DP Gregoire Fiction - An Adventure Lost - Chapter 4: On the Trail Again
Thursday November 5th 2020
After a long, awaited bath, Denderin and troll set back upon their path. Heading North East they make way for Tatuague.
The day is warm, just as any. The air dry, not a drop of water in the sky. It seemed particularly clear, no clouds overhead. Denderin realized that this could be a hot, terrible day for travel.
“Hey, troll, could you grab my head cover?” he asks while panting heavily.
“Cssssssertainly, masssssster,” troll answers.
Trolls may hate open flame, but they don't hate the warmth of the sun as much. Unlike most humanoids, trolls don't burn in the heat of the sun. And further more, a garden troll can transform the sun's rays into food, much like a plant does. Though it is not required for a troll to gain sustenance, it can really boost their natural regeneration ability.
Of course Denderin marches onward, despite his deep ambition of wanting to be somewhere comfortable. Lounging around, drinking a cool lemonade. Perhaps laying with a few ladies over the course of a summer, or better yet, a few ladies at a single time. Ah, a man can dream.
The summer was growing hot. Their food storage low. Water was scarce, and there was no water source in sight.
“I knew we shoulda set up camp near that river we crossed over a few days ago,” a burly man with a patch over his left eye said. His face shaven, the top of his head starting to bald, with a crown of short brown hair upon it.
“Oh shut up, Maegrin,” said another man, this one tall and wiry, long dark hair creeping back from his forehead hangs from strands, a bit of scruff upon his face. His eyes baggy and red around the edges, his face dirty as if it hadn't seen a bath in weeks.
Maegrin turns slightly to face the other man, “Twas your stupid idea to keep headin' norf, Clambaugh.”
Clambaugh turns full attention to Maegrin, “Oh shet up, Maegrin! We're almost there! The town full of treasure with little else to guard it should be a bit further this way.”
“Aye, you've been sayin' that fer the past few days, you 'ave!” retorts an angry Maegrin.
“Aye, and I'll be saying it until we get there, Maegrin. It doesn't matter how long it takes us to get there, as long as we get there. I know the village is that way, and that is the way we're heading,” replies an angry Clambaugh.
Both men bicker for a bit more while cleaning up camp. Hurling insults at each other, all while reluctantly traveling with one another.
“And furthermore, yer mum is a dog whore!” Maegrin spat vile words toward Clambaugh.
“You take that back!” Clambaugh threatens Maegrin with a small blade.
“Or what? Yer gunna cut me?” taunts Maegrin.
“I'll do more than cut ya...” Clambaugh threatens further.
Maegrin bears his chest while dropping his guard, “Alright, c'mon, cut me. Yer so big, just give me an ol' jab will ya.”
Clambaugh seething with anger takes the knife up, his face completely red, “You asked for it, Maegrin. You son-of-a-bitch!”
Clambaugh thrusts forward, Maegrin flinching at the idea of the knife piercing his chest. But right before he can finish the deed Clambaugh stops, tip of the blade barely scratching Maegrin's chest, a bit of blood drips from the tiny wound left by the knife.
“BAH! I knew ye couldn't do it,” taunted a now cocky Maegrin.
“I just didn't wanna watch ye squirm yer last breaths away is all,” Clambaugh barks back.
This type of thing is not rare with these two. In fact, they do it quite often. It seems almost everyday Maegrin and Clambaugh argue for the sake of arguing. And more than half the time it ends in a fight, where neither of them really goes all the way through with killing the other like they said they were going to do.
“So, then I said to em, 'Eh, you, tellywubbler. Git over 'ere!'” Maegrin blurts out.
“Oh yeah, then what happened next?” Clambaugh curious to the outcome.
“Well, den I slapped him in the face wit me tally whacker. BAW HAW HAW HAW!” Maegrin bursts out with laughter.
“Ha ha ha ha ha! That's a good one,” Clambaugh responds while red with laughter.
And despite their many seemingly differences, they were very similar. Both were dull of wit, easily entertained, quick to anger, violent, lazy, looking for a quick pay day, and sore for the eyes to look at. More often than fighting they bonded over weird stories, and crazy jokes. Their strange humor bonded them, that with their many similarities.
The only drive they had was to pursue easy riches. They heard rumor of an easy treasure of immense wealth, not guarded by a single thing. Not man nor beast stood in their way. They were on their way to Tatuague.
“To elaborate more on these riches, stories say the people of Tatuague bury all of their wealth in large temples they dedicate to their gods. They believe their gods will watch over it for them. That is it! No traps, no guards, no monsters, nothing guards the treasures, just a couple dead gods,” Clambaugh explains.
Maegrin looking a little concerned, “Ye said they have their treasure guarded by their gods.”
“Yeah, and?” Clambaugh seems confused.
“Aren't you afraid there gods will smite us?” Maegrin asks with worry to his tone.
Clambaugh slaps Maegrin upside the head, “Don't be an idiot! Their gods are dead! Didn't you pay attention to my story?”
“Aye, I know ye said they were dead. So wouldn't that make them the ghosts of gods?” Maegrin retorted.
Clambaugh's face turns a bit pale, “Ugh, I never thought of that. The ghost of gods. That might be a terrible foe.”
And just like that they had a new worry, a new obstacle to overcome. The ghost of dead gods that guard the treasure that was supposed to be so easy to acquire.
“Troll, why is it so unbearably hot outside?” Denderin is slumped forward, drenched in sweat.
“I don't know why. Perhapsssss it'sssss becaussssse the ssssssun issssss out and ssssso high up in the sssssssky,” troll replies.
“It was a rhetorical question, troll,” Denderin replies unamused at troll's answer.
“What? You assssssked a quesssstion,” troll replied to Denderin's bemusement.
“Stop being a smart-ass, troll!” Denderin's anger starts to show.
“You sssssstop being ssssssuch an angry assssssss,” troll talks back.
Denderin backhands troll, sending it reeling into the bushes on the side of the road. Troll scuttles away in fear.
“DAGH! Ssssstay away from me!” troll scuttles deeper into the woods from Denderin.
Denderin realizing what he's done feels sorry for slapping troll across the face. He pursues troll deeper into the woods, “Troll, I'm sorry, get back here.”
“NEVER!” troll runs in deeper.
“I didn't mean it,” Denderin pleads.
“Ssssstay away!” the chase continues.
“It's just that the heat is so hot, and it makes me irritable,” he continues his plea.
“I'm never coming back!” troll threatens.
“What will I do without you?” almost giving up the chase, filled with exhaustion, Denderin slows down to a near stop.
“You sssssshould of thought of that before you ssssssslaped me,” troll replies as he climbs higher up into a tree.
Denderin gave up the chase, he was just too hot and exhausted to continue. Denderin was also overcome with a slight depression, as he lost his only companion he'd have on this entire journey. Perhaps he should have treated troll better, despite troll being his personal property. Denderin sat in contemplation.
Troll ran deeper into the forest. Leaping from tree-to-tree. The only thing troll could think about was the random abuse Denderin could inflict. Sure, Denderin and his family took care of troll all of these years, but that was to ensure troll's well-being while troll served their family. Troll was sure of this.
Stupid greedy, smelly, know-it-all human. Troll despises the day it was made to serve Denderin and his family in exchange for its life. Troll should of scratched their eyes out! Troll should of bit their throats out! Troll should of ran away!
The day drew on, time standing still for no man or troll. The sun sank beyond the hills, the sky a slight red in color.
Troll was hungry, its stomach empty. It hadn't eaten since earlier in the day. 'Troll was going to die if troll didn't get food anytime soon!'
A small flock of birds flapped overhead. Perhaps returning from a day of catching food, or perhaps from a migration. The birds are small, fast, and easy to scare at the slightest upset. Troll will have to be extra careful if it hopes to catch one of these little chickadees.
On all fours troll slowly creeps towards a small flock of birds resting upon a branch. The speed in which troll claws its way toward the chickadees is compared to that of a snail making its way through thickened mud.
Licking its chops troll is an arm's length away. On all fours like a feline troll slightly raises its butt into the air, giving it a slight wiggle. The pounce is about to come!
FLAP! FLAP! FLAP! SMACK!
“YEEEEAAAAAGH!” SLAM! Troll misses the birds completely, causing it to fall from the tree, smacking the ground below. How humiliating, troll is still unable to catch wild animals with ease. Life would be hard on its own, that it knew. But it couldn't go back to Denderin.
“Then when he came over, I took out me blade, spat on it, and told 'em to hand over the money,” a voice poured out through the forest.
Troll was not alone. Troll had to hide. But where? Perhaps troll would run back up into the tree!
“Yeah, so what happened with the money?” a second voice asked.
Troll could see them, two men walking. One was balding, stocky, a patch over one eye. The second man was tall, dirty, scruffy looking, thin long strands of hair hung from his head. Troll did not move, for troll was scared of strangers.
The men walked along, seemingly complaining to one another. Bickering one moment, and then laughing the next. What a chaotic bunch those men were.
Troll felt more intrigued than scared. With the loss of Denderin, and all that Denderin had, troll was left with nothing. But that's okay! Troll would stalk these men from afar. Troll would follow them, see where they were going, and see if they had any food. And if they had any food, troll would sneak in and eat it!
Troll arched backwards, arms out to the side, its hands slightly clutched as it laughed to itself, “Yessssss, theeeeesssse two idiotssssss will feed me my next meal. They will have no idea that I lurk in the darknessssss. For I will have their ssssssupper!”
Both men pause for a moment, “Eh, did ya hear that, Clambaugh?”
“Hear what?” Clambaugh pauses for a listen.
“It sounds like some type of dying animal,” Maegrin responds.
“Heh, better leave it be. For a dying animal, it sure sounds horrible,” Clambaugh retorts.
Both men back to their journey. They needed to find food, but more importantly they needed to find water before they would expire from the sun's hot rays.
Troll crept along the ground low, quietly, hoping not to alert the men. Keeping a safe distance just in case they did become alerted, troll could get the run on them. Troll was sure they would find food for it.
“Ey, Clambaugh, ever get the funny feelin' yer bein' watched all-of-a-sudden?” paranoid, Maegrin looks around.
Clambaugh pauses for another moment, “Now that you mention it, I do. But I don't see anything.”
“Teh, it's prolly faeries. I bet they be watchin' us right now. Them with their stinkin' magic, and their stinkin' hidin',” Maegrin still eyeing the scenery for anything suspicious.
“Aye, stupid faeries. They probably want to sneak up on us and take our coin. Except we ain't have any damn coin!” Clambaugh yells, his voice echoing throughout the woods scaring off a flock of birds.
Putting a finger up to his lips Maegrin quietly hushes Clambaugh, “Sssshhhhh! Ya don't wanna let the faeries know we know that they're watchin' us.”
“Bagh! I probably scared them away. No faeries will wanna mess with me, I'll bite their damn heads off! Rip their damn wings out! Stomp their tiny little bodies into mush on the bottom of my boot, I will,” Clambaugh threatens.
Maegrin cowers in fear as Clambaugh speak on, “Clambaugh, don't say those things. Ya know faeries don't like threats.”
“I ain't afraid of no stinking faeries, Maegrin,” Clambaugh spits at their mention.
“But the faeries will come out as we sleep, Clambaugh. Cut our throats in the night, and steal our stuff,” Maegrin looking about still quaking a bit from what Clambaugh yelled.
“Oh stop it,” Clambaugh's face turns to disgust.
“We're sorry, faeries, truly we are. Don't come sneakin' in the middle of the night to cut our throats! He's just playin',” Maegrin yells apologetically to any potential listening faeries.
Clambaugh backhands Maegrin across the chest, “No, we ain't sorry, Maegrin!”
“Yes we are! Don't listen to him, faeries! He's filled with a bit 'o' madness. Ya see, we haven't had a proper meal or night's sleep in a few days, we haven't, and now Clambaugh here is angry,” Maegrin keeps pleading his case.
“Oh shut up, Maegrin! The faeries will think you weak if you keep spouting that nonsense!” Clambaugh grows angrier.
“Better they think we're weak than to have them kill us in the dark,” Maegrin reasoned.
“If they want to kill ya, they kill ya. If they think we're weak, that may sway their decision even easier. Suppose they do think we're weak now, they would think us easy pickings,” Clambaugh countered.
Maegrin's eye grew wide, “Ya do have a considerable point there. Alright, ya dumb faeries! Imma chew ya in two! Imma spit ya out and use your blood to feed my fire!”
Whipping a knife out Clambaugh joins, “Yeah, so don't think nothin' of tryin' to rob us while we sleep! You see, we each sleep with one eye closed, you damn faeries!”
“Yeah, I only have one eye, so I'm extra good at sleepin' with one eye closed!” Maegrin boasted.
Troll laid back and listened to the two men hurl insults at the faeries for what seemed like an eternity. For two idiots they never seemed to run out of things to say, and the variety of the insults was surprising, considering their less than average intellect. Though they did tread the same circles again here and there, their insults were creative none-the-less.
All of this extra gear! What was Denderin to do with it? He had lost his 'pack mule', his companion. Now he had no one to share the burden with, instead, he must carry it alone. He thought about turning back instead of carrying on.
But what if troll returned to look for him after? What if he were gone and troll had no one to help him out of these woods? The thoughts raced through Denderin's mind a-mile-a-minute.
The journey would take him longer without a companion. It would also grow more perilous in nature. Him, alone, with no one to watch his back. He was easy game for the creatures of the forest, and even the men of this world who prey upon the weak.
Denderin was exposed and alone. He should stop to build shelter soon. The sun sets fast while the moon rises. He doesn't want to waste his lantern, so building a fire is a priority.
How far has Denderin gone without troll? Many miles, many hours it seems. And surely if troll wanted to find Denderin troll could sniff him out, after all, that is what troll was good at.
Denderin happened upon a swampy pond, he decided setting up camp near there would be the best course of action. He could refill the waterskins, and even bathe!
Luckily this swamp of a pond had many dead trees around it, which was great for fire starting tinder. The fire would be good to keep the animals of the night away. Most creatures feared fire, which is good.
Fearing fire, that made him miss troll. Who would laugh at his jokes? Who would share in his stories? Who could he philosophize about the world with? It sure was going to be a long, lonely night. Denderin sat near the fire while poking at it, day dreaming.
A fat, fluffy rabbit hops carelessly through the forest. Every once-in-a-while it stops to nibble on some nearby clover. This rabbit lives a carefree existence, and lives a good life.
In fact, to the untrained eye, this large rabbit could be mistaken for a dog. Its fur pattern wasn't much different from most wild dogs, though upon further inspection would reveal that this rabbit's fur would be much softer and less coarse than a wild dog's.
The sun was setting, and that means a whole new set of predators would be out. The rabbit had to make haste to find shelter so it could avoid wolves, owls, and the like. The rabbit's ears pricked up, it froze so it could listen to what was possibly coming its way.
“I swear, if I don't get food soon, Imma die,” complains a hungry Maegrin.
“Aye, I hear you,” agrees an equally hungry Clambaugh.
“If only there were a miracle,” Maegrin hoped.
“Bah! Miracles are for worshipers and priests,” Clambaugh scoffed.
“Ya don't know who I worship, Clambaugh,” Maegrin gets defensive.
“I know you don't worship when we're on the road,” Clambaugh says with confidence.
“Ya don't know when I worship,” Maegrin continues to defend himself against Clambaugh.
Clambaugh shakes his head, “Just name one time when you worshiped while on this journey.”
“How about the time when ya caught the fever and wouldn't stop shittin' yourself? Or how about when that rock slide came after us and we needed a quick escape? Or the time when the thunderstorm wouldn't stop for three days? Or the time we were robbed by bandits who didn't know we were bandits but we later found the bandits dead further up the road so we got our stuff back as well as their stuff?” the flood gates had opened, Maegrin would give a plethora of examples.
“Alright, alright, just stop, jeesh! Ask your god to find us some food if he's all mighty!” Clambaugh demands.
“It's a she, Clambaugh. And that is what I was about to do 'afore you interrupted me,” Maegrin responds happily, as he realizes Clambaugh recognizes the importance of communing with your deity on a regular basis.
The rabbit had noticed the men had gotten too close to it. Its only chance of survival was to run. The rabbit took its massive form and started an escape from the two bumbling idiots.
Clambaugh slaps Maegrin on his shoulder to get his attention, “Maegrin, would you look at that? It's some kind of giant rabbit thing!”
Maegrin seemed pleased with the outcome of his prayer, “Ya see that, Clambaugh? Ya ask, and ya shall receive!”
Both men chuckle with delight while licking their lips in anticipation. They take flight after the giant rabbit, chasing it the best their weakened, feeble bodies would allow them to. They threw rocks at it the whole time they gave chase to it, most missing, a few landing their mark.
Troll saw all of this go down. That rabbit was HUGE! It would definitely feed troll for a few days! Troll needed this, it was troll's to have, it was only fair.
Troll followed the chase from the sidelines, keeping pace with both the men and the rabbit. Nothing would stop troll from getting this meal, not even two thugs.
PELT! PELT! PELT!
The large animal was getting tired, and the rocks that hit it were slowing it down as well due to injury. Clambaugh and Maegrin were running out of collected rocks though, so their assault could not last much longer. Their lungs also swelled with fire, their limbs aching. They've been so long without food exerting this amount of energy was nearly crippling. They've exhausted their second wind, and third, and fourth, they were running on fumes.
“Screeeaaaaat!” the rabbit let out a large scream as the last couple rocks hit it. However this filled it with a burst of adrenaline allowing it to sprint out faster and farther than the two men chasing it.
Troll saw the men lagging behind as the rabbit picked up the pace. This was troll's opportunity. It picked up speed to keep pace with the injured animal.
The rabbit looked over to see the troll on all fours keeping pace with it. It knew its days were numbered if it didn't make it to safety. And what was safety? A rabbit burrow. Though this rabbit lived a good, long life, it wanted to continue to live its good life.
The troll saw the rabbit burrow up ahead. It knew that if the rabbit made it to that burrow it would lose its chance for the rabbit. Troll needed to make an effort.
Troll leapt at the rabbit in desperation, however unfortunate for troll, and fortunate for the rabbit it was able to dodge troll's advances. Troll landed on the ground, not able to catch its footing, rolling along the ground as it landed.
This blunder allowed the rabbit to gain considerable distance on troll. Troll was mortified, this mistake would mean troll would not be able to eat tonight. Getting up troll ran full head of steam at the large animal.
The rabbit made it to the hole, squeezing its way in. Troll just seconds too late grabbed at whatever it could, barely getting a hold of one of the animal's legs. But it was of no use, the rabbit was able to pull its leg free, kicking the troll in the face as it pulled itself deeper into the hole.
Troll kept desperately trying to get a hold of one of the things legs, all the while parrying blows from its massive feet. Eventually troll was able to grab one of the legs, and instead of letting go with each blow of the rabbit's feet, troll pushed through the blows, clawing its way up the rabbit. Part way in the hole with the rabbit, troll had a secure grip. It was not getting away, not tonight.
“Screeeeeaaaach! Screeeeeeaaaaach! Screeeeaaaaaach!” the rabbit wiggled viciously, kicking and screaming down the hole, hoping that any other rabbits in the hole would be able to help it. But its screams were in vain, as its neck snapped from the struggle. Victorious, troll pulled the rabbit's limp, dead body from the hole. Troll held its trophy up high so that it could admire it.
Exhausted the two men came running up. They leaned over to hold their legs as they caught their breath.
“Hey, Clambaugh, look!” Maegrin exclaims as he slaps his partner across his chest to gain his attention, “That little green fairy helped catch our food. I told you apologizing would help us out.”
Breathing heavy Clambaugh responds, “That's good news. Now, if you would, little fairy, hand over that rabbit,” a big toothy grin flashed from his face.
Troll knew he was in a predicament. He didn't want to fight the two men, they could probably beat troll into a pulp. But troll didn't want to share, though it was probably in troll's best interest to share. After all, the men did injure the beast enough to allow troll to catch it.
“Okay,” troll replies shyly, as it holds up the dead rabbit.
“DAGH!” Maegrin shrieks as troll speaks.
Clambaugh bends down cautiously to grab the rabbit, “That's right, fairy. No harm here, we just want the rabbit.”
“Perhaps we should share it with 'em,” Maegrin suggests.
Clambaugh flashes Maegrin a snarling glare.
“I mean it did catch the thing in the hole for us, perhaps it's tryna make friends?” Maegrin theorizes.
Clambaugh rolls his eyes, “Fine, the fairy can eat with us if it wants. Do you want some of this rabbit, fairy?”
Troll nods its head slightly. Hoping that the man's word is good. Troll knew all the better though that the last thing the men said to the faeries were a string of insults and not a bunch of apologies, but troll decided it were better not to remind them.
The men set up camp, quickly dressing the rabbit for food. Its blood boiled so that they may drink it, hopefully quenching any thirst. The skin hung up to dry, perhaps to be used in trade.
They were able to build a small fire, nothing too large, but something enough to warm some coals to cook their food a bit.
Both men shared stories as they ate, and joked about times passed. Troll sat with the men, not quite sure what to feel. Though the relaxation was quite enjoyable, and the food good, troll perhaps felt at ease, maybe even happy.
“So, fairy, what brings you this way?” asks Clambaugh.
Troll looks up confused, still not use to being called fairy, responds, “Jussssssst traveling through. Looking for food.”
“Ah, same thing we were looking for,” Maegrin responds with a big smile on his face, a mouth full of food.
Clambaugh glared over at Maegrin, hoping that he wasn't stupid enough to mention their true goal of Tatuague. Because Clambaugh knew, faeries have a want of treasure, and he didn't want this particular fairy hoarding their treasure.
“Fairy, what're yer qualifications?” Maegrin continues to ask questions.
“Wallificationsssss?” troll not quite sure of the question.
“Yeah, what can ye do?” Maegrin interested in the creatures answer.
Troll was lost for words. Troll mulled it over in its mind, “Well, I can paint, write, ssssneak, ssssteal, climb, run, hide, all sssssortsssss of thingssss.”
“Can ye fly?” Maegrin eager for the answer.
“No....” troll answered confused.
“Ye can't fly?” Maegrin was appalled at the answer.
“Ssssssorry?” troll was unsure of the issue.
“Ye have any fairy dust?” Maegrin asks.
“Noooooo....” troll replies.
“What, no fairy dust?” Maegrin seems really disappointed at the answers.
Troll caught on to what was happening, “Yesss, my wingssss were ripped off by a mean traveler, my dusssst sssstolen!”
Maegrin seemed mad at troll's answer, “That son-of-a-bitch! Somebody stole yer dust? I'll get it back for ya!”
“Maegrin,” Clambaugh tried to interject.
“Heck, I'll slap 'em up just for rippin' yer wings off!” Maegrin replied, slamming his fist into his open palm.
“Maegrin,” Clambaugh tries yet again, just to get shut up by Maegrin.
“Not now, Maegrin. The fairy and me are gettin' along. We're bondin'!” Maegrin seems to of found a new best friend.
Clambaugh tired of Maegrin's ignoring him, “Maegrin, look!” Clambaugh's finger pointed off into the distance.
There in the distance was the glow of a brightly lit fire. The smoke ascending into the sky while the sun sank all the way behind the hills.
“Maegrin, in the morning we head that way. Where there's fire, there is sure to be somebody with precious goods we may take. We'll wake early and make our way in its direction,” Clambaugh was excited at the prospect of acquiring some new stuff. Perhaps some more food, some more water, maybe even some riches. Tomorrow morning will be good indeed.