Chapter #612

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                                   +   +
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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       +
+   1991-2000 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 monk                                 +
+   Songa           13th level human huntress                             +
+   Date:           1/18/579 C.Y. (Common Year)                           +
+   Time:           midday                                                +
+   Place:          the timberlands just east of the Griff Mountains      +
+   Climate:        frigid                                                +
+   "We need a weapon..."                                                 +
+   "I am a weapon."                                                      +
+                         - from _Usher's Passing_, by Robert McCammon    +

                   DCXII.  Last Stand on the Mountain

  A band of monstrous bugbears has wandered into Rillen and Songa's neck
of the woods, and the couple are watching them from the wooded slopes
that overlook the frozen plains...

Songa:  Oh, hell.  They're headed this way.
Rillen:  You don't think they'll come up here?
Songa:  Wouldn't put it past them.  It's not worth taking a chance, at any

  They had never even thought about covering up their tracks or any other
signs of their existence here.  After all, nobody else lived anywhere near
the cabin, and visitors were infrequent.  As it was, though, the frozen
ground would have preserved tracks, and if the humanoids found these, it
wouldn't take them long to follow them to the cabin.

Songa:  I'm going to set some traps.  Could you go to the cabin and get
  our weapons, and then stay near there?
Rillen:  (having no desire to stumble across one of the huntress' traps)

  Songa worked quickly and efficiently, using ropes and the large knife
at her belt to transform logs and branches into different, dangerous
traps and snares.  Her rationale was simple:  by the time the bugbears
got close enough to trigger any of the traps, they'd probably be close
enough to the cabin to find it.
  A short time later, the huntress knew how the bugbears had found them.

Songa:  (listening to the barking of a dog, not too far away)  Dogs!

  She wasted no time, dashing back toward the cabin.  There, she found
Rillen and filled him in.

Songa:  Thirteen bugbears, plus a dog.  Looks like they're using the dog
  to scent out anyone around.
Rillen:  They're going to find us.
Songa:  (nods)  We're in for a fight.  I hope you're ready.
Rillen:  (grimaces)  Oh, I'm ready.

  Their weapons were all laid out:  Rillen had his quarterstaff and magic
longbow, plus two quivers, one of which held more than a dozen enchanted
arrows.  Songa had six light spears, three heavy spears, and for close
combat, a bastard sword.  They went forth again, taking the time to select
high ground behind a jutting ridge of mountain rock.  From this perch,
they would be able to see and fire upon anyone approaching from the most
natural route to their cabin.
  It didn't take long.  Songa smiled as she heard the cries of pain from
whoever had sprung one of her traps...and then another.  Shortly, the
bugbear force came into view.  There were eleven, one of whom was limping
and two more of whom had freshly bandaged wounds.

Songa:  (whispering)  Killed two, then.
Rillen:  (whispering back)  And wounded three.  Let's wait until they're
  closer...ignore the wounded, go for the healthy ones first.
Songa:  (nods)

  The bugbears seemed alert, if not aware of the two who waited in ambush.

bugbear #1:  C'mon, youse-
bugbear #2:  Hey!  The mutt's got somethin', up this here slope!
bugbear #3:  Les' go!
bugbear #1:  Ahead, ya scurvy bastards-

  The humanoid reeled back as if punched, falling on his back with two
feathered shafts protruding from his throat.

bugbear #3:  Ambush!  (he gets hit suddenly, a thick spear impaling him
  through the stomach)  Argh!

  The bugbears showed admirable tactical sense, as well as bravery.  They
split up, bringing their shields to bear, and charged up the slope.  The
attack had given away Rillen and Songa's position, and there was no way
they could kill all of the foes before things came to melee combat.  Still,
Rillen dispatched three more of the hairy foes with arrows; Songa killed
another and wounded two others with cast spears.

Rillen:  (sets the bow down)  Here they come!  (he takes up his staff and
Songa:  (grabs one of her heavy spears, setting its butt in the hard ground
  as if she were waiting for a charging wild boar)

  Although the bugbears weren't wearing any armor, they were nowhere near
as fast as the humans.  Both Rillen and Songa were light on their feet,
wearing only magical bracers; Rillen also had enchanted boots that boosted
his speed.

bugbear #6:  (charges in, shield and sword raised)  Dieeeeee!
Rillen:  (sweeps the humanoid's feet with his staff)
bugbear #6:  (falls in a heap, causing another bugbear to trip and fall
  over him)
bugbear #7:  Oof!
Rillen:  (swings the staff around, bringing its end into the foe's soft
  and unprotected throat)
bugbear #7:  (gasps as its windpipe is crushed)  Ghak!  (it begins to
  cough up blood, and rolls away)
bugbear #8:  (charges at Songa)
Songa:  (holds her ground, keeping a firm grip on the spear)  Come and
  get it, ugly.
bugbear #8:  (realizes what's going on, and tries to stop its mad charge)
Songa:  (hefts the spear suddenly with both hands, driving it forward into
  the foe's heart)
bugbear #8:  ARGH!  (it reels, blood spurting from the wound)
bugbear #9:  (limping, thanks to Songa's trap, it is a bit slower in its
Songa:  (hurls a light spear, catching the beast in the shoulder and driving
  it back)
bugbear #6:  (gets to its feet and slashes at Rillen with its sword)
Rillen:  (parries the attack with his staff, the wood ringing as if it were
  metallic)  Hai!  (he delivers a kick to the foe's crotch)
bugbear #6:  Urgh!
Rillen:  (brings the staff around, connecting solidly with the back of the
  bugbear's head)
bugbear #6:  <crunch>  (it falls, bleeding from mouth, nose, and ears)
onyx dog:  (obeying prior instructions to wait for a good opportunity, it
  leaps forth, landing on the wounded bugbear #9 and ripping at its throat
  with savage fury)
bugbear #10:  (taken aback by the efficiency and ferocity of these defenders,
  it hesitates)
Songa:  (doesn't hesitate at all, drawing her sword and leaping over one of
  the wounded foes)  Die!
bugbear #10:  (tries to parry, and ends up with a sliced shoulder)  Urgh!
Songa:  (presses her attack)
bugbear #10:  (brings its strength to bear, knocking the huntress' sword
  aside with its shield)  Hah!  (it slashes at the woman)
Songa:  (leaps aside, taking a shallow cut across her side)  Argh!

  With a fury seldom seen in a woman, Songa swung her bastard sword around,
hitting the bugbear's shield so hard that the foe's arm went numb.  Her
next blow sheared its head from its shoulders.

Songa:  (yells in triumph)  HAH!
bugbear #11:  Aie!  (it turns and flees, its morale gone)
Songa:  Oh, no you don't.  (she jumps forth and goes after the humanoid)

  Meanwhile, Rillen had crushed the skull of the bugbear whose shoulder
Songa had speared.  He turned to the one surviving foe still on the scene,
the bugbear whose windpipe he'd crushed.  Suddenly, a hairy, mangy form
leaped at him, snarling...

bugbears' dog:  (leaps to the attack)  Graaaar!
Rillen:  (swats at the thing with his staff, cracking some ribs)
bugbears' dog:  (lands, yelping, and hightails it out of there, its tail
  between its legs)
onyx dog:  (takes off after the animal, growling)
bugbear #7:  (wobbling on its feet, it tries to breathe, with partial
  success)  Gha- gha-  (it points its sword at Rillen and takes a step
  toward him)
Rillen:  (disarms the foe with a single motion of his quarterstaff, then
  jabs the bugbear in the nose)
bugbear #7:  <crack>  (it topples backward, blood jetting from its nose)

  Out of instinct, Rillen checked the fallen foes, making sure that all
were dead.  Hearing the snapping of a branch, he looked up to see Songa

Rillen:  Caught the bastard?
Songa:  (nods)  We'll have to collect the corpse later.  I'm too tired
  right now.
Rillen:  And we need to check your wound.
Songa:  And we need to go get the bodies of those killed by the traps.
Rillen:  That, too.  Well, I'm glad to see that our fighting skills are
  far from rusty.
Songa:  Agreed.  (she applies some of her magical ointment to the bleeding
  slice in her side)  Damn, that stings.

  After they'd rested a bit from the exertions of battle, they dragged
all of the bodies into a pile, then went down to retrieve those killed
by Songa's traps.

Songa:  Uh-oh.  We've got a problem.
Rillen:  What?
Songa:  We're missing two bugbears...but there's only one body here.

next:      fateful conclusion
  in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
released:  2/10/00
notes:     That book I pulled this episode's quote from...Usher's Passing
  by Robert R. it.  It's excellent.  It has to do with the
  modern-day descendants of the Usher family.  The first chapter is set in
  the 1800s and shows a Mr. Usher confronting a drunken and terrified
  Edgar Allen Poe about his wild stories that hit a little close to home.
  From there, the author builds up a tale of multiple generations of Usher
  family members, along with all of their evil deeds.  It's horror fiction
  tied very closely to events in American history, and it's an OUTSTANDING

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