Welcome back to the second part of the story. If you missed Tuesday, just know that April was attacked by a troll walking home from seeing a story teller. She made it home only because another troll showed up and they started fighting.
Enjoy the story and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week.
Troll Territory Part Two
Chores the next morning kept April from continuing to hide in bed but she kept an eye on the road as she moved about the yard.
“Heading into town with me?” her father asked.
April took the opportunity to ride instead of walk but when they reached the trees, her father slowed down.
“Wind must’ve been horrible last night,” he observed. Fresh needles covered the road and some smaller aspens bent over.
Opening her mouth, April almost said something but then snapped her lips shut and hummed agreement. Her father would never believe her.
She remained quiet all the way into town, not trusting herself to hold her tongue. After heading into the general store for some coffee and flour, she went to the tavern to wait for her father. He needed wheat ground and would take longer.
Broman moved about behind the bar to the right. April slid onto a stool and rested her arms on the rough wood.
“Cheese and bread?” she asked, hearing her stomach rumble.
Broman eyed her but handed over a plate. He cut a square of cheese from the board against the wall and ripped off a large chink of bread for her. As he added the bread to her plate, she caught sight of his wrist beneath his sleeve.
“Master Broman, what happened!?” She grasped his hand before he pulled away.
“Got careless with a knife.” He extracted his hand from her fingers and pulled his sleeve over the nasty gash.
April frowned but the door behind her distracted her from asking more.
Bailey, a tow headed boy four years younger than her, rushed through the door, banging it against the wall in his haste.
“Gentle on the door,” Broman snapped.
Bailey froze. “Ye…yes, Sir,” he stuttered. Then, seeing her, he grinned. “Your father had to rush home for a horse caught in a fence. He said to walk home again. Paid me a whole dollar to tell you.” And he displayed the coin proudly, like it was one of a kind.
April’s smile fell.
“I best be leaving,” she pushed off her stool.
“Finish you lunch first, girl,” Broman said.
April glanced at the plate, then out the window. She had a few hours before dark but not longer. It was the short time of year.
“Of course, Sir.” She tried to smile but couldn’t quite bring the corners of her mouth up.
Bailey joined her at the bar.
“I could buy some chocolate or maybe a new pair of shoes. Did you dad know I needed a new pair…” he continued to ramble on without waiting for an answer. April let him. It was his way.
Broman moved about but April couldn’t really tell what he was doing besides watching them. He always kept an eye on the kids that passed time at the tavern.
Finishing her lunch, April paid for it and went to leave. Bailey’s hand darted out to grab her shoulder.
“Stay for the storyteller?” he begged. “I missed him last night and it’s his last night in town. Mum and Da won’t let me stay without you to walk home with me.”
April’s stomach clenched. Her ‘no’ caught in her throat at the look on Bailey’s face. He didn’t get to do much in town because his parents demanded he walk home with someone.
But since he was already in town, she knew he’d say she was with him whether she stayed or not. He’d walk the road alone if she didn’t stay.
Swallowing the lump building in her throat, she placed a smile on her face.
“All right,” she said.
“Snap!” Magellon’s hands flew into the air. “The branch broke, sending the beast tumbling into the river.”
Everyone sighed. April pulled at Bailey’s fingers on her arm but, even though the suspense was over, he wouldn’t let go. Now he was hanging on with excitement.
“Can you believe it!” he whispered. “That was awesome.”
April gave a soft hum of agreement. She hadn’t really heard the story, and the knot in her stomach grew tighter the longer the evening went on.
Magellon bowed as he gathered his scarves off the floor. They were of all types of colors and shapes and he’d used them in his story to show the river, or the sun, or even the trees.
The kids groaned as he pocketed the scarves and gathered his cloak.
“One more, please!” one girl begged.
“I’m sorry, little lady,” Magellon smiled at her. “I require sleep sometimes. But I promise I’ll come back.”
The kids cheered and then fell silent as the storyteller gave a sweep of his cloak and disappeared upstairs.
Bailey’s hand finally relaxed.
“That was so awesome,” he said again.
“Good night, Master Broman,” April called.
The tavern keeper waved from behind the bar as she and Bailey ducked out the door. With the rush of kids, April didn’t think about the walk home until she and Bailey were away from Main Street and onto the dark stretch to the ranch. Her bag, full of the flour and coffee she’d bought, slapped softly against her leg as they walked.
“Did you see when he was juggling six of the scarves?” Bailey shouted the question.
April jumped. “I was there too,” she mumbled. Only part of her heard as Bailey continued to chatter.
Something rustled in the trees to the right of the road. April spun.
“What’s up with you? The ranches are that way, not that way. There’s nothing…”
“Shhh,” April said as something snapped. Then, when another sound indicated the thing was coming closer, “run, Bailey.”
April turned and ran but then looked back when Bailey didn’t keep up with her. “Run!”
He hadn’t moved. Instead, he stood frozen, staring at a large, dark shape racing toward him.
He didn’t hear her. The creature overtook him and he disappeared.
“Bailey!” April fumbled in her bag and pulled out a handful of flour. “Hey, you! Yeah you, the troll!”
She couldn’t tell much other than the thing moved. Maybe it turned. At least she imagined it turned.
Pulling back, she threw the flour at the creature. It reared back but didn’t let go of Bailey.
April reached into her bag again, intending to throw the coffee beans. Something shoved her from behind. She hit the ground, rolling head over heals.
When April looked up, there were two trolls and Bailey sat crouched under their feet. They wrestled back and forth, knocking into trees. April untangled herself from her bag and crept forward.
“Bailey,” she whispered.
He didn’t answer.
April crept farther forward and reached out to grasp Bailey’s shoulder. Before she touched him, she glanced at the trolls and froze.
One of them was covered in white flour. Its large eyes bulged, too large for its other features. With a sudden move, it darted for Bailey and snatched him from under her hand.
“No!” April swallowed her shout as the other troll looked at her. Instead of going for her, though, it shouted what April thought must be frustration and took off after the other troll.
April ran after and stopped a short ways into the trees. Bailey lay on the ground. Grasping his shoulder, she rolled him over.
“Wow, April,” he muttered, “it saved me.”
“The bug eyed one grabbed me and the other one pulled me free.”
They froze as a large shape came out of the trees.
At first April didn’t see it but then she looked at more than just the creature’s face. Rising to her feet, she stepped toward the troll and reached a tentative hand out to grasp his arm.
He didn’t pull away as she looked at the gash running from his wrist to his elbow.
“Get this the other night?” She asked.
The troll didn’t answer.
“Thank you for saving us…Broman.”
As she watched, the troll shrank into the familiar tavern keeper she’d known her whole life.
“Broman? Really?” Bailey shot to his feet and rushed over to hug the man.
“Let me walk you home,” Broman offered. “I’ll explain on the way. Just promise me you’ll avoid storytellers will big eyes from now on.” He pulled out a yellow scarf from his pocket. “I knew he’d come after you when I checked his room and found it empty, except for this.”
“He’s gone now?” April asked.
“Oh yes,” Broman said. “He won’t enter my territory again.”