Chapter #444

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                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic III     +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    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 1991-6 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                    +
+                           +
+  Peldor       20th level human thief                          (N) +
+    Tanya       5th/11th level female human fighter/thief      (N) +
+                                                                   +
+  Deborah, captain of the Despotrix' guardswomen              (CG) +
+  Christina, a guardswoman                                    (NG) +
+  Ellie, a guardswoman                                        (LG) +
+  Monique, a guardswoman                                       (N) +
+  Sarah, a guardswoman                                        (CN) +
+  Virginia, a guardswoman                                     (LN) +
+  Date:        5/5/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        morning                                             +
+  Place:       the fork of the Selintan and Neen Rivers            +
+  Climate:     mild                                                +
+  "Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men -- the other      +
+   999 follow women."                                              +
+                                                  - Groucho Marx   +

                     CDXLIV.  Girl Talk

  After their first night on the road, some members of the group
awaken in good spirits, while others do not...

Deborah:  (in a foul mood, she kicks at the cooking fire, sending
  ashes flying about)
Tanya:  (yawns as she approaches, stretching)  What's eating you?
Deborah:  (ignores her)
Tanya:  (to the also-yawning Peldor)  Maybe she didn't sleep well.

  By this time, the couple were beginning to be able to distinguish
between the other five guardswomen who accompanied them.  There was
raven-haired Monique, physically the largest and most imposing of
the warrior-women, who didn't speak much.  She seemed to prefer to
let her battleaxe do all her talking for her.  On the flip side was
Ellie, a short, auburn-tressed woman with the height and frame of an
elf.  She fought with shortbow and shortsword, and was older than any
of the others, including her captain.  Virginia had red tresses like
Tanya, though they were longer, straighter, and not quite the same
shade.  She was friendly and talkative, much to the obvious chagrin
of Deborah, and did battle with a spiked mace.  Christina, she of
the pale complexion and reddish-brown hair, was also relatively nice
to Peldor and Tanya; she wielded a longsword in battle.  Sarah, also
pale, had medium-length hair of a light brown shade.  Garbed in black
leather armor, she used a whip and shortsword in battle.
  Given the general uneventful nature of their journey, and the close
proximity within which they all rode, it was only a matter of time
before Tanya managed to strike up a conversation with some of these

Tanya:  (to Virginia)  What's wrong with your commander?
Virginia:  Besides the fact that she doesn't like you two and she
  doesn't want to be here?  Search me...
Christina:  She'll get over it.  Deborah didn't rise to the rank of
  commander by sheer chance.
Tanya:  She's a skilled warrior, then?
Ellie:  The best.  Better, perhaps, than myself.
Christina:  Cut it with the "older-but-better" stuff, wouldja?
Ellie:  (smiles)  That's "older _and_ better"...
Tanya:  (frowns)  How old could you possibly be?
Ellie:  I'll never tell.  Let's just say I've seen my share of
Virginia:  Heh.
Christina:  More than her share, more than enough for all of us!
Ellie:  (smirks)  Whatever.
Sarah:  (just rides along, eyeing everyone else with a strange stare)
Tanya:  What's her problem?
Christina:  She's a little weird.
Virginia:  Always has been.
Tanya:  (notes Sarah's unusual leather armor-outfit)
Ellie:  I have my ideas, but I don't feel like sharing right now.
Tanya:  How about that one?  (she nods her head in Monique's direction)
Christina:  She's weird too.
Virginia:  Not as weird as Sarah there, though.  Monique lives for
Ellie:  You'll learn more about her during a fight than otherwise.
Tanya:  Hmm.
Christina:  What's the story with your man there?  (she indicates the
  nearby - but out of earshot - Peldor, who is riding along, wrapped
  in his own thoughts)
Tanya:  Him?  (shrugs)  He's Peldor.  I've known him for years now.
Virginia:  (cannily)  Do you mind sharing him?
Tanya:  He's my husband.
Sarah:  (having ridden up unnoticed)  The question still stands.
Tanya:  (frowns)  No, I won't share him.  Sorry, but he's all mine.
Virginia:  Too bad.
Sarah:  (smiles wickedly)  It certainly is.  (she drops back to the
  end of the horse-train)
Ellie:  (regarding Peldor)  He's a handsome one...hopefully a good
  fellow to have around, no?
Tanya:  Oh, he's great.  He can't launder clothes, and he snores a
  lot, but if you need something done, he's the one to do it.
Monique:  He's a warrior, then?
Tanya:  Well...not really...
Monique:  Then what use is he?  (she eyes Peldor, who isn't exactly
  an imposing individual, and decides that he's not one for the
Virginia:  A rogue?
Tanya:  He's been known to be roguish.
Christina:  A gambler?
Tanya:  He's been seen in the occasional house of fortune.
Ellie:  A schemer?
Tanya:  Oh, if you only knew...
Virginia:  He seems a decent fellow.
Christina:  Yeah, but why won't he come over here and talk with us?
Tanya:  Because he thinks all you women of Hardby have attitudes.
  Remember, we were attacked and arrested back in the city.
Virginia:  That's too bad...a misunderstanding, no doubt.
Christina:  Happens a lot in Hardby.
Ellie:  Not to mention, you were keeping some pretty bad company
  when you came to our city.
Tanya:  So I've heard.
Virginia:  You should consider yourselves lucky that you were spared
  and given this...opportunity.
Ellie:  (nods)  Few are those who escape the Despotrix' wrath.
Christina:  Though I wouldn't say you've escaped.
Tanya:  No...and this isn't right, what she's doing.
Deborah:  (finally rides over, to break up this conversation)  Like
  it or not, it's the only deal you'll get.  (to Ellie)  What are
  you three doing?  You're here to guard these two, not talk with
  them like they were old family members.
Christina:  (raises a finger)  Actually, we were only talking with
  _one_ of them.
Deborah:  Quiet.
Ellie:  With all due respect, Captain, the road is a long one, and to
  do our jobs adequately, we need to know something about our charges,
Deborah:  (fuming)
Monique:  (frowns at this display of potential insubordination)
Sarah:  (smiles at same)
Ellie:  Just a suggestion.
Deborah:  Yes...and as appropriate, I'll take it under consideration.
  In the meantime, I suggest that you people do your job and start
  keeping a watch.  I'd hate to get attacked by surprise out here in
  the middle of nowhere.
Tanya:  (smirks)  We're not in the middle of nowhere, we're right near
  Greyhawk's suburbs.
Christina:  (holds back a laugh)
Deborah:  Whatever.  (she rides ahead, desiring solitude for awhile)

  Meanwhile, Peldor was in his own little world.  To be honest, the
thief was busy dreaming of all the treasures the Sultan's palace held.
Treasures...and ways to steal them.  Since getting out of this whole
deal wasn't an option, he had decided to find all possible advantages
and exploit them, to the fullest.  His mind invented, modified, and
reviewed plans and ideas, even as Tanya attempted to learn more about
their escorts.

  The day passed relatively uneventfully, at least until midafternoon,
when they skirted the northern edge of the Suss Forest.  It was then
that the three manticores swooped from the high grass nearby, growling
in their weird, guttural language as they sprung to the attack.

Deborah:  (curses as a fired tail-spike nails her horse in the eye)
  Dammit!  To arms, everyone!

next:      battle, travel, and whatnot
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     To concentrate on Deborah, or flesh out the other five;
  that was the question.

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