We rejoin our heroes Bers the female Westlander fighter played by Jenn, Vorwulf the Westlander ranger/dragonslayer played by Cris, and Grom the Westlander shamsn in mid-spring preparing their caravan. Chago was as they prepared to depart suffering an insurrection led by the druid Siamnecca and the last word Bers had on Sir Chinsalis was that he was managing a military encampment as a pretext to mounting an expedition into the Corcander Moorland where Westlander guerilla forces were believed to have established a camp. After gathering hirelings which included a gang of 3 lumpers, 1 personal servant (for Vorwulf) and 3 teamsters for each of their 3 wagons rolled out of the city of Chago committed to making their way to Hirok-Nor where they would recover their buried treasure and set up a Blackwing dragon-slayer guild house. In tow they had three new companions Kyrahma the Ferenoi berserker played by Isis and Jesae played by Rheia a Westlander human male bard dressed in the half-brown half-green clothing indicative of the Bardic College at Ezmer and Drasknor Vorwulf’s new protégé. Kyrahma came from a Feren queendom with Hellonica goddess of warships as the state patroness and had been banished by her queen for killing her fellows in battle and after finding herself on Westland shores she blundered into a skirmish between Westlanders and a Berserker Coven finding herself on the side of the berserkers. She still bears the tattoo of the coven on her chest, a picture of a flaming black gauntlet, a symbol of Malfaind patron of berserkers and god of madness, with a skull on either side. Jesae came with a half-hearted reference from minstrel Lugo Anmori as the slayers’ new tagalong has a reputation among the alumni of the Ezmer College as a slacker. Vorwulf was mounted on his new personal mount armored with its own plate barding. Grom also purchased a personal mount and just before they departed the city he gave Vorwulf and Bers the totems he had made for them. They checked their maps, a map of Chago to Hirok-Nor and a map of the “known world” before finally moving out.
At the end of 15 days just after leaving the town of Corvik/Corvir they caught sight of a small group which watched them cross the over the borders beyond the Chago sphere of influence, Vorwulf recognized Rrhga the Wilderland wolf as the leader. The last sight of the wolf saw him turn back in the direction of the city. They followed the trade road for a few more days till they found themselves settling down for the night. They had circled the wagons and started a fire. After dinner they laid down for the night with the slayers and their new companions taking turns on watch.
It came to Vorwulf’s watch and he woke everyone just as they heard the thundering footsteps of a mace wielding troll stomping into their campsite. Its face was swollen and red with nasty looking welts and it appeared to be blinded as it swung its spiked mace in wide sweeps instead of targeting anyone in battle. It was screaming, “You! I know you have it! Give me the book I know you stole it! Aaaah!”
Vorwulf struck the creature wounding it badly and then Grom turned it into a rabbit which Kyr grabbed up and tossed into the fire. The battle was brief. By morn they were in the town of Wenbaer where Grom hired 2 more lumpers and bought some livestock for some reason. They spent the night in town and left in the morning. After several more days between the towns of Wenbaer and Anaster they were flagged down in the morning by a dirty, exhausted man in dirty robes. Vorwulf spotted the yellow and black striped robes hidden underneath the peasants rags recognizing the man as Xanto the wasp.
Vorwulf & Bers in unison: “Xanto!”
Jesae & Kyr: “Who’s Xanto?”
Xanto: “Ah! My friends it’s fortunate that I’ve stumbled upon you! I’ve been mugged you see by devlish companions! How’s about a ride? For a friend?”
At that moment he jerked as if kicked and he dropped the sack he had over his shoulder and out plopped a large iron-bound tome bearing the image of a golden ruby-eyed troll’s face on its cover. The tome cussed him out and he immediately offered to sell it to them for “cheap”.
Vorwulf: “Where’d you get that book?”
Xanto: “Oh that cheating troll-king Pallgak!”
Jesae & Kyr: “Troll-king!?”
Vorwulf: “Oh he wasn’t a troll-king dirty old Pallgak! You stole the Blackwings’ tome didn’t you!” Pointing an accusatory finger.
Xanto: “Well, um, yeah. That stinking troll didn’t pay me enough for it either. SO I stole his book.”
Kyr: “I don’t trust this guy let’s kill’em.”
Jesae: *Sigh*. “Whatever.”
Vorwulf: “Ya never trust Xanto, we don’t trust Xanto and we ain’t gonna kill’em. You can ride with us but we’re gonna have a conversation about that book!”
Xanto was careful in using the sack to scoop the tome back up from the dirt road without touching it with his hands and jumped up onto the last wagon with Grom’s livestock. They continued on. They traveled for around 2 and half months finally arriving in Hirok-Nor along the West Road into the Varidna Plain where they found a battlefield.
The plain was littered with shattered armor and shields, rusted sword shards and broken axe blades some bearing the arms of Fertum Vorahd along with the bones of the hill-giants of Sirti. Standing here and there were the petrified bodies of trolls. The stamp on the front of what was once their chest plates represented a conical mountain with a surrounding moat and a dragon above the pinnacle with wings outstretched. Grom then attempted to commune with the spirits in order to glean some answers. He found out from the voices of the dead that the God-King of Trollguard had orchestrated the battle allowing his forces entry after victory into Hirok-Nor. The slayers realized this was the same character that had probably forged the mirror-vault door for Sawback. Vorwulf used his tracking skills to try to get a bead on the direction of the rest of Trollguards forces. He found they went due east directly towards Hirok.
Grom: “Crap! That’s exactly where we’re going!”
Grom was asked to and did locate a camping spot which wasn’t haunted and the caravan set up to rest. They gathered around the fire and were just finishing dinner when the bard started to play his lute. A group of trolls immediately charged into camp catching them all by surprise. The trolls clobbered 4 hirelings, all lumpers, before engaging the slayers in battle. There were 4 trolls, 3 of which were the standard size for a troll about 8 ft tall but well-equipped with large war-hammers and wearing wolf-skin mantles over scale mail with steel skullcaps on their heads. They were led by a 12 ft tall troll with brown skin the texture of gravely earth also wielding a hammer but of giant size and wearing patchwork bear hide with a horn bugle at his side. Jesae the bard hid by one of the wagons. Grom dodged a blow from a troll-hammer and Bers and Vorwulf power-attacked one of the three trolls and the big guy respectively. Vorwulf commanded the teamsters to move the wagons and Drask to protect them. Kyrahma slashed with her magic sword with a critical blow unfortunately the magic of the sword activated by the critical blow slashed open a dimensional rift to the hell-dimension of supernatural darkness known as Tartarus. 5 shadow beasts immediately emerged and as a result the trolls fled in one direction and the slayers in another following their wagons.
They kept moving through the night making sure to put as much space as possible between themselves and the creatures unleashed by the sword. By midmorning they arrived at the mining town of Sirti. The gates in the high stone wall were shut tight. The painted arms of the town, crossed black hammers above a block of gray stone against a field of orange, were faded and in places defaced with a weapon’s edge. It took some negotiating but were finally let inside. They spent their time in the cavernous tavern drinking among the local hill-giant miners/quarrymen wary of the ratlings which scampered apparently unseen among the tables. They pondered over the information they had gotten from the guards. They had been told that Achoran at the far south end on the other side of the Nirix River was under siege by “black” forces bearing the standard of a black gauntlet grasping a white star against a field of deep purple. The trolls of Trollguard had invaded months ago and had moved east confirming what they already knew.
To Be Continued…