So, I’m not feeling the NaNo spirit this year. I have a lot of things on my plate and writing a novel in a month is at the bottom of the priority list, but I’m doing it anyway. Since I’m stuck and since the idea for this novel has gotten such great reception, I thought I’d give you the first draft chapter.
Here you go. Arthur 13 (title of the book to be decided upon later, current working title is ” The King Has Returned”.)
Arthur 13: The King Has returned
The sound of a tree trunk hitting stone echoed across the valley. It was soon followed by the thunderous crack of stone against stone. The sounds rang out across the night. Arthur sat on a fallen log and watched impassively. He was bored. Territory disputes between trolls were nothing new, and as far as Arthur was concerned, they were a waste of his time and talents.
He heaved a sigh and cupped his chin in his hand as he watched the ten foot tall monsters swing branch and fist at one another. Trolls were notoriously dull witted, despite having huge brains inside their massive skulls. They were primal things, never having evolved much past the lone wolf type of creature that they had been at the dawn of time. No one ever spoke of massive Troll cities, or the wonderful things that trolls produced. They weren’t delicate in any sense of the word. Trolls were massive beasts, some had horns, others didn’t. They were as diverse as the forests and mountains that they usually inhabited. Bridge trolls were the smartest of the lot, and everyone knows how the story of the Billy Goats ended.
They were enormous creatures. Each of the Trolls fighting in front of Arthur had to weigh as much as an elephant. Small elephants, Arthur corrected himself. The kind that don’t have tusks. He shook his head and tried not to fall asleep as the Trolls laboured on, determined to fight each other until some ancient, primal form of compromise or satisfaction was reached. Arthur wished that the old attempts to civilize the Trolls had worked; it would have made his task as Warden a lot easier if there was some form of protocol that he could just shout at the giant things. Instead he was forced to watch, to make sure that no one was injured in the fight. No one else, anyway. Not that there was anyone else around, Trolls were amazingly reclusive and the chances of one being spotted by someone who didn’t know what to look for was marginal at best.
Trolls fought slowly. They did almost everything slowly. They lived life at a pace that even the most laid back humans would find uncomfortable. They lived in hollows, in caves and damp places. They only moved to forage, and these huge things weren’t the kind of trolls that turned into stone in the sunlight. These were creatures leftover from the dawn of time and so solitary that they’d never even incurred the wrath of any mortal, immortal or deity in their long existence. They simply were.
Arthur jumped in his spot as the smaller of the two Trolls swung a fist and connected with the larger Troll’s knee. There was the crash of stone against stone and a howl of what Arthur assumed was pain from the bigger Troll. The smaller Troll stepped back a little bit, moving away from his opponent as he steadied himself and prepared for the next swing. It was like the slowest boxing match he had ever seen. And he didn’t even mention the smell.
The smaller Troll had regained his momentum quickly and was about to make another attack when the Troll with the club swung it around in a sweeping arc, catching the smaller Troll on the side of the head, stunning him in place. Another, secondary crack of the tree the bigger, greyer one of the Trolls was using as a club echoed through the night air. Arthur had to stifle a yawn as the branch broke in half and clattered to the ground. The Troll on the receiving end of the tree branch beat down staggered and dropped to his (it’s? Arthur wasn’t even sure what gender the Trolls were and he didn’t particularly want to find out) knees and grunted once before falling face first into the dirt. Arthur forced himself up from the fallen log where he’d been seated, running a hand through his dusty brown hair as the triumphant Troll bellowed it’s victory to the night sky.
“Are you quite finished, then?” Arthur asked, his British accent markedly picking out each syllable.
The big grey Troll turned dull, glittering eyes to Arthur, as if he had forgotten that the Warden had showed up. The Troll shrugged and grunted.
Arthur nodded. “So you emerged victorious, congratulations. Now, was this your territory to start with?”
The Troll nodded.
“You understand me all right, do you speak English?” Arthur pressed, trying to keep the annoyance he felt at having to deal with the whole situation out of his words. He didn’t feel like ending up on the receiving end of a Troll’s ire, especially not one who had just handily incapacitated another Troll.
The Troll held up his hand, pinching his thumb and index finger together in the universal symbol for ‘a little bit’.
Arthur flashed a smile, the same one he’d used to charm faeries off their toadstools and panties off of girls in the club. “Fantastic, so may I please start with your name?”
“Hamish,” the Troll grunted.
Arthur had to blink back his surprise. “I’m sorry, did you just say Hamish?”
The Troll nodded.
“All right, Hamish, erm, since you’ve won the skirmish, you understand now that I am going to call the Round Table to come in and clean up and relocate your… vanquished foe?”
Hamish nodded again.
“Why did this fight begin?” Arthur asked, pulling a notebook and pen out of his woollen trench coat and clicking the button on the pen.
“He came to my house without invitation,” Hamish said slowly, his face screwing up in concentration as he forced the right words. “Said that… Said that he needed to move in because I am too weak and my house is too… What is word?” he asked. “Word for more than not enough?”
Arthur felt his own teeth bite into his tongue to keep the laugh from escaping him. “Plentiful?” he suggested.
Hamish shrugged. “Said I not good enough to have this. That I am too old and that younger Troll need more for mate.”
Arthur nodded, though he’d never heard of Trolls mating and sharing territory. He made a note in his book to ask about that later. “All right, it sounds like this is a cut and dry case of territorial infringement. You need to stay here and when the Round Table comes, they’ll have to ask you a few more questions. You’re not in trouble, you’re clearly in the right.”
“Thank you,” Hamish said, bowing until his bulbous nose touched the ground. “You are a kind and noble king.”
Arthur snorted at that last comment. “Did you use that line on my last predecessor?”
“Three of them,” Hamish rumbled.
Arthur’s eyes widened in surprise. “Three?” he croaked. “You look good for your age.”
Hamish smiled, revealing his craggy, broken, obsidian teeth. “You are a kind a noble king to say such good things to Hamish.”
“I’ll remind you that you said that next time I need a favour,” Arthur joked.
Hamish nodded amiably and settled back down to wait for the Round Table operatives to arrive.
Arthur shrugged to himself and walked a few paces away, putting away his notebook and taking out his cell phone. He pressed a speed dial button and held the phone up to his ear. “This is Arthur. I need a clean up crew at my location. GPS coordinates will be arriving momentarily. It’s a Troll territorial dispute, bring transport.”
Arthur hung up the phone and tucked it into his pocket. A small cough caught his attention.
Standing right in front of him was a lithe gentleman in a long, grey cloak. Arthur knew who he was immediately, though the man’s name escaped him.
“You guys sure move fast when there’s Trolls involved,” Arthur pointed out.
The man in the cloak smiled and bowed. “Sir Lorrin at your service.”
“You’re not one of the regular guys,” Arthur pointed out. “You’re from the magic department. No laws of magic were broken here.”
“No, no! I know, that’s not why I’m here,” Sir Lorrin explained.
Arthur eyed the lesser wizard suspiciously. “Then what are you doing here?”
“Forgive me, sire, but I’m here to escort you back to Camelot.”