Chapter #744

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                                   +   +
                                 +       +
                               +           +
                             +               +
                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +      Epic IV      +
                             +               +
                               +           +
                                 +       +
                                   +   +

+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  However,   +
+   TSR has in no way endorsed or authorized their use, and any such      +
+   items contained within these stories are not representative of TSR    +
+   in any fashion.                                                       +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2001 by Thomas A. Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons        +
+   or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.       +
+   Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under     +
+   the sole condition that no money is made in the process.  In that     +
+   case, I hope you enjoy them!                                          +
+                                                                         +
+                                                      Thomas A. Miller   +
+   Rillen          18th level human warrior monk                         +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+   Date:           3/13/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           evening                                               +
+   Place:          the wilderness to the south and east of Tenh          +
+   Climate:        cold                                                  +
+   "You can't enslave a free man.  Only person can do that to a man      +
+    is himself.  The most you can do to a free man is to kill him."      +
+                                                        - R.A. Heinlein  +

                       DCCXLIV.  Enslaved!

  While wandering toward Greyhawk the roundabout way, Rillen and Songa
have been captured by slavers!

Rillen:  (arms bound behind him and that rope in turn tied to the back
  of a wagon, he staggers along behind the caravan)
Songa:  (similarly restrained, she marches beside him)

  All of their weapons and items had been taken, even Rillen's boots
of speed.  The two wizards who were part of this group knew enough to
check for magical items, as they didn't want their new captives to
escape or cause any trouble.  Fortunately for Rillen, his feet were
thick with callus, and he didn't have much problem walking barefoot
over the ground.

ugly guard with bandaged face:  I'll get you before it's all over...
  both of you.

  This man was one of several who'd been wounded in the attack on
Rillen and Songa.  This one in particular had suffered a shattered
nose and cheekbone, the pain only adding to his already unpleasant
demeanor.  A second guard had suffered a broken nose, thanks to a blow
from Rillen; a third had been hit in the arm by one of Songa's arrows.
These had gotten off lucky, though, for two others had been slain by
missiles from Rillen's own longbow.
  As far as the captured adventurers could tell, the slaver band was
local to this area, perhaps working for the Bandit Kingdoms.  They
were headed westward, which supported that last possibility...and if
things didn't change soon, Rillen and Songa would end up in far more
trouble than they were in right now.

wizard #1:  (the pudgy one, he moves his horse over toward them)  You
  two will fetch quite a price.  Fought hard, you did...better than
  any of those wretches in the wagon there.

  The pudgy little man was referring to the last wagon, the one which
both captives were tied to.  This cart carried a dozen skinny, weak-
looking fellow prisoners, obviously captured at some time in the near
past.  Rillen quickly dismissed any idea of rallying these ones for a
fight against the slavers - they were in no shape for it.
  Both adventurers had kept silent, sensing that the less their
captors knew about them, the better.  Belphanior might have made a
steady series of insults and taunts, were he in this same situation,
but Rillen and Songa were quiet and meek.  Both were still watching
and listening, planning and plotting.  They knew that they had to
escape, or die trying - it was only a matter of when, and how.
  Nevertheless, Rillen didn't care for the way that the slaver with
the bandaged, swollen face glared at him...and he especially didn't
care for the way the man eyed Songa.

wizard #1:  (obviously not tiring of hearing himself talk)  A fine
  fight you put up...two dead, three wounded.  Why, you're lucky
  that the boys didn't break anything when they beat you down back
Rillen:  (ignores the robed wizard)
wizard #1:  Fine.  Be that way.  You'll see who gets the last laugh.
  (he rides away)
ugly guard with bandaged face:  Yeah, we sure will...

  Hiding in the short grass a good distance behind the caravan, and
following with great care, was the black dog.  It remained unseen but
stayed on their trail, determined to help its masters but not quite
sure how.  The animal was aware that it would revert to statuette
form within a few more hours, and when that happened, it would be
subject to the wishes and commands of whoever now held the magical
figurine.  Given what it had seen of these slavers, this was not an
outcome it desired - and that meant that drastic measures were called
  Backing off a bit, aided by the inpending nightfall, the dog skirted
around the wagons, which were moving rather slowly.  It got ahead of
the caravan and ran away, scouting and looking for anything that could
play a part in stopping today's chain of events from continuing.

  As dusk fell, the slavers halted their wagons for the night.  Rillen
and Songa were bound to wagon wheels; their captors didn't want them
free to roam about.

wizard #1:  Thought we'd tie you to a post, back-to-back, didn't you?
  Well, no!  Not gonna happen.  No sense in you untying each other's
  ropes, now is there?
Songa:  (stares at the ground)
wizard #1:  And by the same token, don't bother trying to stretch the
  ropes.  They're of high quality, and tied tight.
Rillen:  (ignores the man)
wizard #1:  And don't even _think_ about trying the "but they're too
  tight" line - it won't work either.  (he cackles madly)  Hahahaha!

  The captive adventurers had already learned that if they ignored
this one long enough, he'd eventually go away.  It worked this time,
too, the wizard wandering off in search of food and wine.

Songa:  What an ass.
Rillen:  I'll enjoy choking the life from his fat neck.
Songa:  And here comes another ass.
ugly guard with bandaged face:  (swaggers over)  Time for some payback.
Rillen:  (ignores this slaver as well)
ugly guard with bandaged face:  But not you.  Oh, no.  (he turns to
  Songa)  I'll see you later.  After everyone's asleep.
Rillen:  (grits his teeth, about to make a threat)
ugly guard with bandaged face:  Don't worry, you get to watch.  (he
  walks away)
Rillen:  Dammit-
Songa:  Don't worry.  If he touches me, I'll kill him.  (she frowns)
  Hmm, even if he doesn't touch me, I'm still going to kill him.

  Shortly, they were fed a greasy, pasty gruel by one of the skinny,
wretched slaves, under close supervision from a guard.  They could
smell the cooking meat and cheap wine that the slavers themselves
enjoyed, nearby - likely not a coincidence.  As night arrived, the
camp was cloaked in darkness, for this was an overcast night, devoid
of starlight or moonlight.  In the distance, the howls of strange
creatures could be heard.  Needless to say, sentries were posted.

random guard:  (talking to another one)  Gods only know what's out
other guard:  No worries, mate.  I've traveled these parts before...
  the beasties're out there, but they'll leave us alone if we leave
  them alone.

  Most of the guards and slaves slept, but neither Rillen nor Songa
were able to.  Apparently, there were others who had the same problem.

ugly guard with bandaged face:  (shows up out of the darkness, half-
  drunk and red-faced)  Urp...

  The bandit had been obsessed with the big warrior-woman since first
laying eyes on her.  He'd never had a tall barbarian woman before (or
a barbarian woman, or for that matter even a tall woman) and he was
determined not to miss this chance.

ugly guard with bandaged face:  (leers at Songa)
Songa:  (grimaces, tensing herself for some kind of defensive action)
ugly guard with bandaged face:  Scream and I'll cut out yer tongue.

  Though this would doubtless get the man in trouble with the others,
for damaging a valuable slave, it didn't mean he wouldn't do it
while drunk.  Rillen struggled against his ropes, the wood of the
wagon-wheels creaking with his efforts.

ugly guard with bandaged face:  (approaches Songa)  Now, now-
Songa:  (brings her foot up, swiftly, nailing the man in the crotch)
ugly guard with bandaged face:  Ghak.  (he crumples)
Songa:  (snares his head in a scissor-lock, twisting sharply)
ugly guard with bandaged face:  <crack>
Songa:  Told you.
Rillen:  (almost whispering)  Good work...but what now?
Songa:  He's got a knife on his belt, but I don't know how I can get
  at it, with my hands tied back behind me.  I can drag him over here
  but it won't do any good.

  Just then, a strange bellowing sound came from the darkness, a fair
distance away, by the sound of it.

Songa:  Hmm.
Rillen:  What?
Songa:  I've never heard anything like that before.
Rillen:  I know I damn well haven't-

  The bellowing was repeated - and it was a good deal closer this time.

next:      midnight maniac
released:  5/31/01
notes:     Last night, as with many recent nights, I found myself taking
  the time to check ESPN Baseball Tonight, for a single specific reason:
  to see what kind of home run action Barry Bonds produced.  Say what
  you want about him, but right now, Bonds is one of the things that
  makes baseball fun to watch.  And now he has 522 career home runs,
  putting him in sole possession of 11th place on the all-time list,
  passing Willie McCovey, who was in the stands to see it.  Now that is
  far more interesting to me than the record of the Braves or Yankees.

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