Here's a picture of the dirty little troll.
OK boys and girls,this is an original piece by my pal Brad O'Neill at Triond, they didn't want to publish it for him so I will.
The Winds of Triond.
Wind is the bane of every traveller. It drives the snowflakes deep through your coat and pants soaking and chilling you to the bone. Despite the moisture, the wind chaps your face and dries your lips. The wind takes miles out of your horse and slows your journey to a crawl. I had picked up the scent of a cooking fire faintly penetrating the blizzard, and this is what drove me on.
Normally I would have found a tree or rock and sheltered myself and Alistair as best I could. He was a good horse; he had been with me for 10 years; since he was a colt. He trusted me enough to soldier on through the blizzard. Despite the wind and snow, he kept his head down and moved forward as best he could. Ahead, I could see a valley. That must be where the delightful aroma originated from. As we neared the mouth of the valley the storm seemed to pick up, the snow was now just past Alistair%u2019s knees.
Only this morning, the ground was dry; and although the air was crisp, I had thought it was still rather pleasant travelling weather. But now every step was painful for my trusted companion and I knew if we didn%u2019t get shelter soon we would both perish. The Triond village appeared just inside the valley, an oasis of life in this desolate region. Alistair saw it too and it seemed to lighten his load just a little as we made our way through the last mile of our journey.
A large tavern stood in the center of the village, with a stable right next door. The stable appeared to have adequate shelter and I was relieved to see a woman tending the animals, making sure they were warm. After paying the sweet woman for boarding the horse and giving her a little extra to make sure Alistair was dried off and his hooves were checked, I pushed my way through the storm on my own two feet, gaining Alistair a little more sympathy, as I made my way through the snow towards the tavern.
The tavern was a lively place filled with joy and merriment. The bartender was a mountain of a man, bald on top with a great red beard. He stood 6 feet tall but was about 4 feet wide. He invited me in and offered me a bowl of mutton soup with carrots, onions, potatoes and just a touch of celery for flavor. The warm aroma first thawed my nose but soon the delicious soup penetrated my lips and warmed my entire body.
A warm fire danced to the playful tune being played by a female bard. I looked around the tavern and saw many people. There were hunters, soldiers, and even a blacksmith. The prostitutes mingled while the respectable women jealously guarded their men. A guy in the corner had the eye of a thief, but he seemed to be on his best behavior. Another joined the thief that I was certain I had seen an engraving of on the King%u2019s blotter of wanted men. If the King was serious about scoundrels he would offer a reward worthy of risking one%u2019s life for. But, as he was not bothering me, and causing no trouble I saw no need to further complicate my life for a few measly pieces of silver. As it was, the soup was enough reward for my journey, and I savored every drop.
I had come to the village seeking bigger game.
As the King%u2019s liaison and chief hunter of trolls, I was told by other travelers that a vicious troll with a penchant for eating the king%u2019s citizens was near to this valley. It was by order of the King that I had to bring this troll%u2019s head, along with any treasure he may hold, back to the King. The King had granted me permission to go ahead of my troops and scout the area. I have learned, after years of hunting trolls, that having a full regiment of the King%u2019s troops complicates the search process. So, typically I arrive in the area a week to ten days early and scout out the trolls location. Once I have found his cave (it is always a cave) I generally wait for my reinforcements to arrive and then we assault the troll.
The snow was surely going to hinder my reinforcement%u2019s progress, even more than my own, so I decided to allow myself a pint of ale and an evening of relaxation. The barkeep approached, as I sipped the last drop of soup from the bowl, and asked if I would like another. Being a man who is accustomed to fighting, and needing a lean stomach in order to do so, I turned him down out of habit, though I was regretting the decision moments after he cleared my bowl.
As he brought me a pint, filled with golden brown ale, he introduced himself to me: %u201CI am Bo Jack, stranger. What do they call you and what brings you to my tavern and my village?%u201D
As a bounty hunter, I never reveal my name as my work sometimes draws unwanted attention from friends and family members of my past or current prey, so I simply responded:
%u201CI am on orders from the king you haven%u2019t by chance seen a nasty troll around these parts have you?%u201D
The bartender without a word turned to his left and took hold of a wooden handle then swung a mighty two handed axe burying the blade deep in the wooden bar. %u201CIf I see a nasty troll as you call it. I will kill it with my axe.%u201D He said, adding:%u201DI assume you are talking about Onlywaytobesure?%u201D
%u201CThis troll has a name?%u201D I inquired.
%u201CYes%u201D he responded: %u201Cand I intend to kill it.%u201D
%u201CWhat has this troll done to you, may I ask?%u201D
%u201CThis troll tends to eat some of my best customers,%u201D said the bartender, %u201CA new customer comes in, I welcome him with soup or stew, we share a few pints and then the next thing I hear is the unfortunate customer has been found; torn limb from limb with their brains devoured by that beast.%u201D
I listened intently as the barkeep continued: %u201CCaravans are now diverting to other towns because they are afraid of this monster. It has cost me a lot of business. If it wasn%u2019t for Sandra, our songstress, I am certain I would have lost even more.
I told him we would talk business tomorrow, but for the evening I was intending to enjoy the ale and to also enjoy the companionship offered by a pleasant song and the women, so willing to spend an evening for only a few pieces of silver.
As the cool brown ale washed the burden of responsibility from my day, it helped ease the memories of a hundred battles, I settled in to listen to a song. Sandra%u2019s flowing melody entranced me at once. As she sang of moonlit sonnets and evening stars, it was as if she was singing just for me, although I had never seen her, before that day, her song spoke to my soul as if we were old friends. It was at the end of this precious song when I was approached by a bar girl. She had similar features to the bard and I could imagine myself making love to her as the sweet songs of the evening played in my head. I invited her to join me. After financial arrangements were made, I had asked her not to speak. I wanted nothing to corrupt the angel%u2019s voice in my head. She nodded. I paid her enough for the whole evening so I could stay and enjoy every last song.
The next song was one of remembrance. The bard sang of the tragedy of being forgotten. A tear fell from my eye and reached my cheek before I wiped it away. I buried myself in my concubine%u2019s arms, imagining bringing comfort to the siren who sang. The last song of the evening was about falling in love. It brought a tinge of jealousy, and a comfort to me knowing this beautiful songstress had indeed found love. As I guided my evenings comfort back to my room I was filled with joy at the songs I had heard.
As my body delved into the flesh of the prostitute my mind made love to the songstress. As I explored every curve in the dark, my hands felt the music she had sung. As the prostitute tasted my flesh, I imagined the songs that would be sung of our love. As I took in her delicate perfume and tasted the salt of the perspiration upon her neck, I disappeared from this world entirely. I entered heaven, feeling pleasure in every ounce of my being. I felt the spirit of the bard together we shared the body of the prostitute. Then with a gentle kiss the bard%u2019s spirit seemed to fade away. I overcome with emotion and pleasure fell into the arms of the prostitute completely satisfied. It was at that tender moment she asked permission to speak. I was somewhat taken aback as it was not the voice of the woman I had just made love to, but I of course granted her wish.
The prostitute earned her silver, I had shared her body with the spirit of the bard, as I lay satisfied she asked if I had heard the commotion. I completely unaware any commotion had occurred questioned her further. She said it sounded like a battle had taken place downstairs while we were in congress. I told her I hadn%u2019t heard a thing and questioned rather she was feeling ok. She insisted there were many great crashes and she was worried about her friends in the bar, so I told her that, if it would make her feel better, I would look around and make sure everything was ok. She begged me to take my sword but I insisted that it would be silly to take a sword into the tavern and I would be ok. I threw on my pants and a shirt and slipped my boots on without socks. I headed out the door still feeling somewhat rosy from the wonderful experience I had just partaken in. I glanced back and hushed the prostitute as I wanted to look upon her one more time with the music of the bard still playing in my heart.
As I proceeded down the hallway towards the stairs, I began to hear some familiar sounds. They were the unmistakable groans of dying men. People were moving tables and I could hear the wind blowing through what must have been an open door. As I reached the top of the stairs, the icy wind chilled the warmth of the evening%u2019s companionship from my body. Working my way downstairs, I cautiously stepped over the badly broken body of a soldier, his head split open and the brains removed; clear evidence of a troll assault. As I made my way into the tavern, the blacksmith was trying to revive a fallen soldier. Bo Jack, the barkeep, apparently had the bar tipped over on top of him. A thousand pounds of mahogany was making it tough for him to breathe, so I ran over and began trying to clear the debris. The thief was dead, nearly torn in half. His companion, the wanted man, helped me push the debris off of Bo Jack. The wanted man began to introduce himself but I told him I knew his name was Tomi, from the wanted poster, but that he was in no danger from me. Looking surprised he claimed his crime was trumped up, but I told him I had other concerns and wasn%u2019t really interested.
After freeing Bo Jack, I turned my attention to the rest of the tavern. That is when my heart sank. In the corner of the cavern, lying face down, was the songstress. I immediately ran to her side. When I pulled her hair back, a dark trail of blood ran from her nose. Her lifeless eyes stared back at me.
%u201CWhy! Who did this?%u201D I asked knowing the answer.
Bo Jack hobbled over and put his hand on the shoulder of his fallen friend.
%u201CI will avenge you sweet Sandra, I Swear I will avenge you!%u201D
I looked around the bar for any clue had anyone wounded this troll? Had anyone tried to fight it! How did they let this happen?
ran out the shattered door looking for anything that might lead me to the troll. The storm had let up and I found his trail easily in the snow. I sent the blacksmith to get my horse as I ran upstairs and grabbed the sword. The prostitute was still lying naked on the bed. She shook from a combination of the cold draft and with fear. I told her of the destruction downstairs as I loaded a bolt into my crossbow and searched my bag for my troll dagger and my sword. I had left my armor with my trusted guard. It is too heavy for Alistair to carry while I am scouting, therefore, I leave it with the regiment%u2019s quartermaster, and he loads it on the supply wagon.
When I arrived down stairs, a group of villagers had gathered. Some had pitchforks others torches and still others small swords and bows. I knew these brave villagers would fight to the death, but I also knew they were no match for a troll. Alistair was saddled and waiting along with three other horses. I saw the blacksmith loading a heavy sword and I noticed he had a fine helmet and breastplate. The other horse had a battle axe bound to its saddle. I told the villagers I would hunt the troll alone and they should head home but the blacksmith said %u201Cno one kills a friend of Duff%u2019s and lives.%u201D Bo Jack said something rude about my mother as he climbed on his horse and insisted on going along.
The wanted man, Tomi joined our band. His horse was loaded with gear. I told him %u201CYou need to lighten your load Tomi that stuff will slow us down.%u201D He responded %u201Cthis is the best horse in the land he can carry much more than this.%u201D I noticed his horse was strong and bore the markings of my King. %u201CYou are a fool to ride with the agent of a King whose horse you stole.%u201D Tomi retorted %u201CThe man lying dead in the tavern stole this horse, I am merely borrowing it.%u201D Although I didn%u2019t believe him, I admired his quick thinking; I also knew any treasure we recovered would be in immediate danger.
Being the only ones on horseback we broke away from the villagers rather quickly. Duff told me the trail we were following likely lead to the cave he had seen once on a hunting trip. The only blood on the trail seemed to be human blood, so I was fairly sure the troll was not wounded. They heal very quickly if you do not sever the head. I have seen them re-grow entire limbs in less than two hours. I also knew that trolls tend to sleep after feasting and I was hoping the brains Onlywaytobesure had swallowed back at the tavern were enough to cause him to take a nap upon reaching his cave. Had he been wounded he would surely be sleeping; but neither Tomi, Duff nor Bo Jack could remember anyone getting a good %u2018whack%u2019 at him.
My mind kept wandering back to the beautiful songs of the evening and the dead woman on the floor, with the music of the angel repeating in my head, I trudged onward. We came to a sheer cliff, 40 feet high; we could see where the troll had loosened boulders as he climbed his way back to his cave. I was still assessing how we would scale the cliff, when I noticed Tomi tying a thin rope to his back. In 10 minutes he had climbed the cliff and was yelling down for one of us to attach the pulley to his line. Bo Jack attached a pulley and a heavier rope and Tomi pulled them both to the top of the cliff. He disappeared for about five minutes and when he returned he assured us he had found a secure anchor for the pulley.
Duff went first securing one end of the rope around his waist, Bo Jack and I took the other end and as we walked backward we pulled him right up the cliff. It was amazingly simple and effective. Next Bo Jack secured the line around his waist and I began to walk backwards. He got both of his feet on the wall and I pulled with all of my might. After about 5 minutes he had ascended all of about 6 feet. I called to Tomi%u2019s horse but it just neighed at me. Bo Jack began to swear and question my manhood. Finally I got Alistair%u2019s attention. Alistair has a horn on his saddle that I use for dragging prisoners and I knew if I could just get the rope around that knob Alistair could get this tubby barkeep up the damn wall. My head felt like it was going to explode, as I muscled the rope the last few inches to the hitch on my saddle.
With a neigh and a snort Alistair began pulling and Bo Jack began yelling for me to slow down. Accustomed to the yelps of the prisoners I normally have in tow Alistair picked up speed like I had taught him. Bo Jack bounced his way up the cliff at record speed. I could hear Duff and Tomi laughing as Bo Jack swore all the way up and for ten minutes after he was safely up top. I secured the horses and passed up the gear we would need for combat. Then Tomi, Duff, and Bo Jack helped pull me to the top.
On the top we rested a minute and regained our focus. It always amazed me how men entering combat no matter how dire the situation can still laugh and taunt one another. Following the tracks through the snow we scanned the snow covered mountain. Bo Jack was the first to see the mouth of the cave just over a small embankment. Duff insisted that was the same cave he had found while hunting. All games were now over with the bitter hatred of a man robbed of love, I began the last part of our trek.
As we trudged our way through the snow, we plotted strategy. Being the most experienced troll hunter I would sneak into the cave Tomi insisted on coming along. If the troll was asleep Tomi would come back and get Bo Jack%u2019s axe for a quick decapitation. If the troll was awake, I would attempt to wound him with my cross bow, Tomi would attempt to slow him down, Bo jack and Duff would wait in ambush outside. When we came out, they would both attack the troll who would surely follow. They always follow. Once outside, the troll would have an advantage over us fighting in the snow as the cold does not affect trolls. But as the sunlight came up, we would gain the advantage. Trolls cannot see well at all during the day. The dawn was not far off but we needed to attack right away on the off chance that the troll would be sleeping.
As Duff and Bo Jack waited outside, Tomi and I snuck into the cave over the gnawed bones of many a dead traveller. There was a little light from the moon reflecting off the snow and giving us just enough illumination to avoid the crackle of bones as I stepped carefully. I heard the troll stirring and I was afraid he wasn%u2019t sleeping. However, when I reached the back of the cave I saw him sleeping soundly with the corpse of one of the bar maids; her severed arm dangling from his mouth. I motioned to Tomi to get the axe. He disappeared into the darkness. Suddenly Onlywaytobesure shook like a wild horse and then came awake, not seeing me or Tomi. He dug his thumb into the ear of the lifeless body and cracked the skull along the temple. Pulling the head apart he accessed the brain. Every troll I have ever encountered favors the brain over any other part of the human. He dug his hand into the skull and scooped a large chunk of brain matter, tearing it from the stem and swallowing it whole. Although I had seen this before it always caused me to feel a little light-headed and I took a step back.
I felt the bone crunching before I heard it. The crack echoed through the cave like a whip. The troll stood up and glared directly at me. I raised my crossbow and fired; aiming for his chest. The bolt penetrated his thick skin and settled in his breast. He let out a horrendous roar and charged.
I am no coward but I also am not a fool. I know an angry troll is more than a match for any man and so I began to run. Bones crackled and crunched as I made my way to the mouth of the cave. The troll is not a particularly fast animal but for short bursts they can nearly match a human. They also have an incredible ability to leap, making up ground in a hurry. Tomi must have heard the commotion as I saw him vanish into a shadow in the cave as I ran by.
As I exited the cave, I tossed my crossbow aside and drew my sword. Turning to meet my opponent in the snow, I caught a glimpse of Bo Jack and his mighty axe waiting with enthusiasm by the exit. The troll emerged at a full run and Bo Jack caught him square on the thigh with a vicious blow. The axe cut deeply into the troll%u2019s leg and he stumbled forward more from his momentum than a desire to push further into the axe. Duff approached from behind and with a mighty stab, lunged his sword clean through the center of the troll. I saw the blade protruding from just below the rib cage. This was my chance.
Charging forward, hoping to decapitate this mighty beast with my sword. I leapt into the air, my arms swung my blade like I had done a hundred times before, but this troll countered my blow with a defensive swing. He used the body of the bar maid as if it was a club, and deflected my sword off into the snow. He then turned and pulled Bo Jack%u2019s axe from his leg as though it was the stinger from a bee and swatted Bo Jacks three hundred pound frame back into the snow. Duff held onto his blade, hoping to score some mortal damage but even though impaled, the vicious troll turned and swatted Duff with the lifeless body of the bar maid. Duff s armor absorbed the blow, Bone fragments from the human club shattered and blood spewed as Duff was thrown 12 feet.
I recovered enough from my initial shock to unsheathe my troll dagger, a twin bladed dagger that is sharp enough to pierce a trolls skin and strong enough to find its heart. I lunged with all my might, but the troll swatted me away with a back-handed blow from his macabre club. Bo Jack unburied himself from the snow and tried to tackle the troll from behind. But the mighty beast reached back with his free hand and took hold of Bo Jack%u2019s pants; it then arched him through the air directly at me. I rolled to the right, narrowly avoiding Bo Jacks body as he went bouncing through the snow. Duff sounded the retreat and I knew in my heart we could not defeat this troll so I scrambled to my feet vowing to return with my full regiment . Duff helped Bo Jack up and we all ran for our horses. The troll followed us, although slowed by the axe wound, he was relentless.
When we reached the top of the cliff, Bo Jack looked back at the troll and said he could not run anymore. He was going to die like a man and urged us to get away while he stayed and fought. In all of my years I have never left a man on the field of battle, but this time I briefly considered it. Duff was the first to speak: %u201CBo Jack, if you are to die today, then I shall escort you to heaven for you are my friend and I will not leave your side.%u201D I told them they were both very brave but I could not see the sense in fighting such a beast.
That is when the body of the bar maid, flying through the air like it was shot out of a catapult, careened into Duff and sent him over the cliff. Desperately, I reached out and grabbed his arm. The force almost carried me off the cliff as well. I found myself laying face down in the snow gripping duffs arm as he dangled in the open space 40 feet above our horses.
I could hear Bo Jacks voice. %u201CYou destroyed my business, you ate my friends and you killed my beloved Sandra. Why don%u2019t you come get a piece of the Bo Jack you big green piece of animal dung!%u201D
I couldn%u2019t see what happened from where I was but I saw the throngs of villagers with their pitchforks and torches coming up the hill. Duff was working his way desperately trying to get a grip on the side of the cliff when Bo Jack and the troll went head over heels over the top of both of us. Bo Jack landed on top of troll and together they crushed Bo Jacks unfortunate horse. All three of them then rolled on down the hill.
The villagers attacked the troll with farm implements, swords and torches. They pinned its arms to the Earth with their pitch forks and began hacking it to pieces with their swords and hoes. A woman began beating its head with a broomstick, while another kicked it repeatedly with her wooden shoe. The troll cried out in agony but could not escape the angry mob. I yelled for them to take the head but they could not hear me over the throngs of angry attacks. The Mob tore the beast%u2019s limbs off; I saw someone raise a green arm above their head waving it like a flag of victory. I am not sure where he came from, but Tomi arrived and helped me pull Duff to safety. Duff wasted no time grabbing the rope and making his way down the cliff he then found a sickle which he used to sever the head of the mighty beast.
The townsfolk put the head on a stake and gathered wood to burn the body of the evil creature. Later that night, at the tavern, the whole town gathered and sang songs to remember the fallen bard and celebrate the lives of those we lost. I put the troll head in a potato sack and left it out in the cold. I asked Tomi what he had found in the cave while we were fighting and he smiled dropping a ruby and 5 silver pieces into my hand. I told him my men and I, were going to thoroughly inspect that cave when they arrived. He assured me we would find some treasure for the King. That night I found some womanly comfort for a few pieces of silver, but the songs of the beautiful Sandra still filled my head as I drifted off to sleep.
Thank you Sandahl Bergman - Man it was a long time ago. Maybe the early 80s? Yeah that sounds right so let's go with it. It was the wary 80s, I was maybe 13 or 14, give or take. Whate...
4 weeks ago