Stove had had enough. This crew had managed to fall into every trap that had been laid before them. As Egil ran to the Golden Cup in the middle of the bridge, Stove gathered himself and charged forward. He had a brief glimpse of Darkon and Graphen with mouths agape. As Egil bent down to retrieve the cup, Stove hit him squarely on the backside. Egil was propelled through the air and bouncing off the low parapet of the bridge, ricocheted and fell full length into a puddle of decaying vegetation. Egil didn't even have time to voice objections when a deep voice asked
"Who's, disturbing my rest now?"
A large scaly green hand looped over the parapet and was followed by a hideous bald green head. Graphen and Darkon ran for their shields and weapons. Egil still reeling from his sudden flight and unexpected landing in sludge, tried to get up, slipped and fell on his face again. The arm and head were followed by a body and legs. Despite its bulk the green thing moved lithely and sprang up onto the bridge.
"Hmmm..", it said," at least these puny beings are not thieves, But are they good to eat?"
"No , " said Darkon,"' neither puny nor good to eat. In fact, we are mighty fighters. Only yesterday we confronted the Red Horsemen and they ran off."
Darkon knew he was being economical with the truth but he didn't fancy fighting this green monster that stood almost 3 metres tall. While it was talking it meant it wasn't trying to do them injury.
"Hmmm," said the creature, "Mighty warriors, eh? What's that one doing scrabbling in the puddle then? Heroes don't scrabble, they move with poise and purpose."
Darkon detected he hesitancy and sought to keep the advantage. He had been told that intelligence was usually inversely proportionate to size. This probably meant that the green monster was a total thicky and he'd have no problem outwitting him.
"He is moving with purpose" I replied Dark on , " he was looking for some slugs for a sloth spell. He was just momentarily surprised by your appearance. You must admit you don't look exactly friendly."
"Ahh," said the monster, “You wanted something prettier to surprise you? As ever you stupid heroes only judge the book by the cover. You don't realise I'm a construction engineer and have been travelling around improving the general infrastructure of this area. I've built, bridges, aqueducts, storm drains, drained marshes and rebuilt old Granny Mac's front porch! That took some doing.”
"That’s an impressive list," said Darken playing for time. That fool who had the Intelligence-Size ratio theory was going to get a piece of his mind. "Well, I see this has been a huge misunderstanding. We seem to have escalated hostilities without property introducing ourselves. Perhaps we should discuss this with a civilised drink and a guarantee of a truce?."
"Just because I'm a University educated Troll doesn't mean I don't like tearing humans limb from limb and toasting them on a spit while they are still alive," said the Troll with a smirk.
"Oh," said Darkon ," I see. Is there any agreement we could come to that doesn’t finish with one or all of us ending up limbless and on a spit?"
"No," said the Troll,"l don't think there is."
Darkon and Graphen looked at each other. Egil had managed to get to his knees but hadn't dared move in case he invoked the ire of the Troll. He did manage to slip his rather deathly at seax from its sheath and hide it under his body.
'Bloody hell' thought Darkon,'why do I have to meet the only intellectual Troy on the planet? Why couldn't it have been one of the dumb ones?'
Egil attempted to move quickly, jumping to his feet to stab the troll from behind. However, the Troll was quicker and stood on Egil's head pushing him face down into a mushy pile of rotting leaves and leftover rain water. Egil gasped and involuntarily took in leaves and water making it incredibly difficult to breath. Darkon hefted his sword and Graphen went into a couch behind his shield with his spear advanced.
"Well now," said the Troll, "it’s obvious that you're ethnically profiling me and assuming became I'm a troll that I want to eat you."
"You did say that," answered Darkon
"Yes I did" replied the Troll , " but it was a joke to see how you'd respond and I must say you didn't disappoint me. You see, I'm looking for some humans who could perhaps help with a problem I have that all of you have failed so far."
"Oh" sad Darken and Graphen together. Both were very confused by the turn of events. Egil hadn't time to be confused, he was too busy just trying to breath.
"What would you like us to do for you if you don't want to eat us?" asked Graphen , " and just in case you hadn't noticed our friend seems to be suffocating!
"Oh yes, sorry old boy" the troll said removing his foot from Egil’s head. "I was never going to eat you and anyways l'm a vegetarian."
This definitely confused our intrepid trio. An intellectual, vegetarian Troll. Must be a first. The Troll picked up Egil, thumped him on the back to remove stuck leaves in his windpipe and dusted him down.
"There you go, right as rain. Well except for the moss stains on your tunic. Ok, off you go lads. You're not the ones I'm looking for."
"But we can help you," said Darkon
The Troll made several passes in front of their eyes with his hand and repeated," you're not the people I'm looking for."
"We're not the people you're looking for,” the trio said in unison.
They were unsure how they got there, but the next thing they knew was they had left the bridge behind and moved on several kilometres.
'Ahh' thought Stove "the famous old Troll mind trick. I’d heard of it never seen it done until now."