Chapter #877

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                                   +   +
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                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2005 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!                                          +
+   Daffodil        11th level human druidess of Obad-Hai                 +
+   Halbarad        15th level human ranger of Ehlonna                    +
+   Peyote          12th/12th level half-elven fighter/druid of Obad-Hai  +
+   Rillen          18th level human warrior monk                         +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+                                                                         +
+   Eyer            13th/16th level wood elven fighter/acrobat            +
+   Leila           12th/12th level female grey elven warrior/mage        +
+   Relmar          18th level human high priest of Pelor                 +
+   Validor         11th level human wizard (sage/astrologer)             +
+   Date:           7/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           afternoon                                             +
+   Place:          the unknown eastern reaches of the Solnor Ocean       +
+   Climate:        surprisingly cool                                     +
+   "It is only by doing things others have not that one can advance."    +
+                                                    - George S. Patton   +

                    DCCCLXXVII.  Breaching the Barrier

  After months at sea, and many trials and tribulations, the _Odyssey_
has come upon a strange phenomenon.

Peyote:  (standing on deck, staring up at the wall of mists which rises
  into the sky)  Wow, when you said this thing extended forever in all
  directions, you meant it.
Leila:  I don't joke around.
Peyote:  No kidding.

  The barrier was composed of light gray mists, much like a fog bank,
except that they extended from the waterline all the way up into the
clouds.  They also extended to the left and right (north and south) as
far as the eye could see, all the way to the horizon.

Daffodil:  This isn't natural.
Peyote:  It also couldn't have been easy to build, err, construct, err,
Validor:  Not easy at all.
Kiel:  (to Leila)  You've tried detection magic?
Leila:  (nods)  Several kinds.  Nothing works any better than what we
  can see with our own eyes.  (she gestures to the immense barrier)
Halbarad:  Which means we have to go in.
Kiel:  Agreed.
Leila:  I still advise against that.  (she gestures to Validor and some
  of the other magi who have gathered on the ship's deck)  This barrier
  is the strongest anti-magic field any of us have ever encountered.
  Just floating here, a few hundred feet away, we're weak and sick to
  our stomachs.  If we enter that thing...(she shudders)
Songa:  (to Rillen)  On the bright side, at least it's not hot anymore.

  This was true, for the air temperature had dropped noticeably as they
neared the wall of mists.  The excessive humidity was gone as well.

Rillen:  Maybe this is more than just a wall that cancels magic.
Songa:  Whatever it may be, I think they're right:  it didn't just end
  up here, all by itself.
Halbarad:  My interpretation would be that, whatever lies on the other
  side of this wall, someone or something wanted it kept separate from
  the outside world.
Peyote:  Yeah, but it's not working.
Og:  (on deck, eyeing the gigantic mist-wall uneasily)  What do you mean?
Peyote:  Validor and Leila mentioned hearing birds, even after those had
  crossed through the barrier.  So whatever it is, it doesn't harm or
  kill living things, plus there's a really good chance of land being
  close, on the other side.
Kiel:  (nods)  We have to go through.
Leila:  I don't think-
Kiel:  (straightens, addressing all those around him - officers, wizards,
  priests, adventurers)  We have a mission.  We all chose it when we were
  asked to undertake this voyage, and we all confirmed it when we set foot
  on this ship the day it sailed.  For months, we're overcome all sorts of
  dangers and hardships, and found the measure of our patience, and our
  resolve.  (he points to the great barrier)  If we turn back now, then
  we have failed, and each of us will have to live with that until the
  day we die.  If we turn back now, then everything to this point has been
  a complete and utter waste.  (he looks around)  And that is not how this
  voyage was meant to end.

  The speech, while wordy, brought the point home.  Even the spellcasters
grudgingly accepted the captain's words.  To a man (or woman) every person
aboard the _Odyssey_ was here because they wanted to complete this voyage,
to learn what truly was on the far side of the world.  This was the moment
of truth, and might be the only such chance they ever had.

Leila:  I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say that we must breach this
  barrier.  (she frowns)  For better or worse, we must go onward.
Kiel:  (regards the other adventurers)  And you?
Peyote:  Dude, you don't even have to ask me.  This is the great unknown.
  How can I refuse?
Daffodil:  Where he goes, I go.
Rillen:  (shrugs)  Whatever lies beyond that thing, it can't be any worse
  than the land we left.
Songa:  Lack of magic is not a problem.
Halbarad:  (smiles thinly)  Especially for me.
Relmar:  If it is Pelor's will that we go on, so be it.
Eyer:  How could we call ourselves adventurers if we backed down from an
  opportunity such as this?

  With that, it was decided.  Of course, the need for caution was still

Kiel:  Of course we're not sailing the _Odyssey_ right into that fogbank.
  (to the second mate)  Prepare to lower a boat.  We'll send a scouting
  party first.

  While the longboat was readied, a brief discussion was held about who
to put on it.  Naturally, some aboard the ship were here for this very
purpose:  Halbarad, Peyote and Daffodil, Rillen and Songa, Eyer.

Validor:  I should go as well.  My knowledge of the seas and-
Kiel:  You're going, don't worry.
Validor:  -ah, right.
Kiel:  Relmar, you stay here.  As our highest-ranking priest, we need you
  in reserve in case something happens.
Songa:  (mutters to Rillen)  Not that his magic will be any good, since
  this barrier negates it.
Rillen:  (shrugs)
Kiel:  Leila, you can stay here too if you prefer-
Leila:  (shakes her head)  No.  We need an experienced wizard, to gauge
  what this barrier is, and how it affects things on the other side.  I'm
  the best choice for the job.
Kiel:  Right.

  Thus it was that the longboat left the _Odyssey_ shortly thereafter,
carrying eight intrepid souls toward a phenomenon unlike anything ever
seen or recorded in known history.  They rowed toward the colossal wall
of mists, which seemed to loom larger as they drew closer.

Rillen:  (looks skyward)  It goes on forever.
Leila:  (faints)
Rillen:  Is she okay?
Halbarad:  (stops rowing for a moment as he examines the elven warrior/
  mage)  She's fine - strong heartbeat, breathing normally.  She's likely
  just feeling weak because of the anti-magic effect.
Peyote:  (faintly)  I'm not...feeling so hot...myself...
Daffodil:  (leans back)  Tired...and sick...
Validor:  (appears to be half-asleep, his eyelids fluttering weakly)
Rillen:  Hmm.
Songa:  (just keeps rowing, a smug look on her face)
Eyer:  I guess the four of us can still row this boat.
Halbarad:  We have no choice.
Rillen:  (eyes the mists)  Here we go.

  The strange barrier was just like any normal fogbank, in that it didn't
just start at a fixed point.  Rather, as they entered it, the mists were
parted for a short distance all around them, while gradually obscuring
things behind them.

Rillen:  The ship's fading out of sight.
Halbarad:  Just stay focused on what's ahead.  We don't know how thick
  the mists are.
Songa:  Or what's inside them.
Eyer:  Sea-trolls, perhaps...or fish that can leap out of the water and
  bite people in a boat...or even carnivorous birds that use the mists as
Rillen:  (glares at the elf)  This isn't the time for such thoughts.
Eyer:  Sorry.  I've been told that I have an active imagination for the
  strange and fantastic.
Halbarad:  Let's all stop talking.  Since we can't see anything now, we
  need our other senses.

  There was silence then, except for the sound of the oars moving through
the water, and the water lapping up against the sides of the boat.  From
somewhere ahead, unseen, came the sounds of occasional birds.  There was
no doubt about it:  _something_ lay beyond the barrier.  The question was

next:      breakthrough
released:  6/17/05
notes:     Let's assume for a moment that there is, in fact, a large
  landmass on the other side of this barrier.  As I write this, I still
  haven't decided exactly what's on it.  Hell, I haven't even decided
  _how_ I'm going to decide what's on it.  The short list of options
  contains a dozen ideas, any of which I could write about and be happy
  with the arc.  I guess I need to think about how long I want the group
  involved in this, and how complex a plot I want to write.  A continent
  full of dinosaurs, for example, is a lot easier to write about than a
  continent ruled by a god-king who's enslaved the human population and
  lorded it over them for centuries.
    I'll figure it out - I always do.  Stay tuned.

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