The Legend Edit
In the rugged north of what is now Scotland, there was once a troll named Red Rory. Though not as tall as most of his kith, he was easily as mighty and was known as much for his irascible temper and battle prowess as for his flaming red hair and beard. (He was also not as gruff and coarse as he wanted people to think, but that's another story.) Times being difficult, Rory began patrolling the rocky wastes between freeholds because their were few foes who could stand long against his notched claymore. It is said he even held a mountain pass against a human army all by himself, sending their heads rolling back down the pass to their companions below. Whether fact or fiction, his challenge of, "I'm Red Rory o' the mount! Send your best, an' I'll send back their heads!" was usually enough to cause even the most arrogant warrior to choose another route.
The Battle Edit
One grey, misty morning, a fair troll by the name of Moira the Mountain came to Blood Pass (as it was now known). Red Rory gave his challenge, forbidding passage. Whether because she had pressing business or because of her obstinate nature, Moira refused to make the longer hike and accepted the challenge in a voice nearly as loud and booming as his. She shouldered her hill axe and went to meet the impediment to her travel.
When Rory saw the Lowland ogress, he smiled, liking what he saw. "Give me a kiss, an' I'll let you pass," he said with a leer. Moira just snarled and the battle was joined. As good as Rory was with his claymore, Moira was a match with her axe. The battle raged, favoring Rory at one moment and Moira the next. They were evenly matched, though, and neither could gain the upper hand. Travel by the pass was stopped for two days as they fought, both refusing surrender or to stand aside for other travelers to pass by. News travelled to the nearby freeholds and curious fae gathered to watch.
On the fifth day, it became clear that neither troll could best the other. Moira withdrew a step and shouldered her axe. Rory, imagining a trap, eyed her warily. With a sly grin, Moira asked if he still wanted that kiss, for he was surely a worthy man if any was. Rory laughed as he closed and embraced his former opponent. It is said the kiss he gave her warms the pass even to this day.
No two were ever a better match, no matter what the sidhe say about their own love stories. Rory and Moira were the mightiest warriors the land had seen in some time. Few could match or challenge them. Sometimes their moods would become dark and they would bicker, but they never came to blows again, as they knew it was futile.
The Tuatha Trod Edit
It was during this time, the Sundering, that the trods began to grow more and more dangerous. As lesser paths closed, malevolent creatures of the Dreaming started frequenting the remaining trods. Moira had heard that one in particular, the Tuatha Trod, once a veritable highway between the northern lands and Arcadia, had become so dangerous that none who set foot to it ever returned. She told her mate this, and the two set out. The trod's dark reputation, a warning to others, was seen as a challenge to the two. Weapons ready, they stepped through the portal.
For many weeks, nothing more was heard of the two. Watchers had been posted in the hopes the pair would return but none really expected it to happen. As mighty as Rory and Moira were, the way to the deeper Dreaming had grown so perilous that none expected them to succeed.
When at last the portal opened, the watchers left to their feet, expecting an attack of foul chimera. What greeted their eyes was even more frightening, if more welcome, than any other. Rory and Moira stumbled through, covered in blood and ichor, their famous weapons notched as if from weeks of constant battle. With a roguish smile, Rory announced that the Tuatha Trod was safe again. Then he and his wife (for truly they were so matched none could dispute this) collapsed into well-deserved unconsciousness.
Patrolling Trods Edit
Once recovered, the two took it upon themselves to patrol the worsening trods. In time, though, even these two couldn't keep the terrified sidhe from closing them; they started guarding the ones still used instead. Parties of nobles, returning to Arcadia lest they be cut off forever, constantly entreated the two to accompany them. All payment was refused, save provisions for the road (which is no small thing for two troll appetites).
Patrolling Trods Edit
For years, Rory and Moira, successfully ferried the frail and frightened sidhe to Arcadia until only Silver's Gate remained. The last of the sidhe readied themselves for the journey. Of course, Rory and Moira were with them for even such a large group of sidhe would not turn down their guardianship.
When at last Silver's Gate closed, none expected to ever see the two trolls again. For ages, this was the case. Only in the past several generations, since the Resurgence, have rumors of their continued existence surfaced. Haggard nobles, returning from Arcadia and still subject to the Mists, recounted tales of nightmare realms and horrible dangers. Almost to a one, though, they spoke of mysterious rescuers who bore a striking resemblance to Rory and Moira. At first, such tales were discounted, but their consistency and sheer number have lent credibility to them that is difficult to ignore. Tales continue to circulate about the aged duo, still serving as the unrelenting guardians of the trods and near Dreaming. Who can say they are not true?
Whether still patrolling old trods or merely serving as an exemplary legend, Red Rory and Moira the Mountain are still very much alive in the tales and rumors of today. The Seelie knight and his Unseelie thane-bride are renowned as honorable but gruff. The twin bellows of their challenges were the announcement of the calvary, come to rescue any waylaid traveler of fae blood.