Chapter 42

previous chapter (#41)                  next chapter (#43)

          Navero, male human cleric, 5th level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 5th level
          Razuli, male human fighter, 5th level
          Kory, male elf bard, 4th level
          Topash, male elf druid, 4th level
          Meth, male ? thief, 3rd level

The next morning, our heroes apathetically saddled up their horses and
started out down the road again. The day was uneventful, though we did
spot a pack of wolves chasing a rabbit in the distance.  They looked
even scruffier than we did.  As evening fell, we reached a fork in the
road, with an old-looking barn up on a nearby hill.

Topash: (Picks up fork and puts it in his belt pouch.) "You never know
     when you'll need one."

Dania: "Oh, real cute."

Navero: "Let's look in the barn.  I think it might be a nice place to
     have dinner and sleep."

Razuli: "I dunno.  It's probably haunted.  How much further could we
     get before it gets dark?"

Kory: "Oh... I'd say a good bow shot.  You guys go look in the barn."

Razuli: "Where you going?"

Kory: "Nature calls.  See ya!"

Kortul: (Rides up and bangs barn door with sword.  It falls off.)

Dania: (Looks inside) "Jeezus, what hit this place?  It looks worse
     than my old master's dining hall."

Topash: "Time, I expect.  The smell bothers me, though."

Navero: "I think it would be very nice if we put that beam over there
     back in the roof, and cleaned off the --"

Dania: "Nav, that's too much like work.  We're just looking for a good
     place to sleep, ok?  Besides, if we put a fire in here, the whole
     place would probably go up."

Navero: "But the wood is wet from the snow.  And it won't snow on us
     in here, either.  I think this would be a very nice place to

Razuli: "Sure!  Just ask the rats to scoot over, and watch out for the
     poisonous spiders.  Why don't we just go down the road until we
     find a nice rest stop, ok?"

Meth: (Goes off into the fields to look at the local flora.)

Topash: "Actually, I had thought we might be able to use this as a
     base camp.  After we visit the temple, this might be a very good
     place to succor ourselves, and plan our next course of action."

Kory: "Don't you mean hide and/or count the loot?"

Razuli: "When'd you come back?"

Kory: "Oh, I finished a long time ago."

Dania: "Short trip.  How easily could this place be defended?"

Topash: "It occupies high ground.  There aren't many windows, but I
     suspect we could easily make some."

Kory: (Looks at Kortul) "Wouldn't even need a battering ram.  How
     strong is your head, anyway?"

Kortul: (Glares)

Kory: "Uh huh.  Well, excuse me whilst I swing among the rafters and
     find the stash of gold the former owner hid up there lo these
     many years ago.  Somebody has to." (Jumps and grabs rafter, and
     swings up.)

Razuli: "If you see a spider about 3 inches across with a thing on its
     back that looks like a skull, go ahead and make friends with it."

Dania: "Maybe we'll get lucky and the roof'll collapse.  You see
     anything up there?"

Kory: "Bleah!  Dust, spider webs, and I think what may be some pieces
     of the former owner.  Hey!  If you look out this window, you can
     see what looks just like a great big huge evil temple!"

Topash: "How far away is it?"

Kory: "Oh, couldn't be more than a few miles.  We could be there by
     nightfall, if we go fast."

Meth: "Err, do we want to go there when it's dark?"

Razuli: "Uh, I vote we stay here and check it out in the morning."

Navero: (Climbs clumsily into the rafters.) "Oh, I see it.  It looks

Kory: "I agree.  All those big fat ugly columns all over, no plants or
     open spaces, not even any attractive statuary.  Evil priests have
     no sense of design."

Dania: "Nav, can you detect evil on it?"

Navero: "Well, everything feels bad.  But it feels strange.  It's like
     it's old, and not very strong, I guess."

Kortul: "Any walls?"

Kory: "It's all wall.  Like a fortress."

Meth: "Any, like, sacrificial altars?"

Kory: "I think they keep them inside.  Though there is a big circular
     clearing to one side."

Meth: "Cool.  Maybe they do ring rituals."

Razuli: "I don't think so."

     While we were looking at the temple, a huge hairy hill in banded
mail walked up to the doorway of the barn.  Perhaps the creaking of
the barn disguised its approach, for it was not a stealthy mover.  We
didn't notice it until it was right behind us.

Hill: "Hello!"

All elves: "AHHH!" (Assorted weapons drawn.)


Hill: "Aw, cute little elf-persons."

Navero: "Uh, who are you?"

Hill: "My name's Serga.  I won't eat you."

Dania: "...uh, sure, fine.  Just stay over there."

Serga: (Smiles.  It is not a very pleasant sight, and his breath could
     kill a pixie.) "Hello.  I was thinking that I could help you."

Topash: (Looks wary.) "With what?"

Serga: "What are you doing?"

Kory: "We're going to go over to that evil temple over there and
     destroy it amid tumultuous and heroic deeds."

Serga: "Okay.  Then that's what I want to do too."

Kortul: (Frowns with a mixture of confusion and disbelief.) "Who the
     hell are you?"

Serga: "I'm Serga.  My horse is over there.  I can cook and sew.  And
     I can smash things pretty good, if you need me to do that."

     Serga was a half-ogre fighter with a huge sword and not much
cash.  The player illuminated us on his background:  Once upon a time,
there was a baby.  It was much worse than other babies: for one thing,
it was larger.  The unfortunate human mother probably died in child
birth, and her family abandoned it.  A kindly (Lawful Sickening) elven
mage who lived nearby took in the repulsive little foundling, and
tried to raise it as best she could, teaching it manners and social
graces, as it was obvious the child was going to have a rough life.
After Serga moved out, he tried to open a restaurant, as he liked
cooking some; it was a spectacular lack of success.  With few other
options available, he decided to put his natural talents to work and
become a sword for hire.

Topash: "Well... I suppose we can always use another fighter."

Kortul: (Glares at Topash) "What?"

Topash: "Not that you haven't done a fine job yourself, of course!
     But you can't be everywhere at once, and the rest of us might
     need additional protection."

Razuli: "Hey, what about me?"

Dania: "What about you?  You run away half the time, and are useless
     the other half."

Meth: "Besides, your feet smell."

Razuli: (Points at Serga) "And his don't?"

Serga: "I'm sorry, I can't help it."

Razuli: "And name one situation where I ran away!"

Dania: "The Rust Monsters."

Razuli: "Everybody ran away from them!  Including his buffness over

Dania: "How about the Orcs?  I don't remember seeing you anywhere but
     hiding in a tree for that whole fight!"

Razuli: "I was not hiding!  I climbed the tree to look over the Orcs,
     and let their main charge pass, then came down.  Very sensible
     battlefield tactics, as if any of you knew anything about it."

Navero: "Uh..."

Kortul: (Snarls) "And running away from the kids?"

Serga: (Scratches his head.)

Razuli: "Bandits always have people on both sides of the road!  That's
     the way you fight them.  His buffness would be wearing several
     arrows in his back without me!"

Kory: "Raz, I think you're digging yourself in a little deep there.
     Look, the sun's set, it's getting dark, lets sleep in the barn
     and go slay evil in the morning.  First things first."

Navero: "Yes, please leave Razuli alone." (Climbs down) "Appearances
     deceive us when we rely on our eyes.  I'm sure he had every
     reason to do what he did."

Razuli: "Damn straight."

Dania: "Yeah, like saving his own hide."

Serga: (Looks around in confusion.) "Did I say something?"

Razuli: "Nah, don't worry, this is normal."

Serga: "Oh.  Ok."

     Everyone set down to work cleaning and fixing up the barn.  Serga
proved an enthusiastic and frighteningly strong helper, lifting or
simply tossing aside beams even Kortul had trouble moving.  After an
hour or so, we'd gotten rid of most of the more dangerous vermin,
shored up the roof, put patches on the biggest holes, and cleared out
places for the horses.  Serga's horse was a big heavy draft horse,
huge but slow moving, which seemed to be developing a sway back much
too early in life.  Serga also got put on first watch, with Kortul and
Dania, while everyone else slept.  Outside, snow began to fall again,
a light, white snow that came drifting gently down in white powdery
layers, not melting into a slushy mess like the previous falls.

Serga: (Pets his horse and feeds it an apple.)

Dania: (whispers) "Kortul, do you think we can trust that thing?"

Kortul: "Far as you could throw him."

Dania: "Just what I was thinking.  I'm not sure I want an Ogre around.
     They're pretty damned stupid, and he might try to eat us before
     he'll do anything useful."

Kortul: (Stares at Dania.) "Second thought.  Trust him as far as he
     could throw you."

Dania: (Blanches, and stops whispering) "What?"

Serga: "Hello.  Did you say something?"

Kortul: "No."

Serga: "I really did think you said something."

Dania: "Just thinking out loud."

Serga: "Oh, I do that too!  Sometimes."

Dania: "Uh, yeah."

Serga: "It's nice to be inside.  But the roof leaks a little, so it's
     kind of like outside.  You have a nice horse, little elf person."

Dania: "What?"

Serga: "Your horse.  It's a nice horse."

Dania: "Sure, great.  It, uh, gets me places."

Kortul: "What horses do."

Serga: "I suppose.  But I like to be friends.  I wish I had an
     elephant so my horse didn't have to carry me.  He really doesn't
     like it when he has to."

Dania: "Uh, no, no I didn't think so.  An elephant might be a good
     idea for a future purchase, yes."

Serga: "Yeah.  When does the watch end?"

Kortul: "Another hour."

Serga: "Ok.  I'll go look out the door."

Kortul: (Looks at Dania) "What's an elephant?"

Dania: (Stares for a moment) "It's, uh, a large, herbivorous creature
     from the southern parts of the continent.  They're very placid,
     intelligent, and make good beasts for moving large loads."

Kortul: (Nods.) "Good idea, then."

Dania: "Yeah.  I still don't trust him, though."

Kortul: "Seems harmless.  Keep an eye on him."

     After his watch, Serga slept soundly, though everyone kept a good
close eye on him anyway.  Nothing untoward happened during the night.

Daniel Parsons            "Maybe if there are Ogres in the temple, he                                 can talk to them."
                                        "But I don't speak Ogreish..."

previous chapter (#41)                  next chapter (#43)