Happy Friday, all! I hope you’re enjoying these world-building stories, and I especially hope you’re not lost in all the names yet (though perhaps that would be desirable…) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this piece!
Endremzo sat quietly on a rock, whetting his father’s sword in preparation for what he was about to do. The blade must be sharp as a razor, honed finer than a the hair of a woman. He had to take down a troll.
The troll had been there for many years, probably a decade. It had been undisturbed, and found plenty of prey among the wildlife of the region, plenty of gold in the deep shafts of the mountains. But then the war with Lanuman over the mountains had gone ill, and that nation had manged to push the soldiers of Morbaren back, where they set fire to the forest and ruined the troll’s mountain.
Desperate, the troll had searched for new prey, and found it among the the villages at the feet of the mountains; and there was plenty of gold to be found there as well. Even as the kings of Lanuman, Morbaren, and Miris signed a cease-fire, the troll first struck, decimating a poor village and robbing it of its little wealth. After that, it had struck twice more, and now Endremzo had stepped in to deal with the perpetrator.
Most people were surprised when he declared his intention to kill the troll of the Crivo Vale. After all, he was young, and his late father had never given him proper training in the use of the sword. But Endremzo ignored them, sure that his skill would be sufficient and his father’s blade sharp.
So now he sat at the edge of one of the ravished villages, whetting his blade and looking into the wilderness, just in case the troll appeared too early. Of course, he would prefer the troll not to appear at all in this place – he intended to face it in its lair.
He stood up and, taking a thick tree branch, slashed down with the sword. The blade cut through the branch as easily as if it had been parchment. Endremzo nodded grimly in satisfaction, and turned to the rest of his gear.
For this fight he would wear only light armor. In fact, aside from his sword, the only metal he would wear was his helmet and his shield. There was really no point in carrying any more, not when speed was essential against such a brutish creature. Armor would only make him an easy target for the slow, heavy weapons of the troll. He really only needed something to protect him from cuts and scrapes. He flung his satchel over his back, and he was ready.
Thus arrayed, he marched out into the wilderness. The crickets chirped in the bushes, and the birds called in the air, amidst the trees. Sure, a portion of this forest had been burned, but the largest damage was to the east, closer to the troll’s home. Endremzo expected he would find more birds there, though, since they were one of the few creatures a troll could never catch.
The forest opened up to an ashen plane, where stood the black skeletons of trees, and logs scattered about the ground. Among them was a great displacement of rock and stone from the mountains high above, great while pillars of earth jutting up to high heaven. And at their base, right near the place where the avalanche had been the worst, was a large hole in the mountain, black and uninviting. It was at least twice as tall as Endremzo, though he stayed well away from it. It smelled of something repugnant – Endremzo had no desire to find what was causing the smell, and hoped it wasn’t the troll. He doubted that he could face a creature that carried that vileness with it.
Nevertheless, he stood defiant before the lair. He mustered his courage, and called into it with a loud voice.
“Troll! Troll of the Valley, come out! I am Endremzo, son of Rodemso, and I have come to purge you from these lands and return it to the peace it once enjoyed! Will you suffer my challenge?”
For a moment there was no answer. Then, he heard huge footsteps. Out of the lair stepped forth a horrid creature. It’s skin was grey, like stone, with similar texture. It had small legs, and long, thick, arms ending in thick fingers that clutched a large, crude hammer. It’s head was more hideous, jutting out from its body like an ape. It had long fangs, some of them broken, and eyes like that of a boar, and also yellow and menacing. These eyes turned on Endremzo as the troll came into view, and the troll laughed.
“Ha! Well, Endremzo son of Rodemso, know that I have slain many a boy your age in the villages below. What makes you think that you will succeed where they did not?”
“Nothing at all,” Endremzo replied. “But they died fleeing a relentless terror, while I stand and fight it head on.”
“Courage is of little use against such powers as I.”
“We shall see.”
He charged forward, pointing his sword at the heart of his enemy. The troll swung its hammer at him, but he rolled to the side to avoid it. Thus began their fight. The troll hardly moved the whole time, merely turning this way and that as Endremzo scampered about him like a stalking wolf, avoiding the strikes of its trapped prey until it can pounce at last. There were many close misses with the hammer, and several times where Endremzo’s shield or helmet saved him from serious injury.
What became apparent to him as the fight wore on was that the troll slowly became angrier and angrier with his lack of success at killing the pesky fly buzzing around him, waiting to sting. Sure, sometimes he nearly hit, but then the fly sprang up just as vigorously as it had before. And as the troll got angry, it got reckless.
Perhaps it would be too much to say that Endremzo came to the fight planning to enrage the troll, but if he did not, he certainly knew to take advantage of it now. He called out insults, laughing at the troll for its failures.
But things did not go quite according to plan, whatever Endremzo had intended for the battle. Perceiving an opportunity, he lunged forward, only for the troll’s left hand to come crushing down on him. Its fingers closed around him and pulled him up, so that they were eye-to-eye with one another.
“I suppose there is no difference between you and the lads in the village,” said the troll triumphantly.
“Only that you perceive,” replied Endremzo, before he thrust his sword into the troll’s chest.
The troll cried out, dropping Endremzo. And then, after a moment’s wavering, it fell on top of him as well.
It was a few moments before he could free himself from the troll’s corpse. By the time he did, he was covered in dark blood, and his nose had become numb to everything save the necrotic stench of his nemesis. He still clutched his sword tightly, and looked down on his enemy. He was about to swing down on the troll’s head to bring it to the villages as a testament, but then he realized something else: the blade had broken. It must have snapped off in the troll’s chest as it landed on him.
Oh, well, thought Endremzo. It was an old blade, after all, and the hilt would be worth keeping for future lines in his family. He looked at the troll’s lair, where laid a fortune of gold. He just hoped there was a sword in there too.