Chapter 7.

Chapter 8: Kitten of Absolute Destruction

Helge-Dag cringes back in fear before the colossal humanoids, who seem fully capable of squashing him like a rodent. But Xarya has not even drawn her sword. She watches the newcomers with surprise, but without any sign of fear. And then Entandil speaks. "Anlaminivaroganima! What a welcome surprise to have you visit us on this auspicious day!" The first troll, the less immense one, stops. Now in the firelight Helge-Dag can see that it has a vaguely female form, with broad hips and large, bulky breasts in the sack-like clothing. The larger one is male, no doubt about that. The female speaks. The voice is deep for a female, but no more than must be expected from her size.

"Greet we you great magic wield son and all child goddess dance. Tell friend Cneko among you son great old ones fountain magic. Haste we here bring protect great son. Bring we gift Radustan make ring god: Ring child cat destroy all!"

Helge-Dag can see from the confused faces around him that most of the villagers understand as little as he does. But Xarya and Theelene gasp in shocked surprise, and even Entandil seems taken aback. Helge-Dag whispers to Xarya: "Friends or foes?" "Friends. Very powerful friends. But she says ... she has a ring that can summon the Kitten of Absolute Destruction!" "Child cat destroy all!" confirms the she-troll. She pulls a string he had not noticed before from her neck, and fishes up from her cleavage a small packet. She opens it, and then amazingly she steps forward and kneels before him. Holding out a small box in one hand, she opens it with big fingers. Inside is a simple copper-colored ring. Helge-Dag looks in confusion. "Take it" says Xarya softly. "Put it on. Just don't invoke it." "Thank you, ma'am!" says Helge-Dag as he tentatively puts the ring on his finger. It seemed way too big for him, but somehow it seems to shrink to fit as soon as he puts it on. Magic! "How do you invoke it anyway? Do you just wave your hand and say 'I invoke thee!'?"

"No!" "Too late!" "Aieeee!" There are screams of dismay all around, as the ring suddenly flares up with a burning white light. Out of the light jumps a small fluffy kitten, landing on the table. It is hard to tell its original color, for it is surrounded by a blazing white aura. In fact, it bathes the whole plaza in stark light, painting everything in black and white.

"Mrrreww? What have we here?" The kitten looks around with curiosity. As it turns around, it accidentally bumps into the bowl of Gameberries, making it fall off the table and crash to pieces as it hits the ground, the berries rolling all over the place and disappearing into shadows and crevices. Not a one of them is left in sight. "Who summons the friendly neighborhood kitten?" It looks around, finds everyone staring at Helge-Dag, and fastens its round kitten eyes on him. He feels like a zombie revealed in the front row of church during High Mass. The innocence and purity that radiates from the cute little kitten makes him feel dirty to his bones. "It was a mistake!" he croaks. "Indeed" muses the kitten. In an elegant jump it leaves the table and lands on his shoulder. The claws sink into his flesh like burning nails. "Next time make sure to not wake me up unless you need me, OK?" It walks down his arm, and then the ring blazes again. "And no indecency while I am gone!" The kitten disappears into the bright light and is gone.

Indecency? Helge-Dag looks over at Theelene and Xarya, and suddenly remembers his thoughts and feelings from a few minutes ago. He cringes at the thought. Oh God, what was he thinking? "Thank the goddess we survived! What were you thinking, invoking it like that?" "I just wanted to ask how not to invoke it!" "Well, that was not how you don't do it." "I noticed."

It is a subdued crowd that sits back down. Parents comfort their crying children, many of the adults looking rather pale themselves. Some are visibly trembling. Helge-Dag realizes that to them, this kitten must be some legend on the scale of a horseman of the Apocalypse. "I am sorry" he says to Entandil. "I did not know what this creature was. In fact, I still don't know. At least it did not actually destroy everything. It seems its reputation is exaggerated, luckily for us all."

"The Kitten of Absolute Destruction is a mystery even to us. But no, it is not a weapon of indiscriminate annihilation. It is a counter-weapon against demonic attacks, but if its summoners are impure, they will be destroyed too. Evidently you are purer than we had expected from someone hailing from a world ruled by zombies." "Thank you for your compliment, Sir." If the mage notices the sarcasm, he does not comment on it as he continues: "As far as I could see, the Kitten projects an archangel-class Holy Aura. It may have other supernatural powers, given its reputation. Rumor has it that it is itself a summoner. Certainly it is a very costly creature to summon. The complexity of the spell is beyond most mortal summoners, but this ring is made by Radustan, Ringmaker of the Gods. Even so, the power needed to cast it is staggering. It is hard to imagine that you could just casually summon it like that." "So I could probably not do that twice in a row?" "Don't even think about it" hisses Xarya.

Meanwhile, the trolls are just standing there, looking for all the world like huge statues. Helge-Dag looks at them again. The two of them are very different, so much so that he has to wonder whether they belong to the same species of troll. The female looks like a giant, coarsely made human, except for the heads. There is one that is at least as big as you would expect from the body, and then there's a small one to one side and slightly to the back, facing the other way. It is no larger than the head of a baby or toddler. In contrast, the larger troll is twice as high again and very broad for its height. Both arms and legs are swollen with muscles, but the actual texture is hidden under a thick dense mat of fur. Its head however is only slightly larger than a human head, and the face is small, the neck virtually absent. Its expression is little more than a vacant stare. Both of the creatures look grotesque, but in different ways. The female is clearly intelligent, even if not intelligible, so he tries to hide his instinctive fear and revulsion. They have certainly not done him any harm.

Well, except for spoiling the party. The mood is definitely gone. So are the berries. The ones that are found are squashed and stomped into the dirt; it seems that by sheer accident, people have stepped on them all. And whether it's because of the Holy Aura or not, the inhibitions are back.

Entandil turns to the trolls. "Anlaminivaroganima, you must be hungry and tired. We offer you food and hospitality." "Rakshasa we tough we. Accept we offer you friendship sign. Happy we among child goddess dance." She does not seem to speak to the larger troll, but they both move forward and sit down on the ground beside the table. Nobody seems afraid of them, now that their mission is explained. Evidently people here have seen this kind of creature before.

While the trolls eat or in the case of the male, stuffs its face the celebration kind of resumes. But it is a more somber and subdued celebration. The dancing, when it begins, consists of traditional folk dances (or elf dances, if these people are to be believed) that are as exciting as a museum of not quite modern art. Helge-Dag has a distinct feeling that this would not have been the case if the trolls had not arrived. And worse yet, he has a distinct feeling that it is all because of his l33t summoning skillz. Looking at Xarya and Theelene chastely moving back and forth a couple steps from each other, he thinks of what could have been and realizes that the kitten is more aptly named than these people know...

Chapter 9.

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To the rest of my Chaos Node.