Chapter 17: Troll Mountain

With Andraste in the lead, the Spiderwebbers from KoL set off once more. Eventually, they came to a fork in the road. The left road went up Yeti Mountain and the right continued towards Mt. B'cuzitz'thair. Three yetis emerged from a shelter on the side of the road.

Riibu gasped. The yetis were at least seven feet tall and entirely covered in shaggy, white fur. They wore bandoliers made from hippy dreadlocks and necklaces of orc teeth. One had on a penguin skin cape as well.

The one with the cape stepped in front of the Spiderwebbers. "Grr. Hello. We rrr official Knott soldierrrs. We rrr stationed out herrre to prrrotect Yeti Mountain frrrom any and all enemies, especially the scourrrge that is alcohol. By orrrderrr, grr, of Queen Knott the Sixth, we must searrrch yourrr packs beforrre you can continue." The yeti coughed several times.

Andraste stepped forward and growled something. The yeti looked surprised and growled back.

Andraste cleared her throat. "Yes, of course." She set her pack in front of the yeti. "The rest of you do the same."

"What are they looking for? Just booze?" Drew asked.

The yeti growled.

"Yes."

"Does that even work?"

The yeti went on a lengthy explanation that involved gesturing to his necklace, swirling his cape around, and miming a torn-off arm.

Andraste shrugged. "It seems to. This mountain is so isolated it's hard to smuggle it in and the penalties for getting caught trying are really harsh. Besides, the soldiers ban yetis caught drinking from the mountain, so there's not much demand for booze anyway."

"What's their problem with the hippies? I can't see them smuggling booze in," Niemand said.

The yeti growled.

"They stink up the whole mountain whenever they trespass on it."

"We don't have any alcohol with us, do we? What would happen if we did?" Riibu kept her pack.

The yeti growled and patted Riibu's head.

"We're not trying to smuggle it in, so if we even have any, they'll just confiscate it and let us continue," Andraste said.

"Okay." Riibu finally set her pack down.

While the yetis searched the packs, Salmon went down the right road a short distance. Aside from a few yeti tracks, the snow was untouched. "Andraste, this looks suspicious. If there are mines, shouldn't there be shipments coming and going?"

One of the other yetis shook her head and growled.

"Oh. Did any of them say why?"

The yeti growled.

"Well?" Niemand asked.

"About a year and a half ago, the mining stopped and the miners left. The yetis don't know why. The barbed-wire should still be there, though, so we shouldn't have any problems."

The yetis finished searching the packs and quickly searched the Spiderwebbers as well. Goldenking looked angry but said nothing.

The yetis stepped back. The one in the cape bowed slightly and growled.

Andraste picked up her pack. "Well, that's it. We can go on now."

---

Emperor Tullegolar entered the Geneforge 4 Forum. Jeran Korak followed him, swinging his sword around moodily. Azuma looked thoroughly miserable. Nayld had full control over the movement of the rat skeleton, but Azuma still had to hold it together.

"How is it going?" Emperor Tullegolar asked.

Azuma stared blankly at him. "Fine?"

Nalyd pointed the skeleton towards a boulder. "Jump over that rock. No, over. Over!"

The rat skeleton leapt half-heartedly and smashed against the rock.

"Azuma! Fix it, please."

Azuma waved his hand and the skeleton stood up again. "You really need to be more careful with it."

Emperor Tullegolar snorted. "You're pathetic. Nalyd's a total pushover and you can't even assert yourself against him? Weak."

"Well, he's very... demanding."

"Yeah, yeah. Nalyd!"

"Stop!" The skeleton halted. "Yes?"

"We're taking a break." Emperor Tullegolar grabbed Azuma's arm and pulled him toward the exit. The skeleton fell apart. "Do whatever you want for a while, provided it doesn't relate to necromancy."

"But..."

"You heard me." Emperor Tullegolar, Azuma, and Jeran Korak left.

---

The Google vehicle carrying Ephesos, Attorukkip, and Dikiyoba pulled into the station.

Ephesos had fallen asleep during the ride. Attorukkip gently shook him awake. "Come on, we're here."

"Huh? Oh, we've arrived already?" Ephesos got up slowly.

Attorukkip jumped out the moment the door opened. Dikiyoba waited in order to give Ephesos a hand down.

Still at the window, the yeti watched them arrive. He growled.

The 1337 h4x0rs joined him at the window. "|\|0 7|-|472 |\|07 7|-|3|\/|"

The yeti growled again. The ninjas hurried outside.

Attorukkip checked to make sure the area was clear. "Okay, Ephesos, you should stay here to conserve as much strength as possible. I'll bring the bodies back to you."

Ephesos yawned. "Right."

"Dikiyoba needs to make more potions."

"Right. You know what you're doing." Attorukkip ran off.

Ephesos sat down and rested against the ticket machine. "I don't know if I can do this."

"Dikiyoba brought plenty of energy potions."

"Yes, I know. It's... it's... well, I'll manage somehow. I have to."

"Do you need anything now?" Dikiyoba knelt down to sort out alchemy equipment.

"Not yet." Ephesos closed his eyes.

The ninjas stealthily approached the pair. When they saw that neither Spiderwebber was paying attention, they threw two shruiken that had been coated in a sleeping potion.

One shruiken hit Ephesos in the shoulder. He tried to stand up. "Divine retri..." He slumped back against the ticket machine, asleep once more.

Another hit Dikiyoba in the back. "Att! Hel--" Dikiyoba yawned and fell to the ground.

A few moments later, Attorukkip returned carrying a body. When she saw that the ninjas were carrying Ephesos and Dikiyoba off, she went berserk. She dropped the body and cast several smite spells. One of the ninjas was hit. The rest ducked back into the shadows.

"Cowards! Come out and fight!" Attorukkip dodged a shruiken and smote the fallen ninja a second time to make sure he was dead.

The yeti saw that the ninjas were in trouble and ran out to help. Attorukkip cast smite on him before being struck by a shruiken. She cast smite again. The yeti dodged it. Attorukkip finally collapsed.

The yeti pulled out a healing potion and drank it. One of the ninjas gave the others directions by waving his arms around, picked up the dead ninja, and used a recall crystal. The yeti and other ninjas searched the trio for weapons and valuables and carried them inside.

The yeti pulled out shackles and secured the trio on another length of chain.

"\/\/|-|47 \/\/111 \/\/3 |)0 \/\/17|-| 7|-|3|\/| \/\/|-|113 \/\/3 \/\/417?"

The yeti growled.

"8|_|7 `/0|_| |-|4\/3 70!!! 7|-|3 0|\|32 \/\/3 453 4|=735 453 27111--"

The yeti interrupted him with another growl.

"`/0|_|... \/\/|-|47?!!1" The 1337 h4x0rs drew their axes. They were promptly hit with shruiken and fell asleep a moment later. They were quickly searched, disarmed, and chained up.

The yeti growled. The ninjas nodded and moved in so everyone was touching. One picked up the prisoners' chain. Satisfied, the yeti activated the crystal. There was a flash of light and they vanished.

---

Emperor Tullegolar returned to the General Forum in the middle of a speech by Drakefyre.

"...expect you all to be friendly and polite to the rats. If you have any questions or problems, ***** is their leader and has been granted moderatorial powers."

"Will they be staying to help out against Ecksian?" Nioca asked.

"I'm not sure, but probably."

"What about the Periodic Table? Will they get entries on it?" Thralni asked.

"I have no idea."

"This is absolutely unbelievable!" Emperor Tullegolar hissed.

"What is?" Azuma asked.

"That we're welcoming an inferior species in. As equals! This is ridiculous. Go find Nalyd and tell him I'm ordering him to dig up more rat skeletons. You too, Jeran, and I mean it."

"Why?" Jeran Korak asked.

"Because I've had enough. I'm not going to let this place be overrun by rats!"

---

Goldenking scanned the distance carefully. "I still can't see Troll Mountain. Where is it?"

Salmon pointed. "It's right there in front of you."

Goldenking stared. All he could see was some low hills. "Do you see it?" he asked Iffy quietly.

"No. Are you sure we're looking in the right place? Salmon, could you point it out again?"

Salmon did so. "Right there."

"That's exactly where I was looking at! There's nothing there!" Goldenking snapped.

"Everyone stop talking and freeze! There's a troll just behind us. I don't think it's seen us yet, so we might be able to escape without problems," Andraste said.

Iffy froze. "A troll?"

"Yeah. Nasty, uh, scary creatures. And there's one right behind us. Scary!" Salmon tried to sound frightened.

"Shh!" Andraste said.

Drew grabbed Riibu before she could turn invisible and winked. Niemand struggled to keep from laughing.

"What do we do now?" Goldenking looked behind him.

"Uh-oh. It's moving again. It might have seen us," Andraste said, "If it comes for us, get your weapons out. If we're lucky, we can kill it before it kills more than a few of us."

"I'm ready for it," Goldenking said.

Niemand burst out laughing.

"What's so funny?" Goldenking demanded.

"Spoilsport," Salmon said.

Niemand leaned on his halberd for support. "I know, I'm sorry. It's just... hahaha... the expression on Goldenking's face..."

"Wait... there's no troll?" Iffy asked.

"Nope," Drew said.

"Then there's no Troll Mountain either," Iffy said.

Drew nodded.

"This was a joke? You tricked us?! Why you... you... rotten, no-good, empty-headed... pathetic losers!" Goldenking's eyes turned red and he stalked off.

"Don't take it personally. It's not our fault you're gullible!" Salmon called after him.

"Salmon, don't make it worse." Jewels pulled out the fire and hot cocoa mix. "I think we're talking a long break now."

Surprisingly, Goldenking came back a few minutes later. He seemed perfectly calm as he sat down next to Iffy and accepted a cup of hot cocoa from Jewels.

"What was that all about?" Iffy asked.

"You're lucky. You won't have to worry about losing your temper nearly so much."

"Why?"

Goldenking shuddered. "I prefer not to speak of my noobish days."

"Oh. Okay."

Andraste finished her hot cocoa. "If we hurry, we can make it to Mt. B'cuzitz'thair before it gets totally dark."

"Why does that matter?" Goldenking asked.

"Because the mountain has a series of caves that make great campsites. If we don't get to them, we'll have to spend the night out in the open."

Iffy shivered and picked up his pack. "Let's move it, people!"