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Studies in Shadow...from the team at Archimedes Presse
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

TROLL RAID, part 2 by Carol Marrs PhippsTom Phipps


Troll Raid


Warning... keep a child close by to hold your hand!

Carol's & Tom's Fantasy Blog

In less than an hour the austringas, clad in black spiked leather with their claymores across their backs, assembled in the square astride their short legged Doolish unicorns, holding onto leashes fastened to the jesses on the legs of their restless shawkyn spooghey. "We go this morrow to feed our bond-mates troll flesh!" cried Olloo, as he drew forth his claymore with a ring. At once the entire squad bolted away into the dark with the red glow of dawn at their backs.

Through the Great Strah they charged, big blue stem grass waving above their heads in the growing light, Dooleys at full gallop with the giant black crested white falcons impatiently idling along at their sides, keenly anxious for the big kill ahead. Flushed larks tinkled, soaring high into the sky from the ground here and there along the way. By broad daylight, the Maidenhair Woods rose up ahead once again. The austringas dismounted their lathered and winded Dooleys and left them with jockeys as they hurried into the woods on foot with their strike falcons. Through the timber they went, softening the falcons' movements with shushed encouragements.

At the edge of the clearing below the cave they found Yn Armee in the broad daylight, sitting dead silent in the maidenhair ferns on either side of their assembled trebuchet, its gigantic boom drawn back with a huge petard in its sling and fastened with a trip. In the ferns nestled two more petards, ready if needed. The austringas and their strike falcons began carefully taking positions. Tramman and Jeelys took up a position safely to one side of the mouth of the cave while Obbree and his falcon, Aalid took the other side. Olloo and Baase found a position between the Cave and the trebuchet, with the remaining bond-mates scattered between. When they were settled, Olloo gave the signal and Yn Armee Hassooagh lit their petard and launched it at the mouth of the cave.

Right in. A bone-jarring explosion inside the cave thumped the ground all over the hillside. After a second's hesitation, muffled screams and shouts could be heard within, boiling over to echo through the woods as Elf Killers came running and stumbling out of the cave mouth, covered with bleeding cuts, led by Fnanar, the big male known to them as the Big Butcher, who had snatched the first child from Balley Cheerey. Jeelys and Aalid jumped him together, disemboweling him before he hit the ground. In less than a minute they had him thoroughly shredded. Jeelys gobbled down a piece of his windpipe and with a flutter of his stubby wings, knocked down another troll who was running by. Tramman and Obbree charged amongst the fleeing Marooderyn Imshee, cleaving head after head with furious two handed swings of their claymores as all the rest of the austringas, strike falcons and Yn Armee Hassooagh jumped into the fray.

Baase had just started making a kill as Olloo yanked back his claymore from a killing thrust he had just made. "Tramman!" he hollered as he turned to see Fnanar's brother Gnophn running for the brush at the edge of the clearing. "That one! Get him!"

Tramman turned and concentrated on Gnophn disappearing into the brush as he whistled for Jeelys, who streaked right to place in the brush where Gnophn had vanished and crashed out of sight. Tramman charged after, claymore in hand. In a few minutes, he and Jeelys returned to find the attack over.

"Did you manage to get him?" said Olloo, still catching his breath as he pulled out a rag to clean his blade.

"He got clean away," said Tramman.

"Did you recognize him?"

"Isn't he the other really big one who always turned up alongside Big Butcher?"

"I'm certain of it," he said as he started his sword into its scabbard. "Next time they attack, even if it's years from now, I'd lay odds he'll be the one leading them. Now I'm not taking you to task, Tramman. If anyone could have got him it would've been you or Jeelys, but it's right ill news all the same, him getting away."

Tramman drug his filthy blood spattered arm across his sweaty brow and looked out across the quiet carnage. To his elation, scores of the Marooderyn Imshee had fallen. At least this was some vengeance for the three children, and felling Fnanar first thing had certainly done away with their nightmarish might for the time being. However, he quickly saw others who wrenched his heart. They too, had lost many men, austringas and army alike. And they had lost the only two strike falcons he had seen killed in his entire ten years as an austringa. He hoped it had been worth the cost.    


That evening, after an eternity of twenty four hours, Inney heard sudden pounding footsteps and her bed being dragged aside overhead. She jerked upright, breathing in tight little gasps as her heart pounded in her ears. It was either over or this was her death coming. Suddenly the trapdoor was thrown back and light flooded into the cellar, blinding her to the silhouette who had just stepped into the light. She flung her arm across her face to shade her eyes, still unable to see.

"It is safe to come out now, Inney!" called Tramman as he came down a step. "They're gone and won't be coming back any time soon." He was elated, but he also had a strange tone to his voice.

"How can you be so sure?" said Inney, with the skepticism of one who has seen far too much evil.

Tramman tousled her short silver hair and said: "Fetch your eyas out of the cellar and I'll tell you everything."

Inney nodded and followed him out at once. She carefully set Sheshey on the shelf by her bed and sat down on it beside Tramman and waited with large solemn eyes for him to tell his tale.

"It was amazing, Inney," he said. "It went almost exactly as Olloo had planned. Since the stinkers raided while it was still light, we were finally able to track them into the Maidenhair Woods to their huge cave that runs back into the first slope of the Sleityn Beayn. We had only to return with our strike falcons and Yn Armee Hassooagh used their trebuchet to throw a petard into the mouth of it. They must've thought the mountain was falling on them. When they came frothing from the mouth of the cave, their Big Butcher, the one Olloo's certain has been leading their raids, was right in the lead. He was a true coward when his own hide was in danger, like most bullies."

"So, then what happened?"

"Obbree and Aalid were positioned on one side of the cave and Jeelys and I were on the other. Both falcons pounced on him at once. They gave him exactly what he had coming, and right smart. Then they went to work on other trolls, one after another. Of course Obbree and I were busy cleaving heads, alongside the regular army. So it was an easy victory."

"Easy?" said Inney looking at him with haunted eyes.

"Yes. Our quick dispatch of their Big Butcher knocked them boss-eyed."

"Good," said Inney. "And, then you rescued the captives?"

Tramman's face fell as he looked away. "None survived."

"Dear Fates," said Inney with a dry swallow, as she bravely kept her proper posture in spite of the fact that she was seven years old and badly needed a hug. "Dear, dear Fates." A tear raced down her cheek. She had played with those kids.


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