Chapter #892

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2005 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!                                          +
+   Belphanior     15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Elgon          8th/9th/11th level deep gnome priest/illusionist/thief +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+                                                                         +
+   Alindyar       18th level drow wizard                                 +
+   Lyra           14th level female drow wizard                          +
+   Mongo          18th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   Date:          7/6/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          early evening                                          +
+   Place:         the vacant fortress of Greyspire, in the Riftcanyon    +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "Once you've lost everything, you're free to do anything."            +
+                                            - from _Doing Hard Time_     +

                   DCCCXCII.  The Future of Greyspire

  After a brief reunion with Peldor, Tanya, and many others, Belphanior
and his companions have journeyed to the vacant fortress of Greyspire,
in the Riftcanyon.

Belphanior:  Thanks for bringing - or at least guiding - us here.
Alindyar:  'Twas our pleasure.
Lyra:  Besides, it won't hurt to check on them and see how they're
  doing, and if they need any help.
Otto:  (shaking his head)  I still can't believe what happened.

  The dwarf had been briefed on the recent events at the fortress of
Greyspire:  its mysterious and sudden silence, the gory clues but lack
of inhabitants, the trail down into the depths of the mountain, and
finally, the great battle with the ancient demons that had taken over
the place.  Otto hadn't been happy at all to hear this news, and he was
still stunned and upset, but he was also a veteran of much violence,
and a realist.  He knew that what was done, was done; there was nothing
to do but move on and make the best of things.
  The octet of adventurers - Belphanior, Otto, Skektek, Razor Charlie,
Elgon, the wispy thing, plus the two drow - had arrived near the small
gatehouse that connected to the huge stone walkway that led into the
fortress of Greyspire itself.  For the first time Belphanior or Otto
could remember, no guards stood watch atop the gatehouse, no fires
burned in the great fire-pits outside it, and no lights shone from
within the windows of the fortress that loomed over them.  A palpable
sense of dread and loss seemed to pervade the very air here.

Belphanior:  Nobody in this gatehouse...we'd better check out the main
Otto:  (wondering if any of the people he knew from his past were still
  in Greyspire when the massacre took place)

  Just then, the fortress' gigantic main doors burst open, and a large
humanoid sailed ten feet further, flopping down on the stone bridge
outside those portals.  It was followed by several others, who were
running away as fast as they could.

Otto:  Those look like ogres.
Belphanior:  (steps out onto the huge stone bridge and begins walking
  toward the fortress)  They're not getting away.
Skektek:  Want me to blast them from afar?  I could, you know-
Belphanior:  No, let's see what's happening first.

  A lone figure had marched through the fortress' doors, and was calmly
pursuing the ogres.  They knew who it was even before the figure threw
a warhammer, downing the nearest of the humanoids.

Alindyar:  Mongo is keeping busy, I see.
Belphanior:  (as the two remaining ogres approach, he draws his sword)

  The foes apparently feared Mongo more than they did the newcomers,
because they didn't even slow down, instead charging right at the elf
and his companions.

lead ogre:  (raises a battleaxe)  Outta the way!
Belphanior:  (silently ducks under the swinging weapon, his own blade
  stabbing neatly into the ogre's heart)
lead ogre:  Urgggg...(it falls to its knees, then keels over, dead)
Belphanior:  (revitalized as the slain foe's life-force is absorbed by
  his sword)  Ahhhh.
other ogre:  Raaaaargh!  (it charges by Belphanior)
Otto:  (having lined up a shot, he fires, hitting the humanoid in one
ogre:  Aaargh!  (it drops its sword and stops running, instead looking
  at the new arrivals, then back at Mongo, then over the edge of the
  bridge into the deep chasm below)
Alindyar:  Allow me to help you make the choice.  (he waves one hand,
  and the stone of the bridge shifts, forming a large hand that extends
  upward and pushes the ogre off of the bridge)
ogre:  AAAAAAAAaaaaaaa...(vanishes into the mists below, his scream
  continuing for a few moments until a small, distant impact is heard)
Mongo:  (walking toward the group, he waves)


Mongo:  Thanks for coming out, but I didn't really need any help.
Lyra:  Are you suffering frequent attacks from the denizens of the
Mongo:  (sighs)  Yeah.  The people and monsters around here seem to
  think that the fortress is theirs for the taking.  We - well, just
  me, now - have fought off someone or something almost every day since
  coming back here, a month ago.  (he scowls)  Nothing will never get
  inside, at least not while I'm here to stop them.
Alindyar:  Perhaps a more permanent method is called for.
Mongo:  What's that?
Alindyar:  Nothing...for now.  We shall talk of this later.
Lyra:  Where's Lord Marcus?
Mongo:  (sadly)  He left a week ago.  I think he came back here with the
  idea of getting things cleaned up, and raising a new army...but then
  he changed his mind.  I think he realized how much work it would be,
  and then he heard news of problems with the barbarians north of his
  homeland of Tenh.  Given all that, the choice must have been clear.
Otto:  If not easy.  (he stares at the darkened, lifeless fortress)
Belphanior:  Where's Gorin?
Mongo:  His near-death experience overwhelmed him...he was taken back
  to his homeland to rest and recuperate.
Belphanior:  So you've been here all by yourself?  For a week now?
Mongo:  (smiles grimly)  Yeah.  It's not so bad - I've got plenty of
  food and drink, and I get to fight scum every single day.  (he yawns)
  Though it is getting kinda boring.
Belphanior:  That's good to know, because I've come to you with an offer
  of a quest.
Mongo:  (his eyes light up)  Well, I'd be interested to hear more.  (he
  frowns)  But what about Greyspire?  I couldn't stand it if I left this
  place, knowing that bandits and beasts roamed its halls.
Razor Charlie:  (muttering)  They'd kill each other.
Belphanior:  Well, what's the goal here?  Does Greyspire need to be
  guarded at all times?  Were you going to stay here forever?  Is Lord
  Marcus coming back?  What's the plan?
Mongo:  Lord Marcus may come back someday, but not anytime soon, from
  the way he was talking before he left.  The main concern here is to
  keep random, roaming people and things from getting in here.  I was
  just biding my time until I could figure out how to get the place
Alindyar:  (to Mongo)  I think I can help.

  Shortly, they had all gathered just outside the massive main doors
of the fortress.  Mongo had gathered his possessions from inside, and
the slain ogres within had been taken outside and thrown over the edge
of the stone bridge.

Mongo:  Now let me get this straight:  you think you can seal Greyspire
  with your magic?
Alindyar:  Aye.  I cannot mold the spire's stone itself - it bears some
  ancient and powerful enchantment, as you know - but I can certainly
  take _other_ stone and cover the entrances.

  The dark elf proceeded to put on a true show of his power then; he
scooped dirt and rock from the land beyond the guard-house, moved it
several hundred feet through the air, and plastered it all over the
exterior doors of the fortress.  All of this was accomplished simply
by concentration and hand motions.

Belphanior:  (quietly, to Mongo)  I had no idea he wielded such power.
Mongo:  We saw some of this in the depths of Greyspire...but still, it's
  pretty amazing.
Otto:  What about the windows?
Alindyar:  (waves a hand, and smaller chunks of earth float up toward
  the various windows)

  This was one place where the dark elf couldn't reshape reality - he
had to make his changes the old-fashioned way, by moving matter around.
As stated, the stone used throughout Greyspire was highly resistant to
magic, otherwise Alindyar would have simply changed openings to solid
walls.  Still, his actions were proving effective.

Alindyar:  There you go...a two-foot thick barrier of solid granite,
  covering the main doors as well as plugging all windows above.
wispy thing:  (flies over to the stone)  pfsss?
Mongo:  That's not granite, it's loose dirt.  (he walks up to the thick
  sheet of rock where the double entry doors used to be, and taps on it)
  I'll be damned, it _is_ granite.
Alindyar:  I changed it to such, after it was all in place.
Belphanior:  (barely able to conceal his amazement, he wonders if the
  dark elf has been approached by Parekh and her secret sorcerous group)
Lyra:  (admiring Alindyar's handiwork)  A job well done.
Alindyar:  (to Mongo)  Will this be sufficient?
Mongo: sure will.  Thanks!
Belphanior:  So you'll come with us?
Mongo:  It sounds like fun...and like you need someone to bash heads,
Belphanior:  Well...
Mongo:  Hey, it's okay.  We all have our jobs in life, and mine happens
  to be smashing things.  (he pauses)  Treasure?
Belphanior:  So far, it's mostly been powerful magic weapons and other
  items, but occasionally we'll find coins or gems.
Mongo:  That's fine.  Money's sure not an issue for me, and as far as
  magic items go...I've got plenty of extra crap, more weapons and other
  stuff than I know what to do with.  I could never use them all; hell,
  a lot of my items aren't even things I _can_ use, or would ever need.
Otto:  (his ears perk up)  Hmmmmm.
Mongo:  Anyway, I'm currently between wars or quests, so sure, I can
  help you out.  When do we start?
Belphanior:  We'll probably begin tomorrow.  Do you need to pick anything
  up from anywhere else?
Mongo:  Nope, I'm all set as I stand here right now.
Belphanior:  Then we'll return to Parekh's home.  Otto, everyone...let's
  make ready to travel.  (he motions Alindyar to one side, to talk semi-
  privately)  Many thanks for your help, both with finding Mongo and
  sealing Greyspire.
Alindyar:  You are certainly welcome, and I was happy to assist in all
  aspects.  Besides, I believe it would do Mongo much good to get away
  from this place.
Belphanior:  (nods)  One more thing, if you could tell Peldor - because
  I forgot to during our brief time at his inn.
Alindyar:  Certainly.
Belphanior:  One of Greyhawk's Oligarchs is currently being blackmailed
  by hostile forces.  I imagine Peldor will want to do something about
  that.  (he hands the dark elf a rolled-up parchment)  We found the
  evidence early in our looting of Xusia's hideouts, but I've been too
  busy to act on it.
Alindyar:  Aye, I will see that it gets to Peldor.
Belphanior:  Many thanks.  (he turns back to the others)  We'll return
  tonight, and take on a new gateway on the morrow.

next:       explorations are renewed
released:   9/30/05
notes:      I think I have too many characters involved in my stories.
  I guess that's bound to happen after 14 years and almost 900 episodes.

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