Chapter #948

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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                               +
+                                                                         +
+   T'kar           human hunter/warrior, native of lost continent        +
+   Date:           7/26/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          an undiscovered continent far to the east             +
+   Climate:        hot and humid                                         +
+   "What are we going to do?"                                            +
+   "We'll have to mount an attack on them right away."                   +
+   "Attack...what kind of attack?"                                       +
+   "A classic."                                                          +
+                            - from an unknown episode of _The A-Team_    +

                    CMXLVIII.  Taking the Offensive

  About a day has passed since the party defeated a scouting party of
cannibalistic savages and then went on to find T'kar's village.  That
had been an interesting experience, for despite the native's words to
his people, they still regarded the adventurers with a mix of simple
curiosity and blatant mistrust.  They had wandered around the group,
eyeing their strange attire and unusual weapons, talking in words that
were basically undecipherable.  Leila had picked up on some of what was
said, but without the slower, deliberate speech of T'kar (as she had
become used to) it was difficult to understand much.
  Eventually, the native had convinced his people that the strangers
were here to help, and then ushered them away to an empty hut to stay
the night.  There were no wild feasts by campfire, no bonding between
the outsiders and the villagers, and no celebrations of any kind.  It
was simple:  the adventurers would stay and sleep tonight, and then
set out for the enemy village in the morning.  And now, it _was_ the
next morning, and here they were, leaving the barely-familiar village
to head for the mountains...

Halbarad:  I like this.  We're being direct and not wasting any time.
Songa:  (nods)  There's no point sitting around, waiting for the bad
  village to attack the good village.  Better to make something happen,
  and maybe gain the element of surprise.
Eyer:  There won't be much surprise, once that scouting party we slew
  fails to return.  We need to hurry.
Relmar:  Leila, how far did he say this other village was?
Leila:  About half a day's march.
Weaver:  (eyeing the terrain ahead)  Half a day's march up a mountain
  isn't trivial.

  It was true; the path they had embarked on would take them up the
gentle slopes at the very base of the mountain range....but those
slopes wouldn't remain gentle for very long.  The jungle trees that
had covered the land, all the way since the beach, had given way to
a different kind of tree, taller and with harder bark.

Daffodil:  (touches one of the trees)  This is like nothing I've ever
  seen somewhat resembles spruce, but with denser bark.
Peyote:  It's cool, though.
Dervan:  It seems odd, that this species of tree grows so close to the
  others, from the flat jungle terrain.  (he looks around, shaking his
Leila:  That's just one of many mysteries about this place...this island
  or continent or whatever it turns out to be.  (she fumes to herself)
  Oh, if only I could use one simple spell of flying...
Relmar:  Or I, one simple spell to commune with the almighty Pelor...
T'kar:  (regards them oddly, as if they need to perhaps be moving a bit
  more rapidly)
Halbarad:  (nods to the native, who nods back)

  They moved onward, gradually making their way up the lower reaches of
the mountain.  Around midday, and just after they broke for lunch, T'kar
suddenly held up a cautionary hand.

T'kar:  (talking in a low voice)
Leila:  He says it's time to start being careful.
Peyote:  I thought we _were_ being careful.
Leila:  He says we need to be careful, unless we want to end up in bits
  and pieces, in a cooking pot.
Peyote:  (pales)  No way!
Halbarad:  (to Songa)  This isn't going to work, you know.
Songa:  Eh?
Halbarad:  We can't possibly get close to this village undetected, not
  with several inexperienced non-rangers in the group.
Songa:  Oh.  (she frowns)  Good point.
Halbarad:  What we need is a smaller group to go on ahead, find the place
  and note its weaknesses...then we can come up with a plan of attack.
Songa:  But we need him-  (she sticks a thumb at T'kar)  -to lead us to
  the village, which means that whoever stays behind won't know exactly
  where to go.
Halbarad:  (nods, rubbing his stubbled chin)  An interesting dilemma.
Songa:  I don't much feel like arguing with anyone who disagrees about
  splitting the group, either - not when our lives are at risk, and
  especially not when that risk comes from a tribe of cannibals.
Halbarad:  Exactly.

  In short order, the rangers impressed their point of view upon the
group.  A short, brisk debate later, everything had been decided:  T'kar
would lead Halbarad, Weaver, and Eyer ahead of the larger group, to find
the foes' village and do some scouting.  Songa would remain behind with
the other six; this main force would purposely lag behind the scouting
party to avoid compromising those efforts.

Dervan:  (wondering if Songa is a more skilled tracker than he is)  But
  why can't I-
Halbarad:  (gives him a stern look)
Dervan:  (shakes his head)  Okay, fine.
Halbarad:  We're off, then.  (he and the other three prepare to move on)
Songa:  And remember, when you find the village, send someone back to let
  us know, so that we don't keep going and ruin the element of surprise.
Halbarad:  Right.

  In moments, the advance party was gone, the four vanishing into the
wooded mountainside with barely a sound or other trace.

Relmar:  Can they do it?
Peyote:  Sure they can, dude.  They're the best.
Daffodil:  Well, they've got the local native, one good ranger, another
  who I know nothing about-
Dervan:  (angrily)  Weaver is a fine ranger, too.
Daffodil:  -very well, a second good a wood elf, who's also
  a hell of a shot with that bow.
Leila:  He sure is.
Peyote:  That's...four rangers, basically, and two of them are skilled
Songa:  They'll be fine.  I won't, though, if I have to listen to all
  this talking when I'm trying to follow their tracks.
Leila:  Good point - we'll stop talking once we start moving.
Rillen:  (silently wondering if Peyote can do that)
Relmar:  (to Songa)  How far behind them will we be?  Or perhaps more
  importantly, will we be able to help them if they get into trouble?
Songa:  We won't be that close, which is why they will avoid trouble,
  which is why they're there and we're here.  (she looks around, eyeing
  the trees)  We're moving out shortly, so everyone get ready.

next:      the scouts find the cannibal village, and also complications
released:  12/1/06
notes:     It's been eight episodes since we last saw these characters
  (and I hinted that it might be the last such time).  Well, I realized
  that I hadn't left that arc at a suitable stopping here we
  are.  You'll see the group take the fight to the cannibals, and you'll
  see them find the pass through the mountains, and on the other side of
  that pass you'll see...well, you'll know on 12/15/06 when episode 950
  comes out.
    Just a heads-up:  there won't be episodes on Friday 12/22 and Friday
  12/29.  I'm going to keep it to 50 per year and I also want a break for
  the holidays.  Episode 951 will come on Friday 1/5/07 and then I'll
  resume the one-per-week release schedule.  This schedule will continue
  for the rest of 2007, until I reach episode 1000 and the end of the
  Adventurers saga.

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