Chapter #581

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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:        4/9/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the fortress of Greyspire, in the Riftcanyon        +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "If you want to make him a hero, all you've gotta do is          +
+   make him mad."                                                  +
+                            - from the _Streets of Fire_ trailer   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                   DLXXXI.  Assault on Greyspire





  On the verge of leaving Greyspire and the military life for good,
Mongo has been sidetracked by an attack on the fortress itself!

Mongo:  Damn...who'd be that stupid?

  As he dashed for the main assembly hall, the dwarf wondered if
this was a drill of some kind.  He quickly discarded this possibility,
though; the ringing of the alarm bell was a serious matter indeed,
not something to be tested and trifled with.  No, the ringing of that
bell meant that something was definitely happening.

  Mongo rushed into the great hall, joining the other infantry units.
In Greyspire, each soldier belonged to a specific company; in times
of crisis, each company had a certain place where they were supposed
to form up.  Mongo belonged to one of two dwarven companies, which
were under the command of the portly Noggin.  More than a half-dozen
other companies - light or heavy, infantry all - were also assembled
in the vast hall, ready to march forth and do battle.
  It was a very chaotic and confusing time, for soldiers were running
about everywhere and nobody seemed to know what was going on.  Mongo
quickly realized that things were in fact under control; while the
individual soldiers didn't know their role in the greater scope of
things, their officers did.  Before long, everyone had formed up into
the proper companies, which were in turn arrayed for a charge out of
Greyspire's huge front doors and across the stone bridge.

Lord Marcus:  (appears suddenly, addressing the troops in a booming
  voice that has to be magically amplified)  Men!  I'll make this
  short and simple.  Greyspire is surrounded - we suspect this to be
  the work of one or more of the Bandit Kingdoms - and they are out
  there, waiting for us to come out in a blind and foolish charge
  across the bridge.  (he shakes his head)  That will not, of course,
  happen.  Even now, our aerial and magical forces are about to strike
  swiftly and harshly.  Once that happens, and the enemy is confused
  and disoriented, the gates of Greyspire will open, and we will go
  forth and test their mettle.
army:  (cheering)

  Mongo didn't like the sound of this - it assumed much, including
that Greyspire's more unusual forces could break up the enemy massed
at the land end of the stone bridge.  Nonetheless, he readied himself
and waited, his anger at Marcus and his intent to leave put aside for
the moment.

  In the upper regions of Greyspire, the griffons were launched.  They
numbered eleven, and each had been captured and trained from birth,
with the same master.  These men, the griffon-riders, were among the
most highly-trained and valuable in Greyspire, and now they proved
their worth.  Each held a number of large glass vials, and as they
flew out over the enemy forces, they dropped these weapons onto the
foes below.  One vial exploded into flame, showering a score of enemy
soldiers with sizzling fire.  Another shattered to release a powerful
gas, its vapors stinging any eyes they seeped into and choking anyone
unlucky enough to breathe them.  A third vial contained concentrated
smoke-gas, which quickly spread along the ground, completely blocking
all vision within.
  As the griffon-riders flew about, too fast for archers below to hit
with their arrows, Marcus' second wave of special attacks began.  From
a wide, high ledge, a gigantic form turned to a pile of boulders, took
one from the top, and hurled it, out and downward.  The missile was
formidable to begin with, but as it plummeted all that way, it gained
speed and force.  When the rock finally exploded into the enemy ranks,
it slew a dozen soldiers and wounded a dozen more.  And it was just the
first; the giant, safe even from sight on his perch above, continued
to hurl boulders, raining death on the foes far below.
  Meanwhile, the wizard Wu, invisible and airborne, had made his way
up, over, and thereby around.  He used a magical link with Marcus and
his commanders to relay enemy troop numbers, arrays, locations, and
such.  When he was done, he worked a fearsome spell, flying above the
army below until he had found its precise center.  He lined his spell
up so that its power wouldn't be wasted, and then he launched it!  No
mere fireball, this - no, it was a rare and powerful incantation that
created a widespread rain of fire.  The inferno consumed enemy soldiers
by the scores, and worse, it _moved_!  Wu guided it about even as he
rose back up into the air.  He was now visible, and enemy archers sent
many shafts up in his direction.  They bounced away, repelled by an
invisible shield, and Wu headed back toward Greyspire, pleased with
himself.

  Now was the time!  Those inside the fortress had no idea what might
was being unleashed upon their foes, but when those great gates swung
open and the battle-trumpets sounded, they followed their commanders
into battle.  Like a living river, the Greyspire forces flowed across
the bridge, bearing down hard toward the foes.  Carefully-planned and
prepared archer ambushes and oil-lightings had fallen apart, thanks to
the efforts of the griffon-riders and the giant above.  Now, the enemy
infantry could only prepare their shields and weapons as they watched
Greyspire's collected troops surge toward them.
  Mongo and the other dwarves - including Gorin, who saw Mongo and
nodded to him - were a good distance back from the front lines.  After
all, the dwarves were less in number, and considered rare thanks to
their mining abilities and siege skills.  Mongo didn't like that, and
he decided to push out into the fray as soon as he got a chance.
  It didn't take long.  Mongo had never been in a true mass battle
before, and the utter chaos of it quickly impressed him.  Greyspire's
heavy infantry smashed into the enemy, tearing a hole in their own
infantry.  The allies moved to left and right as they continued their
assault, while Greyspire's lighter infantry (and the dwarven companies)
moved into the gap, followed by the cavalry.  This was not to be a
long, brutal fight to the death, or a chase of any kind; Greyspire's
company commanders would let their forces fight but not overextend
themselves.  Marcus wanted all of his troops to be able to draw back
at a moment's notice, the attackers becoming defenders, a tight knot
of defense that could then retreat back across the bridge.
  Noggin led his dwarves into combat, and Mongo followed, caught up in
the frenzy.  They had burst out of the gates, then charged across the
stone bridge, unable to see how far it was to the enemy.  Now, hardly
before they knew it, they too had joined the melee!  Weapons flashed
all about, sometimes glancing off shields or armor, sometimes cutting
or slicing into flesh and bone.  Blood was spilled in great amounts;
the ring of steel and the roar of battle filled the ears of everyone,
friend and foe alike.
  Mongo quickly cleared a space around himself; his strength was such
that even a shove could send a foe sprawling away to the ground.  No
one who was hit directly by his hammer survived; in contrast, enemy
weapons glanced from his magical armor, sometimes snapping from the
impact.  Blows to Mongo's arms and legs were largely absorbed by the
less powerful chainmail he wore there.
  Those attacks, the ones not turned by the Coat of Arnd, actually did
hurt the dwarf, causing massive bruises and sometimes cuts.  However,
nobody could see these wounds, and as a result those around Mongo began
to think him invincible.  Foes turned and fled rather than face this
enraged, death-dealing juggernaut.  Friends rallied behind him, for he
was like a spearhead cleaving through a block of butter.  Noggin saw
this, and tried to recall Mongo, but the latter was beyond hearing.
He was caught up in a potent mix of fury, bloodlust, and excitement.

Mongo:  (sights a mounted officer, and immediately hurls Stormcrest,
  felling the man)
enemy soldiers:  (having just seen their general go down, they throw
  down their arms, surrendering)
Mongo:  (catches the hammer as it returns)  Huh?  (he looks around,
  somewhat confused)  Why are they all running away?
Noggin:  (ambles up, clapping the other dwarf on the back)  Good work,
  lad!  Let's stop here - let 'em surrender, or run.  We've won the
  day!





next:      aftermath, and the search for motive
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www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
email:     tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     I am neither a strong proponent nor a staunch foe of war.
  It is a necessary evil, it gets the job done, and it is certain
  doom for most of its participants.  If you doubt me, go see the
  movie _Saving Private Ryan_ right now.  Pay particular attention
  to the opening twenty minutes.
    Lord Marcus' men live with this sort of thing, and they know
  that war is hell.  If they seem ruthless in this tale, it's more
  like efficiency - a necessary trait in this situation, and this
  lifestyle, and really, this sort of world (fantasy).
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