22. Old Menaces (Elladan, Elrohir, Celeborn, trolls)
prompt for December 22 - 3 tipsy trolls
One hundred and fifty years after Elessar's passing, trolls came out of the barrens again. First it was a sheep killed, then a cow. The attacks left the farmers fearful and the authorities grim. When a caravan was attacked, messengers were sent off in haste to Rivendell. No one living had ever faced such a menace from the black past. Would they, could they help?
Elladan exchanged a wolfish grin with his brother. It had been far too long since they had hunted anything but meat for the table.
The next morning, the twins came out armoured and girt with newly sharpened swords. Celeborn joined them, saying, "I, too, will hunt with my grandsons." He added for the twin's ears alone, "You two need not hog all the fun. The world is far too tame these days."
The overjoyed messengers led the three elf lords to the edge of the thickly settled lands near the Trollshaws. The signs of carnage were all too obvious; the half-eaten horse carcasses from the merchant caravan still gave nauseating witness to the latest attack, though the trolls had dragged the wagon off into the hills. Even though it was approaching sunset, the two days old trail was clear to follow, and the three elves set off after the trolls, hoping to find them awake and in a fighting mood.
They found the empty wagon near midnight, abandoned at the foot of an escarpment with a slope too steep to drag up the heavy vehicle. The trolls had apparently shouldered the cargo and continued into the barrens. After another hour of tracking, they came across an empty barrel, lying broken at the side of the road. Elrohir sniffed appreciatively at the staves, before they continued deeper into the wilds.
The trolls had stopped not much further on. Examining the ground in the light of the gibbous moon revealed marks of three trolls, five barrels and a scuffle. Two of the casks lay broken and empty. The trolls had each shouldered another cask and proceeded back to their lair.
More cautiously now, the three trackers followed. Near dawn, there were signs that they were approaching the trolls' hiding place. Bones and refuse littered the pathway. Drawing their swords, they rushed around the corner into the clearing in front of the trolls' cave, ululating their war cries. And stopped.
Elladan and Elrohir stood slack-jawed, their swords forgotten and points drooping downwards. Celeborn, after the first frozen moment, laughed until his knees were weak and his weight was only supported by his sword.
The three trolls stood at tipsy angles, legs splayed for balance, tuns of fine wine still held overhead, with stains, dark in the starlight, running from their mouths and down their stone fronts.
"Was it a contest that they all lost at sunrise?" Elrohir inquired at last.
"All that good wine is wasted," Elladan complained.
"The world has changed indeed. Do you think we can still claim a victory feast from the villagers?" Celeborn asked.