Chapter #608

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess                      +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Date:           1/7/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the Vesve Forest                                      +
+   Climate:        surprisingly warm                                     +
+   "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing            +
+    a thing as wanting."                                                 +
+                                         - Mr. Spock, from _Amok Time_   +

                       DCVIII.  Druidic Cycle

  Peyote's life for the last year could have best been described as the
calm before a storm.  On the surface, things were well.  The Vesve was
rich and prosperous, the growing evil having been eliminated years ago.
That ancient Suel city, with its secrets and treasures, had been purged
of whatever evil resided there.  Currently, the place was completely
overgrown by particularly aggressive weeds and roots, and _nothing_ got
near it without the upper hierarchy of the druids knowing it.
  Peyote and Daffodil were happy.  Every aspect of their life was as they
desired it:  they lived in harmony with nature, they communed with it,
they kept it running smoothly, so to speak.  Peyote had great power and
responsibility, not to mention a woman who was as close to the ideal mate
as he ever could have hoped for.  He was even thinking about trying to
make a power play, to ascend to the next rank among the Druids.
  Although he would never challenge his friend and mentor, the elderly
Confernicus, in the ritual combat of the Druids, Peyote knew that that
was the only way for him to rise in ranking.  This was somewhat of a
conundrum; the fact of the matter was that if Peyote didn't make that
challenge, some other aspiring Druid would.  Confernicus was old, and
would probably be beaten by an aggressive, younger druid.  The old man
had held his same position for a long time, it had been luck as much as
anything else that nobody had been ready to challenge him for the title
of Archdruid.  Even now, Peyote and Daffodil were engaged in conversation
about this very subject...

Peyote: I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't.
Daffodil:  If you don't challenge him, someone else will.  Then they'll
  win, and rise, and you won't.
Peyote:  I know, I know.  (sighs)  This is bogus.
Daffodil:  (grins)  Of course, _I_ could always challenge you, and then
  work my own way up...
Peyote:  No, don't do that.  It'd be most ill.
Daffodil:  (shaking her head)  Actually, I like where I am right now.
Peyote:  Heh.
Daffodil:  Of course, someone else might come along and try for your
Peyote:  Let 'em come, I can handle it.  (he frowns)  Actually, I'm not
  so sure I _want_ to be an Archdruid.
Daffodil:  Oh?
Peyote:  (nods)  I mean, it's less travel - I like travel, you know - and
  more politics.  I don't want to get old and wrinkly like Confernicus,
  sitting around being an Archdruid.
Daffodil:  Hmm.
Peyote:  Plus, then I'd have to think about someday challenging your pops,
  and I want that even less than I want to fight Confernicus.
Daffodil:  What to do, then?
Peyote:  (holds up his hands)  I don't really know.  Hell, the way things
  are right now, the last thing we need is a shakeup in the ranks.
Daffodil:  (nods)

  Peyote was referring to some problems that were stirring in some other
regions, debates and arguments about how best to maintain and expand the
power of Obad-Hai in the world.  Due to its location in the relatively
peaceful western regions, the Vesve region hadn't been subject to many
problems and frictions having to do with conflicting kingdoms.  However,
other areas were more sensitive to the affairs of the non-Druidic world.
For example, those forests closer to places like Aerdy and the domain of
Iuz were more concerned about the presence of evil - they had to be.
  Some amongst Obad-Hai's ranks were clamoring for more interference in
matters historically left alone by the Druids.  These upstarts, as they
were being called by the older and more traditional Druids, were causing
dissension in the overall scheme of Obad-Hai's followers.

Peyote:  It's funny...ten years ago, I would have been an upstart myself.
Daffodil:  In your own way, you are.
Peyote:  Yeah, but seriously...what happens when these guys start getting
  ranked...achieving true Druid status...gaining real power?
Daffodil:  My father would never let that happen.
Peyote:  That may be, but your father is a busy man, and he can't be
  everywhere at once.
Daffodil:  True.
Peyote:  To make things worse, word has it that I'm about to get challenged
  for _my_ position!
Daffodil:  Another title defense, eh?  Well, you'd better win like you won
  against me.  (she smiles)
Peyote:  Err...right.
Daffodil:  Who's supposed to be coming to challenge you?  Mertron, perhaps?
  Or Lorvar?  They're both about ready for the next rank.
Peyote:  (frowns)  Nope.  It's gonna be Tolvek.
Daffodil:  Uh-oh.

  The young Tolvek was famous (or infamous, depending on one's point of
view) among the ranks of Obad-Hai.  A fiery, opinionated druid of great
size and strength, he had risen through the ranks faster than anyone in
Obad-Hai's service.  On top of that, he was one of the prime members of
the upstart faction.

Daffodil:  Tolvek?  Are you sure about this?
Peyote:  Pretty sure.
Daffodil:  You realize that he represents the upstarts, and a victory over
  you would have more significance than just for Tolvek personally?
Peyote:  I've been thinking about this constantly, for the last couple of
Daffodil:  Ah.  I knew something was wrong.
Peyote:  More than just something, if Tolvek challenges me.  They say he's
  got the strength of a bear, the speed of a hawk, and the stamina of an
Daffodil:  Those are just figurative terms.
Peyote:  Still, fighting him will be one hell of a task.  They say he's a
  fierce fighter, with weapons or barehanded.
Daffodil:  You'd better start training.

  It happened more quickly than either of them had expected, becoming
official when Tolvek and his retinue arrived that night.  The younger
druid wasted no time issuing his challenge...

Tolvek:  ...and as such, I hereby challenge you for the rank of Druid, in
  this region of Obad-Hai's domain.
Peyote:  Are you sure?
Tolvek:  (laughs mockingly)  Surely you jest.  I have grown tired of
  watching the old and feeble rule the roost.  Obad-Hai's directives
  can be best carried out by those who see the true way.
Peyote:  Your way?
Tolvek:  The right way.  We should be taking more of a hand in worldly
  affairs...directing the course of things, not watching and waiting.
  (he shakes a fist in the air)  We must act, not react!
Peyote:  Some general probably once said something like that, before he
  led a thousand troops into battle against what turned out to be ten
  times that many.
Tolvek:  Save your prattling for those who will listen.  I have issued
  the challenge.  (he rests his hands on his hips)

  The young druid truly was an impressive figure, standing several inches
over six feet with broad shoulders and a deep chest.  He appeared to be
quick on his feet, not to mention aggressive.  He had a certain quality,
some spark that allowed him to inspire and lead those who might not know
any better.  Peyote could see how Tolvek had become the figurehead of the
druidic upstarts.

Tolvek:  Today's Druids are still required to accept challenges, yes?
Peyote:  (sighs)  Yes.  Your challenge is accepted.
Tolvek:  Good.  (he turns on his heel and marches away)  I'm looking
  forward to it.


Daffodil:  That guy's a real jackass.
Peyote:  Do you think your father will come here and give me a speech
  about how important this contest is to the traditionalists?
Daffodil:  I doubt he'll show up.  He'll know that you know, though.
Peyote:  No cheerleaders for me...
Daffodil:  I thought you said you'd given that up.
Peyote:  Oh, yeah.
Daffodil:  How long are you granting him before the fight?
Peyote:  A week.  He's all ready to go at it right away, so I'll make him
  wait and stew.  (he grins)  It's good to be the king.

next:      skeleton in the closet
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
released:  1/27/2000
notes:     Now we can add Peyote's subplot to the list:

    Nenya/Deryck        Temple of Elemental Evil or Suel museum troubles
    Alindyar/Lyra       seek out the Lord of Illusions
    Belphanior et al    destroy three different old enemies    \
    Mongo               Lost Tomb of Panagaea                  /
    Peyote              deal with Tolvek and the upstarts

  Who's left?  Rillen and Songa.  Gorin, in Greyspire.  Arnold, wherever
he is.  Those plotlines are forthcoming, so stay tuned.

    Updated survey count:   428, up from 413 last time.  And there are
  534 members on the Adventurers list, which by the way was created on

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