5- The Exodus to Neriak

Moving under the concealment of night, the trolls made their way towards the sanctuary of the dark forest. Elder masters, long settled in as trainers and city leaders, found themselves leading the weary droves north along almost forgotten routes. Many had not seen the lands beyond the Serpent's Spine in decades. The events that transpired during the morning's battles served as a reminder to the trolls: defeat lies ever in wait for the unwary. Those same events offered many of the younger trolls a first glimpse at the raw savagery and unbending will shared by their race in battle. These scenes filled their minds and fueled their hatred, a burning focus for the days ahead. For the trolls, their primal need for revenge smoldered, uncontainable. Every step they took to the north magnified their hate.

Only as the travelers approached Neriak's dimly lit mouth did the realization of what had transpired begin to solidify for many of them. No conflict so tumultuous and savage had occurred within the memory of the young trolls. Stories of loss are rare in troll lore, and thus their culture lacks a true point of reference. Weaned on the fruits of cruelty and spiteful savagery, these refugees left more than their homes behind as they fled the swamp's shelter. Taking refuge in their dark allies' city left a brutal hole in the trolls' pride... and Neriak is a poor haven for the weak and wounded.

To further their own goals, the elves refrained from showing their complete disdain for the vanquished swamp-dwellers. Allowing the trolls to settle in the already crowded district of the Foreign Quarter provided many opportunities for monitoring this strange series of events. A mild tolerance would be the most hospitality they would offer, as weakness had little place in their damp, hate-filled halls. Only the innately malicious intelligence of the Tier`Dal restrained their cruel nature... and anyone could see that something strange and new was afoot. The trolls and their predicament needed to be studied.

As the trolls settled in, they found themselves to be a curiosity amongst Neriak's dark citizenry. Rumors of the events in Innothule had circulated long before the displaced trolls arrived. Many agents of the shaded paths had witnessed the events in the south. Even before the first of the refugees had settled into their small piece of Neriak's Foreign Quarter, shadowy agents were sent to prod them for information. Neriak is not a hostel to be entered for free.

Stories of trolls intelligent enough to sail out of the gulf and enter Grobb through the use of magic earned the royal house's curiosity. The theft of the artifact and the transformation of the frogloks were minor details to the dark elves. Their main priority was to determine the nature of this lost tribe of trolls and their cloaked companions. If the rumors held true, this new brood from the sea might possess something more significant than the troll stone. Perhaps Broken Skull Rock contained secrets that could help the Tier`Dal to increase their power? It was hard for the strategists to keep their minds from drifting towards the nearest harbor town and the tactical advantage they would have in taking it, should they seize control of the ocean to the east. If something within Broken Skull Rock gave trolls the ability to command the seas, what power could it offer a more intelligent race?