Campaign Logs

Twilight Dawn

By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff

Chapter 25 - Wicked Claws

Not far from Berdusk, 1371 DR, Eleint, 9th day, the morning hours

Smiling at Emlyn, Telsom passes the flint and steel back to the woman. “Have you been outside of the cave at all? We should make a run for it, but I’d prefer to go back to the road and retrieve my horse. The beast might be able to outrun us, but it won’t stand a chance against Teri.“ Moving around the cave Telsom begins to brush the torch up against anything flammable. Whenever Emlyn is prepared Telsom will run at her side, manacles in one hand, torch in the other.

Emlyn puts the flint and steel back in her small pack and fastens that on her back again. “Well, at least it doesn’t expect us to come rushing out…“ Gripping her quite futile looking sling, she is ready to run for it, meanwhile keeping a keen ear about for sounds from the outside.

Near the mouth of the cave, Telsom and Emlyn can see a small clearing in front of the cave. The light of the rising sun is creating long shadows from the trees that fall from left to right. With lack of wind, the early rays have started warming the air in front of the cave, yet the air is still cold enough to form small clouds from exhaled breath. Of the Troll there is no sign.

His words just above a whisper, Telsom bends low to his companion and speaks into her ear. “Were you conscious when the beast brought you here? My skills are best suited to a temple; I’m at a loss when in the wilds.“ Squinting at the shadows, Telsom bites his lower lip concentration etched into the expression on his face.

“Well…“ Emlyn hesitates, her voice kept down as well. “I have seen a fair share of the surroundings, but I don’t know where it brought me, after… after knocking me clear into next week.“

Telsom concentrates, first feeling nothing, then faintly a throbbing at his temples is noticeable. As Lathander’s Dawn is in the east, the opposite must be the west. It feels as if the beast is headed that way. Wincing slightly at the pain in his head, Telsom slowly brings his hand up to point in the direction the Troll has gone. “I wonder if he is going for my horse now. He’s moving west. I must see to Teri, if she is still alive. The opposite direction might be safe for you to depart by, Lady Emlyn.“ The paladin says, as he stands to his full height once more.

Emlyn thinks for a short while, rubbing her face with a thoughtful and sooty hand and managing to get it even dirtier than it already was. “I’m not sure he’s going for your horse.“ She says. “There was no trace of her when it brought you in. I didn’t hear anything either. My dog, on the other hand…“ She pauses. “Well, you said yourself it can’t outrun your Teri. It is most probable that she fled… anyway, just following the beast’s trail seems a bit rash to me. Still…“ The small halfling straightens her back. “If you think you should go down there, I am not a bad scout.“

From the direction Telsom assumes the Troll went, comes the sound of something crashing through the brush. Followed by a cry of pain that sounds very human.

Eyes flashing with rage, Telsom rushes forth torch in his left hand and shackles in his right. “Mistress hear my prayer, let me arrive in time to save whatever unfortunate soul that beast has waylaid this time.“

Emlyn follows the paladin, estimates the distance and takes up position within the range of her sling. Keeping an ear out for any more human as well as non-human sounds, she waits until the monster’s next victim comes their way.

Running through the forest towards the direction the sounds came from; Telsom and Emlyn first enter a dense part of the forest. The roots of the large trees create uneven footing, threatening to trip the rushing couple. Soon though the forest starts to thin and daylight starts to enter the forest from ahead. Crashing through the trees and brush, the seemingly enraged Troll is entering a clearing.

Beyond the Troll, a lone figure is riding towards it, with the sunlight shining on her face, Telsom recognizes the rider as the veiled woman Immerine.

“Oh no.“ the paladin mutters as he renews his forward charge. Attempting to come at the Troll from behind to avoid the beast’s reach Telsom unfurls the wrapped manacles at the last second bringing the ends crashing towards the beast.


Suddenly Marc finds himself looking into the coal-black pits, which are the eyes of a creature he has never seen before. Still several yards away, the menacing eyes look at Marc over a thin long pointy nose that seems to sniff the air. Even it its hunched position the creature is intimidating. Its large frame is covered in a sickly green warty skin. Tuffs of coarse black hair seem to sprout irregularly allover its body. It walks on two feet, yet in an awkward looking hunched position. Its long, gangly arms are dangling almost to the ground. The creature utters a low snarl, baring its wicked teeth, and advances quickly toward Marc.

Marcs’ big brown eyes seem to pop out of his face while he freezes for a split second. Strange enough the first thought that crosses Marcs’ mind is ‘Gee, so *this* is how a Troll looks like!’

Then Marc turns quickly and starts running as fast as he can. He zigzags between the trees and the bushes, averaging turning slowly a bit to the left. His feet push the bush-grounds to the back; Marc hears his breath and heart working speedily.

When he sees a low-branching pine tree, he doesn’t hesitate. He throws himself on the ground and tries to roll underneath the branches, when suddenly something hits him hard in the back and he finds himself rolling further along. When he comes to a halt he finds he rolled out of the woods into the open. The last thing Marc sees before his vision goes black is Immerine riding towards him on her magnificent white stallion. The sound of the Troll crashing through the brush following is lost to the now unconscious shepherd.


Ditalidas gets up her feet again and looks at Matteo. For a moment she doubts, but then she says: “I’ll ride Alana again. I did what I wanted to do and found nothing.“ She looks at the items in her hand, thoughtfully turning them around and weighing them as if she wants to guess their value. Suddenly she shakes her head, shaking off her thoughts. She mounts Alana before she puts the items in a pouch at her belt. “Okay I’m ready to go.“ She looks uphill toward Kalil.

Matteo takes the reins of Teri and proceeds to mount the paladin’s horse.

On the ridge Kalil seems to be intently focused on the forest edge. When Friend springs up and runs barking towards the forest. Upon Friend’s reaction, Kalil looks at her and then at the forest. Apparently distressed, Kalil quickly ties the rope he was holding to his saddle. Then he takes his crossbow from the saddlebags and cocks it. Meanwhile, he looks down at the others and waves to get their attention, pointing to the forest. He holds his crossbow in the air as a sign that trouble is on its way.

As soon as Kalil sees the others take action upon his warning, he urges Corundum to walk downwards to Marc’s position. Kalil takes care to keep enough (lack of) speed to use his crossbow, which he holds directed at the forest.

Right in front of Immerine is the edge of the vast forest. It looks like it’s been there for ages, resisting autumn storms, summer droughts and winder frosts. At the moment the leaves are colored wildly, the one still hanging as well as the growing collection on the ground. The rising sun adds to the sense of serenity this scenery brings to mind.

Suddenly there’s motion: at almost quadruple speed Marc comes rolling out the shrubbery. He looks at Immerine for a split second before his eyes turn away and he sags limply to the ground. Crashing through the forest, behind Marc just as sudden something large emerges out of the forest with great speed…

“Marc?“ She says worried and puzzled.

A large hunched form emerges from the forest, its green rubbery skin full of warts and tufts of coarse black hair. Coal black eyes peer over a thin and long nose at the scene. Wicked sharp teeth are bared as the Troll growls, advancing in quick strides to Immerine.

“Khelliara save us!“ Immerine brings her staff around to bear on the beast. “Get Marc out of the way!“ She yells towards Matteo and Ditalidas as she charges the creature.

“Get him yourself.“ Matteo mutters under his breath, “you’re the bloody healer.“ Pulling hard on Teri’s reins, Matteo wheels Telsom’s horse around and spurs it down the hill towards the Troll, drawing his rapier as he does so. As he draws near he slows, trying to direct Teri into a position where he flanks the Troll with either Immerine or Telsom before attacking.

Behind the ugly monster Telsom comes charging out of the forest, swinging a piece of chain and a torch. A small person wielding a sling follows him on his heels. She looks like a girl and vaguely reminds you all of Calathra. Although the young paladin says nothing, anger crosses his face as he watches Matteo ride his steed into battle. Friend in the meantime charges the Troll as well, running down the hill at great speed, teeth bared in a feral snarl.

“Ye gods.“ Emlyn mutters as she sees Telsom and the veiled woman charge the monstrous Troll – she knows its strength too well. As soon as she is within striking range, Emlyn uses her loaded sling but then continues to advance, not prepared to let Telsom, only armed with the chain, and the unexpected auxiliaries face off against the beast alone.

Unnoticed by all, near the spot where Kalil stood on the ridge, the air shimmers and seemingly liquefies… From the previously empty ridge Kalil just left comes a surprisingly deep and melodious voice. “Ah… it’s great to be out of the rain!“ This cheery remark is immediately followed by a shocked yelp of “Bloody hell… is that a TROLL!?“ and an almost frantic “Let me back in! The rain wasn’t so bad…“ Finally a resigned “Oh, bugger… it seems when ever my life is looking up, something shits in its eye.“ comes plaintively down the hill. With obviously forced bravado, the baritone voice calls “Ehm, you folks need a hand with that thing?“

Down the ridge at a reluctant walk comes a tall, gaunt, ragged scarecrow of a man. His poorly mended clothes are a drab brown, as is the long hair that hangs in his face. The only color in his appearance is a jaunty, gaudy blue and red silk scarf wrapped around his throat, and the horribly mismatched patches on his clothing. He also, incredibly enough, seems to be soaking wet.

As he walks, he fumbles with the broad leather strap crossing his chest, finally stopping barely halfway down the hill to concentrate his attention on pulling a leather-wrapped Yarting (guitar) from its place on his back. With the leather cover removed, the instrument gleams with a mellow light in the sun. It is a beautiful thing, and looks completely at odds with the shabby man holding it, but he handles it with great familiarity, slinging the strap back across his shoulder and bringing a melodic chord from the strings as he checks the instrument’s tune. He sweeps his long hair back over his shoulders, clears his throat and says, “I’m absolutely no bloody use with a sword, mind you. But as I’ve just been reminded, music can take you far.“

In the distracted mutter of one who travels alone too much, he grumbles “And if you bring that damn thing up here, you’ll see just how far music can take ME!“ With that said, the odd man begins to play. The crisp chords are rousing and uplifting, and he sings of courage and skill; his deep, rich baritone voice rolling out across the hillside.

Ditalidas’ attention is distracted from the battle by the sudden appearance. She turns Alana to the side and throws the man a curious look. Her hand rests on the knife that is half way out of its sheath. She doesn’t turn her attention back to the battle until she’s sure that there’s no danger coming forth from this stranger that appears out of nothing.

Immerine urges Qwenta forward while swinging her quarterstaff. The Troll seeing the woman rushing toward it moves away from the helpless Marc. When Qwenta closes with the Troll, bringing both him and Immerine well in striking range of the Troll’s wicked claws, Immerine’s staff comes down with a resounding CRACK on the Troll’s left shoulder. Seemingly unnoticed by the large ugly monster, Telsom charges from behind, swinging a piece of chain with all his might. Beseeching his Deity, the chain strikes through the air colliding with the Troll’s left knee, leaving the monstrosity standing on only one leg.

Kalil seeing an excellent opportunity to attempt a strike with his crossbow aims at the kneeling beast. Pulling the trigger, the sound of the bowstring snapping taught in time with the stranger’s music releases the deadly bolt in a straight line at the monster’s midriff, piercing it. Enraged, and out of balance, the Troll lunges with it’s right arm at Immerine, missing her, but ripping open Qwenta’s left flank, slicing the reins and saddle straps. Whinnying in pain, the magnificent horse rears, striking the Troll with a hoof, but throwing Immerine out of the saddle.

Twirling her sling overhead, Emlyn searches for an opening to strike her erstwhile captor. Trying not to hit the valiant Telsom, she looses a stone from the sling. Arcing through the air, the stone hit’s the Troll on the back of its head. Yet the result seems only to enrage the big monster further.

Struggling to get upright, the brute sees another horse charging at it, but it cannot ignore the threats from behind. Using the opportunity to strike the distracted beast, Matteo plunges his rapier deep into the Troll’s neck. Sickly-looking green blood spurts from the deep wound, covering Matteo’s hand.

The strike must have hurt badly, roaring in pain the monster swings sideways, trying to crunch Matteo’s arm between its powerful jaws. Matteo proves to be the quicker of the two though as he is able to bring his arm out of harm’s way and holding on to his sword. Teri is not so fortunate though. The needle-sharp teeth of the beast drive into her haunch, crippling the horse momentarily.

In the meantime Marc just lays stretched on his chest in the shadow of the forest, dressed in his dark-gray fur. One of his knees is bent outwards the other leg is stretched. The fur is matted with Marc’s blood. The Troll has ripped a large gash in the boy’s back. Marc’s sling lies near his forceless fingers and he presumably lost grip of his crook a bit earlier. It is lying some 5 feet away from him, closer to the rim of the woods. For anyone close enough Marc’s face, turned somewhat to the ground, looks dim; his mouth hangs half-open and his eyes are closed. Although it’s not very obvious, his chest does move, indicating he’s breathing, be it not deeply and quite slowly.

Friend had been running in front of Kalil’s horse and continued toward her master. She stands over Marc, teeth bared in a feral snarl as if daring the Troll to attack Marc. Qwenta, his front leg crippled, walks away from Immerine and the struggle with the Troll. He moves away in the general direction of Ditalidas on Alana

The wounds dealt to the monster seem to slowly vanish, the beast’s flesh and skin is healing itself. Rage flaring in its black eyes, it strikes out with its left claw at Telsom, trying to keep the flames from the torch at bay. Still half kneeling the beast brings itself somewhat out of balance. The claw hits, but not with the beast’s full force. Yet Telsom feels the jarring impact in his arm, forcing Sune’s warrior’s face to grimace as he tries to bit the pain of the gash on his forearm.

Cursing herself, Emlyn tucks the sling into her belt without really looking at it and spurts toward the monster. Even aside from the strangers’ predicament, the sight of the pitiful animals and the helpless boy enrages her. “Pick on someone your own size!“ Emlyn yells at the monster, gripping her sturdy staff in a way that allows her to strike with both of its sides.

Friend still guards the Marc’s still form. Even lunging slightly forward as the sweep of the Troll’s arm connects with Telsom’s arm.

Although his long, bony fingers never stop on the strings of the beautiful guitar, the tall man seems to feel Ditalidas’ stare. He looks up at her, and offers a wide, charming smile. With his long hair out of his face, he is not particularly handsome; he has a gaunt, angular face with a large hawkish nose, and he is badly in need of a shave. His eyes are hidden in shadow under rather bushy brows. Immediately after smiling at Ditalidas, he bows his head and returns his concentration to his music. Once again his deep, strong voice sings of courage and skill in battle. Filling the combatants with renewed energy to tackle their large foe.

Lifting a leg over the saddle as Teri momentarily sags with the Troll’s blow, Matteo slides from the horse to stand between it and the Troll, slapping her rump to drive her from the combat. Quickly glancing sideways at Immerine out of the corner of his eye he breathes a sigh of relief at seeing her without visible injury. His eyes narrow in concentration as he regards the Troll, looking for an opening as it divides its attention between Telsom and himself. The Troll swings it’s other arm toward Matteo, the man with that stinging needle-like weapon must have hurt it badly. Yet the out of balance position causes the beast to lunge wide, enabling Matteo to avoid the wicked blow and launch his own attack. Using the distractions to full effect he plunges his rapier deep into the monster’s side.

Roaring in pain, the monster’s head snaps toward Matteo, giving the Sembian an unpleasant view of the beast’s throat before the jaws slam together in midair. As from behind Kalil launches another bolt. Seeing a clear shot Kalil fires his crossbow, yet his aim is not as true as last time, and the bolt goes wide. Corundum, hearing the cries of pain from the other horses, and smelling blood becomes nervous, drawing Kalil’s attention away from re-loading his crossbow.

Teri moves away form the battle, shivering from the pain. An ugly gash is visible on her haunch. Seeing his beloved mount wounded Telsom spares Matteo the briefest of glances, his rage is clear in the look. Returning his attention to the Troll, the paladin waves the torch from side to side trying to take on the full attention of the beast while brining the chains in once again in a wicked arc. Slamming the metal hard against the base of the monster’s skull. Opening a large gash as a piece of the broken manacles pierces the rubbery skin of the foul beast

Immerine hits the ground hard and lies there. She waits until the Troll is distracted by the hit from Telsom and she swings her staff around hard, letting it connect solidly with the Troll’s right kneecap. The veiled lady is rewarded with the sound of breaking bone and cartilage. Surprisingly though the large monstrosity remains in its awkward kneeling position. Yet to Immerine it looks as a flash of panic crosses the ugly face.

Ditalidas cannot help but smile back to the strange newcomer, though it is a small smile and disappears very quickly. As Alana makes a nervous step backwards, Ditalidas turns her attention to her horse for a moment. Whispering some soothing words and stroking Alana’s slender neck, Ditalidas tries to calm the horse. She looks at the battle and sees Marc lying dangerously close to the monster and the smashing hooves of the horses. Without further thinking she spurs Alana forward into gallop and rushes towards the place were Marc lies, trying to stay as much out of range of the Troll as possible.

As Ditalidas gallops off, the tall man’s head snaps up. Fear is plain in his face, his gangly body tense as if he expected her to attack him. Watching her head instead toward the fray, his mouth drops open in shock. His long fingers stop mid-chord, and he calls after her “Ehm, is that such a good idea, milady?“

Wincing form the monster’s blow, Telsom changes his tactic, spinning the manacles to ward off the Troll’s claws the paladin brings the torch to bare on the beast. With the light of the flames reflecting in the eyes of the beast Telsom sees the opportunity top press on, as the combined effort of the group seems to induce fear and panic.

“Kuolla elain!“ Immerine yells in Rashemi as she strikes again at the beast hoping to bring it to ground. Her staff swings against the monster’s leg and Immerine is rewarded with the sound of bones splintering. Qwenta clearly hurt and disliking the fight, moves further away from the melee.

Keeping his attention focused on the wounded beast Matteo remains silent, looking for another opportunity to strike. Immerine provides such an occasion when she shatters a leg bone. Using that distraction Matteo plunges his rapier into the beasts other leg. Piercing and slicing through muscle, he manages to do significant damage to the Troll.

Emlyn, gripping her quarterstaff with both hands, brings the weapon to bear on the frightened Troll. Yet due to the proximity of Telsom waving the torch, her first strike misses. She follows up closely with her second strike, which doesn’t fare any better…

Slowly Marc opens his eyes. With his mouth still half-open and his eyes unfocussed yet, he looks very dull. The first thing he thinks to see is the halfling and Telsom in apparent action. He utters an inaudible syllable. Then he pulls his right arm under his shoulder and carefully starts to lift his head and shoulders a bit. He shakes his head and blinks his eyes a few times trying to figure out what he is looking at.

Then he notices Ditalidas kneeling beside him. A (proud?) smile looms in his eyes, but, while he’s lifting himself up further, this smile quickly distorts into an awkward grim. He groans softly, swiftly moving his left arm towards his side. But he doesn’t even complete this action as it hurts even more, stalling his breath for a second. He lowers himself back to a nearly lying position and looks at the lady, mumbling, “Sorry, ma’am…“ Trying to smile, Marc fails as he winces as a flash of courses through his body; “Think I’ve got a nasty bruise on my back.“

Ditalidas shakes her head slowly. “Don’t you worry about it. Just stay down where you are.“ Suddenly Marc’s eyes grow big as he sees a tall gangling figure approaching behind Ditalidas. “Watch out! Behind you!“

The stranger watches Ditalidas dismount besides Marc’s still form, and seems to notice the boy for the first time. “Oh, bloody hell…“ He mutters. With practiced ease he slides the guitar around so that it hangs across his back instead of across his chest, and starts down the hill himself, his long legs eating up the ground as he runs towards the woman and the fallen boy.

“And just what do expect to do when you get there, you damn fool?“ He grouses to himself, his deep voice carrying much farther than he probably realizes. “Have to be all gallant, do we? Idiot! All because she smiled back at you…“

He keeps up this commentary to himself as he runs, right hand clenched on the guitar strap across his chest, the other reaching around his side to steady the instrument now slung across his back. He seems even more awkward in motion than he did standing still, although there is a certain odd stork-like grace in the gangling limbs.

As he draws close he calls to Ditalidas “I’m coming, milady!“ Then he sees Friend, and stops dead. “Ehm, nice doggy…“ His deep, rich voice becomes a whimper that would almost be comical if it weren’t for the fear stark in his weathered face. “Nice doggy…“ He says again, knuckles white on the thick leather strap across his chest.

Startled by Marc’s outcry Ditalidas turns to look behind her…

The Troll, clearly hurt and panicked pulls itself upright favoring legs and tries to limp away on its claws and unbroken, but no less damaged, leg. It tries to move between Immerine and Telsom toward the forest. Seeing the opportunity to strike, Telsom, Immerine and Emlyn hope to bring the wounded creature down before it gets away. Yet in the confines of the melee, or through Beshaba’s will, the uncoordinated attacks fail to hurt the fleeing monster as it bounds away on three limbs.

As Corundum’s nervous behavior isn’t really excellent for shooting, Kalil dismounts. As he hits the ground, he notices he lost the advantage of shooting from a high point to a large beast. Now he’s only able to shoot from the ground to a large beast that is surrounded by his friends. Kalil considers this while he reloads his crossbow.

Ditalidas dismounts and taps Alana on her gracious neck. “Now don’t you run out on me again lady. I need you here.“ She says softly. Then she kneels besides Marc. With half an eye on Marc and half an eye on the battle she tries to see if Marc is still alive.

At the approach of the horse and lady, Friend turns towards them, standing fiercely with upright tail, lifting her lip and growling. Then she seems to recognize the lady and quickly turns her body and attention to the musician, who comes closer to her master, Friend puts herself between the lady and the newcomer, making it very clear that any step further will mean trouble.

The horses seem to ignore their master’s commands as they draw closer to one another. Neighing and whinnying the herd animals try to offer some comfort to each other. Sparing a moment for a quick glance around at his companions Matteo follows after the fleeing Troll. Matteo notices a dark look in Telsom’s eyes as he draws closer to the valiant paladin. With a sigh Marc softly lays down completely, seemingly concentrated on the blade of grass tickling his nose.

After reloading his crossbow, Kalil unties the small chest on Corundum. It takes him only little effort to remove the small iron shod wooden chest from Corundum’s back. He dismisses Corundum with a wave of his hand and a single word in Amnian. What exact word Kalil uses cannot be heard. Kalil walks around towards Ditalidas and the wounded Marc. He carries the chest with his left hand. With his right hand, he aims his crossbow at the Troll. Facing the vile beast, Kalil walks cautiously to where Marc is lying on the ground. Kalil’s eyes betray his eagerness to take a shot at the green monstrosity, yet not able to get a clear shot Kalil decides to give up shooting for the moment. .

“Ahhhh! What NOW!?“ yelps Nik as he whirls around at the boy’s shout. Seeing no one behind him, he turns back around to face Marc, Ditalidas and the less-than-friendly Friend. “Don’t DO that!“ He gasps to Marc, his deep voice shrill with fear. “You scared ten more years off my life!“ His eyes are enormous in their shadowed hollows, and his lined and weathered face is pale beneath the tan. His tall, scrawny body trembles with tension. All in all he seems like an overgrown rabbit, afraid of his own shadow. Although he has an elegantly made rapier hanging at his right hip, he has not made a single move towards it. Instead he clutches at the heavy leather strap that holds the beautiful guitar to his body. “What with that Troll, and now this dog…“ He glances fearfully at the Troll trying to escape into the underbrush, and then returns his full attention to Friend.

Watching the growling dog with obvious terror, Nik swallows hard, and reaches slowly up with a trembling hand to wipe at the fear-sweat gathering on his face. “Nice doggy.“ He says again, forcing a smile that is more than a little desperate. “Little old Nik doesn’t mean any harm.“ Of course, little is relative, he’s just shy of six and a half feet tall, but at this close range it is plain to see that he has been missing an awful lot of meals. In fact, he is so thin that it seems a strong wind might blow him away. It is amazing that the deep, powerful baritone voice comes from such a scrawny frame.

Noticing Immerine approaching, he swallows again, and tugs nervously at the gaudy scarf wrapped tightly around his throat. “Ehm, well, ehm…“ He stammers, casting a pleading look at Ditalidas and Marc. He clears his throat and starts again. “Eh, I don’t mean any harm, and well, if you’re all alright, well, then I guess you don’t need any help, and well, I guess I should be leaving you good folks to whatever it is you were doing, and, ehm…“

Immerine turns her attention from the fleeing beast and finally gets on her feet and rushes over to where Marc lies. Seeing the boy conscious she sighs in relief, while berating his foolishness. “You and Matteo are going to be the death of me. One threatens to run off and be bait and you become bait.“ Ditalidas shakes her head again and turns back to Marc. “Call off Friend Marc. I don’t think there is any danger coming from him.“ And under her breath she whispers, “At least I hope not.“

Vaguely Marc is aware of legs moving and talking voices around him – as well as grass tickling his nose. Between this rumble of voices he thinks to hear his mistress saying, “Call off Friend Marc“ A short, very sharp noise sounds form Marc’s lips. Then his eyes turn away, squinting. With Marc in Immerine’s caring hands, Ditalidas gets up and looks at the strange man thoughtfully while he is talking.

Nik seems to realize he’s babbling, and clears his throat again. Ducking his head a bit self-consciously he asks simply “I have only one favor to ask of you good people. Could you please tell me where it is that I am?“

With that question asked, he falls silent, but his muddy-greenish-brown eyes are desperate and frightened. His gangly frame is slightly hunched in his sodden clothing, and he picks awkwardly at a badly stitched red patch on the right sleeve of his drab brown shirt. As he awaits an answer, he glances from face to face, always returning to the growling dog with horrified fixation.

Friend looks with her pale blue eyes at the tall man, lifting her upper lip to show her fierce teeth. At Marc’s whistle she slowly walks backward a few paces, still looking intensely at Nik, before turning and walking to Marc, her eyes now intent on Immerine.

“Berdusk.“ Ditalidas says plainly. “You are very close to Berdusk.“ She looks down at Marc and Immerine for a moment and after that at the Troll that is chased by a part of the group. Then she looks back at Nik again. “I am Ditalidas Jalarghar. Feel free to stay around for a while. If you want you can ride to Berdusk with us. That’s probably safer than walking alone.“ She tosses the man a smile that does not remove the sadness that lingers in her beautiful blue eyes. The smile is quickly replaced with a worried look when she looks down at Marc and Immerine again. “I hope he’s going to be alright.“ She says softly. She dares not ask Immerine, afraid to disturb the woman’s concentration.

“You may find your den in flames beast! Come your foul deeds must be faced, we’ll send you to your dark gods now!“ Charging forward Telsom brings his makeshift weapon to bear, trying to stop the creature before it is lost in the forest. Landing a solid blow on the monster’s back, there is a brief sound of sizzling flesh. The beast roars in agonizing pain and twists its back, coming to an upright position.

Seeing as how the others move considerably faster than her small legs can run, Emlyn takes up her ling again and tries to bury a stone in the fleeing monster. Hoping to avoid more people getting hurt (well, except for the Troll then), she intends to provide some ranged cover for Telsom and his apparent friend. She seems in doubt however to let the creature go or to end its deeds of attacking hapless dogs, halflings and paladins here and now. She opens her mouth to call after the two Troll chasers, but then closes it again – meanwhile, she still follows through with her attack, as though an unseen hand forces her to settle the score with the monster.

When she next tries to say something, it comes out as a cry: “Well, come on then! Be a good Troll and die like the evil beast you are!“ Seeing the perfect opportunity to strike, Emlyn looses a stone towards the upright monster. This time her aim is true and sure. The stone connects with the Troll’s head and topples the creature over.

The large Troll lands facedown in the grass. Not moving, and still bleeding somewhat from the wounds dealt earlier, Telsom and Matteo can see clearly that it’s wounds are slowly closing. Except for the scorched wound on its back.

Suddenly Marc shakes his head again, lifting it again, and says clearly, to no one in particular, “And Telsom…? Did we manage to save Telsom?“ He lifts his eyebrows in an attempt to open his eyes a little wider while he tries to look at the ones gathered to get an answer, “Is he alright?“

“Berdusk?!“ The shock in Nik’s gaunt face is comical. For a long moment he looks even more frightened, and whispers to himself “I’m almost at Berdusk… oh, my…“ Then a huge and almost manic grin appears, making him look ten years younger than the mid-thirties he seems at first. “I’m close to Berdusk!“ He grins to Ditalidas, sighing with great satisfaction. His eyes are bright and eager, now, even if they do seem just a little touch crazy. He rubs his long, bony hands together, and says again cheerfully. “Berdusk! Will wonders never cease?“

When Ditalidas introduces herself, the idiot grin disappears, replaced by chagrin. “Oh, how rude of me!“ He gasps. He sweeps her a deep and courtly bow, with a grace and skill that is completely at odds with his shabby appearance. “I am Andreus Nikolai Estoba Winterborne the Third, bard of Foclucan College, and I am at your service!“ He announces, his deep, rich voice like dark chocolate and black velvet and his gaunt, animated face as solemn as if he were introducing himself to a queen. In mid-bow, however, he looks up at her and grins mischievously. “You won’t have heard of me. You can just call me Nik. Everyone does. It’s easier to remember.“

As he straightens to his full, impressive, gangling height he smiles down at her. “I would be honored to accompany such a beautiful woman to the very pits of hell.“ A little wink lets her know his flirting is harmless, and he continues “And I’m very sure I will be much safer traveling with you fine folk than I am on my own.“ His grin turns ironic and he adds, “Of course, I’m not sure how anything could be less safe than me on my own…“ He wrings water from his waist-length brown hair and sighs, “It’s raining in Nashkel, you know.“

He glances back at the horses milling about and says thoughtfully “I’m not sure you are riding back. I know I’m not, I really am not fond of horses.“ He flashes the manic grin again and says, “I actually like horses less than I like dogs. And they favor me even less.“ The shadow of fear crosses his expressive face again as he glances at Friend, as if he expects her to leap up and tear out his throat when he’s not looking.

Suppressing a shudder, he busies himself with replacing the leather cover on his fine guitar. Now that it can be seen up close, the instrument really is beautiful. Made of some exotic wood, it glows with a mellow light in the sun. It seems to have been made for his large hands, long arms, and left-handedness; the whole instrument seems to have been scaled up slightly to accommodate him, and the tuning pegs are set correctly rather than the guitar strung upside-down so his right hand can finger the chords. He handles it with great affection and care. When he is finished, he slings the instrument across his back again, the neck down by his left hand. His battered backpack returns to its place dangling by one strap over his right shoulder, where it is in the way of his sword but won’t bang against his guitar. It’s obvious where this man’s priorities lie. Glancing down at Immerine and Marc he smiles reassuringly at Ditalidas. “I’m sure the lad will be fine. He looks to be in capable hands.“

Ditalidas kneels down and lays her hand on Marc’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about Telsom… He looks all right. And you’re going to be fine too.“ Marc looks her thankfully in the eyes and smiles deeply. With a sigh he relaxes and trusts himself in the warm hands of the veiled witch.

Eyes narrowing intently as he gazes down upon the scabrous hide of the Troll Matteo steps slightly to the side and plunges his sword between the beast’s ribs and into its back. “Does anyone have more fire? Torches?“ He calls loudly.

When Kalil reaches Marc, he sees the state he’s in. Visibly assured, he also sees Immerine who is about to cast her healing spell. Before Kalil can help it, he smiles gently at the woman.

At Matteo’s calling Ditalidas rises again. For a moment she looks thoughtfully at the spot were the Troll lays. Then she looks down. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.“ She walks up to Matteo. “I have no torches or anything like that. But I remember that I dreamt something last night that I’m willing to try. What do you need fire for?“

Kalil’s attention is drawn to Ditalidas’ strange words. Curious, he places his chest to the ground. “Please, watch this“ he whispers towards Marc. Shaking his head when he realizes the folly of these words Kalil lays his crossbow on top of his chest. Then he sprints to the place the Troll is laying. Twisting his blade within the Troll before withdrawing it Matteo nods towards the wound, which is already beginning to close over. “It heals all wounds except fire. If we are to kill it…“

As Telsom steps up to the downed Troll he brings his torch down on the creature, hitting hair, wounds, and flesh. He quickly moves about the creature bringing the torch into contact with any piece of flesh accessible. Though the Troll’s wounds heal before their eyes, the damage Telsom and Matteo do seem to keep the monster down. An awful smell of burnt flesh and hair assaults the noses of those close to the dying beast.

Kalil arrives at the corpse only when it’s already burning in places. “Wait, wait“ he calls “Let’s destroy not everything too quickly“. Kalil walks up to one of the arms of the Troll, takes his dagger from his belt and intends to cut off the hand. Explaining what he’s doing, Kalil says, “I saw the Troll healing very quickly. Maybe we’re able to examine this wondrous process. Strange thing such a horrible creature possesses something beautiful“.

“I’ve hard tales of Trolls Kalil, do not take a piece with you, for if any remains the Troll will survive and rise once again even from such a small portion as a finger or toe.“ With a sudden gleam in his eyes, Kalil says, “Well, that might just be interesting, isn’t it? Let’s keep a lot of fire ready to burn it, if it indeed grows. Yet I would like to see this miracle happen“

“Well, I wouldn’t.“ Matteo replies flatly. “We burn the entire thing now.“ As Kalil makes to cut the hand from the beast Telsom moves forward thrusting his torch toward the lower half of the man’s clothes trying to dissuade the man.

Immerine softly places a hand on Marc and the other takes hold of the unicorn symbol around her neck. Her eyes close as she falls into a rhythmic prayer in her native tongue. When her eyes open she looks deep into Marc’s eyes a warm glance that is meant to help ease his mind as the power of Khelliara flows through her.

Probably unnoticed Marc looses most contact with the world again, but the ear-to-ear-smile seems to be carved on his face.

Drawing upon the powers of Khelliara Immerine feels energy given freely by the surrounding life flowing into her body and coursing through her hands into the young man. Marc feels Immerine’s hands glowing warmer and warmer as her healing energy is transferred into his body. The wound on Marc’s back slowly closes and the skin grows over the wound healing completely and leaving no scar. When Immerine is finished the only indication that the Troll had attacked Marc, is his ruined wolf-pelt and his torn shirt.

Ditalidas looks at Kalil’s attempt of cutting off a part of the Troll in horror. At Telsom’s movement she decides to put in her own contribution. “Watch out. I’m not sure if this is going to work, but I would hate to see that I hurt one of you.“ She puts her thumbs together and spreads out her fingers. “Burn you bastard.“ She says softly under her breath to the Troll. From her outspread fingers shoots a thin sheet of searing flames that targets the Troll. A little startled from her own action Ditalidas jumps a pace backwards and looks at Matteo. “Wow, I guess it worked.“ Then she smiles. “I believe I can do that again… why don’t we put some dry twigs on the thing and I’ll light them.“

Immerine rocks back on her heels and looks at Emlyn. “Greetings Emlyn. This is Marc and I am called Immerine. Would you mind keeping an eye on this foolish boy.“ There is a worried look in her eye. “I – I have to see to someone else now.“ Immerine’s voice almost breaks as she stands up and goes looking for Qwenta.

Emlyn watches the woman with understanding in her brown eyes. “It would be cruel, losing another companion to the monster.“ She mumbles under her breath. She eyes the others standing over the fallen monster, then, reassured when she sees Ditalidas’ flames, she turns her attention to Marc. “So, you’re the foolish boy… well met.“ She sits down in the grass, not sure whether the boy can hear her— but reconsiders as she realizes that his dog might not take amiable to folk smelling as much Troll-like as she. “Yes, I agree.“ She softly says to the dog, sniffing at the smell of her dirty shirt. “As soon as I get to Berdusk.“ She promises the dog and herself.

Nik watches Kalil set the chest down by Marc, and for a brief moment his eyes are alight with curiosity. His long fingers twitch restlessly. Then – just as quickly as it appeared – the eager, curious look is replaced by fear, and he clenches his hands into fists and shoves them into his pockets. His head drops to his chest and he heaves a deep sigh. When he looks back up Ditalidas has headed over to help finish off the Troll, and Immerine has finished with Marc and is on her way to see to her steed.

Nik recognizes the symbol as a mage rune. Almost every sorcerer or wizard of Faerûn has a personal rune or mage sigil that marks that mage’s works. These are sometimes simply marks of ownership or territory, but it is best to assume that every last rune graven on a doorway or boundary stone holds at least one spell waiting to be triggered – usually by handling the item or casting magic upon it. It seems no two mage-runes are identical. It is said that Mystra ordained that a design chosen for a rune simply won’t function as such if it accidentally resembles one used by another mage. Mystra also curses those who falsely use the rune of another creature. An old rhyme is associated with that, and seems to have its origins with wizard apprentices:

Looking around himself he sees his choices are to help with the Troll, help with the horses, or go brave the dog and meet the boy and the halfling. For a moment he ponders his options, scratching at the dark stubble on his sharp jaw. Finally he comes to a decision. He offers Emlyn a cheerful smile, and sidles over towards them, keeping a worried eye on Friend and stopping at the slightest sign of aggression from her.

Once he’s gotten as close as the dog will allow, he slides the guitar off his back and sits down, laying the leather-wrapped instrument beside him and keeping a hand on it like a concerned parent. He smiles at Emlyn again, shrugging his backpack off his shoulder and setting it on the ground too. “That’s better.“ He says. “I wouldn’t want you to get a crick in your neck, and I truly hate to loom over folks.“ His eyes are merry as he adds “But it seems to be my lot in life to loom.“

Emlyn relaxes a little. She looks up at the tall man and smiles, with a spark of self-mocking mirth in her eyes. “Well, when it is your lot in life to be loomed over, it does not matter if that be 15 inch or a man’s length.“

Nik occasionally casts a worried glance at Friend. He’s obviously uncomfortable being this close to her, but also doesn’t want to be standing alone. His eyes also keep returning to Kalil’s little chest, but he always looks away hurriedly. He folds his arms across his bony knees, hands clenched into tight fists once again.

He watches Ditalidas’ magic, and nods approvingly. Turning his attention back to Emlyn he says “That was a nice shot, by the by. You can call me Nik. My full name is as long as I am tall, and I needn’t bore you with it. You wouldn’t have heard of me anyhow.“ He gives her a wide, cheerful grin and a wink.

“That would be quite probable.“ Emlyn agrees, “Because I hail from Calimshan.“ She smiles, and then her expression becomes darker. “And most recently the dirty lair of that cursed Troll.“ She shivers, then the smile returns to her face. “I doubt your fame spreads as wide as that, no matter how long your name is.“

“I’ve only just come upon these folks myself.“ He continues, his deep voice thoughtful now as he turns back to those around the Troll. “I do seem to be a bit superfluous, however.“ He sighs again, a wistful look on his gaunt face as he watches Ditalidas burn the Troll again. Then an idea seems to hit him, his dull hazel eyes lighting up. He turns and begins to rummage through his battered backpack, muttering, “I should write all this down. Maybe there’s a song in it somewhere!“

Jerking away from the sudden fire, Kalil looks startled at Ditalidas. He looks at her hands, and smiles briefly. “That’s a nice trick“ he says “still it’s a pity you, and the others, seem to focus on destroying rather than learning and building. Sign of the times, I guess…“

Kalil steps away from the burning corpse, without any body part. He looks at the dead beast as if he lost something dearly, shakes his head, and walks back to his chest. He mumbles things like “When do they discover our true book“ and “Will they ever understand?“

Surprised Marc notices the changes and curing in his body and the reappearance of his mind’s normal clearness. While Immerine introduces herself to Emlyn, Marc opens his eyes and lifts his body to a sitting position, trying to figure out what has happened just yet and what is happening now. “Ehm… What?“

When Marc moves from lying to sitting position Friend crawls towards him, her body low to the ground, her tail wagging. She puts her nose upon Marc’s thigh and looks at her boss’ face. Thoughtlessly Marc lays his right hand on the dog’s head and softly caresses it.

Then the tone in Immerine’s voice, when she states she has to see someone else, alerts Marc. He looks startled at her, and says “Ehm… Immerine! You… ehm… thank you!“ While his eyes follow her standing up and leaving for the horse. He sounds enthusiastic enough, but for a good listener it will be clear that there’s still some question in his voice.

As his eyes follow the woman they meet Emlyn. A frown crosses Marc’s face while he utters softly, puzzling, “Calathra?!…? How?“ his mouth falls open for a split second, then he mumbles on, “No… you’re not… Ehm…“ He shakes his head slightly and says with a warm dark voice “Hi there!“ He smiles amused and whispers, “… and Ditalidas thought *I* should have a bath!!“ Then he continues in normal tone, addressing the halfling “Excuse me for a second, please… I, ehm… “

Marc wants to look at his back, but suddenly he sees that, behind the halfling, flames are emerging from the merchant’s noble daughter. Marc’s eyes enlarge and he whispers “WHAT?!“ Though hardly audible the word is clearly readable on his face. His eyes blink as she jumps backward. He tries to observe what’s happening over there and sees the remains of the beast, Kalil, Matteo and Telsom. A little sigh underlines his smile as he sees Telsom bareheaded, but otherwise save and sound.

Marc nods and then turns his head left, again with the intention to give some attention to his own shoulders and back. Before he can do so he notices Nik over his left shoulder and looks up to him. The world is confusing to Marc…

Seeing Ditalidas spread searing flames over the downed Troll Telsom’s left eyebrow raises. When Kalil gives up on his quest to retrieve part of the Troll, Telsom drops his makeshift weapons and whistles for Teri, he starts walking toward his beloved steed at a brisk pace, worry etched on his face.

As the smell of burning Troll-flesh assaults his senses Matteo raises a hand to his face and covers his mouth and nose while remaining near the smoking body of the Troll, looking down intently to see if it continues to heal from its wounds. “That might be a good idea.“ He says to Ditalidas, “I doubt the fire damage alone that we have caused so far is enough to kill the beast. If it’s other wounds continue to heal… Get some of the others to help you and gather some wood, we’ll burn the entire body on a fire. I’ll stay here to ensure the thing doesn’t get up.“

Both Qwenta and Teri recognize their master’s approaching and move cautiously toward them. The other horses, which have been joined by the horse Marc was riding, are following them, like a small herd. Though wounded, both Qwenta and Teri seem to want to dominate ‘their’ herd, both nervously watching each other, snorting and have their ears somewhat flattened.

The Troll’s flesh is sizzling and burning, charring at the edges of the wounds. Those places seem unable to heal themselves. Actually, with all the fire poured on it by Ditalidas, it is as if the regeneration process has stopped. But Matteo, his sword still plunged between the beast’s ribs feels something still ‘moving’ inside. Ditalidas’ idea might indeed not be such a bad idea… “Calimshan, eh?“ Nik asks, his eyes bright with curiosity. “I’ve never been that far south. I’m from Silverymoon, myself. Up north in the Silver Marches.“

His eyes slip back to Kalil’s chest as if of their own accord, and he grimaces suddenly, jerking his gaze away from the box. Nik gives a short, surprisingly bitter bark of laughter. His deep voice is harsh as he says “You know, the only way my fame would travel that far ahead of me is if I did something truly and spectacularly idiotic. Not that I’m not capable of such folly, just that I haven’t managed to do so yet.“ He sighs, raising one eyebrow at Emlyn in cynical appraisal of himself. His left hand rubs absently at the wrist of his right, disturbing the rough cloth of his overly long sleeve and revealing a glimpse of what appears to be bandages wrapped around his wrist.

Knowing when he is not needed, or wanted for that matter, Kalil walks back to his chest. He looks around, and it’s only now he notices the newcomers. He walks towards them intending to make present himself to them, and learn their names and whereabouts.

Walking back, Kalil sees Marc still on the ground. He smiles wryly at the young boy – what is young anyway, Kalil cannot be much older than Marc is. Then he wipes off his simple adventurer’s clothing and shakes his head as if to shake off the whole affair with the troll.

Immerine whistles softly and speaks in soothing tones to Qwenta as she draws near. She hears Telsom approaching and looks towards the man. Her eyes are moist and there is a deep sadness in them. “H – he is hurt.“ Looking to Teri she shakes her head, “Both of them and you.“

Tears flow freely from the witch’s eyes as she returns her attention to Qwenta. She begins to sing a soft tune to keep Qwenta calm as she moves closer and reaches out to gently stroke his velvety soft muzzle. Qwenta’s liquid brown eyes hold his mistresses as she croons to him – pain apparent in them as they roll at the slightest noise. Qwenta’s ears remain trained on Teri even as Immerine commands his visual attention.

When Qwenta is focused on her, Immerine begins another prayer to her goddess asking for relief for her dear friend. Qwenta’s skin is twitching with nervousness. The magnificent stallion is still somewhat scared from the encounter with the Troll. A tingling feeling flows from her toes to her fingertips as Khelliara’s favor courses through her body and into the stallion. A soft greenish glow surrounds Immerine’s hands and the wounds on Qwenta’s left flank slowly heal. Nudging Immerine’s hands carefully away, Qwenta sniffs tentatively at her flank; a brown eye gazing thankfully at the priestess.

“I fear I don’t know anyone called Cal – “ Emlyn begins, just as Marc seems to realize that she is indeed someone else and greets her with a cheerful “Hi there.“ “Yes, I’d more than love to un-Troll myself.“ She comments at the other statement. Then the boy’s eyes drift to the magic-using woman and widen in shock. “It’s the best thing they can do to make sure it stays down.“ Emlyn says, meaning to reassure him.

While looking at Nik, Marc can’t suppress a slight giggle as he hears Emlyn speak of ‘un-trolling herself’. A bit later he replies to Emlyn’s explication, “Is it? Didn’t know.“ And after half a second, “thanks“

As he’s rummaging through his backpack, he notices Marc looking at him. He offers the lad a bright grin and says “Well, then. You’re looking much better now. I’m quite glad to see that.“ He pulls a well-worn leather-bound book from his backpack with a small grin of triumph, and then pulls an inkpot and a tattered quill pen from the beltpouch on his hip. Opening the inkpot and setting it on the ground beside him, he flips the book open to where a scrap of cloth was keeping his place. Holding the small book easily in the large palm of his right hand, he dips the pen into the ink and writes a few words on the page.

He glances up at Emlyn and says, “How did you come to be captured, if you don’t mind me asking. Ehm, Emlyn Ashenleaf of Calimshan. Yes? I want to make sure I get the names right. If I don’t take some notes now I’ll forget something. Nothing ruins a song like getting the names wrong.“ He gives her a slightly embarrassed smile, and then turns to Marc. “And how exactly did you come to be wounded, lad? Were you bravely attempting to rescue this intrepid halfling from the clutches of that foul beast?“

“I doubt I am the song material anyway.“ Emlyn smiles. “Neither intrepid… I was underway to Berdusk when the beast knocked me into the middle of next week and dragged me away.“

An eager expression lightens his careworn and weathered face, until he looks down at his book and realizes that his wet sleeve has dripped on the page. “Oh, bugger.“ He mutters, frowning in grave disappointment and setting the book down beside him.

Nik smiles apologetically to Emlyn and Marc, and says “Oh, well. You can tell me anyway, and I’ll try not to forget before I get to town and can get some dry clothes.“

As Nik offers Marc a smile, he replies it with one of his disarming smiles, showing his big brown – be it a bit sad – eyes to the tall man in front of him. “Ehm… Don’t know if I’m LOOKING so much better… I surely do FEEL better.“ Marc replies light-hearted and adds, “Hi to you to!“

Marc’s eyes examine the man from top to toe while this man unpacks his things. What he sees apparently appeals to Marc: the left corner of his mouth curls up even more. Then he turns his attention to his back at last, pulling his shoulder as forward as possible and removing his fur coat. But no matter how hard he tries, he can’t see any trace of an injury… until he stops trying and sees his coat.

Marc is dazzled, and in an unbelievable tone he utters, word for word, “Gee! Look at this rip!“ As he continues his voice becomes softer, decreasing into whisper, “This isn’t my blood, is it…? How…?“ Slowly an idea seems to arise in his head, “… it…“ And with an astonished look he looks up at Immerine, his mouth falls open and he silences.

When Nik asks him his version of the heroic interaction, Marc shakes his head and replies, still looking at Immerine and the horses, “No… I, ehm… “, then Marc suddenly realizes something and stands up, addressing the musician in haste, “You’re right! I’ll tell you later.“ He walks away in the direction of Immerine, Telsom and the horses. When he passes Emlyn he briefly touches her shoulder. “Thank you.“ He says, without slowing down. Then he starts running, wiping off his hand to his shirt. Friend follows Marc on his heels; tail wagging as she sees her master is well again.

When Marc reaches Telsom he grabs him by his arm (the unwounded one) and speaks enthusiastically, “Good to see you’re okay!“ His big smile quickly melts away before he humbly adds, his head bowed down, “Ehm… sorry for my behavior yesterday…“

“I’m glad to see you are up and around as well young one. The troll was a very dangerous adversary. Yesterday happened a day ago, here’s to tomorrow.“ Telsom says with a small smile. Turning his head to look at his precious horse the smile fades, his eyes growing hard. “Please excuse me Marc, for I must see to Teri.“

Teri has limped on slightly toward Telsom, and with a few steps, the paladin greeted by the beautiful horse. Cleaning his hands on the grass, Telsom puts them over Teri’s wounds and offers a small prayer to Sune. A soft rose mist spreads from the man’s hands into the wounds, obscuring them from sight. When the sweet smelling mists dissipate, Teri’s wounds have gone, leaving only faint scars as an indication where the Troll’s fangs have torn into her.

Withdrawing his sword Matteo glances at the blade then slowly and carefully pushes it through the troll’s eye into its skull. “Do you want to have another go?“ He asks Ditalidas, “I think one more application of that fire might just do it.“ Ditalidas nods. “There is more where that came from.“ She says softly. Ditalidas puts her thumbs together and spreads her fingers. “Watch it now!“ She warns Matteo. After Matteo stepped away she throws forward another sheet of searing flames.

The sheet of flames scorches the body of the Troll once more, leaving horrid burn marks on the unmoving creature and producing an awful smell. The smoke is carries away slowly by the small breeze that crosses the site of the battle. Ditalidas quickly takes a few steps backwards, out of the smoke and the smell. Then she looks at the job she’s done and for a moment she looks thoughtful, her head cocked as if she listens to something, a few seconds later she nods. “I believe I could do that again.“ Casting a quick glance in her direction Matteo gently replies, “Let’s just wait a moment to see if its necessary shall we?“

Immerine smiles at her beautiful stallion, then looks to Telsom. Stepping closer to the man she looks at him intently. “Let me tend your wounds. I have used the greatest blessings of my goddess already but some minor powers still flow in my veins.“ Immerine reaches one slender hand to touch the paladin.

Moving away from the approaching woman, Telsom gives her small smile. “I’m fine Immerine, it might be best to save your magics should another emergency present itself this day.“ Reaching up to Teri’s saddle, Telsom pulls forth a fine dagger and after kissing the steed between the eyes moves off towards the downed troll.

The Witch pauses and lowers her hand as the man steps back from her, “As you wish.“ She turns back to the horses intending to calm them and sees Marc. “We should round up the mounts and calm them. Would you help me in this Marc?“

Marc turns away from Telsom, breathing deeply as if a big weight has just been taken from his shoulders. His eyes flicker when for the second time fire sprouts from Ditalidas’ hands. He just stands there when Immerine addresses him.

“You said?“ He utters, turning to her. He looks at the horses and says, “Well, there seems to be little wrong, as far as I’m concerned… Ehm… Wouldn’t they need help over there?“ He asks, nodding at the troll. He shrugs and smiles at Immerine, “Then again, don’t know much about horses, do I?“ He lightheartedly makes a deep bow and says, “Yes, I’d like to help ya, please tell me what to do.“

Absorbed in listening to Emlyn and Marc, Nik has quite forgotten about Friend, right up until she runs after her master. As the dog runs past him Nik draws himself up into a tighter ball, terror plain on his face. He stares after the retreating dog as if he expects her to turn and attack him, and once she is at what he considers a safe distance away he sighs heavily. A sudden tremor shakes his bony frame, and he swallows nervously.

Looking over at Emlyn he coughs, embarrassed, and tugs at the scarf wrapped around his throat. “Heh.“ He says awkwardly, giving her a shaky smile. “I really don’t like dogs.“ Embarrassment reddens his face, replacing the pallor of fear.

Emlyn’s eyes twinkle a little when she sees how scared the enormously tall man is. “Yes.“ She says seriously, “A fearsome beast it is…“ Not planning to really tease the man, she adds: “Still, one suffers most from fear itself. I suggest you two slowly make your acquaintance…“

Nik looks away from Emlyn, plainly mortified by his obvious fear of dogs. His eyes are drawn to Kalil’s little chest, and the breath whistles through his teeth in a soft hiss. His long fingers twitch on his knees, and his dull eyes are bright with curiosity. Suddenly he realizes Kalil is standing a few feet from him, and he scrambles to his feet, sweeping a deep bow to the young man. “Greetings, salutations and felicitations!“ He says cheerily in his deep, booming voice. “I am Andreus Nikolai Estoba Winterborne the Third, at your service!“

“Andreus Nikolai Something Winterborne the… Right.“ Emlyn mutters and gives up. “Nik.“ She glances at the group standing around the troll and sets out to follow Marc, but then halts and looks from Nik to the small chest. She has caught his curiosity, and decides it may be the wiser to stay here, meet the youngster in the ‘Aba’ (my, he’s far from home…) and keep an eye on the box.

Nik gives Emlyn an impish wink as he mutters out of the side of his mouth to her “See, I told you my name is long!“ Returning his full attention to Kalil he grins, “You can call me Nik. It’s both shorter and easier to remember.“

When Kalil arrives, he hears Nik talking. Unable to hide his generous smile, he nods to the newcomers. “Good business, saer Nik Winterborne.“ He says and looks amused at his chest, which has caught so much attention. While taking up the crossbow, lying on top of the chest, Kalil adds jokingly, “Welcome to both of you. May your path be filled with anything you wish for. But you haven’t sold me on your intentions towards my chest… Anyway, my name is Kalil of Gildenglade. As you can see I’m from Amn“.

Kalil stands there for a moment, looking at the newcomers. He scrutinizes them with his eyes, shamelessly viewing them from their feet to their heads and back again. In his simple travelers’ clothing, Kalil looks quite ordinary next to Nik and the halfling. Only his attitude and his many expensive rings indicate he’s more than an average traveler. Suddenly Kalil says, in a sharp voice “Just keep your hands at a safe distance from my chest. I’ll fetch Corundum – my horse – and then we shall talk. I recon you two have an amazing story to tell“. Then he turns and walks off to fetch his horse.

Emlyn raises an eyebrow at the young Amnian’s sharp warning, but waits until he has spoken his mind. “Well then.“ She mutters, “While my hands are keeping a safe distance, let them at least do something useful.“ She shrugs, and then follows after Marc to help him and Telsom with the collecting of dry branches.

Stepping forward once again Matteo crouches down beside the troll, drawing his dagger and poking at the charred creature for any sign that blood still pumps through its veins. Wrinkling his nose at the smell he sets his rapier down and plunges his dagger into the troll’s neck, ripping it sideways to open up the throat.

Ditalidas looks attentively at the monster. Suddenly she frowns: “Ah no… I think I saw it moving. It’s still alive. Are all of his kind so very hard to kill?“ Then she shakes her head. “Never mind… I doubt I want to know…Chances are little I’ll ever meet one of his kind again I guess.“ Then she turns to the people behind her. “We need wood over here! Lots of dry twigs… or as dry as you possibly can find. This ‘thing’.“ She almost spits out the word ‘thing’ and points at the monster on the floor, “…refuses to die.“

At the moment Ditalidas calls for assistance, Marc’s smile disappears while he looks over his shoulder in her direction. Then he looks back at Immerine. Again he turns his head to look at Ditalidas for a moment, before he eventually slowly turns his head forward again and stares for a split second in Immerine’s direction, while whispering to himself, “Hop the high twig? What’s she talking about?“ He pats his pointed lips with his forefinger in an attempt to think.

Suddenly his glance is cleared. “Ah! Lots o’ dry twig! Of course!“ His curly hair dances wildly above his head when he quickly shakes it. Then he excuses himself to Immerine: “I’m sorry ma’am, but… ehm… Well… first things first, as my oldest cousin used to say… Gotta help my lady now.“ He pauses before continuing, “Perhaps you can lend a hand as well… these horses seem to be okay, let’s hope the troll won’t be!“

Immerine thinks to say something to him, but instead keeps walking back to the horses. Marc quickly turns and runs off towards Ditalidas, merrily shouting to the ones standing where he used to lay so helplessly just a few seconds ago, “Come on, let’s hunt some branches now.“ Friend enjoys all this running of his master and follows him, cheerfully jumping around and against him all the time, now and then snapping at his legs.

When Marc arrives near the lady he grasps her arm, and says with a smile, “Well done, my lady!“ Then he shakes his head cheerily and with a naughty twinkle in his eyes he whispers, “Just a simple merchants daughter, ‘ey?!“. He gives her a wink and says in normal voice, “So… you’d like us to collect some fire-wood?“ Ditalidas smiles at Marc and nods her head at his question. “I indeed would like that.“

Slipping his dagger through his belt Telsom moves towards some nearby foliage. Pulling the dagger free he cuts loose dry branches attempting to go for damaged foliage rather than healthy. When Telsom has his arms full of good burning material he will return to the troll’s side laying the objects in places that will cause the most damage once alight.

Marc’s face shows a disgusting face as he gives the remains of the troll a glance and starts walking hastily towards the rim of the forest to collect some dry wood. On his way over there he looks over his shoulder at Ditalidas, asking “Aren’t you coming?“ and after that he’ll invite Emlyn, Kalil and Nik in a similar way as well. If none of them will accompany him he’ll go in close to Telsom, singing a merry song about knights and dragons.

At Marc’s question Ditalidas looks thoughtful to the troll at the floor and then back to Marc. She shakes her head in denial. “No, I better stay here and keep an eye on this.“ She says nodding at the beast. Then she smiles to Matteo. “Not that I don’t believe you can manage on your own.“ She tosses him a quick wink. “We just can’t be too sure about this one…“

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

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