Chapter #692

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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                            +
+     19 other dwarves of Greyspire's Company W                           +
+   Date:           2/13/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           morning                                               +
+   Place:          the fortress of Greyspire, in the western Riftcanyon  +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "This is what I wanted: to be on the road with Dwarves again!"        +
+                               - Bilbo Baggins, _The Lord of the Rings_  +

                         DCXCII.  Command

  Several days ago, Gorin had been given the rank of sergeant, as well as
command of a new dwarven company...

Gorin:  Company "W"...assemble!
dwarves:  (standing at attention)

  Like the other two dwarven companies in Greyspire, this new one was
comprised of twenty dwarves.  Somehow (and Gorin doubted that it was
sheer coincidence) many of the dwarves he'd fought with previously had
found their way into his company.  His war-priest was stout Dwain, he
of the many-notched shield, the singer of old dwarven battle-songs.
There were also two sets of brothers:  Bogin and Rogin from the Iron
Hills, and Sabin and Dabin from the Rakers.  Burlin, an unusually fast
and agile dwarf who plied a smaller, lighter axe, was present.  His
cousin Bain, who favored a shortsword, stood beside him.
  Next was Fanfur, a huge, bushy-bearded dwarf who drank as hard as he
fought.  To his left stood the triplets Wodin, Wudin, and Wadin; all
three wore identical chain mail armor, carried identical round shields,
and fought with identical battleaxes.  As far as Gorin knew, nobody
could tell the three apart.  Standing next to these three was Hothgar
Two-Axes, so named for the fact that he fought with two battleaxes and
refused to use a shield.  His claim had something to do with killing
all enemies and thus not needing a shield.  If Hothgar was thought to
be a little unusual, the one next to him was known to be insane.  He
was Gurkin "Firebeard" - so named for his practice of putting burning
candlewicks into his beard before going into battle.  No one knew where
the dwarf had gotten this crazy idea, but many had commented that old
Gurkin did come in handy when it was time to light torches or oil-
  Gorin hadn't really gotten to know the other six dwarves yet, but
like the others, they seemed hale and hardy.  He had no doubt that if
put into battle, his company would hold its own without problems.
  Of course, such things were always best tested ahead-of-time...

Gorin:  Today we're going out into the canyon.  One of the scouts has
  reported signs of possible humanoid activity, so someone needs to
  have a look-see.  Gather your weapons and ready your armor, guys -
  we're going hunting!

  It took a short time for the force to pack up supplies and get ready,
but they were efficient and enthusiastic, and as morning threatened to
slip into midday, the company was moving down a trail into the upper
regions of the Riftcanyon.

Gorin:  Why is there a trail here?
Thurn:  (a scout and one of the six dwarves Gorin hadn't known by name
  until this morning)  For missions like this.  Usually, we like to keep
  the fortress safe from what's below...discourage the beasts and other
  things from coming up, if you know what I mean.  But here and there,
  far from Greyspire itself, we've got paths like this one, to ease our
  trips into the canyon when we have to go down there.
Gorin:  Ah, I see.  Been into the canyon much?
Thurn:  (nods)  More'n anyone else, I'd say.  (he counts on his stubby
  little fingers)  Seven times.  At least.
Gorin:  What's down there?  (he eyes the wide, rocky area ahead)  Err,
Thurn:  Usually, nothing.  That's the trick - the place has a nasty
  reputation, so nobody goes there.  (he cracks his knuckles)  Except
  the monsters.
Gorin:  How bad?
Thurn:  Varies...sometimes humanoids, sometimes real monsters.  (his
  gaze turns to the sky)  Well, would you look at that...
Gorin:  Eh?
Thurn:  Ahead there...vultures circling in the sky.

  It was true; as they came around a bend in the trail, they could see
that several of the birds were at work, somewhere ahead.  The canyon's
vultures were big, ugly, ornery bastards that were said to attack the
living if they were in the mood.

Thurn:  Something's dead for sure, up there a ways...
Gorin:  Let's find out.  Everyone, keep your eyes open and weapons
  ready.  Fan out - Rogin and Bogin, guard the right rear flank; Sabin
  and Dabin, take the left.

  The dwarves were ready for battle, but they weren't ready for the
scene of bloody carnage that awaited them.  It had been a slaughter;
blood, bodies, and parts of bodies were scattered across the trail.

Gorin:  What the hell...?
Thurn:  Bugbears, looks like...maybe ten.  (he looks around)  Hard to
  tell, really.
Dwain:  This is still pretty close to the fortress...(he looks to Gorin)
Gorin:  Too close.
Thurn:  Damn right it's too close.  The other thing we need to worry
  about is what killed these bugbears.
Gorin:  And where it is now.
Dwain:  Whatever it was that did this, it was damn strong.  And big,
  I'd bet.
Thurn:  Could be any number of things-  Hold!  (he scans the area)
Gorin:  What?!?
Thurn:  Dunno...something doesn't feel right.
Gorin:  (signals to the others, putting them on alert with weapons at
  the ready)
Dwain:  (used to trusting the instincts of others, he begins casting
  a spell of divination)

  Without any further warning, the ground began shaking wildly, throwing
several of the dwarven soldiers from their feet.  The hard, stony earth
of the trail exploded upward, rocks and rubble bursting in all directions
as a huge form roared its anger.

Thurn:  Umber hulk!
Gorin:  Yeah!  (he yells to the troops)  Don't look at it!  Form a battle
  circle - make it come at a bunch of us no matter what side it attacks
Fanfur:  How the hell're we supposed to fight the damn thing if we can't
  look at it?
Gurkin Firebeard:  Like this!  (he holds his shield over his head and
  charges at the thing's legs)

  Even though the crusty old warrior hadn't had time to put the burning
wicks into his beard and hair, his effort was a valiant one.  The beast
actually staggered before the impact, though it didn't fall.

umber hulk:  RAAARGH!  (it grabs the old dwarf, preparing to maul him
  with its fearsome pincers)
Gorin:  Shit...look what happens when you don't obey orders...

  Gurkin had been insubordinate, but this wasn't the time to deal with
that, and Gorin wasn't about to lose a warrior if he could help it.
Fortunately, with his enchanted axe - not to mention the fact that the
monster was focused on Gurkin at the moment - Gorin had a chance, and
took it.

Gorin:  Burlin, you're with me!  (he leaps forward, axe flashing)

  Gorin's axe bit deeply into the umber hulk's ankle, immediately
causing it to drop old Gurkin and fall to the ground in pain.  Ever-
speedy, Burlin had been ready for this, and darted in, his lighter
axe striking once and then a second time, scoring hits in the foe's

umber hulk:  (thrashes about wildly, driving back its attackers)
Gorin:  Everyone, circle the thing - don't let it escape!  (he watches
  as the dwarves obey)  If it makes a break, shift the circle and keep
  it surrounded!
umber hulk:  (trying to get to its feet, with great difficulty)
Wudin:  (accidentally meets the thing's gaze, and goes wandering off,
  out of his mind)
Hothgar Two-Axes:  (watching the thing's huge legs, his axes ready)
  It's getting ready to!
umber hulk:  GRAAARGH!  (makes a break for it, limping toward what it
  sees as the weak point in the ring of dwarven soldiers)
Gorin:  Now - attack!

  The umber hulk swept a dwarf out of its way, then caught one of
Hothgar's axes on its arm.

Hothgar Two-Axes:  Hah!
umber hulk:  (swats the dwarf aside)
Gorin:  (charging and leaping, he buries his axe-head in the thing's
umber hulk:  AAARGH!  (it flails about, bleeding)
Dwain:  (completes a spell, causing the rock and dirt of the ground to
  entangle the hulk's feet and slow it down)
umber hulk:  GRRRR!
Gorin:  Dwarves, take it down, now!

  Working quickly in concert, the dwarves were able to knock the big
monster to the ground, where it finally gave up and tried to flee back
underground.  Unwilling to let such a dangerous foe get away and live
to kill another day, Gorin's force made quick work of the wounded

Gorin:  Whew.
Thurn:  (having been knocked down early on and never getting into the
  fight)  Damn umber hulk.
Dwain:  I suppose the bugbears were out hunting...
Thurn:  So was the umber hulk.
Gorin:  And, in turn, so were we.  (he looks around)  Dead or injured?
Dwain:  Nothing too serious, looks like.  (he moves to treat the
Wodin:  (heads over to retrieve the dazed and confused Wudin)
Gorin:  And so, the safety of Greyspire is assured...
Thurn:  Only for a time.  This was an easy day in the Riftcanyon.

next:      back to Greyhawk and the drow
released:  11/16/00
notes:     Gorin is one of those supporting characters I like to revisit
  every once in a while.

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