Part Two: Troll’s Earth
Selebriar slid silently off the tree branch he had been perched on, and calmly followed the two boys through the trees, taking care to remain unseen while making sure neither came close to serious harm. He had promised Bershond to look after his son, after all. He watched bemusedly from a distance as Drake tried to tackle Krish, only to land in a pile of rotting leaves as the jeering boy danced out of the way. The two then disappeared again further into the forest. Selebriar felt compelled to interfere; but then again, it would make Drake look weak if he couldn’t solve his own problems.
The two boys burst through the edge of the forest ahead of Selebriar, and he noticed that the landscape around them was barren. Fewer trees, more large boulders, dry and cracked earth…Troll country, he realized with a start. The Elf started to run, cursing under his breath and calling for the boys to stop; but they were already far out of his reach.
Krish halted, bent over with his hands on his knees, out of breath but somehow still laughing. Drake came up behind him, attempted to push him over but collapsed instead. He got back up unsteadily and sat down heavily on a nearby rock, breathing heavily. ‘You…shield… Give me back…my shield.’ Krish glanced up, and tossed the shield towards Drakendrar. It hit the rock, sending a sharp metallic sound echoing across the forlorn landscape. Drake winced. ‘That was…rather loud…’
Orcs stepped out from behind boulders that seemed impossible to step out from behind. There were about half a dozen of them. One of the boulders unfolded itself, turning out to be a ten-foot-tall stone troll. It reached down and picked up a boy in each hand, before either had a chance to react. The apparent leader of the snarling, green-grey creatures, distinguished from its ram-skull helmet, sneered up at them. ‘Little lost lambs, wandering so far from the flock,’ it mused, in a strangely intelligent voice.
Suddenly, its attention turned from the captives as it cocked its head slightly to one side. Its ears twitched, and a slow grin spread across its face. ‘Come out, come out, master Elf. We know you stand nearby,’ it croaked, apparently to no-one in particular.
There was a pause. Then Selebriar appeared to materialize out of nowhere, an arrow notched and pointed at ram-skull.
‘Release them’, he hissed. Ram-skull made a gurgling noise, which might have been laughter.
‘Shoot me, and Grolt here will crush their puny skulls’.
‘Dat’s me’, rumbled Grolt the troll in helpful tones. Selebriar hesitated, then slowly lowered his bow, glaring over-exaggeratedly at ram-skull.
‘Bind their hands’, the leader commanded. Two Orcs tied the boys’ wrists together with brittle rope. Two more came up behind Selebriar, who reluctantly let his wrists be bound.
They were marched across the cracked earth, with ram-skull and Grolt in the front and the rest in the back. One of the Orcs was carrying Drake’s shield.
Krish wouldn’t stop staring at Selebriar. ‘An Elf’, he kept mumbling absently. ‘But…But then, all the stories…They were all of them true…’ A sharp prod with a pointy stick from one of the Orcs shut him up.
‘I wonce met ‘n Elf’, rumbled Grolt conversationally. ‘Was delishous’.