by Robin Tyler
A band of heroes encounter a troll camp. More stories with these characters will come.
The company crouched silently behind a row of bushes. Beyond the bushes, sat three horrid mountain trolls. The monsters sat huddled around a fire, their blistered skin catching the little light provided, and their large eyes reflecting in the low light.
"Thomas, you go to the right and blast them with a spell when you get the chance," ordered Orion. He had removed his mithril plate armor to maintain his stealth, and now he only wore chain mail and leather padding. Thomas gave Orion a silent nod and then silently drifted to his position.
"Van-Es and Astra," Orion pointed towards the mustached man and the she-elf beside him. "You two stay here and take shots from a distance. Don't reveal your position."
"You've got it mate," replied Van-Es. He drew his gun and began to load it. "You ready Astra?" said Van-Es as he nudged the she-elf with his elbow.
"Sure. Lets do this." Astra drew two arrows from her quiver, holding one in her mouth and the other knocked on the string.
"Great," said Orion. "Kaasandraa you come with me. Lets get this party started."
Little did the trolls know, but a wizard, a ranger, a pirate, an assassin, and a knight surrounded them in the darkness. They sat clueless on their stumps, talking of whatever trolls talk of. A nice horse meal, shiny treasure, or lady trolls. Who knew.
"Hey Ugly!" Orion yelled. The trolls perked up and looked around. "Over here!" The baffled beasts looked to the source of the noise, and saw Orion standing with his golden sword extended outward.
"Oi! What's goin' on here?" said one of the trolls. It stood, itching its behind, then let out a loud belch. The two other trolls laughed in response.
"I am Orion Dorfier Willingham, and I am here by the order of Lord Vaden to slay you for your merciless massacres."
"Oh really," said another troll. He wore a crude clothe over one eye. "And who exactly gave you the orders to kill us?" Orion sighed and shook his head.
"I just told you. Lord Vaden told us to slay you."
"If Lord Vaden told you to slay us then who ordered you?" The trolls looked completely perplexed.
"Lord Vaden! My goodness." Orion was amazed at the trolls stupidity.
"So your saying there are two Lord Vaden's?" asked the third troll. His stomach was covered in scars and bruises, and was leaking strange troll fluids.
"No!" Yelled Orion. His patience was gone. He raised his hand in the air and then brought it down swiftly in an arch. Kaasandraa's cue.
"So if Lord Vaden is one thing, he must be a tree. I see. Why didn't you sa- EEEEOOWWW!" The troll with the eye-patch let out a ear piercing shrill, and then began to spin wildly. It reached its stubby arms over its back and tried to reach at whatever was causing him so much pain. Orion saw it was Kaasandraa, and she had dug two daggers into the monsters back. She hung there by the daggers, waiting for the right time to jump off. One troll raised its large fist, and swung it towards Kaasandraa. As the grubby fist flew through the air, Kaasandraa leapt off the trolls back and landed out of its sight. Before the troll realized it, it had punched its friend in the back with intense force, sending it to the ground.
"Im sorry mate! I didn't mean to!" Said the troll. He grabbed his friend by the arm, and hoisted him up. While the troll was coming up off the ground, Astra ran from the trees and jumped from the ground onto the troll, and then jumped onto the shoulders of the other troll. She drew her two long swords and began slashing at its warty face. The large troll dropped his friend, and then brought that hand up to its face trying to bat away the pest. Astra dug her thin blades into the trolls back and then slid down, cutting deep gashes as she descended.
"Astra!" yelled Orion as he swung at a troll. "I said distance shots! Distance shots!" Astra gave a sideward glance towards Orion, but said nothing. She continued to slash and dodge the trolls. Orion felt himself turn upside down, and then saw the giant gripping him by his legs. He shouldn't have let Astra break his concentration. Orion swung at the trolls wrist, but his slashes kept missing. BANG! A gunshot broke through the chaos around Orion, and a trickle of blood began to pour from the trolls' shoulder. The large beast let out a yelp, and then dropped Orion to grab at the wound. Orion landed on his back, and then sat up dazed. Nice shot Van-Es, thought Orion.
Thomas sat behind a tree, his hands shaking. I can't do this. How was he going to shoot a fireball without knowing the fire ball spell? He couldn't reveal his true magic to his friends. They'd be devastated. Illusion magic would be no help to them in this situation. He'd have to figure something out. He looked at the firepit amongst all the fighting. If he could take some fire from that and light one of the trolls on fire, he could make his illusion convincing. He took a deep breath, and the curtain fell over the fight.
Van-Es was enjoying his job as sharpshooter. It was laidback, and he could stay out of the heat of the fight. It gave him time to think. Why are we always the ones to take care of problems like this? Aren't there other heroes that the lords could hire? Van-Es through all his journeys hadn't really met other adventurers, and the ones he had were now recruited to this team. Amongst the fight, a bright ball of fire shot from the trees. It soared through the air with a dark trail of smoke following behind it. Wizards, thought Van-Es. I'll never understand those visionary men.
Magic poured from Thomas's mind, and the illusion became his friend's reality. He caused it so that they would see a great fireball strike the trolls back. All he had to do was provide the fire. He cast an illusion over himself so that he also wouldn't be seen by his friends or the trolls. He gritted his teeth and ran into the fight. He saw Orion watching the fireball streak through the air. What would Orion do if he found out there was no actual fireball? Thomas had to prove himself. Thomas reached the firepit, and lifted a half-burning log from the fire. He hefted it over his head and then hurled it towards a troll. Once it hit the troll Thomas turned and quickly ran back to his hiding place. He had pulled it off. His friends had seen the fireball strike the troll and now saw its gross flesh burning. They didn't see what was behind the scenes.
Kaasandraa's mouth hung open when the fireball hit the troll, Its power only accomplishable by magic. As she and Orion battled with a troll, she realized then how little she truly knew about magic. She had seen Orion cast a spell occasionally, but they had been small and simple. Once Thomas Lindsay had joined their party, and she saw the things he could do with magic, she saw that magic could be so much more than what Orion was using it for. Thomas Lindsay was a mysterious man, but she intended to know more about him, and his magic.
Astra stabbed and slashed at a troll, knowing it was near its end. Her blades flew masterfully through the air, gliding gracefully like birds on the wind. The speed at which she swung the silver blades was unmatched in her company. It had been unmatched in the league. She recalled her past, remembering the dozens of hours of training, and the dozens of lives she took. She felt the sting of the whip, and remembered the stern voice of her master. Blind rage controlled her swings as her mind drifted elsewhere. The League seemed like a lifetime ago. She shook her consciousness from the past, and came back to the fight. She felt her blade gilde through air, and cut through nothing. Before her laid the corpse of a troll.
Van-Es loaded his gun for another shot. This was to be a killing blow. He wiped the sweat from his brow and pushed his red hair off of his forehead. They were so close to beating these monsters. Once the gun was loaded, he aimed it towards the beast's large head, and pulled the hammer back.
"And... splat." Van-Es pulled the trigger and saw the hammer fall. He could feel the gunpowder ignite, and felt the lead ball fly out of the barrel. Before he knew it, the ball had lodged itself deep in the monster's small brain. Yes! The tall beast swayed for a moment, and then toppled over, landing with a thump that shook the treetops. "Bullseye."
Orion swung his sword, its golden blade reflecting in the light. This last troll was tougher than the others. Orion was running out of energy, and he'd need to do something before he collapsed. Kaasandraa fought beside him, her blade cutting smoothly through the troll. In the corner of his eye Orion could see Astra run up to the troll, and drive her blades deep into the trolls back. She fought with a primal ferocity that stunned him. He had seen that fierce fighting style once before...
"Oi mate!" Orion looked to his side, and saw Van-es fighting beside him. "Thinking you'll get all the fun?" asked Van-Es with a large grin over his face. Orion laughed, and silently thanked the gods for sending help.
"I saved the best part for you sir!"
Thomas saw his four friends fighting the troll together, and knew he had to get out there. It was like those moments in the stories, where all the heroes stand in epic poses around the great beast. Time to look epic. Thomas cast an illusion over himself, causing it to appear as though long yellow lasers shot from his palms to the beast. Thomas slowly stepped out of the tree line with his arms extended. The lasers glowed like the sun in the night, and he knew he was impressing Orion. If only they actually did something...
Within seconds, the final troll was slain, and the heroes returned exhausted to the dying fire. Orion tended to wounds while Thomas and Van-Es searched for loot.
"That was some great swordsmanship Astra," said Orion as he magically healed her scrapes and bruises.
"Yep," she said. She kept her eyes fixed on the ground.
"Where did you learn to fight like that? It's a style I never saw while I was training. Is it an elven style?"
"It doesn't matter where I learned to fight. Finish healing me." Astra twirled a lock of her white hair between her fingers, as her eyes began to fill with tears. Van-Es and Thomas returned to the main group holding a small sack of treasures.
"What did you find?" asked Kaasandraa.
"Fourteen gold coins, a handful of gemstones, and a crown made of mithril dishware." Said Thomas as he held the sack high.
"A crown made of mithril dishware? What a waste of such fine metal!" exclaimed Orion.
"It is the second most ridiculous thing I've ever seen made out of dishware," added Van-Es.
"Second?" asked Kaasandraa. "What could be first?" she laughed thinking about the options.
"This lonely man who live off the coast of Elengray had put together a dog, made completely out of butter knives. And what made it even more hilarious was the fact that he treated it like an actual dog!" Everyone except Astra burst into laughter. The laughing hurt, but it felt so good to get the tension from the last hour off their chests. Finally, they returned to their senses when Orion began to speak.
"While I was fighting that last troll, I felt my muscles start to give out. I knew if I continued what I was doing, I wasn't going to make it. Then you guys showed up and helped me. It was then I realized, together, we can conquer anything. We are unstoppable together, and I am grateful to have you four at my side." Orion stood and continued to speak. "Thomas," said Orion. Thomas felt a lump form in his throat. "Without your magic, we would all be dead. Your fireball and your lasers were crucial and critical hits. Thank you for joining our company.
"Of course Orion," said Thomas as he nodded.
"Now," said Orion, "Lets go collect our pay!" The Heroes shouted in agreement and stood together. They sheathed their swords, and gathered their bags, and then began the journey back to Lord Vaden's Castle.