Chapter #447

previous chapter (#446)                                                                  next chapter (#448)

                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      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                    +
+                           +
+  Belphanior     (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief    (CN) +
+    Otto           8th/9th level dwarven fighter/thief        (CN) +
+    Razor Charlie  8th level human fighter                    (CN) +
+  Date:        4/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       the Borgo Pass, in the southeastern Yatils          +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "More killing!"                                                  +
+  "Survival."                                                      +
+                                  - from _Village of the Damned_   +

                   CDXLVII.  The Perilous Pass

  As the sun rises beyond a rocky mountain pass, a trio of very
dangerous individuals rides northward...

Belphanior:  The Borgo Pass, eh?  I never knew it was called that.
Otto:  Yeah, they named it after some long-dead count of something.
  You know, you really ought to get out more often.
Belphanior:  (nods)  Sometimes I forget what an exhilharating sense
  of freedom the open road offers...
Razor Charlie:  (eyeing the surrounding peaks)  Hnf.

  They were riding northward, along the only established and well-
used route through this particular area of the mountains.  On all
sides rose towering spires of rock, their peaks crowned with white
snow and ice.  The air was cold, even though the spring season had
begun in earnest, in other parts of the world.  None of the three
travelers much minded the chilly air and biting wind, though.

Razor Charlie:  (garbed in a fur-lined vest, he scowls)
Otto:  Hmm, now that I'm away, it seems like the castle's dark and
Belphanior:  No doubt a result of the various enchantments I've put
  in place there.
Otto:  You don't think Victoria has anything to do with it?
Belphanior:  Maybe, maybe not.  It doesn't matter, does it?
Otto:  I guess not.
Belphanior:  As long as she doesn't bite you, don't worry about it,
Otto:  Yeah, who _is_ she biting these days?
Belphanior:  (shrugs)  Who knows?  Who cares?  As long as I don't
  hear about it, I don't much care.
Otto:  That could be a dangerous attitude to take.
Belphanior:  Could be.  (he frowns)
Razor Charlie:  (fingers the amulet he's been wearing ever since he
  picked it up after the bandits' wizard dropped it)
Otto:  Hopefully, those two girls will be safe...
Belphanior:  I don't really think she'd bring servants into the
  castle, only to kill you?
Otto:  No, I guess not.
Belphanior:  Enough talk of this.  My head begins to ache.
Otto:  (quickly taking the hint)  On a brighter note, the population
  of Helgate is growing.  All this silver they've been pulling out of
  the mountains is having an effect.  The economy is booming...people
  are settling down there...buying land and building houses.
Belphanior:  Sounds good, as long as they don't rise up and rebel
  against me.
Otto:  You mean now that they know you're still alive?
Belphanior:  (nods)  At least I don't have to hide in the castle any
  longer.  Come to think of it, that was a foolish idea anyway.  I'm
  not one to stay behind the scenes just to impress a few commoners.
Otto:  I think you've impressed them already...impressed the hell out
  of them.
Belphanior:  True, but I don't want to be a dictator.
Otto:  You don't want to wield absolute power?
Belphanior:  I already wield absolute power.  I just don't want to
  concern myself with the daily affairs of the town.  Hmm, maybe it's
  time to install some kind of town council...let them worry about
  the petty little bullshit.
Otto:  (pondering this)  That would have good points, and bad.  (to
  Razor Charlie)  What do you think?
Razor Charlie:  (sneers)  Just put me where the action is.
Belphanior:  (thinks nostalgically back to the days when his life,
  too, was as simple and problem-free)

  They rode onward, breaking for meals and to rest and feed their
mounts.  When dusk fell, they made camp about a hundred feet off
the main trail, amidst a scattering of huge boulders.  They had
ventured to higher ground, apparently, for the area was nearly
blanketed with snow although none was falling now.  Otto and Razor
Charlie quickly gathered some firewood, while Belphanior tied their
horses to a stunted bush that sprung from between two large, lumpy

Belphanior:  (points at the pile of dry wood, and it bursts into
  bright flames)  Presto!
Otto:  Neat.  But I'd better gather some more firewood.
Belphanior:  No need - the spell will keep that wood burning all
Otto:  Neater.
Belphanior:  (prepares a meal of dried meat and broth, the better
  to keep the companions' energy up in this frigid weather)
Razor Charlie:  (sits in front of the fire, sharpening his knives)
Otto:  (scouts the perimeter of the camp, noting possible routes of
  attack, defense, and escape; he also sets a few traps and other
Belphanior:  There's no need for that - Blackrazor will alert me to
  the presence of any who approach.
Otto:  (shrugs)  Old habits die hard...and not every danger has a

  They bedded down for the night, Belphanior sleeping (as usual, at
least when Victoria wasn't around) with his blade close at hand.  As
it turned out, Otto's prudence was a good thing, for in the dark hours
of the night, visitors came a-calling.
  Right as Belphanior bolted upright, one of Otto's steel-jawed bear
traps snapped shut with an unmistakable metallic sound.  An instant
later, a bestial cry of pain split the night...

Otto:  We're under attack!  (he leaps to his feet, crossbow in hand,
  and skewers a white-furred, shaggy form as it leaps toward him)
creature:  Graargh!  (it falls, clutching at the poisoned bolt which
  is lodged in its leg)
Otto:  (reloading)  What the fuck?!
second creature:  (pounces upon the dwarf)  Grrraar!
Razor Charlie:  (buries first one, then another blade in the thing's
second creature:  (trying to maul Otto, it roars in pain as the sharp
  knives stab its flesh)  Raargh!
Otto:  (bashes the thing across its nose with his crossbow, then stabs
  it in the arm with the bolt he was trying to load)
second creature:  (stunned as blood spurts from its broken nose)  Rrr!
Belphanior:  (leaps into the fray, slicing a third attacker as it
  comes at him)  These are yeti!  Beware their clutches...!
yeti#3:  (staggers back, its right arm nearly severed by the elf's
  dark sword)  Aaaargh!
Belphanior:  (brandishing a wand in his other hand, he speaks a word
  of power, and a fourth yeti is instantly knocked back by a burst of
yeti#4:  (staggers, completely engulfed in flames)  Yowwl!
Razor Charlie:  (buries a knife in the blazing creature's body)
yeti#4:  (stumbles back, tripping and falling into the campfire)
Belphanior:  Ah, I love that smell...(he charges yeti#3)
yeti#1:  (weak and dizzy from the potent poison of Otto's bolt, it
  staggers about)  Raargh!
yeti#2:  (flies backward as Otto kicks out desperately with his short
  but powerful legs)  Grrr...
Otto:  (rolls free, shivering from the foe's chill embrace)  Hells,
  but that thing is cold!  (he discards his crossbow and whips out
  his shortsword)
Razor Charlie:  (hurls more knives at yeti#2, slowing it enough to
  give Otto an opening)
Otto:  (meets claw with steel, in a spray of blood)
yeti#1:  (limping in pain, it manages to leap, tackling Razor Charlie)
Razor Charlie:  Fuck-  (dropping the knife he had in hand, he goes
  down in a white-furred heap)
Belphanior:  (suffering from several claw-wounds, he yet presses his
  attack, and with a single blow, decapitates his foe)  Hah!
yeti#3:  (perishes, its life-force flowing through the unholy sword
  and into the elf)
Belphanior:  (inhales deeply as his wounds stop bleeding, then close
  themselves)  Ahh...

  Otto had somehow managed to get into an advantageous position; he
had his legs clamped around the second yeti's back, and was busy
freeing his blade from its head, using a sawing motion.

yeti#2:  (dying as its brains are sliced and mashed like vegetables
  in a stewpot)
Otto:  (ignores the numbing cold as he rips his sword free)  Die!
  (he leaps free as the yeti goes down, twitching)

  Meanwhile, Razor Charlie was caught in a deadly bearhug, as the
yeti tried to crush the life from him even as its coldness sucked
out his body heat.  Charlie, however, wasn't going to go that easily.

Razor Charlie:  (pulls a knife from somewhere; while one hand pushes
  the monster's head back, the other drives the blade home in its
  throat - once, twice, three times)
yeti#1:  (howls in agony as its lifeblood gushes forth)  Raaaaarg...
  (it topples, releasing the warrior as it convulses in death-throes)
Razor Charlie:  (coughing, he stumbles back painfully)
Otto:  Don't you ever run out of knives?
Razor Charlie:  (wordlessly opens his vest, whose sheaths are almost
  all empty)  Came close, there.  (he limps around the campsite,
  recovering any knives that he can)
Belphanior:  (scanning the darkness around the campfire)  No more of
  the things...
Otto:  What'd they want?
Belphanior:  A late-night snack, I'd wager.  Too bad this meal bit
Otto:  Heh.

  They all had wounds, though Belphanior's were insignificant since
his sword had all but healed them.  Otto propped himself up against
a boulder and began meticulously binding his own cuts and gashes.
Razor Charlie, having replaced all the knives he could, grumbled and
laid back down, grunting painfully.  Not wishing to show weakness
in front of his employers, he waited until he thought they weren't
looking to sip his healing potion.
  Belphanior undertook a grisly task, cutting out one of the yeti's
hearts and wrapping it carefully in a waterproof pouch.  Apparently
the elf thought he could use the thing in some spell or potion, and
neither of his companions cared to dispute this.  Taking inspiration
from the feat, Otto decided he wanted a yeti pelt, and skinned one
of the corpses until his bloody prize was intact.
  The remainder of the night passed uneventfully, and shortly after
dawn rose the trio continued on their journey.  Fortunately, the yeti
had first attacked the adventurers rather than their horses, and the
mounts were all alive and well.  By midday, they were descending
again, entering the foothills of the mountains, and it was late
afternoon when they rode into a small wilderness fort.
  The fort's commander was only too happy to chat with the visitors,
for it was rare that anyone faced a pack of yeti and lived.  The
white-furred creatures, he explained, were fairly common in the
higher altitudes.  While they didn't usually attack humans whose
numbers were superior, they did tend to ambush small parties.

Belphanior:  Or try to ambush...
commander:  (rubs his grizzled chin)  Nice pelt you've got there, my
  dwarven friend.  Where'd you learn to skin like that?
Otto:  (ignores the question)  Say, how much is this thing worth,
commander:  (examines the hide, which Otto washed once he arrived in
  the fort)  Oh, this'll probably go for a hundred-fifty if you sell
  it in the markets of Krestible.  I'll give you a hundred for it if
  you want.
Otto:  Deal.
Belphanior:  Krestible?
commander:  It's the nearest city of any size, the southernmost city
  of Perrenland.  You'll find it about half a day's ride to the north-
Otto:  We'll probably camp here for the night.
commander:  No problem.  There are some spare bunks in the hut next
  to the garrison, and the cook in the mess hall'd be glad to whip
  you up a hot, fresh meal.
Otto:  Sounds good.
Belphanior:  And we thank you for your hospitality.
commander:  Nah, no big deal.  Besides, any slayers of the yeti are
  friends of mine.

  While Belphanior sought the beds and food, Otto completed his deal
for the yeti hide, and Razor Charlie went to see if he could barter
any knives or daggers from any of the garrison guards.  The three
stayed at the hill fort that night, and got a much better night's
sleep than they would have had otherwise.  In the morning, they rode
out at dawn, their destination the walled city of Krestible.

next:      recruiting some new homeboyz
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     It happened on Friday, September 6 1996:  Eddie Murray
  hit #500, becoming only the third player to hit 500 home runs and
  collect 3000 hits (the other two were Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.)
  Way to go, dude.

previous chapter (#446)                                                                  next chapter (#448)