edification:

episode   star            events
390       Peldor          Peldor fights Org and is slain
391       Mongo, Bosco    they live, find the others dead or missing
392       Mongo, Bosco    they fight the hydra, are taken by gnomes
393       Otto            Otto seeks help
394       Otto            Otto finds drows' mansion, so does Whisper
(395)     Mongo, Bosco    they find themselves prisoners
(396)     Mongo, Bosco    ???

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