Chapter #314

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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 1991-5 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                    +
+                          +
+  THE PARTY (or a portion of it):                                  +
+                                                                   +
+  Belphanior   13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief  (CN) +
+  Peldor       19th level human thief                          (N) +
+     Tanya      5th/11th level human female warrior/thief      (N) +
+  Date:        6/6/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        after midnight                                      +
+  Place:       the wilderness south of the Free City of Greyhawk   +
+  Climate:     chilly                                              +
+  "No flesh shall be spared."                                      +
+                                               - from _Hardware_   +

                   CCCXIV.  Third Strike

  Chasing the missing Tanya, Peldor and Belphanior have beaten her
kidnappers and rescued her, only to be faced by a mysterious elven
sorceress and her apparent ally, the nigh-unstoppable iron dwarf!

Peldor:  Oh, shit.
iron dwarf:  (charges, growling with rage and swinging a sharp, twin-
  bladed axe)  RRRAAAARGH!
Belphanior:  (takes to the air, as his spell of flying is still in
  effect; this is an instinct borne of years of spell use)
Peldor:  (lacking this instinct, he meets the charging dwarf with
  his sword)  Uhh...

  Things started happening pretty quickly after that.  Peldor was
knocked away by a single blow from the iron dwarf, and crashed into
the wagon, cracking several of its wooden boards.  Tanya prepared
to face the armored dwarf, but the thing seemed to have its sights
set on Belphanior.

iron dwarf:  GRAAAR!  (leaps skyward, an incredible jump that sends
  him smashing into Belphanior)
Belphanior:  Whoulllf!  (he falls toward the ground, jockeying with
  the iron dwarf to be on top when they hit)
Peldor:  (stirs)  Si's when c- can...he fly?
elven sorceress:  (spellcasting)  Oh, we've taken the liberty of
  adding to his powers.
Tanya:  (dashes over to Peldor, helping him regain his feet)  You
Peldor:  Yeah...
Tanya:  What is that thing?
Peldor:  The iron dwarf...he's practically unstoppable.  It took
  the whole party three tries to stop him last time, and even then
  we couldn't kill him.
Tanya:  (grips her sword's handle)  Well, _that's_ reassuring.
Peldor:  (spots the airborne elven sorceress, busily spellcasting)
  Holy shit!  Where're my daggers?  (he produces his two magical
  throwing blades)  Oh, here they are.
Tanya:  Too late - look!

  The sorceress had completed her spell, judging by the sudden
cessation of hand motions and magical phrases, not to mention the
smug look on her face.  However, nothing seemed to be happening.

Peldor:  Hah!  Didn't work!  (he hurls a dagger at the foe)
elven sorceress:  (laughs as the dagger bounces from her shoulder)
  Your elven friend's not the only one who uses stoneskin, thief!
Tanya:  If only I had a bow...
Peldor:  Don't worry...(he prepares to hurl his other dagger)
elven sorceress:  (grins wildly)  Aha!
Tanya:  Wha-  ?
Peldor:  Uh-oh.

  Next to the two thieves, a pair of monstrous forms materialized
from thin air.  Huge, iron-scaled bulls, fully eight feet high at
the shoulder, these creatures immediately fixed their attention upon
the pair of thieves.

gorgons:  (roaring and stamping in place)  Grrr...
elven sorceress:  Hah hah!  Attack them, my pets!
gorgons:  (charge toward the thieves, bellowing loudly all the while)
Peldor:  (grabs Tanya, and floats into the air)  C'mon.
Tanya:  What...?
Peldor:  Leftover flying spell.  I learn pretty quickly.  (he uses
  his TK ring to lift a detached wagon wheel and send it sailing at
  the elven sorceress)  Maybe this'll knock some sense into her.
elven sorceress:  Aghk!  (she is struck squarely by the thing, but
  her stoneskin protects her from harm)  Damn!  (she barks commands
  at the gorgons)

  Meanwhile, Belphanior was wrestling with the iron dwarf, a losing
proposition if there ever was one.  The foe, while small, was many
times stronger than the elf, and also fought with a fury unmatched
by the best of berserkers.

Belphanior:  (decides to use his eye's bone-melting power, but is
  then hit in the face by the handle of the dwarf's axe)  Ungh!
iron dwarf:  (roars in triumph)
Belphanior:  (snorts, expelling blood)  Fuck!  (kicking outward
  blindly, with both feet, he manages to leap away from the crazed
iron dwarf:  GRAAAR!  (charges forth once more)
Belphanior:  (takes to the air, positioning himself behind the
  elven sorceress to give himself some cover while he regains his
iron dwarf:  (looks like he's about to leap, but then runs around on
  the ground, trying to get a straight shot to Belphanior)

  Nearby, in the air, Peldor and Tanya were trying to figure out a
feasible attack plan.  Since the only illumination was the light of
the half-moon, in the night sky above, both humans were having a
more difficult time seeing than any of the other combatants.  It
was all they could do to keep clear of the various deadly attacks
that were arrayed against them...

gorgon#1:  (breathes a cone of green gas at the pair)
Peldor:  Whoa!  (he flies away from the cloud, pulling Tanya with
  him)  What a gas.
Tanya:  Whew...what was that stuff?
Peldor:  I don't know, and I don't want to find out.  (he drops
  Tanya off atop the wagon)
Tanya:  What are you doing?!?
Peldor:  I seem to be the target here, not you.  Besides, together
  we're giving them a chance to kill two birds with one stone!
Tanya:  But-
Peldor:  No buts - try and backstab the ground-based foes, if you
  can.  (he flies away)  I'll see what I can do up here in the air.
elven sorceress:  Hmm.  (she works her next spell upon the airborne
  thief, causing the air around him to shimmer)
Peldor:  (finds Belphanior's flying spell negated)  Yie!  (he begins
elven sorceress:  (grinning evilly)  Sorry about that.
Peldor:  (no longer falling, he floats gently to the ground, courtesy
  of one of his magical tattoos)
elven sorceress:  (looks confused)
Peldor:  Heh.
gorgon#2:  Grrrr...
Peldor:  (looking around)  Uh-oh.
gorgon#2:  (breathes a cone of noxious green breath upon the stunned
  thief)  Uuurp!
Peldor:  <cough>
Tanya:  (using her boots of speed, she sprints toward gorgon#1, the
  nearer of the two, and leaps astride it, stabbing it in the neck
  before it can react)  Die!
gorgon#1:  (roars in pain as dark blood spurts from the gaping wound)
  Rrrrrrrarrrr!  (it bucks wildly)
Tanya:  (thrown from the monster's back, she lands deftly and takes
  cover, rolling under and behind the wagon as the gorgon chases her)
gorgon#1:  Grrrrr!  (smashes into the wagon, toppling it and freeing
  its horses, who are only too glad to run away into the night)
Tanya:  (narrowly escapes being crushed by the wagon)
gorgon#1:  (succumbs to its mortal wound, and falls, dying)  Rrrr...
Peldor:  (stands, groggily)  Agh...
gorgon#2:  (charges, ramming the thief)
Peldor:  Ungh!  (he sails ten feet or so, landing roughly on the
  ground, bruised and bleeding)  Argh!
elven sorceress:  Hah!  Lay there on the ground, where you belong!
Belphanior:  (sails at the woman, slashing)  Die!
elven sorceress:  (staggers, but is not wounded)  Ow!
Belphanior:  Stoneskin, eh?  Well, we can take care of that.  (he
  raises his sword again)
iron dwarf:  GRAARGH!  (leaps into the air, knocking Belphanior away)
Belphanior:  (being propelled away)  Fuck, not againnnnnn...
elven sorceress:  (spellcasting once more)
Tanya:  (dashes forth, slashing at gorgon#2)
gorgon#2:  (wounded, it turns to face this new opponent)
Peldor:  (gets to his feet yet again)
gorgon#2:  (pawing the ground before it)  Grrr...
Tanya:  (taunts the monster, bloody sword raised)  Come on!  Come
  and get me!
gorgon#2:  (loses patience, and charges madly)  Raarrrg!
Tanya:  (times her jump, and leaps up as the gorgon passes by under-
  neath)  Heh!  (she lands, slashing the beast in the hindquarters)
gorgon#2:  (roars in rage)
iron dwarf:  (having landed atop Belphanior, it raises its axe)
Belphanior:  (stabs the foe, sinking his sword-point into the eye-
  slit in the dwarf's otherwise-sealed helmet)  Chew on _that_!
iron dwarf:  RAAAAARGH!  (it begins leaping about in rage and pain,
  blood seeping from its helmet's eye-slit)  RRRAAAARGH!
Belphanior:  Die, fucker!  (he slashes at the foe again, from behind,
  knocking the armored dwarf to the ground)  Heh.
elven sorceress:  (casts a spell on Belphanior, cloaking his head in
  a foot-wide sphere of darkness)  Try that again, without eyesight.
Belphanior:  Hey!  (he begins walking around, swinging his sword
  blindly)  What the hell...?
elven sorceress:  Let's see you use all your much-vaunted powers
  _now_, elf!
iron dwarf:  (recovers, and turns to face Belphanior, who is stumbling
  about)  GRAAAR!
Belphanior:  Uh-oh.
Peldor:  (using his ring to pick up the iron dwarf, he sends it flying
  toward the airborne elven sorceress)
elven sorceress:  Oh, damn-

  The two foes collided with a loud crunching sound, then fell to the
ground heavily.

Tanya:  Nice move!
Peldor:  Thanks...hey, watch out!
gorgon#2:  (charging at Tanya again)
Tanya:  (leaps aside, but is still grazed by one horn, and falls,
  bleeding from a wound under one arm)  Argh!
gorgon#2:  (continues its charge, heading for Peldor)
Peldor:  Whoa!  (he leaps and rolls, avoiding the monster's charge)
gorgon#2:  (spots Belphanior, and heads for him, barely missing a
  beat)  Grrrrrr!
Tanya:  (getting to her feet)  Use your ring to stop that thing!
Peldor:  I'm trying...but it's too heavy!  Must be that metallic
  hide it's covered with.
gorgon#2:  (rams Belphanior, knocking him down)
Belphanior:  Argh!  (falls, his own stoneskin long since used up)
  Fucker...(his head still sheathed in the infernal blackness, he
  struggles to stand, listening for the beast's sounds as he waves
  his sword slwoly about)  Come and get some...

  The elf was thankful that he had some experience with blind-
fighting, and also that he had begun tying his sword to his wrist
before going into battle.  This latter practice had been born after
the fateful battle with Torin, in Helgate.  Belphanior didn't want
to be disarmed, ever again.  Unfortunately, the gorgon wasn't much
worried about his sword.

gorgon#2:  (breathes upon the elf)
Belphanior:  (surrounded by the rancid green vapor)  <cough>  (he
  becomes very still)
Tanya:  Look!
Peldor:  Oh, crap.

  As they watched, the elf's body transformed into dead, grey stone!
The gorgon looked at its immobilized opponent with whatever level of
satisfaction its animal brain could comprehend, then turned to face
Peldor and Tanya.

gorgon#2:  Grrrrrrr...(it paws the ground)
Peldor:  Take cover...behind the wagon!
Tanya:  What then?
Peldor:  Lemme dig into my bag of tricks...(he begins searching his
elven sorceress:  (lying on the ground, moaning)  Ungh...
iron dwarf:  (recovers, and stands, scanning the area for its foes)
  RARRGH!  (it spots the two thieves, and charges at the wagon)
Peldor:  Quick, back up!  This wagon won't stop him!

  They backed away hastily, keeping their eyes on the wagon, beyond
which the charging dwarf wasn't visible, by virtue of his stature.
They could still hear him, though, his roars heralding his approach.
Then, without warning, the wagon nearly shattered as the dwarf plowed
through it.  Debris - chunks of wood, metal flanges, shreds of cloth,
bits of the wagon's harness - flew in all directions.

Tanya:  Argh!  (struck in the head by a large piece of wood, she falls
  to the ground, unmoving, her head streaming blood)
Peldor:  Tanya!  Damn...(he uses his ring to lift her body, moving it
  through the air and into a nearby thicket of bushes)

  The thief's nobility and love were his undoing, for in seeing that
Tanya was moved safely out of harm's way, he left himself open to the
impending attack.  The iron dwarf tackled him, pummeling wildly as it
bore the thief to the ground.

Peldor:  Ungh!
iron dwarf:  RAARGH!  (it mercilessly punches at the prone form under
  it)  GRAAARR!
elven sorceress:  (approaches, wounded but alive)  Stop!
iron dwarf:  RAAARGH?  (it halts its fusilade of blows)
elven sorceress:  We need him alive.
iron dwarf:  (roars in defiance)  GRAARG!
elven sorceress:  (holds up a small talisman of iron, set with a huge
  ruby; the gem pulses with magical power)  I said alive!  You _will_
iron dwarf:  (reluctantly stands, leaving the battered, bloody form
  of Peldor alone)  RRR.
elven sorceress:  Now...take the elf and bring him here, to me.
iron dwarf:  (obeys, grabbing the stone figure of the elf roughly)
elven sorceress:  Carefully, you moron!

  Momentarily, the armored dwarf stood next to her, the limp form
of Peldor draped over one shoulder.  The stony statue that had been
Belphanior rested between the dwarf and the elven sorceress; the
latter was now spellcasting.  A small black sphere formed, and grew
to larger proportions.  Had Arnold been present, he would have noted
that the sphere was rather similar to another he had seen recently.

iron dwarf:  (regards the surviving gorgon)  RRRR...
elven sorceress:  (turns to the monster)  Ah, yes.  Well, the battle
  is over, so...
gorgon#2:  (vanishes)
iron dwarf:  (turns to look at the demolished wagon)  RRR.
elven sorceress:  Curious today, are we?  Perhaps you're wondering
  about the lackeys we used to bring the bait?  No matter, they are
  dead.  They served their purpose, anyway.
iron dwarf:  (in the depths of its mind, it senses some manner of
  unfinished business)  RRR!
elven sorceress:  Or perhaps you're wondering if the woman still
  lives...again, no matter.  We're not here for her, and we haven't
  the time to go chasing after her in any case.  One never knows when
  these adventurers' friends might show up...and I shall not fail
  like that fool Potas Potay.
iron dwarf:  RRRRRR.
elven sorceress:  You're not really understanding a word I'm saying,
  are you?

  The pair of villains, along with their two prisoners, summarily
vanished into the black sphere, which then shrunk rapidly, finally
blinking out of existence.

  Some time later, Tanya awoke and sat up.  That was a mistake,
a painful one, and she laid back down gingerly.  Checking her
wounds, she found that none were critical, and she hastily bound
them while scanning the area.  She remembered being hit by some
flying object - indeed, that wound had bled ferociously, but it
looked worse than it was, and she used a strip torn from her tunic
to wrap her forehead.  Finally, she stood, surveying the carnage
nearby.  Tanya made her way over to the wrecked wagon, but found
no sign of Peldor or Belphanior.  Indeed, all her foes, save the
slain gorgon and the two thugs who had driven the wagon, had
vanished.  There weren't even any tracks leading away, and she
made a mental note of this.  It would seem that magic had been
a major factor in the escape.
  Tanya poked through the remains of the wagon, checking to see
if the ruffian who had accompanied her within the wagon still
lived.  He didn't, which was just as well for him, since she had
been planning to castrate him and feed him his own genitals.
Leaving the wreck of the wagon, Tanya made a last cursory check
of the area.  She then began walking northward, backtracking the
route by which the wagon had traveled.  She was injured, anxious,
and extremely worried, but there was nothing else to do besides
begin the long march back to Greyhawk.

next:   more dastardly deeds
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  This never occurred to me before, but I suppose Tanya
  would've been a thief-acrobat under the old 1st edition rules.

  Rather than do 30+ episodes' worth of fan mail all at once, I've
been splitting it up.  This time we've got feedback on episodes #281
to #286 (Rillen and Peldor/Tanya/drow) plus some miscellany:

>>  I've really enjoyed the Belphanior and Otto stories, and the one
>>  where Rillen is at the monastery and finds the medallion was great.
>> Just read the "coda", looking forward to more. (How do you write so
>> fast?)
>>    Glen

>>  The wrap-up of the Belphanior story was well done - the prolonged
>>  sword fight was excellent.
>>  The Rillen story is shaping up to be something different: very
>>stark and somber, with a good mixture of anticipation and dread.
>>Has Rillen wandered into an anti-magic zone, or is there something
>>about his figurine that he (and we, or at least me, I don't have his
>>inventory descriptions handy) doesn't know? If he's in an anti-magic
>>zone, will his magical staff still work?
>>  Leonard

>>  It's been a long time since I've sent you a letter about the
>series, but I felt it necessary to let you know I am really enjoying
>>the Solo adventures of Rillen and Belphanor.  Otto adds a lot more
>>than a casual glance would suspect, and the stories are much richer
>>in detail than some of the past solo adventures.
>>  Being a regular reader since episode 72, I have to say I have yet
>>to be disappointed in in your epic.

>>  First, a word of appreciation for your storylines, they are
>>excellent, and I enjoy them immensely. (To you point of checking
>>the newsgroup as sson as I can each day... :).
>>  In any event, I noticed you 'plea for assistence' at the end of
>>episode 282, and as a die-hard fan of non-dying Highlanders, I'd
>>like to offer whatever help I'm able.
>>  PS: Favorate character: Belphanior, with Peldor and Otto tied for
>>second.  Though I applaud your handling of Ged's financial and other
>>landed concerns. Keep it up! :)
>>                                   --Jon

>>  I have really liked the Belphanior/Otto and Rillen stories.  They
>>have all been very entertaining and well written.
>>  Thanks,
>>  Marcus

>>  There's something satisfying, almost cleansing about a revenge
>>story. This was a good portrayal of Rillen's personality: no
>>nonsense, get down and do it.
>>  Leonard

>>  Interestingly enough, as I perceive the situation, Rillen is not
>>altogether complete in his task.  First, he would do well to
>>complete his skills and rebuild the temple of his master and carry
>>on the teachings.  It is only when you have passed on your knowledge
>>that your life has completed the circle...
>>But beyond that, Rillen may realize that the mystery behind these
>>ninja's is not I would guess, that they came and went with
>>the milennia.  Destorying this band may be similar to stopping the
>>symptoms of an illness.  you may feel better, but it is likely that
>>the sickness will return.
>>Just some random thoughts.

>>  Well, the fact that they vanished in vapour may mean that they
>>aren't dead, or aren't all dead: they could become a recurring
>>theme that plagues Rillen (similar to the drow priestess (whose
>>name I forget)). Then, the possession of the amulet would allow a
>>mage or priest to "legend lore" and get information about the sect.
>>All in all, very good: although I feel slightly anti-climactic...
>>perhaps because we don't learn who they were, or why they acted.

  Yep, that effect was intentional!     :)

>>  The story was fantastic. It seems Rillen feels his quest is
>>completed. But, please, let him discover later (even by chance)
>>the identity of the daemon ninjas.
>>Best regards,

  In time...

>>  Good job ... the laid-back feel of the episode is _just right_.
>>Nothing jumps out as being off key ...
>>           Vince

>>    I thought sure that 284 was going to be about Belphanior
>>  installing himself as lord of the town, now that the old dictator
>>  is gone...doesn't matter.  This is just as good a story as that
>>  would be.
>>  Kent

>>  Good Episodes.  Relaxing after all the bloodshed.  It is always
>>nice to see new depth in characters.
>>  Marcus

>>  Good job.  Almost the perfect crime. :-)  It's nice to see Peldor
>>with another very skilled partner.  How about a background on Tanya?

  By now, I've done that background...hope it was enjoyed by all...

>>  The Peldor takes a vacation story line is quite good, and the
>>surprise of Peldor deciding to steal the crown was quite enjoyable.
>>Heh. It's good to see him continue with his, um, special skills.
>>  It's a good thing Bosco wasn't there: I'm sure he would have
>>claimed credit in front of half the town for stealing the crown.
>>  If Atlanta's winning is what it takes to keep you writing, then
>>I'm chearing for Atlanta!

  Well, the World Series is over with now, but it definitely boosted
my spirits, which in turn boosted my writing.

>>  Hiya Tom,

>>  I have been reading the adventurers since Ged and Mongo's return
>>to the suel city. and have really enjoyed the series.  I recently
>>ftped the whole thing and spent two weeks reading it from begining
>>to end.  WOW!  This stuff is great.  As my first official fan mail
>>I have to say that my favorite villan was the iron dwarf.  I wonder
>>when he is going to finally get out of his new tomb?

  By now, you know...    :)

>>    My favorite character by far is Aldinyar (sp?)  The man simply
>>  has more balls than anyone else in the entire party.  I mean
>>  cracking a staff of the magi over your knee?  Belphanor may be
>>  psycho and Peyote (who is also a favorite) was a little wild with
>>  the wond of wonder, but this is a whole new order of magnitude.
>>  He also comes up with the best plans and tricks, somthing more
>>  complex then charge it head first or rain fiery doom upon it.
>>  In case you couldn't guess, I would like to see more stories about
>>  Aldinyar and Lyra, and of courese Peoyte.  I also like Arnold, he
>>  was great in the werewolf episode.
>>              Salutations from Mt. Kolvir,
>>                      Dave, Marie and Morgan

>>  I seem to recall that Peldor started out with no memory of his
>>  past.  Was this ever addressed?  And if not, since Peldor has
>>  at one time or another claimed to be a god, why hasn't a god
>>  shown up and claimed Peldor was once a god, and tried to get
>>  him and the Adventurers to do some highly dangerous stupid
>>  things?  8-)
>>  Rob

  Nope, I haven't addressed it yet, because I feel that a mystery
is probably better than anything I could invent.

>>  Whatever happened to the wispy thing? Did I miss the episode
>>where something happened?
>>  Michel

  Loose end on my part.

>>  Had to contribute after a long pause...
>>  Belphanior's sojourn
>>  It was well written, I particularly liked the atmosphere of
>>Helsgate; little oppression and poverty goes long way. I presume
>>Dark Ring was destroyed in the duel because someone suggested how
>>everything went too smoothly for Adventurers? Still, one ring is
>>little when one thinks treasure Dagron Larthos was bound to have..
>>Helsgate could be ideal place for Belphanior and Otto to settle
>>down..though Angus and anti-magic sphere should be brought there,
>>of course.
>>One thing that has been nagging my mind of late: Belphanior's spells.
>>Is it just me or has Belph been using greater than 1st level spells
>>late (excluding Stoneskin) ? Of course he's prone to hack things up
>>and use his cool items but still...
>>  VP

>>  G'day Thomas!
>>  It is so refreshing to read your stories again after such a long
>>time without an Internet account (6 months). I can see that you are
>>just getting better and better!
>>Keep up the good work!
>>  SSS

>>  Hi Tom,
>>What a great birthday present you just gave me - I found 5 episodes
>>waiting for me in the newsgroup.  I always look forward to getting
>>home, relaxing and reading the latest adventures in my comfy chair.
>>A great way to wind down after work!
>>  Stuart

Glad to hear it!

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