Chapter #853

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2004 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!                                          +
+   Daffodil        11th level human druidess of Obad-Hai                 +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger of Ehlonna                    +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid of Obad-Hai  +
+   Rillen          18th level human warrior monk                         +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+                                                                         +
+   Eyer            13th/16th level wood elven fighter/acrobat            +
+   Leila           12th/12th level female grey elven warrior/mage        +
+   Kiel Morgan     14th level human warrior                              +
+   Og              16th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Relmar          18th level human high priest of Pelor                 +
+   Thorlok         11th level human war-mage                             +
+   Validor         11th level human wizard (sage/astrologer)             +
+   Date:           5/22/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the ship _Odyssey_, amidst the Solnor Ocean           +
+   Climate:        dark and cloudy                                       +
+   "Fascinating, very fascinating...perhaps even true."                  +
+                                           - from _Where Eagles Dare_    +

                       DCCCLIII.  Maelstrom

  The _Odyssey_ is undergoing repairs even as she continues on her course
through the unknown reaches of the Solnor Ocean...

Kiel:  (walks across the deck, toward the command cabin in the ship's bow)
Halbarad:  What's the story with the rudder?
Kiel:  There is no story with the rudder.  A lot of other things were
  damaged in the storm, but the rudder's fine.  (he sighs, exasperated)
  This makes no sense.  The rudder's fine, and even with some of the sails
  damaged, we have plenty of wind.  The ship's moving fine, and there's
  nothing obviously wrong with why are we still veering slightly

  Just then, a speck in the sky drew closer, soon becoming a square:
Validor's flying carpet, upon which the old sage-wizard and the elven
sorceress Leila sat.

Kiel:  Ah, they're back.  Maybe they have some answers-
Leila:  (practically leaps off of the carpet, in a state of near-panic)
  We've got to turn this ship around!
Kiel:  What?  Why?
Validor:  So that we all live to see tomorrow-
Leila:  We're wasting time!  Every moment we stand here talking, we're
  being drawn closer!
Validor:  The biggest damned whirlpool you ever saw!
Leila:  It's got to be at least a thousand feet across...maybe more.
Validor:  Oh, I'd say a lot more.
Leila:  It was hard to tell from above, there's no real sense of scale
  to such things.
Kiel:  You're joking-  (he frowns)  No, you're not joking, are you?
Validor:  This is no joking matter.  Slowly, despite our course and our
  sails, we're moving toward that monstrosity.
Leila:  If we get sucked in, there's no chance we'll survive.  Zero.
  That whirlpool could eat a city.
Kiel:  Wow.
Validor:  If someone told me this, I'd think they were crazy too, except
  that we've seen it.  (he frowns)  I wish we _were_ crazy.
Leila:  Our only hope is to get away from it - travel in the opposite
Validor:  Which I make to be south-southwest.
Kiel:  (begins shouting orders to crewmen, who immediately begin to turn
  the sails)
Validor:  I'm not sure if that will be enough.
Daffodil:  Well, then, let's help the wind along.  (to Peyote)  Double
  gusts of wind?
Peyote:  Right on, babe.  (they both begin spellcasting)

  While the druids worked their magic, Validor and Leila returned to the
sky again, using the magic carpet.  Other priests and magi worked spells
to help determine how far the _Odyssey_ was from the monstrous whirlpool,
and whether the thing was still drawing the ship closer.

tall, blue-cloaked priest:  Damn!  We're still being pulled toward it!
Kiel:  Let's wait until Peyote and Daffodil finish their spells, and add
  their power to the normal wind.
Peyote:  Almost done...
Daffodil:  Just another moment...

  Meanwhile, certain passengers - Halbarad, Rillen, Songa, Eyer - were
powerless to help with these efforts.

Halbarad:  This turn of events definitely - as Peyote would say it -
Eyer:  You have to admit, though, there are worse ways to go than being
  sucked into a gigantic whirlpool in the middle of an unexplored ocean.
Rillen:  That doesn't really help boost our spirits.  Just think about
  it...a whirlpool this big can kill you in so many ways...drowning,
Eyer:  Maybe, and maybe not.  If you think about it, the whirlpool might
  actually lead to some other, wondrous place, like the center of the
Songa:  (angrily)  Shut up.
Eyer:  Err...right.

  By now, the druidic couple had cast their wind-spells, and the mighty
sails of the _Odyssey_ billowed with the powerful gusts.  Truly, it would
have taken a typhoon to match the level of power that now hit the ship's
sails in the form of wind...

Kiel:  (watching the sails stretch to their limits, while the masts
  bend and creak)  Wow.
Peyote:  (concentrating as he directs the wind exactly where it needs to
Daffodil:  (likewise)
first mate:  (to Kiel)  Some of the eyebolts are starting to pop...much
  more of this and we'll lose the sails, one by one - and that's if the
  masts don't start snapping.
Kiel:  Damn.  (he turns to the tall, blue-cloaked priest)  Are we moving
  away from the whirlpool yet?
tall, blue-cloaked priest:  Yes, but barely...these waters are too choppy
  and that's slowing us down.
random mage:  (nods)  My spells tell me the same thing.  We need something
  else if we're to escape-
Relmar:  Say no more.  (he begins chanting)

  The high priest of Pelor usually dealt with spells involving light,
the sun, and so on...but apparently, he had other tricks up his robed
sleeve as well.  As he chanted, the ocean waters somehow calmed down,
the waves levelling off, their force dissipating before they hit the

Halbarad:  I didn't know that priests of Pelor could do that...
Eyer:  High priests...and Relmar is capable of all sorts of things.  He
  was an adventurer once, and he knows about all sorts of different holy
Rillen:  Hm.

  With the high priest's magic added to the effort, the _Odyssey_ was
actually moving away from the distant, unseen maelstrom now!

Leila:  (high in the sky, to the northeast, she peers over the edge of
  the magic carpet)  I think it's working...whatever "it" is that they're
  doing down there.
Validor:  I won't feel safe until the ship is a good ten leagues away
  from that whirlpool.
Leila:  _You_ won't feel safe?  What if we fell off of this thing right
  now?  We'd be sucked into that thing pretty quickly.
Validor:  Good point.  Let's retreat...halfway between yonder vortex and
  the _Odyssey_.

  Hours later, the ship was out of danger, and the principal crew had
gathered in the main steering cabin, with a sizable map unrolled across
a table.  This map was largely blank, its leftmost edge depicting the
eastern edge of the known world.  Using sextants and magic, Kiel and
others were marking the voyage's progress into the unknown reaches of
the Solnor Ocean; any significant findings (landmasses, islands, and the
like) would be noted on this map.

Peyote:  Like that whirlpool.  (he frowns)  Damn, I wish I'd gotten to
  see it.  It sounded gnarly.
Kiel:  Nothing that can swallow a city is "gnarly."
Peyote:  No, that's exactly why it _is_ gnarly!
Leila:  Enough of this.  (she makes a mark on the parchment with a thin,
  platinum stylus, and that spot on the map becomes a tiny animated
  whirlpool)  So that's where it's located...but does it move, or is it
Validor:  I believe it to be stationary.  Effects like that are usually
  tied to something deep underwater, or some powerful magic.  My scrying
  spells indicated that it wasn't moving, too.
Leila:  Good.  So we'll sail around it - well around it, giving it the
  agreed-upon ten leagues' berth - and resume our course.
Validor:  That should only set us back a week, ten days at the most.
Kiel:  (watching the miniature animated whirlpool on the map)  When this
  voyage is done and we get back to civilization, we'll be able to warn
  others about that thing.
Halbarad:  Are "others" going to be making the same voyage...and going
  to the new land, the new world we're seeking?  (he frowns)  That might
  not be the best thing.
Kiel:  (puts his hands up)  Relax, relax.  All of that's in the future,
  to be determined.  All we have to worry about is finding whatever's
  out there.

next:      sargasso
released:  12/31/04
notes:     Well, I've been writing again for one year - this episode gets
  released to the world on the last day of 2004.  I can't say that it's
  been easy for me to find the time to keep doing these, and I can't say
  how long I'll keep it up, but here are some encouraging facts:
  1) I have been fairly successful at keeping a 2-4 episode reservoir
     most of the time, to see me through periods when I'm busy with other
     things and don't have time to write
  2) I have a girlfriend who supports my writing habit and helps me make
     the time to pursue it
  3) I have no shortage of ideas for new stories; admittedly, most of
     them involve Belphanior, but that's still better than nothing
  4) You readers still seem to be enjoying the stories, which counts for
     a lot, in my opinion as the writer

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