Chapter #879

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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:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the unknown eastern reaches of the Solnor Ocean       +
+   Climate:        surprisingly cool                                     +
+   "The wild dreams of today are the practical realities of tomorrow."   +
+                                                          - _From Hell_  +

                    DCCCLXXIX.  Reversal of Fortune

  The _Odyssey_ has ventured through the strange barrier of anti-magic
mists and laid anchor within sight of land...a new, uncharted continent
or island whose beaches stretch up to meet a gradually-thickening jungle.

Kiel:  (supervising the lowering of boats, laden with people and supplies
  to go ashore and make camp)

  This course of action was the only one that had really been determined
far ahead of time.  A sizable party would land, set up a base camp, and
scout the area.  In addition to securing the shore camp, they would also
have to seek food and fresh water.  Kiel (and indeed, many of the crew)
had been looking forward to this day for many long months at sea.

Leila:  (sitting on a rail, she wipes sweat from her brow despite the
  cool air temperature)
Rillen:  What's wrong?  (he notices that all of the spellcasters are
  acting similarly, either resting or looking fatigued and weakened)
Leila:  My magic hasn't come back yet...I suspect we're still too close
  to that anti-magic barrier.
Halbarad:  What can we do for you?
Leila:  Nothing, right now.  We'll be okay once we're in boats and on
  that shore, far from the damned barrier.
Songa:  (nods)  As will we, if for a different reason.

  The ship's deck was a bustle of activity, as the crew attended to tasks
and the boats were loaded.  Most of those aboard were colonists, skilled
tradespeople with families; they would be the key to establishing a
functional settlement here on this new land.  Even now, many of them were
in boats or about to be, as the first wave of people headed for shore.
This would include the adventurer-types - Rillen, Songa, Halbarad, Eyer,
Peyote, Daffodil, Relmar - as well as the dwarven general Og and a large
complement of his troops.  That first flotilla of boats was a short time
away from being deployed and heading for land.

Kiel:  Excellent.  (he ushers Rillen and the others to their boat)
third mate:  (looking worried, he dashes over to Kiel, who is directing
  people carrying barrels and crates)
Kiel:  What is it, son?
third mate:  (quietly)  I think we have a problem, sir.
Kiel:  What do you mean?
third mate: just need to come look at this.
Eyer:  (about to climb aboard a boat, he takes note of this conversation
  and turns from the boat, instead following Kiel and the lad)

  The mate led them over to the boat which Rillen, Songa, and the others
had used to breach the barrier and sight land, before the _Odyssey_ had
then sailed through.  The small vessel had been pulled adjacent to the
larger ship for imminent re-loading.

third mate:  (points at the boat)  See that water?
third mate:  I wondered what might have caused it, so I climbed down there
  to have a look.  You're not going to believe what I found.
Kiel:  I might, if you would just tell me.  What is it?
third mate:  That boat's wooden hull is rotting away, even as we speak.
Kiel:  What?!?
third mate:  It's dissolving, and fast.  The thinner hull, near the aft
  side, is almost completely eaten though.  I could put my fist through
  what's left.
Kiel:  Are you sure?
third mate:  (nods, wide-eyed)
Eyer:  We'll make double-sure, then.  (he grabs a rope and deftly climbs
  down into the boat, then moves around within it, one arm over the side,
  checking the hull)  Damn, he's right.
Kiel:  What's wrong with the boat?
Eyer:  I don't know.  The wood's just...dissolving.  I don't know what's
  causing it.
Kiel:  Damn, damn, damn.
Eyer:  (kneels in the boat, examining the hull of the _Odyssey_)  Uh-oh.

  A short time later, a hasty, small meeting was held in the steering

Kiel:  -and that's all we know.  The wood is slowly but surely rotting
  away...well, maybe not rotting.  Disintegrating might be a better word
  for it.
first mate:  Did you tell anybody?
Kiel:  Not yet - no need to cause a panic.  We've sped up all boats, all
  of the loading and shore trips, but I'm not sure we have the luxury of
  time anymore.
Eyer:  We'll never get all these people and supplies ashore before the
  boats decay and sink.
Kiel:  Or the _Odyssey_ itself.  It's bigger, with a thicker hull, but
  if the boats are...being eaten away, it's only a matter of time before
  the ship suffers the same fate.  (he shakes his head)  I can't believe
first mate:  What can we do?
second mate:  Swimming isn't really an option.
Kiel:  We'll have to raise anchor and move closer to shore.  The rest of
  the boats should be off any minute now; as soon as the last one's gone,
  we're moving the ship in.
first mate:  What about reefs?  We haven't sounded for depth either-
Kiel:  There's no time for that.  If we run aground on reefs or remain
  here at anchor, the end result will be the same:  the _Odyssey_ is going
  to sink, probably within the hour.

  Meanwhile, halfway to shore, those in the boats rowed hard, unaware
of the newly-discovered problem and eager to set foot on land.  In the
lead boat were various adventurers...

Halbarad:  (to Leila)  Do you feel any better?
Leila:  Somewhat...but not entirely.  That barrier's influence is strong.
Validor:  Maybe its radiations are more powerful on this side than on the
Songa:  (mutters to Rillen)  I can't help but think that barrier was put
  there for a reason.
Rillen:  But what reason?
Songa:  If it was me, I'd have done it to keep people out.
Relmar:  (unintentionally eavesdropping)  My thoughts exactly.
Peyote:  (gripping the rail of the boat)  Do you feel that?
Songa:  What, that you're not helping row?
Daffodil:  No, he's right...something's the wood.
Halbarad:  Pardon?
Peyote:  The wood is screaming, dude.
Rillen:  You must have eaten some mushrooms again.
Peyote:  No, it's true.  Can't you hear it?
Rillen:  All I hear is waves lapping on the shore.  (he hops out of the
  boat, in order to pull it in)
Songa:  (joins him)  Screaming wood?  Really.

  Shortly, the boat was ashore, and they helped bring other boats in as
they arrived.  Land was stomped on and its discovery celebrated, supplies
were brought onto the beach, and when Og's troops arrived, they began
readying their weapons and planning a defensive perimeter.  It was during
this landing/offloading time that someone first noticed unusual behavior
from the _Odyssey_...

Rillen:  That's odd.
Songa:  What?
Rillen:  The ship's sailing right toward us.
Halbarad:  (looks up)  Whoa...and sailing fast.
Leila:  What in the hell is Kiel doing?
Peyote:  Um, it looks to me like he plans to run that ship right up onto
  the shore.

next:      final landing
released:  7/1/05
notes:     Heh.  For once I can say that I knew what was going to happen,
  long before I wrote the episode where it did.  To put it another way,
  let's just say that they're going to be in the new land for quite some

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