Chapter #429

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                                  +
                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +
                                  +

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    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.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human fighter/thief      (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        4/24/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the plains just west of the Selintan River          +
+  Climate:     mild                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "I've heard that name somewhere before...don't know where,       +
+   but it wasn't good."                                            +
+                                 - Doc Holiday, from _Wyatt Earp_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





               CDXXIX.  Turning Bad Luck Into Good





  Almost a week has passed since Peldor and Tanya left Greyhawk, and
they are currently traveling southwest, to the city of Hardby.  Like
other "passengers" accompanying the merchant caravan, they are riding
alongside the wagons...

Peldor:  Nice day, today.
Tanya:  (nods)  Where d'you think we'll go, from Hardby?
Peldor:  Hard to say.  Let's get there first, then worry about that.
Tanya:  You're right.  I'm planning too much...
Peldor:  No big deal.

  The caravan had departed the Free City of Dyvers four days ago, and
was paralleling the Selintan River as it arced southward.  Soon, they
would cross the river, using the barges of the Rhennee river-folk, and
continue eastward until they reached their destination.

Tanya:  Isn't Hardby ruled by a woman...?
Peldor:  Yes, the Despotrix...a sorceress of no small power.  She's
  the latest in a royal line of wizardesses.  In fact, the entire city
  is controlled by women.
Tanya:  Sounds like my kind of place.
Peldor:  I hope not, because I don't want to stay there.  Not now that
  I'm married, anyway.
Tanya:  I'll bet.

  Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted by a hue and cry from
the caravan's rear guards.

Peldor:  (yells at a guard as the man rides by)  What's going on?
guard:  Bandits!  (he rides away, toward the front of the wagon-train)
Tanya:  Bandits?
Peldor:  Stay cool.  (he loosens his sword in its sheath)

  The human predators were now visible, on both sides of the caravan.
They had been lying in wait, in the high grass of the plains, and as
the lead wagon came upon a ditch in the road, the bandits had sprung
their ambush.

Tanya:  Just our luck.
Peldor:  Yeah, but we'll be okay.  I think.  Maybe we can buy our way
  out of this.
Tanya:  If not...(she also readies her sword for quick drawing)

  Shortly, the bandits had ringed the caravan, whose wagons couldn't
get turned around to attempt flight.  The attackers outnumbered the
caravan's guards by more than two-to-one; there were twenty soldiers
in the employ of the merchants, while the bandits looked to be at
least fifty strong.  They didn't look particularly experienced or
well-organized, but they made up for that in numbers.  Some levelled
crossbows at the wagons and their occupants, while others rode back
and forth along the line, taunting the merchants and their companions.

bandit:  (stops at Peldor and Tanya, sneering)  You two, there!
Peldor:  (to Tanya, loudly)  Is he talking to us?
Tanya:  Hard to tell.
bandit:  You, stop your prattling!
Peldor:  Who, me?
bandit:  Grr...
other bandit:  (rides forth to join the first)  What's going on-  (he
  spies Tanya)  Aha!  Booty!
Tanya:  (smirks in disgust)  Not on your best day, scum...
bandit#1:  Enough out of you.  We'll take what we want.
bandit#2:  Yeah.
Peldor:  Over my dead body...
bandit#1:  That's the idea.
Tanya:  (grabs her sword's handle)  So, which of you horny-toads dies
  first?
bandit#2:  I don't like being insulted like that...
Peldor:  Tell us how you'd like to be insulted and we'll see what we
  can do.
bandit#1:  Grr...
Tanya:  Growl a little more, you're exciting me.
bandit#2:  (to his companion)  A smart-mouthed girl who thinks she can
  fight...hah!  _I'll_ handle this.
bandit#1:  Be my guest.
Peldor:  (looks around, weighing the odds and options)
bandit#2:  Easy, now.  (he rides up to Tanya, reaching out to grab her
  as he gets closer)  Now you just cooperate and stay quiet and you'll
  get through this just fine-  urk!
Tanya:  (withdraws her sword-point from the man's throat)  Idiot.
bandit#1:  (having barely seen her move)  Holy crap!  (he turns to
  sound an alarm)
Peldor:  (uses his TK ring to cram a rag into the man's mouth)
Tanya:  (rides her horse around and conks the man atop the head with
  her sword's pommel, knocking him out cold)  That ought to keep him
  quiet for a while.
Peldor:  Good job-

  Unfortunately, another bandit had noticed the altercation, and a
moment later, half a dozen crossbows were levelled at the pair of
adventurers.

merchant:  (shouting at Peldor from within the false safety of his
  wagon)  You idiots!  Just go along with them and maybe we'll live-
Peldor:  (points at the man)  You.  Shut up.
merchant:  (blubbers, but quiets down)
Tanya:  (in a hushed voice, to Peldor)  Any ideas?
Peldor:  I'm working on it.

  A well-dressed bandit approached, atop a chainmail-barded horse.
The man sported a thick handlebar moustache and a long mane of hair,
both black in color.  From the way the other bandits eyed him, he had
to be their leader.

bandit leader:  So what have we here, boys?
bandit:  They killed Ringo, boss.
other bandit:  And knocked George out cold...
Peldor:  Self-defense.
bandit leader:  I don't think you quite understand what's going on
  here, my friend.  See, we are bandits, and you are victims.
Tanya:  (looking at the skewed corpse of Ringo)  Not from where I'm
  sitting.
bandit leader:  Heh.  So you can fight, eh?  Big deal.  All of us can
  fight.
Peldor:  But do all of you know where a treasure beyond compare lies
  buried, ripe for the taking?
bandits:  (murmuring)
bandit leader:  Quiet, you fools.  (to Peldor)  What's this?
Peldor:  A lost hoard of the finest treasure...royal beyond compare,
  regal beyond measure, rich beyond counting!  (his eyes sparkle)
Tanya:  (catching on)  We were on the way to find it, and take it.
bandit leader:  (rubbing his stubbled chin)  Hmm.
Peldor:  We could fight your men...we'd lose, but not before several
  more were killed.  We don't want that, and you don't want that,
  and your men _definitely_ don't want that.
bandit:  (one who saw Tanya take out Ringo, he nods to his fellows)
bandit leader:  So what are you proposing?
Peldor:  A simple deal:  you spare our lives, and in return, we'll
  cut you in for a share of the loot, when we find it.
bandit leader:  (considering this)  And what if we just kill you, and
  find the treasure ourselves?  Perhaps you're carrying a map, eh?
Peldor:  (shakes his head)  You can search me - after I fall atop a
  pile of your men's corpses - but you won't find any map.  (he taps
  his head)  It's in here.  That's the only place it can still be
  found.  I burned the real map, a week ago.
Tanya:  (turning her head to regard the bandits)  Think, boys - riches
  beyond counting!
Peldor:  (to the bandit leader)  You'll be set for life.  All you have
  to do is let us join you, and lead you to the hiding-place.
bandit leader:  (stroking his moustache)  Hmm.
Peldor:  (stroking his own moustache)  Everybody wins...
Tanya:  No one else has to die...
bandit leader:  (finally arrives at a decision)  It's a deal.  (he
  rides forth and shakes hands with Peldor)  I'm Reuben.
Peldor:  Peldor, at your service.  My lady-friend there is Tanya.
Tanya:  (points her sword at Peldor)  I can introduce myself, thanks.
Reuben:  (chewing on his moustache)  Peldor...Peldor...now where've I
  heard that name before?
Peldor:  (shrugs)  I'm a world-famous treasure-hunter, so it's only
  natural that you might have heard of me.
Reuben:  (unable to make a reference)  Oh well...(to his men)  Okay,
  you men!  Raid the wagons - take all the valuables.  Bind the
  guards.  No hostages, no kidnappings.
Peldor:  Merciful today, are we?
Reuben:  We don't kill, if we don't have to.  They'll live.  We're
  just after money.
Peldor:  I understand.  Oh, and I'll have to ask you for a share of
  the caravan's valuables.
Tanya:  Two shares.
Peldor:  Oh, right, two shares.
Reuben:  (taken aback, he begins twirling his moustache)  What?!?
Peldor:  Well, us being full members now, and all that...
Reuben:  Hmm, of course.  Okay, it will be done.
Peldor:  Appreciate it.
merchant within wagon:  (sputtering to Peldor)  You sold us out!  You
  joined them!  You...you...
Peldor:  Sorry about that, m'friend, but a man's gotta do what a man's
  gotta do.
Tanya:  (points her sword at the merchant)  Just be thankful that we
  don't skin you and leave you for the hyenas.
merchant:  Aie!
bandits:  (chuckling)
Peldor:  Hyenas?

  Later, after the caravan had been left behind and the band rode
southward, Reuben wanted to know more details...

Peldor:  I've got to meet my contact in Hardby.  We'll go from there
  and find the hidden fortune.
Reuben:  If you're going to be my partner - partners - you should be
  willing to tell me _where_ it is we're going, eh?
Peldor:  Oh, all right - I guess I can trust you.  We'll be going to
  the Cairn Hills.  The loot's buried in a hidden cache there.
Reuben:  Good enough.  I'll inform the men.
Peldor:  Excellent.  Good to be doing business with you, Reuben.
Reuben:  (nods, and rides away)
Tanya:  (in a low voice)  I don't trust him.
Peldor:  Why?
Tanya:  He's agreed too easily.
Peldor:  Of course he did - with my persuasiveness power and your
  magical ring, Reuben and his comrades did just what I wanted them
  to.
Tanya:  (shaking her head)  Still...we'd better watch our backs, until
  we're out of this.  These clowns might pull a fast one on us.
Peldor:  (grins)  No, I think we'll be the ones doing that to them.
Tanya:  Yeah, speaking of which, there's not any treasure out there,
  is there?
Peldor:  Of course not.
Tanya:  So where are we going to find a treasure to take these bandits
  to find?  Or are you going to pull one from your pocket?
Peldor:  Trust me, babe, I'll think of something.





next:      more twists of fate
ftp:       ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
           http://www3.hmc.edu/~kshobaki/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     My writing pace has slowed down lately, because I've been
  put on a major project at work - the kind where you get told "You
  aren't going to be doing anything else for the next two months."
  I come home sweaty, tired, and generally lacking motivation to do
  anything.  Yawn.
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