At The Pillow Perch inn, two men had just finished packing to continue their journey.
“You ready to go, hero?” The first man asked in a teasing manner.
“Yep, I’m ready.” The second man nodded, “And I’m hardly a hero, all I did was calm down a stampede, you did all the real heavy lifting, Ngduvot.”
“How modest!” Ngduvot laughed heartily, “I guess I really was the true hero, huh?”
Ngduvot was a Dragonborn, his body covered in the thick scales that were typical of his race, colored black. He had large, heavy claws, and the head and sharp teeth of a dragon. Like most of his race, he was not gifted a tail or wings, though he did have the fiery breath and immense strength. Since his scales served well-enough as armor, all he wore was a pair of white pants, with a hefty two-bladed handaxe slung through his belt.
“Modesty is a virtue, you should try it sometime.” Thrush sighed, shaking his head.
Unlike Ngduvot, Thrush appeared to be a regular human, with tanned white skin, dirt brown hair and emerald green eyes. He wore simple brown clothing, with a dark brown leather breastplate and a dark green, hooded cloak overtop, his feet were bare. Though he wielded no apparent weapon, he did carry a strangely shaped staff, with a crescent blade on the bottom and a hollow teardrop shape on the top.
“You know I’m not gonna stop.” Ngduvot laughed again, “Now, let’s get moving! Still need to get that egg to Mt. Draconet, remember?”
“Unsurprisingly, I do remember the reason we went on this journey in the first place.” Thrush sighed, slinging the bag with the egg over his shoulder and heading out the door, making sure to wave goodbye to the tavernkeep as he went.
“Ya’ll come back soon now, ya’ hear?” She shouted after them.
“We will!” Thrush assured her, “I have to say, this location had some of the most exquisite salad I’ve ever eaten.”
“The meat wasn’t too bad either!” Ngduvot responded, earning a dirty look from Thrush, “I’ll just… keep my mouth shut.”
“I do believe that’s the best idea you’ve had since we started this journey.” Thrush nodded, hopping on to his horse and leading the way out of town, down the dirt road which lead to the mountain on the horizon.
The road, as usual, was pretty boring for the most part. Just dirt roads and green trees, which slowly gave way to grassy plains and rockier roads.
Thrush and Ngduvot passed the time with a simple card game, playable even on horseback. They passed several hours this way, Ngduvot repeatedly trumping Thrush, who for his part stayed remarkably calm, when a shout broke the relative peace of the autumn air.
“What the hell was that?!” Ngduvot asked, one hand holding the reins, while the other reached for his handaxe.
“It came from over there!” Thrush shouted, spurring his horse onward, “Come on!”
Rushing forward to a small patch of road, shaded by unnaturally placed trees, the two found a woman in platemail armor and a tiger being menaced by ogres.
“Come on, you filthy monsters!” The woman yelled, swinging a longsword in one hand, while the other hand held a large shield, “Try and face me, if you dare!”
“Let’s get in there!” Ngduvot decided, charging in on his horse. He swung his handaxe in a wide arc, cleaving the head off one of the ogres.
“Damn it, Ngduvot, don’t rush in blindly without a plan!” Thrush scolded, leaping off of his horse, “You can’t act recklessly, how many times do I need to tell you?”
“Sorry! I couldn’t help it!” Ngduvot laughed, sliding off of his own horse, “Guess I need to work on that!”
“Who are you two?” The woman demanded, “I could’ve handled this on my own!”
“I guess we just couldn’t stand by and not help!” Ngduvot laughed, “I’m Ngduvot, and the guy with the staff is Thrush Mowglyne.”
“If you’d be so kind as to pay attention, we might be able to get back to the matter at hand. Introductions should come after the fight, remember?” Thrush cut in.
“Right! Let’s fight!” Ngduvot nodded, “Do what you always do and back me up, I’ll handle the rest!”
“As if I needed instructions.” Thrush sighed, tapping his staff thrice on the ground, and listening carefully for the sound of a ringing bell somewhere in the distance, “Now, shall we begin?”
Ngduvot charged forward and swung with his axe, embedding it into the shoulder of one of the ogres, his axe easily biting into the dark green flesh.
He barely managed an ‘oh’ before the club of the ogre slammed into the side of his head.
“Are you going to assist him, or-?”
“It’s not my fault you felt the need to interrupt my fight.” The woman sighed bitterly, “Willow, protect our friend here.”
The tiger placed herself between Thrush and the fight, as the woman charged in, slicing the arm off of the ogre that was menacing Ngduvot.
“Thanks!” Ngduvot kicked the ogre away, freeing his axe, “On to the next one!”
“Please try to remember, we’ve got a schedule to keep.” Thrush called after them, waving his staff twice in small circles, “Earthmother, grant them strength in this endeavor.”
Ngduvot and the woman felt a surge of energy rush through their bodies, empowering them.
“If you’ve got a schedule to keep, then go and leave this to me!” The woman shouted, cleaving one of the ogres straight down the middle, “I can handle a couple of ogres!”
“As much as I’d love to, I cannot simply leave and allow such foul creatures to taint this earth.” Thrush told her, “I’ve given you both the blessing of the Earthmother, now use it well!”
“Of course!” Ngduvot nodded, knocking the club out of the hands of one of the ogres, before bringing his axe back around to cut off its head.
The woman slammed her shield into one of the ogres, sending it stumbling back into a rock, which shifted slightly.
“Uh… is that what I think it is?” Ngduvot asked, taking a step back, as the stone stood up.
“What’s a mountain troll doing down here?” The woman asked.
Now that he saw it wasn’t a stone, Thrush examined the mountain troll more closely, noticing the numerous marks on its rough grey skin, including a large burn mark across its back.
“It must have been driven down here by the dragons.” Thrush informed them, tapping his staff twice on the ground.
“Thrush, if you’re gonna do something, do it quick!” Ngduvot shouted, running back to his horse, as the troll yawned loudly, stretching its large arms.
The chiming of a bell answered Thrush's taps, and he took a deep breath, ancient power surging through his chest. The end of his staff glowed a bright green, which was soon mirrored in the nearby trees. Their roots ripped out of the ground, lashing out and grabbing the troll.
“Strike now!” Thrush ordered, already feeling drained by holding the troll, who by now had realized the situation and began struggling.
“You always have something up your sleeve!” Ngduvot laughed, embedding his axe into the troll’s arm.
“It is a useful spell, I will admit.” The woman nodded, slashing across the troll’s back.
“The Earthmother granted this, not me.” Thrush remarked, narrowly avoiding a swing by one of the ogres, “If you’d be so kind as to hurry up with that troll, I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m afraid I cannot maintain this particular spell for very long.”
“This thing can take a lot of abuse!” Ngduvot informed him, digging his axe into one of its legs, “And the fat isn’t helping either!”
“I’m not fat!” The troll yelled, breaking free from the restraint of the roots.
“Oh dear.” Thrush commented, ducking a swing from the ogre that was accosting him. Bringing the crescent blade on the other end of his staff up, he landed a lucky blow to the throat, killing it instantly.
Another ogre came up behind him, raising its crude blade up into the air, but before it could strike, Willow lunged, knocking it down and ripping its throat out.
“Thank you very much.” Thrush bowed to the tiger.
“You know, if it was anyone else, this ambush might’ve caused them some serious trouble!” Ngduvot laughed, taking his axe out of the troll’s skull.
“We should look around for the troll’s stash.” The woman suggested, “They usually have some decent loot.”
“Name first, then loot.” Thrush told her, taking a shovel off of the corpse of one of the ogres, “You know our names, what’s yours?” He asked, casually perusing the corpses of the other monsters.
“Clara. Clara Strongarm.” The woman sighed, “And this is Willow, she’s a warp tiger, and my trusted companion.”
Willow blinked out of existence and reappeared next to Clara, her tail flicking lazily.
“I thought something was strange about that one.” Thrush nodded, tapping his staff thrice on the ground. Somewhere in the distance, a bell chimed in response, “Now, finding the tracks of a troll this size shouldn’t be too difficult.” He said, as the tree roots took hold of the bodies, and they began to swiftly decompose.
Though it took a little over twenty minutes, they did eventually find the tracks, leading to a nearby hill, though they seemed to stop there.
“A simple trick even by mountain troll standards.” Thrush commented, sounding almost disappointed as he tapped his staff against the hill, “Right here should do, if you would be so kind, Ngduvot.”
Even with the shovel Thrush had taken, it took Ngduvot and Clara the better part of two hours to dig out the entrance. Even though Thrush made a prayer to the Earthmother, loosening the soil, it was big enough to fit a ten foot tall mountain troll of considerable girth.
Eventually, they had dug out the entrance to a sizeable cavern, with a few barrels of grain, some cheese, ale and other objects of questionable value.
“Hey, look at this!” Ngduvot retrieved a rather nice looking black axe, with a silver snake coiled around the handle, two small green gems set in its eyes.
“Allow me.” Thrush placed the axe on the ground, drawing a circle around it with his staff, he focused for a second, and his eyes glowed green, as a bell was heard chiming somewhere, “This axe is very dangerous. Known as Asmodeus’ Bite, it will poison any enemy you can inflict a significant wound upon.”
“Oh, you can cast Identify, then?” Clara asked, holding up a pendant, “I retrieved this a while ago from a corrupt priest, but I haven’t got the slightest clue what it does.”
The pendant was a heart made from some kind of black gem on a silver chain, Thrush took the pendant and cast Identify once more, his eyes glowing green, as a bell chimed in the distance.
“This is a cursed pendant, no good can come from it.” Thrush’s typically calm face turned to a scowl, “I will bury this in the roots of those trees outside with a prayer, and the Earthmother will dispose of it.”
“Very well. I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t have it for too long.” Clara nodded, as Thrush left the cave.
“There’s not much of worth here, besides the axe.” Ngduvot shrugged, “There’s also this cart, I suppose we can use it to haul whatever we take.”
The cart was a decent size, just barely small enough to fit through the entrance, made of a dark, polished wood.
“Why would an ogre take something like this?” Clara wondered, “Was he planning to go somewhere?”
“He was probably planning to head back to Mt. Draconet, once he had amassed a decent offering to the dragons.” Ngduvot shrugged again, loading a barrel of ale onto the cart, “Let’s load this thing up, then we can take it out.”
“What are you doing on this road, anyways?” Clara asked, loading several packages of food onto the cart, “Everyone knows it’s a common road for bandits, why travel this way?”
“It’s the quickest road to Mt. Draconet. We’ve got a wyvern egg we’re trying to get to the mountain.”
“Why risk the bandits if you’re carrying such precious cargo?”
“We’ve got two weeks to hatch the egg. If we don’t make it by then, it’ll die. At least, that’s what Thrush says.”
“Well, this road will get you to Mt. Draconet in four days, faster if you travel at night.”
“What about you?”
“I was heading back to my home of Draconet City to find someone who could cast identify. But now that your friend has identified the pendant, I’m free to do whatever I wish.”
“Well, what do you say to travelling with us? If it’s as dangerous as you say then we could use the extra muscle.”
“That sounds lovely.”
After loading the cart with a decent amount of food and ale, they hauled it out of the cave, just in time to see the sun setting as Thrush approached them.
“The pendant will be taken care of, rest assured.” Thrush informed them, his face calm once more, “It will be getting dark soon, and it’s dangerous to travel this road at night, we should rest, and set out in the morning.”
“You got it. While I’m setting up camp, Clara needs to talk to you.” Ngduvot responded, “I’ll just set up on top of the hill.”
“As the leader of the party, I am required to ask you if I wish to join, correct?” Clara asked.
“I suppose it would be a joint decision between me and Ngduvot.” Thrush shrugged, “Why do you ask? Are you interested in traveling with us?”
“Now that the pendant has been identified, my mission is complete. Ngduvot suggested that I travel with the two of you, as extra protection in case of bandits.”
“I assume he told you about the package we’re carrying.” Thrush sighed, receiving a nod from Clara, “That fool. I warned him not to just go telling whoever… I’m sure there won’t be any issues if you want to travel with us. Just don’t try anything funny and don’t go looking for trouble. We’ve got a deadline to keep, and I’d rather not get sidetracked.”
“You have my word.” Clara assured him.
Comments (7)See all