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Grand Tour, pt. 7

Discussion in 'Single Player Forum' started by Stony, Jan 28, 2004.

  1. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    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.
     
  2. LowLander

    LowLander IncGamers Member

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    Somehow the loss matters less now: The Grand Tour continues.

    I think we all know the SPF will NEVER end untill it is finished... (Take it easy there, now, Stony, will ya?)

    Hilariousness will no doubt ensue as it has in the past. Lovely!
     
  3. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    Aw, c'mon, I can't be carrying this forum by myself! There's lots more neat stuff around here. Unless... do you think... maybe the SPF will come to an end when I finish this! Horrors! Can't have that. Look for Grand Tour II: Electric Boogaloo, soon to be released at a forum near you. In it, our brave heroes travel through time to return to the world of Diablo I and save Tristram from that idiot who stabbed himself between the eyes with a soulstone. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Danny DeVito, and Vin Deisel as Gharbad the Weak. All rights reserved.

    Stony
     
  4. Kaysaar

    Kaysaar IncGamers Member

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    Great story Stony! :clap: I wish I had seen the first ones :embarrass
     
  5. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    Thanks. Maybe I should repost the first 3 chapters. In fact, I think I will.

    Chapter 1:

    While Amazons are powerful and interesting in the Diablo II game, I've never been as fond of them as I am of other characters. In the past, I've praised the Paladin for having a diverse skill set, offering up many different playing options, yet the Amazon's skills are at least as varied. Both melee and ranged combat are viable options, putting her one up on the Sorceress. And yet, I haven't played many Amazons, or much enjoyed the ones I did play.

    Of course, my dissatisfaction could be because my early experiences with the character were very frustrating. For my first Amazon, I wanted to try bows, but couldn't find any powerful ones and didn't want to take an hour to finish off Normal Diablo. Instead, I wound up using a spear, and quickly discovered that Jab was the only skill worth using. (This was in the hoary days of v. 1.0, of course.) Much later, I tried a Javazon, and had the opposite problem: the big sticks made killing too easy, especially with Lightning Fury. I didn't even have to aim... just clicked the mouse a couple of times and everything died. After that, I went off to play the other classes, and never looked back for long.

    Now, many versions later, I understand that the Amazon has been overhauled for the better. In particular, while Jab was nerfed by making it dependent on weapon speed, the other spear skills were improved. Back when I first tried it, Fend was nothing but a slow mockery of Zeal, and the "lightning damage" spear skills were pathetic. Now, if they really are more useful, a Spearazon might be fun. If not... it's back to Jabbing again, and I'll need some attack speed boosts to compensate for the nerf. Extra movement speed might help too, for closing in on those pesky archers and mages. Come to think of it, could a melee fighter gain much from lots of extra movement? There are "speedazons", but they use bows. I've never equipped anyone like that, which makes it a good thing to try now.

    My plan is: a pure Spearazon, with as many boosts to attack and movement speed as I can lay my grubby little hands on. At high levels, her main attack skill will probably be Fend, but I'll try the lightning skills to see how they've changed. No Pikes -- I'll restrict myself to fast spears like the Brandistock class. They have serious dexterity requirements, as do Amazon-specific spears, so she won't have any problem hitting things. Doing enough damage might be difficult. A big investment in Critical Strike would be a good idea, and if I can swing it, some gear with Crushing Blow. But speed takes priority.

    All I need now is a name and a personality. Hmm... she'll be a fast girl with a high dexterity, relying on skill and technique more than muscle. She might not even be strong enough to handle the really big sticks. Every now and then, there might be a few sparks, but mostly she'll come in fast and fend of anyone who tries to get near her. Most importantly, she must have a sense of humor. I know the Amazon sounds very noble in-game, but I'm in the mood to write something just plain SILLY. Besides, any woman who's built like that better have a sense of humor about it. Her name will be Bodiccea, after a tribal warrior woman of the British Isles who rebelled against Roman rule. Apparently, she was a hottie too.


    The Amazon seemed to come out of nowhere. The two Rogues guarding the gates never saw her. She didn't climb over the rickety walls. Without warning, she was suddenly there, standing next to Warriv by the fire, armed with a simple spear. "I need to get more sleep," he thought as he went to greet her. She was undoubtedly safe. No marks of Hell could be seen on her, and besides, the honor of an Amazon warrior is never in question. Wherever she came from, an ally is an ally, and they all had a great need for them.

    "Greetings! I'm not surprised to see one of your kind here."
    "Oh, hi!" the Amazon smiled, bouncing on her toes. "I'm Bodiccea."
    Warriv smiled, keeping his eyes high. It wasn't easy, she was taller than him by a few inches. "I am Warriv, master of this caravan."
    "Uh huh. All two wagons. But that's ok."
    "Ah..." He scratched his head. There were only two wagons sitting in camp. Didn't seem like much of a caravan, even to him. "The others are around back. I suppose you've heard about the terrible events in the Rogue citadel?"
    "Yeah, yeah, I know the drill. The town of Tristram, Diablo in the catacombs, mysterious Dark Wanderer, Andarial took over the monastery, lotsa Rogues fell under an evil spell that's making them run around naked, et cetera, et cetera. You're married, right?"
    Warriv's heart skipped a beat. He'd been married long enough to know that women like to ask loaded questions, and any answer he gave to this one could be dangerous. "Yes. Very happily, for nearly 20 years."
    "Damn. The only other guy in Act I is Gheed, and he's gross. Hey, could you wait here a second? I just thought of something. Be right back!"

    The Amazon walked over to Gheed's corner of camp. No one else besides Charsi ever went over there. Warriv heard a thump, an unidentifiable noise, then a scream of pain that lasted a lot longer than any he'd heard out of Gheed before. Then the Amazon came back, wiping her hands on a torn piece of Gheed's coat before throwing it in the fire.

    "Is there something wrong?" he asked.
    Bodiccea laughed. "Nope. I can't go hostile on anyone in town, so I can't hurt him. I had to settle for a Power Wedgie."
    Warriv held up his hands, eyes wide in mock terror. "You cruel, heartless beast! You speak strangely, Miss Bodiccea, but you have obviously encountered Gheed before. Any enemy of Gheed's is a friend of mine!"
    "I couldn't have said it better myself," Kashya said as she walked over. "Well, well. I never expected to see an Amazon here."
    "Without a Windforce or Titan's, you mean? Don't worry, I'm not getting rushed, I'm doing this legit." She grinned and bounced on her toes again. "Hi! I'm Bodiccea."
    Kashya nodded quietly. "Named for the legendary queen who rose up against oppression and struck down the men who violated her daughters and her home. We Rogues honor her memory. I hope you have the strength to fill her shoes."
    Bodiccea looked down at her exceptionally ample bosom. "She also inspired the words 'bodice' and 'bodacious'. I don't think its her shoes I need to fill out."
    Warriv suddenly took a great interest in a bug crawling through the grass. Kashya opened her mouth, closed it, and opened it again. "Queen Bodiccea was a leader in the war against persecution! The memory of her uprising is revered by all women!"
    "Yeah, she was a great fighter," Bodiccea nodded. "And, she had a really impressive bod! You can have both, there's no law against it. Anyhoo, I gotta go talk to Akara."
    "Yes, you should," Warriv suddenly said. "She is the leader of the Rogues... but it seems you already know that."
    "Sure, everybody does."
    "Akara may be the Rogues' spiritual leader," Kashya snarled, "but I command the sisters in battle! Combat is not a duty for the frivolous."
    "Chill, sis! Jeebus, you're tense. How long has it been since you got any, anyway?"
    Quicker than you'd expect for a man his age, Warriv jumped between them. "Yes, going to see Akara would be a good idea! She's the leader of the monastery, you know. In charge of important things! Why don't you go over to her tent right now?"

    Akara paced outside her tent, barely more than a blanket thrown over a single wooden post. She never looked up as Bodiccea approached, but greeted her anyway. "Greetings. I am Akara, high priestess of the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye."
    "Hi! I'm Bodiccea. Say, you always have that purple hood pulled way down over your face. Are you blind or something?"
    "I see very well, child. At times, it is more of a curse than a blessing."
    "That tent is the blessing. How the heck do you stash all those tomes, scrolls, potions, staves, wands, and scepters in there?"
    "Very efficiently. But it does mean I spend a lot of time in the rain. From what I have heard, you and Kashya did not see eye to eye on your first meeting."
    "Nah. She's way too uptight. I need to do that, um... that quest thing, you know?"
    "Hmm. Perhaps a small quest to prove your mettle would smooth over your differences with Kashya. Andarial's forces occupy our monastery, and have blocked the pass so that no one may travel through the mountains. More immediately, our poor shelter is being menaced by a gathering of evil forces in a nearby den."
    Bodiccea snapped her fingers. "Yeah, the Den of Evil! Got it. Um..." She frowned, and chewed on her lower lip. "There's something else..."
    "You have spoken with Warriv and Kashya, and met Gheed. Thank you for that small service, by the way. I have wanted to do something like that for days now. Have you met Charsi yet?"
    "THAT'S IT! Thanks, back in a flash. Bye!"

    Bodiccea bounced (quite literally) across camp to Charsi's blacksmith stand. "Hi!"
    "Oh, hi!" Charsi said, dropping a dozen arrowheads in water to cool. "I'm Charsi!"
    "I know! I'm Bodiccea. Can I ask you something?"
    Her head cocked to one side, Charsi said, "Uh huh?"
    Bodiccea looked to the left, then the right, and finally leaned forward to whisper, "Has Kashya always been such a B. I. T. C. H?"
    Eyes wide, Charsi leaned closer and loudly whispered, "GAWD, yes! The other day, I was, like, talking about Barbarians, and how studly and hunky they are?"
    "Yeah!" Bodiccea laughed, eyes wide. "I hear they're huge!"
    "Ooh, yeah! I would so like to meet one!"
    "I want to do more than meet one! But I won't see any until Act V! Wah!"
    "Huh?"
    "Forget it. What'd Kashya do?"
    "She got up and walked away! I could not buh-LEEVE it!"
    "Whoa! Maybe she's a lesbian."
    Charsi shook her head, glancing heavenward in utter disgust. "I would so totally not be surprised. I mean, she rags on men ALL the time!"
    "Guys are great! They're so much fun to play with."
    "I think my dad was a Barbarian! That would be so great! Wouldn't that be great?"
    "No way! Look at you. You've gotta be an Amazon!"
    Charsi's eyes widened. "You think?"
    Bodiccea grinned, and shook her head. "Sure! We've got the same hair color. Barbs all have black hair!"
    "Ooh ooh ooh! I love black hair! Do they wear it long and loose and wild?"
    "Yeah, the ones that don't shave it. Guys should keep it long. I like long hair!"
    "Ew, shaved heads are yucky. I keep thinking they had lice or something."
    "Yuck. Listen, I gotta go out and prove my womanhood or whatever. I'll come buy stuff when I get some money, 'k?"
    "Sure thing! I got some spears here. And armor. It comes with pants, you know..."
    "Nah. I got it, why hide it? I just wish there were more guys here. See ya!"
     
  6. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    Chapter 2:

    And so, Bodiccea went out into the Blood Moor, her spear at the ready. The mucky soil was scarred by the imprints of thousands of bodies, ambushed and slain without mercy or skill as they tried to leave the Rogue camp. "Good thing I'm not on b.net," she thought as she ran out to find her first Quill Rat.

    For some reason, Quill Rats weren't as easy to find as she expected. Just past the almost-disintegrated remains of a few hundred Bone Walls (wow, did they look old) Bodiccea found her first monsters: some Fallen outside a house. The little guys squealed, squawked, and ran around in circles as she approached like angry blonde death. They were kind of funny, but also the most dangerous things on the moor and she was only level 1, so she took them on one at a time. They got in a couple of hits, and there were more inside the house, but leveling up took care of her injuries. It's amazing how all the burns, cuts and contusions can heal instantly sometimes.

    Bodiccea looted the house, and the stash hidden under the rock that's always outside and to the north. There was no bed, so no chance of a Zombie appearing, and she got a pair of shoes, a leather coat, and enough loot that she could afford to buy a half-dozen keys from Akara. The shoes were low quality, with ugly scuff marks and one sole flapping loose, but better than nothing. The soft leather was a crappy rare utterly typical of the Blood Moor; again, better than nothing, but not by much.

    Further west, some Zombies were wandering around. With a confident grin, Bodiccea went in... and retreated at the first whiff. Ick! Why couldn't she have been a bowazon, anyway? They don't have to get near yucky monsters. Oh yeah... because Amazons who use bows lop off one tit to make drawing the string easier, and she didn't want to. While she was pondering why anyone would want to, the nearest Zombie noticed her presence and came shambling after her, unholy hunger lighting up its eyes. "Brains..."

    Bodiccea dropped to one knee and braced her spear to impale the Zombie as it charged... and charged... and charged... She looked at her watch, then stood up and moved closer, breathing through her mouth so she didn't have to smell it. The Zombie kept coming, softly moaning "brains..." until finally, it was close enough to hit. Then it stopped, sniffed a bit, grunted in disappointment, and wandered off, still groaning "brains..." "HEY!" Bodiccea ran after the Zombie, stabbed and bashed it to bits, and kicked its head into a wall. "I do so have brains! I just hardly need 'em."

    Back in camp, Bodiccea was selling the fifth cap she'd found to Charsi. "Are you sure you don't want to wear one of these? Or a good strong pot helm? Kashya always says 'even if you protect nothing else, protect your head.'"
    Bodiccea's nose wrinkled in disgust. "I hate caps, they're just plain ugly. Pots aren't much better. And they both mess up my hair."
    "You could tie it back, or braid it. And button your coat. I mean, your stomach's kind of exposed like that."
    "I LIKE my hair. And I can't button the coat."
    "Sure you can!" Charsi said. "It'll fit ok, just..." she grabbed the lapels and tried to pull them together. "Um... well, I guess it fits your shoulders..."
    "Almost," Bodiccea laughed. "It's ok. An open leather jacket over a tight top is a good look on me. Guys dig leather. What I need is better boots. You got any?"
    "Sure!" Going through the pile of stuff behind her, Charsi came up with four pairs... none of which fit. "Um... sorry, I only have women's sizes."
    "Damn. Story of my life."
    Charsi nodded, looking curious. "You mean, the other Amazons aren't as big as you?"
    "Amazons're normal-sized, mostly. I just had to be different. Like, when I was growing up, we all had to study gymnastics, you know?"
    "Uh-huh?"
    "All the huntresses take gym until they're 18. I was taller than any of them by the time I was 12. Then, puberty hit. There was no way I was doing acrobatics after that, so they gave me a spear and made me a temple guard."
    Charsi smiled. "Do any of you follow the path of the Sightless Eye?"
    "Nah, we don't do Zakarum stuff, just the old goddesses. Zerae, Athulua, her consort Kethryes, all those."
    Frowning a bit, Charsi asked, "Um... so Kethryes isn't a goddess?"
    "No, she is. And she's a she." Bodiccea shrugged a little. "Don't ask."
    Charsi's eyes went wide again. "Um... ok."
    There was a long silence. "Look, they're just goddesses. Besides, I like Zerae better. I got put in her temple."
    Charsi nodded quietly. "What's she goddess of?"
    "Lightning and revenge. The revenge part isn't cool, but she's married to Hefaetrus, god of fire. He's hot."
    That made Charsi laugh a little. "The god of fire is hot. Ok."
    "Well, sure! He'd kind of have to be, it's his job to keep Zerae from going too nuts."
    "So she's, like, violent and stuff?"
    Bodiccea laughed. "Violent? Jealous? Vindictive? A perma-PMS-ing witch? Yeah, but she's better than the other two."
    "Are they goddesses of anything important?"
    "They're just the heads of the pantheon. Athulua's the goddess of the sky, weather, and the seasons. She also does all the weirdo magic stuff. Bowazons -- I mean archers like her for Guided Arrow and Strafe. Kethryes is... kind of her little help-mate.
    "O-kay..."
    Bodiccea laughed. "Don't take it seriously. I don't. I sure didn't make 'em up."
    Charsi giggled. "Do you have a love goddess? I'd think you'd want to be in her temple."
    With a sly smirk, Bodiccea replied, "Nope. A love god, Onan. Only the handsomest men become his priests. Every week, they all come out to greet the huntresses when they come back from the jungle. Mmmmm."
    Grinning, Charsi whispered, "Does the girl with the biggest catch get the biggest... ?"
    "Girlfriend!" Bodiccea squealed, only half-trying to whisper, "nobody has to do anything they don't want to. But since priests of Onan train their whole lives for it..."
    "Wow... that's kind of weird," Charsi grinned, blushing up to the roots of her hair. "So... um, are the priests... uh..."
    Bodiccea blinked. "Oh, I'm not a huntress. I've never gotten to, you know..."
    "Oh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot."
    "It's ok. I hear they're unbelievable."
    "I guess. I mean, if they really don't ever do anything else."
    "Yeah." Bodiccea shifted from one foot to the other, looking off into the distance, then said, "I better get going. Still haven't found the Den of Evil."
    "Oh, sure. See ya!"

    Crossing back and forth over the Blood Moor, Bodiccea met and conquered many a Zombie and Quill Rat, fortifying herself for her journey into the den. Many items passed under her eye -- crappy rings, crappy weapons, crappy armor, and even more caps, all of them as ugly as a Fallen Shaman's butt. She collected the valuable stuff, things Akara would pay good money for. By the time she met Flavie at the entrance of the Cold Plains, she was wearing a new suit of studded leather, custom fit by Charsi.

    "Hi!"
    "Turn back! There is mortal danger ahead for the likes of you."
    "I'll bet you say that to all the heroes. Whatcha doin' out here?"
    "Keeping a watch for Andarial's minions. We know she's planning something to destroy what's left of us and cement her claim to our monastery."
    "Oh, sure. What do you think of my look?"
    Flavie shrugged. "Not a lot of coverage for someone in the middle of combat. And not wearing a helmet is a big mistake."
    "You should talk. But, it's all good. Blizzard only put all this cheesecake in Act I so geeks would buy the game. Wish they'd put in something for us, though."
    "What are you talking about?"
    Bodiccea thought about it a minute, then grinned. "Ah, I guess I can tell you. It's not like you're going to walk back to camp and tell everybody else. Look, you know that whole 'know thyself' bit?"
    "The key to wisdom, yes."
    "Around here, 'know thy audience' is wiser. I mean, lookit here..." Bodiccea reached out in a direction Flavie never knew existed, grabbed something, and dragged it back. It was a boy, maybe 14 years old, and small for his age. Thick glasses and acne scars covered his face, and a noisome odor drifted off his body. While not fat, there was hardly an ounce of muscle on him -- it was all flab.
    "WUG? WUG? WTF? OMG N00B IMA 1337 [email protected]><0R..." Then he caught sight of Bodiccea, who was holding him by the collar at arm's length. "Uh... buh... buh... BOOBIES!"
    "Behold: our target audience."
    "Ew."
    His head turned to see Flavie so fast his scrawny neck should have snapped. "BOOBIES!!"
    Bodiccea nodded, holding her nose. "Yep. Frustrated adolescent male gamers --"
    "BOOBIES!!!"
    "... who apparently got weaned too early."
    Slowly, Flavie started nodding. "You know, this kind of makes sense. I mean, why is the official Rogue uniform so skimpy? We're up in a mountain pass, and it's raining. Don't these clowns know that means it's COLD up here?"
    Bodiccea smirked. "That's part of it. There's a reason this is called 'nipply weather'."
    "NIPPLIES!! BOOBIES!!! BOOBY NIPPLIES!!!! WEEEEEEEE!!!!!"
    "He's frothing."
    "I think he's OD'ing. Either that, or he needs his asthma inhaler. I better put him back." Bodiccea shoved the boy back into whatever basement she'd found him, and wiped her hand off on the grass. "So anyway, that's the nub of the gist."
    Flavie shook her head. "This is ridiculous."
    "Well, yeah. You don't see me taking any of it seriously. Anyway, I've finished clearing the Blood Moor. After I get my real quest, the waypoint, I'm off to the den. See ya!"

    The Den of Evil was as evil as it ever was, full of the same monsters as ever: Fallen and their Shamans, Zombies, and big, hairy, squeally Gargantuan Beasts. The Beasts kind of reminded Bodiccea of her last boyfriend, only without that annoying fixation on his mother. In the den, she found a Lizard's Ring of Strength and a scepter with +2 to Thorns, putting more money in her stash than she'd need for the rest of Normal. Strange how an item that gives +1 to one skill is worth more than one that gives +1 to all of them.

    Bodiccea went through the den quickly. First priority were Shamans, then Beasts, Fallen, and finally Zombies. The Zombies were last because they ignored her. Idly, she wondered if they ignored the other characters this much. The den was a small place, just three medium-sized hall sections and a final loop where Corpsefire lurked. Even though she didn't need to at this point, Bodiccea decided to get some practice with strategy. She walked in, and when one or two came after her, walked away to deal with them alone. When Corpsefire was the last thing alive, she went in and killed him. Again. He's a Zombie, you know.

    "You have cleansed the Den of Evil," Akara said with satisfaction.
    "Yeah, piece of cake. Hey, you don't have anything with "cannot be frozen" on it, do you? The last Zombie whacked me with Spectral Hit, and I don't want anything slowing me down."
    "I am afraid not. But you have earned my trust, and may yet restore my faith in humanity. The only reward I can offer is --"
    "Trashing Gheed again? Speaking of which, I haven't hurt him for hours! 'scuse me a minute." She ran off. A few seconds later, another scream of agony erupted from across camp. Akara allowed herself a smile, but wiped it away before Bodiccea got back.
    With her most neutral look, Akara said, "I was thinking of training in a skill of your choice. Kashya and I have much knowledge we will be glad to share with you."
    Bodiccea made a face. "You know Inner Sight?"
    "The Sightless Eye teaches that gift. I am certain it will serve you well."
    "Cool. Better than trying to deal with Kashya."
    "Young Amazon, it pains me to see two strong women squabbling over petty differences. Perhaps I should send you for a lesson from Kashya."
    "No! Please don't! Ok, I'll be good."
    Akara nodded. "And do not merely avoid her. Smooth out your differences, or we will have no peace in this camp."
    Bodiccea kicked at the dirt. "Oh, all right. I'll deal with her. Tomorrow, ok?"
    "Of course."
     
  7. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    And chapter 3:

    The next morning, Bodiccea went to see Kashya. "Hi."
    The other woman frowned, visibly irritated and not hiding it at all. After a short silence, she finally said, "Hello."
    Gritting her teeth into a passable smile, Bodiccea said, "I just wanted to say I'm sorry if I got on your nerves. I joke about things when I'm nervous. Okay?"
    "I take it the den taught you how funny Hell's forces are." Kashya said with a smirk.
    "Oh, yeah," Bodiccea nodded, ponytail wagging up and down. "I know exactly how big of a threat they are. Now I do, I mean. Anyhoo, if we're both cool about this, I'm gonna go out to the, um, to the pass and kill some more things. Gotta get 'em all, you know?"
    "Andarial's minions are summoned straight from Hell. Our arrows send so many back where they came from every day, but their numbers never seem to diminish. The demon queen herself must be struck down."
    "Yeah, that's the idea. Still, it'll take me a while to get to the monastery. Know any local hot spots I should look out for on the way?"
    Kashya's thin lips tightened to a line. "Only one."
    Bodiccea slowly nodded, obviously waiting. "Yeah, and... ?"
    "This is a threat that shows the den to have been no more than an advanced camp for the enemy. My oldest friend, Blood Raven, fell under Andarial's evil spell. I know not how, but she is in our graveyard as we speak, raising our own dead to march against us!"
    "Whoa. What an abomination."
    "My thoughts exactly," Kashya hissed. "This cannot be allowed to continue! Blood Raven was our order's deadliest archer, even more than myself, and I am sure Andarial has warped her into something even more formidable than before."
    Bodiccea nodded, idly watching the chickens run around camp. "Sounds pretty nasty."
    "I have heard that the warriors of the Amazon isles are the best archers in the world..."
    Bodiccea smirked. "Don't think much of spears, huh?"
    "I know many ways of fighting, and the weaknesses of many weapons. Were you not so sure of yourself, I could share what I know of the way of the bow."
    "Oh, I know how to use a bow!" Bodiccea laughed, and held up her spear in her left hand like it was a bow. "You hold this part, pull back the string, then release and whap yourself in the tit like I did the last time I tried to use one."
    Kashya didn't laugh. "I see. Do not the Amazons --"
    Bodiccea quickly cut her off. "No thanks, I'll stick with spears. They're easy, you just gotta use a little stragedy! Run and dodge a lot, hit hard and fast. Simple!"
    "From what my scouts have reported, you are not as fast as Blood Raven. Attempting to close with your spear would be folly."
    "I guess I'd better work on hitting hard, then. I'll get a faster spear later. First comes the Brandistock, then a War Fork, and I'll finally work my way up a Mancatcher."
    A sudden twitch suddenly moved across Kashya's mouth, lingering at the corners, and she blinked twice. Bodiccea grinned. "Hey, did I almost see a smile?"
    "No."
    "Yes it was! You thought of a funny, didn't you? What? What? What?"
    "Nothing."
    "Aw, c'mon! I'm so sure you did!"
    "No! I didn't think of anything!"
    Glancing heavenwards in exasperation, Bodiccea sighed. "Wimp. I'll say it for you: 'But Boddy-baby, you already have two of the biggest, bounciest man-catchers in the whole wide world, what do you need another one for?'"
    Kashya glared. "That WASN'T it!"
    Bodiccea giggled. "It would have been better if it was."
    "That's something GHEED would say!"
    "Hey, thanks for reminding me!" Bodiccea bounced over to Gheed's corner of the camp, and a cry of anguish soon trumpeted out into the morning air. She came back dusting her hands. "Yuck, his undies are really crusty today. See ya!"
    As Bodiccea vanished through the waypoint, Gheed came over. He was wearing a pair of chainmail pantaloons, perhaps in the hope that having steel britches would protect him from further assaults. Unfortunately for him, the mail only made his suffering worse: they had been yanked up and over the back of his head, bending him nearly double. He had to waddle up to the fire, facing backwards, arms flailing desperately to keep his balance. "SOMEBODY GET ME A CROWBAR!!"

    Out on the Cold Plains, Bodiccea stopped to talk with Flavie. "Hey, how's it going?"
    "Same as last night. There are more Zombies, thanks to Blood Raven."
    "Don't worry, I'm on it. Which way's the graveyard?"
    "To the left. You take care. The Corrupted Rogues ahead are not to be trifled with."
    Bodiccea smirked. "I don't trifle with naked women, no matter what our audience wants."
    "Ew. Did you have to remind me of that?"
    "Sorry. Well, I'm off for my first slice of cheesecake. See ya!"

    It didn't take Bodiccea long to find her first Corrupted Rogues. A swarm of Fallen Ones were milling around a burning house. While she was drawing a dozen or so away from their Shamans, three axe-wielding Rogues showed up. They were deathly pale, with jet black hair, and some animator over at Blizzard had a good time getting all those jiggles juuuuust right. After killing them, she got the Shamans, then the inside of the house, and chased Fallen into all the corners. The Shaman in the house dropped a grand charm, a "stout" one, which didn't suit Bodiccea at all. She's not stout. Well... women should have curves.

    The Cold Plains were full of Fallen and a few Rogues. Chasing the little fartknockers down got to be a real drag. Monsters that come right up and stand there while you kill them are so much easier to deal with. Bodiccea experimented with Jab and Power Strike a few times, but hardly needed either. The mana cost was too much at this point anyway. On the plains, she found a 3-socketed spear, two chipped sapphires and a chipped ruby, gloves, a pair of boots that actually fit, and a large charm with +3 dexterity.

    Bishibosh was in a camp near the entrance to the Stony Fields. Say what you will about Blizzard's artistic choices, Bodiccea approved of making the dangerous beasties different colors. She'd already met a unique Rogue spearwoman who was beige instead of white; her only mod was Stone Skin, so Bodiccea killed her minions first. A Shaman like Bishibosh is different. When she spotted his snot-green bod on one side of the camp, she walked away, drawing a dozen Fallen after her. Once they were out of the way, she ran back, dodging fireballs, and jabbed Bishi until he exploded. He only dropped one magic item, an amulet with fire resistance. Seems like you never find what you need until after you need it.

    Bodiccea's last stop on the Cold Plains was a house with a dead Rogue on the floor. Rogues seem to die in suggestive poses a lot... maybe it's just the outfit. Next to the house was the Cave. Before going in, Bodiccea went back to the Rogue camp to dump some loot.

    Beside the wagon by Charsi's, a pale, skinny, very tired-looking man was waiting. For now, the too-full pack he'd been carrying around for years was sitting in the wagon. As soon as Bodiccea walked up, he got to his feet. "Howdy, Miss Thang! I'm the Mule!"
    "It's about time!" Bodiccea huffed, then grinned. "Whatcha got for me? Let me guess: Bloodthief, the unique Brandistock?"
    "Sorry, babe!" he shook his head. "Minimum level 17."
    "Uh... any Brandistock?"
    "Nope! You're getting the best starter equipment I've ever given ANYBODY!"
    "Really!?"
    "Yes, indeedy!" The Mule reached into his pack. "And now... for your edutainment... the one and only one we've got... Sigon's Complete Steel, minus the shield!" In one swell foop, he smashed a disorganized collection of gleaming metal plates over Bodiccea's head.
    "Wish you were a Javie, you'd get the whole thing," the Mule grinned. "No need to thank me now! Maybe later, when you get out of all that stuff. I'll be by with a spear for you when you're big enough for it. Ta ta!"
    There was a soft poof, like resident memory being reallocated. "Hey!" Bodiccea called out, her voice echoing around her ears. She could barely see in that helmet, but knew he was gone. Burnished armor plates now completely encased her body in magically hardened steel, polished like a mirror and chased with gold, from the heavy greaves on her feet up to the gleaming golden horns on the great helm. Her hair had even been braided.
    A Paladin, obviously, would cream his green jeans for this stuff. Bodiccea had her own opinions. "Hey! Get back here! I don't want this! Where's my old armor? Hey!" Nobody answered. "I'm not running around in this! How do I file a protest? HEY!!" All it did was make that ugly helmet echo. Frowning, she snarled, "Ok, that does it. CONFERENCE!"

    Bodiccea turned around, pried open the side of the Rogue camp grounds, and stepped back into the space beyond. After a short, electrifying trip, she made her way to an unused memory block where the others were waiting. They'd set up a conference room, tiled in malachite and paneled in oak, decorated with brass ornamental wirework in an art deco style. Frosted glass windows covered one wall, letting filtered sunlight fall on the white marble table that dominated the center of the floor. To the north was a fully stocked bar, with a bronze, steam-powered automaton pacing back and forth aimlessly.

    "Wow," Bodiccea said. "Nice room."
    "We borrowed the graphics from the First City Bank and Trust," Thaddeus said. "It makes this easier."
    "That explains the robot, at least."
    "Never mind the robot," Tearlach bellowed. "What is your problem, woman?!"
    "This!" Bodiccea threw Sigon's helmet down on the table with a clang, and shook the braid out of her hair. "Look at me! That stupid mule came swooping out of nowhere and without my permission, stripped me and put me in this stuff! I look like a fun house mirror! I hate heavy armor, and that damned helmet is U! G! L! YYYYYY!! I want my old stuff back, and I want it right now!"
    Amanita laughed, lighting a cigar. "Meaning you haven't teased Warriv as much as you want to yet."
    "Well, no," Bodiccea bounced on her toes. "I mean, look at this. I can't even bounce in it, my chest doesn't move at all. How am I gonna drive Warriv completely to distraction with my big guns covered up?"
    "First, you leave Warriv alone! He's nice." Xanthippe crossed her arms. "Then, you be happy you got that stuff. I would have killed for that set back then."
    Amanita looked at Xanthippe. "You'd kill if someone didn't put enough marshmallows in your cocoa."
    "I would not! I don't even like cocoa that much."

    Dear Diary,
    Of all the things to be dragged kicking and screaming out of retirement for! I will grant you, the opportunity to feast my eyes upon the Amazon is what tempted me, but now that I have done so, it is perfectly clear that "there is such a thing as too much of a good thing." From a distance, she is statuesque, an indomitable goddess in red and gold. At closer quarters, her over-abundant charms threaten to slop out of that tin suit and entomb us all in a quivering avalanche of pale, veinous flesh. However, her complaints have some merit. Personally, I wouldn't be caught dead in that hideous steel conspiracy.

    "Ladies, please!" Varnae smiled, bowing ever so slightly. "And, of course, esteemed gentlemen. Let us remember the difficulties each of us encountered on our individual long, slow roads to triumph. I feel confident in assuming that the terrors of the Rogue's Pass were neither the greatest nor most numerous of these?"
    "Speak for yourself," Xanthippe sneered. "Corpsefire almost caved my skull in."
    "Ha!" Tearlach laughed. "Only because you were too foolish to stick to your meager strengths. A Sorceress in combat! What idiocy."
    "Idiotic enough to make Matriarch, something you haven't done..."
    Tearlach grunted. "What a shame, I'll never be a Matriarch. Idiot."
    Slowly dragging a Bec-de-corbin off her back, Xanthippe hissed, "Would you like to qualify for Matriarch? I could make a lot of girls incredibly grateful..."
    "That will be enough!" Thaddeus rapped his caduceus on the table. "Xanthippe, stand down. Tearlach, you are out of line. Apologize to the lady at once."
    Eyes glinting like blue volcanoes, Tearlach slowly turned to face Thaddeus. "I will say this once. If you even think of giving me orders again, I will stomp a mudhole in your neck."
    "Yeah!" Xanthippe said. "Just 'cause you made Patriarch first doesn't make you the boss of us."
    Mizor: "Grrraaahhhh!!"
    Paige: "The boss says you should quit fighting, it's stupid. And the Amazon should be happy with Sigon's set."
    Thaddeus blinked. "How did you get all that?"
    Paige: "Practice."
    Mizor: "Rmmf." (looks smug)
    "Can't you guys at least fight over me?" Bodiccea pouted. "I don't like not being the center of attention."
    Amanita leaned against the wall, taking a draw on her cigar. "Trust me, we know."
    "Quite so," Varnae smiled. "Allow me to introduce myself: I am --"
    "Forget it, deadboy. I'm not interested."

    Dear Diary,
    Oh! Cut off so sharply, so callously! I knew something about this vision reminded me of my dear, departed deadly nightshade blossom. Her armor is also familiar; I recall recovering exactly such a suit from Baal's twitching corpse. Given the nature of our relationship, there is every reason to believe that she has chosen exactly the suit which I provided through our mutual acquaintance! Ought I to mention this? Ah, but no! I already feel the first stirrings of affection in my tender bosom, and invoking a material debt could poison any possibility of reciprocation in its infancy. She simply is not ready, perhaps due to some recent tragedy. My devotion must remain unknown to all, for now.

    Mizor: (Stares at Varnae. Why is the pale sickly man suddenly breathing funny?)
    Xanthippe rolled her eyes. "Look, you over-inflated bimbo, get this through your head: it's not all about you!"
    "Yes, it is!" Bodiccea snorted. "It's my story arc! You had your chance, it's my turn!"
    "Sorceress, I'm afraid she is right," Thaddeus muttered, a bit ruefully, before turning back to Bodiccea. "The decision is always yours, though abandoning some of the finest armor available at this point in your career seems... ill-advised."
    "There's no good reason for it!" Xanthippe shouted.
    Tearlach raised an eyebrow, a smirk growing on his face. "If she wants to go back to the skimpy leathers... no true, red-blooded man would mind. The rest of you might even agree." Thaddeus frowned. Even Varnae looked a bit insulted.
    Mizor: "Rrr..." (Hears no translation from Paige.) "Rrr?" (Looks around. Where'd she go?)

    Meanwhile, in the bar to the north, Klatu gave the little bronze robot a kick. "Does that thing ever shut up?"
    Kasim poured some beer into the robot's boiler. It shuddered to a halt and collapsed, gasping about failing to understand... creation. "That got it."
    Behind the bar, Khaleel finally broke into the cabinet where the good stuff was kept. After some chilling, he started passing it around. "So... who do you think's got the worst boss?"
    Paige: "One of you guys. Fuzzy Wuzzy's hard to figure out, but he's not so bad."
    After taking a swig of the bank's finest hooch, Klatu sighed. "Ah... it has to be me. Look at that *** out there. Turns everything into a fight."
    Paige: "I don't have to, I can hear him."
    "I can smell him," Kasim laughed. "Still, you think he's worse than deadboy?"
    "The Barb is pretty bad," Khaleel said, draining the last of one bottle, "but I gotta tell you, no one comes close to my boss for creepy."
    Paige: "Hmm, maybe. He's hitting on the Assassin again."
    "Did he live?" Kasim asked.
    "Would being dead stop him?" Klatu asked.
    "He'll probably try to dress her up," Khaleel took another long swig.
    Paige: "Assassins like to dress up. Black leather and bare butts. Bleah."
    The three male mercs stared at her, then shrugged. "Oh, I dunno..." Kasim muttered.
    Paige: (laughs) "Man, you guys are predictable."
    Khaleel laughed. "So, are you gonna drink or what? It's almost gone."
    Paige: "Yeah, gimme some." (Drains cup.) "So, what do you guys think of the Amazon?"
    All three of the men remained silent, lost in thought. Finally, Khaleel said, "She isn't even close to being as nice looking as you."
    Paige: (Rolls eyes.) "Ah, ha. What was that all about?"
    Kasim grinned. "I think it's called 'dodging a bullet'."
    Klatu patted Khaleel on the back, almost knocking him into the bar. "You speak like a man who knows the ways of women."
    "Hey," Khaleel shrugged, "I've had to hang around with deadboy this long..."

    As laughter filled the bar, Bodiccea finally shouted loud enough to make herself heard over the din in the conference room. "HEY!!"
    Tearlach looked a bit surprised. "You have good lungs, woman. I should have guessed."
    "Shut up. I have a solution to this."
    "Then speak," Thaddeus said. "Anything to resolve this mess."
    "Right," Bodiccea smiled. "I'm supposed to be a fast spearazon, right?"
    They all nodded. "So I shouldn't wear anything that slows me down. Sigon's Shelter is Gothic Plate, and slows movement by 5%. I looked it up."
    There was a stunned silence. Finally, Xanthippe blinked. "When'd you grow a brain?"
    Bodiccea grinned. "Neener, neener, neener! I'll take my leathers back, thank you. And lose that helmet. Sigon's boots, gloves, and belt are enough to get me most of the worthwhile set bonuses."
    "The armor offers lightning resistance..." Thaddeus offered.
    "I'll worry about that in Act II. Gimme my leathers!"
    Amanita laughed, and stepped out of the room. "And people think I'm the leather fanatic. Give 'em back, she's earned 'em."
    "Well..." Thaddeus sighed. "We'll tell the Mule. They'll be waiting outside the Cave."
    "Thank you, kind ladies and sirs. That will be all. Ta ta!"
     
  8. Mage11

    Mage11 IncGamers Member

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    Great work, Stony. At least not all is lost, with the Grand Tour and the EMB back up, things may return to normal soon.
     
  9. Mr_McGee

    Mr_McGee IncGamers Member

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    Hey does Orbert (I think that was his name) still have your stories up on his site? Can someone give me the link, I have to get caught up after my absence.
     
  10. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    Yep, it's Orbert. His site is at http://d2x.home.comcast.net/ but he hasn't put anything from part 7 up yet. Luckily, all of that is here now.

    Stony
     
  11. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    Oops, I already put up Orbert's site. See above!
     
  12. tragor

    tragor IncGamers Member

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    Nice work, Stony. I see I have some more reading to do. :thumbsup:
     
  13. Mr_McGee

    Mr_McGee IncGamers Member

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    Awesome! Keep up the good work Stony :)
     
  14. Nightfish

    Nightfish IncGamers Member

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    Ooh, it's still all here. :) Then I guess I'll go read it, too. :) *muttering to self* Come on Fishy, you can do it! Long threads are nothing to be afraid of!
     
  15. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    120
    It's not that long. The archived ones are long. This is nothing, yet.


    The sun shone faintly over the Rogue camp palisade when Bodiccea opened her eyes. Last night was exhausting -- wow, the Rogues know how to put on a pillow fight. Amazing how they all managed to save their best lingerie when they fled the monastery, too. Of course, Bodiccea's was the best, genuine Amazon spider-silk so sheer, you can hardly see if it's there at all. After one last snuggle under the warm blankets, she threw them off and rose to her feet. A long, languorous stretch pulled silky whispers excitingly over her bare skin. Her leathers were where she'd left them. Slowly, she fit them to her body: buckling, tightening, adjusting straps and pulling on her high boots and gauntlets. With a final shake of her hair and just a touch of red, red lip gloss, she was finally dressed to kill.

    Outside the tent, Heather was looking at her funny. "Um... what was all that for?"
    "Fan service," Bodiccea smirked. "Let's hit the trail. Oop, gotta talk to Akara first."
    Heather nodded, and walked with her. "Lady Akara was really happy to hear you defeated Blood Raven. She thinks it's kind of her fault Andarial took over the monastery, like she didn't see it coming so she's to blame for it."
    "Nah. Nobody saw it coming, that's the way it was set up."
    "You think it was planned?"
    Bodiccea rolled her eyes. "Uh, yeah. The queen of Succubi shows up, and your sisters start killing people naked? And there's all those other demons she had with her..."
    "Oh," Heather laughed a bit. "Yeah, duh. But who planned it?"
    "Diablo."
    Her eyes widened. "So you think the rumors are true?"
    "Uh-huh. He's the man of the hour." Akara was pacing back and forth in front of her tent, looking less mournful than usual. "Hi, Akara!"
    "Hello, daughter," Akara smiled warmly. "Your defeat of Blood Raven was truly remarkable. I feared that she, who I raised from a child, might be the death of all of us."
    "Yeah? So, why's she called that? I mean, who would name their kid Blood Raven?"
    "I am afraid I do not remember. More pressing matters occupy my thoughts. It is clear that we face an enemy who is difficult to comprehend, let alone combat."
    Bodiccea shrugged. "It's not that hard..."
    "My knowledge of demonkind was inadequate; I did not recognize the signs. I fear we may be lost without the advice of one wiser than I."
    "Nah, just whack Andarial. Diablo put her in there, so we kill her and --"
    "Your confidence is laudable, brave Amazon," Akara intoned. "I suspect that what you say may be true, but could not bear to send you to our monastery without being certain. There is one who may know the answers to all of our questions: Deckard Cain, the --"
    "Oh yeah! Mr. Stay-a-while-and-listen." Bodiccea grinned.
    "You know him, then. That is only natural, his reputation extends to the four corners of the world. He lived most recently in Tristram, where many of our sisters went when rumors of the Lord of Terror's reawakening began to spread. No word has come from Tristram for some time, but if Deckard Cain still lives, his learning would be invaluable for our cause."
    "Not to mention free Identify. So: how do we get to Tristram?"
    "In a stony field not far up the pass, you will find a cairn of five stones, set in a ring."
    Bodiccea nodded. "You do know that a cairn is a pile of rocks, not a ring?"
    "Yes, child," Akara said with barely detectable annoyance. "The ring is enchanted to form a gate when the stones are touched in the proper sequence."
    "Which you don't remember either, right?" Bodiccea smirked. "I mean, we can't make this easy, now, can we?"
    "The ring has not been used for some time," Akara said as Heather elbowed Bodiccea in the ribs. "The code is recorded in the bark of the Tree of Inifuss."
    "Which is in the middle of a dark scary forest?" Bodiccea said, rubbing her side and glaring at Heather.
    "Yes. You may reach the forest more quickly by means of an underground passage. The entrance is in the cliff wall near the stone ring."
    "Got it. Ok, that's enough to keep me out of trouble for one day. See ya!"

    As they walked to the waypoint, Bodiccea hissed, "Hey, what'd you hit me for?"
    "Akara is wise and good. You should be more respectful." Heather frowned. "She's been like a mother to all of us!"
    "Yeah, boring," Bodiccea stuck out her tongue. "Ok, ok, she's trying to be nice. But this quest has got to be the most irritating one in Act I. We've got to clear the Stony Field, the Underground Passage, and find both the Tree of Inifuss and the Dark Wood waypoint before we can take a break."
    Now Heather looked confused. "Um..."
    "You'll see." Bodiccea stepped on the Rogue camp waypoint. "We'll come out on the Cold Plains. Don't attack anything, just follow me to the Stony Field. Ok?"
    "Ok."

    The Stony Field entrance and the Cold Plains waypoint were almost on opposite sides of the plains. Bodiccea actually had to stop and rest, so she and Heather killed some Corrupted Rogues to pass the time. Bishibosh threw fireballs at them on their way past. Just inside the Stony Field entrance, they found a house full of Carvers.

    "These little guys are all over the place, aren't they?" Heather asked as she put an arrow through a Carver's eye.
    "Yeah, either Andarial or Diablo brought in a whole bunch of 'em. Don't know why, they're so pathetic."
    "Did you see that green one? He didn't look pathetic."
    "That was Bishibosh. He's pretty nasty."
    "Oh! Some of them were saying that before we killed them."
    "Yep." Bodiccea looked around at the now-dead Carvers. "And Colenzo, and Rakanishu."
    "Who are they?"
    "Haven't met them yet. We will, though."
    Heather blinked, then thought about it. "Oh, because if they're calling for one of them, the others are probably around too, huh?"
    "Oh, yeah," Bodiccea said, turning over the rock northwest of the house. "Hmm, socketed leather. You want to try this on?"
    "Oh, sure." Heather retreated inside the house to change while Bodiccea looked around outside. "Don't go too far!"
    "I won't. Hey, here's another rock with stuff under it."
    "Yeah," Heather called. "When people came through the pass, a lot of them used to hide stuff under the stones around here."
    "Cool. Used to be when I turned over rocks, all I'd find was worms or ex-boyfriends. You have a boyfriend, Heather?"
    "No... we're not allowed to."
    Bodiccea paused, waiting for elaboration that didn't come. "Yeah, but did you?"
    Heather came out of the house, wriggling and brushing a little dirt off the leathers. "No, I never had a boyfriend."
    "Never even tried?"
    "Nuh-uh." She looked a little bashful.
    "Ever thought about it?"
    "Well..." Heather shrugged. "Not really."
    Bodiccea shook her head. "We've got to get to work on you, girl! Everybody's got to have a boyfriend. They're too much fun not to have at least one!"
    "There's not a lot of boys around here..."
    "Gawd, I know. I'll buy you one when we hit Lut Gholein," Bodiccea grinned.
    Heather nodded, more than a little confused, and quietly followed as Bodiccea moved off.

    Just past the house was a unique Foul Crow pack, whose boss had the Holy Fire aura. "Holy my ***," Bodiccea thought, "that's a demon," but they probably didn't want to change all the aura names just because they were giving them to demons now. Beyond the crows was a small group of Skeletons, and the waypoint. Foul Crows never appeared again, and Carvers were scarce too. There were plenty of Skeletons, Hungry Dead, and Moon Clan Goatmen. They were kind of a disappointment. Goatmen looked a lot better in Diablo I.

    While Heather was plinking away at some encroaching Zombies -- they sat up and noticed HER, anyway -- Bodiccea found the Moldy Tome, and read up on the Countess. "Say, do you think they based the Countess on Countess Elizabeth Bathory?"
    "Who?"
    "The Countess! Bathed in the blood of a hundred virgins."
    "Oh!" Heather shivered. "The Bloody Countess. No one knows what her name was, it was stricken from all the records."
    "It probably was Elizabeth, she was nasty. You know, there are a lot more evil females in the Rogue pass than anywhere else. There's Blood Raven, the Countess, and Andarial."
    Heather came over and looked at the book. "Is the Countess alive?"
    "Yeah, Andarial raised her from the dead." Bodiccea closed the book. "The only other female superboss I can think of is Battlemaid Sarina."
    Slowly, Heather nodded. "I'm sorry... but sometimes, I have no idea what you're talking about."
    Bodiccea smiles, and patted her on the shoulder. "I'll explain later. There's too much to do today. Promise."

    The rest of the fields went by smoothly until they found the circle. "These stones serve some magical purpose," Bodiccea found herself saying. Ok, so the Assassin doesn't have a monopoly on crappy in-game dialogue. Heather moved in to the center of the circle, and found Rakanishu on the other side. Her first arrow set off a spray of sparks, which wouldn't have been too bad if either of them had significant lightning resistance. A voice in the back of her head reminded her that Sigon's Shelter has 30% LR... but she ignored it, and ran in to deal with l'il sparky herself.

    On her way to confront Rakanishu, Bodiccea spotted an experience shrine. A wave of fond nostalgia came over her, remembering back to the days when those were actually valuable. For old times' sake, she hit the shrine, and then Rakanishu. Her life leeching almost took care of the lightning; she was only half-dead when he fell. His reward for her? A magic ring with lightning resistance. Bastard.

    The Underground Passage was long and boring. There were Misshapen and Corrupted Rogues in the cave. Bodiccea had fun using Jab to make sure the Misshapen never got a chance to run, and when she reached level 12, got to put a point in Impale. That skill would have been really handy for Rakanishu, but too late now. On the lower level, she and Heather met a boss Rogue named Sin Skin, an even more unlikely name than Blood Raven. Maybe Andarial renamed her. The Golden Chest of Joy yielded up some Necromancer heads. They weren't that good, but heck, a girl can get to like a little head every now and then.

    At the entrance to the Dark Wood, Bodiccea said, "Heather? We need two things: the bark from the tree of Inifuss, and the waypoint."
    "Ok. What do we do then?"
    "Go back to the stone circle, make the gate to Tristram, and go rescue Deckard Cain."
    Heather nodded. "And somehow, you know he's still alive."
    "And needs to be rescued."
    "But how do you know he's still alive?"
    "'Cause it would be completely depressing if he wasn't. The world doesn't work that way. Now, let's go into the woods. Watch out for wolves."
    "The kind that throw fireballs?"
    Bodiccea grinned. "Yep."
     
  16. PowerDispatcher

    PowerDispatcher IncGamers Member

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    Absolutely, positively priceless, Stony...I can see monitor cleaning will be in order at many computers in the near future. I loved the first 6, and this has the potential to be the grandest of the tours, in my humble opinion...keep it up, these stories will be of immense entertainment value long after the 1.20 patch... :D

    John
     
  17. Karmeus

    Karmeus IncGamers Member

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    I totoally agree with powerdispatcher :D another hour lost at work (funny how I only read these when I'm at work, at home I'm usually too busy playing :teeth: )
     
  18. Stony

    Stony IncGamers Member

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    I seem to waste a lot of people's work time. Makes me wish I had that kind of job too. :D Actually, I've been waiting to use the joke about Necromancer totems for years now. The closest I got was in Varnae's story, when Charsi made a joke about forging a head. I've always wondered how a blacksmith is supposed to repair a head in a bottle.

    Stony
     
  19. Ravenforce3

    Ravenforce3 IncGamers Member

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    Simple. They're not in glass bottles; they're either in Ziplock bags or shrinkwrapped. All a blacksmith does is replace the bag or wrapping and give it another shot of embalming fluids. :p
     
  20. cloudstride

    cloudstride Banned

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    You know what I've always wondered? How does Larzuk manage to socket indestructible items? :xrollseye
     

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