Chapter #705

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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   +
+   Belphanior      14th/14th/14th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+     Jutokai        8th level human archer                               +
+     Otto           8th/11th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+     Razor Charlie  9th level human fighter                              +
+     Skektek       12th level human wizard                               +
+     Ys            13th level reptilian fighter                          +
+     Zhao           8th level human swordsman                            +
+   Bosco           12th level halfling thief                             +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+     Gorgo          9th level dwarven berserker                          +
+                                                                         +
+   Boltar          high priest of Pholtus                                +
+   Drak            rather cultured barbarian warrior                     +
+   Parekh          dark-skinned female wizard                            +
+                                                                         +
+   Neera           female human sage/astrologer                          +
+   Date:           3/24/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          the sky above the Great Kingdom                       +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "You don't finish growing just get older."                   +
+                                 - from _Leon_ aka _The Professional_    +

                         DCCV.  Bon Voyage

  The morning sun shone, bright and clear, on the airship as it sailed
through the sky above the clouds...

Gorgo:  (standing on the deck, taking in the magnificent view)  Well,
  this sure is different.

  Along with the others who made up the party, the dwarf now sped over
the Solnor Ocean, ever eastward, into the unknown.  The group was varied
and diverse, ranging from an attractive young sage to a cold-hearted
killer, from a diminutive halfling to a hulking reptilian.  But here,
now, they were all united in one common cause:  their most challenging
and dangerous mission ever.
  Below decks...

Neera:  Panagaea, eh?  Of course I'd heard of it.  I just never thought
  I'd be going there.
Belphanior:  Unless a well-informed source was just plain wrong, we're
  headed there.  I hope you're ready.
Neera:  (nods)  I've been looking over the material that Parekh gathered
  back in Rauxes, trying to put the pieces together.
Belphanior:  Any luck?
Neera:  Not yet, but soon.  I'm sure of it.
Belphanior:  Are you able to work effectively with Parekh?
Neera:  (sighs)  Yes...finally.  She treats others as if they're less
  intelligent, I think, until they prove that they're not.  Then, and
  only then, does one earn her respect as a peer.
Belphanior:  I see.
Neera:  Anyway, we should have some answers by the time we reach the
Belphanior:  And you're sure you're up for this?
Neera:  It's a bit too late to back out now, isn't it?  (she shrugs)
  I'm ready.  Like you said, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.
  The sage who lays eyes on the secrets of lost Panagaea...well, that
  sage will go down in the history books.
Belphanior:  Glad to hear it.

  Ever since the airborne voyage had begun, Belphanior had kept the
attractive young woman close to him, even letting her stay in his own
cabin.  Though the elf believed that Neera could handle herself, she
was still an outsider to his longtime companions, and both she and they
knew it.  Unlike Parekh, who possessed a don't-mess-with-me attitude
(and the power to back it up) Neera would need a little longer to be
accepted by the others.  Of course, Parekh and her two companions had
also fought side-by-side with Belphanior and the others in the great
battle of Helgate, so she had earned their respect already.
  Of course, it was also possible that Belphanior had been counting on
certain other things happening, behind closed doors.  Otto had raised
an eye, perhaps amused, perhaps concerned, when he saw Neera emerge
from Belphanior's quarters this morning.  It was not his place, however,
to judge or criticize.  If he needed to say something, he would, and
until then, Belphanior's whims were his own business.

Mongo:  You're right, though - this is a once in a lifetime deal, and
  we've gotta try.
Bosco:  (agreeing with Mongo)  Yep, we sure do.  That's what life is
  all about.  What sort of adventurous souls would we be if we let this
  chance pass by without making a stab at it?
Mongo:  It's the glory, Bosco, as much as the gold.
Bosco:  Hey, speak for yourself.

Otto:  Okay, let's get to it.

  In the small stateroom were gathered Belphanior, Otto, Mongo, Bosco,
Parekh, Boltar, and Neera.  This was a basic planning session, and the
other members of both groups were busy elsewhere on the airship.
Skektek had always fancied himself an airship pilot, so Belphanior had
let him have at it.  As for Parekh and Boltar, it only seemed fair to
at least let them listen in; also, with Parekh's intellect, Belphanior
thought it a good idea to have her input.  The same case could be made
for Boltar's wisdom and good judgement.  Drak had no interest in such
things, and was above-decks, enjoying the strong breeze like so many
of the others aboard.
  The elf had thought about keeping Bosco out of the planning, but
as the group's most skilled thief, the halfling had a place in this
meeting.  Besides, left to his own devices, a bored Bosco could be
a troublesome Bosco, especially on a ship this small.

Parekh:  What's our estimated travel time?
Neera:  I'm just guessing on the speed, but based on the landmass'
  position beneath us and the time since dawn, we should be there in
  five days' time.
Boltar:  (nods, impressed)
Mongo:  (feeling quite ill from being away from land for this long,
  but refusing to show it, he suffers in silence, quietly leaning
  against a bulkhead)
Belphanior:  (by way of explanation)  If we're over land, we can't
  fly at night due to the danger of mountains.  Out in the open,
  over the ocean, we're safer.
Boltar:  Ah.  You must be a powerful wizard indeed, to command a
  ship such as this.
Belphanior:  (nods)
Parekh:  (wondering just where Belphanior acquired the airship)
Boltar:  (to Neera)  At night, you'll use the stars to navigate
  and get our position and bearing?
Neera:  Yes.  Each time I take such a reading, we'll correct our
  course - that way, we never stray too far.  When we're within
  a day of our objective, we'll probably want to slow down and
  start keeping an eye out.
Belphanior:  Bosco, do you still have that magical jewelled
Bosco:  I sure do.  (he looks around)  Why?  (he thinks for a
  moment)  Oh, yeah!
Belphanior:  (shaking his head)
Otto:  (to Boltar)  Trust me - when you need a trap disarmed, no
  one's better than Bosco.
Boltar:  I have no doubts.
Parekh:  I could point out that a competent wizard can handle such
  tasks without ever touching the trap.
Bosco:  And I could point out that within, oh, say, an anti-magic
  zone, that wizard would be worm food.
Parekh:  (smiles)  Touche.
Belphanior:  Okay, then.  No use thinking about the island until
  we can see it and get an idea of its size and composition.  I'd
  suggest that we stay well-rested and sharp, and prepare ourselves.
  This won't be any walk in the park.
Otto:  Good.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

next:      time to see if that lost isle really does exist
released:  1/15/01
notes:     We've just about gotten all of the BS out of the way - next
  episode will really get things kicked off.
    Before sextants, there were astrolabes.  See
  for more information.
    General notes on this quest:  the tomb itself will be a significant
  challenge, a blend of various great tombs and crypts in fiction and
  nonfiction.  I'm studying Egyptian pyramids and burial places, places
  like the Money Pit (where people have been trying unsuccessfully to dig
  up treasure for 200+ years) and more.  Of course, there are always the
  gaming resources, like _Tomb of Horrors_ and _Return to the Tomb of
  Horrors_ and also the _Grimtooth's Traps_ series.
    Aside from the tomb itself, there are also the cultural, historical,
  and archaelogical issues surrounding it...not to mention the ecology
  and history of an island that's been hidden from the rest of the world
  for millennia.  Who knows what might have developed there in all that

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