Chapter #1087

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                           +                   +
                         +                       +
                       +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                         +                       +
                           +       Epic V      +
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                               +           +
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+     Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other     +
+   terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast  +
+   which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use.  Any such       +
+   property contained within these stories are not representative of     +
+   Wizards of the Coast in any fashion.                                  +
+     The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright       +
+   1991-2021 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!                                          +
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+   Mongo          19th level dwarven fighter                             +
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+   Date:          7/3/581 C.Y. (Common Year)                             +
+   Time:          afternoon                                              +
+   Place:         the wilds of the northeastern Yatil Mountains          +
+   Climate:       cold                                                   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+   "Do you require backup?"                                              +
+   "No."                                                                 +
+                  - from _Dredd_                                         +
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                   MLXXXVII.  A Walk In the Mountains





  Mongo was making excellent time, and he was in a rather good mood.  He
had vowed to himself to depart as soon as everything got settled with the
group led by Belphanior, and today had been that day.  The dwarf had no
burning need to return to civilization, but he was tired of being cooped
up in one place, and had also grown tired of participating in Belphanior's
various adventures.  It wasn't that he minded the danger - he didn't, not
at all - but he was his own person, and didn't like the idea of being used
to further someone else's aims and goals.  He knew that others tended to
think of him as an unstoppable one-dwarf force to be used in battle; while
that was more or less true, it didn't mean he lacked his own motivations
and wants.

Mongo:  (whistles softly as he marches along the trail between mountain
  peaks)

  The weeks he'd spent trapped in the slain dragon's vault had only made
him more determined to leave as soon as he was able.  It didn't help that
Belphanior had pushed hard for his new method of dividing - or, to be more
accurate, NOT dividing - the magical treasures from the purple wyrm's vast
hoard.  While he saw and understood the elf's thinking, it went against
the typical dwarf's tendency to find, win, and keep as much treasure as
possible...a tendency that, in Mongo's case, was greatly augmented by the
unique and powerful dwarven warhammer he carried.  In the end, while he'd
gone along with his friend's plan, he fully intended to claim any item he
found a use for in the future...as the elf has promised he could.
  For now, he simply wanted to move on.  He didn't care where, as he had
no obligations or debts, which was just the way he liked it.  He marched
in a generally southward direction, letting the mountains' natural passes
and other paths take him where they would.  Within his portable hole, he
carried enough food, drink, and other supplies for a month of wandering;
he was certain that he'd find somewhere to resupply before them.  Failing
that, he could always take down a goat or other game, using his hammer,
although that was overkill.  Worse, the splintered bones tended to be
difficult to pick out of the meat, which was a bother.
  Naturally, he wasn't the only one roaming the mountains, and didn't make
it through the day without being challenged.  The slain dragon had chosen
its lair well, intentionally situating its vault deep within the mountains
and far from the lands of men...but in an area teeming with all sorts of
giants and monsters.  Many hours after departing the vault, and past the
midday mark, Mongo unknowingly walked through the territory of a rare and
terrible monster.

chimera:  (several hundred feet above, and far to one side, it regards the
  lone traveler below)

  This three-headed beast had lorded it over this particular part of the
area for many years now, attacking and devouring small animals, weaker
monsters, and even a few unwary adventurers during that time.  Possessed
of three heads - those of a goat, a lion, and a dragon - its strength and
ferocity were both great.

chimera:  (swoops down from above, its forelegs and multiple heads poised
  to deliver a variety of attacks simultaneously)

  The monster was quite a bit larger than the dwarf below, and in similar
battles in the past, it had been able to knock its victim over while its
different attacks inflicted horrific wounds.  Its animal brains recognized
the hard outer shell that protected the target, but they also knew from
long experience that this could be peeled apart once the prey had been
incapacitated and killed.
  However, things didn't quite work out the way the chimera intended.  As
the huge monster slammed into the dwarf, its claws, horns, and fangs tore
at the other...but found no purchase on his gleaming metal armor.  More
importantly, the smaller foe didn't fall.  In fact, he only staggered a
bit, while the chimera all but bounced off, landing on the rocky ground
nearby.

chimera:  (rights itself, shaking its heads to clear them)
Mongo:  (hefts his warhammer)  I don't know why you had to go and spoil
  my nice pleasant walk in the mountains...but now you're gonna pay.

  The monster replied by way of its dragon head, which loosed a great
stream of searing flames upon the dwarf.  In all its time terrorizing
this region, the chimera had never met a foe that didn't weaken or die
from this breath weapon; as the gout of flame weakened and then ceased,
the beast lumbered forward, expecting to feast on freshly-cooked flesh
as it had many times before.  Instead, it found the prey still standing,
smoke coming from its armor, which still gleamed despite the flame that
had just covered it.

Mongo:  (having survived with nothing more than a singed beard and some
  slight discomfort, thanks to the mighty fire-oriented ring he wears)
  Okay, now I'm pissed!  (he draws his arm back to throw his warhammer)
chimera:  (charges, its three heads emitting a bleat, a growl, and a loud
  roar)

  A moment later, the monster hurtled back the way it had come, thanks to
the momentum of the weapon which had been hurled with strength greater
than that of any giant.  The initial impact had shattered numerous ribs
and collapsed a lung, but then the force of the blow drove the chimera a
good forty feet backward until it smashed into a rock face.  As the hammer
flew away, returning to the dwarf's hand, the three-headed monster got to
its feet once more, turning toward this surprisingly dangerous foe.
  Mongo might have let the thing flee, but it had that look...a look that
meant it was too evil or too stupid (or both) to simply retreat.  As the
chimera lunged forth again, albeit more painfully this time, the dwarf
threw his hammer once more, and this time the weapon punched a gaping hole
through the monster's body with a spray of blood and guts.

chimera:  (rolls over and falls, dead)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer again, as it returns, and begins to wonder
  where the nearest mountain stream might be, as he likes to keep his
  weapons clean)

  Some would have spent time looking for the chimera's lair, which was
almost certainly a cave somewhere in this area...but Mongo couldn't fly,
and there were likely several hundred possibilities, all of which would
require some climbing.  It just wasn't worth the time and effort, as the
contents of his portable hole included more treasure than any wild beast
such as this might have accumulated.  For once, the dwarf regretted the
fact that he had no wizards along for the trip, as such companions could
have located any plunder in the vicinity.

Mongo:  (shakes his head sadly, then wipes his hammer on a nearby bush,
  to get rid of most of the gore covering it)

  After this was done, he opened up his portable hole and rummaged about
until he found a small keg of beer, from which he poured himself a drink.
After all, there was nothing quite like a good beer after the thirsty work
of battle was done.

Mongo:  (drains the mug in two great gulps, then belches)

  A short time later, the chimera's carcass had been left behind for the
mountain vultures to find and feast on, while the dwarf was once more
walking along the mountain trail as if nothing had happened.



  Meanwhile, about three days' march to the south, completely unbeknownst
to the solitary dwarf, there waited a huge mountainside fort inhabited by
a tribe of hill giants.  Led by a powerful chieftain of considerable size,
strength, and intelligence, this community's population numbered almost
forty total.  Most of them were adults, and since they had a blacksmith
and his forge, many of them had finer armor and weapons than typical hill
giants.  This unruly lot ruled their mountain and the surrounding area,
preying mercilessly on any people and creatures that they could overwhelm
and overpower, which was pretty much everyone.

  Only the gods knew it at this juncture, but these two parties were soon
to come into conflict - a conflict that only one side could survive.





next:       Mongo finds cause to get upset
www:        http://www.peldor.com/download.html
homepage:   http://www.peldor.com/
email:      tmiller@peldor.com
released:   8/13/2021
notes:      I was originally going to return to Belphanior et al after
  the lost island group wrapped up, but then I decided to spend a little
  time with everyone's favorite dwarf.  I don't know how long this will
  take, but I can promise you two things:  first, this mini-arc will be
  a lot of fun, and second, Belphanior will be back in time for episode
  1100 and some major events.
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