Chapter #634

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                                     +
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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                                 +
+     onyx dog figurine                                                   +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+   Tarl            barbarian warrior                                     +
+     war dogs (8)                                                        +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:           2/6/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           evening                                               +
+   Place:          deep within the eastern Griff Mountains               +
+   Climate:        temperate                                             +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not why ships are built."  +
+                                                               - unknown +
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                    DCXXXIV.  A Farewell to Fungus





  After helping the mushroom-people fight off a hideous plant-thing, the
adventurers are preparing to move on...

Fungo:  Not leave?
Songa:  We must go - we have important work to do above.
Fungo:  Thanks root evil gone.
Tarl:  It was our pleasure.
Fungo:  Root evil block paths.  Gone.

  The weird little mushroom-man had expressed his thanks by giving them
quantities of several different sorts of mosses and fungi.  From what the
humans could tell, these could be used to treat or cure wounds and various
afflictions.  That wasn't Fungo's only contribution, though.

Fungo:  Careful river move.
Rillen:  How's that?
Fungo:  Careful.  Others move often.
Songa:  In boats like the one we came here in?
Fungo:  Yes.  (he points downstream, where the companions will be headed)
  Barter troops moving.
Tarl:  Hmm.  I wonder if he's talking about the bugbears.
Fungo:  Troops bad here.  Stop good.
Songa:  The bugbears, or someone else like them.
Tarl:  This would be a good way to move troops through the mountain range,
  but where?  And why?
Rillen:  That's what we have to find out.

  After brief farewells - after all, they were saying goodbye to a bunch
of humanoid mushrooms - the adventurers and their war dogs boarded the
boat and headed back into the river.

Songa:  (watching the cluster of weird fungoids on the rocky shore)  What
  a strange folk.  Do you think we'll ever see them again?
Rillen:  In this world, anything is possible.
Tarl:  They were helpful enough, and we helped them too.
Songa:  I wonder what sort of "others" have been moving along this river?
Rillen:  We'll soon know, no doubt.  (he checks his quiver)  I'm running
  low on arrows.
Tarl:  And my dogs are running low on food.  They don't eat fungus.
Songa:  Our dog doesn't have that problem.
Tarl:  Be that as it may, we're going to have to find some meat, and soon.
Songa:  Too bad we can't hunt down here.
Rillen:  Maybe we'll find a big underground city or something.  That would
  solve all of our problems.
Tarl:  As long as it's not filled with drow.
Songa:  You've fought drow often?
Tarl:  Several times.  They're quite dangerous, even if you have a sword
  that negates magic on contact.
Rillen:  Two of my closest and most trusted friends are dark elves.
Tarl:  Really?
Rillen:  (nods)  They're not what you'd call typical dark elves.  In fact,
  they're more human than most humans I know.
Tarl:  Fascinating.  I've heard a few tales of such drow - ones who left
  the Underdark and who harbor no ill will toward everyone else -  but I
  never had the chance to meet one.
Rillen:  If you ever go to Greyhawk, you can meet two.
Tarl:  We shall see.

  Down the river they sailed, the glow from Rillen's light-wand still on
the boat's prow.  Better yet, for other potential explorations, Fungo had
provided them with a sackful of bright, glowing moss which he'd said would
stay potent for a long time.  Thusly equipped, they moved along the dark
underground river, seeking any sign of either bugbear activity or a means
of escape (preferably the latter.)  So far there had been no sign of any
habitation or activity - just the rocky walls on either side of the river.
  They had several encounters, none of them serious.  One time, a swarm of
tiny black bats fluttered around the boat, disturbed by the light.  Another
time, some large eel-like thing tried to stick its head in the boat.  Tarl
had rebuffed it with a kick, sending it back down into the unknown depths
from whence it came.
  Sleeping was difficult, even though they had a watch (not to mention the
keen ears and noses of Tarl's dogs.)  Further, the dog-hunger problem was
getting worse.

Tarl:  Oh, don't worry.  They won't turn on us or anything like that.
Rillen:  There's a relief.
Tarl:  But we do need to find some food, for us as well as the dogs.  (he
  frowns)  Maybe I should have killed, skinned, and cooked that eel-like
  thing.
Songa:  (busy doing something to one of her spears)
Rillen:  What are you up to?
Songa:  Fishing.  There's no reason to believe there aren't fish in this
  river.
Tarl:  (wondering why he didn't think of this)

  Even though Songa had some thin line and hooks - she carried all sorts of
useful things like that in her magically spacious pack - the fishing was a
long and tedious process.  They'd found it necessary to pull the boat aside,
into a calmer area of the river, before Songa got any bites at all.  There
were indeed fish here, but most of them were pale and eyeless things, hardly
fit for a meal.  Also, they needed a lot of fish to satisfy the hungers of
all people and dogs in the boat.
  For bait, Songa used some jerky that she pulled from the same pack she'd
had tackle stored in.

Rillen:  Good thing you decided to keep that pack, eh?
Songa:  (shrugs)  I guess I'm accepting the fact that others will use such
  sorcerous tools against me, so why go about at a disadvantage?  A magic
  sword is still a sword.  I still can't say I care for the wizards
  themselves.  It's not natural.
Rillen:  Who do you think made your sword?
Songa:  Hmph.  Best not to think about it at all.

  Songa caught a dozen fish (plus an eel, a snake, and a piece of rotten
wood) before handing the gear over to Tarl.  While he continued to get
more fish, the huntress scaled and cleaned the ones she had.  Later, Rillen
too took a turn with the makeshift fishing pole; he'd gained basic fishing
skills while living with Songa these past years.  In the bow of the boat,
Songa made a small fire atop a small brazier and cooked the fish.
  It was far from a gourmet meal, but the end result of all this was some
fresh, hot, and different food.  The dogs were happy too.

Songa:  I don't have what I need to preserve the fish, but we can catch
  more if we need to.
Rillen:  I'd prefer to get off of this boat...for good.

  It was often said not to wish for something unless you wanted it, but
Rillen had never been one to bow to conventional wisdom.  A short while
later, the river began to speed up...

Tarl:  Crap.
Songa:  This could be trouble...look at those rocks ahead.
Rillen:  Here we go again.

  This trip through the underground river's rapids didn't last as long as
the previous one, though...for here, the rocks were sharper, the current
stronger and faster.

Songa:  Look out ahead!  (she tugs the tiller to the left, hard)
Tarl:  (to Rillen)  Row!  Row for your life!

  Despite their best efforts, the boat still smashed into the huge, jagged
rock, jarring all within.

Songa:  The prow's cracked!
Tarl:  The boat's breaking up!
Rillen:  Shit!

  Within moments, they were all dumped into the freezing water, pulled
along at breakneck speed by the powerful current.





next:      finally, we switch to someone else:  Alindyar and Lyra
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
           tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu
released:  4/27/00
notes:     By now you've surely noticed that almost every post-600 story
  has been between 10-11Kb in length.  Why am I doing this, when 20-30Kb
  stories are so much better to read?  It's simple:  pick any rate of
  story-volume release, say, 20 Kb each week.  Most readers would rather
  read two 10Kb stories, say Monday and Thursday, than one 20Kb story
  one day and then nothing else for six more days.
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