Chapter #795

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
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                               +           +
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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       +
+   1991-2001 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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Deryck          11th level half-elven ranger                          +
+   Nenya           9th/10th level female grey elven warrior/wizard       +
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+   Date:           7/2/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           late afternoon                                        +
+   Place:          the Gedlands, near the Free City of Greyhawk          +
+   Climate:        warm                                                  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."                 +
+                                                           - Alan Kay    +
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               DCCXCV.  Post-Traumatic Stress Reorder





  Of all those adventurers who had been present for the great battle at
the fortress of the Nine, Deryck and Nenya had perhaps gained the most
while being the least pleased with that day's events.
  First and foremost, there was the matter of Nenya perishing and then
having to be resurrected.  There had been significant risk involved in
this endeavor, and Deryck had been worried sick, to the point of being
nonfunctional, every minute and hour and day until the attempt had been
made.  This powerful magic came as a courtesy of the Circle of Eight,
who owed the champions at least that much.  The eight magi and archmagi
had contacts at the highest levels of theological power, and had pulled
all the necessary strings or called in all the necessary favors.
  Still, it had been touch-and-go, for not only was Nenya an elf and
therefore more difficult to bring back from the dead, but she had just
undergone a similar process recently, which hurt her chances this time.
Deryck hadn't left her side for two days leading up to the resurrection
attempt, and that time had been a tough one for him.  The gods, as well
as fate, had been kind this time, however:  Nenya lived once more, at
the conclusion of the ceremony and magic.  She had been bedridden for
nearly a week this time, though, weak and sometimes incoherent.
  Deryck had come to a conclusion during this long, painful time, and
when Nenya was up and about, he had confronted her privately.  He'd had
the words all planned out, organized; that flew to the winds, as he was
overcome with emotion while he spoke...

  Deryck:  I have something to ask of you, and it will be perhaps the
    greatest thing I will ever ask you for.
  Nenya:  (concerned)  What is it?
  Deryck:  I've never been one to mince words, so here it is:  the last
    weeks were the hardest of my life.  Seeing you there, slain, not
    knowing if they would be able to bring you back...it damn near was
    the end of me.  Would have been, if you'd remained dead.
  Nenya:  Oh...
  Deryck:  We've touched on this before, to some extent, but it's on my
    mind now more than ever.  You've got a lifespan of milennia, while
    mine will be over a century, with luck.  We haven't been wasting our
    time together...but in a way, we have.
  Nenya:  What are you saying?
  Deryck:  Two things.  First, can we please stop the traveling and the
    adventuring, all those things that put us at risk of death, or worse?
    We have worked hard to make a life here, and these lands need us, our
    tending and guidance.  Let others fight the battles that determine
    the fates of other lands.  These are _our_ lands, and if we must ever
    fight, let it be for _these_ lands, not someone else's.
  Nenya:  I...I...yes, of course.  Of course!  (she all but leaps into
    his arms)  I'm sorry...so sorry...
  Deryck:  (hugs her tight)
  Nenya:  I had these same thoughts, myself, if you must know.
  Deryck:  You did?
  Nenya:  (nods, tears running down her cheeks)  It's not easy dying and
    then being brought back.
  Deryck:  Well, it does beat the alternative.
  Nenya:  Still, I don't ever want it to happen again.
  Deryck:  Me either.
  Nenya:  I'm glad you said something before I had to...I wasn't sure
    how to phrase it, even though I knew you'd agree.
  Deryck:  Of course.
  Nenya:  Er...you said there were two things.  What is the second?
  Deryck:  Let us not waste any more time in the building of our family.
    I want to play with my children while I am still young and hearty.
  Nenya:  (overcome by emotion)  Yes...yes!  Of course!
  Deryck:  (muchly pleased that his wife's thoughts run along the same
    lines as his own)
  Nenya:  It's not like we haven't been trying...
  Deryck:  True, but things will be easier once we're settled in here,
    not traveling all the time.
  Nenya:  Or fighting great evils.

  That had been two months ago, and they had made good on their word to
each other.  When the Circle of Eight sent a couple of its number there
to thank them, they had quietly accepted the thanks, and the stated
favors, and bid the magi farewell, refusing to get involved further.
When Mongo had stopped by on his way out of Greyhawk, talking about
going to find some evildoers to fight, they had wished him good luck.
  When Peldor and Tanya came to visit, along with their young daughter,
Nenya and Deryck had told them of their resolution and decision...

  Tanya:  Well, it's about time!
  Nenya:  What do you mean?
  Tanya:  We came to the same conclusions years ago, and stopped our
    own adventuring.  It's enough that he still runs the guild, and we
    both still run the inn, but at least we don't encounter demonlords
    and such.
  Peldor:  Nope.
  Nenya:  Are you happy?
  Tanya:  (glances at her daughter, who is busy trying to climb one of
    the castle's curtains and smiles warmly)  You have to ask?

  Of course, Deryck (and Nenya, for that matter) were fully aware that
the only way to secure peace was by preparing for war, so they used the
money gained from their share of the fortress' riches to begin work on
extra battlements, garrison houses, and weapons.  The thing that made
Deryck's defense force unique was that he interacted with every one of
the soldiers on a regular basis.  This wasn't just a good job for them,
but a home; many of them had started families and lived within the
Gedlands.  These men (and a few women) were loyal, and they were like
family, to each other as well as to Deryck and Nenya.  What it all came
down to was that, should the worst happen, the people of their lands
stood ready to defend themselves.

  There was also the matter of rewarding a small group of people who
had shown exceptional courage in the battle of Harshaak...

  Peyton Farquhar:  We already got medals-
  Deryck:  I know, and they were well-deserved.  I'm offering you
    something more:  regular employment.
  Sylus:  That would be a new twist.
  Wembly:  And a steady income.
  Rogar:  That could come in handy...money for food and drink.
  Adolphus Delphi:  Me hungry.
  Peyton:  What are the exact terms of this employment?
  Deryck:  Well, it hasn't escaped me that you people don't seem to
    care for a lot of rules and regulations.  What I'm offering might
    well be perfect for you:  a regularly, weekly salary, as well as
    a place to stay, here in these lands.  In return, you would do
    all sorts of work for me-
  Peyton:  Not farming, I hope.  As my dear old uncle used to say, the
    life of a sodbuster is a dry one indeed.  If all you ever dig for
    is dirt, then you won't ever turn up anything but dirt.
  Deryck:  No, no.  No farming.  It would be mostly short-range trips
    to nearby places...sometimes to scout, sometimes to deliver or pick
    things up.  Of course, if our lands were attacked, the job would
    immediately take on a fighting aspect.
  Sylus:  Naturally.
  Deryck:  Anyhow, this offer is nothing more than my honest attempt
    to reward you five for a job well done.
  Peyton:  I think you're forgetting one thing.
  Deryck:  Eh?
  Peyton:  There are six of us.  Where we go, Damien goes.
  Deryck:  Is this the little demonoid I keep hearing about?
  Peyton:  It is.
  Deryck:  (sighs)  Six you are - I shall not try to break up such a
    good, tightly-knit team.  This...Damien is offered the same terms
    as the rest of you.
  Peyton:  (nods)  We'll need some time to think about it.
  Deryck:  Of course.  No hurry at all, just let me know.

  The ranger still didn't have an answer, but that was fine - he really
wasn't in any hurry.  It had been a stroke of genius, the idea of hiring
such a group on permanent retainer, to send on missions as needed, even
if the nature of those missions varied each time.  Peyton's team somehow
seemed to get the job done every time, whatever it was, and besides that
they had given a good account of themselves at the great battle.  They
surely deserved a reward, and as far as Deryck was concerned, regular
and reliable work was the least he could offer them.

  In the meantime, as he learned suddenly, there were other things to
think about...

Nenya:  (rushes in, out of breath)  Finally!
Deryck:  What?
Nenya:  I am with child!





next:      Peldor and friends/family
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
released:  1/7/02
notes:     I am sure that this episode will disappoint, and perhaps even
  anger, some reader who wants to see the party go up against Orcus and
  win.  So be it.
    As with the "what about Xusia's loot?" question, a lot of you have
  been asking "now when did the drow, etc. get resurrected?"  I did this
  all off-screen.  Sorry about the confusion.

    Here are two treats for you:

    Fortress of the Nine:  http://www.peldor.com/modules/fort9/

    13 Blades of Myth:  http://www.peldor.com/misc/swords/

  DISCLAIMER:  The Fortress has two problems you will see.  The first
    is that its maps and keys were designed before I wrote the stories
    that took place there, and in my writing I took certain liberties.
    There WILL be differences in what you read and what you see now!
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