The cast of heroes
Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the partyBardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar
NPC (Human Ranger) - the traveller
NPCs (Human Villagers) – troll hunters
The Village (day 28 continued)
The party spent a great part of the morning discussing how to trap and kill the troll. Bardan and Rioja remained in the village sourcing the equipment that would be required to carry out their task of gaining a Troll’s heart; bear traps, chains, lamp oil, lime, spikes, hammers etc. and a cow to use as bait. Arken seemed to have disappeared whilst all of this preparation was going on. Knil and Korum went scouting in the forest where they found fresh tracks. They followed them looking for a suitable place for an ambush, but much of the daylight had been used up, so they decided to head back to the village before the Darkness came back.
That night, the party again holed up in the cottage but found that their guide from the previous few days had joined them there; he slept soundly in a chair by the fire. The usual precautions were taken to keep the Darkness at bay and the party settled down for the night with their usual setting of watches whilst Arken slept and recovered his spells. There were the usual sounds of mayhem and destruction from the direction of the village, so the party awoke their guide and he confirmed that he could hear them. Worried for his family and friends he requested that the party do something but they responded that it was too risky. However, Rioja asked his new found familiar to scout around. The cat cautiously snuck outside and moved into the village but found that the Darkness and high winds only affected those in the cottage. It seemed that the familiar was either immune from the effects of the Darkness or could see through the illusion.
As the noise and disturbances were quite overwhelming, and the party could no longer sleep, Arken gave out a little more information about their mission. The orb he was carrying contained the spirit of a friendly dragon. The items they needed to find would help release him so that he could fight his nemesis Nephyrous; an evil dragon whose symbol was the five-pointed star. Nephyrous, in response to the threat, split off three parts of his spirit; a beast, a spirit and a hawk. If these were destroyed, it would make it easier to defeat him.
As the forest was quite a distance away (about three hours), Knil and Korum set out on their scouting mission again, this time accompanied by their usual guide who knew the environs better than they. They gave him a description of the type of place they were looking for; a glade with a good area for a cross-fire with an overhang so that the missile armed troops were out of reach of the troll, and trees up which the adventurers could conceal themselves whilst the trap unfurled. The guide knew of a place that could be of use although it didn’t match their requirements exactly. The two adventurers made a quick sketch of the area and returned to the village again as the light started to fade.
Upon their return to the cottage, they tracked down the rest of the party to discuss the plans for the ambush. Arken was still missing, but after a short while he came bursting through the door of the cottage all covered in mud. The party asked him where he had been and what he had been up to for the last couple of days. He didn’t reply except to ask everyone to follow him to the storage barn next to the cottage. The stench upon approaching the shed was over powering. Upon opening the door of the barn, the adventurers jumped back in fright – inside the store was a small horde of newly resurrected zombies, fresh from the local graveyard.
Arken explained that he had raised the dead in order to use them as a shield to aid them against the troll in the upcoming combat. Not wanting to sleep in the vicinity of the zombies due to the smell, and following a conversation that Rioja and Korum had been having, the party decided to split for the night. Arken and Bardan remained with the zombies, but Knil, Korum and Rioja spent the night in another of the empty cottages that overlooked their normal cottage but was some distance away. Arken and Bardan were soon beset by the usual high winds and Darkness, but the rest of the party passed the night away in perfect safety. Kima was sent out to investigate again, and he returned to mention that the Darkness was most definitely centred around and over the people carrying the orb.
The Ambush is set (day 30)
The ranger, thief and their guide set off into the forest again with all of their equipment to set up the ambush. They placed the bear traps, chained them to numerous trees, dug a small ditch around the area they would use for the ambush, filled it with combustibles and oil, and then the ranger covered it all so that no trace of their presence would be found. As they left, he erased all of their tracks. They made their way back to the village and settled down for sleep.
Whilst they were away, the rest of the party made their preparations, including asking for half-a-dozen of the village’s finest archers to accompany them and the guide. They were assured they would be away from danger to assuage any reluctance they may have had in accompanying the party. Far from being nervous, the village archers were positively looking forward to revenge.
of Troll Glade (day 31) Battle
The party of adventurers and villagers (with the bait cow in tow) set out early in the morning with the forthcoming encounter foremost in their minds. They were resigned to spend the next few days camped out in the glade come what may. Upon arrival, the archers and the guide took position at the top of the rise; a good platform to launch their missiles from. The rest of the party took up their positions and then Knil went around the glade erasing all tracks before finally clambering up the tree he would be stationed in.
The day wore on and the flies began to buzz around everyone far more than they ordinarily would. The reanimated corpses stank a little bit more in the growing afternoon heat. Close to mid-afternoon, the cow started to moo and move around in an agitated fashion, limited only by the rope tied around its neck to a tree.
An hour and a half passed without much more happening, when the cow started to become agitated again. Knil spotted movement between the trees and heard the thump of heavy footsteps approaching. A few moments later a huge troll, at least fourteen and a half feet tall, emerged from the forest and into the glade. It sniffed the air cautiously and came to a stop just outside the ring ditch of oil and combustibles. Korum thought at first that it had detected the oil, but upon further consideration realised that it could smell the rotting cadavers towards the hill. The troll was obviously confused between the smell of rotting flesh and the very much alive cow that was struggling to put more distance between itself and the troll. Overcoming its confusion, the troll advanced upon the cow now bucking franticly to escape; why turn down fresh meat if it was so easily within its grasp? The troll advanced further into the glade, but upon reaching the centre its large feet snagged on the chains that tethered the bear traps together. It stumbled to its knees without setting off any of the traps, but Korum saw his chance. He let loose with a crossbow bolt with thin, but strong, cord attached. The bolt thumped unnoticed into the ground next to the great beast. Arken, seeing that now the trap had been sprung they couldn’t afford for the troll to escape them, cast a Bless spell on his small zombie horde, but he had miscalculated. All but one of the resurrected villagers crumbled to dust. The surviving cadaver advanced slowly into combat with the troll.
Korum blew his whistle to get the villagers shooting. Bardan, from his tree hide-out, threw his canister of lime at the troll’s face but missed. The troll, confused by the noise and commotion, but only just back on its feet struck out in blind fury, tearing huge chunks out of the last zombie. This confusion allowed all of the missile shooters to get a few shafts off. Korum and Knil both missed but the volley from the villagers was slightly more successful as one shaft found its target.
Everyone had by now overcome the shock that they were in a serious combat and got on with their allotted tasks. Bardan leapt axe first from the tree he was in, causing a grievous wound in the troll’s side. Unfortunately this meant he also lost his balance and fell to the floor. Seeing that there was still only the troll visible in the glade, the archers fired again. Knil and two of the archers’ flights hit true but in the excitement, Korum fumbled and dropped his crossbow. Rioja’s Magic Missile more than made up for this and the troll roared in anger, pain and confusion as the pyromantics hit it squarely in the chest.
Bardan regained his feet and swung his axe. The troll, expecting this, caught Bardan a grievous blow with its claws and Bardan’s axe swung round taking off the head of the cow tied nearby. The wound that Bardan had caused the troll previously was already beginning to heal!
Korum, seeing his friend in mortal danger scrambled down from his tree and raced to Rioja’s hiding place yelling for the healing potions. More arrows poured into the glade but only Knil hit the troll this time. Another spell from Rioja hit the troll causing it more agitation but this only wound it up further into a battle fury causing Bardan more harm with its claws.
Bardan, staggering under the impact of so many grievous wounds could do nothing but take another strike from the troll’s claws. A few more arrows found their mark and Rioja’s magical strike hit the troll again thus preventing it from hitting the advancing Arken. Arken called upon his god, Din, to rain fire upon the troll not knowing that Rioja’s cantrip had now lit the ditch of flammable liquid that chose that very moment to explode into seven foot flame. The villagers were impressed.
More arrows are fired into the melee and the troll was hit in the head. This wound drove it into increased fury but it could not see its attackers for the black blood pouring from its wound into its eyes. Fortuitously, this allowed Korum to pull Bardan from the combat and administer a potion of Extra Healing to him. Arken took his position in the combat.
The flames now cut off the troll’s escape but also meant that Arken, Bardan and Korum were still within the circle and at the troll’s mercy. The archers on the rise kept up their barrage, but no sooner did the arrows hit than the troll started to heal. However, the numerous wounds it had taken were starting to take their toll and the brute seemed to be getting weaker. Bardan, angry at being beaten by such a big, dumb critter, and having to rely on the cheeky Halfling to rescue him, swung his mighty axe. This struck the troll at the exact same time as a particularly well aimed shot by Knil. The troll tumbled to the ground and a great cheer arose from the villagers. Before it could rise again, Bardan hacked off its hands, feet, limbs and finally its head, whilst Korum distastefully picked up the pieces and threw them into the surrounding fire pit.
Arken moved in to remove the heart, and Rioja climbed own from his tree with the urn to take it. Unfortunately, the heart was too large to fit into the receptacle. Rioja’s troll lore came to the fore - he remembered that the troll parts would try to reassemble and then regenerate. He asked Arken to chop the heart into several pieces and place those pieces into the urn. Arken, not sure what might happen to the heart, took two of the pieces back out and saw that they tried to rejoin and heal. He stuffed them back into the urn, which seemed to stop that process. The floor of the glade where they fought the troll was fired to remove any trace of the beast.
The party returned to the village, the archers celebrating wildly all the way and recounting the shots they made in their part of the battle, but the guide was quieter; he had seen what the troll had done to his best friends.
Upon arrival, the villagers broke out the ale and a great party spontaneously broke out in the tavern. Around , Arken realised that the Darkness would be returning soon and as he did not want the villagers subject to its forces, called for his companions to return to their usual cottage. That night the wind howled furiously and all torches and fires were quickly extinguished – even those set inside the fireplace. The continual light cast upon the unicorn models also faded and winked out. Arken was worried and spent the rest of the night trying to keep the Darkness at bay.
Interlude (day 32)
Morning could not come too soon. As the first rays of light broke the horizon, the party stepped outside the cottage to see if it was just another illusion. The cottage and surrounding gardens had been severely damaged by the storm, but the rest of the village was OK. One of the archers from the ambush party came by to make sure they were alright. He also mentioned there would no doubt be treasure in the troll’s lair as much stuff had been stolen from the village over the years. The adventurers set out, after a hearty breakfast, and picked up the troll’s spoor. Knil tracked the troll’s footprints to a large cave. Korum edged in nervously and poked around in a huge pile of furs with his trusty ten foot pole. Happy in the knowledge that nothing was lurking in the heap, he thrust aside the old furs, clothes and rusted weapons to find a vial containing a bright red liquid, an unblemished suit of ring mail and a small pouch that quickly disappeared into the folds of his cloak without the others seeing.
Upon their return to the village, they realised that the archer had sent them off in search of treasure to divert them away from the preparations for a huge party on the village green. Huge haunches of venison, slabs of salt pork and large kegs of ale were brought forth. The villagers sure knew how to throw a party, with music all night, bonfires all around and many a comely maid to dance with, the adventurers did not notice that the Darkness did not return that night.
Back to the Tower (day 33-36)
Nursing sore heads and queasy stomachs the party rose the next morning and made preparations to collect on the mayor’s offer of a reward for proof of the slaying of a troll. They decided to head back to the wizard’s tower to collect their horses and wagon. The three day journey passed uneventfully but Arken managed to get their permanent light sources back up to strength. On the afternoon of the fourth day they arrived back at the town.
The Boys are back in Town (late afternoon - day 36)
Upon approaching the gate guards, they were again called to halt and state their business. Korum recounted the promise of a reward for proof of a dead troll, and that they had just that proof. He reached for the urn, uncorking it as he approached the guards. The guards’ guffaws stuttered in their throats, they turned pale and the captain fainted when he saw two parts of troll heart begin to knit together in Korum’s bloody hands.
The party made their way to the mayor’s office to collect their reward. At first the mayor is not convinced, thinking that the party were just playing a parlour trick on him. He called forth his trusty adviser who cast a few spells and observed the party’s movements. He declared the party were telling the truth, and that it was indeed a troll heart they had within their urn.
The opening offers of reward were derisory, and the party made their dissatisfaction known. Eventually an offer of 4000 gold is demanded but the mayor stuck fast that he could not afford more than 3000 gold. A compromise was sought; Arken offered that if his fellow adventurers were given 1000 gold each, his share could be offset by exempting his temple from future taxation. Rioja followed suit and declared he also would forego his share in return for a tutorial with the mayor’s magical adviser. This was agreed upon.
Rather than spend any more of their hard earned reward, the adventurers headed back to the wizard’s tower to work out what to do next. They had two of the artefacts required but no clue on how to gain the third. They would have to return to the first town in which they met to track down the aged patron and seek his advice.