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Son ot 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! Want a short about it? Write in the comments!

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

“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!