Chapter 34

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Game Master: Aw, come on.  It wasn't that bad, was it?

Party: Grumble Mumble Bitch Snarl Glare

Game M: Alright, I admit fooling you about Desmod like that may have
     been uncalled for.

Kory: Oh, I enjoyed it immensely.  However, we are quite a bit poorer
     than we were when we started all this.  And we still have no idea
     where the Orb of Spheres is.  I hope you do, dear dungeon master.

Game M: Oh, I know where it is.  You'll find it eventually.

Dania: I didn't think we'd actually lose money on an adventure.

Game M: Well, sure!  Think of archaeological expeditions; you don't
     get what you want every time.

Navero: Sometimes you never find it, just spend more and more money

Game M: Exactly.

Dania: Can I get Dania's staff recharged?

Game M: Uh... (Looks in book) Yeah, you can.  Look for someone who can
     do it in the next town.

Razuli: Ok... getting us to throw most of our money away on a useless
     adventure is all right, so long as you don't start making a habit
     of it.

Game M: Useless?  Oh, no no no.  But you'll see about that later.

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

We tore out of Methigor into the night.  Behind us, violet explosions
came out of the observatory.  The undead around us screamed and wailed
and howled and gibbered, with fear and anger and an awful hunger.  We
pushed our mounts to a speed only those which feel no pain can
achieve. Gradually, the undead thinned out, and then were gone
altogether.  We stopped, counted party members, and looked back.
Nothing was left of the observatory tower, and of most of the other
towers. The outer wall had been breached in places, and the courtyard
was filled with fire.  As we watched, the walls collapsed, and it all
went down.

Razuli: "Shit!"

Dania: "Good Lord."

Razuli: "Can we go home now?"

Topash: "I believe we should stay and clean up this mess, and restore
     the greenery that once covered the land.  Someone must do it."

(Pause.  Everyone stares at Topash.)

Topash: "...well... maybe not right now."

Meth: "I'm going to get to the nearest city and spend a lot of time
     convincing myself that this was all a hallucination."

Navero: "Lots of the undead have been destroyed.  What will happen to
     the Bloodstone?"

Dania: "The idiots will take care of it, probably.  They certainly
     wouldn't miss out on destroying an evil artifact."

Topash: "Hmmm...  Shouldn't these horses be returned to the earth,
     where they belong?"

Dania: "You wanna walk?"

Topash: "Yes, perhaps we'd best do it later."

Navero: "Uh, all the undead that weren't killed are fleeing the castle.
     A few hundred of them are coming this way.  Shouldn't we run?"

Kory: "Yes, lets.  Perhaps we can stop for tea another time."

     We rode.  And rode.  And rode and rode and rode well into the
night until our butts were threatening to sue us for damages.  Nothing
came near us, although we saw plenty of things along the way.  We did
notice that the great black cloud cover seemed to be breaking up; a
star could be glimpsed occasionally.  When we were finally just too
tired to go on, we stopped in the middle of the road to camp.  We
didn't bother with a fire, and almost didn't set a watch; Kortul was
the last one standing, and saw that everyone else had collapsed, so he
lit a lantern and dozed standing up, leaning on his sword.

     Dawn broke, and with it came a young rider from the east.  He was
young, older than Navero but not by much, and obviously more used to
hitching a horse to something than to riding one.  He came towards our
strange little camp with a disconcerted look on his face; obviously,
he didn't know what to make of our skeletal horses, or us for that

Kortul: (wakes up) "Hmph?"

Rider: "Uh, hello.  My name is Barney, I'm from Ethylia.  Ah... we saw
     all those lights out over Methigor last night, and now the clouds
     are breaking up, and, uh...  We were wondering, uh, what

Kortul: "Castle blown up.  Vampire killed.  Very messy."

Barney: "You blew up a castle and killed a vampire?  Uh, yeah, right.
     Why do you have those horses?  And why are you all so filthy?
     And what are you DOING here, anyway?  With all the living dead,
     only an idiot would be out here at night."

Kortul: (sigh) "Shut up."

Barney: "Oh.  Uh, you guys must ride your horses awful hard."

Kory: "Mgmph?"

Barney: "Oh, hello.  I'm Barney, I'm from Ethylia.  The council sent
     me to find out what happened.  Do you guys know anything about

Kory: (Ponders sleepily for a moment) "I know absolutely nothing about
     this whole embarrassing incident.  Now go away and lemme sleep."

Barney: "On the ground like that?"

Kory: "There's never been a soft'r bed..."

Razuli: "Grgmph?"

Barney: "I'm Barney.  I'm from Ethylia.  Do you know anything?"

Razuli: "Agg, shit, my back is killin' me..."

Barney: "Never mind.  Do you know anything?"

Dania: " ...fuck off... "

Barney: "Uh, maybe you all had better come back to town.  We have beds
     and hot baths there for you."

Dania: "hot bath?"

Barney: "Uh, yeah.  I think my mom still has some of her soup left too."

(Party slowly drags itself up and groggily stumbles to the horses.)

Barney: "Uh, do you wanna ride, uh, I mean... those horses?  Maybe we
     should get you some others.  Uh, not that I have others, but I
     could go back, and, uh..."

Razuli: "Kid, fuck the horses.  Let's go."

     We very slowly rode down the road to the east.  Barney led the
way, and occasionally glanced back at us and our mounts.  I'm afraid
we must have presented an unsettling sight, but at that point we
didn't really care.  Had any of us looked up, we would have seen that
the black cloud cover was nearly half gone, and snow was beginning to
fall in tiny little flakelets.  We got into Ethylia, and caused quite
a stir; most of the town's remaining inhabitants were out, and the
place was abuzz with excitement: something had happened, and they
wanted to know what it was.  All of this we completely ignored, as our
skeletal mounts carried us to the inn, the House of Dimittus, arriving
just after noon.  We asked for separate rooms, paid, and despite the
persistence of the town council, no useful information could be gotten
out of us until the next day.

     That evening, after we had slept, bathed (those with a mind to),
changed clothes, killed the undead horses and buried them, and
generally advanced closer to sentience, we went to see the town
council.  However, they did not want to see us right then.  We noticed
an armored carriage with four sleek, well-fed looking horses and the
seal of the governor of Propyla by the town hall, along with several
of well-armed guards.  They gave us several nasty looks.  We didn't
know any of them, and I don't think they recognized us, as we were in
a cleaner-than-usual state.  The party then dispersed into the town
and outlying areas.  Navero went out to help some farmers, who were
plagued with undead and wolves.  Topash went out into the woods, and
got himself happily lost.  Meth went to his room and did something
else entirely.  None of the local people were pestering us for
information anymore, but we didn't mind that at all.

Dania: (Goes into the inn, talks to Dimittus.) "Do you sell ale?"

Dimittus: "Yes.  Ales and wines, with meals.  I do run a respectable
     establishment here, ma'am."

Dania: "Great.  Gimme a sandwich and two or three bottles of your best."

Dimittus: "What kind of sandwich would you like with your wine, ma'am?"

Dania: "I don't care.  Just gimme."

Kory: "Darling little Dania, you shouldn't drink so much on an empty
     stomach.  And what fun is it to drink alone?  Razuli!  Come 'ere!"

Dania: "Get your own booze."

Kory: "Hmph!  Innkeeper!"

Dimittus: (sigh.) "Yes, sir?"

Kory: "Do you have White Ice Ale?"

Dimittus: "I sell Beer, Southern Blend Ale, my Personal stock, and Red
     Wine.  And only with meals.  I do not cotton to drunken lewdness
     or other such depravities."

Razuli: "Shit.  Propylan guards coming."

Kory: (Disappears, or rather attempts to.  A guard blocks his path.)

Guards: "The council would like to see you all now."

Razuli: "Sure.  Be there right after dinner."

Guards: "The council would like to see you all NOW.  Sir.  I must say,
     you do look rather familiar, sir, apart from being somewhat

Razuli: "...right.  How can we refuse such an invitation?"

     We were brought together in the town hall (except Topash, who had
disappeared.  Meth was physically present, but it was obvious that his
mind was elsewhere.)  The council sat at a large horseshoe-shaped
table which seated nine; five councilors were present.  Also present
were 14 guardsmen in the livery of Propyla, a familiar-looking
lieutenant, and a bored-looking dandy, all in silks and ruffles.  We
were seated inside of the horseshoe, and told the council everything
that had transpired since we set out towards Methigor, omitting only
the details which might get us arrested.  After hearing our story, the
councilors looked fearful, the guardsmen looked skeptical, the
lieutenant looked insulted, and the dandy still looked bored.

Navero: "Well, uh... that's it."

Dania: "Yeah."

Lieutenant: "A preposterous tale.  Why not tell of dragon-slaying, hm?"

Razuli: "Nah, we don't do dragons."

Kory: "Just vampires who want to take over the world with disgustingly
     evil artifacts.  We're specialists."

Lieutenant: "I don't believe you, and neither does anyone else in
     here.  Ridiculous.  Utterly incredible.  Do not take us for the
     country bumpkins you are used to spinning your absurdities with."

Dania: (grr...) "Look, that's what happened."

Guard 1: "Shut up and don't insult his lordship."

Kory: "Well, whatever.  At the very least, I have the stuff with which
     to spin tales for eons to come.  I can see it all now, my name in
     lights, the cheering crowd, the..."

Lieutenant: "That will be QUITE ENOUGH!  You, sir, are utterly
     unworthy of the attentions you have received on this night, much
     less your ludicrous dreams.  As a deputized agent of the King of
     the western provinces, I forbid you to spin these wild fantasies
     as truth, in any form, under the penalty of the law!  Is that

Kory: (Starts to protest mightily.  All guards finger their weapons.)
     "I, of course, would never willingly break the law as laid down
     before me by one so prolix.  You have the solemn word of Malcom
     Goldentongue that I shall never spread these foolish tales."

Lieutenant: "See to it, Mr. SILVERtongue.  Or I shall see to you all.
     Now good night, and don't bother anyone again."

     The Propyla contingent went back that very night.  We also left
for Propyla, but only after resting for a day.  No one knew why we
wanted to go back to Propyla; it was just the general consensus that
we wanted to get away from here, and go somewhere where we could
forget about this latest catastrophe for a while.  Also, Propyla would
probably have more opportunities to reverse our negative cash flow
problem, as well as more information on the Orb of Spheres.  But we
didn't leave for another day; Ethylia was a quiet town, suited to
relaxing and recuperating, although the night life left a lot to be
desired.  We bought some more horses, and something else.

Razuli: "What is that?"

Animal Merchant: "That?  You have a good eye, sir; that is a Gronk, a
     splendid pack animal, very strong and capable of travelling far."

(The "Gronk" was a reptilian thing, about six feet long and three feet
high, and built like a tank.  It had beady little stupid-looking eyes,
a short, stubby tail, and lots of teeth.)

Razuli: "A horse could leave that thing in the dust, mac."

Merchant: "Not at all!  Why, the Gronk may look slow and ungainly, but
     never was there a speedier beast of its size.  I'd put one
     against a horse any day, but not for riding, certainly; too
     bumpy.  But I see that you are skeptical, sir.  Lets take it out
     to the run so you can see how truly amazing it is."

(The merchant puts on a ring, and the Gronk immediately begins
following him. The Gronk does move quite quickly, especially on the
open track.)

Razuli: "What's the ring?"

Merchant: "A Ring of Gronk control.  Each is personal, and included
     with every purchase.  A Gronk will never run away with your
     equipment, nor will anyone else be able to move it against your
     will.  And, in addition to that, Gronks are never killed by a
     wayward arrow or spear like horses, for Gronks possess a grace:
     they are favored of the deity."

Razuli: "Which god?"

Merchant: "That which lies above them all, and is whispered in hushed
     tones as the mighty DM.  The Gronk is his personal favorite,
     which makes it virtually unkillable."

Razuli: "DM's favorite monster, huh?  All right, how much?"

Gronk: "GRONK!"


Dania: "What's that thing?"

Razuli: "It's a Gronk.  C'mere, Gronk."

Gronk: "Gronk!"

Kory: "I like it.  I think it's cute!"

Razuli: "I'm gonna make some hip boots out of him."

Kory: "Hey!"

     The ride back to Propyla was leisurely and uneventful. Many
people were travelling back to the west, including lots of guarded
wagons; why there weren't more bandits was unclear.  Perhaps these
WERE the bandits, returning to their old territories.  Once back in
Propyla low-town, we set about finding facilities for training; only
Dania was left out, as usual.  We also found something else of
interest; several posters and flyers put up all over the city.

                         HEAR YE!   HEAR YE!

              Let it be known that after a long Campaign
                   which has only now borne fruit,

              the honorable Lordling BENTWICK of Feluca
        has proven his right by honor in battle to succeed his
                          honorable Father,

                      THE LORD EMODED OF FELUCA

   as GOVERNOR of this city under the terms of Rightful Succession
                       for his Valiant Slaying
                           in Single Combat
                             the VAMPIRE
                           Desmod the DARK

          and so Dispelling the curse lain on our fair land
                             by the same

23rd of the Winter season, year 32 AE. Councillor Nunhillis recording.

Daniel Parsons                      "Jeff, I'm going to kill you now."
                                     "You can't do that.  I'm the DM."

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