Chapter #882

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2005 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!                                          +
+   Belphanior     15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+   Date:          7/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          midday                                                 +
+   Place:         Parekh's home (exact location unknown)                 +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than              +
+    to be sane and have one's doubts."                                   +
+                                                       - G. B. Burgin    +

                   DCCCLXXXII.  Secrets of the Suel

  Belphanior's group has reconvened after a day of rest (for some) and
research (for others.)  Now, they sit around a large meeting-table, ready
to discuss what they've learned.

Neera:  I'll get right to it:  Nenya and I were able to decipher all of
  the remaining runes.  We also corrected a few that were misinterpreted.
Skektek:  (scowls)
Neera:  (lays out a large sheet of parchment)  Here we go.
Otto:  (nods, impressed)
Belphanior:  The two destroyed gateways..."moor" signified the one in
  Blackmoor and "master" was the one in Xusia's fortress.
Skektek:  Figures.
Neera:  Here are some you've already explored..."muck" for the Pelisso
  Swamp location, "dust" for the Sea of Dust location, home to that mummy
  I keep hearing about.  You know, Nenya had something to say about him.
Belphanior:  She did mention that.
Neera:  I took notes and then compiled it all into a short summary for
Belphanior:  Many thanks.
Neera:  The "ice" rune you've also used, as well as "earth" and "grass."
Ys:  All wonderful adventures, those.
Neera:  Same case for "water" and "depth."
Belphanior:  The "depth" rune matched what we think was the Underdark.
Elgon:  I told you, it _was_ the Underdark.
Belphanior:  (nods)  Okay, okay.
Skektek:  (points to one rune)  That wasn't "cut" or "wound" ?
Neera:  Technically, it translates as "gash", as in a gash in the world,
  the Riftcanyon.
Belphanior:  Aha.
Neera:  You had this one right..."crystal" - but your notes said that was
  a broken gateway.
Skektek:  Yeah.
Belphanior:  Broken, that's putting it lightly.
Neera:  That's eleven...leaving eight you haven't yet explored.  You made
  attempts at five of those eight...four of which were right:  "darkness"
  and "blood" and "tree" and "sun."  This one, however...(she points to
  a mark on her parchment) doesn't mean "lunatic" but rather "moon."
Skektek:  Lunatic...lunacy...Luna.  Dammit.
Neera:  And that leaves three that you couldn't decipher, but we could
  and did:  "king", "iron", and "sleep."
Belphanior:  Excellent.  Outstanding.  (he slaps one fist into his other
  hand.)  Now we at least have a clue about the ones we haven't explored.
Jenna:  Though, really, it doesn't make any difference, since we'll visit
  them all in the end.
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces at this notion)
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  True, but I still feel better this way.
Neera:  More good news:  Nenya and I were also able to identify all three
  of the Suel artifacts you people found in your explorations.
Elgon:  Artifacts?
Belphanior:  Holy shit.
Neera:  No need for cursing - we're just that good.
Skektek:  Tell me that my wand is some kind of powerful weapon...?
Neera:  It's an Elemental Conduit.  You can use it to unleash the fury
  of the primal elements, in quantities great or small.  Fire...water...  With practice, you can even learn to harness the para-
  elements, and the quasi-elements...such as lightning.
Skektek:  (comes as close as he ever has to jumping for joy)
Belphanior:  What of the armor, and the trident?
Neera:  The armor is a legendary suit of mail, fashioned in ages past by
  high priests of the sea-goddess Osprem.  It is most commonly known as
  Plate Mail of the Deep, and its wearer can move and breathe underwater
  as if in dry air.  The armor also allows the wearer to communicate with
  any living thing native to water...and may have other powers.  The
  writings of the sages are unclear on this.
Otto:  What about that trident?
Neera:  It was created by sea elves, perhaps, or some other underwater
Razor Charlie:  (to nobody in particular)  They have sea elves?
Neera:  The trident grants its wielder the power to talk to, and control,
  waterborne creatures.  It can also summon waves, allow the bearer to
  walk on water, and similar powers.
Belphanior:  Too bad we don't have more seagoing adventures.  (he wonders
  if Peyote, Halbarad, and the rest of that group might have been able to
  put the trident to good use)  Hmm.
Otto:  Damn good haul.
Belphanior:  Yeah, but I think the best is yet to come.
Parekh:  How so?
Belphanior:  We know Xusia was going to form a huge army, and spread it
  across the land using the gateways.  No army - even an undead one - can
  function without weapons.
Otto:  Sure they can.  Have you ever seen zombies use swords?  I thought
Belphanior:  I don't mean the foot soldiers...I'm talking about the
  captains, the chiefs, the leaders.  Think:  Xusia was around for
  thousands of years.  He had to have made, or come to possess, untold
  magical weapons, armor, and other items...wands, staves, spellbooks,
  random amulets and rings and scrolls.  If I were him, I'd have kept
  everything, just because he could...until the time came when it was
  needed.  (he raises his arms)  And what better time that his planned
  conquest of the world?
Skektek:  And you think _that_ is the secret loot we're looking for in
  these gateway-places?
Belphanior:  Yes, and with good reason.  (to Otto)  Remember Drusilla's
  journal?  We discussed her notes about this very topic.
Otto:  But she didn't come right out and state that-
Belphanior:  If you read between the lines, she did.
Parekh:  This line of thinking makes sense, but it's important to bear
  in mind that such weapons and items might very well be evil.  You need
  to be careful.
Belphanior:  (clenches a fist and grits his teeth)  I've been possessed
  by an evil relic before.  I know all their they distort
  things, whisper tainted promises in your ear.  I won't fall for the
  same lies again, not ever.
Otto:  That's good to know.
Belphanior:  If any of Xusia's treasures turn out to be dangerous, we'll
  destroy them.  It's that simple.
Ys:  It might not be so simple.  I recall a legend I heard once, about
  a ring...

  The remainder of the day was spent resting, relaxing, and planning for
the next gateway excursion.  There seemed to be eight choices:  tree, sun,
moon, iron, sleep, king, darkness, blood.  Some of these sounded more
promising (and safe) than others, but ultimately, Belphanior had to make
the decision.  He'd let the others know on the morrow, but for now, the
priority was on planning and preparation.  Thanks to Parekh, they would
be able to stock up on rations and drink, healing potions, holy water,
and so forth before they left tomorrow morning.  That left one thing for
the elf to worry about tonight:  strategy.  He wanted to have a definite
and predetermined plan of action - for each member of his team - if they
encountered a powerful opponent such as Al-arakara.  Such planning, he'd
learned over the years, was sometimes best done in private.  This was one
of those times.  He'd run his strategies by the others before they used
the Pelisso Swamp gateway tomorrow...but first he had to develop those

Belphanior:  (takes a large jug of ice-cold water and stands)  I'm going
  to bed early tonight.  I'll see you all tomorrow.  Get plenty of rest;
  you're going to need it.

next:       another gateway, another unknown adventure
released:   7/22/05
notes:      Trivia for you:  this episode, as well as the last four, were
  all written in the space of two days.  878-882 could be considered to
  have come from a single thought block, almost.  I don't do this often,
  but it helps me because now I have a five-week store of material, which
  grants me time to pursue other things, like softball playoffs for three
  of the four teams I played on this spring.

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