Grand Tour, pt. 7 It looks like the big forum kablooie has wiped out my story so far. Good thing I wasn't too far along yet. Here's chapter 4 to get things going again. When she got back to the Cave entrance, Bodiccea's studded leathers were waiting for her, with a short note: "Good golly, Ms. Barbie-doll, you hero types are so fussy! You're going to give me even more back-talk than the Necromancer, ain't you? Here's your old suit, and I'll have some Trellised armor ready when you're big enough for them britches. Shouldn't take you long! -- The Mule" Whatever. Bodiccea put on her leathers with Sigon's belt, boots, and gloves, and gave herself the once over. A mirror would be nice, but the Rogues didn't have one in camp. Skin-tight armor too skimpy to be of practical value... check. No helmet, so my to-die-for hair won't get mussed... check. Huge, clunky boots polished like mirrors... check. Massive belt that covers more territory than the armor... check. Ginormous steel gloves so I never chip a nail... check. Not bad, she thought... then it hit her. "Ohmigawd. I'm dressed like an anime bimbo." After another moment's reflection, she realized it could be worse. She was still wearing more than an Assassin in leather would be, and had extra attack speed, movement, 10% life leech, 16 belt slots, and a few decent resists. Besides, she was going to wind up looking like some kind of bimbo anyway. Only the heavy armors have butt coverage. Inside the Cave, Bodiccea found her first Skeletons. All of them had raggedy bits of Rogue leathers on, especially boots. That was kind of weird, because all the Zombies were males. Do girls rot faster than boys, so they still have flesh while girls skeletonize? Maybe Blizzard didn't want any Zombies to look female because poor dead girls are too pitiful, but Skeletons can be from girls 'cause they're just bones and don't look like anything anymore. Maybe it's the whole cheesecake thing -- if they made some Zombies female, you just know some artist at Blizzard would try to make them sexy. Dead sexy is good, but dead and sexy is yucky and gross unless they're Vampires, who mostly look alive anyway. Past the Skeletons were some champion Hungry Dead... who still wouldn't pay any attention to her. What, does she have to wave a dead cow at them or something? With Sigon's gloves, Jab was insanely fast. Bodiccea could barely see how quickly she was moving the spear. When she gets a Brandistock, maybe with a couple of Shaels, watch out! Corrupted Rogue archers were hiding in some of the long halls, and the Fallen had set up camp in side alcoves with dead tortured Rogues and Zombies hiding in barrels. It was nice to be using a normal attack, with a low level weapon, and still not lose any health. Leeching is so handy, it's no wonder they nerfed it. Way in the back, near the stairs to the second level, Coldcrow was waiting. Bodiccea knew she was not going to have fun with this. That witch is tough, fast, hits hard, likes to run away, and she's Cold Enchanted. Getting to her first means you'll have to take on her pack chilled from her frost nova, but saving her for last means taking her shots while you chase after her minions. Breaking up the pack was always an option... nah, leave clever tactics to the Bowazons. Bodiccea charged in and backed Coldcrow into a corner, jabbing away and leeching back the damage. After the frost nova went off, she ran away in slow motion, just fast enough to avoid the minions' arrows until the chill passed. Once the last minion was cornered and dead, she thought, "Ok, that settles it. 'Cannot be frozen' is definitely on my list of things I need." Downstairs in the Cave, Bodiccea found herself on a shallow platform with two sets of steps down, one to the right, and one to the left. There's always a boss off to the right, so she went that way. There wasn't a boss -- there were two. Both were Skeletons, one Stone Skin, the other Cursed, with a few Fallen wandering around in case things weren't exciting enough already. The Shamans were behind everybody else, far out of reach, able to raise their dead or chuck fireballs to their little hearts' content. Right, Bodiccea thought: first things first. She took a position at the top of the steps and waited for the first batch of Skellies. Slowly they came, and she had plenty of time to take down the minions one by one, leaving the boss. Some Fallen came around up the other stairs, so she turned to attack them whenever she needed more health. The Shaman could raise them, but that wasn't so bad since she couldn't leech off the Skeletons. The instant the Cursed Skeleton came within reach, Bodiccea gave it her full attention, and didn't let up until it broke into pieces. Her situation was bad enough without being cursed. Once the boss was dead, she killed the remaining minions, pounded the Stone Skin boss into the ground, got the Shaman, and took care of the Fallen for the last time. Problem solved. Her armor was shredded, but thanks to her gear, she was still in the pink of health. "Hiya, Warriv!" Bodiccea bounced and grinned. "Ah, miss Bodiccea!" Warriv smiled, still keeping his eyes high. "You were gone for so long, I began to worry! And from your condition, it seems I had good reason." "Huh?" She looked down at her armor, taking a deep breath. "Oh, golly. I guess I'd better get this fixed. I'm not exposing myself or anything, am I?" Warriv closed his eyes and shook his head. "Heavens, no." "You're not even looking!" With a pleading glance heavenwards, Warriv shifted nervously from foot to foot. "Miss Bodiccea, perhaps Gheed would be happier to look at your --" "Hey, that reminds me!" Then she was off, bouncing over to Gheed's wagon. One wail of anguish later, and she was back. "Wow. Cast iron BVD's. Didn't know they made those." Trying to ignore the whimpers of pain drifting through the air, Warriv said, "Maybe you shouldn't be so cruel to poor Gheed..." "Aw, you're no fun! Not hurting Gheed would be boring. You know I'm too innocent and naive to even think about restraining myself." Warriv frowned a bit. "Hmm... I'm sorry, maybe when you were younger, but I'm afraid the 'innocent and naive' bit doesn't work for you, even ironically." Bodiccea stamped her foot and pouted. "I know! Once I got to be tall, no one believed me when I tried to act sweet and innocent." "It... does stretch one's credulity." "Hey, you're not supposed to believe me!" she gasped in feigned shock. "You're supposed to be baffled into submission by my blatant disregard for truth and reason." Chuckling, Warriv rocked back on his feet and said, "Careful, young miss. You may give away too many of your sex's secrets." "That's not a secret. Everybody knows women are completely unreasonable. Guys talk about it all the time, but they can't do anything about it. That's why girls rule!" Warriv sighed. "Why don't you go and bother Charsi?" "Cause I'd rather stay here and bother you?" "How kind of you," Warriv grumped. "I had no idea you cared so much." "But how could I resist your overpowering charisma? Those broad shoulders, that manly, rugged beard... it makes me weak just thinking about it..." Warriv snorted. "My wife says it tickles." "Ooh. Tickles her where?" This time, Warriv frowned and looked Bodiccea straight in the eye, with one eyebrow raised. "Why don't you go and bother Charsi?" "Oh, no! The look!" Bodiccea giggled. "Ok. See you later." "Looking forward to it," he grumbled. She leaned over and breathed huskily in his ear, "I know you are, sweetie. Bye!" Sweeping out the last of the Cave was much easier, and around the second to last corner, Bodiccea found her very first Golden Chest of Joy. There wasn't anything good inside, but she wasn't likely to find anything better than what she already had anyway. Well, maybe new rings. A bronze ring and one with +1 to light radius were nothing to brag about. Asking Warriv for a ring would probably make him turn a really funny shade of pink. With the Cold Plains and the Cave cleared out, it was time to hit the Graveyard. It was a miserable place, with lots of empty graves and open crypts. Also, nude women sculpted into the gateposts. They never let up, do they? Bodiccea cleared the Zombies and Skeletons out of the perimeter of the yard first, then went in past the Mausoleum. In the center of the yard, next to "Satan's Christmas Tree", Blood Raven was waiting. "My army will destroy you!" she howled, and raised a Zombie from the cold earth. "Ok, this is just wrong," Bodiccea said, jumping behind a large tombstone. "Hey, how come all your Zombies are guys?! This is the Rogue graveyard! They should be women!" Above her snarling, fang-filled maw, Blood Raven's bloodshot eyes blinked. She looked at the Zombies gathered around her with what might pass for confusion. "Uh... but dead girls are ugly... um... DESTROY THE AMAZON! FEAST UPON HER BRAINS!!" So much for incapacitating her in the crushing grip of reason. The Zombies milled around, sniffing the air in vain. Bodiccea shouted, "Your Zombies will never find me, none of them have noses!" An arrow blasted the top off Bodiccea's tombstone. "Then how do they smell!?" Bodiccea grinned. "Awful!" A demonic howl screeched in her ears. "BEHIND THAT STONE! KILL! FORGET THE BRAINS, JUST KILL AND KILL AND KILL AND KILL!!" So much for lightening the mood with sophisticated humor, too. Bodiccea leapt out as a dozen Zombies wandered in her general direction. A fiery arrow zinged past her ear. Damn bowazons... so snooty. Blood Raven was fast, faster than her, but she couldn't run forever. She had to stop to shoot, giving Bodiccea a chance to get in close. After she got Blood Raven backed up against the wall of the Graveyard, it was over fast. "I can hardly believe you've defeated Blood Raven!" "Hey, bows aren't everything," Bodiccea shrugged. "She had to stop running sometime. So, anyway... it's getting late, and I still need to clear the rest of the graveyard. There's lots of dead things down in those tombs." "You have proven far more formidable than I thought," Kashya said. "I seem to have misjudged you. Perhaps I should have known to expect better from an Amazon." "Nah," Bodiccea waved her hand. "Amazons can be as stupid as anybody. I should know. Anyway, if I remember right, you don't need all these Rogues to guard the camp now." "No, we do not," Kashya smiled tightly. "You have brought hope to us, you know. I believe we may one day stand in our monastery again." "Sooner than you think. Now, who's your cheapest fire merc?" Kashya frowned. "We Rogues have served as mercenaries in the past... but none of us are cheap!" "Oooh, sorry," Bodiccea said, then cleared her throat. "Among these fine archers arrayed before me, who wouldst sally forth to the field of battle at my side, and not set me back too big a pile of cash?" After a long, very dirty look, Kashya motioned a Rogue over. "Meet Heather." "Hi, Heather!" "Um, hi! Wow, you're tall." "Yeah, puberty hit me kind of hard." "Believe me, we've all noticed," Kashya said. "You'll have to get your own gear for her." "No problem, I still have the bow Blood Raven was using." "Cool!" Heather grinned. "Can I see it?" With a Hunter's Bow of Maiming, a socketed pot helm and some hard leather, Heather was ready to face anything. Not up to killing it, mind you, but ready. The Mausoleum was full of Zombies and Skeletons, and the Crypt was more of the same. Also, there were exploding barrels. Bodiccea got knocked on her *** more than once. Didn't everybody get tired of the damn things back in Diablo I? The tombs netted loot from several undefiled graves (which Bodiccea promptly defiled with no objections from Heather) and two Golden Chests of Joy. Heather was very nice to talk to, and attacked the enemy with great spirit. Maybe bow girls aren't so bad after all... when they know who's boss.