Chapter #101

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                                +
                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +                   +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +
                                +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    The various characters contained in these writings are   +
+  copyright 1993 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any   +
+  persons or characters either real or fictional is utterly  +
+  coincidental.  Copying and/or distribution of these tales  +
+  is permissible only under the sole condition that no part  +
+  of them will be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I  +
+  hope you enjoy them...                                     +
+                                                             +
+                            Thomas Miller                    +
+                            tmiller@cimmeria.gatech.edu      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY (or a part of it; they have split for now):     +
+                                                             +
+   Mongo         11th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint       9th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Rillen        11th level human warrior              (N)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    9/20/571 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    late morning                                     +
+   Place:   just northwest of the Free City of Greyhawk      +
+   Climate: moderate to cold                                 +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "It matters not whether you win or lose; what matters     +
+    is whether _I_ win or lose."                             +
+                                    Darrin Weinberg          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                      CI.  The Tournament





  The party has split into sub-groups to pursue individual
ambitions and missions.  Even now, Mongo, Rillen, and Flint
Firelips ride from Greyhawk, traveling northward to seek a
great fighting tournament which takes place but once every
year.

Mongo:  So where _is_ this thing at, anyway?
Rillen:  Unknown.  Rumors abound, though.  We shall have
  to search a bit, but I have an idea of where to look.
Flint:  When does it start?  How do we know we won't miss
  it?
Rillen:  Have no fear.  We have at least a few weeks to get
  there.

  The trio of warriors journeyed north and west for weeks,
eventually entering a mountainous area.  It was here that
they were finally challenged.

hobgoblins:  (appear)  Hey!  These are our trails!
Mongo:  Huh?
hobgoblin leader:  You're on our land.  And there are many
  more of us than there are of you.
Rillen:  Strength does not always come from numbers.
Mongo:  Out of our way.  We have an important quest.
hobgoblin leader:  All intruders to our land must die!
Mongo:  Cripes.  I can't believe this.
Rillen:  (twirls his staff as the twenty hobgoblins close
  in, surrounding the party)  I needed some practice anyway.
Flint:  (hefts his battleaxe)  Yeah.

hobgoblin leader:  Chaaaaarge!
hobgoblins:  (they do)  Aaaaaaaaaaa!
Mongo:  (pulverizes the hobgoblin leader with a single well-
  aimed hammer throw)  Chew on that, monkey!
hobgoblin leader:  (collapses, dead as a doornail)
Rillen:  (to Mongo, quietly)  Monkey?
hobgoblins:  (hesitate somewhat, seeing their dead leader
  hit the ground)  Whoa...
Rillen:  (begins bashing hobgoblins with his staff)  Hai!
hobgoblin:  (falls, his neck snapped)
Flint:  (cleaves a foe in two with his axe)  Die, scum!
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)  Who's next?
hobgoblins:  (several of them charge the dwarf)  Yaaaargh!
Mongo:  Whaaaa...no fair!  (belts one opponent, braining it,
  before he is overborne)
Rillen:  (ducks a sword swing and kicks the attacker in the
  chest)  Yah!  (a dull crunching follows the blow)
hobgoblin:  (reels back, his ribs shattered)  Urk.
Flint:  (ignores a blow to his chain mail)  Ugh.
Mongo:  (gets beaten a bit by the horde)  Agh!  Ugh!  Ow!
  (smashes a hobgoblin in the face, knocking it away)
hobgoblin:  Blargh!  (tries to find all his teeth)  Glk.
Rillen:  (swats another hobgoblin)  Back, smelly one!
hobgoblin:  (knocked aside)
Rillen:  (dodges a blow)  Sai!

  Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, those hobgoblins
who still lived broke off their attack and retreated into
the rocky terrain, yelling and screaming.

Rillen:  We must have snapped their morale, as well as their
  bones.
Mongo:  Fuckin' vermin.
Flint:  Is anyone hurt?  (nurses a sore rib or two)
Mongo:  No way.  (actually he's lying, as he got several
  minor nicks and cuts, but he doesn't really care)
Rillen:  Not I.  Shall we continue?
Flint:  (binds a wound)  Yeah.
Mongo:  Where are we going, anyway?
Rillen:  We will only know when we get there.

  They traveled through increasingly rocky terrain, but
with Mongo to help guide them, they made excellent time.
Eventually, they encountered others who seemed to have
the same destination.

Mongo:  Hey there!
skinny baldheaded guy:  (glares at Mongo)
other skinny guy:  (glares at Rillen)
Rillen:  Monks, these.  They keep to themselves, mostly.
Mongo:  Why?  Are they afraid to talk to us?
Rillen:  No.  They may think we are all fighting in the
  coming tournament.  To speak to us would be to give
  something away.
Flint:  Huh?!?  That's the stupidest thing I ever heard!
Mongo:  Fucking monks.  Well, they'd better not mess with
  me.
Rillen:  They will not bother us.

  Since the monks were walking pretty fast, they quickly
outdistanced the trio of adventurers.  Others were seen on
the trail over the course of the next few days - here an
immensely fat wrestler-type, there a muscular, evil-looking
midget.  One fellow, whose hair was bound in strange knots
and patterns, apparently didn't stop to rest or eat during
his march.  From the ends of the world they came - short,
tall, skinny, massive, common, unusual.  They had only one
thing in common:  they all came to compete.
  Eventually, they trio reached a walled fortress carved
from the very mountain itself.

Mongo:  Wow, what's this?
Rillen:  This is the hidden fortress of the grand tournament
  itself.
Flint:  Not very defensible, is it?
Mongo:  I wouldn't assume that...
Rillen:  There are no doubt numerous guards positioned above
  us.  Were we a large force, such as an army, we would be
  dead by now.
Mongo:  Well, that's good to know.
Flint:  Hey, look.  Guards!  (there are two, outside a huge
  double door of thick stone)

formidable-looking guard:  Halt.
other dangerous-looking guard:  Name?
Rillen:  Rillen.
guard:  (looks over a list)  You're not on the list.
Rillen:  No.  I come representing myself, and have not been
  here before.
other guard:  Your funeral, maybe.  Do you think you have the
  skill to fight here?
Rillen:  Indeed, I do.
guard:  The rules are as follows.  You compete in the matches
  picked for you.  The judges' decision is final.  No priests
  or magi allowed beyond this point.  As a competitor, your
  items will be held by your...
Rillen:  (looks at Mongo and Flint)  Trainers?
guard:  ...trainers.  You will not have access to any of the
  items.  This is to avoid the use of items for healing or
  unfair advantage in the matches.
Rillen:  Of course.
other guard:  Any mischief will result in expulsion from the
  tournament and the fortress, never to return.  Any weapons
  use will result in execution.
guard:  Do you understand?
Rillen:  Yes.
other guard:  (peers at the trio through some strange blue
  lens)  They are not magic-wielders.
guard:  Very well.  The entry fee is five hundred coins of
  gold.
Mongo:  WHAT?!?  (looks at Rillen)
Rillen:  Err...
guard:  Each.
Mongo:  Grrrrrr.
Rillen:  (forks out three large gems)  Here is the fee.
other guard:  (examines the gems through his blue lens)  An
  unusual method of payment...but the stones are real enough.
guard:  Very well.  Enter.  (a massive double door opens)

  The interior of the fortress was somewhat spartan, with
little decoration or detail.  A large arena stood at the
center of the place, and a complex of rooms and passages
could be seen beyond the arena.  A similar complex stood
near the trio.  A small marketplace here had some activity,
though not a lot.  They sky was not visible - the whole
fortress was within some mountain.  Numerous torches and
lamps provided all the light for this tiny artificial city.

Mongo:  What are those areas on the far side of the arena?
Rillen:  That is where the competitors will stay, no doubt.
  You will have to hold on to my weapons and items.
Mongo:  No weapons?
Rillen:  Not for me.  The rules do not allow any weapons or
  other items.  I think the arena separates the section where
  you will be staying from the section where the combatants
  and officials will be staying.
Flint:  So that people can't bring their friends healing
  potions or items?
Rillen:  Exactly.  That would be an unfair advantage.
Mongo:  I can't believe this.  How do they know that we're
  not mages or priests?  How can they keep people from
  sneaking stuff to the ones who fight?
Rillen:  In centuries of this tournament, no such incident
  has ever been successful.  Probably because the penalty
  for mischief is death...and the officials and guards are
  all quite skilled, masters themselves.  Many of them are
  previous winners of matches in the past.
Mongo:  Ah...a fight FOR the competitors, BY the competitors,
  OF the competitors.
Rillen:  Something like that.
official:  You!
Rillen:  (turns)  Eh?
official:  You must report to the competitors' barracks by
  tomorrow morning.  And your friends, they must stay in the
  guest barracks, as non-participants.
Mongo:  Huh?   Does that mean we can't watch?
official:  Not necessarily.  Not if you have five hundred
  coins of gold, per person...
Mongo:  (slaps his head)  Argh!

  Rillen, it seemed, had a lot of money that he had to get
rid of.  He paid the observer's fee for the two dwarves, in
fact getting them front row seats (which went for a cool two
thousand gold apiece).  The trio split up, officials guiding
them to their appropriate areas.  The tournament was to begin
within two days, but the qualification tests would weed out
any unworthy fighters before that time.  They were to take
place tomorrow.
  Mongo and Flint were given quarters along with all of the
other companions and trainers of the tournament fighters.
Rillen was given quarters with the approximately two hundred
people who hoped to participate in the great tournament.
There were monks, warriors, pugilists, wrestlers, and more -
a plethora of bone-crunchers, head-crackers, and leg-breakers,
the best of the best, gathered here to compete for the honor
of being pitted against one another.

Rillen:  (meditating in his small quarters, devoid of all his
  possessions except a loincloth)  Ohm.



  The next day, everyone was up bright and early to commence
with the qualification bouts.  Each competitor was made to
demonstrate his form to the judges.  Several dozen were then
eliminated by the decision of the judges.  A few did not take
this well, and were beaten by the guards.  One man drew his
sword and threatened the officials, and was quickly slain.

Mongo:  holy shit!  They weren't kidding around!

  Rillen passed the first level of qualification tests, and
was surprised to learn that there were no other such tests,
save the tournament combat itself.  Later that night, the
dwarves spoke with him.

Flint:  At least you passed the qualifiers.
Rillen:  As I knew I would.  They are nothing - it is the
  matches tomorrow that really matter.
Mongo:  You're sure you can handle this?
Rillen:  Yes.  People do not die here...usually.
Flint:  Well, if you do, we won't be able to do anything to
  help you.  Or avenge you.
Rillen:  I shall be fine.  (turns to go)  I must return to
  the competitors' barracks...where they will check to see
  that I bring no weapons or other items in.  I shall not be
  able to talk with you two again until the end.
Mongo:  You mean unconscious fighters get carried out into
  the barracks, by officials?
Rillen:  Exactly.  No one but competitors and officials and
  guards is permitted on the far side of the arena, until
  the whole tournament is over.
Mongo:  Well...we'll be watching.  (he clasps hands with his
  friend)  Good luck.
Rillen:  Thanks.  (he clasps hands with Flint as well, and
  departs)

Flint:  I wonder if he's nervous?
Mongo:  Of course he is.  This whole tournament is a pretty
  serious thing.  I'd be nervous too.
Flint:  Hmm.  No "good" lands would approve of this thing.
  That must be why they hold it in this remote place.
Mongo:  Yeah.  Here, they make their own rules...and also
  enforce them.

  The next day, trumpets announced the commencement of the
tournament - it was time to begin!

  Some official stood upon the podium atop the arena and
announced the first pairing.  From their ringside seats,
Mongo and Flint observed a skinny monk-type face off with
a huge bear of a man.

official:  (holds up his hands)  Ready.  (drops his hands)
  Begin!
big guy:  (charges the monk)  Reaaaargh!  I'm gonna rip
  you in half!
monk:  (deftly steps aside, and kicks the big guy three
  times, in the head, chest, and gut)  Whaaaai!
big guy:  Oof!  (swings a beefy fist at the monk, but he
  misses)
monk:  (karate-chops the big guy in the neck)  Saaa!
big guy:  (coughs)  GgggrrrrrRRRR!  (swings around with
  a sudden motion, and belts the monk in the head with
  an elbow)  Hah!
monk:  (reels, stunned)
big guy:  (closes in for the kill)  Ha ha!  You're dead
  now!
monk:  (ducks a swing, and knees the big guy in the head)
big guy:  Argh!  (totters around)  Argh!
monk:  (delivers several blows to the chest and head of
  his opponent, then kicks him, sending him to the stone
  floor of the arena, unconscious and bloody)  Sah!  (he
  bows to the judges, as much applause ensues)
Mongo:  Wow.  Maybe there really is something to all this
  martial-arts stuff.
Flint:  Maybe, but I doubt it.  Besides, this sort of
  fighting is useless against big monsters.
Mongo:  I don't know...Rillen does pretty good in dungeons.

  Their talk was interrupted by the beginning of the next
match.  Somebody had done a surprisingly quick job of
cleaning the blood off of the arena floor between matches.
A muscular, albino-type faced a short boxer this time...

  After several dozen such fights, Rillen's first match
was announced.  He was paired against a tall, obese brawler
of a man.

official:  Begin!
fat brawler:  Heh heh.  (charges Rillen)
Rillen:  (leaps up into the air, and punches the man's
  head as he runs by)  Aie-a!
fat brawler:  Argh!  (grabs his head)  You hurt me!  For
  that you die!  (swings at Rillen)
Rillen:  (diverts the blow with one hand, and delivers a
  pair of swift punches to the guy's head)
fat brawler:  Urk.  (falls, unconscious)
judges:  (look on in admiration)
official:  (raises Rillen's arm)   Winner!  (to Rillen)  A
  very neat job.
Mongo:  Hey, good job!  (he and Flint join the applauders
  among the crowd)
officials:  (drag away the loser)

  The first round of matches consisted of sixty-four fights,
which weeded out half of the one-hundred twenty-eight people
competing.  This took all day, and the next rounds were to
take place tomorrow.  Rillen retired to his quarters to rest,
Mongo and Flint had a meal and discussed past battles, and
those who had been eliminated either left or were tended to
in their beaten, bloodied states.

  The next day, thirty-two matches were held, to again cut
the total number of competitors in half.  Rillen's bout had
him up against Saheed, a well-muscled fighter from some far
western land.

official:  Begin!
Saheed:  (closes in on Rillen)
Rillen:  (puts his arms up warily)
Saheed:  (strikes, landing a blow and wounding Rillen)
Rillen:  Ugh.  (counterattacks, hitting his foe with a knee,
  and backs up)
Saheed:  (launches a swift flurry of blows, one of which hits
  Rillen in the shoulder)
Rillen:  Argh!  (misses Saheed with a hand chop)
Saheed:  (trades some kicks with Rillen, and each is hit by
  one effective kick)  Ugh.
Rillen:  Agh.  (finally gets an advantage, and uses a palm
  strike to knock his opponent back a few feet)
Saheed:  (somewhat weary and hurt, he moves back in)
Rillen:  Hi-yaie!  (delivers four punches to Saheed's torso)
Saheed:  Ack.  (keels over, and doesn't get back up)
official:  Winner!  (raises Rillen's arm in victory)
crowd:  (cheers loudly)
Mongo:  All RIGHT!
Flint:  Way to go, Rillen!

  After the battery (no pun intended) of thirty-two fights
was over, there were, of course, thirty-two combatants left.
The next round also took place this day, and consisted of
sixteen matches, from which there would be sixteen winners.
When Rillen's turn came around, he faced Fex Nonon, a big,
bulky boxer-type.

official:  Begin!
Rillen:  (circles Fex)
Fex:  (cautiously prepares to attack)  Come on, punk!
Rillen:  (leaps in and punches several times, hitting with
  three of his attacks and stunning his foe)
Fex:  (swings at Rillen, but misses)  How'd I miss?!?
Rillen:  (scores a perfect strike to the solar plexus)
  Hai!
Fex:  Urgh.  (crumples to his knees)
Rillen:  (waits for his opponent to get up)
Fex:  (stands)  Ah, a nice guy!  You'll get nowhere with
  that attitude, buddy.  (punches Rillen while he talks,
  and lands a powerful blow)
Rillen:  Agh.
Fex:  (misses with a follow-up punch)  Whoooa.
Rillen:  (kicks out twice, connecting once)  Sa!  (waits
  for his foe to turn and face him)
Fex:  Urgh.  (uses a backhand punch to knock Rillen back)
  Ha ha!  I warned you about being a nice guy!  I-
Rillen:  (strikes twice to the head, knocking Fex down and
  out)  Yes, so you did.
official:  (raises Rillen's arm)  Winner!
crowd:  (goes wild)
Mongo:  (claps loudly)
Rillen:  (salutes his friends, and then goes to have his
  wounds bandaged - the only form of healing permitted in
  the tournament, and even then it is supervised by the
  officials)

  Thus, after this day's bouts were finished, only a mere
sixteen fighters remained.  Rillen was one of them.

  The third day of the tournament was to feature only the
eight fights between the sixteen combatants.  After these
were over, the fourth day would see the remaining eight
fight in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals, with
only one fighter emerging as the champion.
  Rillen found himself pitted against Snirpy Snotnose, a
short, clumsy-looking fellow with a crooked nose and an
evil disposition.

official:  Begin!
Rillen:  (approaches his foe)
Snirpy:  Yaieeee!  (he charges and leaps, delivering a
  flurry of deadly blows all at once)
Rillen:  Argh!  Ugh!  Oof!  (he trades punches with the
  deadly Snirpy, giving as good as he gets)
Snirpy:  (somersaults backwards, lands, and charges again)
  Aaaaaaiiiiiiiii-yah!  (hits Rillen in the legs, but fails
  to break anything)
Rillen:  (dances and dodges about)
Snirpy:  (leaps back)  Whaaaaaaaaaa!
Rillen:  Argh!  (charges)
Snirpy:  (parries Rillen's blows expertly)
Rillen:  Damn it!  (jumps back, but Snirpy stays with him
  all the while, chopping and kicking ferociously)
Snirpy:  (sensing victory, presses his attack)
Rillen:  (being beaten, launches several attacks, all of
  which miss the mark)
Snirpy:  (not an easy mark, as he dances about madly)
Rillen:  (finally gets a blow in, and sends Snirpy to the
  ground, where he bounces once, and rebounds, leaping to
  the offensive)
Snirpy:  Hi-yah!  (delivers a sudden swift strike, which
  hits Rillen on the forearm with great force)
Rillen:  EYAGH!  (his arm is now broken, and he realizes
  that his opponent is specialized in a bone-breaking
  martial art)  Damn.  (backs up)  He cheats.
Snirpy:  (licks blood from his lips, and closes in for
  the kill)  He he heh.
Rillen:  (musters his concentration, and ignores the
  oncoming foe)
Snirpy:  (leaps to the attack)
Rillen:  Sai!  (dodges, and plants a solid kick in the
  small of Snirpy's back)  Hai!
Snirpy:  Urgh!  (sails to the ground, and gets up with
  a grimace)
Rillen:  (uses his good arm to strike out, bashing his
  opponent in the temple)
Snirpy:  (staggers about)
Rillen:  (leaps up and kicks Snirpy squarely in the
  chest, sending him flying into the crowd, unconscious)
crowd:  (goes wild again, tossing Snirpy aside as they
  cheer)
official:  Winner!  (holds Rillen's good arm up high)
Rillen:  (staggers and walks away, with some help from
  the officials)
Mongo:  Hey, that arm looks busted!  Shit, that's it.
  He's out of this tournament.

  But the two dwarves didn't see their companion that
day, for he never emerged from the combatants' area or
barracks.  Apparently he intended to fight on, though it
seemed nearly impossible, considering the broken arm.

  As the fourth day of the tournament began, only eight
remained to fight in the quarterfinals...

Dugar Denselwurst (an accomplished kickboxer)
Jerod (an intensely-muscled midget/acrobat)
Akeem (a sumo-wrestler type)
Chuck (a bearded fighter, apparently a crowd favorite)
Rillen himself
Torm (a seven-foot tall monster of a man)
Bruce (a short, quiet, skinny-looking guy)
Hargus (a muscular guy, booed by the crowd every time)

  Rillen was pitted against Dugar in the quarterfinals.

official:  Begin!
Rillen:  (stalks Dugar, his right arm held in a sling)
Dugar:  This ought to be a snap.  Heh heh.  (kicks out
  swiftly, twice, and misses with both attacks as Rillen
  dodges)  Eh?
Rillen:  (leaps forth, punching with his good arm and
  using kicks as well)
Dugar:  (hit by two accurate punches, reels)  How'd he
  do that?!?
Rillen:  (backs up)
Dugar:  (kicks twice again, and hits both times)  Ha!
  You can't dodge forever, one-arm!
Rillen:  (parries as the kicking foe presses his attack
  mercilessly; still takes numerous hits)  Agh!  Ugh!
Dugar:  Ha ha!  (continues to beat on Rillen)
Mongo:  Why don't the judges stop this?  Can't they see
  that his arm is no good?!?
spectator:  He chose to fight, so he gets to fight.
Rillen:  (punches Dugar in the face twice as he gloats)
Dugar:  Ow!  Argh!  (feels his broken nose)  You've had
  it now, buddy!
Rillen:  (leaps up over Dugar's head, punching him in
  the process)
Dugar:  Hey!  (he kicks at Rillen several more times,
  hitting with some of his attacks)
Rillen:  (badly injured by now)  Argh!  (he squares off
  again, and concentrates)
Dugar:  (thinking that he's close to victory, charges)
  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa-  (receives a blow to the temple from
  Rillen's good hand, and collapses, knocked out)
Rillen:  Whew.  (falls to the floor, exhausted)  Whew!
official:  Winner!  (holds Rillen's arm up, but can't
  really raise it since Rillen isn't standing)
crowd:  (cheering profusely)
Mongo:  Geez, I don't know how long he can keep this up.
Flint:  Tell me about it.

  In the other matches of this round, Torm beat Akeem,
hurling him out of the arena (!); Bruce beat Jerod the
midget acrobat; and Chuck pummeled Hargus, much to the
liking of the crowd, who cheered loudly during the
process.

Mongo:  I wonder why they hate that guy so much?
spectator:  Ah, they always boo him.  It's tradition.
Mongo:  Oh.

  Rillen was given water and smelling salts, and was soon
facing the giant Torm in the semifinal round.

Rillen:  Ugh.  I am not up to this.
official:  (drops his hands)  Begin!
Torm:  (purposefully strides toward Rillen)  Grrrrr.
Rillen:  (assumes a defensive posture)  Uh-oh.
Torm:  (punches Rillen, hard)  Grar!
Rillen:  Argh!  (kicks Torm in the belly)
Torm:  Urgh.  (punches Rillen again)
Rillen:  Ungh!  (punches Torm in the head)
Torm:  Argh!
Rillen:  (tries to back out of this slugfest, since he
  can't win such an exchange)
Torm:  (punches Rillen on the back with an incredible
  overhand swing)  Yarrr!
Rillen:  Urg!  (falls to the mat)
Torm:  (picks Rillen up and prepares to hurl him out)
Rillen:  Uhhh...(reaches down with his good arm and
  smashes an elbow into Torm's face)
crowd:  (cheers)
Torm:  Argh!  (drops Rillen)
Rillen:  (flips about and lands on his feet)  Hai-yah!
Torm:  Rargh!  (charges)
Rillen:  (kicks the giant man three times as he attacks)
  Wha-?
Torm:  (having shrugged off the blows, he pummels Rillen
  heartily)  Yagh!  Ragh!  Blargh!
Rillen:  (quite bruised and beaten now)  Ugh...
Mongo:  I can't look.
Torm:  (picks Rillen up again)  Blargh!
Flint:  At least it'll be over when Rillen lands in the
  crowd somewhere.
Rillen:  (amazingly, again reaches down and musters all
  his strength to elbow Torm in the face...again)
Torm:  (drops Rillen, who falls heavily)
crowd:  (goes nuts, standing and chanting and yelling)
Rillen:  (stands up, and raises his good hand)  Waaaaiyah.
Torm:  (grins through broken lips and teeth)  Hargh.  (he
  charges again)
Rillen:  (punches and kicks, connecting with three attacks)
Torm:  (punches Rillen once)
Rillen:  (knocked unconscious)
Torm:  (raises his huge arms in victory)
official:  Winner!
crowd:  (goes bananas)
Mongo:  Fuck.
officials:  (carry Rillen away, toward Mongo and Flint's
  side of the arena this time)  Trainer?
Mongo:  We've got him.  (he and Flint take the limp form
  of Rillen and carry him back to their spectator quarters
  to get his wounds cared for)
Flint:  I guess we can use a potion or eight of healing
  now that he's out of the tournament.
Mongo:  Yeah, I guess so.

  Thus, the trio were not around to watch as Chuck was very
efficiently and soundly beaten by Bruce, and they missed the
great final match, wherein Bruce proved the unlikely winner
over the massive, hulking Torm.  The nondescript young man,
who nobody knew anything about, had won the tournament and
claimed the grand prize.  The trio of adventurers, being in
no position to keep up with these events, missed them all,
utterly.
  Later, an official came to Mongo and Flint's quarters.

official:  (enters)
Mongo:  What do YOU want?  (feeds the unconscious Rillen
  another small dose of healing potion)
official:  Your friend there has won fourth place.  I have
  brought him his prize.  (hands Mongo a weird-looking metal
  amulet engraved with strange symbols and runes)
Mongo:  Err...thanks.  (he puts the thing over Rillen's
  neck)  We'll tell him you came by when he wakes up.
official:  Of course.  Also tell him that he fought well,
  and has earned the judges' invitation to come again next
  year.
Flint:  We'll be sure to tell him that too.
official:  Very well.  (leaves)



  The next day, they departed the fortress.  Rillen was in
a state of depression, despite his medal and the knowledge
that he had done well in the tournament.

Mongo:  What's the matter?
Rillen:  Ngh.
Mongo:  Oh, come on!  There was no way you could have won,
  not with a broken arm!  You did great as it was!
Rillen:  Bah.
Flint:  No, really.  You were awesome!  (mimics the chops
  and kicks as best as he can)  Ya!  Ha!  Whaaaaa!
Rillen:  (ignores the dwarves)  Hmph.
Mongo:  (notices that they have wandered down the wrong
  mountain trail)  Hey, where the hell are we?
Rillen:  (snaps to attention)  Huh?
Mongo:  We sort of just walked down this trail, here, and
  I don't think it's the right one.
Rillen:  It is a sign.  (looks around)  My mindless state
  has led me this way.  That can mean only one thing...
  (walks swiftly in a new direction)
Mongo:  Hey, wait up!  Where can you possibly be headed
  now?
Rillen:  I must learn why I failed.  I must seek out that
  place from which I emerged years ago.
Mongo:  Huh?
Rillen:  The ancient monastery hidden within the peaks of
  this land.  I grew to manhood there, you know.
Mongo:  Oh, great.  I suppose you know how to get there,
  too?
Rillen:  Yes.  I do.  (heads along the wilderness trail)
  Are you coming?
Mongo:  Oh, why not?  Come on, Flint.  (they follow the big
  warrior)

  After two weeks of hiking through the mountains (a trip
that seemed to do wonders for Rillen's morale), the trio
entered a fog-shrouded gorge.  Soon, Rillen was examining
sheer rock faces; he seemed to be searching for something.

Rillen:  Aha!  (a section of rock slides away, revealing a
  dark tunnel beyond)  See?  (he enters said tunnel)
Mongo:  Now wait just one damned minute-
Flint:  Look, he's gone.
Mongo:  Shit.  We'd better follow him.  (they do)

  The tunnel was about a hundred feet long, and wound all
over the place.  The three adventurers emerged into a big
cavern, decorated with strange and wonderful carvings of
dragons and other fantastic animals and monsters.  Torches
illuminated the whole place.  A short, wizened old man stood
before them.  Somewhere, a gong was sounded, and its echo
reverberated through the cavern.

Rillen:  (bows)  Greetings, O elder.
elder:  Gleetings, O student.
Rillen:  We have come to see the Grand Master.
elder:  Of course you have.
Rillen:  (surprised)  You knew we were coming here?
elder:  We know all things.  Come.  (he trots away)
Mongo:  Weird.

  They were taken to the chamber of an even older man in
a padded chair, to whom the elder and Rillen bowed deeply.
Mongo and Flint bowed as well, not knowing what else to do.

Grand Master:  Welcome, my student.
Rillen:  Master.
other elder:  (departs silently)
Grand Master:  I knew that you would return someday.
Rillen:  Yes.  I am distressed.
Grand Master:  Of course.  You feel that your loss in the
  tournament signifies a loss of your skills.
Rillen:  How do you know about-?
Grand Master:  I know all things.  You must stay here in
  our temple and meditate until the true meaning of these
  recent events comes to you.
Rillen:  Yes.
Grand Master:  You and your friends shall stay in the guest
  rooms.  Who are your friends, by the way?
Mongo:  (stands up)  Err...nice to meet you, your holiness.
  I am Mongo Thunderhead, of the dwarves, and this is my
  faithful henchman, Flint Firelips.
Grand Master:  Oh.
Rillen:  They accompanied me to the tournament.
Grand Master:  Of course they did.  Now go and rest.  We
  shall see you at supper.
Rillen:  (he and the two dwarves exit the chamber)
shaven-headed acolyte:  (appears)  This way.

  They were taken to a large complex of guest chambers and
given a chance to bathe and clean up.

Mongo:  (kicks a stone bathtub)  Ow.  What's this?
Rillen:  A bathtub?
Mongo:  Oh, yeah.  Of course.
Rillen:  Here at the monastery, cleanliness is important.  I
  would suggest that you take this chance and wash yourself.
Mongo:  Right.  Hey, wait - I don't have a towel.  Oh, well-
acolyte:  (appears and hands Mongo a towel)
Mongo:  Where'd you come from?!?
acolyte:  All living things come from the great wheel of
  life that is the earth-
Mongo:  Oh, yeah.  Well, thanks for the towel.  (wanders to
  some other chamber)



  In the early evening, they met in a small, nearby chamber
for the supper.  Present were the Grand Master, Rillen, and
the two dwarves (apparently this was a private dinner).

acolyte:  (stops Mongo as he is about to enter the room)
  Your boots.
Mongo:  Huh?  What about them?  They're my road footwear.
Rillen:  No, he means take them off.  Here, we do not eat
  with shoes or boots on.  (he doesn't have anything on his
  own feet)
Mongo:  Sheesh.  (removes his boots)  Good thing I took a
  bath.
Flint:  Maybe you should get some new boots, too.

  They entered the chamber then, devoid of footwear.

Mongo:  (spots only a low table)  Where's the chairs?
Grand Master:  They are here.  You simply have not seen them
  yet.
Mongo:  Baloney!  There's no chairs here!
Grand Master:  (sits on the floor, cross-legged)
Rillen:  (likewise)
Mongo:  Oh.  Okay.  (also sits, as does Flint)

  The Grand Master mumbled for a moment, but then it was
apparently time to eat.  The table was covered with a wide
variety of foods - several kinds of rice and breads, a lot
of fruits, and especially numerous vegetables, many of them
types that neither of the dwarves had seen before.  Stone
cups held some odd-tasting wine, and colored candles burned
with strange-smelling smoke.

Mongo:  Meat?  Where's the meat?
Grand Master:  We do not kill animals for food here.
Rillen:  In fact, there _are_ no animals here.
Mongo:  (eyes the vegetables suspiciously)  I can't eat this
  stuff!
Rillen:  (pokes the dwarf)  Shh.
Grand Master:  (grins)  Of course you can eat this "stuff".
  You, being a decent cook, should have greater appreciation
  for these foods.
Mongo:  Huh?  (drops a potato-like thing)  How'd you know- ?
Grand Master:  I am aware of all things, my son.  Now eat.
  You shall find the food wholesome and satisfying.
Mongo:  (grumbles)

  It was true - Mongo did enjoy the meal, though he didn't
admit it.  The Grand Master and Rillen talked about various
things, and Mongo interjected his opinion from time to time.
After the meal, the Grand Master gave Rillen a weird candle
and some instructions.

Grand Master:  Light this tonight and meditate upon recent
  events.  The answer will come to you in time.
Rillen:  ...yes.

  Since everyone was exhausted (except possibly the Grand
Master - after all, what could HE have done all day long to
make him tired?), they all retired early, and slept well.



  Over the course of the next week, this cycle repeated
itself.  They would awaken, bathe (Mongo complained), eat
breakfast (fruits and bread; Mongo complained) and then
Rillen would sit around all day meditating or exercising.
Mongo and Flint were left to their own devices during this
time.  At the end of the day, they would all eat, and then
go to sleep early (Mongo complained about this too.)
  One day, Mongo was wandering around the temple, and found
Flint watching the Grand Master dance around a courtyard
like a gazelle - obviously practicing his martial arts.
Flint was emulating the wizened old man, too!

Mongo:  What's this?
Flint:  Err...I thought I'd try and see what this was all
  about.
Mongo:  Bah!  This mummery is no match for a dwarf's axe
  or hammer!  Dwarves need no dances and chanting to be
  mighty!
Grand Master:  (appears behind Mongo)  Do you truly believe
  this, my son?
Mongo:  Yie!  (whirls around)  Don't do that!
Grand Master:  I shall demonstrate.  Try to hit me with
  that war hammer you prize so much.
Mongo:  No way!  I'd kill you!
Grand Master:  You must try, so I can show you that you
  will fail.
Mongo:  You're asking for it, old man...
Grand Master:  I am older than you know.  Throw the weapon.
Mongo:  (lightly tosses the hammer at the old one)
Grand Master:  (easily dodges the thing)  No, no, no.  You
  must _concentrate_ on this.  Throw it at _me_, not at the
  wall.
Mongo:  (catches his hammer)
Grand Master:  Come, now.
Mongo:  Grr...(hurls the hammer with all his might)  Hah!
Grand Master:  (stands there and moves only slightly, as
  the hammer misses his head)
Mongo:  Huh?!?  (catches the weapon)
Grand Master:  You see?
Mongo:  Bah!  If I could get a hold of you, you'd be toast.
Grand Master:  (glides over to Mongo)  Put me in a hold.
Mongo:  (puts the old one in a headlock)  There.  (confident
  that his girdle-enhanced strength will guarantee that the
  old man stays put, he grins)  Hah!  Now I've got you.
Grand Master:  Are you certain?
Mongo:  Try me.
Grand Master:  (glides out of the headlock)
Mongo:  Fuuuuuuck!  How'd that happen?!?
Grand Master:  Come, my son.  (puts his hand on Mongo's
  shoulder)  You must learn patience and grace, fluidity
  and economy of movement.  Then you can be at peace.
Mongo:  Bah.  Thanks but no thanks, old fella.  Leave
  that stuff to Rillen.  (walks away, Flint in tow)
Grand Master:  Hmm.  Impudent as well as slow and clumsy.
  With companions such as these, it is a wonder my student
  is still alive.

  Later in the day, Rillen sought audience with his mentor.

Rillen:  Alas!  I cannot find the answer you spoke of.  I
  have meditated for a week, to no avail.
Grand Master:  (sighs)  My student, there _is_ no answer.
  You have no trouble but that within your head.  There is
  no more I can teach you here; you must apply your skills
  as often as is prudent, and practice as you see fit.  If
  you are destined to win the tournament, you shall win,
  but if not, worry not about the matter.
Rillen:  Practice?
Grand Master:  Go back into the world now, my son, and seek
  to use your arts in all things.  Your problems will have
  their answers, in time.  Patience - that is the focus of
  the matter.
Rillen:  (bows)  Yes, O Exalted One.
Grand Master:  Perhaps you needed a challenge.  Speaking of
  which...beware, for a great challenge indeed will soon
  confront not only you, but also your friends who are here
  with you, and other friends as well.
Rillen:  Challenge?  How can you know of these things?
Grand Master:  Have you not been listening all these years?
  All things are mine to know.  Now go, and tread with much
  caution.
Rillen:  Yes.  (bows again)



  Shortly, they departed the mysterious mountain monastery
and emerged into the world once more.  By the time that the
trio of adventurers had returned to Greyhawk, it was only
two weeks' time until their scheduled meeting with their
companions.  They had engaged in several battles, early in
their journey, with hostile monsters and humanoids, but had
stood triumphant after every such encounter.  Perhaps more
importantly, Rillen fought extremely well in these various
skirmishes.  Upon returning to Greyhawk, both Mongo and
Rillen trained in their professions.



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   THE PARTY (or a part of it; they have split for now):     +
+                                                             +
+   Mongo         12th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+      Flint       9th level dwarf warrior             (CG)   +
+   Rillen        12th level human warrior              (N)   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:    12/24/571 C.Y. (Common Year)                     +
+   Time:    afternoon                                        +
+   Place:   the Free City of Greyhawk                        +
+   Climate: extremely cold                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




Mongo:  Only one more week until our reunion!
Rillen:  Actually, two weeks, since the seven-day new year
  festival does not appear on the calendar.
Mongo:  Oh, yeah, okay.  Well...let's go eat, drink, and
  be merry!
Flint:  Yeah!





  Meanwhile, far, far away, a motley crew rode through the
outskirts of the Wild Coast.

white-robed man:  (silently glares around)
tall warrior with skull-helm:  All this riding around to
  collect allies bores me.  I demand blood.  When will we
  attack?
female drow mage:  (well-cloaked and hooded)  Soon...very
  soon, vengeance will be mine!  The adventurers, and
  especially that bitch Lyra, will die!





next time :  Ged and Arnold build a castle

ftp site  :  ccosun.caltech.edu, in pub/adnd/fluff/adventurers

notes     :  Inspiration for this came in part from some of
           the martial arts tournaments I've been to with my
           younger (not youngest) brother, over the years as
           he's worked his way up to black belt.  Also check
           out the movie _Bloodsport_ to get an idea of how
           serious these things can be.  Though these things
           aren't always lethal in real life, they would be
           in a movie...or in some fantasy worlds...
             This tournament did not follow any normal AD&D
           melee rules, but rather my own, which I promptly
           lost after this adventure (so don't ask    :)...
             Oh, and by the way...I can recommend to you the
           film "Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story".  Five stars.

             My little break from writing served its purpose,
           which was to give me a rest from writing and also
           let me concentrate on work.  Also I just got my
           first salaried paycheck last Friday.  Awesome.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




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