The Mysterious Minstrel
Someone was pushing me. “Wake up, Kinsey, wake up! Put your hood on!” Crimson. It was Crimson, nuzzling me. Instinctively, I yanked on my hood as I jumped to my feet. Something was crashing through the trees. The branches parted and out stepped a huge troll. It stomped towards Crimson and she reared up, lashing at it with her hooves, but it side swiped her with its massive arm and sent her flying. She fell to the ground and lay still.
Looking at her, the troll lifted his club. He was going to pound her to death! I ran at him with my dagger raised above my head and threw myself at his leg, pushing my dagger through his rock-like skin with all my strength. I only reached above his knees.
He grunted and lifted his leg. I was still hanging onto the knife as I was raised off the ground. Somehow the troll grasped me around the middle and let out a surprised yelp. He couldn’t see me, but he could feel me. Was he going to crush me?
I held onto my knife and it came away from the troll’s leg as he yanked me up to his face. I should have tried to stab him again but I was petrified with fear. The troll brought me close to his eyes and squinted; then he sniffed me and a disgusted look made his face look even uglier. Next, he shook me and I thought my head might fly off my neck. That’s when I realised my pendant was getting hot.
He opened his mouth wide and I could see all his crooked, broken teeth. His foul breath nearly suffocated me and I found my voice, and my hands. Calling out “Stop Now” I slashed at his mouth. My pendant let out a blast of light directly into his eyes.
The troll’s hand opened and I fell, hitting the ground hard. Winded, I lay, gasping for breath as he staggered, clutching at his eyes. I managed to roll out of his way, but my whole body ached, and my hood fell off. Grabbing my pendant, I called out again, and another blast of light cut through the air and sliced across his face.
Yowling, he turned and ran back into the woods, crashing through the trees. Birds screeched into the air, making the darkness even blacker as they filled the sky and flew away. After a while his yowling got further and further away, and the forest settled back into its night-time sounds.
As I dragged myself over to Crimson, something flittered above my head and landed on her neck. It looked like a baby dragon. It couldn’t be! Then it sniffed Crimson’s ear and made a some strange noises.
What if it burned her ears?
Pushing myself to my feet, I yelled at it. “Leave her alone you ugly dragon!” It squawked and flew into the air.
“Don’t you hurt my dragon!” said an angry voice behind me. I hobbled around to face a girl, my age, with wrathful green eyes. She made a few clicking sounds and the baby dragon flew to her and rested on her shoulder.
I stopped waving my hands around. “You own a dragon?”
“Don’t look so shocked. You have a pet unicorn. If it’s still alive.”
“I’m nobody’s pet,” Crimson said, lifting her head.
“Poisonous Pixie Pus! It talks!” the stranger said.
I dropped to my knees beside Crimson. “What happened?” she asked.
“Do you remember the troll?” I asked.
“Yes. A troll!” She staggered to her feet. “There haven’t been trolls in the kingdom for years. Where could it have come from?”
The girl coughed and Crimson turned to her, a look of surprise on her face. “Who are you?”
“Name’s Jola. And this is Fierce Firelord.” She pointed at her dragon. “And that troll was being controlled by a minstrel with a magic flute. This weezly-looking man woke him up and told him he’d been followed by a unicorn…guess that’s you.” She pointed at Crimson. “And an annoying brat. Guess that’s you.” She pointed at me. “Then he sent the troll to kill you both. Who are you?”
“I’m Kinsey, and this is Crimson,” I said, placing my hand on Crimson’s neck.
“Oh. I thought you might be. Not many unicorns left in the kingdom. You two saved us all from the Snake, didn’t you?”
“Not by ourselves,” Crimson said. “It was a huge battle. You’re a fairy, aren’t you?”
She sighed. “Yes, I am. I wanted to fight in the battle, but the Queen forbade any of us to go. Says fairies can’t help humans until they return the gems they stole. But that was decades ago.” She thumped a fist into her other hand. “Stupid Queen.”
“The Queen has many issues to consider, Jola. Fairies are not the easiest to rule. Have your wings grown in yet? They’re not showing,” Crimson asked.
“Of course they have. Wouldn’t be wandering around near the Jagotchy Forest by myself if I couldn’t fly.” She turned around. Her leather jacket had two slits running down her back. Protruding from each one was a curled up wing.
I whistled. “Fantastic! I wish I could fly.”
She smiled at me. “It’s pretty fun. My wings only came in a month ago. Still getting used to them.” She unfurled them and they shimmered as they flapped together. Fierce lifted off her shoulder and started hovering nearby.
“Beautiful,” I said.
“Why are you here by yourself, Jola, if you’re wings have only just come in? It’s not normal for young fairies to be this far from home by themselves,” Crimson asked.
“There’s no time for that now.” Jola’s wings curled up again. “That wheezly man will come back with that troll for you two any minute. Said you’d seen him take the map and they need to kill you. But if I show you where they camped, we could hide and when they come back the four of us and your magic light necklace, we might be able to capture them.”
“Four of us?” I asked.
She touched her dragon. “Four including Fierce.”
“Of course,” Crimson said, a slight smile tickling her mouth. “Can he breathe fire?”
Jola’s hands shot into the air and she shouted. “No, he can’t, alright! He can’t breathe fire or even smoke. He’s too small, and he can’t fly very high. It doesn’t matter! Nobody should kill him for it.” She lowered her arms and crossed them. “I shouldn’t be here. Stupid idea trying to help you. You probably won’t help me anyway. Nobody ever does.” She turned to leave but Crimson trotted in front of her and blocked her.
“Calm down, Jola. There’s a troll out there. You don’t want it to hurt you or Fierce. We should stay together. We should definitely try and capture him before he hurts someone. Let’s check out their camp site, like you said.”
Jola took a few deep breaths. “All right then. It’s this way.”
A. Just then Fierce flew straight for my face, squawking, his claws out. I fell to the ground and an arrow whizzed over my head, missing me by inches.
B. Crimson sniffed the air. “There’s wolves nearby!” she called.
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It’s Launch Month!
“The Battle of the Snake” is now available!
I hope you like the cover… there was a lot of work to get the “Snake” scary..but not too scary..the illustrator’s first attempts had me running to my room and hiding under my blankets.
I’ve added a few new illustrations and improved the map and the writing. You can grab your kindle copy until the end of October for only USD0.99cents on Amazon here.
Preview most of the first chatper here: tinyurl.com/Kidsfantasybook
I didn’t receive any pet photos this month, so instead I’ve got a short clip of my three-legged cat attempting to climb in our mezzanine-floor office window from the first floor roof. Determined, huh?
If you would like your pet featured on the next chapter page, please email me at: “kc at karencossey dot com” and send me a photo and a few details. I’d love to share them with our book club community.