Bregna stood her ground and balled up her fists, hoping that her reputation would keep her from this fight as it normally did. She didn’t believe that this would be the case as she looked at the two stringy humans and stocky dwarf youths. They looked very angry, and the object of their ire was cowering behind Bregna. “We’re not after you Ork, get out of our way and let us have Roni, he stole from us,” growled Henry, the human youth who seemed to be in charge of the gang today
“You mean he took back what you stole from him yesterday, I don’t want to hurt you but I’m not going to let you hurt Roni, or steal from him anymore.” She tried to sound confidence and didn’t think they noticed the slight quaver in her voice. All three had taken a beating at her hands in the past, not that she ever started it, but she almost always finished it. The three bullies traded glances with each other trying to screw up the courage when Roni, the Dwarf child with the clubfoot let out a gasp as another of the gang stepped into the alley. Bregna’s heart sank as the three she was facing started for her. She knew that fight three of them would be difficult but realized that there was no way she could fight four.“A Troll just came into the Ratway,” the newcomer cried. This news stopped everyone dead in their tracks. Trolls never came in the ratway unless they were there to beat someone up. Even the laziest, stupid troll could find a job as a guard or laborer. Either profession would pay enough to keep someone from having to live in squalor. At this news the bullies turned to go witness the beating. Bregna wanted nothing more than to get as far away from the fight, and the bullies as quickly as possible but Roni had other plans. She missed a swipe at his collar as he ran off to follow his would be aggressors. “Roni, come back!” This as she followed him around a corner just in time to see the Troll duck into the Crone’s shack as she hurriedly hobbled off.
Try as she might she could not come up with any clue as to what was going on. Word spread quickly about the Troll’s presence and within minutes the area was crawling with almost every youth in the Ratway, they had gathered to bear witness to the upcoming event. Soon enough around the corner came Jack the Wretch with her Uncle Dekman and a couple of toughs, these men fancied themselves the leaders of the Ratway. She didn’t much care for her Uncle but was happy he held the unofficial title that he did as it kept Jack the Wretch’s leering looks and occasional groping to only that.
Ignoring the children the four toughs entered the hut, little could be heard from within, until it exploded. One minute Bregna was staring at the hut and as quick as that, timbers and knick knacks were flying in every direction. The Troll stood calmly waiting for the Ratway natives to gain their feet and then the beatings began in earnest. She watched in awe as the Troll didn’t even try to defend himself, shrugging off what could only be considered pitiful blows from the Namegivers who were foolish enough to stand against him. He seemed to fight only as long as it too to negate an opponent, there was no anger or panic in his movement, as if he knew these four could do nothing to him even on their best day.
In the end, Jack the Wretch lay unconscious and his three companions lay groaning on the ground. Several of the older youths, all of which had taken beatings or worse from Jack, stared wordlessly at him for a moment, then without a word seized him and drug him off down an alley. Bregna knew no one would ever see Jack the Wretch again. Looking at the Troll she realized he knew it too as he watched the group that would execute Ratway justice carry his unconscious opponent away, he nodded his approval.
Bregna watched with a bit of apprehension as the newcomer reached down and pick her Uncle up by his collar. “Now that that is over with, let’s go talk.” Her uncle mumbled something and nodded his head in reply. As the troll prepared to leave he looked at the large collection of waifs gathered ’round him, “If any of you are hungry follow me, I’ll put some food in your bellies.” Bregna’s stomach growled as she remembered that her last meal had been lunch yesterday. She found herself following the Troll before she realized what she was doing. “Roni, we should go home before there’s trouble,” but she felt no conviction behind the words as Roni ignored her.
She remembered little else of the day, only bits. The food tasting better than anything she’d ever eaten. Her uncle listening intently to the Troll. Feeling a sensation that she had never felt before, she would later learn that it was hope.
The next day she awoke feeling better than she ever had before. Rumor had it that they were going to have to leave the Ratway, this didn’t bother her. It didn’t seem to bother anyone too terribly much. That evening it was passed about that they would be moving into tents on a farm outside the city. Bregna was a bit bemused that everyone seemed to take this in stride and slowly the Ratway folk began preparations. That evening she and Roni were taking a pigeon they had killed to get roasted at the common fire. A firm, calloused hand fell gently on her shoulder. “Bregna, Roni, I need your service for a bit, if you’re so inclined.” She turned and saw a human of small stature clad in a soot-stained leather apron. She was about to ask how he knew their names but the words died on her lips as she looked into his eyes . He knew her, he knew everything about her, and she knew this: he was Power. This didn’t scare her because she also saw such benevolence in him, more than any Namegiver could possess.
“You know Dagmar Steelsong.” She nodded; she had never heard his name but upon hearing it the Troll who had fed them popped into her head. “You know where he lives.” Immediately an image of a small cottage with huge doors appeared in her mind’s eye. Again she nodded. “Excellent, I need you to give him something for me.” He handed her a saw and some other tool that she didn’t recognize, and gave Roni a belt and another tool she was clueless about. “And a little something for you trouble.” He flipped a silver coin to Roni, who deftly caught it, “And for you, my dear.” And he pressed a small coin into her hand. It was a worn coin, made from a material she had never seen before with a compass on one side and an anvil on the other. When she looked up to thank him, he was gone.
“He was nice.” Roni clearly hadn’t had the same experience that she had. Roni looked curiously at Bregna and asked, “What are you going to spend you silver on?”
“I think I’ll save it,” she replied, knowing that she’d keep the treasure until the day she died.
Without knowing how she walked with Roni directly to the cottage that she had seen in her head and knocked on the door. She heard heavy footsteps and the door opened. Dagmar – she knew this was him beyond a shadow of a doubt. Both she and Roni wordlessly handed him the tools and belt. She wished to speak to him but the craftsman’s interest in this Namegiver stayed her tongue. As he took them they turned and walked away back to the Ratway.