Chapter #605

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                                   +   +
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                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 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!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Alindyar        17th level drow wizard                                +
+   Belphanior      14th/14th/14th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+   Bosco           12th level halfling thief                             +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+     Gorgo         dwarven berserker                                     +
+   Otto             8th/11th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+   Date:           1/3/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           afternoon                                             +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "He _was_ a very special way."                             +
+                                 - from _Once Upon a Time in the West_   +

                      DCV.  A Legend Among Legends

  After receiving a surprise visit from Mongo and his apparently-deranged
cousin Gorgo Hammerhead, Alindyar has wisely opted to move the discussion
to a nearby pub.  There, at a secluded corner table (Mongo had insisted)
the three were engaged in conversation and fine dining...

Gorgo:  (again waving his empty beer mug at the barmaid)  Can I get a
  bigger glass?
barmaid:  Should I just bring you the keg?
Gorgo:  Sounds good.
barmaid:  (not sure what to do, she walks away, shaking her head)
Alindyar:  (eyeing the ravaged bird carcass on the table)  My, my...

  They'd ordered a whole chicken, stuffed with bread and vegetables as
well as a smoked ham.  The dark elf had eaten a couple of slices, and
Mongo had had about twice that much.  The rest had been consumed,
quickly and messily, by Gorgo, who as far as Alindyar could tell was
perpetually ravenous.

Gorgo:  (sits back and burps)  That was good.
Alindyar:  I'll bet.
Mongo:  Never bet against him - he'll eat anything.
Alindyar:  So where have you been, all this time?  The last I heard, you
  had departed from that fortress and military service...
Mongo:  (grins)  Yeah.  I was mad about that for a while, but it wore off.
  I mean, after all, people will do what they do, and who am I to try and
  tell them what's right?
Alindyar:  (nods)  Hmm.  And Gorin?
Mongo:  (shrugs)  Off fighting some battle, I'd guess.  As long as he's
barmaid:  (returns with a large metal urn, filled with beer)  Ungh...will
  this do?
Gorgo:  For me?  You shouldn't have.  (he takes the urn with one hand)
  But since you did...(he upends the container, beer filling his mouth and
  splashing all over his face and beard)
barmaid:  Whew.  (she wanders away, wondering if the tip will be worth it)
Mongo:  So I wandered for a while, having adventures.  Then I passed kind
  of close to my homeland, and decided to stop in.  That's where I picked
  up Gorgo.
Gorgo:  Urp!  (wipes beer from his beard)  Good stuff.
Alindyar:  I see.
Gorgo:  He was looking for adventuring buddies, so I said, what the hell.
Mongo:  And soon after that, I found a little hint that led to a big hint
  and then to the prize I'm after now.
Alindyar:  (leans forward)  What prize is this?
Mongo:  Well, I guess I'd better get down to business.  It's quite a tale,
  but I've got to tell it.
Lyra:  (strolls in, followed by Belphanior and Otto)  Well, give us a
  moment to sit down, then.
Mongo:  Belphanior!
Belphanior:  Mongo!
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Where did you pick up those two?
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Where did _you_ pick up _those_ two?

  Introductions were made all around, and discussion ensued...

Otto:  We'd better order another one of those birds.
Gorgo:  Hey, sounds good to me.
Mongo:  (to Belphanior)  What brings you here?
Belphanior:  The need for answers...a lot of answers.  And you?
Mongo:  Oh, the usual.  I'm about to embark on a great and mighty quest,
  and I'm looking for people to share in the fun with me.
Belphanior:  You're going back to get the rest of Cynder's hoard?
Mongo:  Oh, no.  Me and Bosco did that months ago.
Bosco:  (appears)  Did somebody say my name?
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Look, it really does happen.
Mongo:  Bosco?!?
Otto:  (muttering)  This is getting ridiculous.
Belphanior:  (watches the halfling hop up onto a chair, where he eyes
  the nearly-stripped chicken atop the table)
Gorgo:  Grrr...
Bosco:  Hey, share and share alike!
Gorgo:  Grrrrr...
Mongo:  Gorgo!  You're not even paying for that.
Gorgo:  (frowns)  You're right.
Mongo:  (to the others)  Gorgo could give Bosco a run for his money in
  an eating contest.
Bosco:  I heard that!
Belphanior:  Bosco, what are you doing here?
Alindyar:  And how did you find us?
Bosco:  (shrugs)  That's what I do.  (he rips off a strip of meat and
  pops it into his mouth)  So, I heard my name used in vain.  What's
  cooking?  Besides another chicken, I hope.
Mongo:  I was just telling Belphanior about how we went back and took
  the rest of Cynder's hoard, a while back.
Bosco:  (grins sheepishly)
Belphanior:  You mean the hoard that me and Otto helped find and
Bosco:  Umm...
Belphanior:  I'm sure you gave Peldor his share too, right?
Bosco:  Err...
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Methinks the halfling pulled a fast one
  on the others.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Looks that way.
Bosco:  (spreads his hands)  I was just _holding_ that treasure for
Otto:  (nodding)  Ah.  How kind of you.
Bosco:  Your shares are all there, just waiting for you to come and
  reclaim them.
Belphanior:  And reclaim them we will-
Mongo:  Forget all that.
Belphanior:  What?
Alindyar:  Eh?
Mongo:  I'm hot on the trail of a treasure far greater than Cynder's
  measly hoard...bigger than some Forgotten City...greater than any
  City of the Gods.
Bosco:  (leans closer)  You've got my attention.
Belphanior:  You've even got my attention.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  He has even got my attention.
Otto:  (looks around, worried that someone might be eavesdropping on
  this conversation, but sees that the tavern is far from crowded)
barmaid:  (brings out a platter with a steaming chicken atop it, and
  puts it on the table)
everyone:  (staring at her silently)
barmaid:  What?
Gorgo:  Oh, nothing.  Thanks for the chicken, we'll handle things from
barmaid:  (heads away, more than a little confused)  Weird bunch...
Belphanior:  (returns his attention to Mongo)  Now, you were saying
  something about a great treasure?
Bosco:  A treasure greater than any other?
Alindyar:  Even any other that we have laid eyes on?
Mongo:  All that, and _more_!
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  This I've got to hear.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Aye.
Mongo:  Okay, here it is:  anyone here ever heard of the Lost Tomb
  of Panagaea?
Belphanior:  (leans back, shaking his head)  You've gone insane.
Bosco:  For once, even I have to agree.
Alindyar:  (confused, he ESPs to Lyra)  What is this place they speak
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  I have no idea either.
Alindyar:  (to Belphanior)  Explain, please.
Belphanior:  (looking disappointed)  I'd be glad to.  The Lost Tomb of
  Panagaea is the ultimate fools' dream, the unattainable treasure - a
  buried maze of tunnels and traps, the tales say, that lead to the
  fabled riches of Emperor Hyperion.
Lyra:  Who?
Belphanior:  According to lore - lore that was ancient before the Suel
  Empire was born - the world was once ruled by an emperor of nearly
  godlike power.
Bosco:  (awestruck)  Hyperion...
Belphanior:  The treasures he accumulated during his reign, and had buried
  with him when he died, were said to be far beyond counting.  I mean, it
  was the wealth of an entire _world_!
Otto:  (nods)  I'd wager that every kid in the lands hears this one at
  some point, before growing up.  (he frowns at the drow)  Sorry...
  sometimes I forget.
Lyra:  Oh, don't worry about it.
Belphanior:  The point is, Mongo's talking about something that's as
  legendary as...well, as any legend anyone's ever heard.
Otto:  Besides which, there's a simple problem:  nobody knows where the
  damn tomb is.  People have been searching for it since before recorded
Bosco:  (raises a finger)  Without success.
Mongo:  (already digging in his portable hole, he retrieves a metal box
  by pulling it up with a thick rope)
Bosco:  Hey, what's that?
Mongo:  (opens the box, removing something that's wrapped in cloth and
  obviously heavy)

  After making sure that no strangers were within seeing or hearing
distance, the dwarf removed the strips of protective cloth, revealing
a dull grey rectangle of stone.

Alindyar:  A tablet?
Mongo:  Not just any tablet.  This thing's covered with ancient runes,
  which I can't read.  However, this writing matches what tiny bit of
  Panagaean lettering anyone's ever seen.  That much I checked on, and
  know for sure.
Bosco:  Why not get some sage to look at it for you and verify if it's
  authentic or not?
Mongo:  Because then they'd know what I was up to.
Belphanior:  (intensely curious)  Where'd you get it?
Mongo:  Sorry, can't tell.
Otto:  Hmm.
Lyra:  So it's a stone from that what?  What does that prove?
Mongo:  (grinning)  Part of the legend of the Tomb has to do with a map.
  I know enough about runes to know that the ones on this stone are
  directions and distances.
Alindyar:  So when you are able to somehow decipher that tablet-
Belphanior:  -the greatest treasure in history will be yours!
Mongo:  Yep.
Otto:  Hmph.
Bosco:  (reaching for the stone tablet)  Let me see-
Mongo:  (snatches the tablet back, holding it to his chest)  Not so fast!
  I've told you people all of this because you're my friends and I trust
  you, but to go any further with this matter, you'll have to join my

next:      Mongo's party continues to form; Belphanior visits some sages
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
released:  1/17/2000
notes:     You've probably noticed by now that the characters' alignments
  have been removed.  This is because I dislike the idea of alignments
  and am slowly going to phase it out of my stories.
    As for the Lost Tomb of Panagaea (note the similarity to "Pangaea")
  I will just say this:  if it actually exists, it's older than anything
  else, it's richer than anything else, and it's tougher to find and
  conquer than anything else.
    _IF_ it exists.

    After one week, I had 333 survey responses.  A week later I had
  47 more, for a total of 380.  Now it's a week after that and I've
  gotten 17 more...397 total.  Still not all, considering that there
  are over 500 of you on the mailing list alone.  Oh well.

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