Chapter #495

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                                +   +
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                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1991-6 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                    +
+                           +
+  Alindyar     17th level drow mage                            (N) +
+    Lyra       13th level female drow mage                     (N) +
+  Belphanior  (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief       (CN) +
+    Otto        8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief           (CN) +
+    the wispy thing                                                +
+  Ged          15th/14th level grey elven priest/mage         (NG) +
+    Arnold     13th level human barbarian warrior             (NG) +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven fighter                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven fighter                     (NG) +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human fighter/thief      (N) +
+    Bosco      11th level halfling thief                      (CN) +
+  Rillen       17th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+  Date:        6/24/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        shortly before dusk                                 +
+  Place:       one of the countless jungles on the Isle of the Ape +
+  Climate:     hot and humid                                       +
+  "One impulse from a vernal wood, may teach you more of man,      +
+   of moral evil and of good, than all the ages can."              +
+                                           - William Wordsworth    +

        XDV.  Trials, Travels, Travails, and Tribulations

  After a vicious attack by man-sized predatory dinosaurs, the party
has camped amidst the jungle.  Unable to move Alindyar due to the
nature of his wounds, they have elected to fortify their position
until the drow mage can travel again.

Gorin:  This sucks.  I want action.
Rillen:  I suspect you'll see it, and soon.  This jungle never seems
  to stay quiet for long.
Belphanior:  If we torched a large chunk of jungle, we'd have a good
  clear line of sight.
Ged:  Yea, but that's _my_ job.  Remember that time in the...hell,
  what forest _was_ that, anyway?
Belphanior:  Can't remember.  But you're right, that was cool.  Maybe
  one of the coolest things you ever did.  Those elves sure weren't
  too happy with you.
Ged:  Who cares what they thought?  I did what had to be done.
Belphanior:  I know how that goes.
Arnold:  (his armor removed, he toils busily as he lengthens a wide
  defensive trench around the campsite)  Aaa.  (he rests for a moment,
  wiping sweat from his brow)  I could use some help, here.
Gorin:  On my way.  (he begins doffing his own armor)
Tanya:  I'm back.  (she enters the campsite, bearing an armful of thin
  green vines)
Rillen:  What are those for?
Tanya:  Traps and snares.
Rillen:  Ah, of course.
Ged:  Foolish defenses...why, a single spell would afford us more
Tanya:  If you don't have anything nice to say, do us all a favor and
  keep your mouth shut.
Ged:  (to Rillen)  Was it something I said?
Otto:  (walks by, clapping Tanya on the back)  C'mon, let's get to it.
  (he takes a piece of rope)  I'll show you the classic ankle-breaker
Lyra:  (nearby, she is busy piling leaves, rearranging empty sacks,
  and otherwise working tirelessly to make sure the wounded, sleeping
  Alindyar is comfortable)  Wake up soon, would you?  Talking to the
  others is driving me batty.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra) awake.
Lyra:  (shocked, she ESPs back to Alindyar)  You're conscious?!?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  The flesh may be weak, but the mind is
  infinitely more powerful.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Actually, I take it back.  You should be
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  I _am_ resting.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Obviously not enough, if you're talking
  to me...
wispy thing:  (circling above the head of the preoccupied Lyra)

  A short distance from the camp, several of the party's designated
scouting/exploratory force had come upon a large, grassy clearing
amidst the jungle.

Mongo:  What's this, now?
Bosco:  Maybe some big beastie lands here...
Songa:  A round beast?
Bosco:  I'm a thief, not a wizard.  Ask Ged or one of the other big-
  brains if you really want an answer.
Songa:  No thanks, I think I prefer your company.
Bosco:  You do?  (cheerfully, he turns to Mongo)  She does?
Mongo:  Don't take it personally, kid.  (he eyes the clearing)  Nice
  break from the thick jungle roots and weeds, eh?
Songa:  That it is.  (she turns over a strange, curved wooden object
  in her calloused hands)
Bosco:  (standing on tiptoe, trying to see, he finally flies a few
  feet up into the air)  Whatcha got there?
Songa:  I found this while we were in the's a weapon of
  some kind, I think.
Mongo:  That crummy thing?  You've got to be kidding.
Bosco:  Lemme see that.  (he jumps up and down in the air repeatedly,
  until the huntress hands the item over)
Songa:  A pesky one, you are.
Mongo:  (to Bosco)  Feeling better, are you?
Bosco:  I think so.  I've pretty much emptied everything that was in
  my stomach, y'know?  (he lifts the thin wooden stick above his head)
  This seems born for throwing...
Mongo:  When I was growing up, we used to say that about halflings.
Bosco:  Very funny, wiseguy.  (he waves the curved stick about)  Go,
Songa:  Be careful with that.
Bosco:  Why?  (he hurls the thing suddenly)
Mongo:  Whoa!

  The thin, oddly shaped piece of wood flew away, rising into the air
almost as if possessed by its own will.  After a short time, it arced
back around, seemingly intent upon returning to its thrower.

Bosco:  Hey!  (he backs up a few steps)  Uh...
Mongo:  (puts his metal club up, to ward off the thing should it
  choose to attack him)  Damn...
Songa:  Look out!
Bosco:  Whoaaaa...!  (he turns and bolts, as the wooden throwing
  stick smashes into the ground right behind him)  No fair!  No fair!
  It attacked me!
Mongo:  It sure did!
Songa:  Don't be a fool.  (she picks up the stick)  It's just a stick,
  guided by the winds and its own shape.
Bosco:  It is?
Mongo:  Are you sure?
Songa:  Watch.  (she throws the thing lightly, and it sails through
  the air for a few moments before returning)
Bosco:  Hey!
Songa:  (her hand outstretched to catch the stick, she watches it
  hit the ground fifteen feet to one side)
Bosco:  Ha!  See, it likes me, not you.
Songa:  Practice will make perfect.
Mongo:  (picks the stick up)  Hmm.  (with a seemingly effortless
  toss, he sends the thing hurtling up into the sky)
Bosco:  (puts a hand over his eyes and scans the air)  Hey, where'd
  it go?
Songa:  (to Mongo)  Nice throw.  Now we'll never see the damned thing
Mongo:  Why isn't it coming back?
Songa:  Maybe it doesn't come back every time.  Maybe it landed some-
  where else.
Bosco:  (helpfully)  Or maybe you killed a big bird.
Mongo:  (shrugs)
Songa:  The stick's not coming back, so that settles that.
Mongo:  Uh...sorry.  (shaking his head, he wanders back toward the

  Between the scouting and the traps, the adventurers felt fairly
confident that they could withstand any nighttime attackers.  Well,
almost any.

Bosco:  If that big one comes hunting for a late-night snack, like
  it did the other night, then we're in trouble.
Lyra:  That one is dead, Bosco, remember?
Bosco:  Oh.  Oh, yeah.
Mongo:  (grins proudly)  That'll teach him.
Belphanior:  Did you see the way his guts were splattered all over
  the jungle-
Arnold:  (suddenly has a thought)  Aaa, why aren't we sick?
Gorin:  Huh?
Peldor:  Don't give Bosco any ideas.
Bosco:  Huh?
Arnold:  No, I'm talking about the dinosorb meat some of us ate.
Belphanior:  (puzzled)  Did I miss out on that?
Rillen:  I see what Arnold's getting at.  That roasted meat we ate
  in the village should have made us sick...probably sicker than
Bosco:  Who're you calling sick?!?
Mongo:  Hmm, I ate some too.  (he smacks his lips)  Not bad, either.
Belphanior:  (still puzzled)  How'd I miss out on that?
Bosco:  (cheerfully)  I'm all better now.
Mongo:  (to Rillen)  Well, me...I never get sick.  Don't know why
  you two aren't, though.
Arnold:  Maybe it was the extra-spicy nadive sauces those guys used.
Rillen:  (frowns)  Somehow, I doubt that.
Mongo:  (suddenly hungry, he begins searching for some food among
  his packs and pouches)  Rumblin' stomach...
Ged:  (with Otto and Tanya, he returns from a close patrol at the
  camp's perimeter)  By Boccob, we're set now!
Belphanior:  What the hell are you talking about now?
Ged:  Why, nothing other than using my magic to supplant all the
  existing trenches-
Gorin:  (to Arnold)  Those trenches didn't just suddenly 'exist'.
  I hope he realizes that.
Arnold:  I'm sure he does.
Ged:  -and so, even a large attacker-  (he nods toward Mongo)  -such
  as the one Mongo dealt with yesterday, will end up with a broken
  ankle.  Such is the power of the-
Bosco:  Pits.  This is the pits.  (he looks around, frowning as he
  surveys the camp)  Why don't we just climb up into a tree, like
  we did last time?
Belphanior:  Hmm.
Otto:  (ignoring Ged's boasting and Bosco's babbling, he turns to
  Lyra)  Can you whip up a wall of force like before...but in the
  shape of a topless cylinder, instead of a hemisphere?
Lyra:  A full sphere, actually...but no, for some unfathomable
  reason, Alindyar and I haven't yet learned that particular spell.
  Nor, I might add, has Belphanior.
Otto:  (eyes the nearby Ged, who is talking up a storm)  Him?
Lyra:  Right you are, my friend.
Otto:  Hmm.  (he pauses a moment, then approaches Ged determinedly)

  Before long, the plan was agreed upon:  when the last of the group
(excluding, of course, the sentries) bedded down for the night, Ged
would put up a wall of force as Otto had suggested.

Gorin:  Sounds like a plan.
Ged:  It is a plan.
Peldor:  Even a decent one, at that.
Ged:  What's that supposed to mean?
Peldor:  (walks away)
Tanya:  Hmm.  (she follows her husband)
wispy thing:  (frowns)  Sprrd.

  Shortly, nearby...

Tanya:  (approaches Peldor, who has wandered a good hundred feet from
  the camp)  Uh, you are aware that any number of hostile carnivorous
  things could attack you at any time, aren't you?
Peldor:  Bah.
Tanya:  (takes his hand)  Okay, what's wrong?
Peldor:  You have to ask?
Tanya:  I just did, didn't I?
Peldor:  It's this place...
Tanya:  Homesick?  I didn't realize you missed Greyhawk that much.
Peldor:  Not Greyhawk.  Not really.  I'm just sick of being here...
  this place.
Tanya:  Well, if it's any consolation, I'm kinda getting tired of
  slashing and sweating my way through the jungle, day after day,
  eating food that molds overnight, drinking water that might make
  me throw up...
Peldor:  You're not being very reassuring.
Tanya:  Neither are you.  (she softens)  Look...let's just get
  through this, and after that, we won't ever do this again.
Peldor:  (looking dreamily into the mostly-obscured night sky)
  The treasure...
Tanya:  Pardon?
Peldor:  Treasure.  (he turns his gaze to her)  To think, my own
  reason for wanting to come here was to get all that treasure.
Tanya: Nothing wrong with that.
Peldor:  (shakes his head)  No, _everything's_ wrong with that.
  Don't you see?
Tanya:  I see that we can make a better world back home, with
  that treasure.  Children like Felicia, who'd have otherwise
  been doomed to a life of poverty and thievery - that's what
  good we can do with money.
Peldor:  Thievery?  What's the difference between her - or any
  cutpurse on the street - and us?
Tanya:  I think you can answer that one on your own.
Peldor:  (nods)  You're right.  Dammit.
Tanya:  There are things more important than all that fabled
  treasure, though.  Love, family, happiness...
Peldor:  Hard to think of those things out here in the boonies.
Tanya:  (slips her arms around him from behind, leaning her head
  on his shoulder)  But not impossible.
Peldor:  Then we need to make sure we get home, safely and in
  one piece.
Tanya:  My point exactly.
Peldor:  Hmm.
Tanya:  Let's try and set an example for the others, okay?
Peldor:  We're not already?
Tanya:  Just cheer up.  Remember, only Peldor can be Peldor.
Peldor:  (smiles, despite himself)  You've got that right.  (hand
  in hand, they head back to the camp)

  This night, at long last, the adventurers finally had a notable
run of good luck.  Either because or in spite of all their spells,
snares, alarms, and other precautions and defenses, nothing chose
to attack them during the night.  As a matter of fact, nothing
even came close to the camp, at least nothing the sentries could
notice.  Even better, Alindyar's torn body made a recovery that
was nothing short of miraculous.  In the morning, he stood and
stretched languidly, as dawn's rays penetrated the jungle.

Alindyar:  I feel like a million-
Lyra:  Settle down.  You'll reopen your wounds.
Alindyar:  I think not.  (he ESPs a brief message to Lyra)
Lyra:  Oh.
Mongo:  (walks by the drow)  Sleep well?
Alindyar:  Quite.  (he hands something to Mongo)
Mongo:  (slips his ring back on his finger)  Breakfast time!  I'm
Bosco: (sits up sleepily)  Did someone mention breakfast?
Belphanior:  (to Otto)  Guess I owe you a hundred crowns of gold.
Otto:  I told you nothing would attack the camp.  My traps are that
Belphanior:  In that case, teach them to the Helgate town guards
  when we get back.  (he strolls out of the camp)
Tanya:  Where are you going?
Belphanior:  To empty the ol' wineskin.  Wanna watch?
Tanya:  (disgruntled)  Pft.
wispy thing:  (floats down in front of Tanya's face)  Pffft!
Tanya:  What are you doing, correcting me?  (she bats at the thing,
  and it flies away merrily)  Dumb ghost.
Peldor:  (yawns)  I doubt it's a ghost.  Try and be cheerful, okay?
Tanya:  If I had a pillow, I'd swat you with it.
Peldor:  (TKs her toward him, pulling her down onto his bedroll)
  Give me a morning kiss, wouldja?
Tanya:  (smiles, then frowns)  With that breath?  Ech!
Lyra:  (watching all of this)  Hmm.  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Why are
  those two so happy this morning?  Um, you don't suppose...?
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra) Doubtful, but who knows?  I certainly
  would have slept through it.
Lyra:  (ESPing to Alindyar)  In any case, let's hope this is a good
  omen of the day ahead.

  As it turned out, it might actually have been.  They got a good
meal and an early start.  Everything seemed to go right, from Songa
navigating the best path through the undergrowth to Mongo smashing
a giant snake before it could bite Peldor.

Mongo:  (eyeing the green and black remains of the snake's melon-
  sized head)  That's not what I'd call a _giant_ snake...
Peldor:  (still wondering where the thing slithered from, and how
  he didn't see it coming)
Otto:  (to Peldor)  Lucky for you that Mongo was around.
Peldor:  Luck?  Peldor operates on skill, not luck.  (he frowns)
  Besides, such a puny snake could never hope to seriously injure
  one such as I.  (he pauses for a moment)  Many have tried.  Even
  the two-headed snake was unable to-
Belphanior:  (to Ged, but pointing to Peldor)  Who's that guy with
  the mustache?  He kinda reminds me of someone we used to know.
Ged:  Yea, he sure does.
Tanya:  (curses as a pouch splits open at the bottom)  Damned if
  everything isn't rotting!
Bosco:  _Everything_?
Tanya:  (scowls at the halfling)
Rillen:  All of my food has gone bad...if not for Mongo's food-horn,
  we'd be in serious trouble.
Gorin:  Sure enough.

  They made good time, and by midafternoon had reached a landmark
Baldy had told them about - a landmark that meant they were close
to the lair of the great ape himself.  Ahead of them, the jungle
ended, for the ground was split by a great ravine.  Greater than
fifty feet wide, the crevasse dropped perhaps a hundred feet, its
bottom a raging river with a boulder-strewn bed.  Both the ravine
and the river stretched out of sight to the left and right.
  Spanning a nearby narrow section of the gap was a huge, dead
tree trunk.  The thing was a good eight feet wide at the near end,
and somewhat less than that at the far end.

Songa:  I'd say someone left a bridge here for us.
Belphanior:  No way.  I know exactly what's going to happen if we
  walk out onto that thing.
Gorin:  You do?
Belphanior:  Sure.  We'll be about halfway out there, and some big
  ugly monster'll show up at the other side, grab the log, and try
  to shake us off.
Bosco:  How do you know all this?
Belphanior:  Trust me on this, kid.
Alindyar:  I, for one, shall simply avoid any such possibility by
  invoking a spell of flying.
Lyra:  Make that two of us.  (ESPing to Alindyar)  Or you could
  carry me, thus avoiding a wasteful second spellcasting.
Alindyar:  (ESPing to Lyra)  A worthy plan.
Belphanior:  Let 'em.  I'm casting a flying spell, too, and anything
  that dares to strike will suffer the consequences.
Ged:  By Boccob, I, too, will fly across.
Bosco:  Hmm, think I'll use my little boots and just soar across the
  crevasse.  That bridge doesn't look too sturdy.
wispy thing:  (flies across the gap)  Fssss.
Peldor:  I can't fly, though a fall won't hurt me.
Rillen:  Me neither.
Mongo:  If my armor was working right...(he shakes his head)  Now,
  though, I'd just drop like a rock.  A heavy rock, though.
Lyra:  Look, those who can fly, will.  They can just carry the
  others across, one by one.  Hmm?  (she smiles)
Otto:  Sounds good to me.
Bosco:  Uh, I don't know if I can carry that much weight with my
Gorin:  Why not?  You've done it before.
Arnold:  Ah-nold has no flying, or feather falling...
Ged:  (completes his spell, about the same time that Alindyar and
  Belphanior do)  Yea, but we'll help you out.
Songa:  (frowning as the magi take to the air)  I'm not afraid to
  use the bridge.
Belphanior:  This isn't about being afraid, it's about being sensible.
Rillen:  (to Songa)  Look, just let a few of us get across by flying,
  first.  Those people can scout ahead and make sure nothing's over
  there waiting.
Songa:  I should be scouting ahead.
Alindyar:  (having already begun his flight, Lyra holding tightly to
  him)  A good thing Rillen distracted that woman while we began the
Lyra:  She means well, but she can sure be obstinate.
Ged:  (similarly taking Arnold across)
Arnold:  Aaa.
Belphanior:  (carrying Otto across the crevasse)
Otto:  (watching the rock-strewn riverbed below)  Hmm, maybe I
  should've learned to cast spells.

  After depositing Lyra, Arnold, and Otto on the far side, the trio
of elven flyers returned to pick up more passengers.  From their new
vantage point, the three depositees could see more jungle, stretching
out ahead of them.  However, the terrain seemed to be changing, for
small hills rose every so often within the jungle.

Otto:  That's weird.
Arnold:  Maybe moundains lie ahead.
Lyra:  Surely we'd see them, if that were the case.
Bosco:  (lands nearby)  Hi, everybody!
wispy thing:  (flies out of some short bushes, alarmed)  Snrrd!
Arnold:  Aaa?
Otto:  I think he's trying to tell us something, if he's that

  Sure enough, at that very moment, three gigantic lizards broke
from their hiding places, charging the fractional party!  Each of
the creatures was a good thirty feet long, and though they were
mere animals, the things' sheer size made them formidable foes.

Bosco:  Eep!  (he jets upward, out of the path of a marauding lizard)
lizard#1:  Gronk?  (it slows down, then finds itself face-to-face with
Arnold:  (standing ready, his gigantic sword poised for an attack)
  Hi dhere.
Otto:  (not so quick to react, he is hit by a huge, swinging clawed
  leg and driven into the ground)  Fuc-
lizard#2:  (twists and turns its paw, smearing the dwarf into the
  soft ground)  Gronnnnk!
Lyra:  (backs up toward the log, correctly reasoning that this tactic
  will cause the third lizard to slow in its charge toward her)  Nice
lizard#3:  (stops, having cornered the elven woman so that her only
  path of escape is out onto the narrow log)  Gronk!  (it slowly,
  cautiously advances on its victim)
Lyra:  (trying to discreetly cast a spell while backing up and not
  falling off of the log)  Hell.

  Fortunately, the other adventurers were on the ball.  Belphanior
carried Mongo toward the battle, and the dwarf broke free of his own
free will, dropping into the battle from a fifteen-foot height.  As
he had previously reasoned, the dwarf fell like a rock - a heavy one.

Mongo:  Yee-hah!  (he lands atop lizard#3, cracking several of its
  ribs in the process)
lizard#3:  (snaps and claws in vain, unable to dislodge the attacker)
  Gronk!  (it slaps the log with its tail as it fights Mongo, causing
  the makeshift bridge to wobble)
Lyra:  (slips and loses her footing, sliding down the side of the log)
  Whoaaaaa-  (she clutches reflexively at bark and branches, none of
  which afford her any purchase as she slips off into space)  Ohhhhh,
Alindyar:  Lyra!  (carrying Peldor across the ravine, he almost drops
  the thief)
Belphanior:  (swoops down, catching Lyra by the scruff of her cloak)
Lyra:  (suddenly realizes that she's not falling anymore)  What?
Belphanior:  Relax, and I'll take you right back to the battle.
Lyra:  Oh, boy, I can't wait.

  Meanwhile, Alindyar had just dropped Peldor onto the far side of the
ravine, and Ged was about to let Gorin go.

Gorin:  Thanks for the ride!  (he pushes Ged's hands away, forcing
  the elf to drop him in much the same manner that Belphanior dropped
Ged:  Well!  There's gratitude for you.

  The fall, while painful, wouldn't have been a serious one.  Oddly
enough, though, Gorin wasn't falling!

Gorin:  (floating to the ground like a feather)  Huh?!?
lizard#2:  (pawing at the ground, it lies unsuspecting, below the
  floating dwarf)
Gorin:  Oh, well...(he raises his axe)  Hoo-yah!
lizard#2:  (looks up just in time to see the axe that shears off a
  chunk of its head)  Gronk!  (it flails about for a moment, then
  takes off into the jungle, howling in pain)  Gronnnnk!

  Meanwhile, Mongo had finally been dislodged from the lizard's
scaly back.  He bashed the thing once with his metal club, but a
swipe of its powerful tail knocked the weapon from his fingers.

Mongo:  Dammit!  (utterly enraged, he catches the thrashing tail on
  its next pass)  Hah!  Now I'll show you, you freaky lizard...(he
  exerts his giant-strength to its fullest, tugging at the creature's
lizard#3:  Gronk?!?
Mongo:  Nnnngh!  (using the tail, he swings the lizard around - and
  over the ravine's edge, letting it go with a grunt)
lizard#3:  (falling snout-over-tail into the crevasse)  Groooooonk-
Mongo:  (slightly dizzy, he looks around)  Heh.  Piece of cake...!

  Nearby, the first lizard had its hands full with Arnold.  The huge
barbarian had nearly cleft its skull open with his first blow, and
now the lizard had snatched him up in its jaws.  However, both Arnold
and his armor were more durable than that

Arnold:  (laying about with his sword, he scores numerous smaller
  wounds)  Die, beadst!
Bosco:  (swoops down, stabbing the foe in one eye with his smaller,
  but equally deadly sword) Lights out!
lizard#1:  Gronk!  (it thrashes about wildly, roaring in rage and
  agony)  GRONK!

  Figuring that now would be as good a time as any to change his
tactics, Arnold used his sword like a saw, stabbing it through the
creature's cheek and tearing wildly.

Arnold:  Ah-nold!
lizard#1:  (drops this rather painful meal and chews oddly, trying
  to figure out what happened to its mangled jaw)  Gronk?!?
Peldor:  (leaps mightily, spearing the lizard's tiny brain with a
  well-aimed swordthrust)  Aha!
lizard#1:  Gronk!  (it spasms, knocking both foes down, but quickly
  slows in its convulsions, dying)  Grrr...
Peldor:  (stands, brushing himself off)  As you can see, the mighty
  Peldor has things well-in-hand.
Arnold:  I can see that.  (covered in blood, little of it his own,
  he sucks in great lungfuls of air)  Whew...
Mongo:  Hey, maybe you and I should call ourselves 'the eaten and
Arnold:  Naa.  I was never really eaden.
wispy thing:  (emerges from the slain lizard's mouth)  Naarf!

  By now, the last arrivals were being brought to this side, though
the battle was over.

Songa:  (lands fleetly on the soft ground, a spear at the ready)
  Where did all the foes go?
Peldor:  Sorry, but the great Peldor scared them away.
Tanya:  Must've been your breath.
Songa:  (looks around, frowning)
Rillen:  I fired a few arrows from the other side...didn't they
  have any effect?
Belphanior:  I never saw any of them.
Mongo:  Me neither.
Rillen:  Hmph.
Bosco:  (points to the tail of a shaft, stuck in one corpse's hide)
  I think you hit them...but they were just too big to feel it.
Rillen:  Ah.  Good.
Otto:  (pulls himself out of a dwarf-shaped indention in the floor
  of the jungle)  Oooh, my aching head...(he staggers around in a
Belphanior:  Believe me, I know what you feel like.
Alindyar:  (lays a hand on the elf's shoulder)  My thanks, for
  saving Lyra.
Belphanior:  Ah, don't sweat it.  We're all well beyond that point
  these days.

  Wounds were bound, weapons were cleaned, and so on and so forth.
They could only surmise that the trio of lizards had been lying in
wait, ready to attack anyone who walked out onto the bridge.  The
crossing by air had forced the reptiles to try a different approach
or lose their meal.

Mongo:  (peering over the edge of the great crevasse, at the widely
  splattered lizard corpse below)  It kinda all balances out, though.
  A bunch of smaller animals have lunch for a week now.
Songa:  (shrugs)  It's the circle of life.
Belphanior:  (almost makes a comment, then decides against it)

  Shortly before dusk fell, they suddenly and unexpectedly came upon
a majestic and breathtaking scene:  a huge waterfall, towering above
their heads, marked the site of some above runoff.  The waterfall
cascaded down, thundering into an outcropping of boulders; there had
to be some underground route among these, for only minor rivulets of
water trickled away from the boulders.  In the vicinity of the falls,
the jungle faded away into short, rough, scrubby hills.
  As they watched, this wonder of nature continued to slam water
down with ungodly force, causing their ears to roar.

Ged:  Boccob!  What a splendid sight!
Otto:  Hey, I've got an idea that's gonna sound crazier than it is.
Tanya:  (glances at Bosco)  It wouldn't be the first time.
Otto:  Maybe we could make camp _inside_ the falls tonight.
Alindyar:  (shocked)  What?!?
Otto:  Inside the falls.  There's probably a grotto behind that wall
  of water...nobody'd ever think to look there, and it would be a
  snap to fortify.
Songa:  (nods)  This idea has merit.
Bosco:  And just think:  even if we can't stay there, someone might
  have left a hidden treasure there for us!  Why, I once read this
  fable where a lepre-
Ged:  Camping within a waterfall...what a notion!  I like it.
Belphanior:  We'd have to go check it out first.  Getting behind that
  waterfall might be tricky.

  As it turned out, finding a way behind the falls was a trivial
matter.  A narrow ledge of rock, complete with many handholds and
not as water-bombarded as it first appeared, snaked around the
boulders.  Peldor and Songa scouted this area, cautiously making
their way along the ledge while the others held the far end of the
ropes tied to the scouts' waists.  The pair vanished into the thick,
swirling mists, but no sharp pulls on the rope meant danger.  Not
long after vanishing behind the falls, Peldor came back out, a wide
grin plastered across his face.

Peldor:  It's perfect!  There's a big cave back there - more than
  big enough for all of us to sleep and not roll into each other-
Rillen:  Uh...where's Songa?
Peldor:  Oh, she's busy fastening another rope to a boulder inside
  the cave.  That way, even someone who weighs nothing can safely
  enter the grotto.
Ged:  Of course.
wispy thing:  Fssss.  (it flies through the waterfall, perhaps intent
  upon finding its own way into the grotto)
Belphanior:  Hmm.
Mongo:  (looking around at the darkening jungle)  Well, let's get in
  there and make that camp.

  They did, and as suspected, fortifying the camp was a simple
matter.  Of course, a being of water could slip inside rather easily,
but since they hadn't seen any such creatures on the island, this
possibility was quickly discounted.  There was only a single path
of approach to the grotto, for the other side of the waterfall had
no ledge or other walkway, unless perhaps one was a waterproof
spider with incredible strength.
  The party made camp for the night, happier than they had been any
night thus far on this island.

Ged:  By my reckoning, we should reach the great ape's lair within a
Bosco:  You mean we'll find it tomorrow?
Ged:  You're on your way, Bosco.
Mongo:  Baldy lied to us when he said this was a short, one-day trip.
Gorin:  Maybe he was just confused.  After all, the man was ancient.
Mongo:  Hmm, good point.
Belphanior:  (exploring the back of the cavern, he is disappointed
  to find no secret tunnels or chambers)  Guess I'll just get a good
  night's sleep.

next:      Oonga's lair!
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     This story has the unique distinction of being written
  in another city altogether.  Hmm, maybe I should've gotten that
  laptop after all.
    Thanks to various readers for minor suggestions that finally
  saw light in this episode.  I'd been saving a lot of them, both
  on paper and in my head, and a lot of them got used at last.

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