Once they’d left their horses, the trio began to jog through the forest at high speed. Their long days of training giving them the stamina they needed to move quickly and silently through the nearly impassible thick brush and woods.
It was that silence that first let them hear the troll.
A distant cracking sound, like trees being felled, and the cries of birds rising up into the thick air of the late summer afternoon. After they’d heard it, Thorin sent Myra up a nearby tree, which the wood-elf girl leapt up into with fluid grace, jumping from branch to branch.
She was down moments later, letting herself drop to the ground in front of them without making a sound.
“It’s east of us,” she confirmed. “Moving toward the settlement. We can out-pace it with little difficulty.”
Thorin nodded. “Good. Now that we know where it is, we can steer clear of it.”
“Steer clear of it?” Feena looked at him, surprised. “Why would we do that? It’s big. It’s slow. And, we know where it is. I say we ambush it.”
Thorin looked at her, wide-eyed. “But our orders…”
“Our orders are to keep that thing from hurting those farmers, and we can do that a lot better if we take it down.”
“Uhhh,” Thorin rubbed the back of his short red hair. “I don’t know…”
Myra nodded. “Sister, you are being reckless. We cannot defeat a troll. We are not experienced enough.”
Feena snorted. “It’s a troll! Big, stupid and slow. We just need to put a couple arrows in it. If it looks tougher than we thought, we can retreat, but we’ve still slowed it down- maybe made it change it’s mind about the farm. But if we succeed…hey…we’ve got us a troll! Think about the look on their faces when we tell Hastur that! No more kiddie-table for us!”
Myra looked at Thorin. “You are the leader of this cell, and it is your decision. But, I advise caution.”
Thorin made a grunting noise. “Crap…” Feena made it sound so easy, and as he thought about it, it could work…Should he do it?
After a moment’s thought, he made his decision.
“Okay, let’s try it.”
After all, what could go wrong?
Thorin dived to the side, avoiding the powerful club-axe as it splintered the trunk of the tree behind him, and continued on out the other side. The mighty tree fell around him, but Thorin managed to scramble out of the troll’s reach- for the moment.
As he watched, Feena ran past, a hunting knife in each hand as the short and solidly built girl leapt up into the air with a feral scream and tried to bury the knives in the troll’s lower back. But, the troll was already moving, and where his back had been was now a mighty fist swinging around at Feena with surprising speed. Thorin saw the ranger girl bring her arms up just in time to absorb the blow as it struck her, and then it sent her arcing back and out into the forest.
Thorin was on his feet in a moment, running as fast as he could away from the deadly giant. As he ran, he scanned the forest for Myra, but saw no sign of the elf until he heard the troll scream again.
Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that Myra had alighted on one of the trees above the troll and was raining arrows down on the angry beast. The arrows still weren’t even getting close to it, but they did act as a distraction, which Thorin knew was exactly what Myra was giving them. She was faster and more able to elude the beast than her human partners, so she made the perfect one to keep it occupied.
With this in mind, Thorin dashed in the direction he’d seen Feena fly. If she was hurt, he needed to get to her while the troll was still chasing Myra.
He found Feena pulling herself out of a thicket, and looking none the worse for wear. She smiled when she saw him coming.
“You seen my knife? I lost it when that rock hit me.”
Thorin shook his head. Sometimes he wondered what this girl was made of.
“We need to get out of here,” he told her. “Myra will try to lead it away, but it might come back.”
Feena sneered. “Ain’t you worried about your precious “sister”?”
“She’s not the one with rocks in her head.”
“I say we take another whack at it,” Feena said. “We’ve seen what it can do, we try and take it down.”
Thorin and Myra looked at the girl in disbelief.
“Sister, I believe your course of action is reckless.” Myra said, in as direct a manner as the stoic girl ever got. “We failed in our previous attempt because of the troll’s magic, and any further attempts are also likely to have similar results.”
“It’s that necklace,” Feena answered, and held up her knife. “Let me get it off him, and you can fill him with arrows.”
“We cannot be sure of that,” Myra shook her head. “Magic comes in many forms, he may even have a forest spirit aiding him that we cannot see. We are not trained for this, and we should return to our original mission. Do you not agree, brother?”
Both of them looked at Thorin, who looked away.
“I…” He hesitated. “I don’t know…”
“Some leader your are,” Feena spat. “You forget how to use your brain and your bow?”
Thorin just stared at the ground, turning red.
“It is not an easy decision,” Myra said, moving to stand beside him. “We must consider all the options carefully.”
“Yeah, I…” Thorin said, thinking as quickly as he could. “I think we can…” Then he steeled himself, forcing his words past his inner doubts. “I think we have to do both.”
“What?” The other two looked at him in surprise.
He’d started it, Thorin decided, so now was the time to follow through. “We need to warn the farmers, and slow down the troll so they have time to evacuate. If we don’t, the farmers might not have enough time to get away.”
Then he looked at his Elfen sister. “Myra, you need to go to warn them. You’re faster than either of us, and we’re just slowing you down.”
“But…” It was the Elf girl’s turn to hesitate. “They may not believe me…”
Humans had a love-hate relationship with Elves, and this had caused Myra quite a bit of trouble in the past.
But Thorin shook his head, “Just show them your colors and your badge, they’ll believe you.”
“Yeah points,” Feena put in. “If they don’t, just threaten to shoot them yourself. That’s what I’d do to get them moving.”
Thorin rolled his eyes, but said “Well, you might not want to go that far, but do what you need to do to make them believe you.”
“Will you not need me here, to help?” Myra looked him in the eyes, “I am the best archer among us.”
Again, Thorin shook his head. “We’ll manage. You just need to get going and warn them. Okay?”
At last, the Elfen ranger agreed, and Thorin watched her depart with only a single worried glance back.
Then he looked at Feena.
“How sure are you about the necklace?”
“Does a bear crap in the woods?”
He considered it. They had two options really- attack, or try to lure it into a trap. The problem was there wasn’t enough time to make a trap that would stop something that big, at least not a conventional trap…
“You have a plan?” He said.
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