Chapter #534

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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 1991-8 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                    +
+                           +
+  Mongo        18th level dwarven warrior                     (CG) +
+    Gorin      10th level dwarven warrior                     (NG) +
+  Date:        8/9/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late afternoon                                      +
+  Place:       the fortress of Greyspire, in the Riftcanyon        +
+  Climate:     cool                                                +
+  "Man, that was one strange dude.  Who was he?"                   +
+  "One strange dude."                                              +
+                                               - from _Blacula_    +

                  DXXXIV.  A Chance Encounter

  While roaming the upper levels of Greyspire, Mongo has stumbled
into a giant!

Mongo:  (hefts Stormcrest, preparing to throw the hammer and put
  this giant down for the count)
giant:  My word.

  In a rage, Mongo hurled his hammer, and the sound of rumbling
thunder filled the cavern as the missile zoomed toward its target.
However, the hammer didn't get twenty feet before it smashed into
some invisible barrier; the resulting impact shook the cavern.

Mongo:  (catches Stormcrest as it returns)  What?!?
giant:  Good thing I always take precautions to protect my home from
  roaming murderers.  (he walks over to a massive wooden chair, its
  frame built from whole logs, and takes a seat)  Might I ask who you
  are, brash young dwarf?
Mongo:  (settles down a bit, realizing that Stormcrest drove him to
  attack first and ask questions later)  Uh...

  In truth, it was hard for the dwarf to concentrate; Stormcrest
was pulsing with energy, eager to fly forth and slay the giant, as
was its purpose.  However, Mongo held the hammer tightly, not just
because he was contemplating his possible mistake but because he
realized that the invisible wall blocked both attack and entry into
the cavern.

Mongo:  ...I'm Mongo Thunderhead.
giant:  And that must be your enchanted giant-slaying hammer.
Mongo:  Er...yeah.
giant:  I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave.
Mongo:  But-
giant:  (waves a hand, and the dwarf is forcibly pushed back through
  the stone doorway, out of the cavern)
Mongo:  Hey!

  The huge stone door swung shut, slamming with floor-shaking force.
Mongo tried to open it again, but it wouldn't budge this time, even
with his enhanced strength.

Mongo:  Dammit!

  After a brief period of pounding at the portal in frustration,
Mongo stormed away, feeling like an errant child who had just been
chastised.  Anger and curiosity combined to convince him to seek out
Lord Marcus and get to the bottom of this.  After nearly an hour of
stomping around asking people where the general was (and incidentally
finding Gorin and filling him in) Mongo finally burst into the open
training grounds.  There, Marcus was sparring with a tall, thin,
grey-haired elf.  The combatants' swordplay was dazzling, too fast
for the eye to follow; Mongo hadn't ever seen anyone - not even
Belphanior - move that fast.

Gorin:  Wow.
Mongo:  (clears his throat)  Uhh...
Lord Marcus:  (notices the dwarf, out of the corner of his eye, and
  calls a pause to the sparring)  What is it?
Mongo:  I don't mean to disturb you-
Lord Marcus:  (to the elf)  Let's take five.
elf:  Right.  (he heads away to find some water)
Gorin:  (stays out of the way, remaining quiet and inconspicuous)
Lord Marcus:  Now.  You were saying?
Mongo:  (looks around, as if he's about to tell a secret that no one
  else needs to hear)  There's a _giant_ up there!
Lord Marcus:  A giant?
Mongo:  A big one!  He's living up on one of the higher floors!
Lord Marcus:  Of course he is.
Mongo:  And he-  what?
Lord Marcus:  You're referring to Gog.
Mongo:  Gog?
Lord Marcus:  Gog was here when we first came to Greyspire, and we
  have worked out something of an arrangement.
Mongo:  Arrangement?
Lord Marcus:  It's simple:  we leave him alone, in peace, up there
  in his aerie.  In return, he helps us out in times of need.
Mongo:  What times are those?
Lord Marcus:  When someone attacks Greyspire.  You wouldn't believe
  how much help an angry storm giant can be.  Between his hurled
  boulders and thunderbolts, he can wipe out foes ten times as fast
  as a company of my soldiers.
Mongo:  An ally, then?  (he shakes his head)
Lord Marcus:  You came to blows with him?
Mongo:  Sort of...well, not really.
Lord Marcus:  How fortunate.  For you, that is.  Did you provoke the
Mongo:  Uh...yeah.
Lord Marcus:  Might I ask _why_?
Mongo:  (pats his hammer)  This is Stormcrest.  It's older than you
  or I, or our grandfathers' grandfathers for that matter.  Its only
  reason for being is to slay giants.
Lord Marcus:  And this is _my_ problem?
Mongo:  I guess not.
Lord Marcus:  I'd suggest that you keep that hammer far, far away
  from Gog.
Mongo:  (nods)  That would be best.  Hmm, maybe I should go back up
  there and apologize.
Lord Marcus:  (shakes his head)  I'll smooth things over, don't worry
  about it.
Mongo:  (sheepishly)  Sorry about that.  If I'd have known-
Lord Marcus:  How could you?  Why would you?
Mongo:  (frowns)  Hmph.  Makes me wonder what _else_ might be living
  up there, that I don't know about.
Lord Marcus:  Well, there are the skyborne forces...
Mongo:  Oh?

  The general gave them a quick run-down of those forces, small in
number but dangerous in battle.  Greyspire's aerial might consisted
of a pack of eleven (relatively) tamed hippogriffs.  The troops who
rode them into battle had been training with the fantastic beasts
since the time of their hatching.  For this reason, each hippogriff
had developed a unique bond with its rider, and the humans didn't
push it.

Gorin:  Wow.  Flying troops on flying horses!
Mongo:  (silently wonders if Gorin has been paying attention)
Lord Marcus:  Yes, hippogriffs actually.  We tried to break some
  griffons, but they kept eating the cavalry's mounts.
Mongo:  So when do you use these guys?  Long-range battle?
Lord Marcus:  Oh, no.  No, the hippogriffs don't make long journeys
  into faraway battles.  We keep them here in their environment, only
  using them if we have to defend the fortress.
Gorin:  That's odd.
Lord Marcus:  Not so odd, if you think about it.  These hippogriffs
  are rare, and hard to train.  Their clutch here, and the resulting
  nest, was a stroke of fate not to be wasted.  We pretty much leave
  them alone most of the time, and they apparently enjoy living here.
  But make no mistake - they're battle-trained, and fierce foes.  (he
  looks around)  Much like that giant you found.
Mongo:  (looks wearily around)  Yeah...
Lord Marcus:  You need something to occupy your mind and hammer-arm,
  and soon.  Fortunately, we have an answer.
Mongo:  (hopefully)  Smashing rocks?
Lord Marcus:  Better.  A small contingent of troops, accompanied by
  Noggin's force, will be marching out tomorrow.  One of our friendly
  neighbors needs some help with mountainous warfare.
Mongo:  The first campaign...
Lord Marcus:  Your first campaign.  Anyhow, I'm getting back to my
  sparring here.  Noggin will give you a full briefing later today.
Mongo:  Okay, thanks for your time.  (he leaves the training area,
  followed by Gorin)

  One of the first things they'd had to get used to at Greyspire was
the schedule; this schedule included a daily briefing by each company
commander.  At today's briefing for the dwarven contingent, Noggin
explained the details of the mission.

Noggin:  A friendly kingdom to the south has a little infestation
  problem in some high hills.  Seems that a tribe of goblins has set
  up shop within a few days' march from the outlying farms of said
  kingdom.  (he pauses)  Since we have experience in small, tunnel-
  bound warfare - especially against such foes as goblins - we're
  headed there tomorrow.  We'll be escorted by a small force of
  regulars, just in case, but once we get where we're going, it's
  our show.  Any questions?

  There were none, and the troops were dismissed with instructions
to be ready at dawn.  In the dwarven barracks, there was a lot of
excitement among the soldiers; not only was this a fresh, new
campaign, but it was the kind of campaign they were all familiar

Gorin:  (muttering)  Awfully eager to rush into a fight they could
  get killed in...
Mongo:  This is their kind of fight - that probably makes 'em sure
  they can win.
Gorin:  They're still too excited, if you ask me.
Mongo:  Maybe they're nervous.  I know I was, when I was a young
  beardling.  People always act cocky when they're afraid, to hide
  the fear.
Gorin:  Well, I'm not afraid.
Mongo:  Me neither.  We've faced much worse than goblins, in our
  adventures.  This mission can't be too bad.

next:      away they go!
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
mail:       (preferred)
notes:     Nah.

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