Kelfour Edition volume III number XII

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 / \                                                                     \
|   |                    Secrets of Black Swan Castle!  See Pages 4 & 27  |
 |                                                                     |
 |                                                                     |
 |  GemStone III(tm)                                         May 1993  |
 |                                                       Vol.3, No.12  |
 |             /\                                                      |
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 |          (     `) _   _           _    ___                          |
 |          |/-\/-\|/ ) / )         / )  / __)                         |
 |          ||o  o|/ /_/ /  ____   / / _/ (   ____   __  __  ____      |
 |          (|  > /   __/  / __ ) / / (  __) / _  ) / / / / / ___)     |
 |       ___ ( ~~/ /\ \   / ___/ / /  / /   / (/ / / (_/ / / /         |
 |      //--\---(_/--\_) (____) (_(  (_(   (____/ (_____( (_(          |
 |_____// \\.\ -- /.//\\   _____      _    _    _    _                 |
 /--\/--\ // .\  /. \\//\ / ____)    / )  (/  _/ )  (/                 |
//--\/--\\(   .\/.   )\\// (__   ___/ /  _   (  _) _   ____   ____     |
|        ||\`  ..  '/.///  ___) / _  /  / )  / /  / ) / _  ) /    )    |
|  KE's  ||.\ /..\ /./ /  (_   / (/ /  / /  / /  / / / (/ / / /) /     |
| THIRD  ||\|\ .. /|/|(_____) (____(  (_(  (_(  (_( (____/ (_((_(      |
|  YEAR  || \.\.././ |                                                 |
|        ||\ \.\/./ /|      The Kronicles of Kulthea                   |
|        || \|\../|/ /)________________________________________________|
 \______// ~~~~~~~~~~~                                                 |
 |                                                                     |
 |  Kelfour's Landing Local News ................................   1  |
 |  The Cost of Living ...................... Hilgavolkas LaJolla   2  |
 |  Exploring Black Swan Castle (with Maps) ...                        |
 |          ....................... Gilinfandorial Dyn'Un Lycaeon   4  |
 |  Monster Chronicles: Manticores & Threks ...... Jarran Terraxx  10  |
 |  Becoming a Bard ............................. by Erion Kulsen  12  |
 |  Scenes From the Inn (Conclusion) ................ Sean2 Lladd  14  |
 |  Wilderness Report ...................... D. Forrest Hobgoblin  17  |
 |  Illusions ....................................... Simon d'Ker  18  |
 |  Big Bad Mik ................................... Bugg Hornwort  19  |
 |  Healing Thyself: Herbs in the Field ....... Alyssya Sandorala  20  |
 |  The Looking Glass War, Part 2 ....... Lord Gallenod Varynesti  22  |
 |  My First Death ................................ Shiloh Strong  26  |
 |  The Battle for Black Swan Castle .......... Mordstrom Parthus  27  |
 |  Ram's Guide: Substitutions for GemStone III .. Ram Youngblood  33  |
 |  Undermining Kelfour's Part 7 ............ Llorien Silvanestii  34  |
 |  The Wizard and the Wolverine ............... Natasha Cheridan  37  |
 |  House Haunting ............................. Lloyd Llowd, PhD  38  |
 |                                                                     |
 |                 Various Limericks by Bugg Hornwort                  |
 |                                                                     |
 | Kelfour Edition of the Kronicles of Kulthea is devoted to the multi-|
 | player roleplaying game GemStone III on  GEnie Information Network. |
 | Submissions  may  be edited  for space, accuracy  and  readability. |
 | Contact Editor Rasputin Santare; Assist. Editors Kalagay Halatil or |
 | Jarran Terraxx, or Publisher Lady Phaedra Bleu - by sending GE Mail |
 | to P.HERRINGTON for details.                                        |
 |    _________________________________________________________________|___
 |   /                                                                    /

   KE Celebrates 3rd Year         _________________________________________
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~        @)____________ Kelfour Edition ___________)
Three  years  ago,  under  the   | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; |
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Bleu  and founding Editor Usul   | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;'         ';;;; |
Lu'Nak,  the premiere issue of   | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;'             ;;; |
Kelfour Edition was published.   | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;             ;;; |
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Now,  to  mark our Third Great   |   LOCAL  :  ';; ;'''' ;;;        ;;;;;; |
Year,  KE presents our special   |  N E W S :   ,,,,   ,,,,,,       :;;;;; |
Anniversary Edition:  38 pages   |          :,;;;;;;   ;;;;;;;;      ;;;;; |
of  the best information, com-   | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;     ;;;;;;        ;;;; |
mentary,  fiction and how-to's   | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;     ;;;;;         ;;;; |
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Enjoy!                           @)________________________________________)
     The Merchants are Coming!                 Change to Essence Wave
     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thursday,  May  20, starting at 8 PM   The Essence Wave spell has undergone
Eastern time, some of Kulthea's most   a  recent change. While it relies on
famed merchants and artisans will be   the same  factors  for success/fail-
here  to provide YOU with the finest   ure  and functions  essentially  the
of garb and gear.                      same way, it no offers immobility.
    Gladiatorial Games Approach        If   successful,   the  spell  still
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~        knocks the target prone, holding  it
Saturday afternoon, May 29, starting   there for a few seconds;  but that's
at 1PM Eastern time, a mighty assem-   now accomplished  with an imposed RT
blage  of  raw  power and magic will   instead of making  the  target immo-
gather in the Arena to do battle for   bile.  There  will be the usual drop
glory and prizes! Sharpen your sword   in the target's  Defensive Bonus for
buff  up  your  wands  and pick your   being prone,  but not to  the degree
foe!   Or  bring  a picnic and cheer   afforded by true immobility.
your friends to victory!
                                               Want More Experience?
Possibly the most popular event held           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
in all of Kulthea, the return of the   Remember,  varying  rewards for good
Gladiator  Games  is sure to produce   examples  of role-playing your char-
winners of all Kulthean persuasions!   acter  are  awarded by Game-Masters.
Surprises  and  upsets  happen often   These  bonuses can double any earned
and, of course, past winners protect   experience  and  can  really  add up
their 'crowns' with vigor.             when you stay in character!
                            Upcoming Town Forums
        Date    Topic       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~           Chair-GM
        19 May  More Guilds a'building                      Giacomo
        26 May  Sordid Sorcery and Similar Stuff             Reline
         2 June The Search for Assistant GMs               Elvanion
         9 June The Anything Goes Topic                       Kygar
        16 June This Old House (and how to make it better) Elvanion
         Town Forums are conducted each Wednesday Night in the Moot
                Hall Assembly Room at 10:00 PM Eastern time.
 _________                  The Cost of Living
/ \ _____ \                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ~|_|~ |               by Hilgavolkas LaJolla
  |  |~|  |
 _|  |~|  | would  like  to  explain   but  were   worth  250   silvers  to
/@| _|~|_ | the  nature of life  and   Eissa's priestess. Tourmaline stones
\_/ ~~~~~ / death in Kelfour's; that   were worth  50 silvers  to the  gem-
  ~~~~~~~~  is, the ways and whys of   cutter, and  500 silvers  to Eissa's
resurrection from untimely death.      priestess. With  the influx  of  all
                                       the new  gems in  our lands,  I have
I am  sure that  all of  you have at   found that  what the gem-cutter will
one time  or other  died  and  found   appraise gems  at seems  to  be  the
yourselves  standing  before Eissa's   same value  Eissa's priestess  gives
gate.  The dear goddess can  usually   them. The  lady priestess is getting
be counted on  to return us to  this   sharp in her years among us.
hallowed plane. After  all, our pur-
pose in life surely isn't  finished.   If you  are dead, you need resurrec-
(The golems are still hungry).         tion. Those who  are in  their first
                                       year of  training are  automatically
One warning:  Eissa only returns the   resurrected   by  Eissa  when   they
souls of the pious who have obtained   depart, even if they  have no deeds.
deeds from  her temple and the inno-   Eissa  does  not  require  deeds  of
cent who may  have no  deeds but are   level 1 characters.  There is a pen-
still in their first year  of train-   alty  for  excessive departing,  but
ing and know no better.                you  will always  be  resurrected. I
                                       shall  explain the penalties  later.
What are  deeds?  Well may  you ask.   First  level   characters  get  five
They   certainly  are  important,  a   "free" departure  deaths  (when  you
pledge of your piety and  support of   voluntarily  depart  or  your  body
Eissa's temples. These tokens are to   decomposes before  you are resurrec-
redeem  yourself  from  the  land of   ted)  before  the  departures  count
death, should you find yourself fac-   towards  penalties to  a character's
ing Eissa in the spirit world.         statistics (STATs).
To obtain  a deed,  go to the Temple   A  first  level  character  can   be
and look for the black arch. Through   resurrected by  a cleric. This saves
that arch lies a small nook. Eissa's   the young one from  accumulating yet
priestess is just  beyond the tapes-   another death to be counted  against
try. Once the acolytes  have ushered   him or  her and  from the  bother of
you before her, you  should announce   re-equipping. Clerics do not get any
yourself by hitting the chimes twice   experience  for  resurrecting  first
with the little  mallet.  Then kneel   level  characters,   so   they   are
and make your offering. Just drop it   usually left  to  Eissa's  forgiving
in front of  you and hit the  chimes   hand. I  think clerics  should  make
with  the mallet one  last time. The   the effort  to help these young ones
priestess  will inform  you if  your   now   and   then,   so   that   they
offering was sufficient.               understand the process when they are
                                       older and  resurrection by  a cleric
A  suitable  offering  is  gems  and   is much more important.
silvers equal to:  100 *  your_level
   + 100 * deeds_you_already_have      If you are level 2 or older and have
   + 101 silvers.                      died, find a cleric to intercede for
                                       you.  If  you  have  deeds  and  are
Deeds are  more costly  as you go up   resurrected by a cleric, one deed is
in training,  so buy  many  of  them   redeemed for  the  resurrection.  If
while you are young.                   you have  deeds and  depart for some
                                       reason, Eissa  will  resurrect  you,
We used  to find  that  agates  were   charge two  deeds, and you will have
worth 25  silvers to the gem-cutter,   a  death  counted  for  that  level.
                                    -2-                             More...
These deaths  are used  to  penalize   will not suffer from this death. For
your STATs when  you go to train. If   two deaths, the penalty  is 4 points
you die  and depart with no deeds to   for the 2nd death added to the 2-pnt
pay Eissa's modest price, she ushers   penalty from the first, for possibly
you through  the gate to the land of   a total of up to 6  points  deducted
the permanently  dead. You  will not   from all  your STATs  when you go to
be resurrected, and  your  relatives   train.  You are  going to feel  this
will never  hear from  you again. If   one, because  it is likely  that you
you  die  without   deeds,   find  a   will come out of training with  some
cleric! A  cleric can resurrect you.   STATs lower  than when  you went in.
You will  have to take a  death pen-   It is harder to  get every STAT back
alty  when you  go to  train, but at   up by 6 points with random rolls.
least your  character will be alive.
                                       For a  third death, the penalty is 6
On  penalties:  penalties  are  only   points plus the 4-point penalty from
calculated when  you go to train for   death two  plus the  2-point penalty
your next  level. Deaths  that count   from  death one, for a  possible  12
towards penalties will show when you   points off every STAT when you go to
type  the  EXP  command,  under  the   train.  You are going to come out of
heading  "Deaths  this  level."  The   training with lower STATs  than when
penalties work as follows:             you went in.
For one death, there's a possibility   In summary, each successive death is
that up to 2 points will be deducted   a possible 2 penality pts. more than
from  your character's  STATs across   the previous  death,  added  to  the
the board.  A die  roll is then made   penalty  points   of  the  preceding
across the STATs as is normally done   deaths. Dying  without deeds  and  a
when training  upon reaching  level,   cleric can become very expensive. My
toward  reaching   your  character's   best advice  to all  of  you  is  to
potential. It  is likely  that these   purchase deeds  and be  very nice to
points will  be completely recovered   clerics. Your life depends on it!
by the die rolls, and your character
                 Mikhail on Halflings                       ,---,
                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                       | -/-|
                   by Bugg Hornwort                        ,(__-_),
                                                          /||    ||\
                                                         / |@\__/@| \
      Mikhail, shooting skeet from the wall,            / /|@@@@@@|\ \/
    Had a shaft knocked and drawn to the full.         ( ),|@@@@@@|,( )
          Said he, "There's no truce,                  ''' /\@@@@/\ '''
   I've just found a _real_ use For halflings..,"         /  /\@/  \
       Then he smiled and yelled, "...PULL!"             `__/    \__'
 _                                                        \@\    /@/
( ),  ,,,,,,        Said Phaedra, it really upset her,   (@@@)  (@@@)
 \ \  |o.o |   Since she'd a use that was frankly much better.
  \_\ ( =  )         "Shooting hobbits is abhorrent,
   \*\_)  (__        Since I've found they're absorbent,
    |*********\     Let's strap each to a chronic bed-wetter."
       (*******\ \          Now it was Mikhail's turn to stare,
         \*******\ \    As he scowled, passed his hand through his hair.
         /**__***,( )              Said he, "I'm appalled.
        /**/  \**\'''         What's the sense of it all...
        \__\  /__/      ...just so halflings can run 'round in pairs?"
 ____________           Exploring Black Swan Castle
/ \ ___   ___\          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@|  \~\ /~/ |       by Gilinfandorial Dyn'Un Lycaeon
  |   \ ~ /  |
 _|    |~|   | ou can't be serious!"   ing lightning  down upon the castle.
/@|    |~|   | I yelled in disbelief   The bolt  struck the munitions  shed
\_/    ~~~   / at  the  mage sitting   which housed  the iron balls for the
  ~~~~~~~~~~~  next to the fireplace   catapult, melting half of them.
inside the Wayside Inn. "You mean to
tell me  that no  one  in this  vast   "Next a force of war trolls arrived,
land since its discovery and breech-   bearing  two  massive  wooden  cata-
ing three and a half months ago, has   pults. One was  placed low to strike
been in the place?  Or even tried to   the  walls and drawbridge, while the
get in?"                               other was erected  atop a small hum-
                                       mock to set seige upon the inside of
"You learn  quick, lad," sneered the   the castle.
wrinkled old  mage as he shifted his
weight within his silken blue  robe.   "Although the denizens of the castle
"Ever since its discovery Black Swan   put up  a valiant  fight,  all  were
has been an eyesore  of bad memories   eventually slain, and the castle was
for every  person who's attempted to   laid  to ruin.  As if to mark  their
get in it," he continued, "and  that   victory, the evil mages which accom-
is just  for those  who've  actually   panied  the war  trolls  called down
survived the damn thing."              great magic and distorted the  white
                                       marble image of the Swan Keep into a
"All right,  old one,  why is  it so   black, monstrous swan which looms in
hard to  get in? What exactly is the   a  horrific  pose  over the  land it
place?  What  lies  within?" I ques-   surveys," he concluded.
tioned, my curiosity at a peak now.
                                       "Yes, but what of its discovery? Why
He coughed for a moment, then leaned   has no one dared the ruins since its
forward  on his oaken staff, staring   initial  discovery?" I asked,  eager
into the fire.  "Well, you see, lad,   for adventure and excitement.
the Castle was built about 200 years
ago, as legend has it, by a powerful   "Ah, well the mages that were on the
Lord Fighter  from Zor. He fled here   Lord Fighter's side created a power-
with his  family and  remaining sub-   ful ward which banned  teleportation
jects when the Unlife struck at Zor.   magic  within the  castle  confines.
They originally left with the masses   The half-open drawbridge was  ruined
which quit Zor and founded Quellburn   beyond  repair,"  he  replied,  in a
but split  off in mixed decisions by   wheezing voice.
the leaders.
                                       "But  you  said  there  was  a moat.
"Soon after, the  Lord Fighter found   Couldn't one  swim  the moat to  the
a beautiful  land amidst  the  cruel   drawbridge and climb in?  Or what of
wilds. A  land where  no creature of   vines?  Surely one  could swim to  a
harm would dare set foot. He and his   strong vine  on the castle  wall and
people so  fell  in  love  with  the   climb it!" I  retorted, frantic  for
place that they set about erecting a   knowledge to help me.
castle and  a keep  to lay  claim to
their new  home. The keep itself was   "Well lad,  many in  this land don't
fashioned into  a great  marble swan   know the art of swimming, and  fewer
while the outer walls carried strong   still  survive the  tentacles of the
ramparts and a tall guard tower.       monster which lurks below the moat,"
                                       he  snapped  back. "That is why half
"The  castle stood for a great  many   of them  drown  in the first  place.
years, until the  Unlife learned  of   They just jump in  the moat and then
it and  sent legions  to attack. The   say, 'Whoops, I  don't  know  how to
Unlife heralded  its attack by call-   swim,' end of story."
                                    -4-                             More...
I realized my presumption and calmed   filled with  dark  green  algae, and
down. "I'm sorry. I don't wish to be   moss  lined   the  cracked   granite
rude to  you, wise  one. It's just--   walls. Surely  there was  no way  to
                                       climb up  the walls,  I  thought.  I
"Its just  that you  think you might   commenced walking around the moat to
know how  to get  in. You want to be   find a  sure hold  onto  the  castle
the one to lay claim to its  discov-   wall on  which to  climb  upward.  I
ery, as there are no maps available.   thought my  prayers to  be  answered
You want the credit," he said,  with   when I  caught glimpse  of a  strong
a big grin on his wrinkled face.       vine  which   clung  to  the  minute
                                       crevices within the giant wall.
"Well, yes. I suppose so," was all I
could respond with.                    Being  so  excited,  I  didn't  even
                                       think to take  care as I leaped into
"Ok, lad, then  mark my words. Those   the moat  and started  paddling  for
who did  make it  in could  not  use   the vines. Many  tremendous  bubbles
their magic  rings to leave. Many of   I  could  feel  beneath  me  from  a
them claimed experience  with Unlife   source  unknown.  Panic-stricken,  I
before  leaving the place. Take  any   reached the  vines  and  frantically
precaution you can before going in,"   tried  climbing them, only  to  find
he said, leaning back. As I watched,   that they  broke  half  way  up  and
he fell asleep against his staff.      plunged me  into the  waters  again.
                                       Suddenly  a massive  black  tentacle
I quietly  left the inn and returned   grabbed  my leg and pulled me under.
to town with a plan. I stashed  away   Screaming  with   fear,  I  let  out
all of  my silvers  within the bank,   almost all  of my  air supply  under
as I  figured they  would  interfere   the water. Now completely terrified,
with any  swimming attempts  I made.   I broke free of the beast which held
Then I  considered what  I would and   me under  and swam to the surface. I
would not need. I decided to take my   barely made it to the shore when the
blessed broadsword  and a  few wands   beast lurched  out of  the water and
at most  to keep me company, as well   dove back  in when it realized I was
as  the  usual  shield  and  leather   out of reach.
armour. I  carried a  small  magical
ring upon  my finger  just  in  case   After some time, I calmed myself and
trouble should happen outside of the   summoned my  courage to  continue. I
castle. After  packing up, I was all   don't know  if it  was stupidity  or
set. I headed out to the place where   stubborness, or both, which drove me
the castle was found.                  to go on, but I did. After surveying
                                       the area around the castle, I deter-
A sinkhole  near the  lower edge  of   mined  that  climbing the  walls was
what we  playfully call  Hobland led   impossible. I  was low in spirits as
me to the  other  side of  an under-   I sat next to the ruins of a  broken
ground  and underwater passage which   catapult at the edge of the moat.
ended up on a muddy path.
                                       I sat and contemplated.
I followed  the path  around a small
graveyard and  saw the  image of the   Then,  something  within  me -- the
evil bird for the first time.  There   Ranger's spirit, I call it--told me
it stood in the distance, staring at   I was missing something, but what? I
least three  stories above  me as if   knew the  answer was near. So close.
it were looking only at me. My heart   I leaned back for  a moment and  lay
skipped a  beat while  my mind raced   my head  upon the catapult's  broken
with the tales of horror which I had   basket.
heard of  this place.  I caught hold
of my nerve and continued onward.      "Catapult!" I  shouted. That was it!
                                       That mage, Qylux, spoke of two cata-
When I  came upon  the moat,  I  saw   pults!  Quickly I sprang  to my feet
that its  black  murky  waters  were   and looked around from the viewpoint
                                    -5-                             More...
a military commander. I was  looking   dark apparition, which began wailing
for  a hill.  After all, to hit  the   at me. Being  of the  8th year  as a
inside of  a castle you need a  high   Ranger,  I  learned  long ago  to be
point to get an easy vector for your   cautious of the unlife's minions, so
ammunition. I spotted  the  hill. It   I quickly found a door which led out
was actually a small hummock which I   of the  tower and found  myself atop
climbed, and there stood  the wooden   the ramparts of the  castle walls. I
beauty. This catapult  had not  been   continued my maps while keeping con-
harmed in the least except for vines   stant look out for any signs of evil
and flowers beautifying it.            that  would  dare  to  show. At  the
                                       northwestern end of the  ramparts, I
I thought to myself, "This has to be   found  the  only  suitable  place to
how everyone got in." I looked  upon   jump when I was ready to leave.
the catapult  and found  a crank and
turned  it eight times, then  jumped   I swiftly  made my  way back  to the
into the basket. All was fine except   guardtower, past the cunning appari-
I couldn't  reach the  pull rope  to   tion, and  down  into the  courtyard
trigger the catapult. Thinking fast,   again to face the ghosts which lived
I summoned a  friend by the  name of   there. After all, I was here  to map
Valerik via my skill of mental tele-   the place and warn of its dangers.
pathy.  Within  an  hour  or  two he
arrived, and  we were  set to redis-   I discovered the burned-out shell of
cover a place in Kulthean history.     the shed which the old magician told
                                       of, almost  as if he  had been there
He loosed the rope and I went flying   first hand! Indeed, the  entire area
up and  over the wall and  landed in   was a sorrowful, woe - ridden place.
the moat. Quickly, to avoid the moat   The next  thing to  explore  was the
monster, I swam  to shore and  found   keep  itself. I said my prayers as I
myself at  the southwestern  part of   walked up to the  black ebony  doors
the wall's outer edge. I returned to   and walked inside.
Valerik and the  catapult and  tried
again. This time we cranked it seven   The floor creaked with my every move
times, and I jumped into the basket.   and I began to feel uneasy. I felt a
                                       presence. A cold  dark presence  was
Once again  Valerik gave  the rope a   with  me within this  keep. Deciding
swift tug, and I  was flying  in the   that I  was  in danger, I took  only
air. This time I landed ungracefully   quick  sketches  of the  rooms,  and
on a pile of straw. When I stood up,   avoided the  rats and  spiders which
I realized that I was inside!          seemed to loom  all over. I made  my
                                       way to  an upstairs bedroom in which
After sending  to Valerik that I was   lay bloodied bedclothes and a single
alright, I  began taking notes of my   wooden wardrobe.
surroundings and  drawing crude maps
of the area.                           Hoping to  find some  small proof of
                                       my visitation to this place of evil,
Soon  afterwards, I heard a  ghostly   I opened the wardrobe and discovered
presence  warning me of the place. I   an opening  in its back.  An opening
turned quickly  to face the wretched   just the size of a person. Gathering
ghost of a  half - eaten  man  which   my  courage, I squeezed through  the
tried to no avail to  strike at  me.   opening and looked  upon a  wondrous
I felt  pity for the poor  creature,   glowing passage.
grabbed my blessed weapon and put it
at peace with itself. Then I went on   Suddenly, fear seethed throughout my
to explore this new area.              bones. I dropped my sword and shield
                                       and stood there frozen.
I walked  through the  courtyard  to
the guard tower. I entered the tower   "Sssoo, you would defy the powers of
and walked up a small broken  stair-   Black Swan!"  a cold  horrific voice
case and  came face  to face with  a   called from above me.
                                    -6-                             More...
I could move my eyes enough to see a   "You can't set rings inside of Black
ghastly spectre hovering by my face,   Swan  Castle.  A ward has prohibited
incanting a spell to cast upon me. I   it ever since the quest three months
summoned my inner strengths to break   ago. Can't ring in, can't  ring out.
free and managed enough energy in my   That's  how  come no  one ever  goes
panic  to remove my golden  ring and   inside. The only way out is to swim.
replace it upon my finger.             And swimming  is too dangerous  with
                                       the moat monster. So, as long as its
My surroundings shifted around me; I   not feasible  for me to go in there,
was  back in town square.  "Whew!" I   I'll never try it," he replied.
exclaimed as I  sat on a stone bench
and took a breather.                   "Oh. Yeah  I forgot," I commented as
                                       I began  to contemplate  using  that
"Whew, what?"  asked Mara  who  came   dastardly catapult again.
over and  sat beside  me to check my
injuries.                              "So Gilin,  where did  you just ring
                                       in from anyways?" inquired Mara with
"I barely  made it out of Black Swan   a fresh smile.
Castle alive. Guess I'll have to set
some rings for that location and map   "Hmmm? Oh,  one of  the rooms inside
more of it later."                     Black Swan.  A  specter  almost  got
                                       me," I answered.
"Can't do  that," replied a mage who
was sitting  across from  me leaning   I sat  there tapping  my  gold  ring
back against the giant oak tree.       when suddenly  that  ranger's  sense
                                       returned to  me. What  could  it  be
"Why not?" I inquired.                 trying to tell me this time?
/  \              Map of area surrounding Black Swan Castle               \
\_@|                                                                      |
   |                                [ ]                                   |
   |                                  \ (Climb Tree/Down)                 |
   |                                   \                                  |
   |                                   [A]----[A]----[A]                  |
   |                                    | ########### |(Climb Hummock/Down)
   |                                   [A]#         #[A]-----[B]          |
   |     (South eastern lower           | ########### |                   |
   |      portion of Hobland)          [A]----[A]----[A]                  |
   |        _                                  |               ______     |
   |       [ ]                                [ ]             /\_____\    |
   |        | (Down/Climb Trail)              /              / /     /    |
   |        |                        [ ]----[ ]             / /     /     |
   |       [ ]                       /           ___________\/_____/      |
   |       /                       [ ]         _/\     _____ // /         |
   |     [ ]   (Go                  |         / \ \ =!\     // /\\        |
   |       \    Sink hole)          |        | O | \ ^--===// /= \|       |
   |       [ ]>============<[ ]----[ ]        \_//\ \   \(@)))))) \       |
   |                                             / \ \_____________\      |
   |                                            | O |/_____________/|     |
   |     A = [MOAT ACCESS]                       \_/             \_/      |
   |                                                                      |
   |         To enter into the moat, GO MOAT.                             |
   |         To leave the moat, type SWIM SHORE.                          |
   |                                                                      |
   |     B = [THE CATAPULT]                                               |
/@ |         To use the catapult, GO CATAPULT.                            |
Swimming the Moat                      have never used the catapult before,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                      or if  you have added  items to your
Have at least 2  ranks of  swimming.   inventory. The  launcher must pull a
You must  be fairly unencumbered, as   rope  as soon as the rider is in the
well; otherwise, you will  drown and   launching basket. To get inside  the
die. Leave excess  coins in town and   basket, GO CATAPULT.
keep only the bare essentials you'll
need for survival.                     If you  are launched  into the moat,
                                       pay attention to where you land once
Using the Catapult                     you swim  out. If you land southwest
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                     of  the castle,  you are  too light.
This  contraption needs  2 people to   Either take  on some extra items  or
operate it, a  rider and a launcher.   silver, or lower the number of total
Wear  your shield and put away  your   cranks used to launch you.
weapons if you are the rider, as you
may be forced to swim.                 If you  are launched  into  the moat
                                       and come ashore  at the northern end
To operate the catapult, TURN CRANK.   of the castle, then lower your coin-
The  crank is located  on its  side.   age / inventory or raise the  number
Eight turns of  the crank wind it up   of cranks used to launch you.
completely.  The number of  turns of
the crank determines how far you are   Be  careful. You can crash into  the
thrown, based on how much you weigh.   castle wall, usually when you are on
Always start  with  8 cranks  if you   the heavy side.
/ \             Black Swan Castle: Moat and Castle Layout                \
\@|                                                                       |
  | [ ]----[ ]----[ ]  From anywhere within the moat, you can SWIM SHORE. |
  |  |  \   |   /  |       You incur a 15-second roundtime each time you  |
  | [ ]--[MONST]--[ ]      enter the moat. You also suffer CP loss each   |
  |  |  /   |   \  |       time the current drags you under and away from |
  | [ ]----[ ]----[ ]      your landing place.                            |
  |                                                                       |
  |        MONST =  If the moat monster drags you under, you must SWIM UP |
  |                        and then SWIM SHORE.                           |
  |                                                                       |
  |   [F]------[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ]  A [Straw Pile] Where you land |
  |    |                                |       when you are launched.    |
  |    |               (Go Shed)-[ ]    |                                 |
  |    |                         /      |   B [Guard Tower] GO TOWER      |
  |   [ ]     [ ]-----[D]-----[ ]      [ ]                                |
  |    |       | \___  |  ___/ |        |   C [Guard Tower, Inside] GO    |
  |    |       |     \ | /     |        |     STAIR to reach the tower    |
  |   [ ]     [ ]-----[ ]-----[ ]      [ ]    loft, which has 2 doors to  |
  |    |       |  ___/ | \___  |        |     the ramparts.               |
  |    |       | /   GHOSTS  \ |        |                                 |
  |   [ ]     [B]-----[ ]-----[A]      [ ]  D [Black Swan Keep] GO DOORs  |
  |    |     /                          |     to enter the Keep.          |
  |    |  _[C]                          |                                 |
  |    | /                              |   E DARK APPARITION             |
  |   [E]------[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ]                                |
  |      Go East Door                                                     |
  |                                                                       |
  |   F [Moat Jump] This is the only place that you can jump from to      |
  |     enter the moat and swim to safety. JUMP and then SWIM SHORE.      |
  |                                                                       |
_ |  *** Note that gold rings DO work now within the castle's confines.   |
/  \                  Black Swan Castle: Keep Interior                   \
\@ |                                                                      |
   |                     [G]                                              |
   |              Go     /  \                                             |
   |    [S]       Door  /    \         R = Giant Rats                     |
   |     |             /      \        G = Great Spiders                  |
   |     |            /       [G]      S = Specter (Drop/Immobilize Fear) |
   |    [X]         [G]---[G]  |       X = There is a hidden opening      |
   |     |Up/down         /    |         in here.  Open wardrobe and      |
   |     |               /    [R]        then GO OPENING.                 |
   |    [ ]-----[ ]----[G]    /                                           |
   |       Go       Go       /                                            |
   |       Door   Curtain  [R]                                            |
   |                        |                                             |
   |                       [R]                       N                    |
   |                        |  Go Arch               |                    |
   |                        |                    W - + - E                |
   |                       [ ]                       |                    |
   |                        |  Go Door               S                    |
   |                       \|/                                            |
   |                        V                                             |
   |                      To Courtyard                                    |
   |                                                                      |
   |                                                                      |
   | *** If other explorers find any secret or hidden areas not listed,   |
   |     please let me know. As yet, I've found no other secret passages  |
/@ |     than in the wardrobe room. --- Gilinfandorial, Ranger-at-Large   |
                         !                        !            (
                       _/ \_                    _/ \_        (    ^^ )
                       /   \                    /   \       (   (     )
                      |"""""|                  |"""""|     (_(__
                      |  I  |    ___ __ ___    |  I  |          (_(_(_
                      |     |    | |_||_| |    |     |                __
                      |     |   /\/\/\/\/\/\   |     |
                      |     |   |  __  __  |   |     |
                    I_I_I_I_I_I |  ||  ||  | I_I_I_I_I_I
    ^^              ~\~ ` ' ~/~ |  ""  ""  | ~\~ ` ' ~/~
                     ]] I I [[ ]] ] I  I [ [[ ]] I I [[
         __ __ __     |     |  |  __ __ __  |  |     |     __ __ __
         ||_||_||     |  I  |  |  || || ||  |  |  I  |     ||_||_||
         |      |   [[|     |] |  ||_||_||  | [|     |]]   |      |
         |  II  |  [[ |     |]]|   vvvvvv   |[[|     | ]]  |  II  |
         | |  | |  |~~|  !  |~~|  /\/\/\/\  |~~|  !  |~~|  | |  | |
    ___ _| |_ |_|__|__|_/^\ |  |  | I  I |  |  | /^\_|__|__|_| _| |_ ___
    | |_||_||_||_||||||/~~~\|__|__|______|__|__|/~~~\||||||_||_||_||_| |
    |                [[ I I ]]                [[ I I ]]                |
    \    I I I I      |  I  |  II II II II II  |  I  |     I I I I    /
     |                |     |   _____________  |     |                |
     |                |     |   |     |     |  |     |                |
     |                |     |   |    ^|^    |  |     |                |
     -Kaitlyn of Elanthia                    _________________________
 ____________        Monster Chronicles: Manticores & Threks
/ \ _____    \       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ~|_|~    |                 by Jarran Terraxx
  |  |~|     |
 _|  |~|  __ |
/@|  |~|__|| | Last month we took  a   stabbing  the victim  with  a deadly
\_/  ~~~~~~~ / look at  Hill Trolls.   stinger, has an OB of 75. With these
  ~~~~~~~~~~~ Now  let us  turn  our   three  attacks,  the manticore is  a
attention  to  a combination  of two   formidable opponent.
monsters: Manticores & Threks. These
two critters act as a pair and are a   The Manticore  also has  the ability
deadly combination.                    to get critical hits  rather easily,
                                       making it all the more dangerous  to
When  venturing into  the foothills,   fight alone. Even a fairly  weak hit
remember,  you are not dealing  with   can produce a critical and leave you
just  one potential  enemy,  you are   in  dire need of a cleric.
dealing  with  two equally dangerous
monsters.  Both are quite capable of   However, if you do have to drop your
taking you out of action for  a long   parry when fighting the Manticore in
while.                                 order to hit him,  remember  that as
                                       long  as  your  parry  is lower,  it
When dealing with  these two, please   leaves you  wide  open to  an attack
keep in  mind  that both are equally   from another Manticore or its deadly
capable of  hitting  you with almost   counterpart, the Threk.
the same chance  of success.  First,
however, we will take a look at what   The Threk is no less dangerous  than
is considered  the more dangerous of   the Manticore.  The  Manticore is  a
the two.  The Manticore.               level 9 monster, the Threk a level 8
Both types  of critters  will appear
very rapidly, and  sometimes in sets   The Threk has a DB of 50, putting it
of two, when they detect  someone in   very  close to  the  Manticore.  The
their area.  The Manticore is a very   Threk also has three  separate types
fast critter, capable of striking at   of  attacks.  Its weakest  attack is
you twice for every  one of your own   its charge,  which  has an OB of 30.
swings.  So as you can see,  playing   Its  second  form  of attack is  its
parry-tag (an expressions that means   claws, which comes with an OB of 50.
dropping your parry to  0, swinging,   This leaves its final attack, and by
then  parrying  up  again) will  not   far its most  dangerous:  the  bite,
work with the manticore.  It is much   which it has an OB of 70.
too fast for this particular method.
Instead, you have to be able to  hit   These two  make quite  a deadly pair
it while protecting yourself or else   of  monsters.  However, despite this
you will find yourself in need of  a   fact, you will find that both of the
cleric.                                monsters run quite often.  You  will
                                       find yourself chasing either of them
The Manticore  has  a  DB (Defensive   all over  the  foothills  trying  to
Bonus) of 55, making it a relatively   finish them off.
easy  critter to hit.  However,  its
OB (Offensive Bonus) does vary, from   As far  as  treasure goes,  the only
as 60 to  75, depending on which one   treasure the Threk has  is its thick
of its three attacks it uses against   hide,  which Jarlik the Furrier will
you.  The weakest of these  attacks,   pay 45 silvers  for.  The  Manticore
the  one  with the lowest OB, is its   on  the other hand, can carry better
swing, which has an OB  of only  60.   treasure,  ranging from single items
But  be  careful. It's still  strong   such as amulets, rings, and precious
enough to kill. The second attack --   stones,  to chests.  However,  it is
claws -- produces  an  OB of 70. And   quite  rare  to  find  a  chest on a
the  final  attack,  which  involves   Manticore.  More often than not, you
                                    -10-                            More...
will find  stones or nothing at all.   As for the Manticore,  it is no less
On the chance that you find nothing,   strange - looking.  The first  thing
do not be  discouraged,  Jarlik  has   that will alert you that one is near
been known to pay 35 silvers for the   you  is the rather disgusting smell.
tail of a Manticore.  Just make sure   making it nearly impossible for one
you are  very  careful when handling   to sneak up on you.
its tail; the stinger is still on it
and can cause you  some pain  if you   Upon spying one of  these creatures,
are careless enough.                   the first  thing that comes to  mind
                                       is that  it seems to  be made up  of
On the  descriptive  side,  both the   three  separate entities:  man, lion
Manticore and  Threks are two of the   and scorpion.
strangest looking creatures that you
will ever see. However, the Threk is   Its head looks very much like a mans
by far the easiest to describe here,   head, however (fortunately  for all)
so that is where I shall start.        it is not quite as intelligent.  Its
                                       face is that  of a wild  man and not
The Threk resembles  mostly a lizard   one to be  likely forgotten  anytime
of an extremely  large size.  Unlike   soon.  Its body  is that  of a lion,
its smaller cousins, the Threk is in   strong and  powerful.  Yet  its most
no way harmless.  Like some lizards,   bizarre feature,  is its  tail which
the threk has green skin, four legs,   resembles that of a scorpion. Making
a very  long tail, and a long snout.   this one formidable creature.
However, what  also makes this large
lizard   so  unique,  is  the   many   Many would think that its stinger is
and various  kinds of sharp teeth in   its most dangerous  weapon. However,
its maw. This is most likely why the   this  is  not necessarily true. The
Threk  prefer to attack  with  their   Manticore  will move  its stinger in
mouths.                                small  circles  in  an effort to get
                                       its prey focused  on it. Then,  when
Their skin is like most reptiles, in   the victim  has its attention locked
that  it's  basically  scaly.  It is   on the stinger,  the Manticore  will
also a big deterrent to its enemies.   strike out  with  fists  and  claws.
Any   opponents  foolish  enough  to   Although this feint can be dangerous
underestimate   this   creature   by   forgetting about that deadly stinger
trying  an attack  from behind, will   can be positively fatal.  Just  keep
find two surprises waiting for them.   in  mind  that the Manticore can get
One is its long  and  powerful tail;   critical hits rather easily with its
the  other  being  that  despite its   stinger.
large size, it is extremely fast and
capable of whipping  its head around   Despite the deadliness  of these two
to  snap at  you  with  its powerful   monsters, I  started  hunting  there
teeth...making  this  one  adversary   at level 6.  As long as you play  it
that you do not dare underestimate.    smart, you can hunt here too.
   /                                                                     \
   | THREKS: This odd creature looks unnatural, as though some wizard    |
   \___________________________ had been meddling with its shape.  It    |
    ________________________   \ looks like a large, 4-foot-long lizard, |
   /                        \   | with an uncomfortably large variety of |
   |  MANTICORES:           |   | teeth in its long snout.               |
   |                        |   \________________________________________/
   |  The first thing that   \___________________________________________
   |  strikes you about the manticore is its noxious smell. At first it  \
   |  appears somewhat like an unkempt lion, but after you wipe away the |
   |  tears brought to your eyes by its vile stench, you see that its    |
   |  head is more like that of a man, and it has a long segmented tail  |
   |  like that of a scorpion.                                           |
 ____________                 Becoming a Bard
/ \ ________ \                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ~|~|~~\~\ |               by Erion Kulsen
  |  |~|__/~/ |
  |  |~ __ <  |
 _|  |~|  \~\ |eing  a bard, can  be   and entertainers who also delve into
/@|  |~|__/~/ |rewarding, and one of   the realms of magic so as to benefit
\_/ ~~~~~~~~ /  the  most  enriching   themselves as well as any which they
  ~~~~~~~~~~~ experiences one  could   choose to call companions.  They are
have in GemStone.  Just about anyone   users of both the  essence and  arms
can successfully play  one.  All you   realms,  combining the  two so as to
need is just a little creativity and   become powerful  additions to almost
the expectations to  enjoy life as a   any adventuring party.  Drawing from
bard.  Many  who  decide  to  become   the essence  around  them  and using
bards, realize that this is the only   their  voice to  amplify and channel
profession  for  him/her,  wondering   this power, they can  weave powerful
why  in the world anyone would  want   songspells. They can then direct the
to play another profession.            songspell at any individual,  any or
                                       all  foes  in the room,  or use  the
Bards  are well-travelled  musicians   magic to benefit the whole party.
                           How to Become a Bard
Rolling:  I suggest  NOT training in   you would like.  It is not very cost
wands and directed spells.  For  me,   effective... so to speak.  For those
this was a  waste of  16 development   who  want A LOT of power points, you
stats.  It helped a bit at first for   will need a high Empathy.
hitting turtled monsters, (meaning a
monster that is parrying at its full   THE HARD WAY:  Roll a 98, 99 or 100.
defensive bonus),  but  later  on it   Then put your rolls in the following
will  not help you nearly as much as   order from highest to lowest.
  /                                                                      \
 |      EMpathy                                                           |
 |      REasoning         -----\                                          |
 |      COnstitution            \ Development Stats                       |
 |      AGility                 /                                         |
 |      Self Discipline   -----/                                          |
 |      STrength  --------------> High Potential (96+)                    |
 |      QUickness --------------> High Potential (96+)                    |
 |      INtuition                                                         |
 |      PResence                                                          |
 |      EloQuence  -------------> Prime Requisite  (Development Stat)     |
I know what you are thinking... "Why   will determine the  number of points
are Strength and Quickness so low on   you can  spend on skills.  You  will
the list ?"  Well first  off, if you   want at least  40 development points
want a lot of development points you   potentially and perhaps to start off
need HIGH development stats.           around  36 or so.  To  achieve this,
                                       the Potential Development Statistics
The key  here is, now  that you have   should  be at 90 or  better and your
the possibility of a large number of   Initial Development Statistics some-
power  points, you  will  need  HIGH   where in the mid 80's.
potentials  for  Development  Stats.
As  these Stats (CO, AG, SD, EQ, RE)   You also need  high potentials in ST
                                    -12-                            More...
and QU. An average of 96 for the two   because I wanted a 100 in EMpathy.
is good.  After all, you are leaning
more  towards magic instead of  arms   No  matter which  way you  put  your
in this case.  This is also a rather   numbers  into  ST, QU  and EM... you
difficult way to roll. Potentials do   will still need that 90+ average for
not always go as you would like ;-)    40  development  points to  place in
                                       your development stats.  Try  to get
EASIER WAYS: Perhaps  an easier  way   all potential  90's.  This  is  your
is if you receive 2 numbers that are   main  goal.  If you do not get close
96+ as well  as your 100,  is to put   to that, reroll again. If you do not
the 100  in EM  then your 96's in ST   have the 96 average  in ST and QU...
and  QU.  Another  variation  is  to   reroll.  Whether  or not you keep on
rearrange the order of  the stats by   rerolling if your EMpathy is low (90
putting  ST and  QU right  below EM.   - 97), is up to you.
This  will give you a  better chance
at higher potentials for ST and QU..   There  are different  variations for
though a lower  chance for the other   rolling what you  want, those I just
Development  Stats.  Mind  you,  any   mentioned are but a few. If you find
bard will receive an initial roll of   a way  that looks like it would work
90 in both EMpathy and EloQuence, if   better for you, then by all means.
you do not put in a higher stat than
the automatic  90.  Because of this,   RACE:  Any race  will do,  though  I
the 90 in EloQuence works for you in   would not suggest halflings, as they
all cases when trying to get 90's in   are very weak. It is also well known
your Development Stats.                that  fair  elves have  always loved
                                       music and posses  enchanting voices.
AN EASIER  WAY OUT:  Roll 2  numbers   Though, I  will admit  I am a little
that give a 96+ average, put them in   biased considering I am a  fair elf.
your  STrength and  QUickness stats,   High men  will give a  good STrength
respectively.  Put all the remaining   bonus  but a  penalty to  QUickness.
rolls from highest to lowest in this   Though, Half-elves  have all  around
order. RE, CO,  AG, SD,  IN, PR, EQ,   good bonuses, so if you can decide..
EM.                                    go for that race. Halflings would be
                                       VERY difficult to play, as they have
This way  leaves you open  to chance   a -20  to  STrength.  Go through the
for a lower EMpathy.. but it is much   rolling process once and take a look
less frustrating.  Trust me ;-)  but   at the Race Tables and decide before
I still  opted to roll the hard way,   you really begin to roll.
If you  want to be  really magically   you  a 10%  chance  of  learning the
orientated you  will have few  extra   spell.
development points for other skills.
The following is along those lines:    From there train in Body Development
  ________________________________     (3) when you can. If you have extra,
 /                                \    Runes (5) are good. During some time
|  Ranks     Skill           Cost  |   in your career, try to  get a couple
|  -----     -----           ----  |   ranks  in  First Aid (2), Perception
|    2       Edged Weapons    3/9  |   (2), Climbing  (3) and Swimming (2).
|    6       Spell Lists      4/*  |   (Numbers in parenthesis are the cost
 \________________________________/    for 1 rank per level in that skill).
Spells: Get 4 ranks if you miss your   If do not  wish to  concentrate that
roll. Any research points will carry   much on spells, then change  the way
over to the next try if you fail the   you train  in them.  Try 4 ranks the
roll.  Each rank in spells will give   first  time, 3  if you miss,  then 3
                                    -13-                (Continued Page 16)
 _______________       Scenes From the Inn (Conclusion)
/ \ ____    ____\      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| +|~| __ |~|+|              by Sean2 Lladd
  |  |~|/~~\|~| |
 _|  |~/~/\~\~| |
/@| _|__/  \__|_|ell Aleea, it looks   You know, it  really is too bad that
\_/_____________/ like  I eat  alone   their is  no guildhall in the  town.
tonight.  No,  no  ale for  me  this   Why? 'Cause things like this problem
night, perhaps a glass of that white   with young Miktors family don't have
wine you are servin' their lordships   to happen, and with an active guild,
over there with.  What's on the spit   they usually do not.
this night? Aye, that will do nicely
...just  have the cook  carve off  a   Most guildhalls would take an active
couple o'  slices  and whatever goes   interest  in the community they  are
with it.                               in. It makes good relations with the
                                       townspeople, mostly. It is also good
Ah, thank you lass, that looks fine.   for business if ya know what I mean.
And so do you, by the way. I noticed   Each hall usually  has two  or three
you have a new scarf, found yourself   permanently assigned members besides
a new fellow?  Oh-h, so that is what   the Guildmaster or the  Hall Master.
you  spent my tip on?  It looks very   Usually there  is at least  a couple
attractive.  Shows  off  them  saucy   of fighters, as well as at least one
eyes  of yours  right  nicely.  Now,   journeyman  level  healer.  The more
save them  looks for the youngsters,   active  the hall, the more personnel
the only thing I want to be flirtin'   get assigned to it as staff members.
with is this dinner.  Well now, that
is sauce for me, eh? Oh, be off with   Well, most  of them are senior guild
you,  you are spoilin' my  dinner...   members; fairly close to retirement,
Ouch! it was just a joke.              or  retired,  who want to  help  the
                                       guild as it helped  them earlier. As
Hai! Varnick! Kellmer! Come on over!   most  mercs do  not have much in the
Have a  seat here  lads,  I was just   way of family the guild is about all
finishin'  up  my dinner.  And  here   they  really  know.... the only real
comes  Aleea with  a  pitcher and  a   "home"  most of  them have ever had.
couple o'  mugs.  You are  a wonder,   Some are paying off  ransom debts or
lass. No, I'll stick to the wine for   probably working off a guild fine or
now...                                 judgement.  Those  guys  are usually
                                       assigned  to bigger  guild halls  so
Aye Kellmer,  you are right,  I have   as somebody can keep an "eye" out on
not  been around  much.  It has been   them.
fairly  quiet  as far as I have been
concerned.  Although, I  gather  the   Ransom?  Well, a ransom  is  usually
auction they had  held the other day   acknowledged by most merc companies,
stirred up some fun!  Heh, heh, heh.   well,  the  honest  ones  anyway, if
Myself, I've  been out on the cliffs   a mercenary is captured in battle or
down the coast a ways. Found another   if a company is forced to surrender,
enchanted  sword...aye, that  is  it   then the guild will cover the ransom
here.  Other than  that, it has been   for all the  captured or surrendered
kinda quiet for me.  How has it been   mercs.
with you lads?
                                       Why, I  even heard  about a group of
What is  that?!  Both the missus and   guildbonds who were hired to guard a
the new babe?  Miktor must be  goin'   merchant caravan  and ended up being
crazy  about now.  Has he taken them   captured!  That is right, the entire
to the healer's tent? Too expensive?   caravan, guards included! How? Well,
Aye, you  are right, it would be too   actually it was quite a plan. One of
much for a  lad  just starting  out.   the  teamsters was in the pay of the
Aye,  that young hothead  would  not   thieve's  guild and  put a  sleeping
take "charity" from anyone...          draught in the dinner pot and in the
                                    -14-                            More...
water barrel.  Ho, ho, ho...           children and such makes us, err, the
                                       guild, look real good.
Well,  at any  rate, the robbers had
captured the whole train, applied to   Another way the guild  helps  out is
the  merchant's guild  to ransom the   acting as impartial arbiters.  Well,
merchants,  and also applied  to the   most people in a town are born there
mercenarys guild to ransom the guard   live out their lives there,  and die
team. Oh the guild paid alright, but   there. Most all their relatives live
was not to happy about it. Seems we,   in that town, and them that  are not
er, the guild was the laughing stock   related by  blood are  often related
of the six nations for months.  I do   by marriage.  They are friends  with
not know what  the guild team had to   the rest.  Makes it  hard for people
do to work off the  ransom, but I am   to  not choose sides in  an argument
sure it was not pleasant.  Heh, heh.   over fence rights or field right-of-
I  do know that all  guard teams are   ways, you know what I mean?
now required to carry  all their own
supplies  as well  as eat separately   The guild is a neutral party. See, a
from  their  clients.  Sort of  like   merc never really makes friends in a
shuttin' the barnyard gate after the   town; most do not stick  around that
cows get out.                          long, and those mercs who do stay in
                                       one  place,  well, the townsfolk are
That kind of thing does  not usually   usually  a little wary  of us.  They
happen as most mercs would rather go   seem to have the same misconceptions
down swinging, but  it happens often   and notions that you fellows do, you
enough so  that there is  a standard   know, that all mercenaries are kill-
policy. Usually its entire companies   crazy lunatics.  Now I ask you, do I
that  the guild has to  ransom.  The   strike you  as a kill-crazy, infant-
company ransom is usually covered by   raping  lunatic?  Har,  har,  ver-ry
contract  and  the client reimburses   funny! Just for that Varnick you can
the  guild.  If it is  not  covered,   pay for the next pitcher!
then guild has an  entire company to
assign or collect profits from until   Well, of course we are friends! But,
the ransom is  paid off.  I know one   you  have gotta admit that Kelfour's
company, actually, the one I was in,   Landing is not your normal town. For
that  had to work bandit  patrol for   another thing, here I'm not really a
five years to pay off a ransom. That   merc,  more like just another one of
happened  a few  years  before I was   many adventurers.  No, the places  I
sold, uh, joined the company.          have been  telling you about are not
                                       even of this world... What is that?!
Hmph!  Where was I?  Oh yeah, takin'   Did I say that?  I meant to say that
a drink...Ah-h-h. What I started out   they're not even on this side of the
to  say was that most of the  active   world!  What else would I mean?  No,
halls have healers assigned to them.   no, truly, I misspoke myself.
Quite often,  it is a master  healer
with one  or even two journeyman  or   Ah, here is Aleea  with our pitcher.
apprentices. So? So most of the time   Pay up  Varnick!  Fill  up your  mug
these healers are not real busy.  So   Kellmer, the night is still young.
they have  free "clinics" for anyone
who needs their services.              Now then back to  where I was goin'.
                                       Well, perhaps  to wrap  it  all  up,
Most healers being the kind of folks   cause I think you boys can see where
they are, will  go  and  make visits   I am heading. My point is just this:
to families in the town if they hear   Mercenaries are not animals,  we are
of any troubles.  Why, it makes good   not killers-for-hire and we are most
sense!  If there is  a disease in  a   definitely  NOT  assassins.  We  are
village or town it is best to nip it   people, individuals with a desire to
in the bud, before it can spread and   see  the world, to have some kind of
cause an epidemic. You have to admit   adventure, and perhaps to  have some
lads, helpin'  the poor  and  curin'   fun  along the way.  Most mercs  are
                                    -15-                            More...
a bit standoffish, yes, but  that is    Becoming a Bard   (Cont'd from p 13)
because it is hard to leave on a job    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
where you might die if you've  loved    again if you miss again.
ones or family behind you. There was
something I remembered  reading by a    The spell list  you train in depends
philosopher who put it like this: "A    on your  preference.  Query 'SPELLS'
man who has a family  gives hostages    in the Tomes and take a  look at the
to fortune."                            Bard Base  List and the Open Essence
                                        List.  Both are very  good. However,
No, being a mercenary is a job, just    only  the Open Essence Spell List is
that.  It attracts a certain kind of    implemented  at  the  present  time.
individual.  Usually that individual    You can train in both lists, as some
is a loner, someone  with no family,    people  tend  to do;  or train up to
someone who has  to leave his or her    the 5th or 8th spell in Open Essence
past behind, for whatever reason. It    then train in the Bard List. Some go
is hard to put into words, lads. You    even higher in Open Essence, leaving
have got your family  and loved ones    training in the Bard List until they
and for you that's the way it should    reach the Lord Levels.
be, the way it is right.  A merc can
not be that way and most do not want    It is not written in stone on how to
to. Lots of mercs can not understand    create a character. All of the above
the reasons why you live the way you    is  my personal  opinion  and should
do, anymore than  you can understand    not be  taken as the  only way to do
why we live the way we do.              it. Try your own methods for rolling
                                        and training if you do not like what
Me?  Oh, I am probably  an oddity by    I have  suggested here -- although I
anyone's standard. I have no family,    believe the  above  information is a
but not by my choice, and after all,    good  place to  start.  However  you
fightin' is what I am good at,  so I    create and train your bard, trust in
might as well make a livin' at it.      this:  it can be one of the most re-
                                        warding  and  enjoyable  experiences
Enough though,  I am getting maudlin    that you can have in GemStone III.
again! I am who I am, and what I am,
just as you two are who and what you          @@          @@          @@
are.  As I said before, we  all need          @;;@       @;;@       @;;@
each other out here to survive...             @;;;;@    @;;;;@    @;;;;@
                                               @;;;;;@ @;;;;;;@ @;;;;;@
What's that racket? Why, its Miktor!            @;;;;;;@;;;;;;;@;;;;;@
Over here lad!  What is the problem?             @;;;;;;;@;;;@;;;;;;@
Whoa, lad, calm down now and speak a             @;;;;;;;;;@;;;;;;;;@
little slower.  The child is worse!!             @;;;;;;;@;;;;;;;;;;@    :
No, no, it  will be alright, I  give             @;;;;;@;;;;;;;;;;;;@   ::
you my oath!                                      @;;@;;;;;;;;;;;;;@   ::
                                          :        @;;;;;;;;;;;;;;@   ::
Varnick, Kellmer, go with Miktor and      ::        @;;;;;;;;;;;;@  :::
get  the wife and child  to Surtey's       ::        """;;;;;""""  :::
tent! I will stand good for it! Give        ::           :::      :::
him this sword as a pledge, and tell         ::          :::     :::
him that I  will  be along with  the          ::         :::   ::::
money, just as soon as  I get to the           ::        :::  ::::
bank!  No, no arguments, there is no            ::       ::: ::::
time!                                            ::      :::::::
                                                  ::     ::::::
Aleea!  Here is for the meal and the               :::   :::::
drinks. Of course I am going to help                :::  ::::
the lad!  I  will not  see any child                 ::: :::
suffer.  Not after  what what I went                  ::::::
through. I really must go lass,  but                   :::::
I will be back, never fear.                         \\ ::::: //
 _____________               Wilderness Report
/ \ ____  ____\              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ~| |  | |~ |          by D. Forrest Hobgoblin
  |  |~|--|~|  |
 _|  |~|--|~|  |
/@| _|~|  |~|_ |i ho, again! This is   Tangle-poo... errr... Brelga  wasn't
\_/ ~~~~  ~~~~ / D.Forrest Hobgoblin   impressed  _at_  all and she stormed
  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~  commin  atcha  from   out when she saw that the flies were
the wilds of Kulthea!                  the size of Torkans!
After  waken' up with this splittin'   So, I'm kicken stuff around and then
brain-cramp  the  other day, I found   I hear this CRACK, SPLINTER....WHOA!
meself headin' over to visit my good   I  fell right through the floor into
friend   Liz   at  the  Costal  Cave   this  wierd workroom filled with all
Estates.  I see you smellies like to   sorts  of  vials,  herbs  and little
vacation  there  as  well,  but hey,   gadgets.   But  before I could steal
what's  up  with those deRangers and   anything,  this shrimpy smElf popped
the cracks in the wall?                through  a trap door.  Luckily I was
                                       able  to duck under the table before
I  sees  this ranger guy puttin' all   she  saw  me!   So  after  a  bit of
sorts  of  things inside this little   whatchin  her  stare  out into space
niche   and   telling  some  mangled   (you  smellies are _so_ strange) she
healer  that it's a "Perma-Chest." A   walked  over to this BIG crystal and
what?   Ok, sos they leave and I get   touches  it  with both of her hands.
this idea...  I tip-toed over to the   Allovasuddenlike,  this ghod-awfull,
small  hole,  stuck  my hand inside,   ear-splitting, screatch screamed out
grabed  a  big 'ol handfull of stuff   and  just  about  riped my head off!
and..    Wonderfull,   my  hand  got   We hobs have very sensitive hearing,
stuck!   Like  I  tried  to pull and   y'know.    For   some   reason  this
twist  it  out  see,  but it was too   screatch  maked her really happy and
big!                                   she  left.   I thought I'd give it a
                                       try...   Why  not?   I  reached over
Finally,  that smelly beat-up healer   and..  BONG!  BONG!  BONG!...  BLAM!
comes back and starts laffin when he   So  much  for  _that_ thing...  If I
sees me.  "Here, lemme help you with   could  only  get my hair to lay flat
that,"  he  chuckled to me.  Thinkin   and to stop smoking!
that  these  healers are some pretty
sharp  fellas,  I  said "SURE!" BAM!   P.S.  Whoever taught that Healer our
WHAM!   As  I'm  layen there thinkin   mating  dance  should  be beatin!  I
about   how  I  really  didn't  want   keep  thinken'  its  Brelga and that
_that_  kind of help, he said to me,   hip-twist gets me killed everytime!
"Next time,  let  go of the junk and
yer  hand  will slip out, you feeb!"                    ,---,
Who  would  have  known?   So  I'm a                   | -/-|
little  greedy...  What _is_ a feeb,                  ,(__-_),
anyway?                                              /||    ||\
                                                    / |@\__/@| \
Brelga  and  I decided to go over to               / /|@@@@@@|\ \/
this  'ol  Inn  for  a  little flea-              ( ),|<<**>>|,( )
swapping   and   what   a  mess  you              '''          ```
smellies  have  left it!  *BLECH!* I                   IMLACH
mean,  we Hobs aren't that picky an'                   ~~~~~~
all,  but  when  I  went  to  make a              by Bugg Hornwort
sandwich  in  the  kitchen  I almost
passed  out from the smell!  Smelled    Imlach grew distressed and quite red
like a  Goblin's toenail!  <shudder>     For he misheard what Catrissa said.
You wonder why we call you smellies?            When she said to Miyu,
Sheesh!    Doesn't   anyone  do  the          "Yes it's true, of us two
dishes  anymore?   Needless  to say,       He alone has no skill to imbed."
 _________                       Illusions
/ \ _____ \                      ~~~~~~~~~
\@| ~|_|~  |                   by Simon d'Ker
  |  | |   |
 _|  |~|   |
/@| _|~|_  |t was a quiet day.  Lazy   asleep.  I am crazed. I AM diseased.
\_/ ~~~~~ / day. A day for exploring   Orcs do not smile, orcs do not  bow,
  ~~~~~~~~  and  experimentation.  A   orcs do not speak. Orcs are mean and
rarely  felt  little time  in life's   combative and stink (well, he  still
continuum.                             smelled  orcish).  My  mind  whirled
                                       through the possibilities of various
Relishing  the  feeling  of  freedom   explanations  and  the repertoire of
from survival mode, I chose to spend   responses.  I remembered the one orc
some time with a centuries-old spell   visitor in Kelfours  some time back.
book, now in my possession.            Was  there repercussions?  I had not
                                       heard.  Had not  asked.  Perhaps the
Opening  it  carefully, I  began  to   same, genetically unusual orc?
search the pages for that new spell,
the next goal in achievement.  After   "Hello orc," I finally responded. He
reading through many  possibilities,   sat down.  With  this orc being in a
I found it.  The Spell of  Illusion.   completely defenseless mode, I began
A weapon often used  throughout  our   to feel  more  curiosity  than  ani-
history  -  defensive in  nature but   mosity,  and  began  the  questions.
very  effective  when in combat with   "Who are you? Why are you so differ-
those enemies of some intelligence.    ent?  Where are you from?  Have  you
                                       ever  been  to the town of Kelfours?
It was a  simple spell,  very easily   How do your fellow orcs  respond  to
learned and added to the now growing   your congenial and passive  nature?
list  of  accomplished magic.  Done.
Learned.  Ready to be invoked.         He answered, and more.  I learned of
                                       his growing up, his  feelings isola-
Gathering  the  necessary arsenal of   tion, loneliness, his  goal of find-
weaponry and armor, I  headed out to   ing human friends and his banishment
the hunt.  Excited, almost giddy, at   from the orc tribe  to which he once
the prospect of surprising an orc by   belonged.  "No," he had  not been to
changing  size and  shape, perhaps I   Kelfour's Landing.  He talked  and I
could change into a black dragon.      listened.  He  answered and I asked.
It was quiet in the forest.  A tork,   His  goal  of human  friendship  had
not worthy. Karnelin, silly, stupid,   certainly been accomplished. I found
vicious - no, not yet.                 him intelligent,  although  verbally
                                       unskilled, generous, honest and very
I sat, my back  to a boulder, almost   brave.  I welcomed him  as a friend.
hidden, at a turn in the path.  Yes!   After many  hours  of sharing tales,
an orc.  Ugly, big, armored and with   the sun began to sink and I felt the
sword.                                 danger of  the night closing  in.  I
                                       explained that I must return. He was
I jumped out, swiped  at him with my   saddened, but understanding. He gave
sword, readied my  spell - and  then   his thanks for my  time.  As we were
stopped.  The orc had  not  returned   prepared to part, I  expressed frus-
the attack, had only defended.  This   tration at his predicament.
orc was not well - diseased perhaps.
Then the most, the absolutely  MOST,   "If only I looked on the outside how
amazing thing happened. The orc just   I feel on  the  inside, "  he  said.
smiled.  Smiled! at me!                Of course! I readied a spell, waited
                                       and  cast the  Spell of  Illusion at
He bowed and spoke, "Hello My Lady."   the orc.  My illusion image  was one
                                       of a most handsome,  virile fighter;
Now wait a  minute, I thought.  I am   silver hair, fair  complexion, human
                                    -18-                           More...
of course.  Again  and  again I cast  re-invoke the illusion. So, perhaps,
the spell in  his direction  until I  someday  when you  turn a corner and
was completely drained of power.  We  find me talking to an orc,  you will
still  meet  periodically  so I  may  smile -- and know.
                                Big Bad Mik
               by Bugg Hornwort, (In Service to Lord Kieron)
             Most evenings in Kelfours you can see him arrive,
             he stands six-foot-six, an' weighs two-forty five
            Kinda broad at the shoulder, and narrow at the hip,
   an' folks know if you're a halfling you don't give no lip, to Big Mik.
                  Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik.
                  He slipped into town in a pouring rain,
                 his only concern was quick financial gain.
           With a bad case o' greed and fingers lightning-quick,
          all the townsfolk soon learned to fear the name, of Mik.
                  Some folks say he came from Trelkinaark,
             where he used to light the Ice Kral Queen's spark.
            They say he likes women mean, and long-in-the-tooth,
         but only dead men have ever asked for proof, from Big Mik.
                  Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik.
                Then came the day when the alarm bell rang,
                 and shouts of "KEL!" rang out in seoltang.
                Clerics were prayin',  an' hearts beat fast,
      an' adventurers feared they'd soon breath their last, 'cept Mik.
            Through the blood an' debris of this kral-made hell
           slipped the shadow of a man that the folks knew well -
           grabbed a kral by the neck, an' squeezed out its life,
         while he gutted six others with his pocketknife, Big Mik.
                  Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik.
                Well he backed ten more up against the wall,
       But then the lights went out, an' he could feel himself fall.
               The next he knew he was in a kral ship's hold,
         with five other folks, an' one's stone-cold, but not Mik.
                 There was Xura, an' Palma, an' Penna too,
              And Llorien, all recruited for the Ice Kral zoo.
             With just a net and a dagger they soon broke free,
         and they killed every kral that they could see. With Mik.
                  Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik.
              For the warfaring Kral it was a black, black day
                 as fifty more warriors met a watery grave.
         So they took the ship, and could have sailed to the dock,
         but instead chose to park it on a great big rock, did Mik
            Now, they say in the midst of the Thieves Guild lair
                  is a Kral figurehead made into a chair,
             An' the thieves' guildmaster has a heart of gold,
     (but you know it's someone else's, that he stole). But that's Mik.
                  Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik.
                  That's Mi-ik, Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik.
 ____________      Healing Thyself: Herbs in the Field
/ \  ______  \     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| /~/~~\~\ |             by Alyssya Sandorala
  ||~|    |~||
 _||~|    |~|| ne  of the  important   of us  find  beyond  our  skills  to
/@| \~\__/~/ |  aspects  of life  in   tend-- gashes  and serious  bleeding
\_/  ~~~~~~  /  GemStone  is  having   and deep  lacerations. It  also  has
  ~~~~~~~~~~~  herbs  and potions to   virtue for  such wounds  to the eyes
cure your  ills if  a healer is  not   as blinding  and swelling.  Purchase
present when you get hurt. I tend to   of this herb will get you two doses,
explore our  world in the wee hours,   and it  runs to  the expensive side.
and it is not often that I am fortu-   My latest quote was 900 silvers, but
nate enough to find a healer  when I   believe me, it is worth every silver
really  need one! Syiah Kintaru, the   when you  are bleeding  to death  in
herbalist, has  at times  seemed the   the field!
best  of companions to me. His house
is located  NE, E, E, E, E, E, S, E,   Third  on  my  "must-have"  list  is
Go House, from the Town Square.        Arfandas Stem  for healing  of major
                                       injuries to your head. Use this herb
The herbs on my basic list are those   when you  are bleeding from the ears
I feel  are most  useful for a newly   or  have   lacerations  and  a  mild
arrived  adventurer, for  whom  a 2-   concussion. These injuries also tend
concussion point per round (2 / rnd)   to be beyond the skill of most of us
bleeding  wound   is  indeed   life-   to tend  in the  field. Purchase  of
threatening! All of these herbs will   this herb  will give  you two doses,
leave behind them some  other injury   and the  latest price  I was  quoted
to be  healed  but  will  stop  that   was 562 silvers.
bleeder before it stops you.
                                       The final  herb on  my basic list is
By far  the most  common injuries  I   for those of us who use magic of one
have seen are fractured and bleeding   kind   or   another.   Overextending
limbs. The  monsters around  Kelfour   yourself in  the field  can be  more
seem  to  delight  in  smashing  our   than an  inconvenience.  It  can  be
bones and  making us bleed to death.   deadly if that nervous system injury
I wonder why?  After  all, aren't we   prevents you  from ringing  back  to
just trying  to  make  the  world  a   town or  searching a  dead  foe  for
better place to live in?               booty! Belrama Potion will help with
                                       uncontrollable    convulsions    and
My choice  for the  most useful herb   sporadic convulsions.  Purchase gets
to have in the field  would, without   you four  doses, and my latest quote
question, be  Edram Moss. This lowly   was 450 silvers.
dried moss  is  the  first  line  of
defense against those nasty compound   Many young  characters will  balk at
fractures and  severed  limbs.  (Not   the expense  of these  herbs and the
"missing"--that's different.)  Edram   space they  take  up  on  your  item
Moss comes in four doses and is well   list. But  believe me, when you tote
worth the price; the latest quote to   up the  cost of  the experience  you
me:  562 silvers. It is useful  only   have gained  so far  and the cost of
for fractured  and bleeding  or sev-   the equipment you just lost when you
ered limbs. Don't waste your time or   died in  the field,  the  price  and
silvers  using it for other  things.   item   usage    seem    much    more
I believe that necks are  considered   reasonable. In  the case  of  herbs,
limbs  for this purpose, but I'm not   the homily,  "An ounce of prevention
entirely certain.                      beats a  pound of  cure," takes on a
                                       whole new meaning.
Next on  my list of herbs is Pasamar
Grass.  This   herb  is   especially   Carry  your   herbs   in   a   pouch
valuable  since   it   heals   those   specially  designed  for  that  use.
irritating torso  injuries that many   Herb pouches  are available  at  the
                                    -20-                            More...
General  Store   (SE  of   the  Town   field will  do no  good if  you  get
Square) for  a nominal cost. You can   killed while eating the herb.
wear this  pouch on  your  belt  for
ease of access.                        Here is a recap of the herbs in this
                                       article. Remember, the price you pay
Using herbs  in the  field  requires   will differ. The herbalist's charges
caution and preparation. Most times,   are based  on profession and trading
eating the  herb will  cause a round   skills. For reference, my profession
time (plus taste REALLY bad!), so be   is thief, 12th level, with 6 ranks
prepared for  it. Be  sure to  parry   of trading.
100, and  don't sling your shield to
get  the  herbs  from   your  pouch!   For those  of you who, like me, wish
Sheathe your  weapon instead!  There   to delve  further into the mysteries
is a  much lighter  penalty to  your   of healing for the non-healer, there
defensive ability  than if  you wear   is an  excellent list  of herbs com-
your  shield. If you  have time, get   piled by Lord  Caretaker D'Boldhomme
to someplace safer, or  at least out   available  as part of  Zepath's Maps
of the  room  the  monster  you  are   in the  GemStone  Library (page 930,
fighting is in. Round times for herb   selection #8). Using  this list, you
usage depend  on the severity of the   can  become proficient in the art of
injury and  the type  of herb eaten,   FULLY  healing  yourself,  including
and can  vary from  8 seconds  to 40   those nasty scars that seem to  crop
seconds!  Healing  yourself  in  the   up all the time!
    / \          Herb           Area                Cost    Dose      \
   | @/_______________________________________________________________/
   |         Edram Moss     Limb / Neck (?)         562      4       |
   |         ~~~~~~~~~~                                              |
   |              Fractured and Bleeding      Severed                |
   |                                                                 |
   |         Pasamar Grass    Body/ Eyes            900      2       |
   |         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                           |
   |           Gashes and Serious Bleeding    Blinded (eye)          |
   |                      Deep Lacerations    Swollen (eye)          |
   |                                                                 |
   |         Arfandas Stem          Head            562       2      |
   |         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                           |
   |               Bleeding from the Ears      Lacerations           |
   |                                Mild Concussion                  |
   |                                                                 |
   |         Belrama Potion  Nervous System         450       4      |
   |         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                          |
   |             Uncontrollable Convulsions    Sporadic Convulsions  |
   |  _________________________________________________________________
   | @\                         HAPPY HEALING!                         \
    / \                           WEDDED BLISS?                        \
   | @/----------------------- by Bugg Hornwort -----------------------/
   |                                                                  |
   |                      Imlach and Catrissa have wed.               |
   |                 Doubtless years of sweet bliss lie ahead,        |
   |                       If one rule they hold dear                 |
   |                      As the months turn to years:                |
   |                    NO POINTING and LAUGHING in BED.              |
   |  @\----------------------------------------------------------------\
 _____________          The Looking Glass War, Part 2
/ \ _________ \         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ||=|=|=|| |           by Lord Gallenod Varynesti
  | ~~ |_| ~~ |
 _|    |_|    | he battle raged over   The marshal  seemed  satisfied  with
/@|   _|_|_   | me. There was  some-   that answer. "Ah," he  said, "a wan-
\_/__________/  thing  odd,  though.   dering  mercenary. Mayhap  you would
All  the  combatants  seemed  to  be   care to join in our event?"
using  practice  swords. Behind me I
saw  no   sign  of  the  portal  I'd   "It  would be  my honor," I replied,
fallen through.                        bowing.  The  other  two  bowed   in
                                       return and  led  me to a  camp  less
A  practice  battle? I  studied  the   than a mile away.
combatants. They had  some skill but
seemed stilted  in their  movements,   Something was  wrong, but I couldn't
as if they weren't  really trying to   quite put my finger on it. I assumed
harm each other. Their weapons  were   I'd pitched through the mirror  into
some type of  light  cane, and their   whatever  scene  the mad  astrologer
armor  ranged from patchwork leather   was viewing.  Wherever that was.  Or
to serviceable chain  mail. A motley   whenever. How would I get back? Then
crew, they were.                       I remembered something else.
One of  them noticed me  and charged   The gnome  had  spoken to  the troll
over, waving his toy sword and yell-   about  sending someone else through.
ing, "For King Richard!" I now had a   To change  the course of  history by
dilemma,  for  I was  carrying  real   killing some or all of these people.
weapons and  did not wish  to injure   Practice  weapons.  If  they  didn't
him if this was only a mock combat.    have  anything  more  than  that,  a
                                       single  black stalker could mow them
He swung.  I parried  with my shield   down like summer wheat, let alone an
and  slashed  at  his  sword. Finely   armed squad. I shuddered.
honed  shaalk went through  the cane
like a hot knife through butter.       The marshall  turned out to  be Lord
                                       Roland  of Canterbury, an officer in
My opponent  seemed stunned at this    the  service  of one  Baron  Geoffry
turn of events. He stared dumbly at    Wulfstan.  I was led into  the camp,
the hilt  in his  hand. "Whoa!"  he    where  I  overheard  several  people
cried.  Then  he  called, "Foul!" A    comment on  my  shield.  Apparently,
man in chain mail bearing a  simple    the eagle was the emblem of a knight
staff hurried to where we stood.       in the rival Middle Kingdom.
"My apologies," I began, as the mar-   We  halted  before a  large tent. "I
shal reached us. "You  did not allow   shall  announce  you to  the Baron,"
me  time to  warn you that I  had no   said Lord  Roland, who then  entered
suitable weapon for this combat."      the tent. I was alone with Michael.
"Oh,  my  apologies,  good  sir," he   "That is a  fell weapon you  carry,"
replied. "You  were on  the field. I   Michael said pleasantly. "I've never
dids't take  thee for a scion of the   seen one that sharp."
Middle  Kingdom. I am  Lord  Michael
Stonehold  of  the  Eastern Kingdom.   I smiled. "Yes, it  is  my  personal
You have the advantage of me, sir."    favorite. You  appreciate  fine wea-
                                       pons, then?"
"Gallenod Varynesti," I replied, "of
Kelfour's Landing." I didn't mention   Michael  sighed. "Yes,  but I cannot
my own  title, as I had  no idea  of   afford such. And all we may use here
the local politics. "I am newly come   are those that will not injure. Real
to these parts, and I seek  informa-   blades are not allowed."
tion." That was true, at least.                                     More...
"You have no real weapons available,   some  experience  with duels."  With
then?" I asked.                        that, Michael  handed me  a practice
                                       sword and I turned to my opponent.
"Only  a  few,"  he  replied.  These
people were truly defenseless. Aside   Lord Roland turned out to be reason-
from a  few crudely  crafted  staves   ably competent, but  he had a  habit
and  swords,  they  had  nothing  to   of pulling his blows. As though he'd
fight  with.  Probably  to   prevent   never  fought with  real  weapons. I
actual  bloodshed  between  the  two   remained  on the  defensive, content
rival kingdoms  at this  tournament.   to  evaluate his style. After a  few
The crafty gnome had picked his time   exchanges, our eyes met.
and place well.
                                       "You toy with  me, sir," he  panted.
The Baron  arrived shortly. He was a   "It does  you no honor.  Attack and
powerfully built  man wearing  spec-   have done with it."
tacles  of  a  type  I'd never  seen
before. His chain  mail was  of good   I nodded. It  seemed I  had insulted
quality. I bowed.                      him  in some way. "As you wish, Lord
                                       Roland. I simply wished to  take the
The  Baron  regarded  me  carefully,   full measure of your skill."  Hoping
taking in my  armor and the  weapons   that  would mollify him  somewhat, I
protruding  from my knapsack.  Espe-   moved in.
cially  my shield.  "So,"  he began,
"you've just  wandered in to see our   He defended gamely, but I drove  him
little war, goodman?  Have you  much   slowly  back. Forcing  him almost to
experience with these combats?"        the edge of the  clearing, I  struck
                                       with a  quick  combination:  driving
I smiled. "I have some small experi-   his shield  down with mine, I landed
ence with combat, milord Baron."       a  solid  blow  where  his  shoulder
                                       joined his neck.
"Woulds't thou  care to  demonstrate
your prowess, sir?" the baron asked.   "Hold!"  yelled  the  Baron.  Roland
"Against Lord Roland, perhaps?"        bowed to me,  which I returned.  The
                                       Baron  hurried  over,  adjusting his
"If thou  woulds't explain the rules   spectacles as he walked.
of  engagement  to  me,  milord,"  I
replied,   copying   his  manner  of   "An  amazing display  of  swordsman-
speech, "I'd  be  honored  to  cross   ship,  sir!"  the  Baron  beamed. "A
swords with Lord Roland."              clean kill  with one  blow!  Roland,
                                       there is  no dishonor in  losing  to
The  baron nodded and  motioned Lord   this man."
Michael  to my  side. "Lord  Michael
shall second thee, and explain  what   "Aye,  milord  Baron," said  Roland.
thou shoulds't know."                  "He  could  beat   Prince  Alexander
                                       himself, I'll wager."
Michael took me aside  and explained
the  rules, which  seemed safe, if a   The name rang a bell. "That wouldn't
bit restrictive. He also had a warn-   be Prince Alexander Blalock?"
ing  for me.  "Gallenod,"  he  whis-
pered,  "Lord Roland  is one of  the   "Indeed," replied the  Baron. "Dos't
best   fighters   in   the   Barony.   thou  know him?  He carries a shield
Be careful."                           very similar to yours."

This would prove  interesting, then,   "I   regret   we've  never  met,"  I
as I could measure the skill of  one   replied.  "But I  have a  feeling we
of their  better  fighters  while, I   will meet very soon."
hoped, establishing  my  own reputa-
tion. I winked  at Michael. "Not  to   The Baron  chuckled.  "Well, welcome
worry,"  I  whispered  back. "I have   to  the  Pensic   War,  Gallenod  of
                                    -23-                            More...
Kelfour's Landing."                    ing knife, a marvel of  forging. And
                                       one or  two other  things, like  the
Pensic  War?  The   Baron  may  have   silver bird in the sky and the drink
spoken truer than he knew.             they called "Coke."  I had a feeling
                                       I wasn't on Kulthea any more.
Baron Geoffry offered  me the hospi-
tality of  his camp for the duration   I decided  to try  an  experiment. I
of my stay. The food  was excellent,   cast Hues on myself. Yes, the  magic
though  some of  the beverages  were   still  worked. But  several  minutes
new to me.  There were several fizzy   later, the  power had  not returned.
drinks described as various types of   There was no  essence in this place.
soda.  I'd  never  heard  the  names   None. I  had  a  small  reserv e  of
before, though.                        magic,  as long as my personal power
                                       held out, but apparently no more.
There  was   something  wrong  here.
Somehow,  these  people  didn't seem   No essence!  Which meant no healers,
quite right  for this  setting.  And   mages or clerics. No wonder I'd seen
then  there was  the large  bird I'd   no magic being performed. Even minor
seen   earlier.  It  flew  at  great   magics  were   impossible   here.  I
height but  in a straight line.  And   sighed. It  seemed I would never get
never flapped its wings.  My compan-   home now.
ions  seemed  unimpressed  by  this,
though, so I took no alarm.            The  day  of the  tournament  dawned
                                       bright and cheery. Michael helped me
I spent  part of  my time  searching   with the  entrance requirements, and
for  some  sign of  the astrologer's   I settled down  to the  business  of
minions, but  found nothing. If they   combat.  As  the day  progressed, so
were here, they were well hidden.      did I. Only  two  others  seemed  to
                                       have  skill  beyond  common  in  the
Baron  Geoffry asked  if I  might be   group.
interested  in   competing  in   the
single  combat tournament to be held   One was Prince Alexander.  He fought
the next day.                          in a style similar to Lord Maruko's,
                                       using a katana - like sword. He  was
"Will Prince Alexander be there?"      never   seriously   challenged.  His
                                       shield looked much like mine, though
"Most assuredly," replied the Baron.   the  eagle was less - detailed and a
"He has won the event the last three   slightly  different shade  of brown.
years.  I wish  you  God  speed  and   Perhaps mine was an embellishment of
swift  arm  if you  meet  him."  The   the original design.
Baron smiled as  though he suspected
why I sought to meet the Prince.       The other was  a tall knight dressed
                                       entirely in  black,  bearing a  two-
However, no  petty  vengeance or de-   handed  sword and wearing a  visored
sire for  fame  lay in  my  heart. I   helm. He  was named  only "The Black
simply  wished  to  meet  a man  who   Knight" in the lists. After watching
might  become  a legend.  And  whose   his first fight, I knew I had  found
life was at risk.                      one of the  gnome's minions: a black
                                       stalker.  The   fighting  style  was
As I lay in my bedroll that night, I   unmistakable.
noticed  a   light  in  the   woods.
Quietly I investigated. It was a man   "Water,  Sir Knight?"  A young woman
carrying a  metal tube with  a light   in a dark blue gown offered a jug.
shining from the end. He reached his
camp and  the light went out  with a   "Please, milady."
faint "click."
                                       As I drank, I looked at my server. A
A mechanical  device  that  produced   short lass, with dark brown hair and
light? I  remembered Michael's hunt-   eyes.  Not the  prettiest  girl  I'd
                                    -24-                            More...
seen here, but she  had some quality   As we circled each other, I resolved
that attracted me nonetheless.         to be careful.  There were wrappings
                                       around  the stalker's  sword,  but I
"My  thanks,  milady," I  said  as I   was sure it was real underneath. And
handed  the jug back. "I'm Gallenod,   I did not  wish to  kill this  crea-
formerly  of Kelfour's  Landing. You   ture,  though I  had no idea  how to
have the advantage of me, milady."     get it to show me the way back. Even
                                       if I  captured  it,  I  would  learn
She blushed. It was a  lovely sight.   nothing from it.
"Lady  Stephanie Thorncroft, at your
service. What  an unusual  name  you   The stalker  seemed  puzzled  by me.
have. Where do you come from?"         Its whirling attacks, which had con-
                                       fused the other fighters, never came
Not  knowing where I  was, I  impro-   close to  me. It was  getting  frus-
vised.  "From the North,  milady." I   trated. Then I  struck it a blow  on
hoped that would satisfy her.          the leg. The marshal yelled "Hold!"
"Scandinavian?" she asked. I nodded,   I did.  The stalker didn't. Whatever
without  any idea what she was talk-   fragile control  the astrologer  had
ing about. It seemed to satisfy her.   imposed  finally  snapped,  and  the
"You're in the final four," she said   stalker backhanded the  marshal with
with a smile. "You must be very good   its sword.  Fortunately for the mar-
at this."                              shal,  that  was  still  wrapped. It
                                       just  knocked  him  ten feet  into a
I   nodded  again,  not  immediately   pile of armor.
realizing that she was  referring to
the  tournament. It must  have  been   I discarded  my  practice  sword and
those brown eyes.                      drew  my rapier. The stalker  ripped
                                       the padding  from its  sword and the
"I face the Black Knight in the next   helm from its head. Its inhuman fea-
round." I  looked  forward to  that.   tures contorted in the bright sun as
The  stalker was in for  a surprise.   it gave out an unearthly wail.
She shuddered. "Something about that   A horn answered.  Someone  screamed.
knight worries me.  He never speaks.   I heard weapons clashing. Real weap-
Just swings that huge sword like the   ons. The  attack  began in  earnest.
Grim Reaper.  He's  knocked two  men   Some Pensics with real  weapons drew
out cold today. Be careful."           them and  rushed to  defend.  Others
                                       fled as orcs moved into the camps.
Yes,  I'd noticed  that the  stalker
was very restrained. The  astrologer   I needed to deal with the stalker. I
must have laid a heavy geas upon it.   cast  some defensive magic; its eyes
I stood as my name was announced and   narrowed, then it  rushed me. In ten
smiled to Lady Stephanie.              seconds, it was dead.
"Not  to worry,  milady. I  shall be   The orcs  met more  resistance  than
careful." Then an impulse struck me.   they'd expected. As orcs fell, other
"Would milady allow  me to carry her   Pensics  picked up their weapons and
favor into the  lists?  I would con-   joined the  fray.  Prince  Alexander
sider it a signal honor."              led the defense. He  was quite good.
                                       He might  have actually  beaten  the
She smiled, and blushed  again. "Oh,   stalker on his own in a fair fight.
but it  would  not  be right.  We've
just  met."   However,  she  took  a   Then I  heard a scream  to my right.
scarf from her dress which I tied to   Three orcs  advanced  on a  group of
my sword  arm. I hoped the events to   women. One was Lady Stephanie. I ran
come would  not bring  harm to  this   towards  the group,  knowing I'd  be
lady. I bowed  and went  to meet the   too late to save them.
Black Knight.                                             (To be concluded)
 _________                     My First Death
/ \ _____ \                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ~|_|~  |                  by Shiloh Strong
  |  | |   |
 _|  |~|   |
/@| _|~|_  | doubt  if any  remember   a scream, she  smoked for a bit, and
\_/ ~~~~~ /  the mage  that went  by   then lay silent.
  ~~~~~~~~ the  name of  Gandalf, or
perhaps Finrod?  I suppose you could   Finrod and Gandalf  shook  hands and
say they were my mentors. I traveled   slapped each other on  the back as I
with them constantly and they taught   searched  the burnt remains  of  the
me the way of  life in Kulthea.        Nymph.  Suddenly, another  Sea Nymph
                                       came charging into view and attacked
One day, many  months ago, I was out   Finrod. He parried and then counter-
traveling  with them towards Nymphs,   attacked. While this was going on, I
which, at the time  was our favorite   had  found  flowing robes, a dagger,
place.  We all  pretty much kept  to   ten silvers and a Golden wand on the
ourselves for most of the long trip,   remains of the dead Nymph.
as we  had traveled this path many a
time and could  walk it blindfolded.   I thought I had seen Gandalf use one
We finally came to a road and headed   of these wands before, it  could not
along its path. Before long we could   be that hard.  I glanced over  at my
see  the ocean, it  was a  beautiful   friends.  The Nymph  had  succeed in
sight,  the  waves crashing  against   hitting Gandalf, and he had a slight
the cliffs below. Yet,  there seemed   cut  on his  left  arm, but  nothing
to be no Nymphs in sight.              serious.  Finrod was  still fighting
                                       the  Nymph,  and no one  was able to
"NYMPHS!" Finrod  yelled  at the top   gain the upper hand.  I quickly made
of his lungs.                          my decision  and  put my Drake in my
                                       backpack, snatching up the wand, and
We often  called  out challenges  to   waving it at the Sea Nymph.
our enemies, it was  one of our more
favorite pastimes that dated back to   Right away I knew that something was
when we had hunted rats.               wrong, the Nymph did not  explode or
                                       freeze or anything, yet the wand had
We marched back  and forth along the   vibrated  slightly.  Gandalf started
trail  waiting for  a Nymph to climb   screaming something at me, but I was
up from the waters below.              not able to hear  him, all my  focus
                                       was directed on the wand. Suddenly I
"This is boring."  I complained with   felt  excruciating pain  run up  and
my newbie wine.  The others  ignored   down my arm. I saw the wand flare up
me and continued our search.           and fire slowly consumed my hand.  I
                                       screamed and tried to drop the wand,
Suddenly,  a Sea  Nymph of  striking   but the fire continued up my arm.  I
beauty made her way out of a crevice   fell to the ground and rolled as the
right below my feet.  Gandalf  began   flames  consumed  my arm.  Finally I
gesturing  into the air and mumbling   was able to  put out the flames, and
some  magical  mumbo  jumbo.  Finrod   tried  to inspect my arm to see  how
attacked with his Falchion as did I.   much damage  had  been done.  My arm
Finrod  landed a crushing  blow that   was completely gone.  I screamed and
sent the Nymph  reeling  in pain and   suddenly  felt lightheaded,  I could
confusion.  I quickly swung my Drake   not move or talk.  I just sat on the
Falchion  but missed.  The Nymph was   ground  and screamed for  someone to
still  trying to  see straight, when   help me.
Gandalf let another searing  ball of
light fly from  his fingertips.  The   Gandalf ran to assist me, but I knew
blast struck the Nymph square in the   it would be too late, if I could not
chest knocking her back  a couple of   find a  healer soon  I would  surely
yards and landing on the ground with   die.  I felt  an  overwhelming peace
                                    -26                 (Continued page 32)
                      The Battle for Black Swan Castle
 _____________        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
/ \ _________ \              by Mordstrom Parthus
\@| ||=|=|=|| |
  | ~~ |_| ~~ | he last dregs of the   of this quest  and its  tactical im-
 _|    |_|    | damp   night     air   portance.
/@|   _|_|_   | gently  fell from  a
\_/__________/  clear  azure  sky. A   Swan  Castle had once been the pride
chill   morning    breeze    quickly   of all Kulthea. Gedralis' father had
cleared the remaining wisps  of  fog   given  his life trying to defend it,
as  the  clinking  of  metal  echoed   and its loss had  been  one  of  the
between the wooden palisades of  the   darkest  days  in the history of the
town  and  the  forest rearing up at   lands.  Renamed Black  Swan  Castle,
the foot  of  the  valley.    Horses   it  now  stood  as a monument to the
stamped and pawed  the  ground  with   power of the  evil  forces  that be-
indignation at having been  awakened   seiged  them all.  It was a monument
so early, making their  masters mis-   that could no  longer  stand unchal-
erable as they  tried to  run off to   lenged.  If the  enemies  of Kulthea
play in the dew-soaked grass.          would keep Black Swan, they would be
                                       made  to pay  dearly  for the privi-
A  small  force  of  men  and  women   lege.  But at what cost?
grimly went about  the  business  of
preparing  for  battle  --  checking   Shaking himself  from  his  reverie,
armor and weapons,  stowing  healing   Gedralis  waved   to  a  silver-clad
herbs, and  tying bedrolls.  Several   knight who was  being blessed  by an
men  surrounded   an   open   wagon,   elegant   woman  in   flowing  white
grunting  and  straining  to get the   robes.  A soft blue  glow tinged the
ropes tight around a load  of  tents   knight's armor, making him look like
and gear.    Their  soft  mutterings   a piece  of  overly-tempered  steel.
punctuated the hush of the  morning,   Lintaqu waved back, trying delicate-
fuelling  the growing  tension  that   ly to avoid  the robed woman's cast-
coursed through each person.           ing, a sombre expression fouling his
                                       normally  cheerful  face.   Gedralis
Watching this scene from the  saddle   smiled for the first  time  in days,
of  his  horse  was  a tall man with   for  he  alone  knew  how  much  his
short-cropped silver and black  hair   friend  disliked such ministrations.
framing a  handsome, rugged face.  A   Lintaqu could  simply  wave her off,
winged  helm  was  levered   tightly   but  would  rather  suffer indignity
under  one  arm,  its polished black   in silence than risk offending her.
surface glistening in the soft  rays
of the  morning  sun;  a laen shield   He placed his helm on the pommel  of
decorated with  a  black  swan  hung   his saddle and picked up his shield.
from the  saddle.  Lord Gedralis was   Urging  his horse up the bank a ways
an imposing figure,  even  to  those   he turned to face the people gather-
who knew him well.  But beneath that   ed below. One by one they sensed his
intimidating   exterior,  he seethed   gaze upon them and stopped what they
with doubt and uncertainty.            were  doing, turning to  look in his
Gedralis  absently  toyed  with  his
scabbard and wondered  how  many  of   "We are going to do something I both
these  men  and women would still be   desire with  all my  heart  and fear
alive at journey's end.  It  grieved   with all my good  sense," he announ-
him  to think that they would likely   ced. "Few, if any of us, will return
die trying to restore honor  to  his   alive." He paused, breathing deeply.
family.   And  it  worried  him that   "Again, I ask  each of  you:  Do you
there were some  here  who  actually   wish to stay behind in Kelfour...?"
thought   there   was  a  chance  of
success.   He  wrestled   with   his   Lintaqu spoke up.  "We are all sworn
emotions,  torn between the morality   to  the  quest, my Lord and will not
                                    -27-                            More...
turn away from it now." Several nod-   thought  the mist the work of magic;
ded  in  silent agreement; none made   others  that the trees were enchant-
any move to leave.  It was decided.    ed.  All agreed it was a bad omen.
"Very well then," Gedralis remarked.   A  rattled and worried party quickly
"We will be leaving in a short time.   broke camp and took to their horses,
Make  your  final preparations.  May   pursued  by  a  sudden  sense of ur-
Eissa  bless this quest and those of   gency.   No attempt was made to move
us  foolish -- or brave enough -- to   quietly or carefully.  Speed was all
pursue it."                            that  mattered.  We flee from super-
                                       stition,  thought Gedralis, and rush
The  journey  from Kelfour's to Swan   headlong to our deaths.
Castle  was uneventful, save for one
strange  sight  near  the end of the   Toward   midday,   they   passed   a
first  day.   Some  two leagues from   waterfall  that  fell  into what was
the  edge of the Dragonsfang stood a   once a landscaped pond but was now a
single lonely cottonwood tree, tend-   gaping  hole  in the ground.  Beyond
ed  by an old man who moved with the   the sinkhole lay the crumbling ruins
infinite slowness of someone follow-   of   once-thriving   towns.   Rusted
ing a calendar instead of a clock.     arrows,  spears and shattered swords
                                       littered   the  area  like  a  great
He answered no query  and  responded   dumping  ground,  mute  testimony to
to  no  greeting, seeming content to   the  battle  that  had  been  fought
climb  about  the  young   tree   in   there. Mass graves flanked the road,
silence,  removing dead branches and   and Gedralis rode past them with his
destroying  parasites with slow, me-   head erect, stiffly facing front.
thodical  movements.  The party soon
gave  up  any  attempt at communica-   Past  the  ruins,  Black Swan Castle
tion,  continuing along its way with   suddenly  reared its blackened walls
many  a backward glance.  Once, just   before   them,  like  a  huge  cliff
before they lost sight of him around   blasted by fire and lightning.  Fear
a  bend,  Gedralis  thought he heard   seemed  to  emanate  from  the  very
the  man  singing  and old, familiar   stones.   The  horses, normally high
lullaby.                               strung,  were  now  near  panic, and
                                       staying   in  the  saddle  became  a
Emerging from the trees of the upper   necessary but unwelcome distraction.
Kaldsfang  as  night  drew near, the   The sun disappeared behind clouds as
party stopped in a clearing and made   dark  and  foreboding  as the castle
camp,  preparing  for the final push   walls; the wind seemed to scythe out
in the morning.  The night was black   of  the  castle gates, slicing right
and  cold;  a mist rolled in through   through  the  thin  layers  of cloth
the  trees,  giving  the landscape a   underneath chilled armor.  A feeling
strange  unearthly  appearance.  The   of  hopelessness  swept  through the
night  guards took what comfort they   party,   threatening   to  overwhelm
could  in  their  damp  blankets and   them.  The son of Baron Gedralis was
kept  fearful  eyes  trained  on the   finally come home.
black   spaces  between  the  trees,
fighting  fears that saw movement in   Gedralis shook his head to clear the
every shadow.                          despair  and wrenched his horse away
                                       from the castle gates.  "Back to the
In  the morning, the camp was roused   woods!"  he  shouted  but  the words
from  slumber  by  shouts  from  the   were  whipped away in the wind, lost
watch.    All  of  them  had  fallen   as  soon  as  he  uttered them.  The
asleep on  guard  and  awakened in a   group  understood his intent even if
panic, certain they were about to be   they  didn't  hear  his  command and
over-run.  Gedralis ordered an imme-   followed  after  him  into  the tree
diate   head  count  and  inventory.   line surrounding the castle.
Nothing  was  reported  missing  and
everyone  was  accounted  for.  Some   "We will dismount here and leave the
                                    -28-                            More...
animals.  They'll be of no use to us   Lintaqu  motioned  to a mage and to-
in the castle."                        gether  they rolled empty barrels to
                                       the arch and stood on them to get at
The party dismounted with a sigh and   the  gibbet.   The  mage gestured at
tethered  their mounts.  Swords were   the  rusted lock and it snapped open
drawn  and checked, shields adjusted   with  a  loud  clink.   They  gently
and  battle  gear examined for signs   removed  the skeleton from the cage,
of  damage  that  could  lead  to  a   laying  it  with  care  on a blanket
catastrophe  in  the heat of battle.   pulled from a bedroll.  They wrapped
Their  expressions  were as bleak as   it  so that it was completely cover-
the slate grey skies above.  Sensing   ed,  and the clerics uttered prayers
the need for comfort, Lintaqu slowly   for the safety of his departed soul.
raised  his  head, and began to sing   Lord  Gedralis  watched  in silence,
in a strong, clear voice....           his   face  a  dark  mask  of  fury.
                              |\       Lintaqu  approached  and laid a hand
      There is a home        _|\|      on his shoulder.
      That I know well,     (_) |
      There is a place         _|      "Save  it  for  what lies ahead, old
      Where I will come...    (_)      friend."  He  nodded  toward the far
      My home will wait,               side of the courtyard.  "Your father
      Time will tell.                  shall be avenged."
      There will be a peace
      When day is done...              Gedralis  nodded to his friend, spun
                                       on his heel and prepared to give the
As  the  strains of the ancient lul-   order  to advance.  Without warning,
laby  faded  into  the  wind,  for a   a  bolt  of  fire  exploded  from  a
brief  moment  the  warmth of hearth   darkened   doorway,   striking   him
fires and  the embrace of loved ones   squarely  in  the  shield  arm.  The
filled their souls.  It strengthened   force  of  bolt  picked  him  up and
their  purpose  and  hardened  their   threw  him  like  a child's toy.  He
wills, and  they   moved  swiftly to   struck  the  ground with a whoosh of
take  up  the shields and weapons of   breath as several bolts of lightning
their  trade.   Mages  busied  them-   flew  from  the  extended fingers of
selves with  casting  spells of pro-   the   party's  mages,  blasting  the
tection  and warding as clerics made   doorway   into  motes  of  dust  and
final  pleas  to  their  deities.  A   shards of flying stone.
small guard  was posted, and minutes
later they were back on the  path to   A  quiet  moan  escaped  his lips as
the castle,  with  Lord  Gedralis in   Gedralis  slowly  picked himself up.
the lead.                              He had been heavily protected by the
                                       mages  before  they  left the woods,
The  gate  to the castle stood open,   but  still  sustained minor injuries
shattered   and  broken.   Not  much   and  shock.   A  second bolt of fire
of it remained other than the shards   seared  into  the  ground  near him.
holding  the  twisted  iron  of  the   Another  barely  missed incinerating
hinges.   Outside the gate along the   Lintaqu.   Within  seconds they were
widowmakers tunnel, a hint of child-   raining down on the party from three
like  skeletons  peeked from the ac-   sides.   The  mages  returned  fire,
cumulated  humus, causing several of   their lightning bolts streaking into
the  party  to  choke  and  swear to   windows  and  doorways.  The roar of
Eissa.   Inside hung the skeleton of   explosions echoed through the court-
Baron  Gedralis, suspended in a gib-   yard  and  the  electrically-charged
bet spiked to a stone arch above the   air made their hair stand on end.
courtyard.  His skeletal fists still
clenched  the  bars, his empty skull   Gedralis had just  started  to  lead
thrown back in a silent scream.        the  advance  when  a  blast of wind
                                       from the  shadows  in  the  northern
Gedralis  blanched.  "Get him out of   corner  of the courtyard whipped him
that thing," he choked.  "Now...!"     and  a  battle-scarred  ranger   off
                                    -29-                            More...
their  feet.   Together, they rolled   backhanded   swing,  while  a  young
across  the  ground and slammed into   fighter  at  his  side dodged a blow
the outside wall.                      from another, slipping his longsword
                                       under  its guard and wounding it.  A
"Lintaqu!"  Gedralis  shouted,  as a   young  woman with a flaming falchion
cloud of fire settled on him.          and battle-scarred shield stepped in
                                       and  finished  it with a blow to the
Lintaqu  snatched a silver wand from   head  and  Lintaqu  barely blocked a
his  belt  and  waved  it  in  their   thrust  aimed at her back.  She spun
direction.   The fire cloud was dis-   and  nearly cut the guardian in half
persed  by  a  blast  of  cold  air.   with  a vicious swing.  Smiling, she
Gedralis  quickly regained his feet,   raised  her  sword  in  a salute and
his   entire  frame  crackling  with   turned back to the fight.
energy.   He cast bolt after bolt of
lightning  into the corner until the   Once  again,  victory seemed near at
wind stopped.                          hand.   And  once  again,  the  tide
                                       turned against them.
Unseen  by Gedralis, a single guard-
ian  appeared on top of the parapet.   More   guardians   appeared  on  the
The ranger leapt to his feet just as   parapets  above; explosions and fire
it  cast,  knocking  Gedralis to one   rained  down  on  them.   The  young
side.   The  bolt  hit  him instead,   fighter  was  vaporized  by a single
taking  his  head off at the should-   bolt. The girl with the flaming fal-
ers. Gedralis rolled and came to his   chion  went down, stunned.  A novice
feet, a single bolt from his fingers   mage  threw  himself across her body
picking  the  thing off of the tower   as  firebolts  converged on her from
and dropping it 35 feet to the paved   two sides, then started dragging her
surface  of the courtyard.  His next   across  the courtyard out of danger.
bolt  scorched through a window just   A  guardian took him from behind and
below  the  parapet,  frying another   cut  him  down,  but before it could
guardian before it could attack.       kill  the  girl another mage blasted
                                       it  into  bloody  shrapnel.  Lintaqu
For  a  moment it seemed victory was   fought  his  way  to  her  side  and
at hand.  The party slowly advanced,   helped  her  up.   She shook off the
healers  attending  to  the wounded,   effects  of the stun and with a grim
mages  recharging.   Gedralis looked   smile  turned and calmly decapitated
to  Lintaqu  and shook his fist in a   an onrushing guardian.
victory salute; Lintaqu returned the
gesture  with  a  grin.   They  drew   Lintaqu  glanced about as he fought.
their  swords  and moved deeper into   One  by  one, they were being picked
the courtyard.                         off,  dying  by fire and sword.  For
                                       every   guardian   they   slew,  two
In  a  heartbeat, the scene changed.   stepped  forward  in its place.  The
Bolts  of  fire  arched  out  of the   situation  was  hopeless; the battle
windows  and  converged  on Gedralis   lost.
from  every  direction.  In spite of
the magical defense he'd been given,   With a sigh, he ordered an immediate
he  was  blasted  off his feet again   retreat  to  a safer position at the
and  smashed to the ground, there to   gate.   As  the survivors fell back,
lay unconscious and bleeding.          he  looked  around  for Gedralis and
                                       found  him, on the other side of the
Emboldened   by  success,  guardians   courtyard.   A  red-robed healer was
began pouring from doorways into the   tending  him,  while another fighter
courtyard,  engaging Lintaqu and the   stood  shaky  guard, a bloody spiked
others  in close combat.  In seconds   mace   in   his   trembling   hands.
the  battle collapsed into the chaos   Lintaqu  immediately rushed to their
of  hand-to-hand  fighting.  Lintaqu   aid,  intending  to  guard their re-
managed  to  hew  off  the  head  of   treat to the gatehouse.  But just as
charging  guardian with a tremendous   he  reached  them,  another  wave of
                                    -30-                            More...
guardians hit and they were cut off.   The  blasts  of  fire  bolts and the
                                       ring  of swords could be heard for a
The  rest  of  the party had reached   time  outside  the  castle, then all
the  relative safety of the gate and   fell silent.  The survivors gathered
were  holding their position without   the  wounded  and  slowly made their
difficulty;  but the four trapped in   way  into  the forest, back to their
the  middle  of  the  courtyard were   horses.    Those  who  had  remained
exposed and in grave danger.  Guard-   behind  to guard the camp rushed out
ians  converged  on  them  from  all   to  meet  them,  helping  carry  the
sides.  Spotting an overturned cart,   wounded and dead into the camp where
Lintaqu  used  the remaining charges   they were given first-aid and herbs.
in  his  wand  to  stun  the nearest
attackers and led his small group to   But  no herbs seemed to help the son
it  a loping run, where they huddled   of Baron Gedralis.  He languished in
together  as fire bolts chewed holes   his  bandages  with  a searing fever
in the ground around them.             that  even the best healer could not
                                       bring  down.  They decided to return
"We  have  only  a  few seconds," he   to town to seek advanced help.
rasped. "Wait for an opening and run
for  the gate." He saw reluctance in   Throughout  the  day,  they followed
their  bruised  and  bloodied faces.   their  trail  back through the hills
"You must get Lord Gedralis to safe-   and  cliffs  to  the lone cottonwood
ty.  If you stay here, we all die!"    tree at the edge of the Dragonsfang,
                                       where   they  were  overtaken  by  a
Without  waiting  for  a  reply,  he   sudden,  violent storm.  The old man
jumped  up  and launched his attack,   was  nowhere  to  be  seen,  but  if
catching  the  guardians off-balance   anyone  noticed,  they  kept  it  to
and  unprepared.   He  fought like a   themselves.
man  possessed,  the  black blood of
the guardians flying off his shining   Taking  shelter under the tree, they
blade.   The  fury  of  his  assault   did their best to keep the cold rain
caused  them  to  stagger  and  fall   from  the  shaking form of Gedralis,
back,  and  for a brief moment a gap   wrapping him in blankets and tending
opened up between them and the gate.   him  with  herbs.   But after every-
"Go!"   he   shouted,  pushing  them   thing  was  done that could be done,
forward.  "To the gate!" The fighter   they  could  only  wait  and  watch.
hesitated,  then  helped  the cleric   As  the  storm  broke and night came
grasp Gedralis' unconscious body and   on, the Son of Baron Gedralis died.
half-drag, half-carry him to safety.
                                       "It  was as if he did not want to go
Lintaqu was wounded again and again;   on  living after what had happened,"
his  shield  gave  out  against  the   someone  muttered.  Others nodded in
pounding blows that hammered on him.   silent agreement.
But  still he would not go down.  He
backed   out  slowly,  covering  the   They wrapped his body in a cloak and
desperate retreat of his comrades.     placed  his  sword,  shield and helm
                                       beside him.  Guards were posted, and
Several  guardians  emerged suddenly   with  nothing  to  use for firewood,
from  the  shadows  to  his left and   they made cold camp.  It was a long,
made  for  gate,  threatening to cut   restless night.
them  off.   Lintaqu  cried  out  in
frustration  and pain as he sprinted   In  the  early  morning  light, they
to  the gate house.  Once inside, he   buried   Gedralis  there  under  the
hacked at the cable holding the gate   tree, placing a stone marker to com-
aloft,  and  watched as it plummeted   memorate the spot.  Next to it, they
down   on   top   of   the  charging   placed  another  marker for Lintaqu,
guardians,  thus sealing them -- and   who   had  given  his  life  at  the
himself -- inside, forever.            gatehouse to save his friends.
So  much  needed to be said,  but no            My First Death
one could find the words.  Suddenly,            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
from  behind  them,  a  strong clear          Cont'd from Page 26
voice began to sing.  They turned in
confusion,  believing  for  a moment   wash over me, and I realized that at
that  Lintaqu  had  somehow survived   least I would die with my friends.
and  returned to cheer them.  But it
was   the  old  man  they  had  seen   Gandalf picked me  up off the ground
tending  the tree, his song the same   and pulled me eastward.  I  realized
lullaby  Lintaqu  had  sung  only  a   that  we  were running; I could  see
short time before.                     the cliffs and trees race past me as
                                       my companions tried to speed me back
When  the  song  ended,  the old man   to the Temple.
surveyed  the  group,  looking  from
face  to  face, his eyes penetrating   The Temple...Of course.
deep  into  each  soul.   And as his
gaze  fell  upon  each  person, that   I had just recently acquired a gold
person  felt  the  weight of remorse   ring from a friend in town and nat-
lifted and the warm embrace of peace   urally figured it'd been set to the
engulf them.                           Temple. I tried  to remove the ring,
                                       but had no hand to take it off with.
No  words  were  spoken, yet somehow   I felt the cold  touch of death as I
all  knew in their hearts that their   lifted  my  hand  to my face. Taking
quest  had  not  failed.  Black Swan   the  ring in my  teeth,  I pulled it
Castle  remained in the hands of the   off and on...
enemy,   but  that  enemy  had  seen
something  that  caused it to shrink   My surroundings  shifted and I found
back in terror.  It had come face to   myself standing before  the gates to
face with courage the likes of which   Kelfours Landing. I thought briefly,
had  never been seen before, courage   in my  delirium, that the Temple was
so  bright  and  sharp  and terrible   somehow different than I remembered,
that nothing could stand in its way.   then  I felt  death grab hold  of me
And  it knew, even though one battle   and pull me down deep  into its cold
had  been  won,  the war to come was   depths.
already lost.
                                       After I had awakened  and discovered
With  a smile, the old man vanished.   that The Goddess  had restored me to
To this day, some say they can still   life, I went back for my things, but
hear  him in the still of the night,   found  that  my  Drake  Falchion and
singing that ancient lullaby...        ring   had  disappeared;  everything
                                       else still remained. I gathered them
    My home will wait,                 up and headed back to the Temple.
    Time will tell.
    There will be a peace              I decided that dying was truly not a
    When the day is done.              rewarding experience.
                       //|                       //|
                         |                         |
                    |\___|___/|               |\___|___/|
                    |         |               |         |
                     \       /__     ___     __\       /
                      |     |   |___|   |___|   |     |
                      |     |                   |     |
                      |     |       _____       |     |
                      |     |      |||||||      |     |
                      |     |      |||||||      |     |
       _______________|     |______|||||||______|     |_______________
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|     |~~~~~/       \~~~~~|     |~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 ______________  Ram's Guide: Substitutions for GemStone III
/ \ ____  ____ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ~| |  | |~ |             by Ram Youngblood
  |  |~|--|~|  |
 _|  |~|--|~|  | ave you played  way   Time....if  your  bill has  one  too
/@| _|~|  |~|_ | over  your  month's   many zeros...or if you're just a fan
\_/ ~~~~  ~~~~ / limit...?  Are  you   of fantasy roleplaying, this is just
  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~  bleeding  profusely   what the doctor ordered.
in hillies? Are you dead and waiting
for a  cleric?  If  your  answer was   Black Dragon, by  Bob  Maples
'Yes' to any of these  questions,  I
have  a  couple  ideas for you while   Black  Dragon is somewhat like  Gem-
you're waiting....                     Stone,  but only somewhat.  GemStone
                                       blows  this game away, far away; but
Joel  Rosenberg                        its okay if you have  some  time  to
                                       spare.  You  can find it online,  in
Ever heard  of  him?    You   should   basic services:  typing *Dragon will
have.  He's an author, and  a  great   get you to the menu.
one at that.  He has many  books  on
the market,  but  among the best are   It's a single-player game played  in
the "Guardians of the Flame" series.   a dungeon of sorts,  with ten levels
If  you  like   dwarves,    thieves,   in  all.  At the  bottom level lives
fighters,   sorcerers  and  clerics,   Asmodeus,  the arch - devil.  If you
just  like those  found in GemStone,   defeat him,  you  win the game.  But
I stongly  recommend it.               before  you  get  to  him, there are
                                       kobs, trolls, evil mages,  and  even
It tells you the tale of a group  of   pesky hobbits  to  deal  with;   you
friends  who are thrown to the other   can  buy  items from  a  trader,  or
side as  the  characters  that  each   attack  them  with  magic  arrows to
of  them  were  role-playing:  James   see if they have a chest.  When  you
Michael Finnegan  becomes  Ahira,  a   find a chest  and  can  successfully
dwarven   fighter   with   a  trusty   disarm it,  will it have enough gold
battle axe;  Karl  Cullaine  becomes   for  you  to  advance  to  the  next
Barak,  a  fighter who gains a sword   level?  Will it have  the  Sword  of
capable  of  projecting  a   natural   Sharpness,  the Mithril Helm, or the
shield  against  magic,  and  so on.   Ring of Protection  you  need?  Play
If  it's in the game,  it's  in  the   the game and find out....
                                       Kelfour Edition
There are  7  books  in  the series,
with  more in the works.  I read the   Write for  the  Kelfour  Edition. Do
first two in a week's time, but that   you have a few ideas you'd  like  to
doesn't mean that they're children's   share  with your fellow adventurers?
books  or  anything:  each  one runs   Write 'em yup! I love reading infor-
around  275  pages,  but time passes   mative articles, especially the how-
very  quickly  when  you read  about   -to's, and trust me,  I'm not alone!
their journey to  the  Gate  Between   But the best part's the reward.If KE
Worlds and their daring raids on the   likes  your stories and you get 3 of
slavers. It's  an excellent  series.   them published, you get a free week-
                                       end in  Kulthea!  That means you can
You'll  be happy to know that he has   can  play  for  free from 6:00 pm on
his own topic on GEnie  at  m8009;4.   Friday to Monday at 8:00 am (exclud-
He  visits it regularly, so you can    ing  any  surcharges).  Imagine what
talk to him personally.                you could  accomplish in 62 hours...
                                       It could be a dream come true!
What  can  I say?  I'm  addicted  to
Joel  Rosenberg just like I was when   Yes, there are  other  things to do;
I  first  played  GemStone.  If  you   and some are  almost  as much fun as
need  a  substitute   during   Prime   GemStone. So, until that next rez...
                            Undermining Kelfour's
 _____________              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
/ \ _________ \             by Llorien Silvanestii
\@| ||=|=|=|| |                  (Chapter 7)
  | ~~ |_| ~~ |
 _|    |_|    | he  group   gathered   "Tellers?"  piped  up  Llorien. "Who
/@|   _|_|_   | their belongings to-   are these Tellers?"
\_/__________/  gether,  then looked
expectantly at Joran, who turned and   "The  Tellers  are  those  among  us
led  the  way  down further into the   chosen to keep the  history  of  the
darkened abyss.   The  hours  passed   people.   Lacking  the raw materials
by   uneventfully   as  they  delved   to make parchment and other  writing
deeper  into  the  bowels   of   the   materials,  it   was  decided   that
earth.                                 those  who possessed a  keen  memory
                                       would  keep track of the events that
"Tell  us  more  about  your  world,   have passed  before.  So  that  none
Joran,"  asked  Penna. "I would know   may  forget  what  has happened, and
of the people to whom I am now  kin-   end up  repeating  the  mistakes  of
bound."                                the  past." Joran looked quizzically
                                       at  Llorien,  who  was  nodding   in
"Where would  you  have  me  start?"   earnest. "You  seem  to  have  taken
asked  Joran.  "Our  worlds  are  as   an  interest in the  Tellers?  May I
different... well, as  different  as   ask why?"
night and day,  if you'll pardon the
pun."  The  drow's   affable  manner   "It's  just these Tellers of yours,"
soon  had a calming  effect  on  the   said Llorien, "Sound  like  what  we
surface   dwellers,  their  tensions   call bards  on  the surface.  Except
draining  away,  to be replaced by a   that we have books and scrolls  that
stilted sort of camaraderie.           we  can  refer to, and research, the
                                       histories. Tell me,  do the  Tellers
"Contrary to the beliefs of some, we   ever sing the histories,  or do they
are not a warlike people," the  drow   just recant it?"
went on. "We were persecuted for the
color of  our skin,  and it was this   "Sing?" asked Joran. "Nay,  they do
persecution  that drove  us  to seek   not  sing. Unless  you care to call
another  place  to  live.  We   dis-   the monotone  chant  that  they use
covered  that  the  underworld  was,   in  the  retelling,  singing.  What
for  the  most  part,  unpopulated--   would be the purpose in singing  the
except for  strange,  and  sometimes   histories?"
dangerous  creatures.  And  we  dis-
covered  the  adamantine... a  metal   "Hmm..."   Llorien  rubbed  his chin
that  surpassed  even shaalk for its   thoughtfully.   "Well,  the  telling
ability to be  forged  into  weapons   of  a  story  will convey the facts,
and  armor,  and its ability to hold   but  the  music and  the  singing...
an edge."                              well,  they  can convey the feelings
                                       and emotions of what  had  happened.
"Thus we decided to make  our  lives   And  many  times, the reasons behind
here,  never  to  see the sun again;   what  has  gone  before,   and   the
or to feel  the  sweet  caress of  a   actions  of  people,  based on their
a  summer's breeze."  A  tear rolled   emotional state  at  the time.  Wars
down Joran's cheek,  as  he  thought   are not started  because  of  facts,
of  the  few  wonders he had seen in   but   because  there existed hatred,
the infrequent  trips  he  had  been   or the  need  for  revenge,  or  the
allowed  to  make  to  the  surface.   greed  of  one  wishing  to  possess
"All  this  happened  long  ago,  so   what belonged to another. Do you see
long  ago  that now we just have the   what I mean?"
stories and legends that are  passed
from  generation  to  generation  by   "A very  interesting  idea,"  nodded
the Tellers."                          Joran.  "I think  that  the  Tellers
                                    -34-                            More...
will  be  interested in meeting with   "What  is it,  Keron?"  Joran  asked
you to discuss these notions."         of the lead drow.
"If the priests allow it, that  is."   "I am  not  sure. The sound and vib-
added  one  of the heretofore silent   ration are  unlike  any I have  ever
drow.  Joran  nodded to the speaker.   heard."
"Yes,  that  may  be a problem,"  he   "Let  us  approach  with care then,"
agreed.                                said  Joran.  The  group formed pro-
                                       tectively around Penna and Aegyptia,
"Do  these  priests control everyone   and  stealthily  made  its  way down
and their actions?"  asked Aegyptia,   the corridor.  Rounding the  corner,
who  had  been  listening  intently.   the  group stopped  abruptly, mouths
                                       agape at the sight before them.
"Well,  they  like  to  think   so,"
stated Joran. "But the truth  of the   The entire tunnel  was  blocked  off
matter is there  are some  among  us   by  an undulating mass of grey-green
who  do not believe that the surface   flesh, which seemingly had come  out
dwellers are the monsters  that  the   of  one  side of the tunnel  through
priests make  them  out  to be.  But   solid rock,  and  was now  burrowing
we are few in number, and since  not   into the opposite face.
many  have ever been to the surface,
much less  had  the  opportunity  to   "It's the  Great  Wyrm!"   exclaimed
meet  with  the likes of you,  those   Joran.  "Never  in  my  life  had  I
few of us who believe otherwise, are   ever expected to lay eyes upon it!"
scoffed at and ridiculed. Especially
by the priests."                       The  group stood unmoving, either in
                                       awe, or in fear of  attracting  this
"Perhaps  the  events  to come  will   behemoth's attention.  Scant minutes
change that,"  prophesied  Aegyptia,   later,  the creature had disappeared
smiling enigmatically.                 into the rock,  leaving a fresh tun-
                                       nel behind it.
No  sooner  had  the  words left her
mouth, than the  lead  drow  stopped   "The Wyrm  has  never  been  sighted
and uttered a short,  sibilant hiss.   this close  to  the  city," observed
"Something  is up ahead,"  he  whis-   Joran. "Others have  reported sight-
pered. The drow  cocked their heads,   ings, those who had gone on expedit-
listening  for  sounds,  and   Joran   ions looking for new  ore  sources."
laid  his  hand upon the wall of the
                                       "Well,  this explains the network of
"Yes, something large,"  he informed   tunnels we  have seen," said Inyigo.
the others.                            "If this is the same wyrm  that  has
                                       dug  all  these  tunnels, then it is
"If this   is  a  trap,"    Pterelas   an ancient  creature indeed."
said, the mistrust again evident  in
his  face,  "Then  you  will  be the   Joran nodded in agreement.  "Legends
first to die."  He  glared at Joran.   have it that the  Great Wyrm came to
                                       the surface one day and led our peo-
"Don't  be  so  obtuse,   Pterelas,"   ple here,  to our home.  The priests
admonished Penna.  "Why  would  they   proclaimed  the Great Wyrm our savi-
warn us if it was a trap?"             our and built a religion around it."
Pterelas, still wary,  loosened  his   "Hmmph,"  said Llorien. "Seems  like
sword  in  its  sheath.  He  glanced   an overgrown slug to me."
around,  noticed  there was no place
to  hide,  and  took a position with   Penna  frowned  at  the  blasphemous
his back to a section of tunnel wall   bard.  "Do  not  belittle  anothers'
determined not to be ambushed.         beliefs, Llorien. As you should very
                                    -35-                            More...
well  know,  most  legends and myths   different  from   themselves.   Each
have their basis in fact."             had  hopes  and  dreams;  each  felt
                                       pain and  joy.  Their lives may have
"That is true,"  apologized Llorien.   been different,  but that was due to
"Please forgive me,  Joran."           the environment they lived in.
Joran   chuckled   at  the  contrite   Rounding  yet another  bend  in  the
bard. "As  I said, it  is  what  the   twisting tunnel,  the party stopped.
priests would  have us believe.  Not   One  by  one, all  of  the  surface-
all of us accept it, however."         dwellers fell silent,  the  grandeur
                                       and  beauty  of what lay before them
The   blockage  in  the  tunnel  now   striking harder than a golems stomp.
removed, the party  pressed  onward.
As  they  passed  the  new openings,   They  had emerged from the tunnel to
one of the drow removed a small  jar   stand upon a ledge, which overlooked
from  his  belt pouch, and smeared a   a cavern, the size of which engulfed
clear, but foul smelling unguent  on   the mind.  A hundred  Kelfours could
the walls.                             have  fit into the area they saw be-
                                       fore them. The  walls of the  cavern
Inyigo  raised  his  eyebrow  in the   were  covered in a luminescent moss,
drow's direction.  The  drow  smiled   casting  a  soft  light  throughout.
and  said  by  way  of  explanation:   Looking down  at  the  cavern floor,
"This is how we mark a  new  tunnel.   they could  barely make out what ap-
Maps  are  useless  when new tunnels   peared  to be signs of  agriculture.
can be added at any time. By marking   A pristine  lake  reflected back the
these  tunnels with various  scents,   glow  of the moss,  and  in the mid-
we construct a map  that  is carried   dle of it all, was a jewel.
through  the  air, so that we always
can discern our location."             Not  a  jewel  in  the  sense  of  a
                                       precious  stone.  But  a  glittering
"Makes  sense,"   nodded  Inyigo. "I   collection  of  lights  far  in  the
wondered how you kept  from  getting   distance -- a city of immense size.
lost in this maze you call  a home."
                                       "Welcome to  Unterlund,"      smiled
The  young  drow smiled, and soon he   Joran,  as  he  proceeded  down  the
and  Inyigo  were  involved  in   an   steps that had been carved into  the
animated  discussion  about  various   face of  the  cliff.  As  the  party
mapping techniques and other  sundry   proceeded,  Pterelas   noticed   two
exploratory skills.                    guards  stationed at the  opening to
                                       the tunnel complex,  their dark skin
"I  sure  hope that poor guy doesn't   and  clothing  blending  in  so well
take too much of what  Inyigo  says,   with the  hue  of the rock,  that he
seriously," jibed Pterelas.  "Other-   would never  have  noticed them, ex-
wise we  could  be  held responsible   cept for their brilliant blue  eyes.
when he  gets lost using  the  great   "Welcome, indeed," Pterelas muttered
ranger's techniques." Llorien chuck-   under his breath. "I just hope  it's
led at the long-standing joke  about   not a welcome to our deaths."
rangers  and  their  ability  to get                      (To Be Continued)
lost, even in towns where they  have
lived  most of their lives; although                RODDERS
privately  he  knew  that   Inyigo's                ~~~~~~~
skills  were  among  the best of his            by Bugg Hornwort
                                           It's quite easy to miss,
The remainder of the  day's  journey             don't you see;
passed,  the members of this strange    And the bane of disarming rookies.
group getting to  know  each  other.            Iliana found out,
Much  to  their surprise, they found         As have others no doubt,
out that  the  other  was  not  much   That rod traps can fry your cookies.
 ____________            The Wizard and the Wolverine
/ \ _________\           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
\@| ||=|=|=|| |              by Natasha Cheridan
  | ~~ |_| ~~ |
 _|    |_|    |
/@|   _|_|_   |he  wolverine!  Run!"   winning  a  bet on  Firth's Wheel of
\_/__________/ I heard  my  mother's   Chance!"
words echoing again  in my mind as I
quickly caught my breath. I had fled   I realized I had  spoken aloud.  The
the grassy flatland area where I was   dusk  and fear were  getting  to me.
harvesting herbs  the  moment I  had   It was the only  plan I had, though.
seen the wolverine.                    To  stay out  here  alone  all night
                                       was to  know Eissa's embrace by dawn
I quickly calmed my nerves.  I still   by any number  of means.  I drew  my
held the fresh herbs in my hands. No   cloak  closer around  me.  I rested.
longer  panicked  with the recurring   I drank from the  river and splashed
nightmares of my childhood, I  spoke   the cold  water on my face. There is
the  words which would  preserve the   always  something  invigorating with
herbs and sealed them into  a  small   the touch  of  this element  of  the
pouch.  Later, I would retrieve them   earth.
to make the  healing  balm I needed.
Now, I must see  to my defenses, the   I felt a  calmness come  to me.  The
wolverine  scouting  the  grasslands   first stars were coming out, and the
was now between me and safety.         sun was  almost completely below the
                                       horizon. It was time to  go home.  I
The sun, a glowing red orb suspended   glanced down the trail, it lay empty
against the  western horizon and the   before me.  I started  forward along
light was failing fast. I glanced up   the  worn trail  that would take  me
and down the path, looking for help.   through  the  grasslands  and to the
Not a  single soul from  the village   guarded gates at  Kelfour's, which I
was within my view.  I was here only   call 'home'  now that  I  have moved
with Dusk as my companion. The birds   away from my Father's house. Keeping
were  singing their  last  songs for   a wary eye, I walked easily so as to
the day, and the  creatures who call   conserve my strength.
night  their domain were  rising-not
nearly all of  them as  friendly  as   Suddenly, a drooling  Torkaan lunged
the cricket I could hear nearby.       out  from behind  some high  grasses
                                       and reeds, glaring at  me,  snorting
I readied  my sword  and shield  and   a  challenge  that chilled my  bone.
walked the trail towards the river.    The  path  was blocked!  I could not
                                       get around the  crazed creature.  It
"This is not a very wise predicament   struck at me, as I  raised my shield
to get yourself  into", I mumbled to   to fend off its attack.
myself. "No apprentice Healer should
be  here without  many more than two   I did not  think there  was anything
classes in  combat and  self defense   else I could  do but put  this  poor
skills."                               creature out of its fevered  misery.
                                       Wherever  its shepherd  was, he  was
Taking time  to rest  at the  bridge   not here and I had no desire to fall
and refresh myself with some crystal   victim to this thing. I swung at it,
clear water, I formulated a plan. If   my  sword glanced  off its shoulder.
I were not tired and  did not panic,   It attacked me again!  As I stood my
perhaps I could run quickly past the   ground and calmly  waited for  it to
grasslands  where  the wolverine was   tire so that  I could  walk in for a
hunting.  Perhaps he's not hungry!     quick stun and death blow, I kept my
                                       shield  up and  absorbed the  blows.
"Not hungry!  Who am I fooling?  The   Finally,  it weakened, and I saw  my
chance that a wolverine would not be   chance. Giving out  a great  shout I
hungry is about  like the  chance of   collected everything that my Father,
Brothers and Swordmaster had  taught   voice  commanding me from around the
me  and I lunged at  the torkaan.  A   bend.
quick blow to  the head  stunned it.
Another  stroke to  the body  cavity   I  turned  the  corner in  the road,
killed it.                             seeing that  the wolverine was lying
                                       there,  under  a  magical  spell  of
I knew  I would  never  get  used to   slumber so  deep I could not believe
this, though. Never.                   it.  The Wizard told me it would not
                                       awaken  again  until it was  in  the
Catching  my  breath again,  I  went   presence of its Master.
back to the path,  to fly past where
the wolverine  had been  and to make   I  heard my  mother's words  echoing
my way back home.  Suddenly, I heard   in my mind, "The wolverine! Run!"
something behind me.  I did not know
whether  I should run or  look - but   My blood chilled, my  arms trembled.
curiosity got  the best of me, and I   I stared at  the creature before  me
turned around.                         and  felt  the  first grip of  Fear.
                                       The Wizard touched  my arm, suddenly
I was looking  into the  clear green   I was able to shake the fear away.
eyes of a  man wearing the  robes of
a wizard.                              "You can do it" he whispered gently.
"Your swordsmanship and tactics made   I believed the Wizard, and  I struck
quick work  of  that Torkaan,  Young   the wolverine.  Within a few strokes
Healer" he said quietly.  "Where are   the wolverine was  dead,  and I  was
you going now?"                        unharmed.  I looked around to invite
                                       the Wizard home  with me, but he was
His green  eyes  pierced into me.  I   gone.  There  were no  footprints in
felt  compelled to  answer him, even   the grass  where we stood  together.
though I did not know this man.        Only the corpse of the wolverine.
"To my  home  at  Kelfour's.  I  was   Even Dusk was almost gone.  I had to
gathering  herbs - then  a wolverine   get to  the town  gates  soon, so  I
came to where I was and I fled. I am   walked home.  I have  inquired  with
trying to  run past it again so that   everyone  I have  ever met  about  a
I  can  get  home",  I  answered, my   Wizard of such  talents,  but all of
heart beating fast.                    them shook their heads.
"Natasha, my child... come  and help   Even now,  I will  never  forget his
me  slay this wolverine,  so that it   green  eyes, his flowing robes,  the
will never haunt your dreams or your   voice of a Master Wizard.  I  do not
fears  again." He spoke very evenly,   know how  he  took his  name from my
resolutely.  I believed him.  He had   mind, or pulled  mine out so that he
called  me by  name, and  I did  not   would know it.  I do not know how he
know how he knew it.  He told me his   filled me with confidence instead of
name but I  cannot remember  it.  It   dread.
seemed simple, and beautiful, but it
was gone from me  the  moment he had   I heard my mother's words echoing in
uttered it.                            my mind, "The wolverine! Run!"
He instructed  me to  wait  while he   I whispered  under my  breath before
turned  away, speaking arcane  words
of whatever great  magic that he was   I finally  went  to sleep,  "Mother,
calling  down.  I waited.  He walked   today I had  met my nightmare -  and
away  from  me and  along the  path,   yours.  I will  dream in  peace this
waiting  with admonition for when he   night."
would call for me.
                                       This time, I  did not  dream of  the
"Natasha!  Come  now!"  I  heard his   wolverine.
                                House Haunting
 _________                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
/ \ _____ \                   by Lloyd Llowd, PhD.
\@| ~|_|~  |
 _|  |~|   |
/@| _|~|_  | am quite disgusted with   house he showed me. Surrounded by an
\_/ ~~~~~ /  the  bureaucratic  non-   iron  fence,  the manor house looked
  ~~~~~~~~   sense involved with the   perfect. Roomy, private, and it even
simplest   tasks  in  this  wretched   had  a tower from which I could look
little  town.   The  town officials,   down on the little people.
and  even  the  very  deities above,
conspire to keep everyone and every-   He  seemed  to have a little trouble
thing in a constant state of flux.     with  the  lock  on  the gate, but I
                                       attributed  this  to the fact he was
As  you  may  recall,  my  home  was   using  a  key instead of a lockpick,
destroyed by the twin terrors, Lords   for a change.  Eventually he gave up
Odds  and Dartaghan.  Lord Odds then   his  futile attempt with the key and
"graciously"  installed  me in a mud   resorted to the pick.
hut in Shantytown.
                                       It wasn't until we got inside that I
Not  satisfactory.   I endeavored to   got  suspicious.   There were blood-
remedy my situation by presenting my   stains  on  the floors, and the only
case   to  the  town  officials.   I   way  to  get  into  the tower was to
started  with  the constable and met   climb   it.    After  Artuero  broke
with  little  success.   Actually, I   numerous  portions  of  his  anatomy
shouldn't  have expected much from a   falling   into   the   courtyard,  I
man who waves cheerfully at invading   declined to try it myself.
Krals   while  arresting  those  de-
fending  the  town for littering the   However,  despite the odd skull here
streets with their bodies.             and  there,  it  was  a dramatic im-
                                       provement  over  where  I  had  been
The  mayor  was  no better.  Finally   living.  Now to close the deal.
admitting  he  could  do nothing, he
suggested I try a real estate agent.   Let  me  offer  you a bit of advice.
There isn't a reputable agent within   If you ever deal with a professional
seven  hundred leagues of this sorry   thief who professes political aspir-
place.   I had almost given up hope,   ations,  count  your  fingers  after
when I was approached by a less than   you've  shaken  hands.  If you still
reputable agent.                       have  all  your  fingers, then count
                                       your  relatives.   (It  goes without
Lord Artuero.  Apparently hearing of   saying  that  you  lock  your  money
my  plight,  he  figured  there  was   safely away in the next province.)
profit  to  be  gained  from it.  (I
won't  insult  your  intelligence by   Despite   my   caution,  I  felt  we
attributing  his  interest to altru-   reached  a  fair  price in the nego-
ism.)  He  offered,  for  a suitable   tiations.  (Close proximity to House
fee, to acquire lodgings for me.       Arcane  obviously  made  this  house
                                       hard  to  sell.) Lord Odds even paid
Of  course  I  was suspicious.  Lord   the  first  month's  rent, obviously
Artuero is one of the Landing's most   due  to  his  embarrassment over his
famous citizens, which is sufficient   involvement in the earlier incident.
cause  for  alarm  in and of itself.
However,  his  fame  is  exceeded by   So  I  am settling in.  Though I did
both his infamy and his ego. Find me   have a strange dream my first night.
a  house, indeed.  It would probably   Something about ghosts packing suit-
be  another  hovel like that foisted   cases  and  leaving  Thingul  Manor,
upon me by the slum lord hobbit.       complaining  "there  goes the neigh-
                                       borhood."  Maybe  hobbits  moved  in
I  was  pleasantly  surprised by the   next door.

See Also: