- Author’s Note
- Prologue Part I – Loss of Innocence
- Prologue Part II – Return of a Mage
- Prologue Part III – Questions and Answers
- Prologue Part IV – Hunting
- Prologue Part V – Celebrations
- Chapter 1 – Rolling Greens
- Chapter 2 – The Little Girl
- Chapter 3 – The Stranger
- Chapter 4 – Berenice
- Chapter 5 (part 1) – The Front Line
- Chapter 5 (part 2) – The Front Line
- Chapter 5 (part 3) – The Front Line
- Chapter 6 – Gregory Victor
- Chapter 7 – The Fall
Folaji sat up slowly, his head pounding with every beat of his heart. It rested in his large troll palm.
“Welcome back, sleepyhead.”
Folla was sitting at his side. She noticed that the area where Foliji had cut his left arm, although just a couple of minutes old, was already beginning to heal. She remembered when she had learned about Troll regeneration and how healthy adult troll bodies could heal cuts and bruises within minutes. It was even said that some had been able to regenerate full limbs.
It was funny, Folla thought, that although the cut on Folaji’s left arm seemed to be well on its way to healing completely, his right arm was still small and weak, and had never quite recovered from the night where Zalazane had poisoned it with his touch. Nonetheless, Troll regeneration was an awesome advantage when compared to other races. Well, except for the scary Undead, who could remove and replace body parts at will. Folla shivered at the thought of them.
Folaji, looking around, recognized his uncle’s hut. It was small, humble and empty, the way Gadrin liked it. The only decoration was a rectangle shaped rug on the ground that Folaji had been dragged onto a couple of minutes after he had lost conciousness, and event Folaji’s head had yet to forget.
“Ah, me head. What happened?” he asked.
“It was Master Gadrin. He did something to you, made you silent or something,” Folla explained.
“And it be a good thing I did,” Master Gadrin said, walking into his hut, “otherwise we’d be eatin’ roasted Foliji for lunch.”
“I be sorry Master,” Folaji said, hurrying to stand up at attention, to which Master Gadrin told him to rest for a second. He turned to Folla and asked her to go check on Vhan. Without hesitation she nodded and left, she knew he wanted to speak to Folaji alone.
Master Gadrin crouched down on the rug, using his totem to hold himself up. He pulled off his mask, revealing a mature, healthy troll face. Folaji, still a little shaken, crouched beside him.
“My head be still spinnin’, Master,” Folaji said.
“Please, Folaji’mon, in here you be callin’ me Uncle,” Gadrin insisted. He was proud of his nephew and the courage he had displayed in joining the ranks of the Horde.
“Dontcha be worryin’ about dat head,” he reasured him. “A caster’s first silence is never quite pleasant, but its better you go through dat now than in battle. Anyways, you be gettin’ hit with much worst things than silence spells in da future, so ya better be getting used to it.” He caught a glimpse of Folaji’s right hand. “How be dat arm anyways?”
“It’s not healed yet, I dunno why,” Folaji answered, pulling back his sleeve and showing a small, frail and pale right arm. “You think it might heal correctly someday?”
“Only da Gods know dat for sure, Folaji’mon” Gadrin tried to reassure him.
Folaji grinned. Many Trolls of the Darkspear Tribe had difficulties in believing in the Gods of the old times, his parent’s included. They asked questions such as: “If the Gods did exist, then why had they permitted the great Troll empires to fall so long ago?” and “Why had they permitted the horrible Undead to join the Horde?” It is not our place to judge the Gods, Master Gadrin often said, but rather to accept and adapt to their choices. Folaji obviously disagreed, but respected Gadrin enough not to make a big deal of it.
“So why did ya ask me here, Uncle?” Folaji asked.
Gadrin stood and looked out the entrance of the hut. “I’ve been having terrible dreams lately, Folaji’mon. Dreams of your father.”
“I too have been havin’ dreams about dat night,” Folaji said, standing up. The thought that someone else was having dreams about his father intrigued him.
Gadrin turned to face him. “My dreams are not about the night you’re father died, Folaji’mon, but rather about him now.”
“Now?” Folaji asked, confused.
“Understand dat it not be my intentions to bring back old wounds, but I believe dat you must be made aware of my dreams.” Gadrin explained, to which Folaji nodded. “Your father, Minshina, has been calling to me, Folaji’mon. He tells me dat when he died trying to rescue you, his spirit was trapped within his own skull by Zalazane’s magics.”
“You mean Papa be imprisonned by Zalazane?” Folaji asked.
“His spirit, yes. And I believe Zalazane uses his spirit, as well as da spirits in other skulls he’s gathered over da years, as a source for his power.”
Folaji slumped back to the rug. That his father had died trying to save him was one thing, but the thought of his spirit being imprissoned by Zalazane for all this time bothered him. His father’s spirit was not at rest, and would not be until he got the skull.
“Where is da skull?” Folaji asked, looking up.
“In my dreams I see it with other skulls, in a circle of power on da largest Echo Isle,” Gadrin said. “Understand that as long as Zalazane holds his spirit, he holds a link to your family, and I believe he be usin’ this link to curse ya.”
“Mama…” Folaji said, under his breath. It was much worse than he had thought, not only was his father prisonner of the Troll who had tried to enslave him, but this same Troll had taken his mother’s sanity and was probably responsible for his brother’s hateful behavior. Folaji tried to control the rage building up in him.
“What do I need to do?” he asked, with a determined look on his face.
“You must find the circle of power and retrieve Minshina’s skull. Bring it to me, and free him!” Gadrin answered.
“Will this save my family as well?”
Gadrin could see the bloddlust in his nephew’s eyes. “There is no way to know for sure,” he explained. “Although your father’s spirit will be free, Zalazane could still keep his link to your family alive with his magics.”
“Then I must kill him,” Folaji said, standing up.
“Now just a minute, Folaji’mon, don’t you be doin’ anything stupid. Zalazane be a very powerful witchdoctor, and you be only an Apprentice Mage.”
“He will not be a powerful witchdoctor for long.”
Folaji walked out the hut.