Chapter #430

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human fighter/thief      (N) +
+  Date:        5/2/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       an hour's ride west of the Free City of Hardby      +
+  Climate:     mild                                                +
+  "You live like men on the run."                                  +
+  "We live like free men!"                                         +
+                    - from the Highlander episode _Mountain Men_   +

              CDXXX.  The Not-So-Free City of Hardby

  After the caravan they joined was ambushed by bandits, Peldor and
Tanya have managed to ally themselves with the group's leader, the
moustached Reuben.  Now, the bandits, four dozen strong, near the
Free City of Hardby...

Reuben:  You're sure we have to go to this damned place?
Peldor:  I'm sure.  I've got to meet my contact here before we head
  for the hills.
Tanya:  The Cairn Hills.
Reuben:  Well, my men can't just waltz into that place.  After all,
  we're bandits.
Peldor:  Right.  Well, if you just wait outside, we'll go in and take
  care of business and-
Reuben:  Not so fast.  If we wait out here while you go into Hardby,
  I'd bet we never see you again, eh?
Peldor:  You think so?
Reuben:  It's enough of a risk that I'll stay with you.  My band can
  wait here, a safe distance outside the city.  I'll accompany you
  into Hardby until you can talk to your friend.
Tanya:  (frowns, wondering how Peldor can fabricate the contact, not
  to mention the treasure he promised Reuben)
Peldor:  (claps Reuben on the shoulder)  Sounds good.

  Shortly, they split off from the main body of bandits; Reuben and
his lieutenant, Moxley, would go with Peldor and Tanya into the city.

Reuben:  (to his third-in-command)  You know what to do, and where to
  meet us.
sergeant:  Right, boss.
Moxley:  (a human with perhaps a bit of elven blood in his veins)  I
  still think this is a bad idea, asking for trouble.  We're probably
  wanted men in these parts - we don't need to be wandering Hardby
  looking for some bum.
Peldor:  Wandering?  (to Tanya)  Who said anything about wandering?
Tanya:  (shrugs in mock confusion)
Reuben:  Fear not, Moxley.  I'm sure Peldor's got everything under
  control, eh?
Peldor:  Bet on it.

  With that, the foursome rode away to the east, leaving the bandits
behind, to wait amidst the grasslands.  Just less than an hour later,
they rode through the high gates of Hardby.

Reuben:  I hate this city.

  The Free City of Hardby was famed for its Despotrix, a powerful
sorceress and (according to some accounts) a harsh ruler.  She had
a tendency to put females in all her positions of power, as they
saw right when they rode into the city.

Peldor:  (glancing up at twin statues, atop twin columns)

  The huge statues depicted armored, spear-wielding woman warriors,
fearsome amazons who appeared not to be trifled with.

Tanya:  (to Peldor)  Why don't we live here for a while?
Peldor:  No thanks.
Moxley:  If you enjoy being subjugated by women, this is the place to
Reuben:  Ruled by women, you mean.
Moxley:  Yeah.
Peldor:  Maybe, once...but not these days.

  The bandits were right, though - every guard they saw was a woman.
Every high-ranking official who passed them, riding atop a platform
borne by stout men, was female.  Even the majority of merchants and
street-peddlers were female.

Peldor:  (eyes wide)  The men here aren't slaves, are they?
Reuben:  No, but some of 'em might as well be.  A lot of the laws in
  this place are biased in favor of women.
Tanya:  Why don't the men leave, then?
Reuben:  (shrugs)  Not all men want to fight, to rule, to be in
  charge.  Who knows?  I sure don't understand it.
Moxley:  Me neither.
Peldor:  Hmm.
Reuben:  (to Peldor)  You know...for someone who's meeting someone in
  Hardby, you sure don't seem to know much about the place.
Peldor:  (thinking quickly)  Well, see, I've never met my contact
  _here_.  If it seems like this is my first time in Hardby, it's
  because it is.
Tanya:  (apologetically, to Reuben and Moxley)  We almost came here
  once before, but our contact ended up leaving the city and meeting
  us on the road.  Something about some trouble with the law...
Reuben:  (somewhat mollified) where is this "contact" of
Peldor:  I'm to meet him at-  (his magical eagle eyes spot a distant
  sign down the street)  -the Mighty Mistress tavern!  (he looks
  around briefly before pointing down the street)  It should be down
  that way.
Moxley:  Right, it is.
Tanya:  (trying to figure out how Peldor's going to get out of this
Peldor:  (likewise)

  Having dismounted (a city ordinance required it, as the two bandits
unhappily pointed out) they strolled down the avenue, leading their
horses.  The city appeared to be fairly busy, for merchants, guards-
women, tradespeople, and others hustled and bustled about.  The only
difference was the quantity and quality of the women here.

Reuben:  I'm surprised your contact didn't pick a better tavern, like
  the Vile Vixen...or maybe the Angelic Amazon...or even the Demonic
Tanya:  (shrugs)  Who can control these people?
Reuben:  Good point.
Peldor:  I guess there aren't any whorehouses in Hardby...?
Tanya:  Peldor!
Reuben:  Whorehouses?  (he laughs out loud)  Now _that's_ a good one!
Moxley:  (chuckling)  The Despotrix would never let things "sink" to
  that level.
Peldor:  Just wondering...
Tanya:  (stares obvious daggers at Peldor, and lags behind, letting
  him get ahead)
Reuben:  (moves over, to chat with her, right about the time the four
  reach the Mighty Mistress tavern)
Peldor:  Well!  Here we are.  (he climbs the steps)  I'll go find our
  man in here.
Tanya:  (angrily)  I'll wait outside, thank you very much.
Reuben:  (falling for the act, hook, line, and sinker)  I'll...stay
  out here too.  Wouldn't want Tanya to get drafted into the city
  guard corps, heh heh.  (he motions for Moxley to accompany Peldor

  Peldor and Moxley entered the tavern, which was staffed entirely by
women.  Its customers were of both sexes, though, and it seemed like
a decent (if not nice) place.

Peldor:  (to Moxley)  He might get spooked if he spots you with me.
Moxley:  Too bad, 'cause I'm not letting you out of my sight.  Stay
  close, where I can see you.
Peldor:  (sighs)  Sure.  (having counted on getting rid of both of
  the bandits, he tries to come up with another plan in the next few
  moments)  Now where is he...?  (he scans the tavern, looking not
  for a contact-person but rather for quick ways out)

  Meanwhile, just outside...

Reuben:  so...any chance you'll leave your friend and hook up with
  a _real_ bandit and rogue?
Tanya:  (pretends to be flattered)  Oh, is that an offer?
Reuben:  Could be.  I'm always looking for new...recruits for my
  band.  (he twirls his moustache)
Tanya:  Hmm, it's an idea worth considering.  But what about Peldor?
Reuben:  What about him?  The strong thrive, and the weak...die out.
Tanya:  (thinking something like "if he only knew")  Well, I-
guardswoman:  (suddenly standing there)  You.
Tanya:  Me?
guardswoman:  No, him.  (she points to Reuben with a spear-tip)  Is
  this dog bothering you?
Tanya:  Well, actually...
guardswoman:  (her eyes widen in recognition)  It's Reuben the bandit!
Reuben:  (looking around)  Where?
guardswoman:  (blowing a whistle to summon help, she levels her spear
  at Reuben)  Prepare to die, worm, for crimes against the people of
Reuben:  Oh, how I really hate this city...

next:      we see how some of the other Adventurers are faring
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     You know what?  The "World of Greyhawk" boxed set doesn't
  contain an entry for Hardby.  Thus I had to wing it.  The idea of
  a city ruled and run by women is both strange and different,
  preposterous yet plausible.  Good thing I haven't been reading
  any "Wonder Woman" comics lately...

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