Harry amidst the Vaults of Stone

Chapter 28 (Omake)

Hopefully that protracted intermission will be over; I seem to be writing more frequently now. That said, the next real chapter is still under construction. In the meantime, please enjoy this omake, i.e. an alternative universe to my alternative universe to JKR's alternative universe.

Today we are getting a glimpse of Harry Amidst The Trolls Of Bone, courtesy of several idle hours of mutually beneficial collaboration between myself and a bottle of ginger wine.

Him who mountain crush him no

Him who sun him stop him no

Him who hammer him break him no

Him who fire him fear him no

Him who mark him scar above him eye

Him potter

- Troll prophecy *

In the year 1991 He will come, and where His tread falls the land shall never smell the same;

And He will feast upon the spiders of the forest;

And He will declare unto the spotty child of Mercury that yea, the spiders tasteth good, you should try them;

And the child shall say: no, nope, no;

And it shall come to pass that our Tribe will flee before Him, for He discriminateth not in his Hunger.

- Centaur prophecy

Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived

Glurg Son Of Glurg, of cave number four, Place Of Bones, was proud to say that he had once stolen a baby circus elephant, devoured it messily, and made its skull into a hat, thank you very much.

He probably wouldn't put it like that, of course; Glurg had a vocabulary of slightly less than a thousand words even on days when he wasn't smashed out of his ugly gourd on fermented badger carcasses.

Today was not one of those days.

Glurg was a ten-foot-tall mountain troll with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large moustache, which was home to strata of spoiled food and various scampering vermin. His skin was mottled purple-grey due to some river troll ancestry he didn't like to talk about. He was twice as horrible-looking as he was stupid, and twice again as foul-smelling.

Glurg was the last person you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious in a muggle neighbourhood, because – well, because he was a troll, obviously. Glurg was the tool-carver of a group of trolls called Bone Clan. The chief purpose of Bone Clan, though it had never been articulated, was to make more trolls.

Part of the process of making more trolls was keeping existing trolls alive, and that meant weapons, and that meant tools for weapon making, and that meant tool carving. Glurg was good at his job, and was grudgingly respected amongst the other trolls in the clan, despite the fact that he was a bit short and purple and, frankly, clever.

Trolls didn't like clever. Cunning they could get behind, as long as it was a crude and nasty sort of cunning, but clever was a disease of smaller bipeds.

Clever ones were sometimes useful, though; they could do canny things with bone and wood and flint – as Glurg did – and could be sent out into the World when something was needed – as Glurg had been. Those chosen for the task of entering the World of humans were known to trolls as Daylight Faces, and they were both pitied and admired.

Glurg's current quest – the one that had led him to this muggle dwelling – was to find a clay-shaper. The tribe's last clay-shaper, the brutish Gorcus, had died of wolves the summer past; many a tear had been shed and raucous bellow of sorrow uttered before the troll's carcass had been thrown into the Bone Pit. Now a new clay-shaper would need to be trained up, and there were no suitable young trolls to take up the role – except for little Wargen, who was disqualified by way of having had both his arms eaten by a wyvern at an early age.

Glurg, as the tribe's only Daylight Face, had been called before Chief Bone and given the accounting of the task. Glurg had asked, how would he find the clay-shaper?

Chief Bone had clouted him in the ear, and reminded Glurg of the Prophecy, and said that the spirit would guide him.

And although it wasn't much of a spirit – being basically rum made from peat and the bits of a badger that even a troll wouldn't eat – it had guided him. He had woken up here. He was lying under a bush, and his mouth tasted of badgers.

Thus Glurg lurked in the rhododendrons, watching the meowbeast.

The meowbeast in turn watched the door.

The door watched nothing, that he could see.

A car backed out of the driveway. Glurg ignored it; he had been out in the World before and knew that cars made formidable foes. They had no flesh for the devouring.

Time passed. The meowbeast remained, staring at the house, near where Glurg was lurking. It occasionally wrinkled its nose at the disgusting smell that was hanging around the neighbourhood.

Eventually, the car came back. The shadows returned, and the cool night let Glurg relax a little. Trolls – even the Daylight Faces – hated the touch of the sun beyond all else.

A wizard appeared – a beardface, this one, older than even Gorcus had been when he fell to six puny wolves – and used a tool to plunge the street into complete darkness.

Gorcus grinned into the pitch black night. Now here was a beardface he could share a flagon of badger with.

The beardface spoke, and the meowbeast suddenly turned into a witch – a stoneface this one. Glurg's brow creased at all this transforming, and he girded his loins for a fight should the bush he was under turn out to be another wizard. Tonight, his loins bristled with aggression. Brave would be the foe who stood before them.

The beardface and stoneface spoke together for a long time. Glurg knew a little Language, and picked up some scattered phrases. One fact stood out. The Dark One was gone. Hmmm. Thoughts collided in his brain like continental drift. That explained the giants offskiing, Glurg realised. Not to trust the rancorous behemoth!

The troll's ears twitched at a sound in the clouds. After a while, the humans noticed it too, and managed to look in the right direction.

A beast dropped from the sky – a growling steed of metal bones and dark skin and horns, on two noxious wheels. Clearly the spawn of a human car and some unscrupulous hoofbeast, Glurg decided. He looked with grudging approval at the large rider who had tamed it, and fought down the urge to greet him via traditional impromptu wrestling match (as the majesty of the newcomer's stomach demanded).

There was more Language, and then the bulky rider passed forth a bundle of skins. The beardface and stoneface bent forward. Glurg lifted his frame a little so he could see too. A chrysanthemum that had been flattened under his rancid hide for the better part of the day took the opportunity to commit seppuku.

Glurg's eyes were fixed on the bundle. Inside it was a baby human, fast asleep. His hair was black, and above his eye was a vivid red cut.

The old humans and their beast-riding chieftain fussed about the child for a while, placing it on a small ledge by the door apparently designed for just that purpose, and then disappeared. The balls of light returned to the road-poles, and Glurg shielded his eyes, wincing.

After a while, the troll crept forward to stare into the little human's sleeping features. He picked up the bundle carefully, and marvelled at the softness of the skins wrapped around the child.

Yes, it was definitely the one. "Him who sun him stop him no," Glurg repeated to himself, casting a wary eye at the crescent moon that hung above them. The prophecied child had to be a sun-dweller, and this one had the mark, as was foretold.

Yes - a potter, just when the tribe needed one. He would need to be trained up, though. Glurg scratched his head, absent-mindedly eating the square of parchment addressed to the Dursley family that had been tucked into the blankets. Then he tucked the boy into the reeking crook of one arm and loped away.

He wasn't sure he knew the way. Hopefully the spirit would guide him. He still had half an ox bladder left.

A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive. A mile away and still accelerating, Harry Potter's nose twitched at the smell now pervading his blankets. He slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' time by the guttural coos of Glurg's current mate as she met him at the dirty hide that served as the front door to his cave.

He couldn't know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!"

Oh, what a hero they were imagining.

Oh, what a hero they would get.

Chapter Two: The Vanishing Snake

Potter hung the last graphorn skin to dry on the thorn bushes near the river, clapped his hands together, and wandered back up the riverbank. If he finished making Big Meal for Glurg before the sun crept over Far Away Mountain, he might be in time to hear Morku's morning legend at the fire-hole.

Morku was ageing, his limbs shaking more with each sunrise, and soon he would be too old to protest being thrown into the bone pit. Potter wanted to get his horn's worth while he still could. The ten-year-old loved Morku's legending, perhaps more than any other troll child. He had a fascination with the story teller, and combined with Glurg's suspicious verbosity, there was a most precocious child in the making.

Potter paused under a tree to brush back his mane of greasy black hair, revealing several scars, apparently no different from the others scattered about his bulky frame. An old, wide gash from a fall at a young age almost completely obscured a smaller one that was shaped a little like a lightning bolt.

His brow furrowed as he watched several motionless troll children playing Drop in the shade of a distant cliff. Each one held a large boulder at chest level. If you were the first to drop your rock you lost the game, but if in doing so you successfully dropped it on your opponent's foot, you won. It was a game of even greater nuance than that, though: if you came out on top in the ensuing fight, the match would be considered a draw.

Potter didn't play Drop any more – now that his peers were twice his size, he was always outclassed. None could make fire as fast as him, though, or see the shapes in the mud and clay that could be brought forward with time and careful hand movements. And none could withstand the sun as he could.

A noise from the branches overhead made Potter jump, but it was only a pair of squirrels fighting. "Damn their acorn scandal," he muttered to himself in scorn, searching for a rock to throw. "Away, branch rats!"

He froze, coming face to face with a scaly intruder in the bushes. This high up the mountain, snakes were rare, but he had seen skins, and warnings of them had been legended in his ear. The bite of big wrigglers could be painful in the face.

"Be off, belly-scurryer," he said carefully, backing away. His hand continued to grasp for a sharp rock.

The snake blinked, and opened its mouth. "A sssspeaker," it murmured. "A sssspeaker amongsssst trollssss, ssssuch a sssstrange ssssight to ssssee."

Potter fell backward onto the trail in surprise, barely noticing the pain as a stone grazed his wrist.

"Split-tongue wriggler placing whisper in my ear!" His vision wobbled a little with shock. The world wasn't meant to work like this.

The snake slithered out after him. "Curioussss indeed. Do you ssssupposssse, sssspeaker, tha-"

There was a nasty crunch, as of a sharp rock against a snake's skull, and the voice stopped.

Potter recovered his weapon, clubbed the wriggler two more times to be sure, and dragged it back to the caves. Within minutes, the snake had vanished into the big cooking cauldron.

The tribe had held off on eating humans while Potter was learning the clay-shaper's art. The logic, though bemoaned by many, was flawless. It had been reasoned out over the course of several months by Chief Bone and Glurg and Morku the Story-teller, the clan's main – and, truth be told, only – thinkers.

Nobody was to eat Potter because he was to be the new clay-shaper, and a Daylight Face too. Potter was the clay-shaper of Bone Clan. Bone Clan was a clan of trolls. Potter was a troll. Potter was a human. First Finger Rule was, No Troll Eat No Troll. Therefore, no human was to be eaten in case they were in a clan of trolls. Kwed.

A few knocking of heads, and this startling new practise had been accepted by Bone Clan. In recent years, any stray humans that were caught on the mountain had the idea explained to them in Language during the questioning, and unfortunately every single one had proven to be from another tribe of trolls. It was lucky they had started asking, or First Finger Rule would have been broken any number of times!

Of course, no precedent for snake as anything but meat! Potter thought. No grumble to be had there. The boy let loose a fell chortle as he stirred the stew.

There were heavy footfalls, and a vast shape blocked out the morning light for a moment. Glurg stomped in, throwing his baby-elephant-skull helmet into the corner with a clatter.

"Sun up!" he declared cheerfully. "He-Who-Burns sit pretty in der sky! I shun der unscrupulous light dat maim der face-skin without repent!"

Potter nodded back to him, and the troll deposited a sack on the ground with a squelch. "Harvest of meat?"

"Ho yuss. Big harvest of prongbeast in der night. We take Big Meal and then Glurg commit dread snooze."

"So it be." Potter dipped two bowls – one big, one small – into the rusty cauldron.

Glurg joined him in the customary Breaking Of Wind before Big Meal, and then they ate in silence.

Afterwards, Potter's foster father smacked his lips in appreciation. "Dat stick hair on der ribcage! Do Glurg detect slight hint of rancorous hedge-pig and wily ground-wiggler?"

Potter nodded proudly.

"Dat my good boy! You keep hedge-pig prickleskin for to make stylish hat?"

"Yes, Glurg." Potter jerked a thumb at a corner of the cave thronging with blowflies.

"An' good-er yet!" After a hair-ruffling that sent the human child staggering, Glurg sprawled himself across the soft, flat rocks that had been placed there for that purpose.

Potter roared merrily at the mightiness of the snooze his foster father wrestled with. Then he dusted his hands together. Time for clay gathering.

And for Bone Clan, it was another day.

Chapter Three: Appetisers From No One

Summer, the haughtiest season, was just beginning to climb the mountain when the first owl came. So late at night that it was early in the morning, as the young-bloods wrestled around the fire-hole, it winged silently through the clearing in the lee of the cliff towards the caverns.

A hand shot up and seized it in mid-flight. "A meal delivered!" the new owner hooted. "Greetings of my throat, delicious feather-bat!" He ate it quickly before a bigger troll could take it off him, and kicked the remains into the fire, where for a brief moment the words Harry Potter, cave number four, Place of Bones, Very Close Mountain, Wales could be seen before the smoke rose around it.

The next owl was pounced on by Chief Bone's pet manticore.

The third one made it as far as the correct cave when meaty fingers, tipped with nails clumsily painted fuchsia, clamped around its leg. Goarag Daughter-Of-Blouff devoured the creature, letter and all, without waking up. Then she turned over, spooning Glurg like two misshapen grey garlic sausages that had fallen into the cutlery drawn by mistake.

After that, the owls stopped trying. They showed up, circled the graphorn pens, gave a little shrug that was the avian equivalent of "blow this for a game of soldiers", and flew back.

This went on for a week – not that any of the Bone Clan noticed – and then something changed.

Chapter Four: The Keeper Of The Keys

Potter was awakened before dawn from a delicious dream of crunchy centipedes. Raised voices were echoing off the cliff face outside. He wrapped the elk skin around himself and staggered out of the cave, rubbing sleep from his eyes with the knuckles of one hand.

He looked at the stranger with interest. The broad, wildly bearded man had one of the young-bloods in a headlock, while another climbed on his back and grappled with his head. The other young hunters who had stayed up into the start of daylight stood in a circle hooting and hollering and swivelling their fists in the air. Off to one side, a wheeled steed of metal and black hide was humming to itself, hesitantly admired by several trolls of various ages and genders.

As more and more of the clan emerged, Potter automatically climbed on top of a boulder, where he would get a better view of the tussle. It also meant there was less chance he would be crushed by someone's feet. That was never a fun thing to heal.

Chief Bone's unmistakeable bellow brought the proceedings to a halt. A scree slope in a distant valley panicked, packed its boulders, hopped into an avalanche and fled. Even the rising sun might have flinched a little.

The wild-beard dropped the two trolls and brushed himself off sheepishly while Chief Bone strode towards him.

There was a brief altercation as the two met, ending in a double-take from the newcomer as Chief Bone gestured to Potter. Beetle eyes glinted with recognition. Then there were more words. Potter blinked. It sounded almost like the man was trying to speak Language.

Then the behemoth pushed through the crowd to speak to him directly. "Bly-mee, a-ree-pot-tuh, oi av-int seen yeh since yeh wos nee-ii taw ar nee-zill. Hav-int yeh juss sprang up?"

After a moment, the words fell into place. It was a type of Language, Potter realised. The stranger was still speaking it.

"Cor, I reckon someone 'ere needs a bath." The mountain of a man waved a hand in front of his nose. "No offence."

"Who be you?" Potter asked. From his perch on the boulder, the stranger's dark eyes were level with his own.

"Oh, sorry, should o' introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid. Groun'sman an' Keeper o' Keys at 'ogwarts."

"...What be you?" The Rubeushagrid only stood out as a slightly smaller and much hairier blocky shape amidst the amassed wrinkly pyramid shapes. He wasn't a troll, though.

There was a long pause, which the man spent not quite meeting Potter's eyes. "Well, I'm a repr'sentative of th' school, o' course. Dumbledore sent me special – real concerned, he's bin, Harry."

"He has been hairy?"

"No, Harry. That's you, eh."

Potter looked at the Rubeushagrid dubiously. "Elf tricks. My eyes whisper it is you that is hairy."

"No, I – gallopin' gargoyles. I'm sayin' – yer Harry. Harry Potter."

"So you're... Hairy Rubeushagrid?"

The man in the overcoat shook his head in frustration, and then paused. His lips moved silently, and then he raised a mitt to thump his chest. "Jus' Hagrid. That's me. Hagrid." His fist uncurled and a finger pointed at Potter. "Harry. That's you. Harry."

"No. Me Potter."

"Harry Potter."

Potter ran a hand through his locks. "A bit," he admitted. "Me suppose. No lip-bristle like Glurg have though. And Hairier Hagrid, still. How comes you here?"

Hagrid shrugged, giving up on the previous thread of conversation. "Like I said, repr'sentin' th' school. Seems yeh weren't getting' yer letters – so I'm here to tell yeh all about Hogwarts."

"Is topical cream for dat," came Glurg's voice, and Potter felt two giant fingers come to rest on his shoulders. "For when after you forget to wear ferret for protection. We make fresh from wasp stings ground inna paste with hoofbeast bladder if you want. Five an' half horns, no trouble."

"Eh? I'm talkin' about Harry 'ere goin' ter 'ogwarts School o' Witchcraft an' Wizardry," Hagrid said, looking at Glurg like the troll was daft. Potter appreciated his father's humour, though. None of the other trolls spoke enough Language to really follow it.

He had heard of Hogwarts. Morku had legended about it sometimes, in the sagas of battles fought against goblins and giants and wizards.

After a moment, Potter realised what this meant. Chief Bone did at about the same time, and loomed forward out of the entertained crowd.

"Ohhh, you who are called Hagrid, you conniver of child-wizardry. You is not to take our potter, just when he getting good."

Potter beamed at the Chief's compliment. In front of him, Hagrid and Chief Bone began to debate the proposition. The discussion involved a lot of what was, to trolls, body language.

"We need potter to make cup for water and dish for coals," opined Chief Bone, his point subtly underscored by getting Hagrid in a half-nelson and hitting him with a rock.

"'e's gotta learn magic," Hagrid grunted. "'e's Harry bleedin' Potter." He seemed to realise that his point had been weakened by the ineffectualness of his kicking, and drove an elbow into Chief Bone's gut, to scattered applause. "Besides, it can be dangerous iffen a lad doesn't learn ter control 'is magic! We can't have that."

The troll recovered and bodyslammed him. "We work hard keep him alive twofive years! He stay with us, learn ways of wily troll. Ooh, I sever your giblets withholding delay!"

The onlookers hooted at this, stomping their encouragement or chanting in support of their current favourite. Handfuls of horns changed hands as bets were made over who would win the debate.

"Yeh'll just draw a bunch o' attention from folks," Hagrid said, lashing out at the troll's face. "Yeh don't want that, do yeh? Wizards traipsin' up th' mountain ter see what's goin' on with Harry?" There was a thoughtful susurration from the crowd – trolls didn't care much for trespassers, or wizards, and the split lip was a rhetorical gambit they could appreciate.

"We crush their skull parts with impunity! Boy need manly apron and club of clay wrangler, not little wizard dress and little wizard club!"

Hagrid managed to trip the chieftain, and pressed his advantage. "His parents woulda wanted him ter go!" Trolls didn't really have a sense of family tradition, but the punch to the gut made this rebuttal surprisingly convincing.

A retaliatory uppercut sent one of Hagrid's teeth flying. "Elf spit! He not need wizarding! He become best Daylight Face of Bone Clan, best of all troll clan!"

"He's got ter learn ter be a human, 'e can't be one of yer trolls forever!"

"Says you!"

There was a stalemate, both conversational combatants circling each other and puffing. Both had made good points. There was much pulling of ears from the crowd, displacement activity from fists itching to make it a free-for-all discussion.

"He who teach him learn him no," said Chief Bone quietly.

"I'm not leavin' without 'im," Hagrid said with a scowl.

The chieftain's arms slowly dropped to his sides from the 'pounce' position. Then a cunning look ascended the rugged slope of his face. "A judgement!" he called aloud.

"A judgement!" the tribe roared back good-naturedly. Those who knew what the Language meant looked thoughtful or excited. Others tried to work out what this meant for their bets.

Chief Bone waited until the various attempts to echo his words had ground to a halt, and then looked directly at Hagrid. "You wrestle Old Mother Of The Crags, and we see which way judgement goes."

The wild-beard shrugged. "If that's wha' it takes."

Potter drooped. Hagrid had seemed fun. It didn't seem at all fair that he had to die so soon.

Those of Bone Clan who dared brave the watery dawn light of what looked like an overcast day – mostly the young-bloods and the grizzled hunters – were forming up in a loose pack.

Potter watched as Hagrid whistled a shrill note, and his metal steed leapt into the air, shrinking in size and slipping into his pocket. Things like that... Maybe learning wizarding would be fun.

Except now he wouldn't be, of course.

Old Mother Of The Crags wasn't a member of Bone Clan, per se. After all, there was First Finger Rule to consider. No Troll Eat No Troll, and Old Mother had eaten more trolls than anything anyone had ever heard of.

And that was just the number she'd taken upon herself to catch. The clan's Bone Pit was carved into the side of the mountain near Old Mother's cave for a reason. It was in everyone's best interests that she didn't have to wake up completely for a snack. Every so often, someone annoyed the chieftain enough to be sent to clear the partial skeletons out of the pit and generally tidy up. On most of those days, Old Mother had fresher meat than usual, and the snowline crept down the mountains a little in response.

Potter knew, though, that Old Mother really wasn't so bad, as long as you stayed out of her three-hundred-pace instant death zone. She just slept most of the time. Potter was well aware of the allure presented by having a dire snooze to contend with.

They traipsed out over the slopes, Potter automatically slouching along at the rear.

It had rained in the night, and there was low cloud hanging around; a faint rainbow hung in the air. It meant He-Who-Burns couldn't eyeball the trolls too haughtily with his searing orb, for which they were glad. They showed their appreciation with raucous song and flatulence, the latter of which was strictly the more tuneful sound.

The snowfields stretched above them; the paces lengthened; the path grew steeper. Potter could see out Hagrid near the head of the group, now chatting amiably to Morku the storyteller.

The wavering rainbow met the mountain in the valley below. There was a staccato giggling drone from the crag in the rock where it fell. Potter paused as his keen gaze lit upon a flickering emerald mass in a crevasse, signalling the rare presence of a wild leprechaun colony. He mentally marked the location of the jiggery-menace nest so that he could return later with one of his clay pots and juice them for their golden honey.

"Potter! Keep up!"

Oops. He hastened after his foster father.

Old Mother lived on Fairly Close Mountain, next to Surprisingly Deep Ravine. It took almost an hour at a troll's stride to get there, but Potter was used to long treks. He had done far tougher hikes while lugging fallen trees up the mountain for the fire-pit.

Old Mother's cavern lay dead ahead, separated from the group by five hundred paces of packed snow and sharp rock. Her colossal form was faintly visible in the gloom within.

The trolls arrayed themselves about the landscape, introducing fists to faces in order to get the best ringside seats. Their collective breath hung in the freezing air, adding to the cloud that currently wrapped Fairly Close Mountain like the jaunty scarlet-dyed hedgehog skin wrapped Morku's withered pate.

There were no bets being taken on this one.

Potter scrambled up Glurg's back. His eyes flickered to Chief Bone, who stood to one side, rubbing his gut and clearly already gloating.

"Alrigh' then," said Hagrid, taking off his scarf and folding it neatly on a rock.

Chief Bone grinned, and then cupped his hands and hollered. It took a long time for the echoes to die away.

Eyes flickered open within the cave.

Hagrid took on a calculating look and strode forward, over the packed ice.

Potter wondered if they would even hear a scream.

"...How'd I do, then? Isn't she jus' precious?" Hagrid's voice featured a note of adoration that was more than a little out of place as he tickled the twelve-headed cryohydra under one of her leviathan chins.

It was an open question whether Old Mother could actually feel his fingers through her obsidian scales, but even if it was just the tone of voice the ice monstrosity was reacting to, she rumbled contently, and swished her tail, kicking up a cloud of permafrost.

Her dozen heads drooped a little lower. Each was the size of Hagrid himself, and some bore faint scars from long-forgotten fights with dragons and giants.

A strand of drool dropped to the ground from one of Old Mother's mouths. The substance – a heady mix of various volatile gases that couldn't quite decide whether they were a superdense liquid or an ultracold plasma – hit the rock, which promptly did something that was neither melting nor sublimating. A spray of anti-boiling droplets scattered around, snap-freezing and leaving frosty pockmarks wherever they hit the ground.

Hagrid brushed arctic condensate off his greatcoat with fingers that were starting to go blue. "Bit of a softy really, isn't she? Right luvly creature, though."

Chief Bone was sulking. "I make uproarious party with his ghost," he muttered darkly to nobody in particular.

Hagrid looked over at Potter, who was standing a cautious dozen paces away – along with the other trolls, and trying not to befoul his pants in terror – along with the other trolls.

The beefy man's bushy eyebrows jostled together, perhaps for warmth. "Well then 'arry Potter. A few minutes more with this 'ere beautiful lady an' then I reckon we'd best be off. What do yeh say?"

"Where to?" Potter managed. Old Mother had sleepily closed all twenty-four of her eyes, and one of her legs had started rhythmically thumping the ground. It was getting a little hard to keep his balance.

"Why, Diagon Alley, o' course. I reckon yeh might make quite th' impression."

Author's postulates:

→ The troll prophecy and several minor bits of vocabulary in this diversion are from Discworld, of course.

→ Other troll names, mannerisms, a lot of quirky vocabulary, and even some partial quotes come from: (a) the legend of Bravemule, (b) jbern's classic Bungle in the Jungle, and (c) a couple of WTF, D&D!? columns. Check them out.

→ Like it? Hate it? Want to crusade for me to work it into the actual story? Leave a review!