Chapter #610

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 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!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Daffodil        11th level human female druidess                      +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid              +
+   Date:           1/14/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midnight                                              +
+   Place:          the Vesve Forest                                      +
+   Climate:        surprisingly warm                                     +
+   "He wasn't going to kill you."                                        +
+   "I think he thought he was."                                          +
+                                           - from _Heir to the Empire_   +

                          DCX.  Angry Youth

  The time had come.  The half-moon shone in the sky, and the Druids had
gathered about the circle of dirt, hemmed in by stones.  Numerous torches,
all mounted on wooden poles, also ringed the arena, bathing it in plenty
of light.  This contest would be a bit different from the last (and only
other) one Peyote had participated in.  As he was the incumbent Druid, and
Tolvek was simply challenging him, there would be no preliminary tests of
knowledge or magic.
  At least one potential distraction was no longer present:  Sarah and
Caitlin, the latter the young daughter of Sarah and Peyote, had chosen to
return to Hardby and make her home there.  This had been the best decision
for all involved, for Peyote had commitments to Obad-Hai that could not
be easily broken, and Sarah really didn't want to live in the heart of a
forest amongst druids and wild animals.  Peyote had sent two powerful
druids with the pair, to escort them all the way back to Hardby.  He had
also given Sarah enough money to ensure that she (and especially Caitlin)
would never want for anything.  Not only would Sarah be able to raise
Caitlin without worries, but she would also have the funds to finance the
young girl's education and apprenticeship when she came of age.  Peyote
fully intended to visit them often, every time he had a chance.
  For now, however, he had to focus on the matter at hand:  the tall,
powerful form of Tolvek, grinning, ready to beat Peyote and take his title
and responsibilities.  Such an outcome would be bad for Peyote and bad for
Obad-Hai's ranks in general; the upstart faction would have a serious hold
on things if Tolvek was in charge of the Vesve.  Peyote had little doubt
that, if Tolvek beat him, it wouldn't be long before wizened Confernicus
would be challenged.  Though the old man was in excellent shape for his
hundred-plus years, he would not prevail in such a physical contest, not
against one like Tolvek who was full of fire and ambition.
  No, this contest had to end in Peyote's favor, for a number of reasons.
He simply would not - could not - fail.  There was too much at stake.

Confernicus:  (stands as the ritual prayers are completed)  Are both of
  you ready?
Peyote:  (wondering if it has occurred to Confernicus that he'd be the
  next target if Tolvek won this challenge)
Tolvek:  I am ready.
Peyote:  I'm ready.
Confernicus:  You know the rules:  staves, then weaponless if it comes
  to that.  The contest ends when one submits or cannot fight on.  Is
  this understood?
Tolvek:  (nods, grinning, holding his quarterstaff with a practiced ease)
Peyote:  (looking into the old man's eyes, he realizes that the elder is
  indeed aware of the implications...and that he is therefore relying upon
  Peyote to maintain the druidic order)  Understood.
Confernicus:  Then...let the contest begin!

  Immediately, the two combatants moved toward one another, then began
circling, staves ready, seeking an opening through which to press a
first attack.  Tolvek had the advantage of reach, and possibly strength;
Peyote was probably more experienced, especially against a wider range of
opponents, and had fought in one of these matches before.
  It began with an impossible-to-follow flurry of blows, staff smashing
against staff, each foe switching from attack to defense, and perhaps
back again, in the blink of an eye.  None watching were able to tell who
had initiated the exchange.

Peyote:  (ducks, rolling to one side, coming up with staff ready and
  pointed at the other man)  Ho!  Ha ha!  Guard!  Turn!  Parry!  Dodge!
  Spin!  Ha!  Thrust!
Tolvek:  (halts his reckless charge, then leaps back, twirling his own
  weapon)  Not bad for an old man.
Peyote:  (realizes that the brash youth is trying to goad him into anger,
  and ignores him)  You'll never win any fights by yapping, dude.
Tolvek:  Action, then, not talk!  (he charges forth, feinting, then tries
  to attack from one side)
Peyote:  (anticipating this, he blocks the attack and tries an odd and
  unexpected tactic)

  Peyote hurled his own quarterstaff away, even as he grabbed Tolvek's
weapon with both hands.  He'd already realized that the foe was at least
his equal with the staff, and thus he'd decided to even those odds.  As
he gripped the foe's weapon, he kicked out, catching Tolvek by surprise
and driving one booted foot into the younger man's stomach.

Tolvek:  Whoulfff!  (he falls back, still holding on to his staff with
  one hand)
Peyote:  (smashes the man's forearm with a booted heel, forcing him to
  relinquish his grip)
Tolvek:  Damn you!
Peyote:  (jumps back, the foe's staff in hand...and then hurls the weapon
  away)  Okay, dude.  Now it's all fair again.
watchers:  (murmuring)
Daffodil:  Oh, why did you do that?
Confernicus:  (chuckles to himself)

  Peyote was perhaps getting ahead of himself, but his aim was to not
only beat Tolvek, but to do it in such a way that the upstart would be
humiliated and lose face to all - both his fellow upstarts and the other
druids.  Perhaps Tolvek knew this, too, for he erupted in an angry rush,
bellowing as he barreled into Peyote, tackling him to the ground.

Peyote:  Ungh!
Tolvek:  You'll pay for that!  (he drives several punches into Peyote's
Peyote:  Oof!  Unf!  Argh!  (he swings a leg around, getting his foot
  under Tolvek's chin and then forcing his head back)
Tolvek:  Huh?
Peyote:  (spotting Tolvek's suddenly-exposed groin, he drives a fist
  into it with all his might)
Tolvek:  (keels over)  Uuuuuuuugh...(he vomits onto the dirt)
Peyote:  (stands over the foe)  Not so tough now, are you?  (he backs
  away)  Get up.
Daffodil:  Finish him!  Make him submit!
Peyote:  No.  (to all present)  There will be no submissions.  The win
  must be clean.  This contest will not end until one of us cannot fight
  any more!
Tolvek:  (stands, having recovered more quickly than anyone expected)
  It'll end when you're dead, bastard!  (he charges again, fists flying
  in wild swings)
Peyote:  (sidesteps one punch, catches another, and elbows the foe right
  in the mouth)
Tolvek:  (reels, spitting teeth and blood)  Glurk!
Peyote:  (waiting, fists clenched, a cold look in his eyes)  Try it
  again, punk.
Tolvek:  (lurches into some spectator, coming away with a belt dagger)
  Hah!  Now you die!
Confernicus:  Tolvek!  The rules forbid-
Tolvek:  To hell with the rules!  (enraged beyond reasoning, he charges
  at Peyote, ready to gut the half-elf)
Peyote:  (having maneuvered himself near one of the discarded staves,
  he quickly picks it up and holds it ready)

  As Tolvek lunged in, Peyote didn't try to parry the knife-arm, instead
stabbing into Tolvek's midsection with the end of the wooden staff.  The
air rushed from Tolvek's lungs, but even as he crumpled to the ground, he
surged forward one final time, his legs propelling him at his hated foe.
A master with the quarterstaff, such as Rillen, would easily have been
able to incapacitate or kill a foe armed with a dagger; Peyote was good,
but not that good.  Even as he backed away, the dagger entered his lower
stomach on the left side.

Daffodil:  Peyote!
Peyote:  (staggers back, then falls to his knees, hands covering the blood
  that flows freely from the wound)  Argh...bogus...
Tolvek:  (lying on the dirt, he tries to recover his breath)

  Confernicus shouted some hasty orders, and within moments, Tolvek was
disarmed and bound tightly, while Peyote was being tended to by several

Daffodil:  I'll handle this one myself!  (she spreads some healing moss
  and herbs on the wound, while casting a powerful spell of healing)
Peyote:  (almost visibly, the color returns to his face)  Ahh...that feels
  good.  Any chance I can get a massage tonight?
Daffodil:  This is no time for jokes.

  The next morning...

Confernicus:  -so you shall retain your title.  Greenleaf himself has said
  it shall be thus.
Daffodil:  Peyote had him beaten anyway.
Peyote:  Yeah.
Confernicus:  True, but irrelevant.
Daffodil:  What of Tolvek?
Confernicus:  He has been stripped of all Druidic powers and titles, and
  banished from Obad-Hai's service forever.  He always wanted to challenge
  our customs and traditions, and he has, and now he pays the price.
Peyote:  I'm not sure I like the idea of that guy running around loose.
Confernicus:  If he ever enters one of our forests again, the penalty is
  death, and he knows it.
Daffodil:  A century or two ago, he'd have been slain already for his
Peyote:  (nods)
Confernicus:  Times have changed, it is done, and he is banished.
Daffodil:  Hmph.
Peyote:  What I don't understand is, how did such a bad seed get so far in
  our ranks?
Confernicus:  That will be looked into, but it must be done carefully.  We
  must weed out the dangerous upstarts, without scaring them away.
Peyote:  (shaking his head)  This is not good.  There will surely be more
  problems in the future.

  To that, even aged Confernicus had no answer.

next:      another shift to another character
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
released:  2/3/2000
notes:     And so ends Peyote's story arc.  The dude's not one of my
  all-time favorite characters to write about, but I do try.

    New survey count:  436.  I'm pretty much done tallying at this
  point - if you haven't responded yet, don't worry about it.

    Summary of post-600 episode plotlines thus far:

    Nenya/Deryck        Temple of Elemental Evil or Suel museum troubles
    Alindyar/Lyra       seek out the Lord of Illusions
    Belphanior et al    destroy three different old enemies    \
    Mongo               Lost Tomb of Panagaea                  /
    Peyote              (DONE FOR NOW)
    Rillen/Songa        ?
    Gorin               ?
    Arnold              ?
    Halbarad            ?
    Rob                 ?

    Remember, "?" doesn't mean I don't have ideas and plans.  It just
  means I haven't told you what they are yet.

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