Chapter #220

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                              +   +
                            +       +
                          +           +
                        +               +
                      +                   +
                    +                       +
                  +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                    +                       +
                      +      Epic II      +
                        +               +
                          +           +
                            +       +
                              +   +

+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells,    +
+  and other terms used in these stories are the property of  +
+  TSR, Inc.  However, this does not mean that TSR in any     +
+  way endorses or authorizes their use, and any such items   +
+  contained within these stories should not be considered    +
+  representative of TSR in any way, shape, or form.          +
+    Due to the nature of the Internet, these stories have    +
+  been widely available since 1991.  I have given them to    +
+  the world freely, and have never intended to market them   +
+  or in any way make money.  However, due to TSR, Inc.'s     +
+  copyright restrictions, old episodes of the Adventurers    +
+  are no longer being archived on any ftp site anywhere.     +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are    +
+  copyright 1994 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                    +
+                    +
+   THE PARTY (or more accurately, a fragment of it):         +
+                                                             +
+   Belphanior    13th/14th/14th level high elven w/m/t  (CN) +
+      small immaterial wispy thing                           +
+   Rillen        17th level human warrior                (N) +
+                                                             +
+   Otto, a dwarf                                (guest star) +
+   Date:    7/14/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                      +
+   Time:    late morning                                     +
+   Place:   the northern reaches of the Barrens              +
+   Climate: cool                                             +
+   "Have you ever killed anybody?"                           +
+   "Yeah, but they were all bad."                            +
+                                        - from _True Lies_   +

                CCXX.  Looking For Trouble

  Belphanior and Rillen, along with the cynical dwarf Otto,
have been on the move for three days, ever since leaving the
grisly scene of destruction in a certain small town.

Otto:  I'm glad we left that chick with the caravan we ran
  into.  She didn't really have much use.
Rillen:  She was a survivor.  No more, no less.
Otto:  (to Belphanior)  What do _you_ think?
Belphanior:  I think it's fortunate that the caravan had
  spare horses to sell us.  Otherwise, you'd both be walking
  and I'd be flying.
Rillen:  Hmm.  (wondering if the horses they bought from
  the caravan were worth the outrageous price)
Otto:  (wondering if the caravan has come across the dead
  town by now)
Belphanior:  (wondering if the fog was just a one-time
  phenomenon, or if it will reappear elsewhere at some
wispy thing:  Brrrrp.  (it gazes at the horizon, where the
  fringes of a village are barely visible)
Otto:  Another village?  Already?
Rillen:  Good.  It's about time to replenish our stores of
  road food.
Otto:  Yeah...'course, the last small town we were in-
Belphanior:  Enough.

  With the hour, they rode into the small town.  Whereas
the inhabitants of the last such place (before the fog) had
regarded the adventurers with a look of distrust, those
here were looking at them with an expression of fear.

Belphanior:  (smiles)

  The trio quickly headed to a tavern, whose sign proclaimed
it as the "Red Wolf Pub."  A scratched and beaten sign hung
above the door to the place, depicting the crimson head of
a fierce-looking wolf.

Otto:  Well, _that's_ original.

  Tying their horses outside, the three entered the place,
seating themselves at the bar.

bartender:  Hi there, strangers.  What'll it be?
Belphanior:  Beer.
Otto:  Ale.
Rillen:  Water.
wispy thing:  Grmst.
bartender:  (trying not to look at the wispy thing)  Ok,
  coming right up...(he wanders away to fetch the drinks)
random patron:  (chuckles)  Water...
other patron:  (whispering)  Hey, I wouldn't make fun of
  that guy.  I mean, look at the size of him...!
Rillen:  (whistling softly, he pretends not to hear)
Belphanior:  Hey, go easy.  They're just ignorant locals.
Rillen:  Yes.
Otto:  (wondering how successful a barroom brawl in here
  would be)

  As they sat there, enjoying a respite from the dusty
road, there was some commotion outside, and then a group
of five mangy-looking fellows sauntered into the tavern.
A small man who was on his way out was knocked aside as
they entered; he quickly made himself scarce.

mangy fellow:  (strolls up to the bar)  Well!  How about
  a round of drinks for me and my friends?
bartender:  Beer?  Wine?  Ale?
other mangy fellow:  Yeah!
first mangy fellow:  (eyes the adventurers)  An elf?
Belphanior:  (drinking his beer silently, not really
  paying attention)
first mangy fellow:  (looks at Otto)  A dwarf?!?
other mangy fellow:  Shit, they'll let anyone into this
other mangy fellows:  (snickering)
various patrons:  (either relocate to more distant tables
  or leave)
Otto:  (consider various methods of murder)
bartender:  (approaches, apparently planning to say some-
fifth mangy fellow:  (points at the man)  Don't bother
  us.  We've had a real bad day.
first mangy fellow:  (to Belphanior)  Say, boy, did you
  hear me?
Belphanior:  (sipping his beer)  Did you say something?
fellow:  Yeah, I sure did.  I said that they'll let anyone
  in here!  (he looks around)  Even wusses like you.
Belphanior:  (puts down his beer)  Okay, that's it.
fellow:  Whoooooooo...(he laughs, as do his friends)  He's
  mad now...(he quickly produces a large knife)  Still mad
  at me, elf?
Belphanior:  You're gonna look awful funny with that knife
  sticking out of your ass.  (his red eye glows menacingly)
fellow:  Huh?  Hey, you're not funny, pal.
Belphanior:  (looking decidedly angry now)  I'm never funny.
fellow:  You little punk!  (he moves to slash the elf)

  Belphanior blocked the attack, knocking the knife from
the fellow's hand with one fist and lashing out with the
other.  The mangy fellow was knocked back about ten feet,
crashing into a table and shattering it into small bits.

mangy fellow:  (stands up, his nose bleeding profusely)
  Whoa!  You pack a mean punch for a skinny little elf.
Belphanior:  You should see what happens when I get mad.
other mangy fellow:  (moves in from the side)
Rillen:  (stands up)
third mangy fellow:  Get lost, pal.
Rillen:  No, you get lost.  Before I break something.

  Tensions ran high, as both parties squared off.  In the
end, though, it wasn't Belphanior, or the hostile fellows,
or even Rillen, who set off the proverbial powderkeg...

Otto:  (faster than most eyes in the room can see, he
  whips out a barbed knife, and stabs at one of the five
  mangy fellows who is leaning on the bar)
fourth mangy fellow:  (suddenly finds his hand pinned to
  the wooden bar)  EYAAAAGH!!!  (he struggles, in vain,
  for barbed weapons are notoriously effective)  AAAARGH!
Rillen:  (to Otto)  Old enemies of yours, or something?
Otto:  What, are you kidding?  I've never even seen these
  assholes before!
first mangy fellow:  (draws a longsword)  No more games!
Belphanior:  (draws Blackrazor in a split-second)  Friend,
  you're a few seconds from the worst mistake of your life.

  However, the bandit (or whatever his occupation was) would
have none of it, and they quickly fell to blows.  The sound
of metal on metal rang and resounded throughout the tavern.
The others quickly sprang into action...

other mangy fellows:  (rush in to attack Rillen and Otto,
  weapons drawn)  Get 'em!
Rillen:  (leaps up onto a table)  Wau!
Otto:  No sword?  (he draws a shortsword, himself)
Rillen:  (muttering)  I don't need one.
Otto:  Hey, if _I_ was attacked by a bunch of idiots with
  swords and axes, _I'd_ certainly want one of my own.

  As two attackers charged, Rillen grabbed a chandelier
and kicked out, one leg to his left and the other to his
right.  Both attackers reeled, bleeding, and one dropped
his weapon, such was the stunning effect of Rillen's kick.

Rillen:  See?  No weapons.
Otto:  Point taken...(he ducks a blow from a third foe, and
  stabs the man in the foot)  'Course, there's something to
  be said for a good sharp sword.  (he looks his wounded
  foe in the eye)  Wouldn't you say?
fifth mangy fellow:  Arrrrgh!  (he hops around)
Otto:  (to Rillen, who has dropped back to the floor)  See?
  He agrees with me.

  Meanwhile, nearby...

Belphanior:  (parries a swordblow)  Ha!
first mangy fellow:  Damn!  (he stabs inward, but the lithe
  elf dodges, almost too easily)  Fuck!
Belphanior:  Face it, you're outclassed.  (he stabs the man
  in the shoulder)
first mangy fellow:  Argh!
Belphanior:  (kicks out, knocking the opponent away)  Care
  to try again?
first mangy fellow:  Grr...(he shifts his sword to his other
  hand, and charges in again)  Die!

  Closer to the bar...

Rillen:  (punches at a charging foe)  Yai!
second mangy fellow:  (hit in the temple, he crumples like
  a deflated balloon)
third mangy fellow:  (having leaped, he gets the warrior
  in a headlock)  I'll snap your neck, you bastard!
Rillen:  I think not.  (he grabs the man's wrist and
third mangy fellow:  (feels bones grind as they crack and
  crunch)  Aaargh!  (he wavers on his feet)
Rillen:  Chi-yah!  (executes a perfect spinning round kick,
  sending the man flying through the tavern's door)
bartender:  (staring in awe)
Rillen:  Efficiency, my good fellow.
fifth mangy fellow:  (still hopping around like a one-legged
  frog, he tries to slash at Otto)
Otto:  (dances aside, and then stabs the fellow in the
  neck with surprising accuracy, quickly ending his goofy,
  lopsided hopping)  Oops.  So sorry.

Belphanior:  (blocks a flurry of blows and thrusts, then
  slashes out, decapitating his foe with one sudden, final
  blow)  Hah!
first mangy fellow:  (falls to the ground, headless)
random taverngoer:  (jumps as the head rolls into his foot)
Belphanior:  (closes his eyes, feeling the rush of power
  through his sword)  Ahhhh...

  The fourth mangy fellow, his hand stuck to the bar, just
sat there and stared, transfixed.

Otto:  (turns his gaze, and his sword point, toward the
  remaining opponent)  What are _you_ looking at?
fourth mangy fellow:  Uh...err...
Rillen:  (approaches, his fist raised)  Trust me, this is
  going to hurt you a lot more than it's going to hurt me.
  Hai!  (he pops the guy in the head with a lightning-
  quick blow, causing him to slump, unconscious)
Otto:  (watching gravity run its course on the hand impaled
  by his knife)  Ow!  (he climbs up onto the bartop, and
  works the knife back and forth to remove it)
Rillen:  (grabs the unconscious forms of the fourth and
  second mangy fellows, and drags them out the front door)
Otto:  Whoa there, big guy!  (he follows the warrior out,
  picking and dragging at the fallen foes' pockets and belt

  Shortly, they had cleaned their weapons, and were sitting
at the bar, finishing their drinks as if nothing had ever

Otto:  Urp!
older woman at table:  (faints)
Rillen:  (waxing philosophical, to the others)  Why is it
  that we can't enter any small town without running into
  some kind of trouble?
Belphanior:  Those weren't trouble.
Rillen:  True...more like...practice.
Otto:  Geez, I'd hate to see what you call a challenge...
bartender:  (in a hushed voice)  You know, those bandits
  were part of a larger gang.  The Red Eyes own all the
  action in these parts.  They'll be around...and when they
  find out what you've done, you're in trouble.
Otto:  Red Eyes?  (he glances at Belphanior)
Rillen:  Hmm.
Belphanior:  Red Eyes?  I'll show them what a red eye really
  is...up close and personal.
bartender:  Oh, no, you don't want to do that.
Belphanior:  Really?  Why not?
bartender:  There's an awful lot of 'em, and they're always
  armed to the teeth when they ride through, not to mention
  mean as hell.
Otto:  Really?
Belphanior:  So?
bartender:  So, what I'm saying is that you'd better clear
  out while you still can.  Five bandits isn't much when
  compared to fifty, know what I mean?
Belphanior:  You're right.  Fifty is ten times as much fun.

next time :  a showdown, of sorts

notes     :  The Red Wolf pub was named after the beer that
  Peldor and I just tried at dinner.  Wasn't too bad, either.

    The survey results are still coming in.  Expect a full
  demographic chart of all the information - sometimes my
  statistician half takes over ('course, I have something
  like 13 halves...)

    If you have a Mosaic or WWW client program, I have a
  home page:
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