Week 7, Mugging the Muggers
Erratum Note: Chris and Cantrel were at separate inns.
NOW, however, Cantrel is out hunting muggers with Daewen. They were so pleased with their first success that they went and collected Lorelei to come join in the fun.
However, it isn't much fun when they are surprised by a pair of thugs. Each thug grabs one of the women. They didn't grab Cantrel because he was skulking along in the shadows. He springs to the rescue, so one of the thugs tries to club him with Daewen. Lorelei sleeps her captor, but Cantrel is handicapped by not wanting to parry the first thug's "club" too hard, it being a companion. Eventually, the thug drops Daewen, which is fatal, because the three of them beat him to death with nunchuks and karate.
Looting the bodies, they garner a total of three eagles and six small coppers in cash, a knife, a dagger, and a sword belt.
Cantrel, bruised and bleeding, asks the ladies if they want to try again. Their blood is still up, so they say yes. These women approach muggers the way most women approach cantaloupe in the produce section -- things to be thumped and sliced.
Their next catch is two with daggers, one of whom demands, "Your money or your life." While Cantrel thinks this one over, Daewen knocks one out with a karate kick. Cantrel then KOs the second. How painless. (For our heroes.)
This time the loot amounts to two small shields, a spear, two daggers, and four small coppers.
They were kneeling over the bodies of their latest victims, about to call it a night, when a large man in breastplate and greaves comes up and demands an explanation or something. (They don't follow his Hremish.) Cantrel looks innocent, tries to explain that he speaks no Hremish, and, while the big guy is trying to figure this out, trips him with a TK shove. He lands with sword at the ready. Cantrel is impressed and begins to notice how VERY big this guy is. Perchance he is one of those Heroes with a capital H that Cantrel is always being mistaken for.
Cantrel is careful to look astonished by the hero's odd flip, as if the TK had nothing to do with him. Daewen tries addressing the hero in (bad) Faen, which he recognizes but does not understand. Cantrel tries pantomime.
While this is going on (the hero crouching with sword at the ready), yet another stranger comes on the scene -- a fellow in flowing robes, with a long staff. The obvious person to throw a TK spell at one unexpectedly. The hero rushes the wizard, who gestures and sends the hero flying with a TK shove. (Yes indeed, the obvious patsy.)
Cantrel then tries to lift the hero's sword by TK, but his grip is still tight. Lorelei slips off into the shadows. The mage starts to incant impressively, but Daewen interrupts and begins her own pantomimed explanation of things. The mage can make nothing of this and looks back and forth between the two apparent "heroes," muttering.
Cantrel tries another TK snatch. No way. The hero, believing the mage to be at fault, charges again and the two whack at each other with sword and magic staff. Cantrel lays into the hero with nunchuks, and the women, who were starting to slip off into the night, return with karate. In the end, they beat the hero unconscious, though the man is as great a swordsman as his racial name would suggest. Cantrel is badly wounded by the end of things.
Daewen tries her lousy Faen on the mage, with no more luck than she had with the hero. Cantrel "gingerly" picks up the hero's sword and walks off looking as if he had no idea how to use it. Daewen manages to thank the mage and they part. They watch from hiding until the mage is out of sight. By that time, one of their two most recent victims revives. He is mightily puzzled to find one hero and an unconscious partner where he had left a conscious partner, a big guy, a gorgeous woman, and a cute little she-Faen. That doesn't stop him from cautiously looting partner and hero ... until Cantrel TKs a purse out of his grasp, whereupon he scrams. Alas, the "purse" turns out to be nothing but a wineskin.
Cantrel suggests they all climb to a roof and wait before knocking around the streets much more. They do this and presently hear a lot of footsteps. It's the mage, returning with a lot of armed men, presumably the Watch. The mage gestures at the unconscious hero, who glows faintly. The party concludes that the hero will be blamed for any stray bodies found on the streets nearby and decide to leave before anyone gets the snarl untangled.
They return to the Briar-oak, where Lorelei discovers the hero's stolen sword is enchanted. The enchantment appears to be a kind of magical beacon, in fact a "find me" spell. Rats. Cantrel gets healed by Wu, gives Daewen three eagles and a royal from the night's takings, then goes and spends the rest of the night on a roof with his stolen sword.
Daewen pools the money with Christopher's winnings and we all go shopping. We no longer need knives, thanks to our Three Muggateers, but Tom picks up a small bow and short sword for Alag, a USED rapier for himself, a broadsword, and a half-priced broken-down crossbow, which he hopes to fix up for Pfusand. He has to throw three daggers into the bargain to get the crossbow. Chris buys arrows and quarrels.
We leave the city without Cantrel and rendezvous with him on the road. Wu takes a look at the enchanted sword and confirms Lorelei's analysis. We march briskly through the day. By evening, we see mountains to the east-north-east. We should be one day from the Golden Fields, with 21 left.
The next day we come to a fork in the road. The north fork follows a river that descends from the mountains. The south fork crosses the river. We make a guess and cross the river, on the south fork. This leads us to ordinary green fields, with trees in the distance. We reach these woods, look for gold and purple flowers, fail, and pass on. Toward evening, we see firelight ahead.
Tom and Chris scout ahead and spy out four men with horses and weapons, speaking together around their campfire in an unknown tongue. They look rather barbarous. The scouts go back and report. Chris recommends approaching and questioning them, so we do this, Chris and Tom foremost. When, in our miserable Faen and Hremish, we ask after the Golden Fields, the men point back the way we came. So we withdraw. We guessed wrong. We camp and post watches.
Next morning, we retrace our steps, re-cross the river, and follow it up into the mountains. Eventually, we come to a steep-walled canyon. Tom retains vivid memories of the last steep-walled canyon the party went through, more than a year ago in Lorelei's home world. We got ambushed there and lost Simson the Teldai. But there's no way around it, (Is there ever a way around these things? No.) so we pass through, weapons out and on the alert.
We spot something predatory prowling above the walls, but it doesn't appear to notice us. Looked like a big cat or maybe a bear. Our way is blocked by a copse of trees. Alag climbs the wall as far as feasible and scouts it. All clear. We pass through the woods and come to a wide place in the river, a small lake. It blocks the canyon entirely. Cantrel flies over and lands. (Oh yeah, Cantrel can fly. It's been some time since he did that.) But the rest of us can't do that. Not many can swim, either. So, gathering some dead wood, Tom cobbles together a raft. (We know enough about fairy tales to be leery of cutting wood unless we must.)
Chris, Tom, David, Alag, and Daewen will go over on the first crossing. Wu, Lorelei, Pfusand, and whoever comes back for them take the second crossing. But, on the first crossing, people begin yawning cavernously. David starts to fall into the water. Tom manages to catch him, but the effort makes him pass out. So Chris grabs Tom and manages to resist the magical sleep. In fact, he is the only one awake when we reach the far side. So he is the one that goes poling back for the other. Being warned, they don't fall in, though they DO fall asleep. Eventually, we are all on the far side, sleepy but reasonably dry.
Well, if we weren't sure we were in a magic land, we're sure now.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.