Chapter #487

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Alindyar     17th level drow mage                            (N) +
+    Lyra       13th level female drow mage                     (N) +
+  Belphanior  (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief       (CN) +
+    Otto        8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief           (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                                +
+  Ged          15th/14th level grey elven priest/mage         (NG) +
+    Arnold     13th level human barbarian warrior             (NG) +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven fighter                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven fighter                     (NG) +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human fighter/thief      (N) +
+    Bosco      11th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+  Rillen       17th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        6/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the Isle of the Ape, within some demi-plane         +
+  Climate:     hot and humid                                       +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Well, looks like we're about here."                             +
+  "Where's 'here'?"                                                +
+  "The middle of nowhere."                                         +
+                          - from _The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                CDLXXXVII.  It's a Jungle Out There





  The adventurers have entered the thick jungle beyond the great
wall, via the wider of two well-used trails.

Songa:  (glancing to either side as the party moves along the huge,
  flattened trail)  Nothing...whatever made this track is long
  gone.
Bosco:  (jumps into a huge footprint)  Let's hope it stays that
  way...
Ged:  (regards the footprint, eyes wide)  Boccob!  What a monster
  that must have been!
Alindyar:  Aie.  (ESPing to Lyra)  This surely means trouble.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Yes...do you think we should have
  spoken up, before Rillen's woman led us along this route?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Who can say?
Belphanior:  (examines the footprint for a moment, then turns to
  Songa)  Ideas?
Songa:  A few...none of them good.  (she points at the front region
  of the print with her spear)  Clawed toes...that tells us that it
  either hunts other animals, or else must defend itself against
  like-sized predators.
Otto:  Both of which pretty much mean the same thing.
Songa:  Right:  there are gigantic, aggressive, hungry beasts about.
Arnold:  Aaa.
Tanya:  (frowning)  I wonder where they are.
Peldor:  Who cares, as long as they're not here.
wispy thing:  (grins)  Yrrrp.
Peldor:  See, he knows.
Belphanior:  Hmm.
Mongo:  (waves his metal club experimentally)  Wonder how this'll do
  against a big fucker like whatever made that print.
Rillen:  That wasn't a question.
Mongo:  Nope.  We're not gonna be left alone for long out here...so
  we'd best be ready for an attack, sooner or later.
Gorin:  (hefts his axe, checking its edge)

  They had been marching along the wide trail for hours - long, hot,
weary hours.  Not one among their number felt hale and hearty, not
even the hardiest of the warriors.  Yet, they had to move on, for
the quest had begun in earnest now, and there was no turning back.

Mongo:  I can see why they stashed that stupid wand here.  No one in
  their right mind would ever come looking for it.
Alindyar:  Or find it.
Belphanior:  Just think of all the power we'll have when we get that
  wand.
Ged:  It's not to keep, fool.
Belphanior:  (muttering something to himself)
Tanya:  Maybe we should destroy it.
Peldor:  Now there's an idea.
Belphanior:  What a waste that would be.
Otto:  (watching Belphanior uneasily)
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  We'd better keep an eye on Belphanior.
  There's no telling what he might do.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  A simple illusion may be called for.

  Dusk found them still marching, having been unable to locate a
suitable site for a defensible camp.

Mongo:  Shit.
Songa:  (looking around)  The jungle isn't really my element, but
  I'm thinking we should find a safe place to camp for the night.
Belphanior:  Maybe we could climb up in a tree.
Bosco:  I could do that.
Lyra:  We can't sleep in a tree.
Otto:  Not all of us.
Belphanior:  If it's a choice between sleeping in a tree and sleeping
  on the ground, a smart person'll choose the tree.
Alindyar:  And what sort of person would choose the ground?
Belphanior:  Prey.
Gorin:  (tapping on a tree with his axe)  What about chopping down
  some of these, and using them to make a palisade?
Mongo:  (nodding)  Yeah...we could sharpen them, maybe dig some pits
  around the camp.
Ged:  A much more reasonable idea.
Arnold:  Cambp?  What cambp?
Rillen:  The one we're going to build...(he looks around for a good
  site)
Songa:  Best to make it off the main trail.
Mongo:  (still mumbling about pits and the spikes within them)  A
  pit here, a pit there...
Rillen:  Whatever made those footprints won't be deterred by little
  pits and spikes.
Peldor:  We'll post guards, too...(he looks at Belphanior)  And the
  people sleeping in the trees will probably hear anything coming,
  before the others do.
Belphanior:  Probably.
Alindyar:  Good ideas, all.
Arnold:  Aaa.  We'll make a cambp.
Tanya:  Well, let's quit talking about it and start doing it.

  The adventurers sprung into action.  Belphanior, Otto, and the
flying Bosco worked on the tree-based fortifications.  Saplings were
cut down and used to form crude platforms.  Songa showed them how to
weave wide leaves into mats; these were then tied to the platforms.
Mongo, Gorin, Rillen, and Arnold worked to chop down trees, then
made their trunks and smaller limbs into various sizes of spikes.
Ged used his magic to excavate a wide trench around the campsite.
Peldor, Tanya, and Otto constructed snares and traps out of the
materials at hand, plus those they contained in their packs.  Some
of these devices were set up so as to maximize the damage against
human-sized intruders, while others were designed to snare large,
wild animals.  Alindyar and Lyra didn't have much to do; their
spells were mostly of the attack or illusion sort, and they were
too weak (especially given the heat and humidity) to be of much
use with the building of fortifications.

Alindyar:  (sitting on the side with Lyra, watching the others at
  work)  I do not enjoy this...feeling of uselessness.
Lyra:  Me neither.  Our spells were designed to protect the house,
  not an open area.  I suppose we'll have our moment when the camp
  is attacked.
Alindyar:  When?  Not if?
Lyra:  I think we both know better than that.
wispy thing:  (flies through the bottom of the tree-platform and
  buzzes by them)  Spaaa!
Alindyar:  What a strange little being.
Lyra:  Really.  I wonder where Belphanior found him again?

  Eventually, the camp was completed, and they bedded down for the
night.  There was a hot debate over the wisdom of building a fire,
but Alindyar settled it by cloaking the flame in a sheath of pure
darkness.

Ged:  (walks from within the black barrier, emerging outside, near
  the camp's edge)  Boccob!  (to Belphanior, who is busy cutting
  handholds into a tree trunk)  I didn't know Alindyar could do
  that.
Belphanior:  Me neither.  It's really a simple idea - a hollow
  hemisphere of darkness.  Frankly, I'm surprised nobody's thought
  of it by now.
Ged:  Are you really planning to sleep up there, in that tree?
Belphanior:  Yup.  Otto, Mongo, and Bosco too.
Ged:  Mongo?!?
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  I know he usually likes to stay on the
  ground, but for some reason, he's gotten real interested in the
  tree-fort.
Ged:  "Tree-fort"...sounds like a children's game.
Belphanior:  (nods)  But it isn't.
Ged:  No...me, I'd rather be at sea, on the rolling deck of a ship,
  the salty breeze coming in off the water...know what I mean?
Belphanior:  Actually, I do.
Ged:  You do?
Belphanior:  I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid.  This isle is no
  place to be, and I want to get off of it.  The sooner, the better.
Ged:  Yea.

  The spell-users alternated time within the cocoon of darkness,
memorizing arcane formulae or praying to their gods.  Later, as
the party in general prepared to bed down for the night, Ged ended
a discussion with the drow and stood to make an announcement.

Ged:  I have decided to encase the camp in a shell of force, when we
  go to sleep.
Mongo:  So?
Bosco:  Really...what do we care?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Fools.  (speaking aloud)  When Ged
  does this, anyone not in the camp itself will be unprotected...
  aye, isolated entirely from the rest of the party.
Gorin:  You mean those in the trees.
Alindyar:  Precisely.
Ged:  Yea.  You guys really should come down here and sleep on the
  ground like everyone else.
Tanya:  (a bit sarcastically)  We've got softer beds and everything.
Otto:  No thanks.  Soft beds lead to soft muscles and minds.  I like
  it up here...it keeps me sharp.
Belphanior:  Why bother with such a barrier anyway?  That spell won't
  last nearly the whole night...
Ged:  Because it's a good idea, and better than nothing.
Belphanior:  (shakes his head)  We'll be fine up here, without your
  wall of force.
Mongo:  (nods)  Nothing'll get us.
Gorin:  (having joined the tree-club)  If someone attacks you, we'll
  have a good vantage point from which to attack _them_.
Bosco:  (hovering in the air, his boot-wings flapping)  Yeah!  It'll
  be the dawn of a new era for Bosco, mad bomber of the jungle-
Ged:  This is no joke, Bosco.  Down here in our force-sphere, we'll
  be protected from any and all attack.
Lyra:  (nods)  That's the whole point.
Bosco:  (holding several coconuts)  But I wasn't joking...
Peldor:  To each their own, I suppose.  (he turns to Tanya)  We can't
  guide Bosco along forever.  He has to make his own decisions at
  some point.
Tanya:  When hasn't he?
Peldor:  True...it's just that I feel responsible for him.
Tanya:  Don't sweat it.
Peldor:  Tall order, out here.  (he mops his brow)

  Even though night had fallen, it didn't seem to have gotten much
cooler.  The heat, humidity, and insects were a constant irritation.
Ged filled several skins and pots with fresh water, so that anyone
who needed some during the night would have it.

Tanya:  (winks at Peldor)
Gorin:  Say, won't a wall of force prevent you from hearing any
  approaching sounds?
Alindyar:  Aye...the barrier is proof against physical force, and
  certain forms of energy, including sound.
Songa:  Then my turn at watch will suffer from it.
Lyra:  Somewhat, but at least you'll be protected.
Songa:  (shakes her head with doubt)
Bosco:  Watch?
Belphanior:  Someone's got to do it, Bosco.
Bosco:  Well, then-
Gorin:  I'll take first watch.
Songa:  I think I'll join you.
Rillen:  No, wait until later, when I-
Songa:  It's fine.
Rillen:  Let me join you on this watch, then.  (to Gorin)  How about
  it?
Gorin:  Well, sure-
Songa:  (shakes her head firmly and turns to Gorin)  No.  (she turns
  to Rillen)  We can't do everything together.
Rillen:  But-
Songa:  Don't worry so much.  Go to sleep, and I'll wake you when
  your turn comes.
Rillen:  (sighs)  Very well.  (he sets up his bedroll)

  A short time thereafter, as Gorin went to the opposite side of
the campsite to stand guard there...

Tanya:  (joins Songa at the camp's edge, right behind the outward-
  pointing stakes embedded in the jungle floor)  Is everything okay?
Songa:  ...it will be.
Tanya:  What's the problem?
Songa:  I don't care to talk about it.
Tanya:  You should.  I mean, you need to - hell, everyone needs to,
  at some point.
Songa:  Perhaps.  (she regards Tanya, then the others who are asleep,
  then Tanya again)  Does...does Peldor ever try to do everything,
  for you?
Tanya:  Sometimes...do you mean protect me...or overprotect me?
Songa:  I suppose that term applies.
Tanya:  Don't worry too much about it, it's a man thing.
Songa:  I am no soft, weak city woman...and I am unused to being
  fretted and worried over.
Tanya:  Give him some time.  He'll get over it.
Songa:  He needs to.  Some cultures may pander to the idea of men
  doing everything for woman, but not mine...and not me.
Tanya:  I understand...like I said, just give him some time.
Songa:  Oh, I will.  It's just hard, sometimes.  Sometimes it takes
  all the patience I have.  (she eyes the darkness beyond the camp)
  You'd better let me get on with my watch duty, now.
Tanya:  Okay.  Goodnight.
Songa:  (still watching the darkness, wondering where the invisible
  wall of force actually stands, for she hasn't bothered to test it)

  With the strange, almost alien sounds of the jungle buzzing and
chirping all around them, the adventurers slept, or tried to sleep.
It was easy for those inside the force-bubble - the sounds didn't
pass through the sphere.  Neither did the insects, and once those
inside the barrier were slain, the adventurers rested a bit easier.
While Gorin stood his post outside the force-sphere, Songa remained
within - and quickly found that she couldn't hear anything through
the invisible wall.  She cursed to herself for being tricked into
this situation.  Although she was fully expecting (if not able to
deal with) an attack, nothing happened during her and Gorin's watch.
It was later, as Mongo and Bosco stood guard, that the ground began
to tremble.  Mild tremors at first, the vibrations quickly and
alarmingly grew in intensity - even as they decreased in distance.

Bosco:  Uhh...
Mongo:  (quickly drops to the ground, facing the direction of the
  approaching whatever-it-is)  Get behind me, Bosco.
Bosco:  I'm in the tree!
Mongo:  Oh, yeah.
Bosco:  Uh, what are you doing?!?
Mongo:  Just gotta prove something to myself...(he wanders a short
  distance in the direction of the wide main trail, his gleaming
  metal club held in one thick arm)
Bosco:  I don't think that's a very good idea...
Mongo:  Shh!  (he cocks an ear)

  There was nothing but silence; the tremors had stopped, much like
the winds did when one was in the eye of a storm, though Mongo could
know nothing of such things.  The other adventurers, either in the
tree-perch or within Ged's force-bubble, were awake and alert now,
but all was quiet.
  Then, a sudden and terrible snapping heralded the collapse of the
trees next to Mongo.  Foot-thick trunks were bent and snapped like
twigs, crushed beneath a gigantic scaled foot.  Mongo gazed at the
huge, green, three-toed foot; the claws that tipped each toe were
easily the size of swords.  The dwarf looked up...and up...and up.

tyrannosaurus:  (gazes down at the prey, drool dripping from its
  fearsome maw)
Mongo:  Hi there.  (he raises his club and takes a half-step back)
tyrannosaurus:  GRAAAAARRR!  (horribly fast, it leans down to the
  ground, jaws snapping)

  The next moment, as the other adventurers watched from their
dubiously protected positions, the dinosaur threw its head back
and roared again...the writhing form of Mongo caught within those
terrible jaws!

Bosco:  Ho-ly shit...





next:      battle with the T-Rex!
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
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:     If you hadn't noticed it already, I'll tell you now:
  It seems that Peldor was talking in his sleep at one point in
the beginning of the last episode, 486.  I leave it as an exercise
to the reader to find the exact incidence.  A few good comments
about this occurence sum the situation up perfectly:

>  hey, isn't that what all peldors do?

> that just shows you how great the all powerful Peldor really
> is. ( maybe a new function of his tattoos? )
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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