The young troll crouched in the rain, staring ahead to where the path faltered in the face of the jungle’s dense undergrowth. The sunlight could not penetrate that foliage, nor could the breeze. That part of the island was called First Home, and nobody went there besides shadow hunters and fools.
Vol’jin was no shadow hunter.
He felt the water running in rivulets between his toes. It was a fierce rain, and each drop that hit his back pushed him toward First Home. Sometimes the shadow hunters returned, but the fools never did. Behind Vol’jin, another troll sheltered under a great palm leaf.
Zalazane was no shadow hunter either.
“We not ready,” Zalazane said, chewing noisily on hunks of kommu meat. “De judgment be for older trolls who already done mighty things. We be young nobodies.”
“I just young; you the nobody.” Vol’jin chuckled and stood up. “We got to. My papa, he stared into a fire for many hours last night, and now he actin’ like his doom be upon him. I think he saw a vision. Change comin’, and we got to be ready.”
“You think the loa goin’ to make you a shadow hunter?”
“They gonna judge me, for sure. Test me. I don’t know what dat mean, though.”
Download high-resolution “They say the loa gonna take our minds,” Zalazane said grimly. “They gonna warp us and twist us around and make us see visions.”
“Many tests, I hear. If they find me worthy, I be a shadow hunter,” Vol’jin answered. “If they find me unworthy… nothing can save us.”
“Oh, they gonna be impressed with me.” Zalazane smiled knowingly.
“But they gonna laugh at you.” He stepped into the mud and ambled over to stand beside his friend. They looked at each other for a moment and broke into wide grins, tusks bared. Throughout their entire childhood in the Darkspear village, this had always been a sure sign that Vol’jin and Zalazane were about to do something particularly stupid.
With a mighty cry, they ran headlong into First Home. They crashed through grasping vines and roots. The place teemed with death both sudden and slow, but they were young, and they were sure they couldn’t really die.