Chapter #433

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    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                    +
+                           +
+  Belphanior     (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief    (CN) +
+    Otto           8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief        (CN) +
+    Victoria        11th level female vampiric human fighter  (NE) +
+  Date:        4/16/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       the remote mountain town of Helgate                 +
+  Climate:     cold and raining                                    +
+  "Is that possible?"                                              +
+  "If it happened, it's possible."                                 +
+                                    - Kolchak, the Night Stalker   +

                 CDXXXIII.  Hostages In Helgate

  After learning of an apparent bandit takeover in town, Belphanior
and those who support him have descended the mountain.  At the peak's
base, they have already run into the pack of rats and bats controlled
by Victoria; these minions have informed her of the bandits' location
and numbers.  As the group passes the site of Victoria's earlier
attack on the would-be-ambushers - who are now quite dead - they head
for town, there to turn the tables on the bandits...

Belphanior:  The first order of business is to free Herbert's family.
Herbert:  But how?  They've got half a dozen men in my house!  Any
  false move and...and...(he looks around despairingly)
Otto:  We need gas, gas that knocks everyone out or paralyzes them
  or renders them useless or something.  Hmm, maybe I'll try to
  invent such a thing, later on when there's time.
Belphanior:  There's no time right now.
Herbert:  We've got to do something-
Victoria:  I can do it.
Herbert:  Huh?
Victoria:  I said, I can go in there and rescue your family.
Herbert:  What the hell are you talking about?!?  You may be one hell
  of a swordswoman, but that won't work here!
Otto:  (to Belphanior)  Y'know, she's got a point.
Belphanior:  (nods)  She really may be the best one for this.
Herbert:  (growing agitated)  No!  You can't just storm in there and
  kill all those bandits, not without getting my family killed!  This
  can't be handled that way-
Victoria:  (turns, locking eyes with the man)  Yes, it can.
Herbert:  Yes, it can.
Victoria:  I _will_ rescue your family.
Herbert:  You will rescue my family.
Victoria:  You _won't_ worry about it anymore.
Herbert:  I won't worry about it anymore.
Otto:  Wow.  Now that's power.
Belphanior:  (chuckles)  So, what's your plan?
Victoria:  (shrugs)  I'm sure I can think of something.  (to Herbert)
  Take us to your house.
Herbert: my house.

  Actually, this command was changed, for the would-be rescuers didn't
want to arrive at the house itself.  What they needed to do was arrive
at some nearby location, unseen and undetected.  Herbert led them to
an abandoned building across the street.  Meanwhile, the rain continued
to pound the town, drowning out the other sounds of the town.

Belphanior:  Cover noise...that'll help us.
Otto:  (picks the lock to the back door, with ease)
Eduardo:  (watching and learning)
Victoria:  (eyes the surrounding buildings, then this one, as they
  enter)  What is this place?
Otto:  It used to be a shoemaker's shop, until it went out of business
  a month ago.
Belphanior:  Nobody needed shoes?
Eduardo:  The shoemaker decided his fortune would be better made as a
Otto:  Far as we know, he was right.
Victoria:  I shall have no problem getting in that house, but what
  of the rest of you...?
Belphanior:  I can make myself invisible.
Otto:  I can't...wait, I've got half a potion left.  I think I'd be
  better off going to find Razor Charlie and Kyros, though.
Belphanior:  Yeah, I'm sure they could use the help.  Don't get caught
  and outnumbered, though.
Otto:  I can handle myself.  (he eyes Victoria)  She probably can, too.
  Maybe you should come with me.
Belphanior:  I'll get there eventually.
Victoria:  (observing Herbert's house, from their concealed vantage
  point behind a window)
Eduardo:  That just leaves me.
Belphanior:  That leaves you here.  I don't want you getting in harm's
Eduardo:  But-
Belphanior:  No arguments.
Eduardo:  Okay.
Belphanior:  (works a spell of invisibility on himself)

  Shortly, Otto sipped his potion and vanished from sight.

Otto:  (invisible)  See you around.
Belphanior:  We'll be around.
Otto:  (leaves, the old floorboards barely creaking as he walks)
Herbert:  (stares ahead, still under Victoria's influence)
Victoria:  Is that a chimney I see, there?
Herbert:  Yes, it comes up from our fireplace.
Victoria:  Excellent.  Now listen, Herbert:  this is very important.
  Are you sure you want me to enter your home and rescue your children?
Herbert:  (though under her charm, he still has a basic grasp of his
  own emotions and opinions)  Yes!
Victoria:  Very well.  (she vanishes from sight, as a thin mist flows
  out through the cracks around the window)
Belphanior:  Wait-  damn.  (he begins casting a spell of flying on
  himself)  Eduardo, open the windows, please.
Eduardo:  (does so)

  By the time the elf was airborne and outside, invisible to the naked
eye, the screaming had already begun...

Belphanior:  (watches in amazement as a headless bandit crashes
  through the house's front window)  Holy...

  The elf flew down, swooping toward the front door, but he recoiled
as a group of people came running out.  He had almost slashed the first
of them before he realized it was Herbert's wife, Winnifred.  As the
invisible elf watched, sword held down, the woman dashed by, a pair
of squealing infants held in her arms.  Two older boys, perhaps ten or
eleven years old, ran at her heels, and a younger girl came after, her
tiny hand grasped in one of her brother's.  Every one of the former
hostages, save perhaps the infants, was in a state of sheer terror.

Eduardo:  (having left the nearby building, he stands in the street,
  waving at the fleeing family)  This way!  Quickly!  (he ushers them
  into the safety of the building across the street from their house)

  Belphanior, meanwhile, was just entering the house.  Stepping
through the open doorway, he immediately noticed a fleeing bandit,
sword held slackly in one hand, coming right toward him.

Belphanior:  (slashes the man across the neck, slaying him)

  There were no other surviving bandits - rather, five corpses - or
pieces of corpses - littered the common room of the house.  One was
halfway in the kitchen; his other half was in the den with the others.
Some of the bandits had obviously died from violent wounds, of both
the edged and clawed sort.  Others, though, were simply dead, their
faces ashen and their bodies pale.  In the center of the slaughter
stood Victoria, splattered with blood that wasn't her own.

Belphanior:  (looking around)  Hey, you really did it.
Victoria:  Of course, what did you expect?  (she points at one of the
  ashen-faced corpses)  We'll need to burn these, or else they'll come
  back later.
Belphanior:  You don't want that?
Victoria:  Hell, no.  Every vampire I create requires blood, which
  makes my own supply less available.  It also tends to hasten the
  speed with which the locals become aware of me.  And perhaps most
  importantly, I don't care for the existence of potential rivals.
  (she shakes her head)  No, better that they die before they can be
Belphanior:  I will take care of it.  (he notices the sword at her
  side)  How'd you get that in here, if you had turned into mist?
Victoria:  It's a kind of magic, don't worry about it.  (she licks
  the blood off of one finger)  Ugh.  A drunkard.

  Belphanior thought about piling the bodies outside, but he realized
that it would probably be better for Herbert's family if they never
had to set foot in the house again.  Thus, he torched the place with
a minor spell of fire.

Belphanior:  (in the street, he and Victoria watch the house go up in
  flames)  That's that.
Victoria:  (turns abruptly as Eduardo and Herbert's family emerge from
  their place of safety)  Oh, it's just you.
Belphanior:  (to Eduardo)  I told you to stay inside-
Eduardo:  They had to be taken to safety...
Belphanior:  (pats the kid on the head)  -but you did well.
Winnifred:  (looking at Victoria in terror)
kids:  (likewise)
Victoria:  (to Belphanior)  There's one more thing I need to do...
  (she walks toward the woman)
Belphanior:  No, don't-
Victoria:  Relax.  (she locks eyes with Winnifred, causing an instant
  and noticeable change in the woman's demeanor)  You will not remember
  anything about the battle, or about me.
Winnifred:  (nods)
Victoria:  As far as you will remember, you and your family were saved
  by Belphanior as the house burned.
Winnifred:  (nods)

  Victoria repeated this process with each of the older children, and
after that, she and Belphanior brought them all into the nearby
building, where they were reunited with Herbert.  At this point, the
vampiress released the entire family from her spell...

Herbert:  Wh-  (he looks around)  Winnie!  (he hugs and kisses his
  wife and children, ecstatically)
Belphanior:  (after giving them a few moments without interruption, he
  claps Herbert on the shoulder)  We're going to deal with the others.
Herbert:  What?
Belphanior:  Stay here take care of your family.  I'll handle the rest,
  once and for all.
Herbert:  But you'll need my help - the help of the guards!
Belphanior:  No, I won't.  (he and Victoria turn and leave)


Victoria:  A decent battle...but more lies ahead.
Belphanior:  Yup.  You know where the other bandits are, right?
Victoria:  (clasps her sword back in place)  Yes, I know exactly
  where they are.  My...servants told me.
Belphanior:  Well, let's get over there, because I've got business
  to settle with these bandits.  (he takes to the air, followed by
  Victoria, now in bat-form)

next:      blood, guts, blades, and snappy dialogue
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     This morning began like any other Saturday morning:  my
  roommate and I got up at 7:30 am and went to the gym.  We knew
  that we had to be at a TicketMaster outlet by 9:15 in order to
  get in the numbered-lottery line for KISS tickets for the October
  1 concert.  Well, Mitch lucked out and got the _first_ lottery
  number, effectively putting me at the front of the line (I handled
  the ticket purchasing since I'm a veteran concert-goer.)  The end
  result?  2nd row right in the center.  The concert's at the Omni,
  in Atlanta, a gigantic arena if there ever was one.  2nd row is
  the best ticket I've ever had for anything.  This was a tremendous
  bit of good fortune and it made my month.

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