Chapter #157

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                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                    +
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/13th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           13th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       4th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       6th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    9/4/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    afternoon                                        +
+   Place:   somewhere in Grendep Bay, just east of Ratik     +
+   Climate: warm, though cooler in the water                 +
+   "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."            +
+                               - from _The Color of Money_   +

           CLVII.  World Tour, part 7:  Ratik

  Having clashed and crashed with a dragon, the adventurers
are currently seaborne, since Ged's magical sky balloon was
damaged.  They are rowing toward shore, where a small crowd
watches in anticipation.

Peldor:  Look, the natives are restless.

  They sighted a small dock, and made for it, eager to get
to land.  Belphanior and Ged tied the ship to the dock, and
the others disembarked, leading the horses as well, via a
wide, sturdy plank.  The two elves were the last to leave
the ship.

Belphanior:  (looks at the rope in his hands)  What am I
  doing?  (he speaks a command word, and the boat becomes
  a small box again, much to the astonishment of those
  dockworkers in the vicinity)  Hah!  (he puts the box in
  his pack)
Ged:  Oh well, I guess we don't have to pay harbor fees.
Belphanior:  Nope.

  They rode or walked, at a slow pace, toward a cluster of
small buildings near the docks.

Mongo:  Ho there!
man carrying a sack:  What's that?
Mongo:  Where's the nearest city?
man:  (points to the west, where the towers of a small city
  are barely visible)  'Tis Marner.
Mongo:  Oh.  Well, thanks.  (to the party)  That's what I
Rillen:  Marner?
Gorin:  It's the capital of Ratik.

  Armed with this information, the adventurers decided that
the time had come to rest for a few days.  They made tracks
toward Marner, and were at the city's gates within the hour.
  Marner was, as stated, a small city, despite the fact
that it was a capital.  Still, it had sturdy walls, stout
defenders, and everything that any major city might need.
Occasional dwarves and gnomes were mixed in with the city's
human populace.  The primary items for sale in the markets
were shipbuilding supplies, furs, and fine gems.

Peldor:  I like this place.
Mongo:  Long ago, this land was no more than an outpost of
  Aerdy, to the southeast.  It got independent status after
  an old general defeated invaders, time and time again.
Gorin:  In fact, those humanoids ended up invading the land
  to the south instead.
Mongo:  Yeah.  That ended up becoming Bone March.
Rillen:  Ah, yes, that amusing place.
Ged:  There sure are a lot of dwarves here...
Mongo:  Mountain dwarves.  Yeah, it's kinda vital that the
  Ratik people have the help of the dwarves and gnomes in
  the mountains to the west.  There are constant humanoid
  attacks from the south, and other attacks from the north.
Arnold:  Aaa.  My peoble don't addack these lanbds much,
Mongo:  Hmph.
Arnold:  (spreads his hands)  Really!
Belphanior:  Well, I'm going to get a bath and a hot meal.
Peldor:  Hmm, I could use a shave.  I'm with you.
Rillen:  (feeling his stomach grumble)  Sounds good to me.
Mongo:  Bath?  Bah, I'm thirsty.  Beer!
Gorin:  Yeah!
Ged:  (neither hungry nor thirsty)  I'll go see if I can
  find a school of wizardry hereabouts...or perhaps a
  temple of Boccob.  I have work to do.
wispy thing:  (sails off for parts unknown)  pff.
Arnold:  Aaa.
Belphanior:  Ah, don't worry.  He always seems to come back
  right when it's time to leave.
Arnold:  (follows the thieves)  Even Ah-nold needs a bath
  now and dhen.
Bosco:  Hmm, I guess I need to get cleaned up, if there's
  any gambling to be done.
Ged:  (regards the halfling quizzically)
Bosco:  See, since I'm so small-
Arnold:  You're nod small, judst not big.
Bosco:  -whatever.  I have to be clean-cut and respectable,
  or else I can't get in on any good gambling games.
Ged:  Oh, what a shame _that_ would be.
Bosco:  Yeah, I know.  (he trundles off after Peldor and
  the other bath-goers)  Hey, boss, wait for me!
Ged:  (looking around, he is all alone now)  Hmm.

  The adventurers spent three days and nights in Marner,
resting from their lengthy travels.  They also restocked
their packs, procuring extra food, drink, and supplies.
Those who had to get new horses were able to buy fine
animals here, and did so.
  Rillen decided that he wanted the magical statuette of
the onyx dog, and the others approved this.  Actually, it
was decided that Ged and Belphanior, as well as Rillen,
had already gotten one share's worth of magic from the evil
elf's hoard.  Accordingly, the three would be excluded from
the first round of item-picking, next time there was one.
  Perhaps the most adventurous time in Marner was had by
Bosco, though, as he, Peldor, and Belphanior gambled in a
saloon on the party's second night in the city...

Peldor:  (dealing out the cards)  Okay, ante up, everyone.
Belphanior:  (glares at his hand, and his evil eye glows)
Bosco:  (thinking that the elf will never be a good poker
  player, not with that eye)  Hmm.  (he draws a few cards
  from the deck)
other player:  (a somber gnome)  Hmm.
other player:  (an old geezer)  Eh?
other player:  (a crusty dwarf, he stares at his cards with
  brows furrowed)  Hrm.  (he chews on a strip of meat as he
Peldor:  Okay, guys, let's get down to business.  (he moves
  some coins from his own pile to the kitty)
Bosco:  (thinks for a long moment, then matches the bet)
other players:  (decide their stakes)
Belphanior:  Enough of this.  Let's see the cards.  (all
  players show their hands)
Bosco:  Well, looks like I have a royal flush here!  I win
Belphanior:  Aw, crap.  (he tosses his cards away and goes
  to get some wine)
crusty dwarf:  Grr...maybe you're cheating.
Peldor:  Doubtful, buddy.  He's just good, that's all.

  So it was, well into the night.  Bosco actually came away
with a small fortune in winnings, which he covertly cashed
in for gems the next day.  Suffice to say that Peldor was
surprised, and Belphanior was irritated.
  Days later, when the party was ready to depart Marner,
they faced a new dilemma.

Mongo:  Ah, how to get where we're going?
Bosco:  Where _are_ we going, anyway?
Arnold:  To the nordth - to Ah-nold's homebland!  The land
  of the Frodst Bardbarians!
Peldor:  (holding up his old map)  Hmm, this thing doesn't
  cover that specific area in much detail.
Mongo:  That's probably 'cause no one's ever had a chance
  to map the area out...
Ged:  (produces another map)  Fortunately, I had the clever
  foresight to purchase this fine local map.  (he opens it
  up)  Hmm.
Belphanior:  Looks like we either sail across the bay, or
  ride along the coast, at the forest's edge.
wispy thing:  (emerges from Belphanior's pack)  pfft.
Rillen:  A formidable journey either way.
Bosco:  Yeah.
Peldor:  (puts his old map away in disgust)
Mongo:  I'd say we should go for the land route.  Most of
  the people we run into should be peaceful foresters.
Belphanior:  You know that from growing up near this area?
Mongo:  No, I know that because I've been talking to some
  of the locals.
Belphanior:  Oh.
Mongo:  The Timberway Forest, up there, is a good source
  of wood for ships and such.
Arnold:  The landb way sounds good to me.
Gorin:  Yup.
Peldor:  Yeah, me too.  I like forests, and cool air.
Ged:  Doesn't everybody?

  They set out that morning, fresh and in good spirits.
The forest's edge was reached by nightfall, and the party
stayed the night in a small camp of woodsmen.

fellow:  (half-drunk, he sings merrily)  I am the woodsman
  of the woods...
others:  (cheer and sing along racously)

  The adventurers planned to head north on the morrow,
riding between the coastal plains (to the east of which
was the open water of the Grendep Bay) and the Timberway
Forest, to the west.  This way, they could make better
time, while staying out of the way of any foresters whom
they might encounter.

next time :  Arnold's people

ftp site  : in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  Novel of the week:  _Congo_, by Michael Crichton.
           I never fail to be amazed at the new things I seem
           to learn about the jungle, from my readings.
             Movie of the week:  _Cast a Deadly Spell_, circa
           1991.  It's a sci-fi/comedy, set in 1948 along
           Lovecraftian lines - quite funny.
             I had writers' block for the first week or so
           of February, but I seem to have broken out of it
           now (it's the 9th as I write this)

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