Chapter #511

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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 1991-7 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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Arnold       13th level human barbarian warrior             (NG) +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven warrior                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven warrior                     (NG) +
+  Rillen       18th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        7/11/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the southern shores of the Nyr Dyv lake             +
+  Climate:     sweltering                                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Only dead fish swim with the stream."                           +
+                                                     - unknown     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                      DXI.  To the Nyr Dyv





  The party is currently split into several smaller groups, and
this one - composed of Mongo and Gorin, Rillen and Songa, and the
roaming Arnold - is headed to the far northeast.

Mongo:  -still don't see why the hell we have to cross this damn
  lake to get there.
Rillen:  It's a more direct route.  Going around the Nyr Dyv would
  cost us more than a week.
Mongo:  So what?
Songa:  So, that's a week faster that we get home.
Arnold:  (helpfully)  More than a week.
Mongo:  Who cares?  It's not worth crossing this blasted leagues-
  wide lake!
Rillen:  Well, if you're afraid-
Mongo:  Afraid, my ass!  I'm afraid of no lake, and I'll cross
  it if you loonies insist.  I just don't have to like it...(he
  goes to check on his pony, grumbling)
Songa:  Uh...is there something I should know about?  Something
  about him and lakes?
Gorin:  He's got this problem, sorta, with large open bodies of
  water.  It's because of that hammer he carries...dwarven magic.
Songa:  (as if that explains everything perfectly)  Ah.
Gorin:  Don't sweat it - he'll be okay.
Arnold:  I hope so.

  It was a relatively simple matter to find a barge for the
journey.  The Rhennee, local river- and lake-dwellers who had
been in the area for generations, were everywhere - and so were
their barges.  These great square rafts, often more than a
hundred feet wide, could carry dozens of people and mounts with
ease.  Occasionally, one of these vessels even had a second floor,
its supports built into the main framework of the raft itself.
  However, for a trip directly across the Nyr Dyv, such rafts
were far from ideal.  More than twoscore leagues in breadth,
the lake was too large - and its waters too choppy - for simple
rafts, no matter how massive they were.  In fact, there were
relatively few galleys large enough to attempt a voyage such
as the group wanted to make; of these, only a small number had
captains willing to sail the course.

crusty old sea dog:  They don't call it the Lake of Unknown Depths
  for nothing, y'know.
Songa:  So you're telling us that you're afraid?
crusty old sea dog:  Didn't say that, ma'am.
Songa:  (winks at Rillen)  See, it works on all men.
Rillen:  (smirks)
crusty old sea dog:  I'll take you where you're wantin' to go,
  if the price is right.
Gorin:  And what price would that be?

  After some negotiation, they were able to convince the fellow
to make the voyage for a flat fee of a thousand gold.  To the
adventurers, this was no great cost; to the captain, it was a
hell of a deal.

crusty old captain:  (extends a crusty old hand)  I'm Cornelius.
Mongo:  Mongo, at your service.  Uh, how long until we leave?
Cornelius:  Dawn tomorrow.  I've got to get the men together...
  they're holed up in every sleazy dive on this coast, most of
  'em.  (he cackles)  You know how it is.
Mongo:  Not really, but that's okay.  Have it your way.  Dawn.
  (he almost looks relieved)
Gorin:  I guess we can make camp on the beach, or uphill from
  it.
Songa:  Tides shouldn't be a big problem this far south...
Arnold:  Maybe we could find a good inn or two around here.
Rillen:  (nods)  We'd better eat well tonight - for the next few
  weeks, it'll be rations and stale water for us.
Mongo:  Hah!  Not for me, with my magical cornucopia.

  They soon found a small inn, little more than a series of
interlinked dirt walls, and made arrangements to stay the night.
Careful attention was paid to the door and window in their room,
for this was an area of high theft, and even a mighty group such
as them ran the risk of robbery.  Indeed, once during the night
Songa was awakened by a scratching sound outside the window.
When she grabbed her spear and moved to investigate, though, the
intruder vanished.  That was just as well, for it was no secret
that the Rhennee themselves often plundered foreigners in their
midst.
  However, these particular foreigners had no problems aside from
the unknown nocturnal visitor, and dawn saw them preparing to
board Cornelius' galley.  This rather broad vessel sported both
huge, billowing sails and banks of sturdy oars; it was tied off
to one of many docks that extended to the deeper waters offshore.
The crusty old captain was barking orders and pointing directions
like the lifelong sailor that he was.

Cornelius:  (spots the adventurers)  Ah, there you are, then.
  Got my money?
Mongo:  Yup.  (he hands over a bulging sack)
Cornelius:  (takes the bag, nearly dropping it as he bends to
  the deck with its weight)  Unf.  (he eyes the dwarf with more
  than a little surprise)  You're a strong one.
Mongo:  (oblivious, he grits his teeth and strides onto the boarding
  plank)
Gorin:  C'mon, let's go.  (he follows his lord onto the galley)
Rillen:  (to Cornelius)  All is ready, then - we set out soon?
Cornelius:  Just a few more things to load, then we're off.
Songa:  (nods at the captain as she follows Rillen aboard)
Arnold:  (claps Cornelius on the back as he passes)  Hi there.

  The final cargoes and supplies - foodstuffs and water, spare
sails and kegs of tar, spices and exotic goods - were carried
aboard by the crew.  The great oars were oiled, the hull scraped
clean of accumulated crud, the head-count checked and re-checked.
It would be bad for one of Cornelius' men to be left behind, since
the galley might take a month or more to return to these parts.
Finally, when all was in readiness, the ship set out into the
sparkling blue water.

Gorin:  (walks up to Cornelius, who stands on the foredeck and
  surveys the lake ahead)  Hey, what's this ship called?
Cornelius:  Are you writing a book or something?
Gorin:  Just curious about the vessel, that's all.
Cornelius:  (proudly)  She's named _The Seven Seas_.
Gorin:  Hmm.
Cornelius:  I know, I know, you're asking what the seven seas
  are.  (he cracks a wry grin)  Truth is, no one knows for sure.
  See, they're part of an old legend...
Gorin:  Pretty neat.
Cornelius:  Someday, maybe, I'll sail other waters - but not
  now.  (he turns his attention to the steersman and makes some
  comments about the vessel's course)

  It was pretty smooth sailing, at least for the first couple of
days.  The waters were calm, the sky clear, and the weather warm.
Only when they were well out of sight of land did the Nyr Dyv truly
deepen, small waves beginning to take shape as stronger currents
came into play.

Songa:  What's going on?
Cornelius:  I thought you told me you'd sailed before?
Songa:  (hands on hips, she towers over him, frowning)
Cornelius:  Uh, er, then again, maybe I recall that you said you'd
  sailed open waters, not a lake...not this lake.
Songa:  You recall correctly.
Rillen:  (grins to Gorin as he watches this)  I really like having
  a woman who can intimidate.
Gorin:  Heh.
Rillen:  Say, where's Mongo gone?  I've hardly seen him since we
  set out.
Gorin:  (frowns)  He's been keeping to himself, pretty much.  In
  his cabin.
Rillen:  Damn.  I was hoping he'd be okay on this trip...
Gorin:  (sighs)  Me too.  It's that hammer...kinda a price paid
  for wielding that kind of power, if you think about it.
Rillen:  That's why I rely on my own kind of power.
Gorin:  Eh?
Rillen:  Martial arts power.
Gorin:  Oh.
Rillen:  It's the best kind of power.
Gorin:  Ah.
Rillen:  (gazes out at the open waters of the Nyr Dyv)
Gorin:  So what are you and Songa planning, once you get where
  you're going?
Rillen:  I'm not sure.  We're thinking about getting away from
  the village, going somewhere even more remote...and building a
  home for ourselves there.
Gorin:  I thought you were planning to start a fighting school?
Rillen:  That comes later.  We're still working on exactly how to
  do that.
Gorin:  Are you still going to the big fighting tournament this
  year?
Rillen:  (nods)  Of course.
Gorin:  Maybe some of us will get to come watch this time.
Rillen:  Maybe.

  Elsewhere, Arnold and Songa were strolling along the deck,
fairly oblivious to the appreciative glances cast the huntress'
way by passing crew members.

Arnold:  Are you okay?
Songa:  Whatever do you mean?
Arnold:  Aaa...you just seem distragded lately.
Songa:  Well, you have to keep in mind that we _did_ venture to
  the Abyss and fight off hordes of demons, only to fail in the
  end.
Arnold:  That's one way to look at it.
Songa:  Hmm, good point.  Still...
Arnold:  Are you happy with Rillen?
Songa:  Of course.
Arnold:  Are you sure?
Songa:  Sure I'm sure.  What are you getting at?
Arnold:  Well, you just seem...upset lately.
Songa:  No, I'm not upset.  It's just hard to deal with men who
  want to protect you all the time, keep you out of danger.
Arnold:  You have to remembder that he didn't grow up in our
  land, like we did.  Different cusdoms and all that...
Songa:  Yes, I know.
Arnold:  Then what's the problem?
Songa:  Sometimes - most of the time, really - I just get to
  thinking.  It seems like I was meant for more than a simple
  life in a simple village.
Arnold:  Aaa.
Songa:  Then again, that's why we're planning to go out on our
  own and build a home, far away from everyone and everything.
  After that...who knows?
Arnold:  (frowns to himself)  Sounds like fun.

  Arnold considered telling her what was on _his_ mind - namely,
the fact that as a child growing up in his village, he'd always
had a fond eye for a certain blossoming huntress and fellow
barbarian - but that didn't seem like a good idea.  Now or ever.
Before he could ponder the matter further, however, the ship's
lookout began screaming in alarm.

lookout:  (way up on the crow's nest)  Serpent off the starboard
  bow!
Arnold:  (rushes to the galley's rail)
Songa:  (grabs his arm and pulls him toward the opposite rail)
  Starboard is this side.
Arnold:  I knew that.

  Several hundred feet to starboard, a huge, dark, scaly form
moved toward _The Seven Seas_!  The crew prepared for battle
stations as an alarm bell was rung, over and over.

Cornelius:  Serpent, my ass - that's a damned _squid_!
Rillen:  Are those legs trailing behind it?
Gorin:  Legs, tentacles, whatever - and lots of 'em!
Arnold:  Aaa.  What do we do?
Songa:  Hope it goes away...
Cornelius:  Not bloody likely.  I knew we shouldn't have gone
  across the lake's heart...
Mongo:  (crashes through a door, hammer in hand)  What the hell's
  going on?!?  (he spots the approaching monster)  Oh.
Rillen:  I suggest that we ready our weapons.
Cornelius:  And get a good grip on th' deck or a rail - I've
  heard tales of beasties like that turning whole ships over.





next:      men (and woman) versus squid; calamari at 11
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           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     Nope.
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