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Dawnstorm
April 6th, 2004, 04:23 PM
A rock hit Cromwell in the face. He yelped, more with surprise than pain, and retreated quickly from the window. Meanwhile, Mik was shaking Evin, who was just waking.

"How do we get out of this mess!" he repeated urgently.

"I'm not snoring, honest," mumbled Evin, just as he was beginning to smell the smoke.

Cromwell was rubbing his bleeding nose. More rocks smashed onto the floor.

"We must get out of here!" cried Evin, fully awake now.

Mik shook his head and dropped the thief on the floor. Then he sat down on the bed, considering the window. But with the flurry of stones currently coming through that...

"What's this?" asked Evin, pointing amidst the rocks.

Mik frowned then quickly snatched the object. A rock bounced against his shoulder, but there was no time for any kind of pain. He retreated onto his bed.

The object, it was an explosive, but the fuse was not lit. A message was tied to it. Mik unfolded it and read:

"Hi, there.

Rumours are a terrible thing aren't they? I didn't tell them you were assassins. Just who you were working for. The populace around here is a bit partial to the lady Danika. Perhaps a different approach is in order?

Anyway, I enclosed a little something to facilitate your safety. Use it wisely.

Reed."

Richardb
April 6th, 2004, 06:33 PM
After another long day of travel, Boldar was sitting comfortably near the small fire he shared with Bass. He was looking over his shoulder at the nearby fire of Gina and Mya, trying to catch a glimpse of the once again naked Mya. Despite his usual passtime, he seemed a bit restive to Bass, as if on edge.

"What's bothering you big man," Bass asked.

Boldar looked at the old man, thinking how much like a gnome he looked in the shadows. He wisely chose not to bring that up again, thinking the terrible case of the runs he had mysteriously come down with last time he mentioned the comparison. "How long do those wicks we packed take to burn down?"

"You mean the ones for the lantern? About half an hour I suppose, if they are not in oil. Why?"

Boldar shrugged and did not answer.

Bass watched him for another few minutes before giving up hope on the answer. Then he heard a shout of 'fire!' followed rapidly by 'I'm gonna kill him!'

Boldar was up on his feet, a feral smile on his face, and a look of a man seeking an escape.

"What did you do?" Bass barked.

Boldar grinned. "Put a lit wick on a bag of Shite, and put the whole thing under the cooks wagon... he'll be comin..."

And Boldar was off into the nearby woods before he could finish the question. Into their camp came Shef, bare feet fouled, carrying a huge cleaver. "Where is that savage!"

Bass shrugged innocently. "Haven't seen him all night. Did you know you stepped in something?"

Shef glared, brandished his blade, and stomped off.

Bass spoke into the night. "Childish Boldar. Funny, but childish."

He was sure he heard a wheezing laugh out in the darkness, nearby, but out of sight.

Dawnstorm
April 6th, 2004, 08:33 PM
"Oh, stop it, will you?" Arleena leant back in her seat and exhaled.

"Stop what?" aksed Gilli.

"You're constantly giggling and laughing and chuckling. It gets on my nerves. Try not to, okay?"

The carriage travelled at a good speed. They would arrive at the Crystal City in a day, perhaps earlier. There were only two other guests; one was an elderly farmer who smelled faintly of manure and was currently sleeping peacefully in the corner opposite of Arleena. The other was an uncommunicative middle aged man, wearing indistinct clothes.

"I'm sorry. I'll try not to giggle, for a while," said Gilli. "It'll be hard, though. It's been my gimmick for so long."

"Gimmick?" Arleena turned to face the wraith. "What are you talking about?"

"Did I fail to tell you that I worked in a brothel, when I was alivel?"

"You didn't tell me that," said Arleena. "But surely you didn't keep that persona up when you were to yourself?"

Gilli looked straight ahead, avoiding Arleena's eyes. It was very hard to make out the happy-go-lucky girly that had irritated her throughout the journey so far. "When I was to myself, I was nothing. Nothing at all."

"Surely that can't be right?"

"It can't, huh?" Gilli slowly turned her head, looking dead like never before. "I didn't get on with the other girls. The men were irrelevant. And I was nothing. Simple as that."

"But surely you've had friends, family, anyone. You know from before you..."

Gilli cut her short. "Some robber-baron and his men killed who they could find and took the younger girls with them. To this day I don't know who survived, and, frankly, it ceased to matter long ago."

"And they sold you to a brothel?"

Gilli shook her head. "Oh, no. They kept us for their private amusement. Drawn behind their horses on a chain. Nude, so they wouldn't have to bother with clothes when they..."

"Oh my god, that must have been terrible."

Gilli grimaced. "No offence, but if I was still alive, I'd hate you for that."

Arleena stared at her helplessly.

"You see, it's always been like that. Man after man after man. When they caught the guys, there was a brief respite in a hospital, but they kicked me out as soon as I could walk. Little girl, big city. What was I to do. It's my life. My entire life."

Arleena just stared, her eyes wide, her lips trembling, but not speaking.

"I know, you're just showing sympathy. I know it's your way of caring. But, to me that suggests, or rather suggested, that I'm some kind of freak. That my life was some kind of atrocity. Which is not what it felt like. If you've got nothing to compare your sucky life to, then it feels normal. Do you understand? It feels normal. Mostly. Unless someone gives you the Oh-my-god-treatment."

"I..." Arleena began, "I'm sorry, I... My life... It's not been easy either, but that..."

There was a sad smile on Gilli's face. "I don't think I'd have minded dying terribly, if it hadn't been for Reed. Apparantly, he's the reason I still stick around."

"Where'd you meet?" asked Arleena, glad to change the topic.

"At work." Gilli relaxed. "He came in, and I thought, well, he's well dressed, I'll charge him a bit more, see if I can get away with it. But all he wanted to do was sleep. Couldn't go to his inn. Someone was after him; he wanted me to scream at anyone I didn't know, make a racket, if they came to look for him here. After that, he became a regular visitor. Never asked for my usual services, I never offered them. I once asked him, why he came at all, he shrugged, said, I'd made an impression." Gilli sighed. "I'll never forget how he looked when I told him my story. He said, 'Well, you've had a pretty shitty life, then. Need a friend?' And he'd looked at me with half-closed eyes, extending a crooked index finger, touching my cheek. I cired, then. I didn't know I still had tears."

Arleena leant back again. "Yeah, he's got that way of accepting the strangest things as if they were..."

And suddenly the carriage stopped. Arleena sat up straight. What was going on? Surely, they weren't there yet?

And then, the voice, male, slightly high-pitched: "Greetings, kind sir. Where would this carriage be going, Nasim would inquire of you."

And Gilli tried hard to stifle an urge to giggle, but failed.

choppy
April 6th, 2004, 09:50 PM
[With apologies in advance…]

The floor grew hot. The too-small beds were now the best place for the trio. Any moment the flames would start to break through the floor, and the black smoke overhead was slowing filling the room from the bottom down.

“Some help,” Mik said, eyeing Reed’s explosive. “This thing will facilitate something alright.” He coughed. The smoke was getting to him. He could hardly see.

“Idea,” the ogre said. “Will hurt.”

Mik didn’t like the sound of that.

Cromwell hopped off the bed and quickly began hammering at the floor with his mace. He used huge, high arcing swings. When the spiked mass on the end of his weapon hit the floor it splintered the wood and left a hole between his feet.

More black smoke plumed up into the bedroom.

“What’s he doing?” Evin asked.

Mik shook his head. “It’s gon’na hurt, mate.” Then he joined in, desperately using his sword to break apart the boards.

When the hole was big enough Cromwell looked at Mik, pausing only for a second. The ogre’s eyes were bloodshot and full of tears from the smoke. “You good man, Mik.” Then he jumped.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Mik followed suit. He was tempted to drag Evin, but he wasn’t going to make that decision for anyone.

*****

Outside the watchmen stood back from the “Happy Pappy.” The two-story house was completely engulfed in flames now. No one cheered. Instead all twenty men listened for the screams of the killers.

“That ought to do it,” said Perry, the night watch sergeant. Most of his men were young. Most of them were barely alive during the Great War. They were the precious resource he and so many others had fought so hard to protect. Perry had seen men burned to death before. It wasn’t pretty. That’s why he wanted the youngsters to see it. He wanted them to know what happened to assassins who came to lurk in the night.

The wood house bowed under the intense heat. It seemed to breath almost.

Snap!

Splintered wood flew out into the street.

Perry, reined his horse back from the flames a little, but then he leaned in close, to see if he could see anything amidst the smoke.

Suddenly a monstrous humanoid creature leapt from the house. The flames liked his skin and enveloped his clothes. He ran straight for Perry and with a swing of his mace, he clobbered the horse before the sergeant could do anything.

The fire-demon dropped to the ground and rolled as Perry fell with him. But the giant came up quick to his feet.

Without orders, his men mounted an attack, but the beast would have outweighed three of them together. He rolled around and swung his mace, sweeping them off their feet and hammering their swords.

And when the mace hit, it hit hard, lifting men right off the ground.

When the flames were out he kept coming, backing them all up. Alone, no one wanted to challenge the might of the mace.

Perry scrambled to his feet. “Surround him!” he shouted. What he wouldn’t have given for a few archers. “Rocks! Hit him with rocks!”

The beast rolled towards him and came up on his feet.

Perry attacked – drawing and striking with his sword in one fluid motion.

The ogre spun, blocking the attack. Suddenly he was behind Perry and a thick arm was wrapped tight around his head in a foreign headlock. If the ogre flexed his arm, it would put just enough pressure on the bottom of his skull to lift it off his neck. Perry froze and felt the massive muscle tremble.

Perry couldn’t not look at another who crawled out of the flames. He was a giant of a man, brought to his knees. Once free of the flames, he rolled a couple times and then collapsed on the ground.

Then the ogre grabbed Perry’s belt, and carried him quickly to an old, dried-up well. He lifted the sergeant and held him out at arm’s length over the hole. His hand was around Perry’s neck, allowing him just enough air to breath. Then he dropped his mace and fished out a smouldering stick from under his shirt.

“This goes booms!” the ogre said.

Perry kicked and struggled, but it was no use. He may as well have had a noose around his neck. “If you kill me, they will all see what you are,” Perry croaked. His men all gathered around.

“Not ‘sassins,” the ogre said. “If ‘sassins. Me makes man-cannon with sergeant.”

“What?”

The ogre dropped the explosive stick down the well. “There goes powders. Wants be cannon ball?”

“I’d rather not.”

The ogre looked into his eyes and let out a huff of air. Then he lifted the sergeant a little higher and threw him – over to the other side of the well.

BOOM!

Nothing, but bust and little chunks of rock spewed into the air. Perry was safe.

“Get him!” one of the watchmen yelled.

“NO!” the commanding tone boomed across the square.


*****


Cromwell caught his breath. Only now was he beginning to feel the burned though his thick skin. His sweat drooled into the blistering wounds and his skin felt dry and numb where it didn’t sting. He watched as a cloaked man slowly made his way through the remaining watchmen.

The man pulled back his hood and there was no question that the watchmen recognized him, and respected him.

“This is no assassin,” the cloaked man said.

“He came to murder the lady,” one of the watchmen said.

“Perhaps, but he did not murder you. This magnalopithicus is one of the Loyals. So soon we forget the debts we owe.” He turned to the other, lying in the middle of the street. “That one. Is he dead?”

A couple of watchmen ran over to him – approaching timidly. “No.” One reported. “But he needs attention. The third is dead.”

“We will bring them to the healer then.”

The sergeant stood up. “But Sir Gravin…”

“That one is unconscious. He is no threat.” Then he turned to Cromwell. “A man-cannon. I like that.”

Cromwell smelled him. He was nervous. And he was hiding something. But if he could take Mik to a healer, it would be worth dealing with him.

“Tell me,” Sir Gravin said. “If you are not an assassin, why are you here?”

Cromwell wiped his nose. The smoke made it run, which made it even more difficult to form the human words. “Work for Loveable Rogue,” he said. “Him used to love Lady Danika. But it not works out. Him needs to find Lady Danika’s Kult’arus.”

juzzza
April 7th, 2004, 05:57 AM
"Milton is a long way from Derudin," said Xcel, leaning against the chimney pot.

At the edge of the roof, crouching low and looking out across the town square, his target did not look round. A human would not have seen the dark robe'd figure in the darkness, even from a few yards away.

In one fluid motion, Xcel slipped a weighted blade from his sleeve into his palm and flicked it towards the man but the blade chipped tile as his target dived silently from the roof.

Xcel sprinted to the edge of the building and tentatively peered over the side to the lower rooftops, there was no sign of his mark. Cursing, he leaped and landed silently on the tiles, a dagger in one hand and a short, slightly curved sword in the other.

He threw his weight onto his left leg, leaning to one side as a blade sliced the air by his right ear. The assassin turned quickly and with a 'ching', he swatted another blade from the air with his sword.

His target leaned against the dark bricks of a tower, his hands empty under his crossed arms.

"Assassins rarely announce their arrival before throwing a blade," he said.

Excel smiled but remained on-guard.

"If I had wanted to kill you using stealth, you would be dead already Xhao," said Xcel.

"Is that so? And what makes you think you are good enough?"

"Ask me again in a few minutes," Xcel said, taking a step forward.

"I take it your master heard about the Jade disc?" said Xhao sliding two curved short swords from hidden scabbards, seemingly at his armpits.

"Indeed," replied Xcel. "He wants me to ask how you did it before I kill you, so... How did you do it?" the assassin moved closer.

"You will find out soon enough," said Xhao moving forward to meet his opponent.

"Well, I asked."

Xcel sliced with his short sword, the blow was parried and the assassin blocked the counter attack with his dagger. He moved in and out of range slicing and stabbing with both blades, ducking the counter attacks and blocking when necessary. Both men never ceased their motion, a parry was quickly followed by an attack, a side-step followed by a jump forward.

"Funny," said Xcel stepping out of range. "I thought an apprentice was supposed to become master upon the master's death, and yet you disappeared after Tularis's demise."

Xcel sheathed his dagger and slid his sword into its scabbard over his left shoulder. Xhao slid his blades into their concealed scabbards at his armpits, the assassins circled each other.

"Fool," said Xcel smiling. He lifted his palm and the dart flew from the concealed pipe, striking Xhao in his left shoulder. He staggered back, gripping the shaft of the dart and grimacing as the serrated tip pulled at his flesh. Xcel saw his opponent's eyes swim a little as the quick working poison began to attack his nervous system.

Xhao took a step back, perilously close to the edge of the rooftop, he swayed and was about to topple to his death when a shadow flew from darkness and pulled the assassin from the edge and sent him flying into a heap at Xcel's feet.

The assassin squinted, trying to make out who the intruder was. He was dressed in jet-black from head to foot, a scarf wrapped tightly around his face, dark eyes peering over the top of the fabric. Long black hair was loose across his shoulders and across his chest a strap help four throwing blades charred black so as not to contrast against the shadows.

The man removed his scarf and moved towards the apprentice. Excel was frozen to the spot, he gasped and did not have time to think about drawing a weapon, let alone loose it, before the leather boot whipped up and took him from his feet.

Tularis stood above the unconscious assassin and looked out across the town towards the mountains.

"I am coming," he said into the wind.

juzzza
April 7th, 2004, 07:16 AM
The LRI camped at the foot of the Raven Hills. Boldar was angry that Juzzza had not led them into Far Dors, a large city famous for its taverns.

Far Dors was also renowned for the fresh fish available at market and readily on offer in the taverns. Caught at Pike Lake and carted to Far Dors and south to Karston, Boldar was especially partial to poached Salmon and he had been day dreaming about fresh dill and a cream sauce for the last two days. Instead, he was camped in the hills with the idiot chef's puke stew.

The giant's thoughts of food evaporated as the Rogue approached the main camp fire, where Boldar sat with Bass and the rest of the men.

Following Juzzza, as always, was Mystiqe and Hume. Hume called to Mya and Gina and the girls moved towards the gathering.

Something in his peripheral vision caught Boldar's attention and he watched as the Berserker's goblin stole some meat from a spit before darting off into the darkness. Kahn strode into the camp and smiling at the giant, he sat down and threw a large salmon onto the grass.

"Where did that come from?" asked Boldar licking his lips.

"Urk nicked it from a wagon," replied Kahn. "When this little meeting is over, you are welcome to join me at my fire, I have a pot boiling away ready to poach this little beauty. Maybe your friend has some dill in his little bag of tricks," he said nodding towards Bass.

Before the giant could answer, and much to his annoyance, Juzzza stood up about to address the LRI.

"This probably won't come as much of a surprise to most of you but it's time we split up. Danika Longress is most likely to be in or near the Crystal City and if she is not then I know where she likely is. I want half of the men to go with Boldar, Bass, Mya, Gina and Myself to Crystal City. The others will go with Hume, Mystiqe and Kahn."

"Do I have to go with that animal?" asked Mya, waving a hand towards him. Boldar smiled at the warrior.

"Well, I don't know about the rest of the men but seeing you naked every night has been the highlight of the trip so far," said Boldar to chuckles from some of the men.

"And where are the others going?" asked Gina, nudging her friend for encouraging the giant again.

"The others will head to Dilger and take the ferry across Krill Bay to Ennow Keep, Danika has a cabin further north up the coast," replied Juzzza.

"Wouldn't it be easier to get a boat from Elk and travel downstream?" asked Kahn.

"Yes, much easier," replied Juzzza. "But Hume has some business in Dilger."

The Rogue paused, waiting for any more reactions to the plan. When none came, he continued.

"It is likely that both parties will be intercepted, Sharn's men, Belaris's assassins and the Dark Elf Emperor's soldiers are all aware that we are after the Kult'ar. It is also highly likely that
other parties are on our tail and these roads are full of brigands looking for spoils."

"What happens when we get to the Crystal City?" said Mya.

"We find Mik and Crom and then Danika," replied Juzzza.

"And what do we do when we find her?" said Boldar.

"Ask her for the Kult'ar," said Hume smiling.

"Albert will be keeping each party up to date with the other's progress, quite how he manages to travel so far so quickly, is anyone's guess but still, it is a useful trick."

"What about us... I mean humans?" said Boldar. He sighed, annoyed that he had not articulated himself very well.

"I mean, why is it that we are not being tracked or questioned by the Imperial Guards, surely there is an interest in the Kult'ar from someone, after all, it was designed to wipe us out?"

Juzzza smiled, the giant's vulgarity was not the only thing that managed to surprise the Rogue every day.

"Who do you think is sponsoring this little quest?" was all Juzzza said before striding away from the fire.

"Well f**k me backwards," said the giant. "And Lord Jarmil said I would never work for royalty again!" he laughed.

Jadziel
April 7th, 2004, 08:13 AM
Darkness fell early across the camp when the sun drifted behind the Raven Hills. The adventurers were spread out around the fire, resting after their evening meal. Tonight there was no banter or squabbling, no bragging or questioning. The eight companions were unusually quiet, engrossed in their own preparations and private reflections. On the morrow, their paths would part, leading them in two separate directions.

Amber flecks of light danced above the fire. Mystiqe watched them twist and turn, their paths criss-crossing, parting and merging. Warmth spread through her relaxed limbs. Stretching slowly, she leant back against the rogue's chest. He was resting against the trunk of a large oak tree, a little apart from the main camp. Obscured in shadows, his eyes were closed, and his arms were wrapped around her waist. The steady beat of his heart vibrated through her. She smiled, listening to its intoxicating rhythm.

"I'm not sure what to do with Dargeth gone", she murmurred, almost to herself.

The rogue stirred slightly, fingers stroking her stomach. His lips brushed across the back of her neck. "You don't need to do anything. You're with me now."

She placed her hands on his thighs and closed her eyes. "If i don't do anything... things could get very... umm...".

"Romantic?", he teased, pressing firmly against her stomach.

She gasped, a reflex reaction, heat spreading through her ebony skin. "Don't tempt me, rogue. I like playing with you far too much."

"I know you do", he whispered, nuzzling her ear.

"I'm trying to tell you something". She laughed, elbowing him gently in the ribs.

Juzzza grinned. "Go ahead, i'm listening. Honestly i am".

"I don't know how to say this... it's about the last few years...".

She felt him stiffen, arms tightening around her. "You don't have to tell me anything. The last few years don't matter, Myst."

"It's just... i want you to know..."

"It doesn't matter", he cut her off abruptly, voice hoarse. "Look, I'd be a fool if i thought there weren't other men. I'd just rather not hear about them. I love you too much for that".

She placed her hands over his, startled. "I... I was going to explain about Dargeth."

"Oh, well, forget i said anything then". He rested his head on her shoulder, embarrassed.

Mystiqe was silent for a few moments before speaking. Her words were quiet, mingling with the crackle of wood on the fire. "When the war ended, Dargeth was a wreck, seriously wounded and half out of his mind. He was still only a boy, so weak and frail. I managed to get him out of Duredin before Belaris killed him. He grew stronger, but i couldn't break his dependence on that damn drug. His addiction got worse and worse. He ended up creating his own network of opium and gambling dens. Trading and sparring with dealers, thieves, addicts and thugs. I tried to look after him."

"And now that he's gone?", Juzzza enquired softly.

"His 'empire' is mine, and i hate every single thing about it".

"Can't you just disappear? Never go back to it?".

"I hope so. It's more a question of whether i'll be allowed to escape from it. I dreamt of getting away for so long... then when i finally found the courage to leave...". She fell silent, entwining her fingers with his, and smiling at the contrasting skin tones. "About that other thing...".

"Myst...", he warned.

"There weren't any others. I've always loved you."

Dawnstorm
April 7th, 2004, 08:16 PM
Sir Gravin Longress,

You are not safe. Somebody may think of killing you to lure out your sister. There is precedent. Do not trust anybody.

I doubt that Mr. Cromwell Hornsmash means you harm, but it cannot hurt to be careful. At any rate, be careful about his partner. As it is, they are more likely to protect than to hurt you, but I have been wrong before.

Be on the look-out for Saerka Sharn's henchmen and dark elven assassins.

Lastly, do not trust me. I have good intentions, but there is that nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I am being manipulated by someone (or something) who (or which) is capable of predicting my actions and setting the scene accordingly.

If you should ever meet me, STAND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SHADOWS. If I stand in the light, stand in the shadows. If I stand in the shadows, stand in the light. If there are no shadows to stand in, go away before someone attempts to hurt me. I am protected by ancient magic which does not discriminate between friend and foe.

My name is Barnabas Reed. I am a friend of your sister. More accurately, I have decided to behave as if I were a friend of your sister. I do not know, if she remembers me. And if she does, I do not know if she remembers me favourably.

Lastly, I apologize for writing in your diary. But this is one message I do not want intercepted. This is as honest as I get.

Reed.

Richardb
April 7th, 2004, 10:13 PM
After two rainy days, the brief stay in Moleback had been pleasant, though it seemed strange to be travelling with only half the troup. They now moved down the Kings Road, only a few days out of Crystal City. Time was passing slowly, and Boldar was bored.

The camp was silent but for the deep tearing sound of Boldar's snore, until a gutteral barking sound, followed by a feminine howl of rage and challenge brought Boldar leaping out of his sleeping covers, sword in hand, instantly alert. His eyes only took a moment to find the source of the sound. About forty feet away in the low light of Gina and Mya's fire, Boldar could see the naked form of Mya, sword in hand, cutting down a shadowed figure. "Gnoll," growled Boldar, as the creature was cut down by a well executed slash. He turned from the scene, confident that Mya and Gina could handle themselves.

Bass motioned with his hands and incanted something that sounded like 'etolte' and muliple flashes of power, forks of blue white lightning, flew from his fingers into a handful of oncoming creatures. They were bowled down into smoking crisps.

Boldar heard the whistling of a blade behind him and began to turn. Before he completed the maneuver, he felt another wave of power blast past him, and upon completing his rotation, he checked his sword, holding it dead still, inches from a bugbear hung motionless, suspended in the air.

"Finish it!" Bass barked at him.

"I, uh, can't" Boldar looked a bit uncomfortable.

"What do you mean, you CANT? It's a damned bugbear. Pure evil. Kill it!"

Boldar shook his head. "It wouldn't be... well, sporting..."

"Are you truly that stupid"

Boldar shrugged and bend down, picking up the creatures crude blade. He held it in his hand a moment, looking around the camp, noticing that there did not appear to be any more action, though half the camp appeared to be moving about in a bustle. He reached forward and put the sword near enough for the bugbear to grab, and then stepped back as the furry, stinking creature took the blade, though it could only move it's arm a few inches. Boldar peered at it closely, noting for the first time how the piglike, furred face seemed to hold a certain intelligence. He also noticed that the beast was damn near as tall as he and as wide.

Juzza seemed to emerge from the shadows, a long blade bared. "Perhaps we could learn something from this creature you've caught, mate. You mind if I do the honors?"

Boldar shook his head and turned to Bass. "Let it go, NOW!"

Bass motioned with his fingers and the creature fell the half foot to the ground. As it began to register it was free, the crude blade in its hand came up. Before it could move, Boldar rotated a full half turn with his blade fully extended at waist level.

Completing his swing, Boldar allowed his momentum to turn him the rest of the way to Juzza. "Nope, you can't have him."

Juzza was a bit surprised, and unsure of what he had seen. The swing was smooth, but never slowed enough to have connected, and the creature was still standing there. "You gonna let it go?"

Boldar laughed and turned to the seemingly stunned creature. He walked calmly up to it, and it still did not move. He extended his blade and poked the beast in the upper right shoulder. the top half of the creature seemed to simply slide off the bottom, and then the waist down simply toppled. "Don't think its running anywhere. Couldn't kill it just hanging there, but I couldn't really let it go now, could I? These things can be a real bother you know."

Juzza shook his head. "Impressive. Stupid, but very impressive. Now we won't find out who sent these creatures."

"Does it matter?" Mya walked up behind Juzza. Naked, spattered in blood.

Boldar gawked at Mya, finding himself oddly excited by the amazon naked, blood covered, and standing with bared blade in the firelight.

Juzza, nonplussed, shrugged. "No, I suppose it does not at that."

Mya looked at the hulking old warrior. For one of the first times since meeting her, Boldar noted surprise and... something else, clearly in her expression.

"What?" He barked, suddenly uncomfortable.

Mya looked up at him, and then clearly moved her eyes down. "The forest air seems to be lifting your spirits, BIG man."

Boldar's eyes followed hers down to his small undergarment, and noticed what she was pointing out. To everyone's surprise, he didn't turn away, but instead gave a whoop of joy. "Lass, I feel twenty years younger! Why, that's a mate I haven't spent time with in years!"

Juzza turned away, a cough covering what may have been laughter.

Mya smiled. "Why don't you re-aquaint yourself with your lost mate there big man."

He finally had the decency to appear slightly embarrased. "I'd rather you..."

"Shut up!" Mya, Juzza, and Bass yelled simultaneously.

"You bring me up to the heaven's Mya, then crash me down to the depths..." Boldar nearly whined.

Juzza winked at Mya, then turned back to Boldar and Bass. "Nice bit of magic there Bass. Anyhow, we are going to have to start being more carreful, and setting more guards. These," he kicked a corpse on the ground, "come from the lowlands of the Highwall Mountains, and I don't think I have to remind everyone that the entrance to the underdark is thereabouts. Not a coincedence, it would seem to me."

The group broke up, each to their own camps.

Mya walked back to Gina and whispered. "Gods, the old man is functional... and, well... you have to admit, he is an impressive specimen."

Gina looked oddly at Mya. I once saw a beet the size of your head. I couln't help but think how impressive it was. "

"What are you talking about?"

"I hate beets, even though that ONE was interesting."

Mya shrugged and picked went off in search of some water and a cloth to clean up.

Boldar stood watching her for a time. "God's that is a women!"

"Sheathe that thing, big man, you don't want to lose it after just finding it again."

Boldar looked down again. "Damn, that's a fine sight!"

"Why don't you show the rest of the camp?" Bass said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "I'm sure they'll all be happy for you."

To his huge surprise, Boldar nodded and walked off toward's where Shef and the others were cleaning up.

Richardb
April 7th, 2004, 10:27 PM
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another map posted on the groups page I listed above, this one is of the high cleft valley leading to the hidden entrance to the underdark in the Highwall Mountains. Added a hidden castle, an orc city, and other areas of interest in cleft to use, or not, in story
I'll try to keep the maps one step ahead of the story. Underdark map to come last.

Note, I just posted a partial underdark also, not too much detail, but enough to give some ideas.
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