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March 26th, 2004, 02:41 PM
The door opened, but nobody entered. Then, a voice from outside: "Is it save to enter? I am not here to harm you."

"Go ahead, come in," said Reed. He didn't know the voice.

A small, wiry man entered, presenting his empty hands. He proceded cautiously, never taking his eyes off Reed. "You didn't lock the door."

"Very perceptive, Mr...?" Reed spoke slowly, as if he had all the time in the world.

"My name is of no consequence, Mr. Reed. I am here on the order of Saerka Sharn," said the man, and then he bowed.

"I gathered as much," said Reed.

"Mr. Sharn apologizes for the unfortunate tone of the note. He was mildly annoyed that you revealed his interest in the Kult'ar, though."

"Tell Mr. Sharn that I appreciate his mistrust. And I can understand his need to secure my cooperation. This unfortunate action was necessary, to demonstrate the inefficiency of threats in that respect."

The man nodded. "On the other hand Mr. Sharn is pleased with your latest move, killing the Drow. A very complex and elegant way to disrupt the party."

Reed smiled. "I'm sure Mr. Sharn didn't send you here, to pay me compliments."

"Certainly not, sir. Mr. Sharn asks if you are going to honour your obligation."

Reed shook his head. "Oh, my. Mr. Sharn wastes his time. I have not renounced my cooperation, have I? I didn't make any promises when I was face to face with him, and I will no make any promises, now. You can tell him that I know the cost of failing him, and that I would rather avoid paying it."

"Then I will tell him that." The man bowed. "Oh, and might I ask you a question?"


"Why did you leave the door unlocked?"

Reed grinned. "I forgot."

"Certainly," said the man and bowed again. Then he slowly walked backwards, not taking his eyes off Reed, until he had left the room.

Reed did not move until Gilli materialized to tell him that the man had left the inn. Then he let out a sigh and let his shoulders sag. So, Sharn thinks he killed a Drow. What was going on? Was Mystique dead? No, that would not merit the lable "elegant", or "complex". Someone she knew, then. A friend. A family member. And, of course, the point was to blame it on Loveable Rogue Inc.

And Sharn was impressed enough, to send someone with an apology. If the messanger did, in fact, come from Sharn. Reed took the useless key from his breast pocket and weighed it in his hand. "Never take things for granted." he mumbled.

Then he got off the bed, turning to Gilli. "I've wasted enough time. I need a steed. Time to collect a favour."


Reed landed in the middle of the camp, and jumped off the Pegasus, patting its back.

"Well, I never! Look what the cat dragged in." Mik shook his head. "The nerve!"

"That's Reed then, is it?" said Hume, grinning. "You go fetch Juzza. I'm going to have a word with the imp."

Reed was relieved to see Mik retreat, and the other man apporach. He put on a grin, and extended a hand. "I'm sorry, I'm late."

"Late? For what?" said Hume, but he took Reeds hand and shook it. "I do not recall sending you an invitation."

"Oh, but you did. I just took..." Reed glanced into the air. "...a temporary leave. The accommodation wasn't exactly cosy, now was it? You must be Hume, am I rght?"

"I'm Hume, yes. But, tell me, what gives you the idea that we will let you come along?"

"A scout would be useful, no?" Reed indicated the Pegasus. "But, more importantly, when I'm with you, you'll have an easier time keeping up with my, er, activities. And might, actually, profit from some."

"Aha..." said Hume, encouraging Reed to go on.

"Also, my need for battle savvy company has somewhat increased, as of late. If your party could provide protection, I would think twice, no make that four times, about risking that."

"Increased?" said Hume, putting a finger to his chin.

"Well, you see, currently, Sharn thinks I work for him, which is good but won't last for very long, I'm afraid. Then, Sharn thinks that I have killed a Drow. No idea what that is about, but if Sharn arrives at such a conclusion, so might vengeful dark elves. In a worst case scenario, I've pissed off a powerful High Mage, by indirectly telling you he's been eavesdropping, but I doubt he'll want my head."

"Well, it sounds like fun, watching you sort that one out."

"Well, let me rephrase that. Up to now, I've been a playful imp. I'm not sure about your idea of fun, but I'd guess there are one or two aspects you wouldn't like about a desparate imp."

"I see what you mean." Hume smiled a smile Reed couldn't make out.

"Oh, and here's a little something you might interpret as a sign of good will, if you're so inclined. Perhaps, you've wondered how I keep track of things? I'll tell you that." And Reed turned around, grinning at the air, which immediately started to condense.

A second later, a pretty female wraith beamed at Hume, waving: "Hullo, I'm Gillian Meriweather. Gilli, to most. I've seen you before, you know."

March 26th, 2004, 04:19 PM
Between the past and the future Albert had been lots of things, he was now half way to the future and two worlds away from where he would be at that time.

Being a High Mage wasn't all it was cracked up to be. You see the moment you became aware of what you and everything else was in the universe you went over the edge. You went totally loony as a tune, as nutty as a fruit cake, mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Albert didn’t look dangerous, he was in appearance an average sized man, neither fat or thin, with an average face comprised of nut brown skin, dark, hooded, bead-like eyes and a thin mouth. Of which the right corner seemed to twitch upward now and then, giving the observer the impression that Albert was smiling pleasantly at them. A very foolish thing to assume.

Albert had gone insane nearly five hundred years ago. He had another five hundred to go before he met up with three people who had been there, through no fault of their own, when he had started to go over the cliff of insanity. In fact, it was knowing that these three, whom he loved beyond all others, existed two worlds away in the future that kept Albert relatively stable.

Relatively speaking that is.

He had passed his time in this world doing the odd thing, teaching this world’s version of mages some basic dos and don’ts in regard to certain magery had occupied some of his time. Keeping an eye on one, Juzzza, self-styled Loveable Rouge, because he had promised the lad’s mother that he would do so now and then had taken up a bit more. Not that he wouldn't have anyway, Albert took parenting very seriously; even if the child in question wasn’t aware of whom one of his parents was?

Then there was the matter of the Kult’ar. That pretty item had taken up even more time in short, sharp, bursts of frenzied activity, bowel-clenching danger and hilarious fun. It would be interesting to see how this chip off the old block, Juzzza, handled the matter.

Albert sat on his black stallion under the shade of a tree, his right leg cocked round the saddle horn. One hand was balanced on his stubble-laden chin and the other upon the text he perused, his hat shading both body and missive from the chill of the night.

“You still haven’t signed for that” The pixie, sitting between the horse’s ears, said sharply, tapping his clip board. Barnabas Reed had used BPS, Brownie Postage Service and they were officious little bastards.

“You didn’t deliver it, right.” Albert tapped the side of his nose.

“Yes I did.” The Brownie thundered.

“No you didn’t.” Daniel poked his head round, from where he was sitting behind Albert and belched, crisping the message and the messenger. Both fell to ash and floated off on the evening breeze.

“Typical.” Albert sighed.

“Soorrryy,” Daniel said sarcastically. “Not my fault, it was the Chicken Madras, or it could have been the chutney or pickled onions…” The white, feathered, three-foot firedrake belched the last word, sending a small plume of flame up under Albert’s hat, the sound of crisping hair filled the air, but not as quickly as the drake took wing.

“Why, do I bother?” Albert asked himself, as he took off his hat and brushed the burned portion of his hair away. It wasn’t bad, just trimmed the edges of his shoulder length, black hair. Albert replaced the hat took out a book from his saddle bag and settled down to read, watch and wait.

March 27th, 2004, 02:02 PM
Originally posted by Richardb
Bass smiled and cast the spell.

Within moments his huge companion was snoring loudly enough to wake any within fifty feet, a ripping tearing sound that made Bass flinch.

"Gah!" Mya scowled, rolling over onto her side and stuffing a pillow over her head, but the rumbling noised continued. Finally she sat up and grabbed her sword.

"Mya?" Gina asked sleepily. She proped herself up with her elbow. "What is it?"
"What do you mean 'what is it'???" Mya demanded incredulously. "Can't you hear it?"

Gina frowned, and caught the rumbling snore. "Impressive. That's not keeping you awake, is it?"
Mya's jaw dropped. "How can you possibly sleep through that?"
"Apprentist dormatory was next to the city's largest bordello, very noisy. You learned to sleep thorugh anything or had an accident the next morning," Gina shrugged. "So what's with the sword?"

Mya flinched as another rummbled through the tent. "With this sword I shall gladly dispatch he whose snoring interrupts my sleep!" With a snarl, Mya flipped opened her folded blankets and began crawling towards the entrance.
"Don't do it!" Gina warned, grabbing hold of Mya's arm.
"Why not?"
"Because men get confused when they see a naked woman running around with a sword," she smirked, shaking her head. "Don't you have anything to sleep in?"
"Wearing clothes to bed," Mya blushed, "Its so unnatural...."
"Yeah, but you don't get a chill visiting the latrine in the middle of the night. What's really bothering you?"
"Its this whole thing," Mya shrugged, sitting down. "I just don't know what they want."
"Didn't you ask to see the big guy, Juzzza?"
"Yeah, but it was just a lear, some stupid joke and where to pitch our tent and then said we'd learn everything tomorrow."
"Ok," sighed Gina. "Lie down on you stomach and I'll give you a back massage, you'll be asleep before you know it."

March 28th, 2004, 11:37 AM
Juzzza paced through the camp and men side-stepped out of the Rogue's way, sighing with relief that they weren't whoever it was he was so eager to find.

Bass, who was still wide awake, saw his new employer bee-line towards two men chatting next to a glorious winged horse and what looked like a willow-the-whisp or pixie lantern. The old man squinted and could see the basic outline of a young woman.

"Fascinating," he said to himself. He wondered who the rider was, looked across at Juzzza and said, "Uh oh." He stood up, paused for a moment, wondering if he should wake Boldar, shrugged and made his way towards the action.

"So you see, we have what you might call a..." Reed was cut short as Juzzza stormed towards him.

"Ah, the Loveable Rogue himself I presume, I was just telling your colleague how..."

The punch caught Reed just below the solar plexus and any air that was inside his lungs burst out with an 'oomph!' The man fell to the floor with a thump. Before the spirit who seemed to be the man's companion could start shrieking, Juzzza had flipped the man over and had punched him hard in the face. Even Hume seemed a little astonished at this brutal entrance.

The spirit wailed and flittered around Juzzza as he straddled his stunned victim. The noise was piercing and Hume, Juzzza and a few other men who happened to be standing by, covered their ears with their hands to stop the pain.

Upon seeing this, Bass quickened his descent. He saw the Pegasus rear on its hind legs, the spirit's screech was not just damaging to human ears it seemed.

Others had been drawn by the comotion and the old mage could see the dark Elf running towards the scene, he hesitated but decided he would have to face her at some point, so continued. To his right a large naked woman was holding a drawn sword and bickering with her companion.

Hume fell to his knees, his head ravaged with pain. Through teary eyes he watched as Gilli levitated a fallen tree trunk, hollowed over time, and saw her smash it into his friend.

Juzzza was lifted from the still unconcious Reed, and sent flying through the air to land hard on the ground. At least the wailing had stopped. Juzzza rolled to his feet and called "Bass."

Hume turned to see the old mage weave intricate signals and shapes with his hands and fingers, interlocking and clicking to an unheard rhythm. The elder seemed to lose his frail disposition and a shadow passed across his face, his eyes turned jet black and his mouth spread wide open.

A mist radiated from the mage's throat to a low hum and Gilli turned to face him just as the mist surrounded her. She held up her hands and was about to scream when the mist solidified, dropping as a large block of ice to the floor with the spirit imprisoned within.

Hume stood up, shaking his head, his ears still ringing. He paced over to the ice and crouched before the open mouth of Gilli. He looked over to Juzzza who had drawn a slightly curved blade and was walking back towards Reed.

The Gambler or Imp, or whatever he was, was awake and leaning up on his elbows. He looked over at his frozen companion and for a split second showed genuine concern. That concern was quickly diverted to his own mortality when he noticed Juzzza moving towards him with ice blue eyes locked firmly on his target.

"Wait! Please, I have information..." Juzzza ignored him and raised his blade to strike.

"I know who killed the drow," Reed pleaded.

Juzzza's sword arm did not slow or falter, but a shadow, almost too swift for Hume's human eyes to see, darted to the side of the fallen man. A slightly shorter, curved blade prevented Juzzza's steel from slicing into Reed. The look in the Rogue's eyes was chilling.

"Don't you dare steal this information from me Rogue, you have taken enough from me with your blade," said Mystiqe. She parried Juzzza's sword away from Reed and stepped over the Imp to block Juzzza's path, her blue eyes smoldering with defiance.

"Alright," said a large naked woman. "Enough is enough, if someone doesn't tell me what the f**K is going on, I'm going to go beserk, and trust me... If you knew my father that is NOT what you want to happen."

March 28th, 2004, 01:43 PM
"Alright," said a large naked woman. "Enough is enough, if someone doesn't tell me what the f**K is going on, I'm going to go beserk, and trust me... If you knew my father that is NOT what you want to happen."

Mya blinked. Did she actually just envoke her father like that?

"Mya," Gina called from their tent, "Maybe... nevermind."

"By the gods!" Mya thundered, "Never have I seen such a mess! I was first mate on the Vigilance and someone you dare not cross! I have traveled here to this strange place for a job and have been beset with misdirection, loud snoring and now a murder taking place yards from my very own tent!"

"There will be answers now!"

March 28th, 2004, 02:00 PM
Reed sat up, panting. Everyone was silent, waiting for someone to speak, Juzza, Reed, anyone. Slightly dazed from fist impact, Reed took his time looking around. Juzza said nothing, but glared at him blade drawn.

It was Mystique who broke the silence. She spoke slowly, with an icicle voice: "So, who killed my brother. Speak or die."

And then, something in Reed took over, an attitude he'd thought he had left behind with little Barney, target of the bullies, laughing stock of the rest.

"Has it occurred to you, my little dark one, that I might have lied, in order to save my life? That I might know nothing at all?"

Mystique's eyes narrowed. "You wouldn't want me as your enemy. Trust me on that. If you have information, out with it, or die."

Reed's voice grew cold. "If I have information, I will take it with me as I'm leaving. Or I'll take it with me to the grave. Basically, your desicion." Before Mystique had time to think on this, Reed pointed at Bass. "You. Release her." He pointed at his frozen friend. "At once!"

Bass looked confused. "What? Why, in the seven Hells, would I do that?"

Reed spoke softly and very slowly. "To avoid vengeance." And he smiled at him, without humour, as his hands, for a split second, indicated the size of a figurine.

An automatic reaction, Bass waved a hand, and Gilli began to thaw. He stared at the ground, saying nothing. Boldar sidled up from behind him and slapped his back. "Brilliant, bloody brilliant," he mumbled under his breath.

Juzza stared in disbilief at the old mage.

Reed sighed, and, with a nod to Gilli, jumped onto the Pegasus. "I wanted to offer you my service," he said to the crowd in general. "I take it, it was declined. Well, win some, lose some."

"I doubt, we could trust you," Juzza said.

"Speaking in plural, are we," said Reed, adressing Juzza, and then to a more general audience: "You would indeed be fools, to trust me, but I've never claimed to be trustworthy, have I? Unlike others." And he met Juzza's eyes. If looks could kill, there would have been a double fatality. "You've signed on, without knowing what you're questing for. Is that the way you operate? Are you that desparate for a job?" He smirked at the naked lady, then went on: "In a worst case scenario, you're up against the power of the Kult'ar. You may be up against its current holder. You're most definitely up against Saerka Sharn, who wants the thing, too. And against... Oh, you'll find out."

And with these words Reed lifted off, with Gilli following. "Despite what you might think, I'm not your enemy," Reed called, as the camp slowly dwindled.

March 28th, 2004, 10:09 PM
"You've signed on, without knowing what you're questing for. Is that the way you operate? Are you that desparate for a job?" He smirked at the naked lady, then went on: "In a worst case scenario, you're up against the power of the Kult'ar. You may be up against its current holder. You're most definitely up against Saerka Sharn, who wants the thing, too. And against... Oh, you'll find out."

And with these words Reed lifted off, with Gilli following. "Despite what you might think, I'm not your enemy," Reed called, as the camp slowly dwindled.

Mya's eyes narrowed dangerously. Her hand itched for a spear. One throw and whatever danger this man offered would be gone. He was still within her range - but whatever this one knew would be lost.

From the look on the Dark Elf's face, there was no place on, above or within this world that would be safe for him.

Saerka Sharn. A name to remember.

"What is this kult'ar he speaks of?" Mya asked.

March 29th, 2004, 04:39 AM
"Okay," said Juzzza sheathing his blade. "This was going to wait until the morning but I guess now would be a good time to explain a few things."

"Mya," he said turning to face the female warrior. "I am sorry for the lack of information thus far, but with characters like Reed floating around, literally, I have had to do my best to keep our activities a mystery.

"As Reed indicated, some very dangerous people know what we are after, and some want to stop us finding it and some want to get it for themselves.

"Mystiqe's brother has already been murdered, and the individual or individuals responsible have tried their best to pin the murder on Loveable Rogue Inc."

"And what is this Kult'ar, where is it and what are we, or rather you, going to do with it when we find it?" asked Mya. Her colleague attempted to wrap a blanket around her naked body, but Mya shoo'ed her away and looked over to Juzzza expecting a frank answer.

Juzzza smiled, he liked Half-Hand's daughter.

"The Kult'ar was forged by Dark Elf mages during the Elf Wars. It was designed to tip the balance, well, more than that, it was designed to wipe out the human race. The ultimate weapon to win the war.

"In their haste to develop it, something went wrong and the mages realised that they had created something even they could not control, it wouldn't just wipe out humans, it would wipe out everything.

"Whilst the mages had the ability to create it, they couldn't wield it, it requires an individual with telepathic powers to initiate the weapon and to focus the power it unleashes. If magic is used to unlock it, it will simply blink everything out of existence.

"It is useless for men, such as I. It is simply a trinket, something to put above your fireplace. And that is why I was sent to retrieve it the first time round. My sponsors knew I could not wield it and so trusted me to retrieve it.

"If this thing falls into the hands of an arrogant mage who thinks he can control it, we are in big trouble, if it falls into the hands of a telepath then someone is in big trouble depending upon who holds the Kult'ar. The problem is of course that power of that magnitude will ultimately corrupt and not a lot could stop it."

"And where is it now?" asked Boldar, keen to get to the point.

"I don't know," replied Juzzza. "But I know someone who does and that is the first part of our quest, to find Dani Longress."

"The sorceress!" said Gina, who had finally managed to convince Mya to put some clothes on.

"Yes. Although she isn't actually a sorceress. She is a powerful telepathic," said Juzzza.

"Not the kind of person who should know where the Kult'ar is," added Bass.

"Indeed. When she was given the Kult'ar to hide from the world, she had no powers but that is one of interesting side-effects of the weapon, it can unleash the latent power within an individual. And Dani Longress had immense powers locked away. In fact when she woke up she had absorbed not only some of the power of the Kult'ar, but the life essence of her dragon Fluerre. It makes her a very dangerous individual."

"And what is stopping her from using the Kult'ar now?" asked Mya.

"Nothing," replied Juzzza. "Except she knows that even she would not be able to prevent its corruption from spreading if she wielded it."

"And what are you going to do with it if we find it?" asked Boldar.

"Destroy it."

"Are we supposed to believe you?" said Mya.

"That is up to you Mya, but then it is probably in your best interests to come along to make sure I do wouldn't you say?"

"Okay," said Boldar. "I am going to state the obvious here, because you all seem to have missed it. If we are about to find a powerful dark Elf weapon, why the hell have we got a dark Elf with us?"

Mystiqe glared at the old giant but she remained calm, it was a valid question.

"It is in every race's best interests to destroy this thing," said Hume. "The dark Elves helped Juzzza to retrieve the Kult'ar last time. Half of the dark Elf government were planning to sign peace agreements with the humans when the Kult'ar was developed, they wanted it destroyed as much as we did."

"Then why wasn't it destroyed?" asked Mya.

"Because there was no guarantee that the mages wouldn't develop another one, think of it as a deterrent, if you use yours, we'll use ours," said Hume.

"But the Master Assassin made sure another couldn't be developed," added Juzzza darting a quick glance at Mystiqe. "He wiped out the mages and destroyed all of their records."

"Well, what idiot handed the thing to Longress," Boldar asked.

"This idiot," said Juzzza.

"So who are the other players?" asked Mystiqe.

"Well," began Hume. "It's no secret that the current Master Assassin, is no big fan of the peace agreements between the Elves and Humans. By now he will know that your brother was killed and will probably believe that LRI were involved. He will also know that we are after the Kult'ar by now, a weapon he would love to get his hands on. It is probably a good idea to assume that he also knows you are with us Myst, something he will take as a personal insult no doudt."

"And this Sharn?" asked Mya.

"A Beserker," said a voice from the shadows. The group turned to face the new arrival.

The Barbarian stepped into the light of the fire and rested both hands on the blades of an enourmous butterfly-headed battle axe.

"Sharn is a Berserker like me, only he has much greater control over his warp capabilities," said Kahn.

"Warp capabilities?" said Gina.

Kahn's whole body seemed to tremble and his flesh began to bubble and burst as he doubled in size. His shoulders bulged and his face was twisted and warped into a grotesque mask of horror. As quickly as it happened, he began to shrink until he was back to his original form.

"Impressive," remarked Bass.

"Not really," said Kahn. "I can control when I warp now, I just can't keep my good looks when I do," he smiled.

"And Sharn's interest in the Kult'ar?" asked Mya.

"Sharn is a gangster," replied Kahn. "A warlord. His greed knows no bounds and he has no moral code and shows no remorse. He would do anything to increase the size and power of his empire. He has vast resources at hand too, including access to mages and telepaths."

March 29th, 2004, 09:49 AM
The Citadel was quiet but then the whole city was almost always silent, you may hear movement, you may even hear wagons rolling back and forth, but there was never unnecessary noise in Derudin.

The Dark Elves did not believe in chit chat, they conducted their business quickly and efficiently and at the appropriate time and place.

Built within the caverns of a long-dead volcano, as with all cities built by the dark elves, Derudin was in a perpetual twilight. Even the lanterns burned low, no sunlight had ever touched the cobbled streets of this underground city.

The Kretik Citadel, the headquarters of the Dark Elf Assassin's Guild and the home of the current Master Assassin, was the tallest building in Derudin, its spire was within an arrow's distance of the ceiling in the largest cavern. Made from black limestone and slate, the building show-cased the creative brilliance of the dark elf race and their dedication to perfection.

Only one human had ever stepped foot inside the Citadel and lived, a fact that still made the blood boil of the resident Master Assassin. That the human had soiled the perfection of the Citadel by entering it was an insult and abomination only outdone by the fact that an elf had helped him. And an elf from the same bloodline.

Thankfully the weaker bloodline was almost obsolete. Belaris' only regret was that he had raised no sons of his own to continue the Yassassin's reign as Master Assassins. His brother, Tularis, had been a traitor. He had not only broken the Guild's ancient laws by training his daughter in the assassin's craft, but he had worked for the humans during the Great War and had helped steal the one weapon that could have wiped the human curse from the face of the earth. In the same position, he would have sacrificed his family for the good of the whole race.

With no heirs to apprentice, he had taken on a promising recruit selected from thousands of willing young assassins. Xcel's fighting ability was almost as impressive as his ambition and sheer ruthelessness. It was rumoured that he had killed three of the other top short-listed nominees for the apprenticeship. A rumour that pleased Belaris immensely.

"Go," said Belaris without looking up from the document held open for him by a cleric.

"It is done Master, as you directed," said Xcel bowing low on one knee.

"So the drug addict is dead?"

"Yes Master and your niece has joined with the human and his companions, they commence their journey to find the Kult'ar at sunrise."

"There is only one thing I would like to see more than the death of the Rogue and that whore, and that is the return of the Kult'ar to Derudin. With its safe return, the Rogue and his pasty race will be obsolete and all those who betrayed us will be destroyed shortly after. If it ever becomes apparent that the Kult'ar can be retrieved without them, I want them killed immediately."

"There is more Master, a human called Reed sent a message. This human claims that he knows where the Rogue is heading and why. He says that the Rogue seeks a women, a women who knows the whereabouts of the Kult'ar," said Xcel. Belaris looked up from the document and waved the cleric away.

"Bring me this Reed," he said.

"I will try."

"Succeed Xcel, I want to question this human. But not to the Citadel, no human will ever set foot in here again."

"There is more Master," said Xcel, still bowing low. "Reed informed us that the Beast of Beulerin is a member of the Loveable Rogue Inc."

Belaris stood up and smoothed the black fabric of his robes before walking slowly towards his apprentice.

"And he had the figurine with him?" he asked impatiently.

"Reed believes so Master, but he did not see it."

March 29th, 2004, 10:49 AM
To the surprise of the entire assemblage, Boldar began to chuckle, a growing base rumble.

Bass poked him in the short ribs, but it was too late, his friend was laughing out loud, bringing the attention of the entire group his way. Then he noted that a certain dark elf was looking at him with particular interest, though her attention seemed to be pulled to the laughing giant near him.

Juzza stepped closer, looking at the big man as if he had perhaps lost his mind. "What is so funny?"

Boldar was hunched over, gasping for air. "Not funny... just..." he gasped and got control a bit. "Naked women with swords, drow, plots to destroy all of mankind. God's man, this is just the thing to make an old man feel a decade younger!"

Juzza smiled. "Gallows humor then. Keep in mind, you could die old man."

Boldar shrugged. "Like betting a copper penny that. Not much to lose at my age, then is there? You look to yourself friend Juzza, Boldar Dread is out of retirement, and won't be going back, one way or another."

The tension had been broken, and most of the group began to break up. Juzza, however, turned a dark scowl back toward those few remaining. "We will get this cleared up in the morning."

As the group wandered off, Bass smiled at Boldar. "And I always thought you were dense... your timing for that little event was perfect. I think you distracted her in time."

Boldar winked at the old man. "Don't know what your talking about, Bass. I was just overcome with the pleasure of the moment, that's all. Now, if you could just cast that spell for me one more time... and, err... do you have anything to ease a pain in my shoulder..."

The two wandered back to their campsite chatting the entire way.