Chapter #63

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*****
*  The 8 player characters contained in these writings are copyright
*  1992 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to persons or characters
*  either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  Copying and/or
*  distribution of these stories is permissible only under the one
*  condition that no part of them will be used or sold for profit.
*  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.
*****

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THE PARTY (temporarily split up; this is the "land" group):

Alindyar, 9th level drow elf mage (N)
  Lyra, 5th level female drow elf mage (LE/N)  [pseudo-prisoner]
Halbarad, 8th level human ranger (NG)
Peldor, 10th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 7th/8th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
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Date:   12/20/570 C.Y. (Common Year)
Time:   early morning
Place:  the town of Tragidore, somewhere within Ulek
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                    LXIII.  Woodland Creatures



  The party is leaving the small town of Tragidore, intending to
enter the forest to the north and find out what has happened to
the men of the town.

Alindyar:  Methinks we may get to the bottom of this matter soon
  enough.
Halbarad:  They said the road led about a mile before entering
  the woodlands.
Peyote:  Well, let's follow it, dude!  (they do)

  The dirt road did indeed lead about a mile northward, before
entering the woods.  From there on out, it was basically a
logging trail, quite wide, though the forest grew thicker as
the party moved on.

Peyote:  Apparently these logger dudes had _some_ care for the
  environment.  (touching the ground)  They didn't cut down
  all the greenery here.  Cool.
Peldor:  (looking around)  What's that noise?
Halbarad:  (faces the forest)  Someone approaches.  (unslings
  his axe)
Alindyar:  (prepares to cast a spell if necessary)

  Suddenly, two large, hairy forms tromped from the surrounding
forest and toward the adventurers...Their porcine tusks and
slobbering snouts could only mean one thing - wild boars!

Peyote:  Aha!  Just on time...
Peldor:  (draws his sword)  Aha!  We'll eat well tonight!
Halbarad:  Perhaps.  Large boars such as these are quite hard
  to kill.  But then again, what would _you_ know about the
  hunting of game?
Peyote:  (casts a spell)  Hold on, man.  (begins grunting)
Alindyar:  Not again...
Lyra:  What?  What is this?
Alindyar:  Yonder druid is prone to summon animals to assist
  the cause.
Lyra:  Oh.
Peyote:  (pets the boars' greasy heads)  These are...Orville
  and Wilbur.  My woodly magic has brought them to help us.
Peldor:  Great.  (sheathes his sword)  I still say they're
  better for dinner than for combat.
Peyote:  They will accompany us for a while.  Eat your rations,
  dude.
Peldor:  (grumbling)

  The group moved on down the trail.  After about two miles,
they reached its end, though.  The logging operations had
obviously ended at this point.

Alindyar:  Yon forest appears thick.  I doubt that even my
  enchanted carpet could fly through it.
Halbarad:  (regarding the matted forest ahead of the party)
Peyote:  No problem.  I'll lead us through the woods safely
  (leaps into the tangled undergrowth)  Coming?
Peldor:  (looking around dubiously)  I guess so.
Alindyar:  (unrolls the carpet)  We shall try to fly through.
  (lifts Lyra onto the carpet, and then climbs aboard himself)
Halbarad:  (glaring at the two drow suspiciously)
Peyote:  Come on!  What are you waiting for?

  They forged ahead, into the progressively thicker woods.
Peyote didn't always seem to be leading them on a straight
course, though Halbarad did what he could to help the half-elf
guide the group through the forest.  They continued on for
a few minutes, until a strange sound was heard...

Peldor:  What's that "whooshing"?
Peyote:  (walks toward the sound)  Wow, man.
Halbarad:  Hold!  What are you doing?
Peyote:  I'm walking, what does it look like?
boars:  (paw the ground nervously)
Peldor:  (eyes the boars hungrily)
Alindyar:  (eyes Lyra hungrily)
Peyote:  (stops before a huge oak tree and begins whistling
  quietly)  Tweet tweet.
Halbarad:  (pauses)  Amazing!
Peldor:  Eh?  What's that?
Halbarad:  He is talking to that tree...
Peldor:  How's that?
Halbarad:  It is a druidic thing.
Peyote:  (turns toward the party)

  The large, thick oak tree then _bent down_ to face the party!
Lyra cowered in fear...two small beady eye-like things opened,
as did a large, dark maw, in the tree's trunk.

treant:  (in a deep, slow voice)  HAVE NO FEAR.  I WILL NOT
  HARM YOU.
Alindyar:  (comforts Lyra)  Shhh.
Peyote:  He's a treant, guys.  I heard him talking and spoke
  back in his own tongue...fortunately, he can speak our
  common tongue as well.
Halbarad:  (regards Peyote with a sidelong glance)  Greetings,
  and well-met, noble lord of the forest!  We seek anything
  unusual or evil in these parts, for men of the nearby town
  have been vanishing.
treant:  INDEED.  SOMETHING EVIL IS GOING ON DEEP WITHIN THE
  WOODLANDS NEARBY.  (gestures with one large branch-arm that
  makes a crackling sound as it moves)  I HAVE SEEN A STRANGE
  CREATURE, A GOAT-WOMAN, TRAVELING ABOUT.  SHE SOMETIMES HAS
  A HUMAN MAN ON HER BACK - BUT OTHER TIMES, NOT.
Peyote:  What was she?
treant:  I KNOW NOT.  BUT THE WOOD-BROTHERS HAVE SENSED THE
  EVIL NEARBY SINCE THAT TIME WHEN I MYSELF FIRST SAW THIS
  GOAT-WOMAN.
Peyote:  Well, then, we shall find this goaty babe and see
  what she's up to!
Halbarad:  ...Agreed.
treant:  MY THANKS FOR YOUR EFFORTS.  I MUST REMAIN HERE TO
  WATCH OVER THE FLOCK.  GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL.
Halbarad:  Err...yes.
Peyote:  (facing the way the treant pointed)  Let's get a
  move on.  (begins walking)  Later, O protector of the
  woodlands!

  Only a low whistling and rustling could be heard, though.
The party moved on, some of them still mystified by the
brief encounter with the treant.

Peldor:  I didn't know trees could talk.
Peyote:  Actually, they can _walk_ too, if they want to.  A
  treant is a very powerful being.  It's a good thing that
  one of you didn't irritate him, isn't it?
Alindyar:  (scribbling in his journal while riding the carpet
  with Lyra)  Hmm.  Fascinating.
Halbarad:  Hopefully we shall soon find whatever evil lurks
  herein.
Lyra:  (to Alindyar, in drow)  Tell them that the lair of
  Zara is nearby.
Alindyar:  (to party)  Lyra says that the lair of Zara is
  nearby.  (to Lyra, in drow)  Tell me of this Zara.
Halbarad:  Eh?
Peldor:  Zara, Lyra, Zara...
Lyra:  (in drow)  She was one of those I came up with.  They
  had some plan, but I never learned of it before I fled and
  took up with those bandits.
Alindyar:  (to party)  Zara is an evil person who may be in
  charge of something.
Peldor:  Gee, thanks.
Alindyar:  Of course.

  They continued on for a bit, when suddenly Peyote started.

Peyote:  (starts)  What?!?!?
Halbarad:  What?  What do you look so amazed for?
Peyote:  This area of forest has been well-kept.  Look at the
  flowers, the trimmed hedges!  It can only be one thing.
Peldor:  What's that?
Peyote:  Ny-
female voice:  (from somewhere nearby)  What are you doing here?
  Stand still and close your eyes so I can get a closer look at
  you.
boars:  (grunt and paw the ground)
Peyote:  Stay, tusked ones.  (closes his eyes and begins speaking
  aloud in a strange, willowy tongue)
Halbarad:  What is this?
Peyote:  Shh!  Close your eyes, or be blinded!  (continues to
  speak, and the female voice answers him in the same odd tongue)
Halbarad:  (reluctantly closes his eyes)
Alindyar:  (closes his eyes but also raises the carpet level several
  more feet)  Hmm.
Lyra:  (hugs Alindyar, eyes closed)
Peldor:  (thinking bold thoughts, peeks through one closed eyelid
  at the approaching female voices - there are two now!)  Wow!

  The thief saw a dazzling sight; two nearly nude women, who looked
quite human, had entered the clearing.  They were definitely the
most beautiful women Peldor had seen in a long, long time.  Then
his eyes tingled and his vision blurred...

Peldor:  Aaaaah!  (rubbing his eyes madly)
nymph#1:  I told you to close your eyes.  (regards Peldor)
nymph#2:  He's a cute one though, isn't he?
nymph#1:  Yes...
Peldor:  (leaps forward and opens his eyes)  Aha!  I was simply
  bluffing!  No puny magic ensnares the great Peldor's eyes!
  ...Even if it is cast by two lovely flowers of the flesh such
  as you two...
nymph#2:  (blushes)
Alindyar:  Flowers of the flesh?!?!?
Peldor:  I am Peldor, renowned hero, protector of all woodland
  beings, especially forest nymphs - Ow!  (his ring is tingling
  now, as his verbal exploits become greater)
Alindyar:  (no longer able to stand this)  It is safe to look
  now, I assume?
Peldor:  Sure!  (kisses nymph#2's hand gently)  My pleasure.
nymph#2:  Ah...
nymph#1:  You may all open your eyes without fear of harm.
Peyote:  (does so)  I am he who spoke to you first.
nymph#1:  Of course.
Peyote:  We are here to find evil in this woodland and subsequently
  eliminate it, as one might a festering tumor in the heart of-
Peldor:  (to nymphs)  What he means is, have you seen any evildoers
  lately?
Alindyar:  (to Lyra)  Methinks they are looking at one now...ah,
  that reminds me.  (uncovers his crystal ball, and peers into it
  for a glimpse of the sea group)
nymph#1:  We shall aid you.
Peldor:  Oh, really?
Alindyar:  (sees the sea group fighting pirates in a great ship-
  to-ship battle in a rapid river)  Well, _they_ are certainly
  enjoying themselves...(puts the crystal ball away)  I hope that
  Mongo can swim.
Peldor:  (staring at nymph#2)
nymph#2:  Until recently, we saw men all the time, in this area.
Peldor:  Of course, none were as great of body and deed as Peldor,
  but still...
Halbarad:  Quiet, fool.
nymph#2:  (watching Peldor, smiling, thinking romantic thoughts)
nymph#1:  But we have not seen any in quite some time.
nymph#2:  We did talk for a bit with a dark-skinned woman.  She
  said she was headed home, to the northwest.  We know because
  of our magical powers that she told the truth...but yet, she
  seemed foreboding...
Peldor:  (senses due to his ring that the nymphs are telling the
  truth too)  Aha!  (turns to the others)  That's our man!  Err,
  woman!  Let's go and find her!  Always first to help a good
  cause, that's Peldor!  Underestimated by some, unappreciated
  by most...
nymph#1:  Find her?  Do you think that _she_ is causing the
  disappearances?
Peldor:  Naturally.  (faces nymph#2)  I think that we should
  talk more, you and I - in private.  (NOTE : Remember that our
  favorite thief recently guzzled a philter of persuasiveness
  found in an ancient tower - a potion that, unbeknownst to
  Peldor, was made to have this effect permanently!!!)
nymph#2:  Oh!  (Peldor's hand has found its way to her posterior)
Peldor:  Shall we talk for a bit?
nymph#2:  Yes...(they walk away into the woods)
nymph#1:  What is this?!?
Peldor:  Let's take a break, guys.  We can lunch with these women
  and rest our weary feet.  (disappears with the nymph)
nymph#1:  (fuming)  Gah!
Peyote:  Calm down.  Tell me about this dark-skinned woman.
Alindyar:  (off of his carpet, leans closer)  Yes.  Tell us about
  her...

  So it was that they all rested for an hour or so.  When it was time
to move on, Peldor was nowhere to be found...

Halbarad:  Where has that rascal gotten to now?
nymph#1:  We can find him, er, them.  (wanders into the woods nearby)
  Follow me.
Peyote:  (shrugs)  Okay.  (the party follows her a short way into the
  forest)

  They came upon Peldor and the other nymph within a minute or two.
The thief was relaxing on a bed of soft grass, an idiotic grin on
his face.  The nymph was busy cooing to him while weaving flowers
into his hair.

Alindyar:  My, my.  You seem...enchanted, young man.
Peldor:  (smiling)  Yea...(dreamily gazes into the sky)
Peyote:  Flowers, man!  You're a flower child now for sure!
Halbarad:  Get off of your lazy butt, thief.  We must depart.
Peldor:  Depart?  Leave?
nymph#2:  (adds a tulip to Peldor's flowery crown)  Hee hee.
Lyra:  (in drow, to Alindyar)  He is ensorcelled...
Peyote:  Wow, man.
Peldor:  (grins mindlessly)  Time to go?
Alindyar:  Verily, the fool seems charmed...
Peyote:  Yup.
nymph#1:  Release the man, sister.  He must help his friends now.
nymph#2:  Oh, okay.  (to Peldor)  You must go now.  But come back
  and see us sometime.
Peldor:  Yes, dear.  (gets up, still grinning)
Halbarad:  (grabs Peldor by the scruff of the neck)  Come along, you.

  They departed, Peldor still wearing the wreath of flowers and
smiling mindlessly.  The nymphs really had no idea what the dark woman
was all about, but they wished the party luck anyway.  Peldor remained
loopy for several minutes, then seemed to come around, looking at his
flowers in amazement.
  Moving northwest, the party did not have to wait long for the
next encounter.  A beautiful young girl was sitting against a
tree trunk, weeping.  She turned to face them as they approached.

girl:  <sob>
Halbarad:  What is the matter?
Peyote:  A damsel in distress!
Peldor:  (moves toward the girl)  Peldor shall comfort you, young
  waif.
Alindyar:  (frowning as he regards the girl)  Wait...
Lyra:  (regarding Alindyar)  ...?
girl:  (takes Peldor's hand and whispers to him)  Don't let
  them hurt me...protect me... <sob>
Peldor:  (fails his save)  Don't...let...them...hurt...you.
Alindyar:  (sees through an illusion)  Beware, thief!  That is no
  girl!
Peldor:  (turns around, looking dully)  Don't hurt her.  (draws
  his sword)  I won't _let_ you hurt her.
Alindyar:  (groans)  Not again...
Peyote:  Rats!





next time:  no more little girl; the outpost is found

FTP SITE: ccosun.caltech.edu (in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers)
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NOTES:  Time is hard to come by these days...sorry for the long
wait on this one...I still have a 7 page paper to write by Friday
(the cultural meaning of the $1 bill - oh BOY)...
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