Chapter #354

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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.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1991-6 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.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Arnold           12th level human barbarian                 (NG) +
+  Ged              14th/14th level grey elven priest/wizard   (NG) +
+    Nenya          8th/9th level female elven fighter/wizard  (NG) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        1/18/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       Ged's castle, west of Greyhawk                      +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Life IS pain, highness!  Anyone who says differently is         +
+   selling something."                                             +
+                                     - from _The Princess Bride_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    CCCLIV.  Dark Reflections





  Ged sighed as he returned yet another magical component to its
proper place.  He was in his laboratory, within his castle, trying
to restore some order to the place.

Nenya:  (enters)  Holy smokes!  What _happened_ here?
Ged:  (shrugs)  I was...experimenting with the natural forces of
  fire.  Something went wrong.
Nenya:  Wrong?  Impossible - I've never known you to make a mistake.
Ged:  That doesn't mean I haven't.  (he sweeps up some broken bits
  of masonry)
Nenya:  Hmm.
Ged:  What's on your mind?
Nenya:  Actually, I came to ask you what was on yours.
Ged:  (surprised)  Pardon?
Nenya:  Ever since Deryck and I told you of our engagement, you've
  seemed distant...as if the whole thing wasn't to your liking.
Ged:  Er...uh...
Nenya:  See what I mean?
Ged:  (rubs his golden hair)  Yea, I guess so.
Nenya:  Well, talk to me.  I know you've been under a lot of stress
  lately...the kidnappings, then the business with Belphanior, then
  the fight with the demons...(her eyes roll)  Ah, if only I'd been
  there...
Ged:  (scowls as an angry look flares behind his eyes)  No!  (he
  faces his pupil, staring her down)
Nenya:  Wha-
Ged:  Listen, and listen closely!  I know you're adept - no, quite
  skilled - with blade and spell.  By Boccob, I've seen you fight,
  and I've been proud, both of what I taught you and what you knew
  before.  But there is _no_ glory in fighting senseless battles
  endlessly!
Nenya:  Wh-  what are you saying?
Ged:  What I'm saying is that there's no need to look for trouble.
  I've spent many years doing just that with Mongo, Alindyar, and
  the others...long years, filled with quest upon quest, battle upon
  battle, foe upon foe.  (he sighs)  Adventure upon adventure.
Nenya:  But look where it got you!  You've gained so much knowledge
  and wisdom in those years-
Ged:  And also enemies, long-lasting ones who survive, and then come
  back when we least expect it.  Hell, right now I could name five
  such foes...
Nenya:  Please don't.
Ged:  (stops, his fingers held up)  Uh...okay.
Nenya:  So you're telling me that I shouldn't go out into the world
  and _do_ anything?!?
Ged:  I'm telling you to live, but not to die.  You've found someone
  with whom you want to share the rest of...his life - not many can
  do that in our line of work.
Nenya:  (ponders these words)
Ged:  You're lucky - both of you are.  Don't push that luck, or one
  day it'll get you killed.
Nenya:  You sound almost...regretful.
Ged:  For some things, yes.  Perhaps I settled down before it was
  time...now I'm shackled with responsibilities...
Nenya:  So?  These people look up to you, as an example.
Ged:  That's fine and dandy, but I'm not always going to be around
  to provide that example.  Finally, after all these years, I see
  why my father tires of rulership.
Nenya:  Father?  Rulership?  You've never mentioned these things
  before.
Ged:  And I won't go into them now, either.  It's not the time.
Nenya:  Your father is a king, then?
Ged:  Not quite - but he wields a lot of power, and responsibility,
  and I've long been aware that he tires of it.
Nenya:  It sounds like you miss him.
Ged:  (rubs his chin)  Perhaps.
Nenya:  So even in the elven courts, time spawns ennui.
Ged:  It truly does.  (he looks up)  Have you considered the fact
  that you'll outlive Deryck?  You ignored my reference to it
  before...
Nenya:  (her eyes drop)  Of course.  We've even discussed it.  But
  we don't care, right now.
Ged:  Hmm...just wanted to make sure that you knew what you were in
  for.
Nenya:  You wouldn't happen to be prejudiced, would you?
Ged:  Boccob, no!  My best friends in the whole world are of varied
  races, most of them non-elven.  Still...when I think of my - our -
  lifespan, and then hold it next to the flicker that is theirs...
  (he looks away, sadly)
Nenya:  The drow...Belphanior...all is not lost.
Ged:  No, but the others will be, and when they are, we elves won't
  have even reached middle age.
Nenya:  Hmm.
Ged:  First to go will be the humans...Peldor, Rillen, Tanya...and
  Arnold.  Bosco may make it a few decades beyond that, if he's
  lucky.  Then, a few centuries later, it'll be Mongo and Gorin's
  turn to meet the gods.
Nenya:  You forgot Deryck.
Ged:  (smiles grimly)  I didn't want to upset you.
Nenya:  Oh.
Ged:  Belphanior will be the first of the elves to go, followed by-
  (he pauses)  -you.
Nenya:  And what of you?
Ged:  Me?  Oh, I'll outlive them all.  Except maybe the drow.  But
  after the passage of many centuries, even the longest-lived of us
  shall perish and move on.
Nenya:  (suddenly realizes the direction in which Ged has managed
  to take this conversation)  Why?!?
Ged:  (spreads his hands)  Why do we die?  It's the will of the
  gods.
Nenya:  No, I mean why are you talking like this?  Where did this
  annihilistic mindset come from?
Ged:  (leans back)  I...don't know.
Nenya:  Oh, I feel _so_ much better now.
Ged:  Sometimes, I just start thinking about these things.
Nenya:  Hmm.
Ged:  Sorry.  I didn't mean to become fatalistic.  I just wanted you
  to see how important life is, while you have it.
Nenya:  Well, I think I get the point.
Ged:  Look...all I'm trying to get across is that there's no future
  in all this conflict.  Sure, if someone attacks, then we defend -
  that's why we're called "heroes."  But seeking out trouble from one
  end of the world to the other...getting involved in random quests
  for random people...(he shakes his head)  It's not worth it.  Don't
  learn the hard way, like I did.
Nenya:  (stands)  You really _are_ sick of it all!
Ged:  Perhaps.  Or perhaps my troubles will pass.  In any case, I'd
  be a poor teacher if I didn't try and convince you of this.
Nenya:  I...understand.
Ged:  If you ever forget, just think of someone like Belphanior.
Nenya:  (shudders involuntarily)
Ged:  Exactly.  Chaos...war...blood...steel...he thrives on these
  things.  Even now...but I claim to follow a better way.
Nenya:  Hmm.  Your words bear much wisdom...even if it is tempered
  by the harsh experience of life.
Ged:  It always is.
Nenya:  (pacing)  Well, this conversation certainly took a different
  course that I had expected.
Ged:  Oh?  (he, too, stands)  What _did_ you expect?
Nenya:  Hmm...(she paces again)
Ged:  You should stop pacing and sit down.
Nenya:  Probably so.  (she sits back down)  Well, after talking about
  it, Deryck and I...got the impression that you might be...
Ged:  Be...?
Nenya:  ...jealous?
Ged:  (appears surprised)  Jealous?!?  Me?
Nenya:  (shrugs)  Just an impression.
Ged:  Hah.  Not to worry, my dear student.
Nenya:  Whew.  Well, that's a relief.
Ged:  (kisses her hand)  Fear not:  I shall give the two of you my
  blessings at your wedding.
Nenya:  Thank you!  (she leaps forth and hugs her mentor)

  With that, she left the laboratory, the heavy door closing with a
muffled clicking sound.  Only Ged knew for sure whether he had spoken
the complete truth or not, but one thing was certain:  he felt a lot
happier now than before.



  Elsewhere in the castle, Nenya met Arnold, and together they walked
toward one of the castle's exits.

Arnold:  How did it go?
Nenya:  Okay...bizarre, but okay.
Arnold:  (not really following)  Aaa.  What do you mean?
Nenya:  I just think...Ged needs some time alone, to do some thinking.
Arnold:  You think so?
Nenya:  I'm fairly certain.
Arnold:  (nodding)  Geb hasn't been himself lately.  I think the
  fight with Belphandior upset him.
Nenya:  Hmm, interesting.  That's what I thought, too.
Arnold:  I hope he's okay.
Nenya:  Me too...but then again, he's so supernaturally smart and
  wise...who knows how he thinks?  What depresses someone like that?
  What makes him happy?
Arnold:  Good question.

  They left the castle, and were greeted by a sunny, if cold, winter
day.  Whatever problems Ged might have, their resolution would have
to wait for another day and time.





next:      someone we haven't seen in a while
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
           http://www3.hmc.edu/~kshobaki/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu     (emergency)
notes:     For the record, Ashley and I decided years ago that
  appearance-wise, Nenya looked suspiciously like Uma Thurman.
    This episode was written while I watched the 1996 Academy Awards.
  I was pleased to see Kevin Spacey win Best Supporting Actor for
  "The Usual Suspects" (one of my favorite movies of 1995) and, as
  usual, Robin Williams was hilarious.  And another mighty battle
  movie - Braveheart - captured Best Picture and Best Director.  I
  am muchly pleased.

    On a related note...I decided this was as good a time as any
  for another survey.  This time, I decided to stay away from
  questions about the readers, and rather focus on the stories
  themselves.

    Still, if you are reading this, PLEASE return the survey right
  away!  In addition to collecting opinions, this will let me get
  a better count of how many readers are out there, and how many
  are/aren't on the mailing list.  Thanks.  And now, without
  further ado...

    It's that time again.  This year, we've got Adventurer Oscars.
  You are the Academy.  Please vote.  The categories include the
  entire saga, from #1 to #350 and beyond.

Best Plotline:  Self-explanatory, though there can be only one.
Best Adventurer:  This would have to be a major character:  Alindyar,
  Ged, Mongo, Peldor, etc.
Best Supporting Adventurer:  Minor characters...Otto, Bosco, and so
  forth.
Best (non-Adventurer) Guest-Star:  Anyone not officially in the party.
Most Improved Adventurer:  From boring to cool - several might have
  gone this route.

...and so on...


  I've given rough guidelines, but you can write in any candidate
you want.  Please send the ballot below back to me.

----------------------------------8<---------------------------------

Best Plotline:                      _______________
Best Adventurer:                    _______________
Best Supporting Adventurer:         _______________
Best (non-Adventurer) Guest-Star:   _______________
Best Villain:                       _______________
Best Supporting Villain:            _______________
Best Battle Scene:                  _______________
Best Setting:                       _______________
Best Weapon:                        _______________
Best One-on-One Fight:              _______________
Best Use of a Spell:                _______________
Most Improved Adventurer:           _______________
Most Surprising Plot Twist:         _______________
Most Humorous Plotline:             _______________
Best Non-Weapon Magic Item:         _______________

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