Chapter #616

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                                   +   +
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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2000 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Gorin           11th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Date:           1/21/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           dawn                                                  +
+   Place:          the northern reaches of the Shield Lands              +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "From where I'm sitting, it's a dog-eat-dog world, and there          +
+    just ain't enough dogs."                                             +
+                                - from _The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2_   +

                      DCXVI.  An Ill-Planned Strike

  The scout, having seen the imminent danger, was yelling at the top of
his lungs:

scout on pony:  Orcs!  Orcs!  Orcs coming from the west!
Gorin:  (cracks his knuckles)

  Throughout the company, dwarves and men alike prepared for battle.
Weapons and shields were hastily checked and made ready while the troops
organized into battle formations.  If the approaching attackers had been
mounted or perhaps possessed monsters, different tactics would have been
called for; as it was, this would be an infantry against infantry melee.
  As he hefted his axe and waited for the humanoids to come into view,
Gorin wondered about their origin and purpose.

Dwain:  (apparently thinking the same thing)  Betcha anything it's a
  retaliatory strike, to get back at us for helping the Shield Landers
Gorin:  Then we'd better teach them not to mess with us.
Dwain:  That's the spirit.
random dwarf:  Look!

  He pointed at the crest of the nearest hill, over which the mob of orcs
now streamed, weapons flailing as they hooted and screamed curses.  Gorin
knew that the orcs' numbers couldn't be too big - if they had been, there
would have been an order to retreat rather than fight.  Since they were
standing fast, those in command obviously thought much of their chances.
  Of course, there was always the magic factor.  The companies of human
troops had battle-magi, something which the orcs or their commanders had
apparently forgotten.  Then again, orcs weren't noted for great brainpower.

Gorin:  (echoing the thoughts of many of his comrades)  Whoa!

  One of Greyspire's wizards had launched a fireball into the midst of
the orcs, once enough of them were in view.  The resulting explosion shook
the ground and sent peals of fire in all directions.  Though the soldiers
were well out of the blast radius, they nevertheless felt the tremendous
heat from the flame.

orcs:  (scattering in every direction, many of them aflame)
Noggin:  (his booming voice rises above all)  DWARVES!  ATTACK!

  That was all they needed to hear.  Short, stout legs propelled armored
bodies forth, and orcs met axes and hammers in violent fashion...

Gorin:  (chops an orc, splitting its helm and skull)
orc:  Ghaaak!  (quivering as blood spews forth)
Gorin:  (rips his weapon free, knocking the orc aside as another comes
orc #2:  (its back on fire)  Aiieeeeeee!
Gorin:  (swings his axe in a sideways arc, nearly cutting the foe in two)
orc #2:  Urk!  (it falls, its blood hissing as it hits the flames)
orc #3:  (stabs at Gorin from the side)  Die!
Gorin:  (winces in pain as the crude weapon's point is turned by his
  fine armor)  That'll bruise up real nice.  (with a backhanded swing,
  he decapitates the orc)
Dwain:  (chanting ancient dwarven battle-songs, whose magical power
  rouses the dwarves and lifts their spirits)
Gorin:  (spots a pair of orcs rushing at the war-priest)  Dwain!
Dwain:  (more alert than he looks, he brings his shield up, catching
  a sword's blade on its lip and adding yet another notch to the old
orc:  Huh?
Dwain:  (brings his warhammer to bear, smashing the foe in the face)
orc:  (reels, its entire face shattered)  Aghk!
other orc:  (trying to get around that shield and slash at the dwarf)
Gorin:  (charges in from behind, cutting the humanoid down)
Dwain:  Thanks.  Didn't need the help, but thanks.
Gorin:  (grinning)  Bah.

  Both dwarves quit joking around then, for amidst the orcs, there were
a pair of much larger forms closing in...

Gorin:  Trolls!
Dwain:  Uh-oh.  (he begins working a different spell)
Gorin:  (heads for the nearest of the huge green trolls, his axe clearing
  a path)  Bogin!  Rogin!  Let's go get that troll!
Bogin:  Yeah!  (he and Rogin follow Gorin)

troll #1:  (steps on a dwarf)
dwarf:  Argh!
Gorin:  (dashes in, cutting at the troll's knee with his axe)
troll #1:  Ow.  (it brings a fist down)
Gorin:  (gets his shield up in time, but his arm goes numb with the force
  of the blow)  Argh!
orcs:  (rallying behind the troll, they quickly engage Bogin and Rogin)
troll #1:  (grabs Gorin's shield, lifting it up)
Gorin:  (rising with the shield, he pokes at the troll's face with his
  axe)  Take that!
troll #1:  (sliced across a grimy cheek, it shakes the shield, trying to
  dislodge the smaller attacker)  Off.
Gorin:  Sure.  (he lets go of the shield, dropping and rolling to the side
  before standing suddenly, his axe swinging in a deadly arc)
troll #1:  (finds the dwarf's axe buried to the haft in its chest)  Uk.
Gorin:  Hah.
troll #1:  (drops the shield and twists about, wrenching the axe's handle
  from Gorin's grasp)
Gorin:  Hey!  Dammit-
troll #1:  (claws at the dwarf)
Gorin:  (raked across the back and shoulder)  Argh!  (he backs away)
troll #1:  (rips the axe from its chest, tosses it aside, and lumbers
  toward Gorin)
Gorin:  Shit.

  With his weapon and shield gone, the troll still fighting, and a number
of orcs closing in, Gorin went to his last resort.

Gorin:  (calls upon the power of his enchanted armband, speaking the name
  engraved on the thing)

  A sudden wind cropped up, giving all nearby pause as they watched bits
of dirt and grass fly about.  The wind quickly became tangible, a living
tornado a good bit bigger than a man.

Gorin:  (watching in fascination, he suddenly snaps out of it)  Kill all
  the orcs!
air elemental:  (instantly moves toward a knot of three orcs)
orc #1:  (hurled away)
orc #2:  (hurled at the troll)
orc #3:  (tossed and turned within the elemental's windy body, it falls
  to the ground, battered and bloody)
Bogin:  (suddenly relieved from the foes who had been pressing him, he
  slays the fallen orc)
Rogin:  (engages another orc)
Gorin:  (recovers his axe and eyes the troll)  Mine.

  Meanwhile, somewhere close by...

Dwain:  (chanting prayers to Clangeddin, he eyes the second troll, his
  hands smoking)  Burlin!  Bain!  Back away from that troll!
Burlin:  (does so, leaping back, tripping, and then running toward the
troll #2:  (swats Bain aside, lumbering toward Dwain)
Dwain:  (points both hands at the huge foe)  Burn!

  A great pillar of flame appeared above the troll, and as the war-priest
worked his magic, the pillar dropped, engulfing the monster in searing

troll #2:  ARGH!  (it staggers about, waving its arms and shrieking)
Dwain:  Sabin!  Dabin!  Oil!
Sabin:  Right!  (fumbling with a flask of oil)
Dabin:  (no butterfingers like his brother, he finds and hurls his flask
  of oil, which hits the troll and explodes)
Dwain:  Good work!


troll #1:  (lunges at Gorin)
Gorin:  (uses his smaller size as an asset, ducking and running through
  the monster's legs)
troll #1:  Uh?  (it turns around)
Bogin:  (darts in, his axe finding the back of the troll's knee)
Gorin:  Good!  Just like I taught you!
Bogin:  (grins, waving his axe)
troll #1:  Arg!  (fallen to one knee now)
Gorin:  Much easier to hit this way...(he chops at the troll, shearing
  a piece of the thing's head off)
troll #1:  (screams, clutching its torn head, then stands, then falls
  due to the crippled knee)
Dwain:  (having cast a magical hammer of force, he brings this weapon
  to bear, hitting the troll so hard that it is knocked back...right
  into the other troll, who is a mass of flaming flesh right now)
Sabin:  (finally gets his oil-flask ready, hurling it at troll #2)
troll #1:  (the oil-bottle shatters across its chest, and it burns
  fiercely)  AAAARGH!
Gorin:  Good work, Sabin!
Sabin:  Err...right.  Thanks!
Dwain:  (continues to batter the two trolls with the force-hammer,
  especially when either one of them tries to move toward the dwarves)
trolls:  (eventually fall, burning down in a vague heap)
Gorin:  (looking around)  It's about over...

  And so it was.  With the two trolls eliminated, the dwarves had won
the day on their front; similarly, the human companies had fared well
against the orcs.  A quick order was passed down from the company
commanders to their troops...

Noggin:  No survivors.  No prisoners.

  This grim order was completely justified and necessary, for the last
thing they wanted was a survivor escaping to perhaps help in bringing
more foes to attack.  In a day or two, the Greyspire forces would be
back in safe lands.

Noggin:  Damn orcs.  (to Gorin and Dwain)  Everyone okay?
Dwain:  Looks like three human casualties...and we've got two dwarves
  dead, six far.  But we won.
Noggin:  That we did.  Nice work, all.
Gorin:  Another one for the good guys...

next:      Alindyar and Lyra seek out the Lord of Illusions
released:  2/24/00
notes:     I have written a sort of "state of the union" address and
  put it up on the web site, but beware - it contains minor SPOILERS
  for near-future plots:

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