Seikfreid stood alone in the valley, staring out absently across the calm waters of the Latria. The soft breeze formed tiny ripples on the lake that moved silently across the water, splashing softly onto the shore ahead of the boy. Almost a man now, Seikfreid would come here and look out across the lake whenever he needed some peace and serenity. It was a perfect spot, for only he knew it existed.
He had discovered the site almost two years ago, on his sixteenth birthday. He had gone hunting with his guardian, Fangrim, and had fallen into a crevice at the base of the ridge that was thought to extend out to the Latria. In fact, most of it did. While Fangrim went back to get a rope from his pack, Seikfreid leaned against a thick cluster of vines on the side of the ridge, and they gave way. Intrigued, Seikfreid pushed them aside and found a hole large enough to stoop and walk through. he followed the tunnel for a short way, but it was too dark and he was forced to turn back. The next day, Seikfreid returned with torches and followed the tunnel through the ridge until he emerged in the valley where he now stood.
Today, Seikfreid had come to the secret valley for the same reason he often did. He was confused, thinking about his parents and the little he knew of them. Fangrim had said that his mother died giving birth to him. His father had died defending their family against a troll raiding party. His mother's death was realistic, but the story about his father didn't add up. Trolls were cruel, but they only attacked rich merchant caravans and sacked small villages. Northern families were more trouble than they were worth, as trolls often fought among themselves over the small amount of loot. Troll leaders usually left single families alone. Something they had must have been valuable to the trolls. Or his father had not died in that way.
Seikfreid started as a sudden noise echoed from the eastern shore of the lake. He turned sharply to his left. What was that? The noise sounded again, sending a chill down Seikfreid's spine. He knew that sound all too well. Drums. Troll drums.