Chapter #935

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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       +
+   1991-2006 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                             +
+                                                                         +
+   Dervan           9th level human ranger                               +
+   Eyer            13th/16th level wood elven fighter/acrobat            +
+   Leila           12th/12th level female grey elven warrior/mage        +
+   Relmar          18th level human high priest of Pelor                 +
+   Weaver           8th level human ranger                               +
+   Date:           7/18/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          an undiscovered continent far to the east             +
+   Climate:        hot and humid                                         +
+   "We had nothing to do with this."                                     +
+   "You had everything to do with this."                                 +
+                                                  - from _Dracula 2_     +

                    CMXXXV.  A Missed Encounter

  After leaving the main camp and setting out into the jungle, the
exploratory party found a wide river, which they have been following
for three days now...

Leila:  This will take weeks, eh?
Halbarad:  (shrugs)  If we headed straight overland, and ignored the
  river, it could take longer than that.  Besides, I truly believe that
  this river will take us to the mountains.
Relmar:  Or to some people.  I wonder why they would be avoiding us,
  though?  Surely they can't see us as a threat...ten people, none of
  whom can use any magic at the moment.
Leila:  But they can't possibly know that we're without our magic.
Eyer:  Think about it from their point of view:  they may never have
  seen any magic here, so that wouldn't factor into their decision to
  avoid us.  So that's not the reason.  Either they truly _are_ afraid
  of a small group of outsiders, or they just haven't decided to act.
Rillen:  Or they're under orders to stay away from us.
Songa:  (tightens her grip on her spear)  None of these, except for the
  first, are good for us.
Peyote:  Maybe we should go back...get more people?  Even a dozen bows
  or swords would help us immensely if the shit started flying.
Daffodil:  (looks a bit dubious)
Halbarad:  (shakes his head)  We've been over this.  We can't go back;
  not only would we have wasted the last four days, but we already made
  our plan and arranged things with Kiel and the others back at the main
  outpost.  They have plenty of work to do there, and we have plenty to
  do here.
Leila:  True, but it's quite a long time.  If something happened to us,
  they'd suspect nothing since we told them we'd be away for a month at
Halbarad:  Nothing is going to happen to us.  We may not have the crutch
  of magic, but we _are_ armed and experienced.  All we have to do is use
  our wits and senses, and-

  The ranger whirled about, one hand on the pommel of his battleaxe.
He wasn't the only one who'd heard the slight, distant snap of a small
branch - Eyer already had an arrow nocked, his bow half-pulled, and was
scanning the surrounding trees.  Songa had very quietly reversed her
grip on her spear, so that she could hurl it very quickly if need be.

Songa:  (quietly)  Ahead and to the left, maybe a hundred feet.
Rillen:  Just one?
Songa:  Can't tell - it's too far.  It could just be some animal, too.
Eyer:  I've got no clear shot, with these trees, and I can't see anyone.
Songa:  They're hiding.
Halbarad:  We have to decide - do we wait, or go after them?
Dervan:  Can we catch them?
Songa:  I'd guess that I can.  We have to think about whether there are
  more out there, whether this is a trap, or if we're just being tracked.

  The decision was taken out of their hands then, as whoever or whatever
was out there suddenly turned and fled, the commotion unmistakable even
at this distance.

Songa:  To hell with this.  (she puts the spear down and sprints away
  into the jungle)
Rillen:  Songa...!  (he runs after her)
Halbarad:  Damn.  (he darts into the trees as well)
Eyer:  No way I'm going to miss this.  (he leaps after the other two)
Relmar:  (sees everyone else pondering their next course of action, and
  steps forth, raising both hands)  No more.
Peyote:  Eh?
Relmar:  Four is already too many to chase an unknown party, and we
  certainly don't need to split our party further.
Daffodil:  But what else can we do?
Relmar:  We can stay right here, so that the others know exactly where
  we are, instead of having to go look for us later.  (he hefts his
  silver mace)  It would be advisable for us to prepare for a fight,
  though...just in case.
Weaver:  (nods)  Let's scout the immediate area, make sure nothing else
  is out there, check for hiding places and signs of foot traffic.

  Meanwhile, in the thick jungle, the chase was on.  Rillen was the first
to drop back and give up; while he was in excellent physical condition,
he was still a big man, and unaccustomed to rapid movement through thick
trees and foliage.  The others simply outpaced him, and he quit the chase
early, while he was still able to find his way back to the river and the

Rillen:  (returns, breathing hard and sweating)  This sort of tracking...
  is best those trained for it.
Peyote:  Amen, brother.
Leila:  Did you see anything?
Rillen:  (shakes his head)  Nothing.  I just wasn't fast enough.
Relmar:  Fear not.  If whatever was watching us can be caught, our
  companions will catch him...or it.
Daffodil:  (walking in circles, angrily)  Damn it all...
Peyote:  What's wrong?
Daffodil:  This blasted no-magic field.  If I had my magic - any one of
  a handful of easy spells - we'd be able to track and catch whatever's
  out there, easily, without a chase and without risk and without any
  complication.  Instead...we can't do anything.
Rillen:  Well, we can.  Don't forget about Songa and Halbarad and Eyer.

  Indeed, at that very moment, those three were racing through the
jungle, using every bit of their experience to follow their unknown
quarry.  It wasn't easy, especially given the foliage, fallen trees,
and other debris that littered the jungle floor and made it a highly
treacherous place in which to run at full speed.  Logs were hurdled,
rocks were avoided, bushes were sidestepped - all while the adventurers
had to also follow whoever they were chasing.  Even though each of them
took their own path in the chase, they kept close to one another.

Halbarad:  Songa!  Eyer!  Move out to the sides, so we can flank him!
Eyer:  Right!

  The chase continued for several minutes, then ended just as abruptly
as it had begun.  Each of the pursuers realized, in turn, that they had
lost the trail.  It didn't take them long to regroup and discuss the

Halbarad:  (sweating profusely)  Damn it.
Songa:  I don't know how anyone could have eluded us...all three of us.
Eyer:  Simple - whoever it was knows this jungle, and has been here for
  their entire life.
Halbarad:  They may also be faster runners than us.  (he sucks in great
  chestfuls of air)  Damn.
Songa:  Do we try and find a track to follow?
Halbarad:  I say no.  Even if we did, we'd never catch him...or her...
  or it.
Eyer:  Maybe it was just a big cat or something.
Halbarad:  We'll soon know; once we head back toward the river and the
  others, we can find the tracks of our escaped quarry.

  They had run quite a distance, and so it took them a while to get back
to their fellow explorers.

Relmar:  No luck?
Halbarad:  Not with catching him, anyway.
Peyote:  Him?
Songa:  We found tracks.  We're definitely dealing with people here.
Eyer:  Only one, this time...but some of the tracks we've found before
  hint at a larger group, maybe half a dozen.
Leila:  Why won't they approach us directly?  Why all this skulking in
  the distance?
Relmar:  Think about it:  we're intruders in their home, their world.
  We look different, we talk different, we act different.
Rillen:  (musing out loud)  I heard a tale once - I can't recall where
  or when - about a small group of explorers who found a new land, and
  formed a colony there.  Then others followed their lead, also making
  their home in the new land.  Before long, they were causing all kinds
  of ill effects for the natives...disease, overhunting and overfarming
  the area, even direct conflict with those who had been there first.
  After many years, the native people were a small minority, and the
  newcomers ruled it all, and eventually ruined it all too.  (he looks
  around)  When you think about what _could_ happen, from the point of
  view of whoever's out there in the's surprising that they
  haven't done their best to attack and slaughter us.
Leila:  That's kind of...grim.  We mean no one any harm.
Rillen:  Nobody ever does, in the beginning.

next:      they hatch a plan to meet the natives
released:  9/1/06
notes:     Long, long ago, when I first came up with the idea for this
  arc, it seemed to have some potential.  Hell, it still might, if I was
  into it and not constantly thinking about plot arcs for Belphanior and
  his group.  Anyway, it's wearing on me, so here's my plan for this arc
  and these characters:  I'll bring the arc to some kind of definite
  stopping point by episode 939 (which will be released on 9/29/06) and
  then I'll go back to Belphanior for a good long while.  In essence,
  September 2006 will be the month of the Lost Continent, a five-episode
  arc that will either solve the mysteries of the place or at least get
  the explorers to a logical stopping point.  I don't know when, if ever,
  I'll get back to them.  It could be a while.

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