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Another Time, Another Place
Issue 3, Story 1
Robert Elvis Slade Story 2

The first scene of this second chapter of Robert Elvis Slade will be packed with a lot going on at once; layout is going to be difficult here.

As you recall, Slade has just emerged from the dungeon complex to see a group of adventurers—a fighter in armor (plate mail—formed sheets over broad areas, with chain filling the gaps), a thief (thick leather vest, sleeves, and leggings), and a wizard (loose fitting robes).  They were startled by the appearance of this tired, grimy, blood-spattered stranger in unfamiliar clothing.  It is from this moment that we proceed.
"After weeks under ground, Robert Slade has just emerged from his dungeon trek to be confronted by three men..."  Fighter draws and extends sword; fighter:  "Stand your ground!"  Slade raises his hands, palms outward, saying:  "Hey, I don't want trouble."  The torch and toolbox are falling. Toolbox hits the ground "Crasshh"
Others startled, Fighter retains composure:  "Hands at your side, wizard,"  "or I'll cut them off at the wrists!" Slade lowers hands.  "Wizard!?  Is that what you think?"  "No, I'm no wizard--"
"I'm an auto mechanic!"  Wizard:  "Auto-mechanic?  A machine that builds itself?" Slade:  "A what?  No--"  "I'm a mechanic."  "I fix cars--er, machines."  Fighter:  "Ah--an artillerist."  "He works with siege engines."  Slade:  "Yeah...something like that."
Thief:  "I say we kill'im--"  "he's after the bottle, and he knows something."  Wizard:  "Quiet, thief.  I'll not kill someone for what you think he knows." Slade:  "Look, I don't mean to be rude, but"  "have you guys got anything to drink?"  "I could really use a beer."
Everyone stares blankly for a moment. Everyone laughs.
Tavern interior, simple wooden plank and beam, bar, stools, primitive tables.  Three adventurers and Slade each with simple mug of opaque pottery or pewter.  Slade has a bowl of stew.  Wizard:  "So, Slade--what were you doing in the Dungeons of Coriander?" Slade:  "Aw, Omigger, you wouldn't believe it--"  "I'm not sure I believe it myself."  "I was worlds away, and suddenly I was attacked--"
Slade:  "I was sitting in the dark in your dungeons."  "Took me, I don't know..."  "days?  maybe weeks?"  "to find my way out."  Fighter:  "Tell us about it." Image of Slade sitting in dungeon:  "Well, Torelle, I woke up in the dark, and by the time I got a light going,"
Image of dog attack.  "I was attacked by this three-headed dog.  Once I got rid of him,"  "I figured I had to find my way out--" Image of climbing stairs.  "and so I started looking for paths that went up."  "There were lots of rooms, lots of tunnels, lots of stairs--"
Image of climbing chimney.  "at one point I was climbing up a chimney, or something like it..."  Thief:  "What's a chimney?"  Wizard:  "Hush!" Combat image.  Slade:  "And I was attacked by several strange creatures."  "Fortunately, I had that torch--"
Image of junk room.  "found it in a room full of old junk, bottles and stuff...."  Adventurers together:  "BOTTLES!?!" Back to table.  Fighter:  "Where were these bottles?"  Wizard:  "Do you think you can take us there?"  Thief:  "How much do you want?"  Slade:  "Slow down!"
Slade:  "I found the bottles almost immediately,"  "and I've been lost down there for..."  "well, forever,"  "and I wasn't making a map--"  "I wasn't even a boy scout, so it wouldn't be worth much if I was."  "Now, I suppose I might be able to find my way back--"  "I would at least recognize some of the places I've been--"  "but why in Odin's name would I want to?"  "I just got out of that place--and in case you haven't guessed,"  "I wasn't having fun." Wizard:  "I think he must be told."
All sit back.  Wizard:  "Many years ago, our great great great great great grandfather..."  Thief:  "We're cousins, sort of."  Wizard:  "...Baron Rolgar of Coriander" Image of battle.  Wizard:  "was at war with Count Tork, lord of the castle across the valley."  Slade:  "Who started it?"  Fighter:  "You ask the strangest questions."
Image of magic ceremony.  Wizard:  "Count Tork, eager to win, forged an alliance with the Caliph of the West Wind."  Slade:  "The who?" Continued battle, add djinn images.  Wizard:  "He's a djinn lord--an elemental spirit of the air."  "Once the djinn were in the war, all seemed lost for the Baron."  "He couldn't defeat the djinn with mortal forces,"  "and dared not forge an alliance with the efriit."
Different magic ceremony.  Wizard:  "In desperation, he struck on a bold plan:"  "he trapped the Caliph in a bottle."  Fighter:  "It was a good idea, but it went bad." Image of djinn destroying castle.  Fighter:  They destroyed the castle and killed the Baron;"  "and they swore it would never be rebuilt as long as their caliph was imprisoned--"  "and with the castle destroyed and the baron dead, no one knew where he was."
Back in the tavern.  Wizard:  "At this point, the King intervened, and severely punished the Count for unleashing the powers of the elements on so great a scale,"  "and against another noble at that."  "So the war was ended, and no one won anything."  Fighter:  "But the djinn have kept their word." Thief:  "The point is, we can't rebuild our ancestral home"  "until we find the bottle and free the djinni."
Slade:  "Look, I don't know a lot about this stuff--"  "but don't you get wishes when you free a djinni from a bottle?" Fighter:  "Well...Yes...there is that."  Thief to Wizard:  "And you thought he didn't know anything."
Slade:  "O.K., maybe I can do this."  "First, you have to understand that I'm not a non-stop express to the bottle;"  "I'm just a guy who's been there,"  "and should recognize some of the landmarks along the way."  "Second, you've got to give me a weapon, and teach me how to use it--"  "and maybe teach me some other stuff, so I'm not helpless down there."  "Oh, and I'll need some other equipment--"  "not a lot, but some."  "Third, we're partners--"  "whatever we get, it's a four-way split.  Agreed?"
Fighter:  Torelle; Wizard:  Omigger; Thief:  Filp.  Suggest changes if you like.
Slade and fighter in sword fight. Fighter:  "No,'re using that sword like it's a mace..."
Fight slackens.  Fighter:  "in fact..." Fight stops.  Fighter:  "maybe it would be easier just to teach you to use a mace."
Scene of wizards study/lab.  Wizard to Slade:  "Weapons are all well and good,"  "but they're no match for the release of supernatural power."  "But you need to begin with the simpler things--"  "transfer too much power through yourself, and it can destroy you." Slade working with some metal pipe, heating with torch and bending/fusing.

Slade is making a custom pack rack.  The metal frame will hold his tool chest at the bottom, with a small leather pack above it for other things.  There will be two "shelves", not more than a squared loops of pipe coming out the frame large enough to support the tool chest between them, which is curved slightly across the back.  There’s padding between the metal from and the wearer’s back, a pair of shoulder straps, and a padded waist belt.  I’m thinking that copper or bronze pipe would be available for such a thing in this milieu—anyone have any thoughts on that?
The foursome is standing in front of the cave entrance.  Slade is wearing the backpack/rack with the toolchest at the bottom.  Slade:  "O.K., boys--let's rock and roll!" To be continued....

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