Chapter 2

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The party had been formed, and we decided to go north and clean out an
Orc lair that had been raiding near a small keep. (They were raiding
and despoiling the area; besides, no one had any better ideas.)  The
DM let us all have horses, so we set out bright and early the next
morning for the north.  From the very first, we hit it off like Nitro
and Glycerin.  Everyone in the party was enough of an individualist
(read: everyone but Navero was chaotically aligned) that personality
conflicts were not only abundant, bu were all brought right out in the
open.  No one was really keen on deferring for the good of the group,
nor would anyone let anyone else try to intimidate them into
submission.  Fortunately, most of the fighting was on a verbal level,
so damage was minimal.

Rourk: "... my noble lineage, which extends back 87 generations to the
     creation of the world, is feared from one end of the earth to the
     other, beneath and above.  The Lord of this keep will naturally
     extend every hospitality."

Navero: "But what if he doesn't know you?"

Rourk: "An absurd notion.  The name Kuirt'yhiasdall is famous."

Dania: "What?"

Rizudo: "The man with the iron head here sneezed.  Hey helmet-head,
     you know you will have to show him yer darkie face."

Navero: "What's a darkie?"

Rourk: "He means a dark elf, priest."

Navero: "Oh."

Dania: "I say we just forget the stupid lord and get the <censored>
     Orcs.  We can deal with him later."

Navero: "What's a dark elf?"

Rizudo: "The guy offered a reward.  We gotta be workin' for him to get
     it, so we deal with him."

Dania: "hmph."

Navero: "Could someone tell me what a dark elf is?"

Rourk: "Never mind.  Keep a sharp lookout."

Navero: "What for?"

Rourk: "Anything which might threaten us.  Little mage, you must be
     very naive to suggest we go onto a Lord's land without informing
     him of it.  Though he is my inferior, it would be extremely
     indecorous.  Courtesies must be made; it's a sign of good
     breeding, so I suppose you may be excused."

Dania: "God, you're lucky I don't hate dark elves."
Navero: "What is a dark elf?"

Dania: "Never mind."

Navero: "And why are you arguing so much?  'One must beware anger, as
     no one can antagonize and persuade with one breath.'  Wouldn't it
     be better if.."

Rourk: "I do not argue, young priest.  I educate those around me by
     virtue of my superior insight.  And this discussion is over."

Rizudo: "Over hill, over dale, we kick Rourk's iron tail..."

Dania: "Oh, shut up."

     The road passed through a small, very poor hamlet.  The locals,
seeing that we were obviously brave and capable sword-swingers, told
us of a ravenous beast that would periodically descend from the sky
onto them, would kill and eat their sheep, and even carry off
children.  This was the reason for their great poverty, and asked if
there was anything we could do about it.  They described the monster
as a large, blackish-brown creature with great wings and claws, a long
neck and a whip-like tail.  It would occasionally drop scales, and
they showed us one.

Rourk: "A DRAGON!  It must be!  At last, a foe worthy of my attention!
     We must leave at once; these pitiful people's livelihood depends
     upon the aid we can give them.  Their Lord would be most grateful
     to us if this annoying creature were disposed of.  The beast must
     be slain, and its treasure looted."

Rizudo: "Helmet-head, I kinda doubt these idiots could pay us enough."

Navero: "Well, we should help them.  Do you think we can convince it
     not to eat the villagers?  I read that dragons can talk.  That
     would be a much better way to take care of the problem, and then
     it could go eat fish or something and everyone would be much

(Short pause.)

Rizudo: "I don't know about this, kids.  Dragons are dangerous.  Why
     don't we all just keep going and let them sort it out?"

Dania: "Because dragons have lots of money."

Rizudo: "Well, I guess that settles it.  Lets get goin'.  Hey, babe,
     we should get to know each other better.  You're a chick after my
     own heart."

Assassin:  "With a large knife..."

     And so our heroes bravely rode forth to do battle.  Of course,
they first had to find their opponent, which proved somewhat difficult
as we were in a big swamp.  We looked all up and down, dodging
quicksand and snakes. Time passed, and evening came, and Rourk waxed
sorely pissed.

Rourk:  "Where is the beast?  One might almost think it afraid of me."

Rizudo: "Maybe it's female.  Women run away from you, ya know."

     But then, we heard a great flapping of wings, and looked up at
the evening sky; it was blotted out by an enormous leathery shape.  It
was a dragon, or something closely akin; it had only two legs, and was
lumpy about the head.  Whatever it was, Navero was quite horrified.
His arms felt weak, his nerve failed, and he began uttering prayers to
the Lords.  It was an instinctive reaction, one born of years of
cloistered life, and of course he made his prayers as long and as loud
as he could.

Dania: "NAVERO, SHUT UP!!  IT'LL HEAR YOU...  oh shit."

     One beady red eye cocked in our direction.  Calmly, with ancient
grace, the thing swung in midair, and came screeching into the middle
of the party like a bat out of hell.  Rourk charged forward with his
lance lowered to meet it; Rizudo ran away; Dania cast a Magic Missile
and ran away; the assassin was long gone.  Navero remained; his horse
had thrown him and run, leaving him on his butt in a mud-puddle
staring at the monster coming right at him.  He remembered that today
was St. Kalgur's Day, and he had forgotten to say the proper prayers
that morning.

     The great Beast slammed to the ground, by some miracle not
landing on anyone, its leathery wings covering the road in smelly
shadow.  With a mighty shout, Rourk charged with his lance; it broke.
A crossbow bolt whizzed out of the bushes, and hit it in the flank; it
annoyed the thing slightly.  Realizing that the beast was the
implacable embodiment of all evil in the world, Navero roused himself
and took out his mace of the Order, and aimed such a mighty blow at
its horny back that it bounced off and hit Navero square in the face
for 1 point of damage.  The beast tried to bite the Cavalier, but
missed; its tail strike did not miss, but broke both of his horse's
legs and stunned him.  The monster then looked around at Navero.

Rizudo: "We can't let it kill the medic!  Wizard-bitch!  Zap it again!
     And you, what's-her-face, do something or get your ass out of

Dania: "Fuck you, asshole.  Get in there and do something with that

Rizudo: "You want to see my sword in action?  Now is hardly the time,
     but I'll take you up on it later.  What do you use that staff
     for, anyway?"

The Assassin: Considers killing Rizudo, decides against it.

     Rourk roused himself, and again took valiantly to the fray.  He
struck twice, with two longswords; miraculously both of them found
soft spots in the thing's scarred scales, cutting it deeply.  Navero
struck again, this time hitting the ground beside the monster.  The
beast then tried to bite Navero; it succeeded beyond its wildest
dreams, inflicting 13 points of damage to the otherwise inoffensive
young cleric.  Navero dropped with a thump and heard no more of the
mighty battle.  He woke several hours later, to the sweet voices of
his comrades in arms.

Rizudo: "Look, kid, don't ever go charging in like that again.  You're
     supposed to be healing US.  Or do you have a thing about swinging
     your stick around?"

Dania: "Yeah.  Leave the fights to the experts."

Rourk: "Good advice under any circumstances.  While your presence may
     have served as a possibly useful distraction, I did not require
     your aid to defeat the dragon.  After my first strokes, the fight
     seemed to leave it, so powerful was my thrust."

Rizudo: "Sure, Rourk.  There's also that poisoned dart we found in its
     mouth, too."

Rourk: "Tut.  Dragons are immune to poison."

     Our "dragon" was actually an old Wyvern, that had lost an eye and
its poison tail barb in past fights.  It had been preying on the
village because it was too decrepit to hunt anywhere else.  But to a
first level party, such beasts seem as mighty dragons indeed.  Navero
was the only one seriously hurt in the encounter; he Cured Light
Wounds on Rourk, as his religion forbade him doing so on himself while
another was hurt.  We found no treasure, which upset Dania a great
deal, and soon were on our merry way once again.  The biggest problem
was Rourk's horse, which had died, leaving our mini-tank on foot.  He
had to share with Dania, the lightest person in the party, which irked
him no end; but then, he was easily irked.  The remainder of our trip
to the keep was almost without incident.  The only discovery of note
was the fact that Rizudo was a heavy sleeper.

Rizudo: *Snore*

Rourk: Dumps a bucket of water on Rizudo.

Rizudo: *Glub!*  "Huhh?  Whaza fuckes goin on?"

Rourk: "A very small raincloud.  It has passed now."

     And so, after two days travel, our Heroes arrived at the keep in
the swamp, called Swamp Keep.  We were greeted with all the fanfare
and pomp to which we were to quickly grow accustomed.

Guard 1: "Gor, wha' a scruffy-looking lot this is, comin' up tha

Rourk: "Hail, lowly peons!  Now, run and tell your Lord and Master
     that we have arrived, to rid your land of its infestation."

Guard 2: "Oh, are you the rat-catchers?"
Rizudo: "Shut up, open the gate.  We want to see your inns, your ale,
     and your WOMEN!  After that, we wanna talk about the Orcs."

Guard 1: "Piss off."

Guard 3: "Why, whatever's going on here, Neville?"

Guard 2: "Oh, nothing, Percy.  Some gentlemen, and a few ladies too,
     are here and making a fuss about something.  Don't worry

Guard 1: "Shut up!  (To Rourk)  Who are yu?"

Rourk: "For shame, lout!  Do you not recognize my device?  My house is
     known far and wide, and I am sure has been heard of even in these
     impoverished lands.  Come, open the gates and be quick about it;
     you try my patience."

Guard 3: "Oh, he's not very nice, is he?"

Guard 1: "Look, shrimp, all I see is a miniature buffoon ridin' with
     some little elf-bitch on an old horse..."

     Again, there commenced much sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Fortunately for our great quest, there was more sound than fury, and
we were eventually able to get inside.  Most of us went about
practical sorts of business - Navero went to pray, and recover from
his injuries.  Rizudo, I believe, went to find a tavern; there was
only one, and it was not open at that hour.  The Assassin disappeared
for a while (the player who was running her was not there that day.)
Dania studied her spells.  Rourk decided to go introduce himself to
the Lord of the Keep.  He had his armor polished and his shield device
repainted (10gp well spent) and strode forth to meet Lord Eric, who
was out on his croquet lawn at that moment.

Rourk: (Strides onto croquet lawn, plants his shield firmly in the sod
     so the device is plainly visible.)  "Greetings, Lord and Master
     of this fine castle."

Master: "Oh!  My croquet lawn!  You've dented it!  Wahhh..."

Courtier: "Oh, its alright, Eric, its alright.  Just breathe calmly
     and relax.  Everything will be just fine."

Rourk: "Uh... I wish to introduce myself.  I..."

Courtier: "Not now!  Can't you see what you've done?  Get out: just
     go, or I'll put the hounds on you!"

Rourk: (Baffled by these strange humans, he leaves.)

     Navero went out on the town, but with something different in mind
than Rourk or Rizudo.  This being his first town, he wanted to see
what it was like, and so he wandered aimlessly through the market
places, streets and alleyways, happily watching all the busy people
going about their tasks.  The local clothing was much more colorful
than what he was used to, and used a bigger variety of fabrics, but
somehow it seemed all right for it to be that way.  It was obviously
different here from how it was in the monastery, but being like this
seemed alright for them.  Everyone was happy, or at least not unhappy,
chatting or calling out to their friends; it gladdened Navero's heart.
There were some people who were short-tempered and unhappy, but at
least there weren't any of those filthy places like Dania had gone to
that one time - there was a tavern, but it was mostly locals in there,
playing chess, not a bunch of boozing soldiers (It was still too early
for any drink-selling.)

     When night came, most of the party retired to the tavern, which
was a rather small and miserable one if you wanted to go out and have
a good time.  Navero did not go to the tavern; he had happened upon a
townsman who had wounded himself with an axe and nearly lamed himself;
Navero cured the hurt, and the man's grateful family was only too
happy to put him up for the night.  He quietly discussed religious
matters with them, particularly salvation and joys of life in the
Correct and Unalterable way, and although they were very polite, they
mostly seemed to ignore him.  The only exception was their young
daughter, who paid a lot of attention to him.  While he was pleased at
the opportunity to spread the faith, she didn't seem to pay much
attention to what he said; she just looked at him strangely, and sat
uncomfortably close, and took every possible opportunity to touch him,
which made Navero very uncomfortable.

     (As an explanation, I should note that Navero has Charisma 15,
Comeliness 16.  The DM rolled the young lady a Lust score of 17.)

     And so night passed, and morning came.

Dan Parsons       "Oh, you're injured!  Let me take off all your clothes..."

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