Troll Chase by Joon du Randt

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SUMMARY: Look what happens when you hibernate in the wrong place!


Brachh exited the cave in the small hill and tentatively sniffed the crisp spring air. He could tell that the hunters were closing in, their human stench ill disguised. Hibernating this close to the village had not been a good idea, but the snow had been coming and he could not get back to the mountains that he preferred. He surveyed the area in front of him, and saw a small copse of trees around the cave entrance, a narrow stream meandering through a meadow with bright green spring grass growing all over. The deep green dank sanctuary of the forest on the other side of the meadow stretched over 5 to 6 kilometres to the imposing mountains in the distance that were his home.

There! In the distance he could see the puny humans sneaking through the bushes next to the forest. They did not move with the land, but against it. Brachh wished that he could sneak up behind one and tear out his liver for a snack... but there were too many of them. Better to slink away quietly and return another day. Hitching up his fur breeches and gathering his club, he moved into the trees, spryly for his advanced age. His mottled green skin providing good cover, he slunk in between the trees. He sensed the arrow before it hit, moving his body enough so that instead of piercing his back, it drew a red hot line across his side. They had doubled around over the top of the hill, surprising him. Brachh distractedly thought that these humans were getting too good at decoying, even as he used his massive legs to drive into a sprint across the meadow. The sudden movement upset the human bowmen's aim, and two more arrows thudded into the turf behind him. Something seemed wrong with the arrows, but he could not tell what it was with the brief glance that he was afforded. Besides, he had far more pressing concerns.

During the sprint across the meadow he used his superb reflexes to avoid three more arrows, and then he was in the relative safety of the forest. Ducking between trees and hopping over underbrush, he sped his imposing frame towards the mountain pass where the humans would not be able to follow him, on pain of having great big rocks dropped on their heads. Brachh did not waste any time, and soon he was at the bottom of the ravine starting his climb to safety. He had left the humans far behind, and was confident of getting away. That was when he started feeling sleepy. Too late he realised that the arrows had looked strange because they had needle-like points instead of the usual forged metal, and small bladders of what he now realised was a anaesthetic strong enough to affect even a troll. He keeled over majestically and lay full-length on the rocky ground, oblivious.

Brachh awoke in a small wooden room thick with the stench of humans, the filthy odours of their blood and sweat cloying in the stuffy air. He felt like he did the morning after he had eaten those funny grey mushrooms from his cave wall two summers previously. Brachh realised that his appearance had been altered. The luxuriously thick hair on his back had all been shaved, and his shaggy head had been styled into an elaborate crest and felt sticky.

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