Chapter #377

previous chapter (#376)                                                                  next chapter (#378)

                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      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 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                    +
+                           +
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Otto            7th/8th level dwarven fighter/thief         (CN) +
+  Eduardo         young lad                                    (N) +
+  Date:        1/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       Belphanior's castle, in Helgate                     +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "Put your genius into your life.  Put only your talent into      +
+   your work."                                                     +
+                                                        - unknown  +

                 CCCLXXVII.  Tricks of the Trade

  While Belphanior was away, pursuing some dark end or another, Otto
toiled in his small workroom, adjacent to his room within the castle.

Otto:  (replaces a small, sharp razor in its slot)

  The dwarf's "shop", as he liked to call it, was a 20'x30' chamber
reached through his bedroom.  The workroom had no windows, and the
only way in (or out) was through the thick, iron-banded oaken door
in the bedchamber's western wall.  This door held only a single
lock, but it was a well-designed, intricate affair that would keep
even a master thief busy for a time.  Besides, a deadly needle trap
waited within the door's handle, out of sight.  This tiny pin held
a rare and highly toxic poison, whose antidote Otto kept in a metal
vial around his neck.  He was good, but he was also cautious.
  The bedchamber was rather spartan.  A small bed, really little
more than a sturdy cot, rested in one corner.  The thing was cheap
and functional:  a hard mattress, sheets and blankets, and a single
pillow.  Some might have complained about such sleeping conditions,
but Otto had spent many nights outdoors, on hard, rocky ground,
and wasn't hard to please.  Besides the bed, he kept a small desk
and chair; atop the desk were an inkwell, a couple of quills, and
various scrolls and documents.  To one side sat a dresser, within
which was the dwarf's collection of clothes and boots.  Laundering
these things was no problem, as Belphanior had unseen servants
wandering about the castle.  Every morning, anything placed in the
wooden basket outside Otto's room was taken away, and returned
that afternoon, clean, dry, and pressed.
  The only other furniture in the main bedchamber was a large
washbasin.  Given to Otto by Belphanior, this thing filled with
hot or cold water upon command, and drained itself magically if
ordered to do so.  Otto used it on those rare occasions when he
wished to bathe or clean himself up.
  His workshop, where the dwarf was currently, was a much more
interesting place.  As noted, it was 20'x30' and had no windows
or other entrances.  The door opened in the center of one of its
longer sides; the entire perimeter of the room (aside from the
doorway) was taken up by a 4' shelf set about two feet high.  On
this wraparound shelf were all manner of tools, containers, and
weapons.  It was here that Otto worked on his poisons, cleaned
his weapons, and tested various inventions.  He also came here
to do his deep thinking, for he had learned that he concentrated
best with the tools of his trade at hand.
  A knock at the bedroom door caught his attention.  His ears,
sharper than most from practice and experience, barely registered
the sound.  Standing, Otto went back to the bedroom, and then to
its door.  If it was Belphanior knocking, he probably had some
new directive or question concerning Helgate.  If it was Razor
Charlie, he probably wanted sanction to assassinate somebody.
Strangely enough, it was neither.

Eduardo:  (stands before the open door)  Hello.
Otto:  Eduardo.  Come on in.  (he heads for his desk and sits
  down, shuffling through some of the scrolls until he finds a
  particular one)  Got that report for me?
Eduardo:  Yes, sir.  (he frowns with concentration)  The guild
  of leather-workers is still unhappy with the new tax law, but
  they will deal with it.
Otto:  No plans to rebel?
Eduardo:  No.  They aren't anywhere near that point.
Otto:  Good.
Eduardo:  Also, the whores are still trying to figure out who
  killed Claudia, but they do not think it was Belphanior.
Otto:  (thoughtfully)  Neither do I.
Eduardo:  What else...oh, Miles the glass-maker is cheating on
  his wife.
Otto:  He is?
Eduardo:  (nods)  I think she will find out, before long.  He's
  not being very careful...and that is a bad mistake.
Otto:  I'll bet.
Eduardo:  (spies the open door to the workroom)  Oh, what's this?
Otto:  Just my workroom.
Eduardo:  Can I see?
Otto:  (ponders for a moment)  ...Sure.

  The dwarf took his young charge into the shop, and had to act
quickly to keep the lad from touching dangerous blades and foul

Otto:  Hands off.  Don't touch _anything_.
Eduardo:  (nods, intelligence overcoming curiosity)  Yes, sir.
Otto:  (replaces a vial in its place)
Eduardo:  What are all these bottles and jars?
Otto:  Poisons, mostly.  This is where I make them.
Eduardo:  (wide-eyed)  You _make_ them?
Otto:  That's right.  (he holds up one clear jar, within which is
  the green, bloated body of some sort of fish)  This is a coral
  puff-swimmer, from the coasts of Hepmonaland.  Its body is covered
  with spines, which secrete a powerful toxin.
Eduardo:  It kills?
Otto:  Small fish...people won't usually die.  The nice thing about
  the stuff is that, if removed, filtered, and distilled, it's a
  guaranteed paralysis poison.
Eduardo:  Oh.
Otto:  (points to another jar, in which a dead snake is held)  Not
  like that grey deathviper, whose fangs emit a poison four times
  more deadly than a cobra's.
Eduardo:  Wow.
Otto:  Then there's spiders.
Eduardo:  You kill them too, to take their poison?
Otto:  Sometimes.  But they're also good for keeping alive, since
  you can put them in places where they'll do the most good - and
  then walk away, never to be seen again.
Eduardo:  Oh.
Otto:  (holds up a jar of bubbling black stuff that resembles
  tar)  This is black dragon acid.  Highly corrosive.  It'll even
  eat through magical armor.
Eduardo:  Neat.
Otto:  Not a toy, that's for sure.  (he displays a glass sphere,
  filled with green gas)  Green dragon vapor.  More poison, but
  harder to detect.
Eduardo:  Because it floats away!
Otto:  Exactly.  (he next holds up a bottle of red-tinged jelly)
  This is what some people call "greek fire", though I have no
  idea what "greek" means.
Eduardo:  Me neither.  Who makes up these silly words?
Otto:  (shrugs)  Anyway, this stuff lights easier and burns hotter
  than regular oil - but it also sticks to the target, and will
  keep burning underwater.
Eduardo:  How do you put it out?
Otto:  You scrape it out of the burning wound.  And pray.
Eduardo:  Nasty.
Otto:  Very much so.  (he points at a small bottle of brown goo)
  That's the stuff the savages of the Amedio Jungle use on their
  blow-dart tips.
Eduardo:  What's a blow-dart?
Otto:  (opens a drawer beneath a section of desk, frowns, opens
  another drawer, and finally retrieves a long, narrow tube of
  wood)  This is a blowgun.  It fires darts.  (he holds up a tiny
  dart)  Thusly.
Eduardo:  That's neat.
Otto:  No kidding.  Watch.

  The dwarf inserted the dart into one end of the wooden tube, and
put the other end to his mouth.  He blew effortlessly into the
blowgun - and the dart shot out, bullseyeing a target mounted in
one wall.

Eduardo:  Good shot.  (eyes the target, which he didn't even know
  was there)  Can someone like me learn how to do that?
Otto:  Absolutely.  (he points at the blowgun's mouthpiece)  See,
  the principle has nothing to do with lung-power.  Even a child
  can fire this.  (he reminisces)  Why, some of the Amedio's best
  warriors are children.
Eduardo:  (smiles happily)
Otto:  Tell you what.  I'll make you one of these, for you to
  practice with.
Eduardo:  (awed)  You can make one?!?
Otto:  Sure.  I learned how...taught by a master.
Eduardo:  That would be neat.  (he eyes a rack of daggers)
Otto:  (gestures to the sharp, gleaming blades)  These are
  throwing knives, like Razor Charlie likes to use.
Eduardo:  Yes, I've seen him throw them.  He never misses, does
Otto:  Not often.  He may well be the best I've ever seen.
Eduardo:  How do you get to be like that?
Otto:  Years of practice.  You've got to throw and throw, again
  and again, day after day after day.  Eventually you learn to
  do it on instinct - a reflex action.  It becomes second nature.
Eduardo:  Oh.
Otto:  Then there're swords, like my shortsword.
Eduardo:  Why a short sword?  Why not a long sword like Belphanior
Otto:  (shrugs)  The shortsword's lighter, easier to use.  Also,
  at my height, it's a well-balanced weapon for me.  A longsword
  would be a little too clumsy.
Eduardo:  I see.
Otto:  (turns)  But enough of poisons, and weapons.  Belphanior
  and I were talking...have you ever thought about stealing?
Eduardo:  (gives the dwarf an "are-you-serious?" look)
Otto:  Just checking.  We think that, with some training, you'd
  do well at climbing...pickpocketing...lockpicking...that sort
  of thing.
Eduardo:  (eyes alight)  That would be good!
Otto:  Well, then.  We'll begin your lessons in a few days.  Razor
  Charlie and I have some other business to take care of first.
Eduardo:  All right.  (he smiles happily)  Climbing...(he gets a
  serious look on his face)  Where would I climb?
Otto:  Up walls...into windows...a thief as small as you can get
  into places that us big folks can't.
Eduardo:  Ah.
Otto:  Okay, we'll get that started sometime soon.  In the meantime,
  keep up the surveillance work.
Eduardo:  Right.  (he heads for the door)
Otto:  Take it easy.
Eduardo:  (leaves)
Otto:  (picks up a dagger, looks inside its hollow handle, then
  puts it down, muttering to himself)  That kid'll go far...

next:      Belphanior has a heart-to-heart talk with Victoria
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
mail:   (preferred)
notes:     I hope this peek into the life and mind of Otto was
  interesting for you.

previous chapter (#376)                                                                  next chapter (#378)