Chapter #838

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +
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+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2004 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!                                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Daffodil        11th level human druidess of Obad-Hai                 +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger of Elhonna                    +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid of Obad-Hai  +
+   Rillen          18th level human warrior monk                         +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+                                                                         +
+   Eyer            13th/16th level wood elven fighter/acrobat            +
+   Leila           12th/12th level female grey elven warrior/mage        +
+   Kiel Morgan     14th level human warrior                              +
+   Og              16th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Relmar          18th level human high priest of Pelor                 +
+   Thorlok         11th level human war-mage                             +
+   Validor         11th level human wizard (sage/astrologer)             +
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+   Date:           5/9/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the ship _Odyssey_, amidst the Solnor Ocean           +
+   Climate:        warm and clear                                        +
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+   "A war put off is not a war avoided."                                 +
+                                                   - Charlton Heston     +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    DCCCXXXVIII.  Interception





  The gigantic _Odyssey_ cut through the sea, her multiple sails taking
in a great deal of wind and propelling her through the water at a high
rate of speed.

Rillen:  (standing on the deck, watching the ocean spray)  It's been a
  while since we saw land.
Songa:  Two weeks.  (she looks around)  Things are getting boring around
  here.

  To be sure, the warrior-woman had already beaten most of the crew -
all those who would try, at any rate - in various tests of strength or
skill.  Rillen had busied himself with meditation, exercises, and quite
a bit of practice with his fighting arts.  One never knew when hand-to-
hand combat would be needed, and the strange looks of the crewmen never
even gave the big warrior pause.  Songa was right, though:  the voyage,
which had seemed fantastic and exciting in theory, had become repetitive
a few days after they'd last left port.
  As planned, the ship had stopped for supplies at Lendore Isle, where
it had been regarded with both wonder and suspicion.  The general crew
had not been allowed any shore leave there, as Kiel had wanted a quick
turnaround time and the natives were neutral at best.  After leaving the
Spindrifts, the _Odyssey_ had sailed eastward, into the southern reaches
of the Solnor Ocean.  Conventional maps referred to the ocean just east
of Aerdy as the Solnor, but the truth was that it extended southward, to
the Spindrifts and beyond.  To put it another way, no matter where on the
Oerik continent you stood, the Solnor was the last thing you would find
if you sailed east.
  The purpose of this voyage was to break that limitation, to learn what
lay beyond the seemingly endless Solnor Ocean.  Though everyone on board
knew that this voyage would last weeks, and probably months, that knowledge
did little to ease the days of continual movement and rocking as the ship
ventured further and further from its home.  The sun beat down, the air
was hot and humid below-decks, and there was no action.  Kiel's solution
to this was to keep everyone busy with cleaning and other maintenance
tasks.  Maintenance was almost as important as food provisioning on a
voyage of this scope and duration.
  Speaking of food, there was no shortage of foodstuffs - yet - thanks
to the immense cargo holds and magically-augmented conditions within them.
The foodstuffs were kept cool and dry, and some were also kept chilled.
As had been noted previously, if things really got bad, the priests could
conjure up food and drink - but nobody wanted to get to that point.  It
all really depended on one unknown factor:  how far they'd have to sail
before finding new, undiscovered land.
  The _Odyssey_ was able to avoid another common problem found on long
ocean voyages:  sickness and disease.  Thanks to the numerous priests on
board, any such problems (as well as wounds) could be treated promptly
and effectively.

  The next hurdle for the ship and its voyage came later that day, amid
calm seas and clear skies.  This particular challenge was one that had
been encountered before, but with a slight twist this time...

lookout:  Ship ho!  (he looks again)  Make that three ships!

  The other vessels were sailing on a tangential intercept course, and
would meet the _Odyssey_ in a few hours.  It was quickly determined that
they were warships, so a plan was hatched within the command cabin...

Kiel Morgan:  (to Leila)  Send a mage to scout things out.  He can stay
  invisible and fly over there, and try to learn their intentions.
Leila:  (nods)
Kiel Morgan:  Until we know more, let's stay alert.  If those ships are
  hostile, we don't need to worry about launching missiles or spells
  until they're closer anyway.  Just pass the word on - everyone needs
  to be ready.
Og:  (angrily punches the side of the cabin)  Damn it all!  This is no
  way to fight a battle-
Kiel Morgan:  (claps the grizzled dwarf on the shoulder)  I know, old
  friend...but we're at sea.  Swords and axes mean little in these sorts
  of fights.  Let your men know what's happening, and we'll see how it
  goes.
Og:  (grumbling, he nods)

  Within moments, a young mage was ready to scout the distant ships.  He
became invisible, vanishing from sight as he soared into the air.

young mage:  (speaking while unseen and somewhere just above the ship's
  deck)  I'll be back.
Leila:  Make it quick and simple - don't try to pick up any conversations
  or details.  Just see if they're armed for war, and get back to let us
  know.
young mage:  Aye.

  While they waited, they prepared.  Other wizards checked their spell-
books and prepared appropriate components for the spells that would be
most useful in the event of a battle.  Archers checked their bowstrings
and quivers.  Og's force of warriors finalized plans to repel boarders,
if it came to that.

Leila:  It won't come to that.  We have more than enough magi to crush
  any attackers from afar.  You've seen this already, with those other
  pirates.
Songa:  (shaking her head)  You depend on your spellcraft far too much.
  One of these days, there will come a situation in which all of this
  magic you hold so dear will be useless.
Rillen:  (cracks his knuckles)  That's why we're here, I think.
Halbarad:  Absolutely.  (he checks the edge on his battle-axe, finding
  it to be razor-sharp)  Mm.
Peyote:  We'll run afoul of no foul magic.
Songa:  (eyes the half-elf)  What?!?  What the hell did that mean?
Peyote:  Yep.
Daffodil:  (helpfully)  He's been eating mushrooms again.
Songa:  Bah.
Rillen:  (wondering what use a half-addled druid will be in any real
  sort of fight)

  Suddenly, a cry came from the lookout above...

lookout:  A missile approaches!

  Sure enough, a small object sailed through the air toward the ship.
Several wizards prepared spells, to shoot the thing out of the air if
necessary.  As it got closer, though, they all realized just how small
it actually was...

Leila:  By the gods...is that a _head_?
Halbarad:  (hefts his axe)  It is.

  The thing was sailing through the sky, dripping blood as it went; it
wasn't moving fast enough to present any real danger, from what they
could tell.

Rillen:  Want me to shoot it out of the sky?
Kiel Morgan:  Not yet.
Rillen:  (to Leila)  Because I could, you know.
Peyote:  Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

  The head slowed as it got near, and landed gently on the deck.

Daffodil:  Ugh.
Leila:  That's...

  The severed head belonged to the young wizard who had recently flown
away to scout the distant warships.  His eyes were glazed over in death,
his tongue hanging slackly to one side.

Halbarad:  (muttering)  This is a message, loud and clear.
Kiel:  (clenches his jaw)  Everyone, prepare for battle.





next:      attacked!
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
released:  9/17/04
notes:     Five months...it's been five months of real time since I last
  showed the events of this story arc.  Sorry about that.  Just realize
  that there are too many characters in my saga to allow me to keep all
  readers happy with whoever they want to see.  Some of you have continued
  to suggest, over the years, that I make story arcs that simply keep all
  of the characters together.  This just isn't possible; to demonstrate
  why, I'd liken it to someone who graduates high school and just stays
  in that city, hanging around with their friends, never moving on or
  growing in any way.  Change and dropping out of touch are inevitable;
  to tell you the truth, I never talk to most of the college friends who
  originally played the characters you're reading about.  It's just the
  way of life.
    If you need reminders about who's who on this ship, refer back to
  episode 814.
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