Chapter #56

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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.
*****

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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)
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Date:   12/30/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   early morning
Place:  somewhere in the Azure Sea, close to the coast
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                  LVI.  From Sea to Land



  The "sea" group has anchored their ship close to an unknown
shore and sent an expedition to land using Belphanior's magic
boat.  This band consisted of Mongo and Belphanior, and about
a dozen of the (ex) slaves.  The others stayed aboard ship to
repair the various minor damages incurred during the last few
days.

Mongo:  (jumps out of the boat as it hits the sand)  Land ho!
Belphanior:  (looking around)  I wonder where the greeting
  party is?
Mongo:  Dunno.  (to slaves/rowers)  You guys help me pull this
  sucker ashore.  (they do, and beach it above the waterline)
Belphanior:  I would guess that we've not yet reached the
  Pomarj.
Mongo:  That's no big deal.  We're shooting for a big river or
  something, right?
Belphanior:  I think so.  We'll know if we went too far, since
  the Pomarj and its vermin are on the eastern side of that
  river.  Ged would know more about this...
Mongo:  I wonder how they're doing with fixing up the ship?

on board...

Ged:  (to Rillen)  Watch closely, here.  (holds up a sail)  This
  is how you sew one of these back together.
Rillen:  (popping his knuckles)
Ged:  See, you use a lot of thread, since heavy winds can pull
  a weak sail apart in seconds...Hey!
Rillen:  Eh?  What is it?
Ged:  Ahhh...you really don't care about this, do you?
Rillen:  Not really.  I want to move on, to find more adventure
  out in the world.  When will we get moving again?
Ged:  As soon as I fix this damned sail, that's when.  Here, hold
  it while I tie it back together.
Rillen:  (still bored)

on shore...

Belphanior:  I think we've got a bit further to go.  Let's hunt
  for food while they make repairs.
Mongo:  Okay.  You, men, eight of you guard the boat.  The other
  four come with us.
rowers:  (obeying)  Sure.
Belphanior:  Wait.  This is a _magical_ boat.  I can fold it up
  and take it with me.  (does so)
Mongo:  Oh, yeah.  Well, you eight stay here and keep sight of
  the ship.
rowers:  Okay.
Mongo:  (to Belphanior)  What's wrong with your eyes?
Belphanior:  (his eyes are still glowing red, ever since that
  battle with the giant squid)  Huh?  Oh, nothing.  I drank a
  potion and they started glowing red.  I don't care about it.
  In fact, I like it.  It seems to terrify people...
Mongo:  Uh, okay.  Right.

soon...

Belphanior:  (leading them through short, scrubby grasslands)
  What's this, here?  (kicks a short tree with odd fruit)
Mongo:  Looks like fruit to me, pal.
Belphanior:  We'd better get some for Ged.  He likes this kind
  of food.  (the rowers hasten to gather some fruit)  Then again,
  it will be a real treat after days of rations and water...
Mongo:  (looking around)  This place is dead.  Let's get back to
  the ship and share the fruit with everyone.
Belphanior:  I agree - we don't want to get too far from shore.
  (they set about returning)

later that day...

Ged:  Nothing?!
Mongo:  Nothing.  This shore is wasted.
Rillen:  Well, there is that pile of green melons that they got
  on shore.
Belphanior:  Let's sail on further, and get to that river.
Rillen:  River?
Ged:  Okay, okay.  It should be about another five days' until
  we get there.  I wouldn't recommend trying to sail _up_ into
  the continent, against the water's flow.  We'll sell the ship
  and let these men go about their way, and go by land for a bit.
Mongo:  Sounds like a plan.
Rillen:  (chomping on a melon)  Mmglph.

  They finished the minor repairs later that day, and after a
rest and a meal, they set out again.  The fact that the new year
rolled around was not lost on Ged, who was often watching the
stars in the sky, and Mongo suggested a toast to the new year.
Feeling generous, the party let their rowers share the wine,
with the end result being that they ran out of liquor.  Mongo
wasn't too happy about this, but managed to get by.  For five
days, they moved parallel to the coast, observing the shore as
they went.  A few small towns were passed, and here and there
fishermen were out and about, trying to make a living.  A few
times, they stopped and tried to fish, with decent success...

Belphanior:  I got one!  I got one!  (reels in a large fish)
Mongo:  All RIGHT!  We'll eat like kings tonight!  Gimme that
  fish!  Get the cooking pots out!
Rillen:  (grabs the fish)  Yie!  That is one slippery little
  fish.  Here.  (hands it to Mongo)
Mongo:  Mmm.  I can smell it already.  Fried fish!
Belphanior:  Yea...I'll see if I can't get some more.
Ged:  Hey, look.  I got a funny crab-like thing!
Mongo:  I'll take that, too.  Crab legs...
Ged:  Cook this food well, then.  Don't put strange spices or
  anything in it.
Mongo:  Trust me, guys.
Rillen:  It all smells fishy to me.

  And so they ate well that night and the next.  Eventually,
they reached the mouth of the Jewel River, but not before
being menaced by a galley full of orcs.  Fortunately, Ged's
skill at sailing enabled the party to outrun this fearsome
menace.  He kept their ship from staying directly in front
of the orcs' vessel, so as not to allow them to steal some
of the party's wind.  The delay was long enough for Belphanior
to prepare his spells and items, and he liberally pounded the
orcs with magic until they fled.  The party reached the river
the next day, and managed to get a fair sum for their ship at
the port town they docked at.  They bid farewell to those men
who they had bought as slaves in the Sea Princes' land but
who were now free men.  The horses were brought up from below
shortly, and the party set out to the north.
  They planned to follow the Jewel River northward for many
leagues, including that portion of it which wound into the
dreaded Suss Forest.  There was one section of river which
was best avoided, a loop that bent toward the Pomarj land to
the east.  They rode alongside the river, on the Ulek bank,
for a day; it was then, near the aforementioned loop of river
nearest to the Pomarj, that trouble reared its ugly head.

Mongo:  Hey, I smell orcs.
Rillen:  Not a difficult thing to do.
Ged:  Where?  Where?
Belphanior:  There.  (points to various orcs that have risen
  from the grass around the party)  And there.  And there...
  (draws his sword)
Mongo:  Sheesh.  They're popping up like weeds!  (grabs his
  hammer)
Ged:  (addressing the orcs)  What do you slime want?
orc chieftain:  I are Gordo, of the Broken Foot tribe.  We is
  here to take tole from all who come by.
Rillen:  (slowly whirling his staff)  Toll?
orcs:  (yelling)  Tole!  Tole!  Tole!  (there are about two
  dozen of them)
orc chieftain:  Pay up!  Or we get you with da spears!
orcs:  Yah!  (hefting spears)
Mongo:  Bah!  We pay toll to no one, especially not a bunch
  of dirty orcs!  (hurls hammer at the chieftain)  Take THAT!
orc chieftain:  (hit in the face by the hammer, his head is
  torn off and rolls around on the ground behind him)
Rillen:  You really knocked his block off.  (dismounts, as
  do Mongo and Belphanior)
Mongo:  (grumbling)  I hate fighting from horseback.
other orcs:  Aaaaa!  Da dwarf got Gordo!  Kill dem!  (they
  all start throwing spears at the party)
Belphanior:  (grazed by one, spell ruined)  Great.  Now you've
  done it.  (draws his sword)
Ged:  Hah.  (the spears are curving away from him thanks to his
  magical belt)  Boccob's might shield's me from all harm.
  (begins spellcasting)
Mongo:  (a spear bounces off of his armor)  Ouch.  (catches
  hammer)
Rillen:  (dodging spears, charges into battle)  You pig-men
  should have left while you had the chance.
Belphanior:  (slashes an orc, killing it)  Death!  Death!
Mongo:  (bashes an onrushing orc, dropping it)  Away, orcish
  shitheads!  (to Ged)  Boy, Halbarad would love this!
Ged:  Quiet, now.  (casts a Stinking Cloud at a mass of orcs)
orcs:  (many don't make their saves)  Kaff!  Gack!  PHEW!
Ged:  Hah!  Boccob really showed them!  Look, they're too
  stupid to leave the cloud!
Rillen:  Phew.  That cloud of yours smells worse than the orcs
  do.  (smashes an orc, knocking it aside)
Belphanior:  (chops another orc, slaying it)  Hah!
orc:  I'll get him!  I'll get him!  (hurls a spear at Ged)
Ged:  (faces the orc as the weapon veers away)  You!
orc:  (looking around fearfully)  Me?
Ged:  (points at orc)  Flee or die!
orc:  Aaaaaa!  (runs away at full tilt)
other orcs:  Look!  Beezus ran away!
Mongo:  (slams another orc, crushing its chest)  There sure
  are a lot of these bastards!
orcs:  (check morale, fail)  Aaaa!  We is lost!  Run!  (they
  begin an unorganized retreat into the river)  Aaa!
Belphanior:  (cheerfully chopping down stragglers)  Heh heh.

  Soon, most of the orcs had fled across the river and back
into their own land.  All others were now dead.  The party
rested and bound their (minor) wounds, and then rode on at
a faster pace, in case the orcs returned with, say, a few
hundred friends.  No such danger manifested itself, though,
and they were unbothered for another whole day.  At dusk of
the second day on land, they came upon the Suss Forest's
edge.  The dark, gnarled trees looked menacing and evil in
the dim light.

Rillen:  Is it wise to go in THERE?  I mean, at nightfall?
Belphanior:  Sure!  Let's do it.
Ged:  Good point.  Maybe we'll camp a bit away from the edge
  of the place and continue on the morrow.
Belphanior:  Hmm.
Mongo:  Whatever.  Let's eat.

  There was an attack on the camp that night, from a band of
eight goblins riding large wolves.  The party's spells helped
them fend off this threat, though Rillen and his staff were
the big hero of the battle - the warrior slew three goblins
and two worgs while only taking two hits himself.  Mongo was
quite impressed, comparing Rillen's skill on a bad day to
Halbarad's or Peyote's on a good day.
  The next day, they entered the forest.  After riding all
day, including a skirmish with four large spiders, the party
realized two things.  First, they had somehow become lost -
they were off the crude path they had been following.  Second,
there were no sounds or living things around them, not even
insects.  They continued, somewhat wary of these new facts.

Rillen:  I do not like this.  Too quiet.
Ged:  Me neither.  Something's up.
Belphanior:  Shh!  Do you hear that?
Mongo:  What?  (hefts his weapon)

  Suddenly, a horde of skeletons swarmed over the party,
appearing from nowhere!  Their bony talons and grinning,
sunken countenances might spell doom for the adventurers...

Ged:  Aaaa!  (grabs his holy symbol and holds it high)  Back!
  Stay back!  By the holy power of Boccob, I banish you to
  somewhere else!
Mongo:  (watches eleven of the things retreat)  Wow!  That's
  some power, there!  (smashes a skeleton into splinters)
Rillen:  Yes.  (bashes one with his staff, crushing it as
  well)  It is easier to break the bones when that's all
  there is.
Mongo:  That's for sure.  (takes a hit)  Agh!
Belphanior:  (gulps down a potion of undead control)  Ahh.
Ged:  (sidesteps a skeletal attack)  Hey!  What's that you're
  drinking?
Belphanior:  Undead command.  (to skeletons)  Stop fighting.
skeletons:  (all twelve who are left stop)
Belphanior:  Good.  Now go that way (points south) and kill
  any goblins you find.
skeletons:  (wander southward)
Belphanior:  That should occupy them for a while.  (grabs one
  skeleton)  You.  Stay with us, and lead us to where you
  came here from.
skeleton:  (begins marching deeper into the forest)
Ged:  This is...not good.  But it's better than fighting them.
Rillen:  What is going on _now_?
Mongo:  We're following a skeleton into the woods.
Rillen:  Oh.

  The thing led them for four hours, through what looked like
absolutely impassable woods.  It seemed to find trails where
there didn't seem to be any.  After a long and unusual time
marching through this tangled area of the forest, the party
was at a square hole in the ground, with stairs going down.
The opening was almost covered by underbrush, and it was
surprising indeed to see the mindless skeleton push the
vines and weeds aside without damaging them...

Mongo:  (peering down the stairs)  Hey.  Hey!  Something's
  coming!  (backs up)
Belphanior:  (moves around Mongo)  Let me see.  Eyah!  It's
  a shadow monster!  Undead, maybe!
Ged:  (digs for his holy symbol)  Out of the way!

Wraith:  (floats up the staircase)  Ooooooooo!
Rillen:  Whatever it is, it sounds surprised to see us.
Ged:  (steps forth, brandishing the holy symbol)  Go away!
  Return to hell, formless spawn of the nether regions!
Wraith:  (disappears)
Ged:  Boccob!  My turning powers are greater than ever!
Mongo:  Yep.  Good stuff there.
Belphanior:  Let's check this place out.

  They descended into the stairway, which led into a room
about thirty feet in diameter and semicircular.  A single
exit led out, apparently, and the chamber was filled with
rubble and strange debris.  It seemed that the top of the
stairway had actually been a roof, and had collapsed in
recently.  The stone and architecture here seemed quite
unusual.

Mongo:  I've never seen stonework like this.
Ged:  What do you mean?
Mongo:  It seems, more than anything else, _old_.
Rillen:  There are a lot of shadows in here...
Belphanior:  Yeah.  Hey, some of them are moving!

  Without warning, two more wraiths had appeared from the
shadows and were approaching the party!





next time:  the lost city

FTP SITE: tybalt.caltech.edu (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
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NOTES:  Belphanior didn't know until later that he could have
controlled the skeletons virtually forever with that potion.  He
vowed not to waste another such potion again.
  Where has the party gotten itself into now, you may ask?  We'll
just have to wait and see...
  The Braves just beat the Reds in the 9th inning; awesome game!!
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