Welcome back for the conclusion of the adventure. Hopefully throwing in with the child trolls goes well for you…
Black Stone Option Aa1: Yes
Perhaps it’s the thought that kindness toward the three trolls might make a difference in their lives, or perhaps you just can’t ignore their big, yellow eyes staring hopefully at you.
Whatever the reason, you look the man square in the eye and tell him, “Yes, we’re with the trolls.” They’re the oddest words you’ve ever said but the child trolls grin huge, toothy smiles and you don’t doubt your words.
The old troll chained to the wall snorts and snot flies from his nose to splatter against one of the bells.
There’s a blur and, before you can react, the man stands between you and the door. He pushes the door closed with his heel and snaps his whip against the floor. He’s so fast, you wonder if he’s human.
The trolls jump and your sister slides off the shoulder to the floor. She sidles between the green legs of the trolls to stand beside you but the man doesn’t go after her.
He focuses on the child trolls. Another snap of the whip forces them back a step.
“Hey,” you shout as the next snap catches one of the troll’s legs. The poor victim cries out and stumbles backward even farther.
The steeple’s not large and these few steps place him next to the wall, beside the older creature.
Chains, of their own accord, flash out of the wall and catch the troll’s arms and legs. He gives a screech and his two companions rush to help him.
It’s a mistake. As soon as they’re close enough to the wall, more chains capture them and suck them close to the stone.
“Stay clear of the wall,” you whisper to your sister.
The man turns his attention to you now. The speed with which he evened the numbers disturbs you and to give yourself a moment to think, you start talking.
“Kind of cruel,” you observe, indicating the welt swelling on one troll’s leg.
The man shrugs. “Monsters get what they deserve.”
“What are you going to do with them?” you sister asks.
A grin, far too big to be human, splits the man’s face. Goblin maybe? You’re not sure.
“They get to sit here until the bell tolls again. In one swift move, I’ll eliminate the youngest generation of troll!”
One of the children sniffles and huge tears slick his green cheeks.
For the first time, the older troll seems disturbed. He stands and puffs out his chest.
“GET BACK!” the whip cracks and, for the moment, the man completely forgets about you.
You kneel beside the nearest youngster and, with a loose stone of the steeple, you hit the chain holding his hands. It snaps with a brittle ‘pop’.
The youngster jumps to his feet and lunges onto the man’s back, wrestling him away from the whip.
While they stumble around the narrow space, you hand your sister the stone.
“Break the others free,” you say and guard her back while she works.
There’s a screech and the young troll lifts the man above his head, and then throws him through the one window in the steeple. The youngster jumps up and down in glee until your sister’s soft voice asks, “Did you kill him?”
The old troll snorts before anyone can answer. “Not likely,” he grumbles, “I’ve thrown him from that window countless times. He always comes back.”
Your sister moves to free the old troll but he pushes her away, admittedly very gently for his size. “Didn’t you hear me? He’ll come back. If I’m not here, he’ll find somebody else. I won’t have it. Not on my watch. When I figure out how to kill him, then I’ll be free.”
Your sister drops the stone, her eyes sad.
“—but thank you.” Only your sister could get gratitude from a troll.
Wishing to make good on that gratitude you ask, “Do you know anything about the Black Stone?”
The gnarled troll glares and slumps back into his sitting position against the wall. He says no more, even when the young trolls ask, he refuses to answer.
“Sorry,” one of the youngsters says. “Wish we could help.”
You thank them and follow them back down the stairs of the steeple. Before you get more than two steps down, the old troll calls, “No showing the humans more of the caves. You hear?”
All three youngsters hang their shoulders in dismay but they answer, in unison, “Yes, Sir.”
No amount of pleading with them gets them to disobey that command. You thank them for their help, glad for their new friendship, and then you head out alone with your sister to keep looking for the Black Stone to cure her eyes.
Well, it’s not quite success but you’re not dead, so hope’s not lost. Good luck next time =)