Chapter #851

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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:           5/17/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the ship _Odyssey_, amidst the Solnor Ocean           +
+   Climate:        chilly                                                +
+   "I don't know what we'll find, but getting there is the only way      +
+    we'll ever know."                                                    +
+                                              - from _Damnation Alley_   +

                        DCCCLI.  Off the Map

  More than a week has passed since the battle with the three ships, and
much has happened since then.

Rillen:  (standing on deck, he surveys the waves, which seem to go on
  forever in all directions)

  The damage to the _Odyssey_ had been repaired using spare supplies as
well as wood scavenged from the wrecked enemy ships.  The wounded had been
tended to, and were healing.  Losses from the battle amounted to several
dozen, including a few of the wizards and priests; while this didn't have
a major impact on the quest, it was still regrettable.
  Kiel had placed the questioning of the two dozen prisoners (or at least
the second mate) as a top priority, along with repairs and healing.  While
the other prisoners were only soldiers (orcs and humans both) this man had
been sure to know something about who sent the three warships, and why.
Rillen remembered the questioning, which had been headed up by Kiel but
had also included the other officers as well as all adventurers on board.

  Kiel:  Okay, friend, it's time for you to talk.
  second mate:  And if I don't?
  Kiel:  Uh-
  Halbarad:  If you don't, you'll be executed, and we'll move on to the
    next prisoner.
  Kiel:  (looks a bit confused)
  Halbarad:  (stands up, his axe held in one hand, and glares at the man)
    We're not going to torture you - that's a different game than we play
    around here.  But we need to know who sent you, because the safety
    of everyone aboard this ship depends on it.  (he nods to Kiel)  No
    one in their right mind would place the welfare of a couple dozen
    enemy prisoners above the welfare of several hundred crew members and
  Kiel:  (sighs)  I suppose you're right.
  second mate:  And if I talk...what happens after?
  Kiel:  I suppose we'll put you and your companions aboard one of our
    boats, and set you adrift to find your way back to the mainland.
  Rillen:  (chuckles)
  second mate:  That's a death sentence, and you know it!  Even if we
    knew exactly which direction to go, the orcs would revolt and eat
    the men within a week!
  Kiel:  (to Halbarad)  He has a point.
  Halbarad:  The orcs need to die anyway.
  Og:  (clenches his fists)  Yeah.
  Kiel:  Maybe we could put the orcs on one boat, and the men on another.
  Halbarad:  Maybe the orcs could get dumped in the ocean to fend for
  Peyote:  (to Daffodil)  I wonder if there's any sort of druidic magic
    that works in ocean environments.
  Daffodil:  Aquatic druids?
  Peyote:  Why not?
  Daffodil:  No way.  That doesn't make any real sense...and besides, my
    father would have told me if such things existed.
  Kiel:  Ahem.
  Peyote:  Oh, sorry.
  Kiel:  To the matter at hand...what shall we do here and now?
  Halbarad:  I say we kill all the foes.  They attacked us once, and given
    the time and opportunity, they'll do it again.
  Kiel:  I was actually favoring the boat idea-
  second mate:  To hell with all that!  (he stands up, shaking his bound
    hands in front of him)  I never liked my old mission anyway, nor the
    people in charge!  I was just in it for some quick money, and because
    I knew how to tie down a sail and lay an anchor, they made me a second
    mate.  Well, that was then and this is now!  Here's the deal:  keep
    me on board, along with the humans.  They're all decent, hardworking
    men, with no real allegiance to our former employers.  We'll work
    without pay, given the alternative of death.
  Halbarad:  And the orcs?
  second mate:  I don't care what you do with the orcs.  They were just
    muscle anyway, brought on board for the fight.
  Kiel:  Aha, so there _was_ a greater plan behind all of that.
  second mate:  Wouldn't you like to know?
  Halbarad:  (grimaces)
  second mate:  Anyway, that's my offer.  It's fair and it's a win for
    both sides.  What do you say?
  Kiel:  Done.  (he looks around)  Let me point out that there are several
    experienced spellcasters in this room, and they will know if you lie,
    or even if you stretch the truth a little bit.
  second mate:  No problem - a deal's a deal.  (he sits back down)  Okay,
    here's the story...

  So it was that they'd learned of the Scarlet Brotherhood's scheme, to
intercept the _Odyssey_ and stop its mission.  The second mate had given
details of the ships, the preparation, the departure, battle tactics,
and even a few details that no one had thought about (like the golems
that had been below-decks, never getting the chance to participate in the
ocean battle.)  The second mate didn't know why anyone high up in the
Scarlet Brotherhood would want to see this mission fail, but as far as
he had seen, none of their wizards had escaped by flying or teleportation
during the battle.  They had, he said, seemed to possess a certain zeal
for their assigned mission, and only death had put an end to this great
  As for the orcs, they'd sealed their own fate by breaking out of the
ship's brig and swarming across the _Odyssey_ with whatever improvised
weapons they'd been able to find.  After a brief but fierce fight, they
had been slain, without any survivors.  This had solved the problem of
what to do with them, and about half of the human prisoners had also
participated in the skirmish, and also been slain.  This left a total of
seven surviving foes, counting the second mate.  After the deal had been
explained to them, and they'd been questioned using words and magic, it
had been determined that they would honor their word.  For the past few
days, they had been assigned to menial, non-critical tasks under close
supervision and an implied threat if they caused any trouble.
  Meanwhile, the _Odyssey_ continued sailing to the east, and as of this
morning, was officially beyond the edge of any known map.  The captain
and navigator's held the ship to its course (due east) using the stars as
well as divination magic.  That same divination magic, however, revealed
nothing about what lay ahead.  Peyote had been most upset to find that
even the great Obad-Hai offered no answers on that front.

Songa:  (joins Rillen)  Well, we did it.
Rillen:  Eh?  Did what?
Songa:  Got away from everything familiar.
Rillen:  True, but this isn't a vacation.
Songa:  (shrugs)  It is what we make of it.  Civilization, along with all
  its laws and problems, was bothering us.  So, we've left it behind.  If
  that's not a vacation, I don't know what is.
Rillen:  Point.
Daffodil:  (wanders over to the couple)  I sense that you two aren't sure
  if you did the right thing or not.
Songa:  We think we did, as long as there's land out there...somewhere.
  (she points to the distant horizon, where the ocean's waters become a
  blue blur)  If there's nothing but water ahead for the next year, then
  we're in trouble.
Daffodil:  Oh, that's impossible.
Rillen:  It is?  Why?  If you don't mind my asking.
Daffodil:  Sages and astrologers have done calculations, based on the
  positions of the stars and fixed points on the Oerik continent.  If
  we kept sailing but found no land, we'd eventually hit the far western
  edge of Oerik, and in less than a year.
Rillen:  Hmm.
Songa:  Is that what people think is out there - a vast ocean with no
Daffodil:  No.  It's commonly held that other continents lie to the east,
  beyond the Solnor Ocean.  It's just that...well...
Rillen:  No one has ever ventured that far.
Daffodil:  Or at least not ventured that far and returned to tell of it.
  That's the purpose of this voyage, its ship and crew:  to stack the
  deck in our favor for that time when we face the unknown.
Songa:  (cracks her knuckles)  That's what spears and swords are for.

  The three adventurers stood at the bow of the great ship, staring out
at the vast ocean ahead, wondering exactly what mysteries and challenges
were out there waiting for them.

next:      stormy weather
released:  12/17/04
notes:     I promise that I'll try to get this arc (and the Greyspire arc)
  to a stopping point before I go back to Belphanior.  As I've mentioned
  before, I prefer writing Belphanior stories.  This group isn't as easy
  for me, or as fun (though I do give it a serious effort.)

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