Chapter #459

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    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                    +
+                           +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+  Date:        6/17/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the city of Zeif, capital of the Sultanate of Zeif  +
+  Climate:     pleasant                                            +
+  "Is he crazy?"                                                   +
+  "Yeah, but it gives him his advantage."                          +
+             - from _Battlestar:  Galactica - The Living Legend_   +

                   CDLIX.  The Sultan's Palace

  Night has fallen in Zeif, and as the locals go about their nightly
business, Peldor approaches the wall of the royal palace...

Peldor:  (already disguised as a merchant he bumped into earlier, he
  looks around before invoking his feather tattoos' powers to become

  The thief vanished from sight, but continued his walk toward the
high, white-bricked wall.  Armed guards walked the top of the barrier,
but there was nobody patrolling its base.  Staying in the shadows,
Peldor eyed the wall.  Just a short time before, he had taken a thin
scroll from his pocket and read the enchantment therein.  This scroll,
one of several given to him by Alindyar and Lyra, contained a spell
that would enable him to climb up the wall like a spider.  This was
one of Peldor's abilities that he seldom practiced; still, there was
a time for everything.
  The thief looked upward once more, sizing up the huge wall, before
beginning his ascent.  True to expectations, the scroll's spell worked
perfectly; Peldor slowly, quietly, and invisibly scaled the palace
wall.  Normally, he wouldn't have been able to perform such a feat, as
the wall's component stone blocks had no seams or handholds.  However,
the spider-climbing enabled him to crawl up the vertical surface with
ease.  Almost before he knew it, he had reached the wall's parapet and
was peering over the top.  There was a three-foot-high ledge on the
outside edge of the wall's peak; a five-foot wide walkway behind this
ledge was patrolled by a guard, perhaps thirty feet away.  The fellow
was armored in chain mail, and a curved scimitar hung at his side.
He strolled along the wall's top, completely oblivious to Peldor's
presence.  Another guard was visible in the other direction, heading
the other way.
  Peldor checked the inside of the wall, seeking a way down.  Several
narrow stairways led to the ground, fifty feet below, where a series
of walled courtyards were filled with shadows.  Had he been visible,
he would probably have been seen from one of the several nearby towers,
which stretched up into the night sky.  Eyeing these various things
and considering his options, Peldor decided to simply jump, at which
point his tattoos' power of feather falling would take effect.  This
way, he wouldn't have to worry about the stairways, which looked as if
they might be old and creaky.  Just as he was about to leap, however,
the sharp-eyed thief noticed a large, quiet form padding through the
grassy courtyard - a giant, wild tiger!  The beast was magnificent,
almost ten feet long and standing as high as a man, at the shoulder.
Its fur was pure white, and shone in the moonlight, surely a rarity
even in these exotic parts.
  Peldor knew that, even invisible, he would easily be exposed by the
keen-sensed tiger.  Thus, instead of jumping down to the courtyard, he
climbed sideways along the inside side of the wall, moving laterally
in search of another courtyard, one where no tigers lurked.  After an
immeasurable and highly tense period of time, he had negotiated walls
and stairways, and found himself in another courtyard.  He watched the
ground for a while, until he was sure no tigers (or other guardians)
roamed this courtyard.  Then, he descended silently to the ground,
dashing across the grassy ground toward a door he'd already chosen.
This portal, a small, iron hatchway set into the stone of the palace
proper, held no traps, although it was locked.  As Peldor examined
the mechanism, he found that locks here in the far West were made
somewhat differently; the odd pattern of pins and tumblers confused
him at first.  Still, he was a master of his profession, and the lock
was eventually picked, admitting the thief into the palace.
  Peldor roamed myriad halls and stairways, all of them practically
deserted at this hour.  Invisible, he was also as silent as a whisper,
and avoided guards whenever possible.  When he was unable to bypass
them, he flattened himself against a wall or folded himself into a
nook, waiting until the patrol passed before moving again.  He figured
that the treasure vaults were in the depths of the palace - every one
he'd ever seen or heard of had been - and accordingly, he descended at
every opportunity.  Soon, he had dropped well below ground level, and
he found himself wishing that he had a dwarf's innate sense of depth.
There was no telling where he was, but that didn't stop him.  Although
he'd promised Tanya that he was just going to look, it seemed a shame
not to try for the ruby this very night.  As long as he was in here,
it made sense to go ahead and complete the mission - not that either
he or Tanya was in any hurry to return to Greyhawk.
  Peldor's thoughts were interrupted by a clanking sound from ahead,
around a corner.  Peering cautiously around the stony wall of the
passage, he spotted another wild tiger, this ebon-furred animal fast
asleep on a plush rug on one side of the passage.  Though the thief
was talented, he had no desire to test his skills against the senses
of the great least not until he had no other recourse.  He
carefully backed up, searching for an alternate route to use in his
  Two intersections and a stairway later, he was traversing a short
section of passage at the foot of the stairs when he heard voices
approaching.  Looking around, he saw no easy place to hide, so he
improvised, crawling up the wall and onto the ceiling.  All of the
passages within this palace were high, fifteen feet or so, with arched
ceilings.  Propped between the arches, clinging easily thanks to his
spider-climbing, Peldor waited.  Moments later, three guards, curved
scimitars swinging at their sides, walked by, heading up the stairs.
These men were all bearded, and were garbed in matching tan uniforms,
with V-necks and sashes at the waist.  Their boot-tips curled up into
tiny points, and they all wore turbans with red insignia set into the
fronts.  Peldor figured them for some kind of elite guards - which
might mean that he was getting closer to the treasure vaults!
  After the three fellows had gone up the stairs and could no longer
be heard, the thief continued on his way.  After passing through an
intersection of passages, he went on along his chosen corridor...and
then recoiled, as the very floor dropped out from beneath him!

Peldor:  (stifles a shout of surprise as he begins feather-falling
  down into the pit)

  The master thief had no time to look down and see what danger he
was falling into, as he reached out desperately.  One hand found the
hinged door of the trap, and because of the spider-climbing spell
and his feather falling, he was able to use this to pull himself up
and out of the pit.  Cursing mentally, he checked the trap, seeing a
number of sharp metal spikes fifteen feet down.  Worse still, dozens
of small snakes writhed about, coiling around the spikes and each
other!  This was surely no place to be careless, and he wondered how
long it would be before someone came along and found the sprung trap.
  Then a notion struck him; concentrating, he used his magical ring
to pull the trap's door upward...slowly, but surely.  As it reached a
point where it was flush with the floor, an unseen mechanism clicked
into place - the thing was re-armed!  Perhaps, he mused to himself,
it wasn't armed, but at least it wasn't an obvious giveaway to his
presence.  Turning a careful eye to the floors ahead, he went onward,
yet further into the depths of the Sultan's palace.

next:      dastardly traps and tricks
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     As I wrote this story, 4:18 pm on 9/22/96 came, and the
  Braves clinched their 5th straight NL division title.  You know
  your team is cool when the pitcher belts a 3-run homer to aid his
  own cause.
    Numerous people have pointed out to me that sun _lightens_ hair,
  not darkens it.  I've changed the word in #457 accordingly.  I'm
  just not a beach bum   :)

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