Chapter #762

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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        18th level drow wizard                                +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess                      +
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger                               +
+     Zephyr        large tiger                                           +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Rob             16th level human priest                               +
+                                                                         +
+   Boltar                     human priest of Pholtus                    +
+   Derider Fanshaen           female human priestess of Pelor            +
+   Sir Drexel                 human paladin of Heironeous                +
+     Limbor                   elven wizard/priest                        +
+   Eyer                       wood elven fighter/acrobat                 +
+     Baltek                   elven archer                               +
+   Jerome Kasinskaia          human priest of Rao                        +
+     Reptar                   lizardman fighter                          +
+   Pallin                     grey elven wizard                          +
+     Socrates                 large albino hound                         +
+   St. Wilhelm                human fighter/priest of St. Cuthbert       +
+   Date:           4/27/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          somewhere deep within the Griff Mountains             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "There never was a good war, or a bad peace."                         +
+                                                 - Benjamin Franklin     +

                        DCCLXII.  Prestaging

  The champions of Good have assembled, strategized, and now ventured to
a waiting-point deep within the middle of nowhere, amidst the great peaks
of the Griff mountain range.

Sir Drexel:  When the main force, in my native Furyondy, is ready to move,
  our court wizard there will contact Limbor here via magical means.
Limbor:  (nods)
Mongo:  (whispering to Peyote)  Have you noticed that that guy never
Peyote:  Or hardly even talks.  Yeah.
Rob:  (to Sir Drexel)  And after the Furyondy force contacts us?
Sir Drexel:  (eyes Alindyar)  The Circle of Eight...?
Alindyar:  The Circle of Eight has ensured that a wizard of sufficient
  power is in each place - Furyondy, Ratik, the Flinty Hills - so that
  when the time comes, each army can be moved from its homeland to the
Sir Drexel:  And what of the fourth army...the host of Greyspire?
Alindyar:  Apparently they have their own wizard to transport them to
  the battle.
Sir Drexel:  I see.
Mongo:  (looking around)  Interesting crew.

  Some of the henchpeople had been left behind, for this was no mission
for novices.  Sir Drexel was of course accompanied by the elf Limbor, a
priest of Heironeous who also happened to be a wizard.  This elf said
little, and only then if spoken to, but his power was without question.
Eyer and his henchman Baltek were both known to Mongo, who had fought
alongside them and Ged in the Maure Castle quest, years ago.  Baltek was
an archer on par with the recently-deceased Jutokai, and Mongo for one
was glad to have him along.
  Jerome, the high priest of Rao, had the lizard man Reptar in his employ.
None of the adventurers had ever seen one of this race who had actually
learned how to fight professionally.  About the size and shape of a tall,
burly human, Reptar carried his sword with an ease that spoke volumes
about his skill at arms.  His Common was horrible, full of hisses and
other indecipherable sounds, but he seemed to understand the speech of
others just fine.
  Pallin, the grey elven follower of Celestian, was quiet as well, to the
point of being distant.  It wasn't an air of unfriendliness, but rather
one of detachment, as if his mind were elsewhere.  Nevertheless, the grey
elf somehow missed nothing, and in fact it was he who had transported the
group from Greyhawk to these mountains.  Pallin's companion was a large,
sturdy-looking hound that was pale to the point of translucence.  It made
no sound, simply following the elf around, but the animal looked capable
of taking down an armed man in a fight.
  The servant of venerable St. Cuthbert was, in his own way, the oddest
of all.  Wilhelm was a saint, which meant different things to different
people.  Some said that a mortal had to endure great suffering to become
a saint, while others held that he actually had to _perish_ performing
some great holy task.  Was he merely a warrior-priest of great power, or
something more?  Mongo had asked half a dozen people but gotten no real
answers.  As best as he could tell, Wilhelm was, at the very least, a
strapping warrior who could wield his cudgel or ply clerical magic with
equal skill.  Still, there was something about the man, something that
Mongo couldn't put his finger on.

Mongo:  (shakes his head)
Halbarad:  No followers for you?
Mongo:  Gorgo went home, and Gorin's at Greyspire-  Hey!  He'll probably
  be at this battle!  I might see him there!
Alindyar:  Aye.
Mongo:  I wonder if he's got his own command by now...
Alindyar:  Perhaps we will soon see.
Lyra:  I wonder something else...something we can and should think about
  now, while we still can.
Alindyar:  Eh?
Lyra:  What we're doing here is basically, on its simplest level, going
  to someone else's home to pick a fight.
Deryck:  Try not to forget that various agents of those we seek have
  antagonized us already, on more than one occasion.
Lyra:  I know, and I'm as much a believer as anyone in getting someone
  before they get you...but we need to realize that this may start some-
  thing that goes on for a long time...years.  Unless we win this time,
  we'll have to worry about these people for years to come.
Peyote:  (shaking his head)  Then we stop them now - for good.  They've
  attacked us in a a druidic shrine...even in that well-laid
  ambush within that dude's tomb.
Halbarad:  I refuse to spend my life watching over my back for someone
  I should have laid low in the past.  For the greater good - ours and
  Greyhawk's and the world's - we must do this thing.
Alindyar:  (deep in thought)
Lyra:  I understand you - all of you - and I agree.  I just wanted you
  to think about the causes and effects.
Deryck:  And now we have.
Jerome:  (walks over)  A lively discussion?
Halbarad:  Yes, but its purpose is now served.

  Twenty-two they were...nine adventurers, seven powerful allies, four
henchbeings, and two animal followers.  This, then, was the composition
of the force that waited, hidden leagues from civilization or the enemy,
for the distant signal that would set things in motion.

Halbarad:  I have a question.
Rob:  Yes?
Halbarad:  When the time comes, the elf-wizard there will take us to the
  fortress...but then what?  Are we to appear somewhere near this place
  in the midst of a great battle?  How do we make our assault on the
Rob:  Pallin, would you care to explain?
Pallin:  Certainly.  I forget that we did not fully give the details to
  all present...essentially, it comes to this:  as a wizard and divotee
  of Celestian, whose domain spans space itself, I have a keen knowledge
  about spells and methods of transportation.  I do not take it upon
  myself to move armies, but when it comes to smaller groups such as
  this one, I can take you anywhere...other planes, alternate worlds,
  even to the moon.
Peyote:  No way!
Pallin:  Oh, yes.  In fact, I was just there last week...but I digress.
  When the time comes, I will take us to the general vicinity of the
  fortress, and then _into_ it.
Lyra:  A blind teleport?  That sounds risky.  They could have defensive
  spells in place...teleport blocks, teleport traps.  It's too dangerous.
Pallin:  Such things are inconsequential to the ways of Celestian.  You
  must believe me when I assure you that we will infiltrate the fortress
  without incident.
Deryck:  Well, at least no incident until after we're in.
Pallin:  Precisely.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  This worries me.  As one with fairly deep
  knowledge of the mechanisms of teleportation magic, I can't see how he
  can make these assurances.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  It will be alright.  As one with fairly deep
  knowledge of how wizards-who-have-mastered-a-type-of-magic act, I have
  a strong feeling that this Pallin knows his field.
Mongo:  (chatting with Eyer)  Too bad Yod and those others couldn't come
  along for this...we could use that axe of his.
Eyer:  (smirks)  Don't count Yod Ironbeard out just yet.
Mongo:  Huh?  What does that mean?
Eyer:  Nothing...nothing.
Zephyr:  (eyeing the pale hound, he growls)  Rrrrrrr.
pale hound:  (ignores the tiger)
Derider:  (to Jerome)  You look perturbed.  Are you thinking that you
  should be in charge here, due to your age and wisdom?
Jerome:  (regards Derider, a twinkle in his eye)  Oh, not at all!  This
  sort of thing can be left to the young too, you know.  I'm just glad
  to be out of Greyhawk, out of the Oligarchy, and back in the world for
  a change.  It's been a while...too long a while, really.
Derider:  (nods)  We're definitely far from Greyhawk now.

  So quiet had the elf Limbor been that now, when he stood suddenly,
several of the others were alarmed.

Limbor:  (touching one temple)  I have word from Furyondy.  It is time.

next:      the signal is answered
released:  10/25/01
notes:     Trivia: Jerome Kasinskaia, Patriarch of Rao, actually possesses
  the highest level (19th) of any member of this company.
    This was just a pre-strike episode to show you some of the people who
  haven't been around before.

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