Chapter #516

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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) +
+  Rillen       18th level human monk                           (N) +
+    Songa      13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+  Date:        8/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the Fruzti (Frost Barbarian) lands in the far north +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "It's not denial; I'm just very selective about the reality      +
+   I choose."                                                      +
+                                                        - unknown  +

                    DXVI.  Turning Points

  After fighting a couple of strange battles, the three adventurers
now face something that is, apparently, the master of this strange

eye-thing:  HALT, INTRUDERS!
Arnold:  (raises his sword)
Songa:  (regards the eye with a mix of apprehension and revulsion)
Rillen:  Offhand, I'd say we're about to meet the master of this
Arnold:  (takes a step forward)  We'll ask the quesdions here,
  evil eye.
eye-thing:  (sparkles and blinks - literally - out of existence,
  replaced by a complacent-looking old man in a light blue robe
  with dark blue trim)
old man:  Calm down, my children.  I mean you no harm.
Songa:  I find that hard to believe.
old man:  I knew you would.
Arnold:  Who are you?
Rillen:  You kind of look like T-
old man:  (shakes his head)  There are only so many colors, you
Songa:  (decides to cut right to the point)  Are you the wizard
  who built this tower?
old man:  Of course.
Arnold:  A-HAA!!  (charges, swinging his sword overhead)
wizard:  Please.  (gestures in Arnold's direction)  Let me explain.

  Almost instantly the blue mists between the wizard and the
charging barbarian swirled and coalesced grabbing at Arnold and
holding him fast.  He quickly found that he was free to retreat,
but could not advance at all.

Rillen:  (keeping his staff at a guard position)  Well, wizard, you
  _do_ have some explaining to do.
wizard:  Oh, how's that now?
Songa:  Disease...bad weather...other ills - all have descended
  upon my village since you showed up.
wizard:  (rubs his white-stubbled chin)  Hmm.
Arnold:  "Hmm?"  What do you mean, "hmm?"
wizard:  Hmm.  (he wanders away)  Follow me, please.

  Bewildered, the trio followed after the old man into the parted
section of blue mist.  Quickly the mists seemed to give way to solid
walls, also tinged blue, and then they could see rooms and other halls
branching off from this one.  The old man abruptly turned and entered
one of the rooms.  In the center of their destination was a huge,
translucent crystal ball, mounted in an elaborate ivory holder.

Rillen:  (eyeing the room's walls)  How did all of this fit into
  the space of that tower?
wizard:  What makes you think we're still in the tower?
Rillen:  Oh.
Songa:  (points to the crystal ball with her spearpoint)  What is
  that thing for?
Arnold:  (to Songa)  It's probably a crysdal ball.  Geb had one.
wizard:  This?  This is my crystal ball.  Hush, now.  (he waves a
  hand over the device, and its interior becomes murky with mist)

  The crystal ball soon contained an image, a depiction of the
village and its occupants.  The wizard watched closely as the
image shifted, showing other parts of the village and surrounding
area.  At times, he shook his head, mumbling; finally, he turned
to face the trio, looking rather dejected.

wizard:  A band of warriors came here, didn't they?
Songa:  As if you didn't know.
wizard:  A lot goes on in my world, young miss...and I can't keep
  track of everything.  Nevertheless, I've now found the ten men
  who ventured here and tried to get into the tower.
Arnold:  Found them?  Where were they?
wizard:  They've been in suspended animation in a chamber of my
  domain, that's all.
Songa:  Suspended _what_?!?
Rillen:  I don't like the sound of this.
wizard:  A misunderstanding, that's all.  Before I threw up the
  animated fence you three fought, I had a gas golem out there.
  The thing incapacitated all of the warriors who came before, and
  I was holding them.
Arnold:  Why?
wizard:  Why not?  Intruders deserve whatever they get, wouldn't
  you say?
Rillen:  Maybe, but _you're_ the intruder on _our_ land.
wizard:  True, but I'm a good-natured intruder, which is why I'm
  going to return the ten warriors to you unharmed, and why I'm
  then going to undo all of the damage my experiments have done
  to the local flora and fauna.
Songa:  You use too many big words, wizard.
wizard:  Sorry about that.  There's a sort of protocol to these
Arnold:  What do you mean, "experimends"?  What kind of experimends?
wizard:  Nothing too bad...or so I thought.  But foreign agents
  released into the area seem to have wreaked havoc.  Fear not, I
  can fix it, undo all damage.  (he turns back to his crystal ball
  and begins mumbling to himself)  But I need to hurry.  I'm awfully
  busy these days.
Songa:  (turns to Rillen, speaking in a low voice)  What is he
  _talking_ about?
Rillen:  I have no idea, but he seems to be on the level.

  Indeed he was.  Within minutes, the ten barbarian warriors, still
confused and somewhat disoriented, were standing with the three
adventurers outside the wizard's tower.

wizard:  Return to your people.  Tell them I mean no harm, and have
  already made everything right.  Provided they stay clear of my
  domicile here, there will be no more problems.
Rillen:  We'll take care of it.  (the group begins marching away)
Arnold:  (trying to fill his clansmen in, he finds that they don't
  really understand what is happening)
Songa:  (to Rillen)  The horses...
Rillen:  (nods)  I was planning to retrieve them, and just walk them
  along with us.
Songa:  (looks back at the tower behind them)  I'm not too happy
  about that sorcerer.
Rillen:  Well, he did prove his lack of hostility.
Songa:  True, but he's still a wizard.
Rillen:  So?  Belphanior's a wizard.  Alindyar and Lyra are wizards.
  _Ged_ was a wizard.  You can't-
Songa:  (nods slowly)  You've made your point.  It's just that...well,
  Thurnock won't be happy about this.

  That was an understatement.  When they made it back to the village
and briefed the chieftain on recent developments, he was furious.

Thurnock:  No wizard sets up camp in our land!  (he smashes the
  table with his fist, jarring it and upsetting some glasses)
Rillen:  But he means well, and-
Thurnock:  What he _means_ doesn't matter!  It's what he _did_, and
  what he will do, that are important.
Songa:  I think that if we leave him alone, all will be well.
Thurnock:  I don't care - we don't care!  For generations, our
  people have remained free of sorcery and such poxes.  That is
  our way, and we won't change, now or ever!
Arnold:  (shakes his head)
Rillen:  He did return your tribesmen, though.
Thurnock:  That's enough from you - you're an outsider, and cannot
  know of our ways!  (he calms down slightly)  Err...
Rillen:  (leaves the chamber without a word)
Songa:  (casts a foul look at the chieftain, and follows Rillen)


Songa:  Rillen!  Wait!
Rillen:  (stops)  What for?
Songa:  He didn't mean it that way.
Rillen:  Of course he did.  It's a fact that anger brings out the
  worst in people...but also makes it easiest for them to reveal
  their true feelings.
Songa:  What are you talking about?
Rillen:  I don't feel welcome here...I've never felt welcome here.
  I see the way your people stare at me, when they don't think I'm
  looking.  They may tolerate me, but they will never accept me.
Songa:  _I_ accept you.
Rillen:  True...but aside from you and Arnold, that's the extent of
  it.  And now this business with wizards...if people can't change,
  they can't grow and better themselves.  I have no desire to grow
  old in a place like that.
Songa:  So what, then - are you leaving?
Rillen:  I'd like to.
Songa:  Fine, then.  I'm going with you.  Where one of us goes, so
  does the other.
Rillen:  (doesn't let his facial expression or verbal tone betray
  his relief)  I'm glad to hear it...well, we've talked for a while
  now about making a new place - our own place - somewhere far from
  other people and their problems.
Songa:  (smiles thinly)  Now's as good a time as any.

  Arnold, of course, would not be joining them.  They heard of his
future plans when they told him of theirs, the next day...

Arnold:  I mudst stay here, with the village.
Songa:  Settling down, are you?
Arnold:  (nods)  I find myself with liddle desire to return to the
  civilized lands.  Without Geb around to keep me busy, I think I
  would get bored quick.
Rillen:  And here?
Arnold:  Here...this is my home, or once was.  I can at least try
  to rebuild what I once had.
Songa:  Well, we wish you the best of luck.
Rillen:  What about that wizard?
Arnold:  I will go there myself, tomorrow, and tell him what has
  habbened here.  If he means well as he claimbs, then he will
  leave and find a new place to live.
Songa:  If not?
Arnold:  (sighs)  Then the tribe may have to go to war.  But I think
  I can sdop that from habbening.
Rillen:  I hope so.  (they clasp hands)
Arnold:  Undil next time.
Rillen:  We'll see.

next:      back to a dark, foggy place called Helgate
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     To learn more of Arnold's past with the village, you
  can read Lost Tales #5 if you haven't already.
    As I send this one out, the Braves have lost game 6 of the 1997
  NLCS to the Marlins.  It's okay, I guess - Leyland had lost when
  managing the Pirates in '91 and '92, and there are a lot of teams
  I like less than the Marlins.

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