Chapter #646

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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:           2/15/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the village of Hommlet                                +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."             +
+                                                          - Carl Sagan   +

                           DCXLVI.  Nulb

  The adventurers have passed through Hommlet and are now on their way to
Nulb in search of the Temple of Elemental Evil.  While riding through the
northwestern reaches of the Gnarley Forest, amid the looming dark and
gloomy trees, they discuss their situation...

Sylus:  Nice place.
Wembly:  Kind of scary, actually.
Peyton:  This town ahead, sounds like we'll have to use it as
  a base from which to go exploring in the Temple.
Rogar:  A good base should have plenty of food, wine, and women.
Sylus:  Is that all you ever think about?
Rogar:  (helpfully)  Well, there's also a warm fire, the songs of a good
  bard, dancing, and merriment.
Peyton:  Uh, yeah.  Let's worry about the job before we think of the
Sylus:  The rewards _are_ the job for me.  I seek relief from the boredom
  of normal existence.
Damien:  Yeah, yeah, we know the tune.  The Underdark was too boring for
  you, so you came up here but found that it was even more boring, but you
  don't want to go back.  You're basically screwed.
Sylus:  Have a care, imp.
Damien:  (whistling merrily)
Adolphus:  (to Peyton)  Fighting soon?  Me bored like black elf.
Peyton:  Soon, good Adolphus.  We have but to arrive in this Nulb place,
  get our bearings, and then strike out for the Temple's ruins.
Adolphus:  Make more ruins?
Peyton:  With any luck.
Adolphus:  Good.  Adolphus like to smash and crush.
Wembly:  Same thing.
Adolphus:  Huh?
Wembly:  Never mind.

  From the warnings of the various people they'd talked to in the last few
hours, they expected to be accosted by someone or something while en route
to Nulb.  However, no foes showed themselves, no humanoids or bandits or
giant frogs.  A mere two hours after leaving Hommlet, the six companions
arrived in Nulb...

Wembly:  What a dismal-looking place this is.
Sylus:  I see nothing wrong with it.
Adolphus:  They have food?
Rogar:  They look like the sort of place where one can partake of fine
  food and imbibe spirits.
Peyton:  And get into a fight, if we're not careful.
Damien:  (looking around)  My kind of place.
Peyton:  Remember, we don't need that kind of attention.  We really don't.
Sylus:  We shall see.  The first priority should be finding a place to
  spend the night.
Peyton:  (nods)  Then supplies, then a hot supper and some good rest to
  prepare us for tomorrow's activities.
Wembly:  And what activities would those be, exactly?
Peyton:  That barkeep back in Hommlet seemed to think that the moathouse
  to the north of here would be a good place to start.
Sylus:  I am not so sure.
Peyton:  Me neither, but I figure we should have a look, then head to the
  Temple itself.
Rogar:  Sounds good to me.
Damien:  But and drink!
Rogar:  That also sounds good to me.

  They secured lodgings and supper at a place called the Waterside Hostel,
whose patrons were shifty but cautious, leaving the strangers alone.  This
might have had something to do with Adolphus' sheer size, Sylus' openly-
visible sword, Peyton's confident glare, and so forth.  The crude map that
Ostler had given Peyton seemed to show the Temple as actually being closer
to Nulb than the moathouse, but Peyton still wanted to check out the latter

Peyton:  Sometimes the small fry can help you find the big fish, as my dear
  old uncle used to say.
Sylus:  You said earlier that you thought the moathouse to be empty.
Peyton:  It may be, but it may not be.  I figure it might give us some
  clues before we go charging into the Temple itself.  If there's nothing
  of importance there, we'll know before we waste too much time.

  They didn't waste much time on arrival; after taking care of the rooms
and sustenance, they made a brief trip out to get some food and supplies
for the trip.  The small general store in Nulb was just about perfect for

Adolphus:  More food.
Peyton:  You're going to carry it all?
Adolphus:  Yes.
Peyton:  Good, you can carry some more for all of us then.
Adolphus:  (shrugs)  Sure.
Rogar:  (picks up a jug of water to bless later)  Holy water can come in
Sylus:  (checks the quality of some coils of rope)  Have you nothing finer
  than this?
store owner:  Uh, no.
Sylus:  (tosses the rope away in disgust)  Feh!
Damien:  (grabs some flasks of oil)  We'll need plenty of this.
Wembly:  Planning on immolating again, eh?
Damien:  Maybe.  Or I might use 'em for cooking.  You just never know.
Wembly:  (grabs some empty scrolls, a quill, and a bottle of ink)  Best
  to be prepared for anything.
Peyton:  (collecting various small odds and ends)  Right you are, wizard.
  Right you are.

  The night passed without incident; if any evildoers were lurking in the
town, they weren't ready to engage these strangers at this point in the
game.  Morning found the six up and moving at dawn.

Peyton:  Let's go have a look at that moathouse.
Sylus:  Yes, let's.  My sword has been dry for too long.
Adolphus:  (helpfully)  Adolphus bored too.
Damien:  I'm sure we'll find something fun to do today...otherwise we'll
  just have to come back to this town and start some trouble of our own.

  They set out, maintaining a rapid pace in order to reach the moathouse
well before dusk.  Around noon, they noticed that the surrounding terrain
was getting more and more harsh.  Thorns, brambles, and such were becoming
more frequent; overgrown areas obscured the trail in a number of places.
Thick puddles of mud had to be avoided in spots, and eventually, they had
to dismount and clear the way on foot.

Adolphus:  (tearing away great patches of thorns with his gigantic pick)
Sylus:  (glad for this, as he has no desire to dull his fine blade on such
  a trivial task)
Damien:  (flying overhead)  Whoa!  Ruins ahead!
Peyton:  How far?
Damien:  Maybe fifty yards.

  A short while (but a lot of work) later, they could make out the jagged
silhouette of the dilapidated moathouse.  The trail continued past the
place, though it grew even narrower and more tangled.  Ahead and to the
right, they saw an old, rickety drawbridge leading into the castle; this
appeared to be the only entrance.  Stinking bogs were scattered about, all
around the outer walls of the old moathouse.

Peyton:  Well, here we are.  Everyone ready?
Damien:  (grins)  Are you kidding?  I was born for this!
Sylus:  Ready.
Rogar:  (takes a deep swig from a wineskin, then puts it away)  I stand
Wembly:  (looking vaguely uneasy)  Brr...
Adolphus:  I is ready.
Peyton:  Well, then...let's do it!

next:      battle!  dungeons!  treasure!  glory!
released:  6/8/00
notes:     It's kind of nice having main characters who can't teleport
  across the world, summon allies, blast ghosts into dust with a wave of
  the hand, and so on.  I miss that when I write the normal Adventurers.
    About the Temple:  while T1-4 is a good overall module, it's somewhat
  ambiguous as to the exact location of some of the places in relation to
  others - both in the maps and the text.  In addition, a lot of parts of
  this module are set up for adventurers of "Good" alignment - which quite
  obviously doesn't apply here.  Fortunately, writer's licence enables me
  to do it in whatever order I want.
    Someone pointed out to me that when I use TSR modules like this, I'm
  technically plagarizing/copying/whatever.  This may be true, but since
  I've set my stories in TSR's world and used their NPCs from day 1, I see
  no reason to back off at this point.  Besides that, I know that a lot of
  readers would prefer to see the heroes run through the "classic" modules
  as well as the ones I made up myself.

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