Friday, May 20, 2016

Fiction Friday

Well, I got a single response to last week's piece of unfinished fiction. I decided that was just enough to continue the story.

A few warnings... this isn't a finished story, and I've only got a couple more segments after this one. This has only had one edit; call it a first draft. And if I don't receive any response, here or on Facebook, I won't continue to post these.

Read Part One first.

The days passed quickly because the troll had found a new appreciation for the creatures around him, knowing that some might be like him. He wasn't sure if he would find other magical beings, but he hoped to, and knew that every step might bring him closer to an adventure. He found rivers, and crossed them, sometimes falling in. He climbed hills, and saw beings that might have been made of shadows flee his presence. They did not return when he called, so he shrugged and walked on.

He came to the foothills of the mountains, and decided to climb. And eventually he found himself on a high ridge, with the valley of his home behind him, looking out at another small valley. Beyond that he could see glints of water that stretched seemingly forever.

He started down the mountain, and almost stumbled over a large white furry creature crouched in the snow. It sat up and stared at him, and he at it, and then the creature said, "Watch where you walk!"

The troll felt embarrassed. Truth to be told he had been staring at the valley and the mountains beyond it that now hid the distant water, and so he was certainly guilty of not watching where he went.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to be so clumsy. Have I harmed you?"

The creature now cocked its head to the side and stared at the troll. It replied, "No, but what is such an ugly beast as you doing up here on the crystal plains?"

The troll was surprised by the name, for the mountainside didn't seem to bear any resemblance to a plain to him. Being called ugly was also a bit of a shock, as he'd always been considered a fine specimen of his kind. So he carefully replied, "I am traveling over the mountain, and meant no disrespect."

The beast considered, then reached out a hand in greeting.

"I am a snowbeast," it said, "welcome to the crystal plains. We hunt here, and spend much of our time in the caves below."

The troll tried to tell the snowbeast his own name and the name of his people, but the beast snorted, "You have strange complicated names. I will just call you Ugly of the Uglies."

The troll thought about it, and decided to accept it as he had no intention of staying on the mountain for very long.

The snowbeast looked up at the troll, and said, "Come to visit my home, and see my family."

The troll nodded, not trusting himself to speak again at the moment, and the two started down the mountainside to the cave below.

The snowbeast stopped at times, reaching down to pluck a glowing crystal from the snow. He would show it to the troll in triumph, put it into his pack, and then walk on. For the first time, the troll noted how many crystals were set into the mountainside, and wondered that he hadn't noticed them before. They glowed softly against the snow, lit by some reflected light.

Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer, and he asked the snowbeast, "Why do you pick up the crystals?"

The snowbeast grinned back at him, "They light our homes, you'll see!" and continued merrily down the hill.

As they neared the treeline, the troll noticed the snowbeast checking his way more carefully, and followed him exactly. They entered the trees at a point that was clearly a well-used trail, and the two trod further downward into wonderful deep forest that made the troll feel like he was home. But the snowbeast seemed uneasy and distracted by the surroundings, and he quickened his pace.

Shortly they came to a treeless space filled with boulders, scattered as if flung there. In places the boulders made openings, and some of those openings were big enough for creatures to go into, and so the troll was not at all surprised when they made for a large opening and entered. The cave entrance led immediately downward on a steep incline that the troll nearly tumbled down but for the snowbeast grabbing his arm and supporting him. Once he was used to the incline, the troll had no problem walking down it, but he hadn't been ready for the initial drop. The snowbeast grinned again, his teeth showing bright in the dim light, and led them further down. They emerged into a glowing cave, with a number of snowbeasts running around, working, and coming to greet the pair.

The snowbeast that the troll had been with beamed at his fellows and announced, "Look! I have brought us a stranger to visit! This is Ugly from the land of Uglies!"

There was a sort of uncomfortable silence, broken finally by a feminine voice.

"You named him that because you couldn't pronounce his real name, didn't you?"

The new snowbeast that had spoken turned to the troll, and said, "We welcome you stranger, to our home. I am Quickly-Flowing-Water, and this lout who brought you here is Stumbles-In-The-Woods. We are the beasts of the Snowy mountains, please tell us who you are."

The troll immediately liked Quickly, and he bowed gratefully, then spoke his true name and the name of his people and told them he had crossed the mountain.

Quickly smiled with a grin very much like Stumbles, and said, "Truly, I do not think we can say your name properly. We cannot call you Ugly, as that is an insult only my cousin would deem appropriate. Let us call you Travels-Over-Mountain while you are here."

The troll was pleased by the name, and he nodded and smiled his acceptance. The other snowbeasts seemed to relax at this, and they approached him one at a time, quickly, bowing before him and giving their names, then went back to their tasks. Stumbles grumbled under his breath, then took his crystals over to an older snowbeast who had named herself "Light-Within-The-Mountains", and the troll watched as the crystals were handed over to her. Then the troll was taken to a place where a cheery fire burned, and the people who were around asked him questions about his travels.

He told them about his home, then about the lake with the serpent. He admitted he hadn't come far yet, and he thought there was much more to see. They listened to him fascinated, and told him of their own people and their little world. They had no travelers among them, but they were delighted that he had visited. They offered him a place for the night, and as he had been sleeping out in the cold the last week, he agreed happily.