Well, this other group of about five large trolls began to absolutely trash the market. Rainor, Rainen, Ovthen and I were going to have to deal with it. I put a Displacement on Ovthen, as he was going to have to get down amongst it. I used dear little Giacomo’s wand – now that he’s gone, I rather miss him. How can we go on, without his tuneless doggrel to inspire us?
Ovthen used a prayer to make himself greatly more fearsome in combat. And then I used an Improved Invisibility on myself. I have no illusions whatever about my own ability to withstand a swipe from one of these things. My strategy is not armour, but avoiding being hit at all.
Meanwhile, Rainor was already firing – putting three arrows into the nearest one. He uses Gravity Bow, you know, and a bow with an enormously powerful draw. Being hit like that would fell most things – but it seems not these trolls.
I moved forwards into the market to deal with the one that Rainor was shooting
They are always telling me to concentrate fire, so that was my plan – would finish off the ones that were down. Rather a repeat of that previous time we cleaned out a nest of trolls. An Acid Splash is surprisingly effective if you place it right, instead of simply splashing it at your enemy as most are wont to do.
Anyway, this half-orc emerged from the liquor store and began advancing towards the troll. As he was fighting rather than running, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and to assume he was a proprietor rather than a looter. I thought it impressive but stupid of him to not be cowering in the castle with all the other peasants, but soon he demonstrated why – breathing fire at the one Rainor had shot and dropping it.
There was another troll in the yard, and so I rather pulled rank and commanded him to deal with that while I finished off the downed one. I am a Freedonian baroness, after all. I had to be rather definite, you know, as I was invisible at the time.
An Acid Splash carefully placed directly into the Troll’s brain via the eye-socket soon stopped its twitching and regenerating. (You first remove the eye and pierce the back of the socket with a dagger, because the conjuration produces only a small amount of acid for a very brief time. Sorry to be gristly, but it’s a tip that may help you someday.)
Looking up when I had finished taking care of that, the half-orc was not at all well. He’d taken at least one swipe and was bleeding. I had a few Scorching Rays prepared (our family friend is a godsend) and used one. I can manage two rays, and one of them hit the bullseye and it died outright.
The “family friend” is the artifact Thought and Memory, which among other things acts as a Ring of Wizardry II. Switch packs 3 Scorching Rays, and also has a Pearl of Power II.
Anyway. I told this half-orc to go to a giant dressed as a dwarf just outside for some healing, and then headed over the fence myself. Just outside the market, there was a downed troll next to Rainor and Rainen, and Ovthen was standing off two of the things. Not a scratch on him – a parting gift from Giacomo. After a moment or two, we all had dropped the remaining two and I took care of the twitching with the “Acid Splash into the eyesocket” trick.
But there was one of the damned things on the battlements. The half-orc took Ovthen up there with a Dimension Door (he’s a sorcerer, I think. I know it’s wrong to look down on people, but still…), and Rainen took Rainor. I elected to try out my new Fly spell. By the time I got there, the fight was over. Oh – another sorcerer had turned up – His Grace’s new Golden Haired Boy. An improvement on the kobold, I suppose,.
There was a bit of a hush in the yard, as there usually is when a battle is done. I put on my spymistress cap and called out “Hooray for Duke Jope! Huzzah!”. I don’t have much of a voice for that sort of thing, but luckily the crowd picked it up. Could have been a little embarrassing.
After a moment the great man himself arrived and took charge, and we all began to mop up.
Rainor and I wandered outside for a rather unpleasant bit of business which might best be kept from the commons. We found a human with a bit of rank, removed a page of parchment from his back (Rainor’s job, that) and I cast Treasure Map on it. The map reveals the location of whatever the, ah, donor felt was precious. It’s a little stomach-turning to watch: the veins sort of rise to the surface and pop, but after a day or two they go black and it’s less disturbing. We are not interested in some soldier’s treasure, of course, but I was hoping that we’d get an indication of where the person’s home was, which is why I chose someone with a bit of rank rather than a private who might have been a mercenary from anywhere. It’s possible that he might have had some loot buried in a field, I suppose, but hopefully we have at least got the general region right. We got a rather useful map of the lands to our west. There is a lake surrounded by swampy lowlands, and a settlement on that lake where the person’s treasure was located.
Rainor transcribed the map onto, shall we say, cleaner parchment.
Well, we all wracked our brains for information. The region is one of those areas that Brevoy felt authorised to give out to people. Like our own “Stolen Lands”. It was all barbarian tribes prior to that. You know: tribes of 20 adults each with their own pet name for God and nursing undying hatreds for the other tribe living over in the next valley. Rather like in the old testament (oops: broke character there!). One of us felt that there might be a connection to the Hag goddess (we cleaned out a nest of them in Fort Tuskwater soon after we established the town. Seems ages ago, now.)
His Grace received a petition from someone from that area. Apparently, the fort on the lake is controlled by a person named insert name here. He has done a deal with the various barbarian tribes in the area where he gave them hostages – family members of each of his high-ranked advisers. The petitioner’s sister is one of those hostages, and she would like our help. She feels that the whole area is unstable enough that switching to a new lord would not be difficult for them.
We also questioned a couple of prisoners. With the aid of Zone of Truth and Detect Thoughts we were nonetheless unable to drag anything out of them simply because we didn’t have the stomach to hold their toes into the fire. His Lordship ordered the cleric and the goody-two-shoes paladin out of there, but even then we couldn’t. One of them eventually offered us information in exchange for gold and a ticket to Brevoy. We agreed, and got some information.
(I have also asked our factor in Brevoy to arrange for something suitable for this person. He invaded our lands, killed our citizens, looted our cities and we pay him off? Absurd! I wanted very much to try the Phantasmal Killer spell. Perhaps I’m turning bloodthirsty, but seeing armies fight is a very different thing to removing the odd monster. The shorter-lived a race, the more savage it is, as a rule.)
I have one or two personal theories. It occurred to me straight away that if we deal with this chief, then the tribe’s hostages are worthless to them. That being the case, it’s rather possible that this chief has such a tenuous hold on the loyalties of his advisors that he himself arranged for this hostage taking. Under color of appeasing the local barbarian tribes, he has secured his own place at home.
Having said that, it’s ten people. How many of our citizens died in this attack? What kind of ruler has trolls in his armies? Damn stupid, long term. I say – decapitate the kingdom, annexe it, and hold nice funerals for the hostages. Who knows? Maybe the barbarian tribes will even return them nicely if we threaten them. After all, they would now be dealing with the might of the Fredonian armies. Mainly kobolds, true, but we don’t have to tell them that.
We’ll spend a week taking care of business. Then we’ll head out.