Chapter #797

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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   +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess of Obad-Hai          +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid of Obad-Hai  +
+   Date:           9/5/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           early morning                                         +
+   Place:          the depths of the Vesve Forest                        +
+   Climate:        mild                                                  +
+   "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what        +
+    one wants, and the other is getting it."                             +
+                                                         - Oscar Wilde   +

                      DCCXCVII.  A New Quest

  Every one of the adventurers had their own reaction to the battle at
the fortress and perhaps whatever injuries they suffered there.  In the
case of Peyote, it was anger, and not just a little bit...

Peyote:  (smacks a tree)  DAMMIT!
tree:  (just waves in the breeze)
Peyote:  Sorry.  Sorry.
Daffodil:  (strides after him)  Will you calm down?!?
Peyote:  I can't.  I've had it with this...this...
Daffodil:  Horseshit?
Peyote:  That's exactly what it is - horseshit!

  Peyote had been in a foul mood ever since they returned to their home
in the Vesve.  In fact, Daffodil hadn't ever seen him like this.

Daffodil:  It's simple, then.  We won't ever do such a thing again.
Peyote:  I'm more mad that we ever agreed to do it in the first place.
  We were used, that's what it was - used by the Circle of Eight and
  by all of those so-called champions.  They wanted more elemental and
  healing power, and so they somehow tricked us into going-
Oakly Greenleaf:  (appears from a tree)  Do you really believe that,
  young man?
Peyote:  Whoa.  (he stops short)

  The look in the old druid's eyes was enough to silence Peyote's tirade
and give him pause.

Oakly Greenleaf:  Do you really believe that the forces of good in the
  world conspired against you, to trick and use you and then forget you?
Oakly Greenleaf:  Then by the hoary hosts of the Shalm, DO NOT SAY SUCH

  Somewhere, thunder pealed, and to Peyote, it seemed as if the sky grew
dark.  Oakly seemed to be ten feet tall then, his grey beard blowing in
a wild frenzy, whipped by fierce winds.  His eyes were red, and bored
into Peyote's soul-

Daffodil:  Father!  Calm down!  He didn't mean what he said and you know
Peyote:  (watches, amazed, as the Grand Druid instantly appears as his
  normal old self again)
Oakly Greenleaf:  (sighs)  Forgive me.  But there was - and is - too
  much at stake for foolish remarks.
Peyote:  Forgive me, O great one.  I spoke in anger and haste.
Oakly Greenleaf:  Not to worry, lad.  I simply wish to impress upon you
  the error of your ways.
Peyote:  So what are they up to?  We barely got a "thank you" after all
  that we did.  Some of them seemed glad to be rid of us!
Oakly Greenleaf:  Such is the way with non-druids, as it ever was and
  ever will be.  They mean no harm by it.
Daffodil:  They could have been a bit more thankful.
Oakly Greenleaf:  In their own way, they are.  The important thing is
  that the demonlord's agents have no foothold on this world.
Peyote:  What of the other demonlord, the one they are saying enticed
  Belphanior into co-operation?
Oakly Greenleaf:  Do not judge that elf too harshly.  He strikes deals
  that benefit only himself, but in this case it probably worked to the
  greater good.
Daffodil:  I don't understand.
Oakly Greenleaf:  Well, in addition to Belphanior's help in that great
  battle - without which, you might have failed - there is the matter
  of the demonlords contending for power on their own world...the Abyss.
  In order for that conflict to enter the new round of attacks and
  invasions that are currently taking place, the one's plans on Oerth
  had to be nullified.
Peyote: many people know this?
Oakly Greenleaf:  All major representatives of their gods or goddesses,
  at the very least.  Probably the Circle of Eight as well.
Daffodil:  So this is all about balance?
Oakly Greenleaf:  Balance, and the desire to have demons' wars waged on
  their plane, rather than ours.
Peyote:  Dude!  I see.  Well, sort of.
Oakly Greenleaf:  None may see all things, but you have seen enough.  I
  wanted you to understand, and thus I came here today.
Daffodil:  What transpires in the upper echelons of Obad-Hai's power?
Oakly Greenleaf:  All is well, actually.  The forests - the major ones,
  at least - are the quietest in some time.
Peyote:  Must be due to the great job we're all doing.
Oakly Greenleaf:  Perhaps.  Which brings me to the other reason I needed
  to talk to you two.
Daffodil:  Eh?
Oakly Greenleaf:  As you know, each region on the map has one Druid in
  our order, and there are nine such regions.  You are the Druid who
  watches over the Vesve and the lands around it.
Peyote:  (proudly)  I am.
Oakly Greenleaf:  Above these nine, we have three Archdruids...their
  rank and power second only to the Great Druid and myself.  But that
  is of little consequence in this discussion.
Peyote:  Oh.
Oakly Greenleaf:  No, what I wish to discuss with you is the potential
  discovery, perhaps within the year, of a tenth region...a new forest
  and new lands around it.
Daffodil:  I don't understand.  There can't _be_ ten Druids, can there?
Oakly Greenleaf:  Astute, my daughter.  No, there most certainly cannot
  be, yet the indications are that a new woodland looms in the world...
  a huge woodland, perhaps larger than any in Oerik.  Obad-Hai needs a
  representative of his dominion, his ways.
Peyote:  So you want to make sure that this forest gets claimed in the
  name of Obad-Hai, before anyone else can either protect it or destroy
Oakly Greenleaf:  Crudely put...but essentially correct.
Daffodil:  Wait...wait.  There aren't any unknown forests that large on
  any map, not even in any legends.
Oakly Greenleaf:  No, there are not.
Peyote:  Then...huh?
Daffodil:  You speak of places _off_ the maps!
Oakly Greenleaf:  (holds up his staff, as if to clarify his point)  Yes.
Peyote:  But how do you know about such a place, and how will we get
Oakly Greenleaf:  You will do this thing, then?
Daffodil:  I assume that the Vesve will be in good hands while we are
Oakly Greenleaf:  The best.
Peyote:  Sure, we'll go, if that's what you want.  Which it seems to be.
Oakly Greenleaf:  (nods)  Do not forget, there is danger involved.  The
  mere finding of such an unknown land, beyond the edges of any map, is
  sure to be a long and arduous undertaking.
Daffodil:  Yes, that was my next question:  how will we get there?
Oakly Greenleaf:  Do you recall that time in the kingdom of Onnwal, when
  you and your former adventuring companions boarded a great ship called
  _Victory_, setting sail for parts unknown to recover an ancient rune?
Peyote:  I remember it as if it were only yesterday.
Daffodil:  I don't, since I wasn't there.
Oakly Greenleaf:  (to Peyote)  The _Victory_ was not the last wonder to
  ever be produced by the shipyards of Scant, capital of Onnwal.  Even
  as we speak, a ship is being built...a vessel unlike any other in the
  whole world.  It is more than a cargo ship and more than a battleship.
  It will be crewed with the finest in all the lands of Oerik - sailors,
  priests, warriors, trackers, cartographers, explorers, craftsmen, and
  tradesmen - and their families, for this is a mission of colonization.
  My position not only allows me knowledge of this, but it also allows
  me to hold a handful of places on this ship.  Two of those places can
  be yours, if you so choose.

next:      Rillen and Songa
released:  1/8/02
notes:     Of all the seedling ideas I've thrown out, this one actually
  intrigues me the most.  Imagine:  building the biggest ship ever, then
  stocking it with hundreds of functional colonists and setting sail for
  lands far off the map, lands that might not even exist, but must still
  be sought by those brave and dedicated and powerful enough.

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