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  • in reply to: Roll a D6 #58424
    • Markshire PCs:

    Of course she plays! Why shouldn’t she? She probably is better at it than the guys she made the video with! And . . . the video probably was her idea!!

    Kelly Ann

    in reply to: Update: Skeletons #58357
    • Markshire PCs:

    Thanks so much guys!! And not just from me, but from anyone who wishes to explore in depth, the Trade Skill Opportunities Markshire has to offer. The ability to obtain a constant supply of knuckles really is the key to being able to do that. In my opinion, you’ve made an already great game even better. Catani visited the Foothold Crypt this morning and was pleasantly surprised. The skeletons she battled actually dropped knuckles!

    *Hands out gold stars to all who were involved*

    Kelly Ann 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: A Ghostly Whisp Floating in the Bazaar #58325
    • Markshire PCs:

    A parchment hangs in mid-air in exactly the same spot the globe of light appeared. It reads . . .
    We journeyed north of Cona
    Climbed mountains stark and gray,
    I stayed close behind him,
    Feeling sure I’d loose my way .

    Then through a cave of wind we went
    And out the other side.
    Creeping stealthily past a clearing,
    Where dire bears reside.

    We came upon a tower reaching high above the ground . . .
    And in it, flame that wasn’t . . .
    At last, a treasure found!!

    Oh joy! My wish was granted!
    Indeed the gods are kind!
    Pray often to them, children . . .
    Someday a trove you’ll find!

    Attached to the bottom of the parchment with what seems to be a golden thread, is a tiny silver ring set with two beautiful diamonds.

    The words, “For a little frog I met one day . . .”
    Have been added to the note.

    in reply to: KNUCKLE PROBLEM #58285
    • Markshire PCs:

    Does anyone know when the random merchants in Foothold and Market Square will sometimes be selling a few knuckles along with their other goods? I’ve been checking the random merchants every day in both places (and also at night) and no one seems to have them yet.

    Kelly Ann 🙂

    in reply to: KNUCKLE PROBLEM #58284
    • Markshire PCs:

    *Pumps her fist and shouts whoo, whoo, whoo!!*

    Thank you Mr. Jack! I’ll have Catani craft a really nice pinky ring for you! I’ll mount a huge star sapphire on it with diamond baguettes on each side! I’ll use white gold I think. White gold will look better against the blue of the sapphire. I’ll also ask Opie to engrave a few words on the inside of the band if you wish. Of course you’d have to give me the information for that. Not too many words, mind you! It’s only a pinky ring!!

    Kelly Ann 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: KNUCKLE PROBLEM #58279
    • Markshire PCs:

    What less-experienced players Opie? Are they hiding somewhere? That’s the point I was attempting to make. There aren’t any new players to ask. I’ve also tried the billboard and as I said in my post, that’s only a short term solution. You’ll get a few responses and a few knuckles. There has to be a better, more effective way to produce enchanting oil in quantities that are meaningful. It’s crucial to the craft and so important to other aspects of the game.

    How about putting an orc in a cave with a huge bag of knuckles? This orc is really a meanie. He’s very tough! Chances are he’ll be killing me long before I can lay my hands on that bag of knuckles. Well . . . I’ve died so many times I’m actually getting used to it! Garm and I often sit on a rock in Hel and share a cup of tea! He’s really not such a bad fellow. All of you out there must know fighting is not one of my best attributes. But . . . I’m willing to take my chances with that orc! At least it wouldn’t be impossible to obtain knuckles, just really difficult!

    Kelly Ann 🙂

    in reply to: PROPS!! #56969
    • Markshire PCs:

    Was fun chasing after Model 62B! Even though it needs a bit of work, I”d love to have one of those in a quick slot!! Too bad it exploded before we got a chance to test it on an orc.

    Kelly 🙂

    in reply to: The Tale of Catani Daller, The Lefthanded wizard . . . #58145
    • Markshire PCs:

    Luck was with her. Whatever spell she’d invoked that made her tiny and squeezed her inside the bottle had shattered along with the flask. Catani now stood before him, disheveled, but thankfully, as large as life.

    Fortunately, her familiar had gone but the dreadful stink from the cat remained. Nevin quickly wove a modified, more directional version of the ‘Gust of wind’ spell which wafted the odor and shards from the broken flask out the door.

    “Thank you uncle! She said, grinning at him, one hand fidgeting with her hair, the other attempting to smooth out the wrinkles in her robe. “I’ve been trapped in that bottle almost three hours! Now I’m behind on my chores! I need fresh eggs and must run to the market!” She paused for a moment eying the old man, than choosing her words carefully, she took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry uncle but we’ll have to cancel today’s lesson!”

    “Sit girl!” Nevin said, gesturing to one of the chairs surrounding the little table.
    “I’ve not come all this way to have you tell me you’ve no time for a lesson! The eggs can wait!”
    “But uncle, my robe is a mess! It must be washed and hung out to dry while there is still sun! It‘s already dropping low in the sky!”

    “SIT!!” he commanded, now using a much stronger voice.
    Her shoulders sagged; she looked away and mumbled something under her breath. Nevin couldn’t quite catch all the words she spoke but was sure from the two or three he managed to hear, the girl had uttered a curse.

    Catani spun around, reached for the one remaining chair at the table, forcefully yanked it out and plopped down hard, hands in her lap, fists tightly clenched. She glared across at him.

    Hmm, the girl is quite upset, he thought. He’d have to remember to pick up a pamphlet for her on Anger Management from the Stonemark Library. Bad enough she was a left-handed wizard, even worse if she became an angry left-handed one! Nevin righted the chair he’d tipped over a few moments before and sat down, facing the girl. He reached under his robe, pulled out a package and placed it on the table.

    “I’ve found another book for you Cat. Not that it matters, seeing as you’ve hardly touched the ones you already have.”

    She sat, impassive, still eying him, making no motion to unwrap the package. Nevin cleared his throat. “Well, ahem, I’m so glad you’ve responded in such a positive way to my gift! Here, let me open it for you lass!” He un-tied the parcel, picked up the book and read the title aloud.

    The Modern Wizard’s Official Dress Code, published and up-dated annually by the Markshire Mages Guild! And a wonderful source of knowledge it is, Cat. I know most of those who’ve compiled the information. You’ll find much in it that will be of great value to you. I hope you’ll thumb through it at least.

    They’ve added a chapter on the care and proper use of the wizard staff. I insist you read that chapter! I’ll quiz you on it at our next lesson! Some folks have told me they’ve seen you wandering around with a cross-bow! The old man sighed, rolled his eyes in frustration and shook his head. That will not do lass. You must always carry your staff when out and about!”

    “The staff is useless to me uncle” she said. “I’m more comfortable with the cross-bow, and every day my aim improves!”

    “Nonsense child!” he scolded her “The staff must be your weapon of choice if you expect to be accepted into the Mages guild. For sure they’ll turn you away if you’ve not learned to be proficient with your staff. You’ll be a mage without a guild! You’ll be known to all as an outsider, a wilder!”

    He shook his head. “In time the guild will search you out and it’s possible they’ll strip you of your powers! It’s a rare thing, but I’ve seen it done! And when they’re through with you, you’ll be a shell, useless to anyone. Useless to yourself! The only job left to you will be cleaning out stables! Is that your desire? You wish to be a stable maid?”

    “I killed a Cyclops with my cross-bow. “ She said, still glaring at him.
    “Oh dear child!” he exclaimed, placing his hands on the table and rising half way out of the chair. “Has it come to this? Now you invent falsehoods to placate me! You did NOT kill a Cyclops with a cross-bow! It would be impossible for you to accomplish that!”

    Catani rose from her chair, hands on her hips and stared defiantly across the table at him.
    “It is not a fib, uncle. As sure as I am standing here facing you, I downed a Cyclops with my cross-bow. It is the truth and I swear it!”
    “And where may I ask, did you achieve this feat?”
    “Just outside the east gate of Foothold.” She replied.
    “Than the guards saw . . . and of course Captain Hillar has a record of the encounter?” he asked.
    “Well, the guards were on a lunch break, uncle. So . . .” she shrugged. “There is no record of the battle. I was alone. Well the Cyclops was there also, but of course he’s dead now so he’ll not be able to authenticate my story. But I swear to you uncle, I felled the beast with a bolt to the heart. You can believe me, or not. I don’t really care.”

    Nevin sat back down and wrung his hands and sighed deeply. “Well, I can see no useful place this conversation will be bringing us to. Mayhap its best, as you suggested earlier, we cancel the lesson. It is getting late and with the forest not safe I’ll not want to be making the better part of my trip home after dark.

    But Catani, promise me you’ll thumb through at least a page or two of the tome I’ve brought you today.”
    “I will uncle. I promise.” As the old man stood and turned to leave she nodded a good bye to him. Nevin smiled in return.

    Nevin stopped his march toward the door. “Yes child?”
    “You may borrow it if you wish.” She said.
    “Borrow what child?”
    “The book you were reading.” She motioned to the Lurid Tales of the Duke and his Bluestockinged Mistress. It was still lying on the floor where Nevin had dropped it.
    “You see uncle, while I was trapped in the bottle I could hear you comment aloud from time to time if you read a passage that, well, a passage you thought interesting! It did not take me long to discover just which book it was you were um, so enthralled with!”

    She smiled sweetly at the old man. Nevin looked at her a moment, his mouth opened and he began to make a comment but could think of nothing to say. Instead, the old man turned and stalked out the door, slamming it behind him.

    “He’s such a darling old man!” she said, smiling to herself. “How on earth could I ever manage without him?”

    in reply to: The Tale of Catani Daller, The Lefthanded wizard . . . #58144
    • Markshire PCs:

    Nevin had read about half way through chapter two of The Lurid Tales of the Duke and his Bluestockinged Mistress, and was enjoying the story, when he paused, wrinkled his nose and sniffed the air.

    What in Odin’s name is that ghastly odor? That stink was not here when I came in. It smells like a zoo, he thought to himself. Worse even. More like a stable left unattended and not shoveled out for a whole summer!

    He glanced around the room again; looking for some scrap of food the girl might have left out. Perhaps it had spoiled and was now rotting away. He saw nothing. He suspiciously eyed the potion bottle he’d noticed when he first walked in.

    It was still sitting in the middle of the table. He hadn’t bothered to move it when he sat down to read because it wasn’t in his way. Maybe it’s some concoction she’s mixed, he thought? A potion she’s working on? What brew could she be blending that could possibly smell so bad?

    The old man shrugged and leaned forward in his chair so that his head was directly above the bottle and inhaled deeply. ARRRGH!! Nevin jumped back, the chair, tumbling out from under him, The Lurid Tales of the Duke and his Bluestockinged Mistress flying out of his hand and skittering across the floor.

    Odin’s apples! What an awful stench! He dabbed at his eyes which had begun to water profusely, with his old handkerchief.

    His first thought was to take the potion bottle outside and drain out whatever liquid was in it. Better yet, he’d bury the whole business, bottle and all!

    He approached the table and cautiously picked up the flask being careful to keep it at arms length and as far away from his nose as possible. He shook the bottle slightly. He hoped it wouldn’t explode.
    “Please stop that!”
    Nevin froze, his hand tightly gripping the neck of the bottle. What little hair he had left atop his head was now standing straight up. His eyes began darting about the room attempting to locate the source of the tiny voice he’d just heard. “And just what is it do you wish me to stop?” he asked tentatively, not yet quite sure what apparition he might be having this conversation with.
    “The bottle. Please stop shaking it!” the tiny voice said.
    “Ah, I see. And now please do tell me why should I stop?” he asked, while carefully examining the flask. He could see nothing unusual about it. He peeked inside, taking care to hold his breath while looked.
    “When you shake the bottle I bounce around and it’s hurting me!” the tiny voice replied.
    The old man smiled and nodded to himself. Nevin was a wise old wizard who had seen many oddities in his travels. There was no puzzle he could not solve, no riddle he could not reason out. And now I have it, he thought to himself!
    “Cat? Is it you in the bottle?” he asked.
    “Yes uncle, it’s me in the bottle.” the girl replied.
    “And how did you manage that trick?” he asked.
    “I tried to cast a healing spell into it. I must have made a hand gesture wrong and I wound up in here instead of the healing spell.”
    “Ahh, your lefthandedness again?”
    “Yes, my lefthandedness.”
    “And the odor? Where is that coming from?” the old man asked.
    “Kitty’s in here with me. And . . . she made a mess.”
    “Your familiar? Why don’t you un-summon it girl?”
    “I tried. The spell fizzled and she snapped at me!”
    Nevin sighed. “There is no magic I can think of that will get you out of there. The only way I know of would be for me to break the flask.”
    “Please do it uncle. And be quick about it! If you think the stench is bad out there, it’s tenfold worse in here!”
    “Hold fast to something girl!”
    The old wizard mouthed a small wordless prayer to Thor than gave the potion bottle a sharp rap against the side of the table . . .

    in reply to: The Tale of Catani Daller, The Lefthanded wizard . . . #58143
    • Markshire PCs:

    Nevin glanced quickly around the room. To his supprise it looked rather well kept. The floor was swept and free of dust. Dishes and utensils were sparkly clean and neatly stowed or hung on their respective shelves and pegs.

    He ran his finger across the top of the little wooden table where she took her meals. It was crumb and clutter free except for an unmarked potion bottle sitting in the middle of it. It was obvious the girl had wiped away all stains and spills, mayhap even applying a bit of polish to the oak.

    Nevin shrugged. Perhaps there’s some hope for the lass. Mayhap I’ve been pushing her too hard. After all, re-thatching the roof is a job for a man. Hanging shutters also. It’d be unfair to get after her about it. I’ll post a note on the board in Foothold. Surely I’ll find someone who’s anxious for a bit of work. But I will have a talk with her about the state of that garden! That’s entirely her responsibility!

    He called out to her. “Cat? Catani? I’ve come to review your studies! Where are you girl? We’ve not much time. The sun’s already past its zenith!”

    There was no answer. The old man sighed. She’d probably run off on an errand, he thought. She’d be back shortly. He was sure of that. The girl never missed a lesson, he’d give her that much.

    He ambled over to a bookcase she’d placed against the wall adjacent to her table. Even though the room was well lit the old man had to squint as he began checking the titles of the works she’d collected over the last few months of study.

    I’m getting too old for this business, he thought to himself. Years of reading had worn out his eyes. Years of teaching had worn thin his patience and years of trudging around in the godforsaken wilderness had taken its toll on whatever else was left of him. He shook his head. I’ve nothing more to give, he muttered to himself. She’ll be the last one I teach. I’ll pay a visit to the Mages Guild in Stonemark first thing tomorrow and turn in my retirement papers.

    He started on the first shelf. Hmm, now let me see. Spell Crafting Made Easy by Vana Doolendoffer, and then, The Complete Unabridged Guide to the Art of Making Magic. The author none other than Dame Jana Olsen herself! Exalted Wizard and High Priestess of the Stonemark Mages Guild. Oh! I know this book well, the old man exclaimed. A fine tome it is! I’ve memorized most of the passages over the years. He noticed the spine was not cracked. A cracked and worn spine meant a book had been read or at least opened now and then. It was obvious the girl had not touched it.

    He shook his head in frustration and moved along the shelf. The next book in line was titled Scribing 101. Author anonymous. It stood next to Three E-Z Steps to Becoming a Powerful Wizard. That one published by the Lumpkin Mail Order Learning Center. He’d never heard of them. It in turn, was resting against another book titled Magic for Dummies. The old man rolled his eyes, shook his head and moved on to the last book on the shelf. It was the first one he’d come across that looked as though someone had actually been reading it. The cover was so badly worn the print on it was no longer legible. Nevin removed it from its place on the shelf, carefully cracked it open and leafed to the title page.

    It read, The Lurid Tales of the Duke and his Bluestockinged Mistress. Nevin gasped and his heart skipped a beat or two. The poor man almost dropped the book on the floor. Bluestockinged mis . . . what? He turned a page and read a few lines. Oh! Oh my, he thought. This is scandalous! And indecent! Lewd and bawdy too! This is why the girl is slow to learn, he mused. She chooses this drivel to read rather than her text books. Well, we’ll see about this.

    Nevin began to return the book to its place of rest upon the shelf but paused and thought about it for a long moment. Instead, with a quick motion he made the book disappear beneath his robe. He made his way over to the tiny table Catani used for her meals and sat down. The old man was prepared to wait forever if necessary, for this pariah of a child who had a preference for trashy novels rather than textbooks, to return.

    There’s no use in sitting here twiddling my thumbs, he thought to himself. He took another look around the room. Satisfied the girl wasn’t hiding in some corner peeking out at him he retrieved The Lurid Tales of the Duke and his Bluestockinged Mistress from under his robe. He glanced quickly at the preface and scanned the acknowledgements, wondering whether he’d see a name or two he might recognize, and started in on the first chapter.

    in reply to: Before the soup, the ingredients #58119
    • Markshire PCs:

    Oh my! I could come any time!


    in reply to: Server Rebirth #58000
    • Markshire PCs:

    Last night my Molly was gone and my Loli had lost some levels. Today I went on and Molly was back and everything is perfect again! So . . . I guess you did something and now it all seems ok to me Mr. Jack. And thank you for getting everything fixed!

    Kelly 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: Server Rebirth #57975
    • Markshire PCs:

    Holy cow!!!

    Our game is back . . .
    Thank Mister Jack,
    For all the work he’s done!
    We’ll laugh and play the night away . . .
    And greet the morning sun!


    🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: There’s only one thing to do: #57794
    • Markshire PCs:

    What about a pony? A tiny one? They’re much smaller than horses!

    Kelly 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: There’s only one thing to do: #57792
    • Markshire PCs:

    Holy cow Opie!

    Fire and brimstone and demons, oh my!
    If by some chance one should catch me, I’ll die!!

    Ok, ok! No horses! Walking is healthier for a person anyway.

    Kelly 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: There’s only one thing to do: #57790
    • Markshire PCs:

    I knew you were just teasing everyone. Your character ‘Dougal Fahrnshell’ is one of the funniest characters in the game! And if ‘Aels’ could catch him the first thing she’d do would be to replace the bloody bandage ’round his head, prepare a good meal for him, and give him a big hug!

    It was fun for me learning all the new words!

    Hoping to see you in the game when Mr. Jack gets it fixed!

    And . . . fingers crossed for horses!!

    Kelly 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: There’s only one thing to do: #57788
    • Markshire PCs:

    And thank you too, Mr. Jack for being kind and thoughtful enough to complete the explanation of the rest of the ‘words’ Lt. Tyler used in his post!

    I would never try to pwn a ‘n00b’. I always try to help them when I see them! And I’ve never met anyone while playing this game who thinks of themselves as ‘L33ts’. And if I happen to see any ‘d rowpires’ running around in Markshire after you’ve fixed it, I’ll report them immediately!

    Did I say it right?

    And . . . horses to ride would really be so fun!!

    Kelly 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: There’s only one thing to do: #57784
    • Markshire PCs:

    Thank you Opie! It was nice of you to explain all of it to me.

    Kelly 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: There’s only one thing to do: #57780
    • Markshire PCs:

    What are ‘d rowpires’ and what does ‘pwn some n00b cus im l33t’
    mean please?


    in reply to: There’s only one thing to do: #57775
    • Markshire PCs:

    I miss it too . . . but dancing is soooo fun!!

    Kelly 🙂 🙂 🙂

    in reply to: Dragon Age: Origins #57550
    • Markshire PCs:

    In the camp in Dragon Age, there’s a boy who’s standing next to his dad, the merchant, who’ll enchant your melee weapons for you if you’ve found a tome he’s able to use. That’s how he responds if you click on him! “Enchantment? . . . ENCHANTMENT!!!”
    It’s so funny!

    I thought everyone knew about him.

    Kelly 🙂

    in reply to: Dragon Age: Origins #57548
    • Markshire PCs:

    Enchantment? . . . . . . . . . En . . .chant . . .ment!

    He’s soooooo funny!


    in reply to: NEED HELP PLEASE #57714
    • Markshire PCs:

    *Shrugs* I think the memory is leaking again or something. The game was ok for a few days after you fixed it, but now it won’t let me in. The same thing happens as before. I get as far as the “Loading area” part, a long time passes, than it tells me I have timed out and when I try again, it tells me the server is off line.

    I know you’re always very busy and if you decide not to fix it I’ll understand. I’m probably the only one who plays it now so . . . it might not be worth the effort just for one or two players, Mr. Jack.

    Kelly Ann 😕

    in reply to: NEED HELP PLEASE #57712
    • Markshire PCs:

    Thank you Mr. Jack. The game works ok now!
    Hoping the leaky memory did not make a mess out of your rug!!

    Kelly Ann 😀 😀 😀

    in reply to: Markshire – Turbocharged! #57624
    • Markshire PCs:

    I agree with Shanara. I bought MS2 thinking it might somehow be more fun than MS1, but did not enjoy it at all. I never finished it. The map always gets in the way, going from one area to another takes forever and the characters you create, all look like they’re on steroids or something. I also could never get comfortable or feel at ease with the controls that move the character around. It’s much easier and more fun to do that in MS1.

    If, as Monty says, you have new things you’ve created for MS2 which are adaptable for MS1, I’m hoping you’ll decide to put them in. If you did, everyone would come back. I’m sure of it.

    Things you could do to make MS1 more enjoyable:
    1. Raise the max. Level up to 30. (For all of the characters who are already maxed out.)

    2.Put in some new areas we can explore.

    3.Make the Spider temple a little easier . . . so we won’t be afarid go there.

    4.Maybe open another shop in Stonemark that sells dresses and gowns? (Optional, of course!)

    But no matter what you do or change . . . the game will be nothing without the DMs. They must come back too. They are what really make it such a fun place to be.

    Kelly Ann

    in reply to: Keli… short for Keli #56279
    • Markshire PCs:

    We ain’t walked more than ten paces, when we came across a big, gapin’ hole in the road what I ain’t noticed the last time we journeyed through this part o’ the pass. I figured it must be Thrym’s doin’. Yup! Mean and grouchy as a badger, that Thrym! Always lookin’ to make things thorny fer anybody what’s trapsin’ through his damn pass!

    Ain’t nobody asked me, but I’m thinkin’ the world would be a much happier place and Thrym would be havin’ a lot better temperament, if him and Thor had sat down and worked things out a little better ages ago, when he run off with Thor’s hammer. What Thrym really wanted to be runnin’ off with was one o’ Thor’s wives!

    I’m sure everyone remembers that tale! You know, the one where the god o’ all the giants, Thrym was wantin’ the beautiful goddess Freyja for his own, but she already was wedded to Thor, and accordin’ to the official story, the one they puts out for public con . . .consum . . . uh, the one what regular folks is supposed to read, Frejya had a happy marriage and ain’t wanted nothin’ at all to do with Thrym!

    Thrym clipped Thor’s hammer, thinkin’ he would be able to trade it back to him, even up fer Freyja, but Thor told him, no dice, and in the end, Thrym and Loki wound up havin’ to make a trip to Thrym’s castle wearin’ disguises, killin’ all the giants in the castle, and takin’ the damn hammer back by force!

    That was kind of an abridged version o’ the story, you know? And the only part o’ it what’s accu . . . uh, really true is the part where Thrym pinched Thor’s hammer, and Thor, along with Loki, wore disguises! The rest is pure malarkey! Thor ain’t never went nowhere near Thrym’s castle, and Freyja . . well I got the real story straight outta me grand ma’s mouth! And she ain’t never told a fib ‘bout nothin!

    You see, what really happened is that Thrym did have a thing fer Freyja, a beautiful goddess who by sheer chance, like I told ya, happened to be married to Thor! But even though she already had a husband, she ain’t liked him much cause he ain’t paid no attention to her whatsoever!

    Thrym was her true love! Oh, she had eyes fer him, she did, and they was involved in a rom . . .uh, a roman . . . uh, they was seein’ each other on the side!

    Anyways, one day as Thor was strollin’ through his lovely garden behind the castle what he kept full o’ pretty flowers in a rainbow o’ different colors, along with assorted shrubbery, he caught the two o’ ‘em . . . uh, well, let’s say Thrym and Freyja wasn’t just sittin’ there under the apple tree havin’ a nice chat ‘bout the weather!

    Thor became enraged and began stompin’ on all the beautiful flowers he’d planted, even tearin’ up the shrubbery and pullin’ down all the green ivy what was growin’ so nicely up the walls o’ the castle! Oh geez! He was in an awful snit! After wreckin’ his garden, Thor demanded Thrym leave the grounds immediately and told him never to come back no more! Ever!

    Then Thor went and socked poor Freyja in the eye; the bruise and the swellin’ lastin’ fer well over a month!

    As he was makin’ his way outta Thor’s castle, Thrym spotted Thor’s favorite hammer sittin’ over a mantle in the main hall, balanced atop two large wooden pegs what Thor had driven into the mortar between the stones.

    And that hammer had some magic wove into it! Thor was able to toss it at an enemy, bonkin’ him on the head, then that hammer’d snap right back into his hand again, allowin’ him to throw it quick at somethin’ else! Thor even had a name fer the damn thing! He called it ‘Mjolnir’!

    Well, when Thrym seen that special hammer what belonged to Thor, he reached up, plucked it off the pegs and hid it away, under his cloak, then ran like hel outta the place! And let me tell you . . . gods can run really fast!!

    Thrym knew how much Thor liked that hammer and he figured if he held onto it long enough, Thor would be dearly missin’ it and he might be able to bargin with Thor ‘bout tradin’ the damn hammer back to him for Frejya! Well . . . Thor wasn’t havin’ none o’ that, but he really liked that hammer a lot and wanted it back. So he sat down with Loki, another powerful god who was a very good friend o’ his, and the two o’ ‘em began plottin’ and scheming’ ‘bout how they’d be able to get back the hammer.

    O’course Thor also wanted to keep Freyja as his wife, ‘cause she was a really good cook . . . even though he ain’t ever loved her one little bit!

    What Thor and Loki done was plan a wedding. Well, actually, t’was the god Heimdall who came up with the idea and he done most o’ the plannin’. Ya see, Thor and Loki wasn’t exactly the two brightest candles in the candelabra, you know? ‘Course the whole thing was a sham. Thor was gonna dress himself up to look like Freyja—which was kinda hard to do—bein’ he was ‘bout three times her size, and Loki would disguise himself too, and would masquerade as Thor’s bridesmaid!

    Then Thor sent a messenger off to Thrym carryin’ a note, along with an invitation. The invite was all fancy with swirly writin’ all done in a neat hand by a calli . . . calligra . . . . uh, some monk what was kidnapped from one o’ the islands far to the south o’ here, who was good at drawin’ letters.

    In the note Thor told Thrym he really missed that hammer and wanted it back so badly he’d decided to settle their differences and he’d agree to swap’ Freyja fer it. Not only that, but he’d arranged a big weddin’ cer . . .cerem . . . ceremo . . . uh, party for the two o’ ‘em so they could be married proper like! The weddin’ was to take place in three days!

    Well, when Thrym read the message his heart began poundin’ and he jumped fer joy knowin’ soon he’d be spendin’ the rest o’ his days with the woman he truly loved! He then began layin’ out his fanciest clothes, preparin’ for the big event, all the while, whistlin’ a happy tune to himself!

    ‘Course all this time no one thought to ask Freyja how she was feelin’ ‘bout the whole thing. Nope! Thor had Freyja locked tight in a little room at the very top o’ his castle! The cell had only one tiny window, and it was placed so high up on the wall, she wasn’t able to see out o’ it!

    She had a heavy iron chain danglin’ from a collar ‘round her neck what was bolted fast to one o’ the stone walls and an even heavier iron belt what was sealed with a big padlock, encirclin’ another part o’ her body! She ain’t had the slightest idea ‘bout the scheme what Thor and Loki was cookin’ up to get back his damn hammer!

    Nope! Nobody told her a thing! She couldn’t even get no information outta the fella what shoved a bit o’ food under the door every mornin’ keepin’ her from starvin’ to death! Poor Freyja spent her days in sadness, sheddin’ tear after tear, pining away, thinkin’ only ‘bout Thrym, about how much she loved him, and wonderin’ if she’d ever see him again.

    Anyways, the big day finally came and that mornin’ Thrym jauntily strode up to Thor’s castle, sportin’ his best finery and even wearin’ a new pair o’ boots! His heart was full o’ joy and happiness, his right arm wrapped tight ‘round ‘bout elevendy dozen long stemmed roses, for his betrothed, and swingin’ Thor’s hammer in his left hand.

    But Thor’s footmen was told not to let him into the great hall right away. Before he could enter the hall, each footman, in turn, was instructed to make a toast to the new groom to be, with a special brewed ale what Thor had brought up from the cellars deep under the castle for the celebration!

    O’ course Thor knew Thrym was never one to pass up drinkin’ a special brewed ale. Well . . . Thor had a whole bunch o’ footmen . . . scads o’ footmen in fact! By the time everyone had finished their toastin’ ‘bout four hours had passed. Thrym’s legs was now kinda wobbly from all that drinkin’ and he wasn’t seein’ so good either. T’was then, the footman led him into the great hall where the weddin’ was to take place.

    Thrym took a seat right next to his bride to be, who o’course was really Thor, made up to look like his beloved Freyja. Poor Thrym was so drunk he ain’t knowed the difference, but did get a little suspicious after watchin’ her go about eatin’ a whole ox all by herself! Loki, playin’ the part o’ Freyja’s bridesmaid, explained to Thrym, all the excitement o’ the day had gotten to her and given her a ravenous appetite!

    Thrym kept askin’ where the hel Thor was . . . wantin’ to thank him for agreein’ to part with his lovely wife. The bridesmaid, who was really Loki, told Thrym that Thor would be along shortly, to claim his hammer and wish them well.

    Loki commented ‘bout the hammer bein’ heavy and surely Thrym was tired o’ luggin’ the damn thing around all day. Loki gestured to a small table with nothin’ on it, sittin’ just behind the bride-to-be — who was really Thor—and said, “Lay it on that table over there, why don’t you!” Sure enough, Thrym got up and plunked the hammer what he stole from Thor, down on that little table!

    Well . . . soon as he done that, quick as a wink, Thor threw off his disguises, grabbed his hammer off o’ that table and began wavin’ it all about, a triumphant look on his face! Than Thor, Loki and a bunch o’ their lackeys ganged up on Thrym, throwin’ him outta the castle for a second time, and banishin’ him forever from it!!

    Now it’s truly a sad thing, but as far as I know, Thrym and Freyja ain’t never seen each other again. That’s why Thrym’s always in such a snit and full o’ meanness I’m thinkin’. In a way I don’t blame him fer bein’ like that, you know?

    I guess Thor was happy as a lark bein’ he got his hammer back and got to keep his wife, but he ain’t never planted nothin’ else in that garden o’ his, what he destroyed. Nope! To this day that land behind the castle still lies fallow and he don’t even go back there no more.

    As far as Freyja . . . well Thor couldn’t’ keep her locked up in that tower forever. I mean, after all, she was a goddess and had considerable power o’ her own. I heard she still cooks fer him though. I also heard she tried to kill Thor by sprinklin’ poison in his meals ‘bout five or mayhap nine times over the years. But . . . everyone knows you ain’t able to kill a god as powerful as Thor with poison!

    Some folks tell me that each time she done it, she did manage to make him dreadfully sick! And those who know, says Thor eats out a lot!

    And there it is! The true story about Thor, Thrym, Freyja, Loki and the damn hammer! Straight off o’ me grand ma’s lips and onto this piece o’ parchment!

    Now where the hel was I? Oh! I know! The hole in the pass! Well . . . anyways, Jon ain’t seen the hole straight off, and woulda tumbled down into it ‘cept Ithoz made a quick grab fer his cloak and yanked him back, away from the edge. Ya know, aside from havin’ a brain ‘bout the size o’ a peanut I’m thinkin’ Jon’s got bad eyes too. I thinks he has that eye ailment they calls guacamole, or somethin’ like that.

    in reply to: Keli… short for Keli #56278
    • Markshire PCs:

    I could think o’ a whole bunch of other things I’d rather be doin’ than trackin’down a dragon in Thrym’s pass but the creature was headin’ towards Foothold and Odin only knew what havoc that beast would be causin’ if he managed to get past Sir Aeton and his gate guards! We had to stop him! I knew most o’ those town folk by name and cared ‘bout their safety! Good upstandin’ people, all o’ them! Fer sure I ain’t wanted no damn dragon carousin’ ‘round inside their gates and causin’ all sorts o’ mayhem!

    I mean . . . there was children in that town! For sure they was snuggled away all warm and cozy in their beds, with heavy horse hair blankets pulled up to their chins, asleep and dreamin’ o’ sugar plumbs and hard candy! Old folks too! back from a day o’ shoppin’, now goin’ ‘bout boltin’ doors and latchin’ up their shutters to keep out the cold Markshire night! Hangin’ their stockin’s what was all wet and soggy from the puddles they’d stepped into, by the chimney, takin’ care not to get ‘em too close to the fire!
    Most folks changin’ into their woolens, puttin’ on their kerchiefs and caps and settlin’ down to enjoy a cold winter night and mayhap some quiet time before turnin’ in! Some even lightin’ a candle and settin’ it on a little wobbly’ wooden stand with only three legs, what they’d placed alongside their favorite chair and curlin’ up, their feet tucked underneath them, ready to crack open a good book!

    Oh geez, even the odd mouse or two, aware o’ the darkness and bitter cold gradually settlin’ over the town, skitterin’ about, searchin’ fer a bit o’ straw what they’d be able to crawl under to keep warm so they’d not be frozen solid come the mornin’!

    As I trudged along behind Iathoz, I thought ‘bout all that and decided we was doin’ right by followin’ those dragon tracks.

    Besides, I enjoy a nice walk, you know? I don’t mind walkin’ at all! I’m used to it I guess. It seems we’re always walkin’ to someplace in this land. Or runnin’ for dear life . . . when somethin’s chasin’ after you doin’ it’s best at tryin’ lop off your head or take a bite outta your leg! Yup! Walkin’ll keep ya healthy as a horse! It gets your heart pumpin’ and your blood cir . . . circu . . . uh, flowin’ ‘round in yer veins! My grandpa started walkin’ five miles a day when he turned seventy! It was about eight years ago we last saw him. Far as I know, grandpa’s still walkin’ but I ain’t too sure o’ that . . . ‘cause nobody seems to know where the hel the old geezer walked off to!

    We slogged on towards the little town, Iathoz out in front and Jon not lettin’ up for an instant, constantly pesterin’ me ‘bout the cache o’ food I’d hidden under my cloak. Men is like that you know? They’s always pesterin’ you ‘bout some damn thing they’s wantin’. And they don’t give up till they get what ever it is they’s pesterin’ you about! If you finally give in and let ‘em have what they’s after, you might get a little thank you and mayhap a bit o’ sweetness from ‘em, but oh geez, if you run into them the next day, you’ll be lucky if they tip their hat to you as your passin’ by!

    Finally I relented, offerin’ Jon the baked apple with the sugary syrup what I’d pinched from Gromk’s stand in Bal’ynez, figgurin’ he’d stop aggravatin’ me. The little twerp looked at it for a moment, then handed it back, tellin’ me he ain’t liked baked apples too much and might I have somethin’ else he’d enjoy munchin’ on? Oh geez! I hurled the damn apple at him hard as I could! It smacked into his breast plate with a splat, and there it stuck, ‘cause it was all soft and gooey, some of it even runnin’ down his leg, eventually makin’ its way inside one o’ his boots. After that, he ain’t pestered me no more ‘bout food or any thing else for the rest o’ the night!

    A bit farther into the pass, we found a man lyin’ in the road and a load more o’ dragon tracks. Actually, Ithoz stumbled over him; bein’ the wind and sleet what was swirlin’ ‘round the three o’ us was makin it difficult to see more than a few feet in any direction. The man was clutchin’ tight to a short length o’ bridle strap with his left hand. The poor soul was beyond savin’ and already makin’ his peace with Odin. It looked as though somethin’ had been feedin’ on the corpse ‘cause his face was chewed away, along with most o’ his right arm. The lower part o’ him was blackened and scorched, with smoke still spiralin’ off o’ him. His clothes was gone; burned right off his body, and his flesh half cooked. It looked as though someone had skewered the fellow and turned him slowly over a huge fire pit! He smelled somethin’ like a roast chicken. But it was no fire pit what done this to him. This was the work o’ a dragon!

    Not more than fifty paces beyond the corpse we come across the man’s wagon. It was wrecked and had overturned. We ain’t seen no oxen, I supposed they’d run off somewhere, bein’ free o’ the bridle. The crates he’d been haulin’ were smashed, with the contents strewn all about, makin’ an awful mess. It was hard to walk about without steppin’ on a shard from a shattered dish or clay pot, or gettin’ your feet all tangled up in a ball o’ wool or a bolt o’ cloth what had become unraveled in the crash. The man must o’ been on his way to the dwarf city with supplies, when he was set upon. The front axle had broken off the wagon and lay twisted and bent, off to the side o’ the road with one wheel still attached. Most likely when the driver had come under attack, he started drivin’ his oxen hard, doin’ his best to get away. One o’ the wheels must have caught a rut, breakin’ the axle, and flippin’ over the wagon. I hoped the fall had killed the man and he was layin’ there dead as dust before the dragon got to him.

    While me and Jon was pickin’ through the wreckage, Ithoz had wandered off and was carefully studyin’ the tracks the dragon’d left. We stopped our plunderin’ and ambled over to him. “Look here! . . . and here too!” he said, as we approached. The ranger moved a step or two to his left, and pointed to the road. “By the Gods, there’s more than one of them!” he whispered, half to himself, but loud enough for me and Jon to hear. The ranger was right. The dragon tracks was all different sizes, indicatin’ there was more than one we’d be havin’ to deal with. Mayhap three or even seven! Oh geez! Well, there was nothin’ we could do ‘bout that, or the wagon driver . . . and no more we could learn by hangin’ ‘round this spot, so we turned east and continued to push on towards the town. We’d gained ground on the monster and his cohorts. He couldn’t be more than a few minutes ahead o’ us.

    But . . . why did I have this feelin’ the damn thing somehow knew we was chasin’ him and had stopped his march toward Foothold? Why did I sense the beast was now layin’ in wait fer us somewhere up ahead, ready to ambush the four o’ us as soon as he felt we’d got close enough to him? I dug into my pack and fished out a little whet stone what I keeps fer emergencies. I spit a gob o’ tobacco juice on it, smearin’ it around the face o’ the stone with my finger. Than I run the stone along the workin’ end o’ my falchion a few times, straightening out the few dings I’d got in it while whackin’ away at the Frost giant.

    I knew in my heart, that very shortly I’d be whackin’ away on somethin’ else . . .

    in reply to: applying the electric paddles… #57483
    • Markshire PCs:


    in reply to: Keli… short for Keli #56277
    • Markshire PCs:

    We stood outside, glad to be out o’ that fusty air inside the cave. Me and Iathouz had to wait a few minutes while Jon set about patchin’ up a hole in the side o’ his boot. Shortly before, while we was makin’ our way through the cave, a whole army o’ rats attacked us and one o’ them chewed a hole right through Jon’s boot and gnawed off two o’ his toes!

    The four o’ us made quick work o’ the rats, than we stumbled across a body. It was a man and from the looks o’ him, he’d been attacked by them rats too . . . but I guess he ain’t done so well tryin’ to fend ‘em off ‘cause there wasn’t much left o’ his carcass.

    I searched the corpse, takin’ care not wantin’ to get no blood or gore on me, hopin’ to find a few pieces o’ gol . . . uh, er . . . I mean lookin’ for papers what would tell us who he was, you know? Least ways then we’d be able to do a kindness and notify his kin the poor soul’d been ripped to shreds by rats and his body was lyin’ here in the cave, alone, dead as dirt and already beginnin’ to stink.

    His relatives could come out here with a wheel barrow and a shovel; scoop up his remains and cart what was left o’ the lad off someplace to give him a proper burial! But . . . I ain’t found no papers or nothin’ else o’ any value on him, if you get my meanin’. So we let him be, sittin’ there peaceful like, in a pool o’ his own blood, thinkin’ the guards what patrols the cave would find him soon enough and go about cleanin’ up the mess themselves.

    Jon finished up his patchin’ smilin’ all the while, tellin’ us he wouldn’t be missin’ those toes at all! He said he had seven toes on that foot anyways, and losin’ the extra two would give him better balance when swingin’ a weapon and make walkin’ a whole lot easier! He’d not have to be payin’ a fortune fer custom made boots no more, the left boot always havin’ to be a bit larger to make room fer those two extra toes! I ain’t lyin’! That’s what he told us!

    We set off on the road goin’ east in the direction o’ Foothold with Iathoz takin’ the lead, wanderin’ out a good ways ahead o’ us, bein’ he’s a ranger and good at scoutin’ and able to tell if the way is safe fer travel. I ain’t sure, but I think his folks sent him off to the same school where those “Elite Goblins gets their trainin’. But like I said, I ain’t certain o’ that.

    Anyways, it wasn’t too long before Iathouz rounded a bend in the road up ahead and me and Jon lost sight o’ him. Now, if you happen to be amblin’ along in Thrym’s pass, it ain’t such a good idea to loose sight o’ any o’ your friends what you might be amblin’ along with! Navigatin’ Thrym’s pass safely, requires a group effort and loosin’ sight o’ Iathouz was makin’ me and Jon more than a bit uneasy.

    We quickened our pace, attemptin’ to catch up to him. We was still a good ways from the bend in the road when we heard two loud thuds . . . and Iathouz let out a piercing scream! The two o’ us broke into a run, headin’ fast as we could toward the bend in the road where we’d lost sight o’ him, and oh geez! What a horror we seen when me and Jon finally got there!

    Poor Iathouz was stretched out flat on the trail, torn, bloody and moanin’ in agony! A colossal frost giant had waylaid the man and now stood towerin’ over him! The giant had one foot on the ranger’s head and was pushin’ down hard with his boot, grindin’ the man’s face into the icy road what lay below him! The damn giant was doin’ his best to pop the ranger’s skull as if it were a melon and squoosh the life outta the man!

    Iathouz was gaspin’ gurglin’and spittin’ out blood and chunks o’ice from the road what had worked their way into his mouth! He was flailin’ ‘round, arms and legs goin’ every which way, attemptin’ to wiggle out from under the Frost giant’s boot! But at least he was still alive . . . at least that was somethin’.

    Yup, the ranger was hangin’ tight onto a little spark o’ life what was still left in him! Mayhap there was still time to save him! Jon, his short sword poised and ready to strike, quickly darted to the left o’ the monster and I dashed to the right. The giant caught sight o’ the both of us and for a second he froze, befuddled, not knowin’ which one o’ us to set out after!

    In his confusion, he lifted his foot off o’ the ranger’s head. His pausin’ give the both o’ us just enough time to close in quick on him and probably saved Iathouz’s life.

    Straight off, Jon began stabbin’ and slashin’ away at the giant’s left leg, leavin’ it with blood spurtin’ outta at least six different places! I judged the distance me and my falchion’d have to travel, shut my eyes tight — what I always does when I’m gettin’ set to whack somethin’ — and grippin’ the hilt o’ my weapon with both hands I lunged forward swingin’ with all my strength, aimin’ for the damn thing’s right limb and a spot just below where I thought its knee cap ought to be! Thruuuunk!! My falchion smashed into his leg with tremendous force, its keen edge slicin’ through armor, sinew and mayhap carvin’ a good sized chunk o’ bone outta his tibia!

    The shock o’ the blow traveled up my arms and through my neck, jarrin’ my brains and rattlin my teeth.

    He bellowed in anger and pain, the echo of it bouncin’ off the canyon walls and causin’ our ears to ring! Our quick action had hobbled the monster and we’d managed to draw him away from poor Iathouz, however he still was very dangerous! To prove the point, he lumbered at us in a terrible rage, whippin’ his hammer high above his head, his mind dead set on brainin’ the both o’ us!

    Even though we’d crippled him it took a while fer the two o’ us to finish off the creature. Eventually, after what seemed like an hour battlin’ the brute, we toppled him. He fell like a tree, with a whhhump, mortally wounded, his body sprawlin’ crossways in the road.

    Jon, finished him off by openin’ up his neck with his skinnin’ knife, finally sendin’ him off to Garm. We swiftly made our way over to the fallen ranger and found him sittin’ up, already dressin’ his wounds! I’ll tell ya, them rangers is able to recover fast from somethin’!

    We helped him along with some healin’ kits and I give him a few o’ my toasted almonds and a bit o’ the sweet sausage I’d plucked off o’ Gromks skillet. Iathoz gobbled up the bit o’ food and nodded his thanks. Me and Jon helped the ranger to his feet, each o’ us grabbin’ tight on to his arms, attemptin’ steady him but the ranger shook us off, insistin’ he felt fine.

    Iathoz beckoned us to follow him and the four o’ us sauntered off to a spot a bit farther down the path where the snow was still untouched, not disturbed from the battle we’d just fought. Then Iathoz halted and pointed to some depressions in the snow what lay at his feet.

    Me and Jon edged closer, peerin’ down to have a look. Ohh geez! Dragon tracks!! Huge ones! Fresh ones! We could tell ‘cause they was still sharp and crisp. The sun ain’t had a chance to melt ‘em down and smooth out the edges! Even worse, them tracks was headin’ east!

    The damn thing was not more than ten minutes ahead o’ us and on its way to Foothold! The four o’ us looked at each other and then out along the road goin’ east. I glanced back at the way we’d come, toward the dwarf city, and safety, thinkin’ ‘bout the fun we’d had shoppin’ in the bazaar what commander Zawa allows the merchants to keep open all night.

    I shrugged. Ah, what the hel . . . It ain’t often one gets the chance to get fried to a crisp by a dragon what’s runnin’ loose in Thrym’s pass! Iathoz’d already set off, makin’ his way east and lookin’ for more tracks. I fell in behind the ranger, with Jon followin’ up the rear.

    Jon had noticed me feedin’ the almonds and bit o’ sweet sausage to the ranger and he began goin’ on and on ‘bout how he was, “starvin’ Miss Keli” . . . and how I ought to “share with everyone Miss Keli ” . . .! While he was trudgin’ along behind me, he kept liftin’ up the back o’ me cloak with his short sword, hopin’ to get a look at where the hel I’d managed to stash all o’ my food!

    I’ll tell ya! That boy’s a couple o’ dishes short o’ a complete set and the ones he’s got left is all chipped and cracked!!

    in reply to: Keli… short for Keli #56276
    • Markshire PCs:

    Now I’m gonna get to writtin’ ‘bout the dragon Jon and Iathouz and me run into a few nights ago in thrym’s pass.

    Even though Bal’ynez is boarded by snow covered cliffs to the north, west and south, and the freezin’ Timeless Desert to the east, the dwarven wizards has managed to weave a powerful magic ‘round their fine city protectin’ it from the chillin’ cold just outside its walls. Yup! Those wizards worked it out so it’s always kinda warm and comfortable here! Sometimes quite humid too!

    Because the climate in the city is so pleasant, commander Zawa, who controls the city’s militia, went about settin’ aside a section in the center where he allows the local venders to do their tradin’. And it’s right outside in the open air! It’s called the “Merchant Bazaar” and the first thing me and the boys done after gettin’ inside the gates was to head over there.

    Here each o’ the dealers has set up temporary booths, crafted from what looks to me like red oak. The trees is probably felled somewhere in the Narlynwik forest and I guess the logs is hauled out to the city by wagon, but I ain’t too sure o’ that. The kiosks ain’t fancy, the shelves and counter tops is rough hewn and hastily hammered together, but they’s built sturdy and enable the hawkers to properly display their wares.

    The bazaar’s a noisy place. There’s always an ox cart or three, piled high with all sorts o’goods and it’s clippity cloppin’ along, the driver weedlin’his way from one kiosk to the next, replenishing each merchant’s goods.

    It’s always bustlin’ with people too. They’s wanderin’ about, some just lookin’, some stoppin’ fer a moment to sample a fabric, or heft a new weapon, others to haggle with a merchant ‘bout the price o’ an item what might o’ caught their eye and they’s thinkin’ ‘bout makin’ a purchase.

    And the market’s filled with all sorts o’ temptin’ aromas! They’s comin’ from the big iron cook pots and skillets what some of the merchant’s got set up beside their stands. That odor’s waftin’ up at you and ticklin’ your nose and makin’ your tummy grumble!

    Oh geez! Hot venison stew loaded with potatoes, carrots, onions and assorted spices boilin’ and bubblin’ away! And sweet sausages, laid out in orderly rows on little portable iron skillets, sizzlin’and cracklin’, cookin’ in their own juices!

    All the venders is bellowin’ ‘bout the fine quality o’ their goods, some o’ them even offerin’ a guarantee or a huge discount if you buy their product!

    T’was here at this market we stocked up on supplies’. Healin’ kits, arrows, potions and the like. It’s always a good idea to do that before startin’ any kind o’ journey in Markshire. I mean . . . you never know . . . you know?

    After I changed outta my special one o’ kind outfit with the happy buttons, what Anastasia and kareena had crafted fer me, I bought a few things too. I also stole a bag o’ toasted almonds, a baked apple what was drenched in a brown sugary syrup, and two o’ those plump, sweet sausages right off a skillet what was set up along side Gromk’s stand while he was lookin’ the other way. They was really hot but I managed to make ‘em disappear right under me cloak without burnin’ my fingers too much.

    Well . . . I figured it would be nice to have a thing or two to nibble on while we was sloggin’ along’ through the pass!

    Anyways, off we went, the boys and me, my cloak now bulgin’ with the pilfered goods. We made our way past the guards what the commander always has stationed on almost every corner o’ the city.

    Mayhap it was my imagination, but Zawa’s men seemed edgy ‘bout somethin’. Each o’ ‘em nervously fingerin’ their dwarven war axes, eyes dartin’ about, their jaws set like stone, shiftin’ their weight from one foot to the other, and watchin’ every move we made. We left the market street, passed through Bal’ynaz’s Outer Hall, and made our way to the cave what winds and wiggles deep under the outskirts o’ the city, finally makin’ a connection to Thrym’s pass.

    I ain’t took a breath and kept glancin’ back over my shoulder ‘till we got well into the cave, thinkin’ Gromk would discover some o’ his provisions had gone missin’, then fly into a rage and be screamin’ for Commander Zawa’s Militia, realizin’ I might o’had somethin’ to do with the thievery! I suppose Gromk ain’t noticed nothin’ missin’ from his booth or off his skillet cause no guards come chasin’ after us and before long we was outta the cave and into Thrym’s canyon where I took a big bite outta the sausage I’d filched and began breathin’ normal again!

    For those o’ you what’s plannin’ to do a bit o’ explorin’ in Thrym’s pass I’d recommend wearin’ a good set o’ woolens . . . worn over your flannels what you’ve already pulled on over your linins. It’ll be a bit cramped inside your armor because o’ all that extra clothin’, but for sure, it’ll keep you warm and toasty! Anyways, it ain’t so much the cold in the pass what causes problems for folks. It’s the damn wind!

    Thrym’s wove some magic into it to make it do his biddin’ and that wind o’ his don’t never stop! It’s always there, howlin’ away and soundin’ like a bunch o’ banshies screamin’ at you! Thrym sends it whippin’ and wooshin’ between those canyon walls what act like a funnel fer it, makin’ it even stronger and it keeps tearin’ at your clothes, attemptin’ to rip ‘em right off your back!

    And somehow the wind is always blowin’ smack in your face! Yup! It don’t’ matter none which way your headin’, left, right, up or down . . . east or west! Which ever way you’re facin’ that damn wind’ll still be hittin’ you square in the face! Sometimes Thrym’ll mix a bit o’ sleet in with his wind too! Oh geez! It’s like havin’ a thousand tiny needles tattooing’ away at your cheeks! I mean it! Needles!! If you spend more than a few hours strollin’ ‘round in Thrym’s pass, for days after, your face is gonna resemble chopped liver!

    He must o’ done some powerful magical weavin to accomplish that trick! Well, it’s his pass and I guess it’s up to him to decide whether or not to go foolin’ ‘round with Mother Nature! After all, the dwarven wizards does the same, in keepin’ Bal’nyez so warm and humid, you know?

    I got some friends what’s good at weavin’ magic. Kayla, Faith and Nitha, to name a few. Ain’t none o’ them can weave a spell as strong as Thrym or them dwarven wizards what manage to keep Bal’ynaz so pleasent but they’s fair to middlin’ at it, you know? Evergreen’s good at it ‘too, ‘cept all o’ his weavin’ winds up either hurtin’ somebody or killin’ some poor soul outright!

    The wizard Monty ain’t bad at it either. ‘Cept Monty ain’t too careful ‘bout where he’s aimin’ his weavin’. Oh, you gotta stand far back when Monty goes about conjurin’ up one o’ his spells else you might disappear right along with what ever the hel he’s aimin’ his magic at! You know . . . mayhap that’s what happened to him! I ain’t seen him in a month o’ Sundays! Could it be that Monty went and wove himself right out o’ Markshire?

    Anyways, most folks ‘round these parts is hard and tough enough to deal with the tricks Thrym does with the weather in his pass. I mean, the wind and sleet Thrym conjures up with his weavin’ll make your cheeks sore but that ain’t gonna kill you, you know? Nope . . . but there’s other things in his pass what’ll kill yuh dead as dust! Yup!

    Stone giants fer example! Massive, revoltin’ lookin’ monsters, three, mayhap sometimes even nine o’ them in a group wearin’ only loin cloths, cause their backs is covered with dense hair, what protects them from the cold!

    And as your tryin’ hard to make your way along, battlin’ the wind, those giants is dancin’ ‘round on ledges far above you, hurlin’ pro . . profan . . . profani . . . .uh, curses down at you along with huge stones what they’ve piled up like cannon balls and stashed ‘em within easy reach! And if you ain’t got no shield to hold above yer head to protect you from bein’ squished flat by one o’ those stones, fer sure all that will be left o’ you is a little gore, and a big bloody splotch in the snow!

    Now I’ll be the first to admit there ain’t too much I understand o’ the stone giant language . . . it’s made up mostly of assorted grunts and growls. But I knows when a thing is hurlin’ a curse at me, especially if it’s sailin’ along in my direction with a huge stone attached!!

    There’s even worse things you’ll run into while you’re saunterin’ along in Thrym’s pass besides them damn stone giants. Minions! They’s about the most vile and wicked creatures you’re likely ever to meet up with anywhere in all o’ Markshire! And the Titan’s got the damn things patrolin’ the pass! Those things is so evil they suck up all the goodness around them and obliterate it, includin’ any stray light what happens to be near by! All that’s left is an inky blackness what surrounds ‘em!

    And if I was the bettin’ kind, I’d wager they’d be killin’ you before you’d be killin’ them! There’s a few different kinds o’ minions, mayhap more than two kinds, I ain’t so sure ‘bout it. But I’ve only seen two kinds in the pass. Little ones, what look somethin’ like a cross between a bat and a wyrm . . . and big ones, mayhap the size o’ a worg or a bit larger. I ain’t gonna say no more ‘bout minions ‘cept if you happen to see one, turn around quick and run like hel back the way you’ve come!

    Now when you leave the cave what connects the dwarf city with Thrym’s pass you gotta make a choice ‘bout which way to go. You can travel east toward the town o’ Foothold or . . . you could take the road what winds west. Goin’ west’ll bring yuh right up to the gates o’ Gastlynyk, the burned out city what the Titan demolished.

    Choosin’ the west road would be ‘bout the same as buyin’ a one way ticket to someplace and you better go about sayin’ goodbyes to all your friends and relatives! Mayhap even give some thought ‘bout makin’ out some kind o’ will! Cause fer sure, if you pick that west road what’ll take you on to Gastlynyk, you ain’t never comin’ back again!

    The four o’ us, Jon, Iathouz and me, paused just outside the cave, our weapons ready, lookin’ ‘round here and there, makin’ sure nothin’ was lyin in wait, gettin’ set to pounce on us. We’d already done our choosin’ ‘bout which way to go. We’d planned on takin’ the east road. The road what led to Foothold . . .

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