|Of Men and Trolls
Author: Octoberly PM
Entry for a local contest in my county. A short story about being different and standing strong. One-shot. Edit: replaced with final draft that was sent to contest. This story won first for my age group in the county, and 2nd for my age in the state.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Words: 1,502 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Published: 12-09-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2871796
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It is one of the oldest of Halcyon's stories, from back in ancient times before the kingdom ever existed. Long before my time, and even longer before yours. Elasis Macdavver lived along the Sodi River, at the foot of the mountain of Liyon. There were no queens, just wives, chosen to a husband, their duty to make sure he was happy and served and that children were born and raised well. Not many liked it, but nobody did anything about it.
The day was busy. Young women, ages twelve to twenty-five, were readying themselves for a Choosing. Elasis was one of these women. She tied her hair back into a tight fishbone braid and traded her pants and hood for a long dress. Elasis wrinkled her nose as she looked down at herself.
"Elasis! Don't do that! You'll have a crease between your eyes and no man will dare marry you," her mother scolded.
"That'd be fine by me," Elasis murmured, "I'd rather run away into the mountain than live as a servant to an incompetent pig for the rest of my life." Her mother sniffed.
"Your father isn't a pig, and you ought not be thinking that way."
"I'll believe that when you do," Elasis snapped. Her mother threw her hands into the air.
"Where did I go wrong?" Elasis shook her head.
Elasis' mother flushed red, wringing her hands, walking away without another word. Elasis smoothed another wrinkle in her skirt and slipped on a pair of fur-lined leather boots, hoping the skirt would cover over them, or her mother would scold her for that, too. Stomping out the door, Elasis grimaced at the thought of men waltzing around, looking at the women lined up as if looking over fish in a market. She thought of all the other girls who had been waiting for this same thing she dreaded all their lives. She wondered if she'd be shunned if she stomped on a foot or two… She shrugged; no more than already, she figured.
She had taken part in Choosing before, yet remained unmarried. She'd considered running away if the day ever came. As she stepped into the square, the other girls were beginning to straighten into a line. People who had come to watch formed a circle around them, trying to get a good look at the young women in the center.
Elasis placed herself by a slightly older girl, about sixteen or seventeen. She was tall and slender with lovely silver-white hair and cool blue eyes. She turned to look at Elasis.
"Are you excited?" she inquired.
"No," replied Elasis tersely.
"Do you think you'll be picked?"
"I hope not," Elasis crossed her arms to make her point clear. The other girl looked away and didn't say anything for a moment. Elasis turned away, thinking their brief exchange was over.
"My name is Rosewood," she said. Elasis turned back to look her in the eye.
"You can call me Elasis," she said, looking up since Rosewood was a few inches taller.
"I don't want to be picked, either," Rosewood said more quietly. Elasis could only nod without a word. She opened her mouth to say something more, but shut up as several young men stepped into the clearing from the crowd around them. Elasis kept her chin up, glancing sideways at Rosewood and trying not to ball her hands into fists.
Elasis felt two holes boring into her. She turned her head, and caught a young man of seventeen or eighteen staring at her. Elasis screamed inside herself. It was Melvic, the local hotshot. When he saw her make eye contact, he sent her a wink, a confident smile on his face. He planned to Choose her. An old man shuffled agonizingly slowly into the center of the clearing.
"Begin," he said, donning a kindly smile. Melvic wasted no time getting to her. He took Elasis' hand and asked her name. She answered sharply, looking at him with the same disgust as she had when she looked at herself in a dress. He hardly noticed.
"Have you heard?" Melvic asked one afternoon, two moons later, "I was hunting the other day, and I saw a troll in the woods! A big ugly thing with yellow eyes and horrible fangs and horns! It saw me, and I was just able to outrun it, wonder of wonders. I've decided to kill it before it reaches town." Elasis didn't usually listen to Melvic's stories; she'd heard him drone on and on to anyone in earshot, and now that they were engaged, he hung 'round like fog, which meant she was most usually the victim. Normally, he spoke about the majestic black Mountain Cats that he had seen or the Goldenwing Geese he'd shot. The little things that anyone who could hold a bow could shoot. However, a troll was huge. If it were to get into town… For once, Elasis was actually interested.
She was also worried though. Sure, Melvic was supposedly a hunter, but he was mostly talk. Elasis had been with him in the forests once or twice, and he was not particularly skilled; he'd missed several shots and wasted time picking up his arrows. She was sure he could not kill a Liyon Mountain troll by himself, and Elasis knew the fool would try to be a hero and go on his own. Maybe she was crazy, but she somehow had the idea that she could. At that point, she stopped listening and as the gears in her head started turning, she made her plans. The first thing she established was that she'd go that night at sundown.
The sky was painted pink and orange by the setting sun. It was nearly time. Elasis ate an early supper and dressed in a hood that spread over her shoulders. Cotton pants and wool socks clothed her legs and the boots kept her feet warm, while the fishbone braid kept her hair from her face. There was one last thing she needed; a weapon.
Her father had a small wooden box, sitting by his bed. Nobody but him was meant to touch it, but Elasis knew what was inside. Elasis had learned over time that breaking one rule often lead to another. Elasis quickly approached the little case, kneeled down and pried it open. There it was, a large dagger with a smooth ebony handle, a dark leather sheath covering the deadly silver blade. Without a second thought, the knife was in Elasis' hand and she was heading out the door.
Getting to the woods was a bit harder, though, but she found her way without being seen, and sprinted the final stretch into the cover of the trees. The sun was long gone, and Elasis was deep into the forest, making her way up the mountain. So far, all had been quiet, nothing more than the call of a night bird. All of a sudden, something caught her eye. As she turned to look, she found herself staring into the emerald green eyes of a Black Mountain Cat. The cat turned and ran, but as Elasis was about to keep moving, it came back with an expectant expression. It seemed like it wanted her to follow. So she did, and as it looked over its shoulder and made sure she was there, it picked up the pace, and the pair were running silently through the forest.
Suddenly, the cat stopped and crouched behind a bush. From the other side came an ugly snorting and the shuffling of leaves as the Troll stumbled around clumsily. The cat glanced over at her and a silent understanding sort of passed between them. The cat nudged her hand with its nose, and Elasis unsheathed the knife. Quick as a lightning bolt, the cat burst through the leaves and pounced at the Troll with Elasis following just seconds behind. As the cat engaged in a deadly fight with the Troll, Elasis established a rhythm; at the moment she saw an opportunity, she would dash in and strike, wait, and dash in again. Elasis and the cat worked in almost perfect synchronization. In what only seemed like minutes, although it was at least an hour later, the troll fell, and Elasis ended it with one final blow. Elasis cut at the horn atop the Troll's head, until it came into her hand. With her head held high, she started on her way down the mountain.
With the horn in one hand and the cat by her side, Elasis smiled as the first lights touched the horizon. Everything seemed new. She looked to the cat. She thought she'd never had a better day in her life.
"I'll call you Dawn," she said, and the name seemed to suit the cat very well, "For it is a new day."