Chapter #560

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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                    +
+                           +
+  Rillen       18th level human monk                           (N) +
+  Songa        13th level human huntress                       (N) +
+  Date:        4/8/577 C.Y. (Common Year)                          +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       somewhere in the barbarian lands to the northeast   +
+  Climate:     cold                                                +
+  "Thanks for not killing me, man.  I owe you one."                +
+                                       - from _Escape From L.A._   +

                        DLX.  Neighbors

  After defeating some brigands who threatened their welfare, Rillen
and Songa have just learned the nature of the thieves' stolen loot...
and its rightful owner.

silver dragon:  (towers over them)  I TAKE IT YOU ARE ENJOYING MY
Songa:  Uh...
Rillen:  (shaking his head)  We're not even going to get into this.
silver dragon:  (looking about, it sees the bodies piled nearby,
  then looks back at the treasure, then at Rillen and Songa again)
Rillen:  It won't be hard.  You see, this is our home - she and I -
  and we were just minding our own business when these dolts burst
  onto the scene.
  LAIR WHILE I WAS AWAY, AND THEN-  HOLD.  (it begins shimmering,
  shifting, and finally shrinking; in moments, it has adopted the
  form of a young, aristocratic, silver-haired elven maid)  Ah, much
  better.  Even I tire of shouting after a time.
Songa:  (somewhat astounded by all of this)
silver dragon:  Now, as I was asking...these are the people who
  robbed my hoard and fled?
Rillen:  Well, I wasn't there, but I'm guessing that's what happened.
silver dragon:  Don't be coy.
Rillen:  I tell the truth.  These thieves are - were - no business
  of mine or hers, but when they came here and threatened us, they
  had to die.
silver dragon:  Actually, they had to die from the moment they chose
  to invade my home and plunder my hoard.
Songa:  (nods)  Believe me, I understand.
Rillen:  It's a moot point now, I guess.  But surely a dragon of your
  stature can verify the truth of my words?
silver dragon:  (she turns and glances at the pile of
  bodies)  Ah.  (she walks over, eyes the bodies, then grabs an arm
  and pulls that body from the pile)
man #2:  (groans weakly through his smashed face)  Urrrr.
Rillen:  How odd - one's still alive.
Songa:  Damn, I thought he was dead.  I must be slipping.
silver dragon:  (places a hand on the thief's forehead, as her brow
  furrows in concentration)
Rillen:  (wisely remains silent)
silver dragon:  (after a short time, she lets go, and the man drops
  to the ground as if a rope holding him up had been suddenly cut)
  His mind was opened to me, and I know everything.  Consider your
  innocence in this matter verified.
Rillen:  Well, thanks.
Songa:  (walks over to the half-conscious thief and kicks him in the
  neck, hard, once)
man #2:  <snap>
silver dragon:  (regards the huntress strangely)  Why?
Songa:  Threatening me was his first mistake...threatening my unborn
  child was his last.
silver dragon:  I...see.
Songa:  If they had stolen, say, your eggs, then you would have a
  better idea of how I feel right now.
silver dragon:  No need to expound - I understand.  It's harsh, but
  I understand.
Rillen:  I suppose you'll be wanting these bandits' treasure too...
silver dragon:  Not necessarily.  I think you've earned them.
Songa:  (spits on the corpse at her feet)  Not that we want them.
Rillen:  Or need them.  (he turns back to the silver-haired elven
  form of the dragoness)  Say, do you have a name?  I don't like
  talking with strangers.
silver dragoness:  I am Araxi Argenti.  This is my mountain you
  have taken up residence on-
Rillen:  (looking around, he grows agitated and interrupts)  _Your_
Araxi:  Size does matter.  (she sighs)  But it is not my intention
  to drive you away from it.  The mountain is big enough for more
  than one - provided they are civil and undisruptive.  (she eyes
  the slain brigands)
Songa:  (nods)  We came here to get away from civilization...the
  stink and squalor of cities.
Araxi:  And so you have.
Rillen:  I don't know how those fools found us, but it bothers me.
Araxi:  It bothers me as well.  I suspect that they stumbled onto
  your cabin, but before that, they found my lair.  Had I been
  there, they would never have made off with the treasure.  (she
  eyes them suddenly)  My treasure means a lot to me, you know.
Rillen:  We have no interest in your treasure - we have more than
  enough to get by, if we ever decide to return to civilization.
  (he shakes his head)  No, your hoard's existence is safe with us.
Araxi:  (eyes them)  You tell the truth, and that is good.  If I
  was to learn that my treasure was in peril, I would be sorely
Songa:  Okay, okay.  So we've gotten the matter of the treasure
  out of the way.  Now how about this living-on-the-same-mountain

  Rillen looked around, at the timberland that surrounded them
all.  The relatively flat area they'd made their cabin in was
situated on the lower environs of a mountain at the edge of the
Corusk range.  Once outside the clearing, the high, thick trees
made it impossible to see either the mountain or the frozen
plains it overlooked.  At times they forgot that they were _on_
a mountain.
  He and Songa had to make a decision, and be diplomatic about
it, and quickly.

Araxi:  This mountain, this forest - and all such places - are
  not anyone's to give or take or own.  I suggest a...peaceful,
  mutually beneficial neutrality?  We can each look out for the
  welfare of the other, while not advertising the other's
Rillen:  Funny, that's just what I was thinking.
Araxi:  I shall leave you alone, unless I learn something that
  you should know.  You shall leave me alone, similarly, unless
  you discover something that could impact my existence.
Songa:  I can live with that.
Rillen:  (nods)  If there's anything we can possibly do to help
  you, let us know.  (he ponders a moment)  And if we need a
  mountainside levelled or something, we'll let you know.
Araxi:  (smirks)
Songa:  Uh...(she frowns)  How exactly do we find you?
Araxi:  A fair enough question.  (she points toward the peak
  that they can't see through the tree branches that form the
  forest's ceiling)  I make my home up there, and the way is
  neither obvious nor easy.  It is best not to seek me out; if
  I need to speak with you, I will do so.  (she frowns)  Now,
  if you'll excuse me, I have some belongings to reclaim.

  The silver-haired elf began working a spell, and shortly, her
stolen treasure had been neatly reduced in size and placed in a
belt pouch.  Changing shape again, Araxi Argenti took her leave
of the humans...for now.

Araxi:  (flaps her massive wings, rising into the air as she nods
  slightly at the two adventurers)

  With a mighty beat of those wings, the dragon launched itself
toward the mountain proper, and was out of sight in moments.

Songa:  Hmm.  Well, how do you like _that_?

next:      various discussions on Araxi, horses, fighting
           tournaments, the barbarian village, and Arnold
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
email:       (preferred)
notes:     Thanks to Matt Hurd for the dragon-neighbor idea.  Thanks
  to Heather Wiencko for the dragon's name.  Thanks to Mark McGwire
  for hitting his 56th and 57th last night, and to Sammy Sosa (who
  I long ago identified as a slugger) for having 55 and promising to
  hit more as well.
    Congratulations to Dennis Martinez, who (over the course of this
  story's writing) became the winningest Latin-American pitcher in
  baseball history.  As a Braves fan, I've had to watch the last few
  painful attempts at this record, as the bullpen lost it for Dennis
  time and again.  Not anymore.
    Congratulations should also go to Barry Bonds, who recently hit
  his 400th career homer and became the first player EVER to hit
  400 homers and steal 400 bases.  Yeah!

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