Chapter #694

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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   +
+   Alindyar        18th level drow wizard                                +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+                                                                         +
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+                                                                         +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess                      +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger                               +
+      Zephyr          rather large tiger                                 +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Rob             16th level human priest                               +
+   Date:           3/16/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          the Gedlands, west of Greyhawk                        +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "So foul a sky clears not without a storm."                           +
+                                                  - from _Double Edge_   +

                        DCXCIV.  Off they Go

  It has taken the adventurers nearly a month to divine the location of
the minions of evil, but finally, they are preparing to depart.

Peyote:  You're sure you want in on this one?
Alindyar:  Positive.
Lyra:  You could say we need a distraction-
Peyote:  (holds up a hand)  No need to explain.  If you want to go, it's
Rob:  Unfortunate, that Peldor didn't want to go.  We could have used his
  particular skills.
Nenya:  I guess we'll just have to make do with what we have here...

  The group was far from a weak one:  in addition to three powerful magi
(Nenya and the two drow) it had two skilled druids, two trackers who were
veteran warriors, and a high priest.

Zephyr:  Graaaaar!
Halbarad:  Of course, my friend.  Who could forget you?
Zephyr:  (begins licking its paws)
Lyra:  So where do these evildoers lurk?
Rob:  (lays out a map)  Ever heard of the Riftcanyon?
Lyra:  Who hasn't?
Alindyar:  If I am not mistaken, Mongo was there at some point.
Rob:  That's Greyspire, to the west.  Our destination lies nowhere near
  that fortress, but rather in the central part of the region.
Nenya:  Specifically, we're going to the Crypt of Kyuss.
Lyra:  What's a "Kyuss?"
Rob:  A most evil champion from centuries past, if the legends hold true.
  However, I fear the agents of Xusia more than I fear some lost villain.
  This promises to be a most dangerous escapade.
Alindyar:  (cracks his knuckles)  Good.  I tire of fighting foes I cannot
  deal with directly.
Daffodil:  Whatever do you mean?
Alindyar:  ...never mind that.  When do we leave?
Peyote:  Right away.  We've gathered food and supplies, and the mounts
  are ready.

  Magical means of travel were out of the question, since none of those
capable of such magic had ever actually been anywhere near the group's
destination.  However, the drow did opt for summoned, spectral steeds,
tireless and translucent.

Peyote:  (shaking his head)  Bizarre...
Alindyar:  To each their own, yes?
Peyote:  Whatever you say, man.  Whatever you say.

  The route actually wasn't that complicated or long; they had only to
ride north and east, skirting the Nyr Dyv and moving through Furyondy
and the Shield Lands, then on to the Riftcanyon.  With the exception of
the last one, all of these lands were peaceful and civilized, and the
party had no trouble.  They stuck to the outlying areas of all cities,
not wishing to attract attention.  For Alindyar and Lyra, unused to the
rigors of the trail and riding, it was something of a rude awakening...

Alindyar:  (speaking with Lyra in private one night while the group is
  camped)  We could always teleport back.
Lyra:  No.  I don't- our home doesn't feel right.  Doesn't feel safe.
  Does that make any sense?
Alindyar:  Of course.
Lyra:  You're lying, and I can tell.  But it's okay - I can't control
  what you think, nor would I want to.
Alindyar:  You feel that our house is no longer habitable?
Lyra:  Not inhabitable, just...not safe.  Violated, even.
Alindyar:  Hmm.  Perhaps we should fortify it, in the future.
Lyra:  Maybe.
Alindyar:  Or sell it.
Lyra:  Maybe.
Alindyar:  You tire of living in Greyhawk?
Lyra:  (throws up her hands)  I don't know.  I just don't know!
Alindyar:  (remains speechless for a long time)

  When Lyra didn't say anything else or appear to calm down, Alindyar
gave up for now.  He knew from past experience that sometimes odd moods
struck, and he was unwilling to make an issue of it.  To tell the truth,
he didn't necessarily see much of a future for them in Greyhawk or at
the College of Magic.  Once, perhaps, but, with the knowledge
he'd gained from the Lord of Illusions - and the knowledge he had yet
to gain - there were many more roads open to him and Lyra.
  For now, though, he was pleased to be on the road and headed toward
adventure.  Lyra didn't want to be in Greyhawk, or at least not at the
mansion.  Alindyar wanted and needed some practical tests of his new
power and knowledge.  It only made sense to embark upon a dangerous
quest that took them far from their other problems.
  Of course, they'd made sure to stock up on important items and other
supplies before departing Greyhawk.  Should another, perhaps stronger
intrusion be made into their home, there would be no spellbooks or
magical items to be gained by the thief.  With the exception of the
library and perhaps the laboratory, Alindyar currently had possession
of everything that was important to him.

  The route around the Nyr Dyv took them just over two weeks, and at
long last, the plains ahead grew rocky and barren - heralding the outer
regions of the vast gash in the world's skin that was better known as
the Riftcanyon!

Halbarad:  Kind of puts a chill down the spine, no?
Peyote:  Sure does, dude.
Daffodil:  This place isn't's not natural.
Deryck:  Hell, even I knew that.
Alindyar:  It is perhaps a bit late to ask, but how exactly are we to
  find this crypt amidst a canyon that measures in leagues?
Nenya:  We already covered this in our planning.  Near the rift's edge,
  and also near the crypt itself, is a small walled town called Karnaj.
  There we shall learn the route.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Should have known.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  Of course.  She is, after all, Ged's
  student and successor.
Nenya:  (vaguely senses some mild magic afoot, not realizing that it's
  the drow at work with their ESP, and mutters to herself)  How odd...
Rob:  And we do know the location of this Karnaj place - we have a map.
Halbarad:  And the stars to guide us, as well.

  Very soon after crossing the unofficial border of the Riftcanyon's
"suburbs" they began to encounter other people, especially once they
came across what passed for a major road in these parts.  Some simple
questioning confirmed what they were already fairly sure of:  this
road led to the remote, walled, and undoubtedly dangerous town of
  Although they got some mean looks, nobody bothered them as they
spent the next two days riding north and east toward the canyon.  It
might have been their general demeanor, or it might have been the
obvious mix of races and professions that comprised their group.
Whatever the cause, the adventurers didn't have to expose a weapon
or cast a spell during the final stretch, and before they knew it,
they spotted a huge palisade of wooden spikes in the distance.

Peyote:  Karnaj, or I'm a monkey's uncle.
Daffodil:  Impossible - neither of us have any siblings.

next:      carnage in Karnaj
released:  11/23/00
notes:     This could actually be kind of fun.  Make no mistake, though:
  the adventures that preceded this one, plus this one, will pave the way
  for a LONG Belphanior arc to come after.  In my old writing age, I've
  realized that Belphanior and his henchmen are really the only ones I
  truly give a damn about.  Here's a bit of unknown trivia for you:  way
  back around the time that Helgate first appeared, I came very close to
  splitting Belphanior off into a side series that would have just been
  about him.  I'm glad I didn't, of course, because it would have further
  complicated a thing best left simple.

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