A Little warning before reading: story contains some violence (swordfighting, hunting) and bloodthirst (hungry troll)

1. Introduction.
Once upon a time there lived a princess in a small and prosperous kingdom. Eeny was born with curly red hair and bright green eyes. Since the kingdom was small, she grew up sheltered by it's benevolence and was loved by it's inhabitants without a doubt of her natural station. On the other hand, Eeny sometimes wondered about her life. She and her best friend, a short blond firecracker of a girl by the name of Sansan, often talked about adventures. About braving the unknown and going where you wanted to go, free and unburdened - well, except maybe for what you might eat for diner. And although Sansan talked about leaving on one at some time, Eeny knew that she as the princess would not be allowed to go. With clear precision she knew her life would lead to a marriage, probably to a nice enough man since she trusted her parents, and they would marry, have children and rule the kingdom until they died. Not a bad life per se, but not very exciting either. Still, it didn't hurt to dream.
But life doesn't always go as you would expect it to. Around the time that Eeny turned 23, disaster struck her kingdom. Reports came of a troll raiding the streets at night. At first it had only invaded the very edges of the kingdom, a sleepy farming town where it had killed and eaten a couple of sheep and wrecked some sheds. But slowly and surely it had gained confidence, venturing closer to village and it's sleeping inhabitants, until finally it had broken into a house and had raided the pantry, broke down the walls and furniture. The troll had even ventured inside the house, where the townspeople had courageously kept their stand, using fire to drive it away, but sadly also causing a fire to start that left half a dozen houses in ruins. It was only then that the true face of the danger had become known. Before that, the townspeople had believed that the forest wolves were to blame for the vanished sheep, but now they knew better. A messenger was dispatched that reached the castle in a mere hour, waking the servants, the king, queen and princess and anyone else who was at it's premises.
"What's wrong good man?" asked King Ishidor.
"It's a troll." the messenger shuddered and collapsed.
Stricken and pale, Queen Yuna gasped and took a step back, "It's happening", she whispered.
"What is?" Eeny asked, yawning and rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"The prophecy." Queen Yuna said, "When I was born, a witch prophesized that a great calamity would befall the kingdom during my life. This must be it."
The king turned to his wife and daughter, "I won't allow it," he said, "Who was that witch?"
The queen hesitated for a moment, "I believe it was old lady Darkwand."
"The old lady who lives above the bakery?"
"The very one." the queen nodded.

2. Visiting the Witch
Sansan brimmed with excitement. It was maybe half an hour later and they were headed to the town bakery. That it'd only taken half an hour to get the royal train on the road could be called a small miracle indeed. Sansan grinned at Eeny and said: 
"Now this is an adventure. Going out in the middle of the night to visit a witch."
Eeny reciprocated with a weak smaile, "I just hope she can help us. Having a troll on the loose is dangerous."
"Yes I suppose that's true." Sansan shrugged, "But some hero will take care fo it for sure."
"Right." Eeny answered, feeling a bit better with that thought.
Sansan looked out, happy to have comforted her best friend a bit and watched as darkened scenery move, the clicking sounds of the horses hooves and the whir of the wheels adding background noise. The main street they were on was quite  and had ample light, but narrow alleyways led to darker, secluded places. 
The carriage slowed down and Sansan sat up straighter. If anyone suggested she'd stay behind they didn't know what was coming for them. Luckily no-one seemed to believe the old witch was dangerous and Sansan climbed the stairs right behind Eeny. A messenger had announced their visit and the old witch, gnarled and wrinkled, was already waiting for them. She was dressed in a simple brown gown and wore a large quartz crystal on a cord around her neck. Candles were burning and a large crystal ball stood on a table in front of the witch. Sansan glanced left and right, committing the scene to memory. As a student of the arts, she was interested in all things magic. Even if witches were a different type of magic-user, Sansan was interested. Maybe she'd just add to the ambience a little... She concentrated and the flames of the candles grew a bit bluer. The witch noticed and looked at her, deep in thought, but then grinned.
"Your majesties. Ladies and Gentlemen." Lady Darkwand spoke, "I was informed that you'd be coming about the prophecy. I was the one who received the word, but I can do little about it's workings."
"We've come to ask if what is happening in the realm is the manifestation of the curse." Queen Yuna said.
"Trying to define a curse or hex is always difficult. Saying it is so might even have an adverse effect, pulling the curse closer. I would not dare to state something that dangerous." the witch said, adding, "I can maybe inquire what or who might be able to aid in defeating this evil beast.
"If you would." King Ishidor bid.
Humming softly, Lady Darkwand closed her eyes, clasped her hands over the crystal ball that began to glow with an inner light. With a soft whoosh, the candles flared and died. Only the light of the crystal ball remained, casting the appartment in a cool purple glow. The witch's eyes turned up and as she stopped humming, she started chanting:

The troll seeks to destroy, 
to feast on blood and dine on our despair,
to ward it off we must envoy
a sacrifice of strength and virtue fair.
5 Heroes must be sought 
A princess, a wielder of flame,
A warrior, a dwarf and tracker brought
to wager a bet on this game.
Travel through the forest to it's lair,
Pursue it to the dark spire,
where the sacrifice will open the air 
To this you must aspire.

The candleflames returned and Lady Darkwand slumped on her chair. 
"What does it mean?" King Ishidor asked.
"Not Eeny..." Queen Yuna gasped, "Why a princess? Why must our girl go on this dangerous quest?"
"Where will we find these 5 heroes?" King Ishidor demanded to the witch who was only starting to recover.
Lady Darkwand coughed, wheezed and then spoke: "I can say no more than that the lady princess will attract the right people to her. Why, she already has a wielder of flame right beside her."
Sansan gasped and yelled: "Cool! I can come on the adventure!"

3. Forming the party
Nill looked up at the sound of commotion at the gates. It was an unusual time for such a loud disturbance, dawn being only just upon them. She got up, stretched the stiffness of a night watch on an uncomfortable wooden bench away and strapped on her sword. Nill believed in doing her work, and though the commotion seemed to be on the inside of the gate, it wouldn't do to leave it unchecked.
She went out and entered chaos. A lot of warriors were out and about, talking, shouting and generally obstructing the way and disturbing the peace. Taking a deep breath she boomed:
"Quiet! Single file. Now!"
Drilled, most of the warriors complied. Nill went to the closest one, a young spear-warrior, and asked: "What's the deal?"
"A messenger came in the dead of night and spoke of a troll in the farmlands. Rumors are that a party of heroes has to be formed to defeat it." the young man said, stars in his eyes.
Nill took a few seconds to think and then decided that sending the warriors home would not work. In stead she took command and yelled: "Acting like a bunch of rifraf won't impress the king, Return to the barracks and ready for inspection."
Nill remembered the warrior on evening duty mentioning a messenger, he hadn't mentioned the message though. Maybe tongues had been loosened in the tavern. 
Readying herself to join the others after the next warrior on guard duty had come, she hoped to get some more information. By now the city was awake and rumours of a beast, sometimes a troll, sometimes a direwolf, sometimes even a dragon, were all over the city. So much for accurate information. In the barracks though, a notice was posted that the king would visit later that day. It was a good thing she'd send everyone to prepare. They needed to make a good impression if the king was coming. 
Not really interested in the troll and what it meant, Nill'd rather stay in the city, she didn't pay much attention when she turned the corner and ran straight into a pair of girls, slightly younger than she was herself. Taking a quick assessment of the situation, Nill extended her hand to help the redheaded girl up and at the same time avoided the tiny blonde one as she tried to do the same, her cap becoming a true threat to Nil's eyes.
Deftly avoiding blindness, Nill asked: "What are you doing here? This is no place for girls."
"Aren't you a girl?" the blonde girl asked.
"Well, I am a warrior." Nill said, "I'm allowed to be here. But I don't know you and I've no time to babysit."
"We don't need babysitting." The blonde pouted, "Come Eeny, let's go."
"Ok, Sansan." the redhead said softly and added: "Thank you." to Nill as they left.
Before Nill could wonder who they were, she came across Deux, an older warrior and one of the rare non-humans in the town. He seemed to be in a hurry and only stopped to say:
"Make sure you attend the king's visit as well. All warriors are to be present."
"I really don't want to have anything to do with a troll." Nill said, "They won't miss me."
"That's up to you." Deux shrugged and went on, "But you just ran in to the princess so your cover's blown."
Cursing, Nill went to prepare for the inspection. 

Half an hour went by before the call came to assemble on the training grounds. Nill assumed her position in the ranks of sword-fighters and watched as King Ishidor and Queen Yuna took their places on a dais in front. Sitting beside them were the two young women, proving Deux hadn't been lying. She listened as a short speech was given about the troll, it was indeed a troll, that had appeared and the party of heroes that was to be formed. 
Surprisingly, the redheaded princess, Eeny, and the tiny blonde who'd been introduced as Sansan, a magician, followed the king as he inspected the troups. Nill was certain they'd pick one of the larger male warriors, feeling a small twinge of annoyance until she remembered she actually didn't want to go on this quest. 
They stopped in front of Deux and surprisingly asked if he was free to join the party. Nill had expected them to ask for a show of skill or a battle to see which warriors were strongest. Though Deux was a good warrior, able to fight with the spear and axe, he was older than what would be considered the prime years for a warrior. But since he was a dwarf, those terms were relative. Deux accepted, what else could he do after all, and the three royal visitors started moving again.
And then they were close to her. Unintended, Nill made eye-contact with the princess and felt it. A small surge of energy. Remembering how the princess had reacted in the hallway, Nill realised not going to the inspection wouldn't have made a difference. 
"Your name?" The king asked.
"Nill, your majesty."
"We have our warrior." the blonde girl said excitedly, "that leaves a tracker."
"I know someone." Nill said, figuring that if she was to go on this crazy quest, she'd better make certain she'd be in capable company. Quart might be unsocial, he was the best tracker available and he owed her so he would come. 

4. Bar-hopping and a Night at the Castle
Deux listened as Nill explained that she would only agree to go if they'd take Quart as their tracker. Deux had heard talk about the man, but not much. Quart generally seemed to like to keep a low profile. Maybe that was why they headed for a seedy tavern in one of the shadier parts of town. By dwarf standards it was just a little rowdy, but it seemed the royalty got quite a shock. Deux couldn't help but smile when the king gasped, the princess clutched her robe a little tighter around her body and the ever-excited Sansan gawked like she wanted her eyes to roll out of their sockets and go explore on their own so she could get twice the input. 
Nill went straight to her target and sat down next to a nondistincthuman with brown hair, brown eyes and a lightly tanned skin. Tawny was a word that came to Deux' mind. Resting his body against a wall and scratching his beard, Deux could imagine the guy was able to disappear in the forest. Not a bad quality for a hunter, but they needed an able tracker.
"Quart, I've come to ask for that favour." Nill said.
Eyeing the royalty weary, Quart asked: "What do you want?"
"I need you to come track a beast for me."
"That's not unusual." Quart answered, leaving out the obvious question in his eyes.
"You'll be serving the kingdom." King Ishidor picked up, "Nill assured us you are the best."
Deux smirked as the king also left out the fact that Nill would not come if Quart didn't agree. No use in scaring the hunter in backing off from the task. Also, no talk of the troll yet. Deux felt he should at least give the hunter all the facts.
"Are you confident enough that you would track a troll?" he asked getting angry looks from both Nill and the king.
"What? Just giving him the proper information."
Quart stayed silent and considered. 
"Who is going?" he asked.
The princess stepped up unexpectedly and said: "The group will consist of Nill, Deux, Sansan, myself and you if you should agree." She looked him straight in the eye and Deux saw the energy hit. Having experienced it himself, the sight was still unusual. Somehow that frail, redheaded, pampered princess had a mental strength that didn't go unnoticed. And maybe some merciful greater being had bestowed her with the power to give them a fair chance in this crazy quest. He'd been told of the witch's prophecy but wasn't one to believe in curses, hexes and fate. On the other hand, they were here, weren't they?
"I'll join you." Quart said, clearly having his doubts about the 2 young women joining, "but with this you'll owe me" he told Nill.
"That's only fair." Nill agreed.

Eeny packed her bag feeling not up to the task. She knew what to pack for a diplomatic mission, she knew what to take for a state banquet, but what did you pack for a trollhunt in the woods? Pants she assumed, not that she had any... She did have a warm coat though, so she packed that. The witch had given her the large quartz crystal she'd worn during the prophecy, telling Eeny it might come in handy since it held some healing and cloaking power. Eeny had been wearing it below her dress ever since. She would use all the support she could get. 
"Are you ready?" Sansan asked.
"No." Eeny said, "But I don't think I can put it off. Though I could use some pants."
"I've got you covered." Sansan said, holding out 2 fleece leggings, "I use these when practicing since dresses are too prone to catching fire when you conjure flames with all the ruffles and lace."
"Thank you." Eeny sighed, "What else can I pack?"
"I've got the list ready, remember, we used to daydream about this."
"I'd almost forgotten." 
"First on it is food, I guess we got our priorities straight. Let's head to the kitchen!"

It was late in the day when the party assembled in the castle hall. Nill was dressed in brown leather pants, a linen shirt and light leather armor across her chest, shoulders and underarms. She packed her sword, daggers and a small backpack that held only the essentials. Deux had his axe with him, favouring it above his spear since the troll would be a strong opponent. He wore a metal helmet and his hair and beard were braided do they wouldn't get tangled in the woods. His backpack was bigger and he also carried a shield on his back. Quart also intended to travel light. He had the clothese on his back, a short sword strapped to his waist and a small satchel with his hunting tools. Eeny at least didn't feel left out wearing pants and a simple shirt, even if it was silk, and she carried a bag with money, food for at least 3 days and her spare clothes. Sansan also wore pants, topped with a short dress and her everpresent wide-brimmed hat and cape. She carried her wand though Eeny had never seen her use it before. Her backpack contained extra clothes, more food, cutlery and a length of rope. 
King Ishidor welcomed the guests and said: "Tonight you can stay here and tomorrow a royal guard will escort you to the forest. After that, I'm sorry to say you'll have to venture out on your own." 
The queen behind him let out a tiny sob, managing to not burst into tears. Hugging her, the royal couple took their leave and left the party-members to get acquainted. By now all of them had been riefed on the prophecies.
"I don't like that talk of sacrifice." Deux said, "It makes us sound like lambs being led to the slaughter."
"It also says it's a bet, which makes me feel we can get out alive." Sansan said, ever the optimist.
"Do you know about this Dark Spire, Quart?" Nill asked.
"I don't." he answered, "But it might be cloaked."
"Or hidden like the faery realm." Deux added, "The forest hides a lot from human eyes."
"You would know." Sansan said, "What's the Dwarf kingdom like?"
Deux laughed loudly, "I'm sworn not to tell, but I bet you'll find it one day."
"I will certainly try."
"What are your thoughts, Princess?" Nill asked.
"You can call me Eeny, we're all in the same boat anyway. I don't know. I don't even know what to expect from tracking, let alone the big quest. But strangely I'm not afraid. Just calm."
"Being calm is good in the face of danger, but don't be fools you two, if it gets bad, run, hide and let us fight." Nill lectured, "It's a help to us too if we know you're safe and away from danger."
"Let's head to bed and rise early. Quart mentioned he wanted to leave at dawn." Deux added.
They wished each other good night and went to their respective chambers.

5. Venturing into the forest
Quart breathed in a large gulp of air and almost tasted the different trails in it. There was the scent of rich forest soil, just a hint of pineneedles and composting leaves, and a faint alcohol from berries that had fallen now that autumn was turning into winter. Soft birdsongs and the scurrying of small animal feet rang faintly in his ears. Quart loved the forest and immediately felt at home. But work had to be done. Opening his eyes he scanned the forest for signs. They were very close to the town the troll had been sighted in and now it was up to him to pick up it's trail. 
Honestly, going after a troll with 2 fighters, a tracker and 2 palace girls, even if one of them could use fire magic, felt like suicide. But he'd been unable to refuse since he'd understood the princess would go on this quest regardless. And refusing a request from Nill had been nearly impossible as well. After all she'd one day helped him significantly when the deer-trail he'd been tracking led him to a bandit hideout. That place had been magnifically concealed and he'd learned quite a few new tricks from him. But without Nill he'd never would have made it out alive.
Suddenly his eye fell on a small disturbance of leaves and broken twigs. It was amazing how little trail the troll had left considering it's size, but maybe the villagers had been so frightened the troll had appeared larger in their eyes. Quart decided to take a closer look.
"Over there." he said and started walking.
Deux followed and sniffed, "That is troll stench."
"You can smell them?"
"I can. The prophecy did ask for a tracker. And I don't mind the male company." Deux explained.
Quart shrugged and checked out the trail, "It's well used."
"Must be with this much stench."
"But the troll is small."
"Don't underestimate the small ones. They can be just as vicious. A lack of prey might have brought it out to the town and a hungry troll is twice as dangerous."
Nill joined them and said: "Quart can take the front, Deux takes the back and I'll be in the middle protecting the girls. That seems like the most logical set-up anyway. Anyone got suggestions?""
"Works for me." Deux said, and Quart shook his head.

They'd followed the trail all day, keeping a steady pace as Quart looked for disturbances in the plants and Deux kept his nose ready for hidden trails. The troll had put up quite a few of these and a couple of times they came to a dead end where the troll had backtracked. 
As light began to fade, they made camp.
"This is where it gets dangerous." Nill announced.
"Why?" Eeny asked.
"Trolls petrify in sunlight. So during the day they're either harmless or hiding in a cave or den. But at night they're free to roam. We don't know just how far away it's den is. If we're close the chance of an attack is more than likely." Deux said. 
"Then what?" Eeny asked.
"We set it on fire!" Sansan called.
"We set guards, is what we do." Nill announced. Two awake at all times."
"Wouldn't one be enough so the others could rest?" Eeny asked.
"We need one to keep the troll at bay and one to rouse the others." Nill said, "That's assuming one of us alone is enough to keep the troll at bay for a short time at least."
Quart spoke up, "I've used this place before. We're surrounded by dense growth or stone wall except for the entrance that acts as a funnel. One person should be enough."
"On the other hand, if the troll gets in, there's no way out." Deux observed.
"If the troll is weak to sunlight, I can try to blind it." Sansan offered.
"Do you smell troll in here, Deux?'" Nill asked.
"Then we assume it doesn't know this place. First watch will be me and Eeny. Second watch Deux and Sansan, Third watch will be me and Quart. Sounds fine?"
Deux grudgingly agreed and took up a sleeping room close to the entrance, making sure the two girls slept near the mountain wall. 

6. Evil's perception
Itsutsu woke as the sun went down and night fell on the forest. Immediately he felt the presence of the five intruders. They were close but not upon him, meaning his decoy trails had done their work. The failed raid two nights ago was bound to have a consequence so he wasn't surprised. Maybe the small number of hunters was cause of some puzzlement, but Itsutsu didn't linger on the details. 
Stretching his bunched-up body, he silently crawled out of the crag he'd petrified in, blending in seamlessly with the surroundings. The forest seemed to hold it's breath as birds and other creatures grew silent. Most nocturnal animals knew better than to make a noise in his vicinity. With winter fast approaching a lot of animals were going into hibernation anyway, meaning slim pickings for the troll. 
Feeling the hunger pull, Itsutsu followed the scent of humans, spiced with something unfamiliar and made his way closer to the party of heroes. Making a statement never hurt. Maybe he'd leave one to flee... or maybe he'd just throw a part out of the forest into the meadows. Wasting food was such a sad thing to do after all. But he'd never been fond of headmeat and could probably spare one of them as warning not to mess with him.
Coming to the entrance of the camping ground, Itsutsu sniffed. 4 humans and something else, something more pungent and older. Also some stench of magic, but faint, nothing to be afraid of. Itsutsu had difficulty getting a read on the scents but blamed the pungent smell of the unknown being for that. It was unlikely that the humans had animals with them so it must belong to some of the other humanoid races. Elf maybe, or beastman. Certainly not an undead. Itsutsu had come across those before so he'd know their scent. 
Listening carefully he picked up 2 different voices. Rather highpitched. Females? or Juveniles? The latter seemed unlikely. Itsutsu's mouth started the water at the thought of female meat. That usually was more tender and fat. Though if the females were warriors it wouldn't differ much. 
He crept inside, intent on listening more so he'd get a better read on the situation when a sudden burst of light blinded him and awoke the sleeping humans.
Nill jumped to her feet, "What happened?" she yelled, Deux immediately right beside her, axe in hand.
"Sansan was that you?" Deux hollered.
"No", her sleepy reply came.
"It was the witch's crystal." Eeny replied at the same time, "It's supposed to cloak and heal."
Before more could be said, Itsutsu was upon them. Using his ears and nose to make up for his diminished sight, he lashed out at the first prey he got close to. His claws scraped metal and as the witch's crystal's power waned he clearly detected he was up against a dwarf. They weren't tasty, having a bitter aftertaste to them, but this one possibly posed the biggest threat so he needed to be taken out.
"Sansan, light the place!" Deux yelled, "After that flash I need light to see."
Sansan spoke an incantaction and two balls of flame appeared in her hands. The glow was soft but enough to see by. The troll was bigger than they'd have expected by it's trail and it was immediately clear to Nill and Quart that they'd not make it. Quart looked around as Nill took up a stance next to Deux. Sansan was concentrating, seeming about ready to fling one of the flaming balls to the troll though it wouldn't do much damage. Eeny was holding a dagger at the ready, but again that would not do damage. But behind them something had changed. 
"There's a tunnel!". Quart hissed to the girls, "Follow me!"
Looking back over his shoulder he yelled at Nill and Deux, "Fall back! Tunnel!" and hoped the troll would not be able to fit through the passage.

Itsutsu screeched as the axe hit him. His hide was not yet pierced, but he'd be bruised and battered. Not that it mattered, he'd kill the dwarf for sure. The angry human female trying to stab him with a sword was less of a threat but she was annoying enough as she sometimes found a more tender spot to stab at. 
Using his brute strength to ram the dwarf, Itsutsu was met with more metal. Deux had wrangled his shield free and it now hung in between the the troll and the tunnel that had appeared magically when Sansan had created the light. If she'd been allowed to make the fire as she'd suggested, they might have discovered it before. Nill didn't fancy going down a tunnel without knowing where it led but it was there only option. Letting her eyes adjust to the darkness again, she asked Deux:
"Can you hold of the troll as best you can? I'll lead you through the tunnel."
"I've a better shot at it than you." he told her which she grudgingly had to admit was true.
Step by step they fell back, following the tunnel to wherever it lead.

7. The dark spire
Sansan lit the way, pointing a floating light orb to hover right in front of Quart as ventured out. The tunnel was narrow but not claustrofobic. Which was maybe a bad thing as it looked that the troll might be able to follow them. But the air wasn't stale which meant there'd probably be an exit somewhere down the road.
"We're going up again." Eeny noticed.
"Maybe we're nearing the exit." Sansan said, thinking it better lead to somewhere safe.
Behind them they could hear the troll advancing. The clang of metal on stone and the calls rang through the air. Muffled by the turns they'd taken but not that far away. 
"I could wait and cast that bright light." Sansan offered.
"No." Quart said, "Maybe when we've cleared the tunnel."
"Remember Nill told us to keep ourselves safe." Eeny added. 
"Hey! I see stars!" Sansan exclaimed.
Quart nodded and led them out into the night air. Looking closely he decided to take the girls left of the entrance where some boulders had fallen, sheltering the area and providing some cover.
"Hide there and hit the troll with the light when it leaves the tunnel." Quart instructed them as he went back to the tunnel entrance, sure that by now Nill and Deux would be exhausted. Fighting with the short sword would put him at a disadvantage though. But maybe he'd have enough time to create a diversion. 

Left alone, Eeny looked around, trying to help while Sansan concentrated on the tunnel and Quart. It was only then that Eeny noticed the tall, thin building standing only a about a 100 metres away. It was constructed from a dark stone and seemed to sprout from the forest and mountains like a huge stem. There were no windows or doors to be seen but this could only be the dark spire they were instructed to find. 
"Sansan." She called.
"What? I need to focus here, it's a big spell." Sansan called.
"I've found the spire."
"Oh hell....What do we have to sacrifice again?"
"Power and virtue fair." Eeny reminded her friend, "but I have no clue how to do that."
"I can zap it with a fireball." Sansan suggested.
"That seems to be your answer for everything."
"Hey, they're pretty powerful."
At that moment Nill plunged from the tunnel, Deux only a hair's breath behind her. Quart had crawled higher and pushed with all his might at a boulder, hoping to trap the troll or even kill the troll by dropping it in front of the tunnel. Sadly his attempt failed and the troll broke free of the tunnel, gaining the range of movement it needed to use it's brute force in the fight.

8. Of blood sacrifice and portals
Sansan cast her spell and a bright flash of light, mimicking the sun's strength, lit up the area. Eeny shielded her eyes, trying to get to one of the fighters to tell them about the spire. Quart, had gotten down from the mountain but was too far away. Nill was engaged in battle while Deux, who'd unfortunately looked up was blinded. The troll seemed to be stunned but not petrified as they'd hoped it would be.
Eeny ran toward Deux, tugging at him to follow her, "We need to lead it to the spire!" she called.
Getting out of his daze, Deux hurried behind her, calling for Nill to do the same while Quart threw his short sword like a dagger to distract the beast, hopping into the woods as quick he could to get away.
Itsutsu roared when he heard the voices of the tender female so close by and tried to follow her scent, still blinded from the fading fireball. The barrage of hits stopped as Nill also turned to run toward the spire. 
Getting closer, the tower loomed above them like a giant needle. The area around it seemed to be metal as the sound of their steps took on a strange clanging echo. Right before them was a single pedestal and an empty arch behind it, like those in the castle gardens to lead the rose bushes. 
Sansan had indeed started hurling her fireballs at the troll now that she had open ground and no-one was in close contact to the troll. They appeared to do some damage, but the fire mage was tiring fast after the drain on her power by that great light spell. Deux had recovered his sight and closed in to fight again, only to be struck by the troll in the head. He fell down, his bloody nose touching the ground.
Eeny felt a shift in the air. A whisper of sorts seeming to call for more.
"Sansan! Hit the pedestal with a fireball." she called, hoping it was enough, meanwhile taking out the small dagger she'd taken and cutting the palm of her hand, letting the blood drip on the metal plating below their feet.
A wind picked up and whispers seemed to be around them. Nill didn't notice, focused as she was to take on the troll while Deux recovered his footing. Stabbing and retreating she hoped to lead the troll away. The troll lunged, pushing her and it through the opened arch portal...
Nill and the troll vanished suddenly. Deux called out and rushed to the gate, as did Sansan, both being pulled in by the force of the magic. Eeny gasped, looking around and seeing Quart run for the portal.
"Stop! You don't know where it leads." she called, following him and grasping his jacket just as he took the first step and then they too were gone. Leaving the spire humming silently as it enjoyed it's sacrifice. 

Nill and Itsutsu portaled to Koshi Keidai
Eeny and Quart portaled to the Vella Crean
Deux and Sansan portaled to the Refugium

Stories continued on their individual pages.

Lantessama Isle