Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Interlude: Gruffydd's Tale

Gruffyd emerged from the kobold tunnel below into the ruined temple, exhausted from dragging the sack full of Dimzad.
After scratching his arse for a long while and contemplating what to do, he walked out to the street to head towards the bridge and the troll.
Gruffydd’s pony was where he left it, happily chomping away at grass. The sun said it was mid afternoon.
Dimzad’s clan originated south and west of Wall, in the Fartnoth Mountains, known to dwarves as Zarnun-Affuk or Zarn’s Anvil. But that was long way off. Dimzad was the last of his clan, the others wiped out in the numerous wars with the black-bloods. There would be no grieving relatives, no feast, even if Gruffydd did find his way there.
Always sensible, Gruffydd decided it was best just to take it one step at a time, and try and get to Wall as quickly as possible. They had run so fast from the old ferry and the hornet-things, that he really hadn’t paid that much attention to how they got here. Trying to find his way back that way was out of the question. With that in mind, Gruffydd strapped what was left of Dimzad to the dead dwarf’s pony. Gruffydd got on his own mount, Lucius and rode south, down the road toward the bridge.
An hour later, he looked down at the river from a rise in the road. Where the party had crossed before, further to the east, the water had flowed swift and dangerous. Here it was sluggish and boggy in some places. The bridge it was a quite a feat of engineering even by dwarven standards. It spanned the river in four great arches. It was obvious the work had been done during the height of the Empire. Gruffydd estimated its construction to be around the time of Gustavus III.
Only one thing marred its otherwise awe inspiring features, a great chunk was missing about midway across, on the northwest side. The bridge was wide enough for 4 horses abreast, but was narrowed down to two at the damaged area. Weeds grew from cracks in the stones.
Gruffydd looked for any movement, or an outbuilding where someone or thing might hide. He slowly approached the bridge. Everything was quiet except for slow movement of the water. A hawk, high above, drifted on a breeze. Lucius took time to nibble some grass.
Gruffydd dismounted and eased the pony forward to drink. From the water’s edge he saw nothing to raise an alarm. Lucius slurped away at the water, nosing his way into the cattails that populated the river’s boggy edge.
He pulled the pony free of water’s edge and slowly began crossing the bridge. Again, the quiet of the place was disturbing. Lucius’s hooves made a steadt “clop, clop” on the paving stones. Suddnly the quiet was broken.
“Well Klem, ain’t that the darndest thing you ever did see…?” A deep rumble of a voice echoed from somewhere under the bridge. “Some one brought Ol’ Nik some supper.”
Gruffydd calmly dismounted and taking hammer in hands, stood his ground. It was then a great, clawed hand emerged unto the railing of the bridge. I was large, grey and covered in warts. The talons were as long as daggers. Next, a face appeared from below. Cruel yellow eyes looked out from behind long, wet, greasy hair. The misshapen head had pointed ears, yellowed, razor sharp teeth twisted into something resembling a smile.
It was a troll. Of that there could be no doubt. Cave trolls had long fought along side the gobinoids that raided Gruffydd’s homeland. But this was a river troll. They were smarter, faster and somehow crueler than their kin.
“Hmmmm, dwarf two ways. Live or recently dead? Makes it hard for a body to decide.” The troll cackled. “Klem, watcha think?” he said over his shoulder.
Gruffydd puffed out his chest and said “ I understand there’s a toll to be paid, troll. What be the price and I’ll tell ya if I thinks its too high.”
The troll came over the side of the bridge and drew himself up to his full height, which was twice as tall as Gruffydd. He wore wet pair of trousers, held up by a crude suspender. He tapped at his teeth with single long talon.
The troll whispered to itself, then finally said, “That there sack full of guts would make a tasty toll.”
Gruffydd glanced at the other pony, and the bag that sat on it. “That be a pile of ole nasty goblin guts. An errand of mine for my
employer. And we all know how stringy and sour be tastin goblin, alive
or dead. But how abouts the pony that be carryin the load. Now that’s a
fine plump morsel for your impressive teeth and talons.”
The troll sniffed. And sniffed again. “Hmmm, don’t smell like gobbo. As much as I hate to admit it. me and the little squirts gots blood in common. We can smell our own.”
“That’s why my employer wanted to study this nasty little gobbo.
Alright, then I withdraw my offer.”
The dwarf mounted his pony but kept his hammer out.
”No toll shall be paid to you today. You shall have to fish for your
dinner, instead of this tasty little pony.”
Gruffydd turned the pony around facing the other way as if to leave where he came from.
“Now, now, friend,” the troll said. “We can be reasonable. Fresh meat’s always better than spoilt.” He licked his chops a bit before continuing. “The pony’s fine, but I’ll need both. Klem’s gotta eat, too.”
“And how am I supposed to deliver my package, if I aint got no pony to
carry it?”
”Tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you this pony here, then the rest of
my companions, who are just up the road from here, will give you one of
their extra ponies when they get here. They should be here about the
time you are picking this plump little beauty out of you teeth with a
rib bone.”
“How’s Ol’ Nik supposed to know if there really is another group just down the road?”
The troll said. “Klem doesn’t doesn’t trust ya, and neither do I. Some of yer kin tried passing a coupla months back. Tried to trick me, then fight me. Had a few of them before they got away. I’ve developed quite a taste for stunties…”
“Well Nik. You can trust me or no. I think maybe I’ll let them know.”
When When Gruffydd said ‘know’ he slapped Dimzads pony on the behind and spurred Lucius on as fast as I could off the bridge and up the road.
“Come back here!” the troll raged. “Next time we meet, yer a dead ‘un fer sure!”


  1. I really enjoy reading your after action reports. Have you considered putting this all together as a book? Since I'm in publishing I am always looking at what could make a good book, and this would be a great one. I like the idea of the world you've created and the fact that the story is based on what your players go through. So. it's partial fiction with an almost "historic" account. And of course, the illustrations make the whole thing. Anyway, I'd buy it.

  2. You and my wife both said the same thing. I know the Dargonlance book series from the late 80s started out as gaming sessions.And the DM Cornish "Monster Blood Tattoo" series started as sketches and world building ideas before the author's wife talked him into writing a book around it. It might be something I'd do long term, but work, kids and life are making it a bit complicated right now.
    I'm just happy to get some gaming and drawing in.

  3. ...but if you are interested in publishing something, I am open.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hey J,

    I'd love to talk to you more about publishing Beyond the Wall as a book. Could you email me? My email address is on my ajbdesign.com site.


  6. I would buy a Beyond the Wall book :)

  7. You an 2 other people. But seriously, if I did it, I would probably do it as posted on the blog in episodic form, with OD&D stats for monsters afterwards with maps, so it could be done as a gaming aid, too. Lulu and such places tend to be the self publishing way to go. On the other hand, Andrew here has generously offered his services also. Either way, it wouldn't be for money, it'd would be a vanity sort of enterprise.

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