Chapter #537

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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 1991-8 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                    +
+                           +
+  Rillen       18th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+  Date:        9/20/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        shortly before dusk                                 +
+  Place:       somewhere in the barbarian lands to the northeast   +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."                      +
+                                          - Ralph Waldo Emerson    +

                   DXXXVII.  Off the Beaten Path

  More than a month has passed since Rillen and Songa left Arnold and
the Fruzti village.  In that time, they have journeyed further into
the wilderness, much further...

Rillen:  (comes around a bend, a huge log propped on one shoulder)

  Outside their cabin, Songa was skinning a deer that she'd
tracked and slain earlier that day.  As Rillen approached, she
looked up, smiling in amazement.

Songa:  That enchanted belt is serving you well.
Rillen:  That it is.  We only have to go for firewood once a week
  this way.
Songa:  Came in handy for building the cabin, too.
Rillen:  (nods)  A useful item, this belt.

  They'd built the cabin in record time, with Rillen's augmented
strength and Songa's expert supervision.  Of course, they'd had to
find a suitable site first, and this task had taken days.  After
surveying a number of sites, they'd settled on this one:  a small
clearing within the forest, on an area slightly higher than the
surrounding ground.  It was only ten minutes walk to the nearby
stream - a stream visited only by wild animals, unpolluted by
anything, its waters pure and untainted.  By making their home
a fair distance from the water, they ensured that the wildlife
would still go there to drink.  Songa only killed what little game
was absolutely necessary for the two of them to survive.  Their
diets were augmented by roots, berries, and such, depending of
course on the season.
  Anyhow, once they'd selected the site, they'd begun digging
the necessary holes and trenches for a solid log foundation, and
then they'd gathered and cut the logs.  It had taken the two of
them a week - albeit a long, hard-working, tiring week - to erect
the walls of their cabin.  The roof had been the most challenging
part, mostly due to poor leverage at odd angles, but they'd kept
the roof level down by digging _into_ the ground to lower their
floor.  This task had been difficult, but not impossible thanks
to Rillen's belt of giant strength and tools acquired in Songa's
village before they left.
  At its completion, the cabin was everything it needed to be:
solid, sturdy, weatherproof, animal-proof, and livable.  Songa
had plugged its cracks and seams with sap and earth; a similar
combination worked to weatherproof the roof.  Once the outside
had been finished, they went to work on the interior:  a crude
but functional fireplace butted up against the center of one
wall, its chimney venting through a small hole they'd left in
the ceiling.  On the roof, this vent was covered by a miniature
roof, allowing smoke to exit while keeping rain and wind from
getting in.
  Although there was little danger of attack way out here in
the middle of nowhere, neither of the pair had lived this long
by being careless.  The front door - the only door - of their
cabin was fashioned of logs just as thick as those in the walls.
A series of smaller logs served to bar the door once it was
closed, and a thick brace rested to one side.  The cabin had
no windows - after all, if they wanted a view, all they had to
do was open the door.  The chimney's opening into the cabin -
the fireplace - could be secured with a heavy block of stone
that lay nearby.
  Once the door was opened and the cabin entered, a ramp of
packed earth led down to its floor, about five feet below the
ground level outside.  Additional walls of logs separated the
interior of the cabin from the earth all around it, also
providing further insulation from the cold.  To the left of
the door and ramp was the wall containing the fireplace, as
well as the heap of furs that served as a bed.  Nearby shelves
held various clothing and personal effects.
  To the right of the door were kept tools and weapons, as
well as foodstuffs.  Skins in one corner held water, wine, oil,
and other necessary liquids; Songa had also fashioned some
crude clay urns which were still in the process of hardening.
Neither of the pair were carpenters of any great skill, and
Rillen had in fact surprised himself by remembering that Mongo's
henchdwarf Gorin was in fact a master at woodworking.  Despite
this potential setback, they had managed to fashion some crude
furniture:  a table, two chairs, and a couple of storage crates.
Rillen smiled as he recalled the look on Songa's face when she
first sat down on one of the chairs, the pride and joy of their
entire day's work - and the thing had collapsed under her weight!

  Songa:  Shoddy workmanship, no doubt.
  Rillen:  (rubs his chin, eyeing her clinically)  Either that,
    or you're getting fat.
  Songa:  Fat?  Fat?!?  I'll show you fat!  (she leaps, tackling

  Yes, they were happy, and alone, and happy in their alone-ness.
For the first time ever, they were _truly_ living independently,
taking what they wanted from the land, and also giving in return.
Songa had shown Rillen how to plant trees to form a windbreak that
would protect their little home from some of the worst of the
elements.  While it would be years before they could see the
results, it still made them happy to replenish as well as take.
Furthermore, Songa had plans for a garden, once the weather
  This was definitely a home for two - nothing more, nothing less,
nothing else.  Rillen hadn't been totally sure he wanted to get
away from everything, but now there was no doubt in his mind that
this was a much better way to live.  His dreams of starting his
own fighting school and training students was, at least for now,
put aside.

  Later that evening, after they'd feasted on roasted venison and
were entangled with each other amidst the pile of furs before the

Songa:  So what now?
Rillen:  What do you mean, what now?
Songa:  Aren't you restless?
Rillen:  (looks around, then looks at her, then at the fire, and
  again at her)  I couldn't be more content!
Songa:  Oh.
Rillen:  (props himself up on one elbow)  I'm happy here, and
  that's that?  What are you getting at?
Songa:  I just thought you'd want to be getting back to settled
  lands by now.
Rillen:  Forget that!  I fight because it's what I was trained to
  do.  (he smirks)  Well, that and the fact that the world is full
  of idiots.
Songa:  True enough.
Rillen:  I don't fight because I particularly enjoy it.  I've had
  my fill of roaming about, making enemies, having them return
  years later to take revenge...(he shakes his head)  No, as far
  as I'm concerned, those days are over.
Songa:  What of your companions - Mongo, Alindyar, Peldor, and the
Rillen:  Good friends, all, and I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to
  help any of them in need - but they're not the ones I'm going to
  grow old with.  You can't just run around with the same people
  forever and ignore the mating call of nature.
Songa:  (grins)  So I've gathered.
Rillen:  Heh.
Songa:  The mating call of nature is a strong thing, indeed.
Rillen:  Perhaps we'll have to delve into that, later.  (he notices
  that the fire is burning low, and gets up to add some logs)
Songa:  Where are they now?
Rillen:  Eh?
Songa:  All of the adventurers, I mean.
Rillen:  Hmm.  (he returns to the furs)  Well...Arnold is in the
  bar-  the village.
Songa:  So he is.  I hope he finds himself a woman soon...a good
  woman.  I think that's what he really needs, more than anything.
Rillen:  Agreed.  (he frowns)  Mongo and Gorin, last I heard, went
  to join some mercenary army...try the military life.
Songa:  Peldor and Tanya are in Greyhawk, of course-
Rillen:  Which pretty much means Bosco's in Greyhawk too-
Songa:  -as are Alindyar and Lyra.
Rillen:  Belphanior and his goons are elsewhere, I believe, though
  I'm not sure exactly where.
Songa:  And Ged's dead.
Rillen:  (nods slowly)  So there we have it.  None present, but all
  accounted for.
Songa:  Including us.
Rillen:  Including us.  (he stretches out)  Ahh.
Songa:  But...
Rillen:  But what?  What's on your mind?
Songa:  Well, I just thought you were planning to compete in the
  big fighting tournament.  It's that time of year, but you haven't
  said anything about it.
Rillen:  And why didn't you?
Songa:  I didn't want you to think I was trying to convince you not
  to go and fight.
Rillen:  Nonsense!  If I want to go, I will - it's no big deal.
  Especially not between us.
Songa:  But it _is_ that time of year, no?
Rillen:  (nods)  Right month and day...wrong year.
Songa:  Eh?
Rillen:  The first tournament I fought in was on this day in 571,
  reckoning by the Common Year.  The second and most recent one
  was three years later - and two years ago.  That was 574.
Songa:  (confused)  Huh?
Rillen:  (remembers that the Common Year calendar means nothing to
  the huntress, who wasn't raised in a society that used that date
  system)  It's only 576.  The next tournament will be held in 577,
  but it's now 576.  They only have them every three years, ever
  since the treachery of Lao Khan.
Songa:  Oh.
Rillen:  The next tournament should be a good one, untainted by
  people with their own weird schemes and agendas.
Songa:  Sounds like you're ready for it.
Rillen:  No, but I've got a whole year to train!
Songa:  I see.
Rillen:  Bah.  We'll worry about that another time.  For now...the
  time has come to deal with that call of nature business...
Songa:  Oh, really?

next:      the new year is celebrated in Greyhawk, amidst a wild
           night for all
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     I have some fairly big plans for Rillen and Songa, but
  they revolve around the next fighting tournament, which isn't for
  another year.  Expect the adventurers' tallest couple to lay low,
  pretty much, until then.

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