A Big Lot of Little Trouble (Origin of the Finmeerian Halflings)

.:A Big Lot of Little Trouble:.

“Ahh lets see, A good tale to tell for you adventuring types. I think I’ll start with one of my own, a favourite if you will. I call it ‘A big lot of little trouble’.” The dwarf clears his throat and gets comfortable. “Well it starts with a brave party of adventurers, on their way to seek a fortune. The ‘Blades of Fury’ they called ’emselves, there was a Frostmane elf, priest of Bronwen he was, two brothers, they were human and a young dwarf warrior. Now before we start I ought to let you know this was about a hundred years ago roughly. Back when ol’ Gerrick Dragonslayer was head o’ the Legion of Battle. In fact he’d just earned his name by killing a huge White Dragon, Frostbite, they called it.

Well, anyway the young adventurers they were hired to find the creature’s lair by a young half-elf mage, he was looking for a specific magic item that it was thought the beast had added to his hoard a long time past. So they all set out for a place called ‘Finnmere’. It is a quiet settlement of halflings next to a fishing lake.

From there they could head north and start looking for Frostbite’s lair, but they were told by the halflings that it was treacherous ground and they would need a guide, and so they hired a halfling by the name of Hurgo Bramblefoot, so called because, the hair on his feet was incredibly thick! So with their Halfling guide they set out into the rocky wastes before the northern mountains. It wasn’t long before they were attacked by winged monsters that could throw evil dark fire and whose blades stung with the very evil of their being.”

“One of the brothers was badly hurt in the fight and it was only due to the magical power of Llydeas, he was the Frostmane priest, and Cethas the mage, that drove the creatures back. Bramblefoot led the weary and wounded adventurers to a set of caves. The caves were, and still are, known as the Wyrm’s Tail. It used to be a stronghold of Ember-eye elves but was invaded by creatures that lurk in the dark, orcs, goblins and worse. The many tunnels led down so far the stone was warm and that is where the fortified walls of the citadel Eyrinfersillus stand and the city behind lies in ruins. The tunnels also led up and into the mountains and it is thought may provide a route to the dragon’s lair. The adventurers rested near the entrance to the tunnels and Bramblefoot told them of a route he knew that would take them up and through the mountains to where Frostbites lair may be.

The two brothers, Halin and Parahn, prepared their armour, which would have been more of a liability on the slopes. They drew their swords and entered first, Bramblefoot came behind them carrying a torch to light the way, Llydeas had his spear ready but entered reluctantly as he wished to go over the mountains instead, Cethas called forth magical light and smiled as they made their way into the tunnels. They walked for a while until Halin stopped as a clicking sound ringed the tunnel walls, he had stepped on a pressure plate. Cethas moved forward to see what the problem was, as he was at the back and curious to know. A shaft opened beneath his feet and he slid into darkness.

Then they heard the sounds of Orc battlecrys from both sides of the tunnel. A thousand snarling voices all calling for blood…

“The sound of snarling, running Orcs filled the tunnels with echoes of death for the adventurers, Halin drew his Sword and readied his shield, Parahn unslung his bow. Bramblefoot and Llydeas however knew the odds were impossible to beat and the halfling jumped into the shaft as the first orcs came along the corridor, the dwarf followed as Parahn let fly with arrows to hold up the orcs before the brothers jumped in too. Halin was the last to emerge and landed on the rough stone floor of a cavern far beneath the earth, so far the orcs were but dim sounds in the far distance, they had not followed them. Cethas however was nowhere to be found in the chamber they had emerged in and they were worried since they had expected to find him there. Bramblefoot called for silence and as the group ceased there talking the sound of a faint, hoarse whisper could be heard around the chamber and a chill wind where there should be no wind set their spines to tingle as if a dread presence were nearby. Bramblefoot chose a tunnel he thought the wind came from, since it may lead upwards to a larger chamber. The party advanced slowly, jumping at shadows caused by their flickering torchlight. until they came at last to a chamber incredibly vast, that bore a gash across the middle where molten lava flowed and a single bridge of stone led to the wall of the lost Elven citadel.

However the adventurers could not move for the sight they had seen. The stone had been twisted and spikes grew from the walls of the citadel and on those spikes were elves, neither dead or alive but stuck for an eternity of pain, whose constant flow of blood had turned the walls red.”

The party shook in terror as the Elven forms upon the spikes spoke in unison “WHY DO YOU COME HERE, TORMENT AND DEATH AWAITS YOU.” But the adventurers knew the only way they could go was forward, and so slowly they crossed the bridge and passed under the ancient archways of the citadel. On the other side ruins and devastation met them, more Elves writhing impaled upon tall spikes of stone that had been pulled up from the ground of the cavern, their croaking pleas for help wearing down the adventuers nerves.

They eventually found the central keep of the citadel and entered it, still hoping that the mage was within. They travelled up stairs until they reached a floor where most of the walls had been knocked out. Rubble and bones littered the floor except for an unusually large metal breastplate in the middle of the floor and a gleaming silver bastard sword stuck into it. Halin went over to the sword and before Llydeas could caution otherwise he removed it. The keep shook with an unmatched fury and swarms of worms, maggots and other detestable cretures that squirm in the dark places of the world raced towards the brestplate, Halin staggered back as the swarm began to solidify into a pulsating giant of maggots and worms, 4 times the size of a man, black ichor ran across the body and envenomed talons sprouted from grotesque arms. Halin roared a battlecry, but the creature slammed its foot down and he stumbled, Parahn Ran to his brothers aid but the monstrous creature skewered him on his talons and lifted him off his feet. The monster spoke “I must thank you for releasing me, foolish ones, that I may bring terror and corruption to the world once more in the name of my mistress.” He snapped Parahns body like it was but a twig and let his twisted, bloody, lifeless body fall to the floor in front of his brother.

The gigantic monstrosity pulled back on of its giant fists ready to smash the other brother, Halin, when an arrow of fire smashed into its body, the creature, stunned, turned and saw Cathas the half-elf mage. The mage spoke clearly and loudly “Begone from this place Argonathrax, for I know your name and have the power to seal you again.” but the hideous monster laughed it grew enormous wings and lifted into the air it gurgled back in its hideous voice “You overestimate your abilities mageling, I will leave you to rot in this underground realm.” and with that it flew upwards through holes in the cavern roof.

Halin knelt beside his brother not moving or saying anything, the dwarf stood by him to honour his dead comrade. Llydeas, however, wished to question Cethas immediately. The mage explained he had moved away from the hole where he fell immediately and must have travelled a different way to the others he had found a stone tablet smashed in half written in the old tongue of the Ember-eye elves, being a scholar and a mage that had learnt the mastery of the element of fire he knew the language, and the writing on the tablet explained how the demon was brought through during a ritual that was sabotaged, he slaughtered the inhabitants and turned the citadel into what it is now, so that he could summon demonic soldiers and wage war with whatever he could find.

 

However, the elven hero, Ferianor, was away with some of his soldiers at the time fighting orcs. When he returned he engaged in battle with the demon, but even he was no match for it. The demon lifted him in his hands ready to crush the life from the elf, and when he squeezed, the elves wounds bled more and his own blood ran down his blade, the dying elf saw it glow with the purifying fire of his own heart’s blood and with the last of his strength plunged the sword into the demons chest. It had been sealed.

Cethas guessed correctly that the sword had been removed when he heard the beast roar across the city and he ran as fast as he could to get there. Llydeas was satisfied with the answer and glad to be reunited with the mage. Cethas then added that now that the demon was free he had headed to the surface and might destroy much of the land if they did not do something.

Halin suddenly spoke “what could we possibly do to stop it?”

Cethas replies to Halin “We must find Frostbites lair, the dragon must have had many magical items within its hoard.” The adventurers buried Parahn’s body under some rubble and made haste through the underground ruins. They reached some tunnels on the other side of the ruined citadel and pressed on using all the halfling’s and dwarf’s skills at underground navigation.

The party stopped abruptly and Cethas was about to speak when Bramblefoot made signs to be quiet and listen, sure enough they heard and clicking sound and a noise as if something scraped along the rock, suddenly dark shapes screeched as they dropped to the floor of the tunnel, the adventurers had never seen anything like it before, insectoid creatures with limbs ending in barbed hooks. Halin and the dwarf’s weapons bounced of the chitinous carapaces of the chittering creatures but Llydeas thrust his spear under the carapace of the creature fighting him, piercing its weak body underneath. Bramblefoot dodged the creatures until one snagged the back of his shirt it lifted him up to its gaping jaws but the halfling grabbed a bottle from his pouch and flung it into the creatures waiting maw, there was a gulp as the creature swallowed the bottle before the explosion blew the creature up from the inside out. surprised at this the other creatures fled back into the darkness of the tunnels. The weary adventuers removed the slimey mess that had covered them and they prepared to continue.

The tunnels soon sloped upwards and a cold wind alerted the adventurers they would appear high in the mountains. They finally reached sunlight and a cave mouth on the side of a snow-capped mountain. However they saw no trace of the demon or Frostbites lair. They did spot a shack on the lower slopes, and smoke was coming from the chimney.

The adventurers climbed down the cold slope towards the shack wondering all the while who would live out here. Halin knocked on the door. A deep voice answered “Who is it? Silvermoon is it you?” Halin answered “No, we a travellers lost in the mountains, we seek shelter and a guide.” The door swung open and a large troll stood in its frame, he had long, silver-grey hair and a craggy face covered with a strip of cloth wrapped over his eyes. His booming voice rose above the wind “Then enter for you have found both.”

The adventurers were taken aback by the appearance of the troll but all silently entered the warmth and shelter of the cabin. After a while Halin spoke “You said there would be a guide.” the troll took a deep breath “I am a guide.” but Halin quickly replied “But you are…” “Blind.” boomed the troll “Yes I am, but I lost my sight on these peaks, I have lived here all my life and know them like the back of my hand, if you plan to go further into the mountains you will need a guide or you will surely perish and all I ask is that you take me to my wifes grave when you have finished whatever quest you are on.” The adventurers thought for a bit but they all agreed that they needed someone that knew the mountains or they would be lost and die from the cold, they told their new guide about the dragons lair and he said he knew where it was but to be on their guard for Frostbite had been an old and powerful dragon and may have had lesser minions guarding his lair.

After a night of rest they group set out with supplies and mountain gear, furs lent them by their troll guide. The troll was as good as his word and he could describe the harsh land to its very last detail. Eventually the adventurers saw a large cave opening between twin frozen peaks that could only be Frostbites lair from their position they could see some shaggy haired, northern orc guards, outfitted with armour and spears. Cethas spoke “If orcs are still there, they must still have some leader that holds them together.” The adventurers made a plan and the guards were quickly dispatched using Cethas’ magic and the warriors skills to quickly knock the guards into unconciousness. As the party bravely entered the lair a rumbling noise made them come to a sudden halt and a young white dragon reared up from its hiding place.

“Who dares disturb Frostfang, get of Frostbite!!!”

Halin raised his sword to block the dragon’s claws, Bramblefoot ducked in and out using his dagger to great skill although little effect and the dwarf slashed at the dragon with his axe, Cethas found still more reserves of magic to battle the dragon. Llydeas, however, pushed back their blind troll guide, the troll muttered confused “Frostbite is really dead, I thought them mere stories.” Llydeas turned back to the fight as the dragon roared and knocked the young dwarf aside, Halin was bleeding in several places too. The troll behind him suddenly said “Will you be my eyes?” Llydeas turned back to him and saw the troll had taken an enormous bow, previously wrapped in blankets on his pack, and nocked an arrow. Llydeas quickly told him where to aim to strike the creatures heart, The arrow flew home and the dragon roared in pain, Halin rolled aside from its final death blow and Cethas fainted from his exertions. Llydeas ran to his fallen companions aid and summoned his powers of healing. The troll stood and held his bow “You are avenged my love, Frostbite and his evil progeny are slain. Thunderbow thanks you brave adventurers for letting me travel to my wifes final resting place.” The old troll sat in silence.

When Cethas recovered, Llydeas had patched up the others injuries as much as he could. The mage stood weakly and walked to the dragons hoard supporting himself on his staff, He surveyed the wide array of riches and Halin observed “We could all be kings with this treasure!!!” But Cethas wanted only one thing, the books of Hezzarrim, spellbooks of an ancient and powerful suntop elf wizard.

Halin looked sadly at the piles of riches, for he knew he could not take it all but he spotted armour of an old style, Llydeas inspected it and said it had powerful protective magic imbued on it, the brave warrior heartily took it. The dwarf found an axe marked with the runes of his people called ‘Smite’ and Llydeas a spear marked by his Goddess. The Halfling was happy to leave magic to wizards and thought he should just find a nice memento, he looked down at his feet in thought and saw a small amulet, or was it a locket it seemed to open but the halfling could not force it, never mind a nice trinket and a puzzle for when he got home.

With thoughts of home Bramblefoot said “Are we going to stop the demon now? and if so how do we find it?” Cethas said the spellbooks he found taught spells for locating demons and teleportation, but he would need time to study them. The adventurers sat for one final night around their fire before hearing the mages ominous voice tell w hat the Halfling feared. “The demon moved down from the mountains and has slaughtered all in his path, his growing army of evil will come next to…. Finnmere!”

The Bard finishes his drink and meal and leans back ready to finish his tale and get down to some serious drinking.

“The brave adventurers have teleported to just outside the halfling town of Finnmere and the sounds of battle are thick in the air. Halfling folk and children run scattered in all directions from burning buildings and the arch demon and his cohorts. The halfling sheriff and his deputies were putting up a brave fight but there is little they can do. Halin draws up the ancient elven hero’s silver sword and launches into combat against the demons, the young dwarf hefts his mighty magical axe, and too attacks the demons. Llydeas offers a prayer to Bronwyn before entering combat and Cethas readies his magic to blast the demons from afar. The halfling scout, Bramblefoot, knows there is little he can do as the demons will only fall to magical weapons or spells. He watches as his town burns.

Halin and the dwarf cleave the way through to the Arch demon. He laughs at their attempts to fell him and combat is joined. Halin fights with fury at the monster that killed his brother. The demon pushes back Halin and his claws slash at the Dwarf, who is thrown back many feet and lies unconcious and bleeding from a head wound. Halin re-enters the fight ignoring his wounds, he strikes many blows but the demon is too strong he grabs the warrior and tears his arm from his body and throws him to the ground. Broken and bloody Halin sees the demon lift a giant foot ready to crush him.

Bramblefoot watches the fight in despair, Cethas and Llydeas are too busy fighting the demons minions to save Halin. The brave halfling knows he must try to save his friends. As he runs the amulet he picked up before falls out of his pocket, it springs open and a wave of magical energy flows out of it. Bramblefoot throws his dagger at the demons raised foot, and a magical sheen shines from the blade as the magical wave passes over it. The dagger buries itself deep in the demons foot and the monster roars in pain and moves back into the town. “YOU WILL ALL DIE PAINFUL AND LONG DEATHS AT MY HANDS YOU PUNY BEINGS CANNOT DEFEAT ME.” The demon roars.

The halflings all stop, they see the magical sheen appear on any weapons they hold. They see the the demons destroy all they have worked for, kill their friends and burn their town. The halflings turn, they grab their weapons, their eyes glaze over and their mouths twist into a snarl. As a wave the Halflings charge the demons, the unbounded fury and strength of the berzerker instilled in every one of them. The demons didn’t know what hit them. Bramblefoot grabbed the silver elven longsword by the fallen Halin, and with his berzerker strength , wielding a sword twice his size, launched a frenzied assault on the surprised Arch demon. The sword sliced stright through the demons left hand and it roared with pain, and again through his side. The demon stepped back only to see himself surrounded by the berzerked Halflings.”

“Once I had recovered from my wounds, well all but this one.” the bard points towards his eyepatch “I helped the halflings rebuild the town. So if you ever go to finnmere or meet a halfling from that town remember this tale and know that size isn’t everything.”