The Half Elf, Volume I
The cry of the troll shook the marketplace to its bones, as it swung its large club round its head towards the charging elf and half-elf. Rathron flicked out his right hand towards the monster, a fireball flying out, while Talos let loose an arrow, bound for the troll’s skull.
The troll responded by throwing the lifeless body of the halfling towards the party, blocking both the arrow and the fireball. The corpse, now aflame, crashed through a market stall, and it quickly caught ablaze.
The troll looked again at the two opposing him, and he starting clambering towards then, picking up a club he had left on the ground. Talos’ next arrow went high as the monster ducked down, unaware of how he barely avoided death. Talos turned to see Rathron holding out his hand, having cast another spell, this one in the form of a blue bolt of lightning. The bolt surged towards the troll, and narrowly missed his side. Rathron cursed loudly.
“Oi, Rathron? I’ve got a feeling this one’s gonna be tough. Maybe we should think about calling backup.” Talos called to his companion
“Never fear, my half-elf friend. I can sunder this monster, given time and correct strategy.”
“Be that as it may, we don’t have time or strategy! This bloody terror is going to destroy the whole market if we don’t take care of it soon!”
Every step he took flattened another stall, every movement of his arm causing stock to fly in every direction. The flames grew ever larger. Soon, the market would be nothing more than ruins.
Talos swore loudly – there was really no stopping. He drew yet another arrow, hoping this time it would hit.
“Come on… Come on…. Die, you great green bastard!”
Talos let the arrow fly, and the troll’s luck ran out. It struck him right in the chest, and he staggered back, dropping his club again. Talos started to celebrate, before noticing the troll picking out the arrow like it were a small splinter, then turning to Talos with a face of pure rage. Talos couldn’t think of a time he’d been more afraid, as he realised that his weapons were useless against the monster.
Just as the two were ready to flee like the civilians, they suddenly heard a cry, seemingly from behind the troll.
A shriek reverberated around the market as the tip of a sword suddenly appeared from the troll’s neck, spouting blood in all directions and causing the troll to make an ugly, undignified gurgle.
“What in Atmenea’s name…”
The tip disappeared back into the troll, who collapsed on the ground, dead to the world, blood spewing from his open wound. The two looked up to see a tall, slim female figure standing behind the corpse, brandishing a bloody sword.
“Oof. That was a tough one. Thanks by the way for holding him up for me boys!”
Talos sat at the bar, sipping his beer. Red, the woman who had saved the two, was talking to Rathron on the other side of her. The effect of this was Talos could see all of her back. Like half the people he’d met since being teleported to the mine, she was absolutely obsessed with the high elf. While, on the one hand, Talos liked this as Rathron was too busy being flattered to throw insults at his face, he did feel it was a shame that he didn’t see more of her face.
“Oh, so you’re the one who stopped the mask thief. I mean, I had heard that it was an elf that stopped her, but you? My word, you’re both intelligent and strong!”
Talos, now feeling slightly nauseous, stood up, mumbled something to the other two, and left the building to get some air. He stood outside, leaning on the wall, looking out at the busy street and contemplating. So what if a very pretty woman was fawning over his arsehole companion, and had barely noticed his existence since she’d saved them? He wasn’t here to meet new people, he was here to do a job.
He had just decided he was gonna go back inside and remind Rathron that was the case, when the elf stepped outside.
“Bit noisy in there, isn’t it? Don’t blame you myself, if it wasn’t for that human I would have left it long ago.”
“She seems, well, how should I say it…”
Talos looked at his companion, slightly shocked. He never took Rathron to be the straight-talking type when it came to romance.
“Well, to be honest, I don’t care. She isn’t my type.” The elf stated, blandly. He turned at looked at Talos again. “So then, we’d better be off. Otherwise your ‘loving-to-get-drunk’ thing from your human side might take over, then we’ll be really up the spout. Come on then.”
Rathron started walking down the street. While Talos felt little offence by this point at any of Rathron’s jabs, the way he sandwiched it in did seem odd. As opposed to taking the whole conversation as an excuse to make fun of him, as he normally did, he only said one thing right at the end, almost as if he felt like he had to say something racist or otherwise insulting. Thinking it was probably the drink getting to his head, Talos started jogging to catch up with the high elf.
“Now then. I have concluded that the troll was almost certainly hired by the BLA. While he didn’t carry any marks or icons on his person, it was clear from the fact he was magically-buffed. No one else would hire a troll and enhance them, other than our friend Kelto. Red did inform me however that she had found a map near where the troll started his rampage, scrunched up and thrown away. “
“Alright, but how does a map of the city help locate Kelto, or otherwise where the troll came from?”
“Patience, my half-friend, let me get to that. The map had a very clear route highlighted on it, and it was double-sided. On one side there is a map of the city, and the route is from the east gate to the market, where he supposedly began his rampage. Now the other side, that is interesting. It shows the entirety of the Capital Province of Comas. Under my estimate, it should take around a day or so walking to get to the start of this path.”
Talos took the map off Rathron, and had a good look at where it was taking them. The highlighted route started at a small village. Before he could have a proper look at the map, however, he heard a familiar shout from behind him.
“Hey, boys! No one said you could go off and kill some trolls without me!”
The two of them stopped, and looked over their shoulders, to see a lightly jogging Red coming up the path towards them. He long sheath was bouncing up and down in her belt, making a clatter as she came down the narrow alley.
“So then, where we off to?”
Having been completely blanked by her ever since they had first met, Talos finally had the chance to look at the human’s face. She had a slim, but still clearly strong, build. The way she had fought earlier was a fast, quick style that struck with strong blows. The fact her sword was only a few inches longer than Talos’s, which was about as close as one could get to calling something a shortsword rather than a knife, also emphasised this point. Before Talos had any more time to contemplate her fighting style, however, Rathron had gathered his thoughts and begun to respond to her.
“A small village called Cato, about a day’s walk from the capital eastwards. We were just heading to the gate now, so I assume you’ll be joining us?”
“Oh please, you couldn’t exactly go and take out a group of trolls without bringing me along. I mean come on: the famous Rathron, arguably one of the best scholars and wizards of our generations, cannot best a single, angry troll by himself?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that. More that…” Rathon paused for a second “there were external factors.” Talos could tell he deliberately looked away from him when he said that.
“In any event, if you struggle with one, how’re you suppose to take out a large group of the surprises me. So, I guessed you have to bring me along, unless you plan on being the first elf ever to work out how to negotiate with trolls?”
Rathron thought for a second, then looked back at Red with a raised eyebrow and a slightly smirk, implying he thought he would try it.
“Well, even if I were to do that, it would be useful to have you around in case negotiations break down. And in any event, we need someone to keep Talos here company, after all.”
“How come? I’ll be with you, surely?” Talos questioned.
“Well, my half-elf companion, the thing is….”
Rathron stopped for a second, both talking and walking, and held a look of very strong concentration on his face.
“Never mind, you won’t understand it if I tell you now. In any event, let us soldier on! To Cato, to Kelto, to the solution of this mystery!”
Next Chapter:An untimely depature