5- Fulfilling a Promise

As the waves gently caressed the shores of Nedaria's Landing, the calm, rushing breeze was shattered by the hammering and clanging of the Wayfarers Brotherhood building the grand ship that would take them across the turbulent Abysmal Sea.

Under a tent at the brotherhood's camp up on the grass, Morden Rasp explained to Calliav Giniuar how he and Nedaria came across the Grozmok Stone. He hoped his mage friend would understand and forgive him for not telling him he had the very thing that Calliav had been seeking all of these months.

The tale Morden told was a lengthy one, beginning long ago.

In the Elder Age, a troll named Zraxth had a vision that saw the coming of one great and powerful troll, called the Grozmok, who would unite all of the trolls in Norrath with the aid of the power in the Grozmok Stone. The Grozmok would unleash terror across Norrath.

Over a period of years, the stone changed hands many times. First, the stone was stolen from the trolls in the Innothule Swamp by the Rallosian ogres, and then stolen by the Ykesha Clan of trolls. Another faction of trolls, Clan Broken Skull, did not believe the Ykesha Clan were destined to produce a troll strong enough to become the Grozmok and overpowered the Ykesha Clan, killing their leader and taking the Grozmok Stone.

Some time later, when the trolls in the swamps of Antonica reestablished themselves in Grobb, they robbed Clan Broken Skull of the stone once more. Then, the Broken Skull Clan returned again and took the Grozmok Stone -- its last known resting place.

Morden and Nedaria Debeian had been sailing the fog-suffocated seas near the Gulf of Gunthak on the Thorn of the White Rose when they heard that Clan Broken Skull invaded Grobb and took the Grozmok Stone.

In all of their adventures over the years, the story of the Grozmok Stone surfaced several times. Both of the seafaring friends were well aware of what the stone represented and that it might be capable of shifting the weight of power in Norrath. Morden vowed to find the Grozmok Stone and hide it forever to keep all of Norrath safe from the rule of evil gods.

Morden and Nedaria and a small crew of seven trusted adventurers sailed into the Gulf of Gunthak hidden by a thick veil of fog. Nedaria sat up on the bow with her mind keenly focused, eyes closed. It wasn't long before she opened her eyes and nodded to Morden.

"They are close. Everyone should be at the ready," Nedaria whispered, her words gliding on the heavy, still air. "They have it -- they have the Grozmok Stone."

In minutes, the crew of the Thorn of the White Rose heard the unmistakable creak of a strained hull rolling lazily through the water. Morden crouched, ready to spring as soon as the approaching boat crossed the bow of his ship. Two crewmates waited behind Morden, waiting for his commands.

The figure of a rickety ship with tattered sails emerged from the fog, eerily outlined like smudged charcoal on a gray canvas. Shadowy hulking figures moved about the boat -- clearly trolls -- who did not notice the ship coming into view on their starboard side.

Morden turned to the two behind him and nodded, pointing to the midship rail on the troll's boat. His crew nodded and waited for Morden's first move.

The decrepit boat inched past the bow of the Thorn of the White Rose. When the boat was in position, Morden silently leapt from the bow of his boat onto the railing, staying perfectly balanced on the three-inch rod of rusted iron. His crew followed. They all kept low and moved silently until they were close enough to smell the rotting reek of trolls' breath. Morden's crew flanked him.

Morden jumped down from the upper deck into the cockpit at the stern of the vessel and let loose a mighty bellow. The shock of his yell stunned the ten trolls that milled about the boat long enough for the blades of Morden and his crew to reduce them all to heaps of blood and gore.

"Ye stay 'ere, hm? Keep an eye on things while I go take a look in 'er hold," Morden said to his crew. "Yell if ye see something odd."

In less than a minute, Morden returned with a grin.

"How blasted stupid do ye have to be to 'ide a big bloody slab o' stone in burlap?" Morden grinned to his curious crewmates. "There it were, standing right in front me. Gonna need some 'elp luggin' it o'er to me boat."

After the Grozmok Stone was safely hidden on the Thorn of the White Rose, Morden made his crew promise never to speak of it again. The stone was never to be sold or uncovered lest it unleash a power that could bring Norrath into the hands of the evil gods and races.

As Ro, the Norrathian sun, began to set in Nedaria's Landing, Morden uttered the last words of his tale to Calliav and gave him a few moments to consider it all.

"Ye 'ave to understand Calliav... I 'ad no idea who ye were or what ye were about," Morden said, looking up into Calliav's eyes. "I didn't want to put the lives and fates of many Norrathians in your 'ands."

"It's okay, Morden. I understand your reasons now," Calliav said, pausing to think before he spoke again. "There is more to the Grozmok Stone prophecy, though. While the legend says that stone could bring power to the trolls, Zebuxoruk showed me it will do much more. That stone may very well change the face of Norrath. Just look around... we have trolls working with halflings and light elves working with dark ones."

"Aye, true," Morden said with pride. "But what of the Grozmok -- the one troll that would unite all trolls and unleash havoc across the lands?"

"I believe the stone could give the Grozmok power, but now is not that time," Calliav said. ""The stone has changed over the years somehow and has an even greater purpose than everyone originally thought. I believe the stone will lead us to the evil power I've seen in my visions that could topple all of Norrath -- troll and all races alike. But, I need to study it."

Just then, two of Morden's most trusted friends laid the Grozmok Stone next to Calliav.