The group moved across the Pine Hills quickly on their newly obtained horses. It wasn’t long before they had traversed the caves and appeared in Latha-Ir as the sun was setting (It always set a little earlier in Latha due to it being nestled in a mountain gorge).
There was a bit of a festival going on, with some additional carts selling wares and exotic foodstuffs. Carl remarked surprised at the sight of merchants in Latha. While snacking on some spicy deep fried foodstuffs, a merchant explained how many of them appreciate Latha as a place to sell fenced goods and contraband substances – or have used the place as a hideout from the law.
Kurumtum shot fireworks from a staff as drink happy revelers clapped in praise of his show. A gypsy cart parked next to the Hole hinted that some new, hopefully prettier, help had been brought in to supply the companionship needs of the festival. Both Roosk and Kay walked among the increased number of visitors, like good politicians doing PR.
Kay spied Ajax almost immediately and invited the group into his shop. Flervin opted to stay outside with Mudraks and train the goblin on a bit of knife fighting. The goblin took to his training eagerly and showed promise, hungry for the fatherly attention.
Kay offered drinks and got down to business. Not asking many questions on the mission, he eagerly scooped up the dagger and paid the agreed fee (700 gold), which he offered in gold bars for portability. He seemed very pleased with the transaction and mentioned that his customer would be happy to have the prize so soon.
Ajax returned to the group’s rented room and divided up the spoils. Shamsher, the hired guard, said that all had been quiet except for one attempt at the doorknob – which he followed up on but nothing was discovered. He revealed he had spent a few silver on food and drink.
Flervin made his way to Kurumtum’s shop and traded some scrolls and magic items. Kurumtum purchased everything at a fair price and asked the wizard if he had come across any rare components on his travels.
Outside, as the group walked around the busy square, a group of merchants and a guard erupted from the tunnel, looking quite beat up. “Trolls, trolls attacked us on the mountain road!” one wounded merchant exclaimed. A stout looking guard escorted the merchant into town.
Without hesitation, Carl healed the wounded businessman, who promptly explained the harrowing tail of a troll attacking and looting them on the road before it fled into the mountains, taking with it their horse and a fallen warrior – along with their valuables. The merchant’s face turned stern and he explained to his attending warrior that he would not be paid as the group was attacked and robbed.
Carl, upset at the greedy man’s change of tone, demanded payment for healing him. He asked the soldier what he was to be paid – 50 pieces of gold. That was his fee for his services and the merchant gave the gold begrudgingly. Carl tossed it to the warrior, Kell, who immediately took to the country bumpkin healer.
Hearing the harrowing tale, Roosk offered the bandits 500 gold to get rid of the troll. Carl asked why they were being offered the job and Roosk confided that he thought the group was cut from a different cloth than most of the lot in Latha. Most were skilled only at robbing helpless merchants and that this group showed spark and talent. The group squabbled a bit about the fee, and he promised an additional 100gp for each troll head returned. Carl mumbled somehthing about how heavy troll heads were.
Roosk told Ajax that he also had another thing for the group, less pressing than trolls. His nephew had been caught robbing by Longbeards and he had been thrown into jail in Predmont, awaiting trial in Ironhall. The judicial system in the city was slow, but brutal. Roosk asked the group to spring his nephew from jail before he was moved into Ironhall, where he was all but lost. Roosk revealed that while he cares for his nephew, his biggest worry was that the boy would reveal the location of Latha-Ir through torture or plea bargaining. The group seemed a bit shocked at the request, and Roosk nodded at Carl’s hint that they may have to simply kill the man. “I would prefer him saved, but I understand”.
Excited to slay trolls, the group left for the mountain trail quickly. Kell showed them the way as best he could (quite frankly, he had been so spooked by the attack that he didn’t pay too much attention to the last leg of the journey). After a few double-backs, he found the spot of the attack.
The group surveyed the site, finding blood and a few coins, along with a bolt of fine cloth. Things the troll left in his hasty exit. Flervin and Getto spotted big footprints leading west. They followed them to a fast moving mountain river. Soon they happened upon a grisly warning. A dwarven head on a stake. It was a Longbeard patrolman. The group lost the trail here, until Mudraks, scanning the river for fish, spotted a muddy footprint leading into the river. Gleeful at his find, he paraded around the group until Flervin excused him to catch a fish. The goblin dived into the chin deep river and soon caught a trout. He bashed it against a rock until it stopped moving. Taking a massive bite from it’s side, he proudly returned and offered some to the group.
Carl took a bite and Mudraks danced with glee. “You see, tastes better this way, not BURNED like you do it!” Carl swallowed down the bloody bite and handed the fish back to the goblin took a bite and offered it back. Carl stripped it down to the head and guts and threw it back to Mudraks who seemed happily surprised “Master Carl let Mudraks have the good stuff?”
Flervin ordered Mudraks to explore a ford made of some large stones just under the surface. “They are firm, but slippery, Master” the goblin reported. The group crossed, with only Carl falling in the icy waters.
The group moved north on the tight shoreline that skirted a mountain wall. Soon they came across several more heads on stakes, including the head of the other merchant guard. Kell removed the head and placed it in the fast moving river – an impromptu funeral for the fallen mercenary.
The group found a cave entrance and smelled something foul within. Ajax crept quietly inside and sure enough, the cavern beyond had at least three trolls in it, two of which argued the proper bbq techniques for horse while another dosed in a corner. The elf returned and the group laid out a plan. Alert the trolls and draw them into the tight tunnel where the warriors would make battle while the rest supported them. Getto knew that fire harmed them while everything else would eventually be healed by their natural powers.
The trick worked well, with Ajax throwing caltrops and ball bearings. The trolls stumbled and lumbered forward. It became soon evident that they were at least as defended as the stone statues they fought earlier, and more powerful in their attacks. Still, the group fought tactically, with Carl healing as required. Occasionally Carl or Ajax would jump forward and join in the battle, at great personal risk. Ajax’s arrows seemed ineffective, save for occasionally making a troll flinch and slip on the cavern floor – buying some precious time.
The two trolls lined up, while the third eventually stirred and waited for his turn. This would be a long, hard battle where if one mistake took place, it could spell the doom of the group.