Chapter #512

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                                +   +
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                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1991-7 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                    +
+                           +
+  Arnold       13th level human barbarian warrior             (NG) +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven warrior                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven warrior                     (NG) +
+  Rillen       18th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+  Date:        7/14/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       the central region of the Nyr Dyv lake              +
+  Climate:     sweltering                                          +
+  "Keep your enemies at arms' length..."                           +
+                                                       - unknown   +

                    DXII.  Tentacled Trouble

  While crossing the great Nyr Dyv lake, the adventurers' ship
has come under attack by a monstrous squid.

Cornelius:  Battle stations, men!  Arrows!  We've got to drive
  the beastie off before it's too late!

  In response to the captain's shouted orders, those crewmen on
deck rushed to ready bows and crossbows, even as the huge squid
drew ever closer...

Cornelius:  Let 'im have it!  What'm I paying you mangy swabs for
  anyway?!?  (he stomps on the deck)

  The crewmen unleashed a volley of missiles at the approaching
monster, but most bounced harmlessly from its hard, shelled
carapace.  The few that sunk home were little more than irritants
to the thing...and irritated, it lashed out with surprising speed.

crewman:  (snagged by a whipping tentacle)  Aiieeeeeee!  Heeeelp!
  (he is suddenly jerked overboard)
squid:  (uses other arms to grab random oars on that side of the
  ship, snapping them like twigs)
Gorin:  Holy shit!  That thing's got some _long_ arms!
Arnold:  Yah.  (spotting another tentacle snaking up onto the
  deck, he charges it, hacking with his gigantic sword)

  The black, slimy tentacle was hewn deeply, rewarding the huge
barbarian's efforts with a spray of noxious ichor.  The sucker-
coated arm retreated, though, and a moment later, the squid
itself sunk beneath the waves.

Cornelius:  You're a brave one, lad!
Arnold:  (shrugs)  I am Ah-nold.
Cornelius:  I hope the rest of you are that brave and good with
  your weapons, 'cause the damned thing's surely coming back.
Songa:  (readies a spear)  Then we must be ready.
Mongo:  (clenches his hammer, looking mildly nauseous as the
  galley rocks in the churning waters)  I knew there was a reason
  I hated travelling by sea.
Rillen:  (scanning the surrounding waters)  Where _is_ it?!?

  That question was soon answered, as a number of thick, dark
tentacles slithered up from the water.  A few seemed to be after
prey, but most of the slimy arms were wrapping themselves about
the ship's hull.

Cornelius:  It means to pull us under!
Gorin:  No way!  (he dashes forth, chopping at the nearest of
  the tentacles)
tentacle:  (hacked and bleeding, its tip whips around and grabs
  the armored dwarf)
Gorin:  Hey!
Arnold:  Hold on, Gorbin!  (he brings his sword up and around, a
  mighty overhead arc that finishes the job Gorin's axe started)
Gorin:  (rips the suckered tentacle-tip off, hurling it away in
  disgust)  Thanks!
Rillen:  (fires a shaft at the vaguely visible body beneath the
  lake's surface, the arrow magically doubling into two such

  Even at this close range, the arrows did negligible damage,
and Rillen leaped back just in time as another tentacle rose
from below, seeking a victim.

Mongo:  (looking over the ship's rail, he spots the squid's
  pointy armored head, and hurls his hammer)  Gotcha!

  Stormcrest flew with mighty force, striking the hard plates
on the monster's head.  However, only a few chitinous chips of
black stuff were broken off, and the hammer seemed a bit slower
than usual as it flew back into Mongo's hand.

Mongo:  (catches the weapon, shakily)  Ungh...(he staggers)
Rillen:  What's wrong?
Mongo:  Not...feeling good...
Gorin:  It's the hammer!
tentacle:  (slithers over the rail behind the distracted dwarf)
Gorin:  Look out!  (he dives, knocking Mongo down and out of the
  way of the searching squid-arm)
Songa:  (charging over toward Mongo, she leaps over a writhing
  tentacle that has captured a sailor, stopping at the rail)

  The huntress found herself staring directly into the large,
round, pale eye of the squid, not ten feet in front of her.
Given the thick, sharp-tipped spear in her hand, there was only
one appropriate course of action.

Songa:  Eee-yah!  (she hurls her spear right into the squid's

  The resulting reaction nearly rolled the ship over.  Writhing
in agony, the squid dropped beneath the waves, its tentacles
threatening to tear the ship apart as they uncoiled.  Those on
deck were hurled about like firewood...

sailor:  (loses his footing, sliding into the main mast with
  bone-crunching force)
other sailor:  (falls overboard)  Aaaaaa!
third sailor:  (grabs the rail in a desperate attempt to remain
  on board)
Mongo:  (scrambling along the tilted deck)  Whoa!
Gorin:  (grabs a deck grommet with one hand and Mongo with the
  other)  Aaargh...
Songa:  (tossed over the rail, she manages to catch hold of a
  trailing lanyard, slamming into the side of the ship halfway
  up from the waterline)  Ungh!
Arnold:  (caught in the mainsail, he struggles to free himself)
Cornelius:  (hugging the wheel for dear life)  Look out, lads!
  Don't forget about the squid!

  The galley had righted itself, but it still rocked as if caught
in stormy seas.

Gorin:  (stretched painfully as he holds onto Mongo)  Argh!
Mongo:  (punches a hole in the upper deck, creating a handhold
  for himself)  Got it...(he pulls Gorin to safety)
Rillen:  (concerned only with Songa, he dashes to the rail)

  The huntress was pulling herself up, hand over hand, to the
rail.  However, below her, the water churned...

giant squid:  (shows its face again, Songa's spear protruding from
  the pink-stained ruin of one eye)  Braaaaaak!
Songa:  (looks down, sees the beast below, and redoubles her
  climbing efforts)
Rillen:  (without thinking, he whips out his magical red arrow,
  nocking it in an instant)  Just this one shot...(he aims)

  It wasn't really that difficult a shot, but at the time, those
watching could only gape in awe as the arrow streaked toward the
squid, a tail of fire growing in its wake.  The missile struck
the monster somewhere in the central region of its head, and
instantly exploded in a great blast of flame!

Songa:  (clambers over the deck just as the fire blasts up behind
  her)  YEEEOWWW!
Rillen:  (along with everyone else nearby, he is hurled to the
  deck by the blast)

  The heatwave singed eyebrows and charred wood.  The mainsail
caught fire, a large portion of it burning away before anybody
had the presence of mind to get to their feet and put it out.
The side of the ship was badly charred, most of its oars ruined,
and several oarsmen below were burned.  However, the explosion
seemed to have been mostly contained to the point of impact,
judging from the blackened, gory chunks of flesh that littered
the surrounding waters.
  Everyone sprung into activity then.  Rillen tended to Songa's

Rillen:  (discreetly using Songa's magical ointment of Keoghtom
  to salve her burned bottom)
Songa:  (through gritted teeth)  Good going.
Rillen:  (sheepishly)  Sorry.  Just be glad that Tanya convinced
  you to take this ointment from that last treasure hoard.
Songa:  Ye-  ouch.  A good choice, since-  ow!
Rillen:  I really am sorry.
Songa:  It's just pain, and it will heal in time.  Make sure to
  save some of the salve for the burned oarsmen below.
Rillen:  Good idea.

  Gorin helped Mongo regain his senses...

Mongo:  I'm okay now.  Really.
Gorin:  Guess we'd better get back to land soon.
Mongo:  Yeah...hey, don't let anyone else know if this problem
  gets worse, okay?
Gorin:  Got it.

  Arnold helped the crew fish those knocked overboard - and some
pieces of the squid - out of the water.

Cornelius:  Sharks'll be here soon...and we could use the meat
  from the squid too.
Arnold:  Yah.  What about the sail?
Cornelius:  We've got another one below decks.  I'll have the boys
  hoist it soon enough.
Arnold:  Do you have extra oarbs too?
Cornelius:  Orbs?
Arnold:  You know, to row with.
Cornelius:  Oh.  Well, no, but I can shift some of the oars from
  the other side.  We're gonna be low on oarsmen anyway...

  Eventually, everything worked out, was repaired, or healed.
Cornelius' crew had suffered only four fatalities, all thanks to
the squid, but there were more than a dozen wounded.  With the
spare sail and less than full oar-power, it took the vessel the
better part of a week to reach the far shore of the Nyr Dyv.  No
other sea beasts attacked, though the sheer size of some of the
sharks astounded even the crusty Cornelius.  Squid meat turned
out to be a pretty good meal, and Mongo spent many hot, sweaty
hours in the ship's galley testing cooking methods on the meat.
Gorin (who refused to touch the squid no matter how it was
prepared) pointed out that, if nothing else, this activity took
Mongo's mind off of his waterborne location.
  When the galley had finally docked, and the adventurers (plus
their horses) disembarked, they said their farewells to the old
sea-dog Cornelius.

Mongo:  (hands over a small sack)  Here's some extra gold...on
  account of the damage and dead and all.
Rillen:  Be sure to give some of the money to the families of
  the dead.
Cornelius:  They probably don't have families, but I'll check
  when we get back.
Mongo:  Happy trails, then.
Cornelius:  (regards Mongo)  You've got the seasickness about
  you, dwarf.  You'll never make a sailor...but you're a helluva
  fighter.  (he turns to Rillen and Songa)  That goes for you
  two, too.  If you ever come this way again, I could always use
  more sailors.
Songa:  (smiles)
Rillen:  We thank you for the offer, but we're not likely to be
  back here anytime soon.

  The adventurers rode northward, into the County of Urnst.  The
ship had docked at midday, and by dusk the five were comfortably
situated in a small, friendly town.  Hot baths and fresh food had
refreshed and rejuvenated the party.  Weapons and armour had been
cleansed, and fresh supplies had been acquired.  Over dinner, the
friends discussed the next leg of their journey.

Songa:  You have to split from us, then?
Mongo:  (nods gruffly)  We're headed toward the Riftcanyon...a
  great general is waiting for us up there.
Arnold:  That's dangerous terridory - be careful.
Gorin:  Heh.  Careful, that's us.  What about you three?
Rillen:  We're bound for the far northeast, and the barbarian
Arnold:  (frowns)  Yah.
Gorin:  I'm sure we'll meet up again, sometime.
Songa:  Aye.
Mongo:  But for now, let's go enjoy a good night of eating and
  drinking.  No need to be glum about tomorrow when tonight's
  not over yet!

next:      Mongo and Gorin's journey to Greyspire
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     Thanks to Andrew Hurd for reminding me about that red
  arrow that Rillen's had for several years.

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