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January 3rd, 2017

Fell in
"Come on Joe, I've heard the pond in this cave is filled with bioluminescent algae and glows at night. Let's go see."

"We can't go in that cave at night..." I stopped talking as Renny had already disappeared into the cave and couldn't hear me anyway.

I have a choice here, I can stay in the relative safety of our camp or I can go in and try to keep Renny alive long enough to get paid. Unfortunately I need money to eat so I ran into Phelin's cave.

Renny was standing by this muddy pond that only a tourist could enjoy. He took pictures and seemed unnaturally happy.

"Ok, Renny. This is important: don't say a word. This isn't just a cave. This is the cave we spent a good chunk of our hike talking about. Saying the cave owner's name will summon him. And he is big. And will be unhappy. And hungry. It would be the last thing we wouldn't want."

Renny stared at me with the look of a deer staring at a fire, and then responded. "This pond...is...amazing! Come take my picture. Wait for a little wave too, it makes a neat sparkle. Everybody's going to love this back home."

"Ok, Renny. I'll take your picture and then we leave. Deal?"


I took his phone while he posed for a shot. I didn't want to stick around this cave longer than needed, so I tried to get a good picture right off the bat. "Ok, take a step back. I want to get the whole pond in the frame. I'll take this one picture, then we need to get out of here."

Renny took a step back, and sunk his foot straight into the pond. He shrieked, "I fell in!" I think he was overreacting a bit.

Suddenly there was a low rumbling noise. It progressed quickly to actual shaking, and then the entire cave filled with dust. It seemed like it should have been smoke given that it was a magical event. But the odor definitely gave it away as just ordinary dust. Maybe it was just loosened from the shaking walls? As the dust dissipated, a large troll became visible, blocking the only way out of the cave. It wasn't a particularly bad looking troll, but even a good looking troll is menacing enough.

It opened its mouth to speak. I was quicker though, "Renny, run!" We both ran deeper into the cave. This might seem like a bad idea to you, but our choice was between a troll and unknown darkness. One of these is guaranteed to be bad; the other is just probably bad.

About ten feet in, we discovered the back of the cave. I happily stayed in the darkness, but Renny walked back out to the glowing pond and faced the troll. I could have gone out there to help him, but I figured I wasn't going to get any money out of him now. And I was hoping trolls were really bad at counting.

The troll spoke, "Me is Phelin. You have wake me. Now me need eat you."

Renny stared at him for some time, then responded, "You...are...awesome! Can I get a picture with you? I have never seen a real troll. This is amazing!"

This was a confusing response. And not just for me, the troll also just stood there with his mouth open. Renny didn't wait for an answer. He walked right over, put an arm around the troll and posed for a selfie. He took two pictures before the troll snapped back.

"No! You call my name. Now me eat you."

I stepped forward. The troll looked completely surprised to see me. I immediately regretted coming out as apparently they are very bad at counting. "Ummm, excuse me. Mr. Troll we did not summon you. Neither I nor my associate Renny have said your name. There must be some mistake."

"No! Me hear my name. Me name Phelin. Now me eat you."

Renny and I both looked at each other, completely confused. "Renny, did you say this troll's name? I know I didn't."

There was a transformation in Renny's face. It started out with confusion, then a spark of recognition, then a look of smug happiness. He turned to the troll, "I said I FELL IN to the pond. I didn't say your name at all. This is all just a misunderstanding."

It took me about four seconds to process what had happened. I was filled with relief, for about a second. Then I felt the type of complete anxiety that can only come about when one's life depends on explaining a logical argument to a troll who can't count to two.

It took a few attempts. We all sat down on rocks and explained what happened. Renny pantomimed out the events that led to "FELL IN" being exclaimed. We all repeated the words "FELL IN" and "PHELIN" several times. Technically we were actually saying his name now, but it didn't seem to matter. Eventually Phelin got it. I got the camera for a proper picture of the two of them, and he poofed away. No theatrics this time at all. Just a quiet, non-shaky non-dusty poof. I guess there's no reason to dress up this part of the act if everybody left is usually eaten. So Renny and I walked out and went back to our camp.

"Joe, that was awesome! Thank you." He rummaged through his backpack and pulled out two gold coins. "Here's today's pay." Then he pulled out another two coins. "And here's extra for this night excursion. You really are the best."

I grabbed the coins and let their weight sit in my hands. This was enough to last me two months. I could go home and be safe for two months. Now that is awesome.

"Joe, I cannot wait to see Razor Mountain tomorrow. I hope it's just as exciting as today."

I resignedly replied, "Renny, I can't wait either."