Copyright© 2021 by Charly Young
Midnight on the mid-summer’s eve in his thirteenth year, Lachlan Quinn, the boy they called the Keeper’s Boy was awakened from a sound sleep by his foster father Cayden MacLeish. With a muttered follow me, the man led the boy out to the meadow behind the cabin at the edge of the Opari wilderness.
Four small fires burned at the cardinal points around a meticulously groomed fairy ring that Quinn had been warned to never to play around—not that he ever had any time to play.
A pentagram was marked out in the center of the ring. Three women sat in the middle of it on an ornate blanket.
As young Lachlan drew close and saw the women clearly, he began to shiver violently. Trolls. Their skin was thickly pebbled and dull green. Their huge eyes gleamed silver in the torchlight.
“Lachlan,” his foster father whispered in his ear, “these three are The Vísdómur- the wise ones. They are troll elders from the Green River Clan. I have made them a bargain for the boon of protection for you.”
He led the boy to edge of the pentagon and waited respectfully for the troll women to finish their chant.
Sensing his terror, the old man kept a painful hold on his neck.
“Lay face down,” he said gruffly “and be absolutely still and it won’t hurt as bad.”
“Please let me go, Mr. MacLeish. I don’t like this,” Quinn started to cry. He’d let his guard down. He was devastated at the old man’s betrayal.
“Are you certain, Keeper? He’s too young. Chances are good that he won’t survive this,” the eldest grunted harshly.
“He’ll be fine. He has the strongest mind I’ve ever come across. You made the bargain. Grant him the protections. I’ll send him to you when it’s time.”
The eldest nodded her agreement. Quick as a flash, she seized the boy’s leg and flung him face down on the blanket. She held him firm, while the others chanted. When the chants stopped. Lachlan found himself paralyzed. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched with mounting terror as the youngest plunged a black knife into each of the fires until it glowed white hot. She traced a fiery serpentine shape in the air and flipped the glowing glyph to the other woman who was kneeling beside him. She caught it neatly in a piece of blackened leather and slapped the white hot glyph onto his right shoulder.
Then came the pain. Agony blossomed as it burned into his skin, through the muscle and into bone.
Blackness rolled over him as he lost consciousness.
“Wait until he comes to, he must be awake during the spelling,” the eldest said.
They waited continuously chanting until Lachlan was aware and repeated the process. Seven times they cast the rune spell. Seven times they burned the glyphs into him—working their way across his shoulder and down his spine.
The boy, Lachlan Quinn, didn’t stop screaming even though his voice went early on.
The healing spells that followed were worse.
It was dawn before it was finally over. The youngest one whispered, not unkindly, “That’s the worst of them young human. The others won’t be nearly so bad. Rest now.”
She laid a hand on his forehead.
He slept for five days and five nights.
So passed Lachlan Quinn’s first meeting with three troll women that the Fae called-the Vísdómur.
It wouldn’t be the last.
After that, his mentors commented to each other at their weekly meetings that the Keeper’s boy seemed profoundly changed. He was always quiet, but now he was silent.
(Many thanks to Mr. Wolf for lending his invaluable editorial skills to make this readable).