Chapter #403

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Date:        the night of the big awards ceremony                +
+  Time:        showtime!                                           +
+  Place:       The Grand Theater, in Greyhawk's High Quarter       +
+  Climate:     exciting                                            +
+  "It's SHOWTIME!"                                                 +
+                               - Damon Killian, _The Running Man_  +

             CDIII.  Night of a Thousand Stars (part I)

  The scene at the Grand Theater is all pomp and circumstance...
for tonight is that special night, that rare and magical night -
the Annual EGG Awards!  Now here's your host, a fellow who needs
no introduction, but will get one anyway...known by many titles,
among them Thief, Lockpicker, Scout, the Mighty, Juggernaut Warrior,
Clown of Clowns, Dragon-Rider, Juggernaut Slayer, Thunderdelver,
Blob Bomber, Spider-Slayer, Golem-Slayer, Dragon-Slayer, Waif-Saver,
Minotaur's Bane, Beastmaster, Demon Slayer, leader of Bosconians,
Dragon-Friend, Fish-Killer...adventurer, wanderer, hero...the bane
of boredom...the nemesis of normalcy...the master of disaster...
halfling among halflings...BOSCO!

  Bosco walked onto the stage, amidst vivid pyrotechnics, a rain of
paparazzi, and raucous cheering.  Decked out in a tiny white suit
with silver linings, shiny white winged boots, and a top hat, the
halfling looked royally royal.

Bosco:  (speaking into the wider end of a strange metal rod, he is
  heard by every ear in the theater)  Thank you, thank you.  (he
  turns to the other half of the audience, smiling widely)  Thank
audience:  (finally stops clapping and cheering like mad)
Bosco:  (he looks puzzled)  Clown of Clowns?  Did I
  really let myself get called that?
audience:  (goes nuts again)
Bosco:  (strolls over to the center of the stage, where a two-foot
  silver podium has been placed)  Welcome one, welcome all, to the
  First Annual EGG Awards!
audience:  (settling down again)
Bosco:  (somehow attaches his speaking-rod to the podium)  Eggs...
  (he produces three eggs and begins juggling them)
audience:  (oohing and ahhing)
Bosco:  Aw, you ain't seen nothin' yet!  (he adds a fourth and fifth
  egg to the cycle, and dances about while juggling them in a steady
audience:  (erupts in applause)
Bosco:  (opens his mouth, catching the eggs one by one)
audience:  (hushed)
Bosco:  (faces the audience, his cheeks bulging like those of a
  squirrel on a productive day...then grins ear-to-ear, his mouth
  devoid of ovoids)  Yeah!  How about that?
Bosco:  (takes a bow, to another frenzied round of applause)  Okay,
  okay, okay.  It'd be great to stand up here and perform magic all
  night, but we've got better things to do!  Tonight's that very
  special night, when we honor the nominees for the EGG Awards in
  each Adventurer category!
audience:  (applauding mildly)
Bosco:  Recently, the voting pubic, err, I mean public - that's you,
  ladies, gentlemen, and others - cast their ballots for a variety
  of categories.'ll learn who the winners are,
  and who they aren't.

  A gigantic crystal ball dominated the rear stage, behind the
halfling.  As he turned to gesture at it, the item took on a life
of its own, the mists within swirling and changing as they depicted
images from the audience at large.  Ged, dressed in a purple-and-
silver suit, Derider Fanshaen at his side in a tight evening gown,
her blond hair flowing freely around her head...Rillen, garbed in
a loose brown robe, arm-in-arm with Songa, their heads blocking
the view of those directly behind them...Otto the archmage, taking
up a full two seats, the partition between them gone...a quartet of
strange men, perhaps mimes, their faces painted in bizarre black-
and-white patterns...some random lich, flies buzzing around its
rotting features, its hands steepled as it watched the ceremony,

Bosco:  And there you have it, folks:  the fashion statement of the
  year!  (he looks around)  Well, it's that time already...time to
  introduce our first set of EGG Award nominees!  The category is
  Best Urban Setting and here to do the honors is a good friend
  of mine, and an outspoken fellow besides.  Let's give it up for
  Arnold the barbarian!
audience:  (applauds, as a huge, brown-haired man in a tuxedo and a
  steel helm lumbers across the stage)
Arnold:  Greedings, Bodsco.
Bosco:  (stands atop his podium, shaking hands with the barbarian)
  How's it going, big guy?  How do I look?
Arnold:  You look mah-velous.
Bosco:  Groovy.  So what's with the helmet?  Expecting hailstorms?
Arnold:  Well, these birds have been followink me around ladely...
Bosco:  I...see.  (he hands Arnold the speaking-rod)  Hey, this
  thing's got to have a better name than "speaking-rod"!
Arnold:  How aboud "microphone"?
Bosco:  Microphone...yeah...(he hands Arnold the microphone)
Arnold:  (takes it, then opens the scroll tube)
Bosco:  (floats upward, his winged boots lifting him, so that he too
  can read the curled parchment within)
Arnold:  And the nominees for Best Urdban Settink are...

  As the barbarian read each candidate, the huge crystal ball behind
him and Bosco filled with an image of that particular place.

Arnold:  Greyhawk...
crystal ball:  (shows an aerial view of the Free City, much to the
  audience's delight)
Bosco:  (grins)
Arnold:  Havenhill...
crystal ball:  (shows a large, though not quite as magnificent city)
Bosco:  (grins widely)
Arnold:  Helgate...
crystal ball:  (shows a dark, fog-shrouded mountain town)
Bosco:  (frowns)
Arnold:  Thunderdelve Mountain...
crystal ball:  (shows a mighty, fortified mountain peak swarming
  with dwarves)
Bosco:  (nods)
Arnold:  The town killed by the evil fog.
crystal ball:  (shows what looks like a ghost town)
Bosco:  (shudders)

  Popular opinion held that Greyhawk had to win, though Helgate was
a fast-rising choice among fans everywhere.  Arnold paused a moment
for dramatic effect, and smiled broadly.

Arnold:  (unrolling the scroll)  And the winner is...Greyhawk!

  The audience cheered and applauded politely as Nerof Gasgal, the
Lord Mayor of Greyhawk, made his way from their ranks to the stage.
Garbed in an elegant suit and tie, the latter held in place by a
ruby brooch, the mayor exuded a noble air.

Arnold:  (shakes hands with the mayor as he hands him a fabulous,
  gem-studded trophy)

  This EGG Award, and all others, was a cup of alloyed adamantite,
platinum, mithril, and gold.  Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and
emeralds - all of wondrous size and marvelous glitter - studded
the slender cup.  A small silver plaque at its thin base identified
the category and winner to which it belonged.

Nerof:  (accepts the award)  My thanks.
Bosco:  (shakes his hand as well, in the process getting a closer
  look at the award)  Good job.  (he attaches his microphone to
  the podium again, using a telescoping rod to compensate for the
  height difference, and gestures for the mayor to say something to
  the audience)
Nerof:  Uh...what can I say?  I'm thrilled that my city won.  Never,
  not since my humble beginnings, did I ever think I'd be the mayor
  of the Gem of the Flanaess.  Or that it would win such a prestigious
  award!  (he holds the priceless cup high)  People of Greyhawk, this
  is for you!
audience:  (applauds wildly as the mayor heads back into the audience)
Arnold:  (gone)
Bosco:  (reclaims his microphone)  Heh.  Won by the city that hosts
  the ceremony...(he swivels one eye toward the audience)  It's a setup,
  if you ask me.
audience:  (chuckling)
Bosco:  How can a whole city split an award like that, that's what _I_
  want to know.  (he looks around for a moment)  Yeah.  Our next award
  is in the category of Most Improved Adventurer.  Ahem.  Presenting
  the nominees is someone who's too new to win this year...someone who's
  sure to be in the running in years to come though...someone who, uh,
  I've never even met?!
Victoria:  (slinks out and across the stage, her long black evening
  dress parting in the front with every long-legged step)
Bosco:  Whoa...boi-oi-oi-oi-nnnggg!
Victoria:  (takes the microphone away from Bosco)
Bosco:  (agape)  Wow.  Oh, here, have the...err...
Victoria:  (smiles sweetly)  The nominees for Most Improved Adventurer
audience:  (utterly quiet)
Victoria:  Alindyar.
crystal ball:  (shows the drow, striking in a completely white suit,
  sitting in the audience next to Lyra, who wears a short, completely
  white dress)
Victoria:  Bosco...
crystal ball:  (shows Bosco, standing in front of a crystal ball, in
  which is an image of Bosco, standing in front of a crystal ball...)
Bosco:  (turns to watch the crystal ball, mesmerized)  Yeah...
Victoria:  Ged...
crystal ball:  (shows Ged, complete with his purple-and-silver suit,
  arms crossed impudently)
Victoria:  (adjusts the V-neck of her dress)
Bosco:  (his eyes nearly pop out of his head)
Belphanior:  (in the audience, he nudges the old codger next to him)
  That's my girlfriend.
old codger:  Enh.
Victoria:  Peldor...
crystal ball:  (shows Peldor, looking quite the dashing gentleman as
  he sits in the audience, holding hands with Tanya)
Victoria:  Rillen...
crystal ball:  (shows the big warrior, in his brown robe, smiling
  and whispering to Songa)
Victoria:  And the winner is...Bosco!
crowd:  (goes wild)
Bosco:  (dances for joy, though he also dances toward Victoria and
  that prized trophy)  Yeah!  I knew I could do it!
Victoria:  (hands him the microphone)
Bosco:  (completely aware that he was the popular favorite to win)
  From soulless shell to Dragon-Slayer - you can't improve much more
  than that, says I!  Err, I'd like to thank...(he rattles off an
  exhaustive list, apparently from memory, that starts with his parents
  and ends with "last but not least, Peldor")
audience:  (applauds loudly)
Bosco:  And now I revert from triumphant winner back to mild-mannered
  host...lessee here.  The next category is Best Original Non-Weapon
  Magic Item and here to present the nominees are Kieran Jalucian and
  Jallarzi Sallavarian, of the Guild of Wizardry.
Kieran:  (strolls elegantly out onto the stage, arm-in-arm with the
  beautiful Jallarzi)
audience:  (applauding)
Bosco:  I think they make a cute couple.  (to the audience)  Don't
  you think they make a cute couple?
Kieran:  The microphone, Bosco.
Bosco:  Have at it.  (the microphone leaves his hand and floats into
  Kieran's)  Hey!
Jallarzi:  And this years nominees for Best Original Non-Weapon
  Magic Item are...
Kieran:  Alindyar's rod of Bigby-hands...
crystal ball:  (shows the item, generating various force-hand spells)
Jallarzi:  Belphanior's compass...
crystal ball:  (shows the magical locating device)
Belphanior:  (in the audience, he frowns and turns to Victoria)  That
  thing's destroyed...
Victoria:  (shrugs)
Kieran:  Belphanior's trumpet of doom...
crystal ball:  (shows the black horn, and various undead sprouting
  up from the ground nearby, not unlike weeds)
audience:  (gasps in shock)
Belphanior:  (muttering)  Now _that_ one's still working fine...
Victoria:  (raises an eyebrow)
Jallarzi:  Ged's sky balloon...
crystal ball:  (shows the gigantic balloon, soaring over the lands)
Ged:  (to Derider, who sits next to him)  I really need to get that
  thing fixed.
Derider:  Nifty.  Maybe we'll go for a ride sometime.
Kieran:  Peldor's feather tattoos...
crystal ball:  (shows the cluster of ten tiny tattoos)
Jallarzi:  (unfurls the scroll)  And the winner is...Peldor's feather
Bosco:  (claps and smiles at this, another virtual lock)
Peldor:  (makes his way onto stage, to thunderous applause)
Kieran:  (shakes hands with the thief as Jallarzi hands him the award)
  Handy tattoos, eh, old boy?
Peldor:  Yeah, they're real lifesavers.  (he takes the microphone)  Ah,
  a Peldor onstage.  What can I say?
Bosco:  (leans close)  You're supposed to say thanks, and tell them
  who you thank and why...
Peldor:  Sure, sure.  I'd like to fellow Adventurers, for
  sticking with me through thick and thin, all these years...Tanya,
  for accepting my proposal of marriage...
audience:  (cheers)
Peldor:  ...and also the late Org Nenshen, for helping me get where I
  am today.  (he raises the jewelled cup high)  Couldn't have done it
  without you, bro.
Bosco:  (reclaims the microphone as the audience applauds and the
  others leave the stage)  Alrighty then!  Next up, we've got an award
  for Best Place To Hang Out.  To introduce it, we've got He Who Hangs
  Out...the one, the only...Peyote!

  The half-elf, clad in a natural-looking greenish-brown suit that
might have been sewn from plants, came onto the stage.

Peyote:  Whoa, little brother, how's it hanging?
Bosco:  Uh, hanging in there.  And you?
Peyote:  I'm cool.
Bosco:  Right.  So, who are the nominees?
Peyote:  Relax, dude.  (he takes his time opening the sealed scroll)
Bosco:  Ho-hum.
Peyote:  Humbly-ho.  (he finally unrolls the scroll)  And the nominees
  for Best Place To Hang Out are...Arnold's village, in the frozen
crystal ball:  (shows the small village, amidst a snowstorm)
Arnold:  (smiles)
Songa:  (frowns, not liking this sort of magic)
Peyote:  Ged's castle, west of Greyhawk...
crystal ball:  (shows the bustling castle and surrounding lands)
Bosco:  Bah, who'd want to hang out _there_?  The place is full of
  serious people!
Peyote:  The Green Dragon Inn, in Greyhawk...
crystal ball:  (shows the inn, complete with a variety of colorful
Bosco:  Now we're getting somewhere...
Peyote:  The Sword and Cup Tavern, in Helgate.
crystal ball:  (shows a grim, dark-looking place)
Otto:  (smiles)
Bosco:  Yie.
Peyote:  Thunderdelve Mountain's settled regions...
crystal ball:  (shows the busy city-within-a-mountain)
audience:  (sighs in appreciation)
Peyote:  How about that?  A city within a mountain.
Bosco:  The award, Peyote...
Peyote:  Right on, man.  And the award goes to...the Green Dragon Inn!
Bosco:  I might have known.

  For the second time in two awards, Peldor took the stage, claiming
his second award of the evening.

Peyote:  (shakes his hand)  Good deal, dude.
Peldor:  Thanks.
Bosco:  (holds the microphone in Peldor's face)  Peldor!  Can you
  tell us what you think of being the first multi-EGG Award winner?
Peldor:  Uh, I wouldn't know.  This is the first time it's happened
  to me.
Bosco:  Oh.
Peldor:  (speaking into the microphone)  I wouldn't have such a neat
  inn without everyone who works this award is for them!
audience:  (applauds)
Peldor:  (follows Peyote off the stage)
Bosco:  (to the audience)  Ah, he knows that I want to make the
  casino bigger...more tables...more cards...(he produces a playing
  card from his sleeve)  Oops.  Okay, the next award is for Best
  Specific Use of a Single Spell.  (he pauses)  Hey, I wonder if I'm
  on the ballot?  Anyway, here to announce the nominees is Drawmij,
  of Greyhawk's Circle of Eight.  (he looks around)  Drawmij?  Where
  _is_ he?
Drawmij:  (appears next to Bosco, from thin air)
Bosco:  (yelps)
Drawmij:  (addresses the audience, perfectly audible despite the fact
  that Bosco has the microphone)  The nominees are...Alindyar levitating
  over Peldor as Peldor tries to stop him...
crystal ball:  (shows the named scene)
audience:  (laughing at Peldor's frustration in the image)
Peldor:  (laughing at his own frustration in the image)
Alindyar:  This is not humorous.
Drawmij:  Alindyar polymorphing Bosco the raccoon into Bosco the masked
crystal ball:  (shows this scene, before and after)
Bosco:  (shakes his head)  Never happened.
Alindyar:  Now _that_ was humorous.
Drawmij:  Belphanior trapping Torin et al. in the cairn...
crystal ball:  (shows this little maneuver)
Belphanior:  (laughs out loud)  Ah, those were the days...
Drawmij:  Peldor's wish during the Necros battle...
crystal ball:  (shows this scene, drawing gasps from the audience)
Mongo:  (applauding loudly from his seat)  Yeah!  YEAH!
Peldor:  Heh.  (wondering if he can possibly win three awards in a row)
Drawmij:  And the last nominee is...the banishment of the tarrasque.
crystal ball:  (shows this scene, drawing cries from the audience)
Drawmij:  Hmm.  And the winner...the combination used to get rid of
  the tarrasque!

  A number of magi, including Alindyar, Lyra, Ged, Bigby, and Tenser,
stepped up simultaneously to receive this award.  Poor Bosco was
nearly overwhelmed, as he couldn't talk to all of the wizards at
once.  Therefore, he instead opted to talk to himself.

Bosco:  Yes indeed, folks, it's a regular who's who of spell-slingers
  up here now.
Bigby:  (takes the microphone from Bosco)  We'd jointly like to thank
  all those who helped in the battle, big or small.  We couldn't have
  done it without you, and you couldn't have done it without us.
  Thank you.  Good night.
Bosco:  Hmm.  Fishy...(he pulls a fish from behind his ear, and hurls
  it after the assembled wizards as they leave the stage)
Lyra:  (zaps the fish in midair, with magic missiles)
Bosco: sense of humor!  (he faces the audience)  Now
  it's time for our first break.  Stand by, though, 'cause when we
  come back, you'll see Best One-on-One Fight, Best Weapon, and Best
  Adventure Setting, among others.

  The crystal ball filled with an image, then:  several stiff, dark
figures walked slowly along a passage, bearing heavy loads with no
apparent strain.

voice:  (speaking rapidly and excitedly)  Looking for cheap, reliable
  labor, but don't want to pay workers?  Too many employees and not
  enough space?  Then look no farther, friends - Zany Zed's Zombie
  Blowout is waiting for you, _you_, YOU!  That's right, why pay those
  migrant workers another copper for time, food, and housing?  No, now
  you can buy our new, freshly-made zombies, right out of the cold,
  wet dirt of the graveyard!  They never get tired!  They don't eat
  anything!  They never complain!  You only pay one low, low price and
  they're yours!  Get one today!  Get ten today!  And if you're about
  to die, and you want to leave a little something behind for the
  grandkids...we'll pay you for your body, before it even dies!
  That's right, folks, during Zany Zed's Zombie Blowout we'll buy,
  sell, or trade the living dead!  No reasonable offer will be
  refused!  We're located at the corner of Dervish and Dust Streets,
  right next to the old graveyard!  Come visit us tonight!  Open
  dusk til dawn!
    (Offer not available to paladins, priests of good alignment, and
  family members of Zany Zed's Zombie Zemporium.  Some restrictions
  may apply.)

  The spotlight returned to Bosco, who held the microphone as he
gaped at the now-fading image in the giant crystal ball.

Bosco:  Yeah...right.  (to the audience)  Truly a rotting commodity.
  And now for the next EGG Award...Best One-on-One Fight!  Here to
  tell you more is the greatest weaponless fighter of all time...let's
  give it up for Bruce!
Bruce:  (glides onto stage, poetry in motion)
Bosco:  Welcome, Bruce.  How are things?
Bruce:  Things couldn't be better, Bosco.  (he glares at the halfling
  suddenly, adopting a fighting stance)
Bosco:  Wha- ?
Bruce:  Yaa!  (trembling with rage)  You killed my master!  You have
  offended my family and offended a Shaolin temple!
Bosco:  (backs up)  Whoa, hold on a sec-
Bruce:  (relaxes, and returns to normal)  Just kidding.
Bosco:  Whew.  (to the audience)  Lucky for him, huh?
Bruce:  (claps Bosco on the back, and opens his scroll)  The nominees
  for Best One-on-One Fight are...Belphanior vs. Dagron Larthos, ruler
  of Helgate...
crystal ball:  (shows this sword-battle)
Belphanior:  (to Victoria)  I killed him.
Bruce:  Belphanior vs. Torin, round II...
crystal ball:  (shows that tremendous fight)
Belphanior:  (to Victoria)  I killed him, too.
Bruce:  Halbarad vs. the strange alien monster...
crystal ball:  (shows this forest battle, eliciting an excited response
  from the crowd)
Halbarad:  (in the audience, he cracks his knuckles)
Bruce:  Mongo vs. Mongo-2...
crystal ball:  (shows that earth-shattering fight)
Mongo:  (to Gorin)  Boy, was that a long time ago!
Bruce:  Whisper vs. Necros' assassin.
crystal ball:  (shows the two killers duelling)
Bruce:  Boy, this is exciting, isn't it, Bosco?
Bosco:  It sure is.  Those fights...whew!  I wonder why you're not
Bruce:  Because I'm not an adventurer, Bosco.
Bosco:  Hey, take it from me, never sell yourself short.
Bruce:  And the winner is...Belphanior vs. Torin, round II!
audience:  (applauds wildly)
Belphanior:  (takes the stage, shaking Bruce's hand as he gets the
  award)  Thank you.  (reaching down to shake Bosco's hand)
Bosco:  Congratulations!  What have you got to say about this?
Belphanior: _was_ pretty exciting.  When he kept coming at
  me, despite the melting bone and cartilage throughout his body, I
  knew right then and there that I was in for a tough fight.
Bosco:  That's the spirit!
Belphanior:  I don't have anyone to thank, though.  I, and only I,
  made me what I am today.
Bosco:  Uh...(to the audience)  He certainly seems to be in touch with
  his's cool, I say.
Belphanior:  (waves at the audience as he goes off-stage)
Bosco:  Ahem.  And now for a category that's near and dear to my heart:
  Most Humorous Plotline.  Here to tell us the nominees is Rillen, Mr.
  Humor himself.
Rillen:  (strides across the stage)  Hello, Bosco.
Bosco:  How's the frozen north this time of year?
Rillen:  I wouldn't know.  I stay inside where it's warm and cozy.
Bosco:  Sensible advice.  I hope you're listening, out there at home.
Rillen:  (unrolls the scroll)  This year's nominees for Most Humorous
  Plotline are:  Bosco's dream...
crystal ball:  (shows a colorful group of adventurers wandering across
  an equally colorful landscape)
Bosco:  Yeah...
Rillen:  Bosco on the loose in Thunderdelve, collecting names...
crystal ball:  (shows the scene of Bosco atop Yod Ironbeard's pile
  of treasure)
Bosco:  Oh, yeah...
Rillen:  Ged, finding Peldor's keep and followers in his lands...
crystal ball:  (shows this scene)
Ged:  Bah.
Rillen:  Peldor and Belphanior's attempt at kidnapping a princess...
crystal ball:  (recounts the climax of this adventure)
Tanya:  (looks sternly at Peldor)  You did _what_?!?
Peldor:  Uh...err...
Rillen:  The adventures on Earth.
crystal ball:  (shows a Mardi Gras parade)
Bosco:  Ah, the early days...
Rillen:  And the winner is...Ged finding Peldor's keep and followers!
audience:  (applauds - this was one of those categories that any of
  the nominees might have won)
Ged:  (he and Peldor take the stage)  Boccob smiles tonight - I win
Peldor:  This is _my_ third award of the night...
Ged:  Quiet, fool.
Rillen:  Congratulations, you two.  Say, where did those farmers end
Ged:  What do you think?  They're farming.
Peldor:  And I'm rich.  Hmm, perhaps the time has come for the mighty
  Peldor to go and visit his loyal followers.
Ged:  Don't even think about it.  I finally got them calmed down -
  I don't need you stirring up chaos.
Bosco:  Chaos?  Chaos is my middle name.  (he takes the microphone)
  Hey, how are you two gonna split that one award?
Ged:  (ignoring the halfling)
Peldor:  (smirks)  There's always a way.
Bosco:  Aha.  So...our next category is Best Weapon.  Here to present
  this award is a warrior, weapon-maker without equal, and a good
  pal of mine:  Yod Ironbeard, king of Thunderdelve!
audience:  (goes wild, as the stocky dwarf goes on-stage, giving him
  the standing ovation due a king)
Yod:  (waving to the crowd, smiling)  Whee.  (to Bosco)  Don't you
  still owe me money?
Bosco:  Not me.
Yod:  (grumbling)
Bosco:  Weapons?  Intelligent weapons?  Say, have _you_ ever built
  an intelligent weapon?
Yod:  Nope.  It's bad luck.
Bosco:  Oh.
Yod:  Anyway, the weapons nominated for this award are:  Blackrazor...
crystal ball:  (shows Belphanior swinging the dark blade amidst a
  great battle)
Belphanior:  (trying to place that particular battle)
Yod:  Lightbringer...
crystal ball:  (shows Ged pulverizing some undead creature)
audience:  (gasps in terror)
Victoria:  (frowns)
Lightbringer:  (flashing brightly at Ged's side)  Thank you, thank
Ged:  (trying to quiet the weapon)  Not yet.
Yod:  Nightfang...
crystal ball:  (shows Peldor, fighting some foe with the sword)
Peldor:  Rest in peace, Nightfang.
Yod:  (smiles)  Stormcrest...
crystal ball:  (shows Mongo going head-to-head with the juggernaut)
audience:  (cheering)
Mongo:  That would be me.
Yod:  And Bosco's stone-slicing knife.
crystal ball:  (shows Bosco sliding down a golem's back, opening a
  deep cut as he goes)
Bosco:  That was fun!
Yod:  Five good weapons, all deserving of this award.
Bosco:  Hey, just as long as they all don't come up here together and
  start bickering..
Yod:  And the winner is...Blackrazor!
Belphanior:  (walks for the stage)
Mongo:  (looks disappointed)
Yod:  (shakes hands with Belphanior)  Nice to meet you.
Belphanior:  Thanks.  Cool award.
Yod:  Priceless, I'd say.
Bosco:  (hands Belphanior the microphone)  Here you go...
Belphanior:  (addressing the audience)  Blackrazor...a fine weapon.
  Very useful, and very powerful.  I don't think I'd have come so far
  without it.  Thank you.
audience:  (applauds nervously)
Bosco:  (looking around for an "applause" sign)  Hmm.
Yod:  (leaves the stage with Belphanior)
Bosco:  Next up we have the category of Most Enigmatic Guest Star.
  On hand to present the nominees are some more good friends of
  mine, the twins Spikey and Sparkey!
Spikey:  (trots onstage)
Sparkey:  (ditto)
Bosco:  How's it going, guys?
Spikey:  Pretty good.
Sparkey:  No goblins, lately.
Bosco:  Glad to hear it.
Spikey:  (opening the scroll tube, with Sparkey's help)  Let's see
Sparkey:  The nominees are...Kup Swiftfoot...
crystal ball:  (shows that halfling, puffing on his pipe merrily)
Spikey:  Lord Marcus, of Greyspire...
crystal ball:  (shows that grim figure, his fortress in the background)
Bosco:  Man, that guy looks serious!
Sparkey:  Victoria...
crystal ball:  (shows the sultry woman, having a drink at a bar)
audience:  (makes catcalls and such)
Bosco:  Hey, show the lady some respect!
Spikey:  The wispy thing...
crystal ball:  (shows said thing, flying around in the air)
audience:  (applauds monstrously, obviously big fans of the wispy thing)
Sparkey:  The dark woodsman from the Burneal Forest...
crystal ball:  (shows that one, stalking humanoids amidst his home)
Halbarad:  (in the audience, he watches with interest)
Spikey:  And now...the winner is...
Sparkey:  Hey, I want to announce the winner.
Spikey:  Right.
Sparkey:  No, I mean it!
Spikey:  I was about to let you.
Sparkey:  Well, let me anyway.
Spikey:  I am!
Sparkey:  Be quiet, then!
Spikey:  If you'd just settle down-
Sparkey:  (snatches the scroll)  The wispy thing!
audience:  (goes bonkers with applause)

  Belphanior strode up onstage to claim the award, in the name of his
mysterious companion.

Spikey:  (he and Sparkey lift the award together, handing it to the
Belphanior:  Than-
wispy thing:  (appears, grabs the award, and spins about madly in the
  air, looping randomly)  Pphhhtt!  (it vanishes, with the award)
audience:  (goes apeshit)
Belphanior:  Whoa.
Bosco:  How does it _do_ that?!?
Belphanior:  We'll never know.  (shaking his head, he leaves the stage
  with Spikey and Sparkey)
Bosco:  Well, that certainly was interesting.  Let's see
  up is the EGG Award for Best Adventure Setting.  To present the
  candidates, please welcome...(he looks confused)  The spectre of
ghost-like apparition:  (floats across the stage)
audience:  (hushed)
Zagyg:  (a normal-looking fellow with a wild gleam in his eyes and
  badly-tousled hair, he is also translucent in this state)
Bosco:  Aie, aie aie.
Ged:  (watches, mesmerized, from the audience)
Zagyg:  (addresses the audience without the benefit of the microphone)
  The nominees are:  Blackmoor, the lost city of the Sueloise, Oerth-2,
  the Deeps of Thunderdelve Mountain, and the Underdark.
crystal ball:  (zips through these images, trying to keep up with the
  fast-talking archmage-spirit, but finally gives up and shows all
  five places simultaneously)
Zagyg:  The winner is:  the lost city of the Sueloise!
Suel lich:  (walks across the stage to claim the award in the name of
  its long-dead city)
Ged:  (alarmed)  Boccob!
Zagyg:  (hands the lich the award, and promptly vanishes)
Suel lich:  (addresses the audience)  I have no one to thank.  I've
  been dead for millennia, as have all my people.  That's the way the
  cookies crumble.  But...I'll be back.  (it vanishes suddenly)
Bosco:  (agape)...efficient, wasn't he?  Er, weren't they?  That's the
  problem with people who've been dead too long!  Hunh.  And now it's
  time for our next break.  When we come back:  Best Mass Battle Scene,
  and the Best Supporting Villain and Adventurer awards!

next:      part II of II
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     Needless to say, this particular tale has no official
  place in the canon Adventurers saga...

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