Ginnar – Autumn 2961 TA
The morning after Saruman’s visit, and Khorum’s subsequent disappearance, breakfast was subdued. For some reason the rest of the party were giving me a wide berth and were all clustered on the other side of the table – I wondered why, it wasn’t like I should be worried or ang… skrink
I looked down at my hand. Oh well, it was _Khorum_’s goblet I’d just flattened – surely the glorious War-Leader could afford another one. I grabbed the flagon of the Hero of the Woodsmen’s ale and drank from that instead. Balthar looked like he was about to say something, but he went back to the cellar to break open another barrel instead.
Riddler the Ripper returned from his scouting mission as we were finishing up that one. “I’ve found your Dwarf!” he announced – “in several pieces” his tone seemed to imply, but that’s just how the Ripper speaks.
I did not leap across the room like some dainty Elf, but I might have moved a bit faster than is proper for a Dwarf. Outside the door was one of the queerest looking Dwarves I’d ever seen. Even as a girl I’d not have dared to show my face with a beard so short, or neatly trimmed.
I shot Ripper a look. He did not shrink – for him that would mean popping out of existence altogether.
-“What? Looks the same to me!” he shrugged, unimpressed – then quickly dodged under the flagon that flew his way.
-“Ahem, I am Frah, and I was told this was where Khorum had his residence?”
-“Has, and what business do you have with him?”
- “Ah, I was hoping he… and his companions could help me with a group of trolls who have been marauding on the Elf road in Mirk…”
I grabbed my axe, from the wall it had been stuck in.
- “Let’s go hunt some trolls. We’re leaving now”. I grabbed my pack on the way out, and did not turn back to see if the others were following.
I must say I did not pay much attention to the rest of the journey. I was… deep in thought. When we came onto the smoking ruins of a Beorning village however, and it’s gutted inhabitants, that drew me back to the present time.
The hobbit Falco had told me about the Werewolf of Mirkwood – boasting he’d slain it not once but twice! It’s size grew at each retelling, but I found out he had not exaggerated it by that much after all. We tracked the creature easily as its claws were still dripping blood. We found it just as it was about to finish off the last survivor of the village. Ripper put a couple of arrows in it but they seemed to barely tickle the beast.
We set up a defensive wall of spears and shields, ready to fight a battle of attrition against the beast. It roared at us in defiance but Balthar just spat, walked straight up to it… and stuck his axe between it’s eyes, splitting it’s head in two… and the battle was done almost before it had begun.
Yet barely had the monster corpse fallen to the ground that it began to bubble and hiss.. soon all that was left of it was a puddle of black ichor on the floor. As that happened I felt a chill go through me that would not leave my bones for days.
The girl we had rescued seemed deeply traumatized. She clung wordlessly to Jarwald broad and perfectly toned back for the rest of the journey.
After another week we made it to Frah’s home, a hollowed-out tree(!) by the side of the elf-road. He introduced us to his “friend” Flor. I nodded knowingly – it explained his unusual manners, and such an arrangement wasn’t terribly uncommon among our people, we do have a lot fewer females than males.
Flor seemed surprised the sight of our party, and for a while they had an argument, but eventually he agreed to guide us to the trolls. There were three of them, and they had been ambushing travelers for a few weeks now. We had to walk a few days away from the path – normally I would have thought that foolhardy but I had an itch to sink my axe into some thick troll skull.
We finally arrived near the site, and sent Ripper out to scout for us, but then Flor yelled “I brought them for you as I promised! Now give me my reward”. For a moment all I could do was stand there and think “Now that’s a really theatrical way to announce you’re a traitor”. But Frah reacted faster and charged at his companion, axe out and a fury I knew all too well in his eyes.
Around us we started to see large shapes moving in the bushes. Too many large shapes. It was one thing to ambush a few trolls, another one entirely to be ambushed by a larger number of them. So I yelled at the others to follow as I started running after the dwarves… and quickly found myself the last of the group as all the others bolted in front of me!
Frah quickly caught up with Flor and the confrontation did not go well for the traitor. But there was no time to mourn as the Trolls were still hot on our heels. We ran for what seemed like an eternity until eventually the forest just… ended. There was a large break in which as the trees had been fallen, as if a medium-sized hill had decided to go for a stroll.
Our Elf companion seemed taken aback at that and paused to rummage for something in the debris. The rest of us hurried across and back into the cover of the trees. We looked back, but it seemed we had lost our pursuers for the moment. We decided to take some rest there – we had lost Balthar and Ripper on the way.
Ripper came back to us a couple hours later, with company.
-“I have found another Hobbit. (Can I kill him now?)” he announced darkly.
The rescued was indeed a hobbit by the name of Bozo, who was apparently on a quest to slay a dragon. That made him the third strangest hobbit I knew (and I knew three). He had been captured by the trolls and had just escaped from their cauldron.
We set down for the night, pondering our plans for the next day, but a group of Trolls found us just before dawn! We rushed to our weapons – and it turned out to be only three of them. They were fearsome opponents and we struggled for some time, but focused our efforts one one to take him down, then a second and… the ground started trembling, there was a flash of something green and huge! and the the third troll was just gone. So were the bodies of his two friends.
The Elf was paralyzed “D… d… dragon!” he finally croaked.
Well, whatever that thing was, it didn’t seem interested in us. So we set out to finish what we’d started and teach the rest of these trolls you don’t ambush dwarves. We tracked the rest of the group back to their cave. Our new scout Bozo, tried to venture in, but quickly came back followed by yet another sleepy troll. We stayed low and eventually the troll turned back to slumber again, but while he was out I rushed at him and promptly stuck my axe in his back.
Our companions joined in and finished him in short order, but we’d woken the other trolls in the cave, and a boulder came flying at us. Jarwarld made us of his strength then, and seized the gigantic cauldron that was in front of the cave. His bare chest glistening with sweat, he pushed it ahead of us in the cave, using it as a shield.
A confusing melee ensued in the dark with the remaining three trolls. They were cornered and fought savagely, but both Frah and I were still boiling for revenge, and took down the beasts eventually.
In the lair we found some amount of treasure for our trouble, but more importantly an ancient dwarven book, that Frah cradled carefully. “This should teach us, at long last, the location of the Grey Delve, the ancient home of our people.”
He went back to his home to study it and the rest of the party split up as well to rest for the winter. But I continued onwards on the elf-road. I still had some scores to settle – in Erebor.