Chapter #161

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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                    +
+                    +
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           14th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       6th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       7th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    10/5/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    lunchtime                                        +
+   Place:   Arnold's village, again                          +
+   Climate: cold                                             +
+   "I'll not listen to reason.  Reason always means what     +
+    someone else has to say."                                +
+                              - Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell   +

                CLXI.  To the Mountains

  At last, all of the party's loose ends have been cleared
up.  The great beast has been slain; Bosco, Gorin, Ged, and
Belphanior have completed their training; everyone is happy
with the current situation.

Bosco:  (to Peldor, as they walk towards the town's center)
  Rillen's only happy 'cause he's got himself a woman.
Peldor:  And what a woman she is...hey, you should be happy
  too, you know.
Bosco:  But I didn't-
Peldor:  Maybe not, but you _did_ get some training done,
  and your skills are showing marked improvement.
Bosco:  Hmm, I guess you're right.

  The two thieves met their companions in a hut, and had
lunch while deciding where to go next.

Ged:  ...I say again, it's time for my quest!
Belphanior:  You mean we're finally going to invade that
  land where they keep slaves?
wispy thing:  (perched on Belphanior's shoulder, it grins)
Ged:  No, you fool.  I wish to recharge my ancient wand!
Mongo:  Huh?  What kind of a quest is that?
Gorin:  Wand?  What wand?
Ged:  I have communed with the almighty Boccob, and the
  answers are clear!
Rillen:  (Songa at his side)  Not to me.  Explain yourself.
Arnold:  Yah, do exblain.
Ged:  Boccob has told me that I must seek the co-operation
  of a major fire-oriented power, perhaps an ancient red
  dragon or an otherworldly fiend.
Mongo:  So?
Ged:  The _willing_ co-operation.
Mongo:  Oh.
Ged:  Obviously, saying that this is a perilous quest would
  be an understatement.
Belphanior:  Just a wee bit, yeah.
Bosco:  (mumbling something about dragons and burning towns)
Gorin:  Wand?
Rillen:  I stand ready.  (he considers what his own quest
  might be, in the future)
Belphanior:  Me too.  Let's go parley with a dragon.
Mongo:  (to Gorin)  Uh-oh.  He's got that look in his eyes.
Gorin:  What look?
Mongo:  That "kill-the-dragon" look.
Arnold:  A dragon?  Ah-nold is readby.
Songa:  (to Rillen)  This sounds dangerous.
Rillen:  It _is_ dangerous.
Ged:  (sees that the party's attention has drifted)  As I
  was saying...
Peldor:  There's more?
Ged:  Of course.  Boccob has even told me where the nearest
  such monster lurks.
Bosco:  Ulp.  He has?
Mongo:  Lemme guess, the mountains to the west?
Ged:  Hey!  How'd you know?
Mongo:  Just a hunch.
Arnold:  Aaa.  The Griff Moundains.
Ged:  Anyhow, the dragon's name is Cinder, or something like
  that.  He's an old one - though I loathe dealing with such
  a monster, the potential good that would come from such an
  encounter far outweighs the moral issues involved...and
  the risks.
Arnold:  Like when we got Bodsco back.
Ged:  Right.  We're in pursuit of pure magical power here.
Mongo:  Well, I guess you're right.  Basically.  I still bet
  we could kick its ass, though.
Belphanior:  Cinder?
Rillen:  An appropriate name.
Lightbringer:  (pipes up)  At least we know an undead isn't
Ged:  Yea...
Peldor:  When shall we leave?
Ged:  I was thinking tomorrow.
Rillen:  (looking sidewise at Songa)  That's fairly soon.
  Let's not be hasty here.
Mongo:  Your wounds aren't healed yet?
Rillen:  Well, they are, but-
Mongo:  Well, then, we have to leave here _sometime_.
Arnold:  Yah.
Belphanior:  (raises a finger)  They have a point.
Rillen:  (irritated)  Very well.  Tomorrow it is.  (he gets
  up and strides out of the hut, Songa close behind)
Ged:  What's got _him_?
Peldor:  Songa, I'd say.

  The remainder of the day was spent in packing, loading
supplies, and other such menial tasks.  Only Rillen was
nowhere to be seen, as he was presumably spending his last
day in town with Songa.

  The day passed, the night fell, and the next morning saw
the party ready to go, for the most part.

Peldor:  (having fallen asleep, fully dressed, near his
  horse)  Zzz.
Ged:  (carrying a sack to his own mount)  Oh, for crying-
  somebody wake up Peldor.
Arnold:  (grabs the thief and puts him atop his horse)
Peldor:  ZzzZZZZZ.  (snorts)
Belphanior:  Yawn.  He's making me tired.
Bosco:  (attempting to be mischievous)  Say, where's Rillen
  this morning?
Arnold:  (looks around)  Aaa.
Rillen:  (appears, fully dressed and packed)  I am here.
Bosco:  Eep.
Gorin:  Good morning to you.

  They rode out of the village shortly after dawn, bidding
their farewells to the few who were awake (Thurnock and
Songa, among others) before they left.  Truly it was a sad
moment, though no one looked back as forlornly as Rillen.
Heading westward at a rapid clip, they crossed the plains,
the cold, whistling wind whipping at their cloaks and packs.
By midday, the massive peaks of the Griff Mountains were
visible on the horizon.

Arnold:  Beholb!  The Griff Moundains!
Ged:  (his eyes alight, he gazes longingly at his drained
  Sueloise fire wand)  Soon...
Mongo:  (muttering unpleasantly)

  They continued to ride to the west, and at one point
encountered a roaming tribe of Frost Barbarians.  Arnold
talked briefly with these people, and then the party was
on its way.

Mongo:  What did they have to say?
Arnold:  Nod much.  Nod much at all.
Belphanior:  Well, that's good.  I guess.
Bosco:  (shivers)

  They camped on the cold plains that night, with the peaks
a mere hour's ride away.  Between Ged's wyvern watch and
the dutiful sentries on guard duty at all times, the party
slept peacefully and safely.
  The next morning, they made for the mountains; Mongo was
able to locate an old pass within half an hour.  They made
their way up this rocky trail, using Belphanior's magical
compass to ensure that they were heading in approximately
the right direction.

Belphanior:  (regarding the item)  Yeah, dead ahead, two
  days' ride.  Oddly enough, this trail is dead on the
Rillen:  Hmm.
Bosco:  Don't say "dead" like that.

  Later that morning, the party was ambushed by a pack of
wild trolls (was there any other kind?) as they rode along
the pass.

Belphanior:  Hey, souls!  Twelve of 'em...
Ged:  Boccob!  (immediately begins spellcasting)
Peldor:  (goes invisible)

  A dozen huge, green trolls leaped from all sides, and
charged the party.

Rillen:  Don't let them get the horses!  (he buries two
  arrows in an oncoming troll)
troll#1:  Argh!  Urgh!  (it looks at the pair of shafts
  in its chest)
Ged:  (casts Hold Monster, and two trolls are stopped in
  their tracks)  Freeze!
troll#2:  (held)  Huh?
troll#3:  (held, loses its balance and topples over)  Ow!
Belphanior:  (points a wand at some of the trolls, and
  a fireball sails in their direction, exploding and
  spraying flame in all directions)  Burn!
troll#4:  (roasted to a crisp, dies instantly)
troll#5:  (likewise)
troll#6:  (burned badly)  Augh!
troll#7:  (burned badly)  Waugh!
troll#8:  (burned slightly)  Ergh!
troll#9:  (burned slightly)  Orgh!
Belphanior:  Hah!
Arnold:  Whoa, hordsie!  (leaps off his horse and hacks at
  a troll)  Aaa!
troll#10:  (wounded seriously, it spews blood and staggers)
Arnold:  (chasing the monster down)  Get back here!
troll#1:  (bats Gorin, who happens to be the nearest)  Grg!
Gorin:  Yow!  (knocked from his horse, he falls to the hard
  ground, but quickly rolls into a fighting stance, axe and
  shield at the ready)  Yah!
troll#1:  (surprised)  Huh?
troll#6:  (swings at Rillen, who has dismounted to protect
  his horse)  Graaa!
Rillen:  (ducks the clumsy blow, and bashes the troll in
  the head, knocking it down)
troll#6:  (scratches Rillen with its other claw as it hits
  the ground)  Graie!
Rillen:  Argh!  (wipes blood from his furrowed side)  Ugh!
  (he buries his staff's pointed end in the troll's face)
troll#6:  (dies)
troll#7:  (claws at Bosco, who is running around like a
  monkey, but misses with both arms)  Huh?
Bosco:  Whee!  (he somersaults about)
Peldor:  (backstabs the prone troll#2, slaying it with a
  lethal slash; the thief becomes visible again)  Aha!  At
  long last, and after months of hiatus, Peldor strikes!
Mongo:  Quit your blabbering!  (he tosses Stormcrest at
  one of the trolls)  Yah!
troll#8:  Ghurk!  (slain instantly)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer, and charges another troll who
  is fairly close)  You're next!
troll#12:  (looks around)
Arnold:  (catches up with troll#10, and cuts it down right
  as it prepares to rend him)  Ah-nold!
troll#10:  (dies, cloven in two)
Gorin:  (hacks troll#1, wounding it)  Chew steel, ugly!
troll#1:  (lashes out at the dwarf, hitting with one claw)
Gorin:  Argh!  (he reels)
wispy thing:  (flits in front of the troll's face)  pffft.
troll#1:  Huh?  (it swats at this new pest, distracted)
Bosco:  (following Peldor's example, he backstabs troll#3,
  wounding it seriously)  Yeah!
troll#3:  (magically held, thanks to Ged, it fumes and
  gnashes its teeth)  Blrg.
troll#9:  (swipes at Ged, knocking him from his horse)
Ged:  Urgh!  (hits the ground)  Ow!
troll#9:  (tries to rend the elf)  Graar!
Ged:  Boccob!  (he rolls aside, dodging the blow, and leaps
  to his feet, Lightbringer in hand)  I am far from a puny,
  helpless weakling, troll!  (he glances at his girdle of
  giant strength)  Come and face me!
troll#9:  Aaargh!  (charges)
troll#11:  (bites at Rillen, but only rips the warrior's
  tunic)  Rargh?
Rillen:  (rolls aside)  Hah!  Thought you had me, eh?
troll#11:  (yells expletives in trollish)
Rillen:  (raises his staff and faces the monster)  Come and
  get it.
troll#12:  (amidst the melee, it gets clobbered by Mongo
  and Stormcrest, and falls, stunned)  Ourgh!
Gorin:  (chops the distracted troll#1 again, opening a new
  wound)  Hah!  For the dwarves!
troll#1:  Argh!
wispy thing:  (sails upward)  zzzzz.
troll#1:  (swipes in vain at the thing, then regards Gorin)
Gorin:  Fuck you, too!  (he charges)

Bosco:  (backstabs troll#3 again, slaying it)  Yeah!
Belphanior:  Yaaa!  (leaps at troll#11, slashing at the
  big monster)  Die!
troll#11:  Argh!  (it reels)
Rillen:  (bashes the troll)  Hai!
troll#11:  Yargh!
Belphanior:  Good one-two punch, there...
Rillen:  Aye.
Ged:  (wallops troll#9 with Lightbringer)  For Boccob!
Lightbringer:  Die, scum!
troll#9:  (staggers)
Gorin:  (chops at troll#1 again, slaying it)  Yeah!  (he
  dances about in victory)
troll#7:  (rips at Mongo from behind, knocking him down)
  Yargh!  (it beats its chest in triumph)
Mongo:  Argh!  Grr...
Arnold:  (appears from one side as his sword lops off the
  troll's arm)  Ah-nold!
troll#7:  Argh!  (staggers, and falls)
Mongo:  Yeah!  Thanks, big guy!
Arnold:  No probdlem.
Belphanior:  (stabs troll#11 again, slaying it)  Aahhh...
troll#12:  (claws at Mongo, but its blows are deflected
  by the dwarf's plate mail)  Rargh!
Mongo:  Chew on this, slimy!  (he bashes the thing with
  Stormcrest, pulverizing its head)  Hah!
troll#9:  (claws at Ged, tearing bloody wounds with both
  claws and its fangs)  Grargh!
Ged:  Yeaaargh!  (he reels)
Peldor:  (backstabs the troll, opening its broad back with
  near-surgical precision)  Never fear, Peldor is here!
Ged:  (groans)  Great.  I'll never hear the end of this
  one...argh.  (he sags from his wounds)
Rillen:  (looking around)  That's all of them.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  (feeling rather invigorated, since he
  absorbed a troll's life energy)  Let's pile 'em up, and
  I'll make a fire.
Ged:  Fire...
Belphanior:  You rest and heal the others.  And yourself,
  come to think of it.  I'll fireball the carcasses.
Ged:  (weakly)  Okay.
Arnold:  (offhandedly)  Peldork saved you.
Mongo:  Well, I wouldn't go _that_ far...
Ged:  Really.
Peldor:  (sighs)  As usual, the deeds of the mighty Peldor
  go unappreciated by all.
Belphanior:  Back off, everybody.  (he prepares to cast a

  Shortly, the trolls' bodies were ablaze, and the party
moved a distance away, where they healed the wounded - Ged,
Rillen, Mongo, and Gorin - with spells and items.  When all
this was over, the adventurers decided that the time had
come for a break.

Belphanior:  Whew, all this work makes me hungry!  Let's
  eat lunch!

next time :  the dragon

ftp site  : in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  It's amazing how many people figured out, on
           their own, what Ged would want to do, even as his
           player and I arrived at the same conclusions
           independently.  Guess I did a good job, over the
           years, of showing where the elf's interests lay.
             Another thing:  though I mentioned, in the FAQ,
           that I have a large collection of books, movies,
           CDs, and comics to draw quotes from, credit must
           be given to Robert Byrne, who writes the "637 Best
           Things Ever Said..." series (five so far) - when
           I don't have a good quote from one of my various
           collections, I can always count on one of his
           books to have an appropriate line for a story.
             Another thing:  tonight (2/24) is the Meat Loaf
           concert at Atlanta's Fox theater.  I guess his
           music is the kind you either love or hate; I like
           it, and am absolutely thrilled that I have a ticket
           on the 11th row (if you want hints about how to get
           good tickets for concerts, email me.)  This should
           be a _damn_ good concert, especially in light of
           his current - and successful - comeback.

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