Chapter #911

previous chapter (#910)                                                                  next chapter (#912)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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       +
+   1991-2006 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 +
+   Jenna          9th level human female priestess of Istus              +
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven warrior                             +
+   Otto           10th/13th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  11th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        13th level human wizard                                +
+   wispy thing    strange, intangible sentient being                     +
+   Ys             14th level reptilian fighter                           +
+                                                                         +
+   Parekh         18th level human female wizard                         +
+   Drak           14th level human barbarian warrior                     +
+   Neera          11th level human female sage/astrologer                +
+   Pallin         17th level grey elven wizard of Celestian              +
+   Date:          8/22/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:          midday                                                 +
+   Place:         Parekh's home (exact location unknown)                 +
+   Climate:       cool                                                   +
+   "It has fallen upon me, now and again in my sojourns through          +
+    the world, to ease various evil men of their lives."                 +
+                      - Solomon Kane, from _The Castle of the Devil_     +

                   CMXI.  Death of a Tyrant

  Two days have passed since Belphanior's deadly assault on the city
of Monmurg, capital of the Hold of the Sea Princes.  There are a number
of possible repercussions, some of which may not even be known yet...
but one loose end is about to be tied up.

Belphanior:  Wake up.
Prince Creon:  (slowly awakens, groggy)

  They were in a small room with no windows, in a place where they
couldn't be tracked or found.  The former ruler of Monmurg was tied
to a chair, his arms bound behind his back.  He had been unconscious
for more than a day, kept that way intentionally by magical means.
At long last, Belphanior had decided it was time to rouse the prisoner
and have words with him.

Belphanior:  Your Royal Highness, Prince Creon of Monmurg...Ruler of
  the Azure Sea, Captain of all Fleets, and so on and so forth, blah
  blah blah-  (he kicks the man's chair, almost knocking him over)  It
  was fun while it lasted, eh?
Prince Creon:  How dare you?!?  (he struggles to break free of the ropes
  which bind him, but to no avail)  What gives you the right to address
  me so?!?
Belphanior:  Well, you're tied up and I'm not, so there's one reason.
Prince Creon:  You're nothing...just a wanderer, a murderer, a commoner.
Belphanior:  I came through your kingdom once, several years
  was Westkeep, to be specific.  That day, I freed a thousand slaves,
  and in doing so, also inflicted a substantial amount of casualties and
  property damage.  A small party of powerful, motivated individuals was
  sent after me, and they all met their doom as well.
Prince Creon:  (sulks silently)
Belphanior:  And then, while minding my own business, I ended up in
  custody, as you no doubt remember...and was sentenced to death via
  mock trial.  But I got rescued, and in the process took out a bunch
  of your high-ranking officials.  Tyros, the mayor, the high wizard...
  all dead on that fateful day.
Prince Creon:  (looks devastated)
Belphanior:  And it's all your, and all those who think
  that it's okay to capture and enslave other people.  Still, I might
  have let it go after I escaped, except for two things.  First, when
  I was in your dungeons, an old slave told me that everything I did
  in Westkeep made a him and many other slaves.
Prince Creon:  (spits on the floor)  Nonsense.  It is our right, and
  always has been, to ensure slavery-
Belphanior:  And that's why you and all those like you have to be taken
  down - to make the world a better place.  As for the other reason for
  my attack on Monmurg...I warned you, when my head was on the chopping
  block, that I'd get my revenge.  (he smiles thinly)  And now, Monmurg
  lies in ruins.  I destroyed its armories, its temples, its government
  buildings.  I slew most of its city guards and crippled its greatest
  military asset - its seaborne fleet.  I emptied its vaults and then
  collapsed them with an earthquake...which, I might add, appears to
  have caved in quite a few other parts of the city.
Prince Creon:  Monmurg will never fall!  The Sea Princes cannot be
  defeated so easily-
Belphanior:  (ignores him)  And now you're here, in custody.
Prince Creon:  Custody of whom?  By what authority?  (he sticks his
  chin out defiantly)  You're nothing more than a terrorist!  Ransoming
  me will never work - the Prince of Toli, the Plar of Hool, the Grandee
  of Westkeep, the Commodores of Flotsom and Jetsom...none of them will
  negotiate with you.
Belphanior:  That's a good list of names.  Thanks.
Prince Creon:  Such a list will do you no good, since they won't give
  in to any demands you make.
Belphanior:  I'm not looking at them as political contacts - I'm looking
  at them as targets.
Prince Creon:  (frowns)  Oh.
Belphanior:  Well, this conversation is about over.
Prince Creon:  (flinches)  What now?  Torture?
Belphanior:  No.  That's not my style, and honestly, I doubt you'd have
  much information that we didn't already know, or that is even relevant
  now given the destruction of much of Monmurg.
Prince Creon:  Bah.
Belphanior:  What surprises me, to be honest, is that you have no real
  skill or power...nothing special that explains how you came to rule
  in Monmurg.  You're not a veteran warrior, or a secret wizard, or even
  a master thief.  You're just a guy whose brother happened to be the
  king, so you killed him and took his throne by virtue of your royal
Prince Creon:  (grimaces, saying nothing)
Belphanior:  Still, you're dangerous in your own way, or at least you
  were...and it's always been my personal philosophy never to let an
  enemy live.  (he draws his sword)  I'll make this quick, which is
  better than you deserve.
Prince Creon:  (pales)
Belphanior:  (stabs the other through the heart, his black blade drinking
  the dying man's soul)
Prince Creon:  (gasping, he dies)
Belphanior:  And so it ends.

  The elf left the room, using a door that was nondescript to the point
of being concealed.  Outside the room - whose walls, floor, ceiling, and
door were specially-lined and shielded - several others waited.

Belphanior:  It's done.
Parekh:  (sighs)  Just because I constructed a room like this doesn't
  mean I ever wanted to have to use it.
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  It had to be done, and I did it.  He didn't get
  tortured, or suffer.  And we already got the information we needed out
  of him via ESP magic.
Otto:  Any enemy you let live is someone who will someday point a knife
  at you, or aim a crossbow at you.  Once someone makes it clear that
  they intend to do you harm, the only sane response is to beat them to
  the punch.
Parekh:  I don't need to be lectured on this - I'm no Circle of Eight
  member, you know.
Otto:  Okay, sorry.
Drak:  What do you want to do with the body?
Belphanior:  It needs to be destroyed, beyond any trace of recognition
  or any means of location.
Pallin:  I can handle that.
Drak:  (to Belphanior)  You did the right thing.
Belphanior:  Oh, I know.

  Belphanior and Otto had joined Parekh (plus Drak and Pallin) for a
post-attack conference.  The rest of Belphanior's team (and Mongo) were
resting in another section of Parekh's home, while Neera was busy
researching the magical items gained from Monmurg's vault.  In truth,
there hadn't been many such items, as the vault had mainly been for
hoarding material riches such as coins and gemstones.  Still, the few
magical treasures were enough to occupy the ever-curious sage.  As for
Alindyar and Lyra, they had departed immediately following the Monmurg
attack, claiming to be tired of battle and kingdom-challenging ventures.

Belphanior:  So you've been checking in on Monmurg after our visit there?
Parekh:  Yes.  The city's still in shambles; the earthquake you had Mongo
  create did a lot of damage, more than we initially thought.
Belphanior:  Good.
Parekh:  In addition to collapsing the armory and the entire city block
  around it, the tremors apparently collapsed most of Monmurg's sewer
  system as well...which in turn caused a number of buildings or streets
  above those pipes to cave in.
Belphanior:  (frowns)
Parekh:  What?
Belphanior:  I was just wondering how many innocent citizens of that
  city died in the attack or its aftermath.
Otto:  There are no innocent citizens.  People who support something bad
  by not doing anything or moving elsewhere are guilty, remember?  We
  talked about this.
Parekh:  You did, but we didn't.  Even if all bystanders in Monmurg were
  considered guilty by association, that doesn't apply to the children
  who died.
Belphanior:  (nods sadly)  True...
Otto:  Look.  Ideally, the way to do this would have been to issue some
  kind of all-points warning to every single resident of Monmurg, letting
  them know that slavery was being abolished and that if they chose to
  remain there, they risked property damage or death.  But...that's not
  a strategically sound move, since they'd just know we were going to
  attack.  Plus, the real leaders would almost certainly get away.
Belphanior:  We can improve upon these things next time.
Parekh:  Next time?
Pallin:  (frowns, his eyes widening)
Belphanior:  Next time, as in Toli, Hool, Westkeep, Flotsom, Jetsom, and
  all the other centers of the Sea Princes' civilization.
Parekh:  You mean to're not done?
Belphanior:  Not by a long shot.
Otto:  You can't step on an anthill and just leave.  The ants will just
  go somewhere else and build another anthill.
Belphanior:  Or in this case, we've destroyed one anthill, but a dozen
  others remain.
Drak:  I'd call them termites, actually...or maybe even worms.
Otto:  (shrugs)  Scum is scum, no matter how many legs it has.
Parekh:  (sighs)  Out of curiosity, how many "non-innocent" men, women
  and children will die in this lengthy campaign?
Belphanior:  (somewhat confused)  As few as possible.  Why?  (his eyes
  narrow)  You weren't expecting us to succeed as well as we did!  None
  of you really thought we could pull it off and cause that much damage,
  did you?
Pallin:  (clearly worried, he exchanges glances with Parekh)
Drak:  (suddenly wishing he was elsewhere)
Belphanior:  Well?  I'm not hearing any answers.
Pallin:  What you did is genuinely impressive; it's not every day that
  one person takes on a kingdom and wins.  But it's also a dangerous
  precedent, even for kingdoms that were unaffected by what you did.
Parekh:  From this day forward, you'll be under threat of death when you
  least expect it, possibly from a direction you fail to anticipate.
  That's no way to live your life!  You can't ever settle down or stop
  looking over your shoulder.
Belphanior:  (shrugs, untroubled)  The situation you describe is no
  different from the last few years.  It's not your style, but I can
  live with it, and I do.
Pallin:  Yes...but that no longer matters.
Belphanior:  Why not?
Parekh:  Because there isn't going to be a "next time".
Belphanior:  (caught off-guard)  Come again?
Pallin:  (makes the slightest of gestures)
Parekh:  We're not going to help you attack any more cities.
Belphanior:  You're not?  (he suddenly realizes that something is amiss,
  and glances to his left)  Otto?

  The dwarf was unnaturally stiff and unmoving, with his eyes, mouth,
and arms all in positions that could not have been maintained normally.
In a single motion, Belphanior drew his sword and spun around, instantly
arriving at the only possible conclusion.

Belphanior:  (glaring at Pallin, but keeping Parekh and Drak in his
  field of view)  What the fuck have you done to him?!?

next:       uh-oh
released:   3/17/06
notes:      Originally, I planned to have episode 911 be the return to
  the lost continent and those there, but I decided it was best to wrap
  this arc up (at least for now) right after the big battle.  Then again,
  I'd hate to leave you with a cliffhanger like this, so let's say 912
  will be the last Belphanior episode for a while.

previous chapter (#910)                                                                  next chapter (#912)