Chapter #889

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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                           +
+                                                                         +
+   Drak           14th level human barbarian warrior                     +
+   Neera          11th level human female sage/astrologer                +
+   Parekh         18th level human female wizard                         +
+   Date:          7/6/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          afternoon                                              +
+   Place:         Parekh's home (exact location unknown)                 +
+   Climate:       cool and pleasant                                      +
+   "The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been         +
+    successful, and then only for a short while."                        +
+                                                      - George Baker     +

                   DCCCLXXXIX.  Truth and Consequence

  After splitting up a number of powerful magic items found in one of
Xusia's secret lairs, the adventurers are experimenting with their new

Otto:  (standing in a clearing facing a slab of wood, he fires his new
  crossbow, draws its string back, and fires again)  I like it!
Razor Charlie:  Both bullseyes.
Otto:  Yep.  (he hefts the weapon)  It generates its own bolts, and it's
  easy to draw.  I can probably get twice as many shots off now, in the
  same time it used to take for one.
Razor Charlie:  Yeah.  (he throws his dagger, splitting one of the bolts
  in the wooden slab)  Heh.
Otto:  I don't notice any difference - you always seem to hit when you
  throw a knife.
Razor Charlie:  (shrugs)  Good to know it'll hit anyway.  And it's razor-
  sharp, and magic too.
Otto:  Yeah...I know these bolts, the ones that this crossbow creates,
  aren't magical like that, but who cares?  I don't have to carry around
  any bolts now, except for magically-sharp ones.
Razor Charlie:  Yeah.  (he sprints over to the crude target to retrieve
  his dagger)
Otto:  Damn, that was fast!  She wasn't kidding, that bracer really adds
  some speed.
Razor Charlie:  Could come in handy, in a fight.
Otto:  Most of our new stuff can.  (he frowns, wondering what sort of
  new plans Belphanior might be making)

  The dwarf wasn't worried that those plans might be too ambitious or
dangerous - he was merely worried because he didn't know their exact
nature.  With Belphanior, a powerful new weapon could lead to new
challenges and new enemies; the elf had a remarkable gift for that sort
of thing.

Razor Charlie:  Any luck with that belt?
Otto:  Nothing...I don't feel any stronger or more powerful while I'm
  wearing it - which is really starting to piss me off.  (he sighs)
  Like I said before, I guess I don't qualify as a dwarven hero.
Razor Charlie:  Funny word, "hero."

  Meanwhile, Jenna was having one of the more low-key testing sessions.
Her silver chalice was very useful, but not in this peaceful, safe place.

Elgon:  So you can put water into that cup and it changes into healing
  potion, or holy water?
Jenna:  (nods)  This should take some of the workload off of me, as far
  as healing the wounded or sick.  (she frowns)  However, it looks like
  the limit is thrice per day, and whatever it creates must be used that stockpiling.
Elgon:  Well, that stinks.  (he suddenly changes form, becoming a hawk
  and flying around in circles)  Scree!
Jenna:  How interesting.  (she sets the chalice aside and tries to heft
  the spiked mace, but is barely able to lift it)  What use is a weapon
  that returns, if I can't throw it effectively?  No, this thing will
  definitely have to go.
Elgon-hawk:  (changes back to Elgon, landing deftly on the ground)  And
  that's three times already today.  (he concentrates, his brow furrowing
  with the effort)  Ungh...nope, three's the limit.
Jenna:  I know how you feel.
Elgon:  I doubt that - I just got to fly around like a bird.  It was
Jenna:  Hah, so you must not be too upset that the amulet only seems to
  let you change into animals, and not any monster.
Elgon:  Bah.  Neera and Parekh can't be right on every single item they
Jenna:  That's what I'm afraid of.

  Elsewhere, Skektek was already well on his way to loading up his ring
with the desired spells.  Even though the wizard had only gotten the one
item from the last treasure trove, he still had the Sueloise rod from the
other gateway-place.  His ability to destroy people and things from afar
had increased tremendously in the last week or so, and he was highly

Parekh:  Was its capacity as we predicted?
Skektek:  Better, actually.  I started with the spells I most wanted
  to be able to cast directly from the ring, and worked my way back.
  It's quite an impressive arsenal:  chain lightning, lightning bolt,
  fireball, dispel magic, ice storm.
Parekh:  I sense a theme here.
Skektek:  (smirks)  Naturally.

  The wizard was shrewd, and far from stupid.  He didn't bother to tell
Parekh that the ring actually held a total of _ten_ spells:  the five he
had named, plus death fog, cloudkill, Evard's black tentacles, dimension
door, and magic missile.  This gave his new ring twice the total spell
capacity of "normal" spell-storing rings.  Skektek saw no sense in
revealing all of his secrets, even to a trusted ally such as Parekh.
Of course, Skektek really didn't trust her.

Skektek:  (frowns)  Of course, I'll have to stop wearing either my ring
  of protection or my thunder ring...not to mention my ring of flying I
  also have...but I suppose I can live with that "problem."
Parekh:  I'm sure you'll find a way.

  Parekh figured Skektek wasn't telling her the full truth about his new
ring's capabilities - after all, she'd helped scry the item to determine
its true nature.  Then again, she didn't really care; in her eyes, the
skinny, arrogant wizard standing before her was obsessed with only one
kind of magic.  Magi like Skektek were plentiful in this day and age...
those who thought only of destruction and battle magic.  Parekh had been
there to see more than one such wizard meet his end long before coming
anywhere close to archmage status.  What Skektek did with his time and
energy was his business, but she didn't figure he'd survive more than a
year or two, at the rate he was going.

Skektek:  I don't suppose there's anywhere nearby that I could test a
  spell or two from this ring?
Parekh:  No, not in my home.  I'm sure you'll have the opportunity soon
  enough.  (she turns)  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some things to
  attend to.

  Shortly, the archmage had joined her companion, the barbarian warrior
Drak, in one of their private chambers.

Drak:  Are they liking their new toys?
Parekh:  I suppose so.  (she regards the blade resting in one corner)
  What about yours?
Drak:  Definitely a quality weapon - Bram in particular would have been
  interested.  I figure that sword's light could keep away an army of
  vampires - if not any undead - and if its blade actually hit them...
Parekh:  I'm sure it will come in handy someday.
Drak:  (nods)  I can't believe you settled for only one item.
Parekh:  (shrugs)  What I told Belphanior was the truth; I have no need
  of even more items.  If I did, I'd have found what I needed already.
Drak:  How long are you going to avoid telling Belphanior about your
  secret cabal of archmagi?
Parekh:  A while yet.  He doesn't need to know everything; for now, he's
  serving our ends as well as his own.  Besides, if he finds out about
  Cespedes' change of heart, he might get angry.
Drak:  We wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Parekh:  Agreed.  He's got resourcefulness, power, and the will to carry
  out anything he wants to.  That's a dangerous combination.  There are
  very, very few people below the rank of archmage whose wrath I would
  genuinely fear, but the elf is one of them.

  Meanwhile, Belphanior was in his guest suite, musing about his newest
magical items.  The golem rod wasn't something he could test immediately,
but he wanted to get to that, the sooner the better.  Of course, he
currently lacked a place to call his own, and he certainly didn't want
to bring more than a dozen golems to Parekh's home.  This reinforced an
idea that had been on his mind for some time now:  he needed a new base
of operations, one that he controlled and could visit on his own terms.
He was tempted to utilize one of the gateway-chambers for this, but the
very nature of the teleportation devices made the gateways less than
secure, at least for one's dwelling place.
  As for the so-called Fork of Doom...Belphanior had a hunch about the
spear, a hunch that it possessed great power that he could - and would -
bring to bear eventually.  Parekh's peaceful home, with the fresh grass
and chirping birds, was not a good place to experiment with the weapon.
That would have to wait until some enemies were present, which was never
a problem for the elf and his companions.

Belphanior:  (holds the spear up, examining the triple blades at its
  tip)  The Fork of Doom, eh?
wispy thing:  (floats near the spear's end)  aaarp?
Belphanior:  You said it, pal.

  Just then, Otto burst in, breathing hard and looking panicked.

Belphanior:  What the hell?!?
Otto:  It's Ys!
wispy thing:  sprrd?
Belphanior:  What about him?  What's happened to him?
Otto:  It's better if you just come see.  (he turns and dashes away)

  Very shortly thereafter...

Belphanior:  (joins the others, who are all gathered around the gigantic
  figure)  I don't get it.

  Ys was sitting on the floor of the chamber, his back propped against
the wall.  Atop his head was the horned helmet that had been one of his
choices from the recent treasure trove.  The reptilian appeared to be
perfectly healthy, and was definitely not wounded...but his eyes had
taken on a completely blank look.

Belphanior:  Oh, shit.
Otto:  I see he's got his bracelet on...though I guess it didn't do him
  any good.
Neera:  I warned him about that helmet.  I told him we should spend more
  time working on it, trying to figure out its mysteries.
Skektek:  I'd say we just found out one of them.  The big guy looks
Elgon:  Impossible...feeblemind is a condition that can only happen to
Parekh:  (arrives on the scene)  That's not exactly correct.  There are
  variants and similar conditions that can afflict anybody...even a
  warrior.  (she frowns)  Even a non-human warrior.
Belphanior:  What's wrong with him?
Parekh:  Hard to say - I'm no priestess.  (she turns to Jenna)  I'll
  need your help on this.  (to Belphanior)  We need to move him to a
  more appropriate my laboratory.
Belphanior:  It may take three or four of us.
Otto:  (lifting one of Ys' legs by the ankle)  Unf!  Damn, this sure
  would be a lot easier if my DWARVEN STRENGTH BELT actually worked the
  way a DWARVEN STRENGTH BELT is supposed to work!
Razor Charlie:  (looking around nonchalantly)  Who are you ranting to?
Otto:  (grumbling and grousing)
Parekh:  (finishes a spell, levitating Ys' body into the air)  No more
  bickering - it's handled.

  Soon, the reptilian had been moved to Parekh's laboratory.  During
this process, the helm had fallen off, and Elgon now carried it.

Skektek:  Be sure not to put that on.
Elgon:  Don't worry.
Otto:  At least the helm didn't get magically attached to his head.
Skektek:  Or drill through his skull and start feasting on his mind.
Otto:  (sharply)  That's not funny.
Skektek:  I'm just saying, things could be worse.

  Once Ys' body had been moved onto a large worktable, Parekh and
Jenna insisted that the others leave.

Parekh:  You're just distractions, at this point.
Jenna:  And we really need to concentrate here.
Neera:  (takes the helm from Elgon on his way out)  I'm going to do some
  more scrying on this thing.  Maybe that will reveal some clue that can
  help us.  (to Parekh)  Let me know if you need anything from me.
Parekh:  (nods and waves her hand, causing the laboratory's doors to

next:       prognosis
released:   9/9/05
notes:      Heh.  I bet nobody thought it would be Ys.

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