Chapter #258

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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.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1995 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.oit.gatech.edu  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Mongo        17th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+     Gorin      8th level dwarven warrior                    (CG)  +
+  Bosco        10th level halfling thief                      (N)  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        2/9/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       Thunderdelve Mountain, in the northern Lortmils     +
+  Climate:     temperate, within the mountain                      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Good plan, sir - if it works."                                  +
+  "My plans always work."                                          +
+                      - from the _Battlestar Galactica_ tv series  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                     CCLVIII.  Preparations





  After convincing the dwarven monarch Yod Ironbeard to help their
cause, Mongo and crew are making the necessary preparations for
the upcoming mission...

Mongo:  (flexing his arms)  Yeah, this is good.
Denk:  (Yod's chief armorer)  Glad to know ya like it.  (he checks
  the joints of the armor)  This plate mail was worn by one o' the
  ancient kings.  (he backs off and looks over the armor's fit once
  more)  He must have been a big sonofabitch...
Mongo:  Whatever.  This is nice armor, though, no doubt about it.
Denk:  And enchanted, too.  It'll protect you well.  (he holds up
  a helmet)
Mongo:  Nah, won't be needing that.  I've got my own.
Denk:  But this one matches that suit, and is magical to boot-
Mongo:  I'm taking my helm, thanks.
Denk:  Have it your way, doc.  (he puts the helm down)  Now where's
  the halfling?
Mongo:  Over-  Hey!  Where'd Bosco go?
Yod:  (enters the smithy, Spikey and Sparkey following him)  He's
  disappeared _again_?
Mongo:  (shrugs)  I told you he didn't want any armor.  You should
  have taken me seriously.
Denk:  Ya bring a halfling in here and then expect me to take ya
  seriously?  Hah!
Yod:  Hmph.  Spikey, Sparkey.  Kindly go retrieve Bosco.
Spikey:  We're on it, boss.
Sparkey:  Consider it done.

  A short time later...

Denk:  Ok.  There ya go.  Walk around.  How's it feel?
Bosco:  (encased in a tiny plate mail shell)  Hey...ungh...I can't
  lift my arms!
Spikey:  Hah!  Well at least your nose doesn't itch, eh?
Sparkey:  (snickers)
Bosco:  (trying to walk)  Urg...Ah!...Ahhhhhh!  <CLANG>
Denk:  Pick him up, Spikey.
Yod:  Maybe if we trim off the excess pieces...?
Mongo:  I'm not sure.  There may be no hope.
Bosco:  (back on his feet now, wobbling)  I don't like this!
Denk:  (studying the armored halfling, he strokes his beard)  Hmm.
  Okay, let's get that armor off of him.

  They cut the plate armor down so that it was just a torso piece,
with no extra arm or leg plates.

Denk:  There.  Whaddya think of that?
Bosco:  (strolling around slowly)  Better...but I still don't want
  to wear it!
Denk:  Ungrateful little cuss, isn't he?
Bosco:  (using his magical winged boots, he flies into the air)
  Ungh...at least I...can still fly with this barrel on.
Denk:  (surprised, he watches the halfling float upward)  Well,
  I'll be damned!  The peck can fly!
Spikey:  (glares at the armorer)
Sparkey:  (likewise)
Bosco:  (descends)  Whew, that's tough work!  I can hardly turn
  around in flight now.
Yod:  (surveying the armored Bosco) That's not much of a fit.
Denk:  Yeah, well, he's too damn small.  Nobody makes armor for
  warriors two and a half feet tall.  I had to cut up an old set
  of some kid's plate that he'd outgrown.
Bosco:  Two feet nine inches, thank you very much.  (he waddles
  around in his "new" plate mail)  <sigh>

  Shortly thereafter, as Bosco and Gorin strolled around the
fortress...

Bosco:  Are you escorting me?
Gorin:  That is one way to say it.  Another way to say it would be
  that I'm "keeping you out of trouble."  Yet another way to say it
  would be that I'm keeping you from finding your way back into
  Yod's treasure vault.
Bosco:  Bah.  You know, I'm not wearing that armor once we go down
  into the dungeons.
Gorin:  Why not?
Bosco:  'Cause it's too damn heavy.
Gorin:  Or you're too weak.
Bosco:  Hey, I can't help it if a two-foot-nine body wasn't made
  to wear plate mail around!  I'm not a walking pile of muscle like
  Mongo, but I look good.  The chicks go for that svelt look, you
  know.  (strutting)  No point in ruining my natural good looks
  with a half ton of muscle.
Gorin:  I guess you have a point.  Kind of.  But the armor will
  come in handy when a sword-blow descends on you...
Bosco:  Never.  I'm too quick, no sword-blow will even come near
  me.  Hey, speaking of chicks-
Gorin:  (wondering what Bosco would do on a real battlefield)
Bosco:  (scratching his head)  -where are all the babes, anyway?
Gorin:  Eh?
Bosco:  You know...women!  The women of Thunderdelve!
Gorin:  (looking around to see if anyone heard)  Look Bosco...just
  do me a favor and don't ask that again.
Bosco:  But there's gotta be-
Gorin:  I _said_ don't ask.

  Later that day, they surveyed the hundred volunteers assembled
by Yod, in a great hall within the fortress.

Yod:  (standing atop a table, he speaks loudly, so that all present
  may hear)  -and I ask you to remember, this may be -nay, WILL be
  a dangerous mission.  There will be orcs, lots of 'em.  And worse
  than that, no doubt about it.
assembled warriors:  (listening)
Yod:  I just want to make sure that all of you know what you're
  getting into.  Some of you may not come back.  It's not too late
  to back out now - we have more than enough volunteers.  You've
  been selected from all those who asked to go, but if you change
  your mind, it's okay.
assembled warriors:  (still listening)
Yod:  But for those of you who stay...there will be much glory, and
  battle, and maybe even treasure galore!
assembled warriors:  (begin cheering)
Mongo:  (with Gorin, et al, he stands on the sidelines)  Seems like
  they look forward to a challenge.
Gorin:  Yeah.  I hope they know what they're getting into.  (frowns)
  I hope _we_ know what we're getting into.
Bosco:  Hey, if there's more loot down there, like what I've seen
  up here, it'll be a pleasure!
Spikey:  There's more, believe it.
Sparkey:  Plenty more.  Thunderdelve's dungeons never end, so say
  the legends.
Spikey:  'Course, neither do their guardians...
Sparkey:  There is that.
Yod:  (continuing to his audience)  we'll be going down on the
  morrow, and I want each and every one of you to come back here
  right before supper, so I can go over all the details.
assembled warriors:  (cheering)
Yod:  (steps down, and walks over)  Guess they're just about ready
  for this.
Mongo:  Why'd you tell them to come back later?  Why not brief them
  now?
Yod:  Because we've got business to take care of.
Mongo:  We do?
Yod:  Yeah.  Follow me.

  The king led Mongo, and the others, to a large cavern, lit with
numerous ensconced torches - very strange indeed, given the nature
of the fortress' inhabitants.  Various objects were strewn about
the cavern:  large boulders, wooden posts mounted on stands, straw
and wooden targets, such as those archers might practice on.

Bosco:  What is this place?
Mongo:  A training ground for warriors.
Yod:  Aye.  And it is here that you're going to show me what that
  enchanted hammer of yours can do.
Mongo:  I am?  I mean, sure I am.
Yod:  If we're to be fighting side by side, I want to know what the
  weapon is capable of.
Mongo:  Fair enough.  (he hefts Stormcrest)  See that boulder over
  there, at the far end of the cavern?
Yod:  I see it.
Mongo:  (hurls the hammer)

  The weapon struck the gigantic rock, creating a deafening <CRACK>
that echoed in the cavern.  Chips of stone whizzed off in every
direction, and as Mongo's hammer returned to his gloved hand, a
large crack was now visible in the boulder.

Yod:  By Clangeddin's silvery beard, the weapons returns too!
Spikey & Sparkey:  (looking on with wonder, their mouths agape)
  Wow.
Gorin:  (smiling knowingly)
Mongo:  Yep, it always comes back.  (muttering)  With blood on it,
  if my aim is true and there are foes about...
Yod:  (hefts his own weapon, an axe with a hammer-head on its back)
  This is the legendary Axe of the Dwarvish Lords.  (he tosses the
  axe at a target, which it splits asunder...and then returns)  Mine
  returns too.
Mongo:  That's not a real hammer, it's an axe.
Yod:  True.  It is an axe.  But-  (he hurls the weapon at a small
  boulder, which it smashes to bits)
Mongo:  Hmm.
Yod:  (catches the axe)  It will work as a hammer, if need be.
Mongo:  Pretty good.  It looks like we're ready to sweep aside a few
  dozen orcs.
Yod:  Aye.  That's my basic plan:  we send the scouts-
Bosco:  Scout!
Yod:  -scout ahead, followed by you and I with our sheer power, and
  our henchpeople at our backs.
Mongo:  And the warriors and clerics in the middle.
Yod:  The orcish scum won't be expecting anyone to enter their
  territory, much less a small raiding party.
Mongo:  Damn straight!  At the least, we'll weaken their border
  guards.
Yod:  And at the most, we'll wreak havoc among their ranks.
Gorin:  (thinking about thousands of orcs, but also about the raw
  power commanded by the two dwarven heroes and their artifact-
  weapons)  Hmm.
Spikey:  (apparently thinking about the same things, he whispers to
  Yod)  Boss, we're not afraid or anything...but won't we be vastly
  outnumbered?
Sparkey:  Really.  How can we win?  More importantly, what if we get
  cut off?
Yod:  Have no fear, we're retreating at the first sign of en masse
  orcish activity.  (he eyes Mongo)  That's part of the deal.  The
  heroic scout Bosco will pave our silent, secret way into the orcs'
  ranks, or the deal is off.
Bosco:  Have no fear, I'm the one for the job!
Mongo:  (to Gorin)  You know, this would be perfect if Belphanior
  was here.
Gorin:  No kidding.  Not to knock Bosco, but Belphanior's the kind
  of advance "scout" we really need here.  Hmm, I wonder where he's
  gotten himself to?
Mongo:  Who knows?
Yod:  Besides, I have a few other tricks up my sleeve, in case we
  get into trouble.
Bosco:  (whips out a dagger)  Hey, I can do neat tricks too!  (he
  eyes a boulder)
Mongo:  Bosco, that little toothpick'll break if you throw it at
  that rock.
Bosco:  That's what you think.  (he throws the dagger, which buries
  itself in the boulder)
Yod:  (eyes wide)  Moradin!
Mongo:  What the hell...?
Gorin:  (grinning)
Bosco:  (trots over to the rock, and grabs the dagger handle)  See,
  this dagger cuts right through stone, as if it were butter.  (he
  moves the dagger handle around in a circular motion, then tugs at
  the stone)  Aha!

  The halfling was holding up a conical section of stone which he
had excised from the boulder.

Bosco:  (holds the stony trophy above his head)  Butter!
Yod:  Hmm.  Maybe this halfling will come in handy after all.
Mongo:  He's definitely got his moments.



  Later, in the early evening, Yod briefed his soldiers on the many
details of the excursion they were about to undertake.  In addition
to the hundred dwarven warriors, each a hard-bitten veteran of many
years, Yod was bringing six dwarven priests along.

Yod:  Clangeddin Silverbeard...Moradin...we've got a variety of our
  gods represented here.
Mongo:  Good news.

  Finally, there were the six adventurers:  Mongo, Gorin, and Bosco
as well as Yod, Spikey, and Sparkey.

Bosco:  Sounds like a plan!  Bosco stands ready for action!  (he
  looks around)  Err, when do we leave?
Yod:  Tomorrow morning.  For now, pay attention to the briefing.

  The king talked about the perils of fighting in confined spaces,
the dangers presented by orcish traps and pitfalls, the risks of
ambushes, and other such matters.  He also had a scribe make copies
of the old maps, in case the group got separated.  Yod pointed out
the fact that all who would be going down had infravision, and thus
no need for torches.  Finally, he introduced Mongo, Gorin, and Bosco
to the assembly, so that the dwarves would be familiar with their
newfound companions.
  After his speeches were over, Yod advised everyone to get a good
night's sleep.

Yod:  -for on the morrow, we venture into the depths!
assembled dwarves:  (cheering madly)





next:   descent
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/staff/ns/thomas.miller/adv.html
notes:  I need to call upon you, the assembled readers, to help me
  out with something.  I need someone who has a knack for artwork,
  someone to draw some pictures of the adventurers.  If I had such
  pictures, I could scan them in and put them on the Web, and on
  ftp sites as GIF files.  Come on, let's hear it:  who out there
  can draw really well?
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