Welcome to Tuesday=) In hopes of brightening your week, Adventure Awaits You brings you a short story involving a young girl and trolls. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy=)
“You know,” the storyteller leaned in and the kid’s eyes widened, “trolls like to smash into houses in the dark of night and take children!”
They gasped, April included although she was a few years older than the rest.
“With their hammer fists and their…”
“Enough!” Broman, the tavern keeper, glared. “You’re here to amuse them, not scare nightmares out of them.”
The storyteller, Magellon by name, bowed his curly head. “Of course, Sir. My apologies.”
Broman huffed but went back to cleaning tables.
April’s eyes followed him as his heavy frame moved smoothly between the chairs. She’d always trusted Broman. As Magellon picked up a new, happier tale, the tavern keeper’s eyes watched him with a slight narrowing.
He doesn’t trust him.
April looked back to the storyteller, trying to figure out why but she couldn’t place a reason. Magellon boasted broad shoulders and a wide face with eyes a bit too large for the rest of his features but other than this oddity, he gave off a friendly air. Perhaps too friendly. Maybe Broman found the man too much.
Letting it go, April settled back to the tale Magellon was weaving about fairies stealing fruit from the trees.
He finished and began packing up for the night. A few kids begged him for more but Magellon smiled and shook his head.
“Need sleep and rest for my voice,” he said.
With him disappearing upstairs, the tavern floor cleared of kids. April swung her cloak about her shoulders and called a good night to Master Broman before ducking out after the rest.
The chill night air bit at her nose as she walked home. She passed the town lanterns on Main Street and headed out into the night for her parent’s ranch. Although she’d walked the dark stretch of road hundreds of times, the night seemed more sinister than usual. Perhaps it was because Bailey, her friend from the farm nearest her parent’s, wasn’t with her. Or perhaps it was because it was a new moon and only a few stars pricked the darkness of the sky above. She should have brought a lantern but forgot it in her hast and excitement to see the storyteller.
“Stupid April,” she scolded under her breath.
A twig popped and she jumped. Her heart hit her throat. She imagined giant troll feet snapping bits of trees. Shaking her head hard, she continued on.
“Stop imagining things.”
But a moment later another twig popped and then the sound of running feet. Heavy, running feet. Glancing back, April spotted a black shape racing toward her from the trees. It was too dark to see its full size but that didn’t matter, it was a lot bigger than her fourteen-year-old frame.
Whimpering, she took off down the road. The barn, the first building on the ranch, wasn’t in sight yet. April pushed harder but there was a low grunt and something shoved her from behind.
She skinned her hands as she hit the dirt. Before she could roll away or push back up to run again, a bag was thrown over her head.
There was a thud and April flew to the side along the ground. The hand disappeared. Heavy scuffling and grunts came from only a few feet away.
Tearing the bag from her head, April stared at two things wrestling. It was too dark to tell anything other than that they were big. Trolls!
April spun and ran. The scuffling continued behind her until she reached the house and bolted through the door. Once it was secure, she leaned against it and stared at the familiar surroundings in the light of the lantern her mother left burning. The scared dining table. The rack for their boots and the hooks above it for their cloaks. The bucket for washing cloths and the washboard. It all had a simple, reassuring feel.
As her breath evened, she imagined she could still hear the faint fighting of the two trolls.
Heading for bed, she crawled in, cloths and all, and covered her head with the blankets, trying to block out the frightening sound. If she didn’t know better, she’d think it was just the wind in the trees or the horses being restless in the barn. But she knew better.
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 chunk 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.”