When we went in to the cave we found the crystals we had broken before were still broken. We moved down the path towards the first crystals. The trolls leaped as soon as they came into range. The rest of the unchained moved down the path. The trolls started bashing the first sets of crystals. There was a troll covered in glowing crystals that came out from behind a giant Stalagmite. It attacked the first troll that it came to.
The two lighted crystals winked out in the middle of the cave. Urgral and three trolls were attacking the mutated troll. I followed Stilicho down in to a hole to smash four crystals. As we went down in I saw trolls leap off in all directions to start bashing glowing crystals. I shattered the first crystal and then heard the voice, “Bad T’skrang!” Bang, my head exploded with pain. I stumbled and grabbed on to the cliff to keep from falling down in to the depths of the hole. My vision cleared and I ran over to the other crystal shattering it with the hammer and tail mace. I heard Stilicho scream out. I looked and saw that he had crystals growing out of his joints. I ran through the air back to where the rest of the group was.
Vridich had set up a circle of power to keep horrors out. I saw one of the trolls that came in to the cave with us attack Vridich. I moved in next to him in time to block a second attack from another troll that had been taken over. I blocked his attack with the hammer and hit him in the jaw with the tail mace. The troll went down and was knocked out.
I looked over my shoulder and saw that Vridich had retreated back to the edge of the ledge. He was firing spells at targets to my left. I heard the voice, “Push him. Just a little nudge and he will fall to his death.” I turned and ran across the chasm to engage another crystal covered troll. I just made it to the ledge, Bam. White hot pain rang out in my head. It blurred my vision, “Do as you are told!” I heard in my head. The voice was becoming more insistent, maybe a little panicked. Two trolls jumped over to my ledge and pushed the mutant troll off of the cliff. I stepped to the right and blasted my hammer through a large crystal formation. I was feeling week so I took a healing potion, it eased my pain.
I moved up on to some steps tried to kill another crystal. It resisted the hammer, but not the tail mace. Just to be sure that I was safe I took another healing potion at this time. At this point I felt the best I had in days.
The unchained took the lead. We charged forward at this point leap frogging from crystal to crystal. There were no more living opponents to get in our way. We worked our way around the back of the cave till we came to the largest of the crystals we had seen. It was about thirty feet down on a ledge covered in water. Stilicho and Rorik leaped down and started attacking it. Urgral tried to climb down but slipped on the wet rock and fell in to the water. The dwarf came up out of the water madder than a wet cat. He charged the crystal with his glowing sword. I stayed up on the ledge waiting to cover them. I was sure that there was going to be an attack from the horror at any second. I heard the voice in my head shouting not to let them destroy the crystal. Bang, again white pain. I did not try to stop them from their task. A large crack formed. Stilicho saw it and drove his sword in to it. There was a shattering sound both inside and outside of my head. The light winked out of the crystal as it broke into pieces and rained to the floor. The cave was dark now except for the light crystals we carried.
Free! I was freed! The voice, the presence in my head was gone. The crystal was the horror. We had killed it. Urgral reached down in to the broken crystal and pulled out a group of ten earth elemental coins that were fused together in to a large mass.
We gathered our wounded and headed back to the village. The Reach would be safe again.
The next day the village gathered at the main hall. There was drinking and celebrating. Toasts were made honoring the brave actions of all of the members of the attack on the cave. Words were spoken for members that had been lost over the past few months and the ones lost in the attack.
Rorik called for everyone to pay attention. He called for Firesky to be brought out. The troll had been badly beaten. He was bound wrist and ankle. Firesky walked out on to the platform with his head hanging low. Rorik started his speech about how Firesky had betrayed them all, costing the lives of several members of the clan. He looked at Firesky and asked him what he thought his punishment should be. Firesky answered with one word death. Rorki nodded at Stilicho. Stilicho pushed Firesky to the ground. Rorik drew back his great sword.
I could not stand for this, “Hold!” I yelled. I had way over stepped my place at this point, but I was angry and did not care. Trolls looked at me with shock and surprise. Rorik’s look that should have been of outrage was of was instead one of puzzled confusion.
I just continued on, “Put him to the truth stone so that we can all see what he has or has not done. You have beaten this name giver to get your answers. He may have just told you what you wanted to hear so that you would stop.”
Rorik looked at me and said with more patients then I could muster, “He has confessed to willingly working with the horror and asked for death. What more is there to find out?”
My tone was defiant, “What if he was possessed and did not know what he did. Are you going to do then? Kill him anyway? Are you going to kill me next? I have lived through it twice. What of the trolls that turned on us in the cave. They went in to the battle bravely but could not resist the power of the horror. Are you going to line us all up next?”
Firesky had risen back to his feet. Rorik looked to Firesky, “Did you work willingly with the horror?”
“Yes.” Was the simple reply.
I could see that I was not going to change anything. “I’m done with you people.” I said. I threw my horn of ale to the ground and turned and pushed my way through the crowd. I could see that Stilicho was pushing FireSky to the ground again. I was about out of the court yard when I hear the sword sink in to the chopping block. I heard the combined gasp of the crown. I turned the corner out of the court yard and headed back to the dashing stag.
I set myself to working for Dagmar on ship repairs. It felt good to perform some mindless manual labor. Pulling rigging and raising beam was work that made me forget.
Then my anger returned and grew to a new level. Zartan FireSky was led on to the ship by Stilicho. His horns had been cut off and his eyes had been burned out. Not only had he been dishonored he had been crippled. Then I was told that he we were to take him out in to one of the most dangerous places in the world and drop him off to fend for himself. I could not believe Stilicho was okay with any of this. I swear I will never understand trolls.
When we got back to the Reach Dremnin suggested that we should go out to the Grotto and make sure that the crystals there were not active. Stilicho went with us to the Island. We swam down and in to the tunnel. I came out charging where I knew the first crystal was. The three of them were all dark. We smashed them anyway. I then went to the broken nest and collected the skeletal bodies of my children. I placed them in a box that had a soft cloth cushion in it. I wrapped the box in a waxed cloth to keep it water proof. We swam out and headed back to the boat sure that the reach was now safe from the horror.
Ardor Zomay Skram
6th Circle Tail Dancer