Chapter #645

previous chapter (#644)                                                                  next chapter (#646)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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   +
+   Adolphus        half-ogre warrior                                     +
+   Damien          imp renegade                                          +
+   Peyton          gnome thief                                           +
+   Rogar           human priest of Olidammara                            +
+   Sylus           dark elf warrior/thief                                +
+   Wembly          human wizard                                          +
+   Date:           2/15/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the village of Hommlet                                +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "The Marines are looking for a few good men.  Unfortunately, you      +
+    ain't it."                                                           +
+                        - Gunnery Sgt. Highway, from _Heartbreak Ridge_  +

                           DCXLV.  Hommlet

  Several days have passed since the bandits' ill-fated attack on the
party.  In that time, the six have ridden through the Gnarley Forest and
across the lowlands, finally arriving in the remote village of Hommlet.

Sylus:  It certainly doesn't look like much.
Peyton:  The best places never do.
Wembly:  What's the story with this place again?
Peyton:  Monsters, kid.  This is the first stop on the way to the temple
  and the legions of monsters that lurk within its depths-
Sylus:  Or so they say.
Peyton:  They say a lot of things, but this one I believe in.
Adolphus:  Adolphus believe too.
Damien:  Well, that's good.
Rogar:  (notes that he's just about run out of wine)  Dammit.

  They tied their horses outside the nearest place that looked likely to
have food and drink:  the Welcome Wench Inn.

Rogar:  (beaming)  Sounds like just what I need.
Peyton:  Let's have a look.

  The Welcome Wench was large, clean, and well-run.  As the six sidled up
to the bar, they got some odd looks - especially Adolphus and Damien - but
Peyton did some diplomacizing...

Peyton:  (slaps ten golden coins down on the counter)
barkeep:  Well!  How can I help you today, fine sir?
Peyton:  Drinks and information, my friend.
barkeep:  Ostler Gundigoot's the name.  (he regards Adolphus, who is trying
  to fit his oversized butt on a barstool)  Strange company you keep.
Peyton:  (points to the coins)  But not the only company I keep.  Ale for
  me, the rest will likely vary.
Ostler:  Right.

  Shortly, they all had drinks (though Rogar had already bought his own) and
Peyton was able to get down to the real business.

Peyton:  Peyton Farquhar, at your service.  My friends and I have been sent
  from Greyhawk itself to look into some temple hereabouts...
Ostler:  Temple?
Peyton:  Temple.  As in large building with religious fanatics housed within.
Ostler:  Oh, that temple.
Peyton:  Now we're getting somewhere.
Ostler:  It's the Temple of Elemental Evil you seek...but it isn't here.
Peyton:  Oh?
Ostler:  It's somewhere close to Nulb.
Peyton:  And where might Nulb be?
Ostler:  It's a half-day's ride to the north and east, via the Low Road...
Peyton:  (slides another couple of gold pieces across the counter)
Ostler:  Unless, of course, you wish to risk the perils of the nearby forest
  by cutting through there, in which case it's a much shorter ride.
Peyton:  Hmm.
Ostler:  You and your crew look like the sort of fellows who'd take the
  shorter, more dangerous way.
Peyton:  Quite likely.  We'll be needing some fresh food, packed to go.
Ostler:  I can take care of that.
Peyton:  Outstanding.  Have a drink on me, then.
Ostler:  Why, thank you, good sir.  (he frowns)  Honestly, though...
Peyton:  Eh?
Ostler:  If you're meaning to take a crack at the Temple, there's a better
  place to start.
Peyton:  (leans forward)  How's that?
Ostler:  Well, there's an old moathouse about a day's ride from here, in
  the direction of Nulb and the Temple.
Peyton:  East?
Ostler:  East and north.  Anyway, that would be a good place to start,
  though you'd still have to go through Nulb.  A nasty place, Nulb.
Peyton:  I'm not worried.  Places like that make life worth living.
Ostler:  That may be, but the fact is, the moathouse was the advance base
  for the Temple back in its heyday, and if anything's really going on now,
  the moathouse is a good place to start looking.
Peyton:  I see.  (he slides another few coins to the other)  And I bet
  you've got directions for us?
Ostler:  Coming right up.  (he looks around Peyton, frowning)  What's your
  friend up to there?
Peyton:  (turns to look)  I swear, I can't leave 'em alone for a minute...

  It was Rogar.  The priest had somehow corralled two of the serving girls
and was regaling them with jokes and merriment.

Ostler:  It's just that they have work to do, you see...I can't afford to
  have them running around with the customers.  Not even the rich ones.
Peyton:  I'll take care of it.  Just get that food packed and ready.  (he
  gets up and goes over to Rogar)  Say.
Rogar:  Eh?  Oh, have you met my friends here?
Peyton:  No, but I've gotten us more food and some directions.  We'll be
  heading back out shortly.
Rogar:  But I was just getting-
Peyton:  I know, I know.  But we don't have time for that.  We'll be at
  another small village in a couple of hours, and we'll rest then.  You
  can cut loose there.  This isn't the time.
Rogar:  (grinning broadly)  Sorry, ladies, but duty calls...
Sylus:  Duty.  Bah.
Adolphus:  Doody?  (he looks around)  Adolphus hungry.
Peyton:  It's being taken care of, big guy.  (to Damien)  There are a lot
  of people eyeing you.  Maybe the rat disguise would have been-
Damien:  Screw that!  (he bends over, mooning the observers)  Get an
  eyeful, you perverts!  Hah hah!
Peyton:  (sighs)
Wembly:  (talking with a hooded fellow, he cuts it short and turns back
  to his companions as the other walks away)  This town doesn't even have
  a wizard's shop.
Sylus:  I thought you took care of such matters in Greyhawk.
Wembly:  Nope.  Didn't have time.
Peyton:  (sees Ostler bringing some wrapped goods over)  Ah!

  A short while later, they were on the road again.  Adolphus was eating
in the saddle, cramming huge amounts of bread and meat into his gullet
and chewing noisily all the while.  They had only just gotten out of town
when Sylus noticed that they were being followed.

Sylus:  Two, on horseback.  I saw them watching us in the tavern as well.
Peyton:  As my dear old uncle used to say, better to get these things over
  with sooner than later.
Sylus:  Agreed.

  They stopped, circling in the road so that they now faced the way they'd
come.  It didn't take long for the pursuers to approach.

small dark-haired man:  (holds up his hands, smiling)  We mean no harm.
Peyton:  Well, that's for sure.
Sylus:  What, pray tell, do you two want?
large man:  We just want to help.
small dark-haired man:  Quiet, Kobort.  (to the others)  I am Turuko, and
  this big brutish fellow is Kobort.
Adolphus:  Doesn't look so big to me.
Turuko:  Not that it's any of our business, but if you're going to visit
  the Temple, you'll need guides.
Peyton:  You're right, it's none of your business.
Sylus:  We have no need of guidance.  We'll do fine.
Turuko:  Who, then, will guide you around the giant man-eating frogs of
  the forest ahead?
Adolphus:  Mmm.  Me not had frog legs in long time.
Damien:  Frogs...bah.  We don't need guides.
Kobort:  (to Turuko)  I told you.  Nobody wants to hire us.
Peyton:  So true.  Well, we really must be going.
Turuko:  Perhaps we'll meet again.
Peyton:  Not bloody likely.

  The six companions rode toward the woodlands and the town beyond, leaving
the two would-be guides behind in the dust.

Wembly:  Was it wise to provoke them like that?
Peyton:  Who cares?  What harm can they possibly do us?  We don't have
  time to pay out charity to every poor sap who comes along.
Sylus:  Or any sap, for that matter.
Damien:  Maybe we should have beaten the crap out of them and taken their
Rogar:  I don't think we need money that least not right now.
  (he opens a small flask)  Ah.
Damien:  Well, we need to beat the crap out of somebody.  I've been bored
Adolphus:  Are frogs really around here?
Peyton:  Who knows, good Adolphus?  We shall have to wait and see...

  Meanwhile, in the town behind, an outlander had arrived at the Welcome
Wench Inn...

Deryck:  Barkeep!  Ale for an old friend?
Ostler:  Deryck!  How the hell are you?  (they clasp hands)
Deryck:  Got a moment?
Ostler:  Sure thing.  What's up?
Deryck:  I was wondering if you'd seen the people I sent to check the old
  Temple out...five foreigners, adventurers all.
Ostler:  Big smelly ugly one, talkative gnome?
Deryck:  Those would be the ones.
Ostler:  They just left.  Headed toward Nulb, then either the old moathouse
  or the Temple, depending on if they listen to my advice.  You sent them,
Deryck:  (shrugs, taking a drink from his mug)  Someone had to do it.
Ostler:  Are they friends of yours?
Deryck:  (frowns)
Ostler:  Foes, then?
Deryck:  Neither.  We contracted them to go take a look in the Temple, and
  I'm here to make sure they get there.
Ostler:  I see.
Deryck:  Nenya's sweet, but oftimes naive.  I don't trust those five any
  farther than my money will carry them.
Ostler:  You keep saying "five"...
Deryck:  Eh?
Ostler:  There were six.
Deryck:  Six?
Ostler:  I'm sure of it.  The big one, the gnome, a burly wild priest...
Deryck:  Skinny wizard, another one who wears a hood all the time.  That's
Ostler:  And the little red guy.
Deryck:  Little red guy?
Ostler:  Yep.  Bastard had a tail and wings, even.  Like a little demon.
Deryck:  Oh, my.
Ostler:  He - it - didn't cause any trouble or anything.  Actually real
  quiet.  But that gang surely _could_ cause some trouble if they wanted
Deryck:  One reason I hired them.  Sometimes you need nastiness to deal
  with nastiness.
Ostler:  Well, I think you got the right guys.  (he raises his glass in
  a toast)

next:      Nulb
released:  6/5/00
notes:     Last time, I told you there were several reasons for this party
  getting some time in the spotlight, and I gave you the first.  Here's the
  second:  after years of writing adventures about high-level characters,
  I missed writing adventures about lower-level ones.

previous chapter (#644)                                                                  next chapter (#646)