Episode 1 : Armania Rex Falls

Destruction came upon us with a roar to wake the heavens. The sound echoed throughout the plateau and all the mountain valleys. The roar heralding the end of all we knew. The mountain surrounds echoed and blared out the fall of Armania Rex. We watched as the pillar of fire and ash rose from the center of the valley and touched the sky. Only old Karberg, highest of all our the mountains looked down on the destruction. From the fiery pillar waves and waves of ash swept out across the plateau and washed up the sides of all the surrounding mountains. All the mountain sides were cloaked in the grey of death. Everything that moved and everything that didn't was cloaked and covered by grey ash. At night the plateau glowed beneath the mists of falling ash as if it were the morning breaking upon the world. In the centre of the plateau now stands a new mountain, fierce and fiery claiming all the plateau as its own.

For eight weeks we had walked steadily upwards towards the mountain peaks. We had been at the fair at the very edge of Armania Rex's southern extent. We still had not been far enough, our ears were to ring the doom of our Kingdom for weeks afterward. Even here the smell of sulphur was almost overpowering and though we moved forever upwards we could not escape the rain of grey ash. Seven grey figures moving up a grey mountain with the falling grey ash our constant companion. We had grabbed what we could and had taken our chances moving directly up the mountains of our southern borders. We would try to cross the mountain range to the south by use of the long since abandoned southern gate and enter the southern Lettifite Republic. We had been called fools by the other fair goers, they instead sort to skirt the destruction of Armania Rex and making their way to the western gate which we knew to be open.

Somewhere above us lay the fabled Ringroad. The Ringroad circled the plateau which was Armania Rex. The Ringroad lay just below the permanent white tops of the mountain peaks. These mountains surrounded and hid Armania Rex, the central kingdom, from the rest of the world. Thankfully we were only in late autumn and the snow had not yet arrive. However the snows were not too far off either and we had to make haste to reach the Ringroad before we were trapped and snowbound.

In these eight weeks we had subsisted upon what we had grabbed at the fair and what we could scavenge from the mountainside. We were to grow weary of mountain goat, and mountain fowl and eggs. These were the only creatures that Caxtus, our ranger, could find. We trod forever upward, the ice peaks we very close now, only a day or two of travel. At this point we were to hear drums, they started at noon and continued through the night and till the first shafts of light lit the mountain peaks. We speculated as to what manner of creature beat upon the drums, our conclusion was this could only be Trolls. We expected the worst now, Trolls must now hold the ancient dwarven tunnels.

As we continued the climb, in the distance before us we could see to our left the remains of a collapsed bridge spanning the chasm between two mountain sides. The Ringroad was close, four more hours of climbing brought us onto its large expanse. The Ringroad was some forty feet wide and was carved into the mountainside. It lay only some two hundred feet below the permanent ice peaks of the mountains. We could see it as a ribbon stretching into the distance seeming to demarcate the line between the icy peaks and the bodies of the mountains proper. To our left we examined the collapsed bridge, it spanned some two hundred feet and this way was now impassable to us. The way forward was to our right, the direction of the drums. It was now midafternoon and the drums had been sounding for three hours now. What the beat signified we did not know, was it to signify the extent of the Troll dominion or some form of communication, we did not know and could only guess.

We had no choice but to go on to the right and see the source of the sounds. An hour on we circled the mountain and saw in the distance on the next mountain a campfire with two sitting figures. The figures were much bigger than man size, they sat by the campfire and beat away at two large drums. The beatings resounded throughout this valley and echoed beyond. Interestingly both figures were also blindfolded. We resolved to pass them by, if we could. Caxtus, the ranger, and Glavinious, the hobbit rogue, went ahead as they were the stealthiest of our group. They moved past the two Trolls and signalled us to try and sneak past also. We advance but as we got closer the chinking of Jager in his plate armour alerts a Troll, the Troll pauses in his beat and removes the blindfold.

The first Troll stood up to his full eight feet, looked about him, saw our group some hundred yards around the curve of the Ringroad and sees Glavinious and Caxtus some twenty yards away. The Troll picks up a rock. Glavinious cries, "Let's get out of here, Caxtus!", and turns and bolts. The rock is hurdled towards the now fleeing halfling and shatters on the rocky side. The Troll picks up another and chuckles loudly to itself, again Glavinious avoids the thrown rock. The Troll speaks and the Dwarves hear amongst its sentence the word "Food.". We begin our rush to the Trolls. Glavinious whips out his sling and sends a slug into the Troll, the Troll stops chuckling and picks up a large boulder twice the halflings mass, and staggers towards Glavinious. The second Troll removes its blindfold, stands, looks about and throws a rock towards Glavinious. Caxtus is standing between Glavinious and the Troll and is the target of the tossed large boulder. It slams into his side, knocking him forward into Glavinious and the large boulder then rolls over the edge of the Ringroad and crashes down the mountainside. The first Troll roars and closes on Glavinious while Caxtus limps rapidly away.

Nixos Naxos, Risus, and Jager have reached the second, smaller Troll. Jager elects to continue towards the first larger Troll who currently has his back towards him. Finius slings the second Troll and hurts him, Glavinious does similarly with the first large Troll. Nixos Naxos strikes at the second Troll with his maul hurting the beast. Risus follows up with a warhammer strike to the second Trolls leg, knocking it out from under him and sending the creature unconscious. Jager chinks a lot behind the first Troll and delivers a glancing blow which serves to alert it to his presence. It swipes at Glavinious with a razor sharp claw and begins to turn on Jager. Jager hits it again with his warhammer and slays the creature.

Risus binds the first Troll and puts a tourniquet about its leg, he notices that the bleeding does not seem as bad as it once was. We examine their drums. Glavinious goes ahead a little to check out the Ringroad to see if we are to encounter more Trolls. Rounding the bend he is bathed in sunlight and sees the Ringroad continuing around the next mountain. The two mountains are joined by a small rope bridge, below which is a ledge with some large hand holds. He signals us to come along. We drag the first Troll along with us and the moment it enters the sunlight the creature turns to stone. Nixos Naxos knocks the creatures stone head off and tosses it over the side, "Just in case it reanimates by moonlight or something.".

Glavinious crosses the rope bridge and advances to the next corner. At the next meeting of the mountains there stands a stone structure. Surrounding the building is a group of some 20-30 Trolls, they enter and exit from the structure. It looks like this maybe the entrance to the southern gate, either that or somewhere further along the Ringroad is the southern gate. Glavinious looks at the surrounding mountain peaks and deduces that this area receives the rising sun only, and spends most of the day in shadow. If we were to pass we could only do so at dawn when the Trolls must hide themselves. If this were the southern gate, entry at dawn would only mean that they would all be inside.

That night at the campfire we ponder what we should do next. Do we race pass the Trolls at dawn, do we try to climb down and then go around there position, or do we need to go through this structure and into their realm. As we ponder we also each tell the tales we have heard of Trolls and come up with the following facts or beliefs.

Troll Types  
Cave Trolls Rumours: Clannish, always hungry.
Facts : Language partially related to Dwarvish. Can light fires, can throw rocks, claws are very sharp, makes pretty good drums. Skin is AT 12'sh. Turns to stone in direct sunlight (and dies). Hates direct sunlight. Large. Fears flying things and forests.
Hill Trolls Rumours: Tribal, can build wooden structures, can write, shamans have three eyes, have mated with men to make giants.
Facts : Can wander around in the daytime without problems. Language not related to Dwarf or Cave Troll. Large. Fears Dwarves.
Forest Trolls Rumours: They exist. Made of wood and flesh. Hates sunlight but can stand it. All are spell casters. Very Large. Related to Elves. Will not kill Halflings. Fear of fire.
Stone Trolls Rumours: Armour like stone (AT 20). Very Large. Turns to Stone in Sunlight but does not die and reanimates next night. Eats quality rock and gems. Loves eating meat and Halflings. Very Dumb. Fears spell casters.
War Trolls Rumours: Intelligent (unfortunately). Grows metal like plates in skin. Loves to use weapons. Large. There are some spell casters. Hates Dwarves. Loves the colour red. Fears nothing.

We post our watches for the night and wait for the dawn. During the night Risus is on watch, he sees two Trolls with drums coming around the mountain to the ledge. Risus signals Glavinious who wakes Nixos Naxos and begins to wake the others. Nixos Naxos stands beside Risus and both dwarves watch the two Trolls. Both begin to put the drums on their backs to cross the ledge, one then holds back and begins to work on his drum. At that point Jager having donned his plate steps forward into a rock, trips, and crashes to the ground in a clamour of sound. Both dwarves raise their hands to their foreheads and shake their heads in disbelief. The Trolls likewise hear the sound and begin to rapidly cross the ledge. Risus races forward and stands at the end point of the ledge, warhammer at the ready.

Glavinious, Nixos Naxos, and Jager sling at the advancing Troll, damaging it. It reaches the end of the ledge and begins to climb up. Risus strikes with his warhammer driving it into the Trolls skull, it falls as a limp mass down the mountainside. The second Troll keeps coming. Nixos Naxos rushes to Risus's side. Risus strikes the creature, there is a sickening snap as the handle of the warhammer breaks and fractures apart. The Troll moans under the impact and swipes at Risus racking its claws along his breastplate. Nixos Naxos delivers a blow and this Troll follows the first down the mountainside. Risus works on binding his warhammer during the rest of the night but the ultimate conclusion is that there is need for a new handle, this one will deliver only one good blow.

Of Dwarves and Trolls

Why do Trolls hate Dwarves?
Why do Dwarves hate Trolls?
Is it that Trolls eat Dwarves?
Or is it Dwarves kill Trolls?

When a Dwarf kills a Troll,
He feels twelve feet tall.
But when he is eaten by a Troll,
Does the Troll notice it at all?

So why do Dwarf and Troll fight so?
And make their numbers reach so low?
Will they ever make friends, to show . . .
That Dwarf and Troll have brains that go?

By Dominicus Maximus, Poet-Major of the Lettifite Republic


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