Winter Ceramic DM™: THE WINNER! - Page 25
  1. #241
    i almost have it all together.


    mine is looking a little....gross.

  2. #242
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    So...Sialia and I have to wait until tomorrow for our pics? Cause if Sialia is ready...I am ready.

    Course the judges and stuff may not be...but I'm just saying, if we are all ready, let's do it! If not then that's fine, I'm sure I'll make it until tomorrow, heh.

    I think waiting to hear back from two different promotions I applied through at work is short circuiting my waiting ability. *pulls hair out*

    Cedric

  3. #243
    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric
    So...Sialia and I have to wait until tomorrow for our pics? Cause if Sialia is ready...I am ready.

    Cedric
    You recover quickly. It took me a few days after the last round before I was ready to go again.

    The story is ready, but Sialia will not have time to be its meat fingers until about 9 pm Friday night. I will be offline from now until 8 am tomorrow morning. And from 8am until 8:30 pm Friday, I have responsibilities that will look poorly upon my amateur exhibitionist fantasies.

    If Mythago will deal the cards tomorrow morning, the story will have something to feed on for a few hours before it chains me to the keyboard for the rest of the weekend, and you will have a good 12 hours head start on me.

    Won't that be nice?

  4. #244
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    Heh, in that case, I would encourage mythago to post it maybe tomorrow afternoon.

    Starting to look like I am going to have tomorrow off anyway.

  5. #245
    me vs. piratecat, round 2

    Cast the First Stone


    When the first attacks came I was unable to fight. I had reached the appropriate age but found my self lying in the boat, head in my mothers lap, screaming with the voice of a child.

    I had no idea at that time that the world in my head would come into play but I think my mother did.

    “Why do you hold your side?” she would ask, “Why do you toss in your sleep and rock the boat?”

    I told her about the pains. How they grew in my belly and side. But I didn’t dare mention the dreams. How do you break to your mother that you dream of dry land as far as the eye can see? Not just dry land but vast swaths of stone and sand, glass and steel. And the monster.

    “The monster.” it feels odd to call Farro that now. Odd not just because of the echo in this room, but odd because he has served me so well for so long.

    But back to the attacks- both from within and without.

    My father was the Centerman. Every night it was his duty to light the Gathering Lamp and call the boats together. I used to love to sit on the bow and watch him lay flame to the wick within the Lamp(lamplighter). He treated the small flame with the reverence all Boatmen approach flames with. Always whispering low to keep it distracted, lest it get hungry.

    With The Lamp lit he would begin his low, plaintive cry. Calling all the families to moor their boats one to another for the night. In this way he always has a count and knows if any family has wandered astray.

    On the night the pains grew their worst one family did not return. This is not the most unusual of circumstances, any times we lose a family and find them when the morning fog lifts. They will be tied to one of the small islands jutting form the water or possibly adrift on the horizon but we always find them after a good night of worry. Many people saw my first cries as an omen, and these same people were none too happy when we were missing a boat come dark.

    As the murmurs grew of noises heard far out in the dark my screams grew. I passed out eventually. I am not embarrassed by that, the pain was great. While I was out I saw the rock again. It was layered in earthen tones as before, and as before the red receded even more, leaving only the slightest pink traces. (layers) the stone flushed quickly form before my eyes. Then I awakened. I was lying under the cover at the rear of our boat covered in sweat and resting in my own urine. The pain had passed, I knew it would. I knew from the dream.

    What I did not know from the dream was that the stone was not part of the masses of land I dreamed of, but part of me! It passed form me when I lost control if myself in sleep and came to sit in my pants. This stone I passed fascinated me. I quickly forgot the pain it has caused as I turned it in the low light of my father lamp, awed by the smooth layers of color and none to disturbed by the small, red bits of myself that still clung to its surface.

    Weeks passed, maybe months. The dreams stayed,- the monster, the great expanses of glass and steel, the dry, dry earth. The missing boat was never found, nor the family who rode it. Each night we came together, one massive flotilla of rafts, junks, skiffs and longboats. Eventually talk of the missing family ceased, but the grumble over the loss of a boat remained.

    I carried my stone, never telling anyone of it, sure that it meant something. It is bad luck to bring a stone aboard a boat, that is what they used to say.

    We finally found the missing boat. It was the oddest thing at the time, my father and the others seemed most distracted that everything was intact. Just the family was gone.

    We didn’t know at the time, but the attacks had started.

    That first boat was re-assigned by drawing lots and life continued until the pains grew great again and another family went missing.

    As it neared dark that night we saw Jurbens boat floating towards ours with no-one at the helm. My father lit his lamp, called his song and the boats came together slowly. I can still remember what they sounded like, the water pushing up between their hulls, how quiet they were.

    Odd. The sound I miss most is the quiet.

    The boat was searched and found empty again. I wouldn’t know of it though, I was below, crying and gnashing my teeth. The world went black, and when I awoke I had a new stone. I wiped the blood and urine form it and looked at it closely.

    That was the first time I ever felt powerful.

    When the pains came to me again there was talk about Casting my entire family. Casting, what a terrible curse. A whole family set adrift without rights to return to the Gathering. Most families just linger on the edges of the fleet, feeling safe within sight, but they all disappear eventually. Some say they are eaten, drowned or blown off lost till they starve. Some say they go off eventually to a better place beyond the sea. I never believed that of course. Beyond the sea- I didn’t think there was such a place.

    The entire mood of the fleet changed with the attacks though. First it was just one man who claimed to have seen the attackers. He claimed aloud that their boat stood out of the water 6 times the height of the highest sail in the fleet, and that it was made of white steel.

    We all laughed.

    We laughed until the families he claimed were attacked did not return. Laughed until we found the splinters riding the great stream running through the sea.

    That is when I began to suspect the monster. That is when I started to realize I was important.

    One boat this night, two boats that night, the tales of the great white boat and the terrible men who drive it kept coming. And then the came.

    One night, in a soft rain that drove the fog to other waters we first saw the great boat together. The Boatmen all ran deck to deck, gripping harpoons tight and calling for the separation. The men jumped to the fastest boats, unlashing them and crying for battle. When heads were counted as the rowing started it was noticed that I was missing. My father turned and called my name as I lay on our deck, weeping and holding my side.

    The slaughter was terrible.

    My fathers harpoon was sharp. I had seen it slice through whale flesh to the deep, red lungs hidden beneath. My father was brave, I have seen him take to the water to gather a fallen child and throw grown men to the hard decks of our boat if they paid no caution to the flame.

    He hurled his harpoon bravely. I was close enough to hear the terrible noise it made on impact with that boat.

    This boat.

    He fought bravely, but them men on the great craft felled every boatman who rowed near with ease. They were true evil.

    And this was only the beginning.

    We scattered to the winds. 500 boats in 500 directions. How could we fight? How can a person fight an enemy that asks no questions and wants no goods?

    It is one thing to kill a man to take what is his. It is another to kill a man who wishes to take what is yours. But to kill for no other reason than to kill? That is true evil.

    We saw other boats in the months that came. They always came with stragglers tales of small flotillas decimated by the great, white boat. Tales of many men dying while fighting to protect nothing but their right to be.

    By this time I had passed some 30 stones, and my anger was growing.

    We were eventually set upon by the white boat. We may have been the last on the sea for them to strike. I may never know. Our boat and seven other sailed on a strong wind into seas we had never seen, for three days and nights we sailed always pursued by the great hulking mass of the white boat.

    By this time I knew what we were up against-in a way. The tales had come of the impenetrable steel of the hull and the great panes of glass on its sides. What I didn’t know was anything of the men who sailed this vessel.

    And I know longer cared. I wanted to destroy them, I wanted to face them myself and smite them from the surface of the water. And in the back of my mind I was beginning to think I could.

    We sailed with all we had, but the boat that pursued us was as much machine as boat, and it had no arms to tire of pulling ropes. It had no wind to fail its sails. As we began to lose hope my mother turned away, gasped aloud and collapsed.

    I turned to care for her but found myself completely unable to move- mesmerized. Strung out before the bow of our boat, strung out for leagues in each direction was land. Not the tiny scraps of land we have always known and used for birthing and slaughtering but a massive pile of earth breaking the ocean in a way that islands can not.

    We made for the land with great haste, and thought ourselves safe. We swam for shore, struggling to gain our land legs and began to feel a sense of safety form the trees before us.

    “Cover!” I called “Take to the cover!”

    We ran for the tress and as I looked back I saw all my hopes shatter. Small boats, hundreds of them. Small, fast boats emerging from the fore of the great white boat. They moved with a terrible speed, launching themselves right up onto the beach where the terrible men would jump ashore, slaughtering any who came in easy reach. Slaughtering those who ran with great sticks of fire and thunder.

    And then the pain hit. My thigh exploded in a flash and I twisted down to the ground, sand filling my eyes. I thought it was the end.

    That was when I saw Farro, my monster. (trucking) He was skittering up the beach, dodging between the bursts of sand caused by the fire form the terrible men.

    Mad with pain and desperate I called out “Help me! In the name of all the winds someone help me!”

    And Farro did. He moved in close and pressed the hard plates of his body near me. The terrible fire sticks were unable to penetrate his shell and in a strange moment of clarity I stopped worrying completely about my death and wondered at his scales.

    The were hard, and shone like polished wood. And they were layered. Layered in the colors of earth, like the stones form my manhood.

    I reached to my neck and grabbed the small pouch hanging there, withdrawing a stone.

    As I laid there, studying that stone, one of the men approached and spoke, spoke in a language with a tone of age to it. Familiar, yet formal. “No offense bumpkin, only so much to go around.”

    “What?” I asked “What? What do you mean? So much of what?”

    “Resources bumpkin, resources” he pointed his terrible stick at me and grinned a malicious grin “only so much to go around. Somebody’s got to go.”

    “YOU!” I screamed “YOU SHOLD DIE!”

    And he did.

    Now this may come as a shock, it did to me. The stone evaporated in my hand and the mans head practically exploded.

    I looked into Farros eye, his previously cold, dark eye. Everything seemed right.

    Spilling my stones into my hand I rose to my feet- burning, searing pain shooting through my thigh as it took my weight.

    And I did terrible things.

    Evil things.

    I found myself able to toss these men and their machines through the air. Able to squash them with a thought. Able to rend them, at only the cost of a stone.

    More importantly, I found myself able to kill a man who had nothing I wanted. Soon I would move to killing those who had not attacked me.

    My mother was last seen bounding for the tree line, my little sister in her arms. I suppose I may go and find them again when I am done.

    For now, I sit here, stringing the stones I cast out into series (craft), storing them for what is coming. What is coming now.

    Farro is at my side, long removed from the once peaceful beach he lived on. I could have no more left him than he could have left me. We sit, looking out at the city of glass and steel from the starboard glass of the great, white ship. (gateway)

    These people, the ones who sent put their terrible machine and its terrible men will taste the power of my stones. I will kill them, and not take any thing from them. I will kill them all, whether they attack or defend. I have 7 great bowls of my stones, for the sail has been long.

    On my fathers boat I cried out in pain with the voice of a child. Now my voice grows strong again, here in this cavernous room. Strong with the rage to be shared.

    And I have many to share it with.

  6. #246
    well, that sapped me. i am wasted.

    i tried to add in the little blue tags, but could not, i kept erasing text and getting confused.

    it is so hard to eb a bear of very little brain.

    good luck to my chump, er, competition.

  7. #247
    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Good luck, indeed! I can't wait to read yours - but first, I must post mine. I'm trying a comedy this time, and you may need to peruse the art in your Player's Handbook to fully appreciate it. Some of the characters may look a little familiar.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Monday, 19th January, 2004 at 04:18 AM.

  8. #248
    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Iconography

    Semi-finals: Alsih2o vs. Piratecat


    We were sitting around in the tavern when the old man came in out of the storm, water dripping from his cloak and a seagull familiar perched on one shoulder. He smelled of the sea and of cheap tobacco. His new robes swirled around him as he walked, his jewelry glinted with arcane fire and his staff looked fully charged. I knew he was trying to make a good impression on us, but I wasn’t sure why just yet. He still needed a little work; I could spot the dirty hands and smell the odious stink of his breath, and I knew that underneath he was the same old bastard I’d known all along. Perhaps he thought that snazzy new threads would impress the women? More likely he was trying to con someone.

    But it wasn’t my problem. Today was just another working day, and he’d shown up in his typical role of mysterious employer. My friends and I used this tavern as a meeting hall; we’d wander in and out as the urge took us, and whichever ones of us were around on any given day would get assembled into an adventuring team. It wasn’t a bad life for an popular halfling, and the pay was good. I’d been happy for years.

    So like always, I hopped down off of the high stool and padded my way on over to the old wizard as he stood surveying the crowd. He never heard me approaching, so he yelped as I goosed him on his bony hindquarters. “Sneak attack!” I yelled.

    He turned in a towering fury, but I just stood there and grinned up at him. The rage passed from his eyes, and within seconds he grinned back at me, too. “Glad you’re here, m’dear,” he rasped. “Who else do we have?” We looked around at the armor-clad fighter passed out in the corner, the drunken cleric drawing suns in of a puddle of cheap beer, the dwarf cheating at darts with a couple of commoners, and the druid wildshaped into another dumbass animal. . . a giant sloth this time, I thought. Even in animal form she had silly wooden antlers stuck into her fur. The old wizard looked back down at me. “Where’s Mialee?”

    I made a face. “Shacked up with Hennet. She’s had a kinky buckle fetish lately, and she was pretty drunk last night. She was awfully worked up. She kept talking about how she was smarter than anyone else in the room, and how she’d be dancing on our graves long after we’d died of old age, and how nobody around here knew a damn thing about elf fashion; her standard rant, really. Pretty soon Hennet waltzed in on her for a change of pace, and the two of them disappeared upstairs. That was right after she threw up on Krusk.” I sighed. “He never even noticed.”

    “He never does. Ember? Devis? Alhandra?”

    I nimbly ticked them off on my fingers. “Ember is off in the mysterious east seeing a transmuter about some sort of life change. Devis is on vacation somewhere with umbrella drinks and loose women. And Alhandra is spending quality time with her war horse. And although you didn’t ask, good old Nebin is off trying to get ‘illusionist’ back as his favored class.”

    “Ah, well. Get Mialee, and I’ll gather these others.” He drew himself up ominously and made his voice go all spooky. “I have a rather… dark… mission for you today.”

    I frowned. “Not more of that Book of Vile Darkness crap? Boss, I told you before, nipple clamps of exquisite pain is where I draw the line. No thank you. Ever since that portrait of me with the misfired wand, I’ve had to watch myself or mouths start yapping with ugly rumors.” I shook my head. “Sometimes a wand is just a wand, and I don’t need to go through that again.”

    His voice went back to normal. “No, no. Nothing like that.” He walked over and used Regdar’s armor spikes to pop open a beer before he kicked the fighter in the side of the helmet. “Up and at ‘em, boy.” Regdar grunted sleepily.

    An ugly suspicion dawned in my head. “This isn’t third party work, is it? I got about fifteen offers from Valar to pose for the Book of Erotic Fantasy, and I turned every one of them down.” I smirked. “Too bad Mialee can’t say the same. She thought an art spread was a two page illustration, silly bitch. Anyways, if you’ve subcontracted me out to those guys, I swear I’m gonna – ”

    “Shush, my dear halfling.” He beckoned over Vadania and grabbed Jozan by the ear, dragging him away from his artistic puddle of ale. “Get Mialee. We need to talk.”

    I moved silently upstairs and picked the lock on their door after disarming the traps. Hennet was still passed out and snoring, so I snuck some itching powder into his leather pants and quietly woke up Mialee. The elven wizard was in a terrifying state of disarray; it turns out that the illusion of eternal beauty and youth is the end result of a whole lot of makeup, an elven hairdresser and a very good corset. By the time she pulled herself together and made it downstairs, our employer had gathered all the others in front of the fireplace. Vadania was back in humanoid form, and Jozan had expended a few quick sober orisons to help focus peoples’ attention. No one seemed especially grateful.

    “Regdar, Tordek, Lidda, Mialee, Vadania, and Jozan. BEHOLD! I present… your plot hook!” He flung his floor-length robes wide with an ostentatious flourish.

    “By Regdar’s scabbard!” exclaimed one of our two fighters. “Regdar sees a tiny gnome under your robes!” I managed to avoid making the obvious comment.

    “What was he doing under there?” asked Vadania innocently. Mialee leaned over to whisper in her ear, and the druid turned scarlet.

    “Stop that!” roared the wizard. “This is Gimble.” Our benefactor patted the fledgling adventurer upon his small, elegantly coiffed blond head. “He’s a new employee, he’s a bard, and he’ll be part of your team. The boy’s a star. He’s like a delayed blast fireball in gnome form. The fans are gonna love him.”

    “But a bard?” I worried. “Devis is going to be pissed.”

    “Devis loves me,” stated Mialee with condescending certainty. “He’s a horrible musician, but he has wonderful taste. There’s no reason to supplant him.”

    “Hah!” rumbled Tordek. “By Moradin’s tailbone, Devis is a has-been. He’d have to emerge from a bar long enough to even notice that he’s been replaced.”

    “Like you,” laughed Regdar.

    “What’s that?” Tordek’s bushy eyebrows shot up his face. “You got a problem, sirrah? Who’s the iconic fighter here? Me, that’s who! So you shut your pie hole, or I’ll have an orc shut it for you!” Tordek’s blunt finger thunked into Regdar’s breastplate with a hollow clang.

    Regdar pulled himself to his full 6’4”, towering head and shoulders over the dwarf. He spoke slowly, although that’s the only way he ever spoke. “Tordek is iconic only if someone is reading outdated books like 3.0,” he rumbled. “Tordek did such a bad job that he got demoted, and in version 3.5 Regdar is also the iconic fighter. Regdar is the famous one now! And Regdar,” he said meaningfully, “has a greatsword bigger than Tordek’s entire body. So perhaps Tordek should consider himself lucky to even be seen in Regdar’s presence, hah?” At this the dwarf’s axe snaked out of his sheath, but our employer quickly put a stop to the bickering.

    “How would both of you like to be relegated to the damn appendix of our next edition?” he asked in an icy whisper. “How would you like to join Kerwyn in exile? Or Rath?” Both fighters froze in their tracks. “Then shut up and pay attention. Someone tried to kill Gimble last night. I want you to find out who before you invade their home, kill their guardians, and take their stuff.

    “Not dungeons again?” complained Jozan, as he stopped shining the holy symbol on his codpiece long enough to look up. His voice was cultured and cocksure. “My goodness, I hate dungeons. No sunlight. Makes it hard to keep my tan.” He sniffed in irritation before looking back down at his crotch to reassure himself that his reflection was visible in the codpiece’s gleam.

    “Not necessarily. Someone tried to kill Gimble last night. I want you to find out who that was. Once you do, it’s standard procedure: invade their home, kill their guardians, and take their stuff. The usual.”

    I stifled a yawn. “Any clues, boss?”

    “Only one.” He threw a parcel at me, and I tried to catch it with one hand before realizing that it was a lot heavier than it looked. I unwrapped the brown paper and looked at the object in confusion.

    “A rock?” I was unimpressed.

    “Not just a rock. My boy Gimble here,” the gnome beamed proudly beside him, “got attacked by an unusual earth elemental. That was left over after it was killed. What do you make of it?”

    Once again ignoring the obvious jokes, I examined the stone. It was a form of layered crystal that had clearly been worked by some humanoid. Red waxy writing was visible on one side. I looked over at Tordek and tossed him the stone.

    The dwarf leaned forward and actually licked the crystal, his stubby tongue skittering across the rock like a nervous pink lizard. He clearly savored the taste of each separate layer within the rock; really, there’s nothing like a connoisseur.

    Next to me, Mialee rolled her slanted eyes. “Tordek, do you suppose it’s possible to be any more disgusting? I can’t believe I’m letting myself be seen with you.”

    “That’s good crystal, elf!” he declared. “By Moradin’s toenail, taste is one of the five senses, and the one you’re clearly lacking in the most. You can’t get this sort of stone down here in the lowlands. Did you happen taste it yourself?”

    “No,” she replied icily. “I can’t say it occurred to me.”

    “Well, this is good Hellspur quartzite.” He gestured with the now-gleaming stone, inadvertently spraying Mialee with droplets of leftover dwarven saliva. “And it’s meant to be used in some sort of construction. See these red markings? They’re dwarven runes. This elemental-thingy was summoned wherever this sort of stone is being used.”

    My mind flashed through possibilities. I fastened on one only seconds before Mialee, who was smarter but not as worldly as I am. I could feel my eyes lighting up with excitement. “And that means the new temple to Pelor being built downtown!” I declared. “Dwarven architects, imported stone, all sorts of special touches.” I could feel my eyes glazing over with barely-suppressed greed. “And temple treasures,” I crooned. “A secret maze. A deadly labyrinth. And lots and lots of shiny, shiny gold.” I grinned like an idiot until Jozan smacked me lightly across the back of the head.

    “What’s the little saying we agreed on, Lidda?” he asked me patiently.

    We recited it together in a sing-song voice. “I will not steal from Lawful Good.”

    “Right!” he finished cheerfully. “Remember it, please, even if we do have an assassin who has secretly taken refuge there. It’s my job to try and save your soul.”

    Vadania looked worried, one of her fake antlers hanging astray. “Am I going to have to go into town?” she asked worriedly. “I hate towns.”

    “I’m afraid so, dear,” answered Mialee. “After all, that’s where the adventure is.” Vadania gulped, panicked, and turned into an opossum. She keeled over and played dead, and the rest of us got up to get our gear.

    “As long as we’re going into town, Regdar needs to buy new lucky necklace,” our fighter declared.

    “What happened to the last lucky necklace?” I asked.

    “Broke when a troll tried to strangle Regdar with it. Very lucky.” He nodded knowingly. “Lucky necklace before that burnt up when Regdar walked into a fireball. Necklace before that dissolved in purple worm’s stomach acid. Necklace before that. . .”

    I blinked and cut him off. “And it’s a lucky necklace?”

    Regdar nodded. “Regdar still around to buy new one, no?”

    I considered this as I pocketed my kit of thieves’ tools. “Good point. I’ll buy one too.”

    “Can I have one too? Huh, can I?” asked Gimble, bouncing around like a goateed haste spell. “I haven’t yet been properly equipped for my level!” I glared at him, and sighed deeply. Newbies.

    We stopped at the market on our way downtown, Tordek carrying Vadania’s opossum form slung over his shoulder and Mialee carrying the weight of the enormous chip on her shoulder. I swear, sometimes that girl needed to loosen up. She looked down her aquiline nose at all the human merchants and made snotty comments galore, but at least she helped Gimble shop for equipment. Meanwhile, Regdar and I watched his lucky necklace being made.

    “Can you make one for me, too?” I asked the old woman doing the delicate work. She nodded, and I gladly paid the steep fee right out of her own pilfered cash box. We walked away from the stall happy, and I flipped Gimble his necklace when we caught back up with him. By now he was fully kitted out with lute, crossbow, daggers, silly-looking boots, and a jerkin that said ‘fireball me first.’ He smiled broadly as he fastened his necklace around his neck and pirouetted slowly to show off his new outfit.

    Mialee smiled coldly. “It looks very special on you, dear. Terribly unique. I’m sure you’ll be the talk of the town.” Tordek cut in to defend the gnome, and they started in on one another. Over the sound of their bickering, I got Gimble’s attention. “How’d you get this gig, anyways?”

    He had the decency to look somewhat ashamed. “My uncle works for our employers. When he heard that the old iconic bard had gone into a slump, he put my name forward as a possible replacement. I may not be experienced, but Gods only know that I can play something other than bad ‘70’s songs. I once heard Devis trying to serenade Mialee to a disco tune. It left me horrified.”

    “So you can do better?” He puffed out his skinny little chest at the implied insult.

    “Hey! I’ve been featured speaker of the Junior Adventurer Guild three times now, and I provide background music over at the inn when it’s late and the innkeeper wants to drive everyone out. I think I can hack the adventuring life.” He screamed as Vadania leaped from Tordek’s shoulder onto Gimble’s head, and damn near put his own eye out with his new crossbow before he realized what was happening. I chuckled, patted him on the back, patted Vadania on her furry flank, and we continued on our way. Our only delay was stopping by the glassblowers stall to drag Jozan away from the mirror display.

    By nightfall we reached the pier at one end of the town’s C-shaped harbor. We were trying to decide whether to walk or take a boat over to the temple when a shirtless old human boatman made up our mind for us. “Pretty lady, need a ride?” His toothless mouth leered at Mialee’s ice queen appearance. Maybe it’s the pole up her butt or the funny ears, and maybe it’s those diaphanous elf-dresses, but she brings in the weird ones like moths to a flame.

    The boatman’s voice sounded a lot like moldy silk. “Special for elves today, pretty lady,” he sang tunelessly. “Bring you across the harbor cheap, only a few copper pennies! You and your friends too.” The old man slowly lit a lantern, golden light streaming over us.

    Mialee frowned doubtfully at the man until she made a decision. Her face jerked into a smile that never quite reached her cold eyes. Her voice sounded musical. “I’d normally say ‘no,’ but the color of your boat just happens to complement my outfit today! In addition, it won’t hurt your reputation to parade my beauty for the other boatmen to appreciate. I’ll tell you what; I’ll let you pay me five copper pieces for the privilege of ferrying us.” She bent over him, deliberately displaying the new elven chainmail bikini top that our bosses were insisting she wear.

    And of course, such was her trashy little outfit that the boatman actually agreed to her terms. I swear, if I was built like that damn elf I could probably take over the world. I could become one of those overly tough bad guys in third party modules that have inappropriate CRs, the one that they send all the inexperienced young paladins off to go and slay. That’d be fun. I think a girl should always have career ambitions. But Mialee never lived up to her potential, so she was stuck in two-bit adventuring like the rest of us.

    So we clambered aboard the boat, Regdar nearly swamping us and Tordek aquiver with fright in case he accidentally got used as an anchor. Vadania had the bright idea of turning into a sea bird, but she chose emu instead and came darn close to drowning. Jozan preached, Mialee flirted, Gimble gamboled and pranced and I quietly rifled through the boatman’s possessions.

    The trip across was easy enough. The old man clearly knew his way around a boat; he was one of those commoners who actually have enough levels to know their job, which is a lovely change from earlier editions. We docked on the other side of the harbor just beneath the skeleton of the massive new temple to Pelor. Casting a handful of buffing spells, we started up the hillside to the temple.

    “I miss the old days,” complained Tordek. “In those days, Jozan could hit me with a strength spell and I’d stay strong for hours, by Moradin’s fetlock. Nowadays, he hits me with a spell and I’m weak again a few minutes later. I don’t approve of this new magic, no sirree.”

    Regdar snorted. “Regdar wouldn’t know what that felt like to be weak. When someone hits Regdar with a spell, Regdar hits them back.” Jozan nodded in painful memory, but Mialee laughed as she recalled the burly fighter sitting on top of the cleric yelling “Stop healing yourself! Stop healing yourself!” Her delicate laughter tinkled into the night.

    Jozan looked hurt. “I thought we agreed never to talk about that again?”

    And then we were suddenly at the doors to the temple. “You see?” Tordek pointed to a large pile of cut stone nearby. “Some of this stone is missing. It’s the right taste, too. We’re in the same place that the elemental was summoned from.”

    “I better scout ahead,” I decided.

    “How about a dirty limerick to inspire you?” announced Gimble in a stage whisper. “Or a jolly jig? I’m really good at those. There once was a halfling from Bree, who’d only come up to your knee. . .”

    I shushed him and slipped into the shadows. I kept one hand on my new lucky necklace, and my sneaking was flawless. I didn’t make any noise at all when I tripped headlong over the unconscious dwarven guards. Then light flared around me. “C’mon, be a reflex save,” I prayed to whatever God might be listening. “Reflex!”

    It was a will save, and that’s all I remembered for a little while.

    When I came back to my senses, I was chained to the wall against some statue in a glorious entrance hall. The floor tile was polished to a reflective sheen, and the huge circular gateway showed the pre-light of an upcoming dawn. All my gear was missing.

    “Welcome back to the land of the living,” hissed a sinister and quite insane voice in my ear. It was the voice of the old boatman. “It won’t be for very long. You’re chained to a lovely little death trap, my dear. I am still hoping to get that blasted gnome, but you’ll make a fine example. . . or I’ll trade you for him if you’re still alive. When the sun rises,” he pointed an oddly well-manicured and graceful hand over my shoulder from where he stood behind me, “it will be reflected by the floor and amplified by the magic of the gateway. All that light will be focused upon the statue of Pelor upon which you are chained. It’s suppose to be a radiant miracle. . . but for you, it will be a radiant miracle if you survive!” His laughter didn’t quite make chilling. It clocked in more around annoying. I rolled my eyes.

    “Devis? Is that you, you dork?” I tried to twist my head, and then the half-elf was in front of me. His eyes were wild and his lip twisted in insane hatred. An ugly helmet sat upon his head. He lapsed into his normal tenor voice.

    “Hey, baby,” he said. “You’re looking pretty hot in those chains.” He traced a teasing finger down my leather armor. “How about a first edition feel?”

    “Oh please. I’m not Mialee.” I studied him. “Nice disguise on the boat.”

    “Thanks!” He beamed with pride. “I’ve been pumping in skill points. I picked up a transmutation or two while off at the Sunless Citadel, but you always need to worry about voices and mannerisms.” I nodded in agreement.

    “Say, Is that a helmet of opposite alignment on your head? Gee, that would explain a lot.”

    He tipped me a quick wink. “It’s not real,” he whispered. “I got it from an old tomb we looted during a playtest. But isn’t it just styling?” He checked out his reflection in the reflective tiles for a moment before turning back to me. “I’m doing this because I just hate that Gimple guy. The fake helm’s going to give me a wonderful excuse for offing him and still getting my old job back. Even as we speak, my minions are kicking seven kinds of hell out of them elsewhere in the complex. By the time they get here, they ought to be nicely worn down.” He looked at me. “Sorry to use you as bait, sweetie, but it’s written in to the boxed text. You know how things are.”

    “You have minions?”

    He beamed again. “Leadership feat, Lidda. And my cohort’s a hottie.”

    “Then what’s she doing with you?” I squinted at him, already beginning to feel warm as dawn approached. “No offense, Devis, but you’re a crappy bard. You always have been. All you do is stand in the back and hum rude ditties. Plus, you’re a half-elf! No one wants to be a half-elf.”

    He looked offended. “Hey, it could be worse. I could be Soveliss and carry around a quiver full of Q-Tips. I could be a gnome. So less insults, huh? You’re hurting my feelings. I’m a sensitive guy.” He sniffed in melancholy, but just then there was a loud crash at the other end of the chamber. Jozan was first through the door, holy symbol held outwards so that everyone could admire the new chrome plating. The others were behind him, dragging the unconscious Regdar.

    “Avaunt, foul dark one! Your time on this mortal world has ended, for my holy might will… will… oh, hi, Devis. I thought you were on vacation.”

    Devis shrugged, and peered into the half-light. “What happened to Regdar?” At the question, Tordek flushed a little and tried to hide his axe behind his back.

    “Slipped,” he mumbled.

    “Good for you.” Devis blinked. “And what the hell is that behind you?” Jozan looked back to see what he was referring to.

    “Oh, it’s Vadania. You can’t tell because the wooden antlers fell out. She’s a pangolin.”

    “A what? She looks like a walking artichoke.”

    “A pangolin,” explained Mialee as she appeared from the shadows. Devis’ eyes lit up at the sight of her. “Also called a scaly anteater, she’s an unusual mammal that is covered with protective scales made of horn. There are seven species of pangolins that live in grasslands and forests. She has short legs with huge claws and a sticky tongue up to 27 inches long.”

    “Oh, baby!” said Gimble from the shadows.

    “That’s MY line, twerp,” hissed Devis.

    Mialee continued. “When in danger, the pangolin curls itself into an impenetrable ball, protecting its soft belly and face. It may also hit an enemy with its tail or spray it with urine.”

    “Oh, baby!” said Gimble again, but Mialee hadn’t stopped talking.

    “The pangolin is a burrowing nocturnal mammal. The male pangolin has the scrotum sheathed inside abdominal skin so as to avoid heat loss. In both sexes, eyelids are devoid of lubricating glands. Females possess two mammae with their auxiliary teats. Generally the perineal gland exudes a musky acrid secretion which helps…”

    “By Moradin’s nosehair, woman! We know you’re smart, now shut up!” Mialee lapsed into silence. Devis nodded.

    “I love you, Mialee, but you do know how to ruin a mood.”

    Gimble held a hand over his head. “Can we talk about the teats some more?”

    “Time to end this,” growled Devis. “I’ll trade Gribble for Lidda.”

    “Never!” exclaimed Jozan.

    Devis tried reason. “Everyone loves Lidda. She’s got her own fan club. But Grimgull over there is a flash-in-the-pan. He may be stylin’ if you put a big red hat on him and stuck him in your garden, but he’s no me.” Devis smiled charmingly. “So what do you say?”

    Tordek lowered his axe, and Mialee let her spell components slip out of her hands. Jozan stopped rubbing his holy symbol. “Okay.”

    “Okay?” Gimble squeaked with outrage. “OKAY? You can’t let him do that!”

    “Sorry, kid.” Tordek shook his shaggy head. “By Moradin’s -”

    He never finished his sentence, because by now I had worked loose my new lucky necklace and used the cheap catch to pick the locks on my chains. Catching Devis flatfooted, I whirled it around his neck and squeezed. He dropped like a gaffed umber hulk. I grinned over at Regdar’s still form on the tile floor. “Lucky necklace.”

    Later, as we hauled Devis’ unconscious body out of the temple, Gimble asked what we were going to do with him. “Well,” I answered, “he’ll join the other second rate characters in their own crappy dungeon somewhere. Kerwyn, Eberk, that annoying drow with the deathsong staff, even the psionic iconics. He’ll be okay. Maybe he’ll even join the iconics from 2nd edition. I hear that Rath is a playable character.”

    “Poor bastard.” Gimble stared down at Devis’ ravaged face, the nose swollen by drink and the lines from too many nights of women and song. “Am I going to end up like this?” he asked, wonderingly. “I don’t want to be an unknown. I want to be famous! I want exposure!”

    “You want exposure? I’ll get you exposure.” I asked, a nasty smile playing across my face. “I can introduce you to some friends over at the Valar Project. Trust me, little buddy. You’ll go far.”

    The End

    Thanks to panasia.org.sg for pangolin statistics!

  9. #249
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    as she recalled the burly fighter sitting on top of the cleric yelling “Stop healing yourself! Stop healing yourself!”
    lol!!!

    omg, but this one is gonna make a few laps around the internet....

  10. #250
    and pangolins have a tongue that anchors to their pelvis. who overlooks this when trying to be funny?


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