Lost Chapter #10

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                                  *
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                          *               *
                        *                   *
                      *    THE ADVENTURERS    *
                    *                           *
                      *     Lost Tales...     *
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                            *           *
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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, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      *
*  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  *
*  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    *
*  way, shape, or form.                                             *
*    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    *
*  right 1991-7 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons   *
*  or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  *
*  Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only   *
*  under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or    *
*  sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them...         *
*                                                                   *
*                                  Thomas Miller                    *
*                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   *
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*  Rillen       8th level human monk                            (N) *
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*  Date:        1/12/569 C.Y. (Common Year)                         *
*  Time:        midday                                              *
*  Place:       the plains of Sterich                               *
*  Climate:     cold                                                *
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*  "All right, I'll prove it...but I'll need someone to prove       *
*   it _on_."                                                       *
*                - Bruce Lee, from _Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story_   *
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                     X.  First Iteration





  The traveler paused, reining his horse to a stop, as he spotted
the city on the horizon.  A vast, sprawling place that stretched
wider than anywhere else he'd visited, the city was still several
hours' ride away.  He wasn't sure that he wanted to go there, but
then again, he wasn't sure that he didn't.  His mind thusly made
up, he spurred his mount into motion, heading for the towers in the
distance.
  A large, muscular man, the rider was clothed in dark grey robes.
A hood covered his clean-shaven head, and aside from his size and
build, the casual observer might have thought him a priest of some
sort.  A wooden staff was tied across his saddle, along with his
bags, and one tip of an unstrung longbow protruded from some folds
of cloth next to the staff.
  The weaponry carried was superfluous, for the traveler himself was
practically a weapon.  His name was Rillen, and he was a monk of
sorts...a fighting monk.  Abandoned as a tiny infant in a faraway
land, he had grown up under the tutelage of the monks.  Despite his
darkly foreign skin and his astonishing size (he stood taller than
any of the monks by his twelfth year) the young student had been
treated well in his adopted home.  He had shown an amazing aptitude
for learning, and as the years passed, he'd become well-versed in
both the martial and philosophical arts.
  After Rillen had spent seventeen winters in the monastery, it was
judged that he'd learned all he could learn there.  The time had
come for the monk to venture into the outside world, to encounter
and conquer the challenges that lay beyond the closed world he knew.
Thus it was that from a common origin, an uncommon adventurer
developed, matured, and eventually set out into the world.



  As he drew nearer and the city slowly grew larger, Rillen found
himself wondering if he'd been born in a place such as this.  Who
had his true parents been, and why had they left him in that snowy
mountain pass, all those years ago?  From the works he'd studied in
the monastery, he knew that his skin color (dark brown, enough so
to technically be called black) was common to the ancient people
known as the Flan.  This suggested that his place of origin was the
distant kingdom of Tenh...but it could just as easily be some other
area where, centuries ago, Flan people had migrated and settled.
  As always, this line of thought gave him a headache; he closed
his eyes and meditated briefly until it had passed.  Though he had
long ago decided that where he came from wasn't as important as how
he lived his life now, he couldn't help but wonder what the truth
was.  Well, he mused to himself, perhaps someday he would discover
the truth.  Until then, he had many lessons to learn.  Long months
of travel, first through high, icy mountains and then across barren
plains, had still not offered him any habitation larger than a small
town.  Whatever the city ahead, it promised to hold new wonders and
dangers - and he looked forward to facing both.



  Hours later, Rillen stood inside a general store, pondering which
items and wares were most necessary at this point in time.  He'd not
left the monastery copper-less, but his money-pouch was by no means
overflowing.  As he picked and chose between the variety of supplies
and provisions on the worn shelves of the shoppe, the monk realized
that he'd eventually have to find some means of gainful employment.
That was just one of the facts he'd learned after emerging into the
wide, wicked world.  Another such fact was the tendency of numbers
of aggressive people to start trouble; such rogues had no concept of
skill or prowess at arms.  Indeed, Rillen had been forced to leave
the last small town he'd stopped in because of a fight some idiots
had picked with him.  Apparently they'd believed that foreigners
were unfit to eat, drink, and rest in the same tavern with them -
and they'd been ready to prove it, with their fists.
  The way Rillen figured it, they'd realized their mistake after the
first man went crashing through a window.  When the second would-be
assailant was used to shatter a table, the foes' resolve had wavered.
By the time the third foe's jaw was shattered by a roundhouse kick,
the others had fled.  Unfortunately, for Rillen, he didn't flee, and
it took hours of explaining the same thing over and over (not to
mention a good bit of luck) for him to get away without spending
some time in the town jail.  To simplify matters, he'd left that
very night, the lesson clear:  fighting skills were of great use,
but not in all situations.
  Thinking about all of this now, as he paid for his new supplies,
Rillen realized that he might have to fight for a living.  No, not
arena-style gladiator combat - that was the recourse of the foolish
or desperate.  A mercenary company, perhaps...or maybe a position
teaching others to fight like he could...or even joining some kind
of adventuring band, free to roam the world and undertake mighty
ventures.  Even his disciplined mind reeled at this latter idea,
for the call to adventure held a special place in his heart...and
it wasn't as if he had nothing to offer a group of roaming warriors,
wizards, and priests.  Aside from his skill at unarmed combat, he
was skilled with his bow and staff.  That latter item held a nasty
surprise for any who presumed a wooden stick unable to injure an
armored foe:  a hidden blade of tempered steel, able to be popped
out with the flick of a wrist.
  Smiling to himself as he pondered the possibilities, Rillen left
the supply shoppe and returned to his horse, tied to a post outside
the store.  Next up was a trip to the stables, to get some oats and
water for his faithful mount, and then...then he'd begin seeking a
means of earning his way in the world.



  As it turned out, he didn't have to look too hard.  After his
polite inquiry about adventuring groups yielded simple directions,
he found himself standing before a large building.  A placard
hanging over its great door identified it as the "Adventurers'
Guildhall" of the city, and various adventurer-types filtered in
and out of the place.  He followed their lead, walking up the
steps and entering the building, but quickly learned that one had
to _pay_ for the privilege of coming here.  He didn't know if it
was worth the price, but he paid anyway, and made his way to an
immense tack-board.  Here, various notices and advertisements were
posted for all to see, and he scrutinized them carefully.

fellow:  (taps Rillen on the shoulder)  'Scuse me, pal.
Rillen:  (turns, looking down on the shorter man)  Eh?

  The man was a wizard, garbed in decorative white robes complete
with a pointed hat.  He was older, perhaps in his fifties, with a
full white beard and bushy eyebrows.

wizard:  Are you a warrior?
Rillen:  You could say that...why do you ask?
wizard:  Some others and I are about to embark on an adventure,
  and we're looking for more warriors.  Do you think you'd be
  interested?
Rillen:  Lead on.

  They left the guildhall, retiring to a booth in some nondescript
tavern.  There, the wizard introduced Rillen to the others in his
party.

wizard:  This is Rillen, everybody.  (he points to a huge, mean-
  looking, stocky, red-bearded man who wields a heavy axe)  This
  is Narl Redbeard, who claims to be a blood relative of the mighty
  Stonefist-
Narl:  (speaks in a booming voice)  I _am_ a relative of Stonefist!
  And someday I will return and claim what is rightfully mine!
wizard:  (gestures to a young, baby-faced blond man)  That is Roldo,
  a roving priest of Pelor.
Roldo:  Pleased to make your acquaintance, good sir.
wizard:  (indicates a wary-looking halfling with a patch over one
  eye)  This fellow is Acerbicus Jentak-
halfling:  Just call me Ace, pal.
Rillen:  (nods slightly)
wizard:  Ace is our resident lockpicker and scout.
Ace:  Among other things.
wizard:  And I'm Locretius, an adept of the Outer Circle.
Rillen:  Well met, all.  Now what is this quest we're to undertake?
Narl:  You talk funny, big man.  Where're you from?
Rillen:  Lots of different places.
Locretius:  To answer the question...this mission should be fairly
  simple, and the pay is high.  And we all need money...
Narl:  Money will power my campaign to return to Stonefist and smash-
Roldo:  Pelor's temple seeks contributions, which it is my duty to
  provide.
Ace:  (shrugs)  I always need money.
Locretius:  And there is the matter of my research.
Rillen:  Again I ask:  what is the job?
Locretius:  Border scouts have reported sightings of giants, to the
  south.  Because we're the closest major city to that area, the
  mayor's responsible for investigating these sightings.
Narl:  But they don't want to waste a squad of the city's best
  troops.
Ace:  So they send us.  Typical.
Roldo:  (appears to have little idea of what's going on)
Locretius:  Whatever the case, the mayor's assigned his agent Vospus
  to take care of this, and Vospus has hired me...us.
Rillen:  Hmm.  What does this...task pay?
Locretius:  Your share will be fifty crowns of gold.
Rillen:  (mentally awed, he has the presence of mind to maintain a
  calm appearance)  Fifty?
Narl:  What's the matter, isn't that enough for your liking?
Rillen:  It will do fine - I just thought that the city would pay
  more for a mission such as this.
Ace:  If they send troops and lose 'em, that's years of training
  and experience lost.  This way's cheaper.
Roldo:  Plus we get to split any loot seized from the giants with
  the city.
Ace:  (staring at the priest)  Uh, sure.  Whatever you say.


Locretius:  (nods)  I'd suggest that we leave tomorrow morning.
Rillen:  Fine by me.

  The monk spent his last coins on a room for the night, and then
spent an hour or so cleaning his gear and organizing his supplies.
He wasn't sure about the quality of this "mission" he'd been made
a part of, but then again, he'd never see what the world had to
offer if he didn't get out there into the thick of things.  Unsure
of the future (but nevertheless excited) Rillen went to bed early,
to best prepare his body and mind for the morrow's adventures.



  Within an hour of the sun's dawning the next morning, the five
companions were already riding out for the southern border.  They
had a seal from the city's mayor, in case they had to pass through
any border patrols.  This only happened once; when the soldiers on
patrol were told that the adventurers had come to look into the
giant problem, they were only too happy to allow them passage.  The
five spent the night in a small border fort, anticipating reaching
their goal on the morrow.  Rillen kept to himself, mostly, except
when the halfling Ace came to talk to him.

Ace:  Say, buddy, what do you think about all this?
Rillen:  I'm not sure I understand your meaning.
Ace:  Well, I was just thinking...is it really worth risking our
  necks over this...to find a bunch of giants?  Why not bolt?
Rillen:  Bolt?  You mean flee?
Ace:  Yep.  I mean, what's the point of fighting a bunch of giants?
  Hell, we'll never win that kind of battle.
Rillen:  It is not in my nature to..."bolt."  As for the giants,
  we shall just have to see.
Ace:  You're ready to go through with this mission, then?
Rillen:  (shrugs)  If I wasn't, I wouldn't have joined.  If this
  news disappoints you, I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is.
Ace:  (grumbling, he wanders away)
Rillen:  (wonders if this was a test of some sort)



  The morning came, and saw the group heading further south, into
the shadow of the Jotens.

Ace:  I guess the real question now is, how do you find wandering
  giants?
Roldo:  What do they like to eat?
Narl:  People.
Roldo:  Oh.
Rillen:  Why not lay in wait somewhere...somewhere hidden from
  view?  Maybe along a trail?  Then we could just watch and wait.
Locretius:  An excellent idea.
Narl:  Hide?  We're gonna _hide_?  What kind of yellow-bellied
  bastard hides from a fight?
Ace:  One who wants to live.
Narl:  Rubbish!  We've got to strike now, to let them know what's
  coming-
Ace:  Hey, I've got a better idea:  why don't we send Narl out
  there to wander around...use him as bait?
Narl:  Why, you little-
Rillen:  Enough!  I didn't join this group to watch you people
  squabble amongst yourselves.
Locretius:  He's right.  Narl, if you want to wander around these
  parts and invite attack, feel free.  We'll back you up as best
  we can, but it's a hazardous option.
Roldo:  To each their own, I suppose.
Narl:  (cursing to himself)  Make your hiding-camp.  Then I shall
  decide how best to pursue the attack.
Ace:  I'm glad you approve.
Rillen:  (beginning to have second thoughts about joining a group)

  For their vantage/ambush site, they chose a natural shelf of
rock on the side of a mountain slope.  It overlooked a well-used
trail, had good concealment from the bushes nearby, and was easily
accessed.  While Narl went "to have a long look", the others made
a bare-bones camp and sat down to wait.

  They didn't have to wait long.  Some jovial grunting was heard
from the uphill side of the trail, and shortly, a pair of gigantic
figures strode into view.  More than twice a man's height, their
dirty bodies bespoke crude, savage origins.

Locretius:  (whispering)  Hill giants!
Rillen:  They don't look so tough.
Roldo:  (shocked)  Come again?
Rillen:  A knee is a knee, no matter how tall its owner.
Ace:  What do we-

  There was a loud crash just then, as a small outcropping of
rocks above the trail (opposite to and somewhat higher than the
group's hiding place) collapsed, showering the giants with an
assortment of boulders.

giants:  (confused and surprised, they stagger and use their
  arms to shield themselves)
Narl:  (leaps form above, battle axe swinging)  Yaaaaaaaaaa!

  The warrior collided with one of the giants, his heavy blade
biting deep.  The giant's head, shorn away at one side, spewed
blood, and the victim screamed, batting at the warrior whose
assault had disfigured it so.

Narl:  (knocked away roughly)  Ungh!  (he lands on the ground,
  rolling right back up to a standing position, and snarls)
  Come on, then!
giant#2:  (turns to face Narl)  You'll pay for that!  (he
  charges, brandishing a huge wooden club)

  Suddenly, a volley of glowing bolts blazed from above, striking
the giant about the back and head.  As the big foe swatted the air
in confusion, the others were already at work.  Ace was making his
way to the ground, in preparation for a surprise backstab attack.
Rillen was nocking an arrow, while Roldo had begun a spell.  As for
Locretius, he was working on his next enchantment.

giant#1:  (staggers to his feet, grabbing up the largest of the
  boulders from the rockslide)  Graaaar!  (he hurls the thing at
  the adventurers' vantage point)
Rillen:  Whoa!  (his launched arrow goes awry as he leaps to the
  side)

  Rillen tumbled down the slope, barely avoiding an all-out fall.
The others were not so lucky.  With a ground-shaking crunch, the
hurled boulder smashed into the makeshift camp, pulverizing Roldo
and Locretius in a spray of shattered rock.  This impact, in turn,
started a small landslide, covering Rillen and perhaps Ace in a
wave of falling rubble.
  Meanwhile, Narl had attacked the second giant, his axe biting
deeply into its club-arm.  As the stricken giant reeled back,
screaming, Narl leaped upon it, hacking away madly.  The giant
flailed and yelled, badly wounded - and then its fellow came to
its aid, plucking the furious Narl from its companion.

giant#1:  (grabbing Narl by one leg, it swings him around, into
  the ground, with a sickening SMACK)  Hah!
giant#2:  (grabs Narl's arms, and the two of them begin playing
  tug-of-war)

  Nearby, Rillen had recovered his wits, but his bowstring had
been snapped in the fall.  Hefting his quarterstaff, he charged,
the weapon's blade popping out as he ran.

Rillen:  Hiiii-yaah!  (with a well-aimed blow, he severs one
  giant's arm at the elbow)
giant#1:  AARGH!
Rillen:  (on his backswing, he hits the other giant's knee with
  the blunt end of his staff)
giant#2:  <CRACK>  YAAARGH!  (he falls to one knee)
Ace:  (approaches, quietly, behind the second giant)
Narl:  (staggers to his feet, bleeding and bruised, one shoulder
  dislocated from the previous tug-of-war)  I'll...get them...
giant#1:  (tries to pick up another boulder, but ends up dropping
  it on his foot)  OWWW!  (he begins hopping around)
Narl:  (though in great pain, he swings his axe, burying it in the
  giant's face)  Hah!
giant#1:  (falls, dying)
Narl:  (with another blow, he lops off the downed foe's head)  Got
  you!

  As the northerner stood, triumphant, a gigantic boulder came from
further down the trail, smashing him to pulp where he stood.

giant#3:  Dummies.  Good thing I had to take a piss and catch up...
  (he hefts another huge rock)
Ace:  (stabs the second giant in the back, slicing open his spine)
giant#2:  AAARGH!  (his back splitting open even as he whirls, he
  snatches the halfling and hurls him away with all his might)
Ace:  (flies more than a hundred feet into the air, farther in the
  direction he was thrown, and disappears from sight)  Aaaaaaaa...
Rillen:  (smacks the wounded giant in the neck with his staff)
giant#2:  <SNAP>  (he falls to the ground, blood drooling from his
  mouth and nose)
Rillen:  (dashes away, seeking cover)
giant#3:  (hurls his boulder)  I'll smash you like a bug!
Rillen:  (darts and weaves, avoiding the boulder by mere feet and
  yet catching several slivers of rock in his legs and back)  Argh!

  The warrior's staff had also been knocked out of his hand, landing
about twenty feet away.  As Rillen painfully regained his footing,
the giant approached, chortling.

giant#3:  I'll fight you fair and square...hand to hand!  Ha!
Rillen:  (realizes that he'll never get his staff back, and adopts
  a fighting stance)

  Though the giant was much bigger and stronger than him, Rillen
knew the value of training and discipline.  Willing himself to
ignore the pain of the rock-splinters in his lower body, he tried
to focus his mind on the enemy before him.  He had to strike both
quickly and accurately, and make every opportunity count.

giant#3:  (swings a massive fist)  Yah!
Rillen:  (sidesteps, bringing his own fist into the giant's elbow)
giant#3:  <CRACK>  Aaargh!  (he clutches his wounded arm to his
  side)  What the hell?!?
Rillen:  (spins and kicks, a tremendous roundhouse kick that lands
  on the giant's ribs)

  The kick, useful for delivering powerful blows, turned out to be
a mistake against a foe of this stature.  Not only did the giant
shrug off the blow, he swiped at Rillen while he was off-balance.

Rillen:  (knocked to the ground)  Ungh!
giant#3:  (standing over the monk)  Now I got you!
Rillen:  (summoning all his might, he brings a fist up into the
  giant's crotch)  Yieeee!
giant#3:  UNF!  (he doubles over, as Rillen scrambles to get out
  of the way)
Rillen:  (leaps to his feet, then leaps at the giant, bringing both
  fists around on the big foe's ears)
giant#3:  <SMACK>  (he reels, dazed)
Rillen:  (taking no chances, he lands a forward kick on the side of
  one of the giant's knees)
giant#3:  <CRUNCH>  (his knee shattered, he howls in pain)
Rillen:  (leaping again, he lands on the giant's back, grabbing
  the foe's head and twisting, suddenly, hard)
giant#3:  <SNAP>

  Rillen dropped to the ground, exhausted.  He didn't have time to
dally, though, and was back on his feet momentarily.  Gathering his
weaponry, he checked on his companions.  Narl, Locretius, and Roldo
were all slain, little more than pulp.  There was no sign of Ace;
after gathering what he could use from the elevated campsite, Rillen
wandered away in the direction Ace had been thrown.  His efforts
were fruitless, however, and he couldn't wait around here for more
giants to show up.  After binding his cuts and scrapes, he walked
to the place where they'd left the horses and took them all, save
Ace's pony.  This animal was freed, but left here, in case Ace did
reappear.  Should a giant show up instead, Rillen figured that the
horse would have the sense to flee.
  So it was that the monk's first real adventure ended in disaster.
He returned to the city, found the mayor's agent Vospus, and told
him what had happened.  Vospus paid Rillen his fifty crowns of
gold (it took some convincing) and tried to hire the monk to lead
another party into the Jotens, but Rillen would have none of it.
He'd seen enough of this kingdom, and as he spurred his horse away
from the city, he consulted the crude map he'd just purchased that
morning.  Maybe, he thought to himself, a visit to Keoland was in
order...or perhaps he'd strike out for the southern land known as
the Yeomanry.  Who could know?  Only one thing was for sure:  the
world was a vast place, and somewhere in its confines, adventure
waited.





next:      Rob and the invisible green dragon in the Underdark
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
           ftp.tas.gov.au/misc/stories
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           http://www.shobaki.org/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     This tale occurs prior to episode #049 (10/15/570 C.Y.)

  Here is some updated timeline information for Rillen, covering
both previously-known and now-revealed events in his life:

     /549 = Rillen born in ?
     /551 = infant Rillen found in mountain pass by Brother Darius
            and taken to monastery
     /558 = 9 years old, already as tall as adult monks
     /564 = quarterstaff training as teenager, learns of Fire style
     /568 = 19 years old, leaves monastery
 1/  /569 = first encounter in a major city; first real adventure
10/15/570 = Rillen meets party in Loftwick (capital of Yeomanry)
10/19/570 = they leave for their first adventure together
*********************************************************************





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