Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI (2002)
For the April Fool’s TankArd
Every year the inhabitants of the Cliffs gather together to engage in a Troll hunt. Trolls are quite numerous in the wilds of Ardchreag, in the brambles, the marshes, the rocky quarries and the stinking bogs. Trolls grow larger the longer they live, starting out the size of a wolf terrier. The oldest Trolls loom over the heads of men on horseback.
To keep the Troll population at a manageable size, the Chreaggers engaged in a Troll hunt each New Year’s Day. The entire populace gathered at the canton keep, splitting themselves into teams.
Several of the shorter people were made flushers under the leadership of Colyne. The flushers would act as bait, drawing out the Trolls, and leading them back to where the archers waited. These included Raffe Scolemaystre, Ivanna the Oblivious, Iolanda de Albornoz and Emperor Bobo.
If the Troll was too large to be taken down by arrows the fighters of the canton would rush it from either side. Thorfinna gra’feldr, Siegfried Brandbjorn, Volodymyr “Vlad” Blahuciak, Brandt das Lederwerker and many others had sharpened their spears, swords and pikes in anticipation.
Things went exactly as planned, with the Chreaggers bagging twenty-two Trolls in four hours. The only mishap was when Berend van der Eych, the canton’s executioner, cut his hand while lopping off the last Troll’s head. (Some Trolls are strong enough that they will not stay dead unless their heads are removed.) Luckily, Fursto was nearby to patch him up.
Then things went really bad. One of the flushers, Stephen Scrymgeour, interrupted a large troll busily devouring the carcass of a bear. The monster was instantly on its feet and threw Stephen through the air, sending him crashing into an oak. The Troll, easily twice the height of Wulfgang Donnerfaust and three times as wide, strode quickly towards the hunters. The archers loosed shaft after shaft but they broke on the beast’s thick skin.
Gunther Katzkin, Eanor of Amberhall, Siegfried and Vlad rushed the Troll and halted its progress momentarily. But then it caught Gunther up in its giant hand and used him to club his compatriots into unconsciousness.
Brandt and Kenric rallied the remaining fighters around them and rushed the Troll as it chased after the archers. It knocked them aside one after the other and gave voice to a triumphant roar that made the blood of those that heard it run cold.
Then Piero remembered reading once that a Troll’s most vulnerable spot was behind its knees. He shouted this out as the Troll lumbered after him. Thorfinna lashed out with her blade as the beast ran past her, connecting solidly with the back of its left knee. Howling with pain the Troll dropped to the ground and thrashed about while Colyne, Crispinus and Elspeth threw nets about its body. Soon it lay as fully trussed as a Yuletide goose.
The triumphant Chreaggers took the beast back tot heir keep and locked it within a specially made cage, built by Melchior, Brandt, Gunther and Berend. No matter how the Troll raged it could not break free.
And so a great feast was held, the Troll was presented to Their Excellencies of Septentria to do with as they pleased, and all those on the Cliffs had a wondrous New Year’s Day.
Except Stephen. Who is dead.