Chapter #133

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                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1993 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                        +
+   THE PARTY:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Alindyar      15th level drow elf mage              (N)   +
+      Lyra       12th level female drow elf mage       (N)   +
+   Belphanior    12th/13th/13th level high elf w/m/t  (CN)   +
+   Ged           13th/13th level grey elf priest/mage (NG)   +
+      Arnold     11th level human warrior             (NG)   +
+        ?             grey cat (familiar)             (NG)   +
+   Mongo         15th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint      11th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                (N)   +
+   Rillen        15th level human warrior              (N)   +
+   Date:    n/a                                              +
+   Time:    n/a                                              +
+   Place:   some alternate dimension                         +
+   Climate: n/a                                              +
+   "Remember, only _you_ can prevent forest fires."          +
+                                        Smokey the Bear      +

             CXXXIII.  The Wild Ones of the Forest

  After defeating a fearsome hydra, igniting part of the
forest, and witnessing the coming of a freak thunderstorm,
the adventurers were huddling amidst the rainstorm when a
number of wild-looking elves suddenly surrounded them.

wild elf:  For your sakes, I certainly hope you've a
  jolly good reason for trying to burn our forest down.
Ged:  Uh...err...
Belphanior:  (steps forth)  Hey!  Of course we have a good
  reason!  We were fighting for our lives!  Fires happen
  at times like that...
wild elves:  (gasping in shock)  He''s...
wild elf leader:  Who in the bloody hell are _you_, mate?
Belphanior:  Me?  I'm Belphanior.
wild elves:  (conversing among themselves)
Flint:  What do you suppose they're talking about?
Mongo:  Well, judging by the other times things like this
  happened, I'd say they probably work for the Belphanior
  of this world.
Ged:  Yea, the other Alindyar did say that the Belphanior
  of these parts lived in the Blue Forest...
Belphanior:  Another me?!?  At last?  This is going to be
  a blast.
Lyra:  I hope you don't mean that literally.
Belphanior:  Who can say?
wild elf leader:  Now hear this, you ruffians.  We'll be
  going to see our chief now, and you're to come along.
Rillen:  Why?
wild elf leader:  Why ask why?  Let's be off.
Belphanior:  Hey, take us to your leader.

  They moved through the forest at a rapid clip, using a
series of trails and paths that most of the adventurers
couldn't even tell were there.  With the forest elves'
expert guidance, it was only a matter of hours before the
destination was reached.

Arnold:  (looking up)  Aaa.

  Before them was a marvelous treeborne village, nestled
entirely among the trees fifty feet up.  Sturdy platforms
of wood were lashed to thick tree trunks, and upon these
were built huts and walkways.  Numerous forest elves and
grizzled-looking human woodsmen stared down from their
perches, watching the newcomers with wary eyes.

Mongo:  How the hell are we gonna get up _there_?
Peldor:  Well, _I_ could climb, but all of you would be-
wild elf leader:  Quiet.  (he signals, and thick, knotted
  ropes are lowered from above)  As you can see, no one
  goes up without our say-so.
Lyra:  (floating upward silently)
wild elf leader:  Aie!
Lyra:  I do _not_ climb ropes.

  The adventurers and their escorts made it into the tree
village in short order, and the wild elf leader took them
through a large hall-type place.

wild elf leader:  As you can see, mates, our place is most
Lyra:  (smirking)
wild elf leader:  Not a word, you, or I'll have you shot.
elven archers:  (look on smugly)
Alindyar:  I would not recommend that course of action...
Rillen:  Hmm.
Ged:  Who are we going to see, anyway?
wild elf leader:  You'll see soon enough.
grey cat:  (jumps out of its master's pack and runs along
  at Ged's feet)  Meow!

  They were led into a smaller room at the end of the hall,
where a tall, rangy elf was eating a meal in silence.  A
huge wolf rested at the elf's feet, gnawing on a bloody
bone.  The animal looked fairly mean, but then again, so
did the elf.

tall elf:  (turns to face the party, revealing features
  identical to those of Belphanior)  So!  You are the ones
  who came from elsewhere, slew the evil general Mongo,
  and entered my forest, only to slay that hydra.  And all
  in the space of two days!
Peldor:  Extraordinary, isn't it?
Belphanior:  Hey, you're me!
Belphanior-2:  And you're me.  Tell me something I don't
Ged:  We have spoken with the hermit Alindyar, in the Great
Belphanior-2:  I knew that.
Rillen:  What of the battle with the other Mongo?  How did
  you know of that, too?
Belphanior-2:  I know everything.  Including the fact that
  now is a better time than ever to go after the Dread Lord
  Ged and put an end to his tyranny.
Ged:  You don't say.
Alindyar:  It just so happens that we must do that in order
  to return to our own world.
Mongo:  If the other Ged is as wimpy as the other me, we'll
  have no problem.
Belphanior-2:  He's not.  In fact, what leads you to think
  that the other Mongo is really dead?
Flint:  Aw, come on!  He _exploded_!
Ged:  Smithereens.
Belphanior-2:  Let me ask you this:  Did you find a hammer?
  Any armor?  A helmet, maybe?
Flint:  Cripes, this figures.
Rillen:  That other Mongo did seem to blow his top a bit
  too easily.
Belphanior-2:  Anyway, enough of the small talk.
large wolf:  (growls in agreement)
Belphanior-2:  Have a seat, why don't you?  We've got a lot
  of things to talk about...such as the invasion of the
  Dreaded One's fortress.
Arnold:  Yah.

  As they sat and rested, the second Belphanior outlined
his reasoning.  He viewed the adventurers' arrival as an
ideal time to invade Ged-2's fortress and put an end to
the evil one's reign of terror.  Since the adventurers
need to get into the place anyway, it made sense for the
two groups to help each other.

Ged:  Group?  Who's _your_ group?  I only see you.
Belphanior:  Good point he has there...are there invisible
  allies around or something?  (looks around)  Because my
  sword doesn't detect any...
Rillen:  (looking around warily)
Belphanior-2:  Well, for starters, there's Evergreen here.
  (holds up his sword, which glows with a bright green
  light)  Together, we are a force to be reckoned with.
Mongo:  (snoring)
Belphanior-2:  And then...(whistles quietly)
large wolf:  GrrraaAARGH!  (crunches his bone into halves
  and snarls fiercely)  Rrrrrr...
grey cat:  (gives the wolf a wide berth)
Mongo:  (jumps up and looks around wildly)  What?  Where?
Belphanior-2:  Oops, did I forget to mention Sparky?
Belphanior:  Sparky?!?
Mongo:  (sputtering)  What kind of a name is _Sparky_?!?
Ged:  By Boccob's ears, I wouldn't even name my _familiar_
grey cat:  (looks wounded)
Sparky:  (looks like he's about to tear someone apart)
Belphanior-2:  Don't underestimate Sparky.  He's killed
  humanoids who did...not orcs, mind you, but bugbears
  and gnolls.  Even an ogre or two.  He'd probably go
  after trolls, too, but you have to draw the line
Rillen:  Good wolf.  (grabs a chunk of meat from the table
  and tosses it to the wolf)
Sparky:  (catches the meat and gulps it down in one bite)
Belphanior-2:  Anyhow, there are other...allies that come
  to mind.  At least one who we'd have a chance to find
  on short notice.
Peldor:  Say, I'm hungry.
Belphanior-2:  So, have we a deal?
Mongo:  Hey, sounds good to me.
Alindyar:  Aye.
Arnold:  I.
Ged:  I believe we do.
Rillen:  Yes, bring on the food.
Belphanior:  (worried that his counterpart might be a bit
  of a wimp)

  Soon, they had moved outdoors, and were engaged in a
feast of magnificent proportions.  Everyone ate, drank,
and generally made merry.

Peldor:  (to Belphanior)  You know, we haven't had to eat
  a crappy meal since we came to this world.
Belphanior:  Hey, that's fine.  I like eating out.

  Unseen by all amidst the crowd, a black-clad figure
lay hidden in the trees above, waiting for the right
time to make a move.

next time :  more companions are found; to the fortress!

notes     :  I'm fresh out of notes.

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