Gimor Ironfang’s Midnight Adventure
by Mark Thornton and Ken St. Andre and the game players of Trollhalla.
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 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