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Shoals and Shells.
Nomaru was small for his age, he was dwarfed by the other children, at five summers he was barely tall enough for the net and spear he used to catch the king lobsters ran along the beach. He stood on the shoals edge for hours, his feet slipping occasionally as the seaspray splashed against his tiny chest. He'd had accidentally cut his finger and idly marked the time by how it healed, a little blue slash was all that was left – it had bled fiercely that morning, soon it would be gone. In all his life he'd only had one scar on him, and that was from fire, he'd slipped and fell foot first into hot coals and burned himself badly. In the days that followed it had itched and ached as his mother poured saltwater over it to help it heal and lectured him about watching the ground as he grew older.
He looked at the little spot on his foot where the soft layer of fuzz broke into purplish skin and wondered how Scarback had gotten the way he was. He rarely saw any of the elders with scars, except the ones that traveled a lot, but Scarback was always here on the island, and had always been there as far as Nomaru knew. Some of the grown ups that came to Home had traveled far, and many of them had been fighters across the sea. Nomaru had seen the look of sadness and fear when they saw Scarback wandering the edge of the jungle where it met the beach. But Scarback didn't like the beach much, he ranged in the jungle and lived in the little caves above Home. Asuko and Tsalig said that Scarback never stood in the open sun too long if he could help it, maybe it made his scars itch?
Nomaru unfocused his eyes, the way his uncles had taught him. “Watch, don't look. All you get from looking is missing everything else. Watch the sea, don't look for fish!” He looked down at the space between the rocks and breathed in the light sea air. There, just at the edge of the lapping water there was a silvery little shimmer - with a quick flick of his wrist he struck with his spear.
“Got him!” he squealed as the eel squirmed and fought against his fishing spear, he brought his net down fast and in one motion threw the wiggling beast onto the rocks. He dropped to one knee and chopped off its head, the eel's mouth twitched, realized it no longer had a body - and finally lay still. Nomaru said a prayer to Yrzulie and to the sea and thanked them for being born a troll and for the world they had given him, and set about cleaning his prize.
When he returned to the village the other children rushed up to him, pushing around him and cheering.
“Sheesh that's as tall as you are Nomaru!” Joreh said, holding her hands up to his topknot for effect.
“You didn't kill that thing by yourself.” Tsalig taunted him with a smile.
“I lovesh shEel!” Asuko cried out. She was a few years older than him and had gotten her adult foretusks a little early, the rest of her hadn't quite caught up to them.
Nomaru took the cleaned eel and laid it down by the fire to be cooked and shared for the mid morning meal. One of the younger maiden girls, Djalla saw the commotion and came to the fire, “I'd be honored to cook for you, Nomaru” she said. She was a red-haired girl with big ears and a raspy voice. Nomaru stood proudly - he felt like he'd grown as big as “Imby the cow” and almost as tough.
“Obeah Chakari” Nomaru said, proudly tapping his fishing spear.
“Obeah Chakari” they all said.
The Blind Profit - Part 1
Dawn appeared - a faint shining line of red in the far endless black as the sea slipped cleanly against the prow of the Blind Profit. Captain Gyzgix paced the quarterdeck, his early morning presence clearly making his crew uneasy.
Squidbelly and Hzank eyed up nervously as they washed the deck amidship. Hzank was doing his normal terrible job, he'd been only recently press-ganged from a bar in Booty Bay and hadn't quite caught on life aboard a proper goblin cutter yet. Hzank, despite being bad at his job was also ogre-stupid and loud.
“Hey Squid!, Squid!” he practically yelled across the vast distance of ten paces.
Squidbelly shuddered, and eyed the Captain and helmsman warily, but they both seemed deeply lost in concentration, and that meant either money or trouble. Squidbelly hoped for trouble, and unconsciously adjusted the crescent moon shaped knife at his belt.
“Hey Squid! Squid!” Hzank repeated again, clearly sure that he hadn't been heard.
“Keep it down, it's too early for yelling. What do you want?”
Hzank shuffled his mop and bucket a bit closer and leaned closer to Squid. “Where we going, Squid, I ain't seen land for days, and I never seen the stars this far south...”
“Not that you deserve to know, but we're probably going to a drop, sometimes we stop down this way only in the fall or spring, Cap'tn's gotta thing going on here.”
“But we don't have any cargo left, Squid.” Hzank said, dully determined to keep talking.
Squidbelly rested the mop against his shoulder and made a pinching motion upwards from his lips, then turning his hands to point down towards belowdeck with his oily green thumbs.
Hzank looked supremely confused for a few moments, starring dully with his mouth open, mercifully a tiny light glimmered in his eyes.
“Oh. The Trolls!” Hzank said, a broad smile developing across his pie shaped head.
The Blind Profit- Part 2
Squidbelly motioned him with one hand, “Shh you idiot. Those trolls paid good money to not be bothered nor seen, and they're all armed to the teeth and mean as ten jungle tigers to boot. If we're this far south we're probably here for them.”
Squidbelly went back to sloshing the mop around amidship, wondering if he had enough extra coin or rum to bribe his way out of sharing any more duties with Hzank.
“Hey Squid! Squid!” Hzank seemed to think of something, and when he thought of something, he spoke.
“What!” Squidbelly said.
“But there ain't no troll islands this far south, is there?”
“Shh, stupid. There's trolls everydamn where in this world, don't you know that yet? They got jungle trolls and snow trolls and desert trolls and crazy !@# mountain trolls as far as I know and all of 'em are mean to the core, eat out your liver and dance with your entrails, even the women. Especially the women! So you let them trolls in the hold keep to themselves and if they wanna come out to some island in the middle of nowhere, you keep it to yourself and keep your coin and maybe you won't get thrown overboard.”
Hzank's face looked childlishly sad at being chastised...
Squidbelly sighed and moved his bucket back to the other side of the deck. The sun was coming up now and it'd be easier to see from the quarterdeck how fast or slow he was doing his job, and he couldn't afford to be docked anymore for being slow by the paymaster.
“Hey Squid! Squid!” Hank said, excitedly.
Angrily Squidbelly scrunched up his green face so hard his nose practically touched his chin “What now!”
“We get paid for this?”
They'd been traveling light, the open canopied jungle was home and hearth to them, and after all the time in the cold damp of the north the warm sun and thick air of the deep south was welcome balm for their tired bones.
They'd traveled for nearly three days through dense jungle, it was thicker than the Stranglethorn but somehow its sounds and smells reminded them of home. They'd made sure to approach from the northside as they'd been told. They'd been on a steady rise since the middle of the second day, and could tell that although it had been modest they had ascended a great deal, this island was old deep earth, it's soil black and it's stones obsidian with age. It came upon them quickly, a sudden shift in the wind and there they where on the edge of a cliff so tall that the clouds themselves nestled on the ground below with tree tops barely cutting through the dense mist.
“Obeah Chakari.” their leader said to himself, quietly.
“Obeah Chakari” said the others in response.
They found a way down the cliff face, and in spaces they had to drop so hard that they heard and felt the crack in their bones and had to eat and rest while their bodies mended themselves. Eventually they could see more than the tops of trees and make out a beautiful crescent shaped bay in the distance, with rocky tips jutting out to an opening so narrow that ten trolls arm in arm could've spanned it's distance.
And hidden in the shroud of warm clouds and mist where smokefires.
It took them half a day to reach the outer edge, and although it seemed there where raptors and tigers at every turn, the creatures barely noticed them. Only one old white raptor, it's body flecked with scars and with livid pink eyes starred at them coldly for a time, the old shaman among them cut his forearms and raised them in prayer - a word in the ancient Zandalari tongue and the beast circled them once and left. The Shaman said it was a good omen. It had smelled their blood and decided they where not to be eaten. Many could not shake the feeling that they where being watched from the cliffs to the jungle for a time, but at first sight of the village any trepidation had melted away.
It was a ramshackle place, but the smell of cooking food filled the air, and the sounds of waves and laughter. It soon became apparent that this was a place filled with children, perhaps three of them for every adult among them.
They sat at the edge of the settlement for a time, and shown their weapons, finally their leader opened a hide bag and pulled forth a long string of shrunken skulls, some with flesh still dangling on them.
He laid the string down on the sand in front of him and propped their heads facing up towards the sky, with open mouths. In each mouth he placed a large blue iridescent pearl.
“OBEAH CHAKARI” he said, loudly enough to hope to be heard.
The villagers took no notice of them, even only a few hundred meters away.
“Are they hexed or just dumb?” one of the younger ones said.
His companions nodded and mumbled amongst themselves as weeks of weariness settled into them, before the seas, the desert and the jungle, to find a refuge, a home - Only to be ignored; it would have been better to have died trying to get here, an unfinished hope.
It was then that they realized they where surrounded.
The Dragon's Earth
The one eyed troll with livid scars across his back and belly poked at the shrunken heads with a stick.
“You can kill elves.” he said flatly.
A younger warrior from the band stepped forward,
“I've killed a hundred of those pinkskins and tallears.” he said proudly through glaring eyes.
Scarback chuckled a rasping laugh.
“Have you now? You must be fearsome, a great warrior.” he shook his head and smiled,
“You misunderstand me, brother. So I'll say it plain. You are welcome here, you and your band, we are all one tribe in Zul'Obeah. But you've come bearing the heads of an enemy a thousand leagues away. You might be the greatest warrior in ten generations, but I've got no use for warriors. Look around you? We need farmers, and anglers, carpenters, potters and tailors. “
The scarbacked troll tapped the dagger looped loosely thru his belt, “This blade come off the claw of a molten demon from the planes of fire themselves.” He tapped the serving tray on the ground, “that shield is the tenfold scales of a black dragon.” “Heroes, we have a plenty, great men and women from ten settlements and three tribes. What we need are...just trolls, villagers...families.”
The one eye relaxed and a calm look entered his face, “It's a hard adjustment to make. It takes time, but you are home now. The war is over.” The scarback put his hands on their shoulders and sighed long and slowly, pursing his lips thru the exhalation.
“Zul'Obeah” he said to them, calmly.
Then “Obeah Chakari.”
“Obeah Chakari”, they replied.
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