Aside from Beast Men, there were relatively few non-human menaces in the North. The summer months saw the yearly influx of sahuagin from the southern shores of Skothar. While most of the fey-folk avoided Men, bands of Red Caps and Satyrs were known to cause trouble to those straying too far from the roads and trails through the woods. Pixies and sprites were more mischievous than malicious, more a nuisance than threat. Occasionally, giants would stray from the Stormkiller mountains, but for the most part kept to the peaks in their near-constant war with the Dwarves.
The rising of the Egg of Coot some time around 4030 BC (970 in the Calendar of the North) changed all that.
Some sages posit that the different so-called monstrous races were results of selective genetic strain manipulation by the Egg. Mountains and forests became home to the spidery, spindly offshoot that became known as goblins, while “orcs” were nurtured for work and fighting in the hills.
Over the decades, more and more specialized species began to spring up, and the Men of the North could not help but notice the consistency in appearance and types of monsters that crept into their lands: bigger, hairier goblins that had some modicum of discipline, yapping, dog-like humanoids that skulked at the fringes of the frontier towns. When pies cooling on windowsills went missing, or a piece or two of the day’s washing disappeared, parents could not easily discount the excuse of “it was a kobold.”
One of the most terrifying creatures to lumber forth from the Realms of the Egg, though, was the troll: ten feet of ravening destruction, a mass of claws and teeth housed in a thickly-muscled, rubbery-skinned hide. Nigh indestructible, the wounds of sword and pike and axe closing moments after landing, limbs seeking to keep fighting even when severed, they were nearly the undoing of the armies of the North.
Scholars tell of Uther singlehandedly fighting off a trio of the beasts, but recent accounts recovered from Uther’s lost personal diary reveal that he was not alone, but traveled with the twins at the time. His account tells of Rowena and Leansethar attacking the creatures in a fury that bordered on madness. It was through their battle that Uther learned of the trolls’ susceptibility to fire, and it was after that point that every squad patrolling along the borders of the Realms of the Egg were equipped with pitch and flame with which to edge their weapons upon encountering the great, lumbering monsters.
The deep, nearly-psychotic hatred between the Sidhe and Trolls seems to originate from these years before the Great Rain of Fire. Were trolls the result of experimentation done by the Egg to blend Beast Man and Sidhe stock? The waning of the numbers of the Sidhe in the North, and growing numbers of Trolls could have been coincidental… but the two events may also be inextricably linked.
Rob’s blog and website chronicles a bit of a darker take on the Mystara presented in the D&D Gazetteers. Thorn's Chronicle is posted semi-regularly on the Mystara board of The Piazza.
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