Bubbles rose from green depths. A moonlit watery expanse, a lake green with seaweed, was still, then suddenly disturbed, as Winstabar appeared inexplicably at the surface. Breathing heavily in his frailty, he swam to a wooden pier, where he clung for a few moments to the supports, mustering his energy, before clambering and hoisting himself up to the top.
The village before him was a run-down and ramshackle collection of brick houses and wooden huts, spread with harsh electric lights - many broken - and loose telephone wires. From half-eaten poles shredding their way out into the lake, Winstabar observed the monstrous white eyes of seagulls glaring. He breathed in the darkness, and moved steadily along the pier towards the yellow glow, for a few seconds seeming to be heading directly towards the pavement, but instead turning onto another wooden walkway leading to the right.
"Evenin'" said a lone fisherman from a lantern-lit dinghy. "Who's that there?"
"Winstabar," Winstabar replied as he passed the man by, adding, without turning round "is Goren about?"
"Well I don' know 'bout that, try inside his house. Wait, Winstabar did you say?"
The man peered down from his boat. "Say, it is you" he said. After a few seconds of silence, he added "on you go". Winstabar did, while the fisherman only chuckled to himself.
Said house was soon within sight. Swamped right into the water and concealed by trees, black and dripping in the night, was a small windowed cottage encased in criss-crossed barbwire fencing, only accessible by walkway. From the top, standing astride a rusty and rattling weathervane, another seagull watched the intruder complacently. Then, as Winstabar turned towards the building, it started shrieking and crying, beating its wings with unrestrained fury. Immediately, a faint roar and a few tumbling objects could be heard inside. This did not slow Winstabar's footsteps, though his knocking at the front door were interrupted by the mail-slot slamming open, from within which two yellow-tinted beady eyes suddenly widened. The mail-slot was immediately slammed shut, the sounds of locks unclicking could be heard before the door was flung open, revealing a lumberous green creature with black stumpy horns and a pig's snout, dressed in leather jacket and jeans. No time passed at all before its great fingers were around Winstabar's neck, and even less time before he was being thrown at the mahogany and granite walls of the house.
"Goren, please..." began Winstabar.
"Gaaahhhh!" interrupted Goren, as he picked him up again, and threw him onto a checkered carpet. Around him, lamps and lanterns blazed, their reflections dancing off a barrack's worth of weapons lining the walls. Groaning, and already badly bruised, it was all Winstabar could do to roll onto his side and put up his hand. Goren grabbed it without mercy, and began to twist, before grabbing the little vodyanoy's neck and pinning him to the rug. Blinded by the lights, Winstabar winced as he looked up into the raging eyes of his attacker.
"I could kill you... If I wanted to" Goren growled, before tightening his grip and adding "right... now..."
"...and where would you be then?" Winstabar managed.
"What, you mean the atlantean? Pah, I don't need you. My trolls are tracking her down right now."
Winstabar struggled, but squeezed out a shake of the head.
"Not her..." he said. "Harongue... where would that be? Dain and Gorena... where would they be, Goren?"
Goren's eyes grew madder and madder, his body clenching. For a moment, Winstabar felt the hand around his neck grow suddenly tighter, before it shuddered away. He cluched his sides, and , spluttering into the floor, slowly reached an upright position.
"Damn you" snarled Goren. "The Devil damn you a thousand times."
"I would be quiet were I in your position" Winstabar croaked quietly when he had finished spluttering.
"...tell temperamental old Fenrir about your harsh words? Maybe it depends on the truth of that statement."
Goren, still trembling with rage, stood up. "Which statement?" he said after a few seconds.
"Trolls looking for the Atlantean as we speak" said Winstabar, before looking up into the cold, glaring eyes of the troll without so much as batting an eyelid. "You can help me find her then."