Chapter #559

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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                                                +
+  "It doesn't matter...that kind, they never pay the price."       +
+  "Sometimes they do."                                             +
+                    - from an episode of the _Highlander_ series   +

                      DLIX.  Comeuppance

  Rillen, working around his cabin, has been accosted by five armed
and hostile men...

man #5:  (getting dangerously close to the cabin's door, which is
  slightly ajar)  Food, water...maybe some booze?

  Rillen kept himself under control; it was obvious that the ruffians
didn't consider him much of a threat without any weapons.

man #4:  (as his companions cover him with their crossbows, he moves
  to tie Rillen up)
man #1:  Careful, there - he's a big one.
man #2:  He'll do nothing while he's staring down the shaft of a
man #3:  Heh, heh.
man #4:  (uncoils a length of rope)

  Then, suddenly, it happened.  In an instant, Rillen sprung into
action.  Swiping the rope, he had it double-coiled around the man's
neck before the other could even react.

Rillen:  (whirls about, keeping the man as a shield between himself
  and the foes)
man #4:  Aaaaa!
Rillen:  (suddenly and bodily hurls the fellow at one of the others)
man #3:  (goes down in a heap with man #4)
Rillen:  (like some great predatory cat, he leaps at man #2)
man #2:  (fires his crossbow, but misses)  Damn!
Rillen:  (tackles the foe, hard)
man #2:  (goes down, stunned)
Rillen:  (wasting no time, he kicks the ruffian in the face, crushing
  bone and cartilage, then whirls to face the leader of these invaders)
man #1:  (sword in hand)  You may be strong, and you're sure fast,
  but you won't beat a blade.
Rillen:  We'll see.
man #3:  (stands, reloading his crossbow with Rillen in mind)  And you
  surely won't beat a bolt.
man #4:  (stands, shakily)  Urgh...
man #5:  (at the door to the cabin when the fighting began, he draws
  his sword, watching his companions' backs)

  The brigand should have been watching his own back, for a corded
arm moved in suddenly from behind, looping over his head and around
his neck.  The man didn't even have time to shout a warning as he was
pulled into the cabin, choking and gasping weakly.  His struggles were
punctuated with a loud snapping sound.
  Moments later, as the crossbow-wielding foe took careful aim at the
defenseless Rillen, a thick spear sailed from the cabin's doorway and
punched through his chest.  Transfixed, the man dropped his weapon
and spit up a great gout of blood before crumpling to the ground.

Songa:  (emerges, a second spear in her hand)
Rillen:  I thought I told you to get my bow.
Songa:  (shrugs)  I'm better with the spear.  What can I say?
man #1:  A woman...
man #4:  I knew it!
Rillen:  I wouldn't worry about that if I were you.  You two don't
  have much time left in this world.
man #1:  (leaps forward, shoving his companion at Rillen, then turns
  and runs into the forest)
man #4:  Aaaaa!
Rillen:  (catches the foe, snaps his neck, and drops him, all in a
  single fluid motion)
Songa:  (casts her spear, but only grazes the fleeing ruffian in one
  shoulder)  Damn!
Rillen:  (eyes her swollen belly)  You're off-balance, I guess.
Songa:  Never mind that - he's getting away!
Rillen:  No, he's not.  (he sprints off after the fled foe)

  Rillen was no tracker, but he could run with the best of them, and
besides, the other man was bleeding.  His trail was easy to follow,
and Rillen skirted underbrush and leaped over fallen trees as he
closed the distance between himself and his quarry.  The task was made
easier by the fact that the other was running pell-mell through the
woods, making enough noise to do a herd of buffalo proud.

Rillen:  (spots the man ahead, and redoubles his pace)
man #1:  (looking back fearfully as he flees, he runs right into a
  low-hanging tree branch, and falls to the ground, dazed)
Rillen:  (closes the distance as the foe sits up, wiping blood from
  his forehead)
man #1:  Ouch.
Rillen:  No more running.  You won't escape now.
man #1:  I don't have to.  (he draws his sword)  Unless I'm gravely
  mistaken, I have a sword and you have nothing.
Rillen:  (smiles grimly)

  The man wasted no time at all, lunging forward with a well-aimed
thrust.  Rillen sidestepped the attack with ease, bringing his fist
into his opponent's stomach as he dodged.  The other's breath was
knocked out, but he managed to slash at Rillen on his backswing.
The big warrior simply stepped back, out of harm's way.

man #1:  You're even quicker than you looked before...
Rillen:  Believe me, you haven't seen anything yet.  You made a grave
  mistake, coming to my home, threatening my woman and me.  Now you
  will pay the price - and believe me, it will be a steep one.
man #1:  Perhaps we can settle this like civilized men-
Rillen:  Wrong words.
man #1:  I'll split my treasure with you - half and half, right down
  the middle.
Rillen:  It's mine anyway.  All I have to do is kill you.  (he shakes
  his head)  But that's not why you're going to-
man #1:  (darts forward suddenly, sword flashing)  Die!

  Rillen hadn't taken his eyes off of the foe during their brief
conversation, and he was ready for such an attack.  He stepped back
and to one side, catching the other man's swinging arm in mid-motion.
A quick twist wrenched the ruffian's arm from its socket with a loud
snapping sound.

man #1:  AARGH!
Rillen:  (shakes the foe's useless limb once, and the sword drops to
  the ground)
man #1:  AAAARGH!
Rillen:  Those were your last words.  (he grabs the man's neck in one
  massive hand and begins to squeeze)
man #1:  Ghak!  Wait...I c- can tell you about-
Rillen:  (tires of this ordeal, and twists his wrist suddenly)
man #1:  <snap>
Rillen:  (sits down on a log)

  The warrior rested for a short time, then threw the body over his
shoulders and dashed back to his cabin.  Songa, thinking ahead as
always, had already piled the other four brigands' bodies up.  To one
side, there rested a pile of their weapons and other valuables.  There
was also, of course, the sled they'd dragged here in the first place.

Songa:  Ah, there's the last one.  Are you okay?
Rillen:  He posed no problem.  (he dumps the body atop the others)  I
  don't know who these dolts were, or who they robbed, but they no
  longer matter.
Songa:  Aye.
Rillen:  Nice spear-throwing, by the way.
Songa:  Thanks.  I still practice, you know.  (she pats her sizable
  belly)  Maybe not for much longer, though.
Rillen:  Did they have anything useful, or of value?
Songa:  A few gemstones, items of jewelry, some coins - nothing too
  fancy.  It's all there in the pile.
Rillen:  (walks over to the sled, and begins untying the cords which
  bind its piled contents)  Let's see what all the fuss was about...

  They were both surprised, for when the warrior pulled off the tarps
and cloths, a king's ransom was revealed!  Chests of coins, gems,
ingots, and more gleamed in the midday sun.  A solid silver urn was
filled with swords and jewelry, while a bulging sack spilled forth
platinum coins.  They recoiled from the sight, simply out of awe, for
this trove rivaled most of those they'd seen in their past adventures.

Songa:  Wow.
Rillen:  They pulled this trove all the way out here?  On a sled?!?
Songa:  Stranger things have happened.  (she frowns)  You know, if they
  really did steal all of this, the owner will be looking for it.

  They whirled as one, for neither had heard anyone approach, much less
something the size of the silver dragon which now towered over them.

next:      dragon's hoard
ftp: in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
email:       (preferred)
notes:     It has been brought to my attention (thanks Quentin!)
  that in the recently-released supplement "Greyhawk:  the Adventure
  Begins" events in the city's Thieves' Guild have taken a similar
  path to my writings.  See p. 108.  Interesting.

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