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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 2:01 am 
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It's easy enough to set the ordinance at "this would probably disable a troll" levels. Troublingly, these are also "this would probably kill a human if he didn't get good medical care" levels.

It shouldn't be a problem; as long as you're here you can make sure that any travellers on the road avoid the tripwires. You are just really going to need to remove or deactivate any remaining traps before you move on.

--------------

Time passes, and the sun begins to sink towards the horizon. After a while (by about two in the afternoon) everyone feels it's been long enough... if Ghwerek had been rushing full-speed back to Thalesia, then he would burst out of the forest any minute now.

Any minute now.

Any... minute... now.

.....aaaaaaaaany minute now.

--------------

About half past two. Still no sign of him. Not here, not elsewhere along the road. Where is he?

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 4:59 am 
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Does the drone show any infrared signatures?

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 6:07 am 
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Plenty; several squirrels, the occasional larger herbivore (at one point you get a brief glimpse of something as large as a small deer).

Nothing that could possibly be as large as a Troll.

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 2:49 pm 
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Odd. He should have come this way by now. Is it possible he took a different route or saw the traps and stopped?

I'd like to send the drone further out to see if it can pick up on what might be a troll trail.

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 7:17 pm 
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"We could split up. Send one truck one direction, one the other, and leave one here."

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:48 am 
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You send the drone into the forest, and start looking around...

Felix: Alertness: +2 Sidekick: +4 Roll: +0 Total: +6 Target: -1

After about half an hour of flying about, you spot a source of infrared some short distance away. It's not a Troll; or, rather, it's not Troll-shaped. It's also far too hot (unless Trolls are part fire). You can't see it with the visible-light camera (there are trees in the way), but your immediate guess is that it's a cooking fire.

If Ghwerek is close enough to the fire, then you won't see him clearly due to the fire's interference (of course, you can always go closer to check whether or not he's there).

It's quite possible that the Troll simply stopped for lunch.

It's now about three in the afternoon.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 4:03 am 
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"Okay, I think I've spotted him," Felix says. "Maybe... trees are too thick for regular camera, but infrared is picking up a heat signature that looks like a campfire. If he was coming this way that's probably him. I'd say sneak up on him and try to take him, but I'm not exactly good at pursuit stealth."

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:09 pm 
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Arkady looks off in the direction of the fire, then asks "How are we supposed to convince him to give up his 'precious' without killing him? Magic of some kind?

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:38 pm 
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"Trolls live in the snow and eat their food raw," says Sir Ulath. "This is already uncomfortably hot for them. What's he doing with a fire?"

"He's been wanting that rose for centuries now," says Piper. "I don't think we have any magic that'll persuade him to just give it up. Not when he has his guard up."

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 8:16 pm 
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"Well, then I'm not sure what's going on, then," Felix says. "Suppose it's a good idea to check. If we missed him we missed him."

Felix will try to maneuver the drone into visual range. If he isn't able to do so, he'd like to try and sneak in for a closer look if someone else doesn't offer to do so.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 12:14 am 
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Felix slips the drone in between the branches, and...

...oh, that's what a Troll looks like. It looks like someone shaved a yeti. Wearing nothing more than a dirty loincloth, the large, flat-faced humanoid raises and lowers his arms, chanting rhythmically in what must be an unknown language. One of his legs is twisted in an odd way, as if the bone had been broken and never set right.

There is a fire, which he is facing. (One eye briefly glances at the drone, and a flash of annoyance is visible on the Troll's face; he doesn't do anything to the drone, not at this distance, but getting closer may risk damage). On (and partially under) the fire is... the remains of a herbivore, the size of a small buck. It's not getting cooked. Rather, it looks like it is being, very deliberately and very thoroughly, turned into something black, crunchy, and entirely inedible.

This is clearly very deliberate on the Troll's part. He's sweating - a lot - but he's also still tossing more wood onto the fire if it dies down. At one point, he even pauses his rhythmic chanting to uproot a small sapling for extra firewood. (The green wood isn't the best at burning, but the fire is nonetheless hot enough to ignite it).

Getting to him through the forest would be at least fifteen to twenty minutes walk, and you won't be able to bring the trucks. Waiting here may well be the best idea.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 1:17 am 
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"Huh... he's chanting," Felix says. "He's got some kinda deer or something, but he's not cooking it. He's scorching it. An offering?"

Felix shows the group the live feed.

"Trying to appease his gods?"

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:17 am 
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"A burnt-offering," says Piper, "to the Troll-gods. He's not likely to get any response, they've been in hiding for centur-" She pauses, and blinks. "Oh. Oh. Well. That explains a lot."

"What does?" asks Talen.

"The Troll-gods are inside the Blue Rose," says Piper. "That's why we could never find them. They've been hiding in there... probably since Ghwerek first made it."

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:10 am 
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Arkady looks at Piper, then says "That was what Zalasbra told us. But that means that if the troll gods accept the offering from their loyal worshiper Ghwerek, and respond; then he will be able to tap the power of the Rose, without the rings, by simply asking them for help.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 12:58 pm 
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A momentary frown flickers on Piper's face, and then it's gone. "The Troll-gods likely won't attack you directly," she says. "Unless you somehow threaten them or the Rose they're hiding in, in which case they'll obliterate you. Not out of any sympathy towards you, of course; they're basically brutes, and they don't think their worshippers should be wimps. By the same token, they're not likely to protect Ghwerek from a wrestling match; but I imagine they will try to protect him from your weapons. They're not smart - they won't look into the future in the same way as Azash did."

"And there's no way that we could win a wrestling match against a Troll," frowns Sir Ulath.

"No," agrees Piper, "but if they're using the Blue Rose for power, then that means that there is one other weak point. The Blue Rose cannot use its power against any object that's touching both rings - and will have trouble doing anything against an object that's touching even one of the rings."

"So," says Talen, "if someone touching a sword with both rings were to stab it into the Rose..."

"That would destroy the Rose," says Piper. "And release all of its power at once. There wouldn't be a continent left."

There's a moment of silence.

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