Chapter #584

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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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Peyote       12th/12th level half-elven warrior/druid        (N) +
+    Daffodil   11th level human female druidess                (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        7/1/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       the depths of the Vesve Forest                      +
+  Climate:     extremely pleasant                                  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "You're crazy!"                                                  +
+  "No, I am simply...aware."                                       +
+           - from the original Star Trek episode _Spock's Brain_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                DLXXXIV.  Proper Prior Planning





  Peyote has revealed previously unknown facts about an ancient
lich accidentally freed by Ged and others, and the half-elf is
now a man with a mission.

Peyote:  ...your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to
  find this lich, this Xusia dude, and put an end to him.
Daffodil:  (enters the chamber)  Who are you talking to?
Peyote:  Uh, nobody.  (he grins)  Just practicing.
Daffodil:  Maybe you should spend less time rehearsing what you'll
  say and more time figuring out who you'll say it _to_.
Peyote:  I'm working on it, man, so lay off.
Daffodil:  Just some constructive criticism.  It looks to me like
  you're having trouble finding anyone to do this for you.
Peyote:  It's tough, man.  Of the original people present when the
  damned lich was first freed...Ged is gone, Nenya's too busy,
  Arnold and Mongo and Gorin aren't in Greyhawk anymore, and Bosco
  shows no interest.
Daffodil:  Bosco?
Peyote:  (waves his hand)  The least useful of the bunch, anyway -
  a cool little dude, but he's got no magical power, no spells.  We
  need spellcasters.
Daffodil:  What about those present for the more recent encounter,
  in the crypt within the Vesve?
Peyote:  Well...I was there, obviously.  Also Halbarad, who's good
  and who'd probably jump for this quest, though he doesn't cast
  spells.
Daffodil:  Plus he's a follower of Ehlonna, not our own Obad-Hai.
  It wouldn't be right to use our resources to recruit him.
Peyote:  Don't be so uptight.  We did it before.  Of course, it's
  not like we paid him or anything - it was kind of a mutual-good
  situation, if you know what I mean.  We help each other out
  sometimes, anyway.
Daffodil:  But anyway...who else?
Peyote:  Mongo and Gorin...both missing, as I said, and thus not
  available to help us.  We need spellcasters, and good ones...the
  drow, or Nenya, or someone like Ged.  Man, I wish we had him for
  this!  One Ged is worth a dozen regular wizards.
Daffodil:  Well, we don't.
Peyote:  True, and that's a damn shame.
Daffodil:  (thinking hard)  Didn't you once say that that Nenya
  woman has a bunch of ancient Suel artifacts, from the same buried
  Suel city that held Xusia?
Peyote:  True.  That's why I've been getting her help for the past
  few months, to piece this gnarly puzzle together.
Daffodil:  Oh.
Peyote:  It's tough when all communication has to be done magically
  and often indirectly.
Daffodil:  What we need is a series of magical looking-pools.
  They're what all the druids are using these days.
Peyote:  I know, but the people we need to talk to aren't druids.
Daffodil:  (smirks)  Their loss.  So, have you even learned the
  whereabouts of Xusia?
Peyote:  I've got several possibilities, but one seems more likely
  than the rest:  west of the Grand Duchy of Geoff and the Hornwood,
  within the much-dreaded Crystalmist Mountain range, something is
  not right.
Daffodil:  What exactly does that mean?
Peyote:  I'm not sure...my divinations haven't given me anything
  real good or real bad, just...oddly bogus.
Daffodil:  (frowns)  You think that's where the lich is, then?
Peyote:  It's a best-guess deal, though we don't have to tell anyone
  that.  Every great quest has false starts and dead ends.  We'll
  just have to see.
Daffodil:  Well, then, we're back to the basic problem:  who can
  help us with this, and how do we get them?
Peyote:  (scratching his head)  Methinks I should visit Greyhawk
  more often.  I really need to stay in touch with the old gang.
Daffodil:  That kind of thing tends to fall by the wayside when one
  rises to the rank of Druid.
Peyote:  (sadly)  I know.  Makes me wonder if similar things have
  happened to the others...Mongo, Peldor, Alindyar, even Rillen.
Daffodil:  From your tales, they all sound like interesting people.
  I'll have to meet them someday.
Peyote:  (shifting ideas around in his head again)  Hmm...I wonder
  how quickly I can get ahold of Halbarad.  At least that'd be a
  starting point.  Heck, maybe he has companions who can help out
  on this.
Daffodil:  How do you usually find him?
Peyote:  I don't find him, he finds me.  That's the problem with
  Halbarad - he's never in one place for long.  Last time he was
  around, he just happened to be in the area, and so he joined up
  with us.
Daffodil:  So he could be anywhere?
Peyote:  (grabs a mushroom from a nearby bowl and begins eating it)
  Yep.  I'll commune with Obad-Hai...see if I can figure out whether
  Halbarad's anywhere close to us.
Daffodil:  Good idea.  I'm going to grab some lunch.  Can I get you
  anything?
Peyote:  No, thanks.  (he goes into a trance)

  A while later, the half-elf strode from his stone hut, emerging
into the open area in the midst of his henge.  Mushrooms of all
types, shapes, and colors dotted the ground, some even growing on
the rock of the ancient stone slabs.  Short grass also grew in some
places here, but much of the henge was simple dirt.  Yet, that dirt
had mystical properties.  Some local druids held that this place
had, in eons past, been the site of some higher powers' visit to
the mortal world.  The tales held that the grass here had once been
burned in strange, circular ways.
  Whatever the case, things were different - if no less mystical -
these days.  No burnt grass grew from the earth here, only healthy
green stuff.  Even the weeds were useful, either as food or fodder
for the smoke-pipes.  The animals were out and about, too, and they
were peaceful as could be.  Birds chirped in happy song.  Insects
buzzed and flew about.  Squirrels darted about, playing their little
squirrel games.  Here, in Peyote's lair, all was bliss.

Peyote:  (chewing a mushroom dreamily)
Daffodil:  (walks over, a small red bird perched on her shoulder)
  You've got that look again...your communing was successful, then?
Peyote:  Right on.
Daffodil:  So...?
Peyote:  (grins widely)  So, what?
Daffodil:  So, what about your ranger friend?
Peyote:  Oh, him!  (he yawns)  No way, dude.  Halbarad's halfway
  across the world, hunting some renegade orc down.  We'll have to
  do without him.
Daffodil:  (throws her hands up)  Maybe you should just give up this
  idea.  We can't get away ourselves, and you don't know where anyone
  is, and you've got no way of finding them.
Peyote:  On the contrary...my quality time with the Shalm revealed
  unto me an idea I'd not thought of before.
Daffodil:  (waits, then fidgets, then stomps on his foot)  Well?!?
  Out with it!
Peyote:  It's one of my old adventuring companions, one I'd not even
  thought of before, one who's got the perfect attitude for something
  like this...Belphanior!
Daffodil:  The crazy elf you always talk about?!?  How can he help?
Peyote:  This is right up his alley!  He's powerful, he's talented,
  and his relentless pursuit of new, dangerous magicks make him the
  perfect candidate to find and destroy Xusia.  (he pumps his fist)
  YES!  (he frowns)  Now all I've gotta do it sell him on the idea...





next:      rather than go right to the recruitment, we drop in on
           our favorite drow
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
email:     tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     Thanks to Matt Hurd for some notions that saw light in
  this story.  Also...before anyone asks:  "the Shalm" is simply
  Greyhawk lingo, another name for Peyote's god, Obad-Hai.
    For reference purposes, the Suel lich Xusia (unnamed at the
  time) was freed way back in episodes 235-236.

    Announcement:  book 25 will consist of not only 551-575, but
  also 576-600.  That's right, 50 episodes for the 25th inch-
  thick printout of my stories.  Wow.  It is kind of amazing how
  much I've written.
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