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Georg


Nothing special here, move along, nothing to see, just ignore the lump under the sheet and the red stuff...

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Nov
26th
2022

Bridge Troll fifth Sample Chapter and upcoming other chapters · 7:19am Nov 26th, 2022

11/26/22 - Despite concentrating on The Last Nightguard over the last few months, I have been making progress on some of the other pending projects in process. There are two finished chapters in Bridge Troll, one of Sweetie Belle - Hogwarts Exchange Student, and Twinkle Twinkle Speaker to Dragons, which I’m going to try to start trickling out on Monday and Tuesday. I think both of them have turned out fairly well, and I’ve gotten rid of the last inline notes (but if you see something like ‘insert hair color here’ please tell me.)



So with that in mind, here is the promised fifth chapter of The Knight, The Fey Maiden, and the Bridge Troll. I suppose the writing practice that I was trying to do here was new character and scene introduction, taken from the plebian point of view, with a little worldbuilding tossed in to give the reader a better idea of where the character is fitting into the larger picture. I’m a terrible scene minimalist, so if there’s any spots that really need more coverage, be sure to let me know.

The Young Knight, the Fey Maiden, and the Bridge Troll

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
And of course, Chapter 5 below

In Deed


Time had a way of turning the abnormal into routine. A few weeks ago, Fetch would never have been able to wrap his head around working for a troll, and adding in the odd broom servant from the wizard’s boulder-house would have been… Well, the kind of thing you might imagine after hitting your head.

His job was certainly far better than expected. As long as they kept the campfire away from the wizard’s house, that is. Broom, which is what he was starting to think was her real name, always kept a bucket of water somewhere in the house just in case they got too close with any significant flame. Fetch decided that using the corral and stable was probably as much as he should ‘push’ whatever missing wizard owned the house, and Quartz agreed. It gave Fetch a place to sleep with a roof, Nutmeg protection from any roaming pigs, and the outhouse for an obvious need.

Quartz fit through the outhouse door, but barely.

The troll claimed that an hour of planning prevented a week of waste, and that stood up in practice. The process of building a bridge turned out to be far more complicated than Fetch had thought at first. After all, it would just take one or two mistakes to have the whole bridge collapse before it was even finished, and the troll was more than happy to keep Fetch educated on every little detail and calculation involved. He found himself constantly in a corner of the stable where Quartz had setup some sort of drawing table with multiple sheets of paper tacked up and scribbled with complicated calculations and angled lines.

Aside from accidental alliteration, Fetch was learning far more mathematics than he ever thought was possible to jam into his thick head, as well as a certain respect for the phrases ‘margin of error’ and ‘overbuilding’ with regard to what he had thought of as the simple task of stacking rocks together. The rope bridge problem was much easier for him to understand. Since they didn’t have enough rope, there was no need to start a great deal of planning and drawing just yet. No problem. Well, for Fetch at least.

“The Kingdom of Nadare is pretty close,” said Quartz, showing off a rough sketch of the proposed bridges and a starter list of needed materials. “No way we can get everythin’ in one trip on account of nobody keeps that much rope just layin’ around. Couple of contracts, some feelers put out with the merchants to get an edge on future production. This time, won’t take more’n a day to get there, a day to shop around and make agreements, then a day to get back. Couple o’ weeks later we’ll go back and pick up the first load of planks and rope ‘cause nobody’s gonna drag them out here on their own. Need anything?”

“Some oats for Nutmeg, clothes for me, gloves before I tear my hands up any more… and I see everything is already on the list,” said Fetch as Quartz handed over a sheet of thick paper. “You’ve been working on this.”

“Kid, every minute you’re workin’ on something other than the bridge is a wasted minute. Asides, if’n those pants get any thinner, you’re gonna embarrass the first female who comes by, human or troll.”

* * *

A few days later as the wagon jolted down the path to Nadare, Fetch was feeling oddly hesitant about traveling to the closest thing to civilization around the area. Fir Junction had been such a small town by comparison to Three Rivers, and Fetch had messed up his brief visit there something terrible. Quartz had come from a far larger city and knew all about the civilized world, but Three Rivers had still treated him just as badly or worse. It was difficult to get a feeling for the size of the town they were headed to by just looking at a map, but it seemed to be at least the size of Three Rivers with a half-dozen roads branching off in different directions, from the Dwarven mountain to several Elf forests, and of course back to Three Rivers.

He wanted to express his concerns to Quartz, but the troll seemed to be happily planning out his upcoming construction project with every step. In case of a violent confrontation with the townsfolk, Fetch had brought his dented breastplate and dull sword but they were packed in the wagon behind several empty crates. It was difficult enough to keep his footing in the bouncing wagon since the troll was looking forward to the destination and did not seem to be paying much attention to the rocks in the road while chewing up the distance with long strides.

Nutmeg did not seem to mind the pace. He was trailing on a lead line behind the cart, catching the occasional bite of grass and trotting to catch back up. The rest had done the old stallion good since his ankles were not swollen any more and he was looking more frisky. King Seiki’s army must have been mistreating him something terrible before Fetch stole him away in the night, which made the theft more bearable.

Although Broom had done her best with making Fetch’s tattered clothes as presentable as they could be, he still felt like a mud-footed farmer going into a fine gentleman’s house.

“Are you sure you want to take me on this trip?” he asked Quartz again. “I mean we’re not far enough away that I can’t walk back and—”

“You wanted hired,” said Quartz, cutting off Fetch. “I originally thought people’d get more understanding of trolls out here in the sticks. After thinkin’ about Three Rivers for a bit, it’s only pragmatic to have a human along. If’n they’re worried about a troll, they’d haff to explain away your presence without any ropes or chains or anything. And sendin’ you into town alone with a bunch of money is just begging for trouble. Since none of us really is set to go there alone, they’ll be less trouble together. Unless you pop off and start screaming about being kidnapped somewhere in there.”

“What?!” Fetch scrambled to the front of the wagon, almost too upset to speak. “I’d never… I mean that would be cruel and un— Well, un-something!”

Quartz shrugged, which made the nearly empty wagon bounce. “Goblins would. Cruel little buggers. They’d piss in a well or slip a horse an apple fulla tacks in a heartbeat. Met a couple of humans like that, not many. Can’t even pop ‘em one to smarten ‘em up or they’ll go wailing off to the Guard like you tried to date their sister or somethin’ stupid. One of ‘em might haff slipped off the bridge while crossing once.”

“Slipped,” said Fetch flatly.

“Bridges can be slippery.” Quartz looked innocently up into a tree they were passing. “Sometimes.”

* * *

Nadare was not quite as large as Fetch feared, and yet far larger than any town he had been in before. There was even a castle on the hill overlooking the town, although it did not seem quite large enough to house the town’s population in case of a siege like Ottao had spoken about at one time. In case of peace, it seemed like an expensive luxury to have around, and in case of war, it was probably invaluable to the king and not much use to the townsfolk. The amount of stone involved in the construction would have been far better put to use in bridges…

He was spending too much time with Quartz.

For other defenses, there was a wall around part of the town but it had been grown around and not reconstructed, so it could only hold off invaders on half the sides, which would have been quite useful if they could convince King Seiki to fight fair. Then again, King Seiki was a long distance away and would probably never try to attack here.

His own village had thought the same.

Fetch was trying not to think about armies and weapons as they approached the city gates, but the two armored guards standing outside and watching everybody who entered made that rather difficult. They tensed up and drew their swords when they got a good look at Quartz in the harness, then relaxed slightly upon seeing Fetch perched on the front of the wagon. They were still confused, but one of them put his sword away at least.

“Ho, you there,” he called out. “What business have you in Nadare?”

“It’s a monster,” hissed the other guard.

“Where?” said Quartz, turning to look over his shoulder. “Oh, him? No, that’s just my employee. I’m bringing him into town to get some clothes as well as some equipment for the bridge I’m building.”

“Bridge?” said the first guard with a thoughtful expression. “Since you’re coming from that direction, you must mean the Wizard’s Bridge? It fell in nigh unto ten years ago.”

“That’s the one.” Quartz stopped and shrugged out of his harness. “Gonna build a right and proper one at the same site. Might take a year or two, so Fetch suggested I rebuild the rope bridge for people to use ‘til then. Here, I’ll show you some of the plans I done wrote up.”

The second guard took a step back when Quartz bent over the side of the wagon, rummaging around in the only box they had brought along. Since they were going to purchase supplies and equipment, it seemed prudent to bring only a small portion of the troll’s tools and treasure, as well as the drawings he was so proud of. Fetch really did not think anybody would steal from the troll, at least not when he was within arm’s reach, but there were always fools.

“Should I get the captain?” asked the second guard, who still had his sword out and was backing up in the general direction of the open city gate.

“Yeah, you better,” said the first guard, who was looking more amused than bemused by the presence of a troll. “Make sure you tell him that Mister—”

“Quartz,” said the troll, still shuffling large pieces of parchment into some sort of order. “An’ this is Fetch, the boy I hired to do work around the bridge.”

“Tell the captain that we have a guest by the West gate, and he’s going to need an escort around town.” The guard watched as his companion scurried into the gate, then turned back to Quartz. “So, you’ll be rebuilding the Wizard’s rope bridge, then?”

“Don’t know if’n it can be called rebuilding when ah’m doing it the way I want,” said Quartz with the parchment he was looking for in one hand. “Gonna have to redrill these anchor holes to make it more stable, an’ it needs a bit more counterweight than the previous one did. Given good weather and access to supplies, we could probably have it slapped up before next full moon. For an old wizard’s bridge, I didn’t see no magic on it at all.”

“That’s because he hired out building it to people around here. Can I see that?” The guard held out one hand and took the parchment with a look of great interest. “My uncle was in the building crew just about twenty years ago. The wizard didn’t ask nobody for permission, just came into town and told King Piast he wanted one put there. Couple dozen people from the town put it up in a few weeks, got paid by the king, and that’s about it. Made a convenient shortcut to Forselt, but nobody kept it up, and when the wizard moved out about ten years ago, it fell into the river. Every so often somebody comes up with the bright idea to put up another bridge, but King Piast squabbled with King Sigmund about who’d pay for it and the ferrymen of Three Rivers made subtle threats, so nothing ever got done.”

Fetch had climbed down from the wagon while the broad-shouldered soldier talked, following the conversation without speaking up. It was a habit he had developed to a fine art back in his home village and let him think about what was being said without distracting anybody with his own frequently mistaken ideas. Quiet anonymity did not last long because the soldier promptly stuck out a hand when he stopped at the end of his history lesson.

“Fetch, I’m Stada Kain,” said the guard, shaking Fetch’s hand with a firm grip before turning to the troll. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Quartz. I’ve heard about trolls before, but the country around here has been pretty much civilized for the last century, and I’ve never seen one until now.”

“Not all trolls have our attractive features and pleasant personalities,” said Quartz with a toothy grin as he returned Kain’s handshake with enthusiasm. “Some of’m are downright nasty. Bridge Trolls are a pretty likable lot, though. ‘Cept for my sister, Mica. She’ll kick you in the fork if’n you look at her wrong and spit on you when you’re writhing around on the ground.”

Having no siblings himself, Fetch could not get a good idea of the interplay inside of a troll family, but it must have been far more… dynamic than his own adopted family at the inn. It gave him time to think about it since Quartz returned to trading bridge-building stories with the guard. There was a whole town full of humans here, with certainly enough undone tasks that an enterprising young man could find employment, start a family, and find where he belonged for a change. Then again, Fetch had never felt such a sense of belonging as when he was working with Quartz on his bridge.

Plus, he had made a deal. The last thing he wanted was to start a new life on a lie. The last time he had tried that, he wound up… Here.

It seemed to take forever but it was probably less than an hour before the gate guard returned with an unusual companion. Fetch had seen elves before, mostly travelers who kept to themselves at the inn, but this one was a considerably younger woman. Still, it was difficult to determine the age of elves by their appearance, even if she looked like a slender child next to the burly guard. She was certainly no stranger to the outdoors because she was wearing tall leather boots and a practical set of trousers, topped off with a frilly long-sleeved blouse sporting several colorful streamers. And a hat, of course. An elf without a hat was much like a dwarf without a beard, even if the hat in question was somewhat abbreviated and woven out of flowers like this one was not. Fetch’s sunburned ears promptly reminded his head that hats woven out of straw were fairly ineffective, particularly with his inability to make a proper brim, and he made a mental note to find the haberdasher in town who could make him one just like that, only more ‘working’ than ‘pretty.’

“Princess Tula!” The guard chatting with Quartz made a quick motion to catch one of the drawings that was threatening to blow away. “We have a visitor who intends on rebuilding the Wizard’s Bridge, and he needs to speak with your mother.”

“My father deals with humans,” said the elf, looking at Fetch much like he was covered in pig poop.

“Um… The kid isn’t the bridge builder,” said the guard, pointing at Quartz. “He is.”

“Oh.” The elf was somewhat taken back at first, both figuratively and literally since she took a step backwards when the troll’s size and proximity became evident. Fetch had gotten used to the way that Quartz blended in with his environment, but it was fairly obvious the elf had not met one of his kind. “Is… um… it safe?” she asked rather hesitantly.

Fetch could recognize his prompt even without the sideways glance from the troll.

“I’ve worked with him several week snow,” said Fetch. “I mean now. This spring. Up until now. Which I’m going to keep doing,” he added as the green eyes of the elf attracted his attention like a moth to a candle with much the same destructive result to his scrambled thoughts.

“Thought we’d get Fetch some decent clothes first,” rumbled Quartz. “I mean if’n your mother’s the queen of this area, wouldn't be prudent to bring my assistant by in this condition.”

A wave of embarrassed heat swept over Fetch until he thought his protruding ears might catch fire and ignite his straw hat. First impressions had mostly made him miss the first reference to the elf as a princess, but his scrambled mind was rapidly catching up on the conversation until he felt much like a mud-covered pig.

“I can take ‘em into town and see about getting ‘em dressed up proper,” volunteered the first guard. “That way you can go tell your mother—”

“I will see them into town,” said Tula forcefully. “My mother has been grating on my nerves lately.”

“Talking about Prince Svenson again?” asked the guard cautiously, only to continue in a more casual fashion when the young elf nodded. “Thought one of your sisters had him tied up.”

Instead of replying, the princess elf merely snorted very much like an annoyed boar and entered the city gate, leaving Fetch no choice but to follow with Quartz and the wagon tagging along behind.

* * *

Without a guide and a rather large employer, Fetch would have been lost. Once they had gotten into the market, there were humans crowded in all directions with none of the respect for distance that was normal in Fir Junction. He was not used to elbowing people aside, although Tula had no such hesitation despite her station. A princess really should be some delicate flower at court, dressed with ruffles and pleats in a complete outfit that cost more than Quartz’s bridge, not a slim waif of a girl who argued with the merchants like a dwarf spending his own gold.

In short order, Fetch accumulated trousers, boots, shirts, and various other bits of clothing by following directions and standing where he was told, much like his life had been at home. Each piece of clothing came in at least two different styles for wearing at court or working on the bridge, including a pair of hats fairly similar to the elven princess’ own.

The baths surprised him. In his home town, Fetch had mostly bathed in the nearby river or in a wooden tub made out of a hogshead barrel that the cooper had broken on one end and decided it worked better in a different task. Here, a building devoted to the same task did a far superior job. For a few coppers, Fetch had been scrubbed, rinsed, and stuffed into his new clothes by a number of human servants who did not seem to care about his unclothed indecency. It at least gave him the ability to look the elf princess in the face afterward without feeling too much like something that just crawled out of the pig pen.

“Pinches a bit.” Fetch bounced on his toes, feeling the stiff leather of his new boots flex reluctantly. “Not quite what I expected when I started out on this journey, but that was a dumb idea anyway.”

“Really?” The elf gave him a look that was probably the least disgusted in a whole series of disdain directed in his direction over the last few hours. “What was that?”

“Um… Nothing.” Fetch took off his hat and scratched at a piece of rough glue in the headband that had been troubling him. “I think we should move along if we’re going to see the queen before sundown.”

* * *

Nadare was probably smaller than whatever Fetch considered when the word ‘palace’ came to mind. There were few golden statues or ruby-studded portals in Tula’s home, but there was glass in the windows and rugs on most of the floors, which was about as good as could be expected. He really wanted to go explore the gardens they passed by, but they had a purpose to their trip today and wheedling a few cuttings or seeds from the gardeners was not it. He did get a chance to look out through an open window as they climbed and see the riot of colorful flowers spread out across a vibrant open area, as well as a curious hummingbird who zipped up to within touching distance before vanishing just as quickly.

“It’s a different color than the ones out by the bridge,” said Fetch in a vain attempt to engage the princess in a conversation of any type.

“You don’t have a bridge yet,” countered Tula. “You have a chasm.”

“And plans,” said Quartz, patting the roll of parchment under his hefty arm. “Any place with a bridge didn’t have a bridge there at one time. That’s where we are now,” he added, giving the young princess a chance to roll her eyes.

Fetch almost didn’t notice. He was trying his best to see everything all around him at once since he had never been introduced to a queen before and probably never would be again. Even if his surroundings were not as opulent as tales told by the inn’s visitors might imply royalty lived in every day, there had been great care taken with every stone and bit of woodwork. Even Mrs. Triana would have been satisfied with the neatness of the folded tapestries across the walls and rug runners down the corridor, although Fetch was certain he would have been cleaning every minute of the day anyway if she were here.

The audience chamber for the queen of Nadare turned out to be occupied, leaving Quartz and his assistant to wait for a short time until a line of dwarves trooped out, each looking stern and trim in brass ringmail and small iron caps. Fetch took a step backward and struck the pose of Respectful Greeting with a short nod of his head and a tug at his smooth chin, which made the lead dwarf return the gesture out of instinct, although he stopped with his own broad hand on his wire-wrapped beard.

“<By the Depths, what happened to your face?>” said the dwarf with a growing smile. “<You’ve got less hair than a peach.>”

“<Traded my beard for a set of stilts,> responded Fetch in what little of the Deep Language he knew. “<The view is better up here.>”

The dwarf paused with wide eyes before breaking into an enthusiastic laugh and a few sentences of Deep so rapidly that Fetch could not even catch a word.

“<Mercy, Mine Supervisor,> said Fetch when he could break in. “<I can take a few drink orders and make change, but my skill with your tongue is…>” Switching languages, Fetch added, “I just worked at an inn and know a few phrases.”

“Still impressive for a human,” admitted the dwarf, clapping Fetch on the shoulder before looking up at Quartz’s more impressive bulk. “My word. A bridge troll all the way out here. Lost?”

“Nay, I have a map.” The troll promptly produced the map and rolled it to show the area where the bridge was going to be placed, followed by his practiced description of the construction process in exquisite detail. The elf-princess was less than impressed and moved slightly closer to Fetch’s side while Quartz continued to talk with his appreciative audience.

“Is the troll like that all the time?” she asked quietly and far too close to Fetch’s ear for him not to twitch.

“Well… yes,” admitted Fetch. “Quartz is really quite brilliant. I’ve learned more about mathematics and construction in the last few weeks than in my entire life.”

“Really?” The elf regarded him with green eyes between lowered lashes. “At least you could be slightly useful to him.”

That sparked a bit of resentment in Fetch that cut through his distraction at her appearance like a hot knife. “I am useful. In my village, I learned how to turn staves for barrels, forging the seven types of shoes, thatched roofs better than any resident, and made wooden shingles for the rest. I was given permission to use every tool in the carpentry shop, half of the stonemason floor, most of the leatherworker tasks, and Mrs. Triana trusted me to make her dinner casserole without any supervision at all. Oh, and I was quite useful harvesting trees in the forest with the lumber crew, although I never received permission to work at the mill. I know the Seventeen Herbs, can sew up a wound better than any of the villagers, and I’m the first to be asked to care for any of the sick or to help an animal give birth.”

He must have raised his voice while admonishing the young elf-princess because all of the dwarves were looking at him with expressions of mixed curiosity and caution, and Quartz was caught with one of his drawings half-unrolled.

“Beg pardon, Your Highness,” said Fetch quickly. “I did not mean to offend.”

“No offense taken,” said Tula. “Now, if you gentlemen are done discussing your bridge, Queen Vivia is waiting.”

* * *

Fetch was determined to stay completely quiet for the rest of the trip, with perhaps the occasional nod or grunt suitable to his station. He may have let loose a slight gasp when the doors to the audience chamber were opened by one of the armored guards because the room beyond was far more like what he expected. Large glass windows segmented into thousands of small panes filled the area with a colorful light that illuminated a large desk with a fairly small woman behind it.

It only took a glance for Fetch to realize she was the queen, despite a certain lack of crowns or voluminous robes. Then again, well-dressed in this warm spring weather would mean hot and sweaty, and a queen did not have to bow to every social custom when she could make them herself. Much like her daughter, Queen Vivia wore loose-fitting clothing, but with a long embroidered skirt instead of Tula’s rather unexpected trousers. That was where the comparison ended abruptly, because every single exposed bit of cloth on the queen was stitched into fascinating patterns including a colorful kerchief to hold back her flowing golden hair.

That one glance was all that Fetch allowed himself. The important people were talking, and his role in this was not to mess things up. He still had an urge to go fetch a few tankards of dark beer for the discussion, much like he had done at home when important visitors arrived at the inn, but a queen certainly had people to do that for her. Instead of watching the queen, he watched the room, and there was a lot to watch.

For starters, what was not in the room seemed curious. The queen of a fairly small kingdom should have at least had several guards close at hand, doubly so when meeting with a large bridge troll. The guard at the door merely had a breastplate and ornate helmet, and neither the queen nor the young lad to her side handling papers had any kind of protective armor. Likewise, several of the windows were open to the fresh breeze, allowing a collection of colorful flowers inside to provide refuge to several hummingbirds who flitted in and out like they owned the place.

It was far more comfortable than Fetch expected, more like the family room back at the inn than anything he had heard about from the merchants and travelers in their common room. With the queen and Quartz bent over the parchments spread over the table, Fetch had plenty of time to look around at the quality of sculpted iron torch cressets woven into the shape of ivy and the woven tapestries depicting a number of noble knights in full armor fighting on a grassy plain. He unconsciously turned around while observing, scuffing his new boots along the dense carpet as he soaked in the surroundings.

Unfortunately, when he finished his slow turn, he found the queen looking curiously at him as if he had been saying something under his breath, or possibly passing gas.

“Fetch, you said.” It was Queen Vivia’s turn to give him a long look, ending with a sharp nod. “Foundling, I presume?”

“Yes, ma’am. I mean Your Highness. Your Majesty, that is.” Fetch swallowed even if he did not have anything to swallow, because otherwise he would have to say something.

“He only cleans up well,” said Princess Tula unexpectedly. “Mother,” she added in a cautionary tone.

Fetch looked back and forth between the two royals, then cast an imploring glance at the young lad who had been helping with the paperwork. Other than a shrug, he received no useful response. Unfortunately, Tula did.

“Mother is looking for a handsome prince to pair me up against,” she growled. “A foundling abandoned by a princess in some distant land would be just about perfect. You’re not a prince. You don’t have any of the prince-like quantities—”

“Qualities,” corrected Fetch despite himself.

‘ —like some royal companion like a golden wolf or weasel or something,” continued Tula like he had not said a word. “A bridge troll doesn’t count.”

“Not in that regard,” said Quartz quickly. “We don’t get involved in that kind of nonsense. Asides, if’n he was some sort of secret royal prince, he’d have some sort of royal birthmark or family sword. Only thing he’s got is that notched hunk of tin he stole from King Seiki’s army, and that ain’t worth melting down for nails.”

Queen Vivia turned her attention to Fetch again, only with a bit more interest. “You fought against the usurper king?”

“Wasn’t a fight at all,” admitted Fetch, feeling increasingly uncomfortable at the attention. “I was too sick to evacuate the village when his army approached, so I was captured. Then when a bunch of them got sick too, I ran away. With a horse and whatever I could grab,” he had to add at the sparkle that appeared in the queen’s eyes. “Not a noble steed by any measure, but a lot faster than on foot.”

“A poor army indeed that cannot guard prisoners or post patrols,” said the queen. “Nor see to the health of their soldiers.”

“They have a wizard,” said Fetch, wishing that he could take back the words the moment they left his mouth. His regret must have shown in his face because the queen did not swat him down at the obviousness of his impulsive statement.

“The same wizard who put up the bridge in the first place,” said the queen instead. “You didn’t know that?” When Fetch shook his head instead of responding, she continued, “Married my husband’s second cousin in Plock. Terrible scandal, of course. Married for love instead of the appropriate family. Nobody was stupid enough to object, of course.”

“Because he’s a wizard,” said Fetch, feeling just slightly less imbecilic.

“Don’t get the idea that wizards are unstoppable,” said the queen again just like she was talking to another person instead of somebody in her position speaking to a common servant boy. “Two wizards together can beat one wizard, if you can get two wizards together, of course. Lubomia isn’t nearly powerful as a wizard, but somehow the usurper has both her and the Wizard of the Bridge under his thumb. Any information we can gather could prove useful.”

“I didn’t see much of his army,” protested Fetch now that he could see where this conversation was going.

“You see more than you admit,” said Quartz. “Here, I’ll show you.” The troll pulled the last few pieces of parchment from his satchel, then put the bag over Fetch’s head in one quick motion. “You’ve been looking around like your head’s on a pivot since we came in here. Let’s hear what you’ve seen.”

* * *

It seemed like a simple request, but the longer Fetch described the audience chamber, the more details floated to the top of his mind. Since nobody was telling him to stop, he detailed everything he could remember, from the number of lines in the flowerpots to the colors of the birds who were flitting among the blooms. He slowed down after a while, caught with his descriptions of the torch cressets and the number of iron spikes around their circumference. There was a portion of Quartz’s training that determined how many objects around a circle were optimal for supporting a structure, and it clashed with the odd spacing of the cressets to the point where he really wanted to take off the bag and see one for himself.

“Impressive,” said the queen from outside in the darkness.

At least she sounded impressed also, or Fetch might have tried hiding the rest of himself into the troll’s satchel. He really was not used to being the center of attention, and particularly not for nobility, even one from a relatively small kingdom. Although he could not see, his ears were working just fine, and he could hear low whispers between the queen and her aide although he could not make out what they were saying.

“He was wrong about the hummingbirds,” said Princess Tula.

“They’re not all hummingbirds,” corrected Fetch rather quickly. “Some of them are… something else,” he finished weakly.

“Pixies,” said the queen. “I presume you’ve never seen their kind before.”

“No, Your Majesty,” said Fetch, wondering if somebody was going to take the satchel off his head or if he was supposed to do that himself.

“Pity. If you are to make your home near the old wizard’s house, I presume you are going to learn about a great number of creatures you’ve never heard of before.”

Light cascaded around Fetch as the young lad who had been sitting at the table removed the satchel and handed it over to Quartz. Fetch attempted to blink his way back into seeing while the queen added, “Prince Polarius will take you to meet my husband. While you tell him all you can recall about the ursurper’s forces, your employer and I will work out an agreement in regards to the bridge. Pol, be respectful of the young man. I suspect we will see more of him in the next few years. He has promise.”


Comments ( 2 )

More Georg?:pinkiegasp:

I must inquire further:rainbowdetermined2:

One inquiry later

never rush your muse. it will let you know what story to work on when the time is right.

though i am looking forward to one of this updates.

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