Chapter #794

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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   +
+   Mongo           18th level dwarven warrior                            +
+   Date:           7/8/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                            +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the Flinty Hills                                      +
+   Climate:        warm                                                  +
+   "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist    +
+    sees the opportunity in every difficulty."                           +
+                                                - Sir Winston Churchill  +

                    DCCXCIV.  Killer of Giants

  More than two months had passed since the battle at the fortress, and
for most of that time, Mongo had simply been roaming.  For a time, he
had helped a small town fight bandits.  In another land, he had been
most charitable, buying more supplies than he could ever use because a
lot of the shopkeepers had seemed poor, victims of recent slow business.
In another kingdom, he'd bartered an extra magical ring he possessed,
gaining in return full knowledge about the powers and properties of
various magical items he carried.

  Yes, he had stayed busy - and yet, for all of this, Mongo Thunderhead
was troubled.

  The problem was that Mongo, alone of all the adventurers, still wanted
to seek and fight evil foes.  He had no family and no home to return to
after days or weeks of adventuring.  In a way, Mongo stood alone:  his
hammer and armor were horrendously powerful, and when combined with the
other mighty magical items he carried, made him virtually unstoppable.
Nothing worried him.  Spells tended to bounce off or be absorbed by one
of his items.  Physical attacks barely fazed him, and if they did it
wasn't for long.  There was not a foe on this world that struck fear
into the dwarf's heart.
  This was why he could be counted on, for the Panagaeas and the evil
fortresses of the world:  all he wanted to do was fight at the side of
his friends, or else alone.  The important thing was the fighting.  It
might have been that his hammer, Stormcrest, in some way compelled him
to this behavior.  Whatever the answer, he certainly didn't know it, nor
did he care.

  He had finally ended up in the Flinty Hills, where he had immediately
gotten involved in a campaign against the humanoids of the Bone March,
to the east.  That evil kingdom had been massing forces all winter, and
had chosen this time to make a great foray into the demi-humans' lands.
They had somehow added a half-dozen giants to their ranks, and their
leaders had thought that this would ensure their victory.
  They had thought wrong.  Mongo had single-handedly slain four of the
giants, and his deeds in that battle, on top of everything else he'd
ever done, had earned him the title "Killer of Giants" among the demi-
humans of the area.  Of course, Mongo hadn't slain only giants; goblins
and orcs and such had fallen by the score against him.  He was, quite
simply, unstoppable in a battle, even a mass battle.  His armor kept
most blows from even hitting him, and the few wounds he did receive
never bled for long.  Meanwhile, he possessed strength enough to kill
a foe with his bare hands, or to swat aside a handful.  When he fought
with the dwarven artifact Stormcrest, he mowed down by the dozens.
Even siege engines - catapults, ballistae, and the like - were easily
demolished with one mighty throw of that warhammer.
  As soon as the demi-humans of the Flinty Hills realized that Mongo
was unstoppable, they rallied behind him, showing no fear as they
tore into the enemy ranks with renewed spirit.  From the first battle
that Mongo had taken part in, the demi-human forces had not lost, not
once - a string of seven successive victories.  The eighth had also
been the last, as Mongo had plowed his way through hundreds of foes
before facing the enemy general, a gigantic half-ogre, in single
combat.  Even that monster hadn't lasted long, and with his head up
on a pike, the Bone March humanoids had turned and fled, throwing
down their weapons.  The victors had yet pursued them, slaying many
more before finally giving up the chase.
  As it was at a number of other places, Mongo was famous, and a local
hero.  Kup Swiftfoot, who was something of a local celebrity himself,
had tried to convince Mongo to stay and settle down...

  Kup:  There are worse places to live, you know.
  Mongo:  Yeah, but I don't know if I'm ready to stay put, just yet.
  Kup:  You could be a general here...or a mayor...or a local lord.
    If you built even a small fortress, you'd have followers by the
  Mongo:  But I don't want that.
  Kup:  You don't?
  Mongo:  No.  At least not yet.  Well, I want the followers, the
    fighting men, but I don't want them tied to any certain area.
  Kup:  Hmm, I don't know what to call this.  Not wanderlust...
  Mongo:  Battle-lust.  I need to smash evil foes into a
    bloody paste.
  Kup:  Ah.  Let me throw a few ideas your way, then.
  Mongo:  Eh?
  Kup:  Yod - you know Yod, in the Lortmils - is always fighting some
    force or another.  There is never any peace there, not with all
    the humanoids in the mountains to the north.
  Mongo:  Ah.
  Kup:  I mean, they're held in check, but that's it.  A dedicated
    leader, of a dedicated force, could make it his mission to move
    through the outlying mountains and get rid of the enemies before
    they ever had the chance to mass and carry out raids.
  Mongo:  Hmmm.
  Kup:  Now bear in mind, this is all my personal conjecture, based
    on talking with Yod.  But it might be worth your while to look
    into the possibility.
  Mongo:  I hear you, and thanks.
  Kup:  Another idea...Lord Marcus might need some help in Greyspire.
  Mongo:  Tried that-  what?!?  He's dead!
  Kup:  He was returned to this mortal coil - his wounds weren't that
    serious.  Not like poor Drexel.
  Mongo:  Yeah, I knew he was killed.  But I didn't stick around long
    enough to find out about all who lived or died.
  Kup:  Well, Marcus is alive and well, but Greyspire is now at its
    weakest, its weakest in quite some time.  Your help there could
    make a big difference...all the difference.
  Mongo:  Well, like I said, I've been there and done that, and I didn't
    like it much.  But I'll think about it.
  Kup:  (nods)

  That had been three days ago, and Mongo still hadn't made up his mind.
Thunderdelve and Greyspire each held their own appeal to him, but he was
also intrigued by the unknown and possibly limitless adventures and
opportunities that the open road offered.  Perhaps he would venture to
Thunderdelve Mountain, and see what work the legendary Yod Ironbeard
might have for him.  Or, perhaps he would journey to the fortress of
Greyspire, make his peace with Lord Marcus, and find something to do
there.  Alternatively, he might simply set out on a random road, in a
random direction.  There were, after all, a lot of wrongs to be righted
out there in the world...a lot of good people who couldn't stand up for
themselves, or who could and did but were outnumbered or overpowered.

  Whichever road he chose and took, Mongo could be sure of one thing:
there would be battle.

next:      Nenya and Deryck
released:  1/7/02
notes:     I didn't mention it above, but those who have been paying
  attention have read between the lines:  one non-beneficial property of
  the invulnerable coat of Arnd is that the bearer loses all interest in
  sex.  Neither Mongo nor any of the others know about this, but yet it
  explains a lot:  why the dwarf hasn't sought a fine dwarven lass to
  settle down with.  All he can think about is battle and putting an end
  to evil.  I know that sex does not equal love, but in this case it's
  the general concept, not the literal wording, of this property of the
  armor that matters.

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