Tig trigged the shortened M16 machine gun; each pull of the trigger sent a bullet across the 40 yards of open space between the defense bulwarks and where the enemy had bashed down a pair of automobiles placed as makeshift gates. Bullets tore through the tough barky hides of the trolls, broke bone, tore through sinew, and sent streams of blood like tracers out of each ejection site. Each shot ripped a yell out of a dying creature that was shot, and every death removed another attacker and thinned the force. The slide on Tig’s gun locked open, he smoothly ejected the magazine and let it fall to the dirt, slid a new magazine into the rifle without ducking behind cover and racked the slide. He sent a second withering shower of shots into the front phalanx ranks of the trolls. Each shot sent a sliver of recoil into his shoulder that he was accustomed to and accounted for automatically with quick smooth downward movements that kept the sights lined up with the enemies.
Without warning the front line of the phalanx suddenly moved as one, sliding their shields from their backs. A heavy hodgepodge mix of old vehicle car doors covered in steel and discarded street signs that were riveted together, the shields had a roughly hewn concrete poured through randomly drilled holes in a pattern created specifically to break up Armitists’ bullets and deflect the impact away from the trolls themselves. Tig fired a couple rounds at the shields and saw the bullets spin off in steaming circlets like smoke from the cherry of a cigarette on a windy day. Though the trolls couldn’t see through their shield wall, as they would not have taken the time to cut slits to see through the shields, they moved unerringly forward. As a race, they had excellent memory and would find no difficulty moving by memory alone. The trait made them excellent front-rank troops, trackers, loresmiths, and tradesmen. They could remember the exact position of forts not visited for decades and could track a trail long lost; they always ended up where they wanted to be no matter how many years had passed. This also made remembering where Tig and Stylix hid an almost sure thing. They also remembered hates, grudges, wrongs and slights against them.
Tig knelt behind the chipped and pitted concrete road barriers that made up the defense bulwark and looked down at his elven companion.
Stylix sat butt down in the dirt, his arms splayed to his side. Tig would have thought him asleep aside from a rolling blue eldritch energy that sparked from finger to finger and slowly gathered into a glowing mass in each upturned palm. His brown clothes, old pants, well-worn boots, and thick shirt were stained an ashy gray from their harrowing ride through the Earth Sun desert. Tig knew without looking down that his thick shirt and pants were equally torn and stained. They were a match made in dirt. Neither had felt running water in weeks. For some reason that made him smile.
“Need some help here!” Tig pointed out alerting the elf
“Moments.” Stylix answered back sagely, his sun-tightened eyelids closed, his face smooth like a marble statue from before the Fall. His blond hair was cut in a short crew cut, trimmed back from the long locks he had when they first met and sat high and away from his closed eyes. Tig’s hair was cut short as well, dirty black and thick enough to look like a bird’s nest every morning he woke up. People said they looked related. As related as a human and an elf could be. He quickly glanced over the concrete barrier smelling the age old dirt along its top. Across the distance, the trolls slowly made their way forward one step every other second. He smiled, count on trolls to take their time!
“Ready.” Stylix said opening his eyes quickly. He pulled his legs underneath him and flicked from his butt to a kneeling position. Tig smiled. He had seen the elf do the same thing countless times and was always amazed at such easy dexterity.
Stylix smoothly stood and turned, leveling his arms towards the slowly encroaching trolls, palms forward.
Suddenly the eldritch energy arched from Stylix’s palms, with a thunderous boom that warbled into a screech. The energy sprayed the front of the phalanx with electrical energy that looked like sparkling blue cobwebs. The bolts jumped from troll to troll leaping like a living thing from shield to shield, arching from the reinforced rivets of shields to smash into the trolls’ faces and set their barky black-brown skin steaming with heat. Eyes jellied, hair singed, skin reddened, browned, then burned and bubbled.
A low growl came from the targeted trolls as many dropped shields and clawed at their skin trying to remove the burning energy as if it was blood flies needing to be swatted. Silvery white teeth snapped in fury as the trolls barked and chuffed in their guttural language. They clawed at their faces and swatted at themselves and one another in terror.
Stylix dropped exhausted, his energy, both magical and natural, dissipated. He barely caught himself before his chin hit the concrete barriers they hid behind. He controlled his fall and slid back down and lay against the concrete.
Tig opened fire at the trolls that had dropped their shields. The gaps in their wall left him an opening and flesh to aim at. The flat-headed shells that he had pressed himself, slammed with full force into the troll lines, breaking skulls open, shattering legs and arms alike as every shot took some kind of toll from the attackers. The trolls howled in anger and any remaining calm began to disintegrate under the withering fire and evaporated like a wave.
As Tig fired, a drizzly rain began to fall, the usual side effect of the elf’s magic. The rain was cool but as a magical side effect it had no real effect abd much of it evaporated or disappeared before it hit the ground. What little of the rain did hit the ground created a wet stink of blood, meat, and gunpowder that filled the air as Tig’s shots cracked sharply. Steam came off the M16 barrel as the heat from each shell built up, turning the tip a dark red, and spitting bits of superheated water with each raindrop. Tig replaced another magazine mechanically and took aim at a troll wearing a leather strap and silver ring around its neck that some-kind of animal leadership. Tig fired, and with satisfaction, watched as the bullet tore the throat of the creature, flashed a mess of meat and fat out the back of its neck, and sent the massive blackened body spinning to the ground.
Like a whip snapping back to strike, the attack broke. The leader’s death sent their remaining scurrying and they turned to follow. From somewhere outside the confines of the gate a horn sounded twice and the trolls made a hasty retreat, following the side like a siren’s call. As they ran the elf’s magic dissipated into no more than static while Tig fired at their backs showing no mercy bringing two more down, breaking their spines with well-placed shots.
Seconds later, the entry to the old vehicle scrapyard was empty.
“Lucky that we found this place.” Tig quickly looked around and collected his empty magazines, he tapped the dirt and grit from their mechanisms and placed them into his jacket pockets. Stylix could only nod from where he had collapsed, too tired to talk.
Then a second horn blew. Mournful and low, it echoed across the desert and crept into the scrapyard like a banshee.
“Revenger.” Stylix said flatly.
Tig nodded, checking his belt and making sure the 2 glass grenades still hung there. “You know what Stylix…I am almost sorry we stole from them.”
The elf laughed. An infectious simple laugh that soon found himself adding to. “Do you think they would go away if we gave them back the horses?” Tig joked.
Stylix laughed harder and pulled himself up. “Lets ask him.” He pointed.
The Revenger was massive. 18 feet of mutated, angrier than normal, troll, blotted red and black with seeping boils along its neck and chest from exposure to the baking sun without protection. Its eyes covered by thick folds of hide, tied around its jutting forehead to keep it from raging before it was amongst enemies. Thick hair, like old coiled rope swung as it ponderously followed the lead of 2 troll handlers that led it by massive chains connecting one massive arm to each of them. They pulled it along and aside from a roar as it ducked under the debris of the old junkyards gate, made no other vocalizations.
Tig smiled as if seeing something he expected. “You go tell them we will give them back their stuff. I will stay here.”
Stylix patted him on the shoulder, all the while slowly concentrating to build up the energy of his magic within him. Holding his breath in timed intervals, concentrating on the feel of it just beneath the skin of his chest. Even so soon after unleashing the lighting, he was feeling the magic raging inside him, boiling up like a wave.
Suddenly the Revenger’s handlers let go of the chains that held its arms. The Revenger lifted its massive truck thick fingers to its eyes and pulled the hide blindfold off.
Its roar of hatred shook Tig and Stylix’s teeth.
“Forget it.” Tig said quickly. “This guy would just eat it anyway.”
They moved as one leaping over the concrete battlements and into legend.