Chapter #131

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                                +
                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +
                                +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    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      15th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       12th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior    12th/13th/13th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           13th/13th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold     11th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+        ?             grey cat (familiar)             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         15th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint      11th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        15th level human warrior              (N)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    n/a                                              +
+   Time:    n/a                                              +
+   Place:   some alternate dimension                         +
+   Climate: n/a                                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "The human mind treats a new idea the way the body        +
+    treats a strange protein:  it rejects it."               +
+                                         - P. B. Medawar     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  CXXXI.  The Blue Forest





  The adventurers have just defeated the evil Mongo and
some of his minions, sparing the small town of Sa-Tarna
from even greater death and destruction.  The townspeople
who remain are quick to congratulate the party on their
success...

random townsperson:  Huh.  You're in for it now, as soon
  as the Dread Lord Ged finds out what you've done!
child:  Yeah!
Ged:  Well, maybe we'll have to take the fight to _him_!
townsperson:  Ulp!  To the Dread Lord himself?!?
Ged:  Him and no other.
Mongo:  Not right now.  I want a beer...(heads toward the
  nearest tavern)  ...and some rest.  Who's with me?
Flint:  I am!
Peldor:  Count Peldor in too!
Belphanior:  Oh, what the hell.  Let's go.
Arnold:  Waid for me.
Ged:  But what if more evil ones come?
townsperson:  Hmm, well, come to think of it, those troops
  that you killed were the only ones we'd seen in weeks.
  There's no chance of other evil troops nearby.
Rillen:  Surely some time to rest and relax is in order.
Alindyar:  Hmm.
Ged:  But-

  Even Rillen followed the others to the inn, leaving Ged
and the two drow standing in the street, surrounded by
dead bodies and gaping villagers.

Ged:  Hmm, maybe it _is_ time for a glass of wine.
Lyra:  Or two...
villager:  Party?  (runs away)

  For the rest of the day (and most of the night) the
warrior-types caroused and got drunk, along with a large
portion of the town's populace.  The adventurers proved
to be quite a boon for the town's economy, as they spread
gold and silver wherever their drunken wanderings took
them.  It seemed that this world and their own had that
much in common, that gold was a precious commodity.  As
it turned out, there were other things that the worlds
had in common, for Peldor and Belphanior were quick to
discover a brothel near the center of town.  The night
passed eventfully, for most of the party members.

  The next morning, the party was finally ready to depart
sometime around noon.  Hangovers abounded, though, as did
confusion.

Mongo:  Oh, my aching head...where are we headed now?
Ged:  North, it would seem.
Alindyar:  ...into the Blue Forest.
Rillen:  Aye.
Belphanior:  To find the other Belphanior, yeah.  This
  promises to be interesting.
Arnold:  (wondering where the other Arnold is)  Aaa.
Peldor:  Ah, it's not a _real_ party till we find this
  world's Peldor!

  They set out, bidding farewell to the villagers...

Ged:  Now, remember all that I told you about Boccob and
  his teachings.
villagers:  Okay.

  The adventurers rode for almost two days, heading north
along a much-used path.  Along the way, they encountered a
band of fearful peasants, a merchant caravan traveling to
the southern lands, and a wagonful of circus halflings.

Arnold:  Halfdings.
Rillen:  What are you small ones doing?
halflings:  (look around)  Who, us?
Belphanior:  Yeah, what indeed?  Stay away from our bags
  or I'll be forced to skewer you.
halflings:  Ulp.
Peldor:  (wondering what Bosco's up to these days)
halfling leader:  Greetings and salutations, noble ones!
Mongo:  What do you want?
Ged:  Hello there, little ones.  Have you ever heard of
  Boccob...?
halflings:  (scratching their heads)  Who?
Mongo:  Hey, we haven't got time to hang around here and
  blab with these guys.  We've got places to be and people
  to smash.
Belphanior:  Yup.
halfling leader:  We are but poor circus performers from
  the north, fleeing harsh lands-
Belphanior:  Probably robbed the local convent...say, have
  you heard of me?  I am...Belphanior!
halflings:  (looking confused)  Who?
Belphanior:  Damn.
Peldor:  What about me, Peldor?  Surely my legends have
  reached even your tiny ears?
halfling leader:  You folks sure are strange.  We'll just
  be on our way.
Alindyar:  So be it.
Lyra:  (wondering why no one in this land seems shocked
  to see dark elves)
Arnold:  (still wondering what the other Arnold will be
  like)
Ged:  Boccob wishes you well, small ones.
halfling leader:  Uh, right.  (their wagon rolls on down
  the road)
Arnold:  Aaa.
Rillen:  I still do not understand the purpose of these
  "halflings".
Mongo:  That's 'cause they _have_ no purpose.

  Surprisingly soon, the trees and branches of a mighty
woodland loomed ahead of the party.  And to the right.
And to the left...
  The trunks, branches, and leaves of the trees were all
varying shades of blue.

Alindyar:  The Blue Forest!  It must be...
Mongo:  Hey, even I could have figured that one out.
Lyra:  It stretches to the horizon in either direction.
Ged:  How observant.
grey cat:  Meow!  (looks around from within Ged's pack)
Flint:  Now _this_ is a forest!
Rillen:  Albeit a blue one.
Mongo:  Well, I guess we'd better head into the place.  I
  don't get the impression that we can go around it.
Peldor:  Safe bet.
Belphanior:  (detecting no souls nearby)  This forest is
  deserted.
Rillen:  Somehow, I doubt that.

  They entered the woodland, guiding their horses through
at a moderate pace.  The huge trees towered over them on
all sides, and the green rays of the sun broke through
the forest ceiling in places.  After about an hour's ride
through the timberland, the horses suddenly became very
nervous.

Belphanior:  Whoa!
Ged:  What's gotten into them?
Mongo:  (dismounts)  I don't know, but I'm gonna go check
  the area.
Rillen:  (also dismounts)  I will accompany you.
Flint:  Could be monsters out there...
Alindyar:  A likely possibility.
Belphanior:  Well, if someone's out there, they don't have
  any soul that my sword can detect.
Arnold:  That's good.
Belphanior:  Then again, lack of a soul doesn't necessarily
  mean lack of a monster...
Arnold:  That's bad.
Flint:  (unslings his axe)
Ged:  (thinking about useful spells)
grey cat:  (peeks out of the backpack)
Lyra:  It's getting dark...

  Before too long, Mongo and Rillen returned from their
explorations, looking relieved.

Mongo:  We didn't find anything out there.
Rillen:  Except a tree frog, but-
Mongo:  'Course, if there's nothing out there, then why are
  the horses so spooked?
Ged:  Hey, your guess is as good as mine.
Peldor:  See!  I knew it!  You're all worried about nothing
  more than a frog!  Ha ha!
several of the party:  Quiet, fool.
Peldor:  (looks around)  Fool?  Where?  I don't see anyone.
Belphanior:  Well, let's get going.

  They continued riding, deeper into the forest, and the
mounts grew more nervous as they progressed.

Rillen:  (looking around warily)
Peldor:  I tell you, there's nothing out there!  Nothing!

  Suddenly, there was a tremendous crashing and crunching
sound as something huge moved through the woods toward
the party.  Some prepared weapons, while others prepared
spells.  Moments later, the trees nearest to the group
were knocked aside, as a fifty-foot long monster emerged
from beyond to face the party.  The adventurers found
themselves face-to-face (to-face-to-face-to-face-to...ad
infinitum) with the dozen-plus heads of a gigantic hydra.

hydra:  RRRRRRAAARGH!
Peldor:  Ulp.





next time:  the battle with the hydra, the forest fire,
            and the discovery of another duplicate

notes:  ("hydra" = 15-headed Lernaean Pyrocryomegahydra)
      Need I say more?
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