Chapter #715

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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   +
+   Belphanior      14th/14th/14th level elven fighter/wizard/thief       +
+     Jutokai        8th level human archer                               +
+     Otto           8th/11th level dwarven fighter/thief                 +
+     Razor Charlie  9th level human fighter                              +
+     Skektek       12th level human wizard                               +
+     Ys            13th level reptilian fighter                          +
+     Zhao           8th level human swordsman                            +
+   Bosco           12th level halfling thief                             +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven fighter                            +
+     Gorgo          9th level dwarven berserker                          +
+                                                                         +
+   Boltar          high priest of Pholtus                                +
+   Drak            barbarian warrior                                     +
+   Parekh          dark-skinned female wizard                            +
+                                                                         +
+   Neera           female human sage/astrologer                          +
+   Date:           3/28/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           evening                                               +
+   Place:          an isle amidst the Solnor Ocean                       +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Who're you?"                                                         +
+   "I'm the one telling you how it is."                                  +
+                                                  - from _Get Shorty_    +

                     DCCXV.  A Serpent's Secrets

  After a pitched battle against a horde of hostile serpent-people, the
adventurers have retreated to a point far from the foes' primitive

Bosco:  (touches the shimmering force-dome that surrounds the campsite)
Skektek:  (talking with Parekh)  How exactly does this shield work again?
Parekh:  It's basically a wall of force with an invisibility effect on its
  outer side.
Otto:  Then how come we can't see through it?
Parekh:  The invisibility isn't the conventional kind, but rather a field
  that doesn't show up to the naked eye.  Instead of seeing us, or seeing
  a dome of force, the casual viewer sees whatever they would see if we
  weren't here at all.
Jutokai:  Unless they walk up and bump into the thing.
Parekh:  Well...yes.
Otto:  At which point we attack and kill them.
Razor Charlie:  (cleaning his fingernails with a knife)
Gorgo:  (really failing to comprehend the workings of Parekh's spell)  So
  someone outside just doesn't, they see through...uh...
Zhao:  (shrugs, unconcerned as long as they have a safe place to camp and
Ys:  Time to turn in for the night.  We should all get some rest.
Neera:  Absolutely.  (she looks around, for Belphanior)

  Nearby, the captive serpent-man was being regarded by the others...

Belphanior:  Definitely need to question him.
Mongo:  Let's do it now.
Drak:  Why, do you think he'll kill himself overnight?
Mongo:  Not really.  I just want to know if he knows anything.
Belphanior:  (regards the prisoner, who is held fast in a mesh of webbing)
serpent-man:  (bares its fangs)  Hssssss!
Belphanior:  The feeling's mutual.
Mongo:  I don't think he's gonna talk.
Boltar:  We have ways of making him talk.
Mongo:  (raises an eyebrow)
Belphanior:  Spells?
Boltar:  Precisely.  What did you think I was talking about?
Belphanior:  (shakes his head)  I don't know the spell to speak other
  languages.  And I don't get the impression that Ys can automatically
  talk with these things just because both have similar upper halves.
Ys:  (having walked over)  Correct.
Mongo:  I for one was never quick to judge someone just by the way they
Ys:  I know.  (he frowns)  Actually, I have been wondering about the
  origin of this species.  Perhaps our upcoming discussion with this good
  fellow can shed some light on that.
Belphanior:  (nods)  I admit that I've been curious about this, too.  I
  doubt that the subjects of the Panagaean kingdom were snake-men, which
  begs the question:  where did these come from?  Have they been here all
  along?  Or did they come to this isle from some other place, years or
  even centuries ago?
Mongo:  (bored by this sort of debate)  Main thing is, where's the Tomb?
Boltar:  Yes, to get back to the original subject...I don't have the spell
  of speaking other languages, but I know for a fact that Parekh does.
Belphanior:  (smirks)  Of course.  Hell, I'm beginning to wonder if there's
  any spell she _doesn't_ have in some way, shape, or form.
Drak:  Doubtful.  You should see her library back home.
Belphanior:  Where is home?
Drak:  Some other time.  (he nods his head as Parekh approaches)
Parekh:  Shall we pick this creature's brain?
Belphanior:  Figuratively or literally?
Parekh:  Well, both, if necessary.
Belphanior:  (smiles thinly, admiring her efficiency and can't-stop-me
  attitude)  Very well.
Parekh:  (working a spell)

  Shortly, Parekh was communicating with the serpent-man.  To the group
of listeners, Parekh's questions were voiced in the strange, hissing
tongue of the serpent-man, who then answered haltingly and reluctantly.
The dialogue was short and seemed agitated on both sides before the
sorceress turned to the others, obviously exasperated.

Parekh:  It's a moron.
Belphanior:  Pardon?
Parekh:  (sighs)  I truly loathe dealing with beings of such inferior
  intellect, no matter what language they speak.  This...thing is a
  brute, a drone.  It has no power and no concept of anything beyond
  its village.
Mongo:  Well, try again.
Parekh:  What?
Mongo:  Try again.  This thing may be dumb, but it may also be our best
  chance to find the Tomb.
Parekh:  (frowns)  Very well.  (she turns to the serpent-man again, this
  time speaking more slowly and patiently)

  Though none but Parekh and the foe could understand what was being said,
it was obvious that Parekh was hammering home some point.  Several times,
the serpent-man seemed to object loudly, upon which Parekh gestured to her
companions, particularly Belphanior and Drak.

Belphanior:  What do you think she's saying?
Drak:  (shrugs)  Search me.
Boltar:  The thing doesn't seem happy at all.
Belphanior:  It's going to be a lot less happy if it doesn't co-operate.
  I'm about done fucking around here.
Parekh:  Whew.
Belphanior:  What's the story?
Parekh:  The most I can get out of him - and I think that's because he
  really doesn't know - is that there's a region of the isle in which
  his people never set foot.  They think it's cursed, and the last time
  anyone went there, they never returned.
Boltar:  Hmm.  Was that recently?
Parekh:  About four hundred years ago, if I'm understanding this creature
Belphanior:  (whistles)
Drak:  Where is this place they shun?
Parekh:  Further toward the mountain...basically at its foot.  It sounds
  like there are more ruins there, and for generations, these serpent-
  people have kept their distance.
Mongo:  Yeah...that's it.  That's gotta be it...
Belphanior:  (slams a fist into his other, open hand)  Jackpot!
Bosco:  (having wandered over)  Jackpot?  Where?
Belphanior:  Close...closer than we suspected.  (he heads over to where
  Otto and the rest of his crew are preparing to bed down for the night)
  Tomorrow, we crack this isle's secrets!

next:      the final leg
released:  2/19/01
notes:     We're getting there.  We're finally getting there.  I have
  a pretty good idea of what's going on here, with the isle itself,
  the serpent-men, other and yet unknown dangers and mysteries, and of
  course the Tomb itself.  If this doesn't seem like reason to be
  pleased, consider that 701-712 had to be rewritten four times before
  I was happy with all aspects of them.  Four times.  That's a record
  (674-5-6 only had to be rewritten twice.)
    There is now a variety of other great stories available via links
  from the front page of - check it out!

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