Chapter #880

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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       +
+   1991-2005 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:           7/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the unknown eastern reaches of the Solnor Ocean       +
+   Climate:        surprisingly cool                                     +
+   "A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a         +
+    life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it          +
+    will is sure to be short."                                           +
+                                                    - Bertrand Russell   +

                    DCCCLXXX.  A Bit of a Problem

  The great barrier has been breached, the new land has been found, and
boats have been sent ashore with people and supplies.  However, something
unusual is happening...

Rillen:  The ship's sailing right toward us.
Halbarad:  (looks up)  Whoa.
Leila:  What is Kiel doing?
Peyote:  Looks to me like he plans to run that ship right up onto the
Leila:  That's impossible...why?!?
Halbarad:  (to Rillen and some of the brawnier crew members)  I don't
  really know what Kiel's doing, but we'd best get these boats pulled up
  onto the beach.  Unless he stops, he's going to run aground and smash
  anything and anyone that's close to the water.

  The shore was cleared against a catastrophe that shouldn't have been
happening, and still seemed impossible...until the _Odyssey_ loomed ever
closer.  There was now no doubt in anyone's mind that the great ship was
going to run aground, right there on the beach.

Halbarad:  Back!  Everyone back!

  Just like that, it happened.  One moment, the ship was cutting through
the water, headed right toward them.  The next moment, it beached itself,
plowing a deep furrow into the sand, its bow grinding to a halt almost a
hundred feet out of the water.  Stuck in place, the huge ship was tilted
slightly to one side, looming above the heads of the bewildered shore

Leila:  (confused and angry, she almost leaps into the air, but then
  remembers that her magic still isn't working, so she shouts instead)
  Kiel Morgan!  What in the HELL are you doing?!?

  Faces began to appear on the main deck, over its rails; a rope was
thrown over, and several people began to descend.  The first of these
was a lithe elf; the second was a dazed-looking captain.

Eyer:  (deftly lowers himself down the rope, landing on the sandy beach)
  Any landing you can walk away from...
Kiel:  (sets foot on the beach a moment later, only to face a furious
Leila:  What in the name of the Nine Hells did you do that for?!?  The
  _Odyssey_ could be take weeks to repair...or it could be damaged beyond
Kiel:  Oh, I know that.  (he nods to Eyer)  Actually, it was his idea.
Eyer:  (shrugs)
Relmar:  (stabs a finger at the elf)  You?!?  You came up with the idea
  to beach the ship?!?  I knew you were reckless - I've known that for
  many years - but this is ridiculous!
Eyer: this.  (he steps toward the beached hull of the gigantic
  ship...and punches it)

  It was a rash move, and completely unexpected; these two facts helped
the elf make his point, as his bare fist smashed right through the wood
of the hull, sinking in all the way to the elbow.

Eyer:  (grimaces)  I deal in reality, my friend.
Leila:  (confused)  What...?
Kiel:  For some reason - we're not sure why - all wood is disintegrating
  here.  It could be something in the barrier, maybe something got onto
  the wood.  The boats, the _Odyssey_ itself...their hulls are decaying
  every moment.
Eyer:  (smirks)  The wood was disintegrating.  We had an hour, maybe,
  before the whole ship began to sink.  There was no way to offload all
  the supplies in that I had this idea about how to bring the
  supplies to the shore.  (he gestures to the ship which looms above
  them all)  Ta-da.
Rillen:  Clever...nobody has to swim, and we lose no supplies.
Halbarad:  (examines the ship's hull)  It's it's rotten, but
  it doesn't stink of rot.
Eyer:  I noticed that too.
Leila:  Now Peyote's comment about "screaming wood" makes more sense.
Songa:  Not a lot more sense, though...
Peyote:  I won't go so far as to say that the wood was in pain, but as
  a druidic sort, I definitely sensed its decay.
Validor:  (rubbing his chin)  Very interesting.
Kiel:  We'll need to hurry up, and get everything on board unloaded,
  before the ship falls apart.
Eyer:  You're right, but for the wrong reason.  This ship won't fall
Kiel:  Eh?
Eyer:  (takes a dagger and stabs the hull, the steel sinking into the
  damaged wood)  Rotten...or whatever.  (he sheathes the weapon, grabs
  the rope, climbs up twenty feet, then removes the dagger again and
  stabs the wood up above)  Solid, not decaying.
Halbarad:  (nods, as the elf descends back to the sandy beach)  The hull
  above wasn't in the water - that part was dry.
Eyer:  Yep.  I suspected it while I was climbing down and my feet hit
  the wood of the hull, at different points.  Whatever's causing the wood
  to disintegrate is in the water and works by contact.  I don't think it
  spreads to wood that didn't touch the water.
Kiel:  So the ship won't fall apart.
Eyer:  No, but its bottom will, and then the rest will collapse.  We need
  to hurry if we want to save the rest of the supplies.
Kiel:  And the wood from the upper portion.  We can use it later to build
  huts, fences, whatever.  (he begins giving orders, marshaling all of
  the hundreds of people into a powerful workforce)
Rillen:  My boots and pants were in the water...a lot of ours were.  Will
  this decay affect cloth, too?
Songa:  (chuckles)  If so, you've got about an hour to find something
  else to wear.

  Much was accomplished in a short time.  Every single person, whether
on the beach or the ship, was put to work.  All remaining supplies on
board were removed safely, and a huge quantity of wood was salvaged for
lumber, raw materials to build necessary things.

Rillen:  Except a boat.

  Sure enough, all wood that had come in contact with the local waters
decayed into nothingness.  In a few cases, the dry wood then sunk into
the water and also began to dissolve.  By dusk, all that remained of the
once-mighty _Odyssey_ was a gigantic heap of scrap wood on the beach.

Kiel:  Well, our voyage is over.
Halbarad:  But a new adventure begins now.
Peyote:  We'll have to seek out edible plants.
Daffodil:  And drinkable water.
Songa:  We must hunt wild game, whatever it may be.
Rillen:  Explore the jungle inland from the beach.
Leila:  Build a functioning society.
Og:  And defend it.
Relmar:  Without the use of any magic, and without contact with any of
  our deities.
Validor:  And all the while, try to understand the nature of that mist-
  barrier, the wood-eating waters around us, and whatever other unknown
  mysteries await us here.
Kiel:  (looks around)  As Halbarad said...a new adventure begins now.

next:      Belphanior, and an assessment of the gateway explorations
released:  7/8/05
notes:     As I said last time, they're going to be in this new land
  for quite some time.  I knew this would happen, months ago when I was
  putting together plot ideas and setting up the challenges.

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