Part One – More to come.
Owl and Raccoon were following a stream away from the river when they heard the cry. They ran toward the sound, chests puffed out like knights dashing to save damsels.
Instead they found a troll huddled and rocking gently, leaning against a water wheel bubbling with rust the colour of autumn leaves. They slowed, crouched and slipped forward. The troll sobbed and sniffed and babbled to itself. A leaf crunched under Owl’s foot.
The troll looked up, eyes and nose running so much as to make the stream jealous.
“You bad boys take goat?” the troll asked, “love that goat.”
After convincing and consoling the troll, Owl and Raccoon offered to look for the goat. They investigated the pen. Chewed tin cans, carrot tops and ignored apples littered the muddy ground. A frayed rope fluttered in the breeze.
“There must be footprints,” Owl said, pulling out a magnifying glass and stooping over. Raccoon took in the larger view. The gulley looked like something split the earth with a giant axe. The vertical walls were covered in densely packed trees and slippery moss.
Owl confirmed his suspicions by finding a cloven trail leading along the stream away from the stone hut.
They followed the footprints along the stream. They turned a corner and found a small log cabin in the middle of field of wild grasses.
Owl and Raccoon adjusted their fedoras and tightened the knots in their ties. They squinted and stuck their jaws out and knocked at the screen door. A dwarf woman answered. She wiped her hands on a flour-powdered apron stared at them crookedly.
“Hello ma’am,” Raccoon said. “My partner and I are investigating a missing goat. Have you seen one come by this way?”
“That goat runnof ag’in?” she asked. “Nope. Ain’t seen it. Sorry officers.”
Owl and Raccoon scraped the last of the blueberry pie from their plates as the dwarf told them the goat was always running away.
“Wanders back once his belly starts a-growling,” she said. “Just likes to make that poor troll worry, if you ask me. Not that she don’t enable it. Build a better fence, I said. Even offered to help her build it. Women need to stick together, y’know. Especially out here.”
Owl and Raccoon nodded. They thanked her for the pie and the information and started for the pond she told them about, hoping the goat was there.