Chapter #548

previous chapter (#547)                                                                  next chapter (#549)

                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      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                    +
+                           +
+  those remaining behind in Helgate:                               +
+                                                                   +
+  Razor Charlie     9th level human fighter                   (CN) +
+  Skektek          12th level human wizard                    (CN) +
+  Victoria         11th level vampiric human female fighter   (NE) +
+                                                                   +
+                                                                   +
+                                                                   +
+  unwanted guests:                                                 +
+                                                                   +
+  Omak             human warrior (leader)                          +
+  Canis            human tracker                                   +
+  Ug               ??? warrior                                     +
+  Ixlin            gnome illusionist/thief                         +
+  Vybool           ogre mage warrior/wizard                        +
+  Xylus            human assassin                                  +
+  Aeson            dao                                             +
+  Kenso Adon       human monk                                      +
+  Grub             human priest of Tharizdun                       +
+  Wampa            human weretiger warrior                         +
+  Rykooda          human warrior/wizard                            +
+  Klark            human conjurer                                  +
+  Date:        1/4/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        early evening                                       +
+  Place:       the remote mountain town of Helgate                 +
+  Climate:     frigid                                              +
+  "So you know something about him?"                               +
+  "Not enough."                                                    +
+                                             - from _Manhunter_    +

                     DXLVIII.  Outsiders

  Within the sleazy dive known as the Scoundrel's Den, several
visitors to Helgate were making the rounds and learning things
they needed to know...

Bunger:  -an' no one - NO ONE - fucks with him.  (he hiccups,
  then drains the last of his latest mug of grog)
Canis:  (signals the bartender to bring the drunkard another mug)
  I'm sure they don't.  Why, if he's anywhere near as dangerous
  as I've heard, he'd not tolerate anything from anyone.
Bunger:  You'd bett'r believe it!  He's cut down bandits in the
  street, right in fron' of women and children!  He doesn't care!
Canis:  (shaking his head)  Sounds like a bad-ass.
dark-haired young lad:  (wandering about, he listens without making
  it obvious that he's listening)
Ixlin:  (rejoins Canis at the bar)  What's the word?
Canis:  Good Bunger here was just having another drink.
Bunger:  (waving his empty mug and shouting)  Grog!
Felix:  (the owner of the tavern, he sidles up to the bar)  Or
  maybe not.
Canis:  Eh?
Felix:  (claps Bunger on the shoulder)  I think he's had enough,
  and I think you should be going.
Ixlin:  (begins fuming almost immediately)
Canis:  (clasps the gnome's shoulder)  He's right, my friend.
  We're done drinking.  (he tosses Felix some silver coins, and
  he and the gnome get up and leave)

  The two left the tavern, walking briskly but not obviously to
the set meeting point:  an abandoned building whose gaping front
doorway was masked by a powerful illusion.  None of the townsfolk
would see anything besides a worn wall of grey stone, its windows
and door boarded up.  Canis and Ixlin, however, knew of the hidden
entrance and simply walked through the illusion.

Wampa:  (faces them immediately, as if to attack)  Oh, it's you.
  I could have killed you, you know.
Omak:  That's enough, Wampa.
Wampa:  (snarls)
Omak:  You two are the last.  Have a seat and we'll get started.
Canis:  (plops down on the cold stone floor, uncaring)
Ixlin:  (eyes the dirty floor distastefully)
Omak:  What did you learn?
Canis:  The elf, and all of his closest cohorts, live in that big
  dark castle overlooking the town.
Ixlin:  The rest of the town guard - no more than a dozen - live
  and work down in the town proper.
Canis:  And the best part:  the elf and his head guards aren't even
  here right now!
Omak:  They're not?
Ixlin:  Nope.  They've been gone for several days, no one knows
Canis:  The time to strike is now.
Omak:  Soon, good Canis.  (to Xylus)  You scouted the castle, yes?
Xylus:  (nods)  Only one path up there.  He's got a carriage and
  driver who work only for him.  No one goes up, no one comes down
  unless the elf wants them to.
Omak:  We'll see about that.  Vybool, what did you learn while
  scouting from the air?
Vybool:  (un-polymorphs, reverting to his true ogre mage shape and
  size)  The castle's not really fortified against attack or siege,
  but it's practically atop a natural spire of rock.  It would be
  tough to attack frontally with a large force, if that's what we
  were going to do.
Xylus:  (frowning, the assassin adjusts his hooded cloak)  It should
  be easy to infiltrate with our small number.
Vybool:  (nods)
Omak:  Good work.  (to Klark)  Will your summonings be ready in time?
Klark:  Of course.  As soon as we eliminate the opposition here and
  head up to the castle, all will commence.  By the time we get into
  the place, our force will have increased twofold.  Maybe threefold.
Omak:  Are the rest of you ready?
Ug:  I am always ready.
Kenso Adon:  (nods)
Wampa:  Let's go forth and slay!
Rykooda:  Looking forward to it.
Grub:  (nods, his obese body jiggling)  I'm always ready for more
  sacrifices to the Dark One.
Aeson:  (simply hovers in place, arms crossed)

  More than half of them had been sitting here for hours, and they
were ready for action.

Omak:  Let's go to it, then.

  They marched out, heading to the town guardhouse.  Klark hadn't
summoned anything to bolster their ranks yet, but Ixlin had them
covered with an illusion.  To anyone who saw them walking down the
street, they were just a dozen average-looking fellows, perhaps
miners or merchants.
  Shortly, in the town guardhouse...

guard #1:  Boring night.
guard #2:  Yeah.  Things just don't seem to happen when the boss
  isn't in town.
stranger:  (flings the building's front doors open)  They will

  The two guards were to their feet in a flash, weapons drawn.  As
they watched in amazement, the stranger - a short, slight fellow -
simply wandered toward them, arms at his sides.

guard #1:  You just made a big mistake, buddy-
Kenso Adon:  (his arms move in a flash, and the man goes down,
  choking through a crushed throat)
guard #2:  Hey!  (he swings his sword in a blinding strike)
Kenso Adon:  (calmly leans away, dodging the blow by a hair's breadth,
  then lunges forward, striking at the inside of the man's knees with
  both palms)
guard #2:  (falls, both knees ruined)
Kenso Adon:  (delivers a final blow to the guard's neck, snapping
Omak:  (enters the guardhouse)  Good work.
Kenso Adon:  Child's play.
Rykooda:  (also enters)  You didn't leave any for me.
Omak:  Your spells are wasted on simple guards such as these.

  Razor Charlie was leaving the piss-room when he heard unfamiliar
voices in the guardhouse's front chamber.  Never without his belt
of knives, he readied two and peeked around the corner.  He didn't
like what he saw - the two guards manning the station were down,
maybe dead, and there were a number of strangers standing around
in the room.  It could mean only one thing, and Charlie reacted
the only way he knew how.

Razor Charlie:  (sidesteps into the hallway, hurling two knives at
  the nearest foe)
Kenso Adon:  (dodges one blade, but takes the other in his hand
  and yelps in pain and surprise)  Aie!
Rykooda:  What?!?  (he leaps back, putting more distance between
  himself and this mean-looking knife-thrower)
Omak:  (heading for the back, sword ready, before Charlie's attack,
  he quickly flips a table over, ducking behind it)
Razor Charlie:  (advancing into the room, he produces two more
  blades and hurls them at Rykooda and Kenso Adon)
Rykooda:  (hit in the thigh)  Agh!
Kenso Adon:  (hit in the ankle, he falls)  Argh!  Good gods!
Omak:  Enough!  (picking up his table and using it as a shield, he
  charges at Razor Charlie)
Razor Charlie:  (hurls two more knives, but both just stick in the
  thick oaken table)  Hmph.  (he jumps back, into the hallway)

  Omak's charge ended at the narrow hallway, the table shattering
on both sides as Razor Charlie danced back out of range.  As the
big warrior kept coming, only part of the table held up as a shield,
Charlie darted into a side room, slamming the door.

Omak:  (tosses the table aside and checks the door, finding it
  locked)  Okay...(he props the remnants of the table against the
  door, then dashes back out into the front room)

  Both of the monks were alive, if humiliated; even now, some of the
others were joining their leader.

Canis:  We took care of the two guards at the west side of town...
Wampa:  (nods, wiping blood from his hands)
Xylus:  And the east.
Ixlin:  (spots Kenso Adon's wounds)  What the hell happened to you?
Kenso Adon:  A surprise...a guard of considerable skill.
Rykooda:  (binding his leg wound)  Wait until I get my hands on
Omak:  You'll have your chance.

  Just then, Vybool stamped into the room.  The ogre mage's blue
skin was flushed, and he bore a large scorch mark across one arm
and shoulder.

Vybool:  (gasping in pain)  We've got...another uncommon guard...
  to deal with.
Omak:  How's that?
Vybool:  Wizard...uses lightning...
Ug:  (turns and heads out the door, his axe drawn)  I will deal
  with this wizard.

  As the big warrior stepped down onto the street, a barrage of
acidic bolts zipped toward him.

Ug:  (reels as his thick robe begins dissolving in several places)
Skektek:  (high in the air, he chuckles...then gasps)

  The huge warrior Skektek had just bombed was standing there,
his robe melting away in numerous places...revealing grey, scaled
skin!  Even from his lofty position, the wizard could see the
earthbound foe's reptilian features...features that looked rather

Skektek:  (muttering to himself)  He...he's like Ys!
Ug:  (roars up into the sky, waving his gigantic battleaxe)  Get
  down here!
Skektek:  No thanks...(he begins spellcasting again)
Aeson:  I'll handle this fool.  (he takes to the air)
Skektek:  Eh?  what's this?

  As the dao sailed upward, an angry look on his face, he faded
from sight.

Skektek:  Huh?

  The wizard wasn't an amateur, and he wasted no time.  The cone of
cold he was casting wasn't likely to hit an invisible (and probably
maneuverable) foe, so he directed it at the guardhouse's front door,
where several more foes were emerging.

Omak:  (spots the white blast coming toward them)  Back!  (he backs
  up and slams the guardhouse's front door)

  The blast of ice and cold still hit the door and blew it in, but
the foes weren't behind it, and they weren't seriously injured.
In the very next instant, as Skektek flew away, the invisible hand
of Aeson grabbed his ankle.

Skektek:  Hey!
Aeson:  (fades into view, flying downward, dragging the wizard with

  Even as Skektek was pulled down to his fate, however, he was still
fighting.  As Aeson landed, wizard in tow, Skektek twisted his body
around (despite the pain) and drew forth his wand of lightning from
his robes, ramming it into the dao's open mouth.

Aeson:  (his eyes widen as Skektek utters a single command word)
Skektek:  Zippo.

  None of those present had ever seen a dao explode - in fact, only
a few of them had ever see _anybody_ explode - but the blast was
tremendous.  Strange, earthy blood showered the buildings and
street, and there was a sharp, acrid smell of burned flesh and

Ug:  (looking around dourly)  No more Aeson.

  The blast had taken care of Skektek, too - the skinny wizard was
unconscious and bleeding from the nose and ears.

Ug:  (picks the wizard up, easily, as Omak and the others come out
  of the guardhouse)
Omak:  (quickly sees what happened)  Aeson's done for?
Ug:  (nods, frowning)  Shall I crush this wizard's body into pulp?
Omak:  (shakes his head)  Not yet.  Make sure he doesn't have any more
  magic items, then break his hands.  We may have use for a hostage.
  Speaking of which...we need to get back in that guardhouse and find
  that knife-thrower.
Ug:  I will take care of it.  (he drops the comatose Skektek, hefts
  his gigantic battleaxe and heads into the guardhouse)
Canis:  (emerges)  Where's Aeson?
Omak:  He just got blasted to bits.
Canis:  Ach.
Ixlin:  What now?  We've taken out all the town guards.
Vybool:  And their token wizard.
Xylus:  Let's get to that castle and take care of business.
Grub:  And soon.  The Great Dark One demands bodies.
Wampa:  As do I.
Grub:  And souls.
Xylus:  (smiles thinly, thinking of the legendary sword Blackrazor)
Rykooda:  I'll go back up Ug.  We shouldn't be taking chances.
Omak:  Good point.
Klark:  Since when has Ug ever failed?
Omak:  Another good point.

  A short time later, as a growing crowd gathered to watch and
cringe, Ug emerged from the guardhouse.

Ug:  He's gone.
Omak:  What?!?
Ug:  Gone.  I broke down that door, and the hallway led to a room,
  whose door I also broke down.  (he shakes his head)  The window
  in that room was open.
Omak:  So the knife-thrower got away...probably went up to the
  castle to warn someone there.  (he frowns)  But who?
Canis:  We should get up
Omak:  Yes.
Wampa:  (begins shifting into his tiger form)  I'll chase that
  knife-thrower down...(he growls)
Omak:  (nods)  We have one hostage - we don't need another.  Happy
Wampa:  (bounds away)
Ug:  Are we going up to that castle now?
Omak:  Yes.  I'd hoped to take over the town and do this another
  way, but things have gotten a little out of hand.  We'll just
  wait for Belphanior and crew in their own castle.  (he eyes the
  unconscious form of Spektek)  And with hostages.

  With that, the warrior led his band away...toward the uphill road
that wound through the woods toward the dark castle.

  Meanwhile, high on that very road, Razor Charlie dashed up the
path.  He sprinted, yet was barely breathing heavily, for he was
in excellent shape.  His singular goal now was to warn Victoria
about what was going on, if nothing else so she'd be prepared for
anything these new foes tried.  They seemed like a competent lot,
and Charlie found himself wishing he'd been able to kill one or
two of them before he'd had to flee.
  As he ran, the warrior heard a distant sound - but one that was
definitely getting nearer.  Something big was coming up the path
toward him.  Looking uphill, Charlie could make out the castle
ahead, and he sped up.  He didn't know what was behind him, but
he figured he could make it to the castle before his pursuer
caught up.
  He was wrong.  Even as he reached the castle's main gate and
charged through, a huge form bounded from the woods in front of
the castle.  From where Razor Charlie stood, it looked like a

tiger:  (leaps)  Graaar!
Razor Charlie:  (grunts, pulling down the portcullis with all his
tiger:  (slams into the gate right before it fully lowers, getting
  a paw and shoulder underneath)  Graaar!
Razor Charlie:  (backs up a step, whips out two knives, and hurls
  them at the huge animal's face)
weretiger:  (hit in the neck and jaw, it roars in pain, but continues
  clawing and trying to nudge the gate up)
Razor Charlie:  (pulls out one of his magical knives, darts forth,
  and rams the blade into one of the animal's eyes)
weretiger:  GRAAAARGH!  (its eye explodes in a burst of blood and
  goo)  RAARGH!

  The risky ploy worked; the tiger backed away, and Charlie was able
to slam a thick steel bar into place, securing the portcullis.

Razor Charlie:  (eyes the infuriated tiger one last time, then heads
  to the big, steel-banded wooden front door of the castle, opens
  it, and disappears within)
tiger:  Grrrr...(it charges, slamming into the portcullis, shaking
  it but not breaking it)  Rrrr...(it backs up, then slinks away)

  Soon, inside the castle...

Victoria:  Good thing you were one of the people that the gate opens
  for.  Belphanior's magic is strong indeed.
Razor Charlie:  (nods)  These people are good, and dangerous.  We
  must be ready.
Daphne:  (she and Phoebe watch in fear)
Victoria:  Don't worry, girls.  Nothing's going to happen to you.
Razor Charlie:  (eyeing the servant girls)  Where can they be safe?
Victoria:  There's a secret room in the basement, a larder of sorts.
  (she begins walking briskly)  Daphne, Phoebe - come with me.
Razor Charlie:  What about me?
Victoria:  You're going to stay and fight.
Razor Charlie:  I knew that.  I mean, what can I do _now_?
Victoria:  Stay with Angus.  However they get into the castle, he
  will attack them.  I'll be back shortly.

  The vampiress almost flew, such was her walking speed; she
practically dragged the servant girls down the stairs and through
the corridors.

Victoria:  (ushers them into a larder, then leans against a heavy
  shelf full of supplies)  Ungh.  (she slowly slides it aside)  In
  here, quickly!
Daphne & Phoebe:  (comply)
Victoria:  (opens a small chest, exposing an enchanted stone which
  bathes the room in dim, gentle light)  This will provide light
  for you, and there are blankets, food, and water in that larger
  chest there.  Stay here until one of us comes for you.
Daphne:  (nods, frightened, as does her sister)
Victoria:  (gazes sternly at them, her eyes glowing red)  Remain
  calm, and do not be afraid.
Daphne & Phoebe:  (looking dazed, they nod)
Victoria:  (pushes the heavy shelf back into place, then wipes away
  the dust-marks on the floor, so that no one will figure out that
  the shelf conceals a passageway)  Ah.  (she dashes back upstairs)

  Razor Charlie had been sitting there, readying his knives.  Like
the guardhouse, this castle contained a supply of extra blades, and
the knife-thrower took this opportunity to replenish his weaponry.
He also stashed more blades in arm- and leg-sheaths, some hidden
from view.  He didn't intend to go down without one hell of a fight.

Victoria:  (reappears, just like that)  Here.
Razor Charlie:  (startled despite himself)
Victoria:  (hands him a potion)  This is a potion of speed.  It will
  greatly aid you in this coming battle; I'd suggest drinking it as
  close to the fight as possible.
Razor Charlie:  Thanks.
Victoria:  (stares at him)  You don't like me very much, do you?
Razor Charlie:  I can't say that I do, but that's not really
  important right now.
Victoria:  No, it isn't.  (she looks around)  I'd rather not make
  this room a battlefield, though.  We should pick a better site
  for an ambush.

  Before they could get moving, though, the castle's front door
exploded inward.

Ug:  (steps into the castle)  Greetings.
Victoria:  He looks just like Ys!
Razor Charlie:  No, I think he's even bigger.  (he guzzles the potion
  Victoria gave him)
Ug:  (begins walking toward them, deliberately)
Vybool:  (enters, flanking the big reptilian, a sword held in each
Victoria:  (draws her own sword)  No need to play my trump card just
Razor Charlie:  Hmph.  (he hurls two knives at Ug, but they inflict
  minimal damage to the thick-skinned reptilian)
Ug:  Ugh.
Razor Charlie:  (moving even faster than normal thanks to the potion,
  he throws two more knives, hitting Vybool in the arm and Ug in the

  The warrior's aim was true, and his attack fast, but the other
foes were now pouring into the castle, and he didn't have enough
knives - or arms - to deal with all of them.  Fortunately, Angus
was there, and ready to help out.

Angus:  (lumbers toward the intruders)
Klark:  (having had his spell ready, he turns the rock beneath the
  huge golem into mud)
Angus:  (sinks into the floor wordlessly)  <sploosh>
Klark:  So much for that.
Razor Charlie:  Uh-oh.
Canis:  (walks around Klark and fires his crossbow, the bolt sinking
  deep into Charlie's leg)
Razor Charlie:  Argh!  (he throws a knife at the tracker, but misses)
  Damn...(slowed down considerably, he hobbles about, grimacing)
Ixlin:  (casts a spell, dropping a veil of scintillating colors
  over the knife-thrower)
Razor Charlie:  Dammit...
Wampa:  GrrRRRRR...(he assumes his tiger form and leaps, ramming
  into Razor Charlie and overpowering him to the ground)
Razor Charlie:  (holding one of his throwing knives, he launches
  a lightning-fast series of stabs at the weretiger's face and neck)
Wampa:  (enraged, he claws and bites at the warrior)


Victoria:  (crosses swords with Vybool, the ogre mage's twin blades
  bearing down on her at every turn)
Vybool:  You're a pretty one...I might even let you live, so you can
  amuse me.
Victoria:  You couldn't keep up.
Vybool:  We'll see.
Victoria:  (speeds up the pace of her attacks)  We certainly will.

  Both combatants had taken several minor hits, and Victoria's speed
and skill were nearly balanced by Vybool's strength and size.  The
ogre mage was in for a nasty surprise, though.  After one of his
blades missed, and another was parried, his slender foe stabbed him
in the armpit with her own blade.  The resulting wound was deep and
painful, but even as the big humanoid reeled and tried to defend
himself, his opponent was on the move again.

Victoria:  (leaps toward the tall, obese form that is Grub, the
  priest of Tharizdun)
Grub:  (his eyes widen)  She's a-
Victoria:  (grabs his face with her hand, causing the priest to
  begin quivering, a sight which under any other circumstances
  might be amusing)
Grub:  (loses some life-force)
Victoria:  (sheaths her sword, and leaps again - right at Rykooda,
  who is obviously a wizard of some kind)
Rykooda:  (his superior reflexes snap him into a fighting stance,
  iron-hard hands ready to inflict deadly damage)

  However, Victoria didn't need to out-fight the man; she only had
to touch him, and touch him she did, grabbing his head in both hands.

Rykooda:  (his eyes glaze over)

  Rather than deal with the warrior/wizard right there, Victoria took
him and split, leaping over the other foes to the top of a staircase.
In a flash, she - and poor Rykooda - were gone.

Omak:  (flabbergasted)  That was no normal warrior-woman.
Canis:  No shit.
Ixlin:  I think we can write Rykooda off.
Kenso Adon:  A sensible conclusion.
Klark:  What is she going to _do_ with him?
Grub:  Kill him, most likely.  That woman was a vampire...and now
  that I know that, I'll be ready for her.
Omak:  (nods)  Actually, you need to do better than that - I want you
  to find her.  Soon.  Can you do that?
Grub:  (rubs his fat chins, then smiles)  Yes.
Wampa:  (sitting atop the bleeding and now-unconscious Razor Charlie,
  he prepares to sink his teeth into the man's skull, as one would
  bite a ripe baby tomato)
Omak:  No.
Wampa:  Grr?  (he turns)
Omak:  I've decided we may need multiple hostages after all.
Wampa:  (angrily)  Grr...
Omak:  Get off of him.
Canis:  (looking around)  This is a big castle.  It'll take a while
  to search.
Xylus:  (ready to start searching now)
Omak:  (to Canis)  No matter.  We'll search every inch of this place,
  and we'll find that vampire bitch and any other of the elf's minions
  who are still about.
Ug:  And smash them.

next:      the City of the Gods finale
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     Well, next episode will see the Belphanior contingent
  wrap up affairs in the City of the Gods...and then, that party
  and this one will meet...


results of the reader survey and partial comparison to the last one:

1998 survey                                1994 survey
contained in episode 543                   contained in episode 226
200 respondents                            206 respondents
399 people on the mailing list             no mailing list yet
average respondent age:  25.34 years       ??? years
geographical breakdown of respondents:
   18  Australia/NZ
    1  Brazil
   13  Canada
    1  Croatia
    2  Denmark
   18  England/UK
   19  Finland
    2  France
    2  Germany
    1  Greece
    1  Hong Kong
    1  Hungary
    1  Israel
    3  Netherlands
    2  Norway
    2  Poland
    2  Russia
    2  Scotland
    2  Singapore
    1  Sint Maarten Island
    2  South Africa
    1  Spain
    3  Sweden
  100  USA
  200  (total)
favorite Adventurer:

399 people on the mailing list             n

   81  Belphanior                          67 (out of 206)
   45  Peldor                              64 (out of 206)
   23  Alindyar                            15 (out of 206)
   15  Mongo                               19.5 (out of 206)
    9  Ged
    6  Otto
    5  Ys
    3  Bosco
    3  Lyra
    3  wispy thing
    2  Rob
    1  Halbarad
    1  Peyote
    1  Rillen
    2  invalid or no answer
favorite supporting character:
   52  Cynder
   10  Yod Ironbeard
    9  Whisper/Wendell
    9  Orcus
    5  Victoria
    5  Eduardo
    3  Ys
    3  Lord Marcus of Greyspire
    1  (about 30 supporting characters got one vote apiece)
   73  invalid or no answer
favorite type of story:
   84  intrigue
   38  dungeoncrawl
   13  battle
   34  any/all/combination
   31  other/no answer
reading since episode 1 was released in 1991?
   24  yes
  176  no

  General observations on the other questions:  it seems that a lot
of people would indeed mind if I stopped writing the Adventurers,
no matter what I produced in its stead.  A number of others said that
they wouldn't mind as long as I was doing something equally readable.
Some said that I should take a break (or stop for good) if I was
burned out.  I like the pause idea better - I could write something
else for a while.  Don't know, I need to get to 600 first.
  As far as a discussion list, a lot of you said you'd participate,
though many of those worried that there'd be a low signal-to-noise
ratio.  I'm still kicking this idea around.
  About 80 of 200 respondents use one or another of the three web-
based archives.  The general gist of what I got from the other 120
was that they used to use web or ftp sites, until they got on the
mailing list.  And a lot of people seem to use them occasionally, as
needed, but not regularly.

  Belphanior was still the most popular, though his lead over Peldor
increased substantially.  I credit this to Peldor's settling down
in the last few hundred episodes.

  Final note:  the 1994 survey garnered 206 responses, while this
one only got 200.  Considering that I have more readers now, that's
kind of sad.

  And that wraps up this survey.  Thanks for responding, all of you
who did.  If I ever do another, it will be in the new millennium.

previous chapter (#547)                                                                  next chapter (#549)