Chapter #339

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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                    +
+                           +
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Rillen       17th level human monk                          (N)  +
+  Date:        7/4/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the far reaches of the Frost Barbarian icelands     +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  " fate but what we make..."                                 +
+                  - fragment from _Terminator 2:  Judgement Day_   +

                 CCCXXXIX.  The Village Revisited

  Continuing his journey to the far northeast, Rillen searches for
the Frost Barbarian village from which Arnold came - and where the
huntress Songa awaits...presumably.  Following a map made for him
by Arnold, the warrior closes in on the small village...

Rillen:  (scans the horizon, riding toward a jagged peak of natural
  stone, a landmark that heralds the proximity of mountains)  With
  any luck, we should be there any day now...(he pats his horse's
  muscled neck)  Soon, girl.  Fresh hay and a warm stable for you.
warhorse:  Neigh!
Rillen:  And what for me...?

  This disturbing question had recently surfaced in Rillen's mind,
a nagging thought that wouldn't go away.  What was to say that Songa
was even still there?  What if she had been slain in battle, or on
a hunt?  Or worse still, what if she had found another, a mate from
her own village and people?  Putting aside these thoughts, albeit
temporarily, Rillen forced himself not to worry about such things.
Whatever happened would happen, and was meant to happen.  That was
all there was to it.
  Shortly after passing the rocky landmark, the warrior was met by a
force of horsed men.  Unlike the last such band, however, these were
no bandits.  Tall, most of them taller than Rillen, these men were
broad and muscular, armed with great spears that many men would have
trouble even carrying.  Their pale skin told Rillen that they were
native to these lands; the only question that remained was, were they
friendly barbarians or hostile ones?

Rillen:  (holds up his hands, speaking in broken Fruztii, the native
  language of the Frost Barbarians)  I come in peace.
barbarian:  (to his fellow)  It _is_ him!
other barbarian:  You're right.  (he gives the other a handful of
third barbarian:  (chuckles)
Rillen:  (squinting, ever so slightly)  You!  Aren't you...(he
  furrows his brow in thought)  Dolf!
Dolf:  He remembers!
second barbarian:  Amazing.
Rillen:  And you - you are Rolf!
Rolf:  Aye, that I am.
third barbarian:  I hope you remember me as well, mighty warrior.
Rillen:  Thurnock!
Thurnock:  Incredible.  He _does_ remember.
Rillen:  (looking around)  The others of your company, I do not know.
Thurnock:  But soon you will.  You shall accompany us to the village?
Rillen:  Of course.
Thurnock:  Excellent.
Rolf:  (whispering to Dolf)  -it's got to be.
Dolf:  You think so?
Rolf:  (holds up a pouchful of coins)  Care to wager?  Double or
  nothing on the money you just won from me...
Dolf:  Hmm.  I'll think about it.
Rolf:  Where's your sense of sport?

  As the barbarians and Rillen rode away, they exchanged stories.
Stories of wars, of battles, of foes vanquished - in short, stories
of everything but Songa.  Rillen couldn't find a way to bring himself
to ask the question he so desperately wanted to ask, and the gigantic
barbarians weren't volunteering any information.

Thurnock:  Lost in our lands, were you?
Rillen:  (shrugs)  The map tells of a landmark, a pair of rounded
  hills that stand up from the surrounding plain like a pair of the
  finest breasts.  But...these hills weren't where the map showed
  them to be.
Dolf:  Aaa.
Rolf:  Now we know why he was wandering, lost.
Dolf:  (nodding)
Rillen:  I was _not_ lost-
Thurnock:  Hmm.  Well, Arnold hasn't been back in awhile, so there's
  no way he could have known.
Rillen:  Known what?
Dolf:  The Breasts of Olga-
Rolf:  (to Rillen)  That's the twin hills.
Dolf:  -were destroyed by a wizard's stray spell, several years back.
Rillen:  Oh.
Thurnock:  A terrible shame.  How often does a natural landmark such
  as that come about?
other barbarians:  (looking at each other sadly and nodding)
Thurnock:  Anyhow, that explains your confusion.
Rillen:  (decides that "confused" is preferable to "lost" and lets
  the matter drop)
Dolf:  (to Rolf)  We must know _now_.
Rolf:  Don't sway his decision.
Dolf:  There is no swaying to be done.  If that's why he's here, then
  that's why he's here.  There is no fate, save that which we make
  for ourselves.
Rolf:  (nods, grunting)  This is true.
Dolf:  (moves his mount up next to Rillen's, and is surprised that
  the dark warrior's horse stands higher than his own)  Hmm.
Rillen:  What's on your mind?
Dolf:  Oh.  Rolf and I were wondering if you've come back to court
Rillen:  (betrays himself with a shocked demeanor)  What?!?
Rolf:  (nodding)  It _is_ true, then.
Dolf:  We thought so.
Rillen:  Now why would you think that?
Rolf:  Just a notion.
Dolf:  Coupled with your...(he searches long and hard for a word to
  use)...friendship, last time.
Rillen:  (his mind adrift with memories)  Nearly two years...
Rolf:  (to Dolf)  He is lovesick.
Dolf:  Aye.
Rillen:  (snaps out of his reverie)  Brothers?
Dolf:  Eh?
Rillen:  Are you and Rolf brothers?
Dolf:  No, just cousins.
Rolf:  Why do you ask?
Rillen:  I was just wondering.
Dolf:  Or trying to change the subject.
Rillen:  Would I do that?
Rolf:  Surely.
Dolf:  Too bad, then, that-
Thurnock:  (slows his mount, falling back to join the trio)  That's
  enough, Dolf.
Dolf:  (lapses into silence)
Rillen:  Luckily for me, what?  (he looks at Dolf)  What?
Dolf:  I cannot say.
Rillen:  (to Thurnock)  What is this about?  Where is Songa?
Thurnock:  I...cannot say.
Rillen:  (growing angry)  I must know!
Thurnock:  You shall, and not long from now.  (he points ahead)

  Before the small group of riders stood the barbarians' village,
its high palisade of sharpened logs protecting the village proper.
The wall also had the side effect of hiding the village from view,
to one outside, but the mere sight of it was enough to convince
Rillen that this was the same village.  The only question, now, was
what might lie within.

Thurnock:  Come.  (he leads the group toward the village gates)

next:   the answer
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:  (preferred)    (emergency)
notes:  Let's see...we last saw Songa and the gang in episodes
  #158-161 (I actually went back and read those stories before I
  started working on this one, and they weren't too bad.)  As I've
  re-learned, Olaf and Sigfried were slain in the great hunt, while
  Songa and Thurnock lived.  Also living in the village were Thorg,
  Rolf, Dolf, Isla, and others.
    Time for a side story now:  My stories contain a number of in-
  jokes, usually based on people and/or incidents from real life.
  Ever since I began lifting weights in earnest, several years ago,
  I've had a tendency to name people there, based on their general
  appearance and behavior.  In recent years, my friend Mitch and I
  have made a science out of this.  Olaf was our name for a big,
  rude, bearded guy who used to leave his towel laying around to
  hold benches for himself.  He also had a tendency to throw the
  dumbbells around.  Thus was he dubbed Olaf.  Sigfried was a guy
  who hung around before the coming of Olaf; Sigfried's main claim
  to fame was that he liked to scream while lifting.  Don't get me
  wrong:  he pushed himself really hard.  Maybe too hard.  But he
  screamed and grunted and groaned more than any other lifter I've
  ever seen.  He was short and pretty well-cut.  Thus was he dubbed
  Sigfried.  And thus ends the side-story.
    Epilogue:  the Frost Barbarians Olaf and Sigfried, of course,
  died at the claws and fangs of the great beast, which ought to
  tell you something.
    If I ever seriously re-read all of my stories, I could come up
  with one of these little tales for every 5 episodes or so.
    Now, while I'm in a story-telling mood, here's another:

  I had a good adventure Friday night.  After watching a rock-climbing
class (we didn't climb because it turned out not to be a beginner-level
sort of deal) my friend and I stopped by three sleazy strip joints (we
had to kill time SOMEwhere) then met his girlfriend and a few other
friends from work at the Outback steakhouse.  One thing I like about
the Outback is that they have Castlemaine XXXX on draft.  22 ounce
drafts, to boot.  Naturally, I had several before and while eating
dinner.  Steak...another thing I like about the Outback is that their
steaks are redder than any other place's.  Nothing, but _nothing_ beats
blood & beer.  I think my ravings drove a family out of the booth next
to ours but this hasn't been verified.
  After that, we went to see "Rumble in the Bronx."  In the bathroom
stall (don't ask) I ran into the little metal hook on the inside of
the stall door and cut my shoulder open.  It was pretty cool, and made
a nice wound besides.  I remember holding a wad of paper towel on it
for about three hours to stem the blood flow.  I guess it was all that
blood from dinner, leaking back out.  Anyway, the movie was cool, and
then we ended up at Fat Tuesday, where Mitch and I proceeded to steal
a gigantic stack of postcards en route to Baja Beach Club, where we
passed the postcards out to ladies, telling them that they were free
passes.  Boy, those women bought it, hook, line, and sinker.  Maybe
we should have charged for the free passes.
  A larger-than-life hero, that's me.

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