Chapter #800

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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       +
+   1991-2002 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                                +
+   Arnold          13th level human barbarian warrior                    +
+   Belphanior      15th/15th/15th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+   Bosco           13th level halfling thief                             +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess of Obad-Hai          +
+   Deryck          12th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Gorin           12th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger of Ehlonna                    +
+   Lorelei          7th level human priestess of Beory                   +
+   Lyra            14th level female drow wizard                         +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Nenya           10th/11th level female grey elven warrior/wizard      +
+   Otto            10th/12th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+   Peldor          20th level human thief                                +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid of Obad-Hai  +
+   Rillen          18th level human warrior monk                         +
+   Rob             17th level human priest of Trithereon                 +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+   Tanya            5th/11th level female human fighter/thief            +
+   Date:           11/4/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           evening                                               +
+   Place:          the Green Dragon Inn, in Greyhawk                     +
+   Climate:        cool and pleasant                                     +
+   "The Road goes ever on and on                                         +
+      Down from the door where it began                                  +
+    Now far ahead the Road has gone                                      +
+      And I must follow if I can                                         +
+    Pursuing it with weary feet                                          +
+      Until it joins some larger way                                     +
+    Where many paths and errands meet                                    +
+      And whither then?  I cannot say."                                  +
+                                                                         +
+              - from _The Fellowship of the Ring_ by J.R.R. Tolkien      +

                  DCCC.  Lo, There Shall Come an Ending

  As it has been many other times, the Green Dragon Inn is the scene of
a special gathering.  This time, however, is the most special one yet...
for tonight, the adventurers and those close to them - and none else -
have come together to mark the ten-year anniversary of the day they all
came together, in the town of Fax...

Bosco:  I wasn't there, that's for sure.
Peldor:  I, and Mongo, and Belphanior, and Alindyar, and Rob,
  and Halbarad and Peyote.
Mongo:  And Ged.
Peldor:  Of course.
Belphanior:  And even Krug.
Mongo:  (smiling sadly)  Krug...
Peyote:  Ten years, man...ten years!
Halbarad:  Hard to believe.
Alindyar:  Aye, it is.  Even for one with a lifespan such as myself.
Rob:  Ten years is a long time for anything...friendships, journeys, or
Belphanior:  (shaking his head)  Ten years...what have we accomplished
  in that time?
Peldor:  Families.  Tanya, and little Ariel, and maybe more.
Tanya:  (just smiles)
Arnold:  I hear that.  (he wraps an arm around Lorelei)
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  I simply cannot believe that this is the
  same barbarian warrior who formerly could not speak proper Common.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Anyone can change.
Peldor:  Speaking of kids, how are the rest of you doing?  Any big
Nenya:  (looking a little plump)  We're expecting, for those who might
  not have noticed.
Deryck:  Don't worry, no one can tell.
Nenya:  Everyone can tell!  I'm huge!
Deryck:  (sighs, smiling)
Peldor:  Not to worry, they always do this.
Tanya:  Hey!
Arnold:  (to Belphanior)  Where's your girlfriend?
Belphanior:  She wasn't my girlfriend...and there won't be any children
  for me, anytime soon.  (he thinks of Neera)  Maybe in the future...
  just maybe...
Bosco:  I'm ready to have some kids, whenever-
Daffodil:  (laughs out loud)  Oh, that's a good one.
Bosco:  I'm serious!  The loins of Bosco are ready!
Tanya:  But is the world ready _for_ those kids, Bosco?
Bosco:  Hey, I can't help it if I'm great.
Halbarad:  There will be no children in my future, either, not anytime
  soon...for I have much work to do.
Peyote:  (pulls him aside)  Hey, dude, I heard that you were talking
  about a ship and a voyage...we must talk of this.  I, too, have such
  a trip planned - and I suspect we may be on the same page here.
Halbarad:  Oh, really?  (they begin to confer)
Daffodil:  (opting not to talk about business at a time like this, she
  instead chats with Lorelei about the best ways to tame wild husbands)
Mongo:  (swapping old war tales with Belphanior now)  ...the adamantine
  golem, twice...the iron dwarf, at least three times...or was it four?
Belphanior:  Don't forget the juggernaut.
Mongo:  Oh, man, was that something.
Bosco:  Did someone say "juggernaut"?  'Cause if they did-
Belphanior:  And then there were the ones we shouldn't have faced, the
  ones we weren't ready for at the time.
Mongo:  Like that giant who blasted you.  Or that devil-statue that
  ripped Peldor in half.
Peldor:  That's a lie, I tell you - a terrible lie!
Mongo:  (sighs)  No more a lie than Bosco getting brought back to life
  as a raccoon.
Bosco:  Huh?
Peyote:  (grins slyly)  Oops.
Mongo:  (scratching his beard)  'Course, that was nothing compared to
  the time he got caught swimming in the treasure pile at Thunderdelve.
Bosco:  Hey, now that's different!
Belphanior:  There were many good times...some that I laugh at, though
  perhaps I shouldn't - like that time I tried to take on the cloud
  giant on that bridge and nearly got us all killed.
Peldor:  You got yourself killed, at least.  That counts for something.
Lyra:  Or the time we were in the jungles of the savages, and had to
  sit in the cooking pot for a while.
Peldor:  (remembering how Lyra turned into a sharp-toothed fish to bite
  through their ropes)  Aie.
Mongo:  Remember the whorehouse, in the early days, where Ged chased
  all those women and their customers out into the streets?
Peldor:  Hah!
Alindyar:  What was it he called those young ladies..."painted Jezebels"
Tanya:  What's a Jezebel?
Peyote:  Don't forget when we got trapped in the dungeons of the Slave
Halbarad:  Those fools couldn't hold us for long.
Rob:  (nods, fondly remembering the old days and how much he's changed
  since then)
Belphanior:  Speaking of slaves, I'll never forget how we took on an
  entire kingdom, more or less, and liberated thousands of slaves.
Mongo:  What about that time in the sky balloon, when the dragon brought
  us down?
Alindyar:  That entire Sea of Dust business was fairly amazing.
Rillen:  As was that alternate world we ended up in afterwards.  All of
  our duplicates...
Belphanior:  An interesting place, that world.
Otto:  (smiles to himself, recalling the strange fog and the town where
  he and Belphanior first crossed paths, unbeknownst to the others)
Mongo:  Boy, we've sure had some enemies...foes great and small.  Cynder,
  the iron dwarf...we never _did_ find out what makes that little guy
Belphanior:  Necros, Xusia, and their master, the big O.  (he shakes his
  head sadly)  And that battle in the Abyss...what a fray that was.
Alindyar:  'Tis one of the epics.
Belphanior:  And I'll never - ever - forget how our henchmen and other
  friends came to rescue us from the isle of Necros.
Bosco:  Aw, you would've done the same thing in our shoes.
Gorin:  None of us are the sort to leave good friends to rot in some
  stinking dungeon - no matter what the risk.
Nenya:  That was perhaps the greatest adventure I've ever been on, risk
  or no.
Deryck: was a good one.
Arnold:  Remember how we regained our stuff and Mongo burst out of that
  iron maiden?
Mongo:  Hah.
Bosco:  Man, you were _pissed_!
Mongo:  We all were...and we made those bastards pay.
Lyra:  That we did.
Songa:  I'll never forget the isle of the ape...that was a challenging
  place, and I was proud to be tested there.
Belphanior:  Mongo got eaten by a gigantic lizard...heh hah.
Mongo:  (grins)  But not for long!
Peldor:  I wish Ged were here.  He'd enjoy this conversation.
Belphanior:  I like to think he is, in some shape or form.  (he looks
  around wistfully)
Arnold:  I'll never forget that time Ged caused me to turn green for a
Lorelei:  Eh?  You never told me about that.
Mongo:  That was the Underdark...when we romped through there for quite
  a while.  Weird place.
Peldor:  Remember that giant egg with legs, that I tried to control but
Bosco:  (scratching his head)  I don't remember that.
Rob:  Your soul was resting in the Elemental Plane of Water at the time.
Bosco:  Boy, I remember that!
Otto:  Giant egg?  Dinner for all, sounds like.
Peldor:  It wasn't that kind of egg.  It was metal.
Otto:  Oh.  I see.
Mongo:  And then when we finally emerged from that subterranean world
  and ended up at the mansion of that Baron Albert...where they were all
  actually undead, and the feast was a bunch of monsters that wanted to
  eat _us_!
Alindyar:  Aye...I wonder whatever became of the good Baron?
Belphanior:  Heh.
Rillen:  I can say without reservation that I am glad I met you all, and
  have not a single regret.
Arnold:  Me too.  If I hadn't bumped into Ged that one day, my life would
  be so different...
Peldor:  All of ours would, had we not met each other.
Rillen:  That's for sure.
Tanya:  (to Peldor)  They're right.  Demons, evil armies, shapeshifters,
  or whatever - none proved strong enough to break this all up.
Peldor:  (nods)

  They talked of past glories - of foes vanquished, challenges overcome,
quests fulfilled.  They talked of the funny times, and the sad ones, and
all those in-between.  They spoke of the many friends and allies they'd
encountered or worked with over the ten-year span.  They reminisced about
the fantastic places they'd seen and explored...fallen empires, sunken
dungeons, lost cities, undiscovered isles.  There was talk of wives, and
children, and what the future might hold...and what it might not.  They
even talked of the fallen companions of times past...

Belphanior:  (raises a glass)  Here's to Ged.
Peldor:  (raises his own glass)  To his incessant praise of Boccob.  (he
  sheds a single tear)  Damn, I miss Ged.
Belphanior:  We all do.
Peldor:  I daresay he was the finest priest of Boccob to ever walk the
  land with us.
Mongo:  (raises his glass too)  To Ged...and also to Flint Firelips, a
  hell of a kid...a hell of a warrior.
Alindyar:  Aye.

  One by one, they toasted all of those who had fallen over the years,
mentioning the unique things about those people that would cause their
memories to live on forever.  They also talked of friendships forged
during the decade.  Even those not present at the very beginning - Lyra,
Arnold, Rillen, Tanya, Bosco, Otto, Gorin - had become part of the group,
so that it seemed like they'd been there from day one.

Bosco:  When I'm old and settled down, I'm gonna write a book about all
  of this.
Tanya:  I'd buy it.
Bosco:  You would?
Peldor:  (winks at Tanya)  I wouldn't buy it, but I'd steal it.
Bosco:  Hey!
Belphanior:  (mumbling to himself)  I wonder...
Peldor:  Wonder what?
Belphanior:  I wonder if we're all going to meet here again in another
  ten years?
Peyote:  Who knows, dude?
Peldor:  I, for one, sure hope we do.
Rob:  Gods willing, we will.
Peldor:  I propose a second toast.  (he waits until everyone has raised
  their glasses)  To actually having _done_ something with our lives,
  instead of sitting around quietly, living a normal and boring life.
  (he looks around)  We really shook the pillars of the heavens, didn't
Alindyar:  That we did.
Belphanior:  (nods)  Boy, did we ever.
Mongo:  And another toast...maybe the most important one of all.
Rillen:  Eh?
Mongo:  (raises his glass)  To friends...friendship...and all the good
  that comes of that.  It makes life worth living and legends worth
all:  (raising their own glasses)  Yea!

next:      nope.
released:  1/25/02
notes:     This is the "The End" speech.

    It won't be short but it will be sweet.  I wrote this on the last
  night of 2001.  In fact, as I type this "notes" section, it's 2002
  and I'm watching New York's celebration on tv.  This is the first
  New Year's Eve in a long, long while where I wasn't out somewhere,
  with friends or girlfriends, celebrating.  I don't really mind - I
  got up early this morning, had a busy day, am tired, and didn't
  really want to be out there among the drunken drivers anyway.  Don't
  get me wrong - I could have gone to my choice of parties, and can
  think of three offhand - but I chose to just stay in this time.  I'm
  telling you all of this because it is fairly indicative of the way
  my year has gone:  too busy/tired from serious stuff to get out and
  have a lot of fun...and NOT CARING.  And this is relevant.

    I've said it already, a dozen times and in a dozen ways:  writing
  must stop.  The writing of the Adventurers must stop, because of the
  way its pace was off almost from the get-go and because most of the
  various characters are getting old.  Oh, I could write a thousand
  new episodes all about Belphanior and his continuing adventures -
  but doing that would ignore or downplay the other characters, which
  goes against logic.

    But there's another reason I have to stop.  It's not just writing
  Adventurers - it's writing, _period_.  For ten years, I've delivered
  the goods.  They might not always have been fresh or crunchy, but I
  delivered them.  Eight hundred episodes in ten years (even ignoring
  the 1.5 years I took sabbatical) is a lot, even if I wasn't keeping
  it all tied together and flowing in the right direction, which I was,
  because I always worked hard to keep continuity tight.  Writing is
  not easy; if you can't understand that, try writing ten episodes...
  a mere 100K of material.  Some of you have tried, but few made it
  very far.  I have the email to prove it, because you told me what
  I've known for many years now:  writing takes a tremendous toll.

    I am no longer willing to pay that toll.  The last time I took some
  time off, I had certain real-life goals to pursue.  I got some of them
  and missed others.  It's that kind of time again, except my goals now
  won't all fit into 2002 - some will go beyond.  I'd love to tell you
  that this is just a break, but I won't promise something I'm not sure
  I can deliver.  If I told you I'd write again, and I didn't, I would
  have broken my word to you - and I won't do that.  I don't deal in
  falseness - I say what I mean and I do what I say.

    So consider this the end.  I've shown you what they are all likely
  to do next.  I think that this - giving you fuel for your imagination -
  is far, far better than just ending the stories abruptly. will remain up and running, if a bit static.  I'm not
  taking anything away - I'm just not giving any more.  The work will
  be there, along with all the FAQs and information and accessories.
  You can check there for post-Adventurers updates and other treats.
  My vaults are deep and you never know what I'll come up with.  The
  mailing list will also remain intact, and I will leave it as is; if
  you want to be removed or if your address changes, let me know and
  I'll take care of it.  If I put anything new up on I'll
  email the list to let its members know.

    As for me...well, I'll be around.  I'll be busy.  The difference is
  that instead of writing about people doing great things, _I_ will be
  doing great things.

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