Chapter #54

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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:   12/23/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   late afternoon
Place:  Momburg, capital of the Hold of the Sea Princes

                        LIV.  Out to Sea!

  The "sea" group has arrived in the city of Momburg, capital of
the villainous Sea Princes domain, after a somewhat tedious trek
through the wild plains and hills to the west.  Winter was here
by now, and with a vengeance; the cold air found its way into
even the smallest seams of their clothes.

Belphanior:  Kind of nippy out here...
Rillen:  This new city should have a place for us to stay.
Mongo:  What sort of place is this?  They're all dressed funny.
Ged:  I talked with some priests about this land before.
Belphanior:  ...and?
Ged:  The Sea Princes rule this region, and Flotsam Isle, and
  Jetsom Isle, and Fairwind Isle, and...(unfolds a map)...hell,
  they rule the whole damned bay.  The Jerlea Bay, that is.
Belphanior:  Hey!  Did you steal that map from Peldor?
Ged:  Surely you jest.
Rillen:  These people.  Are they bad?
Ged:  Slavers, I have heard.
Belphanior:  (fingering his swordhilt)  Heh.  Then they will
  taste my steel sooner or later.
Ged:  Try not to kill anybody here.
Mongo:  Slavers, huh?  You think they're related to the other
  ones, who had that castle in the mountains?
Rillen:  Other ones?
Ged:  Who knows?  Anyway, this is a rough place.  I suggest that
  we take care of our business here and leave.
Rillen:  What _is_ our business here?
Mongo:  Yeah.  Good question.
Ged:  I think we need a bigger boat, to go out on the ocean.
Mongo:  Ocean?
Rillen:  Ocean?  I have never seen an ocean before.
Ged:  (dreaming about the wonders of the open ocean)
Belphanior:  Maybe Mongo will fall in...
Mongo:  Hey!  That's not funny!
Ged:  You need a flotation device, pal.
Belphanior:  Bigger boat, eh?  Let's go to the docks, then.
Rillen:  Sounds good to me.  (they go)

  As the four walked through the city, malicious eyes were upon
them at every turn, it seemed.  Ruffians, thugs, whores - all
these and more seemed plentiful here in Momburg.  Most obvious,
though, was the abundance of slaves.  Chained, bound, or collared
wretches were present at every turn.  Some were being dragged
or led by sullen masters, others roamed about, seemingly freely;
but the aura of oppression was almost tangible in all cases.

Ged:  This place is pitiful.
Mongo:  Poor slaves.  We should do something.
Belphanior:  If I had the power, I would bring this land to its
Ged:  We can't just declare war on an entire country, guys.
Mongo:  Why not?
Ged:  Because we can't win.
Mongo:  Why not?
Belphanior:  We'd need an army.  Which we _don't_ have.
Rillen:  Hmm.  Why not?
Mongo:  Don't worry about it.
Ged:  There they are...the docks.

  Ahead were Momburg's links with the open sea - an extensive
series of wooden docks, filled in some places with ships and
boats of all sorts, mostly empty in others.  There was actually
a small bay-like area, which was about twenty leagues across,
with an "opening" perhaps ten leagues wide, to the north of the
city.  The mass that was Jetsom Island loomed out there to the
east somewhere, outside the neck of the bay.  Beyond that, to the
south, were the other two islands.  Northward was the continent
itself, which was claimed by Keoland.  Eastward, however, lay a
seemingly infinite blue expanse - the Azure Sea!  It was here
that Ged wished to sail, once a suitable ship had been procured.

Belphanior:  I don't see any "Ship for sale" signs...
Ged:  We'll just have to ask around.
Rillen:  Maybe someone will give us a good deal.
Mongo:  How much does a good ship cost, anyways?
Ged:  It depends.  A small ship could cost only five thousand or
  so pieces of gold.  A big galleon, on the other hand, could
  run us up to fifty thousand or more...
Rillen:  That is a lot of money for a ship.
Belphanior:  We also need a crew, don't forget that.
Mongo:  Cripes!  Fifty thousand!  Fuck that!
Ged:  We'll just have to see.
Rillen:  (talking to some bum)  Do you know where there are any
  ships for sale?
bum:  ey, nah.  'eck it out over dere, dou'.  Dey might.  urp!
Rillen:  Thanks a lot.  I think.
Ged:  There's a nice one.  (looking at a ship, a big one with
  several sails)  I wonder if it's for sale.
Rillen:  Sail?
Ged:  Never mind.
Mongo:  Hey, look.  There's one that looks abandoned.
merchant:  (strolling up)  Whaddya need?
Belphanior:  We seek to buy a large vessel.
Ged:  Yea.  We need a ship, preferably one of the oar-driven
  types, with a mast and sail.
merchant:  Ah!  I have just the thing.  I assume that you can
  pay the costs, for they are quite substantial...
Mongo:  Don't you worry, buddy.  We're good for it.
merchant:  Follow me.  (he leads them down another dock to a
  long ship tied to the wooden posts of the dock)  Here she is.
Ged:  Wow.

  The vessel was a standard longship, something that only Ged
had seen before.  It was seventy-five feet in length, and about
twenty feet in width.  There were two dozen oars on either side,
meant to be operated by one oarsman apiece (large galleys had
oars that had to be operated by two or three people).  A single
large mast jutted from the ship's middle, suitable for a square
sail to be fitted for additional propulsion.  As they boarded
the ship, they found that it had ample space for cargo and
supplies.  Ged knew that this sort of ship was quite seaworthy
and could venture safely across the open sea if need be.

Ged:  (knocking of the hull)  It seems to be in good shape.
merchant:  Of course!  I would not try to sell such fine ones
  as you an ill-maintained vessel.  I would have sold it long
  ago, since I have others, but no one is in the market for a
  large ship these days.  Sigh...
Mongo:  Well, _we_ are.
Belphanior:  (to Ged)  How many crewmen will we have to get?
Ged:  Not too many...How much for the ship?
merchant:  Uhh...fully outfitted with sail and oars, fifteen
  thousand in gold.
Ged:  Bah!  Sail and oars are supposed to come with the ship!
  Five thousand!
merchant:  Thirteen!
Mongo:  You shark!  Six!
Rillen:  (to Belphanior)  What is a "shark"?
Belphanior:  It's a sea monster that eats other fish.  And men.
Rillen:  This is a man, not a monster.  What...?
Belphanior:  Never mind.
merchant:  Twelve thousand.
Ged:  Eight.
merchant:  Eleven.
Mongo:  Ten!  That's our final offer!  Take it or leave it!
merchant:  Okay, okay.  Ten it is.  We shall have to go to my
  office inland to sign the paperwork.
Ged:  We need a moneychanger or jeweler to cash in some gems
  for the money.
Rillen:  (not sure that this is a wise investment)  Hmm.
merchant:  Okay, I'll take you to all those places.

  Within a two-hour span, the money had been exchanged for the
rights to the ship.  Belphanior and Rillen went to the ship to
guard it, while Ged and Mongo went to find a crew to man it...

Ged:  Why get a crew?  All we need are oarsmen.  We could get
  some slaves!
Mongo:  Hey, I'm no slaver!
Ged:  I was thinking of freeing them later.
Mongo:  Oh.  Yeah!  That way, we get a crew, and they get their
  freedom!  Everybody wins!  Good idea!
Ged:  Where are the auction blocks, anyway?
Mongo:  Dunno.  Let's go this way.  (they wander off)

meanwhile, on the docks...

ruffian:  Hey, looks like someone's bought this longship from
  ol' Traxius.
other ruffian:  Har!  Let's have a look-see.  Maybe there's
  some good stuff aboard already!
third ruffian:  Yeah!  Think there's any little girlies here
Rillen:  (appears)  What do you people think you are doing?
ruffian#1:  Har!  Look there!  It's a big black ape!
Rillen:  Ape?
ruffian#2:  Out of our way, buddy.  We're from the dock boss'
  gang!  We have the right to look over your ship.
ruffian#3:  And take what we want!  Har har!
Rillen:  (yelling)  Belphanior!
Belphanior:  (voice muffled, since he is below decks nearby)
  What is it?
Rillen:  There are some people here who say that they have to
  look at the ship and take things!
Belphanior:  (still below decks)  What the fuck?!?!?  No way!
  Keep them off the ship!
Rillen:  I am afraid I will have to ask you to leave.
ruffian#1:  Haw!  (rushes at the warrior, club raised)  See
  how you like to get bashed, you big ox!  Taste hard wood!
Rillen:  (trips the goon, grabbing his wooden club)  No thank
  you.  (forcibly crams the end of the wooden pole into the
  man's mouth)  Does it taste good to you?  I hope so.
ruffian#1:  (screaming and blubbering as teeth fly everywhere)
ruffian#2:  Get him!
ruffian#3:  I dunno, he looks pretty big.
ruffian#2:  (grabs the bloody ruffian#1)  Let's get the hell
  out of here then!  (they flee, dragging their wounded comrade)
Belphanior:  (appears from below-decks, sword in hand)  What
  was all that commotion?
Rillen:  I got rid of those people.  They wanted to rob us, I
  think.  But I made one of them eat his weapon.
Belphanior:  Really?  Cool!
Rillen:  Do you think they will be back?
Belphanior:  Who knows?  Their kind is usually too stupid to
  know any better.  We'd better be ready, just in case.
Rillen:  Okay.


Rillen:  Here come some more people!
Belphanior:  (leaps on deck)  Whoa!  Those aren't people, they're
ogre:  Hey!  Hey youse!  Youse busted up Duekus here!  So now we
  come to bust YOU up!
other ogres:  (yelling; there are eight of them in all)
Belphanior:  Hold them off.  (begins a spell)
Rillen:  Right.  (grabs his bow, which he had ready, and begins
  to pepper the group with arrows)  Stay back.
ogres:  Agh!  Ouch!  (the warrior is shooting them in the knees,
  and has nailed two so far)
Belphanior:  (launches a color spray at the group)  Take that!
ogres:  Yagh!  (five of them fall unconscious, while the others
  gaps in amazement)  Huh?
Rillen:  Ha ha.  Caught you looking...
Belphanior:  What's that, a mob coming up the dock?  Shit!
Rillen:  (peering)  It looks like Ged and Mongo.  They have some
  new friends also.

  Ged and Mongo were marching up the dock, and behind them was a
group of fifty newly purchased slaves carrying bundles of food
and supplies.

Mongo:  Hey guys!  We're home!
Ged:  Looks like trouble there.
Mongo:  I'll be damned!  Ogres!
Ged:  It didn't take those two long to get into trouble, did
  it?  Ah well, it's probably Belphanior's fault, anyway.
Mongo:  (yelling to the ogres)  Off the docks!  Now!  You're in
  the way!
ogres:  (unsure of what would be best)  Duh?
Mongo:  (hurls his hammer at one, knocking it off the dock and
  into the water)  Go on!  Jump into the water!  NOW!
ogres:  (the other two who are awake leap off the dock)  Aaaa!
  <SPLASH>  Glub glub.
Mongo:  (turns to the slaves)  As you walk by, make sure you
  get a chance to step on those unconscious ogres there.  Feel
  free to kick them into the water, if you want.
Ged:  But hurry up and get onto the ship.

  Within five minutes, everyone was aboard, and Belphanior and
Ged were raising the sail as Mongo and Rillen helped distribute
the oars to the slaves.

Ged:  Let's get a move on!  More trouble may be on the way!
Belphanior:  Why?
Ged:  The slavers in the city didn't seem too happy when we
  told the slaves that we would free them once we got on the
Belphanior:  (pulling a rope to raise a corner of the sail)
  I was going to ask you about that...the slavery issue...
Ged:  We decided to buy them, and then free them.  It seemed
  like they'd work harder that way, and anyway I am not one
  to keep slaves in captivity.
Belphanior:  Me neither.  I applaud your judgement.
Ged:  Me too, Boccob knows.  But I think the town guard may
  come after us.  It's not good to just buy a ship and sail
  away with a lot of freed slaves, in the capital of a land
  whose main trade is the slave trade...but I think we did
  the right thing.
Belphanior:  Yeah.  I also think we're ready.
Mongo:  Oars, check!  Rudder, check!
Ged:  Sail, check!  Let's get out to sea!  Row, men, row!

  Belphanior and Rillen untied and reeled in the docking ropes
and pulled up the anchor as well.  Within minutes, the large
ship was headed toward sea.  It was late afternoon by now, and
the four adventurers took a well-deserved rest and had supper
while the ex-slaves rowed the vessel out to sea (they had been
resting for many days on the auction block...).  The fifty men
Ged and Mongo had selected, all strong and in good shape, were
no doubt pleased immensely that they were to be freed.  Since
Ged and Mongo had also bought enough food for all of them for
at least two weeks, all bases seemed covered.  The large ship
moved northeastward, navigated by Ged using the stars and his
knowledge of seamanship and navigation.
  Despite Ged's fears, no one pursued them, and the night was
peaceful.  They had the rowers work in shifts, so half could
get some rest while the other half rowed.  Ged and Mongo took
turns manning the rudder, and the sail was lowered until the
  In the morning, Ged raised the sail, and the ship moved at
a brisk clip.  By noon, they were through the bay's mouth and
passing Jetsom Isle; a few merchant-type ships were spotted
nearby, but nothing more.  Belphanior took a liking to the
small area at the top of the mast, and appointed himself as
the ship's lookout.  Ged theorized that the elf just wanted
to have the best position from which to cast spells at any
enemies who might appear in the sea...They headed north and
east on a course roughly paralleling the shoreline, but far
out from it, beyond the range of vision.  Ged relied on his
navigational skills to keep the party on the right course.
  Nothing of significance happened for two days, but at that
time a smaller ship seemed likely to attack the party's ship.
It was a coaster, a sixty-foot vessel with sails, and there
were perhaps twenty crewmen on board, seasoned pirates all.
These sea dogs brought their ship close to the party's ship.
They lasted only five minutes, though, when faced with Ged's
and Belphanior's spells, Rillen's longbow, and Mongo's hammer.
After all the seaborne brigands were slain, the party found
that the smaller ship carried nine slaves.  More interesting,
perhaps, was the large crack that Belphanior's lightning wand
had made in the coaster's hull; the pirate ship was slowly
sinking.  It was cleaned out, and the nine slaves were then
formally freed, which made them very happy.  One happened to
know the use of a rudder and sail, and Ged appointed this
fellow to help steer the ship when he got tired.
  The next two days were uneventful, except for the pair of
large slave galleys that sailed by.  These did not molest the
party's vessel, however, and were left alone.  Early in the
next morning, the party spotted some wreckage, and had the
rowers stop for a bit.  There was quite a bit of wood, as
well as some pieces of rope, cloth, oil, and other debris.

Mongo:  Hey!  There's a guy hanging onto that piece of wood!
Ged:  Somebody toss him a rope.
Rillen:  (lassoes the man, and pulls him to the ship)
Belphanior:  He looks quite...wet.
Mongo:  Yeah.  Well, this _is_ the sea, you know.
Rillen:  (hoists the fellow up onto the ship)
Ged:  (examining him)  He's alive.  Here, help me push his
Mongo:  Why?!?
survivor:  (belching out seawater)  Bleargh!  Cough!  (falls
Mongo:  Oh.
Rillen:  What can we do with him?
Ged:  Let's set him up to rest.  We don't want him to die of
  stress.  (to gawking ex-slaves)  You!  You!  Go get some
  blankets from below, before this man freezes to death!

  They carried the fellow into a cabin, where it was much
warmer, and let him rest while Ged got the rowers working
again.  The ship continued on for about an hour, and then
the man woke up.

survivor:  (sits up)  Aaaa!  It's killing us all!  Help!
Mongo:  (restrains the man)  Calm down, friend.  You're okay
survivor:  Huh?  (looks around)  Monster?  Where _am_ I?
Mongo:  We pulled you aboard.
survivor:  Aboard?  Then we're still at sea?  Aaaaaa!
Ged:  (enters the cabin)  What is _he_ screaming about?
Mongo:  Something about a sea monster.
survivor:  ...It attacked our ship!  It ATE our ship!
Ged:  Who are you?  What was this monster?
survivor:  (calming down a bit)  I am Durgan.  We had a big
  galley, a merchant ship.  A terrible monster got the ship
  and smashed it.  It came out of nowhere!
Mongo:  Hmm.
Durgan:  I was hurled away.  It must have been too busy to
  notice me.
Ged:  What did the thing look like?
Durgan: was-
Rillen:  (suddenly appears from above)  You should come up.
  There is some big monster coming toward the ship.
Mongo:  Holy shit!  (they all go up, including Durgan)

  Above, Belphanior was standing up in the crow's nest, his
gaze fixed on something very large off the port bow.  Most
of the rowers were watching it as well; it was five or six
hundred feet away from the ship but was approaching fast.

Durgan:  Eyahhhh!  (pointing at it)  That's it!  That's it!

  The monster looked like an octopus or squid, but was much,
much larger than any normal such beast.  It spanned at least
fifty feet, if not more, and two huge eyes glared at those
on the ship - its prey.

next time:  Some slaves get chomped; more pirates

FTP SITE: (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
NOTES:  Read Peter Benchley's novel _Beast_ for more tales of big
squids.  This posting is long overdue, but then again, so are some
good grades for me...

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