There was a mountain. A big mountain. And there was a smile somewhere under Saponaceous’ hair.
”Brilliant!” Saponaceous rubbed his hands. ”So, what do you think you’re going to do with the trolls my good man?”
”Beat `em up!”
”Marvellous! Come on, let’s get inside!”
Elidor led them to a cavity on one side of the mountain. Saponaceous rejoiced.
”I’m amazed she even told you that!”
”Errybody’s nice ter me, yer know!”
”Yes, good, good! Let’s go!”
Saponaceous pushed Elidor and Pierce in front. There was a tunnel leading into the mountain, a huge tunnel, lit by a vast amount of giant torches.
”Now, would you look at that!”
He almost yelled the words into the vast room of the tunnel. Mighty echoes waved back from a long distance.
”Shuddup! Yer gonna get der trolls out!” Elidor whispered.
”I wouldn’t think so! Woooow!”
Elidor looked at him sideways.
”Well, alright, Elidor, yes I do get them out! But that is just so you can beat them up…like you said you would!”
”`Course I will!”
A deep rumble roared up from the inner mountain. It came closer fast.
”Ssh! You heard that?” Saponaceous ducked. Elidor and Pierce had already sidled into a crevice in the tunnel walls.
”Over here, ol’ man!” Elidor hushed.
Saponaceous reached the crevice the same moment as the earth started trembling and the noise got unbearably loud. The trolls came stampeding through the tunnel and roared past the crevice towards the entrance. As soon as the trolls were past Saponaceous sneaked out and ran to the inside. Pierce followed him, silently, while Elidor stepped out into the tunnel:
”Ey, where der trolls gone?” he asked.
Then he went back into the crevice. The trolls had stormed towards the cavity on the outside of the mountain. It took them a while to realize that there had been nobody standing in their way during their stampede. They went back inside. There were three trolls, more than so-much times as tall as Elidor and more than just-as-much times as broad. They all had clubs with them, carved out of small trees. They were disappointed
and started thinking.
”Yer fink, der roaring is a good idea?” one of them asked. ”Frightens people off before der fight!”
”Me, I dunno!” another one said. ”I’s always been r…”
The hammer blow caught him off-guard, and about knee-high. Before he, or the other trolls, understood what was happening Elidor had brought him down and started working on the second troll. Like a whirlwind the blacksmith hammered away on the next troll ́s knees and brought him down as well when the club of the third troll, the biggest of the three, came swinging down towards the blacksmith. Elidor stepped aside just in time to have the club hit the tunnel floor, leaving behind a hole that the first troll, who had stood up again tripped in and fell again. Elidor seized the chance while in the meantime, Saponaceous and Pierce had reached the big hall inside the mountain. The young princess stormed towards them:
”No, is it possible?” she rejoiced. ”You come to save me!”
”Where is the witch’s booty?” Saponaceous asked her.
”Where is the booty, girl!?”
”Er…there is some treasure at the end of this tunnel there, but…”
”Get lost!” Saponaceous shoved the princess away. Pierce caught her just before she fell.
”Don ́t worry!” he whispered. Then he followed the hairy man into the other tunnel.
Another hall was lit at the end of the tunnel. It was filled up to the rim with gold and diamonds and sparkled in the light of the torches.
”Now, would you believe that! If that isn’t good old Saponaceous!” an akwardly familiar voice purred. Pierce stayed in the twilight of the tunnel. He could see her. Saponaceous apparently could not.
”Oh, buggers!” Saponaceous said towards a heap of gold. ”Listen, it’s not what it looks like! It’s just that I happen to…”
That was the last Pierce heard of the hairy man. Within the blink of an eye he was gone. The only thing that told Pierce the witch had gone, too, was a humid breeze blowing by as he turned around to return to the big hall. The fighting had lead Elidor and the trolls further into the mountain.
‘How could Saponaceous ever think he could get ahold of the booty? You’d need an army to get all of that out of here! ́ he thought before the four fighters entered the great hall. Pierce looked for the princess. She was cowering in one corner, holding her hands over her face.
‘Good spot! ́ Pierce thought. With a little luck she’d be out of harm’s way there! He focused on the fight. The trolls had eventually pushed back Elidor who had all his hands full trying to escape the trolls’ blows. He ducked under a giant table and ran out the other side as one of the clubs racketed through the wood and cracked it open wide.
He managed to get the hammer through to the knee of the troll who had taken
the very first blow out in the tunnel. Pierce felt the troll’s scream trembling towards him through the big hall and running up and down his spine. He cowered and watched on in terrified fascination as the gigantic body fell into two chairs and cracked them as well. The fight went on. The other two trolls were chasing Elidor across the hall, away from Pierce, away from the princess. They pressed him to the wall. There was a moment of calmness as none of the fighters moved an inch.
”We gotcher, little man!” the bigger one of the trolls said.
”Yer sure?” Elidor asked back.
”Where d’yer wanna go now?”
Elidor yelled the soul out of his body as he charged. Hands behind his back, the hammer swirling over his head he went straight for the knees of the smaller troll. One blow and the giant cracked under his own weight. As soon as he hit the ground Elidor jumped on top of him, flipping off the bigger troll while doing so. The big troll swang his club and missed the ever moving Elidor by an inch…another deep and rumbling scream trembled through the big hall. Pierce shuddered as the smaller troll took the blow of his companion. The sheer power of the downcoming club, even though it just missed him, made Elidor tumble. He tripped in his attempt to get down from the troll’s body. For a fraction of a moment, he did not know where he was. And so came another scream
Pierce ran out into the great hall. His hands tried to reach his father but the distance to the other end of the room seemed to get bigger and bigger for him as the mighty club came down. Pierce could follow it inch by inch. He saw his father slowly turn around to face the troll. Elidor drew his hammer between himself and the troll not a moment too early. As the heavy wood crashed on the hammer’s handle the world seemed to stand still for a second. Slowly, very slowly Elidor’s body got lifted and started flying from the impact of the troll’s club. Pierce ́s mouth opened as it made its way towards the wall. And there was absolutely nothing he could do about it! Elidor crashed into the stone, back first, his face bearing not so much the impression of somebody in pain…but more so of somebody who was astonished, surprised, somebody who felt respect for a stronger opponent. Pierce shook his head in disbelief.
”What!?” he said out loud.
And then it was over! Pierce ran towards his father and embraced him. He did not say anything. Elidor had been knocked out cold. Pierce took off his jacket, rolled it and placed his father ́s head on it. The last of the trolls was still there. He looked around and roared one more time. He pointed at the princess.
”She’s gonna be mine!” he thundered. Pierce raised his head. Slowly, with a sparkle in his eyes that the troll failed to notice he stood up…and smiled.
”And what would you do with her?” he asked.
The troll lifted his club for a second before he relaxed and put it down again. He scratched his head. ”Me, I dunno really!” he said. ”I guess, she’s gonna ter wash me clofs an’ make der food an’ kids an’ stuff!”
”Yer know, dem little buggers dat spit der food on deir face instead for eatin’ it!”
”Oh, them! Yes, I can see how she could help with that!”
The troll nodded.
”Dat’s right, dat!”
”I don ́t see how she could help you with that, though!”
”Whadda yer mean?”
”You see, I’ve read this book about bees and birds once and…well, er, I think she’s going to explode with your kid inside her.”
There was silence for a little while. The troll knelt down and got into Pierce’s face.
”Yer wanna fight, too, dontcher?”
”No, no! Not at all, but say, do you actually know where kids come from?”
”Buggers! Yer really don’ wanna fight?”
”How old are you?”
”Two hundred an’ sixty-five! Had birfday las’ Wednesday!”
”Now, tell me: Where do little trolls come from?”
”Me, I dunno, but Trivelpiece over dere”, he pointed to one of the smaller trolls lying on the floor. ”Trivelpiece says dem little buggers come out of der moffers!”
”And how big is such a little bugger when he comes out, hm?”
”Trivelpiece says, `bout dis big!”
The troll put his flat hand a few inches above Pierce’s head.
”Bigger dan me? And bigger dan the princess?”
There was silence for a moment.
”So?” the troll asked.
”Oh, come on, you’re not that stupid!”
The troll said nothing.
”Or are you?”
”Yer jus’ called me stoopid, dintcher?”
The troll lifted his club:
”Arrgh! Me, I’s not stoopid!” he roared. ”Stan’ still, so’s, I can make potato mash out o’yer!”
Pierce stepped back a little.
”I’m not a potato!” he said.
The troll considered this.
”Listen, you don’t have to get angry with me.” Pierce continued with a change of tactics. ”I mean, just look around you! We have beaten most of your friends! And…” Pierce hesitated. ”…you know, er, you look just like a bloke who has, well, who has the dignity and grace to respect a good opponent when he sees one!”
The troll looked empty-eyed at Pierce.
”A good opponent who likes to fight!” Pierce explained. ”And you got a lot of dignity and grace, isn’t that right, hm?”
”Well, yep, dat’s right! I got loads o’dignerdy an’ grace, me! Always had, I says all der time!”
”And you always like a good fight, right?”
”Does the princess fight?”
”Der princess? Nope. Never seen `er fight, me!”
”Do you think she’s a good fighter?”
”She’s ter weak!”
”Doesn’t that make you think?”
The big troll stood up and turned around. The princess knelt in one corner, hiding her face in her hands while Elidor and the smaller trolls slowly regained control over themselves in the background. The troll sensed that he should have been saying something clever. Instead he felt stupid. Pierce walked over to the princess and put his arms around her shoulders.
”Are you alright?”
”Yes, I hope so. What about you?” she asked looking at the trolls who gathered in the background, licking their wounds. They started mumbling.
”I’m fine!” He watched the trolls, too. ”We better get out of here! Dad!”
The blacksmith limped towards them and handed over Pierce’s jacket .
”Good fight, ey!”
”You lost it!”
”Not ser fas’!”
The biggest troll, who had talked to Pierce came along with his club. Pierce and the princess froze instantly and turned around. Elidor limped on.
”Um, der troll baby is ter big for der princess, right?” the troll asked, unsure of himself. ”Der princess gonna explode wiff a troll baby inside’er, right?”
Pierce and the princess looked at each other. She started giggling.
”Yes, that’s it!” Pierce said. ”That’s what I meant!”
The troll breathed out, relieved as he was.
”Oh, good! Din’t wanna yer ter fink I’m stoopid or some’n! Got dat all from der start, yer know!”
”And yer guys fight bloody damn well, too!” Elidor yelled in from half inside the tunnel.
”Fanx! Yer, too!” the troll roared back.