Author : Drew Dunlap

The sun curls itself over the mountain, sneaking golden fingers gently over the hill and down into the valley to touch my arm. Like a lover waking another, the warm caress encourages me to rise while nudging me into the comfort of consciousness. Oh, the temptress does greet me so aptly. I open my eyes too quickly, only to have them close against the brightness of their own accord. Again I try, more gently, and enter slowly into the virgin day.

Still alone.

Awake now, I bask in the warmth of the sun. It is cleansing time, and I make my way to the lake with my belongings. The trip is short but allows me to breathe in the smells of morning. The fragrant tall grass and wild flowers nourish my soul.

As I sit down at the water’s edge, words and symbols flash through my mind. A deep intake of breath, and I am prepared.

The words of the gods pour from my mouth. Brilliant lights consume me. I feel life-force leave my fingertips as a green vortex forms in front of me. From it steps a humanoid creature of pure bone. I return its permanent smile as it stands slightly askew, awaiting my command. The earthlings call them skeletons. I shall call him Fydow.

“Guard my pack, Fydow.”

My companion steps forward, hunkering slightly over my pack. “Guarding with my life,” replies Fydow, its jaw bouncing like a puppet’s.

I strip at the water’s edge and bathe quickly, then sit for a moment on a warm rock. I love the sun. After many long, blissful moments, I dress.

A fisherwoman eyes me as I return up the path and eyes me suspiciously. When I smile politely, her face turns ashen. She increases her pace.

The sights and sounds of the day distract me and I wander, eventually finding myself in a field, far from my intended destination. “Out of my way, troll!” says a burly earthling farmer.

Troll is an earthling term for a mythical creature that lived under bridges, ate goats, and scared children. I have read many of their books. The insult is not lost on me.

He attempts to push me aside, but fails. His rudeness fills my heart with disappointment. “Me sorry,” I reply in his native tongue. So self-centered are these earthlings. He makes a sound with his throat and continues past me down the path.

I whistle to Fydow, who saunters over to me. His awkward gait reminds me that he is simply an automaton: a creation with no true soul. I know this for a fact, yet I continually repress the thought. We walk for hours.

My life is soft baked bread and frothy ale. It is warm sunrises and the desired touch of love. It is a lasting look into the soul of a lover’s dream. It is the rippling water’s edge, a deep breath, shared happiness, and a warm rock.

But to these earthlings I am merely a troll.

The city is still hours away as the day draws to a close. I drop my pack. The sun slips behind the far hill, a quiet goodbye to lonely me.

“Fydow, how do you feel?”

“I am at full health.”

I unfurl my bedroll.

“But how do you feel?”

“I am at full health.”

Slumping beside my companion, I play with a piece of grass growing through a split in a rock.

“Tell me how you feel.”

“I am at full health.”

I put my head in my large green hands to muffle the sounds of my loneliness.

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