They had to be swift now. There were too many trolls chasing them even for Arthur to fight off. There were a lot of them – and they are bigger and quicker than people are – but trolls are stupid, and very easy to trick. They hid in a small cave and if any trolls should come in looking for them, one of them would just say that they were not very tasty and that there were better tasting people nearby (not meaning anyone in particular, but just trying to get rid of the trolls. However – as you may recall – Bren, Jenna and Rebecca were on their way to rescue them and would soon be upon the mountain).
When the trolls eventually became astute to their tricks, they chose the wisest among them (who were still prone to tricks individually, but it would have been very difficult to trick a large group of them) to go in to the cave and capture them. Seeing how many of them there were, Arthur decided (much to the dismay of Winni and the twins) that it would do them no good to fight them off and that they must let themselves be captured – for if they fought back, the trolls would be annoyed and they would not be able to reason with them when there were less of them around. They put their hands behind their backs and let the trolls tie them up. Luckily trolls were not very dextrous and the ropes were not tied well enough to retain Winni or either of the twins. They all knew, however that it was not yet time to bring this to light. The wiser trolls stayed with them until they reached one of the many troll camps that were hidden on the Stormy Mountain. There they left them with three of the best troll cooks and one guard troll.
When it was just them and the four trolls, the cooks began talking about how they might cook them – as trolls often do.
“We’ll roast them over a fire” said one.
“No, boil us!” suggested Arthur, much to everyone’s surprise. “We’ll taste much better boiled.”
“Boil you?” The trolls were all puzzled. “But we don’t have any water. The nearest stream is at least a mile away!”
“Well you’d better hurry up and get it then, or we’ll go off!”
They sent Biff, one of the cooks, because he was the ugliest troll there – although they were all very ugly, as trolls often are.
“I say, do you have any herbs?” Winni could see what Arthur was doing. “I should think we would go very nicely with some parsley and some marjoram.”
“Well, we do have some garlic” one admitted (trolls do like garlic and usually keep some handy).
“Garlic? No, no. That won’t do. We won’t go well with garlic” she insisted. “I would head off to find some parsley and some marjoram. There’s no time to question me! Come on, off you go, before we go off!”
And so, they sent a second troll off to find some parsley and some marjoram. They sent Bash, because he was the second ugliest (and the first after Biff left).
Terri was an astute girl and she had also caught wind of their plan. “Mmmm. Human soup with parsley and marjoram.” She said. “But don’t you usually put onions in human soup? Yes, I’m sure you do. And peppers and potato too!”
“Well we’ll have to do this one without.” Answered one troll (either Bosh or Thud, as they were the only two left, but they were both equally ugly so it is hard to tell which one). “We don’t have any onions, or peppers, or potatoes.”
“Oh no, that won’t do at all” said Theo, who finally understood the plan. “Human soup tastes awful without onions and all the rest of it. Those are the tasty bits after all!”
“Well, you’ll have to go then Bosh” said Thud, “as you are the next ugliest.”
He did not say this in malice but simply as a matter of fact, however (unsurprisingly) Bosh was outraged that Thud should think him uglier than himself. “What?” He cried in disbelief. “You’re ten times uglier than I am you unsightly maggot!”
After all of Thud’s politeness about Bosh’s less than pleasant appearance, he was shocked that the wretched thing should speak to him with anything less than a grateful courtesy. “Ten times uglier than you?” He couldn’t believe his ears. “My left foot is more pleasant to look at than your homely face, you hideous – you – you – you troll!”
That was the last straw! One does not call another a troll! Even if the other is a troll, it is still very, very rude (it is actually a derogatory term for a certain species of humanoid creatures that live in these mountains and a number of others, but I am not sure of the more P.C. term so we will have to make do with troll). Bosh reeled his arm back ready to swing a punch, swung and missed as Thud leant back, fell and tumbled over. As Thud clambered to his feet he noticed Bosh swing his leg back just in time to catch it as it came towards him. He lifted the leg up, tipping the ugly troll onto his back and then, as he struggled to get back up, readied his fist for a strike at Bosh’s big ugly head. Bosh saw his fist coming however, caught it and swung him to the ground on top of him.
While all of this was going on, Winni and the twins freed their hands, untied Arthur and they all made for path that led up the mountain. As both trolls scrambled to their feet they noticed that the humans were gone and, as the other two came back – one with some herbs and one with a big pale of water – they realised that they were in big, big trouble. Although they would have liked to have caught the humans, they didn’t want to tell Biff and Bash that they had been tricked, and so they told them that they had already eaten them – for this they would still be in trouble, but not as much as if they’d let them escape. So the four trolls sat at their camp, hungry and miserable, instead of catching up with Winni and Arthur and the twins.
Of course the mountain was infested with trolls and they were all growing tired of running away from them. They barely even noticed the singing (and not troll singing either. These were human voices!) until Winni pointed it out. Who could it be? They tried to make out the words.
He robs from the rich and he gives to the poor,
He has a band of merry men and he’s from the time of yore,
Wise as a fox, he’s a chip off the block,
Robin Hood – Robin Hood.
He’s a friend of The King and the fair Maid Marian,
He was outlawed by the state and the Sheriff of Nottingham,
Misunderstood, but his heart is good,
Robin Hood – Robin Hood.
The singing was still far off and now they could hear a group of trolls were closer. When they jumped out Arthur rushed towards them as quick as his tired legs could carry him. He attempted a swing at one of them, but the troll parried effortlessly. It was about to strike Arthur with a blow that would have finished him, when whoosh. An arrow shot just clear of his head and went straight into the troll’s heart. There were two more advancing towards Terri and Theo. Whoosh, whoosh. Two more arrows went past them and again, straight into the hearts of the trolls. There were three left now and as soon as they made a move towards them – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. All three arrows, straight into their hearts. Whoever this is, he is a good aim thought Winni.
“Robin Hood, at your service.” A man in a green hooded coat jumped out from behind a nearby-ish rock. He had a bow and a quiver of arrows, all of which were strapped over his shoulder. “And these are my merry men,” three more men appeared, all equipped with bows and arrows, “Will, Much” and pointing to one of the biggest men any of them had ever seen he said “and this is Little John.”
Although, Winni knew, it is a foolish thing to trust a group of men who have just jumped out at you from behind rocks and other such places, they had just saved her life, and those of her friends too. Still, she was sceptical (As I have mentioned before, Winni was not fond of literature and so did not know much about the ancient tales and legends from before The War. Had she known who Robin was, I’m sure she would have appreciated meeting him fifty – or even a hundred – times more).
“Robin!” called Arthur. It was clear the two knew each other. “My friend! It has been a long time!”