After finding that no coach was available to take the party to Stromdorf, and hiring one was unusually expensive due to fear over the danger from Beastmen and Goblins on the way, the party decided to hire a barge. The trip initially was peaceful, with the slow passage along the river, blue sky, puffy clouds and the rolling hills and fields of the Empire. Soon however a dark clouds were seen in the distance and as they approached rain, then wind driven rain drenched them. The barge rocked as the water became rougher and rougher and lightning shattered the sky ahead. But the lights of Stromdorf were now visible ahead and the skipper shouted above the sound of the wind and rain “The West Bridge should be right ahead, then we will be there!”
Sudden the barge reared up, as it hit something large in the water. The skipper and Dietrich were immediately thrown overboard. Birgitta, Kurgi and Tharin rushed to find and throw a rope overboard, almost falling in themselves as the deck heaved and shook, as it was struck again and again. Torn timbers, some tied with scraps of rope passed by, some missing and some striking the barge. Looking ahead it was clear where there HAD been a bridge, but it was now a wreckage of wood, stone and rope.
Birgitta’s first throw of the rope to Dietrich missed, and it was then that they saw the form of a River Troll, enter the water downstream. Downstream…meaning the now tiller-less barge was drifting ever closer to its waiting arms. Drifting, as was Dietriech as well. Two more throws of the rope were required before Dietrich caught it, by which time another party member had also fallen in. As Dietrich struggled to pull back to the barge, they reached the troll. One swipe with his clawed hands left Dietrich bleeding profusely into the water, a large gash on his head. As he fell into unconsciousness and certain death at the bottom of the river, Kurgi struck at the Troll, barely keeping his balance on the deck. His massive blow connected, cutting deep into the Trolls flesh. As it recoiled, the barge drifted past, out of reach. The troll disappeared under the water, as the barge ran aground on the north shore of the river. Birgitta pulled Dietrich out of the water, gasping and coughing up bloody water.
Next to the edge of the forest, a forest known to be infested with Beastmen, a Troll somewhere near, the four exhausted travelers saw through the rain and the gloom the distant silhouette and lights of Stromdorf looming ahead…on the other side of the river, with the bridge across gone….