-Hey! I’ll make you a deal, said Espen from the troll’s hand. Let’s have a singing contest. If you can sing louder and stronger than me, we’ll not only let you eat us, but we’ll even prepare ourselves as the most pleasant meal you’ll ever have. You see, I’m the head chef of the King’s kitchen, and these two are my main assistants.
-What? We’re not – Ouch!
The Ashlad kept talking as his brother Per held his leg. -If you lose, well, you’ll just eat us as you always eat humans.
The troll rubbed his beard for a long while. He tried to figure out why the little creatures would go into such a bet, but soon he forgot all about it. He did want to find out what kind of meal these three cooks could create…
… It had no legs, and the arms seemed to be hidden under its cloth. Its face was old, diffuse, like it wasn’t really there. Mock was wondering if it could be eaten, but had a feeling it couldn’t even be killed. Not with his spear, at least.
-Do you know the way out?
The figure seemed to be looking straight through him, like if he wasn’t there.
“The tunnels are all like tar and resin,
Like sailors’ knots and the spider’s spin
The exit is found at the stop of the top
A stone is tossed when gravity’s lost”
It disappeared in thin air, just as it had arrived…
He was waiting for his father. His Dad. One of the hunters.
The swift machines came gliding through the big opening they called the Gape.
One day he would be a hunter himself, he thought. One day, when he was proven worthy.
Another machine came by, yet another could be seen in the sky.
The little planes came through, in from the world outside, the Vast. One by one they flew by. His father was not among them.
The sun went down…
Tapping his fingers on the table, he looked at the little bottles in front of him. Eeny meeny miny moe… he stopped at the biggest one. He grabbed it, walked over to the window. Watched the blue sky for a moment, took a deep breath of fresh summer air. The little tap was put tight, he had to struggle for a little while to get it off. Dark clouds came flowing out of the bottle, up towards the skies. They grew. The sky darkened…
He took a step down the slippery stairway. The scarce light from the tomb entrance made his trained eyes capable of seeing the steps going down into the darkness. Nothing more. A vast blackness in front was all there was.
Somewhere down there was the tomb of Ack Asamrk, the leader of the once so powerful Ingran Kuthu empire. Where there was power, there was wealth.
At the end of the stairway Gardahr saw the shining wet dirt floor. He took anther step. The floor moved. He pulled his sword. A hiss from behind.
A head came shooting towards him…
He dreamt of long, relaxed nights, of sleeping all day. He dreamt of creating beauty. He dreamt of green forests and waterfalls. He dreamt of being free.
There was nothing but desert. Rocks and sand as long as his eyes could see. Hard work all day. Burning sun. Dry air.
He jumped up on the tank driller once again, drove up the hill… (More)