Chapter #533

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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 1991-8 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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven warrior                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven warrior                     (NG) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        8/9/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the fortress of Greyspire, in the Riftcanyon        +
+  Climate:     cool                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing;        +
+   we know this in countless ways."                                +
+                                                 - Blaise Pascal   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                     DXXXIII.  Fitting In





  Almost a week after the question was first posed, Mongo and Gorin
have just received their orders...

Noggin:  (clasps Mongo's hand)  Glad to have you aboard!  I've got
  no doubts that you two will be a fine addition to my command.
Mongo:  (slightly dazed)  Command...yeah...
Gorin:  We're ready for battle, believe me.
Noggin:  (nods)  I've heard all about your prowess in battle.  We
  sure could use troops with your skill and experience.

  The large dwarf had many other things to attend to, so he departed
presently, leaving the two dwarves alone.

Mongo:  Well, I'll be damned.
Gorin:  What's wrong?
Mongo:  Well...(he shakes his head)  I guess I just assumed I'd get
  my own command.
Gorin:  How's that?
Mongo:  You know...due to my being a veteran and all that.
Gorin:  You didn't think you'd just walk in here and take over all
  of Greyspire's dwarven forces, did you?
Mongo:  (glares at his henchman)
Gorin:  Don't mind me, I'm just playing devil's advocate here.
Mongo:  Devil's who?
Gorin:  My point is, I get the impression that Noggin's been here a
  good long while, and he's probably earned his command and worked
  his way up through the ranks.  A newcomer - even one with your
  power, items, and combat experience - can't just take over.
Mongo:  Hmm.
Gorin:  Plus, you've never actually _led_ dwarves into battle, have
  you?
Mongo:  (shakes his head)  Is this more of that devil's stuff?
Gorin:  Without ever having led a large force into battle, you can't
  count on being put in charge of anything.
Mongo:  Well, what the hell am I supposed to do?
Gorin:  I'd say wait...prove yourself in battle.  Watch.  Learn from
  others who've been in mass battle.
Mongo:  Hmph.  Okay, well...I guess I'm gonna take a walk.  Get some
  alone time.  (he wanders away, grumbling)

  Gorin had worked for Mongo long enough to know that what he'd just
heard was the closest thing to a heartfelt "thank you" that Mongo
would ever say.  The younger dwarf was reasonably sure that someday,
with the right training and experience, Mongo was fully capable of
leading an army.  He just needed some time, and a little patience.
  Gorin walked in a different direction, and soon found himself in
the barracks.  He and Mongo had each been assigned a berth just like
all the other dwarves (and human soldiers).  These berths were small
and cramped, but at the same time, they were simple and functional.
Some people would have been upset by the change from luxury to this,
but both dwarves realized that it was probably good for them.  Mongo
had made a choice comment about the "weak living" they'd been doing
for the last few years.
  Mongo had left most of his coinage and other treasure in the care
of Yod Ironbeard, back in Thunderdelve.  As for the rest - that small
portion of his wealth that he'd brought with him - Greyspire had a
purser, a slim fellow named Halfstad.  Halfstad's domain included all
individual monies that soldiers desired locked away; deep within his
cavern warehouse were hundreds of labelled wooden crates.  If a given
soldier wanted to keep some or all of his money (or other worldly
possessions) away from the prying eyes of his fellow barracks-mates,
he could talk to Halfstad and arrange for the safekeeping of said
items.  Halfstad the purser also, incidentally, managed all of the
fortress' finances; he divided the monies paid by those who hired
Marcus and his troops, as well as any extra spoils gained during a
campaign.
  Gorin was fairly popular with the dwarven troops; although young,
he'd seen an awful lot of combat.  He entertained his comrades with
tales of his past adventures, careful not to make himself the center
of these stories as a more egotistical fellow might.  Of course, he
also got to hear tales from the others...fantastic tales.  Some of
them were true - they had to be - while others sounded like complete
fantasy.  Gorin had a hard time believing that a dragon had once
swooped down from Greyspire's upper reaches, using its breath to
annihilate an attacking horde of ogres.  At any rate, he figured
that such tales would prove (or disprove) themselves in time; the
telling of them built camaraderie in the meantime.
  Despite all of this, Gorin wasn't quite sure that he was cut out
for the military life.  Physically, he could take it; mentally, he
just wasn't sure.  He'd always preferred woodworking and other,
similarly quiet pursuits when he was younger.  He'd only taken up
a battleaxe when his home city of Helmgate had been invaded by
giants.  Ever since that fateful year, Gorin's life had been a fast
and furious whirlwind of adventure, battle, and travel.  The great
question of his destiny, he decided, would just have to wait a while
longer.
  These thoughts, naturally, hadn't been repeated to anyone, not
even Mongo.  Gorin wasn't sure how Mongo would react if he knew
what Gorin was thinking, so he hadn't said anything.  He figured
that the feasibility of the Greyspire deal would bear itself out
eventually; besides, he could always leave if he wanted to, and take
up some other occupation.  He rather fancied the idea of taking a
comely young dwarven lass, beard and all, and raising a cavernful
of young beardlings.

  Elsewhere, Mongo had found the kitchens, beyond the mess halls.
He was engaged in a culinary display that was making the cooks
rather angry...

Mongo:  (waving a large bell pepper above his head)  -and so you
  see:  you _don't_ have to have the same old slop every time!
cook:  Enough of this!  I'm the cook, and you're the warrior, and
  this is my kitchen.
Mongo:  But the people have a right to know-
cook:  Out, out, out, OUT!  (he pushes Mongo out of his kitchen)
Mongo:  Sheez.  (he backs out of the mess hall)  Anyone who wants
  to know how to cook, just come talk to me. (he wanders away,
  chewing on the bell pepper)

  Off Mongo went once more, searching for something to grab his
interest.  This army enlistment business was fine, but there was
a lot more waiting than he had expected or planned on.  Maybe he'd
go up to the roof, to see how far he could see from up there.  Yes,
that was the ticket.
  The dwarf decided to see what Greyspire's upper levels held, and
he soon found himself several floors higher, walking down a wide
deserted passage.  There was no way this area had been designed
and built by dwarves; the doors were eight or ten feet high, and
rather wide.  Mongo didn't bother to try them, because he wanted
to go higher still.  Ever since arriving in Greyspire, he'd been
wondering how the fortress was protected against attack from above.
Since nobody had specifically forbidden him from entering the upper
levels of the place, he decided to satisfy his curiosity.
  At the hall's end was a large, broad stairway, leading up to
another wide hallway.  In one direction, the hall led away to some
unseen place; only half of the torches in the hall's wall sconces
were burning.  In the other direction, the hall stretched for about
fifty feet, ending in a gigantic door of black stone.  This unusual
portal got Mongo's attention, and he walked toward it, rubbing his
beard.
  The door had no handle to speak of, and Mongo put his shoulder to
it, testing its weight.  It didn't budge, but then Mongo realized
that he wasn't wearing his belt of strength.  New habits were hell,
he thought as he retrived the belt from his pack and strapped it
on.  Feeling quite a bit stronger, he again pushed on the stone
door.  However, it only moved an inch or two - it was a lot heavier
than it looked.
  Just when Mongo was getting ready to try again, the door ground
inward, opening of its own accord.  Nobody was anywhere near it,
and Mongo put his hand on his hammer as he entered the area beyond.
He was now in a vast, crude, unfinished chamber - almost like a cave
in size and general shape.  The stonework here suggested that a huge
cavern had been evened out somewhat, but never quite finished.  The
big chamber's ceiling, about a hundred feet high, was penetrated by
half a dozen square holes.  Sunlight shone in through these holes,
bathing parts of the cavernous chamber in light while leaving others
almost dark.  With a start, Mongo realized that the holes resembled
windows - but for who?  Or what?
  A loud, echoing shuffling sound interrupted his thoughts, even as
his magical hammer began to tingle under his hand.  He turned around
and saw, not fifty feet away, a gigantic pair of sandaled feet.  A
glance upward revealed what Stormcrest was telling its wielder:  the
feet belonged to a thirty-foot tall giant!

giant:  (cocks his head and regards the dwarf)
Mongo:  Yah!  (he whips out his hammer)





next:      a call to arms
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           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     Mardi Gras '98 was rather uneventful.  Some of the
  people I brought along bickered amongst themselves, while others
  didn't want to do anything fun.  Still, it wasn't the worst one
  ever.
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