I shall suffer no troll to live, but would see them all drown in their own foul blood as it burns.
We were set upon by a trio of trolls last night while Ce Me No and I stood guard. I was able to get a hold of one, but between the three of them I could not withstand the fury of their onslaught. The rest of the party was able to get to its feet and rapidly fell back and blasted them as well as they could. With a great deal of help and sacrifice on the part of our animal companions, they were finally able to put the beasts down. Nishi’s healing magicks revived me towards the end of the fight, just in time to see the magnitude of that sacrifice. As my head reeled, I watched the poor wolf being torn apart – when all was said and done, there was not even enough left of the poor creature to bury. We burned what little remained, separate from the already smoldering remains of the trolls. As I watched my friend burn and prayed for its spirit to find peace, I came to realize several truths.
First, in our short time here, we have bonded with the woodlands and meadows of the Green Belt. By virtue of this bond as well as the authority invested in our writ, we must act as wardens and stewards of this land.
Second, the land is inhabited by a few good people, but also many fey and animals and even creatures of pure good who have a place here with whatever civilization we bring to the land – a relationship of harmony and synergy. We have met numerous creatures who were willing to put themselves on the line for us. We should risk no less if we are to reconstitute the prophesized Kingdom of the Plains.
Third, the land is also home to numerous vile creatures, whether mere bandits, foul practitioners of necromantic magic, or monstrous superpredators or rapacious abominations with whom no harmony can be found. By their very presence, these creatures threaten the goodly humanoids, fey and animals that can be woven together to form. We are clearly not ready to tackle all of them yet, but we should strengthen ourselves and improve our techniques as quickly as possible, work at refining our tactics to act more effectively as a unit, and actively seek to eradicate such threats from the Green Belt.
Fourth, among the vile creatures, the trolls are especially deserving of retribution. The hill giants who slew my qual-leh and my sisters in arms have left me with trust and less love for any giant blooded creatures. But whereas the hill giants are big and dangerous but also slow and stupid, the trolls were more formidable in other ways. The creatures were formidable foes, but also the worst sort of monster. Dangerous, relentless, and unstoppable unless put down hard and for good, and even then fire or acid is required to keep them from regrowing from even the most pulpified mass of dead flesh.
I mean to be one who puts them down hard and for good. I intend to do so by training as hard as I can to improve my techniques, my tactics and my toughness. Legends of our order speak of enchanted robes that could kiss fire into the tissues of any foe one grappled, and this has an appeal. But the legends of those with blood such as mine also speak of the oreads harnessing the limes of the earth within the gems implanted in their flesh, and turning them into caustic kisses for any unlucky enough to fall into their embrace. I must also continue training to be able to more quickly pin down such creatures, lest they continue to scratch me off like a dog with a tick. If I come across a creature whose blood I mean to draw, then I mean to draw all of it.
I swear here and now that unless the life of Morrigan or an innocent under my protection is imperiled by engaging, the life of any troll I meet is forfeit, and that I will kill them without pity or mercy. It is folly to fight with blind rage, but a mighty warrior holds onto anger in a way that makes it useful. Bury it within the heart and stoke it, and it becomes a powerful engine. Vent it often while retaining the ability to achieve serenity through regular meditation, and it becomes the most powerful weapon in a Tetori’s arsenal. May my anger at the noble sacrifice and senseless loss of our dearly departed wolf friend be just such a weapon.
As a group we must also refine our tactics, learn how to better play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses and inclinations. My impulse is usually going to be to go for the biggest, most immediate threat and try to pin its ears back. And then possibly ripping them off. Finding ways to fit that impulse into the group’s strategy for dealing with foes is essential. A one woman front line is no line at all, but merely a single point. My fellows may be less suited to standing in the front line. But there must be a way to position them so that they are ready to slam down against a foe who is caught at a disadvantage. Or to have them ready to shift our formation if an adversary seeks to turn our flanks. In particular, Nishi’s lizard and Ce Me No both have great potential for synergy. While I have a foe in the clinch, they are easier to hit. They also cannot swipe errantly at my friends as they seek to maneuver into better position. Nor can they then easily move out of their new and more imperiled position. This is especially useful for combatants like Ce Me No. His style may not be the height of honor, but it becomes undeniably more effective if he is able to stab a grappled or pinned foe in the kneecap or the groin. If we face more magically inclined foes, it may become more effective for me to bypass the enemy frontline in the interest of pinning down a contemptible finger wiggler before they can roast my companions alive or even “Finger of Death” them.
After cleaning up the carnage, we set about repairing the bridge and harvesting the Fangberries. We then rode the rest of the day to return to Bokken’s hut and Oleg’s trading post. We kept south and east of the woods as we moved. We reached Bokken’s as night was falling. He was overjoyed by the Fangberry bounty, and my fellows now have a 25% discount on his potions for the next month.
We returned to Oleg’s thereafter, selling what we had collected during our travels, save for a ring I took off of the werewolf who bit me. Perhaps it bears some link to my own curse, but in the meantime it serves to protect me by occasionally turning aside cruel fate, and I mean to harness it. All together this last foray netted each of us 235 gold crowns and two silver links.
I am suggesting to my companions that we remain at Oleg’s until the day before the next full moon, at which point we will make for Jhod and the temple. This downtime will allow time for Tōgg to craft magic items, for Ce Me No to work at refining his alchemical craftsmanship, and for the rest of us to toughen ourselves up by sparring with Kesten. It will also allow time for my fleshgem spikes to come in, along with any other specialty items we might now wish to order. A set of manacles seems quite appropriate…
On that same front, a further foray against the bandits should probably be delayed until my curse is dealt with. I do not fear to die battle. But it would be unwise for us to risk taking on more than we can handle and then be thrown into whatever dungeon the bandits might have, only to have me devour my “cellmates” on the night of the full moon…