Chapter #644

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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                                     +
+   Peyton          gnome thief                                           +
+   Rogar           human priest of Olidammara                            +
+   Sylus           dark elf warrior/thief                                +
+   Wembly          human wizard                                          +
+   Date:           2/6/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the plains to the west of Greyhawk                    +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "You are Number Six!"                                                 +
+                                                - from _The Prisoner_    +

                       DCXLIV.  Bonus Earnings

  Recently hired by Deryck and Nenya to go to Hommlet and explore an old
temple, the five companions are now on the road.

Sylus:  Why do you think they hired us?
Peyton:  Because they wanted someone who would get the job done.
Sylus:  I am not so sure.  They seemed to be hiding something.
Peyton:  Big deal.  We got their money and their supplies, with more money
  to come when we're done.  You know what that tells me?
Sylus:  What?
Peyton:  There's something under that temple...something either really
  important or really valuable.  (he grins)  Which both mean the same to
  us:  money.
Sylus:  A clever one, you are.
Peyton:  The clever ones mint the coins while the dumb ones dig the ore,
  as my dear old uncle used to say.
Wembly:  Can I say something?
Sylus:  No.
Wembly:  (begins fiddling with his horse's reins)
Adolphus:  (asleep in the saddle, he snores loudly, snot dripping from
  one nostril)

  All of their horses were stout and strong, but Adolphus' was almost as
monstrous as its rider.  A large, lean, and mean brute, the animal had
kicked out at a random passerby on the way out of town.  Only when the
half-ogre had raised a fist had the horse settled down - and even then,
it had regarded all others with a baleful eye.

Sylus:  How disgusting.  If not for that one's strength, I would not
  tolerate his presence.
Peyton:  He comes in damn handy, though.  Remember that time with the
Sylus:  Aye.
Wembly:  Not many people could rip the head from a monster like that.
Rogar:  (drains the last drops from a wineskin)  Ah!
Peyton:  Second one today, eh?
Rogar:  Third.  (he stashes the empty skin in his saddlebags)  Priests
  of Olidammara have certain obligations, you know.
Sylus:  Drinking?
Rogar:  Oh, that's just one.  (counting on his fingers)  Dancing...
Peyton:  Good thing we didn't stay that long in Greyhawk.  No telling
  what might have happened.
Sylus:  As it was, we had to leave-
little red-skinned demon-thing:  (flies up)  I'm baaaaack!
Peyton:  And welcome back, good Damien.

  Damien was an imp, a minor demonoid from a lower plane.  At two feet
in height, he didn't look like much - except for the barbed tail, bat-
like wings, and tiny horns that spoke of his heritage.  Dark red skin
was offset by jet-black hair; his fangs and horns were white.  Though
Damien had many powers and abilities, his primary asset was attitude.

Damien:  What's the name of the game this time, guys?
Peyton:  Dungeon exploration, looks like.
Sylus:  Though hope springs eternal.
Damien:  Hmm, well.  (to Rogar)  Did you get it?
Rogar:  Sure did.  (he digs around in his saddlebags, finally producing
  a tall, thin flask of red liquor)  Cobra-blood brandy, imported from
  the Pomarj.
Damien:  Ahhhh.  Many thanks, my man.  I owe you one.
Rogar:  No problem.

  Damien was the rather unusual sixth member of the group, though he
sometimes had to stay outside of larger, more controlled cities.  The
imp wasn't afraid of anything, but both he and the others knew that
a few cities were frequented by the sorts of people who could spot and
identify Damien for what he was, and that simply wouldn't do.  Greyhawk
had been deemed one such city, and the imp had elected to remain outside
the great city's gates, hunting and feeding on wildlife.

Damien:  (regarding the snoring Adolphus Delphi)  Any action this time?
Peyton:  Nope.  We weren't in the city long enough for him to get into
  a fight.
Wembly:  Good thing, too.  Greyhawk's got a reputation.
Damien:  Hmph.  So where're we headed?
Sylus:  Some village called Hommlet, a week's ride to the west.
Wembly:  Or flight, if you prefer.
Damien:  I'm tired right now.  (he lands on Adolphus' horse, perching
  behind the half-ogre)  I'll hitch a ride here for a bit, if doofus
  doesn't mind.
Sylus:  I doubt he will even know for quite some time.

  Reunited, the band rode west, in the general direction of Dyvers.  It
took them the better part of five days to skirt that city and hit the
northwestern reaches of the Gnarley Forest.  With the possible exception
of Wembly, none of them much minded camping in the outdoors.  Sylus had
come from a background of much greater comforts, but he hadn't complained
about anything as long as any of them had known him.
  It wasn't until they were well into those woodlands that they finally
had some relief from the boredom of their travels...

bandit:  (appears from behind a thick tree ahead, bearing a crossbow)
  Hold it right there.
Rogar:  What the hell...?
Sylus:  Relax.  I spotted this clown a while back.  And his four friends.
other bandits:  (emerging from their supposed cover)
first bandit:  (aiming the crossbow at the dark elf)  You've got a big
  mouth, friend, for someone who's pretty close to eating a bolt.
Sylus:  I am not your friend, and your idiotic threats fail to scare me.
first bandit:  Oh yeah-
second bandit:  (to the other)  Patience.  (to Sylus)  We just want your
  money - no trouble.
Peyton:  Problem is, FRIEND, those two things are one and the same.
Rogar:  (holding a jug)  Err...ale, anyone?
third bandit:  (holding his sword ready)  To hell with it, let's just
  kill them all.
Sylus:  Funny, I was about to say the exact same thing.
Damien:  (yawns)  Enough of this horseshit.
third bandit:  What-

  The imp flew forth, toward the man with the crossbow, so slowly and
casually that the bandit couldn't possibly miss him.

first bandit:  What in the bloody hell are you?!?  (he fires the crossbow,
  hitting the imp in the belly with the bolt)
Damien:  URK!  (he reels in midair, his wings flapping)  ARK!  (he goes
  limp, wings still flapping)
first bandit:  (looks confused)
Damien:  (springs back to life, pulling the bolt from his stomach)  Hah!
  Fooled you!
first bandit:  Crap!  (he steps back, fumbling for his sword)
Damien:  (tosses the bolt aside, his wound healing up as if it was never
  there)  Not so fast.  (he flies toward the foe)

  The imp's companions had gone from neutrality to readiness in these few
moments.  Even as Damien circled the crossbowman's head, stabbing with his
spiked tail, Sylus had tossed a dagger and Peyton was lining up a shot
with his shortbow.  Adolphus had dismounted and was charging toward the
foes, ready to take them all on by himself.  Rogar was lumbering in that
same direction, his heavy war club in one beefy hand and a jug of ale in
the other.

Damien:  (regarding his own bloody tail spike)  Looks like I got you.
first bandit:  (falls, poisoned)
second bandit:  (his sword-arm crippled by Sylus' hurled dagger, he
  backs away)
Sylus:  (closes the space between him and the foe in a few scant moments,
  his sword flicking out)
second bandit:  (stabbed in the throat, he falls, gurgling)
Sylus:  When a man or one of his allies aims a bolt or points a sword,
  the game changes.
Peyton:  Right you are.  (he fires an arrow)
third bandit:  (hit in the shoulder, he falls)
Adolphus:  (bearing down on the other two bandits)  Adolphus smash now!
fourth and fifth bandits:  (turn to flee)
Adolphus:  (takes both down with a single swing of his military pick,
  spearing one through the chest and knocking the other to the ground)
Rogar:  Wait for me, Adolphus!
Adolphus:  (picks the fifth bandit up by the neck, shaking him like a rag
fifth bandit:  (his neck snapped)
Adolphus:  Bah.  (he tosses the body away)
Rogar:  Dammit, this always happens.  (he looks around, then at his jug
  of ale)  Oh well.  (he takes a long swig)
Peyton:  Good deal.
Wembly:  Those scum were hardly worth a fireball.
Peyton:  We'll work hard to try and find you some scum worth casting a
  spell for, Wembly.
Sylus:  (to the wounded third bandit)  Have you any allies anywhere nearby?
third bandit:  No.  No!  I swear it!
Sylus:  Good.  (he finishes the foe with a single neat thrust of his sword)
Adolphus:  Puny fight.  Too easy.
Peyton:  Don't worry about it, big guy.  Damien?
Damien:  (flying around the corpses)  No magic...these were puny bandits.
Peyton:  I'm sure they've still got some money and maybe valuables.  Let's
  check 'em, pile 'em up off the trail, and get on our way.
Sylus:  (wiping his blade on one of the dead mens' tunics)  Hardly worth
  the effort of drawing my sword.
Peyton:  (holding up some golden coins)  But pretty good bonus pay, eh?
Rogar:  That's beer money, my short but astute friend.

next:      Hommlet
released:  6/1/00
notes:     There are several reasons for this party getting some time in
  the spotlight.  I'll give you the first:  I need a break from all of my
  normal characters.  Even Belphanior.
    I watched the pilot episode of _Survivor_ last night...weak.  This
  isn't at all a TRUE survival situation.  Not when the weak ones can
  vote out the strong ones.  I call bullshit.
    Want to know about my second job?  It's discussed in the latest
  update at:

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