Chapter #840

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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                                        +
+   "How do you like your choices?"                                       +
+   "I don't."                                                            +
+                                                    - from _The Rock_    +

                     DCCCXL.  War on the Water

  One of the three attacking ships has been sunk, and the _Odyssey_ is
free of the frozen section of ocean.  However, a new threat now shows
itself, as grappling hooks from one of the enemy ships pull it toward
the _Odyssey_...

Og:  (bellowing loudly)  Warriors, stand ready!  They mean to board us!
Halbarad:  (readying his weapons)  And I mean to stop them.

  It was sheer insanity.  As the ships drew closer, the adventurers saw
that several huge trolls had hold of the ropes, which were knotted on
the other end.  This explained why the grappling had been so fast and
successful, even though none of the attacking warships were quite as
big as the _Odyssey_.  A knot of armored soldiers protected each troll,
using large shields to deflect missiles.

Rillen:  I think I can thread one through those shields...(he raises
  his longbow, aims, and fires an arrow, which splits in two thanks to
  his magical bow)
troll #3:  (hit in the chest by both shafts, it looks confused)  Gurk.
Songa:  That thing's tough.
Leila:  Let's try this.  (she launches a small, blazing ball of fire,
  which arcs toward the troll)

  One of the monster's protectors stopped the fire-missile with his
shield, but it exploded, showering him, his companions, and the troll
with fierce flames.

Leila:  Heh.
Rillen:  That helped, but not enough - there are too many trolls.
Leila:  A fireball - a real one - would just get our ship too.
Songa:  Then it's down to weapons.  (she readies her spear)

  When the gap between the two ships was reduced to ten feet, dozens of
foes jumped across, weapons flashing as they landed on the desk of the
_Odyssey_.  These enemies weren't armored, since they needed to be light
to make that initial attack; in fact, they weren't even men, but rather

Halbarad:  (grimly)  Too bad for them.  (he leaps forth, chopping at an
  orc with his axe)
orc #1:  (having just landed and gained its footing, it has no time to
  move or block the attack, and falls with a split helm and cleft head)
Halbarad:  (using his dagger, he stabs at another orc, slashing its
  sword-arm)  Die!
orc #2:  Argh!  (it backs up, clutching its wounded arm)
Peyote:  Have at you!  (he steps forward, his bastard sword swinging)
orc #2:  (hit in the chest, it falls back, bleeding)  Urgh...(its legs
  hit the rail, and it topples backward, falling overboard)  Aaaaa...
Daffodil:  "Have at you?"
Peyote:  (grinning)  I always wanted to say that.
Songa:  You people talk too much.  (she uses her spear's metal point to
  intercept an orc as it tries to leap aboard, impaling it in midair)
orc #3:  Ghak!
Songa:  (swings the unfortunate humanoid to one side, battering a fourth
  orc off the ship)
orc #4:  (falling)  Aaaaaaa...
Songa:  (placing her foot firmly on the orc's chest, she tears her spear
  free in a spray of blood and gore)
orc #4:  (dying, he babbles incoherently as the warrior-woman kicks him
orc #5:  (gets the spear-butt in the face, resulting in a broken jaw)
Songa:  (flips her weapon around, using the haft to swat the attacker
  and knock him overboard)
orc #5:  Aaaaaa...
Daffodil:  That's a good sound.  (she uses her magic staff, Thornbolt,
  to bash another foe across its face)

  The adventurers were not, of course, the only people fighting to
defend the _Odyssey_.  The dwarven general Og was leading his troops
into the battle, all along the rail that faced the enemy ship.  These
men - all veterans and skilled warriors - met the enemy toe-to-toe as
boarding efforts continued.  Sometimes, the orcs were repelled before
making it onto the ship.  Other times, they got through and had to be
fought directly.  So far, though, the humanoids hadn't established any

Og:  (backhands an orc with his axe, sending it crashing into two others
  and bringing all three down, where they are quickly surrounded and
  finished off)  Keep at them!  They're just orcs!
soldier:  (falls under a savage sword-blow from a large orc)
large orc:  Haaar!
Og:  (charges the foe, driving it back with his wildly-swinging axe)

  While the dwarven general led from the front and inspired his troops
by his own example, not all of the fighting was up close and personal.

Eyer:  (perched in a crows-nest, he fires arrow after arrow into the
  battle below)
orc #15:  (hit through the eye)  Ack!  (it falls, clutching at the
orc #16:  (hit in the forearm, it drops its sword and is quickly slain
  by defenders)
orc #17:  (takes an arrow in the chest, and drops, screaming)
Rillen:  That's some damn good shooting from up there.
Halbarad:  The elf is a fine archer.
orc #22:  (breaks through the defenders and reaches the base of the
  crows-nest, where Eyer is unable to fire arrows)  Har!  (it grabs
  the mast and begins climbing, a curved knife between its teeth)
Songa:  (impales the orc with her spear, flinging it into a mob of its
  brethren)  You're no pirate.
random soldier:  (cuts down another orc that tries to leap onto the
  crows-nest pole)
orc #19:  (falls, bleeding from its neck)  Ghak!
Eyer:  (from above)  Thanks!

  Magic, too, was a factor in this conflict.  Neither side could use
large-scale firepower (such as fireballs and lightning bolts) due to
the proximity of the two ships, but magic missiles and acid bolts flew
between the two sides.

Halbarad:  (cuts down an orc)  And good riddance.  (he looks up, then
  watches, unamused, as a magic missile heads right toward him...and
  then fizzles out)

  Indirect spells also played a role.  To one side, an entire group
of orcs was fighting at accelerated speed thanks to a haste spell.
Aboard the attacking ship, a pocket of crewmen lay sprawled on deck,
thanks to a sleep spell.  It was other magic, though, that would prove
critical to the ending of the battle...

Daffodil:  (to Peyote)  Cover me!
Peyote:  (shatters an orc's sword with a swing of his own weapon, then
  kicks the humanoid away)  Gotcha!
Daffodil:  (pointing her enchanted staff Thornbolt at the enemy ship,
  she begins chanting in an ancient druidic cant)

  At first, nothing seemed to happen...and then a loud POP could be
heard from within the other vessel.  Then, suddenly, one of its deck-
planks twisted and sprung loose.  As orcish crewmen scampered about,
confused, the ship's deck  began to twist and come apart, nails popping
loose as individual planks bent and bowed in unnatural ways.

Peyote:  Right on, babe!
Daffodil:  I'm not done yet.  (waving Thornbolt to and fro, she watches
  with satisfaction as the attacking ship lists to one side, its hull
  badly warped and leaking)

  The powerful attack had done its job, and taken a toll.  Orcs fell
into the ocean, and those on board the _Odyssey_ realized the direness
of their side, as all hope of backup or retreat tilted in the water,
slowly sinking.  The orcs fought with renewed vigor, mounting a last-
ditch, desperate attack.  However, the adventurers' side had too many
skilled warriors and magi, and the outcome was inevitable.

Leila:  (blasts an enemy wizard out of the sky with a volley of ice-
  bolts)  Get their spellcasters!  The orcs are helpless, but their
  wizards and such can still cause us trouble!
huge orc:  (bearing down on the elven sorceress)  Grrr...I smash you!
Kiel Morgan:  (steps between the two)  Not today, brute.  (he hefts a
  silvery shortsword, eyeing the creature)  Jump overboard now, or come
  and die.  I don't much care.

  Infuriated, the orc charged, axe swinging in great arcs.  Kiel was
no novice, though; he held his ground, stepped to one side at the last
possible moment, and drove his sword-point through the foe's neck in
a single fluid motion.

huge orc:  (falls, gurgling as blood spurts from its pierced neck)
Kiel Morgan:  (to Leila)  Carry on.
Leila:  Thanks.
Halbarad:  (cuts down another orcish attacker, then turns toward some
  nearby commotion)  Hmm?

  An enemy wizard had landed on the deck of the _Odyssey_, after using
a spell to clear away a dozen defenders (and a few unfortunate orcs.)
The fellow was already working another spell, and seemed to be eyeing
the vicinity of Leila and Kiel, among others.

Halbarad:  (hefts his weapons, and charges the wizard)
enemy wizard:  Eh?  (he sees the attacking ranger, and turns his spell
  that way, unleashing a cloud of fire that bears down on Halbarad,
  igniting the deck as it moves)

  The ranger didn't even blink, charging right into the fire-cloud to
get to the enemy wizard.  The flames fizzled out as they touched his
body, and the foe was taken off-guard.

enemy wizard:  What?!?  (clumsily trying to work another spell, he
  doesn't make it)
Halbarad:  (splits the man's head with his axe, then stabs him in the
  heart with his dagger)
enemy wizard:  (falls, surprised and dying)
Halbarad:  (to some nearby crewmen who are gawking)  Get some water
  and douse those flames!  I'll hold off any orcs around you.  (seeing
  one such foe, he hefts his axe and charges in that direction)

  The third attacking ship was now retreating, its commanders having
apparently decided to cut their losses.  Its sails were up and full
of a sudden wind, but Daffodil fixed that with a wall of thorns that
sprung up all over the mainsail and its crewmen.  Before the foes
could react to this, the war-mage Thorlok launched an immense fireball
which hit the enemy vessel amidships, exploding with such force that
the ship was broken in two, both halves burning fiercely.  In a matter
of moments, only chunks of floating wreckage - some of it still aflame
somehow - and bobbing, charred corpses were all that remained.

Kiel Morgan:  Whew.  (he looks around)  We'll need to mop things up
  here...damage reports, casualties, enemy survivors - as soon as we

  They soon learned that there actually was quite a bit of damage, both
to the ship and its crew.  Every single sail had been either destroyed
or damaged; fortunately, there were spares in the hold which could be
rigged while the damaged ones were repaired.  Numerous parts of the main
deck, its rail, the castles, and the masts were smashed or burned; while
the _Odyssey_ carried some wood for repairs of this sort, it wasn't yet
clear whether this would be enough.

Kiel Morgan:  We may have to scavenge driftwood from the enemy ships.
Leila:  And employ magic to help mend the damage.

  As for casualties, there were many:  several dozen, both crewmen and
soldiers, as well as a few of the wizards and priests.  Many more people
were wounded, and these were tended to as best as possible, according
to the severity of their wounds.  Since the various skilled tradesmen
(and their families) had stayed below decks, these people were unharmed
and now pitched in to help with damage control and care of the wounded.
  There weren't many enemy survivors in the water; most of the enemy
had been slain in the melee, by missiles, or simply blown to bits by
the spells employed in the fighting.  Of all the enemies aboard those
ships, only the trolls had survived; though some had been incinerated
by fireballs or acid, several had made it out alive, all of their
wounds healing.  Unfortunately for them, they were too heavy to float
and didn't know how to swim, so most sunk like rocks.  One was seen
clinging to driftwood, while another used a stray grappling line to
try and climb aboard the _Odyssey_ and wreak havoc; both of these foes
were summarily destroyed by the wizards.
  A total of two dozen foes were pulled from the water before the sharks
began feasting.  About half of these were orcish soldiers, while the
rest were crewmen; apparently no wizards had survived.  The highest-
ranking of the enemies - a second mate - was singled out for questioning
later, and the entire lot was secured and marched away to the brig.

Daffodil:  (muttering to herself)  We have a brig?
Halbarad:  (eyes the orcs uneasily, as they are bound and led away)  I
  don't like this.  There's no reason to keep those scum aboard.
Og:  (pointing at the lined-up corpses of his dead troops)  Damn right!
  Those orcs don't deserve to live, not after that battle!
Kiel Morgan:  You'd have me execute them?
Halbarad:  I don't know, but I'll tell you one thing:  if they cause
  trouble or get free, they'll become shark food.
Peyote:  Gnarly.
Eyer:  (longbow slung over his shoulder, he has climbed down from the
  crows' nest and is walking the deck and surveying the carnage)
Rillen:  (nods to the elf)  Nice shooting up there.
Eyer:  Thanks.  I couldn't have done it without you people defending,
  down here.  The targets were easy to pick out.
Leila:  I think the druidic magic helped win the day, too.  That wood-
  warping spell was a turning point.
Daffodil:  (shrugs, smiling)  Thank Thornbolt, then.  (she nods to her
  wooden staff)
Thornbolt:  (speaking in a strong female voice)  It was nothing.  All
  for Obad-Hai.
Rillen:  (wonders to himself about the peculiarities of intelligent,
  talking weapons)  Hmm.
Songa:  Isn't anybody wondering who sent those three ships, and why?
Leila:  Definitely.  We'll need to question that second mate at some
  point, to hopefully get some answers.
Kiel Morgan:  We will, as soon as we get a chance.  (he looks around)
  After, that is, we get all of this cleaned up, get repairs underway,
  and get moving again.

next:      this arc pauses as we return to the mystery of Greyspire
released:  10/1/04
notes:     This episode wasn't intended to be the greatest waterborne
  battle ever, or anything like that.  I'm just trying to showcase the
  talents of the various adventurers on board the _Odyssey_, and give
  an example of their teamwork.  They'll likely need all of this, where
  they're going...

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