November 19, 2006

Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 10: Cold and Damp vs. Warm and Dry

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Damp sums it up nicely. During the night, the skies opened up and dumped buckets and buckets upon us. Everything we owned was now wet and starting a fire was going to be quite a chore even with Glaf's magic.

In the sky above, the forces of cold and damp were battling against the warm and dry. A line had been drawn in the sky, and our cold and damp clothes indicated which side we were on.

A strong chilly gust of wind, a bolt of lightning, and a clap of thunder indicated that cold and damp were going to put on a big push. How could the sunny force of the warm and dry compete with that? It looked like cold and damp was going to win the day.

We had other things to worry about besides the battle in the sky. We were lost. We were looking for a city whose name we did not know. The forest surrounded us and it seemed that we went around in circles. If we went one direction for a while and then reversed our course, we seemed to go to a different location.

Further, we would battle goblins, werecats, and other creatures on our hike. To add to our misery, Gudrid would not allow us to kill a deer for food. We were eating gristly grizzly bear instead. Some tender venison would have eased my suffering, but there was going to be none of that.

It was going to be a miserable hike, but you would not hear me complain about it. I would not let anyone in the party know of my utter discomfort. My hunger was my own little secret. I would just trudge along quietly collecting no treasure as we fought off yet another pack of winter wolves.

I was about to completely turn into a cold and damp fish-person when we were attacked by a large group of goblins. At least the activity could potentially warm me up as I jumped into action.

Before we killed all of the goblins, I smelled something. Further, I heard a distinct grunt in the distance. Normally, I would have ignored it because we were in the middle of a skirmish. However, Thorvald must have sensed them also and he ran towards the smell.

The goblins would be vanquished in a few moments anyway, so I followed him. He ducked behind a rock and spotted them. I came up behind him and saw them too. We looked quietly so we would not scare them off. Gudrid would not complain if we made a meal out of them. Moreover, they were in our path. We just had to be careful not to destroy a carcass or two. If we could manage a clean kill, we would be eating well tonight.

Just then, the forces of warm and dry made their push. The sun came out from behind the clouds and a warm breeze neutralized the chill in the air. Things had turned for the better for us. The sun thoroughly warmed me, and a pack of wild boar was waiting for us. We could be warm and dry eating a nice pork dinner by dark.

I fired a couple of crossbow bolts at the boar killing one. The rest of our party came up behind us just as the pack charged at our location. The thought of a cured ham made my mouth water as each of the wild pigs fell. I think even Jean was looking forward to roast pig at the evening meal. It was not going to be bacon, but it was still going to be delicious.

Thorvald and I cleaned a couple of carcasses and we marched on. In the morning, it seemed to me that the cold and damp had too many powerful weapons on their side. The cold wind, the rain, the thunder and lightning seemed an undefeatable combination. However, the warm and dry side just waited for the right time to bring out their most powerful weapon -- the sun.

We decided to make camp early to take advantage of the sun and dry out our things. The sun was glorious against my lizard skin. I now understood what it was like to be a lizard lying on a rock basking in the sun. Modesty may have prevented the others from stripping down, but I had no such qualm.

Jean started a fire and we began roasting the pigs on a spit. Off in the distance, I heard a cow mooing. "Perhaps we could have beef tomorrow," I thought to myself.

We sat around the fire and ate excellent barbequed pork. Most of my clothes were now dry, and I was beginning to enjoy the camping experience. It was a quiet starry night, and most of all I was dry.

However, as darkness was approaching Jean sounded a minor alarm. The cow I had heard earlier was now closer and continued to draw near. It seemed that an ox cart was being drawn towards our camp.

I snuck up close to get a close look. A lone female in a roguish costume was riding in the cart. She was quite plain, and I was sure she was not a threat. She had a look of concern on her face.

"How now," I greeted her.

"Oh! You startled me," she responded.

"What brings you towards our camp?" I asked.

"I smelt your food, and I thought..."

"You thought you would see if we would share."

"Well... Yes."

"Come on. Let us hear your story as you sup with us."

The woman drew her wagon close to our camp and dismounted. She neared the fire to warm herself. Jean cut of a bit of meat and gave it to her. The rogue hungrily gobbled down the food we provided her.

"There are not too many lizard people who would share their food with a human," she said after eating a good portion of food.

"We are not actually lizard people," responded Glaf.

"Some wizard or sorcerer has placed a spell on us," added Gudrid.

"Where are you headed?" the rogue asked.

"There is a town not far from here," replied Thorvald.

"You mean the town just north of here?" she asked.

"Why yes...," replied Glaf with some hesitation.

"Were you sent on an adventure by the wizard Nebrion?" she continued.

"Why do you ask?" I inquired before anyone could give her all of our information.

"There is something fishy about that wizard. You see, my fiancé and a group of adventurers went on one of Nebrion's adventures. I have not seen him in several months. I can only assume that the quest he was sent on was rigged."

"So you assume that we also partook in some sort of 'rigged' adventure," I stated taking control of the conversation.

"My Paul is in an experienced group of adventurers. They would not have taken an assignment that was too dangerous."

"We ran into a Paul..." started Gudrid before I could stop her.

"Was he all right?" she asked.

"If the Paul we ran into was your fiancé," I continued after I glared at Gudrid. "He was fine."

"I am so grateful for some news," she gushed. "What else can you tell me?"

"What is in it for us?" I asked.

"The town you are heading for has been under attack by many monsters. They are not about to let you walk in the front gate. In fact, they will probably be quite hostile. I know a way in."

"Continue," I prodded.

"There is a statue along the wall. Behind the statue is a large crack. If you use the statue as a boost, you should be able to get into the city from there."

"Paul was a prisoner in a dungeon of a castle just north of the big lake. He was a bit hungry, but he was fine. We armed him and some of his adventurers, and we cleared the way for him. He may still be in the castle or perhaps on his way to town."

The rogue was so happy from our news, that she planted a big wet kiss upon my lips. Her tears flowed quite freely and we gave her much assurance that the man we ran into was her husband to be.

We talked and visited well into the night. In the morning, we ate more pork and parted ways. She headed south towards the castle, and we went north towards the town.

Posted by deg at November 19, 2006 8:43 PM

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