Kelfour Edition volume IV number VI
The official GemStone IV encyclopedia.
_______________________________________________________________________ / \ \ | | Secrets of Enchantment True - Page 5 | @_/_____________________________________________________________________/ | | | | | November 1993 | | --___ _ _ _ ___ Vol.4, No.6 | | / ) / ) / ) / __) | | / /_/ / ____ / /_/ ( ____ __ __ ____ | | / __/ / __ )/ /( __)/ _ )/ / / // ___) | | / /\ \ / ___// / / / / (/ // (_/ // / | | (_/ \_)(____)(_( (_( (____/(_____((_/ | | | |_ | / The Kronicles of Kulthea | | GemStone III (tm) | | | | --___ ______ _ _ _ _ _| | / ____) / ) (/ _/ ) (/ \ | / (__ ___/ / _ ( _)_ ____ ____ | | / ____)/ _ / / ) / / / )/ _ )/ ) | | / (__ / (/ / / / / / / // (/ // /) / | | (______)(____( (_( (_( (_((____/(_((_( | | | | | |_____________________________________________________________________| |_____________________________________________________________________| | | | Kelfour's Landing Local News ............................... 1 | | House Paupers 2nd Annual Fall Festival .... Lady Phaedra Bleu 2 | | Home ............................................ Simon d'Ker 4 | | Enchantment True ....................... Lord Pan True-Silver 5 | | Justice in Medieval Society ................. Geoff Stonehand 7 | | A Matter of Honor (Part VI) ..................... Sean2 Lladd 10 | | Live by the Sword (and the Mace and the Axe) ... Gildas Laogh 14 | |_ From the Notes of The Apprentice Mage Darkraven Grim 16 | / Dreams Sacred and Profane - Part I ....... Gallenod Varvnesti 18 | | The Prince of Aquebar ................... Wisraith Winterwind 23 | | Oblivion Is a Place of Sorrow ........... Bleys Airelious III 26 | | Owed To A Pest ................................... Skye Serge 26 | | Keys (Part 3) ..................................... Anonymous 27 | | Orc Lunch ................................... Jerusha Montjoy 29 | | The Moaning After .......................... Lloyd Llowd, PhD 30 | |_____________________________________________________________________| | | | Editor Assistant Editors Publisher | | Rasputin Santare Kalagay Halatil Lady Phaedra Bleu | | Lord Jarran Terraxx | |_____________________________________________________________________| | | | Kelfour Edition, the Kronicles of Kulthea, is devoted to the multi- | | player role-playing game GemStone III on GEnie. Submissions may be | | edited for space, accuracy and readability. To learn about earning | | FREE WEEKENDS in the game, send GE Mail to P.HERRINGTON. | | __________________________________________________________________|__ | ) ) \_/____________________________________________________________________/ [[]] __________________________ [[]] | | // \ | | | |=:| o Kelfour Edition o = | | | | :| | | | | | :| L O C A L N E W S | | | | |=:| o o |=| | |__| \\__________________________/ |__| BACKPACK BUG BAGGED already extensive list available to According to official sources, a adventurers. Now, you can ASK any bug in the encumbrance system which NPC about (or for) just about allowed folk to carry unlimited anything. Usage: ASK <creature> weight in some containers, has been ABOUT / FOR <subject>. There's no fixed. The fix, however, has telling what you might learn or affected many typical backpacks and discover. made it difficult to carry as much as you thought you were able to. A change has been made to the GIVE command. In the past, it required To solve the problem, a new type of you to hold the item being given in backpack has been added to the your right hand. Now, you can give general store's inventory: a heavy an item to another adventurer from backpack. This pack can carry sub- either hand, but you must stipulate stantially more than its less sturdy the item and include the branch counterparts. The old leather back- word TO. Usage: GIVE <item> TO packs are now called "leather knap- <person>. sacks." TRAPPER SIGHTED If you find that you can't tote A trapper has been spotted wandering around as many items as you used the streets of our fair town lately. to, you should head over to the At first, his presence was viewed general store and pick up one of with some suspicion, but it soon be- the new heavy backpacks. The price came apparent that he was no threat. is reasonable and the pack will In fact, reliable sources inform us allow you to carry the maximum of this trapper is actively recruiting items. folk for hire on behalf of a certain town merchant. DYING FOR ADVENTURE? This is a quest in which you WON'T Unconfirmed reports indicate this die... of boredom, that is! Called labor may involve a mine near town SCEPTRUMORTIS, it is scheduled for and the search for ore. Anyone December. Sign ups, original sched- encountering the trapper is encour- uled for November 15th have been aged to pause and hear him out about temporarily postponed. A new sign- this apparent apprenticeship. up time hasn't been confirmed at press time, but updated information CLERIC WEAPON MOVED will be posted in the log-in NEWS. Weapons made from white eog -- long a favorite of experienced clerics -- NEWCOMERS REJOICE are no longer available by special House Aspis will be hosting a New order from Tyron's Weapon Shop. Player Night on Tuesday November Reliable sources report the weapons 30th. The savvy crew at House are still available, but only to Aspis will be conducting tours of those who can gain access to the the lands of Kulthea for new back room at the Cleric Shop. The adventurers all evening long. pious proprietor, nonetheless holds They will depart at frequent in- a certain fondness for his more gen- tervals from inside the Town Gates. erous clientele -- those folks who are content to pay listed prices NEW COMMANDS rather than engage in haggling. A new command has been added to the -=1=- House Paupers 2nd Annual Fall Festival ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ___________ by Lady Phaedra Bleu / \ ______ \ \@| ~|_|~\\ | | |~| || | _| |~| || | ecorated to the hilt, House Paupers was resplendent with /@| |~|_// | gargoyles at the front door (greeting all comers, not just \_/ ~~~~~~ / House members) and spiders in the balloons -- all for their ~~~~~~~~~~ gala 2nd Annual Fall Festival, held this year on Saturday night, October 30, just southwest of Town Square on the grounds of the House itself. A revoltingly thick red substance filled the hot tub and swimming pool, while concoctions like blood-red wine and iced cobra venom filled the guests even as they bobbed for apples in a barrel in the Commons Room. There were bats in the belfry and undead in the attic -- which turned out to be harder to get into than out of as attested to vehemently by numerous corpses when they landed in the bonfire in the courtyard! That crackling bonfire (stoked from the nearby woodpile by many a strangely garbed guest) was the scene of this year's Costume Contest. Twelve brave souls were somehow persuaded to enter, possibly since the prizes looked nearly as grand as last year's entrants. Three Runners Up were awarded 10,000 Silver Coins each, with three Grand Winners receiving certificates for valuable prizes of equipment! _________________________________________________________________ /\ \ \@| This certificate entitles the bearer to ONE of the following: | | | | 1. A permabless on any weapon by a participating merchant. | | 2. An enchantment of +15 by Odds on any item. | | | /@| Congratulations! | \/________________________________________________________________/ The Grand Winners were... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Rasputin Santare, KE's Editor who tickled onlookers and judges alike with a hilarious rendition of former KE gossip-monger Louvella Parsnips. His presentation came on the heels of a deadly exploration of Paupers' attic, from which condition he had just been resurrected. Get a load of those fingernails! You see Rasputin Santare the Half-Elf. He is holding a libation of iced cobra venom in his left hand. He is wearing a large canvas sack, some scuffed black leather boots, some shaalk spurs, a black leather gown with a silver studded choker collar, long blood-stained fingernails, a mask sporting a large hooked nose with a dagger-shaped wart and horn-rimmed glasses and a black porcupine quill hat. Rasputin exclaims, "Well, gentle readers. We are back. And we are not happy. What a despicable display of disgusting debauchery!" Rasputin says, "The highlight of the evening, other than a certain dark- haired cat-lady's graceful apple-dunking... was our untimely death. Not surprisingly, it occurred during one of Gallenod's jokes. We are glad we were spared the rest of his act." -=2=- More... Rasputin says, "Rest assured, we will report this to the Society for the Preservation of Moral Decency, just as soon as we esca...er, leave this happy little village." Rasputin smiles and brandishes a poison pen. Hunching over his notebook, he scribbles furiously, causing smoke to rise from the dog-eared pages. He catches you sneaking a peek and quickly slams the notebook shut! Lord Gallenod Varynesti verbally attacked nearly every class of Kultheans during his original presentation, cleverly hiding behind the shield of humor to escape with his life. Portions of it follow, to protect the guilty. You see Lord Gallenod Varynesti the Half-Elf Ranger. He is wearing some gold rimmed spectacles, a red mail sack, a pair of gloves made from the living hide of a firephantom still glimmering with intense flame, a cloak formed like a firephantom, swirls and vortexes of flame whirl and rage all about the wearer and bright red tongues of fire leap out and a mask in the fearsome form of a firephantom, liquid fire gushing outwards glowing brightly sheathed in waves of deadly heat. Gallenod exclaims, "LADIES AND GENTLEBEINGS! I GIVE YOU, FRESHLY DEAD FROM BLOTOTH PALACE, WHERE HE'S BEEN SLAYING THEM FOR YEARS: FIL FANTOM!" Gallenod puts on some fake glasses with a bulbous nose and bushy black moustache attached. Gallenod exclaims, "Thank you, thank you. I just flew in from Blototh, and boy, are my arms tired!" Gallenod asks, "What's the difference between an onion and a hobbit?" Gallenod exclaims, "You cry when you cut up the onion!" Gallenod asks, "What's the difference between a high man and an elf?" Gallenod exclaims, "The high man burns longer!" Gallenod asks, "How do you get two Bards to sing in unison?" Gallenod exclaims, "Vaporize one of them!" Gallenod removes a large fake cigar from inside his mail sack. Gallenod asks, "Why do fighters leave two-handed swords on their horses?" Gallenod exclaims, "So they can park in handicapped zones!" Gallenod waves a large fake cigar around. The inimitable Bugg Hornwort once again mostly pantomimed himself to glory. You see Bugg Hornwort the Halfling Cleric. He is wearing a harlequined jester's robe in red, black and yellow, with sleeves that drag upon the ground, a golden Kieron medallion and an oversized red-and-white polka-dotted ratskin vest that drags upon the ground. Bugg removes a huge tin badge engraved with the words "SHERRIFF WANNABE" from inside his ratskin vest. Bugg puts on a mask that resembles the sneering face of Lord Artuero Bresnahanini, complete with black eyeguards, sloping forehead, and a flame red torkaan fleece wig. Bugg raises an eyebrow. -=3=- More... Bugg removes a plain gold chest from inside his ratskin vest. Bugg says, "Got this from the Bent Lands." Bugg taps a plain gold chest. Bugg removes a rubber pickle from inside his ratskin vest. (Bugg settles into the difficult task of pickling the lock on a plain gold chest.) Bugg smiles, then...CLICK! It opens! Bugg just opened a plain gold chest. Bugg yells, "AAAAHHHH!!!!!" Bugg drops a plain gold chest. Bugg went through the wrought iron gate. [Ed. Note: Moments pass] Bugg came through the wrought iron gate. Bugg bows. Three Great Runners Up! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You see Manny Revilla the Common Man Thief. He is holding a libation of iced cobra venom in his right hand. He is wearing a pair of fake cockatrice feet and a cockatrice costume. You see Leera Chrystl the Wood Elf. She is holding a libation of Deathwoode Tipple in her right hand. She is wearing a silver wedding band, a gold ring, a white silk backpack, a crystal amulet, a skin tight snow leopard bodysuit, a pair of white leather hip boots with leopard spots which look like the hindquarters of a cat, some leather gloves with leopard spots and claws, a snow leopard mask and some snow leopard ears. You see Morgana Fyndrale the Half-Elf. She is holding a black cat of nine tails in her right hand. She is wearing a black leather backpack, A black skin-tight leather bodysuit with a black tail, a black leather cat mask, some black leather gloves with silver bloodstained claws and some black leather thigh-high boots with silver bloodstained claws. Other talented contestants included Gillaume d'Clans in a great black cloak, the executioner Hagar Redbeard, Palma Smyth with a fascinating staff, sinister Erek SnowMane, Unum LUX featuring no specially purchased items, and Gillian Gisthorn dressed as a puma. _________ Home / \ _____ \ ~~~~ \@| ~|_|~ | by Simon d'Ker | |~| | _| |~| |'m coming home; I see at I look on the bench and grab some /@| _|~|_ | once several familiar runes and leave a chocolate cookie. \_/ ~~~~~ / faces. Town Square is A healer is busy with cuts and welts ~~~~~~~~ full, the weather's bad, and one more seriously injured. The the Lord is selling an item. Manna net is calling a cleric to help, and drops, squirrels go "kerzopp," and a two more die just this moment. An newbie asks a question. A whisper eye flies 'round; I give it a frown here, another there, hugs and grins and watch as it zooms to the exit. and chuckles. A familiar wanders in, a sleek black cat, requiring a bit of petting. "Will you open my chest?", gathering coins, "Where did you get that Counting coins, an acorn "boings," item?" A gypsy weird, a constable and "Where's the latest marriage?" feared, a Lord asleep in the corner. Dragging here, hiding there, singing Someone rings in, someone rings out, at an item. A joke, a nudge, a wink, and someone is picking your pocket. a nod, a hug, a dance, a tickle. A group goes through, a group just left, another is rapidly forming. Home. -=4=- ___________ Enchantment True / \ ________\ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|_|~~|| | By Lord Pan True-Silver | |~|_|~~ | _| |~|-|__ | /@| |~|__|| |nchantment True, more There are only 4 potions currently \_/ ~~~~~~~~/ commonly known as ET, available for tempering. All of them ~~~~~~~~~~ is known by most people are expensive and the Mirtok potion throughout the land as the spell by is the most costly of all, ranging which one's armor, weapon or special WELL over 100,000 silver. Different item may be magically enhanced in potions have different wait periods either its offensive or defensive for the temper to set in, ranging capabilities. from several hours to over a week, depending on the strength of the While almost everyone has heard of potion and the current Plus of the it, and has at one time or another item. benefited from its power, not many know exactly how it works. To my Once an item is tempered, it cannot knowledge, there have been only four be worn, and if it is a weapon or mages in history to have acquired shield, then its strength/breakage the spell: Lord Odds, Lord Lose (now factor is reduced to 1/1 thus making gone from the lands), Lord Whilder, it extremely dangerous to use in and myself. The reason for this is combat. clear. In order to learn it, one must stick steadfastly to the Mage The mage must be careful to not wait list of spells, and bridge a long too long after the time limit has spell gap to get it. This takes a been reached, or even worse, trying great sacrifice as the mage must an Enchantment before the tempering forego spells in the other lists is done. Destruction of the item and which are greatly beneficial to them mage may result in a miscalculation. for hunting and survival. ________________________________ Before any item can be Et'd, it must / \ first go through a tempering process | Tempering an item looks like this| in order to prepare it for the great | to the mage: | power of the spell. The Potions that | | are available at the alchemists are | You pour your potion on the hide.| the only current means by which a | (D100(open): 78) | mage may attempt to temper an item. | | These potions also determine whether | The liquid oozes over the surface| or not an item is a candidate for an | of the hide, creating a faint| enhancement. | aura of steam. With a soft cloth,| | you work the potion in well until| If an item is not enchantable, then | you hear a faint crackling noise| the potion will react in one of two | coming from it, and it appears| ways. Bubbling and hissing means | faded. The hide should be ready| that some other magic is on it such | for more work in about 2 Hours. | as a bless or an enhanced crit or | Round time: 60 sec. | damage capability which indicates | | that it could be enchanted if these \________________________________/ magicks were not on it. A brief glow that quickly fades is an indication that the item is not capable of The item is now tempered and the being enchanted. What we all hope waiting period has been reached. It to see instead, is the potion oozing is time for phase two, the actual over the item and joining with it's casting of the spell in an attempt structure. When this happens, the to enhance it. mage quickly rubs it in and presto, the item is tempered! Various factors come into play when -=5=- More... the actual Spell is cast upon the ________________________________ item. These factors are: / \ | Or (hopefully not) this: Injury | 1. The location: Some sites give | and loss of all power points. | better chances of success. Best of | | all is the private workshop if the | You gesture at an eog sword. | mage is lucky enough to have one. | (D100(open): 14) | | | 2. The item itself: If it has magic | You concentrate on casting your | already on it, then the mage will | magicks at the sword. Suddenly, | not recognize it and the odds of | a blue flame erupts from the | success are much lower. This is true | sword and strikes you down! | for the first attempt only. After | Knocked down by fiery blast to | the first attempt, the mage then | left leg. Extra 10 concussion | forever recognizes the item unless | points of damage. | another mage tempers it with potion. | You are stunned! | \________________________________/ 3. The potion applied: The greater the strength (and the cost) of the ________________________________ potion, the better the chances for / \ success. | Or (even worse) this: A Loss of | | Enchantment, reduced by 5. | 4. The power of the mage: As the | | mage advances in level, so does the | You recognize the leather from | potency of his spell. | when you worked on it before. | | It currently has a bonus of +5. | 5. The roll of the dice: This is the | As you concentrate on casting | bottom line determining factor of | your magicks upon it, faint | success/failure. A high roll will | sparkles surround and embed the | certainly guarantee victory, while a | leather but then begin to pulse | low roll could result in no gain, | strangely. The structure of the | loss of potency, cursing of the item | leather is in a state between | (by which it is blackened and also | normality and magic pliability, | reduced to a -5 bonus), or worst of | and begins to warp and crackle! | all, the destruction of the item and | Hurriedly, you struggle and try | (or) the mage. Fortunately, most of | to withdraw or dispel the magic | the time there is either no gain or | from the leather. You finally | enhancement. | succeed and manage to force the | | leather to keep its form, but | ________________________________ | it feels weaker somehow after | / \ | its ordeal. | | Casting the spell looks like this| \________________________________/ | to the mage: | | | ________________________________ | Failure | / \ | | | Or (Worst of all) : Destruction | | You gesture at some heavy hide | | of the item. | | (D100(open): 62) | | | | | | You gesture at some heavy hide. | | You concentrate on casting the | | (D100(open): 28) | | magicks at the hide. Faint | | | | sparkles surround and embed it | | The hide shakes violently and | | and try to bond with its | | blossoms into an intense ball of | | structure. Something is not | | white flame, which then explodes | | quite right though, and the | | in a shower of sparks! The hide | | sparkles fade. | | burns to a crisp and disappears, | | | | right before your eyes. | \________________________________/ \________________________________/ (Continued Page 9) -=6=- ____________ Justice in Medieval Society / \ ________ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|~|~~|| | by Geoff Stonehand | |~|_ ~~ | _| |~|-| | /@| |~| |rom time to time in would tend to put it into the 900 to \_/ ~~~~~ /the town of Kelfour's 1200 A.D. range, which appears to be ~~~~~~~~~~~ Landing justice -- or based mostly upon Anglo/Saxon/Norman lack thereof -- is a topic of heavy society. This was based upon the conversation which often transcends types of weapons, armor, clothing, roleplaying, usually resulting in a et cetera, which is available to the great amount of Out Of Character adventurers in the Landing. It is comments and actions. In a review of the availability of these goods to material from my library, so as to all of the participants, which thus give Geoff the proper attitudes, places them above the rank of mere superstitions and background for the peasants. time period and the culture from which he came, I have produced a Peasants, were very rarely given the brief summary of that material as it opportunity to obtain the weapons relates to justice, behavior, and to and armor which are easily available Lords and Ladies (I will trust that to anyone in the Landing with the no offense is taken if I hereafter necessary coin. This suggested that use the term Lord as a genderless there were a great many adventurers term). This is offered as a basis which were of noble birth, or at for further debate and comment, and least a freeman from a very wealthy as a perspective on some additional family. Everyone in theory has the roleplaying. chance to become a Lord. When a certain adventurer decided to The Medieval Lords were the absolute take justice into (his) own hands in masters of the geographical area in regards to some petty thievery, the which they owned or managed for a administration of justice resulted higher Lord. They answered only to a in the unintended death of the young higher political personage such as a thief. This also resulted in the King or sometimes grudgingly to the ostracizing of the older adventurer high Clerical Lords. Not having the by the clerics and healers of the chance for resurrection was a very land. It was a disappointment to me serious matter in those days, as is when the adventurer chose to leave now in Kelfour's, and it would be a the lands (although I am glad to see rare Lord who would openly defy any close relations of the adventurer high level cleric. have returned to the Landing). An excellent opportunity for fantastic Lords many times were either knights roleplaying was lost. Although the or warriors which had excelled in adventurer may have had additional battle and often times had held the reasons for choosing to leave the land and their position by virtue of Landing, (his) original actions, as their fighting abilities and their well as the actions of the other ruthlessness towards enemies. Celtic adventurers, were not uncharacter- traditions almost always had their istic of medieval society. holy men and women as an integral part of the warfare and, indeed, the Our small society within Kelfour's mace accompanied a great many of the Landing has some of the aspects of clerics on to the battle field. an actual medieval village, and some very important differences. The main Many times the great holdings of the difference is the distinct lack of clerical community were won on the peasants, which were a large part of battle field rather than from piety. the time period. If I gave Kelfour's The Bill of Rights grows out of the Landing a comparative time frame in medieval time period, but it did not regards to the actual Dark Ages, I exist at that time. Even the young -=7=- More... nobles were subservient to the Lord, this time period, was the 'hue and and it was recorded that even simple cry'. Where upon observing or being rudeness was on occasion dealt with the victim of a crime, a hue and cry great severity. was raised, which required everyone in earshot to stop what they were In a text from the time period, a doing and render aid. To not render medieval author suggested that there aid when the hue and cry was raised, was a fine line between a Lord and a often times resulted in a heavy Tyrant. The Lord was responsible for fine. Similarly, raising a hue and those individuals under his care. cry without provocation resulted in Many Lords and heads of clans were a fine. forcibly removed from their position when they had transgressed too much There is a bit of justice prevalent against the peoples over which they in Kelfour's Landing in that certain had been Lords. crimes committed in the Landing will result in the town constable hauling Justice in that time period shows the guilty party off to jail and a the roots of what eventually became fine being assessed. This, however, modern legal traditions. Many court does not cover all the injustices documents of the time period gave us which sometimes occur, and does not interesting insight into different really require much in the way of aspects of medieval justice. roleplaying. In some of the villages it had been How much more interesting it would recorded that at least twice a year have been if our errant adventurer a Hallmote was held so that various had accidentally killed an accused crimes and many other transgressions thief, was brought before a group of could be handled. Usually presided his peers or a council of Lords, and over by a Lord or his designate, the required to pay a heavy fine to the cases handled ranged anywhere from injured party and perhaps required petty theft to slander. A great many to do a penance before the clerics times the punishment was a fine or, would again help him. in the cases of crimes that involved clerical matters, penance might have On the other hand, I have seen Lords been required in the form of a deed and Ladies so rudely treated that I or work. was tempted to administer a sound thrashing myself because I found the More serious crimes were handled at behavior offensive. From all that I the higher levels and almost always could glean from my texts, failure involved the Lord or group of Lords to show proper respect, or failure for a decision. In the Hallmote, to use proper manner when addressing although presided over by a Lord or a Lord, could result in banishment his designate, the judges were peers at the least and death at the most. of the accused (often twelve in number, but sometimes as few as 6). Conflicts in Kelfour's Landing among adventurers will be rare, and this In the case of a perceived injustice would be the case in a medieval committed by a Lord against a lesser fortified town which is often beset the injured party had the right to by a rather varied force of nasties. sue the Lord through the Hallmote. Landing inhabitants, for their own In as much as winning a case against preservation, help each other, and a Lord could be detrimental after cooperation is often demonstrated. this was a rare occurrence. The more serious offenses committed by Lords Adventurers who have reached the were many times handled by groups of level of Lord are not immune to an higher level lords, or higher level occasional death. Even one of the clerics. more cruel Lords in Kelfour's is rather mellow when compared to some An interesting aspect of justice in of the beasties outside of the town. -=8=- More... Conflicts have occurred and offered as compared to the English medieval some interesting possibilities for traditions) and incidentally, Henryk roleplaying. Siendkiewicz was the author of "Quo Vadis". I hope this brief discourse will help to give fellow adventurers a "The Horse Goddess" Morgan Llywelyn, historical perspective on handling Houghton-Mifflin 1992, Keltic tribes the conflicts within the confines of of 8th Century B.C. their characters. "Bard - Odyssey of the Irish" Morgan The following bibliography represent Llywelyn, Houghton - Mifflin, 1984, some of the more easily obtainable more of the Keltic wanderings 4th texts from my personal library, of Century B.C. which those who are so inclined should be able to find at a local This dissertation was submitted for bookstore or local library. the author by Geoff Stonehand, in the hopes that it will stimulate "Life in a Medieval Village : 1066 - some roleplaying and provide some 1485." Frances and Joseph Giles, reference material for the medieval Harper & Row, 1990 time period. "Life in a Medieval Castle", Frances ____________________________________ and Joseph Giles, Harper & Row, 1974 Enchantment True - from page 6 "In Search of the Dark Ages, to ____________________________________ 1066" Michael Wood, Facts on File Publications, 1987 ________________________________ / \ "Portable Medieval Reader" Edited by | Or success! (Yay!) | James Bruce Ross and Mary Martin | | McLaughlin, Penguin Books, 1977 (the | You gesture at some heavy hide. | actual texts from the time period) | (D100(open): 77) | | | "A World Lit Only by Fire - Medieval | You recognize the hide from when | Mind and the Renaissance" William | you worked on it before. It | Manchester, Little Brown & Company, | currently has a bonus of +5. As | 1992-93 | you concentrate on casting your | | magicks at it, faint sparkles | "A Distant Mirror - the calamitous | surround and embed the hide, and | 14th Century" Barbara W. Tuchman, | join themselves to its very | Ballantine Books, 1978 | structure. The sparkles pulse | | brighter, and in unison. A very | "Warlords and HolyMen-Scotland A.D. | bright aura suddenly surrounds | 80-1000" Alfred P. Smyth, Edinburgh | the hide and seems to consume | University Press, 1984 | it! After a moment the glow | | fades and then the hide returns | "The Celts - Uncovering Mythic and | to normal. The enchantment was | Historic Origins of Western Culture" | successful. | Jean Markale, Inner Traditions, 1993 | Round time: 20 sec. | \________________________________/ Fiction based on historical research "With Fire and Sword" by Henryk I hope this writing clears up some Sienkiewicz 1883, and translated by of the misconceptions of one of the W. S. Kunizcak, 1991 (the setting is greatest and most mysterious spells 16 - 17th Century Polish-Lithuanian in Kulthea. May the Gods bless you Commonwealth, representing the end all! of the medieval time period, and **************** gives a different picture of justice -=9=- A Matter of Honor (Part VI) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ by Sean2 Lladd _________________________________________________________________________ / \ Cast of Characters \ | @/_______________________________________________________________________/ | | | Sean - Fighter, Mercenary (Junior Journeyman Class), | | Our Hero | | Mikel - Guild Receptionist, Fighter, Mercenary | | (Master Class) | | Oskar - Guild Mage, Mercenary (Master Class) | | Theophilus - Guild Healer, Mercenary (Master Class) | | Torvaal - Captain "Torvaal's Weasels", Mercenary | | Miktok - Mage, Mercenary (Senior Journeyman Class) | | The T'Maerionnal - Sean's Maternal Grandfather, Elf Lord, | | Mage/Sorcerer (Master Class) | | Callinthaerion - Weapons Master and Guard Captain for House | | O'lun T'Maerionnal T'Maerionnal | | Lyrinda - Guild Healer, Mercenary (Senior Apprentice Class) | | Grandmother Nolly - Sean's Nurse/Housekeeper, (Mage?) | | | | _____________ | | / \ _________ \ he story so far: Our hero, Sean 'tek T'Maerionnal, a | | \@| ||=|=|=|| | half-elven mercenary, reported to the local mercenary | | | ~~ |_| ~~ | guild chapter to press charges against his company | | _| |_| | commander. When asked to state his true name, he was | | /@| _|_|_ | incapacitated by an elvish name curse placed upon him | | \_/__________/ by his maternal grandfather. | | | | After nullifying most of the curse, the resident guild mage placed | | Sean into a spell - enhanced rapport with a memory recording crystal. | | Sean's memories and past experiences were recorded. Upon completion of | | the trance, the mage was attacked by a demon lord, supposedly sent by | | Sean's grandfather. The mage banished the demon and all returned to | | normal. | | | | It is now a few hours later, after Sean "reviewed" the crystal. | | | | @\~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~\ | | The story continues ... | \_/______________________________________________________________________/ "Well," asked the healer quietly. my life as naught; but the lives of "What do you think?" two innocent lovers, one destroyed by his refusal to help, and the Truthfully, I didn't know how to other by his machinations--this was answer. All the things I had done, a debt that required settlement. I the lies I had told, the "truths" I silently swore to pay it in full. had believed for the last ten years, seemed for naught, a facade created I could not tell how I knew that my to foster an old man's hatred and a grandfather had caused my parents to mercenary's greed. die, or how I knew of the manner of their deaths. The information fit Of the two, I hated the old man with my other new-found "memories;" more. Not only did his hatred twist I accepted the knowledge as fact. my life, but possibly my parents' deaths could be laid at his feet. In I looked up at the group surrounding my confusion and anguish, I counted me. The healer, whom I had jokingly -=10=- called a man-mountain, stood to one of the charges laid by Torvaal. This side, the concern and compassion he was all I wanted to do. My "appren- felt obvious. Every healer I have ticeship" with Torvaal was over, and ever known has been honest and car- I hoped to be able to join another ing, and I expected Theo to be the company at the same time. The rest-- same. It's why Torvaal never had a sword, lies, my grandfather's part healer in his company; they are too in it all, these things I had no honest by half for his "tastes." knowledge of. I swear." Mikel: a one - armed man carrying a "Well," Mikel said thoughtfully, "as sword. His presence was comfortable for Torvaal, the guild, knowing him, and familiar, but for no reason that never accepted his story. But they I could recall. The sight of him have been unable to find evidence to carrying a hand-and-a-half was as contravene his testimony, until now. incongruous as I had ever seen, but the sword made it even more so. The "And," he added with a smile, "That sword flickered at the corner of my is probably why the guild has taken eyes whenever he shifted and was so long to come to a final decision difficult to look at directly. He on the guild-fine. searched my eyes, and then he nodded in approval, as if he knew what I "We can take that testimony later," had resolved. he continued. "Right now we need to get that sword before Torvaal and The mage watched me as if I were an Miktok can disappear with it." experiment that might yield inter- esting results. His face was a stone "I don't think that will happen," wall and ceded about as much infor- said Oskar, with a mischievous grin. mation. The healer's apprentice was no - one that I knew; she would not Theo raised an eyebrow in Oskar's look at me and seemed uncomfortable direction, and Mikel shook his head in my presence. and smiled. That seemed to leave the question to me. "How do you know I knew that I owed these people an that?" I asked. answer, but I was unable to come up with a coherent response. That I had Oskar gave me a tight grin. "I--ah-- come to this place to file charges shall we say, "arranged" it so that against my commander, this they all the sword in question will be un- knew. That the answers I had "found" available to anyone save myself. For were not what I expected -- perhaps at least the next full day. this they didn't know. But what to tell them? And how? Maybe the truth "And how did I do that?" he went on, would be best. raising a finger to forestall me. "How? That's for me to know--and why "I never expected this," I said, I am a Master Mage." pointing at the crystal in Oskar's hands. "My only thought was to cor- Mikel gave an explosive snort and rect a wrong that I was aware of. I winged the nearest pillow at the did NOT expect to find that the past mage. Oskar gestured quickly and the ten years of my life had been based pillow stopped in mid-air. Theo made on lies." a grab for the hovering pillow, but it evaded him easily and floated My words came slowly. I think I was around the room. The fighter and the trying to explain it to myself as mage collapsed in laughter at the well as to the others. They waited look on Theo's face, while I watched quietly while I sorted out my feel- amazed. He glared at them in exas- ings and thoughts. peration and then he too laughed. "When I came in to file charges, I I shook my head in wonderment that planned to clear the Armont Company these masters of their respective -=11=- crafts could act so child - like and consolation, you can say that you foolish, given the circumstances. had four master-class guild members Mikel caught my look and laughed the as personal servants." harder, pointing a shaking finger in my direction. Then the others began "Oh," I replied. "That's right. If to laugh all over again. The laugh- no-one else can enter, and we can't ter was so infectious that I, too, leave... began to laugh--at them, at myself, at the poor apprentice healer, who "But that still doesn't explain why was blushing and trying hard to fig- I, er-r we, have to remain here," I ure out why we were all laughing. persisted. "And why does the room have to be warded at all?" After some minutes of near-hysteria, we began to catch our breath. Mikel "As to the why part," replied Oskar, wiped tears from his eyes, while "Theo and I have to add some testi- Theo and Oskar both held a hand to mony to the crystal anyway, so I'll their sides. It was another span of link you up as a monitor and then minutes before we could breathe eas- you will know why." ily enough to attempt conversation. And all the while, the errant pillow "Now?" asked the healer. floated around the infirmary like a small, lost cloud. "It'll make the lad feel better--and it would be a good precaution." Oskar, casting a mocking eye at the healer, mumbled an incantation and "I take your meaning," came Theo's the pillow floated to a point above quiet reply. Theo. It hovered, then dropped into the healer's lap. He watched it war- "As Oskar has already briefed me," ily, as if it were some temporarily Mikel said laconically, "I'll finish quiescent creature that might turn arrangements with the master, get on him any second. He poked a tenta- additional duty personnel assigned, tive hand at it. When nothing more and do whatever else needs doing happened, he grabbed it quickly and before we pay Torvaal a visit. placed it next to him on the cot. "Is there anything you want from "Well," I said as calmly as your room, brother?" he added, turn- possible. "If the sword's not going ing to the mage. anywhere, when do we go get it?" "Yes, get my pack off the wall over Mikel looked me over and said, "We? my bed and the rosewood staff in the There is no 'we' as far as you're corner, the one I got as a reward concerned. Theo, Oskar and I will go from the Duchess of Cathmoor." for the sword. You and Lyrinda are keeping each other company in this At Theo's raised eyebrow, the mage room for the next two or three days, blushed and said frostily, "It was a possibly longer." legitimate guild contract!" The mage stared at the healer as if daring "WHAT!?!" him to say anything more. Then he turned back to Mikel and snapped, "That's right. Oskar modified the "If you're leaving, leave! And Theo, door wards so that only four speci- check the wards and be prepared to fic people can pass..." monitor for us." "And that's at least two more than I "But, master Oskar, I can monitor," feel comfortable with," interjected interjected Lyrinda. the mage. "No, girl, not this time. If Sean's "...and you are NOT one of them," grandfather has another trick up his continued the fighter. "If it's any sleeve like the last one, you would -=12=- not last ten seconds. It'll take all At the very end, as the demon disap- of your master's skill and power to peared into the summoned blackness hold long enough for me to come to leaving only its tail behind, I felt his aid. Believe me, it's no deni- the mage's joy. gration of your skills, but concern for your well-being." There was disorientation as the link dissolved and I found myself back in Mikel had already left the room with my own head and body. I panted, so a brief salute to me, so there was wrapped up in what I had been "see- nothing to do but comply with the ing" that I'd forgotten to breathe. mage's instructions. The first thing Oskar did while Theo settled into a As I recovered, I watched the mage trance was to reinforce the reading work with Theo to link the master spell he had cast on me earlier. healer's testimony into the crystal. I was still trying to reconcile the He then closed his eyes and held the power and strength I had seen while crystal out in front of him while he linked to the mage's mind with the chanted a brief incantation. I saw a fragile and weak-looking individual slender green beam shoot from the sitting by me. Never again would I mage's forehead to the crystal. With let appearances rule my perceptions. another flash of green, I was watch- ing the world through Oskar's eyes. Evidently my thoughts were plain on I saw immediately the knowledge and my face, for after finishing with wisdom stored in his mind like the the healer and muttering a spell to drawers and cubbyholes in a desk. re-seal the crystal, Oskar glanced at me and smiled strangely. When I recovered my equilibrium, I noticed that a swarm of blue spheres "Some day," he said, wrapping the surrounded "us," buzzing like angry crystal in a piece of green silk, hornets. "Ganzer's Malignant Wisps," "you will do with a sword what I do the mage's mind identified them, with my magic. If you live so long," with a comment about Miktok that I he added with a wink. "Speaking of didn't quite catch through the link. swords, I see that Mikel is ready to I could see lines of power--red, go after that sword your grandfather blue, and black, and some that were gifted you with." colors I had no names for. I knew, however, from the mage's mind, that "Yep," laughed the fighter. "This is these were all spells that existed going to be the most fun I've had in the room. all month. So, if you all are ready, let's get it done! I caught my breath as a set of large talons formed in the weave of spells "Sean and Lyrinda, the master will before me. I felt panic, but Oskar's bring your lunch in a little while. mind got more focused and precise. I Try to behave in the meantime." "listened" in awe as he reviewed and discarded spells and variants, cast Lyrinda flushed. She glanced at me to reinforce the door ward, cast and smiled and turned even redder. I again to negate the wisps -- all at looked back to speak to Mikel--and nearly the same time and without they were gone. I didn't even hear any strain. He actually enjoyed it! the door shut. When I turned back to Lyrinda, she was headed for the far Finally, he controlled five spells end of the room, straightening out that I could see via the linkage, blankets and pillows as she went. probably more. I felt him draw power That left me with myself. from a source indecipherable to me, and in immense quantities. The noise How come nothing ever turns out like generated by the demon-thing trapped you planned it? in the spells was tremendous, but Oskar's concentration never failed. (to be continued) -=13=- _____________ Live by the Sword (and the Mace and the Axe...) / \ _________ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ||=|=|=|| | by Gildas Laogh | ~~ |_| ~~ | _| |_| | /@| _|_|_ | he fighter class, I'll call you Crusher, okay? Now, a \_/__________/ well known for its source I can't mention tells me that two-fisted, hard-headed, devil-may- you fighters are stupid. Is it true? care style, is the chosen profession of many of the inhabitants of Kel- Crusher: <Roar> No! We're not nearly four's Landing. I sought a specimen that smart! of this fine class for a personal interview and accompanied him during GL: I am told that you folks will a day's adventure, an experience by smash anything you see. which I hoped to gain insight into the risks and rewards of this noble Crusher: Wrong! We're just like nor- profession. I did this also because mal people. We smash anything we I drew the short straw at the Jour- don't understand. nalists' Guild meeting. GL: I see. And that is... GL: Good morning to you! I'm Gildas, and what's your name? Crusher: Right. ALMOST anything. Fighter: <Silence> GL: Acquaintances have told me that fighters are so distrustful of magic GL: <A bit louder> What's your name? that <laughs heartily> even hearing the word "magic" can throw them into Fighter: <Silence> a murderous rage. But that must just be rumor, right? GL: I say, are you deaf? At this point, your Courageous Cor- Crusher: grrrrRRRRROOOARRRR! <BANG!> respondent discovered that he had <CRUNCH!> <SMASH!> been addressing the fighter's knee- cap and craned his neck upward to After the interpreter enlisted the restart the interview. aid of local clerics and healers, your Indomitable Interviewer was GL: Good morning! How are you? prepared to carry on his task. Fighter: URG. GL: Good thing I had deeds. Well, it is certainly true that you fighters GL: That's nice. What's your name, are highly skilled in the physical and where do you come from? arts, masters of all weapons, and technicians who know exactly how Fighter: GRRMPH-THRZEK. <ROAR!> much to parry in a battle. After a short break to obtain an interpreter skilled in Grunt, the Crusher: What's that "parry" stuff? interview continued. Is that one of them there MAGIC thingies? <Bangs his morningstar, GL: So, your name is...? of a size to cause solar eclipses when thrown into the air, on the Fighter: <Silence> pavement - causing major structural damage to seven nearby buildings.> Interpreter: Are you sure you're licensed? He's not responding. GL: <Nervous laugh> NoNoNoNotatall! Fighter: My name? Hold on, I'll And that, I believe, concludes our remember it soon. interview. Next, we follow Crusher through a normal day of adventuring. GL: Let's get on with the interview. * * * -=14=- 11:04 AM: Crusher wakes up when a ter, of the firm Shyster, Feinprint, hobbit in a pointy hat with stars on Neusance, an' Oyance. Mr. Shyster it miscasts a Lightning Bolt, which informs Crusher, in seven thousand turns Crusher's head into a smoking four hundred sixty-two words, none gelatinous mass. For a fighter, this of which is smaller than eleven let- is a minor wound, but Crusher blinks ters, that he represents the bakery, and hesitates for a moment. and that unless the aforesaid micro- cephaphalic barbarian unreservedly 11:05 AM: Crusher enjoys a breakfast contractualizes commitment to pay of sliced fresh hobbit. 11,000,000 silvers damages, as well as paying full price for the 7,485 11:31 AM: Crusher begins the daily chocolate chip cookies, wafers, and hunt by killing something. biscuits which said barbarian con- sumed, ingested, and devoured, the 11:32 AM: Crusher kills something party of the barbaric first part again. would be subject to legal action to recover said damages, plus court 11:33 AM: . . . costs, legal fees, and bribe monies, in addition to additional possible 1:22 PM: Crusher is angered when a civil and criminal-- lumberjack fells a 145' tree, which lands on Crusher's head. He ponders 6:58 PM: Crusher indulges his culin- what to do about this insult. ary fantasies by preparing Shyster Sushi and enjoying a light snack. 2:14 PM: Crusher decides to thank the lumberjack for a nifty new bump 7:03 PM: Crusher gets indigestion. on his head. 7:05 PM: Crusher kills something. 2:15 PM: Crusher forgets what he was about to do and kills something. 7:06 PM: . . . 2:17 PM: Crusher kills another one. 1:17 AM: In a rare contemplative mood, Crusher is pondering the won- 3:49 PM: Crusher eats a late lunch. derful patterns created by pounding In a good mood, he promises to pay one boulder into another and smash- for the torkaan flock he ate. ing them both to bits, when another man in a funny suit turns up and 4:32 PM: Crusher kills something. tells Crusher that his name is C. Vic Neusance, of the firm Fein- 4:33 PM: . . . print, Neusance, an' Oyance, and that unless-- 6:28 PM: Back in town, Crusher gets into what may be the melee of his 1:18 AM: Still in a mellow mood, life! Minutes and minutes go by, and Crusher tells Mr. Neusance that he he can't even stun his opponent! has to a count of three to scram or be pounded into silly-putty. 6:48 PM: The Town Constable timidly informs Crusher that he has been 1:19 AM: As Mr. Neusance hastily attacking the revolving door of the remembers a court date, Crusher con- bakery for twenty minutes now, and tinues trying to remember what comes that it is likely dead. after the number "one". 6:52 PM: Unable to find the bakery 1:20 AM: . . . exit, Crusher creates one. 2:04 AM: Crusher falls asleep. At 6:57 PM: Crusher is accosted by a about this time, your Captivating man in a funny dark suit who carries Chronicler remembers that he has a a squarish satchel. The man tells deadline he must meet and that he Crusher his name is Larsen E. Shys- should be going. -=15=- (Continued Page 17) ______________ From the Notes of The Apprentice Mage / \ ____ ____ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~| | | |~ | by Darkraven Grim | |~|--|~| | _| |~|--|~| | /@| _|~| |~|_ |erein my young Mages gain in years this time is reduced \_/ ~~~~ ~~~~ /may ye find the path to five seconds. At my tender age I ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ to power. As I study do not know if it is reduced even the spells of power from my master's further than that, but I eagerly tome and use such power out in the watch and learn. You will know when wilds, I shall gladly impart to ye your spell is ready. You can prepare what I hath found. your spell while defending at parry 100, a good idea. Herewith follow the notes of my first year as Apprentice Mage and of Casting: You must cast your spell the first incantation I learned to soon, for the power will dissipate use. and feed upon your manna even if you do not cast the spell; then it must The Shockbolt Spell be prepped again. To cast the spell Your first and most valuable spell. you simply use the command Cast. Be Here first is what is told (not much careful however as this command will alas) in the ancient tomes under the cast the spell at yourself. The more mages list. effective way to cast would be CAST AT <target>. For example, CAST AT _________________________________ KOBOLD or CAST AT HOB. / \ \ \@| 1 Shock Bolt (901) SHOCKBOLT | The spell uses the Directed Skill; | | this skill is also affected by your | A bolt of intense, charged | parry. Therefore, the spell is much | light is shot from the palm | like a weapon in the tactics you use | of the caster; results are | and much better than a weapon, for | determined on the Shock Bolt | there is no round time in the actual | Table. This is an elemental | casting of the spell. Think on it my | attack spell and uses the | young Mages. You can Parry 0, Cast | Directed Spells skill for | at Hobgoblin and parry 100 with | aiming. | hardly a breath in between, leaving | | yourself defenseless for a second or | Notes: | two. Even those quicker Monsters who | Shock bolts are inversely | may not be parry-tagged can be spell | affected by armor, meaning | tagged! | that wearing any plate armor | | would leave you defenseless | The Result: Here again is the main | if struck by a shock bolt. | advantage of the shock bolt spell | _______________________________| over most weapons. You will hear of |@\ \ the spell power against metal armors \/______________________________/ and I too will speak of that. I do wish however, to point out something Little this treatise tells of the of import. The shockbolt spell hits true nature of the spell. This spell Heavy Hide easier than a falchion! will become the staple of all your Not only that but you can only train attack spells, the one to which all once per level in the skill of One- others are compared. Let us examine Handed Weapons and twice in Directed it in detail. Spells. Therefore, your OB for the casting of the spell is greater than Preparation: The spell (as in all that of your weapon skill, if thou spells) must be prepared. "Prep 901" art properly trained. --this initiates the spell and takes time to do. Young Mages will require Here follows the Table of the Shock ten seconds to achieve this. As you bolt spell. -=16=- More... _________________________________ / \ \ counterattack. \@| None L.Hide H.Hide | | 65(08) 70(07) 77(06) | Heavy Charge (3 rounds): Now is the | | time to attack twice, 3 times if you | L.Brea R.Mail C.Haub | feel lucky. | 75(04) 81(12) 05(13) | | | Higher stuns: The stuns higher than | M.Brea H.Plate F.Plate | these run from 5 to 20 rounds. These | -24(14) -36(15) -41(16) | should give you plenty of time to | | finish off any reasonable creature. | The first number is the To Hit | The one exception is the blow that | requirement. The second is the | knocks him down and stuns him for 3 | damage that is inflicted with | rounds. Even though the stun is only | a modified roll of 120. | 3 rounds, its DB on the ground while | _______________________________| stunned is so low that it becomes |@\ \ an easy target. \/______________________________/ Finally we should speak of manna -- As you can see, the rolls for the more commonly known as Power Points. Shock bolt spell are easier to hit The cost in manna is only 1 for the (with a few exceptions) than most shock bolt spell. While the 1st year weapons. This fact -- plus the fact Mage may lose manna very quickly, that you cannot break a spell, have in a VERY few levels you will be more OB if you double-trained in casting this spell often and without Directed Spells, and suffer no Round regret. The Shock bolt spell is the Time -- make this a spell of worth. mainstay of the Mage's power: light in cost, easy to use and devastating Even the low damages achieved are in effect. misleading. I find that criticals using the shock bolt spell do the Truly a spell of power. real damage -- that and the stuns achieved. Once properly stunned, a ------------------------------------ monster is rather easy prey for your The Apprentice Mage - From page 15 secondary attack, your weapon. When ------------------------------------ it comes to metal-armored monsters, Coincidentally, a band of Grey Orcs there is nothing better than a good passed by at this time and cast Stun Shock bolt spell (until later, that Clouds at the helpless fighter. Your is). Metal Breastplated Hobgoblins Invincible Inscriber was tempted to may as well cast themselves on their return and aid the dumb slob, but swords than face even a young Mage. the Higher Ideals of Journalistic Integrity sometimes force hard deci- We must also spend time studying the sions on those who follow The Path. criticals to use the full knowledge of the spell. Here, we will look at When last seen, Crusher was a little only criticals that cause a stun. annoyed at the loss of hair but pleased that the damage was limited Light Charge, or Explosion of Light to a gaping hole in his abdomen. (1 round): Be careful of these stuns ________________________________ as they are short. Even one attack | The Editor wishes to point out | immediately after achieving the stun | that he has the highest regard | may not allow you to get back to | for fighters, that some of his | parry 100 before the creature can | best friends are fighters, and | recover and counterattack. | that the accompanying article, | | while vastly entertaining, re- | Medium Charge (2 rounds): This stun | presents the views of the In- | will allow you to strike one time | trepid Interlocutor, and not | with your weapon with good assurance | necessarily those of KE. | that you can make parry 100 before a -------------------------------- -=17=- ____________ Dreams Sacred and Profane - Part I / \ _________\ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ||=|=|=|| | by Gallenod Varvnesti | ~~ |_| ~~ | _| |_| | /@| _|_|_ | he caravan entered caravan, but he had been frightened \_/__________/ Pragor, the ancestral by the experience so badly that he seat of the Duke of Meloria, without was almost useless. He rode with fanfare, barely a ripple in the sea Algo. The mercenaries Brugo hired to of traffic passing through the front protect the caravan had pitched in gate. Algo Stonearm sighed in relief to help drive the other two wagons as the wagons passed through the for the remainder of the trip. solid stone gate of the outer keep. After two weeks out in the open, the Mercenaries. Algo shook his head young dwarf was glad to see that a sadly. They had all been taken by solid stone roof would cover his surprise from the ambush up on the head tonight while he slept. He felt mountain trail. Delphia's magic had safer already. been of little use, as she had been struck down from behind. The half- "Algo! Quit your daydreaming and get elven ranger, Gaden Pathwarden, and the horses and wagons quartered!" the human cleric, Pelag Belorson, Brugo Ironhand, the caravan master, had both been taken out by cunningly glared at the young apprentice with constructed traps. They drove the ill-concealed bad humor. The grey- third wagon. bearded older dwarf was still surly about being ambushed by ogres in the On the last wagon, a huge, brooding mountains. If not for a stroke of figure sat alone: Andar Trollbane, amazing good fortune, they might all the leader of the mercenary group. have died. He had spoken little the rest of the trip, his mood dark and gloomy. Even "Oh, Brugo, let the poor boy be. I Delphia could not lift the perpetual am quite sure he knows his work." frown from the high man's brow. The voice was musical, female, and elven. Delphia Atyanna smiled at the Algo was right; haggling with the grumpy master trader and started stable master did improve Brugo's lightly stroking his balding pate. mood, though the stable master was Brugo could not help but to blush glaring at nearly everyone after the slightly at the attention. Delphia negotiations were over. The group was a typical elven female -- which stabled their horses and padlocked meant she was tall and lithe, as their wagons in a small warehouse. as stunningly attractive. Algo noticed Brugo transfer a small package to his backpack. He had no The old dwarf grumbled a bit more idea what it was. Their official under his breath, but deferred to cargo consisted mainly of fine rugs the elven magess. Algo breathed a and other woven goods. Perhaps that sigh of relief and started the lead package was the item the ogres had wagon in the direction of the livery been seeking. stable. Maybe, thought Algo, a bit of haggling with the proprietor of The ogres had beaten the mercenaries the stables would greatly improve and Brugo, but had been tricked by his master's mood. the little hobbit that had joined them at the last stop. Algo was sure The rest of the wagons followed that something else happened after along. Brugo and Delphia drove the that, but could not seem to remember second wagon. The teamsters who had exactly what it had been. He had started the trip with the caravan apparently fainted. The mercenaries had run away during the ogre attack had said something about their boss, a week earlier. Only one returned the infamous sorcerer Whizbamph the from the dark forest to rejoin the Incredible, and a Forget spell. Algo -=18=- shrugged mentally. He was almost The little hobbit beamed at the elf. glad he could not remember; it must have been a traumatic experience for "You are a nice elf," said Wimby. "I such complete memory loss. He had no like you." He bit into the apple, interest in dealing with sorcerers, managing to cover his entire face and had no desire to meet one. with juice in the process. Algo bowed, tugging at his whiskers. "Hey you! Put that apple down!" Algo turned to see an apple merchant "Thank you, sir. I appreciate the wagging her finger at a small figure help. Do you know Wimby?" who was holding an apple almost as large as his head. The elf looked down at the hobbit, who was still greedily consuming the "You gotta pay for that, you little apple, and chuckled. "Wimby?" he thief!" she shrieked. The hobbit replied. "No, I do not know any looked at her brightly, as if she hobbits named Wimby. A hobbit did me were a particularly amusing stage a good turn though, once. A very act. This seemed to infuriate her good turn. I try to repay the favor even more. Algo moved to intercede as often as I can." The elf smiled, before she did something drastic. as if at some private joke. "Please, Goodwife," offered Algo, Wimby waved and scampered off into "he is not a thief. I am sure he the crowd, always managing to avoid meant to pay for the apple." Algo getting stepped on or run over. Algo looked sideways at the hobbit and sighed. Wimby had gotten this far in whispered, "you do have money, do life without him around to hobbit- you not?" sit, so he turned back to his duties. Wimby Littlefoot was still smiling "You are with the caravan that just broadly at the apple merchant as he came in, are you not?" the elf asked whispered back, "Money? Why should Algo politely. "The one with the I carry money?" Algo's heart sank mercenaries?" and he reached for his purse. "Yes," Algo replied guardedly. After Another figure had come through the the ambush on the trip, he was wary crowd to see the commotion. He was a of strangers inquiring into their tall elf, dressed in midnight blue business. fighting leathers with a matching cloak and thigh-length black boots. "Ah, good," said the elf. "My name He had flowing silver hair and wore is Lachmar Belgesti. I need to talk an ornate rapier at his side. Algo with your escorts." noticed that his cloak clasp was a silver cat with emeralds for eyes. Algo started slightly at the name. The elf's eyes were the same shade as the emeralds. Lachmar Belgesti was the chief agent of the mercenary organization that "Is there a problem, Madam?" the elf Andar's group belonged to. He was a inquired. Seeing the hobbit with the legend in the mercenary business, apple, he chuckled, reached into his one of the most cunning minds in the purse, and handed a silver coin to known world, and was reputed to be the apple vendor. Seemingly stunned one of the finest swordsman that had by the elf's presence, the vendor ever lived. Algo had heard that in fumbled to make change. one particular duel, Lachmar signed his initials in his opponent's body "Never mind about that, Goodwife," before killing him. the elf smiled, "keep the change." "Y-yes sir," he stammered out. "I The vendor stammered unintelligibly, will take you to the Sleeping Lion curtsied and retreated to her stall. Inn immediately." -=19=- The elf frowned. "No," he said. "I the comment. Algo liked Gaden; the would like you to bring them to me ranger was almost as forthright as a at the inner keep. I have rooms for dwarf, but a lot more diplomatic them there. Also your master and of about it. course yourself. At the personal invitation of the Duke." Andar stared at the ranger. "Once again, my friend, you have pierced ******************** the heart of the matter. I am a stranger to failure. I know I should A day full of surprises, Algo had accept it more gracefully." Andar thought as he entered the Sleeping sighed. "But that I cannot do." Lion Inn. Meeting one of the more infamous mercenaries in the known Pelag moved to place his hand on world at an apple stall! A human Andar's shoulder. "As someone once Duke inviting two dwarves and the said, Andar: 'That which does not young mercenary band to stay in his kill us, makes us stronger.' We are keep! Algo was also surprised that not dead. Perhaps we shall yet gain Lachmar had invited the hobbit, too. something from this defeat." That was potential for disaster, Algo thought. The innocent and yet "Yet perhaps," Andar replied, "this mischievous little hobbit would be defeat will make us too cautious." an accident waiting for a place to He regarded each of his companions happen at Ducal court. in turn. "Can any of you honestly say that you have not given in to Brugo had not seemed surprised at some self-doubt since the fight?" the invitation. In fact, he seemed to have been expecting it. "About No one answered immediately. Pelag time, 'prentice," he growled. "Now lowered his head, as if in prayer. we can get this over with." Algo Delphia's eyes were moist; she sat nodded at his master and reminded down next to Andar and laid her head himself that Brugo would tell him on his shoulder. Gaden alone met what this was all about in his own Andar's gaze. good time. "Yes," said Gaden. "I have always The mercenaries, too, seemed to have had doubts, even before that fight. been expecting Lachmar, though they But true courage does not mean being were surprised at the invitation to fearless. It is overcoming fears and the inner keep. Andar's mood seemed doing what must be done anyway." to darken even further; he sulked With that, the ranger closed his while his companions packed. pack and gestured at the door. "Time to leave," he said. "Oh, Andar," sighed Delphia, "you are being silly. Alright, so we did The four friends left. Quietly. Algo not do that well on the trip. We are picked up a few last things and here, and we are safe. Everyone has closed his rucksack. Wimby sat in bad luck occasionally. We are just the corner, bright-eyed and alert. fortunate enough to have survived." He had not interrupted the entire discussion once, a rare thing for Andar closed his eyes and sighed. him. Now, he looked at Algo with a puzzled expression. "But he never has succumbed to bad luck, Delphia," offered Gaden. "He "How about you, Algo? Are you also has never before failed at anything unhappy?" asked the little hobbit. in his life that was important to him. Not combat, gaming, nothing. Algo shrugged. "No, I am just happy Not even love," he said, looking to be alive. I can fight, but I am meaningfully at Delphia. not a fighter. I do not take defeat personally, like they do. It may be The elven magess blushed deeply at a trader's view, but losing out in a -=20=- negotiation is usually instructive Lachmar nodded. "Yes, Your Highness. and rarely life-threatening. Comes Brugo, I believe the time has come with the job." to deliver your package." Wimby nodded. "Ok. Just checking." The old dwarf grunted and reached The hobbit beamed a smile at Algo inside his vest, then pulled out the and added: "I think you are much wrapped package that Algo had seen more than just a trader, Algo. You him take from the wagon earlier. He are a nice person, and you are my offered it to the Duke, who accepted friend." it with a sigh. Algo blushed slightly. With friends "Is it safe to open it?" the Duke like Wimby, he could look forward to asked. a long life full of angry apple merchants. The dwarf chuckled as he Lachmar nodded. "It was enchanted so escorted the hobbit out of the room. that only you could open it safely, Your Highness." The Ducal court was not what Algo had expected. There were no trumpet The Duke nodded. He stared off into fanfares, and the people seemed much space for a moment, and then seemed like those in the outer keep, if to come to a decision. "I thank you only slightly better dressed. Algo all for this. You have no idea what had always heard that human nobility this was, or that you risked your were vainglorious buffoons, obsessed lives for it. I feel that you have a with protocol. Not like the dwarven right to know the story behind your kings and queens, who were more like trip, and the forces that opposed parents to an extended family than you. Please, come with us." rulers. The healer frowned. "Milord Duke, is The atmosphere here was plain and this wise?" he asked. "Her condition simple. Almost funereal, Algo had is..." thought. Everyone seemed very quiet. Lachmar briefed them on the proper "Critical," sighed the Duke. "Yes, protocols, keeping a particular eye Satryn, I know. But I do not think on Wimby to make sure the hobbit did they can do any further damage. Who not wander off. knows, they might even be able to help." The Duke arrived, with two advisors following discretely behind. Edvar The healer nodded, though Algo could Thorson, Duke of Meloria, was an see that he still objected to their older man with flowing black hair presence. Just being overprotective, and a short beard. He appeared a bit Algo thought to himself. agitated and impatient. The Duke led them to a bedchamber. To his right was a cleric: Lord On the bed lay a beautiful and young Bishop Derek Thomason, the Duke's woman, asleep. Yet, her sleep was personal confessor. Pelag bowed to not peaceful. She twisted in the the senior cleric, who nodded in sheets. Her face was contorted in return. panic; she seemed to be struggling with something. Two nurses helped To his left was a man in plain white hold her still and tried to comfort robes. His skull was shaven. He was her. introduced as Master Healer Satryn Patan. The healer nodded and smiled "My daughter, Lady Janea, Marquise at the group. He seemed distracted, of Pragor," announced the Duke. "I too. am a widower; my wife died giving birth to our only child. Two months The Duke looked at Lachmar. "You ago, Janea was overtaken by this have it?" he asked. dreaming malady. She has been asleep -=21=- ever since, ravaged constantly by fully enjoy your hospitality." nightmares." At his voice, the girl on the bed moaned and twisted again. "Of course, of course!" exclaimed Her pain was mirrored in the Duke's the Duke. "How discourteous of me! I face. am so overcome with joy that I have been an ungracious host. Please, "Bishop Derek," continued the Duke, Lachmar, show them to their rooms. "determined that she has not been Dinner will be at nightfall." possessed by demons. Satryn felt that the nightmares were a psychic ******************** influence, and that the only way to combat them was to get her a mystic Lachmar sighed as the four young diadem that would help soothe her mercenaries left his chamber. The mind." meeting had not gone well, in his opinion. The praise heaped on them The Duke held up the package. "This, during dinner by the Duke had only should be the answer." He carefully deepened Andar's gloom. The boy felt broke the wax seal and unwrapped the unworthy of it all. The other three oilskin. He removed a silver circlet depended on the young fighter for with a single, large opal set in the spirit and leadership. They were front. The stone shimmered with a losing their edge. pearlescent light. He very carefully reached over and placed the diadem A small figure peeked out of the on his daughter's head. wardrobe. "Are they gone yet?" piped the hobbit. Janea's face softened slightly, and she sighed gently. She soon ceased "Of course they are gone, you hairy struggling and began breathing more pest," chuckled Lachmar. "You knew normally. The Duke looked relieved perfectly well they were. Do not try and smiled at Satryn. "It appears to play innocent with me. I know you you were right, old friend." The better." healer smiled in return, his eyes fixed on the diadem. The hobbit grinned back at the elf. Then he stopped smiling. "What do "Yes," Satryn replied, "it seems you think?" he asked. that I was right after all. Now all we have to do is wait." "Well," answered Lachmar, "I think they need a good kick in the pants. Maybe it was just his imagination, Andar in particular. Drat that boy. but Algo had a strange feeling that He refuses to stop doubting himself. what the healer seemed to be waiting He is used to doing the saving, not for was not the same thing as the the other way around. All the public Duke. Silly dwarf, he thought to thanks from the Duke just makes him himself, you're getting paranoid. feel more guilty." They left Janea with the nurses, who "Well, he just may get that kick." were given strict instructions to The hobbit smiled mysteriously. inform the Duke of any change in his daughter's condition. The Duke had "What game are you playing at now, insisted that everyone join him for you furry footstool?" Lachmar looked dinner to celebrate the diadem's dangerously at the little figure safe arrival. smiling up at him. The elf had seen that look before and knew it meant "Your pardon, your Highness," said only one thing: Trouble. Lachmar, "but might we have some time to freshen up? These good folks "To sleep, perchance to dream!" the have just finished a long and rather hobbit giggled. "Let the Bard be dangerous journey, and I wish to see your guide, Lachmar." With that, the them settled properly so they may hobbit quickly scampered out the -=22=- (Continued Page 26) _________ The Prince of Aquebar / \ _____ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|_|~ | by Wisraith Winterwind _| |~| | /@| _|~|_ | \_/ ~~~~~ /n the late afternoon, the around him like a heavy fog. He ~~~~~~~~ Prince of Aquebar, brief- must be nearly there, he must push ly escaped from his tutors, sat in a on a little farther. little rowboat anchored near a coral reef surrounding the island kingdom. With one last stroke, his hands Part of the archipelago east of Sir- parting the glittering water like a Laar, Aquebar was still a small curtain, he saw an ethereally kingdom, but growing in influence as beautiful sight: A giant clam, its scholars unlocked, one by one, bigger than anything he had ever the secret mysteries of the ancient seen. Its shell, crinkled along magicians. In time, they believed, each side, was mostly closed and the Aquebar would be a center of learn- light inside turned it luminous pink ing and a stronghold against the shot through with veins of purest Unlife. white. Undulating in the current just beneath the edges of the shell Spread out on the bench before him waved fleshy azure tendrils. Peer- were small trinkets, rusty sea trash ing through the gap between the soft he dreamed remained from great bat- lips of the shell, he blinked tles with the forces of the Unlife. against the unveiled splendor of a His catch for the day was measly, teardrop pearl glowing with an inner and a certainty that something as- incandescence. The compulsion over- tounding was being overlooked pro- came him again but this time it was pelled him back into the water. soft and carressing like a woman's inviting embrace. Without being He swam along the slope of the fully aware that he did so, the coral, its forest of alien trees prince reached inside the parted both soft and rigid, casting faint lips, moved aside the soft pink shadows as the sun continued to flesh, and grasped the pearl. sink. Abruptly, he found himself at the top of a tall cliff which plung- His belly contracted around a cen- ed into blackness below. He had tral warmth that diffused through been diving all his life, and could his body, leaving it relaxed and hold his breath for several minutes supple. Halfheartedly he fought the so he returned to the surface, urge to sleep but in the end filled his lungs with fresh sea air. accepted blissful release from his Drawn to the darkness, he began a weariness and toil. long descent. * * * * * The prince was fatigued by a long day of diving and took his time, Awakening was slow. He dreamt he slowly stroking downward. Not con- drifted for ages wrapped around with scious of time's passage, it seemed sargasso tendrils and rocked by the a short time had passed when, at the gentle motion of a limitless sea. edge of his vision, he saw a murky Sometimes disturbed by confused and glow. The light intensified slowly, panicked thoughts impinging on his as if farther away than expected. mind, he finally grew used to their ebb and flow alternating with waves Should he continue his dive? He knew of warmth and security. His dreams he must soon run out of air, but his alighted finally on a strangely compulsion to seek the extraordinary contoured bed that supported him sent him diving with all haste perfectly. Then, as he dreamt of toward the light. As he approached sleeping at last, he woke. it, the water around him sparkled, light reflecting off motes drifting His eyes opened to a watery film -=23=- which, blinked away, revealed three the prince looked again, this time beautiful women sitting beside him, with wonder, at the powerful flukes their long tresses bound with that propelled them through the strands of kelp or clasped with water. Beginning at their hips, seashells. Despite being tied, tiny irridescent scales overlapped their hair flowed and swirled in the to form a supple armor encasing a sluggish current like lacy fans of tail that rippled with hard muscle. honey, chestnut and copper. One The tail fins' diaphanous trans- smoothed his hair from his eyes and lucence waved in the currents like offered him a bunch of purple silk veils while the sides were skinned fruit that tasted sweet and fringed with sharp spines held refreshing. Another put a cup of tightly against the skin. He patterned mother of pearl to his reached out to touch the tail of his lips and a hearty broth restored honey blonde guide and, pressing her much of his strength. He did not chest to his, she twined her sinuous find it strange to dine without his tail between his legs and around his mouth filling with the parching calves, locking them together in a taste of brine. Revived, he rose softly irresistable embrace. As he from the bed and wrapped himself in involuntarily pressed closer, the a robe of gossamer gold held in the trio laughed sharply and she pushed hand of the third. him away so that he paddled awk- wardly until they returned to propel "Her highness will have you now, if him on his journey. you are refreshed?" The words formed in his mind like delicate crystal The distance yet to travel was short chimes. He wondered if the food had and before long he looked down into bewitched him because of a brief, a bowl-shaped depression illuminated piercing wail in his ears. After by phosphorescent animals and plants shaking his head, only the tinkling beaded on crisscrossing lines strung chimes remained. from the lip of the bowl. They descended past a luminous, trans- The three rose from the bed and parent fish whose distended bladder gently pulled him through the water, glowed white with red veins still one on each arm and one clasping his pumping despite the hook piercing waist from behind. As they glided its head and holding it to the line. through the water, he revelled in All the other creatures, jellyfish, their touch as the water caressed seahorses, and fish were equally him. Turning to admire the golden- bright and strange, though he saw haired beauty, his eyes combed her them only from a distance. hair as it flowed across her trans- lucent neck, shoulders and breasts. The floor of the bowl was cobbled He glanced eagerly downward for more with flat shells in complex but golden locks but what he saw instead elegant patterns that reminded him startled him to gasp. The inrush of of a great ballroom. At the far end water burned his throat with brine sat a majestic chair fashioned from and doubled him over choking and red coral and encrusted with pre- clawing. He grabbed at his atten- cious gems. They approached this dant's arm and fancied his grip tore throne from between tall columns of away the white flesh as from a sandstone, each carved with a scene boiled bone. Then, as quickly as he of beauty or valor. The pillars panicked, soft tendrils soothed his seemed to hold up the sea above like racing thoughts and heart. Still a great black ceiling. A few other vaguely in the grip of fear, he mermaids flitted behind the columns, looked to the shredded streamer of too shy to be seen, he thought. kelp he gripped in his hand. He laughed and they with him, a trio of He looked again at the throne and soft chimes. his heart leapt at the sight of the seated monarch. A mermaid like the Prepared now for what he would see, rest, but of another order altoge- -=24=- ther. Her hair was the aqua of the queen writhed harder. He could no sunlit lagoon, her skin, dark as longer hear the music above the volcanic sand merged with the scales throbbing of her body against his. like mother of pearl covering her When it seemed she would crush him tail. When they reached the queen, in seconds more, a flailing limb his attendants backed away, leaving yanked the medallion from her neck him alone to gaze into her unblink- and it sank to the sand. Instantly, ing emerald eyes. After several the beauty of the queen's face was moments, like the sun bursting infected with swollen pustules of through a tempest's ragged remnants, corruption. Reeking of carrion and her face broke into a smile res- even blacker filth, the mouth of the plendent with pearly teeth. He succubus closed on his. Dragged knelt at her flukes and tentatively along the shell-cobbled floor, his brought her webbed fingers to his bare toes closed on the medallion. lips. A sudden fear thundered back to him as he noticed his right arm. A surge of red energy engorged his Pale, rent flesh hung from the edges body and he threw the corrupted of a great gash encircling his creature from him, rending its wrist; it was swollen and bloated carcass against the throne that like an animal too long dead in the broke apart from the force of the water. He shuddered and would have impact. Hideously enraged faces recoiled in fear had she not lifted rushed at him, and wrinkled brown his chin so their eyes met. As claws clutched at the medallion. before, his mind was soothed, its Filled with repugnance, he hurled fear drained away. She lifted an them away, some snapping like coral ebony medallion from between her twigs as they struck one or another breasts and touched it to his arm. column. He wondered if his wound had been naught but imaginary fancy for there He swam upward as if each stroke was no trace of it, nor any other would be his last were it not blemish. Smiling benevolently, she stronger. Through timeless darkness straightened and clapped her hands. he swam until, reaching the rocky cliff, he could go no further A strange music began from somewhere without rest. There was no pursuit. beyond the columns. Felt rather than In a little while he swam upward heard, the strains moved through the again, slowly, indolently. He felt water as sound through air, but better than ever in his life and as muffled and felt over the entire he rose toward the surface, his body. The queen rose and invited thoughts turned deliciously to the him to dance. Slow, formal steps at coy young courtiers who dropped first, their eyes at arms' length hankerchiefs and flirted from behind so all the others could see. As the lace fans as they vied for his tempo increased, she slowly drew him attention. closer. From the corner of his eye, he began to see shapes moving to en- circle them. Still the tempo in- ------------------------------------ creased, the thudding rythm con- Dreams Sacred and Profane trolling the beat of his heart, From page 22 forcing it to tachycardia. He tried ------------------------------------ to slow down, to control his pace, but he could not restrain the queen. door, grinning broadly. Her tail, now wrapped around his legs, pushed painfully into his Lachmar sighed. "I hate it when he groin while she spun them ever is cryptic." The mercenary made sure faster. Glimpses of heads, limbs, that his clothes and weapons were bodies, all in increasing stages of where he could find them quickly in decomposition whirled past; leering the dark before he retired for the skeletal faces, tattered flesh evening. brushing his own, grew closer as the * * * * * * -=25=- Oblivion Is a Place of Sorrow _________ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ / \ _____ \ by Bleys Airelious III \@| ~|_|~ | | |~| | was at my favorite "I will do what I can, Father." _| |~| | drinking establishment-- /@| _|~|_ | Helga's, it turns out-- "I came not to talk about me, son, \_/ ~~~~~ / trying to drink away my but about you and your future. Even ~~~~~~~~ sorrows. Something about though there are times you will be the night, though, just made me more hard put to agree, remember that in melancholy. Friends tried to cheer the end friends matter more than me with play at the dice, but some- possessions. As much as I would have how that had no appeal. I decided to liked it, I have no money or posses- go for a walk. sions to bequeath you. The Evil has taken all of that, along with my I walked up and down streets in the body and soul, as its price. late hours of the night and ended up at the modest place I call home. "I wish you well in all of your "Odd," I thought to myself, "I am endeavors, son. May you fare better sure I left some candles burning." than I. Try always to keep a smile-- Yet the house was totally dark. I and be a friend to those in need." opened the door and listened. Not a noise to be heard. "Yes, Father." "Ha, the candles must have blown out "And do me one last favor, son?" in the wind," thought I, entering my house and locking up for the night. "Anything. Just tell me." I went to bed but tossed and turned. "Make sure that I am remembered and Grandfather's literature puts me to that others heed the warnings of my sleep in short order, so I went to fate. I must go. My time has come. the study for a book. I opened the Goodbye. May the Powers smile upon door to the study, and there a fire you, and remember-- burned in the fireplace. A chair with a familiar form in it faced the "--I will always love you." And my fire. The figure turned and looked father faded from existence as I at me with with a smile. watched. "Hello, my son. It is good to see you made it to these lands." "Father," I sobbed, "I promise that you won't be forgotten." Cold ran down my back. "Father? But ____________________________ you're--dead!" I exclaimed. __\ ____\ Owed To A Pest \ / / \__| by Skye Serge | "Yes, so I am," he answered. "But I | | | _____________/ am allowed to see you one last time |__ \___/_________/ \ before I go to my punishment." / | \ In days of old, | "Punishment?" I asked. \ When Knights were bold | | We earned our pay, _| "I was not a--model person, Bleys. I | Killing rats all day \ am sure even you realize that. I | Weekend come, | must pay for the crimes I commited | We'd all drink rum. | during my life." | Day after that, | | we'd be back killing rat! | "Father! Is there no hope for your /_________________ | soul?" ||\ \____________ ||_| \ "Very little, my son. Some sins are | | | not easily overlooked." \/_____________________________ / -=26=- _____________ Keys (Part 3) / \ _________ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ||=|=|=|| | Anonymous | ~~ |_| ~~ | _| |_| | he story so far: A "No cave openings that I could see," /@| _|_|_ | young adventurer in they both reported. \_/__________/ Helga's tells of his meeting with a mysterious cloaked "Of course not," replied the Lord elf who offered him information. The Ranger. "The opening is hidden by young adventurer asked where one can some kind of magical trick. You have find the keys to the chests that to jump into it to find it." His creatures carry. The elf begins the head resounded with the fourteen tale of a Lord Ranger who finds a slaps it received. small valley while out hunting and discovers a cave that is hidden by a The adventurers formed back up into permanent illusion. In town, the one group and walked to one end of ranger gathers a party to explore the valley. The Lords, except for the cave. Eager to show everyone his the Lord Healer, began jumping into valley, the ranger rushes to the the thorn bushes, trying to find the edge of the overlooking cliff. The cave opening. The healers were busy ranger stops; the party does not keeping the Lords in one piece. The stop. They knock him over the cliff Ladies stood in a group, whispering and fall down after him. to each other and pointing at the rips and tears the Lords' clothes The Tale, Part 3 were developing. As the afternoon wore on, the giggling became louder The group crashed into the thorn and louder. bushes. Quickly they climbed free, and the Lord and Lady Healers began The Lord Mage jumped and fell upon treating the injured immediately. It solid rock. A floor! Quickly he is true that the Lady Healer was not called the others. They gathered as happy with the turn of events, even he pointed to where he had jumped. though the Lord Healer seemed to be The Lord Ranger jumped at the thorn in seventh heaven. However, all were bushes and disappeared from sight. soon healthy again. Quickly, the others followed. Then the Lord Mage walked in. "So, where is this cave?" asked the Lady Thief. The Lord Ranger pointed "Why didn't you jump through?" the to one end of the valley, then hesi- High Man asked. tated and pointed to the other end. "Well," replied the Lord Mage, "I "Somewhere around that area," he just realized that if the entrance said, pointing at the opposite ends is guarded by an illusion, then all of the valley. there is to pass through is air. So why jump?" The Lord Mage shook his The Lord Thief walked over to the head to clear out the ringing sound Lady Mage and handed her some coins. of fourteen slaps. "Rangers," he mumbled in disgust. She smiled at the Lord Thief. "I Quickly the Lords and Ladies organ- knew he would find the valley sooner ized themselves. Spells of defense or later," she said as she counted were cast. Weapons and shields were her silver. readied. Five hours later they began to explore the cave. The party split up into two groups and headed toward opposite ends of They saw that the cave was not made the valley. The Lord Ranger just sat naturally. Its floor, walls, and where they had climbed out of the ceiling were smooth. Magical lamps thorn bushes and waited. After two mounted on the walls shone brightly. hours, both groups met back up. The floor sloped up a little, they -=27=- found. "Prevents the collection of da slot. I fills out a number tag, water," stated the Dwarf. puts da key an' paper in my file, an slips you back da tag. Ya memorize The adventurers rounded a corner and da number an destroy da tag. Simple! faced a room which widened at an An' when ya wants da key back, ya angle to either side. The wall in fills out another paper with da num- front of them had several slots and ber I gave ya and pass it through was covered with signs. Signs in wit' yer fee. Orcish, Troll, and some languages no one recognized were mounted on all "Great-great Granpaps goofed. Too three walls. Some signs were hand- many generations of customers gots drawn pictures showing a series of use ta not payin' until they gots da actions. Along the left side of the key back. Now they leaves da key, room ran small shelves of various but none o' dem ever comes back. We heights, with parchments, quills and 'bout used up all da treasure, and ink stands upon them. we's going to starve back here afore too much longer. The adventurers started exploring, trying to read the signs, examining "Well, ya see da big box in da cor- the various shelves. The Common Man ner dere? Sees, we passes out some walked over to one of the openings o' da treasure to our customers when on the wall, peered through it and dey brungs us some food or clothes said "Hello?" an' such stuff. Dey puts it in da box an it gets majicked inta here. A withered gnomish face popped up on But wit' no one coming back fer da the other side. "Who are ya?" it keys, we don't get any coins inta demanded. "Yer not one the reg'lars here. I figgers dat inna bout a year that come here." or two we'll starve back here an' da place will be closed fer good." The adventurers ran over and crowded around the tiny opening. For many The adventurers spent much time in minutes they babbled at the ancient argument. Some felt sorry for the gnome. Finally, the Lady Ranger man- ancient gnome and his family trapped aged to out-talk and out-shout all behind the wall, while others saw the others, and some order returned. the closing of the key repository as Slowly they got the story out of the something that would be great for ancient gnome. them. With the repository closed, they argued, the monsters would have "Me great-great Grandpaps discovered to keep their chest keys on them for a dragin's treasure. Well, mebbe not fear of losing them. No more hunting discovered. He knowed alls along for a lockpicker; just find the key where it t'were, just had ta wait and bypass all that trouble! The 'til someone kilt tha dragin. Any- party left the cave, still arguing. how, he gits da treasure and figgers somebody is likely as not ta steal And that is the end of the tale the it from him. An' he wants ta set up elf told me. What? No, he said they his family fer generations ta come. still hadn't made up their minds. He So he comes up with dis great idea. claims that it took them so long to He makes a deal wit' some powerful find their way back to town that bein' ta create dis here cave and ta none of them has ever found that magically keep the shelfs stocked. valley again. Except for one thing, Then he brung his family here an had the story would end right there. da wall put in place. So here's we been, trapped here fer generations. Ah, thanks for the ale. You want to know what that one thing is? You are "What'cha mean, why? Cain't ya read a thief, right? You haven't been da signs? This here is a key reposi- approached about the Thieves' Guild tory! Ya fill out da paper like it yet, but you know of it, right? Oh, sez, then slip it an da key through admit it. It's not like it's secret -=28=- or anything. So you do know of it. How do I know the elf was a mage? And you know it collects fees from Why, when he finished his story, he members. Now, do you really believe gestured and disappeared! Turned the silver collected lines the pock- invisible, I guess, because the next ets of the Guildmasters? Foolish thing I knew there was a voice whis- youth. Think! If the creatures out pering in my ear. He told me that if there can't have a safe place for I talked of this, he would turn the their keys, you think they are going ground beneath my feet into molten to leave them just lying around? You lava. Yes, I know who he is now. think they trust each other enough I've seen him around a time or two to leave the keys to their treasures since then. Easy to spot with that unguarded? Of course not! So they striped, hooded cloak of his. would carry the keys with them, and who would end up out of business? Hmm? I always sit like this. Sitting The thieves, of course. That mage with your feet up off the floor is had it all figured out. very comfortable, you know. ___________________________________________________________________ __\ ____\ Orc Lunch \ / / \__| by Jerusha Montjoy | | | | ____________________________________________________/ |__ \___/_________/ \ / | \ Oh as I was a wandering _| \ down the path so green, \ | there I met an Orcy | | with his blade so keen. | | He looked in expectation | | at this bod of mine. | | Thought he, after fighting, | | on me he would then dine. _| | "I hate to disappoint," quothe I, \ | "but lunch I've never been, | | and if truth be told, foul orc, | | I find the thought obscene." | | He stared at me in wonder, | | then readied sure his sword. | | He grinned again, most evilly, | | saying, "It's your death, my Lord!" | | I pulled my weapon from its sheath | | and then we did begin, | | the blows rained fast and furious, _| | and he was hit upon the shin. \ | "Och!" cried he, in agony, | | he loosed his weapon bright, | | then without a backwards glance, | | that nasty orc took flight. | | The moral of this story | | is one that's sure and true. | | You'll never serve as someone's lunch | | 'til they be brave as you. _| | \ /_________________ | ||\ \___________________________________________________ ||_| \ | | | \/____________________________________________________________________ / -=29=- ________ The Moaning After / \ _____\ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|_|~ | by Lloyd Llowd, PhD | | | | _| |~| | /@| _|~|_ | had the grave misfortune wort easily had the best costume of \_/ ~~~~~/ of attending the Awful the evening. The sight of the tiny ~~~~~~~ Autumn Festival Party at halfling capering around with a tiny House of Paupers last month. I have pink stuffed torkaan and wearing a never seen such a boring party in mask that resembled the sneering all my life; people were committing face of Lord Artuero Bresnahanini, suicide from the roof in a vain complete with black eyeguards and attempt to escape it. sloping forehead, a flame red torkaan fleece wig, an oversized And the exterminator obviously needs red-and-white polka-dotted ratskin to do something about the pests in vest that dragged on the ground and the attic. All those dwarves were a huge tin badge engraved with the making the ceilings creak. (I don't words "SHERRIFF WANNABE" created a recommend they hire hobbits if they perfect caricature of the two-faced value their House.) political cretin. (If only Lord Artuero looked as respectable in It was interesting to see the real life.) costumes people chose to wear to the event. Lady Phaedra, for instance, And, of course, Lord Strom was came carrying a long silver wand laughed out of the competition for tipped with a sparkling crystal attempting to masquerade as a star. On her head was a glowing Healer. gold halo and she wore a full- skirted silvery gown with long Another of the costume contest billowing sleeves, an enormous pair winners was Lord Gallenod. I have of (ummmm) shimmering diaphanous mixed reviews on this one. While wings, a pair of ruby slippers, a his firephantom costume was quite white satin pouch and a shimmering spectacular, the glasses with false hooded cloak. The Lady, of course, nose and moustache he added for his has never been my idea of a Fairy presentation as the "Undead Comic" Godmother, though. (I think she were grotesque, as were his jokes. should have been in pinstripes with Apparently, the only thing worse a violin case.) than his sense of direction is his sense of humour. To adapt one of Landreth deLorde, Lady Phaedra's his own sick quips: What is the oft-lost Ranger husband, revealed difference between an onion and Lord why he rarely shows his face in the Gallenod? Answer: You cry when you Landing. If I had a limp feather cut up the onion. boa, and had to wear long dangling earrings, a golden silk gown, a But perhaps the worst of all was our strand of black pearls, a really fearless editor, who showed up dres- sleazy looking bright red wig that sed to kill in a black leather gown, probably came from a cheesy ragmop, silver-studded choker collar, horn- thick false eyelashes and fancy rimmed glasses, porcupine quill hat, stiletto-heeled shoes, I wouldn't and shaalk spurs. Too bad he didn't come out of the closet much either. wear a mask. As it was, his perfor- The judges, including his wife (who, mance was just nauseating enough to you will note, was also dressed as a earn first award. Seems the misguid- fairy), ruled Landreth ineligible ed, nearsighted judges thought he for a prize because he wore nothing was pretending to be someone else. that could be considered out of the ordinary for him. As the final indignity of the even- ing, I was awarded a costume prize But it wasn't all bad. Bugg Horn- for coming as myself. Harrumph. -=30=- [KEV4N6] [end]