Telling Vendel about Barbara and Jim and what, exactly, Blinky had done was much easier in theory than it was in actual practice. The entire day passed upstairs and Blinky was still deliberating on how to do it. Without being kicked out of Trollmarket, that was.

In the end, it was Kanjigar who actually did the deed, although Blinky noticed that he also had waited as long as possible to do so.

And Vendel was, as predicted, upset.

Blinky and AAARRRGGHH weren't there when he raged at Kanjigar. The Trollhunter selflessly drew the majority of the elder's ire to himself, and by the time that Vendel reached the other two trolls he had already had time to calm down. Blinky couldn't help but feel a surge of gratitude toward the Trollhunter, who knew how Blinky looked up to Vendel.

Kanjigar had spun it to Vendel that Barbara and Jim could possibly be useful as the Trollhunter's contacts on the surface world, able to go about in daylight and keep an eye on Changeling activity. This would allow Barbara to visit, as she had to understand what she would be helping to protect, and since Jim had already seen Trollmarket and how to get inside, it would be no further damage to allow him in as well. To the rest of Trollmarket the humans' presence would be acknowledged as it was: entirely Blinky's fault, their continued visits as his way of making friends.

Apparently Vendel had not been happy to have been had this way. He knew exactly what Kanjigar was doing in making Jim and Barbara out to be spies, and he made it clear to Blinky precisely how disappointed he was, in both the fact that he had allowed himself to be seen and that he had gone back and deliberately exposed their world to both the boy and his mother. The dangers he had potentially brought to Trollmarket and everyone in it were laid out in thoroughly and in detail, and by the time Vendel was done Blinky wished he could just sink right into the floor.

Their discussion could not last long, thankfully, because AAARRRGGHH and Blinky had to get going. Nighttime was approaching in the human world and Blinky – despite the heart-wrenching dressing-down – was looking forward to taking Jim to Trollmarket again, especially now that he actually didn't have to sneak around. Kanjigar had protested this openness, stating that it might be dangerous for the humans, which was the perfect excuse for Blinky to ask him to provide escort. Kanjigar had set himself up, and grudgingly agreed to keep guard until it was time for him to go on patrol.

The two humans were waiting in the dining room when the trolls arrived, halfway through eating dinner. Jim shot up as soon as Blinky barged through the door and hop-limped over to him on a new crutch.

Blinky gladly encircled the boy in an embrace when he stumbled over to him but was hasty to then pick him up and deposit him back in his chair.

"Young master Jim! How fares your leg today?"

"Eh, it's better," Jim said, leaning backwards to stick it out. "The stitches itch a bit and it's really hard to take a bath without getting them wet."
"He just had his last pain pill for today," said Jim's mother, clearing away their dishes.

Blinky slowly inclined his head at the woman.

"Lady Barbara," he said. He was slightly less afraid of her since their truce the previous night, but precaution was, after all, the soul of virtue, and it didn't hurt to be as wary as possible, since it was obvious that even having AAARRRGGHH and Kanjigar at his back wouldn't stop the woman from threatening him if she so wanted.

Vendel, who prized keenness in battle and had a vicious streak the size of the Heartstone, would probably love her.

"Good evening, Mr. Blinky," Barbara said, smiling at him as she passed into the kitchen. "Is everything set for tonight?"
"Indeed," he replied. "We have informed Vendel, our elder troll, of our plans and he awaits us in Trollmarket."
I can only hope that this goes well, he thought privately.

Jim happily chatted with his mother about Trollmarket while she bundled him in a jacket and fetched his crutch. Blinky made sure not to let his apprehension show in his face, but as much as he was looking forward to properly showing the two around his home, he knew that Barbara was likely to not take Kanjigar's plans for her well.

Hopefully he would be out of range by then.

Kanjigar and AAARRRGGHH, who were waiting in the yard behind the house, were enthusiastically greeted by the small boy, and Barbara even deigned to give AAARRRGGHH a smile and Kanjigar a polite but rather curt nod. She seemed satisfied enough to allow Blinky to carry Jim, however, and they set off for the canal.

"So," Barbara said after a few minutes of silent walking, passing behind houses and through backyards. She had been quietly tolerant of their need to sneak so far, and accepted AAARRRGGHH's offered hand as he helped her over a high fence. "What am I to expect from this Trollmarket? I'm under the impression that humans are not exactly welcome down there."
Blinky, who was gently but unceremoniously lifted over the fence by the head, waited until Kanjigar had vaulted himself over before answering.

"The assumption is true enough," he said. "Until the other night human feet had never graced the grounds of Trollmarket before. Most of the trolls below have not seen a human in person since the migration, unless they are from the scavenging parties or are particularly prone to travelling."
They had to wait a minute for a passing teenager to move out of range, and then crept out along the shadows of the next street.

"The migration?"

"Yes," Blinky said. "We arrived in North America with the Mayflower, and walked until we found our Heartstone."

"And what exactly is a heartstone?"
"It's so cool," Jim piped up from Blinky's arm. "It's big and orange and it feels really warm."
"It is a great crystal," Blinky added, "alive and feeling in its own way. It is what gives us trolls life. Without it, we would be but cold stone."

Barbara was silent for a while and Blinky could feel her chewing through that information. If she was anything like Vendel, who took a special interest in unusual injuries and healing techniques, he had the hunch that she would be pressing him for every scrap of information she could get from him before the night was out.

They scooted through the last of the trees in the small wood that bordered the canal and Blinky carefully lowered himself and the whelp down the slope, followed by AAARRRGGHH and Barbara, who sat in one of the grey troll's massive hands. As he searched in his pocket for the horngazel, Blinky surreptitiously turned one eye up at Kanjigar, who had yet to descend.

The younger troll must think Blinky an idiot, to believe that Blinky had no idea of the dangers presented by venturing out at night. Bular was an ever-present worry in the back of his mind, especially with two vulnerable humans accompanying him.

But not only did he have Kanjigar, who had beaten Bular in battle more than once, but he also had AAARRRGGHH, and not even Bular was willing to challenge AAARRRGGHH without backup.

The gold glow of the horngazel illuminated Jim's smiling face, but the glittering blue of its effect flashed in Barbara's glasses, and Blinky briefly was disconcerted with the intensity of her yes. She looked as if she were walking straight into a mire, unable to turn back and hoping against hope that she would have the strength to trudge through to the other end. As the doorway spiraled into existence Blinky put a spare hand upon Barbara's shoulder, startling her. She turned to him and the glow from her eyes faded back into the brilliant blue that she shared with her son. She smiled at him and, to his surprise, pat his hand.

The brief connection was broken as Kanjigar shouldered past them, issuing them through the doorway with a harried, annoyed look. Blinky dared to glare at him, which was ignored.

Jim wriggled out of Blinky's hold the instant the portal was closed, grabbing his mother's hand and pulling her to the end of the ledge.

"Jim – Jim, what are you doing, don't go that far – "
"Look, Mom!"
Barbara picked the boy up just as the crystals illuminated in the stairwell and gasped aloud.

"Oh! It's beautiful…"

"This way, Lady Barbara," Blinky said, sidling to front like a good host. Barbara looked behind her at AAARRRGGHH and passed Jim to him, while the boy protested that he could go down the staircase just fine on his own. Blinky shot a grateful look to his friend before leading the way down the stairs, since he needed his arms to keep balance on the slightly too-high drops and gaps. Barbara hopped down the crystals like a grasshopper; Blinky slightly envied her long limbs.

Vendel was waiting for them at the bottom of the staircase, surrounded by a small entourage of curious trolls.

Barbara drew up short, jumping down from the last crystal to land just behind Blinky. He felt two tiny hands press just between his upper shoulder-blades, and tried to think like the Trollhunter, drawing himself up as if he were the human's personal guardian.

"Vendel, may I present to you the gracious Lady Barbara Lake," he said, reaching behind him and gently drawing Barbara forth. "As well as her son, Jim; the very lad who saved my life, if you recall," he said gingerly.

Vendel rolled his eyes and plodded forward, stopping just before Barbara.

"I suppose that I must welcome you, fleshbag," Vendel said, dashing Blinky's every hope that the elder would perhaps try to be cordial. "No humans have walked these streets before Blinkous let your son loose in here. I would expect you, at least, to behave yourself."
Barbara drew herself up and Blinky quickly stepped away from her.

"Well, I never! You cannot blame a child for acting like one," the woman huffed, "and I'll thank you to watch what you say about my son, especially in front of his own mother!"
Vendel looked over Barbara's head and grinned at Blinky.

"I like her," he said, to Blinky's great surprise. "She is certainly not the cowering fleshbag I had anticipated. And where is the whelp?"

Barbara looked like she wanted to go on but AAARRRGGHH plodded forward; Jim slid out of AAARRRGGHH's grasp but remained close to him, enclosed on either side by a tree-trunk arm and the rest of the troll towering over him from behind. Vendel, completely unintimated, bent down to look the boy in the face. His eyes caught the crutch and followed it to Jim's leg, which was hovering off of the ground.

"Injured," he murmured, "And yet you still wanted to come back."

If anybody but Blinky and his companions had heard the comment they would have thought Vendel to be admonishing the boy, but Blinky, who had known Vendel since he was a child himself, heard and understood the tiny amount of admiration in the old troll's voice. Young Jim, despite having a gentle heart, also had a warrior's spirit, and that was something that Vendel could appreciate.

"For someone so small, you have caused a great deal of trouble," Vendel said. Jim ducked his head, clasping his hands against his chest and looking despairingly close to tears. Barbara strode past Blinky and put her arms over Jim's shoulders, looking the pale troll straight in the eyes.

"I'll thank you to not upset my son," she said tensely. "He's just a boy."
"Mom," Jim murmured to the ground.

"I would not dream of it, Lady Ba-bu-rah," Vendel said, and Blinky was incredibly relieved to hear a note of amusement in his voice. Jim shuffled a little bit, and then murmured something to himself; Blinky strained to hear and was utterly shocked to hear Trollish words on the child's breath. Vendel, whose ears were significantly more keen than his eyes, straightened up in shock.

"Thank you for welcome me," Jim said, with a horribly human accent. Behind the humans AAARRRGGHH rumbled in approval, and a glance was shared between him and Blinky; the larger troll must have taught him the phrase on their way down the staircase.

Vendel looked almost starstruck.

"…A little heavy handed on the consonants, little one, but well enough," he said, much more gently than his previous words. "I am glad that you deem it fit to study some of our culture. Keep it up, young whelp."

Blinky straightened again as Vendel nodded in his direction.

"I've taken the liberty of alerting Trollmarket to its visitors," he said, with a gesture to the trolls milling behind him, "so that there should be no unpleasant surprises. However, Kanjigar – I would prefer for you to stay with them for a while."
Blinky had the distinct feeling that Vendel wouldn't have requested that if Barbara hadn't spoken out at him. The elder troll always did have a strange sense of humor. Blinky was just grateful that Vendel had taken her as amusing, instead of insulting.

"Well," he said cheerily, making Barbara turn away from Vendel. "Shall we begin our tour?"
Jim, still wrapped in his mother's arms, hopped eagerly on one foot.

"Can we show Mom that room with the stars?"
"Of course, Master Jim," Blinky said, and gestured for the two humans to follow him.
They passed Vendel and walked through the small crowd of trolls who had gathered at the foot of the staircase, AAARRRGGHH and Kanjigar lumbering behind them. Blinky felt the stares and heard the whispers, perhaps with a touch more annoyance than he usually would have, but Jim and Barbara navigated through the crowd with nothing more than a few nervous nods and hello's, though Blinky was certain that his folk most likely looked quite frightening to the two humans.

"Did all these…people, erm, migrate like you did?" Barbara asked, in a very clear attempt to steady herself as she clutched her whelp tight and walked closer to Blinky. "Everybody looks so different."
"Well, naturally," Blinky said, scooting himself past Bagdwella as quickly as possible. "Imagine if we all looked alike, like humans! How humorous. Yes, there are only a handful of trolls here who were actually born in North America; the majority of us took the passage across the Atlantic four hundred years ago, although a number have since come from different places at different times. Heartstone Trollmarket is one of the largest troll communities and serves as a place of refuge and rest for those who seek it. Vendel, whom you just met, is one of Trollkind's most accomplished healers and spellcasters, and this Heartstone out of all is known for its healing capacity."

"So is the crystal alive somehow? I can feel some sort of humming," Barbara said, turning her face to the warm light as they walked through the market. "It feels…I don't know exactly. Like something strong and safe."

"It is supposed to," said Blinky happily. "I am glad that you and Jim can feel it. Heartstones provide us with life, and in a way they are alive. Trollmarket's Heartstone in particular is powerful and welcoming to all."

"Fascinating," Barbara murmured, shifting her hold on Jim. "Now – what is this cave you wanted me to see?"

Kanjigar suddenly pulled the humans toward him as a troll laden heavily with a pile of boxes lumbered past, completely unable to see anything as small as a human. Blinky hurried them out of the main road as quickly as possible and turned down the corridor toward the old mines. Jim began to chat happily with AAARRRGGHH, who seemed quite amenable to teaching the young one more Trollish. The boy had only just started asking for slightly more vulgar words when Blinky finally ushered them into the glittering cave.

The boy scrambled down from his mother's arms and hopped over to Blinky.

"Show the crystal," he urged, tugging on one of Blinky's hands. "Mom, you gotta see this – "
"Jim, please – oh."

Blinky withdrew a crystal from a pocket and lightly tapped it, handing it to Jim when it began to glow. He picked up the boy and slowly turned in a circle as Jim held the crystal high above his head, the soft green light shining off of a million tiny facets. Even the light from Kanjigar's amulet made his side of the cave glitter.

Barbara was completely dazzled, and for the first time Blinky saw her forget herself and her strange predicament. She looked so terribly young, for just a moment.

"Isn't it great? It feels like we're in space."
Barbara nodded softly, lightly patting Jim's foot as she walked the cave with wide eyes.

"It seems to go on into eternity," she murmured.

As they continued, Blinky was pleased to find the woman become less and less wary, and more and more curious, her eyes lighting with the same delight as her son's. Trollmarket was a wondrous place for even newly-visiting trolls, and to a human Blinky supposed it to be utterly fantastic. Young Jim, certainly, was having a much better time now that he was allowed to have a proper tour. Blinky had settled the whelp down onto his shoulders, and he was quite enjoying the various exclamations from the boy, echoed with increasing frequency by his mother. The various stalls of food and wares, especially, seemed to fascinate Barbara.

She paused from time to time, watching the trolls as they watched her. Once, upon seeing Bagdwella, who had taken to following their group, buy and eat a set of delicate lightbulbs, the Lady Barbara finally began asking the questions that Blinky had seen building behind her eyes.

"So, given the lack of common human foods here, I'm guessing that you guys need a higher amount of minerals and silicates in your diets?"

Bagdwella, upon being noticed, gave a little exclamation and immediately kinked a hip, smiling rather viciously as she daintily ate chandelier bulb.
"Indeed," said Blinky, neatly shooing Bagdwella away so that she could make eyes at Kanjigar instead.

"As we are composed of living rock, our diets must reflect thusly, although trolls in general are more or less omnivorous. We enjoy diets high in protein as well as minerals and, as you see – "

He pointed out a stall selling various softer plastics and fabrics.

" – We can eat just about anything. The human world's tendency toward wasteful refuse has been a boon these last few centuries. One of the reasons why trollkind, even in our isolation, tend to stay within a relatively short distance from human settlements, with exception from the deepest trolls."

This led to a discussion of dietary requirements across tribes around the world, which Blinky wasn't entirely an expert on but was happy to talk about anyway as they made their way through the underground. After a while Jim wanted to be put down, and their group slowed slightly to adjust for his crutches. They finally escaped the main thoroughfare to visit one of the places Blinky had been looking least forward to, though he tried not to let it show.

"And this is the Hero's Forge, where warriors are made!"

Honestly, bringing a woman whose first instinct upon meeting him had been to bloody his face to a training ring was not Blinky's idea of a good time, but it couldn't be avoided forever.
Jim, who had of course been to the Forge before, excitedly tried to run across the bridge; AAARRRGGHH grabbed him by the back of his shirt and tucked the boy into his elbow. Blinky walked behind Barbara, watching her as she marveled at the cavern. The height of the place especially seemed to fascinate her, and when they got to the center of the arena she turned in a slow circle, her head thrown back to look up at the expanse above her. Blinky was struck again by how young she looked; barely more than a babe in trollish years and probably still considered a young adult in human terms. But that made her adaptable, flexible; she could accept and assimilate more than someone older, and still had a lifetime's worth of experiences to acquire before she truly settled into herself.

There were none currently practicing in the Forge, to Blinky's great relief. The vast empty arena echoed quietly. Although he had never been a warrior himself, Blinky still felt at ease in the space. Knowledge of history and ancient fighting styles had made him a regular tutor here, and he was happy applying his knowledge to such an important piece of trollish culture, and teaching others to do so as well.

Kanjigar explained the mechanisms for training to the two humans as well as the exact purpose of the arena, from training to duals.

Kanjigar then, for the child's amusement, summoned and banished his armor twice. Jim watched with stars in his eyes, especially fascinated by the sword and the blue fire that swam across it as it materialized. The Trollhunter, amused by the boy's excitement, knelt and held the sword at eye level, letting Jim examine the patterns on the metal.

"C-can I hold it? Please, Mister Kanjigar! Mom, can I just hold it?"
"Absolutely, not," Barbara said firmly, taking Jim by the shoulder and looking at the sword as if it had already tried to kill her son. Jim pressed his back against her front and grimaced.

"Please, Mom! I won't even move, I just want to hold it!"

Barbara looked at Jim, who was staring up at her backward, and after a few moments rolled her eyes.

"Let's compromise," she said, glancing at Kanjigar. "I'll hold it and you can look at it."
Kanjigar nodded, interest and mischief in his eyes as he stood and laid the Daylight Sword on Barbara's upturned palms. She bent down so that the young child could see the patterns in the metal, warning him to keep clear of the sharp edge, and he raised his hands to support the bottom of the sword as well.

Blinky waited in amusement for the sword to disappear and surprise the two humans.

And he waited. And waited.

…It sure was taking its time.

After nearly a minute of examining the blade, Barbara stood up and offered the sword back to Kanjigar. Blinky discreetly had to kick him, and Trollhunter took the sword slowly, looking it over and staring at the twenty tiny fingerprints on the underside of its blade.

He dismissed it and summoned it again, apparently just to make sure that he still could. None of them had ever witnessed the sword staying corporeal in the grasp of someone who was not the Trollhunter.

Barbara and Jim had no idea that they had just done something impossible, and Blinky was only taken out of his shaken stupor when AAARRRGGHH nudged his arm, his ears alerting him to the ominous thud of Vendel's staff.

"Ah-hem, well, yes, um. Why don't I show you the library, lady Barbara? It is one of the most famous collections on this side of the country."

They turned just as the elder came upon them.

"Come, fleshlings," he said, looming over the two humans with a mischievous glint in his eyes, apparently oblivious to the amount of sheer, desperate confusion wafting off of both Blinky and the Trollhunter.

"I would very much like you to meet someone," he merely said, ignoring the two other trolls.

Oh, but Blinky hoped it wasn't going to be a visiting dignitary. Trollmarket was overwhelming enough without bringing someone like Gatto's floating head into it.

Barbara looked at Blinky for reassurance and he smiled and nodded, taking her shoulder and gently escorting her after the elder. As they walked, he found his thoughts turning inward, and with a glance at Kanjigar's face he knew that the other troll was just as troubled.

Why hadn't the Daylight sword vanished when given to Barbara? Was it because it had been given, and not taken? No human had ever handled any weapons of the Trollhunters – perhaps their mere humanity was enough to confuse the sword.

He touched upon the notion that one of them was to be a future Trollhunter, and then banished it as soon as it came. It was preposterous; a Trollhunter was a troll, always. Humans were simply too small and weak to be up to the task. But then again, there had never been humans this involved in trollkind's affairs since the great wars and separations.

Ahead of him and AAARRRGGHH, Barbara and Vendel were getting along like fleas on a cat. Jim was currently curled up in one of AAARRRGGHH's arms, content to let his mother pester the older troll with questions. Blinky rather dismayed at her learning further about trollish anatomy.

They came to an area a little bit away from Blinky's library, across the bridge to the Heartstone in a corner usually set aside as a waiting area for visitors, although Vendel tended to store odds and ends that wouldn't fit into his quarters there. To Blinky's intense dismay, it was already occupied by Vendel's guest.

…He had been wrong. It wasn't Gatto – it was worse.

It was Draal.

Of all the backhanded schemes! Draal was the one troll most likely to drive Barbara away, the only one who would not hesitate to frighten and threaten her to get her and her son out of Trollmarket.

Blinky huffed at Vendel as much as he dared, which was not a lot – his respect for the elder troll outsized his aggravation. But did he really have to bring Draal into this?

Kanjigar, he noticed, had faded even more into the back of the group, no doubt to not influence his son's actions for better or worse. Blinky huffed at the Trollhunter to no avail.

Draal, for his part, was briefly surprised at seeing Vendel escorting a human and her son with their mixed entourage, before his face fell into its customary haughty sneer. He hopped off of the box he had been sitting on to come greet them, offering a tiny not to his father in the back of their group before turning to the humans at hand.

"I had heard of Blinky's mishap in the human world," he said, the little shit-eater, "But had hardly believed it to be true." He knelt down until his face was even with Barbara's.

"Human feet have never sullied the ground of Trollmarket, fleshbag. Consider yourself and your spawn honored. And look – "

He spied Jim, struggling down from AAARRRGGHH's arms. With one shoulder he shoved Barbara aside.

" – The little warrior himself! Unable to even lift the smallest sword, hah!"

He raised a hand to poke Jim, which AAARRRGGHH batted aside. Barbara herself darted under Draal's arm to stand between him and her son, even as Kanjigar took a step forward to intervene.

"If you lay a single finger on my son," the woman snarled, "I will make sure that I learn every inch of troll anatomy, and use it against you."
Draal growled back in her face, standing over her so that she had to lean backward to avoid headbutting him.

"As if a fleshbag could do anything of consequence," he said nastily. "You're t- "

Barbara's long arm grabbed a carved oaken staff from the wall and swung it as hard as she could. The end connected, and Draal dropped.

Barbara didn't stop there. Once Draal's face was level with hers, a small round fist landed in the closest eye, and when he jerked his head back in pain Barbara's hand grabbed on to his nose ring, making him freeze in place lest he tear it out. He was forced to lean forward as she dragged upon the ring, and with a complete lack of fear she stuck her face right into his and bared her blunt little teeth.

"And that's just with what I could guess," Barbara said, her voice low and rough in a passable imitation of a growl. Draal watched with uncertainty the staff in her hand, which was pointed now at his uninjured eye.

"Good gracious, Barbara," said Blinky from where he and AAARRRGGHH had very swiftly backed away behind a table, to Vendel's amusement. "Are there not oaths for people in your profession?"
Barbara raised an eyebrow to him, and he leaned out of range of the oaken staff.

"My son is worth more than an oath," she said simply. Draal jerked back and hit the floor as she let go of his nose ring. One hand came up to massage his injured eye, while the other looked at Barbara with utter amazement.

"Now," said the vicious woman, as conversationally as if she had never threatened a troll four times her size. "My son is just a child and I would like for him to be able to visit without worrying about his bodily safety. I'm sure that it's considered dishonorable to harm a young child in your world?"

Draal, from his spot on the floor, nodded slowly.
"Er, it's. Um."

"Of course, silly of me to think otherwise," said Barbara. She stepped over Draal and leaned down in his face, planting the oaken staff down by the side of his head.

"Don't you try to threaten my son again."

Draal didn't move; Barbara seemed satisfied enough, and she put down the staff and swept Jim up into her arms.

"Now," she said, with an amused grin at Blinky's cowering form, "Is there anything around here Jim and I can eat?"


The tour continued forward, after Kanjigar had a brief discussion with his son, at last. Blinky stayed behind to converse with Vendel, who had taken entirely too much enjoyment out of Barbara's complete lack of mercy and tenderness.

"You mean to say you intended that encounter!"

"Of course, Blinkous," Vendel said, grinning toothily. "That impulsive idiot has been making a menace of himself for years, trying and failing to live up to his father. If the Lady Barbara could get Kanjigar in line, I figured that she certainly could do the same for his son, and look how it turned out. The poor fool is following her like a gnome to a sock vendor."
Blinky was…shocked. Vendel hadn't introduced Barbara to Draal to scare her off, but to scare Draal into behaving?

The elder troll was quite unaffected by Blinky's stunned expression, and he looked across the chasm, watching Draal and AAARRRGGHH show the humans through the market with a thoughtful face.

"Quite a fearsome creature, for a fleshbag," he murmured to himself. "I do hope you know what you're getting into."
To the contrary, Blinky mused, thinking over the day's events, I really, truly believe that I DON'T.


It was past midnight when Jim and Barbara walked onto their street, way past time for Jim to go to bed. He would have been happier about getting to stay up if he wasn't so sleepy. The cul-de-sac was dark enough that Blinky and AAARRRGGHH escorted them to their front yard, and they parted with murmured goodbyes.

Barbara, carrying Jim in her arms, turned and smiled at Blinky. Despite the various shocks and surprises, she had actually had a very good night. Her protective instincts had dimmed enough for her to truly enjoy the experience, and her quizzical mind wondered at the rich culture she had been shown. Their last visit of the evening had been to Blinky's library, and AAARRRGGHH was graciously carrying the pile of books that Blinky had pressed on her.

"Thank you for taking us," she whispered to Blinky, and she found that she meant it. Blinky, for his part, looked very happy.

"I appreciate that chance that you have given us," he replied, putting a hand on her unladen shoulder. "Your endeavor to protect your son is more than admirable, as are your efforts to understand our world. We would be glad to have you visit us at any time."
Barbara hmm'd, shifting Jim as he slightly began to slip.

"How can I contact you?"
Blinky contemplated the issue for a minute. They had no phones in Trollmarket, and there was no way that Barbara could send a letter through conventional means.

"Perhaps we shall simply arrange a meeting? Two nights hence?"
"We'll be glad to see you."

They departed then, not quite friends but no longer at odds with each other. The genuine compassion and care that Blinky had shown for Jim during their trip had convinced Barbara that her son was – perhaps not safe, considering the sword incident – but at least under good hands.
Hmm, she thought in amusement. All four of them.

She climbed the stairs, Jim shifting a bit as he started to wake, only to stop dead.

Curled in a blue dotted blanket, watching the entire scene from the front doormat, was Tobias Domzalski.


Original A/N: I apologize for the wait, but I've been taking home bottle-feed kittens and cleaning a parvo puppy on my days on and off, so it's been a little bit busy. I think I'm two weeks behind on schoolwork, too. Ugh.

Second A/N: Update, it's several months behind on the schoolwork and I've still got numerous kittens to feed and now it's TWO PARVO PUPPIES. I've been so physically and emotionally drawn by work that even thinking about writing was exhausting. But then everything changed when Trollhunters Season 3 attacked.

AND IT SURE SLAMMED US IN THE FEELS, DIDN'T IT? If I make Barbara into the Trollhunter, won't Merlin want to turn her into a troll, too? On that subject, I really don't think that Barbara would have much problem with the more grisly and unforgiving parts of being Trollhunter. The woman stuck a live goblin in a blender and murdered it with a smile! She was ready to take on a Gumm-Gumm with fists only and quite enjoyed hitting Strickler with a broom. Barbara has a vicious streak and is not afraid to grapple.

I think that Draal would be rather enamored with Barbara. Here is this tiny little spindly lady who thinks she can be a badass and somehow manages to do just that. Like a less-nasty Nomura. This will not be a ship fic, but Draal is definitely going to have a bit of hero-worship for this feisty lady, especially since she's actually nice to him UNLIKE ANOTHER PARENTAL FIGURE OF HIS.

Kanjigar was originally cool with Blinky parading around his new spies because he has no reason to believe that Changelings have actually gotten into Trollmarket. It wasn't until the end of season two that Jim and co. even suspected that a Changeling was on the inside, so if Mr. Conspiracy Theory Galadrigal didn't think of it, I doubt Kanjigar would have. BUT that left a huge plot hole because Changelings are super spies that can get into anywhere, so instead having Kanjigar pretend that Barbara's not his spy but simply there because Blinky fucked up is better. If he had tried to sneak Barbara and Jim around then any spies in Trollmarket would immediately be suspicious that he was on to them.

Remember how Vendel was so hating on Claire until she spoke to him in Troll? I think he's mostly annoyed with Jim and Toby because they don't bother to learn or appreciate any of the Trollish cultures that Vendel seems to be an advocate for, but Claire is appreciative of Trollish history, Claire learned the language, etc. He liked that she made the effort to actually learn about Trollmarket. Now, remember how Jim learned Spanish very quickly mostly likely to impress Claire? Apply that here. Young Jim wants to not get into trouble with the Big Grumpy Troll and learning Trollish was the fastest way to get onto Vendel's good side.

Current Author's Note: Aaand I apologize for the further wait, as life hit and I completely lost inspiration until I re-read my story and was disappointed that it didn't have a next chapter, so. HERE YA GO.

Don't tell me that Bagdwella wouldn't flirt with literally anyone, iconic.

Up next: what happens when you keep secrets from your bestie.