Chapter #613

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +
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+     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                             +
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+   Date:           1/18/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           afternoon                                             +
+   Place:          the timberlands just east of the Griff Mountains      +
+   Climate:        frigid                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "How many of them are there?"                                         +
+   "More.  A lot more."                                                  +
+                                    - from the _Highlander_ TV series    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                        DCXIII.  Moving On





  After they'd rested a bit from the exertions of battle, they dragged
all of the bodies into a pile, then went down to retrieve those killed
by Songa's traps.

Songa:  Uh-oh.  We've got a problem.
Rillen:  What?
Songa:  We're missing two bugbears...but there's only one body here.
Rillen:  Any blood from one who might have escaped from a trap?
Songa:  (shaking her head)  No.  That means the bugbear's fleeing...and
  then it can warn others!  Come on!
Rillen:  (to the onyx dog, who followed them from the scene of battle)
  Let's track that bugbear!

  They all rushed down the slope as fast as was reasonably possible,
the dog quickly outdistancing them both as it led the way.  Rillen's
best guess was that the bugbear in question had been sent back after
the first of Songa's traps was discovered...which meant that the thing
had a good quarter-hour lead on them.  Their worst fears were realized
a short time later, as the dog had stopped at the forest's edge, on the
bottom of the mountain's slope.  It looked at them, then looked out at
the grasslands that stretched out of sight to the south.

Rillen:  Why'd he stop?
Songa:  Look, there.

  Some distance away, they could make out what looked like a small army.
An army on the move...in their direction.

Songa:  Damn!
Rillen:  We have to assume that those are more bugbears, or at the very
  least, allies of the ones we killed.
Songa:  I wish I could just pretend that they weren't going to come up
  here, but that would be stupid.
Rillen:  And there's no chance of the two of us-
onyx dog:  (regards Rillen)
Rillen:  -the three of us beating that many enemies.
Songa:  (sighs)  We're going to have to abandon the cabin, and the area.
Rillen:  Where will we go?
Songa:  I'll work on that after we're moving.  Quick, we must act.
Rillen:  You're the woodland expert.  Tell me what to do.
Songa:  Go back to the cabin and gather our things...as much as we can
  reasonably carry.  Weapons, items, equipment, and food.  I know you
  don't like to rely upon that strength belt, but-
Rillen:  -now is a good time to use it.  Agreed.  We don't want to leave
  anything for them we don't have to.
Songa:  Take the dried jerky - it will last longer and weigh less than
  meat or vegetables.
Rillen:  What about water?
Songa:  This area is teeming with streams and ice-melts.  We'll be fine
  for drinking water.  Maybe get an empty wineskin or two.
Rillen:  Right.  (pauses for a moment, considering whether this is a
  point in his life worthy of a wish from the djinn he controls...then
  abruptly decides that it's something he and Songa can handle, and
  begins to sprint away)
Songa:  Go on...I'll be along shortly.  I have some more traps to rig.
Rillen:  Oh.  (he runs off into the forest)

  They met about a half-hour later, at the cabin.  Rillen had already
completed the packing and laid everything out, and was now engaged in
some morale-destroying tactics against the foes who were coming.

Songa:  (gazing at the severed bugbear heads on poles)  Nice touch.
Rillen:  Anything that will make them think will make them delay, and
  buy us more time.
Songa:  Where are the bodies?
Rillen:  I took one of the spare swords and hacked them to bits, then
  left them strewn about all over the place.
Songa:  (picks up the smell)  I see.  Isn't this a bit gruesome for you?
Rillen:  (shrugs)  It was either that or sink them in the lake, and I
  really didn't want to pollute the lake that way.
Songa:  Do you think we should try to warn that dragon on top of the
  mountain?
Rillen:  Not really.  I'm sure the dragon can take care of itself, and
  I'm sure it will, when the time comes.  We just don't have the time
  to find its lair, wherever it is up there on the mountain.
Songa:  Hmm.  (she looks around)  Well, let's get moving, then.

  Just like that, they departed their home of several years.  Both
still had their fine horses:  Rillen sat astride his magnificent black
stallion, while Songa rode a huge grey mare.  Both animals were among
the largest and hardiest of their kind, and both had been with their
masters for several years.  They made excellent time as they headed
northward.

Rillen:  Why north?
Songa:  My village is to the north, and we need to warn them...not to
  mention the king of Fruztii.  This may not be a full-scale invasion,
  but I know a raiding party when I see one.  The scum must be using
  the mountains...working their way around Ratik, then coming back into
  the plains.
Rillen:  I wonder what they want?
Songa:  It doesn't matter.  My people will rally and meet them, and turn
  them back.  Such is the way it has always been.
Rillen:  (wondering where Arnold is, and if he's in any danger from all
  of this)
Songa:  Between your...distraction and my traps, we should stay far ahead
  of the bugbears.
Rillen:  What sort of traps did you leave?
Songa:  I rigged some fallen logs to roll down the slope...laid out some
  sharpened stakes dipped in blood and droppings...that sort of thing.
Rillen:  Nasty.
Songa:  For those who are making us leave our home, nothing is too nasty.

  They trekked for the entire day, taking only brief breaks for rest or
food.  True to Songa's claim, there was fresh water aplenty, all along
their route.  The black dog transformed back into statuette form a short
time after they left the cabin, so Rillen picked it up and put it into a
pocket.  Under different circumstances, the hike would have been pleasant
and invigorating; as it was, neither of them cared for the fact that they
had been forced to flee.  Rillen thought back to the days when they'd had
wizards aplenty around, at any given time.  Even a single Ged or Alindyar
or Belphanior would have made a huge difference, perhaps even eliminating
the humanoid horde long before it reached their home.
  As it was, though, they had no wizards, and thus they fled.  There was a
league-wide strip of grassland between the mountains to the west and the
forest to the east, and they stuck to it, leaving tracks that were few and
difficult to spot.  Songa wasn't really worried about pursuit; not only
were they faster travelers than the bugbears, but since they weren't in a
large group, they didn't have to stop as often.  After it turned dark,
Songa found them an outcropping of boulders to camp against.  The black
dog was called forth to guard during the night, so that they could sleep
safely and soundly.

onyx dog:  Woof!

  Dawn found them cold and stiff, but they had to get going, and after a
hurried breakfast, they did.  The dog, seeming to know that its job was
done, dispelled itself once again.

Songa:  A handy ally, that.
Rillen:  (nods)  Loyal, fierce, watchful.  I'm glad we acquired it.
Songa:  Well, we should emerge into the main grasslands later today...
  from there, it's another day to my village.
Rillen:  What then?
Songa:  Then, after warning the villagers, we'll decide the best way to
  find and warn the next village, and possibly the king himself.
Rillen:  Sounds like a plan.
Songa:  It's really the only plan.  We don't know what those bugbears
  are doing around these parts, but it can't be good.  They have to be
  stopped.





next:      we look in on someone we haven't seen in a while
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
           ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
           tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu
released:  2/14/00
notes:     I guess the character quest list now looks something like this:

    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              deal with upstarts in Obad-Hai's ranks
    Rillen/Songa        warn Songa's people of humanoids in area
    Gorin               ?
    Arnold              ?
    Halbarad            ?
    Rob                 ?
    Peldor/Tanya        ?
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