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    Yeoldebard
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Stories in this Fandom are works of fan fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Recognized characters, events, incidents belong to Owlcat Games, Deepsilver and Pazio

The Troll Hunter - 8. The Path Ahead

CASSIEL

 

They returned to Ismenia. It was the only reasonable choice in Cassiel’s mind. He needed to figure out the problem with the trolls and ask around about the dwarven outpost. Too much had happened to simply leave it to Octavia to handle.

And on top of that, he had a veritable horde of people waiting to see him in the throne room.

“I may be a young baron, unused to rule, but even I can tell when someone is deliberately being rude,” Cassiel scowled at the representative of Pitax.

“Is that so? Well perhaps you should put this newfound clarity into better running your lands,” the human smirked.

“You will leave immediately if you know what’s best for yourself,” the half elf said dangerously.

“Of course, Lord Cassiel,” the man said with a mocking bow, turning to stride away.

“Keston!”

The captain of the guard appeared beside the magus, head lowered respectfully.

“My lord?”

“Have Kassil keep an eye on him. I want to make sure he doesn’t try to stir up the people,” Cassiel sighed. “Who’s next?”

“A trader, my lord. He says he knows someone who knows about trolls.”

“Send him in,” Cassiel said with renewed interest.

The door to the throne room opened, a rather frazzled looking man hurrying into the room. He bowed before the baron, his torn clothes fresh from the road.

“My lord. I am Darren, a trader from Brevoy.”

“I hear you have information on the trolls plaguing our lands,” Cassiel said, leaning back in the wooden chair.

His back protested the motion, and the half elf sighed quietly, leaning a different direction in an attempt to keep the chair from destroying his back.

“Yes my lord. There is a wizard by the name of Bartholomew Delgado who is constantly beset by trolls. I trade with him often in my travels in the southern Narlmarches. If anyone would know how to stop the trolls, he would.”

“We know how to stop the trolls already, using acid instead of fire. It’s more difficult, but it has been working so far,” Cassiel frowned. “Would this Delgado know why trolls are suddenly immune to fire?”

“I would assume so my lord,” Darren replied. “Though I am not very knowledgeable about his experiments.”

“Thank you Darren, we’ll take this information into account. In the meantime, why don’t you wait in Ismenia while we work on making the roads safer?”

“I have family in Brevoy, my lord,” Darren frowned.

“And it would be for the best if their provider was not beset by bandits on the road,” Cassiel urged. “The barony is young, the Stag Lord’s legacy is still felt, as we have not yet had the time to weed out every last bandit yet.”

“I… suppose I could stay for a while.”

“Good,” Cassiel smiled. “I will let you get back to your trading then, with my thanks.”

The merchant bowed, before heading out of the throne room. Cassiel let out a quiet sigh as he left, slumping in the throne.

“Well, it’s a step forward. I suppose it’s time to gather up the group again. We’ve had… what, a week’s break?” he asked, looking at Keston.

“Two, my lord. You had to aid Octavia in her requests-”

“I know what I was doing, I just… lost track of time,” the half elf sighed.

“Yes, I am aware that elves have trouble keeping time relevant in their minds.”

“It’s more that we lose track of time when dealing with monotony. Who needs to focus on the task at hand when it can be done in your sleep? I trust Octavia enough to handle things, and planting my seal is not hard to do.”

“My lord, if you’ll forgive me my suggestion, perhaps you should pay more attention to your work. If something slipped through without you noticing-”

“I notice plenty Keston. But your concern is appreciated.”

Cassiel hummed thoughtfully, fingers tapping on the throne’s arm.

“Regongar. Can you get him? I need to speak to him about something.”

“Of course my lord.”

Keston bowed before beating a hasty retreat from the room. Moments later, a woman burst through the door, chased down by guards, and Cassiel stood up, instantly calling a bead of acid to hand.

“My lord! My lord, you must help me! My child is missing! He’s been stolen away by witches in the night!” the woman sobbed.

The acid vanished, Cassiel holding up his hand to stop the guards.

“Hold! A witch? I’ve known witches, and not many would wish to steal a child away,” he frowned. “Most of them are rather bitter, but they’re not necessarily malevolent.”

“She’s a swamp hag, my lord. My son went out to the woods last night, and he has not returned since.”

Cassiel let out a groan, sitting back in his chair.

“Tell me something…”

“Jenna, my lord.”

“Jenna… why would your kid decide to take a stroll through the woods late at night?”

“He was gathering berries for our supper, my lord. He never returned.”

“Sounds like your brat got into more trouble than he could handle. He’s probably dead,” Regongar said from behind the woman, Cassiel narrowing his eyes at the half orc.

“We’ll look into this,” Cassiel promised.

“Th… thank you my lord…”

Jenna backed out of the room quickly, Cassiel frowning at Regongar.

“I do not appreciate your bluntness in that situation. She was clearly distraught, and you could have used some tact. Or waited until we were finished.”

“My apologies,” Regongar smirked. “Keston said you needed to see me?”

“Yes. You work blade and spell, correct? How are you with shield spells and illusions?”

“I have no use for them,” Regongar shrugged. “Things die too fast around me to need any sort of shield. Besides, I never could get the hang of that kind of magic.”

“Right… because you are not using a book, are you?” Cassiel frowned.

“Nah, I never was one for a lot of reading. Not smart enough, I suppose. That’s why the league stuck a sword in my hand and made me practice with my lightning.”

“Do you think you could protect a party from trolls?” Cassiel asked.

“Protect? Who knows. Kill? Definitely,” the half orc sneered.

The half elf sighed, resting his chin on his hand. Valerie or Regongar… he wasn’t sure Valerie had an actual problem, she was certainly loyal. But Cassiel was still upset about her jabbing at Theofrid. Maybe he was the one with the problem, but the baron was not ready to face that yet.

“Gear up, whatever you need from the armoury you’ve got,” he said finally. “Go talk with Amiri, you two will be working point together. We’re fighting fire resistant trolls and fire wielding kobolds. Prepare accordingly.”

“Awesome,” Regongar grinned.

He barely inclined his head before stepping out of the room, Cassiel letting out a heavy sigh. The half elf felt like he had just unleashed a menace on the lands, but maybe he was just reading the half orc wrong.

Either way, he needed to tell Valerie she was needed around the town. Maybe Octavia could give some advice for that.

“Keston.”

“My lord?” the guard asked with a bow.

“Are there any more petitioners today?”

“No my lord, I believe that was everyone.”

The magus let out a relieved sigh.

“I’ll be working on my aim in the practice range,” he said, standing up stiffly. “If you could pass the word for Tristian, Theofrid, and Linzi, we’re leaving at first light.”

Stepping from the short hall, Cassiel wandered through the manor to his room, grabbing and stringing his bow. Buckling a fresh quiver of arrows to his waist, the half elf made his way back through the building, frowning as he saw Theofrid working in his office.

He stopped outside the room, the gnome looking up with an annoyed grunt that turned into a startled gasp.

“My lord! Ezvenki’s offer is still being worked on, we’re close to an agreement,” the arcanist said quickly.

“I know,” Cassiel said, waving the concern off. “We’re heading out again in the morning. If you are done with your work, perhaps we can practice together out back? I like to work out my kinks before an expedition.”

“Of course my lord,” Theofrid said, pushing a paper aside. “I am finished, just working on the last few details, but at this point, they’re practically writing themselves. I’ll grab my crossbow.”

Cassiel stopped the gnome before he could escape the room.

“My… my lord?” Theofrid asked, looking up at the half elf.

“My name Theofrid. What is it?”

“C… Cassiel?”

“Good, you remember it,” Cassiel smirked. “I believe I told you not to refer to me by title.”

“Oh… I’m sorry my- I’m sorry Cassiel…”

Theofrid averted his eyes, the gnome angling his gaze down the hall.

“Go, fetch your crossbow and meet me out back,” Cassiel said, stepping back.

Theofrid bowed before hurrying away, Cassiel letting out a low chuckle at the sight of the gnome scurrying away.

 

THEOFRID

 

“A missing kid, a mage in the wilderness, a swamp hag, a gnome turned kobold returned from the dead, trolls who don’t fear fire, a kobold kingdom, barely veiled threats from Pitax, and an uppity alchemist threatening to turn popular opinion against Ellesmera.”

An arrow slammed into the target face, Cassiel turning to grab another missile.

“Did I miss anything?” he asked, motioning for Theofrid to take a shot.

“Not that I can think of, Cassiel,” Theofrid frowned, aiming his crossbow before squeezing the trigger.

The bolt slammed into the target, nearly three inches from Cassiel’s still quivering arrow, and the gnome let out a quiet sigh, adjusting the tiny sight on the crossbow.

“Everyone said the hard part was over, that being a baron would be easy. Gods damned liars, the lot of them,” Cassiel fumed.

“Maybe you’re looking at it wrong. Perhaps this is just another type of adventure,” Theofrid suggested as the half elf loosed another missile.

Cassiel scoffed, shaking his head as Theofrid reloaded.

“I want out of this adventure then. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had the freedom to just research a spell, or design an arrow?”

“I understand your frustration. There are days when I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better off heading to New Stetven.”

“I’m glad you stayed,” Cassiel sighed quietly. “I don’t think I could have done any of this without you.”

Theofrid felt a strange thrill at the words. Pride? Nerves? He supposed it was both. The gnome certainly wasn’t new to the feeling that sent butterflies through his gut, he just had never expected to feel it directed toward a baron.

“You flatter me,” he said, bringing up his weapon.

“Perhaps a little,” Cassiel shrugged as Theofrid set his next bolt. “Really, I’m just glad I don’t have to do everything myself. So… I don’t know if you heard, but Regongar is coming with us this time.”

The gnome’s aim slipped as he squeezed, the bolt shattering a vase holding a bundle of growing flowers. Dirt poured out of the broken pottery, Theofrid frowning as he waved a hand.

“Xurwk tiamo.”

The shard trembled from the spell before flying back together, the dirt refilling the reformed pot, though the flowers remained where they had fallen. The gnome scowled at the plants, setting his crossbow down to go replant them.

“Is that a problem?” Cassiel noted wryly.

“No, no problem at all my… Cassiel,” Theofrid said, carefully moving dirt around.

He set the plants back inside before covering the roots with soil. Fishing out a copper, he called to Gara, the djinn cleaning his hands with a quick gust of wind before claiming her coin with a murmured thanks.

“I’m almost certain no one would be upset if the two of you decided to continue your fun on the road.”

“I cannot do that,” Theofrid denied. “He is… very much my type, but his personality is-”

“Like a lightning bolt in a firestorm, sudden and unexpected,” Cassiel offered.

“Very much so, yes.”

Reclaiming his crossbow, Theofrid began reloading again as the magus beside him loosed another arrow.

“Have you thought of our direction?”

“Not beyond working out which quest needs doing first,” Cassiel frowned.

“The child needs to be found first, so we’ll need to speak with the witch. If we stop by Delgado’s home along the way, all the better. The old tower to the southwest might help us spy that dwarven ruin Jubilost spoke of, so after we find the child, we should head there. The kobolds can wait. I know Tartuccio is evil, and the fact that he has returned is very disconcerting, but trolls who are immune to fire are a much bigger threat than a new tribe of kobolds. Besides, the Sootscales might help us fight the new tribe later, if needed,” Theofrid said, thinking out loud.

“The tribe under the old sycamore? They’re still licking their wounds from Tartuccio; I don’t think they’re in any position to offer aid,” Cassiel frowned.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Theofrid shrugged. “About Pitax… you are only a baron, you are still under the Surtovas and Brevoy. Pitax may make threats to push you in a certain direction, but if they attack us, I don’t think Port Ice or Restov would take that lightly. Especially when they both want to see us on their side.”

Cassiel let out a sigh, walking downrange to collect their bolts and arrows as Theofrid followed.

“I’m sure you’re right, but that doesn’t really make me feel any better about it. Honestly, I miss adventuring. I miss knowing that, hey, we’re fighting kobolds, or hey, we need to stop this evil person before he hurts this town. I miss the threats I could see and deal with.”

“Those are still around. After all, we do need to stop the evil kobold before he does… whatever it is he has planned. And you can trust Kassil to watch your back, I’m sure. He seems like a good man,” Theofrid added. “If not, perhaps you could talk to that tiefling, Kaessi? I’m not sure, but I feel that she would be willing to help you out.”

“She is strange,” Cassiel shrugged. “On the one hand, I don’t really feel any malevolence to her, but I also feel that she could end everything we work for in an instant.”

“My… Cassiel… a determined chicken could kill you right now and destroy this entire barony. You are worried, rightfully so, but that worry can’t stop you from doing what might need to be done. This barony isn’t finished growing, and I just know that we will need more people to help us out. Maybe Kaessi is one of them, maybe not. You can’t know until you talk to her.”

“Okay wise guy,” Cassiel said, handing the bolts to the gnome. “If you have all the answers, how about this one. Who was bigger, Regongar or the troll?”

“W...what?”

Theofrid went red, the gnome stuttering as he tried to comprehend the question.

“Why… I… Why do you want to know something like that?” he demanded.

“Curiosity. I’ve heard he’s always bragging about it. Is it really that big?”

Theofrid shook his head.

“No? Hah, I knew it,” Cassiel smirked.

“No… it’s just different. Thicker, but smaller,” Theofrid frowned. “Why are we talking about this?”

“Because you need to calm down. I want you to joke around me, laugh, be free to do what you enjoy.”

“What I enjoy? Oh… like a nice quill that lets the ink flow smoothly from the tip?” Theofrid asked, heart pounding.

“Ooh, yeah, those are nice. Especially when they dip in the inkwell just slightly before wiping off clean around the edges,” Cassiel grinned. “I always like the thinner ones, they seem like they fit better.”

“Thick is nice if you want a bigger flow, but thin generally gives a more streamlined result.”

“You speak from experience, I can tell.”

“I’ve been the user of many quills,” Theofrid shrugged. “Until recently, never an orcish one though.”

“Was it nice?” Cassiel asked, unstringing his bow before motioning back toward the manor.

“It was painful. I’d rather use the inkwell,” Theofrid shrugged, sticking to the innuendo.

“Really?” Cassiel smirked as they headed inside. “I would think someone like you… Wait, is this all because of me?”

“What?”

“This whole nervous act… oh my gods, you’re a top, aren’t you?”

Theofrid shrugged, his face burning.

“Not… not really. Look, do we really have to keep talking about this?”

“Hey, if you want my help getting with Kassil, then yes. I have to know what I’m offering.”

“What?! Kassil… I don’t want to…”

“Sure you do. Who doesn’t?” Cassiel laughed. “Fine, fine, I’ll just let him know you’re not interested-”

“Wait!”

The gnome scowled, shaking his head at the outburst.

“Please don’t talk to him about me. I’ll talk to him when I’m ready.”

“As you wish. And just so you know, I still think about our night in bed together fondly,” Cassiel added with a smirk. “See you at dinner.”

“But… we didn’t do anything…” Theofrid frowned as he watched the half elf stroll away.

Shaking his head in silent disbelief, the gnome made his way to the manor’s armoury. He needed to gather items for the morning.

© 2020 Owlcat Games, Deepsilver and Pazio; All Rights Reserved; Copyright © 2021 Yeoldebard; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Stories in this Fandom are works of fan fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Recognized characters, events, incidents belong to Owlcat Games, Deepsilver and Pazio
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Something is smoldering....could turn out to be conflagration...

“As you wish. And just so you know, I still think about our night in bed together fondly,” Cassiel added with a smirk. “See you at dinner.”

“But… we didn’t do anything…” Theofrid frowned as he watched the half elf stroll away.

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7 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

Something is smoldering....could turn out to be conflagration...

“As you wish. And just so you know, I still think about our night in bed together fondly,” Cassiel added with a smirk. “See you at dinner.”

“But… we didn’t do anything…” Theofrid frowned as he watched the half elf stroll away.

We can only hope 😜

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