Digital Dreaming 1.10: “Paying the Troll”

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Previous: Chapter 9, “My Way or the Parkway”

The troll roared and brought his fists down on Sand, knocking him into Val, hard. The two crashed to the ground in a tangle of limbs. Bones snapped and cracked as the troll rained down blow after blow.

After a few moments, the blows slowed. The troll’s eyes narrowed. There were no screams of agony. There were supposed to be screams of agony. Beggings for mercy. Things like that. Something was amiss.

That was the moment that the fetches—the bodies beneath the troll’s feet that bore the likenesses of Sand and Val—burst into flame. The troll screamed and stumbled backward. In that moment, Val lunged from hiding and aimed a blow directly at the troll’s craggy chin. It landed with the full force of Val’s frost giant strength and laid the troll out across the dry bed of Minnehaha Creek.

A trickle of cold water caused the troll to snort and raise his head out of the muddying bed of the creek. It paused when it saw Sand lying in the creek bed, a few feet away.

The dream sorcerer’s eyes were closed. At first glance, he appeared to be crying, but his face was smooth, calm, and the water flowing out from under his eyelids was copious in volume. No one could cry that many tears.

“What—” The troll paused to spit out a rock. “What wrong with your eyes?”

“I gave up my eyes that I might sea,” Sand responded. His voice had a slurred, surreal note to it. “I hope you can swim.”

“Swim? Troll no—”

Sand opened his eyes and an ocean poured out. Amidst the froth and foam were reflected images, fragments of dream: the moon, lovers walking on the beach, pieces of Juliette’s dream from the night before. She didn’t need it anymore, but it could do one more good deed before it passed fully into that place forgotten dreams go.

A massive wave slammed into the troll, picking it up and carrying it rapidly away. Rocks split as the beast’s stony hide slammed into them, propelled by the force of the rushing waters. In moments, the troll was out of sight.

Sand closed his eyes and the flow of water ceased. Val ran across the rocks to help him up.

“That was your plan? Flood the city?”

“The city’ll be fine.” Sand coughed. “The water won’t remain real long enough to do any real damage.”

The sound of a crashing tree echoed from further down the creek.

“Much damage,” Sand corrected.

“So you can make dreams reality,” Van said, as they made their way back onto the path.

“For a little while,” Sand said. “A very little while. And it takes a lot out of you.”

“Dreams are never easy,” Val said.

“And we’ve lost the wisp,” Sand said, looking around. “Fan-tastic.”

“Not exactly,” Val said, scanning the skies. “Look.”

He pointed to a small black speck, drifting from treetop to treetop.

“What’s that?” Sand squinted.

“Vorinn. He’s following the wisp for us.”

Author: Trip Galey

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