Letters from a Troll (PG)

By Jason – age 10
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 Letters from a Troll

By Lyn Garrett

Chapter 21

Dear friend,

By midnight, my soldiers were at their stations in preparation for the attack. We had no idea when the nymphs would come, but we were sure of two things: it would be tonight, and it would be when the nymphs would expect us all to be asleep, with the exception of the few soldiers assigned to guard the castle.

On purpose, I placed only two soldiers on the castle roof looking out over the front and rear of the castle, and none overlooking the sides. This was intended to fool the nymphs into thinking they had an easy way in on either side. Of course, the inside of the castle was heavily defended by my best soldiers.

We all waited quietly at our posts. Having the talent to become invisible becomes handy in situations such as this. Against Erica’s opposition, I was armed and fully intended to join in the fight. I will not have my warriors fighting without me at their side. It was deathly quiet in the castle.  At three o’clock in the morning, I was becoming sleepy and wishing the nymphs would come already, when suddenly I heard a sound. There was a soft click as a window was unlocked with some kind of tool, and then it opened.

I raised my palm to steady the soldiers who could see me. Quietly, the nymphs began to enter the castle through the window. We held our breath and waited until the small party of nymphs entered the window. We were sure there were many more outside and this party was sent to scout the situation, kill as many of us as they could while we slept, and sound an alarm as soon as a troll made any sound at all. We would then be rushed by the crowd of nymph soldiers waiting outside.

The nymphs split up and began entering the sleeping chambers. I grinned as I was sure they would be shocked to find only a line of pillows under each and every blanket, on each and every bed in the castle. The servants, of course, were safely locked in the cellar and would make their way out when the secret word was uttered by one of my warriors.

I gestured to my soldiers, and they silently followed the nymphs as they entered the various sleeping chambers. I really did not want to hurt any nymphs, so the soldiers were under orders to try to minimize casualties by knocking the nymphs senseless, tying them up, and shoving gags in their mouths. I heard much huffing and puffing as I entered one of the sleeping chambers after a particularly large nymph. I moved quietly in my stocking feet. We were not wearing our boots in order to be as stealthy as possible. I approached the nymph from behind just as he lifted a blanket from one of the beds, surely expecting to find a sleeping troll underneath. As I heard him gasp, I quickly pounded the top of his head with my sword. He fell to the floor immediately and I quickly bound him up and stuffed a stocking in his mouth to keep him quiet him when he awoke.

Now to deal with the many more nymphs outside. This will require a more complicated plan.

Your Servant,

His Royal Highness, Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

By Lyn Garrett

Chapter 20

Dear friend,

Princess Lau looked as lovely as ever, waiting for me patiently on our log. Her face lit up like an explosion when she saw me walking across the meadow. She immediately stood up. “Your Highness.” She bowed, gracefully. I groaned. “You’ve heard, then.” She grinned, and said, “What happens inside castle walls is not always private.” She suddenly became serious. “In fact,” she added, “something is supposed to happen tonight, but I have no idea what it is. Everyone’s lips are sealed shut on this subject and so are their minds. I can’t pick up any thoughts that make sense!”

I heaved a sigh of relief and plopped down on the log, my head in my hands. “What vexes thee, Barnabus?” Both of her hands were on my forearm. I waited a moment, took a deep breath, and spoke. “Promise me you will not leave your castle tonight, not under any circumstances, no matter what?” She looked puzzled. “Why?” she asked quietly. “I need you to be safe,” I responded. “You must trust me on this. Do not leave your castle. What happens tonight is of no matter whatsoever. Do not worry. Just do as I ask. Please?” She stared into my eyes for a moment and then nodded her assent.

We separated after a long hug and I watched her walk through the trees to meet the servant girl who, thank goodness, was always at her side. I then mounted my unicorn, Dex, and returned to my castle. It would be several hours before the siege was to begin. I needed to inform my warriors and assign them to their posts.

Upon returning to the castle, I was approached by my spy, Erica. “Your Highness.” She bowed. “Stop that!” I roared. She giggled. Even as King I am not taken seriously! She straightened up and composed herself. “What are your orders with regard to the siege, Your Highness?”  I explained how we were to repel the enemy’s advance, and sent Erica to inform every soldier in our army of their orders for the counter-attack. I just hope this unpleasant business can be concluded without many casualties on either side.

Forever Your Servant,

His Royal Highness, Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

By Lyn Garrett

Chapter 19

Dear friend,

I cannot describe to you the heartache I feel! Do I tell Treacle the truth of what I know and banish him from our kingdom? What about my Princess Lau? Is she a conspirator in all of this, or can I trust her? Even though I am King now, I am still but the son of a peasant, and rose to this position by the grace of Lady Luck. How can I know whether to trust my own judgment?

I walked the castle, as I sometimes do, and finally decided to send Treacle on a false errand. I also chose to involve Prince Terence. No one is more trustworthy than this man who rarely speaks. I knocked on his door and he opened it almost immediately, looking healthy and happy. “Ah, my King!” He bowed and I almost gagged. “Terence, stop that! You know I am uncomfortable with this new title.” Terence assented and escorted me into his room. “I have uncovered information that our friend, Treacle, is not to be trusted. I must send him on an errand.” “Well,” Prince Terence folded his hands, “I have not been hunting in a long while and I am eager for some fresh venison. How about I disappear and you send Treacle to look for me?”

The idea was both ludicrous and brilliant. “Then it is so. Leave immediately, as there will be violence tonight and I want you away and safe.” I was having trouble with Terence’s light-hearted mood, but tried to grin a lopsided grin. Terence was serious for a moment. “Barnabus, do you need me here with sword in hand, as a warrior?” He stared straight into my eyes and waited for a response. I turned my back, “No. I want you far away and safe, my friend. I cannot stand to lose you again.” He bowed, graciously. “I will follow my King’s orders to a ‘T’ and disappear. But, leave it to Treacle to find me. He has a keen sense of my patterns.” He grinned, turned, and began packing his things.

I dragged myself down to the foundry, finding many men working on new swords, shields and armor. I approached Treacle. “My friend,” I lied, “Prince Terence has disappeared again. Please find him! It is of the utmost importance!” Treacle gazed upon me. He had been informed of my, shall we say, promotion. “Your wish is my command, Your Highness,” he said in a very ungracious tone. I ignored his apparent disdain, patted him on the shoulder and said, “I know you will succeed. Leave immediately.” He nodded and began to gather his things.

Now is the time to consider Princess Lau. Should I involve her in this intrigue, or let her lie unawares? It is only a matter of hours before the impending coup attempt. There is barely enough time for me to see her and still be back in time to help fend off the rebel attack. I suppose that if she is indeed a double spy, then there would hardly be enough time for her to relay any useful intelligence back to the nymphs anyway, so the question is moot. If, on the other hand, she is my true love, then none of this matters. I sent the messenger to ask her to meet me at our log near the Sacred Land. I must admit I am desperate to see her.

Your Servant,

His Royal Highness, Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 18

Dear friend,

My first act as king was not one to be proud of. I sent my trusted spy, Erica, to the nymph castle to be an invisible vessel that collects all conversation related to this upcoming war. She was gone only a half-day and returned, breathless, running to me when she first saw me. She stopped abruptly and bowed hesitantly. “Stop that!” I commanded. She grinned, “Art thou to be an ungracious king, then?” I ignored her and sighed. “What have you to report to me, Erica?”

She became serious and approached me quickly, hands clasped with pale knuckles. “The nymphs mean to stage a coup tonight and have plans to storm our castle!” She let this information sink in and then explained the entire events of the day:

“I was invisible, like you asked, and overheard Lady Tiffany and Earl Hammond conversing in hushed tones. I approached and heard Hammond say, ‘What’s the point? The war will begin at dawn tomorrow. We will win it quickly and the land will be ours!’

Lady Tiffany shook her head, ‘Hammond, you are too confident. If we lose this war, the trolls will maintain control for seven more months, and I know Barnabus is suspicious! He may even know about the gold, and that will give the trolls time to dig out the entire vein before we have a chance. You and Treacle are so agonizingly slow when you dig.’ She turned her back on him in frustration.

Hammond moved around and faced her. ‘I agree Treacle is an obstacle we did not count on. Had he not caught me digging in the first place, we would not have been forced to include him in our find. Nevertheless, I am confident that your lack of faith in our army is unfounded. I am not worried about this war.’ He folded his arms and widened his stance, looking ferocious indeed.

Lady Tiffany’s face was suddenly filled with lightning and she smiled an evil smile. ‘Hammond. We will take the troll castle tonight, while they are asleep and unaware! Our nymphs are armed and ready. We must take the castle tonight!’ Hammond considered this and finally nodded his assent. ‘Alright, my love, I will inform the troops to be ready to travel at midnight. I am eager to get on with this battle as it is.’ He kissed Lady Tiffany lightly on the cheek and strode away.”

“I came as fast as I could to tell you, uh, Your Highness! We need to inform our troops, but what shall we do about Treacle?” Her eyes were downcast. She knew Treacle was my friend. I froze when I heard Treacle was involved in this conspiracy. The thought that my friend took a part in all of this evil had me rooted to my spot. “I will deal with Treacle,” I said. “Inform the Captain of the Guard and tell him not to relay this information to the troops until Treacle is gone.”

Erica rushed away as I began to breathe again. I must send Treacle on a fake mission so he may not hamper our efforts to repel the nymph invasion. We will be ready tonight, and my friend, the traitor, will be nowhere near this castle when the fight ensues.

Your Servant,

His Royal Highness, Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 17

Dear friend,

I was in shock, on one knee, in front of the door of Terence, our king, who had just abdicated his throne to me. After a moment, I felt the presence of someone behind me. I turned and found my trusted spy, Erica, standing quietly behind me. Her face looked just as shocked as I am sure mine did. “He just made you king.” she said, her voice quavering. I slowly rose to face her. “What in the world am I to do now?” I asked, beseechingly. Erica thought for a moment and then grinned. “Be king” she said, and walked away with a noticeable bounce in her step.

Word spread fast. It seemed everyone in the castle knew I had been crowned king before I even had time to absorb the fact myself. I wandered the castle for a bit, receiving congratulations, while my mind was truly in a fog. I returned to Terence’s room and tentatively knocked. “Terence, please, we must talk.” There was a long silence, and then the door opened. Terence had bathed and trimmed his hair and beard. He looked much happier and at peace. As shocked as I was to suddenly find myself king, it was perhaps even more stunning to see Terence looking so much like his old self!  I stammered, “Terence! You look, uh…, happier?” “My friend, you have no idea the weight you have removed from my shoulders!” Terence actually hopped a bit and danced away to his dresser. He grabbed something off the dresser and pranced back to the doorway with what I recognized as the king’s crown in his hands.

Terence became serious for a moment. “We can conduct the ceremony at a later date. It is important that you wear this, especially now that we are at war. No one would dare kill a troll king!” he said, seeming not to remember what had started us all down this road just a few short weeks ago. He again placed his hand on my shoulder and gently pushed me down to one knee. “Bow your head to me, Barnabus, for it will be the last time you bow to anyone.” I did as he asked and he moved the crown toward me.  “We trolls are very fortunate, indeed, to have someone as brave and true as our king.” He placed the crown on my head, moved past me and literally skipped away down the corridor that leads to the kitchen.

Your Servant,

His Royal Highness,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 16

Dear friend,

The fight moved out into the alcove. The clanging of swords, shouting and groaning made me unsheathe my sword and I began to climb from under the table. A cool hand gripped my wrist. “Please don’t leave me. I am frightened.” Princess Lau looked into my eyes with tears brimming at the edges of her own. She had never looked more beautiful.

I felt torn in two. I was aching to fight with my comrades but this nymph, who I now know I loved, was begging me to stay with her. I shook with rage at my dilemma, but put my arm around her waist and whispered, “Of course, my love,” into her hair. I was about to tear my own hair out when a high, shrill voice rose above the ruckus. “Stop this immediately!!” Lady Tiffany shouted. No one had ever heard Lady Tiffany shout, so they actually did stop fighting. “Nymphs, go to our castle. Prepare your armor and weapons. Trolls, do what you like, but in three days hence, we will be at the sacred land to end this ridiculous argument.”

It worked. The nymphs were scowling but they retreated. The trolls growled at them but let them leave peacefully. Treacle and his crew immediately left. I assume they left to begin work to prepare additional armor and swords. Princess Lau let go of my arm, her face aglow yet betraying deep sadness. “I must go be with my people at this time. I wish you much luck in this, Barnabus, but I insist that you also be a skillful warrior, because I could not stand to lose you.” She kissed my cheek and was gone.

I went immediately to King Terence. Once again, he refused to open the door. I completely lost my temper and began pounding on his door. “Terence! Your country is at war and still you abandon us?”  There was a long pause and then his door opened slowly. He looked grimy and unkempt. His hair was long and twisted, his beard shaggy and untrimmed.

He said nothing, but pressed down on my right shoulder until I was compelled to take a knee. He unsheathed his sword, and I was about to spring to action in fear that my friend intended to kill me, but instead he shook his head and placed the sword on my right shoulder, very gently. “I, King Terence of Yoba, abdicate my throne to you, Barnabus Books, a man of incredible courage and vision. There is no one better to lead our country.” He then moved the sword to my left shoulder, smiled kindly and closed his door in my face; the face of the new king of Yoba.

Your Servant,

His Royal Highness,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 15

Dear friend,

War is imminent. I see no other way out of this dilemma. It is not my place to make any decisions in regards to the treaty, and Prince (King) Terrence is refusing to take any responsibility for our kingdom at all. The entire situation seems hopeless. Princess Lau has been distraught since our meeting in the orchard. I feel guilty that I somewhat enjoy it when she cries in my arms, although I don’t like to see her in pain.

The council meeting is in two days. I have decided to camp out at the orchard to again try to catch those who are digging for gold. If I can expose this apparent conspiracy, that may at least give us something else to focus on and buy us some time to resolve the treaty. The first day was uneventful, but at dusk on the second day, when I had almost given up, the two perpetrators reappeared. Again they were masked, but I was extremely careful as I approached them, invisible of course, and was able to get close enough to see some details. What struck me most was a royal ring on the hand of the nymph. A royal nymph was stealing gold from troll lands?! I was unable to contain myself, became visible, and bolted towards the two, who naturally jumped on their unicorns and were gone before I could even calm down.

I returned to the castle, dejected, and was greeted by Princess Lau looking beautiful as ever. “The council is gathering as we speak. What are your intentions?” Lightening lit up her face. “I have no idea what to say or do,” I gasped as I limped away from my unicorn, Dex. “You are hurt!” cried Princess Lau as she grasped my wrist. “I just pulled a leg muscle whilst chasing those thieves in the orchard.” I sighed. “Again? You saw them again?” Princess Lau whispered.

I grunted in reply and we walked in silence to the meeting room. Already, loud voices billowed from the hall. “We are finished with all negotiations!” Hammond shouted as we entered the room.  Grafalka, the Council Parliamentarian, pounded his gavel on the table. “The meeting has not yet begun, Hammond! Please lower your  voice and be seated.” Grafalka has a calm yet masterful way of speaking, so Hammond immediately sat down, folded his arms and smoldered.

Grafalka turned to me. “Barnabus, you and Princess Lau have been commissioned to bring a resolution to this issue. What have you to say?” I hesitated momentarily and then sighed. I didn’t see any alternative but to lay all my cards on the table. “Grafalka, and honored members of the Council, I am afraid I have no resolution to offer as of yet. I need more time. I have…” Before I could finish my sentence, Hammond, who was seated directly across from me at the grand council table, roared and banged his fist. “Unacceptable!! There is no more time! We will not accept any more delays in the transfer of the lands to our control!”

Grafalka gave another firm and resolute bang of his gavel on the table in order to capture everyone’s attention and reassert control of the meeting before it gave way to disorder. “Hammond, please,” he said authoritatively, “you will have your say soon enough. Let Barnabus finish his statement, and then it will be your turn.”  Hammond assented with a grumble, and all eyes again turned toward me.  “Er, yes… as I was saying,” I began timidly, “I hope you all will forgive me, but at this point I believe I have no choice but to speak frankly. I have stumbled upon some kind of a conspiracy that involves one of the royal nymphs and at least one or more trolls.” Gasps arose from around the table. “I don’t fully understand what they are up to yet,” I continued, “and the last several days I have been engaged in trying to catch them in the act.” I was about to explain the entire saga involving the gold when Hammond leapt up, drew his sword and began shouting things like “nonsense!” “slanderous lies!” and “deceit!” I confess I rather stopped listening because my attention had become focused on Hammond’s hand as it held the sword high above the table. There on his hand, gleaming in the light of the council hall, was the very same royal ring that I had just seen on the thief’s hand in the orchard!

My face must have gone white as I now realized that Hammond was in fact one of the perpetrators that I have been trying to catch for so long. Hammond saw the realization on my face and instantly leapt across the table with his sword aimed straight at my heart. I managed to step aside just enough so that the sword only grazed my left shoulder. I grabbed Princess Lau and ducked under the table. Chaos quickly ensued. Troll and nymph guards rushed in, swords clanging everywhere. Everyone was screaming. So this is how war begins.

 Forever your Servant,

 Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 14

Dear friend,

A stunning development has occurred! As I explained previously, we trolls can become invisible when we envision ourselves as an empty flask or a vase. One of my spies, Erica, became invisible and followed Treacle to his bedroom. She watched him empty a bag of what looked like golden rocks into a secret compartment inside a cabinet. I cannot believe this is occurring! My best friend is hiding gold in his bedroom?! I don’t know what to think.

I immediately sent word to Princess Lau and asked her to meet me in the orchard at dusk. She has become my most trusted confidant, though I am not sure this is wise, considering she is a nymph and the nymphs are threatening war. I cannot help myself, however. I just feel an abiding trust where she is concerned.

At dusk, I went to the orchard and found Princess Lau sitting quietly on our favorite log. Her face was ablaze with lightening so I knew she was either upset or excited by something. Before I could even dismount from my unicorn, Dex, I saw two figures digging in the far corner of the orchard. Without saying a word, I spurred Dex into a gallop in an attempt to catch these mysterious interlopers red-handed.

The two heard Dex’s thundering hooves and looked up in surprise. They were wearing hats and masks but I could tell one was a troll and the other was a nymph. They immediately bolted to their unicorns and took off at a very fast gallop. I chased them for a long ways through the ins and outs of the forest, but lost them somewhere near the East Meadow.

I returned to Princess Lau, dejected by my failure. My shoulders were slumped and my face was downturned. Frankly, I was embarrassed that she had witnessed my defeat. She jumped up when I arrived and she ran to my side. She grasped my wrist before I even had time to dismount and cried, “Barnabus! What in the world just happened?”  Her face was ablaze with light.

“I saw a troll and a nymph digging in the orchard,” I told her. “They are looking for gold. I chased them but they got away. They were wearing masks.” I dismounted from Dex and walked slowly to our log.

“Gold?” Princess Lau looked somewhat amazed. “Why would they be looking for gold?”  I was ashamed that I had kept this information from her. “I found a golden rock one day in the orchard and took it to the wizard. It is solid gold. I fear this is the reason our king was murdered. I had also seen those two digging a few weeks ago, but was unable to identify them. I can only tell you one is a nymph and the other is a troll.” Princess Lau almost stumbled as she tried to digest this information. I grabbed her waist and helped her to our log. Then the crying began.

Forever your Servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 13

Dear friend,

The definition of discouraged in your Merriam-Webster Dictionary is as follows: deprived of courage or confidence; disheartened. That is exactly how I feel at this time. My spies have not uncovered much. They have seen Lady Tiffany in conference with Hammond, but that is not unusual since Lady Tiffany is half-nymph and Hammond is also a nymph. They have seen Treacle speaking closely and in quiet tones with Lady Tiffany, but that is also not unusual since Lady Tiffany is exceptionally beautiful, and I am well-acquainted with Treacle’s fascination with the fairer sex.

I still have not learned the identities of the nymph and troll that Princess Lau and I saw digging in the orchard. I finally took the golden rock that I have kept in my boot to the wizard and he did confirm it is indeed solid gold! That thought both excites and disturbs me. Gold is, of course, desired by all, and I am thrilled to find some on our sacred land. However, gold has been the cause of many wars and discord, and has caused much pain in every land where it has been found. The thought that the gold I kept in the toe of my boot for weeks may have been the cause of my king’s demise disturbs me greatly.

In the meantime, I, myself, have set a three-week deadline in regards to the treaty. I have only three weeks to determine if we trolls should maintain the land for the balance of the treaty or if we should decide to give the lands over freely to the nymphs now.

Again, I visited our new king, Terence, and received yet another chilly response. “Terence, my friend and king, I absolutely MUST speak with you! Our kingdom depends on it!” I pleaded. There was silence for a moment. Then, his downtrodden voice floated to my ears, weak and insubstantial, as if from some distant sphere: “I have no care in regard to our kingdom. Leave me be.”

Truly, I am at a loss as to how to proceed.

Your Servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 12

Dear friend,

Soon after the council meeting I was approached by Treacle. He did not seem happy to see me. He told me there had been another suspicious death. One of the former king’s most trusted servants, Cooper, had been found dead in much the same way as the former king himself. The situation was indeed becoming dire, and I decided to take matters into my own hands. I rounded up five of the castle’s most trusted servants, and explained to them that from this point forward they were to be my spies. I wanted them patrolling the castle on a regular basis, and reporting back to me about everything they see. They were only too eager to comply since they, too, were becoming frightened by the rash of strange deaths.

I then sent a young servant by unicorn with a message for Princess Lau. “We need to speak immediately,” I wrote on a scroll. An hour later, the servant returned with her answer: “The orchard at dusk,” she had written on the same scroll. At dusk I was at our favorite log and longed for her come, although I only had to wait for a few moments. She walked quickly towards me, looking flushed as lightening lit up her face. Was she blushing? It is so hard to tell how she is feeling. I could not help myself, and embraced her firmly. I let go quickly, however, as I did not want to embarrass her by lingering too long. We sat down together on the log.

I explained the new turn of events and how I had set about building my own little network of spies. She agreed that it was time to begin undertaking drastic measures so that we might put a stop to any further torment. She looked very sad when I told her Cooper was the one who had died. Everyone had loved and respected dear old Cooper. He had integrity, was very loyal, and had a mischievous sense of humor that made even the most stoic personality grin. We could not keep losing our best trolls to a murderer!

We sat quietly for a few moments. Off in the distance, we heard some noises. We glanced at each other and eased off the log to quietly tiptoe, avoiding twigs and leaves. We stopped behind a very wide tree and I peeked around the tree. Off in the distance, I saw a male troll and a male nymph. I could not identify them, but they were digging in the far corner of the orchard. I pulled back and allowed Princess Lau to look as well. She whispered that she could not identify them either. We began to edge closer and closer but the two beings must have heard us coming because they quickly grabbed their shovels, turned and raced out of the orchard.

Your Servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 11

Dear friend,

Back at the castle we were met by Lady Tiffany. She was visibly concerned and told us the council was meeting as we spoke. Princess Lau and I leapt off our unicorns and ran to the council meeting room where we arrived just in time to hear Hammond, the Duke of Earl, slam down his fist and shout, “This means war!!” to which, many trolls stood up and snarled at him.

I stepped up to the table. “Please, everyone, we must try to remain calm! Princess Lau and I have just returned from an errand. I apologize for our tardy arrival, but could someone please bring us up to date and explain why the Duke is shouting?” As I uttered this question, I turned to face Grafalka, the council parliamentarian.  He was visibly upset, but he also had a reputation as a troll who kept his head in a crisis, which is why I directed my question to him.

He cleared his throat, took a deep breath and said, “The nymphs say our kingdom is out of control and we have no willing king to lead us. Therefore, we should transfer sovereignty over the lands to them, even though it is ahead of the schedule established by the treaty.” He added dolefully, “We have not agreed.”

Princess Lau and I exchanged glances. Considering we had just been attacked, the idea that our kingdom was out of control hardly seemed controversial. I hesitated momentarily and then addressed Hammond, Duke of Earl. “I’m inclined to agree that our kingdom has been rather disorderly of late.” Some of the trolls gasped at my confession. “However, our king has just lost his father. Surely he can be allowed some time to grieve before he must assume the yoke of leadership?”

Hammond jumped up and began to speak. I cut him off, “I suggest a compromise.” Hammond sat down, folded his arms and glared at me. “I suggest we send our best troops to patrol the reaches of the kingdom for the next few weeks in order to dispel any apparent unrest. If our king cannot compose himself by that time and take command, then we will reconvene and arrive at a final settlement.” There were murmurs from both sides but eventually everyone nodded in agreement. Princess Lau seemed to breathe for the first time and she smiled at me, her eyes glowing.

Forever Your Servant,

Barnabus Books

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 Letters from a Troll

Chapter 10

Dear friend,

I really like Princess Lau! We have been traveling together for two days and she is truly wonderful! She has a ready sense of humor and laughs at all of my dumb jokes and she is dutifully sad when we talk of the king. I have to fear that anyone can be his murderer, but her? It is not possible!

We reached the Inn and asked for the owner. A man approached. I showed him his letter and the drawing of Prince Terence and asked, “Is this the man who caused the raucous?”  He considered the drawing for a moment. “This drawing does not look like Prince Terence.” He announced, quite strongly. I told him the drawing was very like Prince, uh…..King Terence, and I suspected the troll who trashed his inn was an imposter. He was visibly upset. “Who will pay for my damages, then?” he shouted at me. I placated him by explaining the castle will still pay for the damages and I produced money from my pocket to do so.

I am at my wits end and am confused as to how to proceed. If King Terence did not damage the Inn, who did? Princess Lau was as vexed as me. We ate a hearty and delicious meal at the Inn and began the trip home. She is a wonderful companion and we had an enjoyably two more days together.  Unfortunately, we were attacked!

Many dirty trolls attacked us and took our money, food and everything else. Princess Lau was frightened but I took my place in front of her and protected her. Fortunately, the dirty trolls did not take our unicorns or water so we were able to return to the castle.

Your servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 9

Dear friend,

Suddenly, Princess Lau was in my arms and I was kissing away her salty tears. Her face was a blaze of light while she sobbed into my chest. I knew this would be an awkward connection as trolls and nymphs rarely see each other romantically, but right then I just didn’t care. Princess Lau finally moved out of my embrace and seemed embarrassed by what had just occurred. I cleared my throat and we both sat down on the log.

“So Hammond is accusing you?” I waited for her answer. She spoke quietly. “He saw me at the castle that day for the council meeting, and he noticed that I disappeared right after the meeting and did not go straight home. I’ve been complaining on behalf of the nymphs about the sorry state of our food lately and he thinks I snapped and killed the king.  None of this is true, of course.  After the council meeting, I came here to think. This is my favorite place.” I had to laugh and she looked offended. “No, I am only laughing because this is also my favorite place and I come here to think as well.” She smiled then.

I had a sudden thought and asked Princess Lau to accompany me to the inn.  I explained the sordid story that had been relayed by the innkeeper.  She was visibly shocked. “I cannot imagine Terence doing any of that!” she exclaimed, and agreed to accompany me.  We returned to the castle and readied ourselves for the journey.  Dex had new shoes put on his dainty unicorn hooves and we packed our food and clothing on a third unicorn.  I did not tell Treacle where I was going and he did not ask.  We do not speak as we had before. This saddens me.

Your servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 8

Dear friend,

Terence, Treacle and I have been forever friends. My father was the tutor for Prince Terence, myself and Treacle, the son of the castle farrier. The farrier takes care of the unicorns, trims their hooves and puts shoes on their delicate feet to keep them safe from injury. We three boys studied together, played together, and became men together. We have maintained this friendship through the years. Due to the recent death of our beloved king, however, our friendship is being tested sorely.

Treacle thinks Terence murdered his own father, but no matter how hard I try, I just cannot bring myself to believe it. This has put a wedge between Treacle and I. For his part, Prince Terence… excuse me, King Terence… has been singularly uncooperative. I have to assume he is grieving the loss of his father. He lost his mother several years ago and he must feel very much alone. However, he will not confide in me, nor in anyone else in the entire castle! Consequently, I am on my own to figure this out. There is a council meeting next week and I must find some way to make sense of things before then.

So, I plan to make a trip to visit the innkeeper. I find myself deeply skeptical of the innkeeper’s story, so I enlisted the help of a local artist to draw a sketch of our new King Terence to bring with me. While awaiting the art piece, I went where I always go to think, the Sacred Land, our orchard. I arrived at the orchard and found immediate peace as I gazed at the lovely trees and smelled the fragrant air while the breeze played with my hair. I pulled a ripe plum from a tree and ate it quickly, as the sweet juice ran down my chin. I finished the plum, and as I sat and meditated on the exposed plum pit in my hand, I determined that I should plant a new tree.  I thought perhaps a new life might offer some balance against this sordid mess that I find myself in. So, I scouted for a good place to plant the pit.

In a sunny spot, I used the toe of my boot to dig a hole but struck a hard rock. I reached down and used my fingers to dislodge the rock. It was dirty, but very different from any rock I had ever seen. I wiped the dirt off with my shirt and was stunned to see bright golden light bounce off this strange rock. I then heard someone crying nearby so I placed the rock carefully in my pocket and headed into the forest.

There I found Princess Lau, looking beautiful as ever, but crying piteously into her hands. I approached and knelt on one knee. “Princess Lau! What is it that vexes thee so horribly to make you cry so?” She removed her hands, grasped my arm and said softly, “Hammond, the nymph Duke of Earl, has accused me of a murderous act! He thinks I killed the troll king!”

Your servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 7

Dear friend,

Prince Terence, now known as King Terence of Yoba, will not leave his bedroom. He pushes half-eaten trays of food under the door and rarely responds when anyone knocks on the door. He refuses to handle castle business. I am at a loss. Being the king’s ward, I have always done his bidding but now I am handling royal business that should at least be approved by royalty.

Today, I found an unopened letter on the tray in front of Terence’s door. It was a rather large bill from an innkeeper in the northern region of Yoba along with a disturbing letter.  It read as follows; “Dear Whomever is in Charge at the Castle, I have the rather arduous task of writing you with details of a recent royal visit to my inn. A handsome, young troll came in, announcing himself as Prince Terence, and proceeded to buy everyone food and lager. He bustled about, bragging about his recent hunting trip.  Eventually, he shocked everyone by explaining all of the things he will change now that the king is dead. As far as we knew, our king was alive and well, so this news stunned us all.

At one point, he was bragging about his inheritance of gold and a somewhat disheveled troll became enraged and struck Prince Terence about the back of his head.  Prince Terence slowly turned and stared at the dirty troll.  He hesitated for a moment while I held my breath.  He then lost his head completely, picking up one of my chairs and crashing it down upon the other troll.

More trolls jumped in to defend their friends. I cringed behind the bar and watched bottles smashed over heads and trolls jumping over the unconscious. At one point, two trolls were standing on a table arguing because one had thrown the other’s hat onto the ceiling fan. They jumped up and down, poking each other in the chest. Finally the table broke, spilling both trolls onto the floor along with my best platter of barbequed goat and a candle which started a small fire on my new rug.  To put it mildly, my place is a wreck. Therefore, a bill for damages is attached and I expect payment within a fortnight.”

I held the letter to my chest, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. “Go away,” said a soft voice from within. “My king, please,” I cried beseechingly, leaning my forehead on my friend’s door. “This is a matter of some urgency.”

“I AM NO ONE’S KING!!” shouted Terence. I waited. “Barnabus” the voice said coolly, “you are the most trusted troll in this castle. I believe wholeheartedly that you can handle the matter, whatever it is.” I knocked again. “Terence, this cannot continue. You are king now.” There was no response.

I went down to the stables to see Treacle. Treacle tends to the royal animals. He is also in charge of weaponry and makes wonderful swords and arrows. “I am so downtrodden, my friend.” I sighed and leaned against a unicorn saddle that had been flung over a small fence. “I understand how you feel, Barnabus”, treacle replied. “Terence has always been our friend. I am also having a difficult time viewing him as a murderer.” Treacle held up an arrow head and peered at its design with his expert eyes. “What makes you so sure he murdered his father?” I barked, and then stood up and folded my arms. Treacle looked up with surprise. “You don’t? I think his behavior proves it more than anything. Besides, isn’t Ricin a rather rare and expensive commodity? Who else has the money to buy poison?”

I pondered this for a moment. It is true. Who else has enough money to buy poison?

Always Your servant,

Barnabus Books

**************************************************

Letters from a Troll

Chapter 6

Dear friend,

Lady Tiffany dropped next to me and folded her arms. “Barnabus,” she said, “Prince Terence may or may not have murdered his father. We don’t know. We can hope he is being truthful, yet we must remain vigilant against any attempt at deception.” I nodded and took a long gulp from my water flask. Treacle was brooding by a distant Acacia tree and Princess Lau seemed lost in thought.

After a time, I decided to approach Prince Terence again. “My prince, we need you to come to the castle. You are King now.” Prince Terence’s eyes widened and he flopped backwards into the meadow grass. “NO! I am not ready to be King!” he shouted to the skies above. “There are decisions that need to be made,” I insisted gently, “you are ready whether you believe it or not.” Prince Terence sat up and stared at me, coldly. “How did my father die?” he asked.

“We do not know.” I hesitated. “He was found with no wounds on his body, and lying next to an overturned, empty glass. The wizard has the body and the glass and is trying to figure out the cause of death.” I lowered my eyes. Prince Terence seemed to find himself, and abruptly stood up. “We must return to the castle immediately,” he said, “I will place my kill on your wagon and we will leave now.”

As we loaded the wagon, Princess Lau took me aside. “His thoughts are not murderous. I don’t think he killed the king,” she said, as lightning lit her face. “I agree,“ I said quietly, “but who did?” She shook her head. “We nymphs can read minds if we are close enough, but we are not always accurate in what we think we are hearing.” She dropped her eyes. “I really have no idea what happened to the king, and that is frustrating,” she said quietly.

We returned to the castle after stopping at the bridge and paying the dirty troll the three gold pieces I had promised. He grinned as he took the pieces and thumbed his nose at Prince Terence, who ignored the filthy beast. At the castle, we at once visited the wizard and asked his opinion. “I can say for sure the king died of poisoning”, the wizard told us. “The glass held wine and Ricin. This toxin is made from the castor bean.“ The wizard folded his arms. “The king had no chance once he drank the wine,” the wizard explained. “Ricin is twice as deadly as Cobra venom.”

Your servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 5

Dear friend,

When I returned to the castle I was surprised to see my best friend, Treacle, waiting for me along with Princess Lau and Lady Tiffany, who is a half-troll, half-nymph.  I suppose this is as good a time as any to tell you about something else that perhaps you should know. Nymphs can read minds. They cannot discern emotions, and they don’t really get sarcasm or theatrics, so they are often wrong about the intention behind the thoughts they read. But I knew instantly that either Lady Tiffany or Princess Lau had read my thoughts and relayed them to Treacle. “We are going with you.” Treacle stated firmly. I shrugged my shoulders in defeat. What troll can resist his best friend, the mysterious Lady Tiffany and that lovely creature, Princess Lau?

We gathered six unicorns, a wagon, weapons, food and water for all, and bathed for our trip which would take four long days. The next morning we departed for the North Meadow. I chose to ride Dex next to Princess Lau and her unicorn. She glowed in the early morning light and I was surprisingly cheerful considering the task ahead would be difficult. If Prince Terence had killed his father, would he come willingly back to the castle?

“What have you learned?” asked Princess Lau, her innocent face showing no emotion at all. It was so hard to trust. She is a nymph. I am a troll. There is no reason to trust. “I have learned nothing,” I said a little too coldly. She eyed me warily. “What is wrong, Barnabus? We have always been friends.” She said in a low, musical voice.  I sighed audibly. “All I know is that Prince Terence was seen hunting in the North Meadow, and that is from the testimony of someone I do not hold in high regard.” I lowered my head, somewhat ashamed we were taking on this quest on the advice of a filthy troll who lived under a bridge.

“The information you received was accurate as far as he knows,” said Princess Lau, her face sparked a bit of lightening as she became aware of my misgivings. “Do not worry, Barnabus. Our trip will not be in vain.” We rode in silence for a while. I noticed Treacle and Lady Tiffany were in a deep, quiet conversation behind us. I did not know they were that well acquainted.

Later that day, we crossed the same bridge where I had been given this questionable intelligence just the day before. The filthy troll was nowhere to be found, and I feared that he had sent me on a wild goose chase. But we were on our way, and it was the first information about Prince Terence we had received. We slept under a large pepper tree and ate the dried fruit we had brought for breakfast.

As we reached the North Meadow, we decided to split up. Princess Lau and I went east. Lady Tiffany and Treacle went west. Within less than an hour, we came upon Prince Terence! “Ho there, my prince!” I shouted. Prince Terence had a bow and arrows slung over his back, and looked genuinely surprised to see us. He stopped abruptly and looked at us, stunned and open-mouthed. “What in the world are you two doing here?” He gaped at us in complete surprise.

At that moment, Treacle and Lady Tiffany were suddenly upon us. “Oh, like he doesn’t know! Don’t act so innocent!” shouted Treacle, as he leapt off his unicorn. I was surprised by Treacle’s attack. “What does he mean?” asked Prince Terence, looking genuinely alarmed. “Treacle, let me handle this.” I glowered at him and slowly climbed down from Dex’s back. I approached Prince Terence and gently laid a hand on his shoulder. “We have some news,” I said gently. Treacle had ignored me and was at my side. “He already knows! Don’t humor him!” shouted Treacle.

I turned and placed my hand on Treacle’s chest, firmly pushing him backwards. “I said, let me handle this.”  I stated this very quietly but very forcibly. Treacle stared into my eyes for a moment, and then retreated back to Lady Tiffany’s side. “Something confusing has occurred,” I said, facing Prince Terence squarely. “Your father, the king, is dead.” Prince Terence froze momentarily and then backed away, shaking his head. The bow and arrows dropped to the ground. “It cannot be.” He said quietly. He continued to back away and then tripped and landed on his rear end with a thump. He placed his hands over his face and rocked to and fro.

“This is ridiculous!” shouted Treacle “why are we playing such games with the likes of him?!” I turned and strode to my three friends. “Let us give him some time.” We gathered up our unicorns and walked a ways to rest under a throng of shade trees. Prince Terence continued to rock and was heard to moan, “I am not ready,” over and over again.

Forever your servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 4

Dear friend,

I was travelling to meet a friend while riding my favorite unicorn, Dex.  It was a lovely day and I felt a little lighter in mood than I have felt in a long while. I was marveling at the rays of sunlight coming through the trees when Dex suddenly jumped sideways and almost spilled me from the saddle.  I looked around and a troll appeared on the bridge where a second ago had been nothing.

This is something we have not talked about. Trolls have powers. We can become invisible.  It is quite simple really. We imagine ourselves as an empty glass or vase and as long as we are not distracted, we will remain invisible.

This troll was filthy, with long unkempt hair and no shoes. He glared at me and folded his arms. “What was the point of being invisible?” I shouted. “There is no one around for miles!” “How would you know?” he asked, devilishly, “What if everyone else is invisible, too?”  I realized, to my chagrin, that I didn’t really have an answer to that question, and so instead muttered darkly, “Well, what is your name, and what business do you want with me?”

“My name is no concern of yours,” he glowered at me from bushy eye brows. “My business is me wanting gold from you.” “So, this is a robbery then?” I said, lightly, and placed my hand near my sheathed knife.” “A robbery?” he snorted. “Come now. Just because I don’t wear fancy clothes doesn’t mean I steal. I want to be paid for information.” He looked uncertain at this point. “And, what information would you have that would interest me?” I questioned in my surliest tone. “I know the whereabouts of Prince Terence!” said the dirty troll, his chest puffed out with pride.

I started in my seat, dumbfounded. “Where is he?!” I almost shouted. The dirty troll grinned. “We must talk of my fee first,” he said, quietly as he approached closer. I caught a whiff of his smell and it was not at all pleasant. “How do I know you are telling the truth?” I asked. “Again, just because I am not your kind of troll, does not mean I am dishonorable,” he grumbled. “I want five gold pieces,” he said as he folded his arms over his chest. I leaned down and gave him a good long stare. “I will agree to three now and three more after I have seen Prince Terence.”

The dirty troll agreed but not happily. “Prince Terence was seen hunting two days ago in the north meadow.” I was not convinced. “Who saw him? Was he alone?” I asked. “The party who saw him is dependable, so I believe this information is valuable,” said the dirty troll. I hesitated but felt three gold pieces wasn’t enough to fret about. I took my bag from my belt and counted out the three pieces to the dirty troll. “I will return to the castle to obtain supplies. The trip to and from the north meadow will take four days. I will meet you on this bridge at that time and will pay the additional gold pieces if Prince Terence is found.”

The dirty troll grinned. “He will be found, and you will pay me. Now, get off my bridge.  I smell goats coming, and I’m in the mood for a feast!” He vanished instantly.  I sighed, and turned Dex around to return to the castle.  I didn’t really trust that troll, but I didn’t have any other inkling of how to find Prince Terence, either.  So, I was off to the north meadow, but not without a fair amount of dread over what I might find there.

Forever your servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

Chapter 3

Dear friend,

Sometimes I must exercise my body and simply sweat, so I went to the orchard on our sacred land to pick fruit. I had almost filled a basket of avocados, peaches, apples, pears and plums when I noticed a nymph servant girl beckoning me to her.  I placed the basket on my hip and walked to the edge of the orchard. “Yes?” “Princess Lau wishes to speak to you.” I shrugged and followed the servant girl 20 yards into the forest.

I found Princess Lau sitting on a log. Now, we trolls fancy ourselves most like humans of any of the Yobian creatures. Although we have mustard seed colored skin, very large features on our faces, large ears, shoulders, hands and feet, we compare ourselves to human movie stars regularly.

Nymphs, to use modern human language, are just plain weird.  They are shadowy figures with no defined features. When they are calm and content they appear smoldering, smokey and willowy, but any emotion causes them to alight from within akin to fire or lightning. This makes conversation with nymphs difficult. It is impossible to tell if they are feeling anger, happiness, embarrassment or any other emotion felt by living creatures.

I glanced at the basket near the princess and noted the shriveled mushrooms, weeds and turnips. A pang of guilt fixed me to my spot. For the last 499 years, the nymphs had been forced to scavenge from the edges of the sacred land. A sudden impulse caused me to turn my basket and empty half of the contents into the nymph’s basket. Princess Lau turned and saw my gift. Lightning seemed to attack her face. I could see her eyes and smile erupt in bright light and for the first time, I noticed she was actually beautiful.

Her hands flew to her chest. “Many thanks, my lord. We nymphs will feast well tonight!”  The guilty pang struck again and I upended my basket into hers. “Your 500 years is nearly over. It is time you sampled your future fare,” I mumbled.

Her face began to darken. I steadied myself, “What is it you want of me?” I squared myself, all business. “Still, we are unable to agree,” she said. “The rules of the treaty come to pass in only eight months, and you have no king to strengthen your position. The nymphs want the throne now.” Her eyes were downcast and smoke seemed to hide her features. I widened my stance and folded my arms. “Yes, I know,” I said, “but we have eight months left and growing troll children to feed!” I gestured to the orchard behind me. “We have growing children too!” a voice cried from the darkness.  The nymph servant stepped out from the trees, her entire body ablaze with light. She instantly seemed to recognize her mistake and retreated back into the trees, head bowed.

“Barnabus,” Princess Lau was at my side, her hands cool on my wrist, then warm, then cool. Her face was all lightning. “The nymphs are talking war! We cannot go on like this for eight more months. You and I can come to a compromise. I know we can! Please consider your options and we will talk again.” She released my wrist and her smokey figure descended into the forest with the servant girl carrying the basket behind her. I stood in that spot for a long while. There is so much to consider, so much at stake.

As always, your servant,

Barnabus Books

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 Letters from a Troll

Chapter 2

Dear friend,

I must again implore you to remain silent in these matters. Your discretion is paramount to my safety as well as yours.

As I last told you, our troll king was found dead under mysterious circumstances and now the nymph queen has demanded the throne. I have been elected to the committee to make the decision as to who will take the throne. There are six trolls and six nymphs on this committee and we cannot agree at all! As you may have already guessed, the vote has been split; the nymphs want a nymph queen and the trolls want a troll king.

As we cannot seem to make a decision, I have been chosen by the trolls to bring suggestions to the table. Princess Lau has been chosen by the nymphs to develop her suggestions as well.

Lady Tiffany, our mutual friend, has told me you can be trusted. She says you are a very wise human and that you are fair in all things. I ask thee for advice. Who shall lead the land of Yoba? I know you cannot really answer this question as you have no way to reach me. It is still a great comfort to ask the question.

I am aware I should be more focused on solving our nation’s problem, but I am sorely vexed by our troll king’s fate. Why was he found dead in the servant’s quarters? I am quite sure he has never been in that wing of the castle during his entire life and he was born in the castle! Secondly, Prince Terence is missing. No one has seen him since the death of his father. Did he run away to grieve in peace or does he have something to do with the king’s demise?

Lastly, Princess Lau reacted strangely to the announcement of our king’s death. Considering the nymph’s current state of affairs, I would have expected some sort of emotion. She merely lowered her eyes and then glanced at Hammond, the nymph Duke of Earl. These are such strange goings on.

Please accept my deepest thanks and respect for your honorable acceptance of this letter.

Your servant,

Barnabus Books

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Letters from a Troll

by Lyn Garrett

Chapter 1

Dear friend,

Forgive me for not addressing you by name. You must remain anonymous in order to ensure safety for all of us. You see, it is forbidden for me to interact with humans in any way. Yes, I am not human. I am a troll. You may believe trolls to be smelly, dirty creatures who live under bridges. In that you are correct for some trolls. However, there are others of us who are clean, good-natured helpful souls who want nothing but the best for trolls and humans alike.

Please allow me to introduce myself and my problem. My name is Barnabus Books and I reside in the land of Yoba. You will not find this on any of your maps as our world is well hidden from humans. I am breaking Troll Law by writing to you. But, my friend, I have nowhere else to turn! I beg your assistance in just believing in me and listening to my story. I have no one to speak with and I feel I may burst if I do not tell someone this story!

Unfortunately, for our entire history, we have traded leadership and land rights with the nymphs. Every 500 years, we give up power, leadership and the best land for hunting and growing food. With trolls in power, I have to admit the nymphs have not had it easy for the last 499 years. But, last night, our troll king was found dead. Something I saw makes me believe our king did not die a natural death.

Forever your servant,

Barnabus Books

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