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The Worst Cook in Grobb

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The Worst Cook in Grobb

Post by Ronson on Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:08 pm

The Worst Cook in Grobb - Part 1

By the pen of Eylee Zephyrswell
A troll paralyzed by fear and superstition, Kruzz thrust himself upon our little band of adventurers. Easily one of the most curious of our companions, he acted as our cook, introducing us to a variety of food we would have never thought – or wanted to think of – eating. But I cannot claim that didn't keep us from starvation at least once. No one might have ever said they were happy to have him, but I doubt any, except perhaps Kaltuk, would have gone back and removed him from our party. I can say he saved my life, and I'm not the only one.


Kruzz dumped the bucket of viscera into the bubbling cauldron, watching as the long coil of an intestine floated to the surface and was tossed around by the bubbling of the stew. He snickered to himself slightly, and then turned, colliding with Ttzork, the head cook of Grobb. He rebounded off the mound of her belly and landed back against the cast iron of the pot, wincing as it singed his skin. His hand immediately went to the item at his neck – a dried monkey tail, harvested when the animal ran in front of him and was crushed by a falling boulder. He'd always regarded it as the luckiest moment of his life, and had refused to part with the charm since.
"Why don't you watch where yer goin, worm," she said to him, sneering. The other cooks all paused to peer over their cook pots or carving knives and snicker at the confrontation.
Kruzz wrung his hands and turned away, muttering, "Be a bit easier if you didn't take up quite so much space."
There was a moment of silence as all the cooks exchanged anticipatory glances, and then Kruzz felt a vicious hook knock him straight up into the air. His rise up was followed by a quick plummet into the very bubbling pot of water he had dumped the viscera in only moments before. He screamed in pain and scrambled toward the nearest rim of the pot, where Ttzork was waiting. "Are you saying it was my fault?" she roared. "Trying to pass it off on me, eh?" She shoved him down deep into the water, and the heat of it made his skin rise and pop in bubbles. He flailed in the water, struggling against letting the pain overwhelm him as he attempted to beat at her hands. Finally, she pulled him out and threw him to the ground. Every inch of him stung as dirt and grass stuck to the skin of his burns, and he wheezed in and out as she stalked up to him.
Standing nearly a head taller than Kruzz, and extending at least twice as wide in all directions, Ttzork had a hooked nose, sunken eyes, and scars running all directions along her face. Her hands and arms were almost always burned because of her profession. She was uncommonly particular about her appearance. Her hair was almost always done up with the bones of a freshly killed beast, and she tended to each wound she acquired carefully, opening and reopening it, so it would leave the most vicious scar possible. She was, to all eyes but his, considered an exceptionally lovely troll and had been sought by many as a mate. When he looked at her, he could feel nothing but a loathing unadulterated by one bit of desire.
"You just going to sit there all curled up like a snail?" she asked. He peered up at her, but all that churned inside were words that were probably going to send him back into the pot, and though they begged to come out, he kept his mouth shut. The result left something like a twisted sneer on his face, and it earned him a kick in his ribs. "Just finish filling the pot," she muttered in disgust. Ttzork turned and lumbered away, leaving Kruzz breathing deeply and trying to ignore the stares of those around him. His hands gripped the charm at his neck.
He stood slowly, his flesh ripping where it had begun to cling to the ground. Though he tried to suppress it, he yelped in pain, and the other cooks exploded with laughter. Kruzz glared at each one of them but said nothing. He went to the nearest cracked wooden meat bucket and stared down into it, but after a few moments, he looked away, frustrated. Not even the sight of fleshy pink organs all piled atop one another and dressed in blood, a sight which normally calmed him, was helping. She had humiliated him daily since he made the decision to join the cooks and prepare victuals for the trolls of Grobb, and the other cooks found her abuse funnier by the day. He hated each of them intensely, but none with such fervor as Ttzork.
Reaching into the bucket, his hands slid around the gullet of an alligator. His fingers clenched around it tightly, and as he thought of Ttzork, he squeezed harder and harder and harder, until the organ exploded, showering the bucket walls with bits of gore.
"Ttzork," he hissed, "foul, loathsome, puss-filled Ttzork. You'll regret this some day, oh yes… you will."

~~~

Kruzz had never had much in the way of good relations with his fellow trolls. Even as a young troll, he had been taunted and teased – the butt of every joke. That had continued into adulthood, and it didn't show any signs of stopping soon.
It was no mystery why they hated him: he was a coward. Kruzz stank of fear. He carried charms and refused to walk upstream and had to lay certain plant leaves on his door step at night. He'd never had any illusions about his condition in life, but that didn't absolve the others. And as they hated him, he hated them in return; so, Kruzz Skullcleaver drew further and further inward, until all that was left on the outside was a scowl and a snide remark.

~~~

A clashing sound awoke Kruzz from a dream that he fuzzily remembered involving a carving knife and a hunk of spider thigh that he somehow got the sense was not a spider thigh but rather the thigh of one of his many enemies. It was a pleasant dream, and so he decided to glare at the troll responsible for the racket.
The small stone building was shared by a number of the younger cooks without homes of their own. Though most of the rest of its occupants only muttered and turned, Kruzz sat up and turned towards the sound of a shield banging against a wall.
"Rekec?" he asked, blinking as he looked over. In the early morning light that crept through the single window of the room, Rekec was illuminated. She was a small, gaunt thing with stringy hair and large hands. Kruzz had few acquaintances that didn't want to slaughter him, she was one of the few, and not known for an uneven temper. In fact, she was belittled daily for her meekness. Kruzz glanced between her and the wall. Sure enough, a large wood shield was rocking back and forth from an apparent spin out. Further, she held a bloody knife. She looked at him wide eyed for a moment. "What've you been doing?" asked Kruzz, peering at her.
"I..." she began, "was out skinning meat for morning meal."
"Why come back here then?" he grunted.
She turned away, shrugging, and said, "I forgot something."
"I see," he said, quickly losing interest. His eyes were heavy, and he thought that if he got back to sleep quickly enough, he might catch back up to the dream. Falling back against his pillow, he began turning away. Just as he did, he caught a glimpse of something strange. Where Rekec stood, there had for a moment seemed to be a second figure, as if her shadow had leaped off the wall and stood just in front of her. But it was only a moment, and Kruzz was not one for curiosity, so in a moment, he had fallen back to sleep and forgotten all about it.

~~~

The mood at the cooking fires was peculiar that day. It was surprisingly jovial, and no one had so much as called him a name or given him a dirty look. Kruzz didn't trust it – not one bit. He glanced suspiciously at each passer and hunched over the pickled fungus caps he was cutting into thin strips. Suddenly, he felt his hackles rising as he smelled an all too familiar stench. He glanced up to find Ttzork staring down at him. He squinted up at her.
"What?" he asked, his lips curling back from his teeth.
"We got a special request," she said, pausing to glance back at the rest of the cooks, who all laughed knowingly, "monkey tail."
Kruzz narrowed his eyes and as she reached for him, he suddenly realized what was happening. Two other cooks grabbed him by the arms, and as he screamed, Ttzork ripped the charm from around his neck. He wriggled against the ground, lashing against those who held him, and watched as Ttzork cut the monkey tail to pieces with the knife he had been working with. Then, one by one, she swallowed them.
"Tasty," she said with a grin, hair sticking from the side of her mouth.
When she had finally finished the whole thing, the cooks released him. By that time, he had managed to exhaust himself with the screaming and thrashing, so he seemed still enough. But the moment they let him free, something in him clicked. He looked at Ttzork straight in the eye and then sprang to his feet. Though her nostrils flared and her mouth made an O of surprise as she stumbled back, it didn't stop what was coming. No one moved quickly enough to block him as he lunged at the stone cutting table, retrieving the knife from its surface and then tumbled on straight into Ttzork.
By the time they had pulled him off of her, she had long since stopped breathing, and the ground was soaked with blood. As the rest of the cooks gazed at him, he laughed, at first softly and then more loudly until the whole area rang with his laughter. He was still laughing as they dragged him to the prisoner's pens on the other side of Grobb.
He knew he could laugh no longer as they slammed the gate on the pen shut. His breaths came in small gasps and the whole of his chest hurt. The guards looked at him and muttered, "Nutter."
Kruzz lay down in the corner of the pen and curled up tightly. His hand went to his neck, but there was nothing there. A sense of dread washed through him, but then he remembered that Ttzork was dead, and no amount of cruel jokes played on cowardly cooks would bring her back. He chuckled softly, a chuckle all he could manage at that point, and watched as evening came to Grobb, and the sun set over the Serpent's Spine Mountains -- not noticing the alien storms that gradually filled the horizon and the massive beasts silhouetted by the cracks of sheet lightning originating from within.


The Worst Cook in Grobb - Part 2

On a recent expedition into the lair of Trakanon, a team of adventurers uncovered a satchel of ancient parchments. On those parchments were a series of writings by an otherwise unknown bard by the name of Eylee Zephyrswell. Gnomeish scolars have dated the documents to some time within the heart of the Lost Age. This, the third story to be pulled from those documents, tells the tale of the group's troll companion and the descent of dark forces down upon the village of Grobb.

Once again, Kruzz was awoken from his dreams. This time, however, there was more than just a single crash. He opened his eyes and rose, sliding up the side of the pen to a sitting position. In front of the pen, his guards lay prone. Most strange of all, he noted that the sky was awash with violent storms. In the dawn, the sky was filled with inky blackness and charges of blue and purple energy swirled powerfully. Kruzz didn't know what was happening, but he knew he had to get out of the pen. He crept along the ground and inspected the bodies of the guards. They were both dead.

"Good riddance," he muttered to himself, a giggle rising in his throat. He stuck his arms through the bars of the pen and pulled one of the bodies close. Groping across blood stained clothing, his hands finally clamped around a key. It was only once he was out of the pen that it truly struck him that in the distance, he could hear sounds of fighting. Kruzz felt every muscle in his body freeze up. He quickly scurried across the ground, tripping and falling in his panic, and made his way as quickly as he could to the shelter of a cluster of boulders. He shimmied into a gap between two of them and glowered, the muscles of his hands tensing and releasing, as he watched the scene before him. Not long after he had hidden, he watched as two trolls locked in combat knocked each other onto the ground in front of him. He shrank back further into the rocks, but also narrowed his eyes to see what was going on.

Rekec was tearing into another of their clan members, a male named Brazzt, fiercely. Though he fought back, Kruzz watched and marveled as it seemed that a second individual was fighting with her – that shadowy figure he'd seen before. Despite that, Brazzt nearly overpowered her, but then there was a hideous cry and a creature rushed toward them. His jaw dropped when it came fully into sight. Rekec stepped neatly aside as a massive black beast with pincers for arms rushed at them and snapped Brazzt in half. His torso landed against Kruzz's rock, and he had to bite his knuckle to keep from letting out a scream.

The female troll walked up to the beast, and for a moment, Kruzz was certain she would be taken out similarly, but then the two conversed in a language unlike anything he had ever heard before. Rekec's voice sounded nothing like her own. Finally, the two of them wandered off.

Kruzz was paralyzed. He didn't know whether to move or stay. There would only be so long that he could stay there without anyone finding him, but running meant very certainly passing one at some point. Fortunately, the prisoner's pens were on the outskirts of the village, and he would have a clear path away.

Finally the decision was made, since he was experiencing so many muscles spasms that he was forced to move to settle them down.
Kruzz slipped from the relative safety of the rocks and broke into a full out run away from Grobb.

~~~

He was not sure at first where he was going, but instinct drove him to Guk. He skipped through the soggy earth of Innothule Swamp in its direction. It was a well fortified location, and if there was anywhere to go to be safe, it would be there. Voices in his mind screamed other directions for him, but the loudest said Guk, and so he ran to Guk.

Suddenly, Kruzz went sprawling over a fallen log and landed face first into the mucky water of the swamp floor. Though he might have at first cursed ill fortune, it quickly proved to save his life, as shortly after he had fallen down, he heard voices behind him. Panicking, he dove deeper down and under a patch of bogweed. He held his breath as long as he was able and then drifted up slowly so that his head only emerged very slightly from those marshy reeds. He watched as a group passed a distance in front of him. If he had any question as to whether he should come out – which was questionable either way, as he was a criminal among his own people – it was cleared up when he noticed two of those large beasts stalking beside the group of trolls. Fortunately, they did not head in the direction of Guk, so when they had long since vanished from sight, he clambered out of the water and continued on toward the city, certain to thank what was no doubt the residual good luck of the monkey tail for saving his life.

Just as he paused to think how lucky he was, he heard a vicious noise behind him. One of those storms had descended down into the swamp, and it uprooted trees and grass and anything else in its path within a terrifying vortex. Even the foliage just outside of it did not go untouched. The currents of oddly colored power slashed burn lines into the trunks of trees that were lucky enough to remain rooted to the muck and charred leaves with a touch. Kruzz looked no longer. Screaming, he tore on through the swamp as quickly as he could away from the storm.

As he broke a tree line and entered the final stretch to Guk, he stopped and stared in front of him. Before the city, piles of bodies were scattered, and the ground was gored and scarred with the marks of battle. Still, it was quiet, and he had come this far. He ran to the city's entrance and ducked inside.

The halls were silent. He called out, "Hello?" There was no response. Fire in his nerves spurred him to run down the moss-covered stone hallways.
When he reached one of the large open rooms, he finally stopped. Where exactly did he think he was going? What did he expect to find? Since he began running, he had held Guk before him as a goal, and the goal kept him going. Now he was here, and there was nowhere else to go, and he certainly didn't feel safe yet, something else had to be done. He scowled at himself and settled in a broken chair to consider his options.

He had only a moment to rest and begin the process of puzzling out his situation when an ear-shattering wail erupted in the room, and one of the beasts tore its way through a side entrance, scattering stone throughout the room. Kruzz jumped to his feet and immediately began screaming and scrambling away. It was only when he reached the wall and realized there was nowhere left to go that the futile desperation of his actions hit him. Where had he thought he was going? What was there left to do but die?

The beast approached him, waving its massive pincer arms around, and he shrank further back against the wall and then ducked below a nearby stone table just as it approached. As the creature veered to follow him, it crashed into the table, smashing it to pieces. Kruzz's screams grew hollow as rubble fell all around him, and the sound of the wailing beast grew muffled and distant as the world faded to black.

~~~

Kruzz awoke as a sensation of warm energy passed through him. He gasped, inhaling air deeply as the world spun around him. Through the haze of his confusion, he heard voices, dimly.
"And now tell me why I bothered to heal this garbage?" asked a gruff voice.
"He has the best idea of what happened here," explained a calm, even voice. "You and Nurgg may have seen some of it, but he looks as though he was right in the thick of it."
"I wouldn't trust a single word that came out of a troll's mouth," said the first voice, thick with disgust, "but if that's the only way you'll have it."
"It is."

Kruzz felt himself picked up, carried, and then laid out gently. As his vision cleared, he saw a host of individuals around him, all gazing at him intently.
He scowled and looked past what appeared to be a dwarf frowning deeply at him to the face of a – barbarian of Halas? He'd seen these Halas men with their curiously pale and soft appearances only once before, and they had all been dead. Barbarians, thus, had always existed in his mind as being dead in their ideal state; while this one stood above him, quite alive, and carrying a very big sword. Kruzz disliked him immediately. In fact, he disliked all of them, and it occurred to him he should be thrashing. He cried out and whipped his arms and legs around.

"See!" said the dwarf. "I told you it was a bad idea. He's going to get us discovered!"
The barbarian quieted the dwarf and narrowed his eyes at Kruzz, staring directly into the troll's gaze. "Quiet," he said, "unless you want us all to die."

"You could go ahead and die," muttered Kruzz in the trollish language. "That would make me very happy, but I would not be so happy to die myself, so I'll be quiet." He noted as he said it that the ogre reacted, fists tightening to balls as his eyebrows darted up. Kruzz shrank back and said in his best attempt at Common, "I no want to die. I be quiet." Grudgingly, he calmed himself, and once again scanned the crowd. He saw among them a barbarian woman, an ogre man – who looked very familiar, somehow – a girl of some variety of elf, the dwarf, and finally his gaze was back to the leader. He disliked them all, though particularly the dwarf because it was obvious he hated him as well.

"What happened here?" asked the barbarian woman, brusque and to the point.
"Who is you? You tell first," said Kruzz, glaring at her, "and why you is here."
They exchanged glances and then the barbarian man once again spoke, "My name is Bayle, and these are my companions. We've come here following the storms, and the beasts. I believe you know what I am talking about."

What sarcastic confidence Kruzz had mustered drained away, and he began shaking. At the end of the table, the elven girl put a hand on his ankle. He blinked at her and hissed, but then lay back, continuing to shake fiercely.

"I take that as a yes?" asked the barbarian. Kruzz stared at each of them in turn again. The man sighed and said, "I suppose if you have nothing for us... then we will just move on." He began to turn away.
Kruzz, without thinking, spat out, "No!" He almost clamped a hand over his mouth, not believing he'd just said it.
The man raised an eyebrow and said, "You will cooperate then?"
"Yes," said Kruzz, and all of the sudden, he was overcome, thinking of the beasts and the storms, "Tell you what you want. Just save me. Please." The barbarian glanced at each of his companions, who one by one shrugged or nodded. The dwarf looked at him with an expression of extreme exasperation, but finally muttered and nodded.

"Very well," said the man, "start in the beginning."

And so Kruzz, reluctantly, started in the beginning.

And so began the time of Kruzz Skullcleaver with the Ethernauts. Can I honestly say we made the best decision that day? I believe it. Though Kruzz was neither the most heroic, nor the best intentioned of us, he did his part, and I, for one, thought of him as a redeemable character. How would our course have been different if we had never brought him into our fold? Who can say... but I'm not one to question fate --

even the fate of saving Norrath at the side of a troll.

Ronson

Posts : 654
Join date : 2010-07-24

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