Trade Article: The Way of the Warrior — a personal tale, by Elowan of Wind

Preface | Introduction | The beginning ... | Thy education ... | The Flower of Britannia | Black magic ... | Training up — as a beginner; as a novice; as an adept; as a master | Virtue Shield | The Noto killer | Some days it doesn't pay ... | I lose my Shield ... | A tale of two thieves | A tale of etiquette | The Lich — revisited | Elowan's Guide to Dungeon Delving

ireeah! The trumpeting of the Great Hart as it sought to bury it antlers in my vitals makes my hair stand on end. I parry its lunge with my shield and swing my war axe at its exposed neck. Whoosh! Thump! it is eyes glazed and its front legs crumpled as it went down. Huzzah! 15 hides to tailor into female plate! I'll be rich in no time. I take a quick look around. Nothing dangerous looming. I cast Greater Heal upon myself and felt the eldritch energy knitting up my lacerations and soothing my bruised muscles. Not a moment too soon. As I bend to skin my kill I hear the growling cry of an orc! And he is headed my way! I am in no great danger but my heart skips a beat just the same. Dispatching him would mean gold, and I was out of bread and cheese. Sometimes these creatures would have some within their packs. I have developed a taste for orc cheese. It has a rich tangy flavor and is very nourishing. Say what thou wilt about the orcs — they do know how to make cheese.

The orc is getting closer. I look around. There are no wandering mages in sight and the guard has moved away. I have a chance. I turn and taunt the vile creature. He responds by uttering another roar and picks up his pace. I retreat toward the walls of the cavern. If I can lead him away

I am now close to the wall and the orc lunges at me. I fend off his blow and fetch him a hard chop to the midsection. He counters by striking me in the face with his bony fist opening a freshly healed wound beneath my right eye. I hear the sound of a mongbat coming toward me. I can hold my own against an orc at my stage but the mongbat could tip the scales. I swing harder and my months of tailoring pay off; my dexterity is high. I land a solid blow that staggers and almost fells the foul smelling creature before me. I am at an advantage here since I can always call for the guards. I don't want to do this because if they get the kill — the orc's body will be whisked away and I'll have fought for nothing.

The mongbat lunges for my legs. I sidestep and fell him with one blow. The orc hesitates. I can see in his eyes that he is ready to run. I lunge at him, axe raised.

"Help! They're killing people here!" A wandering mage has seen the fight and has called the guard!

"Ye'll pay for this ye swine!"

My blow connects and the orc falls dead at my feet a split second before the guard materializes before me. I did it! The guard, Belinda, tips me a wink as I nod to the fuming mage standing off a little distance. Belinda saunters off as I rummage through the downed orc's pack. The mage comes closer and I toss him a gold piece which he acknowledges. I must remember to do the same for Belinda. But caution is required there; some guards will take offense at such things, seeing it as an attempt to bribe them. But I've come to know Belinda and some of the others who seem to have taken us neophyte regulars under their gaze if not their wings.

"There's a magical Viking sword just north of here," the mage offers as he walks away. Thanks ever so much, I don't say. That Viking belongs to my friend Demented. The mages are filled with 'helpful' stuff like that — it never pays to follow up on it. Still he did acknowledge the gold piece and that can't hurt. After awhile the word gets around that master Elowan is a good fellow. Right now I'm merely Honorable and the Master of Nothing though I am an adept swordsman at least. Carin would laugh at that no doubt.

The orc has some bread on him and three rounds of cheese. He also has 50 gold in his outer pack. I take the gold and his thigh boots. I can sell those for about 20 gold at the provisioners. The cobbler there is always glad to take such things off my hands. He'll turn around and sell them for about 40 — the thief. I drop the inevitable torch back onto the body. I had always understood that orcs can see well in the dark — why do they need torches? True, I can sell the torch but not for much and they weigh a lot. I can only carry so much on me at a time. I can Recall to the provisioners if I'm overloaded, but it is awkward.

Note: Recalling, Gating and Teleporting can no longer be achieved if thou art overweight. Remember that this was written before changes were made in the potency of the spells by the Great God OSI. Furthermore, it is not possible to Recall anywhere within the city of Wind.

But he has another pack and Joy of joys! It looks like a magic war axe! I hold it up and let my mind go free. At first I can tell nothing of its aura but soon it comes to me: accurate war axe of ruin. Nice! Not spectacular but better than the mundane axe I am now using. I need to get a Wand of Identification. I drop the axe into my own pack. I find a candlestick and another pouch, the latter has another 50 gold and just next to it and almost hidden is a jewel of some sort. I take the gold and the jewel and leave the pouch. Sometimes I'll gather up the pouches and packs and sell them but not today. There are a lot of orcs, ogres, and lizard men appearing in the Park today and I need room in my pack for the spoils from them. As if on cue a roar alerts me to the fact that an ogre has targeted me for lunch.

I cannot take on an ogre by my ownsome yet and in the excitement I forgot to heal myself. I may just have time to cast Reactive Armor before he reaches me. I'm in trouble! I can only hope that will be enough to save me until I can cast Heal or help arrives. I don't dare to try Greater Heal under these circumstances as I am not sufficiently skilled in magery to succeed with that spell every time. I needn't have worried, however. With a loud clang the ogre disappears and a guard steps out of the smoke. Just behind her I can see Demented, his Viking sword held high. He lets it fall with an expletive.

"Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn! I'd grown hopeful of the chase!" he retorted.

Belinda sticks her tongue out at him. "You must be quicker, young warrior. Much quicker."

Demented is nothing if not poetic. I knew his comment was paraphrased from a line in a popular play being performed in Britain: "My Fair Great Lady" but it was apt just the same.

Demented lives up to his name — for he is that. Who but a demented person would take on an ogre unassisted? At his level at least. He is no stronger than I. But he is demented.

"Hail!" He tosses me a snappy salute.

"Well met," I reply, casually wiping my axe off on the orcs tunic.

"Wilt thou tailor that?" he asks indicating the fallen hart just behind him. I'd forgotten about that.

"Aye. My thanks for reminding me."

"Getting forgetful in thine dotage," he quipped. "Or taken too many strikes to the head."

I fingered my helm. Battered as it was it had saved my melon more than once. "At least I'm not crazy!" I rejoined poking him in the stomach with my axe.

"Nice job on the orc," he said bending over the body and rooting through the pack. "Thee didn't leave anything for me!" he whined in a falsetto voice. We both laughed at that. It was a perfect imitation of a fellow called "TobyTwo" who frequented the place. He was constantly complaining about never getting any loot. That lad had wrong writ large all over him.

I quickly skinned the hart and managed 1 set of female plate and 1 leather skirt from the stack. A perfect score! My tailoring had improved immensely.

Note: It is no longer possible to tailor female plate. We had long wondered why it was even possible in those days though none complained overmuch. A set of tailored female plate could bring as much as 125 gold and only took 8 hides. As I said, those were halcyon days.

"I hear they may close this place," Demented said wistfully. I had heard the same and it was not good news from one point of view. On the other hand

"Gets rid of the riffraff," I quipped poking him with my elbow.

"But then who can I rob!" he whined in falsetto. Who indeed? My magery was insufficient to get back in and would be for some time to come; not until I became Adept and then only through the teleporter though I would still be able to Recall to the entrance at least.

"What will thee do?" he asked. I'd thought much about that lately.

"Probably buy a stack of Gate Travel scrolls and escort citizens to various places."

"Why? Is there money in that?"

"Yes," I replied. "Each traveler will pay thee about 200-300 gold; sometimes more. A Gate Travel scroll costs about 100 gold. If thou takest more than one traveler at a time thou wilt end up making a sizeable profit at little risk."

"Sounds interesting but where doth thou find them?"

"Vesper, Skara Brae, Ocllo. Usually on the outskirts of town. They're just standing there. Walk up and ask: 'What doth thou need?'* They'll answer by telling thee where they want to go. If thou hath a rune to that city, say 'I will take thee.' Simple as that. Get them to follow thee; cast the Gate Travel spell and step in. They'll follow and pay on arrival."

* That was then. Now thou asks 'destination?' to accomplish the same end.

"Must be a catch here somewhere," he said skeptically.

"There is," I admitted, "but 'tis a small one. An the Lag Spirit is abroad, sometimes thou wilt get to a destination and thine traveler will just wander off without paying. Doesn't happen often but it can happen. Also sometimes they'll want to go to a dungeon or worse — Buc's Den."

"What then?"

"Nothing about the wanderers. As for the others — don't take them. They won't pay you for the trip to Buc's."

"Sounds to me like a lot of work and dull into the bargain."

"'Struth! But it is a good way to see something of the Land. Less exciting perhaps than battling ogres."

"Aye it is that. Ye know El, I've been thinking about baiting liches."

"Liches! Art thou daft!? But of course thou art and always have been! Silly me." I take a bite of cheese.

"But I'm in earnest."

I stared at him. He was serious!

"I've a plan. Hearken and I'll explain it."


It seemed simple enough. Perhaps too simple. We would hie ourselves down to the scorpion room — so-called from the fact that the place was usually over run with the vile creatures. They carried some gold on them and they were easier than an orc but the danger was always that they tended to mob a person. That could get fatal very quickly. Once there, Demented planned to make faces at the lich or some such — if he was there — and get the foul thing to chase him. It made no difference if anyone else happened to be in the path. The lich has a one-track mind. Once he has fixed his attention on someone he carries on without distraction. Hence Demented wouldst run pell mell down the tunnel back toward the city with the lich in hot pursuit. Just before he reached the city steps there was a branching of the tunnel. One limb went straight on to the city, the other branched off to the left and into a cavern. At that branching there was a stalactite jutting from the floor and just beyond the fork the tunnel to the city bent to the left slightly. Anyone standing beyond that bend could not be seen from the stalactite. That was the plan. Demented would, hopefully, beat the lich to the corner and virtually disappear. The lich, his quarry gone, would stop. Demented would then wait for his mana to recharge, step out into the open, fire off a spell and jump back out of sight. This would continue until the lich started to retreat. Since I would be standing just behind him, I could polish him off and Demented and I would split the loot.

It worked! Though I must confess that's it is very likely I'll have to burn my small clothes (underwear in the new vernacular). I have never been so wrought up in my life. Hast thou ever looked into the eyes of a lich? No? Pray that thou shalt never have the dubious pleasure. I have. As the fiend swept by me, intent upon immolating Demented with its powerful bolts of lightning, it "favored" me with a glance. Oh ye merciful gods! What a look! I was only a few feet away from its foul presence. The stench alone was enough to make one weak in the knees. But its look! Evil incarnate and of a depth unfathomed and so unthinkable that it actually clutched at my heart. But fortunately the creature never paused in its pursuit and eventually stopped against the stalactite as we'd hoped. If it knew that I stood behind it, it gave no sign, so intent was in upon crushing the impudent insect that had raised its ire.

It seemed almost surprised when Demented stepped from hiding and fired off a bolt of energy. He'd been practicing his magery — that much was evident. The lich's maniacal laugh was cut short and twisted into a shriek of pain as the eldritch energy struck home. The smell of burning rotted flesh caused me to gag and I almost lost my grip on my axe but I managed to stand fast. Demented was out of sight by the time the smoke cleared. He repeated this maneuver time after time and I could sense the lich's life energy fading. Once it looked over its shoulder at me; the first time it had really acknowledged my presence but there was no fear there — only pure and unalloyed hatred. I shivered despite myself.

It turned fully back toward me finally and raised his foul hand to hurl a spell. Perhaps it thought that it had mesmerized me with its gaze. But its gaze had no such power and I leaped toward it bringing my axe down upon its foul torso with all my strength. It keened loud and long as its spell was interrupted and it raked at me with its razor-like nails. Demented came out from his hidey-hole and favored it with a bolt of lightning of his own which distracted it even more. It was frantic now and thrashed about trying to break past me. It managed to get off one bolt which reflected harmlessly off my Magic Reflection spell back onto itself. Finally with a gurgling gasp it fell to my feet a smoking ruin, never to rise again. Even as I watched its remains began to decay and fall away. I grabbed its pack and Demented and I sprinted down the tunnel to the safety of the city.

We retired to the Wind Inn where we hoisted a frosty mug to our harrowing experience and good fortune. As we divided up the loot — I got 50 in gold, a daemon summoning scroll and wand of Healing for my share — we giggled over each moment like a pair of school girls.

"I must say," I confessed, "That I've never been so tightly drawn in my entire life. I can't tell thee, though, how absolutely relieved and alive I feel at this moment. However," I hastened to add, "I don't care to repeat the experience any time soon."

"As to that," replied my lunatic companion, "I'd rather thought of taking on a daemon." It was only the certainty of being dispatched by the city guard that prevented me from denting his skull with the handle of my axe.

Note: Liches should never be taken lightly — not even by a veteran. They are powerful magic users and have high intelligence and hence mana. They like to employ Flame Strike and Lightning which spells can easily fry anyone with low magic resistance. They can be successfully baited as I have illustrated. A master warrior can go up against one of these mano-a-mano if he has high magic resist and takes care to renew his Reactive Armor and health (see The Lich — revisited). Casting Magic Reflect when starting the initial attack is vital and the prudent warrior stays close to the creature. Since they are undead, they are particularly vulnerable to silver weapons of any stripe; these do double damage to undead. One mistake thee must never make with a lich is to run. His spells will invoke the Lag Demon which could result in thy death before thou canst recover. Blade Spirits can sometimes aid thee. Remember, however, to cast that spell at thy enemies feet — not upon him. Lich Lords are another matter entirely and are very powerful foes. These require specialized tactics including invoking Energy Vortex — an 8th Circle spell.

However — be very careful whne thou doth cast Blade Spirits. The Great God OSI has seen fit to make this enchantment fickle such that it may even turn upon its caster! In addition, liches have been known to cast Dispell upon the Spirit; something that they did not do in the past.


I have become most proficient with mine war axe. It has become my favorite weapon. Not only is it fast, but since my Tactics has risen to the low 90's, deadly as well. My strength has also risen to 69 and I've recovered and even surpassed my previous level of intelligence. Constant use of Recall and Greater Healing have gradually improved my magery skill so that it is now 65 and I hardly ever miscast spells in circles 1 through 5.

I have also become "buff" in the vernacular, and my notoriety has caused me to be addressed as the Noble Elowan. I hardly hunt hide animals now preferring instead to concentrate on the three staples of the adept hunter: orcs, ogres, lizard men, and the occasional grizzly to polish ones Tactics.

I have a keen eye for the sudden appearance of one of these and frequently attack before any of my peers can react. Quick reflexes can be a life saver I've found. I have taken to cruising through Wind Park in a definite pattern. After awhile, we veterans get a feel for where monsters will pop up so we move about. I have just finished killing and looting a lizard man right under the nose of a troublesome newbie. Newbie only in the sense of his presence in Wind Park. He fancies himself as some sort of a flash dungeon crawler and is prone to give himself airs. We have taken great delight in deflating his ego and have been hard at it.

Suddenly I spot the golden green flash as an orc pops into view. He registers red and I immediately attack. Suddenly I hear a voice within my head crying: "Thou art attacking MoFo!" MoFo? What a strange name for an orc! And since when does one get this message when attacking monsters? My blood runs cold.

"Ye'll pay for this ye swine!"

Clang!

'Thou art dead!'

I watch in disbelief from my unmanifested state as the orc says (and not in Orcish): "This is too easy!" and loots my body. I've been had! Some motherless son has polymorphed himself into an orc just to entice such an attack. Some dastard named MoFo. Damn and blast! The rule is clear: no attacking of any person within the Park. Person being defined as any human above Dread and any tamed animal. I numbly flit off to the healers. I cannot believe what has just happened! I never thought to invoke the Allnames cantrip; why should I? A monster is a monster. Except when he's not, a little voice chides me.

The irony of it all is that this happened to me twice and by the same perpetrator and on the same day! It is nice to get it all over at once but to fall for the same trick twice! I think he was a lizard for the second go. The moral of the story is this: act in haste; repent in leisure. Too true.

I had occasion to meet up with MoFo a few days later while shopping at the Lord's Arms. I asked him if he enjoyed my stuff. When I reminded him of the episode he tensed. But I laughed and congratulated him on his fine job of acting. Whereupon he handed me 611 gold. When I asked what the gold was for, he said it was in repayment for what I had lost. When I asked why, he explained it was because I was a good sport about it and not an asshole. I did say that I understood and hoped to meet him out in the world someday that I might return the favor. Fair is fair after all. I've seen him from time to time since and he has risen to an honorable state and is a respectable citizen. I had no real desire to kill him in any event — I honor my mentors. At a later time he came to me in need and I assisted him without a qualm.


It's been 3 maybe 4 days since I 'died' and I'm bored. It is been attack, kill, heal, loot; attack, kill, heal, loot with the occasional variation of: attack, kill, heal, skin, tailor. I'm itching to try casting some spells other than Recall, Greater Heal and Reactive Armor but offensive spells are forbidden anywhere within Wind with the exception of the tunnels. Demented is crawling around in a dungeon somewhere and I don't choose to enter the tunnels alone. Maybe WanderingOne could be persuaded.

Earlier some chaps were in here casting fireball spells at the rocks. I'd seen this done on the roof of Britain's bank without the guards coming. Apparently it was alright to cast spells upon inanimate objects. When I venture to make this observation to WanderingOne he demurs and says: "I'll hold thy coat."

I put away my shield and axe and flex my muscles. I throw a wine bottle onto the sward some distance away. This is going to be spectacular! WanderingOne stands by nervously looking on.

"Grav Ort Por", I intone in a most mage-like tone. I am rewarded by eldritch energy gathering at my finger tips and spraying forth in a crackling bolt of lightning.

"Ye'll pay for this ye swine!"

Clang!

'Thou art dead!'

As my ghost drifts toward the exit I see WanderingOne picking up my belongings. Others, alerted to the sound of lightning and all the rest, come running up. As I enter the teleporter to go to the healers I hear behind me:

"What happened?"

"Elowan cast lightning at a wine bottle and a guard killed him."

"Gadzooks! I guess ye can't cast offensive spells in here!"

Not only can thee not cast an offensive spell within a Justice Zone (except upon thyself) but thee uses any weapon that can so cast at thy peril. Why do I bring this up since weapons use is forbidden in such zones? They are too, except that Virtue Guards may spar and fight within these areas but offensive magery is forbidden them as well. To this day I know not how those others were able to cast Fireball in town and in Wind Park unless it is some peculiarity of the spell itself is a funny old world.


 
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