Chapter #292

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic II      +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1995 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons     +
+  or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  +
+  Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only   +
+  under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or    +
+  sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them...         +
+                                                                   +
+                                  Thomas Miller                    +
+                          +
+  Belphanior  13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN/E) +
+     Otto     6th/8th level dwarven warrior/thief           (CN)   +
+  Date:        2/28/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the town of Helgate, within the Clatspur Mountains  +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "I'm no leader.  I do what I have to do, and sometimes people    +
+   follow me."                                                     +
+                        - Stu Redman, from _The Stand_ miniseries  +

                       CCXCII.  Reflections

  A week has passed since the cave-in at the mines, and Belphanior's
rescue of the trapped workers.  Things have calmed down, for the most
part, and the people of Helgate have settled back into their normal
routines.  Belphanior is visiting the cobbler, to have one of his
pairs of boots repaired.

Belphanior:  (reclining on a plush leather-lined chair)  How long
  will this take?
Jamaine:  (the cobbler, a middle-aged fellow with close-cropped grey
  hair)  Hmm...heavy walking boots, eh?  Not long at all, mayor.
Belphanior:  Just call me "Belphanior", or even "sir".  I don't tend
  to think of myself as a politician.
Jamaine:  Well, most politicians don't gain power by slaying their
  predecessors, sir.
Belphanior:  You have a point.
Jamaine:  (eyes one of Belphanior's damaged boots)  Been walking on
  sharp, rocky slopes, have you?
Belphanior:  Yep.  (he eyes the man)  You're astute.  And clever.
  (he frowns)  Maybe too clever.
Jamaine:  (shrugs)  To survive for long in a town like Helgate, one
  must be very clever.
Belphanior:  I'll grant you that.  (he eyes the cobbler shop)  So
  how long have you been in business here, anyhow?
Jamaine:  Six years.  You're not thinking of taking over the shop,
  are you?
Belphanior:  Eh?
Jamaine:  ...because I'm getting close to retirement age, and have
  no heirs.
Belphanior:  Too bad.  (shakes his head)  No, I'm not here to take
  over your shop.
Jamaine:  (snaps his fingers)  Darn.
Belphanior:  Besides, I have more important things to do, like run
  this town.
Jamaine:  Yeah...Dagron was a decent mayor, I suppose, in his own
Belphanior:  So I hear.
Jamaine:  He did have his faults, though.  He was much too ruthless
  for anyone's liking.
Belphanior:  (smirks)  Give me a while.
Jamaine:  (ignores this comment)  Dagron was more of a bully-type
  leader.  Oh, sure, he could fight with the best of them.  But, he
  always had his men running around, poking their heads into other
  people's affairs.  He ruled by fear, moreso than power.
Belphanior:  Interesting.  Six years, eh?  How long ago did Dagron
  show up?
Jamaine:  (knits his brow)  Hmm...three years, give or take a month.
  It was back in the summer of '72...well, hell, even the summers
  here are like most places' winters.
Belphanior:  I know.  The climate here really agrees with me.
Jamaine:  Not for the warm-blooded, that's for sure.  (he regards
  the elf)  Why are you here?
Belphanior:  To get my boots repaired.
Jamaine:  No, I mean, why are you here in Helgate?
Belphanior:  You're asking pretty personal questions.  You'd better
  be sure you're ready for the answers.
Jamaine:  Didn't mean any offense.
Belphanior:  Of course not.  (he eyes the street outside, memories
  running through his mind)  I came here to get away...
Jamaine:  Running from your past, eh?
Belphanior:  (looks angry, his eye glowing)  No.  I never run.  I
  simply choose not to fight, occasionally, which isn't the same
Jamaine:  (notices the elf's glowing eye now, for the first time)
  Again, no offense intended.  I, myself, came here because of some
  trouble in another city.
Belphanior:  Oh?
Jamaine:  I was caught sleeping with the mayor's daughter.
Belphanior:  Ah!  A man after my own heart!  (he thinks for a moment)
  Hmm, I have no daughters.
Jamaine:  No matter - you have centuries left.
Belphanior:  I do, don't I?
Jamaine:  Yep.  (holds up Belphanior's boots)  All done...
Belphanior:  (surprised)  Not only are you quick, but you kept me
  talking while you quietly repaired my boots.  Fascinating.
Jamaine:  (shrugs)  Older people have much more to talk about.
Belphanior:  You're right.  (takes his boots)  How much for this?
Jamaine:  You're not running up indefinite tabs, like Dagron?
Belphanior:  I'm not Dagron, if that's what you mean.
Jamaine:  It'll be one gold talon.
Belphanior: should be a single standard
  minted coin for all to use.  (he hands the old cobbler two golden
  coins)  My thanks for a job well-done.
Jamaine:  You're welcome, and feel free to bring your other footwear
  to me.  I can fix anything.
Belphanior:  How about magical boots?
Jamaine:  Hmm...given magical leather, yes, I can.
Belphanior:  We'll meet again.  Farewell.  (he leaves the shop)
Jamaine:  (silently stares after the elf)

  Meanwhile, Otto was busy directing traffic in the vicinity of his
suite in the Raven's Nest.

Otto:  (pointing as he directs a hefty porter)  Put that table in
  the corner, there.  (to another man)  And the chairs go next to
porters:  (obeying)

  Not content with the suite's original decorations, Otto had been
appropriating furniture, tapestries, and such articles for several
days.  Most of these items came from the late Dagron's house, as Otto
realized that the man no longer had any use for them, and his taste
in fine art couldn't be disputed.  The furnishings had finally begun
to be delivered, today, and he had to make sure that nobody broke

Otto:  (unrolls one tapestry, which depicts a bloody battle of ages
  past)  Ah, this'll look good on that wall.
porter:  (carries a rack of spears into the room)  Where d'you want
  these, guv?
Otto:  Uh, put them by that wall, there.

  The dwarf turned his attention to a fragile box, one he had carried
up himself.  This package had come from the local alchemist's shop.
That fellow, a wizened old sage named Yrbel, had seemed surprised at
Otto's list of herbs, potions, and poisons, but had been able to fill
the majority of the order.  The old man was quite a talker, and had
informed Otto of various places near Helgate, places where certain
roots, plants, and other substances could be found.  The dwarf had
been muchly pleased, and had left old Yrbel's shop with the feeling
that he (and even Belphanior) would be doing a lot of business there
in the future.

Otto:  (carefully opens the small wooden box, eyeing the various
  bottles, jars, and boxes within)  Ah...(he turns around, watching
  the porters carry in other things, then mutters to himself)  As
  soon as these goons are done, I'll set up the poison shop.
porter:  'Scuse me, sir.  Where's this glassware go?
Otto:  Hmm, I didn't buy that.  It must be Belphanior's.  (to the
  man)  Put that in front of that other door, in the hall there.
porter:  Right.
Otto:  (returns his attentions to the box of rare substances)

  Elsewhere in Helgate - specifically, the Witches' Tit, Helgate's
singular house of ill repute - the prostitute Candice is having a
chat with her good friend and younger co-worker Leanne.

Leanne:  ...and you're seeing _him_?!?
Candice:  Well, "seeing" is one way to put it.
Leanne:  (clearly awed)  The most powerful man in Helgate...
Candice:  He's no man, but an elf...though he acts more like a man.
Leanne:  Yeah...I thought elves were supposed to be skinny little
Candice:  Not Belphanior.  He's...(she looks puzzled)  Well, he's
  the most...virile person I've ever known.  He's got the strength
  and stamina of a bull.
Leanne:  (nods)  Lucky you.
Candice:  But it's more than that.  He's-  it's like he's a blazing
  torch, full of  I've never known someone so intense.
Leanne:  Hmm.
Candice:  It's not really a positive kind of energy, but gods, is it
  powerful.  I'm...drawn to him.  I was from the first moment he
  touched me.
Leanne:  Sounds like a guy I need to meet.
Candice:  Don't even think about it.  I've got a good thing going
  right now, and you're not gonna screw it up.
Leanne:  (holds up her hands in a placating gesture)  Hey, I didn't
  mean that.  Don't worry about me.
Candice:  I won't, then.  Hmm, maybe you could meet Belphanior's
Leanne:  That dwarf?  (she looks mildly disgusted)
Candice:  Since when did you pick and choose?  Besides, those two
  practically rule Helgate.  I mean, they're _it_.
Leanne:  We'll see.
Candice:  Okay, just let me know...(her thoughts drift back to her
  recent time with Belphanior)

next:   a brief foray elsewhere, as Peldor and crew return home
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  Something really interesting just happened.  I was sitting
  here in my apartment, somewhere in the Belphanior-Jamaine talk,
  and someone knocked at my door.  Now, it's after 10 pm, and I
  have very few surprise visitors, so this is unusual.  It turned
  out to be a couple, letting me know that they held a religious
  service regularly, in their apartment.  I didn't get all the
  details, but they were polite enough once I told them I wasn't
  a religious person.  Weird, huh?  At least for me.  It wouldn't
  be the first thing this week.
    Yesterday, I was riding to lunch with a co-worker and we saw
  a car that had no apparent engine.  It didn't even have a hood,
  and there were plastic bottles in its engine compartment.  The
  car of the future, running on water?  We thought not.  Shortly
  after that, we saw a traffic light mounted on the side of the
  interstate.  Weird stuff abounds if you just look.
    Wait, there's more.  The other morning, I was eating breakfast
  before leaving for work, and I turned on the TV, and G.I. Joe
  was on.  So there I am, eating and checking the TV guide to see
  what to program my VCR to tape while I'm at work that day, and
  the background noise of G.I. Joe is going on.  Then I hear this
  voice - the voice of the Crypt Keeper, that little zombie-guy
  who hosts "Tales From the Crypt" and makes really corny puns.
  So I look up at the TV, but it's not the Crypt Keeper, it's
  Cobra Commander.  The same guy does both voices!
    Okay, enough for now.  I trust I've made my point.

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