Click. Kieryn locked the rotting door of her tattered house, and slipped her skeleton key into one of her many pockets of her uniform. As if bounty hunting, cave exploration, or pest extermination really needed a uniform. She stepped out into the road, which was lined with beggars and barefooted children in ragged clothing. No one paid any attention to Kieryn as she walked down the dirt path, rocks crunching beneath her boots.
As Kieryn traveled closer to the Marketplace, the chaotic, and near deafening sounds, of the hustle-and-bustle of the town filled her ears. She slipped her hood over her head to avoid any attention. It was almost a struggle to get through the crowds, but Kieryn reached her destination: the Tavern. It was much quieter inside.
Kieryn casually walked over to a large desk. ‘Huh. New guy,’ she thought when she noticed the man behind the counter. The man’s clothing looked foreign, obviously from another region. He looked up from his papers when he noticed her, and spoke in a thick accent. “Welcome to the Tavern, Lad! What can I -- ” he stopped when she removed her hood, which had been hiding her features. His expression turned sour. “Huh? Lassie, this is not the inn desk. This is the --.”
“I know. I’d like a job.” Kieryn stated firmly.
“These jobs ain’t fer girlies, y’know. Y’might get yer purty face dirty or somethin‘,” he chuckled and ran his hand through his greasy hair, letting his eyes examine her.
Kieryn grew impatient. “Just show me the job list.” Kieryn’s hard stare was enough to get the man to obey. He plopped a stack of papers in front of her, smirking. “Nobody’s taken the earth troll extermination job yet. Or if ya want something’ a wee bit easier, ya can take care of the rats at the alchemy shop,” he said mockingly.
“I’ll take the troll,” Kieryn answered, slipping the job description into her pocket. She then walked out of the Tavern, leaving the man with his jaw on the floor.
It took a few hours for Kieryn to reach the location of the troll’s burrow, probably why nobody wanted to take the job Or maybe everybody was just scared. In front of Kieryn was a large patch of freshly dug-up dirt, about 25 feet wide, a clear indicator that an earth troll lived there. Kieryn knew the only way to kill a troll was to lure it out of its burrow, then proceeding to destroying its nerve tendrils that were hidden among thick, rock-hard layers of skin. Kieryn pulled out the job description, which read, “Extermination of Earth Troll: Slay the earth troll in the neighboring region and collect one vial of its blood. Return to the Marketplace for reward.”
As if on cue, the ground began to shake and the dirt in the center of the patch exploded upward, revealing what other than the troll himself. The troll was larger than Kieryn had imagined, and she stood, dazed. The earth troll, catching Kieryn’s scent, took a step towards her and roared, sending spit flying in her direction. It then picked up a large boulder and hurled it, effortlessly, at Kieryn. She snapped out of her shocked state and barely evaded the boulder with a dodge roll. Pulling out her rifle, she scanned the troll’s body for nerve tendrils. Two small red forms glimmered in the sunlight on the troll’s ribcage. Kieryn, being the sharpshooter that she was, quickly aimed and fired. The trolls screeched in a surprised fury, while Kieryn reloaded her gun. It pounded the ground with its fists, causing Kieryn to lose her footing. Before she could react, the troll was looming over her.
The sun blinded Kieryn, but she could clearly see the troll’s outline raise an arm to crush her. Kieryn was still pointing her rifle at the troll, desperately searching for a way out of this worst-case scenario. That’s when she saw it. Between the troll’s legs was a faintly glowing nerve tendril. The gunshot sounded split seconds before the thud of the troll’s fist. Kieryn, expecting the end, had flinched. Feeling no pain, she peeked open her eyes to find the glare of the sun in her face gone. Realizing the troll was slowly moving closer to her, no, FALLING on her, she scrambled out of the troll’s path. The silence that followed the sound of the troll smashing to the ground was almost deafening. Kieryn dashed over to the troll’s head and shot a bullet through its skull. Kieryn’s heart was racing. She reloaded her gun and fired again. The troll didn’t move.
“Ah, back so soon, lassie? Would you rather exchange fer an easier job? The rats are still waitin’! The tavern man laughed as Kieryn walked through the door. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to take that brute down by yerself!”
“I killed it. Alone.” Kieryn said, bluntly.
“Impossible! It takes five grown men to take a ground troll down!”
“Those trolls are more vulnerable than most people think.” Kieryn handed the man a vial of the troll’s blood, her proof. She watched his jaw drop once again. “Now where’s my pay?”
“Hmph!” the man grunted as he handed her a small, handful of gold pieces.
“What’s this?!” Kieryn screamed, outraged. “I just took down a TROLL! I deserve more than this!”
“You sure are feisty. Lemme take you out fer a meal later. Introduce you to friends o’mine.” he revealed another handful of gold.
“Fine.” Kieryn said, without hesitation and took the gold from him. She turned for the exit and cracked open the door, the room flooding with noise from outside.
“Come back in a few hours.” he called after her.
“No need.” Kieryn pulled out her rifle and fired. The gunshot drowned in the sounds of the marketplace.