Morning comes, and the Heroes manage to be fed and assembled to ride by 9:00. An hour outside of town and they have not yet reached the bridge. Another half an hour, and nothing. Annoyed, they ask of the agent and he admits that the merchants, handling the scheduling and financing of their commodities trade, do not actually make the journeys with their supplies and therefore have entirely no idea how long it takes for anything to get anywhere in this part of Corinthia.
Around 11:00, two hours after leaving South Bend, the agent halts the Heroes’ progress. Ahead the road curves, and the forest blocks what lies beyond. The agent warns that around the corner is a clearing, where this road will meet a north-south roadway and cross the bridge in question. The trolls are to be found here.
The agent hangs back as the Heroes dismount and steal up on the curve in the road. Genive sets Greater Invisibility upon herself; Lester taps her with a Chain of Eyes spell to see what Genive sees.
With expert care, Genive very successfully Moves Silently into the clearing.
The Heroes’ road indeed enters the clearing, intersects another road, and then joins a wide stone bridge set across a swift-flowing river. At one corner of the road intersection is a sign-post pointing out destinations. Beside the foot of the bridge is a covered sign-board, common in these areas, often displaying Wanted posters, travel advisories, or general regional information.
At this sign-board stand three men; one chubby, another lanky with long hair, and another tall and skinny. They are armed, and are loitering about, at present in a heated discussion.
Genive, invisible, sneaks past with ease. She prowls out to the mid-span of the bridge, then back, down a slight embankment to the river’s edge, under the bridge, and back up behind the three men, who remain in an argument about something else now.
All visible, the Heroes round the corner and approach the three men. At sight of the Heroes, the men end their conversation and watch, wary, as strangers approach.
Before the Heroes can ask a question, each of the men in turn, starts to make snide comments about them. The chubby one calls Lester a little kid. The tall one insults the acid wizard’s lack of armor, not realizing that the acid wizard now has a name, JAQUES. The lanky man tells Wobberts that the swashbuckler’s boots “suck”.
The barrage of harassment and insults continues, from these three men, as the agent cautiously tiptoes up behind our Heroes, hoping not to be noticed by the trolls here at the message board. They do notice him and the chubby man sends a cutting comment his way. The agent confirms to the Heroes that this is exactly the kind of harassment that trade caravans had encountered, and avoided this site as a result.
The Heroes groan, now thinking back on the conversation with the merchants and understanding that the trolls that were mentioned were not at all the kind of Trolls they had been expecting.
The verbal assault escalates; Lester finds himself staring
down up the tall man, who says to the chubby man, “Are we going to take this from these losers, n00bh8r ?”
“No way, dragonbayne273,” n00bh8r responds, and some of our Heroes note that ‘273’ was the Corinthian calendar-year about thirteen years ago. Weapons are handled; a fight begins.
Quick to the draw, the Dread Pirate Wobberts is surprised to find that he flat-out kills the lanky man with two quick hits. These men are modestly armed with a dagger, spear, or mace; and unarmored. Jaques and Lester, having used spells earlier in anticipation of fighting real Trolls, find themselves faced with no real threat at all. They take no action. Neither does Genive.
Seeing their friend drop, dragonbayne273 yells, “What the Hells, they killed TehDelaydBlastFireball !” and the two quickly make to hold back any more killing, fearfully withdrawing several steps.
Horrified, n00bh8r has obviously bowel-voided himself, as he looks down and yells “Oh crap, log out ! (I’ve got a) Log out !”
The Dread Pirate Wobberts is eager to continue the fight but is discouraged by his allies, as the two remaining trolls make haste to run away.
Satisfied, the agent assures the Heroes that the report of success will be made. And as promised earlier, the agent directs the Heroes to a short-cut. Taking the north road away from this intersection, in half an hour the Heroes will find a sign pointing out a well-marked road that will take the Heroes back to the main road from South Bend to Ridgeway. This shortcut route is seldom travelled and passes some very marshy areas, but is entirely passable.
The Heroes will not make Ridgeway today. They will have to camp out in the wilds.