Chapter #398

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                                +   +
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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 1991-6 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:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Alindyar     17th level drow mage                            (N) +
+  Lyra         13th level female drow mage                     (N) +
+  Otto         8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief            (CN) +
+                                                                   +
+  SPECIAL (IF UNINVITED) GUEST:                                    +
+                                                                   +
+  Whisper      the deadliest assassin around                       +
+  Date:        4/4/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        early, several hours before dawn                    +
+  Place:       Alindyar and Lyra's mansion, in Greyhawk            +
+  Climate:     chilly                                              +
+  "Trust me."                                                      +
+  "I don't trust anyone anymore."                                  +
+                                 - from the _Knight Rider_ pilot   +

                CCCXCVIII.  Rogues in the House

  As if recent events weren't harrowing enough, Otto now faces
Whisper - the deadliest assassin in the lands - before he's even
had a chance to warn Alindyar and Lyra.

Whisper:  (moves in silently)
Otto:  (sets himself, sword poised)  If this is how it has to be...
  come on, then!

  The dwarf feared no man or beast, but he knew, and had witnessed,
Whisper's skill at arms.  It was also probable that the killer's blade
was poisoned, meaning that even the slightest nick would mean certain
doom.  Before there was time to contemplate matters further, the lithe,
black-garbed assailant glided forward, sword poised...

voice:  STOP!
Whisper:  (suddenly engulfed, ankle to neck, within a monstrous
  hand of glowing energy)  ...
Otto:  (whirls about)  It's about time you showed up!

  Alindyar and Lyra stood at the room's door, the former holding
a small rod whose tip was a shriveled, clenched hand.  Both were
dressed in night-robes.  Neither looked happy.

Alindyar:  Nobody dies in my home unless I wish it.
Otto:  (eyeing the immobilized Whisper)  Believe me, that's the best
  news I've heard all night.
Lyra:  (sniffing the air)  What's that _smell_?
Otto:  Oh, that would be me.  I've been in the sewers below Greyhawk
  for the past day and night.
Alindyar:  I...see.
Lyra:  You two had better have a damned good explanation for this!
  Breaking, entering, and then trying to kill one another...
Alindyar:  Aye.
Otto:  (points at the black-clad assassin with his sword)  Ask him.
  _I_ came here to warn you.
Lyra:  Is that why you broke in?  (to Alindyar)  I told you we should
  have set the wall of electricity trap tonight, before going to bed.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  Perhaps you were onto something there.  (he uses
  his summoned force-hand to move Whisper closer)  What about this,
  speechless one?
Whisper:  (remains silent)
Otto:  This is the same guy who helped us, way back when you were
  kidnapped and we came to rescue you.  Remember, in the big battle
  in the island-castle?
Lyra:  Oh?
Alindyar:  (not remembering too well, since he was one of the rescued
  rather than one of the rescuers)  Hmm.
Otto:  Wendell, Whisper, whatever your name'd better start
  talking to us.
Whisper:  What is there to say?
Lyra:  Well, you could start by telling us what this is all about.
Whisper:  Impossible.  I never divulge details of a contract.  And
  I never fail to fulfill one.
Otto:  Listen, dammit!  Your employer - let me guess, it's that Org
  Nenshen fellow, isn't it?
Whisper:  (says nothing, and reveals nothing)
Otto:  (sighs)  Perhaps the time has come to tell the whole story.
Alindyar:  Aye, I would say that time has definitely arrived.

  Otto sheathed his sword, and made ready to plop down in a plush
chair.  Lyra, however, stopped him long enough to toss a thick blanket
over the expensive furniture.

Lyra:  (sternly)  I don't want sewer-muck in our house.
Otto:  Whatever.

  The dwarf finally took the seat, and proceeded to relate the entire
sequence of events from the last twenty hours or so.  Both the drow
and Whisper listened intently, the latter still immobilized by the
magical hand.  The tale took a good while to tell, and when Otto was
finally done, he rubbed his throat wearily.

Otto:  I sure could use a drink.  You got anything strong around here?
Lyra:  (snaps her fingers, and a decanter appears on an endtable, its
  transparent glass revealing dark brown contents)
Otto:  Much obliged.  (he takes the cup which materialized with the
  container, and fills it with the liquor)  So that's what happened.
  (he chugs the entire glass in a moment)  Ah, whiskey!
Alindyar:  We tend to keep a variety of drinks in stock.
Lyra:  I guessed you might like that foul stuff.
Otto:  Oh, I do.
Alindyar:  Let me understand this correctly.  Peldor ventured into
  the lair of Org - who may or may not be a shapeshifter?
Otto:  He's _got_ to be a shapeshifter!  All the evidence points to
  it!  You two of all people should see this-
Lyra:  It does seem likely, I'll grant you that...
Alindyar:  And the others...Mongo, Belphanior, Bosco - they are lost
  within the sewers?
Otto:  Right you are.  We were going to go back and rescue them, but
  one thing led to another, and, well...
Lyra:  (to Whisper)  You may not tell us whether or not it was Org
  who hired you, but now you know all the facts.  I'd suggest that
  you think about this and begin putting the pieces of the puzzle
  together.  I'm sure you're far from stupid.
Whisper:  (says nothing)
Lyra:  Are you even listening?
Whisper:  (says nothing)
Alindyar:  (tightens the Bigby-hand's grip slightly, evoking a grunt
  of pain from the trapped killer)  When she talks, you listen!
Whisper: possible that strange things may be afoot here.
Otto:  Should Org indeed turn out to be a shapeshifter, would it then
  follow that your contract on me is null and void?
Whisper:  You pose an interesting question.  Never before have I been
  in such a situation.
Otto:  Well, I need to know if you plan to track and kill me, if you
  are let go.
Alindyar:  (glaring at Whisper)  If.
Otto:  Then again, I could just walk over there and slit your throat
  right now...
Whisper:  (tenses, ever so slightly)

  The assassin had many tricks at his disposal, but caught as he was,
he couldn't use any of them right now.  Once the force-hand let go,
however, things could most definitely change.  Whisper watched with
some degree of fascination as Lyra moved to block Otto, when the dwarf
took a step in the assassin's direction.

Lyra:  As Alindyar said, nobody dies here unless we wish it.
Otto:  (somewhat angry)  If he plans to pursue me, I'm better off
  just killing him now!  I don't want to have-
Alindyar:  Don't press your luck.
Whisper:  (surprises everyone by speaking up suddenly)  You have my
  word:  if there is credence to this shapeshifter business, I will
  consider my contract null and void.
Otto:  Your word?
Whisper:  My word is my bond.  I am no pawn for monsters.
Alindyar:  Very well, then.  (he surprises everyone by releasing
  the assassin)
Whisper:  (flexes his arms)
Otto:  (reflexively takes a step back, hand on his sword's hilt)
Whisper:  (sheathes his sword, and looks right at the dwarf)  Nothing
  personal, you understand.
Otto:  Yeah...hey, maybe we should have unmasked you, while you were
  incapacitated.  The identity of the legendary Whisper...
Whisper:  (quite flatly)  No one has ever seen my true face and lived.
Otto:  I was only joking.
Whisper:  How fortunate for you.
Alindyar:  Very amusing.  However, we have a number of unanswered
  questions to deal with at the moment.
Lyra:  First and foremost...where is Peldor?
Alindyar:  And what of the others, trapped below in the sewers?
Otto:  And where's Tanya?
Alindyar:  Pardon?
Otto:  Tanya.  Like I told you, she was missing.
Lyra:  Wait a moment.  She was with us, until late in the night.
Otto:  (looking surprised)  Wha-?
Alindyar:  With Peldor away, she had nothing to do, thus we invited
  her over for dinner and drinks.
Lyra:  As good friends are wont to do.
Otto:  Oh.
Alindyar:  I thought this was clear to you.
Lyra:  So she made it home safely.
Alindyar:  Or did she?
Otto:  (confused)
Whisper:  (holds up a finger)  Wait.  _I_ saw her, not half an hour
  past, at the Green Dragon Inn.  She was going to bed.
Lyra:  _You_ saw her?
Alindyar:  What were you doing there?
Whisper:  Never mind that.
Otto:  (smirks)
Lyra:  (worried)  Even if she isn't a direct target, she's still
  associated with Peldor...and that puts her in great danger.
Whisper:  (nods)  Not all contracts find their way to me.
Alindyar:  'Tis settled, then.  We go to the Green Dragon, check up
  on Tanya, then seek our other friends.  We should also locate Ged;
  his magic for finding people is far superior to our own.
Otto:  But will you go after Peldor, within the thieves' guildhall,
  or Mongo and Belphanior, within the sewers?
Lyra:  Hmm.
Alindyar:  I would guess that Peldor is in the more immediate danger,
  thus we should find him first.
Otto:  (reluctantly nods)  You're right.  If the others are alive,
  then they'll probably be okay.  On the other hand, if they're dead,
  rushing to their side won't help them.
Lyra:  If they're dead, someone will pay.  Heads will roll.
Alindyar:  Well, then.  We must venture to the inn...

  Though all of them (with the possible exception of Whisper) were
tired and quite fatigued, they had a mission and a plan now.  The
thought of their friends in trouble, or dead, gave them the extra
motivation to ignore such things as lack of sleep.

Alindyar:  (hands out several flasks)  These will help, too.  'Tis
  a vitality formula, of my own invention.  (Otto and Lyra each take
  one of the flasks, drinking their contents)
Whisper:  No, thank you.  I am fine.  (he looks around)  I shall go
  to the thieves' guildhall.  Perhaps I can learn something of value
  there...wait for me at the inn?
Lyra:  Go for it.
Whisper:  (heads for the door)  We will meet again soon.
Alindyar:  (almost as an afterthought)  Stay to the main hall on your
  way out.  There are traps in most of the other areas...
Whisper:  (nods, and vanishes from the room)
Otto:  Was that wise?
Lyra:  Was what wise?
Otto:  Letting him go like that...
Alindyar:  The killer seems a fellow of his word.
Lyra:  Besides, if he doesn't plan to return, we probably don't want
  him with us anyway.
Otto:  (nods)  Good point.  It's just that...well, frankly, I'd be
  surprised if we see him at the Green Dragon.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  Only time will tell.  Come, we must prepare to
Otto:  Traveling by magic?
Lyra:  There is no substitute.  (she gathers a few spellbooks and
  other useful items)
Alindyar:  (begins his incantations)
Otto:  By the really ought to beef up security around here.
  It was too easy to get in.
Lyra:  Professional advice?
Otto:  Call it a tip from a friend who knows what he's talking about.
Lyra:  Oh, don't you worry.  We've only begun setting up defenses in
  our home.  You just caught us at a bad time.  By week's end, we'd
  planned to have this mansion virtually impregnable anyway.  Thieves
  who try to break in will certainly regret it.
Otto:  (raises an eyebrow)  I see.
Lyra:  Besides, if you'd tried to get into our bedroom upstairs, you
  probably wouldn't be alive to regret it at this moment.  (she smiles
Otto:  Gotcha.
Alindyar:  Let us be away!

  With a flash of light and a puff of brimstone smoke, the trio
vanished from the room, teleporting to the Green Dragon Inn.  The
sky outside had begun to brighten, though dawn was still an hour

next:      Mongo, Bosco, Belphanior, the svirfneblin, and battle
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
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notes:     We're getting's all starting to come together.

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