CONTEXT/RATIONALE: And so, to business. The first episode of Troll Thing is an opportunity to put the Orkady brothers together, investigate the chthonic hallows and FIGHT!!! I was hoping to shift the tone back towards something more serious (well, as serious as it gets with trollish cockney gangsters), reward Nick for his patience during the Dragonfall plotline with some centre-stage business and advance the Arthurian plot arc a bit more. Did I succeed? Well….
During the night, Gawaine goes to investigate the Ettinthrone and Jotunaxe. Using Primal, he paints runes of blood on the rock and reads the letters that form in answer to his questions:
Q: Who is the king?
A: The bravest. Fatherless and unmothered.
Q: Where are the other hallows?
A: In dreams of water.
Q: What should I do?
Q: What must I do to be king?
Q: Is the king a troll?
A: The true king has the soul of a troll.
Gawaine ponders these and hopes his divination was unseen by Yorick Brandworthy nearby.
In the morning, King Lot announces the opening of Troll Thing and the first of the Trials – the Tourney. Every contender will compete along with a squire and no weapons. The entirety of Bedegraine will be the battlefield and the Mists will ensure the combat goes on without mortal interference.
Lot organises a family meeting – also attended, disconcertingly, by Queen Morgause – and proposes the Orkadies act together in the tourney. Agravaine is in favour, Gatheris and Gareth are uncertain. Gawaine resists his father’s overture and Lot mocks him by producing a mouldy teddy bear he claims Gawaine doted on as a child. Gawaine declines and walks out, believing his true loyalty must be to Thora.
Gawaine briefs Thora to be his squire and wassails her the gift of Remembrance, binding it with a dream-oath until the tourney is won. Fergus Ironsides won’t be at the tourney in person but he gives Thora a pair of sunglasses and uses Soothsay to scry through them, using his power of hex for her benefit at a distance.
Dodinel the Savage meets up with Korrigan Croesan who seems to have resolved her sexual jealousy. He agrees to help her report on the tourney. Since they intend to go through the Mists with the other contestants, they decide that in order to spiritually bond before the task, the only sensible thing to do is have sex. For the rest of the day.
At sunset, the trolls gather at the stone circle on Hilly Fields. Each pair of contestants will pass between the stones into the Mists, to find themselves somewhere in Bedegraine, without weapons but near to an opponent. The contestants size each other up:
- King Lot’s squire is a dangerous Russian mafia enforcer
- Sir Agravaine is accompanied by a hip young computer hacker with a portable rig
- Hengist Jute has a svelte young Blood Doll as his squire
- Bors has recruited Benjamin Legba, the mystic cabbie
- Uriens of Gorre has a Rumanian henchman called Borgo with a metal plate in his head
- Enid the Silent has her talking eagle Velgr
- Redhilda has a young urban druidess as her squire
- Among the others, King Carados of Escoce has arrived with a feral looking werewolf in a tracksuit
Gawaine and Thora find themselves on another hilltop overlooking London, beneath a big oak tree. Thora calls on her new Remembrance and identifies this as the Honour Oak on One Tree Hill, a seat of royalty. She unearths for Gawaine a Treasure once given to Queen Elizabeth I, the mystic Spyglass of Roanoke. She also reveals the Trod running to Surluse and the chimerical gun emplacement. Gawaine uses the spyglass to identify where they can find his brother Gareth – over at Lewisham Police Station. They set off through Ladywell and hide from the marauding Tall Cei and his burning axe. They creep into Ladywell Station to visit the mystical well there and offer it something they treasure. Gawaine offers the teddy bear his father gave him and draws out a chimerical spear that will help him in this Tourney but when Thora offers the nymph of the well a photo of her dead father the well explodes, yielding up the Shield Pentacle, another of the Solar Hallows sought by Gawaine.
Dodinel and Korrigan find themselves in a more threatening environment, an old Millwall Supporters Club near the Old Den with the fans about to riot after their team’s frustrating draw. Dodinel avoids the blows and Korrigan uses Chicanery to get them out unharmed. In the car park they witness a duel between Agravaine and Carados. Carados has armed himself with exploding cans of McEwans Export – the legendary “red grenades” – which he uses to defeat Agravaine with ease. Korrigan backs him to be her favourite. They interview Carados and follow him further to a showdown in St Johns with Uriens, where Carados’ werewolf squire proves decisive and hospitalises the old king. Carados visits the Ladywell Unit to see if any other chimerically-dead Fae have been reported and news of a disturbance guides him to Lewisham Police Station, with Dodinel and Korrigan following.
Gawaine arrives at the Police Station to find a wild night in progress – produced by the trolls’ Tourney and the effects of the Mists. Gareth is in one of the cells being seen by a lawyer. Gawaine is prepared to wait until Thora realises one of the complaining civilians is the victim of a vampire attack. They realise the “lawyer” seeing Gareth is Hengist Jute and his Blood Doll squire has recruited one of her vampire masters to help. They wind up the vampire’s victim util he creates a major disturbance then use the distraction to get into the offices where Jute is assaulting Gareth. They find the young troll nearly dead and Gawaine attacks Jute with his spear while Thora pins down the Blood Doll. Gawaine defeats Jute but does not deliver the killing blow, showing mercy instead. Suddenly, he is attacked by Jute’s vampire ally whose supernatural Presence incapacitates everyone until the former-victim, half-insane, bursts into the room and leaps on his undead attacker, followed by a crowd of police officers with truncheons. Jute dismisses the police and makes peace with the battered vampire. On the way out, they encounter King Carados who challenges Gawaine to duel in the car park behind the station.
Korrigan and Thora climb on a truck to watch the duel but Dodinel breaks his neutrality to try to support Gawaine with his Wayfare cantrips. Using the Spyglass they spot where the werewolf minion is hiding and Gareth goes to intercept him. Carados arrives armed with his deadly ‘red grenades’ and uses his Nightmare Art to disarm Gawaine, making him see his own spear as a severed baby’s arm. Gawaine in turn disarms Carados, by using the Torque Art to insist on hand-to-hand combat, no ranged weapons. The battle is brutal but, even supported by Torque, Gawaine finds he is no match for Carados’ relentless strength and stamina. The Pentacle Shield converts the punishing wounds to Bedlam so Gawaine hits on an unusual challenge: if he can incapacitate Gawaine in a single unresisted blow, he will win, otherwise Carados must submit to Gawaine. Goaded by Thora and Dodinel’s taunts and Fergus’ clairvoyant use of the Soothsay Art, Carados agrees and delivers a blow that spins Gawaine into First Threshold Bedlam but does not floor him. Realising his defeat, the unscrupulous Carados seizes the disorientated Gawaine and snaps his neck!
Carados exults over the fallen Gawaine while the onlookers curse and weep. Hengist Jute steps out of the shadows with an origami figurine of the evil troll, crushes it and snaps Carados’ body out of shape with a Holly Strike. Considering his debt to Gawaine paid, he vanishes.
Thora leaps from the van and runs to Gawaine’s body. Standing back, she shouts at him through her tears and commands him to get up and serve her. Her third Faerie Gift manifests, Casgadh Fala the healing touch. Gawaine is revived and climbs to his knees before her.
In the morning, back at Lot’s Freehold, the trolls watch highlights of the Tourney on big screens set up by Korrigan and Yorick with images from the Mists being replayed.
- Third place goes to Redhilda who defeats the rabid Cei Hir with the help of Bors of Ganis
- Second place goes to King Lot who defeats the valiant Enid the Silent
- First place goes, it seems, to Carados when the Dreaming shows his duel with Gawaine, but when the doors open it is Gawaine who enters, recovered, and the trolls applaud his bravery and express amazement that he survived a brush with death.
The first of the Troll Trials is over.