Chapter #191

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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/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       6th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       7th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Rob           15th level human priest                (LG) +
+   Date:    12/6/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    late morning                                     +
+   Place:   the NE reaches of the Hold of the Sea Princes    +
+   Climate: cold                                             +
+   "Well, then, we are all rogues together."                 +
+     - Nabonidus, from _Rogues in the House_ (a Conan story) +

                      CXCI.  Stopover

  After a mighty battle with pursuing foes, the adventurers,
plus the thousand-odd freed slaves from the city of Westkeep,
have been marching northeastward.  A night has passed, and
it is now the morning of the day after the battle.

Belphanior:  (coughs)  These people aren't going to make it
  much food or water, no clothes...
Gorin:  Yeah, it is winter, isn't it?
Arnold:  (matter-of-factly)  At least some of them have
Bosco:  No denying that...
Mongo:  Sounds like we need to find a town along the way and
  buy them the stuff they need.
Rillen:  Buy?
Peldor:  Well, that's why we stole all that money from the
Bosco:  Heh heh.
Mongo:  Oh, yeah.
wispy thing:  (perched on Belphanior's shoulder)  sss.
Belphanior:  (using his magical compass)  Can you point us
  to the nearest town?

  Lo and behold, the device's needle swiveled erratically,
finally coming to rest in a northward direction.

Belphanior:  Huh.  I'll be damned.
Mongo:  (confused)  So?  So what?
Belphanior:  You don't understand.  I always thought that I
  had to give the compass a _specific_ destination or person
  for it to work properly...apparently this isn't the case.
Peldor:  So we head northward?
Rillen:  Sounds good to me.
Belphanior:  (wipes sweat from his brow)
Rob:  You don't look so good.  Maybe you're coming down with
Belphanior:  Bah.  I'm fine.  Leave me be.
Gorin:  (looking back at the thousand-plus ex-slaves, he
  slows his horse down even more, for the people are falling
  behind)  They're getting weaker...
Mongo:  (to Garth)  Tell them to spread the word that we're
  heading for a town.  We should be there sometime soon.
Garth:  Surely.  (he walks back to the front of the mob and
  begins conveying the message)

  After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually only
several hours, they came upon a small village.

Rob:  (looking on his map)  Err...
Peldor:  (quietly, to Rob)  You've got the map upside-down.
Rob:  Oh, yeah.  Hmm.  (he rights the map, but still can't
  find their current location)
fellow:  (gaping in shock at the sight of all the ex-slaves
  who are following the adventurers)
Belphanior:  You there!  What place is this?
fellow:  This is the town of Spek, within the Hold of the
  Sea Princes.  (he continues to stare, astonished, as more
  and more ex-slaves come into sight)
Belphanior:  Thanks.  (he rides past)

  About the time they found the town's marketplace, some of
the adventurers began to get ideas...

Mongo:  Let's buy each of the ex-slaves a bedroll and pack!
Belphanior:  And some food and water, to put in the packs.
Rillen:  A weapon apiece would be nice.
Gorin:  Some new clothes, perhaps - most of theirs are
  rotting off.
Peldor:  (watching various female ex-slaves)  Well...
Mongo:  I'll ride back and tell Garth to tell all of them
  to wait outside the town gates.  We don't want to crowd
  up this place.  (he heads back)
Belphanior:  (dismounts and strolls up to a leather and
  hide merchant)
merchant:  Can I help you boys?
Belphanior:  Yep.  We'd like...uh...twelve hundred packs.
  (reminds himself to get Garth to take a head count)
merchant:  (almost swallows his tongue)  What?!?

  After a brief discussion, it was found that the fellow
only stocked fifty or so packs at any given time.  However,
he claimed to be able to fabricate a few hundred more per
day, with the help of twenty lads he sometimes employed.

merchant:  They won't be top-quality packs, of course, not
  on such short notice, but they'll get the job done.
Rob:  That would be swell.  We'll pay you well, you know.
merchant:  It's a deal!  I'll round them up and we'll get
  right to work...(he ambles away)
Bosco:  I bet he pays those kids next to nothing to sew
  packs together for him.
Peldor:  Ah, the life of an revolves
  around getting other people to do things while absorbing
  all the profits.
Arnold:  (confused)  Huh?
wispy thing:  (nowhere to be seen)
Belphanior:  (coughing again)  I'll the weapons
  merchants.  Each slave will need a weapon.
Peldor:  Ex-slave.
Belphanior:  Right...(he walks up the street)
Peldor:  I'll help you out.  (follows the elf)
Bosco:  Wait for me!  (he scampers after the other two)
Mongo:  I'll see about the food and water.  Come, Gorin.
Gorin:  Right.
Arnold:  I'll go keep Gardth company.  (he leaves)
Rob:  What does that leave me to do?
Rillen:  You could stay and wait for the leather workers
  to show up...or I could do that, and you could go find
  new clothes for as many of the ex-slaves as possible.
Rob:  Hmm.
Rillen:  Let's face it, I have no fashion sense.  (he stares
  at his worn, simple leather tunic)
Rob:  You're right.  I'll take care of clothing.  (he walks
  down the street, whistling)  I'm a clothes-getter now...
villager:  (wondering what's wrong with the priest)

  Later, everyone met with the mob of slaves, outside the
town limits.  Some bore parcels of packs, loaded with food
and drink.  Others brought sharp new weapons, for those
slaves who wished to wear them.  Rob returned with a large
wagon, filled to the brim with clothes of every size, type,
and color.

Belphanior:  (next to this wagon, he holds up some purple
  pantaloons)  What the hell...?
Peldor:  Some of that stuff's hideous!
Mongo:  Is that a bright green shirt I see there?
Bosco:  'fraid so.
Rillen:  (trying but failing to keep from laughing)  Where
  did you find all of these...garments?
Gorin:  And how?
Rob:  (shrugs)  They were having a clearance sale.

  Before long, every ex-slave had something new - either a
pack, some new clothes, or a weapon.  Some of the smarter
ones were sent into town with sums of money, to find any
other weapons or provisions they could.

Belphanior:  You never know - there could be _another_
  pack-maker on the far side of town...

  By late afternoon, everyone in the village had been by
to see the large group of visitors.  The adventurers had
long since decided to give each ex-slave a few coins, in
order for them to roam the town and be happy while doing

Bosco:  We're humanitarians!

  Though they were aware of the possible danger of pursuit
from Westkeep, the adventurers felt it more important that
the slaves be better equipped, and thus they remained in
the town of Spek for two days.  At the end of this time,
they resumed their march northward, though their departure
wasn't exactly spontaneous...

fellow:  (walks up, looking rather irritated)  Err...
Belphanior:  (turns to regard the guy)  Oh, I didn't even
  notice you were there.
fellow:  I'm Carrick, mayor of this town.  I've come to
  ask you to leave.
Mongo:  What?!?  Why?
Carrick:  Well, we can't support all of your...friends here.
  We simply don't have the food.
Peldor:  But think of the riches we've brought into your
Carrick:  True...but there's also the matter of the troops
  who should be showing up sometime soon.
Belphanior:  Eh?
Rillen:  Troops from where?
Carrick:  Who knows?  But I'm not stupid.  And I don't want
  a battle, not in my town.  We'd never recover from the
Mongo:  Hmm, maybe you have a point.
Bosco:  (thinking of backstabbing Carrick in the posterior,
  or perhaps picking his pocket)
Carrick:  Indeed I do.  Now would you please pack up your
  possessions, and your slaves, and leave?
Rillen:  (towers over Carrick, glaring)  You'd better be
  glad that we're nice guys.  (he whirls)  Let's get the
  hell out of here.

  Thus, they left Spek, though not before Peldor and Mongo
added a dozen new ex-slaves to the group.

Belphanior:  Who are these?
Mongo:  We found them in various places around town.  Seems
  that even a puny town like this...Spek still has its share
  of slavery...
Peldor:  But their masters were happy to part with them.
Mongo:  Yeah, we gave 'em an offer they couldn't refuse...

  They marched out of Spek that day, and headed northeast
once more.

Rob:  You want to cross the swamp, and the Hool River?  We
  will surely encounter someone - that river empties into
  the bay...
Rillen:  And the Sea Princes are a naval power.
Mongo:  Fuck it.  It's the most direct route back to more
  friendly lands.
Belphanior:  I agree.  Once we're through the marshlands,
  we can skirt the Dreadwood on its eastern edge, and go
  north into Keoland.
Garth:  (waving his - Arnold's - sword)  We're all ready
  to fight, if need be.  No slavers will stop our march!
Gorin:  Sounds like a plan.
Peldor:  Into the swamp, eh?  The Hool swamp...
Arnold:  Hool care?
Rob:  At least this edge of the Hool Marshes isn't nearly
  as deep and dense as the main portion, to the west.
Bosco:  (regarding the many hundreds of armed and equipped
  ex-slaves)  Hey, look on the bright side - we won't have
  any trouble from brigands!

  They marched onward, soon entering the shallow eastern
portion of the Hool swamplands.  Before the day was out,
they had arrived at the southern bank of the Hool River,
not more than a thousand feet from where it emptied into
the eastern bay.

Mongo:  Uh-oh.  Look.

  Something was definitely amiss, for a large crowd had
gathered on the coast.  Most of the people were watching
a small fleet, perhaps a dozen ships, which was coming in
from the bay.

Rillen:  (walks up to a bystander)  What's going on here?
fellow:  Oh, the Princes are hunting for some evildoers,
  that's all.  (he looks around Rillen, noting the large
  mob of ex-slaves)  Hmm.
Rillen:  Don't get any ideas.  I'd hate to have to knock
  you out.
Belphanior:  Holy shit...I bet they plan to land and cut
  off our northward march...

next time :  more trouble

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

notes     :  If you have mildew problems in your bathroom
           (and who doesn't?) I can heartily recommend a
           solution that's called "X-14", and
           you just spray it on, let it sit there for ten
           seconds, and wash it off.  That's it.  Cripes,
           I feel like Paul Harvey on his radio show...

Thomas Miller              
Systems Support Specialist II          Georgia Tech Network Services

"What good is being a hammer when you can't find a deserving nail?"

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