Chapter 6: Trolls

“Can’t you just lead us to the rock trolls and let us defeat them for you?” Steve asked.

Chris paused, then went with his only hope, repetitive NPC dialogue.

“Without my mace, I am unable to defeat the rock trolls, my sworn enemy. I fear returning to Kingscastle with my quest unfinished, especially should it become known that I unwittingly made a Princess of Kingscastle my mount.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Without my mace, I am unable to defeat the rock trolls, my sworn enemy. I fear returning to—”

“Steve, c’mon, give Sir Christopher your mace,” Percy said. “You will return it, right, Sir Knight.”

“My name’s not Steve.”

“With all haste, Sir Percy. I will defeat the rock trolls without hesitation and return with the mace and prizes. I fear I will be unable to return in good time laden without my mount… Princess to bear the rock trolls’ treasures.”

“May we accompany you, Sir Knight?” Steve asked.

“I am afraid not. The rock trolls are a cunning and dangerous foe, I fear you would be in danger. Fear not, I shall return with all haste.”

“Steve, give the NPC your mace, he’ll just keep on repeating dialogue until you do. He’ll probably return after a minute’s cutscene,” Philip said. “You heard him, there’s loot in it for us.”

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“Shut up, Phil. My mace, my rules. I get half the loot, alright?”

“Fine,” Phil ground out, Percy and Cecilia nodded in agreement.

“Before I give you my mace, Sir Christopher, please prove you can handle the trolls on your own.”

Chris bowed and strode over to a nearby sapling and bent it over his knee. It broke with a crack. “Is this ample proof of my prowess?” He held out the upper half of the tree.

Steve glowered.

“Well, is it?” Phil crowed.

“I hate you guys,” Steve said as he handed over his weapon.

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Chris gave it a few experimental swipes. Yes, that would do nicely. “Tis a fine weapon, this shall do. I shall return within the span of a single recital of the Knight’s Verse. I must make haste. I thank you, Steve, Spoiler of Smallclothes, I shall ensure that your valor in soiling smallclothes is told far and wide throughout the land. Ten thousand years from now, the bards will still sing tales of your accomplishments.”

“See. NPC. Told ya, dude,” Phil whispered.

The party sniggered, except for Steve who looked positively thunderous. “You guys suck. So much.”

Chris sprinted off in the direction he had indicated the glade was earlier, then turned toward its actual position when he was out of sight. He desperately wanted to call out a provocation, but it’d be even better if they waited for him to never return. Or… another thought struck him… oh yes… he was definitely doing that…

He leaned against a tree, finally letting out the great howls he’d been holding in. Then he set off to deal with some rock trolls—one mace richer. He needed to do that more often, before everyone figured out that there weren’t any NPCs here.

He swung the mace at trees as he walked, satisfied when they went down like wood-chip dominos. After a couple of blows, he stopped swinging, he didn’t want to ruin the weapon.

\\\

The rock trolls had settled back down by the time he arrived. Without any further ado, he did a flying leap and slam dunked ‘his’ mace into the nearest boulder. Shards of rock and gravel flew everywhere, and the stone split down the middle. The stone was, indeed, a cross-section of a rock troll, but when he checked his quest, he saw that it hadn’t increased.

They probably only counted as kills when they were active. So much for running back and forth, waiting for the trolls to settle down again. The rest of the trolls stirred and looked at him.

Chris charged at the closest, ducking under a clumsily telegraphed punch and smashing the mace into its paunch. Rather than splintering the creature, however, it sank slightly into the troll’s ample gut. They weren’t as hard and brittle when they weren’t in their inanimate boulder form.

He dodged the next thrown punch as the rest of the trolls began to close in on him, then a lumbering foot sent him flying. This time he kept ahold of his weapon, but he made a mental note to avoid the fists and the feet.

As he stood, something grated in his chest, sharp and stabbing, but nowhere near as bad as the hybridization surgery. A rib was probably out of place. Chris scowled, he really wanted that title, though.

He charged at the new closest rock troll, striking at its fists and feet when they flew toward him. With every strike, he jumped back, not letting the rock trolls surround him. That would be bad. If he got hemmed in, he had high odds of being turned into a meat pinata.

Soon, the trolls were all limping. As one keeled forward, Chris finally had the opportunity to bash its brains in. There wasn’t much to bash in, but he did so anyway, and was rewarded with one kill toward his quest completion.

He walloped four more in quick succession, completing his quest. He could have kept on going, but he was getting tired. He didn’t know how to fight properly with a mace, and even with his strength, the running and swinging and leaping around was extremely draining. Not to mention that he’d had to hobble the entire group of bellowing rock trolls.

He jogged farther away to regain his breath—letting the rock trolls return back to their glade—when he heard voices nearby.

“Holy s***. He was actually for real.”

“I know right, after the first half hour I thought we had been well and truly messed with. But those bellows were actual rock trolls. Do you think he can help us complete that kill quest we all have?”

Chris quickly hid the mace in a bush, then stepped out from behind the tree.

“Alas, I have returned in dejection. I failed to complete my quest. Mine enemies remain alive and the weapon of Steve, Soiler of Smallclothes has been consumed by my hated foe.”

“There he is… wait… what do you mean?”

“Alas, I have returned in dejection. I failed to complete my quest. Mine enemies remain alive and the weapon of Steve, Soiler of Smallclothes, has been consumed by my hated foe.”

“F***, I knew it, I shouldn’t have listened to you jerks.”

“Chill, chill, I’m sure he’s got some replacement heirloom to give to you. This is probably all scripted.”

“He’d better, it’s not like I can get another mace for free, you all heard the vendor.”

Chris stepped forward at that moment. “Indeed, fair adventurers. I may have failed my quest, but I have still found the greatest treasure there is to be had—”

“Yeah? Hand it over, you owe me a new mace,” Steve interrupted.

Chris stepped forward, digging his hands into his pockets, rummaging through them dramatically. When he was close enough, he pulled his hands out and enveloped Steve in a hug.

“Friendship.”

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