Session/Game: Conan #6 Date: 5/30/04
Episode 6, "Troll Queen's Consort"
The other characters also had some hidden agendas in this adventure. Conrad was tasked by a Vanir named Oduner with finding out more about Vlad in exchange for some coins. Turpin had already started to undermine the Bandit-King’s situation by convincing Brindle the Bossonian archer to follow him rather than Vlad.
Limburger finds the artifact. Vlad glimpses the item and tries to steal it back. The bandit-king orders Kali to attack Limburger. The mute South Islander wounds the thief with his greatsword. Limburger is knocked to the ground by the force of the blow. The fall is actually a ruse. The thief has actually planted a concealed hole in the ground and managed to sneak the item into it while pretending to reel from Kali’s blow. Limburger escapes into the forest.
The battle is over quickly. There are no casualties in the bandit group because the Turanian guards were caught unaware. The heroes realize that they have stolen a whole boatload of goods that are only good to a sorcerer. Hundreds of glass jars hold preserved exotic animals or miscellaneous organs. Powders, poultices, and potions cram the carts. Three particular artifacts catch the bandits’ eye, however. A chunk of rock from a column etched with hieroglyphics, a covered bowl etched with ancient writing in gold, and a tall bottle with a stopper that holds some sort of viscous black liquid.
Vlad sends Kali and some flunkies to bring Limburger out of the forest. The Zamorian comes willingly, but the item is not on him. Vlad sends more flunkies into the forest, and they return with a rock that Limburger had hidden in a hole.
The party decides what to do with the caravan full of goods that are only valuable to sorcerers. Vlad suggests a fence that he knows of named “Smiling Jack”. Vlad tells the party that “Smiling Jack” would give a great price for the magical artifacts.
The heroes decide to collect what really look valuable (the hard goods), and burn the rest. Several of the carts burn most unnaturally fast. They return to the town of Aramis in Argos. Vlad and his band have set up a small bandit fort in a forgotten watchtower near there. The bandits are local fixtures, and the people don’t ask them many questions as long as their money is good.
The Village of Aramis, Argos
Turpin takes the Hyborean contingent of the bandit squad drinking. Many alcoholic beverages are consumed, and Abel drunkenly declares himself the new bandit king. Turpin convinces the bandits that Kali is an arrogant foreigner and should be eliminated.
Limburger visits with his new patron Renudo. The sorcerer gives Limburger a decoy artifact. The fake has little resemblance to the actual artifact. Rather than being encased in stone, the fake artifact looks as though it is a coffin for a child. Renudo asks Limburger to make sure Vlad can get the artifact, but not to make it too obvious. Renudo thanks the thief by giving him a black iron collar with a padlock in the back to wear. Renudo promises that along with “some other enchantments that allow me to know where you are”, the collar will allow the thief to escape blows that would kill a normal man. The sorcerer also alerts Limburger to the fact that someone who has been hired to watch the thief waits outside. Renudo lets Limburger know that he has taken care of this problem.
Conrad visits Oduner and tells the Vanir what he knows. Oduner shakes his head. “You know nothing. Come back when you have some real information for me.” Conrad leaves, confused about the entire meeting.
Vlad gives notice that the rendezvous for “Smiling Jack” is on a an island of mists in the Western Ocean. The bandit group makes ready for a quick sea voyage to reach the island of their meeting.
The Western Ocean
The Isle of Mists
As the other bandits inspect the carnage, Vlad bribes Harold with one hundred pieces of silver to take the artifacts and leave the bandit group with him. Vlad and Edgar look to escape to the ship. However, when they reach the shore they realize that the boat is missing. Vlad and Edgar flee into the island’s forest.
With their escape cut off by the loss of their ship, the group starts marching. Two great humanoid beasts attack them. These beings stand on two legs as a man, but their slimy scales that cover their tremendous muscled arms, and their glowering, slitted eyes give them away as hell spawn. Greybeard flees into the mist out of fear, never to be seen again. The bandits call the beasts “trolls” after the mythical denizens of the Nordheimers’ realm. The trolls have an amazing regenerative capacity. Fire makes them heal faster. The groups eventually incapacitates the scaly beasts, but are forced to leave the bodies to regenerate where they lay and keep moving toward the center of the misty island. Crucio and Dargafi are slain in the fight.
Vlad begins preparations to summon the outsider in the artifact. He knocks Edgar unconscious with a sneak attack and ties him to a tree with the harness from his armor. Vlad begins the slow, agonizing process of torturing Vlad to death. Each cut of Vlad’s knife is not serious enough to slay the Hyborean, but after two hours Edgar bleeds to death, empowering the diabolic sorcerer. Vlad begins to chant. The ritual for summoning is over an hour. As Vlad’s chant builds into a frenzy, he reaches for the coffin and cracks it open. Vlad is crushed to realize he has been duped. Rather than the demon he expected to see, all that the coffin contains is the corpse of a starved rat. Limburger was given this fake artifact by Renudo in hopes of leading the bandit-king astray. Vlad is red with anger. He leaves the site of his failed summoning.
Vlad stumbles on an obelisk that explains the history of this strange island. Hieroglyphics in the gray marble explain that the misty island is populated by these demons every 88 years. The male demons are able to regenerate from any blow or harm, except by that made by a female. In this way, the demon queen controls her brood and entreats them to go forth and bring her a mate. Once the demon queen has bestowed her kiss on a mortal she implants her seed within him and the demons leave the island. The obelisk is unclear about what happens to the poor man who ends up taking the troll queen’s seed.
Elsewhere, the bandits camps for the night. Turpin is named the new bandit leader after Abel realizes that he makes a very poor “bandit king” indeed. Through the night, a woman named Mysha infiltrates the camp. She insists that she was a slave of the forty-five archers of “Smiling Jack”, but that she managed to escape in the confusion. She asks to stay with the group. After Brindle takes some potshots at her, the group gets him to cool it and the woman is grudgingly accepted. She tells the group that another boat is expected to pick up the forty-five borderers in three days.
Next morning more trolls attack the group. They appear in twos, teeth bared, slobbering at their fanged mouths. They grip crude clubs in their hands, and their slimy, scaly skin glistens from the early morning light that filters through the mist. They advance slowly despite the withering arrow fire. Two of them fall, only to get up soon after. Eventually, the seven cruel trolls are on the bandit group and the battle is joined. Conrad stands bravely in the middle, trading blow for blow with the trolls. Brindle and Edgar continue to shoot at the trolls from up in the trees. Limburger tries to position himself to sneak attack the trolls as they engage Conrad and Abel. Turpin continues to loose arrows at the degenerate beasts. Just then, a trolling hunting beast appears on the flank of the bandits, forcing Jason, Indigo, and Frederick to swoon. Abel and Conrad eventually fall, and the slimy trolls take to eating the helpless bandits who swooned. Brindle and Edgar are eventually knocked out of their trees and slain, but not before Edgar jumps from one tree onto the back of one of the glistening trolls driving a crossbow bolt into its spine. In a bold move, Turpin jumps the river to reach Limburger and finish off a troll that was just about to slay Conrad. Conrad, Turpin, and Limburger barely manage to escape with their lives.
The three decide to make their way to the ruins where they hope to find and kill the source of these monsters. As the ruins approached, the three companions fight back their fears of the unknown again. In the center of the ruins is a half woman-half snake with six arms. Each arm holds a wickedly sharp weapon, and she calls to the group with a seductive voice in a diabolic language. This is the troll queen, beckoning the three mortals to approach her and receive her seed.
There they also find a champion troll, charged with defending the troll queen, as well as the sorcerer Vlad, hiding nearby. Limburger manages to spot the bandit king, and Conrad charges the villain. Vlad hypnotized Conrad, asking him to “kiss the woman”. Conrad is sucked into the sorcerer’s sway and starts walking slowly up to the waiting arms of the troll queen. Turpin and Limburger flanked the troll champion in order to finally incapacitate it. Vlad hurled demon fire at the two heroes, re-invigorating the champion and inflicting nasty burns on Limburger. Only Limburger’s life-giving collar provided by Renudo as thanks for his services keeps the Zamorian alive.
While Limburger and Turpin did their best to deal with Vlad and the troll champion, Conrad walked into the ruins and kissed the troll queen. Vlad escaped into the mists.
Heroes find their ship bobbing without a crew. They decide to burn and scuttle their own ship. Instead they wait for Vlad’s ride to arrive to hijack that ship. They are so angry with the sorcerer they want to deny him any means of escape from the misty island. Heroes lay in wait for the return ship. The nine archer bandits see Mysha, and shoot her dead mercilessly. The archers disembark. Conrad runs forward and cuts all the Zingarian archers to shreds. Vlad is nowhere to be found near the escape point. With no hope of seeing Vlad again, the heroes’ swallow their vengance and escape leaving Vlad stranded on the misty island.