Chapter #226

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells,    +
+  and other terms used in these stories are the property of  +
+  TSR, Inc.  However, this does not mean that TSR in any     +
+  way endorses or authorizes their use, and any such items   +
+  contained within these stories should not be considered    +
+  representative of TSR in any way, shape, or form.          +
+    Due to the nature of the Internet, these stories have    +
+  been widely available since 1991.  I have given them to    +
+  the world freely, and have never intended to market them   +
+  or in any way make money.  However, due to TSR, Inc.'s     +
+  copyright restrictions, old episodes of the Adventurers    +
+  are no longer being archived on any ftp site anywhere.     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The player 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 (or more accurately, a fragment of it):         +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        12th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Ged           14th/14th level grey elf priest/mage   (NG) +
+   Mongo         17th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       8th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        19th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco      10th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    7/1/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    morning                                          +
+   Place:   the Free City of Greyhawk                        +
+   Climate: warm                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead   +
+    and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do     +
+    things worth the writing."                               +
+        - Benjamin Franklin,  Poor Richard's Almanack )1738) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                CCXXVI.  Ged's Expedition





  About a week after the last regrouping and resplitting,
some of the adventurers are still hanging around Greyhawk...

Ged:  (in Peldor's tavern, the Green Dragon Inn, he is now
  sitting at a table with Peldor, Bosco, and Arnold)  ...and
  so I started thinking, why _not_ go back there?
Arnold:  Aaa.  Dhis was before my time.
Peldor:  The Suss Forest?  The Lost City?
Ged:  Yea.  We only explored a small part of the dungeon -
  building is a more appropriate term - but I'm convinced
  that there's more.  Much more.  And I'm going to get it,
  all of it.
Bosco:  Sounds like fun.  And treasure...
Peldor:  True.
Ged:  I could get a team of miners...others to guard the
  horses, wagons, etc. above-ground...(he gets a dreamy
  look in his green eyes)  Boccob, think of the lost magicks
  to be had...
Peldor:  (dubiously)  Hmmmmmm.
Bosco:  (not-so-dubiously)  Hmm.
Arnold:  How will you organize the exbedition?
Ged:  Miners...guards...supplies...by Boccob, there's much
  work to be done!  (he looks around)  Why am I sitting
  around here, then?
Bosco:  I don't know...why _are_ you?
Ged:  Come, Arnold.  Let's go about this business.
Arnold:  (stands up)  Yah.
Ged:  (to Peldor)  Are you with me?  We could use a couple
  of good ferrets-  err, scouts.  Yea, scouts!
Bosco:  You betcha-
Peldor:  You'll have to deal me out of this one, I'm afraid.
  I've got a lot of work to do here.
Ged:  Work?  You?  Like what?
Peldor:  I just bought the building next door...I'm planning
  to turn it into a casino.
Ged:  What?!?
Arnold:  Cabsinooo.
Bosco:  Huh?  Hey, I wanna gamble there!
Peldor:  Of course you do, Bosco.  Everyone will.
Ged:  Hmph.  Yet another way for you to steal money from the
  unsuspecting and unaware...
Peldor:  Hey, gods' followers must pay their rightful taxes!
Ged:  Bah.  (to Arnold)  We'll get some other thie-  scouts,
  then.  No problem.
Arnold:  (looks doubtful)
Ged:  Hey, I bet Mongo would be interested in helping us on
  this endeavor.
Bosco:  Probably...hey, what about Alindyar and the babe?
Ged:  You mean Lyra?
Bosco:  Yeah, Lyra.
Ged:  (looks perturbed)  I won't have those drow sharing in
  the magical wonders that are rightfully mine!
Arnold:  Aaa.
Peldor:  (mumbling)  Rightfully mine...
Ged:  Eh?  What's that?
Peldor:  Nothing.
Ged:  I thought not.  Besides, the drow have vanished again,
  as they are wont to do.  No one knows where they are.  I
  guess they'll reappear when they're ready.
Peldor:  Like they always do.
Ged:  Yea.  Well, we must be off - there's a lot of work to
  be done!
Peldor:  I can only imagine.
Bosco:  (envisioning heaps of golden coins)  Me too.
Ged:  (stands, and tosses a coin onto the table, to pay for
  his drink)
Peldor:  Oh, don't worry about paying.  It's on the house!
  (to Bosco)  I've always wanted to be able to say that...
Ged:  Well, if you insist...
Peldor:  Of course!  The unfortunate and downtrodden must
  have people like Peldor around, to help them out in-
Ged:  (turns to leave)  We'll see you around.
Peldor:  -times of need?
Arnold:  Bye, Bodsgo.
Bosco:  Seeya!
Peldor:  Err...good luck!

  Ged and Arnold left the tavern, and headed to the market
quarter, to price out the necessary items and labor-power
for the upcoming expedition.

  In the next week, Ged assembled a significant force for
the Suss Forest expedition.

Ged:  So, what do you think of my plan?
Mongo:  The Lost city?  Treasure?  Monsters?  Sure, I'll
  go!  Just try to keep me away!
Gorin:  (pauses in his woodworking - a dwarf-sized chair)
  Huh?
Mongo:  A dungeon, lad!  A big dungeon!  (to Ged)  When
  do we leave?
Ged:  Hopefully, sometime this week.  I've got to get all
  the troops and people that I need.
Mongo:  Maybe I can help with that...

  Indeed, with Mongo's help, Ged was able to secure a
score of stout dwarven miners.  Besides these hirelings,
the elf also recruited several dozen of the farmers who
lived around his castle, to serve as porters.  He found
a number of guards-for-hire in Greyhawk, and chose those
whom he deemed trustworthy (spells assisted in this
capacity) to accompany the expedition.
  As far as materials, Ged purchased ten large wagons,
each pulled by a team of six horses.  Of course, these
in turn required the hiring of drivers.  Then there were
food, drink, mining equipment, torches, ropes, iron
spikes, oil, wheeled carts, horses and ponies for all
the hirelings...the list went on and on.

Ged:  (tallying up the costs thus far)  Boccob!  I hope
  that we find some coinage, as well as magical items,
  in the Lost City...
Mongo:  (puzzling over the columns of figures)  We did
  last time, remember?  That's where we got my portable
  hole, too.  Good place...except for that juggernaut.
Ged:  Hmm.



  Continuing castle-building operations were to be left
in the care of the half-elf Deryck, and the engineer
Scotty. Ged brought Nenya, his elven protege, along, so
that she might gain experience in an actual dungeon.

Nenya:  (rather excited by this prospect)  I'll be ready
  to leave within the hour!
Ged:  Hold your horses...it will be at least two days,
  yet.
Arnold:  (wondering if Ged should bring Calvin the page
  along, so that he too might gain experience in an
  actual dungeon)  Aaa?

  Three days later, all was in readiness.  The caravan
(for such was its size and scope now) set out for the
Suss forest, to the southwest.

Mongo:  (saddles up, along with Gorin, Arnold, Nenya,
  and Ged)  Ah.
Ged:  Here we go...





next time :  to the Suss!

notes     :  You'll be happy to know that this adventure idea came
  straight from Ged's player himself...
    Now for something that's been long overdue:  Survey results!


  Here are the responses, ordered and arranged in several different
ways:



READERS' COUNTRIES:

USA              111
Australia         20
Canada            16
Finland           13
England           10
Norway             8
Germany            6
Sweden             4
Greece             3
Netherlands        3
Hungary            2
Singapore          2
Denmark            1
France             1
Israel             1
Japan              1
Poland             1
South Africa       1
Soviet Union       1
Taiwan             1
----------------------
TOTAL            206



READERS' AGES:

14  *
15
16  **
17  *
18  **
19  ******
20  ************
21  ******************
22  ********************
23  *******************
24  ********************
25  *****************
26  ***********
27  ****************
28  ****************
29  *******
30  *****
31  ***
32  ******
33  *****
34  ****
35  *
36  ***
37  ***
38
39  *
40  *
41  *
42  *

"30s"  *
 ?  **



READERS' FAVORITE CHARACTERS:

Belphanior         67
Peldor             64
Mongo              19.5
Alindyar           15
Rillen              9
Ged                 6
Arnold              4
Rob                 2
Bosco               1
Lyra                1
the wispy thing     1
Peyote              1
Rillen-2            0.5

not sure           13
----------------------
TOTAL             206



READERS' FAVORITE EPISODES/STORYLINES:

the alternate-Oerth saga               126-143       22
just Belphanior trashing Greyhawk      213            1    \
Belphanior & Rillen solo               213-221+       5     ) 18
just the horror story                  218           12    /
the undead saga                         91-100       13
adventures on Earth                    200-211       13
the Slaver modules                      16- 38        9.5
the Underdark saga                      79- 90        8.5
the Sea of Dust adventure              111-119        4.5  \ 8.5
Peldor killing the Balor               119            4    /
Mongo vs. the giants                   147-148        6
Belphanior/Peldor thieving adventure    51            5.5
the freeing of the slaves              186-192        4
the Rune quest                         195-199        4
the assault on the devil fortress       73- 75        3.5
grouped solo quests                    150-164        3.5
rescue of Alindyar from Drow city      175            3
Rillen's tournament                    101            2.5
the Tomb of Horrors                    165-172        2.5
battle with bounty hunters             105-106        1.5

repost of episode #1                     1            1
prose story from Belphanior's POV       10            1
battle with red dragon                  42            1
dungeons of Aranor                      46- 49        1
first Lyra                              62            1
Alindyar & Lyra in pocket dimension    104            1
Belphanior works on his Greyhawk home  146            1
battle with the humanoid army          155            1
trip to Arnold's village               158-160        1
Ged recharges his fire wand            161-164        1
seabound Rune adventure                197            1
land/sea group split                    52 -69        0.5
Zagyg's dungeons                       120-125        0.5

any of the individual/solo/non-group adventures       6
any of the "early" episodes                           3
just not sure                                        55
--------------------------------------------------------------
TOTAL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          206



  Well, that's it.  I can assure you that it was both a fun
and difficult task to compile all of the survey responses.
A few random notes:

Surprise #1:  The recent (213-225) storyline is much more
  popular than I thought it would be.  The intention was to
  kick off a series of solo- or pair- type adventures.  I
  hope the other adventurers' solo exploits please you as
  much as Belphanior's and Rillen's have.
Surprise #2:  Belphanior the most well-liked adventurer?!?
  Reasons cited include versatility, dual nature, having the
  best toys, et al.  I'll bear this in mind when considering
  the elf's future plans, and my plans for him.  Then again,
  Peldor's a _very_ close second (no surprise there)
Surprise #3:  Despite only getting 3.5 votes, the episode
  in which Peldor got ripped in half (#75) was rather widely
  mentioned as one of the best.

Non-surprise #1:  The alternate-Oerth saga won.  Something
  about seeing the adventurers' mirror images thrilled you
  people as much as it did me...
Non-surprise #2:  About a third of you couldn't make up your
  mind about which episode was the best.  I guess that's a
  good thing, really - a mark of consistency on my part,
  perhaps.

Things the readers have given me to think about in the future:
  Alindyar:  Needs to start doing more things that supra-
    intelligent archmagi would do.
  Belphanior:  Needs to decide what he's going to now that he
    can't go back to Greyhawk.
  Ged:  Needs to expand his territory.
  Lyra:  Needs to prove that she's more than a sidekick for
    Alindyar.
  Mongo:  Needs to start a territory.
  Rillen:  Needs to do _something_ on his own.

My own answers to my survey (hey, it's only fair...)
  1)   24 years old (25 in late December 1994)
  2)   Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering, currently a
         network engineer/consultant
  3)   USA (Atlanta to be exact)
  4)   author since #1     :)
  5)   Belphanior or Peldor were my personal favorites - they
         always made my DM-ing job interesting.  Ged did too,
         but in an irritating way.
  6)   Hmm, tough call.  Thinking back about the ones I've
         been most pleased with after writing them...then
         weeding out anything that I had any stigma with
         while writing...the undead saga (91-100) is the only
         clear winner.

+
++
+++
++
+

  Now for some letters, i.e. a letters page.  Ideally, mail
re-printed in a particular episode should pertain to stuff
that happened ~5 episodes back, or thereabouts...so here's
a batch of fan mail that covers 218-221...mostly 218.  I'll
reply to questions here, as well, making it a public forum.



>>  Subject: Re: story 218 - happy Halloween!
>>
>>  Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool!!!!
>>  I loved it!
>>  Nice to have adventurers really seem scared. ;-)
>>
>>  Richard
>>
>>  ps - okay, so I was wrong about vampires/werewolves -
>>    but pleasantly so!  ;-)



>>  If I may say so..that was one of the most excellent
>>  stories I've EVER read.  And right up there with the
>>  best adventurer stories, if no the best.  All this
>>  practice has really honed your sense or timing I'd
>>  say.  I was utterly engrossed in the reading..and that
>>  says something.
>>
>>  *clap, clap, clap*
>>
>>  Patrick



>>  I have to say, I'm impressed - that was the single best
>>  "Adventurers" story I've ever read!  It was especially
>>  nice to see (or not) something even Belphanior is power-
>>  less against, at least for now. :-)
>>
>>  Rob Macomber



>>  Just wanted to let you know I really liked this story.
>>  Quite a mood piece and perfect for today.  I've enjoyed
>>  your Adventurers stories a lot and I hope to see more in
>>  the future.  I really think your writing style has
>>  improved over the course of the cronicles.  I have quite
>>  a feel for the characters and how they will react in a
>>  given situation.  Who knows, someday you may be collecting
>>  them for TSR to publish! :)  (Yes I know,
>>  TSR is the Evil Empire but you gotta start somewhere.)
>>
>>  Michael Wesely

  Not likely...the Evil Empire seems to have no interest in
my stories...kinda like it has no interest in the net's
opinions on "copyrighted" material.



>>  Dear Mr. Miller:
>>
>>  That was extremely well done!  I've been a fan of your
>>  stories for three years now and I have to say that was by
>>  far, one of the best I've read.  I like the touches with
>>  the building up of the horror, the comfy humanization of
>>  the "victims" before they're killed-- especially Garn--
>>  it made the horror all the more scary.  Also, the way the
>>  story took precedence over combat, and how the reactions
>>  of the characters, were shown was very well done.  The only
>>  minor point that I felt was missing was an explanation of
>>  some kind for why it was happenning--why the fog, what it
>>  was, and so on.
>>  Regarding the characters, they've become much more alive
>>  and 3-D-- again, extremely well done.  It's a far cry from
>>  having one combat scene after another, with random monsters
>>  here and there without any rhyme or reason or purpose.
>>  Great job!  Keep on writing.
>>
>>  John Lee

  Yeah, I guess in the long run, Garn was a sacrifice.  I
went into this story with a different approach than I usually
do for the stories.



>>  Thanks!
>>
>>  I liked 218.  For some reason it reminded me of some Call
>>  of Cthulu sessions I have played :-) I also like the style
>>  with small separate adventures with just a few members of
>>  the group.
>>
>>  Anders

  Chthulu?  Hmm...



>>  Also what the hell was in that fog?
>>  Hey if fire doesn't work try ice.
>>
>>  LONEWOLF SENDS YOU HIS REGARDS

  We'll never know what was in the fog...I hope.



>>  Thomas.....
>>
>>  Ahh...sad to see Garn go so quickly....the party could
>>  have used a ranger with Halbarad MIA.....
>>  I was also a little suprised that Belphanior didn't try
>>  to lightning-bolt the creature of the mists.
>>
>>  Tom

  Yeah, I guess that lightning _is_ one of his favorite
toys.



>>>>    Oh, also...Belphanior's fate puzzles me too.  I'm
>>>>  not sure what I'll do with him.
>>
>>  Damn, at least now I got time to comment on that one.
>>  IMHO Belph cannot go (will not too!) back to Greyhawk
>>  and has no pressing matters after 'escorting' Rillen to
>>  the tournament.
>>
>>  After seeing Adventurers wreak havoc in parallel
>>  universe with their doubles, I think Belpanior could do
>>  well as a bandit.  He has freedom to do what he likes,
>>  he can boss his underlings around and his blade can be
>>  sated by continuous raids on caravans and nearby settle-
>>  ments..
>>
>>  Still, he could do well also as a plain wanderer, seeking
>>  thrills and danger :) He would get the risks, but the
>>  rewards could be greater than those of Adventurers who
>>  decided to settle down (no need to use months to create
>>  items & potions..).
>>
>>  Anyway, I'll watch with interest what happens to him in
>>  near future...
>>
>>  BTW, will you make same kinds of episodes for everyone
>>  else?  Would be nice to know what is happening to them...
>>
>>  And as a final query: Will Alindyar ever come out of his
>>  quiet shell ? Would be nice for him to be effective =)
>>  once in a while..
>>
>>  VP Tervonen

  Yup, you're pretty much on track.  As for other solo
shots, I'm working on it even now.  As for Alindyar...well,
he can be pretty darn effective at times.  As one reader
once said, he walks softly and carries a very big stick.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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