My car is old. More than that it is beaten up and dirty. And grey. This contraption appears as if it's going to crumble under its own weight, but I feel safe in it. I always have. It is this metallic beast that carries me up a misty mountain lightly sprinkled with snow. Riding next to me is an oddly silent Multi-Creamer.
Out the drivers-side window I see a lake where there shouldn't be one. The snow doesn't quite reach its watery shore where lush green grass springs forth. At the center of the lake is a tiny island of pebbles and vegetation. Perched on this are two of the most beautiful creatures I've ever seen. Birds, a variety I can't seem to remember having seen before, the size of a Flamingo with the plumage of a Peacock all done in cherry red. Springing from the tops of their heads are a tiny sprig of feathers, worn almost proudly like a crown.
I see all of this in a matter of seconds but they are of such splender their images are indelibly burned into my memory.
On her side of the car is the mountain face. Hard rock and frozen water from springs within pass us slowly by. Occasionally there are signs of humanity where some sort of construction or mining is going on. Orange dangles in the wind here and there.
Eventually I am unable to proceed up the mountain, the roads are too slippery, too dangerous. Not even my steed can handle these conditions with grace. Seeing other cars abandoned, I pull off and we proceed on foot. At the top of the next turn I see the refuge the others have found, a deserted building.
Inside is a tiny dark room filled with a dozen teenagers. They are huddled around the vats of processing chemicals and hanging photographs talking excitedly. Apparently there is more danger outside than slippery roads.
It's killed already, we could be next!
What are we gonna do?
What is it anyway?
Their paranoid chatter continues while my own ideas begin to form. Must be the birds. Somehow I decide the birds are angry that their territory is being encroached on by the miners, and they are fighting back. I don't really blame them. Suddenly I perk up when the children start talking about leaving the safety of the building.
"Are you nuts? You just said it's killed people, what makes you think you aren't next?"
Aaaw, we'll be fine. We can't stay in here forever.
Growling at the stupidity of their decision I decide if they're leaving, opening the doors to this mysterious ghost creature attacking people, we won't be safe in there anyway. Multi-Creamer and I walk back to our car grumbling about the kids that are going to be dead this time tomorrow and decide to retreat down the mountain.
We get the whole way to the bottom and stop. We can't just leave those kids up there to die. Sighing with frustration we turn around and go back up the mountain. This time there is a heavy fog slowing our journey. We are stopped on the road, it's too thick to see through. On my right is the mountain face. A light catches my attention and I look at the fog, just making out the rocks a few feet away.
Then I see them. Four sets of three lights close together. Like the eyes of monsters emerging from a cave, ready to eat the tasty morsels. I'll be damned, there is a ghost monster afterall. Pushing through the fog like a performer through a stage curtain, I see trolls looking down at us. They are easily a foot taller than we are, with arms as thick as tree trunks. Yellow construction hats with three lights set into them are sitting upon their heads.
They take us into their cave system, deep within the mountain. It's warm in here. In a large cavern we find ourselves facing a throne made of stone, a troll plopped on top of it. He's angry at us. He's angry in general.
We are told how they have been taken advantage of, and they won't stand for it anymore. They have been exploited and forced to mine by the man.
"What are you talking about?"
I'm taken to a smaller cave off the cavern, in it are piles and piles of boxes filled with comics. ElfQuest comics. I look at my guide with a questioning gaze.
They took us and made a comic out of us, and they didn't even give us money for it! We want our royalties!!
Confused, I pick up a comic and begin flipping through it. Then I look at the trolls. Shocked I stare dumbfounded. I can't believe I didn't notice it right away, having ten of the graphic novels gracing my shelf at home. The elf on the cover, Cutter, looks exactly like the troll. Sure, he's been shortened, but the face is the same. Right down to the wild yellow hair. I flip to another page and see Leetah, then I look around the cavern and sure enough a female troll with curls is sitting in the corner.
"well, I'll be jiggered"