Chapter #839

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                                   +   +
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                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     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 Ehlonna                    +
+   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)             +
+   Date:           5/9/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the ship _Odyssey_, amidst the Solnor Ocean           +
+   Climate:        warm and clear                                        +
+   "People with this kind of firepower do not make mistakes about        +
+    who they visit."                                                     +
+                                              - from _The Transporter_   +

                  DCCCXXXIX.  Magic on the Water

  An apparent challenge - bloody and direct - has just been issued from
afar, where three warships lurk...

Peyote:  Whoa.

  The bloody head slowed as it neared the _Odyssey_, landing roughly on
the deck and then bouncing a couple of times.

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.
Songa:  (eyeing the severed head)  What about that thing?
Leila:  It could be enchanted now, some kind of trap.  Perhaps we'd best
  destroy it-

  The severed head suddenly burst into flames, quickly becoming a pile
of gray ash on the deck.

Peyote:  Whoa!
Leila:  Whoever's on those ships, they have wizards.
Rillen:  And they don't mean well.
Halbarad:  (hefting his battleaxe)  Good.  I'm long past due for some
  battle.  Especially with wizards.  (to Leila)  No offense meant, of
Leila:  None taken.

  Preparations were made for battle.  The soldiers manned their ballistae
and catapults, or readied their longbows.  The wizards instead prepared
spells, their efforts geared toward a magic-heavy fight against other

Thorlok:  (completes an enchantment on a catapult missile)  There.  This
  rock shall explode into flames upon impact.  Choose your target wisely
  and accurately.
catapult triggerman:  (eyeing the rock, which is smoking slightly)  Uh...
other wizard:  (flipping through his spellbook, he mumbles incoherently
  to himself)
third wizard:  (holding two wands in his hands, he looks back and forth
  between them, unable to decide)
Rillen:  (to Songa)  I wonder where Belphanior is, and what he's up to
  right now?  He sure would come in handy at a time like this.
Songa:  (shaking her head)  Belphanior would destroy the enemies, and do
  it as violently as possible.  (she frowns)  Hmm, I see your point.
Rillen:  Heh.
Leila:  (moving about, she checks with the various wizards, coordinating
  their upcoming efforts and plans)

  It didn't take long for the fighting to begin.  As the three ships got
closer, a blazing fireball was launched from one of them; it grew in size
as it neared the _Odyssey_.  A chubby wizard - one of two who Leila had
tasked with defending the ship against exactly this sort of attack - put
a cone of cold into the air.  The icy blast intercepted the fireball, and
they cancelled each other out in a great blast of steam.

Peyote:  Aaah!  If that'd been closer, we'd all have been baked like
Leila:  Better than getting hit by the fireball.  (she launches a great
  bolt of lightning toward the nearest of the enemy ships)

  From here, it was impossible to tell exactly how how the lightning was
deflected, but before it could strike the enemy vessel, it arced off to
one side, vanishing harmlessly into the ocean water.

Halbarad:  (wondering if some unlucky fish just got fried)
Songa:'s too bad we can't get onto one of those ships and fight
  the foes at close range.
Leila:  If they get close enough, you can...but until then, I'd advise
  waiting.  (she gestures at a volley of magical flame-arrows that just
  got launched by one of the _Odyssey_'s wizards)  This battle might very
  well be won from afar.
Rillen:  Maybe.  (he raises his longbow and fires an arrow, watching it
  fall short of the nearest enemy)  We shall see.

  Things quickly got chaotic.  The catapult crews began to launch their
missiles, and Thorlok's tactic proved successful:  one of the miniature
boulders he'd enchanted struck a ship just below the railing, exploding
and sending wood and fire everywhere.

Peyote:  Holy shit!
Daffodil:  Did they not think to have defenses in place against such an
Thorlok:  That is hard to say.  Perhaps they assumed we'd use spells for
  our attack, or perhaps they failed to raise protections against missiles
  that bear an enchantment.
Rillen:  It may not matter now.  Look.

  The fires were dying down, no doubt extinguished on-site by one or more
enemy wizards.  Still, the damage was significant - a ten-foot-side hole
gaped in the other ship's hull, some twenty feet above the waterline.

Halbarad:  Those are big ships...not quite as big as us, but still good-
  sized war galleons, and well-outfitted at that.

  The other two ships had maneuvered so that they were on either side of
the _Odyssey_, and now they launched all sorts of missiles.  Arrows and
bolts from single attackers mixed with larger missiles from war-engines,
as well as magical missiles, fire-bolts, lightning, and such.  Though the
_Odyssey_ was larger and probably had more crew, it was boxed in.

Leila:  Gods be damned - look!

  Some enemy had hit the ship's vicinity with a powerful spell of cold,
for the ocean near the _Odyssey_ began to freeze solid.  The effect began
about a hundred feet to starboard, but quickly spread outward.  Within
moments, the ship was held fast, stuck in a thick, frozen ice-shelf on
all sides!  They could feel the cold, rising from the frozen water below
in almost-tangible waves.

Kiel Morgan:  Damn.
Thorlok:  A rather creative use of Otiluke's freezing sphere, this.
Rillen:  Enough talk!  (he fires another arrow, which misses its target
  on the nearest attacking ship but still sends its crew scattering)  We
  need to fight, not talk!

  All was not lost, though.  Even though the enemy ships were well out of
range of their own ice-attack, they were still susceptible to spells from
the wizards aboard the _Odyssey_.  The water beneath the nearest ship
churned and hissed...and then vanished!  The sudden gap in the water was
filled by two things:  the ship above (which dropped straight down about
forty feet) and the water on all sides (which rushed in even as the ship
dropped.)  The vessel was, of course, instantly and fully capsized.

Leila:  (shakes a fist in the air)  Yea!
Songa:  What just happened?
Peyote:  I'd guess a water-to-dust spell, focused right underneath that
  ship.  (he grins)  Cool.
Daffodil:  (working a spell and chanting in some weird druidic cant)
Peyote:  What are you up to, babe?
Daffodil:  Watch and see.

  From the deck of one of the other enemy ships, grass and vines began to
sprout, tangling the feet of the crewmen and warriors.  This caused quite
a bit of confusion, as men tripped all over the place.

Daffodil:  Heh.
Peyote:  Whoa...way to contribute to the chaos level over there.
Daffodil:  Whatever their defenses, they don't seem to be geared toward
  our sort of magic.
Peyote:  "Our" sort?
Daffodil:  Druidic magic.
Peyote:  Oh.  Oh, yeah.  (he begins spellcasting)

  Meanwhile, Relmar had conjured into being a huge spiritual mace, which
he was using to smash catapults and ballistae on the third attacking ship.
Validor, the sage and astrologer, was merely watching all the magic and
fighting, smiling faintly.

Songa:  You!  Why don't you do something?
Validor:  My dear, I'm afraid that my expertise and magic are oriented
  toward the stars and the seas, not combat.
Songa:  You mean you don't fight?
Validor:  Not especially-
Songa:  Then get down!  (she grabs the old man and pulls him to the deck
  as a crackling flame-arrow whizzes by overhead)

  All was chaos.  Arrows flew all over the place, often hitting either
their intended targets or else random people.  Similarly, magic of all
kinds was launched by both sides - fire, ice, lightning, acid...tangible
but artificial bludgeons and spikes, hammers and nets...magic to hasten
allies and encumber foes...sleep magic, charm magic, poison gas, and so
on.  People on both the _Odyssey_ and the two enemy ships were being
wounded or dying at every turn.
  As for the _Odyssey_, several of the ship's wizards and priests were
working to get it freed from the ice; one worked a spell of heat without
flames, to melt the ice, while another tried to crack and weaken the ice
using magic missiles.  Relmar even joined in with his spiritual mace,
pounding the frozen water around the ship.

Validor:  Stop!  All of you stop!
Relmar:  Eh?  Why?
Validor:  Our ship alone is perfectly buoyant, but the ice-block frozen
  onto it is not!  If we don't remove the ice evenly, we're liable to
  flip over - just like a lopsided iceberg, or ship.
Leila:  (blinks)  Damn, he's right.
Halbarad:  I'd have never thought of that.
Relmar:  It makes sense.  (he begins chanting to Pelor, his hands glowing
Peyote:  Hey!  What are you doing, fellow?
Relmar:  I mean to get us out of this ice.

  The middle-aged high priest with the white hair and ponytail was one
of the most powerful followers of Pelor, god of sun and light.  Like many
of his power level, he had access to unique, special magicks within his
deity's sphere of influence...

Relmar:  (leans over the rail, pointing to the ice around the ship)

  The ice began to hiss...and then melt!  Better yet, this was happening
to all of it at once, all around the _Odyssey_.  Steam quickly rose and
obscured everything.

Leila:  (has the presence of mind to summon a shimmering barrier between
  the high priest and the nearest enemy ship, just as a rain of arrows
  and fiery bolts whizzes through the steam at the man)
Relmar:  My thanks.
Leila:  No problem.  (she feels the ship shift beneath her feet)  I think
  your magic worked.
Relmar:  Of course it worked.  (he watches as the steam clears)

  Things seemed to be going well...and then, a metal hook with several
sharp spikes swung across the water, imbedding itself in the deck of the
_Odyssey_ with a dull "thunk."  The grapple was tied to a thick rope,
which trailed off to one of the two attacking ships that remained.  A
moment later, a second grappling hook swung over...and then a third!  Men
rushed to cut the ropes, but their blades didn't have any effect.

Leila:  The ropes must be enchanted.  (she frowns)  Hell.
Og:  (bellowing loudly)  Warriors, stand ready!  They mean to board us!

next:      the battle gets up close and personal
released:  9/24/04
notes:     What I'm trying to do here is offer some waterborne battle
  like in _Master and Commander_, but with magic thrown in.

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