It was cold and grey, and very hard to tell whether the moisture slowly soaking him to the bone was the sea-spray or a light drizzle. To Henry Gordon Jago, it was the perfect weather for finding a music hall and scouting the local talent – in a strictly non-professional capacity of course, since his enforced retirement. And yet, here he was instead clambering around the underside of a pier looking for a troll. Litefoot told him it would be good for his health, but frankly he thought a cigar and a nip of brandy would be much more efficacious.
‘My word,’ breathed Litefoot.
At least the good Professor wasn’t one for ignoring his own advice.
‘Well, George,’ Jago breathed. ‘There’s your troll.’
There it was indeed. Grey skinned and squat, it was splashing around in the water under the pier. Paddling? Looking for fish? Jago couldn’t guess. Instead of a head as a normal man would know it, it had a large grey dome with two slit-eyes cut in it and a sharp tongue flicking out of a small mouth. And it was looking up at them.
No, it was charging up at them.
‘Henry,’ said Litefoot nervously. ‘I think perhaps –’
And then the creature had him by the throat, throttling the very life out of him. It gurgled and hissed as it attacked, flecks of its spittle peppering the Professor’s face. George Litefoot himself was starting to turn an alarming shade of purple.
‘Henry!’ choked Litefoot.
‘Mr Troll,’ Henry babbled. ‘My good friend and myself are here on the express wishes of Her Majesty the Queen and we are empowered to offer certain assistance in the recovery of your vessel – goodness me – if you will use your skills in the service of –’
The creature stopped throttling Litefoot, and glared at Henry.
‘What kind of assistance?’ it hissed sibilantly.
Henry had to wait for his heart to settle before answering.