Chapter #642

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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   +
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Nenya            9th/10th level female elven fighter/wizard           +
+   Date:           2/5/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           evening                                               +
+   Place:          the domain known as Endymion, west of Greyhawk        +
+   Climate:        warm and cozy                                         +
+   "Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat."                     +
+                                                            - unknown    +

                         DCXLII.  Covert Bargain

  At long last, Nenya and Deryck had chosen a name for the community that
Ged had founded and helped through infancy.

Nenya:  Endymion.
Deryck:  As in the cat he used to have?
Nenya:  (nods)
Deryck:  Better than "the Gedlands" I suppose.
Nenya:  Well, that would perhaps look better on a map, but I like Endymion.

  The couple had been busy of late.  Deryck had begun the process of hiring
trained soldiers, in order to establish and maintain a garrison of highly-
trained fighting men in the community.  He'd mostly gone after men with
families, so that these families could move to the area; this had the side
effect of tying the soldiers to the area, making them less likely to move
on later and more likely to fight harder if the need ever arose.  It was a
brutally honest but very practical idea.
  As this garrison would be for the town itself, rather than the castle,
Deryck was having a guardhouse built at the far end of town, furthest from
the castle's walls.
  There had been some problems at the Suel exhibit, in Greyhawk's Guild of
Wizardry.  An attempted break-in had been discovered, the would-be thief
apparently having fled after realizing that the hall's defenses were well
beyond his or her capabilities.  Still, the very idea that someone would
make the attempt was bothersome - it meant that somebody wasn't playing by
the rules set down by the Thieves' Guild.  Peldor had sworn a swift and
harsh punishment for the culprit, if they ever found one, but this didn't
make Nenya much more comfortable.
  Perhaps related to this incident was another, _within_ the museum:  two
display cases had been shattered, but their contents undisturbed.  This
made no sense whatsoever, as the guards who had been on duty were found to
be telling the complete truth.  Nobody had gone past them that night, and
they hadn't been anywhere near the broken cases until actually discovering
the vandalism.  This implied some mighty magic, and extra guards had been
assigned to the museum - but there had been no further incidents.  However,
several guards had reported hearing faint keening sounds - moans and howls -
from somewhere within the museum.  Again, the best efforts were made to
learn if there was something to these claims...but without success.  Nenya
had concluded that someone very powerful was toying with them, and she was
in the process of coming up with countermeasures.

  However, they had yet another bit of pressing business to worry about;
they were discussing it even now, over a hot and tasty supper.

Nenya:  -and the Oligarchy, for some reason, thinks I'm qualified to lead
  an expedition in to take a look.
Deryck:  Why?  I mean, aside from the fact that you're one hell of a mage
  and you have experience in dungeons...but a lot of people in this area
  can claim at least one of those qualifications.
Nenya:  I think it has to do with my knowledge of all things Suel.  I _am_
  somewhat of the leading expert in the field.
Deryck:  Is the temple a Suel temple?
Nenya:, I don't think so.
Deryck:  Then why get your help?
Nenya:  I think they think that whatever's going on inside has something
  to do with Suel gods or worshippers or something.  I really don't know,
  as they didn't share every detail with me.
Deryck:  Hmm.  I'm not sure if I'm up for a bit of dungeon-delving right
  now - not with all of this garrison business.  This temple of elemental
  evil, near's supposed to be a vast maze which, in its heyday,
  contained all sorts of monsters.  Even if there was no fighting to be
  done, an expedition there could take weeks.  I really don't want to get
  involved in such an adventure.
Nenya:  Oh, me neither.  I have neither the time nor the inclination.  Why
  people would want to risk life and limb far beneath the surface of the
  world, on a regular basis, is beyond me.
Deryck:  What can we do, then?  It sounds like they want you involved.
Nenya:  I've already talked to Derider and Peldor about this, and we came
  up with an idea:  I'll serve only in an advisory capacity.
Deryck:  (cracking his knuckles)  Hmm.  But who will you advise?  They'll
  need a team of adventurers...someone who can go in there and have a look,
  get the job done.
Nenya:  Exactly.  And the Oligarchy doesn't want their involvement in this
  to be direct, or even generally-known.  That's why we've worked out a
Deryck:  Deal?  What kind of deal?
Nenya:  Well...we're getting a large chunk of land from Greyhawk - all of
  that grassland between the river and the ruined mill.
Deryck:  Holy...that's a lot of land!
Nenya:  (smiles)  Just about enough to house about fifty garrison soldiers
  and their families, I'd say.
Deryck:  Excellent!  (he frowns)  Whoa, wait a moment.  What do _we_ have
  to do in return?
Nenya:  Put together a small force to delve into the old temple by Hommlet,
  just to see if anything's amiss in its depths.
Deryck:  Oh.
Nenya:  I was hoping you could handle're a lot better with people
  than I am.
Deryck:  (rubbing the stubble on his chin)  Put together an adventuring
  party, eh?  I suppose it's better than going down there ourselves.
Nenya:  Or leading a party down there.  There should be plenty of willing
  and able adventurers in Greyhawk.
Deryck:  (nods)  It's just a matter of finding them.  I suppose we can set
  the salaries for this job.
Nenya:  And the terms.  I don't mind letting them have any treasure they
  might find, but we need to be able to examine such treasure first.  If,
  that is, they find anything.
Deryck:  I'm guessing they will.  People wouldn't think there was something
  going on in that foul place unless there was.  They should have leveled
  it, all those years ago.
Nenya:  Or filled it with oil and set it off like a fireball.
Deryck:  Even better.
Nenya:  (sighs)  But they didn't.  Nobody ever does - they just kill all
  of the monsters and then figure everything's okay.  When often, it's not.
Deryck:  Well, then.  I'll need a few days to assemble a group.  It will
  be important to consider several things:  experience, disposition, a wide
  variety of skills, capability for teamwork.  After all, it wouldn't do to
  have them all start bickering in the middle of some dangerous place.
Nenya:  Like we've never seen that happen before.
Deryck:  Mmm, true.
Nenya:  It's your call.  You can pick and choose who you want - I trust
  your judgement.  I'll deal with the Greyhawk officials on this one, and
  you can be free to deal with the adventuring party.  Easier on both of
  us that way.
Deryck:  Agreed.  And this is a good deal you've worked out.
Nenya:  (smiles)  Thank Peldor - it was his brainchild.
Deryck:  That figures.

  With that, they finished their meal and made ready to retire for the
evening.  Tomorrow would be a busy day, with both of them riding to the
Free City.  Nenya would meet with Peldor and perhaps others, to update
them on the situation.  Deryck's job would be to find, select, and recruit
a suitable party for the Hommlet expedition.

next:      the good, the bad, and the ugly
released:  5/25/00
notes:     It's kind of interesting...after all these years and adventures,
  finally it's our heroes doing the hiring and organization.  Another good
  idea I've gotten from fans is to have one or more of the main adventurers
  get summoned by some lower-level party's spell, say, a spell of summoning
  that they cast while in dire straits deep in some dungeon.  Imagine:  one
  moment you're sitting there having a drink in a bar with your buddies,
  and the next you're in the ninth level of a dungeon, having appeared as
  the result of some kid's summoning spell.  Sheesh.
    Anyway, we'll meet the hired help next episode.

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