Chapter #1014

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                                     +
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                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +
                                     +



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2017 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Belphanior     18th/18th/18th level elven fighter/wizard/thief        +
+   Hope           16th level female human wizard                         +
+   Irina          7th/14th level female human warrior/priestess          +
+   Otto           12th/14th level dwarven fighter/thief                  +
+   Razor Charlie  12th level human fighter                               +
+   Skektek        14th level human wizard                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:          unknown                                                +
+   Time:          late afternoon                                         +
+   Place:         unknown                                                +
+   Climate:       chilly and overcast                                    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "I'm combat-proficient.  I don't need a babysitter."                  +
+                              - Maggie Chan, from _The Expendables 2_    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   MXIV.  Two Girls Walk Into a Bar...





  After an unplanned trip to parts unknown, and a bloody battle with a
pack of savage wolves, the party has just walked through the gates of
the small but bustling town they spotted while in the wilderness...

Hope:  (looking around)  Everything seems normal enough.
Irina:  And I heard someone speaking Common, so that's a good sign.
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces)  Getting some knives...THAT would be a good
  sign.
Belphanior:  Yeah, we need to acquire weapons and supplies.  (he hefts
  a small pouch)  Fortunately, our walking-around money didn't meet the
  same unknown fate as our magic items, so unless gold and silver have
  no value here, we can get what we need, within reason.  Let's split up
  so we can work twice as efficiently.  Otto, Irina, Hope - head to that
  inn across the street, and secure us some lodgings.  Charlie, you're
  with me - we're going shopping for sharp things.
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces slightly less menacingly)  Good.

  As the others headed for the shops and marketplace at the end of the
street, Otto led his two female companions toward the inn, which had no
sign or other way of making strangers aware of its name, if it had one.

Otto:  Seems like a decent place, though.
Irina:  It'll do.

  From the outside, the inn looked pretty much like a hundred other such
places they'd seen in a hundred other such small towns:  nestled amidst
a busy street, somewhat run-down but also familiar, even inviting, with
a steady flow of people in and out.

Hope:  (glancing at the blanket-covered floating disc that bears the
  unconscious form of Skektek)  This is going to be a problem.
Irina:  We could leave him in the stable.  Though if we do, it'd be best
  if nobody ever told him that it happened.
Hope:  Heh.
Otto:  (thinks for a moment)  I'll get Skektek sorted out, if you two
  want to go in and see about some rooms.
Hope:  Sounds good to me.  (she and Irina walk up the handful of creaky
  wooden steps and enter the inn, leaving the dwarf outside with their
  floating, concealed, unconscious companion)
Otto:  (turns his gaze from the inn's front door to the covered form of
  Skektek, and back to the door)  Hm.

  The dwarf hadn't wanted to leave one or both women outside; although
he had no doubt that they could handle themselves, this was an unknown
town, and the group was at a disadvantage compared to any normal day.
Otto figured that the safest, least threatening place for them was inside
the inn, surrounded by other people.  Besides, he'd only need a short
time to secure Skektek and rejoin them.

  Inside the inn, Hope and Irina found exactly what they'd expected:  a
few dozen people in various states of inebriation, drinking at the bar
that was sturdy but had seen better days...a dozen conversations going
on within groups at individual tables...worn but functional tables and
chairs...

Hope:  (looks around, trying to decide who to talk to about lodging)
Irina:  (walks right up to the bar, deftly moving into the narrow space
  between two drunkards sitting on stools quietly nursing their drinks)
  Barkeep.
bartender:  (a portly, gray-haired fellow with sideburns and a gleaming
  bald spot atop his head)  How can I help you, young...lady?  (he gets
  a closer look at Irina's eyepatch and serious demeanor)  A round of
  drinks, perhaps?
Irina:  We need two rooms for the night.
bartender:  Oh.  (having noticed that Hope walked in with Irina, he
  almost says something about his inn not being that kind of place, but
  then thinks better of it)
Irina:  (glares right at him with her single icy black eye)  Don't even
  think it.  Let me be clear, friend:  we are travelers, our companions
  will soon be joining us, and we're tired and not in the best of moods.
bartender:  Err...right.  No problem.  As long as you've got coin to pay
  up front...?
Irina:  (produces some coins that offer a fair price for two rooms in an
  inn such as this, and covertly slides them across the bar, covered by
  her hand, so as not to attract attention)  I trust this will be enough.
bartender:  (acts like he's thinking it over for a few moments, then nods
  as he makes the coins disappear)  Coming right up.  (he steps away and
  moves elsewhere behind the bar, presumably to retrieve keys, though he
  manages to refill a couple of customers' mugs along the way)
Irina:  (watches him go about his work)
Hope:  (walks up to the bar, as one of the drunkards grudgingly scoots
  over to make a little more room)  How are we doing?
Irina:  About done.  We should have keys and lodgings shortly.
Hope:  Good.  I'd order a drink, but...(she eyes the run-down bar and its
  even more run-down customers warily)  Well.
Irina:  Heh.
bartender:  (returns, two metal keys in his hand)  Here you go.
Irina:  (takes the keys)
bartender:  I don't mean to be...forward, but you ladies might want to
  get to your rooms as soon as you're able.
Irina:  Why is that?
bartender:  Well...(he hesitates, unsettled by the steely demeanor of
  this one-eyed woman)  You two have some...admirers.  Over there.  (he
  nods his head slightly, in one direction)
Hope:  (instinctively starts to turn around to look)
Irina:  Don't.
bartender:  Uh-oh.
Irina:  (sighs)

  The "admirers" were making their way over, and they looked as stupid
as they were drunk:  three beefy, red-faced fellows who might have been
soldiers, or just as likely might have been laborers.  Irina honestly
didn't much care what their occupations were; she was more concerned
about their dispositions, and their capacity to listen and understand.

Hope:  (to Irina)  Look, maybe we should just-
Irina:  (hands over the keys)  Hold these.
Hope:  Uh...sure.
lout #1:  (saunters up to Irina)  You're new in town, huh?
Irina:  You don't miss a thing, do you?
lout #1:  (oblivious to the sarcasm)  If you need someone to show you
  around...show you a good time...
Irina:  (glares at him)  We don't.

  A sober individual might have detected the hint of menace in Irina's
one-eyed (but still withering) gaze, but the man had downed a few too
many beers that afternoon, and was a bit excited to see women he'd never
seen in his favorite drinking place.  Thus, he continued on with his
intended plan...

lout #1:  I wasn't asking.  (moves to grab her upper arm)  And it's not
  up for discussion-
Irina:  (steps back, avoiding the man's clutches, then launches a sudden
  and savage kick, driving a booted foot into his crotch, hard)  You're
  right about that.
lout #1:  URGH...(he sags, still on his feet mostly thanks to Irina's
  powerful grip now holding double fistfuls of his shirt)
Irina:  (turns the fellow around in one fluid motion, then shoves hard,
  propelling him into his two stunned friends, who catch him before he
  can fall to the floor)
lout #1:  (groaning in misery, nearly doubled over)  Urrrrrrgh...

  The entire exchange, from the attempted grab to the shoving-away of the
now-incapacitated fellow, had taken only a couple of moments.

Hope:  (stares at Irina, wide-eyed)
bartender:  Holy shit.
lout #2:  (looks at his groaning companion, then at Irina)
Irina:  A word to the wise:  don't.



  Meanwhile, outside, Belphanior and Razor Charlie approached the inn to
rejoin their friends...

Belphanior:  (frowns as a fellow smashes through the glass of one of the
  inn's front windows)  Really?  I send Otto - who's the calmest of us
  all - and the two women, and an unconscious Skektek, and STILL they
  manage to find trouble?
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces)

  They raced to and up the steps and burst into the inn, expecting to
join a full-blown barfight in progress...but were surprised to instead
find a roomful of people watching in shock as Irina dragged another man
toward the door.  From the looks of things (notably his bloody nose and
unconscious state) the fellow had done something stupid, and paid the
price.  A third man, curled up in a ball on the floor nearby and moaning
to himself, was also out of the fight.  Aside from a single overturned
chair - and of course the shattered window - there was no real damage to
the inn.

Belphanior:  (looks around)
Irina:  (nods to the elf nonchalantly)  Sorry about the mess.  Had to
  deal with something before it got out of hand.
Belphanior:  Uh...right.  (he notices Hope, who's standing nearby holding
  a couple of iron keys and looking mildly amused)
Hope:  (shrugs)
Otto:  (dashes into the inn, a piece of firewood clutched in his hand
  like a club)  Sorry I'm late!  (he looks around, confused)  What the
  hell's going on?
Razor Charlie:  (grimaces, cracking the slightest of smiles at the same
  time)  Looks like the new girl can fight.





next:       establishing themselves, for better or worse
www:        http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:   http://www.peldor.com/
email:      tmiller@peldor.com
released:   11/24/2017
notes:      July to November...another too-long wait for a new episode.
  I'm really sorry, and the word "inexcusable" comes to mind.  There was
  a time when I wouldn't have been happy with less than an episode a day,
  and now this...sigh.  The personal problems, while improving, have yet
  continued, and have now been joined by work problems.  Not to mention
  that I'm still finalizing exactly wherein is that the adventurers have
  landed in this latest adventure.  I have an overall idea about what's
  going on, and how I want it to unfold, but actually sitting down and
  writing it has caused me no small amount of writer's block.  Fear not;
  I'll get there.

    This was the "Irina isn't just a quiet cleric" episode, and has been
  in my mind since I thought up the character.
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