Chapter #1090

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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       +
+   1991-2021 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!                                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Mongo          19th level dwarven fighter                             +
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+   Date:          7/5/581 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          dusk                                                   +
+   Place:         the northeastern Yatil Mountains                       +
+   Climate:       cold                                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "It's why most battles are won in the first few seconds...surprise,   +
+    and overwhelming force."                                             +
+                  - from _Marvel Universe vs Punisher_ (2010)            +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   MXC.  Killer of Giants





  Behind the cover of an outcropping of boulders, the lone dwarf observed
the mountain fort.  Night would soon fall, and he didn't want to make his
move - whatever it might be - until the morrow.  For now, he maintained a
safe distance of several hundred feet, watching the fort's inhabitants and
learning their activities and patterns.

Mongo:  (squints)

  Of course, it wasn't his own safety he was worried about; between his
powerful warhammer and the other items he carried, there were at least two
ways he could destroy the fort without ever getting close to it.  No, the
problem was the innocent victims who might be trapped within - victims who
would be slain, along with the giants, by any sort of brute-force attack.
In this situation, the dwarf had to figure out some other means of dealing
with the foes.  He didn't know exactly how many of them occupied the fort,
but after watching it for the last hour, he had a good guess.  Based on its
size, he figured there were maybe forty to fifty giants inside.  They had
guards posted, about halfway between his current position and the fort; it
seemed that patrols only happened during the daytime.  The guard force was
four in number, and they blocked the only viable route to the fort, which
was a wide mountain trail that led up to the huge structure nestled in the
side of a mountain.  The giants had taken advantage of a wide fissure in
the rocky slope, and filled it with a series of wooden beams and platforms.
The fort looked both sturdy and imposing, and barring flight, there was but
a single way in:  the huge iron-banded wooden door at the end of the trail,
atop a natural slope of packed dirt and rock.  This portal was twenty-five
feet in height, and another twenty-five feet above it was a battlement on
which could be seen both sentries and piles of large rocks.



                      /                \
                     /                  |
                    |                    \
                   /                      <
                  |                        \
                 /            ___           |
                |          __{   \_          \
               /          {        }         |
              /          {         }          \
             |            {_______}            \          <-- battlement
            /            {        }             <
            >           {    __    }             \
           /           {    |##|   }              |
          /            {____|##|____}              \      <-- door
         /                  (  (                    \
        /                  (  (                      \
        |                   \  \                      >
       /                     \  \                      \  <-- ramp + trail
      /                      /  /                       \
     /                      /  /                         \



  Since Mongo had no means of flying, and couldn't just climb across the
sheer face of the mountain like a master thief, he would have to approach
using the larger trail below.  The narrow path he stood on now, which wound
along the side of the same mountain, ended several hundred feet before the
fort.  On the bright side, that meant that he could camp here without fear
of giants approaching, if they did send out any patrols in the night.

Mongo:  (eyeing the fortifications)

  Beyond the guards posted outside the huge door, and the sentries on the
battlement, the dwarf could see several wooden buildings that made up the
fort proper.  Within and around these roamed not only adult male giants,
but also females and children.  Mongo wasn't one to seek battle with the
latter, but he had to remind himself that they were all part of a tribe
that, in the big scheme of things, produced more giants that looted and
murdered innocent people.  He thought about Belphanior with a smirk; if
the insane elf was here, he'd probably deliver a threat in the guise of an
offer...something like "hand over the people you kidnapped or else I'll
bring your fort down around your ears."
  But that was the problem.  If Mongo let it be known that he wanted to
rescue those people, then they could be used against him - something which
had happened many years ago, with the minions of a lich that used any and
all means available to capture each of the party.  No, he didn't want the
giants to have that leverage.  He had to make this look like some kind of
normal attack - if any one-dwarf assault against an entire fort of giants
could be considered normal.  He shook his head, thinking about the choices
he had here.
  He was still thinking about it after he made his camp, tucked away within
a narrow crack in the mountain...and he was still thinking about it when he
finally dozed off, sometime after night fell.  And by the time he awoke the
next morning, just before dawn and surprisingly well-rested, Mongo knew
what he had to do.  It wasn't ideal, and might even result in the loss of
some of the captives, but it was the best he could come up with on short
notice.  No matter how powerful he was, and despite all his experience in
battle...he was only one person, and he could only do what he could do.  He
would try his best to free _all_ of the prisoners (assuming some were still
alive) but just as all were better than some, some were better than none.

  A short time later, just after daybreak, the sentries outside the fort's
huge door (and those on the battlement above it) gaped in astonishment as
the lone dwarf appeared in the distance, casually approaching via the ramp
leading up to their home.

hill giant sentry #1:  (part of the foursome stationed just in front of the
  entryway)  Huh?
hill giant sentry #2:  Well, look at that...
hill giant sentry #3:  (blinks slowly)  Is that a...DWARF?
hill giant sentry #4:  It are, indeed.  (he grins)  And all by itself.
hill giant sentry #1:  (looks up to the couple of guards posted on the
  ledge above the door)  Hey, you guys see this?
hill giant sentry #5:  (patrolling the walkway above, behind the waist-high
  parapet)  Yup!  (he turns to his companion)  What you think?
hill giant sentry #6:  (shakes his head)  One dwarf.  No friends.  Stupid.

  The giants had standing orders never to attack visitors right away, for
there had been times in the past when such people brought ransom money, or
tribute, or (on very rare occasions) came to speak with their chief about
private matters.  The general instructions were for those guards standing
below, in front of the door, to speak with such visitors and find out what
their business was.  Of course, if the answer was wrong, or if outsiders
did anything hostile, then they would be dealt with by clubs on the ground
and hurled rocks from above.
  The dwarf did neither of these two things.  Instead, it stopped a fair
distance from the giants' front door, put its shield down, then sat on it
and - incredibly enough - started building a small fire!

hill giant sentry #1:  (scratches its head)  Huh?
hill giant sentry #2:  That all you ever say..."huh", "huh", "huh".
hill giant sentry #1:  Huh?
hill giant sentry #2:  You dummy.
hill giant sentry #1:  I not a dummy-
hill giant sentry #3:  Stop arguing, you two.  (he eyes the dwarf in the
  distance)  Looks like he's...cooking?
hill giant sentry #4:  He am.  Cooking breakfast?  I not understand...he
  AM the breakfast.
hill giant sentry #3:  Not yet.  (grins, exposing its stumpy yellow teeth)
  But soon.
hill giant sentry #1:  (has some vague thought about how the dwarf will be
  a better meal for them if he first fattens himself up with his own meal)

  As the confused giants continued to watch from afar, the dwarf set up a
cooking pot and began making some sort of meal for himself.  In all their
time standing guard (or doing anything else in or around the fort) none of
the giants had ever seen such a thing.  Didn't the visitor know where he
was...on whose doorstep he was intruding?  Didn't he know what they did
with wandering fools, especially dwarves?

hill giant sentry #4:  Am he a wizard?  'Cause he not look like a wizard.
hill giant sentry #2:  He not one.  He look like soldier.  But all by
  self, not good for him.
hill giant sentry #1:  Huh?
hill giant sentry #3:  (shouts up to the two guards above)  What should
  we do?

  One of the two sentries posted above had already given the word; while
far short of raising an alarm, it had rather been more of a "come look at
this crazy thing" sort of call.
  And they did.  Before long, the pair of sentries had been joined by a
half-dozen more giants, who all stared in amazement at the insane visitor
camped outside their fort.

Mongo:  (casually preparing his breakfast, he subtly glances in their
  direction)

  The dwarf was pleased; he wasn't sure if his plan would actually work,
but damned if it wasn't working even better than he could have hoped.  A
large number of giants had gathered on the battlement above the fort's
entry door.  Had Mongo been a wizard, he would have been thinking about
launching a fireball now, or soon.  However, he wasn't a wizard and he
didn't command magic; he had only one first attack, and so he needed to
make it as effective as possible.

Mongo:  (removes one boot, dumping out some small pebbles, much to the
  amusement of the giants in their fort)

  He put the boot back on, noting that the section of walkway above the
huge door was just about filled to capacity.

Mongo:  (stretches, yawning)  Guess it's about that time.  (he cracks his
  knuckles and stands up)

  In front of the mountain fort, the four giants outside its front door
continued to bicker amongst themselves as they watched the dwarf.  They
weren't being inattentive; it was just that the intruder had done nothing
and seemed to pose no threat.  Even now, he had taken a short, stubby
warhammer from his belt and was examining it, turning the weapon over in
his hands.

hill giant sentry #3:  Huh?
hill giant sentry #1:  (confused)  Huh?

  The first giant's comment had been due to the dwarf hefting the hammer
and stretching, as if he somehow intended to throw it their way, which was
of course impossible-

hill giant sentry #3:  It's attacking!

  Sure enough, the dwarf had let the hammer fly, and - impossibly - the
thing was flying in their direction, its head glowing and crackling with
bright arcs of what looked like...lightning?

hill giant sentry #1:  (raises its club, covering its eyes with its free
  hand)  Huh?

  The hammer, or perhaps thunderbolt, hurtled toward the fort much faster
than any thrown weapon should have.  Before any of the assembled giants
had time to take cover, the thing struck the outer wall, just above the
door yet below the level of the battlement and ledge.  The impact was akin
to that from an actual lightning strike, complete with a thunderclap plus
a devastating amount of force.  The wall, which was fashioned from thick
planks of hardwood and had always felt quite sturdy, suddenly had a large
hole in its face as chunks of board and splinters of wood flew everywhere.
Some giants were blown backward by the strike, while others fell forward
to land on the sentries standing just outside the fort.
  Of the hammer, there was no sign...until it sailed forth again, thrown
by the dwarf - who was now a bit closer to the fort and its door.

hill giant sentry #3:  How the hell-

  The hammer's second blow demolished an entire section of battlement to
one side of the initial hole.  Once again there was a thunderclap and a
mighty electrical discharge, and once again the entire fort - and the rock
of the surrounding mountains - shook with the blow.  The few giants that
had still been standing on the battlement were knocked from it, and those
on the ground found their ears and noses bleeding from the sheer power of
these two attacks.
  And once again, the dwarf suddenly had his warhammer in hand again.

hill giant sentry #1:  I- I seen it!  It came back!
hill giant sentry #2:  What you say?

  The third blow took out the massive wooden door, and scattered the four
giants who'd stood in front of it.  As before, the random arcs of energy
from the lightning bolt that trailed the hammer danced about everywhere,
shocking more than one surprised giant.  This latest strike proved to be
too much for what was left of the wall; with a groan and then some creaks,
it began to fall apart, the wood splintering and cracking as the wall came
down in a huge cloud of debris and dust.

Mongo:  (catches his hammer as it returns, and surveys his work so far)

  A dozen giants were dead or wounded, and the fort was wide open, its
entire wall and doorway sundered, now a mangled pile of ruined wood.

Mongo:  Good start.

  The dwarf resisted the temptation to just wade into the place, at least
for now; instead, he threw his hammer again and again, his attacks powered
by his massively enhanced strength as well as the subtle but undeniable
call of the weapon itself.
  The targets were plentiful, and most of his attacks hit giants dead-on,
felling them.  Even the hammer-throws that glanced from a shield or just
missed still destroyed parts of the fort that lay behind the now-breached
wall.  After their initial surprise, the giants fought back as best as
they could, but the piles of throwing-rocks they'd had ready and available
had fallen with the wall and battlement.  Mongo used his shield to deflect
the few missiles that did come his way, and then aimed his next hammer-
throw at whoever had lobbed a rock his way.  In one case, two rocks had
arced toward him at the same time, and he'd only been able to block one;
the other had given him pause, his head ringing...but in his fury, he just
shook the blow off before retaliating.  Moments later, the giant who'd hit
him was a smashed pile of flesh and blood.

Mongo:  (slowly, steadily advances as he continues to throw his hammer and
  take out giants)

  The giants had no idea what was going on; they'd never encountered, or
even heard of, a foe such as this.  The attacker was far more powerful
than any of them...could strike from afar...and every one of his hammer-
strikes seemed to kill one of their number, bring down part of their fort,
or both.  Worse, the dwarf seemed tireless, like some sort of small but
deadly machine.
  However, there were three in the fort who were unusual among their kind
and who were doing their best to figure out a way to stop this attacker.
One was Gronkus, the gnarled old shaman of the hill giant tribe, who had
some measure of spellcasting ability thanks to his worship of the little-
known god of his race.  The second was Nurzel, the tribe's blacksmith; an
unusually tall and powerfully-built hill giant, he wore chain mail armor
and wielded a gigantic two-handed hammer that was nearly ten feet long.
The third was Blutor, the hill giant chief.  Almost as strong as Nurzel,
Blutor was unusually wily and cunning for his kind.  It was his ambition
and planning that had overseen the building of the fort and the growth of
the tribe's hold on this area of the mountains.  Blutor also wore a suit
of chain mail, but also possessed an actual enchanted weapon, a huge axe
with a single sharp, curving head.

Blutor the chief:  (watches as a giant near the remains of the wall falls
  to the dwarf's hammer)  Well, now we know what happened to the patrol
  that never came back last night, except for the one wolf.  (he shakes
  his huge head as a nearby section of damaged wall collapses)  We can't
  win like this...we have to get closer and overwhelm him.  Nurzel - rally
  whoever's left!  Gronkus - make magic to give those troops some heart!
  (as those two quickly move to obey these orders, he turns to a nearby
  giantess)  You - gather all the women and children, and retreat using
  the pass at the fort's rear.
giantess:  But we can fight-
Blutor:  (shakes his huge head)  This fight is too dangerous, and there's
  nothing you can do.  Escape while you can.  If we win, you can return
  when it's over...and if we lose, all of you will be safe.  (he frowns)
  Now hurry!  There's not much time!
giantess:  (nods reluctantly, then heads away to carry out these commands)

  Outside the fort, Mongo was still loosing deadly hammer-throws while
keeping his distance.  Despite his magically-conferred strength, which was
far greater than that of any hill giant, he knew that he could still be
overwhelmed if a group of them reached him.  Until no more giants stood
and fought, the dwarf had no intention of getting anywhere near the fort.
Besides, the battle was going well.  His powerful hammer, which he threw
at twice the normal rate due to one ability conferred by his armor, had
taken out not only the front wall of the fort but also more than a dozen
giants.  Their numbers had to be getting low by now, and although he was
starting to get winded and his arm was aching, he continued his relentless
attacks, spurred on by both Stormcrest's influence and the memory of the
massacre site he'd recently come upon.

Mongo:  (catches his hammer just moments after a giant falls from its
  blow)  Getting there-  (he pauses)  Now what's this?

  From the ruins of the fort charged a half-dozen giants, gathered in a
tight wedge-shaped formation to present less of a target.  They were still
several hundred feet away, but their long legs would cover the distance in
a short time.  Mongo hadn't considered on seeing this sort of bravery from
giants, especially after the surprise and ferocity of his initial attack;
he realized that he might not be able to stop all of this new group before
they reached him.
  Of course, that wasn't going to stop him from trying.

Mongo:  Alright, then.  (he draws his arm back, and hurls Stormcrest yet
  again)  Have at you!

  Even as the lead giant in the wedge was hit and slain, those behind it
moved around their fallen comrade and continued their mad charge.  The
dwarf couldn't know that they were now driven by magical means, a morale-
boosting spell that relied upon fear of their brutish god, rather than any
measure of courage.  He also couldn't know that the shaman responsible for
this effect had also conjured up a large, shimmering war-club of magical
force...until it flew forth and swung, the mystical weapon coming down on
his head before he had a chance to block it with his shield.

Mongo:  Ungh!  (he reels, staggering about even as his hammer returns to
  his hand)

  His helm might have been forged of powerful magical alloys and therefore
damn near indestructible, but the flesh and bone beneath it wasn't.  The
spell-driven blow caused the dwarf's head to ring, and his skull to ache.
Unfortunately for the giants, their foe had a rather hard head; while the
attack did cause him some injury...it also pissed him off

Mongo:  Aaaaaargh!  (he whirls and lets his hammer fly again, and another
  of the approaching giants falls)

  From the perspective of Blutor and his two lieutenants (in ability, at
least, if not in function) the attack was going well, and the sacrifices
were worth it.  At best, the dwarf would only have time to take out one
more giant before the rest were upon him - and that meant he'd be facing
the chief himself, his powerful blacksmith, another veteran giant, plus
the magic of the shaman Gronkus, who brought up the rear of the formation
as it charged.
  And that was pretty much what happened.  Mongo hurled his hammer a third
time, and a third giant fell, and then the others had reached him.

remaining armored hill giant:  (brings a huge, spiked mace swinging down
  from above, in an arc mighty enough to break through a stone wall)
Mongo:  (brings his round shield up to block the blow, which sends painful
  shivers down his arm)  Argh!  (he instinctively reaches his free hand out
  to catch his warhammer as it returns)

  A moment later, the giant fell, one of his knees pulverized by a blow
from that weapon.  Mongo whirled to meet the other attacks he knew were
coming, and got his shield between one of them and himself just in time.

Mongo:  (knocked back twenty feet by the blacksmith's gigantic hammer, he
  falls on his back)  Ungh!

  As he laid there, catching his breath, the enchanted force-club swung
down from above.  He rolled to the side in the nick of time, the attack
missing him by less than a foot.  Despite a growing number of aches and
pains, he leaped to his feet, driven by anger as well as the thought that
if he fell, no one would rescue the giants' captives.

Mongo:  Dammit...(he spies the hill giant shaman nearby, an odd sight at
  a lanky fifteen feet in height with white hair)  Got...to...(despite
  seeing the others charging from two opposite directions, he throws his
  warhammer again, knowing that he needs to stop that magical club before
  dealing with the closer giants)

  The sacrifice worked; the shaman's head was reduced to pulp when the
warhammer hit it, and the glowing club of force vanished.  However, just
a moment later, the remaining two giants reached him...

Mongo:  (ducks down low and suddenly dashes between the legs of one of the
  much larger attackers, escaping the trap as the two giants slam into
  each other, both falling to the ground stunned and cursing)  Hah!  Guess
  you've never fought dwarves before.

  The warrior finally had a chance to really size up his opponents.  Both
were above-average for hill giants, standing perhaps seventeen or eighteen
feet high, though the one with the huge hammer was much broader than the
other with the simple but deadly axe.  Both foes also wore well-made chain
mail armor, which was rare for hill giants.  Mongo figured these were the
leaders of the tribe and the rulers of the fort, or at least one of them
was; it was hard to tell which might be in charge.  Of course, whichever
it was, he didn't want to fight them both at the same time.

Mongo:  (hurls Stormcrest again, taking the extra time to call upon its
  thunder and lightning powers)
Nurzel the blacksmith:  (starts to raise his weapon to try and defend
  himself, but is hit in the chest by both the weapon and its lightning,
  as a loud clap of thunder rocks the nearby ground)
Blutor the chief:  (watches his strongest warrior fall, dead, with his
  armored chest nearly caved in)  What?  (feeling something odd, he wipes
  at one ear with the back of a huge hand, finding blood there)  Huh.  (he
  turns to face the dwarf, hefting his gigantic axe, and spits blood out)
Mongo:  (eyeing the much larger foe, he tightens his grip on his warhammer)
Blutor:  Why?  Why have you come here and made war on us?
Mongo:  I should ask you, why did your people attack those people in the
  pass nearby?
Blutor:  (shrugs)  It's what we do.  They are either ransom or food, and
  their coins and such go to the tribe.  Travelers trespass at their own
  peril...this is our home, and our land.
Mongo:  Not anymore.  Sooner or later, you were bound to come up against
  someone who could fight back, and now you have, and nothing will ever
  be the same.  (he looks around at the ruined fort and the scattered
  corpses of giants)  And now you have the answer to your question.
Blutor:  What?
Mongo:  You asked me why I came here and attacked your tribe and fort...
  I'll tell you why.  (he clenches his teeth)  It's...what...I...do.
Blutor:  (eyes his axe)  Enough talk.  (he takes a step toward the dwarf)
Mongo:  Let's finish this, then.

  Although his warhammer was subtly urging him to throw it and end this
quickly, the dwarf opted for melee combat this time.  He wasn't quite sure
why - perhaps he wanted the challenge, or perhaps he wanted a more fair
fight.  In any case, once they closed the distance, it didn't last long.
The giant's axe glanced off of Mongo's shield, and then his warhammer hit
an armored thigh, denting the thick metal and surprising the larger foe.
Another axe-blow was narrowly avoided, the next hammer-strike was blocked
by the axe's haft, and the opponents took a step back before circling one
another and looking for an opening.

Blutor:  (brings his axe around and above in a sweeping diagonal cut that
  could sink a ship)
Mongo:  (swings his hammer upward to meet the other weapon)

  The axe-head was crafted from steel enchanted by a hill giant shaman;
the warhammer came from another world, where it had been forged by master
dwarven smiths from rare, unknown metal obtained in the deepest caverns
of their underground domain.  Only one weapon would survive this battle.

Blutor:  (watches in amazement as his axe's head shatters into a dozen
  fragments)
Mongo:  (points the hammer at the hill giant chief)  Your rule is at an
  end.
Blutor:  (howling in rage, he charges at the other)  YAAAAAAARRRRR!

  It took exactly two more blows:  one to the giant's knee to bring him
down, and another to his head to lay him low forever.

Mongo:  (stands there, breathing heavily as his weary arms begin to ache
  now that the heat of battle is finally dying down)  Ouch.

  After a short rest, during which his magical ring began to heal his cuts
and bruises, the dwarf began to make his way toward the fort.  He ignored
any wounded giants unless they tried to attack him (three did, undoubtedly
figuring he'd slay them anyway; all three soon joined dozens of their kin
in oblivion).  As he moved through the ruined front wall and doorway, he
kept a careful eye out for any structure or other place that might hold
prisoners.  It wouldn't take much, since an unarmed escapee would have no
real chance against even a single unarmed giant.  Mongo saw a number of
things that surprised him:  a blacksmith's shop and forge, a pen of goats
and chickens, even a primitive garden.  Even though these things made the
giants seem more like regular people, he had to remind himself that they
had killed and eaten some unknown number of victims in the past (and would
have killed and eaten him as well, if given the chance).
  His biggest fear had been that the giants would use the prisoners as
hostages, and make some sort of demand, perhaps that he throw down his
hammer, take off his armor, and surrender.  Mongo doubted that he'd have
done that, for the reasons he'd recalled earlier, involving minions of a
lich.  In his mind, even if he gave up, supposedly to save the hostages,
the outcome would have been the same for them; the only difference would
have been that Mongo himself would have become one of them.  In any case,
he was glad he hadn't been forced to make such a choice.  That had been
one reason for his sudden and brutal attack:  if the giants had to deal
with him, they'd have no time to think about something as irrelevant to
the fight as their tiny prisoners.  Besides, they had no way of knowing
that Mongo even knew, much less cared about, those people.
  Fortunately, it didn't take him long to find them.  Far to one side,
past the pen that held the goats, was a small shed that had likely once
held gardening tools for the giants.  It had been converted into a large
cell, whose huge but primitive lock Mongo shattered with a single swipe
of his hammer.  Inside the building were a dozen humans - mostly women and
children, but there was an old grandfather and a couple of wounded men as
well.  They clapped and wept in relief when they saw the dwarf, and some
moved to embrace him despite the gore and grime that dotted his armored
form.

Mongo:  Calm down, calm down.  Who's in charge here?

  He'd have figured that one of the wounded men would raise his hand, but
it was actually the older man who had taken charge the moment the people
had been thrown in the cell.  Despite being skinny and old, he was feisty
and had kept the prisoners relatively calm and in order, for nearly two
days now.  He introduced himself as Elmer, and Mongo quickly put him to
work doing the same thing he'd been doing, except now without the looming
threat of imminent murder by giants.

Mongo:  Okay, Elmer, here's the deal.  It's only mid-morning and we need
  to get moving, put some distance between us and this place.  Get them
  organized and ready to march.
Elmer:  Can do.
Mongo:  What about the two wounded?  Can they walk?
Elmer:  I think so.  One's got a busted arm, which we already set, and
  the other took a mean knock to the head.  We probably ought to clean
  and properly bandage it, but that'll be easy.  (he nods toward a huge
  basin of drinking water that the giant used)
Mongo:  Good deal.  Make that happen, then.  And mobilize whoever's able,
  to find whatever food, clothing, and other supplies they can - but make
  them hurry.
Elmer:  Got it.  (he begins to carry out these directives)
Mongo:  (begins roaming the small area within the fort, looking for any
  other giants that might need to be slain)

  The dwarf's eye caught something in the distance - it looked like a
small hill giant child, which still put it at six or seven feet tall -
rounding a corner and vanishing out of sight behind some rocks.

Mongo:  (raises his hammer halfway, then sighs, lowering it even as he
  ignores the mild subliminal protests emanating from the weapon)  No.
  There's been enough death today.

  Within half an hour, the freed prisoners had collected what they could
and were ready to march.  Some wanted to take the goats, for food and milk
during the unknown journey ahead, but Mongo didn't want to deal with the
complications of caring for animals.  Besides, he had his magical horn of
food, which would be able to provide all the food and drink they needed.
His instructions about having them gather food and drink had mainly been
intended to boost their morale by giving them a productive task to focus
on after being freed.

Mongo:  (looks around)  Everyone ready?  Good.  Let's get moving.

  With that, the dwarven warrior-hero - who had lived up to that title
this day - led the survivors out of the fort and on the long path toward
civilization.  He didn't know what new dangers they would face on that
trek, but he would do his best to protect them against any threats along
the way - whether they were giants, monsters, or bandits.





next:       some others do a bit of wrap-up in Greyhawk
www:        http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:   http://www.peldor.com/
email:      tmiller@peldor.com
released:   9/3/2021
notes:      Happy Labor Day weekend 2021!  This one was interesting to
  write, because here we have a "good" character who's basically gone
  to war against a group of "evil" creatures with a track record of death
  and destruction.  But at what point does he consider sparing them, or
  some of them?  Do you give the ones who were actually fighting a chance
  to surrender?  Do you spare the wounded?  Do you spare the women and
  children?  I kind of did the best compromise I could, but nothing and
  no one is perfect.
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