“I don’t get it, Seamon,” I said, scooting myself back up against one of the large columns ringing the central well of the pool chamber. “I mean — I’m not sure I quite follow. You are an elemental, yes?”
“Wull, yes,” grumbled the water weird, lounging his long and snakelike mass along the diabolically-carved reddish stone of his well.
“You’re made entirely of elemental water, given shape by psychothaumaturgical vibration.”
The weird flopped from side to side, ambivalently. “More or less,” he said, eventually.
“You don’t sleep. You don’t eat. You obtain sustenance by drowning things here in your pool, by means none of us fully comprehend.”
“Yup,” said the weird.
“You have no discernible biological functions.”
“Mm hm,” Seamon agreed.
“And yet… you want a girlfriend.”
“It gets lonely here in the Well Chamber, Hubert,” said Seamon, plaintively. “I could use a little company some of these dry old nights.”
“Erm,” I said, scratching at the back of my head with my foreclaws. “Forgive me for asking the obvious, but… don’t you drown pretty much everything you come in contact with?”
“Not,” said Seamon, narrowing his eyes intently, “things that don’t breathe.”
“Oh,” I said.
Seamon vacillated around a bit more. “We had some of the walking dead from Dungeon Level Three through here a while back,” he said. “They don’t breathe. And some of them are pretty well-preserved, too!”
“Erg,” I said. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
“I am a bit,” said Seamon. “Shame, though; it’s hard to find something that’s both personable and undrownable.” Seamon flopped down, then. “Not to interrupt,” he said, “but on that topic…”
I nodded. “Yes, yes,” I said, absently. “We caught 1d6 giant spiders this afternoon. Krunk’ll pop around with them on the evening rounds.”
“Cor,” muttered the weird. “Bugs again.”
I snorted. “Be happy you’re getting anything at all. In case you haven’t noticed, adventuring parties haven’t been flocking here of late.”
“I know, I know,” said Seamon. “They’re a damn sight better than nothing at all. But bugs are so nasty when they drown. All… crinkly. No proper lungs to get into or anything.” Seamon gave a great and gushing sigh that sounded a bit like I imagine the ocean probably would. “I do appreciate the efforts you Wandering Monsters make to keep the ecology going, don’t get me wrong,” said Seamon, resting his chin against the side of the well. “But… bloody hell, what it wouldn’t be like to get a proper adventurer in here again, eh?”
I shrugged. “If it would make you happy,” I said, “we could dress one of the spiders up in a little cloak or something. And I think Om the Devourer has a few bits of metal left over; least I saw some floating in him last time we met. We could fashion a little sword, or–”
“Nie, nie,” Seamon replied. “No need to bother the gelatinous cubes, Hubert. They’re busy folks. Besides, it wouldn’t be the same.”
“I know, I know,” I said. “Just trying to be helpful.”
“You’re a good little kobold, Hubert,” said Seamon. “You deserve better than this old sewerpipe of a dungeon.” Seamon perked a little, extending his serpentine form out over the rim of the well, looking intently at me. “Listen,” he said. “I sometimes get elemental-mail from a nixie I met a few hundred years back at WaterCon 1292. she’s got a fairly sweet little piece in ‘Night Below.’ It’s a persistent campaign setting and everything. Not a bollocksed-up one-shot module like this one. I could put a word in…”
I shook my head. “I do appreciate the offer, Seamon,” I said. “But I’m a First Edition kobold, born and bred. I just don’t think I’d fit in with that 2E crowd.”
“Ah,” said Seamon. “I, er, suppose that ‘The Sunless Citadel’ is right out, then.”
“Sweek Kurtulmak, no!” I laughed. “Have you seen a Third Edition kobold, Seamon? They’ve totally retconned us into an offshoot of the draconic lines! They’d probably dress me up in scale mail trying to blend me in. Pathetic, I tell you.”
“Just mentioning,” said Seamon. L’ange se passe. “Well, what about ‘(A3) Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords’?” he said, then. “Last I heard they were still looking for 2d6 kobolds to fill their 01-15 slot. Wandering Monsters appear only on a roll of 1 on a d10, only two checks a night… you’ve got plenty of Wandering Monster experience, right?”
A tiny little wan smile crossed my doggy muzzle. “I can’t leave, Seamon,” I said. “The Proving Grounds is my home. I know our Evil Wizard’s gone. And yes, the treasury’s totally looted.”
“Cor, don’t remind me,” said Seamon, darkly. “Bastard adventurers took the key I was guarding. Bloody beautiful little key, and what do you suppose they did with it as soon as they opened the main vault?”
“Probably threw it away,” I said.
“Damn straight they threw it away.” The water weird mockingly put on airs for a moment and mimed a sort of ‘prancing around gaily’ motion, and, for a big snake made out of water trapped in an itty-bitty little well, actually did a good job of it. “‘Ooh, ooh, look at the horde! There must be at least 1-100 x 5000 PP here alone! And a 15% chance of randomly-generated miscellaneous magic!’ And what do you suppose happened to the key, eh? The key I put my bloomin’ HEART AND SOUL into guarding, eh?”
“Probably just left it in the lock,” I agreed.
“Of course they did,” said Seamon. “Bastard, bastard adventurers.”
Seamon flopped back against the wall of his pool.
“Things’ll come ’round eventually,” I said, walking up to the pool and resting my paw just inches away from Seamon’s massive watery form. “I heard that they’re releasing Anniversary Editions of all these old modules. Expanding on the plots and all. ‘(S2) White Plume Mountain’ got a whole ‘nother sub-level added, and Keraptis himself finally makes an appearance. Breathed a mess of new life into that place. I know we were never as popular as ‘White Plume Mountain’, but… it’s a possibility, right?” I attempted another little smile. “Seamon?”
“Sure,” said Seamon, a little note of hope in his voice. “Sure, Hubert. And all I’ve got to say is they better give me a bloody key to guard again.”
“Oh, they have to,” I said. “You were iconic, man!”
“Damn straight,” said Seamon. He did one of his big, oceany sighs again. “Anywayhoo,” he said. “I should probably let you get back to wandering.”
“Yep,” I said, pushing myself back to a full stand with a grunt. “These old tunnel floors aren’t going to get trodden ‘pon by themselves.” I started off toward the northwest exit from the Well Chamber. “I was thinking,” I said, “I kind of feel like I’m hitting my wandering stride. I might ask Krunk if I can take evening rounds tonight. I’ll come back with your 1d6 spiders. Thirty percent cumulative chance every hour after five o’clock. How’s that sound?”
“Sounds good!” said Seamon.
He nodded to me. I nodded to him.
“Well,” I said then. “Gonna… wander now.”
“Yup,” said Seamon.
I smiled, then turned, and headed northwest, toward the Obligatory Chess-Board Puzzle, leaving Seamon and his well behind.
Almost, I thought to myself as I trudged away. Almost there. We’ve actually broached the topic in conversation, now. It won’t be long.
Someday, I thought, I will tell him how I feel.