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Monthly Archives: November 2010


Mushrooms? I didn't know there would be mushrooms in this race. Damn! I should have entered.

 

Rrraff hurried down the tunnel with a handful of mushrooms. After a short time, he came to a division of the ways. To the left a sign said: ‘Certain Doom. Turn back now. Don’t even think about going this way.‘ To the right a sign said: ‘To the Earthly Paradise. Wow! You just got lucky.

The Troll stopped and examined the two pathways. There was nothing to differentiate between the two of them. He absent-mindedly munched on a few mushrooms as he pondered . . .

SilverHorn gathered up his courage and dashed forward to Certain Doom. As he entered the tunnel ahead, he felt the very ground giving way beneath his feet. He dove forward as a pit opened beneath him, and fell flat on the stone just beyond the pit.

Lying there, he heard the whoosh of dozens of darts swishing through the air just above him – being flat on his face saved him from being perforated. He wriggled forward like a reptile until he no longer heard the noise of missiles passing above his head. Looking forward, he saw that the rock ahead seemed to have many small holes in it. He took a deep breath, came to his feet, and dashed forward. Instantly streams of thick green gas billowed out of the rock below him. He held his breath and dashed forward as quickly as he could. The square of bright daylight was only a hundred feet ahead, but down from the ceiling came clumps of waving tentacles. They didn’t quite seem to reach the floor

green gas billowed out of the floor below him

 (to be continued)


Rrraff headed on past the card-playing Uruks. For a moment, he thought about trying to get into the game . . . but what did he have to bet?

After a while, he came to a huge pile of mushrooms. There was a sign: ‘Magic mushrooms! Delicious. Satisfaction guaranteed.

The pile wasn’t quite even. The Uruks had mentioned that someone else had gone by recently. Perhaps one of the other racers had already been here . . . and it looked like that person had taken some mushrooms.

If they were a trap, that person might be knocked out of the race. If they were really magical, that person might have an advantage that would win. Decisions! Decisions!

Meanwhile, SilverHorn thought about his choices: left to Certain Doom, or right to Earthly Paradise. Certain doom had worked out pretty well. He turned to the left and headed on down the passage.

As he walked and munched on mushrooms, he began to feel more and more ‘dreamy.’ The edges of his vision blurred, and he felt a bit of spinning in his head, and . . . he came to another sign. This one said: ‘Too late. You have reached Certain Doom. Get past this next section of passage and you win the race. Look! At the far end of the tunnel . . . light!

SilverHorn had reached Certain Doom, and it looked like the end of the race was just beyond. It didn’t seem so bad, so far. No obvious monsters waiting to eat him. Maybe Certain Doom was a trap . . .

(to be continued)


SilverHorn found a huge pile of mushrooms with a sign saying “Magic Mushrooms” and inviting him to eat. He suspected a trap, but he was so hungry, and they didn’t smell bad. He gathered up a handful, and marched on down the trail. As he walked, he began nibbling on a mushroom. It tasted pretty good, actually. He finished one and started on a second one.

He felt a strange sense of well-being. He felt stronger, healthier, smarter, luckier, and better looking. Up ahead the pathway split, there were signs beside each tunnel. To the left it said, ‘To certain doom. We’re not kidding. Turn back now.‘ To the right, it said, ‘To the garden of earthly delights. Wow! You just got lucky.’

 

a strange sign to find in a cave.

Meanwhile, Rrraff, running with all his might across the iron bridge, heard the clumsy and pounding steps behind him. Flying along the bridge at such speed, he started to disturb the nests of bats below him. But he did not look back again. He never looked back – just ran, sheer agony coursing through his muscular legs. Little did he know that as he disturbed the bats below they flew up in the face of Rarrkk, who waved his arms in sheer annoyance.

The Balrukh gained on Rrraff with every clumsy step. The cloud of bats became thicker, as more and more encircled the Balrukh in a tighter formation. He was no longer able to see where he was running and could no longer see Rrraff, although he knew Rrraff could feel his warm breath on the top of his head. Losing orientation, arms still flailing, the Balrukh strayed towards the edge of the iron bridge.  

In the distance, a group of Goblins watched, ever interested, the commotion on the bridge, and then, all at once they gasped in sheer excitement.

The Balrukh’s life flashed before his eyes as he ran right off the side of the bridge. The warm updraft of air from the lava met the sole of the Balrukh’s foot, and although all he could see was blackness, he knew this would be the last thing he ever saw.

Slowly the Balrukh fell from the iron bridge as though falling, yet vaguely floating, on the warm current of air, but it was too late for him. His time was up; his body disappeared downwards and vanished. [1]

Rrraff ran off the bridge into a tunnel on the other side. Rarrkk did not catch him.

The tunnel led back to the main path through the Naked Doom dungeon. In about an hour, he came to a fork in the road. Two Uruks sat at a stone table, playing cards. A sign on the wall to the left said, ‘To the Arena‘. On the right, it said, ‘To certain doom!

(to be continued)


[1] One of the members of Trollhalla, Gevn, wrote the Rrraff continuation he wanted to see, and it basically fit right in with what the membership voted to happen . . . a bit of this story from someone else.


“Treasure! Treasure! Treasure! Gold! Gold! Gold!” shrieked the mad Dwarf as it attacked Taran with its pickaxe. Taran ducked and the mining tool whizzed past his head.

“Taran, help me kill this lunatic!” yelled Gimor as he came puffing up behind the Dwarf.

“Kill meeeeee!” howled the Dwarf. “Nooooooooooo!” He turned and swung at Gimor, who hurriedly parried with his sword.

KLANK! The sword broke right down near the hilt, but it turned the blow.

Taran leveled his bamboo spear and lunged at the Dwarf. Somehow, the mad dwarf swung his pick behind his back and batted the spear off to the side, very nearly impaling Gimor in the process.

Gimor and Taran leaped around the Dwarf in mad melee. For a moment, it looked like they might win.

The Dwarf shortened up on his pickaxe and delivered a crushing blow that broke Gimor’s jaw and almost his neck. The Troll went down in a boneless heap. Taran tried a 2-handed thrust toward the Dwarf’s back, but the Dwarf kicked out with one sturdy leg, caught Taran in the gut, and hurtled him over the edge to fall to a fiery doom far below.

Feeling as if his ribs were crushed, and seeing the lava coming up fast, Taran pulled the ring off his finger, and faded away just before his spear smacked into the lava and went up in a burst of flame.

“Never trust a Troll,” muttered the Dwarf as it searched Gimor’s body. He found the ring on Gimor’s hand – the only thing that looked remotely like treasure. He managed to pull it off the Troll’s hand, and when he did so, Gimor’s form wavered and faded out of existence . . .

The Trollgod bellowed, “Medics! Two more racers . . . incoming!”

Meanwhile, SilverHorn thought Certain Doom was better than going into an arena in his current condition, so he doggedly turned right and plodded onward.

He hadn’t gotten very far when he came to a big pile of mushrooms lying on the tunnel floor. A sign said: ‘Magic Mushrooms! Eat them and be enchanted. Satisfaction guaranteed!

In the goblin village, the big Balrukh ordered the Goblins to make a pie for his pet. “Rarrkk, my son, show him the bridge, and help him get the pie made.”

“As yuu command, O Marrrx Emoose,” said the young Balrukh. “Come, Rrraff, wat doo yuu need for a pie?”

“Some kind of large flat container would be good,” said Rrraff.

Rarrkk found him a big flat bowl of fire-hardened clay. On the way to the king’s house where he found it, he pointed out a short path through the cave walls at the back of the village. They went down it for 10 feet and came to a big iron bridge that spanned a chasm full of fiery magma.

“Now we need something to put in the pie,” said Rrraff when they got back. “Do you have any bat droppings?”

“There arr plenty of batz arounn hirr,” said the Balrukh.

They gathered other ingredients: fermented mushroom caps (yum), ground-up bones (mmmm), some mud for texture (glurk), and finally some layers of mushroom skin for a crust. When it was done, it weighed about 30 pounds.

Rrraff made a huge bat-dung pie for the Balrukh.

 

Rrraff said, “Call the big Balrukh, I am ready to show the trick.” He picked a small plaza not far from the tunnel that led to the iron bridge.

When the big Balrukh, the little Balrukh, and all the Goblins were gathered around, Rrraff went into his act. He danced and capered all around the edges of the pie, pretending to slip and fall in, and catching himself just in time. Soon he had the Goblins all dancing with him, and even the Balrukhs were tapping their feet.

Finally, Rrraff stopped, making a great show of being out of breath. “Oh great one, I think I dropped a magic ring into the pie. Can you find it for me?”

The Balrukh bent over to scrutinize the pie. “I don’t see anything,” he growled.

“Look closer!” said Rrraff, standing by the pie’s edge, and pretending to search.

The Balrukh brought his great face right down next to Rrraff. “How do you expect even me to see through this gunk?” he asked.

“I don’t!” yelled Rrraff. He grabbed the edges of the pie plate and jammed the whole thing into the big Balrukh’s face. SPLAT! The Balrukh reared back roaring with the shock of it. He had bat shit in his eyes, a new experience for him, and one guaranteed to bother even a Balrukh.

“Now that’s what I call funny!” said Rrraff, and he took off before the stunned Goblins could do anything to stop him, into the short tunnel, and as fast as he could go toward the iron bridge.

Rrraff pounded across the iron bridge, his feet making thunderous echoes. He looked back and saw the small Balrukh gaining on him, and at the same time a huge cloud of bats began to flutter up from where they had been hanging under the bridge.

Rrraff was almost to the other side . . .

(to be continued)



Taran wondered what to do . . .

 

“What a revolting development this is,” Taran muttered to himself as he watched a small horde of gibbering Goblins hop around Rrraff. The gigantic Balrukh was more like a huge black shadow than anything else he had ever seen, though the flames of hell shot out of that darkness in odd places every few seconds.

“Trolls make very nice pets,” said Rrraff. “And by the way, I hold your son to his word. He promised to show me the big iron bridge, and I still want to see it.”

“A Balrukh’s word is sacred,” roared the Shadow. “Rarrkk, take him to the big iron bridge, and then bring him back. But first, pet, show us a trick.”

“I will need a pie, and a volunteer from the audience,” said Rrraff.

“What’s a pie?” a Goblin asked.

Taran left Rrraff trying to explain the concept of pie to Goblins. He made his way back to the stone archway as quickly as he could, and the sound of drumming faded away behind him.

Back at the bridge once more, he found he had three choices: try to cross it, turn right and retrace his steps, or go straight ahead.

As he was considering his options, a Dwarf came out of the tunnel to his right, and saw him. It swung its pickaxe up to attack position. “Where is the treasure?” screeched the Dwarf, and it attacked.

Following behind the mad Dwarf, Gimor heard it suddenly screech something about the treasure and then launch an attack. He closed the distance between them and saw it advancing menacingly, but cautiously, toward Taran, who seemed ready to defend himself with a bone club that he had picked up somewhere . . .

Meanwhile, SilverHorn recovered from a dream of drowning in marmalade and woke up. There was a tunnel in front of him, flickeringly lit by lava light. Alone, naked, and wounded he set off down that tunnel.

There's always another tunnel in Tunnels and Trolls.

It was a long, long tunnel, and it twisted around quite a bit. Finally he came to a split in the path, and there at the split was a rock table with two Uruk guards sitting there playing cards. There was no way to sneak past them, so he marched boldly up and said, “Hiya!”

“Look, Lefty,” said one of the guards. “This guy has left the tunnels behind.”

“That’s right, Righty,” said the other guard.

“What’s all this?” said SilverHorn.

“It’s a moment of decision,” said Lefty.

“That’s right,” said Righty.

“You must decide whether to go left to fight in the arena,” said Lefty.

“Or go right to Certain Doom,” said Righty.

They looked at him expectantly . . .

(to be continued)


 

 

SilverHorn clung to the side of the rocky archway above the river of lava. Bats swooped and screeched all around him, but now that he wasn’t sitting up above the level of the rock, none of them seemed to be hitting him. It was bad enough that a couple had bitten him. He could feel blood trickling off him from a deep cut across his back.

It occurred to him that being under the archway would make even better protection. He scrunched his way down, all the time clinging to the stone with his arms and legs. They were skinny arms and legs that didn’t make much of a target for the blood-bats. When he hung beneath the arch like a sloth, he began to scooch his way along. First a hand, then a foot, then a hand, then a foot, and he had advanced. Over and over, he did this, with his nose pressed against the bottom of the archway. His hands began to sweat, and suddenly, he lost his grip – both hands slid off the rock, and he found himself hanging upside down. His hat fluttered off his head and down, down, down to hit the river of lava where it disintegrated in a puff of flame. With a desperate lunge, he pulled himself back up and wrapped his arms around the archway. Then slowly, slowly he made his way across the chasm until he bumped his head. Looking around, he saw that he had reached the other side. With some difficulty, he pulled himself back to the top of the archway and to safety inside a tunnel mouth that continued the trail.

After he got away from the chasm, he just lay there trying to regain his strength. The floor was warm, rocky, and uncomfortable, but SilverHorn was so sleepy – he fell asleep anyway . . .

Rrraff and the Balrukh watched SilverHorn inch his way to safety. “Arrr! Him not fall into hot rock,” complained the Balrukh. “Him no fun! Lezz go!”

The Balrukh turned to his left and began to walk along the chasm edge. In a few places, the path grew so narrow that the Balrukh had to cautiously edge along with his body pressed up against the rock, although there was plenty of room for Rrraff to just walk by. As they proceeded, the quiet beat of the drums grew louder and louder.

“What are those drums?” Rrraff asked his gargantuan guide.

“Thoze arrr worship drumz,” said the Balrukh. “Cave goblinz worship my father, the big, big Balrukh. “

“But where is the iron bridge?” asked Rrraff.

“Izz beyond the villajj of cave goblinz,” his huge guide told him.

They must have walked more than a mile. The noise of the drums grew deafening, almost maddening. The path turned back into a tunnel that led away from the chasm. The tunnel widened out into another huge cavern, not as large as the one they had left behind, but big. Strange looking huts filled most of the space. They seemed to have been constructed from slabs of mushroom meat. None of them was more than five-feet high.

Standing in the center of the village was a Balrukh at least 50-feet tall and he held in one massive hand a flaming whip. By contrast, Rrraff’s companion was a very small monster, coming only to the great one’s knees.

“HELLO, LITTLE TROLL!” boomed the big, big Balrukh. He cracked his whip above Rrraff’s head.

“Loork, father,” crowed the little Balrukh. “I bring yuu a troll for supper, or maybe for a pet. He izz funny troll – make good pet.”

“HAR, HAR, HAR!” boomed the huge Balrukh. “What say you, troll? Would you rather be my supper or my pet? Do you know any tricks?”

Meanwhile, Taran had followed along behind Rrraff and Rarrkk. Keeping out of sight, he crept quite close to the Goblin’s village. What he heard made his blood run cold. Rrraff had walked right into a trap . . . The question was, would Taran follow him in and try to rescue Rrraff, or would he turn back and try to make it back to the stone archway?

Meanwhile, the mad dwarf asked Gimor a potentially embarrassing question. “Are you a funny looking small Dwarf, or a funny-looking small Troll?”

Gimor thought fast. “Ummm, my father was a Dwarf, and my mother was a Troll. I am a half-breed called a Droll.”

The mad Dwarf laughed, and led onwards toward the oasis. He wasted no time when he got there, but quickly found the flat stone with the rune for ‘Out‘ chiseled into it. Gimor noticed that someone had used chalk to scratch out the rune for out, and put in the rune for ‘Danger, Do not enter!

The Dwarf stomped past the warning and down into the tunnel. For a moment, he was ahead of Gimor. The Troll had a momentary opportunity. But . . . would he seize it?

(to be continued)


 

Hidden in the waterweeds, Taran watched as Rrraff and a Balrukh walked by. The Balrukh continued in the same direction that he had been going and then said, “Here izz way out!”

“Yes,” said Rrraff, “it even says ‘Out‘ on the stone.”

“Funny markz sezz out?” asked the Balrukh. “Rarrkk not hear anything.” Rrraff laughed, then his head disappeared. The Balrukh, who had towered above him, now seemed to grow shorter and shorter until he disappeared too.

Taran got up from his hiding spot and cautiously followed them. He soon came to a large flat stone set into the ground. Scratched into the surface of the stone was the rune for ‘Out.’ Just beyond the stone was a good-sized tunnel that dove steeply into the earth. All around it bamboo and other plants grew tall and thick. One would never see the tunnel except from this angle.

Taran looked down into the darkness. He couldn’t see a thing. Slowly and cautiously, he followed Rarrkk and Rrraff into the tunnel and away from the cavern.

Rrraff and his friend walked for a long ways through a tunnel that twisted back and forth. Twice they passed side tunnels that branched off from the main passage, but the Balrukh ignored them. The big guy had fallen silent, and speeded his pace, almost seeming to forget his small companion as he moved through the tunnels. A faint glow emanated from his body as if there were inner fires inside the Balrukh. There were . . .

A fiery glow began to reflect off the cavern walls. Suddenly the passage opened up and they could see that they now stood on the verge of a steep cliff. A hundred feet below, a river of red-hot glowing lava moved slowly through the darkness with a hissing, grinding sound. Rrraff also noticed a faint drumming noise coming from his left.

The Balrukh pointed straight ahead. “Loork! Sumwunn izz onn brijj.  Har! Har! Har! Da batz sull gert himm!”

Da bats'll get immm.

Looking straight ahead, Rrraff saw a humanoid figure, apparently sitting on the rock arch with its legs dangling over the side. As he watched, a dark form swooped down at him. The figure flailed something at it, and the form veered away. That something looked suspiciously like a hat.

Rrraff ran to the edge of the cliff for a closer look. That someone on the bridge looked familiar. Yes. It was SilverHorn, trying to inch his way across the stone arch without falling to his doom. Bats, the size of hawks, were fluttering around him, and occasionally one would dive at him out of the gloom.

As he watched, Rrraff heard a cry of pain, and saw SilverHorn lurch sideways from impact with a diving blood-bat. The Shadowjack threw himself flat and clutched the stone arch with both hands, and wrapped his legs around it. The bat had knocked him to the side of the bridge, and he had almost fallen.

Rrraff started forward to run across the bridge and help, then stopped when he realized how narrow and dangerous the archway was. That could be him getting battered by blood-bats.

“Starp!” said the Balrukh. “Dat izz not da way. We wartch him fall. Den we go to big Balrukh and iron brijj.”

Rrraff was torn . . . should he go out on the stone arch and try to help SilverHorn, or maybe call for him to come back, or should he stick with the Balrukh? Should he break away and run down the cliff-side trail to his right, or to his left?

Taran moved up to less than 10 feet behind Rrraff and Rarrkk. He could also see SilverHorn’s plight, and could hear every word that the people in front said . . .

Meanwhile, back in the cavern . . .

“Where is my treasure?” shrieked the Dwarf, advancing menacingly on Gimor with pickaxe raised to strike.

Gimor could identify madness when he saw it. This Dwarf was clearly insane, a homicidal maniac. Gimor wondered if he could take him with the use of the sword.”

“I don’t have your treasure!” he shrieked back at the mad Dwarf, brandishing his own sword menacingly. “But I know where it is! It is far beyond this cavern in the tunnels leading out!”

“Then Glumli kill,” screamed the Dwarf, crouching as if to spring.

“I will show it to you,” said Gimor thinking quickly. “Just come with me and we will get that treasure together.” Gimor had no idea where the treasure was, but all he wanted to do right now was avoid the fight.

“You show Glumli?” said the Dwarf in a more moderate tone, more of a bellow than a shriek. One could almost see the wheels turning in his mind: ‘Let the Troll show me the treasure. Then I will kill him.’ “You show Glumli, or Glumli show you,” said the Dwarf menacingly, slapping the pickaxe head against a calloused hand.

“I will show you,” said Gimor. “We have to get out of this cavern first – maybe down there where the pool and the plants are.”

“Yes, that is a way out,” admitted the Dwarf. “I know that way. It leads to hot lava-river.”

“But that’s what the legend says. Beyond the lava river is the dragon’s treasure.”

“Glumli has been beyond the lava river,” said the Dwarf. “Glumli did not find the treasure.”

“Do you know the secret signs,” asked Gimor. He was getting into this mock treasure hunt now, carried away with his own imagination. “Did you see the golden rock shaped like a rutabaga?”

“Glumli no see rutabaga rock! You tell Glumli secret signs, or Glumli kill you!” The Dwarf was back to shrieking and almost hopping up and down.

“Then you will never find the treasure,” said Gimor calmly. “I will tell you the secret signs one at a time as we need to find them. Right now, we need to get out of this cave, and find the rutabaga rock in the tunnels.”

“Grrrrrrr!” growled the Dwarf, gnashing his teeth. It sounded like rocks grinding together. “You come with Glumli. We go to out tunnel now.”

Cautiously, Gimor accompanied the Dwarf. “Hey, my name is Gimor,” said the Troll. “We should be friends. Our names both start with G.”

“You are right!” said the dwarf. “Gristlegrim, great god of Dwarves starts with G also. It is a sign! Are you a funny-looking Dwarf, or are you a funny-looking Troll?” He looked at Gimor expectantly . . .

In another part of the caverns, three Goblins were fighting two badly injured Trolls and a wounded Ogre. The Goblin standing above Mahrundl’s badly wounded form snatched up a rock, one handed, because Mahrundl had broken his wrist with a lucky blow.

As he hefted the rock for the killing blow, a streak of purple fire shot into him. Tmuwo had cast another Take-That-You-Fiend spell, and it knocked the goblin backwards into death. Mahrundl gritted his teeth, reached down, and pulled the spear out of his body. It hurt worse than anything he had ever endured, but once the spear had been removed, the wound began to slowly close.

Tmuwo stood up where Mahrundl could clearly see him. He was tottering and weaving so badly he could barely remain erect. “The ring!” he shouted.

The Goblins fighting the Ogre looked back and saw that their comrade was down, but that his killers looked to be failing. They broke off their attack on the Ogre, who took that opportunity to clumsily lumber off in another direction, and charged toward Mahrundl.

Mahrundl slapped his forehead. He might be able to use magic the same as Tmuwo. But he might fail. If only he had thought of it earlier. With great regret, he tore the ring off his finger, and faded out of the race.

Tmuwo also removed his ring. There was no chance of winning now, and no point in dying. They were out.

(to be continued)


This adventure is actually Monsters! Monsters! in action.

 

SilverHorn emerged from a hole in the rock. He had a chipping stone in one hand and a top hat on his head, and nothing else. The darkness of the caverns had been replaced by a fiery glow, which came up off a river of lava flowing about a hundred feet below the edge of the underground cliff. The hot rock made a curious grinding hissing bubbling noise as it moved sluggishly through the caverns below Khazan.

Off to his left drums sounded – slow, muffled, ominous. SilverHorn cautiously began to pick his way to the right. At places the path he was on narrowed to less than a pace in width, and in other places, it widened to more than his own height. After several minutes of walking, he came around a bulge in the rock and found the intersection with another path.

To his right a tunnel opened into the stone. To his left, a narrow span of stone arched out above the lava river. It was no more than 3-feet wide in any place, and there was no railing to keep one from plummeting to his doom on either side. Ahead of him, the cliff-side path continued on into the darkness. Behind him, the sound of drums . . .

Taran decided to thoroughly search his little oasis of life in the desolate caverns. He couldn’t see all parts of it because of the heavy growth of bamboo and other water plants, and also because of the thick stalagmites and curtains of rock that rose from the cavern floor, cutting off his view. He began a cautious, counter-clockwise circle of the oasis. But, it seemed much the same in one place as in another.

Then he heard voices. They were both deep growly voices. He hid to see who or what was coming. A few moments later, he saw a very tall figure and a shorter one walking together like old friends. The tall one, a young Balrukh, spoke in a thick voice.

“Thiz izz der main trell oudda da big untin cave,” it said.

Taran saw that the short figure beside the Balrukh was his old friend Rrraff. Looks like Rrraff had found a guide. And the guide knew the way out – something he would have found on his own in just a few more minutes of searching.

Two possibilities occurred to Taran. He could emerge from hiding and join Rrraff. After all, he had a spear, and the Troll still had nothing but a big friend. Or he could wait, let them go by, and then follow them . . .

Meanwhile, Tmuwo and Mahrundl had made a decision. They would help the Ogre beat off the Goblins with a sneak attack on the Goblins from behind. Tmuwo would start with a Take-That-You-Fiend spell and Mahrundl would rush a Goblin. They hoped the Ogre would be bright enough to counter charge and smash the other two.

Tmuwo stood shakily, pointed his kalimba at the rearmost Goblin, concentrated and intoned the magic words, “Die! Die! Die!” Purple energy streaked from his instrument and struck one of the tiny warriors, and that Goblin went down.

Mahrundl howled a battle cry and charged, swinging the bone club that Tmuwo had given him, ferociously, but not very aptly. One Goblin turned to meet him, parried the club with its bamboo spear, and with a deft move, rammed the spear into Mahrundl’s stomach. A good six inches of bamboo emerged from the small Troll’s back. As he fell, Mahrundl managed one extra blow that struck the Goblin on the wrist and broke it. Then he went down in agony with bamboo piercing him from side to side.

The Ogre tried to redouble its attack, but apparently, it was already weak. The two remaining Goblins dodged its clumsy blows and gashed it on the legs with their spears. Two more lines of dark Ogrish blood oozed onto its pallid skin.

Mahrundl gaped in disbelief at the spear running through his body. It hurt so much. His thick Trollish blood was eating away at the bamboo, but darkness was creeping in around the fringes of his vision. He remembered that he had a way out of the race – all he would have to do is take off the Trollgod’s ring.

Take off the Trollgod's ring and live!

Tmuwo could see that the plan was a disaster. His spell was the only thing that had hurt the Goblins at all. Another spasm of pain ran through him, and once again, he felt weaker when it finished. The poison was doing its work. Still, he thought he could probably cast one more spell before the end, or perhaps he could get away if the Goblins focused on the Ogre . . .

Gimor honestly thought that Middleclaw was dying. The Dragoll had dropped his sword when he passed out. He thought briefly of slaying him, but there was no need. He straightened out the Dragoll’s fingers, found the ring, and pulled it off. As he did so, both ring and racer vanished with a pop of displaced air. Middleclaw had been sent back to the Trollgod.

Gimor reached out and took the sword. A voice in his head said, “You are not the chosen one.” Ignoring the voice, Gimor tried to move toward the center of the big cavern. For several minutes, he advanced cautiously. Cresting a rise in the ground, he saw ahead and below a patch of green and yellow – some kind of living oasis in the cavern. Two figures were approaching it from another angle. He intuited that that would probably be the best direction to proceed, but suddenly . . . a voice interrupted from behind.

“Where’s the treasure, Troll?” something said in a very mean tone of voice.

Spinning around, Gimor saw a Dwarf approaching him with pickaxe in hand, and he looked ready to use it.

Where's the treasure, Troll?

 

(to be continued)


Back for more.

 

 “I’m Rrraff,” said Rrraff. “What’s your name, Mr. Balrukh?”

“Har,” laughed the Balrukh. “Mar name izz Rarrkk.” He stood up. By this time, the giant cockroach they had been eating was just a few battered pieces of carapace and inedible parts. “Lezz go!”

“Do you know the way out of this cavern?” asked Rrraff.

“Izzz many wayz oudda hirr,” said the Balrukh. “Warrr yu wanna go?”

Rrraff didn’t really know where he wanted to go. “Urrr, all the way to the end,” he said.

“Izzz no end,” said the Balrukh. “Goezz many wayzz. Yu wanna zee Goblinzz? Yu wanna see big Balrukh? Yu wanna zee big metal brijj over hot stone riverrr?” Yu wanna zee room of magikk waterzz? Warr yuu wanna go, liddel fellar?” asked the Balrukh.

"Ya wanna see Goblinz?"

Meanwhile, SilverHorn considered his dilemma. He thought that he’d be ok, if he could just break through this wall of rock in front of him. It couldn’t be too thick because there was already a hole in it. He tried kicking it a few times. That hurt his foot. He needed some sort of tool, even a big rock would help. He went back into the passage, but this time he was carefully looking for a big rock he could use.

But he got all the way back to where he had entered the earth-crack through the hole in the floor. There he listened very carefully to find out if the Troll was still around. He didn’t hear anything, so he cautiously crept out, and after some searching, found a jagged piece of rock weighing about 20 pounds on the floor. With this in hand, he re-entered his secret tunnel and made his way back to the end where the hole in the rock was. Then he took his stone tool and tried to chip the hole bigger than it was, or just break down the curtain of rock entirely.

After a good deal of pounding, SilverHorn managed to break enough rock out of the thin curtain in front of him to enable him to crawl through it.

On the other side, he found himself on a narrow path leading to left and right. Directly in front of him was a steep drop, and at the bottom, red-hot lava rolled slowly down through the earth – a line of fire that reached as far as he could see in both directions. The opposite side of the chasm seemed to just be a stone wall.

a line of fire extending as far as he could see in both directions

As he stood there wondering what to do, SilverHorn faintly heard a slow but steady drumming come to him from the left . . .

By the pool, Taran found some sturdy bamboo growing out of the shallows. He picked a nice straight one, and battered at it with his bony club until it cracked. Then he twisted it back and forth until it splintered and finally broke off. That left him with a hollow piece of bamboo about 8-feet long. He pulled off the little twigs, and ate the leaves – he had heard somewhere that bamboo was edible, though it didn’t taste very good.

After considerable searching, he found a sharp piece of rock a few feet past where the plants stopped growing and stone took over. There was a small pile of such rocks and, far overhead, a crack in the ceiling – it looked like they had fallen from above. With the sharp rock, he was able to cut one end of his new spear into a point. When he finished, he laid aside the bone club – it would take two hands to use the spear effectively.

Then he went hunting. He walked into a shallow weedy end of the pool and stood still for a while, keeping as motionless as possible. Finally, he saw a big fat frog. Waiting, waiting, waiting . . . thrust! And he skewered that frog. With a hoot of triumph, Taran pulled the amphibian off his spear, ripped a leg off and bit off a tasty mouthful of meat. In a short time, he had finished off the tasty morsel.

With the edge taken off his hunger, Taran began to think about the race again. A person could survive quite a while where he was, but he wouldn’t win by staying at this pool. It could be an advantage to have food to take along with him, or it might just slow him down and allow someone else to pass him and win the race . . .

Mahrundl and Tmuwo edged their way through the cavern. They began to hear squeaky voices and roaring. Cautiously moving toward the sound on their stomachs, they looked over a rise and saw a combat taking place. Four Goblins armed with short bamboo spears and bucklers surrounded a two-headed Ogre who was armed with a massive stone club. The Goblins darted in and poked at the Ogre with their short spears, trying to slash at its necks or ankles. The Ogre swung devastating swipes of his club, which the goblins seemed to easily dodge. Although, the Ogre must have connected once because a broken goblin body could be seen lying some twenty feet away from the current combat.

Suddenly Tmuwo groaned. “Ahhhhhh!”

The fight stopped and five sets of eyes turned in their direction. Tmuwo and Mahrundl quickly ducked down behind the stone. “What’s wrong with you?” hissed Mahrundl.

“A surge of fiery pain, and now I feel weaker,” said Tmuwo.

“Poison!” they both said together.

Below them, the fight resumed.

“That fight looks like a standoff right now,” said Mahrundl. “If we joined it, we could probably insure victory for either side. The winners might be so happy for the help that they would be our friends and help us with the race.”

“Or they might just see us as a common foe, and then gang up on us and slay us for interfering,” said Tmuwo.

“True,” said Mahrundl, “but we’re not much of a threat to either group by ourselves. And if they were grateful, they might be able to cure your poison-bite. Surely this kind of thing happens a lot around here.”

They thought about it . . .

”Aaarrrrgghhh!” groaned Middleclaw. “That just felt like a needle of fire going through my foot.”

“Poison,” said Gimor. “We need . . . that is . . . you need to do something quickly or you’ll probably die. It’s too late to wash out the poison now. You’ll have to burn it out, but luckily, you’re just the Dragoll that can do it. Great heat will break down the poison and neutralize it . . . I think. Flame that foot, Middleclaw, or die.”

As Gimor delivered this grim news, he edged backwards, ready to put a stalagmite between him and Middleclaw in case the Dragoll lost his temper.

“Flame my own foot, or die!” said Middleclaw incredulously. “Noooooooooooooooo!” His howl of denial and pain could be heard throughout the cavern . . .

Rrraff and Rarrkk looked up. “What was that?” Tmuwo and Mahrundl looked at each other. “Something is dying!” said Mahrundl. Taran jumped to his feet and looked all around. He saw nothing alarming.

Middleclaw blasted his own foot with cleansing fire. The pain was intense – so intense that he passed out. His foot had become a charred and smoking thing. (Actually, it looked and smelled worse than it really was – only the surface layers of hide were burnt, and the blood in that tissue dried up – muscles and bones were not harmed much at all.)

“Claw, Claw, Middy, are you alright?” asked Gimor. There was no reply from the unconscious Dragoll.

Gimor thought that Middleclaw might die. Or he might survive if Gimor removed Middleclaw’s ring. There were possibilities here. Probably the best thing to do would be to simply take the magic sword and leave Middleclaw to his fate. Or take the magic sword and do a mercy killing . . .

(to be continued)


 

“Watt arrr yuuu?” asked the Balrukh thickly.

“I’m a Troll,” said Rrraff. “A really little Troll right now, but I’ll get bigger if I can stay alive.”

“Why arrrr yu here?” asked the Balrukh.

“I’m inspecting these caverns for the Trollgod,” said Rrraff. He waved his ring before the Balrukh’s face. “He can see you right now through this ring.”

“Izz hee a reell gawd?” asked the Balrukh.

“Oh, yes! Not the biggest god around, but he has power. How would you like to get in good with him?”

“How kin I duu thet?”

“Just walk around with me, and help with my survey.”

“Thet sounds like funnn! Wannn some bug t’eat?”

“Don’t mind if I do,” said Rrraff. He looked at the cockroach’s head, tore off an antenna and began chewing off the meat around the base of it.”

 

Rrraff took a bite of cockroach antenna.

Meanwhile, Middleclaw looked at the bloody streak along the side of his foot. It itched and burned a little, but was already beginning to scab over. “You’re kidding about the poison, right?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” said Gimor. “I know a lot of useless stuff, and I’ve heard that most insect bites are poisonous. That’s why they turn red and sting. With a giant bug, the poison ought to be much, much worse.”

“That’s just great,” griped Middleclaw. “I fly down to save you – against my better judgment – and you get away unscathed, while I’m poisoned and going to die. I’m half tempted to kill you right now just to keep you from winning this race.”

“Don’t,” said Gimor. “If we can clean out the wound, you might not suffer too much damage from the poison.”

“There’s nothing here to clean it with,” said Middleclaw.

“But there is,” said Gimor. “Fluids from the bug would only make things worse, and my Trollish blood would burn you like acid, but you have a loincloth that would work as a washrag, and if you washed the wound clean with some of your own blood, you could probably clean out enough poison to survive.”

“I don’t like that idea much,” said Middleclaw.

“I have two other ideas,” said Gimor. “You could cauterize the wound with your own fiery breath. Heat would probably destroy the poison.”

“That’s worse than your first idea,” said the Dragoll.

“Or, you could let me use your sword to cut your foot off,” said Gimor. “But we have to act quickly. Once the poison reaches your heart, you will be in a lot of trouble.”

“It might not even be poisoned,” Middleclaw whined . . .

Mahrundl let out a bellow and raced to Tmuwo’s aid. He didn’t know why he was risking his life this way – he didn’t even have a weapon, but he couldn’t just stand by and see a fellow troll from Trollhalla be destroyed by a giant cockroach.

Wounded and dripping lava-like blood, Tmuwo tried to run, and managed to stagger even deeper into the cave. He heard a yell, but looking back, all he saw was a giant cockroach, frantically trying to rub its mandible against a stalagmite. It looked like he had poisoned it.

As Mahrundl drew closer, he saw the bug acting in an irrational fashion, repeatedly scraping its head against a column of limestone rising from the floor. It didn’t seem to be paying any attention to him, so he ran around it, and continued down the trail, and caught up with Tmuwo.

“Hey, Tmuwo, you’re pretty badly hurt,” he commented. “Need any help?”

“Ugh!” said Tmuwo. “I think I’m poisoned. Yes, I could use some help. What can you do for me?”

“We could bandage the wound. We really need to find a way to clean it out, though.”

“Too late for that. It has already scabbed over. I would appreciate it if you stayed by me and helped me fight anything else that appears.”

“I can do that for a while,” said Mahrundl. “We need to find a way through this cavern, and two fighters might be better than one if we meet more of these beasties.”

The two Trolls staggered onwards, looking for a way out . . .

SilverHorn continued to explore the narrow passageway he had discovered. It twisted and turned, and went deeper into the bedrock. He followed it for what seemed like a long time, and gradually the air grew hotter around him. Finally, the passageway ended in a dead end. A kind of deep rumble issued from the rock around him, and there seemed to be a small hole in the rock ahead of him. Red light poured through the hole. SilverHorn put his eye to the hole in the rock and noticed that a kind of fiery red light was coming from somewhere below him, bouncing up off great stony walls of basalt. There wasn’t too much to be seen, just the light, and stone. He put his finger into the hole and noticed that the stone was less than an inch thick. How he wished he had something more than a top hat to work with. If he only had a tool of some sort, he might be able to break through this relatively thin wall of rock, and if he did, he might be well ahead of the other racers. Or he might be totally lost. Either he had to find a way to go forward, or he had to go back. For a while, he hoped he could find a secret door – after all why have a tunnel that just ends? But there was no secret door to be found . . .

Taran was having the strangest dream. He dreamt that a dozen Goblins found him sleeping in the cavern, that they picked him up, carried him to a section of wall behind the second pool, opened a secret door, and carried him into a dark tunnel. He dreamt that they carried him a long ways, came out into a large cavern, made their way between mighty stalagmites, and finally deposited him beside a reed-choked pool in the rock. He dreamt that he heard frogs croaking. It was all very strange. The croaking lulled him back to sleep.

 

. . . half a dozen goblins . . .

 

When he woke up, he found it was perfectly true. He was lying beside a reed-choked pool in a large cavern. Far overhead, cracks in the stone ceiling admitted more light than he had yet seen in these caves. And he felt quite a bit better than he had at any time in the recent past. The pool didn’t poison him after all. And he was hungry, ravenous in fact. A fish leaped out of the water, caught a dragonfly, and splashed back down. Frogs croaked in the reeds. Taran sat up and tried to decide what to do next . . .

(to be continued)

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What’s an adventure blogger to do?  I need to keep this story moving along lest everyone totally forget about it, but it would be so much better if Greywulf could break free from whatever is keeping him busy, and get me some more monsters in action renders.  This time I cropped the one picture I have from him and inserted bits and pieces of it in the text.  It’s unsatisfactory, really, but better than nothing.

–Ken