Chapter #601

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +
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+     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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
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+   Date:           1/2/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           evening                                               +
+   Place:          Nenya & Deryck's castle, west of Greyhawk             +
+   Climate:        warm and cozy                                         +
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+   "Change is the essential process of all existence."                   +
+                                                            - unknown    +
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                          DCI.  Prosperity





  It had been a good year, that was for sure.  Every aspect of Nenya and
Deryck's holdings had seen growth and prosperity.  Their farmlands had
doubled in size and population, necessitating further land purchases from
the Free City.  Indeed, the cumulative output of the region had reached
the point where weekly organized wagon trips into Greyhawk were necessary.
No longer did individual farmers, herdsmen, or others have to venture into
the city to sell their wares.  These days, the community had its very own
marketplace - a rather large one - for its residents.  After supplying
their neighbors' needs first, the people then took their surplus into the
Free City.
  Everybody won.  The residents in Nenya and Deryck's dominion had
everything they needed, without having to resort to Greyhawk to sell
their goods.  In fact, the area now resembled a small town, with the
castle Ged had built in its center.  Blacksmiths, butchers, tailors,
and any number of skilled laborers lived there.  If the community
hadn't been so close to Greyhawk, Nenya would have already declared
its independence and set up her own government.  She understood that
the high priest Relmar, two days' ride to the south, had actually
done this, almost a decade ago.  However, her land still had legal
and political ties with the Free City.
  Nevertheless, the area thrived, and the money rolled in, and that
enabled Nenya to concentrate on her true love:  the Sueloise museum
within Greyhawk's Guild of Wizardry.  The place had been conceived
and built almost two years ago, in memory and honor of the slain Ged,
Nenya's teacher and mentor.  A success from the start, the museum had
been expanded and re-organized several times since then.  It had taken
Nenya the better part of a year to finally locate, identify, and label
the last of Ged's Suel treasures.  It had been necessary to acquire more
space within the Guild of Wizardry, and finally the entire exhibit was
given a permanent home in its own hall.  This new space was larger than
the previous wing, and only had one entry and exit point.  The city's
finest wizards had labored mightily to ensure the security of the many
displayed items, and the Thieves' Guild had pledged - and given - its
full co-operation as well.
  Donations to the museum had flowed in, allowing all involved to recoup
some of the initial expenses.  Further, sages and wizards from all across
the world regularly flocked to the place to see the unearthed wonders for
themselves.  As the creator and curator of the entire exhibit, Nenya had
achieved instant fame among the ranks of wizards and sages, without ever
really expecting it.
  And then there were other things, such as the shards of the eggshell of
the tarrasque.  That great and terrible beast from the stars had crashed
to Oerth several years ago, and fought many of the land's finest, bravest
adventurers to a standstill before they were able to transport it to a
faraway place.  Nenya had gathered various experts - sages, wizards,
diviners, blacksmiths, and others - to her castle; the group had studied
the broken bits of shell for the better part of a week, testing and
experimenting in all sorts of ways.
  Their conclusions were good:  the shell contained the raw material to
fashion a number of magical shields and suits of armor.  Since Nenya had
owned the entire shell, she was able to sell its fragments to those who
could make use of them, generating yet more money for her and her little
community (and helping to generate all sorts of enchanted pieces of armor
for countless warriors.)

  Even now, the elf and her husband contemplated these and other things
over a fine dinner...

Nenya:  - and with the money we've made, we can pretty much do anything
  we want to.
Deryck:  Or need to.
Nenya:  True.  I was thinking about hiring on a small garrison of troops,
  like you keep talking about.
Deryck:  (nods)  Good.  There may be no real need for them in times like
  these, but things can change in a heartbeat.  Hell, I've heard rumors
  that strange goings-on are afoot at the old temple near Hommlet.
Nenya:  The temple...what did they call it?  Elemental Evil?
Deryck:  That's the one.  Word has it that something foul might be
  stirring in the depths beneath the place.
Nenya:  (wondering if Mongo or Alindyar will be showing up someday to
  recruit her and Deryck for an expedition to that place)  This may need
  looking-into...if not by us, then by someone.
Deryck:  I will look into it.  (he regards his plateful of turkey meat)
  Did you get a chance to delve into that old book of Ged's?
Nenya:  Yes, I've been looking it over.  It's called the Tome of the
  Black Heart.
Deryck:  (frowns)  Doesn't sound good.
Nenya:  It's not.  The basic gist of the book has to do with the
  summoning and control of a demon.
Deryck:  Hmm.  I wonder what Ged was doing with it?
Nenya:  I don't think he ever had a chance to open it - he just claimed
  it as loot from that Maure Castle trip, and then forgot about it in the
  shuffle.
Deryck:  Maybe you could summon the demon and send it to those fools in
  the Greyhawk city council.
Nenya:  (glares at him)
Deryck:  I'm joking.
Nenya:  It's not good to joke about such things.  Even if we are talking
  about those who impede our progress.

  They were referring to the people who were preventing them from
forming their own township.  Rules were rules, after all, and it
was in Greyhawk's best interests to keep all nearby lands firmly
under its own rule.

Deryck:  I can see their point of view, but what it comes down to
  is still the same:  we'd be doing a lot better if we were an
  independent state.
Nenya:  (sighs)  I don't honestly know if I could handle the
  politics.
Deryck:  Maybe Peldor could give you some tips.
Nenya:  He's got his hands full with that tyke.  I doubt he's even
  thought about politics in a long while.
Deryck:  Cute kid, though.
Nenya:  I'll grant you that.



  As the couple finished their meal, they had no idea what was happening
elsewhere...closer than they would have wished, had they known.  Deep in
the highly-protected halls that housed the Suel museum, unnoticed on the
rounds of the solitary watchman, something stirred.  A weird metallic
amulet, inset with twin ruby eyes, depicted a horrible fanged face.  The
caption on this case read "unknown Suel demon" which was actually fairly
close to the truth.
  In its container, the amulet suddenly broke the darkness as its tiny
ruby eyes gleamed, ever so slightly, with a spark of inner light.



  Half a world away, in a large and dim chamber, several beings were
gathered around a large crystal ball.  Most were of normal size and shape,
though one stood twenty feet tall and another's spherical form floated
above the cold floor.  The leader stood closest to the scrying orb, gazing
into it intently.

hooded figure:  (raises a skeletal hand)  The time approaches.
others:  (murmuring)
hooded figure:  Those fools have no idea what they possess.  It is only
  fitting that we use this to destroy them...and their allies.  Soon,
  our time will come...





next:      a look at Belphanior
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
           ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
notes:     As I type this, it's 3 January 2000.  This means that
  not only did the world survive the Y2K hoopla, but I have turned
  30 and I am about to send out episode 601.  I just got back into
  town last night, from Montreal, where I spent the new year.  I
  have to say that I had a blast - never before have I brought in
  the new year counting down in French...in -15 degree weather...
  with snow falling.  It was great.  My previous record for cold
  was a measly 8 Farenheit.  Dropping below zero was no big deal
  at all, though one is best advised to wear ear protection and
  gloves, and also warm socks.

    Okay, on to Adventurers-related stuff.  I just added exactly
  29 new subscribers to the list, all of whom had emailed me over
  the holiday period.  Now, it's time to polish off this commentary
  and send you this episode.  A word on 1999, my off-year:

    The best-laid plans of mice and men...have gone somewhat awry.
  It's actually funny:  when I was writing Adventurers, I wanted to
  write other things; when I was trying to write other things, I
  found that I wanted to write Adventurers.  Why?  I couldn't tell
  you, because I don't know.  There were, however, some definite
  problems I ran into in 1999.

    I think the big problem with Rogue Squad/Omega Team was that I
  needed lots of stories (not just one) to develop the characters,
  to make the readers actually know them and care about them.  Well,
  I never intended to write lots of those stories, just five or six
  at the most.  To make these stories really good, I needed to be
  willing to write an awful lot of them - and I found that I wasn't.

    As for Legacy, I ran into a different kind of problem there:
  in order to write stories set in a totally new world, I needed
  to CREATE that world.  I never thought about this, and after I'd
  written a few of these stories, I found that I had to go back and
  invest hours of work into the building and development of the
  world in which the stories would take place.  Frankly, I find that
  I have no desire to do this (I've been trying for months now, and
  I just can't seem to make it happen.)

    The lesson I learned from the first half of 1999:  never, ever
  undertake something until you know exactly what type and amount of
  effort will be required.

    What DID I accomplish in 1999?  Hmm, good question...here's a
  list:  1)  Wrote two Omega Team adventures.
         2)  Completed and released the Greyspire and Helgate
             accessories.
         3)  Paid for the domain PELDOR.COM and (with the help of David
             Murphy) got the Adventurers web pages up and running there.
         4)  Began (and am still faithful to!) a dietary and workout
             regimen that saw my body fat drop from 21% to 16% in six
             weeks, and stabilize around 12-13% since then.  On top
             of that, I have added mass, strength, and cardiovascular
             conditioning and achieved my ultimate goal:  to be in the
             best shape of my life when I turned 30.  This is no longer
             an experiment, it's a way of life.
         5)  Got my softball team back together and playing in a
             weekly league, last spring.
         6)  Successfully began teaching myself more about routers
             and routing, at work.  My ultimate goal is to take and
             pass Cisco's CCIE exam and market myself for six figures.

    Despite the lack of significant writing in 1999, I'm quite happy
  with myself and my activities during this year.

    So now you're probably wondering, "What's he going to do now?
  He keeps changing his mind...can we count on him to write anything
  he says he'll write?"

    Here's the deal:  I'm going to write what I want, when I want,
  at my own pace, without schedule or deadline.  It'll be at least
  mostly Adventurers, with the possibility of other things depending
  on my mood swings.  I'll send new material out to the Adventurers
  list, and then it will be archived on the usual sites.

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