Chapter #159

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



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 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.oit.gatech.edu  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/13th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           13th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       4th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       6th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    9/17/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    late morning                                     +
+   Place:   Arnold's village, in the lands of the Frost      +
+              Barbarians                                     +
+   Climate: cold                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "I never eat anything I cannot identify."                 +
+                      - Ramirez, from (sic) _Highlander II_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





    CLIX.  World Tour, part 9:  Intermission (The Hunt)





  Having stayed the night in Arnold's home village, within
the Frost Barbarian lands, the adventurers woke up well
after noon, most of them with hangovers.

Belphanior:  (wanders around, rubbing his neck)  Ohhhh...
Mongo:  (snoring in a corner)  ZZZZZ!
Rillen:  (staggers into the hut)  Truly I must strive more
  strongly to maintain my discipline.
Bosco:  (curled up in a ball by a fireplace, he sleeps
  happily)  zzz.
Ged:  (walks around, griping something about strong wine)
Gorin:  (sits up and groans)  Urgh.  Water...need water...
Rillen:  Good idea...
Peldor:  (limps into the hut)  Ow.  Ow.  Ow.
Belphanior:  What happened to you?  You look like shit.
Peldor:  Ow, I can barely walk...what a night...
Arnold:  (strides into the hut)  Up and ad it, peoble!
Rillen:  (finishes gulping down a jug of water)  What?
Arnold:  It's time for the gread hundt!
Ged:  Hunt?

  Within minutes, a breakfast of dried fruits, baked ham,
hot bread, and cold water was served, while Arnold talked
about the hunt.

Arnold:  It's time for a hunt.
Bosco:  (rubs his eyes sleepily)
Ged:  Why's that?
Arnold:  (shrugs)  Becaudse it's time.  There's always
  time for a hunt.
Mongo:  Fine, but what are we hunting?
Arnold:  The gread beadst, of course.  To the nordth.
Mongo:  Oh.
Ged:  Why would I want to hunt?
Arnold:  Food.  Furs.  Bones.  Fat for our canbdles.  It's
  not just a spordt, it's survival for the tribe.
Ged:  By Boccob, I see no need to join a hunt.
Bosco:  Right on.
Arnold:  Fine then, don'd come.
Mongo:  (hefts his hammer)  Ah, but what great beast can
  stand before Stormcrest here?
Arnold:  None.  Thad's why we don'd use any magic in the
  hundts, or armbor either.
Mongo:  Huh?
Peldor:  No armor?  No magic items?  No spells?
Ged:  Quiet, fool, you know you can't cast spells.
Peldor:  Ah, you'd like to think that, wouldn't you?
Arnold:  (grabs a huge spear from a wall rack and hefts it)
  We barbdarians don't use or need magic.  We only use our
  tribdal sbears, and our shields, and our muscdles.  No
  armdor, no glowing weapons, no returning hambers, and NO
  sbells!
Ged:  Oh.
Rillen:  Ah, a _true_ test, at last.  (he doffs his robes
  and bracers, setting them atop his staff and bow)  When
  do we leave?
Mongo:  Hmm.  (he ponders an itemless hunt)  Hmmmm.
Peldor:  Well, you can count me out.  I don't need to do
  any hunting, not in my condition.  Besides, I never did
  enjoy such pursuits.
Bosco:  Ditto.
Ged:  Yea, me neither.
Mongo:  Well, I'd like to join you, but I've got to help
  Gorin do some training here.  It could take weeks.
Arnold:  Thad's okay, so could the hundt.
Mongo:  Oh.
Bosco:  Hmm, training...(he ponders ways to train in this
  village)
Peldor:  Not to worry, I'll help you.
Arnold:  (considers reminding the thieves that there's
  nothing in the village worth stealing)  Aaa.  So who's
  width me?
Rillen:  I.
Gorin:  (sees that Mongo really wants to go)  Hey, look,
  I'll be fine on my own here.  Go and hunt.
Mongo:  Well...if you're sure...
Gorin:  Don't worry, be happy.
Mongo:  Okay.  I'm going.
Belphanior:  Hell, count me in.  This ought to be fun.
  (he wonders where the wispy thing got away to)

  Shortly, Arnold took the three warriors to the town's
furrier/clothier, where they procured garments of thick
hides, covered with furs.  Equipped with hoods, these
warm, light garments also covered almost all exposed skin
on the wearer's body.  Arnold explained that, without heavy
armor, the hunting party could move more quickly, but good
protection from the elements was still crucial.  It seemed
that all the myths of half-naked barbarians running merrily
through frigid, snow-covered plains were just that - myths.
Anyhow, along these lines, they were also outfitted with
thick, padded boots, which were perhaps the warmest, most
comfortable footwear that the adventurers had ever worn.

Arnold:  Good, warm, well-fitting snow boods are impordant
  in any hundt.

  They also prepared backpacks, filling these with cured
meats, dried seeds and fruits, and minimal quantities of
water-filled skins.

Arnold:  We'll have no probdlem finding water up there.
Mongo:  Up where?
Rillen:  Nordth.
Belphanior:  I guess we'll be melting snow for drinking
  water.
Arnold:  Yah.

  For weapons, they would carry huge spears, averaging
eight feet in length, whose shafts were almost two inches
thick.  The weapons' razor-sharp, multi-bladed heads
seemed big enough to fell even the largest animal.

Arnold:  We need these when we hundt the great beadst.
Belphanior:  What exactly are we hunting here?
Arnold:  (shrugs)  The great beadst.  You simbly have to
  see it to unberstand.
Mongo:  Well, that's encouraging.
Rillen:  (hefts one of the barbarians' massive hide-covered
  shields)  And these shields will protect us from this...
  beast's attacks?
Arnold:  Maybde.  Maybde not.
Rillen:  (tosses the shield away in contempt)  Bah.  I have
  never needed a shield, and I won't start now.
Mongo:  Well, I'll take one.
Belphanior:  Me too.  Shields are highly underrated.

  Stripping themselves of all their magical items, the four
adventurers prepared to depart.  Of course, Belphanior had
to assure Arnold, and the other barbarians, that he wouldn't
call upon any previously memorized spells, much less his
magical red eye.

Belphanior:  That would be overkill.
Arnold:  Don't jedst.  This hunt will call for sdrength,
  stambina, and skill.  It's very dangerbous.
Rillen:  Like I said before, a true challenge.
Mongo:  Yeah.

  Besides the four adventurers, there were four barbarians
coming along on the hunt.  Olaf stood a mere six-foot-six,
which made him even with Rillen, but he was rather broad,
perhaps three hundred-fifty pounds.  His wild red hair and
short beard made him stand out among the other tribesmen.
Sigfried was a more typical Frost Barbarian, about seven
feet in height, though he was a bit on the gangly side, as
he was barely out of his teens.  Long blond hair flowed
halfway down his back.  The third of Arnold's kinsmen was
no man, but a woman, Songa, who ranked somewhere between
Belphanior and Rillen in height, perhaps six-foot-four or
so.  To complement her height, she was truly amazonian in
proportions, and was probably stronger than any of the
adventurers, save Arnold and Mongo, and perhaps Rillen.  She
was the tracker for the group, being possessed of skills
which, according to Arnold, bordered on the uncanny.  Light
brown hair adorned her rugged, proud face, and she was quite
beautiful, in a fierce, wild sort of way.  The last of the
barbarians was Thurnock, who was six-nine or so, and rather
powerfuly muscled.  A sub-chief in the tribe, he had hand-
picked the other three for this particular hunt.  He was a
bit older than the others, having seen perhaps thirty-five
winters, but age had not in the least sapped his strength.
He also seemed to have wisdom beyond that of the average
barbarian.
  The band of eight set out before noon, marching northward
at a high rate of speed, almost a run.  Arnold hadn't been
kidding - this trek took every bit of endurance and willpower
that the adventurers had; some of those who had stayed behind
wouldn't have made it.  They moved along, taking occasional
and brief rests, and drinking sparingly.  Songa seemed to be
following some kind of tracks, but she didn't speak much of
the matter.  For three days, they headed northward, and by
the time the Corusk Mountains came into view, the ground was
well-covered in clean, white snow.

Rillen:  (barely able to concentrate in the presence of the
  warrior-huntress Songa, he takes every opportunity, as he
  has for the last three days, to talk with her)  ...and
  then I moved to the semifinals.
Songa:  With a broken arm?
Rillen:  (shrugs)  There was no quitting.  Besides, I got
  better eventually.
Songa:  Hmm.
Rillen:  As I recall, that foe was called "Torm"...he was
  almost as tall as Sigfried there.  Of course, that's not
  unusual, to you, but still, he was a mighty foe.
Songa:  (nods appreciatively)  It must have been a great
  tournament, with much honor to be had.
Rillen:  Indeed.  It is good to speak with others who hold
  honor above all else...
Thurnock:  (to Arnold)  It would seem that your Rillen has
  made a new friend.
Arnold:  Yah, well, he doesbn't usually act like this.
Mongo:  No kidding.  I hope her man doesn't find out about
  this attention.
Olaf:  Heh.  Well, not to fear.  Songa's unmated as yet -
  she's turned back every would-be suitor.
Belphanior:  Why's that?
Olaf:  (flexes his arms)  None of them could best her in
  combat!
Sigfried:  Ha ha!  Indeed!
Thurnock:  Well, if she takes to him, he'll certainly get
  his chance.  Like all the others.
Mongo:  Heh.  Let's hope he doesn't botch it.
Thurnock:  (shrugs, apparently a common and oft-used gesture
  among these people)  If it was meant to be, then she'll
  choose him, and fight him.
Olaf:  Aye.  The fates at work!  (he looks to the sky)
Arnold:  On the othder hand, she's a picky one...

  The snow grew steadily deeper, and by midday, the hunting
party was knee-deep in the stuff.

Songa:  (bends down, examining a track in the snow, a track
  that the others didn't know was there)  Hmm.
Rillen:  The beast?
Songa:  Aye.  At last, the beast!
Belphanior:  I'll say.

  The elf was regarding the huge footprint, which resembled
something a lion or tiger might leave, except that it was
about six inches deep and almost a foot long.

Sigfried:  Llerg, but it's a big one this time!
Mongo:  _This_ time?!?
Thurnock:  Of course.  We don't hunt just for sport or the
  meat.  Sometimes one of these beasts comes down, from the
  mountains, and hunts our people.
Belphanior:  Really?
Songa:  Aye.  We've lost a number of herd animals, not to
  mention three of our people.
Sigfried:  See, the thing's not picky about where its meals
  come from.
Mongo:  Swell.
Thurnock:  After their time of feeding, the beasts always
  return to the mountains, for a time.  But it will come
  back down to the plain, this winter.  It's not yet sated,
  nay, far from it.  That's why we're hunting it, now.
Arnold:  (grinning)  I didn't wand to ruin the surbrise for
  you.





next time :  the great beast

ftp site  :  ftp.cs.pdx.edu in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  The last few stories have been a welcome break
           from the normal mode of the adventurers.
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