Chapter #306

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                                +   +
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                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic II      +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +

+    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 1995 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                    +
+                          +
+  THE PARTY (or a portion of it):                                  +
+                                                                   +
+  Bosco        10th level halfling thief                      (N)  +
+  Rillen       17th level human warrior/monk                  (N)  +
+  Date:        4/28/575 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        midday                                              +
+  Place:       the Free City of Greyhawk                           +
+  Climate:     cool                                                +
+  "It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day         +
+   to day basis."                                                  +
+                                              - Margaret Bonnano   +

                   CCCVI.  Unlikely Partners

  About two weeks after Lyra's great one-hundredth birthday party,
Rillen finds himself wandering the markets of Greyhawk, more than
a little bored.

Rillen:  (looks at a merchant's selection of "the finest hardwood
  staves" and yawns)
weapons merchant:  Excuse my staves not impress you?
Rillen:  That would be one way to put it.
weapons merchant:  (flustered)  Outrageous!  My staves - all my
  weapons, in fact - are of only the finest quality!
Rillen:  (picks up one staff, a thick stick fashioned from some heavy
  wood)  Well-rounded and sanded...but crude.
weapons merchant:  Nonsense!  It is a fine weapon, of fine wood and
  fine workmanship.
Rillen:  Bah.  I could break it with my bare hands.
weapons merchant:  Rubbish, pure rubbish!  (he takes the staff, and
  raps one end against the stone of the street)  This is a-  listen,
  tell you what.  If you think you can  can break, no, even _bend_
  this weapon, I challenge you to do so.
Rillen:  (hesitates)  But then you wouldn't earn any money from it.
weapons merchant:  Ah, I didn't think you could live up to your words,
Rillen:  Enough!  (he snatches the staff from the man)
weapons merchant:  (looks at his open hands, wondering how the other
  moved so fast)
Rillen:  I shall prove my point...for I am not one to make idle talk.
  (he grabs the staff near either end, his hands spaced about four
  feet apart)
weapons merchant:  Do your worst.
Rillen: best.  (he grimaces as he begins to bend the staff)
weapons merchant:  (his eyes widen)  N-'s not possible...
Rillen:  But it is!  (he grunts, corded muscles standing out on his
  arms)  Ngggg...hah!  (the staff snaps with a loud crack that draws
  the glances of several passers-by)
weapons merchant:  Aie!
Rillen:  (hands the fellow his broken staff)  Like I said...crude.
weapons merchant:  (still shocked, he takes the pieces mutely)
Rillen:  (wanders away)

  As the big warrior wandered through the street, he noticed a small
form tugging at his cloak.  While it took a few moments, eventually
he noticed.

Rillen:  Eh?
Bosco:  Hey, good move!
Rillen:  What are you talking about?
Bosco:  (holds up a small pouch)  While you distracted that merchant
  I was able to sneak up and get the day's earnings.
Rillen:  (looks stunned)
Bosco:  Hey, don't be that way.  Look, I'll give you half the loot,
  if that's what you're upset about.
Rillen:  Half?  No, I don't want your - his - money.
Bosco:  Oh.  (he quickly makes the pouch disappear)
Rillen: used me as a distraction!
Bosco:  Nonsense.  I would've robbed the guy anyway.  You just made
  it easier.
Rillen:  Now look here, you-

  Their discussion was interrupted by a loud, angry-looking fellow
who was coming their way.  The man was well-dressed and of noble
bearing; he seemed to be chasing a young girl garbed in rags.

Bosco:  Hey!  That's Keymil Neston, a minor noble and a _real_ bad
  card player.
noble:  Stop!
girl:  (fleeing the man, she passes Rillen and Bosco, deftly darting
  through the crowd)
noble:  (chases her, also passing Rillen and Bosco)  Stop, thief!
  Stop, I say!

  The girl turned back, grinning as she saw that she was getting
further ahead of her pursuer.  Just then, she tripped over a curb
and fell, landing face-first in a push-cart full of large, soft

girl:  (sits up amidst a mess of half-crushed melons and pieces of
  melons)  Uh...(she looks up)
noble:  (standing there)  Aha!  (he grabs the girl's arm with one
  hand)  Steal from me, will you?!?
girl:  No, I didn't mean to-
noble:  Silence!  (he slaps her across the face, hard)
girl:  (reels, dazed, her lip bleeding)
noble:  I'll teach you...(he raises his hand, to cuff her again)

  The blow never fell, for the hand that would deliver it was caught
in the grasp of a bigger hand - a gigantic hand, by some standards.
This hand, the noble quickly noticed, was attached to one of the
largest men that he had ever seen.  The newcomer's grip was like
iron, holding the noble fast.

Rillen:  (cheerfully)  Leave her alone.
noble:  She's a thief!
Rillen:  I don't care who she is, you don't need to beat her as she
  lies there helpless.
noble:  Who the hell are you-
Rillen:  I'm the one telling you the way it is.  (he releases the
noble:  How can you...but the law...
Bosco:  (kneels, tending to the girl's bloody lip)
Rillen:  (addresses the girl)  What did you steal from this fellow?
noble:  She took my bloody-
Rillen:  (points one finger at the man's nose)  That's enough out of
Bosco:  (to the girl)  What _did_ you steal?  A diamond ring?  A rare
girl:  I...I took his purse.  (she holds up a leather purse)
Rillen:  (takes the purse, and hands it to the noble)  There you go.
noble:  But she needs to stand trial!  The law says that thieves are
  to be punished.
Bosco:  (looks worried)  Punished?
Rillen:  Punished...she's only a girl, and a half-starved one at that.
  Why not just let the matter drop?
noble:  I cannot - reparations must be made, for my honor has been
Rillen:  No, it hasn't.  Not yet.  (he raises a massive fist)
noble:  Err...
Rillen:  Worry not, for I shall escort this girl to the appropriate
  authorities.  Now, good day.
noble:  (complaining to himself, he leaves)
melon dealer:  (quite upset)  What about me?!?
Rillen:  What about you?
melon dealer:  My month's crop...ruined!  By a clumsy girl, and a
  thief, no less!
Bosco:  Hey, pal, it could be worse.
melon dealer:  (pacing in circles as he rants to himself about his
  poor dead melons)  If things could possibly be any worse, I can't
  imagine it!
Rillen:  Perhaps a small sum of gold would pay for your...physical
  and mental anguish?
melon dealer:  (perks up)  Eh?
Rillen:  I thought so.  Bosco, pay the man.
Bosco:  (begins to blurt out a question, then grumbles as he takes
  out a recently-acquired moneypouch and turns it over in his hands)
  Not fair...
Rillen:  (gestures to the melon dealer)
Bosco:  (still grumbling something about making a living, he hands
  the pouch to the man, who quickly takes it)
melon dealer:  (pulls the pouch toward him, then realizes that the
  halfling is still clutching it with surprising force)
Bosco:  (tries to keep his hold on the pouch)
Rillen:  Bosco...!
Bosco:  Oh, all right.  (he lets the pouch go)
melon dealer:  (counting the contents of the pouch)
Rillen:  Good day to you, sir.  (he grabs the girl's hand, lifting
  her out of the mess that used to be a neatly-stacked wagonful of
  melons)  On your feet, you.
girl:  (looking utterly miserable, covered as she is with dirt,
  grime, and melon juice)
Bosco:  (looking the girl up and down)  Ugh, you're a real mess.

  The girl had appeared at first glance to be about twelve, but the
two adventurers now realized that sixteen was a more accurate number.
The girl's dirty rags and oily hair served well to disguise her true
appearance, for she was definitely well into her adolescence.  Her
true hair color was probably close to dirty blond (no pun intended,
Bosco thought to himself) and her clear green eyes peered out from
grime-rimmed sockets.  Neither could even begin to imagine what the
girl might look like after a bath and a good meal.

girl:  (looks up at Rillen, then down at Bosco)  What are you gonna
  to do with me?
Rillen:  What's your name?
girl:  Uh...Jane.
Bosco:  Sure, sure.  Now what's your _real_ name?
girl:  (looks surprised)
Bosco:  Yeah, I've seen you around, on the streets.  You can't fool
girl:  I- I'm Felicia.
Bosco:  Of course you are.
Felicia:  How'd you know I made up a name?
Bosco:  I didn't.  I just bluffed you out.
Felicia:  (looks irritated)
Rillen:  Where are your parents?
Felicia:  What a joke.  You think I'd be roaming the streets and
  picking pockets if I had parents?
Rillen:  (shrugs)  It's not unknown.
Bosco:  Yeah, I do it all the time.
Felicia:  No, my parents are long-gone.  I haven't seen them since
  before I can remember.
Bosco:  Where're you from, Felicia?  You don't have any foreign
  accent, at all.
Rillen:  Not to mention you speak like a well-educated girl.
Felicia:  Years spent trying to survive on the streets teach you
  pretty quickly, and pretty well.
Bosco:  Hmm.
Felicia:  Listen, are you gonna turn me in or what?
Rillen:  The thought _had_ crossed my mind-
Felicia:  (looks worried again)
Bosco:  Aww...
Rillen:  -but I think a good, hot meal would do you a world of good.
Felicia:  (looks up, wide-eyed)  Huh?
Rillen:  Lunch, I said.  Come on.

  They turned, heading back down the street they were on.  Rillen
worried that the girl might try to run away, but she was either
afraid to try or she trusted Rillen.  Rillen hoped it was the latter
case, for after all, nobody trusted Bosco.  Felicia looked somewhat
embarrassed as she walked alongside the huge warrior and the tiny
halfling, almost as if she knew the other street people were watching
her, wondering what was going on.  For some reason she didn't quite
know, she trusted these two to remain true to her word and not turn
her in to the city guard.  That would be disastrous, for ever since
that debacle caused by Theobald and the Beggars' Union several years
ago, public opinion of urchins and waifs was worse than ever.  That,
combined with her prior altercations, would probably spell serious
trouble for her if she showed up in the guardhouse.
  Felicia's musings ended as her companions stopped in front of a
gigantic building.

Felicia:  What's this?
Bosco:  This, m'dear, is lunch!
Rillen:  (drily)  Some would call it the Green Dragon Inn.
Felicia:  Green Dragon?!?  _The_ Green Dragon?!?
Rillen:  The one and only.
Felicia:  You've taken me to one of the finest taverns in Greyhawk!
  I can't eat a meal here- I mean they'll kick me out- I mean-
Rillen:  Shh.  You can and will eat here.
Bosco:  I guarantee it.
Felicia:  (still dubious, as they ascend the front steps of the huge
Bosco:  (tugs the door open, and Rillen catches and holds it)
Felicia:  (now forced to walk in first)  Uh-
Vinnie:  (gives the girl one quick look)  I think you've got the
  wrong place, sister.
Felicia:  (to Rillen)  See?  Let's get out-
Bosco:  (hops onto the front counter)  It's okay, big V!  She's with
Vinnie:  Oh, Bosco, it's you!  Listen, we need to see about getting
  a new table in the casino.  One was broken last night by a little,
  err, accident.
Bosco:  Okay, we'll take care of it.  After lunch, that is.
Vinnie:  Sure.  (he nods smugly to Rillen, as people much taller than
  average tend to do to one another)
Rillen:  (nods back)
Felicia:  (looking around)  Wow.
Bosco:  This way.  (he grabs her hand and begins to lead her to a
Tanya:  (appears before Bosco)  Ah, Bosco!  Who's your friend?
Bosco:  Felicia, meet Tanya.
Felicia:  (timidly)  hi.
Bosco:  We were just going to grab some lunch-
Peldor:  (walks over)  Lunch?  (he eyes Felicia, frowning)
Tanya:  Hmm, maybe a bath is in order first.
Bosco:  But I'm hungry!
Tanya:  A bath for _Felicia_, not you.
Bosco:  Oh.
Felicia:  But-
Tanya:  No buts.  You need a bath, and from the looks of things,
  some new clothes certainly wouldn't hurt.
Felicia:  (trying to edge toward the door)  If it's all the same
  to you, I'll just go now.
Tanya:  You must be hungry.  Leonardo's cooking salmon filets for
Felicia:  Ummm...
Tanya:  Aha.  Well, then.  (she leads the girl away, toward the
Peldor:  Well, Bosco, you'll have to enjoy your lunch without the
Bosco:  (grumbling)  They should call me "Bosco the waif-saver"...
Rillen:  Let's eat.
Peldor:  (clasps hands with the warrior)  Good day to you.
Rillen:  And the same to you.
Peldor:  How'd you come across that dirty little thing?  Bad luck
  or good?
Rillen:  Whew, you don't even know the half of it.  We found her
  right after she had robbed some fop.  She looked more like a
  hungry kid than a vicious robber, so I got rid of the fop and
  brought her here to buy her lunch.
Peldor:  Well, that was awful nice of you.

  While Peldor tended to some tasks already in progress, Rillen and
Bosco took a booth and proceeded to enjoy a magnificent lunch of
smoked and spiced seafood.  About a half-hour after they had taken
their seats, Tanya reappeared, along with an attractive girl who
bore little resemblance to the one Rillen and Bosco had rescued
from the streets.

Tanya:  Sit  (she looks to Rillen, the to Bosco, then
  back to Rillen, and addresses the warrior)  Can I have a word
  with you?
Rillen:  Certainly.  (to the others)  Excuse me.  (he stands and
  follows Tanya)
Felicia:  (slides into the space vacated by the huge warrior, and
  begins tearing into the food)  Mmm.


Tanya:  (glancing at the girl from afar, with a slight interest)  A
  would-be thief, eh?  Is she any good?
Rillen:  (shrugs)  I have no idea...though she did get caught in her
  pickpocketing attempt.  Bosco could provide a more professional
  opinion, I suppose.
Peldor:  (walks up to the pair)  Why, do you think I need to hire
  some more help?
Tanya:  No...but the girl might _need_ some more help.  Look at her,
  she's got nothing.  (to Rillen)  Parents?
Rillen:  Not for a long time.
Tanya:  Hmm, that matches with what I was able to get out of her in
  the last half-hour.  No parents...that means no home, and also no
Peldor:  Do I detect a note of pity here?
Tanya:  Not pity...sympathy.  I can imagine what she's going through
  on the streets, and I don't like it.
Peldor:  Oh.  (he goes back to what he was working on, which at the
  moment is the mounting of an imported shark head on one wall)
Rillen:  (glances at the thing, which is surely out of place here)
  What in the world is _that_?
Peldor:  Why, it's a stuffed shark head, of course.
Rillen:  How odd.
Peldor:  Bah.  It's great for decoration and novelty.
Tanya:  (frowning)  It's great for fish bait, that's what it is.
Peldor:  Oh.  I'm hurt.
Tanya:  You should be.  That freaky thing is going to scare away
  more customers than it attracts.
Peldor:  (grinning)  Says you.
Tanya:  (eyeing the shark's head again)  It's _ugly_.
Peldor:  (to Rillen)  Come on, what do you think?
Rillen:  The thing is...scary.
Tanya:  (smirking)  See?  Told you!
Peldor:  Ow!  Agh!  I can't take it anymore!  The rejection!  The
  unappreciation!  (he wanders away to find some large nails, still
  babbling to himself)  I bet _Ged_ will appreciate it.
Rillen:  Hmm.
Tanya:  (glances over at Felicia and Bosco again)  Well, I'd better
  let you get back to your lunch.
Rillen:  Yes...I wasn't quite done eating.
Tanya:  Hmm, on second thought, I'll just join you now.  We might
  as well make her feel at home.
Rillen:  Good idea.  (they head over to the booth)

next:   a sinister plot begins - with Mongo
ftp: in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes:  There are times when I sit down to write, with no idea at
  all what I'm going to write.  This story was one of those times.

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