The Quest Begins

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

There were whispered rumours of people going missing on the dark fringes of the old oak forest. King Harold, in his wisdom, decided to send his valiant son to seek out the menace. When the Prince heard of his mission he was perturbed. He said the expected “yes Father” and “of course my King” but could not keep the scowl from his face. He departed alone the next morning to search for the unknown danger.

As he was riding towards the dark oak grove where blackness reigned and evil lurked he kept thinking there really should be a contingent of soldiers with him. “We do have an army” he muttered to himself, “where did this custom of the lone knight come from in the first place?” And what if there is a dragon? The very thought of a dragon made him stop his horse in its tracks. His silver armour glistened in the sun, his horse, clad in the same silver plate, sparkled but on the inside the Prince did not feel up to the task. He looked back at the Castle perched on the mountains. He so desperately wanted to go back but his chivalrous honour drove him forward. If I see a dragon, I am going to ride back and tell everyone to leave this wretched area, I mean, one man can’t be expected fight a dragon. Then he laughed at his own frightful thoughts. There aren’t any dragons, everyone knows they are long dead by now. His mood lightened and he felt quit courageous all of a sudden. It’s probably a bear eating all these peasants, I can take a bear quite easily. And with that he kicked his horse and continued his journey happily the thought of saving the land from the evil menace. If I do meet a bear or lair of wolves, I think I will tell everyone it was a dragon anyway. Prince Harold, The Dragon Slayer, he thought to himself, I like that.

The already dark oak forest was quickly turning black. It was a full moon this night so a few rays of moonlight penetrated the dense forest canopy. Trolley was digging up the roots of an oak tree and as usual was stuffing his mouth with the dirt-encrusted roots. The odd worm added a hint of flavour that only a troll would appreciate. Trolley knew the forest intimately. He could tell what areas of earth would uncover night crawlers, garden worms, red worms or oak jumpers. There were all sorts of worms in the forest and they all gave the roots some sorely needed flavour. The worms were especially welcome if you had not eaten any proper meat in a long time and for a troll that means any amount of time. Tonight was a feast of oak roots and a hint of red worm. When eating roots Trolls also appreciated the type of dirt and its different textures, but only a troll would be interested in that kind of culinary detail.

Not too far from Trolley, in the town of Trollden, there was a different feast going on altogether. It was definitely a night for “not misery” as the troll folk would say. In fact, if there was a word for celebration in the troll language they were doing it. All the Trolls were jumping up and down. It was quite the sight to behold, a frightful clan of trolls feeling delight. Their jumping was really more like plodding up and down but it made a thunderous booming sound. One troll named Troller was also making a kind of rough music by banging on the side of a tree with a log. Well suffice it to say, the sound that echoed through the forest this night would terrify the strongest of heart. It was an unimaginable scene of gargantuan trolls jumping up and down, which they considered dancing, and banging on trees. Bang boom. Boom Bang.

Trolley knew from these sounds that someone had become King for the day and he rushed from his hole to join in the festivities. He got there just in time with his mouth watering. The trolls were tearing apart some hapless group of chaps. Troller was the King this night and Trolley went over to kneel before him with outstretched arms. In return for this show of respect Trolley was handed a pair of legs. This was Trolley’s lucky night. There was a bonfire that the trolls jumped up and down around and Troller went back to banging on the big tree. Among the calamity of noise from trolls jumping and trees banging another troll began roaring. The roar was an ancient troll song but any onlooker who couldn’t understand the sophisticated nature of troll culture would be horrified, and an onlooker there was.

Prince Harold gave a big gulp and looked out right horrified as he spied on the celebration. The vibrations from the trolls jumping felt like an earthquake that rattled his teeth. He didn’t think it was a celebration at all. He thought it was a nightmare to run from, and run he did.  If only it was a dragon, he thought frantically. He got back to his horse and started to ride at full gallop in the dark. He took off with such speed it was a miracle that his horse didn’t fall into a troll hole.

He flew out of the wood, over the hills, past the brook and into a small hamlet. He rode directly to the baron of the land who had a small keep with a single small tower to the side. He knocked on the keep’s large wood door. Soon a small framed man in white bed clothing opened the door. He had on a pointed sleeping hat and carried an old lamp.  He was an older gentleman, with a courteous manner too him. His round rimmed spectacles gave him an odd look, since they never sat square on his nose, but were always a little crooked.

“Baron Blackmoor” the Prince spoke out of breath. “I am on the King’s quest to vanquish the evil in this part of his kingdom and request lodging.” He could hardly believe those words came out of his mouth. “Come in, come in” the Baron ushered him in.

They walked into a large lavish room and the baron immediately rushed over to the fireplace to stoke the dwindling embers. He put a few logs on it and then poked it a few time with the fire poker hanging nearby. The room had many animal skins such as bear, elk and sheep littered about the floor. The mantle of the fireplace was lavish marble, there were candle holders of silver about, and the chairs were comfortable and numerous. It was the living room of a baron indeed. There was a kettle on a pot hook just above the fire and the baron produced a cup to start pouring. “I am so very glad you have come, I am at my wit’s end. I wrote the King some time ago, but I suppose he was pre-occupied with the joust. I am so glad you have come to save us”

“About that” said the Prince. “The situation is more dire than anyone could have imagined.” He said truthfully. “I think I am going to need…” a long pause as the Baron looked at him intently. “Well, I’m going to need help” He confessed, not feeling absolved in any manner, but more condemned than ever. “Help?” accused the Baron, “Whatever for? You’re the champion our hamlet has waited for.” The prince sighed and hung his head, “It’s a large group of giant trolls” Then the Baron sighed too. There was a long pause as they both reflected on the situation. “This is worse than anyone could imagine, you are going to need help.”

They dined on a small midnight snack of salted beef, baked bread and butter as they sipped their tea. The talk centered around the situation that they found themselves in. Although the room was warm and the company congenial the mood was solemn. “Have you ever heard of an alchemist?” The Baron asked. “Of course, a potion maker” replied the Prince almost with a quip. Who doesn’t know what an alchemist is, he thought to himself. “But I thought that the craft fell out of fashion.” stated the Prince.

“It has, it has, but I know an alchemist who isn’t so unfashionable. I shall send for him in the morning” said the Baron.  “Come get yourself cleaned up, refresh yourself and we will talk of a plan in the morning.” The Baron said consolingly to the young prince. The prince didn’t hear this as he was already asleep in the large chair by the fire.

To be continued..