Chapter #745

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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       +
+   1991-2001 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                                                  +
+   "Why?"                                                                +
+   "Because I had to."                                                   +
+                             - Honey Ryder & James Bond, from _Dr. No_   +

                    DCCXLV.  Slavers' Surprise

  The captured duo sat there, tied to wagon wheels, as the strange
bellowing got less and less distant...

Songa:  I really think we need to get!  (she tries to
  drag the slain slaver's corpse over, so she can get at his belt-
  knife, but this proves a complicated task from the angle she's at)
Rillen:  (straining against the wooden spokes he's tied to)  Almost...
black dog:  (comes running out of the darkness)  Arf!  Arf!
Songa:  Eh?
Rillen:  There you are.  It's about time.  Can you get that knife from
  that body, there, into Songa's hands?
black dog:  (looks at the knife, then back at Rillen)  Arf!
Rillen:  (sighs)
black dog:  (darts over to the slain man, grabs the knife in its teeth,
  and pulls it free, then trots over to Songa, dropping the blade onto
  the ground next to her hands)
Songa:  Good dog!
Rillen:  (listening as the bellowing gets closer)  Hurry!

  Right as Songa had cut her bonds and started on Rillen's, the beast
came crashing into the slavers' camp.  It was a massive, armored thing,
commonly known as a landshark.  Digging a furrow in the hard ground,
it barreled into a wagon, destroying it utterly.  People ran yelling
and screaming in all directions.

landshark:  RRRRRRRNK!  (it claws a slaver, ripping his head from his

  The beast was enraged, for its slumber, half-buried in its nest, had
been disturbed by the small but loud black dog.  The animal had run
circles around the landshark, barking all the while, until the monster
had uprooted itself to give chase.  A merry chase it had been, at least
for the dog; the landshark was quite enraged, and took its fury out on
the wagons and those who owned them.

landshark:  (crashes into another wagon, breaking its axle and sending
  a bowman off the top)  RRRRNK!

  At the other end of the camp, Songa continued to saw at the ropes that
bound her husband's arms to the wagon.

Songa:  Damn, this is taking forever.
Rillen:  You've done enough - back off.  (with a single flexing of his
  broad torso, he snaps the wheel to which he is tied, freeing himself)
Songa:  Where did they put our weapons?
Rillen:  I am a weapon.  (he lashes out at a passing slaver, knocking the
  man down and out with one blow)
Songa:  That won't work on the monster.  (she grabs the haft of another
  slaver's spear)  Give me that.
slaver:  Hey!
Songa:  (tears the weapon from the man's grip)
slaver:  Aie!  (he flees)
landshark:  (bites a third wagon's wheel, snapping its spokes like twigs)
other slaver:  (running toward the beast, he spots Rillen and Songa, and
  raises his crossbow uncertainly)
black dog:  (bites the man's ankle)
slaver:  Aaaargh!  (he begins hopping up and down)
Songa:  (takes the crossbow that the fellow just dropped)
Rillen:  (spots one of the wizards just beginning to float into the air)
  No.  (running, he jumps onto a wagon, then leaps again, tackling the
  wizard as he rises)
pudgy wizard:  Ack!  (he squirms uselessly)
Rillen:  (throttling the man with both hands)  You'll die-
pudgy wizard:  (attempting to cast a spell and shock this foe with some
  electrical force, he is unable to work the magic due to the situation)

  They were sinking, headed right toward the landshark...

pudgy wizard:  No...(they crash into the ground)
Rillen:  (rolls and comes up on his feet, standing completely still on
  the hunch that this may keep him from being a target)
pudgy wizard:  (stands, shakily)  Ungh...(he looks around)
landshark:  (opens its maw)  RRRRNK!
pudgy wizard:  Aie!  (he turns and staggers away)
landshark:  (charges after the man, bellowing all the while)
Rillen:  (calmly walks the other way)

  The warrior noted that the horses - those still alive - were not only
terrified but also easy prey.  Whatever the slavers' crimes, these animals
didn't share them; Rillen quickly cut them loose from the wagons and set
them free, watching them run off into the night.
  The other wizard, meanwhile, had seen all this and was working his
own spell.  Rillen had no means of avoiding it, but Songa was the random
element that would mean the wizard's downfall.  She figured that the foe
would have some sort of protection against weapons, so she took another

Songa:  (hurls a small keg, which shatters on the mage without visibly
  affecting him)
wizard #2:  Bah-  (he realizes that he's now covered with oil)  What?!?
Songa:  (grabs a brand from the campfire and throws it at the man)
wizard #2:  No-  (he ignites like a stack of dry wood, his robes blazing)

  The man ran off into the darkness, providing a convenient target for
the landshark, which immediately gave chase.
  The chase didn't last very long.

  Meanwhile, Rillen and Songa had used this diversion to free those who
the slavers had captured.  Though the prisoners were weak and listless,
none of them wanted to become food for the landshark, and they'd obeyed
their liberators in taking cover behind the nearest hillock, a good
hundred feet from the slavers' camp.  This proved to be a wise move, as
Songa's hunch was correct:  the landshark returned to the camp to finish
what it had started.  A couple of the slavers had seen the adventurers
flee to this hiding place, but they'd been struck down by Rillen and
Songa.  Besides, right now they had their hands full with the landshark.

Rillen:  What should we do?
Songa:  Just wait here.  Those things have poor eyesight, so the thing
  won't see us here.  Best to let it vent on those morning,
  it will return to its lair.
Rillen:  (to the dozen or so freed slaves)  Don't move - just stay there
  and be silent.  We're safe as long as nobody gets up and runs around
  like a headless chicken.

  Something in the warrior's tone calmed these frightened people, letting
them know that they were safe and that he was right.  They stayed put and
stayed quiet.

Songa:  Good.
black dog:  (calmly licking its paws)
Rillen:  Smart work back there, finding that monster and luring it out.
black dog:  (wags its tail happily)
Songa:  Too bad for the slavers, but then again...they're slavers.  What
  comes around goes around.
Rillen:  (nods)

  At some point during the night (nobody ventured down to confirm) the
landshark wandered off, its appetite and anger finally abated.  Morning
found the slavers' camp devastated, with only a few living (all of whom
were wounded, and all of whom were quickly dispatched by the former

Rillen:  Should we stop them?
Songa:  Why?  It's not our business.  If anything, we should help them.
Rillen:  No need - they seem to have enough anger to do the job.

  The pair sifted through the wreckage until they found and retrieved
their weapons and other items.  The pudgy wizard was gone, presumably
eaten by the landshark, while the other was little more than a charred,
half-eaten husk.  The adventurers took a few potentially magical items
from one wagon, but left everything else for the dozen people who had
just gotten their freedom back.

Rillen:  You'll be fine.  You've got weapons, food, and a couple of
  serviceable wagons.
Songa:  Some of the horses will wander back, and you can hitch them to
  the wagons.
ex-slave leader:  (an older fellow)  What about you?
Rillen:  We'll make our own way.  We're headed for a faraway land.
ex-slave leader:  Can't we just come with you?
Rillen:  Er...
ex-slave leader:  We're in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by monsters
  and bandits, with no sure means of movement or protection.  If you leave
  us, we'll surely die.
Songa:  Hmm.

next:      wagon train?
released:  6/4/01
notes:     I'll finish this up in 746, then move back to Nenya, Halbarad,
  etc until 750.

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