Stan, the DMV driving tester, held it together when Garbol the wizard herded a troll back into his cave with the Pinto. He tolerated it when the goblin jumped on the hood and the wizard turned it to stone. Leading the hellhounds into the tunnel going under the river, on the other hand, took Stan far past his limit.
“What the hell is going on,” he yelled.
“I don’t know,” said Garbol, swerving to get by an animal carcass, he drove out of the tunnel and swung his pool stick behind him, almost jabbing Stan in the eye. A mist of green formed at the tip, traveled through the glass of the back window, and spread across the tunnel entrance. “There’s a concentration of bad juju around here somewhere.”
The hellhounds stopped in midair at the end of the tunnel as if they’d run into an invisible sheet.
“We’ve got to find it,” said the wizard.
“Can’t you drop me back at the DMV first?” asked Stan.
“I doubt we’ll have the opportunity. You got a map?”
“No, I don’t have a map.” Stan pulled out his phone. “Do I look medieval?”
“Don’t knock medieval,” said the wizard.
“I’ve got the GPS on my phone. What do you need?”
“Find where the troll appeared, where the goblin dropped in, and where we first saw the hellhounds.”
Garbol turned onto the parkway to take them back where’d they’d come from.
“I’ve got ‘em,” said Stan.
Stan held up the phone. “Eyes on the road.”
“I’m good.” Garbol looked at the screen.
Stan pointed. “Here, here, and here.”
“What’s that in the middle of them?”
“Here we go.” Garbol floored it, and the Pinto whined as it slightly sped up.
“Ah, man.” Stan pulled on his fingers. “Pushing it like that won’t make it explode, will it?”
Garbol ignored him. Stan had discovered after starting the drivers test that the wizard held the car in stasis, keeping an explosion in the back trapped in time as long as he owned it.
Garbol turned off the parkway and sped to the park, coming in too fast and screeching to a stop right next to the park sign, half up on the curb. He grabbed his pool stick and got out, swishing the cue through the air as if using it to sense something.
Screams arose off in the distance. Garbol and Stan broke into a run toward it. They came upon a sitting area with a blond-bearded man wearing coveralls in the middle, holding his balled fists outward, the power crackling from them.
“Warlock,” said Garbol. “I’ve seen this one before.”
Tarry black oozed from the warlock’s arms, stretching in many directions, surrounding several people, pinning their arms and legs or enshrouding their heads. Several small burrow trolls pawed at them or brought more victims close enough to be captured by the ooze. The captives sobbed, yelped, and growled, trying to get free.
Garbol strode up to the warlock and whipped his pool stick toward him. Garbol flew violently back as if an invisible wrecking ball hit him.
Stan ran to him. “Are you okay?”
The wizard lay stunned. “He’s got some kind of talisman. It’s probably why he’s here.”
Stan helped him to his feet, and held him up to step toward the warlock.
“See the statue of the mayor next to him,” said Garbol. “That’s the talisman. I’d bet my car on it.” He nudged Stan to let him stand on his own. His voice boomed. “Warlock. Let everyone go.”
The warlock shook his head. “A talisman like this is a rare thing. I’m going to destroy everyone and everything I can, including you, until I can’t do anything else.” He spoke matter-of-factly, like he was doing something as normal as cooking a meal.
The wizard looked worried. “Wouldn’t you rather take it with you and use its power for the best possible outcome?”
“Hah. That was my original intent before I knew how big it was, but you can see it’s too cumbersome to carry.”
“If you stop attacking innocent people, I’ll let you take it in my car.”
The ooze weakened.
“Tell me your name, and I can give you my word.”
The ooze receded, and people stumbled or crawled away. The trolls looked around like someone stole their candy, then gathered around the warlock.
“Mortimer,” said the warlock.
“Mortimer, upon my staff I give my wizard’s word that I will give you my car to take the talisman and drive away with it.”
Stan helped pull the statue down as Garbol pulled the Pinto up next to it. They packed it in the back seat, the mayor’s head hanging out the window.
Mortimer grabbed a troll by the ear. “Shashak, drive it to my domicile.”
Garbol’s face darkened.
Mortimer sneered. “You didn’t think I’d let you follow it, did you?”
The troll climbed in the driver seat and started the car.
“Fine,” said Garbol. As the troll pulled away, he conjured a document and a pen from thin air. “Here’s the deed. I’ll sign it over to you.” He turned Stan around and lay the paper on his back. Stan felt the pen point move.
The Pinto reached the entrance to the park and pulled out onto the street.
Garbol finished writing, transferring ownership to Mortimer, and the Pinto exploded.
The warlock’s face turned beet red. “Treachery!”
“Caveat emptor, pal.”