Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 30th, 7 pm.
We’ve stumbled across a town – bigger than most we’ve seen, with infrastructure that implies some level of stability. It’s seen better days, but with the Old Masters bombing anyone who doesn’t submit, that’s a point in its favor, in my books. I’ve called a stop for the day. We’re far enough out that I don’t suspect we’ll be challenged by the city’s guards, but close enough that we’ll be able to run for whatever protection they can provide if we get jumped. The wagons need repairs, and we don’t have the parts to fix them anymore, so we’ll have to deal with the whole ‘introducing a caravan of Trolls to a city’ thing in any case, but I’m hoping to do it by daylight, when it’s clear we’re not trying to sneak in. I wonder what kind of bribes these guards will ask for…
It’s not like we have much time left anyway. I can feel Nexxus trembling from that abomination in the mountains.
Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 31st, 8 am.
The guards weren’t as aggressive as I expected, and they were more… diverse than I’ve seen before. Indeed, it seemed many of them were career mercenaries rather than guards, though a local sheriff was represented in their ranks. Once we established that we meant no harm and had much to offer in the way of rebuilding and repairs, they accepted us. Certainly a colorful group, but genial enough, and they had supplies of processed elyrium like I’ve rarely seen. They purchased many of the supplies we’ve scavenged along the road and didn’t drive a particularly hard bargain, which leads me to believe money comes swiftly to them, which further makes me think they’ve no qualms about killing and looting anyone that crosses them. I’d prefer to stay on their good side – I’ve kept the children from wandering here, though one of their Fey seemed most interested in playing some sort of charades with them. I’m actually- it seems odd to say it, but I’m actually hopeful for our chances here. The road has seen more of us die than I’d feared, the depredations of hunger and banditry taking a heavy toll. Here, I think even if we aren’t welcomed, we’ll at least be ignored, which is a fair sight better than hunted. I’ve scheduled a meeting with a member of the town’s structural planning committee this afternoon, and I hope that after I’ve had a chance to introduce the concept of Troll Bridges to them they’ll be willing to let us integrate into their society. I just want a place where my people can survive, they’ve endured so much. With any luck, our journey is at an end.
Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 31st, 2 pm.
I shouldn’t have hoped. My wife could see it in my before I left, and now I have to disappoint her. The committeeman wasn’t interested in what we had to offer, wasn’t interested in anything humanitarian – he only scheduled the meeting to give himself time to gather a group of militia to arrest my clan. I’m writing this in captivity, though the prison they put us in wouldn’t hold a goblin. The bars are rusted through in four places, and there’s woodworm in the left wall and ceiling! I don’t want to do anything to rouse murderous instincts, but they can’t keep us in here for long. For one, we haven’t eaten since this morning, and the children are feeling it hardest, though they’re being so brave. Oralm hid a bread roll in his pocket and gave it to little Mephia, the dear. They may have taken our freedom, but we’re a goddamn community – they can’t take our spirit. I can’t conscience not breaking out for more than a few more hours, and worried as I am, I’ll take the open road over execution any day. Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I’m not young – I know what Terrans do when they’re scared.
Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 31st, 8 pm.
We’re safe and in sanctuary from the border guards we met on the way in. The sheriff broke us out of jail with a motley crew of felinae, fey, and terrans, and when I let them know the way we’d been treated, they went and arrested the committeeman! They welcomed us into their section of the town – the Fringe, they call it – and seem more than willing to hear us out. I’m shocked, but so grateful. We’ve been living without any protection for so long, it’s startling how safe I feel with these mercs around us. Despite allegations of thievery and untoward experimentation, we’ve not faced any dangers from them, and they roused themselves to action to correct an injustice. I’ll offer our services to them in exchange for protection, and enough money to take care of my people. The point-to-point teleportation of my peoples’ Bridges will be invaluable in their fight against the Old Masters, even though they require such an expenditure of elyrium. We’re not just surviving here: we’re bringing the fight to the Old Masters, helping in ways only we can. We’re part of the resistance, now, and I’ll be damned if I don’t do my best to bring those monsters down.
After all, when the consequence of failure is the destruction of the entire world, there’s not much to lose, is there?
Written by Marshall Nystrom for the 2018 writing contest