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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 +
+ Arnold 13th level human barbarian warrior +
+ Lorelei 7th level human priestess of Beory +
+ Rillen 18th level human warrior monk +
+ Songa 13th level human huntress +
+ Date: 6/22/579 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: early evening +
+ Place: the city of Nevond Nevnend, in Tenh +
+ Climate: warm +
+ "When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, +
+ you will command the attention of the world." +
+ - George Washington Carver +
Half a year had passed since Arnold last saw Rillen and Songa, and vice
versa. Indeed, the former had been quite surprised when the couple paid
him a visit one day, with no prior warning or announcement.
Rillen: Well, it's not like we're wizards who can talk across entire
Songa: Thank the gods for that.
Arnold: This way's better anyway.
It was almost dinnertime, and as luck would have it, Arnold's wife
Lorelei had been preparing a huge meal anyway.
Lorelei: (smiling) All this means is that we won't have to eat leftovers
for nearly as long.
Arnold: So, what brings you two to these parts? Last time we saw you,
your stated plan was to return to Greyhawk...?
Rillen: We did, for a short while.
Songa: We've come to the conclusion that we're wanderers.
Rillen: It would help if we could decide what we wanted to do, and where.
Arnold: (ruffles young Seth's hair, as the one-year-old lad charges past)
I could give you one suggestion, but then I'm biased.
Arnold's children, Kira and Seth, were two and one, respectively. Both
seemed active and intelligent, moreso than average. Rillen's guess was
that the kids had inherited the best qualities of both their parents, and
would grow up with unlimited potential. It did not escape the warrior
that Songa got a certain look in her eyes, on her face, when she watched
the children at play.
Rillen: We're just not sure if we want to settle down yet.
Songa: The last time we did that, things were okay for a while, but then
marauding humanoids violated our privacy.
Arnold: Yes, you told me about that last time. Did you ever get to the
bottom of that whole thing?
Rillen: Actually, we did. Well, we didn't.
Songa: (helpfully) Someone else did.
Rillen: Belphanior and Mongo and some others recently undertook a great
Rillen proceeded to convey an abbreviated version of the events of two
months ago, when several allied forces had converged on the fortress of
the Nine, defeating both its soldiers and chiefs in one bloody day. The
warrior had heard the tale from Peldor (who had heard it from Belphanior
himself) the last time he and Songa passed through Greyhawk.
Rillen: -and so, they ransacked the place and made sure that no pockets
of foes lay hidden within. And that was that.
Rillen: The evidence points to those massing humanoids being organized
and controlled by one of these "Nine" who ruled that fortress and its
environs. Probably part of some larger scheme that never saw fruition.
Arnold: (shaking his head)
Songa: We know. I'm glad we missed it all, though it was surely one
hell of a battle.
Rillen: Sounds like a whole lot of fun, eh?
Arnold: For some. (he frowns) For me, five or ten years ago.
Rillen: Speaking of ten years, be aware that some of the others have
been making noises about a ten-year anniversary party, celebrating the
first time they all met, ten years ago.
Arnold: My...had it really been that long?
Songa: Not for you, or us - we all came along after.
Rillen: Not too long after, for me or Arnold.
Arnold: We still weren't there at the beginning...that distinction falls
only to Alindyar, Belphanior, Halbarad, Mongo, Peyote, and Rob.
Rillen: And Ged, may he rest in peace. But we're all invited - families
too, of course.
Arnold: Of course.
Rillen: I expect you'll hear "official" word soon. Probably from one
of the wizards, via magic.
Arnold: That's the way it works.
Songa: I don't care for it, myself. Talking to someone halfway around
the world...journeying from one place to another in the blink of an
eye...that sort of thing doesn't sit right with me.
Rillen: (nods) Is it truly progress? What happens when everyone - the
whole society, not just the powerful spellcasters - gets used to such
things, and begins taking them for granted?
Arnold: Don't forget the war aspect, either.
Songa: You mean the blasting of foes from afar, with fireballs and such
great forces...the summoning of demons or armies or such...all of that
Arnold: (nods) Why do you think I left all that and settled down here?
I want no part of that life. I don't mind fighting, if I have to, for
what's right and to protect my own. But fights should be with sword
and shield - take some effort, some sacrifice, some risk.
Rillen: We could be talking like this because we're _not_ the ones who
can bring such awesome magic to bear.
Songa: Good! If we had those tricks, we'd not be the people we are.
Arnold: Let me tell you something. All those foes we ever fought, all
the really powerful ones...well, the ones that still live and perhaps
recall fighting us, and perhaps think of revenge-
Rillen: There are definitely some out there.
Arnold: -who do you think they remember, from the battles? Us, the ones
with swords and spears, the ones who had to flee or fall when fireballs
were brought into play...or do you think they remember the ones who
laughed at their fireballs, the ones who retorted with fireballs of
their own, or summoned some gigantic monster of stone, or even the ones
who could topple houses with one throw of a hammer...?
Songa: (nods) I take your meaning.
Arnold: _Nobody_ is going to come after us to get even. We just weren't
enough of a threat - we didn't register. Which is fine, because what
we _did_ do was show up, play our part, fight the good fight...and as
a team, with the others, we won. We always won.
Rillen: Almost always.
Arnold: The point remains. We all have our role in such things, and in
my mind, I fulfilled my role during the time I played that game. (he
shares a smile with Lorelei) Now, of course, I have another role.
Songa: No worries - we understand.
Rillen: That we do.
Arnold: (nodding, he decides to change the subject) So what _will_ you
two do next?
Songa: (smirks) Wander some more, probably.
Rillen: I wish we knew.
Songa: I've had somewhat of an urge to find somewhere remote and settle
down...somewhere more remote than the last time we tried, somewhere where
there are no humanoid armies, no invaders, nothing like that. Period.
Rillen: Does such a place exist?
Arnold: I hope so.
Songa: I know it does...I am sure of it, in fact. It's just a matter of
Arnold: Well, I wish you luck-
Lorelei: (sticks her head around the corner) Dinner's ready!
notes: It hadn't been long enough for Arnold to have another child,
so I just went with something even simpler: a character-driven story
with no battle, no violence, no magic, no wizards. Just the less grand
and more ordinary adventurers, talking about how different things are
for them compared to the ones who walk between worlds, level castles
with fireballs, and summon great beasts from other planes.
If I've learned one thing about my friends with families (and this
means only smart, responsible friends with families - I don't have
stupid, irresponsible friends, families or not) it's that their family
comes first, all else second. You don't invite them, alone, to spend
time with you or go do something. It's the whole family, or none of
them. Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with this at all; it's just
not me, not right now. But I do understand and respect their way too,
and I'm showing that in this episode.
Another thing I showed here was my ever-growing unhappiness with the
power levels now shown in my stories. You can't go back - not if you
want to be consistent. You have to stick by precedent, by what you've
done before. It's not like I planned it to turn out this way - hell,
the LACK of planning and an overall vision was the reason it DID happen
like this. If I write again, whatever I write will be scripted out from
start to finish - there will be a plan, and a pace, before you ever get
the first word of that new work.
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