It was a dark, gloomy night. The stars glittered lazily in the sky and the fog curled and dragged itself across the ground as slow as a slug. The trees drifted in the night sky lightly, although the leaves seemed to tremble with excitement when the wind riffled through the branches.
A frog nearby turned on its perch obliviously. It’s wide eyes stared into the beyond, clueless to the danger close by. A fox had taken interest in the small amphibian. The fox crouched, its bushy red tail twitching with anticipation as it crept closer to its newfound meal.
A large bone-like sword came swinging into the clearing, embedding itself into a tree nearby with a loud crack. This caused the two animals to scramble away in fear. The frog hopping into the safety of the water while the fox turned tail and sprinted into the forest, far away from the commotion. A large, dark hulking figure came running from the trees, lunging for its weapon as a spiky blue troll followed close behind, snarling at the trolls heels.
“Bular!” The blue troll roared, leaping out of the way when Bular swung the retrieved sword in his direction. “You will pay for what you’ve done!” Bular grinned cruelly in response, growling loudly as he charged.
He swung sharply to the right, angling his elbow to use the momentum to his advantage. The sword sliced across the troll's chest, causing the blue troll to stumble back with a roar of pain. The amulet remained solemn in the injured trolls grip, and he felt his fist clutch around it possessively. Come on! Why wouldn’t the blasted thing work?
“Draal,” Bular laughed. “Came to avenge your Father? Don’t worry,” Bular stood taller, lifting his sword and tilting it with an admiring glance. “You’ll join him, soon enough.”
Draal rolled out of the way just in time for the sword to pierce the ground where he once stood. Bular growled in annoyance, swinging around to swipe at him again. Draal stumbled back, sneering as he clutched his wounded chest.
He knew that this was a battle he couldn’t win. As much as he wanted to avenge his father’s death, Bular was going to soon enough overpower and ultimately kill him. With the amulet refusing his call, He had to improvise.
Draal watched Bular with a narrowed, uneasy gaze. Bular bristled, lowering his head and baring his teeth as he adjusted his grip on his sword. Draal shifted his eyes and focused his attention behind the growling troll.
The tree behind Bular leaned awkwardly forward and it was obvious that the tree was ready to give out at any given notice. Draal quickly developed a plan, and with a pained breath, lowered his head in a challenging manner. Bular smirked, and lowered himself onto all fours before roaring and hurdling himself toward Draal. Draal, despite the pain, rushed forward and thrust his head forward.
The two trolls collided with the force of a battering ram and wrestled. Bular swiped at his eyes with his hooked claw-like hands and Draal winced at the new burning cut underneath his left eye.
Draal drew back, before using his own body weight to fling Bular back. Bular, not expecting to the sudden exchange of weight, tumbled back and crashed against the tree. Before Bular could haul himself back to his feet, Draal rushed forward and rammed his horns into Bulars chest. Bular roared in pain and anger as Draal scampered back, panting aggressively.
“You really think that's going to work? you fool!” Bular stood up with a snarl.
He then stiffened at the sickening crackling sound of wood and quickly found himself pinned underneath the heavy trunk. Bular clawed at the ground, snarling as he found himself immobilized. Draal snickered, although he knew the tree wouldn’t hold the Gumm-Gumm long, so, with an exhausted smirk, he turned and fled.
“Coward!” He heard Bular roar in the distance.
Draal sped along the forest floor, ignoring the furious shouts behind him. Underneath the night's shadow, he managed to come across a small gorge. Draal grimaced but froze as he heard Bular’s cursing grow closer. Thinking quickly, Draal lodged himself underneath the waves, holding his breath.
The water's current was cold and bitter against his stone flesh, but he paid it no mind as his attention was now directed to the Gumm-Gumm who hovered dangerously on the shore. Bular stalked into the shallows in a fashion similar to a lumbering bear and sniffed deeply. Draal waited a little longer, ignoring the burning of his chest.
If he survived this, vendal was going to rip him a new one for sure. Maybe being ripped apart by Bular was a better fate, after all? No. He refuses to die to Bulars hands like his father!
Bular stilled, tensing angrily before roaring and slamming his fist onto a boulder. The rock trembled for a second at the impact before splitting in two and rolling lazily into the flowing current.
“When I find you, I’ll kill you!” Bular barked, turning and hauling himself up from the gorge.
Bular looked over his shoulder with an aggravated huff and stormed away, disappearing back into the forest. Draal hesitated a few more seconds before thrusting himself from the water and inhaling a few greedy gulps of air.
He staggered forward, crawling towards the shore bank and hauling himself up the gorge with tremendous effort. Draal allowed his body to collapse onto the damp grass while clutching his wounded chest. He shut his eyes as he felt himself become drenched in shame. He knew that once he returned, Vendel would scold him and call him a fool for trying to go and avenge his father. Venel had said not to go pursuing vengeance, for it would get him killed. As much as it pained him to admit it- the troll was right.
The surface was crawling with Gumm-Gumms, Changelings, and Goblins alike ever since his father was defeated. Bular had taken the amulet and with the help of the changelings, Arcadia fell to Gunmar and the Gumm-Gumms. The amulet was never seen again since, and humans were devoured by the evil trolls. Although, some lucky humans managed to flee Arcadia and hide away. Draal himself hasn't seen a human since the fall of the surface, although other trolls have claimed to have seen a few flesh-bags scavenging above. Yet, they always resorted to running away in terror at the sight of them.
Draal tilted his head towards the sky and his heart froze in panic. The sky was starting to turn purple and yellow in the horizon, indicating that morning was vastly approaching. If he didn’t get up soon the sun would turn him to stone.
With wounded pride and aching wounds, Draal pulled himself to his feet and threaded into the forest, heading back to Trollmarket.
Down the river, bobbed a familiar round trinket, humming with a faint blue glow before falling silent as it was snatched and carried by the rushing water.
A flashback of our young hero at the start of the apocalypse
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Jim staggered awake at the sound of car tires grinding against the concrete outside. He heard the door swing open and the pounding of footsteps sprinting up the staircase. He heard his mother cry his name, footsteps growing closer to his room.
Jim felt his heart leap into his throat and he stumbled out of bed, throwing the covers onto the ground. Barbara threw open his door, her scared and upset expression causing goosebumps to prick on his skin.
“Mom?” He gasped, stumbling forward and reaching out to cup her cheek. She had a nasty cut on her cheek, and he brushed a thumb over the small trickle of blood. His throat felt dry as she pushed him back gently, rushing over towards his closet and grabbing his backpack. He watched numbly as she opened it and dumped his books and papers onto the floor.
“Mom?” He whimpered, tensing his shoulders as he watched his mother open his closet and start shoving clothes into his bag.
Barbara turned on her heels, shoving the bag into his arms.
“Pack! Pack quickly, Jim!” She cried. “We need to run! Monsters are coming!”
He gaped at her as she raced out of his room. In his fit of panic and fear, Jim quickly shoved some socks and other bare necessities into his bag. He shoved on some jeans and his typical blue hoodie.
What else did he need? On his nightstand glistened a walkie-talkie and he quickly stuffed it in his bag, making a quick mental note to contact toby as soon as possible. Jim then stumbled out of his room, stumbling to put on his shoes and racing down the stairs.
His mother came racing after him, and she quickly gestured him out the door. Jim hurried outside, gaping at the car that was halfway into the lawn. Jim was pushed into the car, and as fast as she could manage, shot out of the driveway. Grass kicked up into the air, scattering dirt all over the clean concrete.
Jim turned his head and gasped, seeing Toby leading Nana outside their house. Toby opened the back door, helping his Nana in and putting a few bags inside that seemed to be full of clothes and food. Toby quickly pulled himself into the car, fastening his seatbelt with a shaky sigh.
“Let’s get out of here!” Toby yelped, eyes wide in fear. Jim lurched back in his seat as Barbara gassed it, the car shooting down the road.
Jim turned to his mom, hand clutching his ruffled hoodie in panic. “What’s going on?” He whimpered. Barbara’s eyes were fixed on the road, but her hands trembled with unease.
“There are monsters, Jim,” Her lip trembled and tears started dripping down her face. “They are eating people.”
Jim felt his stomach twist and he leaned back in his seat, his fingers digging into his hoodies fabric at the cold realization. He could hear the panicked muttering of his best friend, the humming of Nana and his mother’s sniffling and panicked breathing beside him.
“Look out!” Barbara screeched, slamming on the breaks. Jim felt himself lurch forward, although the seatbelt pinned him in place. Jim yelled in fright when the car slammed into what felt like a brick wall.
Jim’s mind felt fuzzy. His head stung and he lifted a trembling hand to his forehead. He could feel warm blood drip down his hand and he cringed.
“Mom? Toby?” He called weakly, turning in his seat. His mother was frantically trying to unbuckle her seatbelt, cursing when her trembling fingers kept slipping. Toby was trying to reassure Nana, but he could tell Toby was in near hysterics.
A sudden, brutal blood-chilling growl rumbled behind him. He felt his shoulders tense, eyes widening. His mother looked past him with a pitiful, horrified scream. A large stone hand came smashing through the passenger side window, spraying glass into Jim's hair and clothes. Jim could hear the car erupted in chaos, crying and screaming in fear at the monster.
The hand clutched the door and effortlessly ripped it off from its hinges. Jim felt his arms move on instinct, his seatbelt whipping off. The monster as now proceeding to reach inside, grinning wide as if enjoying a canned good. Jim, acting quickly, grabbed a shard of glass that had broken off from the windshield. He jabbed it towards the monster, only effectively grazing the top of the beasts stone skin.
“Run!” He yelled.
Toby, Nana, and his mother by now had successfully snuck out the other side of the car at the distraction. The beast jerked his hand back at the sudden sting, and Jim thrust himself back, rolling over the driver's seat and onto the asphalt where his mother scooped him up and nudged him forward.
“We got to go!” She exclaimed.
Jim and his mother started to give chase after Toby and Nana. The beast snarled, starting to give chase before being called back. “Bular, my dark prince, your father commands your presence!”
Bular sneered in the direction of the fleeing humans before turning and bounding the opposite direction. Jim would have practically fainted with relief if it wasn’t for the fact that there were more monsters in the area. They rushed inside one of the many abandoned buildings and Jim helped his mother shove furniture and shelves in front of the doorway. Toby clutched his arm tightly, and Jim could practically feel the fear and regret coming from his friend in waves.
“What now?” Toby sniffed, looking around them as if expecting one of those monsters to lunge at any second.
“We need to get to higher ground,” Jim trembled, clamping a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder. “Somewhere far, far away from here.”
Jim was suddenly interrupted by the scream of a man, who fell silent at the sound of roaring.
Oh god. Everyone was dying. Jim sat down, leaning against a wooden box and clutching his head with his hands. He winced in pain, drawing his hand out of his hair and seeing a speck of glass had cut his palm. Right, the glass in his hair. He brushed his hand on his clothes, smearing the blood into the cloth with an uneasy and shaky sigh.
Tears pricked his eyes, but he sighed thankfully when Toby sat next to him, offering comfort to his distressed friend. He heard his mother shuffle from her position near a small window, and she turned to approach the two teenagers.
“Ok,” She breathed, sitting down on Jim’s other side. “The monsters have marched off, were safe for now.”
“Are we really safe, though?” Jim spoke weakly, tilting his head to avoid his mother worried gaze.
She didn’t respond. Instead, she reached over to caress Jim's wounded hands. She lifted them up and grimaced. “Here,” She got up and lead Jim over toward the kitchen. Toby decided to go check on his Nana, who was currently seated in a small rocking chair and humming like nothing was wrong.
Jim's mother leaned over, turning on the water and stuck his hands underneath. Jim winced, but let his mother clean his wound. She gingerly held his hand, before wrapping a sheet of cloth around both of his hands.
“Things are going to be different now Jim,” She whispered. “But, just know we just have to take care of each other, okay?”
Jim forced himself to smile, placing a wrapped palm on top of her hand.
Sorry for all the Angst, haha.
The next chapter will actually kick start the story officially, but I hope you all enjoy this chapter :)