Session report: The Cleansing of Cameth Brin (2)
CONTINUED FROM HERE.
Yreorraent creeps to the chimney hole and looks down it, trying to keep the smoke from getting in his eyes and lungs. It’s filled with smoke, of course, and it seems to twist and turn – after all, trolls wouldn’t risk sunlight shining into their nice dark hole – so he can’t see anything down there. It’s too tight to climb down, too. Maybe a hobbit would fit, but the party doesn’t have a hobbit. Yreorraent listens. From down below comes the intermittent sound of voices like rumbling rocks. Definitely trolls.
The ranger reports his findings to the others. Finglas reckons there will be three trolls in the lair, because “that’s standard”. (Sad to say, Finglas is not the wisest of elves.) They hatch a plan to block the chimney hole with stones and earth, heather and grass, hoping to smoke the trolls out into the sunshine. It doesn’t work. Trolls are stupid but not suicidally so. Great coughs are heard from within the cave, and shouts of consternation. The huge boulder suddenly moves scrapingly aside – but only six inches or so, enough to let out a plume of smoke. Then all is quiet again.
A futher plan is concocted. Yreorraent, Pingle and Fergus will take positions up the slope from the chimney hole. There are rock outcrops aplenty to provide cover. Meanwhile, Finglas and the remaining Dunlendings will hide where they can watch the cave entrance. The idea is to wait until the sun goes down, hoping that the trolls will come out to investigate the chimney blockage. Those upslope will fire missiles at them, trying to stay out of reach and draw the trolls away while Finglas and the others gain access to the cave.
They wait for dusk. Once, Finglas thinks he hears a faint, far sound coming from the cave, like the howling of a beast – or a man – undergoing some cruel torment. The elf listens grimly. After a while, the sound stops and is heard no more.
This time, the plan is partially successful. Sure enough, as the sun slips behind the western horizon, there is a great scraping sound and Finglas sees the boulder roll aside. Three hill-trolls emerge in the gloaming. Unfortunately a fourth troll, only partly glimpsed in the shadow of the cave mouth, rolls the boulder back into place behind them. Warily, the trio outside sniff the air and look around. The biggest, a great brute nearly twelve feet tall, grunts, “Freg. Go an’ ‘ave a butchers at the smoke ‘ole.” Freg stomps up the slope to have a look, whereupon ranger and fighter fire arrows at him and Fergus hurls his throwing club. None scores a hit, but one of the arrows whistles past the troll’s ear and he shouts, “Dad! There’s someone ‘ere!” All the trolls charge up the slope.
A running battle commences. Our heroes fall back up the slope with the trolls after them. Freg takes a couple of arrows in leg and shoulder. Unfortunately, in the gathering darkness, the retreating men stumble over the uneven ground and slip on loose stones. The trolls, though relatively slow and lumbering, know this hillside intimately (and can see perfectly well in the dark) and manage to close the gap. The bold Fergus yells and aims a spear thrust at Freg’s belly. He misses, and Freg crushes him with his huge club. Pingle Rack, having dropped his bow and unsheathed his two-handed sword, is likewise slain in short order. Yreorraent is badly wounded, but manages to scramble away again and stay a step ahead of the advancing trolls, firing at Freg whenever he can. Freg, smarter than the average hill-troll, realises he can’t catch the irritating man, and throws a rock at him instead, landing a glancing, stinging blow on Yreorraent’s elbow.
Meanwhile down below, the elf Finglas has divested himself of his encumbering plate armour. Now he hurries up the slope and starts firing at the backs of the trolls. The unfortunate Freg is pincushioned with arrows from above and below and eventually falls dead among the rocks. Bellowing with rage, the huge troll patriarch turns and charges back down the slope towards the new assailant. At this point, our heroes admit defeat. Finglas yells, “Retreat!” and the remnants of the party take to their heels, scampering down the hillside and away, with trollish shouts and imprecations ringing in their ears and the occasional rock flying past their heads.
COMING IN PART 3: Tir-barad Tereg.