Chapter #687

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                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +
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+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+     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   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   the iron dwarf  13th level dwarven berserker                          +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   Date:           late 578 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           unknown                                               +
+   Place:          the bottom of the Dramidj Ocean                       +
+   Climate:        cold, wet, murky, silent                              +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Now it's back to the kind of fight I'm used to...me versus           +
+    everybody."                                                          +
+                                                              Grifter    +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                      DCLXXXVII.  Rampage





  A week ago.

  The huge gray form sliced through the water, its large black eyes in
constant search of prey.  A monster among monsters, the shark was well
over fifty feet long, its maw big enough to swallow a horse whole.  Not
that a horse would be found here, in the murky depths of the Dramidj
Ocean.  No, the only denizens of this deep domain were big, strong, and
generally ferocious.
  The shark saw some movement in the distance, and instantly shifted
course to that direction, its powerful tail driving it through the water
with even greater speed.  The monster could and did eat anything unlucky
enough to stumble into its path.  However, the thing ahead didn't much
resemble any inhabitant of this deep, quiet world; in fact, it looked
like a small pile of seaweed, slowly shuffling along the ocean's bottom.
  To the shark, which had no mind to speak of and was driven by pure
primal instinct, the food's appearance meant nothing.  All that mattered
was that the thing moved, therefore it was alive, therefore it was edible.
With a single violent motion, the shark closed the distance, opening its
toothy maw and snapping up the prey.  There was only time for a couple
of bites before the meal was swallowed whole; the fact that its teeth
ground on the food but didn't cut it never registered to the shark.
  However, as it swam away, the sudden sharp pain in its stomach _did_
register.  The shark had never experienced such a sensation before, and
it didn't know what to do, how to make the hurting stop.  It tried some
wild thrashing, but that didn't help.  It swam faster, but that didn't
help either.  A bloody cut appeared on the beast's ventral side, some
metallic object poking out - and then, with a sudden and savage motion,
the cut opened up into an immense gash, spilling blood and organs into
the water.  The shark made several frenzied, jerking motions, still
unaware that it was dying, but finally settled down, twitching in its
death throes as it sank to the ocean bottom.
  The seaweed-covered form burst from the dead monster's body, taking
only a moment to right itself before walking away, step after step,
tirelessly and inexorably moving across the ocean floor.

  Now.

  On the western shores of the region claimed by the Tiger Nomads, a
a compact, armored form emerged from the sea without warning or fanfare.
Seaweed clung to the spikes and spurs of the dark gray (but not rusty)
armor, and water dripped from the form as it trudged onto the beach,
never pausing or slowing.  The eyeslits of this being's helm glowed with
an unquenchable crimson fire - the same fire that had kept those short,
stubby legs moving tirelessly for the last two years, across the ocean
floor, through crushing depths and thick dark muck and countless perils.
  No more, though - for today, the iron dwarf was back!  Of course, only
a scattering of fishermen, none of whom had any idea who or what he was -
were on hand to witness his return.

Ned the fisherman:  Good gods, what the hell is that?
Fred the fisherman:  'Tain't no fish, that's for sure.
Ned:  I'm not of a mood to go find out, myself...

  Some other fisherman was, however; more out of curiosity than any sort
of desire for confrontation, the man ran up to the wet, grimy figure.

rather foolish fisherman:  Hey!  Hey, you!
iron dwarf:  (keeps walking, ignoring the man)
rather foolish fisherman:  What're you about?
iron dwarf:  (without breaking stride, it swats the man)

  Later, more than a dozen witnesses would testify to the local warlord
that they personally witnessed their unfortunate fellow get knocked no
less than fifty feet away from the thing that had come out of the ocean.



  Of course, by that time, the iron dwarf was nowhere in the area, but
instead headed toward a small encampment of Tiger Nomads in the midst
of a plain.  The iron dwarf hadn't exactly targeted these people, but as
soon as he saw them, he headed that way.  Like the shark he killed a week
earlier, it was in his very nature to seek out confrontation.  The dozen
or so fishermen hadn't really registered to him, but the hundreds in the
camp ahead did.

nomad guard:  What?!?  Stop right there!
iron dwarf:  Grrrrr...
nomad guard:  Stop right there!  (he holds up his spear)

  The iron dwarf's axe cut through the spear's shaft as well as the man's
body, sending both tumbling to the ground in pieces.  This action was seen
by other nomads, and within moments, horns sounded an alert.  Warriors
took to horses, weapons and shields were made ready, and formations were
made.
  All of this didn't intimidate the iron dwarf in the least as he marched
toward the foes, his bloody axe held tightly in one mailed hand.

iron dwarf:  GRRR...

  The battle was violent and gory, and fairly short, though to the nomads
it seemed to stretch out forever, at least until each man died.  The iron
dwarf wasn't malicious in his attacks; he simply took on all comers, his
prodigous strength and deadly weapon slaying most and crippling the lucky
few.  He never stopped to finish off wounded foes, instead advancing to
challenge new ones.  Blades and arrows bounced or broke on his spiked
armor - armor which seemed to have no weak points, no unprotected joints
or seams.  Never had the nomads seen such an opponent, and most never
would again.  Ever.
  There were a couple of shamans and wizards among the ranks of the men,
and they made valiant, well-calculated attacks against the small, fierce
foe.  The magic missiles barely slowed the iron dwarf down, though; the
flaming arrows didn't faze him at all; the spray of color didn't have any
of the usual effects; the spell of sleeping only succeeded in knocking
out the six nomads closest to the iron dwarf.  The shaman was trying to
come up with a better attack when the foe hefted a wagon and hurled it
thirty feet, crushing the poor fellow as well as the wizard next to him.
  Eventually, having cut a wide and bloody swath through the encampment,
the iron dwarf moved on, heading eastward.  He had no sense of where he
was going or what he was doing; all that his rage-filled mind knew was
that none could stand in his way and not pay the price.
  None of the few surviving nomads dared to follow.



  However, there were others who did dare to confront the iron dwarf -
indeed, to confront him and more.

tall, thin fellow in hooded red robe:  (hovering fifty feet above the
  ground)  Ah, there you are.
iron dwarf:  RRRR?  (it looks up, swinging its axe in a vain attempt to
  hit the other)
tall, thin fellow:  (strokes his grey goatee)  I have been looking for
  you for years now.  (he produces a small gilded cage from a magical
  pocket)  And thanks to this Prison of Zagyg, you can now be put to
  real use.  (he opens the cage, chanting some arcane syllables)
iron dwarf:  (preparing to leap into the air and smite this foe dead)
  RRRAAAARGH-  (it vanishes suddenly, reappearing in minute form
  inside the wizard's cage)
tall, thin fellow:  (holds up the small cage, within which the iron
  dwarf still rages away)
tiny iron dwarf:  graaaaargh.
tall, thin fellow:  Excellent.  (he puts the cage away, then invokes a
  ring he wears)

  Just like that, the mysterious man was transported to another place,
leaving behind no evidence of his passing.  Later, scouts from the
local Tiger Nomad warlord would track the iron dwarf to this spot, but
come away empty - which, on reflection, would be a good thing for their
land.  The iron dwarf was now elsewhere, and part of a larger and more
important scheme than anything that the nomads could ever imagine.





next:      we get a good look at where the wizard and iron dwarf went
ftp:       ftp.peldor.com
www:       http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:  http://www.peldor.com/
email:     tmiller@peldor.com
released:  10/30/00
notes:     It is the day before Halloween, and if you go to
  http://www.peldor.com/whatif/a/index.html you will find that the
  Adventurers/Aliens story has been completed.  But that's not all.
  At midnight tonight, I will mail out a standalone Halloween special
  as well.
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