Lost Chapter #13

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                                  *
                                *   *
                              *       *
                            *           *
                          *               *
                        *                   *
                      *    THE ADVENTURERS    *
                    *                           *
                      *     Lost Tales...     *
                        *                   *
                          *               *
                            *           *
                              *       *
                                *   *
                                  *

*********************************************************************
*    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 1991-8 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   *
*********************************************************************
*  Bosco        young halfling lad                              (N) *
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*  Date:        4/1/565 C.Y. (Common Year)                          *
*  Time:        midday                                              *
*  Place:       Havenhill, in the Ulek lands                        *
*  Climate:     pleasant                                            *
*********************************************************************
*  "No time for sanity, chum..."                                    *
*                                                     - the Tick    *
*********************************************************************





                      XIII.  Circus of Fools





  The halfling child dashed through the marketplace, darting to
and fro as he avoided merchants' carts and walking shoppers.  In
his hands he clutched a large melon - the very reason why he was
running in the first place.  Somewhere behind him, a large, angry
man bellowed curses.  Bosco didn't care, though - he remained
focused on the objective at hand.

Bosco:  (runs under an arched bridge, turns right, half-slides down
  an embankment, then turns right, following a wall that parallels
  a babbling brook)

  The child didn't stop until he made sure he was out of sight and
lacking pursuers.  Of course, the fruit merchant couldn't really
give chase, since any attempt to do so would result in other young
thieves snatching his wares.  Heck, as it was the man had probably
lost the better half of his crop just for chasing Bosco the short
distance he had.  Naturally, that was why Bosco (and other thieves)
chose the merchants who had no helpers to tend their wagons.
  When he was tucked away safely under an old ruined bridge, Bosco
waited - but not for long.  Shortly, the others appeared, one by one.

Tuco:  (arrives, grinning)  Told you it would work.
Bosco:  I knew it would.
Spocko:  (wanders after Tuco)  'Course, only you were fast enough to
  pull it off, Bosco.
Rosco:  (appears, sliding down the grass to join the other siblings)
  No way!  I could have done it!
Bosco:  But not like I did!
Rosco:  Bah.  As it was, I emptied some pockets.  (he holds out his
  hands, revealing a few coppers amidst which shines a single coin of
  silver)
Spocko:  (raises an eyebrow)  Whoa!
Paco:  (arrives on the scene)  Not bad, brother.
Rosco:  Better than a stupid honeymelon.
Paco:  Well, I wouldn't say that.  (he eyes the melon in Bosco's
  tiny hands, licking his lips)  Let's eat!
Tiko:  (wanders forth from somewhere to join the others)  Hi, guys.
Bosco:  There you are!  Where were you?
Tiko:  In the marketplace...
Tuco:  You were supposed to trip the merchant.
Bosco:  Yeah!  He almost got me!
Tiko:  (timidly)  Sorry.
Riko:  (finally shows up)  Y'know, we should start inviting girls to
  these melon-eating parties.

  The seven brothers dug in, quickly devouring the sweet melon in a
mess of juice and rinds.  When the feast was over, they washed their
sticky hands and faces in the river - after all, no sense roaming
about red-handed!  The kids didn't think they'd get caught, though;
they pulled this stunt every once in a while.  It was always fairly
easy for them, as long as they planned it ahead of time.  It didn't
hurt that most people mistook them for small human street urchins,
at least from a casual glance.
  The seven brothers split up, which was standard operating procedure
since they didn't want anyone to put all the pieces together and
figure out that they were all in the same little gang.  Bosco ended
up wandering around with Tuco and Spocko, and that was when the
trouble started...

Bosco:  What's that ahead there?
Tuco:  A circus?
Spocko:  Here?  It can't be?
Bosco:  Not if we're not in it.
Tuco:  Come on!  Let's see what they've got!
Bosco:  Yeah!  (he darts after his brother)
Spocko:  (follows, shaking his head)

  Soon, the three small ones were lost (figuratively if not literally)
amidst a drifting sea of carnival workers, spectators, wagons, tents,
and animals.  Noise and activity were everywhere.  To one side, a mime
pranced about, amusing a group of children who had formed a half-
circle around him.  To another side, a wiry man with patterns shaven
into his hair juggled flaming torches.

Bosco:  Hey, I could do that.
Tuco:  Could not!
Bosco:  Sure I could.  (he tries to leap onto the short stage that
  the juggler stands on)
juggler:  Aie!  Away, thou imp!
Bosco:  (stands there, slightly offended)  Hmph!
Spocko:  Look at that, over there.  (he points)
Tuco:  An...an...what _is_ that?!?

  In a large, roped-off area stood a huge and strange beast of some
sort.  It had four cylindrical legs, atop which rested a massive
body with leathery grey skin.  The thing's back was broad enough to
seat several riders.  Its head sported big, flopping ears and twin
tusks, between which was a long, winding snout.

Bosco:  Whoa!
Tuco:  The fellow who rode atop that thing could conquer armies...
Spocko:  Don't get any ideas.
Bosco:  I wanna ride it!  (he slips under the ropes)
trainer:  (feeding his animal, he fails to spot the nimble little
  halfling)
Tuco:  Wha-  look at him go!
Spocko:  We're sure to get in big trouble for this.
Tuco:  For what?  He hasn't done anything yet-
Bosco:  (grabs a rope and climbs up the animal's side)  Hold still,
  you.
animal:  (grunts as if it has an itch it can't scratch)
Bosco:  (stands atop the thing's back, his hands in the air)  Let's
  go!  Onward, great beast!
animal:  (takes a long drink of water, then turns its snout around
  and sprays its own back)  <ha-rumph>
Bosco:  (dislodged, he slides down and off)  Wheeeeeee!  (he runs
  off into the crowd as the animal's trainer curses and the crowd
  laughs)

  Bosco didn't realize that he'd lost his two brothers until he was
standing within the food tents.  By that time, there was nothing
he could do, except satisfy his suddenly-grumbling stomach.

Bosco:  (plunks down a copper piece)  I'll have one of those sausage
  links, please!
sausage vendor:  Mild, medium, hot, or lava?
Bosco:  (grins from ear to ear)  Lava!
sausage vendor:  Comin' right up.

  As Bosco wandered through the refreshment area, gnawing on the
spicy sausage, he began to think of other things he could do to
occupy himself.  He'd seen circuses and carnivals before - he even
knew something of how they operated, thanks to his father - but
this one was from far away, and was also pretty big.  The halfling
figured he could easily waste the rest of the day here, and so he
proceeded to do so.
  At the bell-ringing contest (which consisted of hefting and then
swinging a sledgehammer as hard as you could) Bosco didn't fare
too well.  Even at the children's bell-ringer, he could barely lift
the hammer.
  He fared better at the knife-throwing boards, though, easily
outperforming all the other children and some of the adults.  He
found himself wishing that there would be a pocket-picking contest
somewhere, but he was still too young to realize that it just
wasn't destined to be.
  Bosco also had a good time watching the fire-eaters.  He didn't
quite understand how they did what they did (the common theory was
"magic") but seeing people eat and breathe flame was fascinating
to him.  He tried to talk with the performers after the show, but
they all ran off to the brewery to get a drink, so he was left
with only ideas about starting up his own fire-eating act.

  The real trouble started when Bosco wandered into the wrong tent.
He had spotted the loose flap, and overwhelmed by curiosity, he'd
snuck right into the tent.  Within, he found stacks of crates; due
to his small size, he was able to hide behind them while watching
the men in the tent talk.

man:  -smuggle these silks into the city.
other man:  No taxes, no tariffs.  We're pleased.
first man:  We'll make a fortune here on the black market.

  Bosco decided that whatever the men were talking about, it was
boring.  He turned his attention to the nearest crate, and soon had
it open.  Within were some nice-looking rolls of cloth that shone
as the thin ray of light shone into their container.

Bosco:  Whoa.  (he grabs a bolt of silk)

  The halfling, however, wasn't yet the rogue he'd someday be.  His
elbow hit the crate's lid and knocked it to the floor, where it hit
with a faint yet distinct thump.

men:  (instantly glance over in Bosco's direction)  Huh?
man #1:  What the hell was that?!?  (he walks over to the crates)
man #2:  Who knows?  Maybe a rat?  This city's full of rats.
Bosco:  (darts away, exiting via the same loose tent-flap he entered
  by)  Seeya, guys!
man #1:  Kinda big for a rat.
man #2:  C'mon, let's get him!

  They chased Bosco out of the tent, feet pounding and curses flying.
The halfling zigged and zagged, nimbly avoiding people and objects
that his bigger pursuers crashed into or had to leap over.  As Bosco
ran, the bolt of fine silk he was holding under one arm unspooled,
for one end had caught on a tent-peg behind him.  He swerved to left
and right as he fled, leaving a ribbon of silk wound around anything
he'd run past.

man #1:  (trips over the silk, falling into a puddle and soiling his
  clothes)  Dammit!
man #2:  (vaults the obstacle, closing in on the halfling)  Get back
  here, you little varmint!

  Bosco dropped the silk and darted into a large wagon that someone
had left open; his pursuers didn't quite see this, and shortly, they
stopped amidst the wagons, looking around.

man #1:  Where'd he go?
man #2:  Don't know...couldn't have gone far, though.
man #1:  (spots the red wig of a rather small clown, as it moves away
  into the crowd)  There!  That's him!
Bosco:  (be-wigged, he turns around)  Whoa!  (he begins running once
  more)

  The halfling hadn't had time to fully disguise himself; he merely
had a clown's suit and wig.  Still, when he unwittingly ran into the
tent of the wild animal show, the crowd thought he was the real thing.

Bosco:  (finds himself standing amidst lions, tigers, and bears)  Oh,
  my.
lion-tamer:  Hey!  Get out of the way here!  We're in the middle of
  a show!
lion:  Rrrrrr...
man #1:  (runs into the tent)  There's the little sh-
Bosco:  Yikes!  (he runs toward the lion, thinks better of it, and
  instead heads for another animal - the big, grey thing that he
  pestered earlier today)
elephant:  (trumpets angrily as the halfling climbs up its tail and
  onto its back)
man #1:  (gives the lion a wide berth as he runs toward the halfling)
  Get back here, you nosy kid!
man #2:  Quit yapping and _catch him_!
Bosco:  (leaps from the elephant's back onto a ladder, scampering up
  to a platform high above)
crowd:  Ooh!
lion-tamer:  Hey, this isn't part of the show.
man #1:  (following Bosco up the ladder)
man #2:  (stands below, looking up)  Where's he going?  He can't get
  away up there.

  Above, Bosco found a trapeze, a wide metal bar suspended from two
ropes.  He was pondering his next move when the first of his pursuers
reached the platform.

man #1:  There you are!
Bosco:  (holding the trapeze bar, he steps back...and off)  Oops...
  yaaaaaaaAAAAAAA...!

  The halfling swung down in a great arc, missing the elephant by a
couple of feet, and flew back up to the opposite side of the huge
tent, landing on another platform.

crowd:  Aah!
Bosco:  Hah!
man #1:  Argh!  (he stands on the first platform, cursing)
man #2:  (begins climbing up to the second platform)  We'll get you
  yet!
Bosco:  Uh-oh.  (he spots a tightrope)  Whoa...
man #2:  (steps onto the platform)  Okay, kid.  End of the line.
someone:  (begins beating drums rapidly)
crowd:  (holds its breath)
Bosco:  Not so fast.  (he runs out onto the tightrope)
man #2:  Holy cow!
Bosco:  (scampers across the tightrope)
man #2:  (pulls out a knife and begins sawing at the near end of the
  rope)  Heh, heh.
Bosco:  Yipe!  (he scampers a little faster)
man #2:  (cuts the rope, which breaks with a "sproing" sound)
Bosco:  (grabs the rope as it falls out from under him, using it to
  swing down...down...and into the side of the tent)
man #2:  (watches as Bosco slides down the brightly-colored fabric)
  I don't believe this...!
crowd:  (goes wild)
Bosco:  (lands on the ground, looks up at the two men on the platforms,
  looks at the crowd...then bows)
crowd:  (breaks into applause)
Bosco:  (now possessing an insurmountable lead on his pursuers, he
  prances merrily out of the animal tent)  Hidey-ho!

  Bosco ran out into the crowd, leaving the tent and the pursuers far
behind.  He didn't get too far, though, before a member of the city
guard grabbed him by the collar.

Bosco:  Hey!  What gives?!?
guard:  This is the one?
civilian:  (nods)

  They took Bosco back to the tent full of crates of illegal silk,
where a big man with a mustache bombarded him with questions.  He
answered as best he could, and shortly, the two men were found and
arrested.

man #1:  Busted...
big, mustached city official:  Smuggling untaxed silks, eh?
man #2:  And we would've gotten away with it, if it wasn't for that
  darn kid!
Bosco:  (grins)
clown:  (taps Bosco on the shoulder)  Excuse me?
Bosco:  Huh?  (he turns around, and looks up)
clown:  I represent the clowns of this circus, and some of us saw
  your little stunt before.
Bosco:  Hope you enjoyed it.
clown:  Say, you're not interested in a job, are you?

  That night, after Bosco regrouped with his brothers and returned
home...

Frederick:  Just in time for dinner, boys!  Did you do anything
  interesting today?
Bosco:  Nah...just another boring day in the city.





next:      how Peyote got to be the Big Cheese
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 well before any previously documented
  Bosco incidents, except perhaps for those mentioned in episode
  268.  Bosco was born in 553 C.Y. and he is 12 when this lost
  tale takes place.  He is now 23.
    Thanks to Matt Hurd for providing additional ideas for this
  story.
*********************************************************************





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