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Son of the Black

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He still remembered that day. The day he went against everything he was taught and meant to become in the future. More than 400 years ago…

 

He was still just a whelp back then. Just a bit more than a century old. He was not old enough to lift even the basic blade used for battle. Yes, he was trained but with hand-to-hand fighting and the most basic swordsmanship. He was happy and wanted to please everyone, his family, especially his father. He was taught and watched over by the best there were and was being prepared for war. He was to become leader and stand next to his father and older brother on the battlefield.

“He’d become a splendid warrior.” ”It would be an understatement! He’ll be at least as tall as his father, maybe even more!” “Yeah, he’s this tall already and so strong! Imagine when he grows to adulthood!”

They’d say such things about him and he’s blush faintly at the praise, although it was true. Both his brother and father were very strong, he could indeed easily overpower others his age and was at least a head taller if not more than the other whelps his age group. Yes, he might not be as bulky as most trolls, but wasn’t inferior to them. He was built more for speed, agility and endurance, rather than pure brute strength. Don’t underestimate him because of his thinner and longer limbs, he packed quite the punch in his lithe body.

Back then he wasn’t allowed to wander too far off because of the constant battles and the danger it posed to whelps, which were much weaker than adult trolls. But he was curious, so he tried to find a way to sneak out one night. He wanted to see a real battle for once.

‘Only a few hours and I’ll be back, it’ll be as if nothing happened!’ – he said to himself.

Oh, how WRONG was he. He managed to sneak out and wandered the forest near their cavern. He stayed hidden and quiet in order to be unnoticed by enemies. Soon, he heard the sounds of clanging blades and battle roars. Like an excited puppy, he followed the noise. The small goat path he went through led him to the edge of the forest. It was a hill with a sharp drop at the end. A perfect place to observe those below and not be seen. He crouched as close to the ground as he could and crept forward. He looked down, towards the valley where the battle was.

He wished he hadn’t done so. There was so much chaos, pain, death and desperation to live, as troll after troll were crippled or killed. With a trembling legs and hands, he returned back. All the training and mock fights now seemed repulsive.

‘I don’t want to be part of THAT! I-I can’t! It’s terrible and I don’t want to do this!’

After that day, he changed. He no longer felt pleasure in training, no longer wanted to please everyone, he didn’t want to meet their expectations. He then learned of the wonders of magic, something wonderful yet dangerous, and he wanted to study it. He had seen a few humans use it during one of his secret trips, but unfortunately there was no teacher at his home, so he temporarily left his desire to study.

‘When I get older, I’ll find a way to become a mage!’ – he swore.

Then THAT day came. The battle of Killahead bridge. It was an all against all final battle. He and the other whelps were also brought but stayed at the sidelines. It wasn’t safe but it was the best at the moment. He hated it and wanted to get away, to run away. His chance came when the body of a rather large troll was thrown in their direction. The other whelps scattered in all directions and he ran. With all his strength Jatar ran as far away from the battle as he could. He headed through the forest and up the mountain, this might have been the fastest he had ever ran, Jatar was just a blur as he dashed past trees. He lasted quite a while before he ran out of stamina. He panted as his legs gave out and he fell to the ground. A beam of light then illuminated the sky. A certain sense of dread filled him and he pushed himself to move forward.

‘No matter who won, I won’t have a place back with father, nor would the other trolls accept me. It’s better for me to leave as soon as I can.’ – Jatar thought as he made his way down the mountain.

He was no longer the proud second son of Gunmar, the moment he decided to run, the threw all that away.

‘Jatar the Coward, Jatar the Disgrace…If they know I’m alive they’d certainly call me that way for however long I get to live.’

He was doomed either way, so he thought to get his escape to another level. When dawn came up, he hid in the hollow trunk of a big oak.

‘Next destination, a human town!’

………………………………………..

A month later, Jatar could be seen sneaking on a ship. He had reached a big town near the sea with many large ships being loaded with goods to the “New world”. His small size and human-like body shape made it easy for him to walk around without being noticed. He had to hide his skin, horns and glowing blue eyes but it was a small prize for him to pay in exchange for information. He had overheard a few drunk sailors talking how their ship “Galoope” was leaving for the New World and he decided that was his chance. He had heard stories about this new land and to him it sounded perfect. A nice place to start his life anew.

‘Maybe I’d be able to finally learn to do some magic…’ – he wondered as he hauled his heavy luggage on board.

He wore a long cloak, a pair of old boots and pants several sizes bigger to hide himself better and as emergency rations in case the journey took longer. Making no noise, he snuck down to the lowest level of the ship. It was dark, moist and smelled like stale air, it was also full of crates full of goods and materials.

‘This is perfect!’

He hid in the very end and made a small hidden place to sleep for himself. He made sure he brought what he’d need. Books of magic he’d saved from being burned by the Chu-r-ch, check, food, check, water jugs, check, his dagger, check! Everything was there.

True to their words, the ship set sail the very next morning. Jatar had been woken by the rocking but he calmed down when he realized he wasn’t attacked. Through a small hole he watched as the shore disappeared.

‘Goodbye. Welcome new life.’

===Big time skip===

 A very long time had passed since the day he first arrived in America. How things changed always amazed him. Jatar would always stop and admire the ever changing landscape of this new land. From the native tribes, from which he learned many things about nature and rituals, European settlers, from them he learned science and construction, he even met some nice witches that decided to tutor him in magic and potions after seeing his abysmal performance.

“You taught yourself?! You are lucky you didn’t loose your life young troll. You either have amazing talent or unmatched luck. Come with me and I’ll teach you what REAL magic should be like!” – Lucinda told him 247 years ago.

Thanks to her and her clansmen he learned how to cast spells without a staff, how to brew many useful potions and even craft spells of his own. He also did the ONE thing no troll had managed to do before. He walked under the sunlight, unharmed! He used a spell to protect him from the deadly rays. It had to be re-cast every 6 hours but it was one of his biggest achievements, yet!

After Lucinda died, he left the clan and continued his wandering on the new continent. A lot of his time was spent traveling, sleeping, training his magic and most importantly, avoiding other trolls and changelings the best he could. He had a few close calls but thankfully was never discovered.

One night he was wandering through the woods somewhere in California when he heard sobbing. He knew he shouldn’t be seen but he approached. Was it the fact that he hadn’t had any proper contact for the past 100 years or the fact they sounded so desperate and broken? He still doesn’t know. He carefully made his way towards the sound. As Jatar peered from the trees, he saw a young woman. She had brownish hair, glasses and looked horrible. Her eyes were red and puffy, cheeks were stained by tears and her clothes were covered in dirt. She clutched a half-empty bottle of whiskey in one hand as she cried while sitting under a tree. He should have walked away but instead approached her.

“G-good evening?” – he smiled shyly.

She looked at him while sniffling. They stared at each other for a bit, he was growing more and more nervous by the second.

‘Damn! I shouldn’t have done this! How can I be so stupid?!’ – he berated himself.

“Gahahahaha! What’cha doin’ starin there *hic* c’mere and have a sip! It’s good!” – she said obviously too drunk and sad to think.

He slowly made his way there and sat next to her, their size difference even more obvious. He awkwardly took the bottle offered to him and took a sip, cringing at the taste.

‘How can humans even drink this?!’

He gave the bottle back and she took a big swing of it.

“So…. What are you doing here in the forest in the middle of the night miss?” – he asked her.

She then proceeded to spill her whole life’s misery out. How she struggled returning the ‘dreadful student loans’, whatever that was, how she got married and because of it her parents turned their backs to her and finally, how her husband had cheated her not even 2 years in their marriage. He had left and said nothing. In the end she fell asleep on his side. He sighed and looked for her wallet. He had kept up with modern improvements and knew that people’s addresses were on the documents in their wallets. He carried her bridal style to her home and intended to leave but then he saw the condition of her home. It was dirty, trash and clothes strewn around. He grimaced, Jatar didn’t like dirty houses at all. Yes, they were a good place to find a meal or something useful, but living in them was out of question. He muttered a few curses in Trollspeak and started clean up. He ate bits of trash here and there, folded clothes, swept the floor and etc.

“How can a person stand living in such a pigsty?! Can’t you even clean after yourself woman? ...” – he continued, watching out to not hit his head in one of the lamps, doorways or the ceiling.

He had grown in size the past 400 or so years. His horns were just a few centimeters shy of touching the ceiling.

“Good morning… and sorry for being so messy.” – Barbara’s voice sounded from behind.

He froze and slowly turned around and looked at her. Her hair was still messy but with no more leaves in, courtesy of Jatar, her glasses were gone, there were bags visible under her eyes and she was holding an empty coffee pot.

“Do you want some coffee?” – she asked tiredly.

“D-don’t know. I’ve never had a coffee…” – he answered after thinking for a bit.

“So, for two then.”

She filled the pot and set it on the stove. She went to him, his blue eyes looking at her warily.

“Don’t worry, I won’t bite you…haha…” she let out a hollow laugh “Let me help you.”

“OK?”

By the time the coffee was ready, they had cleaned the living room. Jatar sat on the coach, springs and wood groaning lightly because of the weight. She came with two cups, one black and other with a lot of cream and a bowl of sugar cubes. Barbara sat across from him after she set the coffee on the small table. He sniffed the unfamiliar drink, he took a sip and grimaced at the terrible taste.

“Don’t like coffee?”

“I don’t think this beverage is drinkable for me.” – he said shyly.

Silence. She drank from her cup and he awkwardly sat there, looking around the room.

“So… you aren’t afraid or freaking out, huh?” – he first broke the silence.

“Nah. I was really freaked out and until a while ago I hoped you were some sort of alcohol-induced dream. After the coffee though…” – she said in a calm tone.

“Ah, OK.”

……..” So… what do you plan to do now Mr…?”

“Jatar, my name is Jatar.”

“Nice to meet you, I’m-“

“Barbara Lake. I know.”

“Sigh… guess me telling you my whole life story in a drunk stupor last night wasn’t a dream, huh?”

“Yeah, it was quite the experience… he he. It was the first time a human has talked to me while dead drunk.”

“Ugh! Don’t remind me. I think my grand kids would have headache if this goes on…”

“Why? Are you sick or…”

“No. It’s a figure of speech. I thought you’d be gone by the time I’m up and you know.”

“Oh, OK… I can’t leave, yet. Yes, I can walk under the sun but being unnoticed when you are big and black ‘monstrous being’...”

She stared at him as he did the air quotes and all.

……………….

“So… are you some sort of demon or something?”

“No, I’m a troll.”

“A troll?”

She looked him over. He was indeed big and scary looking but not threatening in the same time. He had laid the weapons, two daggers that were like swords to her, on the floor. She had expected a troll to be something else and not like him. Heck, although a bit outdated, his clothes were in pristine condition, he currently even smelled better than her.

‘Herbs and spices. A nice combination.’ – her brain supplied.

“I’ve gathered the trash, can you go and throw it away while I clean the kitchen?” – he said, holding a full bag in his hand.

“Oof! This is HEAVY!” – she was surprised how much it weighted.

“Wouldn’t have been if there wasn’t so much trash!”

“Sorry Joe! You act like my mom! What a clean freak.”

“I heard that!”

===A week later===

“Jatar! Wake up! It’s evening already.” – Barbara shouted from upstairs.

Jatar groaned and got up from his sleeping place. He crawled out of the pile of blankets on top of the mattress. He stretched, back popping, and yawned. He stood up and shook his stiff limbs. Jatar went up the steps and leaned down in order to not hit the door frame again. Barbara was waiting for him on the dining table.

“I told you, you don’t need to wait for me each night. Don’t you have a shift coming in about an hour or two?” – he asked her, brow raised.

“I do this only because I want to. Not to mention it’s nice to eat with a good company.”

He chuckled at her response. He’d been awkward company at best. He was still tense but was relaxing a bit in her presence. Now that he reflected upon it, he HAD stayed here longer than intended. Every time he wanted to leave, he’d tell himself “One more night won’t hurt.” And a week passed in a flash.

“What’s so funny Jatar?”

“You say that, even though you barely know anything about me.”

“I know you are a nice person, I’m a relatively good judge of character. At least I think so.”

“See! I could be deceiving you and waiting to eat you.”

“Please, I’ve seen you bite clean trough steel. I doubt if you want to eat me, you’d wait and not do it now.”

He decided to not say anything and sat on the floor, eating his meal (scraps, raw meat and few old socks).

“So…why do you not want to talk about your past?”

“I just don’t want to.”

“Come on! You know my story; I think it’s fair to know yours.”

“Sigh… My father… and brother. I’m not very proud of who they are.”

“Wow, you got family issues. I don’t see what’s so bad. You can just talk it out, right?”

“It’s NOT that simple! Sorry…” he took a calming breath “My brother, Bular, and my father, Gunmar, are what you’d call evil. I was the second son of Gunmar the Black and they expected a lot of things of me but instead I ran.”

“Ran? From what?”

“From war.” She gasped and waited “During the so called ‘last battle’ at Killahead bridge, around 400 years ago, my father’s army lost and was sent to the Darklands. Well, only me and Bular remain here from all the Gum-gums from what I’ve heard. I’ve been hiding ever since because I’m now the coward son that ran away, so there’s no place for me with my brother. I’m also a child of Gunmar, so no other troll tribe or community would accept me. I’d be chased out the moment they see me or learn of my parentage. In the past I may have been able to sneak in and out but now I look too much like my family and would be recognized almost immediately.”

“I see…Wait! Did you say 400 years? Just how old are you?”

“I’m 584 at the moment.”

“Wow, so old…is this young or old in troll standard?”

“I’m quite young in troll age and still dread the fact that I have a room to grow taller.”

“Really? You barely fit in the house right now! I won’t have to get a new house soon, right?”

“No, no! We trolls grow much slower than humans, in fact as we get older, we age slower. I’m in that ‘tender’ age group that are big enough to take care of themselves but can’t take important decisions. I believe you call them teens.”

“You are a teen?! Early or late teens?”

“Don’t know exactly. Somewhere in the middle.”

“Wow… this is crazy.”

“Don’t you have to go somewhere?”

“Ah, work! I almost forgot.”

She shoved her dinner in her mouth and rushed to take her things.

“Forgot your food!” – Jatar was holding a paper bag.

She grabbed it and ran for the car.

“Thank you!”

===3 months later===

Jatar had officially moved to live with Barbara. At first he was denying it but the moment he moved from the basement to the second bedroom, he couldn’t. He was staying and had started to think of the place as a home. He really liked Barbara as a friend and someone he could share with. He had moved his other possessions in the basement, turning it in a small workshop for potions and spell crafting.

He still remembered THAT conversation he had with Barbara.

=Flashback=

“Hey, Jatar, if you don’t like your name and being associated with your family, why don’t you change it?”

“What?!”

“There’s this thing when we humans want another name, we go and get it changed after filling some documents.”

“Really?” – he would be lying if he said he wasn’t excited.

“Yes, so I thought of giving you a new name. What about Joe? I’ve been calling you that from time to time.”

“Do I look like a Joe? I’ve been calling you mom too but you aren’t my mother, are you?”

“No, I guess not. Then you think of something.”

He looked around and his eyes landed on a picture of James Lake.

“How about… Jim?”

“Really? From all names, you pick that one?”

“Got anything better?”

“Hmm… now that I think about it, you kinda look like a Jim.”

“What do you mean by that?!”

“Nothing. You just look like a Jim.”

He sulked for the whole day.

=end=

Without noticing, Barbara had become a part of his family, not biological, but still family. He hadn’t really felt his age since he learned magic, but now she challenged him, provoked him to feel more. He made small mistakes here and there, dropping his mature mask and she encouraged it. Soon he was thinking of better times to come.

‘Living here, this close to the Heartstone might not be as bad as I thought.’ – Jatar, now named Jim thought to himself.

To be continued? You decide!

Chapter Text

Jim’s appearance:

Young Jim- He looked a lot like his half-troll from the cartoon but he was black, like Bular, the horns are also the same shape they were in the cartoon and dark gray in color. His limbs are long and it gives him a more human appearance. He has Blue eyes that glow when agitated or in the dark, like Gunmar’s but with a pupil. He was around 160 cm before leaving for America. He wears leather pads and leather holsters on his back where he previously held his training swords. He wore no shirt, just a pair of crude pants made from animal skins. He’s also barefoot.

America Jim- He has become a bit more muscular and well-toned, still a child in troll standards. He has left his previous clothing behind. He wears an indigo cloak and a gray scarf to hide his appearance. He now wears shoes, almost always boots he’s found somewhere, he has blue baggy pants and loose white shirt. He wears gloves whenever he is in a town or tries to hide from the sun (before making the sun protection spell). He has a pair of daggers on his hips and lugs around a big and heavy backpack that’s filled with his possessions. When he studies magic he switches to cotton clothes and thinner, more open in design because he no longer needs protection from the sun. He’s gained a bit more height and mass, starting to resemble a warrior but still not in the same way other Gum-gums do. Kinda like a stockier and taller version of half-troll Jim.

Present Jim- He has grown quite a bit and is currently somewhere in mid-teens in troll standard. He has become even more muscular and agile, packing both strength and speed in one body. His horns had reached their maximum size and won’t become bigger, not that they had become any bigger than they already were. His upper back had grown some fur on, he had reached a height of 2,10 meters, not counting the horns, being only slightly shorter than Bular. He still has a room for growth, to his dismay. His appearance and body type becoming more and more similar to that of his family, thankfully his legs are longer and he doesn’t have to hunch like Bular, he stands up straight. Low roofs are a pain though and he’d sometimes hit them with his horns. He wears clothes that would look more in place in the early 60s and are all tailored and made by him, normal human clothes no longer fitting his impressive frame. He still lugs a large backpack and has kept his daggers, the difference is that he now hides them. He has abandoned boots for leather and metal plated shoes.

Son of the Black cover by K4l84n3ri

Chapter Text

‘thinking’

“trollspeak”

[spell] – I can’t write incantations, so I’m using names, kinda like in anime.

======================

It had been an unexpected thing, really. A troll and a human living in one home, both aware of the other’s existence and seeking them out. If someone heard that they even became family, they’d say it’s ridiculous, but it wasn’t. The proof lived in Arcadia, just above Troll market and they were happily spending their days like that. Without noticing, 3 and a half years had passed.

Jim yawned and stretched one of his legs kicking the desk in his room, vials, full and empty, rattled because of the force.

“Bushigal!”

He sat up and scowled at the furniture. By the time he was completely awake, he had made sure none of the substances were leaking or their containers broken. He saw that a few of his notes had fallen, so he stood up and started gathering and sorting them. Despite his big size and warrior physique that would make average trolls green, some greener, with envy, he liked studying and took good care of all his books and notebooks. The proof: books over 300 years old were barely showing any sign of aging, despite being lugged in an overstuffed backpack ever since he came to the continent.

He was soon done and was making his way towards the kitchen, mindful of the doorframes, there were a few deep scrapes on his and the basement’s. Steps creaked ever so slightly under his weight and he thanked whomever designed the house that he made each floor of solid brick and concrete, instead of those cheap wooden ones that would have broken easily with one step.

‘Looks like she pulled the curtains down for me.’

He went to the kitchen and saw an assortment of old socks, tin cans and raw sausage, there were also 2 chili peppers.

She had been a bit weirded out when he ate a whole jar of them as if they were a cereal. He explained to her that he liked their taste and were one of the few human foods his stomach was able to digest, the others being red radish, beef jerky and tacos.

There was also a small note saying: [I’m taking a few extra hours, will be back by 16:30. Bon apetit!]. He smiled slightly and looked at the clock.

’10:40. I still have some time to work before she comes back.’

After eating his breakfast, he headed towards his main workplace – the great basement! He lit the lamp and sat on a big cushion. In front of him was a big table full of even more books on magic, notes full of calculations, star charts and magic formulas. He carefully pulled the half-finished sheet he had been working on the previous night alongside with a small booklet. You’d think nothing of it at first, looking old and bland, but after opening it, then things become intense. It was a book about Changelings. Full of text, notes and drawings. Jim began reading while working on his sheet at the same time.

“So, if I do this I should…”

=Flashback=

Jim and Barbara were sitting in the living room. It was late at night and Barbara was stretched over the couch, eyes a bit puffy, hidden by her arms. She was pouring her heart out to him, again, but this time not under the influence of alcohol but because she wanted. On the coffee table was her mug, full of chamomile tea and a big plastic bowl full of Fruzz (a homemade equivalent of cola for trolls, made by yours truly: Jim).

Jim sat across the table and had managed to settle on the armchair, holding a note pad and making his best impression of a psychologist. Barbara had a small mental breakdown after an especially stressful day at the hospital.

“… and it doesn’t mean that I don’t have ANY personal life just because my husband walked out of my life?! I also want to have fun sometimes!” – she wailed.

“Relax. Being mad at someone won’t make it any better. Now, try breathing and have some tea. Tonight, I’ll be making dinner!”

“Since when can you cook?” – he didn’t answer her question.

She shot him doubtful looks with her reddened eyes until the kitchen door obscured him from view but did as instructed. She waited and indeed she calmed down. Soon after a delicious smell came from the kitchen. Jim came out with a tray. On the tray were 2 plates, one was with an omelette and the other had some salad.

“Here’s your dinner madam!” he mock bowed “Enjoy!”

“Aren’t you going to eat too?”

“Nah. I had a few eggshells and other stuff while you were out at work. I’m full.”

“If you say so.” – she ate the salad first.

It wasn’t bad, fresh and well-seasoned, she then looked at the omelette and poked at it. She was still hungry but she knew Jim’s sense of taste was completely different from humans’, so she was a bit wary.

“Don’t worry. I put edible things in it.”

“Are you really sure Jimmy? You hadn’t put eggshells in there by accident?” – she said jokingly.

“No, I didn’t! I practiced really hard to make this!” – he sounded a bit offended and she knew he was serious.

She cut a bit of the dish and ate it. Jim waited for her to tell him what she thought. She swallowed.

“Mmm! This is not half bad! A bit on the saltier side but it’s perfect! You are really a good cook. Maybe you can become a chef in the future.”

“Haha! Don’t joke around. There is no way for that to happen! Trolls don’t cook much in general, plus me being the ‘spawn of Gunmar’… and a human restaurant won’t even employ me. I’m hiding for a reason, you know.”

She sat there, eating and thinking about what he said.

“Jim, you are magical, right?”

“I’m a mage ow how you call us nowadays – wizard.”

“So, I was thinking… can’t you like, make a spell to make you at least look human? You bragged how you invented the sun immunity one not too long ago.”

Jim stared at her and grabbed his horns in shock.

“Oh, Gorgus! How hadn’t I thought of THIS earlier?! You are a genius mom!” he realized what he said just a moment later and sputtered “I… I mean… I mean Barbara! Yeah! That’s what I meant!”

She just chuckled at his embarrassment.

=end=

Drrrrrrrrrrrrrr! – the alarm he had set up rang.

He got up and went to the kitchen. With a practiced ease he took out the cooking book and started cooking. He diced the vegetables, mixed the ground beef with cream cheese and made patties. Soon he had a nice plate of fried vegetables and patties. His brows furrowed as he looked his creation over and smelled it.

‘Hmm… it’s true that cooking is nice activity, but this still doesn’t smell like food.’ He dipped his finger in some of the leftover sauce he had made and licked it, gagging at the taste ‘Sigh… the taste is yet another thing I had to trust m- Barbara about. I wonder…’

His ears twitched at the sound of a parking car. Barbara had returned. He washed his hands and went to set the dining table.

Knockknock!

Barbara knocked on the door.

‘This could mean only one thing…’ he stopped midway his task ‘… she can’t open because her hands are full.’

Jim opened the door for her and she quickly went in, making a beeline for the counter.

“Mm! It smells amazing here Jim! I swear, soon you’d surpass those master chefs on TV! Huff… these things sure are heavy!”

“It’s your own fault that you buy too much stuff.”

“Come on Jim! Help me get these things in their places. I even bought some new socks!”

“You know… I can get food on my own and I need to exercise too. I’ve been in here for the past two weeks, so I’m planning to have some fresh air.” – he closed the pantry and went back to setting the table.

“I do this because I want to take care of you. Despite being a troll, I can see the lonely teenage boy under all your stony exterior. I want to support you the best I can, you’ve been alone for so long…”

“It’s nothing. I can manage it. It’s not like anyone would accept-“

“Jim! I know what you are about to say and I will repeat it as many times as I have to. You are NOT your father! Nor are you your brother! You are you. Jatar or Jim, it doesn’t matter. You have a good heart and someday, I know you’d be accepted by other trolls and I hope to see it with my own eyes.” He looked at her “And when that happens, I’d get to say ‘I told you!’ and document the event!” – the moment was ruined for Jim but he smiled.

===Time skip, 12 days===

“I got it! I finally got it!” – Jim shouted in the basement and jumped a bit.

He didn’t want to make a hole in the ceiling after all… Jim was happily looking at his finished work, the complete magical formula for his new spell.

‘I plan to call it HTM for short! Hehe… If my teacher was here, she’d scold me for having no imaginative thinking, heh. Now, I just have to test how well it works and tweak it where it’s needed.’

He cleared a space in the basement and stood there, closed his eyes and concentrated, it was always harder with new spells, he slowly imagined the whole magical formula and chant. Unlike simple spells that required just chant, this spell was way more complex. In order for him to make his disguise truly realistic, he used a complex mic of magical circles, invocation process and chant. If everything worked as intended, he’d get a human form, just like a changeling would but without needing a familiar or being modified in any way. Not to mention that as soon as Jim had completely memorized the magic, he was going to burn all his notes, knowing how dangerous such knowledge would be in the wrong hands, hence why no other being, other than him and Barbara currently knew of the Sun Protection magic.

A blueish light started to surround him. As soon as it enveloped his whole body, it flashed brightly, illuminating the whole basement. A few seconds later it disappeared. In the basement now stood a small black-haired boy with pale skin and bright blue eyes. That boy was Jim and he wore the same clothes, just smaller. He opened his eyes and immediately plopped on his butt. His head was spinning and he was disoriented due to the sudden shift in both height, size and shape. He sat there for a few minutes, trying to adjust himself to the now bigger world around him. Jim got up and went to his desk, where he kept a small mirror, and took in his new appearance.

“Wow! It really worked. Gasp-“ – he put a now soft and smaller arm on his throat, his voice had also changed, not by much but it sounded younger and a bit softer.

Getting out of the basement became an unforgettable experience, carefully taking one step at a time, having to make more than 3, the doorknob being at his eye level and the door larger than him.

“Now, for the most important test…”

Jim crept towards the window and pried the curtains open, letting a small ray of sunlight in. He took a breath and thrust his hand in the light, preparing for pain, instead he only felt pleasant warmth. With a now beaming smile, he stepped into the sunlight, pulling away the curtains. Being temporarily blinded was nothing compared to the overwhelming sense of accomplishment currently felt. He whooped in joy and went to test some more things.

‘The spell doesn’t seem to be weakening, just as I wanted, might as well test the limits before trying to dispel it.’ – he thought, rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

He then proceeded to do multiple tests – mobility, flexibility, strength, speed, eye test, smell sensitivity…The results were both good and not so good, but he managed to see both the pros and cons to his new spell.

He was smaller and could go through places he couldn’t, he was more flexible, had resistance to light, looked, no, he was human in a sense and his steps had become lighter. On the other side, he was much shorter and weaker than his troll self but stronger than average, he couldn’t properly compare it but he doubted a child his current size could lift an armchair. He was slower due to his shorter legs and had less stamina, Jim even took a short nap to see if the spell could hold on, it did. His senses were also muted down and was very confusing at first but got used to it. Currently he was standing in front of the door, debating on his next action.

‘Should I dispel the magic, leave it to see if it’ll last until I have to cook dinner or … go out?’

He was tempted by each idea and was hard to decide, glancing at the clock, he saw he had 4 more hours until he had to start preparing Barbara’s dinner.

‘That’s it! I haven’t walked freely in a human settlement for 180 years, what could possibly go wrong with a little stroll around the block?’

Unlocking the door with gusto and a bit of childish excitement, Jim made his way out of the house. Birds were chirping, the cars were slowly driving by and children were playing around the neighborhood, it was a perfect day to lay there and enjoy the peace. It smelled clean and fresh, despite his dulled sense of smell.

‘Time for part 2 of testing!’ he smiled “To the backyard!” – Jim shouted and ran with a cheerful laugh.

He was thankful that there were trees instead of houses behind his home… Huh? He had really accepted this place as a home. Not even the caves he and his family had used were home to him. Instead, this little house had become a place he knew he’d be able to return to.

Jim was standing in the backyard, facing the trees behind the house. He closed his eyes, concentrated, stretched his hand and used magic-

[Ice arrow]

-and nothing happened. Looking at his palm with a shocked expression, Jim examined it.

‘What’s wrong? Making Ice arrows is one of the easiest mid-tier spells, even a beginner can make a few on his first try! What went wrong? Why can’t I use it?’

He tried a few more spells, which led him to discovering another thing about this new spell of his. While he was in human form, he could only use low-tier beginner spells, the kind of spells that were taught to children to train their spellcasting, were used to wash your clothes, tie shoes and tricks you can do with your hands.

“Hmm… this is quite the predicament. I need more time for testing. For now, I should go inside and try to dispel the magic…” – Jim mused while heading for the front door. He hadn’t unlocked the back one and had to circle the house instead.

“Huh? Who are you?” – the voice of a young boy asked Jim.

His head shot up in the direction of the voice, his thoughts interrupted. There stood a chubby boy with short orange-brown hair, in t-shirt and shorts.

“Huh?” – was all Jim could say.

“I haven’t seen you here before. What were you doing in Dr. Lake’s backyard? Did you lose something? What’s your name? Are you new to town? You look my age…” – Jim was bombarded by questions by the excited boy.

“What…”

“Sorry! I was looking for Dr. Lake my Nana told me to bring her some pie. So, what’s your name?”

“J-Jim! My name is Jim!” – he said nervously.

‘Oh no, someone actually came! What should I do? Do I pretend to…’

“Cool! My name is Toby, Toby Domzalski!” – he held his hand for a handshake.

“Wait. You are the grandson of the lady that lives across the street from us?”

“Yeah, I do. Does that mean you live here? With Dr. Lake? Ah, I get it!”

Jim stiffened.

“You must be her son! But why haven’t I seen you-“

“Toby-pie! Your show is starting!” – Nana called and saved Jim from an awkward explanation.

“Nana’s calling. Here’s the pie, you can give it to your mom. Bye Jim!” he ran towards his house “We may go out some time!”

Jim stood there, frozen, until Toby closed the door of his house. Looking at the still warm pie, Toby’s house and the pie again…Like a robot, he walked back in his house, locked the door, closed the curtains, left the pie in the fridge and laid on the sofa. He was in shock and just stared at the ceiling.

‘I messed up! I totally messed up. What should I do now? Why was I so stupidly careless?! 400 years. 400 years of hiding and being unnoticed…Now it might all end because of a human child seeing me!’ – such thoughts swam in his head.

He didn’t even notice how much time had passed, until Barbara entered the house. She was calling for him, so he stood up and went to greet her.

“Kya! Who are you? Where did you come from little guy?” – she asked.

‘Little guy? ...Oh, I still haven’t dispelled the magic.’

He stepped back and closed his eyes, concentrating on the spell. In a flurry of sparks, he was back to his troll form and Barbara jumped back in surprise.

“Jim! Don’t scare me like that! Wait! Since when can you do that?”

“I tested the new spell today, you know…the one to make me look human.”

“Ah! So you are done? Now I can show you around Arcadia without worrying about- “– she was stopped by Jim’s finger.

“I messed up…” desperation was clear within his voice “I made a big mistake and I-I I don’t know what to do to fix it…” – he sat on the floor, hands shaking a bit in both fear and nervousness.

Barbara looked him from head to toe. She couldn’t see the tall, strong and imposing troll, she saw an inexperienced boy that had made some sort of mess for the first time and didn’t know what to do, due to fear.

“Don’t worry… We’ll fix it somehow, I promise. Now, tell me what happened.”

Jim proceeded to tell her the events from earlier and she sat next to him, listening to every word.

“So, Toby thinks you are my son and a kid his age?”

“Yes…”

“Then you ARE my son!” – she proclaimed suddenly.

“What? But I am- “

“It’s perfect! I will be your mother and you my son. That way we can keep you hidden and safe while not looking suspicious! I may even go to the city hall and register you! Jim Lake…Doesn’t that sound great?”

“Hehe… It does have a nice ring to it.”

“See! You agree too! I know things may get a bit more complicated from now on, but imagine the possibilities! I refuse to let you stay cooped inside! I don’t know about trolls but I doubt it’s healthy.”

“You are half-right. Although some trolls can and DO sleep for decades…”

“Really?”

“Yes, they do. Hey! I forgot about one last test for today!”

“What test?”

“I forgot to see if my human form can eat human food. And there’s some pie in the fridge…” – he cast the magic, once again turning in a boy and running towards the fridge.

‘Boys…What will I do with him?’ – Barbara shook her head.

She watched from the side as he warily took a small bite of pie, his face brightening up almost instantly. It reminded her of how small children in hospitals would smile when they or their family member got discharged. She steeled herself and got ready to do whatever she could to help Jim. He had become family to her, a true family, a son. A very lonely and a bit lost son but with this she hoped he’d have a better life, instead of being all alone.

“So? How’s the pie? I know Nana makes the best pies in the state.” – she asked the awestruck Jim.

“I’ve never had such a food… It tastes AMAZING! Like that time I first had wool socks.”

“Haha…I’m glad you like it, now make way for me! I have to eat too.”

Like that they snacked on the pie and went to bed, both a bit too nervous for what’s to come next day. They were going to introduce Jim Lake, Barbara’s ‘adopted son’ to Nana and Toby, hoping for the best.

Chapter Text

Jim…Jim…Jim Lake…

My name is being called and I get closer to whatever it’s calling it.

Jim Lake!

It calls again. I try to stop myself because an unknown voice calling your name is most likely NOT GOOD, but my body doesn’t listen. Suddenly, there is a blinding light, as if the sun had come to screw with me. I gasp in shock as……………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. a giant mango, wearing a hula skirt and coconut bra is dancing in my room with a flashlight pointed right at my eyes.

Huh? That didn’t sound possible, so I shook my head, sat up and yawned. I felt off but at least the mango disappeared. It was actually mo- Barbara in her pajamas, shining a flashlight at my eyes.

“Wake up. You have a meeting with Toby today, remember? You can’t sleep until noon.” – she said as she turned off the cursed flashlight.

“Damn it! You are crazy I tell ya!” – he also uttered a few curses in trollish.

“I may not understand you, but I can tell you are cursing! Stop it!” – she shouted from behind the door.

He grumbled some more, yawned and stretched, popping his back. He slowly stood up and headed for the bathroom, mindful of the doorframes. Soon he and Barbara were ready to go out and greet the new day.

“Jim!” – Toby waved enthusiastically from the other side of the street.

He waved back with a slight smile. Barbara got in her car and drove off to work.

………………………………………………………….

It had been 2 years since Barbara officially introduced Jim to Toby and Nana Domzalski. It was quite risky and tense in the beginning, especially figuring a way for Jim not to look suspicious. Even now she didn’t believe how easy she managed to register him as her son and everything. (Thank you Ross, for sleeping at work!)

…………………………………………………………..

“How can you not know about Go Go Sushi?! It’s like the BEST game and it’s super fun!” – Toby looked at Jim.

“I don’t play that much games… It’s also not so easy!” – Jim protested and looked away from his new friend’s shocked face.

“Come on Jimbo! I bet I can teach a caveman how to play it faster than you!” Toby pointed at him “AH! Catch the shrimp! The shrimp, not the squid!”

Jim focused on the TV screen and tried to do what he was told. Why were these controllers so hard to use?!

===With Barbara, a few hours later===

“Dr. Lake. I’m so glad you had time to come, despite your busy schedule. Please, have a seat.” – a tall middle-aged man told her.

Barbara pulled back a chair and sat across the desk. She had a look around the office.

‘Wow, the carpet is really nice color…No! Focus Barbara!’ – she shook her head.

“No, I thank you for having me Mr. Simons.”

He was the principal of Arcadia Oaks elementary school.

“Looking at the records, your son has not been to any kindergarten nor had been taught privately and now you want him to start 1st grade this September… To be honest, I’m not too sure about your decision- “

“I understand. It’s a bit complicated but I can assure you that Jim is very smart and can deal with school without a problem. Please!”

The principal looked conflicted. In the end he looked one last time at Barbara, sighed and made his decision.

“OK. I’ll enlist him in school but it he is too far behind others, I’ll have him suspended until he catches up. Is that acceptable for you?” – re asked her.

“Yes! Thank you very much!”

===Back with Jim and Toby===

“Bye Jim! See you next time!” – Toby cheerfully waved as Jim headed out.

He had been defeated yet again at video games but at least he was getting better. His first time had been abysmal and since then he has improved a LOT – he no longer has 0 as a score.

Jim entered his home and looked at the clock. He had 2 more hours until Barbara came back.

‘I know! I will surprise mom with a dinner!’ – he had accepted her as his mother long ago but stopped being embarrassed calling her that only recently.

He looked around and closed the curtains. After making sure no one could see him, he dispelled his ‘Jim Jr.’ disguise and then transformed into an adult man in his late 20s with blonde hair, green eyes, a windbreaker, jeans and sneakers. One of the minuses of his transformation magic was that he had to dispel his current disguise and then transform again. Jim double-checked in the mirror and when he deemed himself ready, he took some money and sneaked out of the back door. More than once he was grateful for the thick bushes and lush vegetation that grew behind their home. Yes, it could potentially house some goblins or gnomes but it had saved him many times when he went out to exercise in his troll form.

…………………………..

Jim walked through the supermarket. He carried a shopping basket filled with some discounted pork and vegetables. He was currently looking at a nice bunch of grapes when the sliding doors on his right opened with their familiar DING. The breeze carried a particular scent to his nose. Despite not being as good in human form, Jim’s nose could pick more scents than any human. He discreetly glanced at the figure that entered the store and he almost winced. He had been right; it WAS Stricklander. No one could smell like that this late in the day. He had crossed paths with him a few times when his father and the Gum-Gums hadn’t been banished yet and from what he remembered of the changeling, he wasn’t someone he’d ever like.

Stricklander may have looked mostly the same but Jim was VERY different from the whelp back then. He was not only older but currently looked like an adult human, had different voice and his scent had changed drastically from the past. He smelled like damp cave, mold, iron and a bit of blood, considering his diet when he was young, currently he had gotten rid of it and now smelled more like flower deodorant (Barbara’s doing), spices and cooked food. Also changelings were completely human when transformed, so Jim looked away from him and continued his shopping, hoping to not be noticed by the changeling.

Finally, he went to the counter, paid his bill and walked away. As soon as he was sure he was far enough, he started running. He reached his home in record time, snuck in and hastily locked the back door. He panted and suddenly glowed.

Clank! – his sudden transformation caused his horns to collide with the lamp hanging in the hall.

“Bushigal!” – he growled under his breath.

Jim shifted into a more comfortable position and sat on the wooden floor, back carefully leaning on the door.

‘What is he doing here?! I thought I would only need to watch out for the Trollhunter at night but now there are CHANGELINGS in Arcadia?! What should I do?’ – he groaned ad slid a hand down his face.

He spotted the groceries in the plastic bag and carefully stood up.

“Welp! No need to be brooding over it right now. Time to cook!” – he always relaxed with cooking.

Soon he had a whole dinner prepared. Fresh cabbage salad, pork with potatoes in the oven, plate of sliced fruit with ice cream in the freezer and a few empty soda cans for him. His ear twitched when he heard the car parking.

“I’m home!” – Barbara said as she entered the house.

“Welcome back!”

“Mmm! It smells incredible!” – she took off her shoes and jacket.

“I know. I tried something new today. I hope it’s as delicious as it smells.” – he said and peeked out of the kitchen.

Barbara smiled, seeing the troll donning an extra-large white and red apron that looked too small on his chest

It always amazed her how things had changed for her during the past few years. From an ordinary woman that thought magic existed only in books to someone that had daily interactions with it, due to housing a teenage troll in her home. In fact, she could not imagine what her life might have been without Jim. She had gotten so used to his tall form or human disguise being in the house that she got worried when he wasn’t there.

She went to help him with the plates but he ushered her to sit on the dining table. Plate after plate was placed in front of their seats. After that Jim took off the apron and transformed into his human form (small Jim). They ate, talked about their day, joked a bit. Barbara laughed at the flushed face of Jim when he told her about the video game.

“S-stop laughing! It’s not funny mom!”

“Sorry, sorry. It’s just… you know, being so good in so much things and barely being able to play video games is a bit funny…hehe.”

He pouted and bit into some baked potatoes. At that moment Barbara bit her lip and decided to speak.

“Jim, you know that human children go to school, right?”

“Yeah. Toby told me how he was going this year. Why are you asking.”

“According to the documents I registered you with, God, I still can’t believe how easy I managed that, you are seven. And since you are seven and we don’t want anyone from Social services come knocking on our door… You are starting 1st grade this September!” – she smiled.

“WHAT?!!” – he was so surprised he almost fell off the chair.

“Surprise?” – she said awkwardly.

At that moment Jim looked as if his dinner had sprouted legs and had uppercutted him.

===Meanwhile in Trollmarket===

“What’s troubling you, Kanjigar?” – Vendel asked.

They were currently in the library due to it being quieter and because Kanjigar looked like someone was hammering his skull with a Warhammer.

“I don’t know… I just have this feeling that something is happening here. Well… not here in Trollmarket but in the human city above and nearby.” – he sighed and rubbed his forehead.

Vendel looked at him with his usual skeptical look. Neither of them noticed the 6 eyes watching them secretly.

“As you know, we’ve had several unconfirmed sightings of Bular in the nearby area, not to mention quite a bit of Goblins scuttling around the city. Last night I saw 3 run across the street.”

“I don’t see what’s so alarming about that.”

“You don’t understand Vendel. I’ve also had dreams. Dreams about the past, about Killahead bridge…”

===Dream===

It was almost entirely black around Kanjigar. There were noises of battle, blades clashing and claws scraping stone flesh. Suddenly he’s back at Killahead but realizes that he’s suddenly without his armor. Almost everything seems foggy and unfocused, everything except him and Deya.

He knows what would happen. Gunmar would be defeated and the world would be safe. A roar of rage interrupts him as the blurry body of a Gumm-Gumm. He blocks him and throws the enemy away. Suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he notices a bunch of whelps scatter, running away from their hiding spot. The Gumm-Gumm he threw had crashed in their hiding spot. He knew they were probably the young of some Gumm-Gumms because their whelps stayed at home, where it was safer, watched over by the elderly and those that can’t fight anymore. He was appalled by the fact that there were children on the battlefield but he couldn’t allow himself to be distracted. He turned around, preparing to fight.

A shocking, glowing blue eyes. – He saw them glance at him for less than a second before disappearing.

He was then sucked back through a swirling tunnel of gray smoke before waking up.

===end===

“I’ve been having this dream for a few days now.” – Kanjigar finished his tale.

“That’s – “– Vendel began.

“Aha! It must be a sign!” – Blinky jumped out of his hiding spot and rushed to search through the collection of books while muttering.

“Blinkous! What are you doing here?!” – Vendel stood up.

“I… might have overheard some things…” Vendel scowled and Blinky flinched a bit “… Don’t you see it Vendel? This is a sign. An insight to the future! Master Kanjigar having this feeling and dreams so often MUST mean that something there is important and HAS to be seen! As you might know there have been quite a few prophet- “

“Enough! Stop with your ridiculous theories and conspiracies. Last moth you insisted there was a ghost in the market but it turned out to be a Gnome stuck in a jar. Now, if you’d please leave us alone for a while.” – he gestured at the door.

“B-But there must be-“

“OUT!”

Blinky sulked but obeyed, leaving the two trolls alone, this time for real. They stayed in silence, only Vendel sipping from a cup here and there interrupted it. Kanjigar on the other hand couldn’t stop thinking about Blinky’s words and those familiar, way too familiar, blue eyes.

‘What does this all mean? Is this dream really related to the future in some way?’ – he wondered even as he headed out on his routine patrol around Trollmarket and the city above.

Chapter Text

(AN: In my country 1st to 4th grade stay at school up until 4-5 in the afternoon. It’s selective but most do it because their parents are busy. I quit in 2nd grade.)

“talking”

‘thinking’

“trollspeak?”

[message]

Modern Jim: After living with Barbara for a while and her cracking his ‘serious adult’ mask, he begins to act a bit more like a teen but not quite. At least he relaxes enough to have simple, meaningless fun with Toby. He has upgraded his wardrobe. He got some cloth and sewed himself some pants, shorts, shirts, more comfortable and elastic underwear, he even made some T-shirts with his favorite logos. Nana has also gifted him some clothes but they were too small to wear, so he made bigger versions of them to wear and gave them to charity.

P.S: He looks great in Christmas sweaters!

=========================

“This is unfair! I have acquired knowledge about the modern age and am able to function on my own! Why should I go to school again?!” – Jim was fuming on the backseat of Barbara’s car.

“I know but it has to be done. Education is mandatory in modern times.” – she looked at him apologetically.

“I know! It’s just annoying. I know all these stuff and even more, so I find it pointless.”

“Hey, at least you’ll be in one class with Toby! That’s good, right?”

“Y-yeah… I guess. He’s interesting at least, for a human child…” – he was embarrassed to say it out loud.

He liked Toby, really liked him, and was a bit embarrassed to admit he wanted the company, so Jim ‘agreed to play with Toby after a lot of persuasion’.

She stopped the car in front of the school gate.

“We’re here. Jim, please, just try it and listen to your teachers. I know it must be hard but…”

“Ah. No, no… I’ll be fine. Truth is, I have been studying on my own after my teacher died.”

“Your teacher?”

“Yeah, she was a great with and the others in the settlement accepted me. In the end, she aged, like all humans and died.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Ah. Don’t be! This happened even before your grandparents were planned! Also, she’d probably hit me with her staff if she saw me moping.” – he laughed it off, even Barbara chuckled a bit at the image of a woman hitting someone like Jim with a staff.

Barbara sent him to school and left for work that day. Jim, on the other hand, just stood there in the hall. He hated to admit it that he was a bit nervous. Going from almost hermit-like lifestyle to a public school was a hard transition. A door opens and a familiar chubby boy exits it. He immediately brightens up.

“Jimbo! You are also here!” – Toby hugged him and he awkwardly returned the gesture.

“You are also here…”

“Yes, of course I am! So! In which class are you? I’m in class B!”

“Um…I’m also in class B?” – he was a bit unsure.

“That’s great! We’ll be together!” – Toby then dragged Jim in the classroom.

Soon the bell rang and Jim was seated with other 1st graders as the teacher introduced herself.

“Hello kids! Nice to meet you! I’m miss Hopkins and I’ll be your teacher.” – she smiled.

“” Hello miss Hopkins!”” – the class said at once and Jim parroted.

“Now! I know it’s the first day but I have a fun task for you. Now, let’s all write the alphabet together!” – she smiled brightly and bulled a pen from her pocket.

The kids shuffled to get notebooks and pens out of their bags and Jim barely managed to suppress a groan. He wanted to bang his head in the desk and utter every curse and profanity he had learned in his life but couldn’t. People would look at him strangely because he was ‘speaking tongues’ and he’d probably break the fragile desk with his forehead.

‘These first years ARE going to be hell!’ – he thought.

===Time skip===

“It’s OVEEEEER!” – Jim shouted in pure happiness as he came home.

“Hi dear!” Barbara greeted from the kitchen “How was school?” – she asked out of habit.

“Do you even need to ask? Boring! Like always. I know all these stuff, so I’m not only wasting time but I also think I’m losing brain cells!” – he said half-serious and half-jokingly.

He got the shoes off and threw the backpack on the floor as he approached the kitchen. Jim entered and a nasty (for humans at least) smell hit him in the face. Barbara had been trying to salvage whatever was left of the thing she was cooking.

“Sigh… Don’t bother fixing it. I’ll eat it with the pan and make you something before I go out.” – he said and transformed into an older form of himself.

“You are going out tonight? I though you didn’t like going out at night due to the risk.” – she was curious but left him deal with the disaster.

He opened the window and removed the ban from the stove. He then began preparing her dinner. A simple salad, and stuffed potatoes in the oven. He even made lunch for tomorrow, one for her, him and Toby. She smiled at the small gesture her son did for his friend.

“So, what happened? You look a bit more stressed and I guess that’s the reason you want to go out during the night.” – she said as she prepared the table.

“It’s just… I’m really pissed off. The older kids made fun of Toby’s weight, how some teachers would look strangely at me, just because I’ve not been to a kindergarten and how some kids said I’m so scrawny because I don’t have a father! It just made me SO mad!” – he grit his teeth and squeezed the fridge’s handle.

Barbara was glad he was in human form because she’d have to replace the handle otherwise.

“Don’t take their words seriously! I’ve worked with teens and I know how their minds work, so I’m going to do my best to help you get rid of this stress.” – she said all professionally.

“I KNOW that I shouldn’t listen to them but, damn, even YOU are younger than me, mom! It feels a bit wrong, you know…”

“Hey, Jim, don’t worry about minor details like that. I bet those kids would have been scared if they saw you- “

“I KNOW!!” he shouted and immediately regretted it due to the look on Barbara’s face “I’m sorry… I know that, but it’s just…”

“You don’t like to mention either your father and brother.” She put a hand on his shoulder “Trust me, I know how it is. My parents won’t visit me because I married James and they didn’t like him. I sometimes regret not listening to them but then, I wouldn’t have met you. You are now part of MY family and that won’t change, no matter what!” – she squeezed and he transformed.

This showed her just how emotional he was about it. Strong emotions would always make him transform unwillingly. He was getting better but this still was a problem for him.

“No, you were right. They will be scared if they saw how I really look. The same would probably happen with other trolls OR they’ll get angry and attack me.” – he said, continuing his preparations for dinner.

The potatoes still needed time to bake, so he put a timer and walked out of the kitchen. Barbara followed him and saw him swish his hand, point it at the curtains in the living room and they closed on their own.

‘No, with magic. He doesn’t use it a lot so it’s sometimes easy to forget he can do it. It’s still surprising how there’s magic for closing curtains.’

He sat on the sofa and it creaked. He winced and looked at her.

“Hey, do you think I’d need to go and find myself a new couch? I don’t think this one would last long with me sitting on it.” – he tried to shift the conversation.

“Maybe, but let’s talk about how YOU feel. I know tat teens especially shouldn’t bottle up their emotions.”

“I know they probably talked about James but when those kids said ‘your father’, my mind flashed to MY father. How he was looming over fallen trolls and either slaying them with no mercy or worse, turning them into his puppets.”

“Hey, don’t worry. Your dad’s in those Dark-lands you mentioned, right? Also, you had nothing to do with it, nor you could do anything about it.”

“Yes, but I was literally MADE for this… this war! I was taught, trained and raised to be the perfect warrior and fight alongside my father and brother. I ATE human meat! They’d even praise me and say just how much I was like my family, and they were right. I DO look like my father a lot. I have similar built body, just more agile and with longer legs. The same color, even my eyes glow the same way as his! I fear… I fear that the only way for me to ever belong is to lie about who I am.” – he gripped his horns and stared at the carpet.

“Come on, how many times do I have to tell you the same thing?” she huffed “I know that getting out of your family’s shadow isn’t easy and I can’t even begin to fathom how troll things work but I know it’s going to be hard. You are you and not some clone of your father. It’s going to get to a point where someday you will have to prove the others who you are really. It’s going to be hard but don’t give up! Living alone must have been hard…”

The atmosphere got awkward but the timer dinged and made Jim stand up.

“I’m going to get the food out and serve it. You can, come and eat, not immediately, if you don’t want to… Yep, I’m going!” – he smiled a toothy smile, tusks and sharp teeth showing as he headed for the kitchen.

………………………..

They ate in relative silence. Barbara enjoyed the potatoes and Jim chowed on the ruined pan.

“Haha… My food seems to be perfect for trolls, am I right?” – she couldn’t quite laugh at her own joke.

“Yeah, it’s not bad.” – he muttered and chowed down the whole handle.

Barbara looked at her plate and Jim gulped loudly, licking his teeth to get rid of any leftover bits.

“I’m going out for a while.” – he stood up from his seat, a pillow on the floor.

“OK. Just- just don’t get into too much trouble.” - she looked at him, worry in her eyes.

“Don’t worry, I won’t. In fact, I do everything I can NOT to get in trouble!”

He walked out of the back door and headed into the woods. He was feeling quite stressed and restless lately, so when he was far enough into the woods, he took off his shirt, pants and shoes, leaving him in dark blue shorts. He felt too confined in them, despite making them to be comfortable and fit him well. Jim was going to burn out some stress and didn’t want anything to bother him. He hung them on a branch. He stretched, popping his neck and ran into the dark woods, his dark living stone making him almost invisible, only glowing blue eyes gave out his position.

Trees blurred as he darted through the forests of Arcadia. He LOVED the feeling and it reminded him of the past, his long treks through the mountains and great plains of America. His eyes spotted a small clearing on a hill nearby, so he headed to there, jumping over rocks and even swinging around a tree, leaving scratch marks on the trunk. Jim was in the clearing in under 5 minutes. He jumped over a fallen log and landed on all fours with a loud thump. He stood up and dusted his palms, frowning.

‘I still feel restless. Maybe I should exercise some more.’

Jim looked around the clearing and went into a resting position. After that he began to do a series of stretches, cardio and other exercises he’d seen on TV. He smiled as all his joints and limbs were stretched and moved, free of the confined space he had in the house. Slowly but surely his exercises turned from simple stretches to more complex acrobatics, flips, turns, rolls and jumps. He darted all over the clearing and nearby trees, displaying his above-average agility for trolls, especially ones his size.

After a while, you could hear loud noises and crashes from the clearing. Now Jim was long past the cautious phase, in fact, caution has been thrown out of the window. He temporarily decided to shut part of his brain off and went into a familiar routine, one he still did after all this time. He lifted stones as weights and was currently bench-pressing a boulder his size.

“…Ninety-nine… hundred!” he threw the rock to his left and stood up, rolling his shoulders “Ooh… this feels great!”

His arms were staring to burn but nowhere near what was enough for him. He then started breaking rocks with his legs and arms, he threw branches and broken trees. Jim stopped at one point and lifted a thick and sturdy branch.

‘Hmm… about the right size, so maybe…’

He swung the branch around with one arm and entered a stance. Feed wide, not in one line, around the same distance away as his shoulders. He leaned forward and slashed with the branch. It made a *fwuip* sound as it went through the air. He pulled back, leaning to the side, a quick step, spin and another slash. It hits the ground and grass mixed with dirt is sent flying. He continues like that for a while but his frown deepens.

“Grr…” he growls “This is stupid! I’m way too rusty! Four hundred years with only daggers… why did I even think this would work?!” – he grumbled to himself.

He then broke the branch in two with one clean knee hit and threw the pieces away. He was frustrated and kicked a boulder next to him. It barely shook and it irked him for some reason. He glared at the inanimate object and suddenly slammed his horns in it. He went on all fours and started pushing the boulder forward. His claws dug into the dirt as he pushed on. Soon he was moving forward, the boulder was leaving a relatively deep gouge as it was pushed by the juvenile troll. This struggle continued for a while, until he had pushed it to the opposite end of the clearing. Jim finally stood up with a slightly smug look, as if saying to the rock that he’s stronger than it.

‘What am I doing?! This is stupid!’ – he snaps himself out of it.

Jim places a clawed hand on the boulder and looks around the clearing, seeing the damage he’s done.

‘Just like in the past…’

There’s rustling in the foliage a few tens of meters down the hill he was on. He sees flashlight light and voices.

“I heard the noise from up here!” – a deep, masculine voice says, the flashlight pointing in Jim’s direction.

“I’m not too sure Hank. With your monster hunting and all… I think you spend too much time in these woods.” – a squeakier male voice says back.

“Shush! I know that this may sound strange to normies but trust me! In these past few months there had been sightings around Arcadia and I’m sure there’s some creature in these woods. I’ll take a picture of it and will get rich!”

“Yeah, but if the monster is real, how will you make sure we’re not dead?!”

“I have a teaser and pepper spray. Everything is fine!”

Jim decides to bolt but couldn’t hold back a snicker. Those men were probably talking about trolls, so pepper-spraying them would at most enrage them and teasers didn’t work on rock very well. You’d need something MUCH more powerful for it to work. He ran through the woods but could still faintly hear the shouts of the two men, as they had probably found the clearing.

……………………………………………..

Jim stopped and panted. He looked around but the tall trees were obscuring his view, so he found a thick one near him and climbed it. He was careful but still tensed when a branch would bend too much or a twig would snap. Finally, he was high enough to see where exactly he was. It was surprising to see that he’d ran in the opposite direction and was in the other end of town.

‘I guess I deserved it.’ he looks at the sky ‘Around 4 in the morning… I should head back.’

He jumped down and whipped his head to his right. He squinted at the foliage but after seeing nothing, he turned around and ran. His paranoia was screaming at him, so as he was running away, he ducked behind a bush, made sure there was nowhere around and transformed into a 30+ year old man with jogging clothes on. He quickly entered the park and continued his ‘daily jog’ for the morning. He passed by the canal and shivered, not in an unpleasant way though. Even through all the layers of rock and dirt, he could faintly feel the Heartstone. He smiled and continued to his home, feeling nice, despite how tired he felt.

‘I should get my clothes back, clean myself and make breakfast… Tomorrow’s a weekend, so I can sleep until I want!’

…………………………

Barbara woke up to the smell of French toast and heavy feet making their way up the stairs. She was just sitting up when Jim opened the door.

“Good morning.” – she yawned.

“Good morning. I made you breakfast.”

“You not going to eat?”

“No, I’m spent! I worked myself last night, so I’m going to crash on my bed and sleep for the rest of the day, probably.”

“OK. Just don’t make a hole in the floor!” – she joked.

“Hey! It wasn’t my fault that bed frame was faulty!” – he placed the tray on her bedside cabinet.

She smelled lavender from him and could see how his fur was a bit damp, oh she realized he didn’t have a shirt on.

“Good dreams Jim!” – she wished.

“Have a nice day, mom. Oh, if Toby comes, tell him something. I’m not in a condition to go out and keep my magic stable while playing.”

“I will.”

He closed the door and after a while she heard the thump of Jim flopping down his bedding on the floor. The bed frame that was in the room before he came in broke after he sat on it, so he opted to sleep on the floor with the mattress underneath him. She then giggled.

‘Why am I always asleep or without a phone then he uses the shower? It was so funny the first time I saw him awkwardly washing himself in the bathroom. The shower barely reached his shoulders! Hehe.’

===Meanwhile during the same night===

Blinky was packing a few essential things in his bag. He was going out, alone to look for evidence and maybe find a snack. Vendel didn’t want to believe him, so he was going to prove his point and shove the truth in Vendel’s face if needed to!

“I have to do this! Alone.”

He snuck out, putting a cloak on and making sure no one saw him do so. He used the Horngazel to open a doorway and ran out.

Blinky was now in the outer parts of town. He had searched the streets, doing his best to stay hidden and away from well-lit places. He had found close to no traces of proof that Kanjigar’s dream was somewhat prophetic. However, he had almost squished a goblin that had scuttled a bit too close to him while he was sneaking around.

‘Maybe there really is noth- No! I believe there IS something around here! It’s important! I can feel it in my horns.’

He slowly made his way through one of Arcadia’s many parks and entered the woods. It was a smooth transition that went almost unnoticed. It wasn’t even midnight, so Blinky had high hopes to find at least something. Kanjigar was out on his nightly patrols, so he had time until early morning to bet back without anyone noticing, well AARRRGH might notice something but it was unlikely for him to report it if Blinky was back before sunrise.

…………………………………

Blinky wanders around some more before he notices something. There are traces of troll, a rather big one, passing quickly through the forest, judging by the broken branches and squashed grass. He followed the trail. He got ready for a surprise attack and put one of his four hands on the handle of the Horngazel, making sure it was there, in case he needed a quick escape or a place to hide.

The trail stopped around 30 or so meters in front of him and that made Blinky stop. He strained his ears to listen and then he heard it. A small snap of a twig from above. A few leaves fall down from the oak the trail led to. He had enough time to spot a large figure up on the tree before it jumped down. Blinky ducked behind a tree and was very grateful for the wind not blowing.

‘Thank Gorgus for the thick foliage!’ – he thought as he stilled in his hiding spot.

He waited for even the slightest indication he’d been found. He heard a snort and the sound of running, the steps getting farther from his spot.

‘By Deya’s grace! I am alive!’ Blinky rejoiced ‘I have to warn everybody!’

Blinky stood yp and jogged back to the canal. He had to wait for a human, ‘jogger’ he believed was the term, to go by before opening the portal.

……………………………………

“Vendel! Listen to me! I have-“

Vendel winced when Blinky shouted while running towards him. Several trolls turned around and looked at them.

“Blinkous, what is this all about?” – he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Bular IS in Arcadia!”

“What?!” – the crowd became restless, murmurs spreading among trolls.

“I was outside, in the forest, when- “– Blinky was interrupted by Vendel raising his hand.

“And why were you even outside?

“I went out to check my suspicions about master Kanjigar’s recent dreams. At first I found nothing but then I found a trail left by a rather big troll, so I followed. Then I saw Bular!”

“And how are you here, then? After supposedly meeting Bular.”

“Well, I didn’t meet him. It was more of a brief glimpse but I’m SURE it must have been him! As far as I know there are no other Gumm-Gumms outside of the Darklands- “

“So, you not only don’t have proof, but also saw only a glimpse of said troll and just speculate it’s Bular?”

“I may not have proof but I am sure Bular’s arrived in Arcadia!” – Blinky stood up and didn’t back down.

“This is ridiculous! I advise you to stop spreading baseless rumors and chaos in Trollmarket.” – Vendel scolded the historian.

“No, Vendel, he’s telling the truth!” – Kanjigar’s voice booms from behind the crowd.

They make way for the Trollhunter. Kanjigar approached the two and they could see he looked tired.

“What happened?” – Blinky asked, he hadn’t seen Kanjigar so tired for a long time now.

“I met Bular today.” Everyone gasped, Blinky said AHA “I was on a patrol and saw him, I chased him, we fought but he retreated when dawn approached. There’s no doubt now that Bular IS here, so I ask of you to be extremely careful when going out.”

“We will. Now, come with me to check for any injuries.” – Vendel motioned Kanjigar to follow him.

Everyone got back to their work and Blinky collapsed on a chair in his library, tired of the adventure but also excited. After a short rest, he’d write this down.

………………………………..

Time continued its course and no one realized how the fates of so many people and trolls were starting to tie together. Sooner or later, he’d return and shatter everything that’s been the norm for centuries.

====

Here's a rough map showing everyone's path, if you are confused:

Chapter Text

There are a few minor changes to Jim’s room. His curtains a bigger and thicker so he won’t get sun-stained when he’s sleeping in his troll form. Because a bed won’t be able to fit him, he sleeps on a mattress on the floor with a few pillows and blankets. His real study is still in the basement but a few of his books on magic had found their place in Barbara’s room. She was very interested in them but doesn’t have the time to read them, nor learn Celtic, Arabian or other old languages.

===============================

BEEPBEEPBEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

The shrill cry of the alarm clock woke Jim from his slumber. He groaned and slowly rose up. A magazine about cars and bikes falling off his face.

“Stupid alarm…” – Jim grumbled and rose u from his mattress.

They had purposefully moved the clock in the opposite end of the room after Jim had smashed a few with his stony arms.

He slowly made his way to the beeping device and pressed the snooze button gently with his clawed finger. After the annoying screeching was gone, he stretched and yawned. A quick shower later he was refreshed and ready to start the day. He felt no need to transform just yet and shook himself before getting out of the shower. Water flew around but at least his hair and back wasn’t dripping wet. The troll carefully made his way down the stairs, making sure not to wake up his adoptive mother.

‘Let’s get cooking!’ – he smiled as he entered the kitchen.

It was his place and he could always relax in it. Despite his size and superhuman strength, he was very careful while cooking. The sight of him in the human-sized kitchen, cooking like some woman would have made his father so furious that he would have been grinded to dust a million times over.

‘I hope it never gets to that, ever!’ – he thinks as he pulls out a frying pan.

……………………………………………………

The 3 lunches were packed, Barbara’s breakfast was on the nightstand and Jim was ready for school. He transformed into his current and closest to his actual age human form. A tall and lanky teen with black hair, blue eyes and fair skin.

“Stupid Goblins…” – Jim grumbled when he saw the spilled trash and obvious traces of Goblins.

“Hey! Jimbo! How’re you?” – Toby came just as Jim was butting the trash back.

“Nothing much. Just some stupid raccoons ruining my morning.” Jim slammed the lid with a bit more force than he intended “How about you Tobes? Anything interesting happening to you?”

“Nothing much. Although I DID beat the last boss in Gun Robo last night with a perfect score.”

“Wow! That’s amazing.” – Jim put on a helmet.

“Not that much. It’s not like everyone is as bad at video games as you.” – Toby teased lightheartedly.

“Haha! Good one Tobes! It’s not my fault those controllers are SO hard to use! But at least I don’t get 0 scores anymore.” – he gave a paper bag to his friend.

“Oooh! Special meatloaf sandwich for lunch~. Jimbo! Why do you always make it so much harder for me! I’m on a diet and you give me the Holy Grail of food!” – Toby tried to give the bag back.

“Come on Tobes! You’ve been on a diet for 14 years! Also, this IS healthy and good for you, so accept it.” – Jim pushed the bag.

“I guess you are right…” – he stuffed the sandwich in his backpack.

“Let’s hurry or we’ll be late. We don’t want this just after beginning school, right?” – Jim got on his bicycle and sped up.

“Wait for me!” – Toby followed with everything he got.

Jim knew that if he went all out, his friend would be left in the dust… and probably some police officer would try and arrest him for driving a ‘motorcycle’ in the cyclist lane. He slowed down and allowed the chubbier boy catch up to him.

…………………………………..

Jim arrived in school on time and settled for the day. Everything went well. He knew most of the things but was pleased that at least there are a few new things he could learn in Highschool.

‘Oh! This in new. I didn’t know they made such change in the past 20 years.’ – like the earnest student he was, Jim scribbled the new information in his notebook.

He enjoyed the first school day…until History came. And surprise! Strickler was the teacher. Jim’s hairs bristled but he bit down on his lip and entered the classroom like it was natural.

“Hello students, I am Walter Strickler – your History teacher. For your stay in Arcadia Oaks high, we’ll study the mysteries of history. I hope we all get along in this class.”

Jim didn’t look at Strickler and opted to look at his desk, like it was the most interesting thing in the room.

“Now, as it’s your first school day, let’s do something not too hard. Let us review what you learned in previous years.” – Strickler either didn’t notice or decided to ignore Jim’s behavior and continued with his class.

……………………………….

History was over and Jim exited the classroom, Toby hurried after him.

“Jimbo! Wait!” – Toby shouted.

Jim huffed but stopped and waited for his friend.

“Haaa… Finally caught up to you.” Toby took a breath and rested for a moment “What happened back there?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” – Jim tried to dodge the bullet.

“Your Jedi trick don’t work on me!” Jim stared at Toby “Sorry, Jimbo! But seriously, what was that back in History? I know you and you looked like you were barely holding yourself back. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong! Don’t worry. I will be fine.”

“Really? Are you 100% sure? Nothing has happened between you and Strickler before school, hasn’t it?” – Toby sounded a bit skeptical.

At that moment Jim had a flashback, remembering the few times Stricklander and he met in the past. How the Changeling would cower in front of his father and brother, how he’d do their bidding without a protest. Changelings would always stay away of the main camp if they didn’t want to possibly get killed. Stricklander was one of the few that did get in but Jim didn’t have a good impression left from the few times they’d met.

“Nah. Nothing serious happened. Let’s go or we’ll be late for next class. PE!” – Jim sounded scared to death, which earned him a light punch from Toby.

This time he managed to play it off but he had to be more careful next time. The troll in disguise felt as if he was walking on thin ice. Jim knew what the Changelings wanted and a probable reason for why Stricklander was in Arcadia. Dodging not only the Trollhunter and other trolls but also changelings… it was becoming too risky. He had been running away from his past for centuries and the idea of being found by his father’s servants was as pleasant as being beheaded by the Trollhunter for being Gunmar’s spawn.

Jim could just leave, like he always did. Pack his trusty backpack, cover his tracks and leave for Canada or something. What was different this time? The answer was simple – FAMILY. Unlike before, he had a family. Barbara Lake had become the mother he never had while growing up among the Gumm-Gumms. Toby and Nana had become the brother/best friend and grandmother he always wanted but was forbidden to have because they would become a weakness. He couldn’t even think of leaving them behind, nor could he just ask them to just abandon their lives in Arcadia and come with him. Nana was also old, so it would be even harder for her to follow them. So, for the first time since that night, Jim didn’t run, he decided to stay and protect his family from whatever the Changelings threw at him.

===Time skip===

It was another quiet night in Arcadia. Most people were sound asleep, not aware of the evil living in their town. Meanwhile in the museum…

“That’s the 4th one! The 4th one Bular!” – Strickler paced in front of the vicious troll.

“Shut up, Impure! That fool was unfortunate enough to see me, so I disposed of him.”

Bular was sitting on a crate, cleaning his claws from dirt and dried blood, while also checking their sharpness. His companions weren’t so calm. The goblins had pulled away; Nomura was leaning on a wall but looked very uncomfortable.

“How am I going to explain this?  You can’t just eat humans here and there!”

“Can’t you just do one your ‘covering ups’? It’s not your first time.” – Bular growled.

“We can. But too many people disappearing will attract unwanted attention and- “

“Listen to me, Impure! I already don’t eat the fleshbags working here, so you should be grateful.” – Bular interrupted.

“Yes, but…”

Bular glared and growled threateningly at the changeling. That shut Strickler up and made Nomura tense just in case it became too dangerous in the room.

“Now, I am going to take the amulet. Don’t follow me.” – Bular stood up and headed for the door.

“But Bular- “

“GRRRRRRR!” everyone froze as he almost roared “The night is still new and I refuse to stay here just because of the snack I had while coming to oversee the bridge’s reconstruction! I won’t be wasting time here, waiting, while I can go and take the amulet, ripping it from the Trollhunter with my own hands.”

Bular exited the museum and was soon on a hunt for the Trollhunter.

“Well… This went better than I expected and not even a single exhibit was damaged!” – Nomura finally spoke.

“Can you pleases, not talk to me right now. I have a work to do.” – Strickler massaged his forehead.

=With Kanjigar=

Kanjigar the Courageous, current Trollhunter, was patrolling the outskirts of Arcadia. It was another night, almost like every other. He expected to soon return back to Trollmarket and rest a bit before returning back to his duty, maybe having a look at his son’s training. Maybe a rogue gnome or two, even Bagdwella calling him for some errand or just to watch him as he helps her reach some item she claims is too high for her. It would have been normal if it wasn’t for the tense feeling in his shoulders and that was never good.

He had learned long ago to trust his instincts and despite what Vendel said, he believed Blinky. His dreams were becoming more and more frequent and more vivid to not be some sort of premonition.

Was he forgetting something important? Those glowing blue eyes…Were they Gunmar’s? No! He was fighting Deya. Then whose were they? Did it have other meaning, for example- Gunmar coming back?

His musings were interrupted by a thumping noise. As if something big and heavy was running. Kanjigar summoned Daylight and readied himself.

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” – from the shadow jumped Bular, slashing down with his two blades.

Kanjigar was fast and blocked the attack. He skidded a few meters due to the force of impact. He was face to face with Bular’s vicious expression. The black troll pushed harder.

“Not bad, Kanjigar.” He chuckled evilly “Let me have the pleasure of taking the amulet from your dead body!”

Bular pulled back for an instant and swung his right blade low, aiming for the legs. The Trollhunter saw that and jumped backwards. Sword right hand and steadying himself with his right. Kanjigar looked around.

They were in the outer parts of town but too close to human dwellings for the Hunter’s taste, so he retreated.

“Wait! Don’t run! Have you become a coward, Kanjigar?!” – Bular shouted as he followed behind, a shining armor wasn’t that good for stealth.

Kanjigar made sure to not lose sight of his pursuer for too long as he led him towards an area safer for battle. Even now, Kanjigar won’t risk Trollkind to be discovered by humans. They reached the canal. Kanjigar jumped down and rolled a few times before rising on his legs.

“Finally giving up on running, huh?” – Bular taunted as he approached, his blades glinting in the moonlight.

“A Trollhunter never runs from a battle, Bular. We fight with honor!”

It was a stand-off. Neither of them even blinked as they circled eachother, waiting for a moment to strike. Then, Bular laughs.

“HA! I can’t wait to see how honorably you get that amulet ripped out of your hands when I’m done with you.”

They both halted for a second and lunged at each other. Blades clashed and sparks flew as the two warriors fought. By now, there was no doubt ………………….. this was a matter of life and death. That night one of them has to triumph and who does, will decide in which direction the future will head towards.

=Next day, Lake residence=

He rose up, groggy, half-asleep and with a serious case of bed hair.

“Good morning!” – Barbara barged into Jim’s room.

“Grah!” – he jumped up due to the sudden entrance.

Thunk! – his horn tips pierced the ceiling.

“Ugh… It’s too early for this.” – Jim groaned and carefully pilled them out, deciding to fix the holes the next time he has free time.

“Oh! I am sorry.” – she apologized.

“No need to do that, mom. What are you doing here? I thought you’d be in bed by now.”

“I will but decided to make something special for you.” – she presents him with a plate of burned toast and bacon.

“There was no need to.” – he accepted it either way.

“No. I was held back at work and came back just a while ago, so it’s not that big of a problem.”

“You are the best.” – he smiled at her.

“Now, I’m going to go and collapse in bed. Have a nice day at school!” – she turned around.

“Sweet dreams mom!”

“I hope so!”

Jim was ready in a few minutes and went to prepare lunches. A healthy chicken sandwich was put in each of the 3 paper bags and an omelette was put in the fridge for Barbara to re-heat later. Jim took out his bike and groaned immediately. The trash had been spilled, yet again!

“Damn it! It’s almost like those damn things have it out for m- oh! It really IS raccoons this time!” – he was surprised as he didn’t catch any goblin smell this time.

“Hey!” Toby called as he pushed his bike across the street “Raccoons again?”

“Yeah. Here’s your lunch.” – Jim handed him a paper bag.

“Ooo! A chicken sandwich with…” Toby took a whiff “Tomatoes, lettuce, onions and… is that home-made mayo I smell?”

“Yup. Made it yesterday.”

“Wow. Chef Jim is getting better and better! You should totally open a shop. Your food would sell like fresh cookies!”

“Yeah. I may open one in a 100 years or so. Now come on, we’ll have plenty of time once we get to school.”

The two boys rode their bikes towards the school, not in a hurry because they had plenty of time. As Jim was enjoying the morning air while he rode his bike across the bridge, he noticed a flash of blue.

Before he could react or even fathom what it was, something hard slammed into his head, thankfully he had his helmet on. The force, however, was enough to make him fall over. He tumbled on the ground with his bike. Toby noticed it and managed to press the brakes before he ran into Jim. Bike screeched to a halt and the ginger almost hell to his right side.

“Ugh! Who threw that?!” – Jim looked around but saw nothing.

If there was no one on the bridge, then it must have come from somewhere else. Jim looked down towards the canal and saw a pile of rubble.

‘No…NO! It can’t be!!!’

Troll remains and the scent he didn’t want to smell ever again- his brother.

“Wow! Jimbo, look at this!” – Toby called excitedly.

Jim looked back and saw his friend holding a very familiar amulet, waving it in the air. Dread gripped his heart. This had hit him in the head.

“What do you think it is? It looks like some sort of strange pocket watch. Could it be some sort of toy or a lost antique?”

“Come on Tobes, let’s get to school first, then we can give it to lost and found.” –Jim took the amulet and went to get his bike.

The chubby boy accepted his bestie’s reasoning and got in his bike. Jim secretly threw the amulet down, hoping that it hadn’t done what he thought it did and leave it for one of the Trollmarket trolls to find it. It would certainly be easier to recover it from the canal than the police station where a Changeling could get it at any time.

………………………….

School was about to start and Jim was looking through his backpack for a pen when he noticed the blue glow. He almost groaned and hit his head on the desk.

‘Oh, Gorgus… Why me?! Can’t this stupid thing have chosen, I don’t know, one of the other trolls in the area? There’s a WHOLE city full of them and you!’ he glares at the amulet ‘You chose me! Gunmar’s son to protect them. If they find out…I’d be dead. No, I would probably captured and executed publically in order for the next Troll hunter to be chosen. I’m DOOMED!!’

The bell rand and everything continued normally, until lunch break.

“I tell you, I saw them this morning.” -  Eli was being stuffed in his locker by Steve.

“Yeah. Like there are giant monsters made out of stone, walking around Arcadia. Quit with your daydreaming Pepperjack and maybe you won’t have your ass shoved in lockers as often.” – Steve pushed harderand finally stuffed Eli in, his two cronies laughing.

“But it’s true!”

“Just shut up and stay in there with your monsters!” – Steve slammed the locker door.

‘Haha… If only you knew you had one of these imaginary monsters just a few steps behind you…’ – Jim mused as he and Toby passed by.

“Ugh! Steve is bullying Eli again.”

“Yeah…”

Jim and Toby stared as the 3 jocks laughed at Eli and banged on the locker door. Something within Jim stirred. He remembered his childhood, while he was still a whelp that had just started walking on his own two feet. He had been a bit scrawny back then and didn’t look like his family as much as he did now. Gunmar had a war to wage and had no time to raise a young whelp and with his mother gone, he had been left on his own with the other whelps the Gumm-Gumms had taken. He wasn’t as strong and the older and bigger ones pushed him around and stole his food. He had eventually grown up and could fend for himself but those years of bullying weren’t nice. He knew this may put him in trouble but he couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Let him go Steve. He did nothing to offend you.”

“Shut up Lake! Or you’ll be sorry.”

“No, I won’t! Let him go Steve.  – Jim kept his cool and that irked Steve.

“Yeah! Let him go! Let him go! Let him go!” – Toby backed him up.

Soon the whole yard began to chant with Toby. Steve balled his fists.

“Fine!” he banged on the locker once more but opened the door “Don’t think this is over Lake! You, me, this Friday, after school. We’ll settle this. Don’t be late.” – he pushed past Jim and entered school.

“Are you OK?” – Jim and Toby helped Eli get out of the locker.

“Yeah, thanks for helping me.”

“No problem! Jimbo, my man! I didn’t expect you to stand up to Psycho Steve but you did!”

“I know but I had to Tobes, it just didn’t sit right with me.”

“Yeah, now Steve has targeted you because of me!” Eli was worried “Can I help with something to repay you or…”

“Actually, there is one thing.” – Jim said after thinking for a while.

“What?”

“Stop telling everyone about these…’stone monsters’ Steve heard you mention. I don’t tell you to do anything else, just don’t tell every single person you meet. That and it may keep you from getting into trouble so often.”

“OK. I’ll try.” – Eli took his spilled possessions and left.

……………………………………………

School was almost over. The only thing that stood between Jim and the safety was History with Strickler. He was the only changeling Jim knew was in Arcadia, so he needed to be careful. As long as he could finish class without the amulet being seen, he’d be safe, at least until he had a plan what to do.

Jim was seated and waiting for class to finish. Strickler’s droning about the wars between Sparta and Athens was mostly ignored. The bell rang and Jim sighed in relief. He was about to pick his backpack up but Steve kicked it, its contents spilling on the floor.

“Oops! Sorry.” – Steve wasn’t sorry.

Strickler looked at the mess, his eyes widening and movement stopping for a second as his sight settled on the amulet. He schooled his expression. Like nothing happened, he approached Jim.

“Need a help?”

“No thank you, Mr. Strickler.” – Jim hurried to put his things in.

“You weren’t paying attention in class. I know youth like you has some more… different interests than learning about History.”

“I’m sorry. I will try to pay more attention next time.”

“I’m sure you will. I’m just worried.” Jim held back a sarcastic reply at this statement “I’ve heard about you and your mother. It must be hard growing up without a father figure. Here, give this to your mother and we may discuss it at another time.”

Jim didn’t say anything and just stuffed the note Strickler gave him in the bag. It was apparent that Strickler didn’t even suspect what Jim’s real identity was from the way he interacted with Jim. The changeling was under the impression that Jim Lake was just a normal teen that didn’t know what he had gotten himself into.

“Hmm… a very interesting device. Where did you get it?”

“Oh, just found it on the ground.” – Jim stuffed the last of his possessions in his bag and exited the room.

……………………………………………

Jim was walking down the hall when he saw a poster on the floor. It was about an audition for “Romeo and Juliet”. As he red through it, he collided with Claire.

“Ah!” – she fell back and landed painfully on the floor.

“I’m sorry! I wasn’t watching where I was going.” Jim offered her a hand “Are you OK?”

“Yeah, just a bit hurt.” Claire then noticed the poster in his left hand. “Are you also interested in the audition?”

“Just a but I don’t have much time right now. Sorry.”

“Uh… No problem.” She looked away with a frown “It’s just that we need more people and I knida hoped to not have to be acting with Steve. He’s the only one trying for Romeo and I’m Juliet.”

Jim felt sorry for the girl. He had not only red all of Shakespeare’s works but watched “Romeo and Juliet” several times. He knew that Juliet and Romeo kissed.

“I’m sorry…” he bit his lip “…but if no other boy auditions for Romeo… Maybe I can try. That is if no one comes by the last day of the audition.”

“Really?! That would be wonderful of you. I will find you if no one comes.”

“Claire! Come on, we’ll be late!” – Darci called from across the hallway.

“I have to go. Bye!”

‘What have I gotten myself into?!’ – Jim lamented as he watched the girl’s back.

=A small time skip=

Barbara had left a few hours ago for her night shift and Jim was all alone. He was poking at the amulet, prodding with weak magical pulses, pretty much the only thing he could currently do in his human form. He wasn’t going to transform because there was a high chance someone may be spying on him. He had noticed some movement a while ago but decided not to go out and check like a fool would. After nothing happening, he gave up and decided to go down to his study and check a few books if they had something about the amulet in them.

He went down the stairs. His study was not big but was well-organized. A few old cushions for sitting, a table with carefully sorted writing and drawing supplies. A wardrobe, repurposed to hold his potions and ingredients for said potions or rituals. A trunk sat underneath the table. Jim opened it and started to look through the documents and books in it when he heard shuffling from upstairs and someone whispering. He closed the trunk and hid it under the table. With careful steps he went up and opened the door. There was no one but Jim knew better, so he grabbed a mop and carefully made his way towards the living room.

It was dark and that usually meant a surprise attack.

“AH! Master-OUCH!”

Jim instinctively attacked the one making the noise and managed to whack Blinky straight into the face. Jim backed away from the blue troll but his back hit something that he was sure it wasn’t a wall. Jim looked up and saw AARRRGH’s grinning face.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAH!” – Jim jumped in fright, slipped and hit his head on the corner of the coffee table.

The two trolls exchanged looks and worriedly looked at the unconscious boy laying in front of them.

“Let’s leave him for a while. The boy must be shocked after seeing us.”

“OK.” – AARRRGH agreed with Blinky and sat on the floor, watching Jim with a thoughtful expression.

(AN: You may be wondering why Jim was so scared, despite being a troll and everything. The answer is simple, he ran away from Killahead before AARRRGH switched sides and punched Bular, so Jim thought he’d been found and general AARRRGH was going to kill him, hence his fright. The whole falling was unintentional.)

Chapter Text

“talking” === ‘thinking’

“troll language”

[spells] === {phone}

===================

“Ugh! What hit me?” – Jim groaned as he sat up.

“AH! Master Trollhunter! You are finally awake!” – Blinky exclaimed in delight.

“Wah! Who are you? Wh- “– Jim began but was interrupted by a loud crunch.

Jim and Blinky’s heads whipped towards the sound to see AARRRGH. He had opened the trash can in the kitchen and started eating some of the tin cans and other edible trash inside it. Jim held back the urge to growl. HE usually was the one going through the trash and those were HIS snacks for tomorrow but he decided to let the large troll do as he wanted.

‘At least he’s not trying to eat me, thinking I’m a fleshbag…’

“Wait! You… ugh… B-Blinky, right?”

“Yes, you can call me that. Nice to meet you Master…”

“J-Jim.”

“Master Jim! You have been chosen to be the next Trollhunter.”

“Amulet chose.” – AARRRGH said as he swallowed a few fruit peels.

Jim was feeling very uncomfortable. Not only were they in his home without being invited but the general, the same one he’d seen bite limbs off and break heads, was eating from his food. At least he wasn’t feeling as scared for his life, instead he felt EXTREMELY awkward.

“Ahem! AARRRGH, my friend, could you please be a bit more careful. This moment requires a bit more finesse.”

“OK.” – he put the trash back in the can and closed it with a careful pat on the lid.

“So, as we were saying…Master Jim, the amulet has chosen you to be the next Trollhunter- a protector of both human and trollkind. It’s a great honor that has been handed down since Merlin’s time!”

“So I’m…? NO! T-This isn’t possible! It CAN’T possibly be me!” – Jim took a step back.

“Ah, but it is you. The amulet has chosen you to be the next Trollhunter. This may mean a great change is about to happen.” – Blinky mused.

“You don’t understand-! Ugh!” Jim held out the amulet “Can’t you take it and… I don’t know, give it to someone else?”

“I’m afraid we can’t. The only way the amulet can choose another Trollhunter is if the previous one has died. So, unfortunately, no. I am very sorry that you might feel this way but it is your destiny.”

The look Jim had on his face made both Blinky and AARRRGH wince. The boy looked like a dying person while be bit his bottom lip and looked at the glowing amulet in his hand.

Blinky, despite not understanding humans very much, but definitely knew more than other trolls, could somehow relate to the boy. Being given such a big responsibility at such a young age. A ‘teenager’ as he believed it was called. No one wanted to put a juvenile in such a heavy and life-threatening position but it was inevitable once the amulet has chosen. He sighed, deeply.

“I can understand you, somewhat. I know it must be hard to accept all this. So, I have an idea. We’ll return here tomorrow evening. I think this should be an appropriate time for you to think things over. After that, you can tell us your decision. Is that fine with you, master Jim?”

“…OK. Fine…I’ll think about it.”

“Great! We’ll see each other tomorrow then. Have a nice evening.”

Blinky and AARRRGH headed for the back door but on the way out the bigger troll stopped for a second to look Jim over. He frowned, as if he was trying to remember something, but shrugged and left.

‘Ugh… Fates, why do you hate me?’ – Jim collapsed and rubbed his face.

The smell of the two guests filled the rooms, not strong enough for a human to notice but it irked him.

===Time skip===

It was morning and Jim woke up with a groan. The events from last night played through his mind and he rubbed his forehead. He felt like a stampede had gone over every inch of his body. He looked at the clock and saw it was not even 6 yet. Nevertheless, he went downstairs to make some breakfast for him and his mom when she eventually came back from the night shift. A simple French toast won’t hurt anybody.

………………………………………………

Jim was going out just as Barbara’s car pulled in their driveway. They said their goodbyes and Jim headed to Toby’s house.

“Tobes! Hurry up or I’m leaving you behind!”

“Coming!”

The two boys soon were in school and ready to start class when Jim spotted Strickler. The changeling stood there, looking at him. Their eyes met for a bit and then Strickler turned and walked away as if nothing had happened. This made Jim shiver. Such a look never meant anything good. The changeling was studying him, judging him… He might need to do something soon, if he wanted to protect those close to him.

“So, Jimbo, what happened? I heard you talked to the Claire Nuñez. Did you ask her out or- “

“We just talked about the school play.”

“Ooooh! You should totally go and try for it! That way you can get close to her!”

“Come on! I bet she doesn’t even know I exist. I told you that I like her but NOT as a girlfriend! We met like…What? 2-3 times at most.”

“Yeaaa~ I so believe you.” – Toby didn’t sound serious as he walked down the hall.

Jim just sighed and shook his head. School, Changelings, Trollhunter busyness, the play… What was he going to do now?

Jim looked at Toby’s back and decided that no matter what, he’d keep his friend away from it all. If the chubby boy knew, he’d want to join Jim no matter what and he didn’t want to put him in danger. Jim knew that if he accepted the mantle of a Trollhunter, he’d meet his brother at some point. He just hoped to avoid it as long as possible and not get his new family involved. The farther from Bular and Changelings they were the better.

………………………….

Claire waited until the bell rang, like the good student she was, before going to Jim’s desk. The students that were still inside the classroom stopped whatever they were doing and looked. Everyone was whispering and wondering what is going to happen.

“So…Are you going to come to today’s audition for the play? We need just a storyteller and Romeo. Please, otherwise the play won’t happen.” – she asked the surprised boy.

“Oh, Claire, uhm…” she looked thoughtful for a bit “You see, I would like to go-“

“Psh! Like a loser like Lake can even act to save his own skin!” Steve strode towards her and pushed Jim to the side “Why don’t you ask ME? I am amazing, athletic and handsome.” – he winked at her.

She felt very uncomfortable and most of all- she didn’t want to kiss Steve at all. She looked at Jim with an apologetic and at the same time pleading look. She was sorry that Jim had to go through this because of her but also wanted someone to help her.

Jim on the other hand was shocked. Steve had the audacity to push HIM! He was minding his own business and then BAM! He is rudely bushed and almost falls back. Usually, he’d reign his temper, that had been getting fierier these few years, and walk away but not today. Steve had been tap-dancing on the last of his nerves these past few months, so he was done with the boy’s prideful attitude. Just then, he noticed the look Claire was giving him. He knew that isn’t really defenseless but fighting in school isn’t something she’d want. Steve’s fate was decided- he’d pay.

“You know what? I WILL try for Romeo!” Jim declared with a bravado he didn’t know he had in him “So, are you going to bother her or do I have to drag you away?” – he pointed at Claire.

“Huh? What was that Lake?! You wanna go and meet my two buddies before your due date?” – Steve cracked his knuckles and Jim realized he’d forgotten about the ‘fight’ they were going to have.

Ms. Janeth entered the classroom and saved Steve before Jim had decided to kick him in the gronk-nuks so hard it would have landed him in the hospital.

“Sit down class!” – she said as she opened her book.

“I’ll be waiting for you, Lake.” – Steve whispered and rudely pushed past Jim.

Jim just stared at him with a flat look, Toby was bouncing in his seat due to the excitement- Steve might have gotten angrier but it was awesome seeing Jim face the bully. Claire was nervous but after giving a quick thank you to Jim, she sat back down.

===Meanwhile in Lake residence===

Barbra stretched and felt good after sleeping. Jim’s breakfast had been delicious and it made her sleepy, so she gladly collapsed in her bed a few hour ago.

She walked into the living room with a cup of tea when she saw something crumpled on the ground by the coffee table. She got closer and saw it was a note. Inside it was a phone number with Jim’s history teacher’s name. It was also addressed to her, so she got curious and decided to call.

{Hello. This is Walt Strickler’s phone. Currently I’m teaching or have important work. Please leave a message after the signal. –BEEP-} – a male voice with slight British accent said.

“Hello, this is Barbara Lake, I’m Jim’s mother and I have a note addressed to me, so I called. Please call back whenever you are free.” – she closed the phone and wondered why one of Jim’s teachers would want to talk with her.

===Later that day, at school===

“WOOOHOO! Way to go Jimbo! You got the role. I bet Clair was gaping at you acting.” – Toby cheered his friend on.

“Ugh… what have I done?” – Jim looked at the script in his hands with a grimace.

“It’s not that bad. You can get on Ms. Janeth’s good side and get to know Claire better! It’s a win-win situation!”

“I don’t even know her that well! How can you be so sure I like Claire that way?”

“Almost everybody likes her. She’s the most popular girl in our grade!”

Almost everyone! I’m not interested in having a girlfriend right now and I barely know her! I can’t just help some random girl and BOOM! We’re dating! This is not a movie, you know.”

“OK. I understand. I will go and grab something from my locker and I’ll be right back!” – Toby ran into the school as quickly as he could while Jim waits by their bikes.

Jim put the script but as he was doing so, he saw the amulet. He was immediately reminded of Blinky and AARRRGH. They were coming tonight to talk about his decision and looking at the setting sun… he had only a little while to decide on his answer. No doubt others would come after him. Stricklander had probably blabbered to every changeling that he- Jim Lake Jr was the new Trollhunter. He was going to accept, there was no other logical way. If he didn’t… he will probably have irate trolls from Trollmarket come to challenge him for the amulet. He shivered by the mere thought of it all.

He carefully picked up and pulled out the amulet, closing his bag after that. He looked the device over and found himself amazed. His mind that had been trained in the magical arts immediately began analyzing the intricate work put into the ancient device. Jim had his fair share of knowledge in magical devices, enchantments and spell making, yet he couldn’t decipher all the magical enchantments and runes put into the making of the amulet. He began to list off what he knew and how the different elements may strengthen the effects of the amulet, so he was so deep in thought that he didn’t notice the being stalking him until it was too late. Jim’s eyes shot open and he jumped to the left, narrowly escaping the sword of Bular.

The troll growled and stood to his full height, drawing his second sword.

“Hehe… to think the amulet chose a fleshbag- Pathetic!”

Jim looked at Bular with a mix of surprise and fear. He looked almost the same way, except a few new scratches and one of his horn tips missing. He was in front of him, ready to attack at any moment. A set of footsteps alerted Jim of Toby approaching, he knew the squeak of shoes. Soon the boy would arrive and see Bular! This was not good at all because Bular didn’t care how many he killed if what he wanted was accomplished. Jim had to act now!

[Flash ball!] – Jim quickly chanted and opened his palm, closing his eyes.

From his palm a small yellow ball appeared and flashed with the strength of a football field light.

“RAAAAAAAAAAARGH!” – Bular roared in pain as his sensitive eyes were viciously attacked.

He dropped both his swords and covered his eyes. Jim saw this chance, quickly ran towards his bike, grabbed his bag and pedaled towards Toby’s position. Meanwhile Bular was rubbing his eyes, already recovering.

“Hey, Jimbo! Did you see that flash?! What happened?” – Toby asked, worried about Jim.

“No time to explain! Jump on if you don’t want to die! Quickly!” – Jim said as he shoved the helmet in Toby’s chest.

“OK! You are scaring me a bit, you know that?” – Toby started to climb on the bike, behind Jim.

“Hurry up!” – Jim pulled Toby’s collar and got him on the bike.

Jim sped off and just in time.

“GRRRR! I will KILL YOU FLESHBAAAAG!” – Bular was mad.

“OMG! What is that thing?!” – Toby screamed as he clung for dear life onto Jim’s back.

“No time for explaining! We have to get away from here!” – Jim was panicking, evident by him sweating bullets and the nervousness in his voice.

Jim didn’t hold back this time. Usually he made sure to be in the ‘humanly possible’ but now their lives LITERALLY depended on it. Bular sheathed his swords and ran after the two boys. He was very fast and despite Jim’s bike moving as fast as a motorcycle, he was catching up.

“It- He? Is getting closer Jimbo!” – Toby shouted.

“Do you THINK I don’t see that?!” – Jim screeched and that was NEVER a good sign.

“Go left! Left!” – Toby pointed and Jim listened.

===With Blinky and AARRRGH===

The sun had just set, so Blinky and AARRRGH were making their way out of Trollmarket. It had been eventful 2 days and everybody was nervous. Ever since the news of Kanjigar’s death reached Trollmarket, no one could rest peacefully. There were all sorts of rumors going around, spread from mouth to mouth but Blinky and AARRRGH were probably the only ones that knew the truth. They had seen the new Trollhunter but hadn’t told anyone because even they didn’t know what the boy would say. He was a human, a pretty young human to boot, and probably had no known contact with any sort of magical creature before meeting them.

Draal was on a warpath- he swore to avenge his father the moment Kanjigar’s death was confirmed and was going around, asking if anyone had seen where the amulet had gone. It was quite the blow when he hadn’t been chosen as the next Trollhunter and he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t bitter.

Vendel was trying to calm the residents and guests of the market while trying to figure what to do about the missing amulet. He had ordered Blinky to not bother him for a while and not get into trouble because “I have too much on my head and if you cause even more chaos with your crazy theories, I swear I’ll hang you over the lava in the forge!”. The elder was pissed and Blinky had retreated faster than a pixie.

All these things made the atmosphere a lot heavier down in the market. Whispers, suspicious and nervous looks… That’s why Blinky and AARRRGH’s mission was so crucial at this moment. What the new Trollhunter said might decide the future of not only their home but also the world. Bular had been trying to take the amulet for a long time now and who knew what he wanted it for, nothing good for sure though.

Blinky peered around a corner and after making sure no one was near or watching, he nodded at AARRRGH and they both ran up the stairs. They were taking a risk by going out like that- no Trollhunter, Bular on the loose, possibly more humans… It was very dangerous mission, especially for a historian and a pacifist. When they reached the top of the crystal steps, Blinky took out his horngazel and opened the portal.

“Let’s go! There’s no time to lose! The sooner we talk with master Jim, the sooner we’ll have our answers.” – Blinky strode forward.

“Hm.”- AARRRGH followed behind as the blue troll mused.

“…but what if he doesn’t accept? What will we tell Vendel and the others?” – Blinky’s lower arms crossed behind his back as his top ones did so in gront of his chest.

“Blinky…” – AARRRGH said, trying to get his friend’s attention.

“No! The amulet has chosen the boy for a reason. But what if he…”

“Blinky!”

“…it could be possible to- “

“BLINKY!” AARRRGH finally shook him “Look!” – he pointed towards the street leading to the bridge.

There were Jim and Toby on the bike while Bular was running after thel, almost frothing at the mouth due to rage.

“It’s master Jim! Quick! They’ll be here any second now!”

===Toby and Jim on the bike===

Jim made another sharp turn and Toby almost screamed when he heard the squeak coming from the bike. Their pursuer slid a few meters, digging his claws in the pavement like it was made of cardboard. It made Toby scared what would happen if they were caught. Bular recovered quickly and followed them. Jim was panicking, not wanting to face Bular, and Toby was desperate, so he started digging through his pockets and bag, throwing stuff back at the beast.

Jim pedaled faster but that was the limit of the bike. If it was one of those sport ones, they might have managed to get away but it was impossible currently. An orange glow caught Jim’s attention. They were almost on the bridge when he saw Blinky and AARRRGH down in the canal.

“Master Jim! Here!!” – Blinky waved the glowing horngazel.

“AAAAAAH! He’s getting closer Jimbo!”

“I won’t let you escape fleshbags!” – Bular jumped and swung his right arm.

One of the claws scraped the back tire, causing the bike to go out of control.

“Hold tight!” – Jim said to Toby.

“I don’t want to dieeeee!”

The front wheel slammed into the left railing of the bridge and the two boys were sent flying. Bular grinned viciously at the thought of the two fleshbags becoming bloody stains on the concrete below. His victorious mood was cut short when AARRRGH jumped up and caught the two boys midair.

“Got them!” – he shouts and Blinky begins to draw an arc below the bridge.

AARRRGH lands with a loud thump. Jim was never more grateful for meeting the ex-general and Toby… he froze due to fright and shock. From the top of the bridge Bular roared and also jumped out. AARGH retreated towards Blinky and Toby screamed at the sight of Bular drawing his blades out.

“AARRRGH! Quickly!” – Blinky had opened the portal and was waiting.

“Not so fast! I will massacre you today! Both you and those fleshbags!” – Bular pointed his sword at AARRRGH and charged forward.

On a pure instinct, Jim wriggled out of AARRRGH’s hold and put himself in the path of the blade.

“For the glory of Merlin, daylight is mine to command!” – he said as quickly as he could, having read the inscriptions on the amulet beforehand.

The amulet glowed and a bright blue flash illuminated the place. AARRRGH had been retreating when it happened, so he wasn’t blinded as much as Bular was, yet again. At first, as the armor was forming, the glowing plates of metal momentarily assembled themselves into a suit just a bit shorter than Bular and with longer legs, lither body too but the next instant they reformed around Jim. The armor fit him like a glove and the sword of Daylight appeared in his right arm.

Jim lifted the sword up, holding the back of the blade with his other hand. He blocked the attack with a grunt, the force almost making him fall on his knees. While everyone was shocked, Jim used whatever muscle memory he had from his time training with swords as a whelp to twist the blade sideways. Bular’s blade fell out of his grip. Jim swung the sword at Bular’s legs. The older troll tried to get out of the way and lost his balance. Jim then embedded his weapon in the concrete- he had never aimed to cut Bular’s legs off. Bular’s boot met the blade and he fell on his back. That was Jim’s cue to book it. He ran towards the portal at full speed.

“Quickly! Come inside before he gets up!” – Blinky shouted.

Jim, AARRRGH and Toby entered just as the portal started closing.

“DAMN YOU! Remember my word! Next time we meet, I’ll crush your skulls, rip the flesh off your bones all while you are writhing on the ground!” Bular shouted as he rose to his feet “I will make you pay for this embarrassment with your sorry lives!’ – Bular threw a stone but the portal had already closed.

Everyone stayed in the darkness for a few minutes, just breathing and trying to calm down after the “meeting”.

Jatar looked at the place where once was the portal. He had met his brother for the first time in 400 years.

‘You really didn’t recognize me? Brother…’ – honestly, he wasn’t surprised that Bular though he was just a human.

He had changed in SO many ways in the past 4 centuries that he doubted his old self would recognize him. Maybe, just maybe, he had expected something. Some faint recognition a “YOU?!” or even an odd look. Even after all those years, he had held a small hope…Now? Now he understood that the rift between his morals and those of his family had grown even more. He had a new home now, new friends… a new family! He had decided- He won’t let the remnants of his old life destroy what was dear for him! He will stop running!

“W-We’re alive! WE. ARE. ALIVE! Jimbo! How are you? Are you hurt?!” – Toby broke the silence.

“Y-yeah, I am fine and you?”

“I am too but…uh… I think the green guy won’t release me! Help!”

“No need to panic.” Blinky said and the place got illuminated by glowing crystals “AARRRGH, my good fellow, would you mind releasing master Jim’s brined?”

“Sorry.” – he put Toby down, gently.

“Jim!” Toby hugged him “I was super scared and thought you’d become minced meat! Thank god you are fine.”

“I am also glad Toby. I was worried he’d try to eat you or something.” – Jim returned the hug, armor disappearing as he relaxed.

“Whoa! It disappeared! How is this possible?“ Toby pulled back “Where are we? Who was that black dude? Why was he chasing you? And who are they! You have a lot of explaining to do!” – Toby pointed, his mind finally catching up to the events that happened in the past few minutes.

“Uh…Gosh! I was trying not to get you into all this.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s dangerous! As you just saw! You might get hurt or even die!”

“Yeah! Just like you! You are my friend Jimbo and I won’t stand aside as you risk your life! I will help you, that’s what best friends are for!” he gave thumbs up “So, can you explain me what exactly happened?”

“Do you want the short or long version?” – Jim asked.

“The short one, for now.”

“Sigh… This amulet is magical and apparently decided to choose ME as the Trollhunter. That’s why we were chased by ‘the black dude’ – he wanted to take it and has to kill me to do so. They- “points at Blinky and AARRRGH “ are good trolls and saved us.”

“Got it. Thanks for saving us. I am Tobias Domzalski but everybody calls me Toby.”

“No problem. I am called Blinky and this is AARRRGH.”

“Three Rs.” – AARRRGH rumbles.

“Nice meeting you.” – Toby shakes Blinky’s hand.

The chubby boy finally noticed that both Blinky and AARRRGH were made of stone and how he was literally standing in a room full with GLOWING crystals.

“AWESOME SAUCE! What are all these? It looks like a sapphire but they don’t glow…” – he started listing possibilities as he looked the crystals over.

“Um, is he OK?” – Blinky asks Jim.

“Oh, he’s fine, just loves geology a LOT! Nevertheless, thanks for saving us. He’s have gotten us if you weren’t there.” – Jim bowed slightly to show his gratitude.

“No need to be so formal. We were just going to go to your house when AARRRGH noticed you being chased by Bular. It was quite the frightful experience.”

“I know! Thanks AARRGH-“ Jim stopped before accidentally saying his full name out of habit, he’d never called him AARRRGH before “As for your question…”

“Hm? Question?” Blinky remembered “Ah! I remember. So, what did you decide?”

“I accept being the Trollhunter.” – Blinky gave him a knowing look, AARRRGH smiled and Toby gasped.

“Jimbo! You accepted? This is gonna be so awesome! Not counting the near death experience, this is the most epic thing that has ever happened! We’re going to be Trollhunters! Well, you are the real one and I’ll be something like your partner! Hey! Do you think I’ll get some cool weapon or armor?”

“Whoa! Slow down Tobes!”

“Now, I know you’ve probably been through a lot but we need to be going. You have much to learn and see! Follow me.” – Blinky went down the glowing steps, followed by AARRRGH.

Jim and Toby exchanged looks and followed them down. They both marveled at the giant glowing crystals but unlike Toby, Jim was also nervous. He was going IN Trollmarket! No Gumm-Gumm, well… technically not true because of him and AARRRGH being there, had gotten inside.

As they descended, he could practically feel the magic and the presence of the Heartstone seeping into him. Fe felt amazing, warm, safe. It calmed the slight tremors in his body and made him smile.

“Ahem! Master Jim, young Tobias, welcome to Trollmarket!” – Blinky said as he stepped to the side, his four hands gesturing at the scene in front of him.

Both boys gasped. It was breathtaking and even more than what Jim had ever imagined!

Chapter Text

“So that’s how it looked on the inside.” – Jim whispered to himself, too awed by the sight in front of him and the warmth of the Heartstone.

“Yes, it is indeed amazing.” Blinky had heard him and had a thoughtful look for a second “Now! Let’s hurry! We don’t have time to waste right now. Follow me.”

Blinky led the small group and AARRRGH walked in the back to make sure none of the two boys got lost or in trouble. As they made their way through Trollmarket, Toby was chattering about stones and minerals, they got a lot of glances. Some were curious, some suspicious but they were making Jim uncomfortable, the awe was evaporating like water in the desert.

“So! Where are we going?” Toby asked after AARRRGH plopped him back in the group “This is totally awesome sauce but we should probably be heading back home at some point.”

“We are going to see Vendel. He’s the leader and is usually near the Heartstone.”

“So, you don’t know where exactly he is?”

“No, but we should find him sooner or later!”

“Then what are we going to tell to our parents? Well, Nana would probably accept that I was at Jimbo’s but his mom-“

“I think it should be fine. She has a night shift and won’t be back soon.” – it was a total lie but Barbara was used to Jim going out at night and not returning before sunrise. He was MUCH older than her and independent enough, so he didn’t have any restrictions where or when he should be.

“Huh? I guess we are lucky.” Just then Toby saw movement by his feet “OMG! Jimbo! Look at this!” – he pointed at the gnome looking at him.

“Uh… Tobes, I don’t think you should-“

“HISSSSSSS!” – the gnome hissed, sharp teeth showing.

It quickly scootered past Toby, up Jim and jumped from Jim’s head, to AARRRGH’s back, then disappeared on the roof of the closest shop.

“Gnomes. Agh, little pests they are but they have their uses, keeping larger trolls clean from pests.” – Blinky explained.

For a moment Jim shuddered. He hated pests in his fur, removing them had been quite a hassle during the years he’d traveled. Thankfully he’d been clean for the past century. He just hoped his human disguise would hold thee nasty bugs away from him. He was NOT looking forward to getting them out of his scruff.

As if to prove a point, a few of them crawled out of AARRRGH’s green mane and the gentle giant batted them off of him. After that Jim seemed to stand a few steps farther from him.

Blinky continued to lead them towards the Heartstone while he explained some simple rules and interesting facts about Trollmarket. Both boys listened carefully because everything was new to them. Toby didn’t know trolls existed before today and all Jim knew was that Trollmarket was ‘full of easy prey to slay, goods to pillage and things to destroy’ and it was also ‘full of fools’. That was it. Nothing more had been told to him besides Gumm-Gumm culture which wasn’t much really. At least he knew how to easily break someone’s neck if it was needed.

“So, in other words we’ll be on something like a tour until we find that Vendel guy, am I right?” – Toby eyed Blinky.

“Oh, no! We’ll look for him near the Heartstone, if he’s not there, we’re going to the Hero’s forge! We’ll do some light training and hope Vendel shows up. We’re not wasting the whole night! Also, he’s bound to find us sooner or later.”

Toby and Jim were doubtful but just shrugged after exchanging looks.

………………………..

The energy Jim felt radiating from the Heartstone was making him even more jumpy. He had to keep himself focused and not give into the urge to just lie under the stone and bask in its relaxing light the whole night.

“Hm… he seems to not be here.” Blinky remarked “So! Let’s go to the Forge! It’s the first time humans have been to Trollmarked and one of them being the new Trollhunter! This is so exciting!”

AARRRGH hummed and nodded in agreement. He eyed Jim and Toby yet again but quickly returned to following behind the small group.

“I know it might be a bit strange at first, but I assure you that the forge is- OUCH!”

“Vendel! There’s huma- GAH!”

Just as Blinky was about to turn a corner, someone rammed into him, the two falling to the floor. The newcomer was a blue troll with large horns, ring on his nose and spikes on his back. Jim had the vague feeling he’d seen him back in Europe once or twice.

“Guh! What hit me?!” Blinky stood up and looked around “Draal! What are you doing here?”

“What are YOU doing here?!” he growled and jumped on his feet “Bringing humans in Trollmarket…What were you thinking?!”

“There’s no need to raise your voice.” – Blinky tried to approach this calmly.

“No need? The need is right behind you! Those fleshbags shouldn’t even be here!” – Draal pointed and Jim felt a tad bit more annoyed than he should have.

“Fleshbags?! As you should know this is VERY insulting term to refer to-“ – Blinky was appalled.

“Calm down.” – AARRRGH pushed the two apart, trying to stop a fight which the historian had a very low chance of winning.

Toby and Jim decided to stay to the side while the 3 trolls argued. Toby was genuinely afraid to not be squashed by them if a fight DID start while Jim stood protectively by his friend. He was currently the only one that could hold them for long enough if a fight started. No one noticed that Vendel was approaching, having heard the noise and quickly headed to see what was happening.

“What in the name of Deya is happening here?!” – the old troll was obviously displeased by the sight.

The bickering stopped and Jim jumped away from Vendel. Tripping and falling on the stone floor.

“GEEBERS!!! How the heck did you come here?!”

“By walking.” Vendel deadpanned and turned towards Blinky “So, Blinkous, mind telling me how 2 human children got here and why, exactly, were you arguing.”

“Um. Vendel, you see…”

“Those two were sneaking to the surface and brought 2 fleshbags down here, obviously!” Draal cut him off “While we are looking for the amulet, they are just doing nothing!” – Draal eyed Jim and Toby.

Jim, noticing the look, glared back. Draal didn’t find it amusing, not threatening, so he ignored the boy and rolled his eyes.

‘I just met him and he’s pissing me off so much already! If only I could-‘ – Jim stood up and dusted himself.

“Here, you are wrong!” Blinky lifted his top right hand up “We weren’t wandering aimlessly, we were also looking for the amulet and the new Trollhunter!”

Jim noted that the declaration seemed ridiculous to Draal for some reason.

“Oh, really?” – Vendel didn’t quite believe him.

“Yes! In fact, I would like to present to you Master Jim! He’s the new Trollhunter.”

“Amulet chose.” – AARRRGH added.

“What?!” – Draal couldn’t believe his ears.

“Hmm…is that so?” Vendel leaned down and poked Toby’s stomach with his staff “Certainly, the amulet could have chosen someone more…”

“I am Jim.” he pushed the staff away from Toby and stood by him “And it would be appreciated if you don’t make remarks for others without even knowing them.”

“This is ridiculous!!” Draal bellowed “I can’t accept this!” he pointed at Jim “I should have received the amulet! How can a human be a Trollhunter?!!”

‘I’m not actually human though…’ – Jim was secretly sweating bullets.

He had been kicked in the beep end and was sinking fast. The more they called him human and he didn’t deny it, the deeper he went but he just couldn’t tell them the truth! Even so, what Draal said made him want to stuff a rock slab in Draal’s mouth.

“I see why the amulet didn’t come to you…” – a surprisingly snarky remark came from Jim.

“Jimbo! What are you thinking?! That guy can probably crush us!” – Toby whisper-yelled as he shook his friend.

“Say that again, fleshbag!”

“Why should I?Are you deaf or something?!” – Jim glared at Draal.

“ENOUGH!” – Vendel was also mad.

NO ONE had seen Vendel so mad in a LONG time. Jim knew when to shut up, so he didn’t say anything. Blinky, Toby and AARRRGH stared in shock and a bit of fear from Toby, Draal on the other hand had grit his teeth and was fuming.

“Draal, a word with me!” Vendel then turned towards Blinky and AARRRGH “You two take the humanst to the Hero’s forge. We WILL talk later!”

“Yes, Vendel!” Blinky answered and AARRRGH nodded “Master Jim, young Tobias! Let’s go.”

As the two boys were led away, Jim and Draal exchanged glares.

“Haah… You are acting like a child…” – Jim heard Vendel say to Draal before they went too fat to hear.

…………………………………

“Gah!” – Jim stumbled when a rock hit his back.

It had been half an hour, at least according to his inner clock, since Blinky started (re)training him. Jim realized he was very rusty with the sword. He had been trained in sword fighting but that was over 4 centuries ago. Magic? He could fight using magic, as long as he wasn’t in his human disguise. Knives? He was expert with them, both for cooking and fighting. But using sword? He was terrible. Compared to what it was expected from the Trollhunter, he sucked.

Toby watched Jim from the sides with AARRRGH. They were still waiting for Vendel to come. As he watched his friend instructed by Blinky and rocks being thrown at him, Toby hissed every time a rock hit and was thankful that Jim had a hard head. Nevertheless, he felt a bit left-out and sorry for what his friend has to go through. Toby knew how much Jim hates conflict and fighting, so now taking a ‘job’ that required fighting almost every night…

At that moment, Toby decided to stick with his bestie no matter what. Even if it was dangerous and hard, he’d help his friend/almost brother.

‘Next time, I will bring some equipment… maybe I can start training at home…’

The doors opened, Vendel entering just in time to see a distracted Jim get hit by a rock and fall on his back. Behind him, Draal found the sight very amusing.

“Ah! Vendel! You see, we were just-“

“No need.” Vendel cut him short “It’s time for our new Trollhunter to take a test.”

Jim didn’t like how Vendel said the word.

“As you can see, Master Jim has not only donned the armor but has been using the sword ever since he came to the forge.”

“The Soothscryer, Blinkous. I see the armor.”

“B-but Master Jim has just started his training!”

Vendel glared Blinky down and the blue troll gave up as he slowly dragged his feet.

“Hey, what do you think this Soot-thingy is?” – Toby leaned to whisper at Jim.

“Nothing good by the way he said it.” – Jim pointed at Vendel.

The floor opened and the Soothscryer emerged. The two boys stared at the nightmarish-looking machine with comically large eyes.

~A few minutes of arguing and explaining later~

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” – Jim screamed as the huge maw clamped on his arm.

At that moment, he felt like a shock had coursed through his body. It traveled from his currently clamped hand up. It was obviously some kind of magic but he was unfamiliar with it. His first instinct was to get as far away from the unfamiliar and potentially dangerous magic. He struggled to get free and even sent the strongest pulse of magic he could manage in his current form. The jaws of the machine opened suddenly and he tumbled back, panting and a bit shaken.

“What the hell was that?!” – he shouted.

“Hmm… it seems that the Soothscryer needs some time to decide…” – Vendel completely ignored his distress.

Blinky on the other hand was worried about Jim’s reaction but didn’t have any answer.

“I still say I should have taken the amulet.” – Draal remarked from the side.

Suddenly Jim’s temper flared up.

“Here! Catch!” - he threw the amulet at Draal with a speed no human could match, he’d used his full force just now.

“Gah!” – the amulet hit Drall right between the eyes.

Just as the amulet flew back at Jim and he caught it.

“At least I know I can use this thing as a projectile.”

“GRRR! How dare you-“

“NO! How dare YOU!” if Jim was an animated character, he’d be one of those enraged bulls you see in cartoons “You have been acting awfully! Even I am more mature, despite being younger!”

Everyone was speechless. The trolls were surprised how the boy can be so fearless in front of the fuming Draal and Toby hadn’t seen Jim tear into someone like that before.

“Let me tell you something.” Jim took a step closer to Draal, challenging him to do something “I HATE to fight! I don’t want to fight anybody and just live my life! I didn’t wish for this thing to come flying at me and put my life and my friend’s life in danger! I would give you and your pompous ass the amulet if you want it so much but guess what?! The idiot that designed this junk apparently made it so that I have to DIE to do so and I don’t plan to die anytime soon! And here I am, doing something I don’t like just because it’s the right thing to do! Trust me! I can easily pack my stuff and be gone! It will be easier to do so, in fact. By the time you realize I’ve cheesed it, I’d be long gone and you’d have no Trollhunter and NO AMULET! So, shut your mouth before I stuff a boulder in it!”

“You…” for a moment Draal stopped, then he retaliated with anger instead of using reason “You want a piece of me?! Come at me!” – he leaned down to be at Jim’s eye-level.

“Um… Jimbo…”

“Master Jim! Draal! I think it would be better if…”

“”SHUT UP!”” – they said at the same time.

More glaring followed and eventually they were head to head-literally. Their foreheads had bumped together and they were trying to push the other like bulls.

“Little imp!” (Draal)

“Pebble-brain!” (Jim)

“Worm!”

“Overgrown roach!”

“Goblin chow!”

“Garden gnome!”

“Oh! It’s game on, fleshbag! I challenge you to a duel! Me, you, no one else!”

“Say your time! I will be there!”

Draal snorted and walked out. Jim was still fuming but by the time Vendel went out, he’d calmed down and realized what he’d just agreed to. He paled and looked horrified, for more than one reason actually.

“Well… this could have gone better.”

“Ugh! You are not helping!” – Jim groaned at Blinky’s remark.

………………………………….

“I can’t believe I did this! How could I do something like this?!”

Toby and Jim were going back to their homes, it was early morning, and Jim finally reached the ‘Freak Out Phase’.

“Don’t worry Jimbo! We’ll figure something out!”

“How could I be so foolish?!” Jim berated himself “Stupid hormones…” – he whispered to himself.

“Hm? Did you say something?”

“N-Nothing! I have to go home. I am exhausted. See ya!”

Jim quickly ran to his home.

“See ya tomorrow!”

Back in his home, Jim made sure not to wake up his mom and went to his room. He closed the curtains and transformed back to his real form, floorboards creaking from the sudden increase of weight.  He felt drained and tense at the same time, so he just slumped on his mattress and fell asleep almost instantly.

===A few hours later===

Barbara opened the door quietly and looked at Jim’s sleeping form. By the looks of it, he wasn’t going to wake up soon. Whatever he’d done last night, must have exhausted him. She smiled softly and went down the stairs. She left a note on the fridge for him when he wakes up and even made him some pancakes. They tasted funny but she knew they were quite enjoyable to her son’s taste buds.

She had the afternoon shift today and would usually sleep in late but she had other work to do. She remembered the conversation she and Mr. Strickler had the other day and today they were going to meet at a nice café in town.

…………………….

Barbara sat on a chair with a cup of tea in front of her. She looked at her clock and confirmed that he was late. A few minutes later, she saw the well-dressed man come closer. He looked professional, like every time she’d seen him when she took Jim from school but this’ll be the first time she’d be talking to the man, face to face and all.

“Hello, Ms. Lake. I am terribly sorry I’m late but I had some problems with a colleague and I got held back. He was in a particularly bad mood, if I may say so.”

“Oh, there is no problem, Mr. Strickler!”

“Call me Walt, please.”

“OK. Walt, what did you want to talk to me about Jim? As far as I know, he’s been attending school daily and has good grades.”

Strickler hid a smirk as he saw the chance.

“You see…”

Chapter Text

“You don’t need to do this, you know…”

“Again with this?!” Toby was a bit annoyed “How many times do I have to repeat it Jimbo? I have your back! Just like you have mine. Now, let’s hurry up!”

Toby got on his bicycle, followed by Jim. It was dark as they rode to Trollmarket’s entrance. Toby had his backpack on while Jim decided to leave his at home.

‘What should I do? Blinky has kept me busy with training these few nights and I haven’t had a chance to tell mom about the whole Trollhunter business. I know she’d be OK but she’d be upset if I lie to her…’

Soon they arrived and went to the forge.

“Master Jim! Young Tobias! You have arrived.” – Blinky excitedly exclaimed and AARRRGH waved.

“Yeah.” – Jim still felt uncomfortable with all of this but Toby’s presence assured him a bit.

“Come now, we have much to do tonight!”

“Awesome! I even brought some stuff to train with!” – Toby ran to the side and began taking out his Chubbytracker and headband.

AARRRGH looked at him curiously.

“Oh, this? If I wanna help Jimbo, I have to be nimble! Not that being big is bad!” Toby said, afraid that he had offended the gentle giant “I can’t just sit and do nothing, so I will also train!” –he began to jog in one place, AARRRGH imitating him.

……………….

Jim dodged blades and deadly (for a human) projectiles. He was getting better at it and with handling the sword. He was still a far cry from what a Trollhunter needed but Blinky was amazed with his prowess. It had been only a few short nightly sessions but the boy was doing better than he expected. He might not have much of a technique but he had persistence and good instinct.

What Blinky didn’t know was that Jim had been previously trained with the sword but was just very rusty from not using it for over 4 centuries. He knew the ropes, just needed to remember how it all worked.

“AAAAAAAAAAAH!” a female voice screamed and everyone stopped, Jim barely avoiding a volley of spikes “IT’S TERRIBLE! TERRIBLE!” – Bagdwella came in the forge.

“Bagdwella! What’s the emergency? Is someone attacking Trollmarket?” – Bliky quickly asked.

“It’s worse!”

“Bular?” (Toby)

“No!”

“Fight?” (AARRRGH)

“NO!”

“What is it?!” (Jim)

“A-A…” everyone waited, wondering what is could be worse “A GNOME RAIIID!” – she wailed.

At that moment, the tension instantly dropped from 100 to 0. Jim facepalmed, Toby looked confused, AARRRGH stared at her and Blinky’s look was the definition of ‘Are you f-ing kidding me, woman?!’.

“Trollhunter! You need to help me! A bunch of gnomes is raiding my shop. I am just a common merchant; you have to help me!”

Everyone saw she was pretending.

“Ugh...do I have to go?” – Jim wasn’t looking forward to this.

“Yes, a Trollhunter must answer every call! Even if it means helping catch a bunch of gnomes…”- Blinky also wasn’t looking forward to it.

They followed Bagdwella out of the forge. Toby quickly swung his backpack on and followed his friend.

“…hate gnome raids…” – Jim muttered to himself.

Toby, on the other hand, wondered what a gnome raid was and why was it so hated.

……………..

‘Oh…that’s why…’ – Toby thought as he looked at the pure chaos in Bagdwella’s shop.

Blurs of red and other colors darted around the shop, knocking things down in the process. One gnome had climbed on top of an old lamp and acting like King Kong, screeching without a stop. Two were fighting for a pair of leather boots, one was throwing buttons from a shelf…heck, one was singing over all the chaos.

“Sigh…” Jim sighed heavily “Come on, let’s gather them and then she can decide what to do with them.”

“OK.” – toby followed into the shop.

AARRRGH stayed outside because it was too cramped inside while Blinky came with two big sacks for the gnomes.

“Put the gnomes in here.” Blinky handed one sack to the boys “You go to the left and I’ll go to the right.”

“OK.” – Jim took the sack and headed towards the closest gnome, aka button thrower.

“Wait. Weren’t you the one saying Jim should learn to do thing without help from others?” – Toby asked the historian troll.

“Although it is true that a Trollhunter works alone…” *CRASH* Blinky winced “NO ONE should face a gnome raid like this alone, so I’m also helping.”

Jim nodded sagely as he was trying to approach the gnome that was currently throwing whatever it could at him. Toby just grabbed a broom he saw laying close to him and went to help his best friend. He went behind the gnome, trying to knock him down and into the sack.

“HISSS!” – a particularly peeved Kong-nome hissed at Blinky and jumped at him.

“Aaaah!” Blinky shouted un surprise as the critter scratched and bit like an angry cat “My eyes! Not my eyes!”

“Ow!” – a marble hit Toby between the eyes.

He swung the broom and finally whacked the gnome. Jim kicked the shelf and the little menace finally fell in the sack. One down, a lot more to go.

At some point Toby took off his backpack in order to squeeze under a table and chase a gnome towards Jim. By the time they were done, it was morning.

“That’s the last one. Here.” – Jim handed his sack to Bagdwella, Blinky doing the same.

“Oh! Thank you so much, brave Trollhunter! You have helped me with this terrible gnome raid!”

“Yea…Wellp!” Jim deactivated the armor “We, um, better go to school, bye!” –Jim quickly ran away.

“Wait for me!” – Toby grabbed his backpack from the floor and ran after his friend.

…………

The moment they were out of Trollmarket, Jim shuddered.

‘UGH! That was terrible and creepier than a Stalkling!’ – Jim shuddered again at the memory of Bagdwella.

Bagdwella was trying to gain his favor but in a VERY WRONG way! Although he’s actually also a troll, he was currently in the guise of a young human boy, also, she was old! She can easily be his mother and it just felt worng!

“Wait! *huff* Wait for me!” – Toby shouted, desperately pedaling after his friend.

Jim slowed down so the boy could catch up.

“*huff*J-Jimbo! I know you CAN run away from a scary, man-eating troll on a bike *huff* but I am not one!” – Jim appreciated his friend’s effort to joke.

“Sorry Tobes. I just… had to get away from there.”

“No prob! I understand you, it also made me uncomfortable.”

“I’m going home to grab my bag real quick. You can go on ahead.”

“Nah. I’m coming with you. ‘No man is left behind!’ I also need the extra exercise.”

……………………

They were in school quite early, so the halls were mostly empty. It gave Jim some time to think. He hadn’t had much time to speak with his mother about the whole Trollhunting but with the weekend coming soon, he’d have enough time to explain to her.

“…and maybe we’ll-“

“Huh? Sorry, Tobes, I wasn’t paying attention. Can you repeat that?”

They stopped in front of their lockers and opened them.

“Fine.” Toby began opening his backpack “As I was saying…”

Toby froze. Inside his backpack, a gnome stared at him, half-eaten candy bar in mouth.

“AH! A gnome!” – Toby shouted and let go of his backpack on reflex.

The gnome ran off with the candy before either of the boys could catch it.

“”Oh, no…”” – they said at the same time and ran.

…………..

Strickler was having a nice cup of tea, relaxing before classes started. It had been a tiring night.

The pieces from Madagascar had finally arrived and joined the half-completed bridge. Bular had caused trouble and complained how the bridge wasn’t completed yet. Strickler had of course taken the brunt of it and was now winding down. As he took a slow sip from his mug, he felt the stress seep off and the pain in his head diminish a bit.

*Clatterrrr~!*

He looked up to see gnome had somehow snuck in his office. The little menace had turned over his bowl of sugar and was now holding his pen, which was also the key for his secret office. The two stared at each other.

“Don’t you dare- “

The gnome stared as its hold on the pen tightened. Strickler lunged at it but it ran out of his office quickly. He couldn’t catch it. He looked at the floor, covered in sugar and spilled tea that had also splattered on his chair.

‘And the headache is back again!’ – he rubbed his temples and sighed heavily.

……………….

“Domzalski! Lake! What are you two doing here?!” – coach Lawrence stopped the two boys.

“Hello coach Lawrence!” (Toby)

“Hello, coach. Um, we were…”

‘Oh, how I wish I could do a quick hypnosis or better yet, an invisibility charm! We would have found the stupid gnome if I could do serious magic!’

Begrudgingly, the two boys headed for their Math class. Just because he was annoyed, Jim glanced at the coach. A quick chant less magic and the shoelaces of Lawrence were untied. He went towards the gym and soon Jim could hear him stumble and fall.

“Haha!” Toby laughed “Talk about karma, huh Jimbo?”

“You have no idea.” – the corners of Jims mouth raised a bit.

Toby and Jim were on edge the whole time. As soon as Math was over, they rushed out and searched the school again before they were sent to their next class.

“Jim! We’re going to split after this!”

“I know. You have to look for the gnome and I’ll do the same.”

“Got it- JIM!”

“What? Did you see the gnome?”

“No, today was your Spanish presentation! Ya know, señor Uhl!”

“Ah, it had to be today, didn’t it?” – Jim groaned.

“This is double bad! Did you have at least time to study, training and all?” – Toby was really worried for his friend; this was Uhl the Unforgiving after all.

“I’m more worried for the gnome.” Jim knew Spanish and he was quite good at it, so he wasn’t worried he won’t pass “Now let’s look near the cafeteria. It is lunch break and it might get attracted to the area.”

“Right!”

“Do you have a bag with you?”

“Yeah and you?”

Jim just pulled out a small sack.

……………………

…He was not in the cafeteria. They had searched every nook and cranny a gnome might hide it, Toby even got chased by an angry lunch lady with a spatula. They admitted defeat and moved to another place.

“I tell you, a mouse stole the lipstick!” – an older girl complained to her friends.

“Yeah, right! I bet it needed it for its date.”

“Why can’t you just admit you lost it?”

“It’s true! I was in the bathroom when I heard a clatter and something small and extremely fast ran out through the door. When I turned around, the lipstick was gone!”

Jim and Toby exchanged looks.

“”The gnome!””

DRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! – the bell rang and the two boys groaned.

‘Gnome raid and now, a rogue gnome! Damn, I hate them!’ – Jim glared at the school and suppressed the urge to growl and bite off the school bell. He was better than that!

………………………

“So, Mr. Lake. What was the most important part of the heroine’s development?”

“Well, I think it was the part where she faced Desmond. He was the key point in her development as a character and made the story even more interesting. “

“And her words after the big reveal happened, in Spanish.”

“Sí, señor Uhl. Umm…” Jim thought for a bit as he was facing the rest of the class and the teacher “ Detenerse justo allí!...’

Just then movement caught Jim’s eye and he looked up. On one of the hanging lamps was the gnome and it was biting at the cable holding the thing up.

“¡Dios mío! ¡Hay un gnomo masticando los cables!” – Jim exclaimed without even thinking and everyone looked at him strangely.

“A gnome chewing the cables?” – Uhl quirked a brow.

“Uhm, I mean…” the gnome got startled and ran off “ ¡Hay un hombre cortando las cuerdas!’ is what she said. Sorry for the mistake.”

“Acceptable. You pass, Lake. Just don’t make such a jarring mistake again.”

“Yes, señor Uhl.”

DRRRRRR!

“Class dismissed.”

Toby and Jim ran out or the room.

“You go left; I go right?” – Toby suggested.

“Let’s get this over with.”

Jim ran down the hall, dodging students and faculty members, looking for the runaway gnome. A flash of red! That coupled with the fast, unnatural movement meant that he caught up to the gnome. Jim took out his phone and called Toby.

[What’s up Jimbo?]

“I found him. He’s heading for the male locker room. Come quickly!” – Jim ended the call and pocketed his phone.

He entered the locker room and it was thankfully empty. The gnome tried to get out but Jim reacted quickly and threw a can at it. It stopped and turned to look at Jim, hissing and showing sharp teeth.

“I’ve been chasing you all day…” Jim activated the amulet but didn’t summon the sword, it was too cramped for it “It is time we end this once and for all!  Rah!” – Jim jumped at the gnome.

The creature also jumped towards the boy with a squeaky battle cry, wielding a spoon like a halberd.

……………….

Claire walked down the hall, heading for rehearsal. She hadn’t seen Jim after he had run out of Spanish and was getting nervous. The boy had been doing great up until now but if he didn’t appear today, she’d have to practice with Steve and he was getting really annoying lately.

“I got it!”

“Good job Tobes. We just need to-“ – Jim opened the door and came face to face with Claire.

She gasped. He was wearing a very realistic armor. He might have had a scrape or two, plus his hair looking like he’d lost a fight with an angry cat, but otherwise was alright.

“Oh.” – Toby hid the gnome sack behind his back.

“Jim! I have been looking for you. We have to go to rehearsal! Nice armor by the way. Did you make it?”

“Uh, no. I got it from someone else.” – Jim felt very awkward at the moment.

“Let’s go then! Maybe Ms. Janeth will allow you to use it. At least we’ll have some good-looking prop in this play.

“Y-Yeah.” Jim turned to his friend and whispered “Get the gnome to your house and get rid of it if you can. Just don’t let it escape again!”

“Got it!” – Toby saluted as Jim was figuratively dragged to rehearsal.

===At Toby’s house===

Toby was holding the gnome sack but now, that he was alone in his home, he felt stuck. He didn’t know what to do. He had to get rid of it but just…couldn’t! Drowning the creature was out of the question, throwing him in the grinder wasn’t an option at all!

‘Sigh…What am I going to do?! Should I wait for Jim or…?’

Just then Toby saw a cat crate and decided to do something. He positioned the crate and sack so the gnome can’t run off. When the critter was in the crate, Toby closed the door and locked it. It jumped on the bars and hissed at him.

“Whoa! C-Chill dude.” Toby took out a candy bar “Want some? It’s a peace offering?” – he smiled at the gnome.

It looked at the treat curiously but accepted it.

===Meanwhile with Jim===

“Very well done!” Ms. Janneth clapped “Now, a little break. We’ll do this one more time and then you can go.

Jim sighed and slumped on a step. It was tiring to act with the armor on and now he had to wear this on the actual play!

“Lake.”

“Palchuk. What do you want?”

“Oooh! You’ve got some fancy junk and act all important! You chickened out! You big baby!”

“How many times I have to tell you- I don’t want to fight!” – Jim would rather not fight at all, if possible, but fate seemed to think otherwise.

“Hmph! I understand. You running away like a coward when things get dangerous…”

Jim got angry at Steve’s tone and accusations.

‘You don’t understand anything! The screams, the smell of death, the laughter!’ – flashes of a time long ago flashed.

“You probably got too scared and ran away with your tail between your legs. No doubt you’ll run away again if something else happens!”

‘NO! I didn’t want to be part of that carnage! I swore to protect them! I won’t run away this time!’ – Jim felt his breath quicken and control slipping.

“…You are just like your father- “

This finally made Jim snap. Flashes of how his father laughed over the dying, how he shattered the corpses of those he killed and disobeyed him. How young Jatar once looked up to him, how he wanted to be just like him! How he joined the other whelps, wrecking whatever remained of decimated medieval villages, eating whatever part of once living human was thrown at him…

“I am… NOT LIKE HIM!” – Jim shouted and head-butted Steve right in the stomach.

The taller boy didn’t even have time to react before he flew and crashed in the chairs behind him.

“What happened?!” – Ms. Janneth came rushing at the loud noise.

Steve had been knocked out, blood trickling down his face from a small cut and Jim was panting, on the verge of tears, shaking. Claire and Eli just stood to the side, not knowing what to do.

“I-I am s-sorry…” – Jim looked sick, the smell of human blood bringing back even more unpleasant memories, so he turned and ran.

===Time skip===

Toby was getting nervous. Jim should have come by now. In fact, he should have been here more than an hour ago, considering he walked. Toby was looking out of the window when he finally saw a familiar figure.

‘OK! Just how I practiced it! I will…’

Toby noticed just how slow Jim was on his bike. Something was wrong!

“Jimbo! Are you OK? What happened?” – now Toby could see that his friend had been crying.

“Something happened at rehearsal. Steve went too far and I just… snapped.” – Jim stated, looking at his hands.

“What happened next? Just tell me and I’ll help you egg his house.”

“Ah, no. There’s no need. Last time I saw him, he was loaded in an ambulance, so I think it will be fine without the eggs.” – Jim still felt terrible but Toby made things a bit better just by being with him.

‘I wonder if it’ll be the same when he sees the real you-‘ – Jim furiously stomped on that traitorous thought and shook his head.

“So, what happened with the gnome? Did you get rid of it or should I help?” – Jim switched the topic, needing to think about something else for a while.

“OH! About thaaat…”

………………….

“A gnome, living in a dollhouse…” – Jim looked at his friend flatly.

“I know how it looks like but listen! The little guy isn’t bad! He was just looking for a home! See?” – Toby pointed at the gnome trying to seduce a doll.

“But still…”

“Oh, please! Jimbo, can’t we keep him? Just look at him! I even thought of a name for him! Gnome Chomsky- how’s that?”

“To be honest… I kinda like it.”

“I know! It really suits him and I think he also likes it. Although we had to get rid of the gnomes, maybe we can take care of him? He can live with me and we can, ya know, doing things our own way.”

Toby’s words struck Jim. He felt lighter, somehow, maybe a bit elated?

‘Even though I was forced to become the Trollhunter, it doesn’t mean I need to do things their way. Maybe Toby is right, we can do it our way…I can do it my way.’ – he thought with a slight smile.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe it!”

“I know it’s hard to believe Ms. Lake but we have witnesses and-“

“I KNOW! Jim punched someone, I get it, but why do YOU want JIM to be expelled?!” – Barbara yelled at the principal.

“This is against the school rules and…”

“Oh, really?! My son hasn’t had a single offence since he started 1st grade, except sometimes being tardy, but it is normal for a teen. What I can’t understand is why only MY son gets punished so severely on his first offence? I’ve heard that Palchuk boy had been stuffing kids in the lockers! Is it because Jim never went to kindergarten? Is it because I’m a single parent? My husband leaving me? Him not being my biological kid?! Tell me?!!” – Barbara was on the offence and the principal shrunk back.

Outside the door Toby sat next to his friend, for moral support. Jim didn’t look as bad as the previous evening but still was not in the best mental state. It currently took everything Jim had to not loose the hold on his magic. He didn’t want weird stuff happening around him.

“Whoa, Jimbo, I never knew Dr. L could be so fierce.”

“I know. If she wants she can spook a troll.” – Jim laughed a bit but wasn’t wholeheartedly.

“Oh, come on! I doubt it. I mean, I was scared to death the first time I saw a troll, she’d probably freak out if she sees AARRRGH.” – Toby laughed at the memory.

Jim remembered their first meeting and how she chewed him one day just because he’d gone on a supply run in the mountains without telling her. It was the first time in a LONG time he’d been scared by a human.

‘Oh, Tobes, you have no idea how wrong you are. She offered coffee with a half-dead look in her eyes. Well, it might have been the headache but she was SO not freaked out by me.’

As expected, Barbara had been called the same evening after the incident. She wasn’t angry at him, nor did she scold him. She only asked him one thing: Did he deserve it?, nothing else. She then hugged Jim.

The door opened to reveal an irritated Barbara Lake and the principal cowering behind his desk.

“Come with me boys. We are going for milkshakes.” – she smiled at the two.

Toby was confused and Jim just nodded.

“Wait, you aren’t mad?” – the ginger-haired boy asked.

“Oh, I AM mad, but at the school. Really, trying to blame only Jim! So you know, there will be some punishment but at least I made sure they won’t expel or suspend you.”

“Thanks, mom.”

“For nothing.”

=The next day=

“Quiet down!” Strickler instructed the class “This is Ms. Nomura and she’s the museum’s curator.”

“It is nice to meet you all. As you may know…” – she started talking at the mostly uninterested crowd of teens.

Jim stood to the side as Toby listened about the museum’s mineral collection and scowled at Strickler. There was something fishy, he just couldn’t pinpoint what it was…

The doors opened and they entered the building. Even as they walked through the halls Jim couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was not right with the museum. He sniffed, trying to see if he can catch some scent but NOPE! He coughed and sneezed at the strong smell of cleaning products and other chemicals- a nasty concoction even for those with normal sense of smell.

“Hey! Jim, wait!”

He turned around and was Claire waving at him. He stopped and waited for the girl to come to him.

“Hey.”

“Hey! Sorry for the other day.” she apologized “What Steve said was wrong and…”

“There’s no need to apologize, you did nothing wrong.”

“But if I had done something, like calling Ms. Janneth or getting between you two, you wouldn’t have gotten detention!”

“Yeah, and probably would have been the one in hospital. Listen, I am not angry with you or anything, so you don’t need to apologize.”

“Uh…OK.”

“Jimbo! ...Oh! Hi Claire!” Toby pulled Jim closer and whispered “We may have a problem!”

=Later=

“Ugh!” Toby poked the slimy green squash on the road “What is that thing?”

“”Goblin.”” – Jim and Blinky said at the same time.

“Master Jim! I see you’ve been reading these days!”

“Uh- Yeah! Totally have!” – Jim blurted out, realizing he’d said it out loud.

“Good, good! And this goblin has been run over.”

“And why is it bad? You look really worried.” – Toby looked at his 3 companions.

“Goblins are ruthless tricksters, scavengers… they can cause simple mischief but also disasters!” – Blinky looked at Jim, expecting something.

“Uh…” Jim was feeling uncomfortable, he had to watch how much he says “Their revenge is usually tenfold.”

“That is correct, Master Jim! And the poor soul that ran over this one… Let Scargan’s swift blade have mercy!!!” – Blinky spat on his hands and did some gesture Jim didn’t quite recognize.

“Oh, then we have a serious problem!” then Toby saw a note “Hey! A delivery guy left a note on Eli’s house! Maybe he ran the goblin over. It says he’s going to come at eight!”

“Then we must prepare for the worst! The goblins may come at any moment!” – Blinky’s 6 eyes scanned the area.

“Jimbo, do you know what this means?”

“What?”

“Stakeout! It’s going to be SO interesting.”

“Yay.” – Jim didn’t look as excited as Toby but the shorter boy knew his friend was also having a bit of fun.

………………….

“Trollhunter to Warhammer, do you hear me?”

[Warhammer here! *huff* I’m hearing you loud and clear!]

“Are you jogging?! This is a stakeout!”

[I can’t help it! My need to exercise is too much to be contained!] – Toby joked.

“Do you see anything suspicious?”

[Nope! Nothing suspicious!] –You are suspicious. - [As I was saying, nothing suspicious for now. Warhammer out!]

Jim and Blinky hid in a bush and waited for another 30 minutes but there was still no sign of the delivery truck.

“What’s taking so long? That Delivery Guy should have come at eight!” – Blinky grumbled.

“We have no other choice. We have to wait.” – Jim sighed and handed the binoculars to the older troll.

That way he’d have something to do and not complain. The trick worked and Blinky began inspecting the device. A few minutes later a truck barreled down the street, it was the delivery guy. Jim stilled and looked around. A movement down the street caught his eye. One by one, street lamps stopped working.

[Warhammer here! Answer Trollhunter!]

“I’m here. What do you see?”

[They are everywhere! I see at least a dozen from behind the fence.]

“Oh no!” Blinky exclaimed in horror and snatched the walkie-talkie “There are too many! Stay down and don’t make a sound! They will attack anything in this state!”

Everyone laid low and waited. Soon a whole swarm of goblins came.

“No! Don’t do this Master Jim!” – Blinky pulled Jim back with some effort.

“I can’t leave them go after Eli! The delivery guy is in his house, remember?!”

“Waka Chaka!”

The swarm attacked but not the house, instead they crawled over the truck and started eating it, as if they were ants from an Indianna Jones movie.

‘Oh, thank every power in existence! I won’t have to defend a person from the gobins’ wrath!’ – Jim cheered internally, maybe a bit too early…

Something clanked and rolled down the road. All eyes turned to see Toby’s arm stretched to grab the dropped walkie-talkie.

“Hehe…oops.” – Toby quickly grabbed the walkie-talkie.

“WAKA CHAKAAAA!” – the mustached goblin shouted.

“Toby!!” – Jim shouted as he and the others ran away from the swarm.

“I am sorrryyyyyy!” – Toby shouted as he clung to AARRRGH’s back.

“Chakaaaa!” – one goblin jumped down from a street lamp and knocked the boy down from his perch.

“AAAAH! They got me!” – Toby shouted.

“Toby!”

Jim turned around and dove in to save his friend. He won’t allow his first true friend become goblin chow! He kicked away the few goblins that had latched on the boy and were dragging him towards the approaching horde.

“Waka chaka!” – two goblins hissed but Jim wasn’t scared, his brother was scarier without even trying.

“Come on Tobes!” he pulled his friend up “We need to hurry!”

The two boys ran but the horde was gaining on them.

“GAAAAAAAAAAAH!” – a goblin tried to bite on to Jim.

On instinct, Jim swung his hand, hit the goblin and sent it flying. SPLAT!

‘Oh, damn it!!!’

“WAKA CHAKAAAAAAA!”

“Go left!” – Toby instructed.

The four went left and Jim recognized it as their street.

“Toby! Why are you bringing them here?!” – he was NOT comfortable with a bunch of angry goblins following them home.

“To my house!” – Toby hopped and tried to get over the fence.

AARRRGH pushed the boy over, Jim jumped over without breaking a sweat. Toby scrambled to the door and desperately tried to unlock it faster but his hands slipped. Blinky, AARRRGH were looking around, waiting to fight off the oncoming goblins. A green head popped from behind the fence.

“Stay back!” – Jim turned the water hose at full power and sprayed.

“Waka chaka!” – more goblins came.

“I got it!” Toby opened the door “In! Quickly!”

They all squeezed through the small door at almost the same time. Jim wax very glad he was currently a smaller size.

The goblins were crawling over the wall when Toby reached the light switch. Strong lights flashed and illuminated the yard. The goblins retreated with a promise for revenge.

“Thank God! They are gone…” – Toby breathed a sigh of relief.

“Toby-pie! Is that you?!”

“Yes, Nana!” he opened the fridge “Don’t mind us! Just watch your show! AND keep the cats inside!!” – it wouldn’t be good if a goblin snagged one for dinner.

…………………………

“What should we do?! We have goblins after us!” – Toby munched on a candy bar.

“This is indeed a dire situation. The goblins will now be targeting you and they know where young Tobias lives now.” – Blinky’s expression was grim.

“Ugh! Why?! I knew we shouldn’t have come here! Now I’ve put you in danger!” Jim was pulling at his hair “I am sorry, Tobes.”

“Hey, if it wasn’t for me dropping the walkie-talkie, we wouldn’t have the goblins find us.”

“Maybe, but you aren’t the one that spattered one! Why can’t I control my strength in the most important moments?!” – Jim resisted banging his head on the wall. Yes, it might help a bit with the stress but a well-hidden imprint of his horns in the basement taught him not to do so inside buildings.

“Master Jim, you did the right thing by saving your friend, don’t forget that! Also, it’s not uncommon for youngsters to make mistakes.”

“Yes, I made a mistake and a horde of goblins is coming. At least Bular can’t come in the sun and the c- “Jim was about to say changelings but stopped himself “ and the goblins chasing us can come at any time!”

“Perhaps we can…”- a noise from the dollhouse made Blinky stop mid-sentence.

Curious, he leaned down and looked in to see Chompsky having a romantic dinner with Sally.

“What is a gnome doing in this dollhouse?!!”

“TOBY-PIE! I don’t recognize that voice!”

“It’s friend Nana!”

“Well, we didn’t throw it out or kill it…” Jim trailed off, ‘or eat it’ he didn’t dare say “… so we decided to keep it. You know, he really likes living in the dollhouse and hasn’t caused any trouble.”

“This is a violation to rule 2!”

“Yes, but so is to not be afraid when faced with goblins! Look, I know there’s a whole lot of things that is required of a Trollhunter but I have my own life. I have a family, I don’t quite like it but go to school, I may suck at video games but still play them. A Trollhunter has to fight, I know that very well, but I don’t like it. I don’t like confrontations and would rather stand aside but I am trying! I really am trying to fight, even though I don’t like it.” he looked in Blinky’s eyes “I’ve done things MY way before, I don’t plan to stop now just because I’ve been chosen to be the Trollhunter against my will.”

“I understand, Master Jim. I’ve been putting too much on you. You were doing so well in training, so it seems I have forgotten you not only have responsibilities towards Trollmarket. You are also a human, so don’t worry! Me and AARRRGH will think of a way to not get you maimed by a horde of gnomes!”

Jim was touched but stayed silent and bit his cheek. He felt a pang of guilt that he was lying to Blinky, AARRRGH and Toby every time he didn’t rebuke the trolls that he was human. The fear, however, was still there. He didn’t want to die, nor to leave everything, again. Jim even started to feel close to the two trolls in the room, not on the same level as his mom or Toby but they were no longer strangers.

………………………….

“Whoa! A headshot! I didn’t know it was possible.”

“Ugh! Great, I hit Claire and now, the girls are silently cursing me. We have to find a way to deal with the goblins coming after us!” – Jim rubbed his temples.

“Yeah, but how?! We don’t even know where they are.”

At that time Toby’s phone beeped.

“I got a windbreaker?! But how? I lost the Chubby tracker last-“

The two boys exchanged meaningful looks.

“”The Chubby tracker!””

“One of the goblins must have picked it up!” (Jim)

“And we can find their position with the tracking function on my phone!”

“Yes! And maybe I won’t become a goblin chow or something similar.” – Jim really didn’t want to reach that point where he’d have to transform. One of the goblins might report it to Strickler or worse- Bular.

…………………………

“In the museum?! Why would they even be in a museum?” – Toby quietly protested as he and Jim were sneaking inside.

“Shh! They may hear us.”

“OK. We find the goblins, then what?”

Jim looked at Toby, contemplating if he should say ‘burn them all’ or try to paraphrase it.

*CLACKCLACK!* - the loud sound of heels on marble floor made them freeze.

“Hide!” – Jim mouthed and they scrambled to find cover.

Toby hid behind a mineral display and Jim ducked behind a statue of some moustached guy with a cane. He peered out and saw Nomura pass by and enter a ‘Staff Only’ room. This looked very suspicious, considering the GPS showed Toby’s tracker to be in that same room.

“Jim!” Toby jogged to him “We have to help her! She may become a goblin chow!”

“No! We have to be careful!”

“What?! Why?”

“Just… trust me, OK?”

Toby nodded and the two tiptoed to the door.

………………………………….

Nomura hated this. She not only had to run the museum, oversee the restoration of the bridge but also had to cover up Bular eating the night guard. The museum still stank of chemicals due to that brute’s messy eating habits. Why did he have to kill and mess up her museum?

She impatiently tapped her left foot on the floor. From the ceiling one goblin came down, he had a moustache and some sort of thing on his neck…*creak~*

Nomura quickly unsheathed her blades and turned around with a snarl.

“Oops!” – she recognized the chubby boy as the one that bugged her about the mineral collection.

“Oh, damn it!” – the slim one was the new Trollhunter.

She smirked viciously. This was going to be great. She just needed to kill the brat and be rid of one more problem.

………………………………………

“Changeling…” Jim muttered to himself “Of course it’ll be that.”

Nomura lunged at him, so he rolled to the left and activated the amulet. He spun the large blade and blocked her two crescent blades. He pushed her back, barely making her take a step back.

“What is it? Am I too big of a bite for you mighty Trollhunter?” – she sneered.

He SO wished to have his daggers with him right now but they were hidden in his room. The sword might be magical but it was still a fairly large blade and much slower than Nomura. If he had his daggers, he would have been able to nick her by now. Alas, he was on the defensive right now. He barely managed to black her hits with all the false swipes, feints, leg sweeps- all moves he’d done at some point in the past.

“Heh!” she took a step back and stared at him “You are better than what I expected from an adolescent fleshbag.” – it was a standoff.

Nomura was genuinely surprised, despite not showing it on the outside. It seemed almost like the teen in front of her knew what she’d do and anticipated her moves before she even did them. He was bad with the sword but not quite as horrible as she’d expected.

Jim knew she was judging him. Despite her strength, she wasn’t suited to be a warrior but more of an assassin type. She relied on speed, agility and hitting the vital spots of an enemy without having to beat him down with brute force.

They both waited for the moment to attack. A moment of distraction, a single twitch might determine the outcome of the fight.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” – Toby burst out from behind a curtain.

He was holding his Chubby tracker in one hand while trying to bat off the goblins that have crawled on him. He tripped and grabbed on to the nearest thing- a piece of cloth.

Toby took the cloth down with him, uncovering the half-complete Killahead bridge. Thankfully the goblins had jumped off the boy as he was falling, not wanting to be squashed.

Jim was shocked at the sight of the bridge. It brought unpleasant memories closer to the surface but he grit his teeth and spun around. Sparks flew as he barely managed to block Nomura’s attempt to behead him.

“What are you doing Tobes? Get away from here!” – Jim shouted, his battle getting uncomfortably close to his unarmed friend.

“Waka chaka!” – more goblins started to appear.

“Uh oh…” – Toby nervously gulped and pocketed the Chubby tracker.

“Give it up, Trollhunter I will be taking you down tonight!”

This was quickly turning really bad. They were outnumbered and as more goblins woke up, it would become harder for them to escape. Just then, he noticed a goblin trying to sneak on Toby and that goblin was just behind Nomura.

“It won’t happen!”

“Oh, so you can understand me!” – she mocked him and began to slowly approach him.

“Being cocky gets you killed!” – he suddenly shouted, startling her with a flash of light.

Jim then pulled the carpet she was standing on.

“NOOOO!” – with a wet splat, she squashed the goblin.

Suddenly, the green creatures’ attention was on her.

“No! It wasn’t my fault!” – she backed away from the splat zone.

“WAKA CHAKAAA!”

“RUN!” – Jim deactivated the armor and pulled Toby towards the exit.

Toby struggled to not drop his phone as he took a few quick pictures of the bridge.

The two boys got on their bikes and pedaled away as quickly as they could. When they were halfway to their houses, Toby ran out of stamina and almost collapsed. Jim stopped, concerned about his friend.

“Are you ok?”

“NO!” Toby panted “Troll… change… how?!”

“Toby, calm down, take deep breaths.”

“How… can you be so calm?!” he was getting a bit hysterical “They can look human! They can be anywhere!”

“Tobes-“

Sirens sounded and police lights flashed.

“Get off the bikes! Hands behind your head!”

The two obeyed the policeman.

“Yes, these two match the description of the two that broke into the museum…”

“Well… this could have gone better.” – Jim said to himself rather than to someone else.

====Bonus====

He woke up in a cave, a weight sprawled on his legs. He turned around, kicking his legs and making the whelp laying on them fall down with a loud thump. The whelp, whose name he had forgotten, was not pleased but a glare and a growl from Jatar quickly made him shrink back.

Jatar snorted and stood up, stretching and shaking off the stiffness from his legs. The other whelps were starting to also wake up one by one.

Life for the Gumm-Gumms was not easy. You had to prove you are strong enough to be allowed to live. Some became warriors, others were given to become Changelings and it wasn’t rare for some to be killed just because they were in the wrong place or were too weak.

One of Jatar’s earliest memories is him being pushed around by s bunch of bigger whelps and his father’s angry look.

“You have to squash them! Show them you are superior!” – Gunmar had shouted.

Jatar had listened and jumped on the much larger opponent in front of him. After that was a scramble for a better position. Thanks to Jatar’s longer legs and smaller frame, he managed to slip out before they could pin him down. He had then snuck away but not before leaving a few distinct bite marks and breaking one of his attackers’ horns.

Jatar felt pride by remembering that. He trained for a bit before everyone was called outside of the cave they were sleeping in.

“Listen up! Tonight, we will feast!” Bular proclaimed “No more dry game meat! There’s a human settlement not far from here, we’re going there and massacring them all!”

Cheers sounded and roars echoed through the mountains.

There was blood, so much blood, SCREAMS! The houses were either destroyed or burning…

Jatar scrambled, not daring to get too close to the feasting adults. After all, some could get quite temperamental. He could see several more whelps waiting for something to be thrown or dropped and even a few changelings watching from the shadows.

A chunk of bloody meat fell on the ground, he ran, kicked another whelp away and grabbed the piece before anyone could pick it up. He scuttled back and bit into it, relishing the taste-

Jim’s eyes shot open, almost jumping up. Good thing he didn’t or there would have been a hole in the ceiling. He panted, one hand over his raising heart. He was shaking from the dream. He felt cornered and dirty, as if the blood from over 4 centuries ago was still on his hands.

He looked and his stony arms, sharp claw on each finger… he could easily crush a person’s skull with them, slice them open… NO! He wasn’t!! He had decided he won’t! He was never going back to that ever again.

Standing on shaky legs, he looked around his room. Bookshelves full of books, both magical and mundane, even a few magazines. His school books, a picture of him and Barbara on their last trip to the mountains. He was in human form on it but he’d been in his real form during the whole trip, no one bothering them in a hut so deep in the mountains.

Jim took a pen and a piece of paper, writing a simple message ‘I am going out. Will be back before school.’. He gently entered his mom’s room and left it beside her glasses.

That night he snuck out of the back door and went into the forest, just walking around, alone with his thoughts.

Chapter Text

A lot of things had happened in the past few days. After Toby and Jim were arrested, Barbara took them home, complete silence, no one talked during the drive.

Toby was awake the whole night, looking at Jim’s house through the window. He could vaguely see Jim’s and Barbara’s figures through the windows. It looked as if they were arguing. Of course they would! Dr. L was a chill mom but Toby doubted she’d let something like this go. Then, Jim ran off to his room. Toby could see him in the window just before he closed his curtains. Sometimes he hated how thick Jim’s curtains were. Now, he had no way to know what happened in Jim’s room.

“Warhammer to Trollhunter, do you hear me?” – he whispered through the walkie-talkie.

[Yes, I hear you.] – Jim sounded tired and his voice somewhat different.

Maybe he’d shouted too much? Or had cried or something else? Toby was not quite sure.

“What happened? Did your mom scold you too bad?”

[Nah, it was not that bad.] there was some shuffling and scraping sound [I am sure what angered her the most was that I lied to her. She didn’t believe we broke into a museum just for your tracker.]

“Yea… that really could have gotten better…”

[Could have been worse.]

“How so?”

[Bular might have been there that night.]

Realization hit Toby. They were indeed lucky they hadn’t met Bular. He was still shaking from remembering how they were chased on Jim’s bicycle.

[Anyways, I have to go now. Trollhunter out.]

“Take care, Jimbo!”

Toby carefully placed the walkie-talkie on his night stand and stared at it for a while. What had happened in the museum replayed again and again…? That woman, Nomura, had transformed. She became some sort of vicious she-troll and tried to kill them, especially Jim. They really could be anywhere and it scared Toby a bit. The second thing was that flash of light. He had dismissed it at first but now, he knew it came from Jim. How did he do that? He had no flashlight and… now that he thought about it, strange things sometimes happened around Jim. Things he could not explain. Was his friend secretly a wizard? …Nah! Maybe Jim had some sort of power due to the amulet. It was the amulet of Daylight, so maybe it was a sort of self-defense mechanism?

Toby slumped in his bed and opened his picture gallery. There, in the very back was a blurred picture of the half-completed bridge. He got a bad feeling just by looking at it. As soon as they could get out, Toby was going to show this to Blinky and AARRRGH.

……………………………………

“So, Changelings…” – Toby half-ran to keep up with AARRRGH.

“Hmm. Spies. Can change in human.” – the troll confirmed.

“Yes, they are completely immune to sunlight in their human forms and can’t be differentiated from normal humans. The only way to find one is to see them transform or use a Gaggletack. It forces a Changeling to go into their other form.” – Blinky supplied.

“So, where are we going right now?” – Jim asked.

“To get a Gaggletack, of course!”

………………………………………

So, Toby’s brilliant idea was to try and find changelings in the school. Jim knew who was 100% changeling but he couldn’t say it out loud. Why would he know who is changeling in the first place?

It was fun throwing the horseshoe at Steve, though. Toby was the one to offer it and Jim just couldn’t resist. Was it spite? Just plain grudge or childishness? Jim knew he was much older, he realized he shouldn’t do this… but it felt SO DAMN GOOD!!

“I don’t get it! Why hasn’t it worked on anyone… AH! Maybe it IS my dentist!” Toby the n stopped “Jim! We haven’t tried with him!”

Jim looked in the direction Toby was pointing and saw Strickler, Stricklander to be more accurate, walking by some students.

‘Oh, no! If the Gaggletack touches him, it’ll be a pure chaos!’ – Jim panicked as his friend started walking towards the changeling.

He didn’t like the man, he disliked the very idea of doing something that’ll benefit the changeling. This time, however, was better for everyone to not expose him. It would not only cause panic but will probably result in many deaths. Who knew exactly how many changelings lurked in Arcadia?

“Oh, come on, Tobes! Strickler has been in this school for like… forever! Also, I don’t think we’ll get away with yeeting a horseshoe at a teacher’s head. No matter how much I want to…” – Je muttered the last part but Toby heard him.

“Yeah, I guess you are right. But it would have been fun! You have a very good aim!” – he gave thumbs up to Jim.

‘Yeah, throwing daggers really helps you with throwing horseshoes…’

As they walked by Strickler, Jim noticed the sideways glance the man gave the Gaggletack, half-poling out of Toby’s pocket.

===Time skip===

Jim was TIRED. Do, so tired of all of it… He was going to tell his mom about the Trollhunting business but he just hasn’t found the moment to do so. With her working schedule, their confrontation after the museum and his own work, he just had no time! Heck, he’d even postponed some of his experiments because of this whole mess of work!

Potions? No time! Magic research? NOPE! Studying the amulet in order to unravel its secrets and find a way to get rid of it? Good luck in 10 years!

He paced in the basement, his heavy steps echoing throughout the empty house. He felt almost as if he was in a cage, a prisoner of his own life.

‘I have to get out!’ – was the only thought in his mind as he ran out of the back door and into the woods.

Jim had shed almost all of his clothing on the way out of the house, leaving him with only shorts. Branches were broken and small stones flew as he made his way deeper into the woods. He was panting – he could feel the magic inside him shifting and raging in synch with his emotions. Without a doubt his eyes were starting to glow pretty brightly.

Jim ran and ran, his dark living stone allowing him to blend into the darkness. You could only see a dark mass bulldozing through the forest and two glowing blue eyes.

Eyes… At moments, his eyes were SO similar to those of his father… way too similar and he hated it…

The rain fell and washed his body. After a while, Jim stopped and flopped on the muddy ground with a loud thud and a splash of muddy water. He sat there, rain falling on him. He shook himself but if didn’t matter in the open, he’d get wet again.

“Sigh… why…?”

Jim looked at the cloudy sky, tears of frustration mixing with the raindrops.

“Why?!” he shouted at the empty space in front of him “GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARH!” – he roared like that until he had to take a breath again.

Jim’s eyes sparked, you could see the magic energy gathering in his clawed hands, causing the water to evaporate from its sheer power. He grit his teeth and swung his arm down at the nearest tree.

CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK~!

The sound of the impact was heard even in Arcadia, dogs started to bark and some of the more sensitive car alarms began to beep.

===With Toby===

The consistent pitter-patter of rain kept company to Toby’s nightly musings.

The last few days were quite hectic. They discovered there are evil trolls that can turn into humans, they were arrested, then released, his dentist’s assistant was a changeling and she literally EXPLODED in front of him! He was still shocked by this. Finally, it was starting do dawn on him how seriously dangerous things could get. Someone had died and even though Toby didn’t want to think about it, it could have been him instead of her or even Jim could have gotten seriously hurt! Bringing the Gaggletack in school was his idea and it was idiotic. The boy tried to fall asleep but it was evading him. Even though Blinky had given them the night off to catch some sleep, it just… wasn’t working for him.

He turned and tossed, finally, he threw the covers to the side and stood up from his bed.

Yes, his daily training was giving some results. He was no longer out of breath after running a few meters and could somewhat keep up with Jim in certain areas. (Although ever since the Bike chase with Bular, it felt as if Jim had always held back…)

Now that he thought about it… strange things had happened around Jim before. Bullies becoming unlucky and always tripping after bothering Jim and those close to him. The time a man had broken in Lake’s house and then ran to the police station on his own, crying. How Steve had been sent to a hospital after Jim hit him once. And the flashes. He had dismissed it at first but after seeing the flash back in the museum, Toby was sure Jim somehow made them. Was it the amulet? It glowed after all. Or was Jim also secretly a magician? Why hadn’t he told Toby about it?!

Toby leaned on the windowsill and looked at the street. All the water drops on the glass and the darkness, illuminated only by street lamps made their street look like something out of a Monster Hunter episode. The foliage across the street moved. Toby squinted, trying to see what was moving it. Suddenly, something big and black ran deeper into the foliage, disappearing in a second, just the way it appeared.

‘Bular…’ – Toby was frozen at his place from the mere thought.

That vicious troll knew where they lived! After a few seconds though, he calmed down a bit.

‘No… it wasn’t Bular! Bular doesn’t move like that while running, he runs on all fours, plus he has these giant blades, they would have reflected the light! Whoever this was, didn’t have any reflective items on their body. But… Why would trolls come so close to Jim’s house? Also, I don’t think I’ve seen any trolls this dark, maybe even black…’

For a moment, Toby considered trying to follow the mysterious troll but quickly gave up on it. He troll was probably long gone by now and it was dumb to go out in a stormy night, alone.

Toby sat on his bed and soon felt the exhaustion lull him…

CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK~!

He was woken up rather rudely and his Nana’s cats started yowling like it was the end of the world.

“Toby-pie!”

“Coming Nana!”

Apparently she was also awake.

======

The rain had stopped a while ago. Jim, soaked to the core and water still dripping from his wet scruff. The sky had started to clear and the sun would soon rise, so he was heading home.

He felt calmer and centered, nothing like last night. He wasn’t proud of himself, taking out his frustration on trees and rocks in the forest but he wouldn’t deny it helped.

‘Huh? What is that?’

Jim ran and jumped up, grabbing a thick branch for leverage. His eyes widened. There, on top of a building was walking a goblin with a bundle in its arm. He knew very well what that meant – a human baby had been switched for a changeling! He let go of the branch and transformed on the way down. People were starting to wake up and it would cause panic if they saw a huge stone monster, on the other hand a teen running in only shorts was not scary at all, just odd.

He ran to the nearest building at full speed, noting but a blur. The gobbling was fast. Jim tried his best to follow the critter, maybe he’d find their new hideout… Unfortunately, after rounding a corner, he found himself in a dead end. The goblin even had the audacity to laugh as it jumped behind the high wall. As it did so, something small slipped out of the bundle- a plush rabbit fell in a puddle with a splat. Jim gently picked it up and cursed.

(AN: This may be short but is sort of a filler chapter that just had to get out at some point.)

Chapter Text

Hey, people! Guess what? I have FANART!!!!

Yep! I am SOOOOO excited about it and decided to share it! Here’s the link to the creator’s tumblr: https://earth-ambassador-jim.tumblr.com/post/190273656552/full-troll-jim-from-kabaneris-fic-son-of-the

This is surprisingly close to what Jatar/Jim looked the first time he met Barbara. At least similar to what I envisioned and tried to describe. Also, because some people have asked me before, here are some things about Jim/Jatar:

-Yes, he is younger than Draal by quite a bit. Draal faught at Killahead while Jatar was still quite young and couldn’t do it due to the sheer difference in strength between whelp and almost adult troll.

-Jatar IS shorter than Bular (when not on his knuckles) but not by much.

-You might have guessed it, but Jatar’s transformation magic, although similar, and based on Changeling transformation, is not the same, hence, Gaggletacks do not affect it, only cause him minor discomfort due to their nature.

-Jatar does not have any markings, like other trolls. You have seen how those markings are made and since he had stayed away from other trolls, not had any real skill or wanted to try and carve them himself, there are none on him.

-Curious fact: Jatar can knit and has a Christmas sweater in troll size hidden deep in the wardrobe. He though it interesting, so he knitted himself one, tried it and… he looked ridiculous, so he hid it. Barbara took some pictures, though.

PS: Wow, I just… I still can’t believe somebody made fanart based on one of my stories.

Chapter Text

A baby had been taken, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM!! Jim was almost pulling his hair out of frustration. How cruel it was. Somebody’s child had been taken and replaced with a creature, the family not even realizing their baby was now in another dimension.

“Jim? What’s wrong?”

He almost jumped, not noticing Barbara approaching him sooner.

“Uh… I am fine, I think… Yes! I am f-fine!” – he stuttered.

“No you are not. Jim, please, tell me. I can help you with whatever I can, it may not be much but it’ll at least make thing easier. Trust me, I have experience.” – she put a hand on his shoulders.

“Ugh… I know.” he sighed “It’s just… I am so much older than you and I should HAVE a way to do this but-“ he squeezed the back of a nearby chair and Barbara could hear the faint cracking from the force “I just… I don’t know what to do!” – he finally admitted.

“You are a teen Jim, a few centuries old teen, and you should just BE! You don’t need to take the weight of the world on your back.”

“Yeah…” he almost laughed due to this literally being the case “Thanks mom.”

“No problem. Now, will you tell me what this is all about?”

“Don’t you have to go to work? I also have to prepare for the school play…”

“Jim, are you trying to divert my attention? It won’t work, young man! It’s a parent’s job to worry! You will tell me, one way or another!”

“I KNOW!” he winced at how loud he said it “Just, not today. I will be late tonight… again. I’ll tell you after I’m back.” – the ‘if I can come back’ was left unsaid.

“Really? You are not trying to sneak out of the conversation again, are you?”- she eyed him skeptically.

“No, not this time. I promise.” – he looked her in the eyes and she just knew he was serious about it.

‘I WILL come back, even if I have to fight my way out of Trollmarket! I promised mom. I can’t just leave her… I won’t leave her behind!’

………………………………………………..

Jim and Toby found themselves in school. They sat in the chairs, watching Steve and Claire acting. Steve had recently gotten out of hospital, so he was quite vindictive and trying to one-up Jim in every way. He was currently making use of Jim’s punishment to try and make Ms. Janeth chose him as Romeo for the play. With how he acted around Claire, Jim and his quite mediocre acting, it was obvious Jim would most likely take the role of Romeo.

“Jimbo.” Toby whispered “Are you ready for tonight? With you-know-what…”

“For the 8th time, yes. I have prepared as much as I could. I’m just trying not to panic here!” –Jim’s voice slightly rose at the end, making Ms. Janeth scowl.

“Quiet, please.”

“Yes, sorry Ms. Janeth.” – they apologized.

===With Draal===

Draal the Deadly was currently in stomping through Trollmarket, unable to stay still before the fight. He had already trained, exercised, cleaned his dwelling- twice, yet he was still restless.

‘Why do I feel like this?! Am I… nervous? NO! That’s absurd! He’s just a fleshbag! What can he do?’

Yet, something about the new Trollhunter confused and irked him at the same time. The black-haired boy had challenged him – in more ways than just the coming fight. The boy had acted protectively of his fellow fleshbag, he had also been steady instead of cowering in front of angry troll. The boy not only had not backed away but actually provoked him. Stepping forward, demanding respect, a clear show of confidence in their strength, a challenge to Draal’s authority, invasion of his personal space, also some cockiness and brashness. Draal had been too caught in the display and too angry to calmly think it through, so he had not only bumped heads with the boy, entered an insult match BUT responded to a challenge from a fleshbag! HIM! The boy had been acting so much like a juvenile troll that needed to be put into place that Draal had barely resisted knocking his horns into the boy’s skull.

Yeah, that may have seriously injured or outright killed the human but it would have been dishonorable to get the amulet in such a way, now that he thought about it. Maybe the issuing the duel WAS the correct decision.

===The library===

“Blinky OK?” – AARRRGH asked.

“OK? I am not OK! Ah, sorry for the tone.” He quickly apologized to his friend “It’s just… this whole thing is ridiculous! A fight, to the death?! Master Jim has hardly had enough training! I fear he would literally be crushed! All of Trollmarket would be there!”

“Hmm…” AARRRGH looked thoughtful for a while “It’s OK. Trust Jim.”

“Yeah, I guess you are right, my friend. I may be judging the situation a bit too hastily, maybe even biased. We have to trust master Jim’s skills and support him through this ordeal with all we can! He has even taken some books to his home and has read at least a bit. Maybe he has figured where Draal’s weak spot might be!”

===Time skip===

It felt a bit oppressive to be walking on the streets of Trollmarket right now. Trolls shot Jim and Toby looks and whispered to themselves. Toby stuck close to his friend for support and Jim was tense. The way all these trolls were gathered made it seem like there were even more than usual. Maybe it was because he’d never seen all trolls gathered together…

A small hand on Jim’s back made him relax. Toby was near him, near enough that if all went to hell, he’d be able to grab him and run away together.

‘Focus! You have to make sure you are not discovered and potentially executed on the spot. Just find the right moment and hit Draal’s weak spots every time you can!’ – Jim went through his plan.

“Master Jim! Young Tobias!” Blinky jogged towards them “You are finally here! I was getting a bit worried.”

“Of course I am here, I put myself in this mess, so I should fix it myself.” – Jim wished he’d be able to go back in time and kick himself before the whole challenge happened.

“And I am here to support my friend!” Toby eyed Jim “Despite him trying to convince me several times not to come tonight.”

‘Yeah, because if I do end up having to turn back to my real form, I’d have to also make sure you are safe while escaping.’

“Ah, yes. Now, we don’t have much time to loose! Everyone has started gathering and the duel will start soon!” – Blinky led them off to the forge.

…………………………..

The atmosphere was quite oppressive. They’d been in the forge so many times before but Toby had never thought it may feel so… oppressive. Above them were almost all trolls living here and they were waiting for the ‘show’. Jim had his armor on and Toby could just tell he was steeling himself by the slightly distant look in his friend’s eyes.

Oh, yeah. Despite all that has happened, Jim still didn’t like conflict. The only times Toby had ever seen him lash out was when he was desperate or really distressed. Jim was strong, very strong, if he tried, Toby was sure his friend could bench-press a couch without a problem. That would be totally awesome and seeing everyone awed would make Toby’s day but Jim didn’t like showing off either. There was something that bothered him.

Toby never knew Mr. Lake and the way Jim got when people talked about his father… At first, Toby thought he was upset about his dad leaving but recently, it was more like the association with the word was the thing making Jim uncomfortable rather that James Lake himself. Was it always like that? Did he just start noticing that about his friend? More and more questions popped in his mind and all were connected to his bestie. Toby wanted answers but decided against it, this was NOT what his friend needed right now!

“Hey, Jimbo. You holding up there.”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because I know how much you hate this but don’t worry! I have your back. If something happens, I’ll even jump in and kick Draal in the gronk-nuks!” – he flashed a smile at his friend.

“Haha! Of course you’d do that.” – Jim believed his friend’s words.

He looked at Toby took a deep breath and exhaled, letting off a lot of the tension he had in.

……………………………………

Draal waited the duel to start. He was trying to intimidate, even stare down the fleshbag but it wasn’t working. In fact, it had the opposite effect. The moment he tried that, the boy went from scared to defiant! Now, the two were glaring and glowering at each other.

No matter what, he was going to win!

………………………………….

As soon as the match started, Draal charged at Jim.

The older troll had come to the duel without any weapons, probably thinking that he’d be able to take out Jim without needing them. Jim knew that cockiness can be one’s fall, so he had prepared, he even had a one of his daggers hidden in his clothes. He was not going to use it if everything went fine but it was nice to have a more comfortable weapon on had in case something happened.

Jim jumped to the side, dodging the first charge. Draal stumbled a bit after not hitting anything, turned around and tried to punch Jim. He twisted his body, ducked and twisted between the stone fists, they only coming close but not doing any damage.

The trolls in the arena were having mixed reactions. Some were disappointed by the lack of injury, others were excited to see how the boy would fare against the previous Trollhunter’s son while others were booing and shouting. AARRRGH and Blinky were anxiously watching from the side, not making a sound. Toby… Toby was in awe! Jim was doing better than he expected. It was nothing like the training sessions with Blinky and AARGH! Right now, his friend moved more swiftly and quickly than every other time he’d seen him in the forge.

“GRAAAAAAH!” – Draal roared.

The blue troll was angry! He hadn’t been able to even scratch the human boy, only coming close before missing by a few centimeters. So, he jumped, rolled into a ball and went straight for Jim.

Jim quickly jumped to the side, summoning Daylight to protect his top half with the blade. The spikes scraped over the blade instead his cheek. Sparks flew and he tumbled to the side. Draal continued rolling, made a turn using the wall and again went after Jim. Jim got on his feet and quickly scampered away to not be hit by Draal’s sharp, spiky back. The crowd roared and stomped in excitement at the sight of more action. The sword weighed Jim down and made him a bit unbalanced, having one instead of two. Draal was not giving up anytime soon, so all Jim could do was dodge.

Toby saw that and held his breath. His friend was now scrambling and struggling not to get run over by a spiky ball of doom. What had happened?!

Blinky stared a bit at Jim. What had happened? Until a moment ago, he’d been going great? What had caused the sudden shift in his movement? He hadn’t been hit on anything. Was it the shock of Draal’s spikes coming so close, only the swords protect- THE SWORD! Blinky’s eyes widened as he realized that. He watched the boy closely, now knowing what to look at. As he dodged Draal’s continuous attack, it was obvious the sword was somehow clashing with his style.

‘How is that possible?! Master Jim has not fought before. The sword should have been his first real weapon! Unless… it wasn’t. But why would a young human need a weapon in this age, then?’ – Blinky got a feeling something wasn’t quite right.

Some things just weren’t adding up and Blinkous berated himself for not noticing earlier. Theories and questions started forming in his mind but he shook his head, focusing on the battle in front of him.

After Draal almost ran over him for the 10th time, Jim had enough. As the older troll charged at him, he made no effort to dodge.

“JIIIIIIIM!” – Toby shouted in panic.

Jim waited and when Draal came too close to dodge, he embedded Daylight’s blade in the floor under an angle and crouched behind in. Sparks flew as Draal came and was sent up in the air. The sudden lack of contact and weightlessness that came from propelling straight up and going down made Draal disoriented. He uncurled and fell flat on his stomach. Before he could properly get on his feet, an armored leg delivered a kick in his face.

“Gah!” Draal stumbled backwards “You little-“

He was interrupted when Jim grabbed the ring in his nose and tugged, the pain momentarily blinded him, so he swung his arms around. Jim jumped away, summoned the sword in his hand and waited. It would be kind of unwise to go in and get knocked away, losing the advantage he’d managed to re-gain. Just then, the platforms started to rumble and move yet again. Of course they won’t let the battlefield stay the same during the whole battle! Jim cursed in his mind and jumped off of the already rotating platform, only to be punched by Draal. Jim flew a bit before he painfully thumped on the floor.

“Haa… haah…” Draal breathed heavily as he walked towards his fallen opponent “You cannot be the Trollhunter… you are just a boy!”

“Like I wanted this stupid amulet ho hit me in the head!” – Jim delivered a swift and frustration-filled kick to Draal’s gronk-nuks.

A lot of the trolls and one human boy winced. Draal doubled down in pain. Jim pointed the tip of Daylight at him.

“I give you a chance here, give up and no one would get hurt… further.” – he added as an afterthought.

“Never!” – Draal growled and swiped at jim.

He dodged the swipe with ease. Something in the wall behind him started to slowly click. Jim remembered that sound from the many training sessions Blinky had put him through.

“OK then. I guess we’re doing this the hard way… Now come at me!” – Jim baited him, resisting the rising urge to flash his teeth to make the aunt even more effective.

Jim carefully backed away, keeping his eyes on Draal the whole time. This could change everything. If it went fine, he might take Draal out in one move, if not… he’d return to his plan to tire the troll out, which had worked quite well until now, judging by the heavy breathing.

CLICK! NOW!

Jim quickly dropped to the floor as a giant blade swung out from the wall. It hit Draal square in the chest and sent him flying over the edge.

‘OH NO!’ – Jim paled at the thought that he killed the troll.

After no agonizing screams we heard, he calmed down a bit and rushed to the spot.

Everyone was quiet, not realizing what had happened for quite a while.

“Master Jim won!!” – Blinky finally cheered, prompting a cheer from Toby and AARRRGH.

“Finish the fight! Finish the fight…”

The chant ran through the forge. Jim looked from the platform as Draal hung below him.

“Heh… what are you waiting for? Finish me.” – Draal sounded defeated, he’d accepted his fate by now.

Jim just stood there and stared down at the troll. It would be an understatement to say that Draal was scared, he was terrified. At that moment the silhouette of the boy, looming over him felt powerful, oppressive

Jim felt terrible. The win brought him no satisfaction. He felt terrible, he was revolted! This reminded him too much of the past. Gumm-Gumms cheering at the carnage, him saying to the side, watching. How trolls had given up, fought to the bitter end, screamed as they were broken… As Draal’s fate was put in his hands, he felt as if he’d taken his father’s place in those memories.

Jim furiously grit his teeth and almost snarled. He lifted his sword, feeling even worse by seeing Draal flinch at the sight of the blade, and stabbed in the stone next to him. He leaned down, grabbed Draal’s arm a bit roughly and pulled him up, surprising the troll with his strength.

“Get up! I am not killing you.”

The crowd was displeased and started shouting.

“SHUT UP!” Jim shouted, the fury in his voice evident “SHUT YOUR DANED MOUTHS! ALL OF YOU!”

The forge fell silent, nervous glances exchanged between trolls. Vendel stared, shocked, contemplating what to do.

“I WON! Do you have something to say? HUH?! I won’t kill him! I refuse to kill him and guess what? You can’t do anything! I am the new Trollhunter, whether I like it or not! I don’t care what YOU think is right” he pointed at Vendel “I will do thinks my way and I REFUSE to kill somebody because of a stupid spat! So shut up or come down and settle it on your own!”

Jim was seething at this point and even his amazing self-restraint couldn’t hold back his emotions from showing.

“Ooookay… time to go Jimbo.” – Toby tugged his friend’s arm.

Blinky and AARRRGH ushered Draal through another door on the other side of the arena. Jim sent Vendel one last dirty look before also being dragged out of the forge.

======

Jim was in his back yard when he heard something big and heavy moving closer. He steeled himself, hand casually sliding towards his hidden dagger.

“I know you are there. Show yourself!”

From the foliage came Draal. The thought of cutting the greenery a bit crossed Jim’s mind but then he remembered he also used this to get in and out of the house without being noticed, so he let the idea go.

“What are you doing here? What happened after the fight? I didn’t see you after Toby dragged me off.” – Jim was confused.

He thought they had settled the argument, so why was the older troll in his back yard.

“I have come here to apologize and thank you.”

“For what? Why?”

“I am sorry for my behavior; it was uncalled for.”

“Yeah, you acted like some bigot. No offence.”

“None taken. I also thank you, for not killing me with the sword of daylight.”

“No need. I am not so cruel to kill you for a spat, for which I am also guilty, especially with your father’s own weapon. What would that make? I am not some monster.”

“Yeah…” – uncomfortable silence followed with Draal not expecting the conversation to go this way.

“Yeah, so… want to talk?”

“About what?”

“About your father. You looked kinda…” Jim struggled to find the proper word to not insult Draal but gave up “Look. I can’t say I’ve had a close relationship with my father. I respected him, but we weren’t close. He wasn’t the best father, heck, he wasn’t a very good father. Although it may not be exactly the same, I can relate somewhat.” – Jim sat down in front of the back door.

“What do you mean?” – Draal sat on the grass not too far away from him.

“Uh, how do I explain it? Do you know what adoption is?”

“Yeah, I know what that is. I am not stupid.” – Draal sounded a bit offended.

“So, my mother, she died when I was very young, even before I could walk even, so I was raised by my father. The one I told you about. I…” Jim took a calming breath “One day… I ran away from my real family. It was just… too much for me. I didn’t want to be part of any of that…” he whispered in the end “I lived on my own before I met mom a few years ago. I planned to stay for a bit and leave but one day I just realized that this house had become my home. Barbara had become the mother I never had. She’s closer to me than my father ever was. I don’t want to lose her, nor leave her, you know. I just couldn’t lose.”

“I see… My father-“ Draal began “He was strong, VERY strong, he was brave, and was caring. A good father. I always looked up at him. Even more after he became the Trollhunter. I just HAD to prove myself to him!” he looked down at the grass “He became quite distant. I always felt I wasn’t good enough… When you appeared, learning you have the amulet just made me mad. I couldn’t accept the fact and lashed out at you.”

Jim gave him an understanding look. He’d also wanted to be a great son and live up to his father’s legacy, before he saw what he’d have to do in order to achieve it.

No words were exchanged between them, only a look and a reassuring pat from Jim. They stood like that, in silence. Jim then stood up.

“Well, I have to go back to my room. I have some stuff to do tomorrow…”

“Wait!”

Jim stopped mid-step and looked at Draal.

“I came for something else, too.”

“What?” – Jim wondered what else might there be.

“I have been exiled from Trollmarket, so I thought I can help guard your house when you aren’t there and also teach you how to properly fight with the sword. Blinkous might be a good instructor but he hasn’t had much experience with such weapons.”

Jim went on a mini panic mode. What was he supposed to DO?!! Chase Draal away and be suspicious? Make some excuse? NO! That would be even more suspicious! Where would Draal even stay if he let him in? What would his mom say when she saw another troll? She won’t be freaked out for sure but there was also the risk of Draal learning that he wasn’t human!

“Ah, umm… oookaaay…” – Jim finally managed to say something.

“Alright.” – Draal started heading for the door.

“Wait! I uhm… have to clean some things up! I will be back soon!”

Jim ran inside, down the stairs and into the basement. He quickly gathered his scattered research papers and put them in a shoe box. Locked his supply closet, put all his vials and potions in their respective holding spaces and locked them too. A heavy set of steps alerted him of Draal coming, just as he hurriedly covered his work table with a sheet and pushed it to the wall.

“This place is nice.” Draal looked around and settled down on the pile of cushions and blankets Jim once used “I will stay here and I promise, your mother won’t even notice me.”

Jim knew that he’d have to tell her about Draal moving in, so she WILL see him eventually. He sighed and shook his head, choosing not to say anything.

Chapter Text

Jim felt as if a lump had settled in his throat. He felt nervous and a bit sweaty. Barbara waited for him in the kitchen, awake with her second mug of coffee.

“So, where should I start…” – Jim began.

“How about when it all started. I had some suspicions something was up but you breaking into a museum confirmed it.” – Barbara looked at him and took a sip.

“Well… I kinda became the magical protector of troll kind, especially the ones currently living under Arcadia.” – he said sheepishly.

“What?!” – she almost dropped her mug on the floor.

Then Jim proceeded telling her how the amulet found him, his meeting with Bular, the museum, Changelings, being chased by goblins and finally about the fight with Draal.

“James Lake!” she shouted and that was never good “You went to a battle of possible life and death in the very place you have feared and didn’t tell me?! How could you be so irresponsible?! What if you hadn’t returned?! Do you know how worried I would have been?”

Jim’s heart felt like it was shatter by her words. Before he could open his mouth, she hugged him, tears streaking down her face in a strange mix of frustration, relief and sadness. He hugged her back and they stayed like that for a while.

“OK. You can let go now, your mom’s back started hurting.”

“Sorry!” – he hadn’t realized how much force he’d started putting in the hug.

They sat on the couch in the living room.

“So, this amulet, you can’t get rid of it until you die?” Jim nodded at her question “That’s … a terrible design, actually…”

“Yep! I said the same thing.” Jim glared at the magical item now sitting on the coffee table “I AM trying to figure out what charms, enchantments and materials were used to make it and somehow, hopefully, get free of it or making it think I am dead and letting me go on its own. I haven’t made a lot of progress with everything and now Draal living in my study…”

“Yeah, about that. There’s another troll living in my house right now, right? Should I go down and greet him? Should I stay away? Do I pretend he’s not here? Your appetite for metals is quite big, so it may put a dent in the budget…”

“Mom, don’t worry. I will figure it out, just, don’t go and try to greet him today, he may be spooked by you.” – Jim suppressed a chuckle.

“I am not that scary. But fine, I will not go down into the basement today. Just, warn me next time you decide to do something reckless like that. OK?”

“OK. I will call you next time, though I prefer not getting into fights at all…” – Jim almost pouted.

=== With Claire ===

“Waaaah~! WAAAAAAAAAA!!”

“Claire, can you check on your brother? I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Sure, mom!” – Claire shouted from her open door.

She walked into Enrique’s room with a sigh. He was crying, yet again. Her brother was cute and had been a quiet but sociable baby. He was still sociable but he had become very loud and needy. It had happened overnight and she got a stage, uncomfortable feeling every time she thought about it. Maybe if she found his toy, he’d stop… Claire shook her head.

“Oh, Enrique!” she pinched her nose “You definitely need a change.”

He squirmed and wailed the whole time. Claire was frowning the whole time.

“I am going to take it from here.” Her mother took Enrique “Thanks for changing him.”

“No problem, mom.” She bit her lip “Mom, do you think something’s wrong with Enrique? He’s been acting a lot…” she struggled to find a word “strangely? Unusually?”

“Oh, don’t worry. You know how babies are, this is completely normal.” – she cooed at her son.

‘Yes, but it doesn’t happen overnight?!’ – Claire wanted to shout but she didn’t.

……………………………

|PAPA SKULL CONCERT! Welcome all!!| - Clare stared at the poster put on a telephone pole.

She read further and almost went wild. Her favorite band was playing in town! She waited for such a moment to come! She’d go out and- OH! Right… that night she had to watch over Enrique. Claire groaned.

She’d figure something out! This is a rare opportunity and she’s determined not to miss it!

……………………………

“Mary! You promised!” – Claire was shocked at her friend’s sudden change of plans.

“I am sooo sorry! But love can’t wait!” – Mary once again was in her dreamy world.

“Sigh… Are you refusing because of Enrique?”

“No! It’s not that!” – Mary quickly denied it.

“Come on! You promised. Yes, Enrique may have become a bit fussier after losing Suzie Snooze but I doubt it’ll be any more difficult than the last time! Come on! You are my last option! Darci oi out with her father and I can’t leave Enrique alone nor take him with me!”

“But I was asked out…”

“Excuse me.” – someone said, startling the two girls.

They looked in the voice’s direction and was Jim, Toby standing by their bikes.

“Yes? Do you need something?” – Claire was a bit confused.

She hadn’t had much contact with Jim outside of the play and the boy kept to himself most of the time. In fact, he’d almost never spoken to her outside of school work or when she initiated a conversation.

“Well, I didn’t mean to overhear but… does this Su-Su…”

“Suzie Snooze.” – she added.

“Yes! Is it maybe, possibly a white plush rabbit with button eyes? A bit droopy, quite old?” – he sounded unsure but the description made her eyes widen.

“Yes! That’s how she looks… How do you know?”

“I found it, on the street. It looked a bit too clean to have been thrown in the trash, so I picked it up.”

“That’s great! Do you have it?”

“No, I left it at home. Maybe I can bring it to your house after school and maybe even babysit your brother for a while.” – his smile was strained and awkward.

Claire felt like he had some ulterior motive but Jim had done nothing to make her not trust him, so she grabbed the chance.

“OK. Let me give you my phone…”

…………………………………

“Woohoo! Way to go C-bomb! You’ve totally got him!” – Mary patted her.

“Got who?” – she was confused.

“Lake! He’s so totally into you! Why would he offer to watch over your brother out of the blue? Even listening to our conversation! He WANTS to impress you!”

“Don’t know Mary. I’m not even that familiar with him, nor am I interested in a boyfriend right now.”

“Come on C-bomb! You have to take the chance! Even if it doesn’t work, you’d get some experience for when you do fall for someone.”

“I am not sure…” – Claire was not comfortable with the idea.

Jim was nice, responsible and he was cute but she wasn’t close to him at all.

“Come on, girl? What can happen if you do date him? He’d turn into a monster or something?” – Mary said jokingly.

“Yeah… I guess you are right. Let’s go to class. Darci is probably waiting for us.”

=== With Jim ===

He had been looking into whose baby might have been stolen. Unintentionally, he’d overheard Claire complaining about her brother’s sudden change of behavior, so he’d suggested looking after the baby. With a bit of luck, he may be able to get some information and maybe help more. Still, it was too soon to jump to conclusions. He had to make sure the toy was the same Claire was looking for.

~Later~

Jim knocked on the door and soon after Claire opened.

“Hey! Jim, you came!”

“Yes.” He entered the house and put his bag on the couch “Is this the toy you were looking for?” – he pulled the rabbit out of his bag.

“Yes! This IS Suzie Snooze.”

“Are you sure? I found it quite far away from your home.”

“Yes, I can recognize the toy I practically grew up with. Strange though… What was it doing there?”

Jim’s fears were being confirmed. He was almost 100% sure her brother had been exchanged. Either that or he’d be talking to a baby for a few hours. He wins either way… although he’d never been alone with a kid younger than 3.

“…and if something happens, call me first. NOT my parents. Me first. Got it?”

“Oh, yeah. Totally! You can go and have fun.”

“Thanks a lot Jim! I owe you one!”

Claire walked outside, followed by Jim holding Enrique. Soon a scooter came with… Steve on it.
“Hey, Lake! Like my new ride?”

Jim got so pissed. He’d been interested in human vehicles but he had to wait so his human ID can get a driver’s license. He wanted to derive one of those giant trucks but a scooter was also fine… aaand he got distracted again.

“Watch out! Make sure to not break something so soon!” – he shouted after Steve.

Maybe he was a bit vindictive but it felt nice. Jim went inside and placed Enrique on the couch.

“OK. I know that you aren’t actually the real Enrique. You are a changeling and I want information.”

“Gaa~! Gyaah~!” – the baby gurgled.

“Is this how we are gonna play, huh? I can also play this game!”

===With Toby===

“So, what is this ‘babysitting’ exactly? Does sitting on a baby mean so much that master Jim can’t come?” – Blinky asked Toby.

“Ugh! Look, babysitting doesn’t mean actually sitting on a baby. You just watch over someone’s child when they are unable to.”

“I see… And we are going there to?”

“To surprise Jim, of course! He must be bored out of his mind right now.”

“Like surprises.” – AARRRGH added.

“Is it alright to do so? I mean, won’t it cause trouble?” – Blinky insisted.

“Nah, don’t worry so much! The baby’s probably asleep by now and we’d be out before Claire or her parents even come back!”

They went through the back, not to be accidentally seen by a neighbor. As they approached the house…

*CRAAAASH!!*

The sound of something breaking reached Toby’s ears.

“Quickly! Something is wrong!” – Toby ran ahead.

“… that all you have?! Bular knows me! Don’t even try to threaten me with him!” – Jim’s muffled voice came from behind the locked door.

“AARRRGH! Open the door! But be careful!”

AARRRGH lightly pushed the door and it fell off its hinges. They were momentarily blinded by the stream of light coming from the kitchen. The sight that greeted them was Jim in his armor, pinning a squirming baby on the counter. The kitchen was a mess – broken glasses and plates, the fridge’s contents was spilled on the floor and there were even a few knives and forks imbedded in the walls… also a lone spoon sticking out of an impaled tangerine.

“JIM!! What are you doing?! You are hurting him!!”

“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” – the baby wailed.

Blinky and AARRRGH stared with open mouths, not sure what to do.

“T-Toby?! What are you doing here?” – Jim finally noticed as his friend scooped the baby from under his grasp.

“There, there.” He tried to calm the baby and Jim glared “What happened Jimbo? I know babies can be a bit annoying but you shouldn’t try to choke them!”

“He is not a baby, Tobes! He’s a changeling! Claire’s brother had been exchanged and I was trying to get some information out of him!”

“A changeling?!” – Blinky exclaimed in shock.

“Have you gone bonkers? A bit too paranoid, maybe?” – Toby couldn’t believe what his friend was saying.

“Do you have the Gaggletack on you?”

“Yeah, in the back pocket. Why-“

Faster than he could react, Jim had already pulled out the horseshoe. Enrique wailed louder and squirmed. The moment the iron touched the baby, there was a flash and a green changeling was in Toby’s hands.

“Welp! Guess I was busted… again.” – a deep voice said.

“AAAAH! What is this?!” – Toby was shocked and dropped the changeling.

He took the chance and tried to run away.

“Don’t let him escape!!” – Jim shouted.

Before he could run out, AARRRGH’s big hand pressed him to the floor.

“Let me go ya stinkin troll!” – he squirmed but AARRRGH was much stronger.

“Listen now, changeling. You will talk! I didn’t go through all this so you can get out scot free! Tell us where the bridge is!”

“Bridge? What bridge? I see no bridges near here?”

“Squash him.” – Toby said to the surprise of Jim and the others.

AARRRGH started pushing.

“Wait, wait!! I’ll talk!”

“OK. Now tell us where the bridge is kept. It wasn’t in the museum when we went to check last time.” – Jim looked the changeling in the eye.

“Listen, you didn’t hear this from me! I’d get in a lot of trouble if the boss learns that I- “

*VRRRM~!*

A car stopped in front of the house.

“Quick! Get out of here!”

The two trolls and Toby ran out of the house, somehow putting the door back in its frame without it falling again. Jim deactivated his armor held the now baby Enrique in his hands.

“Oh, hi Mr. and Ms. Nuñez! I-I’m Jim, the babysitter…” – he said awkwardly in the ruined kitchen.

“Oh…” – Claire said when she saw the mess and her parents.

Chapter Text

Trollmarket was lively and bustling. Bagdwella swiping her broom at any gnome that came too close to her shop, residents chatting. Traders were tending to their shops, even a traveling merchant had come to sell some of his wares. With the word of the new Trollhunter appearing travelling farther, trolls have started to come little by little. It was true, with a Trollhunter watching over the peace, everyone was calmer. That could not be said for one Blinkous, whose constant restlessness was worrying AARRRGH.

Ever since they tended to Draal and whatever damage the battle had caused him, Blinky had been pacing, wringing his fingers, muttering and etc. Even now he was lost in his world, barely not colliding with other trolls. AARRRGH was worried, he even doubted Blinky had gotten any decent sleep lately.

They entered the library with a clang, something unusual, considering Blinky always made sure to be careful and close the door behind him, which he forgot this time. He immediately went for the deeper parts of the library, leaving AARRRGH to close the door.

He looked at the back of his friend, worry written on his face.

=== Lake household ===

It was late, well actually very early in the morning…

Draal was swinging a lamp around and Jim was trying to imitate him. His current human stature and shape, albeit not too different in the way it moves, to his real form was throwing him a bit off while trying to imitate the sword stances.

“No, you put your beet too far apart.” Draal stopped to correct him “I loose balance because of my shorter legs, so I have to be careful but even if I had longer ones it’ll be harder to pull yourself together. You lose a lot of the muscle strength you can muster this way.” – Draal then proceeded to fix his stance where it needed.

Slowly but surely, everything was coming back to Jim. Blinky was by no way a bad instructor but Draal had actual experience with swords and weapons like his, so Jim trusted his judgement a bit more when it came to ways to properly wield the sword.

“You are improving. That is good.”

“Yeah, thanks.” Jim said, sitting down on the lawn “You are a good instructor.” – he took a swing from his water bottle.

“You also aren’t bad, kid. Your technique is quite shabby but you’re learning quickly, also have a good sense. Not bad for a human.” – Draal admitted, also sitting down.

Silence. This had become something of a ritual during the short time they had been together at the Lakes’ house. Every time Jim had free time at night and wasn’t too tired, they’d train, take a break in the end and just sit there in silence. No words were needed, just the feeling of companionship, of someone you trust and respect, the presence of someone just being there, someone you could trust to have your back.

Jim didn’t look at Draal. He was reluctant to admit it even to himself, but he was starting to get used to his presence, just like with Barbara, Toby and Nana, he was starting to accept the blue troll as a part of his home, of his life… It was scaring him a bit. Just like how the compliment just now, especially the ‘Not bad for a human.’ Part made him extremely uncomfortable. He feared what might happen. He desired the company, someone to have a friendly spar with, even light roughhousing, like he used to do with the other whelps in the past, but that was impossible to do. He couldn’t just accept Draal like he did with the humans. He was the son of the previous Trollhunter, his brother had killed Kanjigar!

“Hmm. Something seems to be bothering you.” – Draal turned to look at him, waiting.

‘OH CRAP!’ – was what Jim thought at that moment.

Jim panicked. His thoughts were an incomprehensible mess, so he did the first thing that popped in his mind.

“O-Oh… it’s nothing. The play! Yeah, the school play! Ms. Janneth has given me the main role again and I will have to kiss Claire, so I am nervous.” –his mind was screaming ‘Why the heck did I say thaaaaat?!!!’

“School play? Kiss?” – Draal was confused, what could make the boy look so troubled.

“Yeah, a school play is like theatre but in school! You know what theatre is, right? Do you have theatre in Trollmarket or-“

Jim honestly didn’t have the answer to that. The only Trolls he’d lived with were the Gumm-Gumms and they weren’t into any form or art, unlike humans. It fact, the closest thing to theatre he’d seen there was the Challenges of Power – Gumm-Gumms would gather to watch how someone would challenge another for their position. Weather the challenger succeeded and claimed the position and respect or was beaten to a pulp and literally spat on didn’t matter. All that mattered for these matches was the brutality.

“Of course I know what theatre is! I am not stupid; a warrior must also be smart! But seriously, what is a kiss?”

“Right, sorry. I just didn’t know. So, in one scene I need to kiss Claire on the mouth, we… uh, touch lips?” Jim sighed “I don’t know how to properly explain it. A kiss is a kiss!”

“And you are distressed over the lip toughing? That’s ridiculous. There are much scarier things out there that this kissing thing.”

Jum’s head hung, the guilt of lying to Draal eating at him.

“… I think I know what can help you.”

Jim’s head shot up. Draal had been talking but he hadn’t paid attention to it.

“You need a Grit Shaka. It is an artefact that can-“

“NO!” Jim stapped “I am NOT putting that thing on!” – he knew what a Grit Shaka did to a troll and he didn’t want to become a reckless fool and get discovered or killed anytime soon.

Draal was shocked. Judging by his reaction, the boy knew what a Grit Shaka was and adamantly refused it. Just then his phone’s alarm rang.

“I have to go back to my room and get ready. You better hide.” – Jim ran inside of the house and up the stairs to his room.

“Alright.” – Draal gave a pensive loon, something he didn’t do often but went down to the basement, not wanting to be seen by an early-riser.

======

School had gone the same as usual, almost… For some reason Jim got a certain air of smugness coming from Strickler when they passed by each other in the hall and it made him uncomfortable. What the hall had happened to the changeling?! Is he smug because they hadn’t found the bridge, had the small menace blabbered about them? He didn’t know at all!

“More emotion, Mr. Lake! You are a bit too stiff. The play is coming soon, so we should make sure everything is perfect!”

“Yes, Ms. Janneth!”

…………………………….

‘Haaah… It’s finally over.’ – Jim sighed as he exited the school.

Jim got on his bike and slowly pedaled towards his home. He was not in a hurry, so he tried to enjoy the night. Recently… he had no time to just relax and take in the night. He was either in Trollmarket, training with Draal, patrolling or too tired. It was nice, actually…

Jim’s thoughts were interrupted by a sudden chill. Someone was watching him, they were watching him and were definitely NOT friendly, judging by the feeling he got. He tried to catch their scent and determine where they were without alerting his stalker(s) but there was no wind, so no smell could reach him while he rode the bike, so he continued down the road but not towards his house. Whoever was following him was quickly becoming impatient. They were moving loudly, breaking twigs and rustling leaves giving out their position, plus the large shape he glimpsed meant it was not a changeling.

A bit of dread and nervousness settled in Jim’s chest. He took a calming breath and stopped next to a lamp post. Keeping an eye out for a surprise attack, he chained the bicycle to the lamp post.

“How long do you plan stalking me?” – Jim asks, feigning confidence while he was almost shaking from nervousness.

“Heh. I guess you DID notice me, fleshbag. For a moment, I thought you were blind.” – Bular confidently stepped into the street.

Jim bit the inside of his cheek. It felt like he was back in his younger years. His sibling towering over him, the confidence radiating from his posture… He looked massive compared to Jim’s current form, a scrawny human boy.

He never wanted their meeting to be like that, in fact… He never wanted to meet Bular again. Alas, he’s met him 2 times already.

“You are going to pay for what you did last time, fleshbag!” Bular growled “I was surprised that you were somehow able to use magic, but you won’t be able to get away a second time! I will rip you to shreds!”

“…No, you won’t…”

Bular lunged at Jim, the troll’s claws ready to snag and crush him. Jim ducked and rolled to the side. He hadn’t brought any weapons with him, so he had to activate the amulet. The armor weighted him down a bit but it at least protected his now much fragile skin. He didn’t summon the sword, not confident enough to face Bular head on just yet.

“Stop running!!” – Bular shouted.

He swung one of his blades at Jim, but he ducked under it and aimed a ball of light at Bular. The troll protected his eyes with his free arm.

“You think the same trick would work twice?!”

Suddenly, an acute pain flared from between his legs. Jim had used the flash of light to distract Bular and kick him before running away. It wasn’t the most heroic set of actions but Jim knew that the current him can’t defeat Bular. He’ll have a chance to do so by turning back to his real form but he wanted everyone who knew of him to think he’s gone, plus it would make Bular even more furious.

“RAAAAAAAAAAARH!” – Bular snarled and stumbled a bit.

The pain in making him a bit numb but the anger made him move. He ran after Jim, his eyes burning with the anger from the audacity that worthless lump of meat had DARED to do. To humiliate him like that and then run!

Jim on the other had had gained enough distance and wasn’t going to make the chase easy for Bular. He ducked into a small alley, making it harder for the troll to follow. He could hear the scrapes of Bular’s body meeting the walls. He was nearing the bakery, which meant that one loose grate to the sewers was near. There were no holes big enough for someone of Bular’s size to go after him and even IF Bular decided to tear the concrete to chase after him, he’d be long gone by then. The problem was the wide stretch of open space in front of him. No matter how fast he was compared to humans, Bular could easily gain on him once he’d shuffled out of the alley.

With the clatter of a kicked trash can, Bular burst out of the alley. Only a bit more and Jim would reach the grate but Bular would have reached him by the time he opened it. His eyes frantically scanned the area and saw that amongst the now spilled trash was a pair of old jeans. Jim pointed at them and shop a bolt of magic. It was a simple spell, usually used to tie shoes, but it did a fine job. The jeans wrapped themselves around Bular’s legs and tied them together. THUD! The large troll fell face first on the asphalt. Jim quickly pulled the grate up and with a twist, it came off. Bular got up, even angrier if possible, and tore the offending cloth from his legs. Jim jumped down and landed in the pipe below.

“Damn you!” Bular threw the grate aside “Next time! Next time I meet you, I’ll make you pay! You will suffer a painful death!”

Jim didn’t linger and just ran away. Bular’s furious voice echoing in the pipes, almost as if it was haunting Jim.

======

“You attacked him?!” – Strickler was appalled at what he heard.

Suddenly, a strong arm slammed him into the wall.

“What would have YOU done, impure?! For all the time YOU have known the identity of the Trollhunter, you have done NOTHING! NOTHING! So tell me ONE good reason not to end your life right here and now!!” – Bular growled, his face only a few centimeters away.

Strickler swallowed the lump of fear with difficulty.

“F-For your information, I have already devised a plan to steal the amulet. I just need to finish the fake amulet and I’ll use the boy’s mother to get to him and steal it. He suspects nothing.”

Bular growled and threw him on the floor.

“Pray that your plan works, impure. If it fails… “ – Bular grabbed a nearby railing with one of his hands, tore it from the ground and crushed it.

Strickler was left there, drenched in cold sweat, Nomura was watching from the shadows, having chosen to hide the moment she saw the furious Bular.

===Time skip to Saturday===

Jim was in the kitchen, cooking a large meal for 3. Why for 3? Because, apparently, Stricklander was coming for dinner!

Him mom had dropped the bomb the previous night. Jim protested, tried to convince her not to invite him, but it turns out the deed was already done. He’d been so busy and distracted recently, plus their argument. before he told her the truth of what he was doing, that he hadn’t noticed she was going out with someone. She’d gone to a couple of meetings with him and seemed to like him. Jim could have told her the truth right there and then but he didn’t. If the dinner was canceled suddenly, there was a chance that Stricklander would suspect something and put his mother in a risk. He’s have to wait until after the dinner and tell her. He would NOT allow that manipulative bastard hurt her!

Jim stuffed the potatoes in the oven and closed the door with quite the force. He set the timer and went downstairs into the basement.

“Draal? Are you here?”

“Yes. What’s going on? Do you need help?”

“No. Actually… No, I just came to tell you that tonight a teacher from school is coming for a dinner. My mother invited him, so I wanted to tell you and please stay quiet.”

“Alright.”

There was something more to this. Draal could feel it in his horns.

……………………………….

Jim glared at Strickler from across the table, trying not to lunge and choke the bastard every time he joked with his mom.

“How about a dessert? Jim might be the cook but I make pretty good danons.”

“Oh, that would be lovely, Barbara.” – Strickler smiled and Jim almost snarled.

“OK. I’ll be back soon.” – she entered the kitchen.

“What game are you playing?” – Jim stood up from his chair and glared.

“What do you mean? Game? Young Atlas, I understand that it might be weird for your mother and teacher to be seeing each other. Although we’ve never seen eye to eye-“

“Stop beating around the bush! You made the biggest mistake you could make by getting close to my mom, changeling.” – he said in a cold voice.

“So you knew…” – Strickler’s eyes hardened.

It was a standoff. Unknown to the two, Draal was in the basement and using a pipe to listen to their conversation.

“I was hoping to have a diner, be done with my business and go home. This complicates things.” – Strickler looked unfazed.

“And what IS your business, Mr. Strickler?”

“To take the amulet, of course. Now that you know about my agenda, I am offering you a deal. You can give me the amulet, peacefully, and be done. No blood needs to be shed and ruin such a nice dinner. Nice steak by the way.” – he took a bite.

Jim grit his teeth and his hand squeezed the handle of the knife in his right hand.

“No. I AM going to offer you a deal. You take yourself out and never come again. Don’t contact mom and don’t try to involve her in whatever plans you have.” – Jim’s voice was serious.

“And why would I do that? If you knew that I am a changeling, you should know we always look for something that can be of use to us. What do you have to offer in this deal you speak of?” – Strickler was now more alert and looking at the boy in front of him.

“How about getting to keep that head and neck of yours attached to each other?” the threat was obvious and made the changeling feel a chill down his spine “Let me tell you, that if you ever, EVER, try to use my mom as a bargaining chip or hurt her in any way, be it physical or magical… I will come after you, no matter where you are, I will find you. I will make you suffer and beg for mercy as I break every limb of your bogy. I hill strangle you with by bare arms if I have to!”

At that moment, Strickler felt terrified. Those piercing, furious blue eyes promised pain. He was reminded of Bular and Gunmar with how ‘colorful’ the consequences were and the promise behind them. But the scariest part was that the eyes of the boy in front of him held an edge of intelligence Bular lacked. Someone that would meticulously cut every road of escape, corner his prey and leave it with no way to save itself. It scared and infuriated him at the same time. How could the boy in front of him scare him so?!

Strickler stood up, his chair clattering on the floor. Jim snarled and brandished the knife in his hand. Strickler turned back to his real form and pulled out two knives.

===With Draal===

A changeling?! What was an impure doing here?! Why wasn’t his help even requested? What was going on?!

He put his ear to the pipe and could hear the echoing voices thorough it. The Trollhunter certainly sounded serious with his threats. He certainly cared for his mother and was currently showing a side that Draal hadn’t seen until now.

A loud clattering noise startled him because he was distracted. Draal stumbled backwards, he lost his balance and tripped, almost crashing into a table. The troll stood up and shook himself. He’d blindly grabbed at a cloth that was used as a covering while trying to steady himself. There was a closet and also a box under the table. His interest piqued, Draal pulled the box out. Inside were notes. They were written in different languages but he recognized 2 of them, Celtic and Trollish. What were they even doing here? The closet was locked but draal shook it lightly and could hear the distinct clatter of metal and glass vials, there was also a very faint smell of herbs coming out of it.

‘What is going on here?!’

======

“Thank you for coming, Walter.”

“T-The pleasure was mine. I will have to go now, have a nice evening.” – he hurried in his car and drove off.

Barbara looked at Jim.

“What was that? What happened between you two while I was in the kitchen? The chair was overturned and I know you weren’t looking for contacts.”

“Mom, you have to stop seeing him.”

“Why? I know you don’t like him for some reason but at least give him a chance. Walter has been nice company and-“

“He’s a changeling, mom.”

“Wha-? But… what are you talking about?”

“He is not a human. Changelings are trolls that have been forcefully altered through magic and can turn into humans.”

“And… Walt is a changeling?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“I learned about it too late. If you had suddenly decided you don’t want to see him just before the dinner… I was afraid he’d get suspicious and put you in danger. If a human discovered a changeling, well, the human ‘mysteriously disappeared’ or ‘died in a tragic accident’. I didn’t want to put you in such danger.” – he looked down.

“Oh, Jim.” – she hugged him, he hugged back.

===In Trollmarket===

Blinky had went through several books already and AARRRGH was lightly snoring in one corner of the library. He had been looking for hours but still couldn’t find anything useful to help in the search. As he went for a book on a higher shelf, he accidentally knocked down a few books that were carefully balanced on top of a small table.

“Curses.” – he muttered and bent down to lift them from the floor.

‘What is this?’

A drawing in the book caught his eyes. 3 distinctive stones… He turned it around and read the title “The Dark Age and the Reign of Gunmar” was its translation in english. It was one of the newer books he’d bought from a traveling merchant. A relatively new copy, less than a decade old. He opened the book to the first page and began to read.

Back in the day, many books were written but destroyed, especially those that mentioned Gunmar the Black. In some places, his name itself was a taboo, some worshiped him, many more feared him. Any that tried to oppose him, to find a weakness and tell the world about it were hunted down and destroyed, so not many books even mentioned him. This one book, however, seemed to be specifically a re-telling of the events, gathered from the mouths of many, including rumors, facts, stories from survivors and even some legends about Gunmar. As he read thorough it, he couldn’t help at the absurdity and clear wrongness of some but also was pensive while reading through what survivors remembered from that time. He turned a page and had to do a double take.

“The sons of Gunmar…” – he read out loud.

It was mostly about Bular but near the end of that part of the book was mentioned that Gunmar apparently had a second child, much younger than Bular.

“Nobody knows what happened. Some say the whelp died youg, others say he’s with his father in the Darklands, waiting to be relesed and take over the world, while others say he’s wandering the world, looking for a way to free his father. No one has seen him after the battle of Killahead.”

This sounded preposterous. Blinkous had been there, had fought in many battles and had never even heard of Gunmar having another child! He glanced at his sleeping companion. There was only one way to find out if any of this was true or not.

Chapter Text

(This chapter may be a bit short but this is all for now. I decided to not cram too much in here and leaving myself some time to study and prepare the next chapter.)

=== Story of the general ===

AARRRGH slowly woke up prom his nap, a light poke to his side. It was Blinky, cautiously and gently poking him. Even after so long, the gentle giant accidentally could lash out if he was awoken too rudely and abruptly.

“Blinky?”

“I am terribly sorry to wake you up, but I have a question. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to…”

“It is OK.”

AARRRGH stretched a bit and sat in a more comfortable position for talking. His friend lifted a book into his view.

“I found this book while looking for a way to locate the bridge and… To be frank, it made me intrigued and anxious.” he turned to a certain page in the book “This part here. I dismissed it at first. I had been there, after all, but when I thought about it, I discovered some things. The repeated dream Kanjigar had a few years back, not to mention my encounter that night.”

“What encounter?” – AARRRGH was confused, hearing about this for the first time.

“I might have overheard a conversation between Vendel and Kanjigar, then went to investigate.” Blinky clarified and AARRRGH nodded “So, while I was in the woods, I noticed signs of a rather large troll and after following them, I found myself hiding, after said troll dropped down from a tree. I only had a brief glimpse and thought it was Bular, after all there are no trolls with such a dark living stone in Trollmarket, later it was confirmed that Bular had indeed come to Arcadia. After reading this, however, I began to doubt this. If Kanjigar had fought with Bular downtown, there was no way he could have reached the woods in such a short time, not to mention come back to the outskirts of the park, not to mention the lack of the blades Bular always carries. What I want to ask you, as you were once part of Gunmar’s army – did we have a second son and is he a potential danger we have to take into consideration?”

AARRRGH looked a bit thoughtful but then his eyes widened a bit.

“Yes. He had. A son, still whelp, back before the war.” AARRRGH scratched his chin “Not fought, too young, blades too big. Not seen much, no time for whelps, left alone. Was black, blue eyes, like father.” AARRRGH winced a bit at the memory of Gunmar “Strange one, liked fighting, then not only, then liked again, then not liked, at all.”

“I see. Why though? Do you know what might have happened?” – Blinky, you could say, was intrigued.

“Don’t know. Took whelps to battle, no left in cave, not seen after.”

Blinky hummed. This was an interesting piece of information. Gunmar actually had another son and he didn’t even know about it! Had he really seen that elusive child back then? What was his goal? No one had heard of him after the battle of Killahead. Was he really just living in peace or plotting something nefarious?

=== Draal thinks ===

Draal was now a 100% sure something was NOT right here. There were documents in Trollish in the basement! He had read thorough them but they spoke of complicated formulas and theories. He only understood they were about some sort of magic.

‘What is going on here?! GAH! I want to smash that damned cabined and look what exactly is inside!’

Draal stomped in the basement, not able to go out for a run in the woods, nor train in the forge due to his banishment. His mind was going places he never even knew it could go. From some sort of family artifact, maybe a cult… Maybe their new Trollhunter was a changeling? He got even more frustrated when he realized he was starting to sound like Bliny.

*Creaaak~*

Draal quickly hid behind the furnace. He held his breath and made sure he was not visible. Jim’s mother had come down. It was becoming a routine, every time she came, he would be hiding behind the furnace.

‘What is Bar-bu-rah doing here? Wasn’t she supposed to be out?’ – Draal mused.

“Sigh~ What a stressful nigh.” she muttered to herself “Jim has to clean his working station soon, I can’t afford o mess something up by accident.”

‘This really IS the Trollhunter’s?!’ – Draal was startled.

Barbara put the cover back up and looked around, scanning the area. Draal huddled behind the furnace even more.

“Hmm… He isn’t here… Maybe another time?” – she then turned around, took a plastic case and left the basement.

Draal’s heard had dropped in his figurative pants at her remark. She KNEW he was supposed to be there!

He picked up some of the notes and went to his secret tunnel. He HAD to go to Blinky! Surely, the historian would know what to do.

=== Changeling talk ===

(I can’t write German accents without sounding, silly, offensive or failing at it, so let’s say Otto speaks the same way, plus I believe he can speac without any accent when he wants to, being a polymorph and all.)

“Hey! Boss-man!” – NotEnrique greeted Strickler.

“You. What are you doing here? I don’t remember calling anybody in my personal office.”

“I called him here.”

“Otto.” Strickler’s eyes narrowed slightly “To what do I deserve the early visit? I didn’t expect you for at least a few more days.”

“Oh, save the politeness. I am here to deliver you a message.”

“A message?” – Strickler’s brow arched.

“Ya better take a seat just in case.” – NotEnrique chipped in.

“Ahem. As I was saying, the Dark Lord is, mildly said, displeased with your failure at getting the amulet, so I was put in charge of getting it.” – Otto smirked, making Strickler grit his teeth.

“And why did you need more eyes here? I doubt you called him without a reason.” – Strickler glared at NotEnrique, currently spinning in his office chair.

“Yes, I wanted to ask everybody that had been recently involved with the new Trollhunter what they have learned, to take the best course of action in order to obtain the amulet.”

“Why is Nomura not here then?”

“Oh, I talked with her already. She said something about an important meeting in the museum before hanging up. So, what can you tell me?”

“Eh, the boy was an OK babysitter. If ya exclude the fact that he sniffed me out and tried ta choke me, it was kind of fun. He got in a lot of trouble with the parents, after seein’ the ruined-“

“Not that. Any apparent weaknesses. Something you’d learned that we can use for our advantage.” – Otto corrected.

“Hmm… He got quite angry. Especially when I threatened I’d tell Bular and let him eat the boy, he jumped on me, pinned me and started shouting.”

“So, anger issues. Might be useful. Maybe we can make him angry and careless by kidnapping his mo-“

“NO!” Strickler stopped Otto “I object to that idea! It is very unwise to try this.”

“Why? It is a perfectly logical plan?”

“The boy is more dangerous than you give him credit for. He had somehow figured I was a changeling and also made it VERY clear that he could and would rip anybody to shreds if his mother got hurt. I don’t doubt the same goes for those close to him. We have to find another way to lure him without a hostage.”

“Please, how dangerous can a teenager be? He made a few threats, just that, threats. You actually believed what a hormonal teen told you?”

“You weren’t there. He was serious! I don’t doubt he’d keep that painful promise.” – Otto completely dismissed him and left.

“Well, I’m going back. Don’t wanna become a smudge on the wall.” – NotEnrique said.

Strickler was left all alone, face grim.

‘Should I book myself a flight to Australia or Africa?’

=== Things start crashing ===

“You sure?” – Blinky asked in a hushed voice.

“Yes, I am.” Draal confirmed “I also found a locked cabinet. It smelled of herbs and maybe even contained potions.”

“Strange.” – AARRRGH rumbled.

“Indeed it is. We should carefully consider how to proceed from here on.” – Blinky looked thoughtful.

Just as they were discussing their plan of actions, the doors to the library opened. Jim entered and put down his bag.

“I am here. Let’s- Wait, Draal? What are you doing here?”

“AH! Master Jim!” Blinky said a bit too loudly “You have arrived!”

“Yeah, I got held back in rehearsal, with the play being tomorrow and all.”

“I see.” Blinky looked around “Young Tobias is not with you tonight? Did something happen?”

“Wait. He should have been here! He went ahead and we agreed to meet here. He should have been here long ago!” – Jim got worried and started looking around frantically.

AARRRGH suddenly became extremely worried. He had been going to Toby’s house as an extra protection and had gotten close to the boy.

Just then, Jim’s phone rang. He quickly took it out and sighed in relief. Toby was calling.

“Hey, Tobes! Where are you? Did something happen to stall you or-“ – Jim was cut off.

[Hello, Trollhunter.] The voice was old, male and accented [Your friend is, unfortunately not able to talk at the moment.]

In an instant, Jim’s face morphed to a cold glare.

“Who are you?! Where is TOBY?!”

[As you may have guessed, we have your friend. I will send you the coordinates. You are to come within half an hour, alone and with the amulet. Don’t think about bringing anyone or- NO! JIM! It’s a trap! They-] there was a muffled noise [As I was saying, come alone or your friend might not be whole the next time you see him.] – the man, whoever he was, hung up.

Not even half a minute after, a message with an address came.

Jim stood there, looking at the phone, he was starting to shake in anger, face morphing into a vicious snarl. The other 3 occupants of the room were also shocked. No one expected such a thing to have happened.

“How dare they… HOW DARE THEY?!” Jim forcefully shoved the phone in his pocket “No one hurts my family!” – Jim ran out of the library.

“Master Jim, wait!” – Blinky called but it was ignored.

AARRRGH anxiously looked between Blinky and Jim, then also ran after the boy. He was worried, worried for Wingman, for Jim, worried that they both would be gone if no one is there to help.

“After them!” – Draal shouted and also charged out.

“AAGH!” – Blinky grabbed his head but also ran after them, as fast as his legs could carry him.

=== With Toby ===

Toby was tied and hung upside-down, the blood flowing to his head making his ears ring. He had been captured and was now used to lure his very first best friend into a trap. He had realized today how weak he was. Despite all the exercise, training and adventures, he still couldn’t defend himself. If- No! WHEN he got out, he would ask Blinky, Draal or maybe even AARRRGH to help him. At least to find a weapon and learn to fight would be better than becoming a burden when things became too dangerous.

“GRR! Where is that fleshbag?! What’s taking him so long?!” – Bular growled and paced.

“Please, have patience, my prince. I’ve sent Strickler to bring him here.” – Otto assured him.

“He better hurry or I might decide to have a snack.”

It took Toby everything not to flinch when Bular leaned closer.

The doors opened and all eyes were drawn to them. Strickler looked like a nervous wreck, shooting wary gazes at a furious Jim. As soon as they were in, the man hurried away from the boy with whatever dignity he had left, at least here, he thought he had a better chance to not get cut to pieces by Jim.

“I am here. Now let Toby go!”

“You don’t have a say in this, fleshbag! Hand over the amulet!” – Bular’s voice boomed in the large room.

A complicated look appeared on Jim’s face as he pulled the amulet out.

“I really didn’t want it to come to this…” – he muttered quietly.

Chapter Text

“Now, give me the amulet, fleshbag!” – Blular shouted, pointing a sword at Toby’s neck.

“O-ok! Just… don’t hurt my friend!” – Jim was seething with anger on the inside.

“No, Jimbo! This is a trap! They want to let Gunmar out!” – Toby struggled as he dangled upside-down.

“Allow me honor, mein prinz.” – Otto stepped forward and snatched the amulet from Jim’s outstretched arm.

“Now let Toby go!”

“Shut your mouth or I might decide to cut your friend a little earlier. Once my father is freed, all of you will be slaughtered and it would be because of your weakness, Trollhunter!” – Bular bared his teeth.

“I see…” Jim glared “But you made a mistake - it is not Trollhunter, it’s Trollhunters!”

At that moment Draal and AARRRGH barreled through the doors with a battle cry. While all the attention was drawn by the others, Blinky quietly snuck towards Toby, a knife in one of his hands.

=== A little earlier ===

Jim’s advance was stopped by AARRRGH’s huge figure dropping in front of him.

“Wait.”

“Move! I have to save Toby!”

“I know. Also helping Jim save Wingman.”

“Y-You will?”

“Haah~ M-Master Jim, you must wait!” – Blinky jogged towards them along with Draal.

“We need to talk-“ – Draal began.

“I have no time! Anything can happen to Toby! Bular can decide to eat him any moment now.”

“LATER! Let me finish! I have some things to ask you, but it can wait for later. Now, let’s think of a plan how to save your friend.”

“You all are going to help me?” – Jim was a bit baffled, not used to dealing with such situations.

“Of course! It increases our chances, right?” – Blinky looked at him.

Jim had no idea what had been going on before he had arrived in the library, only that it was important enough for Draal to go there despite his ‘banishment’. He felt strange – in the past, he had only himself to rely on, only himself to get out of dangerous situation and no one to keep his back safe. Now though, he had backup.

“OK. I have a bit more time before the meeting is supposed to happen. What’s the plan?”

=== end ===

Draal ducked under Bular’s blade and rammed into him. AARRRGH went after Nomura, trying to pin her but not pulling back any punches. He had decided to save Toby no matter what, also he was trying to not accidentally squash one of the incoming goblins. Blinky had managed to free Toby and untangle him from the ropes. Jim chased after Otto, determined to get the amulet back before it was put into the bridge. Strickler transformed and jumped in front of Jim.

“Move!” – Jim shouted, not planning to stop.

Strickler pulled out and threw two knives at Jim but he rolled and they missed him by a few centimeters.

“Yaah!” – Toby shouted and jumped on top of Strickler.

“Get off of me!”

“Take this!” Blinky sucker-punched him in the face “Go, Master Jim! We’ll hold him back!” – followed by a left hook in Strickler’s ribs.

Jim just nodded as he passed them. By now Otto was already climbing on top of the bridge. Jim jumped up and managed to grab onto Otto’s leg.

“Let go!”

Otto tried to get him off, he even kicked Jim in the face once but he was not letting go. His grip was firm and tight, even painful on the polimorph’s leg. Seeing as the boy would not be pushed off, he dragged himself closer to the center, where the amulet was to be placed. Jim grappled with him, pulling himself up, trying to wrench the magical device out of his hands. He finally managed to grab onto the amulet, just that he also grabbed onto Otto’s outstretched hand. He tried to pull the amulet out but the changeling’s grip turned out to be stronger than it seemed. They wrestled with each other but blue sparks flew from the bridge to the amulet and Jim saw it get pulled. It was as if some invisible force had started pulling it, like a magnet, and his eyes widened in fear as the amulet clicked into place.

The bridge illuminated the room as it opened but instead of the dark lord stepping out, the portal started sucking everything in. Jim’s fingers painfully dug into Otto’s lag as the portal tried to suck him in.

“NOOOoooo…” – something of magenta color was sent flying and immediately got sent into the Darklands.

“Master Jim! You have to take out the amulet or we all will be sucked in!” – Blinky clung to a column.

“I know that!”

Jim grit his teeth and with a mighty pull managed to get himself on top of the bridge. He quickly head-butted Otto, a crack sounding as their heads connected, making the changeling scream in pain. With his opponent distracted, Jim managed to grab onto the amulet and pulled. Whatever magic had attracted the amulet in the first place didn’t seem to want to let it go. Jim grunted but did not give up.

CRACKLE~Bang!

The amulet was torn out of the bridge, with the sudden loss of opposing force, Jim stumbled and fell on the floor with a grunt. The bridge burst and fell into pieces.

“Master Jim!”

“Jimbo! Are you OK?”

In a moment, Toby and Blinky were by his side. Jim shook his head, little sparks of magic dancing between his fingers and the amulet.

“Yeah, somehow…”

“Father?! NO! What did you do, fleshbag?! I will grind you into a paste!” – Bular had managed to push Draal away.

Draal looked a bit banged up and there was a deep gash on his shoulder but was otherwise fine. Bular had lost one of his blades somewhere during the scuffle.

“You won’t.” AARRRGH grabbed Bular “Run!” – he lifted Bular, spun him and threw him into a pile of crates.

“Can You run, Master Jim?”

“Y-Yeah.”

Luck was not on their side because the sun was still out and the trolls would get sun-stained if they tried to escape from any of the official exits. Draal and AARRRGH caught up to the other 3 as Blinky was opening a way into the sewers.

“No! I am not jumping in! Who know what might be there. Look at all the rain water!” – Toby protested.

“RAAAAAAH!” – Bular burst out of the collapsed crates.

“We have to jump!” – Draal commented and was the first one to jump down into the murky water.

AARRRGH was next, followed by Blinky. Jim looked at Toby and gave him a reassuring nod, then both of them jumped down. The current swept them, the murky water made it hard to see but Jim could spot the other 3 trolls a bit in front of them. He kicked his legs and managed to grab onto one of Draal’s horns. He stretched his hand towards Toby. The ginger-haired boy tried to swim towards his friend’s outstretched hand but the current pushed his body away, their fingers barely touching before he was swept down the pipe.

“Nuu!” –a few bubbles escaped Jim’s mouth as he let go.

Blinky tried to grab him but it was futile, he had drifted off too far away. Jim kicked his legs, looking around for his friend. He finally saw him, back pressed to a grate. Jim was relieved and Toby was too, for a moment, until his eyes widened and pointed at something behind Jim. Jim moved his arms and twisted his body around, only to see a snarling Bular coming at him with his blade raised.

“Guh!” – in a flash of blue, Jim had donned the armor and raised the sword to protect himself.

Bular’s blade slammed into Jim’s, the force behind it, combined with the water flow and lack of solid ground made them barrel towards the grate. Toby barely managed to move himself to the side to not be crushed by the slam. With a muffled clang, the grate was ripped from its place.

“Aaaaaaah, cough, cough…” Toby’s head had finally broken the surface of the water “Jiiim! JIM! Where are you?!”

The current was carrying him further downstream, no sign of his friend. Toby swam and somehow managed to pull himself to a shore.

Jim was disoriented, his lungs screamed for air as quite a bit was knocked out of him. He pushed himself up from the bottom and managed to reach the side of the canal. The water was pulling him but he somehow managed to claw his way up the side. Jim coughed and gasped, spitting some water he had swallowed. He shook his head to get some water off and clear his vision.

“Jim!”

His head snapped towards the direction of the sound. He saw Toby’s familiar figure waving at him – his friend was just a bit further downstream but looked otherwise fine. Jim pulled himself up on his legs when he saw a black figure also pulling itself from the murky waters.

“Toby! Watch out!”

“I should have cut you to pieces a long time ago. Face your end!”

“AAAAH!” – Toby stumbled and fell on his back, Bular looming over him.

Jim ran as fast as he could but he was not close enough. It was as if everything was in slow-motion. Bular had lifted his blade above Toby’s downed form.

Flashes of the good times he had with Toby went through Jim’s mind. Their outings, joking around, the teasing at how bad he was with video games, just being together and having fun without any worry… He couldn’t imagine his life without this! He couldn’t lose Toby – his friend, his family, his brother in everything but blood. It didn’t matter that he was found out, it didn’t matter that he was going to face his real brother, they were never as close despite the few good memories from his whelphood. What mattered the MOST was that Toby was alive, nothing else.

Light enveloped him, in a second his human form started melting away, the armor expanding along with his body to accommodate his much bigger form.

Toby screamed as Bular was going to split him in half, he had raised one hand in a feeble attempt to protect himself while trying to scoot back. He thought it was the end, that he was done for… Bular swung down the blade but instead of slicing him, the giant blade was brought to a screeching halt, literally. A large armored arm had grabbed the sword, stopping it in place.

Both Toby and Bular were shocked by the sudden intrusion and looked up. Jim, in his real form stood there, glaring with his piercing blue eyes and teeth grit. A low growl came from him and before the shock was gone, Jim pulled back his left fist, magic swirling around it, then slammed it into Bular’s face, breaking his horn and sending him flying a few meters back.

“Wha-“ – Toby was confused.

“Go to a safe place!” – Jim stepped in front of Toby, making sure to not take his eyes off of Bular.

Toby did as he was told, not wanting to get in the way with something WAY out of his current league. He had no idea what had happened but somehow Jim had turned into a big… black troll.

“What sort of trickery is this?!”

“I really didn’t want it to come to this… brother…”

“Don’t lie to me! My brother died long ago! Such trickery won’t work on me!”

Jim summoned Daylight and went into a stance. The sword held in one hand, a bit awkwardly, which made Bular sneer.

“You are clumsy, this’ll be your doom and no cheap tricks will help you!”

Bular dove towards Jim but magic sparked in his left hand yet again and a barrage of ice arrows shot at him. The ice broke as it hit Bular’s stone skin but it was enough to drive him further away from Toby. Jim advanced, lamenting he had to use the sword instead of his daggers. It was much easier to parry strikes with a light dagger while you shoot magic at your opponent. Their blades clashed, sparks flying and the sound of stone and metal scraping the concrete filled the air. The sun was setting but it was enough to remind Jim of its presence as the tip of his left horn was touched by it.

“YAH!” – Jim twisted his blade to the side and punching Bular in the gut.

Bular grunted but retaliated by ramming his horns into Jim. The armor scraped and slid a bit on the still wet concrete but Jim was determined. He let go of Daylight, knowing it can be summoned again, grabbed his brother’s top horns and twisted to the side. Bular could only obey the laws of physics as he lost balance and his face met the concrete but that was not all of it. Jim still held on, dragged his body on the ground as he spun and gained momentum. He lifted Bular, spun him once before throwing him at the bridge. Bular’s blade slipped from his grip and clattered on the ground.

“Grh!” – Bular shook his head, his eyes widening a bit.

Jim was charging towards him. He rolled to the side and managed to snag his weapon and parry Jim’s strike.

“Yield, Bular!”

“NEVER! How could you?! How DARE you betray us, betray father! I thought you long dead and you were hiding and playing nice with the fleshbags! You coward!”

Jim steeled himself and pushed on, not even daring to be swayed by Bular’s words. Their swords clashed, the two brothers locked into a dance of steel and death. One wrong move, one unsteady step, one second late and it could mean the death of either of them. Dirt and stones were kicked up as the two trolls fought. Bular swung his blade but Jim dodged, a crack signaled a huge chunk if a nearby tree was gone. Jim was grabbed by Bular and thrown to the side. The younger troll steadying himself, his clawed hands leaving gouges in the dirt as he slid to a halt. In a second he had lifted Daylight to parry one of Bular’s hits. Jim’s eyes glowed a bit brighter, electricity crackled from his hands to the sword. Bular hissed a bit as he was shocked and forced to take a step back.

This entire time Toby had been hiding behind a tree, watching the spectacle. He was speechless. A loud sloshing sound almost made him jump out of his skin. He turned around to see Draal Blinky and AARRRGH coming out of the water at last.

“Cough! Young Tobias! Where is Master Jim?” – Blinky asked as he climbed out of the water.

Toby just pointed a finger.

“Great Gronka Morka!”

“Jatar?” – AARRRGH’s voice trembled a bit.

As their blades clashed again, Bular saw Blinky and the coming.

“Hehe. Those fools you protect; they’ll never accept you! They’ll never let someone with Gunmar’s blood live! You are as good as dead now, even if I don’t kill you!” – he laughs and taunts.

“I don’t care!” Jim shouted “I will save my friend’s life no matter what! I give you one final chance, yield!” – Jim pushed his sword forward.

“You are a fool, Jatar, even thinking that I would betray father… I would never yield!” Bular was furious, he started pushing Jim back “I will make sure to kill every single one of these fleshbags here and it would be because of you! Because YOU betrayed us just to live like a lowly being, like them!”

Jim’s head was lowered, eyes shadowed by his wet hair.

“I am sorry…” – he whispered.

In an instant, something exploded in front of Bular. The shockwave bushed him back and knocked the sword out of his hands. A hot, searing pain spread from the center of his chest. He looked down to see Jim with Daylight sticking through his chest, the sword’s light turning him into stone.

“Things have changed, brother. I won’t run again, not anymore. Also, I don’t plan to die. There’s so much to live for, after all. So many new, better things to see, people to meet… I don’t plan on giving it up, not now, nor ever.”

“Heh. I see…” – Bular’s last words, before he turned completely to stone held no malice.

The armor disappeared, Jim just stood there with his clothes and hair dripping. He might have held contempt towards his brother, he had realized what needed to be done to protect his new family but it still hurt a bit. He had once adored Bular, though of him as the strongest, most amazing brother, they had even shared a few good moments when the Gumm-Gumms were not fighting.

“Draal! WAIT!” – Blinky shouted.

Jim had enough time to brace himself as Draal slammed into him. He grunted as he took the charging troll on. Draal grabbed the front of his shirt and glared.

“No! That’s Jim!” – Toby ran, followed by AARRRGH and Blinky.

“I know that!” he shouted at Toby and turned to look back at Jim “What is your goal?! Why did you disguise yourself as a fleshbag? To gain something by infiltrating Trollmarket? Why did you lie?!”

“I only lied about being human.” Jim’s blue gaze was unwavering “I told you already, I would have been perfectly fine if I never met you but the amulet hit me in the head. I don’t plan to be captured and be executed just because Gunmar is my father!” – Jim’s voice boomed in a way Toby never heard it before.

Draal sputtered and Jim used this to push him back and get his hands off his shirt.

“You may be mad because I pretended to be human but I am not giving without a fight! If you threaten my mom, Toby or Nana, I WILL fight you!” – Jim bared a bit of his teeth as he stared Draal in the eyes.

“A…I… GAH!” – Draal got frustrated and ran off to somewhere.

“Draal! Wait!” Blinky shouted, his six eyes darting between Jim and Draal’s retreating back “Uhm… Master Jim, uh…”

“Jim is fine.” – Jim’s shoulders slumped as he sighed.

“I will go and talk to Draal and… We, we’ll talk later. Is-Is that alright with you?”

Jim just nodded and Blinky hurried off, following Draal’s tracks. AARRRGH stood there by Toby’s side.

“Jim, are you fine?” – Toby was concerned and took a step towards him.

“Yes, I just… I don’t know.” – he felt awkward and scratched the back of his neck.

“Jim is Jatar… How?” – AARRRGH rumbled, not seeming to be bothered or as awkward as Blinky was.

“Jatar? Is that your real name? You knew each other from before?” – Toby started firing questions before being stopped by Jim’s raised hand.

“Yes, that is, was, the name I went by. Just, can we talk about this later?” – the look in Jim’s eyes made Toby stop any protest he was about to make.

“OK. Let’s go back home, Jimbo. No problem with me! And you, big guy?” – Toby looked at AARRRGH.

“Leave you alone. Have to move Bular. Not good if humans see.” – he looked at Jim, waiting for permission.

“A-Alright. Let’s go home. Mom must be worried.” – Jim tried to act like this has not affected him as much.

“It’s OK.” AARRRGH patted Jim’s shoulder “We talk first, won’t tell others. Promise.”

“Thanks.” – Jim smiled as he left the ex-general, followed by Toby.

“Bye, wingman! See ya later!”

The streets were darker, lamps were already illuminating the town of Arcadia. Toby and Jim were obviously avoiding the main streets with how many people were still returning home and Jim not being in a condition to transform back into a human shape. They were silent until Toby decided to lighten up the mood.

“Soooo… You are actually a troll, right? You don’t quite seem like a changeling.”

“Yeah. I am a troll, not a changeling.”

“How? I though only changelings were able to turn into humans.”

“Magic.” Toby deadpanned at him “No, I am serious. I can do magic, in fact, I am a genuine mage.” – Jim concentrated to his palm and created a small glowing ball of magic but it disappeared soon due to his emotional instability.

“Whoah! That’s so cool! You really were awesome back then, shooting ice and that thing you did with your fist… Oh, also that explosion!”

“Yes…” he looked a bit uncomfortable “So, you are OK, with this, I mean.” –Jim gestured at himself.

“Yeah, dude. Don’t sweat about it. We’ve been friends for like- FOOREVER! I know all of your embarrassing secrets and what a loser you are at video games. Your rocky exterior can’t hide your mushy heart from me. Although, what do we tell your mom?”

“The truth, of course. I already informed her of the whole thing.”

“Even that you are a-“ – Toby gestured at him.

“Yeah, she knew from the start, so don’t worry.”

“I see… Wow! To be honest, I feel a bit left out.”

“I am sorry, Tobes, it’s just… I didn’t know how to tell you. Humans usually don’t accept such things and I HAD planned to leave before mom woke up the first time we met. After that, she offered me to stay and stuff happened…”

“Wow, now you HAVE to tell me that story! How Barbara Lake met a troll… It sounds like a nice movie title, right?”

“Haha, right. Well, it seems we are here.”

They had reached their street. Jim and Toby exchanged looks, nodded and without a word decided to go to their own homes and calm down a bit from these quite stressful events.

“Jimbo!” – Toby called him.

“Yes?”

“So you know, you might be the most modern-looking troll I have ever seen.” – Toby gave him a thumbs up and a smile.

Jim laughed at his friend’s antics and returned home.

Chapter Text

(AN: I tend to get a bit too hyped up/ambitious sometimes. Don’t mind me…

Also, a quick reminder that Jim is not that close to Claire nor in love with her.)

HEYO! Just sayin' ... this fic just got a tvtropes page:

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Fanfic/SonOfTheBlack

=== Dream? ===

He was running… He was scared… What was that? WhAT wAS ThAT?! What did he just see??! That… that can’t be-! F-Father…

This… He couldn’t be part of-of-OF THIS! He can’t possibly cause something like this to others. Maybe it would be better to…

“JIIIIIM!” – a young voice calls.

“DIE!” – his father roars.

A lustrous shield of magic stops the blade mere inches away from its target.

“You will not hurt them! I won’t allow it!!” - another voice shouts.

“FOOL! You dare challenge me?!” – his father is furious.

“YES!” magic glowed, encompassing the claws, empowering them “I will protect them, no matter what!”

Magic… protect

======

Jim woke up with a gasp. The sound of tearing alerted him that his claws had wound up in one of the mattresses he was using as bedding. He now needed to fix the hole. He looked around and saw his sheet kicked in the other end of the room and he had somehow ended up spinning so much that his head was where his legs were when he went to bed.

‘What was that last night?’ – his brows furrowed but he couldn’t remember what exactly he’d dreamed of.

He slowly rose and headed downstairs.

The play had passed a few days ago but he found himself wondering ever since then – what was he going to do about Claire’s brother? With the bridge now sealed inside Trollmarket, he doubted he could ask them to open the bridge and go rescue a baby. Although he felt guilty he could not stop the goblin taking the baby, he was NOT suicidal to go into the Darklands and face a whole army for a single baby.

In the kitchen, his mom was making coffee and humming to herself.

“Good morning!” – she greeted with a wide smile.

“M-Mornin…” he yawned “You seem awfully happy.”

“Can’t a woman be happy? Not to mention, there is a reason to be~.” – she looked at him expectantly.

“W-What?” – he was confused and his brain was not working quite at 100%.

“Tomorrow is you ‘birthday’!”

Jim’s eyes widened, remembering the day he officially became part of Barbara’s family and how it was chosen to be his date of birth on the papers. Trolls had no concept of celebrating someone’s birth every year and he had no idea when his should be, he was content with the date.

“Ah! That’s right. I completely forgot.”

“With how hectic things were recently, I don’t blame you. If it wasn’t for my phone, I would have forgotten too.”

They laughed a bit and Jim started cooking. He hadn’t cooked in his real form in a while, so he almost knocked down the pan a few times. Barbara just sat there and watched while Jim cooked. His ear twitched and he turned slightly to the side, looking at something behind her. She turned to only hear the basement door close with a bang.

“Is he still sulking?” – she asked Jim.

“Yeah. I guess it is kind of hard for him to process things.” – Jim shrugged and went back to making food.

“Still, he has to get over it soon, right? It has been a few days and I thought he agreed to not tell everybody in Trollmarket about you.”

“Yes, but he still insists on checking on me ‘in case he is planning something’ he said. And he won’t even stay to talk with me. He always hurries off somewhere.”

“Don’t worry. I am sure you’ll be able to clear things up a bit more.”

“Yeah…”

…………………………..

Draal was conflicted, angry, confused… he felt a bit betrayed. Jim had been a troll this entire time and Gunmar’s son on top of it! He had been so blinded with rage that he had almost stormed into Trollmarket, despite his banishment at the time, before Blinky and AARRRGH had stopped him. They had tackled him and insisted to talk it out before doing anything rash that may result in the Trollhunter leaving. He had reluctantly agreed and they met on neutral ground – in the woods.

===Flashback===

A strong punch decked him in the face, making him stumble to the side a bit. Jim could do worse, he knew it and was frustrated to admit he was glad this wasn’t a death match.

“Grah!” – Draal tackled Jim, the younger troll falling to the ground with him.

“Cut it out!” – Jim kicked him in the stomach.

They rolled a bit in the dirt before they separated, he glared as Jim scowled at him. Pieces of grass and dirt clung to them. Blinky, AARRRGH and Toby stood further away, watching them brawling.

“Grr!” Jim growled, reminding Draal of his confrontation with Bular a bit “How many times do I have to repeat it?! I DON’T like fighting! Calm the fuck down, will you?!”

Draal just charged, Jim blocking the punch and swinging a fist himself, but Draal ducked. Jim seemed to read his mind and lowered himself, their horns clashed.

“You LIED!! Why won’t I be angry?!” – Draal pushed.

“Like a had a choice! I don’t plan to be torn to pieces by an angry mob!” – Jim stood his ground.

“Damn you- How can I just accept it? Your brother killed by father!”

“And I had to kill my brother! So suck it up and finally deal with your daddy issues!”

“Wha- You- Piece of soggy cloth!” – Draal punched Jim.

“Thick-headed mule!” – Jim grappled him and threw him at a nearby tree.

“Raah!” – Draal quickly shook himself and jumped at Jim, again.

======

That had continued until both of them were exhausted and sore. It was a bit of an eye-opener. Sometimes, the best way to solve a dispute between trolls was to let them fight it out.

Draal had still been somewhat reluctant to just let Jim be without supervision, so he decided to check on him. Today, however, he had heard the unusually heavy steps from upstairs, so he had peeked through the door to see what was happening. He saw Jim, in his real, troll form, cooking and wearing a large for human but quite small for a troll apron with hearts on it. He had quickly retreated down and into the tunnel before what he had just seen caught up to him. He blankly stared at the floor before he bent down and burst into uncontrollable laughter.

=== With Toby ===

“Hey, Jimbo! How’s it going? Excited for the big day tomorrow?”

“Oh, great. Was I the only one to forget about the birthday?”

“Chill, dude. It is not a big deal, I forget things a lot of the time. Wait! Is this like your real birthday or-?”

“Tobes, trolls don’t really have a concept for birthdays, especially where I lived. For this, I am sure.”

“Seriously?” – Toby was appalled at the idea of no birthdays and no birthday cake.

“Yeah, so when mom officially made me part of the family and put me in the system, we decided to mark that day as my birthday. Oh, here’s today’s lunch.” – he passed Toby a paper bag.

“Thanks!”

“Oh, also, Draal came just now, while I was making breakfast.” – Jim mentioned, almost making Toby drop his backpack.

“He came- Wait! Were you with the apron?!”

“Yes… Why?”

“DUDE! You were with that apron! No one, even Draal would take you seriously after seeing you in it! This is your chance to smoothen things out!”

“Hey! It’s not that bad!”

“Jim, you look ridiculous in it, especially in your big form.”

=== Flashback ===

It had been a bit hard to process everything. His best friend since childhood had been a troll, not to mention a magician. His almost brother was a magical troll! How much cooler could that be?! Apparently much cooler!

Jim had brought him to the basement and showed him his work station, potions cabinet and books of freakin’ magic! Jim had even demonstrated a few spells and although Toby didn’t have much of an affinity for the mystic art, Jim promised to at least try and teach him the shoelace-tying magic. He was SO tying coach Lawrence’s shoes next time he gave him extra laps!

The next day he had decided to surprise Jim by coming early to his house and help him if he needed. What Toby wasn’t prepared for was seeing Jim in the kitchen – a big, black troll in the now tiny-looking kitchen, delicately whisking a bowl of eggs while wearing a heart-printed apron.

Toby.exe had stopped working for a good minute before he processed the sight in front of him. The burst of laughter was so strong he couldn’t stop for almost half an hour. He was rolling on the floor, gasping for air, tears streaming down his face and stomach muscles starting to hurt from it all. Even Jim removing the apron hadn’t helped.

======

Toby still snickered a bit, even as they rode their bikes to school.

…………………………………..

“C-bomb! How’s the stalking going?”

“Wha- Mary! It’s not like that!”

“Yeah, don’t think I haven’t seen you giving the look to Jim over there. You have to act, girl! Boys won’t know you have a crush on them until you slap them in the face with it!”

Claire sputtered. She did NOT have a crush! In fact, she was still not even planning on getting one. Maybe in college of after that but she was not looking for a high-school relationship. It was just… there was something with Jim and Toby. They were very secretive, disappearing off to places, hiding something… She was curious and wanted to find out what it was. They weren’t even surprised when Mr. Strickler had suddenly quit and disappeared – she saw them exchanging KNOWING looks!

=== Janus Order ===

[Attention, everybody!] – Otto’s voice sounded through the base, it was even broadcasted through their secret radio transmission.

Everybody listening stopped working and listened to the message.

[As of today, I was appointed the new head of the Janus Order, after Stricklander ran off and betrayed the Lady. His current location is unknown and any member is to report and preferably capture him on sight. That will be all for now.]

Otto sat in his new office and stared into a map. He was planning his next move – to bring them closer to their goal. The question was- was he willing to take this risk or play it safe?

Well… he could still try that before deciding if he should take the trip or not.

=== Shocking birthday ===

Something was there!!

Jim jumped out of bed and scanned the area around him and outside the window. He realized what he had done after he stuck his head out of the window. Thankfully, he had been in his human form, not having bothered to remove the spell before getting in bed, so he wasn’t sun-stained.

‘There’s nothing… Was I imagining it or…’ – he pulled his head inside the room when a knocking came from his door.

“Yes?”

“Happy birthday, Jim!” – Barbara entered the room with a gift bag.

He quirked his brow but received the present. Inside it was a large sketchbook and a few of those giant gag pens, there was also a gift card worth 50 bucks for the local mall.

“Well, do you like it?”

“I love it! I needed a new book to write notes in and you never know when you’d need a giant pen!” – he smiled a bit cheekily and she ruffled his hair.

“I am glad, now, wash up and get down. I made pancakes.”

Jim sniffed the air and since he didn’t smell anything burning, it must have been better than the last time she made pancakes.

[Warhammer to Trollhunter, do you copy, Jimbo?]

“Yeah, I hear you, Tobes.”

[Look out of the window.]

Jim poked his head out again and saw Toby waving a cake cutout that looked as if someone had taken a huge bite out of it.

“Do you like it?!” – Toby shouted, waving it.

“It’s nice!”

“AARRRGH took a bite of it! I think he doesn’t quite understand what it is for!”

“Told you! Wanna come over?”

“NAH! Nana made eggs and ham! Do you want it?!” – Toby pointed at the cutout.

“No! Give it to AARRRGH. I don’t like glitter!”

Toby struggled a bit to get the cutout in, making Jim laugh, but managed to get it in after a while. Jim still couldn’t shake off the feeling that something wasn’t right.

…………………………………..

Still in school, Jim couldn’t get the tingling feeling on the back of his neck to go away. He got antsy, constantly scanning the surrounding area, almost jumping at sudden loud noises… there might have been one extra hole in one of the lockers’ doors. (“Holy shit!” – you could hear the janitor shout when he saw the hole punched through the door.)

This had not gone unnoticed by Claire. It was even stranger than usual, after all. She tailed them for a while, watching what they did, even after school.

“Come on, Jimbo! I know you always wanted to ride one of those!” – Toby gestured at a brand new Vespa on display.

“Yes, but I would prefer to be mine instead of borrowing one. I got a few parts as you know, all I need to do is find a few more and put them together.”

“Yeah, yeah. And after I went through the trouble of gathering the documents…”

“Hey, don’t feel down. We’ll go back home and I promise to treat you a special birthday dish! Mom should come with the cake a bit later.”

“You are right-OH! Can you wait here a bit? I have to go!” – Toby hurried to a nearby gas station, leaving Jim alone, well… not completely alone.

A screech from the skies and a shadow descended upon him. Jim rolled to the side, the Stalkling’s claws scraping the nearby wall.

‘A Stalkling! What is one doing here?!’

………………………..

Claire had missed them, not having bike while following two boys with bikes proved to be more of a challenge than she expected. Then, she heard it, a monstrous screech! She ran towards it, keeping close to walls but when she reached the place, she saw Jim and Toby biking away as fast as they could. What was in there?

She looked around, realizing she had no chance at catching up to them, so she investigated the area. She saw them- the claw marks. They covered parts of an alley’s walls and even the concrete below AND a large trash can had been split in half!

‘What exactly is happening here and what do these two have to do with it?’

……………………………………

Later that day, closer to evening than afternoon, Jim HAD to do something! He couldn’t live is whole centuries-long life constantly clinging to people and living in Trollmarket was out of the question! No matter how nice it felt to be truly close to the Heartstone rather than just feeling it from afar… He shook his head and focused. If everything went as planned, he’d be able to deal with the Stalkling once and for all.

…………………………………..

Claire had been looking around for Jim and Toby but couldn’t find the duo anywhere. Just as she was about to give up and go home for the day, she spotted the two go into the park, thick roped loaded on their bikes. She spun around and quickly ran towards the park. Even as they went deeper, eventually entering the woods, she secretly followed from behind. Her heart pounded loudly in her ears, almost getting a miniature heart attack when she lost them. She looked around, frantically, the fact that she could still see parts of the city and her phone being with her calmed her a little. She wasn’t lost and even if she got lost, she’d be able to call for help.

Claire looked around but could find no trace of the boys yet again! She wasn’t going to give up. She had found him earlier, she was going to find them now.

There it was! The screech, breaking branches… (she dearly hoped it was NOT trees) shouting voices!

“Jimbo…!”

“Hold it tighter!”

“Master Jim!”

She crouched and approached cautiously.

………………………………

The Stalkling had partially broken free from the trap they had laid out. AARRRGH and Blinky were holding a few of the last remaining ropes, the others having been torn by the beast’s sharp claws.

It flung its head, attacking everything in a blind rage as it had been ambushed at trapped. The ropes in Blinky’s hands were pulled and the troll’s shorter legs didn’t help him. He was pulled forward and the Stalkling’s tail was freed. It whipped it around, smacking both Jim and AARRRGH, also taking down a few smaller, younger trees. They had chosen this place for a reason – it was far away from people, was perfect to set traps and provided a lot of shade for the trolls.

“I really need a weapon!” – Toby shouted as the rope he was holding got lifted up and spun in the air.

The Stalkling cared no more for stealth or who it was after. It somehow grabbed Toby’s collar.

“No, Tobes!” – Jim transformed and with a great leap landed on the Stalkling’s neck.

It screeched and let Toby go – the boy fell for a terrifying second before Jim’s large stony hand snatched him from the air. The Stalking, now free and completely berserk, flapped its wings, quickly separating itself from the forest floor.

“AARRRGH! Catch!” – Jim shouted.

“WAAAAAAIT!!” – Toby shouted as he was tossed.

AARRRGH had leaped up, still not far enough to reach the Stalkling but close enough to catch Toby. The beast flapped its wings, quickly increasing the distance between itself and the other 3, despite Jim clinging to it.

“Wingman OK?” – AARRRGH rumbled as he set Toby down and patted him.

“I am OK, big guy but we have to save Jim!”

“Let’s go! Where in Deya’s name is Draal though?! This would have been much easier with him!” – Blinky grumbled as they ran in the direction the Stalkling had flown.

None of them were aware that someone HAD seen them and ran away as soon as they were far enough from her hiding spot.

…………………………………..

“Eat this!”

Jim embedded Daylight’s blade in the Stalkling’s back and channeled lightning magic through it. Sunlight, ice and fire hadn’t done much, if any, damage but lightning seemed to do the fob. It slowly started turning to stone. It started falling, forcing jim to let go of the sword and in a few quick motions he had conjured a protective sphere of magic around himself.

The fall was HARD but at least he hadn’t been shattered on impact. The Stalkling took down the tips of a few trees but the trunks broke it to pieces as it crashed through the foliage and eventually shattered on a few mossy rocks down below.

Jim lowered his shield and panted. This whole ordeal had been nerve-wrecking and he shuddered. The broken pieces of stone that once were a mighty beast could have also been him.

=== Time skip, night ===

Jim, Toby, AARRRGH and Blinky were finally returning back to Jim’s home.

“Maybe you could stay for the party! You helped us a lot after all!” – Toby suggested.

“Party? What for?” – Blinky was curious.

“It’s my birthday.” – Jim adjusted the bag swung over his shoulder.

Turns out certain remains from a Stalkling could be used in potions, so Jim had taken some broken pieces with him.

“Hmm… I fear I am not familiar with the concept.”

“It’s a celebration we humans do, celebrating on the day someone has been born.” – Toby was a bit too eager to explain.

“Cutout tasty.” – AARRRGH chimed in and licked his lips.

“So, you celebrate the birth of someone every year? How curious. We have no such traditions.”

Toby continued to explain what exactly is usually done on a birthday, Blinky lamenting his lack of gift, despite being invited. They approached the house but the lights were off. They cautiously approached the house, Jim leading them. He opened the door and the lights turned on.

“SURPRISE!!” – Barbara said.

It certainly was a surprise. Jim had almost jumped into the ceiling! The living room had been decorated with banners and colorful balloons, a cake sat on the coffee table but the biggest surprise, for the group of four, was Draal.

“What do you think? Draal helped me decorate the place. He was a big help for the higher places! We also got to know each other better.”

Blinky made his way into the room and AARRRGH awkwardly shuffled through the door.

“Here.” – Draal pushed a messily wrapped cardboard box toward Jim.

Jim cautiously opened it and gasped.

“A Steering wheel, a seat, a set of taillights… These are all parts of a Vspa!” – Jim was excited.

“Look… I am sorry for acting like that. It seems that I have judged you wrongly.”

“See! I told you Jimbo. NO ONE can resist the blow of the apron!” – Toby snickered.

Draal burst laughing and had to catch himself before he accidentally made a hole through the wall. AARRRGH and Blinky looked with confusion.

“Later.” –Barbara whispered to them, giving a knowing look.

=== With Claire ===

Claire couldn’t sleep. What she had seen in the woods replayed itself over and over again. She was expecting something strange, maybe role-playing, maybe something a bit illegal with how much rope they had, something a bit dangerous but not this! She was not prepared to see two of her classmates and two rock monsters trying to wrestle with a giant dragon thingy, NOR did she expect one of her classmates to turn into a stone monster!

‘I need some water.’

It was way past midnight, she felt drained and very thirsty, a bit puckish too, having barely touched any of the food or water at dinner. She had been too shocked, maybe freaked out would be more appropriate to even eat.

She didn’t turn on the lights, not wanting to bother her parents or wake her brother up. He slept well through the night these days but cried like crazy if he was woken up late at night.

Claire quenched her thirst and ate a single slice of bread with a bit leftover guac from her lunch. It wasn’t much but it would hopefully help her throughout the night.

She was sluggish and tired but it was unlikely to fall asleep with her brain buzzing so much. She went up the stairs and-

“…yeah, yeah. Don’t worry, I’ve got it. No need to repeat yourself so much, sheesh.” – an unfamiliar, deep, manly voice came from her brother’s room.

She froze. Who was there?! A kidnapper?! A burglar?! She looked around but only saw a few pictures hanging from the walls. She swallowed and unhooked one with a metal rim – she could manage a few good hits on the intruder and wake her parents up.

“OK. I will call tomorrow…” – the voice was talking again.

She crept to the slightly opened door (was left in case she or her parents had to quickly reach Enrique). She peered in but didn’t see a man, she saw a green thing with cat-like eyes standing on her baby brother’s crib and talking on a cellphone.

“Fine! See ya.” – it ended the call.

Creaaak~

She had leaned forward and pushed the door, making it creak. Their eyes met as the creature suddenly flashed and turned in her brother.

“Aa… Goo-goo, ga-ga?”

“KYAAAAAAAAA!” – she screamed and stumbled back.

Claire’s arms flailed as she tripped on her own legs and hit her head on a doorframe. Before everything went black, she saw her parents’ worried faces and that thing looking at her, glowing cat-like eyes and her baby brother’s face.

 

I am not one to edit and add on already published chapters here and there but these were too awesome to leave for the next chapter! Art by the amazing Lumen-Niveus! I really appreciate it.(Taken via screenshot from Instagram, with permission, of course!)

Screenshot 2020-08-06-14-51-40 by VGYDHKSalnmxk


Screenshot 2020-08-06-14-54-11 by VGYDHKSalnmxk

Chapter Text

Beep~! Beep~!

The soft beeping noise was what Claire woke up to, that and the strong smell of chemicals.

“Claire! Thank God you are ok!” – her mother quickly rushed to her side.

“M-Mom? What- What happened?”

“You fell and hit your head really bad on one of the doorframes. It’s alright, though. The doctor said there was no bleeding, only a small bump.”

Claire touched the back of her head and hissed in pain.

“Wait here, I’m going to call the doctor.” – her mother stood up, put a reassuring hand on her arm and left the room.

She waited a bit and a doctor by the name Charles came in. He checked her head, tested her pupil response and if she could focus and see things properly.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong. We’ll keep her here until morning, just in case something happens. Head injuries are very dangerous.”

“Thank you, Dr. Charles.” – her mother sighed in relief.

“I advise you to try and sleep. It will help a bit.”

Claire numbly nodded, laid down and closed her eyes, but no matter how much she tried… it was simply impossible to truly fall asleep. The sight of the creature in her brother’s crib, those cat-like, glowing, slit eyes haunted her until the sun started to peek over the horizon.

Around 9 in the morning, Claire found herself and her mother waiting in front of the hospital for her father to come. Soon their car stopped, the driver’s window rolled down and her father’s head peeked out.

“Good morning! How are my girls?”

“I’m feeling better, papa. How are you?” – Claire said, hoping her father won’t question the black circles under her eyes like her mother did earlier.

“Much better, knowing you are alright. Oh, also, look who also came to greet you!” – he smiled and pointed at the back seat.

Claire’s expression fell seeing the creature sitting in her brother’s booster seat.

“What’s that doing here?!” – the words slipped out of her mouth the moment their eyes met.

“Claire! Don’t shout like that. You’ll make Enrique cry!” – her mother scolded her.

“…not Enrique…” – she muttered under her breath.

“What did you say?” – her mother turned around to look at her.

“Can I sit in front, please?”

Ms. Nuñes thought for a while, contemplating what to say.

“Why not?” her father looked at her “You are already old enough and you’ll be able to start driving lessons soon. I see no problem here.”

“Fine, you can, but make sure you’ve buckled up securely.” – her mother then sat in the back, cooing at the fake Enrique.

………………………………..

She had been given a week off of school. Claire was still doing her homework but at home, her main focus, however, was the creature that currently looked like her baby brother. It hadn’t transformed since that night…

For a moment, Claire had doubted herself. Maybe it was the late night, the hit to the head, lack of sleep… Maybe she had imagined it, but she knew better. The crack in the glass of the picture, the same picture she had dropped on the floor, proved it. She had remembered it right!

When the girl knew something was wrong, she started seeing it. She saw little ques that her brother never did before. Not seeking out his favorite toy, staring at the cat in a strange way, trying to get into the basket with dirty clothes… How had no one noticed? Maybe because they weren’t paying enough attention because he was ‘a baby’?

Claire was left to look after the fake Enrique and she never let him out of her sight. Meanwhile, she was searching online for what this might be, but nothing solid came up, only stories for children and folklore tales from Europe.

“What did you do to my brother?” – she scowled at the not-baby in the crib.

“Gah-gyah!” – he gurgled and stretched his hands

“Oh, don’t even try it. It doesn’t work on me anymore, you- You Gremlin!”

He shut up and looked at her “Really? Gremlin?” was what his face said.

“AHA! You are doing it again!” she pointed and he gaped “So stop with the games and tell me where my brother is or-“ – there was a flash of light.

“Or what?” the green creature was standing up “Tell the parents? The authorities? Sorry to pop ya bubble, missy, but ya’ve got nothin’ to prove. They’ll think you are crazy the moment ya open your mouth.”

Claire couldn’t deny it. She really had no proof and she was alone in the house for the day. Her parents almost had a heart attack when she started poking him with a spatula and shaking him in hopes he turned into the green creature again. What could she do?

“So, why don’t ya go and bring be a couple of those wooly sock in the clothes bin?” – he licked his lips.

“Yuck!” – she grimaced at the implication and stared at his toothy grin.

Then, an idea struck her! An idea so great, SO OBVIOUS, she slapped her cheek lightly for not doing this earlier. She HAD seen something similar before! Jim had also transformed and she knew his secret! She could ask him about her brother and if he refused, she could threaten to reveal his secret to everyone-

‘God! Ms. Lake doesn’t know her son has been replaced!’ – she paled and ran out of the room.

“Hey!” he followed her “Where are ya going? Didn’t the parents tell ya to stay home and not go out?” – he shouted from the top of the stairs.

“I am going to get some answers and just like I can’t do anything to you, you can’t stop me!” – she put on a light jacket.

“What am I supposed to do with no one here?”

“Play on that phone of yours or something! I don’t care!” – she closed the door with a bang and locked it.

“Sheesh!”

……………………………………..

It wasn’t hard for her to reach Jim’s, if that WAS his actual name, house. When she did, however, she realized how underprepared she had come.

She had rushed here without thinking of a plan, without letting anybody know where she went. Claire was momentarily stuck, so she squatted in the bushes and stopped to think of a plan.

‘Alright, Claire, focus! What would be the best plan of action?’

She couldn’t face Jim head on or one of the other creatures. They were much bigger than her and surely stronger, so that was one option out of the window.

‘What do I do?! I don’t want that green Gremlin-thing to take by brother’s place. Where is Enrique? Is he even alright?!’

Then it came to her – she couldn’t do this alone, she needed an ally! Ms. Lake didn’t know her son had also been replaced, so she should tell her and then maybe they both could think of something together.

‘Yes! This is good. Now… how do I get in?’

Claire looked around and saw a window leading to the basement. It was slightly ajar, probably to let some fresh air in, so she took the opportunity and carefully opened it all the way.

The basement was much bigger than she expected. There were a lot of boxes, old furniture and a furnace – those were the main points of the basement she saw.

………………………………..

Draal was just returning from a quick run to get a few things fro Trollmarket and was about to get into the basement when he stopped and sniffed the air. There was an intruder with a really strong floral scent to them.

The troll carefully wheeled the shelf that served as a cover to the tunnel and peered into the basement. There was a human female that was snooping around, but why?

It a moment of complete randomness and speculation, his mind spoke.

‘A Changeling!’ – he had no basis for the accusation but he didn’t think it through.

Draal set down his sack and snuck on the supposed changeling. He contemplated about using a snow shovel to knock them out, but that would most likely kill them in their human disguise, so he took a sofa cushion and whacked them on the head really hard.

“Ah!” – the female shouted as she was flung through the air and hit the furnace with a clang.

He tiptoed to her and nudged her, she was out, so he went to work and tied the ‘changeling’ securely to a chair and waited for Jim to be back.

………………………………..

Claire came to with a groan. Her vision was still foggy and both her head and side throbbed in pain from the impact. Something had hit and flung her into the air and then… she blacked out. The girl tried to shift into a more comfortable position but found herself unable to budge.

That prompty woke her up and she found herself confined to a chair in the middle of the basement. She looked around and her eyes met another set that belonged to a giant blue monster with horns and spikes on its back. Claire almost screamed when she saw it up-close but held it in, she couldn’t show weakness!

The creature looked roughly the same size as one of the others she had seen with Jim but it was kind of hard to guess. It sat on some bedding on the floor and had pointed a mop handle at her when their eyes met.

She had been too careless and was now captured. With no way to escape on her own, she did the next logical thing…

“HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP! SOMEBODY HELP MEEEEEEEE!” – she screamed as loud as she could, hoping somebody may hear her.

“Geh!” – Draal put both hands on his ears and grimaced at the volume.

===Time skip===

“Thanks for the drive, Dr. L!” – Toby hopped out of the car.

“It was nothing. I finished early today.” – Barbara waited for them to get their bikes out before locking the car.

“I am going to check what Draal is doing.” – Jim put his bike in the corner.

“I’m coming too! Do you think he’s back? He said he had something to do in Trollmarket today.

“Yeah, now that you mention it…”

The two friends entered the house and as soon as the door behind them was closed, Jim transformed and rubbed his shoulders. He had been exhausted and feeling stiff, despite not doing much today.

Jim went down the stairs first, the steps creaking under his weight, Toby following him.

“Mmmh~!”

Jim stopped in his tracks and Toby struggled to look around his friend what was making the noise.

In front of them was Draal, holding a mop handle and stayind in one end of the room. In the other end, tied to a chair, was Claire. She was struggling to get out and shout, she also had a potato in her mouth.

The two boys exchanged looks and Toby hurried up the stairs.

“What in Deya’s name happened here?”

“I caught this Changeling while she was searching through the basement.” – Draal pointed at Claire.

“And the potato?” – Jim rubbed his forehead while Claire struggled more.

“I took it from the sack over- Oh! She was screaming too much and didn’t want to listen or shut up.”

Jim sighed in defeat and walked towards Claire.

“She’s not a Changeling, Draal. She’s a classmate of mine.”

“Oh…” Draal lowered the mop handle but didn’t let it go “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am.” he then carefully pulled the potato out of her mouth “Are you a-“

“LET ME GO!!”

Both trolls winced at the volume and a pair of humans upstairs jumped up a bit.

“Whoah, calm down!” – Jim tried to talk to her.

“CALM DOWN?! You took my brother and now want ME to be calm?!!”

“Wha-“

“Untie me and tell me what you did with my brother and put that gremlin in his place!” – all logic had left her while she had been tied and now she was shouting whatever came to her mind without thinking it over.

“We didn’t do anything.” – Draal looked at her, unimpressed.

“Oh, yeah? I see Jim turn into a monster to fight a dragon and then my brother turns into a gremlin! Quite a coincidence, right?”

“You saw that?!” – Jim is shocked.

“Yes. Now untie these ropes or I’ll keep shouting! Someone will find me, maybe even Ms. Lake will come. Then, she’ll learn about your secret! I will tell her you had replaced her son!” – the girl threatened.

The two troll exchanged an appalled look at the said. Her threat sounded ridiculous at best and pathetic at worst.

“Jim? I heard shouting. Did something happen?” – Barbara’s voice drifted downstairs.

“HEEEELP! SAVE MEEEE!” – Claire shouted.

Barbara came down the stairs, Toby following her.

“Ms. Lake! Call for help! These monsters have captured me and the black one replaced your son! Hurry, before they catch you too!” – Claire struggled in her confines.

“I knew that though?” she looked at Jim “Jim, please untie her. It must be uncomfortable for a young girl and Draal-“ she stared at him “we’ll have a talk later.”

“Y-You… You knew? But why not tell anybody are they holding your son hostage?” – Claire shook a bit as she was finally freed.

“No, no… I never got pregnant to begin with. The truth is-“

And then they told Claire the truth. How Barbara met Jim, about trolls, magic and what had happened with her brother.

Claire’s legs felt like jelly but she couldn’t let herself collapse. She gulped, her mouth feeling as dry as the desert, and found it hard to talk.

“S-so…My brother. He’s in that- that place… full of monsters?”

“The Darklands? Yes, he should be.” – it was hard for Jim to admit it.

“And you… Are doing nothing?” Jim winced “You saw it happen and couldn’t save him… You know where he is and you haven’t done anything?! How can you let babies stay there? In the hands of those monsters…”

“Claire-“ – Barbara began but was interrupted.

“Why didn’t you save him?! Why didn’t you at least try to save Enrique?!” – she shouted at Jim.

Jim felt guilty. It was his fault that he hadn’t been fast enough to get her brother back from the goblin but that didn’t mean he was going to just bow his head down.

“Claire, listen! I know you care a lot about your brother and that it is hard but…” Jim took a calming breath “I can’t just march into the Darklands and demand your brother back. We are looking for a way to rescue the babies but I am not risking opening the portal and endangering millions of innocent lives, including those of family and friends because of a single baby. Once we find a way, we’ll try and save your brother but you have to wait.”

“Wait? WAIT?! And pretend everything is normal while that- that changeling is wearing my baby brother’s face?!” – tears streamed down the young girl’s face.

Before anyone could stop her, she had run off and out of the house, leaving the four in the basement to try and figure out what to do with this new development.

=== Later the same night ===

Jim tossed and turned in his bed but couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard he tried, so he got up and headed towards the backyard as quietly as his stone feet could carry him.

He opened the back door and sat on the grass, his back leaning on the house’s wall. Sighing, the young troll looked up at the starry sky.

Light footsteps made Jim aware that he was not the only one up, the faint twitch of his ear the only indication he had noticed his mother’s approach.

“Can I come sit with you?” – Barbara asked softly, a steaming cup in one hand and a foldable chair in the other.

“Of course.”

The two sat there for a while, enjoying their company and the clean, if chilly night air. Jim looked at the sky, listening to the night’s sounds and Barbara kept him company, quietly sipping her cup of tea.

“Sorry for waking you up. I tried to be quiet but, you know, stone feet.” – Jim spoke first.

“Hehe…” Barbara smiled “You don’t need to apologize. So… couldn’t sleep?”

“Yeah…”

“What’s bothering you? You can tell me.”

Jim kept quiet for quite a while, thinking how to put together what he was to say. Barbara had almost finished her cup when he finally spoke again.

“Is there something wrong with me?” – he looked her straight in the eyes.

Jim’s blue eyes lightly glowed in the darkness, looking confused and lost, looking at her for answers and guidance. Barbara was yet again reminded just how young he was- only a teenager, just figuring out their place in the world, nothing but a kid that had been living all alone for a large part of their life. She lowered the cup and spoke in a calm and firm voice.

“Jim, honey, there is nothing wrong with you. You are wonderful just the way you are.” he looked away “What brought that up?”

“Today… Claire, she really cared for her brother.”

“Yes, that’s pretty normal.”

“Her brother is a baby, no more than 2-3 years, right?”

“That’s a toddler. Baby is less than 2 years old.”

“Yeah. I know that humans live much shorter lives and a year is quite a long time from a human point of view-“

“Jim, you are starting to beat around the bush again.”

“Sigh… It’s about Bular.” Barbara listened closely “I have known him for a very long time, longer than an average human lifespan but… I killed him. When I saw Claire today, grieving that her brother was abducted, not dead, just gone…” – his voice trembled, emotion starting to leak despite his attempt to keep them in.

Jim looked back up at the sky.

“I knew him for such a long time, I admired him as a whelp and had a few good memories with him. We sparred from time to time, he would tell me a story of one of his conquests or duels when he was in a good mood… He was family! He was my brother! Instead I felt a bit relieved when I saw the life leave him. What is wrong with me?!“– Jim looked at his feet, feeling a bit ashamed for the outburst, the corners of his eyes starting to sting.

“Jim…”

“I should have cried! I should have grieved for his death! Instead, what do I do? I put his remains and weapons where no humans or Gruesomes can get to them and sealed the place with a bit of magic. I got over it just like that! Maybe I am not so different from my fa-“

Before Jim could finish the sentence, Barbara had wrapped whatever she could reach of him in a hug. A hug that made him feel better and warm inside.

“Nothing is wrong with you, Jim. Sometimes… sometimes even family doesn’t care. It happens sometimes, even if you think you should. My parents… they never called. Even after I told them about adopting you. They just hung up and when I called the same number a few weeks later, it connected me to a pizza restaurant. They hadn’t even informed me they were changing their number.” Barbara wiped a stray tear “I got sad, angry at them but after a bit, it just went away. Do you know why?”

“Why?” – he looked at her.

“I had you. You matter more to me than them. I just couldn’t be sad when I knew you’d be waiting at home for me with a smile and that fabulous apron!”

“Mom!”

She kissed him on the cheek and they both laughed.

Chapter Text

(AN: Ok… I set myself up a bit there… Damn. So, this may not be much after so long but… well, this is it.)

Jim squirmed as he felt the heated, anger-filled glare of one Claire Nuñes burn a hole in hem. If looks could kill, he’d be dead several times over.

Ever since the fallout in the basement, she had been glaring at him and refusing to talk to him unless it was about getting her baby brother back.

Jim wanted to scream, to pull all his hair out and smash his head in a concrete wall from all the frustration. Yes, Enrique may have been stolen in front of his eyes, he felt guilty for it, but he couldn’t risk the lives of so many by opening a gate to the Darklands.

He glanced at her and her glare seemed to intensify even more. This was going to be a long day.

===Somewhere else===

The harsh desert winds whipped the bodies of the travelers, their clothes billowing and sand seemed to try and get into every spot it could.

“Damn it! Why is it so goddamn windy?!” – a man in a cloak cursed and quickly began to cough as some san got in his mouth.

“Because zis place vas chosen to be ze prison of Angor Rot.” – Otto spoke throughout a mask. (This is me trying to write German accent. Happy? I will stop now, unless someone says otherwise.)

“A-Angor Rot, sir?” – a female stuttered and almost fell.

“Ancient enchantments keep the place hidden by harsh winds and sandstorms. Making anyone think twice before approaching and confusing those that do step in.” – Otto explained.

“Then, how long until we reach the place? Are we even getting clo-“ – the man began.

“We are here.” – Otto declared.

They looked ahead and indeed, there it was, amid the swirling desert sands, the silhouette of the pyramid stood. Its size was imposing, the huge structure towering over the changeling trio as they continued their trek.

The wind seemed to pick up, almost as if it was trying to push them away. The stone of the structure was visibly damaged by the time and weather. Places were crumbling, some smaller blocks were even missing, without a doubt buried somewhere beneath the sands.

Otto approached a certain section of the wall and looked around it.

“What now? I don’t see an entrance…” – the man asked.

“Now, we dig.” – Otto pulled a shovel from a bag he had been carrying and handed it to the man.

===Somewhere else===

What DID you say?” – Gunmar growled as he sat on his throne.

Dictatious cowered in front of the Gumm-Gumm reader’s one glowing eye. He swallowed before he began relaying the message once again.

“M-My Lord… It was j-just reported t-that Bular has been felled by the Trollhunter-“ Gunmar growled louder and Dictatious flinched “A-Also… The new Trollhunter allegedly looked a lot like y-you and seemed to be recognized by Bular himself-“

Gunmar smashed his fist down on his throne’s armrest, sending a few crystal pieces fly and clatter on the floor.

Leave…

“Uh, wha-“

“I said LEAVE! Or do you wish for your death to be as painful as your ancestor’s?!”

Dictatious almost fell on his bottom at the tone and ran off as quickly as his legs could carry him. Gunmar being angry was an almost certain death sentence to any what were nearby, but this… The burning, simmering fury seen in the Overlord’s eye seemed to pierce the soul.

“GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGHHHH!!!” – the roar echoed thorough the whole cavern, making small pebbles rain from the ceiling, the following booms of rocks being smashed did not help.

That wretched Trollhunter! Killing my son, my only remaining child… I WILL make him pay! I will tear him apart piece by piece and then grind him into dust!!”

Gunmar raged as his claws dug deep gouges into the stone walls.

“Once I get out of this prison-!” suddenly he stopped, his arms dropped down as the words of Dictatious repeated in his mind.

‘The Trollhunter looked a lot like me? And Bular recognized him…?’ – the Dark Lord thought over it.

A small hand reaching towards him… the small whelp trying to wrestle with him, despite the huge size difference, even biting his horn. The few short moments of attention he paid to the runt before having to head out to the battlefield.

=Flashback=

So… this is him.”

Gunmar looked down at the small, just-emerged whelp. His son wasn’t expected to emerge from his birthing stone for at least 5 more years at the very least. Their previous encampment had been stuck by an earthquake and they had to hastily move to another location, some of his army barely escaping being sun-stained. All that stress had apparently caused his youngest and last child, his last son, to emerge pre-maturely.

The little thing barely made any noise or movement, barely bigger than his palm and very thin, nothing like him or Bular. When Bular had emerged, he was at least twice his youngest’s size, stockier and much more loud, feisty to boot! Tis whelp didn’t try to get out of his grasp, he didn’t cry or even squeak, just laying there and occasionally blinking. He was obviously a runt and with how inactive he was, he might not even make the night.

“My lord… shall I bring the whelp where the other younglings are or?” – the caretaker that had brought his son to him spoke.

Gunmar was about to answer when he felt something and looked down.

In his hand, the runt, no his son, was biting him or at least trying to. The whelp barely managed to put the tip of his claw between his jaws but the little thing looked determined, for something that had barely been moving until now.

“Let him have something to eat, he looks hungry.”

“Yes, my lord!” the caretaker bowed “Would you be naming him?”

“I will name him, if he survives that is.” Gunmar took his blade as the whelp was carried away “Take your weapons. We are going hunting.”

His army followed him, towards a nearby village.

…………………

Contrary to expectations, the whelp had survived and not only that but was gaining more strength as time went on. Yes, he was still smaller than the others but was no longer in danger of keeling over suddenly.

Gunmar was pleased, another proof of his blood’s tenacity. He felt something scratching his leg and he picked the ‘offender’ up by the scruff. The fist time the whelp had went for his legs, everyone had been surprised, but the Overlord humored the little thing and had taken to lifting him up like a sack.

“Father!” Bular came over “We have sighted enemy trolls scouting the area under the mountain-“

The whelp whined and tried to swing his little clawed limbs at Bular but the tight hold on his scruff made the action meaningless.

“Little brother.” he acknowledged his sibling “Father what shall we do?”

“Sunrise will come soon, put guards on any places where a troll may manage to hide from the sun and attack us, let the generals know and tell them to prepare for attack as soon as the sun sets again. Those fools won’t risk any of their warriors to get sun-stained.” Gunmar then looked at his youngest “As for you… I think it is a time to name you.”

“Really, father?! You are naming him at last?”

“Yes. Seeing as he has survived until now. Hm… Garmoth? No, the name isn’t right…”

“What about Denral? It sounds like a good name.” – Bular suggested.

“No, sounds a bit too similar to someone for my liking… Jatar! Your name shall be Jatar.” – Gunmar decided.

“Jatar… It sounds like a fine name fit for a warrior!” – Bular poked the whelp gently with one claw and the just-named Jatar latched onto the digit.

……………………

“Bular?! Where is Bular?!! Where is Jatar?!” – Gunmar shouted as he bushed a Gumm-Gumm off himself.

He and his army had been sucked through Killahead and found the exit sealed. He looked around but could find no trace of either of his sons. He knew Bular would be fine, he was a fierce and strong warrior that could take on several opponents and come out victorious, he had even felled a few Trollhunters before but Jatar… He was still a whelp, he could easily be captured and crushed even by the average adult troll.

When he finally received news from the outside, with no one managing to find his youngest… he had to accept that maybe his son’s life had been snuffed out by the cowards of Trollmarket.

No matter how cruel he could be, he would never intentionally hurt, not to mention kill a whelp not even 2 centuries old.

=end=

 

‘No… It can’t be!’ Gunmar dropped the rock he was about to smash into pieces ‘Could it really be him? Could it be Jatar? He might be alive-‘ -his fist clenched tightly, claws almost painfully pressing into his palm.

===Somewhere else===

“So… what do you say? I can pay you in around 5 pairs of sweaty socks by tomorrow, can give you more if you can wait a bit.” – Toby offered.

“Nuh-uh! I am NOT going back there ever again, not even if you offer me all the socks in the world.” – NotEnrique adamantly refused.

“Come on, dude! We even helped you when they sent the goblins after you.”

“You don’t get it, do ya?” NotEnrique stood up and pointed at Toby’s face “If I go back there, I’m gonna be dead stone, squashed and grinded into dust!”

“Can’t you, like, just sneak in and out? You have been there before.” – Jim offered.

“An ya are the Big Bad’s kid. Can’t ya ask yer father to send the baby back if ya want it so badly?” – the changeling turned to Jim.

Jim growled and muttered something under his breath. They were in Toby’s room and it was more than enough to have AARRRGH and Blinky in to be crowded, so Jim stayed in his human form.

“YOU-!” – Blinky began.

“Now, now! No need to be fighting here. Let’s focus on something else until we can decide what to do. So! When am I getting a super cool weapon?” Toby asked excitedly “I want something cool, like Jim’s sword but like a giant hammer!”

“Hwa!” – suddenly Chompski jumped out of the dollhouse and climbed on top of the desk.

“Chompski? What is it?” – Toby asked.

The gnome chittered, stomped with his foot while pointing at them, then he pointed at the fetch laying on the desk.

“Chompski… are you saying you are willing to go to the Darklands?”

“Doah!” – he saluted.

“Are you sure? It is dangerous.?” – Jim asked the gnome seriously.

Their eyes met and Chompski nodded with determination.

===Somewhere else===

The 3 changelings walked thorough the dark corridors of the pyramid, careful not to activate any trap that may have been set to keep intruders out.

Soon they reached a set of huge stone doors, thick vines entwined over them, as if to seal them even tighter.

“This is it.” – Otto said quietly.

They meticulously cut the vines until there were none left to block the gate. The woman then approached to doors and looked them over – they were covered in ancient letters.

“Let’s see…” she squinted “The mechanism should be… here!” – she approached a section of the wall and pressed several bricks.

The room shook a bit and a few spikes emerged from the ceiling and walls.

“Hey! I thought you were an expert!” – the man shouted.

“I AM! It was either that or the roof collapsing on top of us. Which one do you prefer?” – she smirked.

“Can we enter now?” – Otto asked impatiently.

“Of course, go ahead!” – she cave way to him.

Otto pushed the doors and with a loud scraping sound they opened to a seemingly empty room. They walked in, all on edge as they knew who may jump at them from the shadows.

“Angor Rot! We have come to speak with you!”

“And why shouldn’t I just kill you?” – the voice on their left made them jump.

From the shadows emerged a still chained Angor Rot, holding a makeshift dagger mage from a sharpened rock.

“Oh, because I think we have a deal you can not afford to refuse.” – Otto removed one glove from his hand and Angor gasped.

The Inferna Copula glowed on Otto’s finger.

“You-“ – Angor growled.

“Now, no need to be aggressive, hear me out.” Otto put his hands up “My proposition is simple – we release you and you come and help us get rid of the new Trollhunter and after it is over, I’ll give you this back.” – Otto pointed at the ring.

“You must be really desperate, seeking my help. This doesn’t sound very appealing.” – Angor’s eyes never left the ring, despite what he said.

Otto noticed and slightly smirked.

“Oh! But there in fact IS another bonus for you! You see, the new Trollhunter is also Gunmar’s youngest spawn, apparently. You may have not defeated Gunmar himself but killing his son sounds appealing, no?”

Angor turned around, a bit shocked but quickly glared at the polymorph.

“I was left with the impression you worked with Gunmar. Won’t he be mad if he finds out you set his spawn’s death up?”

“Oh, nein! He won’t know what he doesn’t need to know. We serve only our lady and he is just a slightly more important pawn in her excellency’s plan. Once we free her, he won’t be important anymore.” Otto waved dismissively “So, what do you say? Do we have a deal?” – he stretched his hand towards the assassin.

Angor Rot looked at the offered limb in thought, then he grinned viciously.

“You have a deal, impure.” He grabbed the hand “But if you trick me… I will kill you the first chance I get and it’ll be in the most painful way I know.”

Chapter Text

(AN: I AM making some changes to how things are and how they work. First, it made more sense to me, second, it is cooler and makes things more interesting. Yeah, I know how things were in the show, I know it is not correct but come on, it is an AU after all! Let’s have some fun!)

The crickets chirped- it was a peaceful night for once. It was already dark but Jim and Toby were leisurely walking towards their hopes.

“Did you see me back in the forge? I was like – whoosh, pow-PA, smash!” – Toby animatedly swung his arms around.

“Yeah, I was there, remember?” -Jim humored his friend.

“I was totally awesome! I can’t wait to get an ACTUAL Warhammer! Just think about it! I will be like Thor or someone else with a cool hammer!”

“You sure will. Maybe you can even fly like the god of thunder.”

“Gasp! Jimbo, you are a GENIUS!! I have to ask Blinky if they have magical warhammers that can fly!”

“Toby, I was kiddi-Toby!” – Toby had already ran forward, leaving Jim in the dust.

Jim ran after his friend but didn’t hurry to catch up to him. They were both enjoying some training sessions and the calm of the past few days. It seemed as if trouble was attracted to Arcadia, for example- a few days ago Toby bought a few magic stones and accidentally released a small dragon, fire lion and a few Cornish flying slugs in town, they were still looking for one of said slugs, but it wasn’t urgent. They knew it was somewhere in Trollmarket, just not where exactly.

===Outskirts of town===

The breeze rustled the crowns of trees as two figures overlooked the town. Angor Rot and Otto were standing on one of the hills surrounding Arcadia.

“So, this is where that wretched spawn of Gunmar is?” – Angor glared at the lights below, as if trying to find and kill his target with his gaze.

“Oh, yes. He currently lives here.” Otto pulled out a notepad from his coat “Going by the name Jim Lake, studies in Arcadia Oaks High. His home-“

Angor lifted his arm, silencing Otto.

“That’s enough. The hunt won’t be fun if you tell me everything about my target. I will take action from here.” – he jumped over the rail and disappeared into the woods.

After a while Otto put back his notepad and entered his car.

“Insufferable fool…” – Otto muttered darkly as he drove off.

===Later===

It was storming, thunder split the sky, rain fell in buckets. I huddled in a corner away from the scary noise- the gods of thunder and rain must be really angry with each other to fight so fiercely…

*flash* BOOOOOOOOM! Creak~ pop, pop…snap! Crash!

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” – I scream like my life depends on it and press into the wall so hard, trying to fuse with it if it would get me away from the outside.

A lightning had just struck one of the tall pines, just outside the cave entrance. The boom shook the ground, splinters and bits of dirt flew in the air as the tree was split in half and fell, its smoking insides quickly soaked by the rain, stopping the beginning of a fire in its tracks. Never before had I seen such a vicious storm before. Such strong winds, enough to rip a tree from the ground – I am scared.

“Father… Brother…” – I cry in my corner.

This new place is scary! I am all alone and no one will come to help. I left them, I left them all and came to this new place, this new world alone… At this moment, I wish I hadn’t.

Flash! BOOOOOOM!

Another lightning strikes but… this is different. Why is it green? Something isn’t right!

I try to lean back and blend with the wall even more but instead of it, I feel nothing and find myself falling.

“Waaah!”

I close my eyes, tears forming at the corner of my eyes as I prepare to fall to my death. Instead, a large, rough hand roughly grabs me by the scruff. I cry out in pain and struggle but its grip is relentless and in slowly wraps around my neck, squeezing…

“You end will not be so merciful” the deep, scary voice from behind me says and I freeze “I will enjoy this hunt thoroughly… spawn of Gunmar.”

A chill runs through my whole body, then a sharp pain, I look down, only to see a blade through my chest.

==

“AAAAAAAARGH!”

Bang! Crash!

Jim pants and his eyes are wide open. He tries to look around but can’t turn his head, panic courses through him and he forces his head to move.

Scriiiiitch~!

Jim looks up and yes, that’s why, his horns are stuck in the ceiling. He takes a hew deep breaths and slowly eases himself down, no longer standing on the tips of his toes. His horn tips easily come out and he kneels on his pile of mattresses, his claws gently curling and uncurling in the soft material as he tried to calm himself a bit.

Rushed steps sounded through the hall, coming closer and his door flew open.

“JIM-“

Without thinking, he leaned down into a threatening pose, claws curled and ready to strike and a deep threatening growl escaped from the depths of his chest.

Barbara stood there, frozen, she had never seen Jim act so aggressively or look so threatening before- she didn’t know what to do.

Slowly the growling stopped and his eyes widened in realization.

“M-mom? I-I… sorry, didn’t mean to scare you like that.“ – he eased himself into a sitting position, wincing when he saw the hopes in his covers.

“It’s alright.” Barbara sat next to him “What happened? I heard a loud noise and you shouting, so I came as fast as I could.”

“It was no-“ one look from her and he stopped what he was about to say “I had… a nightmare, about when I first came to America.”

“You had a nightmare about that?”

“Yeah, I don’t or at least didn’t have bad dreams about it for the past 3 centuries or so, well apparently now I do, again!”

“What happened, back then I mean, to give you nightmares?” – she was concerned and placed her hand on top of his.

“Heh, I just had bad luck. Not even a week here and a hurricane comes and hits the coast! I was in the mountains back then and didn’t get any floods, but it was scary. We didn’t get such things back home.” he laughed a bit flatly “But this time… It was different, there was a green flash of lightning and I was falling… then someone-“

He clamped up and looked very conflicted. Barbara just sat next to him and gently squeezed one of his fingers, since she couldn’t hold his entire palm.

“S-someone grabbed me from behind, squeezing my throat and then… I had a blade through my chest.”

“Oh, Jim, honey…”

“I-I don’t know what that was but… there’s this, lump, I guess.” he touched his chest “I just… can’t seem to shake this feeling off and I tried!”

===With Claire===

It was time for breakfast and Claire was ready to head down when her mother called for her.

“Claire! Can you please wake your brother up and bring him down for breakfast?”

“Fiiiiiiiiiiine!” – she answered and groaned at the same time.

“I don’t want to hear this tone from you, young lady!”

“Mememe…”Claire whispered as she dragged her feet down the corridor “If only she knew…”

She opened the door a bit roughly but not loud enough to alert her parents.

“Rise and shine, you gremlin! I know you are not really sleeping.”

The ‘sleeping’ baby’s eyes opened and it transformed back into a changeling.

“Oh, heya sis. Nice seeing your sour face so early in the morning.” – he said jokingly.

“Shut your mouth. It’s not like I want to be here-“

“I would be glad to throw you out the window- bla, bla bla… I know already! You better think of a new repertoire, this is getting kinda old. While we’re at it, might ya sneak me a few sock from the washing bin?” – NotEnrique licked his lips.

“Uh, how about NO.”

“Oh, fine!” – he turned back into a baby and she brought him down for breakfast.

…………………….

At school Claire could at least let her foul mood be known. She glared at Jim and Toby whenever they were in her field of vision. She couldn’t do anything and that frustrated her. He stomped towards her classroom when she heard a familiar voice.

“…we going to Trollmarket tonight? I can’t wait to try out the warhammer Blinky said he found for me!”

“Shh… not so loud Tobes, someone might hear!”

“Alright. So tonight, after school…”

Claire hid behind a corner and strained to listen to their whole conversation but they started whispering and moved away.

Unknown to them and all other students coming to school, there was a set of glowing eyes, watching them closely from the shadows of the trees.

==

Jim just couldn’t get rid of the uncomfortable feeling in his gut. He was all jittery and could barely stand sitting at his desk thorough the first 3 periods. The first sign that something was wrong wasn’t that obvious.

“Aliens! Monsters! They are coming!” – Eli shouted.

“Shut it, Pepperjack!” – Steve shoved the boy in a locker and closed the door.

Strange, Eli didn’t usually shout like that. Then, a student was kissing Ms. Janeth’s hand.

“Aaaah! I look hideous!” – Mary ran out from the girls’ restroom while screaming.

“Jim-“

“Yeah, something is seriously wrong here. Be careful.”

……………………………

The whole school was overtaken by madness. Claire didn’t know what to do, people weren’t acting like themselves, some were even raving about the end of the world! She didn’t know what to do or where to go, so in all this chaos wasn’t a surprise she didn’t notice a small glowing ball heading straight for her.

“Googyah!”

Her head quickly turned to the left, to see the hall empty, except there, at the end of it sat Enrique.

“Enrique!!” – she ran towards him, but her brother turned around and crawled down the hall.

…………………………..

Jim and Toby were looking for the source of this problem. Even with his extensive knowledge, Jim didn’t know what exactly caused this chaos- there were a number of things, including someone slipping something into the cafeteria food or leak of gas (although unlikely).

Bzzzt!

Something small and glowing whizzed by and Jim instinctively caught it.

“A pixie! Someone is trying to attack the school! There’s no way so many pixies could come to one place at the same time!”

“Jimbo! Look!” – Toby pointed to the window in panic.

From where they stood, Jim could clearly see the dirt in the football fiend rise and a golem appear.

“Toby, I need you to make sure no one gets close to the football field or the golem, It will be dangerous. If they try to do so, just hit them on the head, that’ll make the pixie come out.”

“On it!”

Jim opened the window and jumped out of it, activating his armor and summoning his sword. The golem swung its arm towards him, trying to smash him, but he was quicker and rolled away from the strike. He quickly sprung forward and cut its arm off. All golems had a core in their center- he had to destroy it to stop the beast.

It moved its other hand, trying to grab him, hut he cut that off too. The dirt started to ripple and slowly form new arms. Jim needed to act quick. He used the above-average strength he had in his human disguise and the flat side of the blade to throw away the dirt from the golem’s chest while it was trying to regenerate. Finally, he saw a glimpse of the core and quickly stabbed it. The golem abruptly stopped as the core fractured and caused a small explosion, small pebbles and dirt hit Jim’s face and he rubbed his eyes.

“Gah! I might have to get goggles at this rate!”

He didn’t notice the figure in the shadows, quietly slipping away.

‘Hmm… I may need some more drastic measures to make Gunmar’s spawn show its true strength.’ – Angor though and called back the pixies from the school.

Jim looked around, seeing the overturned dirt and the damage to the football field, he quickly distanced himself from it.

===Later that day===

Claire sat on her bed, deep in though. She didn’t know what that was in school, but she was certain it was NOT a gas leak. She had seen her brother and felt helpless, always unable to reach him. Her heart clenched – looking back at it, she should have realized he brother couldn’t crawl on walls.

‘But it felt so real…’

Then, she remembered the conversation she overheard. Although she still didn’t want to talk to Jim, unless it was about saving her brother, she just could no longer sit and wait. She had to do something!

She pocketed her phone and walked out of her room.

“Hey, where are ya goin?” NotEnrique called from the baby room “Hey!” – he jumped out of the crib and followed her when she didn’t answer.

Claire ignored him as he donned her jacket.

“Oi, aren’t ya supposed to be lookin after me? The parents left for a dinner and left ya in charge.”

“You can take care of yourself, can’t you? I am going out.”

He tied her shoes and swiftly went out the door. NotEnrique stood there, a bit shocked. He bit his lip and after a while, he also snuck out of a window, closely following her. Where exactly was she going?

He followed her discreetly from the shadows and watched as she made her way down the main road before deciding to take a shortcut through the park.

‘Oh, sis, don’t ya know ya never take shortcuts like that at night?’ – he mused but continued after her.

There was a faint rustling of leaves, but there was no wind tonight- the changeling stopped in his tracks. He looked up and in the branches of a tree, he saw it- a tall figure, definitely a troll. It was looking at Claire with its glowing yellow eyes following Claire. It suddenly leaped and landed with a thud behind Claire. Before the girl could turn around or even scream, a stony arm caught her in its grasp and muffled her attempt to scream for help.

“Yes, you should do. Maybe this way I’d be able to draw that wretched spawn’s true power out.” – Angor Muttered to himself.

Angor did something and Claire quickly went limp in his grasp. Without thinking, NotEnrique leaped and latched onto the assassin’s leg.

“What do you think you are doing, impure?” – Angor growled.

“What are ya thinkin?” NotEnrique faked confidence, despite cursing himself for acting like that “Attacking random humans and all that?”

“For your information, I have been given permission to use whatever I find fit to kill the spawn of Gunmar, so don’t try to get in my way.” Angor kicked NotEnrique off “Next time I won’t be so nice.”

NotEnrique laid there by the trunk of a tree, curled and rubbing himself with one hand. Angor swung Claire over his shoulder and walked away, disappearing into the park.

NotEnrique stood up and shook himself – this was not good! He looked down, the piece of bandage he had managed to tear off was still in his hand and it didn’t seem like Angor had noticed it.

The changeling took off, heading for the only place he knew he may find help.

………………………..

Jim, Toby, AARRRGH and Blinky were gathered in Toby’s room, discussing the attack on Arcadia Oaks high that happened earlier.

“It doesn’t make sense! Who would attack the school?”- Jim rubbed his head.

“Changelings?”- AARRRGH rumbled.

“You think the changelings are responsible? They hadn’t caused any trouble, why start now?” – Toby pointed out.

“I have to agree with Tobias. This attack was too obvious and open to be their work. Still, the question remains why? What might be their purpose?” – Blinky passed.

Knock, knock!

Something tapped the window. All heads turned to see the small changeling hanging on the windowsill and impatiently knocking. Jim hopped off the bed and opened it.

“Finally! Do ya know how slow ya are!”

“What are you doing here, NotEnrique?” – Toby asked with a scowl.

“Ah, right! The girl is in danger!”

“Claire, but why- What did you do?” – Jim stared at him.

“Hey, I didn’t do anythin! She snuck out ta do somethin and I followed her! Then, at the park, she got kidnapped! I tried ta do somethin but the guy is bad news. Tall, dusty and scary, had a bone ta pick with ya? Ring any bells?” – he pointed at Jim.

“No? I don’t think I have seen such a troll.”

“Well, he said somethin about ‘drawing out Gunmar’s spawn’. He disappeared, but I got this!” NotEnrique lifted the piece of bandage up “Figured yer big friend might track im or somethin.” – he handed the bandage to Jim.

“AARRRGH, can you try and track the scent? If Claire really is in danger because of me, I have to try and save her!”

AARRRGH came closer and sniffed the piece of cloth. He turned around and sneezed.

“Well?”

“Dusty, a bit like sand, but strong. Can track.” – AARRRGH answered.

“Good. Bring us to the place where it happened. We’ll go from there.”

======

Claire woke up slowly. She tried to move but found herself bound.

‘Great, again!’

She looked around and found herself in a forest clearing. She was tied to a tree and in front of her was a tall and scary-looking troll. He was walking around the clearing, occasionally stopping to place something on the ground. She tried to slip her hands out of the rope but it was too tight to do so.

“Don’t try to struggle it’s futile.” – the troll’s rough voice sent chills down her spine.

“Why did you capture me? I can’t do nothing for you and I doubt a troll would want ransom.”

“You are just the means to reach my goal, girl. I will draw out Gunmar’s spawn with you, the threat to your life should be enough to make it reveal its true strength, before I kill it.”

“Spawn of Gunmar? I don’t know who you are talking about! Let me go!”

“Shut up, fleshbag! The sleeping charm may have worn out earlier than anticipated but that doesn’t mean I can’t silence you again!” – Angor roared and she flinched.

The trolls she had seen until now were a bit scary, but none were as aggressive or terrifying like the one currently holding her hostage for some reason.

Angor Rot finished whatever he was doing and was about to head somewhere but stopped in his tracks and turned to face the trees on his right.

“So, you came. A bit sooner than expected, but it doesn’t matter. I get my message reached you?”

“Oh, great Gronka morka! It’s Angor Rot!” – Blinky whispered but Angor heard it and smiled viciously.

“Why did you kidnap her? Let her go! She has nothing to do with this!” – Jim stepped forward, his sword and armor already on. Blinky, Toby and AARRRGH stood a bit behind him.

“I see you have brought help, Trollhunter.” Angor said the word mockingly “Aren’t you supposed to work alone? Not that I expected a scum like you to do anything different, not that it’ll help you.” – he quickly bulled out the Shadow staff and swung it.

Jim was quick enough to dodge it and shout in warning, but the others weren’t so lucky. Toby, AARRRGH and Blinky were teleported to three different spots on the clearing, all away from Jim, Angor or Claire. The earth rose and two golems made from dirt and rock emerged. Toby pulled out his new hammer and it unfolded, the boy staggering a bit as the sudden change of his center of gravity. One of the golems headed towards him.

“Wingman!” -AARRRGH shouted and tried to go and help, but had to stop as a fist came his way.

“AARRRGH! I will help young Tobias, you deal with your golem first! Destroy its core in the center, otherwise it’ll get back up!” – Blinky shouted instructions as he circled around to get to Toby.

He was halfway there when something yanked his feet and he was hanging upside-down.

“Curses! A snare!” – he kicked his legs and tried to free himself.

Angor Rot laughed, pulling out a dagger.

“Now it’s just you and me, wretched spawn. Show me your true power! Cast away this pathetic guise and entertain me as I slowly kill you!”

Seeing as Jim was cautious of the obviously boobytrapped clearing and not planning to move in, Angor rushed towards him, blade ready to kill. Jim braced himself and parried. The assassin struck a few more times but Jim blocked each hit and pushed back. He had more strength behind his hits than Angor expected. He stepped back and tried again.

“What? Not going to attack, only defend? This is a fool’s tactic!”

“Like I would risk stepping into a place full of traps just because you are baiting me!” – Jim was very careful where he stepped.

“Maybe I should raise the stakes a bit? Daylight is mine to command!”

Suddenly, something strange happens. The sword in his hands starts to shake, then flies off and into Angor’s free hand.

“What?!” – Jim is shocked.

“I have killed and taken the souls of many previous Trollhunters! Did you think you are the only one that can wield the sword?! Now you are weaponless! Come at me with EVERYTHING you have! Show me your true power, spawn of Gunmar!”

Jim grit his teeth and growled. He didn’t expect something like that to happen- he really didn’t want to show his trump cards so soon, but now he was forced to.

………………………………….

Toby swung his hammer and another clump of dirt flew away from the golem, but it attacked and he was unable to locate its core again. The golem was restoring himself, so he made almost no progress and he was getting tired.

Thunk!

Something sored through the air and hit the golem in the head. The beast turned to look at the new assailant. Blinky has managed to get down but some rope was still tangled around his legs. He had thrown a piece of wood at the golem just now.

“Ha! Not bad for a historian!” the golem headed towards him “Now Tobias!”

Toby’s eyes widened and he got an idea. He took a breath, braced himself and charged while starting to swing. The momentum caused him to spin like a windmill but the move did what it was meant to. Dirt and rock flew in the air, the golem’s core was also sent flying. The pile of dirt promptly collapsed and Toby fell on his butt.

“Ugh… I am going to hurl-“

“Well done, young Tobias!” – Blinky finally kicked the rope away from himself.

With some quick thinking, the historian took a nearby rock and hurried. He located the fallen golem core just as it was trying to get back into the dirt. He pulled it up and with one swift motion, brought the rock down, shattering it.

“Are you alright?” – Blinky asked the still somewhat dizzy boy.

“I am fine…” Toby blurted out “Let’s go and help Wingman!”

“Just be careful where you step, there might me more sinister traps scattered around here.”

………………………………..

Claire watched as the scene unfolded in front of her. Who was the dusty troll and why did he hate Jim so much? Why did he call Jim the spawn of Gunmar?

“Psst!”

She looked around but saw nothing.

“Down here.”

Claire looked down and saw NotEnrique hiding in a nearby bush.

“Keep quiet and don’t move, will ya? I can’t be seen helpin ya. I am outta here once I untie ya, after that, wait a bit and sneak away as fast as ya can, got it?”

She kept her mouth shut and gave a small nod before focusing her sight forward. There was some light scratching but the could slowly feel the rope holding her loosen up.

“Done.” – NotEnrique said quietly and scampered off in the woods.

She did as he told her and waited until she was sure no one was paying her any attention. Claire slipped out of the ropes and stealthily went into the forest, heading straight to her home. It was the most secure place she could currently think of.

…………………………….

“That’s where you are wrong.” – Jim knew there was no going around it anymore.

He took out his two daggers, feeling a bit big and strange in his currently human hands, but much better than the sword. Jim advanced forward.

The assassin grinned viciously and brandished Daylight, further mocking Jim for losing the sword.

“That’s it! But it is not enough, Trollhunter.”

Their weapons clashed, sparks flew in the air, the sound of metal scraping on metal grating on the ears. Jim was much nimbler with the daggers and actually seemed to match Angor in the speed of his strikes, flicking the attacker’s blade away instead of parrying in the last second. Angor took a leap back and Jim frowned. The leap seemed purposeful and was probably going to lead him into a trap-

Flash! A circle of light surrounded Jim and he was frozen.

“Hahahaha!” Angor Rot laughed “Your preparedness for my traps has become the reason for your downfall. If you had charged after me, you would have escaped before the spell activated.”

Angor confidently approached the now paralyzed Trollhunter.

“Now, let’s see what really hides under that glamor of yours.” he stretched his hand towards Jim and started chanting “Char Sha Mulagrot Revlavlis Torka Makhh.” – runes appeared in the air and Jim felt his human disguise fall apart and soon he was in his real form, still trapped.

“Grrr…” – he growled again, this time the sound much deeper.

“The spawn of Gunmar, finally showing your true face…” Angor circled him “You look much more like Gunmar than his elder spawn did. I would enjoy this thoroughly… Usually, I would mark my target and let it try to run and save itself, no matter how futile it is, their struggle would amuse me, but not with you. No, no. I will not let you off. My people suffered because of your sire, I offered myself and lost my soul because of him! The coldness, the emptiness I felt every day… I will make you suffer! I will make you writhe as I take everything from you, before I slowly kill you. I may cut you to pieces… or leave you here without your protection to get sunstained to death… So many possibilities.”

Angor Rot gloated as he watched Jim try and struggle but there was no escaping his trap.

“I don’t need the girl anymore. Since you came to save her, that means you do care about her wellbeing. Why don’t we start with her?!” – he pulled out his dagger and turned around only to see that Claire was gone.

Jim tried to smirk but couldn’t move. Their plan had at least partially succeeded. They had left NotEnrique back and instructed him to hide and untie Claire while Angor was not looking- too bad their other plan hadn’t worked.

“NO! You will pay for this!” – he shouted at Jim.

“Jimbo!” – Toby shouted.

He, Blinky and AARRRGH had just managed to deal with the last golem and were coming to help. Jim struggled to tell them to be careful and stay back but it was futile. Angor made a gesture with his free hand and chanted a few verses. From the ground sprung vines and they quickly wrapped around the three of them. AARRRGH managed to tear a few and take a few more steps but they were too many and they were completely immobilized.

“NNNNNNNNRH!” – Jim tried to shout.

“Now… from which one should I start first?” Angor approached them and inspected his glowing, green dagger “This one, the big one or…” he looked Jim in the eyes, his grin feral and insane “I wonder how Creeper’s Sun would react to a human body? Will it turn to stone, will it just bleed, rot away…?”

The assassin slowly approached Toby.

“Wingman!” – AARRRGH roared and struggled more.

“You cur!” – Blinky spat.

Toby was frozen in his spot, watching the glowing dagger come closer.

=

Screaming, shouting… trolls begging for mercy. The cruel laughter- A cold hand seemed to squeeze young Jatar’s heart. Pure terror, horrified at the sight. He didn’t want this! He didn’t want THIS!

=

Blue sparked all over his body, his eyes glowing a bright blue in the night. Jim’s form shook, the light of the trap flickered, his fingers slowly started to curl. Magic crackled through the air, drawing the attention of all present.

Booooooooom!

The gathered magic quickly surged and exploded, destroying Angor’s trap and freeing him. Dirt and burnt grass flying through the air and Jim now stood in the middle of a circular hole. He grunted and huffed, his breath forming white puffs despite the relatively warm weather.

The Trollhunter armor was smoking, several burned spots ran over its surface. The amulet’s light flickered like crazy and it seemed ready to fall off at any time.

GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!” – with a primal roar that shook the bones of all that were present, Jim leaped towards Angor.

He was acting purely on instinct, attacking the enemy that was threatening him, sparks of blue danced over his clawed arms. Angor felt a chill and barely managed to leap out of the way before the enraged Trollhunter struck.

Pow! Booom!

Where Jim hit now stood a smoking hole. Angor grit his teeth and threw his dagger, aiming for the unprotected head of the Trollhunter – once hit there and it’ll be over!

Jim turned and roared at Angor again, charging right into the assassin’s attack, but instead of hitting him, Jim somehow managed to grab the poisonous dagger with his hand. Angor’s eyes widened as the specially forged dagger and poison seemed to darken, burned into nothingness by the vicious magic. Jim continued his charge without even stopping. Angor lifted Daylight to protect himself as he reached with his now free hand towards the Shadow staff.

Unstoppable force hit the sword, knocking the air out of the Assassin and he almost dropped the sword. Sparks flew as Jim’s second hand came down on the sword. The blade of Daylight was supposed to have the power of the sun, turning any troll pierced by it into stone, even touching the blade itself was enough to start turning said part into stone, but that’s not what happened. The two magics clashed neither Jim’s arms were turning to stone, nor was the blade burned by his berserk magic.

In a bout of slight fear, Angor managed to open a portal behind himself and pushed Jim to the side. The assassin leaped into the portal, Jim’s claws not far behind him. A searing pain spread up Angor Rot’s right arm, causing him to drop Daylight, the portal closing the moment after.

Angor was spat out of the shadow portal somewhere in the wilderness, falling with a splash in an undignified pile in a muddy puddle. He shakily stood up and looked at his arm to assess the damage. His right arm hung limply from the elbow down, there were some burned traces of four claws, but maybe a third or even half of his forearm was gone. If he had been hit directly by that attack-

“Gh! Damned scum. Hope he mauls his companions in his rage…” he muttered darkly “Next time we meet, I will end you. Mark my words- I will be the one to slay you!” – Angor roared into the vast night sky.

………………………………..

Jim roared one more time before he collapsed onto the grass. The crackling blue had disappeared from his body and the amulet finally deactivated and fell with a dull thud. Jim was panting and breathing heavily. He couldn’t move his body and his mind swam, feeling weak and frail- one of the signs of magic exhaustion. He only managed to look at his friends’ direction, sighing in relief before slumping down and falling unconscious.

“Um… OK. Waow, that was… WOW!” Toby chattered “So, what are we doing now? Maybe we should have called Draal or told someone else where we’re going. Are we going to wait until Jim wakes up to free us because… I think he might be out for a long while.”

“Well, this is quite the predicament.” Blinky wiggled in his bounds and swung from left to right “Well, it seems we’re left with only one option- to free ourselves!”

“Blinky?” - AARRRGH tried to turn his head and look at his friend, only partially succeeding.

“Trust me, AARRRGH and don’t move! I only have one shot at this.”

“Ok…” – the giant gulped.

“Ah, may you lean a bit to the right my friend, just a little more-STOP! That’s good. Remember, do not move.”

Toby watched, wondering what idea had crossed the mind of the historian. Blinky’s six eyes narrowed and he leaned forward, The vines restricting him but not enough, his forehead thumped against AARRRGH’s back and… he started to furiously chew whatever vine was closest ho him.

“We ave t chu oue ay ot!” – he said while chewing through one particularly thick vine.

===With Claire==

She somehow managed to reach her house but then heard a familiar car approaching.

‘Oh, no! They are coming back!’ – she hid in the backyard.

“Hey! Over here!” -NotEnrique waved from the second-floor window and let down a makeshift rope made from towels, clothes and bed covers.

She grabbed it and pulled herself up. She barely managed to get herself in when she heard her parents come up the steps.

Claire quickly took off her shoes and sat on the windowsill, hiding the rope tied there. NotEnrique jumped in her arms as he transformed. The door opened at that moment.

“Claire! What are you doing up so late?” – her mother asked.

“Um… you see… Enrique he- he couldn’t sleep and woke up, so I came here to try and calm hem and… as you see.” – she gently lifted the changeling, now pretending to be asleep.

“Oh, I see. It’s so sweet of you. I can get him now, you go to sleep, you have school tomorrow.”

“Um, no I- he just fell asleep and I think that’ll wake him up. You go to bed. I will put him in his crib in a while.”

“Alright. Buenas noches.”

“Buenas noches mama.”

Ophelia closed the door with a wave and headed towards her bedroom.

‘Phew! That was close!’ – Claire though as she breathed a sigh of relief.

NotEnrique opened one eye, then transformed back and hopped out of her arms. Claire gathered the makeshift rope and hid it behind a drawer- she was going to deal with it tomorrow. She took her dirty shoes and was about to open the door but stopped.

“Hey.” She turned back to look at the changeling, now sitting in the crib and looking at her “Thanks, for coming with Jim and the others to help me.”

“Feh, it was nothin. It’s not like I did someth-“

“You told them I was gone, right? No one else but you knew I went out. Thanks…”

“Oh, stop bein all soft and sappy. Also, don’t expect me ta help ya next time ya do somethin this dumb.”

“Hehe…Ok.” she sniffled but held back the tears for her room “Good night, NotEnrique.” – she went out and carefully closed the door.

“Night…” – NotEnrique said to the empty room.