Chapter #857

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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       +
+   1991-2005 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:           6/15/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late morning                                          +
+   Place:          the ship _Odyssey_, amidst the Solnor Ocean           +
+   Climate:        cloudy and warm                                       +
+   "Man can learn nothing unless he proceeds from the known to the       +
+    unknown."                                                            +
+                                                      - Claude Bernard   +

                    DCCCLVII.  Three Months Out

  It has been a week since the battle with the fish-men, and more than
three months since the _Odyssey_ set out from the mainland.  Now, some
are beginning to wonder just how far the ship has journeyed, and if an
end is in sight...

Halbarad:  (standing in the steering-cabin along with the other pseudo-
  officers of the voyage)  Surely some sage has figured out the sailing
  distance around the world, which is the longest that this trip could
  possibly be.
Songa:  And surely we've sailed long enough to be nearing that limit.
Kiel:  Actually, it would take the better part of a year, assuming no
  undiscovered landmass in-between.
Rillen:  What do we know of the Oerik continent's boundaries, and other
  land masses of the world?
Kiel:  Well...(he opens a cabinet, looks through some maps, and pulls
  one out)  What I'm about to show you is _not_ common knowledge to the
  vast majority of the Flanaess, and should be treasured as such.
Songa:  (nods)  Fine by me.
Kiel:  (unfurls the map on the small round table near the back of the
  cabin)  As you can see, the "known" portion of the Oerik continent is
  actually just its eastern one-third or so.
Halbarad:  (marveling at the vast tracts of wilderness to the east and
  south of the known, mapped Flanaess)  Mmm.
Peyote:  Wow, dude...I had no idea there was this much...else out there!
Daffodil:  I bet my father does.  (she regards that portion of the map)
  Although there's not much in the way of forest over there.
Kiel:  Most of this-  (he points to some deserts and barrens)  - is the
  millenia-old fallout of the Suel-Bakluni wars, the Invoked Devastation
  and the Rain of Colorless Fire, and all that.
Eyer:  (nods)  Once upon a time, the two greatest empires in the world
  went to war and ended up wiping each other out.
Rillen:  A classic case of stupidity.
Eyer:  My people still laugh about it to this day.
Halbarad:  I notice that this map doesn't detail anything beyond the
  Oerik continent...but there's plenty of empty space on the map.
Kiel:  Right.  All the efforts of sages, mages, explorers, adventurers,
  and cartographers - for hundreds and thousands of years - and all we
  have is what's on this map.
Leila:  Which is why we're on this ship, hundreds of leagues out in the
  middle of nowhere.
Kiel:  Right.  It falls to us to see what's out here.  (he points at
  the large, completely blank portion of the map)
Halbarad:  And others have tried in the past...?
Kiel:  They have, and none have ever returned to tell the tale.
Leila:  Which makes sense, if you consider what we've had to overcome
  just to get this far:  pirates, agents from the Scarlet Brotherhood,
  giant sharks, a titanic whirlpool.
Og:  Don't forget those fish-men.  Even though we beat them, we also
  lost fourteen warriors in that fight.
Leila:  I wasn't forgetting them - they were just last on the list.
Og:  (grumbling to himself)
Kiel:  Anyhow, Leila's right:  these are all good reasons why no one
  who's set out across this ocean has ever succeeded.
Peyote:  I don't mean to sound like a party pooper here, but we've been
  at sea for months, and _we_ still haven't succeeded.  Maybe everyone
  else who tried died of boredom.
Songa:  Those fish-men weren't boring - my fighting skills had been
  getting dull.
Halbarad:  (to Rillen)  You've got a good woman there.
Eyer:  It's also possible - I mean we have to consider - that someone
  succeeded in this quest, but simply didn't return to tell of it.
Leila:  As in, didn't want to return, or couldn't return?
Eyer:  (shrugs)  Who can say?

  The conversation was interrupted by a crewman who pulled the cabin
door open, panting.

crewman:  The lookout's sighted land!
Peyote:  Whoa!

  Within moments, everyone was outside on deck, despite the steady rain
that had been falling all morning (and was in fact the reason they had
been inside the cabin to begin with.)

Kiel:  (using a spyglass, he scans the horizon)  Damn, but there sure is
  land ahead.
Halbarad:  (checking the edge of his axe)  I wonder what sorts of people
  or creatures await us there.
Rillen:  (to Songa)  Sometimes this trip's been boring, but I'll tell you,
  when something's going on, it's always something big.
Songa:  If the land ahead is a new continent, the whole tone of this
  voyage will be changed.
Eyer:  I doubt it would just be an island...unless there's a continent
  nearby, then islands make more sense.  (to Validor)  I'm not much of
  a sailor - this ocean mapping business is better left to you.
Validor:  No, my friend, you're right about continents and islands.  At
  the rate we're moving, and the distance to what's been sighted, we have
  hours until we know for sure.
Peyote:  Until we know for sure what strange and fantastic mushrooms grow
  there...not to mention the herbs and the grasses.
Daffodil:  You, my husband, have been away from land for too long.
Og:  (to Kiel)  I'll assemble a squad of soldiers.  We'll need to ready
  a longboat.  (he eyes Rillen, Halbarad, and the rest)  Or two.
Kiel:  One longboat...the twelve of us, plus eight soldiers.  We've got
  some time, though, until we get close enough for the longboat.
Leila:  I wonder what we'll find on this new land...primitive natives, or
  a flourishing advanced civilization...or perhaps nothing but wilderness
  and animals?
Relmar:  Speaking from a strictly clerical standpoint, it would be best
  if we found simple people.
Rillen:  Are you that eager to convert them to the worship of your god...
  the...oh, what's his name?
Relmar:  Pelor.  And yes, I'm naturally eager to build a new bastion of
  worship in a new land.  Who wouldn't be?
Rillen:  I was just thinking of all the harm that religion - and every
  other aspect of civilization - have brought to the land we sailed away
Peyote:  Dude...that's deep.
Kiel:  (to Rillen)  I understand what you're saying, but it's too late
  to think about that now.  You're three months from home and out of
Rillen:  (shaking his head, he mumbles something about the need for foes
  and a good fight)

  The hours seemed to creep by, as every adventurer and crewman made
ready in his or her own way.  Finally, well after midday, as the rain had
died down to a light drizzle, they neared the land...

Leila:  (somewhat disappointed)  It's an island.
Kiel:  (not disappointed in the least)  A rather large island, though...
Validor:  Actually, it's not.  It can't be more than five hundred feet
  across.  Something's unusual about those trees, though, and that sand.
  I suggest that we scout by air while the longboat sails for the island.
Kiel:  Agreed.  Leila, go with him.  Only wizards can offer us assistance
  from the air anyway.

  Without further ado, they readied the longboat and the flying carpet
and made ready to explore the island ahead.

next:      a startling discovery
released:  1/28/05
notes:     Since this ship has to land somewhere, eventually, the topic
  of world geography will soon come up.  I haven't made a final decision
  about which world map I'm using in the Oerth of my stories.  From here are some I've found online:

  (official)  updated versions of the "classic" World of Greyhawk map

  (unofficial)  homemade map of the entire continent but not the world

  (unofficial)  world map from the now-absent Codex of Greyhawk website

  If I can't find an "official" world map (or at least something put
forth by a source of quality nonofficial material online) then I'll have
to do it myself, I suppose.  Or I may just have them land on a new and
unexplored continent, but not detail the entire world.
  I'll cross this bridge when I come to it.

  New old fanmail!  Surf to  [ed.]

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