Chapter #617

previous chapter (#616)                                                                  next chapter (#618)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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   +
+   Alindyar        17th level drow wizard                                +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Date:           1/24/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        sunny and cold                                        +
+   "Freedom lies in being bold."                                         +
+                                                       - Robert Frost    +

                       DCXVII.  Working Vacation

  Alindyar's academic duties in Greyhawk's College of Magic are many and
varied, but every once in a while - with the right preparation and the
right planning - he is allowed some vacation.  This is one such time;
along with Lyra, he is preparing to make a short journey.

Alindyar:  All is in readiness.
Lyra:  I think not!
Alindyar:  (regards her)
Lyra:  I must admit that the idea intrigues me:  a Lord of Illusions, one
  whose ability and power surpass all others in the world.  But for all
  that, I can't help but think of this as a wild goose chase.
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  I already told you...three sages here in Greyhawk
  have all said the same basic thing.  The Lord of Illusions is rumored
  to make his home somewhere in the Abbor-Alz hills.
Lyra:  It can't possibly be that easy.  (she sighs)  Don't let your great
  desire to find this person overwhelm the probability that he either
  doesn't exist or won't allow himself to be found.
Alindyar:  Or herself.
Lyra:  What?
Alindyar:  For all we know, the Lord of Illusions could be a female.
Lyra:  (fuming)
Alindyar:  It does seem rather fitting, no?
Lyra:  (fuming)
Alindyar:  In order to find one of this sort, we must look into _all_
Lyra:  Okay, okay.  I get the point.  So when do we leave?
Alindyar:  I was hoping to depart today.
Lyra:  Maybe the better question is, how are we getting there?
Alindyar:  I assumed we would ride horses.  It is, after all, a pleasant
  day...if a bit cold.
Lyra:  Hmm.

  The drow had largely gotten over their dislike of the surface world's
sun; they had no problem being amidst its rays, as long as they kept
their skin covered.  In times of hot weather, this could be a problem,
but in the winter weather, it was trivial.

Lyra:  Horses, eh?  This trip will take more than a day's ride in the
Alindyar:  (shrugs)  Vacation.
Lyra:  Sounds fine, I suppose.  But first, tell me what you know of this
  illusion-master and his/her/its home in the Abbor-Alz.
Alindyar:  Well...long ago, the man was a wizard living in Greyhawk.
  As he got older, he decided to move into the country...far into the
Lyra:  Sounds stupid to me.
Alindyar:  Aye.  One sage told me about this wizard, name unknown, and
  the manner in which he used to fool men and beasts alike with his
  wondrous illusions.  The second sage knew of the wizard leaving this
  city for the hills.
Lyra:  And the third sage?
Alindyar:  The third sage...ah, 'twas he who advised against seeking
  this wizard out.  It would seem that he became anti-social in his
  older years.
Lyra:  I don't suppose I could convince you to forget about this and
  go back to working on the electric golem?
Alindyar:  (shakes his head)  My interest is piqued.
Lyra:  (sighs)  Well, there's only one way to find out.

  They set out that day, borrowing a pair of fine horses from Peldor's
stables as they always did on those rare occasions when they needed
horses.  It was indeed a fine day for a ride, and they made good time,
reaching and crossing the Ery River by dusk.  They'd had no trouble
from the barge's crew, for Alindyar had masked their true appearance
with a powerful illusion.  Both drow had long ago learned that it was
better to go unnoticed as humans than to raise eyes by keeping their
true appearances.
  When asked, the barge's captain had gladly told them of a small town
nestled in the wedge of land between the Ery and Neen Rivers.  The man
had even been so kind as to recommend an inn - no doubt because he was
getting paid to send travelers to one place over another.  Still, when
they got to the town, the inn seemed nice enough.  Darkness found them
well-fed, tired, and cozy in a bed just big enough for two.

Alindyar:  Ah, to be on the open road again!
Lyra:  Bored of the city life, eh?
Alindyar:  Not at all.  This is just...refreshing.
Lyra:  Is it?  Well, how about _this_...

  The next morning, both of them were in good spirits as they rode to
the south and east.  They had stocked up on food and drink before
leaving the town, and also gotten some advice:  the marshes to the
east were to be given a wide berth.  Apparently there had been some
problems with trolls in recent weeks.

Alindyar:  If I see a troll, I shall-
Lyra:  Blast it with a fireball and keep moving?
Alindyar:  A splendid idea.
Lyra:  Heh.

  They soon crossed the Neen River, again by barge, and journeyed on
from there.  The city of Hardby, ruled by the Despotrix, lay due south
of them, but they had no real desire to go there.

Alindyar:  Peldor once told me about some trouble he had with forces
  from Hardby.
Lyra:  Isn't that the city controlled by women?
Alindyar:  Aye.
Lyra:  Maybe we should go there sometime.  I'm curious about how they
  run the place.
Alindyar:  Planning ahead, eh?
Lyra:  Don't you wish.
Alindyar:  I recall reading, sometime past, about a fabled land far to
  the south...beyond the Azure Sea and Amedio Jungle and Hepmonaland...
  a land where the women rule and the men are slaves.
Lyra:  (smiling)  Hmm, now there's an idea.
Alindyar:  Bah.

  They maintained an efficient, if not hurried pace, taking breaks for
food and rest both for themselves and the horses.  The day passed rather
uneventfully, and about an hour before dusk, they spotted a small town
on the horizon.

Alindyar:  Perhaps we should stay there for the night.
Lyra:  Agreed.  It might be the last town we'll find tonight.
Alindyar:  (wondering if he should try to develop a spell that conjures
  forth a pair of magical mounts, able to ride all day and night with
  no need for rest or food)
Lyra:  Wouldn't be a bad idea.
Alindyar:  Eh?
Lyra:  (points to her ring, the twin of Alindyar's)
Alindyar:  Ah.  I had almost forgotten.

  This town was smaller than the one they'd left that morning, but its
people were just as friendly.  After finding a small, cozy inn, the
dark elves were enjoying a hot supper...

Alindyar:  (glancing around the inn's common room)  Friendly folk around
  these parts.
Lyra:  How long will your illusion last?
Alindyar:  Oh, it will be fine until well after bedtime.  I must simply
  remember to cast a new one in the morning.
Lyra:  What of-

  Their conversation was interrupted by several well-armed but panicked
men, who burst into the inn with much fanfare.  Both drow instinctively
began thinking about what spells to cast, but they relaxed as it became
apparent that these guardsmen didn't care about them.

guard #1:  (looks around, spotting a man eating dinner with his family)
mayor:  Eh?  What is this all about-
guard #1:  Mayor, it's happened again!
mayor:  Oh, no...another scouting patrol?
guard #1:  Worse.  This time, they took a wagon, coming back from Hardby.
  Two families.
mayor:  (puts his head in his hands)  Why?  Why must this keep happening
  to us?!?
Lyra:  (to someone at the next table)  What's going on?
man at other table:  Trolls.  They've been raiding us of late...getting
  bolder and bolder, too.
woman at other table:  Bold enough to take families from their wagons.
mayor:  Men, women, and children...taken, never to return!  Is there no
  way to stop these wretched trolls?!?
Lyra:  (looks at Alindyar)
Alindyar:  (shrugs)

next:      our favorite drow vs some trolls...any bets?
released:  2/28/00
notes:     In my original concept for this story, there were no trolls
  and there was no side trip.  Sometimes diversions just spring up out
  of nowhere...

previous chapter (#616)                                                                  next chapter (#618)