Chapter #111

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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:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   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:    2/20/572 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    morning                                          +
+   Place:   Gradsul, a city in Keoland                       +
+   Climate: cold                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "We love to fly, and it shows."                           +
+                                   - Delta Airlines          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                       CXI.  To the Air!





  After resting and packing for two days, the adventurers
are prepared to embark upon their mightiest quest to date -
the journey to the Sea of Dust!  This trip is not a trivial
one, for it means travelling two hundred leagues (about six
hundred miles) just to reach the Hellfurnace Mountains to
the southwest - and that is the distance only if moving
along a straight-line path.  The mountains span another
fifty leagues (a hundred and fifty miles), assuming that a
pass can be found.  Then there is the Sea of Dust itself,
the Forgotten City being an estimated two hundred leagues
from the Hellfurnaces.
  Fortunately, Ged has thought to try his new magical
item, the "sky balloon" given to him by Kiel, for this
journey.  In a deserted field, the others watch with no
small anticipation as the elf experiments with the blue
sphere.

Ged:  (speaks the command word quietly, lest thiefly
  ears overhear him)

  The little round item literally leaped from Ged's palm,
and spun about in the air, changing and growing.  After
five seconds, it was a foot or so in diameter.  After ten
seconds, its diameter had grown to the height of a man.
After fifteen seconds, the balloon-sphere part was huge,
and a sizable cabin had appeared beneath it.  Metallic
ropes snaked out, imbedding the spikes on their ends into
the ground.  The huge balloon bobbed and weaved, but could
not float away, as it was anchored.  The cabin was about
seven feet high, and rather large, looking able to hold
the entire party with ease.  The various adventurers now
swarmed around the balloon, awestruck.

Mongo:  What the hell...?
Ged:  Boccob...(wanders into the cabin, by opening the
  thick wooden door)
Flint:  (touches the wood of the cabin)  This is like no
  wood I've ever seen.
Alindyar:  Fascinating.
Lyra:  Quit gawking.  You just wish that you had one.
Arnold:  Aaa.  (draws his sword)
Rillen:  Careful, you do not want to pop it.
Arnold:  Bop it.
Flint:  I don't think he _can_.
Arnold:  Don'd tell Ah-nold whad he can amb cannot do!
Flint:  No, I meant that the balloon isn't made of any
  wimpy stuff.  (pokes the rounded undersphere of the
  thing with a finger)  It's pretty tough.
Rillen:  (sets his staff down and commences trying to
  climb up one side of the balloon)
Belphanior:  (stands back with his hands on his hips)
  Well, _this_ oughtta help speed up our trip!
Peldor:  Yup.  (wondering how one steers the thing)
Rillen:  (falls to the ground)  Oof.  The balloon is not
  suitable for climbing.

  Ged was now inside the cabin, looking around.  All in
all, it was the size of a small room, and had a wooden
table and several chairs.  Toward the front (?) of the
cabin was a large wheel, rather like those found on sea-
going ships for steering purposes.  To the right of the
wheel was a large lever, mounted in the vertical cabin
wall and currently pushed as far down as it would move.
To the left of the wheel, and built into the cabin floor,
was a second, larger lever.  This one was pulled all the
way back.  Aside from these devices, no other controls
were visible.  Numerous windows afforded a view of the
outside, the largest one being mounted right in front of
the wheel and other controls.

Ged:  Hmm.  I say we try this thing out right away.
Mongo:  Uh...yeah.
Ged:  Of course, since it's _my_ balloon, I can do what-
  ever I want with it anyway...
Peldor:  That you can.
Ged:  (looks around)  Anyone who wants to go, hop in.
Peldor:  (leaps through the cabin door)  _I've_ never
  been afraid of heights, myself.
Alindyar:  (he and Lyra board the balloon)  This is most
  intriguing.
Arnold:  (lumbers into the cabin)  Ah-nold is ready to
  go.  Err...where are we going?
Ged:  Up!
Belphanior:  (boards, and begins turning the big wheel)
  Whee.
Ged:  Hey, leave that alone.  You're liable to wreck the
  whole balloon.
Peldor:  (having already boarded, he is playing with one
  of the levers)  Who, me?
Mongo:  (reluctantly boards the ship, followed by Flint)
  Hey, I don't like this at all.
Flint:  Is it safe?
Rillen:  (finally gives up on climbing the balloon, and
  enters the cabin, closing the door behind him)  Since
  I cannot climb _up_ the thing, I will ride _in_ it.
Ged:  Glad you saw it that way.  (grabs the floor-mounted
  lever and moves it forward)  Hmm.  Nothing's happening.
Belphanior:  Hey, try this one.  (grabs the wall-mounted
  lever and pulls it upward)
Ged:  Wha-

  The whole cabin shook, as the massive balloon began to
move.  The anchor ropes outside dislodged themselves
from the ground and retracted into the underside of the
cabin.  Then the balloon began to rise, rather quickly
at that...

Rillen:  Aie.
Mongo:  Shit!
Arnold:  Whad's habbening?
Ged:  By Boccob!  (grabs the wall-mounted lever and
  pulls it downward, resulting in the skyship returning
  to the ground, its landing/anchor ropes automatically
  imbedding their spikes into the ground)  Whew.
Belphanior:  That must be an altitude control.
Ged:  Yep.  Must be.  Now let's try this again...  (he
  slowly moves the lever upward, and the ship rises into
  the sky, more slowly this time)
Peldor:  Wow.  It really works.
Ged:  (guides the ship upward, using the wall-mounted
  lever, which obviously controls altitude)  Yes, by the
  hair of Boccob's head, it does!  (he grabs the floor-
  mounted lever and pushes it forward)
Peldor:  Whoa!

  The balloon picked up horizontal speed, and was now
whizzing along, though Ged only had the floor lever at
the halfway point.

Ged:  Speed control.  (he turns the big wheel, and the
  balloon responds, changing its direction to the right)
Belphanior:  How simple.  Why, even _I_ could operate
  this ship...
Ged:  Not a chance.  You'd fly us into a mountain or
  something.
Belphanior:  The thought never crossed my mind.
Mongo:  Say...does this mean that we're on our way to
  the Sea of Dust?
Flint:  Yeah, we've already got all the food and stuff
  we'll need.
Rillen:  (looking down to the ground below)  Judging by
  our speed, we have already left the city of Gradsul
  behind.
Ged:  (peers out of a window)  Hmm, you're right.
Belphanior:  (holds his compass out)  Time to see if
  this thing really works.  (addresses the compass)
  Where is the Forgotten City of the Sueloise?

  The small needle of the magical item spun around,
then fixated itself in one direction.  Ged turned the
wheel of the balloon to compensate, and the skyship
sailed through the sunny blue skies, headed west.
  Within an hour, they were over the Dreadwood Forest,
at an (estimated) altitude of two hundred feet or so.
For the rest of the day, they remained over the wood-
lands, sailing merrily along.  By the time the sun was
low in the sky, the adventurers had crossed the Javan
River, and the Little Hills were in sight to the west.

Ged:  It's getting dark.  Maybe we should set down and
  camp.
Alindyar:  Does the item require a resting phase?
Ged:  I'm not sure.
Peldor:  (peering through a window)  I think I see a
  town over yonder.  We could stop there.
Mongo:  Yeah.  I _could_ eat my rations, like I did
  for lunch, but a hot meal would be better.
Flint:  Not to mention some cold beer.
Arnold:  I am gedding bored sidding in a balloonk all
  day long.
Belphanior:  (looking at a map)  Hey, at the pace we've
  made today, we'll be at the mountains' edge by dusk
  tomorrow.
Ged:  Yep.  (he pulls the altitude lever, taking the
  balloon down)

  They set down in a field outside the town, to avoid
questions and confusion on the part of the locals.

peasant boy:  (inside a nearby hut within a farming
  village, looking out the window)  Hey, Mom!  Look
  out the window!  A bunch of people just came out of
  the sky in a big blue thing!  Golly gee whiz!
boy's mother:  (busy cooking dinner)  Now stop your
  babbling, you little brat.  How many times have I
  told you not to make up silly stories?
peasant boy: (sighs)  Aw, mom...



  Shortly, the adventurers walked into the small town
of Longspear, within the Little Hills.  The place was
a bustling trade center, full of demi-human and human
inhabitants alike.  Business had quieted down somewhat
since dusk was upon the place, but yet it was not long
before the party was eating happily in a loud, merry
tavern.

Mongo:  Ah, now _this_ is the life!  Travel by day, eat
  by night!  (guzzles some grog)  And fight bad guys
  from time to time.
Peldor:  Urp!  Don't forget the treasure part.

  Everyone slept well that night, and morning saw the
adventurers refreshed and ready to travel once more.

Ged:  (pulls the miniaturized balloon out of a pocket)
  What a great item!  Surely Boccob smiles upon all of
  his loyal servants.
Peldor:  (wishing a bird would come by so he could use
  his telekinesis ring to do something nasty to Ged)
Alindyar:  Verily, the time to continue on our great
  quest has arrived.
Rillen:  I still think this journey is meaningless.

  After replenishing their supplies and rations, they
walked out to the fields, north of the city's walls,
and Ged prepared to use the balloon again.  Shortly...

Ged:  (looking down upon the fields and hills as they
  sail overhead)  Ha!  Those land-bound fools.



  Below, a mob of peasants had gathered, watching the
skies in awe.

peasant:  Look!  Up in the sky!
second peasant:  What could it be?
third peasant:  It's a bird!
fourth peasant:  It's a dragon!
peasant hag:  A demon!  It's a demon from hell!
peasants:  (some make holy signs and cringe)
peasant boy:  (quivering in fear, soils his pants)
peasant girl:  Eeeeew.



  The adventurers made good time again today, passing
through (over) the Little Hills by noon.  A hearty, if
cramped, lunch was had in the balloon's cabin, and Ged
was soon faced with a momentous decision...

Ged:  Hey, I'm hungry.
Belphanior:  That means that you have to let someone
  else drive this thing while you eat lunch.
Peldor:  Hey, I'll do it!
Ged:  Not a chance, pal.
Belphanior:  You can trust _me_ to steer this craft.
Ged:  Nope.  (to Alindyar)  You shall be the one to
  operate the balloon.
Alindyar:  Me?
Ged:  Yea.
Alindyar:  Very well.  (he takes the wheel, and Ged
  opens his pack and prepares his meal)
Lyra:  (watches with interest as Alindyar steers the
  craft)  This is a most useful item.  We should get
  one.
Alindyar:  'Tis not as difficult as it may appear.

  Belphanior used his magical compass to point the
way to the Forgotten City, and Alindyar had to make
an adjustment, steering the balloon a bit more to the
southwest.  Eventually, Ged took the wheel once more,
and the next several hours were passed looking over
the rather fertile lands of the Yeomanry.  As dusk
approached, there were no cities or towns to be seen,
though a distant mountain range was visible on the
horizon.

Ged:  Hmm, it's getting dark.  I'd rather not travel
  at night, since I'm not used to this balloon.
Peldor:  Yea, you know how those really tall trees
  pop up at nighttime...
Ged:  Quiet, fool.  We do what I say.  And I say we
  rest for the night, not ride.
Belphanior:  Aw, come on.  It'd be such fun!
Ged:  I think not.
Peldor:  Let's just land in the grasslands there.
Alindyar:  A good idea.
Ged:  We'll land in a few minutes, once it gets a bit
  darker.
Belphanior:  Bah.

  Soon, they had landed and disembarked, and Ged had
used the command word to shrink the balloon into its
miniature sphere form.  Camp was made, dinner was had,
and a guard rotation was chosen.  Mongo and Flint
would take first watch, Arnold and Ged second watch,
Belphanior and Rillen third watch, and Peldor fourth
watch.

Ged:  (casts a Wyvern Watch upon the campsite)  That
  should help.  (points to the hazy black effect as
  it appears)  Just be sure not to touch it, or walk
  near it.
Mongo:  Don't worry.  Get some sleep.  We'll guard
  the camp.
Ged:  (yawns)  Thanks.  I am kind of tired...

  Several hours afterward, near the end of Mongo and
Flint's shift, there was a loud yelp from the edge of
the camp!

Ged:  (bolts upright)  Something has triggered the
  wyvern watch!  (grabs his morningstar and dashes
  forth in his loincloth)
Flint:  (hefts a torch and trots after the elf)

  At the edge of the camp was lying a prone child,
obviously a victim of Ged's spell.

Ged:  Hey, it's just a boy.
Flint:  Cripes.
Mongo:  (comes running)  Who's this twerp?
Peldor:  Congratulations.  You paralyzed a little
  kid.
Mongo:  Give it a rest, thief.
Ged:  (approaches the immobilized lad)  For crying
  out loud...(snaps his fingers, dispelling his
  spell)
boy:  Uhhh...
Ged:  (grabs the kid)  Get up.
boy:  (stands up shakily)
Mongo:  What were you doing sneaking into our camp,
  kid?
boy:  Please don't hurt me!  I was just looking for
  some food!
Ged:  Food?
boy:  My family has been starving for days now.  We
  haven't had any food since our crops dried up in
  the fall.
Belphanior:  He does look kind of skinny.
Ged:  Look, kid.  Stealing is not the way to get what
  you need.
Peldor:  (raises his hand)  Now-
Ged:  (hands the boy ten gold coins)  Now you go and
  give these to your father.  Tell him that Boccob is
  responsible for his good fortune.
boy:  (his eyes light up)  Gee, thanks!
Ged:  What is your name, lad?
boy:  I am Val.  (dashes away into the night)
Peldor:  You shouldn't have fooled him like that.  I
  mean about Boccob and all.
Ged:  Shut up.  The last thing the world needs is more
  thieves.

  The rest of the night passed without further incident,
and in the morning, the group took to the air once more.
On this third day of travel, they sailed over the grassy
lands of the Yeomanry, and as noon approached, the huge
crags of the Hellfurnaces loomed ahead of the adventurers
and their sky balloon.

Ged:  Aha!  We have reached the mighty Hellfurnaces at
  last.
Flint:  Geez, those mountains sure look high.
Peldor:  And this from a guy who's _used_ to mountains.
Belphanior:  Yeah, I wonder if this crappy balloon can
  cross above them.





next time :  crossing the Hellfurnaces

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

notes     :  It's been a while since I wrote.  Two reasons:
           1.  My car won't run anymore, so I can't just go
           and write whenever I want to.
           2.  I recently bought a Super Nintendo...
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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