Chapter 40

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Note: This is the first new Navero, hooray!  I shall try to get one
out every week, as before.  Send any comments to,
if you please.

          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

     Jeff was reinstated as DM, Roger returned to the unenviable
position of playing Razuli, and we went on our merry way.  The land
regained its dark, somewhat stained appearance; the tendrils of power
left from the vampire's domination still a palpable presence.  The
thickening snow did nothing to lighten the effect.  It was a thin and
dirty sort of snow, not the kind that lay itself smoothly over the
land, but a wet, grayish sort of stuff that crept into your clothing
and made everything wet and cold and miserable.

     We rode down the path out of the dwarven hills.  The horses
almost slipped and fell twice on the icy, slippery path.  Back down on
the main road, we looked back at the city of Propyla.  The city, or
what was left of it, was to the east, spread low and dark near the
horizon.  All the tall buildings and towers were gone, only a few
whiffs of smoke curling up into the sky.  A crowd of miserable-looking
refugees were camped in a nearby field, shivering in the sleet.

Razuli: "Well, I guess we won't be going back there again.  Let's see,
     that's a town and two capitals; we could go for three."

Topash: "You forget something; the emperor's troops.  Somebody off in
     the east will probably be VERY interested in knowing how his
     cities keep getting destroyed; we are probably wanted already."

Dania: "Well, we don't want to hang around here."

Navero: "Maybe we should go westwards, and help the people over there?
     I'm sure there are still lots of monsters and things left, and
     they will be trying to hurt people."

Kory: "My, that sounds like a brilliant idea!  Why don't we go east
     and find someplace interesting?  We won't bleed nearly as much,
     and may even have a good time!"

Dania: "We don't want to go anywhere we'd be recognized.  Let's just
     go someplace and lie low until this blows over."

Meth: "Excuse me, but do you recognize any of these people walking
     towards us?"

Razuli: "What, them?  The ones with the pitchforks and axes?  Nope, no
     friends of mine.  Say, why don't we mosey along this way?"

     We spurred our horses westwards; the approaching crowd did not
pursue too enthusiastically, and we were quickly able to put them
behind us.  We rode on into a small copse, occasionally hiding from
patrols of soldiers among the trees, until dusk apathetically
descended and the snow began to come down in earnest.  Eventually, we
couldn't see five yards before us, so it was a great surprise when an
arrow came whistling out of the dark and *thunked* into Razuli's pack.

Razlui:  "Hey!  What the fuck?"

Dania: "Everybody down!  Dismount!"

Voice: (Muffled cursing from somewhere among the trees.)

Kortul: (Charges horse into trees in direction of voice.)

Topash: (Follows Kortul.)

Meth: "Oh, shit.  Where did that came from?"

Kory: (Dismounts and hides behind tree.) "Look, if you don't know,
     don't try to find out!  Lucky for us they can't see shit either."

Razuli: (Rides off in direction Kortul did not take.)

Navero: (Looks about, trying to see.)

Dania: "Razuli!  They're over there!"

Razuli: "I'm... going to see if there are any over here!"

Kortul: (Finds five teenagers, two with short bows, huddled behind
     some trees.  They look like farm boys.  He rides his horse into
     them, and clouts one over the head with the flat of his blade.
     They scatter.)

Topash: (Casts Tanglefoot, snares three more farm boys.  The last one
     is quickly out of sight.)

Meth: "I hear screaming little kids."

Kory: "Ok, Raz.  It's safe, you can come out now."

     Our captives (one of whom required a Cure Light to bring around)
turned out to be some of the local kids who had decided to try doing
something exciting in their spare time, and become bandits.

Dania: "Great.  Bunch of stupid little brats decide to rob us."

Farm Boy 1: "Well... we  thought it would be fun and, and stuff.  We
     didn't want to hurt anybody.  We just wanted to scare you.  I
     mean, The Scarlet Avenger just fires off a warning shot, and
     everyone surrenders.  He even lets the ladies have some of their
     jewelry back if they kiss him, and things."

Kory: "Ha!  The last I heard, The Scarlet Avenger had thirty men to
     back him up, and any ladies he found usually spent several nights
     entertaining each and every one of them."

Razuli: "Didn't he get drawn and quartered a few years back?"

Navero: "Um... this was a very bad thing you did."

Farm boys: (Look sullen.)

Navero: "Being a bandit isn't fun; you ride around all the time, don't
     have a home, and everyone is trying to kill you or steal from
     you.  Patrols from cities hunt for you, and... um...  it's very
     bad, and you shouldn't do it."

Topash: "Why Navero, that's one of the best descriptions of our
     lifestyle I've ever heard."

Razuli: "Except we don't do any of the fun stuff."

Dania: "Look, can we just get rid of them and go?"

Kortul: "Still don't see why we cured him.  If he dies, it's his fault."

Farm boys: (Look frightened.)

Navero: "I think we should march them home and tell their parents."

Kory: (Guffaws)

Meth: "Do you think they care?"

Topash: "Actually, Navero, I think that would be a wonderful idea."

Navero: "You do?"

Dania: (Stares at Topash.)

Topash: "Certainly.  Their parents would be delighted to hear of this,
     I'm sure.  We may stay under their roof for some time while we
     tell them all about it."

Dania: "Oh... we may even stay so late that they'll have to put us up,
     and we won't be sleeping out in the snow."

Razuli: "Hey kids, do any of you have sisters?"

Kory: "Yes!  And does dad own a distillery?"

Farm boys: (Look confused.)

Kortul: "Need to find Orb of Spheres, not take care of babies."

Dania: "Where do you live, kid?"

Farm boy 2: "What if we don't tell you?"

Topash: "Then we will sit here, all night, in the snow."

Navero: "And your parents will come looking for you in the morning,
     and they will be even more angry."

Farm boy 3: "I didn't want to do it.  It was all Kever's idea."

Farm boy 1: "It was not!  Huntal made me!"

Farm boy 3: "It was too!"

Farm boy 4: (starts crying) "I'm froze.  I wanna go home, I don't care
     what mom'll do to me, I wanna go home!"

Farm boy 2: "I did not make you!  We were all supposed to do it

Farm boy 1: "You did so!  You even fired the arrow.  He did, Mr.
     Soldier sir, he did!  He did!"

Farm boy 2: "I did not!  You're a liar!"

Toapsh: "This all sounds disturbingly familiar."

Razuli: "Huh?"

Toapsh: "Never mind."

Farm boy 3: "You did too!  I saw you!"

Kortul: (Rolls eyes heavenward.) "Should have clouted all of them."

Farm boy 2: "Did not!  It was Geelee, Mr. Soldier.  Look! (points at
     arrow) He always glues the feathers on his arrows backwards.
     That proves I didn't do it!  You can follow his tracks in the
     snow if you wanna get him."

Farm boy 4: (Starts really bawling.)

Navero: "Children, please stop this!  Here... (puts arm around Farm
     boy 4.)  What's your name?"

Farm boy 4: (sniffles) "Calib."

Navero: "All right, Calib.  I'm sorry Kortul hit you.  He didn't want
     to hurt you either, he was just scared, and people sometimes do
     that when they're scared."

Kortul: (Turns and glares at Navero.)

Navero: "But when you go and try to take things from people, they
     don't like it, and they want to stop you, and that means
     sometimes people get hurt.  Especially when you shoot at them.
     (Looks at Farm boy 2)  Now, young man, do you realize you could
     have hurt Razuli?"

Farm boy 2: (Stares sullenly at his shoes.)

Navero: "You mustn't do that.  There isn't any excitement in being a
     bandit.  Those are just stories."

Razuli: (Yawns.)

Farm boy 2: "We're sorry."

Navero: "All right.  Now we're going to take you home, and you're
     going to tell your parents what you did, and ask for their

     The boys were secured in front of selected party members (Kortul
not among them) and we took each of them home.  They caught hell, of
course, but we were able to wangle a night in a farmers barn, among
the warm livestock; much better than the open road.  Come dawn, the
party rose and breakfasted sumptuously with Kevar's parents; all
grumbling about spending the night with them ceased.

     Kevar's father, as it turned out, was an alderman at the local
temple (in addition to being gravedigger, constable, and grand marshall
at the local turnip festival), and over breakfast, brought up something
that had been on his mind for some time.  His wife busied herself in
the background, not disturbing the talk of the menfolk. (Dania, I
suppose, becoming sort of an honorary menfolk.)

Lorin: (For that was his name) "Thanks for bringing my son home.  Kids
     do stupid things, ya know.  Though he got himself learned pretty
     good on this one."

Kortul: *grunt* (Wolfs down steak and eggs.)

Razuli: (Sharpens sword.)

Dania: "Sure, great."

Lorin: "Now, you gonna be on your way now?"

Navero: "I would like to say that we are all very grateful to you for
     opening your home to us.  May the Lords of the Correct and
     Unalterable way keep you sound, and bless your land and hearth."

Lorin: *ahem!* "Thank you, youngster.  Snows aren't too deep, so you
     can be on your way.  I can give you directions to where you're
     goin', if it's close."

Meth: "I thank you, as the only one with manners around here.  We're
     looking for a magic item.  Got any?"

Lorin: "Nope.  Only magic near here is at the temple of Gattar.
     They've got something called the Orb of Spheres, and have been
     using it to make our lives miserable for near a score o' years."

(Dead silence.)

Kory: "Did you say the Orb of Spheres?"

Dania: "Where'd you hear of that?"

Topash: "Do you know for certain that they have it?"

Razuli: (Glares suspiciously.)

Lorin: (Obviously taken somewhat aback by the hubub.) "Yep, they got
     it.  Had it a long time.  Use it to bring in critters so's they
     can bully everybody around.  You know about it?"

Kortul: "Heard of it."

Dania: "You know for sure they have it?"

Lorin: (Nods slowly, eyes party craftily.) "What would you want with
     it, anyways?"

Topash: "We've been given a quest by a higher power to find and
     destroy it.  If you would give us directions to this temple of
     Gattar, we could fulfill our quest and relieve your enemies of
     their source of power."

Lorin: "A quest?"

Navero: "Yes.  In exchange for a... transgression, we were asked to
     give penance by finding this item and destroying it."

Lorin: (Looks the party over a bit distastefully.) "You fellers?"

Meth: "Hey, no disrespect."

Kory: "These are just our travelling clothes!  We're all nobles from
     the court of king Karacticus."

Lorin: (Looks dubious.) "Never heard of him.  Well... I suppose I
     might as well tell you.  They got it, brag about it, use it.  You
     want to smash it, I got no objections.  Take the road south-east
     for two days, turn west at the hill with Old Finster's Barn, and
     it's right in front of ya."

Razuli: "Gee, real nice and close by."

Dania: "Yeah!  This is gonna be easier than we thought."

Lorin: "Well, least I can do.  If they capture ya, and torture ya, be
     sure not to use my name."

Meth: "Oh, worry not!  I, at least, do not reveal my sources."

Kortul: (frowns)

     We left the house, thanking Lorin profusely, and quickly saddled
up for the journey.  Most of the party looked excited by the news that
the quest hanging over our heads would soon be over, but Kortul and
Razuli looked darkly back at the house, and once we were riding away,
voiced some of their suspicions.

Razuli: "Ok, kids.  How many actually believe it's in there?"

Topash: "I beg your pardon?  We have no reason to doubt his honesty."

Kortul: "Been suckered before."

Dania: (sigh.) "All right, answer me this: how was he supposed to know
     we were looking for the Orb?  We never mentioned it in his presence."

Kortul: "Hmph."

Dania: "He couldn't.  He's a farmer, no way of knowing.  So how could
     he even know it exists, unless it's close by?  And if it is,
     where else would it be?  If he had it, he wouldn't be a farmer."

Kory: "I sure as hell wouldn't be!  Damn it, I'm agreeing with Dania
     again.  I gotta stop doing that!"

Razuli: "I dunno, kids.  Everybody and his uncle's been telling us
     it's someplace else.  I think he's just sending us there, hoping
     we'll trash the temple."

Kortul: "Or just get rid of us."

Topash: "My friends, I do admire a certain amount of caution.  But
     this is beginning to seem, shall we say, a bit paranoid?"

Navero: "He seemed very honest."

Razuli: "Well, don't cry to me when it ain't there."

Daniel Parsons                "Does anyone remember how we're supposed
                               to send this thing to the Snake Lords?"

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