Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ch 2, Page 14

Castle Greyhawk.  The mere mention of it excited both Tenser and Terik.  Indeed, this whole complex operation had been designed just to rid them of the nuisance and sometimes impediment of having to deal with bandits to and from the infamous castle.
Tenser climbed up through the trapdoor and joined Robilar and Terik in rifling through things on the top floor room of the fort's small hilltop keep.

In the last six months, exploration of Castle Greyhawk had exploded into a crowded occupation.  Tenser had spent them exploring Castle Greyhawk, always with some combination of Ehlissa, Yrag, Robilar, Terik, or a few others, but there were rival parties, companies, and fellowships turning up there all the time.  Significant progress was already being made on clearing out the upper levels of its dungeons, but Tenser and a few others were aware of sub-levels around them that were difficult to access.  A new entrance, known only to these bandits, could yield virgin territory for killing and looting.

And so Tenser eagerly joined Robilar in looking through papers.
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 13

Well...not every bandit at the fort was killed.  Eventually Tenser tired of watching the slaughter and suggested it might be valuable to take some prisoners.  Robilar thought it was a terrible idea, but Terik was not overly opposed.  Though Robilar was miffed at being overruled, his participation proved invaluable, for he knew that the bandits actually had their own prison ---- a separate tower at the rear of the small keep -- and Robilar knew where the key was kept.  After handing the key over to Terik, Robilar wandered off without telling anyone what he was up to.

"Does he always do that?" Tenser asked as they were waking up the last of the sleeping guards.

"On your feet, you dogs!" Terik was shouting at their prisoners to scare them.  "Does he always do what?"

"Just do his own thing like that."  Tenser tried to multitask and direct prisoners during their conversation as well.  "March to the prison if you want to stay alive!" he admonished, with his dagger drawn.

"Oh, well, that's Robilar for you, isn't it?" Terik asked rhetorically.

If Tenser planned to press for more information, he was interrupted when a young bandit they were about to put in the prison looked for a moment like he might bolt for freedom.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 12

"Allow me to stay behind," Gronan had said.

Captain Drake had looked at him curiously.  "You have never disobeyed my orders before, Gronan.  What makes you question them now?"

On Gronan's mind had been his distrust of Robilar.  This whole business of having spotted adventurers in the woods that no one else had observed just rang false to him and Gronan was sure that Robilar was up to something.  But Drake trusted Robilar too much for Gronan to bring up any of this without proof.  So instead Gronan talked tactics for awhile, ending with, "What Robilar saw could have been intended to draw us out of the fort so the fort could be attacked from the opposite side.  With your leave, I would reposition some of our remaining men there."

Drake nodded through it all.  "That seems a reasonable request," he had said at last.  "Granted."

But that was then.  Now Gronan came running up into the midst of Drake and his men, panting and out of breath.  Gronan fell forward onto his knees, while catching his breath, but Drake was impatient for an explantion...
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 11

Despite Robilar's jest, there was grim business to be done before the looting -- men magically asleep who would not remain so long.  Tenser, who had never warmed to the task, was surprised with how cavalierly Robilar and Terik dispatched every brigand who was still alive.  But, of course, he should not have been surprised, as this had been exactly according to the plan they had fomented over the long months past.

Overhead, Luna and Celene watched what transpired from their orbits, without comment, as they continued their slow trek across the nighttime sky...
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 10

Terik fell off the drawbridge and hit the ground.

In the moment that Tenser watched the other, more lithe warrior tumble over the top of the partially-lowered drawbridge, he was struck by the ineffectualness of most of his spells in a situation like this.  The combat spells he knew where highly effective in mass combat, but a waste on one-on-one confrontations. 

He did have one spell that could be useful here -- the enchantment for charming persons that Ehlissa had shared with him.  It was quick to cast and very powerful, when it worked.  Tenser went through the motions and recited the incantation, but it did not seem to even slow down this somersaulting acrobat.  Terik was still on the ground and now Tenser was standing alone and had called attention to himself.

Some days it just didn't pay to be a magic-user.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 9

The battle for the drawbridge did not range far across the courtyard, with neither Robilar nor Gronan willing to lose any ground.  The winner was clearly whoever had control of the winch that operated the drawbridge.  Again and again each sought to drive the other away from the mechanism, but they were both excellent swordsmen and too evenly matched.  Neither drew blood from the other, though their blades were now lightning swift flashes of steel that would have shredded a lesser warrior to ribbons. 

Slowly, though, Gronan was able to win himself into position and...
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 8

"Now comes the hard part," Tenser said.

"How's that now?" Terik asked.

"Well, we can assume that there are still at least some defenders inside and that they'll be watching from the palisade.  We have to get me into spell range to take them out, without getting hit by any arrows or crossbow bolts."

"I know what you're asking."  Terik changed to a mocking falsetto.  "Oh no, I'm a dainty little spellcaster.  Will you be my meat shield, big tough guy?"

"Hey now--"

"Aw, save it," Terik said with a dismissive wave of his hand.  "I like charging into danger; makes me feel more alive.  Come on."

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 7

As Robilar watched his burning arrow leave a fiery signal across a cloudless nighttime sky, he saw one potential flaw in Tenser's plan. The signal arrow had gone over the east wall of the fort, but Robilar now had to be on the west side of the fort to open the drawbridge.  There was no more than a skeleton crew left in the fort, with Captain Drake and his men out looking for an adventuring party that did not exist, but that still left Robilar an awful lot of killing to do from one end of the fort to the other.

Good thing he had a sword.
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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 6

It was Terik's second night in the woods east of the fort.  It was cold, dark, and uncomfortable and not at all his plan.  If Terik had his way, they would have just charged right in a month ago, taken the sentries at the drawbridge by surprise, and killed all the brigands in their sleep.  But no, Robilar said their new partner had brains and he was so impressed that Terik's plan was vetoed on the spot.  And if the signal didn't come tonight, it meant Robilar couldn't arrange the distraction yet and it meant a third night in the woods and...

Oh.  There was the signal arrow now.  Better tell Tenser.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 5

Gronan of Simmerya.  Robilar had thought him distracted on the far side of the fort.  Gronan had only been with the bandits for three months, but was practically Drake's right hand man already.  He was thought to be as loyal to the captain as he was fierce in battle, two qualities that did not help Robilar's plan.

"I want my 30 men in armor and ready to fight in 5 minutes! Rouse the troops!" Captain Drake shouted at his nearest guards.  "Gronan, I want you on the field with me!"

Robilar suppressed a smile as Drake turned to walk away.  It turned out he would have Gronan out of the way after all.  But then he heard Gronan addressing him from behind...
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Friday, August 2, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 4

Robilar stopped muscling past the sentry when he saw Captain Drake coming down the steps already.  Robilar straightened up and tried to look respectful.  And he was.  He considered himself no slouch as a fighting man, but Captain Drake had served in the Great Kingdom's legions before coming (fleeing?) to Greyhawk.  He was only one of two men in the whole place Robilar worried about, and by worrying he meant doubted he could take in a fair fight.
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ch. 2, Page 3

Robilar reached around his neck and lifted the whistle out from under his cloak.  Captain Drake was a stickler for protocols such as using the signal whistles.  The green recruit was still staring off into the woods and babbling.  Robilar tried not to be too annoyed.  After all, this boy would probably not live through the night.
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Ch. 2, page 2

Robilar knew the boy, though his name escaped him at the moment.  One of several of the newer bandits who claimed to have come from the Wild Coast.  Robilar held a derisive sneer in check at the very thought of it.  If these boys were from the Coast, it was from the safety of Safeton.  Had they been from further south, ever seen the thunder lizards that roamed there...well, they would not have looked so green, he was sure of that.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chapter Two

Tenser did return to Castle Greyhawk.  He went with Yrag and without Yrag.  He made new friends, fellow adventurers all, who sometimes accompanied him.

He did ask Ehlissa to return with him.  Indeed, he asked her twice.  The first time she coolly said she had more important things to do.  The second time, three weeks later, she icily gave him a lecture on how he should find a more reliable method of making money off of magic, as she was doing, and it was time for him to think of his long range plans for a career if he ever planned to settle down someday.  Tenser told her he had no desire to settle down, but this only seemed to bother her more instead of less.  So he gave up asking, though he told himself he would ask again in a few weeks.

But six months passed.  Six months since Tenser had his first taste of Castle Greyhawk.  He had seen quite a lot of the first dungeon level and some of a second and third level to the dungeons already.  There were monstrous denizens aplenty and many hard-won battles, but the treasure to be looted grew larger and more valuable with each haul.  Word of so much treasure spread quickly, so that there was soon competition for it.

There was a friendly rivalry between the competing adventuring companies, but it was still always a sad day when an expedition had been planned, only to find a new section of the dungeons cleared out by rivals the day before.  It got so bad for a while that Tenser stopped returning to the City of Greyhawk at all for a week or more at a time, for fear he would miss something good.

But it was not just rival adventurers that were the problem.  Word of the castle's spoils had drawn bandits and brigands to the region, thick as flies on a dead rat.  The scoundrels had always been a nuisance, but they were better organized now, with stronger leaders, so much so that sometimes it was safer to stay in the castle than venture out of it. 

Many of the brigands, it turned out, were using a small fort in the area as their base of operations...
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Page 34

Tenser pondered the question.  "And for what?"

He had walked all day and his feet hurt.  He was almost killed by giant centipedes and an ogre.  He had murdered five sleeping kobolds.  He hurt his back hauling a treasure chest up a flight of stairs.  He looked again at his hands.  His blood-stained hands.

And he realized, despite all those negatives, that he had never felt so alive.  So adventurous.  So free.  And, if he could, he would do it all again tomorrow.
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Page 33

Transporting a heavy chest full of coins up a tall flight of stairs was no picnic, even after Ehlissa offered to stuff her purse with coins to lighten the load.  Yrag kept urging them on, wishing for the relative safety of the surface world before he could take his time to search for false bottoms on the chest. 

Once they reached the top of the stairs and the ruined keep, Tenser watched intently as Yrag tipped over the chest and began tapping on the bottom.  He reached inside and shoveled out the coins with his hand so he could get to the bottom from the inside.  He tapped on the inside bottom and then all around the sides of the chest.  He slid his fist down to the bottom of the top-facing side, pulled down, and punched upward to see if he could make the wood perceptively buckle and judge how close to the bottom of the chest it was.

Frustrated by his lack of findings, Yrag glanced up at Tenser.  "Do they teach you anything about searching chests in wizard school?" Yrag asked with irritation in his voice.

"I must have missed that day," Tenser answered flatly.

Yrag grumbled and continued searching.
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Page 32

Tenser was still fishing his hands through the copper pieces.  Yrag glanced down bitterly at his dented shield and wondered if all that copper would even be enough to pay for having the dent banged out.  But he remembered his first kill in a dungeon and his first taste of loot and could not begrudge Tenser his excitement at having won this prize, as slight as it was.  And Yrag still hoped to find more hidden in the chest, mixed in with all that copper. 

"Right," Yrag said at last.  He guessed they had been resting about 10 minutes since the battle and there was at least a 1 in 6 chance of something showing up soon to give them trouble again.  "Close up that chest.  We'll take the whole thing with us, topside..."

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Page 31

That Tenser had mistaken this area behind the curtain for a room had only confirmed for Yrag that Tenser was not yet accustomed to 10-foot wide dungeon corridors.  Why so many dungeon corridors were exactly 10-feet wide Yrag could not guess nor would he ever bother to do so.  He didn't care.  Treatises on the subject sat on dusty shelves in the Library of Greyhawk, written by learned sages and prominent wizards.  Most of them had been driven mad by their own questions, though, so maybe Yrag was better off for not caring anyway.
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Page 30

Ehlissa felt warm and not just because she was holding a lit torch and standing next to an ogre's burning loincloth.  Her cheeks were flush with anger from having seen the monster threaten Tenser.  Only once the monster bolted from the melee did Ehlissa realize she had to breath and that she had not breathed since before shouting at the ogre. 

Tenser adjusted his skullcap back into place.  The ogre had knocked him off-balance, but not off his feet as it had to Yrag. 

For both of them, it was a relief to see the backside of the monster as it fled.
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Page 29

Yrag remained on the floor with the wind knocked out of him.  He could see that the situation was turning dire and Tenser looked to be the Eiger's next target.  An awful feeling welled up inside Yrag as the thought struck him that Tenser would be dead on the floor before Yrag could make it back up to his feet.
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Page 28

The Kelbit warriors, referred to by Yrag and Tenser by their common name of "kobolds", hung back and let the Eiger living among them move forward.  Even the Kelbit used the derisive term of "ogre" for their foul, vicious, and powerful companion.  They hated it with a passion, for it bullied them constantly, but its strength was without peer on this level of the dungeon and made their clan strong by association.  Should the human intruders kill it, they would not mourn the ogre, even though its passing would leave them vulnerable.

Yrag, Tenser, and Ehlissa were lucky that the ogre felt so confident that it had strode out into the room to meet them halway instead of waiting in a doorway where it could not be flanked.  The torches worried it just a little, but the ogre planned to get rid of those nuisances just as soon as it had dealt with the swordsman...

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Page 27

Tenser finished the last of the six kobolds sleeping before him, grabbed the little creature's tunic, and used it to wipe off the blood that was thick on his blade and hand.  The tunic was baggy and, upon inspection, both cut and pinned down to the kobold's size.  Perhaps it had once been a fine cote, looted from the barracks of the castle, or even taken off the body of some hapless victim the kobolds had themselves murdered.  This second theory made Tenser feel a little better about what he had done and he clung to it as truth.

There was little time for introspection.  There was still some sound of fighting in the other room, or perhaps it had moved on past that already, so dim had the clash of weapons and shields become.  Nor could he hear Yrag or Ehlissa shouting now.

Tenser parted the curtain and came back through the pillored hall to the entry room, only to spy Yrag and Ehlissa standing there, watching the northeast doorway.

At Tenser's approach, Yrag and Ehlissa snapped out of their passive stares.  The kobolds that had tried to ambush them from behind had been pushed back by Ehlissa's charmed kobold and the danger there seemed to have passed for the moment.  They turned away, with Ehlissa ready to follow Tenser and explore the new room he had found, but Yrag wanting to discuss whether they should press their advantage over the northeast kobolds. But first...

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Page 26

Yrag followed through on his shield bash, knocked the little kobold on its rear, and then stomped on its chest with his booted foot.  All the while, Yrag kept an eye on the next kobold, waiting to see if it wanted to engage him in melee after throwing its spear.

Ehlissa watched on, marveling at her little charmed kobold that tried valiantly to hold the door and keep its former comrades from reaching her. 

And Tenser, well Tenser...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Page 25

Tenser braved parting the curtain to the next room. He could not see much of this other room by the light of his dropped torch, a short distance behind him, but he could tell that no one was moving inside the room. The floor, however, was littered with the bodies of four more sleeping kobolds, caught in the radius of his sleeping spell. "Oh dear..." Tenser whispered out loud. This encounter was shaping up to include an awful lot of kobolds.