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Gustav Myrthenbaum the Bounty Hunter (Davy White)
Falco the Apothecary (Michael Morgan)
Hargrin the Troll Slayer (Kevin Bronakoski)
Bran the Amber Wizard (David Crapper)
On River Trolls and Their Slayers
We continued our pursuit of the Troll and pulled into the small town. A frantic Halfling was trying to wave us down on the run-down pier. As we closed, we could see it was that nefarious skid mark’s sister, Dumpling. We tossed her a rope and she loosely secured the boat. There was a huge explosion of wood and a massive water plume. The dreaded River Troll, our Dwarf’s quarry erupted from the jetty and Dumpling was thrown far into the river.
As the rest of us recoiled, dove for cover, or simply fell back, Hargrin leapt from the heaving boat to the destroyed dock, both axes flashing out. With a roar the troll brought down its massive paw, destroying more of the jetty. Hagrin was in a tumble roll, one of the axes disappearing through the side of the troll. The cry was ear splitting. Little Gustav frantically raced back and forth barking, but thankfully could not get to the dock.
I watched in horror as the arm I had raised to shield myself began sprouting horrid thick hair. I could feel it all over my body. Sprouting and bristling. This is it I thought, the final transmutation of my very physical self, succumbing to the ruinous power that had already marked me as damned. Enraged, I was up and the crossbow loosed it’s bolt. It flew true, despite the noise and chaos and I saw it disappear into the gut of the fell beast. Only then did I hear Bran’s voice over the din, letting us know that Ghur’s power was with each of us and we could draw on the very reserves of the earth’s power.
The troll swung again and again, this time with an old anchor that it must have found ages ago, lost in the muck. The slayer, preternaturally rolling away from each and every blow, somehow finding an undamaged piece of the jetty to get to. A flash and the unmistakable draw of power. The sudden smell of fresh cut wood and a stake of wood or bone or both struck the beast in the shoulder, pluming with dark ichor. If it noticed it was hard to tell. More of the wizard’s conjuring. Thinking I saw an opportunity, I dove in but the enraged beast was fury incarnate and it was impossible to get close enough to land a blow. I lacked the dwarf’s skill and fearlessness and could only try and distract it.
Falco, beside me at this time, cried out and pointed. The slayer appeared on the back of the monster, and there is no other way to describe it, was climbing the back of the thing with his axes, as though climbing an ice wall with picks. The troll, mad with anger tried, but could not reach the dwarf with his gruesome purchase and position. There was a terrible exaltation and with three mighty whacks, the slayer was through the neck and the head tumbled to the ground. The body flailing for far too long to be natural.
There was a sudden stillness and we all sat in silence, not sure what had exactly happened and how Hargrin had managed to survive this one-sided encounter. He looked lost, in that moment. Like a failure, strangely. Wet, chest heaving. It is impossible to say but I swear I saw tears on his cheeks, though I never did broach the subject with him. I mean him no shame.
It was Bran that was the first to collect himself, examining the troll. The beast had another ear with a stone set in it, clasped in its claw. Bran took the ear, interested in the stone work. I stumbled forward and noted that the fat itself was a prize but the others did not believe the well documented fact that troll fat makes one impervious to disease.
It was at this point we realized Dumpling was in the water, and Falco dove into to save her. I saw real concern on his face and to this date I am unsure of that relationship. Bran as well jumped in, after disrobing, looking more like a beast. A hairy comet with a pig’s bladder flotation device. With some shouting and flailing Bran was able to find her. We hauled the pair back.
Looking at her face, so similar to that of her dastardly brother filled me with the darkest thoughts. Before she expired she told us that Gerhard had collected her brother and my heart leapt. Now I would have a chance to exact some bloody revenge for the outrage I had suffered because of him.
Falco now swam back with the body of some poor soul whose very body had revolted against him. I can sympathize with this poor fellow now. Clearly these bodies had floated down from Castle Wittgenstein.
Seeing this, Bran turned into his Raven form. Watching him transform his own body back and forth without any ill effects and drawing on this energy so freely disturbs me more than it clearly ever did him. He flew off and was back quick enough with news that a small group of starving locals was coming towards us.
This dreadful lot approached us and they pawed and mewed for food. Falco gave the wretches some of his rats and they devoured these in the most appalling manner. Hagrin issued the darkest threats but these barely got through to them in their state. We had to resort to near violence to get them to back off just a little.
We had however, arrived close to the dreaded castle Wittgenstein, and we headed towards the village, set there under the oppressive shadow of the fortress….
by Gustav (aka Davy White)
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