So a few weeks ago I wrote a story involving a shape changing troll by the name of Broman. Much to my surprise, readers unanimously asked for more story involving this troll.
So welcome to Troll Testing…I hope you enjoy=)
“They’re the easiest to catch, the most trusting and the weakest…” Faden trailed off as the children drew close to their hiding spot in their game of ball. When they moved away again, Faden picked up his instruction. “They’re also the tastiest, but watch out. Humans have a strange connection with their young. They’ll track you and burn you with fire.”
Faden turned to display the scared side of his bulbous face.
Broman eyed those scares with envy. They were a sign of success, of the large troll’s strength. Some day he’d bear such scares and the others would envy him.
“You listening, Stump!” Faden’s fist smacked Broman’s temple.
Stumbling backwards, Broman caught himself on a tree before he stepped out into the meadow. He held his breath as the tree wobbled but then it stilled and none of the children seemed to notice.
“Yes, my Master,” he said as Faden raised his fist again.
The fist paused and Faden narrowed his eyes. “You’re a disgrace. No wonder your sir abandoned you.”
All Broman could do was nod. Faden took him in only because he lacked young to pass his legacy on to. He couldn’t care less about Broman beyond the ability to show him off like he’d taken rotten meat and turned it into roast.
“Then tonight at the challenge, prove it. You don’t come back with the first child and you’ll never be welcome in my cave again.”
Broman’s stomach heaved. The threat shouldn’t bother him. He’d been trained to change and hunt, and trolls in general were solitary beings. The threat should actually excite him. The chance to live on his own, to make his own name. But it didn’t. It scared the crumbling teeth out of him.
Faden stalked off and Broman watched his hulking back until he couldn’t see him anymore. Then he turned his eyes on the children playing in the meadow.
Three boys and two girls.
He had to bring one back for dinner tonight before the other trainees.
The blond girl kicked the ball and it bounced off the tree next to the goal. The others sent jeers her way but she smiled at their words. Broman frowned.
The trolls played such games but the jeers were serious. If one threatened to knock the other out for missing the next goal, he had to follow through on the threat.
Hunkering down in the bushes, Broman continued to watch until an idea began to form. It’d never been tried before but, considering his small stature, it might be a better way to capture a child.
He stood and stretched his legs. Then he focused on his form. Being a Changer came easily to him. It’s what caught Faden’s eye when he was picking a trainee. Faden told him often he would have picked Marrik because of his size and savagery, but Marrik was slow in his shape changing. All trolls were capable of it but not all had the mental capacity.
Hunting, however, was not easy for Broman. He over thought everything and, since Faden figured out his weakness, he’d pushed him for more savagery and less thought.
Broman’s heavy shoulders narrowed and his stature shrank even more. For a moment his tongue felt too big for his mouth and then everything settled into place. Looking at his hands to make sure, Broman saw narrow pink fingers lacking enough hair and sleeves too long for his arms.
He took in his belt to accommodate the ‘human’ form and rolled his sleeves up past his elbows. Then he combed his fingers through his hair a few times. Humans seemed to like tidy hair he’d noticed. It was just another sign of the things he thought too much about. But perhaps he could turn his observations to his advantage.
Faden would be proud of him yet.
And with that thought, Broman stepped out into the meadow and waved at the children.
“Mind if I join your game for a while?”
“Mom! We’ve got a guest for dinner!”
Broman ducked through the door behind the girl. He didn’t need to duck but it was a habit that, even in his changed form, he couldn’t quite break.
“Maddy, you know you’re supposed to ask before bringing friends home for dinner,” a woman stepped into the entry hall with a towel thrown over her shoulder. She had the same blond hair as the girl.
Her mouth gapped for a moment.
“Expecting a kid?” Broman gave a slight, teasing smile…at least he hoped it was teasing. Human emotions didn’t always make sense to him.
“I’m sorry, who are you?” the woman asked.
“Broman,” he stuck out his hand to shake as he’d seen others do. The kids had loved it when he introduced himself in the meadow. This woman didn’t seem so thrilled as she eye his hand.
Then, with an exasperated shrug, she shook his hand. “Lacy.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.”
“Come wash up,” Maddy grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the back door directly across the house. She pulled him out into the yard to a bucket full of water.
Watching her for a moment, Broman copied her motions of splashing water across her face and then her arms.
“Brrrr,” he shivered.
“Yup, but it’s better than dirt in the food!” Maddy finished and dried her face on the bottom of her shirt.
Broman wondered how often Lacy told her daughter that. Maddy sounded exactly at he would if he were quoting Faden’s ‘children are far tastier than adults.’
He followed Maddy back in and hesitated over the chair she pointed to. He wasn’t sure he’d fit in it but then, turning it slightly to the side, he slid his legs under the table.
Lacy gave an amused smile. “Father a lumber man?”
Broman frowned and then decided honesty would work just fine. “Wouldn’t know, Ma’am. Never met him.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She set a plate of potatoes and pork before him.
Ducking his head, Broman blinked. The apology shouldn’t bother him but it brought moisture to his eyes all the same.
“That’s all right,” Maddy spoke up, “I never met my daddy either.” She grasped his hand, gave it a squeeze and then let go to dig into her food.
Her hand looked so fragile but the sympathy made his stomach ache. Eating in silence, it was several moments before Broman stopped in wonder. The pork was good. Beyond good. He’d never eaten anything quite like it.
Glancing at Maddy, he ducked his head again, ashamed somehow that humans didn’t taste as good as pork. Something’s wrong with me. I’d rather eat pork than human. Maybe my sir was right, I’m not fit to be a troll.
Maddy held out a hand for his empty plate and he handed it over, then grabbed his cup to follow her to the wash tub.
“Want to kick the ball around in the yard before dark?” she asked as they scrubbed the wooden plates.
It was his chance to prove himself. The opportunity he’d been waiting for. Broman forced a smile. “Sure.”
To Be Finished on Thursday…