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+ THE ADVENTURERS +
+ Epic IV +
+ Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other +
+ terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc. However, +
+ TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such +
+ items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR +
+ in any fashion. +
+ The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright +
+ 1991-2001 by Thomas A. Miller. Any resemblance to any persons +
+ or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental. +
+ Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under +
+ the sole condition that no money is made in the process. In that +
+ case, I hope you enjoy them! +
+ Thomas A. Miller +
+ Belphanior 14th/14th/14th level elven fighter/wizard/thief +
+ Otto 8th/11th level dwarven fighter/thief +
+ Razor Charlie 9th level human fighter +
+ Skektek 12th level human wizard +
+ Ys 13th level reptilian fighter +
+ Bosco 12th level halfling thief +
+ Mongo 18th level dwarven fighter +
+ Gorgo 9th level dwarven berserker +
+ Boltar high priest of Pholtus +
+ Drak barbarian warrior +
+ Parekh dark-skinned female wizard +
+ Neera female human sage/astrologer +
+ Victoria warrior/vampiress +
+ Date: indeterminate +
+ Time: indeterminate +
+ Place: an unidentified plane +
+ Climate: bad and getting worse +
+ "Come on, everybody's got their price!" +
+ "You may be right, but I don't want to know what mine is." +
+ - from _Cannon_ +
DCCLI. Enemy of my Enemy
The battered, weakened party - or that portion of it that still remains
functional - has just been handed some very bad news indeed...
gigantic monstrous being: (looming over them all, it roars with sheer
power) I AM THE PRINCE OF DEMONS - I AM DEMOGORGON!
There was no doubting that the sky had darkened in the last few moments,
and the air was noticably warmer and tinged with an acrid smell not unlike
Belphanior: (grips his sword tightly)
Demogorgon: NOW...LET US PARLEY.
Demogorgon: (raises his thick tentacle-arms) UNLESS PERHAPS YOU WOULD
PREFER TO END YOUR EXISTENCE?
Belphanior: We'll parley.
Demogorgon: GOOD. (he returns to the humanoid form he'd assumed before)
We shall talk normally. Now that you've seen me as I truly am, you'll
have no doubts as to who you're dealing with.
Belphanior: (still amazed that he is talking to one of the most powerful
demon lords in the Abyss, and still breathing, it takes him a while to
come up with sensible words) I don't get it. If you wanted to deal,
why'd you let your bird-ape-things attack us?
Demogorgon: There are many reasons...to put you off your guard...to show
you your place...for my own amusement...pick any of these.
Belphanior: No need.
Victoria: (interrupts the conversation, pointing to Belphanior) We will
Belphanior: Yes, but let's have them in our own world, not here-
Victoria: The sooner, the better.
Demogorgon: (turns to her, his eyes briefly flickering crimson) DO NOT
FORGET YOUR PLACE.
Victoria: (backs away silently)
Demogorgon: (turns back to Belphanior, smiling) Where were we? Ah.
With a snap of his fingers, the demonlord created a table of blackest
wood, complete with two chairs. He then took one, sitting and clasping
Belphanior: What about my companions?
Demogorgon: They can wait. This business is for you and I alone. Unless
you'd enjoy watching them fend off a horde of minor demons?
Belphanior: No, they'll be fine with waiting.
Demogorgon: Let's get to it, then. I know that my accursed rival has,
in the past, made plays for power on your home plane. I also know that
other powers have moved to stop such things - which is why I choose not
to employ that same tactic myself.
Belphanior: Makes good sense to me.
Demogorgon: One who does not learn from the mistakes of others...will be
Belphanior: So true.
Demogorgon: Orcus wishes to exert his power on your world, still, but now
he is being indirect...using his minions.
Demogorgon: Yessss. That one is like unto a demigod himself...you should
have killed him when you had the chance.
Belphanior: One of my greater blunders, that.
Demogorgon: Xusia has served my rival for a long time...centuries, by
your reckoning. I have tried many times to subvert him...but always
Belphanior: So now it's my turn? You'd have me trade one demon lord's
foothold on Oerth for another's?
Demogorgon: Not so fast, mortal. I said "agent" before, not "servant"
or "scout." I have no wish to claim a foothold in your world. Believe
me - I'd sooner conquer more of the Abyss than extend my reach to some
piddling mortal plane.
Belphanior: But I thought demons wanted power elsewhere too...?
Demogorgon: We are all different. That which one demon prince covets
may have no value to another. No, my goal is much simpler: I wish to
foil his plot.
Demogorgon: To foil his plot, his minion must be stopped. I am offering
you assistance in this endeavor.
Belphanior: (thinking of great demons which he could bind to his power)
What sort of assistance?
Demogorgon: We'll get to that later. Xusia has surrounded himself with
allies of fearsome power, rivaling that of such groups as your former
adventuring band, or the slayers of Feuerhauch, or the Crimson Blades.
Belphanior: I see.
Demogorgon: Several of the lich's allies are paragons of their kind, the
absolute masters of some skill or school. Xusia has been exceedingly
clever in the finding of his allies.
Belphanior: Aha. So you'll point us in their direction and let us go
head-to-head with them?
Demogorgon: Something like that. Be sure that I will do everything I
can to stack the deck in favor of your side.
Belphanior: Pawns...we'd be doing your bidding whether it was posed that
way or not.
Demogorgon: True, but look at the alternative. As well, I have reunited
you with your long-lost love.
Belphanior: (eyes Victoria, who is sulking well out of earshot) It's not
Demogorgon: Oh, I know. She isn't happy at all, and you will have your
hands full with her at some point. I've been watching both of you for
a long while now. It was I who pulled her from your former town, just
as I pulled your group from the lost tomb. Those of my kind who are
princes can do that, you know - wait for a pathway to open between your
plane and any of the lower planes, and then snatch you from it.
Belphanior: Your parents must be very proud.
Demogorgon: My parents are long dead. Was that supposed to be funny?
Belphanior: Not really.
Belphanior: I have another question, since you're exceedingly rational
for a demon and since you brought it up...?
Belphanior: Doesn't Orcus know I'm here? Won't he find out about all of
these plans of yours?
Demogorgon: No, he will not. He has had his hands full lately - I can
personally vouch for that. In any event, he cannot see into my domain
Belphanior: Of course. (he cracks his knuckles) So, in summary...you'll
send us home, and help us to find and attack the newest lair of Xusia
and his allies...and in return, all you want is that we carry out said
Demogorgon: (nods) Plus I give you your beloved vampiress back.
Belphanior: You speak with a silver tongue, demon lord...but I know it
to be forked.
Demogorgon: But of course. I _am_ a demon, after all.
All this time, Boltar had been to one side, resting and recovering...and
also listening and brooding. Finally, the high priest could take no more.
Boltar: (stands) You mustn't do this!
Boltar: (to Belphanior) You can't deal with this one...think, damn you!
Think about what you're saying, what he's proposing!
Belphanior: (shrugs) It's a pretty straightforward business deal, in
my eyes...and a damn good one, I might add.
Boltar: You cannot deal with his kind! It is...wrong! Fundamentally
Belphanior: I disagree.
Boltar: It goes against everything...everything I have strived for in my
Belphanior: (regards the other sternly) Recall that I am not a priest
Boltar: But you are bargaining with a demonlord! Think of what that
Belphanior: I _am_ thinking about it. The enemy of my enemy is my
friend, and on top of that, he's got the card I want.
Boltar: No! NO! I won't stand for it- <THUNK> (he crumples to the
Mongo: (puts his hammer away and gathers up the high priest's limp form)
Time for a nap.
Parekh: What have you done?!?
Mongo: Just a tap on the head. I probably just saved his life.
Demogorgon: So true. I was just thinking about devouring him, mainly
to end the annoyance.
Belphanior: We'll handle him. (he stands) I accept your terms. We'll
be leaving now; I can't say when I'll be ready to attack, though. My
companions and I have been through much, with little time to catch our
breath, much less recover. I need some time.
Demogorgon: And of course you shall have it! Your days and weeks mean
little to ones such as myself and Orcus.
Belphanior: How will you contact me, and assist in what's to come?
Demogorgon: You'll know when it happens. (he waves his hands, opening
a yawning archway of black energy that becomes a crystal-clear view of
Greyhawk at dusk, from the sloped plains overlooking the city) Go.
Belphanior was as hesitant as any of them to willingly walk through a
trans-dimensional portal created by a demon prince. However, logic won
out here: if Demogorgon had wanted them dead (or in any other condition)
he could have and would have done it already. Escape and his home world
were right there before his eyes, and he was ready.
Belphanior: Let's go, people.
Demogorgon had never risen from his chair, and he sat there and watched
as the mortals exited his home plane. He wondered privately if he'd been
overly polite and non-threatening with them, but that had been crucial to
securing Belphanior's co-operation. The demon prince had a master plan,
and the first part of it meant that his rival's greatest servant on Oerth
had to be eliminated. The best chance of achieving that end was to make
it Belphanior's personal mission - not that the elf wouldn't have done it
anyway. That was the beauty of Demogorgon's scheme: Belphanior thought
he was getting something in return for a task he'd have gladly done on his
own. The truth, however, was that Demogorgon had given up nothing this
day - in fact his true plans remained as secret as they were convoluted.
To be sure, if Belphanior had known what Demogorgon was _really_ up to, he
would never have agreed to the deal. Lack of lies did not indicate the
The demon prince chuckled to himself as the portal to Oerth closed after
the mortals passed through.
next: consequences and partings
notes: Since I'm going to go ahead with writing (despite the saga's
flaws mentioned in 750) at this time, I've decided to go full-speed-
ahead on making this as epic as possible.
previous chapter (#750)
next chapter (#752)