BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
James "Jimmy" Lake Junior covered his ears at the sound of the high-pitched chirping.
"The cake!" Barbara cried out. James Lake Senior paused the movie as his wife bolted upwards from the couch to the kitchen. When she opened the oven, a torrent of smoke came out.
"I offered to go buy him a cake a couple hours ago, you know," James said.
"I know, I know. I just wanted to do something special for him, not just the generic store-brand stuff. Besides, you have your business trip coming up, you should be spending time with him."
"Barb, to be blunt, you can't bake or cook or do practically anything that involves preparing food," James said as he screwed the smoke alarm back into the wall. "I'll go buy a cake."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. What kind of fifth birthday would it be if Jimmy didn't get to have a birthday cake?"
"Alright, but please be back soon. Just because he's five now doesn't mean his bedtime is any later than eight."
There was a large pile of rubble in the parking lot, but it seemed to be otherwise empty.
He turned around, looking for whomever had said his name. A glowing circle of light peeking through the rubble caught his eye.
That was odd. And disconcerting. Was someone's cell phone in there? If so, why did they know his name? The voice didn't sound like anyone he knew.
"Who's there?" he called.
"James Lake," was the only reply.
He walked towards the rubble and peered into it. Half-buried was a metal disk with a glowing blue stone embedded in it. Ignoring what felt like his own better judgement and the fact that he was supposed to be getting Jimmy's birthday cake, James picked it up.
"So, the old fool chose a fleshbag." James turned around and blinked several times. What looked like a black bear with swords, glowing red eyes, and uneven horns stood nearby.
James slowly walked back to his car. He could get the cake from somewhere else. "Please don't hurt me," he begged. "I have a wife and son." In the distance, James could hear loudly pounding feet, as if something massive was running.
"Give me the amulet," the odd-looking bear said, "and your family will only suffer as much as every other fleshbag will when the Eternal Night comes."
"Don't give him the amulet if you value the world in which we live!" called another voice. James turned his head as he backed up. A blue creature with horns similar to a longhorn steer was running towards them.
"You were too late to save the previous Trollhunter, Kanjigar, and you won't save this one either!"
James turned to the car, only for the bear-like creature to jump on it. As James was lifted into the air, he dropped the disk – the amulet? It didn't matter, because the next thing he felt was incredible pain.
It was also one of the last things he felt.
Sorry, Barbara. Sorry, Jimmy.
"Oh great, another fleshbag," said one of the floating blue lights that spun around Jim. He didn't understand what was going on; one moment he had placed his hand in the Soothscryer like Vendel had told him to. The next he was in an odd blue room surrounded by balls of light the same color as his amulet.
"He doesn't even recognize the Void Between Worlds; he doesn't know our customs! How can he protect our people?"
"I mean, he has turned out better than the last one." Right, the previous human Trollhunter. He hadn't lived to even summon the armor, and the trolls didn't know his name. He didn't even have a statue dedicated to him in the Hero's Forge.
"And Unkar as well!"
"Hey! He probably got lucky." Based on the amount of offense in his tone, Jim wondered if this was Unkar the Unfortunate, the Trollhunter that Blinky had trained and had been killed on his first night. The one that, up until nearly eleven years ago, had been the shortest-lasting Trollhunter ever.
One voice didn't try to contest Jim's own legitimacy as the Trollhunter. Instead, he spoke with a combination of awe and mournfulness.
No one called Jim that. No one had called him "Jimmy" in the past eleven years. The one person who called him that on a regular basis had left early for a business trip and had never come back, unless...
Jim turned around. Standing before him, blue, translucent, and not a day older than when he had left, was his own –