Chapter #53

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*  The 8 player characters contained in these writings are copyright
*  1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to persons or characters
*  either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  Copying and/or
*  distribution of these stories is permissible only under the one
*  condition that no part of them will be used or sold for profit.
*  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.

THE PARTY (temporarily split up; this is the "sea" group):

Belphanior, 6th/6th/7th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 7th/7th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 8th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Rillen, 8th level human fighter (N)
Date:   12/07/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   afternoon
Place:  northeast of Loftwick, in the Yeomanry

                        LIII.  Pirates!

  The group who wanted to travel to Greyhawk by sea has gotten
underway - this bunch consisting of Belphanior, Ged, Mongo, and
Rillen.  They have been moving northwest through the Yeomanry
for several days...

Belphanior:  It sure is deserted out here.
Ged:  Of course it is.  That's why this is the wilderness.
Mongo:  (obviously bored)  Is this as good for you guys as it
  is for me?
Rillen:  No.
Belphanior:  Hey, look there!  Someone is coming!
Mongo:  (grasping his hammer)  Maybe it's goblins or something.
Rillen:  It looks like a patrol.

guardsman:  Ho there!
Ged:  Ho!
other guardsman:  What do you here?
Rillen:  Do?  I do what I wish.
Mongo:  Do what?
Rillen:  What in the hell are you talking about...?
Ged:  (to first guardsman)  Hey, pal, what's _your_ business?
first guardsman:  Well met, travelers.  We are simply some of
  the land's militia, checking for orcs and bandits and such.
Mongo:  Well, that's not _us_.
Rillen:  I am no orc.
second guardsman:  Of course not.  We shall continue on our
  way.  Happy travails!
Ged:  (watching the troops ride away)  Those guys were...weird.
Belphanior:  (fingering his sword)  For a minute there, it was
  almost as if they wanted trouble.
Rillen:  Bah.  If anyone attacks us, _I_ will show them what
  trouble is all about.

  They rode on for another week or so, passing a large merchant
caravan, a small town, and a band of dwarves, halflings, and
men headed into the Joten Mountains on a raid.  Eventually, the
group entered the Little Hills, so named because of the over-
shadowing mountains to the northwest.  The hills were the home
of many halflings and gnomes who were renowned for their great
ferocity in battle.

Belphanior:  Ha ha!  I've yet to meet the halfling who has any
  use in a fight!
Mongo:  Hey, you've got to watch out for the little fuckers.
  They may not be too strong, but they'll pick your pockets
  clean in a heartbeat.
Rillen:  What is a...halfling?
Ged:  What?!?
Rillen:  I do not know what that is.
Mongo:  Haven't you been in the world for long enough to have
  figured this out by now?
Rillen:  No.
Belphanior:  They're little guys, usually not even waist-high.
  They usually tend to act like thieves, purse-snatching and
  pocket-picking and such.
Ged:  Oh boy.  You're one to talk.
Belphanior:  Just making an observation.
Rillen:  I will remember what you have told me.  In case I
  ever meet one of these halfdings.
Mongo:  Halflings.
Rillen:  Right.

  They camped and traveled for a few days in the hills, safe
in this peaceful (at least, when the giants from the mountains
weren't raiding southeast) area.  A couple of days later, they
encountered a patrol...

Mongo:  Son of a bitch!  Here comes a whole swarm of little
Ged:  What do you...oh.
Belphanior:  Halflings.  There some are, Rillen.
Rillen:  Hmm.
halfling:  (marching up to the party)  Hey there!  State your
  name and business in our hills!
Belphanior:  Now look here, you-
Ged:  We are moving northward, small friends, and are simply
  riding through your kingdoms.  We mean no harm.
Mongo:  (looking about suspiciously, as he holds on to his
Rillen:  So these are halflings.
other halfling:  Yeah!  What of it?
Rillen:  You look like children to me.  (looming over the tiny
  one)  What of it?
halfling:  ulp.
Ged:  Now, now.  (pats Rillen on the shoulder)  It won't do to
  go bothering the local folk of the hills.  (turns to leader)
  We'll just go on about our merry way.
Halfling Leader:  Yup.  That is, after you pay the toll of the
Ged:  What?!
Belphanior:  Aaa!  Highway robbery!  A noble warrior like myself
  cannot possibly stoop to such depths as to pay off midget
halfling:  We're not bandits, we _live_ here.  And you have to
  pay the toll.
other halflings:  (doing their best to look menacing)
Mongo:  Bah.  I could give a shit less.  _I_ am not paying you
  little pests.
halfling:  Grr...
Ged:  (checking his pockets)  I guess _someone_ will have to
  pay up here.
Belphanior:  I'll get it.
Mongo:  ?!?
Belphanior:  I changed my outlook toward this business.  Here.
  (hands the leader a pouch of coins)  Have this token of our
  inestimable gratitude.
Halfling Leader:  Wow.  Err, gee, thanks.  You may pass.  (he
  leads the fifty of so halflings on their way, all of them
  jabbering excitedly)
Ged:  (looking back as they ride away)  Thanks for your, well,
  uncharacteristic donation back there.  How noble of you.
Belphanior:  Think nothing at all of it.  I certainly didn't.
  Especially since I just unloaded about a hundred copper
  coins painted as gold...
Mongo:  All RIGHT!!  (slaps the elf on the back)  Way to go!!
Rillen:  Hmm.  I guess they got just what they deserved.
Belphanior:  I like to think so.
Ged:  Well.  There was nothing wrong with that.  Toll!  Bah!
  (looking back again)  But let's ride faster for a while.
  Just in case.
Mongo:  Yeah, we wouldn't want to invoke the wrath of the
  halflings!  Hah hah!
Belphanior:  Heh.
Rillen:  (smiling, an unusual occurrence)
Ged:  Hm.

  The group rode on, exiting the hills the next day and then
reaching the Javan River soon after that.  It was now a full
ten days since they had left the city of Loftwick.  The river
was quite wide and deep - the Javan was the longest river on
the continent, though the party was surely unaware of this
interesting geographical fact.

Ged:  Wonderful.  There's no way in the Hells that we can
  ford that thing.  Not even on horseback.
Mongo:  We could ride along it, maybe northward, until we find
  a bridge or a barge or something.
Rillen:  (gazing at the river)  I have never seen such a thing
  as this before!
Ged:  Welcome to the civilized world, pal.
Belphanior:  (producing a small box)  Here's what we need.
  (trots down to the river's edge)
Ged:  Wonderful.  How is _that_ thing going to help us get
  across the river?
Mongo:  Yeah, how?!?
Rillen:  It looks like a boat.  For a rat.
Ged:  Yeah, th-  ahh, no comment.
Belphanior:  (ignoring them, says a few command words)  Watch
  this. O ye of little faith.

  Suddenly, the small box quivered and shook, and then...grew!
The thing lengthened, tapering to a point at one end.  Several
other wooden planks appeared and multiplied.  The box began to
look like a large boat; a mast appeared as if from nowhere and
sails grew like weeds upon this spire of wood.  Oars and their
slots materialized.  Within the span of a minute, the party
was looking at a fully-outfitted and decked ship for fifteen
or more.  The vessel was well over 20' long and 8' wide; it
now lay most of the way onto the riverbank, just waiting for
someone to sail it into the wide river.

Ged:  Boccob's glory!  Where did you get THAT?!?!?  I want one!
Belphanior:  Oh, some forgotten mage lent it to me.  Heh heh.
Mongo:  Yeah.  (rapping on the wooden deck)  Seems solid enough
  for use, anyway.  Good and sturdy.
Rillen:  What an item.
Ged:  (hops onto the ship)  This baby's got _everything_!
Belphanior:  Yep.  Let's raise the sail and get on our way!
Mongo:  Yeah!  (he climbs aboard)
Ged:  I'll operate the sail.  Mongo, you get the rudder.
Mongo:  But I don't know how!
Ged:  Don't worry, I'll guide you along.
Rillen:  (deftly vaults onto the main deck, using his staff)
  What about the horses?
Ged:  Hey, look!  There's a neat little hatch here!  They can
  trot up this ramp, onto the ship.
Mongo:  Imagine that.
Belphanior:  How convenient.  I didn't even know it had _that_.
Rillen:  (leads the horses onto the ship)  There is nowhere for
  them to go.  They will have to stay on deck.
Ged:  Oh well.
Mongo:  Just make sure they don't crap on us.
Belphanior:  (looking sour)  I can only assume that we're going
  downstream, toward the sea.
Ged:  That would seem to make sense.  Unless you can produce a
  dozen strong rowers to fight the current...?
Belphanior:  No, I don't have such an item.  Yet.

  They worked the ship free of the shore, and were soon sailing
at a fairly rapid clip down the Javan River.

Rillen:  I guess you could say that we caught the last ship out.

  Ged dominated this portion of the journey, as he had a good
bit of sailing experience under his belt.  The grey elf was
obviously having quite a time of it, too, as he operated the
sails and guided Mongo at the rudder.  The group moved for a
day, with Ged teaching some of the basics to the others when
he could.  At night, they lit a lantern an hung it in the prow
of the ship, sleeping in shifts of two so that they could go
by night too; there was no telling what dangers lay in wait on
the dark, unknown shores of this strange land.
  The night was uneventful, and early in the morning they went
by a merchant barge, waving happily to the confused traders.
Hours later, an unusual encounter took place...

Ged:  Hey, look at those little children on the shore.
Mongo:  Hi, guys!  (waving)
kid on shore:  (throws a rock, hitting the ship's hull)  Feh!
Belphanior:  What the...?!?
other kids:  (also throwing rocks at the party, and laughing;
  there are about a dozen of them)
Mongo:  What are those little shits up to?
Rillen:  Maybe they are getting their rocks off.
Ged:  The little weasels!
Belphanior:  I've half a mind to blast them...
Mongo:  Someone should spank the bastards!
Ged:  Here, watch the ship.  (casts a spell, and pyrotechnics
  appear in the sky overhead, dazzling the children, who run
  about in glee, the party's boat forgotten)
Belphanior:  You should have used the fireworks to zap THEM,
  not wasted the spell in the air.
Ged:  No harm done.
Rillen:  There they go...(the ship is outdistancing the shore-
  bound tots)  Farewell, little imps.
Belphanior:  (makes an obscene gesture at the children)

  They sailed on for another day and a half, passing at one
point a war galley docked at a small town, at another point a
beached wreck.  Late in the afternoon of the day following
the encounter with the unruly children, an accident looked
unavoidable, as...

Ged:  Holy Boccob!
Mongo:  What...?  Shit!
Belphanior:  That ship behind us is coming fast!  And it
  looks out of control!
Rillen:  (covers his eyes from the sun with a hand)  Why are
  all those people running around on deck screaming?
Ged:  They're out of control for sure!  They may hit us!
Belphanior:  (trying to think of a quick spell)  Damn.

  The other ship, a galley somewhat larger than Belphanior's
magical ship, drew close as its crew tried to steer it away.
They seemed to regain control, though, turning the galley to
the side before it could ram the party's vessel.  Suddenly,
though, the sailors on the other deck hurled hooks over, and
the sharp steel dug into the party's ship, pulling the two
boats close.

Ged:  By the gods!  They mean to board us!  It's base
  deception, at its basest!
Belphanior:  To hell with that!  (slices a hooked rope)
Rillen:  What is going on?
Mongo:  Battle!
Rillen:  This I understand.  (begins whirling his staff)
pirates:  (throw planks over; the wide wooden slats have
  hooks at both ends, and three of them sink in, virtually
  connecting the two ships with eight-foot-long walkways)
  'at's it, boyos!  Throw 'em over!  Board her!
Ged:  (runs to the rudder, fighting the larger ship's effect
  on the party's)  Fight them off!
Mongo:  No shit!  (heads for one plank, and the pirates who
  are already crossing it)  Hey!
Belphanior:  (thinking about his magical bowl)  Ged!  This
  may be the time for the water elemental!
Ged:  Gods, no!  That thing'll sink both ships!  Do something
  else instead!

Rillen:  (climbs aboard a plank)  You.  Get off of our ship.
pirates:  Har har!  Outta the way, blackie!  (the first one
  charges the warrior)
Rillen:  (whirling his staff meaningfully)  As you wish.
  (bashes the lead pirate in the head, sending him into the
  water below)  Maybe that will knock some sense into you.
Mongo:  Yarrrrr!  (charges the pirates on another plank)
pirates:  That thar dwarf is crazy as a loon!
Mongo:  (smashes the first pirate in the knee, and then
  bowls through him, attacking the next one)
first pirate:  Aaaa!  (grabs the edge of the plank as he
  continues to scream in agony)  Aaaaaa!
Belphanior:  (standing at the third plank)
pirate:  Har har, elf.  Back off, now.  We won't hurt ye.
other pirate:  Much!
pirate:  Har!  The elf doesn't even have his sword drawn.
  Whassamatter, pointy-ears?  Don't know how to use that
  pigsticker?  Har har!
Belphanior:  (grabs his end of the board and begins to lift)
pirates:  Eh?  Yie!
Belphanior:  (turning the board, manages to dislodge it and
  tip it into the river; the pirates fall back into their
  ship though, not the river, as the elf had hoped might
  happen)  Heh.  See who gets the last laugh.
Rillen:  (knocks another pirate's cutlass aside, and then
  hits the wielder himself, knocking him back into his ship
  with a crushed ribcage)  What is the matter?  Can't catch
  your breath?
other pirate:  Yaa!  (charges Rillen, but misses with his
Mongo:  (knocks over his second pirate, and leaps onto their
  deck)  Ha!  Mongo conquers all!
two pirate bowmen:  (fire arrows at Ged, three of which are
  right on target, but get deflected by the elf's magical
  belt and bury themselves in the deck nearby instead)  Huh?
Ged:  Damn fools!  Here I am trying to guide the ships - a
  lost cause, it would seem - and they fire at me!  Well,
  I'll show _them_.  (begins spellcasting)
Belphanior:  (moves to the plank which Mongo crossed over,
  and boards it)
pirate:  (the one with the smashed knee, trying to pull
  himself up onto the plank)  Aaaa!  Eh?
Belphanior:  (standing above him)  Hi there.
pirate:  (grins mindlessly)  ...oh shit!  (lets go as the
  elf slashes at him, and falls into the river and is lost
Belphanior:  Stupid shit.
Ged:  (fires magical missiles at the archers, hitting both
  of them twice each)
pirate archers:  (both perish)
Ged:  That's Boccob's justice for you!  See what becomes of
  those who would attack the helpless!
Rillen:  Helpless?  I think not.  (parries another pirate
pirate:  (slashes Mongo, denting his plate armor)
pirate:  (slashes at Belphanior, missing by far)

  The battle continued, with men, dwarf, elves, and horses
(remember them?) milling about everywhere.  Utter chaos was

Mongo:  (on the pirate ship, heads for the steersman)  Hey!
  Hey you!
pirate:  (turns)  Huh?!
Mongo:  (clubs the unfortunate with his hammer, twice; the
  second blow misses terribly and hits the rudder assembly
  instead - smashing it...)  Uh-oh!
pirate steersman:  (slain anyway)
Ged:  (looks to both sides)  Oh crap!  We're headed for the
Belphanior:  (stabs another pirate, then kicks him off the
  plank)  What?!?
Ged:  If we don't get disconnected from the pirate galley
  soon, we'll smash apart into matchwood!
Belphanior:  Oh.  (leaps back onto the party's ship)
Rillen:  (swats two more pirates, knocking one overboard)
  Mongo!  Come back!
Mongo:  (fighting three pirates at once)  Huh?!?
Belphanior:  (draws his wand)  Get back, Mongo!  (blasts
  the pirate ship with a bolt of lightning, snapping its
  mast and setting the sails ablaze)
Mongo:  HOLY SHIT!!  All right, all right!  I'm coming!
  (starts making his way back to the planks)
Rillen:  Eh?  Aaaaah!  (the plank he is standing on has
  just cracked apart due to the stress between the ships)
  Aaaaah!  (leaps backwards, catching the deck rail of the
  party's ship with one hand)  Aaaaah!
Ged:  Oh, quit playing.  (grabs the big man and pulls him
  on board)
Belphanior:  Come on, Mongo!
Ged:  Blast some of the pirates!  That's what's keeping him
  over there - they won't quit fighting with him!

Mongo:  (smashes a pirate, pulverizing his head in a spray
  of crimson)  Let me out!  Get the fuck outta my way, you
  bastards!  Ugh!  (takes a hit in the belly)  Damnit!
Belphanior:  (blasts the enemy ship again - this bolt hits
  it midships, at the waterline)  Ha!
Ged:  OH SHIT!  They're sinking!
Belphanior:  So?  Good!
Ged:  No, you idiot!  If THEY sink, then WE sink!  We're
  still attached to their ship!  And Mongo will sink too!
Belphanior:  Oh.
Rillen:  (smashes the last plank with a powerful blow or
  two of his hand)  Someone get the ropes!  Get them!
Belphanior:  (dashes off, stashing the wand as he finds
  a knife)  Okay!
Ged:  Mongo!
Mongo:  (swamped by attackers, who seem determined to keep
  him on their ship)  Aaargh!
Ged:  Mongo, you're SINKING!  Get back here!
Mongo:  Sinking?
pirates:  Sinking?!?!
Ged:  (prepares a spell)  They're going under!
Belphanior:  (slashes the last of the ropes)  That's it!
Mongo:  (breaks free of his attackers, leaving another
  dead and several wounded)  On my way!  (runs for the
  deck closest to the party's ship, grabbing a big piece
  of the broken mast on the way)  Gangway!
Ged:  (trying to cast Water Breathing on the dwarf)  This
  would be the best use I've ever had for THIS spell...!
  (suddenly realizes that he has to touch the recipient)
  Damn!  Damn it!
Mongo:  (jumps off the deck - and gets about two feet,
  before the weight of his armor pulls him down into the
  river...)  Oh SHIIIIIIIIT!  <SPLASH>  Glub glub!
Rillen:  Man overboard!  Or, dwarf...
Belphanior:  (digging for rope)  Fuck!  Fuck!
Ged:  (watching the pirates' ship)  They're sinking!  And
  so is Mongo!  No, wait!  He's clinging to that mast!
  But the current's carrying him!  He's getting away!
  The pirates are sunk!  (steers their own ship away from
  the shore, just in time)  Whew!  Damn!
Rillen:  Throw the rope!  We'll only get one chance!
Belphanior:  Yeah!  (has the thing untangled)
Rillen:  Throw it!  Throw it!
Belphanior:  (hurls his rope's grappling hook, with one
  end of the rope tied to it, far past the river-borne
Ged:  You missed!
Belphanior:  No, I overshot him.  Hopefully he'll be able
  to grab on to the rope!
Rillen:  Did he get it?
Ged:  Can't tell...Wait!  He's got it!
Belphanior:  Let's reel him in, before he sinks.

  Presently, they had pulled Mongo back onto the boat.
The dwarf was soaking wet and coughing water, but otherwise
alive and well.

Mongo:  Dammit!  I HATE the water!  (stomping about the ship)
Ged:  Hey, knock it off, pal.  You're dripping on me!
Mongo:  Why, you-  (wrings a shirtsleeve out over the elf's
  head)  Ha!
Rillen:  (chuckling)
Belphanior:  Heh heh.
Ged:  Okay, okay.  Let's get back on course and have a drink.
Mongo:  Ha.  Okay, but I get to dry off first.
Ged:  Of course.  Otherwise we'll all be soaked like you, the
  way you're splashing about.

  They continued, that night and then the next two days, and
finally, on 12/23/570, they entered the harbor-city called
Momburg - the capital of the Hold of the Sea Princes.

next time:  Slaves, the sea monster, and other fun in the
  Azure Sea

FTP SITE: (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
NOTES:  I must have goofed in the item descriptions last time -
Belphanior's character sheet that I have in this adventure's
folder lists him as having the folding boat.  I know that they
used it to get onto the river; I have either forgotten to list
the thing in the treasure lists or listed it but not updated
the list that went into the end of the last posting.  In any
case, the elf does have the boat.
  Only Belphanior's lucky throw kept Mongo from getting away
in the river.  Some of the difficulties of rapid-river combat
became apparent during this adventure...

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