This part 2 of the tale. Don’t forget to read Troll Patrol – Part 1. There are only two trolls in the Roost, like Rob said. One stands a little taller than the other, but
This part 2 of the tale. Don’t forget to read Troll Patrol – Part 1.
There are only two trolls in the Roost, like Rob said. One stands a little taller than the other, but they each easily tower above me, their heads nearly scraping the low ceiling. Shaggy hair covers the entirety of their bodies. It flows in rough and dirty waves that cover most of their faces. Except for their noses, which protrude outward, nearly a foot long. One raises a fifth of liquor which looked infantile in his trashcan hands. The contents of the bottle vanish with a slurp and then it falls, littering the floor with more glass shards. I decide to call him Jack.
The other has a keg freshly torn from the bar. He turns the nozzle at the top until it hisses then brings the barrel to his lips. steady stream of beer pours down the front of his beard and rough-spun shirt, but most of finds its way down the troll’s gullet. Bud, I decide.
As constable, I’ve seen my fair share of drunks, but these two are on a whole other level. I ponder Billy Bee’s advice and consider waiting for backup, but one of the trolls leans against a table. Table and troll both collapse with a loud crack, and his keg chugging comrade spews foam from his nose as he laughs. No time for backup. Damned drunks will tear down the Roost before it arrives.
I step forward, draw my sword, and raise my shield. The trolls miss the motion in their drunken reverie, so I bang the flat of the blade to the shield until they look in my direction. The symbol of the Accords is stamped on the front of the metal. It looks like a capital “Y” in fancy font with an extra line running down the middle. It’s encircled by the words “Holtz Hollow Law Enforcement.” Along the outside of the shield is the same message repeated in three different scripts marking me a deputized agent of the Accords.
Jack stands and lifts his bangs above his head. His eyes are black and beady, too small for the rest of his face. He says something, his voice a deep bass that echoes throughout the bar. I don’t recognize any of the words, but they sound vaguely dwarvish. I make a note to question Emmett when Bud moves.
I raise my shield to my face. Metal collides against metal, and the shield pushes back toward my chest. My arms shake as the vibration continues down to my knees as a wave drenches me. All I smell is beer, and I realize the son of a bitch chucked the keg at me. Lowering my shield, I can just make out a shadow towering over me, and I swing my sword.
The sword I carry is a byproduct of the Accords. Sacred dwarven metals melted down and forged by elvish swordsmiths into something sharper than anything on Earth. Moments before Emmett had given it to me, he showed off its sharpness by swinging it cleanly through a thin tree. It had passed through without a sound. The tree toppled over, and the sword remained gleaming and undamaged.
My sword hits something so hard that it bounces out of my hand.
It flies from my grip and clatters across the bar. My hand stings like I stuck it in a wasp’s nest. I wipe the beer-drenched hair from my face. Bud glares at me as he lowers his forearm from his face. A small scratch from the back of his hand to his forearm is the only evidence that my sword even made contact with him. His skin is tougher than my shield.
Earth-folk, Billy had said. He wasn’t kidding.
Bud swings his fist, and I jump back, raising my shield again as I do. The giant knuckles only faintly rap against the metal, but it’s enough to wrench the shield from me. The troll sneers as he closes the distance between us, but I’m glad to be free of the heavy metal. Clearly, I’m not going to be able to move punch for punch with the brute, and I’m faster without it.
When the next wild swing comes, I relax and lean back, and the arm flies over me. I reach up, wrap my arms and legs around Bud’s thick arms and hitch a ride on his arm. My family line has too much human in it to know which fae race my ancestors belong to, but with our unnatural grace, agility, and endurance, we assume it to be one of the air or water-folk. The troll staggers with the momentum from his own blow then stumbles and stares down at the space where I had been a moment ago.
He plays Elmer Fudd for a few seconds, looking left and right then up and down. It’s only when he goes to scratch his head that he notices me coiled around his forearm. He yells something in that familiar but alien tongue and swings his arm wildly, trying to shake me loose. I cling tighter and slowly work my way up his sleeve. I can’t outfight this guy, but most folk have a similar respiratory and cardiovascular system to humans. If I can get around his neck, maybe I can get the big bastard in a sleeper hold.
The plan dies as a pair of thick fingers wrap around my neck from the opposite direction. Shit. I forgot about Jack. I let go of Bud’s arm so Jack doesn’t wrench my head from my body. The weight around my neck disappears, and I’m flying through the bar. I try to right myself as gravity pushes down on me, but my fae grace might as well be non-existent as I cannonball through several tables and chairs before slamming into the opposite wall.
Every instinct screams for me to get up, but something in my back yanks itself in the opposite direction as I try. I bite down the scream as the few remaining tables clatter to the side as Bud makes a b-line towards my resting spot. Knowing I have no place to run, I pull the wooden gun from my holster. His scraggly face is in front of mine, and I reach for the nearest emotions and memories as I pull the trigger.
My fresh panic and anger mix with the recollection of Randy Carter hounding my friends and me with fireworks one summer. Funny the places your mind goes to when faced with mortal peril. The grip of the gun sears in my hand as a gush of flame erupts from the barrel. The stench of burning hair invades my nostrils as Bud roars back, fanning at the inferno that his beard has become. Jack rushes to his side, pouring bottles of vodka and rum onto the fire, which only makes the flame more intense.
Magic is a tricky thing. It can level the odds in a fight, but good luck getting it to work under those circumstances. Magic is all about visualization and the power of thought. Combat is all reflex and reaction. The two don’t mix well. That quick bit of spell-shot had just saved my life, but it could’ve just as easily set the Roost on fire. I decide not to tell Rob that as I make my way painfully to my feet.
As I rise, Jack dumps the rest of Bud’s keg onto the fire, extinguishing it with a hiss and puff of foul smoke. Bud’s drenched face is now a patchwork of burns and pure hate. I ignore that and think of summers with my Mamaw. Of sleeping outside in a hammock until the morning sun peeked its head over the mountains and the gentle aroma of coffee and freshly baked biscuits mingle as the first bit of summer heat shakes me gently from my sleep.
The memories overcome the stink of beer and burning hair, and I raise my spell-shooter again. Both trolls flinch as I pull the trigger but laugh at the empty click. They march toward me, both of them, no longer willing to take chances fighting one-on-one. Compared to the last display the spell isn’t near as showy, but I see the tiny orange prick of light twinkle between us.
The spark grows bigger with each passing moment. After a couple of seconds, it pulses as big as a softball, then a basketball, then big as the troll themselves. Bud blinks as Jack shouts something and turns to run. He’s too late. The manifestation of morning light washes over both of them, and they turn to stone, caught in a mix of fear and dumb curiosity.
I holster my spell-shooter, gather up my sword and shield, and make my exit. Rob’s waiting nearby. He waddles past me, and the cigar drops from his mouth as he surveys the wreckage of his bar. Limping, he’s quick to catch up and grabs me roughly by the shoulder.
“What the hell did you to do my bar?!” His courage lasts a matter of seconds against my tired glare before he lets go.
“You’re insured, Rob. Take it up with the mayor’s office. You know you’ll be compensated.”
“For the damages, sure.” He thrusts his swollen fingers back to the bar. “But I got a gotdang statue of two trolls and a miniature sun in there! What about my business for the night?”
“Goddammit, Rob.” I had fired off the last my patience preparing my spell. “My ass could’ve been stomped flat, and your patrons would drink in a pool of my guts so long as you still had some booze to sell. Which you do. When life gives you stoned trolls, make some lemonade.”
I might be mixing my metaphors, or maybe I have a concussion, I’m not sure which. Leaving Rob with my advice, I make my way back to my Jeep. I finish lugging my gear in the backseat when Billy Bee pops up in a flash of light and hiccups again.
“Sorry Haze, no backup.”
“No shit,” I say before I can taper off some of the venom, then rub my eyes and sigh. “Sorry, Billy. Been one of those nights. What about the rest?”
Billy is all smiles. “All of the ring keepers have gathered at city hall. Mayor Holtz is there too.”
I nod my thanks to Billy, climb into my Jeep and start my engine. Reaching for the cup in my holder, I drain the last couple of cold drops within. At least there would be more at city hall. I put my Jeep into gear and turn away as the line of patrons form at the Roost’s door again.
To Be Continued…