Chapter #108

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                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +                   +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +
                                +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1993 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                    +
+                            tmiller@cimmeria.gatech.edu      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY (reunited at last):                             +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      13th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       10th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior     9th/11th/11th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           10th/12th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold      9th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         12th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint       9th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        15th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        12th level human warrior              (N)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    2/1/572 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    early morning                                    +
+   Place:   the coast of an uncivilized continent            +
+   Climate: warm and humid                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "My son, we are pilgrims in a most unholy land."          +
+                                       Henry (Dr.) Jones     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   CVIII.  The Jungle





  The party has sailed far to the south, and reached the
jungle continent where their quarry was recently lost.

Mongo:  Cripes, it's hot!  (wipes his brow)  Hot and sticky!
Arnold:  How cand it be so hot in the middle of the windter?
Alindyar:  'Tis a function of the tropical climate changes.
Rillen:  (in his loose-fitting robe garment, he is perhaps
  the coolest)  Hmm.  (looks into the jungle ahead)  It is
  time to get going.

  The adventurers laid aside, for now, the question of just
how they would find Kiel, and instead decided to concentrate
on penetrating the jungle's depths.  Fortunately, Belphanior
had some skill at jungle travel and survival, so he led the
way into the dense foilage.  Tropical birds shrieked their
weird calls, and insects and other jungle life teemed.

Belphanior:  (hacking through undergrowth with a shiny new
  machete he picked up before the voyage)  Shit.  We'll be
  lucky to move more than a few leagues a day, in this crap.
Mongo:  (also equipped with a machete, thanks to the elf's
  foresight)  I don't know, this is sorta fun.  (chops a
  thick vine in two)
Rillen:  (he and Arnold are also armed with machetes)  Bah.
Arnold:  (chops some vines away)  I don'd understamd.  Why
  cand't we use our swords to cud this jungdle?
Belphanior:  'Cause your sword edge would be dull by the
  time we stopped for lunch.
Flint:  (in the second rank of the party, he is sweating
  profusely)  Whew.
Ged:  (likewise in the second rank)  Maybe wearing armor
  in the jungle wasn't such a good idea.
Alindyar:  (he and Lyra complete the second rank)  Even in
  my robes, I remain drenched in sweat.
Peldor:  (all by himself in the rear rank, seems unfazed
  by the heat and humidity)  Ahh.

  The adventurers were quickly learning the difficulties
of jungle travel.  Though it was shaded and only moderately
warm (as opposed to sweltering, as it would have been two
months later, in this tropical clime) under the roof of the
jungle trees, the humidity was a killer.  In fact, Ged's
acquisition of the decanter of endless water proved to be
a major boon.  Numerous times during the trip, someone or
another had to stop, rest, and be doused with some cool,
clean water.  The fate of the party might well have been
sealed, had there been no endless supply of water.
  Besides the heat and humidity, numerous other problems
arose.  Insects swarmed over the adventurers' bodies, and
could not be kept away no matter what was tried.  There
were gnats, who were merely irritating; there were ants,
who were quite irritating (ever tried to kill an ant who
was under your armor and clothes?); there were bees and
wasps and other airborne menaces, whose stings actually
_hurt_; and there were spiders, which tended to drop from
trees, leaves, vines, or any other handy perch.  Some of
the arachnids were harmless, but others had poisonous, or
even lethal, bites.  It was quite difficult to watch out
for spiders and their webs while trying to make progress
through the jungle.  Peldor was spared the wrath of the
harmful insects, due to a magical ring he had long worn
(and never considered useful) - no insect even came near
the thief.  As for the others, they used mud to help
repel the stinging and biting pests (a trick Belphanior
had learned long ago), but this provided only moderate
protection at best.
  In addition to the climate and the insects, there was
the matter of rashes/diseases/jungle rot.  Within the
first two hours of travel, both Arnold and Belphanior had
somehow contracted an itchy red rash.  Meanwhile, some
kind of fungus had begun growing on Ged's boots.  It was
with no small trepidation that the party stopped for lunch.

Arnold:  (stratching furiously at his rash)  Aaaaaa.  Dhis
  idches.
Belphanior:  (pouring strong wine onto his own skin rash)
  Ow!
Ged:  What, are you crazy?!?  That must sting like hell!
Belphanior:  Yup, hurts like a sonofabitch.  (pours more
  wine on the red rash)  Yie!  I love it!
Mongo:  (dips his head under the decanter's stream of cool
  fresh water)  Aaah.
Flint:  (waiting in line, as are the drow and Rillen)  Hey
  there, hurry it up.
Peldor:  (stretches lazily)  Maybe I should have a turn
  with the machete.  Since I'm not that tired, and all.
  (opens up some rations, and begins eating)
Mongo:  Food!  (leaves the decanter of water and digs into
  his own rations)  Yum!  (tilts back a bottle of beer)
Ged:  You know, alcohol isn't the best thing for you to
  be drinking, under these conditions.
Mongo:  Urp!  ...I don't care.
Belphanior:  (finds that his rations taste like wet dough)
  Ugh.
Ged:  (finds that a swarm of ants has invaded his rations)
  Argh!  (hurls the wrapped food into the bushes)  By the
  almighty Boccob, I'll eat if it's the last thing I ever
  do!  (he casts a spell, creating a huge pile of food,
  more than enough for everyone)  Ahh...mighty Boccob has
  provided for us again!  (he chows down heartily)  Feel
  free to share, guys.
Alindyar:  (enjoys this new, magical food, as do all of
  the others)  My thanks.
wasp:  (stings Rillen)
Rillen:  (crushes the wasp in his hand)  Maybe we should
  have brought that druid, Peyote, along...
Mongo:  And Halbarad!  Those two would have loved this
  adventure!
Belphanior:  And they would have been useful here, too.
  Not like in dungeons.
Rillen:  That is what I was thinking.
Peldor:  (notes with fascination the ring of insects that
  has formed at a five-foot perimeter partway around him)
Rillen:  Hmm, they seem to be watching you, thief.
Peldor:  Worshipping.
Ged:  At last, the "mighty" Peldor has found followers
  worthy of his abilities!  Ha ha!
Arnold:  (chuckles)
Peldor:  Hrmph.  (gets up and walks away)
legion of bugs:  (follow the thief)

  After eating and washing their sweaty, sticky bodies off,
the adventurers were ready to continue.  Peldor replaced
Arnold in the front row of bush-whackers, since the big
warrior wasn't feeling well.  The band continued onward,
heading due south (by Belphanior's and Ged's estimations).

several hours later...

Mongo:  Fuck!  I'm tired of chopping weeds and vines!
Rillen:  (twirls his machete around, then slices a vine
  into pieces)  Hmm, maybe I should learn the use of this
  weapon.
Ged:  If only there was a river heading into this dark
  continent.  Then we could just sail along and not have
  to worry about vines and ants and-
Peldor:  (notices a clearing-type place ahead)  Look!

  Ahead they saw an odd area of jungle.  A rough path had
been...well, eaten through the foilage.  About forty feet
wide on the average, the swath was composed only of barren
ground, stripped trees, and occasional skeletons of small
animals.

Flint:  What the hell...?
Belphanior:  Probably army ants.  I've only heard of them,
  but it is said that they can outrun any land animal and
  mow down entire forests.
Rillen:  This must have been a small pack.
Ged:  Yea.  This is sort of like the "creeping doom" spell
  that the druids favor.
Mongo:  Geez.  Let's just hope that we don't find any army
  ants ourselves.
Arnold:  Thad shoulbd be easy.  (points to either way that
  the swath of destruction heads away in)  We jusd don'd
  follow dhem.
Ged:  Good idea, Arnold!

  With that, the group continued into the jungle, moving
at a right angle to the army ants' trail.  As they left the
scene of the ants' passing, a dark figure high in a tree
watched them.

Belphanior:  Hey!  (looks around)  Some soul just entered
  our area!
Ged:  Where?
Rillen:  (looks around the trees)
Belphanior:  Wait...!  It's gone now!
Peldor:  (scans the trees)  I don't see anything.  (notices
  a swinging branch)  Huh?  (points it out to the others)
Mongo:  Some little bastard must have been watching us from
  up there.
Flint:  Probably gone off now, to bring some buddies.
Belphanior:  Fuck.

shortly...

Peldor:  (perks an ear)  What's that?

  The sound of beating drums could be heard somewhere in
the distance.  Steadily, they beat:  DUM DUM, DUM DUM, DUM
DUM.  The drums of death!

Mongo:  Uh-oh.  They've found us.
Ged:  They?
Belphanior:  You know, some cartographers speak of tribes
  of headhunters in these parts...
Peldor:  Headhunters?!?!?  Nobody said anything about
  headhunters!
Rillen:  I think they are getting closer.
Belphanior:  Yep.  Blackrazor smells 'em.  (raises his
  sword)  They're everywhere.

  The party put away their machetes and hefted their axes,
swords, staves, or whatever.  Sounds now came from every
direction - there was definitely someone or something in
the surrounding jungle.  The magi readied spells hastily.

Mongo:  I don't see anybody.
dark-skinned savage:  (suddenly sails from the trees,
  screaming, toward Belphanior)  Ay-eeeeEEEEEE!!!  (the
  man wields a very large, crude wooden club)
Belphanior:  (slashes into the air)  Yie!
savage:  (falls soundlessly, dead)
Belphanior:  Self-defense!
Ged:  Too late to worry about that.  Look!

  Savages now emerged from every side of the dense jungle,
carrying clubs, spears, and other, stranger, weapons.  The
mob surrounded the party, and numbered perhaps thirty or
so.  The savages wasted no time in attacking.

savages:  (charge from every direction)  YeeeEEEEEE!!!

Mongo:  Shit!
Flint:  (to Rillen)  They sort of look like you.
Rillen:  Perhaps we had some ancestors in common at some
  point.  (bats a savage away with his staff)
Ged:  (having been ready, he launches his Evard's Black
  Tentacles into the attackers)  Back, heathens!
savages:  (ten or so, brought down by the magical things)
  AieeeeEE!
Alindyar:  (casts Confusion, and about a dozen attackers
  begin acting confused, lashing out at each other or just
  standing there)
savages:  Duh?
Peldor:  (hasted and invisible, he easily backstabs one
  savage, downing it)  Whoa.  (becomes visible)
Belphanior:  (slices at another savage, slaying it)  Hah!
Arnold:  (hacks first one, then another savage in half)
  Ah-nold will nod be sdopped by any radsh!
savage:  (swings a club at Mongo, with no effect)
Mongo:  (bashes the attacker aside with his hammer)  These
  guys are wimps!
Ged:  Yea, and we also out-armor and out-arm them!
Flint:  Not to mention out-skill.  (chops a savage aside)

  Quickly, the remaining savages had learned their lesson,
and fled with all due haste.  The party brushed itself off
and debated the wisdom of continuing.

Peldor:  (examining a savage's bloody corpse)  Hey, look
  at _this_.  (holds something up for the others to see)
Mongo:  What's that?
Lyra:  It rather looks like a shrunken head...
Ged:  Bah.
Flint:  What savages they are...shrinking people's heads
  and wearing them at their belts.  Those bastards!
Ged:  I think we need to go on.  I mean, we've got to find
  Kiel, and he's here somewhere.
Mongo:  (grumbling)  Maybe dead, for all we know.  Maybe
  his head's on someone's belt by now.
Rillen:  Yes.  I think we should leave, before an army of
  screaming savages attacks us.
Flint:  To put it simply, we're outnumbered.
Rillen:  We got lucky just then.
Alindyar:  We have come this far - we might as well go all
  the way.
Lyra:  Yes, why not?
Ged:  By my calculations, we're almost halfway there.
Arnold:  Where is "there"?
Ged:  The large lake, said to lie at the center of this
  jungle.  Or at least the center of the _known_ jungle.
Peldor:  I think we should go on.  Maybe the savages have
  found a gold mine or something.  And then, there are
  surely bound to be gems here somewhere, unlooted by the
  hand of civilized man...
Belphanior:  Yea.  I say we go on.
Arnold:  I don'd care, as long as this radsh goes away...

  They continued onward, but not for long.  Belphanior's
sword warned him of souls nearby (many souls, much more
than before), and the party assumed another defensive
posture.

Ged:  (prepares a Wall of Fire)  This time I'm really
  going to let them have it!
Belphanior:  (casts Fly)  Yeah, me too.  Next I'll have
  a fireball ready.
Alindyar:  (prepares a Fear spell)
Lyra:  (prepares a Web)
Rillen:  (prepares his staff, to fight)
Mongo:  Where the hell are they?

  Suddenly, an ambush was sprung!  As one ring of savages
stood up and surrounded the party, wielding clubs and nets,
another rank, in the trees, took aim with blowguns.  Soon,
hundreds of small, poison-tipped darts were whizzing around
the adventurers!  Those in armor were okay at first, but
the ones in only robes or cloaks - Alindyar, Lyra, Rillen -
were quickly pierced by numerous darts.  Lyra's web flew
awry, still trapping a dozen savages; Alindyar never got a
chance to finish his own spell.  Rillen staggered around
for a short time, then dropped, poisoned, joining the drow
on the jungle floor.

Mongo:  (hurls his hammer in anger)  Dammit!
savage:  (crushed into pulp)
Mongo:  Yeah!  Ow!  Ugh!  (gets hit by several darts)
Flint:  (already on his knees, poisoned)  Argh!
Arnold:  (staggers into some savages, chops at two, then
  falls, hit by six darts)
Peldor:  (even invisible, he got nailed, and despite all
  his magical protections, he is quickly unconscious)
Belphanior:  (having completed only his Fly spell; his
  stoneskin has saved him from harm thus far, but is yet
  fading quickly)  Fuck...
Ged:  (due to his magical belt, each and every dart has
  been diverted away, and he stands unharmed)  Boccob!
  (he casts his Wall of Fire, and the blazing barrier
  springs up, driving back all the savages near him)
Belphanior:  (looking around in the chaos, realizes that
  someone else is still alive)  Ged!  Mongo!
Mongo:  (over a dozen darts lodged in his flesh, he still
  fights, bashing savages left and right)  By the gods, no
  puny little _darts_ are gonna...gonna...argh...(he falls
  to the ground)...fuck...(collapses)
Belphanior:  (now flying, sheathes his sword and swoops in
  low, grabbing Ged)  We've got to get out of here!
Ged:  No!  (trying to cast a spell)  We can't leave them!
Belphanior:  (sails around treetops, carrying Ged)  There's
  nothing we can do...right now anyway.
Ged:  Kill the savages!  They killed the party!
Belphanior:  No!  I doubt it.  Probably just sleep poison!
Ged:  Then let's fly down there and rescue them!  I've got
  all kinds of spells to wipe out the savages...!
Belphanior:  You can't cast area spells anyway, 'cause the
  savages are mixed in with the party!  Uh...(notices the
  five darts imbedded in his own skin)  Hey, I think all my
  stoneskins ran out...(they begin to drop gradually, as
  Belphanior loses consciousness)  ...ugh...
Ged:  Hey!
Belphanior:  Look out belowwwwwww.........(they both crash
  through the tree line and back into the jungle, though
  quite far from where the others lie defeated)





next time :  out of the frying pan, into the cooking pot - as
           Ged and Belphanior must find and rescue the others

ftp site  :  ccosun.caltech.edu, in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers

notes     :  This story should reflect, as did the actual
           adventure, my own personal hatred of hot, humid
           climes...
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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