This is the fifth installment of the Troll Serial. To read from the beginning, or to find past and future installments, click here.
Aimee dreamed. She was hungry; however, instead of cold and dirty she felt warm and cozy. Her mother's working hands handed her a big slice of her famous meat pie; Aimee cut a large piece, directed it to her watering mouth, and was awakened by the cry of a terrified animal.
The girl sat up at once, wide eyed. She looked around to find the fire lit and a bundle beside her. Confused by the ever present scent of food, she decided to check out what was in there. She gaped when seeing the actual pie, berries, and the slipper her mother made her wear at home so she'd be used to behave and dress as a noble woman when the right fine man was finally accepted.
She didn't think about the absence of cutlery when taking a large chunk of it, but as it touched her tongue she held herself in check. It took a lot of willpower to put the food down but she managed in time to make a quick prayer to Holy Mary. Aimee ate avidly and fast until one fourth of the pie was consumed. She had never had more than a slice before but she kept eating, slower, until she reached one third of it.
Kratan and Kutril had screamed along with the small goat when it flew off Kratan's hand. They gridded their teeth and held their breaths while watching Aimee's cloudy eyes survey the area and fix on the pie. They blew the air out quietly and munched on their food very slowly, keeping their eyes on her at all times and envying Aimee's liberty to eat as she pleased.
They were licking their fingers and lamenting the missing dessert when Aimee put the pie aside. Cross legged, she rested her elbow on her knee, wondering who had lit the fire and brought her food. It seemed there was no one else there; or had her father found her?
"Papa?" she said standing up. "Is it you?"
She called out a few more times then realization hit her.
"Holy Mother of God! Where are the trolls?"
Kratan and Kutril crouched low behind the stones, not daring to look.
Aimee froze in place. She should be rejoicing for her success, she thought. Her prayers lifted the trolls to heaven along with their bodies.
That's impossible, these creatures are evil. Nothing that ugly could be worthy of going to heaven.
Shaking her head, she went to the river to wash the grease off her hands and face. With keen eyes for movement, she tied her hair back. She was smoothing her dress when she spotted something floating beside the nearest rock. Circling the margin she rescued one of the head garlands.
How did this end up here?
Clutching it to her chest she went back to the fire, hoping that her benefactor would come back before the evil beasts did.
Kratan and Kutril watched with pained eyes her muffled sobbing. After conferencing on how to approach her, they reached an agreement, spit in their hands, licked their palms, hit their own foreheads and then the other's, all this very quietly.
Kratan nodded at Kutril's gentleness.
"Wait," said Kratan with the lowest voice, "we haven't decided who's talking to her."
"You of course. Aren't you the human lover?"
Kratan's jaw dropped.
"So?" said Kutril, grinning and waving in the rock's direction.
Kratan harrumphed and watched Aimee survey the area again. This time she was fully awake, and scared.
He cleared his throat loudly and said, "Mademoiselle?"
She tensed up. "Who's there?"
"Err, we-I just wanted to know if the food was good."
"Yes, thank you my Lords." She stood up and curtsied. "Thank you so for your kindness, you saved my life."
"My Lords?" whispered a horrified Kratan. "How does she know we're in more than one?"
Kutril shrugged. "Maybe it's the men who aren't very smart."
Aimee started circling the fire towards the small hill that lead to the troll's hiding place.
"Y-yes?" replied Kratan.
Kutril jumped to his feet and froze mid way in a rather uncomfortable semi-crouched position.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
She paused, surprised by his exasperated tone.
"I was going to you my Lords, is there a problem?"
"Yes!" shouted Kratan and Kutril one after the other.
She took a step back, eyebrows joining together.
"Might I at least know the name of my saviors?"
The trolls left out a relieved breath.
"Of course 'demoiselle, I'm Kutril, and my friend here is Kratan," he said smiling, pointing to Kratan.
She cocked her head to the side.
"If you allow me saying my Lords, you have quite unusual names."
"No, no," said Kratan, "these are very common name amongst--" Kutril punched him in the ribs exaggerating in the strength and making Kratan groan.
"Are you all right my Lord?" She moved forward decisively.
"I'm ok, I'm ok!"
She paused once again, half way to where they were.
"Please stay where you are."
"Why does she keep calling us my Lord?" Kratan whispered to Kutril. "We're no lords."
Kutril's shoulders shot up again as response.
"I just want to help my Lord. You sounded as if you were in pain." She slid one foot forward. "You saved me and I'd like to help you in return." One more step. "I'm good with bandages, I'm the one who takes care of my father when he comes back from hunting."
Kratan and Kutril flinched and looked at each other.
Another step. "I have very gentle hands."
Kratan grabbed his ears, pulling them down, "Do something, she can't see us!"
Aimee was close enough to hear them talking, although she couldn't make out the words.
"I don't know what to do! We can't leave her alone and we can't let her find out!"
She took advantage of their distraction and climbed the rest of the way up to look right into Kutril's stunned eyes.
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