Chapter #185

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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 (currently missing three members, but now with  +
+     another, extra member for awhile) :                     +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   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) +
+   Rob           15th level human priest                (LG) +
+   Date:    11/21/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                     +
+   Time:    morning                                          +
+   Place:   Niole Dra, the capital of Keoland                +
+   Climate: cold                                             +
+   "We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to stand    +
+    on the curb and clap as they go by."                     +
+                                            - Will Rogers    +

              CLXXXV.  The Journey's Last Leg

  After hooking up with the long-lost (and presumed dead) Rob
in the capital of Keoland, the party has headed southward, to
their ultimate destination:  the Hold of the Sea Princes.

Belphanior:  (consulting his magical compass)  Shouldn't be
  much longer now...less than two weeks.
Peldor:  (mockingly)  Oh, I can't wait.
Mongo:  (patting his hammer)  Me neither...
Rob:  (scratching his head)  I still don't understand
  exactly _how_ you intend to confront an entire kingdom.
Arnold:  (cheerfully)  Not to worry - we don't know either.
Bosco:  (perhaps unaware of the true ramifications of this
  mission, he daydreams happily)
Rillen:  (discussing military strategy with Gorin)
wispy thing:  (floating along behind the adventurers' horses)

  They made their way south, through the plains of Keoland,
and two days later they reached the Good Hills.  Besides
being inhabited by friendly folk, these hills were also
easily crossed, and by the next day's end, the party had
arrived in Crylor, a small town nestled between the hills
and the Javan River.

Rillen:  I suppose we should ride the river southward...
Belphanior:  Indeed!  We'll rent space aboard a barge.
Mongo:  Or, failing that, we could just _buy_ one.
Rob:  Nonsense!  These river-folk will no doubt be happy
  to aid our quest in whatever way possible.  (he wanders
  toward the numerous docked barges)
Peldor:  Uh-
Mongo:  Yeah.  (he ambles after the priest)  I'll take care
  of it.
Bosco:  (examining a gemmed bracelet)  Hmm.  (he sneaks a
  furtive look after Rob)  Heh.
Gorin:  You didn't...
Bosco:  (looking around)  Who, me?  Not me!
Arnold:  (looking at Peldor)
Peldor:  (shrugs)
Belphanior:  Geez.

  Shortly, they had procured passage aboard a barge, and
within the hour, the entire party, horses and all, was
southward bound, moving along the river faster than any
horse could have galloped.  For four days, they pursued
this course; at that point, the bargemaster balked.

Rugas:  (the bargemaster)  No, no, no!  I told you before,
  my ship's not going into that swamp!
Rillen:  (regarding Mongo)  He told us before?
Mongo:  (shrugs)  Guess I didn't hear him.
Belphanior:  Look here, Rugas.  We have to get to the lands
  of the Sea Princes, and fast.  What's wrong with taking
  the river through some little swamp to get there?
Rugas:  That's no little swamp, that's the Hool Marshes!
  Bandits...monsters...and worse!  (he looks scared)
Rillen:  Perhaps we could double your fee.
Rugas:  No!  I wouldn't go there for _triple_ the fee!
Bosco:  I would.
Gorin:  Monsters, eh?
Rob:  Monsters?  It's been a while since I saw any such
Rillen:  (glaring at the priest)  You're out of practice?!?
Belphanior:  We've got to have a barge!
Gorin:  Do we?
Arnold:  Maybe we'll have to walk through the swamb.
Peldor:  (to Rugas)  Could we buy your barge from you?
Rugas:  Buy?
Mongo:  Yeah, buy.  Good idea.  What's the thing worth?
Rugas:  Uh...
Belphanior:  Okay, we'll take it.  (he hands Rugas a sack
  of small gems)  Rest assured, fellow, you can buy two of
  these barges with what's in that pouch.
Rugas:  (makes a decision, and orders his crew to stop the
  barge on the shore)  Okay, you've got a deal.

  Within minutes, Rugas and his crewmen were standing on the
river's shore, while the adventurers took the barge down the

Mongo:  Err...
Belphanior:  What?
Mongo:  Do any of us know how to pilot this damn thing?
Rob:  I can-  (he bumps his head on a mast, and falls, dazed)
Rillen:  I have some experience with these...vessels.
Belphanior:  Yeah, we'll figure out the rest.

  Somehow, they managed to take the barge downriver, into the
marshlands.  Though not especially thick, or humid (it was,
after all, winter) the swamp was still unpleasant.  Besides
the smell, there were large quantities of, well, gunk that
blocked the river in numerous places.  Still, the party
forged on intrepidly, making good time.

Bosco:  (riding at the top of the mast-pole happily)  I can
  see everything!
Gorin:  (asleep on the barge)  Zzz.
Arnold:  (likewise)  zzzzaaa.
Peldor:  (playing cards with Rob)  No, you have to have a
  better hand than me.
Rob:  But I do.  (he displays his cards, and scoops a pile
  of Peldor's coinage toward him)  A simple game this is.
Peldor:  Bah.  Mere beginnner's luck.
Mongo:  (with Belphanior and Rillen, he guides the barge and
  stands watch)
wispy thing:  (nowhere to be found)

  Meanwhile, in a place far, far away, others were watching
these events transpire...

Lyra:  (gazing into the magical mirror)  Holy...Alindyar!
Alindyar:  (busily mixing potions in the next room)
Lyra:  Alindyar!  Come quick!
Alindyar:  This cannot wait?  I am rather busy-
Lyra:  (grabs her mate by the ear and drags him over to the
  mirror)  Look!
Alindyar:  Eh?  (he spies the others, sailing through a dim
  swamp on a barge)  So what?  Hmm...who is-  By the gods!
  'Tis ROB!
Lyra:  (smirking)  Wonders never cease...

  Back on the river, the hours passed, though the swamp grew
gloomier, and all seemed placid.

wispy thing:  (appears from somewhere and orbits Bosco's head
  frantically)  pfffffft!
Bosco:  (snaps out of his daydream)  Huh?  (he looks around)
  Holy cow!
Belphanior:  (below)  What?
Bosco:  Ahead!  A trap!  (he slides down the mast-pole)  Am-
Arnold:  (wakes up)  Amdbush?!?  Where?  (he draws his sword)
Mongo:  (looking ahead)  Whoa.

  Ahead, a huge log had fallen across the river, leaving a
space of only five feet or so that the barge could pass
beneath.  Of course, the mast was about ten feet high, and
most of the horses stood five feet or higher...

horses:  (beginning to panic, from their primal instincts)
Peldor:  That's not all!  Look!

  Atop the huge log, a group of attackers waited silently.

Belphanior:  Hmm, no souls...
Rob:  Zombies!
Gorin:  Swamp zombies, I'd say.
Rob:  Have no fear!  Trithereon's holy power shall-  huh?
  Where's my holy symbol?
Bosco:  (looking guilty)  You mean that silver thing you
  were wearing earlier?
Mongo:  What do you mean, "were"?!?
Rillen:  (casually)  The log draws near...(he works to slow
  the barge)
Arnold:  (helping)  Aaa.  Either they'd better turn back
  those umdead, or Ah-nold will have to smash...
Rob:  Did you steal my holy symbol, halfling?
Bosco:  Holy symbol?  (looking around)  Where?  Oh, I think
  I sold it the last time we were on shore...
Rob:  (seems flabbergasted)  Aie!  There can be no undead
  turning without-
Bosco:  Oh, wait, I think I kept it.  (he begins digging in
  his pack)
Belphanior:  Argh...(he begins preparing a spell)
Arnold:  (drily)  We're going to hit that log...
Mongo:  Bullshit!  (he winds, and hurls his hammer at the
  massive log)

  The hammer smashed into the heavy, rotten tree trunk, and
a massive thunderbolt followed behind it.  Splinters of wood
flew everywhere, as did zombies and parts of zombies.  As
Mongo caught his hammer and the dust cleared, the others
could see that the huge log was now broken in two, and had
sunken partially into the river.

Rillen:  (squinting)  I think I can guide this raft through
  that opening...but you will have to keep the monsters at
  bay.  I have to steer.
Belphanior:  Not a problem.  (he casts a Flaming Sphere at
  one log-half, and a zombie goes up in flames)  Ha!
zombie:  (runs into one of its fellows, igniting that one
  as well)  gbaaa.
Rob:  (stomping around in circles)  My holy symbol...!
Bosco:  (still searching through his pack)  Hang on, I know
  it's in here _somewhere_...
Arnold:  (hefts his sword as the barge sails by the two log
  halves)  Aaa.
zombie:  (charges down from one of the smashed chunks of
  wood, but loses its balance and slips, sailing down onto
  the barge)  gnrrrr.
Arnold:  Oh, no you don't.  (he slashes, and the zombie's
  two halves separate)  Just like the log...
Gorin:  Good move, Arnold!  (he chops at a zombie that is
  trying to climb aboard from the water)
zombie:  (falls back, half of its head sheared away)  glrk.
Bosco:  (produces a shining silver holy symbol from his pack)
Rob:  Give me that!  (he swipes the thing and begins chanting
  to the zombies)
Arnold:  (stabs a zombie that stands atop one half of the
  broken log)  Ah-nold!
zombie:  (falls back)  nng.
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer, knocking three zombies off of the
  log-half they stand upon)  Yeah!
Rillen:  (guiding the barge through the log-halves)
Peldor:  (uses his ring to TK a zombie into the water on the
  far side of one log-half)  Mighty Peldor need not even draw
  his sword.
zombie:  (boards the barge, behind the thief)  dnnnk.
Peldor:  (whirls)  Whoa.  Where'd _you_ come from?
second zombie:  (trying again to climb aboard)  grrrd.
Gorin:  (chops at the thing, severing one arm)  Away!  Get
zombie:  (refuses to let go)  rrrnk!
Bosco:  Hey!  (hacks at the thing's remaining hand with his
  shortsword)  Take that!
zombie:  (lets go of the barge, and sinks into the water)
Bosco:  Yeah!
Gorin:  (pats Bosco on the back, then pulls him away before
  he, too, falls into the water)
Rob:  (begins pronouncing words of power)

  As the priest waved his brightly glowing holy symbol and
continued to chant, all of the remaining zombies instantly
disintegrated.  Of course, at this point there was only one
zombie left standing, but it nevertheless dissolved before
the power of Rob.

Peldor:  Way to go!
Rob:  No need for flattery - I am but a simple priest-
Mongo:  -who can destroy undead with one wave of his hand.
  We know.
Rillen:  (looking back)  I think we're well past those
  rotting sacks of flesh now.
Belphanior:  (also looking back)  Yup.

  They continued on their way, taking shifts during the
night so that they wouldn't have to stop and camp.  No more
undead were sighted, though, and nothing else bothered them
during the night.  However, the next day...

gigantic troll:  (rises from the water ahead)  Graaaaar!
Rob:  Whoa!  (he begins spellcasting)
Mongo:  Damned if that isn't the biggest troll I've ever had
  the displeasure of seeing.
Rillen:  A jolly green giant...
Belphanior:  Shit!  (he points his staff at the beast and
  shouts a command word)

  A massive bolt of lightning issued forth and hit the troll,
knocking it back into the murky swamp...

Bosco:  Well, I'd say that got him.
Mongo:  Don't be so sure...(he scans the bubbling waters)
troll:  (rises again, despite the charred blast crater in
  its chest)  GRRAAAR!
Rob:  (casts his spell)  Let's see him outwit _this_!

  Instantly, the mud surrounding the troll's lower half
solidified into solid rock!  In fact, all of the mud to
the left side of the troll solidified too, all the way up
onto the riverbank and out of sight!

Belphanior:  Overkill?  I like overkill.
Rob:  (shrugs)  I didn't want to block the river with rock.
troll:  (trapped, its lower half imbedded in solid rock, it
  screames in rage)  GRAAAAR!
Rillen:  Perhaps we should slay it now.
Belphanior:  Normally I would...but this is so funny to
  watch, I think I'll just leave it where it is.
Bosco:  (pulls out his bow)  Come to think of it, I could
  use some target practice.
Rillen:  (piloting the barge downriver)  You'd better hurry,
  then.  The range increases every moment.
Rob:  (almost feeling sorry for the troll)
Bosco:  (firing arrows at the troll)  Damn, missed!
Rillen:  Why don't you get a _real_ bow?  (he indicates his
  own gigantic longbow)
Bosco:  Cripes, that thing's taller than _I_ am!

  They rode down the river, and emerged from the marshes late
that day.

Belphanior:  (scanning a map)  We should be arriving in the
  walled city of Westkeep within a few hours.  Whew.  (he
  wipes sweat from his forehead)  I'm hot...
Rob:  Westkeep?
Mongo:  What country is that in?
Belphanior:  Why, the Hold of the Sea Princes, of course.

  Indeed, shortly after dusk, they docked their barge on the
outskirts of a large walled city, and led their horses into
the place.

Rob:  We're here...Westkeep.
Bosco:  (wipes his forehead in relief)  Then the quest is
Peldor:  On the contrary...the quest is just beginning.

next time :  the plan is hatched

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

notes     :  Time to get this firecracker's fuse lit!

Thomas Miller              
Systems Support Specialist II          Georgia Tech Network Services

"What good is being a hammer when you can't find a deserving nail?"

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