It had been months since Kij'aza had first meet Ruzulute. He had been scrawny back then, easily mistaken for a lost child in the desert. Bleak pink hair, cracked skin, and nearly dead eyes had first glimmered in hope seeing her.
Kij had been stockpiling water and food for miles by that point, careful with her supplies. She had taken a sip as she stopped to rest, catching his eyes.
He didn't know the first thing about the outer world, too sheltered in plazas of gold and rubies to know how to survive. It must have been a might blessing from the loas that he survived as long as he did.
Ruzulute had nearly crawled to her base, desperate for a share of water, for something to sustain him.
Much to his surprise though, she offered more. Kij'aza may not have been a kind huntress, but his beady eyes stuck some cord in her. Not the high ring of compassion, nor the low blows of pity. Something in between, something she didn't quite understand herself, called for him to stay and recover.
It had been a slow journey over the months since. As he carried Kij's bags, she would show him how to tell when water was abound. She tried teaching him how to hunt on the go, how to hold a spear and jump a beastie down.
That he had failed miserably, letting many a beastie escape his grasp, with most leaving a failing mark on his body.
Yet despite the scars, he remained a force to behold. A flame in his eyes always burned, even when the desert winds had nearly scruffed it out. It poured from his scars and words, the way he would weave stories of old, of the loa's glory and empire's follies.
Kij could remember listening to them as they journeyed to Zuldazar. Though he spoke nothing of them beyond their sins and stupidity, Kij could not quell her naive wishes.
This was the might of Zandarli after all. The height of troll civilization, of her pride and joy in her people's past. Though his stories were heinous, it was much easier to disagree them as another, much lesser, people's than if the legendary Zandarli.
Yet his words rang true as they walked the terrences. The people had been divided long ago, their differences divided along the city's elevation. Their eyes downcasted at their own citizens, as well as the representatives of the tribes.
The two had even visited the Darkspear's embassy. How her tribesmen would gleam at the golden city while their hosts would turn the other cheek.
Their disrespect had greatly lowered the huntress' mood. They now hide along the docks, where the castless begged and no one would look twice at them.
She leaned against a supporting beam, watching Ruzulute curiously.
He had mentioned being an exile before. Yet it was always a quick comment under his breath, laughed away as they continued on.
Not here though. There was no laughter in those dancing flames. Only a worried gaze as he peaked his nose out beyond his cloak's reach.
He had been in constant watch for days now, refusing to wear anything but the most unremarkable and loose clothing possible. She had never seen Ruzulute so vigilant before.
As the sun began to set over the waters, Kij's displeasure was completely overturned by her need to know. "Whatcha lookin' foh?"
Ruzulute swiftly turned to her, his eyed wide as could be. "What? I ain't lookin'…"
He tried to growl it out, but it came more as a desperate attempt to hide a whimper.
Kij smirked to herself, standing up to stare him down directly. "Ya know what I meant."
"I don't know what ya talkin' 'bout."
"Sure ya don't." She rolled her eyes. "Ya just scoutin' foh da Kin's wraid."
He shook his head, fully entering the dock's shadow. "Nah, just da wind's."
"Da winds?" Kij tilted her head in confusion.
"Yah, dey day da winds come ta blow da lies away. But I dink et just da unnecessary ones, da ones da odeh loas cannot permit." Ruzulute rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "An' since da winds ain't comin' ta carry me 'way, mine'll be fine."
The huntress furrowed her brow. First he's tense, then awkward, and now he's worried about getting in trouble?
"Da 'ell es goin' on, Ruz?"
"I, uh…" Ruzulute cleared his throat. "Don't wanna deal wit' da attention. Dinkin' o' changin' my name ta somedin' easieh."
"Anydin' come ta mind den?"
The native troll grinned mischievously as he drew closer to her. In a low whisper he uttered, "Ya know 'ow dey give twa shites 'bout da Darkspeah?"
"Yah…" Kij'aza growled dangerously.
"Well, dat be da way ta a good name: somedin' Darkspeah."
"Ta 'ide wid?" Kij narrowed her gaze.
"Yah!" He nodded eagerly. "'elps sell da picture I' us togetheh."
"Fine, maybe somedin' like Ruz't-"
"Nah!" Ruzulute shook his head. "I was actually dinkin' 'Ye'boi'."
Kij rose an eyebrow. "Sound stupid."
The younger troll chuckled. "Nah when I say et, but when dose fools say et, dey'll looking sellin' it ta ya boy, Ye'boi."
Kij'aza broke into a cackle. "O' mon…! 'A!" She held onto her sides as she leaned back.
Ruzu- Ye'boi beamed proudly at the huntress, joining her in the laugh. He should've been quiet with the guards making their rounds, encouraging her to do the same.
But that laugh was a lively melody, drawing him closer towards her.
So close that he instinctively leaned into her. Yet it threw off her laughter-weakened balance, sending them back under the dock.
The two stared at each other, a faint blush growing on both trolls' faces.
"Da 'ell ya doin' on me?" Kij murmured playfully.
"I dunno…" The young troll shrugged, tilting his head closer to the huntress'. His lips brushed along hers, a playful tease in his eyes as he pulls away.
Kij'aza was wide eyed, whether in shock or joy it was hard to say.
"Dat was good," She began after an awkward moment. Kij smiled slightly, baring her tusks as she continued. "But don't ya be dinkin' dis excuses ya from callin' da Darkspeah shite."
"O'!" He gasped dramatically, placing a hand on his chest. "I ain't even say dey were, an' even if I did, I'd be yar shite taa."
"Den ya probably wanna be a quiet shite foh a while den." The huntress smirked, pointing ahead to a guard that was coming a little too close to their dockside spot.
"Right, right…" He lowered his voice, spreading his dark close against him and Kij, silently covering themselves for the night.