"Do you mean they aren't your friends? That sure would explain a lot." Phillard said while moving away from the menace as fast as he could.
"Of course they are no friends of mine! There have never been trolls in the Trawn woods. More importantly, what the heck are trolls?" Reaper asked.
Phillard pondered for a second, trying to remember Scarlett's words correctly.
"Trolls are one of the Fallen races. They were once humanoid creatures of great wisdom and longevity. Like us magical beasts they were in tune with two elements, but they were the same for everyone, light and darkness.
At the same time, like humans, they could freely learn all kinds of magic.
"Their major weak point was their low reproductive ability, you know, for balance and stuff. They were superior to us, but too few in numbers to expand their dominion. At some point, they decided to solve their problem with magic.
"They used light magic to force their evolution, becoming able to spawn faster and also increasing their physical abilities. A first, it was a great success. By altering their life force with light magic, they became the perfect race.
"At least until the unforeseen side effects started to appear. In a couple of generations, their children were raving mad from birth and plagued with an insatiable hunger. Their millennia old society was destroyed in a matter of weeks."
"Wait a minute. How could children destroy a civilization in weeks? Why their parents didn't kill them?" The idea that the same thing could happen to the Trawn woods terrified Reaper.
"Are you deaf or what?" Phillard scoffed. "I told you, they spawn fast. The little b*stards can reach maturity in a few hours with enough nourishment. They are damn strong and hard to kill. Light magic runs rampant in their bodies.
"They recover from any wound in a matter of seconds. Cut off an arm and in a few minutes, you get double trouble. The troll regrows the limb while the limb regrows the troll.
"To make things even worse, their whole body is a frigging mouth. Attacking them without a weapon means literally throwing yourself in their maw. I almost got killed by them, twice. That's why I want my frigging axes!"
Reaper stopped in his tracks, putting together everything Phillard told him.
"How long do we have before they swarm the woods?"
"A week, maybe two if we are lucky." Phillard pondered.
"Depends on how much food they find and how hard they have to fight for it. The b*stards can eat anything. Meat, fruits, grass, even trees if they are really hungry. Right now they are barely a dozen, but tomorrow they could be 24 and 48 the day after that."
"By the Great Mother, then we need to act now! What are their weak points?" Reaper had a bad feeling. If even after turning into an Evolved Monster Phillard was eager to run away from them, he had to have a really good reason.
"Not many. Perfect race, remember? They are incredibly stupid, but with their abilities, they can afford it. Magic is mostly useless against them, only fire and light can kill them for good. They burn like dry grass, but boss Scarlett always used light magic to get rid of them."
Reaper was flabbergasted. He never heard about light magic being able to kill, making it impossible for him to understand Scarlett's tactic. It was actually pretty simple, but Reaper's panic was blinding him.
Fire was dangerous to use inside the woods because, until the end of the combat, it would be free to spread everywhere. Also, the explosions usually associated with it could blast away a piece of troll, bringing it to safety.
If it happened, it was only a matter of time before that single missing piece spawned a new tribe. It was exactly what had brought trolls in the woods. A team of adventurers had been tasked to get rid of a small tribe and did a poor job cleaning up their remains.
"You can use all elements now, right? It should be easy for you wiping them out."
"Dude, I've Awakened from days and magic has never been my thing. I can use water and earth, but they can barely stall for time. If you don't have a way of dealing with them, we're as good as dead. It's better to run to fight another day."
Phillard's words almost crushed Reaper's hopes. The Lindwurm was right. During his last days in the woods, Lith had only explained them Invigoration and how to practice first magic. He had refused to teach Phillard any spell to force the Lindwurm to understand the importance of magical research.
"Run away? If what you said it's true, then in a week those creatures will turn the woods in a barren land. At that point they'll attack Lutia. I'm sure that Lith will appreciate you breaking your oath and letting his family getting killed." Reaper retorted, making Phillard freeze in fear.
"We need to kill them now. I'll get all the help I can find. You keep an eye on them and prevent them from spreading. I've a plan."
The Lindwurm spent the following hour watching the horror the trolls were from a safe distance. He also weaved as many spells as he could, just to be safe. For the first time in his life, Phillard regretted not listening to Scarlett the Scorpicore when she tried to teach him more advanced magic.
'Thank the Great Mother I've no legs anymore. My new body allows me to be silent, without stomping or tripping like my old one.' Phillard's size wasn't an issue. The trolls' eyes were white, without pupils or irises.
In his experience, they were blind and relied on their hearing and sense of smell to track their prey. Phillard wasn't soft hearted by nature. He often enjoyed playing with his meals before killing them, yet he couldn't help but pity the trolls' miserable existence.
They were over two meters (6'7") tall and their skin was of a sickly white color. They had no eyelids nor nose, breathing from two holes right in the middle of their faces. They had no lips either, revealing their huge maw filled with fangs going from ear to ear.
They were skeletal with a swollen belly, as if they hadn't eaten from days. Their hands had long fingers ending in razor sharp claws and their bodies were covered by odd looking scars that gave Phillard the creeps.
The trolls had already eaten everything in a 100 meters (328 feet) radius, so they were lazily grazing the grass while waiting for the next prey to draw their attention.
When Reaper returned with the reinforcements, Phillard could finally sigh in relief. There were Byks (bear type magical beasts), Shyfs (puma type), Gylads (stag type), Rys (wolf type), and Crons (hawk type).
Each tribe had sent their four most powerful members. Every one of them was a King or a potential King candidate. The Byks were eager to fight and prove their worth. After Lith had defeated Irtu, their previous leader, and the most talented member of their tribe had turned into an Abomination, the Crons' alpha had become the King in the West, usurping their title.