the team

Studies in Shadow...from the team at Archimedes Presse
breaking news: book of the month for July at the Book Awards ~ 'The Diamond Seekers'

Friday, August 16, 2013

TROLL RAID by Carol Marrs PhippsTom Phipps


 Troll Raid

 This married team write what might be the most blood thirsty stories you can find in fantasy (five, currently on Amazon). It’s not the clash of titans or the war against Satan, it’s a constant war between elves – whom we’ve come to think of as a refined race – thanks to Tolkien, and trolls whom we traditionally think of as dim-witted and slightly laughable creatures – thanks to Terry Pratchett. Probably nursery rhymes also have something to do with it.

So these gruesome and gory tales are quite startling to the new reader. Make sure you’ve got the hand of youngster close by –  to clutch at when you’re most disturbed.

Carol's & Tom's Fantasy Blog

Inney carefully put away the birthday gifts which she had received for her seventh naming day (ninety-ninth birthday) in the small shed which she would call home for the next several years. Most of her presents would not be used for some time except for the hamper, where her downy eyas would sleep and grow into the shawk spoogh or strike falcon, who would be her companion for the rest of her life. Of course, she would at once fasten the jesses and bells to his legs in preparation for the day she would use the swivel and leash. She would have to get him used to wearing the rufter hood right away as well, or at least as soon as he would allow her to touch him without shying away, since it was one of the most important training tools an Elven austringa had.
She studied her eyas as he in turn watched every single movement of hers with keen orange eyes from the straw of his hamper by her bed. "Sizing me up, are you, Sheshey?" she said. "I hope you approve of what you see because you've got me for good." She washed her hands in the small basin as she was told to do before handling him. "Well, time to get acquainted." She picked up the special feather from Tramman's shawk spoogh, Jeelys and approached, talking reassuringly to him. Slowly she touched him with it for the first time. He trembled just enough to notice, but did not jerk away as she knew many new ones do. Thus encouraged, she stroked him generously. He was quite wary at first, but he never jumped or pulled away. With a smile of delight, she put away the feather for the time being.
A knock on the door announced that Tramman had arrived with feed. He was a master austringa who had been assigned as her mentor. He and his shawk spoogh, Jeelys, had been together for ten years already.
"Come in Tramman!" she called out.
The door opened vigorously as the youthful Elf entered, smiling as he handed hera pail of freshly cubed lean beef. She gave the whistle she had decided upon as she took a piece of the meat and passed it by Sheshey's face.
"Well you'll never be called Ooree again," said Tramman. "So now that you're Inney forever, what'll you call him?"
"He will be Sheshey, I think," said Inney as she began feeding the eyas piece after piece of meat. "Don't you think it suits him?"
"Your mate, aye?" said Tramman with a sincere nod. "It seems right appropriate."
Inney nodded and then froze to listen with horror as screams suddenly broke out all around outside the eyas shed.
"Hide," ordered Tramman, as he rushed to fling aside the throw rug and lift the trapdoor to the cellar made for this very purpose.
Inney did not have to be told twice. She snatched up Sheshey in his box and flew down the steps and into the cellar. She lit the oil lamp and turned to see if Tramman had come down, just as the trapdoor closed. He stayed above. She listened to him dragging her bed across the floor to better hide the way to where she was. Somehow she knew he would join the battle. She prayed the Fates would spare him and Jeelys. They were the best team of their clan and were both her friends. She sat on the cot that would be her bed tonight if the battle went long, she pulled Sheshey's box close to her.
Inney felt a wave of fear and pain as she remembered a particular raid that the Marooderyn Imshee or Elf Killers, a kind of troll, had made on her clan when she was seventy-one (five for an Elf). They took many women and children including her, along with her own mother and baby brother. She had been one of the few lucky ones to be rescued by the clan's austringas and strike falcons, but not before she hadexperienced the horror of watching her mother and brother cooked alive and then eaten. She knew she would always live with the nightmare. She wondered who would die this time.
With his sword drawn, Tramman threw open the door of the eyas shed just in time for Jeelys to knock down and rip open one of the Marooderyn Imshee right in the doorway. Jeelys spun around and pounced on another troll. The one in the doorway staggered up onto a knee, intestines hanging. As he drew back his spear to hurl at Jeelys Tramman ran him through at the shoulder blades with his claymore, then had to draw back and run to jump across his huge carcass to get outside. By now Jeelys had thoroughly ripped apart the second troll and with a rasping shriek had knocked down a third. Tramman looked around wildly and dashed off after a Marooderyn Imshee who had just snatched up a little girl. With furious rage he leaped and planted a foot in the small of the troll's back and cleaved his head with a ringing two handed swing of his claymore. The child tore away screaming, drenched in the brute's blood.
Tramman immediately wheeled aside to help his master Olloo, who was bleeding badly from his shoulder while being set upon by a particularly huge Marooderyn Imshee. With a decisive roar, the troll knocked the sword from Olloo's hand and drew back his mace to make his kill. Tramman sliced off the troll's arm just above the elbow. The troll swung 'round, his eyes ablaze with fury, blood pumping from his stump, as he thrust forth with a spear in his remaining hand. Tramman was caught by surprise. He stumbled, catching himself on his elbows, losing his sword as he fell. As the troll drew back the spear to finish him, Olloo slashed the brute deeply across his back. At once Jeelys slammed into him feet first, knocking him down and disemboweling him, ripping open his throat with his beak. 
Tramman rose on wobbly legs and stood beside Olloo. They studied the grizzly remains of their attackers as Jeelys gave the last troll a final shake for good measure and turned his bloody beak to snap up a stray piece of Elf Killer meat clinging to Tramman's hair. Satisfied that Tramman was indeed unharmed, he stood on the troll's remains and set to work, preening the ichor of battle from his feathers.
Tramman let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He noticed how eerily still things had become and glanced about warily to see if the enemy was entirely gone. "I can't believe that they attacked with this much daylight," he said. "Have you seen them do this before?"
"Not since the one time when I was younger than you," said Olloo as he clapped his arm around Tramman's shoulders. "This gives us the opportunity of a lifetime. Obbree saw the Big Butcher amongst the first wave of them. Come. We must gather the austringas and the regular army and find their stinking cave."
"But it's going to be dark right soon. The strike falcons won't come and the light will be entirely gone, long before we reach the mountains."
"We won't need the falcons, and all we need is to see just how they entered Maidenhair Woods to figure out their cave. Besides, there's going to be a full moon. We've had this strategy waiting for months. Just get moving."
Tramman knew he was lucky to get this much out of Olloo. He immediately took Jeelys to the mews and hurried to the council house where he found Olloo and the other austringas and some of the regular army. At once the austringas were on the trail of the Elf Killers. The regular army, known to them as Yn Armee Hassooagh, followed slowly in their wake, quietly hauling along a disassembled siege engine. They covered almost two leagues, running over the table-flat Strah, through the ten foot tall big blue stem grass before the light failed. Nearly a league remained between them and the woods and mountains, but by the looks of things the trolls had done all of the furtive switching of directions that they were going to during their first league out from Balley Cheerey, and now their trail was heading for the woods in a straight line. They would search for the nearest cave straight into the woods. Yn Armee Hassooagh would wait for them outside the woods in the edge of the Strah.
Beyond a narrow border of briar and rose thicket, the Maidenhair Woods reared up abruptly at the feet of the Eternal Mountains or Sleityn Beayn. Here, Olloo, Trammen and Obbree left the other austringas to wait for Yn Armee while they entered the woods to scout for the  Marooderyn Imshee encampment. They had to be most cautious for fear of being spotted by the trolls, who could see far better in the dark than any Elves. They were in luck, for before long Tramman spotted a light high up on a slope that rose Out of a clearing, which turned out to be a cooking fire at the mouth of a large cavern occupied by trolls. Tramman was sent ahead to investigate. He crept his way up the slope to some bushes to behold in horror the trolls gathered around the fire, feasting on the roasted carcasses of the three children they had stolen away from the village well in Balley Cheerey. He crawled away as quick and as far as he could so that he would not be heard. "Cursed drogh spyrrdyn!" he said, coughing on his vomit. "Rotten devils!" 
Tramman found Olloo and Obbree and they returned with his news to a most grim-faced group of austringas at the edge of the Strah. 
"I hope we kill every one of those oainjeragh," said Daaney, a gnarly faced Elf with coal black hair. His heated pronouncement was met with a round of hearty agreement, but they all lapsed into silence. No one really wanted to talk about it.
Children! thought Tramman as he gave a convulsive shudder, trying to control his fury. Children! Those monsters are eating innocent children. He glanced aside at Olloo and saw by the tear tracks on his master's grimy cheeks that he had been having his own reactions to this atrocity. He clenched his fists and pounded the dirt where he squatted, silently vowing to make every one of the foul beasts suffer and die that he could. And how he hoped the Fates would grant that it would be a good many of them.
"We needed to be afoot to track, but no unicorns was an oversight," said Olloo. "Three leagues is a long run this night to be back by sunrise with our shawkyn spooghey. Let's go."
When the austringas arrived back at Balley Cheerey it felt as though it had an air of morbid expectancy about it. Of course, thought Tramman grimly. None of them ever believed we'd get back with the little tykes. They've only waited for affirmation so they can get on with mourning. He felt a hot shot of anger surge through him.
"Olloo," said Tramman quietly, as if he were speaking out at a funeral, which he practically was.
"Should I release Inney from her cellar, or wait?"
"Tell her to stay until we return again. The Marooderyn Imshee might follow us back to here once we've done our deed. She'd better stay put."
Tramman nodded as he and Obbree headed for the eyas shed to look in on Inney on their way to the mews.



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