Jakovy of Tinnipuli, loyal and noble solider of King Absomeel the Dismal, set out from the land of Kadar on an excursion into the neighboring kingdom of Goorg. It should have been an easy trip. His goal: engage the services of his old friend Master Norton, the renowned bladesmith of Brenardia, to fix a rather embarrassing problem he was having with his heirloom sword, Bobbo. Little did he suspect he would be bumping up against unreasonable locals with age old hostilities or, worse yet, another angry tribe of mountain trolls. Are his wit, charm, and skills with a borrowed blade enough to get him back home safely? It all depends upon the cooperation of an unruly bunch of Kadar expatriates, the reasoning of a stubborn troll leader, and luck.
Jakovy drew his sword from the makeshift scabbard he had fashioned from an old belt and held it up above his head. He began walking slowly toward, then across the bridge. As he reached the other side, something flew out toward him from behind a large rock. He quickly sidestepped, and watched as it rolled toward the far side of the road. It was the head of a young woman, most likely the missing daughter of the mayor, Jakovy thought. Mercifully, her long hair, tangled and matted with blood, covered her facial features.
"Come out, Master Troll," Jakovy commanded.
From behind the rock where the head had come flying, he emerged. He was a large troll, even by the standards of these mountains, which were known to produce some the largest ever seen. At least eight feet, Jakovy reckoned, and he thought there was something familiar about this one. As he was very close to where he and his fellow noblemen had gathered not so long before to drive the trolls back, Jakovy expected that this very troll could have been among those who had previously escaped.
The troll, all eight feet of stinking fur and oversized limbs, walked slowly toward Jakovy, then past him. The troll bent over, picked up the head of the slain girl, then walked it to the far side of the road and placed it back on the ground. Jakovy looked closer, and saw that this was indeed a second line across the road, with the girl's head marking the end of the line.
"New lines," growled the troll, in a low voice that was at once gravelly and somewhat liquid. "Cross and die." The troll pointed his long, hairy arm toward one end of the line, and then the other. Then he strolled slowly backward from the line and turned around to face Jakovy.
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