This is the 15th installment of the Troll Serial. To read from the beginning, or to find past and future installments, click here.
The Millet family was in tears, several villagers looked shocked or worked up, fists shaking above their heads. The Mayor looked about himself, trying to locate his wife. He realized she wasn’t around and sighed; he was on his own then. He was trying to calm down the surging mob when De Faumont arrived. Everyone silenced and bowed, and Aimee slipped through the crowd unnoticed.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Madam,” he said to Petit Maurice’s mother. “I was certain that the trolls were not a menace anymore, but it seems that I underestimated their wits and wickedness. I am at fault with you and your village but I promise to track them down and kill them. This time, I will not stop until I do so.”
“What? You mean that there’s more than one?” shrieked a man in the crowd.
“I can only assume that. We were chasing two trolls the other day, weren’t we?”
The crow came back and landed on De Faumont extended arm, reporting its findings even before settling itself down. De Faumont focused his attention entirely on the bird, failing to notice the several degrees of uneasiness their communication caused on the villagers. Aimee observed both their communication and people’s reactions.
“What is it?” asked the Mayor, losing his patience and his manners with it.
“Unfortunately I was right, “ said De Faumont, ignoring the Mayor’s slip. Before explaining further, he crowed back to the bird with urgency and sent it away. “The trolls we had scared away are back.” He profited from the crowd’s reaction to search for Aimee, meeting her confused frown with the slightest of nods, which meaning he hoped she would understand.
Spreading his ears wide like his uncle had taught Kutril, Kratan heard their whole conversation. As the women and children scurried to their houses for safety and the men gathered their weapons, Kratan grinned ear to ear. He too had a plan.
While the villagers made their preparations, Kratan put his plan into action. The men were still forming teams of two or three when Kratan slipped into the Mayor’s house by the back door. He tiptoed through the kitchen, gawking at the smell of the fresh pie, and opened his ears flat to learn the house’s occupants’ movements. The hurried sound of slippers denounced the women’s position. He squeezed himself out the door and upstairs, straining the wooden steps with his weight. He paused, making another cracking sound in the process. This time, not even his privileged hearing could detect movement.
He gave up stealth and moved as quickly as his hunched position would allow, opening the room in the far end of the corridor with a punch. He grinned, knowing that the darkness wouldn’t prevent him to achieve the desired effect. He instantly heard a whimper and nodded to himself internally. “Kitty, kitty, kitty,” he said through his long teeth.
He heard movement from the opposite side of the whimper, and turned to it. “C’mon, little dame, you don’t sound like you’re in distress.” He showed his teeth and scratched his cheek gingerly, having learned to use his enhanced nails.
A different whimper, half-muffled by a hurried hand came from his left. Kratan chuckled.
“Oh, this is so fun,” he said in a conversational tone, “to know that these fool humans will be losing yet another night of sleep tomorrow; their little hearts heavy and bitter with grief for your loss.”
Since he hadn’t drawn out any reaction this time, he continued, “Aimee, isn’t it? I would very much like to see your pretty face again. It’s so dark here that I can only smell your delicate scent.” He smacked his lips. “This is so unsatisfying.”
From his right, he heard the sound of trembling limbs; from his left, movement and a lamp being picked up and lit.
Having only a bed as obstacle between them and Kratan, Aimee stood erect beside Madam Daussy, who held the lamp up. With the corner of his eyes, Kratan saw Aimee’s grandfather cornered at his arms’ reach. He snorted to the stricken-pale old man and turned to the women, but before he could take action Madam Daussy barked, “You wanted light? There you go!” and threw the lamp on the mattress with enough strength to brake the glass.
At Kratan’s surprised face the women thought they had succeeded in scaring the troll away, but alas, Kratan caught himself quickly enough and barred the door with his large body, cornering the women in their own trap. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the flaming bed to the side, almost catching the now unconscious man on the way. With one large step his lips, still bloody from Petit Maurice’s flesh, were an inch from Aimee’s head. She blinked at the nauseous smell. He smiled at her reaction and snatched her by the waist with his right hand, knocking the breath off her lungs. With the back of is left hand, he hit Madam Daussy, who flew to the wall and fell on the ground.
Note: Did you notice I have an ongoing poll on the sidebar? What happens is that I don't know which story to submit to BOFF #2 (uh) and I'd love to know your opinion on that. Pretty please? :) In case your favorite isn't amongst the options, please let share your thoughts on the comments of this post. Thanks!