The party desperate to find an alternate way into the tower search the ruins. While searching ramparts the stumble into Kal Clewsoro’s camp. Kal Clewsoro upon meeting the party is cocky and mistrustful. Tensions flair.
Furious with Anger Garrick shouts out “We were here first and we’ll go where we want”. Kor the Minotaur laughs heartily with pride seeing his Wizard friend display such machismo. Two burly looking men wearing hide armor drop their axes and stand behind Kal with their arms crossed flexing their muscles. Kal sheathes his short sword and yells “Alright boys let’s give ‘em some lumps they won’t forget.” It’s been a while since the crew has seen a good brawl and they are more than eager to oblige. p. One of the burly savage looking men lunges forward squarely punching Cordio in the stomach. Cordio grimaces but it takes a lot more than a hard punch to take down a dwarf. The adventures respond in kind. Dvengar throws down his sword and begins his attack with powerful right hook. Members of Kal’s crew wince at the viciousness of the blow.
Kor follows Dvengar’s lead and takes a mighty (unarmed) swing at whomever of Kal’s crew is closest. He then shifts around his chosen marked target not provoking attacks from him and pretends that he knows a lot about pugilism. Cordio regains his composure after the punch to his gut and reverently places his hammer in its belt loop while glaring, with unbroken eye contact, at his attacker. Then Cordio punches him with all he’s got in the gut and before he can get his wind back Cordio pushes past him with his shield in his face. Cordio continues pushing forward, sucking up any feeble response against him, until he is adjacent to Kal. He then fixes his glare on Kal and says, “We wanted to help you. This fight was your choice”.
As the fists started flying, Garrick recalls his training begun under the overseer of Vampire Lord S’guryn, back in his homeland of Thay. The lessons were short as the overseer was a cruel man who delighted in torture; if you did not learn from words, the whip became your teacher. And so Garrick learned quickly – most of the time. The overseer was insistent on training for their apprentice Red Wizards; a lack of combat training had killed more than one wizard, and the Vampire Lords did not hide their displeasure from their underlings. The so-called combat lessons usually involved having his leg tied to a stake at the bottom of a pit, and either having things thrown at him or another slave with a club was ordered to beat him. While this delight was carried out, the fat overseer would shout instructions at him…”Do not dodge the blow…merely be where it is not!” Or “Do not try to hit him…merely strike where he is vulnerable!” His personal “favorite” was the fat overseer spitting as he shrieked with laughter, “Do not wince when you are struck…merely think you are tough!” This would go on until he was knocked unconscious, whereupon the bastard clerics would heal him and it would start over.
After hours of this, exhausted and beaten, is when the lessons from books began – with slave-student apprentices failing to answer questions sent back to the pits. Legion are those who failed and died, while very few gave up – as families were literally held hostage. Garrick’s sisters had “disappeared” in this manner, as his youngest brother had fled the brutal training. It was not long after this th-
…Wrenched back to the present as a punch landed on jaw, he saw a tall warrior yell and swing again at him; instinctively he applied his hard-learned lessons and positioned where he thought the blow would not strike. The burly warrior missed and, now stumbling off balance, his helmet slid and exposed his neck. Garrick did not hesitate before striking where his enemy was vulnerable. Grinning thinly, he grudgingly admitted hard-learned lessons did not fade fast – or so he thought. Kor, thinking again how similar in behavior minotaurs and humans can be- charges Kal and attempts to knock him down with a powerful headbutt. As he is running he imagines the stunned look on Kal’s face as Kor stands over him and laughs. A glimmer of doubt surfaces in his mind as he remembers a time where he charged some brigand invading his town but tripped on tree root in the dark and fell down a well, but the memory fades as quickly as it came.
The moment Cordio finishes reminding Kal that this fight was his choice; Kor gores him viscously with both horns. Cordio chuckles as he watches Kal crash to the ground with an odd mixture of confusion and pain on his face. Cordio heals himself of the bruises received from Kal’s Boys as he steps over to Kal, puts a boot on his neck and says, ”If you wish to live, you will stay down and call off your boys.” Cordio, being an honorable dwarf, has no wish to kick an un-armed man while he is down. However, if Kal wishes to fight to the death, Cordio will oblige him.
As Cordio awaits Kal’s answer he marvels at the stupidity of men. It is true that he would not hesitate to engage in open combat against any odds if it be Moradin’s will. But to even consider losing your life because of selfish pride in a fight with those who are not your enemy is simply foolish. Many times he has fought other dwarves over points of pride or gold. But it is never to the death for part of honor is to know when you are defeated and to accept it. Well, Cordio thinks, I suppose if you can only expect to live 75 years (if you are lucky) it is not much to lose.