Mystara and the Path to Immortality
Skrogg's Journal - Chapter 15
16th Vatermont, Day 287
We have spent the last few days in the Ducal Palace as honoured guests. I feel a little guilty at the opulence we have been living in, when I know that some of the people of Rhoona have suffered greatly and would be grateful for even a handful of coins. We had a feast yesterday, held by the Duke to honour us. I admit that I do not remember much of it as I had a little too much to drink. Azimi tells me that I tried singing a few home-made songs which were not that great and even started composing a song for Kurin about Dwarven ladies! I am glad I do not remember that, although it seems others do, as I keep getting greeted with knowing smiles as I move about the palace. We will be moving on soon as the others want to go to Norrvik. Azimi wants to visit the Magic School and the others want to find weapon-masters. I should look at increasing my skill with the short-sword, although I think that Silanda Feadiel might be able to help me out back in Ravenholm.
17th Vatermont, Day 288
We will be leaving Rhoona tomorrow and I shall be sad to leave the comfy beds and the fine food in the palace. I know that the ship back to Norrvik and then Ravenholm won’t be anywhere near as nice. Still a Northman does as a Northman needs. I’m sure the comradery will more than make up for the discomfort. We visited the temple of Odin today to see if I could restore some of my “soul”. The touch of the fiendish Spectre still haunts me, but now at least the wound has been healed. Sven managed to negotiate a deal involving some magical maces to get the Restoration spell cast on me. Fitting that the weapons of the enemy are used to heal the hurts they caused (in a round-about way…).
18th Vatermont, Day 289
True to my prediction, the ship is not as comfy as the palace, but we have had great fun singing bawdy songs and telling outrageous tales. One of the crew related this tale about a young boy called Boots…
Once on a time there was a farmer who had three sons; his means were small, and he was old and weak, and his sons would take to nothing. A fine large wood belonged to the farm, and one day the father told his sons to go and hew wood, and try to pay off some of his debts.
Well, after a long talk, he got them to set off, and the eldest was to go first. But when he had got well into the wood, and began to hew at a mossy old fir, what should he see coming up to him but a great sturdy Troll.
“If you hew in this wood of mine,” said the Troll, I’ll kill you!"
When the lad heard that, he threw the axe down, and ran off home as fast as he could lay legs to the ground; so he came in quite out of breath, and told them what had happened, but his father called him “hare-heart,”—no Troll would ever have scared him from hewing when he was young, he said.
Next day the second son’s turn came, and he fared just the same. He had scarce hewn three strokes at the fir, before the Troll came to him too, and said—
“If you hew in this wood of mine, I’ll kill you.”
The lad dared not so much as look at him, but threw down the axe, took to his heels, and came scampering home just like his brother. So when he got home, his father was angry again, and said no Troll had ever scared him when he was young.
The third day Boots wanted to set off.
“You, indeed!” said the two elder brothers; “you’ll do it bravely, no doubt! You, who have scarce ever set your foot out of the door.”
Boots said nothing to this, but only begged them to give him a good store of food. His mother had no cheese, so she set the pot on the fire to make him a little, and he put it into a scrip and set off. So when he had hewn a bit, the Troll came to him too, and said—
“If you hew in this wood of mine, I’ll kill you.”
But the lad was not slow; he pulled his cheese out of the scrip in a trice, and squeezed it till the whey spurted out.
“Hold your tongue!” he cried to the Troll, “or I’ll squeeze you as I squeeze the water out of this white stone.”
“Nay, dear friend!” said the Troll, “only spare me, and I’ll help you to hew.”
Well, on those terms the lad was willing to spare him, and the Troll hewed so bravely, that they felled and cut up many, many fathoms in the day.
But when evening drew near, the Troll said—
“Now you’d better come home with me, for my house is nearer than yours.”
So the lad was willing enough; and when they reached the Troll’s house, the Troll was to make up the fire, while the lad went to fetch water for their porridge, and there stood two iron pails so big and heavy, that he couldn’t so much as lift them from the ground.
“Pooh!” said the lad, “it isn’t worth while to touch these finger-basins. I’ll just go and fetch the spring itself.”
“Nay, nay, dear friend!” said the Troll; " I can’t afford to lose my spring; just you make up the fire, and I’ll go and fetch the water."
So when he came back with the water, they set to and boiled up a great pot of porridge.
“It’s all the same to me,” said the lad; “but if you’re of my mind, we’ll eat a match!”
“With all my heart,” said the Troll, for he thought he could surely hold his own in eating. So they sat down; but the lad took his scrip unawares to the Troll, and hung it before him, and so he spooned more into the scrip than he ate himself; and when the scrip was full, he took up his knife and made a slit in the scrip. The Troll looked on all the while, but said never a word. So when they had eaten a good bit longer, the Troll laid down his spoon, saying, “Nay! but I can’t eat a morsel more.”
“But you shall eat,” said the youth; “I’m only half done; why don’t you do as I did, and cut a hole in your paunch? You’ll be able to eat then as much as you please.”
“But doesn’t it hurt one cruelly?” asked the Troll.
“Oh,” said the youth, “nothing to speak of.”
So the Troll did as the lad said, and then you must know very well that he lost his life; but the lad took all the silver and gold that he found in the hill-side, and went home with it, and you may fancy it went a great way to pay off the debt.
I like this story as it shows you don’t have to be big to defeat your enemies – just like me – Skrogg, the fearless Hin warrior!
The spring weather is fantastic and the sights of all the new growth is invigourating. We should do this more often.
22nd Vatermont, Day 293
We reached Norrvik today after an uneventful journey downriver. We all went our separate ways to find our own weapon-masters after finding lodgings at an Inn called the Wandering Wench. With grins at Azimi we thought that this was an apt place for us and was even run by a Dwarf named Grimvat Stonebreaker which sealed the deal for Kurin. I found a strapping young man called Grunnar “Half-Troll” Ulfson who was willing to help me with the short-sword. He seems to know what he’s about, but his nickname stems from his personality rather than his build methinks. We shall see if the training is worth the 2000 Guldan he charges.
25th Vatermont, Day 296
I’m not sure that I’m learning much swordplay, but Half-Troll is teaching me some superb curses and taunts. This is my favourite:
“Kringlaugd wierd, ein spadi for qvoki ne skeifr drpr munni ne svinhqfdi!”
Which translates to:
Gaze upon thy destiny, with this sword I will cleave your lying maggot mouth from your swine head!
I will certainly sound like a Northman even if I don’t fight like one!
4th Thaumont, Day 303
As Sven, Thorsgrim, Ragnar, Brother Starkad and I were sitting down for our evening meal of bacon, sausages and bread, Azimi and Kurin arrived back (with Kurin carrying a large sachel filled with what looked like books) with a tale of adventure. It seems that a wizard from Alphatia had taken exception to Azimi and challenged her to a Wizard Duel. I didn’t think Azimi was all that offensive, but who knows how magic-users think? Kurin related the tale and it seems that Azimi accounted for herself quite well although I’m not really sure who won as it was a duel to the death (as all Wizard Duels are) yet both combatants are still alive. Whatever the result, we shall have to keep an eye out for the purple robed Alphatians.
8th Thaumont, Day 307
Azimi and Kurin left for Ravenholm today. They had done all they wanted and were eager to get home. I joked that Kurin was only needed to carry Azimi’s bags. He just stared and muttered something in Dwarvish which I didn’t understand. Seriously though, Azimi seems to spend all her money on books, I don’t know where she keeps them all.
12th Thaumont, Day 311
The training seems to be going well. I’m certainly tired at night and really don’t feel up to carousing with the others.
17th Thaumont, Day 316
Here is another:
“Hon varr Draconian, gamla vis Hruga uskit’r.”
I am a Draconian and thou art less than a heap of poo!
22nd Thaumont, Day 321
My training with Half-Troll has come to an end but I feel that I haven’t learned all I could. I shall have to talk to Silanda when I return home. Sven and Ragnar have completed their training with better results than me, so we will travel back to Ravenholm tomorrow. Thorsgrim and Brother Starkad will stay on as Thorsgrim’s training with the hammer is much more intense and requires longer.
25th Thaumont, Day 324
We arrived back in Ravenholm today. It seems the village gets bigger every time we get back. It is good to see the familiar faces of my adopted family. I shall seek out Silanda to see if he can help me with the sword.
28th Thaumont, Day 327
I’m already learning more with Silanda than I did with Half-Troll. Although he doesn’t say much, I think Silanda is amused by my curses as whenever I practice them a small smile appears on his face. His Elven ways are more subtle than the northern style of Half-Troll and I think more suited to me.
5th Flaurmont, Day 332
Today was Ragnar’s birthday. It was the usual Northern celebration with lots of drinking, bragging and fighting. I joined in for a while but couldn’t keep up, so I went for a walk to clear my head. The village of Ravenholm is certainly getting bigger. Work on a palisade, a large wooden wall, is going well and will soon enclose the whole village. Hopefully it will be ready for the winter and this time the Trolls will be kept out. There are now six families of my fellow Hin living here. Although they complain about the cold, I think they enjoy it here. I hope the winter doesn’t give them too much of a shock, I have warned them about the snow… They have taken to calling me The Sheriff a nickname from the Shires. Each of the Five Shires is governed by a Sheriff, usually a very experienced hero. I guess they see me as the unofficial leader of the Sixth Shire. I must start training some of the older ones in the art of combat as I’m sure that they will be needed sooner or later.
10th Flaurmont, Day 337
It has been a whole year since I set out from Ober’s Mimbur. I have seen more than I could have possibly imagined as a child and I wouldn’t swap this life for any other. I have met some wonderful people who I now call friends and defeated some terrible monsters to make the world a nicer place. I think my parents would be proud of me.
11th Flaurmont, Day 338
Tomorrow is my birthday and I feel a little sad that Thorsgrim won’t be here to share in the celebrations. I wonder what pranks will be played on me. I hope not too much is planned, I don’t have a lot of energy as Silanda is running me ragged with sword training. Still, it will be worth it as I feel myself becoming more expert in its use.
12th Flaurmont, Day 339
My birthday has almost past, and there haven’t been any pranks. I think everyone is busy with their own things. Kurin is busy at the forge, Sven and Ragnar spend much time hunting and fishing, avoiding Sven’s wife. Azimi spends time locked in her house or talking with that freaky Old Nan. I do miss Thorsgrim. There were a few toasts in the Feast-Hall and a bit of a feast with the other Hin, but all-in-all a very quiet day. Probably just as well, Silanda has an extra hard day planned for me tomorrow as he gave me my birthday off. I am not looking forward to it at all.
14th Flaurmont, Day 341
Today was Azimi’s birthday. I don’t think the others realised so I went to play a birthday prank on her by myself. Unfortunately her door was held fast and I was chased away by a large black bird (a huge Raven I think) with a terrifically sharp beak. It had a mean look in it’s eye and I swear it was laughing at me. I think I might stay away from Azimi’s house in the future.
20th Flaurmont, Day 347
Thorsgrim and Brother Starkad arrived back today. The Wolves of Ravenholm are complete again! It was good to catch up with Thorsgrim, although he was a little glum (more than usual) as he hadn’t quite got the mastery of his hammer that he wished. He told us of an attempt on his life by a strange assassin! This man, who had his mouth stitched shut, crept in through the window of the Wandering Wench and proceeded to attack Thorsgrim. Luckily through Thor’s protection, Thorsgrim and Starkad were able to defeat the assassin. The question that everyone is wondering is who sent the assassin? What has Thorsgrim done to attract the ire of someone powerful enough the hire a killer from Thyatis?
22nd Flaurmont, Day 349
I finished my training today to discover that Thorsgrim was busy writing a magic scroll. It seems he wants to learn a Rune. The ritual is a bit of a Godi secret but involves the ceremonial death of the Godi and being buried for nine nights! Sounds way to hard-core for me. Anyway, he needs a couple of healing spells to be cast to “bring him back from the dead” and given that Kurin cannot cast the required spells yet, Thorsgrim needs to write them out. I hope he knows what he’s doing…