Chapter #706

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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            barbarian warrior                                     +
+   Parekh          dark-skinned female wizard                            +
+                                                                         +
+   Neera           female human sage/astrologer                          +
+   Date:           3/28/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           afternoon                                             +
+   Place:          the sky above the Solnor Ocean                        +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Have I thanked you yet?"                                             +
+   "No."                                                                 +
+   "I will."                                                             +
+                                                   - from _Desperado_    +

                        DCCVI.  The Lost Isle

  After long days of travel in the wondrous skyship, the party nears its
mythical destination...or so it thinks...

Belphanior:  You're sure?
Neera:  Positive - _if_ your information was correct.
Belphanior:  We'll soon know.

  They had descended beneath the clouds, much closer to the surface than
they'd ever gone.  There was no land visible, anywhere, as far as the eye
could see.

Bosco:  (peering through his enchanted telescope)  Even my eye.
Belphanior:  (takes the item from the halfling, peering through it as he
  scans the horizon)
Bosco:  Hey!  No fair!  I'm the one with the eagle eyes!
Belphanior:  Bah.  (he hands the scope back)  Nothing.
Neera:  (eyeing the sun, she checks an arcane instrument, then a chart)
  If we hold this course, we'll cross the designated area within the
  hour.  But we have to hold this precise course.
Skektek:  (steering the skyship)  Aye, aye.

  It was truly bizarre to be out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded
by deep, dark blue water.  In fact, it was downright eerie.

Jutokai:  Do you realize what would happen if we crashed?
Bosco:  (thinking of Silthis, the elemental lord of water)  We'd be
Neera:  No doubt, even if we had a boat, it would take weeks to get back
  to civilization.  I'm still astounded at the speed of this skyship.
Zhao:  An understatement.  (he gazes in wonder at the ocean below)
Belphanior:  Everyone keep your eyes open.  That island's around here
  somewhere, and we're going to find it.
Mongo:  (increasingly ill from all this time away from land)  Good.
Gorgo:  (aware of this peculiar pull that Stormcrest exerts upon its
  bearer)  Maybe you could have brought a big rock along...or a crate
  of dirt.
Mongo:  (eyes his cousin)  What?
Gorgo:  You know, to keep the earth near you.
Mongo:  By resting in a dirt-filled box?  I'm not a vampire, dammit.
Gorgo:  (shrugs)  Just an idea.
Skektek:  (to Ys)  How big do you think this island will be?  Huge?
Ys:  I have no idea.
Boltar:  If it's the home of the Tomb of Panagaea, I'd expect it to be
  a huge place, a monument a lost city of gold.
Drak:  I bet it's a barren rock.  If you were going to hide the greatest
  treasure hoard in all of recorded history, why have an entrance at all?
  I'd just plug it with a big stone cap...let weeds and trees grow on the
  cap, until it becomes an island.
Parekh:  It wouldn't surprise me if the place was sunken, and we had to
  go underwater to get to it.
Bosco:  I've done that before...there was this guy with this boat that
  went underwater-
Otto:  Drawmij.
Parekh:  An underwater vessel, eh?  Hmm.  Interesting.
Bosco:  It sure was.
Belphanior:'re the one with the telescope.  Pay attention.
Bosco:  Sure thing!  (he returns his attention to the scanning of the
  ocean far below)
Belphanior:  (leans over the rail, eyeing the water beneath the skyship)

  It occurred to the elf that, had they undertaken this quest by means
of a seafaring ship, the voyage would have taken at least a month to
complete.  Of course, that assumed that there was an end to it.  He
didn't want to think about the possibility that the Tomb didn't really
exist, that this was all some big wild goose chase.

Belphanior:  (inhaling the cold ocean air)  Aaaaah.
Otto:  (walks over to the rail)  Wondering if we're actually going to
  find anything, out here in the middle of nowhere?
Belphanior:  Are we really that far out?
Otto:  According to that sage-woman's charts and maps, yes.  Nobody, but
  _nobody_ has ever ventured this far east.
Belphanior:  Well, now we have.  (he regards the other)  You're having
  second thoughts about this quest?
Otto:  I wouldn't say that.  We've been through some crazy shit, but
  this...this is still a cut above.  If it exists, anyway.
Belphanior:  You don't think it does?
Otto:  (shrugs)  Who knows?  The stories of the lost tomb are so common
  and old that you have to wonder where they came from in the first
Belphanior:  Yep, I wondered too...that's why I'm here.
Otto:  That's why we're all here, I think.  In some way, we all have to


Bosco:  (scanning the waters far below with his telescope)  Whoa.  (he
  does a double-take, then grins)  Well, I'll be damned...LAND HO!
Mongo:  What?!?
Bosco:  (jumping up and down with excitement)  I said, there's an island
  down there!

  There was an excited flurry on deck as everyone present dashed over
to the starboard side of the ship to get a look.

Ys:  (notes that the ship doesn't rock to one side, like a waterborne
  one would)  Interesting.  (he stands where he is, on the port side,
  since he can see over everyone else's heads anyway)  Land ho, indeed.

  The island ahead and below was roughly circular, though stretched
a bit so as to be vaguely oval.  It was sizable, perhaps five leagues
across, though it was hard to tell - not only were they fairly high
up, but a shroud of mist surrounded most of the island.  A small but
rugged peak jutted up from its center, breaking through the mists;
here and there, patches of dense woodland could be seen on the small
mountain's slopes.

Neera:  (consulting her charts and instruments, then the sun, then
  one instrument again)  Exactly where it's supposed to be.  (to
  Belphanior)  Your sources were correct - perfectly correct.
Belphanior:  Glad to hear it.
Mongo:  That oracle sure knew her stuff.
Belphanior:  (grins)  That she did, my friend.  That she did.
Drak:  Well, damn.  It really does exist.
Parekh:  Indeed.
Boltar:  Panagaea...
Skektek:  (peering over the rail)  We're directly over it now...
Belphanior:  We sure are.

  The elf watched as the others clapped each other on the back and
exchanged happy congratulations.  Mongo was doubly heartened at the
finding of the island, since it meant he could soon stand on dry,
firm land once again.

Mongo:  Well, the island doesn't look like anything special.
Belphanior:  We'll soon see.

next:      a look at those who follow the good guys
released:  1/18/01
notes:     Oh, yeah.

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