Chapter #331

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

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+    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 1991-6 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 (or a current splinter of it, anyway):                 +
+                                                                   +
+  Belphanior   14th/14th/14th lvl elven fighter/mage/thief  (CN/E) +
+  Otto         7th/8th level dwarven fighter/thief            (CN) +
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+  Date:        12/14/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                        +
+  Time:        nighttime                                           +
+  Place:       the mountain town of Helgate                        +
+  Climate:     very cold                                           +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Those who don't wanna get shot...better head on out the back."  +
+                                             - from _Unforgiven_   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





             CCCXXXI.  Carnage at the Sword & Cup





  While having a drink at the Sword & Cup tavern, Belphanior and
his tablemates have found their rest and relaxation interrupted
by a group of armed, dangerous bandits.  All of these fellows are
warriors who wear red armbands, signifying them as members of the
band led by the as-yet-unseen rogue Nerg.

bandit:  I __asked_, who killed those two men outside?!?

  There was no answer from the tavern's patrons and employees,
probably because they feared Belphanior more than they feared
these brigands.

other bandit:  (raises a crossbow, aiming it at a random fellow at
  a nearby table)  Maybe we should start plugging 'em til somebody
  talks.
third bandit:  Maybe...but not yet.
first bandit:  Right.  (he picks up his axe from the floor)
other bandit:  What to do, then, Arno?
Arno:  (obviously the leader of this band)  Hmm...well, we loot and
  pillage, for a start.  Maybe someone'll have something to say when
  they see that we mean business.  (to the one who asked)  If not,
  then we start shooting.
bandit:  All right!
other bandit:  (pulls Claudia tighter to him)  Baby, we're gonna
  party all day and all night!
Claudia:  (turns her face to avoid the bandit's sloppy kisses)
Ganzer:  (in a hushed voice)  What're you gonna do?
Belphanior:  Oh, I've got a plan.  I just need to time things right.
Jamaine:  Well, whatever you're planning to do, you'd better do it
  quickly...
bandit:  (waves a crossbow in their direction)  I warned you three!
  (he stalks toward them)
other bandit:  (across the room, he vaults over the bar, pushes
  Rexxus out of the way, and hefts a huge keg, setting it down on
  the bar-top with a loud crashing sound)  Grog!
third bandit:  (kicks some mild-mannered patron in the face, and
  grabs a leg of the victim's roasted lamb, ripping a huge chunk
  from it)  Mmm, good!
fourth bandit:  (wanders over to a table where an attractive, dark-
  haired woman sits, a glass of red wine in one hand and a half-full
  decanter in the other)  You!
dark-haired woman:  (raises one eyebrow)
bandit:  Up and at 'em, toots!  You're coming with me.
dark-haired woman:  I don't think so.
bandit:  Whoa!  (to a nearby bandit)  Well, lookee here!  This one's
  got fire!
other bandit:  Well, we know how to quench that, now don't we?
bandit:  That we do!  (he reaches for the woman, laughing)  No more
  games, wench!

  When the man placed his beefy hand on the woman's shoulder, her
face darkened considerably.  Then, her opposite hand shot up in a
blur, grabbing her assailant's hand and twisting it around with
bone-snapping force.  As the bandit shrieked in pain, the woman
half-stood, black cloak swirling - she was quite tall, Belphanior
noted - and brought the decanter of wine around, smashing it into
the bandit's face.  It was hard to distinguish wine from blood, but
both were definitely running down the brigand's face.
  As for the woman, she now stood straight, facing the bandits and
everyone else in the tavern.  They looked her up and down - and up.
She _was_ tall, about six feet, with a pale complexion.  Her limbs
were smooth and well-toned - what could be seen of them, anyway.
The woman wore high boots of black, laced leather, which extended
most of the way up her long, slim thighs.  Her tunic, too, was of
black leather; after tapering to cover her slim waist, it continued
upward to shoulder level - and then ended.  Her arms and neck were
bare, revealing her creamy white skin.  The woman's ample bosom was
held in check by a laced bodice which left little to the imagination.
This magnificent body was topped by a perfect face, pale and oval
and surrounded with a long mane of wavy, jet-black hair.  The tall
woman's features were almost noble - yet sensuous at the same time:
a straight, aquiline nose, a small mouth with full red lips, arched
black eyebrows, ears nearly covered in black hair...and her eyes!
These pale green orbs practically exuded confidence and power; there
was no doubt in Belphanior's mind that the black-tressed woman was
utterly unintimidated by her situation, or the odds.

bandit:  (standing there, staggering and bleeding, bits of glass
  imbedded in his face)  Urr...
dark-haired woman:  (plants a foot squarely in the fellow's chest,
  and sends him hurtling away to crash into two of his fellows)
other bandit:  Holy shit!
third bandit:  She busted Gorvis in the fuckin' head!
Arno:  No one does that!  (to his men)  Guys - get her!
nearest bandit:  (rushes in, intending to tackle the woman to the
  floor)  C'mere!
dark-haired woman:  (leaps up onto a table, avoiding the man's rush)
bandit:  (whirls, takes a few lunging steps, and grabs at the woman's
  legs)
dark-haired woman:  Cur!  (she kicks the attacker in the face, hard,
  sending blood and teeth spraying from his mouth)
bandit:  Argh!

  Another kick broke the bandit's nose and sent him to the floor,
and caused the man's companions to reconsider their quarry.

Arno:  Enough of this!  (he waves his axe)  To arms!

  Except for those already armed with crossbows, every bandit in the
tavern drew a sword, raised a mace, or hoisted an axe.  Six of their
number now surrounded the woman atop the table, cracking jokes about
dances and other such matters.  The woman laughed - a deep, throaty
laugh that put her foes on edge - and drew a long, thin rapier from
a heretofore-unseen sheath.  The blade whistled as the woman swung it
back and forth a few times, almost experimentally.

bandit:  Lady, that skinny little sword ain't good for shit.  (he
  waves a big bastard sword)
dark-haired woman:  Come here, then.

  The six bandits moved as one, but the woman didn't wait for them
to begin their attacks.  Leaping from the table (the Sword and Cup
had high, vaulted ceilings) she flipped around in midair, her thin
sword whistling, and landed behind the bandit who had spoken.  All
six foes turned to regard her, surprised, for they had barely seen
her move.

bandit with bastard sword:  (looking confused)

  Suddenly, the man's head fell from his body, landing on the floor
as a great gout of blood gushed up from his neck-stump.

other bandit:  Crap...
dark-haired woman:  (taking advantage of this momentary confusion
  and shock, she charges into the midst of the bandits)  Die, scum!

  It was incredible.  The woman put on a display of swordplay and
agility the likes of which none of the bandits had ever seen...one
that perhaps not even Belphanior had ever seen.  Moving past
slashing swords and swinging axes with ease, the black-clad woman
dealt death at every turn, her rapier flashing and whirling.  At one
point, she punched a foe in the stomach, then struck while he was
doubled over, slicing his throat open with a quick slash.

other bandits:  (watching in shock)
other patrons:  (watching in awe and fear)
Belphanior:  (watching in admiration)  Wow!  Look at her go...!
Jamaine:  She's really something, isn't she?
Belphanior:  She sure is...
Ganzer:  Err...hate to break your concentration, m'friend, but she
  could use a little help, no?
Belphanior:  Help?  (he looks at his sword, which at some point
  became half-unsheathed)  Oh, yeah...

  Belphanior joined the battle in dramatic fashion, taking down the
bandit leader, Arno, with a backstabbing strike.  Before the body
hit the floor, the elf had downed another foe, splitting the man's
head in half.

Belphanior:  (euphoric with life-force, he waves his bloody sword
  in great arcs)  Yaaaaaaa!

  Even the black-haired woman noticed this outburst.  Of course,
the six bandits who had faced her were all dead or dying, and she
had moved back against the bar.

Belphanior:  (winks at the woman)
dark-haired woman:  (looks amused)

  Then, the elf was forced to melee once more, as three attackers
tried to overpower him.  Elsewhere, Claudia (who had wriggled free
of her distracted captor's grip) brought her serving-tray down on
the bandit's head with all her might.  It worked - the man fell and
stayed fallen; the waitress promptly dashed behind the bar to take
cover.  Meanwhile, Rexxus had grabbed his "knocker" - a heavy club
of bronzewood - and was crouching behind the bar as well, bashing
any bandit who came within reach.  While not a warrior, Rexxus was
also not a coward, and besides, he was quite angry at the moment.
  The black-clad woman, in the meantime, had somehow gotten her sword
pinned against the bar by an axe-wielding foe.  Another bandit swung
a longsword in a high arc, intending to rid the world of this odd,
troublesome woman.  He never completed the thought, for she let go
of her weapon and spun around with a raised leg.  Her booted foot
collided with the bandit's neck, knocking him onto the bar-top; with
a quick flip, she brought her other foot down upon the axeman's
wrist, producing a loud snap.  As the man yelled in agony, dropping
his axe, the woman hooked her foot under her own weapon, and with
a deft kick, put the weapon back in her hand.  A moment later, the
wounded axeman was on the floor, amidst a growing pool of blood.
  The bandit atop the bar grabbed at the woman then; she whirled
about, grabbed the collar of his tunic with one hand, and flung him
away.  The man slid along the bar, smashing through mugs and bottles
until he collided with a post.  Rexxus whacked him over the head
once, for good measure.  He then turned to look at the black-clad
woman, but she was already busy again, defending herself against a
axe-wielding bandit by kicking a table up between herself and the
attacker.
  Meanwhile, those who had been eating, drinking, and making merry
before the bandits' arrival took this opportunity to flee, running
out the front door as quickly as they were able.  As for Jamaine
and Ganzer, they had backed into a corner, giving the bandits the
impression that they were harmless bystanders.  However, at one
point when an opportunity presented itself, Ganzer tripped up a
running bandit, and Jamaine broke a chair over the fallen man's
head.
  Nearby, Belphanior was somewhat pressed, for a number of blows
had eroded all his stoneskins away, and he was taking wounds now.
Every time he slew or injured a foe, another seemed to take his
place.  Though he could regenerate wounds every time his sword
took a foe's life, Belphanior still needed to avoid being swamped
by sheer numbers - the elf realized that he needed to break free
and get back into the open, so he made it happen.  Kneeing one foe
in the gut, he then voluntarily took a hit in the shoulder from a
dagger, then pushed forward, ignoring the pain and the blood from
the wound.  Ducking under a whirling sword, he stabbed upward, and
kicked the wounded foe into another bandit.  A quick roll and leap
propelled Belphanior back into the center of the room, where he
promptly slew another foe, nearly healing his shoulder wound as
the bandit's life energy flowed through Blackrazor.

  And so it went...until, moments later, the tavern was silent
save for the labored breathing of the surviving combatants.  Still
behind the bar were Rexxus and Claudia, both weary but uninjured.
Ganzer had a nick across one bicep, from a crossbow bolt, but he
didn't seem to be losing much blood.  Jamaine was actually smiling
as he sat down in a chair and took a fresh swig from his mug.
Belphanior, however, bore several wounds; two crossbow bolts were
lodged in his body.  He also had various cuts and scrapes, ranging
from superficial to serious.  As for the black-garbed she-warrior,
the woman had escaped the melee with only scratches and shallow
cuts.  Looking at the gory carnage - more than a dozen dead, maimed
bodies - she smiled sweetly to herself, wiped and sheathed her sword,
and walked in Rexxus' direction.

Belphanior:  (to Jamaine)  Well, that's a hell of a lot less red
  armbands to menace our citizens.
Jamaine:  You're wounded...bleeding!
Belphanior:  It'll pass.
Ganzer:  Man oh man, this is gonna make you a legend.
Belphanior:  (turns)  I'm not the only one...

  Nearby...

dark-haired woman:  (to Rexxus)  Bartender!
Rexxus:  Eh?
dark-haired woman:  I'll need another bottle of that red wine.
Belphanior:  And two glasses.
dark-haired woman:  (looking amused again)  Oh?
Belphanior:  (finally sheathes his own still-bloody sword)  I'd be
  delighted if you would join me for a drink.





next:   more fun stuff
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
notes:  None at this time.
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