Chapter 19

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After training, as appropriate...

          Navero, male human cleric, 4th level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 3rd level
          Razuli, male human fighter, 3rd level
          Arlor, male dwarf thief, 3rd level
          Kory Silvertongue, male elf bard, 2nd level
(Kory is a new-type bard, not the old type; the Dragon Magazine type,
as they were called back then, now the 2nd Edition type.)

     Training this time around was no problem at all for anyone.
There was a library for magic-users, a temple for Navero, a small
arena, etc.  It all went very leisurely, with plenty of time to relax
and unwind; it was a thoroughly hospitable city, and we had already
had quite enough excitement to last us for a while.  We were beginning
to like the place.  A pity that it didn't last... we still had plenty
of money to spend.

(At our tavern, just after dusk.)

Arlor: "Nice quiet place, yup."

Kortul: "No dragons.  No paladins."

Kory: "O hirsute one; would you be speaking of Those Who Are More Than
     Two And Less Than Four?  You have my condolences.  You won't be
     meeting them again anytime soon, I pray?"

Dania: "Not if we can help it."

Kory: "Ah, good!  That gives me just one more reason to hang out with
     you all.  The first being your beacon of spiteful loveliness, who
     fascinates me endlessly.  The $econd i$ that you $eem to $omehow
     produce an irre$i$tible $timulation which draw$ me ever clo$er to
     your cau$e."

(I'm still not sure how he got his S's to sound like dollar signs.)

Razuli: "Bonds of comradery and friendship are strong indeed. (sigh.)
     Hey kids, wanna go find Navero and take him to see the sights?"

Kory: "That cute little priest person we met earlier?  Well! I know of
     a nice little house run by a lovely older woman that I'm sure
     he'd just LOVE..."

Dania: "She your mother?"

Kory: "Nah.  But I'd get a discount if she were."

Kortul: "Some guards coming."

(Kory quickly disappears.)
Dania: "I don't see any guards."

Kortul: "Don't either.  How long'll he be gone?"

Razuli: "Long enough to try laying one of the barmaids.  He'll be back

Dania: "Please, Lord, allow me to savor one moment in peace..."

Kory: "That was not very nice."

Razuli: "And the 8-second wonder returns!  How was she?"

Kory: "Oh, not too bad.  Soon as she saw me, she just melted..."

Dania: "Down through the floorboards, hoping to escape, no doubt."

Kory: "You watch your tongue, young lady!  If you keep this up, I may
     have to spank you!  Then, you can spank me!"

Dania: "Ooh, sounds kinky.  Can I use your sword?  Trust me."

Razuli: "Hey, c'mon, I get a turn, don't I?  What's one bitchy little
     magic user between friends?" (shit-eating grin)

Kory: "More than you could ever dream of.  Dania, my dear!  Picture

Dania: "Some elf's balls frying in butter?  Mmmm, sounds tasty."

Kory: "Uhhh...  Friend Kortul!  Is she always like this?"

Kortul: (Hostile stare)

Razuli: "It's just PMS."

Dania: "Oh... fuck you all.  I'm going to bed."

Razuli: "You're going to bed to fuck us all?"

Kory: "My most perverted dreams come true!!  Only we need some women
     for the rest of you.  Wait a minute, there's some over there!
     Wow!  On second thought, Razuli can HAVE the magic user!"

Dania: "What an asshole."

Razuli: "Ah, c'mon.  Lighten up.  You put up with Rourk."

Dania: "Rourk could be serious.  And I don't hold races against

Kortul: "What about Dwarves?"
Dania: (Glare) "That's different."

Kortul: "Hmph."

(Many many Guards approach table.)

Razuli: "Oh, shit, not again.  Kids, get ready to run."

Arlor: "Hello, officers!"

Guard 1: "Hello, me loverlies.  Rememba me?  Yur ol' friend come up ta
     see ya."

Dania: "Oh, FuckingJesusChristGoddamIt...  What is it?"

Guard 1: "Wasn't nice, attacking us gards, runnin' outa town, leavin'
     behind such a horrible mess.  Been weeks cleenin' up afta yu.
     And runnin' to this city, of all places, seein' that the Lord o'
     Swamp Keep happens to be the Guv'nors brother-in-law!  You made a
     lot of people very upset wit yu.  Took a bit o' time ta peg yu,
     so now maybe we all shuld talk some, right?"

Arlor: "But, sir, we didn't make any of that mess."

Guard 1: "Why didn' ya stay and help cleen up?  Right un-neighborly.
     In fact, so un-neighborly yu all could be arrested rite here.
     But we all would much rather have yur willin' co-operashun.
     Makes tha wheels o' boorocracy run smootha that way."

Kortul: *grunt*

Guard 2: (This guard bears himself more like a lieutenant.) "According
     to some reports from Swamp Keep, you are to be held responsible
     for exterminating a small Orc tribe in the area, and as a
     consequence are partially responsible for certain events
     developing thereafter. (Glares) I hope you understand that if YOU
     can clean out Orc lairs, the militia would certainly be perfectly
     capable of handling the same situation.  If the militia does not,
     it is because of possible repercussions, which you apparently did
     not stop to consider.  One cannot go waltzing into a cave and
     start butchering.  YOU may move on, but WE have to live with the
     CONSEQUENCES of your actions!"

Razuli: "Look, we're sorry, Ok?  Now what's the deal?"

Guard 2: "You be quiet.  You and your kind have done quite enough."

Guard 1: "Tell 'em what to do, already."

Guard 2: "I was about to, so BE QUIET, dolt!"

Guard 1: (mutters) "Oo' put a burr up yur ass, then?"
Guard 2: "During your activities, you disturbed a young Black Dragon,
     according to your own reports."

Razuli: "That was Rourk!  We didn't do it!"

Guard 3: "Oh?  So you admit to knowing him, then?"

Razuli: "Knowing who?  Oh, you mean the darkie!  We're talking about a
     different guy here."

Dania: "Yea, different person.  What about the dragon?"

Guard 2: (ahem!) "The citizens of the empire have reported that such a
     dragon has been seen in and near their pastures and fields, where
     it steals their cattle.  Why it should come up here, when it was
     perfectly safe and happy further south where it wasn't
     threatening our citizens and their holdings, I of course haven't
     the slightest idea. (Glares)  You, as I understand it, have
     developed a slight reputation for the slaying of dragons..."

Kortul: (groan...)

Razuli: "Here it comes..."

Guard 2: "Surely, for such obviously COMPETENT and CAPABLE adventurers
     as yourselves, slaying a young rogue black would be as child's
     play.  In addition, you would have the thanks of the citizens of
     the state, who may forget about the small matter of your debt."

Razuli: "We keep all its treasure!"

Guard 2: "Amusing.  Anything stolen from the citizenry belongs to the
     citizenry, not to any brigandish ruffians who come along and
     sneak off with it.  You will be expected to surrender whatever
     valuables you should find in the black's hoard, and accept the
     reward decreed by the Governor for the dragon's death.  Any more
     is not in your due.  Am I understood?"

Party: Yup, yes, gotcha, absolutely your priggishness Sir!

Guard 2: "And... should you try to simply cut and run, before OR after
     killing the black, you will find the chits you have been given,
     and which you now wear and cannot remove, will lead us unerringly
     to you and you will ALL suffer PUNISHMENT to the FULLEST EXTENT

Party: Uh... yes.  Absolutely.  Can we go now, we have lots to do.

Guard 2: "Yes.  You have a lot to make up for.  The black hasn't
     killed anyone yet; if it had, I'd have you all locked up for
     murder.  As it is, you get a small chance to go out and redeem
     yourselves.  I don't know whether I want you to succeed or fail.
     If I were you, and I certainly wouldn't want to be, I'd not try
     to find out what would happen if you failed."
Guard 1: "Bye, now.  Hope yu hav lotsa fun.  He he he!" (Guards exit)

Dania: "Let's go find Nav."

Kory: "Excuse me!  Was that you who was getting screamed at?"

Razuli: "Yep.  Some stuck-up cock sucker wants us to go out and kill
     another dragon."

Kory: "Oh, cool!  Been nice knowing you all.  I shall sing songs of
     your bravery for minutes to come.  Wait a moment, did my pointed
     ears deceive me, or did you say ANOTHER dragon, dear fellow

Razuli: "Yea, another dragon.  Shouldn't be too much trouble.  We've
     seen it before, and killed worse."

Kory: "Then I must accompany you!  I've never been to a Dragon
     slaying!  Oh wow, what deliciously wonderful opportunities this
     creates for my autobiography."

     We found Navero and explained the situation to him, and then went
and got a good night's sleep.  In the morning, we set out, but not on
horseback.  The northern parts of the marsh were considerably more
boggy and inhospitable than the southern areas, and so going on horse
would be too difficult.  We decided to take advantage of the runs
which laced the swamp, draining its waters into streams and rivers; a
large skiff riding high in the water would be better than walking in
through the quicksand.  At least, that was the idea.  We very quickly
discovered that no one had ever steered a skiff before, and there were
more subtleties to it than you would guess.  Fortunately, we didn't
capsize before we got something figured out, and were soon on our way
into the swamps.

Daniel Parsons             "How the hell do we get into these things?"

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