Chapter #198

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                                +
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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:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      15th level dark elven mage              (N) +
+   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 elf priest/mage   (NG) +
+   Lyra          12th level female dark elven mage       (N) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       7th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       8th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+                                                             +
+   SPECIAL GUEST STARS:                                      +
+                                                             +
+   Halbarad      13th level human ranger                (NG) +
+      Zephyr     large wild tiger                       (NG) +
+   Peyote        11th/12th level half-elf warrior/druid  (N) +
+      Blok       earth elemental                         (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    1/17/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    midday                                           +
+   Place:   the Land of Black Ice, to the far north          +
+   Climate: sub-freezing                                     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Did you see anything?"                                   +
+   "Someone left the door open and the wrong dogs came       +
+      home.                                                  +
+                            - from _High Plains Drifter_     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  CXCVIII.  Black Ice





  Having found the Rune of Water in the seas far to the
south, the adventurers had teleported away.  However, the
place they have ended up is not quite the destination they
expected...

Belphanior:  (sneezes)  Hey, this isn't Greyhawk!
Bosco:  Nope!  It never snows this much in Greyhawk.
Rillen:  (looking around in surprise)  What now?
Mongo:  (suddenly invigorated by the instant transition
  from sea to land, he yells with joy)  Yeah!  I feel
  GREAT!
Lyra:  Brr.
Ged:  (turns to regard a fellow standing nearby)  Who the
  hell are you?

  The man, a middle-aged, bearded human of medium build,
was garbed in the royal purple of Boccob.  He raised a
gnarled staff and pointed at the party.

fellow:  I am Idris, a high priest of Boccob from the land
  of Furyondy.
Belphanior:  (considering melting the man's bones, if he
  continues to point the staff this way)  Hey, watch it
  with that staff, buddy.
Idris:  Relax!  I am a friend.
Halbarad:  (to Ged)  He speaks the truth...my ring tells me
  so.
Ged:  I know.  Idris, why are we here?  We were supposed to
  be transported to Greyhawk!
Alindyar:  Hmm, Ravel must have rerouted us.
Idris:  It would seem so...my group (he gestures to a band
  of priests and warriors) and I were sent northward after
  a Rune.  I would assume that you are here to take over
  that very quest from us, seeing as how you are much more
  diverse and capable.
Peldor:  We are?  I mean, yes, sure we are!  That's us!
Rillen:  Rune?
Peyote:  Whoa.
Ged:  Then the seventh Rune hasn't been recovered yet?
Idris:  It would seem not.  Surely we would have known by
  now.  The forces of evil are reportedly converging on it
  even as we speak, though.
Belphanior:  (consulting his magical compass)  Yup, it's
  northward...about two days' march.
Idris:  Within the Black Ice of legendary fame...we were
  actually waiting on its borders.
Belphanior:  (coughs)  And now we're here with you.
Idris:  That's why we carried this medallion of Boccob...
  (he displays an item identical to the one Ged wears)  In
  case you needed to be transported to our location.  Of
  course, I didn't really think that Ravel would-
Mongo:  Hell, let's go!  (he starts walking northward)
Idris:  (points at Arnold)  Perhaps you should help your
  friend first.  (he produces some weeds and kneels down
  to feed them to the warrior)
Ged:  What have you got there?
Idris:  These magical herbs will revive him and dispel his
  exhaustion, rendering him able to march and fight now.
Arnold:  (sits up)  Aaa.  I'm back.
Peyote:  Whoa!  That's some cool weed you've got there, man!
Idris:  Indeed.
Mongo:  (glad to see Arnold up and about, but still rather
  impatient)  Let's get going.
Idris:  Do you know where you are going?
Mongo:  Err...
Idris:  I thought not.
Belphanior:  The last Rune, right?  In the land of Black
  Ice?
Idris:  Exactly.  That place is right on the horizon (he
  points to the north) and since it's morning, you should
  get there well before dusk.
Arnold:  I thought it was dudsk back in the sea...?
Peyote:  Hey, he's right.  I never thought of that.  It
  was dusk in the sea, now we're here, and it's morning.
  What gives?
Alindyar:  (looking rather perturbed)  When one moves
  rapidly across entire lines of longitude, the sun's
  position can change.
Mongo:  (utterly confused)  Huh?
Ged:  Hmm, I should have thought of that myself.
Peldor:  So _that's_ why I feel so tired.
Idris:  Anyway...within the Black Ice, somewhere, the
  Rune of Time awaits.
Belphanior:  The Rune that binds all the others?  (visions
  of power dance in his head)  Ah...(he coughs)
Idris:  Nasty cough you have there, fellow.  Perhaps the
  sudden climate change made you ill?
Belphanior:  Doubt it.
Ged:  (casts a Cure Disease on Belphanior, touching his
  forehead suddenly)
Belphanior:  What?!?
Ged:  I just cured any diseases you might have.
Belphanior:  Keep your hands off of me!  (he stalks away)
Ged:  You're welcome.
Mongo:  Hmph.
wispy thing:  (doing loops in the air around Idris' head)
Idris:  Eh?
Rillen:  Well, we really should be on our way.
Ged:  Yea.  Idris...make sure Ravel knows what's going on.
Idris:  I will.  You people be careful up there - there's
  no telling what you'll face.  We'll begin our trip back
  south.

  Shortly, the two groups separated, one heading northward,
the other southward.  The adventurers bundled up, against
the icy weather, and trudged northward.

Halbarad:  I have a question.
Rillen:  So ask it.
Halbarad:  Well...hmm.  Err...who shall carry the Rune of
  Water?
Lyra:  What do you mean, "who shall carry it"?  I'm carrying
  it.
Peldor:  I think what he means is, he wants it for himself.
Bosco:  I knew it!
Ged:  Hmm.
Halbarad:  No, no, no.  I simply wondered who might be the
  most appropriate bearer of the item.  In case of attack
  and such.
Ged:  Hmm, he's got a point.
Alindyar:  I would volunteer Mongo to bear the item, if he
  is willing.  Otherwise, there really is no room for any
  complaints.
Ged:  _I_ could carry it.  I'm powerful.
Peldor:  Hah.
Mongo:  Cripes.  If it'll make you all quit your arguing,
  I'll take it.
Lyra:  Perhaps...but you can't actively _use_ it in battle,
  whereas I can.
Mongo:  (rubs his beard)  You're right on that count.
Ged:  Hmm...
Rillen:  Maybe we could take turns carrying the item?
Belphanior:  Sounds good to me.
Alindyar:  (growing angry)  This is nonsense.  We magi
  who do not engage in physical combat are the ones who
  can best use the Rune.  Thus, we should carry it.
Lyra:  Well put.
Halbarad:  Hmm, perhaps you are right.
Alindyar:  Of course.
Ged:  (still unsure)
Peldor:  I think he's right, too.
Mongo:  Yeah.
Bosco:  (somewhat insulted that _he_ didn't get voted to
  carry the item)  Let's hope so.

  Within the hour, the band of adventurers had reached the
legendary domain, that whispered about by common folk and
heroes alike - the Land of Black Ice!  The snowfall here
was a deep blue-black, as was the accumulation, and the
sun's rays glistened oddly from the ebon surface.  They
left the white snow they had been marching across, and
entered the darker snow; the transition was unusual, to
say the least.  Guided by Belphanior, they made good time,
stopping a few hours later for lunch.

Alindyar:  (winded, as are some of the others)  This march
  grows...difficult.
Lyra:  Maybe it's time for a levitation spell.
Rillen:  What we need right now are some showshoes.
Mongo:  Yeah...
Bosco:  What's that?
Arnold:  Snowshoes.  To walk across the snow.  (shrugs)
Belphanior:  They cause one's weight to be distributed
  evenly, thus eliminating the problem of sinking into
  the snow.
Ged:  Hmm.  (he checks his pack)  Don't have any...maybe
  we could make some?
Rillen:  Yes...(he begins searching through his own pack)
  Hmm, we have plenty of rope, but no wood.
Peyote:  Wood?  (he looks around)  None here, man.  Maybe
  I could summon some...
Gorin:  Why don't you just have the big earth elemental
  here plow a path through the snowdrifts?
Alindyar:  Hmm...
Peyote:  Yeah, dude!  Why didn't I think of that?  (to
  Blok)  Go for it, man.  Dig us a path north...start
  now, we'll catch up to you later.
Belphanior:  (not really hungry)  I'll take the compass
  and go with him, to guide him.
Peyote:  (amends his instructions)  Go whichever way this
  elf says to.  Oh, and the usual combat orders apply.
Blok:  (begins heading northward, scooping up great piles
  of snow and hurling them to either side)
Belphanior:  Hey...(he rushes after the elemental)
Mongo:  Hmph.  C'mon, let's eat!
Zephyr:  Grrr...(it wanders away, to hunt for lunch)

  They had their lunch, while Belphanior and Blok quickly
vanished from sight, to the north.  Another order of business
was attended to during this time...

Peldor:  (sets the chest he recovered amidst the party)
Ged:  Ah, our treasure!
Peldor:  What do you mean, "our" ?
Mongo:  Come on, everyone knows that we all covered you
  while you got it.  And we all helped to defeat the foes
  who guarded it, too.
Alindyar:  Verily.
Peldor:  (stammering)  But...
Peyote:  Come on, man, fair is fair.
Mongo:  I agree.
Bosco:  (wondering what's in the chest)
Rillen:  Well, aren't you going to open it?
Peldor:  (grumbling something about fools, he gets to work
  opening the chest)  No traps...whoa!  (he drops the chest
  as an electrical charge courses through its metal)  Ow!
Bosco:  Guess it WAS trapped...(he reaches out for the small
  chest, which now lies on its side in the snow, but recoils
  as sparks fly from it)  Aaa!
Arnold:  What?
Peldor:  Damn thing's still live...
Lyra:  We'll have to dispel its magic.
Ged:  No can do - whatever's inside might get ruined, too.
Alindyar:  Try telekinesis.
Peldor:  What's that?  (he uses his ring to open the chest,
  dumping its contents out into the snow)

  The thing contained a number of small items:  a pair of
tear-shaped earrings, a red arrow, a dagger whose blade was
made of translucent crystal, a dark green sack, and ten
large rubies.  Lyra cast a spell, quickly determining that
all of the items, save the gems, were magical.  Dice were
rolled to determine which adventurers would get magical
items, though Peyote was not too happy with this method.
Peldor volunteered to roll on Belphanior's behalf, though
this didn't help the elf one bit; Peldor, Alindyar, Rillen,
and Lyra won the dice-rolling, in that order.

Peldor:  I'll take the dagger there.  (he does so)
Alindyar:  The bag...(he examines it, quickly finding it
  to be a large bag of holding)  Excellent.
Rillen:  (chooses the arrow)  Another for my collection.
Lyra:  Earrings?  (she takes them)  I don't usually wear
  these things...hmm.
Bosco:  Well you should!
Lyra:  (turns to look at the mite, coldly)  What do you
  mean by that?
Bosco:  Err...I was just trying to say that if you don't
  wear those, someone might get the idea to steal them...
  and we wouldn't want _that_.
Lyra:  You're right, we wouldn't.
Halbarad:  I suppose we shall split the gemstones among
  the rest of us.
Ged:  Sounds okay to me.
Mongo:  Ahh, rubies...

  When they had finished their meal and discussion, the
adventurers packed up, and followed the trail made by
Belphanior and Blok, through the snow.  About thirty
minutes later, they caught up with the pair, amidst a
bloodstained flurry of snow and hairy corpses.  The elf
was resting on a snowdrift, breathing heavily, while the
earth elemental was simply standing to one side.

Mongo:  What's this?  A battle, without the rest of us?
Belphanior:  Yup.  (to Peyote)  Your elemental is rather...
  handy in combat.  It took out five of these bugbears,
  leaving me only three.
Halbarad:  (examining a corpse)  These are blue.
Gorin:  Blue bugbears?
Ged:  Stranger things have happened.
Zephyr:  (returns to the party, the bloody body of a large
  deer or elk in its jaws)  Grrrrr.
Halbarad:  Food, eh?
Zephyr:  Grgh.  (plops down upon the black snow and begins
  devouring its kill, loudly)
Bosco:  (wondering where the tiger found such an animal)
Belphanior:  (to Halbarad and Mongo, who are both examining
  the blue bugbear bodies now)  I checked...they're just
  like normal bugbears, only blue.
Alindyar:  Interesting.
wispy thing:  (flies out of a bugbear's mouth)  Pffff.
Lyra:  How odd.
Belphanior:  I might have been in trouble, only I knew of
  their ambush, before they sprung it.  Not like him.  (he
  sticks a thumb in Blok's direction)  Of course, their
  attacks didn't even faze him, so...
Peyote:  (talking to Blok in some strange language)
Ged:  Well, if you're rested, let's be on our way.
Belphanior:  Let's.  (he stands up, unwounded, and stifles
  a cough)

  They journeyed northward for hours, stopping only when
dusk crept upon them.  A large camp was quickly made, with
a brightly burning bonfire, natural and magical traps, and
watches of three adventurers each.  After eating supper,
they either slept, prayed, studied, or stood guard.  For
hours, nothing except distant sounds disturbed the party.

Peldor:  (on watch with Arnold and Halbarad)  It's quiet
  out there.
Halbarad:  Yes...too quiet.
Arnold:  (hears sounds near the camp)  I think you just
  said the magical words...
Zephyr:  (opens its eyes and prepares to roar)

  Suddenly, the camp was attacked, as furry black forms
leaped into it!

Halbarad:  Wolves!  Winter wolves!  (he leaps aside as a
  huge black wolf leaps by)  Black winter wolves!
winter wolf#1:  (surprised)  Graaar?
winter wolf#2:  Raargh!  (bounds toward Arnold)
Arnold:  Aaa.  (goes down, under the assault of the wolf)
Peldor:  (stops a wolf's leap with his TK ring, and hurls
  the animal into the campfire)
winter wolf#3:  (burned, it dances about, and embers fly
  everywhere)  Awoooooo!
winter wolf#4:  (leaps upon Mongo)  Grrrr!
Mongo:  (still half-asleep)  Wha-
winter wolf#5:  (bites at Ged)
Ged:  (manages to get his shield between him and the wolf,
  deflecting its attack)  Boccob!
winter wolf#6:  (bites Peyote in the leg)  Grrrrgh!  (howls
  in triumph)
Peyote:  (howls in pain)  Aaaargh!
Belphanior:  (already on his feet)  What the hell's going
  on?!?
Zephyr:  (growls deeply)  Grrrrr...
winter wolf#6:  (turns, slowly, and spots the great tiger)
  RRRrp.  (it hesitates in its mauling of Peyote's leg)
Gorin:  (gets to his feet)

  All of this had taken place within a mere five seconds,
and many of the adventurers were still getting to their
feet.

Peldor:  (already standing, of course, he goes invisible)
Zephyr:  (leaps upon wolf#6, rending and biting, and tears
  it away from Peyote)  Snarl!
winter wolf#6:  Yelp!
Halbarad:  (chops at wolf#1, slicing it in the side)  Ha!
winter wolf#1:  (bites at the ranger, but misses again)
  Graaar!
winter wolf#2:  (biting at Arnold)
Arnold:  (ignores the bloody wound, and, unable to use his
  bulky two-handed sword in this situation, grabs the wolf
  in a choke-hold)  Ah-nold!  (he draws his magical dagger
  with his free hand, and stabs the foe in the neck)
Belphanior:  (slashes wolf#5, wounding it)  Graaar!
winter wolf#5:  (slightly confused at this odd behavior)
Ged:  (having lost the attention of wolf#5, he is free to
  use his fire wand, and does so)  Inzus!

  Suddenly, the campfire intensified by a factor of about
five, blazing to greater life.  Flames licked out in all
directions, and the wolf that had just crawled from the
fire was caught in this fresh blast of heat and flame.

winter wolf#3:  (burned again)  Raaaargh!
Peldor:  (backstabs the animal, becoming visible as it
  falls to the ground, dead)  Aha!  Peldor comes through
  again!
Zephyr:  (finishes off wolf#6, messily)  Grrr...
wispy thing:  (darts around the battle)  Pfffft!
Mongo:  (bashes wolf#4 with his hammer, breaking its neck
  with a single blow)  Hah!
winter wolf#4:  (dies)
Rillen:  (bashes wolf#5 with his staff)  Hai!
winter wolf#5:  (breathes forth a blast of icy cold)

  The chilling cloud of frost staggered everyone except
Lyra, who held the Rune of Water.

Lyra:  (totally unaffected by the cold-breath, she casts
  the spell she was preparing, and a web covers wolves #1
  and 5, as well as Halbarad)
Halbarad:  What?!?
Arnold:  (inflicting mighty damage on the wolf he has in
  a headlock, he continues to stab away madly, rolling
  around in the snow and embers with the wolf)  Ah-nold!
  Ah-nold!
Peyote:  (works to free Halbarad from the web)
Belphanior:  (stabs at the two webbed wolves)
Bosco:  (stabs at the wolf that Arnold is wrestling with,
  but misses)  Oops!
Gorin:  (assists Peyote, chopping at Halbarad's webs)

  Before much longer, all the winter wolves were slain,
and the adventurers rested, binding wounds.

Blok:  (arrives at the battle, too late to be useful due
  to its slowness)
Lyra:  (quietly, to Alindyar)  I like this Rune.
Alindyar:  Truly, it seems useful...
Halbarad:  Winter wolves, eh?  (he examines a corpse)  See
  here, their coats are jet-black...
Ged:  That's fascinating...(heals Mongo)
Mongo:  I was wounded?
Peyote:  (heals himself)

  They rebuilt their ruined campfire, dragged the bodies
away a bit, and waited awhile before going back to sleep.
However, no further attacks were forthcoming, and the next
watch took over, allowing the others to get at least some
sleep.



  At first light, the party resumed its trek through the
black snow, much as the day before.  Belphanior and Blok
forged about an hour ahead, digging a sizable trough
through the snow while the others ate breakfast.  When
they were ready, the others followed, trudging through
the plowed furrow that cut northward like a long, narrow
valley.
  They caught up with the pair, and marched onward.  At
about midday, the adventurers stopped short.

Ged:  Boccob!
Mongo:  Now what in the hell is _that_?

  Ahead, perhaps five minutes away, was the strangest city
they had ever seen, even the drow.  Nestled amidst the dark
snowdrifts was a cluster of tall, perfectly rounded towers,
towers which appeared to be constructed of gleaming metal.

Peyote:  Whoa!





next time :  into the city

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

notes     :  You could say that I...relocated the City of
           the Gods, in Blackmoor.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



--
Thomas Miller                        tmiller@cimmeria.oit.gatech.edu
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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