Our Cast of Players:
- Achmed (Dave): Human Thief, level 7.
- Albrecht (Rick): Human Priest, level 6.
- Kaji (Ian): Human Wizard, level 6.
- Pioden (Craig): Elf Warrior/Wizard/Thief, level 4/4/5.
- Randall (Alan): Halfling Bard, level 6.
- William (Max): Human Warrior, level 6.
Total XPs awarded from the previous session: 4,860
After the discovery of the letter begging for help in the tree, a lengthy discussion ensues over what to do next. After some considerable time has passed, Achmed wearies of the debate, climbs aboard the cart and urges the horses on, steering off the track and around the mysterious tree, on towards Garland’s Fork. The rest of you follow suit.
The track meanders through the light forested Stagwood and soon enough the village of Garland’s Fork comes into sight, nestled in a wide area cleared of trees. In truth, it is almost too small to be glorified with the title of “village”, seeming to consist of no more than two farm houses, a blacksmith’s shop, and a small inn, with a well placed centrally between them. The inn is a two storey square building with a thatched roof, and what appears to be a small stable tucked around the back. Hanging over it is a sign reading “Fork’s Rest”.
There is no sign of any activity in the village and all seems quiet as you cautiously approach, dismounting from your horses as you reach the first farmhouse, lying to the left of the road. The front door has been torn off its hinges and lies on a small patch of overgrown lawn. William unsheathes his sword and bends down to step through the small doorway. Beyond lies a kitchen with a small eating area. All of the furniture is overturned, the cupboards are open, and plates and storage jars lie in broken pieces on the floor. If there ever was anything of value in here, or even anything to eat, it has been stripped out. Apart from the doorway he entered through, there are two exits – a door leading further into the farmhouse and one that looks as though it leads out to the rear.
As William turns over a few of the wretched and smashed domestic items, looking for clues, he hears a dog begin to bark outside, the noise coming from the rear of the house. Ignoring the barking for the time being, he opens the door leading into the house and sees a bedroom containing a small double bed and a bedside table. Incongruously, two small black trees seem to have sprung up from the very floorboards of the bedroom to overgrow the bed. Other than that the room is deserted.
With an involuntary shudder at the unexpected and somewhat sinister find, William leaves the bedroom, returns to the kitchen, calls the rest of you through and then opens the back door. Outside is a mess of small patches of cultivated land bordered by hedgerows. They have been overturned and only a few scattered potatos, onions, and beans remain to give any clue as to what had been grown here. Chained to a post is a half-starved mutt, barking and straining to get at William. Staying calm and looking at the dog, William reaches for some dried meat from his rations and, crounching down, throws it to the dog, talking quietly and soothingly the whole time.
The dog wolfs down the food and, while calling softly to Albrecht to come through, William tosses over some more food which is just as gratefully received. Achmed, who has an in-built dislike of dogs and sees this as a waste of time, decides to go off exploring on his own and heads off in the direction of the blacksmith’s.
Albrecht emerges from the rear of the farmhouse and approaches the dog, taking care to stay beyond the reach of the chain tethering the dog to the post. He prays to the gods to grant him the power of speech once more, and begins to converse with the dog in a series of yelps and growls. The dog tells Albrecht that her name is Violet and then proceeds to tell him the story that leads to her current predicament. She tells him that “the man” and “the woman” got sick and laid down, and there was no food, and the hairy smelly things came, and there was no food, and now she has been alone for days with no food but she can smell something familiar in the air she wants to find – after she gets some more food. William unties Violet and kindly scratches her behind the ear, giving her some more of his rations. Violets devours the proferred food and then licks William, before going to Albrecht and nuzzling him. Attempts to gain more information about the hairy, smelly things prove futile, Violet describing them as like big people, but covered in hair.
Meanwhile, Achmed crosses the road, passing the well, and approaches the blacksmith’s. The outside of the building looks as though it has been partially burned, but the structure is still intact. Opening the door, Achmed sees that it is a one room shop that has been thoroughly gutted. It has only one window and one other door, leading out of the back. The only remnants of whatever happened here are a large anvil and the fire pit, and an iron rack that likely once held tools. A hammock, cut in half, hangs from two beams in the back of the shop. There are two bodies on the floor – one is a burly human, the other a bugbear clad in leather armour.
Achmed approaches the bugbear’s body carefully and, satisified that it is indeed dead, kneels down to search it. Just as he is rumaging through its possessions, the back door is flung open wide and silhouetted in the doorway blocking out the sun and towering over him, is a huge forest troll, green skinned and with an immense nose. He is wearing rusted half plate armour and carries a large skinning knife in his hand. “Well, well, well,” he says in a snarling voice, “what have we here? A tasty morsel for hungry Kuga’s dinner!”
Achmed stares at the troll for one second, colour draining from his face, and then he is off like a jack rabbit across the floor of the shop before leaping straight at the only window. It bursts outwards in a shower of glass and Achmed shoulder rolls to his feet on the hard ground outside as the troll sets off after him with huge strides, smashing straight through the doorway, saliva drippling from its jaws and cruel looking knife in hand.
Behind the farmhouse you all look up at the sound of breaking glass, followed seconds later by the unmistakeable voice of Achmed shouting, “monster!!!” William is first through the farmhouse and the rest of you are followed by Violet barking excitedly. As he emerges from the front of the farmhouse he sees Achmed charging towards him closely followed by the pursuing troll. “Oh ho,” says the troll, pulling up short, “it’s second helpings for Kuga today,” and he plucks a pottery jar from a pouch and hurls it at William.
William instinctively raises his shield to protect himself and it is as well that he did, because the pot shatters on his shield and sprays a fiery liquid everywhere that rapidly reduces it to a smoking wreck. Discarding the ruined shield, he hefts his glowing and pulsing sword nervously as the troll throws another of the pots at him. He tries to dodge it but it smashes against his armour dousing William in the burning, fiery liquid and causing him to shout out in pain.
With a leering smile, the troll rubs his thumb along the edge of the blade of his skinning knife and moves in close, ignoring completely Randall’s tuneless attempt to mesmerise him with his flute. William strikes low and gets the first blow in at the troll approaches, but it is a blur of action and slices William multiple times with the cruel blade, sending the warrior tumbling to the ground unconscious and bleeding profusely.
Albrecht and Pioden move in, grimly determined, and both land blows on the plate armour of the troll, while Achmed circles around to the rear looking for an opportunity which presents itself as he strikes with the mithril sword. Abandoning his attempts to charm the creature with his musical ability, Randall takes up his trusty sling and begins a bombardment of stones, but most of them bounce harmlessly off the troll’s armour. Kaji contributes bolts of arcane energy which hiss and burn against the troll’s tough skin.
With William down, the troll turns its attention to the most immediate threat, Albrecht, who has landest the heaviest blows with his morning star. The troll smashes through his shield with one blow from his fist and then follows up with his knife, scoring several vicious wounds that send Albrecht to the ground like William before him. This troll is a most formidable opponent and seems capable of soaking up a tremendous amount of punishment as both Pioden and Achmed rain hits upon it, Randall finds his mark, and Kaji blasts away from the rear.
Tossing the knife from hand to hand backwards and forwards, the troll weaves through Pioden’s defences and inflicts multiple serious wounds on the elf, only his lightfootedness and uncanny resilience saving him from disaster. The troll’s confidence and showboating is his undoing, however, as he fumbles the knife and it tumbles to the ground. Seizing the opportunity, Pioden reverses direction with the Sword of Conviction and slices the troll clean open from groin to sternum. The troll’s eye glaze over as it falls backwards, causing Achmed to leap out of the way.
Pioden quickly administers a healing potion to Albrecht, who himself then restores William to some semblance of health through the power of his prayers.
To be continued…