In the Shadow of the Mask

Alone with a Troll

“Oh… you have to be kidding me,” she growled.

In one gulp, the White Balverine disappeared down the troll’s throat along with the Glyph. The troll rubbed its belly and wiped the blood from its rough lips. From its mouth to where its stomach would be the color of red started to appear. Looking down at its blood covered hand, the troll began to lick the still warm blood from between it pudgy fingers.

Sparrow covered her mouth in repulsion. She could feel a lump forming in her throat as she watched the creature enjoy every lick. Swallowing hard and nearly choking, she rose to her feet. Grabbing the dog by his collar, Sparrow silently made her way over to a large rock. She needed to catch the creature by surprise. It was a good thing that it hadn’t noticed her yet. If there’s one thing about trolls she learned, it was best to get them from behind and keep moving.

Peeking over the boulder, she looked to see what the creature was doing. It was just standing there looking around like it was searching for something. She hoped that it hadn’t seen her go behind the boulder, but maybe her luck wasn’t that good. The troll took a few steps in her direction. She quickly ducked down and pulled herself as close to the boulder as she could. Her dog seeing her actions pushed himself under the snow until he was covered in the white fluff. She could hear it coming closer with its heavy footsteps.

She looked up; there she could see the troll placing its hand upon the boulder and it head appear. Praying that it wouldn’t look down, Sparrow kept her eyes on it. It sniffed the air and scanned the area, but it never looked down. Slowly the head disappeared along with its hand. Sparrow felt like she could breathe again and released a silent sigh.

ROOOAAARRR! The boulder behind her suddenly lifted up.

The troll had found her. She rolled just out of the way right before it slammed the boulder down where she was. Her dog bounced off the ground and ran to her side. She quickly checked over him; there were no visible injuries she could find.

WHOSH! The boulder flew of her head.

The troll pointed at her and laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Sparrow didn’t find any humor in situation.

The troll only laughed as it started towards her. It reached out to grab her, but she jumped out of the way. She was just too quick for it. Pulling out her crossbow, she took aim. She looked for the tendrils, but there were none. In all the trolls she ever fought, they had several weak points that with either a well aimed shot or a strong Will attack would weaken the troll until it perished. The hardest tendril to hit was the one on the troll’s back. It guarded that tendril the more. It would turn and twist just to make sure that one point would not be hit. Sparrow was lucky to have gotten around the creature so quickly.

“Where is it?” she couldn’t see a tendril… nothing but its icy body.

The troll turned and faced her. It must have understood her look, because it once again pointed and laughed at her. Not one to be laughed at, Sparrow let loose one of her bolts. The troll didn’t even see it coming. The bolt landed between its eyes and caused the beast to stagger. Its head fell back, though it remained standing. Slowly its head rose up. The troll reached up and plucked the bolt from between its eyes. Tossing it aside, the troll stared down at her with it red eyes. Sparrow could see that a crack had formed.

RROOAARR! The troll wasn’t happy.

Digging its hands in to the ground, it bought up two large hands full of snow and dirt.

At least it’s not a rock, Sparrow was a little relieved.

It slammed the two piles together to form one massive ball. The air suddenly chilled and it felt like the breath in Sparrow’s lungs froze. She couldn’t breathe. She fell to her knees as numbness took over her body. She, shivering, looked over at the troll. Instead of a loose pile of snow and dirt, it held a chuck of ice.

“Got to move,” Sparrow stood up slowly.

The troll lifted the ice ball above its head and threw it towards Sparrow. She tried to move, but her body wouldn’t obey her. She looked down to her feet; they were frozen in place. She pulled at her boots, but they wouldn’t come.

Seeing his master’s distress, her dog jumped on front of her and started to bark and growl at the oncoming ice ball. She tried to summon a fireball, but it was like she was too frozen on the inside; like there was no fire in her heart. She watched, like in slow motion, as the ice block came closer and closer.

The area suddenly illuminated. It was so bright that Sparrow had to close her eyes. She felt a wave of heat come over her. The numbness dissipated and she opened her eyes. Water hit her face.

“Looks like you could use some help,” Garth held out his hand.

“It’s good to see you Garth,” she wiped the water from her face and took his hand.

Garth looked down to her feet, “Got a little stuck in the snow I see,” she started to summon a fireball.

“I’ve got it,” Sparrow thawed out her feet.

“I take it that that’s a troll,” Garth turned to face the creature.

“Yup,” Sparrow drew her sword, “You ever faced one?”

“No, but I have read about them,” Garth summoned several blades, “Have you?”

“A few times,” Sparrow smiled, “But nothing like this one. In coming!” she shoved him aside as another giant ice ball flew over their heads.

“Thanks,” Garth quickly got to his feet, “So have do we defeat this creature?”

“Not quite sure,” Sparrow gritted her teeth, “I’ve fought trolls before, but not one like this. Usually there are tendrils that are the weak points and that’s how you take them down, but there don’t appear to be any on this one.”

“So what do you suggest?” Garth kept an eye on the beast.

“It looks like it’s made out of ice, right?” Sparrow thought for a moment.

“It appears so,” he agreed.

“Then,” her hand set on fire, “we can try melting it.”

He smiled over at her, “You have a brilliant mind young Sparrow.”

“Nothing in comparison to yours,” she smiled back, “Circle around and hit it with all you’ve got!”

Going in opposite directions, they started to run around the troll. It couldn’t decide which one to follow. Its body twisted one way, but its head went another. They were relentless as they unleashed a fury of fireballs. The troll wobbled with every hit; screaming out in pain with each attack. It hunched down and formed a tight ball. Water was started to drip off its body and it even seemed to be shrinking.

“Just a few more!” Garth called out as he ran passed Sparrow.

They stopped on opposite sides of the cowering troll. Building up their attacks, their hands and bodies began to glow. They were about to release their strong attack when the troll suddenly leaped up and brought down both its fist into the ground. The ground rose up and rippled with the massive attack. Both Garth and Sparrow flew up into the air and landed several feet away. Slowly sitting up, Sparrow shook her head. The world was spinning and her vision was blurry.

“YELP!” she heard her dog whine.

“Boy!? Where are you!?” she looked around.

She spotted him just a few yards from her. He was holding up his front paw and limping towards her. He must have gotten caught in the shock wave and was thrown like her and Garth.

“Come on boy!” she stood up slowly.

He limped towards her in obvious pain. She would have run to him, but her vision was still compromised.

“YIP,” he cried out as he suddenly lifted off the ground.

“No!” Sparrow watched in horror as the troll picked up her dog.

He whined and yipped as the troll brought him ever closer to its mouth.

Sparrow pulled out her crossbow and began shoot widely at it. None of her bolts hit their mark and sailed harmlessly by. Her vision just wouldn’t clear up.

“YIP,” her dog let out one more yelp of pain and fear.

“NO!” Sparrow cried out.

“LET HIM GO!” a figure appeared behind the troll.

They raised a massive metal object and brought it down with such force on the troll that it fell to its knees and landed flat on its face. Sparrow’s friend tumbled out of the grip of the troll and landed near her. Sparrow quickly retrieved him. Holding him tight to her body, she ran over to see if Garth was okay. He had stood up, but there was a stagger in his stance.

“You okay?” she came up to him.

“I think so,” he shook his head, “My vision is a little off, but otherwise fine… How is your companion?” he looked to the dog.

“He’s hurt,” she felt bad.

“This is what you get for hurting an innocent creature!” the figure brought up their weapon again.

“Hannah!” Sparrow could finally make out who it was.

She brought her hammer up and held it above her head. The hammer glistened in the little sunlight that there was. Swinging in a sideways motion, she brought it down across the trolls face. It flew back and landed a few feet away from it. Its body convulsed for a moment then fell silent.

“What an ugly thing?” Hannah commented as she turned away from the troll, “Here I thought Hobbes were the ugliest things around. That thing was at least ten times uglier… and smells just as bad as it looks,” she whispered the last part.

“They always do,” Sparrow smiled.

“You okay boy?” Hannah gently rubbed his head.

“Woof,” he weakly barked.

“Don’t worry,” Hannah smiled, “We just have to find that Glyph and get you some help.”

“I assume that you didn’t find it,” Garth sighed.

“No. I found a Balverine, but it didn’t have the Glyph,” Hannah shook her head, “and you?”

He sighed, “I didn’t even find a beast. Sparrow?”

“Um…,” Sparrow looked to the troll, “I found it…”

“Where?” Hannah looked around.

“Well… I found the White Balverine,” she started to explained, “She had it. I was going to try and get it back, but…”

“But what?” Garth questioned.

“Long story short,” Sparrow sighed, “The troll ate the Balverine… along with the Glyph,” she cringed at the memory of the sight.

“So… it’s inside of that thing,” Hannah looked rather disgusted.

“Yup…,” Sparrow confirmed.

“So… we have to…,” Hannah approached the fallen troll

“Yup…,” Sparrow shivered.

“Any ideas to how we are going too…,” she turned back to the group.

RRROOAARR! The troll suddenly shot up and reached for Hannah.

BANG! The troll fell back, dark red blood bursting from its forehead.

“Reaver!” Hannah exclaimed.

Sparrow and Garth turned around to see Reaver standing with his pistol aimed at where the troll rose. The barrel of his pistol was still smoking.

“I said it before and I’ll say it again,” he blew the smoke from his pistol, “I’ll be the one to kill the barbarian woman and no one else.”

“I don’t know whether to thank you or knock you a new one,” Hannah indicated to her hand.

“Use your best judgment,” Reaver indicated to his own weapon.

She thought for a moment, “Thank you,” Hannah bowed to him.

“… You’re welcome,” he was a little suspicious as he holster his weapon.

Garth cleared his throat, “I hate to interrupt the pleasantries, but we have a problem to deal with… a big… messy… smelly problem.”

“Yes… have fun with that,” Reaver took a step back.

Sparrow handed her dog to Hannah, “I missed the Balverine at the Oracle… I should be the one that retrieves the Glyph.”

“How noble of you,” Reaver commented from a distance.

“Here I go,” Sparrow unsheathed her sword as she approached the foul creature.
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