Sorry for skipping a week, I got busy taking care of my household and am finding it a bit hard to consistently post something every week, partially due to having only intermittent internet (long story). On that note I want to make a few brief announcements before continuing to the next episode.
First, I'm thinking about switching to a blog post once a month or every two weeks rather than once a week. I will decide how often I wish to be blogging and announce the new blog schedule at the end of the year.
Also, I am close to the end of part 1 of Quests so I am going to use October and November to finish posting part 1, take a break in December for Advent and the early part of the Christmas Season, and resume with Quests part 2 sometime after New Year's.
That said, we now return to our regularly scheduled story...
Read the series prologue.
Read episode ten.
Episode Eleven: Dawn’s Curse
“They didn’t make it. Turned to stone. Stupid elves!”
Fedrick had realized long ago that Felnar babbled when she was nervous or scared. Still, he found her incoherent rambling irritating.
“Felnar, slow down and tell me what you’re talking about,” he demanded.
“The stinking elves made some of us trolls stay out when the sun came up,” said Felnar, “So the ones who were outside turned to stone. I barely made it back to my cave on time. I almost died!”
“Elves?” said Fedrick in confusion. “I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The elves didn’t want us to hunt unicorns, they want us to starve!” Felnar explained. “So they tried to turn us all to stone. It worked on few of us too!”
“When did elves get involved? I think there’s more to this story. Calm yourself down and tell me what happened, the whole story, starting when you began hunting in Fairy Wood.”
“Okay,” said Felnar after taking a deep breath. “But I warn you, it’s not a good story.”
“Just tell me,” Fedrick replied.
So Felnar told Fedrick the tale of the troll’s terrible adventure of the past night.
The previous night Felnar had joined a larger hunting party of trolls making their way to Fairy Wood. Her mouth watered at the thought of the fresh unicorn meat on which they would soon feast. As the rocky heights of the foothills gave way to the tall trees and tangled undergrowth of the woods, the trolls crouched low and sniffed the ground until they picked up the scent of unicorn.
It did not take them long to spot a large herd. They spread out and stalked forward, hoping to surround their prey and bring them down quickly. A tiny breeze stirred the leaves and carried the smell of trolls to the nose of a large male unicorn. He tossed his head in fright and whinnied a warning to the rest of the herd. The unicorns reacted immediately, stampeding into the depths of the forest with the trolls in hot pursuit.
Felnar’s mind was so filled with thoughts of juicy unicorn meat that she didn’t notice the gnome on the head of the lead unicorn until he shouted, “Split up!” Then everything became total chaos. It was hard for Felnar to understand what happened, even afterward.
When the gnome shouted, the unicorns split into several factions, each veering off in a different direction. The trolls in the lead stopped in confusion. Felnar and a few others bumped into them before they could stop themselves, and they all fell in a heap. While they were still trying to get to their feet, a number of strange noises came out of the woods around them and a shower of stones and pine cones fell on their heads. The trolls ducked into the underbrush until the confusion ceased.
A troll patriarch yelled, “Split up and see if you can catch any of the unicorns.” The hunting party hurried to obey. Felnar’s group went after the portion of the unicorn herd the gnome had joined. As they tracked the unicorns Felnar couldn’t help but wish she could catch the gnome. She would make him pay for messing up their hunting! The trolls ran a long distance and used their claws to climb through a ravine before they spotted the unicorns.
“Try to surround them,” said one of the trolls. “We’ll back them off the ledge and then have easy pickings.”
The trolls fanned out and, despite the gnome’s directions to them, the unicorns were soon backing toward the drop. Felnar was pleased by the knowledge that the gnome would probably fall to his death along with the unicorns he was trying to protect. She grinned at the thought as she moved closer with the rest of her hunting party.
The unicorns were only a few feet from the edge, when the trolls noticed an elf with short black hair on the other side of the gorge. They noticed her because she yelled something. Felnar didn’t know what the elf shouted. Perhaps it was an elvish curse. Then the elf jumped out over the chasm. Felnar watched in mild fascination, thinking the elf incredibly stupid since she would surely fall. In the next second the elf cleared the gap and crashed into the trolls. The she kicked Felnar hard in the jaw, knocking the troll to the ground. Gripped with a sudden fear of this elf, who could seemingly fly, Felnar scrambled to her feet and hurried after the other trolls as they scattered in terror.
Once Felnar had calmed down a bit she realized that she was alone. In her panic she had gotten separated from the other members of her party. Just as she was getting worried, she ran into a hobgoblin. He had his face in his hands and was sobbing. Felnar approached him cautiously, wondering if the elves had attacked him too. Finally she worked up enough courage to ask, “What’s wrong?”
The hobgoblin dropped his hands, stopped crying and answered, “I can’t remember.”
They stared at each other for a minute before the hobgoblin said, “I’m Glibbin, what’s your name?”
She told him, then asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Playing,” said Glibbin. “What are you doing?”
“I was hunting,” Felnar replied. “But the elves and fairies ruined everything!”
“They probably didn’t mean to.”
“Yes they did. They tried to kill me!”
“They’re not so bad once you get to know them,” said Glibbin.
“I can’t get to know them!” Felnar squeaked. “If I get too close to them I’ll die!”
“They can’t be that bad. Hey, do you want to play with me?”
“I can’t. I have to get home before the elves find me or the sun rises.”
“You better hurry,” Glibbin commented glancing at the sky. “The sun will come up pretty soon.”
Felnar also looked at the sky and suddenly realized that it was getting lighter.
“Oh no!” she squealed and dashed in the direction of her cave as fast as she could go.
As she ran, Felnar joined other trolls who had also realized how early it was and were trying to make it back to their caves. The trolls were nearly out of the forest when a few elves stepped into their path. Some of the trolls screamed and veered away from the main group. Others snarled and charged the elves, clawing and biting their way past them. Felnar stayed close to these fighters, deciding that was safest. Finally, the small group made it to the entrance of the underground city. They ran inside just as the sun appeared on the edge of the horizon. Felnar and those with her moved into the shadows of the cave where they were safe from the rays of the sun. A terrible shrieking from just outside told them that many trolls were not so fortunate. The sound was so horrible that Felnar covered her ears. In a few short minutes it was over. It was clear that many trolls from the hunting party had been petrified by the coming of the dawn.
Distressed by the loss of some of her troll friends, Felnar wandered the city babbling incoherently until she found Fedrick. As she told him the story, Felnar realized with a shiver that she could easily have been one of those turned to stone had she not been so fast. She knew that the trolls’ hunt of the unicorns in Fairy Wood was over for good.
Continue to episode twelve.