Taelren's Journal Entry #1: Prox's Fall

By all the gods, am I glad to be alive! Normally I am not the sort of man that one would find writing a journal, being more given to shaping the future than to recording the past. Yet, after such travails as I have faced this day, I find myself craving some permanent reminder of the horrors I have faced, the wisdom I have gained, and the trials that I have overcome. Especially since there is no guarantee that my own particular breed of luck, wit, and willpower will be enough to pull me out of my next scrape. The reaper hounds me, dogging my heels with boundless endurance and mindless determination; only by the most daring acts of brilliant madness have I managed to keep one step ahead of him. I am getting ahead of myself, however. Perhaps I'd better start at the beginning.

I, Taelren, having completed the rite of golem-forging marking me as a full-fledged alchemist, decided today that I would explore the Trollmire, a foul place to the north-east of the town of Derth. As my golem servant, Kraal, cleared a path for me through the thick undergrowth, I heard the chittering of rats and the hissing of snakes. I was confident in my training and in Kraal however, and pressed on boldly. Between his massive axe and my alchemical bombs, the beasts of the Trollmire were kept at bay, though there was one moment of concern when we were set upon by a pack of six wolves at once. Kraal never slowed nor tired, hewing great grey bodies in half as casually as a farmer reaping wheat, seemingly ignoring the flames that licked him as I tossed an explosive firebomb into the midst of the fray.

It came to me in that moment how deeply I depended upon Kraal. I was powerful, yes, but I knew nothing of the combat arts, and my skills took time to ply. An alchemist without his golem was like unto a warrior without his armor; he might yet win a battle but even if he did, it would be at much greater risk of injury or death. Within moments, Kraal had slain the last of the wolves, and we pressed on. Scraps of notes that I found scattered throughout the muck hinted at the presence of trolls and treasure, and it was not overlong before I encountered both. A small pack of stone trolls yielded me new armor and a weapon for Kraal, plus many lesser iron objects which I quickly transmuted into gems for use in crafting alchemical bombs.

Suddenly, the normal heavy sound of Kraal's footsteps ahead of me was utterly drowned out by a loud thudding sound, followed by a thunderous crunch. My jaw dropped as I staggered backward, watching Kraal's limp body hurtle past my head as I dove for cover. Something had just knocked him aside as casually as I might swat a fly, and my cursory examination as he slammed into the ground made it obvious that he was badly hurt. With the mindless devotion all golems share, however, he picked himself up and charged around the copse of trees which blocked my view again, and I could clearly hear the sounds of savage battle up ahead. Against my better judgement, I plowed through the trees, feeling bark scrapemy flesh and tear my robes as I struggled to reach Kraal and discover what was happening.

It was then that I saw him; a troll that dwarfed any that we had encountered prior; a massive behemoth with skin like stone and a fierce countenance that struck terror into my heart. "Prox smash," it snarled, lunging toward Kraal again. I readied a bomb to hurl at the mighty beast, but it was too late; with one swing of the massive club it carried, it felled Kraal with a howl of victory. I stared, numb, as I watched my companion collapse in a lifeless heap. For this entire journey, he had been my sword and shield; now he was dead, and I was helpless to stop the monster that had lain him low. I ran backwards, tossing bombs behind me to slow Prox's pursuit as I went, and eventually made it to a safe place where I could perform a ritual that would revive Kraal.

Slowly, mud from the ground shaped itself into the familiar form of my friend. Breathing life into it, I watched as it's eyes opened, and I saw there the light of blind love and loyalty that I always associated with Kraal. "Come on, you great lug," I said affectionately, a feral light of rage burning in my own gaze. "Let's go kill the bastard." Making our way slowly through the forest towards the place where we could distantly hear the thunder of Prox's footsteps, we got to a spot where I could see him, but he couldn't see me. Lobbing another firebomb at his feet, I commanded Kraal to charge him. This time, with the element of surprise on our side, things went much better. I watched as the shielding rune that I had installed in Kraal when I made him snapped a force field up around him, and his axe began to take big chunks out of Prox's burning flesh.

The massive troll tried to rally, but this time, fury and surprise were on our side, and within just a minute, the mighty Prox tumbled to the earth, a smoldering, blood-spattered ruin. The gigantic club it had wielded fell from it's grasp, along with a bag it had worn at it's belt. Moving forward, I glanced at the club. While it was clearly to big for even Kraal to wield it effectively, I knew that my companion would one day soon have the strength to make a devastating weapon out of it, and so I commanded him to carry it as I began to search through the bag. I found there a phial of some strange elixir that gave off light more radiant than the best-made lantern, and silken robes that thrummed with arcane energy. I slipped the robes on, feeling the magic of them encase me. In the bag, I also found another note, telling of even greater treasures that lay beyond, guarded by a troll whose ferocity and power outstripped even Prox. I knew that we were not yet ready to face such a challenge, so Kraal followed me back to Derth, where I intended to rest and resupply before bracing this new challenge.

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