Rated: E · Short Story · Comedy · #2193397
Trolls forage on a battlefield. Winner of the Writer's Cramp, June 15 2019.
Lieutenant Gozni Kalibon Kornbuster was the first to see the battlefield they were looking for. The humped and grotesque shapes of bodies, shadows of death in the moonlight, spread like a street of poorly-laid cobbles as far as the trollish eye could see. This had been quite a fight, it seemed.
Gozni turned and held up a bloated hand to stop the column. It shuffled to a halt and now the Lieutenant could see his Sergeant, Old Snotleg Pigwart, bringing order to the rear. In just a few minutes all seventeen trolls were assembled into a square and Gozni shouted above the muttered grumbles and curses.
“Now listen up, you bugburpers. We 'ave got where we was goin’ and can take a little rest afore we gets busy. You see afore you all what remains of the Battle of Thun. In the mornin’ we’ll see what pickin’s we can get from these dear departed fig munchers. Dunno ‘bout you but I’ve 'ad me fill of this dented old helmet and breastplate - fancy I’ll find just the things I needs out there.”
Gozni now ordered the troop to settle down for what little of the night remained. Suddenly uncomplaining, the trolls dropped where they were and soon the mountains behind them echoed with the sound of snoring. Only Old Snotleg stayed awake, a hunched figure unmoving beyond the main body.
In the morning it took less than an hour for the trolls to assemble and move out to the plain, so eager were they to get to their gruesome harvest. They spread out as they reached the first bodies so that soon there were trolls dotted throughout the field of corpses. Grunts and gurgles of .trollish joy rang out as treasures were found, armour and weapons swapped for their chipped and battered possessions.
It would have been terrible work for a human, stripping the foul bodies of a desired accoutrement or trinket; to the trolls it was all in a day’s work. They laboured on through the heat of midday and it was only in late afternoon that the sounds of new finds ebbed and fell silent. Gozni raised himself from the body of a Goblin officer and leaned upon his new axe. A fine day’s work, he thought.
Old Snotleg was picking his way through the corpses as he approached Gozni. “Time to get movin’?” he called out. Gozni looked around at the few searchers still picking at the last of the fallen. It was then that he noticed a young troll lumbering towards them, clearly excited at some unexpected find.
Gozni waited. He knew this feller, he reckoned, and his name was Rugpin or something of the sort. No recollection of a surname came to mind however.
As the troll approached, he called out to Gozni and Old Snotleg, who had arrived in the meantime. “‘Ere, Capting,” he boomed, “Look what…”
“Lieutenant,” interrupted Gozni.
Rugpin stared at him without understanding. At last a great grin began to spread across his face. “You promotin’ me?” he asked.
“No, you idiot. I is a Lieutenant, not a Captain.” Gozni’s eyes searched the heavens.
Rugpin’s face fell, and he spread his dirty hands in apology. “Sorry, Capting.” There was a pause and then he added, “Lootenant.”
“Alright, Rugpin,” saif Gozni briskly. “What did you want to tell me?”
“Er, that thing over there…” He pointed back over his shoulder. “That flappy, wavy thing on a stick. Wot is it?”
Gozni looked over the troll’s shoulder and saw the cause of his puzzlement. “That there’s a flag, me lad,” he said. “Leastways, that’s what the Oomans calls it.”
“Wot’s it for?” asked Rugpin.
“Dunno,” replied Gozni as he turned to go.
Rugpin began to flap his arms about. “Can I ‘ave it, Capting, can I ‘ave it?”
“Lieutenant,” sighed Gozni. “Yes, I suppose so. Go get it and we’ll ‘ave a look at it.”
“Them’s bad luck,” interrupted Old Snotleg.
Gozni and Rugpin turned to look at the old Sergeant. “Bad luck”, said Snotleg.
“Go get the thing anyway, Rugpin,” ordered Gozni, without looking at him.
The young troll lumbered off while Gozni and Old Snotleg faced each other without uttering a word. It seemed an age before Rugpin, puffing and blowing from exertion, returned holding the flag. Gozni and Snotleg turned to regard it.
Old Snotleg was clearly horrified when he saw the dark tower on the flag. “That’s an Uruk-hai flag,” he breathed. “I seen them carryin' that before. Them’s really bad luck.”
“I wants it,” said Rugpin.
“Bad luck I tells you," countered Snotleg.
“Bad luck. Really bad luck.”
And so the argument continued as night began to fall. Gozni stood between them, trying to decide. It was important that they left the field soon. But the Lieutenant was torn between the urgent appeals of the young troll and the stern warnings of the old Sergeant.
In the end Gozni made the decision in haste. “Enough.” he said. “Sergeant, get the trolls together and we’ll move out.”
Snotleg reluctantly turned and left the scene and soon his voice was bellowing out orders to the troop. Gozni turned then and spoke to Rugpin. “You can keep it,” he said.
So the band of trolls formed into column and marched away. Old Snotleg still protested against the flag at every opportunity but Gozni had made up his mind. Behind them a starlit night gazed down at the ghastly scene of the battlefield.
Two days after the trolls left, they were spotted by a large force of Uruk-hai. Closing to inspect the unusual sight of trolls so far from their forests, the Uruk-hai saw the flag waving boldly in the midst of the trolls and came to the inevitable conclusion that they were responsible for the massacre of Thun. In the brief battle that followed, the trolls were obliterated, every one of them.
Word Count: 986