Prologue Part IV – Hunting

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series Rise of the X-Syndicate

What had once been a proud Troll village was now in ruins. Roads were covered with dirt and grass, and abandoned huts were missing walls, roofs, and even in some cases, floors. Some statues still stood, but most were either crooked or fallen over. Nature was doing its job and slowly eating up the old village.

Walking around stealthly, and using what he could for cover, Folaji remembered his young days exploring the Echo Isles. He remembered exploring uncharted territories and hunting down imaginary monsters, although the territory was not so uncharted anymore, and the monsters were real.

Arriving from the north, he had been forced to kill some of those monsters: tigers, young raptors, and even Trolls that had once been a part of the Darkspear tribe but were now hexed by Zalazane. He tried to forget the fact that he had been one of them. It was difficult, however, and when he recognized Jun’til, one of his few childhood friends, his hesitation almost got him killed. Luckily, his ice spell had frozen Jun’til into place and Folaji was able to stop him from getting help from other hexed Troll.

He hid the singeing body with the others beneath a dense shrub. There were now five dead trolls in this bush, and Folaji told himself he would ask someone from Sen’Jin to come and get them, and give them a proper burial.

What a dirty mission this was, he thought to himself, trying to ignore the faint smell of burning flesh. A hexed Troll had also smelled it, and she wandered closer to see where the smell was comming from, thinking it might be food. Folaji wasted no time in taking her out.

Pulling this new body into the dense shrub, Folaji reminded himself of what he had to do: rescue his father’s skull and kill Zalazane. He had been around the island and had not yet seen a group of skulls or a circle of power, but he was on the biggest of the islands, where Gadrin had told him he would find these things. It was starting to get late, and he figured he would thouroughly search the island when daylight was back. In the meantime, he would use the comming darkness as cover to attack Zalazane.

Folaji slowly made his way to the eastern shore of the main island. Hiding behind a tree, he looked inland and saw what had once been the center of the Troll village. The huts in this area were in a fairly better shape than the abandoned area, and hexed Trolls roamed all around.

It was then that Folaji’s heart skipped a beat. He recognised the tall and lean Troll male slowly making his way down from a small hill on the left: Zalazane.

Zalazane walked around, looking at his community with the kind of pride a dictator has when people blindly follow his every command. He talked to some of the Trolls and barked orders at others. The hexed Trolls all blindly obeyed his commands, working faster as he raised his voice. There were so many of them that there was no way Folaji could attack Zalazane without being noticed. So he decided to walk around the island towards the south, the area of the village that seemed to have the lowest number of hexed Trolls, and slowly thinned their numbers.

The hexed Trolls were quite easy targets for Folaji. He would cast an ice spell to freeze them into place, and then use his fire spell to finish them off before they even had time to get to him. To his’s delight, they were not all that aware of their dissapearing comrades, and simply continued on their merry way when noticing that a troll was missing. He hoped the same would be true when he finally got to Zalazane, otherwise he would have one hell of a fight on his hands.

While he was weading out the hexed Trolls, Folaji also kept an eye on his target, Zalazane. His movements were quite regular. He would spend a couple of minutes in the village center, admiring his small army, and then would walk up the hill for a while, heading away from the village. Folaji decided this would be where he would surprise Zalazane. If he was lucky enough, he would be able to keep Zalazane up there with his freeze spell, and then kill him before he could get free and call for help.

With the sun set and the moon rising into the sky, Folaji was satisfied that he had removed the threat caused by nearby hexed Trolls. He made his way to the bottom of the hill and hid, waiting for Zalazane to make his way up.

After about fifteen minutes, he heard footsteps, and a strong Troll voice curse under his breath. Apparently Zalazane was missing some of his Trolls from the north side of the island and was not too happy about it.

Wait until you see what happened to the Trolls on the south side, Folaji thought.

Zalazane turned away from Folaji, and started an incantation.

This was the oportunity Folaji had been waiting for: Zalazane’s mind was elsewhere, and his back was to Folaji. He quickly ran up the hill, prepared to attack. What he saw made him almost trip over his feet.

There, in front of Zalazane, was over half a dozen Troll skulls and heads, placed in a pile. Most of the old skulls were just bone, but some new ones still had the faces of their owners on them, accusingly staring back at Folaji. Their faces expressed the last moments of their lives, which, from the looks of it, had not been pleasant. Other skulls had begun to decompose, and their once firm skin was puffy and pale and hanging loosely to the bone. Folaji’s stomach turned and he stumbled forward.

Unfortunately, whatever advantage he had was lost, because Zalazane had heard his stumble and was turning to face him.

***

Zalazane heard someone come out of the bushes behind him and turned to see who it was. An oddly familiar adult Troll stood infront of him. The Troll was obviously taken aback by the skulls in the circle of power, and paid little attention to Zalazane.

Just a scout sent from Sen’Jin, Zalazane confidently thought to himself.

So he did what he usually did when Sen’Jin village sent its scouts over; he began to hex the Troll into submission. This Troll, however, was different. He quickly realised what was happening and surprisingly cast a sheet of ice on the ground, freezing him into place.

“Not any scout this time, but a mage!” Zalazane said, stuck to the ground.

“Your whicked days be over Zalazane!” The Troll said, preparing a fire spell.

“It not be the first time I hear dat, my friend.” Zalazane answered, looking suggestively at the pile of skulls on the ground.

The young Troll raised his hands, preparing to throw the fireball he had conjured. The sleeves of his shirt lowered and Zalazane saw the the Troll’s weak right arm. The fireball raced across the air, hitting Zalazane in the chest and burning a big hole in his clothes, but not much else.

“Ya know, it be takin’ much more than a small fireball to hurt me, young Folaji.”

“So ya remember me?” Folaji said, preparing another fireball spell.

“Of course. Not many Trolls have escaped from me, and I be sure to remember the ones dat do, ” he snickered. “Your father, however, prooved to be a much better source of power than yourself.”

Another fireball rushed forwards. Zalazane tried to avoid it, but his feet were still forzen in ice. The fire exploded all around him, its flames licking his whole body. He winced at the unexpected pain. He was now litterally smoking, as though he had just been cooked, and could smell the smell of his skin burning.

This young Troll really means business, Zalazane thought, beginning to think he may have underestimated Folaji. He pulled his legs up and realized he could move his feet, althought they were still stuck to the ground. He figured that in a couple of seconds, he would be free, and would hex Folaji for good. He just needed to buy time, to scare him a little.

“You be much more powerful than the last time we met, young Folaji. Do you remember dat time?” Zalazane asked.

Folaji was sturring up another fireball, his last he hoped. “Why? You be surprised mon?”

“Maybe,… I knew you would be makin’ powerful magic someday, but you were so small back then,” Zalazane answered, smiling and waving his hand in the air.

Slowly, and quite suddenly, Folaji began to shrink. His surroundings got bigger, and his clothes became baggy and started falling. Zalazane saw Folaji panick and the fireball between his hands dissapear. He was slightly amused at the shrinking Troll trying to pull up his ever growing pants.

Zalazane jerked his legs with all his might and freed himself from the melting ice around his feet. He threw himself onto the now child-size Folaji and they both fell down, tumbling over the edge of the hill.

Folaji’s head smacked to the ground with a loud thud, only a couple of meters from the soft sandy beach. Zalazane was quick to follow, and landed right on top of him with all of his weight. A loud crunch was heard, scaring birds in nearby trees.

In the moonlight, blood poured from between the two bodies, onto the ground and into the sea.

***

In an instant, calm filled her spirit. The wrinkles and frowns were gone, and all that was left was a healthy and mature face. Slowly, she got up and walked towards the balcony edge. From there, she stared out onto Sen’Jin village and its evening buzz. Trolls had gathered around the pond, some dancing, others telling jokes and talking about the events that unfolded earlier during the day.

Folla saw it all happen, and couldn’t believe her eyes. She slowly got up behind her, and expected the yelling to start any second.

But her Aunt didn’t yell, or scream, or blurt out nonsence as Folla had expected. Instead she turned slowly and faced her niece with a warm smile and tired bright blue eyes. Folla, realizing what had happened, quickly jumped into her Aunt’s arms.

“Aunt Vhan!” Folla said, barely holding back tears. “You’re back!”

Series Navigation<< Prologue Part III – Questions and AnswersPrologue Part V – Celebrations >>Chapter 1 – Rolling Greens >>
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