Chapter #555

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven warrior                     (CG) +
+  Date:        4/3/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       the fortress of Greyspire, within the Riftcanyon    +
+  Climate:     cool                                                +
+  "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if       +
+   you just sit there."                                            +
+                                                   - Will Rogers   +

                      DLV.  Side Mission

  With a practiced motion, Mongo let Stormcrest fly.  A hundred feet
distant, the large boulder shattered as the enchanted hammer smashed
into it with a loud cracking sound.  Chunks of rock flew in all
directions, and a small cloud of dust filled the air around the
impact area.  When the dust cleared, there were oohs and aahs from
those watching, and Mongo smiled as he caught his returning hammer.
The boulder no longer blocked the ancient passage; in fact, its two
halves rested to either side, and a newly-open section of passageway
beckoned ahead.

dwarven warrior:  Our hammers won't do that!
Mongo:  Most won't - this one's special.
other dwarven warrior:  I bet you don't even have to use dummy hammers
  for throwing practice.
Mongo:  Nope.

  The dwarf had been working on building strength and skill without
wearing his magical belt of strength.  Lord Marcus' advice had proven
sound, for Mongo now felt much more comfortable and balanced without
the belt - it was no longer something he took for granted or assumed
would always be there.  Due to the unique nature of his hammer, Mongo
had been hand-picked by Marcus to combine his hammer-practice with
long-delayed excavation efforts deep within Greyspire's bowels.  He
now led a force of dwarves into dusty passages more than a hundred
feet below the lowest occupied cellars of the fortress.
  Since Greyspire was essentially a pillar of rock rising from the
floor of the Riftcanyon, Mongo knew that the entire lower half of
the structure, at least, wasn't part of the fortress proper.  What
he hadn't known, until Lord Marcus briefed him yesterday, was that
there were passages, shafts, and caverns all throughout the spire
of rock.  From its topmost section (which was occupied by troops)
all the way to its base at the canyon's mist-shrouded floor, there
were interconnecting ways and means.
  Even now, as he led his force into the dusty passage, Mongo
recalled his discussion with Marcus, three days past...

Mongo:  ...want me to what?
Lord Marcus:  You've got more experience with dungeon-delving and
  monsters than just about anybody in this fortress.  And your daily
  hammer-practice is destroying a sizable amount of rock.  Therefore
  it makes sense to have you head up a little mining expedition.
Mongo:  (frowning)  I see.
Lord Marcus:  The lull times between battles are few and far-between,
  and we have to make the most of them.  I've been delaying a good
  expedition into those areas for too long.  (he eyes the dwarf)
  This _is_ the sort of mission you prefer, right?
Mongo:  Oh, it's not that - I love this kind of stuff, and I'm glad
  you chose me.  I'm just wondering what we'll be getting into down
  there.  Can you fill me in?
Lord Marcus:  I could, but Wu here can do a better job.  (he nods at
  a wizened little fellow seated to his right)

  Wu was a slight man from the far West.  His wrinkled yellow skin
was creased and tanned from over seven decades of life and travel.
Thin wisps of white hair clung to the back of his mostly-bald head,
and he had a thin white mustache and goatee that tapered to a point
beneath his chin.  The man was dressed in a simple brown robe, its
sleeves cut at mid-forearm in the style of Western cultures.
  Wu was one of Marcus' most trusted advisors, and he was also a
wizard of immense power.  Mongo had heard tales of his deeds; the
soldiers of Greyspire said that Wu could split mountains and stop
rivers.  Mongo didn't really believe that, but he himself had seen
mighty magic in action.  If everyone - even the hardy, magic-shy
dwarves - said that Wu commanded great power, then Mongo believed
  Wu cleared his throat with a slight raspy cough before speaking.
Surprisingly, his voice was high-pitched and quite clear.

Wu:  Legend has it that this place, Greyspire, was built by the gods
  many ages ago.  Whether that is true or mere speculation, we know
  for certain that its original inhabitants carved numerous passages
  and chambers, throughout the spire.
Mongo:  Maybe it wasn't the builders who dug all those tunnels and
  caverns...couldn't later residents have done it instead?
Wu:  Of course.
Mongo:  (catches an exasperated look from Marcus, and quiets down)
Wu:  When we first came to Greyspire, we explored the mazes and
  levels down to a point.  However, time and troop considerations
  forced us to stop such efforts.
Mongo:  (thinking about Marcus, he refrains from yawning)
Wu:  That, and the strange monsters we found.
Mongo:  Eh?
Wu:  It was deemed safer to simply block all access to those lower
  levels, and that is what we did.
Mongo:  Ah...just like Yod did in Thunderdelve.
Lord Marcus:  Yes.  (smiles)  In fact, Yod Ironbeard helped us do the
  same thing here.
Mongo:  Figures...
Wu:  The monsters - if they are still about - will be challenging,
  but nothing that should threaten the entire fortress.
Lord Marcus:  As I said, we simply need someone with the confidence,
  experience, and sheer might necessary to lead a small force down
  there and head up the excavation process.
Mongo:  Head up?
Wu:  Once a section is cleared, our dwarven miners and engineers will
  move in and clean it up, shore it, or whatever is necessary.
Lord Marcus:  And of course, if any major battles demand your attention
  during this endeavor, you may be recalled.
Mongo:  No problem - hell, this is more fun anyway.
Lord Marcus:  (frowns, very briefly and unnoticed)
Mongo:  When do we start?
Lord Marcus:  Whenever you're ready.  You can take a company of
  dwarves with you, since dwarves are most comfortable underground.
Wu:  You will require the services of a war-priest, as well.
Mongo:  Will I?
Lord Marcus:  For magic and healing.  We'll pull the priest from the
  same company your dwarves are coming from.
Mongo:  Sounds good - I'll get cracking.  I'll need to go find Gorin-
Lord Marcus:  Gorin's training under Throknar.
Mongo:  He is?
Lord Marcus:  I realize that he's your shield-man, but right now he's
  learning all about siege.
Mongo:  Siege?
Lord Marcus:  At his own request.  Apparently he's got an interest in
  that field, and Throknar thinks he's got the aptitude.
Mongo:  Well, I'll be damned.
Lord Marcus:  Fear not, he'll be back eventually, and you'll still
  have dwarves to command.
Mongo:  (frowns)

  Mongo's mind drifted back to the present, as he stepped over some
loose rubble.  Even though he wasn't in front of the expedition, he
needed to be paying attention, not recalling recent events.  Ahead,
the lead scout - a young dwarf named Nibben Pathfinder - sidestepped
rocks and checked the passage walls as he went.  Nibben was one of
the fortress' best miners; he had a knack for underground navigation
and construction.  He also had sharp eyes and ears, was nimble on
his feet, and had a love of exploration and delving.  All of this
made him a natural choice for this assignment, and he was quite
pleased when Mongo picked him.  Unbeknownst to Mongo, Lord Marcus
was also pleased; the fact that Mongo was getting to know the other
dwarves, their strengths and weaknesses, was a good sign.
  In addition to the standard twenty dwarven warriors, the force
had a sergeant and a war-priest.  The former, a gruff fellow named
Varan Oak-Knocker, was used to commanding this company.  Having his
command given to a relatively new dwarf had clearly irritated him,
and he wasn't overly friendly with Mongo.
  The war-priest was more amenable to change.  A middle-aged but
rowdy dwarf named Durwood Knickerbocker, he had seen action in
many kingdoms and campaigns.  The other dwarves looked up to him,
and he was friendly with Mongo, so that helped counterbalance the
hard feelings Mongo was getting from Varan.
  The score of dwarves in the force were all armed similarly:
battle-axes for melee, handaxes for throwing, chain mail for
protection.  They were a hardy, competent lot, and Mongo was
pleased to be leading them on a mission, even if it wasn't into
battle.  Besides, as Lord Marcus had said, there was no telling
what dangers lurked down here, deep within these lost passages.
  The company halted at a signal from Nibben, in the front.  The
scout had spotted a large stone door ahead, and everyone proceeded
with caution.  The door was covered in ancient runes, and as they
approached, Mongo felt his hammer-arm quivering with anticipation
of possible fights to come.

next:      battle
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
email:       (preferred)
notes:     I just got back from a DC vacation.  One of the negative
  things I noted on my trip:  North Carolina sucks!  Its roads suck,
  its drivers suck, its weather sucks...I don't mean to insult any
  of you who may live there, but I've just had bad luck with the
    In DC, I saw, among other things, the Smithsonian's Star Wars
  exhibit and a Lilith Fair (I was dragged to the latter!)

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