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A Boy And His Dog

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On his 5th birthday, James Lake Jr’s father left him and his mother behind. His reasons were unclear and rumored to have been the result of an affair.

On his 7th birthday, the local shelter delivered a small kennel with his name on it. The letter attached claimed it was from his father. A final farewell, it said.

The letter addressed to Barbara explained it was actually from his uncle, Jim Lake Sr’s older brother. A last ditch effort to give the boy a good final memory of his father after waiting 2 years for him to come around.

Inside the kennel, a 2 month old border collie-golden retriever pup with the brightest, bluest eyes Jim had ever seen and a dark golden coat that reminded Jim of his mother’s nicest silk blouse.

He named her Lacey for the lace ribbon attached to her collar.

She followed him everywhere: She waited at the door when he left for school and was there when he got back; she sat beside him at the kitchen table; she had as much trouble as he did getting on his bed (his mother didn’t want her on the bed, but he loved burying his face into her fur.); she walked beside him when he and Toby went to the park.

When he was 12, Steve Palchuk shoved Jim into the canal and he broke his leg. Steve and his friends didn’t even get to laugh at him before Lacey had bitten the bigger boy’s leg hard enough to break through his jeans and skin. The three ran off screaming as Lacey scurried down the cement slope to the sobbing child. She curled up beside him and licked his face till someone finally spotted them while walking on the bridge above.

He spent 2 and a half months with a cast that every kid in school but Steve and his lackeys signed. Lacey whined at him every time he tried to walk until it came off, then licked his leg till he cried from laughing, then she licked his face.

When his mom decided he was old enough to go out on his own, Lacey followed him and Toby anywhere they rode their bikes to. It became a normal sight to see the gold and white pup outside the school, the library and the clinic when Jim visited his mom at work.

Where Jim Lake Jr went, Lacey would follow.

Not even destiny could keep a dog from her boy.

---___---

Jim wakes to the radio playing the same old station and groggily slaps the off button. Taking a moment to wake, he gets up to get dressed. Lacey yawns and stretches, watching sleepily as he moves about the room. Shirt, pants, jacket, socks and shoes, a quick brushing of his hair and one joking attempt to brush the fur atop her head into some silly style later, they head downstairs, a spring in Jim’s step.

She sits at her usual spot by the entrance to the kitchen as Jim goes about cleaning and whipping up lunch for himself and Toby, as well as dinner for his mother when she finally wakes up.

Lacey whines and walks over to paw at his leg, eyes big and pleading. Jim chuckles and reaches down to rub the dog’s ear between his fingers.

“Don’t worry, I remembered to pack something for you.” To prove his words, he pulls a treat from the box on the counter and tosses it into the air. Lacey is quick to jump up and catch the little bone-shaped biscuit.

An omelet is quickly whipped up in true Jim Lake fashion, then he heads to the stairs with the tray of breakfast, Lacey going on ahead of him to nudge the door open.

She heads back downstairs as Jim does a quick cleanup and tucks his mother in properly. Slipping her way into the garage, the dog finds her boy’s helmet hanging off his bike’s handlebars and carries it by the straps to the bottom of the stairs.

He comes down with a soft smile that broadens at the sight of his dog wagging her tail faster at the sight of him. He takes the helmet, patting Lacey’s head as he puts it on.

“Thanks Lacey.” She yips and leans into his touch happily. Lacey happily trots over to the garage door and watches Jim glance from his magazine of Vespas to his beat up old bike. He sighs and sets the magazine down, moving to pick up his bike.

The garage door is barely open before Lacey squirms her way outside and trots over to Jim’s best friend.

“There’s a good girl!” Toby grins, leaning down slightly to rub the dog’s face between his palms. They both look up as Jim huffs about raccoons raiding the garbage again, but Toby quickly turns his attention back to petting the happy pup, cooing at her about how she was such a good girl.

“We’re late for school, Jimbo!” Toby says, turning and picking his bike up, giving Lacey a final pat for the morning.

“Sorry Tobes,” Jim says as he sets the trash can back up. “Busy with the lunches.” He tosses a milk carton up, nearly missing. “One for me, one for mom, and-” Jim reaches into his bag and produces a little brown bag, which Toby takes with a excited grin. Lacey yips and walks around Jim’s legs with her tongue lolling, panting happily.

“Ah!” Toby takes a deep whiff. “Mmm, balsamic mushrooms, meatloaf, chunky, sun-dried tomatoes.” He peeks into the bag.

“And cardamon.” Jim says, rolling his bike on past, glancing down with a light laugh at Lacey staying right beside him.

Toby ‘ooh’s in surprise. “Takin’ a chance there, Chef Jim.”

“What’s life without a little adventure?” Jim looks back as he steps up on his bike.

The two start their usual bickering about Toby’s “diet” so Lacey’s attention wandered, dropping into her chase pose of rear in the air as her sights settle on a butterfly on the front yard. She hops over and swipes at it, yipping excitedly as she bounces back and forth.

“C’mon Lace!” Jim calls as he starts off down the road. “We’re gonna be late!”

“We’re already late!” Toby corrects, trying to catch up.

Lacey spares a last glance at the butterfly, then bolts off after, barking. She breaks into a sprint, cutting across a few yards to catch up with the boys.

“Take the canal, Tobes!” Jim calls, taking the beaten dirt path with a quick turn. “It’ll save us five minutes!”

“N-n-n-not the ca-nnaaaaallll!” Toby’s voice distorted by the bouncing of his bike on the rocky path. Lacey sprints on past him, barking loudly as if to encourage the boy.

“Oh, live a little!” Jim calls before jumping over an oddly placed ramping of the path.

“It’s living that I’m worried about!” Toby calls, huffing as he looks from his best friend to the over excited dog letting out a howl as she jumps over the same ramp.

“Come on Tobes! Don’t you ever want a little more excitement?” Jim grins as Lacey catches up to him, running alongside him with legs moving so fast they blur.

Toby chuckles dryly and shakes his head slightly. “No!”

Jim grins and pedals even faster, jumping over the edge of the canal wall. The world almost stands still as he basks, just for a moment, in the feeling of weightlessness as he and his bike almost hang in the air before dropping about half way down the side and skidding to a stop at the bottom and looking back to wait for Toby.

Lacey is quick to slide down the side and then trot up to Jim with a bark. He knows she can’t technically, but he swears she’s smiling as he ruffles the top of her head.

“Come on Tobes!” Jim calls, attention being quickly diverted as a distorted voice calls out his name from some… oddly placed pile of stones that definitely didn’t come from the canal.

Dog and master pay no mind as Toby comes flying down the side, screaming. Jim slowly sets down his bike as Lacey puts herself between him and the odd pile, ears back and growling softly in the back of her throat.

Jim glances back as Toby finally stops, falling flat on his face before removing his helmet and slowly approaching the pile. Lacey whines and hurries to stay as close to his side as she can without tripping him up.

“Tobes. Hey, Tobes. Did you hear that voice?” Jim asks, the other boy jogging over.

“What voice?”

As if on a cue, the voice calls Jim’s name again, loud and haunting, surprising all three. Jim and Toby yelp, falling onto their bottoms. Lacey yelps and bolts behind Jim, whining loudly and nudging his shoulder with her nose.

“That!” Jim quickly crawls back to the pile. “That-that pile of rocks knows my name!”

“It’s a pile of K-spar! Minerals don’t talk!” Toby points out, quickly crawling over as well. “There’s gotta be a walkie talkie or something in here!”

Jim picks up some of the rocks, looking at them curiously. Suddenly, he notices a bright blue glow under one rock. He carefully removes the rock. A bright, glowing, odd looking device that is weirdly reminiscent of a large pocket watch seems to call for him.

“Huh… it looks like an amulet.” Jim remarks softly as holds up the device, turning it this way and that as Toby starts shouting, demanding whoever might be playing this joke on them to come out.

Lacey whines and leans over Jim’s shoulder to sniff the amulet, before whining and cowering behind him.

“Hello? I’m listening.” He holds the device up to his ear, Toby quickly moving closer to hear as well.

Not far off, the school bell goes off, startling both boys.

“Ah! Final bell!” Jim shouts as they race back to their bikes, Lacey scrambling to follow after them.

“We’re so late, our kids are gonna have detention!” Toby yells as they run.

“Come on Tobes, we can still make it!” Jim jumps on his bike and starts pedaling, Toby following as quick as he could. Lacey barks as she runs ahead, stopping atop the canal wall to watch them, nearly squeals in panic at the sight of glowing eyes in the sewer grates behind where they’d been.

“Lacey?” Jim looks back, the eyes vanished now, then shakes his head. “Come on, we gotta go!” He urges and the pup quickly follows him towards the school, looking behind them the whole time.

Chapter Text

Lunch was supposed to be eaten in the cafeteria, but Jim always managed to sneak out to the locker area to sit and eat with Lacey. Toby didn’t try to follow anymore after the last time Coach Lawrence caught them and made them run laps for an hour (or, it felt like it.)

 

She sits on the ground in front of him, her head on his knee and staring at the food sitting across his lap on the flattened paper bag. His attention, however, is on the amulet he’s currently turning this way and that, trying to figure out how to open the thing.

 

“Come on… how did you talk before?” He mutters, breaking off a chunk of meatloaf to feed the pleading dog. She happily accepts and eats, watching him closely.

 

She didn’t like it, he could tell that much. Lacey always seemed to know when something was going to be too dangerous for him, but he was just so curious about this thing that knew his name. Lacey whines softly and licks the back of his hand, staring at him with those blue eyes that could say more than any spoken word.

 

“I know Lace, it is pretty weird.” He puts a hand on her head and rubs her ears between his fingers, setting the amulet down on his lap and then eating a piece of meatloaf. “But.. it knows who I am, or… my name at least.” He sighs, chewing slowly and staring at the glowing stone behind the clock like face.

 

His fingers trace over the edges, the strange language carved into the rim was… oddly pretty. He doesn’t know what it says, sure, but it must say something, he just has to figure out what it was.

 

“Man, it’s times like these I wish you could talk.” Jim muses with a chuckle. Lacey wags her tail slowly, a soft “boof” as she pushes her nose to the bag. “Yeah, okay, I’ll stop worrying about it.” Jim scoffs softly. “We’ll worry about it when we get home.”

 

---___---

 

She sits outside the school building, students walking out the front gates and occasionally stopping to give her a quick pat. Lacey was such a common sight to the students that she had gotten used to the constant attention the kids gave.

 

As soon as she spots Jim and Toby walking their bikes towards the entrance, she stands up and trots towards them, tail in the air and wagging. They were talking, but Jim’s attention turns towards one of the lockers, instantly turning Lacey’s attention towards the commotion.

 

Steve Palchuk and his lackeys stand around a single locker, clearly tormenting whatever poor soul had gotten unlucky enough to get on the soccer star’s bad side today.

 

Jim was already walking over as Toby tries to call him off. Lacey was quick to hurry over, right behind her boy’s legs.

 

“Tell me about the creatures and maybe I’ll let you out!” Steve elbowed the locker door, then slammed his hand to the lockers on either side.

 

“Or you can just let him out right now. I mean, you know,” Jim flinches as the bully and his friends turn to him. “It would be nice.”

 

“Nice would be you minding your own business!” Steve snaps, pointing at Jim threateningly. Lacey barks, bounding in front of Jim with a snarl. Steve yelps and jumps back, bringing his left leg away from the angry mutt.

 

“I thought dogs weren’t allowed in the school!” Steve shouts, glaring at Jim but glancing down at the defensive dog in fear.

 

“School’s out, Steve. Besides, this is the courtyard, she’s allowed in here.” Jim smiles, a bit relieved to have the dog between him and the much taller and stronger boy.

 

Steve scoffs and turns back to the locker. “So, where were we? Oh, yeah, okay.” He slams the side of his arm to the locker. “You were telling me about the monsters you saw this morning with fangs and…” He clearly doesn’t care about whatever poor Eli had seen, looking back at Jim with a mocking expression. Jim raises an eyebrow in confusion, Lacey retreating to stand behind Jim, still watching Steve with her hackles raised.

 

“What was it again?” Steve slams the locker again.

 

“Stone for skin! In the canal!” Eli shouts in panic.

 

“Stone for skin?” Steve looks back at Jim with a disbelieving smile.”Man Eli, you’ve got some imagination. He laughs at the trapped boy.

 

Jim leans his bike beside the nearest pillar and takes a deep breath. “Look, Steve, seriously, just let him.”

 

Steve turns with a sour expression and marches up to Jim with an expression unlike that of a predator. He grabs the front of Jim’s backpack strap and yanks him closer, almost off his feet.

 

“Or you’ll do what?” He threatens, pulling back his arm to aim at the skinnier boy’s face. Lacey barks loudly, bouncing around behind Jim nervously.

 

“Okay, do it, punch me !” Jim demands, surprising Steve, who falters for a moment.

 

“You… you’re asking for a beating?” He asks incredulously, lowering his fist slightly.

 

“Yeah. Just go crazy!” Jim straightens slightly instead of hanging from the other’s grip. “In 20 years, you’re gonna be fat and bald and you’ll be working in a muffler shop,” A crowd starts to gather and Lacey whines loudly, retreating back to Toby and paws at his leg. “And Eli will have a career in software and he’ll be a billionaire!” Jim stares at Steve challengingly as Eli pipes in with a “I do like computers!”

 

Eli slams his arm to the locker again, keeping eye contact with Jim.

 

“Let him out!” Toby shouts, then starts chanting, looking around at the other students, who join in, Lacey barking loudly on beat with the chant. Steve looks at the crowd, then glares at Jim again, nearly nose-to-nose with him.

 

Suddenly, and thankfully, the door at the end of the courtyard slams open and Coach Lawrence burst through. “Palchuk! What’s goin’ on here?!” The gym teacher shouts.

 

Steve drops Jim and reaches one arm behind his head. “Uh, nothing sir.”

 

“Why aren’t you at practice?”

 

“I was helping Eli here.” He says, opening the locker to reveal the poor boy awkwardly shoved into the locker with his books.

 

“Hey guys!” The short boy calls with a wave.

 

“He was stuck.” Steve explains.

 

“On the double! Now!” Steve slams the locker shut again, turning to Jim with a menacing frown. He leans uncomfortably close to the other boy’s ear.

 

“Friday, at noon. You and me.” He starts backing towards the door the coach had left from, wagging a finger slowly. “Tick tock. Tick tock.”

 

Lacey bolts over, turning to glare at the retreating boy as Jim lets Eli out, who promptly falls out of the locker with a yelp. Lacey spares the small boy a glance then helps nudge him to his feet as Jim pulls him up, both boy and dog looking at where Steve had vanished to.

 

---___---

 

Lacey trots along beside Jim’s bike as the boys pedal homeward, Toby all but glowing at their minor victory.

 

A car honks and Jim pulls to a stop as the window rolls down to reveal Jim’s mother, smiling chipperly.

 

“Hey boys!”

 

“Hey mom.” Jim smiles as he leans down to lightly pull Lacey’s collar to keep her from jumping into the car. She barks and pants, back end swinging back and forth quickly.

 

“Lookin’ sharp Doctor Lake.” Toby says as his bike keep rolling, then trying to walk his bike backwards to stand beside his friend.

 

“Thanks Toby. So are you.” The boy’s face light up as he looks down at himself.

 

“Does it show?”

 

Lacey jumps up so her paws rest on the open window of the car and barks softly, leaning in for the doctor to rub her head.

 

“You gonna be out all night?” Jim asks, giving Lacey’s collar a light tug. Barbara sighs and rolls her eyes.

 

“Dr. Gillberg is out with bursitis, and Dr. Lenz has a wedding out of town this weekend.” She smiles and shrugs as Jim starts to remind her to bring dinner.

 

Lacey hops down and looks back towards the house. A butterfly flutters about on the front lawn that she hops off to check out. She paws at the little dandelions it lands on, yipping as she wags her tail. The sound of a car driving off turns her attention back towards Jim as he and Toby split, going to their respective homes.

 

“C’mon Lacey.” Jim says as he open the garage. Lacey pants and starts towards him, only to stop as the butterfly she’d been chasing before lands on her nose. She barks loudly and attempts to catch the bug as it flutters away, running around the lawn for a moment before Jim whistles. The pup barks and runs into the garage, Jim closing it behind her.

 

---___---

 

Lacey pushes her way past Jim and into the house, trotting off to her bowl to eat as he turns on the tv.

 

After getting her fill, she trots back in to check on her boy who…. Seems to be talking to the amulet again. The fur on her hind end stands on end as she pads over and climbs on the couch, listening to him threaten the thing with selling it on E-Bay.

 

To her dismay, something clatters downstairs and startles Jim. He gets up and heads for the basement door, Lacey hot on his tail with her ears back.

 

The clatter sounds again as they stand at the top of the stairs. “Raccoons!” He gasps and grabs the broom next to the door. Lacey whines and bounces from one foot to the other. She hated the basement, but slowly followed him downstairs anyways.

 

He turns on the light, looking around for the source of the weird noises. Lacey starts sniffing around, whipping back around at Jim as he startles himself by a mirror. He sighs and wanders to a different part of the room when the lights shut off unexpectedly.

 

Lacey yelps and bolts back over to him, curling around his legs as he inspects some odd rocks he knew for sure didn’t come from down here.

 

She whines, sniffing at his hand when from behind them, a voice.

 

“Master Jim!” Exclaims the large, blue, multi-eyed and multi-armed being, smiling.

 

Jim yells in surprise and falls over, Lacey yowling and putting herself between the two as Jim scrambles back, only to hit his head on a pipe upright in the room. She growls loudly, tail between her legs as the being looks between them in surprise.

 

“Master Jim!” They speak again and Jim yells again, yet again smacking his head to the pipe.”We have found you!” They move closer and Jim scrambles for more distance, Lacey moving closer to Jim and whining loudly.

 

“I am known as Blinky.” The blue one introduces himself with an oddly dignified gesture.

 

Jim yells again as another, even bigger than the first, smiles toothily and says “hi” with a deep, gravelly voice. The boy bolts away, yelling, and runs right back into the blue one.

 

“It’s Aaarrrgghh. Three R’s.”

 

Jim continues yelling in surprise and fear, moving back and forth between the two strangers before dropping to the ground, covering his head with both hands. Lacey barks and puts herself between the two and her boy, fur standing on end as she tries to stand over him.

 

The two move closer and looks down at Jim.

 

“He says “AHH!” a lot.” The bigger one, “Aaarrrgghh” apparently, remarks.

 

“It’s more of a yelp, I believe.” The blue one, “Blinky”, says thoughtfully. “A greeting, perhaps.” Their attention turns back to Jim as the blue one makes some attempt to mimic Jim’s panic. All that does is scare him right off, Lacey yelping and rushing to follow before the big one picks Jim up by the legs.

 

She barks over Blinky’s words, hopping back and forth as she tries to bite the big one, attempting to make him let her terrified and cowering boy down.

 

“Blinky, he looks scared.”

 

“Uh. Aaarrrgghh, my good fellow. Would you mind? This is a- could we please quiet this beast?” He looks down at Lacey with furrowed brows of annoyance as she attempts to gnaw on Aaarrrgghh’s side, still growling as loud as possible.

 

“P-p-put me down. Please?” Jim moves his hands to look at the big one pleadingly and Blinky motions for him to do so.

 

As soon as his feet are on the floor, Lacey rushes to him and hops up so her front paws rest on his shoulders, licking the boy’s face and whining as he yelps at the big one patting his head.

 

“L-lacey, it’s- I’m okay! I’m okay!” He can’t help but laugh slightly at how worriedly she acts while licking him, but the two bigger beings attempt to recall what they had been saying.

 

“Where was I?” Blinky huffs and Aaarrrgghh thinks aloud.

 

“Uh, Master Jim… found you…”

 

“Ah yes! Thank you!” Blinky looks pleased with both himself and his companion.

 

“Master Jim, you have been chosen.” Blinky says, holding one hand up as Jim tries to escape, but winds up bouncing between Aaarrrgghh’s hands. “The Amulet of Daylight challenges you to ascend to the most sacred of offices.”

 

“Orifices? What orifices?” Aaarrrgghh asks, tilting his head with a genuinely confused expression.

 

Blinky sighs, his expression turning to one more tired. “Offices.” He corrects. “It means responsibility.” He turns back to Jim, smiling and ready to continue his speech as Lacey almost wraps her body around Jim’s legs protectively.

 

“Unbeknownst to your kind, there is a secret world, a vast civilization of trolls lurking beneath your very feet, hidden from view.”

“Tro Tr-Trolls?” Jim stutters.

“Trolls. Yes, trolls.” Blinky clasps his hands and nods. “And it is now your charge to protect them. For you, Master Jim, are the Trollhunter.”

 

Jim yelps in surprise at both gesture at him, Lacey whining loudly.

 

“Trollhunter.” Aaarrrgghh agrees.

 

“This honor is yours to accept. So, what say you?” Blinky grins. Jim groans and collapses, Lacey yelping in surprise as she jumps out of the way. He falls to the ground and Lacey makes a desperate attempt to wake him by licking his face. The two trolls look down at the unconscious boy then back at each other.

 

“Is that a yes?”

Chapter Text

Jim wakes with a yelp, sitting up so fast that it startles Lacey. He blinks rapidly and looks around. He was on the basement floor, a blanket had been haphazardly pulled over him and Lacey was curled up beside him, now watching his face and panting softly. He pulls out his phone and quickly gets to his feet, the blanket falling on top of Lacey.

 

The dog huffs as he calls Toby, panicking and trying to explain what happened the night before. She was rightfully proud of herself for chasing off the two intruders after he’d passed out, and making sure he didn’t wind up with a cold, but he was clearly more concerned with the fact that the strangers had been here in the first place.

 

She whines and makes her up the stairs, stopping at the top to watch him pace and panic some more. The situation is clearly getting to him. Suddenly he gasps and smacks his hands together. An idea, she was sure, as he rushed up past her.

 

“Mister Strickler! If there’s anybody I can ask for advice, it’s him.” He says aloud, beelining for the kitchen to whip up the lunches for the day, idly checking his phone for the time.

 

“Shoot, gonna have to be quick.” He mutters unhappily. Lacey wanders to her food dish and sits down to eat as he grabs the amulet from the day before to toss in his bag.

 

The meals are quickly made and a breakfast quickly put together to be left for Barbara before Jim rushes for the garage, Lacey hot on his heels as they bolt for school.

 

---___---

 

She spends the day sitting outside the school’s entrance, chasing butterflies and the odd bug until the bell rings for lunch. She trots into the locker area as Jim slips out of the cafeteria with his lunch bag.

 

“Hey girl.” He says softly, sitting on the bench closest to the entrance. “I can’t stay long, okay? I told the teacher I was going to the bathroom so I gotta hurry.” He fishes out the little container of dog food he kept stowed in his bag and sets it down.

 

Lacey set upon the food as Jim held the amulet back out to examine for the fiftieth time that day. He was planning to talk to Mister Strickler, but part of him wanted to hide this thing. The night before had scared him half-to-death, sure, and he definitely wanted advice for that, but this… he could keep to himself for just a little longer… right?

 

“You think I should tell him?” Jim looks down at Lacey as she licks the plastic container clean. “I mean, it’d be nice to be able to talk about this with him, but.. What if he thinks I’m crazy?”

 

Lacey tilts her head, ears flopping as she lets her tongue loll out. Jim sighs and scratches her head, rubbing one soft ear between his fingers. She yips softly and hops up to let her paws rest on his shoulders so she can lick his face, the boy giggling childishly as he “tries” to make her stop.

 

“Lacey no!” He laughs, cupping her face in his hands and squishing her muzzle between his hands. “Goofy pup.” He mumbles and smiles. “Alright, I’ll keep this part quiet but I’m still gonna talk to him.”

 

She pants and licks his face again, another laugh quickly cut short as the sound of a door opening nearby.

 

“Mister Lake?” Jim yelps and gets to his feet, turning to face the teacher he’d just been worrying about.

 

“Uh- hi Mister Strickler!” Jim smiles as innocently as he can while trying to push Lacey behind him with one foot.

 

“I do believe you are supposed to be in the lunchroom…” The teacher leans slightly to look at the almost smiling dog leaning from behind the boy to look at him with a slight chuckle. “And your dog is supposed to be outside the school building.”

 

“Uh, I- she…” Jim sighs and chuckles guiltily. “Yeah.. I just had to check up on her, is all!”

 

“Well, I suppose you ought to be heading back before Coach Lawrence comes out to find you again.” Jim yelps and straightens in panic, before quickly collecting his things.

 

Lacey looks at the teacher with a soft bark before picking up the plastic container with her teeth and handing it to Jim as he tosses his bag back over his shoulders.

 

“Uh, th-thanks Mister Strickler.” Jim stutters as he hurries back towards the lunchroom. “And uh, c-could you-”

 

“I didn’t see a dog today.” He smiles, crossing his arms behind his back. “And I certainly didn’t see you out without a hall pass.”

 

Jim grins, relieved and nods. “Thanks Mister Strickler.” He says and hurries off.

 

Lacey looks at the teacher curiously as he turns to look at her.

 

“I do believe you’d better be off.” He mutters, mostly to himself, and gingerly shoos her towards the door. “Out you go.”

 

She boofs at him softly before turning and trotting back to where she’d been waiting earlier, chasing after another brightly colored bug or two till school lets out a few hours later.

 

---___---

 

To Jim surprise, the day went on with little problem and he got home soon enough to bid his mother a proper goodbye before she left for work.

 

Getting a head start on tomorrow’s lunches, he chops tomatoes and puts together some BLT’s, tossing Lacey a scrap or two of bacon as she paws at his leg.

 

Once the sandwiches are wrapped, bagged and in the cooler, he takes his backpack out to the backyard and sits on the back steps. Lacey plops down beside him, leaning her body against his side as he pulls the amulet out to examine once again. She leans over his shoulder to sniff it, then whine unhappily.

 

“It’s… glowing again.” He mumbles, standing up as the outer rim spins, the language on the outside changing each time it stopped until it settled on english and Jim squinted.

 

“For the glory of Merlin,” He reads it carefully, turning the device to read the words. “Daylight is mine to command.”

 

The wind suddenly picks up and Lacey barks, cowering near the door with her ears down as the fence shakes, Jim looking at the amulet closely. A blue light appears from the back of the amulet and moves to his chest, vanishing in through his shirt, Jim smiling in some surprise. Mre lights appears, quickly following the first and vanishing a moment later, a few flying away from Jim and behind him, startling Lacey as they vanish into her fur.

 

The light comes out of his body in a burst, whispy and lifting him off the ground. Metal materializes around him, entirely too big when they slam together to be on him, then glow and shrink to fit him surprisingly perfectly well.

 

Lacey whines and kicks her legs as the same happens to her as Jim shouts, surprised but excited as he looks over the blue and silver armor that cover him head to toe.

 

The armor slams together around the dog, the same silver and blue covering her legs and body. She lands on the ground and immediately starts sniffing herself in a panic as Jim poses. Another few lights fly from where the amulet sits on his chest now to his hand, where a giant sword materializes, entirely too big and heavy before it shrinks down to a size to match him, a glowing blue smoke wrapped around the blade as he struggles to hold it up.

 

Lacey watches for a moment as he starts to swing the blade around, grinning and clearly showing off… before it gets stuck in one of the big rocks that decorate the yard. He turns and awkwardly attempts to pull the blade from where it’s now stuck a few times before he winds up getting it stuck in another rock.

 

He finally pulls it out and grins, holding the blade up to watch the fading light bounce off the sparkling blade. Lacey barks and bolts around the yard, howling and Jim laughs.

 

“Oh man this is so cool !” He puts the blade on his back with a grin and flexes his arms. “We look so cool!”

 

Lacey barks as if too agree as she continues running around the yard, Jim realizes he hears someone… talking… very fast and very loud.

 

“Cool cool cool cool! We look cool, cool cool!” He looks around in confusion, no one out in any of the other yards nearby. Who was talking?

 

Lacey bolts up and barks happily as she hops up to put her paws on his shoulders. Jim yelps and grabs her front legs so she didn’t wind up pulling him down.

 

“This is so cool!” He says again, rubbing the top of her head with one hand.

 

She barks again and  he realizes where the voice was coming from.

 

“So cool!” She agrees and Jim yells in surprise as he scrambles back, Lacey dropping back to the ground and staring at him wide eyed. She looks behind her and then back as Jim stares wide eyed at her.

 

“Something wrong?” She looks at him with drooped ears. Her mouth still moved like she was whining at him, but he clearly could hear her speaking over the barking he was used to. “Is it those people again?!” She hops to her feet and looks around with a growl. “It’s those weird people from yesterday isn’t it!?” She barks at the woods behind the house. “You better stay away! I’m gonna bite ya again!”

 

“Y-you, you’re-!” Lacey turns back to face him with a tilted head.

 

“Me?” She whines exasperatedly and shakes her head. “Man, you humans are so weird.”

 

“You’re talking!” He shouts, pointing at her with an accusatory finger. “Y-you’re talking! Like, a-actually talking!” Her ears perk up and eyes widen.

 

“Wait… you… you can hear me?!” She barks as her ears stand up. “You can understand me?!

 

“You’re like, actually talking!”

 

Lacey walks up to Jim with a nearly wolfish grin that he used to think was cute but now just made this all the more confusing.

 

“You can hear me! You can understand me!” She yips happily and runs in a circle before him and bounces on her front feet.

 

“H-how!” Jim stutters, swinging his hands back and forth in front of himself. “Th-this doesn’t make sense! You’re a- a dog!

 

“And you’re a human and you can understand me!” Lacey bounces over and licks his face excitedly. Jim yelps and leans his face the way he always does so she licks his cheek instead, though his laugh was more out of hysteria at this point.

 

“I-I can’t believe it!” He holds her head between his hands as she pants excitedly. “You’re talking! Like, actual words!”

 

“Well yeah!” She yips and sits, tail wagging as hard as he’d ever seen it wag. “You just couldn’t understand me before but now you can and we look really cool!”

 

He laughs breathlessly in surprise as he realizes something ridiculous: sure she was talking and yeah, he’d always off-handedly remarked how he wished she could talk before, but he honestly hadn’t expected her to sound like, well, an over-excited elementary kid!

 

“How in the heck, I never could before.” Lacey whines and tilts her head at him.

 

“I dunno, maybe it's this.” She paws his chest where the amulet rests. “It did this to us so maybe it made it so you can hear me now!”

 

He laughs again and hugs her to bury his face into her fur. He’s not sure if he’s hysterical or what now, but he knows this is way to freaking much to take in at once. She whines and nuzzles his head and with a flash, the armor has vanished from both of them.

 

“You okay?” She whines softly. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 

“No no, I just… this is like… a lot happening at once.” He leans back and rubs his face with his palms. “I just… I need a sec.”

 

Lacey whimpers and walks around behind him to lay curled by his back, resting her chin on his leg. He take a few deep breaths then looks down at her with a sigh.

 

“You know… I think this is the part where we call it a night.” Lacey boofs softly, her tail wagging slowly. He smiles gently and rubs her head. “Let’s go watch a movie or something.”

Chapter Text

The next morning, Jim and Lacey are running out to the dentist’s office, the boy desperate to talk to someone about the whole madness of the last few days.

 

He pulls his bike up to the small office building and heads inside, Lacey plopping herself on the bench outside to watch the birds flying over head. She can hear the people inside talking through the walls. Her boy is clearly freaking out in there, trying to talk to his best friend over the whirring of instruments that make the dog’s ears hurt.

 

She whines loudly and covers her ears as the whirring gets louder and Toby screams.

 

---___---

 

“Eight hours!” Jim fusses, pacing the kitchen floor. Toby moves his jaw about, running his tongue over his teeth. “I can’t believe it takes eight hours!”

 

Lacey sits by the back door, watching the two boys talk until Jim pulls the amulet from his bag. Her ears perk up and she trots over.

 

“Are we gonna show him the cool thing?!” She asks excitedly and Jim grins down at her.

 

“Yeah, hang-” He stops and looks over at Toby as if just realizing something. “Hey, uh, Tobes?”

 

“Hm?” Toby raises an eyebrow skeptically, looking between the two.

 

“Did you hear that?”

 

“Hear what?”

 

Jim frowns and glances back down at Lacey who whines and paws at his jeans. “So you don’t…”

 

“I told you! It’s that thingy! It lets you hear me!” She yips and circles his legs before standing beside him excitedly. “C’mon, show him the cool thing!”

 

“She’s acting kinda weird today Jimbo, is this what you’re worried about?” Toby holds a box of frozen pizza to his face.

 

“Wha- no, no Lacey… Lacey’s fine.” Jim sighs and ruffles the fur atop her head. “It’s this amulet Tobes. Just watch for a sec.” He takes a deep breath and stares at the amulet. “For the glory of Merlin, Daylight is mine-”

 

The microwave dings and Toby pulls a piece of pizza out to eat. He stops midway to his mouth and clears his throat. “Go on.” He encourages.

 

Jim sighs and rubs the back of his head with a sigh. “It worked yesterday.”

 

Lacey sighs and sits by the door as Toby struggles to shut the microwave. “Are you punking me right now?”

 

“Okay. Wait, wait, wait, wait.” Jim closes his eyes as Toby turn to lean against the counter. He takes a deep breath and the amulet begins to shake in his grasp.

 

The little wisps of light appear from the amulet and fly to Jim’s chest and he begins to float as Toby gasps. The armor materializes and slams together around Jim yet again. He lands with a surprised gasp, taking a step back and grinning.

 

“How cool is that?! ” Jim exclaims, gesturing down at the armor and looking to Toby. The other boy gapes, a breathless “what?” he draws out as Jim steps closer.

 

“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Toby says quickly, inspecting his friend’s new coverings. “So cool! So cool! So cool!”

 

“That’s what I said!” Lacey yips, bounding over.

 

“Yeah! A-and Tobes!” Jim gestures to Lacey with a grin. “She can do it to! A-and I can talk to her!”

 

As if to prove it, lights fly from the amulet on Jim’s chest to the pup who levitates slightly as armor appears for her. She drops back to the ground and bounds around the two, excitedly barking.

 

“We’re so cool!” Lacey stops beside Jim and nudges his hand with her head. “Right?”

 

“You can talk to your dog ?!” Toby gapes and looks down at Lacey. “Like, actually actually talk to her?!”

 

“Like words!” Jim grins as Toby drops to his knees to look at the excited dog’s armor. “And I think it’s cause of this amulet!”

 

“This is awesome dude!” Toby gets back up, putting a hand on the amulet to inspect it slightly closer. “You know what this means, right?” He puts a hand to his mouth thoughtfully. “You have a sacred responsibility here!” He walks away, Jim grinning toothily.

 

“That’s what they said!”

 

Toby excitedly spins around, laughing under his breath as he exclaims some more, only stopping to take a bite of pizza. “You have to use these new powers for the benefit of all mankind!” He takes another, aggressive, bite of pizza. “You have to use this to kick Steve’s butt!

 

Jim narrows his eyes, frowning slightly. “Really? I show you a glowing sword-” He turns, pointing over his shoulders at the blade. “And a suit of armor-” He gestures down at himself, Lacey barking in agreement “-that can only be magic ! And that’s how you respond?!”

 

Toby grins. “Seriously! It’s butt kickin’ time!” He makes some chopping motions and mimics a move that he must’ve seen a movie, then looks down with a realization, a hand on his own hip. “These pants are so elastic. Wait, also-” He stands face to face with Jim. “Who’s they?”

 

“Well that’s the part that I’ve been freaking out over!” A loud knocking interrupts the boys, Lacey barking loudly and putting herself between the two and the door. In the back door’s window, appears the four eyed blue troll from the night before, waving excitedly and smiling.

 

Toby gasps and points at the door. “Wh-what the heck is that?!” Lacey growls and lowers her front to the ground. “D-don’t open the door!” Just as the troll bursts in with a laugh.

 

“Master Jim!” He gestures at Jim grandly. Toby yelps and ducks behind Jim for a moment.

 

“I-I’m calling 911!” He stutters only to scream in terror and grab Jim’s shoulder as the other troll from before tries to get in the door. “No, animal control!” Toby yells and ducks behind the kitchen counters.

 

Lacey barks at the blue troll, snapping her teeth as she bounces at him and then away with a loud growling. He frowns and shakes his leg at her as if that would shoo her off before turning back to Jim.

 

“I knew it was but a matter of time before the amulet called to us!”

 

“Called to you?” Jim asks, surprised.

 

“Actually, no.” The blue troll leans closer to Jim and puts hand close to his mouth like it would make this more secret. “We’ve been spying on you.”

 

“Spy on you .” The bigger troll, still stuck in the door, emphasizes by making an ‘eyes on you’ gesture and chuckles, then attempting to get in through the door.

 

“Weellll, keeping a close watch.” Blinky corrects himself as Lacey plants herself firmly between him and her boy, growling softly. All three jump slightly as AAARRRGGHH finally makes it through the door with a loud thud.

 

“Door small.” He says with soft huff and an apologetic look at Jim.

 

Toby’s voice is easily understandable as he panics, begging the animal control woman that answered his call to send help. AAARRRGGHH leans over the counter to look down at him. Lacey whines and moves closer to Jim, sticking her head under his hand.

 

“You told your stout little friend about us?” Blinky clasps one set of hands and gestures to Toby with the other, frowning nervously.

 

“Um… is that a problem?”

 

“Well it’s our problem so he can fuck right off!” Lacey barks, snapping her teeth at Blinky with bared teeth, the troll yelping and trying to shake her off.

 

Jim balks for a moment and looks at Lacey with concerned surprise. “Where the heck did you hear that from?!”

 

“You mom!” Lacey turns to Jim with a lolled tongue and happy eyes. “She says stuff like that all the time!”

 

“Well you can’t just say stuff like that!” Jim kneels down to hold her face between his hands. “Especially not in front of people!”

 

“They can’t heaaarrr mee !” She whines, putting a paw on his shoulder. “You couldn’t either till yesterday so why’s it matter?!”

 

Jim sighs and shakes his head. “You can’t say stuff like that anymore. Period . Okay?” She whines loudly and leans her head into his hand, a muttered ‘fine’ the only answer she gives.

 

“Uh, Jimbo?” Jim and Lacey both look up. Both Trolls and Toby looks at Jim with frowns and drawn down brows.

 

“She’s cussing!” Jim explains, his voice’s pitch raising as he remembers no one else can hear her.

 

“Master Jim.” Blinky clears his throat and continues on with his speech. “We Trolls have gone to great lengths to keep our existence a secret from your kind, lest there be panic.”

 

They glance over as AAARRRGGHH picks up Toby and deposits him on the counter, the boy getting to his feet and panicking, holding up a ladle like a sword.

 

“Like that.” Blinky sighs as Jim moves over to calm his friend.

 

Lacey pads over to AAARRRGGHH and gingerly sniffs his arm as Jim convinces Toby to calm down. The big troll looks down at her then leans down to sniff her as well. Lacey yelps and ducks, whining. AAARRRGGHH sits down carefully and lifts one to gently pat the pup’s head. She tenses nervously at first, then blinks once, twice, and looks up the troll with an excited lolling of her tongue. She yips happily and hops up to place her paws on his chest and sniffs his face excitedly.

 

“Wait,” Jim speaks up and catches Lacey’s attention. She pads over as Jim asks Blinky who, exactly, he was protecting.

 

“Us.” AAARRRGGHH says.

 

“And mankind!” Bliny pipes in. “From bad trolls. As well as goblins, gruesomes and the occasional rouge gnome.” Toby prods the blue troll with the ladle as Lacey whines and turns to Jim, her tail curling behind his legs. She shoves her head into his hand and paws at him as Toby nervously drops the ladle after Blinky’s shout about said prodding.

 

“The mantle of Troll hunter,” Blinky continues, leaning closer to Jim as he speaks. “Is a sacred responsibility, one that has never been passed to a human before. This is a momentous occasion!”

 

Jim’s eyes are wide as he leans away from the troll. A car honks and genuine dread becomes apparent as Jim, Lacey and Toby all turn towards the door.

 

“It’s my mom!” Jim shouts. “Uh, upstairs, quick!” The two trolls and two humans rush upstairs, Lacey whining as she quickly sits herself at the bottom of the stairs. She looks up after them as they bolt, AAARRRGGHH coming back down to fix the banister and running back up just as Doctor Lake enters through the front door.

 

Lacey barks and trots up to the doctor as she tosses her keys on the end table by the door. She opens her mouth to greet the dog when a loud thud upstairs makes her look up in confusion.

 

“Jim? She calls. “It’s me.”

 

Lacey wags her tail as earnestly as possible as the doctor starts up the stairs. “I forgot my phone. Are you okay in there?”

 

Lacey genuinely began to wish she could ‘facepalm’ as Jim makes up some excuse about his stomach acting up, weird noises like water splashing echoing as Jim says something about food poisoning.

 

The dog decides her boy, as much as she loves him, really doesn’t need her help in making a fool of himself in front of his mother. She turns and trots down the stairs and Barbara makes her way to get medicine from one of the kitchen cabinets.

 

Lacey plops down on the dog bed by the back door, watching as Doctor Lake makes her way back upstairs. She can hear her two people argue for a moment about the situation and whines loudly.

 

“Jim you’re a fuckin idjit.” She huffs to herself, smiling smugly over the fact that he couldn’t scold her for her language if he couldn’t hear her say it. She puts her paws over her face as she hears a Jim and his mother move around upstairs, a “Found it!” called just before the two come downstairs.

 

“Alright sweetie, I’ll be home late.” Barbara says as she and Jim stand by the front door. “Are you sure you don’t need me to get you anything? I can tell them something came up.”

 

“I’m fine mom.” Jim smiles and give his mother a hug. “No worries. I’ll see when you get home.” Barbara sighs but him back, placing a kiss atop his head before they part and she heads out, waving behind her.

 

Jim waits and watches until she’s left the driveway to wave the other three to come downstairs. Lacey huffs and growls as the bigger troll starts knocking things around.

 

“Your cave. Too small!” He says, rubbing his head. Lacey huffs and watches her boy clean up the mess these trolls are making. She’s not sure how she feel about all this mess, watching the four armed one ask her boy if he was ready to take up this job of protector.

 

Jim wasn’t supposed to protect people, she was supposed to protect Jim! She wanted to take that stupid amulet and hide it away where it couldn’t make Jim do any sort of “TrollHunting”. Maybe the amule would let her be the one to do this instead! Even as he tried to explain to Blinky how he couldn't do this, she felt the fur on her back stand on end.

 

Every last nerve in her body didn’t like this, didn’t want her boy to get involved with this mess. Her tail curled and uncurled against her leg, raising one ear to keep tabs on what they were saying.

 

“You mean this Bular could hurt people?” Oh, her boy was so good, worrying for others’ safety. It made the pup wag her tail in pride.

 

“Like you.” AAARRRGGHH says, pointing at Jim and Lacey sits up, looking from the big troll to her boy. Blinky says something she doesn’t pay attention to, more focused on getting up from her bed and trotting over to Jim.

 

Blinky explains, to her horror, how this “Bular” would come for Jim as long as he had the amulet. Lacey whines and looks at the amulet with narrowed eyes.

 

Well now she couldn’t let her boy keep this, it was far too dangerous!

 

“Maybe what Jim needs is a little time to process all of this.” Toby butts in, walking over and putting his arm around Jim’s back. “You know, you laid a lot of heavy stuff on him tonight.”

 

Blinky thinks for a moment, then sighs. “Fine, fine. We shall return tomorrow then, to begin your training.”

 

“Awesome sauce.” Toby smiles, though Jim’s expression is much more somber and she hates how worried he looks.

 

---___---

 

She sits at the top of the stairs, listening to the trolls leave, Blinky giving Jim another speech before they disappear into the night. The boys talk for a few minutes, too quietly for her to understand, before Toby heads home. She watches as Jim locks the door behind his friend, turn off the lights, then make his way slowly upstairs.

 

She whines and reaches one paw out towards him. He runs a hand idly over her head as he passes her, walking right towards his bedroom. She whimpers and follows, head low as he climbs into bed and lets the covers settle over his body.

 

She climbs up and crawls her way up to snuggle beside him, resting her chin on his hand.

 

“This is nuts.” He mutters, staring at her with sad eyes, running his hand through the fur on her head. “This is crazy. I can’t… I can’t believe I’m actually gonna go through with this.”

 

“I wish you didn’t have to.” She whined softly, licking his cheek. “But, me and Toby’ll be with you so at least you’re not by yourself.”

 

His expression brightens slightly as a small smile crosses his lips. “Right. You and Toby. We can do this. Right?”

 

“Right.” She nuzzles up closer and he hugs her body closer to bury his face into her fur. “I’m not gonna let anything happen to you. I promise.”

Chapter Text

Lacey woke up well before Jim’s alarm went off.

 

She lays quietly for a moment to look at her boy’s face, calm from sleep but so clearly plagued by fear. She hates it. All she wanted was for him to be happy and this stupid amulet had brought him only fear.

 

Careful not to wake Jim up, the pup slips free from his arms and off the bed. She slinks out of the room, making sure to close it behind her before padding down the stairs.

 

She nudges his bag off the banister, skittering back as it falls. She quickly shoves her nose into the front pocket, sniffing around until her teeth clamp down on the metal of that cursed amulet.

 

Pulling her head from the bag, Lacey trots her way to the back door, nudging open her doggy door and walks outside. She sets it down and starts pawing at the ground.

 

She only gotten past the grass when she heard Jim call for her. With a whine at the back of her throat, she digs even harder, dirt flying out behind her.

 

“Don’t come outside, don’t come outside, don’t come outsiiiide!” She whined, grabbing the amulet and dropping it into the hole.

 

“Lacey, where- why’s the back door open?”

 

She scrambles to bury the amulet, shoving dirt behind her as quickly as she can.

 

“Lacey, what’re- LACEY!” She whines and presses her body to the ground, ears back as Jim drops to his knees, quickly uncovering the amulet. “What’re you doing!? I need that, remember?!”

 

“I- it’s…” She whimpers and paws at the ground. “I don’t want it to hurt you anymore!”

 

“Wha-...” Jim sighs and sits on the ground. “Lacey-”

 

“All it’s done is make you all worked up and now some big bad Troll is going to come after you!” She presses her nose to the ground. “I.. I don’t like seeing you so upset and it’s scary!”

 

Jim’s shoulders sag as he runs his hand over her head. “Lacey, it’s… it’s fine, okay?” He sighs, rubbing her ear between his fingers. “Look, let’s just worry about that later. I gotta get ready for school.”

 

---___---

 

“What do you mean ‘you tried out for the school play’?! You’ve never try out for school stuff like that!” Lacey barks as she follows the boys towards home. “You gotta juggle that and this Troll Hunting stuff now? You should’ve just let me bury that stupid amulet!”

 

“Well, I mean, it’s… it’s a nice extra-curricular.” Jim sighs. “Right Tobes? I mean-”

 

“It gives you a good excuse to hang out with Claire.” Toby grins and elbows Jim as they stop on a street corner. “And a good excuse for why you’re out late.”

 

Jim laughs under his breath, then turns to Lacey. “It’ll be fine. And we’re still gonna talk about that whole “Bury the amulet” thing when we get home.”

 

“But seriously, dude?” Toby laughs as they start pedaling again. “That was amazing! You were amazing! I’m amazed at how amazing you were!”

 

“I just can’t believe that just happened.” Jim chuckles sheepishly, Lacey huffing as she trots alongside him.

 

The boys talk some more as they go but the dog’s attention is suddenly diverted by an… odd smell in the air. Familiar but she couldn’t quite place it. They turn a corner as Jim says something about not being in distress, only to stop cold at the sight of a large, black troll roaring loudly in the suddenly empty street.

 

“But I am now.” Jim gulps nervously. Lacey drops down, raising her hackles and growling loudly.

 

“TrollHunter!” The troll shouts. “Merlin’s creation…” He drops down to all fours, growling like a wild cat. “Gunmar’s Bane.”

 

“I think he’s talking to you.” Toby whispers to Jim, the taller boy only able to gape in frozen fear.

 

The troll roars loudly and slams his hands to the pavement, pacing the edge of the shadow of a building he stands in.

 

“Look!” Jim points with relief. “He’s afraid of the sun.”

 

“I’m not sure that’s the proper context here Jim.” Lacey points out, looking up at him disappointedly as he looks over to the setting sun.

 

“Not for long!” Toby yelps.

 

“The amulet!” The troll shouts, slamming his hand to the ground again. “Surrender it and I will give you a speedy death!” The boys look at each other in panic.

 

“Doesn’t know how to negotiate, this guy.” Toby says with shaky hands as they hurry down the nearest street, both screaming as they pedal. Lacey bolts after as quick as she can, only barely keeping up as the troll she’s beginning to assume is this “Bular” Blinky mentioned the night before gives chase.

 

The boys are quick to turn right into the area of road that’s being renovated and hide behind a truck, apparently just in time to evade their persuior.

 

“Armor up! Armor up, armor up!” Toby begs, bouncing nervously on his bike. “Please, now, faster! ” Jim shakes the amulet slightly, glancing over towards where Bular is flipping vehicles over.

 

Jim shakily recites the thing he’d said that had given them armor last time, though Lacey was more distracted at watching the Troll from behind a tire, ready to drag both boys away if he got too close.

 

“It’s not working!” Jim panics and the trio rushes behind the vehicle just as Bular looks behind it. Lacey growls softly as Jim tries again, begging the amulet to work.

 

The truck is lifted and tossed away, Lacey barking loudly at the Troll as he grins victoriously.

 

“Centuries of TrollHunters and I will have killed two in almost as many days!”

 

“He’s good at maath!” Toby screams as Jim panics.

 

“Go go go!” They pedal off as Bular throws the truck, Lacey howling in hopes of getting someone’s attention! They needed some help here!

 

Bular catches up to the boys in almost not time, shouting some very vulgar threat, Toby shooting back a nervous, quickly spoken rebuttal that Lacey is too preoccupied with keeping up to hear.

 

They narrowly manage to avoid being swept off their bikes by the Troll’s clawed hands, Jim shouting directions as they try to lose the clearly angry Troll.

 

“Behind Stuart Electronics!” Jim shouts and Lacey’s already bolting down the tiny alleyway as Toby shouts something. She stops at the other end, whining and pacing as Jim follows through with no problem but Toby nearly gets stuck right in Bular’s reach.

 

She nearly bolts back down to attack the troll when Toby starts moving, squeezing through the tight alley to her immense relief and they both hurry after Jim.

 

They’re across the bridge with no nearly enough distance between them and Bular for Lacey’s tastes when they stop to catch their breath, Blinky and AAARRRGGHH appear from the shrubbery on the side of the road.

 

“Bular is trying to kill us!” Jim says with a hoarse voice as the boys walk their bikes to the other side of the road. “He chased us all over town.”

 

“And you’re still alive!” Blinky points out, almost as if he hadn’t heard the panic in Jim’s voice. “I knew you had potential Master Jim!”

 

“You have a sweet voice.” Toby points at Blinky accusingly. “But you bring death with you!” Lacey nods in agreement, huffing as she paces behind Jim’s feet.

 

“You guy can fight him, right?” Both Trolls laugh and Lacey rolls her eyes. Not wanting to hear their excuses, she turns and trots a few steps away, looking to see if Bular had followed them yet. Her fur stands on end at the sight of the shadowy Troll tromping his way towards them.

 

“JIM!” She yelps and scrambles to run back over. “JIM, HE FOUND US!” She howls, just as the Troll roars, landing on his feet at the end of the street.

 

“Follow me! We'll be safe in Heartstone Trollmarket!” Blinky shouts as they all turn and run, Lacey already bolting ahead.

 

“Master Jim!” Blinky shouts as they bolt down the wooded path, Lacey scrambling to keep up with her boy as he pedals. “Don you armor!”

 

“I’ve been trying! The amulet won’t listen to me!”

“I told you that thing was no good!” Lacey yowls as she slams her paws to the ground as the Trolls and Toby jump down into the canal. She skids down the side, then realizes her boy hadn’t followed them down. “Jim! Get down here!”

 

She watches with fear as Bular rushes towards him. She starts to run up the canal wall, only to watch with fear as Bular slams his fist to Jim’s chest, only… the armor! It erupts into existence around him as the blow send him flying into the air. He lands on the other side of the canal and the sword appears. Lacey huffs in relief and barks.

 

The Trolls and Toby all look up as Bular roars loudly from above. Lacey whines, then barks at Jim.

 

“RUN!”

 

She whines and paces by the bridge as Jim beelines towards them, the Trolls behind her fussing about something or the other and Toby beside her.

 

Just when she’s sure he’ll make it, Bular lands down in front of him and roars.

 

“Jim!” She and Toby shout and she feels the armor come into existence just above her fur. She runs forward as Blinky yells something about the sword but she pays no mind as the armor slams together around her. A new piece puts itself together around her head as she does what she’s probably best at.

 

She bites.

 

Her teeth clamp down on the back of Bular’s leg, metal teeth appearing around the side of her mouth and sinking into the Troll’s rocky flesh. He screams and turns to growl at her.

 

Jim shouts as he rushes the Troll and swings his sword, Bular blocking it with his arms and trying to kick the dog off at the same time.

 

“You need this furry vermin to come to your rescue, Fleshing?” Bular growls as Lacey jumps away from his feet, barking loudly.

 

“Who’re you calling vermin?!” Lacey demands and hops back and forth, baring her teeth. “I’ll show you vermin!”

 

Jim trades another set of blows with the Troll, Lacey jumping in to sink her new metal teeth into the Troll’s side as Blinky hollers for them to hurry over.

 

“You are not fit to wield the amulet!” Bular snaps as Jim and Lacey put some distance between them. “I’ll tear the armor off you! Along with you skin !”

 

Jim swings his sword only, to Lacey immediat panic, get the stupid blade stuck in their attacker’s arm!

 

“Uh!” Jim gulps as Bular lifts both him and his sword.

 

“Put him down !” Lacey barks and rushes him again, sinking her metal teeth right into Bular’s other hand. He shouts and swings his arm away, yanking his hand from her teeth and chucking the sword way behind him. Chunks of his hand tore away in her maw as she and Jim bolted back towards the glowing door under the bridge.

 

“Come on Jim!” Toby calls from the closing portal. “Run guys!”

 

Jim’s hands slam to the wall, panicking at the vanished opening. Lacey whines and claws at the door fearfully. “Nonono.” She whimpers.

 

“Ah!” Jim yelps and looks down in terror as the armor vanishes, the amulet dropping to the ground. “No!” Lacey quickly puts herself between Jim and Bular as the Troll throws his swords to imbed themselves in the wall on either side of Jim’s head.

 

Just in time, AAARRRGGHH’s hands burst through the wall and pull both boy and dog through to safety.