Chapter #438

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  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:        5/1/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       the Vesve Forest, northwest of Furyondy             +
+  Climate:     mild but rather breezy                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I'm on my waaay...home, sweet, home..."                         +
+                                                   - Motley Crue   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                  CDXXXVIII.  Stoned-Henge





  After trekking to the Vesve Forest, Peyote and his three companions
have taken to the air with the help of giant eagles.  Even now, they
soar through the sky, grasped tightly in the huge birds' powerful
talons.

Mongo:  Oh shiiiiit...!

  This sentiment pretty much reflected the way they all felt (all
except for Peyote, anyway.)  Flying through the air, at great rates
of speed and hundreds of feet above the ground, was an exhilarating
experience, to put it mildly.  This continued for an indeterminate
length of time - it really was hard to gauge the passing of time
when one's heart was beating at full gallop - but eventually, the
four eagles landed, gently dropping their passengers off in a low,
heavily-wooded clearing.  One moment, they were airborne; the next,
the ground was rushing up to meet them; and the next, they had set
down.

Gorin:  Whoa.  (he stumbles around on the forest floor, dizzily)
  Next time I'll do my own flying, druid...
Mongo:  (contrarily, he seems to be fine the instant his feet hit
  the ground)  Where are we?
Halbarad:  This is Peyote's home.
Peyote:  (talking to the eagles, he squawks and waves as they take
  to the skies once more)  Whew.  (he turns to his companions)  What
  a rush, eh dudes?
Mongo:  Hmph.
Gorin:  I was just thinking - what about our horses?
Peyote:  They'll be fine.  (he shrugs)  It's the Vesve Forest, man.
Mongo:  Well, that about explains it all!
Halbarad:  (shrugs)  If he says it is safe, then it is safe.
Gorin:  Yeah, but-  Hey!  (he notices, for the first time, the odd
  surroundings that they now stand in)

  Odd, indeed, were these settings.  The clearing was actually more
than a hundred feet across, but it was impossible to tell from the
sky because the surrounding trees' branches obscured the view.
Indeed, they seemed to grow _inward_, toward the center of the
clearing.  At a thirty-foot radius from that central point were
a series of stone monoliths.  Their sizes varied, but the smallest
of them still towered over any of the adventurers.
  Within this perimeter of stones were spaced a few crumbled stone
buildings.  Some of them didn't even have roofs or all four walls.
At the exact center of the henge was a final circle of stone blocks,
these a mere four or five feet in height.  The inner stones formed
a circle of no more than ten feet in diameter.  Within this ring,
they could see strange burnt spots.
  The entire clearing was dead quiet.

Gorin:  Why is this entire clearing silent?
Peyote:  Because the forces of nature know you're here.  They're
  making sure everything's cool.

  As if on cue, life returned to the place.  Birds settled on the
stones, chirping wildly; small furred animals scurried about with
joy; even the shrubs and plants within the henge seemed to multiply.
The sole exception was the smaller inner circle of stones:  not a
single animal, insect, or plant rested within that strange ring.

Peyote:  See?  They're all happy to have their guardian back.
Mongo:  That would be you?
Peyote:  You called it, dude.
Halbarad:  (eyeing the huge trees that form the outer edge of the
  clearing)  Hmm.
Gorin:  What _is_ this place?
Peyote:  This is an ancient Druidic circle...and also my home.
Mongo:  What kind of stuff goes on here?  Wild festivals?  Magical
  incantations?
Gorin:  Orgies?
Peyote:  Yes, yes, and no.  Not often, anyway.
Halbarad:  (frowns)  Those trees...
Peyote:  Not trees at all.  (he whistles in some strange tonal form
  of language)

  Much to the visitors' amazement, the nearest of the giant trees
at the henge's edge uprooted itself, walking toward them with great
loping strides!

Mongo:  (grabs his hammer)  What the fuck?!?
Peyote:  Relax, man.  It's a friend.
Halbarad:  A tre-ant!
Peyote:  (eyes gleaming)  Yes!  Or as we call them, simply treants.
Gorin:  Hell, it's _huge_.

  So it was, towering more than twenty feet above the forest floor.
It waved the long, spindly limbs that were its arms - if one looked
closely enough.  If one didn't know the thing for what it was, it
would easily have passed for a tree.  Its "legs" were formed by the
base of its trunk, and the creature moved faster than most men could
run.  Its mouth, which Mongo could swear had once been a narrow crack
in the wood, curved in a bizarre-looking grin.  Its eyes, mere knots
before, now shone with intelligence.

Peyote:  Ho, there, wooden friend!
treant:  (speaks with a resoundingly deep voice)  WELCOME BACK TO
  THE HENGE, HURMFYT.
Peyote:  Good to be back.  (to his companions)  I've known Elmtrunk
  here since he was a mere sapling.
Elmtrunk:  HE STRETCHES THE TRUTH, AS A SPIDER STRETCHES ITS WEB.
Peyote:  Yeah, well, maybe-
Elmtrunk:  (spying Gorin's battleaxe, he quivers)  WHY DOES THE DWARF
  BEAR AN AXE?
Peyote:  Oh.  (to Gorin)  Treants don't much care for axes...or axe-
  wielders.
Halbarad:  (his axe concealed in his pack, he remains silent)
Gorin:  (utterly unafraid, he steps forth and addresses the gigantic
  creature)  I didn't mean to alarm you, great one.  My axe is used
  for felling orcs, goblins, and other pawns of evil - no more.  I'll
  put it down, if you'd like.
Elmtrunk:  (possibly laughing, though only Peyote may know for sure)
  NOT TO WORRY, DWARF.  I BELIEVE YOU.  ANY FOE OF ORCS IS A FRIEND
  OF ELMTRUNK'S.
Gorin:  (nods, smiling)
Peyote:  Cool.

  From the huge treant, Peyote quickly learned what was going on
in these parts:  some great evil was afoot, and the Archdruids
themselves were in attendance with the Great Druid.

Mongo:  The who?
Gorin:  There's more?
Peyote:  There's one Great Druid.  He rules all the forests, controls
  everything.  He's the _man_.
Halbarad:  And it sounds as if he has summoned you.
Elmtrunk:  SINCE THE EVIL FALLS IN THIS FOREST, IT IS YOURS TO DEAL
  WITH, HURMFYT.
Peyote:  Swell.
Mongo:  What's this "hurmfyt" business?
Peyote:  It's a treant word - it means "exalted untree one" if you
  translate it roughly.
Gorin:  What if you translate it exactly?
Peyote:  Dude, there're some things that even I can't do.
Halbarad:  Where is this great evil?
Mongo:  Yeah, where?  If there's ass to be kicked, I'm ready, but
  someone better show me where it is.
Peyote:  We'll have to go see the Great One himself.
Gorin:  Come again?  (he looks around)  Another trip?
Peyote:  Yeah, but not like the last one.  Come with me.  (he walks
  toward the center of the henge)

  They could now see that other, lesser druids lived and worked here.
Some were in the stone huts, busy with one thing or another.  Others,
Peyote informed them, were out roaming the forest, quick to find and
report any potential danger.

Mongo:  Like this danger you're facing now?
Peyote:  No, I get the feeling nothing's quite like this one.

  Arriving at the strange, dead center of the henge, Peyote began
waving his arms, working some spell.  At first, nothing seemed to
be happening, but then, suddenly, the inner ring began glowing.
The dirt within swirled around and around, and strange sounds came
from nowhere...and everywhere.

Peyote:  Into the circle, my friends.  We're going on a little trip!
  (he steps into the ring of stones, and abruptly vanishes)
Halbarad:  Hmm.  (boldly, he follows the half-elven master of the
  henge, and disappears as well)
Mongo:  (looks at Gorin)  This is turning out to be one weird-ass
  day.
Gorin:  Tell me about it.  (they both step through, following the
  first two to wherever it is they went)








next:      the threat revealed
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/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:     This Druidic/Celtic stuff is pretty cool.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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