Chapter #799

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                                   +   +
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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       +
+   1991-2001 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   +
+   Rob             17th level human priest of Trithereon                 +
+   Date:           9/25/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          Rob's domain, west of Niole Dra, capital of Keoland   +
+   Climate:        pleasant                                              +
+   "Sanity is a madness put to good uses."                               +
+                                                   - George Santayana    +

                     DCCXCIX.  One Man's Dream

  In the five months since the great battle at the fortress of the Nine,
Rob had been perhaps the busiest of all the adventurers.  Besides his
key role in the final battle with the lich and allies, Rob had been one
of those who delved back into the fortress afterward, to make sure that
it held no secrets - or foes - of significance.  While that task had
been only partially completed, at best, Rob had then been instrumental
in helping and healing the wounded, both those he knew personally and
others from the armies.
  Xusia was dead - slain utterly, and subsequently found to have no
hidden bodies, contingencies, or the like.  Rob, as well as several
other powerful high priests and archmagi, had used every spell and
device at their disposal to ensure that Xusia would not be back to
haunt them.  Most of the lich's more powerful allies were also slain,
though a few had escaped; the word was out, and everything that could
be done to identify and locate those individuals had been and was still
being done.  The evil magic items from the fortress had been destroyed;
the other magic items, as well as the great amount of riches found in
those dungeons, had been split up among the participating forces and
certain key figures.
  Rob hadn't returned to Keoland and his home for nearly three weeks
after the battle.  He was still recovering his strength, for he had
lost a significant amount of his own life force thanks to Xusia's dark
magicks.  It had taken a mighty spell of restoration from St. Wilhelm
to bring Rob back up to his full strength.

  But all of that was long since past, and almost immediately upon his
return home, Rob had set into motion the building of his dream:  a huge
temple, surrounded by carefully-placed trees, bushes, and grass.  Of
course, barring druidic assistance, such a place would take perhaps a
decade to fully blossom (thanks to the tree aspect, as they tended to
take a long time to grow.)  However, the important thing was to plant
the trees now, then start building the temple complex.
  Rob had spent a week drawing up plan after plan for the layout of
this religious mecca; he was, after all, possessed of significant
engineering skills.  He'd finally compromised, merging three or four
of his designs into something that he really liked.  The centerpiece
of the entire thing would be a gigantic cathedral, flanked by several
smaller attached buildings.  Except for the paths leading into this
complex, which would be of finely-worked stone, the entire surrounding
area would be healthy, green grass - except for the hedges that would
butt up against all of the buildings' exterior walls.  The paths of
stone were to be flanked on both sides by rows of trees; the main path
was to be curtained by strong, majestic trees, while the smaller paths
would be lined with lush, fruit-bearing ones.  The whole place would
then be ringed by a ten-foot wall, its purpose decorative rather than
  From high up in the sky, looking down on all of this, the appearance
of the entire complex would be that of Trithereon's symbol (the rune of
pursuit) upon by a rich green background, all within a perfect circle.

  This was Rob's vision, in fact inspired by a dream he'd had several
months ago.  Now, ironically thanks to his share of the spoils from the
evil fortress, he felt financially capable of beginning this great and
ambitious project.  He did not want to rely on, or ask for, donations
from Trithereon's followers to make this happen - that seemed foolish
as well as unfair to Rob.  No, though Trithereon would certainly give
the temple his blessing, it would be built solely on Rob's initiative
and resources.
  It was perhaps the priest's life's work, and would certainly one of
the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by representatives of any
religion in the lands.  The sheer amount of material and labor needed
to complete this undertaking was legendary.  Of course, it also brought
money to a great many people and boosted the local economy.  To be sure,
the rulers of Niole Dra, capital of Keoland, had always given Rob much
leeway.  He was, after all, a high priest of a god of Good, right there
in their own backyard.  Such people could and did prove beneficial to
have around.  Rob healed the sick, gave to the poor, and generally was
a benevolent neighbor.  He already owned enough land so that the huge
temple he was building wouldn't closely border anyone else's territory.
Those in power - locally and in Keoland as a whole - knew that having
a great temple could only be a good thing.

  The work had begun months ago:  the marking and clearing of land, the
tilling of soil and planting of trees, the pouring of foundations...the
wagonfuls of stone and mortar and beams...the hundreds of laborers with
their tools...and much more.  Tents by the scores now decorated Rob's
land, as temporary camps were set up by these workers.  They labored by
day, beginning shortly after dawn and ending at dusk, with a lunch break
and several shorter breaks during the day.  These men were being paid a
wage commensurate with such working hours, and they were being fed for
free, and fed well too.  These mens' skills varied widely:  there were
diggers, stonemasons, carpenters, gardeners, and more.  Each of these
had their own tasks with their own schedule for completion; overall, the
project required dozens of foremen and overseers.

  Much time, energy, and sweat had been poured into the construction in
those months, and it had finally begun to show:  the main cathedral had
its foundation and the skeleton of the ground floor.  Rob didn't expect
the whole project to happen fast - indeed, patience was a very important
virtue right now.  Patience, and faith...and the vision, the dream.

  Rob intended to see this dream come true.

next:      at long last...episode 800
released:  1/8/02
notes:     Quite some time ago, I set for myself the goal of writing and
  releasing my 800th episode before 2002.  It was really tough to do what
  was necessary to achieve this goal for most of 2001, but right at the
  end I made a good go at it; at the end of November, I was in the 770s.
  Now it's December 31 and I am finishing up 798, 799, and 800.  In a
  purely technical sense, I _did_ finish writing in 2001.  I didn't get
  to release them all before the new year due to an amalgam of problems,
  including but not limited to:  network problems at my main job which
  prevented me from uploading new episodes in a timely fashion, not one
  but TWO floppy disks that suddenly became unreadable and cost me time
  and effort, and working some unexpected overtime at my second job.
    Nevertheless, December 2001 saw an accelerated release rate that was
  indicative of my strongest burst of writing in years.  If only I had
  possessed some of that drive in November, or October, the overall pace
  of the released episodes might have been more orderly.  But oh well.
  It could have been worse.  Probably should have.  Only my unstoppable
  drive to hit 800 ensured that I made it at all.
  They got written and you got to read them, which is what's important.
    My final notes, for whatever they're worth, will appear at the end
  of the next episode.

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