Starlyn and Anastas jumped up, ready to flee.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the troll warned.
The deep growls of what could only be mountain wolves made Starlyn and Anastas freeze in place. Mountain wolves were among the most vicious creatures in Kilacomb. With heavy, over-sized jaws, the mountain wolf could break bone as easily as breaking a twig. The troll himself was like a giant and Starlyn had never seen a man so tall
“What do want with us, sir,” Starlyn asked, “We’ve done you no harm.”
The wolves sat obediently by the troll’s side, just waiting for the word to tear the two females apart.
“Now what in world is a Beast doing with a human?” the troll asked, “I know very well you’re not supposed to be alone in this dangerous part of the forest, little girl, so do tell.”
“Please, sir,” Starlyn implored, “we want nothing more than to go on our way.”
“Ahh, so I should just let you walk on by, right?” the troll inquired, “Maybe give you my blessing and a kiss on the forehead?”
Throwing her hand up over her mouth in an attempt to staunch the flow of wild giggles that welled from the pit of her belly, failing miserably as peal after peal of laughter came pouring out as she pictured the ugly beast kissing her gently on the forehead. Anastas looked at her friend as if she’d suddenly grew horns. The troll’s eye’s widened as he watched the crazy human laugh so hard she had to sit down.
“Are you quite finished with your fit?” he asked, “If so, stand up and face me!”
“Why?” Starlyn choked out, ‘so you can kiss my forehead and bless me?”
This brought on more gales of laughter that made even the Troll’s mouth quiver with undesired mirth.
“Starlyn! Stop before you get us killed!” Anastas cried and turning to the Troll, tried to apologize.
“Please, sir,” she apologized, “My friend is very tired and confused. She really isn’t in her right mind. If you could just overlook her hysterics, I’m sure you’ll see she’s really just an ordinary human. Nothing special or intimidating about her at all.”
Raising an eyebrow, the troll looked over at the giggling girl, doubtful. He wasn’t sure what to make of her. Her wild red hair tumbled about her head as if it were on fire while tears ran from her strange, green eyes. She was unlike any human he’d ever crossed paths with. Most screamed with fear and their men did their best to kill him. But here she was, laughing so hard her body shook with mirth. He was intrigued.
“What is your name, girl!” he demanded, “and stop that infernal giggling!”
Wiping her tears, she stood up and quieted, though the laughter was still in her eyes.
“Forgive me, kind sir,” she said, her voice unsteady, “my name is Starlyn and my companion’s name is Anastas. We’re traveling together.”
“That’s obvious, girl,” he said grumpily, “why? What business do have that you travel alone, two lone females?”
“Well, it’s kind of a long story,” Starlyn answered, “but first, we’ve told you our names, so how about telling us your’s?”
The troll was flustered. No one ever asked him name before, they were too busy screaming and scrambling to get away. He had to think a minute as he almost forgot the name his mother had given him.
“My name is Gorvanal, the second,” he added, “I live in these mountains and want to keep it that way. The more of you I let through, then more will come and I will not allow that.”
“Well, I have idea, if you’d be so kind as to listen,” Starlyn offered, not waiting for a reply, “How about if you travel with us, sort of like our guardians. You’ll still be doing the same thing you always do, only different. You’ll be protecting us instead of trying to scare us away.”
Gorvanal thought about the human’s offer, shocked by her straightforward, fearless attitude. He couldn’t help but like the young girl, no matter how hard he tried not to. His wolves demeanor also changed from that of fierceness to a soft whining for attention. Not from him, from her. Their tails, once held low and tucked under, were now held high, softly waving. Their ears which were laid back against their heads, were now standing at attention. Worthless mutts, he thought. The young Atranoch was also an enigma. He’d heard the dragons had wiped them off the face of the earth, yet, here she stood and with a human as well. Nothing made any sense!
“What’s in it for me, human?” he asked gruffly, “What do I get out of the deal?”
“Companionship? Friendship? Conversation?” Starlyn replied, “It’s all I can offer you.”
Gorvanal laughed heartily at her ignorance, but inside, was amazed by her innocence. But the oddest thing of all, he was going to accept. He couldn’t even remember a time when someone or something made him smile or want to actually laugh. He’d never had a friend, or conversation and never companionship. This was going to be interesting.
“I’m only accepting because I’ve never been in the company of insanity before and it’s most interesting,” he teased.
“That’s funny,” she quipped, “I was thinking the exact same thing!”
This time the troll did laugh, blushing a deep red at the harsh sound, foreign to his ears.
“See?” Starlyn smiled up at him, “it’s not so bad. You laughed and you’re still here! May I pet your wolves, Gorvanal? Will they bite me?”
“Look at them, simpering beasts, he said, disgusted, “No, they won’t bite you. They’ve taken a liking to you, girl.”
Anastas watched in horror as her crazy friend stepped up to the huge wild canines without fear, crooning to them as if they were newborns. She wanted to touch the wolves, too, but her fear of them overcame her curiosity. She thought back to a time when her, Destrian and their mom were being pursued by a pack of the giant creatures and how their mother outsmarted them by creating a maze in a cornfield; a labyrinth of twists and turns that only she could remember. Together they ran through the never-ending tunnels of corn, listening to the wolves yip and pant excitedly behind them as they gave chase. She remembered her mother’s fear that something would happen to her twins as she clutched their hands tightly, leading them to safety, just barely. Ever since that day, the mere sound of wolves howling in the distance was enough to strike fear into her heart. She enviously watched as Starlyn boldly approached the large beasts and place her hand gently on their great, shaggy heads. In return, the wolves took Starlyn’s small hand in their powerful jaws in a show of affection without so much as a scratch.
Starlyn was overwhelmed with emotion as the wolves showered her with unconditional love. She plunged her hands into their luxurious fur as they both tried to take the attention away from the other. Endearing, they lay on their backs, totally submissive to her. Even Gorvanal was amazed at the devotion they showered upon the human and more than a little jealous. He raised the pups after slaughtering their mother as she attacked to protect them and they never left his side.
“Everything seems to fall in love with you after they meet you,” he stated, not in the least bit embarrassed. “You have a way about you that’s refreshing and honest.”
“You just have to treat things as you want to be treated,” she said simply, “Every living thing on this planet has a yearning to be loved and accepted, there’s no great mystery. My dragon brother, Dae, knows how I feel about that more than anyone. That’s why we left, Gorvanal. He broke that trust by killing Anastas’ twin brother. Now she is alone, a hated creature by most in Kilacomb. He KNEW how I felt and still killed Destrian!”
“He must have felt he was protecting you,” Gorvanal suggested, “The Atranoch aren’t exactly known for their hospitality. So, where are going and how far?”
“Far enough so my friend will be safe,” Staryln answered, “I need to be assured that she will not be harmed by dragon or anything else ready to kill the last Atranoch.”
“So be it, my young friend, follow me.” Grovanal told her, his wolves leading the way. He knew there would probably be repercussions from his lending aide to her, but he was having too much fun to care.
Daelyn tried to calm his mother down after he explained how he killed the young Atranoch.
“Will we ever be rid of those obnoxious beasts?” Shapira raged, lips curled in a snarl, “I swear, when I see that girl I’m going thrash her within an inch of her life! Do you know what direction she went, Dae?”
“She was heading for Black Mountain on Rane with that Atranoch,” he told her, “Should we tell the elders?”
“Black Mountain?” Shapira gasped, “But the troll lives in that area! He’ll tear her to shreds!”
“Son, get ready to travel,” Baylor said, “and Shapira, tell the elders what is happening. They’re not going to be happy at this new trouble concerning Starlyn. They grudgingly loved the human girl, but their strict rules took precedence over emotions. Starlyn would be severely punished for her mischief and this time, Shapira couldn’t protect her.
“Be safe, my love,” Shapira said to her mate, “Bring her back to us.”
Baylor nuzzled her affectionately, “Don’t worry, my sweet, we will bring her back safe and sound.”
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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