Chapter #878

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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        +
+   Kiel Morgan     14th level human warrior                              +
+   Og              16th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Relmar          18th level human high priest of Pelor                 +
+   Thorlok         11th level human war-mage                             +
+   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                                     +
+   "What a long, strange trip it's been."                                +
+                                                  - the Grateful Dead    +

                    DCCCLXXVIII.  Land Ho!

  The _Odyssey_ has stopped its epic voyage just short of an impossibly
large barrier of mists that blocks sight and negates magic.  Now, a small
boat containing eight adventurers has penetrated the mists in an attempt
to break through and get some answers...

Rillen:  (rowing hard)  I think the mists are thinning up ahead...
Songa:  And I can hear those seagulls...or whatever kind of birds they
Halbarad:  They don't sound like seagulls.
Songa:  How would you know?  You live in the forests.
Halbarad:  (shrugs)

  The magic-using members of the exploratory party - Peyote, Daffodil,
and especially Leila and Validor - were completely useless now, thanks
to the magic-negating properties of the strange fog-barrier.  Those four
were either comatose or lying in the boat, too weak to do anything; the
other four had to ply the oars and keep the boat moving through the

Eyer:  (straining at an oar)
Songa:  You row strongly for a small, thin elf.
Eyer:  We wood elves are made of stronger stuff than common elves.
Rillen:  (glances at the spell-users)  Do you think they'll be okay?
Halbarad:  Probably.  From times past, when we've encountered anti-magic
  zones, all that ever happened was this...the magic-using people grew
  weak and useless.  They always pull through, though.
Rillen:  (regards Peyote, who looks like he's about to throw up)  I hope

  As much as the big warrior scorned magic, there was a high likelihood
that such power would be necessary very soon...for the vaporous barrier
all around them was growing less dense.  Hearts raced and breaths were
held as the mists thinned around the boat, and the unknown promised to
be revealed any moment.  Of course, they all knew what land looked like,
but it had been so long - many months - that they couldn't help but
anticipate the sight.

Songa:  Any time now...ah.
Rillen:  (nods)
Halbarad:  (smiles thinly)  I'll be the one to say it, then:  Land ho.

  Indeed it was.  Ahead, perhaps ten minutes' rowing time from the huge
misty barrier, was a large landmass.  If it was an island, it was a big
one; it stretched to the left and right as far as the eye could see.  It
might have been the edge of a continent, too - there was just no way to
tell at this point.  The waves lapped at an expanse of beach, which led
up several hundred feet to the beginning of a sparse jungle, which then
thickened as it sloped slightly upward further inland.

Halbarad: untamed wilderness.
Songa:  At least we hope it's untamed.  (she frowns)  I can't think of a
  greater disappointment than sailing all the way out here, beyond the
  edge of the world, only to find that the new land teems with idiots
  just like the ones we left behind.
Eyer:  You really don't like the Flanaess, do you?
Songa:  No, I really don't.
Rillen:  So...what now?
Songa:  What do you mean?
Rillen:  Do we go back and report this, or go ashore and check it out?
Eyer:  I say we land and explore.
Halbarad:  (regards the spellcasters, who are still out of it)  Without
  those four functional and able to help, we should go back.  Kiel only
  wanted to learn whether the barrier could be breached, and if so, what
  was on its far side.  We've accomplished that.  I'd imagine he wants
  to know that we made it, and then he'll sail the _Odyssey_ through the
  mists, lay anchor, and send parties ashore.
Songa:  (thinking about a dinner of freshly-killed meat)  And go hunting.

  So it was that (much to Eyer's regret) they turned the boat around and
rowed back to the ship.  It was tedious work, to be sure.

Eyer:  (grumbling)  This is like digging a hole and then filling it back
Halbarad:  We're not in charge here - Kiel is.

  The four spellcasters were too weak to complain, or say anything for
that matter.  They didn't appear to be in danger, but they definitely
wouldn't be of any use in battle, if battle was to spring up.  Nothing
menaced the adventurers, though, as they made their way back through the
strange barrier of thick vapors.  In short order, they had returned to
the _Odyssey_ and briefed Kiel.

Kiel:  (rubbing his chin)  Very well.  (to the first mate)  Inform the
  crew and passengers, and ready the sails to catch the next wind.  We're
  going through the barrier.  (to Leila)  One of you wizards should send
  out a message, back to our homeland, letting them know what we've found
  and that we're going through it.  Just in case.
Leila:  Good idea.

  As preparations began, various people had various reactions.

Relmar:  I am...uncomfortable with this.  That wall of mists will sever
  my connection with Pelor.
Kiel:  We have to go on, you know that.
Relmar:  I just don't like it.
Og:  (hefts his notched battleaxe)  Don't worry, high priest.  Me and my
  troops'll protect you.
Relmar:  (eyeing the barrier as it stretches to the sky, he doesn't look
  very relieved)
Eyer:  Hard to believe we're at our journey's end.
Halbarad:  It is, isn't it.
Validor:  (gets a strange look on his face)
Leila:  What is it?
Validor:  I was just thinking...during this months-long voyage, with all
  its perils and trials and tribulations, there was one thing we never
  encountered that I expected we would.
Leila:  What's that?
Validor:  A kraken...giant squid.  Legend has it that such beasts lurk in
  the hearts of the largest oceans, ready and able to pull down even the
  largest ships and crush them like eggs.
Eyer:  (his ears perk up)  Really?
Validor:  With all the ocean that we traversed, I guess I expected to see find out if the legends were true.
Peyote:  No worries, man.  Nobody's going to be sad that we missed out on
  that encounter.
Leila:  Let's not jinx it, though.

  Soon, all preparations had been made, the sails were unfurled, the
crew was ready...and the great ship cut through the water, heading for
the strange barrier and the new, unknown land beyond.  As the _Odyssey_
entered the weird mists, there were gasps and whispers; for all but eight
(actually four) of those aboard, this was the first time they'd ventured
within the vapors.  The wizards and priests aboard lapsed into the same
nauseated, powerless state that had afflicted Leila and the others.  For
those four, this was turning out to be a most unpleasant day.  Even as
the ship moved through the mists, some found themselves wondering what
would happened if the wind died, since they couldn't bring magic or oars
to bear.  Fortunately, the wind had been strong as the ship got moving,
and it continued to fill the sails, perhaps guided by some greater hand.
The crew continued to do their job, although the mists were thick enough
to keep a man from seeing anything greater than ten feet away.  Those who
stood far above, in the crows' nest, must have been filled with great
trepidation, unable to see their crewmates below or the waters ahead.
  It was a brief but strange time, one that nobody aboard would ever
forget.  Eventually, though, it passed, and the ship emerged from the
mists as the great landmass ahead came into view.  Cheers resounded from
all on deck, even taken up by those below, who couldn't see but knew what
was going on.

Og:  (grinning at Kiel)  We did it!
Kiel:  That we did, old friend.
Rillen:  (hugs Songa)  Finally.
Songa:  I can't wait to get off this ship and set foot on dry land.
Halbarad:  None of us can.
Eyer:  Ah...true adventure, the exploring of a new land, a land beyond
  the realm of the known and charted.  (he cracks his knuckles)  This is
  what makes life worth living.

next:      reversal of fortune
released:  6/24/05
notes:     After they make landfall in the next episode, 879, I'm going
  back to Belphanior for the 880s.  I need to finish up the gateway arc
  so he and his crew can move on to other things I have planned.

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