Nebrion's Quest

Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 1: Gathering the Party

By Douglas E. Gogerty

I met the Cleric Thorvald Larsenski of the Cygnus clan while luring 30 orcs out of a woman's home. She lived on the outskirts of some town, and some orcs decided to take up residence in her place. She offered a 300 gold pieces to get rid of them. I thought that was easy money, so I took the job. I managed to lure all 30 of them out of her house.

They followed me for a ways, and I met up with Thorvald. He claims that he saved my life, but it was all a part of my plan. With a bit of finesse, I lured the orcs out of this woman's house, and I did not have to kill one. As I am leaving the town, Thorvald comes along and riles them up, by killing a couple. I had no choice in killing several orcs myself.

Once the orcs we killed the last of the orcs, Thorvald thought he should get some of the money for saving my life. However, from my point of view, he spoiled my plan. The woman was paying for removing the orcs. If they were able, they could come back to that woman's home, and I could have gotten more work. You never know, I could possibly earn another hefty bounty. However, I ended up having to save Thorvald's life because all 30 had turned to him. In any event, we split the gold evenly.

The woman was quite grateful, and I could tell she wanted me to stay a little while so she could further reward me. However, Thorvald mentioned that he was meeting a sorcerer friend to save some princess. He said that they could use someone like me to help him with the task. I told him that dieing was not my idea of a good time. Of course, he mentioned that she was rich.

"How rich?" I asked.

"The reward would be more than you can imagine," he replied.

"I don't know," I added. "I can imagine an awful lot."

"You'll get it," he promised.

"I better!" I said. "By the way Thorvald, after a long battle are you then Thor?"

"You may call me Cleric Larsenski, Most Revered Thorvald, or Thorvald Larsenski of the Cygnus Clan. Thor is right out!"

Some people do not have any sense of humor. He did not catch on to the pun at all. I hope the sorcerer we meet has a better sense of humor.

We travel a bit up the road, and we meet up with Thorvald's sorcerer friend. He was a typical sorcerer type. He was small and studious and reading a lengthy tome as we approached. A small castle was a little off in the distance. He had been trying to determine a way into the castle. In typical sorcerer fashion, he was at a loss.

"Greetings Most Revered Thorvald, you have brought along a companion," proclaimed the sorcerer.

"Salutations, I have brought a rogue to aid in our quest."

"Rogue," the sorcerer began. "I am Glaf Hellion of the Western Highlands, sorcerer of the Marquis of Mellicore, bearer of the vessel of the pestle, and barber to the king of swing."

I must admit I do not remember all that he said. I think he went on for an hour just reciting all his titles and honors.

"Nice to meet you," I replied. "So, how are we getting in the castle?"

"I have been unable to open the gate," he stated boldly.

"It should be simple enough to gain entrance."

"OK hotshot," he said. "You find a way in."

"Wait here and I will have us in shortly," I bragged.

I looked around and observed the high wall that surrounded the castle. On the other side of the wall was a moat. It appeared that getting in would be a difficult task. I checked the lock and it was one of those shifting locks. It was not going to let me pick it. I started to get worried, but I knew the type that had these types of castles. There had to be a key somewhere. Low and behold, there was a key hidden in a placard reading "Keep Out!"

Sorcerer Hellion was not impressed with my feat of awesomeness. I did not see him produce a key. We would still be standing outside the wall if he were in charge of getting us in. I guess what they say is true. "Some of the most astounding feats are nothing if you know how they are done."

With the produced key, I casually unlocked the gate and we walked inside. There was a small bridge crossing the moat on the other side of the gate. It was then that I noticed just how small the castle was. I was beginning to doubt the wealth of the princess we were rescuing.

We crossed the small bridge and opened the front portcullis of the castle. After we entered the castle, we killed some rats, spiders, and such. Nothing difficult came across out path.

According to Glaf, our goal was the dungeon in the lowest levels of the castle. Thus, we find our way down to the lower levels. When we make it to the lowest chamber of the dungeon, we had to kill some iron golems. That was as tough as it got. They were guarding a door that Thorvald claimed held the "princess." I easily picked the lock. Okay, it used the same key as the front gate. Inside we find a ranger named Gudrid.

"This is our princess?" I complained.

My complaint fell on deaf ears as Glaf and Gudrid embraced. I think they have a thing going on. Thorvald explained that Gudrid went ahead to look for the princess. Apparently, the iron golems trapped her in the room. The princess's remains were in the room when Gudrid made her way into the dungeon room. I asked about the riches, but a group of spiders and a gelatinous cube interrupted me.

We fought our way out of the castle with nothing. I know Gudrid looted the princess's corpse, so she may have gotten something out of it. I got nothing. I was about to part ways with this group when they mentioned that a town was having problems with some bandits. Thorvald claimed that this town had some wealth, and with some help, I would definitely earn some reward. I did not want to believe him, but I was heading in that direction.

Normally, I do not like taking on bandits as a personal courtesy. However, these bandits were ruthless. We had almost reached the town when we found them fighting a Paladin. However, they wanted to kill everyone. In fact, they had wiped out the rest of her party, but she was holding her own against them.

There were 10 or 15 bandits already slain when we came along. I killed a bandit with my crossbow just before he took a swing at the Paladin. Our eyes met and there was quite a bit of gratitude on her face. We must have killed at least 100 bandits that day.

My attitude was beginning to improve, as this town must be wealthy to be able to support a gang of bandits that large. Jean, the Paladin thanked us for our help. She wanted to thank me in a more personal way, but this was not the time. The bandits had killed every member of the group she was escorting, and she was a little distraught.

We collected the belongings of the travelers to disperse to family members. However, we were unable to locate any, so we just sold what we found at a local merchant. Needless to say, the items brought only a few gold pieces. We searched for the town mayor, and he rewarded us with a paltry 25 gold pieces each for the destruction of the gang. Luckily, I stole 10 times that much from his office or I would have been upset.

With the coin in my pocket, I considered taking my leave from the rest of the group. However, when I expressed my wishes to leave, they begged me to join their group. I told them that I am not really a joiner.

"I am the Paladin Jean Dark and I am joining them on their next adventure. Please come with us," she said in her most seductive voice.

"We have heard of a job," the sorcerer Glaf added. "We could use someone with your skills."

"There will be a big reward," added Gudrid.

"The wizard Nebrion has come to us, and he is quite wealthy."

"I have heard this song before," I replied.

"Please," begged Jean.

With those sad blue eyes, how could I resist? Thus, our party began Nebrion's Quest.

The story "Nebrion's Quest" was constructed from a "mod" I wrote for Neverwinter Nights™. Some friends and I played the campaign, and this story is loosely based upon our characters. If you have Neverwinter Nights™ Platinum, (or Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark), and you would like to play my mod, you can download it here. Just unzip it into the "modules" directory of the Neverwinter Nights game directory. Enjoy! You may want to play it BEFORE you read the rest of the story or it will ruin all of the surprises. Thanks!!!

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 2: Meeting with Nebrion

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Glaf Hellion arranged the meeting with the wizard Nebrion. Our group gathered at the rendezvous spot and waited. Gudrid and Glaf sat together and napped. If it were not so sickening, it might have been cute. Jean Dark also rested, and she implored me to keep watch. I obliged, although a little snuggling before a mission would have been nice. Thorvald Larsenski, our cleric, took to some prayers and afterward rested.

I paced the area anxiously. We gathered outside the gates of a town that had seen better days. It looked as if it had been continuously attacked for quite some time. The only thing that made me stay was the nice looking tower on the edge of town. It was my belief that the so-called rich wizard lived in that tower.

Wizards like their towers. I am not personally a fan, but to each his own. It was quite ornate. It was as black as coal with white marble sculptures running up the side. The sculptures were all manner of grotesque imagery. However, they looked quite expensive. I could not see the entire structure, so I did not know what the entrance looked like. I imagined a large heavy wooden door with brass hinges and gold adornments. This structure had a new roof, so despite the poverty of the rest of the town, the owner of the tower was doing quite well.

As I continued to observe the surroundings, I started to wonder about our group. I was the guard for this hopeless bunch. Did I really want to hang with a group who would leave someone like me to guard them? I strongly considered taking their loot and heading on my way. Fortunately for them, Jean awoke and smiled at me. Despite her Paladin ways, we could get along.

One by one, the group arose from their rest. The journey to the spot had been long, but it was uneventful. Now, we were mingling outside the gate of a shambles of a city, waiting for some wizard to show up.

"What are we supposed to do now sorcerer?" I asked Glaf.

"My instructions were to wait outside the gate," he responded.

"Hooray for your instructions," I responded. "Are we to wait here until the leaves fall from the trees or what?"

"Are you asking how long we are to wait?"

"Did I stutter?" I asked. "Of course I am asking how long we are supposed to wait."

"I was told to be here on the fourth day and the fourteenth hour."

"What does your manacle of time tell you?"

"It should be any time now."

"Yeah right," I started to say when a strange sensation overcame me. My entire body began to tingle and the surroundings began to fade. I tried to fight the feeling, but I could not move. I felt as if I was traveling down a sewer tunnel. I felt the pull in one direction and just as quickly as it started, the pull stopped and all went black.

I tried to open my eyes, but it was quite a struggle. The disorienting feeling was still with me. I shook my head to snap out of it. It took a couple of seconds but I began to feel like myself again. I eventually was able to open my eyes, and I noticed that I wasn't outside the city anymore.

I laid on the ground for quite a while as I saw the rest of my party materialize in the room in which I found myself. I heard incantations in the corner, but I did not wish to move. I would let the others go first.

Eventually, up jumped Jean and Thorvald. I heard a voice in the corner say, "Arise everyone! I am Nebrion."

I gradually got to my feet, and looked around. It was a largish round room with intricately carved wardrobes around the perimeter. I looked for a door, but I could not find one. Glaf and our host began having a conversation, so I took the opportunity to look around.

I walked up to the first wardrobe, and found that it had been trapped. It was a good trap, and it was very dangerous. Perhaps, it was even deadly. Naturally, it was no match for me, and I easily disarmed it. Sadly, the wardrobe had a very intricate lock and I was unable to open it.

While our host was distracted in conversation, I disarmed all of the traps on the wardrobes. All of them had the same lock, and I was unable to do anything with any of them.

However, hidden between two wardrobes was a chest. It had a very complicated trapping mechanism protecting it. Its trap was even more complicated than the ones protecting the wardrobes. It was no match for my skills either.

The chest's lock was a standard lock and it was opened in seconds. Inside the chest were some valuable items. I did not have time to identify all of the things, but it looked like what was there would fetch a large price in any city shop. When I had time to inspect the items more closely, I would share them with my colleagues. For now, what they did not know would not hurt them.

Glaf called us over for a conference. "The wizard Nebrion is the protector of this town," he began. "For perhaps the last year, the town has been besieged by wave after wave of monsters. Orcs, Kobols, and Lizzardmen have taken turns attacking the citizens of the town. Nebrion has recruited adventurers from all over to attempt to stop the onslaught. He will offer a chest of riches to any party that can stop the attacks.

"If we accept his offer, he will transport us to the mines where he believes the monsters are originating. All we have to do is clean out the mines from the creatures and return here. Upon our return, he will give us the chest filled with items we might find useful. Any questions?"

"What happened to the other adventurers?" I asked.

"None have returned so far," he explained. "It is a very dangerous mission, so we should discuss our misgivings."

"Is there any chance that one of these groups is nearly finished and will claim our prize?" I continued.

"He has not had any volunteers for this mission in months. It is unlikely that any will return."

"So dear sorcerer," I added. "Do you personally guarantee that I -- er -- WE -- will be paid?"

"If we accept this mission, I will guarantee payment if I have to pay you all myself."

"I am in!" I volunteered.

"Why does he not go himself, or why not use his magic?" asked Gudrid.

"He is expending a great amount of energy with a protective sheild in an attempt to keep the creatures out," he replied. "However, their numbers are just to great."

After some further question and discussion, the rest of the group also decided to take on this dangerous mission. Nebrion gave us all the information we wanted, and the party prepared to be transported to the mines. Nebrion informed us that we would face mostly orcs. Thus, if we had anything that excelled in killing orcs, we should prepare those items.

Once everything was prepared, we stood upon a strange mark upon the floor. He started his incantations and the same feeling came upon the others and me. We were out cold for moments and awoke in the mines.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 3: Something Went Wrong

By Douglas E. Gogerty

As I regained consciousness, I felt that something went wrong. First off, I was cold. I think that should be expected being in the bottom of a mine, but this cold was different.

My second clue was the darkness. Why was it so dark? My light baring amulet should provide me with enough light to see. "My amulet," I thought to myself as I reached for it. "Where was my amulet?"

When my fingers reached my neck, I knew something was terribly wrong. There were claws scratching at my chest. Moreover, these claws were mine! When did I get claws? I searched for all of my stuff, but I am naked. I do not have any of my things. I was naked. I wondered if we were all naked.

"Jean? Are you there?" I asked.

"What has happened?" she asked. "Where are my things? I am naked!"

"Relax sweetheart, I am here for you!" I assured her.

"Let there be light," Glaf said in some strange tongue and the cavern became dimly lit.

"No!" shouted the Paladin. "I am not decent!"

"Neither am I," I thought to myself.

At that moment, we all realized that we had somehow been transformed into lizard people. We were greenish and scaly. Furthermore, we were all naked. My excitement over that prospect dimmed when I realized we had no weapons.

Fortunately, for me, I still had the same control of myself that I had always. Thus, I could still walk silently and sneak around the caverns. My eyes were still sharp as they had always been. Thus, if there was enough light, I could find items, which I immediately went to do.

The cavern had a few bodies scattered around. I thought they would have something on them, but before I could check, some skeleton creatures emerged out of the shadows. Naturally, I jumped into action. I saw that Jean was locked in hand-to-hand combat with one, so I decided I would rush to her aid. However, before I got there, Glaf used a spell and the skeleton crumbled into a pile of bones. I took the short sword from the dead creature and handed it to Jean.

"You could use this more than I," I insisted, and she took it with thanks in her eyes.

I would get a more substantial "thank you" later, but there were a few more creatures to take care of first. As I attempted to fight a creature, it would explode, implode, catch fire or what have you, from a spell Glaf would cast. I expect it was probably for the best anyway. I was thankful that he could still cast his spells.

Once we were satisfied that the current attack of creatures was over, I carefully examined the bodies around the cavern. A few of the skeleton creatures had small iron short swords. They were not great, but they were better than having no weapon. Several of the other corpses had died rather brutal deaths, but they were unarmed. I did collect several arrows and a few spears, which caused the deaths of the adventurers. Without a bow, the arrows were not terribly useful. Also, I know nothing about using a spear, so we had nothing to get excited about at this moment.

I carefully examined the cavern where we found ourselves. There was only one exit. It was a rather decrepit mine door. It appeared to have withstood plenty of abuse. There were claw marks and dents of all kinds. I found it locked, but I would not have any problem unlocking it.

Before I took any action, we held a group conference. We took stock on our weaponry. It was pretty meager, but our best fighters were rudimentarily armed. I a few arrows and a spear. In essence, I had nothing, but I could still hide in the shadows and stay unnoticed when need be.

"What do you think happened," Thorvald asked Glaf.

"I have no idea," the sorcerer replied.

"Do you think Nebrion double-crossed us?" I asked.

"Yeah, is he trustworthy," added Thorvald.

"While I would not personally vouch for him," responded Glaf. "Several contacts claimed he could be trusted."

"Do you think there was some sort of spell-caster on the other side of that door who is responsible for our condition?" asked Gudrid.

"I have thought of that," replied Glaf. "There have been several others killed in this room."

"While that is true," I retorted. "None of them look like monsters."

"Perhaps the spell wears off after some time," replied Glaf.

"Why turn us into lizards?" asked Thorvald.

"I cannot answer that," replied Glaf.

"We certainly cannot stay here," I added. "We will have to go through that door."

"Teleportation magic would come in handy right about now," included Thorvald.

"So are we going to work on the assumption that some sort of nefarious spell-caster is on the other side of that door?" I asked the group.

"It is the safest course of action," Glaf chimed.

"If this cavern did not glow so brightly, I could sneak into the other room and take a look," I stated confidently.

"The spell will dissipate soon enough," replied Glaf.

"Does anyone have any better suggestions?" Gudrid asked the group.

"It sounds like that is our plan," asserted Glaf.

"Just to make sure everyone understands what is going to happen," I began. "Let us all get close to the door. Those of you with weapons, get towards the front. I will sneak into the room and look around. If I call out, come quickly. There will probably be a few armed with bows, by looking at the corpses around the door. I want you all to be aware of this point. Once I have all the information I can gather, I will sneak back here. Are you all clear on the plan?"

The adventurers nod in agreement.

"Jean, you have been awfully quiet in our discussions," asserted Glaf. "Are you okay?"

"My current state of undress is making me very uncomfortable," replied the paladin. "I would very much like some clothing. Unfortunately, that is all I can think about right now."

"Do not worry baby," I consoled. "I will take care of you."

Thorvald and Glaf mumbled something. They probably doubted my powers. However, I was hoping that this distraction would not continue once the arrows started flying. We needed Jean.

While the light was still good, I easily picked the lock of the door. I found the claws quite handy in this regard. We just had to wait for the room to go dark, and let my eyes adjust to the darkness. Once this happened I snuck into the room.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 4: The Dead Adventurer

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Our little group came to a consensus, even without Jean. We decided that I would attempt to enter the next cavern unnoticed and have a look around. It was going to be tricky, but I am talking about myself, so it really was going to be easy.

When I entered the next cavern, it was dark. However, in the shadows I saw a few creatures. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness to better identify who or what was in this section of the mine. It was another largish mine cavern room with a well in the middle. There was a mine door blocking a tunnel on the far side of the room. I counted twelve orcs. Three of the orcs had bows as weapons and the others had swords. I did not see any magic users. There were just monsters in the mine room. It would be a tough fight armed as we were.

I snuck out of the room back to the original cavern. I explained the situation. I gave our group a complete description of the room. I also described what creatures were on the other side of our door and how they were armed. We needed a plan to take care of the well-armed creatures on the other side of the door. Naturally, I proposed a plan. I would open the door and have Glaf toss a fireball into the room. Before the fireball erupted, I would close the door.

It was agreed, and Glaf and I executed it perfectly. Once the heat from the door dissipated enough, I entered the room. I looked around and discovered that my plan had worked to perfection. There were no living creatures in the room. I went through and collected weapons. Everyone was now armed. Glaf and I had bows, and the rest had a sword of some sort. We did not have any armor, but we could defend ourselves.

Without any armor, our paladin was still uncomfortable. She was not going to be herself until we could find her some clothes to wear. With that in mind, I made a sweep of the room, and found a few items in the nooks and crannies, but nothing of particular interest. In the center of the cavern, I noticed there was an adventurer at the bottom of the well. For a corpse, he looked good.

The well was deep and dark. It would take someone of remarkable dexterity to climb out of the well. Naturally, I was a perfect candidate for the job. Jean needed some clothes, and the man at the bottom could provide them. For Jean, I decided to risk being trapped down there to see if he any of his items were useful.

I climbed down into the well, and examined the good-looking dead adventurer. It was odd, as he was the best-looking corpse I had ever seen. I examined his armor, and discovered that it was enchanted. It made an attractive person more attractive. If I wore the thing, I would be unbelievable! However, it was bulky and uncomfortable. I could barely move in the thing.

I found the man's journal, and I read of his last days. He wrote:

   "I do not have much time left.  I have been trapped at the
bottom of this well for days.  I thought I would be able to
climb out of this well, but it is not to be.  It is just too
   "On the good side, the armor I found here makes me look
good.  I mean, I look REALLY good, and I will wear it until
my death.  I can hardly keep from looking at my reflection
in the water.  It will help me live up to my motto:
**Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.**
Even when I die, I will look nice with this fashionable armor.
   "That brings me to these mines.  I wonder what had
happened.  I woke up with nothing.  All my possessions were
missing when I arrived in these mines.  I could have used
some weapons when I fought my way to this room.  I saw this
armor in this well, and I had to have it.  This armor has
been my downfall.  I cannot get over how good I look in it.
   "I think I should have been leery of that wizard's offer.
What was I thinking?  I could have used some help clearing
out these mines.  Why did I try this on my own?  My
possessions would be useful right about now.  I hope no
one takes my armor..."

I apologized to the adventurer, but Jean needed the armor. It might affect her mobility, but at least her head would be with us. Furthermore, she would look stunning in this armor. It is too bad she is a lizard right now.

I hoped the added weight would not be a problem climbing out of the well. I briefly wondered if the adventurer could have made it out if he took the armor off. Sometimes these thoughts come to my mind.

I gave the adventurers journal to our cleric. I thought he would want to say a few words over our deceased comrade. We had a brief service for the fallen adventurer, and it was nice and somber.

Afterward, I gave the armor to Jean. She was happy to receive the uncomfortable armor to cover her. Once again, there was gratefulness in her eyes. However, it was still not the place for her to express her gratitude. Her smile was irresistible, so I gave her the adventures great sword. Engraved on the hilt was the name meurtrier de orceller. According to the knowledgeable sorcerer, it meant 'Orc Slayer'.

I wondered how that sword got here. Did some adventurers keep their equipment? Perhaps the magic-user taking adventurer's equipment and turning them into monsters is not always around. Perhaps we were unlucky in this regard. In Jean's capable hands, that sword would be extremely useful in a mine full of orcs.

Nevertheless, we had to move on. There would be plenty of time to think about these things later. They will probably come to mind just before Jean wants to thank me completely. The plan was going to be the same as the last door. I would sneak in and check the place out. It was going to be a long trip out of these mines.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 5: Orcs Carry Little Treasure

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Jean Dark was a little more comfortable wearing her new armor despite it pinching and rubbing in various places. She liked the fact that she was no longer naked. She did look good in it despite her being a lizard -- woman. Further, despite her altered appearance, I knew she wanted me. However, our lizard appearance and physiology were making physical manifestation of that desire difficult.

Be that as it may, we were making our way through these mines. We were looking for the wizard who transformed us to lizard people. I hoped that we could find this individual before long and retrieve our things. We would have to make due with the weapons we have scrounged. Jean had the 'Orc Slayer' that I gave her. This helped our situation greatly.

We were deep in these mines, and there were many creatures lurking in the shadows. As we explored the caverns, we tried to fulfill Nebrion's quest. That is, with each orc and monster killed, there was one less monster that could terrorize the city. Thus, our actions helped aid the city.

This portion of the quest was not important to me, as I was in it for the treasure. Thus, I quickly noticed that orcs carry little treasure. With each monster, I gathered in some more arrows, but not much else. Occasionally, an orc chieftain would have something special. Mostly, they just had little trinkets with almost no value. Every now and then, we would encounter an orc shaman who would have scrolls that our sorcerer, Glaf Hellion, could use. However, mostly we would gather a gold piece here, a gold ring there...

What upset me most about the situation was that I had to lead the way. At various places, there were traps. None of the others had the talent and skill to spot these. Thus, it was my job to make sure the way was clear.

In addition, I had to scout out orc locations and numbers. Thus, I was doing valuable reconnaissance work. This allowed our fighters to have a chance against the monsters. After each encounter, each member of the team would search the corpses for treasure.

Naturally, I did not complain about doing most of the work and not getting most of the reward. That is, what reward was to be found. I am not that type of person. I just did my job keeping everyone safe. Even though I did not join the group for some grandiose goal of helping people, I kept my displeasure to myself. I never mentioned my lack of reward to the team.

Nevertheless, I am here to tell the story of our adventure rather than discuss how unfairly the party treated me in the mines.

While deep in the mines, I did discover the living quarters of some of the orcs. We found a few trinkets in these small huts. To me it seemed that these were rewards for some action on their part. Orcs do not generally pillage corpses. They eat them sure, but they do not rob them of treasure. Thus, why would they have adventurer items?

From the adventurer items, we managed to armor many of our party. These items I graciously gave to the other members the items that I purloined from these huts. In fact, I obtained my dark armor from this area. It gave me some extra protection without compromising my sneaking skills. It was not much, but it was something.

We encountered several groups of orcs while trying to extricate ourselves from the mines. I judiciously used my arrows since my supply was spotty. I would take some arrows from corpses and occasionally from bow wielding orcs. Every now and again, I would retrieve some of my own arrows from dead orcs. This would not happen often, as they would be difficult to retrieve.

The mines were dank and dark. There was danger at every turn, and we worked our way through the tunnels. We cleaned out tunnel after tunnel from the monsters that may have been plaguing the town. We wound our way upward towards the exit of the mines. At least, I hoped that was what we were doing.

We wandered the mines for quite a long time. It could have been days. I just kept pressing us onward. Many orcs lost their lives as we wound our way out. Eventually, we found ourselves at a sturdy wooden door. I noticed a small light emanating from the other side of the door. Perhaps we were at the end of our journey.

We took our normal precautions. This means that I snuck into the room and looked around. This was a little more difficult as the room glowed. Glowing pits of molten lava surrounded the orcish dungeon. Clearly, much suffering had occurred in that room. However, I managed to stay in the shadows and was not spotted by the orcs that were guarding the room.

It appeared that we would not be free yet. We were going to have to fight our way through an orcish dungeon. There would be various well-armed creatures. With orcs, it is difficult to predict what type of thing goes on in their dungeons. We were going to have to fight our way out of this dungeon.

There was trouble too. I tried to return to our party, but it would not let me back through. I could not open the door behind me. Therefore, I had to wait and hope the team would figure out what had happened.

After what seemed like hours, the rest of the group joined me in the dungeon. It did make sense that prisoners should not be able to find their way into the mines. Thus, they had a one-way door at this point.

When the party joined me, they were ready to fight. Thus, we continued our battle with the monsters who had been plaguing Nebrion and the city.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 6: Prisoner Paul and the Mutants

By Douglas E. Gogerty

At first, it appeared that this orcish dungeon would be like all other dungeons. There were orcish guards doing what guards do. Thus, we had skirmishes with groups of guards. Needless to say, these orcs were surprised to see us, but they did not have a lot of time to consider it because they were soon dead. Jean and her orc-slayer made quick work of the guards with which we came in contact.

Gudrid, the ranger in our group, was getting a little anxious to leave the confines of interior spaces. Thus, we pressed on as best we could. As you may expect, there were several locked doors in this dungeon. Further, several of them had magical locks that I was unable to open. If we were going to get out of this dungeon, we were going to need a key. This did not sit well with Gudrid, but those were the facts.

Gudrid started trying every door we came across. That is when she discovered "it." The rest of us were just mopping up some guards and securing any treasure when we heard her give a blood-curdling scream. Glaf nearly fainted dead away at the sound, but managed to stagger to where the scream had emanated.

There stood Gudrid trembling at the sight of this -- thing. It was some fleshy-headed mutant. It stood at least 10 feet tall, and had two ghastly heads. One fleshy head was featureless, but had eyes that looked like two oranges stretching through a woman's silk stocking. The other head was bald and eyeless. It is difficult to describe, but it looked somewhat like a green turkey vulture's head. This second head appeared to emanate from the shoulder of the other's body.

At the juncture of this, protruded a single limb of some kind. On the end of this limb was a metal hook, which was remarkable agility. Clearly, it fed itself by hooking its food with this appendage and bringing it to one of its heads.

This creature had three more arm-like appendages. One of these arms stuck out the back of the creature and the other two hung by its sides. A ghastly talon with razor sharp claws terminated each arm. These claws would be dangerous if the beast could lower them enough to hit a human.

He was an awkward and unwieldy beast with no coordination. It had but two legs and was somewhat unsteady on those. It shuffled slowly towards our party and gave a most unsettling screech from one head while the other gave a low gurgling moan.

My description does no justice to the horror of the beast. Its smell alone would freeze any man in his tracks. However, after a few moments of hesitation, Jean jumped to action and relieved the monster of its burden of life. While it was a terrifying site, its appearance was much more frightening that its defenses and the huge beast toppled over with a thud.

"There are sinister forces at work here," declared our Paladin Jean.

"I have never seen an abomination like that," sobbed Gudrid.

"It is like some scientific experiment to put two bodies together and create a better fighting monster," added the sorcerer Glaf.

"It looks like a failed experiment," added Thorvald. "It had a terrifying look, but it had little skill in fighting."

"The smell of rotting flesh and chemicals may indicate that it is not truly dead," theorized Glaf. "We may have wounded it, but not mortally. It may be able to regenerate its vital body parts. I suggest we move on."

We agreed, and left the poor creature locked in the room that we found it. Gudrid and Thorvald said some words over the creature, and we continued our search for a way out of the dungeon.

With all of the things we had killed in this dungeon, not one had a key that we could use to open some vital passageways. It was beginning to look like we were trapped. That is, until I made a surprising discovery. I was checking every door, and I opened one particular door that appeared to be a cleaner's closet. There was a mop and bucket, broom, and some other cleaning supplies. I thought it was odd, so I investigated further.

On the floor of the tiny room, was a rug. That in itself is not unusual, but it struck me as odd. Thus, I pulled back one corner of the rug back, and it revealed a small trap door. When I reached into the compartment, my hand tingled and I felt something. With my lightning reflexes, I pulled my hand out without any damage.

Naturally, I was curious. Thus, I put my hand back into the compartment and there was a key in there. I felt the same tingling sensation as I pulled out the key. Again, there was a key in the compartment. Perhaps this compartment magically provided one with his or her deepest desires.

I cleared my mind and concentrated on producing something valuable. I have always wanted a 500-carat diamond, so I concentrated on that. Unfortunately, the compartment only produced keys. After a several unsuccessful attempts, each member of our party reached in the compartment and produced keys.

I hoped one of these keys would open previously unlocked corridors, and we were quite fortunate in this regard. It unlocked the first door we tried, and it led into a block of cells. Naturally, it was guarded, and we had to take care of some orcs. As usual, they were no match for our crew.

While most of the cells were empty, one cell had about a five naked people inside. I opened the cell, and it appeared that the prisoners were going to fight me. That is when I remembered that I still appeared as lizard person.

"Relax," I said. "My appearance is due to a spell. I am here to release you."

"Thanks friend," replied a prisoner representative. "My name is Paul, and this is my group of adventurers."

"Greetings Paul," I returned. "You may go free."

"As you can see friend, we are in no shape to go traipsing around this dungeon. We will wait."

"That is fair enough. Here is the rest of my group. This is Glaf, Gudrid, Thorvald, and Jean."

"Were you sent by that wizard Nebrion?"

"We were."

"I figured as much," replied Paul. "You look very much like we did several months ago."

"Have you seen any magic user who may be responsible for our plight?"

"I blame Nebrion, although I have no proof. There is some magic user lurking about but I have not seen him or her. They have asked our orcish guards to retrieve some of the other prisoners."

"Do you know what they are doing to those prisoners?"

"As far as I can tell, they are doing experiments. I think they have created various monsters. They have definitely created some undead. I have seen some zombies that resemble some of the prisoners that were in this cell block."

"You should be safe now."

"Do you have any items you would like to unload?"

"Do you have gold?"

"Well, Tonya is an excellent pick-pocket. She has been stealing gold from our orcish captors for quite some time. We have collected a large store which we are keeping in our escape tunnel."

We sold some of the items we had picked up along the way. It was a shame to put some clothes on Tonya, but she was glad to cover her nudity. We sold them armor and weapons. They were grateful for the items, and we were glad to rid our excess in exchange for some gold.

They were going to stay in the cells to make sure the coast was clear. We decided to rest in the cell. Tonya and I had a nice conversation before I took some well-earned sleep. After a good long rest, we parted company with Paul the prisoner and his group. We pressed on to get out of the dungeon.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 7: The Battle for the Armory and the Mechanical Monsters

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Gudrid, the ranger of the party was getting anxious to get out of the dungeon, so she was now leading the way. Traps? That is why we have a healer with us. At times, it was difficult to keep up with her. Nevertheless, we pressed on slaying orcs and other abominations.

Eventually, we came to a room with some stairs leading upward. However, an enormous mechanical monster guarded these stairs. Like one of the previous abominations we fought, it was at least 10 feet tall; however, unlike that beast, this monster could fight. He was quick and agile, as far as mechanical creatures go. Naturally, he was not as quick as I am.

One of the problems with fighting this golem was that my arrows were useless against it. I used my quickness and agility to distract the monster, while the others hacked away at its metal shell. Eventually, we managed to disrupt its circuits and immobilized it. Therefore, we were going to move up.

Gudrid ran up the stairs and through the door before I finished searching the room. The others followed her, but I finished my searching before continuing. When I made my appearance, they had already killed the zombies and abominations at the room at the top of the stairs.

The group was consoling Gudrid, as we were in another dungeon level. She was going to rush on, but the group convinced her to rest. Those brainy types sure need their rest. Therefore, I kept guard as the rest took a nap.

To while away the hours as they slept, I took an inventory of our gear. They accused me a snooping when informed them of the results of my study. Be that as it may, we were running out of projectiles. Some of the orcs carried arrows, but the zombies and abominations did not. Thus, we were beginning to use our arrows up. We needed to find the armory.

We now had conflicting interests among party members. Gudrid and her lackey Glaf wanted out of the dungeon; whereas, others needed weapon replenishment. Luckily for them, we stumbled upon the armory before it became a problem. However, unluckily, the armory was full of orcs.

There must have been 100 orcs in this room. When combat began, arrows were flying from all directions. I darted to a corner and concentrated my efforts on the bow-armed orcs. Thus, I provided a bit of cover for Jean and Gudrid as they hacked and chopped at various orcs.

Glaf found a spot where he could hide. Occasionally, he would come out of his hiding spot to throw a magic spell. Mostly, he would magic missile an orc that I had just killed.

Thorvald attempted to flank the orcs. He made his way around the left side of the room, and began attacking the orcs from the side. Thus, following his lead, I made my way around the right side of the room. Thus, we had the orcs in our crossfire as well as a frontal attack.

Gudrid and Jean were gradually making their way through the long column of orcs, but they were also taking damage. It is amazing how tough the young women were, but they would not be able to continue much longer without aid.

Thus, we put into practice our plan of assistance. Glaf conjured up an awful smelling cloud. I get nauseous just thinking about the concoction of his. Nevertheless, it is amazing as long as only engulfs the enemy. This provided enough cover and distraction to allow our cleric Thorvald to do his thing.

Thorvald did his "laying on of hands" thing, and Gudrid and Jean were back to full strength. Once they had full health; we returned to our positions and continued the battle.

Jean and Gudrid were creating a hallway where dead orcs lined the sides. Thorvald and I were beginning to make headway with the orcs firing arrows. Our crossfire was working as intended, but the orc armor and even their skin was quite tough. Thus, it took several arrows to kill them, and as I stated earlier, we were running out of arrows.

I was down to my last 10 arrows, when Gudrid and Jean reached the group of orcs using bows. These orcs did not have any close-order combat weapons, so Jean's orc-slayer sword, made quick work of them.

I had run out of arrows before the last orc was killed; therefore, I began searching before the battle was over. This upset some party members, but what was I to do? I managed to find the dungeon stockpile of arrows and other projectiles. I would have rejoined the battle, but it was over by that time.

We did a full search and fully armed ourselves. With the bow wielding orcs and the cache of arrows, I had more than enough now. Moreover, Thorvald had an ample supply. In addition, because it was an armory, the swords could be repaired and sharpened. It was such an important place to find, that Gudrid forgot her anxiousness.

However, I became anxious to leave this room. Since it was an armory, it was not a place to hang around. Others would come and look for weapons; thus, it was not a place to rest. It was quite an exhausting battle, but we would need to find a better place to rest.

Therefore, we pressed on. We fought more zombies and hideous creatures. With the ease that we worked our way through these monsters, I wondered if they were the battle-rejects. They were frightening, but were slow and not combat worthy. I felt that we were doing them a favor by relieving them of their burden of animation.

After several rooms and corridors, we once again found ourselves at the bottom of some stairs. Like the previous stairs, a mechanical monster guarded them. However, this one appeared to be larger and more formidable. In any event, our tactic was the same. I distracted the monster while the rest hacked at it.

They took their sweet time disabling this beast. I was dodging and running from it for what seemed like hours. I did a tuck and tumble here, and a jump and dodge there while the others chopped at its metal skin. Finally, when I was nearly exhausted they disabled the creature.

Someone else had to keep watch this time, as I was asleep moments after the golem hit the floor. I did not even search the room before resting that is how tired I was.

After a good rest, I searched the room but did not find anything. The rest of the group must have already searched the place. Those rats did my job. I forgave them for their actions and sat down next to Jean who was guarding us. She looked tired, so I told her that I would watch while she rested.

Once everyone was well rested, we gathered our things to continue out of the dungeon. What would we find at the top of the stairs? Would it be more dungeon? Would we have to fight more orcs? There was only one way to find out. Thus, we climbed the stairs and walked through the door at the top.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 8: Castle Cleaning Service

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Perhaps it was the pessimist in me, but I knew we were not going to emerge outside. Every dungeon has its castle. Thus, as we emerged from the dungeons, I was not surprised to find myself in a castle.

At this point, we had to make a decision. It was a castle of unknown size, but we were on a mission. We were sent to fulfill Nebrion's quest. That is, we were sent to eliminate some monsters that were pestering the town. If we left the monsters in this castle unmolested, we were shirking our duty. Thus, we voted on whether to clean out the castle, or search for the exit and leave.

Against my wishes, the group decided that we should fulfill our quest and eliminate the monsters in the castle. Since orcs do not carry much treasure, it was not going to be a profitable task. After all we have been through, I did not expect Nebrion to be true to his word and pay us handsomely. I have the feeling that he does not expect us to get back. Thus, accomplishing his quest is a waste of our time.

However, the do-gooders in the party felt that it was best to help the town. They had some altruistic motive to help the town for no reward. Since Jean was the primary representative for this point of view, I guess I could go along with her. She owed me quite a bit, and this was going to cement the deal.

Naturally, this meant that we needed to go from room to room and take care of any creatures in that room. It also meant that we had to look out for traps and needed someone to unlock doors. That is right; it meant that I had to lead the way. Sometimes, I cannot believe how much of a sucker I am.

The master or mistress of this castle is an interesting person. The first room we came to was a kennel of sorts. It was a regular room within the castle where there were many varieties of dogs. However, there were also wolves, direwolves, werewolves, and other varieties of canine monstrosities.

Gudrid felt sorry for the beasts being cooped up inside as they were. Thus, the pangs of guilt she may have felt for killing them were eased. She did get a few to fight on our side for a while, but the fight with their kin was too much for them. In the end, all of the beasts were put down.

Aside from the beasts, we also encountered some humans. Some bandits had taken up residency in a few of the rooms. They were a bit surprised to see us. I guess not everyday you find lizards in armor wandering through a castle. Moreover, we were excellent fighters and made quick work of them.

Personally, I like fighting bandits. Bandits like treasure, and there was plenty to be had from these groups. I was feeling less put upon with the trinkets I was collecting off these bandits. Gudrid was also less anxious. Perhaps she could see that we would be outside before long, and her spirits had picked up. Then again, perhaps it was just the dogs.

Apparently, all of the experimenting was happening in the dungeon. We did not have to fight any zombies or any type of abomination in the castle proper. In fact, we did not fight any orcs either. Apparently, the comfort of the surface was too much for orcs. Perhaps that is why some bandits infiltrated the castle.

We went through the castle room by room. In each room, we would take care of any occupants of that room. The castle was becoming free of all life. One room was infested with spiders and we took care of them. Naturally, these were not your ordinary bug eating spiders. These were huge man-eaters. In fact, a few bandits had fallen victim to these enormous arachnids.

Furthermore, rats had taken over the kitchen. Some of these rats were as big as dogs. There must have been plenty for them to eat. They probably would not have left the castle and terrorized the town, but it was a good deed to exterminate them.

We were a regular castle cleaning service. There was no pest too big or too small. We will take care of all of your problem vermin. Of course, they would need someone to clean up after us. We left the bodies where they died. This castle was going to smell something awful in a couple of days.

We were about to finish off the castle when we encountered them. There was a largish room down the hall from the kitchen. If this were a functioning castle, it would be the chief butler's quarters. It was off the main thoroughfare, but it had access to the entire house. This group had put there nest there.

When I opened the door, I was surprised to find lizard people. There was about a dozen nesting in this room designed for one. There was a slight shock and hesitation as the two groups of lizard people stared at each other. A moment later, Jean was in their midst swinging her orc slayer. Luckily for us, we could tell the difference between the groups. We were the ones wearing armor. They used their spears to great effect, but we did make quick work of them.

According to Gudrid, lizard people nest in warm spots close to food. The butler's room was on the south end of the castle, and it was quite warm. As for their choice of food, it was the rats. They were not like the iguanas I have read about that grow large by eating leaves, fruits, and vegetables. These were carnivorous.

We made our second run through the castle to make sure we had taken care of everything. While rats formerly overrode the kitchen, there was still plenty of unspoiled food there. Thus, we ate well that night and gathered plenty of provisions for our trip back to town.

Further, I got some alone time. I found an empty bedroom and claimed it for my own. What the others did was none of my concern. I would have liked it if Jean would have joined me, but I was tired. In addition, I am not very familiar with the female lizard anatomy. It may have been awkward if she had joined me.

We all had a good rest. In the morning, we ate another big meal and began our journey back to town. I sure hope someone knows which direction we should head, because I had no idea where we were.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 9: Gypsies, Were-cats, and Bears - Oh my!

By Douglas E. Gogerty

We were now outside. We were in the elements. The ranger in our party was quite happy now. I guess if she is happy, that is better for all of us. However, since we are now outside, we have a completely different set of problems. For instance, where do we go if it starts to rain? Gudrid may be happy sleeping in a puddle of water, but I would rather have a nice warm bed with a roof over it.

Not only that, but with four walls, you can be aware of your security when you rest. Out in the open, someone must keep watch. The spell casters need their rest to be able to concentrate when the time comes. That means that I always have a shift at the watch. Let me tell you, there is no money in that. Of course, I do not sleep that much anyway, but it is the principle of the thing.

Another thing about being outside is the change of encounters. I guess that is a good thing. I think I had my fill with orcs, abomination, and the like. However, now we can be walking along and a 14-foot tall grizzly bear will charge us. That changes your perspective in a hurry.

When we left the castle, we entered a pleasant forest glen. I do not know why someone named this forest 'Glen' but they did. It must have been some sort of lineman for the county.

It was good to see the sun again. A band of gypsy bandits halted our pleasant walk. Let me tell you, they were a grumpy bunch. We had just fought our way out of the mines, dungeon, and castle starting without weaponry, and now we faced some bandits who wanted all our things. Not to mention, we looked like lizard people.

This did not sit well with Jean. Paladins are like that. With her pleasant little lizard female roar, she cut through those bandits like a warm knife through rendered pork fat. Before Glaf could yell "Saleenus Salatt Ska" and bring down an ice storm, she had finished them off. Naturally, the ice storm came anyway.

I found out why these bandits were so desperate. They had nothing. They did not have a single gold piece with them. All they had were a few scraps of food. They should have packed up and left a long time ago. Dieing is not much of a way to make a living. Now they are going to feed the wolves.

After we took care of the gypsies, we continued our journey towards the town. We found a hidden trail and followed it. It led up a steep slope not far from the gypsy camp. After a short walk, we found a well-secured windmill and cabin. Well, that was until I got there. The owners put a tricky lock on the door, and they placed a trap on the door. This did its jobs of keeping those bandits out, but it was no match for me.

When we got inside, we had to fend off some spiders and rats. It appeared that the residents had not been there in quite a while. Thus, I thought we should make ourselves at home. I started a fire in the stove after I killed the spider that was living in the woodpile. We ate a nice meal and discussed strategy.

No one knew where we were. Thus, we had no clue where the town was. We did not think it would be far, but which direction should we go? I said we should go north. You always go north when you are lost. As usual, I was out-voted. For some reason, I have the feeling they do not trust me.

We were going to rest up in the windmill and then be on our way in the morning. They had a nice soft bed with an animal skin blanket. Since I was always on watch, I was taking the bed. I offered to share with Jean or Gudrid, but they declined the offer.

After we broke our fast in the morning, we headed south. We walked quite a distance, and we came to an enormous lake. Unless we were going to take the docked boat, we were not going to go any farther south. Naturally, I did not tell them that I told them so. I was a grownup about it. I would never gloat about being right. I would never smile smugly and taunt them.

We did search the boat for any maps of the area. Unfortunately, we only found navigational charts. Did anyone even know the name of the town we were looking for? How did we know it was not on the navigational charts if we did not know the name of the town?

Instead of arguing with them, I searched the rest of the boat. It was loaded with some local concoctions. On this ship, they had cases of ale, wine, and other spirits. The ship could be quite the party barge. Jean forbade me to take the alcohol, but what she does not know will not hurt her. It was a mighty tasty ale.

Since south was a dead end, we had to back track. Since this trip was all for naught, I suggested we spend another night at the windmill. However, they thought more gypsies would have shown up. So, instead we headed northwest to avoid the devastated gypsy camp.

I do not know why I bother to give suggestions. They just ignore them. Perhaps some day they will learn.

We walked for quite a while, and we came upon this ring in the forest. It looked like some sort of druid temple. However, it had been taken over for some nefarious purpose. Druids would not burn trees and spread the ashes in the shape of a five-pointed star.

In the center of the star was a foul smelling cauldron. Around the bubbling pot, strangely dressed humans danced and chanted. A couple of mechanical men guarded the temple. That was another sign these people were not druids.

I snuck in to get a closer look. I did not know what they were up to, but it certainly had to be trouble. Gudrid was incensed at the desecration of a druid temple, and before we could devise a battle strategy, she was off.

As the full moon came out, it was obvious what they were doing. They were were-people. Some were cats, some were wolves, and some were other strange creatures. That is just what we needed. We needed to fight a bunch of werewolves in this forest.

We had surprise on our side, and we made quick work of them. The golems were difficult, but Gudrid ignored them and went right after the worshipers. Jean, Thorvald and I pounded on the mechanical beasts while Gudrid and Glaf fought the others.

I was longing for the windmill as clouds began to roll in. The full moon had a ring around it, and that meant it would rain soon. There was no shelter to be found. We were going to get wet. What does Gudrid see in this great outdoors? I will take a nice inn any day. If this keeps up, I might go back to the orcish dungeon. Who knows what else we will find wandering about in the woods?

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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.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 11: Into the Inn and Out

By Douglas E. Gogerty

We had not walked very far when we emerged out of the forest. There it was, a ragged town surrounded by a wall. Perhaps it was the city we wanted, and perhaps not. None of us had seen it from this vantage point; however, everything pointed to this being the town where Nebrion was living.

As we approached the city wall, a bandit gang came out of nowhere and attacked us. Clearly, they were desperate because it looked as if there was no more wealth in the city. The group was gaunt, lean and ferocious; however, we were in no mood for them. We quickly and easily dispatched them.

To my surprise, after the skirmish, I smelled cooking food. Someone was stewing meat and vegetables. That could only mean one thing -- an Inn. There was still a functioning Inn near this town.

The group followed my nose, and I led them to the John St. George-Gogerty Inn. It must have been the first time they listened to me. Nevertheless, there was a quaint little inn nestled next to the exterior city wall. Moreover, it was open for business.

I rushed right in and ordered their finest ale from the barkeep. It is unusual for me to imbibe this early in the day, but it had been weeks. Further, the last ale I had was mediocre at best. I cannot comment on the taste of this ale because my palate was out of shape and turpentine would have tasted as sweet.

Once again, I had forgotten about my appearance, and the bartender did not give it a second thought. However, he began, "So you went on Nebrion's quest..."

I was a bit confused at first, but remembering my appearance I replied, "Why yes we have."

"I must say that you not the first to make it this far, but you look like you are none the worse for wear."

"Fortune has smiled upon us," I replied.

"May it continue to do so."

"Many thanks, may I ask you some questions?"

"I will do my best to answer, another ale?"

"Certainly," I replied draining the last of my first mug. "What can you tell me of Nebrion?"

"Not much. He has been quite free with the gold, but he is not one to spend it on pleasures. He has entertained some 'clients' in here. They were shady types. My guess is that he had been recruiting bandits as well as adventurers."


"He has been making a great deal of coin since the attacks on the city began. The city is in ruins, but he has a lucrative business of some sort."

"Where do you suppose he gets his wealth?"

"I cannot say, and I would not want to speculate about one of my occasional customers."

"I certainly understand. With the impending completion of the quest he has sent us on, we need to know how we could get up to see him?"

"He lives in a tower with no doors or stairs up. He sees guests by appointment only, and then brings them up himself."

"So, if we manage to get into the city, we may not be able to get up to see him."

"If you have fulfilled his quest," replied the bartender. "He would certainly let you in."

"Unless it would cost him too much," I mumbled to myself.

"What was that?" asked the bartender.

"Nothing," I responded quickly. "Who do we see about getting an appointment?"

"He has an apprentice who is in charge of such things. He lives on the first floor of the tower. Go see him."

"Thanks barkeep! The ale is fabulous."

I went over to where the group was speaking to a single adventurer. He was anxious to speak to us in private. The group asked me to accompany him to his room and find out what he wanted. They asked me because of my way with people.

We entered his room to where he could speak freely. "Are you trying to see Nebrion?" he began.

"We have business with the wizard," I replied.

"He is not expecting you."

"I should think not, but we have completed his quest."

"Has your appearance taught you nothing?"

"I am used to looking like this now. I may keep it."

"Very well, I have information to help you get in to see Nebrion."

"What kind of information?"

"I know of a way to get in to see him without making an appointment."

"What is it going to cost?"

"My sister Tanya went on one of Nebrion's adventures and I have not seen or heard from her in quite some time."


"I would like to see Nebrion dead. That is all I ask."

"Give me your information, and we may oblige you. However, I have information for you."

"Let us exchange."

"Very well," I agreed.

"The previous owner of Nebrion's tower had a magic rug to get her in and out of the tower. When Nebrion took over, he had no need for the rug and gave it his apprentice to destroy. This individual cut the rug into four pieces and sold the pieces. These pieces were spread across the realm. If you collect them, you can put them together and use the rug to enter his tower."

"Do we look like rug repair people?"

"Nebrion has forgotten that the repairing device remains in his tower. You just need to collect the four bundles and place them in the machine."

"Where can I find these bundles?"

"I know of one that is close, but first your news of my sister."

"If your sister is an attractive rogue traveling with a man named Paul, she is safe. We came across their party several days ago. They should be coming into town in a few days."

"Are you sure?"

"We sold the group our excess equipment, and we cleaned out the dungeon in which they were held. They were hungry, but were in good health."

"Here is a bundle," the adventurer said as he pulled a bundle from his chest. "This is a genuine piece of the rug. However, the apprentice did create a few counterfeit bundles. Unless you are good at identifying carpeting, you may collect more than four bundles. One it is rumored to be guarded by a Minotaur."

"Thank you stranger. This may be of some service."

I did not tell him that we had already collected the fragments being guarded by the Minotaur.

I reported to the rest of the group about what I had learned. They were relieved that it was indeed the correct city. It was indeed Nebrion's tower, which we could see on the other side of the wall.

I also informed them about the magic rug that would allow us entry. Thus, if we did not wish to advertise our entry, we had an alternate method of entry.

We spent a nice evening in the inn. It was going to be another night in a bed -- alone. I was beginning to look forward to returning to human form. We would explore the wall in the morning.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 12: Nather Reynolt and the Temple of Tragedy

By Douglas E. Gogerty

The city was in bad shape, but it did have one thing going for it. All along the outer wall, there were powerful magical traps. I could not disarm them. These were likely traps set by Nebrion. If you triggered one, it could cut you into pieces. They were at least some protection for the townspeople.

Thus, we carefully made our way along the wall just outside of the range of the traps. We were looking for the statue that would allow us entry into the city. Otherwise, we would have to fight the guards to get in, and we did not wish to do this poor town any more harm.

We did have to duck some arrows fired by townspeople as we went along, but eventually we came to a statue. It was of a beautiful female warrior in full armor. At the base was the inscription, "Welcome to Monkalakaboomistan".

"That was the name of the city?" I thought to myself. "No wonder no one knew what it was..."

The trap by the statue, unlike the others, had a flaw in it. Anyone could disarm it, so I took the liberty. This allowed us to get close enough to the statue to read anything engraved upon it.

The inscription under the welcome banner described in great detail the enormous battle fought here by the founder Leela. She destroyed the orcish hoards and was protector of the city. In retrospect, it was a sad tale as the orcs were striking back.

After everyone was satisfied in reading the entire history of the city, the group climbed the back of the statue and followed me through the small breach in the wall. We were now in the city.

However, this city was constantly on the lookout for attacking creatures. If a citizen spotted us, they would attack. At the very least, they would sound the alarm and the city guards would come after us. We needed to be careful.

Near our entry point stood a large looming structure. It appeared to have withstood many attacks. Thorvald deduced from its position and architecture that it was the temple. He suggested we seek sanctuary within. We agreed and snuck our way into the temple.

Fortunately, no one saw the clumsy and obvious lizard people enter the temple. However, once inside a cleric spotted us and yelled, "Be gone reptilians! There is nothing here for you!"

"May peace be with you," replied Thorvald. "I am the most revered cleric Thorvald Larsenski of the Cygnus Clan. These are my compatriots. We mean no harm."

"Your response is surprising," he said with obvious astonishment in his voice.

"You will find us most surprising," I replied.

"We are adventures under a powerful spell," added Thorvald. "We seek a cure."

"It is powerful magic indeed; however, I do not believe this temple can be of any service."

"Why not?" implored Jean.

"Sorry milady," started the cleric with a slight bow. "I am Nather Reynolt, and I am the sworn protector of this temple. All of the clerics, apostates, healers, visiting pilgrims, and individuals of that sort have gone. I am all that is left. I have no power over such curses."

"What can you tell us of the wizard Nebrion?" enquired Glaf.

"Nebrion is the sworn protector of our fair city -- so he says."

"Do you not believe him?" asked Gudrid.

"My belief is of no import. I am the protector of the Temple of the Healing Waters and Chief Cleric of the Protecting Arts here. External politics is not my realm."

"What *can* you tell us of Nebrion?" I prodded.

"Adventurers have come from far and wide to aid our city. Not one has been successful, but Nebrion has grown wealthy. The town is in ruins and few visit the temple. Study in the temple has ceased as the town further decays. Yet, Nebrion does not do anything but grow fat."

"He has a protective shield around the town walls," defended Glaf.

"Yet you, a group of reptilian looking individuals managed to thwart his defenses without so much as a scratch. No, Nebrion's main concern are his own and not the town in general."

"Thank you for the information." Thorvald said. "Is there anything we can do for you to show our thanks?" I tried to shush Thorvald as those words came out of his mouth, but I was unsuccessful.

"The temple has been invaded by numerous unsavory types. If you could ask them to leave, I would greatly appreciate it."

"What *kind* of unsavory types?" I asked because these cleric types like to leave out lots of details.

"There is a large band of orcs in the front hall that are preparing for an assault on the town. I would like them to go back to their home peacefully."

"Is that all?" I muttered under my breath. "Anyone else?"

"We are often plagued with large numbers of curst beings. If you could explain to them that until the temple is back in order, there will be no help for them. If you could do that it would be most kind of you. Otherwise if you could get them to try another place, it would be of a great help to me."

"Is there anything *else* you would like from us? Perhaps the crown jewels of Maplevania..." I suggested without an ounce of sarcasm in my voice.

"I can think of nothing. Please help yourself to the healing waters from our fountain."

"Thank you for your kindness," replied Thorvald.

"Oh!" Nather added. "The fountain waters attract many Water Elementals, they do not like interlopers interrupting their baths, take care not to disturb them. The baths are right next to the fountain room."

"If we are attacked are we allowed to fight back?" asked Gudrid.

"By all means," replied Nather. "The entire flock has left the temple. I am the only true believer here, so everything and everyone else is fair game. There are rats in the kitchen and perhaps some spiders here and there. You may dispense of them at your whim. If anything attacks, you may defend yourselves and that includes the Elementals."

"And..." I muttered.

"Oh, and once you have cleared the temple and head out to Nebrion's tower, please take care not to harm our citizenry. They have suffered greatly and they may attack you on sight because of your reptilian attributes."

"Are you sure you are not forgetting anything?" I asked attempting to hide my distaste for his long windedness.

"Let me think. Healing waters... Beware of bathing elementals... Rats and spiders... Do not harm citizens outside of temple... Did I tell you to enjoy your stay in our fair city?"

"No," answered Thorvald.

"Well then," Nather replied. "Enjoy your stay in our fair city!"

After speaking with Nather, we gathered to discuss our next move. I suggested that we partake in the healing waters and leave. We did not owe Nather that much for his help, and cleaning out this large temple from all of the riff raff would be way overdoing it in giving him thanks.

Naturally, they decided not to take my advice. They wanted to help the town more and make sure they had a safe temple to visit. Further, if there were orcs here it would be part of our quest to eliminate them. Thus, it looked like we were going to spend the day cleaning out this temple of tragedy.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 13: Water, Water Elementals Everywhere...

By Douglas E. Gogerty

I held out small hope that the healing waters would remove our reptilian forms, so I suggested that we first look for the fountain. Further, if we did run into any ruffians after we found the fountain, we could return readily to partake of the healing water. In my astonishment, the group agreed with me.

The only issue is that we did not know where the fountain could be located. We dare not ask the talkative Nather, so naturally when I suggested a direction, we went the opposite way.

We were standing in a main room in the temple. It was a very large room on the south side. A wall emanating from the north end divided a third of this room. Most of the rooms were secured behind wooden doors. In the northwest corner of this main room was an open passageway. We headed this direction. There was no need to follow the splashing sounds I heard to the southwest.

They asked me to go and scout it out. I refused. If they were going to continue to disregard my input, I was not going to stick my neck out for them. If my only value was the ability to sneak into places, then I was done. I have a full compliment of skills that were not being used to their full potential, and I was tired of having my input ignored.

They apologized and explained that they wanted to explore all of the open areas before they started opening doors. I asked, "What happened to the whole 'find the fountain first' strategy?"

They made up some story about believing the fountain to be out in the open. To me, that made no sense. If the temple guardians had a valuable resource, they would put it behind a lockable door and perhaps guard it if circumstance allowed. You do not set your valuables out so that anyone could take them. Apparently, they have not paid any attention to what I have been doing on this quest.

I still refused to scout the corridor, so Jean rushed headlong down the hall. Her battle cry and the clash of sword on armor indicated that we should come to her aid. The remaining group rushed down the hall to find Jean surrounded by several cursed beings.

Instantly, we jumped into action to aid her. I let loose bolt after bolt from my crossbow. I fired as fast as I could because there were dozens of cursed joining the fight.

Glaf unleashed several magic spells and Gudrid jumped to Jean's side with her sword. As best he could, Thorvald fought the monsters and gave aid to the battling females. We had a tough fight on our hands.

The cursed warriors seemed to come out of the woodwork. When one would fall, it seemed like two had taken its place. Jean's sword would inflict a wound on one and she wound up striking another moments later.

Gudrid swung her sword at a frantic pace. She hacked and slashed at the beast as she worked her way to Jean's side. She used her shield to push the beasts aside and they would fall back to be hit with a sword or with one of my bolts.

These beasts often inflict fear upon their combatants, but we stayed strong. Thorvald ran off into a corner a few times when fear overcame him, but we did our best to keep the cursed away from him. Eventually he would gather up his courage and rejoin the fray.

I ran from position to position reloading my crossbow and firing. I would let loose arrows from different directions around the melee. I would take out a cursed warrior here and a cursed mage there. They never got close enough to frighten me.

The smell was atrocious. The rotting flesh of the cursed combatants was strong, but when they were mortally injured, they would release a malodorous gas from their wound. This gas stung the eyes and it was being released in great quantities around the room.

The melee seemed to end as quickly as it had started. Around the room, the corpses were releasing their gasses and vanishing. The room reeked of sulfur. Thorvald had used all of his healing power to keep Gudrid and Jean fighting. In addition, he had a few injuries he sustained by being so close to the combat. Further, Jean was poisoned in the battle and Gudrid was badly injured. On the other hand, I did not have a scratch on me.

It was at this point that they listened to my advice. They followed me as I followed the sound of the water. The sound seemed to be coming from behind two doors. I let Glaf choose the door.

I opened the door to find a tiled room with a large L-shaped pool in the center. It was decorated with urns and plants. It had a finely marbled floor and frescos on the walls. Gudrid rushed in to drink the water.

I shouted, "No, this is not...", but I was too late.

The water elementals sprang from the pools to attack. They were not pleased with Gudrid disturbing their bath. I rushed in and pulled Gudrid out. I pushed the entire party out of the door and closed it behind me. I took the full brunt of the attack and saved the party from certain annihilation.

I did not know if the door would hold back the irate elementals, so I opened the next door and ushered everyone inside. This room had a bubbling fountain in the center. Like the other room, it had a marble tiled floor, but it was otherwise unadorned. I instructed everyone to drink of the waters from the fountain and quickly.

I felt a tingle throughout my body and could hear the hum as the waters did their magic. While we were all still reptilian - to my dismay - the party looked as if it were fully restored. Even Jean's poison was removed from her system. It was none too soon, as the water elementals stormed into the room.

The elementals give the temple's fountain its healing property. However, they do not like to be disturbed by humans or other creatures. Thus, they send their minions to fight when they are disturbed. These water elementals are impossible to harm without magic of some sort.

Jean's orc-slayer sword had no effect upon them. She had a short sword of shocking which she used because it had some effect upon the elementals. Glaf had used many of his spells in the last bout so he had little magic left. Gudrid's sword had some magical properties, but these creatures were tough. It looked like we would be in for another tough battle. Luckily, the fountain was right there, thus if we were badly injured we could drink and be healed.

We fought the elementals for quite a long time, but we managed to stay alive and defeat them. I do not know about the rest of the group, but I had more than my fill of water. I needed to find a large chamber pot or some other large vessel. The healing waters had run their course and wanted to continue their cycle.

I was not the only one in this situation, and I reasoned that the goal of this mini-quest would not be far. Using my keen senses, I found the location of the privies. To be honest, I found the sign for them. They had separate ones for males and females, and we each entered our prospective rooms. That is to say, the women would not let me join them.

Once that emergency was resolved, we decided to leave further exploration of the temple until the next day. We had fought two difficult groups and we were all exhausted. We thought of asking Nather where we could sleep, but we decided it was best just to claim a spot and rest.

I took first watch because I was certain that I would need to alleviate myself of some excess water in a few hours anyway. We found some benches along the center wall of the main room, and camped out.

It was an uneventful night despite the many trips to the four-holer by the group members. That healing water runs right through you sometimes.

When everyone had as much rest as they needed, we broke our fast with some of our remaining provisions. We finally consumed the last of the salted pork. It was an excellent pig, but it was now all gone.

After breakfast, we went looking for the orcs. They actually took my advice on directions, and I led the party right to them. After all, orcs are easy to smell, and with a little intuition, you can determine where they are staying.

The orcs were gathered in a large room in the center of the temple. It had no windows and it had only one door. It was a dark and musty room exactly to the liking of the orcs. They looked to be waiting for some sort of signal to make their attack, and they were quite restless.

They were not restless for long, as we rushed into the room and made quick work of their hoard. Jean's orc-slayer sword sang as each orc fell. The orcs anxious for battle jumped at the chance, but were the first to fall at the hands of our party. With the single door, they could not escape and even Glaf killed a couple orcs.

With the orcish threat removed, we continued to explore the castle. We encountered a few cursed warriors and a couple of bandit groups, but none in any great numbers. We cleaned out a spider's nest or two and we killed the rats in the kitchen.

For our trouble, we -- er -- I cleaned the kitchen out of a few badly needed provisions. With the last of the salt pork gone, we needed to restock our stores, and we did the temple a great favor. There was no need to speak to Nather about it.

We were going to spend one more night in the Temple before going out into the town. The temple was now safe, and we could use a good rest if we were ever going to finish this quest. In the morning, we would further explore the city of Monkalakaboomistan.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 14: Meet the Flannigans

By Douglas E. Gogerty

When everyone was fully rested, we broke our fast with what little was found in the Temple's kitchen. After all, we did not want to use up our provisions. It was a satisfying meal, and we were all ready to take on the day.

We knew that Nebrion's tower was to the west of the temple, so when we exited the temple we were going to head west. Everyone agreed on that plan. We filed out the exit farthest from the gate. We did not want to attract the attention of the city guard.

Our procession was like a ghost being followed by a mummer's parade. I do not think they could have been any more obvious. I do not know why they just did not break into song or shout for the guards.

I heard some shouting, so I ushered the group into the nearest available house. I just hoped that no one put up the "Hey! we are in here" sign. We did not need to be fighting with townspeople in this small house.

Upon entering the house, we noticed a dead man on the floor. He had not been dead very long as his body was still warm. After a bit more searching, we found a woman in the kitchen. "No more," she gasped as she took her last breath when Thorvald discovered her.

"They are still in here," Thorvald whispered to Jane.

"Upstairs," I guessed. "Quietly now!"

I snuck up the stairs in utter silence. There were six bandits ransacking the bedrooms looking for treasure. I signaled for the rest to join me, and they rushed up the stairs like a heard of cows.

The bandits must have been significantly distracted, as they did not hear them until they burst into the one bedroom. It was too late for them as Gudrid made quick work of them. Jean took on the group in the second bedroom and I just watched.

As we were searching and disposing of the bandits, Thorvald went down to the first level and did his thing.

"Please, we do not have much." said the man as Thorvald restored him.

"Peace be with you sir," replied Thorvald. "Do not fret my appearance. My comrades and I are under a spell and not reptilian at all."

"My wife? Where is my wife?" enquired the man.

"Wait here and I will bring her forthwith," replied Thorvald.

"No more," said the woman.

"Peace be with you madam," replied Thorvald. "Your husband awaits you in the front room."

The woman, with an astonished look on her face, entered the front room of their house in wobbly legs. "What happened?" she asked.

"Bandits," started her husband. "I remember bandits breaking into our home."

"They will bother you no more," responded Thorvald.

"I am Mark Flannigan, and this is my wife Laurie."

"I am the most revered cleric Thorvald Larsenski of the Cygnus Clan," our cleric replied. "My compatriots and I have business with Nebrion and we came upon you in a state of distress. It was my sworn duty to aid you."

When Thorvald said the name Nebrion, the Flannigans gave a frightened glance to each other. "We owe you a great deal cleric Larsenski," Mr. Flannigan stated graciously. "Whatever we have is yours."

"Your offer is most kind sir, but I can accept no payment for this deed."

"Thorvald, if I may interrupt," I said. "May we have a word with you in private?"

"Certainly," he replied. "My comrades and I must confer on what it is we should do next. Please forgive us, and I shall return shortly."

I escorted Thorvald up to the upstairs hall. "We found this," I said to Thorvald as I handed him a hand written piece of paper.

"What is this?" he asked.

"We hoped you would be able to read it," replied Glaf. "I could only make out the word 'Nebrion' from it."

"It is written in an ancient script, but the writer is unfamiliar with the syntax. It is likely used to conceal the actual content from unknowing eyes."

"And...?" I asked impatiently.

"It is difficult to decipher; nevertheless, these men do work for Nebrion that is for certain."

"What were they doing here?" asked Gudrid.

"Oh Flannigans!" exclaimed Thorvald ignoring Gudrid's question. "That is that the meaning of those glyphs."

"And...?" I asked even more impatiently than before.

"I beg your forgiveness," responded Thorvald. "Essentially the note reads, 'Flannigans suspect - look like orcs. Nebrion' That is the best I can decipher."

"I am beginning to think that Nebrion does not have this city's well-being at heart," responded Glaf.

"No! Really?" I said without a bit of sarcasm in my voice.

"If you please my comrades," Thorvald said. "We should leave these fine people's house and continue on with our journey."

"With pleasure," I replied.

"And," Thorvald added. "Please leave all items found upon the bandits with the Flannigans. They have suffered greatly this day and we should not compound their grief."

"Agreed!" responded Glaf without consulting anyone.

"What?" I asked.

"I said 'Agreed'," Glaf said as forcefully as he could muster.

I stifled my laughter of Glaf attempting to be tough, but I had not collected much in the house in the first place. Thus, I agreed to their request with only a little prodding from Jean.

We bid the Flannigans farewell and left them with the little they had. However, they insisted that we take a bundled of rug fragments they had collected. Without speaking of it, they had known what Nebrion had done, and they knew that we were their best hope of saving the town. Thus, they aided us in our quest the best way they knew how.

The mummer's parade continued towards Nebrion's tower and lo and behold, some townspeople spotted us. The city's inhabitants were attempting to save their homes, and we did not wish to harm them, so we ran.

We wanted to head towards the tower, but that way was cut off. Thus, I led the party into a large estate northeast of the tower. This estate had a large wall surrounding it, but the front gate was open. I closed the gate behind us and directed the group into the large house. The front door of this house was also unlocked and we went right in.

The house was quite large and it looked as if its occupants had packed and left in a hurry. There were webs and dust in great quantities all over the entryway to the house. With the uproar that we had caused, someone -- read me -- mentioned that we stay in this house for a while until the town quiets down.

"While we're here," suggested Gudrid. "We might as well have a look around."

How did I know that was coming? We could not just sit and rest in the front room of this mansion. No, we had to poke our noses into everything. At least it was something to do.

In the first room we explored, it smelled of death. When we entered, we saw a large group of rats gnawing on a pile of bones. They looked quite hungry, so they naturally turned their attentions upon us.

We made quick work of the rats, but we were unable to determine what it was they were gnawing. The body had decayed far too long ago for any of us to determine what it was. It could have been a person, or orc, or even a dog. We just could not tell.

Many of the rooms were like the first. We fought many rats. To mix things up a bit, a group of spiders or other insects would attack us. It was beginning to appear as if this house was devoid of human life.

Suddenly, we stumbled into the kitchen where a large group of bandits where hiding. I do not know which group was more surprised. They had probably been fending off rats for quite a long time and in walks a group of lizard people.

They were a very experienced band and were excellent fighters. However, they were no match for Gudrid and Jean. They fell readily at the feet of our experienced fighters. With a bit of magic thrown in and a crossbow bolt here and there, the bandits were soon vanquished.

They were sitting on a small cache of supplies. It was not much, but we could make a fine meal out of them. Clearly, with all of the rats about, they constantly had to guard their stores.

I could tell we were getting cavalier with our actions, as we did not give a second thought about other bandits. That is why we were quite surprised when they walked in while we were dining on their supplies.

As they rushed in, I distracted them by running at them. I turned and they attempted to catch me as I raced around the room. This gave Gudrid and Jean a chance to leisurely swallow their last bites and wash it down with a little wine. I think they may have even stretched out a little before jumping into action.

This group of bandits was not as experienced as the last group, and we dispatched them in short order. Before we returned to our feast, we decided to check out the remainder of the house.

Luckily, we did not encounter any more bandits. We did run into plenty of rats, and a few spiders. If I had owned this place, I would have moved away also. It was crawling with creatures.

In the entire house, we only found one locked room. Not only was it locked, but a trap was guarding the door. We all thought that this was quite odd. Naturally, the trap and the lock were no problem for me. I easily opened the door and went inside the room.

It was a very small room with a chest along the far wall. This chest was guarded by three helmed horrors in full plate. Whatever was in that chest was important to somebody. However, before we could examine a treasure of such magnitude, we had a fight on our hands.

These armored specters were not going to be easy to get by. They were quickly upon us, and my bolts were useless against them. Thus, I was once again used as a distraction as the ghosts chased me around the room.

Thorvald was quite effective in this fight. His magic was quite useful against spirits of this nature. Jean and Gudrid had to resort to their less effective magical swords. Thus, we fought these horrors for quite a long time.

Eventually, they did succumb to our weapons and I unlocked the chest with the valuables in it. Inside was a bundle of rug fragments and nothing else. While I understood that we could potentially use the rug, I was quite disappointed in the contents of the chest.

We now had four rug fragments, so if we got into the tower, we could possibly gain entrance to Nebrion's room without his knowing. However, I would have liked to see a little gold or some jewels in the chest.

Quite satisfied that the house was secure, we returned to our meal after fighting off some rats of course. Rats -- why did it have to be rats? Why not snakes or some other creature?

It was well into the night when we had finished everything. Thus, we decided to rest in this house. I found a quite comfortable room, which would have quite comfortably slept two. However, the women thought it best to keep guard. It was their loss.

In the morning, we would push on to the tower no matter what. If we had to slice through every citizen of this town, we were going to make it to the tower. I was well passed ready to shake the dust off my boots and leave this crumbling town. I slept quite soundly.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 15: Remember, Do Not Kill Anyone

By Douglas E. Gogerty

I was rested and ready to go before any of the other members of our adventuring crew. Thus, I took the opportunity to scout out our way. Unfortunately, many of the townspeople looked to Nebrion for protection. Thus, his tower was surrounded by townsfolk who would not look to kindly on a band of lizard people marching up to their benefactor's dwelling.

Further, our party had the sneaking skills of elephants wearing jingle bells. Therefore, if we were going to get into Nebrion's tower, we would need a plan. We could have sliced through the entire town if we wished, but some in our group would frown upon such actions. We needed a diversion.

I reentered the abandoned mansion and waited for the rest of the group to rouse. Those sorcerers need their beauty rest. When everyone was gathered in the entryway, I detailed the situation.

Somehow, I supposedly volunteered to be the distraction. After all, I was the quickest and I could definitely lose the chasers without resorting to combat. Nevertheless, volunteering for such a mission, does not sound like something I would do. However, that is what was claimed.

"Remember, do not kill anyone," Jean pleaded.

The next order of business was entry to Nebrion's tower. It was doubtful that Nebrion would leave the lower level of his lair unlocked. The group would need to gain entry as quickly as possible without my aid in picking the lock.

That is when Thorvald spoke up. He made up some story about talking to Nather back at the temple. Thorvald stated that Nather happened to mention that he had a key and gave it to him. My take on the story is that Thorvald stole it from somewhere and was hesitant to admit that. Nonetheless, he claimed to have a key to Nebrion's tower. That certainly simplified things.

Once the plan was worked out in full, I used my stealth to circle around the tower. I looked back at the mansion and received the go-ahead signal. I walked up to one of the citizens and gave a mighty roar. It startled the entire group who began shouting oaths at me. Without retorting their silly statements, I ran towards the mansion and the citizens chased after me.

As was the plan, I ran past the mansion with the townsfolk in hot pursuit. Naturally, I was not running at full speed so they would think that they could catch me. In fact, a few times I pretended to stumble on a stone, which made me slow down and allow them to catch up.

Everything was working according to plan. I had a mob following me, and the group successfully entered Nebrion's tower. It was time for me to lose the crowd and join my cohorts in the wizard's lair.

I ran down around a few buildings with the crowd close to my heels. I was just about to shake them, when I ran into another group of citizen's at the market. They too joined in the chase. At least thirty citizens with various implements of death were now chasing me.

I ran a couple of times around the city square with the screaming mob behind me. I let them get close, and I ran down an alley. I wished I knew this town better, because I really did not have an escape route planned. The alley turned out to be a dead end. It looked as if I was in for it. I would have to fight my way out.

The crowd had appeared to grow with each step. There were probably forty citizens and several town guards, and there I was, trapped in a blind alley with no way out.

Fortunately for me, I have great acrobatic skills. I ran at the wall in the back, and at the corner, I vaulted up to the second story and caught a drainpipe. It looked like I just walked up the wall and grabbed the pipe. I went hand over hand along the building and above the crowd below. They shot arrows at me, but none hit their mark.

There was a window on the second floor of one of the buildings and pulled myself up and went inside. There was a beautiful young woman there brushing her long brown hair. She had a plain nightgown on and she had the most striking blue eyes. For a moment, I had forgotten myself, but her bloodcurdling scream reminded me that I was still reptilian.

I bolted out of her room to find her younger brother attempting to aid his sister. I leaped over him, and dashed down the stairs. Her mother and father had stirred to see what the matter was, and I flew past them like a streak of lightning.

I crashed through their front door and ran as fast as I could. I zigzagged my way back to Nebrion's tower with not one citizen at my heels. I enter the unlocked tower to find my adventure mates sitting around in Nebrion's front room.

They had not done one thing beside unlock Nebrion's front door and walk in. They did not speak to Nebrion's apprentice to make an appointment. No, they just "waited for me."

Knowing how quiet they could be, I would not be surprised if Nebrion had notified the entire town of our presents at his residence. I was certain that all of my running would be in vain as the mob would burst into the tower at any moment.

In an effort to assuage my fears, Thorvald used his key to lock the door. I must say, that little gesture completely put my mind at ease. Nebrion, who could teleport a group of adventurers hither and yon, would be completely unable to unlock his own door remotely. I felt utterly safe.

My fears aside, the group decided to knock on the door that had a sign reading 'Apprentice' in an effort to continue our quest. On the other side of the door we hear, 'Bar Selonis Lo Kat!' which was not the 'Who is it?' we had hoped for. Glaf tried to open the door but found it locked.

I heard the incantation of another spell, so I decided I would open the door. It was a simple lock, and if it was meant to keep us out, they should have used a better lock.

I opened the door and there appeared to be three apprentices there. They did not ask us to explain our presence; one of them just shot a fireball at us. It did not appear they were in a friendly mood. We were going to have to do this the hard way.

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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.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 17: The Mighty Paladin Screams

By Douglas E. Gogerty

We had a good rest in the entry of Nebrion's tower. Once again, I slept alone in a nice bed. Nebrion's apprentice did not have any use for hers, so I helped myself. None of the ladies accepted my offer to join me, so I slept well.

There were still plenty of places in Nebrion's tower to explore. We had not opened the door at the back of the room with the carpet-mending machine. That was the only place that we had not attempted. Whatever we were looking for had to be behind that door. Naturally, Nebrion also had one of his henchpeople put a trap on it. It was clear that there were places in Nebrion's tower he did not want people to go. Clearly, beyond this door was one such place.

I easily disarmed the spike trap, and unlocked the door. It would have kept out your ordinary peasants, but it was no match for the likes of me. Once the door was open, we still had plenty of work ahead of us.

As Gudrid opened the door and Jean stood at the ready, a pack of tiger-headed rakshasas attacked us. These creepy demons seemed to spring out of the woodwork as we were quickly surrounded.

Each one attempted to cast a spell or another, but before they could finish, Jean or Gudrid's sword stroke or a bolt from my crossbow interrupted them. However, with cat-like moves they would pounce to a new location. This kept us in continuous action. In fact, we were beginning to wear down when the first one fell.

When that first rakshasa disappeared in a puff of smoke, it began a chain reaction. A second fell and then a third. Puff of smoke followed puff of smoke until there was nothing left but a pile of rakshasa eyes. The cat eyes left behind were creepy, but the puff of scent they left behind had a hint of lavender. Not one member of the party was expecting that.

In all of the commotion, we had not even had a chance to look at the room. Like all wizards' rooms, this one was lined with bookshelves. I think these sorcerer types wish to give the impression that they are knowledgeable. However, does anyone look at the titles? They could all be "The Loves of Lady Chatterford" or "William and Theodore's Excellent Adventure". They might not be tomes of learning at all.

Continuing to look around the room, I spotted in the back corner a stairway leading up. That was a good sign. Perhaps this was the way to get farther into the tower. The only problem with this route is there was an enormous red dragon blocking the way.

The dragon did not move towards us. Perhaps it was blind, deaf, or both. We were certainly making enough noise. I told Glaf that since he did not have any luck with the apprentice, perhaps he should ask the dragon to dance. He was not amused.

Jean and Gudrid prepared themselves to fight the mighty dragon. They had collected some potions during our trip, and these would immunize them against almost anything the dragon could throw at them. They were suddenly fearless and fast. They took potions to toughen them and make them stronger. When we were all ready, we struck.

With the first blows of Jean and Gudrid, the dragon fell. I think it was depressed and just committed suicide. It did not put up a fight at all. Further supporting this conjecture was the lack of treasure. This dragon had none. It was the saddest excuse for a dragon ever.

Glaf guessed that it was simply a trick by Nebrion to scare us off. Glaf continued to speculate that Nebrion was concentrating all his efforts out in the city and had little magic left for internal defenses. Glaf sure knows how to rain on a good parade.

With the "mighty" dragon vanquished, I ran up the stairs to find another trapped and locked door. While this door was a little trickier than the last, it was still no match for my skills. I had the trap off and the door unlocked in no time. However, I was going to let one of the women go first. "Ladies first" is my motto.

Jean rushed up the stairs, opened the door, and rushed into the room. She gave a horrified shriek that caused us to rush up to help. No one had ever heard our mighty paladin scream like that. When we reached the top, we found her covered in rats. There were dozens. Perhaps, there were as many as one hundred. It was very creepy and I excused her for her scream.

Nevertheless, they were just rats. They were not rodents of unusual size. They were simply "run of the mill" rats. There were lots of them, but one strike and they were dead. In fact, I got out my dagger and short sword to help exterminate them.

It is surprising how tiring it is to kill that many rats. I was exhausted by the time the last one died. Like the last room, we did not look around at all until we were finished with the rats.

This was another typical wizards' room. Several bookshelves filled with books. There were a few other gizmos scattered about. He had astrolabes, globes and other do-dads strewn around the room. To me it all looked like useless junk.

As we usually do, we each searched the room. I was perusing a bookshelf on the far wall. In it there were a few scrolls that appeared to be magic. I grabbed those to give to Glaf. That is when I spotted a hidden door. I thought that perhaps it was a secret entrance to Nebrion's lair. Thus, I pointed it out to the other members of our party.

We were all a bit exhausted from our fight with the scores of rats, so we rested a bit before entering the door. If it was the door to Nebrion's room, we wanted to be ready for him.

Since this door led to an unknown locale, entering it was going to be very dangerous. Thus, the plan was to send me in. They knew that they stomped around like huge beasts, and if I could sneak in and check it out, it would be a safer way to go.

I could think of lots of objections to that sentiment, but I reluctantly agreed. I crawled through the trapdoor and found myself at a dead end. By pressing slightly on the wall in front of me, it gave way and I went tumbling into the room.

I briefly thanked my gods that it was not Nebrion's room. Clumsily falling into my enemy's room was not how I wished to die. I was almost as loud as Jean marching down the city streets. I could tell I flushed as I picked myself up off the ground.

I found myself in a very unwizard like room. It was a plain and mostly empty. The one item the room did contain was a large wooden chest. It was placed in the middle with the lock facing away from the entrance. There were no bookshelves on these walls.

However, there was no obvious way back to where I had come. Eventually, I spotted a switch plate on the floor that opened the secret passage. This allowed me to rejoin my compatriots and give them the news.

One by one, we all entered the trap door to explore the room. Certainly, Nebrion would not leave this room unguarded. Some beastie would surely jump out of the darkness and attack us.

As Jean reached the chest in the middle of the room, that is exactly what happened. A gang of spiders descended from the ceiling. Once again, these were not ordinary spiders -- these were huge. They were going to be difficult to vanquish.

Be that as it may, we did take care of them rather easily. Glaf was poisoned, but Thorvald took care of that with some spell or potion. Thorvald took care of the minor nicks and scrapes that Jean and Gudrid had. Naturally, I emerged from the encounter without a scratch.

Gudrid was anxious to see what was in the chest. Thus, she ran to it quickly and set off the trap protecting it. A noxious cloud of some gas filled the room. Sometimes the amateurs can really ruin a perfectly good melee. Once the gas dissipated, Thorvald had to use his magic again to restore our health.

The chest was locked, so Gudrid would have had to wait for me anyway. I believe Glaf chastised her for her haste while I unlocked the chest.

The chest had no valuables in it. It was practically empty. It seemed odd to have so much security for this chest. However, its sole contents were very important to us. Thus, they were likely important to Nebrion as well. In the chest, we discovered a bundle of carpet fragments. Could this be the missing bundle? Would we be able to have it out with Nebrion after all? Gudrid's anxiousness was beginning to affect me. I was ready to rush down and take on Nebrion too.

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 18: How Does this Rug Work Anyway?

By Douglas E. Gogerty

"Bzzzz -- Wheee -- Wheee -- Bzzzz -- Kablaam!" the machine sputtered when the carpet fragment from the chest was placed in its tray and the machine was switched on. It was certainly working. After a few seconds, a nice rug fell out of the machine and onto the floor. We were in!

Unfortunately, we had no instructions as to its use. How does this rug manage to enter Nebrion's room? Do we climb onto the rug and have it fly us through his window? Perhaps we should sit upon it. Was it a flying rug like the ones from the ancient tales? Did it work on an entirely different principle?

Our men of letters were of no help in this regard. Thorvald and Glaf studied the object carefully, but could come up with no better solution than to place it on the ground and hop on board. I suggested we go back to the inn and talk to the man who told us about the rug, but they did not wish to harm any more townsfolk. Thus, they did not wish to leave the tower.

So what was their solution? Naturally, it was to use me as the first victim. They would have me step on the rug and determine what happens. I informed them if I go tumbling into Nebrion's room, all stealth and surprise is lost, but they reminded me of my dexterity. The others were too clumsy to be trusted on a flying rug.

Once they were all agreed that I should do this, I gingerly stepped onto the rug. I braced myself for something to occur, but nothing did. I was not in Nebrion's room I was still in the same room as the rest of the party.

I sat on the rug and concentrated on going to Nebrion's room. I made several attempts to persuade it to go somewhere. Nevertheless, the carpet was not moving. It looked as if we would have to ask the man how to work the rug after all.

I arose from my seated position and walked off the rug. The disorientation hit me immediately, and I nearly tumbled to the ground. I managed to stay on my feet, but for a few seconds I did not know where I was or what had happened.

In my daze, I looked around and noticed I was in a corner of some room. The room had several bookcases along the walls. There was no doubt about it; I was in Nebrion's room. Apparently, you just had to walk across the carpet and you were in.

Unfortunately, the teleportation mechanism to get me back was not obvious. Thus, I could not scout out the area and return the information to the rest. I was trapped in the room with Nebrion, who had not noticed me as of yet.

I stood in the shadow of the corner, attempting to decide what my next move should be. However, before I made any action -- one by one -- the rest of my party tumbled into the room.

Startled, Nebrion asked, "What are you doing here?"

Our Paladin with her lawful goodness made her reply; she drew her sword, gave a battle cry, and attacked. The rest of the party was startled briefly and did not immediately join in the fray.

"Please," Nebrion begged. "There must be some sort of mistake. I am not responsible for this..."

Jean would have none of it. She clearly detected his evilness when she entered. She would hear none of his excuses. Also by this time, the rest of us made our decision to join in the fray. Thus, we all began our attacks on Nebrion.

For someone who appeared to be older, he was remarkably agile. Gudrid and Jean's swords rarely hit their marks. The wizard was also adept at dodging my bolts. This fight was going to take some time.

After Nebrion decided that we were serious, he began his offense. With a "Phartano Verdigulum", he summoned some sort of ghoul. Our blows kept missing, and now we had a second foe.

"Concentrate on Nebrion!" shouted Glaf.

Nebrion had other spells at his disposal, and he was not averse to using them. A cloud of noxious gas was his next weapon. I was using my crossbow, so I managed to stay on the edge of the cloud. At the clouds fringes, I fired my crossbow. However, Jean was not immune to the clouds effects. Fortunately, Gudrid was unaffected. Thus, the battle could continue while Jean ran out of the cloud to be tended by our cleric Thorvald.

In the mean time, I was still attempting to hit the illusive Nebrion. One bolt missed its mark and lodged in the arm of Nebrion's ghoul. That spelt trouble for me. The ghoul took notice of me, and headed in my direction.

This ghoul was not your run of the mill zombie; he or she was quite agile. Luckily, it was not nearly as dexterous as I am. Thus, I avoided the attack and headed towards Thorvald and Jean.

After I ran past, with the ghoul on my heels, Jean took her orc-slayer and lopped its head off. In one blow, the summoned ghoul had disappeared in a puff of smoke.

As the cloud dissipated, Jean ran after Nebrion again. There were a flurry of blows, and it looked like we had Nebrion. However, he reached into his robe and pulled out a flask. As quick as he could, he drank some potion and it was as if he had just begun the battle. It was going to be a long fight.

Nebrion conjured up another ghoul and another cloud of some sort. This one did not affect Jean, but Gudrid could not stay in the cloud long. She ran to the cleric for his services.

It was at this point that Glaf took advantage of one of his major spells. Gudrid was not immune to the effects of the spell, but Jean was. Thus, he hoped that his spell would do some damage upon Nebrion.

Nebrion erupted in a large fireball. His ghoul fell dead, and Jean was still attempting to hit Nebrion with her sword. Nebrion survived the attack and continued to avoid our blows.

Our enemy was looking in rough shape. Our attacks would occasionally land, and the wounds would mount up. However, the crafty wizard had more potions and spells. He once again healed himself. This time, instead of summoning a ghoul, he summoned a dire tiger.

This tiger must have been a female because she got a whiff of me and was on my heels. "I'll keep this one busy," I shouted. "Concentrate on Nebrion."

I do not know what I was thinking when I said that. How was I going to keep that giant cat busy? Perhaps I could keep her busy by running around the perimeter because that was my only defense against the beast. Nebrion must have used a spell to make me do such a crazy thing.

Nebrion continued to fill the room with various clouds, but Jean and Gudrid continued to go after him. I would occasionally stop running from the tiger and shoot a bolt at him, but then I would start running again with the cat right behind me.

Glaf had spells, but he could not use the most powerful ones with our party in the line of fire. He was restricted to his lesser spells that did do damage to Nebrion.

Thorvald would shoot an arrow -- now and again -- at the evil wizard, but he spent most of his time with the wounds of the rest of the party. With that tiger on my tail, I was glad to have him tend to my scratches. However, he would eventually run out of his medical supplies.

Just when we thought we had him, Nebrion took another potion and we were back to square one. With his latest cloud effect gone, I dashed in to check his pockets. I wanted to steal any potions he may have possessed, but he had none.

He would not be able to make it much longer. Certainly, he must be running out of spells. He had used a great deal of magic attacking Gudrid and Jean. He chanted again and tentacles reached out of the floor with a stinging bite. Why did he save this spell? It was particularly nasty.

Jean and Gudrid hopped and jumped to get away from the spell's effect. This gave Glaf a brief instant to pile on his powerful spells. Fire and ice began flying at our opponent. Nebrion was caught between chasing the two fighters and going after our wizard. In his hesitation, more spells came his way.

Gudrid and Jean were in rough shape. They had taken a great deal of punishment from Nebrion's spells. They were also fatigued from the effort they had made to bring down the wizard.

Thorvald did his best to treat them, but he had exhausted his last potion. There was little else he could do to ease their pain. The tiger was inflicting some damage upon me as well. We could not put up this fight for much longer.

Sensing that our need was desperate, I stopped running from the tiger and shot my last bolt at Nebrion. I had missed with numerous bolts, but this one caught him right in the ear. He tumbled to the ground. The pouncing tiger disappeared in an odorless cloud. We had vanquished the evil wizard and we were victorious!

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Nebrion's Quest

Chapter 19: The Quest Ends

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Our quest was over. We had cleaned the mines of creatures that were plaguing the city of Monkalakaboomistan. The only down side at this point was we had just killed the man who was to pay us. Nebrion was dead.

The chest that was supposed to hold our reward was unlocked and empty. I wonder how that could have happened... The perimeter of the room contained a series of large wooden armoires. They were protected by a trap, which I easily removed. However, the lock was a different story. It was a custom lock with some sort of magical spell preventing anyone from opening it without the key.

I thought we could just smash them to bits. After all, they were only made of wood. However, no one was willing to aid me in this venture. I even explained that Nebrion himself pointed out that our belongings were in the armoires.

Unfortunately, the party's trust in Nebrion had long since evaporated. Thus, they had given up the idea of obtaining their long lost belongings. Further, they were fond of the items they had collected on the adventure.

It was then that I thought that Nebrion should have the key. Gudrid had searched him for valuables and the items he had were useable only by an evil wizard. They would be of no help to Glaf. However, the key was among the items.

I used the key to open the armoires one by one. To everyone's surprise, the armoires were filled with our items. A few had items from other adventurers. In any event, we had our belongings back.

"Where did you get these items?" asked Gudrid.

"Those?" I replied. "I have had those for a while."

"I do not remember you having that stuff," added Glaf.

"You cannot even wear this armor," added Jean. "It is way too large for you."

"I was going to sell it at my earliest convenience," I said. "Why is everyone so suspicious of me?"

"Spill it!" demanded Thorvald.

"Okay you caught me," I admitted. "While you all were discussing the mission with Nebrion, I opened the chest. I just wanted to know what our reward was going to be. Before I knew anything, all of my items were gone and I woke up in a mine looking like a lizard."

"Hey!" exclaimed Glaf.

"Yeah!" shouted Gudrid.

"We are no longer reptilian!" shouted Jean.

Jean and I embraced. Then she smacked me across the face. After all of the things I had done for her, she was not going to thank me. Perhaps it was the fact that there were other people around. I guess I should have been grateful that she did not swing her orc-slayer at me.

We had all of our belongings and our appearance had returned to normal. Nebrion's quest had clearly ended. What do we do next? More importantly, how do we get out of this tower?

There was a lever in the corner, which did not appear to have an obvious function. At least it did not do anything the four or five times I had pulled it the first time we were in this room. Perhaps Nebrion protected its use. Thus, I pulled the lever. I heard a loud crack somewhere in the tower, but it had no other effect.

Gudrid gave it a try and we were immediately transported to another room in the tower. I was expecting to return to the carpet. After all, it was how the previous owner of the tower entered and left the isolated tower room.

Regardless, we found ourselves in the company of a beautiful woman. She was tall with long fire-red hair. She was dressed in silver plate trimmed in gold. She had a winged helm upon her head.

"I am Leela Monkalakaboom," she declared.

We each introduced ourselves. I flirted more than usual to make Jean jealous. Leela naturally took a shine to me. Jean pretended not to notice the sparks, but I could tell she had seen.

"I thank you for ridding us of our plight," she continued. "For a long time we have suspected that Nebrion was luring adventurers to our fair city and robbing them of their goods."

"He is also responsible for the monster attacks," added Thorvald.

"He changed us into lizardmen," declared Glaf.

"Ummmm -- we got better," I added.

"Apparently," continued Thorvald. "He would alter the appearance of these adventurers and dump them into the nearby mines. If these individuals made it out of the mines alive, it would appear that they would attack the city."

"Nebrion was also responsible for the monster attacks," Glaf conjectured.

"I believe all of what you say is true," responded Leela. "My brother Paul was sent to investigate and his armor and some other items appeared some time later."

"Paul?" I mumbled. "Does everyone in this town have some link to him?"

"What?" asked Leela.

"We encountered a Paul in the dungeons above the mines. He was hungry but well."

"I am relieved from this news," added Leela. "With Nebrion out of the way, I can return as protector of the city. You have given me back my tower."

"And your rug," added Glaf. "We gathered the pieces and it allowed us into Nebrion's room."

"Thanks for the update genius," I whispered to Glaf. "She has been watching us you door knob!"

"Your journey has been long and arduous," Leela continued. "You shall be rewarded for your deeds. I will pay you handsomely for any treasures you have collected in your adventure. Our citizens could begin rebuilding the town with these items."

She paid us handsomely for our extra goods. I had to hand it to Glaf; it was a very profitable journey for us. There were plenty of times when I doubted that it would be, but the coin in my pocket proved me wrong.

We rested the night in Leela's tower. She threw a large feast in our honor and the entire town showed up. The wine was good and the mood merry. Even the temple guardian Nather showed up. He was strangely quiet. A large smile seemed to be unnaturally affixed to his face, which prevented his normal talkativeness.

I flirted with many ladies at the feast. If Jean were not going to thank me personally, an attractive local would have to do. There were plenty from which to choose. The choice would be difficult. Perhaps more than one...

Nebrion's quest was over, and now it was time to decide what was next. That story is for another time.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Nebrion's Quest category.

Montana MacInnes and the Reunion of Doom is the previous category.

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