Chapter #630

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                                   +   +
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                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 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!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Rillen          18th level human monk                                 +
+     onyx dog figurine                                                   +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+   Tarl            barbarian warrior                                     +
+     war dogs (9)                                                        +
+   Date:           2/4/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           nighttime                                             +
+   Place:          within the eastern Griff Mountains                    +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Don't you guys get it?"                                              +
+   "Oh, we get it.  We just don't like it."                              +
+                                      - from _Tremors 2:  Aftershocks_   +

                       DCXXX.  The River Wild

  Fairly deep inside the caverns, the spying adventurers have been spotted
thanks to an easily-excited bat.

bugbear below:  (pointing)  I seen them!  I seen them!
Songa:  Damn.  (she looks around)  We've got to get back to the last fork
  in the path, and fast - or we'll be trapped, cornered!
Rillen:  Right.  (he leaps ahead of the others, staff ready)  Let's go!

  In the long, hectic moments it took for them to re-navigate the newly-
excavated section, the bugbears had gotten pretty close.  Their yells and
movements filtered toward the trio of invaders.

Songa:  They knew exactly where to go!
Tarl:  That makes sense - these are their caverns, after all.
Rillen:  Can we make it back to the three-passage fork in time?
Songa:  I'm not sure...
Rillen:  (pauses as they run by the passage from which the sound of
  rushing water was heard before)  What about here?
Tarl:  You mean to escape by the river?
Songa:  Assuming there's a river.
Rillen:  You two go check it out.  I'll stay here and skewer any bugbears
  that come our way.

  The warrior darted down the passage, toward the three-pronged forked
passage.  He figured that the more ground they gained - the more area
they had to move around in - the longer they'd have.

Rillen:  (stops about thirty feet short of the triple-headed passage and
  waits, bow ready and arrow nocked)

  He didn't have to wait long.

bugbear:  (comes charging down the tunnel, right toward him, followed by

  Rillen figured that the humanoid hadn't seen him, standing there within
the shadows.  His arrow, doubled by the magic of the bow, made it clear
that an armed and dangerous foe was present.

bugbear:  (hit in the throat and shoulder by the two missiles, it falls,
  choking on its own blood)  Glurk!
bugbear #2:  (hot on the heels of its fellow, it stops short, tripping
  over the corpse)
Rillen:  (fires again)
bugbear #2:  (hit twice, through the skull, it perishes)  Argh!

  The other bugbears - too many to count accurately due to the narrow
passage and less-than-bright light - backed away, taking cover as best
they could.  Rillen didn't waste even a single arrow, though he knew
that any arrow he fired would probably strike a foe in these cramped
conditions.  Better to await a definite target...

bugbear #3:  (emerges from cover)  I bet they're gone-  Urk!  (it falls,
  twin arrows piercing its heart)
Rillen:  (nocks another arrow, waiting)

  A footfall behind him gave him pause, and he turned around to see what
Songa had found.

Songa:  (whispering)  We've found a river, all right - a big one!  And
  a boat!
Rillen:  (nods)  Take my bow and arrows - I'll be there in a moment.
Songa:  What?!?
Rillen:  I need to save my arrows, and I have an idea.

  The warrior hefted a small rock, about the size of his head.  Thanks
to the magical strength belt he wore, the tiny boulder seemed to weigh
almost nothing.  Rillen hurled it with all his might, the smashing impact
sending echoes through all of the passages.  Judging by the cursing of
the unseen bugbears, the missile had exploded and perhaps sprayed them
with sharp bits of stone.  Smiling, Rillen tossed a few more of the
makeshift missiles toward the foes, then backed away quickly, padding
back to the side passage where Songa and Tarl waited.

  The passage was short, and led to a large shelf of rock right next to
the river.  And what a river it was!  Fully thirty feet wide, the dark
water looked to be moving rather fast.  As for the boat...they couldn't
have asked for a better means of escape.  The craft was fifteen feet in
length and almost ten in width - plenty of space for the three humans as
well as the ten dogs.  They wasted no time, piling in and untying the
thick rope that moored the boat to a heavy boulder.

Tarl:  (grabs an oar)  We're going to need some power here.
Songa:  (glances at the passage back to the main complex)  They're close
  at hand!
Rillen:  Take the other oar.  (he retrieves his bow from the bottom of
  the boat)

  A number of bugbears spilled onto the crude stone dock, swords held
at the ready.  Rillen dropped the closest foe, and then another, as the
boat moved off into the underground river.  A spear or two was cast
after the fleeing adventurers, but the attempts were feeble and futile,
for the humans had made good their escape.

Tarl:  (looking around in the darkness)  Some light would help here.
Rillen:  (sets his bow down, taking up his magical light-wand)

  A quick word of command caused the iron ring at the bow of the boat to
emanate a bright light.

Songa:  Take the tiller - we need someone to steer.
Rillen:  But I don't know how-
Songa:  I'll do it - take the oar instead.
Rillen:  (does so, promptly, switching places with the huntress)
Tarl:  (to Rillen)  Ever rowed through rapids before?
Rillen:  I can't say that I have.
Tarl:  Okay, you're going to have to learn quickly.  Here are the basics.

  Tarl was an expert, and Rillen was a quick learner, and both were very
strong fellows.  All of this was put to the test a short time later, as
the boat began to be buffeted about by the raging river.  Tarl had gotten
his dogs to lie low and stay quiet, but they still looked scared.  Rillen
had bade his onyx dog return to statuette form, mainly to keep yet another
body out of the way.  Both men had a firm hold on their oars, and Songa
had braced herself in the back of the boat, steering as necessary when
they came upon each new pattern of rapids.

  The next half-hour was indescribable.  They were all shaken and beaten
against the hull of the boat.  Their reflexes were tested time and again
by low-hanging stalactites, rock formations in the river, and currents
that changed from weak to strong in a single moment.  And, of course,
they all got very, very wet.
  When the river finally calmed, it was so sudden that Rillen could
hardly believe it.

Rillen:  Whew...
Songa:  We're through the everyone okay?
Tarl:  Every muscle in my body is on fire, and this water's damned cold,
  but all in all, we're in good shape.
Rillen:  Did all of the dogs make it- oh.

  One of Tarl's dogs had apparently been knocked from the boat and lost
amidst the raging river.  They waited for a while, just in case the
river brought the animal to them; however, it didn't float out of the
rapids, alive or otherwise.

Songa:  It must have gotten caught in a rock...I'm sorry.
Tarl:  (sadly)  It was bound to happen, sooner or later.
Rillen:  (ruffles the wet head of one of the other dogs)  At least these
  others made it through.
Songa:  (looking around)  But through to where?
Tarl:  We're deep in the mountain now.  If this river keeps going, and
  there continue to be air pockets above its surface, we'll emerge from
  the mountains eventually.  Otherwise...
Rillen:  We could be in a bit of trouble.

next:      underground adventures
released:  4/13/00
notes:     I'm sure I've said this before, but whitewater rafting is a
  great deal of fun.  The river described in this episode wasn't meant
  to be representative of a realy risky rapid, just to be entertaining
  and a bit daunting, but not truly lethal.

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