Stuhl was a great goat. She was always loyal and kept Jacob’s family alive. The milk and cheese that came from Stuhl as the one thing keeping Jacob’s family fed and well this early into winter, and Jacob had lost her. Jacob couldn’t believe how irresponsible he had been and was beating himself up over the loss. He was just taking her on a walk to check on the chickens and when he turned around she was gone. Stuhl had to have escaped through the hole in the fence. How did it get there? Jacob swore he didn’t see it there before. Wouldn’t a fence getting torn open make a sound though? Maybe he was too preoccupied to hear anything.
Jacob had to find the goat and he knew he couldn’t tell Papa either. If he knew that Jacob had lost Stuhl there’d be hell to pay. Well, I know the forest well enough and Stuhl couldn’t have gotten far. I’ll go find her and no one will be the wiser. Without a second thought Jacob closed the chicken coup and headed into the forest through the same hole Stuhl had used to better track her. Jacob always kept his bow when he went out and this was no exception. You never know when you might meet something dangerous in the woods. His Papa had warned him about the wolves and other creatures that lurk in the darkness.
So Jacob left his homestead looking for Stuhl before his parents could find out what had happened. The only problem was that no matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t find Stuhl’s tracks. Jacob was no hunter by any means, but he knew the goat couldn’t have floated away. He searched near and far for hours until he heard the bleating of his faithful goat coming from a nearby cave. By now the sun was starting to go down and Jacob knew he was going to be caught losing Stuhl but the only thing that could be worse than losing Stuhl would be staying out all day, not telling anyone, and coming back empty handed. So Jacob approached the cave where he’d heard the noise.
Jacob had arrived too little too late though. As he went into the cave, he was surprised to find it lit inside. Jacob’s first impressions were confusing. He smelled the pungent smell of a poorly cooked stew. The smell of boiling carrots, potatoes, and cabbage was mixed with the horrible sight of Stuhl being cleaved in half with a crude butcher’s knife that looked to scale with a troll who stood much taller than Jacob. Jacob knew the difference between trolls and giants immediately, though he had never seen such a monster before. This thing could not be the giants from the stories. The mere sight of this creature twisted Jacob’s heart with terror, it’s horrible visage strewn with scars and hate. Its body was crudely clothed and it hideously sang a song that could only be drowned out by the final bleats of Stuhl.
Jacob couldn’t even think long enough to realize that Stuhl was dead and he should run. How will my family live now? You killed her and she was my friend! I hate you! I hate you! No other thoughts were in Jacob’s mind when he drew his bow. He was overcome with anger, which caused his aim to be thrown off. That, of course, wasn’t important to Jacob when he missed. Now the troll had noticed him, and was tearing after him. The thing was faster than Jacob had imagined, and the chase did not last long. As it drew near, Jacob sensed the chase was coming to an end, and he drew his bow once more. “Stay back you beast!” He screamed with fear in his voice. “I will end your retched life!” Jacob’s initial anger had faded now, and instead been replaced with terror.
“More meat for the stew. Humans make a sweet taste in the stew. Not like those wretched orcs.” Was the troll’s simple response that called out Jacob’s obvious bluff. In a last ditch attempt, Jacob released his arrow. However, it bounced harmlessly off of the troll’s skin. The last thing Jacob saw before he was knocked out was the troll snapping his bow in half. “Now we won’t need this thing anymore. It’s better to feed a fire then shoot your arrows.” The troll muttered.
When Jacob came to, he was horrified to smell that same stew, only now it had a meaty smell in it. This is it, Jacob thought, I must be on the table that Stuhl died on. I’m going to end up in a stew with my goat. He saw the troll standing over him, menacing knife in hand, “It’s not fair to kill a man without letting him speak to his man God. I don’t want no ghosts or spirits haunting my cave. Pray well and I’ll make it quick.” He explained brusquely.
Jacob closed his eyes and began to pray. He prayed as hard as he could to Tuote, the God of creation, to help him. He prayed to be saved, and for his life. Jacob did not want to die in a cave, alone, butchered by a troll. He wanted to live and love and laugh and pray. No matter what, Jacob wanted to die of old age, with many grandchildren, and a happy life to look back on. Not looking up at the hideous maw of a troll as that blade takes his life away. He’d never prayed more vigorously.
“You look done human. Good! No ghosts here.” The troll commented. As Jacob clenched his teeth, still praying, he heard a sound worse than Stuhl dying. It was still full of death but the screaming. The screaming and begging made it so much worse. “Please don’t kill me!” begged the troll,l “I’ll do anything! I wasn’t gonna cook him! Just a good scare! A funny prank!”
In a cool even tone, the man responded. “Sorry, but you have something I need, and frankly I don’t believe a single crock of that shit you just tried to tell me. Trolls are such awful liars. I can’t let you just run around and kill random people. So your time is up troll. Good bye.” With that the troll begged no more. “Open your eyes little one. You’re safe now.” Jacob opened his eyes and saw the troll on the blood covered floor, and his head at the far corner. Jacob began to stammer, “You saved me! I… I prayed and you came! You must… You must be an angel sent from Tuote”
“No young master, I am not from the Gods. You were lucky though I’ll admit that. This troll was guarding something that I needed.” The stranger stated, as he started rustling through the troll’s belongings. “And here it is!” The stranger opened a chest and pulled out a mighty looking bow with an almost red glow. “Where are my manners. My name is Niila and it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance” Niila reached out his hand to greet Jacob.
Jacob, getting his senses back, started to sob openly “I’m sorry Niila but my goat was killed by this monster and now my family will starve. You have saved my life but my family will never make it!”
“What’s your name young man?”
“I saw a bow in the kindling. That must have been yours huh? Well listen Jacob. There’s lots of things in the woods that would sooner eat a man then invite him to dinner.”
As Jacob began to get his crying under control, he got his first look at Niila. His clothes were worn but comfortable looking. He had many weapons on him along with everything he needed to survive in the wild. The man looked prepared, dirty, and deadly above all things. In fact the only thing that stood out to Jacob was when Niila put up his new bow. When he moved his cloak aside, Jacob could see his dagger and sword, both were ornate with a craftsmanship lost to time. As Jacob finished putting up his new bow he produced another one. “This is my old bow. It has served me for a long time and has always been faithful. Its size is bigger than your old one, but it is imbued with magics that can pierce the skin of monsters. You’ll have to get used to it but if you can string it then you should be able to use it.” With that he handed the bow to Jacob.
Jacob held his hands up. “I can’t accept this Niila I do not deserve such an item. I would never have need for this.” With a smirk, Niila responded, “The woods are dangerous young man. This world holds mysteries ancient and dark. There are places no man should go and the creatures in those places can only think of evil. It takes courage to stand up to these things and to protect his family. This bow will serve you for this, and many adventure more. See how it has already saved you?” He then gestured to the deep arrow wounds in the Trolls thick hide.
“Go now and accept one more gift from me.” Niila produced a coin purse, and tossed it to the young boy, “This’ll take care of your family for the winter. Take it as your share of the loot, and trust me, there should be more in there then what you’re getting. Don’t argue young Jacob, just go home and be brave. Keep the good things good, and… buy another goat.”
With that Jacob left and never looked back. His family was saved for the winter due to Niila’s kindness.
Thank you for reading my story about our new world. As you know we at the Nerd Blog Collective are looking to make a new fantasy setting and beyond for RPGs. These stories are part of that setting and help us establish the world we are trying to create. If you liked my story then please share it with the links below. Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @nblogcollective. Also we have started a Patreon page to help us keep up with the costs of producing new content such as new boardgames and RPGs.