Chapter #647

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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       +
+   1991-2000 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:           2/16/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          a ruined moathouse near the town of Nulb              +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Pillage before you burn."                                            +
+                                               - Cardinal Rule of War    +

                     DCXLVII.  Into the Moathouse

  After a bit of journeying, the adventurers hired by Deryck have reached
a ruined moathouse.  Even now, they prepare to enter...

Peyton:  That rotted drawbridge doesn't look like it can hold a lot of
  weight.  (he looks pointedly at Adolphus)
Adolphus:  (oblivious, he eyes a large bog to one side of the path)
Sylus:  We had best tie the horses up somewhere.
Peyton:  Good idea.

  The mounts were secured to a stunted tree just off the path, and the
party headed toward the drawbridge.

Rogar:  This place seems abandoned.  Perhaps the time has come to return
  to yonder town and have some hot food and cold drink-
Sylus:  (glares at the priest)
Rogar:  (spreads his hands)  I'm only joking!
Wembly:  I think it sounds like a good idea.
Sylus:  You would.  Just have your spells ready, wizard.  We may have need
  of your magic.
Damien:  (snorts to himself)  Horseshit.
Wembly:  You guys may think you're funny now, but just you wait until an
  army of foes is upon us and I have a fireball ready-
Sylus:  Quiet!
Wembly:  What, I don't get a turn to talk?!?
Sylus:  (points to some tall grass with his now-drawn sword)  Something is
  stalking us, you fool!
Adolphus:  (hefts his military pick)  Huh?  Me not see-

  There was a movement in the tall grass just then...and suddenly, several
short, squat forms hopped out of the cover and right at the party!

giant frog #1:  Ribbit!  (it hops toward Sylus)
giant frog #2:  Blllb!  (being a bit larger, it hops toward Rogar)
giant frog #3:  Gronk!  (being the largest of the bunch, it hops toward
Adolphus:  (raises his pick)  Adolphus smash!
giant frog #4:  (sighting the small and probably easily-eaten Peyton, it
  hops toward the gnome)  Croak!
Peyton:  I don't like the way that thing's looking at me...
giant frog #5:  (toward the rear of the group of frogs, it moves into
  position, then makes a beeline right for Wembly)  Rrrrk!
Wembly:  Aie!  (he leaps back)
Sylus:  I've never seen you move so fast, wizard.
giant frog #6:  (still trying to find a victim)
Damien:  (now holding a tiny trident, he grins)  Frog legs...

  Although the huge frogs had sprung their ambush almost perfectly, their
intended victims had been saved from total surprise by Sylus' keen senses.
Rather than pouncing upon unsuspecting prey, the frogs found themselves up
against strong and ready foes.

Sylus:  (slashes at the first frog as it hops toward him)
giant frog #1:  (the front part of its head is sliced in half, and it
  flagellates wildly)  Grrrrrk!
Sylus:  (wasting no time, he stabs the thing in the eye, just to be sure)
giant frog #2:  (hops forward, biting at Rogar)
Rogar:  Not so fast, you!  (leaping back, he avoids the attack, then
  bashes the thing atop the head with his war club, the heavy wood pulping
  the soft flesh)
giant frog #2:  Blllb!  (it recoils, severely injured)
Rogar:  Take that!  And that!  And that!  (he rains a flurry of blows upon
  the frog)
giant frog #3:  (bites Adolphus, its powerful jaws crunching down on the
  half-ogre's splint mail)  Gronk!
Adolphus:  (ignoring the pain, he lashes out with his pick)  I told you,
  Adolphus SMASH!
giant frog #3:  (finds the pick's sharp, heavy point buried in the top of
  its head)  Gronk?
Adolphus:  (not even bothering to pull the weapon out, he swings one huge
  fist, smashing it into the side of the frog's head)
giant frog #3:  (collapses)
Peyton:  (leaps back as the fourth frog snaps at him)
giant frog #4:  (snags a corner of the gnome's cloak in its jaws, and tugs
  at the prey)
Peyton:  Yieee!  (he whirls about and slashes at his cloak, cutting loose
  of the monster's grip)
giant frog #4:  (leaps forth again)
Peyton:  (stands perfectly still, his sword ready)
giant frog #4:  (bounds through the air, intent upon its prey)
Peyton:  (rolls forward at the last moment, moving under and then behind
  the leaping attacker)
giant frog #4:  (confused)  Rbbbb?
Peyton:  (slashes at the thing's hindquarters, scoring a minor wound)
giant frog #5:  (closing in on Wembly)
Wembly:  (hastily spellcasting, he unleashes a volley of three magical
  missiles, pelting the frog and burning chunks from its head)
giant frog #5:  (halts its attack, croaking in pain and bleeding rather
  profusely)  Blllb!
giant frog #6:  (hopping around, it prepares to attack Adolphus)
Damien:  Gotcha!  (he flies down, his tiny trident stabbing at the frog's
giant frog #6:  (stabbed in one eye, it croaks in pain as small flames
  dance from the trident and burn its flesh)
Damien:  (his tail whips around, poking the frog in the back)  Gotcha!
giant frog #6:  (poisoned, it flops about, then rolls over onto its back
  and is still)
Damien:  Heh.

  The battle was going well, for only one frog - the one that had attacked
Peyton - was still relatively unwounded and able to move about normally.

giant frog #4:  (looking around at its dead or dying fellows)  Ribbit!
  (with a great leap, it flees)
Peyton:  (considers shooting the thing, but decides not to waste an arrow
  on a mindless foe)
Sylus:  A close call, eh?
Peyton:  Maybe.  When facing something that can swallow you whole in one
  gulp, it's usually best to flee.  That's what my dear old uncle used to
  say, anyway.
Rogar:  Sounds like good advice to me.  (he flings bits of gore off of his
Damien:  (flying around, he uses his tiny trident to deliver killing blows
  to the wounded foes)  Die, die, die!
Adolphus:  (picks up one of the slain frogs)  Nice big juicy frog legs...
Damien:  (pointing at the frog he killed with his poisonous tail stinger)
  I wouldn't eat that one if I were you.

  A quick search of the tall grass revealed no treasure, so they approached
the sagging drawbridge.  Immediately to the left was a stone guardtower,
its upper portion collapsed, but there was no easy way up its side, and the
drawbridge seemed the most direct means of entry.

Sylus:  I shall test this thing first.  (before anyone else can volunteer,
  he steps forward, walking gingerly across the collapsed drawbridge)

  After that, they all crossed, one by one.  The thing creaked and groaned
under the weight of Adolphus, but it held, and they regrouped on the far
side.  Just ahead were a pair of huge wooden doors; one was intact, but the
other had been broken off of its hinges long ago and now hung loose.  There
was evidence of an attempt to shore up the portals from the inside, but it
had obviously failed.  Beyond the battered doors was a square courtyard,
one corner of which they now stood in.  Across the courtyard, perhaps a
hundred feet diagonally, was a wide set of steps leading up a short way
to a slightly elevated section of the castle.  Even from here, they could
see that the doors at the top of those steps had also been sundered.

Adolphus:  Big fight here once.
Peyton:  That's the story...this was some kind of outpost for the forces
  of the Temple itself.  It got stormed.
Rogar:  (nods, looking around)  Must have been a hell of a battle.
Damien:  Heh.
Sylus:  Look there...footprints in the mud.

  A number of prints were scattered around the area behind the moathouse's
main doors.

Wembly:  They go in, toward those steps...probably makes sense.
Peyton:  Let's check out that tower first.  If someone wanted to ambush
  visitors to this place, that's where they'll be watching.

  The tower had several arrow slits, but nothing much was discernable by
looking through these from the outside.  The tower was dark, and a single
opening led into it at ground level.  Although the upper portion had long
ago collapsed, there was enough left that an upper floor might still be
intact.  They moved in cautiously, those with infravision going first in
order to spot any foes within.  However, the place was empty save for a
number of coins gleaming amidst the wreckage on the tower's floor.

Peyton:  Looks like copper, mostly, but a few silver.
Adolphus:  (moving ahead)  Me gets coins.
Peyton:  Hold on there, big guy.  You'll note the bones and stuff on the
  floor too...
Adolphus:  Bah.  (he plows ahead, grabbing for the nearest silver coin
  amidst the rubbish on the floor)

  The attack came from above, a giant hairy form dropping down atop the

Adolphus:  Hey!  (he whirls about)
giant spider:  (biting at the gigantic prey, which will surely mean good
  eating for a month)
Adolphus:  (bitten, he feels a burning in the wound)  Ow!

  Sylus was the first of the onlookers to react, his sword flashing in
the darkness.  A gout of green ooze spurted from the slicing wound made
by the dark elf's blade, and the spider let go of Adolphus, dropping to
the floor.

Rogar:  (with a war-cry, he steps forth and smashes the thing with his
  war-club)  Die!
giant spider:  (crushed and bleeding, it barely moves now)
Sylus:  (finishes the monster with a quick, neat stab to its head)
Damien:  I thought drow had a thing for spiders...
Sylus:  Not this drow.
Peyton:  Hmm.  (he kicks at the twitching body)  Poisonous, judging by
  the stuff dripping from its fangs.  (he turns to Adolphus)

  The half-ogre was leaning against the tower's inner wall, breathing

Peyton:  You okay?
Adolphus:  Burns...
Peyton:  If you were going to die, you'd have died by now.
Wembly:  Maybe the spider was old and weak.
Damien:  (busy trying to set the monster's corpse on fire)
Sylus:  More likely Adolphus just resisted the venom.
Peyton:  It's quite possible.  He's got the stamina of a buffarilla.
Rogar:  Eh?
Peyton:  Do you still have any of that really strong brandy?
Rogar:  Do you forget who you're asking?  Do I still have any of that
  really strong brandy, indeed...wait, what do you want it for?
Peyton:  To clean the wound out.  Just hand it over.
Rogar:  (passes a small flask, a pained expression on his face)  You
  have no idea how much this hurts me...
Peyton:  (checking Adolphus' wound)  It's gonna hurt _him_ a lot more.
  Ready, Adolphus?
Adolphus:  Me ready.
Peyton:  (douses the wound with the fiery liquor)
Adolphus:  Stings.
Peyton:  That's to be expected.  (he hands the flask back to Rogar)
Rogar:  (weighing it in his hands, he frowns)

  The loose coins amidst the rubble were collected, and then they
resumed their explorations.  The floor above was little more than a
flimsy network of wooden beams, with no floor and nowhere else to go.
Thus, they headed to the wide steps across the courtyard.  These led
into a large audience hall, now plundered and ruined.  Torn and rotted
tapestries covered the walls, and broken bits of furniture littered
the floor.  There were three obvious exits:  to the left and right,
darkened passages led away, and ahead, an old but stout-looking door
led into what looked like the former keep of the castle.  They opted
to take the right-hand passage, and almost immediately came across a
stairway going up.  Unfortunately, the stairs were completely blocked
by collapsed stonework and beams, rendering them impassable.
  The passage continued, however, with several doors to the left and
right.  The first of these led to a small room full of dirt and bits
of stone, through which a few skinny rats darted.  After Damien had
killed the slowest of the rats, the party checked the next door.  This
one led to what looked like a bedchamber, based on the smashed remains
of the furniture within.  As Damien had the ability to detect magical
auras, the explorers had little fear of missing out on any magical
items that might just happen to be lying around.
  The third door led into another chamber containing ruined furniture,
though these remains were of higher quality than those in the previous
two rooms.  Whoever had come this way had vandalized everything in
sight, leaving nothing intact or serviceable.  A swarm of bats, spooked
by the intruders, began fluttering about, but the adventurers ignored
them and returned to the main hallway.  The passage terminated in a
larger chamber, one corner of which had collapsed.  More prominent was
the huge snake, well over ten feet long, that was coiled up in the far
corner of the room.

giant snake:  (greets the visitors by rearing up and hissing)
Wembly:  Holy crap!

next:      finishing up above-ground
released:  6/12/00
notes:     This module really is a good one for beginning parties.

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