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Category Archives: Fantasy Fiction


Gimor Ironfang’s Midnight Adventure

by Mark Thornton and Ken St. Andre and the game players of Trollhalla.

Joyride

Gimor Ironfang rode into the darkened streets of the city of Caerthaeph’t in his trusty sledge, pulled by his faithful donkey named Guh. As he passed by the Eviscerated Nun Tavern, a fellow forest troll yelled at him, “Hey, Ironfang, come in here and a drink with me. It’s your cousin, Brassfang.”

Gimor was  not the troll to pass up a chance to knock back a few brews, especially if it looked like someone else would be doing some of the buying. He hitched his donkey to a post near the front door of the tavern and swaggered in.

Rogim Brassfang proved to be a doughty downer of draft bitter, and was actually good company. He regaled Gimor with tales of wooden-legged leprechauns and emasculated elves. After quite a few too many, Gimor jerked his head up from the puddle of ale on the table when a serving wench called out that there  was something happening in the street–the street where he had left his faithful four-footed traveling companion, Guh. At that moment Brassfang slapped another tankard down in front of Gimor, splashing a good deal of the bitter yellow brew into his already soggy beard, “Have another one, cuz!”

Gimor snatched up the drink, spilling more of it, lurched to his feet, spilling more of it, and staggered to the door, spilling more of it. Brassfang followed him with a puzzled expression on his face. “Where ya going?”

“My, uh my ass needs me,” dribbled Gimor.

“The jakes are the other way.”

Gimor crashed through the door. It crashed against the outside wall, rebounded, came back and hit him, spilling the rest of the drink.

The donkey and the sledge were gone.

“Izzat your sledge?” asked Brassfang, pointing dow the street.

Gimor raised his eyes and saw his vehicle disappearing around a corner. “Hey!” he blurted and started after it.  Brassfang thundered along beside him.

Donkeys are neither cooperative nor fast, and the drunken trolls gained on the two hoods doing the ass-napping. “Wot’s wrong wiv the beast, Rodney?” asked the short one. “I dunno, Del,” whined his weedy partner. “You’re the one supposed to be good with asses.”

In less than a block the two trolls caught up with the would-be thieves. “Let’s beat them up!” snarled Brassfang. “I’ll teach these human scum to keep their hands off a troll’s ass!” Gimor was seeing double. “They outnumber us,” he mumbled. “Maybe they’ll just give me my donkey back.”

Rogim Brassfang waded right into the thieves, delivering smashing blows with hammerlike hands. Del tried to run, but crashed into Gimor, who delivered an overhand blow to the rogue’s face. In less than ten seconds the thieves were down and out, possibly dead or dying, and certainly non-compos-mentis or in other terms, compostible.  Rodney did manage to blow a whistle before going down.

“That’ll learn them!” declared Brassfang. “Hey, I’m thirsty. Are you thirsty?” he asked Gimor.

Gimor walked up the the head of his donkey and patted it.  “Are you all right, old friend?” he asked. In reply Guh reached out and bit Gimor’s flowing beard and started sucking some of the booze out of it. Being a troll’s donkey, he liked beer as much as his master did.

Gimor gave his animal a love tap that made the poor critter weak in the knees.  “Let’s get on back to the bar,” said Brassfang, already turning to retrace his steps.

“Not so fast,” said the city watchman who trotted in out of the shadows. He looked at the thugs on the ground “What’s going on here?”

“Woops! Gotta go!” Brassfang took off into the closest dark alley at the best speed his short legs could muster. (Forest trolls aren’t that much larger than dwarves–they are just much more powerful.) Two watchmen immediately followed him, but catching up with him proved to be a mistake, as they realized the next time they woke up in the city hospital with many bruises and broken bones to show for their efforts.

Gimor didn’t have much faith in the the minions of the law, and was thinking about jumping on Guh’s back, cutting the traces, and trying to make a speedy getaway, when the donkey abruptly sat down.  That pretty much ended that plan.

His faith in the legal process was immediately justified when the watchman gleefully said, “You’re nicked, Sunshine. Say, you look like that bloke wot dun in the fortune teller!  At least you look like the shape in the tea leaves at the bottom of my cup. There’ll be a promotion for me if I bring you in, you murdering villain, you!” The guardsman then clouted Gimor on the side of the head with his magically charged truncheon and the lights went out.

Gimor recovered his senses just in time to face the booking sargeant at the Big House on the Hill. “Ossifer, Glubbrain, I am not interested in your theory that this person has done in some dodgy clairvoyant. Suspects for that job are a dime a dozen. But the fact that you found this man in posession of a donkey and a sledge while standding over two badly injured citizens suggests he might be one of the thieves who have been stealing vehicles all over town.” The sargeant turned to Gimor and frowned sternly, which wasn’t so easy to do as he was just a hobb.  “Say, fellow, are you a thief?” he asked Gimor.

“Certainly not,” the small troll replied. “I’m a victim. I was just getting my donkey and sledge back when your officer came up and arrested me on some crazy charge of murder. I just got into town a few hours ago. You could check at the city gate. They saw me come in.”

“That’s good enough for me,” said the sargeant. “Then maybe you can help us identify some of these thieves.”  The hobb, by name of Officer Dribble, hauled Gimor off to a lineup while mentioning that a lot of carriages, carts, wagons, and even wheelbarrows had been disappearing in Caerthaeph’t lately.

“That’s exactly what happened to my donkey,” said Gimor. “I hope the officers brought him to the station when they brought me in.” Forest trolls are known for their ability to hold their liquor and recover quickly, especially after being unconscious for a while, and so, Gimor was nearly sober again inside the police station.

The hobb said, “We checked on you and know you are a responsible person from out of town. And you’d be doing us a big favor if  you’d identify one of these suspects as a thief.” And he winked broadly.

Gimor soon found himself looking at three suspects, two women and a duck–not just an ordinary duck, but one as big as the dwarf, as well dressed as the dwarf, and looking quite angry about being there.”

Gimor had never seen any of them before. And he hoped he would never see them again. Still, if he could help the law get a true criminal off the streets, that would be a good thing. And they certainly looked like criminals. One woman was obviously a witch; the second one looked like some kind of tattooed streetwalker, and the third was a duck, a race notorious as troublemakers.

The troll stared at the three suspects. They stared back at him. The witch gave him an evil eye, promising to curse him with something nasty if he picked her out.  The streetwalker gave him a lewd gesture and a suggestive smile, silently promising him a good time if he let her off. The duck looked at him with a puzzled expression on its feathery face. Somehow, Gimor, who had an honest streak in his character that surfaced from time to time, just couldn’t bring himself to falsely identify any of them.  “Sorry, Officer, I have never seen any of them before”

The lawman frowned. “Well,” he said hobbishly, “I’d better ask the duck then.” The duck waddled over and eager young constables made Gimor take his place in line. “Quack!” said the duck. “Really?” asked Officer Dribble. “An insurance fraud, I suppose. Well, then, take him away, lads!” The eager young constables frog marched Gimor into the courtroom where Judge Dreadlocks was presiding.

The judge was busy swishing her hair about, knocking over a glass of some dark, foul-smelling brew, and hitting the usher rather stingingly in the teeth. “Let me see the accused,” Judge Dreadlocks demanded in stentorian tones. “Alas, we have no kangaroos at the moment to make  up a jury so we will employ those upright citizens you had lined up outside, Officer Dribble.”

Before long the witch, the streetwalker, and the duck were sitting in the jury box. The aroma of herbs filled the courtroom and the judge seemed lost in meditation, or at least lost. All waited patiently, except for Gimor who was grumbling as only a railroaded troll can grumble. Finally the judge opened her eyes and said, “Obviously this is a hanging offense if the prisoner in the dock is guilty. Let’s not beat about the bush–jurors, the evidence is writ plain on the accused’s face; make  up your minds, innocent–as if– or guilty?  Thumbs up or down if you please.”

Three thumbs down.

Judge Dreadlock donned a black cap and sentenced Gimor to death. Four constables muscled the protesting troll up to the judge’s bench. She whacked him on the head with her gavel and everything went black.

Gimor woke up at a crossroads, something he had not expected to do. It was night, but there was enough light from street torches and the occasional window to see well enough, especially for a troll used to low light conditions in the dark gloomy forests of Trollworld. There was a sign, marked in entrails on the ground, set in concrete, and presumably remade freshly every hour, which proclaimed it to be the way to Death   (left), Painful Death (straight ahead), or Very Painful Death (right).  Gimor slowly spun in place to see if there were any other choices. Behind him was a drooling group of Rednecks swinging steel bars and carrying nooses. There were eleven of them that he could see, and they all looked angry and meaner than Scrooge on a day when he had lost his wallet.

Faced with almost certain death at every turn, Gimor did the one thing that gave him a chance to survive. He turned and faced the murderous crowd that was closing in on him.

The poor fools had no idea what hit them. Gimor Ironfang was a Champion of Trollhalla. Though far from home, a dozen humans had no chance against him in combat. Every blow from his fist, every kick from a booted foot, slew another redneck. After 6 men had gone down in as many blows the survivors turned, and fled, screaming into the night.

After he disposed of the crowd, Gimor returned to the Eviscerated Nun where he found his trusty donkey, Guh,  lapping up his tenth bowl of beer.  Collecting the beast, Gimor bade farewell to the city of Caerthaeph’t. After the events of the evening he had forgotten why he had come to this remote and lawless burg in the first place. He collected a couple of barrels of ale from the tavern, and departed the city with only a few fists shaken at him by the city watch.

As the sun appeared on the eastern horizon, Gimor Ironfang continued his journey toward the distant mountains.

The End.

***********************************************************************************

Author’s Afterword

The story you have just read is the fictionalized account of a short play-through of a solitaire dungeon written for Tunnels and Trolls by Mark Thornton. I took the role of Game Master and player both, and led the hero, Gimor, through the adventure. Whenever a choice came up, I called for a vote from the members of Trollhalla, all of whom were getting each short episode in an  email about twice a day. Plurality took it. Whatever the greatest number of members chose was what the character did in each situation.

Such a play-thru produced a rough draft with a lot of errors in it. For example, I forgot the character Rogim Brassfang’s name and called him Brasshand for most of the adventure.  Setting it all down here gave me the opportunity to correct that.  Somehow I had not noticed that Gimor Ironfang, who actually is a member of my Trollhalla fan club for Tunnels and Trolls, had listed himself as a forest troll. With a name like Gimor Ironfang, I had thought he was a dwarf–a delusion I’ve been under for years. Tonight when I checked to see how many adds he would have in combat, I saw he was indeed a troll, not a dwarf, and so I corrected that. A few other places in the narrative begged for smoother transitions and more information–I smoothed out those rough spots.  The final result is a very short story of a slice of life adventure on Trollworld.

You won’t find Mark’s city of Caerthaeph’t on any map of Trollworld that Flying Buffalo or Trollhalla Press has ever published. I think it is probably somewhere on the great kraken continent on the other side of the world, which is probably where the Phantog jungles are.  But it doesn’t really matter.  Trollworld is a huge place with room for all kinds of new cities and environments where T & T players can set their own adventures. They don’t have to play in my sandbox all the time. I have always thought it a lot more fun for roleplayers to make up their own adventures, thus personalizing the game. My friend, Mark Thornton is truly excellent at this.

A side note: Mark Thornton is an inhabitant of the North Island of New Zealand. He lives in the countryside about 20 miles from the capital city of Auckland. One night in the summer of 2013, his car was stolen. It remained missing for several days, causing him some hardship, but was eventually recovered. The experience served as the inspiration for his solo adventure: JOY RIDE–a very large solo adventure some 68 pages in length. I can sympathize with him. Once about 30 years ago, while I was visiting  San Francisco, my car was stolen from a parking lot downtown.  I had to get back to Phoenix on a Greyhound bus.  I got my car back too–about a week later, which meant a bus ride to the City by the Bay, and a long drive home the following day.  Having one’s car stolen is no fun, but it’s not the end of the world.

If you’ve ever had your vehicle stolen, or been threatened by a mob at night in a strange city, or just like T & T fiction, why not leave a comment?

–Ken St. Andre

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wizardwooing

Chapter 1: Jungles of Phantog
. . .
“Master Mage, we are half a day’s trek from Apys, and that is as far as I have
contracted to transport you. We must make good speed now. There is something
that has picked up your trail, and I have not been able to hide your scent from
it. You must tell me now that you will honor our bargain.”

Kennarith Ko frowned. “How do you know that something has picked up my scent?”
he snarled. “If you had told me there was any necessity to hide my scent, I
could have been doing so for days. Perhaps it is you that something trails.”

“Perhaps, but I have been here before. When faced with a choice of taking me or
taking the wizard with me, it has always chosen the wizard. Perhaps it is magic
that the creature desires. You, you are full of magic, and I have none.”

The Huntmaster looked at Kennarith grimly, staring straight into the icy blue
eyes of the foreign wizard. “Think what you like,” he said calmly. “I need to
know. Will you pay me exactly half of the dowry you will gain should you win a
bride from Apys?”

“I told you I would,” answered the wizard, “but let us be clear about this. If
the dowry is money, then you can have it all. If the dowry is magical objects,
then we can divide them between us. but I get first choice, and we take turns
choosing the other objects. If there is an odd number then you can have the last
item. If the dowry is some spiritual thing,” he hesitated to let the concept
sink in, “if it is increased magical ability or souls or something as yet
inconceivable to me, then you get nothing. I am a wizard, yes, but I am no
master, and I cannot divide the intangible, nor set values on unknown objects.”

Krokett the Huntmaster looked disconcerted. No one had ever spelled out these
different possibilities for him before, but than no one had ever paid him
before. “Will you take an oath on those words?’ he asked.

Late afternoon sunlight slanted down through the heavy foliage above them and
stray beam caught the wizard and made him shine for a just a moment in the
general gloom of the forest. “I vow that I will pay Krokett, and only Krokett,
as I have sworn to do with the dowry from Apys. This I swear on my mother’s
head, and on my spirit’s freedom, and on he honor of the Wizards Guild of
Khazan.”

“I accept your vow. Try to keep up!” said the rugged huntsman. He strode off
between two trees and promptly vanished, just as if he had become invisible or
were only an illusion to begin with.

“So,” mused Kennarith, “The huntmaster seeks to test me. Very well!”  The bracken fern parted as kennarith swiftly followed after the Huntmaster. His years doing menial labor for his magical training had toughened not only his mind, but his reflexes as well. Indeed it had spared him from more than one mishap with Osrek the Alchemists… accidents. His side still tingled when he smelled distilled essence of flame demons.

Kennarith broke into a trot and followed the Huntmaster. He saw movement some forty feet ahead–something pushing through a tangle of vegetation. In seconds he reached it, and shoved through himself. On the other side were two paths leading in two different directions, and the guide was not visible on either one. How did he move so fast, and why?

One path was fairly open and empty as far as the eye could see. The other quickly clogged with the malodorous shrubbery that infested this jungle. Kennarith chose that one, and pushed rapidly forward.

A strong hand reached out from behind a tree and grabbed the wizard’s upper arm, pulling him roughly to the side.
The wizard breathed a sign of relief.

“Good, you kept up with me. Now get ready to fight. Watch!”

A strange beast appeared on the path the wizard had just left. It had the size of a large cat, the face of a fiend, and the tusks of a saber-toothed cave tiger. Krokett locked his gaze on its slitted yellow eyes, took one step forward with knife in hand and let out an explosive yell.

. . .
Krokett’s yell startled the Fiend, because in the blink of an eye, it was gone.

“Whew,” the wizard gasped. “What was that?”

“Don’t relax!” snapped the Huntsman. “It is only changing the direction of attack.  His head moved from side to side as he scanned the forest. Then he grabbed Kennarith’s shoulder and spun him to face the Fiend as it materialized in a leap coming right at him.

Kennarith Ko had thought about what to do, but when the time came for action, he reverted to the most basic kill spell he knew and he put all his wizardly energy into it.  The wizard’s staff crackled with purple energy and an eye-searing bolt of killing force shot out of it and struck the fiend fully in its tentacled chest.

The Thing fell to earth just shy of the two men because of the magical impact, but then shrugged it off, and gathered itself to continue the attack.  In that momentary hesitation, Krokett leaped on it, flailing madly with the great bush knife. Man and beast rolled across the ground in a cacophany of growling (from the man) and a kind of whistling screech (from the fiend).

For the first minute of the fight the wizard watched with eyes agape as man and creature struggled. He quickly understood that this was more than just a physical fight between a man and a beast–it was more of a spiritual struggle manifested on the worldly plane. Once he saw a fiendish claw rip a gaping hole in Krokett’s stomach, but neither blood nor entrail flew out of it. In the next instant the wound closed again af it had never been.

Then the two moved in his direction and it seemed as if the fiend would break free of the man. Kennarith threw off his horror and leaped into the fight, jabbing at the monster with his staff, wielding it like a spear to poke and smash the horrible creature. Every blow seemed to simply glance off the fiend, but Krokett threw him a grim smile, more of a twitch of the lips as battled. Every little bit helped.

And then it was over. With a final howl the unnatural beast stiffened and lay still. Now wounds began to appear on its body, dozens of wounds where none had been visible before. Dead!

Krokett forced himself to his feet, leaned down and cleaned his gore-encrusted blade on the animal’s hide. His clothing had been torn and slashed in many places. Purple bruises began to rise on his flesh.

“Are you all right?” the wizard asked.

“I will live.”

Krokett knelt and pushed a mass of tentacles aside, then made a deep incision in the fiend’s chest. Thrusting his hand into the bloody opening all the way up to the elbow, he felt around and then jerked his arm back out, bringing with it an internal organ.

“What?” The wizard gaped in amazement.

“Its heart. If I do not take it, the creature will live again. See, it still beats.” The bloody red organ still shivered and squirmed in the Huntmaster’s hand.

“What will you do with it?”

“We should eat it. You helped beat it, so you are entitled to a share. Of course, it may poison us, but if it doesn’t . . .” he left the implications unspoken.

. . .
Kennerith’s mind raced as his stomach churned. The thought of eating a
still-beating heart disgusted him, but the though of facing a beast
immune to his spells a second time chilled him to the bone. Furthermore,
if the heart was unhealthy to eat, then letting Krokett eat it all would
place himself in dire peril as well. He could ill afford to let his
guide die – without his help he would quickly become lost in this
jungle, not to mention the other unknown dangers that could lurk in a
place where monsters had developed immunity to magic.

No, far safer if both he and Krokett became ill, but remained able to travel. of course, this was assuming that a single bite would not prove fatal…

This was no time for dithering. Faint heart never won fair maiden, and winning a fair maiden was what he was here to do.

“We’ll split it half and half,” said Kennerith reaching out his hand, “but perhaps it would be safer to eat cooked?” Fire appeared and danced in the wizard’s palm.

“Are you going to cook it in your hand, wizard? I think I’ll eat my part raw.” Krokett used both hands and tore the still throbbing heart into two pieces. He handed the smaller piece to the wizard, then bit into the larger one. Blood dribbled from the sides of his mouth and into his beard.

Kennarith Ko did cook the fragment of fiend heart in his hand. Spitting the fragment on the point of his own sax, he directed little blasts of flame at the meat until it darkened, stopped bleeding, and actually began to smell good.

(Lest you think that the wizard was fireproof, let it be known that calling flame in this manner is usually the first spell a wizard learns. The flame never actually touches him, but springs into existence far enough from the wizard’s hand to not actually burn him.)

“Mmmmm, chewy,” said the wizard as he bit into the fiend’s heart. When he swallowed it, it felt as if a ball of flame passed through his throat, through his chest, and into his stomach. But even as it went down he felt his body being recharged with the kremm energy of magic.

The huntsman washed his bloody meal down with several gulps from his canteen, then offered it to the wizard. Ko took it, wiped the mouth with the sleeve of his robe, and took a big gulp. He was in for it now, no point in being cautious or timid if he hoped to keep his guide’s respect.

“Let us go on,” said Krokett. We are not that far from our destination.” He stepped back onto the path he had been following and set off briskly. Kennarith grabbed his staff and hastened to follow him.

They walked for a couple of hours as the sky grew darker and afternoon advanced. They climbed, and the vegetation changed, somehow seeming lighter in both color and tone as they gained altitude. At the same time, the ground grew soggier, and the muddy forest floor squelched with every step.

Then they crested a ridge, and Krokett pointed. In the center of a rocky hollow stood a great hive building more than 200 meters in height and twice as broad, a building unlike any the wizard had ever seen before.

“This is it,” said the guide, “the home of the Manukans, the People of the Buzzing Bees. This is where you must go to win the Bride of Nature that you seek.”

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Bee_Soldier

Chapter Two: Into the City of the Manukans

Kennarith looked down and saw six soldiers striding up the eastern side of the crater towards him. They walked on stiff-jointed hind legs with a pair of similarly inflexible arms coming out of the mid-point of their bodies. The ebonic sheen of their chitinous skin was swathed with bands of shaggy brown-gold fur. Multi-faceted eyes and twin antenna completed the inhuman picture. Each guard also carried a large pair of diaphanous wings that vibrated as they walked, not enough to lift them into the air, but perhaps it lightened their steps because they approached swiftly. Each guard also carried a long bronze-headed halbard.

“I will leave you now,” said Krokett. “Remember our bargain, and seek me where we first met if you make it out of the hive successfully.” The Huntsman faded back into the jungle.

When they reached his side the leading bee-man looked the wizard over intently. Apparently satisfied, he began to speak in a buzzing version of the Common Speech. It took a few sentences for Kennarith to understand, but the bee-man rejpeated himself until finally Kennarith interrupted him.

“You speak my tongue strangely,” he said slowly, “but I am beginning to understand. You want me to follow you.”

“Correct.” The leader turned and strode away. Kennarith immediately followed him back down the hill. The other five fell in behind him.

In a short time they reached a broad ramp leading up into the hive-building. It led to an arched doorway illuminated by a large sphere that glowed with crimson radiance. Kennarith wondered how many men had passed through this ominous doorway. One of the escorts touched his shoulder and buzzed, “You are the seven thousand five hundred and sixty-first.”

The number seemed absurdly high to the Khazani wizard, but then he reflected that the Manukans were said to have been on Trollworld longer than the men had, and almost as long as the elves.

The soldier continued to speak. “This portal is a means of destruction should our queens decree. The photonic forces it subjugates may be released in any direction they desire. The effect is stark; existence is negated.”

The red light energy made his flesh crawl with a kind of tickling sensation as Kennarith passed through the doorway. The chamber inside held at least a thousand burning beeswax candles, and the air hung heavy, cloying and sweet in his lungs. A wave of sleepiness assailed him, but the wizard clenched his hands and fought it off. It would not be wise to lose consciousness here.

Many more of the soldier Manukans flanked both sides of the atrium. Kennarith could see now that it was but a passageway connecting the exterior with the interior of the structure. A larger, heavier beeman crawled from a passageway above and to Kennarith’s left. He fluttered down to stand directly in front of the wizard.

“You are the thirty-sixth and last of this cycle’s contenders for royal marriage,” he droned. “I repeat, you are the last. This means that the wooing will begin on the morrow.”

“I understand,” answered the wizard.

‘You may rest, take nourishment, and think about what level you would like to compete for.”

Fed with unfamiliar foods, lulled by the humming that seemed to permeate the strange city, Kennarith Ko was taken to a sleeping chamber and left to his devices. He quickly fell asleep.

When he awakened he found cool water and a scroll waiting for him on the bedside table. He washed his face and quenched his thirst. He had eaten so well before his sleep that he felt no hunger. Turning to the scroll he read these cryptic words:

YOU MAY CHOOSE YOUR OWN LEVEL OF COMPETITION:TWO, THREE, FIVE, SEVEN, TEN OR THIRTEEN. IF YOU OVERCOME THE OTHER FIVE CHALLENGERS AT YOUR CHOSEN LEVEL, YOU MAY BE ACCEPTED BY THAT LEVEL’S QUEEN, AND YOU MAY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMPETE AGAIN AT A HIGHER LEVEL OF YOUR CHOICE.

There was a space to indicate his choice, and a pen and ink for writing it.

After some deliberation, Kennarith Ko decided to go for the easiest challenge, and wrote the number 2 in the space provided. As soon as he had done so, the paper magically faded out of his hand. At that moment he realized that he was sensing magic from all sides, and was unlikely to have any warning should enchantment come upon him.

His chamber door opened and in came the large man, or his twin. “Be thou ready for your challenge?” he asked.

“What is my challenge?” asked the Wizard.

“You have chosen to woo Apida the Harvest Queen. It is her duty to ensure that the Phantagonian flowers come to no harm, that they are free from disease, and protected from herbivores that her people may be assured of plentiful pollen supplies.”

“Sounds like a vital task,” Kennarith muttered to himself.

The guide led Kennarith to another chamber deeper inside the hive. Five other wizards were already there. The bee man made introductions and Kennarith Ko met Nux Fractor, Spontaneous Combustius, Perry Stroika, Ali Bongo and Sly Toffand. All were human except for Perry, who despite have rounded ears, was a half-elf.

The bee man led the six contestants into another chamber even deeper inside the hive. There, draped languorously upon a couch reposed the young queen, Apida.

As Manukan women go, Apida was truly lovely. She sported a full and firm thorax, cute stripes of ochre and burnt umber, two lively antennas, and bee’guiling. (Ken’s note: Mark has filled this section of the adventure with as many bee puns as he could come up with, and they are plentiful, but I may skip most of them. If you want to bee entertained by them, get the adventure.)

Apida was besotted with all her suitors. She clapped her four hands together and dismissed the bee man, whose name was Bee’de. “My bee’trothed must have a fine voice,” she buzzed. “You shall all sing for me.” She opened a cabinet and brought out 6 scrolls. “These are some of my most bee’loved songs. Each of you shall choose one and sing for me.”

The six songs are:
1. Honey for my Honey
2. Let it Be’e
3. Be’e My Baby
4. The Buzz of it All
5. Just Can’t Help Be’elievin’
6. Be’e Good to Me

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

By the luck of the draw, Kennarith Ko got to be the last singer.

The six wizards studied their scrolls for a few minutes. None of them were puzzled by them, though some figured then out a little faster than others. Their bee’havior was very civilized, and they took turns singing for the queen. It took a little about an hour for them all to have a turn.

The queen kept score in her head, but did not give any sign of whose singing she liked it best. (the adventure as written says to give the 6 contestants wooing points. Having made all the necessary attribute and saving rolls this is how it stands after the first round of competition:

Perry–200
Ali–200
Spon–100
Nux–500
Sly–200
Kenn–400)

When the singing was over Bee’de the bee man attendant came in with a tray upon which there were six golden goblets, each brimming with a thick brown brew. An overwhelmingly sweet aroma rose from the liquor.

“Drink, or do not drink, as you choose,” said the bee man, “but be aware that this is very potent liquor, and it may becloud your thinking.”

Because he was the last to arrive, Kennarith was the last to confront the queen and give her his one word description. Though many ideas had run through his head, the word he finally decided to use was “majestic”.

After seeing what had happened to Sly, none of the other wizards dared even touch the queen. When his turn came, Kennarith simply knelt before the queen and said “you are the most majestic person I have ever met, but then again, I not met many kings or queens.” A line like that would have made most humans smile, at least, but Apida’s face showed no emotion.
——————
The tests had been gentle so far, but Apida’s thoughts turned to the physical.  She feared that her mate might break during the exchange of genetic material  that must eventually come. It had happened in the past, and so, a test of physical capability was developed.

The queen retired through one door, and the bee man Bee’de took the six of you off in another direction. He brought you all to a hollowed-out honeycomb that was a replica of the queen’s nuptial chamber. There were six divans made of sculpted wax, and he told  you all to lie down upon them.  He then began to spurt honey on Perry from a bell-shaped receptacle on wheels with a hose and nozzle attachment.

“Ewww!” said Perry.  When Bee’de finished he was completely immersed except for his head.

“Are we in any danger from this?” asked Ali Bongo.

“You will not be harmed if you do not struggle,” answered Bee’de, “but you may be seriously injured if you resist.”

It occurred to Kennarith Ko that he as a wizard, and that whatever was in store for him when he was coccooned in a Manukan miasma of melted molasses (okay, honey, but the feeling would be much the same), he should not just take it lying down as a warrior would. He might be able to do something to himself as a wizard, and he wondered what spell he might cast upon himself to better his chances.

Because he was the last to arrive, Kennarith was the last to confront the queen and give her his one word description. Though many ideas had run through his head, the word he finally decided to use was “majestic”.

After seeing what had happened to Sly, none of the other wizards dared even touch the queen. When his turn came, Kennarith simply knelt before the queen and said “you are the most majestic person I have ever met, but then again, I not met many kings or queens.” A line like that would have made most humans smile, at least, but Apida’s face showed no emotion.
——————
The tests had been gentle so far, but Apida’s thoughts turned to the physical.  She feared that her mate might break during the exchange of genetic material  that must eventually come. It had happened in the past, and so, a test of physical capability was developed.

The queen retired through one door, and the bee man Bee’de took the six of you off in another direction. He brought you all to a hollowed-out honeycomb that was a replica of the queen’s nuptial chamber. There were six divans made of sculpted wax, and he told  you all to lie down upon them.  He then began to spurt honey on Perry from a bell-shaped receptacle on wheels with a hose and nozzle attachment.

“Ewww!” said Perry.  When Bee’de finished he was completely immersed except for his head.

“Are we in any danger from this?” asked Ali Bongo.

“You will not be harmed if you do not struggle,” answered Bee’de, “but you may be seriously injured if you resist.”

It occurred to Kennarith Ko that he as a wizard, and that whatever was in store for him when he was coccooned in a Manukan miasma of melted molasses (okay, honey, but the feeling would be much the same), he should not just take it lying down as a warrior would. He might be able to do something to himself as a wizard, and he wondered what spell he might cast upon himself to better his chances.

Kennarith thought about the warning–he had been told not to move, and the one spell that would freeze him in his tracks was Hold That Pose.  He cast it on himself at level 3, knowing that would hold him for up to 8 minutes, and hoping that would be enough.

The honey was extremely hot, and beneath it the wizards heated up very quickly. However, all of them had the same thought, and all had cast Hold That Pose. They all endured the heat well enough, and a few minutes later, Bee’de brought attendants to clean them off. He was somewhat surprised to see that all six contestants came through the ordeal unscathed.

The Queen took one look at her wooers and smiled slightly.

“And now, my would-be wooers,” she buzzed, “it is time for us to take a walk in the forest.  Gather what protective gear you may have, and meet me at the entrance to the hive one hour from now.” She departed to make herself ready for the excursion.

Kennarith did not have much in the way of special provisions to make for himself. He had no armor and little in the way of weapons, since he had counted on the Huntsman to protect him in the jungle. Instead he made certain that he had plenty of water in two canteens, some high energy food, and he put two healing potions in the  pockets inside his robe. He wore knee-high boots and a leather cap inside his wizard’s cowl, and hoped that would be sufficient.

An hour later the six wizards stood at the entrance to the hive. Apida appeared with an escort of 20 soldiers, all fully armed and armored.  The bee men and the queen have protections that outsiders such as Kennarith and the other wizards would never dream of. No such protections were offered to the wizards.

“This walk may be extremely dangerous for you,” warned Bee’de. “Before you risk your lives in the Phantagonian jungles, think, and if you wish, you may back out now.”

The bee soldiers escorted Apida, Perry, Ali, Spon, Sly, and Kennarith along a trail visible only to them. Nux had announced at the beginning that he really didn’t feel up to trekking through the jungle that day, and had retired back to the hive. The constantly beating wings of the soldiers did at least provide enough of a breeze to evaporate the sweat off your body, and thus provide some measure of coolness.

After several minutes of walking, Ali Bongo sidled over to Kennarith and began to speak in the Thieves Cant of the Khazan ghettos. “Ey, matey, ‘ow you like der tests zo far? Gotta offer for ya. Innerested?”

Kennarith looked at the other wizard coldly. “Wotch gots in yer mind?” he answered in the same almost unintelligible jargon.

“Look ere, Palzy. Itz gonna be hard ta know how to win dis ere game. Wotcha say we nooj der oddz a bit. Iffin I wins, i do give you a top job ere, an’ you does der same fer me iffen you gets der young missy. And,” he waggled an eyebrow knowingly, “we alzo duz  wut we kin ter ‘elp each udder wen we kin gainst der odders ere. Woddya say? Deal or no deal?”

Kennarith smiled at Ali, and made a
thief’s sign with his left thumb and forefinger. “Deal,
Palsy,” he whispered, “but keep it on der downlow, hokay?”

“Ri-ite!” grinned the other wizard. “Laters!” He wandered
off. As the walk continued, Kennarith noticed that Ali
approached some of the other wizards as well. Sly gave him a
big grin, Spontaneous looked confused and Perry said, “Wut?
Get away from me!”

Suddenly the brisk march through Phantog ended. The party
entered an octagonal clearing filled with luscious
lascivious, lurid blooms of epic proportions.  Another
twenty Manukan soldiers were standing around the clearing to
protect these flowers.

Some workers opened a large wooden chest they had been
carrying and took from it several large goblets carved from
a translucent, jade-like stone. They gave one cup to each
wizard.

“Go to the flowers and collect the pollen within them,”
buzzed the queen.

The wizards set to work.  For a half-elf, Perry did not
seem to react very well to plants. After only a short time,
he sneezed so hard that he dropped his collecting cup and
spilled what little pollen he had gathered on the ground.
Bee’de approached and told him to stop–his part of the test
was over. The others all managed their tasks with varying
degrees of success.  Surprisingly, Sly was the best at
accumulating flower pollen. When he presented his cup to the
queen, it had half again as much pollen in it as the second
best (Ali) and nearly three times as much as Kennarith had
collected. On the other hand, the other wizards all looked
both tired and dehydrated after collecting pollen for half
an hour, but Kennarith, who had brought plenty of water, and
drank liberally from it as he worked, just felt better and
better.

Just as the queen finished checking Kennarith’s cup, a
strange beast charged into the clearing–a wide-nostriled
mucous wrangler.  It charged, head down, nose down,
firing a shower of snot pellets in all directions.  One
noxious missile hit Ali in the forehead and spattered all
over his face. He went down flailing; his skin turned green,
and he began to vomit, all very quickly.

The soldiers ruahed to attack the elephant-sized beast. It
had already trampled one flower and was bearing down upon
the queen.

With 40 guards coming to the defense of the queen, not to mention three other wizards, Kennarith figured that his best option was to try and save Ali’s life.

His first action was to cast a Call Water spell and wash the poisonous mucous off of Ali’s head, reasoning that the sooner the infection was removed, the less damage would be done. He wished he knew a Too Bad Toxin spell, but he didn’t. It was within his powers to cast it, but a fourth level spell, and as a 2nd level wizard who had recently graduated to 3rd level, he simply hadn’t learned it yet. 4th level spells cost 1500 gold to learn, and the truth was that many wizards learned their higher level spells by getting  more advanced wizards to simply teach them outside the guild offices.

Ali still looked like he might die, his complexion distinctly green and his breath coming in short harsh gasps. Kennarith reached into one of his inner robe pockets and pulled out one of the two healing potions that he had brought with him.  He poured it down Ali’s throat and hoped for the best.

Between the death spells of the other wizards and the furious halbard work of the bee soldiers, the mighty Mucous Wrangler didn’t last long. One soldier was hit by the falling monster and squashed flat.

Queen Apida noticed that three wizards had cast spells in her defense, but that Kennarith had rushed to the aid of the only person in serious danger from the attack. She awarded points to the three wizards who defended her, and none to Kennarith and Ali, but kept in mind that Kennarith had kept his head during the emergency and preserved a life.

When the excitement subsided it was time to return to the hive. The cups full of pollen were closed with lids on top, and the four functional wizards were told that they must carry their cups back to the hive balanced atop their heads in order to leave their hands free for self defense. Kennarith and the other wizards tried balancing the flat-bottomed cups on their heads, and managed for a short time, but they were constantly in danger of falling off.  “This is silly,” Kennarith declared. He removed the cup from his head, pulled open his robe, placed the sealed cup in his largest pocket, and then proceeded along the path with little danger of losing the precious pollen. The other three wizards made similar arrangements.  Sly simply used his hands after the first near mishap, figuring that there were plenty of soldiers to defend him in case of another attack.

Suddenly Apida pointed into the dense lushness of the jungle. “We will take the short cut back. There is something I want to show you. Quick! Find the secret door and we shall be safe and have time to play!”

Perry, Spon, and Sly dashed forward, magic crackling from their fingertips.  Ali remained in the litter that two of the soldiers were carrying. His condition had stabilized, but he was still in no shape for a rigorous walk in the woods.


For the last few days, members of Trollhalla have been seeing me talk about a new T & T novel that I am thinking about writing.  Scenes and situations have been going off inside my head.  Sometimes I have lain awake for hours in the early morning, mentally writing and imagining parts of the new book. 

The book is to be based on a solo adventure that I wrote back in 2010.  It has been a year since I created it, and I think it is just about ready for publication.  Last week it came to me–in that half waking trance between midnight and morning–that the solo was only a preface to a much better work of fantasy fiction that I could do.  And then, this scene came to me, and played itself out in my mind.  I didn’t get a chance to write anything until I got to school, and then I sat for a couple of hours, creating what you will see here.  I am fairly slow as typists and writers go, but I don’t need a lot of revision either.

The best thing with a novel is probably to keep it to oneself, write it, revise it, and try to get it published.  Mostly, that is what I will do.  However, as I have struggled with this idea over the last week, I have also taunted the members of Trollhalla with hints and questions.  Darrgh Tarrho, and Garrlakk, and Moondragon have seen the solo–nobody else has, so they have some idea of what I’m thinking about.  I hope you all get the chance to read and play the solo before the month is over.  Meanwhile, it is time for me to start getting these ideas out of my head and into written form.  They may not come out in a nice orderly sequence.  The story will probably assemble itself like a jigsaw puzzle, but . . . here is the first scene.

Vvvarrr, the dragon that made Lerotra’hh an immortal.
The art is by Miika Spray, also known as Moondragon, a terrific artist and a valued friend and member of Trollhalla.  I hope she won’t mind me showing the first sign of it here.

********************************************************************

Vvvarrr looked at her new servant, and wondered if this human man was smart enough to be her servant.  The urukin woman, Lerotra’hh, was already an accomplished wizardess when she came to the dragon and offered herself over seven centuries earlier, but this man, this Neth was only a rogue.  Yes, he had daring and courage, but did he have wit?  She decided to test him.

“Thiss iss your firsst tassk as my sservant,” she hissed.  “Give me everything you own.  Jusst put it all on the treassure heap!”

Neth thought it was a very strange command.  The dragon owned so much, and he owned so little.  Why would she want to take that little away from him.  Perhaps it was some kind of test.  He shrugged out of the straps that held his pack, and then swung it off his back, and pitched it onto the treasure heap.  It didn’t contain anything breakable.  Then he unbuckled his sword belt, and lightly tossed it along with the attached sword and dagger onto the pile of gold.  Finally, he turned out his pockets, producing a few gold and silver coins along with a very small folding knife, some string, and a few pieces of flint.  Tossing that bric-a-brac onto the edge of the pile, he turned to face the dragon.  “I think that is everything I own.”

“NO!” Her voice was louder now, with an undertone of menace.  “I ssaid, give me everything you own.

Neth looked at the great green reptile in dismay.  He had just given her everything he owned, right down to the lint in his pockets.  Pockets!  He still had pockets and clothing.  Could she want that too?  She did say everything.  He hastily took off his fur jacket, and tossed it on the pile.  Vvvarrr watched him, and did not say a word.  She just let a bit of steam escape from one of her nostrils.  After the coat he lost his shirt, his trousers, his boots, his loincloth, tossing each item onto the dragon’s pile, until he stood there naked.  He had no rings, no jewelry to add.

“That is absolutely everything I own,” he told her with hands spread wide.

Vvvarrr roared and a jet of flame shot above the rogue’s head.  The sudden heat made sweat pour out of his body.  Her eyes glowed with hellish red light, and her mighty talons clenched and unclenched.  “I tell you for the third and lasst time!” she bellowed.  “GIVE ME EVERYTHING YOU OWN.”

Neth knew that he was failing his new mistress in some way, but he could not think how.  He had given her everything he owned.  And she wasn’t satisfied.  In that moment he knew he was going to die horribly in the next few seconds.  He could see her inhaling.  The next gout of flame would roast him.  What else could the dragon want?  Did she want his hair, his teeth, his immortal spirit?

And then it came to him.  Maybe she wanted all of those things.  Closing his eyes, Neth threw his body on the great pile of treasure, landing spread-eagled and butt up just as a blast of dragonfire blossomed in the place where he had been standing.
“Much better,” purred the dragon.  “You could have ssaved much time if you had done that at the beginning.  Being a sservant iss new to you, but I expect intelligence and obedience from you.  I gave you three chancess thiss time, but it will not happen again.  If you cannot undersstand ssimple commandss, then you are not worthy of immortality–not worthy to sserve me.”

“Yes, mistress,” Neth answered, remaining on his bed of gold.  “I am sorry.  I did not truly understand what you meant.”

The dragon simply glared at him for a while.  He lay quietly and did not dare to look at her.  Then he felt a human hand smack into his buttocks and heard a silvery laugh.  Looking up, he saw the sorceress who had called herself Rav now standing beside him.  “Dress yourself and take your old weapons and gear, but remember that those items as well as you yourself belong to me now.”  She spoke now without a trace of the sibilance that had marked the dragon’s voice.

He quickly put his clothing back on, all except for the heavy coat.  The cavern had grown much too warm for him to need it.

“We must find a place for you to rest,” said Rav.  “Follow me.  I think perhaps the urukin’s old bedding place might serve.”

(to be continued)


Part 4

For several weeks Yorrdamma wandered alone in the woods, living off the land.

 He was now nine years old, and because of Aylgamer’s enchantments, had already

 reached physical maturity, standing about six feet tall and weighing around two

 hundred and fifty pounds. His bones were ogre-hard, and his trollish muscle made

 him twice as strong as a man of similar build. Given the spells he had learned and

 the fighting and brawling skills he had been taught, he was not to be taken lightly in any kind of fight.

So, when one night, he was set upon by a small patrol of SWA consisting of six orcs,

he gave an excellent account of himself, slaying five before their leader finally wounded

 and overpowered him. As the big brawny orc cursed him and prepared to deliver a fatal

 stroke with his sword, an Elf arrow suddenly pierced his thick neck, killing him instantly.

Throwing the body of his foe off, Yorrdamma struggled to his feet. Out of the trees and bushes

 around the scene of the fight came a group of fighters, all applauding him. After cautious

 introductions had been made, they bound up Yorrdamma’s wounds, and took him back to their camp.

This was a small group of mercenary fighters dedicated to making war on Zekrim Gedokrist

 and his evil servants. All of them had been injured, and/or lost friends or loved ones to the

 depredations of the Withered Arm, and were sworn to vengeance. Their chief and leader

 was a wood Elf named Feyanor who was master with the Elf bow. The others included:

 Barlow, a Hobbit Rogue and Assassin; Mikallus, a grizzled veteran of many wars and

 conflicts who was deadly in battle; Hogar, a hulking Berserker and one man wrecking

 crew; and a female half-orc named Zunda, a Rogue both woods wise, and skilled in the

cantrips and hedge magics known to the forest peoples.

When they had heard Yorrdamma’s sad story, and shared their own tales of woe,

 they voted to adopt him into their little company. Yorrdamma’s ability to render

 first aid and healing served him as well as his fighting prowess, and his ability to

 throw a good sized rock like a small cannon ball amazed them. Over the next year

 he served well and faithfully in the group, and was, in turn, taught many useful things

by each of the members. With his eidetic memory he soaked up new knowledge like a

 sponge. For twelve months they labored to kill and harrass the SWA wherever and

 whenever they could, and they became a major thorn in the side of the commander in charge of the area.

Finally, tired of having to report this nuisance to his superiors at Hari-Na-Gregulden,

the commander put together a squad of his best warriors and sent them out to rid him

 of these pests, or not to return! In an ensuing ambush by this large and terrible force,

 Yorrdamma alone was able to extricate himself from the trap and flee. Grieving his slain

 brothers and his sister-in-arms (she had taught him more that just magic and Rogue skills),

 he fled from the friendless and now deadly Fenwood, and headed out onto the great plains

 of Valesia, looking for a city somewhere where he might finally make a life for himself.

Part 5

To understand the world in which Yorrdamma Vrash struggled to survive,

 it is necessary to give a bit of the history of the kingdom of Valesia. This nation

 was founded by the Priest Kings of the City State of Mora who ccnquered their

 neighbor states and united them into a single large kingdom. They then built in

Mora a great temple to their deity Omvar who sent them a stone tablet containing

 laws and spells to ensure their sovereignty.

But, in the far west, the Gedokrist family, who worshipped dark gods,chafed under

 the rule of the of the Valikor monarchs, During the reign of Valikorin VI,

Diskorjia Gedokrist came to Mora and used her dark sorceries to seduce the king.

But, when it was learned that she carried the king’s child, she was forced to flee

back to the fortress on Mount Angwich, and her dreams of becoming the queen of the land were dashed.

Here she festered, full of hate and frustration, and she gave birth to Zekrim Gedokrist whom

 she swore to vengeance. It was also at this time that she began the experiments in Troll husbandry

 that produced Urdammu and eventually, Yorrdamma.

When Zekrim reached maturity he and his mother took their army and set out to attack Mora.

(This was the time when Yorrdamma was born and his mother escaped from the castle).

 Diskorjia’s agents had stirred up much unrest in the nation over the years, and she had

 pursuaded the Duke of the city of Kardyak to attack Mora promising him aid (which never came).

While the army of Mora was off crushing the hapless forces of Kardyak, Zekrim and his host entered

 Mora at night through the vast sewer system beneath the city. They stormed the palace and slew the

 king there. They then took the crown and went to the great temple. No one could be king of Valesia

 unless crowned in the presence of the Holy Tablet. But, Falordin, the High Priest, would not crown

 Zekrim, and, when he received word that the army of Mora was returning in haste, in his rage he

 slew the stubborn priest, and then threw down and shattered the Holy Tablet. Immediately

 the temple was rocked by an earthquake, and with a great peal of thunder the Deva Aramvolt

issued forth from the broken tablet, and smote Zekrim with his rod of Divine Retribution. ” Withered forever

 in dire agony shall remain the arm that dared profane the tablet of Omvar”, said the Angel. He then gathered

up the shards and disappeared.

Zekrim was carried away in great pain by his minions. As they fled from Mora,

 the cavalry of Mora entered the gates in pursuit. Diskorjia stayed to delay them,

but her act cost her her life. Hard pressed, Zekrim’s group fled west, hotly pursued.

But as they climbed the western hills the stricken wizard found enough strength to

 destroy with a Hellbomb Burst the stone dam that held back the lake in the hills above

 the Mora flood plain, and the pursuing cavalry and the city of Mora were overwhelmed

and buried in a sea of mud and debris.

So Zekrim returned, defeated, to his castle which he named Hari-Na-Gregulden,

the House of Bitter Torment. While Valesia broke again into many small city states,

 he tried to relieve the agony of his withered arm, but to no avail. No remedy could

 abate its pain, and, if removed, another like it grew back with terrible pain and suffering.

 Finally Zekrim became a lich, but even this did not win him respite. He then took a vow

 that he would not rest til he had conquered Valesia, and all the world of Kaball, and all creatures suffered as he did.

Thus he gathered his resources and began to create the Servants of the Withered Arm which

 were to cause so much grief and trouble for Yorrdamma and for all the people of the former nation of Valesia

Mad Roy Cram channelling Yorrdamma Vrash

———————————————————————————————————————–

And here I thought that Mad Roy had promised me a short biography of Yorrdamma Vrash.

Apparently, this semi-biblical narrative will go for a long, long time.


Here I continue the strange tale of Yorrdamma Vrash.  Actually, Roy Cram continues it.  Let me emphasize that I, Atroll, am not writing or making this stuff up–I’m just passing it along. 

__________________________________________________________

Yordamma Vrash, part 2

   After Urdammu fled into the forests near Castle Gedokrist she found herself in a place completely foreign to her experience. But, thanks to Aylgamer’s magics she was pretty smart and a troll can eat most anything. She was able to find fruits and berries to subsist on and baby Yorrdamma had his mother’s milk to sustain him. At first her main goal, and a wise one, was to put as much distance between herself and the Castle as possible. She was lucky too, that she did not encounter any large or really dangerous creatures during that that time.   After about a week of hard travel thru the woods Urdammu heard roaring and cries for help. She went to see who was in danger, and in a small clearing, found two Hobbit women in a small tree threatened by a large brown bear.  The bear then made a bad decision and attacked the 8 foot tall 500 pound she troll, and Urdammu made good use of her big ironwood cudgel and dispatched the creature. When the Hobbit men arrived they found their ladies teaching the huge troll how to skin and field dress the bear, while they held the tiny Yorrdamma.  After explanations were made the Hobbits were grateful and invited Urdammu and her child to stay a while with them. While most of their previous experience with trolls had not been good, Urdammu’s intelligence and docile nature to those who did not offer her harm won them over. In the days that followed the big she troll proved to be a huge help to the little folk, helping them with the heavy chores like tilling, and chopping wood and clearing brush. She also kept away large creatures that might otherwise find a Hobbit an easy prey. The Bobbin family decided to take her and her baby in, and she was happy there with them.

The Bobbins consisted of Grandpa Bobbin and his wife, his two sons and their wives, and a boy and girl Hobbit. They lived together in a nice cave which they had made into a comfortable Hobbit hole.  Yorrdamma grew up here in this pleeasnt and peaceful environment, and all were amazed at how quickly he grew (Aylgamer’s meddling made him develop quickly), and they were even more amazed at his amazing memory and intelligence. By the third year he could speak Hobbit and Common tongue and had learned to read (and had memorized) the few books the Hobbits owned. At that point Grandpa Bobbin began to teach the little fellow (who was now as large as an adult Hobbit) all he could. Grandpa Bobbit had delved for a good while as a Rogue and done well. He taught Yorrdamma all he could of the basic Rogue skills. He also taught him, along with the Hobbit children, how to fight with a knife, a sling, and a club. In addition, both Urdammu and Yorrdamma learned to throw rocks from their Hobbit friends who were masters of that skill. In Yorrdamma’s fourth year the Bobbins became friends with an ageing Crone who lived nearby. They helped her with food and with chores she could no longer perform herself due to age. And here Yorrdamma learned his first magics. The Crone was a powerful witch and saw the potential in the little troll. Like Grandfather Bobbin she taught him all she could about the plants of the woods and how to use them for healing and other purposes. She was amazed at how quickly he picked up the knowledge and the ability to use the few spells she was able to show him. Here he learned to cast: Detect Magic, Bug Plague, Got a Match?, Hello Sunshine, Nofeelums, Psychic compass, Spit In Your Eyes, You Clot, and Will-O-Wisp.

   Alas, Yorrdamma and Urdammu could have lived out their days with the Bobbins happily, but the Gedokrist, having failed to overthrow and conquer Valesia, now sent out the Servants of the Withered Arm. And one awful day, when Urdammu and Yorrdamma returned to the Bobbin Hobbit hole, they found it pillaged and ruined, and the Hobbits all dead except for the two youngest Hobbits who had been hidden away by their grandfather when the SWA attacked. Urdammu and her cudgel made short work of the few SWA goons, except for one that escaped. Urdammu realized that they would come back in force, and she gathered her child and the two young hobbits and what they could salvage and fled for the nearest settlement a two day journey away. They tried to talk the Crone into coming, but the old witch sent them on their way. She gave Yorrdamma an old magic wand that had belonged to a wizard friend, and then went back into her little house to prepare a warm welcome for the SWA.

   Thus ended the days of Yorrdamma and Urdammu’s halcyon stay in the woods

Part 3

About a day’s journey to the east of the Hobbit’s home was the small village of Inyerface. Here a few hundred hardy souls made a living from the woods, trading mainly in furs and wood  products. Urdammu and Yorrdamma and the two surviving Hobbits arrived there and were admitted only because the Hobbits had relatives in the town. Urdammu, however, was able to find work moving freight for a local merchant. The people of Inyerface did not trust or like Trolls though, and were not friendly to the big she troll or her offspring. After Urdammu busted a couple heads of locals for teasing and tormenting her son, she joined a merchant’s caravan as a guard and headed east again.

   They finally settled in another stockaded hamlet where an old Wizard had established a trading post and infirmary and dealt in magic goods. The wizard, Boniface, was pleased to gain the services of a Troll since he used small amounts of Troll blood in many of his healing remedies, and he took Urdammu and Yordamma into his house. He was also fascinated by the remarkable differences in these Trolls which did not fit in with the characteristics of any Trolls he was familiar with. Here Yorrdamma began his education in earnest. Boniface and his wife were astonished at the young trolls memory and intelligence and began to teach him spells and other essential skills. Here he was taught Take That You Fiend, Hold That Pose, Knock Knock, Lock Tight, Oh There It Is, Oh Go Away, Vorpal Blade, Dura Spell,  and Poor Baby. He also became adept at making potions and charms.  In addtition, he was educated by a grim old warrior, whom he tended and helped heal, to fight with two knives at once, and got a thorough education in the nasty art of Brawling which stopped the locals from teasing and annoying him. Soon the yound Troll was a full fledged member of the infirmary’s healing staff and an expert in first aid and treatment of all kinds of diseases and injuries.  In the four years he spent here he reached a height of five feet and weighed a stocky two hundred pounds.

But Zekrim Gedokrist continued to work his evil on the world, and one dark day, the Servants of the Withered Arm fell upon Boniface’s little community and overran it. Yorrdamma was not present as he had left early in the morning to gather herbs and plants for his medicines in the woods, but Urdammu and Boniface and the rest of the town fought desperately. As Urdammu battled furiously with her great cudgel, a wizard entered the fray and attacked Boniface with his spells. Urdammu recognized this new foe as Aylgamer, the one who had made her and her son. Boniface managed to disspell Aylgamer’s shield spell but was overcome by his vicious response. However, his back was turned on the field as he throttled the old wizard, and Urdammu took a large round stone the size of an orange from her belt pack and threw it with great force. The Hobbit’s teachings and years of practice served her well; the stone embedded itself in the back of Aylgamer’s skull. Thus perished the evil monster maker of Castle Gedokrist.  Urdammu fought bravely on, and was the last to fall in this battle, using an orc as a club as the rest dragged her down, pierced by many weapons.

   When Yorrdamma returned he was horrified to see what had happened. There were only a few orc SWA still there looting the ruins. They attacked the young Troll wizard and he dispatched them with his powerful spells and his flashing blades. Then he found his mother surrounded by heaps of the SWA whom she had slain. She opened her eyes and smiled at her son, then died in his arms. He had exhausted his kremm fighting the orcs and could not help her, and he wept bitter tears of grief, Later, as he stood before the cairn under which he laid her body, he swore an oath that some day, some how, he would make Zekrim Gedokrist regret that he had ever been born. Them he gathered his meagre belongings together and headed east again, making his lonely way in an unfriendly world.

 to be continued


The following strange tale comes to me from a member of Trollhalla, one Roy Cram by name.  Back in the day he published a couple of solo dungeons with Flying Buffalo.  He mentions places I’ve never heard of, and mating practices that seem unlikely to say the least.  He seems somewhat confused, but I’ll let him tell his tale.  The troll mother he describes must be one of the fleshy trolls and not a true rock troll as rock trolls do not mate and reproduce in the fashion he describes.  Aside from that I suppose we should believe most of this delirium–after all, we do actually have Yorrdamma Vrsash himself as proof that some sort of miscegenation produced him.

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combination Goblin and Troll--guess at the appearance of Yorrdamma Vrash.

Yorrrdamma Vrash’s story part one

Oh Great Khenn Arrth:  I, Yorrdamma Vrash, crave Your attention. Attend me I beg you. Here,  on this crude stone altar that I raised, I offer You the life blood of this Goblin who, with his companions, now dead, tried to murder me as I rested here in the midst of the Mistywood (Sound of squealling cut short by the Whack! of a Sax severing a neck). Long I have wished to tell my story, and since the recent battle with the goblin thieves has made sleep impossible, I now propose to narrate the tale of my life. May it please You to hear it.

If not, You are a Deity, and can do as You please. If I displease You, pray do not smite me.

Ignore me if I am beneath or unworthy of Your notice, but my life passes burning through my memory now, and tell the tale I must, if only to these four dead Goblins and these mist enshrouded trees.

Yorrdamma was born in the Troll warrens beneath Castle Gedokrist on Mount Angwich. This was in the days before Zekrim Gedokrist buried the great city of Mora beneath a sea of mud. It was in this time that the Gedokrist was busy raising a huge army to make war on his half-brother, King Valikorum of Valesia. Zekrim was determined to have a large contingent of Trolls in his army for ‘shock’ troops. Since the hill and rock trolls of this region were unruly and mostly opposed to serving as his vassals, Zekrim assigned the wizard Aylgamer to ‘recruit and train’ a group of Troll soldiers. To this hard task Aylgamer diligently applied himself.  He rounded up a large number of trolls and began to ‘train’ them, using magic and harsh discipline. In addition he started a series of experiments in selective and magic enhanced breeding to produce a creature more suitable than the rough and hard to control feral Trolls. His efforts began to create a race of Trolls that were smarter, tougher (!), more tractable, and able to sustain exposure to sunlight. All seemed to be going well.

Yorrdamma’s mother was one of the first generation progeny using Rock Trolls. She was impressive physically and relatively docile, but smart enough not to let on to her masters that she was a good deal smarter than they thought she was. When she reached the age of bearing young she was impregnated with Troll semen laced with traces of magically enhanced human, Ogre, and Demon seed.  Her gestation proceeded at a rapid pace, and Yorrdamma came into the world early and unattended. He was tiny and ugly, a ‘runt’ troll or Trollish equivalent to a human dwarf. But Urdammu’s heart was overwhelmed with love for this tiny ugly helpless creature. She had seen the progeny of her Troll sisters removed from them at birth, and knew that this babe would go straight to the kitchen to enrich some pot of stew. This was the first thing in her life that she felt really truly belonged to her. So, when Aylgamer’s Orc assistants saw she had borne offspring and tried to take the whelp from her, she tore the arm off the first and beat the second one to death with the bloody end of the amputated limb.

Now at this time Zekrim was mustering his army for the assault on Valesia and there was much confusion in the camp.  Urdammu wrapped her baby in a blanket, put him in a box of supplies, found a big cudgel and took off through the camp looking like she had business to attend to. She left in her wake, with crushed heads, a couple of orcs who dared to try and hinder her with questions, and made it to the woods before her escape from the warrens was noticed and an alarm raised.

This is the end of part one – part two to follow soon.

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Here the narrative breaks off, although the writer has promised me more of this weird tale.  Note the antique language–orc instead of uruk, also the antiquated notion that gods require blood sacrifices.  In these modern times blood isn’t that much good to us.  Money is the sacrifice we really want from our followers.

Well, we will see what comes of Yorrdamma Vrash’s autobiography.

end

 


Strictly speaking this is not a Delvers Tale, but it is partially about stories, and thus fits better here than in Atroll’s Entertainments.  This blog is a commercial in which I am going to try and get you to buy something from me.  If you’re not interested in even thinking about buying stuff from me, stop reading now.  Nobody is twisting your arm here.  (Grin).  (I mean, if I could send a giant troll to your house to twist  your arm and get you to buy my stuff, I totally would do it, but that’s not possible.)

The glowing demons just kept coming at the black-armored knights of Mandrikor.

Trollhalla Deals  #1

Trollhalla Deals is an occasional publication by me, Ken St. Andre, in which I try to find good homes for some of the material I have lying around the house.  This material should be of interest to anyone who feels that my writings are in any way worth reading or collecting, and probably not of much interest to anyone else.  It also contains some miscellaneous Tunnels & Trolls material by other people.  I am selling it to get some material to support Trollhalla activities (such as paying the artists for their work in Trollhalla Press publications), and to find good homes for the material among my friends.  No one is under any influence to buy anything here that you don’t really want.  This is the October 2011 edition of Trollhalla Deals.

 

Auction Items

Auction Rules:  Send your bid for any of the items listed below to me at: kenstandre@yahoo.com.  Payment is usually through paypal.com, but you may pay by check, money order, or cash.  I will estimate a cost for postage when I tell you that you won the item.  If anyone outbids you, I will tell you what the high bid is and give you a chance to beat it.  If you are high bidder, I will tell you.  Any competing bid must beat the previous high by at least $1, and I urge you all to work in integral multiples of $1—let’s not monkey around with bids like $3.42.

  1. 1.       The Amulet of the Salkti (T & T solo #20) designed by David Steven Moskowitz.  Front cover by Stephan Peregrine; interior illustrations by Michael Kucharski.  A Flying Buffalo Blade Production.  First Printing.  October 1984.  37 p.  condition: very good.  Starting bid: $5.
  2. 2.      The Sorcerer’s Scrolls issue 37.  A gaming fanzine produced by Tori Bergquist in 1991.  Tori is a member of Trollhalla where he goes by the name of Tyrrrannosaurrr.  There is some T & T material in the zine including this quote which seems kind of funny 20 years later.  “There has been some talk, most speculation, going on about the possibility of producing the mythical 6th Edition of T & T (A T & T: the right choice . . .)  It is my advice that all great fans of the game and devout die-hards (all nine of us) should write to Rick Loomis at Flying Buffalo, P.O. Box 1467, Scottsdale, AZ 85252.  Believe me, folks; T & T, as fun a system as it is, needs a good shot in the arm (or swift kick in the butt) to get it in step with modern times, and a 6th edition is the way to go.”  This issue also contain material by Trollhalla members Rrramberrrt and Kroommmp (Dan Lambert and Steve Crompton)  38 p.  illus.  Condition: excellent.  Starting bid: $5.
  3. 3.      Photocopy version of Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon spiral bound in green cardboard endpapers.  Fiendishly designed by the justifiably infamous Ken St. Andre, Outstandingly illustrated by the artistically imaginative Liz Danforth, modestly produced by the humanitarian folks at Flying Buffalo, Inc.—A Cosmic Circle Production.  First edition.  Copyright January 1977.  The cover has a note in my handwriting: “Ken St. Andre—Corrected Copy”  However an examination of the interior fails to reveal any obvious corrections.  The pages are one-sided.  Liz’s illustrations are somewhat washed out—the heavy blacks didn’t come through at all.  Condition: Good.  Starting bid:  $5.
  4. 4.      Buffalo Castle.  2nd edition.  Designed by Rick Loomis from an idea by Steve McAllister; cover and illustrations by Liz Danforth.  Flying Buffalo, solitaire adventure #1 for Tunnels and Trolls.  13 p.  copyright 1982, 1976.  Condition:  Perfect.  Starting price: $5.
  5. 5.      Strength.  June 1998.  (This isn’t T & T at all.  It is the masters for a personal zine I was doing back in 1997 and 1998 for the Tarot amateur press association.  8 p.  It is based on an idea I’ve been espousing for the last 20 years called Found tarot (i.e. tarot images are pervasive within out culture and can be found in many different places).  It features an original short story called Arcane’s Journal: The Four of Coins by me.  The story went out to members of my Crossover Earth superhero writing group back in 1997 or so, but has not been seen elsewhere.  I am thinking of transcribing it and putting it on the web in one of my blogs—I hate to waste my creative impulses.  Condition: some corners are bent, but otherwise good.  Starting Price:  $5.
  6. 6.      Oracle, science fiction and fantasy anthology magazine, vol. 1, no. 1.  About 32 p.  c.1982.  This isn’t strictly T & T either, but there is a T & T connection or two.  This was a startup fantasy zine in 1982—a paying market that never made it as a continuing magazine.  I was honored to be part of the first issue along with: Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Daniel Gilbert, Eve Linkletter, Bruce Boston, Michael Stackpole, Terry L. Persun, and Dave Lillard.  My story was called “Mandrikor” and it is my favorite of all the swords and sorcery stories that I ever wrote.  Earlier this year in February, I adapted my Mandrikor story into a G.M. adventure for Tunnels and Trolls, and I ran it twice this year—the first time for Lezzirf and Trrrommm at DundraCon in February.  Stackpole’s story—The God of Thieves–is also fantasy and has a very T & T like feel to it.  One is a slightly faded news stand edition, and the illo from my story is on the back cover.  The other is a coffee-spotted free author’s copy and the illo from my story is on the front cover.  The interiors are identical, but one was splashed with coffee which I hurriedly wiped off.  Starting price: $3 for each one.  Specify which you are bidding for. 

 

Store Items

The following items are T & T things that I have that I would like to pass on to other homes, but do not believe them to be worthy of auction.  Many of them are Outlaw Press items produced by James Shipman during the years in which he was a member in good standing of Trollhalla.  These items have a fixed price.  Take it or leave it.  20% of the money raised by selling these items will be donated to Grumlahk’s Transplant Fund.

  1. 1.       Troll Quest, a T & T Monsters! Monsters! Solo, by James L. Shipman and Jack Spencer Jr.; edited by Brian Penn & Jack Spencer, Jr.  (originally developed by Alan LaVergne.)  Muse help by Thomas K. Loney.  Etc.  22 p.  The art looks like clip art, but is skillfully inserted.  <No copyrights, no trademarks 1st edition, May 1st, 2001>  Condition Excellent.  Price:  $5.
  2. 2.      The Hobbit Hole Magazine #6. (4 copies).  42 p.  profusely illus.  This T & T zine was produced in May 2006 and contains material by several Trollhalla members including: Andy Holmes (The Ice Cavern of Isahill—mini solo dungeon) and Mike Hill (The Dungeon of the Rat) and Tom Loney and Christina Lea (Kopfwerks).  Condition: Excellent.  Price:  $5.
  3. 3.      The Hobbit Hole Magazine #13 (1 copy).  March 2008.  88 p.  Color covers.  Profusely illus.  Contains material by Trollhalla members Rob Lotze, Ken St. Andre, Dalton Calford, Andy Holmes, Tim Labor, Mike Hill, Jon Hancock, Jeff Freels, Gynn Stella.  This is very high quality work, probably some of the best that Outlaw Press ever did, but there is reason to believe Jim was already using appropriated artwork.  Price: $10.
  4. 4.      Tunnels and Trolls Free RPG Day Handout 2007.  (Many copies).  Features a short version of the T & T rules.  A reprint of Goblin Lake, the first mini-solo by Ken St. Andre designed for a goblin protagonist with the original interior illos by Liz Danforth.  A great original Goblin Lake painted front cover by Simon Tranter. (Ramsen Triton of Trollhalla).  Condition: Like new.  No.  not free from me any longer, although I will give one to anyone who pays the Trollhalla Troll tax for 2011.  Price:  $3.
  5. 5.      Strange Destinies; written by Ken St. Andre, Covers by David Schumacher and Jarek Gach; interior illustrations by Jeff Freels; edited by Mari Volmar.  Outlaw Press, c2007.  24 p.  This solo dungeon never should have been included with the 7.5 version of the T & T rules—it is much too difficult for beginners.  The intro says it is “written for warriors only: big warriors.  Rock Trolls, Ogres, and Balrukhs are the recommended kindreds.”  Condition: Like New.  Price:  $10.
  6. 6.      The Hobbit Hole Magazine #16.  (1 copy).  July 2009.  Color covers.  Profusely illus.  Contains material by Trollhalla members Brian Penn, Andy Holmes, Robert Lotze, Ken St. Andre, Tom Loney, Andy Holmes, Dan Hembree, David Crowell, Mari Volmar, and Jeff Freels with additional material by other people.  This is a very high quality production, but may contain appropriated artwork.  Condition:  Like new.  Price:  $10.
  7. 7.      The DewDrop Inn; (many copies) imagined and written by Ken St. Andre; illustrated and tweaked by David Ullery; with a sexy succubus by Katje Romanov; interior covers by Robin Stacey.  Trollhalla Press, copyright August 2011.  72 p.  Conditon: New.  Price:  $12.
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If this method of redistributing stuff from my collection to yours works at all, there will probably be a Trollhalla Deals #2 in a couple of weeks.  If it flops, this page will probably be deleted from the internet forever.  Today is September 30, 2011.  The auction part of this page is definitely out of date by October 7, 2011.  The store part may be valid after that date, but definitely query me first before sending any money.  I can be reached at kenstandre@yahoo.com, and I don’t care who knows it.  
–Ken St. Andre