Chapter #158

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

+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1994 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:                                                +
+                                                             +
+   Arnold        11th level human warrior               (NG) +
+   Belphanior    12th/14th/13th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Ged           13th/14th level grey elven priest/mage (NG) +
+   Mongo         16th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+      Gorin       4th level dwarven warrior             (CG) +
+   Peldor        18th level human thief                  (N) +
+      Bosco       6th level halfling thief              (CN) +
+   Rillen        16th level human warrior                (N) +
+   Date:    9/8/573 C.Y. (Common Year)                       +
+   Time:    morning                                          +
+   Place:   the southeastern tip of the Timberway Forest     +
+   Climate: pleasantly cool                                  +
+   "Sure, I could have stayed there...could've even been     +
+    king.  But in my own way, I _am_ king."                  +
+                             - Ash, from _Army of Darkness_  +

     CLVIII.  World Tour, part 8:  The Frost Barbarians

  The adventurers have camped at the southeastern edge of the
Timberway Forest, and morning finds them ready to ride north-

Peldor:  (yawning)
Ged:  Up with you, lazy fool!
Peldor:  I'm not lazy.  Those of us who have to work harder
  simply require more sleep.
Ged:  (fuming)
Belphanior:  _Lovely_ day, isn't it?
Bosco:  (takes his boots off)  Yeah!  I think I'll go bare-
  foot today.
Gorin:  Phew...too bad for us.
Rillen:  I see why they call you small ones "hairfeet".
Bosco:  (wandering around happily)
wispy thing:  (emerges from an anthill)  sss.
Mongo:  (loading his horse)  I'm glad I bought a full-sized
  horse.  The pony I used to have - gods bless its soul -
  had a lot of trouble carrying me with all my armor...
Rillen:  Maybe that's why that humanoid army saw fit to rid
  you of it.  (he regards his own mount, the magnificent
  black stallion, with pride)
Belphanior:  Time to hit the road, folks.
Arnold:  (looking to the plains ahead)  Ah-nold is ready.

  With that, the party set out.  As planned, they rode in
the miles-wide "gap" between the Timberway Forest and the
Grendep Bay.  The grassy plain enabled them to see quite a
long way in any direction, just in case.

Mongo:  Damn straight.  You never know who or what might
Arnold:  Not my peoble.  We don't make war against Ratik
  or ids allies anymore.
Gorin:  Well, that's good to know.
Ged:  Uh...who _do_ you make war against?
Belphanior:  Yeah, who?
Arnold:  Aerby, the Bone Mardch...even the other bardbarian
  tribes, somedimes.  Not for a while, though, not thad.
Peldor:  That's reassuring.
Arnold:  Every so ofben, we go nordthwedst and attack the
  Stonefidsts.  But only once in a while.
Ged:  Stonefists?
Arnold:  Yah.  They're real badstards.
Rillen:  Hmm.

  They rode for a week, and several times encountered bands
of loggers, chopping wood or making ready to move already-
chopped wood southward.  These groups of woodsmen were all
the same:  big, burly men who were cheerful yet busy...

Mongo:  Ho, there!
woodsman:  (hefts a huge ax)  Ho!  Northward bound?  (he
  tosses the ax into a wagon, one of many loaded down with
  felled trees)
Belphanior:  Yup.
woodsman:  Then ye've an easy ride ahead.  The barbarians
  are in their peaceful season, methinks-  (he spots Arnold
  amongst the party)  Well, rot me eyes!  A barbarian!
Arnold:  (cheerfully)  We're always beaceful!
woodsman:  (looks around)
Mongo:  No monsters this way, then?
other woodsman:  Nope.  Used to be a mess o' orcs in these
  parts, but they got driven away a while back...
Belphanior:  (muttering)  Too bad.  I could have used some
  target practice.
Rillen:  These cut them down for boats?
woodsman:  Boats, usually, sometimes other stuff.  Ye need
  wood to make boats, you know...
Rillen:  Of course.
Ged:  Peyote and Halbarad wouldn't like this...hmm, wonder
  how they're doing these days?
Mongo:  Yeah, what's it been, two years?
Ged:  (thinking)  Two years, four months.  Give or take a
Mongo:  Bah.
Gorin:  Who are Halbarad and Peyote?
Peldor:  Just some dorks we used to hang around with.
Belphanior:  Yeah, we were in the Barrier Peaks when they
  left.  We had just fought that red dragon...
Rillen:  Which one?
Belphanior:  Hmm, that's right, there were more than one.
woodsmen:  Well, we've got to be on our way.  (their wood-
  filled wagons begin rolling again)
Ged:  Live long and prosper.
woodsman:  (confused)  Huh?
Mongo:  Take it easy, guys.  (the party rides on)

  As the woodsmen said, there were no monsters, bandits,
or other undesirables to be found, and a week after leaving
Marner, the adventurers left the forest and the coast behind
as they entered a huge expanse of prairieland.

Arnold:  (takes a deep breath)  Aaa, id's good to be home.

  To be sure, the temperature had dropped in the last week,
and was now cold enough to warrant long sleeves, if nothing

Bosco:  Brr.  (he finally puts his boots back on)
Arnold:  Usually the grass woulbd be covered in snow, but
  it's sdill fall.
Mongo:  Where exactly are we going now, Arnold?
Arnold:  Nordthward.  My home vidlage is a day's ride from
  here, to the nordth.

  They rode onward for a few more hours, until night fell,
and then camped on the open plains.  At this juncture they
were a day's ride west of Djekul, the only major city within
fifty leagues, but of course Arnold knew that.  He had no
interest in taking his friends to a barbarian city, for the
place he called home was simple a large walled camp amidst
the grasslands.  Such was the way of his people.

  In the morning, they resumed their ride, and it wasn't
until well after lunch that they saw people.

Belphanior:  (eyeing a large group of half-naked warriors
  approaching)  It figures.  A whole day without seeing
  anybody, and now we see twenty at once.
Arnold:  Nod to worry, they're my tribdesmen!  (he rides
  forth by himself, to greet the newcomers)  We mudst be
  getting close.
Ged:  None of them ride horses...

  As the barbarians approached, the adventurers were able
to study them in detail.  The Frost Barbarians, like their
Snow and Ice Barbarian cousins to the north and east, were
perfect examples of untainted Sueloise blood.  Extremely
fair-skinned, paler even than Arnold, the warriors all had
hair of a blond or whitish hue.  Just as noteworthy was
their size - all were at least Arnold's height, and two of
the big warriors easily topped seven feet.

Ged:  Hmm, I never would have guessed that Arnold was a
  midget among his people.

  The barbarians bore stout spears and heavy bows, and a
few of them also had large shields wrapped in hides.  All
were dressed for pure functionality, not fashion; simple
hides and furs adorned their muscular bodies.

Mongo:  Hey!  That one's a woman!  And that one too!
Rillen:  (frowns)  She's taller than I am.

  It wasn't that the women were masculine - far from it.
They were simply tall, powerful, and serious-looking, as
the harsh life in these lands demanded.  Some of the
adventurers simply weren't used to such women...

Peldor:  Whoa...what an amazon!  (he begins thinking of
  schemes to flirt with the barbarian women)
Bosco:  Yeah, boss.
Ged:  I wonder what they're talking about with Arnold?
Belphanior:  They're probably discussing the weather.
Arnold:  (returns to the party)  Sunny skies ahead.
Ged:  Boccob!
Arnold:  Come, led's follow my tribespeople to the vidlage.
  (he turns and signals to the barbarians, and they grin
  as they approach and begin striking up conversations with
  the adventurers)

  They all rode together, towards Arnold's home village,
striking up merry conversation all the while.  Per Arnold's
suggestion, the adventurers dismounted for this short trip.

Rillen:  Have you no horses, then?  (he is thinking that
  they must be unskilled in the arts of horsemanship)
barbarian warrior:  (a tall, blond fellow with a short
  beard)  Ha ha!  Of course we have horses!  We just don't
  ride them sometimes!  Ha ha, no horses...a good joke,
  that was!  Ha ha...
Rillen:  Hrmph.
Mongo:  (talking to one barbarian who carries a heavy war-
  hammer in addition to the tribal weapons)  So, I threw
  this hammer at him, and he fell, dead as a doornail.
Thorg:  Aye, it must be quite a weapon.  And it must have
  been quite a battle.
Mongo:  Yeah, it was. But let me tell you about the part
  where we-
Gorin:  (joins in this conversation)  Yeah, we-
Belphanior:  (talking to a white-haired warrior)  I think
  white hair is kind of neat.
warrior:  (she frowns)  Neat?  I pride myself on failing
  to comb it, at least sometimes...
Belphanior:  (considering dyeing his hair white)  No, I
  didn't mean it as an insult.  See, I think it makes one
  look fierce, and powerful.
warrior:  (she grins)  Ah!
Belphanior:  Yeah!
Ged:  (talking with a pair of twin warriors)  So then,
  Boccob and the other gods created the world, and-
Rolf:  Bah!
Dolf:  Yah!  Our gods are Llerg, god of beasts...and
Rolf:  Yah!  And Kord, god of sport and contests!
Arnold:  Don't fordget Nordebo.
Dolf:  Ah, yes, Norebo, god of luck and gambling!
Bosco:  Gambling?
Rolf:  Can this Boccob offer such things?
Arnold:  (shrugs at Ged)
Bosco:  Gambling?  I could gamble here!
barbarian warrior:  (she looks at Bosco in wonder)  I've
  never seen a person as tiny as you.
Bosco:  Us halflings may be small, but we're big of heart!
  And wealth, and brains, and-
Peldor:  (puts his arm around a platinum-haired warrior-
  woman who is laughing at Bosco)  Ah, don't let him hog
  all the glory with his foolish tales.  He works for me,
  anyway, so I taught him all he knows.  Say, I didn't
  catch your name...
warrior-woman:  I am called Ilsa.  And you?
Peldor:  (bows and kisses her hand)  Peldor's the name,
  adventuring's the game!
Ilsa:  (she perks up)  Adventuring?
Peldor:  Let me tell you about one of my recent exploits
  with these henchmen of mine...
wispy thing:  (sits on Belphanior's shoulder and hisses,
  which unnerves some of the barbarians)

  Barely a quarter-hour later, they entered the village,
which was a large encampment, perhaps a thousand strong,
surrounded by a palisade of thick logs.  Arnold told his
kinspeople about his companions, and immediately a mighty
feast was begun.  Apparently, there had been peace with
all neighboring parties for quite some time, and though
the barbarians worked hard, they also played hard, and by
nightfall, several huge fires were blazing, whole animals
were cooking, many kegs were opened, and, in general, it
was a huge, loud, drunken party.  Eager as they were to
hear of Arnold's adventures in the distant southern lands,
the barbarians were also attentive to the stories of the
other adventurers...

Ged:  ...especially those with glib tongues and no sense!
  Look at that Peldor - he's trying to find himself a woman
  for the night.
Rillen:  Looks to me like he's succeeding.  (he eyes the
  thief, who has managed to attract a large, mostly female
  audience with his tales and his flirting)
Ged:  What gall!  What unbridled trickery!  What-
Rillen:  (shrugs)  He's Peldor.  What else can one expect
  from him?
Arnold:  Don't worry aboud Peldork.  Many of the women in
  my tribe are sdill unmated - and besides, they aren't
  stupid.  If a bardbarian woman sees a man she wandts,
  then she takes him!  (he punctuates this with a swinging
  fist)  Peldork may be in for more than he exbects...
Rillen:  Serves him right.
Ged:  What's the name of your village here, anyway?
Arnold:  Aaa.  (he speaks a few words in his native tongue)
Rillen:  Pardon?
Ged:  What's that, in Common?
Arnold:  Aaa...I'm nod good with
  trandslated, it's "the tribe of the sdanding speards".
Ged:  Oh.
Mongo:  (staggers by, armorless, a huge mug in one hand,
  a leg of lamb in the other)  Urp!  These people really
  know how to make beer!  (he walks into a hut, and falls
  on his rear)  Ow.  (he stares at the wall in shock)
Gorin:  (laughing, a mug clenched in one hend)  Ha ha!
  That hut hit you!
Mongo:  Grr...that damn hut!  How _dare_ it?!?  Urp!
barbarians:  (they help Mongo up, and all go wandering
  off in another direction, singing)
Ged:  Hmm. And there was _much_ rejoicing...
Rillen:  Perhaps it is time for me to try some of that
Belphanior:  (strolls up, a large mug in each hand)  My
  thoughts exactly!  This stuff's great!  It has several
  times the kick of typical beer.
Ged:  Ugh.  I need wine, if anything.
wispy thing:  (rises up out of one of the mugs of beer)
Rillen:  Aie!  That beer is haunted!
Belphanior:  Oh, that's _my_ beer.  Have this other one.
Bosco:  (dances by merrily, trying to do flips without
  spilling his beer, and failing miserably)  Yippee!
Peldor:  (spots his henchman)  Hey!  Let me show you how
  that's done!

  In truth, even Ged was well into his cups before the
midnight hour, and the feast carried well into the wee
hours of the morning.

next time :  the great hunt

ftp site  : in /pub/frp/stories/adventurers

notes     :  I thought about making all of Arnold's tribe
           talk with bad accents like he does, but that
           would have been a bit too much.

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