Chapter #611

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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   +
+   Rillen          18th level human monk                                 +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+   Date:           1/17/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the timberlands just east of the Griff Mountains      +
+   Climate:        frigid                                                +
+   "It is too late to whet the sword when the trumpet sounds."           +
+                                                               - Aesop   +

                          DCXI.  Paradise Lost

  Unlike many of their friends, Rillen and Songa had lived in near-total
seclusion for the last year.  Their only companion had been the strange
little magical dog, summoned from a tiny stone figurine.  To transform the
statuette into the dog, Rillen had but to grasp the tiny bit of carven
stone and concentrate, and the dog appeared.  Thus far, he hadn't been
able to control when the dog shifted back to statuette form.  Rillen had
seen and heard enough of the world and its wonders to know that the dog-
figurine was a special and useful companion.  Songa hadn't been too fond
of the magical animal, until the day last summer when it found and killed
a venomous snake that was slinking around their cabin.  For its part, the
dog seemed happy just to be around people.
  Rillen had found that he didn't miss the outside world.  Oh, he still
liked to wander and have adventures - that would never leave him.  But
he was thinking more of settling down now, even more than before...ever
since the complications of Songa's failed childbirth, closely followed
by the arrival of their friend Peldor's own baby.  They had recovered
from that terrible time, as much as they could, at least.  For the past
year, they had been isolated and content, taking what they needed from
the land and asking for nothing more in return.
  It was a paradox, actually.  On one hand, Rillen wanted peace and quiet,
such as they now had in their remote cabin.  On the other hand, Rillen
felt that they needed to be part of a community and have other people
around to ease the boredom.

Songa:  Maybe a mix of isolated and small community of people
  who don't care for the follies of civilization?
Rillen:  It's possible.

  They were busy gutting a large deer that Songa had caught that morning.

Songa:  (removing the bloody, slippery entrails, she sets them aside in
  a steaming pile)  Such a place must certainly exist...somewhere.
Rillen:  (preparing to hang the carcass up by the head, to drain the
  blood out)  If not, maybe we could start it up.  I've always wanted
  to do something like that.

  Both of them were in excellent shape.  Physical activity, often quite
strenuous, was a regular part of their daily routine.  Rillen still
practiced his fighting arts - the steps, strikes, and such that made him
a dangerous hand-to-hand combatant.  However, he didn't exercise these
skills quite as regularly as he had in years past.  Ever since the last
great fighting tournament, where he'd emerged victorious after defeating
Bruce, Rillen hadn't felt that he had any more to prove.  On top of that,
he wasn't a young man anymore, and the stresses of intense competition
or practice sometimes left him with aches and pains.  As for Songa, it
hadn't taken her long to regain her supple, agile, powerful form after
the pregnancy.  She'd even adopted some of Rillen's stretching exercises
in order to work kinks from her muscles and joints.
  Yes, they had everything they needed, and for the most part, everything
they wanted.

  The deer was butchered before long.  Some of the meat was set aside for
cooking in the next couple of days, while the rest was strung up to dry
and cure.  The fur was saved for clothing, and the antlers for tool-making.
What couldn't be used was buried far from the cabin, where it wouldn't
attract varmints.
  It was Songa who spotted the thin column of smoke, shortly after they'd
eaten lunch.

Songa:  What's that?  (she shades her eyes with a hand, peering into the
Rillen:  Eh?

  From somewhere on the frozen grasslands below their forested mountain
home, someone had a fire going.

Rillen:  Barbarians, maybe?
Songa:  Maybe.  They sometimes hunt this far from their home.  If they're
  not Fruztii, though, we need to be careful.
Rillen:  You think they'd come up onto the mountain?
Songa:  It's possible.  We really can't know until we know who they are.
Rillen:  I'll go closer and scout this.
Songa:  No, let me.  I'm faster, and they're less likely to spot me.
Rillen:  But-
Songa:  I mean it.  Don't worry, I'll be back in a short while.  (grabbing
  a spear, she vanishes into the trees)
Rillen:  (sighs)

  Rillen knew, of course, that Songa was right - she would be able to do
the scouting faster and more safely than he.  He just didn't like to be
left out of the action.  After a few moments more, he went into the cabin
and readied their weapons...just in case.

  Songa was gone longer than Rillen had expected, but not long enough that
he'd started worrying.  Not until she started talking, anyway.

Songa:  Trouble.
Rillen:  How's that?
Songa:  It's a band of bugbears.  Maybe a dozen or so.
Rillen:  What are they up to?
Songa:  (sighs)  From what I saw, I'd guess it's a raiding party.  For now,
  they've made camp down there.  No telling whether they're headed anywhere
  near us.
Rillen:  Bugbears...

  Nestled as it was between the Griff Mountains and the Timberway forest,
their cabin was pretty far off the beaten trail.  Also, the kingdom of Ratik
lay to the south, meaning that humanoid war parties had to have come through
the Rakers and Griffs to get here.  Violent and warlike humanoids were common
in the Bone March, south of Ratik, but such were seldom seen in the barbarian

Songa: don't think they're planning some kind of invasion?
Rillen:  Anything's possible.  Whatever the case, I doubt that they're here
  on a leisure walk.
Songa:  Whatever the case, we had best prepare.
Rillen:  That depends on what we intend to do.
Songa:  We have choices?  I was just planning to kill them all if they came
  anywhere near here.
Rillen:  Well, we could head down there and kill them now, rather than wait.
  Or, we could set traps here, and see if they find our home.  Or, we could
  lead them away on purpose.
Songa:  Hmm, I see.
Rillen:  I agree, though:  unless they break camp and head back the way they
  came, they'll probably all have to die.
Songa:  Besides the threat to us, we have to think about any bigger meaning
  to this.  Maybe they're planning to build up a force to the north of Ratik?
  Or a base?  Or maybe they're a scouting party for a much larger force that
  is coming to our lands.
Rillen:  I guess we'd better wait and see what happens.

  That was exactly what they did, taking some supplies and warmer clothes
and making a camp a ways from their cabin.  From this site, they could watch
the bugbears' camp without being seen.  However, nothing happened that day,
or that night.  Songa even went down a short distance, to make sure that the
humanoids weren't trying something by moonlight - but they weren't.  The
bugbears didn't make their move until the following morning...

Songa:  Oh, hell.  They're headed this way.

next:      battle!
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
released:  2/7/00
notes:     I finally decided that Rillen and Songa had had enough of the
  secluded, peaceful life.

    Summary of post-600 episode plotlines thus far:

    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              (DONE FOR NOW)
    Rillen/Songa        deal with marauding forces in their area
    Gorin               ?
    Arnold              ?
    Halbarad            ?
    Rob                 ?

    The survey count jumped again, from 436 last week to 441 now.  I guess
  that some people read these notes and remember that they never sent a
  response back when I asked...

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