Chapter #437

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                                +   +
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                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    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                    +
+                           +
+  Halbarad        13th level human ranger                     (NG) +
+  Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                  (CG) +
+    Gorin          9th level dwarven fighter                  (NG) +
+  Peyote          11th/12th level half-elven warrior/druid     (N) +
+  Date:        4/28/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       somewhere in northwestern Furyondy                  +
+  Climate:     mild                                                +
+  "The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage;      +
+   they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human."     +
+                                  - Victor Hugo, _Les Miserables_  +

                  CDXXXVII.  Into The Vesve

  More than a week before, Rillen and Songa had gone their own way,
leaving Mongo and Gorin to accompany Halbarad and Peyote into the
depths of the Vesve Forest.  The four companions have been riding
through the Shield Lands and Furyondy since then, camping in the
wilderness if no city or town was nearby.  Now, the four companions
near their destination.

Mongo:  -so then you had to fight this other guy, to see who would
  be the ninth Druid?
Peyote:  Right on, man.
Gorin:  Was it a physical combat, or a magical one?
Mongo:  Or both?  Belphanior would like that.
Peyote:  Belphanior?  He'd never make the cut, man - druids can't be
  destructive like him.
Mongo:  Hey, _you're_ the one who used to play with the wand of wonder.
Peyote:  Eep.
Halbarad:  Belphanior...I wonder what he's doing these days?
Gorin:  Up to no good, probably.
Mongo:  He's a hell of a fighter, and there's no one I'd rather have
  on my side in a fight, but...
Peyote:  Man, that guy's gonna get himself killed before his time.
  (he frowns)  But to answer the question, it was a physical combat,
  which was good for me.  Actually, the other guy thought he was a
  pretty good warrior - and he was.  Just not in my class.
Mongo:  (wondering how Peyote would fare in one-on-one combat with
  the juggernaut)  Uh, right.
Peyote:  And thus it was that I became the Dude, err, Druid, of the
  Vesve area.
Gorin:  But surely there are other Druids too?
Peyote:  Nine, all told, as I told you.  There are nine of us on the
  Oerik continent - nine who follow the ways of the Shalm, anyway.
  Those druids who serve Ehlonna, as our friend here does-  (he stabs
  a thumb in Halbarad's direction)  -have their own Nine.
Mongo:  Hmm.
Peyote:  Each of Obad-Hai's Nine oversee a domain, usually a major
  forest of some kind.  We've got one in the Grandwood, over by Aerdy.
  Another's up north, in the Burneal.  And so on.
Halbarad:  The Burneal...a place as strange as it is vast.
Peyote:  Sure, man, whatever you say.  (to Mongo)  I got myself three
  initiate druids, as assistants.
Mongo:  That's nice.
Gorin:  What if some other aspiring young druid comes after you, to
  get your position?
Peyote:  It doesn't work that way - they have to challenge me in a
  formal ceremony, and it gets planned to death.
Mongo:  Speaking of death, these ritual fights aren't to the death,
  are they?
Peyote:  No way, man.  We wouldn't want to kill off the next generation
  of druids, now would we?
Mongo:  I guess not.  Hell, I don't know.
Gorin:  (to Peyote)  What comes above you?  Who's your boss?
Peyote:  Arch-Druids.  There's three of those, and to become one you
  have to advance just like at my level.
Gorin:  Hmm.  I bet life never gets boring.
Peyote:  Nope.  But I'm still the youngest - most recently initiated,
  anyway - of the Druids, so I still have a ways to go.
Mongo:  Speaking of going, where are _we_ going?
Peyote:  (spreads his hands)  To the Vesve.
Mongo:  I know that...but _why_ are we going to the Vesve?
Peyote:  Why, to talk to the man himself.
Gorin:  Who's that?
Peyote:  The Arch-Druid around these parts!
Halbarad:  (commenting as if this were some manner of sporting contest)
  A powerful man, and one with much influence, from what I am told.
Peyote:  You got that right.  This dude's a legend in these parts...
  hell, in all parts.
Mongo:  Well, maybe this trip will turn out to be interesting after

  By midday, they were well into the old, dense forest. In contrast
to Halbarad, who was merely comfortable here and easily capable of
surviving and thriving, Peyote was _alive_ here; he almost seemed to
be one with the forest. Mongo, of course, had little trouble believing
this, given some of the things that the half-elf had done, and was
still doing.

Peyote:  (talking to a bird that landed on his shoulder)
Gorin:  (to Mongo)  What's his problem?
Mongo:  (to Gorin)  He's a little weird, that's all.
Halbarad:  (by way of explanation)  When one ascends to the upper
  echelons of the druidic world, this tends to happen.
Gorin:  Riiight.

  They slowed their pace, naturally, since the forest was quite a
different ride than the grasslands.  After breaking for a late lunch,
they continued on, stopping again when dusk approached.

Peyote:  We can camp here.
Mongo:  Here?!?  (he looks around)  There's no clearing.  There's no
  slope.  We don't have any advantages, should we need to defend
  ourselves.  (he shakes his head)  This is a bad place to make
Gorin:  (picks up a chunk of fallen branch and begins thinking about
  what he might carve from it)
Peyote:  This is a fine place for a camp, dude.  Besides, nothing
  will attack us.
Mongo:  How do you know?
Peyote:  I just _know_.
Mongo:  (walks away, shaking his head)

  They did make camp there, and they cooked and ate a fine meal, so
fine that Mongo didn't even have anything to say when the small
animals showed up for handouts.

Peyote:  (tosses a bit of bread-crust to a bird)  The animals are
  our friends.
Halbarad:  And sometimes guardians.
Mongo:  You mean _they're_ gonna stand watch?
Peyote:  Something like that.  I also have spells...
Mongo:  I'd rather trust my hammer, thanks.
Gorin:  (working on his wood-carving)
Halbarad:  What are you making?
Gorin:  I don't'll take some more time to do the fine
  details.  Could be anything at this point.
Halbarad:  Hmm.
Peyote:  (feeds a scrap of meat to a small weasel-like animal)  The
  people of the forests...they're everywhere.
Mongo:  Whatever you say.

  There was no need for a fire, since the weather was farily mild.
Mongo apparently decided to trust Peyote and his animals and spells,
because he hit the sack early and hard.

Mongo:  ZzzzzZZZZZzzzzz...
Halbarad:  Maybe we should put something over his head, to mask the
Peyote:  I could cast a spell of silence.
Gorin:  (falls asleep)

  The night passed uneventfully, much as Peyote had assured everyone
it would, and the next morning saw them ready to ride a mere hour after

Peyote:  (looking worried as he listens to a squirrel)
Gorin:  Is he really _hearing_ what they're saying?
Halbarad:  Of course.  He's the Druid of the Vesve.
Gorin:  Oh.
Mongo:  I wonder what they're talking about?
Peyote:  (chirps a farewell and turns to his companions)  Trouble's
  a-brewing, my friends, much like fresh beer.
Mongo:  How's that?  The trouble part, I mean, not the beer?
Peyote:  My suspicions were correct...we have to get a move on!  (he
  begins prancing about)
Gorin:  Now what?
Halbarad:  He's calling for help, I think.
Mongo:  Help?  (he looks around)  Nobody's attacking us.  Are they?
  (he hefts Stormcrest)
Peyote:  I'm calling the eagles...(he begins screeching, as lines of
  mystical power emanate from his hands)

  Not very long after that, four giant eagles made their way through
the forest's ceiling, landing around the half-elven druid.

Peyote:  (greets the huge birds, squawking all the while)
Mongo:  Hey, what's going on?
Peyote:  (turns to Mongo)  Squeee scree fron-  oh, sorry.  We'll use
  these guys to get home faster.  They can fly us right there.
Gorin:  (staring at the eagles incredulously)  Fly?  On their backs?
Peyote:  No, actually, they'll carry us in their talons.
Mongo:  Whoa.
Halbarad:  Is something the matter?  You're not afraid of heights,
  are you?
Mongo:  No, it's just that...I like to keep my feet on solid earth.
Peyote:  Don't worry, bearded one.  This won't be a long trip.

  As Mongo shook his head in wonder, and Gorin shook his in awe, the
four adventurers prepared for the flight.  The giant eagles stood in
place, flapping their wings slowly, while the companions tied down
loose items and otherwise made sure nothing bad would happen.

Gorin:  (thrilled by this turn of events)  This is gonna be neat.

  Shortly, everyone was ready, and the eagles grasped their passengers
in their thick, powerful talons.  Great wings began to beat in earnest,
and just like that, the adventurers were suddenly fifty...a hundred...
two hundred feet above the forest, hurtling through the air at dizzying

next:      Peyote's home
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     A note on grammar is in order here.  Just because some
  character says something, it doesn't have to be grammatically
  correct.  Very few people speak grammatically correct English
  (or Spanish, or French, or Japanese, or whatever.)
    Example:  Mongo says "Me and Gorin are going to the Vesve."
  Now as we all know, the grammatically correct wording is "Gorin
  and I are going to the Vesve."  Heck, Alindyar might say something
  like "Forsooth, young Gorin and myself shall soon depart for the
  faraway wonders of the Vesve Forest."  My point is that character-
  spoken text represents the way each character talks, and most of
  the time, these characters won't use 100% perfect grammar.  Thus,
  there's no need to correct such lines.

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