Chapter #580

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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) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven warrior                     (NG) +
+  Date:        4/9/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the fortress of Greyspire, in the Riftcanyon        +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "If it takes them so long, so long to say yes...why don't        +
+   they just say no?"                                              +
+                                                     - Meat Loaf   +

                     DLXXX.  Defiance

  Mongo just didn't understand it.  He'd been back in Greyspire
for a couple of days now, and Lord Marcus still hadn't called for
him.  Mongo figured that, at the very least, the general would
want to know what chambers and monsters Mongo had found while in
the depths of the fortress.  After all, Mongo was the first one
to explore some of those long-buried dungeons, and the knowledge
he'd gained after falling down that shaft seemed important.
  Fed up with waiting, he decided to get some answers himself.
He headed for the chambers of Lord Marcus, but soon found that
the general wasn't there.

Mongo:  Not here?!?
guard:  No.
Mongo:  Well, when will he be back?
guard:  Who knows?  He's the general, after all.
Mongo:  Bah.

  The dwarf decided to go down to Greyspire's lowest level and see
for himself what measures were being taken to guard the unexplored
dungeon levels that he'd lost his squad in.  As he walked, he
absentmindedly scratched his ear, which had been partially torn
off during his recent adventures.  Though the ear had grown back,
it wasn't fully normal and perfect, instead somewhat scarred and
bent at an angle.  Of course, cosmetic sensibilitiess like this
didn't concern the gruff dwarf in the least.  As long as the ear
worked, enabling him to hear the sound of goblins approaching or
drunken revelers singing, he didn't much care what it looked like.

  Mongo wasn't surprised to see the passage to the lower levels
guarded, but he was surprised to see it barricaded by a new stone

Mongo:  What's this?
dwarven guard:  New wall - just got built yesterday.
Mongo:  Why?
dwarven guard:  To keep out monsters, that's my guess.
Mongo:  I know that!  I mean, why build it now?
dwarven guard:  (shrugs)  Word is, Lord Marcus didn't want anything
  creeping up out of the areas beyond.  Hell, I heard that he even
  had some of the passages that lead deeper blocked off like this.
Mongo: whole mission was a waste...
dwarven guard:  Eh?
Mongo:  Nothing.  (he walks away)

  The dwarf wasn't happy, and he had a lot of reasons not to be.
One, he wasn't getting his fill of battle here in Greyspire.  Two,
Gorin had basically been taken away from him, depriving him of his
henchdwarf of many years and adventures.  Three, he'd lost the one
command he'd been given, on a mission that wasn't really all that
important in the greater scope of things.  Four, it appeared that
he'd been written off as lost after disappearing into the depths
of Greyspire, and his return route sealed.  Five, he couldn't find
Lord Marcus to discuss any of these things in more detail.

Mongo:  DAMMIT!  (he punches a wall, cracking it and sending bits
  of stone whizzing off in random directions)

  The dwarf stalked back up into the main reaches of the fortress,
intent on finding someone to vent his frustrations on.  After two
false leads, he found Gorin; the latter was busy instructing some
younger dwarves on the proper way to take down a charging giant.

Gorin:  -always go for the knees.  They're nothing without their
  height, so if you take that away from them-  Mongo!
Mongo:  Having fun?
Gorin:  Sure!  Most of these guys have never seen any action outside
  of infantry combat, so Lord Marcus decided it would be good for
  me to teach them what I know.
Mongo:  Whoopee.  Say, did you know that I was supposed to be dead?
Gorin:  Huh?
Mongo:  You know, DEAD.  As in, my whole squad got wiped out and
  then I fell down a hole and _nobody_ came looking for me.
Gorin:  That's-
Mongo:  Pretty shitty?  Yeah, that's what I thought too.  Seems that
  Marcus couldn't be bothered to even try and find me.  Neither, it
  seems, could anybody else.
Gorin:  Now wait just one-
Mongo:  No, _you_ wait!  And listen!  For years, we roamed the world
  and did whatever we wanted, fought whatever needed fighting, stuck
  with our companions through thick and thin!  Then we came here, on
  the advice of Yod Ironbeard, and everything's changed!  You're not
  even my shield-dwarf anymore - you're always off doing other things
  for Marcus or whoever.  And I'm not getting any real battle, none
  at all.  This stinks!
Gorin:  (gaping)
Mongo:  Let's get out of this damned place, this damned army, and get
  back to the adventures we really enjoy!  Neither of us are happy
Gorin:  Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Stop!
Mongo:  (surprised, rather than intimidated, he quiets down anyway)
Gorin:  You may not be happy here, but as a matter of fact, _I_ am!
  I'm learning all kinds of new skills and tactics, and I'm getting
  a chance to pass on things I already know to others who can use
  them.  I kinda like it here.
Mongo:  (now it is his turn to gape)  WHAT?!?
Gorin:  Look, I can't help it if you haven't gotten what you wanted
  from Lord Marcus or from Greyspire.  But that shouldn't stop me.
Mongo:  Wh- what are you saying?
Gorin:  I guess I'm saying...I'd prefer that you stay here.  I've had
  a lot of good times as your henchdwarf, and I owe you a lot, not
  the least of which is my loyalty.  But if you're ready to move on,
  I can't say that I'll leave with you.  I have to live my own life
  too, you know.
Mongo:  This isn't happening.
Gorin:  It could, so maybe it is.  And another the way, no,
  I _didn't_ know that you were missing and presumed dead.  Nobody
  told me, and in truth, I don't think anybody knew.  Not all missions
  are discussed with everyone in this fortress.
Mongo:  Dammit.

  Mongo was furious - absolutely furious - but even so, some part of
him didn't want to take it out on Gorin.  Instead, he punched a wall
again, and this time he felt something break in one of his knuckles.
He didn't care, though, as he had stormed out of the chamber by the
time he felt the pain in his hand.  The angry dwarf headed straight
to his quarters, not speaking or even acknowledging anyone he passed
whether he knew them or not.
  Once he got to his small room, Mongo began packing his possessions.
He didn't have much, so it didn't take long, but as he pulled the
final straps on his pack and checked under the bed to make sure he
hadn't forgotten anything, an unmistakable sound resounded through
the fortress.  The deep, repeated ringing of the gigantic bell was
the one signal that all of Greyspire's residents had been taught to
recognize and heed on their very first day in the fortress.
  It was the signal that some enemy was attacking Greyspire itself.

next:      all-out battle!
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
email:       (preferred)
notes:     The events depicted in this story have been a long time
  in developing, and almost every reader has noticed, I think, if
  not commented on them.  Not everyone is ideal military material,
  and not every solo hero works well as part of a larger unit.  It
  would be preposterous for Lord Marcus to just assign Mongo some
  major command, based solely on his prior deeds elsewhere.  Like
  anyone else - especially an officer - Mongo will have to prove
  himself, in many ways, first.  Can he do it?  Does he want to?
  These questions and others will have to be answered over the
  course of time.
    Of course, right now Mongo and all the others have some more
  important things to worry about...

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