Chapter #941

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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       +
+   1991-2006 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              +
+   Neera          11th level human female sage/astrologer                +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+                                                                         +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   Date:          10/8/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          afternoon                                              +
+   Place:         the town of Ganarec, in the Hold of the Sea Princes    +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."             +
+                                               - Napoleon Bonaparte      +

                   CMXLI.  Attack At Ganarec

  After flying westward for several days, the group has arrived in the
skies over the remote coastal town of Ganarec.  A scouting party has
descended to survey the situation...

Mongo:  Thanks for letting me come down with the advance party.
Belphanior:  No problem.
Otto:  (peering over the hilltop)  Looks like about two hundred slaves
  here...all of them pretty much working to load lumber into that ship.

  The trio was hiding uphill of the town, in the low hills to its west.
They were several hundred feet from the edge of the settlement and the
nearest guards - not that this place was very heavily guarded.  Only a
few sentries were visible, and these were busy watching over the large
number of dark-skinned prisoners who labored wearily.  Every single one
of the guards was well-armed:  each held a shortbow and had a sword at
his side.  They all wore chain-mail armor of fine quality.  A crude dock
extended out from the eastern side of the town, into the water; a small
frigate was anchored at the end of the platform.

Mongo:  Why would they be loading wood into a ship?
Otto:  He's got a point.  I don't see any lumber operations anywhere in
  the area.
Belphanior:  What they're doing doesn't matter; we need to figure out
  how to get those slaves out of the line of fire, so we can take out
  the slavers quickly and efficiently.
Mongo:  That'll be tough...the two groups are mixed up pretty good.
Otto:  Not to mention all the potential enemies hiding in buildings, who
  we can't see right now.
Belphanior:  (frowns)  Damn.
Mongo:  Or, we could just walk down there and attack only the bad guys.
Otto:  (smirks)  You can't just wander into a hostile town and shrug off
  arrow fire at your leisure, while you attack foes as you please.
Mongo:  Actually, yeah, I can.
Belphanior:  Even if you did, that won't-  (he smiles)  Hmm, this is
  giving me an idea, though.

  A short time later, there was a sudden and loud explosion as a small
building on the northern end of the town exploded.

Mongo:  (catches his hammer, just as the shattered structure collapses
  into a large pile of rubble)  Who's next?  (he spots several guards
  nearby, preparing to fire their bows)  Ah.

  The idea of the dwarf taking out bowmen, one at a time with his hammer,
was ridiculous.  Instead, he focused on larger, more impressive targets.

Mongo:  (hurls Stormcrest at another building, caving in an outer wall
  and showering some nearby foes with debris)

  Several arrows (from other guards) whizzed through the air toward the
dwarf, but these bounced off of his armor, which had been forged by the
gods or at least their agents.  The Coat of Arnd which he wore was an
artifact, virtually indestructible - and its wearer was practically

Mongo:  (throws the hammer again, smashing a small crater in a roughly-
  paved road and driving back several charging guards)

  The dwarf's loud, brash attack had drawn the attention of just about
every guard in town, and only a precious few remained with the laboring
slaves.  This was exactly what Belphanior had hoped for...

Otto:  (takes down one guard with a well-aimed bolt)
Skektek:  (fells two more with a barrage of magic missiles)
guard #4:  (spots the attackers, and realizes that he's suddenly the only
  one left)  What-
Belphanior:  (hasted and invisible, he quickly dispatches the remaining
  guard, and addresses the slaves as he becomes visible, his words made
  comprehensible by another spell cast previously)  You've just gained
  your freedom - follow him and leave this place, as we're about to burn
  it to the ground!  (he gestures to Otto)
Otto:  (points to the southeast, and heads that way along with Ys)
Belphanior:  Go, now - hurry!
wispy thing:  (clearly excited by all of this commotion)  spaaa!

  The mob of prisoners, while seeming confused at first, now hastened to
obey; they moved in a loose formation, following their liberators as
directed.  This left Belphanior to deal with the other guards who now
emerged from various buildings...

Belphanior:  (to Skektek)  Behind you and to your right - looks like the
Skektek:  Got it.  (he launches a lightning bolt, demolishing a dozen
  foes as well as the building they just came from)
Belphanior:  You'd better go aerial - you'll be much less of a target up
Skektek:  Right.  (he takes to the sky, using his magical ring of flying)
Belphanior:  Okay, let's clean up this town.  (he leads Jenna and Elgon
  down the town's main street, toward the sound of Mongo's efforts of

  Elgon had created four illusionary duplicates of himself, and also
wielded a spiritual sickle.  Jenna had summoned a spiritual quarterstaff
with Istus' blessing.  These dual summoned weapons were actually quite
effective, as they could engage foes at a distance.  Several times, some
guard prepared to fire an arrow or charge in with a sword, only to be
felled by one of the summoned force-weapons.  Belphanior did his share
of fighting, too - he dealt with anyone who got past the priests' magic
weapons, perhaps running at the adventurers from another direction.  The
powers of Blackrazor served to bolster Belphanior's strength far beyond
its normal levels, as each slain foe (and he slew them all) increased
the elf's might.  The few minor wounds he suffered while slaying a foe
were quickly healed by the absorbed life-force of the next foe to fall.
In a way, the attackers only hurt themselves, because every one who fell
to that black blade only served to strengthen their enemy.  This was, of
course, why Belphanior preferred to use Blackrazor in battle, and why he
had kept it for many years and many battles.

Belphanior:  (suddenly realizes that there's a conspicuous lack of foes
  all of a sudden)  Eh?
Elgon:  That can't be all of them.  There's no way we killed every guard
  in town.
Jenna:  Something is very wrong here...I can sense it.

  Three things happened, at about the same time, as various plans went
into effect and various counterattacks were executed.  On the northern
side of town, Mongo was startled as the solid earth beneath his feet
suddenly changed into thin, watery mud.

Mongo:  Wha-  (he sinks like a rock)

  At the southeast edge of Ganarec, Otto and Ys didn't realize until it
was too late that the mob of "slaves" had gradually and quietly moved to
surround them...and some of them had now brandished knives of the sort
that were easily concealed beneath loose-fitting tunics.

Otto:  Now what the hell is this?
Ys:  (looking around)  I'd venture to guess that we have been tricked.

  As for Belphanior, Elgon, and Jenna (and the wispy thing) they now
found themselves in a predicament that no spiritual force-weapon and no
soul-sucking sword could help them out of...

Belphanior:  (whirls to see three huge fireballs, coming at them from
  three different directions, each one only mere moments from impact)
  Well, shit.
wispy thing:  sprrd.

next:       the true nature of Ganarec
released:   10/13/06
notes:      Belphanior, as we now see, isn't the only one who can trick
  his foes.  I'll discuss this more, from the bad guys' point of view,
  in the next episode.

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