Chapter #641

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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   +
+   Razor Charlie    9th level human fighter                              +
+     Eduardo        3rd level human thief                                +
+     Neko           7th level human female thief                         +
+     Zhao           8th level human swordsman                            +
+   Date:           1/13/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           nighttime                                             +
+   Place:          the town of Helgate                                   +
+   Climate:        bone-chillingly cold                                  +
+   "I'm faster than you'll ever live to be."                             +
+                            - the stranger, from _High Plains Drifter_   +

                       DCXLI.  Charlie In Charge

  While most of the others have journeyed away to launch strikes at old
enemies of Belphanior, a select few have been left behind in Helgate to
keep the peace.

Razor Charlie:  (drinking a rather bitter beer at the Sword and Cup)
Rexxus:  Just got that batch special-brewed the other day.  Like it?
Neko:  (nearly spits the stuff out)  It's horrible!
Rexxus:  (shrugs, turning to Zhao)  What do you think?
Zhao:  (speaking in his strangely clipped far Western accent)  I do not
  drink spirits.
Rexxus:  Oh.
Razor Charlie:  Good stuff.  Have a keg sent to the guardhouse for me.
  (he drops a couple of thick golden coins on the bartop)
Rexxus:  (makes the coins disappear)  You got it.
Eduardo:  (tries the beer and finds it too bitter for his liking, but he
  drinks it anyway, not wanting to let Razor Charlie down)

  At a nearby table, several foreign mercenaries were drinking perhaps
a bit too much liquid courage.

Korl:  (a big bear of a man, thick as a tree and about as smart)  -bad
  enough that the damned elf wouldn't hire us, but look at the kind of
  people he does hire.
Horace:  (a tall, skinny fellow)  Fucking elves and dwarves and women.
  What a crock of shit.  (he drains his mug, the cheap beer splashing
  all over his chin)
Tergil:  (a short, ugly, shaven-headed man)  It ain't fair.  We deserve
  those jobs, not a bunch of pansy clowns like them.
Korl:  That girl there looks like she needs some lovin' bad.  She's been
  teasing half the town, from what I hear.
Tergil:  Maybe it's time for us to take what's ours.
Horace:  Yeah...
Claudia:  (shows up with the previously-requested refills)  You boys
  would do well to keep those thoughts to yourselves, before someone
  hears you.
Korl:  What the hell are you talking about, woman?  I say what I like,
  and if someone else don't care for it...tough shit.
Claudia:  Just some friendly advice, stranger.  (she puts the mugs of
  beer down)  Anything else?
Horace:  (grabs her)  Yeah.  You can keep your mouth shut and-
Claudia:  (jerks away from the man's hold)  Hands off!
Horace:  Hey, booty's booty.  (he stands, one arm raised)
Claudia:  (backs away)
Razor Charlie:  Enough!

  The marshal was standing, having crossed half of the distance between
his table and theirs before anyone knew it.

Korl:  (stands up)  Oh, really?
Tergil:  (follows the other's lead)  Says who?  You?
Horace:  Last time I looked, the elf and his whole damn posse were out
  of town...gone.  Without all of those freaks, you're nothing.
Razor Charlie:  (sneers at the three men)

  Those patrons of the tavern who had been in Helgate for a while began
moving out of the way, or in some cases out of the building.  Rexxus
wailed in misery, trying to avoid another fight that would surely wreck
his place.

Rexxus:  Not here, kind sirs-
Tergil:  Shut up, before I carve you a new asshole.
Korl:  (swaggers over to Razor Charlie)  I've heard about you, knife-man.
  Heard that you came from a circus where you threw blades for the coins
  of little sprats.
Razor Charlie:  (stands there, grimacing)  You heard wrong.
Korl:  What're you gonna do, throw a knife in my belly just for speaking
  my mind?

  Charlie moved in a blur, so fast that only a few present saw it coming.
The big mercenary certainly didn't.  Charlie's knee shot up, smashing
into the other's groin with a sickening crunch.

Korl:  Urg!  (he doubles over, retching)
Horace:  Hey!  (he shoves a chair aside, running over to help his friend)
Razor Charlie:  (stands his ground)
Horace:  (stops short, realizing that this foe is no slouch)
Razor Charlie:  Enough is enough.  No more drinking here for you three.
  You can leave on your feet or on your back - your choice.
Horace:  Bah.  (he draws his sword)  We don't take threats from lackeys
  in tiny shit towns.
Tergil:  (headed over to help the other two)
Eduardo:  (smashes a chair over the man's shoulders)  Not so fast.
Tergil:  Ungh!  (he falls to the floor)
Eduardo:  (still holding one leg of the chair, he bashes Tergil over the
  head for good measure)
Tergil:  (knocked unconscious)
Neko:  Nice work.  What about Charlie?
Eduardo:  He'll be fine.

  Razor Charlie still hadn't bothered to draw any of his deadly knives.
Using a barstool, he feinted and blocked Horace' sword.

Horace:  (finally gets a good slashing overhead blow in, snapping all of
  the wooden struts that connect the stool's legs)
Razor Charlie:  (flings the stool at the foe, then pulls out a single
Horace:  (knocks the remnants of the stool aside with his sword)
Razor Charlie:  (throws the knife, hitting the foe in the wrist of his
Horace:  Aaaaie!  (he almost drops his sword)
Razor Charlie:  (rushes in, grabbing the weakened sword-hand and smashing
  it against a tabletop)
Horace:  Argh!
Razor Charlie:  (knees the man in the stomach, causing him to drop his
  weapon and wheeze for breath)
Eduardo:  (grabs the sword)
Razor Charlie:  Get this trash out of here.

  Just then, Korl lumbered to his feet, threads of bile hanging from his

Korl:  Grrrr...
Neko:  (behind the man, her blade pricks into his back)  Don't even think
  about it, puke-face.
Korl:  Huh?  You wouldn't-
Neko:  If you make one false move, I sure will.

  They marched the disruptive mercenaries out of the tavern, except for
Tergil, who was dragged out by Eduardo.  The strapping lad carried the
swords of the other two, as well.  He had come a long way from the tiny
kid who skulked and spied about town, only indirectly getting involved
in things.

Razor Charlie:  You know the law here:  raising a weapon against a town
  marshal is cause for the death penalty.
Korl:  To hell with that!  (he whirls around, grabbing Neko by the arm
  and twisting her about savagely)  I'll kill all of-
Neko:  (with the agility of a cat, she twists back around and grabs the
  big man's crotch, squeezing hard)
Korl:  AIE!
Neko:  (released from his grip, she swings and lands a punch across the
  assailant's face, breaking his nose)
Horace:  Dammit...(he gets his boot knife and lunges forth)
Razor Charlie:  (puts two knives in the man's throat before he's taken
  five steps)
Horace:  (falls, gurgling)
Korl:  (still staggering about, he grabs an empty bottle from the street
  and breaks it on the hard ground)  I'll get you all!
Eduardo:  (having moved around behind the enraged foe, he sinks his blade
  into the man's torso)
Korl:  Aghk!  (he falls to his knees)  How?!?  (he pitches over, landing
  face-first in a patch of half-frozen mud, and dies)
Eduardo:  (cleans the blade on the slain foe's tunic)
Razor Charlie:  Good job, kid.
Eduardo:  (shrugs)  Good teachers.
Neko:  (jerks a thumb at the unconscious Tergil)  What about him?
Razor Charlie:  Throw him in the jail.  We'll deal with him tomorrow.
Zhao:  (surveying the scene, arms folded)
Neko:  Why didn't you help?
Zhao:  It would have been a waste of effort.  Everything was well in hand.

next:      Deryck...Nenya...a new name for Ged's lands
released:  5/22/00
notes:     I had to keep the home fires burning.

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