Chapter #643

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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:           2/6/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the Free City of Greyhawk                             +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "Blimey!  They're filthy!"                                            +
+   "They may be, but they sure do mean well."                            +
+                                             - from _The Dirty Dozen_    +

                        DCXLIII.  Motley Crew

  Unofficially assigned to help investigate the goings-on at Hommlet and
the temple nearby, Deryck and Nenya have chosen to let others do the
actual dungeon-delving...

Nenya:  (shaking her head as she surveys the motley crew assembled before
  her)  Deryck...
Deryck:  (shrugs)  I was going for impact first, style second.

  The five individuals whom Deryck had found sat at a chipped, muchly-worn
table in one of the city's seedier taverns.  Deryck had arranged for them
to have a hearty lunch, mainly to keep them in one place so he could show
Nenya his final choices.

Nenya:  They look like they know each other.
Deryck:  Aye, they do.  They've been traveling together for a while, from
  what I've gathered.  Then again, I didn't ask too many questions.
Nenya:  I'm not surprised.
Deryck:  Ah, they've spotted us.  Come over and meet them.
Nenya:  (rolls her eyes)

  They walked over, drawing stares from some of the five at the table,
while others ignored them.

gnome:  Peyton Farquhar, ma'am, at your service.

  The gnome looked to be a hair over three feet tall, and while far from
old, he was also far from young.  Grey hair cascaded down the back of his
head, and he had a thick goatee of the same color.  Peyton was fairly
well-dressed, but the clothes were worn and somewhat tattered, giving the
impression of one who knew social graces and style but didn't always care.
A notched shortsword hung from the gnome's belt, and one end of a shortbow
jutted from his pack.

Deryck:  Peyton is a thief-
Peyton:  Rogue, as my dear old uncle used to say.  A rogue, a scout,
  and the unofficial leader of this merry little band.
Nenya:  I...see.
thing sitting next to Peyton:  Urp.
Nenya:  (recoils)
Peyton:  Oh, don't mind him.  He's just hungry.  The name's Adolphus
Nenya:  Quite an articulate name for a...a...(she looks at Deryck
Deryck:  Adolphus has some ogrish blood in him, dear.
Nenya:  Oh.

  There were two defining features to Adolphus:  he was huge, and he was
butt-ugly.  Nenya guessed his height to be somewhere between seven and
eight feet, and he was thickly muscled.  As for the other aspect, well...
he had stringy, greasy brown hair and pallid skin that was unwashed and
filthy.  It was impossible to determine his age.  There hung over the table
a nasty stench which Nenya was fairly sure emanated from the ogre-kin.
Disgusting as he might be, though, Adolphus also looked like a powerful
fighter.  When put into play by those thick, powerful arms, the military
pick that leaned against the wall behind him appeared capable of punching
a hole in a boulder.  Adolphus was the sort of fellow who caused crowds
to part as he walked.

Adolphus:  (belches, loudly enough to draw stares from other tables)
Peyton:  You must forgive Adolphus - he lacks the social graces.  The next
  member of our band is-
hooded one:  (speaks in a hushed but strong voice)  I am Sylus Blackheart.

  Nenya had spent enough time around Alindyar and Lyra to be able to
recognize a dark elf, even one who was cloaked and hooded.  Sylus, like
Adolphus Delphi, appeared to be a warrior; the longsword that hung easily
at his side was of superb craftsmanship, perhaps magical.  Even sitting
there eating his lunch, the cloaked drow moved with a grace and fluidity
of motion that suggested a skilled combatant.  The dark elf didn't say
another word, returning to his meal.

  The fourth adventurer had so far ignored the newcomers.  A tall, gangly
human of about thirty years, he had the look of a wizard.  He was also
the opposite of Sylus as far as grace; even as Nenya watched, the wizard
dropped his spoon onto the table, where it bounced once before falling
over the edge.

wizard:  Hey-
Sylus:  (catches the spoon in midair)  Careful, lest you end up eating
  with your hands.
wizard:  (takes the spoon back from the dark elf)  Thanks.
Sylus:  (simply nods, slightly)
Peyton:  This skinny chap is Wembly, our wizard.
Wembly:  (finally notices Nenya and Deryck)  Oh, hi.  Nice to meet you.
Nenya:  (to Deryck)  Well, _he_ seems normal enough.
Deryck:  I assume nothing, but they've kept him in their group, so he
  must possess some measure of power.
Peyton:  He possesses some power, alright.
Nenya:  (surprised, for she had spoken in barely a whisper)
Peyton:  (spreads his hands, by way of explanation)  I read lips.
Nenya:  Oh.
Deryck:  That fellow next to Wembly there is Rogar.
Rogar:  (waves casually as he bites into a hunk of meat, the juices
  running into his beard)

  Rogar was a large bear of a man - tall, stout, wild-looking, and hairy.
His beard was thick and matted, as was his hair; both were dark brown in
color.  Rogar wore the robes of a priest, but his vestments were marred
with what looked like countless food and drink stains.  He appeared to be
in his late thirties or early forties, but it was hard to tell with the
thick beard covering most of his face.  A thick, gnarled war-club rested
on the floor next to his chair.

Peyton:  Rogar is what you might call a war-priest.  He has lain out many
  infidels with his club there.
Rogar:  (drains his goblet in one mighty gulp)  More wine!
Peyton:  And Rogar enjoys life to the fullest.
Nenya:  Well, good enough.  Has Deryck explained everything to you?
Peyton:  (nods)  He has.
Deryck:  Remember, the terms are as we discussed.  We've stocked you with
  supplies already, and there will be the set payment once you've explored
  the temple.
Peyton:  Don't forget the part about how we get to keep anything we find
  in there.
Deryck:  Of course not.  As I said already, we may need to examine certain
  items, depending on what you find, but you will get to keep everything.
Peyton:  Good.
Deryck:  I've given you a map to Hommlet, which is about a weeks' ride to
  the west.  Let's plan on meeting there in a month's time, to discuss
  your progress.
Peyton:  It's a deal.
Nenya:  (to Deryck)  Are we going to need to put them up in a tavern for
  another night?
Peyton:  No need.  We have all of our belongings here with us now, except
  the horses, which are stabled near the city gate, just down the street.
  We'll be on our way in no time.

  Shortly, they had all gathered outside.  Moments later, the five hired
adventurers had taken their leave of Nenya and Deryck, headed for the
nearby stable and then the city gate...

Wembly:  Well, goodbye Greyhawk.
Adolphus:  (looking around, confused)
Rogar:  (munching on a leg of lamb he brought with him from the tavern)
Sylus:  I did not care for this place anyway.  Too many rules.
Peyton:  Rules, my friend, are made to be broken.

  Behind them, outside the tavern, Deryck and Nenya watched the strange
group leave.

Nenya:  Ged wouldn't have-
Deryck:  I'm not him.  I'm nobody but me.
Nenya:  (flinches)
Deryck:  (softly)  I didn't mean it that way.  It's just that...well,
  they wanted this mission done, and I picked those I felt to be the
  best for the job.  Well, the best available for the job.
Nenya:  It's okay.  I trust your judgement.
Deryck:  I'm sure everything will work out just fine.

next:      on their way
released:  5/29/00
notes:     There's a backstory to these five misadventurers, but it's not
  time to tell it yet.  Let's see how they do in the dungeons over the
  next few episodes.

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