The Storyteller

Tell me a story, please,

Of a princess with long black hair

Wearing a gown spun from silver spider’s threads.

Her voice croons soothing words

To still children’s anxious minds.

Maybe there’s a prince

Stuck in a troll’s dank cellar

Begging for rescue

as his red hair grows longer by the day.

His once handsome face is gaunt

And his arms bear bites from rats and mice

The princess, never interested in balls and gowns

Mounts her armored horse and rides through the gates

In search of the prince, her childhood friend.

Flowers bloom in the meadows and birds sing overhead

Rivers gurgle happy tunes and springs bubble forth

Night falls just as she reaches the edge of the forest.

Hagg’s Forest, a dark and gloomy place

Filled with all kinds of frightening beasts

But she’s not scared for she carries a magic sword.

In the morning she dons her armor and enters

Ready for whatever comes.

Instead of monsters, little fairies dance

Around her head, whispering soothing words

As she rides through the gloom.

A bridge appears. Wooden rails.

Granite chunks of rock neatly arranged.

A muddy debris-filled stream underneath.

The princess readies herself

For this is the home of Grammie, the troll

Known far and wide for her love of men.

Fearing danger, the fickle fairies fly away.

The princess unsheaths her sword and calls

In her loudest voice, “Grammie, come forth.”

Much gravelly groaning ensues as the troll comes forth

Dressed in leather britches, boots and apron.

Her golden hair streams down her back

Arms thick as columns wave in salute.

“Hail, Princess Edme. Haven’t seen you in a while.”

Edme dismounts and wraps Grammie in a hug.

“I’ve been busy,” Edme says with court nonsense.

“But I hear you’ve got a friend of mine.”

Grammie shakes her head. “Nope.”

“Ah, game-playing, are we?

Like when we were kids.”

“Tell me his name first,” Grammie says

As she settles herself in a muddy patch.

“Oscar.”

“Well, he doesn’t call himself that.

Try again.”

Edme thought and thought.

What name could he have given?

“Montrose.”

“Seleen.”

“Jasper.”

Grammie laughed, “You’ll never guess,

So I’ll ask another question. What’s he wearing?”

“Jodhpurs, tunic and boots.”

Grammie slapped her thighs

Triggering a tiny avalanche on a nearby hill.

“Okay, okay. You can have him.

But only on one condition.”

Edme knew about conditions.

Marry the counselor or banishment.

Dress the chicken or starve.

Scrub the pots until your fingers rot.

She’d escaped them all with a smile.

So she smiled as she slid off her horse.

“Grammie, here’s the condition I offer:

Set the prince free or I ride away.”

The resounding chuckle rattled trees.

“Funny. Clever, funny Edme.

You tricked me. I give you the prince

Or you ride away?”

Edme mounts her horse and

Sheaths her runic sword.

“Well, you win the game.

See you next time.

Only choose your princes better.”

“Better? He’s a handsomer one.

Or he was. Now he’s a bit beaten up.

You can have him if you bring me a new one.”

Edme turned her horse around

And rode toward the forest.

“Stop,” Grammie begs. “I’ll give him to you.”

She trundles down the bank, under the bridge

While Edme watches a flock of blue birds

Soaring overhead.

“Edme,” a ragged man whispers

As he is drug up the bank by the troll.

“You came for me.”

Edme looks at his gaunt cheeks,

Bitten arms

Torn tunic and chewed-up leggings.

He stunk so bad that the thought

Of him riding behind her

Makes her gag.

“This isn’t the prince.

I don’t know this man.

You can keep him.”

She whirls about and begins whistling

A jaunty tune to the jingle of the reins.

Grammie’s cackles barely

Cover the screams of the man,

But Edme rides on.

“That’s a terrible story,”

The little girl says.

“What did you think would happen?”

Her auntie asked as she cuddled the girl closer.

“The prince gets rescued.

Everyone gets rescued.

Edme can’t leave him with the troll.

That’s not right.”

Auntie laughed as she ran a brush

Through the girl’s hair.

She kisses the tiny forehead and

Tucks the covers around her shoulders.

“Tell me another story.”

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