Ephemera — Vinga Repays A Favour
In Nochet, the Vingan Temple often stands an extra guard on the Holy Nights of Humakt, always as volunteers, and never by arrangement. This is why.
In the Lesser Darkness it happened that Humakt was out in the dark and the cold, when he found tracks on the surface of the snow, of a warrior walking, and tracks that had broken through the snow, of a Troll following.
He turned his path that way, and following along in the broken snow he soon managed to catch the Troll, which was creeping towards a half-hidden campfire. He called out a challenge and they fought, and after some time Humakt was victorious, although he was wounded. He limped towards the campfire to ask for hospitality, but found nobody there. So, after feeding the fire with a handful of twigs he departed, for he had not been invited to it. But before he left he built up a bank of snow so that more trolls would not come, leaving only a chink of light lest he be destroying a signal, unknowing. This protected the fire, and it burned on.
Unknown to him, the fire belonged to Vinga, who had laid it as an ambush for the Troll, and had watched the fight, not intervening because she knew the honour of Humakt prevented him from taking advantage of ambush or lies. She saw him call out, and feed and protect the fire, and leave, and afterwards she saw there was blood on the snow and his tracks were uneven.
Taking an ember from the fire to light her way, Vinga followed the tracks until they led into a cave she knew, with the entrance now covered by thorn bushes. This was familiar ground to her for she had hunted creatures of the darkness here, and she knew there were many trolls in the area. So, taking a handful of thorns, Vinga set the ember among them, and built an ice cairn to keep the light from spreading, and waited there.
Soon a Troll came, its snout snuffing in the snow on her tracks. “Little snack,” it said to her. “Come to me, warm and wriggling.”
“I will come to you,” she said, picking up a javelin, “But I will leave you still and cold.” She threw Lightning so that it pierced the Troll’s eye, and it fell dead.
Before she could retrieve her weapon, another Troll came out of the darkness, and sniffed at the corpse, and at the air, and said, “Sweet morsel. Come to me willing and tender.”
“I will come to you willing,” said Vinga, “But I will leave you unmoving and unmoved.” And she threw Thunder so that it pierced the Troll’s eye, and it fell dead.
Now Vinga was a warrior, and she knew better than to run for her weapons, so she waited unmoving a little while, for where there had been one Troll there might be one only, but where there had been two there was likely to be a band. And soon, the darkness moved and from it came a third Troll, as big as the one Humakt had fought, and just as fierce. “Will you have me come to you?” Vinga asked as it looked at her. “No, I will come to you,” said the Troll. “And leave you as nothing but a memory.” So Vinga took up her spear and advanced to meet it, so that they clashed a little way from the cave.
Vinga was glad then that she was well armed and armoured, for the troll’s hide was thick and its teeth sharp. It had a club made from half a tree wrapped with bands of lead, and it was far stronger than she was, and almost as fast. Still, she had the magic of the storm, and a cold wind was blowing, and it baffled her opponent again and again, but eventually Vinga had retreated back to her ice cairn, and the Troll thought it had won. Then Vinga struck low, not at the Troll but at the cairn, and it broke so the fire flared up with a bright light that the Troll could not bear, and ice shards cut it, and it flinched back.
As it flinched, Vinga struck the third Troll a mighty blow with her spear, through its throat and out the other side, and it fell before her, and died.
Vinga waited for many hours more, but no foes came, and when her fire was gone and she dared burn no more thorns, she took up her ember once more and went back to her own fire, where she gathered her things and stepped up onto the storm.
Humakt slept in the cave until he was refreshed, and when he came out, there were three Troll bodies, and the tracks of the warrior. He wondered at who would use a Troll’s body as a firebreak, for so it appeared to him, but he did not follow the tracks, for he was content his aid was not needed. He went on, puzzled, until a new challenge appeared before him.
Vinga, who watched from the clouds above, saw him depart, and went onwards.