Campaign Logs

Silver Marches

By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff

Chapter 4 - Scouting

The Flaming Flagon, 13th Tarsakh 1372 DR, morning

The next morning the storm has reduced itself to a mere strong wind sending the snow down in a chaotic flurry. The wind is still bitingly cold as Mac makes his way back to the Flaming Flagon, wondering why the inn is not more conveniently located in the town proper. As he climbs the stairs and opens the door to the common, he sees his companions from last night sitting around a table enjoying a simple breakfast. Shaking some snow from his clothes, Mac joins the breakfast. When the meal is almost done, the curtain at the entrance parts to let two armed men in – two soldiers from the keep it seems. The apparent leader of the two, a broad shouldered man with a thick unruly reddish beard, scans the room for a moment, finally resting his gaze on the group of friends.

Even as the guardsmen enter the Flagon, Mac takes a gold piece and flips it onto the table. “I’ll get this meal, as I said last night…”

“Master Tor?” The soldier enquires, looking from one to the other at the table. When Aunnabroke reacts – recognizing the soldier as one of the baron’s sergeants – the man approaches. “The lord baron Elthondsson has an assignment for you. You’re to travel towards the edge of the Silverwood and the Evermoors. There have been new reports of troll activity. It’s a scouting mission only – but any troll you manage to dispatch is one less threat to the Hold. The baron expects a report within two tendays.”

The ranger immediately stands at attention and salutes the Baron’s Sergeant. “Yes sir, it shall be done.” He says firmly. “May I have permission to speak?” A flicker of surprise can be seen in the man’s eyes, he hadn’t expected such a formal salute. “At ease.” He says, his dark voice rolling through the room like thunder – with a touch of mirth… “Go ahead son, what’s on your mind?”

Pinker whispers to any who care to listen, but low enough so the big people strutting like chickens can’t hear. “You know, dad used to just ask you to do something and you did it! Look at all this falling over themselves just to say… Go outside and look for trolls!” Pinker giggles at the silly Big People. “Maybe I can test my snowball elemental theory on a troll now?” Pinker takes some food from Aunnabroke’s plate as he is distracted by the arm Big People. “Why do I always get smaller portions Masters?”

“Well, I’ve managed to convince a small group of individuals who seem to be interested in defending the Hold against any troll skirmishes, but I think their may be other humanoid activity in the area. Is it possible that we can receive a charter on the behalf of Silverymoon and its representatives to actively hunt trolls and their kin for payment?” As he is discussing his idea to the Sergeant, Aunnabroke, from the corner of his eyes, catches Pinker’s hand swipe some food off his breakfast plate. “I hope you washed your hands…” He vocalizes loudly in the common’s room. A smile etches across his face then he continues to talk with the Sergeant.

Branith tries unsuccessfully to stifle a chuckle. After a moment he composes himself and narrows his eyes in as stern a look as he can manage at Pinker, but he loses the effect when he starts chuckling again. Mac watches Aunnabroke react to the guardsmen with a slight smile on his face, a bit amused by his companion’s earnestness – and Pinker’s quiet comments. Taking another bite of his morning-feast, he listens with interest. After all, he thinks, Aunnabroke’s orders are right in line with what the group was planning, and maybe they can tag along. Be a shame to lose the warrior now, Mac adds to himself.

“I thank you, MacDuun, for the meal. The cooking here is quite good compared to the rations I have lived off of on road, and nearly comparable to Mother’s finest.” Svent shoves a large chunk of griddle cake in his mouth, wolfing it down with gusto. “Friends,” He says to the rest of the group, after swallowing, “May I have moment, before we go, so I may give respects to The Even Handed on this day? I am certain that he will find this endeavor to his liking… Is there a Temple in this town, so I may do respects in a proper fashion?

“Though I require no payment save my commission…” Aunnabroke continues, “It’s my opinion that some would like to be paid for their services, clerical aid, and supplies. I have a mage of good standing amongst the group, a dragon-slayer, and a dwarven cleric of Moradin too. I believe there is another who seeks to become a Knight Errant as well. And there’s a gnome who wishes to pen our exploits…”

It is quite noticeable to all that Kerith is suffering this morning, the result of a little too much to drink the night before. He glances over at the bar from time to time as if he is considering curing his hangover with more ale. Finally with a sigh, he gulps down a mouth full of milk and starts eating from the array of foods laid out before him. He sits and listens to the exchange of words between Aunnabroke and the guardsmen with interest and chuckles slightly at Pinker’s remark. To MacDuun and Pinker he says quietly “We might just get our troll slaying mission after all.”

Mac nods. “Looks like it,” he says softly. Looking at Svent, he adds, “I’m not sure if there’s a temple or not. Frankly, I doubt it. Maybe a shrine though. We’ll wait for you though, I’m sure, whatever you might do. It’s bad luck to interfere with the faithful and their gods.”

Chubbs – up until then cozily asleep – suddenly wakes. With a wild screech, and a curse from Mac, the fat rat claws its way free of his man’s cloak, and drops heavily to the table. It darts forward with surprising dexterity, snags a griddle cake, and retreats to Mac’s cloak, glaring balefully at those that tried to rob him of his breakfast. Mac sighs, then looks back at Aunnabroke and the guards.

Watching in slack-jawed wonder as Chubbs drags an entire griddle cake into Mac’s pocket… “So, the beast awakens, Mac. Toss some butter in after him; Griddle cakes are not right without it. As for the Shrine, A layman’s prayer for success, and an offering of gold, and I’ll be on my way. I hope to find a temple soon, however, as they may have knowledge on the rumor of the return of the Black Hand. This is grave news, whether one is a Cleric or not. Svent then signals for a server to ask about the local shrine to Tyr.

“Master Svent, stop taking Master Aunnabroke’s food while he is eating!” Pinker slaps at Svent’s hand quickly. “He is not done eating yet! You should just order more food!” Pinker smiles innocently at Master Aunnabroke, “You have to watch Master Svent and that Cubby rat! They will eat all your food you know. I’m a gnome you know, I hope you noticed that. If you didn’t notice I was a gnome, what will you know what a troll looks like? Do I look like I eat a lot of food to you?”

Pinker gets up and shows off her 45 pound frame, “Well do I Master Aunnabroke? Ohhh you know there is only one right answer to this question!!” Pinker looks at her hands – a bit greasy with bread crumbs on them – and walks over to Mac. Pinker pats him on the back while wiping her hands in his heavy clothes. “And of course I washed my hands see? They are clean as a tear drop from Sune herself!” Pinker proudly displays her clean hands and giggles playfully. “I have good breeding you know Master Aunnabroke.” At which point Pinker sticks her tongue out at Aunnabroke and ‘hmmmmmpppphhhhsss’ with heavy drama. Pinker then spins around and sits down to sip her milk with pinky finger pointed. The ranger merely shakes his head. The ‘why me’ look all too apparent on his face.

“There’s a reward for every Troll skull brought to the Baron.” The sergeant answers to Aunnabroke, ignoring the antics of the gnome. “There’s a five-thousand-silver for each skull brought back as proof.” Looking over the assembled group, the sergeant strokes his beard in thought. “If you sign up at the keep, you can get a charter and a twenty gold monthly wage.”

Behind Aunnabroke’s back Svent stands over the Gnome, hands on his hips. “Here now, Pinker, is that any way to treat the man that went back out into the cold night to purchase winter clothes for a forgetful Gnome who neglected to speak up on our first trip out. I never mentioned the store being closed, and my search through the town proper to find a family kind enough to sell me an outfit to fit you. Tell Aunnabroke what really happened.”

Pinker looks surprised at Svent. “You mean you did all that for little me?” Pinker jumps up and down excitedly. “You are such a sweet and wonderful Big Person. But I noticed I got no change!!” Pinker giggles as it occurs to her that she received no change. “But that fine Master Svent, you did a grand feat in getting me these warm and wonderful clothes.” Pinker smiles warmly and jumps up and hugs Svent and then says, “Shhhhhhhhh… Master Aunnabroke is being bossed around, and I want to listen in!”

Svent hands back the change to Pinker saying, “That is not nice Pinker, ‘Master Aunnabroke’ will tell us about being bossed around later. Bug Branith or me for a bit.” Doing his best to ignore the petite gnome’s antics – and noticeably failing if the slight grin on his face is any indication – and squirming a bit as the big rat under his cloak squirms about getting comfortable, Mac somewhat distractedly looks at the guards, wondering at the sergeant’s response.

Whispering, with his back to the soldiers, Svent tries to get everyone’s attention, even after the fiasco with the Gnome, he hopes it will not be too difficult… “Friends, it may be that we will be hunting trolls after all, on a commission, no less. We may be in luck.” Sitting back down, he turns his attention to Mac. “MacDuun, would Chubbs be adverse to me, uh, petting him? I don’t know why, but I think it would be fun.”

Branith snorts out his drink. If he’s close enough, he kicks Svent under the table. “Bite yer tongue you big goof. Best have that little one’s antics directed at someone OTHER than me.” Svent wipes some dwarf-spittle from his coat. “Close enough to a Green Dragon’s breath, but much more pleasant… How’s the foot, Branith? You seemed quiet this morning, and I wish to know how you feel of this endeavor, as it actually seems to be under way. I know no way of getting one’s attention better than sending a Gnome after them. I apologize.”

While Branith and Svent exchange pleasantries, Mac seems to be checking on his furry friend. After a moment, the rat’s twitchy nose appears, and it squeaks a query. Mac shrugs, seeming to indicate a positive, though no words are said. Chubbs wriggles out onto the table once more, balefully glaring at the little bard as it does. It then scampers over to Svent, places one paw on the man’s wrist and looks up at him, nose twitching curiously. Mac says, in response to Svent’s earlier question about petting the rat, “Well, I guess that means yes.”

“Thank you, Chubbs. It’s been some time since I’ve pet a friendly critter.” Svent proceeds to scratch the rat, trying to read its body language and find the ‘sweet spot.’

A lean, hawk-nosed man walks up to the table at Svent’s signaling. He greets the sergeant with a brief nod of his head and turns his attention to Svent. While cleaning a mug with a rag, he listens to the young Waterdhavians request and regards the chubby rat with apparent suspicion. At the mention of the Tyr’s name, the man’s eyebrows rise slightly – in what could almost be described as an ironic matter. “N-N-N-No saer, th-th-there is no shrine o-o-or temple in the Hold fer him. Y-Y-Ye can see B-B-Borstad; he’s a priest of the Mmm-Morning Lord.”

I thank you, Good Sir…” Svent waits for the man to offer his name. “U-Uhrieved.” The man replies. “I beg, though, what is the trouble? You seem shaken… Is there anything I can do?” Svent asks the man. A hint of anger becomes visible in the man’s eyes. “I-I just st-st-stutter. A-and if you don’t like that you can go and s-sit outside.” Apparently the man’s annoyance helps him overcome some of his stuttering. With a brisk move he turns around and makes his way back to the bar.

“Five thousand silver…” Aunnabroke replies, then he whistles out of character, “…And twenty gold monthly wage. That could cover arms, armor, gear, equipment, clerical services, and housing large enough to hold a company. I may have to renegotiate my service contract.” The last phrase is said in a jovial manner. “Thank you Sergeant, we will seek our carter as soon as possible.” Not wishing to violate protocol, Aunnabroke salutes and turns in precise military fashion and strides towards his comrades.

Frankly, Mac isn’t all that interested in whether there’s a shrine to Tyr in the town or not, so he’s paying more attention to what the sergeant is saying than what Master Hartshorn has to say. He’s obviously aware of the man’s presence though. At the sergeant’s statement, Mac purses his lips and he seems to be quite content. To himself, but aloud so the others might hear, he says, “That’s a reasonable deal there, and a steady income…” Then he says, in a louder voice, “Aunnabroke. I’d be willing to sign a charter at those terms. A man can do a lot with five thousand silver a head. And the monthly wage is steady income, never something to turn away.”

In his usual quiet but attentive manner, Kerith listens to the exchange between the sergeant and Aunnabroke. To Mac he says “I agree. At the moment, troll bashing for pay seems like a viable option. Count me in…” With a slight smile to Pinker he adds “…and with little sister here to embellish our exploits in verse, who knows, we may even become famous”

Chubbs, meanwhile, sniffs suspiciously at the tavern owner, instinctively feeling the man’s own seeming hesitation. Then he sniffs again… and smells food! <Beer! Yummy> Chubbs chitters eagerly at the man, obviously trying to get Master Hartshorn to do something… The roly-poly rat stays at Svent’s side though, for now. Mac, noting the rat’s excitement, says, “Easy Chubbs, leave the good man alone…” and then turns back to Aunnabroke and the guards. Chubbs, with a dismissive glance over one shoulder at his man, squeaks once and then, seemingly forgetting the proprietor’s very existence, pushes insistently on Svent’s wrist.

Sitting in her large Big Person chair, Pinker swings her head to and fro trying to follow all the talking around her. She mutters to herself softly in her native tongue. <Five thousand silver for a troll! Too bad no bounty for anything else; That darn rat is going to get us kicked out of here; Are these boots too big?; Awww that Big Person can’t sing, he has a stutter!; Master Aunnabroke sure gets bossed around a lot; Whew, Master Branith sure has stinky breath.> Her nose wrinkles as she tries to follow everything and just gives up, pulling out her harp to tune while her legs dangle, but not touching the floor.

“Count me in, Aunnabroke… If you’ll have me. I would be willing to do this for the mere satisfaction of keeping the brutes from terrorizing this fine village, but the coin makes it much easier. As for a name for the ‘Company’…? I am afraid my creative capacity was spent naming myself ‘Kill Dragon’ in the Draconic tongue.”

Mac leans forward, pursing his lips thoughtfully. “Well, ideally, the name should be something that has some meaning to all of us. Seeing as how we’ve only just met each other, that makes choosing something a bit of a problem. I have a brother that is always thinking up new names for any new ship the family buys. He’s always naming them grand things like ‘Maiden of the Sea’ or ‘Mistress of the Deep’. I’ve always hated those names…”

Mac looks from one to the other, shaking his head. “I think we should stick to something simple, like the ‘Moor Guard,’ or something similar. Maybe the ‘Moor Walkers.” He looks at Aunnabroke. “I assume we’ll be heading into the Evermoors sooner or later? That’s where the trolls are coming from, after all.”

“One thing I don’t think we should do. We shouldn’t take a name like ‘Troll Killers,’ or such, for if we stick together after this troll thing is done, I’d hate to be stuck with that name while we were, say, cleaning gnolls out of some lost dwarfhold, or even worse, facing down Zhent marauders in the desert.” Lowering his voice a bit, the sorcerer says, “They’d laugh at us.” As if that were the worst thing possible… Looking at Pinker, he asks with a smile, “But what does our Bard think?”

Svent looks quite embarrassed… “Maybe I should go by my given name… At least until I actually come across an actual Dragon. William, or Will for short. What do you think, Pinker. What do you like better?”

“Kerith, Svent, MacDuun, it will do me pleasure to have you all aboard. We’ll be leaving sooner than later I’m afraid,” Aunnabroke says gloomily. “My orders are to leave at once. Yet we have yet to hear from Branith and Pinker. What says Branith, our dwarven cleric? Does he have a suggestion? I can use Pinker’s comments too. I’ve grown quite found, although slowly, of Pinker’s antics. I was considering the Company of Spinning Gnome. But with that name, no troll may take us seriously.”

Branith simply glares at Aunnabroke after suggesting he be part of such a silly group. “At the very least, it would die laughing…” Mac says smiling at the uncomfortable looking dwarf.

Pinker walks up to Master Mac, “And what by Glittergold’s earrings is wrong with the Company of the Spinning Gnome? Hmmmm? I would have liked Pinker and the Boys better, but Spinning Gnome is great too!” Pinker spins and twirls around and looks at Master Svent her hands on her hips, “Why are you changing your name!! I like Svent! Svent is easier to rhyme William or Will or whatever. You are Master Svent. I can see I am going to have to do all the thinking around here!”

Pinker sneaks up on Lord Branith and reaches around and pulls on the cleric’s beard, “WAKE UP YOU ALE GUZZLING ROTHE!!” Pinker dances out of grabbing range before the dwarf can get her. “Serves you right for trying to get the Flaming Flagon to restock ALL it’s ale in one night!”

“By Moradin’s forge, gnome, you’re gonna get it!” He sends her a look that makes the weather outside look downright comfortable. “You keep pulling me beard like that and we’ll see what they pay for gnome heads around here.” Looking to the rest of the group, “I don’t care what we call ourselves as long as it’s not a name that would make an orc tribe seem like a good group to join. And the sooner we get out of here and start using that god’s blasted gnome as troll bait the better.” He winks to the group as he finishes, making sure the gnome can’t see him do it.

Pinker runs around and stands behind Svent as Branith wakes up and begins roaring at her. She peeks out from behind Svent at Branith and slowly…ever soooooo slowly, sticks out her tongue at Branith. Then she steps up to Aunnabroke. “Master Aunnabroke, I would indeed be honored to accompany you, seems that you need a right thinking gnome around here to keep you rat carrying drunken louts who change their names right and left out of trouble!”

Pinker walks up to Sergeant Big Person and knocks on his armor, “Hellooooo there, I’m Pinker and I think five-thousand-silver for a trolls head sounds good. Could you tell me what a troll looks like, so when I have to save these men, I don’t confuse them! Can I ask you something Big Person? What happens if say… ohhh… Master Aunnabroke accidentally finds the head of an orc on his pointy stick? Does that have any value to the Lord Baron, or how about if a goblin falls on Master Branith’s weapon when he is sleeping? I bet that is valuable too hmmmm?” Pinker smiles at the Big Boss Person, “My Dad said never do anything for free just because you didn’t ask ahead of time.”

The sergeant looks down at the little gnome banging on his armor and demanding attention. With some effort the man seems to be able to control himself, but the flaring of his nostrils indicate a certain amount of irritation. Before he can reply Pinker spins around and grabs a bread crumb and flicks it at the back of Chubbs head. “Yes, you will need a right thinking gnome of good breeding I see.”

“By Gond’s Well Scorched Hair, Pinker… Settle! You’re causing a scene! Svent it is, then. Now kiss Chubbs and make up.” Svent says in an attempt to quiet the hyperactive gnome. Aunnabroke snickers at Branith’s remarks, alas in good humor. “Oh gods…” The ranger says openly. “Branith, I was only jesting about the company name. And Pinker, trolls and orcs look nothing alike, but we all look the same to them. Remember that for the future. Now let us go get our charter before her inquisitive inquiries accidentally insult the Sergeant and get us ejected form the Hold.”

Branith merely grins at Aunnabroke’s response. Then seeing Pinker stick out her tongue at him, he responds by sticking out his tongue back. Shaking his head, Mac grins. Chubbs, opportunist that he is, uses the sudden commotion to nip a large sausage link from Svent’s platter and scamper for Mac’s cloak, without any regard for Svent’s previous attention.

Ignoring the dwarven clerics obvious immaturity, Pinker spins around and chats with Aunnabroke. “Yes Master Aunnabroke, with all these rats and confusing folks running about, I have no doubt they will kick us out sooner then later and it’s cold outside! Mayhaps we should get this charter and be off… and a little time outside might sober up someone.” Pinker whistles and looks sideways at Branith and giggles.

“Oh sweet Ilmater! I never meant to insult Uhrieved. I’ll have to apologize soon; after he calms himself. First, however, I must see Borstad. Get the blessing of the Morning Lord, as well as the Even Handed and Moradin. With Them watching us, we can’t lose! Anyone else want to go?”

The sergeant looks once more at Aunnabroke. “Good hunting ranger. May the Forest Queen guide your arrows…” With that he turns about and leaves the establishment with the soldier following a pace behind. Several sets of eyes look at two men as they disappear through the curtain, then turns back to the table and the finished breakfast. Only a couple of crumbs are left, yet even Chubbs seemingly had his fill, peering contently out from under a fold in Mac’s cloak.

“Chubbs! By the gods! MacDuun, The rat just… Damn! I was played the fool by a mere rodent! Company of the Fat Rat is more to fitting this group.” Svent said in obvious good humor, ignoring the Gnome behind him, and hoping he will not have to hang her upside-down if anything is missing from his person later.

Mac watches the guardsmen take their leave, then looks at the others for a moment, his face alight with eager anticipation. “Well then, morningfeast is done, we’ve got a task, and we’ve got the gear. I say we get up to the keep, get a charter, maybe pick up a month’s advance wages, and be on our way!” Mac rises, the lump that is Chubbs scrabbling to get settled beneath his man’s cloak. Picking up the gear he has with him, he says, “so what are we going to call our valiant little band?”

“Master Svent, you’re going to spend all our time jogging from chapel to chapel? Such a pious Big Person should have been a cleric no?” Pinker giggles at Svent. “I think we should follow Master Aunnabroke and go get this charter thing. Why do we need a charter? You humans do things quite strange indeed. Why can’t we go bop some troll heads and take the skulls back? This is all very confusing to me.”

Pinker taps Svent in the stomach, “I dare say you should apologize to Uhrieved, unless you like sleeping in the cold next time in the Hold Master Svent. Being polite to people never results in any harm, that’s what my mother used to say.” With these words of wisdom the little bard turns her attention to Mac, “Why do we need a name right now? I do like Company of the Spinning Gnome!” The dwarven cleric folds his arms and harrumphs loudly. Then mutters “Me ain’t no spinnin’ gnome. Besides, how is she gonna rhyme something with spinning gnome?”

Pinker spins and spins in circles, her speed increasing until she stumbles, “Why is the room spinning Master Mac? Ohhhhhh my head…!” Pinker puts her hands to her head and lets out a little moan, “Now I know what Master Branith feels like in the morning!” Branith kicks his booted foot at Pinker. “Get up ye lazy gnome. You are almost as bad as one o’ them pointy eared elves!”

“Why, Company of the Fat Rat has a certain quality to it, does it not? Anyhow, I’m off to apologize to the good innkeep, and find that temple he spoke of. Shall I meet you at the hold, or find you here?” Pinker recovers from her spinning and looks around seeing the Big People standing around all talking to and fro about this and that and gods and coins and rats and names. Pinker rubs her chin thinking and lets out a “hmmmpppffh.”

Pinker climbs onto the table and says, “So are we getting this charter or are we going to waste the day away in revelry? I know not this silly charter thing or I would do it myself…why do we need permission to kill evil things? Big People are soooooo…” Pinker looks around and places her hands on her hips waiting for these Big People to make up their minds.

“Well, if everyone is ready, I suggest we head on out to the keep and get the charter. I’ll need signatures and witnesses so it looks like everyone we need to come along.” Aunnabroke stops for moment, then continues, “The Temple of Lathander, hmmm… Svent, you gave me an idea. I wonder it is possible to include two or three healing potions with the charter. We may need them. A sunrod or three could help us at night too.” He amuses himself with Pinker’s antics once more then says, “If we do not receive a charter, how are we to get paid? Second, the guard of Silverymoon will want to know what activities are and why we are here. It’s a formality, but none the less, we do not want the Guards of the Silver Marshes thinking we’re bandits or poachers.”

Ignoring the little gnome lass, Mac seems to be lost in thought for a moment. “Well, it seems Chubbs is all in favor of the Company of the Fat Rat, though I for one think that could cause us trouble in the long run. I’m loathe to name our band after a tavern of all places…” Adjusting his outer garments (making sure they’ll keep him warm outside), he says, “What about something like ‘the Hold Wardens’ or some such. We’ll be taking that charter to the Baron after all, and will be beholden to Olostin’s Hold at least nominally. I’d pick something like the Hold Guards, but the Hold already has guards, doesn’t it?” He nods toward the door, obviously intending to point out the recently departed soldiers. “Well, what say you? Shall we take a vote? On the way to the keep, that is. Time’s wasting…”

“Company of Olostin’s Hold sounds fair…” Mac says. “I just hope no has takin’ the name just yet.” With this he prepares, the equipment he and his new companions purchased last night. “Yes. I’m all for going, Annabroke…” Svent says, “You must tell us, however, anything about troll fighting. We know their weakness to burns, but is that it? What are their strengths, things to avoid?” Svent is obviously in his element, discussing such matters. As he is talking, he finishes preparing and starts outside, hoping the others follow his lead.

Pinker jumps up and down excitedly, “Finally a grand adventure to sing and tell tales of!” Pinker buckles on her little sword and wiggles her arms into her backpack while listening to burning acid slashing boring stuff. Stifling a small yawn at the incredible excitement of the troll conversation Pinker chimes in, “Are we going yet?” Carrying her finely tuned harp in one hand she utters her favorite saying, “Have harp, will travel!”

“I hope so Pinker…” Aunnabroke smiles. “…But onto more serious things.” The ranger takes a deep breath. “This is going to be long but Svent, Trolls are extremely vicious efficient killing machines. Their claws can rip through human flesh and plate armor easily as Pinker rips a spin, but unlike our gnomish lorekeeper, they’re fearless and incredibly stupid as well.” He grins and then winks at the petite gnome. “I emphasize stupid and fearless to no small extent as they will attack opponents larger than themselves, even dragons I heard, without hesitation. They will attack opponents whose number are greater their own. Orcs and humanoids use them as shock troopers when attacking dwarven infantry and citadels.” He looks at Branith and says, “I’m sure Branith can attest to this.” The dwarven cleric nods his head sadly at this.

Aunnabroke continues saying, “That’s one advantage any warrior or mage has in their favor. Use their stupidity against them. Spiked pits, weighted nets and snares are good at incapacitating trolls, especially if fire or acid follows the trap. Second, Trolls do not like fire. They do not fear it as they will look for an opportunity to move around open flame. I advise the wizards and non-fighters to keep a torch and an oil flask handy at all times. Trolls are incredibly resilient to blunt damage and can mend broken bones with ease. Sword strokes are effective but the damnable creatures heal too quickly. Most wounds and trauma that would kill a human or dwarf bothers no trolls. Hack off a leg, or arm, or even a head and the beast lumbers forwards to destroy. Eventually, it can reattach severed limbs. This is why fire or acid…” He looks at MacDuun and then continues, “…is so necessary. My suggestion is to attack with pole arms or crossbows first, aiming for the eyes, shoulder or leg joints. Arrowheads that snap off or barbed are good choices too. Imbed them in the flesh so the troll will need time to dig them out and hurt itself in order to move on or remove them. Piercing or hacking the eyes, and burning them is good as well. Flaming oil to the face works wonders, or so what I’ve been able to gather.”

“One last thing, protect your mount and if at all possible don’t fight from horseback. A troll – or several of them - is more likely to go for an easier target than an armored knight. Mobility is the key and if you’re a target, stay a moving target.” After this explanation Aunnabroke turns to Svent. “Svent, I think it would be wise if we visited the Temple of Lathander before we left. I’ve heard of fire breath potions. I wonder if I could acquire any from the temple. Also, I want to stop by the barracks one last time before we go.”

“I’m not sure about all that fire. I don’t have any torches or oil for that matter! So hopefully we don’t meet one for a while or I think we might be in big trouble!” Pinker exclaims doubtfully. “Say isn’t Master Mac a wizard? Can’t he just blast them to Waterdeep?” Pinker says proud of her quick thinking. “I told you all I would think for you.” A smug face adorns Pinker as she feels the chill through her walking out the door and tugging her cloak around herself. “I daresay a little fire might be well met later!”

“Pinker, if Mac blasts the trolls to Waterdeep, I shall throw you after them.” Svent says with a mock indignant expression on his face, “It is my home, I dare say myself that I shall not be too far off the mark.” Mac merely snickers at Pinker’s assumption that he can blast trolls so easily. “I’ll catch up with you all in a moment…” Stepping out into the cold, Mac heads for the stable.

The content of Silver Marches are the property and copyright of J P Hazelhoff, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.

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