Chapter #1091

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic VI     +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     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       +
+   1991-2021 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!                                          +
+   Halbarad       15th level human ranger of Ehlonna                     +
+   Peldor         20th level human, Greyhawk Guildmaster of Thieves      +
+   Rillen         18th level human warrior monk                          +
+   Songa          13th level human huntress                              +
+   Date:          11/20/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:          early evening                                          +
+   Place:         the Green Dragon Inn, in the Free City of Greyhawk     +
+   Climate:       cold outside, warm and pleasant inside                 +
+   "Obviously you can pull together a list of reasons you can't do       +
+    things, as long as your arm, but that wasn't the way you did things  +
+    in those days.  What you really did is say...Why can't we?"          +
+                  - Gene Kranz, NASA Flight Director for the Gemini      +
+                    and Apollo programs                                  +

                   MXCI.  Catching Up

  As twilight approached, old companions found themselves gathered around
a table, enjoying a supper whose items were plentiful in both quality and

Halbarad:  Many thanks for this magnificent feast.
Peldor:  (spreads his hands)  It was nothing.
Songa:  (looking around)  You must be doing well.

  They were in Peldor's personal dining room, far from prying eyes and
ears.  This was a chamber he used when necessary, whether it was to catch
up with old friends or to wine and dine notable personages.  Over time,
the private dining room had proven useful for both purposes; it was safe
from casual spying due to its location in the inn, as well as its thick,
tapestry-covered walls.

Peldor:  It's also protected against magical scrying, though very few
  people know that.
Rillen:  How did you manage that?
Peldor:  Favors from archmagi.  (he spreads his hands)  It's interesting,
  the sorts of people I find myself dealing with these days.
Halbarad:  (studies the master thief)

  Peldor had aged a bit in the ten years since the original adventuring
group had first met - his hair was thinner, and his face a bit fuller -
but he was still the same rogue who'd shared in so many quests and other
escapades.  The twinkle in his eye was still there, he spoke confidently,
and he was clearly right where he wanted to be...just like he'd always

Halbarad:  You seem to be doing well here.  Thriving, even.
Peldor:  (shrugs)  I took all that coin I made on our adventures, invested
  it wisely, got lucky, turned it into more...and repeated that process
  several times.  Plus the inn here is doing well.
Rillen:  Are you still engaging in...secret activities?  Robberies and
Peldor:  (cryptically)  Not me!
Halbarad:  (smirks)
Peldor:  (sighs)  Actually, the answer to that last question is "I wish."
  I'm honestly too busy - between running the Guild, running this place,
  spending time with my family, and keeping abreast of all the goings-on
  in Greyhawk and the surrounding areas - to do any actual thieving, or
Songa:  The inn has changed much since the old days.  You have a magician
  and a bard, and your young ward seems to be in charge of the bar now.
Rillen:  And of course, Bosco is running the gambling area.
Halbarad:  (idly wonders what would happen if the boisterous halfling was
  forced to wear the enchanted ring of truth)  Heh.
Peldor:  All true...but enough about me.  Tell me more of this great sea
  voyage you undertook.

  And they did.  For the next half-hour, the three who had been there
related the entire journey of the _Odyssey_...the long and perilous four-
month voyage, with all of the challenges and strange obstacles the ship
and its crew encountered and overcame...the discovery of the huge island,
along with the vast wall of mist that surrounded it, and the water that
destroyed the ship's hull, and of course the potent dead magic zone that
shrouded the whole place...the subsequent months of being stranded there,
including the early expedition inland that left the smaller group trapped
in the vast and dangerous basin ringed by mountain peaks...the deaths of
Weaver and Dervan at the claws and teeth of the local fauna...and then the
eventual discovery of the strange, deceased beings (gods?) who seemed to
have set everything into motion.  The tale ended with the recounting of
the impossible sight of the entire island (or perhaps more accurately the
small continent) rising out of the sea and into the sky...followed by the
journey back to the Flanaess, a trip greatly shortened thanks to the magic
of the high priest Relmar.

Peldor:  (eyes wide)  So let me get this right...the whole place just flew
  away?  Along with the remains of the _Odyssey_, and all of the others
  who'd been aboard, alive or dead?
Halbarad:  That's right.  We'll never know what became of them.
Songa:  (frowns)  We'll also never know what that OTHER ship was, the one
  whose stern was sticking out of the side of the big cavern.  My biggest
  regret - after, of course, the loss of all our shipmates and the total
  failure of the mission - was not getting a chance to climb up there and
  see what was inside that vessel.
Rillen:  (subtly changing the subject, as he doesn't want his wife to
  ponder these matters yet again)  We would also have words with Eyer and
  Leila, whenever we see them next.
Songa:  That, too.  While I do believe they tried their best to mount a
  rescue mission, I have...stern words for whoever refused to support such
  a voyage.
Rillen:  (imagining the warrior-woman beating the hell out of a bunch of
  spineless politicians, he frowns)
Peldor:  So your friend the priest thinks the whole place was created and
  brought here by some group of lost gods?  And has now returned to them,
  along with everyone and everything still there when it flew up into the
Halbarad:  That's right.  And Peyote's divinations produced the same basic
  conclusion.  (he frowns)  Although those might have been influenced by
  wild mushrooms, so one never knows.
Peldor:  And what about that black ooze, or slime?
Halbarad:  Who can know?  It might have come with the gods, or it might
  have arrived in that other ship, the one stuck in the wall high above
  that vast cavern's floor.  Whatever its origin, I'm guessing that it
  began its existence as a much smaller blob of jelly, and then it killed
  and consumed a number of the strange gods...and gradually grew to the
  enormous size we witnessed when we encountered it.
Songa:  (shudders at the memory)  No one - man or god - deserves to die
  like that, eaten alive.
Rillen:  At least it's gone now.
Peldor:  (nods)  I can't imagine what would happen if something like that
  escaped into the world.  (he shakes his head)  Damn weird story, when all
  is said and done.
Halbarad:  I know.  Sometimes I can hardly believe it.  (he reaches into
  a pocket, producing a large green gemstone)  But I have a memento.
Rillen:  Hmm.  I never thought to take one.
Halbarad:  We also have wood from that place, which we used to fashion a
  number of arrows.  (he produces one, examining it for a moment)  I've
  been thinking, and I figured that maybe some wizard, somewhere, could
  study this and decipher its mysteries.  (he hands both the crystal and
  the arrow to Peldor)
Peldor:  What?  I'm no wizard.
Halbarad:  But you know one...several, actually.  More to the point, you
  will see them before I do.  (he nods toward the two items)  Tell them
  our tale, and with any luck, they can make something of these.
Peldor:  I' that.  So Peyote and Daffodil...?
Rillen:  They have returned to their old ways.
Songa:  (rolls her eyes)  Whatever those were.
Halbarad:  Knowing them, we won't see them again for a while.
Peldor:  Hmm.  So, as an outside party to all of the events you've just
  recounted, I have a question for all of you.
Rillen:  What's that?
Peldor:  You still seem to want to explore new lands...and although your
  original mission went sideways-
Songa:  (drily)  "Went up" would be a better description.
Peldor:  Point.  Anyway, just because it ended badly doesn't mean such a
  quest always will.
Halbarad:  What do you mean?
Peldor:  I mean that the basic idea was a good one, and the planning,
  preparation, and execution were well-done and would have worked, if not
  for the...oddity that you encountered.  (he stands up)  So I'm saying
  this:  why don't you try again?
Rillen:  Try...again?
Peldor:  Another voyage, another crew, another chance to draw new maps
  where the existing ones end.  You've already encountered many of the
  dangers along the way - like that immense whirlpool - and can avoid
  those.  Take everything you learned the first time, and then use that
  knowledge to benefit the second voyage.
Halbarad:  (frowns)
Songa:  Hell, no.  Those unnamed bastards who abandoned the expedition,
  once things got bad...I'll never trust them again.
Peldor:  Then don't.  Find some other way of funding the trip and building
  the ship, and manning it.
Rillen:  That would be a lot of work.
Halbarad:  Not to mention damn near impossible, financially.  We'll never
  find someone to back such an endeavor.
Peldor:  Don't be so sure.  There are always people willing to sponsor a
  voyage, if the motivation is right.
Songa:  Your idea is a good one, but the wound is too raw at this time.
Rillen:  Agreed.  Maybe it can be looked into one day, but not now.
Halbarad:  (thinking about what it would take to make another such voyage
  successful, he shakes his head)  I also feel the same.
Peldor:  Well, it was just an idea.  I had to point it out.
Rillen:  And we thank you for it.

  The four adventurers talked for a bit longer, before the three visitors
retired to their rooms for the night.  Peldor had insisted that they stay
at his inn, as his guests, before departing on the morrow for wherever
their hearts next took them.  It was obvious that Halbarad would go his
separate way from the other two; he had mentioned "orcish troubles" more
than once tonight and seemed to have some purpose there.  As for Rillen
and Songa, it was unclear what exactly they intended to do next.  Peldor
suspected it might have something to do with wilderness, lack of people
to bother them, and the hunting and tracking of wild game.

Peldor:  (leans back in his chair, deep in thought)

  The master thief was at the center of a virtual web of information from
a variety of sources; as such, he already had a fairly good idea about the
identities of those who had funded and supported the doomed voyage of the
_Odyssey_.  Of course, he hadn't shared that information with the trio who
he'd just dined with, as doing so might have led to violent repercussions.
At this point, he was more focused on the possibility of a second such
exploration - and for multiple reasons.  First and most important, that
truly seemed to be what his friends wanted.  Second, there was some real
benefit to knowing what lay beyond the Flanaess and the known portion of
the world.  And last but certainly not least, a new land could potentially
hold riches beyond measure...rivers of gold, mines full of huge gemstones,
magical lakes, and so on.  Unfortunately, if such were actually discovered
in a new land, many more explorers would follow, along with colonization
efforts that would undoubtedly despoil and ruin the new land and anyone
who already lived there.

Peldor:  (sadly)  Maybe it's best that such a voyage _not_ happen.

  One thing was for sure, he thought as he stood to head upstairs and join
Tanya in their chambers.  If people to crew such a voyage could be found
and enlisted, then sponsoring and funding it would not be a problem.  He
had a rough idea of the total cost of such an initiative, and personally
knew at least three individuals capable of paying that cost, should they
wish to.

Peldor:  (sighs, extinguishing the oil lamp in the room as he leaves)

next:       back to Belphanior
released:   9/10/2021
notes:      I had to check; the last major Peldor update was episode 652,
  which took place almost two years ago in the fictional world.  He did
  do a few things since then, though:
    - (2/4/579) got things in order (episode 652)
    - (3/20/581) helped Belphanior hire Whisper (episode 979)
    - (4/17/581) invested a ton of money for Belphanior (episode 986)
    - (5/3/581) arranged meeting b/tw Belphanior and Whisper (episode 993)
    I didn't re-hash all of those events here, but things have basically
  remained the same since the events described in episode 652:  he and
  Tanya have settled down, their kid is almost three years old now, the
  inn is a nice place with additional entertainers, and competent people
  in charge of various functions (Leonardo, Vinnie, Felicia).  Stability
  can mean happiness, and Peldor can do his job and sit back and let the
  money roll in.  It's semi-retirement, with occasional flashes back to
  the "good old days."
    This, by the way, is _exactly_ the situation in real life, with my
  good friend who played Peldor.  He got married, moved away far enough
  to keep him out of trouble, had a kid, and settled down to a life very
  focused around the three of them.  Every year or so, I hear from him...
  and every five years or so, his travels take him here and we go to eat
  and catch up.  Hell, except for the kid, I've done just about the same
  thing - the days of drunken chaos and crazy situations are in the past.
    This makes me think, I should do a "where are they now, 2021 edition"
  sometime.  I do know that one's completely vanished, off the grid and
  unheard from in over a decade...and another one's deceased, sadly.  But
  most of the rest should be pretty easy to track down.
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