May 14th, 215
The player characters express great concern about this, as trolls are said to be dangerous. Dagna Styrsdottir (Joanne) and Ogir Haralfsson (Nick) tell the others what they know of trolls - ugly, bestial, solitary by nature, very strong, very dangerous, and extremely resilient and tough. Amund Torkelsson (David) points out that the fact they tend to be solitary is a good omen - since it would be more difficult if they had to face more than one troll. Ingrid Horoldsdottir (Kathy) says that it doesn't matter; they can't leave the daughter in the clutches of such a creature, and must go and save her.
Immediately, Vigfur Egilsson (Tom) locates the tracks of the creature once more, and the group of characters cautiously proceed to follow them. Before he follows the player characters, Arnor Vagnsson (NPC) picks up Astrid's pouch, wipes it off, and pockets it - planning to give it back to her. The characters come to a small stream, and Vigfur is immediately able to find the creature's tracks there. As they travel, Sigrun Evardsdottir (Angela) asks the rest of the group how they're going to deal with the troll. Ingrid says they'll figure that out when they come down to it, but Amund says that he can offer little in the way of advice, as there are few skaldic sagas that deal with these creatures.
The trail of the troll leads the characters deeper into the Tornede Skov, deeper than most of the townsfolk have ever been, and Dagna expresses second thoughts about this venture. Sigrun says they must stick together; if they do, they will surely defeat the troll. Vigfur says that the trail seems to parallel the stream, and he thinks that means they must be heading towards a series of forest caves or the like. Ogir says he does not know of any in this area, but that anything is possible. Perhaps the troll has only recently come into this area.
The player characters travel deeper into the woods as the day goes on, encountering a pair of wolves that they manage do drive off because of their sheer numbers and due to Ogir's thulr magics. As darkness begins to close in on them, the characters reach an area where the trees start to thin out. True to Vigfur's thoughts, they find themselves at a scrub and tree-filled series of small caves. In the shadowy light, Vigfur's eyes serve him well, as he spots the troll shambling along. He tells them that he can see the cave where the girl is huddled against the outside wall of it. Sigrun suggests that she and Amund go and "fetch" the girl, while Ingrid, Ogir, Vigfur, and Dagna "distract" the troll from their efforts. Arnor bravely states that he will attack the troll with the others, and while Sigrun is against this, he says that he needs to do this, for Astrid's sake. Vigfur argues that he should go and rescue the girl, but Sigrun rightfully tells him that his bow skill may be of use against the creature. With a shrug, Vigfur defers to the Jarl's daughter.
With the plan set, the player characters attempt to complete their missions. Dagna attempts to cast a spell on the creature, but her fear of touching it forces her to try the spell at range, to no effect. Vigfur's attempt to fire arrows at the creature is useless, as they cannot penetrate the creature's hide. He brings his short sword into play, fearing it will be of little use. Arnor bravely attempts to strike the troll, but the creature is not harmed, and merely swats him away, rendering Arnor unconscious against a tree. Ogir, knowing that his runic magics are of little use against the troll, brings his hatchet to bear on it. Ingrid attempts to soften the troll up with her axe, and then takes her best shot with her long sword. She and Vigfur draw blood on the troll, but the creature responds with a devastating attack on the hirdman and the scout that leaves both of them stunned, and bleeding.
Meanwhile, Sigrun and Amund make their way to the cave where they find that Astrid Infredsdottir is tied with a stout rope connected to a jutting metal rod sticking out of the ground at the edge of the cave. While Sigrun checks on the state of the girl and manages to calm her down (she's not been harmed as of yet), Amund sees that the metal rod has several runes on it that he cannot identify. Telling Sigrun that it is a bad idea to touch the rod, the two decide the best way to free the girl is by hacking through the rope, as neither of them is able to untie it.
The fight against the troll continues, but it is going somewhat badly for the player characters. The group draws back, Ogir saying they have to buy Sigrun and Amund more time. Dagna takes a horrible risk, ducking and weaving, and manages to strike the creature and cast a harming spell [using a prodigious amount of her Furor], and the creature roars in pain, batting the volva away as if she were a rag doll. Enraged at what has just happened to their community and spiritual leader, Ingrid, Ogir, and Vigfur attack the troll [spending loads of Furor points], and are able to bring the creature down, despite taking heavy damage themselves.
By this time, Sigrun and Amund have managed to free Astrid, the girl being in somewhat of a sorry state. Sigrun leaves the girl to the skald, trusting his instincts and people skills, while she races to the side of Dagna, along with the hirdman. When Sigrun reacts angrily to her, Ingrid says there was nothing they could do. "This is fighting against bad odds in the real world, Jarl's daughter," she tells her. "People get hurt, people die...even Norsemen." When Amund tells Astrid of Arnor's condition, the girl races over to his side immediately, heedless of her own condition. Though sorely injured himself, Ogir comes over to Sigrun and Ingrid's side, and does what he can for the volva; eventually he and Sigrun tell the others that Odin won't claim Dagna this night. Elated, the group of characters determine their health and decide to spend the night in the area, near one of the caves. But not before they burn the troll's foul corpse. The players have terrible dreams that night.
The next morning, their spirits recovered somewhat even if their bodies are not, the player characters investigate the rod structure that Amund told them about the night before. The weakened Dagna and the thulr examine the runes, and Ogir tells the group that the runes are those of Othal (owned land), Dagaz (which puzzles him), Perth (stagnation), and Nauthr (torment). Between them Dagna and Ogir determine that the cave in question is cursed for some reason, perhaps once having been a place where someone lived, but they can learn no more in their current condition.
Once they ensure that Astrid is well and has not been harmed, the characters set out for Grontvand. In their weakened condition, the trip takes them two days. They are greeted with relief and concern on the faces of the townsfolk as they return home. The parents of Astrid are grateful and relieved that she is home safely, and tell the characters they are in their debt. The player characters shrug this off, claiming they did it for the well-being of the community. Evard Knudsson is proud of his daughter and what they have accomplished in killing the troll, and while Amund tries to write a saga about their efforts to rescue Astrid, the Jarl prepares to throw a feast in the characters' honour.
I don't think there's a lot to add to this post given what I said in the previous journal entry on last night's game session. I will just add that I am quite proud of the job that the player characters did in last night's Yggdrasill game session, and that this was really the first time that the characters have truly faced death in the game system since I started running it. The adrenalin was definitely flowing last night. And that's good.
As I said, I don't know what next week's gaming session will bring, but I'm looking forward to it! :)