Chapter #937

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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:           7/20/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          an undiscovered continent far to the east             +
+   Climate:        hot and humid                                         +
+   "There's no way he'll help you."                                      +
+   "Sure he will.  He just hasn't been asked the right way."             +
+                                                 - from _The A-Team_     +

                    CMXXXVII.  Going Native

  The party has stayed put during a massive rainstorm that lasted an
entire day and soaked everything and everyone.  During this time, the
ranger Halbarad returned from his mission with a captive, a short, wiry
native with dark brown skin.  The following morning has found the rain
gone, the clothes drying and the native awake and alert, if also angry
and confused.

native:  (looks around at his ten captors)  Flrrrrrnk.
Rillen:  Someone needs to try and communicate with him, and span the
  language barrier...someone who's good with such things.
Halbarad:  Don't look at me.  I just found him.
Songa:  (nods)  I don't have the patience for it, either.
Relmar:  I do.
Leila:  And I have some experience with languages...let me try.  (she
  sits down in front of the man)
Eyer:  Watch out, he might be dangerous.
Leila:  I doubt it, not with his wrists and ankles bound as they are.
native:  (makes an attempt at a lunge, but falls on his face)  Urnf!
Leila:  Well.  (she grabs the fellow and sits him back against the tree)
Eyer:  (to the native)  Don't do that again.
native:  (regards the elf with an angry look)  Ngrok.
Eyer:  (to Leila)  He's all yours.
Leila:  (to the native)  I doubt you can understand me, but-
native:  Gnaaaar.
Leila:  (sighs)  This may be more difficult than I thought.
Halbarad:  I don't have the patience for it, that's for sure.  (to the
  other rangers)  I'm going to scout ahead, along the river.  We need
  to keep two of us here with them, but I could use the help, if anyone
  wants to come along.
Dervan:  Count me in.
Weaver:  Me too.  I've had my share of encounters with primitives, so
  this is nothing especially exciting for me.
Songa:  I'll stay.  We need to finish drying out the clothes and packs,
  so they don't rot, and this might be a good time to consolidate all of
  our supplies.  (to Halbarad)  We'll be low on food by the week's end.
Halbarad:  (nods)  Maybe I can take care of that shortly.

  While the three rangers headed out into the jungle, Leila and Relmar
began working in earnest to try and get some form of dialogue going.
They had some "help" - which didn't amount to anything - during one
time when Leila took a brief break.

Peyote:  (sitting cross-legged in front of the native)  Dude.
native:  Drrrrd.
Peyote:  Exactly, man.  That's what I'm talking about.
native:  Frnp.
Peyote:  I hear you.

  Meanwhile, Halbarad and his two companions trekked far downriver,
keeping to the bank but moving much faster than the entire party would
have.  At times, they almost ran, covering a lot of ground and checking
the way for blockages, dangerous wildlife, and so on.

Halbarad:  At least we haven't found any forks or major bends in the
Dervan:  Or any more big crocodiles.
Weaver:  Never fear, the jungle has a hundred ways to kill you-

  Just then, a snake uncoiled from a tree limn overhead and dropped down
toward the ranger, fangs bared!

Weaver:  Whoa!  (he leaps back, drawing his sword)
Halbarad:  (decapitates the reptile with a swift flick of his dagger,
  eyeing the head as it sails away into the underbrush)  As you were
Weaver:  Yeah...whew.
Dervan:  We've got to keep our eyes open.
Halbarad:  We did, otherwise he'd be dead right now.  (they move on
  along the riverbank)
small squirrel:  (darts out of hiding and tries to grab the snake's
  severed head, but finds it to be too bulky to carry away, and thus
  chitters in frustration)  Chk-chk-chk!

  The trio continued on their way, and came across several areas where
the river, far above its normal level due to the long rain, had crept
up onto the banks.  In these areas, the party would have to veer around
the elevated waters and re-enter the jungle for a short distance.

Dervan:  How far are we going to scout?
Halbarad:  Not much farther.  I was hoping to find more tracks, maybe
  signs of that native's companions, but if there were any here, the
  rain took them.  (he looks around)  Damn.  This place couldn't be any
  more unfriendly if the gods themselves had designed it to be that way.
Weaver:  Well, at least we haven't run into cannibals, or a pack of wild
  animals, or anything like that.
Dervan:  Agreed.  There are only ten of us...which means that any group
  significantly larger - whether it was a pack of animals or a force of
  wild warriors - would probably take us down.
Halbarad:  Maybe, but with our training and experience and weapons, we
  would stand a fighting chance.
Weaver:  Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

  A short while later, they decided to get back to the temporary camp
and rejoin the others.  Much to their surprise, Leila and Relmar had
made major progress in their efforts to communicate with the native

Halbarad:  (re-enters the camp, walking past the quasi-captive, who is
  drawing symbols in the sand with a stick)
Leila:  (holds up a stick herself)  We've done it...reached a common
  ground here.
Relmar:  Literally.
Dervan:  How did you manage that?  I mean, you and him don't speak the
  same language or anything.
Leila:  How do you spot the track of an animal amidst all of the dirt
  and sticks and puddled rain?  (she shrugs)  You have your expertise,
  and I have mine.  (she awkwardly utters some strange-sounding words,
  to which the native nods and replies with more such words, as well
  as some hand gestures)
Dervan:  Whatever.
Relmar:  I think it best that we release him.
Halbarad:  (frowns)  Do you realize how long it took me to catch him?
Songa:  Agreed.  Why would we want to just let him go?
Leila:  Because he can lead us to the path through the mountains.
Rillen:  Path?
Songa:  Through?
Leila:  Yes.  It's a hidden way, and apparently bears some risk, but he
  seems to know exactly where it is.  If we cut him loose and gain his
  full trust, he can save us quite a bit of time and effort.
Halbarad:  Or he could get away and bring others to attack us...or lead
  us into a trap...or simply flee, never to be seen again.
Relmar:  (to Halbarad)  He could have done all of those things already,
  but instead, he simply followed and watched us.  You have to admit,
  he's not shown any hostile tendencies so far.
Halbarad:  (sighs)  I suppose that's true.  (he pulls out a knife and
  approaches the sitting warrior, whose feet are still bound)  If we're
  going to do this, let's do it right.
native:  (eyes the knife-wielding ranger suspiciously, and brings his
  arms up, as if to defend himself)
Halbarad:  (points at the ropes on the man's feet, then at the knife)
Leila:  (says something in the strange language, which seems to reassure
  the native)
Halbarad:  (slowly, carefully, he cuts the ropes, then clasps the man's
  hand and pulls him to his feet, putting the knife away)
native:  (frowns, then grins)
Halbarad:  If we give him his spear back, let's watch ourselves.
Relmar:  Definitely.  Without magic, even a simple spear wound could well
  prove fatal.
native:  (points to the jungle, and gestures as if he wants them all to
  follow him)
Leila:  (nods to him, then turns to the others)  Shall we go?
Halbarad:  Everyone, pack up.  We're moving out.

next:      much travel, the native's tribe, and the way to the mountains
released:  9/15/06
notes:     I know that some people go to great lengths to construct a
  realistic new foreign language for their fiction, like the fans who
  invented workable Klingon for "Star Trek".  I am not one of those
  people.  The native's words in this story can, and should, not be
  taken in any literal sense.

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