You know what’s worse than trooping along a muddy mountain track in the cold?
Trooping along a muddy track in the cold, knowing that some creep is back in Blackwater Port, slandering our good name left, right and centre.
I have an idea. No, not telling you, oh my gentle reader. Not until we get it rolling. But suffice to say that youthful enthusiasm may yet change the direction of history.
Anyway, back to the log. It got colder and colder as we made our way up the mountain, until the rain and the sleet became intolerable. There were little villages on the way up so that most nights we slept in some sort of rudimentary hut. That were tolerable, but only just (and at least twice it was only by huddling up together with Wallace and Bluefish that we managed to avoid freezing to death). But the villages were getting smaller, rarer, and the weather was getting colder. Also, the pathway was changing from a nice road to a rocky track to occasionally some sort of rough cliff-side ledge with half the rock missing. We only passed travellers going the other way once, and for some reason the rest of the party didn’t want to tell them about Slimy Vernon. Shame. I could have given them some prime ideas.
Finally, we got caught out in the rain with no sign of a village or even a hut anywhere. The weather seemed to be getting worse, snow started falling, and our only chance for not being completely frozen was to huddle under the lee of a rocky overhang. It was only Maul‘s skill with weather resistance that stopped yours truly becoming a cold piece of meat as well. One good thing, speaking of cold meat – it was so cold that my tastebuds couldn’t even taste the flatgoat. Did I mention that nothing on this earth makes that stuff in the slightest bit palatable? Luckily, because we didn’t even have the means of making a fire, so we couldn’t have cooked it even if we’d wanted to. Even so, the night was miserable, and we bedded down with cold stomachs and even colder feet. Of course we wouldn’t sleep in such places without keeping a watch, and I kept mine with Maul, but I must have got some snow in my ears, because during mine and Maul’s watch I completely missed the sound of mucking great heavy footsteps. Maul didn’t, though. She decided that, should those be approaching be friendly, what better way to greet them than with the sweet sounds of hymns to the Greatness of Nimbus.
They weren’t friendly.
But then what else would you expect from Ice Trolls. The bastards charged us, and one swung at me – OWWWW! Those guys hit HARD! At least Maul’s singing had the expected secondary effect – it had nicely woken Mel and Al, which meant that as the plugugly one hit me, Mel could swing the mighty Roderick.
Or at least she could have if Roderick hadn’t been huddling in his scabbard and refusing to come out in the cold. It took a lot of pleading and yanking before he came free.
Speaking of cold, Al employed her ever-faithful (if slow-moving) fireball, which did the standard dance of “Tag” around the troll while Mel and Maul swung their mucking great weapons. I made excellent use of an Alchemists’ Fire bag, which hit the big guy right where I wanted it to. A bit of splash damage as well, but hey, these things happen, and at least Mel and Maul were a bit warmer as a result. Fricking troll swung his hips like he was hula dancing, missing that Flaming Sphere, but a fast spell onto Mel meant that our lovely Lady of Whopping was now a BIG Lady! Blows were exchanged between the troll and Mel, but of course those bastards have regenerative powers, not to mention are able to shrug off any but the worst damage. I remembered (and observed) how powerful the Alchemists’ Fire was against them, and hoiked another one in the direction of the first troll. Or was it the second? Either way, the Fire pouch bounced between them and over the side of the cliff edge, merely splattering a little on the way. Dammit. Al’s fire thing finally stayed on its target, though, and the beast fell over.
Al cast a belated Mage Armour on herself, (Maul had already blessed us), but in that short space of time, the bastard got up! DAMMIT! I thought there had been enough damage of the non-repairable sort, but no. Mel hit him hard enough to drop him again, and raised Roderick high over her head, ready to put him (and us) out of his misery.
In a massive swing, that in reality should have taken the head off the troll and had power left to chop up the second one, Mel’s grip slipped in the icy conditions, and Roderick went flying out and clanged down hard on the road.
… … To
… … … The
… … … … Edge
… … … … … Of
… … … … … … The
… … … … … … … Drop,
Teetered on the edge for what felt like forever, but was probably just a moment.
And started falling down the side of the mountain.
We could hear him.
Poor Mel was almost in tears. The second troll started laughing, almost half enough to shake his own head. Enough worrying – we had a regenerating troll to deal with. I hit at him with my dagger, which barely scratched him. Bloody damage resistance. Maul was going for the laughing dude, who hit her. But Maul swung hard with her axe, then in the same beautiful, fluid movement, passed it on to Mel.
Al recast the Flaming Nuisance Sphere again, and set it on the one that was down until it was a crispy piece of trollish critter (no I will NOT post the picture of that. There are limits. And the smell!) Mel swung the axe with a very credible swish, but it didn’t connect.
I threw my next Alchemists’ Fire, aimed at my height on the troll. And yes, chestnuts roasted on an open fiery codpiece. Maul used her spears and stabbed hard, and as the troll danced around to avoid the Flaming Sphere, Al sent the Acid out and got him.
Mel yelled something about “FOR RODERICK” and swung the axe, which connected this time with a very satisfying “ker-CHUNK!” This took the bastard down, and Al got her fire to hover on him until he, too, was a roasting sizzle hunk of troll-meat, well done and charred in places.
We had 50 feet of rope each, so while Maul threw a positive energy burst on us while Al and I tied the ends to make 200 feet of lovely long line, minus a couple of feet for the knots and for the rope harness around me. We also anchored it on Bluefish, in case we needed an extra pull-up. Then, over I went. The rocks were slippery, and dark, and very very cold, but poor little Roderick was whimpering and howling, and needed to be saved. I got down to him, and carefully tied him to a spare loop of rope before starting the assisted climb back up. Poor Roddy had a nasty chunk out of the side of his blade, and was quite battered and bruised. I got over the top of the rise…
… then Mel kissed me!
Then she promised Roderick the services of a good weaponsmith. Or at least I think she did – I spent the next minute or two in the thrall of some sort of bliss-distraction-spell, I think. Failed my save on that one rather badly. Never mind – I think it had more positive effects than anything else.
Anyway, the good mood was quickly dispelled by the need to check out the troll’s sacks. Which were, as you’d expect, pretty disgusting. Slimy. Bits of … let me say that that’s one dwarf who won’t be resurrected easily. Despite being a follower of Torag. So much for careful planning, although the “avoiding the sun” bit may have been what met this one up with the troll in the first place. Oh well. Bit late now. The body bits had a Holy Symbol of Torag caught up in the beard (no guarantee of being male, though. Or female. Bloody dwarves). We wrapped
him her them up in a rag and stashed her him them in the haversack
A wand and a scroll in a case fell out of one bag, and a variety of coins and jewellery to the value of about 500gp, which will help make up the cost of what will probably be a fairly expensive repair on poor Roderick. That, and the two dwarvish axes which we scavenged from the charred remains of the two trolls, before booting them over the edge of the cliff to bounce hard all the way down.
So we cleaned up as best we could, Maul did more of her lovely healing on us, then we went back to sleep. And in the morning, Maul used a spell of “Make Whole” on Roderick, to last us until we could get him fixed. I didn’t like to say it, but while at a distance it looked ok, up close that repair was rather noticeable.
So in the morning, we started hiking back up the mountain, in a fairly wary state. Until we heard the sound of a large and clanky group coming down the mountain towards us. Maul gasped “Bandits!” and hauled us all into the shelter of a convenient boulder, just as I was about to greet the newcomers. In fact, the silly half-orc put her hand over my mouth so I couldn’t let her know that her “bandits” were actually a bunch of dwarves with the same symbol on as our mystery body. Luckily, the others in our party realised this, and stepped out of the overhang to greet the newcomers. Turns out our body-in-the-bag was a dwarvish fighter by the name of Rorich, who had come afoul of the trolls. Used to be there was a giant in the land, until they left or went missing or something (How in Irori’s name do you lose a giant?) and then the trolls became a bit of a problem.
So the dwarves, who had to continue on their patrol, lent us one of their number, a fighting lass called Donerik, who accompanied us back to Venarik’s Deep. She wasn’t impressed at being sent back, as she had only just been allowed to go on patrol and didn’t want to miss any of it. However, I sympathised with her, and by the time we got within sight of the granite tower, she was quite chatty. It was still quite a way to walk, so we spent the night in one of the fortresses the dwarves were building on the side of the pathway, and headed out the next morning after a fine breakfast of yet more bloody flatgoat. I vote we make it the key ingredient in a Northport competition of Iron Chef, see if any of them can make it edible.
So the secret ingredient is … flatgoat! Each chef has to create dishes that maintain the theme of the …
I’m sorry, but both chefs have taken off their aprons and gone to the pub. They said that their honour was not a match to this ingredient, and only a madman would do it.
Hmmmm. Maybe I should ask Al to cook it instead one day. With acid. It can’t be any worse than it is.
We walked along the pathway until lunchtime, when we settled down for a nourishing and rich repast of more flatgoat. As we ate, I noticed something in the sky, that wasn’t so much flying as hurtling along. The odd tube we’d found before turned out to be some sort of spy glass, so I used it to see what the object was.
It was a sack.
A sack that was heading straight towards us!
I yelled, and we all scrambled off the road as the sack came screaming down, and exploded in a puff of chalk dust in front of us. Seems that was what they fire out of their trebuchets when they’re practising.
Weirdos. I bet we’d have been far safer if they had been aiming at us.
The walls themselves, though, are amazing in their makeup – huge stones cut in odd shapes, big as houses, and locked together by virtue of their configuration. We were met at the front gate by a dwarvish high-dude, who spoke with Denerik before thanking us for bringing their partial brother back to them. We did offer to pay our respects at the farewell ceremony, but they said bluntly that it was a Dwarvish ceremony only. Not a problem – I prefer blunt talk. Easier to understand. Denerik led us into their edifice, and to a weaponsmith, who was happy enough to take the two axes we’d taken from the trolls in exchange for fixing Roderick. They also confirmed that the weapons we’d taken off the bugbears were of their make, the sort that was shipped for the export market.
And then we headed for a quiet night (at last) in the merchant quarters. Oh, and dinner.
MM Used: 0 leaves 46.
CLW used: 0 leaves 45
XP: 800 – takes Mel, Al and Cog from 12317 to 13117, Maul from 11394 to 12194