December 31, 2006

Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 16: So Close and Yet So Far

By Douglas E. Gogerty

It appeared that Nebrion was not expecting us. His welcome committee had just attacked us. Jean and Gudrid wasted no time in pouncing on the trio of mages. My crossbow bolts were ineffective against all but one of the apprentices. I deduced that two of the visions in the fight were merely astro-projections. Thus, I concentrated on the one I could damage.

Naturally, the wizard was none too pleased with my bolts, and she kept launching attacks against me. I had to dodge fireballs, lightning, and a myriad of other spells. Did she not realize there were others in this fight?

Jean and Gudrid eventually disrupted the two false apprentices and began concentrating on the real thing. This helped me out immensely because she could no longer concentrate solely upon me.

She was quite a powerful magic user in her own right. She conjured up a dire tiger, and sent it after me. I do not think we had met before, but for some reason she seemed to have some sort of grudge against me.

Her face was cloaked, so I could not get a good glimpse of her. Plus, I was running away from a huge tiger with teeth the size of my dagger. Thus, I did not get a real good look at her face, but I did not think I knew her.

Glaf kept attempting to calm her down so we could speak with her, but those efforts were for naught. She was very resistant to magic, and Glaf was always nervous around girls.

Gudrid helped me with the tiger. I could have handled it on my own, but it was nice to have some help with it. Thorvald did his thing with my cuts and scrapes, so when the tiger fell, I could have taken on a few more. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance.

Shortly after the tiger fell, Jean finished off Nebrion's apprentice. I took a good look at her face, but I did not know her. At least, I did not recall ever meeting her. Perhaps she was attracted to me, and this is how she showed it. I am certain that is it.

Gudrid searched her body, and took her personal effects. She had very little. She had her journal, which made no mention of me. Hence, that reinforced the idea that she had developed crush upon me at first sight.

It was just a personal journal. In it, she had the usual complaints about long work hours and low pay. She was often complaining about how little Nebrion trusted her. It did describe some of her deeds to show her boss that she was worthy of more. However, it made little mention of Nebrion's schemes or plans.

Along with the journal was a key, but little else. A search of her room revealed nothing else. There was no device to mend the rug in this room. She was an ordinary underpaid apprentice attempting to please her boss and get ahead. It was too bad she was evil and tried to kill us. We could have become friends I am sure.

My group of adventurers and I left the apprentice's room, and returned into the entryway. Occasionally, someone would try the door only to find it locked. It appeared that Nebrion was not interested in letting any of the townspeople in. For this, we were grateful because we wished to continue searching this lower level of his residence unmolested.

Naturally, this was not to be. We opened the next room and found ourselves face-to-face with a large gang of bandits. They just appeared out of nowhere. If only I could get the others of my group to be so stealthy.

Nevertheless, we were once again fighting in close quarters. We had faced several large groups of bandits before, and this group was much the same. We easily dispatched them. They had a little treasure, which is a nice thing about bandits. You usually get some sort of reward for your trouble.

Once we had taken care of the bandits, I noticed a strange device along one wall. I was about to examine the machine when we were suddenly attacked by a group of enormous insects. Every creature in the world was stealthier than my party.

The difficulty with giant insects is that they are naturally armored. Their exterior coat is very difficult to penetrate with ordinary weapons. Further, they have nasty crushing appendages near their mouths. Furthermore, they always look creepy.

These particular bugs had one more thing going for them. Their bite was poisonous. We had to be careful to avoid being bitten. Nebrion was not messing around with the protection of his belongings.

It took longer than we would have liked, but we managed to stomp the bugs. Gudrid was poisoned in the battle, but Thorvald was up to the task and was able to neutralize the poison. Naturally, the bugs could not just lie there dead with their legs crossed. These bugs vanished in a noxious gas cloud. The cloud was not dangerous; it was just fowl smelling.

We thoroughly searched the room for any more creatures. When we were certain that the room was secure, I went to look at the rug repair device. There was a tray in which to place the bundles that we had collected. I put the four bundles on the tray. The machine whirred and buzzed and a message appeared reading 'Not enough material.'

We had a fake bundle! There was a bundle for this carpet out there somewhere, and we needed to find it. It could be anywhere if it existed at all. Perhaps it was destroyed.

I was most upset about this development. Without the rug to enter Nebrion's room, we could not complete our quest. Moreover, we may be permanently stuck in our reptilian forms. Paul and his group had reverted to their ordinary selves, but we did not know if we were under the same spell.

Furthermore, when we began this adventure, we had some items with us. They had disappeared on our transport into the mines. Would we be able to recover these items?

With that crushing disappointment, we took a brief rest. Many people had claimed that there was only way into Nebrion's room, but did they know for sure? Perhaps there was a secret way into his room that no one knew about. We decided to look for ourselves.

Posted by deg at December 31, 2006 12:00 PM

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