The hum and thrum that woke the twins could have come from insect wings, but over the years of travelling with the two trolls I had learned they often woke suddenly when something unexpected was about to happen. As I stood and strapped my sword to my hip the noises of the surrounding forests became muted as I strained to listen for anything unusual. I watched as Kraknoc and Sernella changed colours and were swallowed by the brush and shadows. The trolls, though rather small, were tough and about the most stubborn critters on the planet. I had no doubt that they would be able to handle whatever awaited discovery.
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We had travelled through the entirety of the land all the while being stalked by someone or something, but had never caught a glimpse or clue as to who or what it was. It was this I was thinking when I heard Kraknoc let loose his fight call followed quickly by Sernella\'s attempt of the same. I say \"attempt\" because Sernella has never quite mastered the fight call. This is not to say she had not mastered the skills of fighting, on the contrary. I have personally witnessed her role in the downing and consumption of a full grown brown dragon. I can assure you this is no small feat.
I began to run towards the cacophony that was the twins encountering their adversary when, to no surprise to me, it ended abruptly. I arrived at the carnage to find the twins congratulating each other in their ritual way. They had defeated the stalker turned quarry and as it turned out it was only a rock wolf. Rock wolves were a common creature in the country we were in and are a constant menace. The end result of these frequent encounters was often rock wolf stew. A simple and tasty dish that was Sernella\'s favourite culinary creation. I was beginning to believe that it was the only thing she was able to cook but no matter, it filled the void often, and I am not one to complain.
\"I wish you two would leave some of the fighting to me.\" I said as I started to skin the 400 LB beast. \"I am afraid that my sword skills are getting a little rusty.\"
Kraknoc looked at me with his one eye and crooked grin. \" Well now your skills will match your sword\" he said in his gravely toned voice \"I doubt you could slice through a dense fog with that thing. Your father would cuff you upside your head if he saw the condition of his sword\"
With that said he walked casually over and cuffed me in the head sending me reeling into the under brush. I, of course, responded the only way one should respond when cuffed by a troll. I got up and resumed my work at the carcass.
Having finally cut my way through to the tenderloin of the beast I handed it over to Sernella who quickly started to set up the cooking pots. She moved her hands over the pots and mumbled the incantation for Likefire. Once the pots were sufficiently heated she continued with gathering various roots and berries to add to the dish. I was constantly amazed at the variety of things she collected for the stew. They were never the same ingredients yet somehow the flavour remained the same.
After the meal, I drew my sword and some polishing oil and started to remove the rust from the blade. The twins were rubbing themselves up against the nearest tree in an effort to accelerate their moulting process when I was struck with an idea. \"Kraknoc, why don\'t we steal you a sword so that you and I can spar? It would help keep my skills honed and you could learn to use a sword.\"
I was not expecting the second cuff of the day when it came. I remember thinking as I was tumbling ass over tea kettle across the ground \"How does he move so silently?\" Alas, when I came to a halt I had forgotten all I knew of how to respond to a troll attack and quickly stood with my sword in the fight stance. I will not soon forget the sly grin that over came his usually stolid face just before he pummelled me into submission.
Once I had cried \"uncle\" a sufficient amount of times, he released me from his hold and told me once again \"Trolls are forbidden to use weapons of man. To do so would violate the Trulama. Never suggest it again, unless of course you enjoy these periodic beatings.\"
If the truth be known, I did in fact enjoy the occasional scuffle with either Kraknoc or Sernella. I was not fond of the inevitable outcome, me laying prostrate on the ground screaming uncle and bleeding from one or more minor wounds, but I was able to learn a lot from the thrashings.
Kraknoc spoke often of the Trulama. This was the equivalent to a list of rules that every troll must follow in order to achieve the goal of entrance into Colsoma, or heaven for you and I. When he spoke of it, it was with an intensity and reverence one rarely encounters. For the twins, every action and event would hearken back to the Trulama. They would sometimes spend hours trying to reconcile an event or action. There was a time when we had taken refuge from a storm in a small farm house. The occupants of the house were elsewhere and we were forced to break one rule of the Trulama \"A Troll shall not usurp another\'s property or rights\" in order to fulfil another, \"A troll shall ensure the health and safety of his charge in all circumstances\". It took quite some time for the twins to reconcile that conflict. In the end they decided that a purification ceremony was necessary to be sure they had not been listed in the Book of The Lost. The purification ritual is a long and arduous affair that requires hours of chanting and ritual scorching of the skin to remove the impurities of the actions in question.
With the meal done and my sword finally rust free and honed to perfection we decided that we should continue on our way to the city of Grum. We had only three more days until the moon was to be new and if we were not in the safety of the city walls by then I was sure to get lots of sword practice. In the land of Quonell one did not wander about with the new moon for that was the time of the Awakening.