Chapter #756

previous chapter (#755)                                                                  next chapter (#757)

                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      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       +
+   1991-2001 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          rogue imp                                             +
+   Peyton          gnome thief                                           +
+   Rogar           human priest of Olidammara                            +
+   Sylus           dark elf warrior/thief                                +
+   Wembly          human wizard                                          +
+   Date:           4/24/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          the dismal, reeking depths of the Troll Fens          +
+   Climate:        unpleasantly warm and humid                           +
+   "Real peace is not just the absence of conflict but the presence      +
+    of justice."                                                         +
+                                                 - from _Air Force One_  +

                  DCCLVI.  Six for Harshaak

  After being taken (and left) in the marshes to the south of Harshaak
and Xusia's stronghold, Deryck's hired scouting party must make their
way to that evil town and gather information.

Sylus:  What a wretched place this is.
Rogar:  Foul-smelling...sweat-soaked...bug-infested...
Adolphus:  (looks around, grinning)
Wembly:  Maybe we could just go back-
Peyton:  Not an option, kids.  Remember, it's like my dear old uncle
  always used to say:  we don't have to like it, we just have to do it.
Damien:  (watches as a large, black bug attempts to bite him)
bug:  (unable to pierce the imp's red skin, it buzzes in annoyance)
Damien:  (grabs the insect suddenly, regarding it critically before
  popping it into his mouth)
Wembly:  Ugh.
Adolphus:  Adolphus eat bugs too.  Grubs under trees, and-
Peyton:  Let's get moving.  We've got a good ways to go, and we'll need
  to make good time if we're to arrive ahead of dusk.
Sylus:  I doubt that this is a good place to be at night.
Wembly:  That, I'm sure of.
Rogar:  (drains a flagon of ale, belching loudly and wiping his mouth
  with his forearm)  Off we go!  (he takes a few steps forward, then
  stops)  Which way are we going?
Peyton:  (eyeing the sun overhead, through the canopy of gnarled tree-
  branches and sickly-looking leaves)  Northeast.

  The group was, if anything, stronger and more confident than they'd
been two months ago in the Hommlett area.  They'd gained some useful
magical items as well:  Peyton had a quiver of fine enchanted crossbow
bolts, and Sylus now wore a ring that shielded his mind from different
sorts of invasive spells.  Wembly's gain had been a fire-wand, an item
that greatly increased his destructive power and in fact was causing
the normally-meek wizard to act with more bravado in combat situations.
Rogar had come out of the adventure with a prize of great value to him:
a flagon that always contained wine, no matter how much he drank.  As
for Adolphus, he'd lost his gigantic military pick to a green jelly-like
monster, but fortunately the party had found an equally-giant magical
battleaxe for him.  Even Damien had gotten something:  a ring that made
him invisible if he so desired.
  Of course, none of these items, wondrous in particular situations,
was much use when it came to slogging through the mud...

Wembly:  Too bad we don't have horses to ride.  I'm soaked to the knees.
Peyton:  Horses can't move in terrain like this.  Besides, it's just
Adolphus:  Leeches.
Wembly:  (looks sickened)  Leeches?!?
Adolphus:  Them good eating.
Damien:  (flying along as the others have to walk)  Leeches...hahahah-
Sylus:  (to Peyton)  What is the nature of this outing?
Peyton:  Scouting.  After our success in that dungeon by Nulb, Deryck
  saw fit to find another mission for us.
Sylus:  Yes, but why us?  He and his wife and whoever else should be
  able to go to this town and get the lay of the land.  I see no real
  cause for them to send us.
Peyton:  I've been thinking about that myself.
Sylus:  Deryck gave no reasons?
Peyton:  Nope.  My guess is that he and his can't go where we're going
  because they don't want to be seen there.  It could be that someone in
  a position of power in this town knows them...but a better explanation
  would be that this place is really rough, nasty...and they wouldn't
  fit in at all.  Hell, some of those people that Deryck keeps around
  him would stick out like a sore thumb.
Sylus:  In a rough, hostile town.
Peyton: a rough, hostile town.
Sylus:  We are being used.
Peyton:  We're also getting paid a thousand coins of gold apiece for a
  few days of real travel time or expenses.  Some of us could
  use that money.
Sylus:  This would not be a problem if you chose not to gamble...or Rogar
  chose not to drink and wench...or Adolphus had no need to eat.
Peyton:  Or Wembly didn't have to buy magical components and supplies,
  or Damien...hmm.  (he regards the dark elf)  What did you do with YOUR
  loot from the dungeon by Nulb, anyway?
Sylus:  That is my business.

  Actually, the drow warrior had converted his share of the treasure,
as well as his previous fee from Deryck, into several small gems of
high quality.  He preferred to carry as little weight as possible, and
changing his coinage in for gemstones was something he'd been doing for
a long time.

Peyton:  Anyway...yeah, it's not the most glamorous mission in the world,
  but they always get guys like us for jobs like this.
Sylus:  I just get the feeling that we are being used.
Peyton:  Everyone uses everyone else - it's just a matter of whether
  either party admits it or not.
Rogar:  For a thousand gold pieces, I'll go hang around a wild town for
  a while.
Damien:  Second that.
Peyton:  Wembly, you have the token?
Wembly:  (nods)  When we leave, all I have to do is cast a simple little
  incantation on it, which will activate it and bring Nenya shortly.
Sylus:  And then what?
Wembly:  Then we get to go back with her, I guess, and they do whatever
  it is they're going to do that they needed scouting for in the first
Sylus:  Good enough.

  Onward they marched, a most unpleasant journey if there ever was one.
They were actually in the very northernmost reaches of the Troll Fens,
as evidenced by their emergence from the swamplands around midday.  The
wet, root-filled marsh gave way to muddy but relatively flat ground
which was much easier to traverse.

Wembly:  Whew!  Thank the-

  The ground directly ahead of the party exploded in a spray of mud and
slime, as a gigantic troll emerged from hiding and attacked.

Sylus:  (rolls to one side, then stands in a fighting crouch, his blade
  out in an instant)
Adolphus:  Who?!?  (he hefts his axe and charges, meeting the foe head-

  Trolls were generally bigger than ogres, and this one was no exception,
but the troll had never seen an ogre or ogre-kin quite as aggressive as
Adolphus.  The great battleaxe, gleaming in spots through the swamp-muck
that had accumulated on it this morning, bit deeply into the troll's
right shoulder.

troll:  GRAAARGH!
Adolphus:  Adolphus show you!  (he rips the axe-head from the thing's
troll:  RRAARGH!  (it pummels the half-ogre with its good arm, sending
  him reeling)
Sylus:  (darts in, stabbing the monster in one knee)
troll:  AARGH!  (it swings at the dark elf, missing him by inches as he
  leaps back)
Peyton:  (aims his crossbow and squeezes the trigger, sending a bolt into
  the troll's chest)
Damien:  Boy, is he pissed off!  (he flies in circles over the troll's
troll:  (swats at this tiny flying foe who's out of reach)  RAARGH!
Wembly:  Enough.  (he points his fire-wand at the foe)

  A sheet of searing flames leapt forth and covered the troll; the smell
of burning flesh was sickening.

Peyton:  (hurls an oil-flask, his aim perfect)
troll:  (muchly on fire now)  RAAARGH!

  The big monster lumbered around, blazing, until finally it fell face-
down in a pool of muddy water, causing a great cloud of vapor to spread.

Adolphus:  (lumbers over, swinging his axe and severing the monster's
  head)  Hah!
Peyton:  It'll take more than that, but a fire would attract attention.
  Adolphus, cut off his arms and legs and throw them to the four winds.
Adolphus:  (not entirely sure what the four winds are, he begins obeying
  the first part of the instructions)
Wembly:  Ugh.
Peyton:  As soon as he's done, we'll be on our way and long gone before
  that troll pieces himself together.

  Onward they went, heading north toward the mountains that loomed over
everything.  It wasn't long before they could make out two tall, wide
towers, cut from the very rock of the mountain.  These twin towers, in
turn, loomed over a large town at the mountain's base.

Peyton:  Bingo.

next:      they're going in
released:  8/13/01
notes:     At the request of one of my readers, when we come back to
  characters who have been away for a while, I will try to inform you
  about the last time/place/plotline we saw them in.  In this case, it
  was 2/17/579 C.Y. near Nulb as these six completed their raid of the
  uppermost level of the Hommlett dungeons.  It has been implied by me
  (and is thus probably true) that they went on to clean out the levels
  below, getting riches and experience in the process.  And now, for a
  second dangerous mission, Deryck has chosen to use them again.

previous chapter (#755)                                                                  next chapter (#757)