”Yer says, we should go an’ get der witch dat lifs down dere?” Elidor asked.
The three men were standing at the shore of the lake, making sure that they had understood each other.
”Yes, my good man, down there!”
”An’ den we gets ter beat `er up til she tells us where der trolls are?”
”But me, I don’ beats up women!”
”She’s a witch, Elidor! A witch!”
”Just beat her up a little, then! That should be alright, shouldn’t it?”
”Good! Now get going!”
Elidor walked into the water. Pierce followed. The water was cold and muddy. They could breathe and talk. None of them seemed surprised. Pierce looked around.
”Whaddayer see, boy?” Elidor asked and stopped. Pierce nailed him with a silent stare. ”I means, d’yer see der witch yet?”
Pierce said nothing and walked on.
”Dis is boring!” Elidor said. ”There’s nuffin’ here! No’ even fish! Me, I…”
”Oh, yer tark ter me again, do yer? S’about time! Whaddayasay, boy?”
Pierce said nothing.
”Dis is boring!” Elidor repeated. ”We’s supposed ter wark `round like dat til some’n happens or wha’?”
Elidor watched Pierce. The young boy did not even take notice of him but rather seemed to focus his eyes on a certain point in the water.
”D’yer see anyfing dere?” he asked again. Pierce did not react.
”Don’ ssh! me all der time! Yer wanna say some’n, say it!”
”Ssh!” a voice whispered. ”Over here, stupid!”
”Wha’? Who?” Elidor fastened the grip around his hammer. ”D’yer hear dat, kid?”
Pierce still stood there staring.
”Oh,” an old-ladies’ voice sighed. ”let me tell you! You two are not the brightest ones I’ve ever met! I mean, yes, people tend to be stupid around me—well, I haven’t met very many clever people until now, let me put it like that, but you two…” The water twirled right in front of Pierce’s face. ”…why don’t you tell him, where I am, hm?”
Elidor’s head spun around and back and forth, trying to locate where the voice was coming from. Pierce stayed silent and motionless.
”This really is boring!” she said.
An odd-looking, womanly figure emerged slowly from the spot Pierce stared at and waved at Elidor.
”Hello!” the voice tweeted. ”Over here, gorgeous!”
Elidor’s head swung around.
”You der witch?”
”Well, yes! And you might be?”
”Elidor O’Caigh!” Elidor said.
”Oh, then…” she purred and hovered past Pierce towards Elidor. She pointed back. ”Who is that silent little tall darling, hm? He doesn’t talk, too much, does he?”
”What’s his name?”
”Right. I like to keep track, you know. Because, you see, a lot of men come here to get my booty—it’s not here anymore.”
She fiddled with her grey hair and blinked seducively. Then she added: ”The booty, I mean!”
She pinched Elidor’s arm.
”You’ve got a lot of muscle there!”
”Yep, always had, me!”
”Say, Elidor, do you think I’m pretty?”
”Nope, not really!” Elidor answered.
”Wrong answer!” she purred. Then she started singing. ”I am beautifuuuul, no matter what they…!”
”Oh, stop dat!” Elidor interrupted. ”Tell me where der trolls are!” he commanded. The witch’s face changed.
”What do you know about the trolls?”
”And why do you think I know where they are?”
”Der old bugger up dere says yer knows!”
”Which old bugger?”
”S’called Sabbernetious, I fink!”
”Yep, dat’s der ol’ bugger!”
”Saponaceous, ey! I see! How did he get out of that tree? Oh, save your breath! It doesn’t matter anyway! And now he sent you for the booty! Hm, looks just like him! Have other people doing the dirty work…and he told you about the trolls? Would give my right arm to know how he found out about the trolls! Well, whatever! He didn’t get my booty last time and he won’t get it this time!” She raised her spindle-thin arms and stared them down. ”Because…You Won’t Live To Tell Him Where The Trolls Are…um…Even If I Had Already Told You!”
Her nasty laughter boomed through the water, displacing little rocks and shaking the bigger ones. Neither Pierce nor Elidor moved.
”Come on, you two! You could at least be a little bit frightened!” she said.
”Lissen, ol’ lady!” Elidor answered. ”Me, I don’ wants ter beat yer up, so why don’ yer jus’ tell us where der trolls lif so’s we can get ter hell outta here!”
”I would not think so!” she sniffed.
It was Elidor ́s turn now to stare the witch down. He patted his hammer.
”Alrigh’, missy! I’m gonner say dis jus’ in case yer din’t get it der first time: Tell me where der trolls lif or I’m gonner beat yer up!”
”How much did he promise you?” the witch asked.
”Din’t promise us anyfing!”
”Don’t you want booty?”
”Er, then why do you want to find the trolls?”
”Dey stole der princess!”
”Stupid trolls and their traditions! You’re going to try to beat them up, hm?”
”Won’ try! Gonner do it!”
”I see!” she said. ”Saponaceous is clever! Hm…perhaps this might not be such a bad idea after all! You know what? You won! I will tell you where the trolls live! You don’t need to beat me up…er, please?”
”Good! `Cause me mom tol’ me no’ ter beat up women under any circumstancers!”